Sweet Potato Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Just taking a quick break from my break to say that I made this Sweet Potato Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe from VegNews and it was outstanding! Definitely a keeper. I hope you all are well and I’ll be up blogging again soon.

Bagel Sandwich with Homemade Cream Cheese

After coming off a week of not feeling well, I’ve been slowly getting back into the cooking game. Taking a cue from the latest VegNews magazine, which is packed with lots of delicious recipes, I thought I’d try my hand at making homemade cream cheese.

It’s surprisingly easy: Soak your cashews, blend with plain yogurt and a bit of salt. Let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days and then refrigerate. I’ll admit, the sitting at room temperature thing weirded me out a bit, but the end result was a creamy and tangy cream cheese that tastes like the real deal.

I spread a nice helping onto a bagel and topped it with roasted red peppers, red onion and baby Romaine for a quick lunch.

I hope you all are well!

Negimiso Veggie Dog and Wasabi Fries

This Japanese-inspired veggie dog recipe comes from Terry Hope Romero and is featured in the June issue of VegNews magazine. Miso, cabbage, green onions — the flavors sound a bit odd for a hot dog, but they really do work.

For the hot dog itself, I used the Field Roast Frankfurters, which stood up nicely to all the bold flavors. I wasn’t so sure how well miso would work here, but I couldn’t get enough of the miso sauce. It was so good as a condiment for the veggie dog.

For the wasabi fries, I took a shortcut and used Trader Joe’s frozen fries. I coated them with a little bit of oil before baking, and then sprinkled the vinegar and seasoning onto the fries after they came out of the oven. Also, instead of using the aonori seaweed flakes as the recipe suggests, I used dulse flakes that I already had on hand. The fries provided a nice kick to the veggie dogs.

All in all, a nice variation of an old classic that comes together really quickly and would be perfect for a cookout.

Review: Daiya Cheddar Wedge

If I had a dime for every person who, when they find out I’m vegan, says, “I could never give up cheese!” Let’s just say this blog would look a whole lot better than it does. The great thing about being vegan today is that you don’t have to “give up” anything; you just have to find the right products to replace the ones that you currently use.

I FINALLY got my hands on the new Daiya Cheddar wedges that just hit the market. You would have thought I won the lottery when I spotted them on the shelf. I promise no one got hurt, but I do think I scared a few people.

My first impression was that the package is really small for the nearly $5 price tag. But when I opened the package, I found that the block of cheese is the same size, if not bigger, than a block of the fancy cow’s milk cheese you see at Whole Foods. So, really, the price isn’t so bad.

Reviews of the cheese had led me to believe that it wasn’t very firm, but I found just the opposite to be true when I cut a few slices. Is it as firm as a traditional block of cheddar? No. But it sliced easily and held its shape.

I’ve tried many other brands of block-style vegan cheese and they were all pretty gross. My biggest worry when I heard about the wedges was that they wouldn’t taste very good cold. And I was relieved to find that not to be true. The cheddar had a nice tang to it that worked really well by itself, or with crackers and slices of apple. And I was surprised by how rich it was; a few small slices go a long way with plate of fruit and crackers.

This product certainly gives me more options for my lunch dilemma. I can’t wait to try the other varieties.

Up next this week? I’m making Japanese-inspired hot dogs with wasabi fries, as featured in the latest issue of VegNews. I’m also making a pot pie using my slow cooker. I’ll have posts on those later in the week.

I hope you all are well!

VegNews Features My Hometown

I just picked up a copy of the latest VegNews magazine and I was so excited to see my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, featured in the VegEscape section. The piece was written by Sam Hartman, who writes at The Nail That Sticks Up, a very cool site that discusses veganism, activism, sustainability and more. And I have to say, he did us proud.

The Louisville vegan scene has really come a long way in the past year or so, with the addition of Morels, Heart and Soy, Roots and DakShin, among other eateries. And I feel like it’s only going to get better.

New Product: Daiya Wedge Cheese

Have you heard? Daiya is coming out with wedge-style cheese! I’m a big fan of the cheese shreds, so I’m hoping the wedges are just as good. My only question: How do they taste cold? The story on VegNews offered instances of using the cheese in hot dishes, but I really want a cheese that you can eat with crackers and fruit. I don’t see anything on the Daiya site about the wedges, but VegNews reports that they’ll be out on April 1st. Let’s hope it’s not an April Fool’s joke.

New Product: Gardein’s Ultimate Sliders

I have a confession to make: Back in my meat-eating days, I loved White Castle. And every now and then, when I’ve imbibed a little too much, I crave those little burgers. While I usually satisfy my fast-food urges with a Boca Chik’n Pattie and some tater tots, I was excited to see this new product on the VegNews website. I’m not a huge fan of processed fake-meat products, but in moderation they’re good for those junk food cravings. I’ve not tried any of Gardein’s products, but I’m eager to give this one a shot. I couldn’t find them on Gardein’s website, so I’m guessing they’re still not out in stores just yet. But when I do find them, I’ll give you a review. I guess I’ll have to steal some packets of White Castle’s Düsseldorf brown mustard to go with them.

New Cookbook: Big Vegan

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. Sorry for that. Things have been so busy at work. Not that I’m complaining, but this blog has definitely taken a back seat.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with vegan food. A few weeks ago, I picked up a new cookbook, “Big Vegan,” by Robin Asbell. It certainly lives up to its name. The book has so many different recipes, it’s overwhelming. What caught my eye were the various sandwich, wrap and salad recipes since I always seem to have trouble coming up with lunch ideas. So far, I’ve made the Fast Broccoli Kale Sandwiches with Tahini Sauce and the Summer Corn Soup with Edamame Garnish. Both were good, but they didn’t knock my socks off. Still, I’m excited about the possibilities.

On another note, we invited some friends over for dinner and movies to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season, which is our absolute favorite time of the year. With the cooler temperatures finally moving in, I decided to make a big pot of chili and banana cream pies. I found the pie recipe in the June 2011 issue of VegNews magazine.

The pies were extremely easy to make, especially since I opted to buy store-bought pie crusts. (You can find vegan pie crust at Whole Foods. I picked up a pack of two for less than five bucks.) Now, the pies were certainly not the most attractive, but they were delicious. (The pie picture in VegNews is actually a stock photo, which was part of a big scandal with the magazine a few months ago.) And the MimicCreme whipped topping that I used, while also tasty, would not stiffen up, so I just spread it over the tops of the pies. Still, I highly recommend giving the recipe a try if you’re a big fan of banana cream pie.

And speaking of pie, I am super-excited about the new pie cookbook coming out this month from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, “Vegan Pie in the Sky.” If it’s anything like their other two dessert cookbooks, I’m going to need to step up my exercise routine to offset the extra calories.

Anyway, I hope everyone is well!

Update: I had the chance to make the tofu egg salad recipe in “Big Vegan” and it was delicious!! It’s a little more time consuming than my usual tofu egg salad recipe, but so worth it.

Satisfying Sleek

I love VegNews. Whenever I’m feeling a little blah about cooking, I like to look to past and current issues of the magazine for inspiration. Unlike Vegetarian Times, which I also love, VegNews is 100 percent vegan. It’s the perfect mix of recipes, articles, facts about veganism, and product reviews.

The most current issue arrived in my mailbox just a few days ago and it does not disappoint. The first recipe that I spotted was this Satisfying Sleek. It’s a Lebanese pilaf made from bulgar wheat, black-eyed peas, kale or swiss chard, and a baharat spice blend that consists of black pepper, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Unfortunately, I could not locate fenugreek at the grocery stores in my neighborhood. I’m sure I could find some at one of our Middle Eastern grocery stores, but I didn’t have the time to drive across town to get it. So, I just left it out.

Anyway, the pilaf is surprisingly flavorful despite its simple ingredients, and it smells incredible! Aromas from the spice mixture filled my kitchen. I doubled the original recipe so that we would have leftovers for dinner the next day. I also served it with a dollop of hummus and lavash bread that were leftover from our Roasted Red Pepper and Hummus Wraps.

Satisfying Sleek (adapted from VegNews)

Serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:

1 cup bulgar wheat
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 cups swiss chard or kale (I used kale)
6 scallions, chopped
4 tsp baharat spice blend (see below)
2 15 oz. cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Baharat Spice Blend:

1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

Place bulgar into a large bowl, cover with the vegetable broth and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft. Add the kale, scallions, black-eyed peas, spice blend, and bulgar mixture to the pot and bring what liquid is there to a boil (my bulgar had soaked up most of the broth, so I added a half cup of water to the pot). Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper.

Serve with hummus and lavash bread or pita.

Enjoy!