Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cookies n' Cream Cupcakes

I finally got my hands on a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. With 2 birthdays coming up in less than a month I thought it was time to expand my cupcake repetoire a bit. Now comes the fun part.......sampling these yummy recipes in search of just the right cupcakes to make for the girls parties!!
Our first test was Cookies n Cream. Very, very good, although the icing is a little too sweet for my tastes. I will definately make these again, only I'll add less powdered sugar in the icing, and I'll also use less soy milk, as the icing didn't set up as firm as I like it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chili Dogs

This is the most unhealthy meal that's been served in my house in quite some time.........but oh was it good!! Onion rings aside, it wasn't really all that unhealthy, or at least not as unhealthy as it's disgusting meat filled counterpart. OK, so heavily processed soy topped with processed soy isn't really healthy, but hey, at least it won't give me cancer or clog my arteries, right? And, there were no unmentionables in our wienies!!

Our chili dogs consisted of grilled Tofu Pups, WFM 365 brand vegetarian chili (which is mostly beans and relatively little TVP), sliced pickles, sliced onions and classic yellow mustard. The kids really loved these. I told Rob that all we needed was a delicious vegan milkshake along with dinner and it would have been like eating at a vegan DQ ;)

Tomato Roasted Garlic Soup

I don't typically serve soup in the summer months unless it's gazpacho, or some other chilled soup. However, yesterday I planned to make some falafel but failed to soak the garbanzos over night and had to come up with an alternate plan. That alternate plan was this Tomato Roasted Garlic Soup that I've been wanting to try for a long time now. This soup was so delicious, even on a hot and humid summer evening. It had a very fresh flavor and was very light compared to the heavier, creamier cousin cream of tomato soup.

To go along with the salad I made the Pita Panzanella from May's issue of Vegetarian Times. I always want to make panzanella, but Rob has a serious aversion to even slightly soggy bread, so bread salad isn't a great choice. This version however replaces the typical bread with toasted whole wheat pita triangles. I toasted the pita longer than the recipe suggests in order to get them nice and crispy so they would hold up against the lemon-mint dressing. I realize that since the pitas didn't absorb the flavor of the dressing this isn't actually panzanella, but it was a terrific salad, regardless. A perfect summer evening meal.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Golden Bowl

This is a recipe from I think June's issue of Vegetarian Times. It comes from The Grit restaurant in Athens Georgia. It won a spot as one of VT's top vegetarian restaurant menu item picks. I don't know if it's deserving of the award. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but it was really nothing special, just stir fried veggies and tofu over brown's that for stereotypical vegetarian fare? Honestly, I've had better vegetarian items at non-veg restaurants. The one fantastic thing about this recipe is that my kids liked it (it's that lack of complex flavor thing again!!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Layered Rigatoni Bake

A simple pasta dish I threw together that the family just went crazy for. Layers of Quick Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow), Rigatoni, and Tofu-Basil Ricotta from Vegan with a Vengeance. I had intended to stuff each rigatoni with the ricotta, cover with the tomato sauce and then bake. But, as I was stuffing the rigatoni my pastry bag burst open. The rigatoni are too small to stuff with a spoon, so I just layered it all lasagna style and threw it in the oven. It turned out fantastic. I can't wait to use the ricotta again, I have so many ideas for it....stuffed shells, pizza, panini, the possibilities are endless.

Quick Tomato Sauce

1 28oz can Crushed Tomato with Basil

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

2 Tbs Tomato Paste

2 tsp. unrefined sugar

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

Add all ingredients to a sauce pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you have time to. Quick and simple.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

We got some beautiful pattypan squash from the CSA this week, and I just couldn't decide what to do with them. They seemed too unique to just slice up and saute, and I wanted to do something that would more or less keep them whole. Finally, I was inspired by some leftover grains and a big bunch of kale, and I stuffed them. We also got loads of kale this week, and I needed some new ways to use it up. This recipe took care of that! It turned out really nice, and even the girls ate some of it (which is always a good thing if there is kale involved!).

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

4 pattypan squash

1 lb kale

2 Tbs Olive Oil

3 large spring onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup roasted red pepper, diced

1/2 large tomato, diced

1 cup cooked grains (I used a mixture of brown rice and bulgur)

1/2 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp Braggs Liquid Aminos

1/4 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup bread crumbs

4 Tbs. Earth Balance

Start a large pot of water boiling. Once water has started to boil place whole squash in to boil until a sharp knife is easily inserted through the skin, about 10 minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 400. Once squash have cooled, cut a small piece off of the bottom of each squash so that it will set evenly. Cut away tops, scrape out seeds and scoop out the flesh. Add scooped out flesh to the bowl of a food processor, along with kale. Process until kale is completely chopped. In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tbs olive oil. Saute onions and garlic until onions become translucent. Add kale mixture to saute pan, along with roasted red pepper, tomato, Worcestershire, Braggs, and nutmeg. Stir to combine then add grains. Heat through and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture, heaping, into hollowed out squash. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and add 1 Tbs Earth Balance to the top of each. Bake for about 30 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cookies 'n Cream "Nice" Cream

So, it took me this long to find out.....Oreo cookies are vegan!!! However, I didn't use Oreo's for this recipe. Instead I opted for the slightly healthier Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookies. Don't you just love that big open mouth in the background ready to devour this tasty treat!!??

Cookies 'n Cream "Nice" Cream

1 package Mori Nu Organic Firm Silken Tofu

1 cup Silk Soy Creamer

1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

8 Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookies, crumbled

In a small saucepan, heat soy milk and dissolve sugar in the heated milk. Add vanilla. Do not boil. Meanwhile, combine tofu and soy creamer in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl combine heated soy milk, and tofu mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate to chill, then freeze in an ice cream freezer according to machines directions. When ice cream is nearly frozen add cookie crumbles and churn a few minutes more.

Vegan Tzatziki Sauce

Before I get into the sauce, I have to tell you about the new falafel recipe I tried. I've been using a falafel recipe out of an old cookbook for awhile now, and the flavor is really good, but they always fall apart when you go to fry them. So, I decided I'd search around for a new recipe. I found this one, and was intrigued by the use of uncooked garbanzos, so I thought I'd give it a try. The recipe was spectacular, the flavor was right on, and they held together beautifully while I fried them, not to mention they turned a lovely golden brown (which doesn't happen too often when I fry'll recall, I suck at frying!!). I did make just a few minor changes. I omitted the hot pepper, so that the girls would eat them. And, instead of using 2 Tbs of cilantro, I used 1 Tbs cilantro and 1 Tbs mint.

I served the falafel the traditional way, in a pita with some raw veggies. I like them topped with tahini sauce, but decided to give some vegan tzatziki a try. Tzatziki is a cucumber, yogurt sauce that I didn't think would be too hard to replicate. I can only find flavored vegan yogurts here, so I had to use something in place of the yogurt. I happened to have a half container of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be used. I thought maybe that would make a suitable replacement. I thought correctly, the sauce was incredible, and could also be used as a wonderful dip for crudite, or even as a salad dressing (when you're in the mood for a creamy dressing)

Vegan Tzatziki

1/2 container Better than Sour Cream

1/2 english cucumber, diced very small

2 cloves garlic, minced very small

handful of italian parsley, chopped very small

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to marry. Serve over falafel, or as a dip for your favorite raw vegetables.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sweet and Sour Tofu Skewers

My poor husband has been working like a dog this week. He's been up and out the door before dawn every morning, and home late into the night many nights. The girls have hardly seen him, and the extent of my seeing him has been nudging him in the ribs when the alarm goes off at 4:30 am and pushing him out of bed so as not to have the alarm sound again in 9 minutes.

We were assured that he would arrive home early this evening and we were all very excited. Mairin asked me all day "Mommy, what time will it be evening?". The long hours working has resulted in very little eating for him, and when he has eaten, it's surely been less than healthy. Tonight I wanted to fix him something fun and tasty for his arrival home. I'd planned on grilling tofu skewers, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate, and broke out in storms this afternoon, so my skewers got grilled indoors.

These skewers consisted of cubed tofu (marinaded in half a can of crushed pineapple and juice, 3-4 Tbs of brown sugar, and a dash of Tamari), fresh pineapple chunks, onions, zucchini and summer squash (both from this weeks CSA basket). I served the skewers on a bed of romaine (also from the CSA) and with a side of Coconut Basmati rice. The skewers were a big hit, and I was very pleased to see Rob enjoying a nice, healthy meal.

For the girls, I cooked up a small batch of Vegan Dad's Baked Tofu For Kids. Stella really liked the baked tofu, but surprisingly she liked the sweet and sour tofu even more. Mairin, who typically likes tofu, was in a rather obstinate mood tonight, and decided that she didn't like anything I made and opted for cereal instead!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lindsay's Apple Blossom

For Mother's Day Mairin made me a lovely cook book at her preschool. Each kid had to bring in their favorite recipe and the teacher laminated and bound them all with a picture of your child dressed as a chef on the front. It's such a cute little keepsake, but it unfortunately won't get used much here. Our recipe (lentil tacos) is of course one of only two vegan recipes in the book (and I'm quite sure the other is just vegan by coincidence). Some are easily veganizable, but most are so heavy on the animal products that there's no way I could even begin to veganize them.

Mairin's friend Lindsay brought in the only other vegan recipe, and today we decided to give it a try for snack time. It's diced apples cooked inside a tortilla. It's a clever little snack, but would make a fantastic dessert paired with some non-dairy vanilla ice cream, when you need something quick and simple.

Lindsay's Apple Blossom

1 small apple, diced

sugar (I used unrefined)



Place diced apple along center of tortilla. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Wrap burrito style and microwave for 1 min. 30 sec. Let cool a little, and serve.

Monday, June 9, 2008

An Old Favorite (and a new one too!!)

Tonight I made an old favorite of ours. This simple pasta dish is perfect for busy nights, and light enough for a hot evening. The temperatures have been soaring out of control this past week, and we haven't felt like eating much.....which works to my advantage, since I haven't felt like cooking much!! Anyway, I decided it was time to get some real food on the table, but again, the heat really drains the cooking energy, ya know.

This pasta couldn't be easier. Start by cooking your pasta as directed. I recommend penne rigate for this recipe, but any short pasta would do. When your pasta is nearly finished heat 3 Tbs of olive oil over medium-high heat. Mince 6 cloves of garlic and drop them in the hot oil, along with about 10 whole basil leaves. Cook for a few seconds until garlic and basil begin to sizzle. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add one 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes with about half of their juice. Add cooked pasta and simmer until heated through. Serve drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil.

I served the pasta with a simple side of baby spinach drizzled with olive oil as well, along with a baguette from Blue Dog Bakery. The girls devoured this pasta. They either really, really liked it, or they were extremely happy that mommy started cooking again!

For dessert I made another version of my "nice" cream (remember: my name for cruelty free ice cream!!). Tonight I made Mint Chocolate Chip. This is a new favorite!! This flavor got lots of praise from everyone. The peppermint flavor was just right, and was not overpowered by additional sweeteners. I intended to make the finished product green, but they wanted $16.99 for a box of 4 small natural food colorings at the store, so I opted to leave the ice-cream white!!

Mint Chocolate Chip "Nice" Cream

1/2 of a 12 oz package of firm silken tofu (I use Mori Nu brand)

1 cup Silk soy creamer

1/2 cup Soy Dream Vanilla soy milk

1 tsp Peppermint Extract

2 Tbs Brown Rice Syrup

Green food coloring (optional)

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips

In a food processor combine all ingredients up to chocolate chips and pulse until tofu is smooth. Refrigerate for several hours to chill. Freeze in ice cream freezer following manufacturers directions. When ice cream is nearly frozen add chocolate chips while paddles are still churning.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Vegan Pound Cake

In anticipation of more strawberries from the CSA today, I decided I wanted to make shortcakes for dessert. So I set about looking for pound cake recipes. Most that I found called for silken tofu which I just used the last of in a smoothie the other day, so that was out. Most also called for lemon extract, which again I did not have. What to do, what to do?? Improvise!!

Working from several recipes and ingredients I had on hand I devised my only little recipe for

Orange Tofu Pound Cake:

1/3 cup softened Earth Balance
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 package firm tofu
juice of 1 orange (plus 1 1/2 tsp orange zest)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350. In your food processor or blender process tofu with orange juice until smooth. In bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand held mixer) cream together Earth Balance and sugar (unrefined sugar doesn't cream as well as white granulated sugar, but it was all I had). With machine running add baking powder, vanilla, tofu mixture, orange zest and water. Slowly sift in flour until batter forms. Lightly oil 5x6 baking dish and fill with batter. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until top is golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

Thankfully the CSA came through with 4 pints of strawberries this week!! After washing them I sprinkled them with unrefined sugar and allowed them to macerate while we at dinner. Then I served them over slices of Orange Tofu Pound Cake. The creamy topping you see on them is just the other half of the tofu from the pound cake processed in the food processor with 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1 Tbs powdered sugar.

Yum yum, strawberry shortcake is a sure sign that summer is on it's way!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Envelope Please..........

And the winner is..........Adventures in Vegetarianism!! That's right, thanks to all of my loyal readers I've been voted Best Food/Wine/Cooking blog from 2007. My win is your win, I couldn't and wouldn't have been able to do it without all of you.

When I started Adventures in Vegetarianism in October I never expected to have so many readers in such a short time. You have all really inspired me to keep trying out new recipes, and keep sharing my adventure. Many of you even inspired the move to veganism, which I am extremely grateful for. It's great to have such a wonderful community of caring and compassionate people to be a part of. Your support and encouragement has really made the process much easier than I ever could have imagined. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous.

I would also like to thank my family for their patience and adventurous palates. They are always willing to try out new recipes (they don't always like 'em, but at least they try 'em). My husband, Rob, has been so supportive and understanding of the changes our diet has undergone over this past year.........thank you honey!!!

Stay tuned as the Adventure continues in 2008!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for............

Ice Cream!!!!

First up were ice-cream cookie sandwiches. I just whipped up a batch of Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies and made them into ice cream sandwiches using Temptation's French Vanilla Soy Ice Cream. These were a big hit, and so easy to make!

Later in the week I tried the Strawberry Swirl non-dairy ice cream from the current issue of Vegetarian Times. They have a whole section on vegan ice-cream this!! This was delicious, and almost perfect in it's consistency. The only problem with it was that I had to sub maple syrup for agave (as suggested in the recipe) and the maple syrup didn't quite taste right with the strawberry flavor. I'm going to have to play around with the sweetner a little on this one, but it's definitely a keeper. And see those cute, perfectly ripe strawberries on top. They were part of our CSA basket last week. We got 1 quart+1 pint of them, and we're all hoping for more this week!

And finally was this little creation.....Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice-Cream in a Waffle Bowl. Yesterday the girls were eating waffles and it just came over me to attempt making waffle cones. I used my regular recipe for waffles which included baking powder, so no matter how thin I poured the batter on the waffle iron, the dang things kept fluffing up too much to roll into cones, so I improvised and made bowls instead. It was really quite easy. I just removed the waffles from the iron before they were finished and while they were still quite pliable, then formed them over an upside down custard bowl. I then baked them at 350 until they were nice and crispy. I was very happy with the result, although next time I'm going to leave out the baking powder and try to make cones.

I made up the ice-cream recipe as well. Now, I'm not usually one to brag on myself or inflate my own ego, but I must say, this was the best vegan ice-cream I've ever tasted, hands down!! The consistency was right on, just like it's traditional dairy counterpart, and the flavor couldn't be beat. I've decided to call is "nice" cream because it's cruelty free (and nice to taste as well!!). YUM.......I'm so glad summer is here!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nice-Cream

1/2 block silken tofu
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plain soy creamer
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 Tbs. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Recipe Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie dough

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients, except the cookie dough, and blend or process until tofu is creamy. Chill in refrigerator for several hours, then transfer to bowl of ice-cream freezer and freeze according to your freezer's directions. When ice-cream is nearly finished freezing add in 3/4 of the cookie dough while paddles are still running to allow cookie to dough to be combined into ice-cream.

Veggeroni Pizza

It's been quite a while since I made a pizza, so I added it to my menu for last week. I'm happy with just sauce and veggies, no faux cheese, no faux meat. Rob and the kids don't quite agree with me on that issue. So, I bought some Follow Your Heart Mozzarella and decided to make them a "cheese" pizza.

However, when searching around on the Fat Free Vegan I ran across this handy little Veggeroni recipe, and decided to give it a try. Oh man, I'm glad I tried this recipe, these little "pepperoni" are outstanding. I was never a fan of pepperoni before, they are nothing but little grease cups, yuck! These, having no animal fat (or added fat at all) solve that very disgusting problem. It's been quite a while since I've had a real pepperoni, but from what I recall, the flavor of these is strikingly similar. Rob, being a big pepperoni fan of the past was also very happy with this vegan version.
I did make a few minor changes. I did not have mustard seeds, so used dried mustard powder instead. I was also out of Liquid Smoke, so I skipped that step. And of course I subbed tahini for the nut butter, since all nut butters are a no-no around here. Finally, I did not use Agave Nectar (Stella's allergic to it...go figure), but I did use ketchup instead of tomato sauce, so it was plenty sweet.

I diced the left over veggeroni and used it in a tofu scramble on Saturday morning. It was a very tasty addition to the scramble. I'll be making this seitan pepperoni again very soon!

Spaghetti and "Meat"balls

Here it is Monday, and I've been a whole week without blogging. Summer's keepin' us busy and outside more than inside on the computer!! I've got several things to blog that I'll break up into a few posts to make reading easier.

Before we became veg one of Mairin's favorite meals was spaghetti and meatballs. I haven't really found a suitable substitute for her, so when I saw these featured on Vegan Dad I had to give them a try. I've never really liked tempeh before, but I thought grating it would make a difference since it seems to be a texture thing with me. Fortunately, I was right. With the tempeh grated I had no problem eating it at all. These "meat"balls were very good, and definitely were a good stand in for Rob and I. Unfortunately Mairin wasn't a fan. However, I'm quite confident that I can toy with the spicing a little and win her over with a more traditional flavor.

Do you see that purple basil on top??? It's from my garden!! The first thing we've been able to eat out of our garden. Yay!