Friday, July 25, 2008

Coldplay......and a few other things

I apologize for my recent absence. We have been eating, but I just haven't been cooking much that's new, exciting, or blog worthy. Part of my absence was due to the fact that Rob and I headed up to Chicago for a few days to catch Coldplay. The show was phenomenal, Rob won an on-line auction and we had seats in the 13th row!! Coldplay never fails to put on a tremendous stadium show, and this one didn't disappoint, complete with giant orbs dropping down from the ceiling to show live footage of the band, a seemingly endless shower of butterfly confetti, and a few songs on a makeshift stage just feet from where we were sitting. And then of course there's Chris Martin (swoon!). Ok, back to being an adult now........

The concert was nice, and the eating was great. We started our visit with a trip to Jamba Juice for an Acai smoothie. For lunch is was off to the Silver Spoon for some crispy fried tofu, and spicy basil leaves (sans fish sauce). Our dinner was with our good friends Jesse and Holly at Karyn's, and as expected after our last visit, didn't disappoint. We started with Thai Skewers (skewered thin sliced seitan, slathered in peanut sauce). The main course for me was the Seitan Fajitas with a side of guacamole. And, of course, I can't eat at an all vegan restaurant without having dessert, so I finished with a slice of Pecan Pie and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. Yum!! I'm sorry that I don't have any pics for you, I just feel so weird about taking pictures of food in restaurants. We started the next morning with cereal and soy milk from room service, and made a stop at Dao's for Spicy Crazy Noodles with Tofu (again, sans fish sauce)before heading back to the airport. It was a lovely trip of good music, good friends, and good food!!

I do have a few food pics for you, of some things I made last week. First up we have Red Velvety Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing, or something like that , from VCTOTW. I didn't have the full 2 Tbs of red food dye that the recipe called for, so mine aren't as red as I would have liked, but the flavor wasn't affected any. These were awesome!! I think I like the cream cheese icing better than the buttercream I've been making (although, once again, the sugar needs to be cut quite a bit next time).
I also made this simple maple dijon pasta salad last week when we went swimming at my mom's house. All I did was just grill our CSA veggies (squash, zucchini, onion) and toss it with some whole wheat penne, some diced roasted red peppers, and then drizzle it all with a dressing made of dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maple syrup. This turned out awesome. Everyone LOVED it!!

I'm off for another trip to Chicago tomorrow. Going on a girls weekend with a friend, so I'll be sampling some more tasty vegan fare from the Windy City.......who knows, maybe this time I'll get brave enough to snap some shots!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

"The Ultimate" Barbecued Seitan Sandwich

I know it's very un-vegan of me, but I admit, I love The Food Network. It's unfortunate that almost every dish on every show is centered around animal products. None the less, I love food, and I love to watch people cook.

From time to time I'm inspired by something on The Food Network, and come up with a great vegan dish. Take the other day for example, I was watching Tyler's Ultimate, and Tyler Florence was making his Ultimate Barbecued Ribs. There are probably a million different meat analogs I could have used to veganize this recipe, but as soon as I saw Tyler make this barbecue sauce I knew I had to have a barbecued seitan sandwich. Wow, did I ever make a great choice!! This sandwich really is "The Ultimate". Rob, who usually very much dislikes barbecue loved this sandwich so much he ate 2 of them and just couldn't stop raving. And it was another winner with both of the girls!!

For the sandwich I used 1 lb of chicken style seitan. I made the sauce according to Tyler's recipe, only I replaced the bacon with a few dashes of Liquid Smoke. After the sauce had simmered I removed the onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs, then I crumbled in the seitan and let it heat through. I served the barbecue on a bun with some sliced onion. Best barbecue sandwich EVER!!

To go along with the sandwiches I also made Tyler's Ultimate Baked Beans, again replacing the pancetta with liquid smoke. An added bonus of these beans.....I got to use up some of the chipotle pepper I was wondering what to do with a few weeks ago! Again, outstanding dish. The beans had a kick and they were just incredible. Little Stella loved them, heat and all!!

In addition to the sandwiches and beans, we had one of my childhood favorites....cucumbers, green peppers, and onions soaked in white vinegar and salt water. My mom used to make this all of the time in the summer, and I've always loved it. It was perfect for cooling off your mouth after the heat of the beans!!

I can't wait to make this barbecue for my friends and's definitely the next dish I'll be serving guests.

Crispy Baked Eggplant Medallions and Pasta

We got this giant eggplant from the CSA this week. Plus, we got tons of squash, zucchini and tomatoes. So, last night I decided to use up most of it and throw together a little Italian dish. The pasta was a new favorite for all. Mairin asked for seconds, which almost never happens, and then immediately asked when I'd make it again!!

For the pasta I just sauted some of the zucchini and squash in a little olive oil, then added in some minced garlic, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper. When the pasta was cooked I threw it in the pot with the veggies and heated it through, then garnished it with some chopped fresh parsley.

I also made some crispy eggplant. Other than as baba ghanoush, crispy and baked is the only way I like eggplant. You can lightly fry this dish instead of baking it, but baking makes it a little healthier (and my huge oval pots were already taking up all of the space on the stove!).

To make the eggplant medallions, slice one eggplant into slices that are about 1/2 inch thick. Dredge the medallions in flour, then dip in dijon mustard that has been thinned with water. Dip the mustard coated medallions in breadcrumbs. Lie them in a single layer on a baking sheet, season tops with salt and pepper and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy. I like to serve the medallions topped with tomato sauce.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spicy Stir Fried Brussels Sprouts

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a method. But, none the less, I think it's my new favorite way to eat brussels sprouts. I simply shredded them very fine then stir fried them in a mixture of sesame oil and olive oil. When they were almost cooked I added a few splashes of tamari and a few dashes of crushed red pepper flakes. Yum.

I served these brussels sprouts with a terrific Curried Tofu Scramble from Super Natural Cooking. I kind of had it set in my mind that I'd have to fix the kids something different for dinner, but much to my surprise and delight the both gobbled up their tofu scramble and asked for seconds, and thirds!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Yesterday at the grocery store the rhubarb was just calling to me. I passed it up several times, only to be drawn to it again and again. So, it finally made it's way to my cart along with a package of strawberries to be made into a pie.

I used the pie crust recipe I've blogged before, and followed a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. The filling was a combo of the fruit, some sugar, a few spices, and cornstarch as a thickening agent.

This pie was fabulous!! Rob had never had rhubarb before, and he loved it....I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but he ate 3 pieces!!! It really was a fantastic summer pie. As you can see, the filling was a bit runny, and I even added more cornstarch than was called for. I think next time, and yes, there will be a next time, I'll omit the cornstarch and add a little arrowroot instead.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

My baby turned 2 on Saturday, so of course we celebrated with none other than........cupcakes!! I just made basic Golden Vanilla and Chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They were topped with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream and Chocolate Vegan Fluffy Buttercream respectively. Needless to say, the cupcakes were a hit with all of the folks at the party. I made mini-cupcakes, and I believe almost everyone had more than one!!

We also had hummus, pita, veggies, and mini-falafel. All of which were devoured by our guests. There wasn't one falafel left on the tray, and I've had to share the hummus recipe with more than one person since the party!! It does make me laugh though, Stella's probably the only 2 year old that enjoyed having falafel and hummus at her birthday party!!

I haven't been up to much other cooking lately.....we were on a camping trip last week, and I think roasting Tofu Pups over a camp fire hardly counts as cooking.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Muffins x2

Today I spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. We are taking off on a little camping trip tomorrow (well, not really camping, more like RVing) so I spent the day getting ready for that. Mostly I made a lot of old favorites like Giardino Burgers, Snack bars, hummus, Black bean and quinoa salad and of course pasta sauce so my spaghetti lovers can eat their spaghetti. Vegan camping with children (read picky children) is quite a bit of work. I mean, it's not like my kids are going to set down and eat a bunch of grilled veggies, etc. And, after long days of hiking, biking, and hopefully horseback riding they are going to need some serious refueling come dinner time. Therefore I thought it prudent to bring along some of their favorite meals so we can assure adequate eating at dinner. I also gathered plenty of healthy snacks for the afternoons....lots of fresh fruits, raisins, soy yogurts, whole wheat crackers and smooshed fruit.

I also made some muffins for us to have as a quick grab and go breakfast option. There were a couple of really ripe bananas sitting in my fruit dish, so first up was banana oat muffins. The recipe is adapted from a recipe.

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

2 large bananas, very ripe

2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup + 2 Tbs plain soy milk

1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1 Tbs baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl smash bananas. Mix in oil, vanilla and soy milk and set aside. In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix just until combined. Stir in oats. Spoon mixture into oiled muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Next up were these deliciously decadent Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins. They definitely aren't the kind of thing you'd want to serve for breakfast on a weekly basis. But they'll be a great treat for our camping trip, and would make a nice item on a brunch buffet. It's always easy to impress your non vegan friends with a bit of chocolate-y vegan goodness!!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup + 2 Tbs soy milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Add soy milk and oil and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill oiled muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day

What better way to celebrate the 4th than with cupcakes of course!! These were Classic Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Iced with Vanilla Buttercream Icing, piped in star shapes and of course sprinkled with red and blue sugar. Best plain vanilla cupcakes EVER!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Orange Chipotle Glazed Tofu over Confetti Rice Salad

This recipe came from the June issue of Vegetarian Times. It's a broiled and glazed tofu served over a rice and black bean salad. It's a really easy dish, and it provides quite an impressive presentation for the ease of it all.

The tofu is magnificent. Even the littlest one loved it, and it's a bit spicy. The rice salad is similar to the Quinoa Black Bean Salad, only not as good. The next time I make this tofu I'll make the quinoa salad to serve it over instead.

I do have one complaint about dishes that call for chipotle in adobo........WTH am I supposed to do with all of the leftover chipotles and adobo sauce??? I don't know of one recipe that calls for a whole can/jar, and I'm always at a loss to do with the nearly 2/3 of a can that remains. What are your favorite things to do with chipotles and adobo?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More cupcakes

I still have 74 recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World to try out (ok, so maybe a few less since I have to pass on the nutty ones). However, my copy of Vegan with a Vengeance is due back to the library this week, and I couldn't let it go without trying the Coconut Heaven Cupcakes. Yes, it's true that we are probably the only vegetarians in our town, and I'm quite sure we are the only vegans, so I could probably renew the book 100 times over and no one would complain........but, being a good vegan, I keep taking it back and leaving it on the shelves for a few months at a time just hoping someone will stumble upon it and try out a cruelty free diet. Never the less, about the cupcakes................Heaven doesn't even begin to describe them. These cupcakes are out of this world! I made them into mini-cupcakes and they are just perfect for popping in your mouth when you need a little sweet kick!! My experience with other cupcake recipes has taught me that most icing recipes are too sweet for my liking, so I started with just half the confectioners sugar that's called for, and it was just about right. I used slightly more than half of what the recipe calls for. If you have this book and you've never made these cupcakes, go do it now!!


Today I felt like doing some baking, the family loves Vegan Dad's focaccia, so I decided to go with that. I didn't feel like having pasta with the focaccia tonight, so instead I made panini. I had everything I needed to make the Tofu-Basil Ricotta from Vegan with a Vengeance, and I had some tomato and red onion. These were really delicious, and the girls loved them. Typically my kids aren't fans of panini, but these were gobbled up in no time. That Tofu-Basil Ricotta has really been a hit around here. Pair it with the focaccia and you're sure to have a winner.