Friday, February 27, 2009

Fat Tuesday Cake

Yes, I know it's Friday, and Mardi Gras passed 3 days ago, call me a procrastinator!! We celebrated Mardi Gras with a Vegetarian Gumbo and Cornbread. But, I couldn't let Fat Tuesday pass us by without a fattening dessert. This year I tried my hand at a vegan King's Cake. I made this recipe, which was basically a giant, sugary, cinnamon roll. It was very delicious, and while it wasn't the most unhealthy dessert in the world, for some reason it felt so sinful to have the leftovers the second night!! My cake didn't turn out beautifully, but now that I know what I'm doing I think I can improve it for next year. I didn't have a tiny baby figurine to bake in the cake (and I'm not sure I could have baked a baby in a cake even if I'd had the appropriate figure), and being that the kids were going to be partaking in this dessert I didn't feel safe about hiding a dried bean in it either (it felt like a bit of a choking hazard). Therefore, our cake was without it's good luck charm..........I hope this doesn't mean misfortune for the rest of the year to come.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chocolatey Goodness

Here are a few pics of some desserts we've been eating lately. As many of you know, I was on a major cupcake kick for the biggest part of a year. While I still love cupcakes, and plan to be baking them again soon, I thought it was time indulge in my other favorite sweet treat for awhile....Brownies!!

Until now I've been quite disappointed with vegan brownies. Don't get me wrong, I've made and eaten them. They tasted fine, OK, they tasted good. But they just didn't' have that satisfying, moist gooey goodness that I love in a brownie. I've found most vegan brownies to be dry or cake-like, and to be honest, just too darn healthy. I love health food, I even have strange cravings for it at times, but when I eat a brownie, I don't want it to be health food, ya know?

Flipping through Vegan Planet one day I fast forwarded to the dessert chapter, and saw the recipe for some sort of peanut butter swirl brownie. It really started the brownie craving, but a) peanuts are forbidden in our house, and b) I don't like things mixed into my brownies. Lo and behold, the recipe had an option to leave out the peanut butter. Lucky me, I had all of the ingredients and went straight to work. This brownie recipe is both delicious and gooey. As a matter of fact, best I can remember, it's just like its non-vegan counterpart. I am convinced that what does it for this brownie is the chocolate chips melted in canola oil. This is what lends that gooey brownie goodness. Most brownies call for cocoa powder, which in my opinion just makes them cake. Anyway, if you are a brownie lover, get this book and make these brownies STAT!!

Next up is another recipe that I can't quite remember the exact name of. It comes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. The name of it goes something like this, Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies. Really though, the name's not that important, what you people want to know is, are they good. Good, you ask......these are delicious!! I didn't have enough dark chocolate to chunk, so I combined chocolate chunks and chocolate chips for these cookies. The chocolate and spice is a perfect combination as we finish out these last few weeks of winter.

Speaking of finishing the last few weeks of winter..........I can't wait!! I can't wait for my CSA to begin. I can't wait to get some things planted in the garden. I can't wait for the grocery store to be full of fresh, local produce. I can't wait for the days to get longer. I can't wait to have natural light when I photograph my food!!

To take some of the burden of all of that waiting we are taking the girls to Disney World for Spring Break in a few weeks. We are staying in a cabin at Fort Wilderness, so a lot of our meals will be cooked by me there. But, I am excited to check out our vegan options throughout the park. We have one special dinner planned with the princesses, and when I told them we were vegan and had food allergy issues with Stella the chef from the restaurant called me and assured me that we would all have plenty to eat. I'm also under the impression that both Rice Dream ice-cream and Tofutti ice-cream are available at the ice cream shops in the parks!!! So, expect a Disney review coming up here in a few weeks!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deconstructed Guacamole Sandwich

I'm sure this isn't a new idea, but for anyone who hasn't thought of it, I thought I'd share. My step-dad keeps telling me about this guacamole sandwich he had in Miami. Every time he mentions it I think, "Hmmm, that's a good idea". I'm always up for guacamole, but I don't always want tortilla chips or raw veggies to dip in it. So, yesterday, when contemplating what to have for lunch I finally decided to throw together that guacamole sandwich.

I'm pretty sure that the sandwich my step-dad had was actual guacamole dip on a sandwich, but I decided to save some work and make a deconstructed version of guac to go in my sandwich. Since I already have onions and tomatoes sliced in the fridge all I really had to do was slice open an avocado, and rip off some cilantro tops. I stacked it all up on some sprouted whole wheat bread, squeezed half a lime over the top, topped it with another slice of bread, and it was lunch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Call for Tartar Sauce

Blackened Tofu Sandwiches

The last time I made this Blackened Tofu dish I had the idea to make it into a sandwich on a toasted bun with tartar sauce. Being that I had tartar sauce* left over from the "crab" cakes, last night I did just that. I cooked up the tofu, toasted some sprouted grain buns, then dressed them up with romaine, tomato, onion, and loads of tartar sauce. Served up with some red skinned potato wedges, it was a "seafood" meal that would satisfy any seafood lover.

*The tartar sauce really develops in flavor after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. I suggest making it a day or two ahead of time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Crab" Cakes

This started out as a plan to make Chickpea Sensation Patties from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. However, I came upon this post from Vegan Dad, and decided to change my plan and make these instead. We've had the Chickpea Sensation Patties several times, so it seemed appropriate to take another, Vegan Dad's meals are almost always kid friendly and my kids almost always like them.

Now, I know, in Vegan Dad's post he says these weren't an attempt to replicate crab cakes, but as soon as I read the recipe I thought "crab cakes", and naturally my mind went straight to tartar sauce. It also seemed that I could sell these to Rob a lot easier if I called them "crab" cakes instead of chickpea cakes!

These were out of this world, and the addition of homemade tartar sauce put them over the top. My only complaint is that I could only get 8 decent sized patties from the recipe, and Stella ate 3 of them. So, aside from my toddler, the rest of us were left wanting more. Next time I will definitely double this recipe.

For anyone who's curious, the tartar sauce was just Vegenaise, sweet pickle relish, small diced onions, and lemon juice. I didn't measure the ingredients, I just mixed and added to taste.

And finally, I'll leave you with a shot of our Valentine's dinner................

Orange Sesame Tofu, sauteed sugar snap peas, cilantro lime rice, and mixed salad with cumin lime vinaigrette.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Griddle Sandwiches

On the rare occasion that we ate at McDonald's before our vegetarian/vegan days, I loved their McGriddler sandwiches for breakfast. The sweet maple-y favor of the pancake paired with the savory spice of the sausage was a fantastic combo. So, in an attempt to provide an interesting breakfast for my kindergartner, I made a veganized version of the McGriddler. Just as tasty, and quite a bit healthier to boot!! There's really no recipe to share with this one. I made Isa's pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance (obviously making them "silver dollar" sized). I made a big batch of these in advance and froze them for quick weekday breakfasts. Add one vegan breakfast patty (I have no brand loyalty here, so buy what you like), plus a side of maple syrup for dipping, and it's a quick, tasty breakfast in minutes.

I realize this isn't the healthiest breakfast to send my kid off to school on, but in my opinion, it's better than an empty stomach. She's not a breakfast eater (she prefers to be awake for quite sometime before she'll actually eat), but she will eat this with no reservations. She does like tofu scramblers, but I just don't have the time for that in the morning. It's a struggle to get her to eat cereal, and any sort of "health" food muffin is left on the plate only slightly nibbled. So, short of waking her up at 5 a.m. so she has a few hours before breakfast, this is what she's been getting a few days a week. If there are any other parents with picky breakfast eaters out there, I'd love to here what your kids are eating for breakfast........maybe some sort of breakfast "cookie" any ideas??

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Curried Butternut Squash-Sweet Potato Soup

Hi to everyone still hanging around here!! It's been so long since I've updated I wouldn't blame you at all if you've given up on me!! I do have several things to post about, I'm just having trouble finding the time to actually sit down, transfer pictures from camera to computer, then transfer to blogger, and finally write something interesting about them.

I just made this soup last night, so I guess I'll start with this. It comes from a recipe my mother in law sent over from Ireland, but I did change it slightly, which I hope added to the yumminess. The original recipe did not call for roasting of the squash and potatoes, but I opted to take the extra time and roast them first to intensify their flavors. I just love the taste of roasted butternut squash.

This recipe makes a HUGE batch of soup, and is very filling, so there will be tons of left over soup to freeze. I froze several single serving containers for Rob to take to lunch, and a few double batches to have on hand for quick dinners. Unfortunately the girls weren't big fans and ended up eating Light Life Smart Deli "Ham" sandwiches.

Curried Butternut Squash-Sweet Potato Soup

1 Tbs spoon Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling squash before roasting)

1 butternut squash (weighing a little less than 1 pound)

2 large sweet potatoes (again, a little less than 1 lb)

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbs curry powder

4 cups quality vegetable stock

9 oz plain soy creamer

torn basil leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and dice butternut squash, place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and roast about 25 minutes, until tender. In the meantime, roast sweet potatoes in their skins on same baking sheet. Remove from oven and cool until you can handle the potatoes.

Heat remaining Tbs olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add curry powder and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add sweet potatoes, squash and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Using a hand held blender or food processor, puree soup. Stir in soy cream and heat through. Ladle into serving bowls and top with basil leaves.

I served this soup with a big salad and some home made bread. I'm working on a good whole wheat sandwich bread, but I haven't quite perfected it yet. My girls eat a lot of bread and I hate to give them store bought bread. There are only a few brands that I can buy that haven't been processed on a line with peanuts, and some of those brands don't have the best ingredients in it. So, I've set out on a quest to make my own. I've gotten quite good at specialty breads (thanks to Vegan Dad), but my kids really like their sandwiches on that chewy, airy and not at all crumbly store bought stuff. As of now it's not completely whole wheat because I can't find any whole wheat bread flour. Right now we stand at about 2 parts whole wheat flour to one part unbleached bread flour, but as soon as I find some whole wheat bread flour I hope to have a recipe for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some of our Favorite Juices

Wow, we've had such a strange week....last week we were hit by a major ice storm, which resulted in school being closed for an entire week. Rob was even home from work for 2 days because of the storm. We had a fantastic time playing in the snow, playing Wii, and spending some great quality family time together. We did eat, and I have some photos to post later to prove it, but for now I'll leave you with some of our favorite juice recipes.

Fresh juice is a fantastic way to start your day. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are loaded with concentrated vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, bringing you a fantastic burst of energy for the morning. It's best to drink your juice at least 30 minutes before eating your breakfast so that digestion of your breakfast doesn't interfere with the absorption of vitamins from the juice. And, it's always best to drink the juice immediately after it is prepared.


4 carrots

1 apple (any type)

1 pear (any type)

1/2 inch piece ginger

Run all ingredients through juicer according to manufacturers directions and enjoy immediately.

Super Greens Juice

1 cup tightly packed kale

4 stalks celery

1 1/2 apples (any type)

1 inch piece ginger

1/2 lemon (zest and pith removed)

Juice according to manufacturers directions and enjoy immediately.

Carrot-Apple-Beet Juice

1/2 beet

1 apple (any type)

4-5 carrots

1/2 inch piece ginger

Juice according to juicer directions and enjoy immediately.