Friday, March 28, 2008

Lots of Sugar

I knew I would be taking the week I have off from school for spring break as an opportunity to bake A LOT. I just didn't expect to be eating soooooooo much sugar! There has been absolutely no shortage of vegan desserts in my house for the past few days and its truly disgusting, but I couldn't be happier.

I wanted to try the S'mores Cupcakes from VCTOTW ever since I got the book (last year!), but sort of forgot about them until last week when I needed to make a dessert to bring over to my aunt's house. We were going over for dinner and I knew my younger cousins would be there, so this was the perfect treat! I also got to use my cupcake carrier that I got for the holidays last December, which is so cool by the way! I never imagined being able to transport cupcakes without one of them getting smushed! Anyways, I used a combo of Annie's Homegrown Chocolate Chip Bunny Grahams and Health Valley Amaranth Graham Crackers for the cupcake batter and crumbs on top, which was nice since the chocolate chips in the bunny grahams added the tiniest bit of chocolate flavor to the cupcakes themselves. I also topped the cupcakes with the rich chocolate ganache from VCTOTW (I was worried the melty ganache would be to messy to transport these) and then the frosting. Also, I wanted these to taste a little more marshmallowy so I added about 1/4 c. of Ricemellow Creme to the buttercream and reduced the soymilk in the recipe to about 1-2 T. You can see in the first photo that one of the cupcakes in the corner (top right) is decorated a little differently. That one was my brothers first attempt ever at decorating with frosting! He was so proud of it and showed it off to my family for the entire night. When it was finally time for dessert, these went FAST. Seriously- within two minutes of setting these out on the dessert table, they were all gone! I can see why, though- they were perfectly chocolate, but still sweet and spicy from the cinnamon. If you have VCTOTW, go make these now! If you don't, go but the book! You'll totally understand why they're so great.

To add on to all of this chocolaty goodness, I made the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding from Vcon last night because I seem to have a constant bread pudding craving. I've mentioned before that I think bread pudding is an amazing culinary concoction, so that probably explains my love for it. So I made this and my dad was pretty excited since he loves bananas and anything chocolate, and I'm happy to say that this didn't disappoint! I used my hands to mix in the chocolate chips and bananas and was afraid that I may have mushed up the bread too much since it kinda turned into one mushy mess, but it actually made the bread pudding WAY better! Since the bread was really soaked and mushy, it made for a really creamy, flavorful pudding. And the melted chocolate chips didn't hurt either :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Bunny's Gonna be Mad.....

Well, as I've mentioned before (at least I think so....), my family and I are the farthest thing from religious. The only reason that many typically religious holidays have been celebrated in our household is because they have been reasons for us to see our extended family, as well as because we were little kids and demanded as many holidays as possible. This explains why my family still celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., but Easter has never really been that big to my family. So my family decided that this year, we were done with it! Yep, that's right- Easter is OVER. We even decided on a new spring time holiday that we sort of made up (it's really not creative, though) that we're going to try to celebrate next year! But we'll have to wait and see if it actually happens before any of you hear about it. I, of course, still had to take this day as an opportunity to have some good food!

Sort of forgetting the whole brunch idea, I had cereal this morning for breakfast. Not to say that that was bad- I just continued to crave brunchy foods all day. So.... I cracked open my VWAV and Vcon to check out the many awesome brunch options. I wanted something simple, so I went with a nice Tofu Scramble and Tempeh Bacon (both from VWAV). I have been addicted to tofu scrambles lately. Seriously- I have a problem. I've made this recipe, along with many variations on it, at least every weekend lately. IT'S SO GOOD! It's also great topped with some salsa as you can see above! I've actually tried the Tempeh Bacon before, but I made the dreadful mistake of misreading apple cider as one of the ingredients for apple cider vinegar. Oh boy....that was bad. It was excellent this time though, since it was made correctly and all..... My dad was really interested when he saw me making it in the kitchen. he said it smelled just like bacon. The next step: get my dad to actually taste it! I know it's only a matter of time now before his curiosity gets the better of him. MUWAHAHAHA! (sorry, couldn't help myself..)

I made this rice pudding thinking it would be a nice, sunny, spring day today. I was so wrong. It's been snowy as hell for the past few days and the sun just started breaking through today. Great way to start spring, right? Guess that doesn't matter too much, though, 'cause I got rice pudding! I was super happy to find this recipe on the food network website (yes I do watch the food network- Alton Brown is my god) which uses soymilk, so I decided to give it a try. It was just okay. It wasn't as creamy as I was hoping, but it was still alright. Also, and my dad and I (we're the two rice pudding-eaters in the family) both agreed that it needed WAY more sugar, so I added probably an extra 1/2- cup. We also prefer our pudding chilled, so I let it sit in the refrigerator for a good 5-6 hours. It seemed to taste more flavorful and sweet when chilled, so I definitely recommend it if you like cold rice pudding. As you can see from the photo, I served it with a blueberry compote as suggested in the recipe, but I didn't really follow a particular recipe for the sauce- just threw some frozen blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Then, I just threw it in the fridge to thicken slightly and cool down. If you are going to make this rice pudding, you really, really, really, really should make the sauce to go along with it. It was perfectly sweet and amazing! I've never thought of rice pudding and blueberries going together, but I guess you learn something new everyday (most days, at least :) )!

So, to those of you who do celebrate Easter- happy Easter! To the rest of you who are like myself and don't for whatever reason, then happy Spring holiday or non-holiday of your choice!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Epiphany

I have recently discovered the wonder of freshly baked bread. That's right- I made bread! I really have no clue why it took me so long to do this; I'm not intimidated by the idea of baking bread at all. I think I've just never really thought about it and never saw a reason for doing it. However, as my craving for paninis and sandwiches on nice, crusty bread grew more and more over the past few weeks, I knew just I had to have homemade bread. I decided to go with the recipe for No-Knead Bread from VeganYumYum since it was easy and I've heard nothing except damn good stuff about no-knead bread. I didn't realize how sticky this dough got though! I started panicking, but just kept with the recipe and, fortunately, it all worked out. The bread smelled AMAZING as it was baking and I got sooooo excited when I pulled it out of the oven- it was like my little baby! However, this baby grew up rather quickly, and went on to be the proud parent of some rather delicious meals....

Such as vegan french toast! I was looking so forward to trying the Fronch Toast recipe from VWAV, but I couldn't find chickpea flour anywhere! Ugh....... I'm still looking for it in hopes of trying this again when I make some more delicious bread (and you know I will), so I'll just keep my fingers crossed. However, I'm in less of a rush to find chickpea flour since the other recipe I used worked so well! It came out very authentic and it even gets that "eggy" crust when you flip it! I don't have an exact source for it (sorry!), as I just sort of looked at a few different recipes for ideas and added/adjusted a few things. So, now you get my own recipe:

Vegan French Toast:

1 c. vanilla soymilk
2 T. flour (I used whole wheat and it was great)
1 t. nutritional yeast
1 t. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
4-6 slices of bread, depending on the thickness of your slices (stale bread works well in this recipe)

Mix together all of the ingredients except the bread in a shallow dish. Soak the slices of bread on each side in the mixture for about 1-2 minutes. Cook on a lightly greased griddle set to medium-high heat only for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with vegan margarine and maple syrup, fresh fruit, and/or any other toppings you can think of! Serves 4-6.

(No my hand is not giant, that is just half of the sandwich, so it looks very small)

And here's my bread's other fabulous creation! One of my favorite sandwiches ever because it's not overly complicated and makes a light, quick lunch. Now I know, you don't really need an official recipe for a sandwich, but I just love typing up recipes, so here you go again!

Mediterranean Tofu Sandwich:

2 slices of fresh, crusty bread
lettuce (I used romaine because I like the crispness, but use whatever you want)
1/2 small tomato, seeded and sliced
sliced onion
2 T. hummus
1/4 recipe Lemony Garlic Tofu (recipe below)

Okay, now this is pretty easy. Take one slice of your bread (with me so far?), lay down your tofu slices. Now top this with the lettuce, onion slices, and tomato. On the other slice of bread, spread the hummus. Now put this piece of bread on top of the other and you have yourself a sandwich!

Lemony Garlic Tofu:

2 T. tahini
3 T. lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. onion powder
1 t. dried basil (I prefer to use dried herbs for marinades)
2 t. agave nectar
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. tofu, drained and pressed

Mix all of the ingredients except the tofu in a small bowl for the marinade. Slice the tofu very thin and place the slices in the marinade. Let sit for at least a few hours, but the longer it marinates the better it will be. After the tofu has marinated, line a baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tofu slices on a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Then, flip the tofu. The edges may look like they are burning before the 10 minutes is up, but those parts are the best if you like the crispy bits like I do. If not, then flip the tofu a little bit early- no big deal. Bake for another 10 minutes and let cool. I think this tastes best chilled or at room temperature (or on sandwiches!). Serves about 4.

Now, we couldn't forget my paninis I had been wanting! Well... I kinda did. No- I didn't foget to make them! I just forgot, the pictures. Sorry.....but I can assure they were excellent! My family had a "panini night" for dinner using my panini press that I got a few months ago. My brother didn't have a panini and my father and sister had VERY unvegan paninis, so those aren't really worth mentioning. However, my mom also wanted a veggie panini since she has no problem with not eating meat, so I made our paninis with bake zucchini slices, roasted red pepper, grilled onion slices, and pesto. I also put some Galaxy vegan mozzarella slices on mine and my mom put some dairy cheese on hers. Let me tell you, we were both very happy with dinner that night! Too bad I didn't get pictures, but they weren't very photogenic anyways- haha.

P.S.- Today at about 3:00 I officially started my SPRING BREAK! My family never travels during spring break, so you all can expect me to post a little more often for the next week or so because I'll have a lot more free time to just hang out and (of course) make some yummy food!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's day, everyone! I hope you all have enjoyed this day to channel your inner leprechaun. I'm actually a little bit Irish (about 1/2, I think....), so I tend to get very festive on this day. I've also been quite a bitch about pinching people who didn't wear green today- hehe. I don't have any pictures of nice, green food because the holiday sort of popped up out of nowhere this year (not to mention that fact that this weekend was WAY busy!) food for now, but I'll be sure to post some good stuff next time. Once again, enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pizza and Caramel Pretzel Ice "Cream"

I know, I said my next pizza would probably be a barbecue pizza, but I'm think that I might save that for when the weather feels more like summer (right now it's just beginning to feel like spring!). So instead, I made a classic pizza. I really really really wanted to make the Isa Pizza from VWAV, but I had no mushrooms, olives, or pesto- what the hell's up with that? So yeah, I was kinda pissed for awhile since I had the dough from VWAV made and my heart was really set on pizza, but I made the tofu ricotta (also from VWAV) anyways and made the pizza with what I had. It was very simple, but still so very good! I just think I should have added a little more salt to the tofu ricotta since my pizza sauce wasn't very salty and the pesto probably would have added a nice saltiness. I packed some of the leftover slices for lunch last week, and my friends were so impressed! I never really noticed until recently (or maybe I did and never thought about it enough...) how impressed omnivores can be of well-made vegan food. Granted, many are also kind of creeped out, but it's nice to see that not all are like that. Okay, so enough of the pizza- it's time for some sugar!

(yes, this is in a cup that I kept after getting gelato several years ago...)

Using the proportions and method of the ice "cream" recipe from Vegan Ice Cream Paradise, I changed a few things and made my own ice cream! I've been really into the whole sweet and salty combo lately, so I think that's what sparked the idea for this recipe. It is very sweet, but I think it's works rather nicely since there is more salt in this ice cream than most recipes. I also added crushed pretzels to add on to the saltiness and for added texture. Now, I know what you're thinking- pretzels won't stay crunchy if they're frozen, right? Well....yeah, you're right. But, honestly, I don't mind. It's still a nice texture and I kinda like how the soft pretzels bits melt in your mouth, as the ice cream does as well. If you wan't a little more crunch and maybe a new dimension of flavor, try adding some crushed, salted peanuts instead of the pretzels!

Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream:

3/4 c. soymilk (plain or vanilla)
2 1/4 c. soy creamer
2 T. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. vegan margarine
1 t. vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla soymilk)
1- 2 t. salt (depends on how salty you want it)
1/2 c. crushed pretzels

Mix 1/4 c. soymilk with the arrowroot or cornstarch and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the sugar. be sure to stir constantly! I left for maybe 30 seconds, and I ended up burning the sugar and having to wash my pan and start all over again. It's really not fun. Anyways, once the sugar is melted, add the margarine. It will probably bubble up. Slowly (this is important) add the remaining soymilk and soy creamer to the melted sugar. Now, this will definitely bubble up quite a bit, but just keep stirring. Add the salt and cornstarch at this point if you are using it and cook until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and take the mixture off the heat. If you are using arrowroot, add it at this point and the mixture should thicken. Chill this for several hours and then freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. After it is the texture of soft serve, stir in the pretzels and freeze until hardened.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chickpea Cutlet Heaven

I actually made a batch of the chickpea cutlets from Vcon over winter break and froze them all (what else is new?), but for some weird reason I haven't taken any pictures until now. Well, in case you haven't heard- these some major kick ass! Okay, maybe I'm over reacting, or maybe I'm not. Either way, I love these cutlets served with just some simple roasted or steamed vegetables and roasted or mashed potatoes. Being a lover of mustard, I of course had to try these with the mustard sauce from Vcon as well. The sauce is soooo easy and keeps in the fridge for awhile, not to mention it goes amazingly well with the cutlets! But I must say, if you go through the effort (not that they are that hard) of making the chickpea cutlets, be sure to save some for sandwiches. Oh man.... with some l fresh tomato and agave mustard (just mix agave nectar with mustard) on a whole wheat bun...YUM! Alright, so that's all I have for now, but I assure you that within the next week I will try to post a recipe or two!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

(Unofficial) Thai Chick-Un Pizza

Okay, I'll admit it. I unfortunately did not use the real recipe for this dish from ED&BV since I have unfortunately been unable to get the book yet. However, after seeing this post on Dreena Burton's blog, I knew I couldn't wait for the book and had to try to make her Thia Chick-un Pizza myself. It reminded me of the Thai Chicken Pizza that I loved in my omnivorous days from California Pizza Kitchen and had secretly longed for ever since I gave it up- but I no longer have to live without it!

I used the pizza dough recipe from VWAV and topped it with my recipe for peanut sauce from the Tofu Satay that I posted previously. I lightly crushed up one 15 oz. can of drained and rinsed chickpeas and spread those on top of the peanut sauce. That's it, that's all I had to improvise! After that, I just followed Dreena's instructions for all of the toppings, along with some shredded carrots that I put on at the same time that I sprinkled on the chopped scallions. The only things I left off of this pizza were the bean sprouts since the pizza tasted so great without them that I didn't think they would add anything to the pizza (plus, I think my bean sprouts went bad- nasty smell). Thank you, Dreena, for this recipe! I'm sure it would be even better with the sauce recipe from your book (though this recipe will definitely do for now!) While I can't wait to get ED&BV, I'm pretty damn pleased with the results of this pizza and LOVE the idea.

My next pizza mission: recreate another California Pizza Kitchen favorite from my childhood- hm....I think I'll keep the exact one a secret......