Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And It's Not Even Sunday!

This seems to be the product of what happens when I begin craving peanut butter around dinner time but have yet to go to the store to buy any bread for a sandwich. But you know what? I'm so glad this happened. I'm not sure how I thought of tofu satay, since I've only had the non-vegan version of this dish once when I was like seven years old I think. I remember loving it though! I pretty much improvised when it came to this dish, but I was sure to write down the quantities of stuff I used so I could replicate this again if it was good or change it if it wasn't. Well, I think it goes without saying that almost anything with peanut butter will be pretty good, but this was awesome. I already plan on making this again sometime next week for a quick dinner after school or lunch on the weekend. Oh, before I share the recipe I just wanna mention that you could always fry the tofu and have little tofu nuggets for dipping instead of broiling/grilling it when making this dish. In fact, I probably will try that next time I make this to convince my dad to eat some of it. Anyways, I broiled this because I wanted a little lighter and healthier dinner and it was still super satisfying, but if I do make it with fried tofu I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Tofu Satay:

1 lb. firm/extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 c. peanut butter (all-natural, please!)
1/2 c. plain soymilk
1 T. garlic powder

1 T. soy sauce
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)

Cut the tofu into small chunks, about 1-1 1/2'' squares. At this point you could either put these onto some wooden skewers that have been soaked in water, or not. I didn't since I didn't have any skewers, but I suppose it would a little more authentic. Place the tofu cubes or skewers on a baking tray tha
t has been lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray and broil the tofu for about 12-15 minutes. Flip the tofu and broil for another 10-12 minutes. I'm sure you could also grill these if the weather permits or on an indoor grill, but I can't tell you exact times for that. I would just grill them on one side until they get grill marks, flip them, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. For the sauce mix the peanut butter, soymilk, garlic powder, soy sauce and red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened (it will become thicker as it sits). Serve with tofu and any vegetables you'd like (cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, green beans, mushrooms, squash are all fun for dipping!) while warm. This serves about 4 as a main dish.

Well after this pretty salty meal my sweet tooth was, of course, going insane! I actually managed to wait a few hours after dinner before eating again since this was rather filling. I still couldn't wait to try out the Santa Cruz Chocolate Sauce I got from Vegan Essentials last week! I was afraid that the Vanilla Soy Dream I used would be too sweet for a chocolate sundae, but the sauce actually mellowed out the sweetness since it was so intense and chocolaty. I still need to get some more Soyatoo, though! I think that's the only thing this sundae was missing, besides the cherry and nuts of course, but I didn't miss it too much once I started eating it. I'll leave you all with my favorite shot of this because even though it's terribly blurry, it still make me drool every time I see it:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Birthday Cake! (but not mine)

Wednesday was my mom's birthday but I haven't been able to post until now, so it's a late birthday post! After much questioning, my mom decided on the type of cake she wanted me to make for her: carrot cake! I used the recipe from VCTOTW except x3 for two 8-inch round pans, baked them at 350 degree F (I think) for about 35-45 minutes, and frosted them with the cream cheese frosting recipe from the book (x4 but with leftover frosting)). I made this same cake several months ago and my mom LOVED it, so she was very happy with her birthday cake :) I didn't realize how much frosting I used between the two layers and on top, though, so this was very sugary. But my mom likes that and I never mind extra frosting, so it was still awesome. Oh! I got to use my mechanical pastry gun to decorate this and I actually kinda like it. Sure, you have to clean it out before you used it for a different color, and sure, it's a lil complicated at first, but I think I figured it out and overall it's pretty nice. Besides- this is the best my cake decorations have ever turned out!

Monday, January 21, 2008

No-Recipe Muffins

Thank goodness I finally got my muffins. I have been craving them for far too long now. I got the idea randomly one day for an almond, blueberry and cherry muffin, and couldn't stop thinking about it! I'm sure I could have easily found a recipe and adjusted it to whatever add-in's I wanted, but I really wanted to try my hand at making up my own recipe completely. I based the proportions of flour, liquids, and leavenings on about 4-5 different recipes that I randomly found online, so I'm pretty proud about how these turned out! Oh I didn't even mention how good they were yet! Well, they were. My sister actually went crazy for these and I actually witnessed her eat three in a row. The only thing she didn't like were the almonds in the streusel toping but everyone else, myself included, liked them so I'll maybe just alter the amount next time as opposed to leaving them out completely. I don't think the recipe is quite ready to share yet, but I think it will be very soon, so I promise that the next time you hear about these muffins a recipe will be included!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Sweet Vegan a gift from the vegan gods. Seriously. As soon as I heard it finally came out I've been trying to get it, but couldn't find it in any bookstores near me. One day, it magically occurred to me that I should order it online (from Vegan Essentials to be exact) and within about a week, it was here!!

Yep- my very own copy of "My Sweet Vegan!" I bookmarked the hell out of this within an hour of opening the box, and I feel overwhelmed from all of the delicious looking recipes, but in a good way. This is really my kind of book because I find that I'm much more likely to try a recipe if there is a photo of it, and EVERY recipe in here has a gorgeous picture to go along with it. I tried to convince my mom to try one of the many recipes in here for her birthday next week, but she had her heart set on carrot cake, so that's what she'll get. However, this will definitely get some practice come Valentine's Day!

Okay, so this isn't from "My Sweet Vegan," but you knew I couldn't end this post without something sweet! Please pardon the blurry pic- my camera tends to freak out sometimes and I was in too much of a hurry to eat these to bother to fix it. Along with my cookbook I also got some hot fudge sauce, egg replacer and vegan graham crackers from Vegan Essentials, which is perfect since I have been craving s'mores and I can't stand the thought of my Sweet and Sara marshmallows just sitting in my cupboard (mainly because this leads to me snacking on them). I used some of that ricemilk chocolate in these and they were soooo good. Perfectly gooey and exactly what I needed to get my sugar craving satisfied.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

VWAV Tofu Scramble and...Pie!

Ah! My toes and fingers are FROZEN! If you live in the midwest, let me tell you in case you don't already know, it is cold outside. I just got back from going skating with some of my friends at a local park that they flood and freeze in winter. Only problem was we don't have skates so we just went in our shoes, which led to a lot of falling on our bare hands. T'was quite fun, but man do I hate winter.

Okay, so food time: these pictures are actually from a few nights ago, but I have been a little preoccupied (more on that later), so I'm finally posting them now!

Um....I have a confession to make- I've only had a tofu scramble once before a few nights ago....ridiculous, right? But I assure you that I really do love scrambled tofu! I suppose I always seem to use up my tofu on something else (baked tofu, anyone?), but I have decided I must be more conscience of saving tofu for this dish! The recipe I tried before was from the Chicago Diner Cookbook, and it was really interesting since it was full of tahini and sunflowers seeds (I subbed cashews, though). However, it never seemed to get salty enough and needed more spices. I promised myself I'd play around with it a little more because I know it can be made to be very tasty, but I just sort of forgot to. Oh well, that's for another time. Anyways, I felt I had to try this one since it's from VWAV and all, and I'm glad I did! The only alteration I made was with the veggies due to a lack of mushrooms and carrots and a bunch of asparagus I had to use up. Let me tell you- this recipe does not suffer from lack of flavor or spices! Why oh why did I wait so long to make this? I also realized that Isa is right, the tofu needs to stay chunky. I was always under the impression that the tofu should be as small and crumbled as possible, but I was sooooo wrong! I'm glad I have now tried this version of scrambled tofu and, while I know I'll make it again soon, can't wait to explore other flavors and variations on this dish. Oh, I almost forgot! What you see in the background is just some roasted potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and lemon pepper (I used the salt-free kind, hence the added salt).

My mom was the one who taught me all of the basics when it comes to cooking and baking, but since I've become a vegan (or even when I became a vegetarian a couple years ago) our cooking/baking styles have differed greatly. However, this pie was the result of our culinary fusion, if you will. My mom was watching the Food Network waiting for Paula Deen to come on (she LOVES Paula and southern food, even though she's from southern California......) and I joined my mom since it was Sunday morning and I was bored. That annoying "semi-homemade" show was on before and she made a ginger peach pie, and my mom instantly fell in love. She grabbed her little notebook and began taking notes on the recipe and decided she would make it the next day. I thought the recipe looked interesting, but didn't really mention it to my mom since I didn't want to impose my veganism on what she wanted to bake. However, my mom suggested, completely out of nowhere, that I make a vegan crust since the filling was already vegan. Yay! I just though that this was really sweet and considerate :) Okay enough rambling- back to the pie. I used the pastry crust recipe from Vcon and,despite the fact that I am the WORST crust maker ever, it was sooo wonderfully flaky that my dad even mentioned how flaky it was and that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference between this crust and a nonvegan one. My mom asked me to use peach nectar in place of the water in the recipe since that's what "Ms. Annoying Semi-Homemade Lady" did (obviously I can't recall her name), and it was a good idea. I don't know if it made a difference in the overall taste, but the crust alone did taste sweeter. Below is a picture of my slice of pie, which turned out horrible-looking, so I apologize. As much as I love ginger and candied ginger, I think I actually prefer classic peach pie to this one since cinnamon shall always be my favorite spice. My mom loved it though, so I guess that's another thing we're going to have to compromise on.

Well, that's all I have for now, but I have a few things planned to make these next few days so I'll hopefully get those up ASAP.

P.S.- I finished my last final exam today! Yep, that's what I've been preoccupied with. This also led to a lot of pathetic meals since I was kind of eating at random times during the day depending on when our first final was finished and we all got an hour long "lunch"-break (at like 9:30-10:00 am), but whatever. I have a 4 1/2 day weekend, so I got some time to relax and bake now!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Vcon Leek and Bean Cassoulet = Omni-Approved!

I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!! Okay, just thought I'd put it out there. But seriously, this is one of the greatest wintery comfort-food dishes because not only is it flavorful and simple to make ahead, but OMNI'S love it too (at least the ones in my family)! The picture above is actually of the leftovers I ate for lunch the next day, so the vegetables look less vibrant than they were when I first made this, but it still was delicious. I actually made the stew part over the weekend and froze it so all I had to do was thaw it, make the biscuits, and bake it and we had dinner one night in less than 30 minutes. My dad and I both agreed that the biscuits on top really made the dish; they were tender and hearty since I used half whole wheat flour. I had to save the last of my non-hydrogenated shortening for a pie my mom and I will be making later this week, so I used Earth Balance for the biscuits instead, and I think this made them even better! Every once in awhile I would find a little pocket of melted margarine in the biscuit and it tasted so rich and salty and buttery- yummmmmmmmm. My little brother wouldn't touch this since it had "too many vegetables," but both of my parents loved it and said they felt very healthy after eating this, but in a positive way, so that means this will be making another appearance on our dinner table.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Milk" Chocolate

Okay, I'm sure many of your have already heard of or tried this product already, but I have been wanting to try thsi for some time now, and I finally have! It's not that I don't like dark chocolate; I actually have always preferred it's more intense flavor to the often cloying (my new favorite word) taste of the commercially-processed milk chocolate I had when I was younger. However, something in me, most likely curiosity, made me want to try this bar when I heard of it. So when my mom offered to take me Ethical Planet, an all-vegan store, last week since we'd be in Evanston anyways for my hair cut (nothing major, by the way, that's next month...) I knew I'd be buying this! I also got some more vitamins cause I was running low and some hemp seeds, but those are for some later post (the hemp seeds, not the vitamins). Anyways, back to the chocolate! Mmmmmm- it's so good! I was a little thrown off by the mellow flavor and sweetness since I've become used to dark chocolate. However, after a few more bites, I was able to appreciate the smooth flavor and creaminess much more, however some may find this a tad too sweet, but they'll probably be able to get over that since this chocolate is very good. Just a few squares of this don't look like enough, but trust me, it's enough to satisfy your cravings. I will definitely be getting this Ricemilk Chocolate bar next time I get to visit Ethical Planet again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Super Duper Healthy Day

I really needed one whole day of nice, light, healthful food since I've been feeling kind of sluggish lately because of the heavy (but soooooo good) food I've been eating with all of the leftovers and desserts in the house. Yesterday I decided I would eat super healthfully to sort of "cleanse" my body (but that sounds so extreme) so I can feel better about myself. Now I know what you're thinking, and yes, I still had my dessert! But let's start with breakfast:

I really love Mrs. May's nut snacks, so I was really happy when my dad found these at Costco (he was like: "Look! They say "vegan" right on the box!" hehe). They come in four flavors I think: blueberry (shown above), cranberry, strawberry, and tropical. I felt so healthy eating this with all of the seeds and nuts an
d fruit. Mmmmmm- this was perfect with an orange banana smoothie I made (not pictured).

I never realized how long it's been since I've had a really good, hearty salad. Gosh- how I missed them! I was planning on making a salad for my mom and I since she's trying to loss a little bit of weight, but my dad asked me if I wanted to go with him to Whole Foods since he wanted a salad, too! How on earth could I resist that huge salad bar when all I had at home was lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots? My salad had romaine lettuce, some spinach leaves, some other random lettuce (can't tell what it was), tomatoes, sunflower seeds, carrots, cucumbers, belle pepper, onions, dried cranberries, and roasted artichoke hearts (even though it's all hidden int he photo)! All I added once I got home was some baked tempeh, sliced almonds, and dressing I made with tahini, nutritional yeast, oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, orange zest, and soy sauce. Maybe I'll play with the dressing a little more and post a recipe in the future. Anyways, this salad was deliscious and so satisfying!

Haha- to me this is sort of a "typical vegan" snack, but it's one of my favorite things to eat when I'm starting to get hungry between lunch and dinner. I found these really good whole grain rice cakes with spelt and flax seed at my grocery store, so I've been using them for just about everything lately. As you can see above, they're awesome topped with some (all-natural, of course) peanut butter or almond butter, sliced bananas, cinnamon and a tiny drizzle of agave nectar.

When I was reading through my copy of Veganomicon (the first thing I do when I get a new cookbook), I saw this recipe for Tangerine Baked Tofu and thought it'd be perfectly light and savory so I used this opportunity to try the recipe. Unfortunately, this was not at all like I expected it to be. It tasted like marmalade and was overly sweet. I even actually followed the recipe this time! Well, I did omit the rum because I try to avoid cooking with alcohol and because I don't think we even have rum or other alcohol in the house (my dad's over 20 years sober and my mom rarely drinks, never at home), but that shouldn't affect it too much, right? Isa and Terry can do no wrong!! Eh- oh well. It was edible, and the brown rice and asparagus I made to go along with this was really good, so I just filled up on that. I never realized how much I like steamed asparagus with just some salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Okay, now dessert. You thought this would totally ruin my day of low sugar, minimally processed, wholesome food, right? WRONG! I present to you the miracle food:

Acai sorbet! My little brother discovered a couple weeks ago that he loves the acai juice that my sister and I always drink, so my mom bought this sorbet for him to try. This is outstanding stuff, you gotta try it! It's sweet and chocolate-y enough that it's satisfying as a dessert, but healthy enough that you could eat it as a snack, or even for breakfast (think: acai banana smoothie...mmmmm...!) It's sweetened with evaporated cane juice and agave nectar- no refined sugars! My brother liked this, but only ate a little bit at a time, so I've been having some and just finished off the carton last night.

So there you have it. My body feels so much "cleaner" now that the holiday season is over, so I'm happy! But I'm back to school tomorrow and I have finals next week, so my happiness doesn't get to stay for very long :(

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Total Comfort Food

My first attempt and vegan mac and cheese and guess what? It was a total success- yay! I used this recipe that I actually found from another blog (can't remember which one right now, sorry). The only change I would make in the future would be to add a little more salt, 1/2 teaspoon more mustard, and maybe some garlic powder. I'm not entirely sure why I made this since I have never been a huge fan of cheese, but I think I saw it more of an adventure as opposed to actually wanting something that tasted like macaroni and cheese. This was really amazing though and actually tasted quite a bit like I remember mac and cheese tasting, but not entirely (which is a good thing). This was way way WAY better after a day in the refrigerator. The flavors developed and the texture became much more of what I think of when I imagine my mom's baked macaroni and cheese. Now that I think about, I think my mom's macaroni and cheese is normally eaten cold. Or is it? Well, this tastes great cold from the fridge or reheated. Oooh- this is gonna make a kick-ass lunch at school!

Bread pudding is one of the most brilliant culinary creations as far as I'm concerned. It amazes me how you have this delicious mixture of (soy)milk, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and the second you add the stale bread to it- BAM! It begins smelling like something completely different. It's like the flavor and aroma of the bread mixes with this stuff and becomes....BREAD PUDDING! Of course it still needs to be baked, but whatever. I think the bread tastes almost better before it's baked, all sweet and soggy. I used this recipe from Everyday Dish as a base, but altered it a little bit using my mom's recipe that she has always used since it's the only bread pudding I've ever had, so that's the flavor I associate with comfort. I served it with, once again, the caramel sauce from Vegan Ice Cream Paradise, which added the perfect amount of sweetness. I was so excited to have this with some Soyatoo whipped "cream," but after taking the cap off, I realized that mine had gone bad! Crap.......Oh well, I've had it for awhile and only a little was left. This was still very yummy, just not as photogenic as I had hoped.

Geez, I have been pigging out lately. I think this weekend I'll need to have a "cleansing day," meaning a day of eating nice, healthy foods that are just very simple, clean and as minimally processed as possible. I'm thinking this would be a great day to try the Baked Tangerine Tofu recipe from Vcon. Hm...we'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy 2008

Happy (late) New Years everybody!

I hope everyone's year has started off great and, if you make them, good luck on your resolutions! Personally, I hate New Year's resolutions because I never ever follow through with them and I seem to accomplish things more when I don't feel I need to. I remember that every year from the ages of about six to eleven, I would make the resolution to stop biting my nails; wouldn't you know it- the one year I didn't make any resolutions, I stopped biting my nails for good! But that's juts my personal experience. Whatever gives you motivation is great.

I'll have pics tomorrow from last night's dinner, which was awesome, so be patient!

P.S.(does this really apply to blogs, or only letters?)- Everybody must see "Sweeney Todd"- this movie is truly excellent. Now, I understand I'm a little bias considering I've been in love with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp since I was three years old, but still. Oh, and Helena Bonham Carter was OUTSTANDING! It's a little bloody (though it's ridiculously fake looking) and quite depressing, but I think that's what makes the movie so wonderful. It truly got me thinking about human nature, which is impressive since most of the dialogue is in the form of singing. Sorry for my little rant- I'm just in love with this movie right now!