Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Worth the Wait

Yes, I have finally defrosted my pound of Teese (which I had actually bought in the spring, but froze for a later use) and made some delicious dishes with it! Though I'm sure you've heard it before from many other bloggers, let me tell you that Teese is the best vegan cheese I've ever had by far- it's so melty and tangy that I have to resist topping everything I make with it.

The first thing I made with my Teese was a panini full of fresh summer vegetables. I sauteed some onion, chopped artichoke hearts, and slices of yellow squash just enough to cook them through. I even made my first homemade roasted red bell pepper for this panini! I don't know why I haven't roasted bell peppers before- they're so easy and way more delicious that the jarred ones. Anyways, back to the sandwich. I layered all of the veggies and some sliced Teese on one slice of bread and topped them with some fresh basil that my brother and I are growing in our garden, and then slathered the other slice of bread with a garlicky sweet mustard sauce I made earlier (no real recipe- just some spicy brown mustard, Veganaise, agave nectar, and roasted garlic). Thanks to my panini press, this sandwich turned out perfectly crisp and all of the layers really blended together, with the fresh basil and sweet bell peppers still standing out more than the others. Everything tasted so fresh and wonderful and the Teese added that extra melted goodness that made this panini special. I can't wait to think of how many other types of paninis I can whip up now!

The next dish I decided Teese would be perfect for was the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado from ED&BV (I was inspired by Dreena Burton's post on her blog featuring this dish.) While mine didn't turn out quite so photogenic, it certainly was everything I hoped it'd be and more! While I was curious about the avocado layer being baked into the lasagna, I was making this for my family and I knew that warm avocado may be too different for them so I just made some guacamole to top the lasagna instead. I'm officially addicted to this dish- the spices were perfect and the crunchy tortilla chips on top created such a contrast in texture. Of course, the Teese really shined through here because of the tangy flavor and my parents couldn't even tell it was vegan cheese on top (which is always a good thing since vegan cheeses have such a bad reputation). The portion of this lasagna are HUGE, but not too filling, and my only complaint was that I didn't have more leftover! My mom and I were starving and both went back for seconds (and maybe thirds....)- hey, I told you this was addictive. And, yes, I did serve this with more corn on the side, but I had just gotten home from work and was feeling lazy so I think it's okay!

Finally, I made some refried beans, green bell pepper, and Teese quesadillas on a whole grain tortilla with a big ol' dollop of peach mango salsa on the side. Yum! While I find cheeseless quesadillas perfectly satisfying, these ooey gooey ones were quite a treat. The Teese melted really quickly and got a little too melted because it oozed out the sides of the quesadillas when I cut then, but I didn't mind and just licked it all off! Believe it or not, I still have about half a pound of my Teese left so expect to see it reappearing in some more meals I'll be making :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sobriety Cake and the Vegan's Hundred

My family celebrated my dad's 21st sobriety anniversary this Thursday so I, of course, offered to make a cake! Being the simple guy he is, my dad chose a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream (I used the recipes from VCTOTW) but that was fine with me since I got to decorate it. I posted this thread on the PPK boards to help me think of decorating ideas and got some great advice. While I would have loved to make a wagon-shaped cake or one looking like a stack of AA chips, I really wanted to make a rectangular cake for some reason and I was a little crunched for time, so I went with a basic design and wrote "Yay! Good Job, Daddy!" (using Alton brown's recipe for writing chocolate) on it. I was pretty happy the cake turned out and, even though the writing was crooked and the I cut the layers were unevenly, it was great practice for me. Not to mention, it tasted great and my dad was so thankful for it. Just doing my job as a daughter to make him happy :)

This week, BitterSweet posted her vegan version of the Omnivore's Hundred on her blog so I took on the challenge and will pass it on to you. Here are the rules:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. (I will only bold items that I've eaten the vegan versions of)

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I'm just going to put them in italics since the crossing out font thing is not working right....)

4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba Ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo Gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (all alcohol items will be in italics since I plan on never drinking)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Kniche
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka Jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw brownies
42. Fresh Garnazo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwaffle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch Beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy Curls
63. Chickpea Cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped Cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh Ball Soup
90. White Chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch Chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with Chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato Milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Now it's your turn!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yogurt Showdown

With so many new vegan products popping up everyday, it seems like there are always new things to try! For awhile now the only vegan yogurt I've had easy access to was Silk soy yogurt, but it's always had too much of a soy taste to me and I'm often put off by the grey-ish tint to all of their yogurts.... so I was happy to recently find some other brands in my local grocery store and have been trying them in the hopes of finding a brand that I like better. Onto the yogurts:

The first yogurt I tried was Turtle Mountain's new So Delicious soy yogurt. I bought the blueberry, cinnamon roll, and vanilla (pictured above) flavors to try and decided to start with the vanilla for breakfast since I had been waiting to try another new (at least to me) product as well- Honest Foods Granola Planks.

I was on the lookout for these granola planks every since reading Vegan_Noodle's review of them on her blog, Walking the Vegan Line. I have only tried the blueberry vanilla variety, but they are delicious! They crumble easily into yogurt or nondairy milk for a quick breakfast or snack and are not too sweet at all- they are actually a little salty which tastes awesome with the nuts and dried fruits that these bars are full of.

Anyways, back to the yogurt! The So Delicious vanilla soy yogurt was very good and creamy (though it did require some stirring to get it that way) and was great mixed with a crumbled granola plank and fresh blueberries. However I found it way too sweet for first thing in the morning, or even an afternoon snack. I then tried the blueberry and cinnamon roll flavors, but as dessert with some Soyatoo on top and that's what these yogurts are perfect for! I will definitely continue to buy So Delicious soy yogurts and am looking forward to trying the other flavors, but I will save them for a healthy dessert.

Turtle Mountain's newest products are their new line of coconut milk yogurts. While I am surely NOT a coconut lover, I couldn't suppress my curiosity about this yogurt and bought a cup of the passionate mango flavor. The texture of this yogurt was a little creamier than the soy variety and I could not detect any coconut taste, which is a good thing for me! My only problem with this yogurt was that the passion fruit and mango flavors made it a little too sour for my liking, but I have not tried the other flavors and look forward to doing so to see if those are less tart. Like the previous yogurt, I thought this one would also be better suited for dessert rather than breakfast because it was still too sweet, even through the tartness.

Now I know that the Whole Soy & Co. line of yogurts are not new, but I've never tried them before so I guess they are to me. These were on sale at the store when I went, so I sure stocked up! There were so many flavors to try, but I stuck with my three favorites: peach, strawberry, and vanilla. I tried the peach one day for a quick snack and I was amazed to find that it is even creamier than the So Delicious coconut yogurt! The sweetness was perfect and I knew immediately that it would be perfect for breakfast. I had the strawberry flavor (even better than the peach!) with some more crumbled granola planks the next morning, but then I got thinking and realized what I needed to make next with my new favorite yogurt.....

....a parfait! I layered some vanilla Whole Soy & Co. yogurt with homemade granola (for another post, I have a few recipes to share!) fresh peaches, blackberries, and raspberries. Wow- that is all I can say! This was truly the kind of breakfast parfait that I have been dreaming of and I was finally able to make it thanks to this new yogurt I've found! Of all of the new varieties of yogurt I tried, Whole Soy &Co. was the clear winner for me because it's not too sweet and is perfect for breakfast, but I will definitely still keep my fridge stocked with several So Delicious soy and coconut yogurts to enjoy after dinner for a sweet treat! So really, they are all winners (I cheesy....)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Black Bean Burgers and...Pancakes Without Syrup?!

In preparation for the upcoming school year (yikes!), I've been making and freezing all sorts of veggie burgers like a madman! You'll see more of those in an upcoming post, but I just had to blog about the black bean burger recipe in Vcon! It's unlike any other bean burger I've ever had, most likely due to the chewy texture from the addition of vital wheat gluten. The spices are very good, though I would probably add more heat and cumin next time just to balance it all out and nothing tops these burgers better than some crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onion, and a big ol' dollop of guacamole! As you can see in the picture above, I served this along side some Raw Collard Greens, a recipe I got from a raw foods (un)cooking demo I went to last month. I'll post about that and the recipes we were given some other time once I've made a few more myself, but these collard greens are great! The shredded collard greens and kale are massaged with some salt so they wilt a little bit and it makes them taste fresh and delicious without being bitter.

One awesome breakfast I enjoyed this week was the Polenta Pancakes from ED&BV. I realized that I had a few tubs of prepared polenta I bought from Trader Joe's that needed to be up because I felt bad that they were just sitting there all alone in my cupboard, so I remembered this recipe and decided to try it. Yum, yum, yum! This breakfast will be a regular of mine because it's so easy to prepare and so so so good! The cinnamon sugar coating on the sliced polenta caramelizes when they are cooked on the griddle, so no syrup is needed for this treat (and trust me, I'm a strong believer that pancakes must be topped with some sort of syrup- always). Instead of Dreena's suggestion of making banana "sandwiches" with these pancakes, I just served some sliced banana sprinkled with cinnamon on top and it was perfect! I can also imagine that these would be delicious topped with a blueberry syrup.......I'll just have to try it and see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quickie Cookies

Just a quickie post here since I'm not feeling too well (nothing major, I'll be fine by tomorrow), but these Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies from VWAV cookies so good they can hold you over until the next one! I was in the mood for cookies one day and I didn't have many of the ingredients in some other recipes I was looking at, but I guess that was a blessing in disguise because it caused me to try this recipe and boy, were they good! I filled half of the batch with apricot jelly and the other half with blackberry preserves to use up some of the many jars of jelly we had in the fridge and both flavors were delicious and really complimented the chocolatey almond cookie dough. My only complaint is that the dough got really messy and difficult to work with when I was rollign it into balls, so I think I may try flouring my hands next time instead of wetting them. If any of you have tried this recipe and have any tricks to working with this dough, please let me know! Well, that's all I have for now, but I already have a few more goodies planned for the next post :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Out and About on Michigan Avenue

I'm back from my short stay in Chicago, and it's great to be able to finally be home for more than a day at a time! This trip was really fun because, while my mom had to do work for her business during the day, my younger sister and I were free to roam around and explore the area. Oh, and did I mention that we were staying right on Michigan Avenue? Talk about a perfect location!

The view from our hotel room was absolutely breathtaking- we were able to look out and see the Water Tower, which is beautiful during the daytime, but is even more fascinating lit up at night.

While walking around, my sister and I noticed these really cool statues made by students from various colleges in Chicago. They were all so unique and I loved admiring the diversity of the designs.

No trip to Michigan Avenue would be complete without a stop at Water Tower Place. While I'm not much of a shopper, I did manage to find one store that really caught my eye:

As my sister dragged me into LUSH, I doubted that I would buy anything since most cosmetic stores contain products full of non-vegan ingredients. However, after reading a few signs I practically jumped up and fell on top of my sister when I realized that many of the products were labeled as vegan and that this was the LUSH that I had heard of! I had such a heard time deciding what to buy but ended up purchasing a Nutts Massage Bar which smells like warm, nutty chocolate and melts right into your skin. Knowing my reaction to discovering how many vegan products this store carries, you can imagine my excitement when my sister told me that there is a LUSH store in our local mall!

As I sat in the John Hancock Observatory sipping my Jamba Juice, I realized how truly massive this building is!

(I apologize for the poor lighting in these pictures. The hotel had really odd lighting that would produce areas of extreme brightness while the rest of the room was too dark for pictures)

I was very excited to learn while planning this trip that Karyn's Cooked is only a few blocks from where we were staying, so I decided to drag my sister over there to pick up lunch to bring back to our hotel (their takeout orders are much quicker than the service at the restaurant). I chose the Jerk Tofu Sandwich this time and a slice of the Chocolate Silk Pie for dessert. The sandwich was great and perfectly seasoned- I LOVE spicy food so this was right up my alley, but it still wasn't too spicy and my mouth was cooled down after a few bites of coleslaw. I'm glad the sandwich was so filling because I was able to save half for dinner later that night after going out with my mom and sister to a restaurant of their choice where I enjoyed a plate of steamed asparagus and sauteed spinach. The pie was the perfect way to end the evening and my sister (Miss "I hate vegan food") snuck a bite and was begging me the entire time I ate it for me to save some for her because she loved it so much! That was probably a good thing because the whipped cream topping on the pie is sooooo good, but sooooo rich and I would have hurt myself if I ate the entire slice!

That night, I walked with my family to Borders so my sister could buy a magazine and as I was just browsing, I found an issue of VegNews! I haven't been able to find this in any bookstores or newsstands near me (I don't know why...maybe I wasn't looking hard enough?), so I grabbed it immediately and read it the next morning over breakfast:

Since I had to wait for my sister to wake up before going anywhere the next morning, my mom surprised me by ordering a fruit plate from room service and leaving it for me to enjoy when I woke up. All of the fruit was amazingly fresh and sweet and this plate was the perfect, refreshing breakfast after a heavy meal the night before!

Alright- now that my summer traveling is done for now, I'll be able to get back into the kitchen and post some home cooked meals on this blog since it seems to be lacking as of lately!