Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Belated Thanksgiving Post

I feel like Thanksgiving sort of snuck up on me this year, but that was no problem since I didn't have to cook anything for my dinner! I knew I wanted to order a vegan carryout dinner from the Chicago Diner and went with the raw meal since it was gluten-free, as well.

It was so much food!! In the little carryout tray (I think it's so cute) was a raw nut loaf, shiitake gravy, mashed cauliflower, some sort of wild rice salad, cranberry relish, and a sweet potato salad with pineapple and goji berries. I brought this meal along with the raw cheesecake (not sure about the flavor but it appeared to be chocolate and cinnamon) and left the corn soup and salad for lunch the next day. The meal itself was pretty good. The cauliflower and loaf were a little heavy on the garlic for my taste, but still enjoyable. The sweet potato salad was great- not very traditional, but good. It goes without saying that the cheesecake was great (it always is), but I've gotta say that my favorite part of the meal was the corn soup that I had for lunch the next day! It was full of fresh, sweet corn kernels, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro. Gosh, it was good. I hope they offer this soup at the restaurant throughout the year because I can't wait to have it again!

I hope every had a great holiday (or weekend if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving). Mine was definitely interesting, but my weekend was fabulous (I had to pry myself from my room to go shopping as I read 4 books over the weekend totaling about 2200 pages, which is huge for me since I never read!) I only have 3 weeks of school until Winter Break (yay!!) and 4 weeks worth of class until finals (ugh...), so I'll be having a bunch of time off school in the next couple months to make some interesting meals to share with you all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Made it to 17 :)

As I mentioned in my Halloween post, November 1st was a special day for me (not just because it's World Vegan Day)- my 17th birthday! I'm sorry it took me so long to post this, but life has been so hectic (in a good way) and still is, so I'll keep this post short.

To celebrate my birthday, my family and I went out to dinner at the Chicago Diner, which was enjoyable as always, but the real treat was waiting for me at home :)

My parents had ordered a birthday cake along with some cupcakes from Bleeding Heart Bakery! The cupcakes were 3 chocolate with chocolate frosting, 3 chocolate with vanilla frosting, 3 chocolate with peanut butter frosting (all vegan), and 3 red velvet (non-vegan). My family snacked on those throughout the day, but I really couldn't wait to try my birthday cake after dinner: a curry cake with chocolate ganache (my mom picked it out knowing that I love to try "weird" things). I know, it sounds sooooooo bizarre, but it was actually delicious! My mom and I both agreed that the first bite was a little weird since most people don't expect to taste curry when they eat a cake, but the more we ate, the more we loved it! The ganache was the perfect frosting for this cake and I couldn't help but go back for a second slice :)

I got some great gifts (clothes, tights, makeup- the usual), but one that was extremely special was my dad's gift to me: a juicer! I mentioned that I wanted one back in the summer, but they are so expensive that I didn't bring it up again because I never expected to get one. Well, my dad spent some time reading reviews and got me a really great juicer! I wanted to try it out right away, so I just made my first juice with some stuff around the house: grapefruit, ginger, oranges, and apples. It mad a TON of juice (I saved some for later) and was so refreshing. The juicer itself is really easy to clean and does a great job of getting every last bit of juice out.

I feel like my birthday gets better and better every year and I'm so thankful that my family made it so special :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Halloween. My day has been great so far (Halloween being my favorite holiday and all), but I really can't wait until tomorrow! (you'll see why later....)

Once again, enjoy your holiday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Enchiladas and Pudding- Both with Chocolate?

My latest culinary adventure all began when I went out to dinner with my parents to a local Mexican restaurant. While I enjoyed some jicama slices with guacamole and my mom ate her pumpkin tamales, my dad's dinner was something that I didn't expect him to order. He told me that his favorite dish at that restaurant is enchiladas with mole sauce and I immediately wanted to make my own vegan mole sauce to try it. After all, if my dad likes it, it couldn't be that bad, right? I remembered bookmarking the mole sauce recipe in Vcon when I first got the book, so the next day I looked at the recipe, went to the store to pick up anything I needed, and set out to make enchiladas with mole sauce! The enchiladas were a variation on my basic recipe- corn tortillas filled with beans (pinto beans in this case), corn, diced bell peppers, carrots, onions, zucchini, and spices. What made these enchiladas special was, of course, the sauce. Let me just say it: I am officially in love with this mole sauce! My dad tried some and liked it so much (which is the "seal of approval" since he is a mole fan) that he asked me to make some (non-vegan) cheese enchiladas for him with the extra sauce for dinner. When I make enchiladas for the rest of my family, I will probably have to use the traditional red sauce since only my dad and I like mole, but there's no doubt that I will make some special enchiladas for my father and I.

I have been a chocolate pudding addict lately! I have been making a batch of this recipe (reducing the coffee to 1/2 t.) every week for the past two months or so. Imagine my excitement when I found the new Soyatoo rice whip at my local Whole Foods. I couldn't help but buy it to enjoy with my pudding! Though it is very pricey, I prefer the rice whip to the original soy whip. It doesn't taste beany like the soy whip does and tastes so authentic- like a mixture of Cool Whip and dairy whipped cream. Another bonus is that this doesn't melt as quickly as the soy version. I'll be buying this now instead of the Soyatoo soy whip, but it will have to remain a rare purchase since it's so gosh darn expensive.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kombucha- Totally Bizarre but Awesome

Last month I finally gave unto my curiosity and bought a Trilogy (ginger, raspberry and lemon) Kombucha tea at Whole Foods. When I first opened the bottle, it fizzed everywhere (as the cashier warned me)! After that, some of the slimy goops of the bacteria that causes the fermentation floated to the top so, bracing myself, I slurped them up. It was so cool, they just melted in my mouth! The drink itself tasted strongly of ginger, probably more so than I would have liked, so it definitely resembled a slightly vinegar-y ginger ale. My mom tried some and said it tastes like wine, which I know nothing of, so maybe it does. Either way, I have been wanting to try so many more flavors of Kombucha tea, but I'm so stingy that I have a hard time paying $3.50 for one- sad, I know.

Anyways, fast forward to today when I see this giveaway on the Confessions of a Sham blog- perfect! If you are at all curious about Kombucha tea, go ahead and enter to give it a try- you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

All Breakfast, All the Time!

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day (maybe even beating out dessert) and I'm disappointed that I haven't posted about it more on this blog! I guess first thing in the morning I just want to eat and forget to photograph anything. However, I've had a few breakfasts over the past month or so that I think are post-worthy, so here they are:

I was feeling a little fed up with the lack of variety of gluten-free, vegan cereal available, so I decided to make my own! I started with this recipe for Nutty Bran Flakes, but made a few changes. I used rice bran, substituted brown rice flour for the whole wheat flour, used maple syrup instead of sugar, hemp milk instead of dairy milk, and added a pinch of xanthan gum. Though rolling out the dough and baking it until it was super crispy was a little time consuming (not much, though), this cereal turned out wonderfully and I have already made this again several times with some variations. Once I experiment a little more, I might just share some of those variations....

The Fronch Toast recipe from Vcon has been one that I've had my eye on since I bought the book almost two years ago, and I'm ashamed that it took me this long to try it. I used this gluten-free bread since it's slightly sweet and I thought it'd be sturdy enough to hold up soaking in the french toast batter, but I think it may have been a little too dense. The batter didn't really get absorbed by the bread, but the Fronch Toast was still delicious. I will definitely make this again with some homemade gluten-free bread (I've been searching for the perfect recipe and trying a few out, but that's another post!).

I believe this trend may have been started by Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, but forgive me if I'm mistaken. Either way, I'm loving my oats in a nut butter jar! I go through nut butter so quickly that I get to enjoy this about once every 3 weeks or so, and it's such a treat. The one you see above is gluten-free oats cooked with water and hemp milk. I then stirred in some flaxseeds, mashed banana, and maple syrup. Served in an almost empty PB jar and topped with sliced bananas, this is such a hearty, creamy, and nutty breakfast!

Another new way I've tried oatmeal is as oatgurt (once again, thanks to Heather). I just blended gluten-free oats with a tiny bit of water, poured them into a bowl, covered it with a towel, and let it ferment for about 24 hrs, stirring often (I didn't want it too tart). I've tried this oatgurt both warm and cold (as you see above with soymilk, apples, cinnamon, pecans and pumpkin butter) and I much prefer it warm because the tanginess mellows out a little bit once the oatgurt is heated. However, my oatgurt didn't absorb any flavors I added to it like regular yogurt does. I think this is a nice change from regular oatmeal, but I just don't see myself making this too often. I think I was expecting it to either be just like oatmeal or just like yogurt, and it wasn't quite either, so maybe it's just that my expectations were off. That being said, I do suggest that you try oatgurt at some point because it's so darn good for you and the sourdough-tasting crust that forms on top alone is worth making this for!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Finally! No more mush for food!

I'm so sorry it's been almost a month since my last post! I had my impacted wisdom teeth taken out a few weeks ago and it's taken me awhile to fully recover. For the first few days, my jaw was so stiff that it was hard for me to even fit a spoon in my mouth and I could barely get out of bed. Thankfully, I'm all better now and back to eating real food!

One dish I managed to whip up when I found the energy was a noodle-less lasagna. To do so, I sliced some zucchini about 1/4 inch thick, coated them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them until cooked through. There's no real recipe, but the lasagna itself consisted of layers of marinara sauce (I just used a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes that I added some dried oregano and basil to), zucchini slices, and cashew ricotta from Vcon (seriously addicting stuff- I can't wait to make it again!). I sprinkled some Parma! on before baking, which made a really nice, nutty crust. While this lasagna didn't set up as nicely as one with noodles might have since the zucchini didn't absorb the liquid from the sauce, the flavor of this dish was great and the leftovers got even getter. I even tried freezing the last few servings and they were still delicious. This was definitely a nice change for the summer from a carb-heavy lasagna and I can't wait to find new dishes to make using the cashew ricotta.

In other news, I bought some of the new Larabars that everyone has been blogging/talking about and hope to review them in a future post (that is, if I can manage to take any pictures of them before a gobble 'em up!)

Friday, July 10, 2009

PB for Every Meal

(yes, I did already take a bite out of the pancake in the background!)

I've been going through more peanut butter than ever lately (apple slices topped with PB has become a very common lunch for me) and I've managed to find a way to work it into almost every meal of the day. Starting with breakfast, I made some GF apple buckwheat pancakes that I topped with some melty, gooey peanut butter and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. The pancakes were alright, but not great- I'd prefer them to be fluffier. I definitely need to work on the recipe before I share it. I loved how the peanut butter melted on top of them, though. And maple syrup is always necessary in my book, so the concept of this breakfast was great, I just need to work on the pancakes themselves.

This meal was a TOTAL success! For dinner, I whipped up my adaptation of a recipe for Spicy Peanut Spinach I received in an email from the VegNews Recipe Club and it couldn't have been easier. After devouring half of it over some brown rice (even though it serves 4), I packed up the rest for my mom to take to work with her the next day for lunch. Around noon, I got a call from her telling me how much she loved it! In fact, my mom is going to go pick up some more spinach from the store this weekend so I can make it again next week. Since I adapted the recipe a bit and am just soooo happy with this dish, I'll share the recipe:

(Sort of) Spicy Peanut Spinach:

1 T. oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 c. baby spinach/regular spinach, chopped
1/4 c. salted peanut butter
1/4 c .peanut, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the onion, salt, and red pepper flakes. Saute until soft, about 5 min. Stir in tomatoes and spinach and cook until wilted. Stir in peanut butter and cook another 1-2 min. Serve over rice and top with peanuts.

The same day that I gave the peanut spinach to my mom for her lunch, I also sent some mini gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peanut butter frosting (that's a mouthful!) with her to share with her co-workers. Needless to say, they were a hit! I used the chocolate gluten-freedom cupcake recipe, subbing Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose mix for the quinoa flower, and the peanut butter frosting recipe (both from VCTOTW), subbing Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful for the regular peanut butter and omitting the vanilla extract. I think my new baking obsession is mini cupcakes and muffins. They are bite-sized and great for snacking!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

I just want to wish you all a happy Fourth of July! It feels like summer just started- it's so weird to think that it's already the fourth. I know that my blogging has been far too infrequent since the beginning of summer, but I've got some exciting meals planned and I can't wait to post those ASAP.

Enjoy your holiday and I'll post again soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Raw "Cleanse" Day

I feel like I've been eating too many carbs and fatty foods and haven't been getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables lately with the stress from finals and all (I'm finally done and found out my grades! I did better than I thought, so that's a huge relief), so I decided on Monday that I would try my best to eat just fresh fruits and veggies for the day. I then figured I might as well make it a raw day, but try not include any nut based dishes since I eat enough nuts as it is.

I had ordered some kelp noodles from Amazon last week (need to up the iodine for medical reasons) and received a small free packet of chia seeds along with it, but I sorta forgot about it until Monday so I decided to use it in my breakfast. As light as this was, my breakfast left me satisfied without feeling weighed down- it was great! I just blended some frozen sliced peaches that I thawed overnight, a super ripe and juicy mango, and a peeled orange in my blender. I then mixed in the chia seeds, let the mixture sit for about 15 min, and topped it with sliced strawberries. This was so delicious thanks to the super sweet fruit that I used and I couldn't stop myself from spooning it into my mouth.

Lunch was inspired by this post on Another One Bites the Crust and it was by far my favorite meal all day. I love spring rolls, so the idea of making them with sliced cucumber as the wrapper appealed to me immediately. I filled mine with buttery avocado slices, grated carrot, sliced scallions, and shredded romaine lettuce. I then topped them with some black sesame seeds and dipped them in a simple sauce made from Bragg Liquid Aminos and red pepper flakes. I also snacked on a sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon. This is one of those meals where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I knew that the rolls would taste good, but I was just blown away by the flavor of them! They tasted like the freshest veggie sushi ever and could not have been easier. I'm actually running to the store tomorrow to get the ingredients to make more of these rolls :)

Dinner was...not so great. I've never had gazpacho before, but the idea of it always appealed to me so I decided to try it. I didn't follow a specific recipe, but more of a blend of several. The flavor was pretty good, but after a few bites the texture became very unappealing to me and I ended up eating a bowl of fruit topped with ground flax seeds and half a Larabar. I think I might have had the proportions of veggies wrong because I feel like there was too much onion and cucumber. I won't give up on gazpacho just yet, but it'll be awhile before I try making it again.

Dessert was some homemade pineaple mango sorbet with a secret ingredient- fresh coconut milk! I felt like adding another layer of flavor to this sorbet in the form of coconut milk, but since canned was out of the question, I bought a young Thai coconut, cracked it open (I used the method show in this video), blended the meat and water, and strained it to make fresh coconut milk! While I've never been a fan of things with a strong coconut taste, I learned that fresh coconut is a totally different story. I'm now in LOVE with fresh coconut meat and want to go buy another one just to eat for breakfast! The flavor is not traditionally "coconutty," but just floral and tropical- it reminded me and my mom of the Bahamas. To make the sorbet, I just blended the coconut milk with 3-4 cups of chopped fruit and some raw agave nectar in the blender, chilled it, and churned it in my ice cream machine. The coconut milk didn't make the sorbet as creamy as I would have hoped, but it gave it such a great tropical aftertaste and I'm so glad I used it.

Overall, my raw "cleanse" day was a success and a great way to introduce myself to raw foods because I definitelty want to include more raw meals in my diet throughout the summer. I think I'll continue to do one day every month or so of completely raw foods that aren't nut-based because I felt great the next day. The only problem seemed to be that I didn't eat enough early in the day, so by about 3:00 I was craving carbs like crazy and felt really tired (I acually took a brief nap, which I rarely do), so I'll keep that in mind next time. I can't wait to try more raw recipes and I hope to eat at least one raw meal every week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Swirlz- My Life Saver

After seeing Vegan Nurse's post about a cupcake from Swirlz she found at Whole Foods, I was intrigued immediately. While there are several places in my area where I can get vegan baked goods and gluten-free baked goods, I have yet to find somewhere where I can find a cake that is gluten-free AND vegan. That is, until now. I asked my dad (since he works in the city) if he had ever heard of Swirlz and it turns out that it's only two blocks from where he works and he runs right by it everyday, so I just mentioned to him that they have vegan, gluten-free cupcakes (one flavor each day) and that I might drive down there sometime during the summer. Well, fast-froward to the next day when I came home from school. I walked into my dad's office, said "hello," and began heading toward the kitchen to put my backpack away, when my dad told me that he had a surprise for me in the kitchen. I looked in and saw on the counter....

...a gluten-free, vegan double chocolate chip cupcake form Swirlz! Actually, he got me two and I ate both of them that night :) The cake itself was pretty good, a little dry, but it had a nice chocolate flavor. The real star here was the fudgey frosting. OH MY GOODNESS! This is the kind of frosting I've been missing and have yet to be able to make since going vegan. It's fudgey, chocolatey, and creamy- yum! The size of the cupcake was also really nice- a little bit bigger than the ones I make at home but not so big that the frosting to cake ratio is thrown off. My dad also brought home a box with two of the (nonvegan) gluten-free cupcakes for my mom and some of the "regular" cupcakes for the rest of my family and everyone loved them, so I think I'll be able to enjoy my cupcakes a little more often :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asian Flavor

I'm not sure why, but I've seemed to be craving Asian dishes for the past few weeks, which is fine by me because it means I've been eating tons of fresh veggies! Even though the weather here hasn't been great lately, we have had a few summery days and I decided to take them as an opportunity to make some refreshing SUSHI! I used to practically live off of sushi in my pre-veg*n days, but now that I've finally learned how to make my own vegan sushi, I plan on eating it all the time this summer! This time around, I used brown rice and finally conquered the inside-out roll (rice on the outside) and it surprisingly wasn't anymore difficult to make than regular sushi. I made two different rolls last week, as you see above, and I was really happy with these flavor combinations. The roll in the front contained just some simple sliced avocado (makes everything 10x better) and carrots and the one in back had some cucumber and roasted sweet potato and both rolls were fantastic (even though I think I preferred the one with avocado just because it's so darn creamy).

This dish came out of my need to use up some cabbage in the fridge and it ended up being so great that I've made it at least 3 times in the past month! For the tofu, I marinaded it in a mix of wheat-free tamari, sesame oil, and five-spice and let it sit for a few hours before pan-frying it in a little bit of oil. As good as the tofu was, the cabbage stir fry was the real star on this plate and it couldn't have been easier, so I decided to post the (approximate) recipe:

Cabbage Stir-Fry:

1 large head cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1-2 scallions, chopped
2 T. oil
2 t. agave nectar
1/4 c. tamari (or other soy sauce)
1 1/2 T. sesame oil
2 T. rice vinegar

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sautee bell pepper and carrot for 1-2 min. Add cabbage and scallions and sautee another 4 min, or just until cabbage softens slightly. Add the other ingredients and cook for about 1 more min. and serve immediately. Serves 4-6 (depending on how much you love your veggies)

I've actually made this dish a few times before, but never got around to posting about it until now for some reason. The Cashew Ginger Tofu from ED&BV is so easy and the cashew sauce after it thickens in the oven is amazing! I used tempeh this time instead of tofu since it's all I had on hand, but it's just as good with tempeh (if not better) because it absorbs the sauce beautifully. I served this dish with some steamed cauliflower and asparagus that I sauteed in some soy sauce and sesame oil (my mom's recipe- it's great!).

Finals start Tuesday and by the end of the week my summer vacation will have officially begun!! One great perk of summer is more time to cook/bake new things and more time to share them all with you!

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Foods Challenge Accepted!

Katie of Chocolate-Covered Katie announced a new contest a few weeks ago and I've finally gotten around to posting about my results. The challenge was to try either a new product, fruit, vegetable, or whatever and I think this was such a great idea since I often find myself in food ruts. While I have a lengthy list of more foods I want to try, the contest ends June 1st, so I'll post about these for now:

I was beyond excited to see the new Living Harvest Tempt hemp milk ice cream at my local Whole Foods and grabbed a pint. I was only able to find the vanilla bean, mint chip, and chocolate fudge flavors at the store, so I chose mint chip. OH MY GOODNESS!! This is fantastic! I love this ice cream because it's gluten-free, not soy-based, not terribly high in fat/sugar, and doesn't have any aftertaste like soy ice cream can have. Also, the little chocolate flakes just melt in your mouth and remind me of the mint chip ice cream of my childhood. This product is pretty rich, but I can't stop eating it and I think I'll have to have a pint in my freezer at all times.

As I went to the checkout line at Whole Foods with my hemp milk ice cream, I noticed a basket full of every flavor of Justin's almond/peanut butter squeeze packs. I've always wanted to try these after reading about them so much on other blogs, so I grabbed one pack of the classic peanut butter and one pack of the maple almond butter. The peanut butter was pretty good- nothing too special, but that's what I expected. What I was really excited to try was the maple almond butter, so I squeezed out as much as possible onto some apple slices. While this certainly is some special almond butter, I wasn't blown away. Don't get me wrong- I think this was delicious and was so glad to try it, but I tend to prefer raw almond butter so the flavor of the roasted almonds was a little overpowering for me. My favorite part of this product, though, is the convenience! I'll probably keep a few packs of the peanut butter on hand because they'll be great for traveling and school lunches (even though I only have 2 weeks left!).

Thanks so much Katie for this fun challenge! I'm already planning my next trip to the store to cross a few new foods off my list :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crepes Two Ways and Another Surprise in the Mail

I have no idea why it took me so long, but I finally got around to making the crepes from Vcon. They were so easy to make gluten-free by substituting some millet flour and xanthan gum for the wheat flour. I made the savory version of the batter and made 4 crepes, but then added some agave nectar to the 2nd half of the batter and made another 5 crepes. I froze them all so now I have a bunch of crepes for any type of meal whenever I want! But of course I couldn't wait very long to try them out, so I made the Potato Mushroom Blintzes (also from Vcon) and topped them with some Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream, natural apple sauce, and fresh thyme leaves. While the crepes themselves were great, I wasn't a huge fan of the potato mushroom filling. I think there just wasn't a whole lot of flavor, plus I'm not a fan of the whole "carb wrapped in a carb" kind of meal. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Even though my first vegan crepe adventure was savory, I think the real way to eat crepes is for a sweet breakfast. This morning, I just warmed up two of my defrosted sweetened crepes and filled them with some Wildwood plain soy yogurt (my Whole Foods started carrying it and it's great! I like being able to control the sweetness), lemon zest, grapefruit zest, agave nectar, and chopped blackberries. Topped my crepes with a drizzle of more agave nectar and some whole blackberries. Now this is how crepes should be eaten!! This was one excellent, light, and special breakfast. The crepes taste exactly how I remember nonvegan crepes tasting and they were simple to make.

And the last cookbook of my Amazon preorder arrived Friday afternoon! I immediately flipped through my new copy of Vegan Brunch and tagged a bunch of recipes I want to try soon. The layout of this book is fantastic and it has some delicious-looking pictures. I think I've gotta hold off now on buying any more cookbooks- I have too many things I want to try in a bunch of them that I don't know where to start!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You've Got Mail

If you remember, a few weeks ago I announced my search for vegan butterscotch chips and Annieeggplant from the PPK boards was kind enough to help me out. We had a fun little "mini-swap" with each other. In return for these two bags of butterscotch chips, I sent her some Ricemellow and natural, vegan soap bars. I've been trying to perfect my gluten-free oatmeal cookie recipe before I make some with these precious chips, but I have sampled a few (hence the opened bag in the back of the photo) and they are delicious! Of course, they do taste artificial and all, but what do you expect?

I was completely shocked yesterday when I received another package from Annieeggplant in the mail yesterday! The package included a letter in which Annie told me that she thought that her package to me was "lame" (her words, not mine) compared tot he one I sent her, so she sent me some good from an Indian market and chocolate bars. While this was completely unnecessary, I appreciate it none the less and can't wait to try some of this stuff. In her package, Anne sent me two boxes of some sort of vegan "jell-o" mix (one mango and one cherry), cardamom powder, black sesame seeds, some kind of crunchy nut candy, a small jar of asofetida, a Ritter Sport marzipan bar (my dad always gets these for me- love 'em!), and a raspberry dark chocolate bar.

Today, the surprises kept on coming! As I mentioned in my last post, I preordered the new Babycakes cookbook a few weeks ago, and it arrived today! I've been spending my night reading this book and planning what recipes I'm going to try first. Even if you eat dairy, eggs, or gluten, I suggest you buy this book because it looks amazing. The pictures are gorgeous and the layout is wonderful. I'll report back on some recipes later :)

Just to let you all know, I have been photographing some of my more impressive meals and once I have enough, I'll post about them. So please don't think I've forgotten about you all- you'll get a good food post soon!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sweet Snackin'

A few weeks ago, I pre-ordered the new BabyCakes cookbook, so you bet when I saw this recipe for blueberry muffins on the Food Network website by Erin McKenna of BabyCakes Bakery, I just had to try it. The only changes I made were substituting 1/2 c. of the GF All-Purpose flour with millet flour and using only 1/2 t. of cinnamon. I got so excited watching these bake becasue the tops puffed up a little bit (some even had nice muffin tops!) and got really golden. The muffins tasted great- not too sweet and the agave nectar really added a nice caramel-y flavor. However, only the tops and bottoms of the muffins held together- the middles just crumbled as soon as I started eating one! My family and I agreed that more xanthan gum (maybe another 1/2 t.?) needed to be used, but other than that this was one good muffins recipe! I'm now even more excited for the arrival of my cookbook in a few weeks.

I used up all of my organic peanut butter from Costco last week and my dad wasn't going again for awhile, so I had to get some from the grocery store in the meantime. Unfrotunately, the only natural peanut butter at the store I was at was Smucker's, so I grabbed that. I tried a little and realized how, compared to the organic peanut butter I had been eating for months, this kind just didn't taste like peanuts. To use some of it up, I made some trail mix bars based on the recipe on the lid of the peanut butter jar and they turned out pretty well! The only ingredient that needed to be veganized was the honey and since I made a few other changes, I'll share the recipe:

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars:

1 1/2 c. puffed rice cereal
1 1/2 c. oats (I used GF oats)
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. dried cherries/cranberries
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
2 T. pecans, chopped
1/4 c. seeded pumpkin seeds (I left these out since I didn't have any on hand)
1/2 c. brown rice syrup/agave nectar (I used a mix of both)
3 T. sugar
1 c. all-natural peanut butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Grease a 9x9 pan. Mix together the puffed rice, oats, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the brown rice syrup/agave nectar with the sugar until it boils. Boil for one minute. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Press into the grease pan and let cool. Makes 12-16 bars.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Big Ol' Bowl of VEGGIES!

The ratatouille from Gluten-Free Vegan is sooooo delicious and filling, yet I just can't get enough! My mom loves it as well, so I've been making as much of it as I can to freeze for later, but it never lasts too long. It's full of eggplant, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, zucchinis, and fresh basil from my herb garden! I just made some simple soft polenta with salt, pepper, and nooch to go with the ratatouille and it was really good. However, I think I'll made some pan-fried polenta next time I serve it because I think the contrast in textures will be better.

Any of you remember my family's new holiday I mentioned a year ago? Well, "Spring Day" actu
ally happened the first Sunday of this Spring (March 22) this year! I didn't get any pictures of the food but you aren't missing much- the food wasn't that exciting to look at, but it was good! I made the Chopped Salad from Sublime's cookbook again, and my family had burgers and quesadillas while I had a veggie burger and filled my quesadilla with refried beans. For dessert, I ran to the store and got some soy ice cream for my mom and me, dairy ice cream for my family, and a bunch of sundae toppings for a sundae bar! Also, my mom was so sweet and surprised us all that morning with a "Spring Day basket" (instead of an Easter basket) filled with candy, including some vegan candy from Trader Joe's! Even though I have no pictures, I just thought I'd let you all know that we officially do have a new holiday to celebrate in our family :)

Speaking of my herb garden, here's a picture of it all grown-up:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Random Catch-Up Meals

I know that I haven't been the world's best blogger lately, but I hope you guys understand- there just aren't enough hours in a day! I may not have been blogging regularly, but I have been cooking quite a bit, so I thought I'd share some of the highlights of my meals from the past few weeks.

Using this recipe for the seemingly famous General Tao's Tofu, I was able to recreate the taste of the Chinese take-out food that I used to love so much. I used reduced sodium wheat-free tamari for the soy sauce, reduced the sugar by a tad, and added some steamed broccoli and red bell peppers and served it all over brown rice, so I know that this dish was much healthier than any Chinese take-out I could ever find. While the sauce in this dish was amazing, my favorite part was the super crispy tofu because, despite being fried in oil, it was still so light and not the least bit greasy! I'm definitely planning on making this tofu for my family sometime- I know they'll go crazy for it.

What started out as some accidentally overcooked tofu one night turned into one of my new favorite sandwiches. I had marinaded some thinly sliced, pressed tofu in a mixture of tamari, maple syrup, ketchup, liquid smoke, onion powder, and water and baked it for a long time (about 30-40 min) at a low temperature, flipping every 15 minutes or so. The tofu wasn't becoming as crispy as I wanted, so I broiled it for about 10 min on each side, but then forgot about it for a few minutes! When I came back, I saw that the tofu was very well-done, but I decided to try it anyways. It turned out to be DELICIOUS! My brother loved it as well, so I ended up splitting it with him. I then realized that the tofu had a great texture for sandwiches and tasted a tiny bit like bacon, so my newest version of a "BLT" was created! The smokey tofu was really nice with the cool lettuce, tomato, and Veganaise. It would have been better with an avocado, but whatever- there's no way I'm gonna complain about this sandwich! Lately, I've had a big batch of baked tofu slices on hand every week so I can have a sandwich anytime I want.

As you know, I couldn't wait to try a recipe from my Sublime cookbook when I returned from Florida, so when I felt like planning some lighter meals this week I turned to the "salads" chapter of the book. The Sublime Chopped Salad seemed simple and light and I definitely made the right choice with this recipe! The salad and dressing are both simple and took no more than 10 minutes to put together. All I had to do was toss together some chickpeas, chopped tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, red onion, and kalamata olives in a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh oregano, salt and pepper and viola! Lay it all on top of some romaine lettuce and I had a perfect light dinner. My mom fell in LOVE with this salad and I think you'll see a return of it very soon....

This is from last month, but I just had to finally share it- a slice of Lemon Blackberry Raw Cheesecake that I brought home from the Chicago Diner one day after lunch with my brother. I've had their raw cheesecake several times, but this slice blew my mind and it's totally my favorite flavor. The filling and crust together tasted kinda like a Lemon Larabar, only better! And, of course, the fact that it was gluten-free only made it that much better :)

Alright- now I need help from some of you guys! If anyone knows of any sources online from which I could buy come vegan butterscotch chips, or maybe has access to some in their area and would be interested in a mini-swap, I would appreciate it very much if you could let me know. My mom has also been diagnosed with a few food allergies/intolerance, with the major ones being dairy, eggs, and gluten. She's been taking it a little rougher than I did and I just want to help her out a bit. Her biggest weakness is cookies and she hasn't been able to find any gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free cookies yet that she's really thrilled with, so that's where I'm stepping in. She told me that her favorite cookies are oatmeal scotchies so I'm taking on the mission of making us some gluten-free, vegan oatmeal scotchies, but the chips are pretty darn hard to find (as I expected). Any help at all would be greatly appreciated!

Less than 2 weeks until Spring Break! I'll have an entire week to cook and bake some great food to share with all of you.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Breakfast Sweets

I actually made these quite awhile ago as they were my first successful gluten-free baking project, but I just never got a round to posting them. I was so happy to find this recipe for Cinnamon Apple Muffins because I had some buckwheat flour to use up and my family and I could always use some apple muffins. They turned out beautifully with awesome muffin tops and perfectly sweet and cinnamon-y. After making one batch of these muffins, I made another half batch the next day (I was running out of applesauce!) and froze them to snack on for awhile and they taste just as great frozen and thawed.

I finally got around to making a big batch of granola using the recipe from The Gluten Free Vegan. The only changes I made were using puffed millet instead of the puffed rice and dried cherries and raisins instead of dates since that's what I had on hand and I couldn't believe how incredibly addicting this was! I find myself snacking on it more than eating it for breakfast, but either way it's delicious!

I've been using Katie of Chocolate-Covered Katie's recipe for oatmeal raisin pudding for awhile now whenever I make oatmeal and I finally got around to blogging about it. I used Bob's Red Mill's Gluten-Free Oats, hemp milk instead of soymilk, agave nectar and stevia as the sweeteners, and added dried cherries. This recipe is awesome- by cooking the oatmeal a second time with the added liquid, it becomes so super creamy and really is better than any rice pudding I've ever made. If you want one of the easiest and most delicious oatmeal breakfasts ever, make this recipe!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Chocolate-Covered Giveaway!

In case you haven't heard yet, Katie of Chocolate-Covered Katie (she switched to Wordpress- how exciting!) is having a SUPER awesome giveaway with the prize being an entire case of Jocalat Bars! Go here to learn more and good luck to all who enter :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I didn't take many pictures during my vacation last weekend because it was just so relaxing that I didn't bother with it a whole lot. Overall, this trip to Ft. Lauderdale much more enjoyable than last year- my cousins and aunt came along with us and they're always fun, the weather was wonderful, and I got to try a new completely vegan restaurant: Sublime!! Our first night in Florida, my mom and I decided to go to Sublime for dinner while everyone else went to a seafood restaurant that my mom doesn't like very much. The pictures you see above is of the van parked next to us which I thought was so cool because the ARFF (Animal Rights Foundation of Florida) is the owner's animal rights organization and 100% of Sublime's profits go towards it, which I think is freaking unbelievable. I had brought my camera to take pictures of our meal, but the lighting was just too dark so I didn't bother. But one thing I can promise you is that our meal was AMAZING. Honestly, my experience and meal at Sublime was probably the best I've ever had. For an appetizer, we started out with the Eggplant Rollatini and it blew my mind! The ricotta filling was so creamy and I thought it tasted very "cheesy." For our entrees, my mom ordered the Enchiladas and I had the Sublime Loaf (which was even gluten-free and made with water chesnuts, lentils, and rice), which came with mashed potatoes and asparagus. My dish was great- the slices of the loaf were crispy on the outside and had the occassional crunch from the pieces of water chesnuts. Th gravy that was served with it totally made the dish and I couldn't have imagined it being any better. My mom loved her enchiladas and we both quickly cleaned out plates. I was totally ready for dessert and, while my mom would have loved to order dessert as well, she stuck with just come coffee since she's been trying to reduce her sugar intake. After a difficult decision, I chose the Key Lime Cheesecake (also gluten-free!) and I definitely made the right choice. While it didn't have much of a key lime flavor, the cheesecake itself was sooooooooooo unbelievably creamy yet light and airy. The nut crust added a nice almost caramelly flavor and I can say with all certainty that it was better than any cheesecake I've ever had (yes- even better that the Chicago Diner *gasp*)! I left stuffed, but was so happy I finally got to eat at this restaurant!

Sunday night was our last night in Florida, so my dad told me that I could order something to go from Sublime for dinner to try it one last time before having to wait a whole year before coming back. My aunt had tried the leftovers I rought home from our first visit to Sublime, so she wanted to order something as well (though I was unable to get pictures of her meal). She ordered the dish I had the first time, the Sublime Loaf, and was super impressed by it as well. I tried the Tuscan Quiche which was filled with the same type of ricotta filling as the eggplant appetizer from my first visit so it was, of course, delicious. While the quiche was great, I think I preferred the loaf because it was just so amazing. I had asked for the Key Lime Cheesecake one again, but the hostess informed me that they only had some of their strawberry cheesecake from the Valentine's Day dinner the night before, but I was happy to try it! The strawberry version was just as delicious as the original key lime cheesecake and it was great to try both.

When my dad came home from picking up my carry out order from Sublime, he surprised me with something that my mom and I did not see while we were at the restaurant- Sublime's cookbook! I've been having fun looking through it this week and marking all the recipes I want to try and, let's just say that you'll be seeing quite a few of these dishes soon!

I'm already looking forward to next February when we'll get a chance to go back to Ft. Lauderdale, meaning that I'll be able to return to Sublime :)