Monday, December 31, 2007

last post of the year- Faux Feta Cheese Pasta

Growing up, a weekly meal my dad and I would make was feta cheese pasta. It was a very simple, yet delicious meal of thin spaghetti, feta cheese (sometimes we got the special French variety from our local Middle Eastern grocery store), green onions and garlic cooked in olive oil with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. That's it. It was a dish I thought I would never get to have again as a vegan since feta has such a distinct flavor and texture that is hard to match. When I saw Leigh from Raspberry Swirl (Leigh is also co-owner of Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe in Atlanta) had made a pizza with some faux feta cheeze (and had some at at Cosmo's for sale) I got very excited. We ended up going down there soon after and buying a package of the lemon oregano variety with very high expectations. While the faux feta smelled exactly like feta and had a nice crumble to it, the taste and mouth feel of it was not feta like . . . to me anyway. Jared thought it tasted pretty right on, but you have to understand how much feta cheese pasta I ate as a kid (and grown up), so I knew what I was missing. It didn't have that melty but still intact texture I was craving, in fact is was a bit on the grainy side to me. Oh well. It wasn't a complete flop. The green onions, garlic and olive oil with the salt, black pepper and cayenne was exactly as I remember with the pasta. I think a lot of people would really like this faux cheese product, unless they are ex-cheese snobs like I am and have a very delicate palate for that sort of thing. Any way, I hope everyone has a fun but safe New Year's Eve and wonderful start to the New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

TVP: CHUNKS VS. GRANULES (they both win)

My soy sensitivity has gotten better now that I have not been eating soy, namely tofu, as much as I use to. I have been slowly adding soy products such as soymilk, tofu and TVP back in to my diet over the past few months. Tofu still gives me problems, but everything else, including TVP has been okay. I have been experimenting with TVP the past few days and fell back in love.
I have used TVP chunks in soups and stews but my favorite use of TVP chunks is to make TVP Teriyaki Jerky. This was one of the first things I made when I first became vegan because I loved the jerky at the store, but it is so expensive for what little amount you got. I discovered why it was so pricy . . . it takes TIME to make your own. I have done different versions and I have yet to come up with a set recipe but my favorite kind has about a cup of tropical juice blend, about a cup of pineapple juice, couple splashes of soy sauce, couple squirts of agave nectar, a couple tablespoons of natural sugar, a couple large peeled pieces of fresh ginger and about five large fresh garlic cloves (kept whole). In a saucepan, I combine these ingredients and heat until everything is dissolved and has had some time to thicken a bit. In the mean time, I rehydrate the TVP chunks (about a cup or so) with boiling water. I placed the drained, rehydrated TVP in the cooking liquid and cooked it down until it was syrupy. I drained the marinated TVP, placed it on a cookie sheet and into my oven at 175 degrees for about an hour (tossing it a few time through out). What results is a mighty fine homemade version of TVP jerky. If you've never made homemade TVP jerky, give it a shot one lazy afternoon. It tastes great on it's own as a snack or chopped into small pieces and used in place of baco-bits like in salads, on baked potatoes or in twice baked potatoes.
TVP granules are excellent as taco fillers but my favorite use of the granules are in chili. I make this batch of chili mostly when I'd like some leftovers around for chili dawgs. So, tonight's dinner (and chili dawgs tomorrow!) was my Cincinnati style chili. I sautéed a sweet onion in canola oil until they were translucent (probably my favorite culinary word) and added some TVP granules in with the cooked onion for a minute or two so that the TVP gets a nice coating of oil so it won't be too mushy. I then added in agave nectar, garlic salt, black pepper, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, cinnamon and cocoa powder along with a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, a can of pinto beans and a can of dark red kidney beans. Once everything was heated through, I blended most of it with my immersion blender until it looked mostly ground up. I do like to keep some of the chili with whole beans so you can see what kind of beans are in it. I added a few crunched up corn chips on top to make it extra tasty.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day filled with loads of good food and great company. Due to Jared's work schedule, we had to stay in Atlanta for Christmas. It is our first Christmas that we have spent just the two of us, unless you count our dog, Sweetpea and our cat, Peeny (which we do). I made lasagna for lunch today, along with some garlic bread. The lasagna was just made with a jarred tomato sauce (I know, it's kinda cheating, but I'm tired!), along with the Cashew Ricotta from Veganomicon (pg. 206), lasagna noodles and homemade toasted bread crumbs for good measure. I made French bread yesterday so I slathered a few slices up with whipped Earth Balance and garlic to go along with the lasagna. Not exactly traditional Christmas fare, but it was still pretty good. For dinner I think we are just going to have salads and maybe some left over lasagna!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

cheeze "steak" plate, homemade ice kream

Tonight's meal was really, really great. We picked up three new items this week: "Philly Style" Steak Tofurky Deli Slices, Vegan American Slices and 123'z and Chreese. We were mad impressed with all three products, especially the 123'z and Chreese. We found accidentally vegan "steak" rolls at our supermarket, which was also pretty great. I sautéed a sweet onion in olive oil, sea salt and natural sugar until the onions were caramelized. I added the "steak" slices in with the onions to heat it through. Next I toasted up the rolls and added Vegenaise and Vegan American slices on the rolls. What resulted was a pretty darn close version of a Philly Cheese Steak, minus the green bell peppers since we aren't a huge fan. We had a side of the 123'z and Chreese and steamed broccoli. Well rounded and awesome!
Jared and I got one another this ice kream maker for Christmas and couldn't wait to use it.
So, I made a Maple Brown Sugar Buttery Pecan Ice Kream that had soymilk, soy creamer, arrowroot powder, Earth Balance margarine, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract and chopped pecans. So good!
Before the pecans were added and still spinning:
After the pecans were added and still spinning:
Final product:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

chik'n potpie: inspired by my mom and step mom!

Yes, more comfort food. It's still cold out and I have wanted to make this for a long time now. Growing up, my mom made potpie about once a week with store bought piecrust, chicken breast, frozen mixed veggies and chicken gravy. During college, I lived with my dad and step mom and use to make them this chicken pot pie every once in a while. After I moved out, my step mom, Delia, made what she called a Mock Lori Chicken Pot Pie with puff pastry instead of piecrust. So, I made her version tonight since I have yet to use puff pastry as a vegan. Pepperidge Farm's frozen puff pastry IS vegan, by the way. I used some frozen chik'n strips that I browned up in a pan. Once the chik'n was browned I removed it and instead of frozen veggies I sautéed carrots, celery, onions together with olive oil, poultry seasoning, sea salt and black pepper. In a separate pan I parboiled potatoes and frozen petite peas. I combined the chik'n, sautéed veggies, potatoes and peas together. I then made gravy with Earth Balance buttery stick margarine, all-purpose flour, a box of veggie stock, sea salt and black pepper. I mixed the chik'n & veggies in with the gravy, added it to a casserole pan and topped the mixture with one thawed puff pastry. I baked the potpie at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the top was golden brown. The gravy wasn't as thick as I would have liked, but it was still AMAZING!
Right out of the oven:
Served and about to be eaten:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

veggies n' dumplings

Pre-vegan days, I was a huge chicken n' dumplings fan. Now that I think of it though, I was, and still am, more of a dumplings and broth fan. Tonight it is going to be 24 degrees and has been a steady low 40's/high 30's all day so I wanted something both nostalgic and warm. I was originally just going to make a veggie and bean soup, but wasn’t in a bean kinda mood. So, I sautéed onions, celery and carrots together with olive oil and sea salt until translucent. Then I added a few diced small red skinned potatoes, a box of veggie stock, water, a bay leaf, black pepper and dry thyme. Realizing this wasn't a very substantial soup, I decided to thicken the broth and make dumplings. In a small pan I combined two tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of margarine to make a roux. I added probably two cups of the broth (with a few bits of veggies) from the soup until it looked like a very thick gravy. I added the gravy back into the bigger pot of veggie soup and watched as it became stew-like.
I like a fluffy, biscuit like dumpling, not the dense, chewy kind that sink to the bottom. If you like a chewy dumpling, this is NOT for you.
The dumpling recipe I came up with was:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1/4 cup of vegan shortening (I use Spectrum brand)
3/4 cup plain soy milk WITH 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together and cut the shortening in with your fingers until it resembles wet sand. In a measuring cup, mix soy milk and lemon juice together and be amazed (it gets soooo thick!). Add soymilk/lemon juice mixture to the flour mixture and stir until it just comes together. Drop by the tablespoon into the simmering pot of stew-like soup, and cover with a tight fitting lid for 15 minutes. These dumplings will get a bit soaked through after a while, but I actually like that feature.
This definitely hit the spot on such a cold night!
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Sunday, December 9, 2007

very busy weekend in the kitchen

I'm not sure what got over me, but starting Friday and ending a few minutes ago, I spent more time in my kitchen than I have in a very long time. It was an awesome weekend of good eats!
First things first . . . As soon as I saw these Spicy' N Sweet Maple-y Nuts from Bazu's blog, I knew I HAD to make them. These are some of the best spiced nuts I have ever had.
Make these now. Right now.
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Here is a beautiful loaf of French bread I made, which has been the BEST batch of bread I have made in my new bread machine. It had the least amount of ingredients and took the most amount of time (5 HOURS!) but it was so worth it.
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I cut all the crust sides off and made garlic toast with them and used the non-crust white inside of the bread to make these croutons.
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I used the crouton recipe in Veganomicon (pg. 81-82) and also made the Caesar dressing recipe. I was trilled with the croutons and thought the dressing was pretty good but not like Caesar salad dressing. I'd make it again though.
Friday night I made an Asian Noodle Soup. A few weeks back I had made an Asian inspired veggie broth out of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, black pepper and soy sauce and froze it. I thawed/reheated the broth and in my steamer, steamed cabbage, zucchini and baby bok choy. For the noodles, I used an eggless wonton wrapper, cut into strips, which I found in the frozen section of our local Asian market. I boiled the strips of wontons separately (which only took like a minute), added the cooked noodles to a bowl with the steamed veggies and broth ladled over everything. Topped with green onions, this was very filling and an awesome way to use up extra wonton wrappers.
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Saturday, I made the Blueberry Streusel Muffins from the Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide. My new favorite thing is using soy yogurt in my baked goods because they lend such a nice sour note that really brings everything together. This time I used a blueberry flavored soy yogurt, which turned the batter purple. These are probably my favorite muffins and they taste great with any fresh or frozen berry.
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Today I made one of our old stand by meals . . . the beloved tostadas (although, they look more like nachos). These had blue corn chips, some chipotle pinto beans I blended up, tomatoes, red and green onions, some of my Dad's famous Rex Sauce (sweet & vinegary), sweet Thai chili sauce and some of my homemade guacamole. Jared added some left over cut up romaine lettuce on his. I never get tired of these.
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And last but not least . . . my new favorite dinner. Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets (pg. 133), garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and soy sausage saw mill gravy (same stuff I pure over my biscuits when we have biscuits and gravy).
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

culinary loves and dislikes

I have seen some of my favorite vegan bloggers in the past post about things they love love love and things they rarely cook with or eat. I haven't been making anything too interesting lately (except bread with my new bread machine) so I decided to list things that I couldn't live without and things I could always do with out.

Starting with the loves:
1. Avocado- when I was a kid, I thought I hated avocado or more specifically, guacamole . . . this hatred ran deep even though I never tried it. Finally when I was about 23 my friend Katie (also a vegan!) made her famous guacamole and I decided to try it. She single-handedly changed my mind about avocados and I fell in love with them instantly. Its full of fat, flavor and believe it or not, fiber!
2. Potatoes- I have never ate a potato I didn't like. I like them roasted, baked, fried or in a soup or stew. Before I was vegan, I was trying not to eat dairy for an elimination diet and decided that I actually love a plain ol' baked potato with sea salt. Its kinda cool to taste something like that so simply. My favorite way to eat a potato though is hash brown style fried in canola oil with garlic salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sweet onions, soy sausage and maple syrup. That's right, maple syrup.
3. Tomatoes- Growing up, I spent a LOT of time with my Grammie and Poppie. They always had a garden and in the summer time always had tons of tomatoes. Being from the south (they spent half the time in Tennessee/Appalachian Mountain area, and the other half in Florida which is technically in the south) we had tomatoes at every meal. My favorite was having biscuits, gravy and slices of tomato with just salt and pepper on them for breakfast. I still to this day eat sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper . . . they just don't taste as nice as my Grammie and Poppies.
4. Watermelon- If I wasn't allowed to eat any other fruit for the rest of my life except watermelon I would be okay with that. I love the sweetness, juiciness (so juicy it quenches a thirst!) and I like that it is it's own bowl. In fact one of my fondest memories as a kid was my dad getting a watermelon from a guy's pickup truck on the side of the road, coming home and having him cut it in half. He'd stick a spoon in each half and we'd eat it as if it was in a bowl. He'd always have to finish mine off though, so he'd get 3/4ths of a huge watermelon . . . luckily he loves watermelon as much as me. I bet I could finish a whole watermelon off now all by myself.
5. Coconut Milk- As a vegan, I appreciate coconut milk now more than ever. Thai has always been one of my favorite cuisines and we all know that coconut milk is a predominant base for all of their lovely sauces. My favorite coconut based Thai dish is red curry peanut sauce. Oh man. I also love coconut milk in smoothies and rice puddings. Yum!
6. Onions/Garlic/Shallots/Chives- Sweet onions, such as the Vidalia, are my favorites, but I also love red onion and green onions. I am not sure what food would be like if I never knew of onions. Imagine a world without ONION RINGS!!! Leeks are pretty rad too, especially in soups. There are few dishes I make without garlic and few vinaigrettes I don't have shallot in. I also couldn't see a dip or baked/roasted potatoes with out some chives snipped in. Ironically, I use to hate onions as a kid.

Dislikes. I wouldn't say I hate anything (besides the obvious non-vegan items) but I do have strong dislike for a few items, even though at times I will suffer through a meal if they have these items.
1. Mushrooms- I've tried really hard to like mushrooms. I've had grilled portabella caps, stuffed mushroom caps, on top of pizza, in pasta dishes and in salads but I just can't like them. Funny thing is, I like the flavor, I just can't stand the texture. My brain thinks of them slimy and rubbery. The only mushrooms we usually have in the house is if Jared does the shopping (he loves them) OR we do have some dried shitaki mushrooms for when I am making an Asian veggie broth, which of course they would be strained from. Sorry, I just can't like mushrooms.
2. Olives- Like mushrooms, I have tried over and over to like them. I LOVE olive oil, I like the flavor of a briny olive juice but I just cannot like the texture of olives. I will eat olives if they are in something, but not a whole lot of them. Canned black olives are an absolute NO though . . . the kind they put on nachos and pizza. Those just gross me out.
3. Artichokes/Artichoke Hearts- I'm not sure why I don't like artichokes. There is something texturally I don't like. They seem chewy and that is not something I like in a veggie. Pre-vegan days, I was known to partake on the famous spinach artichoke dip at parties (you know, the dip in the big bread bowl) but I went out of my way to avoid the chunks of artichokes. My dad made artichoke dip that he blended very, very well and it wasn't bad. I will not eat them in a salad, pasta dish or on a pizza. I might try a fresh artichoke boiled and then the leaves dipped in melted Earth Balance, but that is a big maybe.
4. Brown Rice/Whole Wheat Pastas- The difference with this dislike is that I will eat these things if that is what people make for dinner but you'll never see my buying or serving such things. Jared loves these things but I just never got into them. Growing up, we just never had brown rice or whole wheat pastas and my palate is just really use to the sweet, starchiness of the white varieties.
5. Raisins- One of the very few dried fruits I can't stand. I just can't get past the thought that they were once grapes. I know and love the taste of grapes and it just seems wrong to make them all wilty and make them not taste like a grape. Again, I would eat raisins in very small amounts but you won't see my oatmeal cookies with them or my celery peanut butter snacks with raisin "ants."

What are some of your Loves and Dislikes?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Harmony, Bake Off

After reading about Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant from Luminous Vegans' blog (who I actually got to meet today!) we have been there 3 times and it gets better every time. It is on the outskirts of Atlanta and takes a bit to get there but it so worth the drive. One of my favorite things they have there is actually something they give to use at the start of the meal. I eat it as both a salad and palate cleanser and it is made out of grated carrot, daikon radish and cabbage marinating in a sweet rice vinegar. I am gonna start making this at home because it s that good.
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I got the General Tso's "Chicken" (my new favorite thing there)
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and Jared got the "chicken" with sting beans, which also rocked!
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Today was the 2007 Holiday Bake-Off at Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe. I ended up making an Amaretto Cheezecake with a cinnamon graham cracker crust. It actually turned out really good . . . But not good enough to win : (
Here are some pictures of the bakeoff goodies:
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Jared and I at the bake off
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It was a lot of fun being in a room full of like-minded people. It was especially cool to meet fellow local vegan bloggers (check them out Luminous Vegans), who we hope to hang out with in the near future.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spicy Jamaican Patties

I am testing out old recipes and decided to change up my Jamaican patties. Normally I make these with TVP granules and tomato sauce along with seasonings but today I was out of TVP. I made this batch out of sweet potatoes, light red kidney beans, onions, garlic, cinnamon, all spice, cayenne pepper, sea salt and curry powder. The pastry is my homemade recipe, which is a basic pie crust. To round off this meal I had a modest salad (romaine, grape tomatoes with Our House Dressing) and an orange sliced up. This has been one of my better lunches in a while.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

caponata, the perfect pizza dough

I am not a big fan of olives but my dad made some caponata while I was visiting and I discovered that, despite having olives, I love the stuff. I made up my recipe that turned out awesome.
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1 medium eggplant (I peel mine, cube it, salt it and let drain for about 30 minutes)
1 medium sweet onion sliced thinly
5 medium cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
14.5 oz can of peeled and petite diced tomatoes
2 tbsp natural sugar (or agave would work)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (more or less to taste)
2 tbsp drained capers roughly chopped
1/4 cup green olives (with pimentos) roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley roughly chopped
Olive oil for cooking

After the salted eggplant has drained for about 30 minutes, rinse off the salt from the eggplant with cold water. Then with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels squeeze eggplant out so they aren't super wet. In a large skillet (I use non-stick) liberally coat the pan with olive oil and fry the cubes of eggplant until completely cooked through and have a nice color on them. In a seperate medium pan, sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the can of tomatoes, sugar and salt and pepper. Once that cooks for a few minutes, add the cooked eggplant, adjust seasonings and turn off the heat. Stir in the red wine vinegar, capers, olives and parsley.
Some people eat this with toasted bread as a dip. Jared and I had the warm caponata over pasta though and it rocked!
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I had a few interested people in my pizza dough to use for the pan fried pizza I made a couple posts back.
With the guidance of my awesome dad, here is a really great pizza dough that I now make in the bread machine. If you don't have a bread machine, you'd have to knead it by hand until it was elastic and let it rise until doubled in size.

1 1/4 cup warm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp active dry yeast (or you could just use 1 packet, which is 2 1/4 tsp)
1-2 tsp sea salt (depending on your palate)
2 tsp natural sugar
1-2 tbsp Olive oil (i just do a couple glugs, so this is a guess)

Add the ingredients in order to the bread machine pan. The setting on the bread machine should be PIZZA/PASTA DOUGH (that's what it is called on mine). Once it has risen, you can use it right away or store it in the fridge for a day or two. I shape my pizza by flouring the counter top and roll it out until desired thickness with a rolling pin. I'm sure this pizza dough could be baked in the oven as a traditional pizza but I have only used it in the pan fried method, which is my new favorite way to eat pizza. I made a pizza with some of the left over caponata (reheated).
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

eatin', hangin' & a bread machine

Jared and I went to Florida for Thanksgiving and it was a whirlwind trip. We got to Ocala, Fl to spend Thanksgiving Day with my grandparents, dad and step mom. We left Atlanta so early that by the time we got to Ocala, I was delirious and forgot to photograph the food I brought. We had garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, green beans, corn and banana bread. It wasn't the best spread I ever put out but it was more about having a meal with my family. After we ate, we headed down to Tampa and stayed with my dad and step mom. Besides all the good eats at the house, we made a trip to one of Jared's favorite restaurants in Tampa called Trang (sorry, no website), which is a Vietnamese place with two full pages of vegan options!
I wasn't super hungry so I got three appetizers including wonton soup, sesame lemongrass "beef" and spring rolls (which weren't very pretty).
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On Saturday, my sister Erin had her baby shower. The shower was at a Mexican restaurant called Red Mesa. The menu was lacking vegan selections but I spoke with the staff and they made me a bean burrito with enchilada sauce on top and a side of roasted corn, red peppers and spinach. I also added some guacamole and it was very tasty! I was so wrapped up in the shower activities that I forgot to take a picture of my food but I did happen to snap a picture of my step mom and sister.
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Besides hangin' out with all my family, I also scored a barely used bread machine my dad bought at a garage sale. He got it a while back and has been teasing me about a kitchen gadget he had for me when I came to visit. I was totally thinking it was a garlic press or something small like that and then he brought out this super fancy bread machine. I am one happy girl!
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As soon as I got home I made a loaf of whole wheat agave sunflower seed bread. Yum!!!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a lovely day tomorrow. Jared and I are going to be having Thanksgiving with my grandparents. Then over the weekend, we are hanging out with my dad and step mom, Jared's mom and dad and my sister is having her baby shower on Saturday. So, I will probably not be posting the next few days (although, I hope to still be checking on everyone else's posts).
Anyway, check out this crazy way I learned how to make a pizza. My dad sent me an article about pan-frying the pizza dough in olive oil on the stovetop. I have to say, I enjoyed the crust a LOT more with a crispy, olive oil coated crust . . . Plus, it only took minutes to make it! If you would like to experiment with this, here is the link to the article.
After the dough was pan-fried:
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Topped with tomato sauce mixed with tofu crumbles and Italian seasoning along with vegan parm sprinkle cheeze on top. I only ate some of the crust, but Jared said this was an awesome pizza!
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nog Cheezecake


Ever since I heard about the 2007 Holiday Bake-Off at Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe I have been racking my brain as to what I would make. I knew I wanted to try something new, which is brave and bold for a bake-off. I felt a craving of eggnog come over me. Then I remembered my Dad making a Pumpkin Cheesecake, so I decided to start searching for and practicing a vegan holiday cheezecake. Today I made a Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake I found on the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog. I followed this recipe exactly this time, just to see what the taste and texture would be like. It rocked, if you are an eggnog fan like I am. Since one of the rules in the bake-off is that if a recipe from another person's cookbook (and I assume also someone's blog) is used, it cannot be an exact copy of the recipe. So, I think I am going to try to incorporate pumpkin in my cheezecake, use brown sugar instead of regular sugar (not bleached!) and use Disaronno Amaretto, which is apparently suitable for vegans. OR maybe I'll just use the Disaronno and add cinnamon in addition to the nutmeg. Who knows . . . I'll come up with something tasty though.
I cannot wait to make a few changes to see if I can win one of the categories in the bake-off! If it doesn't work out, at least I found an awesome vegan cheezecake recipe.
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Florida on a plate, biscotti

Last I checked, it's gonna be in the low 30's tonight . . . which is just crazy to me. I decided to warm up by making a wonderful Florida inspired meal of black beans, yellow rice and fried plantains. I grew up eating this food so I still really enjoy eating it, especially with hot sauce splashed all over everything. The black beans had onions, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, tomato paste and a bit of red wine vinegar at the last minute of cooking. The yellow rice is just a pre-seasoned packet of yellow rice that turned out to be accidentally vegan. OHHH, and fried plantains . . . what until the skin turns black on the plantain (trust me!), peel and thinly slice on a bias, fry in canola oil (or olive oil) on low-medium heat until golden brown. Frying on a lower heat insures the sugars develop in the plantains before they burn. If you've never had a fried plantain, you best get ya one and try it now. It's like eating dessert with your dinner. The beans and rice are usually topped with a thinly chopped sweet onion, but tonight we had red onion, which was still very tasty.
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I also made the hazelnut-chocolate biscotti from Veganomicon (pg. 241) that turned out pretty awesome. It is not a super sweet cookie but has a deep, rich taste. Making biscotti is a two-step process but these are so worth it if you are a biscotti fan. Even though I no longer drink coffee, these were still good on their own . . . and I'm sure even better dunked in a latte made with hazelnut milk.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


We finally got our hands on Veganomicon and the very first thing we made was the Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls (pg. 47). We couldn't stop there, so we also made a few of our own creations. I did the prep including making the rice, tempeh mixture and cut the veggies. I also made a sweet and spicy dipping sauce that had soy sauce, Thai chili sauce, agave nectar and sesame oil. Jared did the rolling and then I cut the rolls. We were a good team on this!
The Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls were fantastic! They had the Nori seaweed, rice, tempeh mixture (tempeh, Vegenaise, chili and sesame oil), green onions and avocado. I highly recommend you make these. We also made four other rolls that contained some combination of grated carrots, cucumbers, green onions, avocado, spicy tempeh mixture and toasted black and white sesame seeds. Jared was even able to make an inside out roll which was very impressive! It was a lot of work, from start to finish about an hour to make all the rolls. When we sat down to eat, they were gone in about ten minutes!!! My fears of making homemade sushi are gone and we can't wait to make these again!
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Village Pizza, Cookies

I haven't felt too much like cooking lately. I think because it's been kind of cold here in Atlanta (30's-60's) which a big change from Tampa, Fl. My warm and cozy comforter has been too seductive to want to get out of bed. So, in times like this, we are thankful to have, Village Pizza, an awesome pizza place that offers up an incredibly delicious vegan pizza. This pizza has vegan mozzarella, faux sausage and pepperoni, onions and green bell peppers (it also comes with black olives and mushrooms, which we skip since I don't like them). Despite some of my food intolerances, I do sometimes eat things that don't always agree with me. Luckily, I didn't feel too lousy after eating this pizza, probably because I rarely eat these things now. Sorry this isn't a very good picture, our camera has been acting up. This picture definitely doesn't do it justice.
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Even though I haven't felt like cooking, the baking bug has bitten me. I made two different kind of cookies. The first batch was the Apple Butter Cookies from The Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide. These scream cold weather, so if you have this book, give these a try.
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I also made up a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I based off of a few different sources. My version is very naughty. They have Earth Balance buttery stick margarine, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla extract, unbleached all purpose flour, baking soda, sea salt and loads of chocolate chips. Next time I will add some pecans or walnuts to these.
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Monday, November 5, 2007

PB & J Balls

When we are running low on baking items in the pantry (like flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc) I make some sort of peanut butter ball since we always have peanut butter in the fridge. I made up this recipe a while back since I was having a sweet tooth attack and have been making different versions of it since, including some with melted chocolate!
Preheat oven to 275
Melt together in a medium pan on medium heat:
2 rounded tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp Earth Balance
3 tbsp agave nectar (you could probably cut this to 2 tbsp)
3 tbsp maple syrup (you could probably cut this to 2 tbsp)
a dash of sea salt
Once all that is melted together, take it off the heat and stir in a splash of vanilla extract. Next, fold in 1 1/4 cups rolled oats and 1/3 cup of either pre-roasted almond pieces or slivered & blanched almonds toasted in a pan.
Spread out the mixture in a thin layer and bake at 275 for about 15 minutes. Take the mixture out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, I spread half the mixture with raspberry preserves and the other half with blueberry preserves. The last step is a messy one. Pinch golf ball sized pieces off and roll into balls. I got 15 balls out of this batch. When I make these chocolate covered, I basically make a chocolate ganache out of dark chocolate chips, soy creamer and Earth Balance (melted together in a double boiler) and dip the peanut butter balls in half way.
The lighter ones are the raspberry PB balls and the darker ones are the blueberry PB balls. I let these cool completely before I start sampling them. They can be stored in the fridge wrapped up or well covered and left on the counter top.
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Friday, November 2, 2007

grilled veggie fajitas with guacamole

Probably one of my favorite kitchen items is my large, very heavy grill pan. It was one of our wedding presents and I am so glad we have it. A couple of nights ago I made Jared these fajitas. I cut thin strips of green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion and zucchini that I lightly coated in canola oil, sea salt and garlic. I grilled them on a VERY hot grill pan until they were all soft.
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I also made guacamole that had Haas avocados, lime juice, red onion, garlic, Thai chili sauce, hot sauce, sea salt and black pepper.
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Luckily I found some very vegan friendly flour tortillas and blistered them up on the grill pan. Stuffed with the veggies, guacamole and a touch of salsa, Jared was in gastric heaven.
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