Thursday, August 30, 2007

Crazy Bread Recipe: The Novel

First things first- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!

NEXT- Thanks everyone for eyeing my crazy bread! Since a couple of people have asked for the recipe, I will do my best to write it out for all who would like it. Keep in mind, besides the water and yeast, I don't really measure anything. Its more of a look, taste and feel the dough has.

3/4 cup warm water
1 packet dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tbsp agave nectar (approx)
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
PLUS some for your glass bowl for the first rise
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
PLUS more to knead, maybe an additional 1/2-1 cup

1/4 cup olive oil (approx)
1/4 cup agave nectar (approx)
dash of sea salt or garlic salt (I know this sounds weird but we love the sweet/savory thing)

Add the water to a large mixing bowl. The water should be cooler than bath water. If its too hot, it will kill the yeast.
Add 1 packet of dry yeast to the warm water.
Then squirt in the agave nectar and the sea salt. Mix the water, yeast, agave and sea salt until dissolved.
At this point I actually taste the water, yeast, agave and salt slurry and adjust to our taste buds. The agave helps the yeast do its thing and the salt is to make sure the bread taste good. Its best to be conservative with the salt, adding a little at a time until its salty enough for you.
Lastly, I put a glug (1-2 tbsp) of olive oil in the mixture. Everything is then mixed very, very well.
Once I have the wet ingredients combined, I add the 2 cups of flour in 1/2 cup increments. Once I have the 2 cups of flour combined with the wet ingredients, I dust the counter top with flour and place the dough on the counter. The dough at this stage looks wet and for sure needs more flour. It will be very sticky, so also add some flour to your hands.
This part is very important!!! KNEAD UNTIL YOUR ARMS HURT. Well, not hurt, but it will feel like a work out. For this recipe, I kneaded for probably 10-15 minutes, adding flour as needed. You may find you won't need a lot more flour, or you need a lot more flour but the goal is to have an elastic, smooth dough.
Once the dough looks kneaded enough and a smooth ball is formed (sorry to be vague, you'll just have to try it and see for yourself) move it to a clean glass bowl that has a touch of olive oil in it so the dough won't stick or form a skin.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it double in size, which for me took about 1 1/2 hours.
Next, spray a loaf pan with cooking spray or you can probably just coat it with olive oil. After the dough has risen, I made 8 golf ball sized dough balls and placed them in the pan. From there I made gradually smaller balls fitting them in between the larger balls. I ended up with 21 balls of dough, at 4 different sizes. Really, this part isn't that important. You can make what ever pattern you'd like.
THEN, let the balls of dough rise for a second time.
Once it is about double in size, bake it at 400 degrees (preheated of course) for 10 minutes. The tops will get brown.
While this bakes, make the glaze.
After 10 minutes, take the pan out, turn down the oven to 350 degrees and brush the glaze on the brown tops. Bake the bread at 350 for probably another 15 minutes, watching closely for it not to brown too much. It should have a nice thump to it when you tap on the top (carefully, its HOT). If it doesn't thump or isn't brown enough, bake longer.
After the bread is taken out of the oven, the bread must sit in the loaf pan for about 15-20 minutes before its turned out onto a cooling rack. Once it is turned out onto a cooling rack, you gotta let it sit for another 15-20 minutes before peeling back the pieces and enjoying.

I know this is a long description/recipe, but once you do it you should get the hang of it and you too can just improvise with the process. Its really not a lot of work, it just has several steps. So worth it!!! For a guide on how it should look, review my last post. Or if you have questions, let me know!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

spicy corn chili, crazy bread

We ate at Raging Burrito this past weekend and I finally tried their vegetarian chili atop a lovely salad with lettuce, spinach, carrots, red onions, corn chips, guacamole and salsa fresca. It inspired me to make chili tonight. I made my chili with TVP granules, yellow corn, pinto beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, cocoa powder, garlic, sea salt and agave nectar. I blended some of it with my immersion blender and topped it off with a few corn chips. The smokey chipotle and rich cocoa powder is a surprisingly awesome addition! The texture is sort of like a Cincinnati style chili, which I suspect would be amazing on a hot dawg as a left over meal.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
My dad pointed out that this bread I made looks like monkey bread. After some research, most of the recipes I found for monkey bread calls for a refrigerated canned biscuit with loads of butter. Since I made my own yeast bread, skipped the butter and balled it up myself, I decided to call this crazy bread instead. I made another batch of yeast bread as I did a couple posts back and rolled the dough into 21 balls in four different sizes and strategically placed the balls in the loaf pan for a second rise. They were topped with an olive oil and agave glaze and baked until brown and beautiful.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Besides the taste, the best part is pulling apart the pieces.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Jared and I are still relatively new to Atlanta and spend most of our weekends exploring. This weekend we were driving around in the Inman Park area of Atlanta. I was singing really loud, dancing around in the passenger seat and looking out the window when I saw it . . . the word VEGAN on a store front! I said to Jared, "I think I just saw a vegan store." Jared spotting a parking spot and immediately pulled over. Sure enough we were walking into Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, this awesomely intimate and adorable all vegan store (duh!).
They had a more than adequate book selection, where I picked up Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
They also had a great selection of cosmetics, supplements, tons of vegan snacks and loads of cute shoes, bags, shirts, wallets and belts.
I love that Atlanta keeps surprising us. I love that we have a community to support stores like this. You too can check out and shop at Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe online. If you are ever in Atlanta, check them out at 672 Highland Avenue NE.

Friday, August 24, 2007

fresh baked bread, tomato lentil soup

I love making bread. I love kneading the dough, the smell of yeast before and after baking and watching the whole thing change at every step. The bread I made today was reminiscent of yeast rolls my Grammie made when I was growing up, in both taste and smell. I started with about 3/4 cup of lukewarm water, a packet of yeast, a squirt of agave nectar, a glug of olive oil and sea salt. Once everything was dissolved, I added about 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, in 1/2 cup increments until it came together in a ball. I put more flour on my very clean counter top and kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. When all was said and done, I probably used 2 1/2 cups of flour. In a glass bowl, I covered the ball of dough with olive oil & plastic wrap until it doubled in size. After doubling in size, I put it in a loaf pan and again let it rise until it peeked over the top. I baked it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, squirting the inside of the oven with water (with my trusty squirt bottle) 3 times within that 10 minutes. Once it was browned, I brushed the top with olive oil and turned the temperature down to 375 and let it bake for another 15-20 minutes. The hard part is letting it rest in the loaf pan for 15 minutes and then letting it cool on a wire rack for about another 20 minutes.
Fascinating, something that started as this . . .
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Ended up looking like this . . .
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
And this . . .
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
To go with the bread, I made a tomato lentil soup that had onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, red lentils, tomato paste, garlic salt, black pepper, ground coriander, a vegan bouillon cube and a bay leaf.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, August 23, 2007

mexican lasagna, coconut chai rice pudding

When I went shopping this week I intended to make enchiladas but when I got home I realized I got everything to make them except the enchilada sauce. So we were just going to make bean burritos but then the flour tortillas I bought kept tearing so what would one do??? Make Mexican style lasagna instead! The filling for the lasagna had tofu crumbles made with fresh jalapeno, onion and the usual Mexican spice like cumin and chili powder. I also heated up vegetarian refried beans with tomato sauce. I layered the torn flour tortillas, crumbles, refried beans and salsa until it was about 4 layers deep. To compliment the lasagna I made two toppers. One was guacamole made with avocado, fresh lime juice, fresh jalapeno, garlic, red onion, agave, sea salt and black pepper. The other topper was a raw salsa made with fresh white corn off the cob, diced tomatoes, fresh jalapeno, fresh lime juice, red onion, sea salt and black pepper.
Unfortunately, this picture doesn't show off the layers, but boy was it tasty!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I have made and posted about my rice pudding before but this one was especially good so I had to post about it this time. This rice pudding was made with left over jasmine rice. I heated coconut milk up with natural sugar, ground cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and tiny bit of corn starch. The heated, strained and spiced coconut milk was added to the jasmine rice until well combined. In honor of my step mom, Delia, bowls of this chilled chai rice pudding were topped with whipped soy cream.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

mashed potatoes: 2 days, 2 ways

Last night I made baked tofu and loaded mashed potatoes. The baked tofu was a hit with Jared but wasn't very photogenic. The mashed potatoes looked as good as they tasted though. The potatoes were made with red skinned potatoes, several cloves of roasted garlic, sea salt, black pepper, soy creamer and whipped Earth Balance. They were topped with chopped green onions and a shake of vegan "bacon" bits.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
We had left over mashed potatoes last night so I added the remaining chopped green onions to the mashed potatoes and this morning I made potato pancakes. I added a "eggy" binder of ground golden flax seeds and water and added that to the mashed potatoes with a bit of unbleached white flour. I shaped these into rounds/ovals and fried them in a little canola oil. Usually I poke a hole in the center for extra crispiness but these were a fragile batch and I was unable to do it this time. This is the BEST way to use up left over mashed potatoes and something both my Grammie and dad have done over the years. Nothing taste better than tradition.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's my Birthday!

So, it happened. I turned 28 today. First things first. My lovely husband bought me these birthday presents. I got a really cool tea press, which worked really well and a new garlic press since our old one was dead. He also got me cute stickers, a cool vegan cookbook called ExtraVEGANza by Laura Matthias and the August edition of VegNews magazine (which I now hope to subscribe to). Jared did an awesome job!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Since I needed to use the mung bean sprouts I grew last week I decided to make a miso noodle bowl for lunch today. I made a homemade broth out of celery, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, fresh parsley, black peppercorns, soy sauce and mirin. I strained the broth and added miso paste. I cooked soman noodles in a separate pot. I added raw zucchini, snow peas and mung bean sprouts to a big bowl, added the miso broth and noodles and topped it off with a bit more veggies.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
A big bummer having a birthday on a Sunday means having a nice vegan meal out was very difficult. Both of the places we tried going to tonight, Cafe Sunflower and Veggieland, were both closed on Sunday! Turns out a lot of places we like to eat at are closed on Sunday but since we usually only eat out on Saturdays, we never knew. Anyway, we ended up trying a place called Top Spice which is a Thai Malaysian place. It was pretty good and they had many things to chose from. We of course made sure no fish sauce was in our dishes.
Jared got Spicy Basil Tofu:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
And I got Garlic Tofu (Sorry the picture is dark. We turned the flash off):
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Originally, we were just going to get dessert out at Cafe Sunflower or Veggieland so we didn't make a birthday treat at home. Since those plans fell through and we didn't have time to make something, Jared and I bought an apple pie from our local health food store along with Soyatoo Whipped Soy Cream (which was absolutely AMAZING!).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, August 18, 2007

dawgs in a blanket, sundae

I couldn't call these pigs in a blanket since they are pig free and using the correct spelling of dog just didn't seem right either, so I opted for the Georgia way of saying things and called these Dawgs in a Blanket. These were just a quick lunch of veggie dawgs wrapped in crescent roll dough (which are vegan!), one sprinkled with sesame seeds and sea salt and the other just with sea salt. I also made an Agave Dijon mustard sauce for dipping. They only took about 15 minutes in all to make/bake and boy were they good!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
And to satisfy a sweet craving I made sundaes out of better pecan soy ice cream with homemade caramelized pecans on top. Yum!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, August 17, 2007

Adventures in (Mung) Bean Sprouting

When I was a kid, my dad always made various sprouts in our kitchen. I do not recall him making bean sprouts but I do remember him making alfalfa sprouts. I decided to give these a try in my own kitchen. I bought both alfalfa seeds and mung beans to sprout, I decided to 1st make mung bean sprouts.
I bought a cheap kit that came with 3 screen tops (fine, medium and course), a large mouth mason jar and very thorough instructions.
Here is a picture of the screen tops:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I started with a 1/4 cup of mung beans and a very clean mason jar topped with the medium sized screen top.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The mung beans were soaked over night in water (4 to 1 ratio of water to beans).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On day 2, the beans were rinsed twice in lukewarm water and rinsed a 3rd time in cold water. The drained beans were placed on an angle upside down for proper ventilation and drainage . . . otherwise they mold quickly.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On day 3, the beans, beginning to sprout, were once again rinsed twice in lukewarm water and rinsed a 3rd time in cold water. Once again they were placed at an angle upside down.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On the night of day 3, I changed the screen to the course setting and began to rinse away the green hulls, since these are what cause the beans to mold quickly. They were again placed upside down at an angle over night.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This morning I awoke to these lovely sprouts that I rinsed one final time to get most of the green hulls to wash away. I dried them and placed them in a bowl to keep in the fridge.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

* The initial soak water should be warm.
* The subsequent rinses should be with lukewarm water and the last rinses should be with cold water. There were a total of 6 rinses a day, 2 luke warm rinses and 1 cold rinse, twice a day (morning and night).
* The ideal sprouting temperature is 65-75 degrees.
* Mung bean sprouts like a dark, warmer temperature. Keep in mind, this is not true for every sprout/bean/seed.
* In addition to mung beans and alfalfa seeds, you can sprout lentils, wheatberries, blackeyed peas, garbanzo beans, peanuts, radish and cabbage sprouts.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jumping on the Cheezy Quacker Bandwagon!

I have seen so many people make these cheezy quackers, from what I can tell, originated from Have Cake, Will Travel!. I'm sure if I'm wrong, someone will tell me. I had to make these to see for myself what the hype was all about. I have to say, these are pretty amazing. I changed the recipe only a bit though. Instead of sea salt I used garlic salt and I also sprinkled the tops with a natural sugar and sea salt blend, for a signature sweet/savory thing I am totally about. These are way too addictive and because they are relatively simple to make, I do believe they will become a staple in our house. Unfortunately, I do not have any cute cookie cutters (yet) so I just used a pizza cutter and made squiggly lines to make different shapes. Tonight I will be having tomato soup and loads of these quackers! Get into it!!!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

best breakfast ever

I could eat this plate of food everyday. Jared and I collaborated on this breakfast. Jared made the potatoes that had onions, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in it. All I did was cut up the tomatoes and sliced up the avocado. I sprinkled some sea salt on the tomatoes and avocado. The combo of the potatoes, tomatoes and avocado are unbeatable.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

pinto stew, biscuits

So, this was probably one of the brownest meals I have ever made but it was very delicious. I broke out the crock pot for this pinto stew. I started with about a half pound of dried pinto beans, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks and an onion all chopped rather large. I added veggie stock, water, 2 vegan bouillon cubes, whole garlic cloves, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, chipotle powder, chili powder, cumin, a bay leaf and liquid smoke. I added 3 red potatoes and about 3 tbsp of tomato paste later on in the cooking. After about 6 hours on the high setting, this broth was super rich and the beans and veggies tender.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
These biscuits came out of Vegan with a Vengeance. They are the Baking Powder Biscuits (pg.26) which were really easy to make. They weren't spectacular on their own (you have to know I grew up on my Grammie's biscuits which are hard to beat) but dipped in the pinto stew they were amazing. I will make these again.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, August 13, 2007

peanut curry, chocolate covered raspberries

Last night I made Thai peanut curry sauce with tofu, steamed broccoli and jasmine rice (not pictured). I cooked red curry paste in chili oil (for extra heat!) and added coconut milk, agave nectar, soy sauce and natural crunchy peanut butter to it. Some of the peanut curry sauce was added to lightly fried tofu and centered in a ring of perfectly steamed broccoli. The dish was topped with green onions, which is a necessity. The reserved peanut sauce was added over the rice and broccoli after the picture was taken.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
We also picked up some organic raspberries on sale at the farmers market that were just begging to covered in chocolate sauce. In a double boiler (well, a pan with a little water boiling with a Pyrex glass bowl on top), I melted dark chocolate chips with a bit of whipped Earth Balance (for glossiness) and Soy creamer (for smoothness). Very awesome!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, August 11, 2007

hummus, lentil soup, shakes

Today was filled with yummy eating! Jared and I decided to get out of the house today to go look for bikes. We finally got out of the house in time for lunch and decided to go get some Mediterranean food. We went to the Olive Bistro in Atlanta but the falafel pitas weren't as good as the last time. We did order the hummus small plate which came with whole wheat and white pita that was pretty fantastic.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
For dinner, Jared made his AWESOME lentil soup. He put carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, red lentils, veggie stock, sea salt, black pepper and ground coriander. He also toasted slices of ciabatta bread to dip in the soup. I love love love this meal.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
For dessert, I made "milk" shakes out of chocolate hazelnut soy yogurt ice cream, better pecan soy ice cream and chocolate soy milk. I don't even need to tell you how wonderful this was.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

tofu triangles, watermelon and the best dressing!

When we can't think of anything we want to eat but have tofu in the house, I almost always make this snack. Sometimes I press the tofu but this time I just cut the tofu into triangles and drained them on a paper towel. They were coated in corn starch and garlic salt and shallow fried in canola oil. I made a dipping sauce out of mirin, soy sauce, natural sugar, sriracha chili sauce, sesame oil, green onions and sesame seeds (both white and black).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
My favorite part of summer, maybe the only thing I love about summer . . . WATERMELON! This one was pretty perfect.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Last but not least, the best vegan creamy style dressing ever. And I made it! It is a cross between ranch and green goddess. It is very naughty because it has the triple threat: Vegenaise, Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Tofutti Sour Supreme. I blended the three together with my immersion blender with a couple green onions, a handful of fresh parsley, agave nectar, celery salt, garlic salt, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper.
I made a salad for dinner with spring mix, broccoli, tomatoes and of course the dressing.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The dressing also tastes amazing with tortilla chips. Plus I like the green hue with the yellow corn chip. Lovely.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, August 6, 2007

Big Breakfast, Light Dinner

This past weekend was lazy, hot and humid. I did very little cooking for these reasons but did manage a Saturday morning pancake and maple glazed veggie "sausage" link breakfast. This was just my simple pancake/waffle recipe with whipped Earth Balance with veggie sausage links that I cooked with canola oil and a bit of maple syrup. If you've never had maple syrup on your "sausage" links you're missing out!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Last night I roasted Brussels sprouts and yellow summer squash in olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and whole garlic cloves. I added the roasted whole garlic cloves along with olive oil and green onions to some couscous I made. Pretty good and very simple. The veggies only took about 20 minutes to roast so the oven wasn't on for too long!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, August 3, 2007

Nachos, Chocolate Cake

Well, it's been a few days since I've blogged but honestly its been days since I stepped into the kitchen since I started a new job. I work at a local natural foods grocery store as a receiver/stocker which requires me to be on my feet (walking, standing, lifting, climbing, etc) so by the time I make it home I can hardly stand to be on my feet.
I did work today but decided to make some simple nachos. I made a pinto bean mixture with cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, sea salt, garlic, black pepper and agave nectar all mashed up a bit. I spread some blue corn chips on a baking sheet, topped the chips with the pinto bean mixture and topped them with Vegan Cheddar. I broiled the nachos but the "cheese" didn't melt which was okay because we actually enjoyed the taste and didn't miss the meltiness at all. Once broiled they were topped with tomatoes, salsa, sweet onions and sweet thai chili sauce.
Before being broiled:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Broiled and Topped:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I also got a slice of vegan chocolate cake from work today that has chocolate cream "cheese" icing. Oh my goodness!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket