Wednesday, May 28, 2008

despite the craziness, we have still been eating

I have had my face buried in textbooks and been so in my head lately, that I just haven't had much free fun time to catch up on everyone's blog or even update my own too often. Mad props to all my blog friends who have busier schedules than myself and still manage to keep up with our interactions. I need to pencil in my blog time, for sure!
This past weekend, although a very sad one, did include some good food. Since Jared and I couldn't officially celebrate our third wedding anniversary last Wednesday (since Jared was working), we ended up going to one of our favorite places, Doc Chey's, for lunch on Friday. I got my very favorite dish there called Spicy Garlic Eggplant with Tofu.
On Saturday we made taco salads for lunch. I cooked up some tofu crumbles with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and black pepper along with a can of drained kidney beans and a splash of salsa to put atop a bowl of chopped romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped avocado and diced red onion. Since it was a salad, we used my dad's tostada vinaigrette that we call Rex Sauce (mixture of white vinegar, water, canola oil, salt and sugar) and a splash of sweet Thai chili sauce. I also placed a few corn chips on the side to crunch over top. Yum!
On Saturday night, I was feeling like having a good ol' plate of food that is good for the soul. I made fried tofu triangles that were coated in cornmeal, chipotle powder, chili powder, cumin, lemon zest and salt (inspired by the Chili-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu out of Veganomicon) along with some Cajun style red beans and rice and corn on the cob. I'm sad to say that the red beans and rice was a tad bit disappointing but what else might you expect from a packaged product? The tofu was addictive and the corn was sweeter than pie!
Okay, so after class today, dropping off the recycle items, laundry and studying, I really hope to catch up on everyone's blog today!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

a very sad weekend

It feels weird to be posting about food this weekend, so I'm not going to. A friend of Jared's, who was also Jared's best friend Hank's roommate/friend, Thomas, passed away this Friday. He had been battling cancer since he was a kid and unfortunately, he didn't make it through. I knew Thomas just as acquaintances, who I really only saw out at clubs, bars or parties, but he was very well known and loved by a ton of people back in Tampa, a few of whom are mutual friends of mine. I know this must be tough for anyone who knew him, his family and girlfriend, because it has been a tough couple of days for me. It is so sad to see Jared and Hank heart broken by the loss of a friend/brother, especially Hank who lived with Thomas for several years. Thomas was a great guy who was very funny/witty and had a smile I always looked forward to seeing.
This pic was taken quite a while back, before Thomas got super sick again, but it includes Jared's best friend Hank (on the left), Jared in the middle and Thomas (on the right).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

disaster cupcakes made with love

*Update* Jared actually liked the "frosting." I believe him since he ate 3, one right after the other!

Jared and I are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary today! Well, we are at least acknowledging it because Jared is working tonight and won't be home until late. I still wanted to make today extra special, so I made chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter “frosting.”
I got both the cupcake recipe (pg. 37) and frosting recipe (pg. 151) out of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The cupcake part turned out perfectly moist, rich and chocolaty, much like a Devil's Food cake. The peanut butter frosting on the other hand was just plain awful.
I'm not sure how people make a perfectly "fluffy" frosting, but I have never had any luck, vegan or not. I know it can be done, as I have eaten my fair share of homemade cupcakes, including way too many at my first vegan potluck I attended. I know it can be light and airy with the perfect balance of fat, sugar and flavor, but whatever disaster I whipped up today wasn't it. Mine turned out greasy, way too sweet and a thick and somewhat separated goo. Even though I was expecting a pillow of whipped peanut butter atop the perfect chocolate cupcake, I wouldn't have minded the texture of the frosting so much if the taste wasn't so bland. Really, it just tasted like oily powdered sugar with little evidence of peanut butter flavor. For some reason though I was hopeful that the peanut butter goo would match up all right with the chocolate cupcake but that was just wishful thinking. Oh well.
Since the cupcake part did turn out so well, I think I may just scrape the frosting off and save the bottoms to eat with a cold glass of soymilk when Jared gets home tonight.
While it would have been nice to make the perfect cupcake to surprise Jared with, today isn't about that. Today is about making something with all my love for someone I am so lucky to be married to. Disaster or not, I know Jared will appreciate the effort!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tester Meatless Balls

While I haven't been too active in the kitchen with my own recipes, I did get around to testing Grammy's Meatless Balls for Happy Herbivore. Jared and I ate these up really fast and we both think Lindsay is a genius. I see myself making these meatless balls again and again.
Can't you just see the possibilities with these babies!
Although I could have (and did) just eat these straight up, I made a quick and simple spaghetti and meatless ball dish. Awesome!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dangerous Brownies

When I became vegan, like the rest of you, I thought that some of my favorite childhood recipes would be completely out of the question. This was especially true regarding the “Killer Brownie” recipe my step mom, Delia, is famous for. If I recall, her brownie recipe was simply sugar, flour, eggs, butter and some sort of extract such as vanilla, almond or orange. Somehow, these few ingredients (and tons of them) baked into magical bite-sized squares that could be devoured in a day or two. They were dangerous but amazing. I never thought any vegan brownie recipe could match up to Delia’s Killer Brownies until I made Hannah Kaminsky’s Crumb-Topped Brownies out of My Sweet Vegan.
Due to some personal preferences, I did make a couple changes to Hannah's recipe. I am not a huge fan of cherries, so instead of using black cherry soy yogurt, I used raspberry soy yogurt. Raspberries and chocolate are one of my favorite combos, so this was a good move for my taste buds. I also left out the instant coffee powder because coffee isn't too kind on my body. I do love coffee and I know what it does in chocolate dessert recipes, so I can only imagine how awesome the hint of coffee would have been. Along with the vanilla extract, I added a touch of almond extract. The crumb topping and the chocolate chips were a nice touch and made me feel like I was eating a gourmet brownie you’d get at a fancy pants bakery, but honestly, I could’ve skipped the topping and left out the chocolate chips and they still would have been ranked one of the best brownies out there. While Hannah’s recipe does have quite a few more ingredients than my step mom’s recipe and created a sink full of mixing bowls, spoons and measuring cups, they are just as rich, fudgy, decadent and deadly as the Killer Brownies I grew up on.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

laptop issue

**Update** My laptop might still be under warranty!

I'm sorry I haven't been reading everyone's blogs in the past week. The connector jack on my laptop (the jack that connects the adapter to the computer) decided to short circuit and is no longer able to charge my computer, which is apparently a rather common thing on Gateways. Thankfully, we have a second computer, a Mac, that Jared uses for music stuff so I can make this quick update and check my emails. The Mac has also started to be a troublemaker and so I try not to use it for long periods of time. Hopefully, within the week we will be able to have my laptop up and running again and I can catch up with everyone!!!
Thank you to all who wished me congrats on my one-year vegan anniversary and one-year Atlanta anniversary. You rock! Also, to make a very long day short, my orientation went well and I am officially a student again. My In State tuition status was accepted which means cheap tuition! I start my first three summer session classes on May 27th. Two of the three classes this summer are chemistry and a chemistry lab. I haven't had any chemistry studies since I was a freshman at FSU in 1997 and its been 6 years since I graduated from USF, so it's also been a while since I was in a college setting. Yikes!
Just for kicks, I found a picture of one of my very first days at FSU taken June of 1997! My baby brothers Drew (in the red, who is now 19) and Stephen (next to me, who is about to turn 22 in a few weeks) and my beautiful mom are also in the picture. I remember this day as if it just happened yesterday and cannot believe that this picture was taken about 11 years ago when I was a fresh-faced and very smiley 17-year-old freshman.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Orientation Smoothie Shake, Bikes!

**Update** Jared has informed me he put his break back on his bike.

I am not one to eat breakfast when I wake up but I have my orientation this morning at the college and know I'll need something in my belly to help me pay attention. I made a very filling smoothie shake out of vanilla soymilk, a frozen banana and a handful of frozen strawberries. I seriously doubt the campus will have any thing to munch on today and the orientation lasts about 4 hours, so I may have to pack a snack.
Oh, and I also wanted to show off our bikes. We went biking in downtown Decatur on the Trail this past weekend and had a lot of fun. It's starting to get hot though!
My bike is the pink Schwinn cruiser bike and Jared's is the orange IRO fixed gear/no break. I'm thinking about selling my cruiser bike and getting a fixed gear myself, although I personally would like to have a break on mine. Jared is super into bikes, so it would be a nice hobby for us to share together. You can check out Jared's blog here.
I love this picture of Jared!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

a weekend of two anniversaries

It was this weekend last year that I moved from Tampa, Fl to the Atlanta, Ga area. It has truly been one of the best years of my life. Mind you, I do miss living near our families, but it was always a dream of mine to move to Atlanta, and Jared and I made it happen. We are close to the mountains (my favorite scenery) and we actually had four distinct seasons instead of just two seasons in Florida (too hot and not as hot). I got to enjoy snow for the first time in my life (at least that I can recall . . . I was, after all, born in Indiana). In this year, I decided to make a career change by going back to school, something I probably wouldn't have done in Tampa because I had a comfortable job there. I got to experience life as a homemaker on accident since finding a job here has proved to be almost impossible. Lastly, one of the biggest things this year has brought was a complete lifestyle change by becoming vegan.
This weekend marks my one-year anniversary of being a vegan! Deciding to live a cruelty free life has been one of the most satisfying changes in my life. I don't miss anything about being an omnivore because I have exponentially improved my cooking and baking skills by recreating my old favorites. I had a 40 drop in my cholesterol levels, love that I am no longer tempted to eat at 99% of the restaurants I would have in the past and maybe most importantly, my soul just feels so much better knowing that I am not contributing to any suffering for our gastronomical cravings or fashion needs.
Jared helped me celebrate my one year vegan anniversary by taking us out to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta: Soul Vegetarian. We rarely eat out now that we are savings for school costs, so when I get to eat at Soul Veg, I do it up right.
Most meals here start with a nice little salad with their famous Prince Dressing (which is what I loosely base our homemade house dressing on).
Jared also got a small bowl of Orange Lentil soup with his salad.
For my main meal (not the greatest picture), I got what I affectionately call, the "brown plate" which includes BBQ cauliflower (deep fried battered cauliflower drenched in BBQ sauce . . . trust me it is sooo good) and 2 sides. I almost always get their famous mac and cheese with onion rings. I could be less naughty and get collard greens or broccoli for a side but it's hard to pass up the mac and cheese and the BEST onion rings on the planet.
Jared got his usual tofu sandwich with onion rings. This sandwich kinda has a fried fish thing to it since it's dredged in a cornmeal batter and then placed on a bum with their homemade tarter sauce. You can't go wrong with this!
If lunch at one of my favorites places wasn't enough, Jared also took me to Abbadabbas and bought me pair of new flip-flops. I love shoes, generally, but I almost always wear flip-flops. I had my last pair for so long and wore them so often that the bottoms were completely slick. It feels weird breaking in these new flip-flops but I love them so much!
What's the best way to celebrate two anniversaries? Ice cream, of course! I have an ice cream maker but didn't have time to make a base to chill and then freeze, so we went to Whole Foods and picked up some Purely Decadent, my favorite brand of soy ice cream. They were on sale too! I was in a chocolate mood but they were all out so I tried a new flavor called Turtle Trails, which has caramel sauce, chocolate covered pecan pralines in vanilla ice cream. YUM!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

Jared has been working really long, weird hours this week, so I made him these cookies. I used the Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal cookie recipe from VWaV but added a handful of chocolate chips because Jared loves chocolate and peanut butter together (I don't know many people who don't though). I halved the recipe so we wouldn't have too many cookies around the house and instead of making 12 big cookies I decided to make "normal" sized cookies (which yielded about 20 cookies) so we wouldn't feel as guilty eating more than one! They aren't big or gigantoid but they are pretty damn amazing.