Monday, December 10, 2007

Vegan Feasting

Of course, the holidays bring much feasting! I brought three dishes to my work holiday party. I figured at least this way, I could eat something besides veggies and crackers.

So, I made the Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya from Veganomicon, like I've made before. I used my own cajun spice this time (Bayou Magic - the best!), and I think it turned out even better. Although there was a good dent made in it at the party (and I loved seeing meat-eaters chow down on the seitan!), there was plenty left over to eat for dinner all week. It's so delish and easy to make!

Of course, I couldn't resist making something sweet! I've made these Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream before, but this time I think they were even better! I chopped the crystalized ginger even more finely than last time (some goes into the batter) and figured out that in order to get cupcakes that don't look like they belong to midgets (there isn't a lot of batter, so they are very flat!), I put the batter in only 10 tins on the muffin tray, and they were perfect! I even used blackstrap molasses with success, although I think that the lighter molasses looks more like gingerbread - these almost looked like chocolate! Light, fluffy and decadent.....
But then I couldn't stop there and wanted to make an appetizer, too. So, I sought out a new recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I ended up making the White Bean Dip, which was amazing! I loved the different taste of white beans (versus chickpeas in hummus), and the lemon flavor really perked it up! But I didn't have time to get fresh thyme or basil, so I used up a sprig of fresh rosemary I had laying around and WOW! I just love white beans and rosemary. Yum, yum, yum... lunch with those leftovers, too! Unfortuately, I ate it all up before I could get a pretty photo :( Now, go cook something for someone! Maybe you'll have leftovers, maybe you won't!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Eat, Drink and Be Less Wasteful!

Look at that glorious, vegan cookie! Don't you just want to hug it? OK, or eat it....This is one of Dreena's new Gluten-Be-Gone Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Our local Vegetarian Group (wish it were a vegan group, but everyone has their own path!) had their December meeting with the topic of Gluten-Free Diets and Celiac Disease. It was educating and yummy all in one! I brought these cookies, which required some special purchases: brown rice flour and xanthan gum. I was pleasantly surprised with the results, although they didn't flatten out much and the batter tasted a little funny! That may have been because I had to substitute potato starch (Ener-G-Egg) for the tapioca starch (which I later found at the store). Still, everyone was asking for the recipe!

To continue the hits with ED&BV, I made two of Dreena's chilis.
With hubby out of town for the weekend, I made something with flavors he'd never go for: Cocoa-Coconut Chili! It didn't taste like a Mounds bar - sorry! But it did taste incredibly rich, dark, and thick. Delish! I think the only change I would make would be to have more veggies in it, and fewer beans. I like that in a chili!

Speaking of which, here is a chili more to my liking - and surprisingly to my husband's! It was the Sweet Potato Lentil Chili. Yum, yum and more yum! I loved the flavors and textures, and it filled me right up! You can't get much more healthy than sweet potatoes, black beans and red lentils!

But enough exclamation marks. I leave you with something to think about this week, as you make holiday preparations and perhaps do some Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa shopping....
Although the Green Movement is just hitting it's stride (again), I have been a life-long environmentalist. I have always used cloth bags, recycled, and tried to purchase items with less packaging. My local bulk-store, BJ's, however, is the worst offender for excessive packaging. If it weren't for the great buys (and my small salary), I would quit that place today! Here is one disgusting example. I purchased a flash drive (aka thumb drive, aka key drive) for my computer. Here is the enormous, hard plastic package. It was over a foot tall.

Here is the packaging after I attacked it with scissors. Notice that there was ANOTHER plastic package within the larger one!

And here is the product that I bought.... small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Ridiculous!!! I understand that the larger package allows companies to advertise their product, and to protect it during shipping and in the store. But wouldn't it be great if they had it in a very small package and marketed the earth-friendly reduction of waste??? I am so disappointed in the company, and in myself, for not buying this elsewhere. I hope that as you make your holiday purchases, you think about these things.... To leave you on a brighter note, here is a link to a beautiful, organic cotton, reusable bag, perfect for someone on your list! Better yet, get a membership with the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, or other green organizations, and you can get a reusable bag for free, while helping the earth at the same time!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Much to be Thankful For

Ahhh... how many pounds did everyone gain this year? Thankfully, it was only one for me and I went straight to the gym this morning (but the leftovers have been taunting me all day!). At any rate, although my family was hundreds of miles away this year, my husband and I had much to be grateful for... including an incredible spread! "Feather" from Farm Sanctuary was the honored guest of our feast, as you can see in the background, next to our wonderful Frey vegan wine.

Here is a closeup of the Tofurky that we tried for the very first time this year (at my husband's request). Well, I found out that he is not going to be vegetarian any time soon, but it's not because of this meal - he gave it, "two thumbs up!" The roast looked nothing like a real turkey, thank goodness, but it tasted eerily like it. Even my husband who has eaten turkey much more recently than I (god, it's been over a decade!), said it tasted pretty authentic. He loved the stuffing (it had some wild rice in it), and couldn't stop commenting about the gravy! It was a pleasant surprise, after others had warned us against it. I recommend it highly at your next Thanksgiving meal! The best part? It's ingredients are all organic, non-GMO, and healthy!

Here it is being sliced. Now, of course I wasn't jumping up and down about it, because I don't really want to pretend I'm eating meat, but I had a slice just to try it out.

I know that some vegans hate this holiday, or at least are depressed about it, but I just couldn't feel that way this year. I know it's a horrible day for so many birds (and I shed tears every day about it), but when I think about Thanksgiving, to me it means spending time with family, cooking amazing and comforting food, and not worrying about my weight for one day. It's a celebration of food and cooking and family- three things that are a huge part of my life! But most of all, I'm thankful that my husband has been trying to eat less meat - which means fewer animals suffering and a better relationship for us! He is such a good sport....

At any rate, the side dishes were always my favorite part of Thanksgiving - I never cared much for turkey, and only ate it because I was following tradition. So, here is my plate nowadays. That's corn, two kinds of cranberries, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. I took some plain mashed potatoes later... awesome with the Tofurky gravy! Let's get a close up, shall we?

You can see the two different kinds of cranberry sauce (the nasty, in-the-can style with high fructose corn syrup a.k.a. death by sugar), and my lovely cran-orange relish (which wasn't lacking in sugar, but at least it was natural!). To the side, you see this lovely salad, topped with roasted root vegetables and a balsamic-maple dressing I composed in two seconds to wet the greens. Yes, if you try one thing from this meal, please make the roasted veggies! Here is the recipe real quick-like: One cup each (roughly!) of diced: sweet potato, turnip, carrot, and parsnip. Toss them with 2 Tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast them at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring twice. Last, mix 2 Tbsp each of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup with 1/2 cup of vegetable broth - boil for 5 minutes on the stove top and then drizzle this on the roasted veggies and roast for 5 more minutes. Divinely sweet and sour! A great way to eat those veggies you may not really care for!

Every year, I try to make a bread stuffing (or dressing, as some call it - not sure why! It's not liquidy like a dressing and I'm not eating it on salad!), and every year I'm slightly disappointed. Last year, it was too dry. This year, a bit too mushy. The flavors kicked ass though, so thanks to Susan at Fat Free Vegan for the recipe! I'll dice the bread pieces smaller next year, and maybe toast them before. I couldn't get a good photo of it . . .

This is the one dish that I didn't eat this year - green bean casserole. It calls for milk (though we used soy milk) and a can of cream of mushroom soup (definitely not vegan). Yet when when I wasn't vegan and tried it, I wasn't a big fan of this dish anyhow. I am on a mission to find a good recipe for it, for next year. I think Susan might have had one, actually...

Speaking of Fat Free Vegan, I also tried her Sweet Potato Casserole this year, and both my husband and I couldn't stop commenting on it! The spicy (like ginger and nutmeg, not pepper!), slightly citrusy flavor in the potatoes was incredible! However, the topping was rather greasy - when I pulled it out of the oven there were little pools of oil on the top! I have a similar recipe from Cooking Light that I used in the past, which I will borrow from for next year's topping. Just calls for more flour, basically, which will absorb some of that grease .... but still, this was my favorite dish of the whole meal!!! I look forward to this every year.
I started cooking the sides for the meal on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and found myself with a hot oven and minute to spare. So, I whipped up this Cranberry Bread, from Colleen's, The Joy of Vegan Baking. I was so excited about her pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie (coming next in this post), that I wanted to try something else. Well, this cranberry bread fell flat. The recipe, that is, not the bread! The recipe seemed to call for a rather large amount of flour, and the pan was incredibly full, but she called for only one pan to bake it in! I carefully followed her directions, but realized that there was something amiss. Well, I think that she should have stated 'two' loaf pans for this recipe! What do you think?? It's was HUGE!! And, underdone in the middle - but oh, the taste! I will try it again with two pans.

Here it is, cut open - see the underdone spots? Oh well, it was still edible - yum!

Meanwhile, I made the Pecan-Oatmeal Crust from the same book, with no bad outcomes. It was a nice change from the typical pie crust and way easier to make! I enjoyed the texture with the filling, but I wasn't blown away by the taste of the crust (could have been sweeter!).

Here is the pie, all baked and cooling down....

And here is my husband's huge slice with some of the Tofu Whipped Topping from the same book! The pie was incredible - not tofu tasting at all, but could have been a little more firm. The whipped topping tasted nothing like Cool Whip, but it had a nice smooth texture and a great vanilla taste!
And I guess that's it for this Thanksgiving! I have just finished putting up our Christmas decorations, as that seems to extend the warm feelings of this holiday for me - I hate when it is over! I tried a lot of new dishes this year, with fun results - really! It sounds like I had a horrible meal, but I was just picking apart the dishes to tweak for next year, or to help others. I loved every bite and wouldn't do a thing differently (except for the cranberry bread!). And what else did I do today to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving? Well, I didn't shop, thanks for reminding us, Bazu, but I did rake some leaves and... bake! Argh, yes, I am addicted to the oven. I had some overripe bananas and zucchini I just had to use up, so Veganomicon's Banana-Wheat Germ Muffins were just the thing for healthy lunches next week, and Joy of Vegan Baking's Zucchini bread was sooo good. Except guess what - the directions for the zucchini bread don't state, "keep it in the pan for 30 minutes while cooling," so it stuck to the bottom of the pan and ripped - blah!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

I know I'll be posting again before the week is through, due to the copious amount of food we're planning on making this year (like this year is different - ha!), but I just had to get these up here! I figured they'd entice you to get baking or at least check out my new favorite cookbook!

These are Cranberry Orange Scones, from, "The Joy of Vegan Baking." I got the book because I had some Border's points to spend again, and everyone else had been raving about this book. Plus, I saw some great Thanksgiving treats in it! Well, this book doesn't disappoint. I started with these scones because tomorrow is my class's (I'm a kindergarten teacher) International Thanksgiving Feast. Most other classes do a traditional food feast, but ever since I began teaching, I knew this wasn't for me. It wasn't even an excuse to get out of having a dead bird (oh, I mean turkey) in my room - I promise! It was because I figured they'd be having all these foods at home in a couple of days anyway, so why make parents go through all that trouble twice? So, we've always asked families to bring in a food that is from their cultural/ethnic background. From egg rolls to paella, from a wicked spicy Eritrean (Africa) dish with injera to Georgia peach pie, we've had it all! I usually make something as well, so this year I thought I'd make something from my British heritage. They turned out simply amazing! It was my first time making scones, but they weren't hard at all! I do recommend getting a pastry blender (it looks like a bunch of wires ) instead of cutting it with two knives, like my Mum always did when I was growing up. It's just much easier and faster! These scones were a variation on the basic scone recipe in the book. They were tender and flaky on the inside, crisp on the outside... all that I remembered scones being!

Next, I ventured on to make the Pumpkin Spice Bread, which I had already made in school with my kids for their fifth grade buddy class. The best part about that experience was letting them lick the batter bowl - no raw eggs to worry about!
This recipe didn't disappoint either. In fact, it blew me away. The spices smelled amazing while cooking, and while eating ;) They were stronger than other pumpkin breads I'd made in the past. And the best part - the breads rose!! I have the hardest time veganizing traditional quick bread recipes like these - they always seem so flat! But these turned out gorgeous. (The kids loved the ones we baked at school, by the way! Not that I was surprised). Despite having a copious amount of egg replacer, they didn't taste funny at all. I can't wait to share these with more people!! What an amazing cookbook. This week, I plan on making her pumpkin pie, zucchini bread, and cranberry bread, too!

Finally, I gave Isa another chance at seitan, with this Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya. I was trying this out before I make it for an upcoming holiday party, and boy I can't wait to make it again! It was super easy to make, despite me not having a Dutch oven (please, Santa?). The flavor was pretty good, although we added some hot sauce like she recommended. Thanks, Veganomicon!

The best part about this weekend, however, was when my husband said, "I think I'm going to go vegetarian." I nearly fainted. We're having Tofurkey for Thanksgiving, too! Good luck with your holiday cooking and baking everyone! Wish all the world celebrated Thanksgiving like we vegans do!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


After a week of waiting, I finally had the weekend free to cook again.... and to give Veganomicon a second chance. I didn't mean to start baking the day after I had a 104 degree temperature, but after a day of lying on the couch, watching, "America's Next Top Model," and football, I was ready to run screaming to the kitchen (yes, I enjoy both.... but in slight moderation!). Oh yeah, and I spent part of that day reading through the entire volume of Veganomicon, so I was itching (in a good way) to try something else out! It was a great read for being sick, actually, as I wasn't sick to my stomach and Isa and Terry's sarcasm and wit kept me giggling! (My husband didn't care for me reading excerpts aloud every other minute, though).

With a normal temp this morning, I still didn't want to risk relapsing, so I didn't workout - yuck, I hate skipping! But anyhoo, there I was with the tome in my hand, and I knew I had lots of carrots in the fridge. So, I found a can of pineapple and got to work on the above beauties: Carrot Pineapple Sunshine Muffins. They reminded me a lot of the Maui Muffins from the Candle Cafe Cookbook, but not as good because there was no ooey, gooey, sticky sauce over them. So, they were a lot healthier, but still moist and delish!

But then I realized that I still had some pineapple leftover. If there's one habit I'm trying to break, it's having leftover bits of a meal (not the meals, just the individual parts that were not needed) going bad in the fridge. Half of a silken tofu block, half of an onion, part of a tomato, you get my drift! So, I dragged out The Everyday Vegan, Dreena's first book, and pulled out a recipe that had enticed me to buy the book in the first place: Carrot Pineapple Muffin Tops! Here they are. The lumps are the raisins :) They were really runny and spread out really quickly, and didn't rise very much but oooh were they good! The best part? I finally ground my own nutmeg! Dreena always comments on how important and good freshly ground nutmeg is, and I had some in my spice cabinet. I didn't have a microplane or kitchen rasp, so I just used the roughest part of my box grater! It smelled like heaven! The scent lingered in my mouth after each bite.
Both recipes were great because they used whole wheat (pastry) flour, and very little sugar or fat (and unrefined sugar, in Dreena's case). So, in comparison, Isa's muffins were 'sunnier' as their name totes and more moist (they were whole muffins), but Dreena's muffin tops flavor kicked ass as the perfect fall treat. So funny to find them as I now have Dreena's third book!

Speaking of which, here is my first posted recipe from that book, Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan: Palak Soyabina Panira. I was a little annoyed at how the tofu burned to the bottom so quickly. This happens so often to me! I always have to turn the heat down a ton, and add more oil or moisture. But I tried not to this time, and just scraped hard at the bottom while I cooked. The meal came together pretty quickly, after I chopped and measured the many spices and ingredients. And it was well worth it! My husband thought it wasn't creamy enough, and perhaps he was right, but I was blown away by the flavors! Four stars**** for this one.
I made two other recipes from ED&BV this weekend, starting with the Black Bean Orange Hummus, which is my lunch for the week and
was sunny itself - very original flavors and super easy to make! Rating: three stars ***(I packed it up right away in my little lunch kits, so no photo!). The other recipe was the Monkey Minestrone. This soup was actually made by my husband! He made it while I was sick (also hence no photo), and there was nothing better than sipping on that good veggie soup while I lay on the couch! I love you, babe! PDA aside, it really was good, and we rated it: Three stars*** (maybe three and a half). His only comment was that he can't stand to read cookbooks, because they have all the directions in paragraph form. As he reads and then cooks and then checks back, he finds himself lost in the sea of words, trying to find where he left off. He pleads with every cookbook author to consider writing in bulleted or numbered list form! I agree, but how many books are written like that? Anyway, here's to new cookbooks!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Once Upon a Time and Some Bling

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was taught how to cook by her mother and father. Her father was a stay at home dad for a while, and he cooked on the fly, adding hotdogs or spaghetti to meatloaf, but also making all baked goods, including homemade whoopie pies, from scratch. The girl learned to value a home cooked meal, and the love it represented.
Her mother was a better baker than cook. The lesson the girl learned most was to always measure carefully, and never measure ingredients over the mixing bowl! Very, very carefully, she would weigh ingredients on a small postal scale, and level off flour with the back of a knife.
As time went by, the girl kept cooking and baking, always remembering the lessons she had been taught. But perhaps the most valuable lesson she was taught, was one she taught herself. Having a 'fast' personality like her father, meant that she often skimmed recipes and got half into them before realizing she had forgotten to buy an ingredient, or had misread the directions. Yet she learned from these (many!) mistakes, by substituting other similar ingredients, and laying out all her tools and food before she began.
Fast forward to the present. Above, you see the delectable Thai Chik'n Pizza, a third-place winner in the annual Vegetarian Times cooking contest. However, although we followed the recipe to a tee (well, ok, I didn't have tamarind paste, so I looked it up online and saw that I could use lime juice and molasses or sugar), it was very disappointing. The flavors were spot on. But between the hardness of the crust (the dough was homemade, then frozen in the freezer for a couple of months), and the dry, crumbliness of the topping (it wouldn't stick to the 'sauce'), I couldn't believe that this had won even third place! So, here's my suggestion....try the 'sauce' (very thick!) on a tortilla, like a hummus, add the pizza toppings, and roll up! I loved the spread so much, I just have to try this for lunch next week.....So that's what I learned.

Moving on to a new recipe from Isa's latest cookbook, Veganomicon, which FINALLY came from Amazon :P.....
Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach..... quick and easy but it burned too quickly and WAAAAAYYYYY too salty! From now on (Isa Pizza from VwaV had the same problem), I will watch the salt flavorings in all savory dishes from her cookbooks. Sorry, but I was disappointed after waiting all that time!! However, once again I haven't given up, but merely learned from my (0r other's) mistakes....

Finally to the bling! I treated myself long ago to these two cookbooks, and I am treasuring each time I open their pages. There is nothing like a new book of any kind, to make it feel like Christmas (even textbooks, what a nerd I am!). You can never draw out long enough, the first moment you open their covers. Any suggestions from fellow vegan bloggers for what to try first from either one? (well, the seitan dish was my first!).

And now onto the real bling....the most beautiful necklace I have ever laid eyes on. Funnily enough, I saw it in a magazine, and was intrigued to look for it online. When I saw the message imprinted on it (Peace, Love and Recycle), and the fact that 100% of my money would go towards planting trees through American Forests, I knew it was the perfect gift from me to me.... and to the Earth. Don't you want it now?? The photos don't do it justice. (If you go to Tina Tang's website with the above link, click on the necklace image to see the reverse side with the words).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

End of a Great Month!

Well, the woman who won the cupcake challenge certainly made me cook my socks off this weekend! To end World Vegetarian Month, I had a drawing for my colleagues to win a dozen free cupcakes of their choosing. Cappuccino Cupcakes from Isa's VCTOTW, was the poison the winner selected.
It was pure pleasure to be making these, and I was glad she asked me to make these, because I had never made them and I probably wouldn't have chosen to make them any time soon. This is because there were four steps. First, you make the mousse filling, which had two steps itself. I had to use agar flakes, but although Isa recommended cooking them longer than the powder, I found that the mixture started cooking down to nothing and I had to stop earlier than suggested with this step. Anyhow, the filling was incredibly creamy and puddinglike, but I did find some little lumps in it, that were undoubtedly the agar flakes that hadn't dissolved properly. Hope no one else noticed it! :)

While that chilled for about an hour, I baked the cupcakes (which came out perfectly!), and then while those cooled, made the frosting. Then I poked careful holes to fill the cupcakes with my handy-dandy icing/frosting gadget from Pampered Chef (like a big syringe with different tips). Then I washed this and filled it again with the frosting. Then I made the chocolate ganache and quickly dusted them all with cocoa powder. Three hours later, and these are the beautiful results. The kind recipient sent an email to everyone, saying they were the best cupcakes (vegan or otherwise) she'd ever had, and her husband added, "phenomenal." Because one of her daughters has a nut allergy, she is going to buy the cookbook herself. Yay! Others who enjoyed them (she couldn't eat all 12 herself!) commented that if vegans ate only cupcakes (like these), they would be vegan right now.

Unfortunately, despite my weekly efforts to inform and entice my fellow teachers, I found that some people still hadn't been reached. While a couple people said that they might become vegetarian after all this great food and info, one said to my face during a discussion about food for an upcoming party, "Well, what'll you eat? Tofu?" I was happy to have my wits about me enough to respond, "Where have you been all month??!!" Then I went home to eat an awesome three-bean chili (from Vegetarian Times, Oct. 2007) and kale with coconut-spice sauce, while I watched the Patriots kick some Redskin ass.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Endless Protein Sources

Once again, I can only shake my head and chuckle when someone asks me what I do for protein. I think about what my own husband eats on a daily basis, even though he is cutting out more meat now, and only see how boring a meat-based diet can be! Veganism, on the other hand, has endless options...

For a good example, this is a Spicy Red Lentil Dal, from a recent Vegetarian Times magazine issue. I had the craving for it after the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival, where we tasted it from the Ethiopian food vendors. This was just as good, if not better! It was soooo simple to make, so that was an added bonus. Perfectly spicy! Red lentils are an excellent source of protein and fiber. They cook up more quickly than other beans and lentils, which was great for a weeknight meal this week! So creamy and filling. I ate it with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, as well as brown rice and peas. Quick question for rice cooker connoisseurs: I love my rice cooker but brown rice often comes out underdone. Should I add more liquid? Anyhoo- Rating for the dal: 4 stars (out of 4)! Maybe I'll make some naan or injera next time to eat with it.

For our wedding anniversary, we usually stay at a bed and breakfast (last year, it was the awesome White Pig). This year, as we tried to save some cash, we took a trip back to the Shenandoah National Park, which we visited back in September. We were hoping for a heartbreaking color explosion, but thanks to the drought this summer (and into the fall!), the colors were not as spectacular as they should have been. We did enjoy a hike, though, as well as incredibly yummy faux chicken salad sandwiches with fruit, spiced nuts and chips! The chicken sandwiches were made with tempeh, which was poached and chopped. The texture and flavor was very convincing, at least I thought so. I can't believe it's been almost a decade since I tasted chicken! Weird. At any rate, the recipe is in La Dolce Vegan. This recipe is a must make for anyone who likes sandwiches!
This was a perfect time and place to remember my grandfather, who passed away one year ago. We were at the White Pig when we heard he was doing poorly.

Here is a shot of the White Pig, where we stayed last year. How I wish I were there again!

After that dose of fall, and a hard week at work, I was ready for some easy cooking this weekend. Here is an incredibly easy and deliciously "fall" soup! I got the recipe from a friend at the last Veg Group meeting. Here it is! Heat in a saucepan the following: 1 can plain pumpkin (15 ounces, roughly - when will we join the rest of the world in our units of measure??), 1 can light coconut milk (I used organic, too), 1 can cannelini beans (I mashed these a bit in the pot), and 2 cups of veggie broth (or one can- I used bouillon cubes). So, heat these four cans (ok, empty the cans out and just head the contents!) in the saucepan until hot. Add some pepper and fresh sage (those light green things floating in the middle of the cup are whole sage leaves, but I shredded the ones I added). What could be more simple or more fall? Delish.

For the last picture of this post, I'm leaving you with some Vegan Snickerdoodles, also from Veg Times. I am not usually blown away by this magazine, but this was the second kick-ass recipe from them in one week! These smelled heavenly while baking, were pretty easy to make, and best of all, tasted just like I remembered :)
Poor hubby thought I made them for him, but I am bringing them into work for the fourth week of World Vegetarian Month. I

am also doing a "free cupcake giveaway drawing" from Isa's awesome cupcake book. Winner gets a dozen of their choice! I wonder what I'll be making?....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sweets to the Sweet!

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sick of sweets! I made so many sweet things this week, I was almost nauseous. Actually, I was really getting over my stomach bug (not the flu as I had thought!), and I had to eat pretty bland and boring things. But I could still bake up a storm for my friends, right?

I began with Banana-Coconut Bars from Fat Free Vegan's blog. They were a delight to make and to eat! I made these for my friends at work for World Vegetarian Month. They got rave reviews, but I think that they could have been less flat. I wonder if anyone else has tried this recipe in a smaller pan for 'higher' results? At any rate, they were sweet, chewy, and yum! Rating: 3 stars

I also made these Maui Muffins with Orange Glaze, from The Candle Cafe Cookbook. They were a repeat from the summer, and just as good as I remembered! The only difficulty with these is telling when they're done. Because of the moist pineapple in the batter, a testing toothpick stuck into a muffin may still come out wet! However, they are overall easy to make and scrumptious! Great for a brunch, and pretty looking, too. Rating: 4 stars. Overall rating from my co-workers? Well, I think the empty containers at the end of the day spoke for themselves.
Later in the week, I had to make goodies for our monthly Sierra Club meeting. I made two things I had made in the past, so there would be no bad surprises. First, Isa's Raspberry-Chocolate Blondies (top) and then (bottom) Vegetarian Times' Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bread. Both were devoured. I was disappointed in the blondies, however, because once again I couldn't tell when they were done, due to the jam in middle. They looked completely done on the top, but when I cut into them later, they were underdone in the middle! I couldn't believe it, but I salvaged the edges, tried to re-cook the middle squares, and still they were scarfed down! I was happy that no one realized that they weren't quite perfect. As Isa says herself, "never apologize for your food." Rating for both (on a good day): 4 stars! Soooo addictive.

After that sugar rush, I was in the mood for something a little healthier (actually, with 2 cups of sugar in the blondies, something a LOT healthier). So, here are this week's treats for my co-workers, in celebration of World Vegetarian Month. The first shot is of Carob-Almond Truffles, from Veg News. The lighter ones (here I go apologizing again!) are lacking the proper coating, as I ran out and had to use just carob powder. However, they are pure goodness, with dried fruit and nuts only. I bought a raw food book over the summer, and this inspires me to crack it open again. What decadence with no refined sugar! I love carob fat, no cholesterol, and no caffeine! I'll have to let you know how they are received at work, but I give them- Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

Next, we have Spiced Nuts from La Dolce Vegan, one of Sarah Kramer's books. They were wicked easy to make, and only had two tablespoons of olive oil in the whole 3 cups of nuts. There was an abundance of spice, from cayenne to nutmeg, but it wasn't overpowering at all. In fact, I would probably add more spice next time! Again, I don't know how they will be judged at work, but I give them - Rating: 2 1/2 stars (they aren't very original, but they are still good!).

Finally, we have something all for me. The simplest of suppers. Hubby wouldn't share this with me because he has a thing against cooked fruit in his meals, but then he tasted it and thought it wasn't too bad! It wasn't bad.... it was amazing. This is African Pineapple Peanut Stew from a Moosewood cookbook, which I copied recipes out of over the summer (not my book). This was so easy to make and the spices were spot on! In a West African tone, it was spicy from the Tabasco sauce, sweet from the crushed pineapple, and salty from the crunchy peanut butter! Actually, those are pretty much the ingredients, aside from that beautiful fresh kale, and some onion, garlic, and fresh chopped green onions and raw peanuts. It reminded me of fried rice from a Chinese restaurant, but so much better. In fact, it recommends serving this over couscous, millet, or rice, but I don't do much with carbs so I opted out. I can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow night!! Rating: 4 stars, easily. My other meals for the week were simply canned baked beans (vegetarian, of course) with pieces of veggie dogs mixed in, and then some baked beans re-heated with fresh spinach (till it wilted) and canned pineapple. Not bad for no recipe! Still, not worthy of a photo :)