Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Vegan Anniversary!

I was dying to blog about this last week, but didn't have much, here's a huge catch up!

In celebration of my birthday (remember, last year we went to New York City and The Candle Cafe?), this year was spent in our nation's capitol (we just call it, 'DC') to visit the Holocaust museum and the modern art museum (the Hirshhorn). I guess it was appropriate that we finally went to Sticky Fingers Bakery and Cafe, since I realized it was also my two year vegan anniversary! Hard to believe I've been without real cheese for that long- jk! I don't even miss it anymore. The horrible treatment of cows in the process to give me something that's not even that healthy for me, is worth missing every bite. So anyway, here is a famous sticky bun (which I ate ALL BY MYSELF - what a hog! - no, really, I rarely eat sweets, so I deserved every bite! Besides, I didn't get a cake this year :( so this was my cake...) alongside my husband's choice, which happened to be a wicked awesome Cowvin Cookie (oatmeal cookie bars with creamy filling).

This was after I had scarfed down most of this sandwich (well, I only ate one half of the bread - white bread is so low in nutrients!). This TLT (tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich was perfectly crispy and salty with a toothy bite, crunchy lettuce, and perfect layer of Vegannaise.

Here's my husband's choice: a Reuben (vegan, of course). He thinks it would have been better heated up (they do have a microwave right there for you to do so) but I still think it was really good - perhaps better than my TLT?? Doesn't look as pretty, though... :) The best thing about Sticky Fingers was walking in and looking at all the food and thinking.... I can have ANYTHING here I want! It was overwhelming to have so many choices, when I often barely have one in most chain restaurants.

Speaking of pretty, here is a shot (a pretty good looking one, if I do say so myself) of my lunch for the week: Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's Peanut Sesame Hummus with seaweed rice crackers. I laugh when I think about how different my lunches are from everyone else's that I work with! And they are different every week. I enjoyed this with organic baby carrots, celery sticks and snap peas. Neat flavor and twist on the traditional hummus!

But for some reason, I couldn't stand the taste of the raw snap peas! They were acrid tasting - maybe even bitter?- and I couldn't eat them even with the dip. So, I used up some rice noodles and cellophane noodles I had kicking around, along with some frozen veggies, edamame, and fresh veggies I had leftover, to make The Everyday Vegan's Ginger Hoisin Noodles. Yum! I loved this dish. I was so proud of myself for thinking to use up so many things and not waste moola.
In the spirit of trying to use up leftovers and not spend money, I tried to use up my fresh parsley with the Candle Cafe Cookbook's Tabbouleh. It contains very healthy bulgar wheat, as traditional tabbouleh does. Unfortunately, the cost of the tomatoes (even though I used canned because good fresh tomatoes are nowhere in season), onion, garlic and bulgar completely offset the cost of the 99 cent parsley bunch because.... it sucks! I really hate to say that, and honestly, the taste is great. It's just that the taste LINGERS........the red onion, even though I cut it down from the recipe, is just too much to take. I couldn't stand my own breath after eating this dish for lunch today! I don't know what I'm going to do with it. Pick out all the onion, I guess? I've had this problem before with too much onion in this cookbook's recipes.... watch out if you're making a savory dish from there! I've had lots of tabbouleh in my lifetime, but never as pungent as this!

Next up, I made some Blueberry Bounty Buns from Vive Le Vegan for a friend who just had a baby. With almost no sugar but an incredible sweetness due to the blueberries, I knew these would be good for her and her little one. They have lots of ground oats and whole wheat flour, and very little oil, which is as healthy as you can get! My only complaint was how flat they were (more like muffin tops) and how delicate. I also made Vive's Apple Hemp muffins, which as usual, were moist and nutty and goooood! I think that this cookbook is one of my favorite vegan cookbooks ever - everything comes out great!

Last but not least are these Rosemary Tofu Balls from TEV. Don't they look beautifully golden? I had a craving for spaghetti sauce this week, and wanted something to go with it. I had some fresh rosemary to use up (here we go again!) and the rest of the ingredients were easy to pull together. Because it only used half of a container of tofu, I cubed and stir fried up the rest of it to eat with my ginger hoisin noodle leftovers this week.

And here are the results. I was a little disappointed in the tofu balls, as I thought they would taste like non-meatballs (I've made seitan ones before that are great!), but they had a different, curious flavor to them. My husband said they tasted like this sandwich meat spread he grew up eating. I don't think he cared for them much. I thought they were nice and crispy on the outside, but a tad pasty in the middle. Overall not bad, but I probably won't make them again anytime soon. However, the sauce was the real kicker. A nice organic, tomato-basil sauce from Bertolli.... and it sucked! It was watery, too sweet, and not very flavorful. I will make my own next time or use my standby - Del Monte's canned sauce - only 99 cents! And the money comes full circle, I guess.... Happy eating this week! And happy vegan anniversaries to everyone else out there celebrating.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Finger Food

This week involved lots of finger food! I love eating with my hands (that's why I enjoy Ethiopian, Indian, and other similar foods so much!). I've been overwhelmed with all my new cookbooks (not that I have stopped purchasing them!), but trying to make a dent in the recipes I want to make. Here are the treats I made for my friends on Valentine's Day and for our recent Sierra Club meeting. They are the Peanut Butter-Chocolate Squares (or were they bars?) from The Joy of Vegan Baking. They actually made more than the recipe called for (I cut them pretty small, since they taste so rich!), but they were so completely easy! I used up some rice krispie cereal I had (it was still good, don't worry!) and there was no baking involved, so it was a win-win situation all around. They were smooth, a little crispy, and completely yummy! One of my favorite vegan desserts ever, due to their Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flavor!
Here is another shot, take more from the side, so that you can see that they really are pretty thin. I wonder how they'd be in a smaller pan? Anyway, not healthy one bit but soooo very good! So, I had to move on to some healthier grub.

Like I said, it was the week of finger food. I was still on a sandwich kick this week, and trying to save some money, so here was the cheap and easy (ha, ha) Eggless Salad Sandwich, from The Everyday Vegan. It reminded me so much of the egg salad sandwiches I devoured every week when I was a kid! I used to make my own lunch every night before school the next day, and I always made egg salad sandwiches at least once a week. It amazes me how many children (at the school where I teach) have their entire lunches made for them every day, when they are in the upper elementary grades! Get kids into the kitchen, get them involved in their food choices, and let them do some work, for goodness sake! These were filling and flavorful. Tofu has a ton of protein and calcium, and it's perfect for 'faking' egg textures.
Also for the Sierra Club meeting, I made the Roasted Red Pepper-Almond Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I am trying to make as many of her hummus and dips as possible - there are so many! This was excellent, too, and pretty quick to make. Great with pita bread and veggies sticks. The only problem I had was when I was roasting the red pepper. It calls for jarred peppers, but I can't afford those and it's so easy and healthy to roast your own! However, I hadn't done it in a while, and I used Veganomicon's recipe for roasting peppers. In the past, I have used high heat until they are black, then you throw them in a baggie and wait for the steam to loosen the skins for peeling. However, the book doesn't call for getting them black or peeling them, so the temperature was much lower. I had to keep them in the oven so long, they almost completely dried out and I couldn't peel them. So, I threw the pepper into the hummus batch with the burnt skins and all.... and it was still good!
All in all, it was a great week for vegan finger food. Tonight, I move on to make The Everyday Vegan's Black Bean and Millet Patties (I have lots of millet to use up!) and for the week's lunch, Peanut Sesame Hummus with rice crackers and snap or snow peas. Loved reading everyone's posts this past week! I still laugh when people ask me, "what do you eat?" My answer....everything and anything I want!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy February!

Growing up in New England, February was often the dreariest month. By then, we were sick of snow, sick of the cold, and ready for spring! These days, in Virginia, I can't say we've had enough snow yet, but I am certainly getting a hankering for a new season! There are changes abound in my little family, but like Urban Vegan, I am still cooking and baking up a storm. Here's what I was up to last week....
We had a baby shower for a good friend at work, and I volunteered to make the cake. Well, I ended up making a chocolate cake (recipe from Sinfully Vegan) with vanilla frosting and then FOUR DOZEN cupcakes! There was plenty to go around, but I sure was ready to yack at the smell of confectioners sugar by the end of the week! It took me two nights to bake and frost them all. (That's a baby's bib on the cake, by the way).

Here are the Pistachio-Rosewater cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (VCTOTW) that I have been meaning to make for quite some time. I was easily able to get the pure rosewater at my local grocery store. They cater to a wide variety of clients! I did use regular vanilla frosting, though, as I wanted to make them pink and do some baby girl-type decorations.

By far the favorite sweets were the Lemon-Macadamia cupcakes, though. They are a bit strong with the lemon flavor, but still amazing. Recipe also from VCTOTW. I've made these before.

Of course, I had to have plain vanilla cupcakes, to satisfy those less-adventurous eaters in the crowd. These are topped with cute (but expensive!) candy pacifiers. Not a single cupcake or slice of cake was left.... After this week of sweets, it's no wonder I turned to something tangy and salty for dinner this weekend....

Here are Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Seitan (or something like that) from Vegan with a Vengeance. This would have been perfect, had the seitan not crumbled a bit (and burned) in our new cast iron pan. Although we both thought this was very yummy, I think we would have enjoyed it more had it been summertime! The flavors and textures were great, the sauce was perfect, and we buckwheat soba noodles we used instead of the udon were perfect. But still, this would be a better dish in warmer weather.

This was a great dish to use up the seitan I had made a month or so ago and put in the freezer. I froze it in the cooking liquid, in one pound portions. I actually used my mother's old scale to measure this out, which is really a very old postal scale! But, like most things made "back then" it is still very accurate. Here is a shot of the meal after I mixed it up a bit, so you can see the yummy whole grain noodles. It also contains bean sprouts, red pepper strips, cucumber strips, lime wedges and beautiful black sesame seeds. I love eating with chopsticks! Now, I am feeling almost normal again. The sugar has almost worked its way through my system....