Saturday, September 26, 2009

Six Wicked Awesome Recipes!

No major disappointments this week - in fact - I've six "wicked awesome" recipes to share! First off, I've been wanting to make these Olive-Millet Stuffed Zucchini from Vw/aV for years - seriously. They were pretty darn awesome and Mr. PLV went back for seconds! With a mixture of millet, tomatoes, capers and kalamata olives, they were salty and not sweet at all, so they were right up his alley. I loved them, too. They aren't too difficult to make, except there was a lot of liquid left in the stuffing mixture that I had to drain off. Also, there was a huge amount of stuffing left over! Oh well - lunch for the week - yeah! Four stars for these babies ****.

Next up...Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (vegan, of course!) from VCTOTW. I still have yet to make all the cupcakes in this book, but I'm wondering if October being Vegetarian Month would be a good time to meet that challenge? Anyhow, these were really easy to make, although there was barely enough batter to fill all 12 tins, they didn't rise very high, and I had to make a double batch of frosting in order to have enough to pipe on with my frosting gun! However, they were moist, full of raisins, walnuts and of course lots of carrot, and certainly delectable! Luckily, I made these for a friend, so they didn't lurk in the house very long. :) Four stars, easy! **** (Oh, I made a second batch for work, so I snuck one cupcake into my mouth, that's how I know how awesome they taste!).

On a slightly healthier note, Ani's Raw Food Kitchen Cookbook gave me the recipe for these delicious Strawberry Coconut Shake! Three and a half delicious stars ***1/2. I sprinkled a little unsweetened coconut on top for presentation. Purty! Filling enough for three lunches and of course very easy to make!

I am very proud of my own veganized recipe, Moroccan Seitan on Flatbread with Carrot-Almond Salad. Originally a chicken recipe from Keep It Seasonal, I just used seitan for the chicken, and cut it into bite sized strips. The spice rub was a little watery, but it was delish! Mr. PLV even ate the carrot salad, which had raisins in it - ahhh! We didn't have time or energy to make the Coriander Flatbread, so whole wheat pita breads (unsplit) made nice sandwich wraps. Four great stars! ****

And last but certainly not least, The Joy of Vegan Baking brought us Peanut Butter Cookies with the ubiquitous cross-hatch on top. Mr. PLV had asked for these and they came out perfectly! Easy, too.

The sixth recipe this week was from Vegetarian Times, modified slightly. In the most recent October 2009 issue, there was a recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce, which I sped up (quick-roasted!) using Dreena's ED&BV tip: 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 mins. I used the same herbs, though, and I used my handy-dandy immersion blender to turn the finished product into a sauce to use later this week. As summer has ended, so has our abundance of tomatoes, and the ones we're getting from the CSA now are kind of lacking flavor. So, in order to avoid getting more fruit flies in the house while they sat around (really! the flies are so bad! any tips on getting rid of them?), this recipe was key.

Well, that's all for this past week! I'm off to do some reading and think about dinner, which will probably be Leek-Squash Polenta with a creamy white sauce, or if I'm too tired, "just" leftovers :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall's A-Comin...

I can't believe that fall is nearly here. Two more days, well just barely, and we will officially be over with summer! In my garden, I'm ready for changes. I am already tired of my tomatoes, have frozen some pesto from the basil, and recently planted some kale and lettuce, both of which should do well in the cooler temps.

With the weather just slightly dipping into fall-like temperatures, I've been feeling more like hearty, cold weather meals. This Sweet and Sour Tempeh with Sweet Potatoes from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan certainly fit the bill! Although a bit on the too-sweet side, even for me, I loved this recipe for its ease. Just chop, toss with the sauce, and bake! With pineapple and peppers and onions and topped with cashews , this was a great one-bowl dish. I could've had this over rice, but with a recent viral infection, I wasn't feeling like I needed more carbs after lying on the couch for days....However, three and a half stars for this delicious dish ***1/2.

Tonight, despite some sore losses in the NFL, I got around to making this wicked easy Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance. I picked this out for Mr. PLV, who is a big fan of potatoes and all things comfort-food, and then matched it with Krispy Kale from my newest cookbook, Vegan Yum Yum ("my" meaning I own it, not that I wrote it of course). The kale was still a bit bitter for me, so I drizzled it with my favorite tahini sauce, but the meal itself was certainly easy and comforting. Unfortunately, my miso was way out-dated, and I had to leave that key ingredient out! It would have been so much yummier with the miso. However, I noted that the recipe also called for the miso early on, and then had it simmering for half an hour, so some of the benefits of the miso would have been null anyway (if you boil miso, it kills the probiotics). Three stars for this one ***. Will definitely try again on a night when I'm feeling lazy and want some yummy miso.

Chow Mein Memory from The Complete Book of Raw Food may be the last raw food dish I make for a while, only because of the seasonal change and my mental shift towards chilis and such. This consisted of raw butternut squash noodles (which were wicked hard to put through my spiralizer, due to the awkward shape of the peeled bulb), along with shiitake mushrooms soaked in Bragg's, pine nuts, green onions and some other things I can't remember. Not much, really. This was a fantastic, light lunch, w/lots of nutrients! Three stars ***. I love mushrooms...
These Chipotle Seitan and Roasted Potato Tacos were from the latest Veg News magazine issue, but I can't wait for the cookbook from which they came! Terry Hope Romero, co-author of Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (VCTOTW) and the soon to be released Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar, will be coming out with her own book, Latin Vegan. I think it's not going to be published until April 2010, but based on this recipe, I'm already gettin' in line! These were pretty easy, super spicy, and wow! I loved the roasted potatoes, which were then cooked again briefly in the seitan marinade (that's what I love about vegan cooking - not only can you eat raw cookie dough, but you can reuse marinade!). Four stars - I loved, loved, loved this dish ****.
Meanwhile, our bookshelf project progresses. I'm not sure if I posted about them in the past, but basically my father came to visit and created these by hand (well, with a template). Here, you can see the frames, which I painted "White Hyacinth" last weekend, with the backs painted "Hubbard Squash" this weekend by Mr. PLV. Can't wait to get the shelves painted and put them in!

Of course, Hobbes had to come help out with the touch-ups...

Well, that's it in Vegan Land today! Leftovers the next couple of nights and then hopefully I'll get to my stuffed zucchini sometime this century if not this week...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I nearly choked on my green tea the other morning. I was actually home with a bit of a fever, so I was flipping through the TV channels for the first time in ages. I ended up with the Today Show, although I was disappointed that they didn't mention anything about the 9/11 anniversary until much later in the program.

It was when they mentioned fall food trends that I perked up. And guess what made me nearly choke? They presented agave nectar, millet, quinoa, bulgar, smoked paprika, and dinosaur kale. Many of these seemingly strange or exotic foods (a show host actually tried the agave with pleasant surprise) are all ones I use on a daily basis. Dinosaur kale is excellent in green smoothies, agave nectar is my tea sweetener of choice for just about anything, and millet and quinoa are both wonderful grains. I have yet to buy smoked paprika yet, just because it's so expensive.

My point being, becoming vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean that you eat nuts and seeds, or salads every day. You don't get bored and you never EVER run out of foods, recipes or meal ideas to try. I have nearly 50 vegan cookbooks, almost 100 total cookbooks, and have made nearly 700 new recipes (meaning, I had never tried them before) over the past three years since starting this blog. It saddens me sometimes, to think that I'll never get to make all the recipes in those books (well, not unless I quit my job and cooked full time, all day, which doesn't sound too bad, hmmm....) At any rate, here's to being TRENDY! :)

Meanwhile, here's what delicious things we've been noshing on lately. Many of them are potato and squash based, since that's what we got from the CSA this past week.

First up, we were surprisingly impressed by the Potato-Fennel Pizza with Tempeh Sausage Crumbles from Vegan with a Vengeance. This is definitely my favorite cookbook of all time, since it was my first introduction to vegan cooking, and Isa's writing always gives me an excuse to laugh out loud! Even my husband, who loves sausage and potatoes, was skeptical of this combination on a pizza. However, he commented that it was one of his all time favs AND was really impressed with the tempeh sausage (which basically, is tempeh, which you crumble, boil to release bitterness and soften, and stir fry with some spices). On a side note, I think we (meaning I) have finally perfected the homemade pizza crust. I found that you just have to roll it really thin, to avoid thick, uncooked parts. Three and a half stars! ***1/2

The next night, while I munched on a salad covered with CSA produce (beets, carrots, my own tomatoes, arugula, shiitake mushrooms, to name a few), Mr. PLV made something more up his alley. These Beer Bratwurst Pepper and Onion Sandwiches were his own creation, based on a typical PA meal. They were Tofurky brand sausages and his only comment was that perhaps they could be seasoned as well as our homemade tempeh crumbles! :)

We wandered back a bit in time to Dreena Burton's first cookbook, The Everyday Vegan, which has some great basic recipes in it, good for the first-time vegan but not quite as original and exciting as her later books. This Spicy Thai Stew was a great way to use up some CSA carrots, sweet potatoes, swiss chard and red bell peppers. The almond butter really gave it a unique flavor! You could use peanut butter if you're being more frugal, and it would be just as good (I think peanuts are a typical flavor in this cuisine). Yum, yum, yum! Three and a half stars *** 1/2 and easy to boot.
Finally, as I've been receiving squash after squash from the CSA every week (butternut, delicata, acorn, and some others I can't name), I decided to try another stuffed squash this week, this time an acorn one (delicata one was last week- see previous post). This one had brown rice, tomatoes, corn, currants, pine nuts, and a few spices and herbs. Pretty darn good! Three stars *** only because I liked the other one better. I was sooo full, after eating this plateful of sauteed kale with my favorite tahini sauce, and then that entire stuffed squash! But a nice, Thanksgiving-type full, like, "ahhh! now that was a filling meal!" Looking forward to fall in about a week (wow! a week!) so we can really enjoy our stews, squashes, and chilis!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ten New Recipes in Ten Days

I never thought I'd say this, but I think I am tired of cooking.....ha, ha - gotcha! Still, ten recipes in less than two weeks can wear anyone out, especially when you're cooking for so many different diets and tastes!

But let me back up a little....I have to share this gorgeous photo first, because I just made it last night and want everyone to go make it now!! Or, go buy Vegan Yum Yum, my newest cookbook acquisition by Lauren Ulm.

This was her Stuffed Delicata Squash with Cherry-Apple-Almond Couscous. I was blown away by the flavors (sweet, sour), textures (crumbly, creamy, crunchy) and simplicity of this dish. Basically, you just halve and bake a squash (she states that you can do other squashes) and fill them afterwards with a hot stuffing of cherries, apple, almonds and couscous (I used an organic, whole wheat kind). The dressing is a VERY simple agave-mustard thing.....This was by far the easiest and yummiest meal I made all week. Four stars out of this world! ****

I actually did happen to have a delicata squash on hand, from the CSA. I didn't even know what kind it was until I was browsing through Lauren's book. This one little squash was quite a filling dinner for me and there was tons of "stuffing" leftover for lunch or to stuff other squashes this week.

What I love about Vegan Yum Yum is that there are many meals that serve 2. That works out perfectly for Mr. PLV and me, especially when he doesn't want the leftovers or he wouldn't touch the dish with a ten foot pole and it's up to me to eat it all week long....Mr. PLV has a thing for fruit in his hot meals (in other words, it better not be there) so this second dish, Tamarind Tofu Cabbage Bowl (also from Yum Yum) was a hopeful second try.

Actually, he turned his nose up at the name but after tasting the melange of crisp tofu bites, crunchy almonds and sour tamarind sauce, decided it was pretty good! I gave it three stars, but I think it could be three and a half as leftovers.... *** The only problem I had was with the tamarind. I bought a block of it, and when I put it into the sauce, although boiling merrily away for quite a while, it didn't dissolve very well, and we were left with hard chunks that I couldn't break down even with my trusty immersion blender. Advice anyone?

Like I said before, serving four different people with different needs and tastes was quite a challenge (my parents were in town to help build some giant bookshelves in our living room) ! My mother is vegan thank goodness(!), but is "watching her carbs," and, "doesn't really like fresh fruit." My father is on an Atkins-Blood-Type diet (total crap, but he's lost a TON of weight because it's high in protein and he now eats salads every day and no refined bread- woohoo!), and Mr. PLV has decided that he no longer cares for tempeh, my homemade seitan, salads, or grilled summer squash. Meanwhile, I will eat absolutely any vegetable, fruit, or vegan/vegetarian dish you put in front of me. Argh, is putting it nicely.

Anyhoo, we did settle on stuffed peppers, which I've made several times in the past. This particular recipe from 366 Ways to Cook Tofu and other Meat Alternatives by Robin Robertson was not my personal favorite ever, but the other three (esp meat-eating dad and picky hubby) commented enthusiastically on it! Three stars *** Funny thing was....I realized that I don't really care for stuffed peppers....

After mum and dad left, I was left with a ton of tomatoes bought on accident (organic, local), some peppers from dad's salad days, and two eggplants from the CSA. Mr. PLV is not a huge fan of eggplant (sensing a theme here?) but eagerly ate this Ratatouille with White Beans from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen cookbook, including the leftovers! It made quite a ton, and my only critique was that it called for 1 to 1/2 inch cubes of the veggies. I used an actual ruler, and found that that is actually quite huge! I didn't think they would cook down quickly enough (and were a bit too big for a comfortable bite) so I cut them in half and it all turned out quite nicely. Not spicy enough for me, so only three stars. ***

I'm going to speed through the rest of this post, since I've been rather blabby up to now....

Shiitake-Seitan Stir Fry adapted from a tofu-shiitake mushroom stir from in 366 Ways. Delish, quick, easy and spicy enough even for Mr. PLV who ate all the leftovers! Three and a half stars ***1/2.

I ate my portion in my beautiful new bowl, bought a local artists' shop. Handmade pottery never ceases to amaze me! Our own bowls from China are chipping, so I'm slowly replacing them with better stuff...

A raw food dessert kick was kick-started by Ani's Raw Food Desserts, by Ani Phyo.

These Trail Mix Cookies were raw and scrumptious! Three solid stars...

But these Pecan Pie Cookies were simply amazing! Close your eyes while you eat one, and just see if you can taste the pie! Basically, pecans, dates, cinnamon and a hint of OJ. Sooo easy to make and even easier to eat! Four stars **** and beyond...

Latest Veg Group meeting had me bringing the above cookies but also some non-raw cookies from a recent Veg News magazine. These were by cookbook author Hannah Kaminsky, of My Sweet Vegan but they're not in her book. Coconut Drops were three and a half stars, maybe four! They only made about 9 cookies total, and the batter hardly stuck together and they were kind of heavy-feeling after baking but the taste!! Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy in the inside. Good think I made them for the potluck!

From Rawvolution came this quick and easy Thai Coleslaw. Excellent, even after several days. Peanuts make all the difference! Three and a half stars ***1/2.

Ending with another sweet but very healthy raw dish, this time from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. This delicious, sweet and thick, Peachy Kream was shake-like in consistency and filling enough to drink over four days! I subbed pecans for the Brazil nuts and it was amazing. Yum. Four stars ****. I also made a small version of the Peach and Pistachio Cobbler from her dessert book, but it wasn't pretty enough for a photo (OK, it was so incredible, I ate it all up before I had a chance to pick up the camera!). Four stars and beyond! **** The sweet and salty and crunchy and smooth were textures and flavors that rival any baked good. Try a raw dessert today!