Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Winter Treats

It's still definitely winter around here! After four snowstorms in two weeks, I'm so ready for spring (sorry, all you snow lovers, but I left New England winters behind for a reason!). Meanwhile, we're making lots of comfort food while being stuck inside the house.....

Snobby Joes from Veganomicon are so simple, even Mr. PLV didn't complain about making them one night this week (although as he was off work and I wasn't, I think it was a fair trade!). Full of flavor, filling, and just plain yum, these are Sloppy Joes without the meat (lentils instead) and with a little less slop. Served on soft buns with a side of green beans, they were so much better than I remember them as a child! Four stars **** and we were eager for leftovers. We've made these before and I especially like them because they don't require a huge list of ingredients, so we didn't need to hit the crowded grocery store.

With the Super Bowl last weekend (someday maybe they'll use vegan footballs!), I came through on a promise to Mr. PLV, to make Vegan Boneless Chickenless Wings from Vegan Dad's blog. They weren't too difficult, although you have to make a "chickenless" broth powder first. The link to the powder doesn't seem to work anymore, but just Google it and Bryanna's recipe is the one I used. Double-breaded in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and drizzled with an Earth Balance-Tabasco sauce blend, they were crispy, crunchy, chewy (dare I say meaty?), and definitely spicy!!! The flavors were spot on and this time, I let Mr. PLV eat most of them, even though I could've eaten them all myself! I can't wait to make these again. Great appetizers but also pretty filling! Four stars and more ****+ Oh, and make half of the sauce, because these babies didn't need anything to dip in!

Baking-wise, I tried the Tropical Jewels from the Have Cake, Will Travel blog. They were pretty tasty and apparently survived shipping far out of state! Anything with coconut has to be good anyway...But, forgot to take a picture before I packaged them up, so click on the link above to see. I used chocolate chips in the middle instead of jam. I also subbed regular flour for the whole wheat and found that the batter never really came together by beating, so I just squished it into a ball before chilling.

I also tried these Raw-Chocolate Chia Energy Bars from the most recent Vegetarian Times magazine (Jan '10). This is the "before" shot, but honestly, even after I froze them, they were still really crumbly. Maybe it was the raisins I used for some of the dates. Maybe it was the carob I used instead of the cocoa powder (though I doubt it). And maybe it was because I made them too thin. At any rate, I poured the crumbly mix into baggies and am enjoying eating it like a power-powder. Two stars, maybe **.

I have to say, the rest of the week was pretty unusual, food-wise! I have made Dreena's Easy Pleasin' Oat Bars from Vive Le Vegan! for two weeks straight, and they are the perfect antidote to later afternoon pregnancy crashes. Lunches have been pretty much revolving around my favorite lavash bread wrapped around grated carrot, baby spinach (still the best way to get my greens when baby isn't looking!), and different spreads (mostly bean spreads). They are filling and flavorful!

Mr. PLV made a kick-ass chili, with kidney beans and our favorite new sausage from Field Roast (perhaps I can get the recipe from him!). It really was perfect, four stars ****. And, we had some pasta with spaghetti sauce (Bertolli is our favorite non-homemade brand) for quick suppers this week, after the leftovers were gone. Sometimes, just sometimes, I like those familiar favorites.... :) Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Veg-versary and 700th recipe!

Yes, I am alive! Despite the snow, pregnancy ups and downs (now into the 3rd trimester - woohoo!), and general life stuff, I am alive and happy to be so. Can't believe it's been so long since I posted...then again, yes I can believe it! I've been so exhausted in the evenings, and busy or sick on the weekends, I can't bring myself to get on the computer to blog, after spending all day at work on the darn machine! Anyway, I am celebrating two big things (besides my bigger belly!) this month...

As usual, February brings the date that I transitioned to four years ago - wow! I know that's not long, but February is also my Veg-versary for switching from omni (and a burger-loving one at that!) to vegetarian, which occurred eleven years ago. If you think, "I could never do that," in response to becoming vegetarian or vegan, just remember, I too, once said, "I could never give up cheese!" At one point in college (before I got really healthy and started running!) I could eat a third-pounder with cheese from Fuddrucker's (that's a US burger joint) all in one sitting! (And I'm a pretty small person!) It's all about baby steps, trying new foods, and not being critical if you "slip up." Eventually, the life of the animals, the health of the planet, and the health of my body (and now my baby!) won out over what I thought were "needs." Eating veg has broadened my food horizons incredibly, from flavors, to cuisines, to new produce and grains.

Speaking of which, I am also celebrating the fact that I have now made over 700 new, different recipes over the past 5 years. Poor Mr. PLV has to beg me to make a recipe more than once :)

Anyway, the first picture of this post is a stir fry from one of Dreena Burton's three great books, Vive Le Vegan! My mum and dad were in town last weekend (during the first snowstorm - now we're in the middle of the third this week!) and my mum pampered me with home cooked meals (and doing the dishes -yeah!). The stir fry had too much sauce, though - we would cut it in half. It was very creamy, though, and yummy! Three stars ***. The second picture (above) are Hemp Nut Burgers from a little booklet my mum gave me last summer. I just love hemp seeds (they have so many omegas!). These were easy, fast, and had terrific flavor. They also didn't fall apart like so many veggie burgers seem to. Could've used a dressing, though. Maybe mayo or 1,000 Island? Three and a half stars ***1/2.

I chopped and Mr. PLV cooked to make this hearty, warming stew from Nava Atlas's book, Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons. It's actually a vegan cookbook, but she has a similar book just out, that actually has "vegan" in the title. Anyway, this Italian Mixed Vegetable Stew had lots of great veggies in it, but needed more flavor. The potato gnocchi were a great addition! Three stars *** only because we didn't care for the frozen bean flavor.

This Mac Daddy (original version) from Veganomicon was another tummy-warming dish, made even when I wasn't feeling that great! It was that easy. Just make the cheese sauce (nutritional yeast base) and cook the noodles. Then pour together with crumbled, firm tofu, and bake! The tofu gave it a great, firm texture. My only change would be to make it with veggie broth, not water. I was too tired to make the veggie broth (we use cubes, to save on waste and money) but it really needed more flavor. I ate this all week - no complaints! Three solid stars ***.

Last but definitely not least (in fact, this was my favorite recipe over the past few weeks!), were these Red Lentil Kibbe from a recent issue of Veg News magazine. A kind friend of mine found some fine bulgur for me (I could only find regular) and these were very, very easy and wonderfully filling. As you can see, I ate them with baby spinach in lavash bread as a wrap sandwich. Drizzle them with lemon - it's a must! Three and a half stars ***1/2. These are no-cook, which actually isn't so strange. Traditional kibbe (made with ground beef) can also be served raw (gross, I know!). I also made the Roasted Shallot Hemp Hummus from Veg News's online collection, but it wasn't pretty enough for a picture. However, the flavor was mellow and delicious. Three solid stars *** and week full of delicious and easy wrap sandwiches once again! The carbs, greens, and proteins in my daily lunch wraps are wonderful in keeping my energy and blood sugar level during pregnancy! Last, we made the Mediterranean Chickpea Wrap from the new cookbook, The Conscious Cook, which I borrowed from our local library to try it out. It was way too watery for a wrap, but awesome flavors! Three stars ***. The cookbook doesn't look like something I'll buy, but Mr. PLV was admiring some of the meat-like recipes!

Well, off to see what I can make for dinner tonight! Oh, that reminds me - I have a question for you readers! A friend of mine is looking for a good vegan recipe, that can be popped into the oven preferably, that can serve 30 people (probably not all veg people, either). Any ideas??