Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Best Week Ever?!

What a week it has been so far...and it's not even over!! Just for a quick recap: I passed all of my pre-internship exams this week, Obama was inaugurated, and season 5 of LOST premiered tonight! For three hours! I can only pay tribute to all the awesome events with yummy vegan food...

First, the end of Bush and the beginning of Obama! I am so excited!!!! I used the toppers from the Bake and Destroy blog, like the ones I used for election night cupcakes, to commemorate our lunchtime sandwiches (Obamawich?) as the inauguration was occurring. Yeah, I am pretty cheesy like that...but don't they look cute!
I also got to utilize some of the Tex Mex food Steven brought me from his Texas trip last month! Yay! I made a Pinto Bean Mole, with the jarred mole sauce he bought, onions, garlic, corn, bell peppers, local zucchini, green beans, pinto beans, tomatillos, Mexican chili powder, and lime juice. It was soooo good! I have never had mole from a jar before, so this was a cool thing to try. It got thicker than I expected, mostly because of the peanuts and cocoa, but it was still tasty. I prefer the homemade stuff, but it's hard to argue with a souvenir and a time-saver! I served it up with some homemade guacamole from the avocados, cumin-lime millet, and fresh lime wedges! I only wish I had some rice milk horchata to wash it all down!
Another plus this week was that I perfected my Creamy Creole Sauce! I am excited about this, because I really like this creamy texture and spicy flavor with dishes like the Cornmeal Crusted Tofu from Veganomicon, with my faux "crab" cakes, and even on sandwiches and veggies. I will give you the recipe, as I am feeling generous! :)
Creamy Creole Sauce (makes about 2 cups)
1 cup spicy brown or dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegan mayo
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 Tbs Louisiana-style hot sauce, like Frank's
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until well combined. Pour into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep for about 1 week in the fridge, but it won't stay un-eaten that long!
Now for the sweet stuff: LOST Cupcakes!! I, again, got some cutie patootie cupcake toppers from Natalie's Bake and Destroy Blog. I love these things! It really makes cupcakes taste better, if that is possible. We got a huge bag of crystallized ginger this week at the store, so I decided to make the Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Frosting from VCTOTW!! I hadn't made these before and I am not sure why! They are so moist from all the molasses and so flavorful and delicious! I love the little accent of a crystallized ginger piece!
Oh, and how awesome was LOST??? I will just nerd out for a second and tell how flippin pumped I am for the fifth season!! Is anyone with me on this? Maybe I am just excited for having more LOST-watching parties so I can bake and be with good friends. Maybe.
Here's all twelve different toppers, happy and together pre-premiere:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The First Day of School...My Last One!

So everyone be really excited and happy for me because today was my last first day of school ever! I will be graduating in May, with a degree in dietetics, so no more class for me after that! At least not for a long time...

To celebrate this momentous occasion (kind of.) I thought I needed to start the day with a good breakfast! What better place than Columbia's best local bakery, Uprise Bakery! They make a fantastic granola there, and they offer soy milk, so this was perfect. Their Almond Crunch Granola has a really nutty and sweet flavor, but is not too sugary to overpower the wonderful flavors of the almonds and sesame seeds. The perfect combination of salty and sweet, with a lovely hint of vanilla! One of my new favorites!A lovely bowl of Uprise's Almond Crunch Granola with Soymilk
And for a great way to end the day, another tester recipe from Bianca at Vegan Crunk for her upcoming cookbook! Yes! Tonight's Southern treat was Country-Fried Tempeh Steak with "Milk" Gravy. That just sounds too good...AND it tastes that way! This recipe is really true to its country-fried cousin with its triple-breading and salty, savory flavor. Oh, yeah, did I mention gravy? Maybe I forgot to mention this awesome gravy! I love a nice, peppery gravy for a little creamy texture on top of my crunchy. This did the trick! You all are going to love this freakin cookbook if you like down-home cooking at all!! Tester Country-Fried Tempeh Steak with "Milk" Gravy,
served with Homemade Sweet Yeast Rolls and Collard Greens!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crunk Country Soup...mmmmm....

I am so lucky and so happy to be a tester for Bianca's (Vegan Crunk) cookbook!!! Tonight was absolutely freezing here in Missouri, so I was really excited that she posted a tester recipe for a nice, hearty soup to warm my bones. Country Potato Soup, that is! I typically don't like soup all that tastes good and all, but I am more of a knife-and-fork-meal kind of girl! Anyway, this creamy and filling potato soup really hit the spot. The addition of tempeh bacon was perfect, too, and this really reminded my of my grandma's potato soup I used to eat when I was little! And that's saying a lot!
Country Potato Soup
I served this creamy delight with homemade rolls. Steven's mother makes these amazing yeast rolls, so I had her mail me the recipe so I could make them myself! This Old Fashioned Sweet Roll recipe come from a super-antique and super-cute (also quite sexist. darn.) Betty Crocker cookbook from the fifties. I just tweaked it to be vegan and whole wheat, and voila! Delish! Old Fashioned Sweet Rolls

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Savory Black Olive Seitan

Back in May, when Steven and I visited New York City, we dined at a restaurant called Sacred Chow. This place was so good! I don't see too many people blog about it, but I certainly think anyone visiting or living in the nyc area should give it a chance! When we ate there, we had this awesome sandwich that had black olive seitan on it...something I had never had before! It was so delicious, and it has taken me until now to remember to try and recreate it! So, here is my attempt. It actually came out really well! Very salty and savory,and really easy to make. Again, it uses the steam-in-foil method, but instead of making individual sausage-like links, you make it in one large "roast" shape, and then you can slice or cut it up as you like afterward. I think anyone who who likes olives will love this seitan!Savory Black Olive Seitan,
served with leftover tester corn casserole and sauteed green beans!
Savory Black Olive Seitan (serves 4)
1 cup plus 2 Tbs vital wheat gluten
1 Tbs soy or chickpea flour
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs paprika
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small can black olives, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 cup cold water
In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir in the minced garlic and chopped black olives. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. Set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Cut a large piece of aluminum foil, large enough to encompass the dough completely. Place the seitan dough in the middle of the foil sheet, then roll over the dough and twist the ends of the foil to close. Place in a steamer basket set over the boiling water and steam for 1 hour. Remove from the steamer and bake in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes to get a chewy outside. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving! Yum!
For dessert, I picked up a Sweet and Sara's S'more (original flavor) for Steven. I still cannot believe they carry those at our Hy-Vee! How lucky are we?! I personally like the peanut butter flavor WAY better...but I'm a peanut butter gal...and Steven likes the plain jane. They are both great, though, so I guess we all win! :)
The package.
The eating.
On another note, I hope it is snowy and wintery where you are! I love it! I mean, look how darn cute even a little ice-scraping can be! (ain't he cute?!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crunk Testing and A Perfect Breakfast!

I have some amazing recipes for the Vegan Crunk cookbook, Cookin' Crunk, testing project to share with you! I must warn you, though...these look really tasty, so don't try to eat your computer! Just enjoy the pics and wait for the book to come out so you can enjoy them at home for reals! Tempeh Bacon,
getting ready for BLT deliciousness

Granny's Corn Casserole,
served with smoky baked tofu and greens

Now for a wonderful winter-time breakfast: Breakfast Apples and "Sausage." This dish is inspired by one of the menu items at my favorite breakfast place in Columbia, Cafe Berlin. It is a combination of veggie sausage (I used my vegan andouille sausage, because the cafe uses real, local andouille meat sausage, red onion, garlic, apples, spices, and maple syrup. Sooooo flippin good! It was pretty easy to recreate and I was so pleased with the sweet and savory combination of the dish!! Breakfast is served!
Breakfast Apples and "Sausage" (serves 2)
1 tsp olive oil (can also use vegan margarine if you are feeling adventurous)
1 cup red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large organic apple, sliced thinly
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup
1 cup water
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 vegan sausage links, sliced (or 1/2 block diced tempeh for a gluten-free meal)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the sliced red onion and saute 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add in the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the sausage slices, apple slices, cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne. Saute for 2-3 minutes until apple begins to soften. Add the maple syrup and water, then turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring to a light boil, then add the salt and pepper, cover and turn to low. Cook on low heat for 5 or so minutes, until the apples and onions are softened and the liquid is almost fully reduced. Remove from heat and serve!
--This is GREAT with a few slices of toast slathered with sweet potato butter or some raspberry jam!! And don't forget the coffee!--

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Andouille "Sausages" and Texas Loot!

In yesterday's gumbo post, I promised I would give the recipe for the vegan andouille "sausages" today...and here it is! If you are familiar with creole- or cajun-styles of cooking (which are different btw!) then you probably know a bit about this type of sausage. It is both spicy and smoky, a good Southern combination that is hard to beat! This can be used in the gumbo I posted or in jambalaya, stew, or even on a bun with your favorite toppings! They use the super-popular steam-in-foil method, so most of you will be pros at putting these together! Enjoy!

Vegan Andouille Sausages (makes 4)
1 cup + 1 Tbs vital wheat gluten
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tbs soy flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs paprika
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 cup + 1 Tbs cold water

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, including the garlic, and mix well. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, being careful to not over mix. Heat a pot of water to boiling. While heating the water, cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each measuring about 10 by 10 inches. Place about ½ cup “sausage” dough, or about 1/4 of the dough, in the middle of a square of foil and form into a sausage-like shape. Roll the aluminum foil around the dough and twist the ends to close. This will create an aluminum casing for the sausages to be steamed in. Repeat until you have 4 sausages and have used all of the dough. Place the wrapped sausages in a steamer basket and set over the pot of boiling water. Steam for 35 minutes, covered. Remove from steamer basket and allow to set for 15 minutes before serving.

Now onto the goods that Steven brought me back from his Texas trip!! He was quite close to the Mexico border, so he had access to markets and shops that had lots of Mexican and Tex-Mex foods not available here in Missouri! The only thing not pictured is some homemade tortilla chips from a Mexican market and a HUGE papaya was too big to fit in the picture I think! Clockwise, from the left: 2 Quinces, 2 Limes, 2 different kinds of Mole Sauce, a package of "Hot and Spicy" Pineapple Slices, 2 avocados, 2 different kinds of chili powder, 2 Kiwi, and 2 Tomatillos! How lucky am I??

Friday, January 9, 2009

Yumbo Gumbo!

I am really pumped because I have been wanting to make gumbo for a while...I heart okra...and I finally made it for dinner tonight! I wanted to wait until Steven got back from his climbing trip to Texas to make it for him, so I just got my chance tonight. I kinda winged this recipe based on what I've had before and what I knew about creole-style cooking. Luckily, it turned out great!! The andouille sausage to which I refer in the recipe is another work-in-progress that I finally got to turn out wonderfully--I will post that recipe tomorrow, as I don't want to make this too long of a post with the long gumbo recipe and all. So here it is! I hope you try AND like it!"Andouille" Okra Gumbo (serves 4 hungry vegans)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 lb okra, sliced
1 can yellow or white hominy, drained and rinsed (corn will work if you can’t find hominy)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 vegan Andouille sausages, sliced into thin rounds
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs Louisiana-style hot sauce (Frank’s, etc. But really, Frank's is the bomb!!!)
2 Tbs paprika
1 heaping Tbs gumbo filé powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp mild chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you want less heat)
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup vegetable broth or water

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pan. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until onions are softened and translucent. Add in the minced garlic and jalapeno, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the broth, vinegar, hot sauce, and maple syrup to the vegetables and stir. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly reduced. Stir in the sliced “sausages,” beans, hominy, and canned tomatoes. Stir in all of the spices and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent sticking. Add in the okra and cook for another 5 minutes, until the okra is fully cooked. Add extra salt and/or pepper to taste and serve immediately.
I recommend serving this hot with a thick slice of cornbread or over a bed of brown rice!

The cool thing about this recipe is that you can add your own twists and variations to it, and it will probably still turn out tasty! You can modify the cayenne and other peppers if you want more or less heat. I still threw a few dashes of hot sauce on mine once I plated it up, but that's because I like it pretty spicy. If you opt not to make the homemade andouille "sausages" (that I will post tomorrow), you can use any vegan link-style sausage, sliced seitan, or even cubed tempeh. But, seriously, you WILL want to make these fauxsages. For real.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tester Chili and Sweet Potato Butter

Being a tester for Bianca's (Vegan Crunk) upcoming cookbook has gotten me really excited to cook recently! With only two dishes down, and I can already tell this is going to be a wonderful testing process and an even better final cookbook!
The first tester recipe this week: Chipotle Chickpea Chili! This is one hearty chili...packed full of beans, chipotle peppers, and a few other surprise ingredients...and it is really delicious! It was just perfect on a cold night like tonight! I served it with sauteed greens and some of my homemade whole wheat biscuits. And yes, that is my homemade sweet potato butter slathered on those little biscuits!
Since I'm not able to give you the chili recipe (I can keep a secret!), I will give you my recipe for sweet potato butter! It's made in the crock pot, but you could use a pressure cooker if you have that instead. Here's a picture of the little cubes going into the beautiful red crock pot:
Sweet Potato Butter (makes about 3 cups)
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 qt water
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs maple syrup or agave nectar
juice of 1 lemon

In a medium or large crock pot, place the water, diced sweet potatoes, and sugar. Turn on to high and allow to cook for at least 8 hours, or until the sweet potatoes are very well cooked and the water has almost completely reduced. Add the spices, salt, maple syrup, and lemon juice to the cooked sweet potatoes. Stir and cover again. Allow to cook for 2 more hours on high. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Pour mixture into food processor or blender and puree until immersion blender would work here too! Put into jars and refrigerate.
**If there seems to be extra water in the crock pot after cooking the sweet potatoes, drain a bit off before adding the spices, etc.**

The cold weather of winter has made me crave more rib-sticking and homestyle foods. Some examples from this past week:
Oven-"Fried" Zucchini
(based on my oven-"fried" okra recipe)

Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh (from Veganomicon) with
Maple Dijon Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli
--I will have the potato recipe's my WIP Wednesday dish!--

More tester recipes and homestyle cooking to come!

Friday, January 2, 2009

I've Died and Gone to Waffle House!

Close your eyes and imagine yourself eating breakfast in bed...a warm waffle drenched in Earth Balance and maple syrup, a mug of hot coffee, the newspaper, and a loved one. OK, now open them so you can read about these awesome waffles! In my dream, the waffles I would be eating in bed are these Cinnamon Pecan Waffles! These are from Bianca of Vegan Crunk's upcoming cookbook, "Cookin' Crunk." I get to be a tester for her awesome new Southern cookbook...which is perfect because I love Southern food! hooray! This waffle recipe is first up for the testing challenge. These waffles are so wonderful! A bit more "buttery" tasting than any vegan waffles I've had before, such as the ones I drool over from Vegan With A Vengeance. They are also pretty pecan-laden. Or pee-kan if you are really from the South. They are just like the really tasty but really awful-for-you version at Waffle House. Which I will tell you unashamed that I loved that greasy spoon place as an omni. So thanks Bianca for bringing me back, but in a much kinder, healthier way!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Hey, this is my first post of 2009! Party! First off, I'll tell you about my New Year's Eve. My mom and I just stayed in, watched movies, and vegged until midnight! It was great!
We sipped on Silk nog of choice! It totally beats the Rice Dream version, both in creaminess and taste, and is even more perfect topped with a little sprinkle of nutmeg! Mom got a new popcorn air-popper for Christmas, so she brought it down when she came to visit me! She even brought some organic popping corn...score! We snacked on some nooch-y organic popcorn and drank Kombucha to celebrate. Kombucha is my version of champagne, I guess!
Then, to start the New Year's Day off right, we went out for an amazing breakfast at Cafe Berlin! It is by far the best breakfast in Columbia. We got their Apples and "Sausage" (tempeh), which is served with roasted potatoes and toast! So good! We even got some homemade sweet potato butter for the local wheat toast. Could it be any better?Now onto the essential New Year's meal: Black Eyed Peas! For our awesome Southern meal, I made my Hoppin' John and served it with the Southern-Style Cornbread from the Angelica Kitchen Cookbook (but I made it with blue cornmeal!) and sauteed dandelion greens. We will be lucky in 2009 for sure! Hoppin' John (serves 4-6)
1 lb dried black-eyed peas
2 qts water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 Tbs tomato paste or ketchup
1 Tbs soy sauce or Bragg's
1 Tbs paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
First, prepare the black-eyed peas: In the morning, combine the black-eyed peas, water, and bay leaves in a crock pot and turn on high. Let cook all day, about 6 to 8 hours. Drain the cooked peas, then return to the crock pot. Turn to low and prepare the vegetable mix.
Then, prepare the veggie mix: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add in the onion, peppers, and celery. Saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onion becomes mostly translucent. Add the jalapeno and garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Pour in the soy sauce and tomato paste and let simmer for 2 minutes. Turn to low and add in the spices. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable mixture and lemon juice to the cooked black-eyed peas in the crock pot. Allow to cook for 10 minutes together, remove the bay leaves and serve!
I recommend dousing this in plenty of hot sauce and serving with cornbread and greeeeeens!

And now for something completely different! I had to share this new delicious gift I got: Maui Banana Butter!!! My dad and step-mom went to Hawaii last month and brought me back some banana butter from Maui. It is so great! Think apple butter, but with a tropical and super-sweet twist. It is perfect on a sandwich with the Cashew and Macadamia Nut Butter I got at Trader Joe's! Now I think I need to make my own sometime!
Have an awesome 2009 everybody!