Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alfredooooooooo! I've missed you!

I am in a veeeerry good mood after my dinner tonight! I made Vegan Alfredo Sauce over Local Sweet Potato Pasta, with Sauteed Kale and Homemade Italian Sausages!!! This meal is exciting for a number of reasons!! I think they will make you happy, too!
1) The Italian Sausage is homemade, for my DIY post this week. Homemade sausages are sooooo much better than store-bought, and a whole lot cheaper! I must admit, I do love a Tofurkey Beer Brat or Field Roast Apple-Sage Sausage when I am feeling lazy, but it is realy worth the effort to make my own! Did I mention that it's cheaper?! I used Julie Hasson's famous steamed sausage recipe from the Everyday Dish site. These are so good! I should have made a ton of them and frozen them for later use....maybe next time. 2) I finally got to have Alfredo Sauce! I haven't had any alfredo-type sauce since going vegan, which is about three years now! I know, I know, there are tons of vegan alfredo recipes out there. I just never remembered to make them, really! Soooo, with the help of some PPK'ers, I found Lachesis' Vegan Alfredo recipe on the PPK forums, and it is so wonderful! Another DIY part of this meal...homemade sauces kick the crap out of store-bought sauces. This is a fact. Decadent, yes, but we could all use a little extra fat in our meals now and again! Oh goodness this was so flavorful and creamy and just like I remembered alfredo sauce being in my pregan days! JOY!!!3) I used the local Sweet Potato Pasta from Pappardelle's, a local pasta-maker here in KC. And I loved it! The sweet potato flavor wasn't too strong, but definetely there! Thanks farmer's market! :)4) This was a healthy and complete meal, pretty quick and easy to make, and it tasted amazing...what's not to love?!??!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pizza Fusion and More Test Recipes

The Kansas City Star, our main newspaper, did a big story this week on a new KC restaurant, Pizza Fusion, in honor of Earth Day. If you haven't heard of Pizza Fusion, it is a pretty new pizza chain that is all over the country, and it is all organic/natural and has TONS of vegan options, including FYH mozzarella! They make everything out of recycled materials and even have hybrid delivery vehicles! I was pretty sure that I needed to try this place, so we went there for lunch today. And, it was delicious! The vegan items are even listed as such on the menu AND our waitress was vegan, so she could make some good recommendations! I was veeeeery happy!We started off with the Fusion Salad, with Goddess Dressing... I had the Farmer's Market Pizza on Multigrain Crust (portobellos, red onions, zucchini, artichoke hearts, basil, tomato sauce, FYH mozzarella).....I really, really enjoyed this pizza.My mom had the Bruschetta Pizza on Organic White Crust (tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar, FYH mozarella)....definetely a classic!For dessert, we had the Organic Chocolate Brownie!!! This was vegan AND gluten-free, and by-far the BEST gluten-free baked good I have ever had!!! OMG they served it straight from the oven, sprinkled with cocoa powder and powdered sugar, and garnished with strawberries! It was so flippin' moist and delicious!
If one of these joints is near you, I highly recommend you give it a shot!

I also went to the KC farmer's market yesterday with my friends Sarah and Fatima, which was a blast! I love seeing how there gets to be more and more vendors and patrons of the market every week! I didn't get anything too exciting this week, but we did stop and eat lunch at Succotash, the diner that is in the City Market square! I love this place!!!

I got the Lemony Lima Bean Hummus Plate, which was served with fresh, locally-made French bread! Amaaaazing! They even garnished it with some succotash! I was in hummus heaven.

Also this week, I did some more testing for Terry's upcoming Vegan Latina cookbook! BTW this cookbook is going to blow everybody away with all of the creative recipes and fun flavors!
Mofongo, a fried plantain dish...

Mango and Jicama Chopped Salad...very light and refreshing
Mango and Jicama Chopped Salad, served with a new Soyrizo that I tried this week, made by Melissa's brand. The soyrizo was pretty good! Flavorful, spicy, chewy...I added some sauteed onions and green chiles to it for an extra kick.
Melissa's brand Soyrizo.... And, finally, the Cilantro-Lime Rice, which is my new favorite rice dish! It is so wonderfully limey and salty and cilantroy! It would be perfect with anything, really, but I served it with the Venezuelan Black Beans from Terry's tester recipes and some Chili-Sauteed Veggies (my own creation). YUM!

p.s. only three weeks until I graduate!! yay!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Isa and Terry's Peanut Butter Pillows

It was one of my co-worker's birthday this week, so I naturally felt compelled to bake her a delicious treat in celebration! One, because birthdays are fun and special and ought to be celebrated and, two, because I want everyone to know how wonderful vegan food can be...particularly vegan baked goods! Soooooo, I made the Peanut Butter Pillows, from the upcoming Vegan Cookies cookbook by Isa and Terry! When Isa posted these on the PPK blog, I instantly knew these must be the birthday treat of choice! I LOVE chocolate and I LOVE peanut butter even more, and these cookies were perfect! In Isa's picture, the peanut butter filling is much taller and puffy-looking, but mine are shorter and wider, as I flattened my cookies a bit before baking. They were still amazing, and I'm sure would be delightful either way. I really just wanted to see what it would be like this way, but I will probably try the non-flattened kind next time. These cakey and chewy little devils just beg for a glass of cold soymilk to be had with them!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunny Millet Granola

With the rising cost of food these days, it just makes sense to go more DIY! From making your own seitan, baking your own bread, and even making your own soymilk, it seems like everybody is making an effort to make more foods themselves, which benefits the environment, your health, AND your wallet! So, I decided to make a weekly post about something completely homemade, DIY style!! I want to encourage everybody to try this out, and hopefully it will be contagious!

For this week's DIY dish, I made this Sunny Millet Granola! I just played around with some ingredients I thought went well together, and it turned out great! I highly recommend this drizzled with plenty of hemp milk, or sprinkled on top of some vanilla soy yogurt with fresh fruit!!
Step 1: Toast the seeds and nutsStep 2: Bake the granola
Step 3: Add the raisins and enjoy!

Sunny Millet Granola (makes approx. 5 lbs)
3 lbs old-fashioned rolled oats
1 lb uncooked millet
2 cups sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
2 cups flame or golden raisins
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup molasses or agave nectar
2 Tbs cinnamon
1 Tbs nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread sunflower seeds and almonds in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned and you can smell the nuts. Set aside to cool.
While the nuts cool, mix together the oats, millet, applesauce, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add in the cooled nuts, and stir well to coat all the ingredients with the molasses and applesauce. Pour the mixture into two baking dishes, distributed evenly, and bake for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Stir in the raisins. Transfer granola to an airtight container. This will keep for several weeks if well-sealed!

Now go get cooking!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vegan Latina Testing!!

I am so excited to be testing for Terry Hope Romero's upcoming cookbook, Vegan Latina! The recipes, of course, are all Latina in nature, from Venezuelan to Carribean to Salvadorian! There are so many new dishes that I have never made or even eaten before in this book, so testing will be a great adventure. Here's a preview of some dishes...I made these this week, but there will definetely be more to come!!
Simple Sofrito...pre-cooking
Simple Sofrito...after cooking Salvadorian Slaw
Salvadorian Slaw, paired with Latin Seitan "Pork" and Posole Stew (my own recipe...I'll share that later!), I was inspired by all the Latin recipes Terry created!

Venezuelan-Style Black Beans (Caraotas)

Caraotas, paired with my own Garlic-Sauteed Greens and lots of fresh Avocado

This is going to be so much fun!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easy Weekday Eats

Here's some tasty things I have eaten this week! Quick, easy, healthy, yummy. No complaints here!
PB&Co White Chocolate Peanut Butter...Orange Marmalade...Toasted Almonds...on Local Whole Grain Bread...from the PB&Co. Cookbook! Amazing sandwich!!
Tofu "Parmesean" Open-Faced Sandwiches: Italian-Baked Tofu, Marinara Sauce, Cheezy Mozzarella Sauce, and Basil. yum!!!! with a Raw Beet Salad. perfect.
Big'n'Tasty Salad: Red Leaf Lettuce, Cabbage, Red Onion, Apples, Sweet Potato, Toasted Pecans, Tahini Dressing. Hit the spot after a long run!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Eats, Thanks to Bianca!

Since it is Easter and all, I figured I had a good excuse to cook up a storm and make some dishes that took a little more time and effort! Isn't that the best part of holidays?! Bianca, of Vegan Crunk, put this new tester recipe for her cookbook up this week and I knew instantly that it was the perfect thing to serve for my Easter lunch: Dijon-Pecan Seitan with Maple Butter Glaze. Yeah, it is as good as it sounds!! The seitan has an amazing crust on the outside that is both salty and sweet, which is enhanced even more by the salty-sweet glaze. My taste buds were smiling! These little nutty medalions were paired perfectly with Garlic-Roasted Asparagus and Lemon-Herb Whipped Parsnips...I was feeling kind of fancy this morning.
And, what would a holiday be without dessert? I made some wonderful Butterscotch Pecan Blondies, as they felt spring-y to me, and put in some butterscotch chips that the great Bianca sent me from Memphis....the Food Lion stores down South carry vegan butterscotch chips! whoa! (in my Joey Lawrence voice)
These are loosely based off of the blondies (with carob chips) served at Main Squeeze in Columbia, but I have been working on my own version for a bit, and of course I had to put my own spin on them! You MUST try these if you can get your hands on some vegan b.s. chips!
Butterscotch Pecan Blondies (serves 12 BIG portions, maybe 16 normal-sized)
Wet Ingredients:
2 T ground flaxseeds
2 c turbinado (or other natural) sugar
2 T vanilla extract
1 c unsweetened applesauce
1-12 silken tofu
1 1/2 c soy or rice milk

Dry Ingredients:
4 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cup vegan butterscotch chips
1 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Blend wet ingredients until well mixed. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Fold in 1 cup each of butterscotch chips and pecans. Pour wet ingredients into a well in the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup each extra butterscotch chips and pecans. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting, and serve.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

(No Animals) Sufferin' Succotash!

Yeah, cheezy title. sorry. This post is aptly named because I discovered a new vegan-friendly restaurant in Kansas City today: Succotash! This was the first Saturday of the season that I went to the farmer's market in downtown KC, which was exciting in itself, but while I was there, I of course had to eat lunch! So when I saw Succotash, it was obvious what my job was. I had heard it was great before AND my mom had a gift certificate AND I was at the City Market, where it is could I not eat there?? The restaurant is in a warehouse-type space and it is decorated really cool, lots of bright colors, paintings, retro lamps, etc.....Also, they have great food! The Pitch voted them best breakfast in Kansas City! I wouldn't say this applied to vegans, as there weren't really many vegan breakfast items, but the lunch food was wonderful! About 90% of the people who worked there were really nice and helpful, but I guess you always remember the 10% that wasn't. Anyway, one of the girls who worked there was vegan, and she pointed out some options on the menu and substitutions and whatnot.

I had the Veggie Wrap: spinach tortilla stuffed with lemony lima bean hummus (subbed for the eggs and cheese. yuck.) , succotash, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach, served with a HUGE side of home fries! This was amazing! The succotash was really crisp and flavorful, with tons of dill in it, and the lima bean hummus was amazingly creamy and fresh-tasting. I am in love!My mom had the Veggie Quesadilla: spinach tortilla with grilled succotash, tomatoes, spring greens, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemony lima bean hummus (subbed for cheese again), served with also a HUGE side of home fries. She really, really liked this, too! It was a lot like the wrap I had, since we made so many substitutions to make the items vegan, but we both loved what we had! And it was really reasonably priced! Yesssssss!While we were at the farmer's market, we picked up some Sweet Potato Pasta from Pappardelle's, a local pasta maker/vendor. They had a wide selection of pastas to choose from, but many of them had eggs in them. Luckily, they were really helpful in picking out which did not contain eggs, and I knew which one I had to have when my eyes landed on the words "sweet potato" and "pasta" since I am a carb lover and proud of it! Now I just need to figure out a meal special enough to use this in!We also stopped by a local natural foods store, Green Acres Market, to pick up a few groceries. While shopping, we discovered they had a new vegan item in their bakery: Vegan Chocolate Chip Raspberry Bars! I was pumped, because I love the raspberry chocolate chip blondies from VWAV, and these were inexpensive and already made for me! Lazy points! These were really good...not even close to as good as Isa's, duh....but quite tasty for a natural food store's bakery section! The crust was nice and dense and there was just the perfect amounts of both raspberry and chocolate. Very nice. In unrelated news, we had Waldo Pizza for dinner last night! Waldo is a KC local pizza place that has Follow Your Heart Vegan Mozzerella as a topping option, toooooons of veggie topping choices, and several vegan crust and sauce choices! They even sometimes have vegan cookies and brownies, but only if you go on the right day. Figures. We had the standard Veggie Pizza with Vegan Mozzerella...I added some Italian-Baked Tofu I made once we got it home, you know, for a litte more protein. It was so freakin' delicious!! The traditional crust is just the right thickness and it is soft and flavorful and crisp on the edges and perfect! It is nice to know you can always get a good vegan pizza in Kansas City!
Also eaten this week was my Green Tea-Almond Noodles! It's a recipe I have been working on and thinking about (you know how it is....) for a while now, and I think it is pretty much "there." This Asian-style dish is basically udon noodles, toasted almonds, veggies, and the Green Tea Almond Sauce (below), and it makes for a pretty quick and filling meal on a busy weeknight! This was a perfect pre-LOST treat!

Green Tea-Almond Sauce (makes approx. 2 1/2 cups)

2 cups water plus 2 bags green tea

1/4 cup cold water whisked with 2 Tbs cornstarch

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional for extra heat)

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 Tbs maple syrup or agave nectar

2 Tbs Dijon or spicy mustard

Bring water to a boil and add tea bags. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags return to medium heat. Add the cornstarch slurry and the rest of the ingredients and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to a honey-like consistency. Toss with noodles, veggies, and almonds, and then serve hot or cold!

p.s. Is everybody ready to make Easter dinner tomorrow? What are you fixing?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Super Southern Sides!

This testing thing just gets better every week!! For Vegan Crunk Bianca's cookbook tester recipes this week, I was lucky enough to try out two different Southern-style side dishes: Mashed Sweet Taters and Mess 'o Greens with Turnips!

Sweet potatoes are in my top 5 favorite foods of all time, so I OF COURSE loved this sweet, spiced version! I served the Mashed Sweet Taters with another tester recipe, Country Fried Tempeh with Gravy, and some Sauteed Cabbage and Onions. My belly was very happy after this meal!
And greens are just so good any way you cook 'em, so this smoky, salty, and sweet version that is spiked with tender turnips made the meal a joy to eat! The Mess o' Greens with Turnips went perfectly with BBQ Baked Tofu (made with Annie's Smoky Maple BBQ Sauce, cuz I was lazy), and some of my own Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Ahhhhhh....greeeennnssss....I can already tell both of these recipes will be in heavy rotation on my plate!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Southwest Black Bean Burgers

I know, everyone has their own veggie burger or black bean burger recipe...but I made this one up the other day and really liked it a lot! It is really similar to the black bean burger that was on the menu at Main Squeeze (where I work) a few years back, and customers went nuts for it! It is really simple to make and has a little bit of a zip to it from the chipotle powder, and it is really cheap for all the penny-pinchers out there--holla! I top these with some avocado, red onion, lettuce, and my "kickin' ketchup" (recipe below), and pile all that on a whole wheat bun! Serve it with some roasted veggies or chips 'n salsa, and dinner is served! Or lunch. Or breakfast, really.

Southwest Black Bean Burgers (serves 6)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tbs flaxseed meal, whisked with 1/4 cup warm water
juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbs)
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs chipotle powder or chili powder
1 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs hot sauce...I like Frank's or Cholula brands
2 Tbs soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
--1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1/2 tsp black pepper, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 F and lightly oil a sheet pan.
In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, and olive oil. Use a potato masher or fork to mash this all together, until the beans have been mostly smashed and this mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the flour/pepper mixture, and mix together until well combined. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and black pepper. Measure out 1/2 cup of burger mixture and form it into a ball. Roll the ball in the flour mixture to coat. Place on the greased sheet pan and flatten into desired size/thickness. Repeat until all of the burger mixture is gone--this should make about six good-sized burgers.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before removing from sheet pan (this is crucial, folks!). To serve immediately, brown in a skillet and serve on a bun with kickin' ketchup (follows). To serve later, store in an airtight container and refrigerate. These will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Kickin' Ketchup (makes about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup organic high fructose corn syrup!!!
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbs lemon or lime juice
1 Tbs spicy brown mustard

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Will keep for several weeks.

Now any night can be burger night :)