Monday, June 22, 2009

Foods Worth Celebrating!

Over the past few weeks, I have gone to a lot of party-type events, such as b-days and anniversaries, so I have been making plenty of celebration-worthy foods...because, as we all know, there is no better way to celebrate!!!

For my awesome friend Anna's birthday, we made grilled pizzas! Perfect for summertime and delish, of course. Mine had vegan cheese, Smartlife faux pepperoni, fresh basil, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, black olives, and Anna's mom's homemade tomato sauce! So good!!! My dad's birthday and fathers' day falls in the same week, so I made a cake to commemorate both! He requested carrot cake for his birthday cake, so I made Mama's Twisted Orange Carrot Cake from the PPK website. This cake is amazing!! zomg!! There is an entire pureed orange in the batter! This cake was extremely moist and had a wonderful flavor...I altered the recipe a bit to make it healthier, by substituting applesauce for the oil and using whole wheat pastry flour. Next time you need to make a carrot cake, I highly recommend this recipe!This past weekend was my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary (yay for them!) and we had a big family get-together, because that's what families do I suppose, so my mom and I made our popular family recipe for Scotcheroo Rice Krispie Treats! We veganized it and healthied it up, of course! These use peanut butter as the glue in the treats themselves, and the yummy topping is a mixture of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips (again, thanks to Bianca for those!). These treats were gone very quickly!!

Last week was my lovely friend Anne's birthday, so I made a Cookin' Crunk tester recipe for her birthday treat: Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie! She wanted a pie instead of a cake for her birthday, so I made it happen! This pie was so delicious....whole wheat crust, organic fresh strawberry filling, and a whole lot of love....she adored it!
Now for a few foods that weren't made for a party or anything, but should be celebrated themselves for being so tasty!!

Another Cookin' Crunk tester recipe for Cashew Mac 'n Cheese! This used cashews, nooch, spices, and soymilk for the cheesy sauce, and I opted for the shell pasta over the elbow macaroni, cuz I loves me some shells and cheese! This went perfectly with some bbq tempeh, btw! Can't wait for this cookbook to come out, Bianca!Finally and best of all: Bagels from Vegan Brunch!! This was my first attempt at homemade bagels and it was a success! I used whole wheat pastry flour in mine and they turned out wonderfully! Instead of poppy or sesame seeds, I dusted the tops with coarse sea salt before the boiling and baking...mmmmmm....I have been eating these pretty much everyday for breakfast. Topped with peanut butter, jam, Tofutti cream cheese, vegan lox, or whatever strikes my fancy that morning. I think next I would like to make a bagel sandwich with them! Make these when you have a few extra hours on your hands: you won't regret it!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lemon-Dill Potato Salad

Gonna have a picnic this weekend? You should make this potato salad!! It captures the flavors of summer perfectly and has a great balance of tangy and would be perfect with some sandwiches and lemonade on a warm summer day!! I whipped this up after getting some amazing dill at the farmer's market and it turned out really well. Enjoy!!
Lemon-Dill Potato Salad (serves 6 or so)
4 medium russet potatoes, cubed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and rinsed
¼ cup red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup celery, diced
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 small lemon
¼ cup dijon mustard
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp paprika

Boil potato cubes for approximately 5 minutes, until just tender. Be sure to not overcook the potatoes, as the salad will become too mushy. Drain and rinse potatoes with cool water, set aside to cool completely.In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and paprika. Combine until well mixed. Add all other ingredients, besides potatoes, and stir to coat. Lastly, add in the potatoes and stir just until coated with dressing, ensuring to not over mix or mash the potato cubes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dinner with Terry and Isa

Tonight I had dinner with Terry and Isa. OK, maybe I didn't actually "dine" with two of the best vegan chefs ever, but I did make one Terry dish and one Isa dish for my dinner tonight! It was great! Tonight's meal was Latina-themed, since I am currently testing for Terry's upcoming Vegan Latina cookbook. btw, this cookbook is going to be awesome! A lot of the recipes are multi-step and take some time, but all of the recipes I have made so far have turned out delicious!!

The main course was the Sexy Avocado-Tempeh Stuffed Arepas, a Vegan Latina tester. omg these were amazing!! If you haven't heard of arepas before, they are a little corn-based tortilla, but much thicker and denser, and they are used for stuffing and devouring! Very popular in South America especially. The insides of these Venezuelan-style Arepas have a polenta-like texture, while the outsides are crispy, almost like the crust of American cornbread...these are very interesting and tasty little treats! The Avocado-Tempeh Filling is really creamy and delicious, and gets a little zing from lime juice, and there is a secret filling ingredient: shredded jicama! It lends an amazing texture! I could go on and on about these little guys, but I will let the photos do the talking:

First, the Masa Harina-based dough is pan-fried...
And, of course, cooked to a golden brown for a nice crust...Then, they all go in the oven for a little while to get the insides nice and cooked...And then they are ready to be stuffed with all sorts of goodies!Here they are, stuffed and ready to be eaten! Even better with a few dashes of hot sauce along the way!
For my side dish, I made a recipe from Isa's new Vegan Brunch cookbook: Fried Plantains!! I picked these mainly because this sounded like a perfect Latina accompaniment to my Terry-tester-arepas, but also because I really want to make everything ever in Vegan Brunch!! These were really good, too! I like my version a little better, I must admit, as these were more salty and less sweet, but still delicious! I mean, it IS an Isa recipe for goodness sake...can't really go wrong, can you??!

I'll definitely be making all of these dishes again and again and again....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Apple Rosemary Scones

I am kind of on a scone kick lately, so I made another variation of the scone recipe in Vegan Brunch: Apple Rosemary Scones! These have a perfect balance of savory and sweet, and are absolutely divine with a little Earth Balance for breakfast....even better if enjoyed with a hot mug of coffee and the New York Times. Maybe that's just me. Either way, you must try this scone recipe! You will not be sorry!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tester Hummus and Homemade Ice Cream

Let me just say that I love summer food!! I am not as much in the mood for cooking or baking because of the heat, but I am learning to appreciate the simple and healthy meals that require little preparation on hot summer nights!

A great example of this is hummus! Have it with some pita, on a salad or sandwich, or even as a veggie dip for a no-cook meal. This is Black-Eyed Pea Hummus, and it is a tester recipe for Bianca's Cookin' Crunk cookbook. The black-eyed peas instead of garbs give it such a unique flavor and it is sooooo tasty! Very creamy and thick, too. Here, it is served with some slices of ciabatta bread from the local Uprise Bakery!! mmmm....bread....I also love summer because that means I bust out my ice cream maker!! Pictured below is my S'mores Ice Cream! I made up this recipe using the tips on the A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise blog, and put my own twist on it! It turned out so well! Aren't s'mores the best?? Vegan S'mores Ice Cream (makes about 1 qt)
2 cups soymilk
1 cup soy creamer (I used MimiCreme)
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 Tbs arrowroot powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups graham cracker pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup vegan marshmallow fluff

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the soymilk with the arrowroot. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the rest of the soymilk, soy creamer and sugar. Bring just to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat immediately. Add in the arrowroot slurry and whisk well until liquid begins to thicken. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature.
Freeze soymilk mixture according to ice cream maker manufacturer's directions, adding in the graham crackers, chocolate chips, and marshmallow fluff during the last 5 minutes. Freeze or serve immediately!

In other news, Steven just returned from a trip to New York...and he brought me my first vegan doughnuts!! I hadn't had a doughnut in about 4 years, so the two he brought me were Heaven-sent! These were the Nutrilicious brand-- probably not as good as freshly-baked, but they did the trick for sure.

There was a vanilla doughnut with a carob glaze....
And a chocolate doughnut with chocolate-vanilla swirl frosting! These were both divine, but this one was my favorite of the two! It went very well with a big mug of coffee!