Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pomegranate and Caramelized Pecan Muffins

What a lucky girl I am! I get to test wonderful baked goods for Carla of The Year of the Vegan blog, for her upcoming cookbook Vegan Bakesale!!
Here was yesterday's delight: Pomegranate and Caramelized Pecan Muffins. So wonderfully muffiny, cinnamony, fruity, nutty, and tasty!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pure Comfort: Vegan Country "Ham" and Beans

Nothing says comfort on a chilly, rainy night like a big bowl of this Vegan Country "Ham" and Beans. Tender white beans, chewy seitan ham, veggies, and a creamy sauce all poured over fluffy cornbread...mmmm, I feel all warm and cozy already
For the "ham," I used a homemade seitan ham, but plain seitan, smoked tofu, or even tempeh chunks would work as well! Vegan Country"Ham" and Beans (serves 6-8)
1 lb dried white beans, soaked at least 8 hours
1 qt water
1 bay leaf

1/2 cup celery, small diced
1 cup carrots, small diced
2 cups white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups seitan "ham" or plain seitan
2 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dry sage
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup soymilk
2 Tbs whole wheat flour

In a large pot, bring soaked beans, water, and bay leaf to a boil. Cook for approx. 1 hour, until the beans are tender and softened. Drain and set aside.
While the beans are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic for about 8-10 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add in the spices, except for the salt, and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the diced ham, vegetables, and broth to the cooked beans. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the soymilk and flour to make a slurry. Add into bean pot and stir well. Stir in the salt. Allow to cook and thicken for 5 more minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over cornbread or biscuits, and enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Off The Kids Menu...

A few weeks ago...yeah, I forget to post sometimes....I served what I called a "kindergarten throwback" meal at my vegan supper club. It was glorious! All the fixings for a kiddie meal ala school cafeterias, but with a healthy, vegan twist!!

I made Tofu Nuggets, out of local Central Soyfoods tofu, with Homemade Vegan Ranch and Homemade Ketchup for dipping (I'll post those recipes soon)! For the sides, I served Organic Roasted Peas and Carrots, and Vegan Mac'n'Cheeze!! I think I might have made the best vegan mac ever, so I'll give the recipe out...let me know what you think!!
Super Tasty Vegan Mac and Cheeze (serves 8-10)
1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup unsweetened soymilk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast, or more to taste!
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup vegan cheese, shredded (I used Follow Your Heart's Vegan Cheddar)
2 Tbs vegan margarine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain--do not rinse--and return to pan.
In a large sauce pan, whisk together the soymilk, nutritional yeast, and spices. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheeze. Lower heat and stir continuously until the cheeze is completely melted and sauce is smooth.
Add margarine to noodles and toss to coat. Pour the cheesy sauce over the buttered noodles, and then gently fold in the sauce to coat the noodles. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

For dessert, I made the Big Fat Rice Krispie Treats from Isa and Terry's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!! These are seriously, seriously awesome!! They were so reminiscent of the childhood favorite, I couldn't believe it! And, since I used puffed brown rice cereal, they were quite a bit healthier! Bonus!! If you don't have that book yet, get it! If you have it and haven't made these treats, make them!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chi-Town Treats!

I just got back yesterday from Chicago, where I went this weekend for a good friend's bachelorette party!! It was lots of fun, of course, but it was also great because of all the awesome vegan food Chicago has!!!
First and foremost, I got to try Go Max Go! candy bars!!!! The Whole Foods downtown had all sorts of treats that I can't get back in Kansas City, so I stocked up. I tried all the varieties of candy bars, and I just can't decide which is my favorite! Pictured is the Buccaneer bar, which is the Three Musketeers alternative. So. freakin. good. I hadn't eaten a candy bar in soooooo long, so this was quite a treat!Also from the downtown Whole Foods: Jerk Tofu Wrap, made by Soul Vegetarian East, a local veg restaurant that makes some prepared foods for sale at WF. Yum!! I got to try Wildwood's Soyogurt, which was seriously awesome. My second favorite soygurt, only after Whole Soy and Co. This was suuuuper thick, too, which was very nice!Since I really love yogurt as snacks, I also tried the Ricera Rice Yogurt! I've never had rice-based yogurt before, so I had to branch out. It was pretty good! I am definitely more of a soygurt fan, but if you have a soy allergy, this would be a great alternative!

Now for some restaurant food!! I got to go to Karyn's Cooked for the first time ever!! Yay for me :) I am in love with this place! So much that I went there twice over the weekend! haha

Our appetizer: the Mixed Basket...a basket of fried mushrooms, fried BROCCOLI, and fried tofu. Served with Creamy Garlic Sauce and homemade BBQ Sauce for dipping. OMG fried fooooooood! A rare indulgence, sure, but it is just so tasty! Fried broccoli might be my new favorite food!Our entrees: I got the Grilled Steak Wrap....thinly-sliced seitan "steak," grilled onions and peppers, shredded lettuce, and chipotle sauce in a grilled whole wheat tortilla!! Like a Philly cheese steak on steroids. Vegan steroids. (huh?!) It came with Coleslaw--yum!--and Potato Wedges! With more BBQ Sauce! I was so full and happy!A couple of the girls I was with got the Jerk Tofu Wrap...jerk-spiced tofu, jerk sauce, creamy garlic sauce, and shredded lettuce in a spinach tortilla. Also with the slaw and wedges. This was seriously spicy and delicious!!Also ordered: the Taco Salad Bowl!! This salad is not kidding around, guys. It's a deep-fried taco shell bowl filled with lettuce, seitan taco meat, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapenos, creamy garlic sauce, and chipotle sauce. Holy freakin cow. Just salty, spicy decadence. So good!

We split some desserts, of course! Banana Cake!! Moist as heck! With a carob drizzle.And Coconut Bread Pudding! Warm, gooey, rich, amazing! Another night, I got take-out from Karyn's--I just couldn't get enough!! This time I got the Green Enchiladas: corn tortillas stuffed with garlic mashed potatoes and topped with green tomatillo sauce and soy sour cream, with a side of spanish brown rice and refried black beans, with some tortilla chips. Mex-amazing!!One great thing about Chicago is that they have Trader Joe's stores!! We don't have them in Kansas City, so I loaded up on snacks and such. I wish I could go there every day with those prices!!
Vegan Brown Rice Marshmallow Treats!
Chile Spiced Mango!!
And I just couldn't leave Chicago without going to Chicago Diner!! It's my favorite place ever!!

It was a rainy, snowy, cruddy weather night, so I got to go food and the girls and I all stayed in and watched New Moon. What a great night!!

I got the Radical Reuben with Sweet Potato Fries! This is the best sandwich ever made. Ever!

The reuben going....

Going....Gone.Room for dessert?? Heck yes!! Cookies and Cream Cake. For when you really want a food baby and sugar coma all at once. My favorite cake I've EVER eaten I think I can safely say! Thank you, Chicago Diner!!!
Man, I can't wait to get back to Chicago soon for some more great vegan food!!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fabulous Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies, and I know you do too!! What can make these simple, delicious, classic cookies even better?? Pecans!! I think these are absolutely perfect...I suspect you'll agree! Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies (makes 2 dozen)
2/3 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup natural sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)

Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (such as Ener-G brand or flax seeds)
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugars. Add in the egg replacer, brown rice syrup, and vanilla extract. Whip until fluffy. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans until well incorporated.
Divide dough into approx. 2 Tbs pieces. Roll into ball and slightly flatten with your palm to 2 inches for thicker, chewier cookies or 3 inches for thinner, crispier cookies.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown on the edges and slightly firm, being careful not to overcook, as they will firm and set fully as they cool.
Let cookies remain on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
Best served slightly warm!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day...

It's been pretty cloudy and rainy here in Missouri over the past week or so, but my days have been brightened up with little ray of sunshine: Citrus Bundt Cake! This is a tester recipe for the upcoming Vegan Bakesale cookbook (courtesy of Queen V from the Vegan Year blog!). Let me tell you, this cake is absolutely perfect!!! So much citrus to make any day feel sunny, but not overpoweringly so to where it tastes like lemon cleaner! And this is truly the moistest cake I've ever eaten. Ever. The bundt cake got drizzled with an Agave Citrus Glaze, another Vegan Bakesale test recipe...for even more of a sweet and tart punch.Since cake and ice cream are made for each other, I did my culinary duty and paired this lovely, citrus-y cake with some simple vanilla soy ice cream (I used So Delicious this time). And it was just awesome!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Super Awesome Brunch and Belated Excitement...

First the belated excitement part: 5 posts ago was my 200th post! I didn't even realize it! That's a whole lotta blogging and even more cooking...I'm pretty proud if I do say so myself :) Thanks for reading and salivating with me 200 times!! haha

Now for the brunch! The supper club this past Saturday was hopping, and not just because of the arrival of springtime weather...but mostly because of Vegan Monte Cristo Sandwiches!! You can find my recipe here! I added some of my Creole Mayo to the sandwiches, and served some organic blackberry jam on the side for spreading and dipping. It was perfect. Also different this time, I made homemade seitan "ham" and used Teese mozzarella cheeze! I had never used Teese before and it so totally melts you guys!! Delightful! Now if they only carried it around here so I didn't have to order it online. sigh.
Anyhoo, I made the sandwiches with locally-made Farm to Market bread, and served them with a side of Rosemary-Roasted Sweet Potatoes. So good!!Then there were the scones...Orange Thyme Scones, that is! I just love citrus in breakfast-y baked goods. I mean, it just makes sense!! I'll give you my recipe, because you seriously deserve to eat these for breakfast tomorrow. So good with Earth Balance and some jam....mmmmmm..... Orange Thyme Scones (makes 12 big scones)
5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup dried thyme leaves
1 Tbs sea salt
2 Tbs baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs baking soda
1 cup sugar (I used evaporated cane juice)

1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening

Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups soymilk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, flour through sugar. Cut in the margarine and shortening using a pastry cutter or sturdy fork, to get a crumbly texture.
Make a well in the center of the mixture.
Pour in the zest and juice, extracts, and soymilk into the well. Stir until just combined; be careful not to overmix the dough.
Turn out dough onto a floured surface and form into 2 separate circles. Cut each circle into 6 pieces. Set scones at least 1/2" apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until firmed and golden brown on top. Let sit for 10 minutes on the baking sheet to rest, and then transfer scones to a cooling rack. Serve topped with Orange Glaze (below).

Orange Glaze
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thick you like your glaze)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp orange extract (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange zest, juice, extracts, and powdered sugar until completely smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

***The pictures seen on this post were taken by my friend Michael Ryce. They're so good, right?!?! Thanks MJ!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Brunch-y Ode to Winter

I love brunch. And I love winter and wintertime treats. This brunch was a beautiful marriage of these loves of mine!! I served it a few weeks ago at my Saturday supper club, and the crowd was oh so pleased!

Pumpkin Bread French Toast with Candied Pecans and Cinnamon-Infused Maple Syrup.
Apple-Sage Seitan Sausages.And doughnuts!!! Served fresh and warm with some delicious coffee, and you are having a great day for sure!

Homemade Jelly Doughnuts filled with Blackberry Jam, topped with a Vanilla Glaze and Homemade Granola!!!!! Deep-fried, comfort food heaven.Ooey Gooey. I never thought I would ever have a jelly doughnut again after going vegan. I'm so glad I was wrong!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brownie vs. Blondie

Forget Edward vs. Jacob or Republicans vs. Democrats....the REAL debate is brownies vs. blondies!!! I have made both of these sweet treats in the past few days, and I honestly still can't decide. Which side are you on??

The blondies: Nutty Blondies. Tester recipe for Vegan Bakesale (upcoming cookbook from Carla of The Vegan Year blog!). These were awesome, and they make a pretty convincing for the side of the blondies!! Vanilla-y, butterscotch-y, and nutty...and a texture right in the middle of fudgy and cakey. I especially love the crunch in the middle of the soft, gooey part! The brownies: Chocolate Brownies from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I have never made this recipe before, though I've loooooved everything else from this book, and I can't believe I waited! This was one of my favorite vegan brownies ever. Honestly. Very fudgy, which I loved, and a nice crispy crust formed on top, a perfect medium for powdered sugar. And they have applesauce in them instead of oil! Wow!! Another strong case, indeed.
Well, since I can't decide which one I like better, I think I'll just take both! Here's to really good blondies and brownies!