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Posts Tagged ‘vegan cooking’

Okay, I want to start by apologizing for totally neglecting my blog for the last week.  I have been craft obsessed this holiday season and totally immersed myself in creating all kinds of holiday fun.  But I am back in the blogging saddle and ready to update everyone on the happenings in my world.

First we’ll back track a bit to Thanksgiving.  My family and I traveled to Boise and had Thanksgiving with our relatives.  I spent several days before the trip preparing road snacks and gathering plenty of vegan friendly menu items for our holiday meal.  Pretty much everything that had been made by my relatives had butter in it so I improvised for my Thanksgiving meal.  I had a lovely lentil soup with mashed potatoes, pumpkin biscuits and cranberry sauce.  My family were even willing to try a few vegan items.  They loved the pumpkin biscuits and chocolate cupcakes (I neglected to tell them there was silken tofu in the cupcake recipe, tee hee).  Everyone accept my cousin Becky were a bit leery of the green smoothies though.

When I got home from Thanksgiving I fell headlong into preparations for a small craft fair that I was doing with some friends.  I made several teddy bears and sock monkeys and printed up some original art work on greeting cards.  The show went well and I sold a few items.  I also bought a few items so it all balanced out.  : )

Now I am in the home stretch for Christmas.  For me that means baking up a storm.  This year will be a bit different from the Christmases of years past.  While I have gone vegan most of my friends and family are not and quite a bit of my gift giving revolves around home-baked goodness.  So while I am not depriving them of homemade caramels from my grandmother’s recipe I am veganizing all of my cookie, zucchini bread and truffle recipes.    I am excited to experiment a bit with the caramel recipe and see if I can successfully veganize it.

That is all for now.  How are the holidays going for everyone else?

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I have always been more of a baker than a chef.  Certain things in cooking tend to elude me.  I know that I like my food to have a lot of flavor but I don’t always know that right way to achieve the flavors that I am looking for.  This has never proven more true than when I cook tofu.  So, with the help of several cook books and internet resources I am beginning my own personal Tofu Experiment. 

For the Tofu Experiment I will be making at least one meal a week using tofu in different ways.  Tofu tends to take on the flavors of whatever you season it with and can be prepared in a variety of ways.  I figure that this will encourage me to flex my culinary muscles a bit before they atrophy.  Hopefully the end result will be scrumptious and add a few new recipes to my repertoire.

For the first installment of the Tofu Experiment I took a simple tofu scramble and (in the words of Emeril) kicked it up a notch.  I love spicy food so I decided to do a South of the Border inspired tofu scramble.  It ended up being a big enough that I will be eating for lunch for the next couple of days.  But I don’t mind, it’s really tasty.

Salsa Verde Tofu Scramble

1/2 medium Onion  (diced)

3 cloves Garlic (minced)

1 Red or Green Bell Pepper (diced)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Chili Powder

2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1-1/2 cups Salsa Verde

12 oz. Extra Firm Tofu

2 cups Frozen or Canned Corn

1- 15 oz. can Black Beans

Before you get started cooking you are going to want to press the excess water out of your tofu.  My technique for this is really simple.  Place your tofu on a plate and cover it with another plate.  Place several heavy books on th top plate and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is ready add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes.  Continuing at medium heat, saute this mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.  Add the pressed tofu to the skillet and break it apart using your spatula.  Add the salsa verde and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add the black beans and corn and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the beans and corn have been thoroughly heated.  You can serve this on its own or roll it up in a tortilla with some guacamole.

The Verdict: This tofu experiment is a resounding YUM.  The first night I ate it all by itself with some era salsa and triscuits.  Yesterday I had it as a burrito for lunch and it was completely satisfying.

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I have definitely been keeping busy the last few days and I fully intend to fill everyone in on several tasty creations that I have come across.  Tonight however, I took a bit of a break from the usual to hang out with some friends for a potluck style dinner.

It was a wonderful night.  The conversation was plentiful and entertaining, the atmosphere cozy and welcoming, but the real magic happened when I had my first bite of the main dish.  It was a warm, creamy heaping fork full of Mac n’ Yeese. 

I found a bit of heavenly bliss in every mouthful of this cheese replacement dish that I have been dreaming of for the last 4 weeks. And while I am tempted to horde the recipe and keep it all to myself, it just wouldn’t be right not to share this divine bit of vegan food paradise.  So here it is, the recipe for Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese.

Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese

  • 1/2 Cup Margarine
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Pinch of Turmeric
  • 1 Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • about 1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Mustard

Making It

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add salt to taste, and add macaroni.
  2. Melt the margarine over low heat.  Beat in flour with a wire whisk.  Continue to beat over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  3. Whip in boiling water.  Add salt, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne, pepper flakes, soy sauce and mustard to the liquid.
  4. Let the sauce cook until it thickens and bubbles.  When that happens, beat in nutritional yeast.  If the sauce is too thick, add more water.
  5. When the macaroni is cooked, drain and add the sauce.  Serve immediately.

If you want to get the story behind this fabulous recipe and what inspired it check out Heidi’s blog at http://rootielicious.com.  You can also see some of her amazing jewelry there as well.

That is all for tonight but stay tuned.  In the next 2 days you will get to hear all about an amazing tofu scramble, fauxtess cupcakes and an adventure with pumpkin roasting.

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Apple season continues here in Washington state and the harvest is bountiful.  I spent the evening cooking up another big batch of applesauce to help get me through the winter.  I love how the smell of the apples cooking makes the whole house feel like fall.

Having all this applesauce around also means that I get to have one of my favorite breakfasts, Quick Apple Crumble.  It is the perfect pick me up on cold fall or winter mornings.  Just put some of you applesauce in a bowl and warm it up in the microwave then top it off with your favorite granola.  I like to use homemade maple coconut pecan granola. 

Quick Apple Crumble

The flavor is mildly sweet and infinitely satisfying.  It’s like getting to have dessert for breakfast!

Making that batch of applesauce means that I finally got to take pictures for An Apple A Day.  So if you want to see some more apple love, just take a gander at that post and enjoy the bounty of fall.

 

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I love Halloween and I love baking.  Do you what happens when those two loves become one?  Bloody Eyeball Cupcakes are created!

Halloween 2009 007

and Bloody Feet…..

Halloween 2009 011

And don’t forget the occasional Bloody Finger.

Halloween 2009 003

Oh yes, it looked like Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory in my kitchen this morning. 

As gross as these guys look they taste fantastic.  The cupcakes are made with the recipe from the chocolate cake recipe on Cake Maker to the Stars  recipe page.  The frosting is Vanilla Un-Buttercream and the “blood” is strawberry puree that has been sweetened with agave nectar and thickened with cornstarch.  I had a ton of fun making and decorating these spooktacular nibbles.

Vanilla Un-Buttercream Frosting

2 cups Powdered Sugar

1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening

1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. Water

All ingredients should be room temperature.  Blend together the buttery spread and shortening until completely combined.  Blend powdered sugar into the buttery spread/shortening mixture.  Once the powered sugar is completely incorporated, add in the vanilla.  Continue to blend the frosting together while slowly adding water 1/2 tablespoon at a time until it has reach the perfect fluffy consistency.

 

 

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In my quest to find new entrees, and off set my somewhat compulsive baking of sweets, I decided to try my hand at making falafel.  While I would love to say that I slaved over a hot stove preparing homemade falafel, such is not the case.  Instead I did the unthinkable.  I used….pre-made falafel mix.  *Gasp*  I know it’s a bit of a short cut but I had this vegan falafel mix in the pantry and it hadn’t expired yet, so I gave it a try. 

The falafel tasted really good.  It had good spice, good texture and really well the tsiziki that was made from scratch.  Granted, next time I make falafel I am going to try making it from scratch.  I have heard that homemade falafel beats the mixes hands down.  Isn’t that always the case though?

In non-food related food, I think I may have some pictures up on the blog by this weekend.  I am currently in the process of trying resurrect my camera from the dead.  With some luck and a new SD card I will be able to break up some of my long-winded posts with something pretty to look at.

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It has been 3-1/2 weeks since the beginning of my vegan journey, so instead of doing a post that revolves around a recipe I am going to do a bit of an update on my journey so far.   Hopefully this will be the first of many posts that widen the scope of my blog.  I would love to do more posts on the vegan lifestyle apart from food, so I will be trying to include at leat one non-food post per week.  Anywho…on to the update.

The last 3 weeks have gone by fairly quickly.  While it has been a relatively smooth transition for me to go vegan, there have been a few challenges.  For example, I am really missing cheese.  I have tried a recipe for “Cheese” Sauce and frankly it fell way short in the taste category.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste like cheese but it was almost sweet-tasting and I think the spices need to be switched up a bit. 

Aside from venture into faux cheese sauce I haven’t really tried any vegan cheese products.  The grocery stores in my area are rather poorly stocked when it comes to vegan cheeses.  Everything I have come across has had dairy proteins in it.  But I will forge ahead and continue the search for something to fill the cheesy void in my life.  I may even order some Daiya from Pangea Vegan Store.  I have heard some great things about it.

In all things not cheese I have done really well.  I am eating more meals at home and actually spending less money on groceries even though I am making more trips to the store for fresh ingredients.  My energy levels have been up and I am even sleeping better.  The one thing I would like to get better about is planning meals ahead of time.  I am kind of a fly by the seat of my pants girl and that doesn’t always work when you are in a hurry to find something to eat.

I have really been enjoying my experiments with vegan baking, and so have my friends and family as I love to share my creations with them.  But I have noticed that I really need to work on expanding my repertoire of entrees.  While I am a whiz at whipping up sweet treats and baked goods, my actual cooking skills need to be stretched a bit more.  I am seeking out some quick and easy recipes for casseroles, past dishes and stir fries.  Am especially interested in things that I can prepare ahead of time and them refrigerate or freeze for easy meals during the week.

All in all, I am very happy with this new leaf I have turned over.  I am looking forward to all of the new things I have learned, and I know that there is so much more out there for me to discover.   

 

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