Monday, December 31, 2007

move over liz. mike is the real cook.

This is mike. All this talk about Liz cooks this and Liz cooks that. Let it be known that I am no slouch in the kitchen either. Yes, everything I make might be from discarded items in the fridge or half spoiled vegetables I got free from work, but know that I cook a lot of the food in this house. When you are in the mood for an ultra fancy dish that takes two hours to make and is of exceptional quality you know that Liz will make it. When you need a fast, nutritious meal that feeds a family of four in 45 minutes and is pretty good- come to me.

Case in point: tonight's dish-

Potatos cut like French fries, baked in olive oil for 25 minutes with salt at 475 degrees. Add sliced roma tomatoes and quartered zucchinis. Sprinkle garlic powder, nutritional yeast, paprika, and dill liberally on top and bake for 15 more minutes. For a final touch you might add vegan Monterey jack cheese and bake for 5 more minutes (or till cheese melts). Better yet, use a broiler (I didn't think of that).

Ok, to come clean, Liz's black beans on the side were a really awesome addition, but this dish could still hold its own. Ask Liz for the 15 minute black bean recipe in the pressure cooker.

Thank you all for putting up with me hijacking Lizzy's blog to tell you about the more white trash fare that passes for dinner in our house.

Me like cookies.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mrs. Winters' Iced Tea Cupcakes

The whole time I was growing up, Mrs. Winters was my next-door neighbor. Everytime I knocked on her door she would invite me in, give me an Andes Candy mint, and let me sit on her couch for a chat. If my mom was with me, she would make sweet iced tea with lemon and mint from her yard. Now, iced tea with lemon and mint might not seem that special, but I had never had fresh mint until I tried Mrs. Winters' iced tea. I thought it was the most wonderful and sophisticated thing to be able to grow mint in your own backyard. (Of course, nowadays I wish that I could pare down the mint plant that has taken over my herb garden.)

The combination of black tea, lemon, and mint is still one that reminds me of summer in Texas, riding my bike all day, doing circles in Mrs. Winters' driveway. This cupcake is for Mrs. Winters.

Mrs. Winters' Iced Tea Cupcakes
*Gluten-free and vegan
makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup +2 Tbsp nondairy milk
3 Tbsp. loose black tea (you can break open a teabag)
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

Lemon-Mint Frosting
2 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, room temperature
1/2 cup nondairy cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
Zest from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcakes liners. In a small saucepan, combine milk and tea. Bring to a simmer, then turn off heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain out tea leaves, squeezing all remaining milk out. Combine milk/tea, oil, sugar, yogurt, and extracts together. In a separate bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients. Then add wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

In an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and cream cheese. Add the sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until a creamy frosting forms. Add extracts and zest and mix to combine. Spread over cupcakes once they have cooled completely. Garnish with fresh mint and lemon wedges and serve with iced tea. Think about your neighbor when you eat it.

***To make this cupcake with wheat flour, use 1 3/4 cup wheat flour instead of the tapioca flour, rice flour, and xanthan gum. I think that'll work- I'll test it soon.

This cupcake is being entered in the Cupcake Hero contest.

Why I love my job

It's days like yesterday that make me love my job. I'm planning a chocolate-themed class at the co-op for February and wanted to partner with a local chocolatier for the event. Right away I thought of Legacy Chocolates. I'm a huge fan of their Mayan sipping chocolate (how could you not love something called sipping chocolate?) and they have a shop very close to the co-op. My pal Darci also wanted to feature them in our newsletter, so off we went for a tour and visit with the shop manager.

I was a little bummed out and cranky that morning, but you'd never know it by the time we left. We were grinning like two little girls in a candy shop as we huddled in the kitchen, tasting 68 and 85% cocoa treats spiked with ingredients like chipotle peppers, pistachios, and champagne. And I think our enthusiasm for the chocolate earned us extra stories from the shop manager- about the history of chocolate, how to properly taste a truffle, and working with local creameries. Plus, he filled a hefty box with samples for our co-workers!

While I couldn't taste the truffles because they had dairy, there were plenty of chocolate medallions to satisfy my chocolate cravings. It was by far the smoothest and least bitter dark chocolate I've ever had (and believe me, I've had a lot).

I love the fact that it's my job to learn about and teach others about high quality natural foods. Especially chocolate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What to do with $30 salt

While I was home in Texas for Christmas, Brandon and I went to Central Market to pick up a few things. After perusing the specialty salts (which ranged pretty widely in price), I noticed a smoked sea salt from Italy that contained edible silver. It sounded interesting and I thought the price tag said $7.99...So I bought it. Now that I'm back in Minnesota, I looked over my receipt. That 3.5 oz. bottle of salt cost me $29.99! Since I'm not mailing it back to Texas, I'm going to make the most of this pricey treat. Here's how I used it tonight:

Balsamic Glazed Acorn Squash with Herbed Wild Rice Stuffing

1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup total chopped onion, carrot, and celery
1 cup wild rice
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. minced fresh marjarom
1/4 cup chopped pecans
fancy salt of your choice
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Arrange each half of the acorn squash, cut side up, in the baking dish. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and agave nectar over each half and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add chopped onion, carrot, and celery and saute until beginning to turn translucent. Add wild rice and stir to incorporate oil and vegetables with rice for about 1 minute. Add 2 cups water and 1 tsp. salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes. While rice is cooking, toast pecans in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned. To assemble, mix toasted pecans and marjoram with the wild rice. Spoon into the middle of each squash half. (You will have about a cup of filling left over- eat it for lunch tomorrow!). Top the dish with really expensive smoked sea salt and more freshly ground black pepper.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I know that this is technically a food blog...and I don't eat kittens. But you have to see our newest member of the family!

Her name is Trouble and so far she's living up to her name.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food From Texas

On Wednesday evening I surprised my parents and brother with their Christmas present: Me! I figured that they would like to have us all together more than any other thing I could buy. Plus, I missed them.

Here are some of the more interesting things that we've eaten (Besides, of course, my visit to The Spiral Diner in Fort Worth. Pictures of that will come later).

I made my Butterbean and Rutabaga Soup for my mom and put together a salad that included roasted red peppers, pickled carrots, and apples.

At Central Market I found VEGAN EGG ROLLS. That's right. Not spring rolls that are fried. Real live egg rolls, minus the eggs. They were so unbelievably good! The company that makes them is based in Houston, but they have a website.

I've also eaten chips and salsa at least once every day for the last 3 days.

Monday, December 17, 2007


In case you were wondering- it is possible to bake so many cookies in a day that you feel sick just from smelling the Earth Balance saturated fumes wafting from the oven. I baked about 144 cookies yesterday.

Here's what I made:
Dreena Burton's "You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate" cookies
Isa Chandra's Sparkley Ginger Cookies
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Mexican Wedding Cookies
My Cranberry Pistachio Lime Shortbread cookies

I'm adding these Cranberry cookies to Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies contest because these are my favorite holiday cookies and everyone should make some this week.
Just don't bake so many that you feel sick, okay?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Food Jealousy?

Is it wrong that I'm feeling protective and jealous of a food idea? A year and a half ago I posted my first food porn about mini cup-pies. And now someone else has created a beautiful website and contest on just that subject and it rocks.

I know that I can't be the first person to miniaturize a pie in a cupcake pan. And I won't be the last. But I can't help but feel like, "Hey, that was my idea!".

Silly, I know! The beautiful thing about cup-pies is that they are easy and less intimidating than big pie crusts and EVERYONE should make them!

So to channel my weird idea-hogging feelings into something positive, I think I might enter the contest! Here are my past cup-pie endeavors. I might just use one of these ideas...or maybe come up with a new pie altogether.

My first Cup-pie

Mini Tempeh Potpies

Pizza Cup-pies

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wehani Sushi

A Poem about my Dinner

Decided to make sushi tonight
Forgot the short grain rice
Wehani will work, right?
Behold, it turned out nice

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Breakfast for Dinner and Gluten-Free Cookies

This morning Mike and I went to hear the boys read the stories they wrote at their "author's party" at school. Afterwards, we REALLY wanted to go out to breakfast (like to the Seward Cafe)...but instead we were responsible and I went to work. So I promised myself that I'd make a kick ass breakfast for dinner tonight.

I shredded some potatoes and onions for hash browns and scrambled some tofu with onions, peppers, and spinach (plus the obligatory turmeric, garlic, salt, mustard, and pepper). I wanted some sort of sauce to go on top so I whisked together some flax oil, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, dijon mustard, and soymilk. It was so rich and creamy- almost as good as hollandaise sauce.
I couldn't resist making pancakes, too. These are basic pancakes with tons of cinnamon and maple syrup.

Since I felt guilty for serving Mike frozen gluten-free waffles with dinner (while he watched us eat homemade pancakes), I had to make some gluten free cookies tonight.
These are a de-glutened version of the Vcon Chewy Chocolate Raspberry cookies.
(These don't have raspberry, so they are pretty different. I just didn't want to use up my homemade jam on cookies!)
Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Cookies
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rice flour
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 Tbsp. tapioca flour/powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt.

Preheat to 350 F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix together the dry stuff. Mix together the wet stuff. Mix the dry and wet stuff, using your hands if it's too thick. Roll a walnut sized ball of dough in your hands and then smash it. Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with more sugar if you're feeling fancy. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely. If they feel a little gritty, place them in a sealed container overnight. They'll be even more awesome the next day!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Crunchiest Tofu Ever!

Tonight was the first night that I was a bit frustrated by not being able to use wheat. Mike's been feeling much better since quitting all things wheaty- and nearly all gluten. It hasn't really involved too many changes for us, but tonight I really wanted to make a pot pie or seitan and dumplings. I haven't mastered a non-wheat pie crust suitable for pot pie yet and seitan is definitely out, so I was sad. But then I thought- I'll make the creamed kale that I've been craving and mashed potatoes with it! That made me happy again.

I've never had creamed kale before...yet I was craving it. Curious.
One of my favorite things ever is my mom's spinach casserole, which is essentially cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, every kind of cheese you can imagine, a few eggs, and spinach cooked in a crockpot until it's melty and cheesy and amazing. This creamed kale doesn't hold a candle to mom's spinach, but it was still really good (and probably a good deal healthier for me).

I sauteed onions until golden brown and added tons of kale (ours is frozen from the garden, but fresh would be great).

For the creamy part I mixed up (approximately):

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup original soy yogurt
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

and added it to the kale. I let it simmer until it thickened up and adjusted salt and pepper to taste.
To go with the potatoes and kale I baked some breaded tofu for a super crispy treat. I remembered Kittee's Crispy Crunchy Stuffed Tofu, and thought I'd give rice crispy breading a try. So I marinated tofu strips in nutritional yeast, poultry seasoning, salt, and garlic powder while I went to work out. When I got home I dipped them in a mixture of almond milk and soy yogurt and then covered them in Brown Rice Crisp cereal (smashed to smithereens), nutritional yeast, poultry seasoning, and salt. I baked them at 400 F for about 30-40 minutes.
They were so unbelievably crunchy!!!

Mike said it might be the best tofu he has ever had.

I chose to eat mine dipped in barbecue especially delicious one that was free from the co-op because someone else didn't like it. I've been enjoying it for weeks. Tonight, though, I read the ingredients. It has ANCHOVIES! Yuck!

Normally I don't eat anything without reading the ingredients, but I thought Mike had checked them and he thought I had checked them... So that was too bad, because that sauce ROCKED! It pained me to throw it out because barbecue sauce is one of true loves.
It's like:
1. Mike
2. Barbecue Sauce
3. Kitties, bunnies, baby piglets

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Well, my class went over very well- Everyone showed up, ate lots of goodies, asked interesting questions, and gave me great feedback. And all my co-workers really enjoyed cleaning up the leftover cake and cookies! I didn't anticipate the class being such hard work, though. Hauling my pans, mixer, and ingredients around, washing tons of dishes, and cleaning up the massive amount of frosting I managed to get on the floor took quite a while. Now I understand why Gabriele really wanted an assistant for her class Thursday night. Luckily, my best work friend Darci was there to whisk my ganache to and from the freezer down the hall when it wouldn't cool fast enough.

When I got home, I was so exhausted! But I wanted to eat something super healthy since I sampled a good deal of frosting and cake today. I was inspired by Vegan Dad's Holiday Stew that had chestnuts in it and decided to make a really easy soup with chestnuts. Of course this super easy soup ended up taking kind of a long time (as most of my meals do). Here's what I mixed up:

1 carrot, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
1 small turnip, diced
1 cup of squash, diced
About 10 roasted, peeled chestnuts
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. thyme
2 bouillon cubes (Rapunzel's with salt and herbs)
6 cups water
4 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

I simmered everything together, except the spinach. I threw that in after the soup had simmered about 30 minutes and let it wilt.

Yum! This soup was really tasty and light and warming.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more cakes

Tomorrow I teach my very first vegan baking class! I'm doing an Eggnog Cake with ganache filling, Cranberry Lime Pistachio Cookies, and Citrus Cream Cheeze Cupcakes. So tonight I was prepping the samples for the class (since the classroom doesn't have an oven, I have to bake everything in advance that I want people to actually taste) and getting nervous.
I really shouldn't be nervous. These are recipes that I tested several times over the past couple of years...I think I'm more nervous about not remembering to bring some important kitchen utensil that my co-op won't have. (I can't even think of an example item, that's how irrational that fear is).
Anyways, I also baked a cake for some folks I know who have a little boy who is allergic to peanuts, dairy, and eggs. So after baking for the class, I sanitized everything and started over. I always get nervous when baking for people with really serious allergies- even when I know I have taken good precautions. The cake is kinda cute, I think.It's chocolate cake with ganache filling and the fudgey chocolate frosting from VCTOTW.
He said he wanted chocolate cake...this should be enough chocolate!

For dinner we had pasta with easy tomato sauce and my favorite tofu. It's got lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, and Italian herbs and is baked at about 450 F for 20 minutes. It puffs up and gets browned and is like a little crunchy Parmesan thing. I've been known to eat an entire pound of tofu myself in one sitting it I make this when no one else is home. Luckily, tonight I got to share it with the whole family. But we ran out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Food Laziness

Yesterday I did the ultimate lazy dinner. I paid Pizza Luce to make spaghetti and deliver it to my doorstep. I know... Spaghetti is so easy! Why not just cook it myself?!
Because I was too tired and didn't want to have to DO anything. And because Pizza Luce's Spaghetti with "Veggie Balls" is so insanely good. (The name veggie balls, though, is so awkward that I can barely bring myself to say it when I order).
See how good it looks?!!! The garlic bread is so good, too!

Tonight I had the pleasure of assisting Gabriele Kushi in a cooking class called "Pumpkin to Squash". It was fun! We made buttercup squash soup, stuffed buttercup squash (with quinoa, raisin, and almond stuffing), and Pumpkin Pie. Everything was macrobiotic, vegan, and gluten free. YUM! Everyone seemed to enjoy the class and had tons of good questions.

Now, though, I'm pooped out again! It's late and somehow I'm hungry again, despite all the good food in the class. Time to whip up something quick and easy again. But I'll make it myself tonight!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Recipe Organizing!

I'm finally doing it.
I'm organizing my recipes.
I'm been meaning to do this for ages. The spiral notebooks are bulging, the scraps of paper are faded and ripped. The computer files are scattered on DVDs, USB drives, and in free recipe software programs lost when my hard drive crashed.
I was scoping out prices on MasterCook when I remembered that my new versions of MS office came with something called Microsoft OneNote. I figured- What the heck? Maybe I'll take a look and see what that program does.


This program allows me to easily type in my recipe, organize it into a certain book and within that into a certain section. I can move the text around really easily, post pictures, web pages, blog it, anything! And I can search for text anywhere within the book or section I want. Even text within pictures. It is beautiful. So far I've made it through the scraps of paper and started one notebook. It's so much fun to go through all my food porn pictures and match them up to the recipes!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chocolate Turtle Cake and Pad Thai

Today we had a pretty decent snowstorm. It was supposed to be about 12 inches, but I think it was only 1/2 that. Still, it was a good day to stay indoors and bake a cake.

Tomorrow is Yoga Day, a biannual event sponsored by the Iyengar Yoga Association of MN. The December Yoga Day is to celebrate Mr. Iyengar's birthday and show member appreciation. Since I started serving on the IYAMN Board, I've been baking cakes for this event. I think I'm the only one who cares if the cake is vegan, but everyone seems to like them so I've kept doing it. And I think it's really an honor to be asked to make Guruji's birthday cake...So I tend to go all out decadent.

This time: Chocolate Turtle Cake

This recipe uses Colleen Patrick-Goudrou's version (The Joy of Vegan Baking) of Jennifer Raymond's (The Peaceful Palate) Chocolate Cake, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Thick Chocolate Fudgey Frostin' (VCTOTW) and a Vegan Caramel recipe that was posted on

Here's the finished cake. I'll get an inside shot tomorrow.

I do think that next time I'll use ganache or a more dark chocolate frosting. I forgot what this one was like and while it is a favorite for cupcakes, I think this cake needs something more dense and dark.

The caramel turned out really nice, and was a learning experience. I know logically that hot caramel will burn me. But when I accidentally get some on my finger and it is burning hot, I LICK my finger to stop the burning and remove the caramel. HOT! So needless to say, I have sensitive fingers and tongue right now and my teeth are rotting out of my skull.

I had a lot of leftover caramel and decided to make little turtle candies...but caramel sticks to waxed paper. Maybe other people know this, but I didn't. I had to scrape the caramel off in order to dip them in chocolate. Very time consuming. And I used salted pecans, which are AWESOME in the caramel, but when I licked my burning fingers it only reinforced the stupid behavior because my fingers were salty and caramely. So delicious. So painful.

I also ate real food today. We had Brooklyn Pad Thai from Vegan with a Vengeance. (Minus the sprouts and plus carrots)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Party Food

I used to host parties and game nights all the time...but haven't done anything of the sort in months. Really, parties are just a great excuse to bake a lot of food.

I'm having a few friends over tomorrow night and decided to try my hand at making fun gluten-free party foods. First up, Gluten Free Citrus cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (Based on the Gluten Freedom cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)Next is a Mufaletta Mini Cheesecake with a Pecan Crust

I must say, for a totally free-form recipe made up on the spur of the moment, this is pretty frickin' good. I have to tweak it a bit, but then I'll post a recipe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My latest love

Barbecue popcorn, where have you been all my life?

Popped corn
barbecue sauce and flax oil
salt and nutritional yeast

What else could you ask for?
(Oh, a milkshake? I had that, too)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Today's Menu

Nothing too exciting today, so I'll share what I ate:

Thanksgiving sandwich (Sesame Oatmeal bread, "turkey" roulade, cranberry sauce, and Veganaise
A really ugly gluten free chocolate chip cookie. More on that another day.

Mesquite Lime Primal Strip
Lemon drop candy (to ease the primal strip breath)

ED&BV Caesar Salad
Carrots from the garden
(I got distracted and forgot to heat up the soup I brought.)
Basmati Rice
Cabbage, kale, carrots, scallion, celery, and baked tofu
Almond butter, coconut milk, tamari, ginger and rice vinegar sauce
Apple cider mixed with water (yum! I love watered down juice)

Bedtime Snack/Second dinner:
Satsuma mandarin
Honeycrisp apple
Slices of Sheese

Then later a for real bed time snack:
1 piece of Sesame Oatmeal toast with Garlic Red Pepper Miso
1 piece of Sesame Oatmeal toast with almond butter
Glass of almond and rice milk

Perhaps I should start writing down what I eat to make sure I'm getting all the vitamins I need. It's cool how just writing down what you eat will make you eat healthier. Some days I feel like all I eat is grains, protein and veggies. I'm trying to eat at least 2 pieces of fruit after dinner, though. That keeps me from eating lots of cookies and all that leftover pie in the fridge. And I've been doing much better with remembering to use flax oil and take my evening primrose oil. It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm consistently using these oils.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Raw and Cooked

For dinner tonight I had a wonderful raw caesar salad (using Eat Drink and Be Vegan's Living Caesar dressing) and a slow simmered (very not raw) Rutabega and Butterbean Bisque. First I ate the salad, then I ate the soup, then I ate some more salad. I love the texture of the dressing and the zing of the lemon juice. If only I had some good bread for croutons! This time I added a turnip to the soup and it was really nice. The turnip was so strong that it tastes like I added horseradish to the soup (But I LOVE horseradish, so I thought it was great).

I haven't tried the VCon Caesar dressing yet, but I am so excited to have 2 types of Caesar dressing to try!

Yesterday Mike decided to try a wheat free diet for a while, to see if he feels better on it. I think he should try a gluten-free diet, but wheat free is a good start. I love a challenge! I'm kinda bummed that I won't be making seitan roasts, but excited to try baking without wheat again. So if anyone has any favorite cookie, cake, etc. recipes that are wheat and spelt-free, please let me know! I'm on the lookout...

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Here's the finished products:Seitan/Tofu Turkey Roulade with "Stuffin' Muffins", Whipped Roasted Garlic Potatoes, and Homestyle Potato Rolls (aka the best rolls ever)
Maple Dijon Glazed Greenie Beanies, Southwestern Corn Pudding, and Jalapeño Cranberry Chutney
My (first) plate of food.

I was really happy with how everything turned out. I don't have a picture, but Mike's mom made an awesome Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie with soy whipped cream. It was rich and creamy- perfect. The dog thought so, too, apparently. She jumped up and shoved her whole snout in the pie.

This morning we ate Thanksgiving sandwiches on those potato rolls. Wow- The kids ate about 3 rolls each last night (in addition to everything else except the corn and cranberries because they were a bit spicy) and then at 2 more this morning (each). Good thing that recipe makes a lot of rolls!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The beginning of my late Thanksgiving

This year I got to have an early Thanksgiving with my family in Virginia and now I'm preparing for my late Thanksgiving with my family in Minnesota. Tomorrow I'm having the parents in law (except not really in law, because there's nothing legal binding me and my sweetie. Just love...awwww!), the kids, and a friend over for the big meal. And I get an extra day to cook since it's late!

It was a little weird today being alone on a day that nearly everyone spends with family. But I snuggled with the animals and read a book, then went to yoga (a full class, despite the holiday), and started cooking. Now my sweetie is home, but exhausted, so I'm kinda alone again.

Here's the carb-tastic menu I'm planning:

Bryanna's Tofu/Seitan "Turkey" Roulade
Pecan & Sage Stuffing (made with spelt bread because it was 1/2 off!)
VCon's Southwestern Corn Pudding
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
VCon's Homestyle Potato Rolls
Kale Gratin
Green Beans
Cranberry-Jalapeño Chutney
And some kind of gravy, depending on what flavors seem good tomorrow.

Perhaps it's too much food for 7 people? I'm sure it is, but I love Thanksgiving leftovers SO MUCH!

Here's the Roulade about to go into the oven: And here's the stuffing smashed into muffin tins, a la Rachel Ray.

I'll follow up tomorrow with the full meal's pictures, after baking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Last night Mike brought home one of the most delightful desserts ever (for a prepackaged treat) {And yes, it is my food snobbiness that made me put in that disclaimer, because fresh is always superior}: an Almond Kringle with Rice Divine vanilla ice cream. I can't remember the brand on the kringle, so I'll have to edit that in later. We warmed up the kringle so that the ice cream melted on it a bit...Yum!Tonight I baked a couple of pies to bring in to work. Tomorrow is our busiest day of the year, so we always have lots of good food in the back to relieve the stress. My co-worker usually makes all the pies, but he uses lard and wanted to have something available for veg folks. So I offered to help.

So this is a Michigan Peach and Minnesota Mulberry pie- The little ones in front are made from the scraps of dough because the kids looked SO sad when I told them the pies weren't for them. They'll have a surprise in their lunch tomorrow!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Survey Says...

I know that this doesn't count as another VeganMoFo post, but I have to say that I'm SO HAPPY that so many people filled out the VeganMoFo Survey that I posted earlier this month. I love reading all the different answers and getting to know everyone!

Food from my trip

My Aunt Clare did a great job of cooking vegan for me and picking up some great treats from Ellwood Thompson's when I was in Richmond.

I'm not usually that impressed with non-co-op natural foods stores. That could be because I'm inherently biased against them (I work at a natural foods co-op and would always rather shop at one), but I really think that the really big natural stores feel so corporate and slick and all about the money. But Ellwood Thompson's did a great job of balancing looking really well put-together with feeling neighborly and comfortable (this is probably because they are a locally owned, single store operation, not a huge behemoth of a natural foods store). They also had really admirable product policies and an amazing deli. Their tofu/seitan "Chicken" nuggets were so realistic it as almost scary. I didn't get a chance to try their "chicken" salad, but it was made with these, so I assume it's stellar.

My dad even passed up barbecued pork to eat curried tofu and samosas at the deli! Amazing!

Here's what I ate:

I had to try the thick slab of vegan mac 'n cheese. How could I not? Although I had to heat it in a microwave and add a dash of salt, I thought it was a damn good mac 'n cheese. The texture was awesome- very creamy and not dried out at all despite being baked.

I also had a great salad with organic spinach, vegan croutons, shredded beets, shredded carrots, and Ranch dressing! I LOVE that the croutons were labeled as vegan so I didn't have to guess. For dessert I had the Pumpkin Cake with Nutmeg Frosting. Holy cow. It was rich and a serious sugar rush. I had to save 1/2 for later (good thing, too, since I had a surprise 3 hour layover in Chicago. It cheered me up).

And here's the latest pic of my Granny Sue and me. I only get to see her every few years, so it's always really special to get to visit with her.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Traveling While Vegan

Tomorrow morning I leave for Richmond, Virginia to visit with my Dad's side of the family (grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, dad + Ann, brother + Rachel). I'm really excited to see them all because I rarely get to visit with this side of the extended family. But it always makes me nervous to travel.
I've stuffed my suitcase with instant hummus, clif bars, dried fruit and nuts, and satsuma oranges. I've mapped out several natural foods stores and a few veg-friendly restaurants in the city. My aunt even emailed me to get the specifics of what I can and can't eat.

I'm definitely nervous about being able to find plenty of quality foods to eat...but I'm more nervous about being an inconvenience to my family's gathering and making being vegan look like a hassle. Honestly, when I'm home I don't even think about being vegan that much. I'm surrounded by people who work at a co-op, so although I'm one of the few (only?) vegans who works there- It's pretty well accepted. I don't have to defend my diet at all!

But when I travel, I'm outside of my little co-op bubble. All of my experiences outside of the Twin Cities are very un-veg friendly. Perhaps because when I travel it's usually to Texas???? Anyways, I'm sure everything will be fine.

Jeez- reading this post you'd think I just turned veg last year! But my vegetarian anniversary is this week (15 years!) and I've been vegan for about 5 now. I love that my veg-anniversary is the week before Thanksgiving!

I'll be out of town for the next few days and I'm not sure if I'll have internet access. So...I swear I'll post extra when I get home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spicy, Sour, and Salty

I called in sick to work today and stayed home watching TV, napping, and eating all the foods I was craving.

I took the kids to school and then stopped by the co-op to get some sicky supplies. Of course, I work at the co-op so that does make it a bit awkward to call in sick and then show up to work to shop (and of course my manager walked in just after me). But the way I see it: Some people go to the doctor...and some people go to the grocery store. I needed the foods my body was craving!

Here's what I wanted (and ate):

Seitan Noodle soup with a lemony-nutritional yeasty broth and mushrooms
Throat Coat tea
Rocky Road ice cream (by Soy Delicious So Decadent)
More Seitan Noodle Soup
General Tao's Tofu with cabbage and carrots
A satsuma mandarin
Popcorn with lime and salt

I thought that the General Tao's tofu would be perfect, especially with tons of extra garlic, ginger, and cayenne. But, honestly, it wasn't that great. The tofu was fried nice and crisp, but got soggy as soon as the sauce went on. And I ended up having to add extra soy sauce and hot sauce. Maybe this is just because I'm sick and can't taste things as well as usual, but I don't think it lives up to the hype. I'll probably try it again another time, with modifications.

As for the popcorn, it had some serious flavor. I love popcorn. I mean REALLY love popcorn.
Like, I eat it every single night LOVE POPCORN.
I feel good about eating popcorn all the time, though, because I count on it for my omega-3 fatty acids. I always drizzle flax oil on the popped corn before adding salt, spices, herbs, etc. The flax oil helps the toppings stick and gives it a great buttery flavor (and great nutrition).

Tonight I mixed equal parts of flax oil and lime juice. I drizzled it over the popcorn and then sprinkled it with salt. YUM! It reminds me of the salty-limeyness of Chipotle's chips, only I didn't feel disgustingly sick to my stomach afterwards.

My other favorite popcorn toppings are (always with flax oil):

Nutritional yeast, salt, and coarse ground black pepper
Lime juice, cayenne, salt, and ginger powder (cook the popcorn in coconut oil for a Thai treat)
Garlic salt and red pepper flakes
Onion powder, garlic powder, dill, parsley, and salt (Ranch!)
Simply Organic Hot & Spicy salt
Chili powder, nutritional yeast, salt (Think chili cheese Fritos)
Onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, nutritional yeast (Hot Cheetos!)
Onion powder, salt, and dill (Reminds me of sour cream and onion flavor chips)

What are your favorite toppings?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Leftover Enchiladas

Well, the kids seem to be over their illness...But now I have it!
Luckily I didn't post about my dinner last night yet, so here it is:
This is certainly not much to look at, but it was really tasty. I wasn't going to take a picture, but after Mike tasted it he said, "This is the best meal ever and you're not even going to take a picture?!" So I figured I should document it.

I shredded my easy seitan "chicken" from last night and mixed it with onions, green pepper, kale, and a nooch cheeze sauce that was leftover. I rolled that inside of expired corn tortillas, topped with a quick tomatillo salsa, and baked it for really easy leftover enchiladas.

I'm trying to do a better job of using up leftovers and taking the free produce from work. I spent over $500 on groceries last month, and that's not counting the food that Mike bought. It's time to reel in the spending! It's hard, though, when I work at a grocery store (co-op). Everytime I leave work I'm tempted to check out the sales or get a quick snack or go on a huge grocery shopping spree. And we eat like fiends, so at any given time I have about 5 things that we absolutely NEED. Like today when I woke up to find we were out of toilet paper and bread...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Seitan & Dumplings

The kids are home sick from school today, and that fits in perfectly with my plan to make seitan and dumplings for dinner. I swear I didn't get them sick on purpose, though! It just so happens that I was craving this awesome meal that reminds me so much of my Meemaw.

I remember the first time I watched Meemaw make these (of course, she was using real chicken and real butter/eggs...) I was so surprised that you could MAKE chicken & dumplings. I had only had the kind from a can, which I thought was so delicious. But that didn't even compare to her homemade dumplings and rich broth!

Last year I called her to get the recipe and it's been a favorite in our house since then.

For seitan, I use my super simple lazy seitan chicken recipe:

Dry Mixture:
1 1/2 cups wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp "chicken" broth powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Mixture:
1 cup water
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry and the wet. Then grab a chunk and squash it until it's kinda flat. Put it on an oiled or parchment papered baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Flip over and bake another 15-20 minutes.

And the dumplings:

Mix 1/2 cup of Earth Balance, softened, with 2-3 cups of flour until pea-sized bits form. (Like making pie dough or biscuits). Then stir in 1 tsp salt, 2 egg replacer eggs, and enough water to form a dough. I've never measured this, but just add a little at a time until the dough will hold together. You can also add roasted garlic, herbs, or black pepper to the dumplings and it's awesome!

Just roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to slice it up into big fat noodles/dumplings. Let the dough rest for about an hour. (I've cheated and only waited 1/2 hour and it didn't ruin anything. But Meemaw says you should wait an hour, so you probably should.)
Bring about 8 cups of water (I didn't measure, but it was a really big pot of water) with veg. bouillon cubes or broth to boil. Throw in some garlic, diced carrots or celery if you'd like. Then add about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, and tons of salt and pepper to taste. This should make a really rich, "chickeny" broth.

Then drop in the seitan (chopped into big cubes) and the dumplings a couple at a time so they don't stick together. Boil for about 10 minutes.
If it needs more seasoning, adjust salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc. to taste. It comes out different every time!

This is basically the only soup that the boys will eat!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh and Italian Shepard's Pie

One of my favorite things in the world is South River Miso Company's Garlic Red Pepper Miso. I was so sad when I couldn't find it on their website a while ago, so when I saw it at the Wedge yesterday I knew I had to get some. It was just in time, too, because I emptied my previous jar this morning when I had toast with Earth Balance and miso. I let Hannah clean out the jar because she's really good at "rinsing" the recyclables. But look how angry she looked when she thought I might take the jar away!

She might love miso as much as she loves peanut butter, broccoli, jalapeños, apples, and cabbage.

For dinner tonight I had to use up the leftover pizza toppings from the other night. I've had these little baby green bell peppers in the fridge for a couple of weeks (because I had to clear out the garden before they were fully grown). So I mixed the onions, artichoke hearts, black olives, and pizza sauce with brown rice and stuffed the little babies. Then I topped them off with leftover cashew ricotta and baked them until the peppers were tender and the ricotta was lightly crispy. This picture really doesn't do them justice.
Because I had way more filling than green peppers, I also made individual ramekins of the pizza/rice stuffing with ricotta piped on top and baked. They reminded me of little shepard's pies, but Italian-style.
The tempeh on the side is the Vcon Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh. Wow! Those were really awesome! I didn't have any wine, so I used Jack Daniels instead. We don't drink, but I find that Jack comes in handy for some sauces and desserts. And I must say that the marinade was good enough to drink by the spoonful! (But I tried to restrain myself).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Butterbean-Root Bisque with Jalapeno-Cranberry Chutney and Crisy Fried Onions

I've been wanting to make this soup for a while and finally had a night where I was cooking for myself and could make it. For some reason, Mike and the kids don't like most soups, so I usually make them just for me (usually to bring for lunches).

This soup includes two ingredients that remind me of my mom: butterbeans and rutabagas. My mom will eat butterbeans heated up, just straight out of a can she loves them so much. We've even been known to eat straight up butterbeans for breakfast! I know that some people say lima beans and butterbeans are the same thing...but I think differently. However, because I can't find butterbeans without crazy preservatives added, I have used lima beans in this recipe. It really does taste just as good as I imagine butterbeans would.

And despite both my mom and I loving rutabagas just as much, we've always eaten them only at Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner. Our usual rutabaga recipe is one of the few family traditional dishes that is easily veganized by an omni family living in Texas shopping at a Wal-Mart. No tofu or nutritional yeast needed. Just rutabagas, salt, pepper, and maybe some margarine. Yum!

You really have to try this soup! Even if it doesn't remind you of my mom, I think you'll like it.

Butterbean-Root Bisque

1 cup dry butterbeans or lima beans
6 cups water
1.5 cups chopped rutabaga, peeled
1 cup chopped parsnip, peeled
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 no salt added vegan vegetable bouillon cube
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme

Simmer the beans in the water until they are tender, about 45 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes (everything should be really soft). Puree with your immersion blender until perfectly smooth. If too thin, simmer longer until it's thick enough for you.

*This soup looks plain, but has a rich, subtle flavor. You really should garnish it. Here's what I used and I would definitely make this one again:

Jalapeño-Cranberry Chutney
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 small pickled jalapeno, minced (pickled jalapeños are so good!!!)
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar

Simmer until cranberries are tender. Mash them up with a fork or use a little food processor if you want a syrup to drizzle on the soup. This is good beyond belief.

The Crispy Fried onions are premade ones I found at the co-op today. (Lars Own imported Crispy onions) I would never have considered them, except that I was so shocked they didn't have hydrogenated oils or any I bought them. I'm so glad I did, because they added a great dimension to this soup. The sweet/spicyness of the chutney with the crisp saltiness of the onions was a perfect compliment to the earthy, creamy soup.


Am I crazy for considering buying 25 pounds of nutritional yeast? Bob's Red Mill sent me a catalog and they have 25 pounds of nooch for $150.00 ($6.00 per pound!). It's 8.99 per pound at the co-op ($7.19 with my employee discount), but that variety doesn't have B12 added.

So I could save myself $29.80 and the risk of pernicious anemia on 25 pounds of nooch.

Maybe I'll ask for it for Christmas!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A VeganMoFo Survey

I love lists and surveys. Anyone who knows me knows that at any given point I have at least 4 lists going, for work, home, goals, recipes, etc. So here's a list of questions that I will answer and that you should answer, too. At the very least it could count as your VeganMoFo posting and it's way better than the "when's the last time you puked from boozing" quizzes on Myspace.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Rice Dream original enriched mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with Blue Diamond original Almond Breeze. Perfect! Not too thin and ricey, not too almondy.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Seitan and dumplings
Butterbean and rutabaga soup

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Flax oil, nutritional yeast, salt, and coarse ground black pepper. (But I'm a big fan of flax oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic salt, too.)

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I think it was a chai or eggnog cheesecake and I didn't puree the tofu long enough. It was chunky and runny and looked like vomit. Luckily it somehow tasted good enough for Mike and the kids to enjoy.

5. Favorite pickled item?
jalapeños or okra

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I don't. I write them on scraps of paper and shove them in notebooks to deal with someday. I want Mastercook, though. I think it will save me.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Compost unless the dog is really annoying. Then she eats all my scraps.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
kale, soybeans, brown rice. I'm hoping I'd somehow be able to make miso with some sea salt from the ocean, too.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Meemaw making cream of potato soup for me. Mom making guacamole on Sundays.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
So Delicious Peanut Butter Zigzag. No question.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Food processor

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Cumin or thyme.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Laurel's Kitchen.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Real homemade concord grape. or jalapeño!

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
vegan cupcakes or cookies will always win them over!

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Seitan! With tempeh as the next runner up.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Dinner/late afternoon

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
sourdough culture, kids toys that have been confiscated, and a big aluminum pan that's good for carrying cupcakes.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
kale, popsicles, spud puppies

20. What's on your grocery list?
oatscreme, wheat gluten, basmati rice, masa harina, butterbeans

21. Favorite grocery store?
The co-op! Miss Market, Seward, or Wedge

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Mom's Chess Squares. Pretty much every ingredient isn't vegan.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Vive le Vegan!

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Green and Black's mint chocolate or Sunspire's chocolate coconut thing that's like a mounds bar.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I didn't buy it, but I really want a gourmet salt sampler...but it's $114 on amazon. I just can't justify that.

Below is a blank list of the questions for you to copy and paste and answer on your blog. Post a comment so I know to read yours!

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

5. Favorite pickled item?

6. How do you organize your recipes?

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

20. What's on your grocery list?

21. Favorite grocery store?

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

26. Make up your own question to put here (and answer it).

Stuffed Crust Pizza!!!

There are just too many commercials on TV about stuffed crust pizza. I don't think I've ever had stuffed crust pizza with real cheese, but I imagine it being one of the most indulgently amazing things ever. I mean, there's already cheese on top! Why do you need it in the crust? You don't. But it's so damn good and over the top that you can't resist it.

So here's my version, which is probably less indulgent but still amazing.
First, I made a basic pizza dough with some garlic and Italian herb mix thrown in. Then I made up a batch of Cashew Ricotta (Veganomicon) that the family loved so much. I piped the ricotta all around the edge of the dough and folded the crust over, sealing with a dab of water. Then I pressed the edges together really well, reshaping the crust to be a bit bigger and working the dough so that the seal wouldn't break.

I topped it with tomato sauce, onions, black olives, artichoke hearts, veggie pepperoni, and a cheeze sauce similar to the New Farm Cookbook's recipe for cheeze sauce (only less Earth Balance and oil!) Here's what it looked like before baking:

And after baking, in bad lighting:
Here's an inside shot:
And another:
I think this was a really tasty pizza, but since the ricotta is a dry "cheeze", it didn't have that gooeyness that I associate with a stuffed crust pizza. I might consider mixing the ricotta with tomato sauce just to make it more gooey before stuffing. Or maybe grating in some Follow Your Heart Mozzarella?
Anyhow, the kids thought it was awesome and it's something I'll definitely keep working on.