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)