Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 3. Urban Vegan - Red Beet Soup

I've had my eye on this recipe since I got this book and was waiting until the Cookbook Challenge to make it. Luckily I knew tonight was going to be a cold snowy night in New England so I got all the ingredients I needed last night so I could some straight home and make it. When I looked over the recipe again to get my grocery list together I decided I wanted to make it a more hearty filling soup so I made some huge changes.

The original recipe calls for just beets, the beet water, broth, onions, vinegar, vegan sour cream, salt and pepper. I decided to add potatoes, some extra vinegar, and cabbage. I left the seasoning with just the salt and pepper because I wanted the soup to really focus on the flavors of the root veggies and the cabbage.You can use canned beets, which are great and easy but they don't compare to fresh beets. Canned beets come ready to eat and have a much brighter color as well as sweetness. Fresh beets take MUCH longer to cook but in my opinion are much more worth it because the color is much deeper as well as is the flavor. They still have the sweetness but the earthiness really comes through, which is what I love about fresh root vegetables.

Warning: Chopping fresh beets will make you look like you murdered someone

I am more than pleased with how the soup came out. Paired with some of my crusty Fuckin Awesome Garlic Bread it was the perfect soup to warm me up while being filling enough to have just the soup and bread. I wish I had made this soup at least once as the recipe stated but I couldn't help myself.

Here is the recipe for my version of the soup:

3-4 red beets peeled and boiled until soft and then cubed- reserve all beet water. (or 2 cans of whole beets - reserve beet water)
1 onion roughly chopped
4 small to medium potatoes peeled and cubed
1 tblspn olive oil
2 cups roughly chopped - I used 1 cup green and 1 cup red.
1 cup vegan sour cream
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tspns white vinegar
1 tspn balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

In a large soup pot cook the onions in the oil until soft.

Add the beets, potatoes, beet water, 2 cups veg broth, vinegar salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.

In a food processer pour a few ladlefuls of the beets, potatoes and onions and puree until smooth.  Pour back into pot.

Add cabbage and cook about 5 minutes.

Add sour cream and mix until the soup turns from blood red to deep pink.

Serve with a side of crusty garlic bread or salad.

And don't forget to enter here for your chance to win up to 3 bags of Soy Curls!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Soy Curls and a Giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have heard so much about Soy Curls but had never tried them. Unfortunately they are not available at any stores in Massachusetts so I decided to order some to see what the craze is all about.  They are made from Non-GMO soy beans, have a good amount of fiber and tons of protein and the only ingredient is textured soy beans.

After finally trying them tonight I can see why everyone loves them so much! I was a little nervous at first. For the most part, I love analogues and TVP type meat alternatives but sometimes they are too much for me. Almost like they are "too real" and it skeeves me out. These looked like they might have been one of those things that I just can't handle but looks can be very deceiving. . .

They come dehydrated so you have to add them to warm water like you would with TVP and then they are ready to use however you please!

Rehydrated Soy Curls
 I went with one of the recipes included with my shipping receipt, Sweet and Sour Soy Curls. I had pretty high expectations for the Sweet and Sour part of the recipe because sauces like that are pretty damned good. I figured at worst, I would hate the Soy Curls and just pick them out and eat a plate of Sweet and Sour peppers and onions. And even that being worst case scenario, it wouldn't have been so bad. Anyways, I made the recipe as written except I sliced the onions into rings instead of chopping them and doubled the sauce ingredients. I like things pretty saucy! The only thing I will do differently next time is omit the salt. It calls for Bragg's Liquid Aminos, or soy sauce, and they both have a pretty salty flavor already. Other than that, I was really surprised and excited at how awesome and filling it was. The texture of the curls was slighty chewy bu very tender and they took on the flavor of the sauce immediately. This dish would be really great piled on top of some rice to make it more of a meal but I was happy with my plate of soy curls, peppers and onions. I can't wait to use them again!

Now on to the giveaway!

Dan Butler, of Butler Foods, you know, the makers of the delicious Soy Curls has very kindly donated 3 extra bags of the this little gem to be given away on my blog! Yay, my first giveaway!!!!!!!! Anyways, I will be giving 1 bag to 3 winners, unless you win all 3. Hey, it could happen. I will ship anywhere in the US or Canada (sorry overseas friends). You have 3 chances to win. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Comment on this post with your favorite way to use Soy Curls. If you have never had them, tell me how you would use them. 
  2. 'Like' VeganFoodRocks on Facebook and leave a separate comment on this post telling me you did so
  3. Follow VeganFoodRocks on Twitter and leave another comment telling me you did so, with your twitter info.
Winners will be chosen by an online random generator on Monday January 31 at 7:00 pm EST. Results will be posted Tuesday morning so be sure to check back to see if you are the lucky winner! Please no anonymous posters, I don't want to have to hunt you down. Or worse, choose someone else!

Happy posting!!!!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 3 - Urban Vegan - Philly Portobello Cheese Steak

This is the first recipe I have made from Urban Vegan and it was awesome! It is quick, cheap, easy and delicious. All of my favorite things! I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. And, I can't ever leave well enough alone so I made a few changes and additions. I'm not posting the entire recipe so if you want it, google it, email me or better yet, go buy the book! You won't be disappointed.

The original recipe called for 8 portobellos finely chopped. And like I said, I halved it, I still had to use 2 cutting boards to hold just 4 mushroom caps! I added a dash of Tabasco A-1 sauce while the shrooms were cooking for a little more flavor.

Before I cooked the mushrooms I caramelized some onion because really, what is a cheese "steak" without any onion? Next time I need to remember to grab a green pepper.  After the mushrooms and onion were all cooked up it was time to assemble: French roll slathered with Veganaise, hots, the caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, some sliced Follow Your Heart Mozzarella(recipe called for cheddar but Mozz was all there was in the fridge) and last but definitely not least was the mushrooms!

And seriously, what is a quick comforting meal without some tots?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carrot Biscuits for Dogs!

Over the holidays my family and I did a Yankee Swap and I scored the Sur La Table gift card. I was stoked to go get some stuff that I wouldn't normally buy for myself, like really good quality vanilla or other flavored extracts. I had never been to a Sur La Table but I did know that one had recently opened in my local mall. I went in a few days after Christmas ready to spend the whole gift card and probably more on all the things I've lusted after but that didn't happen. The store is pretty well organized but everything is very close together and there is just so much to take in, I started getting a little claustrophobic. I did a quick walk through of the store and noticed the swivel rack filled with cookie cutters so of course I started digging through all the different shapes and sizes. As soon as I saw the picture for the dog bone cookie cutter I had to have it. Of course it was nowhere to be found so I settled for the fire hydrant, the dog house and a paw(which doesn't really look like a paw. See last photo). I also got some other ones for people cookies but I was more focused on the dogs. I went back about a week and a half ago and went through the rack again and there it was, the dog bone!

I've been wanting to make biscuits and all kinds of treats for Gizmo and the other dogs for awhile and now I finally had more reason except I couldn't really find any vegan recipes that really caught my eye. A ppk friend mentioned an all vegan dog cookbook that was for sale on Etsy. I immediately logged on and bought it. If you have a vegan dog or even an omni dog and like to cook healthy, yummy treats for them, I highly suggest you get your butt over to It's a Vegan Dog's Life and shell out the $3 for the PDF version. Word is that the PDF and book aren't going to be available forever. The book contains 75 recipes, 56 of them being mini muffin recipes all with the variations to make them into biscuits, cookies or bagels. There are even some special treats like a gravy, sweet potato chews and carob brownies!

I made my first recipe from the book yesterday. The original recipe is for Carrot Mini Muffins but I used the variation for biscuits so I could use my adorable new cutters! The recipe calls for 1 cup of carrot baby food but since there are no children in my house and it was way too freezing outside to leave the house for baby food, I decided to make my own. I peeled and roughly chopped a few carrots and put them in the steamer basket. I steamed them for about 15 minutes, until they were really tender. Once they were soft enough I threw them into the VitaMix with a few tablespoons of water and pureed the hell out of them. I am sure this could easily be substituted with steamed pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, apples or anything else that your dog loves. I made the dough and as the biscuit directions said, I added 1/4 cup of flour until the dough was able to be rolled without sticking to the rolling pin. I had to add a considerable amount of flour to get this to happen. I also used VegeYeast in place of the nutritional yeast.  Once the dough was all set though it was a breeze from there. I wish I could get pie or pasta dough to roll out that easy for me

One they were all cooked up and cooled enough I let Dain try a few, he was the only dog home this weekend to test them. He is extremely fussy when it comes to what he will and will not eat and he was gobbling these up like there was no tomorrow so they must be good!

Carrot Muffins

2 cups flour

½ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup wheat germ or additional water

1 Tbsp. ground flax

1 Tbsp. hulled hemp seeds (optional)

½ tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses or agave nectar

1 cup carrot baby food (about two small jars)

½ cup shredded carrot

¼ cup water (leave out if the batter is runny)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, nutritional yeast, wheat germ, flax, hemp seeds and
baking soda.

Add carrots, baby food, molasses or agave nectar and water, mixing well.

Scoop batter into the muffin pans and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove and let cool completely before serving. Store in the fridge.

Makes approximately two dozen mini muffins.

Biscuits- Eliminate baking soda. Knead into a stiff dough, adding ¼ cup of flour at a time
until it can be rolled out without sticking to the rolling pin (add a bit of water if it gets too
dry). Roll out onto a floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters or knife
and bake on a greased cookie sheet until crispy.
Cookies- Add ¼ cup of flour at a time until dough is firm enough to form into balls. Place
dough balls on a greased cookie sheet and press flat with your hand or a fork. Bake until
Bagels- Make the same as the cookies except do not press them flat. Dip your finger in
water and poke a hole in the middle of the dough ball. Flatten slightly to form a bagel
shape. Bake until crispy.

(That one on the bottom right is supposed to be a paw, I don't think I'm going to use that one again!)
I'm glad I got my copy when I did and am looking forward to cooking up more paw lickin' good treats for my pups!

Cookbook Challenge. Week 2. Vcon - Banana Walnut Waffles

I have had plenty of waffles in my life, but none so good as the Banana Walnut ones from Veganomicon. Not only was this my first time eating waffles as  vegan, but it was my first time ever attempting to make them. Luckily it was a success.

I was home alone all weekend so instead of making the full recipe and stuffing my face with waffles all weekend, I halved it and only stuffed my face for a day. My bloodhound Dain definitely plaid a big part in helping me polish them off though. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of adding a dash of cinnamon because it seemed like the right thing to do. I also only have a Belgian Waffle maker so I just poured a 1/4 of batter into the middle each time to make smaller waffles. They would have been massive had I filled the tray with batter! They came out perfectly and the larger and deeper squares compared to a regular waffle were perfect to hold little puddles of melted Earth Balance and Agave Nectar. With the thicker than average waffle, the insides cooked up perfectly. Light and fluffy with the right amount of chewiness on the outside. 

Sorry for the short post! I have a million things to do and a few other posts to write!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 2. Vcon - Spaghetti and Beanballs

So I've clearly been slacking in my Cookbook Challenge this week but I'm back! I knew that yesterday was going to be a very long, freezing snowy day so I would want something fairly easy, filling and comforting for dinner to get my weekend of relaxing off to the right start. I decided Spaghetti and Beanballs from Veganomicon would fit the bill. I had never  made this recipe before and really didn't have many expectations other than a full belly.

I'm not going to talk much about the spaghetti because, well, it's just spaghetti. I didn't do anything special to it. I even got so lazy as to add a jar of pre-made sauce(gasp!)

Now that the pasta is out of the way, lets talk about the beanballs. I liked them, but I unfortunately can't say that I loved them. I think part of the reason it was only like and not love was my fault though. I didn't realize until after I started cooking the balls that I had used only a 15 ounce can of beans while the recipe called for a 20 ounce can. It is only a small difference in amounts but when I used the full amounts of the other ingredients without the proper amount of beans I think it threw the recipe off a little. I chose to bake them because I was too lazy to stand over the stove frying them, and they felt pretty delicate so I didn't want them to fall apart. They crisped up nicely on the outside but even with a longer cooking time than the recipe called for the insides were slightly mushy. Maybe they are supposed to be that way and I was expecting something else because I had never made them? Who knows. And still, even though I wasn't crazy over them, they definitely hit the spot last night and will make them again in the future but will take more care to use the proper amounts.

 And I am totally using the leftovers for a beanball sub for lunch!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Boston Vegetarian Society Dinner Out - Pulse Cafe Somerville, Ma

So I started a new job this week so my Cookbook Challenge cooking has taken a slight hit, but I'll be back at it tomorrow since I made some awesome food tonight. In the meantime read on to hear about my experience at The Pulse Cafe in Davis Square Wednesday night...

I have never been to The Pulse Cafe but have always wanted to try it and what better excuse than with The Boston Vegetarian Society? Especially since they have rolled out a new diner style menu. If you have never been, Pulse's menu is 100% vegan and 75% organic. And it's just a short walk from The Davis Square stop on the red line.

Typically at BVS events it is group seating, basically wherever there is a spot or two open at a table, you grab it. You meet some really interesting and awesome people that way making the vegan community even better than it already is! My brother's girlfriend came into the city to meet up with me for this dinner and we sat with a really cool couple, Adam and Sierra. They coincidentally also know a PPK friend of mine. We only learned this because Emily's(my ppk friend) boyfriend happened to be going to Pulse for dinner when she mentioned I would be there and to look on her facebook to see my pics and find me. He did! I went back to the table after talking with him and told them about my conversation with him, they realized they know her too. Small world. Did I already mention how awesome the vegan community is?!We all got along right off the bat and since we were all having a hard time figuring out what to order for apps, we decided to order 4 and split them. I am really glad we did because we got some delicious diner style food to fill our bellies! 

The pics didn't come out great, or even that good because the lighting was really poor but I'm starting to look into a more fancy digital SLR type camera. I love my point and shoot but for food photography it's not really cutting it. Moving on.

First up was the Buffalo Tofu Bites. Little cubes of perfectly fried little tofu squares tossed with hot sauce with a side of Chunky Miso Dressing. I have no idea what was in said dressing but it was different, but amazing.

Next up were the Onion Rings served with a Chipotle Aioli. I can't remember the last time I had onion rings but these definitely reminded me what I have been missing out on. They were crispy and greasy, just like a good onion ring should be.

We also got Nachos which were equally as yummy as the other dishes. The tortillas were topped with a 2 bean chili, cashew cheese, salsa, tons of jalapenos and sour creme. We also had them add guac which obviously always makes nachos better but I wish I had remembered to focus more on tasting the cashew cheese. The gauc sucked me into all of its creamy green goodness.


Last, but definitely not least for appetizers was the Chili Cheese Fries. I have heard a lot about these and that was the only thing I knew I wanted walking into the restaurant. The fries were smothered in the same 3 bean chili from the nachos and tons of cashew cheese. Luckily there was no guac to distract me from the luscious cheese this time! These will definitely be ordered every time I return to Pulse.

I really don't know how we managed to eat anything after the mountain of appetizers we ordered but we did. Adam and I both ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger while Gillian and Sierra both ordered the Philly Cheese Steak.

I don't really know how to describe the cheeseburger. It was topped with tempeh bacon and tons of melted chedder daiya which are two things that can make almost anything taste good. The burger was good. Different but good. When I bit into it and looked at the inside it had a redness similar to what you would see if you bit into a rare meat burger. Sometimes I have a problem with faux meats seeming too much like the real thing in certain ways that I can't stomach it(Tofurkey Deli Slices for example) so while the redness threw me off, I was at a vegan restaurant so there was no cause for alarm. I have no idea what the burger is made from but I can only assume the coloring came from beets or red beans(again it was pretty dark in there). Overall, I enjoyed the burger but am definitely looking forward to trying other items on the menu. There was so much cheese on the burger I couldn't really get a picture of the patty.

The Philly Cheese Steak was filled with shredded seitan, peppers and onions and smothered in melted cheddar and mozzarella and the sub roll was smeared with a garlic aioli. This sub was so mouthwateringly good that I didn't want to give it back to Gillian.

We didn't stop there though. We couldn't leave without trying dessert. Vegan donuts? Heck yes! We really had our heart set on the ice cream sandwich but they had run out just before we tried to order them. The donuts had an orange flavored glaze on them, which at first taste I did not like. I am not a fan of anything citrus flavored when it comes to sweets but when I actually bit into the donut instead of just tasting the glaze with my finger, I fell in love. The glaze paired so perfectly with the slight crispiness the outside of the donut had(like any good donuts) and the light but similar to fried dough insides. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take a picture before we inhaled them. We all left Pulse with extremely full bellies and full wallets because the pricing is really cheap. I can't wait for the next BVS event!

Tomorrow I will be back to my regular Cookbook Challenge cooking and posting so come back!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 2. Vcon - Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Po' Boy

I'll admit that I've never had a Po' Boy in my pregan days but if I did, I would imagine this would blow any meat filled one out of the water. Seriously. From beginning to end this recipe is a winner all the way. I had been planning on making this recipe since I saw Veganomicon in the Cookbook Challenge book list and it finally happened today!

Today is my last day of freedom before starting a new job tomorrow so I wanted to make something really awesome since my cooking time is going to be much more limited now. I probably could have picked a more involved recipe, but this one has had me drooling for quite awhile.

Coleslaw is something I've been really missing since going vegan and I just haven't gotten around to making it. I made it first thing in the morning because I was feeling super motivated and I'm really glad I did. Right after I made it I obviously had to try it, you know, to make sure it tasted good! It was awesome. It was even more awesome after sitting in the fridge for a few hours getting all extra delicious! I used a mix of purple and green cabbage as well as some grated carrot. Purple cabbage is also called red cabbage, but it's all purple, no red!

It is also something that I could eat bowls of and never get sick of. The perfect snack or lazy lunch for me is a huge bowl of shredded purple cabbage tossed (Read: drowned) with balsamic vinegar. I've mentioned my love of balsamic before, and I will probably mention it a million more times, but when it's combined with the cabbage, it's the best.

The slaw dressing was really friggen fantastic too! The right mixture of Veganaise, rice or soy milk, some lemon juice, salt and pepper is very similar to what I remember non-vegan coleslaw dressing to taste like. Score! I love when I make something that reminds me of something I used to love back in the day.

 The Chile Cornmeal Crusted Tofu is a great companion to the coolness of the slaw. According to the recipe you can bake or fry it. I chose to bake it for 2 reasons. 1. Tofu + frying + me = 95% chance of disaster. 2. My mother was asking me all sorts of questions about the nutritional info for her new diet. Questions to which I had no answers and since I am never one to leave a loved one (especially my mom!) drooling over food they can't eat baking it was obviously the healthier choice. I also feel that that the baking really helped in keeping the crust on. If I fried it, I'm sure it would have all just floated off into the oil until I was left with nothing but greasy tofu triangles.

The cornmeal mix that the tofu was to be dredged in was packing some serious flavor. Tons of chili powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest and salt will give your taste buds a much welcomed wake up call!

I set up my little tofu factory line and got to work soaking and dredging. And then baking. (Don't be fooled by the random ingredients on the counter, our spice cabinet is always overflowing onto the counter tops)

After the tofu was all baked up and crispy it was time to assemble my sub! A nice slathering of chipotle mayo(adobe sauce mixed with some Veganaise), a heap of coleslaw, some pickle slices and of course the tofu! All of this was put into a toasty sub roll and then devoured. Overall, I love this recipe. And again, I'm really glad I went with baking it, it made it so much easier to make, clean and then not feel all full of grease afterward. So Mom, if you are reading this, thanks for being on a diet! <3

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 1. AFR-40 Clove Chickpea and Broccoli

If there was ever an easy, healthy and delicious meal made up specifically for me, this would be it. This was really one of the easiest recipes I have ever made from a cookbook. With only a few ingredients, 1 cutting board, 1 baking dish and a ton of garlic, you really can't go wrong. This is without a doubt going to become a staple in my cooking!

While the recipe says "40 clove" it really doesn't have that many. It only has 10! It's really so simple that it doesn't call for a huge long post about it. Throw some broccoli, chickpeas and smashed garlic into a baking dish sprinkled with some olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and lemon zest. Bake for 30 minutes, add some veggie broth and bake 15 more minutes. I cooked up some brown rice to serve it with and I had the perfect lazy night meal!That's it! Dinner is done! 

The slight crunchiness the slightly browned bits of broccoli with the tenderness of the chickpeas and garlic with the veggie broth spooned over a bowl of brown rice really hits the spot on a cold snowy New England night. I highly recommend you make this dish. Soon.

I'm sad to see the week end for Appetite for Reduction but at the same time I am very excited to see the week for Veganomicon start. I love that cookbook so much and have made quite a few recipes from it since I bought it over the summer but am definitely looking forward to trying out some new ones so stay tuned next week for more vegan goodness!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 1. AFR-Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

I really can't go wrong with anything in this cookbook! 3rd winner in a row! The thing I have liked most about the recipes I have made so far from AFR is that it only takes one serving to fill me up, more often than not I find myself going back for seconds, not the case here. On the menu for tonight was Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine. I was a little hesitant to make this recipe because I either love recipes with mushrooms or I hate them, but since I am obsessed with anything that has balsamic vinegar I decided to give it a go. And I am so glad I did! I made this recipe exactly as it was written except that I added one crown of chopped broccoli that I had leftover from making Mac and Trees last night, and I used white cooking wine since I had no dry white wine. I also made garlic bread on the side to sop up the extra mushroom goodness.

I sauteed the garlic and threw in the mushrooms, broccoli and some thyme and cooked them for about 5 minutes and then I added the cooking wine and let that cook down. Next up was some Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup mixed with some cornstarch. After that thickened up I added some balsamic vinegar and after that was the cooked fettuccine.Topped with some chopped green onion, it was perfection.

Let's talk about my garlic bread now.... If they had garlic bread contests I'm pretty confident I would win. No joke, it's fucking awesome. I think everyone needs to experience this garlic bread so I will share my recipe with you...

Fuckin Awesome Garlic Bread
1 loaf of Italian Bread cut lengthwise down the middle(I only use one half, if you want to use both, double everything below)
4 tbspn olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbspn dried rosemary crushed
1 tspn crushed red pepper
1 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350

In a small cast iron skillet heat the olive oil on low and add all ingredients, except nooch. Let heat for a few minutes to release all of the flavors into the oil. 

Using a pastry brush, brush oil onto the bread and scoop all leftover garlic and seasoning from pan onto the bread and spread out. Sprinkle nooch on top of the bread. 

Bake for about 10 minutes or until bread is getting golden brown and toasty but the inside still has some freshness and chewiness. 

Slice, sop up any sauce on your plate and fall in love.

So really, if I haven't convinced you to go buy this cookbook yet, I don't know what else to do. Except post more delicious recipes? Ok fine........... But only one or two more and then I'm moving on to Veganomicon for Week 2 of The Cookbook Challenge so you're on your own!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cookbook Challenge. Week 1. AFR-Buffalo Tempeh and Mac & Trees with Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce

We are only a day into the Cookbook Challenge and I have already seen so many great meals cooked by other PPKers. There is not a menu in the Table of Contents that I am not interested in cooking. I may or may not have already said this, but if you don't own this book, buy it!

On the menu for tonight was Buffalo Tempeh and Mac and Trees with Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce. The second meal I made from Appetite for Reduction was another winner. I made a few minor modifications out of necessity but it wasn't anything that would make a difference in the way the recipe turned out.

The Buffalo Tempeh was made according to the recipe with the exception that I used fresh garlic and onion instead of the granules because I didn't have them. I cooked them down in a little EB before adding cayenne sauce, veg broth and oregano. I would have never thought to add oregano to hot sauce before, especially because I think hot sauce is good on its own but the flavor it brought was great. I usually don't steam tempeh before I cook it but I really do feel it helped it to absorb the marinade and made the texture better.

I have read the Mac and Trees recipe a few times while flipping through the book and again while making my shopping list, I'm not gonna lie, it took me until I actually bought the broccoli to get the "Trees" part. I should have gotten it sooner because growing up my dad always pretended like broccoli was a little tree with little tiny birdies living in it. Now, thinking back, I'm surprised I even ate broccoli that I though contained little baby birdies. Anyways, the Mac and Trees was simple to make, I subbed rotini for macaroni because for some reason the pasta aisle at Whole Foods tonight was barren, maybe due to the impending snow storm we are supposed to get in the Northeast tomorrow night/Wednesday. I think rotini holds sauce better anyways so I wasn't completely devastated.

The Cheezy Sauce was a nooch based sauce which was awesome, but to be honest, I can't really ever tell a difference in any of the nooch based sauces I've made in my vegan life. They all have different ingredients but they always taste very much the same. Again, not complaining, I love a nooch sauce as much as any vegan. After the tempeh was done cooking and the nooch sauce was all mixed in with the pasta I drizzled some of the leftover buffalo sauce over my plate of pasta . As an omni I never actually had buffalo mac, but if I did, I would have to say the vegan version is better. Not only is it better for you, it just tastes awesome.

This was a really hearty meal that left me feeling full after a small bowl and knowing that it was relatively good for me made it taste even better. Just like the lettuce wraps and fried rice I made last night, this is absolutely going to become a staple in my recipe repertoire.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

PPK Cookbook Challenge. Week 1. AFR - Lettuce Wraps and Unfried Rice

I posted the other day about the Cookbook Challenge we are doing over at The PPK, and I am using it as an opportunity to not only use some of the cookbooks I have and have never used, but also as a chance to get some more blogging in.The Challenge technically starts tomorrow but I started today just because it's always easier to cook on Sundays for some reason. Up this week is Appetite for Reduction.

I got Appetite for Reduction for Christmas and haven't cooked anything from it until today. I made the Lettuce Wraps with Hoison-Mustard Tofu and the Unfried Fried Rice. Both were super easy to throw together and tasted awesome. When I make lettuce wraps I usually make a copycat version of P.F. Changs tofu lettuce wraps complete with the crispy fried cellophane noodles. While the AFR recipe didn't call for crispy fried noodles, it was definitely an awesome dish, and much healthier! Normally, I can't leave well enough alone and always change something about a recipe, but this one was almost perfect as is. The only change I made was an addition, to the hoison-mustard sauce, I added an extra teaspoon of mustard, but instead of adding the same yellow mustard, the extra teaspoon was Dave's Insanity Mustard. The sauce was really delicious as is, but I like things hotter. The hot mustard really took it to another level, both flavor-wise and heat-wise.

I can't remember the last time I made any sort of fried rice at home, I think it was when I was an omni, but I have had it on a few occasions as a veg while drunk and having Chinese food as the only option for late night eats. I make a lot of rice, but I usually just make plain jasmine rice and top it with whatever random stir fry Im cooking up. The Unfried Fried Rice recipe is such an awesome base to build your favorite fried rice, but without as much oil and other junk.I made the rice an hour or so in advance so it could cool and not get mushy when getting reheated. The recipe called for Brown or Jasmine rice, which I unfortunately didn't have, but white instant rice subbed just fine. I used reduced sodium soy sauce and added petite peas and fresh bean sprouts just before cooking adding the rice to make it healthier and more flavorful. I love the way the little peas pop in your mouth combined with the slight crunch the sprouts have when added in. I really can't imagine eating any sort of fried rice without them.

After a long afternoon this was the perfect meal to make. Fast. Easy. Healthy. Delicious. I am really looking forward to making more recipes from this cookbook!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mrs. Grinchley and The Other Side Cafe - Boston, MA

If you live in the Boston or Cape Cod area and you haven't heard of or seen a production by The Gold Dust Orphans, and you like raunchy, fun entertainment filled with drag queens, you need to check them out! I seriously can't think of better entertainment than watching drag parodies of classic movies, plays and books the way TGDO do it. Every time I see one of their shows I crack up the entire time. They are nowhere near politically correct, hysterical and extremely creative with some occasional nakedness. My sister was home from Cali for the holidays so my mom got her, my sis, my brother's gf and myself tickets to go see the most recent production, Mrs. Grinchley's Christmas Carol. It certainly held up to the reputation of their other shows! You can guess by the title what two holiday classics it combined... We had front row center seats on the last night of the performance for the season. I can't say enough good things about TGDO but it's time to move on to the food...
Me, Sis, Mrs. Grinchley(sitting on top of the bar (s)he is really not that tall), Mom, Gillian

Before we went to the show we stopped at The Other Side Cafe on Newbury St. The Other Side is dark, loud and filled with punks, hipsters, and vegans. Definitely my kind of place. They have a good beer and vegan food selection. I've heard from a lot of people that the service sucks, but the both times I went, once on a busy summer afternoon and again a few weeks ago I didn't have any problems or complaints. It's not the best service in the world but definitely no the worst... Honestly, I'd rather not have a server checking on us every few minutes, it interrupts conversation and eating. Give me some space damnit!

Since our group consisted of all vegetarians and a vegan, ordering appetizers was easy. We started out with the Hummus Plate which was loaded with fresh veggies and lavash to dip into the creamy awesomeness that was the hummus.

We also got the Nature Boy which is a sampler plate of the mock chicken salad, the filling for the spicy wraps, a dip and tons of raw beet and carrot chips. I love beets but I had never had, or thought to have, a raw one. They were sliced thin enough that you got the plenty of earthy beet flavor and crunchiness but not so thick that it was like biting into a raw root vegetable. The mock chicken salad is a combination of ground pecans, cashews and sunflower seeds mixed with cucumbers, celery and green apples. I usually hate anything that has celery, especially raw celery in it, but this shit was to die for. For reals. The filling for spicy wraps is just as good. Ground peanuts, carrot, cilantro and garlic all pureed up together makes an excellent little teaser. Last but definitely not least was the dip that comes with the raw chips. The dip is a blend of macadamia and cashews with garlic, lemon and Bragg's. They were all raw and pretty filling. I was starting to think I wasn't going to be able to eat my sandwich. Somehow I made room though =)

Next up were our sandwiches, although I am only going to write about mine because it's the only one I photographed and everyone else's weren't vegan, except mom but she got the same as me. I got the Buffalo Tempeh sandwich with Daiya sprinkled on it. I love anything buffalo and anything with Daiya so this was definitely the perfect sandwich for me. I don't really have much else to say about it except for that it was really filling, delicious and I am now craving one.

Even though we stuffed our faces with apps and sandwiches we couldn't leave without trying the vegan cheesecake. We ordered one slice for the four of us to split and passed it around the table taking turns with it. It definitely didn't remind of me of the non-vegan cheesecakes of my omni past but it was still really friggen good. It had a custardy texture and a mild but sweet flavor. The crust wasn't really like a typical cookie crust where it retains some of its crunchiness but the flavor was awesome, it tasted like oreos and chocolate cake.

After the food and the show we surprised my dad who as at a bar right up the street with my uncle and some of their childhood friends having a few drinks before going to see Zappa play Zappa at the House of Blues. All in all it was a fantastic day with my favorite ladies!