Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spiders, Eyeballs and Worms: A Home Made Halloween!

It's no secret that I love Halloween.  We had a lovely, smallish dinner party this year and I wanted to serve my old friends to my new friends:

These guys are so easy to make.  Just melt chocolate chips (I use a whole bag) in a large (I have a four-cup) Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave on like fifty percent power for a minute at a time, whisking or stirring after each minute.  I add about two tablespoons of non-dairy milk to make it melt evenly and make it a little smoother.  When the chocolate is melted, pour in a bunch of chow mein noodles (mine were vegan as far as I could tell) pretty much to the top of the cup. Stir them carefully with a spoon until they are all coated with chocolate:

Then I used a spoon to gently load my large, Oxo cookie scoop with chocolate noodles.  Press them into the scoop a bit to stick them together.  Then pop them out onto wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Then use your fingers or a fork to arrange the noodles to look like legs and add your eyes!  I used those cinnamon red-hots that you can get in the baking aisle, but you could use any kind of small eye-shaped candy.

You can also mix in coconut! After I made a dozen spiders, I still had chocolate noodles left over, so I mixed in some coconut and pressed some on top and made "eyeballs:"

Chill all your spiders and eyeballs in the fridge for a little while to let them set.  It doesn't take very long.

I also made a Baked Ziti with Basil-Cashew Ricotta and Marinara Sauce. The "worms." It was delish:
That's Aleppo pepper (a Turkish variety) sprinkled on top.  

To do the Basil Cashew Ricotta, use the base recipe for Cashew Ricotta here, then use one full cup or more of packed basil leaves instead of the 1/4 cup called for in my recipe.  Pulse the cashews and garlic, then add the basil leaves with olive oil and pulse some more, like you are making a pesto, THEN add the tofu and other ingredients to the processor.  Once you cook and drain your pasta, mix all the ricotta into the pasta while the pasta is still hot so it melts nicely and mixes in thoroughly.  I also add my marinara sauce at this time.  It also has a little Daiya Mozzarella layered in there.  Bake at 350 or 375 to heat through (about 30 minutes).

Halloween is a nice way to end MoFo.  It eases the pain a bit.  Have a great Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Trial Run: "Impossible" Pumpkin Pie

Susan from the FatFreeVegan blog created a crustless, "impossible" pumpkin pie that is totally fat free and easy.  All you need is a blender and a pie pan and you are good to go.  For this, I was able to use my sweet rice flour from my pantry, which has made a long-time home in my baking drawer.

Doing the impossible. 

It is custardy with an Asian dessert taste (from the rice flour).  I served it with Soyatoo whipped cream.

All in all, it was good, but sort of tasted too much like the filling of an Asian bakery good and not enough like a pie for me. I used arrowroot, though and didn't reduce the quantity.  Next time I would reduce it to 2 tsps rather than the tablespoon, it is a stronger binder than cornstarch and the full tablespoon affected the consistency.  I also used canned pumpkin, which I'm sure affected the consistency also.  

Give Susan's impossible pie a try! It is really fun to make (and so easy!).  Don't use too much arrowroot and you should be fine :-)

What recipes are you guys thinking about making for the holidays? What's on your "to try" list?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Trial Run: Gobbler Loaf

As a possibility for Thanksgiving I made Tami's Gobbler Slices, twice!  They are really tasty and the loaf can be used as a "roast" just like turkey.  The first time I made them, I had to sub for a bunch of ingredients, the biggest sub being I used chickpea flour for about half of the wheat gluten since I only had about 3/4 of a cup in the house at the time.  Then I used extra soy flour to get the consistency of the dough right.  And I used cooked soy beans instead of white beans.  It was really my pantry's version of the recipe (what I had in the basement went into the "bird!").  I used some canned soy beans that I had down there (I still can't believe I didn't have any navy beans, so weird).  The texture was different than she intended, but I liked it a lot:

I served it like an open-face "turkey" sandwich with gravy, mushrooms and asparagus.

Then, I made it the right way after I had bought more gluten and the minute tapioca.  The texture was a bit "spongier" and moister (the chickpea flour one was drier, but not at all spongy).  Both versions were delicious, but I generally prefer less wheat gluten and more chickpea flour as a rule.  I think you can make it any way you want, it's a nice flexible recipe.
Blurry because I was too hungry to hold the camera still. 

After eating half my sandwich, I got a better picture.  Looks like the Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich!

One of the best things about this recipe is it is (basically) a steamed seitan recipe.  No baking, or worse, steaming and THEN baking involved.  Just steam it and you are done.  AWESOME.
Here's The Gobbler in the top of my steamer.  I adore this steamer.  (Bottom of steamer is not pictured, I was heating the water in it on the stove).

I love you, Gobbler Loaf!

What recipes are you guys testing for the holidays?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Year Old Peaches

Tonight, I made the ever-popular breakfast for dinner substitution:

Spiced Sour Cream Waffles from Tami Noyes's American Vegan Kitchen with my Apple Topping, Tofutti Sour Cream and Maple Syrup. 

The idea came from a pantry item that I have literally had for two years, and this lovely machine:

When I opened the spiced peaches, I didn't hear the tell-tale vacuum seal release noise, so was a little nervous. The peaches had not oxidized or discolored and I ate a few (they were quite good) but I didn't serve them because, well, I didn't want to risk poisoning anyone besides myself :-) So, I went with my leftover Apfel Filling from the Knodels (which I knew would be lovely) and it worked wonders.  Pick up Tami's book if you don't already own it.  

And, for lunch, we had Tamarind Lentils from Isa & Terry's classic, Veganomicon over my Coconut Lime Infused Brown Rice:

This idea came from a half package of lentils that I found in the bean section of my pantry.  Also, since the Go For Launch Soup, I now have an opened tamarind concentrate in my fridge and am trying to use it up!  Chipping away, chipping away...

That was my day, folks. 

Does anyone know how long tamarind concentrate lasts in the fridge?? Seriously, I have no clue.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pressure Cooker Black-Eyed Stew

For you new readers (hey guys!) and anyone unfamiliar with the term "fazool," I wanted to explain the derivation.  The traditional Italian dish of pasta with beans, "pasta e fagioli," is otherwise known as "pasta fazool." So, my blog is "vegan fazool," to celebrate my foremothers and to carry on the Italian tradition of lovingly cooking plant-based foods (beans especially!) in novel and delicious ways.

I have bags and bags of dried beans in my pantry, and although I love to eat freshly made beans, I am tired of all the soaking and boiling, boiling, boiling.  So, I finally decided that in order to make efficient use of those beans, I had to do something different.

Enter, pressure cooker!

Here is my brand-new, lovingly washed and dried,  Six Quart Presto Pressure Cooker!

Even though for everything but lentils and black-eyed peas, you still have to soak them, you can cook them super fast in a pressure cooker.

I decided to try black-eyed peas today since they didn't have to be soaked.  I used the classic French mirepoix as a stew base and went from there.

Fazool Stew (Pressure Cooker Black-Eyed Stew):

1 cup dried black-eyed peas (you don't have to soak them!)
3 cups liquid (whatever you like: water, veggie stock, water and wine, you can also use bouillon dissolved in warm water first if you want to do it that way, I recommend Rapunzel veggie bouillon it's excellent).
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
½ a small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fresh or dried rosemary

Put everything in the pressure cooker.  Bring to pressure and cook for four minutes.  Remove from heat.  Let pot come back down to pressure on it’s own (about 15 minutes).  Add salt to taste at the end (if you add it during it may make the beans tough).  That’s it. I love my new pressure cooker!

Here are the pics:
 The dancing carrot.

 Everything is in the cooker and ready to go!

 Bringing it to pressure took about nine minutes.

 Action shot! The pressure cap "rocking" back and forth, a little steam escaping. Allow four minutes of gentle "rocking" (I turned the heat down to about medium to get it to rock gently) then turn it off.

 After about 15 minutes of letting the pot depressurize on its own, the stew is done!

 Wha La!

My son ate two bowls of it and so did I.

Until tomorrow, MoFoers!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Liebster Blog Award!

I am honored to have received the Liebster Blog Award from my new friend and fellow blogger, Phoenix of Phoenix Dreaming:

“Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’.
The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!

The rules of winning this award are as follows:
1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.       Post the award on your blog.
4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
I have been trying to think of some other ways to acknowledge the amazing new blogs I have discovered via MoFo. I did a quick "New Friends" post, and have added my new favorite blogs to my Blog Roll as well (which I recommend everyone do, too, I always look at people's Blog Rolls to check out new blogs!).

Drumroll, please...and the Liebster goes to:

The Life by Vic

These are blogs with amazing recipes, striking photography and great personality.  I truly appreciate having found each and every one of them!

 Congrats to everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Salad: Kale and Friends

We had a great time today with some friends at the Fall Festival in our town.  We let the kids play on the playground and took turns going into town for vittles and to visit A Taste of Olive.  My friends came back to our picnic table with two delicious salads, one was a sweet potato salad and the other was a kale salad.  Even though I didn't have a fork (it wasn't supposed to be my salad!) I stole some of it with my plastic knife and almost fell off the bench.

This is my version, recipe below!

Kale salad (the kale was raw) was amazing! It had what looked like couscous mixed in (though was supposed to be quinoa, I didn't think it was).  Kale, grains, sliced almonds and dried cranberries with what I guessed was a citrus (fresh lemon juice) and olive oil dressing.

When we got home, I was like, I AM MAKING THAT SALAD.  I foraged the fridge and I had day-old brown rice leftover from Chinese food (the medium box, not the huge box), and I knew I definitely had dried cranberries and sliced almonds.  My husband saw me foraging around and he asked what I was making. I said, "That kale salad! But I don't have any kale."  And he was like, "Yes, you do."  And, lo and behold, I had JUST bought fresh, organic kale only two days ago (to make more kale chips, or so I thought).  YES.

Here's the recipe, it is very loose, but you get the idea:

I reconstituted the brown rice (probably about 2 cups cooked rice) in about 3/4 of a cup of liquid dressing: some water, that amazing Kali olive oil, fresh organic lime juice because I wanted lime and not lemon, salt and white wine.  I whisked that up in my large, four-cup Pyrex measuring cup and then stirred in the rice and the cranberries.  I microwaved it for a minute at a time until the rice was reconstituted, soft and nice and hot.

In between microwaving, I prepped the rest of the salad.  I finely chopped about 1/2 a bunch of kale leaves (de-ribbed) and two organic scallions and dressed them with a little of the oil, more fresh lime juice and some salt (no pepper, I don't like pepper in absolutely everything, most of the time, I just like salt and olive oil. So does Rafael Nadal, btw :-) That went into a big bowl.

Then I added the hot, cooked rice to the kale leaves and mixed it gently to slightly cook the kale.  I garnished it with slivered almonds and organic grape halves.

This was amazing.  I almost ate the whole bowl (I had to stop myself, I didn't know what would happen if I ate too much raw kale :-)

What did you guys eat today?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Roast Duck

Just kidding! Did I get anyone? I'm just taking the night off from cooking from my pantries :-)

OK, so if you DID want vegan roast duck, you should get it from Singapore, a Kosher, ALL VEGAN restaurant in Philadelphia's Chinatown.   They do a pretty convincing mock-meat thing there.

We ordered the Sesame Herbal Duck (#147) and it was really great.  Per the menu, "vegetarian duck meat, shitake mushroom, ginko nuts, wolfberry seeds, carrots, seasonal Chinese green, cooked in sesame five spice sauce."

We also got the Dim Sum for Two, which had: crispy spring rolls (no big deal), pan fried scallion pancake, chicken drum stick (my favorite!), pan fried curry dumplings (also excellent), steamed vegetable buns, sesame noodles, leek dumplings (I think), singapore latkes, and probably a few I am missing (the list is at the restaurant, I only have the menu, so am trying to figure it out!).

My fave "chicken" drum stick.  I need the secret to their seitan!!!

We ate the other platter of dim sum (all the steamed stuff and noodles) before I could photograph it!

They have some sort of amazing secret seitan that they use for their mock meat dishes, and it is truly unbelievably delicious.  The only problem is that, from what I can tell, like seventy percent of their menu is deep fried, but I've only been there like two or three times, so I'm not totally sure.  Most of our food was deep fried, and honestly, it was a little much for me.

Oh, and these babies, seriously awesome:

Vegetarian Crab Meat Claw
(Everything is vegan but they call everything "vegetarian") 

What fun vegan vittles are you all enjoying on your Friday night?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chard Chips!

So, I was finally pressured into trying to make "chips" from greens due to an old head of Swiss chard I had in my fridge and did not want to waste!

Thank goodness for VeganMoFo, and for running across this lovely recipe post for Kale Chips by Sonnet! I used her recipe to make my Chard Chips and it worked out great.  Without MoFo, that chard probably would have bit the dust.

Here they are...Chard Chips!

Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a nice, dark cookie sheet and spray it or wipe it with olive oil (probably like 1 tablespoon all together).  Take out the ribs from your greens and rip up the leaves into pretty big pieces.  Arrange in one layer on your baking sheet.  Spray with a little more olive oil on top.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove, flip the Chard Chips (this is a little tricky, Swiss chard is more delicate than kale, and I had to use my fingers to flip the pieces, but it was fine) and bake about 5 minutes more until nice and crunchy but not burnt!

Sprinkle with salt and nutritional yeast, and serve.

Almost Friday...when you can eat your chard chips and watch movies :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twelfth Night: Reader's Choice!

OK, guys, let me know which one of these you'd like to see me do a recipe post for by leaving a comment below!  Each recipe uses something that was hanging around forever in my fridge, freezer or basement pantries :-)

 #1:  Simple Fried Tofu.  This was SOOOOOOOOO good and so easy!

#2: Sweet Potato Latkes. This was also easy and very delicious! 

 #3: Pumpkin Cowboy Cookies, YUM.

 #4: End of Season Garden Pesto.  YUM. Oh, and easy.

 #5: A 1-4 Exacta Box.  

#6: Swiss Chard Chips! Also super easy and way tasty.

Let the voting begin! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pantry Permanents

I do not need help using up the following items:

Cat and Starbucks bag.  I love my cat and I love my Starbucks!

Starbucks French Roast: I cannot live without it (especially once I entered parenthood) and you can see it tucked into various places in my pantry shelves if you look closely.  

By the way, don't be fooled into trying this stuff:
It's Starbucks "via," their line of instant coffee.  I really really wanted to like it since I don't always feel like brewing coffee when I want just one cup.  Unfortunately, it was the worst "coffee" I have ever had. Way worse than the old instants of yesteryear.  I got it when we weren't supposed to have power for 2+ weeks due to Hurricane Irene.  I returned the unopened packages I had.  YUCK.

And, if you have any of this left, don't rush to use it up!
Trader Joe's Organic Peanut Butter (made with Valencia peanuts) is NOT being made/bought anymore by TJ's!!

I spoke with store staff and emailed TJ's a few weeks ago on a standard TJ's run when I went to pick up several jars of this, my all time favorite peanut butter.  It has 9 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar for the standard two tablespoon serving and it tastes amazing with the perfect texture and amount of moisture (the consistency is very smooth and creamy, akin to a commercial, sugar infused, non-organic peanut butter). 

They said, basically, that they cannot get the Valencia peanuts anymore.

The solution may be Arrowhead Mills peanut butter, though not organic, is still made with Valencia peanuts and is the favorite of the laziest vegan, John McDevitt (Isa Moskowitz's boyfriend :-)

What are your pantry permanents? I have others...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Attention Cat People!

Do you guys know Simon's Cat? It's incredibly accurate and hilarious.

Here's mine:

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Ice Cream!

Well, I’ve gone and used all the canned pumpkin in my pantry.  Now, I have to get more! Seriously, it’s on my grocery list for tomorrow. 

Here’s a delicious taste-alike to Bassetts’ pumpkin ice cream, which was one of my very favorites as an omni.  This vegan version is very convincing.  The flavors are right-on.  I used Isa's recipe for vanilla ice cream from Veganomicon as a base and worked from there.  Gotta love Vcon!

Put all of your ingredients (besides the sugar and the spices, obviously) in the fridge the night before or at least a few hours before you make your ice cream!  Make sure your ice cream maker bowl has been in the freezer overnight as well so it’s ready to work.

One can of organic coconut milk (full fat) you’ll be harvesting ½ cup of the solid cream on top of the coconut milk once it is cold.
1 cup liquid: ½ cup soy milk, ¼ cup coconut milk (from the can where you got the cream!), ¼ cup organic soy creamer (I use Trader Joe’s) OR: you can just use 1 cup of full fat soy milk if you prefer.
¾ cup organic sugar
4 ounces (½ cup) silken tofu.  Hint: this is 1/3 of the 12 ounce brick (full fat, “firm” silken tofu in the aseptic box)
¼ cup full fat soy yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg (1/4 tsp if you are afraid of nutmeg)
½ cup of organic pumpkin puree

Just put everything into a blender or food processor and puree it.  I just use my Hamilton Beach blender which I’ve had for almost twenty years and works just as well as those high powered three hundred dollar things!  Anyway, pour the cold puree into your ice cream maker and follow the directions for your specific maker. 

To give it a nice, firm texture, freeze for a few hours longer in a tightly sealed Tupperware container before serving.  And try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Have a great week, everyone.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MoFo Post #8: Wine, Olive Oil, and Ice Cream

Last night was…Date Night! We had a BABYSITTER, and actually went out to dinner for the first time in four years (I am counting some of my pregnancy, because you cannot drink when you are toting around a developing fetus).  We have done dates during the day while he is at day care, school, etc. but never gotten a sitter for an evening before.  It was quite the revelation.

We got sushi, which I had been craving.  Question: why isn’t there more vegan sushi at sushi places? Like that awesome deep fried silken tofu I always get, can’t you put that in a roll with some avocado and carrots or something? Maybe next time I'll ask them to make me a fried tofu roll.  It was great regardless.

The place was a BYO and so we brought this great, yet very reasonably priced wine (It was a Dry Riesling from Chateau Ste Michelle) so I went crazy and drank two glasses of wine at dinner, and then we went to this store I’d been dying to go to for like months, A Taste of Olive.  I ended up spending $50 on olive oils and vinegar, but to me, that is the best fifty bucks that you can spend.  You can taste all (or at least as many as you can handle) of the oils and vinegars and once you choose one (or more!) they bottle it for you right there and seal it with their fun machine.

Yup, that's my cat's tail on the right, there.

So, the bottles have their logo on one side, and on the other they print out custom labels for whichever ambrosial liquids you chose to go inside:

 My husband's choice.

I needed a great, all-purpose balsamic vinegar.  This was it. I was difficult to go basic with the dozens of amazing vinegars they carry.

My choice of oil.

My husband and I each preferred a slightly different profile to our oils, so we got two.  He chose a Spanish oil, La Trinidad, which was grassy, fruity, and had a sharp, peppery finish that got you in the back of the throat.  I chose Kaldi, a Greek oil that had a lot of fruit up front and a peppery finish that didn’t linger too long on the back of the throat.  Anyway, I’ll get a flavored one next time, but it was so hard to choose, I went for the great all around oil.

So, today, we hit the Farmer's Market and then really wanted to use our new bottles.

Hubby made a fresh vegetable terrine with zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh basil:

I mixed in some chickpeas, and some sauteed fresh spinach (hubby also made that, sauteed with leeks, from our farmer's market purchases).  I dressed it with my balsamic vinegar and my olive oil.  Hubby does not like balsamic vinegar, so I made a separate dish.  

We ate these over pasta: capellini dressed with garlic and oil. I'm sure you can imagine a better picture than I could have taken because I was starving!

And then, since it was like 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) today, I made some pumpkin ice cream.  I was trying to get a craving for Bassetts pumpkin ice cream out of my system:

It turned out exactly like my beloved Bassetts, but, better. And vegan.

If you guys want the recipe to either of these, comment below and I'll try to make it happen.

Have a great night (or day)!
<3 Dawn