Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Breakfast for Dinner, etc.

Tonight for dinner I made Ben's Cinnamony Almond Apple Pancakes. They are incredibly delicious. Please look for the recipe here. I made nine HUGE pancakes from the recipe. With the pancake I had a breakfast taco made with my new hemp tortillas.

I tried baking the hemp tortilla like the bagboy had suggested to me, but it was too crispy and I wound up with a taco. Here's the first baked tortilla and taco.

My favorite thing I made this week was Brussels sprouts curry. I shredded the sprouts, and added in onion, chickpeas, and a little spinach, along with a light curry sauce. Very yummy.

This meal I recycled my pumpkin hummus lasagna. I removed the icky spelt noodles and put the lasagna guts over rice noodles.

And lastly, a just my size peanut butter and banana smoothie.

Have a great rest of the week!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pumpkin Hummus Lasagna & Cupcakes

I've been working on a recipe for "no tomato sauce" lasagna for a while. Megan the Vegan's lasagnas were very intriguing. After much thought, I decided to use hummus instead of sauce, a tempeh sausage (from VWAV) and veggie filling, fresh spinach, and spelt lasagna noodles. The noodles get a big thumbs down. Good taste, poor cooking instructions (only 3 minutes!) and too hard to work with. We wanted a wheat free noodle, but we definitely won't use these again.

I made the hummus Saturday and I can't believe I didn't eat it all before tonight. It was the best, creamiest hummus ever. I'll post the recipe further down because you absolutely have to make this hummus!

The filling was made with tempeh sausage, onions, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. Eight ounces of sausage was not enough. It got lost among the other ingredients.

I also made Easy French Bread from La Dolce Vegan, which became garlic bread.

And a salad with mixed greens, broccoli, golden raisins, and toasted pumpkin seeds. I made a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, maple sugar, and agave. It was very good. We all wished I had made more.

Chase built the lasagna......

Ready to bake......

Ready to eat.

We did make cupcakes before we had dinner. Yes, I finally got Vegan Cupcakes. I found these neat little disposable muffin tins at the grocery store today. I thought they would make good take home containers too. I detest paper liners and cannot find foil liners anywhere. I baked the cupcakes in these foil tins, and then after they were cool, I did put them in paper liners so we could pick them up and decorate them. That's right, I put them in liners AFTER I baked them. I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm weird, so now you know another of my quirks. Here's a couple more that came up tonight. I used to get mad at Chase for spilling on my place mats and he would always say, "Mom, that's what they're for." Today I got out a new dish sponge and I didn't want to get it dirty with chocolate frosting.

On to the pictures.....

Perfectly done cupcakes.

Ready to decorate.

My cupcake.

Then I got the fun stuff out so Chase and Liz could decorate.

The peanut butter cakes are fabulous! But the chocolate buttercream was not what we wanted with these. My fault, I wanted it to decorate with. But it overwhelmed the wonderful peanut flavor in the cakes. The little drizzle of chocolate as presented in the book is not as pretty, but would be the perfect topping.

I hope you try this hummus recipe. It makes 4 cups and can be halved.

Pumpkin Hummus:
1 can pumpkin puree
1 medium sweet potato, cooked
(if halving the recipe, use either pumpkin or sweet potato)
1 large onion, chopped
1 30-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1 cup (or as needed) vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Bragg's
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

I tailored the spices for more of an Italian flavor, but you could flavor it with the normal cumin and lemon juice. It really is so creamy with a beautiful flavor and color.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pumpkin Lentil Soup and LOTS of Other Stuff

My parents take our family out to a nice buffet for Thanksgiving dinner, which unless I were hosting dinner, offers Chase and me plenty of options. We actually had more than enough to eat, including hummus and baba ganoush with pita, spinach salad, grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, fresh veggies we stole from the omelet station, fresh fruit, and peanut butter and banana sammies we took from the kiddie table. We also got to watch my brother eat a big hunk of prime rib! It was wonderful family time together, a beautiful, 80 degree, sunny day, and a reminder that we have so much to be thankful for.

I'm not shopping today, but I have to tell you that Chase camped out all night to get a game system he wants (NOT the $600 one!) and it was really kind of exciting! He was at a little tiny store in my neighborhood where he had heard rumor that a few systems would be in stock today. He went at about 8:30 last night and the store was not going to open until 7:00 this morning. I'm glad I was nearby because at 9:00 last night he called and asked for a pillow and blanket, and at 10:30 he called and ordered a veggie burger! Anyway, he came over at 7:30 this morning with the game so it was worth it. That is my Christmas present to him and he wants me to wrap it so he can have it to open on Christmas day.

Okay, enough personal stuff. I made the most awesome Pumpkin Lentil soup today. I sauted an onion, added a cup of water and a whole diced butternut squash and cooked it about 10 minutes. I seasoned it with garlic, red chili flakes, mexican oregano, salt and pepper, and parsley, and then added 3 cups of vegetable stock and cooked until the squash was done. In the meantime I cooked a half cup of yellow lentils. I pureed the squash and added about a tablespoon of tahini to it, then added in the cooked lentils.

I don't like sweet pumpkin soup, so this spicy version was perfect for me. I could have saved time and pureed the lentils as well, but I liked tasting the whole lentils in the creamy squash. I really am in love with lentils!

I always send Sunday leftovers home with Chase. Last Sunday we had the Breast of Tofu and Chickpea Gravy. So Monday morning when I got to my office, I had an email from him:

"Mom, the gravy you made is addictive like crack. Make me a tub of it please." I thought it was pretty funny so I forwarded it to Isa and told her I thought she'd like to know she had a big fan of her chickpea gravy.

She emailed back right away and said, "That's really funny! Better they do gravy than crack, I always say."

I sent Isa's reply to Chase and then he said "That's really cool she emailed you back. But seriously Mom.... the bread and the gravy. Two things I can never live without again! I'M SERIOUS!!"

So I contributed to my son's addiction and made more English Muffin bread, gravy, and also fixed up a bag of millet puffs.

That gravy really is so good with everything. I also made a tester homemade gift that I call Texas Trash. It is party mix made with tortillas chips, Crispix, popcorn, and nuts and baked with a sweet chili syrup. I hadn't made it in a while and couldn't remember how much the chili would color the chips, but I think some blue or red tortilla chips would look really nice for holiday gift bags. The recipe makes about 20 cups and I cooked it in a disposable roasting pan. If anybody needs the recipe I'll be glad to post it later.

Here's a few goodies I picked up at my little neighborhood Whole Foods today. Man, the shelves were bare! These hemp tortillas looked interesting. The guy at the checkout said to just warm them in the oven and all the nutty flavor and texture really comes through.

I haven't tried these noodles or crackers yet, and if anyone thinks they are not vegan, please let me know. The peanut butter is one way I spoil my son. Oh my gosh, it costs $6.99!

Finally, here's a stuffed baked sweet potato that was dinner earlier this week. If you look real hard, you can see the sweet potato under all the veggies.

I can't remember the last time I had 4 days in a row off from work. I don't know what to do with myself. I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday. I'll see you Sunday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


These are millet puffs.

If you can get past the fact that they look like beanbag chair stuffing, you can make cereal treats with them.

Peanut Butter Millet Puff Treats:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash cinnamon
1/4 cup peanut butter
4 cups millet puff cereal

Combine brown sugar and corn syrup in a large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until boiling and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and peanut butter and stir until smooth. Add in cereal and stir until coated. Press into 9 x 13 pan. Cut into 24 squares when cool.

I formed them into balls, just to be weird.

I don't know how many calories are in Rice Krispies, but millet puffs have 60 calories per cup. These are quick, easy to make, light and yummy treats!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Our Vegan Thanksgiving

Tonight Chase and I made our "If I were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner" meal. Our menu was Breast of Tofu (posted by Bunnyfoot, Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy (from VwaV), Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Balsamic Mixed Vegetables, Cranberry Relish, English Toasting Bread, and Pumpkin Pecan Pie. Chase has been going through a rough time lately, so we enjoyed spending lots of time together this weekend and especially cooking together tonight. Before we ate I told him I was thankful he enjoyed spending time with his mom, and he said he was thankful his mom liked to cook good food for him.

Saturday I made some cranberry stuff, relish I guess. I cooked cranberries, an apple, a tangelo, and half an onion in apple cider with some ginger, raisins, and dried apricots. I spiced it with cloves and cinnamon. I didn't need to add any sugar. It was really nice with the bread.

I could only get one picture - I took it outside since the weather was so nice, but the bees came!

I also made English Toasting Bread. This was always one of Chase's favorites. I don't remember where I originally got the recipe, but you could find it on the web easily. It's a loaf of an English muffin. It doesn't taste great plain, but after a minute or two in the toaster, it's a homemade English muffin, only sandwich sized. It's a little messy with the cornmeal crust, but oh so worth it. These pictures are really just bad camera angle shots, but I never claimed to be a pro photographer and you can get the idea of the beauty of this bread from these pics. You can see the bread on the table later, toasted and perfect.

Veggies for roasting were cauliflower, broccoli, Brussells sprouts, carrots, purple potatoes, onions, and red bell peppers. I drizzled a little olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and salt & pepper on them. Here they are before and after roasting. I know I say this all the time, but if given the choice between these beautiful veggies and a McD burger, who could want the burger instead?!?

Chase was in charge of the Breast of Tofu. That child loves tofu more than anyone I know! I had marinated it all day, then he prepared the breading and did the panfrying. We tried really hard to do something risque with a piece of tofu and 2 chickpeas, but it just didn't work out. Chase said I was making cassette tapes, not breasts. Anyway, while he made the breasts, I made the chickpea gravy. It was my first time to try it, and yes, it is as awesome as everyone says it is. Perfect with the tofu and smashed sweet potatoes.

For our dessert, I decided to experiment. Chase couldn't decide if he would rather have pumpkin or pecan pie, and I think everything should be chocolate. So I decided to make Pumpkin Pecan Pie in Chocolate Crust. I made Wolffie's Pumpkin Pie from La Dolce Vegan and put it into a crust of crushed Newman's Own Chocolate ABC Cookies, chopped pecans, and a little sugar and melted butter. I usually don't bake cookie crusts so I was a little nervous. But OMG, the pie is heaven, and it doesn't matter what crust it goes into. No tofu, no cooking. Just mix it up and shove it in the oven. It has a crumb topping and is perfectly spiced. The recipe says to serve at room temperature, and it held up fine, but I like it a little firmer, so I put it in the fridge. It helped the crust hold together better too. Here's the crust.

Here's the pie ready to go into the oven.

Here is all the food we were thankful for tonight.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holiday Recipe Testing

I tested a couple of recipes I'm thinking about serving for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. This is quinoa with fresh cranberries and sliced almonds. This passed the test - it's very tasty.

These are green bean bundles. I couldn't remember exactly how I made them before. Well, I knew I bundled the green beans with carrots. I just couldn't remember how you serve them hot! During testing I remembered. The beans bundled with a carrot RING should be assembled, seasoned, and then steamed. The beans tied with a carrot KNOT should be seasoned and tied after the beans have been cooked, if you're a fast knotter.

My office hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon today and ordered from a barbecue joint. They offered to provide me a salad after I asked them if they would have anything for me. I didn't expect special treatment, but I didn't want to seem rude. And I didn't know what kind of side dishes might be coming. Oh man, that food stunk up the whole office from 11:00 a.m. Then they put the leftovers in the refrigerator and stunk it up, including the ice cubes. They had smoked turkey, creamy cole slaw, potato salad, cheesy green beans, and pies. There is no leftover pie. So I invited Chase and his gf to lunch and we went down the street and had vegan Thai food. Chase and I had Pud Pak, which is 7 or 8 kinds of veggies, tofu, and steamed rice in a mild sauce, and his gf had a very large noodle dish with tofu and lots of veggies. (Really, the bowl was as big as your head!) Lunch is $5.95. We also had a springroll appetizer with a yummy peanut sauce. It's always so good and quite a bargain for downtown Austin.

So I just had a salad for dinner, made with my leftover sauteed veggies and blackeyed peas on a bed of lettuce.

And here's some carob chip muffins I made over the weekend.

That's all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cooking Fellow Bloggers' Recipes

I have a package of split yellow mung beans I've been wanting to cook with, but really didn't know what I wanted to do with them. So I searched my favorite blogs and decided to make Wine Braised Lentils posted by Laura of Eden in the Kitchen, which can be found here: Since I had yellow beans, I used white wine and no tomato sauce. I also discovered that I didn't have any fresh greens, so I added in edamame instead.

The lentils cooked in 25 minutes. I ended up with a sweet, delicious dish. Thanks, Laura!

While the lentils were cooking, I had just enough time to make another dish. I had been very anxious to roast sugar snap peas after seeing the recent post by Crystal. Her recipe can be found on her Vivacious Vegan blog I also roasted carrots and used just a tiny bit of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. I think sugar snap peas were the only veggie I hadn't roasted. Very tasty, highly recommended. Thank you, Crystal!

I finally used the remainder of the world's largest zucchini, whose title may be in jeopardy after Vegan Ruthie's post, in a simple mixed veggie saute.

I love this free recipe exchange!

Now I must take a moment to vent and at the same time hopefully vindicate myself after being publicly chastised by Leslie of Eat Peace Please. I commented on her recent post about how wonderful her soup recipe looked and also mentioned I had received a flu shot. She basically told me the shot was not good for me and that I had forfeited my status as a vegan. I left a subsequent comment the following day stating that I was in the high risk category for getting the flu and, given the choice of receiving a flu shot or winding up in the hospital and being subjected to all sorts of nonvegan pills and food, I did what I had to do. I asked her not to be so quick to judge and told her I was being the best vegan I could be. She did not have the courage to publish my comment. I posted another comment this morning asking her to please let me defend myself, but it is not published either.

I believe that veganism is compassion for all life, mine included. If I don't take care of me and respect my own life, and if I beat myself up (or let others beat on me) because I have to take prescription medications that aren't vegan, how can I respect the lives of others? Who would respect me if I chose to suffer or die rather than take care of my own health and well-being in the name of veganism? I think I'm a better promoter of the cause as a living, healthy vegan. Sometimes choices must be made that aren't vegan. If my son is being eaten by an alligator, am I really supposed to have a hard time deciding what the right thing to do is? And if I save my son, am I supposed to feel guilty about it? I wish the world we live in could accommodate us as vegans, but I have too many responsiblities to be a martyr.

I don't apologize for taking the flu shot because I know I am being the best vegan I can be. I'm not a perfect vegan, are you?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Totally Thai

I prepared for my Sunday night stirfry with a trip to the farmers market and Asian supermarket on Saturday. At the farmers market I got a daikon radish, peppers, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Thai basil, Thai chili peppers, and cilantro.

At the Asian market, I got sugar snap peas, lemongrass, ginger, carrots, brown rice vermicelli, some rice crackers, and some awesome peanut bars. The ingredients listed for the peanut bars are peanuts, sugar, and water. They helped cool us off after our spicy dinner. The Asian market is where I buy groceries for my son. He says he doesn't want to shop for food at the local markets anymore. This market really is supermarket size and we always spend at least an hour there when we go.

So here are the veggies ready for the wok - everything from the market and some of the world's biggest zucchini, which I've eaten about 2/3 of so far!

The coconut green curry sauce recipe was given to me by a local chef. It's quick and easy:

Put 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 chopped green onion, and 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger in a medium saucepan with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Saute until onion is soft. Add 2 tablespoons white wine and cook off. Add 1 can lite coconut milk and 1 - 2 tablespoons green curry paste and bring to a boil. Let simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons cilantro and salt to taste. The sauce will thicken more when you add it to the stirfry. You can make this ahead of time and it will keep in the fridge for a week.

Here's a shot of the veggies in the wok.

And here's a shot of it almost ready.

I also made a cold green salad to go with the stirfry, with lettuce, carrots, onions, zucchini, and broccoli.

I made an interesting dressing for the salad which I think came from Global Gourmet. I read that it is improper to serve a dressed salad in Thailand - let the guests serve themselves. To make the dressing, mix together 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used Bragg's), 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons palm sugar (I used agave), 1 tablespoon dried red chilis, and 1 tablespoon ground toasted rice. My dried chilis were not very hot, but I think a tablespoon of hot stuff might be too much. The dressing was very good and could even be used as a dipping sauce. It was my first time to toast rice and grind it up to put in liquid.

I also made Thai beancakes. I put the following in my miniprep: 1 can adzuki beans (drained and rinsed), some Thai basil, a 1 inch piece of lemongrass, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, and 1 Thai chili. Then I formed them into patties and cooked them in a nonstick skillet with no oil. It's basically a spicy black bean burger, and oh so tasty. But I could eat a bean burger in some form every night.

So here is what we sat down to!

So many healthy veggies and some spiciness to speed up the metabolism!

For a Thai style dessert I made a mango coconut loaf cake. Have you ever heard that loaf cakes should be cooled completely, then not cut and eaten, but wrapped in plastic wrap for 24 hours so they will be more flavorful and easier to slice? It's completely true! I can't decide if I like this cake or not. I did not like it Saturday. I have a loaf pan that I love because it has perfectly square corners, but it burned the corners of this cake. I thought I would have to cut off a half inch from all sides of the loaf, but on Sunday it had softened and was perfect! Oh, but it also fell while it was cooling, so it wasn't pretty. On the other hand, Chase said it was one of his favorite desserts I've made, probably because it's not terribly sweet. (He really liked Emmy's peanut blondies!) I'm not going to post the recipe tonight, but if anyone wants to take a stab at it, I'll be glad to post it later. Mango and coconut, mmmmmmmmmm.

See, I just love those pointy corners!

So we had a fun family dinner once again. Thank you again to my son for a perfect job on the stirfry. All the veggies were done just right and he was wise and brave to add in 6 Thai peppers!