Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cookie'd Out

I hope I can break the cookie habit soon. I forget how addictive sweets can be, even vegan ones.

Here is the last of the Christmas food, including one more cookie.

VWAV Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips and Peanuts. A kicked up version of one of my favorite cookies. I’m glad I only made a half batch.

Wild Rice with Cranberries and Pistachios. Delicious and so pretty for Christmas.

Black Bean Salad. A Christmas Eve tradition, made with black beans, corn, tomatoes, red bell peppers, purple onions, green onions, and avocados.

The first main dish I prepared after Christmas was Pinto Bean Mole Chili from the November edition of Gourmet (which featured many delicious looking vegetarian recipes). This is a richly flavored all bean chili made with toasted dried chili peppers, zucchini, and kale. It’s a nice flavor change from the typical Texmex version.

Since Santa brought me a new bread maker, I had to break it in with Tomato Bread to go with the chili. I’ve been working on this recipe for a while and I let the bread machine do all the work for me. Finally, success! It’s a beautiful color and so flavorful.

I am anxious to experiment with gluten free recipes in the bread maker, although I’m not at all familiar with yeasted gluten free breads. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Until next year....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Baking

I've been baking family treats and gifts the last couple of days. First, Peppermint Oatmeal Chocolate Chip from ExtraVeganZa. I wish I would have added a touch more mint, but these are delicious, made with spelt flour and oatmeal.

Next, Maple Walnut Cookies from Vive. These are for when you don't want anything too sweet or spicy (like for breakfast this morning!). Their flavor comes from the toasted walnuts. I topped each cookie with a giant toasted walnut half. I love these!

Granola from Molly Katzen. I make this every year for my mom and brother. It's incredibly good, made with oat and barley flakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dried cherries, cranberries, and apricots.

Next, Dutch Coffee Cake from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. I actally wanted an apple cake, so I added lots of chopped apple to this. This recipe contains no butter or eggs, and I subbed almond milk for the milk. I haven't tasted it yet, but it sure smells wonderful.

Gingerbread Cupcakes from VCTOTW. I know they don't look like cupcakes. I didn't have the soygurt the recipe calls for, and even against my better judgment, instead of just leaving it out I added more milk. You wouldn't think 2 tablespoons more liquid would hurt, but the tops had sinkholes in them. This cake is so incredibly good it had to be saved. I don't like frosting and I had intended to top my cakes with a lemony glaze and some much needed color. So I turned them over and now they are Gingerbread Bundtlettes.

I didn't have Chase to help me decorate sugar cookies like we did last year, so my treats look awfully boring and brown. I guess the color will come from the packaging.

Time to get back to wrapping presents. I'll make the blog rounds later before I break for Christmas. I wish you all Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's for Dinner?

Everything seems so busy the closer to Christmas it gets. I didn’t even make it to the grocery store this weekend. I had to scrounge around the kitchen on Sunday to put together a nice dinner, which I wanted to do especially for Chase since he had to work until after 7:00.

I started with something I thought Chase would really enjoy – Tofu Pie. I mixed together a pound of crumbled tofu, 2 cups of brown rice, a can of red beans, a whole sautéed onion, a cup of chopped carrots, a half cup soy milk, some garlic, rosemary, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a huge bowl. Then I stuffed and packed it into a deep dish 10-inch pie plate and baked it forever. Here it is out of the oven.

It was huge!

I don’t think Chase was able to eat even one-eighth of this pie. It’s a good thing he likes it because it will last him quite a while. I made the Mustard Sauce from V-con to put over the pie. I put some on chickpeas and it was yum!

For a side dish I made Cabbage and Peas. I thawed half a bag of frozen peas, then sautéed them with Indian spices - cumin, tumeric, fennel, and garam masala – and then added in half a head of sliced green cabbage and let it soften. We both enjoyed this a lot.

Always room for roasted veggies – this time potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers.

Here is Chase’s plate…

… and here is my plate - no soy for me.

I’m quite tired of seeing and smelling sugary sweets, as cakes and cookies and candies from clients and vendors arrive at my office at least 3 times a day (and are eaten up in a matter of hours). But Chase likes to have dessert and I came up with something that turned out quite nice. I love the recipe for Pineapple Lemon Bars in Vive, especially the oat crust. Pineapple and lemon seemed a little too “sunny” for the day, so I made the recipe into Apple Cranberry Orange Bars. I subbed in one fresh chopped apple and about ¾ cup dried cranberries for the pineapple, and orange juice and zest for the lemon.

We had it warm with a scoop of Rice Dream, but melting ice cream is not a pretty picture.

I also made lots of my ever popular Texas Trash for office gifts. If you need an addictive snack to have on hand during the holidays, I highly recommend it.

I am super stressed with many unexpected and very large expenses this month and not able to bring joy to those I love with the gifts I had hoped to give them. So I leave you with this quote which comforts me – a reminder of the true spirit of the season.

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. -- Burton Hillis

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chili Mac & Cornbread and Chocolate

This is a nice meal for a cold evening. The chili mac is made with onions, red and green bell peppers, frozen corn, roasted tomatoes, and my homemade pinto beans and chickpeas, and a can of red beans, and quinoa elbow macaroni. I spiced it up pretty good with lots of chili powder, cumin, and oregano. The cornbread recipe is Isa’s that I found on the ppk. It is so good and is the least crumbly cornbread I’ve ever made. I could actually soak up chili mac sauce with it.

One of the local markets is promoting their high end chocolates for holiday gifts and 2 caught my eye. They are new to me and I thought I would share my find.

Theo Chocolates has 5 bars that are organic, vegan, and soyfree and made with fair trade cocoa beans. They come in a pretty wrapper and the descriptions on the website will make you drool.

Divine Chocolates offers 2 vegan bars and promote themselves as a “farmer owned fair trade” company, although not organic. Their products truly sound divine. Edit: Divine is in the new Veg Times.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Braised Seitan, Roasted Veggies, and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Sunday night dinner featured two V-con recipes. First, Braised Seitan with Brussels Sprouts, Kale, and Sun-dried Tomatoes. This was a nice dish that came together quickly. We served it over quinoa shells.

Although this recipe has many of my favorite ingredients in it, I don’t think it’s nearly as yummy as the V-con Baked Lima Beans I made earlier. I also think my quinoa shells competed a little too much with the sauce. I would recommend a plain pasta or white rice to serve with it, or even just naked with a nice whole grain roll or biscuit.

I made lots of roasted veggies for our side dish. The first pan to go in had red potatoes, carrots, and onions.

About 15 minutes later I added a second pan of purple cauliflower, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.

When done I piled them all onto a platter. They were deeelicious, simply seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian blend.

For our treat I made V-con Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. I opted to use my new gluten free chips and shredded coconut instead of raisins. I might have baked the first batch just a minute longer than I wanted, but they are truly chewy cookies and as expected, awesome.

And I was right about Chase going bananas for the ED&BV Peanut Sesame Hummus. We both did. It’s fabulous!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Butter Beans and Peanut Butter Hummus

We’ll have our usual family dinner tonight, but I probably won’t be able to post it until Tuesday night. I’ve got a quick few things to share in the meantime.

V-con Mediterranean Baked Lima Beans

To me limas are green and small. I grew up calling these giant white beans “Butter Beans.” This was my first time to cook the dried beans, but I like the canned variety as well. Isa is right when she says lima haters will love this recipe. Butter beans are creamy and hearty, and these baked beans in tomato sauce reminded me of eating pasta. Alongside a nice bunch broccoli, a delicious dinner is at hand in no time.

ED&BV Peanut Sesame Hummus

I made this for Chase. He will go bananas when he eats this! Creamy hummus with a hint of peanut butter and sesame – what’s not to love!

Here’s a new food find.

Well now I've found the perfect food from a shelf - gluten and soy free AND vegan! When I opened them I was surprised and elated to find mini chips!

That’s a lot of chips in one cup. And they taste great. I’m baking with them now for tonight’s dinner. Stay tuned!

On the local front, Rachel Ray is here autographing and promoting a new cookbook. She’s been to Austin many times and today she’ll be just a couple of miles from where I live. I’d like to go take a look at her, but I just don’t have time (or any of her cookbooks or the desire to wade through the crowd).

It’s also Eat Local Week here. From their website:

What is Edible Austin Eat Local Week? Of course every week is "eat local week" in our book, but Eat Local Week, our winter fundraiser event, is an invitation to Central Texans to explore and celebrate the abundance of local food and to raise money for Urban Roots, a youth development program that uses sustainable agriculture to effect lasting change for youth 14-18 years old, and to nourish East Austin residents who have limited access to healthy foods. Young people will cultivate a local 2 - 5 acre, diversified organic farm, selling a portion of their harvest in the Austin area and donating a portion to local hunger relief programs. Through this process young people can connect to the land and learn the benefits of growing, eating, selling and donating organic food, as well as leadership, entrepreneurial and life skills, and the importance of giving back to their community. This will serve as a model for similar programs statewide.

Edible Austin Eat Local Week will kick off on December 8 with the City of Austin’s proclamation and with support from other Central Texas communities and the Greater Austin Restaurant Association. Check back frequently to see a growing list of participating restaurants, featuring locally-sourced entree and drink specials for the week, a portion of the sale from which will go to our beneficiary, Urban Roots. Participating markets will collect donations in other ways.

You are invited to dine out, shop, throw a dinner or cocktail party, or simply make a home-cooked meal using local foods and beverages. And you can share your experiences finding, cooking and tasting local food during this week on our
blog, or join our Eating Local Forum, and we’ll publish a collection of your tales and discussions in our Spring issue.

Another of the many reasons I love Austin. I missed the farmers market yesterday, but I hope to be able to participate in some way this week.

Till Tuesday.....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Breakfast Hippie Pizza

Chase requested another breakfast for dinner Saturday night, so after much thought and a great collaborative effort, we came up with this scrumptious, lip smackin’ breakfast pizza.

We knew we wanted a whole wheat crust and a tofu scramble type topping. We thought long and hard about the proper sauce for the pizza and finally decided on … sausage gravy! Oh my goodness, I don’t know how Chase made it exactly but it was incredible. He cooked Lightlife sausage crumbles and pureed white beans (like the Tempeh Sausage Gravy from VWAV) and used all kinds of spices including red pepper flakes, garlic powder, black pepper, Mexican oregano, and fresh sage. He rolled out his crust and spread on the gravy – action shot.

The toppings were added – fresh sliced tomato, green onions, seasoned crumbled tofu, and fresh parsley.

While the pizza baked, I made sweet potatoes and spinach.

I made black beans earlier in the day to have with dinner. Chase and I both mentioned we like black beans on top of broccoli, so I steamed some broccoli too.

After 20 minutes we took the Breakfast Pizza out of the oven and made it into Breakfast Hippie Pizza by topping it with sprouts and toasted pumpkin seeds. Sunflower seeds would have been perfectly hippie, but I was out of those.

This pizza was so good I had to take lots of pictures. Chase cut the pizza into quarters and took one for his first piece.

I had a normal size piece.

I can hardly convey how incredibly delicious this pizza was. What a great plate of food for me!

Chase was thrilled to have half of this protein packed pizza to take home.

Okay, enough raving and on to dessert. I had been anxious to make Celine’s Peanut Butter Granola. Although I wasn’t sure how I would use it for dessert, granola was in keeping with the hippie theme so I made a double batch Saturday morning. I love anything peanutty and this granola has a wonderful hint of peanut flavor. I kicked it up a bit by adding in craisins and chopped peanuts. It’s so yummy.

After running some errands, I stopped at my mailbox and was thrilled to find a gift from the ever so thoughtful and awesome vegan Bazu – a bag of butterscotch chips! (She also sent me some of her elderberries which are on standby to ward off the next virus that makes the rounds. Thanks again, Bazu!) I went through my recipes and decided Warm Butterscotch Banana Pudding would be the perfect way to inaugurate my butterscotch chips and complement the granola. It’s a tapioca pudding over a layer of sliced bananas. It thickened up nicely as it cooked, then I kept it in the fridge to thicken further as the recipe instructed. When we were ready for dessert, I retrieved the dish and got a big spoon and began to serve. I just suck at making pudding because it was so thick I put away the spoon, got a knife, and told Chase I was slicing him a piece of pudding! I decorated it with granola and served it. If it had a tasty crust underneath, it might have been okay.

Chase wouldn’t eat it. The pudding was completely flavorless. I was so disappointed, especially since I had promised Bazu I would make something yummy with the precious butterscotch chips. Chase took his leftover pizza and the granola and went home. As I was cleaning up the kitchen, unable to stop thinking about another pudding failure, I remembered the recipe was entitled WARM pudding. I put Chase’s uneaten portion in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirred it a bit, and viola! I had a soft pudding with delicious butterscotch flavor.

I don’t get why I can’t enjoy this pudding cold, but I accept it. If you like warm pudding, are fortunate enough to have access to vegan butterscotch chips, and want to use this recipe, I recommend serving it straight from the pot as soon as it’s ready. It’s super quick to make and is definitely tasty comfort food. But I’m saving the rest of my butterscotch chips for cookies!