Vegan MoFo 2010: THE FINAL DAY

20 posts behind me...

November 30th, today, is the final day of Vegan MoFo 2010. While I may have burnt myself out within the first two and half weeks, I'm really excited to continue participating for as long as MoFo lives. Though I only ended up blogging the recommended minimum of 20 posts, I'm glad I participated. This past month was drowning in delicious vegan goodies from bloggers all around the world, and I've bookmarked so many blogs and recipes for future use. There were so many interesting, creative and compassionate people participating this year! Thanks to everyone that read and supported my blogging efforts; you've all inspired me to continue blogging for as long as I possibly can. GO VEGAN MOFO IV!

Matt and I just returned from a long weekend in Tallahassee, FL. We spent the last four days with best friends, cooking, drinking and laughing. Thursday was spent at Meg and Sebastian's house, cooking up an awesome all-vegan thanksgiving spread. Honestly, we made way to much food for four people, but everything was delicious. And because we were just visiting, I didn't have to worry about what to do with all of the leftovers. Still enjoying that cheesecake after four days, Meg?!

Sebas and Meg, cooking green beans and sweet potatoes

I spent the last week and a half planning Thursday's menu and exceptionally pleased with the results. For an appetizer, I made the Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese from Vegetarian Times magazine. If you've ever planned to make this, which I highly recommend that you do, remember that it requires advanced preparation. You'll need to start making this atleast 36 hours prior to your planned serving time. The cheese was excellent; it was tangy, soft and spreadable, but hard enough so that it kept it's shape. I ended up baking the cheese for about 15-20 minutes longer than the recipe suggested.

Parsley and Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese from VT...half-eaten!

In addition to the cashew "goat cheese," I made Seitan en Croute, a recipe originally published in 500 Vegan Recipes that author Joni Marie Newman featured on her blog, Just the Food. Not only does it look amazing (I'm midly obsessed with braided pastry dough...ok, ok, all things pastry dough!), but it was one of the finer tasting seitans I've ever made or had prepared for me. Matt and I tested the recipe earlier in the week, halving all of the ingredients. The tester was dry, which slightly worried me. Thursday's loaf was much moister, though I think I may have added too much liquid smoke. Regardless, it was tasty!

Seitan en Croute

Fine food and finer company, wouldn't you say. Below is a photo of Sebastian, Matt and Meg behind all of the glorious grub. Spread from left to right: green beans and veggie sausage with sweet potato puree, sweet potato casserole with dandies (vegan marshmallows), off-center piece of Seitan en Croute, mini macaroni and cheese pies topped with walnuts and parsley, extra-creamy macaroni and cheese, maple-roasted brussel sprouts with pistachios, and a bottle of beaujoulais nouveau! YUM

It was a great weekend away from Baton Rouge and the ol' job. I've missed Tally so much these past few months; that trip was everything I needed and more. I can't believe I'm already back, sitting in my office at my desk. I miss you Tallahassee!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Ninteen

Ok, I've comed to terms with the fact that I haven't and won't be posting every single day this month (for MoFo). By the end of last week, I was utterly burnt out on kitchen creativity, blogging and my bank account had taken a serious hit from ingredient purchasing. I'll definitely complete the 20 recommended minimum posts for the month, and I should have a lot to write about by Friday. Matt and I are driving to Tallahassee today. We'll be leaving straight after work and getting in around midnight, traffic permitting. I've already planned a holiday feast for an inevitable potluck. Today, however, is devoted to some of my favorite ingredients all piled into one bowl. Chickpeas, eggplant, and a peas took a nice long bath in a creamy tomato sauce and I managed to spill vegan mozzarella all over it!

That's all, because I'm at work and have nothing more to say on the matter.
Also, I've just spent the last two hours making origami, at work!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Eighteen

Well, it looks like I've finally broken my perfect posting record! I've been working 10-12 hours a day all week, and my evenings have been dark, cold and short.  We're implementing a new accounting system at my job, and the training has been tedious. I haven't cooked much in the way of MoFo-worthy fare, but I have managed not to starve myself. The other night I made tempeh marinated in teriyaki sauce (recipe here) with lo mein noodles and frozen broccoli-stirfry veggies. It was a really satisfying meal and didn't require anything other than what I had on hand. In an effort to strictly budget my spending for the next week, I have not allowed myself to venture to the grocery store for any reason. While I did falter and purchase a bottle of wine (Thursday was the 2010 release of Beaujolais Nouveau!!), I haven't bought anything else in a while - almost three weeks.

So in the spirit of saving dough (and staying classy!) I made a white bean picatta! I've had picatta once in my life, and only after going vegan. Sublime Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale makes a seitan picatta served over mashed potaotes (I think) and it was delicious. I whipped up a quick lemony sauce, tossed in some frozen peas and beans I cooked earlier in the week alongside whole wheat penne for a very satisfying dinner.


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Seventeen

Day Seventeen: The Frugal Vegan

Last night's snack left me craving something warm and filling. In a successful attempt to use only foods from my current pantry stock, Matt and I created just that. Half a block's worth of tempeh triangles were marinated in a sweet and salty teryaki sauce, adding dimension to a simple vegetable lo mein. A frozen bag of stir fry vegetables (broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms and carrots) was cooked alongside flat pasta to create this tasty dinner. I'll definitely post the recipe tomorrow! Happy MoFo!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Sixteen

What a long, busy day! Work meetings filled up most if my day, even resulting in a few hours of overtime. Rush hour traffic was heinous and it took me twice as long to get home. I'm exhausted, stressed and not hungry in the least. I promise to get back on track tomorrow. I'm thinking about terykai tempeh with broccoli stir fry. Tonight, I'm having tea to settle my nerves and chills (cold front!) and popcorn to accompany The Abyss.

While I don't normally grab the Earl Grey (I'm more of a chai drinker), Matt was having a cup and it's his preferred. I added almond milk, agave and cinnamon to make it much more comforting.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather not eat plain popcorn. I like to dress mine with an assortment of spices, depending on my mood. Tonight, I wanted something warm and a little spicy. I opted for nutritional yeast (as always with popcorn) and a mild curry powder. This popcorn was full of flavor and  swiftly disappeared between my roommates and I.


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Fifteen

Day Fifteen: I'm broke
It's week three here in Vegan MoFo land, and I've decided to temporarily abandon my weekly theme: The Five Course Vegan. Before the riot ensues, let me explain myself. With the approaching holidays, traveling expenses are eating up my funds. I'll be flying to south Florida for a good friend's wedding in the middle of Decemeber, and Matt and I have decided to take a road trip to Tallahassee, FL at the end of next week. We'll need to rent a car, pay for gas and food while we're away. In an attempt to save as much money as I can, I'll be featuring some of my favorite recipes that rely strictly on pantry staples. It's been over a week since my list visit to the grocery store and produce market, but I'm determined to make this work. I do plan on going to the produce market for a few vegetables (all I have is a head of garlic, 2 small sweet potatos, and 1 carrot), but I'm not carrying more tha $5 in my wallet. Food and gas are easily my two greatest expenses, and in an effort to reduce my consumption of the latter, I'll be biking to anywhere that isn't work. I drive about 60 miles roundtrip for work, and anything I can do to reduce my car's mileage and my exhaust output is worth my while. 

Last night I conducted a kitchen inventory, excluding items like flours, spices, condiments, etc. because they aren't common purchases and don't play a heavy role in my budgeting. I'll use these items to make meals for two (Matt and I) and try my hardest not to purchase anything from the grocery store. Here is a list of items from which I'll need to make lunch and dinner (for two) for the next week or more:

sweet potatoes (2)
carrot (1)
garlic (1 bulb)
lemon (1 - large)
pasta (3 boxes - opened; farfalle, medium shells and spaghetti)
chickpeas (1 can)
canned tomatoes (1 28 oz. can)
dried navy beans (1 medium bag)
coconut milk (1 can)
lentils (1 cup)
quinoa (1 cup)
frozen corn (2 cups)
frozen peas (1 cup)
frozen stirfry vegetables (1 bag)
frozen bananas (2)
frozen pie crust (1)
Earth Balance
tomato paste
tempeh (1 block)
ackee (2 cans from grammy!)
calalloo (also from grams)

With a little planning and creativity, I don't think this will be too difficult. To kick off my budgeted week, I made an ackee and calalloo quiche. For those of you unfamiliar with ackee, it's the national fruit of Jamaica and one of my favorite foods. The consistency is similar to crumbled tofu or scrambled eggs, making it the perfect stand-in for tofu in a breakfast scramble and it has a tangy flavor. You can't find it fresh in the US (it's illegal to grow or ship fresh ackee) because the seeds are seriously poisonous, but canned varieties are available. Just check out your local caribbean market or a well-stocked grocery store.

Ackee and Calallo Quiche with Peas
If you do happen to find a can or two of ackee, why not try this quiche!? It sets nicely and have a really smooth, velvty texture. I seasoned mine with jerk spice (allspice, cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper) and baked it in a premade pie crust that has been sitting in my pantry since my last quiche.

Ackee and Calallo Quiche with Peas
makes 1 quiche

1-28 oz. can of ackee
1-28 oz. can of calalloo
2 tablespoons jerk seasoning
1/2 frozen peas
1 ready-made pie crust, or your favorite vegan recipe
tomato slices

Preheat over to 375 degrees Farenheit. Mash ackee in a large bowl until smooth and uniform. Add calalloo and spices, stiring to combine. Add frozen peas, stirring again. Pour filling into pie crust and smooth out with the back of a spoon. Garnish with tomato slices and black pepper. Place pie in oven for 40 minutes, or until filling has firmed up. Remove quiche from oven and allow to cool for atleast 10 minutes. Enjoy!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen: Brewing Brown Ale
Matt and I finally comitted to brewing beer this weekend! We've talked about it for ages, and everything came together yesterday afternoon. We went to the brew store as planned and purchased most of what we would need to complete the process. For this batch we'll be brewing a brown ale, similar in style to the Newcastle Brown Ale (which is NOT a vegan beer by the way; ours is!). After sanitizing every inch of our kitchen, the equipment and ourselves, we were ready to begin the process.

We started with our a bag of barley purchased from the brew store and set it to simmer in a large pot. After all the malty goodness was extracted we removed the barley husks, and munched on a few handfuls. The grains' sugars had been released and it tasted delicious! All that was removed will be composted, while the remaining liquid (wort) was set to a boil.

A powdered malt extract was added, creating more sugary food for the yeast to munch on. After some more boiling we tossed in the first set of hops, known as bittering hops. This was done to provide the basic "bitter" flavor component. After about twenty-five minutes we added another dose of hops in two parts. In order to bring a delightful herbaceous aroma back to the wort, we added a second, sweeter batch of hops during the last 7 minutes. This way they aren't in the boil long enough to have their aroma boiled away.


We then added the wort to our sanitized carboy along with three and a half gallons of distilled water. Before pitching the yeast, ice was added to the sink around the carboy to help the cool the wort. After about thirty minutes, the yeast was added, and the lid and airlock were in place. The carboy full of soon-to-be beer was set to rest in our back room; it'll be atleast a week before we can bottle. By tomorrow or Tuesday, the yeast should be having a frenzy, which I hear is really cool to watch. I'll try and snag a picture tomorrow.

And just so this post isn't completely devoid of food, we made baked polenta fries and festival. Festival is a slightly sweet fried bread popular in Jamaica and can be eaten with savory meals or as dessert. Why are they called "festival," you ask? Because eating one is like having a festival in your mouth. They are very similar to hushpuppies, but I don't think they contain as much cornmeal. Though traditionally oblong-shaped and sort of flat; mine were much too round and puffed up quite a big! But oooh were they tasty.

Jamaican Festival: because eating them is like a having a festival in your mouth!
Baked Polenta Fries


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Thirteen

This day has been tolerably uneventful, with only a few moments worth noting. I slept in and wasn't hungry in the least, so cooking a weekend-worthy breakfast was not on the agenda. Last night, Matt and I went to Chelsea's Cafe for what has swiftly become our Friday night ritual. They offer excellent drink specials until 7:00 PM, which is just enough time to order a pitcher of beer and snag a table on their back patio. Dinner ensued as usual: two veggie burgers - hold the mayo! - and a side of french fries. Chelsea's offer several other vegan options, including a plate of grilled veggies over cousous or focaccia. The latter does come with cheese, but a request for the server can easily remedy that. The also serve a creamy hummus dip with toasted pita, chunky tomato slices and a few kalamata olives. The staff is great, as is the atmosphere. I've never been greeted with anything less than a smile and a couple of laughs. The interior is dressed with several large paintings by local artists, and blues  and jazz can be heard in the afterhours by local musicians. I can't vouch for the bands that play there (10PM is too late for me to be out on a Friday; I'd be falling asleep in my chair!), but they definitely draw a crowd. I recommend arriving a little early, ensuring you're able to find a table!

I ended up polishing off an entire burger and plate of fries (on top of a tall whiskey and coke), so breakfast was out of the question. Instead I made a green smoothie to prevent any late-morning hunger pains from sneaking up on me. Featured below is a green flax-berry smoothie made up of micronutrient-rich flax seed, banana, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries (originally fresh, but frozen during the peak of summer for the upcoming colder months), in addition a handful of kale and spinach. Vegetables in smoothies? Of course! The taste of the fruit is so much more powerful than vegetables, but the latter provide a wealth of hidden nutritional value. I blended this with almond milk to thin it out and drizzled a small amount of maple syrup for sweetness. A+.

Even puppies love green smoothies!

Our afternoon was spent having a mediocre lunch at Truly Free Bakery. I've written on this establishment before, and my opinion hasn't changed much. Some of their vegan menu items, like the Grilled Eggplant and Avocado Panini or one of their many burgers, are delicious and well prepared, while others appear to forgo any forethought or execution. Today I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try again one of their wraps. Instead of getting a panini, I ordered a cabbage wrap to be filled with tempeh, eggplant, artichoke hearts, red onion, greens and hummus. Not only was there no hummus, but the eggplant and tempeh were not cooked. At all. Neither was even marinaded and everything was just...bland. I've also tried their vegan Rueben wrapped in nori (my first vegan Rueben!), and was pretty disappointed. Oh well, so they can't make wraps! There panini's are grand, Matt loves their garden burgers, they have a vegan thousand island dressing, and a plenthora of gluten-free baked goods that are fairly priced and pretty tasty. Did I mention that everything is gluten-free?! Because it is! Truly Free also makes their bread in house! Sorry, no pictures of lunch because it just wasn't good enough. Maybe next weekend!

Matt and I have decided to brew some beer over the next few weeks. We  picked up almost everything we'll need at Red Stick Home Brewing Supplies, and we'll begin sanitizing everything in the morning. The brown ale is our brew of choice for this run, and I can't wait to document the process. More on this to come!

One hour left for Saturday's MoFo...*submit!*


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Twelve

Day Twelve: Free Rein Friday

Following last week's precedent, I'm breaking this week's theme to celebrate the end of the work week. It's Friday!!! Those of you with nine-to-five weekday jobs understand my glee. While I may be spending nearly all of Friday's sunshine in a poorly lit office and infront of a blinding computer screen, my mind and actions revolve around what is to be. Once the computer is put to sleep, the weekend cometh.

What better way is there to kick start the weekend than with a good ol' sammy?! Easily my favorite type of food, sandwiches are a definite staple in my diet. From the moment I discovered my very first Sticky-Crunch as a kid, (toasted bread, peanut butter and potato chips smashed together by pounding fists - handmade panini!?), I knew I'd be a sarnie-lover for life. What I admire about the sandwich is it's inherent freedom, spontaneity and portability. There are virtually no restrictions when construction a one. All you really need is an exterior that will hold it's shape throughout consumption and an interior of harmonious flavor! I'm so overwhelmed by the thought of sandwiches right now. Ah!

Jamaican Jerk TLT(S)

Last night I had the aforementioned craving. I needed to eat a sandwich. My cupboard was bare, but I had just enough to satiate my appetite. Half a block of tempeh, baby romaine, tomato, sprouts and two slices of gluten-free bread was all I would need, and all I thought I had. Lo and behold, a jar of Jamaican jerk marinade mailed from my grandmother in south Florida! The tempeh was put to the marinade, and I whipped up a spicy stone-ground mustard and vegenaise spread, seasoned with some jamaican curry powder (also sent by grandma). What resulted was a sweet and spicy sammy known, from this moment on, as the Jamaican Jerk TLT (plus sprouts!). Inspired by the classic BLT, this sandwich awakens the palate with a sweet heat from the pimento (allspice) and scotch bonnet peppers in the marinade. It's crunchy and moist all at once! I'll post a complete recipe over the weekend.

Happy Friday!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Eleven

Day Eleven: Bare Minimum Banana Split Cupcakes

Cupcakes are perfect for young children! As an adult, imagine holding one of the increasingly popular oversized-cupcakes in the palm of your hands. You're feeling giddy, right? That's the same sensation I imagine a kid to feel when given a cupcake; even I feel that way when eating a regular sized cupcake! Now, what if you combined that cupcake with the infamous banana split? I know, it'd be quite the sensation! Well, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World does just that. I made the Banana Split Cupcakes for Matt's birthday last year and they were scrumptious. Last night I wanted to make them again, but my pantry was pretty bleak. I'm going to call these Bare Minimum Banana Split Cupcakes because it's missing some of the key components of the aforementioned sensation. "Why not just call them regular old 'cupcakes', Mikaila?" Well, inquirer, because I really want them to be Banana Split Cupcakes, and if I wish harder enough, maybe they will transform over night...

This baby is filled with mashed banana and strawberry, so the 'split is definitely there. So it's missing a real marishino cherry? Pfftt, that candle looks mighty fine to me. Sprinkles? Yeah, what of them? Hand-whipped vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache work for me. ENJOY, KIDDOS!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Ten

Day Ten: Spaghetti Dinner

On top of spaghheeettiii, all covered with noooooch...

There is something uniquely youthful about spaghetti dinners! It's an inexpensive, fast and versatile meal solution that few people actually dislike. Even the pickiest children will enjoy pasta, as long as the noodle shape is enticing and the sauce is just right. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, or kitchen pantry. As a kid I would load up my portion of pasta, usually short and fat rigatoni noodles, with butter and Parmesan cheese, while my sister preferred marinara (or ketchup!). At grandma's house, my siblings and I always ate spaghetti (cut up by grams) in meat sauce mixed with corn kernels! What was your preferred pasta preparation as a kid?

While there may be exponential amounts of pasta and sauce combinations, nothing compares to good ol' spaghetti and (not)meatballs. Normally I would prefer to devour more interesting varieties of pasta, but who has ever heard of Cavatappi or Conchiglie and (not)meatballs?! I may be keeping the noodle, but one "tradition" I'm not sticking to is the meat in meatballs. Beanballs are my topping of choice! Packed with all the protein, taste and texture and none of the blood, cholesterol or cruelty.

Spaghetti and Beanballs from Veganomicon
From the infamous Veganomicon, a cookbook every vegan should own, this recipe couldn't have been easier! Would you believe me if I said that boiling the pasta water was the most time consuming step? The beanballs are comprised of pantry staples, and allow generous room for modification. They were moist with a crunchy exterior, perfectly remniscent of my childhood spaghetti dinners.

And no spaghetti dinner is complete without..."SPAGHETTI TIME"


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Nine

Day Nine: Broccoli & Pumpkin Cheese Soup (GF)

Just a quick personal plug: Vegan MoFo Headquarters International featured my post from yesterday on their daily roundup! Here is the link: Vegan MoFo Roundup 8: Finger Food. So exciting!!!! Now, back to the blogging...

As a youngin', my favorite cold-weather treat was a hearty, creamy bowl of soup and a slice of toast. Campbell's Broccoli Cheese Condensed soup was one of my favorites, and I could easily eat the entire can! Nowadays, I skip the nonperishables and opt for soup that I make from scratch. It's a great way to warm your home and your belly. Residual heat and steam from the stovetop is guaranteed to bring everyone into the kitchen, especially if you're offering samples! Here is my recipe for an updated version of many people's childhood favorites: Broccoli and Pumpkin Cheese Soup. The addition of pumpkin lends a sweetly savory note and is the perfect addition for the season. It's also free of gluten!

Broccoli and Pumpkin Cheese Soup
Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons "italian seasoning" (I used a combination of basil, oregano, thyme and parsley)
1 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups vegetable broth, or water (I used 1 cup of broth and two cups of water)
1/2 cup pumpkin* (fresh and roasted until soft, or puree from a can)
1/2 cup of coconut milk, or your favorite nondairy milk
1 teaspoon mustard
1 cup nutritional yeast, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon of miso (I used red, but I think any variety will do)
1 tablespoon vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
2 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets

* I used leftover roasted pumpkin
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and saute until very soft, about 7 minutes. Add the italian seasoning, tarragon and cayenne, and saute for one more minute. Add broth/water, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, mustard, 1/2 cup of the nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and stir/whisk until combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for about ten minutes. It should thicken only slightly.

Ladle most of soup mixture into a blender. If all of it doesn't fit, don't worry. Just make sure to try and get most of the vegetables in the blender so the soup is smooth. Add the miso to the blender and blend until smooth, several minutes (If your soup is still hot, remember to allow the steam to escape. If your blender has a portal on its lid, tilt it up. If not, create a gap between the blender and the lid; start the blending process on the lowest setting and gradually increase the speed).

Return the blended soup back to your saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium high. Whisk in remaining nutritional yeast (1/2 cup) and vegan margarine until fully incorporated. Add the broccolie florets and simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The soup should be relatively thick by now, but still viscous enough to be called soup. Taste for salt and add a few cracks of fresh black pepper. You're ready to eat!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Eight

Day Eight: "Bugs" on a Log

Onward we march, armed only with our santoku kitchen knives and wooden chopping blocks, bracing ourselves for the violently scrumptious storm that is Week Two of Vegan MoFo 2010! Many warriors bloggers braved through week one of MoFo with inventive edibles, considerable amounts of confections, and goodies galore! Even The PPK had been subjected to a profusion of food porn and other MoFo excitment. Today marks our entrance into the depths of MoFo territory. Week two will be grand, and the internet will rumple with an abundance of vegan grub!

This week I'll be working from a menu that is geared towards children! Several childhood favorites and kid-friendly recipes (or atleast what I think kids will like) will make an appearance on the blog. In addition to the menu below, Matt will be lending his snacking expertise and offer several tips, tricks and recipes for deliciously easy and convenient snacks. Don't be fooled, this menu will be creative enough for children AND satiating enough for adults (and adults that think they are still kids, like me!).

The Five Course Vegan
Kooking for Kids, or A Way to Revive the Child in You!
A Bunch of "Bugs" on Logs
Broccoli and Pumpkin Cheese Soup
Peanut Butter, Banana and Mixed-Berry Salad
Spaghetti and Bean Balls
Banana Split Cupcakes

Exciting, right!? I love incorporating "kid" foods into my diet because they are usually easy and fast to make while still packing a lot of nutrition; plus, kids always pack the best snacks in town! When I was young, my mom used to make us open-faced Ritz cracker sandwiches. She would mix and match peanut butter, jelly (usually grape), butter and American cheese to create a bunch of different combinations - peanut butter and cheese, butter and jelly, jelly and cheese, etc. The combinations were infinite, at least in my undeveloped brain. Another favorite snack of mine was ants on a log. Peanut butter was my favorite "food" for most of my childhood (and still ranks high on my list!), so I naturally enjoyed the sweet and salty snacks. In the spirit of my juvenility, I've recreated this childhood staple into a few different "bugs" on logs.*

Bugs on Logs

Ok, here is the breakdown:

1. Ants on a Log - peanut butter and raisins
2. Beetles Stuck in Mud - almond butter and chopped Medjool dates
3. Spiders on a Snowy Branch - Garlicky Cilantro hummus and chopped Kalamata olives
4. Fire Ants in the Sand - Pumpkin-Cashew Cheese dip and dried cranberries

The pumpkin-cashew cheese was inspired by Kathy over at Healthy. Happy. Life. I didn't reserve enough time to follow her instructions for her Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip, but I've definitely saved the recipe for future use. For this cheeze, I roasted fresh pumpkin (olive oil, salt and pepper @ 400 degrees for about 30 minutes) until very soft. I still had some leftover cashew cream from the Tomato-Fennel soup, so I mixed the two together with more nutritional yeast and salt. Voila!

Upfront: Pumpkin Cashew Cheese with Dried Cranberries. Festive!

*These bugs are definitely vegan!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Seven

Day Seven: Survey and a Menu
While only a few hours remain of this Sunday, I swore to blog all thirty days of November, so that  is what I shall do! To be honest, I haven't made anything new today because I've been trying to polish off all of last week's leftovers. Instead of showing you the same meal twice, a survey will have to suffice! Because what would MoFo be without a couple of vegan surveys? This one was created by Keri of I Eat Trees, and she basically rules. Don't forget to stop by her blog and enter to win Lick It, a vegan ice cream recipe book by Cathe Olsen.

On to the survey!

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Olives! Only in the last five years have I been eating olives and I love them! I always abhorred the murky jar of stuffed olives in my parents fridge, and would throw a tantrum if one of the slimy green suckers appeared on my plate at dinner.

What vegan dish or food do you feel like you “should” like, but don’t?
Pickled treats. Most vegans I know love pickles, and many take delight in making them. I'm also not a big fan of BBQ Tofu. It's everywhere. To be fair, its the barbecue part I dislike.

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
Water, water and more water.

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings?
Hmm, I have no idea. I make and offer a lot of baked goods to friends and coworkers, but I don't have a single dish I'm known for. People always enjoy my baguettes!

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
No dipping foods or fingers directly into jars, cans or containers of anything. Grab a utensil!

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
Hummus, or peanut butter. If either of those items are in my kitchen, it's very possible I won't make any "meals" for several days and I'll just munch on various crackers or veggies.

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
I've stopped purchasing so many things in the last few years! I make my own tomato sauce, vegan cheeses (wet and dry), hummus, salad dressing, bread, cookies, wheat crackers, salsa, and guacamole. My next endeavor will be homemade pasta.

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?
I like buying organic fruits, especially apples, bananas and strawberries. They much sweeter than their non-organic counterparts, and my local produce market sells them at a cheaper rate than most grocery stores.

Are you much of a snacker?  What are your favorite snacks?
I'm not normally a snacker, but  my partner would spend his life snacking if he could. We love raw veggies and hummus, smashed olives on toast, TINGS!!, dehydrated fruits, toasted walnuts with raisins.

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Crumbled marinated tempeh, spinach and garlic is my favorite combo. I will also scarf down a (vegan) white pizza (if I ever get around to making one!)

What is your favorite vegetable?  Fruit?
Just one? I don't think so! broccoli, cauliflower, taro, wakame, cherries, bananas, dates, avocado...I should stop. You did ask for just my favorite.

What is the best salad dressing?
Amy's Goddess dressing, hands down. It's better than anything I've ever made.

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
mashed avocado and black pepper.

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
Something thick and hearty, usually containing potatoes variety (yukon, purple, sweet) of anyand garlic. Yes, lots of potatoes and garlic.

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?
My go-to cupcake flavor is vanilla. I like to get creative with my frostings, and vanilla cupcakes allow for a lot of variety. Peanut butter and coconut is my current favorite frosting flavor, but if you made me choose between that and strawberry-pineapple butter cream, I might have to kill you.

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
What is with all the difficult questions, huh? Today I'll choose white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies. Tomorrow, I think I'll go with snickerdooles.

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?
I have a really simple but totally awesome macaroni/penne/any noodle lying around the house and cheese recipe that we make atleast once a week. I usually add a few veggies to the pasta (broccoli, diced tomatoes, carrots, etc.) and have a salad on the side. Depending on our patience levels and how late it is, I flop between eating it straight out of the pot and baking it.

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
 I really love raw nuts, almonds being my favorite, but my partner won't eat most nuts unless they are salted, sweetened or curried.

How long, in total,  do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?
On weekdays I try not to spend more than two hours in the kitchen. This includes making dinner for my partner and I, making dinner for our dog, prepping the next day's lunch, and cleaning. One the weekends, I can easily spend the entire day in the kitchen.

Now it's your turn to fill it out!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Six

Day Six: Bagels! Bagels! Bagels!

bagels, all the time!

It's finally the weekend! Most of my day was spent between the kitchen and the computer, catching up on MoFo bloggers. I've been really busy with work and cooking that I've neglected a lot of spectacular blogs, even some in my own reel! What I have browsed thus far is amazing. Our Veggie Kitchen is cooking up White Bean Waffles, and photographing them well. Want a step-by-step guide to chow mein and fried rice? Check out Go Vegan Meow! One of my preferred bloggers, MoFo or otherwise, actually inspired this post! C'est La Vegan makes some of the tastiest foods I can imagine, from Marinated Cheeze to Tofu Benny's. She recently made the Garden Herb Spread from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Brunch. Upon sight, I knew I would be making bagels this weekend!


The recipe yielded a dozen medium sized bagels, just a bit smaller than most store-bought varieties. Several were scarfed down almost instantly by my roommates! I've only made the bagels from Vegan Brunch one other time, several years ago, and those did not come out too well. It's pleasant to know my baking experience and ability has grown since then, as these were almost perfect! A few oddly shaped bagels aren't ruining this batch.

 I had most of the ingredients required to make the Garden Herb Spread from Vegan Brunch, and that's what I did. I combined cashews, tofu, lemon juice, fresh basil, parsley and fennel, dried tarragon and dill, s&p and nutritional yeast in the food processor and voila!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Five

Day Five: I'm sick!!

I'm throwing my plans for Friday out the window. Here are some pictures of food I've made over the last week, in between all the MoFo goodies.

Sun Dried Tomato and Rosemary Hummus

Roasted Yukon and Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary
Spinach and Honeycrisp Apple Salad with Maple-Walnut Vinaigrette

Coconut Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Cookies


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Four

Day Four: Fine Dining Desserts!

The poached fruit is commonly affiliated with posh French or Italian restaurants as a refined and resplendent alternative to violently rich slabs of chocolate cake. Simmered in a simple bath of wine and sugar (as well as any other advertised flavoring agents), the often infinitesmal servings arrive with a bulky price tag. Such duplicity results in mislead notions of laborius preparation and strategic planning. How else would one justify a $12.00 plate of cooked fruit?
Apples Poached in White Wine
Garnished with Curled Lemon Peel and Dried Cranberries

Of course, that really isn't the case! Poaching fruit couldn't be easier or any less expensive. You'll spend the bulk of your budget on the wine, but one bottle is enough for more than ten servings (each serving being one fruit) and a little left to sip. Barnivore is a great resource to help you determine whether or not your wine of choice contains or utilizes animal ingredients (yep; beer, wine and spirits aren't necessarily vegan friendly!), and there are many i-Apps available as well. The recipe* I used called for dry white wine (chardonney and some rieslings are dry whites) so I used a $10 chardonney from Castle Rock Winery. This batch was flavored with lemon peel and cinnamon and garnished with dried cherries. Oh my, was it delicious and easy to prepare.

*Another winner from Donna Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen! Seriously, GET THIS BOOK! It's super market friendly and has so many delicious food ranging from French, Italian, Greek, Egyptian, African - anything bordering or near to the Mediterranean Sea!


Vegan MoFo 2010: Day Three

Day Three: Fine Dining - Entree

From my own experiences in "high class" dining facilities, I've safely assumed that most mainstream chefs have little to no imagination when it comes to vegan entrees. Too frequently I have been presented with a plate of overcooked penne and out-of-the-jar marinara sauce or an under-seasoned slab of tofu accompanied by rice pilaf (which is really just white rice and a couple of peas). The worst meal I've received from a restaurant (with a fixed menu) was stuffed zucchini...stuffed with itself. The insides were scraped out, shredded and stuffed back into the zucchini for a 20 minute bake. I couldn't find a single teaspoon of seasoning, let alone a grain of salt or pepper. Such a dish has scared my interpretation of "stuffed" vegetables. Out of my frustrations came an unrelenting persistence. I would reclaim and recreate the forlorn stuffed vegetables of mainstream commercial kitchens! No longer will the zucchinis and eggplants and portobellos be forced onto a plate, embarrassed by their near nakedness! I'd stuff a mushroom, and I'd stuff it good.

Stuffed Portobellos with Sun dried Tomatoes and Basil
Plated on Homemade Tomato Sauce with Toasted Walnuts

The recipe I used can be found in Donne Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.* The filling was simple, fresh, uncomplicated and absolutely delicious. Sun dried tomatoes lend a sweet and tangy essence to the earthy basil and parsley. Homemade vegetable broth prevents the filling from drying out, and the portobellos absorb any access liquid. My addition of homemade marinara and toasted walnuts finalize this satiating meal.

*Amazingly and unlike most cookbooks geared towards veg*nism, Klein completely disregards to use of soy products and meat/dairy/etc. analogues! This a great book for someone without access to well stocked grocers or health food stores. More to come on her cookbook - a Cookbook Challenge is on the agenda!