Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Just In:

We are moving to SEATTLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My head is spinning and I might throw up. In a good way! We are off to celebrate. Details later.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Cooking Classes Rock!

On Sunday I was lucky enough to participate in my first vegan cooking class! You may remember two posts ago when I was spastically gushing about the Detroit Evolution Laboratory? They were at the Meatout, makers of the cashew cheese that has changed everything that I eat, etc, etc. So! Angela teaches cooking classes, and the April classes have been full for a while, but I heard about a last-minute opening for the Sunday Vegan Brunch class, so I signed up.

It was awesome!!

The menu included:
[real] coffee
a grain-based roasted coffee that their friend makes (more about that at a later date)
Tropical Berry Fizz
Spring Greens with Parsley-Tahini Vinaigrette
Grain Salad wih Sprouts, Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds
Quiche (!!!) with Brown Rice-Stuffing Crust (recipe below)
Chocolate-Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls.

Did I mention that it was awesome?!? Gregg and Angela were so welcoming and such great teachers and all the other members of the class were so fun and inspiring, too. I don't know if I had so much energy when I left from all the healthy delicious food or being around such freaking awesome people, but whatever it was, I need me some more of that!

They are all about transparency and sustainability and I wish I could describe in full detail their whole mission, but I know I'll screw it up, but go check out their web page because it's amazing.

So, hopefully at some point I'll get all the recipes up for you to try out, because everyone should eat this well! For now, please go and experiment with this outstanding vegan quiche recipe.

Quiche with Brown Rice-Stuffing Crust
by Angela Kasmala

Serves 6-8

3 C brown rice, cooked with 2 tsp sea salt, 1 T oregano, and 2 tsp garlic powder, then chilled (or any chilled grain works)
2 C bread, cubed or leftover stuffing (in which case you shouldn't add the rest of the seasonings below)
3 T oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the rice, bread, spices in a food processor. Turn on and slowly add the oil. Blend until the rice and stuffing are completely combined and slightly sticky. Press mixture in the bottom of a lightly oiled springform pan (9" is best I think), using wet hands. Place pan in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust starts to pull slightly away from the sides of the pan. Remove and set aside, but keep the oven on.

1 batch of cashew cheese
1 16 oz block of firm tofu
1 1/2 C broccoli florets
1 C cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 C baby spinach, chopped
1/2 C red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 T vegan Worcestershire sauce, or 1 T apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Make the cashew cheese and set aside.

Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the cheese to the tofu and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining veggies and seasonings, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes. Take the quiche out and set on top of the stove to stand for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve!

I don't have a photo yet, but trust me when I tell you that this is gorgeous and impressive looking! And a very happy, sunny, yellow. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Even When the Universe Hates Us...

We still eat well.

This picture of Silas really captures my mood lately:
We have now entered the lovely stage of the spring I like to call "the waiting for him to call nightmare." In this scenario, the "him" refers not to a boyfriend or whatever, but to the imaginary job person who is calling to offer Chad a job. This has nothing at all to do with food or eating, but I thought it might help to explain the surliness that might just come screaming through the computer to eat your faces off, lovely readers. Let's just say we thought we had something in the bag (in SEATTLE!!!) and now it just looks like we are one of 4 lucky candidates who gets to go BACK. Again. For an interview with the president. Because bringing back FOUR of the SIX original candidates interviewed in the first round is perfectly reasonable right? RIGHT!?!???! Who DOESN'T want to bring back 2/3rds of the candidates to interview a THIRD time!?! Not me! Why don't we bring all six back? Why not!

Anyway. We are also waiting to hear back from a Rancho Cucamonga job (I swear to god I didn't make that town up). And there is another interview in San Diego in two weeks. And then we go to Oregon to chew our nails down to the quick and plead with any deity, mineral or vegtable who will give us audience to get us the hell out of this decaying place. Please.

So every time the phone rings we jump. And hope. And every time it's not our ticket out of here we die a little inside. But still, we cook good food and eat it. Because that's what good vegans do!

I will spare you all the rest of my mental breakdown.

Begin Foodiness!

Some catch-up!

Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro-Cashew Cheese, Curried Carrot Dip, Chips and Pickles!So even though I have several bean burger recipes that I like already, I decided to give the black bean burgers out of Vcon a shot. They were good! They didn't change my life, and I think they could have used a hefty pinch of salt, but they were solid. The cashew cheese continues to change my world and is transformed into a magical topping for these burgers by stirring in some minced cilantro. We also had some leftover Curried Carrot Dip out of Vcon - always a crowd pleaser, but it makes a LOT, so sometimes it's hard for us to use it all up in time.

Magical Granola with Sliced Bananas

Chad LOVES some granola. I always want to have made it - the night before. Even though it doesn't take long, I have issues with breakfast recipes that don't require my full attention from start to finish. As in, if it's going to take an hour, I want to be at the stove the whole time doing stuff. I have a problem with stir-it-up-and-wait recipes in the morning. Too hyper I guess! But I made it happen last week. Note to self: double or triple the recipe in the future, because this amount only got us through two days! We are granola hogs.

I got inspiration from Vegan Lunch Box for this granola recipe, but I feel that I've changed it up enough to share with y'all!

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw pistachios
3/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 300F. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 3o minutes, stirring halfway through.

Let it cool if you can wait that long. Stir in dried fruit if you want (we don't, but up to 1 cup works fine). Serve with vegan milk or yogurt and sliced bananas.

Out of Town Vegan Guest!

We had a friend visit for a few days last week (one reason I'm so behind blogging). She is vegan, too, which made things uber easy. We enjoyed some great food out - Pizza at Amici's and Middle Eastern ood at La Pita (thanks for the tip, Jennifer!) and awesome Ethiopian food at The Blue Nile. La Pita sent our guest into a frenzy looking for a recipe to recreate the amazing garlic dip that we found there (and used to get at La Shish) - it's some magical combo of garlic, olive oil and salt, and some people say potato. And a freezing cold mortar and pestle. Still haven't tried to make it, but someday soon because that stuff is seriously garlic crack!

I also made some food that I forgot to photograph (or maybe just felt too nerdy to do it in front of our guest). One morning I made tofu scramble (VwaV) and diner potatoes (Vcon). The potatoes were tasty, but kind of a pain. Why do potatoes take so darn long to cook?!? Another morning I made a double batch of pinto sausages and a double batch of powerhouse pancakes (it was a double batch kind of day). Another morning I made Drop Biscuits from Joy of Vegan Baking (awesome!) with leftover sausage. And one day our guest cooked lunch for us, and even though there was a sugar-salt confusion, it all turned out fine (I keep containers of both sugar and salt near my stove. You just have to know that the sugar is unrefined and brown, and the salt, though sea salt, is white. And decidedly not sweet!)

Today to try to reign in some of my sanity while Chad took Silas out to play, I whipped up a batch of these Raspberry Oat Bars:

Kind of a shoddy pic, but they are delicious! So few ingredients, but still awesome (basically, quick oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and vegan butter with some raspberry jam layered in the middle. So good!) Perfect with a glass of unsweetened almond milk.

I also made up a batch of Apple-Sage Seitan Sausages, which were really good. They were more involved than the Pinto version, but I wanted to try a new sausage recipe. Next time I would add a little more salt, but otherwise these were a great combo of sweet and savory (and I love the fact that I finally got to bust out the Marmite that's been taking up space in my pantry for a while!). We had them for lunch with steamed broccoli and artichoke hearts topped with a little fresh cashew cheese and leftover tomato-caper couscous (Vcon).

I need advice and/or recipes!!!
So today I went to our local middle eastern grocery (which I always forget is sooooo close) and found myself in the bulk section where I quickly grabbed any random spice that had previously been called for in a recipe that I never had on hand. And this, dear readers, is why I'm looking for recipes that call for ground Sumac or ground Fenugreek. Because now that I have them, I can't remember which recipes called for them! And I know they're out there, and now I have to make them. Because the smallest container I could get for each was huge. So help a vegan out! You will have my undying gratitude.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

MeatOut! And Cashew Cheese Changes My Life

Today was the VegMichigan MeatOut, conveniently held like 4 blocks from my house! I was really looking forward to it because one of my vegan heroines, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau was a speaker. I got to see her give two presentations! It was awesome. I also got her to sign my copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking and chat with her for a few seconds (whereby I gushed like a teenage girl over her favorite New Kid on the Block. I just dated myself, no?) Anyway, her talks were great, and if I haven't beat it into your heads enough already, you should definitely check out her podcast - it really did inspire me to go from vegetarian to vegan, and has kept me there. She does amazing work.

I also got a chance to watch a cooking demo put on by the founders/owners of the new Detroit Evolution Laboratory, Angela Kasmala and Gregg Newsom. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about them from friends (Jennifer took one of Angela's cooking classes - read about it here; and my friend Brooke has tried their food offerings and had great things to report!). Anyway, their presentation was great, they demonstrated how to make some DELICIOUS Artichoke-Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms. The cashew cheese is the secret weapon for this. I've seen cashew cheese around in different cookbooks, but I've never gotten around to trying it (cashews are kind of expensive and I don't tend to have a lot of them on hand). I was pretty skeptical as Gregg described how he went from a "cheesetarian" to vegan with the aid of this cheese - I've just never really been too happy with any non-dairy cheese. That all changed today! This stuff is so good, I can't believe that anyone wouldn't love it. And it couldn't be simpler to make! Since they said they would post it on their website soon, I hope that they don't mind me reprinting it (plus they handed out fliers of the recipe at the demo). This is just the cheese recipe; check out their website for the whole Stuffed Mushroom recipe - I can't wait to try my hand at it!

Cashew Cheese to Die For (my name, not theirs):
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp sea salt
1 C. water
3 C raw cashews or macadamia nuts

Mince the garlic in the blender, then add the remaining ingredients in the order listed and blend until smooth. Add more water if necessary, but you want the mixture to be thick and creamy.

So as soon as I got home from the MeatOut I told Chad we had to go straight to Trader Joe's to get more cashews, because I had to make this cashew cheese TONIGHT!

So I wanted pasta, not mushrooms for dinner, so here's what I did: I blended up my cheese (which seriously takes 3 minutes, tops!), boiled my pasta, cooked my broccoli in the pasta water for the last minute and chopped up 4 canned artichoke hearts. Tossed it all together with some of the cheese (that recipe makes a lot of cheese! I have a bunch leftover) and served alongside a batch of the Sauteed Collards from Vcon. It was sooooo good! Like super creamy mac and cheese. I can't wait to try this stuff in everything - Angela said that she uses it as ricotta, on veggie burgers, for enchiladas - you can even ferment it and make it into cream cheese or sour cream! So many possibilities. I think our next version of mac and cheese will involve sundried tomatoes...maybe pine nuts...mmmm, food.....

As you can see, this "past-ee" was a big hit with our intrepid food tester, Silas T. He gobbled it UP!

All in all, the MeatOut was great. It provided me with some real inspiration and hope and an infusion of energy that I really needed (Did I mention that it was snowing when I woke up this morning?!?! That is so wrong.) I'm really looking forward to exploring more of what the Detroit Evolution Laboratory is offering, and I definitely am going to sign up for one of Angela's cooking classes! And it was great to see Colleen up close and personal. Good times!

Friday, April 11, 2008

BBQ Beans and Mole!

So I am officially in love with Veganomicon for giving me my two new favorite recipes: Backyard BBQ Sauce and Chili-Chocolate Mole! I've talked about the BBQ sauce before, but I had to use it up before it went bad (can! not! waste!) so I created this little meal on the fly:

BBQ Beans Over Capered Couscous with Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes

Every part of this meal owes some part of its creation to Vcon although I came up with the BBQ bean thing on my own. I just used (all measurements are very approximate):

1/2 C onion, diced small
3-4 button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup black beans
1/4 cup Backyard BBQ sauce
4-5 shakes Chipotle Tabasco

Basically, I sauteed the onion in some olive oil for a few minutes, then added the mushrooms. I cooked those for about 5 minutes and then added the rest of the ingredients until warmed through. So easy, but don't let that fool you! They are delicious!

Chili-Chocolate Mole!!!
Ok, so I don't have the opportunity have mole very often, so I get really excited when I do. Chad is out of town (mysterious, I know) so basically that means that everything I cook while he is gone will contain chocolate! (Because he's allergic, in case you missed my mentioning it like 500 times in past posts. It's my cross to bear. ;) ). So my buddy Brooke came over last night with her toddler, because her husband is out of town, too. She is like 90% vegan, so that just made cooking all the more enjoyable, because I didn't have to worry about representing all of veganism with this meal!

So to save myself from extra hassle I decided to prepare the seitan the day before. I used the Simple Seitan recipe from Vcon, which I hadn't used before (my tried and true is the Faux Chicken Seitan from La Dolce Vegan). It turned out really well! I was even able to slice it really thinly for sandwiches (on Chad's request, for plane food. Which he forgot at home and I ate.)

I also made the mole the day before, and I'm really glad I did that. It's not hard, it's just lots of little steps and uses several electronic devices (food processor, immersion blender). I ate some the day I made it (see the photo above) - leftover Chipotle burrito bowl in corn tortillas with mole on top. YUM! It was pretty hot though, and I was a little worried I was going to burn Brooke's taste buds off. Luckily, it had mellowed some the next day. Note to self: the chipotle chili powder I own is as hot as the fiery pits of hell!

So my "dinner party for two vegans" menu was:

Seitan Simmered in Mole (Vcon)
Mexican Millet (Vcon)
Steamed Broccoli with garlic and olive oil
Corn Tortillas on the side

She brought chocolate desserts: coconut cupcakes with chocolate frosting (from Vegan Lunch Box) and no-bake cookies (yayayayay!). She left me like a dozen full-sized cupcakes and like 25 tiny mini-cupcakes. And like ten cookies. Yeah, I'm going to gain like 10 lbs this week. Sigh.

It was all awesome! And she loved it, too, which was awesome. Silas likes the seitan plain and really enjoyed the millet. Her toddler was not such a fan of any food, but he's slow to warm up to most foods. He munched on baby carrots and soymilk. Little vegans, so cute.

Oh, this week I also made up a batch of the Curried Carrot Dip from Vcon, which I love! It's the second time I've made it, and it is great party food. I've brought it to playdates both times and people always love it and want the recipe. If you haven't tried it yet, do. It's tasty and really easy. It's great on crackers, bagels and as a sandwich spread. I have also been known to stuff whole wheat pits with both it and tofu "egg" salad - kind of sounds weird, but it's awesome!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

BBQ Cake Sausage!

Not all at once, though! Haha, I just thought that was a really funny, disturbed image.

We've been enjoying some unseasonably pleasant weather that has me not hating Michigan as much as usual! It's amazing what being outside can do for your psyche.

Backyard BBQ Grilled Tofu, Sauteed Southern Greens and Garlic Toast

That pretty much says it all! This was our first grill of the season. I'm a bad vegan (minus 10 points!) because I never, ever press my tofu. I know, I suck, I just seriously have a problem with planning ahead. So this was extra firm tofu that I pressed myself in a dish cloth (like for 5 seconds per slice), and it was really, really firm. I brushed on the leftover Backyard BBQ sauce from Vcon and we grilled it on aluminum foil on the grill, brushing more sauce on as needed. I thought it was a little bland still on first bite, but brushing on a bit more sauce was all that was needed. This sauce rocks! As the Dalai Mama said, I will never buy bottled again!

Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel and My Favorite Morning Beverage
Ok, so this cake from Vcon? To DIE for. It is so moist and packed with spicy goodness and the crumbly pecan's just awesome. I took a tip from Vegan Dad and made a little confectioners sugar icing to drizzle over the top for maximum sinfulness (I just used 1/2 C confectioner's sugar and 2 tsps almond milk). And it rocks. Seriously, go make it now. Especially if you are a fan of The Best Pumpkin Muffins from VwaV - this is basically those muffins, in cake form, with crumbly sugary goodness on top. Yeah, like that.

And I wanted to brag about my new favorite morning beverage, even though it's so weird! So I think I've mentioned that my husband is allergic to caffeine, right? Well, so when I met him he had all these weird coffee-like substitutes in his apartment - like postum and this other one, Pero. They kind of vaguely in some way remind one of coffee - the color, the bitter, the hot - but you really wouldn't food anyone. In any case, I've developed a taste for it over the years (Pero, that is) and this week I stumbled upon my favorite new way of drinking it: I dump about 1-1/2 T of pero in the cup, fill the mug halfway with boiling water, then almost to the top with Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk, then a little bit of soymilk creamer and stir. A little sugar, and I swear it's like the best mocha ever. I feel like I'm skipping class or cheating on my "diet" every time I have it, it's that good! Even if you don't have Pero in your cupboard (and if you do, you're my hero), I bet this chocolate almond milk method would be worth a try with the real coffee.

Spicy Chickpea Sausages!
So ever since I saw Julie Hasson's video of how to make your own sausages (like Tofurkey or Field Roast), I've been dying to try it. I was a little worried about how long it would take (with a toddler constantly screaming "Mama! Up! Mama! Play! Mama! Blocks!" you have to be really careful with the time you invest in the kitchen, y'know?!) so I'd been putting off making them. Well, this Sunday morning I did it. And they are easy and awesome! And so ripe for experimenting with. I used Isa's recipe for Spicy Pinto Sausages, but used chickpeas since I had some open already (and it doesn't require a whole can). I love that you can make them any size you want to suit your needs. Next time I make this particular recipe I will probably cut way back on the red pepper flakes - it was really delicious, but Silas thought some bites were too "picy." And that kid loves seitan. It was funny, our vegan friends stopped by the other day on a bike ride, and their 2-year-old, who is not such an adventurous eater, tried some of the seitan - and ate a ton! None of us could believe it, he was like a squirrel stuffing it into his face. Praise seitan!

We ate our sausages pretty much plain on a picnic Sunday afternoon, with some fresh italian bread. Then last night I sliced up our lone remaining sausage and put it on top of pizza with sauteed portabello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and chopped garlic. Yum!

Friday, April 04, 2008

All Pasta, All The Time

So apparently I did take a picture of that curry I made the other day! Here it is, a variation of Robin Robertson's Vermicelli, Chickpeas and Vegetables with Creamy Curry Sauce from Vegan Planet.

1 Can of coconut milk
1/2-1 T red curry paste
1 can of chickpeas, drained rinsed
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup green peas
1 small onion, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced on the bias
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T olive oil
1 scallion, chopped
12 oz whole wheat spaghetti
salt or soy sauce to taste (I would probably do 1/2-1 tsp salt to start)

Heat the water for the pasta in a large saucepan and cook according to package. In a small saucepan, whisk together the curry paste and coconut milk over medium heat. When combined, add the chickpeas, peas, salt and tomatoes and heat through. In a skillet, heat the oil and sautee the veggies (except the scallion) until onions are translucent and the carrot is as tender as you like. Add the veggies to the sauce. When the pasta is cooked and drained, put it back in the large saucepan and add the sauce-veggie mixture. Toss to combine, adjust salt as needed. Top each portion with some sliced scallions (and/or chopped nuts if you like) and serve!

Impromptu Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic

One of our FAVORITE quick meals around here is pasta with olive oil and garlic. You really don't need anything else except salt and pepper, but we like to jazz it up with whatever we have lying around. This time it was 2 chopped roma tomatoes and toasted pumpkin seeds and I used that protein pasta, Barilla Plus (Angel Hair). It was delicious! We had roasted kale on the side (my new version of crack!) and a tossed green salad with Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing on it (that stuff is seriously good).

Have you tried the roasted kale thing yet? You basically just toss clean (stemmed) kale leaves with a bit of olive oil, salt and sesame seeds and roast at 400F for 10-20 minutes, or until it's crispy like chips. It's awesome! Even the toddler loves the "green chips." Someone brought it to a playgroup the other day and all the moms were apoplectic over it, it's that good.