Monday, September 29, 2008

The Week of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan!

So last time I posted about how I was participating in ThePPK forum's cookbook challenge of the week, which was to show some love to Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink and Be Vegan! Well, I can honestly say that it was a week of awesome eats!

Pumpkin-Cheese Pie

Well, let's start off with dessert, shall we? Yes, let's shall. Pumpkin cheese pie was a huge success. The only caveat being that I couldn't find a premade graham cracker crust, so I decided to be all DIY and make one from graham crackers. I looooosely followed the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking but I think my ratios were off, because the crust was reallllllly crumbly and crumb-like - it just basically fell apart upon slicing. Next time I'll either use a tried and true recipe for graham cracker crust (measuring my ingredients, what a pain!) or buy a pre-made regular old pie crust. Those I can find. But the filling was super delicious and wicked easy to make!

Blackened Tofu, Potato Smashers and Sauteed Spinach

Ooooh, love love love! Yay for Blackened tofu! So super easy and tasty. It was a hit all around. The Potato Smashers were super delicious and easy too, a nice change from just roasted in olive oil (and I'm guessing considerably lower in fat). The spinach was actually a curried coconut-milk creamed spinach from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Super big thumbs up to that! It's basically just some garlic and a few dried chilis sauteed briefly in peanut oil, then the spinach is added along with about 1 cup of coconut milk and a teaspoon (or more or less) of curry powder. Fabulous!

Autumn Roasted Squash Rings with Enchilada Tofu and Rice
Just the Squash recipe is from ED&BV, and it was AWESOME! Pretty easy (once you get the squash peeled - dang!) I used a local delicata squash, which I think is my favorite squash of all time. The recipe utilizes lemon juice and rosemary, not things I usually associate with winter squash - but it was delicious!!

The enchilada tofu is my fave recipe from Tofu Cookery and the rice was just some leftover mixed rice pilaf reheated with a little tomato paste. The tofu was delicious as always, but the rice - not all that inspired, really. You can't win every time I guess.

Teriyaki Quinoa, Pan-Fried Tempt-eh, and Sauteed Wild Mushrooms
Teriyaki Quinoa = awesome, easy and FAST! This is probably my favorite quinoa recipe of all time. It somehow manages to cover that weird bitter quinoa taste I shy away from. Perfect in every way!
The tempt-eh was also super awesome! Chad was a huge fan, and he's usually not all super excited about the tempeh (I on the other hand would eat it every damn day). It had a great texture and was free of tempeh bitterness that I think Chad shies away from. Woo-hoo!

How can you not love sauteed mushrooms?!? Olive oil, garlic, wine, a little soy sauce...seriously, is this not food of the gods? We have a mushroom CSA, so we are always so excited to see what kind of crazy mushrooms we have the privilege to try this week. :)

Rice and Beans with Two Tomatillo Salsas, Guac and Salad
We had like 4 lbs of tomatillos to deal with, so it was salsa time! I made one raw salsa and one cooked version, and a quick guac over leftover rice and beans. The cooked salsa definitely wins this contest. Raw tomatillos kind of squeege me out.

I'm getting so nervous for VEGANMOFO!!!! I need to sketch out a bunch of posts so that I don't fall ridiculously behind. I'm scared!

Also this week, ThePPK forums are featuring Veganomicon as the cookbook of the week to use, so stay tuned for some new-to-me awesomeness from the vegan bible!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Roasting Vegetables and Some Savory Lentils

Last week as I was having that panic stricken moment of "OMG there are too many vegetables in my fridge what do I do, let's just go out to eat instead." I talked myself off of that ledge with the foolproof idea of just throwing them all in a pan with olive oil and salt, roasting them at 400F for about an hour or so, and reaping the deliciousness afterward.

This incarnation of OMGVeggies includes:
Yellow Onion*
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes*
Golden Beets*
Cubed Herb Tofu**
Olive Oil
Smoked Paprika
Salt and Pepper

I also made some roasted yukon gold potatoes*** with rosemary* and garlic* and some Garlicky Kale (Farmers Market) with Tahini Dressing (from VWaV). Yum! The cherry tomatoes burst during the roasting and mixed with the olive oil for this sweet tomato-y fantasticness. All of the veggies turn into golden love nibbles. Seriously, I'm not really a huge fan of beets or cauliflower, but roasted like this, everything just tastes luscious and juicy. Mmmm.

This week I'm participating in a "Giving Our Cookbooks Some Use" challenge over at The PPK Forums - this week the cookbook in question is Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. I have this cookbook, and I've made several recipes, but I love a challenge and I don't use this book as much as I should. So I'm challenging myself to make:
  • Lemon-broiled green beans
  • Blackened Tofu
  • Savory French Lentils
  • Roasted Winter Squash Rings
  • Pan-Fried Temp-teh
  • Teriyaki Quinoa
  • Pumpkin Cheese Pie
Seems kind of psychotic, but I have all this stuff in the house already, so it's just a matter of making the time.

I started off the week right by making the Savory French (Puy) Lentils and Lemon Broiled Green Beans last night. YUM! Both were super easy and very tasty, and I would recommend them to all. I will definitley be making both again. I freaking love lentils, don't you? They're just so dang good.

To round out the meal I made a (huge) batch of this rice mix I bought at Trader Joe's - I think it has red, wild and brown rices mixed together, and I cooked it with some garlic powder, oregano, evoo and salt, so it had some flava on it's own. It went great with the lentils. I also made some quick pickles with our gabillion cucumbers and some radishes, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. The rest are actually pickling in the fridge in jars, woo-hoo! Oh and we had an arugula salad topped with sungold cherry tomatoes and some of the tahini dressing leftover from the kale the other night. It was like a feast, I tell ya! I love fall, so many good things to eat.

* = CSA, Organic!
** = NW/Local Product
*** = Picked it ourselves! Organic.

We went apple and potato picking this past weekend, and also picked up some winter squash. I'm feeling a combo soup coming on...stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mini Meatloaves, Wicked Good

So tonight we had Vegan Dad's Best Ever Vegan Mini-Meatloaf. It's pretty much the best ever, it's no lie. I don't know why this time, though, the bottoms of the loaves were burnt to a crisp! Luckily the burny part peeled off pretty easily, but strange. I think my oven racks are all whacked out and that the rack was too close to the heating element. That's what I'm going with anyway.

We also had some delicious Smoky Kale & Chard (Vcon Collard recipe; both were local!) and some fabulous mashed taters that We! Picked! At! The! Farm! this past weekend. So fun!

I just realized that all the major parts of this meal were local - even the tempeh is a NW product. Yay!

I also just want to give myself a green pat on the back for two things.

1. Silas and I rode the bus to Pike Place Market today. I love the bus! Every time we ride it, I'm put in a good mood. It's so mellow to be able to just sit back and relax, look out the window and be right next to Silas instead of feeling so far away in the car. Yay public transportation! And we purchased local produce at the market to boot (kale, blueberries). We saw fun musicians and danced. A great outing.

2. I remembered to bring containers to the store today for bulk!!!! Yay! I've been meaning to do this and kept forgetting. But today I brought plastic and glass containers for my bulk dishwasher detergent, oatmeal and peanut butter. Super stoked to remember.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Photos galore

I am so hopelessly behind on the blog, that I've decided to just do an uber-photo post. So here it is: what we've been eating at home the past month or so.

Vcon's Seitan Picatta!
So freaking delicious. I actually used the seitan recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes, which might just be my favorite. But mmm, what's not to love about lemony-white-winey-capers-and-olive sauce?! OMG, I want it every day. Served over a bed of mashed taters.

Down Home Summer Supper

This meal was actually kind of disappointing. No matter what I do to BBQ tofu, it's just always bland. And it's not the BBQ sauce, because this was awesome (jarred, but we LOVE it). I even froze the tofu first this time, but still, just not very BBQ-y. Anyway, also featured is smoky-garlicky kale (Vcon collards recipe) and a tomato cobbler - kind of a flop. Wedged tomatoes topped with a cornmeal-biscuit type cobbler crust. Just no there there. At least the kale was great!

BBQ Pizza

Kind of another flop! The crust was frozen, from our natural foods co-op. Not sure why, just wasn't lovin' it. Too wheat-y. The other problem is that I made the sauce in the crockpot, but when I was ready for pizza the sauce hadn't reduced enough and was too watery*. This made for very dry, wheat-y pizza. Topped with sauteed mushrooms, patty-pan squash and basil.

*Just wanted to note that after cooking in the crockpot all night with the lid off, the sauce was reduced and perfect! We froze almost four quarts of sauce. Yay, local food for winter!

Tofu Tostadas
This we made so long ago that I'm a little sketchy on the details. But I think it was the enchilada tofu from Louise Hagler's Tofu Cookery (best! tofu! ever!) on a corn tortilla with some sauteed garlic, mushrooms and squash, topped with chopped butter lettuce and guac. YUM!

Lentil Pancakes of Joy!
This was a hit! Have you ever made lentil pancakes? No, me either. But it's easy! This recipe was from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, one of my faves. It's brown lentils soaked for a while then food processed with some other spices (and water) to pancake consistency. The ultimate glory of this meal was the FABULOUS pear onion chutney that our friends and former neighbors, Rick and Mary, gifted to us on our way out of town. It is SO GOOD I want to eat it on everything. We're currently rationing it. I need to get the recipe and then finally conquer my fear of actually canning something! Oh, and those are some steamed roma beans on the side. YUM.

Ratatouille + Pesto = Bliss
Ratatouille is the answer when you have so many vegetables in your fridge that you would rather go out to eat than deal with them all. It's easy - just slice, toss with copious amounts of olive oil, garlic and salt and roast for an hour and a half or so, stirring every half hour. Pesto on top is seriously the bomb, but it's not strictly necessary. This incarnation we had over brown rice pasta.

More ratatatouille, this time on it's own with a salad. It's versatile, in my opinion.

Olive Oil Veggie PastaThis was a stovetop pasta aglio olio, with sprouted whole wheat noodles. Nothing fancy, just veggies, evoo, garlic and some Parma!

Curried Tofu and Nuts Over Noodles
This was AWESOME! From Tofu Cookery, one of my new favorites! It's reignited my love of the 'fu. I've sort of been a tempeh girl, but this book may just change all that. I'm loving the previously frozen tofu lately, it's just so chewy and fabulous! The tofu is marinated in a combo of peanut butter, agave nectar, curry powder, soy sauce and some other good stuff and served over noodles with almonds and in this case, broccoli. So GOOD!

Blueberry Plum Crisp
With plums from our backyard tree. Delicious! Incidentally, our plum tree didn't produce nearly as much as I thought it would. I think it's missed several years of good pruning and doesn't get enough sun. We were just happy we got any at all! :)

That's tempeh bacon, letuce, cashew cheese and tomato for y'all who didn't know. Some rice pilaf and carrot sticks on the side.

The Ubiquitous CSA Stir Fry
With tofu. Need I really say more?

Chili Mac
Courtesy of Susan V. I liked this recipe, but I wanted it to be something more...not sure what. More pungeant, more intense, something. It was good and saucy, but kind of forgettable. I didn't want to eat the leftovers, ykwim?

Polenta Pancakes
From Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. These were just ok. Polenta (preprepared) sliced, dipped in cinnamon and sugar and fried up quick. Eh. Just not enough something. Just ok. I prefer the regular pancake. Oh, and that's an apricot up there on the plate. For, you know, garnish. :/

Chickpea cutlets?
I swear I can't remember what this is. I think it's chickpea cutlets, not sure. With Good Gravy from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook. Oh, and sungold cherry tomatoes. ;)

Dal over Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower

This I know, because we ate it tonight. :) The Dal recipe was from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison - it was good, but I like my dal a little spicier. This one did utilize coconut cream, though, and how can you go wrong with that?! We had it over Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower, a recipe from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson. Realllllly good. I was a little freaked, because I can count on one hand how many times I've cooked cauliflower, but this was delicious. The cauliflower kind of mushed into the potatoes and you almost didn't know it was there. I used the potatoes we dug ourselves (!!!) at the farm this past weekend - it was so fun. If you get a chance to pick your own potatoes (especially with a toddler) - do it. It's just fun. You get to use a pitchfork!

Ok, y'all. I've signed up for VEGANMOFO, which starts Oct. 1. I'm dedicating to blog every freaking weekday for the month of October. I'm nervous. I really hope I can do it! Wish me luck!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Famous!

photo by heisler, via flickr

Ha ha, just kidding. But I was interviewed recently for local radio when I took a (free!) canning class in town. It was a great class! Took the fear and uncertainty out of the process for me.

Check out my freaking awesome 10 seconds right here. Oh, and I'm Chessa Hickox, in case you were wondering. ;)

I swear to dog I have like 5 gabillion food photos and meals to post. It's just been so _____ around here lately. I promise to be back soon with mucho fabulous food posts.