Wednesday, October 14, 2009

failing at vegan mofo

It's cold outside. We are scraping by on very little money this month. Not many groceries (ok, zero groceries) have been bought. This is all I want to eat:
chowdah

But we're out of tofu and mushrooms. That's another version of the manhattan style chowder from the idiot cookbook, by the way. We didn't have spinach, so we added (the last of our) frozen green beans. There's also some cubed silken tofu in there and some (bargain bin) shiitake mushrooms.

It's just been a lazy fall around here so far. We need to get motivated to be more creative. I guess I'm just pouty because I've gotten 3 new cookbooks in the last couple months (Vegan Brunch, Everyday Vegan, and Urban Vegan), and can't make pretty much anything in them since I can't go on a huge grocery binge. Bummer!

Oh, ok, Woe is me, I know. Hopefully I'll get out of my funk and have something good to post soon. Complaining gets me nowhere!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vegan Mofo day 7: get your orange on.

It's getting to be that time of year when I get super excited about all things orange and sweet and fabulous. Pumpkins and winter squash, my friends. This past weekend I attended the Pumpkin Festival in Milton, WV with Michael and our friends Becca and Max. If you remember from last year, we mostly go in order to buy locally made foodstuffs like cornmeal and pumpkin butter and salad dressings and whatnot. This year there were pumpkin milkshakes...everywhere. Michael and I got a little sad that we couldn't have one, so a couple days ago I got the fixings to make them ourselves!
punkin.

Also showcased is some lovely pumpkin butter from the festival. The milkshakes were super easy to make...I didn't measure (of course), but it's just vanilla soy ice cream, pumpkin puree, some soymilk, and a little bit of pumpkin pie spice. Yum! They were especially yummy paired with some vegan gingersnaps we found at the store. Next time I want to make a blizzard-style thing with a thicker mixture and some crumbled gingersnaps added to the whole shebang. This was a perfect treat on an evening where my throat was feeling crappy and sore. And probably healthy too - I mean you never know.
punkin's favorite cousin, butternut squash

I am a huge butternut squash fan. The eating of them, that is. I really hate dealing with the preparation, but luckily, Michael made this dinner for me on the first evening that I was feeling sick. He roasted the squash with some olive oil and just a pinch of cinnamon sprinkled on top. It was perfectly cooked...tender and sweet. Mmmm! He also whipped up the lemony roasted potatoes from Veganomicon and a felafel loaf from a box mix to which he added some chickpeas, peppers, onions, and tomatillos. Luckily, my cold is mostly in my chest (luckily?) so that I can still taste stuff. This was an excellent and filling meal. Those potatoes are spectacular. If you haven't tried them yet, you should!
super sick meal

Another night when I was still feeling icky and Michael wasn't feeling too hot either, we just had a simple supper of storeboughts. That's butternut squash soup from Imagine, some roasted pine nut hummus, and Triscuits. Super easy to make and to eat. Sometimes we just don't feel like cooking. It happens, people.
almost as good as winter squash - sweet potatoes

This is something I made before we got sick, but it is completely worth mentioning and also falls under the category of wonderful orange foods. This is the cumin-lime tofu from VegNews. You guys should totally sign up for their newsletters and join the recipe club, because they send you all these awesome recipes straight to your inbox and they rule! This tofu was out of this world delicious. They suggested pairing it with sweet potatoes, so I made a mash of sweet potatoes and a regular potato or two. That's lightly steamed broccoli with lemon zest in the back. I can't wait to make this one again. So good! I can't link to the recipe because it's only in my email and not on their site, but that's just another reason why you should sign up yourself!

Feel like making something orange for dinner? What are some of your favorite ways to cook these squashes? I need suggestions, so I don't get sick of them by January!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vegan Mofo day 4: so much for that!

Despite all my precautions, I made the mistake of kissing my lovely fiance Friday night and was sick by Saturday morning. Lame! I've just got a nice cough now, not nearly anything so bad as what he had, but yesterday was icky. Since I'm too lazy to upload the pictures from my camera of dinner last night (which I didn't even make since I was laid out on the couch), here is a conciliatory photo of some cupcakes I made with my mom last weekend:
faceplant.

These are the chocolate cupcakes and peanut buttercream frosting from VCTOTW, which I got my mom for her birthday. She is cupcake obsessed these days, which is pretty rad. Also, these were the first ever cupcakes I made from the book myself, a couple years ago, but mine were ugly and didn't have sprinkles.

I wish I had one now. Instead...more tea for me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan Mofo day 1: i'm back.

I figure the best way to get back into blogging is to start up with Vegan Mofo again. I know I've been a terrible bloglady as of late, but I do have a reason or two. September was a bit insane. My birthday was at the beginning of the month and I got...engaged! Yep, Michael popped the question and I said yes and ever since, the wedding (ok, mostly the food) is all I can think about. We're getting married next October, I have a year to plan, and it is consuming most of my waking thoughts. So...excuse my little absence from the blogworld last month. I've still be cooking and eating and farmers marketing, so let's jump right in with a quick overview of some tasty things that have been brewing in our kitchen.

Might as well start with my birthday foods.
what better way to begin a post than with cake?

Excuse the crap photo of my lovely birthday cake. This is our family's (accidentally vegan) wacky cake that I have been eating since my very first birthday (presumably). My mom dutifully makes this for me every year, even though I'm 27 years old and living 3 hours away. I think it's because the last time I tried to make it, I royally screwed it up, thus disgracing my family name. Anyway. She now tops it with the chocolate buttercream icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World...and it is even more divine than ever. We also found some sorbet (raspberry and lemon) to go along nicely. And she made two cakes, so Michael and I ate on this for over a week. (My mom rules.)

That evening we went out and I forgot to take pictures of my Mexican veggie pizza, but Michael and I made a trip to Athens, OH a few days prior and I remembered to bring my camera.
best balls on the planet

We traditionally go to Casa Nueva for my birthday dinner, as they have nice vegan food and a great beer selection and prepare local and seasonal fare. This year we started with tofu albondigas meatballs in their housemade bbq sauce (which was fantastic) atop a bed of jasmine rice. I could have eaten a couple plates of these and been done with dinner and it would have been just fine. They were amazing. Stayed together perfectly. The sauce was sweet and tangy, with some flavor that reminded me of my mom's Christmas molasses crinkle cookies, which sounds weird, but was in fact awesome.
adorable little salad

Next up was a salad comprised of baby greens and sprouts and a terrific lemon-basil vinaigrette. Perfect.
yum yum

Our entree was a stacked enchilada with seasoned tofu and the veggies of the day (tomatillos and green beans). It also contained a vegan queso cremosa (uh...fake cheese sauce) and was topped with some smoky salsa. The tofu was, as always, delectable, and the addition of those two strangely compatible vegetables was a huge hit. The beans lent a nice crunch while the tomatillos were smooth and nicely sour. I could barely finish this, but finish it I did. We took a nice, long walk afterwards.

Sometime before or after that, I made these things:
sweet and sour chipotle tempeh with sweet potatoes

This recipe is from Eat, Drink, and be Vegan...and I didn't really like it. Michael loved it, don't get me wrong, but it was just a teeny bit too sweet for me. I've never really liked the main part of my dinner meals to be sweet, so this isn't too surprising. Still, it was delicious in its own right. Just not the right that goes up my alley.
this looks like an octopus

But it's not. I made some seitan cutlets (my own concoction) and layered it all up with some couscous and steamed spinach. Michael made a lovely little mango salsa to top it all off. This was a delicious and relatively easy little meal.
goddess garbanzos

Another recipe from ED&BV. The true hero of this mixture is the apples in the salad. They add this lovely little crunch and just a hint of sweet. I'm assuming this is supposed to feed a family of four for 2 days of lunches, but we polished it off in one sitting.
lemony garlic pasta

Gosh, another ED&BV recipe. I had forgotten I made so many this past month! This one was stellar. Absolutely amazing. It wasn't overly saucy, but there was plenty of sauce to stick to the noodles...incredibly garlicky...and some walnuts added a good crunch and some protein. That woman is amazing.

And that's it for me today. I have to be at work in a little bit and Michael is nursing some horrible sickness that has been going around (and somehow I haven't caught it yet). I need to force some soup into him (some impromptu thing I made with fake chicken bouillon, scallions, garlic, ginger, chili garlic sauce, and noodles...and it's pretty tasty for the non-sick, too). I still have backup food to show you, so expect to see me back here tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

back in the swing of things

It has certainly been a helluva month. Moving is a total pain. Compound that with the fact that our apartment still is not technically finished and that they are renovating our whole building... Well, lets face it: it sucks. Not only does it just generally suck, but it sucks the lifeforce out of you. So yes, when we first moved in, I was motivated to make dinners such as this:
tofu-stuffed swiss chard packets with sauteed rainbow stems and couscous

Or this:
crispy baked tofu with fresh salsa (and yeah, more couscous)

Then our meals declined into eating out. Which isn't that exciting in this town, for a vegan. Lots of veggie subs, pizzas, Mexican food, and a helluva lot of beer got us through this month. In the meantime, our dining room table was looking like this quite often:
one simple farmers market trip...

And I was keeping myself busy doing insane crap like this:
peeling and seeding around 6 dozen tomatoes for marinara

So that I could end up with lots of these:
my august project (like the new banner?)

For when veggies and fruit start to get expensive again. Yes, canning has become a new obsession of mine. It makes the kitchen hotter than hell and takes me pretty much a full day to get a single turn finished, but my goodness is it ever satisfying. My parents let me borrow their old pressure canner, and I think I've been making pretty good use of it.

Anyway, eventually we had to go to the grocery store because we ran out of tofu and tempeh. And I decided I was tired of milling around the kitchen every evening without a plan or a clue. When you're tired from work (or from dealing with ridiculous landlord/maintenance people situations), going into the kitchen without a plan is a recipe for nothing but picking up the phone and calling your nearest pizza place. So, with the help of a few newly purchased cookbooks (Greek and Jewish vegetarian [blah, but whatever] cooking! a tofu cookery! a book on how to cook every single vegetable ever!...there was a booksale this past weekend.) and an old favorite (Eat, Drink, & be Vegan), I made a grocery list, and a plan. So far so good, I might add, even with a little improvisation.

At the farmers market on Saturday, these people convinced Michael to buy 3 eggplants. Imagine my complete and total dismay, since we both allegedly hate eggplant and neither of us can figure out how to cook it so that it's not completely disgusting. The farmer and his wife were very devious though, luring him in with fairy-tale visions of layered eggplant parmesan and luscious textures and...ooey, gooey cheese? Well, good thing I went to the grocery store, at least, so I could get a package of Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella for this (in my opinion, doomed) venture. Well, when it came out of the oven, it did smell awfully good.
what lies beneath the layer of breadcrumbs?

We tasted cautiously. To our delighted surprise, it was absolutely, perfectly wonderful! The eggplant was simply velvety. It was smooth and tasted like nothing either of us had ever had. And I get to take most of the credit here, since I learned about salting the eggplant before Michael ever showed up to help me layer the casserole. Salting the eggplant is key, obviously. I let those forkers sit for an hour in a crapload of salt and then we rinsed, squeezed, and patted out all the extra moisture. We got 2 layers of eggplant with 3 eggplants (small ones, though, really). In between were sauce, the FYH cheese and some vegan parmesan, a sprinkling of Italian parsley and basil, and a layer of garlic (also layered all that on top again). Finished with a coating of whole wheat breadcrumbs and baked at 350F for about one hour.
like how we went old-school shoney's with the kale garnish?

Ok, so it isn't too pretty. Guess what? Most of the totally awesomest food we make and enjoy isn't. That didn't stop us from eating the entire pan in one sitting. (It's all we had for dinner though, so that might be excusable.)

Next up on my list for dinners was the Palak Soyabina Panira from ED&BV. With a little prep time, it came together in an absolute snap and was delicious to boot.
green mound of glory

I was impressed with myself for two reasons here. Actually 3.
1) I didn't burn down the house when I fried the tofu. I also didn't burn the tofu.
2) I didn't mess with the recipe, except to leave out the cloves (allspice already has cloves in it, and we are clove-phobic around here).
3) I had the brilliant idea of serving this with quinoa instead of rice.

The quinoa added a nice crunch and some extra protein (to make up for our lack of protein from the eggplant parm night). Plus, quinoa is a lot faster to whip up than brown rice when you realize you forgot to make anything to serve with your spinach goo. The recipe was awfully nice though. Slightly spicy and not the typical curry flavor. And easy. Yet another ED&BV recipe that was a hit in our house.

When I was grocery shopping, I tried not to impulse buy too much (which, I'm sure, is why I ended up coming home with 2 pints of ice cream, soy pudding, and a variety of Cliff, Luna, and Bumble bars...sheesh), but I could not pass up two packages of oyster mushrooms for the low, low price of $1.85 each. They're usually almost $4, so I snatched them both up in the hopes of finding some clever use for them. Michael took care of that with the idea of a Manhattan clam(less) chowder. Lighter than my winter-time favorite of New England chowder, and finding that we already had all the ingredients except for crushed tomatoes, I was all for it.
yes, we are still eating soup in august

Nice and tomato-ey with lots of hearty veggies in a surprisingly tasty broth (we used the recipe from the idiot cookbook [you remember...that one with the stupidly long name, but lots of simple and yummy recipes in it]), we thoroughly enjoyed eating bowls of this throughout the evening as we hung out with friends and had a few beers. Prefaced by a simple ceasar salad (recipe from the uncheese cookbook), it was another easy and delicious summertime meal.

Yes, I realize that cooking from cookbooks isn't always the most creative way to go in the kitchen. But honestly, sometimes it is just so much easier to go in with a plan. Michael and I have the list of recipes (headed by each cookbook) magnetted to the freezer door. We cross them off as we go and have assigned recipes to certain days, depending on who will be home to cook them and what time each of us gets off work that evening. There are some more involved meals (which are going to be made on days one of us isn't working and has more time in the kitchen) and some super fast and easy meals for nights that we both work until 9 or later. That way, we are garaunteed a nutritious, homecooked meal every night. Just look on the fridge and see what's for dinner. What could be more simple, delicious, cost effective, and healthy?
an artful arrangement of our veggies and fruit, by Michael

Continue enjoying your summers, everyone. And if you're pretty much sick of the heat (like me), don't worry. Fall casserole weather is right around the corner. Pretty soon you'll be wondering what on earth to do with all that butternut (instead of summer) squash.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

bear with me!

We did, in fact, get the apartment. The past three weeks have been a frenzy of packing, moving, unpacking, and figuring out where to put stuff. We've been eating a lot of salads and sandwiches and fake meat and chips and salsa or hummus for dinner. I have not forgotten the blog or my lovely readers! Things are just hectic at the moment. Hopefully, by Monday, Michael and I will be more settled, less busy, and more apt to cook instead of put together tables and chairs and arrange furniture and corral cats and clean up endless messes. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Review: Nasoya Silken Creations

Nasoya contacted me awhile ago to review their new Silken Creations. I was admittedly curious about them anyway when I saw them in the store, so I jumped right on it. What could be better then easy dessert? Nothing, that's what. The first sweets attack hit a couple nights after we bought the packages, and Michael wanted to just eat the vanilla as straight up pudding. Fine with me! I wanted to see what the texture was like directly out of the package anyway. And there is truly no faster way to cure a sweets craving than 'open...eat'.
love at first bite

We grated a little fresh nutmeg onto it in order to at least have a slightly more complex flavor dimension. And it was surprisingly delicious! I do admit that at first I was a little weirded out by eating...well, basically silken tofu right out of the package. But don't be deterred! The flavor of the vanilla is right on target, and nicely sweet. The texture was like slightly runny pudding. Like when you make pudding, but can't wait for it to set up all the way, so you just eat it anyway. Don't act like you've never done it.

Next I really wanted to see how this stuff set up when baked. Naturally, a chocolate pie was in order.
heaven

Nasoya nicely puts a couple of recipes on back of all the packages, and the chocolate came with a nice basic pie recipe and a minty frozen pie recipe. We didn't want to wait for the stuff to freeze that night, but we did want a mint chocolate creation...so we combined the two. We blended the tofu with some cornstarch and mint extract, poured it in the shell (yeah, that's storebought, sue me), and baked it. Waiting for it to cool was absolute torture, but worth it. Look how well it set up:
i ate both of those

Oh, I forgot that we also added about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to the mixture before baking. If only I'd had some soy whipped cream to go on top...alas. It was perfect as is. The chocolate flavor rules. (I've also eaten this one straight out of the package and it makes an even better pudding than the vanilla.) And you guys. This was so easy. This pie has literally 4 ingredients, and that's only because we made it complicated. If you leave out the mint extract and chocolate chips, it's even easier. So good. This pie did not last 24 hours, by the way. The chocolate was by far mine and Michael's favorite flavor.

It took me awhile to think of what I wanted to do with the strawberry. I'm not a huge fan of fruity/sweet things unless someone else is making them. They tend to be complicated with all kinds of peeling and chopping and cooking down. Granted, there was no need for that in this instance, but because of my general aversion to working hard and making fruity desserts, I had a serious lack of recipes in mind for this. Luckily, there are loads of recipes up at the Nasoya website, and their lovely PR person steered me in the right direction. I knew I'd be making this one as soon as I read the ingredients.
strawberry lemonade pops!

1 package of the strawberry tofu and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Gotcha. I also wanted to see how well it froze and how that affected the texture, so I could give a well rounded review. Guess what? It freezes really well. It does lose a bit of its creaminess, but I like the icy texture of these popsicles. I do have to say, to be fair, that the strawberry flavor was my least favorite. I think it had a bit of an artificial taste that left me wanting more... More chocolate, that is. Although maybe it would be better in something baked.

Still, I wholeheartedly say that Nasoya Silken Creations are definitely the lazy girl's guide to fast and easy desserts, without sacrificing any on flavor, especially the chocolate and vanilla. I can't wait to try more. Frozen chocolate/blueberry pops! Vanilla/peach pie! Chocolate/vanilla swirl frozen pie of greatness! And other things besides pie and frozen pops, that I will think of once my brain wakes up! So buy without fear, my friends. This stuff is good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

what to do with all those veggies?

First off, I would like to say that I am so excited, because I've fallen in love with a new apartment.  It is consuming all of my waking (and sleeping) thoughts.  Michael and I are going to look at it today, as he hasn't seen it yet...and everyone should cross their fingers for us that we decide to get it and are able to move into it in 2 weeks time.  Because it would be so awesome.  Even though the kitchen is rather small.  I don't know where on earth I would put things like this rad farmers market haul:
beets, tomatoes, potatoes, summer squash, purple peppers, spring onions, and cabbage

more tomatoes, including adorably colored little ones, new potatoes, more purple peppers, green peppers, white cucumbers, and a ginormous zucchini

There is barely enough space in our kitchen for it all.  That's our haul from Saturday...we spent $30.  Which isn't too bad, considering how many tomatoes and peppers we got.  I already started freezing some peppers (this new place, should we choose to get it [hope!], is only 2 blocks from our current apartment, so transporting food and frozen stuff won't be a problem, thankfully) so that we'll have plenty when it's after their season and they get all crazy expensive in the grocery store again.  

Anyway, you might wonder what we do with all these veggies during the weeks, that we have to buy so many every Saturday.  Well, like I said, we freeze some (cabbage, besides the peppers).  And we eat a lot of them (um, tomatoes) on sandwiches.  But sometimes it's nice to do something a bit fancier.
scalloped pofabutatoes

Michael loves potatoes.  And I love noochy cheeze sauces.  Other scalloped potato recipes we've tried have really fallen short of both our expectations, but I found this one at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  Anything that Susan stamps with her little girl's approval...yeah, we'll love it.  And this was certainly a hit.  We totally finished that whole pan in one night. 
soup?  in the summer?

Hey, guess what?  Soup is easy.  We ate this summer squash soup, also from fatfreevegan.com, along with the potatoes.  I made mine a little differently...leaving out the celery (didn't have any), adding some zucchini and more broth.  Then I stupidly added a bunch of cayenne to it (I honestly don't know what possessed me) and some garlic powder (which got a little pervasive).  Still, the soup was awesome.  It was so creamy...velvety, almost.  I never thought that summer squash would make a good soup, but there you go.  It does.
cheezy potatoes of awesomeness

You can seriously count on Susan to make a ridiculously fabulous, failproof recipe.  I don't think I've ever tried anything of hers that I didn't like.  The woman should write a cookbook.

But honestly, all I've really wanted to eat since July started is stuff like this:
raw, honest veggies

Michael and I both work a lot of evenings now, which means that one or both of us don't get home until after 9, which in turn means that we are tired.  One night I got off work at 11:30 to fine this lovely raw and fresh plate of awesomeness.  On top are zucchini shreds, something I've fallen in love with recently.  Super thinly sliced (you'll need a mandoline) raw zucchini and summer squash make a lovely little salad with a little olive oil, vinegar, and thinly sliced basil.  Don't get me wrong, those tomatoes were rad, too, but I am a tad bit obsessed with that salad for now.  

You can even see it here, blurred in the foreground:
another very late night dinner

You'll have to pardon the crappiness of this one...it was seriously like 2 in the morning when I took that photo.  But yeah, you see?  If I'd been taking photos of everything we eat recently, you'd be seeing it a lot more (but we've been doing reruns, like ruebens and such).  Anyway, this scramble was super tasty.  It had been awhile since we had one...but the real star of this meal was those potatoes.  Yeah, they're roasted, but we microwaved them first so they only took like 10 minutes to roast in the oven.  Smart, eh?  Anyway, they only have some seasoned salt, pepper, and paprika on them, but they are so, so good.  

Next up is yet another Michael dinner (he's been terribly helpful lately with me working evening shifts).
cabbage rolls!

Apparently, these were a pain in the ass to make because they have a lot of preparation, but all I had to do was enjoy them, so...  Anyway, they're stuffed with some sort of tempeh/tahini mixture and they were a totally rad use of a giant head of cabbage we had from another market haul.  So yummy!
fake meat - the ultimate in laziness

I ventured to the grocery store last week to pick up fruit and some veggies we can't get at the market, and got some sweet stuff on sale.  Like those fancypants carrots and fresh brussels sprouts, and uh...  some fake chicken breasts.  They have Gardein stuff in our Kroger now, which is highly exciting, but then also bittersweet, because it's madly expensive.  There was a dollar off coupon on this package I got (2 chicken patties in a Tuscan sauce) and I was mega tired, so I splurged the $4 on them.  And they're really good!  The texture is a little too meaty for us (checked and then rechecked the package after cutting into them...but they're vegan for sure), but the flavor was nice and the sauce they came in was seriously delicious.  It reminded me a little of a Lean Cuisine sauce...which for most of you probably sounds totally gross, but I lived off those things for about a year before I met Michael, so it was sort of a fond memory.  I mean...sort of.  Anyway, I also made the mustard sauce from Veganomicon (my favorite sauce, ever) to go with the steamed carrots and veggies.  All of it mixed together was pretty damned phenomenal.
openfaced sammies are sammiches too.

I'm going to finish up with a couple of lunches.  I've been trying to do hearty, but not weigh-me-down lunches recently, as Michael's been working doubles and then I go in to work in the evenings and need to be filled up without feeling like taking a nap afterwards.  I made this openfaced sammich twice this past week.  We had some leftover rye bread from ruebens.  Topped with some red pepper and green olive hummus that I'd made, fresh red tomatoes, and fresh basil, it hits the spot, fills me up, but leaves me ready to go for the rest of the day.  
more lunch options

I made this curried chickpea salad a couple weeks ago, and it was awesome.  I never ate it on bread, just like this, in big clumps, and I was happy as a clam about it.  I honestly don't remember what all is in there...chickpeas, onions, celery, carrots, vegenaise, leftover fake cheese that we'd made, lemon juice...and lots and lots and lots of curry powder.  And some cayenne, for a kick.  Paired with some fresh veggies, like this white cucumber (green on the inside!), it's terribly tasty.  Nom.

So don't forget to eat lunch.  And be creative with your veggies.  And...wish us luck on the apartment again!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

review: Vega Smoothie Infusions

Hello there.  In case you hadn't noticed...it's summertime (at least around here).  You know what summertime means for a lot of people?  Increased smoothie action.  Yeah that's right.  We all know that smoothies are pretty darned good for you, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little power punch to your morning meal.  In fact...it's an awesome idea.  

Recently, the lovely people at Sequel Naturals contacted me to try and review their Vega Smoothie Infusions.   

These infusions are the power punch I'm talking about here.  They are full of awesome stuff such as protein and fiber and Omega 3s.  They're organic and completely allergen free.  So, uh, you basically have no reason to not add them to your smoothies.  In fact, if I may quote, 'each serving of Vega Smoothie Infusion provides more protein than 2 large eggs, more fiber than 2 slices of whole wheat bread and more Omega 3 than 6 oz of wild salmon.'  Huh.  Take that, omnivores.
my superhero smoothie

Ok, I'll admit, I don't really drink that many smoothies.  It's not that I don't like them, because I do.  I just don't...think about them that often.  And the fruit I buy rarely lends itself to smoothies without being a pain in the butt, like peaches or cherries or pears or whatever.  Actually, that sounds like a delicious combination, now that I'm thinking of it.  Anyway, it's silly because smoothies are so easy to make and so easy to take with you on the go if you're in a hurry and are so awesomely good for you!  Thus, I'm back on the smoothie bandwagon.  The powder provided to me was easily blended up with this combo of banana, peach (no less a pain than usual, mind you), and blueberries and I could barely taste it...though it did have that taste of 'Hey, I'm eating something really healthy.  Cool.'  

But...um...you know what I like about a million thousand times more than smoothies?  
that's right.

Brownies.  So here is the totally rad thing about Vega Smoothie Infusions:  they can be used as a flour substitute for part of the flour in baked goods.  Uh huh.  You read that right.  You can effectively hide the healthy from yourself in a big old batch of brownies, if you so choose.  And if you take that path, I might just say that you are a very wise person.  Since that's what I did.  These brownies were downright amazing.  They weren't too sweet, were super chocolatey, had the best texture of a vegan brownie I've ever had (cakey, but also somehow fudgey...don't ask me how it happened)...  And never have I ever felt so good about eating 3 brownies in one sitting.  I mean...they're healthy.  It just felt right.  It wasn't just me, either.  I made these with my friend Becca and she proclaimed them sufficiently awesome, and I had to basically fend Michael off with a chair to get a freaking picture of them before they all magically disappeared.

And so, I have a recipe for you, in case you already have some of this wonder product.  Oh, and if you don't, I reccommend that you go buy some as soon as possible.  You'd be doing your health a serious favor.  I mean, athletes eat this stuff.  Like, good athletes that are vegan and not into selling you crap like regular athletes are.  Gatorade.  pfffffft.  

Super Brownies a la Jessica  (I adapted their original recipe)

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour, or a gluten free flour)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals)
1/2 cup Vega Smoothie Infusion
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8x8 inch glass baking dish.  Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix the dry in another, then add to wet ingredients in thirds, making sure to not overblend.  Fold in the chocolate chips, then pour mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.  Bake for 35 minutes.  The toothpick won't come out totally clean, if you use that trick.  That's fine.  Allow to cool, if you can stand it, and then gobble them up.  These are lovely with a glass of soymilk, by the way.

All in all, I've been very pleased with my Vega Smoothie Infusion experience.  They make healthy food healthier and junk food healthier and me healthier, all in one go.  Visit their website for more product information!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

featured on vegan.com!

Check it out, folks!  A photo of tofu crab cakes that I posted on my Flickr account was featured by Erik at Vegan.com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

it can't rain all the time...

But it certainly will if it's the fourth of July and you have plans for grilling.
cheating nature

Luckily, Michael and I have this lovely little electric grill (bequeathed to me by my parents) that works just fine in a pinch.  Which is good, because we had some major grill plans.
zucchini/summer squash/seitan kabobs

We'd gone to the farmers market that morning (absolutely no sign of rain at that point, mind you), and bought loads of veggies (see end of post for the haul).  I made a quick half batch of seitan and we kabobed (kabobbed?  can I make that a verb, please?) the hell outta some fresh squash and zucchini with it.  Michael is the official grillmaster because I have ladyhands and tend to get burned.  He probably gets burned too, but whines less about it afterwards.
beautiful spring onions

Hey, guess what?  Spring onions are totally rad when you grill them.  The only bad part is that we ate without knives and you can't really bite them at this point, so be ready to have an entire onion in your mouth for a bit.  Unless you care to use a knife, that is.  (wuss.) 
land of forgotten watermelon

We also grilled watermelon, but were too full afterwards to eat it.  FYI: fresh off the grill, it just tasted like hot watermelon.  
combofabulous

That all combined into this monster plate: steamed green beans with dill and lemon, new potato salad, kabobs, corn on the cob (just...corn), grilled onions, and a fresh white cucumber.  Thinking back, here's what's local from the market: beans, potatoes, squash, zucchini, corn, the onions, and the cucumber.  Not bad, eh?  It was all delicious and I just have to say that we do a pretty darned awesome holiday spread, even when it's just the two of us for dinner.

Oh, almost forgot!  Michael whipped up this lovely antipasta style salad for lunch earlier in the day.
my talented boy :)

Red and yellow tomatoes, yellow beets, white cucumber, green chili, artichokes, and basil with a nice balsamic vinaigrette drizzled on top.  All local except for the artichokes.

As for the market, here's what we got:
squash, zucchini, yellow beets, corn, jalepenos, hot green chilis, spring onions, rhubarb, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green bell peppers, and white cucumbers.

All for $20 on the dot.  I felt a bit nervous about our abundance of tomatoes and peppers and such yesterday (plus was being a lazy bum on the sofa most of the day and didn't feel like cooking anything too involved)...so I asked my good friends of the PPK for suggestions on just what to do with all that veg.  The perfect reply came for...gazpacho!  Honestly, I've never really liked gazpacho (salsa soup, anyone?), but Michael loves it and I needed to use up stuff, so I made it. 
yellow gazpacho

And you know what?  It was awesome!  As a confirmed gazpacho hater, I must say that my gazpacho kicked ass.  So easy too...here's what I did:

Yellow Gazpacho That Is Better Than All Other Gazpachos

3 medium yellow tomatoes
1 medium red tomato
1/4 of a large white onion
1/2 green bell pepper
3 green chilis
1 small cucumber (mine was white)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 -1 tsp cumin (to taste, really)
about 1/2 cup water
2 tsp olive oil
3 or more Tbsp red wine vinegar
juice of 3 limes
salt to taste

Roughly chop your veggies (seed the peppers), put them in the blender with everything else, and blend it.  Yeah, that's it.  Refrigerate it if you want it cold (I did and it ruled).  For a nice chunky garnish (chunks are good, friends), dice up some more tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, cucumber, and a jalepeno, drizzle with lime juice, and add it to your soup.  Mine was mega spicy, but that's the way we do shit around here.

As for the rest of those chilis?  What to do, what to do....
this'll work for now.