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 ''.
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.

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 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, 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 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'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'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.' 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!

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

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.  

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) 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'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.