Friday, December 18, 2009

Simple Tacos

And finally some really simple tacos and an easy salad.  These tacos are so delicious and they are just refried beans and rice warmed in a corn tortilla and filled with avocado.  I expected them to be sort of bland since we were out of salsa, but they were delicious.

The salad was even easier.  Spinach, shredded carrots and radishes, kalamata olives and peperoncinis.   No dressing necessary.

There are also some date nut balls and some broccoli to round out the dinner.  Nom nom.

That's it for now.  I need to upload the pictures I took today.  Brownies.  Coconut milk vanilla ice cream.  Chocolate sauce.  Dinner solved.


After Thanksgiving

After Thanksgiving I was really wanting to make some gravy so I decided to do a sort of "My Thanksgiving".

I made Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance, mashed potatoes, garlicky greens and brocolli.

This was pretty good, but I have to say the recipe for the gravy, makes a ton of gravy.  I wasn't sure what to do with it all (boyfriend hates gravy of course, and greens...).  I decided to try to throw together a casseroley shepherds pie.

This ended up being far more delicious than I could have imagined.

I tossed some green beans and spinach in with the greens, gravy and potatoes.  Wowzer.  I wish I still had some of this too...


Not going to get into too many details, but in the end I got to have homemade, vegan mashed potatoes, stuffing and cooked carrots (the butter version having been my favorite part of Thanksgiving for the past ?25? years...)

Here is a picture of the leftovers with a salad for lunch the next day.

Yum.  I wish I had some of that right now.  I'm kinda hungry.

And here is a different take on leftovers

I love this picture!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie!

I was so excited this year when my mom said that she was going to make me some vegan side dishes for Thanksgiving.  That post is coming next, but meanwhile here is my vegan pumpkin pie which turned out fabulous.  I used the recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking and it was incredible.  I had a couple of issues with the crust and really disliked using vegetable shorting (eew!) but sacrifices had to be made.

Look at that beautiful crust.  Like I'd been doing this for years!

 I was quite disappointed though because I bought some vegan whipped topping that was made out of rice milk and had some high expectations.  Sadly, the product did not deliver.  Good thing the pie was delicious on its own.  No one else had any except my boyfriend had a slice.  I cut the whole thing into slices and froze them in tupperware.  I defrosted a slice whenever I wanted one.  Another post about leftover pie to follow.

Repeat Cookies and My Nifty Mug

The same cookies I made here only a little smaller and under-baked but with my awesome mug I got for free at the 2009 Comic-Con.  The mug is filled with Pumpkin Soy Chai.  A decent indulgence.

Peanut Butter Cups

The first of many posts I have let pile up.

I do not know where this month went, or how it's almost Christmas!

Mostly pictures:

Dark chocolate, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter with a tiny bit of nutritional yeast.  Inspiration from Green & Crunchy.  While these were tasty, there was definite room for improvement.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Chocolate Giveaway and A Good Cause

Wow, I cannot even believe the whirlwind I have been in since I last posted.  Since then I have moved, cleaned the hell out of my old apartment, been to a concert, been to the ER for my boyfriend being sick, and am currently sick myself.  I had almost forgotten the stress that comes with being busy.  It really makes me appreciate my normal routine of calm evenings at home when I have time to prepare fresh foods and my weekends of leisurely grocery shopping and prepping foods.  These past few weeks I have been eating so many pre prepared foods and I think my body is starting to cry out for better nutrition.   I am still not completely unpacked or settled, but I cooked my first meal on Sunday night that wasn't spaghetti, soup from a can or a burrito.  It didn't turn out spectacularly brilliant, as I was making a tofu scramble and instead of pouring in a handful of nutritional yeast I poured about a cup and a half.  I scraped out what I could and it was decent.  Meanwhile, I have discovered through Shelby that Trader Joe's carries an amazing assortment of vegan products.  Last night I got these mini spinach cheeseless pizzas.

I combined them with some falafel and hummus lettuce wraps and a pickle for dinner last night.  They were incredibly delicious.  My main reason for going though was to see if they had the pizza dough Shelby had blogged about.  Indeed they did.  Hopefully some yummy pizza will be made this weekend.

But, what this post is really about is that Chocolate Covered Katie is giving away chocolate!  To enter, go to this page.  I don't know how many people actually read this blog, but I thought I'd throw it out there in case anyone did.  And while you are on Katie's blog, you might as well take a look around.  She is one of my favorite bloggers around and she is doing an awesomely thoughtful charity fundraiser right now, where you have to do nothing more than read her amazing site.  To read more about it, check out this page.

And I will leave you with the one decent picture I managed to snap during the past few crazy weeks.  This was a simple combination of apples, bananas and cinnamon.  I cannot remember at this point who suggested apples with cinnamon, but it was a great combo!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pizza and Pancakes

The other day I bought some canned pumpkin to make some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  When I opened the can and then looked at the label I noticed that it said it was pumpkin pie filling not pure pumpkin.  This would not have been a problem if I hadn't already added sugar and spices to my mixture!  Luckily I had another can of pure pumpkin in my pantry and I was able to finish the muffins.  But this left me with an open can of pumpkin pie mix.  What was I to do?  It sat in my fridge for a week while I debated between Pumpkin Scones and Pumpkin Brownies and various other pumpkin goodies.  Then this morning I went on a walk and I thought, Pumpkin Pancakes!  When I returned home I made this recipe and let me tell you, this is the pancake recipe I have been searching for since turning vegan.  Since I had a can that had 1.5 cups pumpkin and the recipe only called for .5 cups I tripled the recipe and I am so glad I did!

It seems that most pancake recipes I try turn out not so structured.  They are flimsy and more like crepes, but not in a good way.  These were so thick and full of structure!  I don't know if it was the pumpkin that did this, but if it was I will never make pancakes without pumpkin again!  To top the pancakes I thought something with cranberries would be delicious.  I took a couple of handfulls of frozen cranberries and put them in a small sauce pan with a little bit of agave nectar and let it cook until the cranberries popped.  I also added just a bit of arrowroot powder because in the beginning it looked way to watery but I don't think this step was necessary.

When the first batch was cooked I cut one in half to check how the inside looked.  It looked beautiful and when I dipped it in the cranberry jelly I almost died.  Okay that's a little over the top.  But damn these were good.

Then when I went to transfer the pictures to my computer I noticed that I had completely forgotten about the beautiful pictures I took of the pizza I made last weekend.

 I have had my fair share of failed crusts, but this one turned out mostly decent.  For toppings, there are red bell peppers, red onions, kalamata olives, chard, vegan pepperoni and some vegan cheese.  This pizza was soooo good and I am ashamed to say I ate the whole thing in one sitting.

I am currently working on another pizza but the crust is not showing much potential.  I don't know why I just can't get the hang of kneading....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

This weekend I was perusing the interwebs, looking at random Vegan MoFO, when I came across some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that someone had made from Veganomicon.  They looked so delicious that, had I not been out of cocoa powder, I would have made them right then and there.  Alas, I had to wait a whole 24 hours to make them!  Let me tell you, these cookies were worth the wait.  After I mixed up the dough, I had decided to make 1/2 of them without nuts for my non nut loving boyfriend.  This was before I had given the dough a taste.  Seriously, I could have eaten the whole thing raw it was so yummy.  In the end, I decided to make only 1/3 without nuts which left the other 2/3 all for me (and to share with a few select people). This is very unusual for me.  Generally I will give up nuts in an effort to compromise or at least take the smaller portion, but these were just too damn good. 

Seriously, if you make these be prepared to have someone to share with.  The recipe makes 3 dozen and I easily find myself eating one or two and then wishing they were healthy enough to eat at least one more.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Environmental and Domestic Questions

Yesterday, as I set out to do some baking in my kitchen and began mentally preparing for the exciting journey of moving to a new kitchen, I had my camera out and began taking pictures of things I had questions about.  My hope was that I could post these questions here and see what answers I could get.  If you have anything that resembles an answer, or if you have more questions please speak up.

First off, do you buy spaghetti sauce in jars?  What do you do with empty jars?  For a while I was keeping them.  Occasionally I would use them to drink my smoothies or store my cut up carrots, but now I have so many of them that I do not have uses for that I just cant justify the space they take up in my cupboards.  So last night I put the majority of them in my recycling bin but I was left with this question; are jar lids recyclable?

 I do not believe that they are and so a bunch of these ended up in my trash.

I'd really love it if nothing ended up in my trash so this makes me a little sad.  I know a great solution would be to make my own sauce but I haven't gotten to a place where I have the resources and the knowledge to do that yet.

My next question is this:
How do you do dishes? 

My boyfriend and I have been using the method of running super hot water and then scrubbing each individual dish with a sponge and then drying in a dish drainer.  There is another method which I had toyed with a few times and tried again last night that I think I like, but I do not know which uses less water.  I filled up both sides of the sink.  One side with super hot, soapy water and the other side with just super hot water.  I then put the dishes, a few at a time starting with the least dirty, in the side with the soap to soak a few minutes.  I then scrubbed the dishes in the soapy side and rinsed them in the non soapy side.  This method seems to work really well but which saves more water?

Next up is kitchen cleanup.

Do you use cloth towels in your kitchen instead of paper towels?  How do you go about it?  Do you always have a semi dirty towel laying around to clean up spills or drop to the floor if you drop something down there?  Or do you just use a clean towel anytime you have a mess?  Or do you use a sponge to clean up messes?  I use towels for cleaning up, drying vegetables, pot holders, etc.  When they are dirty, they go in here:

And once a week I wash what we dirtied for the week.  I would like to hang dry my towels so that they do not have to use the energy of the dryer, anyone have any tips on that?

Next up is this guy:

Anyone use a blender?  My question is, how do you wash it?  Do you take it apart every time?  Do you give it a quick rinse with some soap and hot water?  I took the base apart one time to wash it and, I may be paranoid but I felt like it lost some of its stability when I did so.

Anyone have a pizza stone?  This is technically called something else (which I can't remember) but it is similar to a pizza stone and that is what I use it for.  Last time I used it I got tomato sauce burnt all over it.  I am pretty sure you are not supposed to wash it with soap, and I don't really think that would do anything anyway.  I tried scraping it without much luck.  I believe the solution will involve high heat, but I am unsure.

Has this ever happened to you?
That's it for my questions.  I really appreciate any tips or tricks or answers anyone can give me.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dinner and a smoothie

Today at the farmer's market I got some brussel sprouts which I thought would be nice for dinner.  I used the recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance.  I also threw in some cauliflower to satisfy my other half who is not the biggest fan of the sprouts.  I thought that these along with some nuggets would be a pretty good dinner.  Then I got to thinking that a salad would be nice as well.  I bought tons of lettuce today but not too many things that I wanted to add to a salad.  In the end I decided on a strange to me combination of lettuce, walnuts, raspberries and balsamic vinaigrette.  After I had the salad assembled I kept looking at it and trying to figure out what I could add to it to make it seem more appealing.  I decided to just try it as it was and surprise, surprise, it was delicious! 

After I finished eating this I didn't feel quite full.  I was tempted to smash up some raspberries and eat them with another one of these cinnamon rolls but since I had already had 2 for breakfast I didn't think it was very appropriate.  So I thought.  And I thought.  And I went into the kitchen with the intention of making some sort of a smoothie.  I pulled out some frozen cherries and some soy milk and continued to think.  I tried to figure out what I could include with those two items to make something yummy.  Then it struck me.  I had a little bit of a package of chocolate pudding mix left and so I would make a chocolate, cherry shakey, smoothie, puddingy thing.  I added some arrowroot powder for thickening though I think the pudding mix already had a bit of a thickener in it.

And voila

This was sooo good.  Everything balanced really well.  I had just enough pudding mix left to not overpower the cherry and the soy milk made it so creamy.  It was quite a lot like a milkshake.  I only wish I had enough to make more!

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I have been contemplating vegan cinnamon rolls for the past 3 weekends.  I read and re-read multiple recipes to try to find the perfect one.  In the end I mostly used this one but I also infused it with this one and this one.  I used a total of 4 cups of flour, a mix of bread and whole wheat pastry.  I used a little more than a half cup of soy milk which I heated with the earth balance.  In the end I am not sure exactly what I used.

I have a not so good relationship with kneaded bread.  No one has ever shown me how to do it in person and I almost always feel my dough comes out too tough.  I let this dough rise for just over 2 hours before I gave up and put it in the fridge to come back to in the morning.  This morning I rose at 5:30 by pure luck and put it in my oven with the light on and went back to sleep.  When I got up at 7 I was still fearful of disaster.  The dough didn't look very much like the dough in the video on the first recipe page.  It looked a lot tougher.  But I decided at that point it was time to at least attempt the cinnamon rolls.  So I pulled the dough into a rectangle and covered it with melted earth balance, sugar and cinnamon and rolled it up.  It seemed a little short so I rolled it over a couple of times to stretch it out.  I then cut it into 12 slices and placed them into a pan coated with earth balance and sugar.  I left them to rise for 45 minutes with very low hopes of any real rise.

Surprisingly enough, when I came back:

Fairly nicely risen rolls.

After 30 minutes in the oven I was very pleasantly surprised to find this sight awaiting me.

 Not only did they rise, some of them rose too much.  Here's a better shot of what I mean.

It cracks me up how the front right one is just about perfect and the back left one is popping out completely.

Feeling incredibly victorious, I frosted them up with some tofutti cream cheese and powdered sugar and ate what is surely one of the best things I have ever baked.  The texture was perfect.  The flavor was wonderful.  The center?  Divine!  The best part is that I believe that I can do this without a recipe next time!  Learning is fun.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mini Tofu Quiches

The other day I bought 3 green bell peppers because it was a good deal.  When I got home I had no idea what I was going to do with 3 bell peppers when my boyfriend doesn't even like them.  I thought about stuffing them but that didn't really sound that great.  Finally Monday night I decided to slice them and roast them with some red onion and mushrooms to eat along with the cheetahs.  I had a lot of that mixture left over today along with some broccoli and cauliflower from this and I thought it would all make a nice filling for some tofu quiches.

I used this recipe from Fat Free Vegan.  I really upped the veggie proportion and so they didn't stick together quite as well as they should have but they still turned out delicious.

I meant to put some spinach in them as well but I forgot which was good in the end because I already had a huge pile of broccoli, cauliflower, tofu scramble with chard, bell peppers, red onion and mushrooms.

To compensate for the forgotten spinach, I decide to serve them over spinach.  This turned out to be a fantastic idea.  Nom

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheetah Bagel

Last night I made baked sweet potato chunks based off of Snack Face's method.  She calls them cheetahs.

I had a few leftover so I decided to try this out.

This was a very unusual breakfast for me (scatterbrain moment, did you know unusual has 3 u's in it!?).  It combined so many things that I wouldn't really think to combine.  It was really quite good though, and with an apple to go with it, a very filling breakfast.


For my final post of pictures I took this weekend, I have a few products I would like to review/discuss.
First is this tea that I got on my way home from work on Friday.  At Henry's they were on sale for $1.50 and each one had an attached coupon for $1.00 off making them $.50 each!  I don't drink much other than water but I do like tea so I grabbed a couple to try.

This one is pomegranate cherry blend.  This is the listing of ingredients other than tea leaves.  A few more than I would like and I'd prefer sugar not be so high up there, but overall not sooo bad.  According to Wiki, manioc root starch is made from yucca root.  It is also the same thing that is used to make tapioca balls for use in boba. 

Although I experiment with different non dairy milks, this is the one I tend to get most of the time.

And here is why.  Two ingredients.  Everything else has sweeteners or thickeners...I really should just make my own.

Sprouts had a new size of canola oil which was quite a bit cheaper than buying the small size.  Once I made this purchase however, I got to thinking about how fast this oil would go bad and whether or not it was indeed a good purchase.  Isn't fresh oil better?

Also, I bought this coconut oil, took it home and stored it in my pantry.  When I came back the next day, it was totally melted.  It says no need to refrigerate, store in cool, dark place.  Anyone know why this would happen?  Is it still good?  I was under the impression that coconut oil was supposed to stay semi solid.

That's it for now.  Be back soon with this mornings breakfast after I go put dinner in the oven.