Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clearing the Cupboards

With the new year approaching I am quite hooked on the idea of simplifying my life. My kitchen is full of random ingredients that I don't use regularly or bought and never tried. I'm also trying to spend as little money as possible. Using ingredients I already have on hand accomplishes both goals. Hopefully in the coming weeks I will be able to post tasty money saving recipes.

Now, of course, I understand that not everyone has the same random assortment of ingredients to use in their pantry but the following two options are made of rather cost effective ingredients whether you already have them or not. They also have the added bonus of being quite quick when all is said and done. Little prep work and not long cooking times.

After a little Google search through my trusted blogs I came across my first victim, err recipe.

Red Gold Black and Green Chili (adapted from Fat Free Vegan)
1 cup hulled barley, soaked overnight, cooked in 4 cups water and drained, cooking time is reduced by soaking
2 14oz cans canned diced tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons water or oil (optional)
3 medium chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce (we have an atomic hot sauce so I used only 1 tsp)
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 1/2 cups (1 can) cooked black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups (1 can) cooked red kidney beans, drained
salt to taste

Heat a large saucepan adding
the 3 tbsp. water or oil if using (I was using a cast iron pot and did not need additional moisture to prevent sticking). Sauté the onions until they are soft; then stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and bell peppers and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and beans to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the corn and the drained barley. Cover and simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld. Add salt to taste.

This ended up filling my 3 qt pot to the brim and I used all my barley. Pearl barley will work just fine in this recipe but hulled is more nutritious. I have noticed that canned tomatoes, frozen vegetables and canned beans go on sale frequently so it's best to grab them when they are reduced so you always have a quick easy dinner in your kitchen ready to be thrown together. I also pounce on dried beans when they go on sale and then cook and freeze them as needed to have beans ready for use in my freezer. Once they are cooked you only need to run them under hot water for a bit to slightly thaw and separate them. Drain and toss them in the pot.

Tonight's dinner made me feel super clever but I can't be the first person to think of this. I'm not a fan of split pea soup. I am also not a fan of canned soup. Now I like soup in general, just not the split pea variety and not canned. Canned is ok in pinch but there is also too much salt. So how three cans of split pea soup made it into my pantry I have no idea. Well I do have an idea and it wasn't mine but I never turn down free vegan food. I figured we would find a use for it and if not we would donate it to the food shelf. Anyway, while at work today I had the bright idea of adding currying the soup. That might actually make it palatable. Ok but what to do with all that extra salt. Potatoes! Potatoes can suck up a lot of salt flavor so once I got home I set out to make mashed potatoes with

Chick & Split Pea Curried Gravy
1 can split pea soup (ours was Muir Glen Organic)
2-3 cloves garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder (start with this and add more to taste)
1 Tb curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked chickpeas

Heat sauce pan over medium heat. If you are using fresh garlic then add this to the pan with a splash of water and heat gently for 1-2 minutes. Empty in can of soup. Continue to heat, stiring occationally until simmering. Reduce heat slightly to keep from burning and add spices (including powdered garlic if using). Mix in well then add chickpeas. Let mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. The timing isn't important but simmering it will allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate off and naturally thicken the mixture and also allows the flavors to blend. Serve over potatoes, rice, veggies, couscous, whatever you can find in your cupboards!
As much as I say I do not like canned soups, they do go on sale frequently and there are so many varieties you can always think of something to add to them to make them a more hearty meal (and to spread out the salt a bit). I didn't measure how much this made. I would guess about 3-4 cups which is easily 4 servings. Since the soup is a fairly blank palate, add whatever your heart desires (and what you have on hand).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Well it's Christmas day at last. After weeks of working the buns off the shopping season has come to a close pretty much. All my plans for Christmas, as usual, went by the wayside. The holidays kicked my tuccas. My family and friends will be receiving their gifts late and I hope they don't mind. Most of my friends understand because I see them often and they know Christmas in retail is insane, especially for those in charge. My family, well that remains to be seen. None of them are here. My husband's family is in Europe and our jobs prohibit us from being with them during the holidays. I'm sure they get that we work a lot. And they must know by now we are crap at organization and timing. As long as everyone knows we think of them often, that's all that matters during this time of year or any time and we do think of them often.

So anyway, on with my Christmas. We've been pretty low key these last few years. Since it's just us and we don't really want for much stuff it's mostly a day of resting, good food, each other's company and A Christmas Story (the only Christmas movie I could seriously watch over and over again each Christmas without getting sick of it and it's the only Christmas movie I own).

For first breakfast we had our usual fruit, a couple bananas and cranberry juice. As I was preparing second breakfast, Lex juiced some oranges on our new kitchen aid juicer attachment and we drank that as preparations continued.

Second breakfast or maybe brunch looked like this
and consisted of Sweet Potato with Cinnamon Drizzle (my drizzle is more of a blob but it was damn good) and Tofu Scram from Get it Ripe and tempeh bacon from VWAV. This was delicious. It's only the 2nd and 3rd recipes I have made from Get it Ripe and both are winners.

One delicious meal is not enough. Not for the first day off I have had in two weeks so on with lunch.

Even though I did not get to prep like I wanted to for all this things came together in time for a late lunch at about 2:30. I was pretty proud of myself.
Dinner is served
We have some teriyaki baked tofu (I used a teriyaki marinade that Lex brought me from the tip top of Vermont), cranberry sauce, Poppy Seed Pull Apart Rolls from the Vegan Brunch testing, the famous green bean casserole, mashed taters with a touch of garlic and loads of chives, on top we have GIR recipe #4- Miso Gravy, and simple mashed rutabaga. This was all awesome and there is plenty of leftovers for later tummy grumblings.

I'm so glad everything turned out so nice. So on to the treats.
There was chocolate of course.
I found the Terra Nostra bars at Healthy Living. We've tried their chocolate before from City Market. They had carried them for a hot minute before they decided not to because they didn't sell fast enough or something. This is what happened with the So Delicious Coconut Yogurt and the Temptation Ice Cream but I'm not bitter (read here, I am bitter but I put up with it because they do still have some good stuff they just irritate me sometimes with their half efforts). The Lindt Dark Santa was a given as it's a delicious chocolate vegan Santa but what made this Santa even more special was my friend Dave adding a filling to this once hollow chocolate figure. Dave makes the most delicious vegan ganache, this one spiked with a little Amaretto. He penetrated Santa's wimpy aluminum foil defences topped it up with insanely good ganache. I mean really, this stuff is easily $3 a truffle good.

For my own homemade goodies I managed to make these ahead of time.
Peanut Brittle
Fudge from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. This was rockin' awesome. Lex used some expletives in a good way to describe it's tastiness.

After all this chocolate craziness you'd think I'd be passed out on the floor in a puddle of my own drool but I do have an unusually high chocolate tolerance which I attribute to my mother who was also a chocoholic.

The only present actually open on this Christmas day was a gift from the inlaws. They definitely get that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and wish me to do it in style.
If you can't tell from the worlds worst picture there we have an apron and oven mitts. This apron is much appreciated as it fits better then the BBQ man style one we currently have. Now we have a more his and hers apron set up. I am especially enjoying this apron for it's kind of vintage look even though it's new. Pretty neato.

I've rambled on enough I think for one post. Now that the holidays are over I hope to get more regular posts in. Even if they all aren't as exciting as this one.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Oh and just in case you were wondering how Ralphie (Peter Billingsley)
is lookin' these days.
Photo courtesy of A Christmas Story House

Thursday, December 11, 2008

and from Austin, TX!

I received my care package (swap organized by Lindsay) from Diann full of awesome Texas-ness. Actually I received this on Friday but am only now sitting my butt down to write about it. I just love care package swaps!
I don't know if you can tell from the picture but this box was big. It's a Zappos box, we're talking boot sized. Just opening it up was lovely. Everthing packed so nicely, a note & post card and a lovely scent. I figured I'd have to dig a bit to get to the bottom of the lovely scent.
A wonderful box of Texas goodness:
Agave Nectar
Blueberry Jam
Cranberry Habenero Jam
Soap (this was the aroma)
Corn Tortillas
Mexican Oregano
Texas Shaped Corn chips
Whole Foods shopping bag
Laura's Wholesome Junkfood cookies

Shortly after opening the box Lex ran off with one of the grapefruits.

I got a kick out of the cornships
They really are Texas shaped! Neato!

Mac got something out of the package too. Remember that ribbon tying it all together from the first pic?
Yup, that is the best thing ever!
The cookies are super yummy. Probably a good thing I can't get them around here or I'd be broke buying them all the time. Lex has already started in on the corn tortillas so if I want one I'd better get in there now. The stolen grapefruit was delicious, the other probably won't be around for much longer. Some oregano has found it's way into some tester chili to be posted at a later date. Mac is still loving the ribbon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's the T-giving

A couple days late but I still gotta share. This was the most stress free Thanksgiving I can remember that I have cooked for. I now understand the beauty of advance prep.

So here's the line up:
Seitan stuffing roulade, Kittee's totally awesome seitan and a bread/lentil/herb stuffing
Green Bean Casserole with home made fried onions from VeganYumYum
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, from Eat Drink Be Vegan by Dreena Burton

So the night before, after work I made the green bean casserole, made the fried onions, cut up the potatoes (store those in water in the fridge), cranberry sauce, the stuffing, caramelized onions for the seitan and the pumpkin pie. It helped that Lex had to go out for a bit so while he was out I just kept cooking. It worked out well as I had very little to do the next day. So we went to beddy bye at around midnightish which is actually pretty normal for us anyway.

Next morning we had a relaxing coffee and a little fruit. Then a killer tofu scramble (tofu, veggie sausage, tomato, avocado, hells yeah. Oh, and some oven home fries. I've found that I really like making home fries in the oven. Cut up chunks of potato, toss them in just enough oil to coat and bake in oven at 400F for 10-15 minutes until they are golden. You can add any herbs you want to the oil as you toss them. The cook just right and have much less oil then pan fried ones. I do accept that classic homefries are an awesome comfort food, no denying that but with all the calories of the holidays I didn't think I'd miss them here. Cooking them in the oven allows you to multitask better as well.

Case and point, while my breakies was cooking away (it only took 10-15 mins) I whipped up the seitan dough, pressed it out into a rectangle on my Silpat and spread the stuffing mixture on top leaving a little border and rolled it up into a frikin huge roast. I set up my biggest soup pot into a steamer. Wrapped the roast in foil and set it to steaming for about an hour and a half. Then we set to eating breakfast. No pictures of that. Sorry.

Around 2ish we headed to our friend's (Megan & Dave) apartment to complete our killer vegan feast. They were just finishing up so we added our green bean casserole to be heated and the roast to finish cooking in the oven with the casserole to their rosemary batard. On the stove some more magic was happening. Home made pumpkin ravioli, a red wine broccoli rabe saute, the potatoes I had prepped boiling away and a bechamel sauce.

While these bits finished up we noshed some super awesome black bean dip (Megan made that).
That's Lex snagging some more dippage.

So dinner is almost ready. Let's meet Megan & Dave's fur babies before we fill our plates and bellies.

Aspen puppy (she loves having his picture taken. She loves love really).
Chloe cat
Poppy cat (Poppy is actually Mac's brother)
Tiger kitty
Ok, enough! Let's eat. Just look at this spread!
And my crazy full plate!
After such a feast we were all pretty much zombies. Then crammed in some pie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sugar Sugar

This month's challenge is Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting hosted by Dolores of Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food. I managed a good result the first try which is great because these days I'm not finding myself with a lot of time (read here retail and holiday season) but I can't let that keep me from a potentially delicious Daring Bakers Challenge. Well I say potentially delicious but I have yet to experience a not delicious challenge so it's pretty much a sure thing at this point.
I followed the recipe pretty closely. First, I halved the recipe just to save the calories during this season of excess. My modifications to vegandom were:
-Earth Balance for the butter in both the cake and frosting
-1 Tb flax meal and 3-4 Tb water for the egg (remember I halved this recipe so you may want to double this for the original recipe which calls for 2 eggs)
-vanilla soy milk for the milk and I also omitted the vanilla since the soy milk already had this
-doubled the baking powder
-a little Mimic Cream in the frosting instead of the heavy cream

So as you can see the substitutions were fairly straight forward. I made mini cupcakes because I haven't made them in ages and they are super cute. To get into the holiday spirit I used gingerbread print ones. Aren't they adorable. I had to eat them right up. The cake came out very nice actually. Quite light in density as well as flavor. The frosting piled on the sugar but that's to be expected from frosting. I give this cake two frosting covered thumbs up.

Happy baking everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This isn't what it looks like. Ok, it is.

So I kinda remember saying during Mofo that I was going to eat a little more healthy this month. That's kinda happened. But then there's this
That may or may not be a plate of fried green tomatoes, mashed taters and jalapeno poppers. In my defense I had green tomatoes to use up as well as a surplus of jalapenos that were just begging for popperdom.

Also, when I said I would be caught up with mofo posts in a week. Well, as you can probably guess by my absence over the last few weeks I am still not caught up. Work is burying me in loads of work in preparation for the holidays. I'm hoping to plow through it and just have normal days at work again soon but we'll see.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

It was my birthday on Friday. I did a little work but over all it was a pretty nice day. It's kinda still going as I just received another gift of yummy chocolate peanut butter bars from one of my work team mates. They are super yum.
I received my present early from Lex. A couple weeks ago he brought home this beauty.
and out of the box.
Actually the rack that it's on is a bit of a present too as I couldn't really keep it on the counter. It's too tall so I can't open the cupboards.

My friend Megan gave me the grooviest My Little Pony card. Do I have to tell you that I loved My Little Pony when I was a kid? I didn't think so. Along with was a rainbow wood spoon. It's so pretty. And a gift card to a local kitchen store Kiss The Cook.
Lex and I met up at New Ethic for lunch. We split a Sweet Chili Burger and Chicken Ranch. So really, you all need to make a trip to Burlington and hit up New Ethic. They are groovy peoples and make some delicious foods.

Back home I had to make some cookies and put that new mixer to use. I also started munching the delicious Pfefferminz bar I received from Amey at Vegan Eats & Treats. Holy hell this is a tasty chocolate bar.
Then, Lex and I went to dinner at Single Pebble. Buddha Beef. Salt and Pepper Tofu. Dry Fried Green Beans. Aw yeah. No pics, sorry. Too busy stuffing my face.

We got out in time for a showing of Quantum of Solace. I think Daniel Craig is the bestest Bond ever.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

End of VeganMoFo 2008

As VeganMoFo '08 comes to a close I wanted to make a quick post thanking everyone for their fantastic stories, insightful product reviews, drool worthy food porn and delicious recipes. I have hundreds of posts still to read. I managed to keep up for about the first week or so but then things just careened out of control but I will keep reading and now that most people will slow down on the blogging I should catch up in another week. The recipes will probably take a year to catch up on but no matter. I love collecting recipes, tried and to be tried.

Congratulations to everyone who acheived MoFoEnlightenment (20 or more posts) during the month. I think we did a fantastic job wreaking havoc on the net for the month. With our excessive posts you can be sure there will be many more hits for vegan related searches. The most awesome thing being that some of these hits will teach nonvegans how unscary we are. Notice I didn't say "unweird" because I myself am all kinds of weird. Even if you didn't make loads of posts, mofo probably got you thinking a little bit more about cooking, about being vegan, about other vegans, about introducing people to veganism, about something! Hopefully everyone will continue with awesome blogginess because I hope to carry on following the journey.

I enjoyed mofo although I am a little glad it's over for now. I work in retail and we are about to begin the crazy season. Although with the economy, it may not be as crazy as hoped. If mofo had been in November there is a distinct possiblility I would not have made it.

Thanks again for an awesome mofo everyone!

Happy Halloween!

It is time again for the little ones (and the not so little ones) to go door to door demanding tooth rotting goodies. They will fill their sacks then go home, or to a friends home, where they will dump out aforementioned tooth rotting goodies onto a surface. Probably their bed if they are home or maybe their floor. Secure in their room where they can stay on their guard and watch all angles of approach for any candy snatchers. They will sort out the good candy from the gross and then attempt to trade the "gross" candy with friends like depreciated currency. Do you remember this? If you are really lucky 10 packets of candy corn might buy you a fun size snickers from your friend's "keep" pile but usually those items are not for sale. You can only purchase from what your friend has deemed "gross" or at least less then good. Often your get rid of pile and theirs has many matching items but if your lucky your buddy actually doesn't like chocolate in which case you have struck gold. This is what parents should be advising their kids on. How to pick trick or treating buddies. Pick someone who doesn't like what you like (like chocolate) so that you can buy all that stuff they don't like with stuff you don't like. You're doing them a favor after all and helping their candy economy.

Ok enough with the trick or treating. I, for the first time ever, made Halloween goodies. Or a Halloween goody. Spiderweb cuppers. I used the vanilla cuppies recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (a crazy awesome book that you should run out and buy right now if you don't have it yet, how could you not have it yet anyway, get a friend to buy it for you if you can't, truly, get the book, bake more cupcakes!). I frosted them with the basic chocolate ganache recipe and helped Mrs Spider build her web with a quickie royal icing.
After webbing we enjoyed a quick fried rice dinner and for desert enjoyed one of these delicious looking treats only to find Mrs Spider had already caught some suculent flies.
Well the next time someone asks you where you get protein you can tell them you pick flies out of spider webs. Ok I'm just being silly. They are just currants but they are almost grossly the size of flies.

Friday, October 31, 2008

You may make a squash lover out of me yet.

I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong. I need to rethink squash. I've eaten it of course. I don't hate it I just don't love it. I'm talking the hard winter squashes, not summer squash and zucchini. I have always eaten some kind of squash with Thanksgiving meal and usually Christmas. More tradition then craving. I am changing my tune now though. Over mofo with all these amazing looking recipes featuring soooo many squishes, I mean squashes. So I decided to try one. It's actually not from a mofoer but some mofos have tried it and verified it's deliciousness so I trusted and went for it.

With one carnival squash at hand I made Vegan Yum Yum's Squash Bisque. Yes I was using a different squash than was called for. Yes I had to scale down the recipe because I only had about 1 lb of squash. Luckily the recipe is all embracing, or very forgiving. It can be both can't it?
See how beautiful it is. So coming from a not-quite-a squash lover, try this soup.

So you need dessert too don't you? Lex though I was making too many chocolate desserts. I that even possible? Well just to satisfy him I threw together some non chocolate cookies tonight. The oatmeal raisin cookies from Eat Drink Be Vegan.
This woman knows cookies! I like that most of the recipes (as in, the ones I've made so far) make one sheet of cookies. They are truly quick recipes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Pizza

I almost miss those Little Caesars commercials.

It is almost as though the Daring Baker gods that be were smiling down on our VeganMoFo-ness. This month's challenge was another no-alterations-needed project. This month we were to make pizza but not just make a pizza. Make real authentic pizza dough and attempt to do the dough toss.

Looking at everyone else posting their favorite pizzas over the month it was so hard to hold back. Yes I could have shared my favorite toppings but to be honest I still haven't nailed down my perfect pizza. I also didn't want two posts to be nearly the same so I held back. This dough does put me a little closer to the perfect pizza.

The dough is made over the course of two days but don't let that put you off. It's not a quick recipe but it's not hard either.

Original recipe taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven if you have one. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Now I've never tossed a pizza dough and as it turns out my dough is a little soft so it's all too willing to be stretched. I got in a couple little bounces on the knuckles before it was ready to go. Any more and I would have been wearing dough bracelets. So that explains the wonky look of my pizzas. I made only two of the six for now. The remaining four doughs are in the freezer for another day so maybe I'll have better luck by the end of those.
This first dough was topped with roasted red pepper hummus, baby spinach, slivers of garlic, seitan strips and a sprinkling of oregano and basil.Pizza number two was topped with baby spinach (can't get enough of the green stuff), olive muffeletta (check out the Vcon recipe!), strips of roasted red peppers. This one was my fave. Oh god I love olives.

sweet & tangy

First off. If you haven't made Kittee's seitan, go, do it now. So easy and so good. Thanks Kittee. Your seitan will become one of my permanent recipes.

Now for my latest recipe. I wanted to use this fantabulous seitan in something super yum. I think I did ok here.
Sweet & Tangy Seitan

1lb seitan, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb mirin
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tb corn starch
sesame seeds
3 Tb sweet chili sauce
2 Tb ketchup
2 Tb agave nectar
2 Tb soy sauce
1/4 cup water

Marinate the seitan in soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and sugar. You can do this for as long as you like.
Mix your flour and corn starch together and set aside. Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside.
Heat large pan or wok with a coating of oil over medium heat. Dredge the seitan in the flour and fry until golden on each side. Set seitan on paper towel or paper bag to drain. Remove the oil from the pan.
Add sauce to the pan and bring to a boil, sauce should thicken slightly. Add the seitan back to the pan and toss to coat. Serve with rice and broccoli or whatever you are inspired to pair it with. This should also work equally as well with well pressed tofu.

note: this sauce makes enough to cover the seitan, if you like lots of sauce then you may want to double this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

After a hard day's work

After a long day of work sometimes involving difficult customers, just a lot of paper work or manual labor. Brain kinda shuts down but tummy still grumbles. That's when the craving for junk food can come in. My junk food of choice? Garden Burger Ribs, Spud Puppies (organic tater tots) and baked beans. This meal is stupid proof (unless you fall asleep while baking the tots).
So my prescription for a stressful day in need of junk food:
-stop at the store on your way home and pick up your three ingredients (this will probably cost less than $10 and you'll get at least two servings out of this)
-when you get home, preheat your oven to the temp indicated on the tater bag
-go change into something more comfortable (bow chicka bow bow)
-come back to the kitchen and dump your tots onto a baking sheet (only dump what you need if you aren't sharing)
-put the sheet in the oven
-grab a plate and prep your ribs and set those in the microwave, don't turn it on yet though
-dump your beans in a small saucepan and heat over medium, give it a stir every now and then but they don't need a lot of attention
-ok now turn on your ribs for 3-4 minutes on high
-tots take about 10 minutes so everything should be ready about the same time. Go pop in a movie, come back and take out the tots.
-Dump your grub on your plate(don't forget to turn off the stove and oven, this is important to remember in your exhausted state) and go relax yo!

Monday, October 27, 2008

a day off

What does a vegan girl do on her day off during Mofo?

First she takes a little trip to South Burlington to visit some places she hasn't been in forever even though they are only 5 (or less) miles away.
I managed to blow $100 but it was fun. I went to Barnes & Noble and it was almost like they knew what books I hadn't gotten yet because Borders doesn't have them and I haven't been shopping online. I couldn't get everything of course but they had 5 or 6 books that I would have bought without a second thought. I couldn't really blow tons of cash (ha!) so I went for lower priced ones so I could get 2. You see my logic here? I picked up A Vegan Taste of Thailand and The Artful Vegan. That's pretty good restraint right? Then I walked a little further along to Healthy Living. I haven't been there since they moved to their new location and everyone keeps saying it's really nice, cool stuff, yadda yadda. Ok, they were right. City Market downtown Burlington has a lot of cool stuff but Healthy Living also has some cool stuff. Both places are good as they each have things the other doesn't. I limited myself to things I can't get downtown and of course tried to show a little restraint.
-Vitasoy Holly Nog (they also had Chocolate Peppermint so I'll need to go back for that)
-Unsweetened MimicCream
-Maine Root Sasparilla
-Grapeseed oil Veganaise (lots of people say this one is better and I usually only get the regular kind)
-So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt in plain, Strawberry Banana, & Raspberry
-Plain vegan gel (I want to try and make trifle like my husband remembers from home)
-another book The New Now and Zen Epicure (it's like they knew I had been looking at this book for a while or something, bastards!)
-smoked sea salt
-peanut butter filled prezels
-ginger beer (the good stuff, from England)
I feel like I just sent myself a care package, a heavy and expensive one. Healthy Living is definitely trying to woo me. At City Market they have a little cookbook section with veggie, omni and local cookbooks. Vegan books are light and they never have Isa's books there (I've had mixed results in requesting stuff). In Healthy Living there she is, looking out from the cover of Vegan with a Vengeance and look on another shelf and there's Veganomicon peering out over the top of a Moosewood cookbook of some kind. I fixed that by moving the Moosewood book. I stupidly keep looking and see the Zen Epicure book and just had to get it.

Actually the whole reason I went to South Burlington was to check out the mall for our holiday shop I'll be helping to set up in a couple weeks (yes the holidays are actually almost here) and I figured I'm already here may as well spend all my money.

What does she do next?
Reclaims her kitchen!
Working full time and blogging like crazy can have the effect of letting things get away from you. The dishes were piling up. Lex was helping a little but it just took a good couple of hours of focused attack to clear it up.I am most proud of the rack and shelves. Not that a had a good before picture (maybe you can tell from the old kitchen post) but now all of my spices are organized and together (kinda). The bottom racks are full but tidy and navigable. Books are all straight and nice. Jars all straight and nice. Ah well, I'm liking it anyway. And yes, that's a jar of pickled onions on the floor. My husband is strange. Right next to it is a big ol' bag of shallots. He wants to make pickled shallots which are much better than pickled onions according to him. We need some malt vinegar though and I can't find any anywhere. Anyone have a bunch of malt vinegar they would like to send to me?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Iron Chef: Stuffing

This week's Iron Chef turned out to be a twofer for me. I love stuffing so I was stoked to hear that this was the challenge. I've also been needing to use some of the random ingredients I've accumulated and of course those couple of perishable items that really need using. Yeah you know you all have them. An ingredient you bought for a recipe but don't use regularly so you have a 1/2 cup or so sitting in the cupboard doing nothing but taking up space for the next several months. That piece of fruit that rolled behind something on the counter so you didn't eat it while it was prime.
So yeah, this is my cupboard. it's pretty full of stuff and only about 1/3 of it is easily navigable. Enter Iron Chef Challenge.

I decided not to go out for any ingredients for this challenge. It's not like I needed to. I have enough random stuff to make several kinds of stuffing.

This isn't the most beautiful plate of food for sure but it's pretty good and everything was what I already had in the house. With the stuffing I made kidney bean cutlets (replaced chickpeas in the VCON chickpea cutlet recipe) using left over kidney beans. The sauce is VCON Red Wine Roux halved, I had the perfect amount of red wine to use up. And then the stuffing. I don't have a recipe for you but stuffing is good like that.
Almond Apple Bread Stuffing
1 onion, diced
2 medium apples, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
some thyme, oregano, sage
a pinch cumin and black pepper
1/3 ish cup rye flakes
1/3 ish cup barley flakes
2 cups veg broth
2 ish cups stale bread
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9x9" square pan. Saute the onion until softened, add garlic and apples. Cook 7-8 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except bread and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Remove from heat. Stir in bread. Press into prepared pan and bake 30 mins.

Sweet Vegan!

When Vaishali on Holy Cow! announced her Sweet Vegan event I knew I wanted to make something for it. I'm usually veganizing something and I can't stay away from the sweets. I've made a couple desserts this month (aside from endless cookie testing) but here's my contribution. I think I can make this a little better but this is quite good as is.
Butterscotch Pudding
6 oz silken firm tofu
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tb vegan margarine
1 cup vegan milk of choice (I used half soy creamer and half almond milk)
3 Tb flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Blend tofu in food processor or blender until smooth, leave for the moment.
Mix sugar and margarine in heavy bottom saucepan and heat over low heat until both melt, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup milk and stir in. Mix flour and salt into the remaining 1/2 cup milk and whisk into pot. Mixture should thicken slightly.
Pour mixture and vanilla into food processor with the tofu and blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed.
Pour into serving bowls, this will make two pretty good sized servings or 4 smaller servings. Place in refrigerator to chill.
Serve with vegan whipped cream (I had some Soyatoo in the fridge already), with vanilla ice cream or on it's own.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cooking with Friends

Have you ever taken the time to cook with your best buds? I highly recommend it. It's only half about the food the other half is shotting the shit. It's been ages since I've cooked with my bff (as one of my younger employees would refer to her). It's not easy to cook together since we live in two different states. I wasn't vegan when we hung out but we had some great times. Mara and I made a Thanksgiving dinner together and quite a few bbqs. I suspect it will be a while yet until we get to cook in the same kitchen again. Luckily there are phones and the internets. We chat together while peeling peaches, baking pies, cutting veggies. Well as much as you can chat while not cutting your fingers off but it's goes pretty well.

Cooking from other blogs is kinda like cooking with your friends. After reading a blog for a little while you start to know a little bit about a person. While you are making the recipe you are reading their notes, their off hand comments about their life or the dish. The only thing you are missing is the actual person.

Tonight I did some cookin' with Mo of Mosetta Stone. After I read her post about vegan haggis and champ I knew it was my kinda thing. I've never tried the prepackaged vegan haggis and I've never tried the traditional scary non-vegan haggis so I wasn't sure what to expect but I trusted Mo not to pass on anything yuck.
This was really good. Like really good. It was like stuffing and mash. Woah mama. I'm dreaming of holiday meals now. I'll make this again for sure. Thanks Mo!