Thursday, December 15, 2011

What? Christmas is Next Weekend?

Whoa.  I better get my rear in gear.  And for me that means many, many treats for neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family.  With not much time left, I am going to have to call upon some ghosts of Christmas past to help me along in the idea department.  I mean there is no reason to reinvent the sleigh wheel right?

Let me begin by admitting, I am not a real big fan of baking.  I know, I know, chastise me if you must, but I really enjoy making other types of treats way more than cookies, pies, and (shutter) cupcakes.  So candies have always been my bag at Christmas time.  Sure, I will break down and whip up a few batches of sugar cookies cut out into stars and trees, decorated with green and pink (still can't get a perfect vegan red icing!) sprinkles.  I may even bake up some of my Espresso Chocolate Chip Cakes that I usually reserve for Valentine's Day.

Back to candies.  The majority of my bags, baskets, boxes and platters will be filled with Kittee's Peanut Butter Fudge, Peppermint Candy Cane Bark, Microwave Peanut Brittle, and Mashed Potato Candy.

This year I am going to add a new member to the family.  For a select, very special few, I will make this very special treat.  I have posted pictures of this delicious candy in the past, but not until now have I posted the recipe.  It comes straight from the pages of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions and appears on page 162.   It is reminiscent of that old fashioned candy known as Honeycomb Candy.  The texture is crumbly and sticky, and when dipped in bittersweet chocolate, it is just delicious.

Maple Sponge Candy
Maple Sponge Candy (page 162 in The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions)

Maple Sponge Candy

This candy is a molasses-y twist on old fashioned honeycomb candy. Crispy and sweet (and possibly coated in chocolate.) Not for the novice, it requires patience and an accurate candy thermometer. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you. This candy is pure science!

2 cups (384 g) Sucanat
1/2 cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 tablespoon baking soda
Melted chocolate for dipping (optional)
Prepare a 9×13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking dish by lining it with foil and then sprating the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large soup pot, place the Sucanat, maple syrup, and water.
Heat on low, constantly stirring until Sucanat is completely dissolved.
Raise heat and bring to a boil, watch temperature carefully. Bring the temperature to 250˚ F (121˚ C) and maintain that temperature constantly for ten minutes.
Remove from heat and quickly, but thoroughly, stir in the baking soda.
The mixture will begin to bubble and froth.
Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared foil lined dish.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and breaking into pieces.
Dip in melted chocolate if using. Allow to cool completely before storing.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Yield: 1 batch, about 30 pieces

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends, food, books, products, all vegan, and I can find it all in one place?

Now that is a website I can use!  Vegan Corner just launched this week, and I have already been poking around over there several times a day.  And you know what?  Every time I do, it gets better.  And I can only imagine it will continue to get better and better each and every day.  Why?  Because some pretty cool vegans are runnin' that show.

I had the pleasure of meeting Adriana (one of the founders of Vegan Corner) a few years back when she showed up at one of my cooking demos at Whole Foods in Long Beach.  We chatted for a bit about this and that, and she gave me her Facebook name so we could be "friends."  We did, and not much else exciting happened between the two of us.

Flash forward to the glorious summer of 2011.  The summer of vegan love.  The inaugural Vida Vegan Conference in Portland, Oregon.  Amongst the crowd, I saw a pretty gal that looked familiar..."Adriana? Is that you?"  Silly that we finally met up again in another state when we only live an hours drive from each other.  Nonetheless, there we were, two SoCal gals in wonderful PDX, with a yearning to go goth dancing.  So goth dancing we did (along with June, Terry Hope Romero and Erika) but I digress...

Anyhow, Adriana was there to promote Vegan Corner, and what an awesome job she did.  I have been waiting eagerly to see it go live ever since.  And now it's here!  It's, like, the best Christmas present eva!  So, if you want to give yourself a present, click on over to Vegan Corner and check it out, join the forums, read and leave reviews of your favorite vegan stuff, and help to make it a even more bad ass site than it already is!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm about to get crafty, folks!

When I was younger, say late teens and early twenties, my sister in law and I started a small business called the Kat and the Kanary. We would decoupage just about anything we could get our hands on, and then set up shop at craft fairs around town.  The two of us have always been crafty and artistic, and she is one of the people who has most inspired me to be the DIY chica that I am today.

I am working on a new project.  Something totally different than anything I've ever done before, and it is very exciting. I'm writing another cookbook. Well, I guess that's not totally different than anything I've ever done before, but the book I am writing IS totally different than anything I've ever done before. 

I am writing a combination craft and cookbook. Namely vegan food gifts. It's tentative working title is Vegan Food Gifts: Spread the Vegan Love DIY-Style with 100 Inspired Recipes for Homemade Edible Gifts, Baked Goods, Preserves, and More. I finally get to put two of my favorite things together...crafts and delicious vegan goodies!

PB Balls
Vegan Peanut Butter Balls in a home made truffle box.

Of course, the wonderful and talented, Celine will be adorning the pages with her gorgeous photographs. And, I am really close to nailing down a really awesome vegan artist to do the illustrations, who I know you all will be as stoked about as I am.

I just wanted to tell y'all how much I appreciate your overwhemingly generous support of my and Celine's books over the years.  Without you guys, I'd still be self publishing my own books that I wrote on Powerpoint.  Ha!  So, yeah, thanks guys.  

Keep spreading the vegan love.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan

Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan is a book that kicked me in the pants.  It is a sweet reminder that Daiya Cheese and Tofutti Cream Cheese, while they are vegan, should not be main ingredients in 2 out of my 3 meals per day! 

Reminding me that good food grows out of the ground, and tastes good (delicious, actually) exactly how mother nature intended it.

Each chapter in this beautifully photographed book is broken up into seasons, which makes it fantastically easy to find recipes that use foods that are naturally in season.  Which, in turn, makes it easier to cook with locally grown ingredients.

I recommend this book to any vegan, or health conscious cook.  The recipes are clean, easy to follow and full of flavor, even though onions and garlic are missing from the whole shebang!

Worknight Wednesdays: A Nap Before Bed

This is days late and dollars short.  We didn't make a thing for dinner on Wednesday.  I didn't even eat dinner.  I came home from work, plopped down on the couch.  Covered up in a fuzzy blanket, invited my girls to join un keeping me cozy, and fell asleep.  Woke up, had a bowl of cereal while watching CSI, then went to bed.  Pretty pathetic.  You don't have to tell me.

But if I were to make a nice big dinner last night, I probably would have made a batch of enchiladas.  I think I have to finally admit that Mexican food is my absolute favorite (followed by Italian, I think...) and a big batch of cheesy enchiladas always hits the spot.  But on a busy weeknight, I sometimes don't feel like spending the time necessary to properly roll up a batch, so I cheat and make an enchilada casserole.  Same ingredients, just layered like  lasagna, instead of rolled up.

enchilada casserole plated

Enchilada Casserole (from 500 Vegan Recipes)

Easy to toss together and throw in the oven, a hot, hearty meal is less than an hour away, and most of that time, is bake time.

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups (473ml) enchilada sauce, divided, store bought or homemade
2 recipes Seitan Chorizo Crumbles (from 500 Vegan Recipes), or 1 package store bought Soy Chorizo, divided
1 recipe Nutty Cheeze (Mexican Variation, from 500 Vegan Recipes) or Mexican flavored vegan cheese, like Daiya Pepperjack
6 to 8 flour or corn tortillas
2 cups (320 g) diced onion
2 ounces (56g) sliced or chopped black olives
8 to 10 slices of jarred nacho style jalapeno slices (optional)
Vegan Sour Cream and green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6).
Spray a glass 8×8-inch (20 x 20-cm) square baking dish with nonstick spray.
Begin to layer all ingredients starting with a single layer of tortillas on the bottom. (You can cut your tortillas into strips about 2 to 3″ wide so that you can put straight edges against the edges of the baking dish.) Then about 1/4 cup of sauce, more tortillas, then chorizo crumbles, and onions, tortillas, more sauce, some of the cheese, more tortillas, more sauce, more crumbles, more cheese…you get the picture…yeah?
When you get to the top, finish with a whole tortilla, a bit more sauce, a crumbling of cheese, olives and jalapenos.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Garnish with sour cream and diced green onions if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday for Two: Pasta with Cream Sauce

Pasta with Cream Sauce topped with Coconut Bacon

Who can say no to a big plate of pasta smothered in a rich creamy sauce?  Of course I threw in a few veggies just to be on the safe side...

I was caught up in the moment, and didn't write down the exact measures, but this is a huge plate of linguine noodles with steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and a cream sauce made with:
Earth Balance
Almond Milk
Nutritional Yeast
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
a pinch of Nutmeg
and thickened with all purpose flour.
I sprinkled some of yesterday's Coconut Bacon on top and dinner was served.

On a different note...Today when I got off work, it took me less than 30 minutes to get home.  If any of you know what I've been dealing with over the last 6 months with regards to my daily commute, you'd believe me when I told you I almost cried when I pulled in my driveway! 

Life is good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Mash-Up: Coconut and Liquid Smoke

Tonight's mash-up was inspired by the DDD (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.)  I am sure it was a repeat, but the other night it was on in the background and I overheard "Vegan BLTs" so I quickly turned to listen.  I didn't catch the name of the restaraunt, but I did catch that this place used coconut bacon!  Well apparently I have been living on another planet, because this was all over the vegan blogosphere going back at least to 2009!  Anyhoooo...had I done a simple Google search, before I started this adventure, well, then I would have seen that other talented vegans had already done the R&D and I could have used one of their recipes.  Instead I started from scratch. 

Coconut Bacon (on top of a green salad)

Green Salad topped with Coconut Bacon
I don't have exact measurements, but my marinade was very simple...liquid smoke, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I thought about maple syrup, but opted against it because of the natural sweetness of the coconut.  However, after this first experiment, I would say the added sweetness would have been nice.  I would probably also opt to use soy sauce or tamari instead of salt next time.  I think the flavor would be great, as well as the color would be more bacon like.  

After I soaked my coconut flakes in the marinade for a bit, I preheated my oven to 400 F.  I lined a baking sheet with parchment and laid out my coconut in a single layer.  I baked it for 5 minutes, removed it from the oven, tossed it about, and put it back in the oven for 5 moore minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning.  

I removed it from the oven and let it cool and crisp up and then tasted it.  Pretty good!  I found the ones that were toasted a little darker were definitely the color of bacon, and crispier.  But, I prefer the ones that are still a little bit soft.  They seem to have a better flavor and texture.  

All in all, these are a fun new addition to my condiment crew and I know I will continue to play around with different marinades and applications.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Sheesh.  Last week kicked my butt.  I am here, now, to ketchup on last week's posts all in one. 

Two for Tuesday: Long Beach Vegan Eatery
I skipped out on Dan Tuesday to check out the new Long Beach Vegan Eatery.  I am so excited to have this option in Long Beach, which up until recently has had no strictly vegan restaraunts. (Now there are 3!) And after reading about their mission to have vegan "stick to your ribs" comfort food...well, if you know anything about me, well then you know that this is my kind of menu.  I was there on the 2nd day of their soft opening.  (I don't think they've had their official "Grand Opening" yet).  I got the California Chick'n Sandwich and Sweet Potato Tots.  Yes.  Sweet.  Potato. Tots.  

California Chick'n Sandwich and Sweet Potato Tots from Long Beach Vegan Eatery
After having a chance to chat with Jeff (owner/operator) a few days later, he was excited to report that a lot of the early kinks have all been worked out, and each day just keeps getting busier and busier.  How awesome is that?  I can't wait to go back and have to wait in a really long line.  I am always eager to wait in line at a vegan establishment.  It really warms my heart.

Worknight Wednesday: Red "Meat" Lasagna
This one goes all the way back to 500 Vegan Recipes.  But it is a classic.  And definitely makes enough to have leftovers for the rest of the week.

Red "Meat" Lasagna

For the Lasagna:
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 recipe Meaty Marinara (BELOW)
1 recipe Tofu Ricotta (BELOW)
2 tablespoons (15 g) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons (14 g) ground cashews or ground walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5).
A quick note before assembling the lasagna: be sure to keep some sauce and ricotta to apply at the very top of the lasagna. You will have 4 layers of pasta in all, so divide each ingredient accordingly.
In a square 8-inch (20-cm) or 9-inch (23-cm) baking dish, start with a thin layer of sauce, add three noodles in a single layer, add another layer of meat sauce, then a layer of tofu ricotta another layer of noodles.       
Repeat until you get to four layers of noodles.
Top with a final light layer of sauce and ricotta and then sprinkle with nutritional yeast and cashews or walnuts.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is beginning to brown and your noodles are nice and tender.
Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving, so that the portions don't fall apart when cut.

For the Meaty Marinara:
28 ounces (784 g) canned diced tomatoes with the juice, no salt added
8 ounces (227 g) tomato sauce
6 ounces (170 g) tomato paste
1 tablespoon (2 g) dried basil, or 3 tablespoons (9 g) fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon (13 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (22 g) molasses
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves (or one head) garlic, minced
1 cup (160 g) finely diced white or yellow onion
1 1/4 cups (120 g) TVP granules (textured vegetable protein)

Place tomatoes, sauce, tomato paste, basil, sugar, and molasses in a large stock pot.  Bring to a simmer on medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, in a skillet place the olive oil, garlic and onions and sauté until garlic is fragrant and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and onions to the pot. Cover and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes. Uncover and simmer for ten more minutes. Stir in TVP, cover and let sit for ten minutes.

For the Tofu Ricotta:
14 ounces (397 g) extra firm tofu, drained & pressed
1/4 cup (35 g) raw cashews, finely ground
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (6 g) finely chopped fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon (2 g) dried
Salt and pepper to taste

After you have drained and pressed your tofu very well, crumble it into a bowl until it resembles ricotta.
Add in all the other ingredients and mix together with your hands.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Should keep at least a week.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Green is the New Red by Will Potter

green is the new red book cover
Green is the New Red by Will Potter
I bought this book at Food Fight Grocery when I was in Portland, Oregon for Vida Vegan Con in August.  It was a very eye opening read.  I've been fired up ever since.  If you are vegan, vegetarian, or even just someone who cares about our planet, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.  Rather than tell you what I liked about this book, I am going to tell you what I didn't like.  The truth.  I don't like it.  I will be honest with y'all.  I have been a naive person.  I trusted too easily and had too much faith in things I didn't fully understand.  No more.  Will Potter's book has taught me that our laws are not there to protect us.  They are there to support the money, and those that have it.  It is timely that I read this book just before the "Occupy" movement began, because, man, I am really down with the 99%, of which I, my family, and virtually everyone I know is a part of.  I am not going to get to philosophical, political, or opinionated here, because afterall, this is a blog about great vegan food, but please read this book, check out the website, and GET FIRED UP!

Freedom Fridays:  Pizza and Beer
Going out to dinner with my dad can often present a problem.  One would think that if 2 of your daughter's are vegan you might be a little bit more open minded when it comes to trying new things.  Yeah, well, no.  Not my dad.  So we often end up in uninspried chain restaraunts or a pizza joint.  Pizza is pretty easy for me.  No cheese.  done.  So that's what we did on Friday.  Spent a couple of hours with my dad, his wife, Laura, and Dan.  Noshing on cheeseless pizza, and sipping on beer.

Wonderful Weekends: A Very Lazy Saturday Spent on the Couch watching Lifetime Movies, and Avoiding any of my Real Responsibilities
Well, that pretty much sums up my weekend.  Today I head out to work.  It is my last day in Venice.  So it will be a bittersweet day.  I will miss my Venice peeps, but I will not miss that drive!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Mash Up: Pumpkin and Potatoes

Pumpkin Potato Taquitos (Sorry for the shoddy cell phone pic!)

Pumpkin Potato Taquitos
10 smallish red potatoes, skin on and quartered
7 ounces (half a can) canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon chipotle powder (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon dried chives (fresh is certainly okay too!)
1/2 a package any flavor of shredded Daiya Cheese (optional)
1/2 a tub of Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
24 (6 inch) yellow corn tortillas
Canola Oil for frying
24 toothpicks

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.
Add potatoes, and boil until fork tender.
Drain excess water and return potatoes to pot.
Add remaining ingredients, (except tortillas, oil and toothpicks!) and smash together until well mixed.  Leave some potato lumps for texture.

Add about 1" of oil to a large flat frying pan (I use my cast iron skillet), or heat the oil in your deep fat fryer to 350 degrees F.
Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture to the center of the tortilla and roll up.*
Secure with a toothpick.

Fry for about 30 seconds on each side, turning carefully with a pair of tongs.

Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper or a kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.

Remove toothpicks before serving.
Serve with nondairy sour cream, mole, guacamole, or salsa for dipping. 

Yield: 24 pieces

*Some tortillas (especially all natural ones) tend to crack when rolling.  You can battle this by carefully and quickly dipping the tortilla with tongs in hot oil prior to filling and rolling.  Lay the oiled tortilla flat on a work surface, and allow to cool a few seconds before handling.

Wonderful Weekends: Hotel Motel Holiday Inn

Last Thursday was my birthday.  On my actual birthday, I went to Glen Ivy Hot Springs, relaxed by the pool, soaked in the mineral baths, basked in the sun, and sipped on Pina Coladas all day long.

Map of the Grounds at Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Then Dan whisked me away to The Veggie Grill for Dinner.  I got the Grilled Chick'n Sandwich with Sweetheart Fries.  Dan Got the BBQ Sandwich with Mac and Cheese and we split an order of Buffalo Wingz.  All was delicious (except we didn't really care for the mac and cheese much, but no fault of the Veggie is great for a GF option, we're just not big fans of rice pasta.)  and I brought home a piece of carrot cake to enjoy in bed while watching TV.

Dinner at the Veggie Grill in Irvine

We headed to Long Beach to the Holiday Inn to meet up with friends for drinks in the penthouse bar.  For those who are familiar with Long Beach, this round tower of a hotel is in a pretty random spot. Sure it's pretty close to the airport...but so is all of Long Beach.  Neither Dan or I had ever been there, but would always tease about how when we made it big, we would stay in a room at the Long Beach Holiday Inn and have drinks in that bar.  Silly us.  Anyone can hang out in that bar, and you certainly don't have to be highfalutin to enjoy a nice room on the 11th floor overlooking the runway.  Since most of our friends and family still live in Long Beach, we thought it would be a great place to meet up.  Dan and I got a room, so we wouldn't have to worry about driving (Thank goodness, because we both had way more than our fair share of drinks!)
Holiday Inn of Long Beach
Sunday morning we headed to an old, old favorite...The Potholder, to get a greasy breakfast to fight off the hangovers.  We hadn't been there in many years.  So long in fact, that I didn't remember whether or not they had any vegan options.  Well, they didn't haved much, so I settled on a side of breakfast potatoes, a dry veggie burger, and some toast.  Ha.  It's a good thing I'm not too picky, and was happy just to get some food in my belly.  And we were a day off because I did find out a bit of interesting news.  Long Beach now has its very first vegan restaurant.  Long Beach Vegan Eatery opened its doors today.  I'll be heading there tomorrow to check it out!

We headed home to our girls and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around watching TV and snacking on pita chips and hummus. 

A wonderful weekend indeed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Freedom Fridays: VeganMoFo HUMP DAY!

I interrupt the regularly scheduled Freedom Friday for VeganMoFo HUMP DAY! We are about half way through VeganMoFo and the Amazing Leslie Hall has graced us with this amazing new song to celebrate.  Click on the animated gif below (made by Kittee Berns! Thanks for setting all of this up Kittee!) and  listen to the song.

"I eat the finest cuisines, in the finest of places Stuff my mouth full and always say thank you. But if it's raised in a cage, and it can't even move, if it's hormone filled and in a bad mood. I'm gonna pass on that. Reach for something better. The only milk I'll drink comes from the nipple of a soy bean. Veggies make you live forever, and they seem to taste much better. when they're cooked and grown with love. So give a chef who knows what's up a hug. Momma just can't seem to get it, Papa he just rolls his eyes. When I tell them I'm much healthier, they just say that it's all lies. But beans, nuts, fruits and veggies can really fill the belly. Get you vitamins you need, shiny hair and extra speed. Don't take that meat-wich any further, I want a marinated, deep fried, hand-tied mushroom burger. I like it! We gotta stand strong for our feathered furry sometimes scaly animal friends and their little babies. 'Cuz I wouldn't want to live in a cage in a dark warehouse killed at an early age. Pumped full of hormones, sleeping in my feces. Never met my mother, raised by machines. Never get sunshine never get green, but that's just me. [That girl loves fruit leather.] So ask us what we're eating. Delicious and repeating, fruits and veggies are so nice. With a slice of tempeh, yes, I'll have that twice. Don't forget the legumes!"

I personally fell in love with Leslie and the Lys many years ago when my cousin Leah introduced me to her Gem Sweater museum.  I have always been a fan of gem sweaters and never thought anyone could take that love to such a level as Leslie.  Through her website, I found her music videos and was an instant fan of such classics as "Zombie Killer" and "Tight Pants." Only since Kittee let me know about this new song, did I even know she was vegan!  Bonus love!

Check out Leslie's videos HERE!
Check out Leslie's website HERE!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester

The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester is a book every busy vegan needs to own. And seriously, what vegan isn't busy?

Let's just talk about the book itself for starters.  It's beautiful.  The matte cover and photos are gorgeous, the page layout is fantastic, the fonts are easy to read and interesting.  The Chapters are logically organized and the index is short but efficient.

Now let's talk about the content...the book is full of recipes intended to be made in the slow cooker!  I am the first to admit that I have only used my slow cooker a handful of times in the past.  I always assumed it was only for stews or big chunks of meat (I mean, that's what my parents used theirs for!)  So, that big old appliance that was a hand-me-down from Dan's dad just collected dust in the cabinet not getting the attention it deserved.

Recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, staples like beans and tomatoes, sauces, soups, snacks, pastas grains, even breads and cakes!  I (who thought I had a pretty good handle on this whole comfort food and vegan cooking thing) am learning so much from this book! 

My favorites (so far) are the delicious oatmeal recipes (she has even more on her blog!) and the amazingly easy (only 10 minutes of prep time!) Smoky Mac and Cheese.  There are also some amazing recipes in here that I just haven't gotten to yet, like the pinach Artichoke Dip and the Mango Coconut Rice Pudding.

I am so looking forward to working my way through this book chapter by chapter, page by page, because honestly, I haven't seen any recipe in this book that doesn't absolutely sound fantastic! 

Finally, I would like add that the intro chapters are really informative, and the canned vs. homemade info on beans and such is also really helpful.

All in all, this book gets two big thumbs up from me, and I highly reccommend it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Worknight Wednesdays: One Pot Mole Mac

One Pot Mole Mac
Kind of like Hamburger Helper with a Latin flare.

Since I already made the Mole on Monday, this one was a snap.  It made a huge potful, so I have leftovers for the rest of the week's lunches!

To make it I just prepared a one pound package of elbow macaroni in salted water.  Once done, I drained the excess water from the pot and added:

1/2 a package of Daiya Pepper Jack Cheese
1/3 cup Earth Balance
1 cup of the Mole Sauce
1/2 cup Tofutti Sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
1 cup TVP
salt and pepper to taste

Stir it all together, over low heat, until everything is melted. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes, to allow the TVP to absorb any excess moisture and become tender.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Two for Tuesday: Salad and a Sandwich

In case you didn't know already, there has been a heat wave in Southern California recently.  Temperatures topping 100!  Anyhow, after a long day at work, and a long drive home in the heat, cooking up a big ol' meal just isn't on the list of wants.  So, a simple salad and a sandwich is what we had for dinner.

For the Salad:
My favorite salad of late includes all store bought ingredients for maximum ease in preparation.  I am totally in love with Follow Your Heart's Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing.  I also absolutely adore the 365 Seasoned Croutons from Whole Foods, and of course, Parma Chipotle Cayenne Sprinkles.  Add those toppings to a generous helping of Spring Mix or baby spinach, toss in a handful of nuts and/or seeds, and voilla!

Waldorf Style "Chicken" Salad Sandwich

For the Sandwich:
This is an old standby recipe (from Cozy Inside!) that never ever disappoints.  The mix makes enough for 4 to 6 big sandwiches, so I have enough for dinner for the 2 of us tonight and lunch for both of us tomorrow!  The mix also tastes great on a pile of greens as a salad all on its own.

Waldorf Style Chicken Salad Sandwich
1 package extra firm tofu (pressed, drained and cubed into tiny little cubes...TINY!)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 cup grapes (green or red, or even raisins), halved
1 cup vegan mayonnaise (vegannaise, or any brand, or make your own!)
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Chop up the tofu into tiny, tiny, tiny little pieces. Add olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat and add garlic. Then add tofu. Saute until golden, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add all other ingredients, mix it all up. Chill before serving. Serve on a sandwich, in a wrap, on a bed of greens, or eat it with a fork right out of the bowl!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Mash Up: Tomatoes and Chocolate

I know, so obvious, but I really love a good mole.  A tad sweet, and a twitch of heat.  This one is pretty easy too.  It tastes great in all sorts of dishes, and also as a simmering sauce, or even simply as a dipping sauce for tamales and empanadas.

Monday Night Mole
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole allspice
1 tablespoon (or less to taste) dried red chilies
1 teaspoon chipotle powder, or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup semi sweet non dairy chocolate chips
2 shots brewed espresso (or 1 heaping teaspoon instant espresso powder)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark is best, but light works too)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

In a pot with a tight fitting lid, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and saute until translucent.  Add garlic and cook additional 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.  Add tomato sauce, and remaining ingredients.  Stir until chocolate is melted.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes on low heat.  Fish out whole spices before serving.  For an extra smooth sauce, use a stic blender or carefully transfer to a tabletop blender and blend until smooth.  Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Yield: About 3 cups

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wonderful Weekends: Loaded Baked Potato

Baked Potato

All the usual suspects...Earth Balance, Tofutti Sour Cream, Daiya Pepperjack, and chives.   Yeah, that about sums up my weekend.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

And the winners are...

#73:  Arlene said...Tacos!  October 7, 2011 10:46 AM  (will receive Vegan Subs!)
#64:  Vegyogini said...Steamed kale and quinoa!  Thank you for the giveaway! October 6, 2011 10:44 PM (will receive Hearty Vegan!)

There were 81 official comments left on the blog.  I chose 2 winners using the random number generator found here.

Thanks to all that participated.  You guys gave me some awesome ideas for quick and easy weeknight meals.  I'm sure I'll do more giveaways this Mofo, so stay tuned!

Freedom Fridays: Out to celebrate a glorious day!

Yesterday was a fabulous Friday.  I had a job interview, for a position 50 miles closer to my house.  And...I got the postion.  It will literally cut 100 miles (500 per week, 2000 per month, 24,000 per year!) and countless hours off of my daily commute.  I burst into song as I was driving home from getting the 2nd set of new tires this year.  "What song?" you ask.  This song:

I've probably listened to this song 600 times since yesterday.  I'm listening to it right now, as I type this.

I wanted to go out to celebrate.  We used to have this really cool dive bar not far from us that had a pretty good selection of vegan options, but it changed owners and now is a tapas bar, with not much to offer, so we had to find a new place to get our drink on.  We found another spot not too far down the road, and decided to stop in for a drink, just to check it out, then head out to dinner somewhere else.  Dan ordered a beer, and I a margarita.  For kicks, I had a look at the menu.  If nothing else I could get some fries.  But better than that...fried green beans!  Served with a wasabi vinaigrette.  Oh, snap! A picture, that is.

Tempura Green Beans
Tempura Green Beans
Sorry for the blurry picture.  I took it with my phone and it was dark in the bar.

Thoughtful Thursdays: 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Yeah, yeah, I know it's Saturday...But, this is Thoughtful Thursday's post:  A review of Colleen Patrick Goudreau's most recent book The 30 Day Vegan Challenge. 

Let me start out by saying I have all but one of Colleen's books and adore them all.  This one is different.  It's not just a cookbook.  It's a full blown guide to going vegan.  Not just recipes, but shopping guides, nutritional information, menu plans, and even about how to "defend" yourself when asked why you're vegan.  It really is a great read.  It reinforced my beliefs as a compassionate vegan and really reminded me why I eat, and live, the way I do.

One thing that really stood out, was the positive message throughout the whole book.  "By choosing to eat life-giving rather than life-taking foods, I'm saying yes to my values of peace, kindness, compassion, health, and simplicity." she says.  There is no attitude in this book, just sweetness and love.

Admittedly, this book wasn't really written for me, a veteran vegan, with plenty of knowledge about label reading, vegan cooking and where to buy my vegan chocolate chips.  But, I am really, really glad that I own it, and am considering buying a few extra copies.  This is the perfect book to give to anyone who has an interest in going vegan, a new vegan, or even to give to someone who questions me (you) about my (your) choices.  It's sweet and kind and written in a nonthreatening tone which will not offend even the most offendable readers.

This book reminds me of a much needed updated version of Joanne Stepaniak's The Vegan Sourcebook but with beautiful photographs, delicious easy to make recipes, an easy to follow format, and tons of relevent (in 2011) information and resources.

I highly recommend this book, and thank Colleen for writing such a inspirational tome.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Worknight Wednesdays: A Fridge Full of Leftovers and a Giveaway!

It's a Worknight Wednesday, and normally I'd make a meal that was big enough to double as lunch for the rest of the week.  The trouble is, I still have a bunch of food leftover in the fridge, I had to work late tonight, and didn't end up making anything at all! 

So instead of sticking with my normal theme for Wednesdays, how 'bout I do a giveaway instead? 

Leave a comment (on the blog) letting me know your favorite easy weeknight meal and I will choose 2 winners at random.  One will receive a copy of Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, and the other will receive a copy of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.  I will choose the winners on Saturday night at 5 pm PST.

Hearty Vegan COVER Vegan Subs COVER

Tuesdays for Two: Tacos!

TVP Tacos in Red Chile Flour Tortillas with Daiya Cheese, Lettuce, Chopped Jalapenos and Hot Sauce

I know I am a day late (and a dollar short!) but, did you know Tuesday was national Taco day?  So today's Tuesdays for Two will serve just that...TVP Tacos.  I love the simplicity of TVP taco meat, and so many who have tried it (omin, vegan, anyone actually) seem to agree that it really does mimic seasoned ground beef in both taste and texture.

My favorite recipe for TVP Taco Meat is this one, from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions (page 117) but if you want to make it even more super duper easy, just use a packet of taco seasoning added to your TVP! 

TVP Taco Meat

1 cup TVP granules
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or ground chipotle powder)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil (or any mild flavored vegetable oil)

In a heat safe bowl, mix together spices and TVP granules.  Stir in oil and water.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and miccrowave on high for 5 to 6 minutes. 

Alternatively, in a heat safe bowl, mix together spices and TVP granules. Stir in oil.  Add boiling water, stir, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Use anywhere you would use a yummy, spicy, ground "beef".

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mash-Up Monday: Noodles and Vanilla

This, is the first of the themed posts for my MoFo.  Mash-Up Mondays, where I will pair foods that you might not think should go together and pair them together in traditional foods.  Tonight I will pair noodles with vanilla (and some other stuff) to make a very traditional Jewish dish known as a sweet noodle Kugel.  This dish is served for break fast during Yom Kippur (which starts on Friday, October 7), so I thought I'd make up a vegan batch (even though I am not Jewish) because I like the idea of Teshuvah, or asking for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done.  (READ MORE ABOUT YOM KIPPUR HERE) So with each sweet bite of this Sweet Noodle Kugel, I will be reminded to be kind and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs I have done to others.  Religious or not, I believe it is good to forgive.

Vegan Sweet Noodle Kugel Vegan Sweet Noodle Kugel

Sweet Noodle Kugel
Whatever your beliefs, why not try this traditional dish for breakfast or dessert. You will never look at linguini the same way again! I personally love it cold in the morning or warm for dessert with some extra EB melted over the top.

1 pound linguini noodles
1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or other nondairy margarine)
1 (6 ounce) container of vanilla or plain nondairy yogurt
1 (8 ounce) tub of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (or other nondairy cream cheese)
1 (12 ounce) tub of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (or other nondairy sour cream)
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit, like apples, raisins, cranberries, pineapple....(optional)

To make the Kugel: 
Prepare the noodles according to package instructions, in a large pot. 
Prepare a 9x12 baking dish by spraying with nonstick spray, or rubbing with some margarine.  Preheat your oven to 400 F.
When noodles are done, pour them into a strainer over the sink. 
Using the same pot, add all other ingredients (except fruit) and stir over low heat until melted and well combined. 
Add the strained noodles back into the pot and stir to coat. 
Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.
Sprinkle with dried fruit, if using.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned.
Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Yield: 12 servings

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My love affair with Mac and Cheese

Since I am allowed to write about anything I consider to be wonderful on the weekends, today I choose to write about one of my very favorite things...Macaroni and Cheese.  Now, I won't claim that there is one perfect recipe for vegan mac and cheese, because there is something wonderful about all of them.  I have at least four recipes that I use in regular rotation.   It's just such a perfect food.  It can be made simply and quickly, or as a complicated casserole.  It can be plain, or with added veggies or crispy fried onions. 

When I was in Portland for Vida Vegan Con, I had a couple of really awesome incarnations of the gooey carb loaded uncheezy stuff.  First off I had a big plate of mac, along with a side of tater tots (ha!) at the Hungry Tiger Too.  This stuff was darn tootin' good.  Even better with the tots smashed into the mac giving it a little crunch.  Yeah, it was pretty ridiculous. Ridiuclously delicious.

Mac'n'cheese and Tots from Hungry Tiger Too

And then I was blown away by a burrito filled with mac and cheese, barbecue soy curls and onions from the Homegrown Smoker food cart.  Simply known as the Macnocheeto, this amazing handheld delight left me speechless.  I went back for a second (and bought 2 extra to bring to my sister and Kurt) because they are that good.  And, yes, ridiculously delicious.

Macnocheeto from Homegrown Smoker

I mean, look at that thing!  Not only was it amazing to eat, but it was also a genius idea.  I mean, where else have you ever seen hand held mac?  I have been wrapping up my mac and cheese in tortillas to take with me to work ever since.

And as food fads come and go (bacon makes it better, sandwiches made without any bread, deep fried butter) I am pretty excited about what seems to be the newsest and best craze ever.  Mac and cheese on everything.  I recently saw a Denny's commercial for mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, I heard Jason Ellis talk about mac and cheese as a pizza topping on his radio show.  And of course, don't forget about deep fried mac and cheese balls (Page 158 in Hearty Vegan!)

This is a trend I plan on getting behind 100%.  Watch out world.  Mac and cheese is about to be in everything, and I am here to embrace it!

If you don't have your own favorite mac and cheese recipe, I say start out simply and build from there.  Like I said earlier, I have at least 4 that I regularly use.   You can try this one for starters:

Cheater Mac'n'Cheeze.
My quick, easy, cheater recipe for a creamy delicious bowl of kid-friendly mac.

Ingredients1 pound of elbow macaroni, prepared in salted water
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (like Tofutti Better than Sour Cream)
1/2 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance, of course)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp white miso
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta. Drain and return to the pot. Throw in all of the ingredients and mix together well. Done.

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni