Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus to All and to All a Good Night!

Festivus is here again!  I didn't do much in the way of celebration.  I'm home alone for the holidays.  Boo.  The yay is that I'm getting a lot done.  I probably should do some writing or something, but I'd rather spend my days watching Dexter and stocking the freezer.  That's just how I roll, yo!

So the holidays always remind me of home.  This year has been a bit fractured, but usually I'd go to my parents house for Christmas.  A long time ago, they stopped making Christmas dinner because of how exhausted they were with the gift buying.  Our Christmas dinner is basically a tapas night...but with way more food.  I quite like that Martin tradition.

So yeah it sucks to be by myself, but it's a great excuse to make a bunch of food to snack on for the week (and freeze) and have a holiday movie marathon.  So far I've watched a good mix of classic Christmas movies, humorous ones, and Christmas horror.  The best gem I've discovered so far is Santa's Slay.  Too funny.

I know most of you have had your holiday parties, but in case you are looking for some ideas for NYE, here's a list of ideas for things that I'm thinking of making.

Vegetable tray with some sorta spread.  I'm torn between making a hummus or trying to get ingredients for the Kale Tofu Spread from 500 Vegan Recipes.  I couldn't find kale anywhere this week!

Vegan deviled eggs using my revamped deviled tofu recipe found in this entry.  This is a definite for me.

Tamales.  I love them, but hate hate hate to make them.  So tedious.

Mini pizzas.  Era picked up some Daiya when he went to LA last week.  I'm at the point where it seems completely reasonable to spend 40 bucks on the 5 pounder.  This stuff is like crack to me.  I'm sprinkling it on ever'thang!

Vegan Bailey's.  I'm gonna make a recipe from one of those top secret recipe thingies.  It says it should last two months in the fridge.  Does alcohol seriously slow spoilage like that?  I dunno.  Bailey's was never my thing, but I'm super intrigued.

Fruit tray with cherries and persimmons.  Maybe grapes.  What can I say?  All of these are the shiz!

Coooookies.  Right now it's all VCIYCJ all the time.  I'm making those choc chip chai shortbread cookies and probably something involving ginger.

Uppin' the game cheeze tray.  Yeah.  This will happen.  Not sure on the cheeze, but I know it will have the Italian Feast Sausages from Vegan Brunch on it.  I'm thinking slices of sausage pierced with pretzels (or as I like to call them: edible toothpicks), some crackers, deli mustard, and a cheese of some kind.

And you can't go wrong with chips and queso.  I know there are, like, a gazillion queso recipes and here's mine.  I'm still working on a sausage variation.

Not Yo Cheeze Sauce
2 cups water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mild chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)

2 Tbsp margarine
2 tsp brown deli mustard (stone ground works too but adds flecks of brown)
1/2 cup of your favorite red salsa

In a blender combine water, nutritional yeast, flour, garlic clove, and spices. Blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat on medium high, stirring frequently with a whisk. When thickened, remove from heat and stir in the margarine and mustard. Stir in the salsa and heat until warmed through. Makes about 3 cups.

Happy Holidays everybody!  I hope it's a joyous one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mission: Secret Santa

I have a fever, y'all, and the only cure is makin' gift baskets!  Seriously, it's a sickness.  I get it from my mama.  She kinda started the whole thing.  It's a cheap way to make things look like a million bucks.  I think you know by now that I don't believe in blowing money when I can take five minutes to really think about who a person is and try to encapsulate that in a basket.  Ha ha.  I'm mostly just a really, really cheap person.

I've done some form of gift basket every year since I was 23 or so.  It started super small.  Just throwing some books or something in a basket and getting that shrink wrap bag from the dollar store.  Then I started having these crazy sessions where I'd bake for two days straight and do an assembly line thing.  One year I made baskets for all 13 members of the comedy troupe I was in.  Another time, I made dessert and breakfast baskets for some coworkers.  As I type this, there is curling ribbon everywhere because I'm about to make some stuff for a fundraiser tomorrow.

Today's mission: find a suitable gift for a doctor I hadn't met before lunchtime today.  Price: $25.  I started by asking what kind of stuff he likes.  All I got from the ladies at my internship was that he likes books.  Dammit.  I'd have to get a gift card.  Those are so...impersonal.  But not if it's wrapped in a gift basket!

First I got some things from the dollar store (basket, curling ribbon, garland, cards, etc):

All of this was 8 bucks (exceptin' the gift cards), but I only used 5 bucks worth of stuff.  Then I decided to add some cuteness to it.  Check out this card!  The tree is eating the gift cards.  I took some tea I had in my house and wrapped them with ribbon.

Next, I thought long and hard about what to make.  I made the choc chip cookies, sugar cookies, and gingerbread biscotti from VCIYCJ.  I made Cheesy Quackers for the tin, but decided to keep them for myself.  Hee hee.  The doctor got pretzels instead!  I wrapped all of it up nice and purty like.

Then I put everything into the basket.  The basket includes 6 different types of tea, the aforementioned cookies and pretzels, and some chocolate peppermint coffee that I got from Target for $1.  Check that dollar section when you walk into the store.  You find some gems for sure!

This last pic is kinda crappy, but I was running late to my internship.  I couldn't find the shrink wrap bag and didn't feel like weaving through the people at the dollar store so I just got this gingerbead one instead.

And there you have it!  It's a fun and pretty easy way to personalize a gift card.  Just use your supreme baking or crafty skills and 5 bucks.  And nothing goes better with some books than gingerbread biscotti and English breakfast tea!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who Likes to Rock the Party?

So, how's it goin?  It's been a while.  I've been holding off on blogging because I don't have any complete thoughts right now.  I do have a bunch of small thoughts, which I will gladly share with you in listy format...sorta.

Last weekend we had some people over and I have something else to add to the vegan tested, omni approved category: that raw cashew cheese au poivre I've talked about fanatically (again, I used water instead of rejuvelac)!  It was the talk of the night.  They barely even touched the dairy cheese, but demolished the vegan stuff.  I don't think I'm gonna purchase dairy cheese for parties anymore.  Even though Era's a pescatarian, he rarely eats cheese and a party is completely possible without it.  The past several parties have proven that omnis seem to like my vegan cheese ballz and spreads better anyway.  Hee hee.

Last night we went to a party/fundraiser for the school Era teaches at.  Two cool party ideas I picked up: place food in multiple parts of the house and decorate with wine bottles.  I usually just throw some chips in the living room and keep the rest of the stuff in the kitchen, but they did a good job of putting a bit of everything in all the conversational hot zones.  It was very welcoming.  And because they were having a wine and beer type atmosphere, wine bottles were placed on shelves and tables throughout the house because they didn't have a bar.  If you wanted to open a new bottle, you just brought it to the kitchen and opened it.  Love that idea!

I recently bought a Pro Bar on a whim while at the grocery store.  It's a meal replacement bar.  I managed to devour the cherry pretzel one.  SO effing good.  My latest mission is to see if I could somehow recreate it at home.  I just can't justify three bucks for a bar that I could make at home.  But this was good...a bunch of seeds and nuts, dried cherries, chocolate chunks, pretzels, peanut butter, etc.  Mmm.

In completely asstastic news, I shopped while hungry (I know) and finally picked up these herb dijon breasts by Gardein.  I'd been eyeing them for awhile.  Unfortunately, they were so freaking horrible that I don't know if I could buy anything from them again.  The texture was great.  The flavor was vile!  It tasted nothing like mustard...just saucy and bitter.  Blech.  Era tried the bbq one and said it was horrible too.  Boo to that.

That's all for now.  I have a ton of new cookbooks that I haven't talked about yet.  I just bought 500 Vegan Recipes and Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen.  So excited about these!  My tester copy of VCIYCJ came in a few weeks ago so I'll talk about that sometime this week.  Also this week, I'm gonna be talking about holiday plans and party stuff.  Cuz I like to rock the party!  One more week until winter break.  Hell yes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Pies

Thanksgiving this year was kinda ridiculous. We had guests coming but they couldn't make it because one of the kids got sick. Era and I had a decent amount of food, but it got done so late that I couldn't photograph it. My kitchen has no overhead lighting. There's one small fixture that is supposed to light the kitchen and dining room. Ridiculous! But the dinner was absolutely delicious and drama free.

Clockwise from top: cornbread dressing, cranberry, mac n cheeze, green beans, wellington w/ madeira gravy, cajun corn maque choux, champ, roasted brussels/sweet potatoes/onions, and seitan roast w/ mushroom gravy.

My absolute favorites were the wellington and the cajun corn maque choux.  These will be staples at every Thanksgiving henceforth!  Ha ha.

What I was really looking forward to was the pie.  In my pregan days I was all about the lemon meringue and pecan.  Of course these are probably the hardest pies to veganize.  I just have to be difficult.  I made Bryanna Clark Grogan's Reliable Vegan Pecan Pie.  Unfortunately, it wasn't so reliable for me.  The filling tasted good, but it really didn't set.  Somewhat disappointing because it means I'm still on a quest for great pecan pie.

What wasn't a disappointment: the lemon pie with cheesecake topping and shortbread streusel.  It was just a combo of a few recipes.  I used a premade crust and baked it according to directions, but took it out a little early.  I used this recipe for lemon filling and let it set.  I topped it with the Mini Ice Box Cheesecake from My Sweet Vegan (leave out the lemon juice and add 2 tsps of tapioca starch).  Then I topped it with the Old-Fashioned Pie-Plate Shortbread recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I didn't add too much because this was my first time making it, but it was good.  After I assembled the pie, I threw it in the oven at 375 until the shortbread turned a little golden.  SO GOOD.

And now for a cocktail "recipe."

Spiced Caucasian
lowball glass
1 oz coffee liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)
1 oz espresso vodka (recommended: Seagrams)
vegan nog

Fill a lowball glass with ice.  Pour coffee liqueur and espresso vodka over the ice.  Top with nog and give it a little stir.  Enjoy the deliciousness.

Triple Caffeinated Caucasian variation: replace regular coffee liqueur with mocha liqueur (recommended: Kahlua).

Perfect for sipping on while you lounge around in your bathrobe.  Mmm.  I hope everybody had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Green Eggz N Hamm and PB&J French Toast Sticks

Green tofu and seitan ham just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Ha ha.  So, for VeganMoFo I was supposed to do a Food Network Friday featuring these two recipes.  It was funny.  I was actually watching Food Network that week (which I rarely do since my class started) and the show was about green eggs and ham and pb&j pancakes!  I was pretty stoked.  It fit in with my food memories theme, but I never got around to making it last month.

This morning I decided to make it finally.  Instead of spending a bunch of time veganizing the recipes, I just went with what I knew.  Plus, it took forever because I made pesto, seitan and pesto jack (more on that later) from scratch before I started making the scramble.  So I opted to make pb&j French toast sticks instead of the pancakes.

For the tofu, I made a scramble out of zucchini, spinach, and red bell pepper (for color).  I salted and sauteed the vegetables until soft and a lot of the liquid was gone.  Then I added the crumbled tofu and cooked for about 10 minutes more.  I turned off the heat and stirred in huge spoonfuls of pesto until it was geen enough for me.

I ended up using Isa's recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.  I made two changes based on what I had.  I did 2 cups basil and 1 cup spinach.  I also did half toasted sunflower seeds and half toasted pepitas instead of the walnuts.  Era and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I wasn't expecting much from the French toast, but it was so freaking good!  Of course, this means that I didn't write the recipe down.  The batter was simple: So Delicious plain unsweetened coconut milk, some creamy natural peanut butter, chickpea flour, whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, and vanilla.  I've gotta recreate this stuff.

I topped it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and some cherry preserves.  I love breakfast so freaking much!!!!

Back to the pesto jack...I got it in my head to tweak The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook's jack block uncheese.  Last year I made the pepper jack, but I remember it being too oniony.  Plus, I wanted to try to make it feel less jellied.  The result wasn't great.  It wasn't bad, but I upped the cashews and didn't change the other spices enough so the flavor wasn't as well rounded as I'd like.  The texture was better than I remembered though.  I'll post some pics tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks4Giving Me Dandies!

I love this time of year.  Some people hate it, but the only thing I really hate are those cinnamon scented brooms that stink up every grocery store.  I love fall/winter/holiday season.  There is nothing cozier than curling up on the couch, downing Spiced Caucasians*, whilst watching Bill Murray's brilliant performance in Scrooged.  I like all the shiny lights and pumpkin love and cornbread dressing with the cranburrrry**.  Oh, I completely forgot to mention that I avoid every store and holiday sale like the plague.  I think this keeps me hella sane.

Today was awesome.  Era and I went shopping for our Thanksgiving menu.  First, we went to Target to replace the food processor that he broke.  Take all my appliances away and I could get by with the food processor.  I felt so lonely without one!

Next, we went to Winco because I love their bulk section and the prices are okay.  Today's discovery: bulk corn chips with flax seed in them.  REPEAT: they frickin have Fritos with flax seed in them!  So good.  I was dreaming of making frito pie with them.  Maybe next time.

Next was Fresh and Easy where they have the inexpensive olive oil.  They also had boxes of cereal on sell for 15 cents!  Era only wanted two.  I would've gotten at least twice that much.  Oh well.

We ended the trip by driving up to Clark's Nutrition, where I bought 2 containers of silk nog, 1 container of rice nog, and West Soy's chocolate peppermint stick (never tried it before).  The holidays are lonely without Holly Nog because that stuff tasted insanely good with some booze.  I also discovered that the place now sells Dandies!  YES!  Now, I just have to figure what to do with them because last time I just ended up eating them out the bag.

This store is getting to be seriously awesome.  They got Teese recently, now Dandies, and looky what I found today:

Yeah, it's a crappy cell phone pic, but that is 1 gallon's worth of Vegenaise!  Seriously.  I contemplated getting it, then realized I don't have an army living with me.  But it's awesome to know I could purchase the stuff if I ever had to make a lot of pea salad!

So, I've finalized the Thanksgiving menu.  It's not mini because I have a lot of stuff to make and it would take way long.  Plus, we're entertaining, yo!

Thanksgiving '09
Mixed Greens w/ Vcon Mediterranean Vinaigrette
Everday Dish TV's Turkey Roast (half recipe filled with cornbread stuffing)
Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Onions, and Sweet Potatoes (w/ the roast)
Bryanna Clark Grogan's Seitan Wellington (half recipe)
Cornbread Stuffing
Macaroni (sans bread crumbs and veggies)
Irish Champ (doubled recipe)
Cajun Corn Maque Choux (made with Vegan Dad's andouille)
Vcon's Mushroom Gravy
Bryanna Clark Grogan's Pecan Pie
Cheesecake topped Lemon Pie w/ Shortbread Streusel

*tentative title, loosely based on the Dude's love of white russians :)
**misspelled on purpose because you must pronounce it kran-burr-reh

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Breakfast Pizza

Guess what's back, y'all?!  Candy Cane Joe-Joe's!  Guess what I still haven't seen?  Silk Nog.  What the fizzle?  I am starting to jones for my favorite holiday drink which I kindly stole and adapted from Pamela last year.  It currently doesn't have a name.  I'd love to hear any ideas.  I was thinking a spiced white russian, but that's not hilarious or clever.

It's basically a white russian made with espresso vodka, nog, and kahlua.  Last year, I got my family and my sister's coworker hooked on the stuff.  It's like liquid crack.  Hopefully, I can find some nog before Thanksgiving.

Anyway.  Today, I woke up with a burning desire for breakfast pizza!  I remember eating this stuff as a kid every once in a while.  It was my favorite.  I only knew two things this morning: there was no way in hell tomato sauce would touch the thing, and I wanted a biscuit crust.

What I basically did was take this biscuit recipe and press it into the bottom of my dish.  I baked it initially for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.  Then I layered one thinly sliced russet potato (boiled slightly after slicing and seasoned with salt and pepper), 1/4 cup bacn bits, tofu scramble (with shallots, kale and red bell pepper), and spicy tempeh sausage queso (a recipe I'm working on).  Then I heated it for about 20 minutes.  It was super good.  When I was taking the photo, a bee was trying to attack me.  Good times.  The pizza was greeeeeeat, though.

Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can make some eggnog ice cream, dammit!  I'll try to post the results soonish.  Have a good Saturday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Ideas

I don't know about you, but I have to plan out what I eat for Thanksgiving every year.  Mostly, I'm looking to make a new tradition for Era and me.  My family was all about the brown until I started asking why we never had colorful dishes for the holiday a few years ago.  Now, I pretty much have to bring the color.

This year I think I really am going to do a mini Thanksgiving.  It will be a lot easier on me and I am just dreading the long cooking process that comes with a traditional feast.  I decided to take a look back at my past Thanksgiving dinners.  I only went back to 2007 because there was no way I'd remember before then.

The way Era and I usually do it is one all vegan dinner for us and we take vegan sides and/or desserts to my parents' house.  My parents always make vegan cornbread stuffing, vegetarian sides, and tofurky for us.

Thanksgiving 2007 Menu
Seitan Wellington w/ Marsala Gravy
Cranberry Chutney
Cornbread Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Maple Carrots
Smashed Potatoes w/ Kale
Macaroni and cheese
Smlove pie (1 for the office, another for the fam)
Pumpkin pie cheesecake (for the family)

You can read about it here.  My favorites from this were the chutney, pumpkin pie cheesecake, and wellington!  So good.

Thanksgiving 2008 Menu
Onion, Pepper, and Spinach Quiche Bites (for the fam)
Pumpkin Baked Ziti (for the family)
Pumpkin Cornbread Dressing
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Mushroom Gravy
Green Beans w/ Walnuts and Shallot Crisps
Classic Chestnut Soup w/ Marsala Mushrooms
Cranberry Sauce
Lemon Bars

What I learned from last year's Thanksgiving is that chestnuts are incredibly expensive, and I don't find them to be tasty at all.  Also quiche bites are the shizzle.  You can read about it here.

This year I am going to try, once again, to make the tofurky meatballs.  I also want to make mini wellingtons, lemon pie, macaroni bites, roasted root vegetables, and some sorta salad.  I'm a little stuck still.  I want a miniature colorful Thanksgiving.

Do you have any ideas?  Preferably stuff that can be made miniature.  Also I despise sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on them so I will never make them!  NEVER!

Also, I started doing an outline for my possible zine.  I say possible because I know how I procrastinate and then forget about things.   Hee hee.  A happy belated World Vegan Day to all!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Halloween Haunts

Happy Halloween, Y'all!  I would first like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this month of vegan blogging.  I have a gazillion recipes to try and have made a few new e-friends along the way!  I have never felt so a part of a community before.  It feels great.

The end of Vegan MoFo feels a lot like what I imagine the end of summer camp to feel like.  Sad but memorable.  It's a bittersweet relief that I won't have to run home and construct a meal every single day, but I am happy my blogging spirit has been revived.  This MoFo feels so much better than last year.  I made all 31 days.  I stretched myself pretty far and am seriously considering a zine on cheap vegan party ideas.  Thanks for the suggestion!  I don't remember who said it (so long ago), but I like that idea.

So, a couple of years ago I made a graveyard cake for the poetry slam.  I had Sour Patch Kid zombies ripping the guts out of Gummi Bears.  Then, for Christmas I made a gingerbread house for my office.  It was on top of gingerbread cake with a lemon buttercream.  That was great.  Not so great: I got a flat on the way to work and the house pretty much collapsed.  They ate it anyway, though.

Today, I decided to combine the two and make a haunted gingerbread house.  I should have known this would end badly.  As I went to take the house parts out of the freezer, one of the walls fell to the ground and shattered.  Noooooo!  Luckily, I picked a template that had two parts to it.  So I used one of the bigger walls to create the back wall, but it was too soft.  So basically, I made a gingerbread...shack?  I dunno.  Hee hee.  Alls I know is that I'm gonna eat the shizz outta this!

The shack on haunted hill!  Here we have a pretzel fence and sunflower seed path leading up to the shack house.  I used oreo crumbs for dirt, pretzel impaled dots for trees, and chick-o-stick ballz for bushes.  There's black licorice on the roof and the entire thing is bordered with candy corn flavored dots (ZOMG!) and black crows.

What I really wanted to do was a pig farm.  A really creepy serial killer type thing with marzipan pigs feasting on the flesh of the dead.  Muahahahaha.  Ha.

I couldn't get a good picture of this, but there was water with Swedish Fish piranhas eating Sour Patch Kids.  And tons of blood.  It's pretty hilarious. :)

Sour Patch Kids were so harmed in the making of this.  Pretzels are really good at impaling things.  There are also tombstones, but I couldn't find an edible ink pen.  I'm just gonna call them unmarked graves.

Okay.  The components of the thing...  I made a 9x13 chocolate cake from Papa Tofu.  On top of that I set a gingerbread cake.  They were frosted with this chocolate frosting recipe.  Half of the chocolate cake was covered with VCTOTW Fluffy Buttercream (half recipe, dyed blue).  For the gingerbread, I used the PPK recipe.  That's all she wrote.

Farewell, Vegan MoFo!  I'll see you next year!  I still have a ridiculous amount of blogs to read so I hope everybody has a safe and happy halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Bluebonnets and Lonestar Beer

This is the second part of my ode to Tejas.  I love that place.  Wink.  I should probably tell you that I pretty much loathe Lonestar Beer, though.  Blech.

I'm going to give the recipes for the enchiladas, rice and sopapillas, but the enchiladas need to be tweaked.  First, the ricotta was too thick.  I think I'll leave out tofu next time and just use cashews.  Maybe.  It needs to be thinned out at the very least.  The tomatillo sauce is missing something.  I'm thinking it needs more cumin and maybe jalapenos?  Also, I found the jackfruit distracting.  It didn't add to the dish at all.  And my Teese didn't melt (even after I did that broiler thing)!  What the frack?!  I need Daiya to come this way already.  It's the only consistently reliable melty cheese for me.

First Attempt @ Enchiladas Poblanas
*Note: This recipe is considered a fail. Prepare at your own risk*
20 oz jackfruit (in brine NOT syrup), drained and marinated*
Cilantro Cashew Ricotta (recipe below)
6 halved poblanos, stems and seeds removed and roasted (skins removed)
12 corn tortillas
Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce (recipe below)
vegan cheese, optional

Make the Cilantro Cashew Ricotta and the Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce first. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 casserole pan with nonstick spray. Coat the bottom of it with a thin layer of tomatillo sauce. Heat a skillet over medium high. Set up an assembly line: corn tortillas, hot skillet, tomatillo sauce, filling, then your enchilada pan. Take a corn tortilla and warm it up in the skillet, don't cook it. It just needs to warm up to be pliable. Next dip the tortilla in the sauce. This keeps it moist. Finally add your filling: cashew ricotta, poblano half, and some jackfruit. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Pour the rest of the tomatillo sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese if you are using it. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty and the exposed tortillas are a little browned.

*Jackfruit is completely optional.  I marinated mine in beer and chikn broth powder.

Cilantro Cashew Ricotta
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours
juice of 2 small limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 lb firm tofu, drained and crumbled
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Combine everything in a food processor and blend until silky smooth.

Tomatillo Sauce
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 lbs tomatillos, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro
2 large avocados, pitted and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions and tomatillos until the mixture goes from bright green to pale green. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add the cumin and oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and water. Bring it to a boil.  Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.  You may need to add more sugar to balance out the tartness.  Let cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, add cilantro and avocado to a food processor or blender. Add the tomatillo and onion mixture. Blend until you get a sauce. Adjust the seasonings. Pour into a saucepan or dish so it's ready for tortilla dippage.

Not the prettiest picture, but tasty for the most part!  Oh, those refried beans are out of a can.  I always add a little oil and water to thin them out because I hate that super thick canned refried bean thing.

The rice is pretty easy.  I used achiote oil for it, which is a Terry tester for her Vegan Latina cookbook.  Achiote adds a very subtle flavor and gorgeous color.  Any oil works.  You may want to up the cumin to 1 tsp if you don't use achiote.  I just like saying achiote.

Rice w/ Peas and Carrots
1-2 Tbsp oil
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2-1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup long grain white rice
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 3/4 cups water (1.5 cups for a firmer rice)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and carrot. Saute until they just start to soften. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add cumin, salt, and rice. Cook until rice gets a little toasty. Add water and peas. Bring to a boil and cover the pot. Lower the heat to a simmer for about twenty minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Okay...sopapillas!  They are little fried pieces of heaven.  Now I openly admit this is a complete bastardization of actual sopapillas.  The traditional stuff is made from dough and fried.  Whatever.  This is just as tasty and takes about as much time to prep as it would take to just gather ingredients for that dough.  So there.  Ha ha.  Traditionally, sopapillas are served with butter and honey.  I've added margarine and agave but it's optional.  They aren't too sweet as is.  I like that the margarine and agave make them crispy and gooey/chewy.  Also, this is a combo between just plain ol' powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar because I like how delicate powdered sugar makes these seem.

Cheater Sopapillas
5 refrigerated flour tortillas
1 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
Vegan margarine, optional
Agave nectar, optional

Take the tortillas and cut each one into four wedges and set aside. Mix together the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside. And have a cooling rack prepared. Heat a wok on medium high heat and add the vegetable oil. (NOTE: If you don’t have a wok, use a medium saucepan but a wok heats faster and hotter).

Drop the wedges into the oil, but don’t over fill. 2 to 3 at a time is enough, depending on how big your wok is. I only did one at a time, though.  You want to flip them as soon as the edges start to go golden.  Then again after 3-5 seconds or so.  It shouldn't take longer than 10 seconds per batch.  The temperature is perfect if the wedges puff up and turn golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a cooling rack. This is crucial for them to stay crispy.

Repeat until finished. Let the sopapillas cool to just above room temperature. Sift the cinnamon sugar over them and serve with margarine and/or drizzle with agave nectar. 4-5 servings.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm going to collapse in a food coma.  Mmmm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: My 100th

We're coming to the end and I officially have "the -itis."  Instead of posting pics and recipes, I'm dreaming about graduation!  After MoFo I'm starting NaNoWriMo.  I think I'm insane.  I'll be posting twice tomorrow to make up for this lack of post.  But this is food related because what is food with the perfect DREAM KITCHEN?!  I totally stole this idea from Joni at Just the Food.

First I want something spacious.  My kitchen now is a flippin joke.  I used to love having a yellow kitchen until I saw a turquoise one.  OH YEAH!

I also want it to be open.  I love entertaining and having people over so if it's connected to the living room...even better!

Look at this cute breakfast nook.  Perfect for eating brinner...and maybe actual breakfast at breakfast time too.

I also love retro signs and furniture.  I can't help it.  This is what I like in my kitchen.

I love the idea of glass cabinets ever since I read a magazine article about some New York woman turning her kitchen into a closet.  I much prefer my cabinets to hold dishes, though.

Also a kitchen isn't a dream unless it has a walk in pantry, yo.  Walk in!

And I just love the idea of a long island that will simultaneously give me space to prep and whatnot but will also hold all my cookbooks.

A metal wall so I'd have a huge magnetic spice rack, arranged alphabetically because there's no other way, really.

Ooh!  This kitchen needs a huge pot rack hanging over my island.  And some better pots because mine are horrible.

All I need now are some super colorful appliances and kitchen gadgets to go with this kitchen.  Oh, to dream.  If I won the lottery, I'd never leave my kitchen.  Hee hee.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

Today is the first day I've been legitimately happy here.  It was windy and cold all day and not super sunny!  I know it seems weird, but I have never missed Texas more than since the "fall" began.  I know I probably shouldn't have moved to the desert if I expected changing seasons.  Also, I probably shouldn't have moved to the most boring city in California if I expected excitement.  But everyday here is bright and sunny.  It makes me long for the dreary and wet fall/winter season of San Antonio.

People perceive Texas as this backwards, racist, crapfest.  Not true.  Just like any other state, there are jackasses, but Texas has a lot of greatness.  It's beautiful, filled with so many amazing cultures, and you won't find better food anywhere.  Tex Mex is king, baby!

So today I set out to make a fantastic meal that reminded me of home.  Unfortunately, my little Emma got sick.  So in the midst of cooking I had to clean up everything she got sick all over.  That dog is forever getting into something!  Silly monkey.

Instead of recipes and pictures, I'll tell you about what I made and share the recipes tomorrow.

When I was younger, my friends and I would stay out until all hours of the night.  I'd often get a call at midnight to meet somewhere for food.  If it wasn't IHOP, it was a local Mexican restaurant.  In fact, Mexican food was our go to every Tuesday after the poetry slam.  I had always eyed these enchiladas poblanas on the menu, but played it safe with bean and potato tacos.  The enchiladas were filled with cheese, poblano peppers, and shredded chicken.  They seemed easy enough to veganize.

Tonight I made a cilantro cashew ricotta that was based off of the Veganomicon cashew ricotta.  I filled the enchiladas with it, roasted poblanos and marinated jackfruit.  Then I topped it with a tomatillo and avocado sauce and shredded Teese.  The plan was to serve it with some refried beans and rice with peas 'n' carrots.  Plus, I was going to make sopapillas.  I promise them tomorrow.

And here's a hint about what I'd like to do on Saturday (please forgive the crappy lighting):

Goodnight y'all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VeganMoFo III: The Struggle and Noobie Fundamentals

I don't remember much about when I first went vegan.  I know it was the second week of August in '01.  When people ask I just tell them that I've been vegan off and on for 8 years.  From '04-'07 I was floating back and forth between vegetarianism and veganism.

Honestly, my heart always belonged to veganism.  I cannot express the amount of self loathing I felt during those days.  I would pledge to be vegan at least once a month.  It wasn't until late Fall of '07 that I realized this was going to be a lifelong commitment for me.  I got two tattoos to remember the occasion.  The vegan society flower on one wrist and the Chinese symbol for "fu" (which means the ability to judge right and wrong) on the other .  It was my way to remind myself that even if veganism is a struggle for me, I believe it is the ethical thing to do.

I think some of us forget how hard this can be for a newbie.  I am not the type to ever shame somebody for struggling with veganism.  I love vegetarians just as much as vegans (though vegans win for food hands down!).  In the beginning, the easiest thing for me to do was make food I was used to.  I didn't own a single cookbook until I was 24 so my source for everything was  I remember my first birthday as a vegan.  My mom told me to pick any recipe and she'd make it.  I had her make this chocolate raspberry mocha layer cake because no combination tops chocolate and raspberry for me.  This was my first encounter with vegan sweets and my hips haven't been the same since.  Hee hee.

Looking back on it, I'd tell the 19 year-old me that all I'd ever need to survive is a good chili recipe, the ability to manipulate tofu, and the knowledge that vegan desserts are just as good (if not better) than the stuff that comes out of a box.  Oh, and I can't forget the sketti!  Spaghetti was one of the first things I learned to make.  It's easy, filling, and super versatile.

This, right here, is what I like to call pantry spaghetti.  This is a non-recipe recipe.  It doesn't involve anything but pouring stuff into a pot.  I sauteed some canned mushrooms (Era bought these and I don't know why) in some olive oil with red pepper flakes.  Then I added garlic powder and onion powder.  I emptied a 28 oz can of tomato sauce into the pot and added oregano, basil, a pinch of sugar and some salt.  Then I simmered for about 20 minutes before adding the olives.  Topped it with parm and served it with fresh spinach and a breadstick.

As basic as that is, it was some of the best spaghetti sauce I've had in a while.  Even with the canned mushrooms.  Brr...

What was the first thing you learned to make as a vegan?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Tofu Fried Rice Noodle Soup

Er...what?  Since today is Movie Monday I decided to be as crazy as possible with it.  There are no cutesy menu names or meal themes.  Just a combination of two of my childhood faves.  Tonight's movie is Crooklyn.  Years ago, I dated a guy who was obsessed with Spike Lee.  I had only ever seen about 2 of his movies, so we spent many dates watching Spike Lee movies.  This is, by far, my favorite.

It's about huge family of seven in 1970s Brooklyn.  It is such a rich film.  Such a roller coaster of emotions.  I seriously love the 70s.  If any decade could represent me, that would be it.  And NYC has always been a city that I should have been born in.  Plus, the soundtrack is killer.  If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest it.  I will tell you (because I forgot about this until I just saw it) that there is a 2 second scene where the boys are harassing the girls and throw a cat at them.  It is super cringeworthy.

Watching this movie always makes me wish I grew up in a big family like my parents did.  In the movie, the family has dinner together.  This was something we rarely did, but I do remember one time we always seemed to be together: whenever my dad would make shrimp fried rice.  Both my parents would be in the kitchen cooking a bunch of food in the wok.  I really wanted to make tofu fried rice, but was in the mood for soup.  Then, I remembered how much I loved ramen.  So it's kinda a combo of the two.  I actually used this recipe and the one from the Epicurious challenge as my basic guide.

Tofu "Fried" Rice Noodle Soup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha sauce (less if you don't like a little spice)
1 lb extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 16 triangles (frozen and thawed is even better)
1 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 green onions, sliced (whites and dark greens separated)
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 servings rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles, prepared according to directions
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the soy sauce and sriracha together.  Marinate the tofu in this mixture for 10 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add the carrot, white parts of the green onion, and ginger.  Cook until the carrot just begins to soften, a little less than 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.  Add the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, and peas.  Bring to a boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place a serving of noodles in a bowl.  Cover with half the broth and vegetables.  Throw some tofu on that baby and sprinkle with green onions (and soy sauce if you so desire).  You should have some 'fu left over so all is good in the world.

And looky what came in the mail today:

I flipped through the book and there are so many interesting looking recipes.  There is an entire section dedicated to Easy Bake Oven recipes!  Finally, I can justify my supreme want for an Easy Bake Oven even though I have no kids and am so much older than 8!

Anyway.  The soup was good.  This movie is making my heart ache and I have a ton of homework.  So glad Monday is almost done.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Sucka Emcees Call Me Sire

I wish I was the [Queen] of Rock, but I'm actually the queen of losing recipes.  I cannot tell you how many recipes I've lost because I wrote them down on scratch paper and accidentally recycled it.    Today marks the beginning of food memories week.  One of the things I was totally set to do was revisit and rework my menudo recipe from last year.  I have a special connection to menudo.  It has helped many a vegan hangover.  So of course, I couldn't find the recipe.

While searching for menudo recipes, I happened upon one by Michael Chiarello.  I glanced at the ratings and saw that two crassholes gave the recipe a 1 star rating (without making it) because it was made with chili powder and not chili sauce.  Uh?  Menudo is like every other recipe on the planet.  There are basic components, but beyond that it's familial.  But I was intrigued.  So I set out to make my own chili sauce.

Now, I've never had menudo with tripas because organ meats always creeped me out.  But I did have a basic idea on what I wanted to use.  As far as I can tell, menudo is a really simple soup.  It usually has chili powder/sauce, hominy, onion, garlic, oregano, meaty bits, and maybe cumin.  Easy, right?  Well I went for the recipe found here.  I halved the actual menudo recipe and only made a quarter of the chili sauce.  Here's what I did.

Vegan Menudo
*Note: This recipe is considered a fail. Prepare at your own risk*
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup red chile sauce (recipe below)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1.5 cups hominy, drained
2 cups seitan, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 Tbsp oregano (preferably Mexican)
1 tsp cumin seed
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, lime, green onion, and/or chopped onion for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in saucepan.  Saute onion and garlic until translucent.  Add the chili sauce, vegetable broth, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add remaining ingredients (not the garnishes) and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Chili Sauce/Paste
2 oz dried ancho chiles, whole
1 small garlic clove, minced
pinch of ground cumin
3/4 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp oregano (preferrably Mexican)
small pinch salt
1/4 tsp sugar

Put the whole dried ancho chiles on a hot dry griddle or frying pan and toss around a bit until they just barely begin to change color. Do this carefully, the chiles will scorch easily.

Remove chiles, place in a paper bag, and let cool. Remove stems and most of the seeds. Place in a pan, cover with boiling water and let steep 15-20 minutes. Reserve liquid.  Run through a food mill or a food processor, adding reserved liquid to help the paste along 1 tablespoon at a time if needed.

Return chile mixture to pan and add garlic, cumin, vinegar, oregano, salt, and sugar to the chile pulp.

Simmer over low heat for a 3 -4 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

Okay.  Thoughts.  I am not a fan of the chile sauce!  Sorry food snobs!  Ha ha.  I much prefer ancho chili powder because this soup turned out somewhat bitter.  I had to add a bunch of lime juice to even force down the small cup I had.  Era ate most of this.  Blech.

Menudo makes me think of Sundays in San Antonio, but I will just have to perfect the recipe I created last year.  It was good to reminisce about home, especially because I miss it a lot right now.

Coming up this week: a Spike Lee joint Movie Monday, enchiladas poblanos, s'ghetti on my sweaty, chili 3 ways, green tofu and ham, and something Halloweeny!  I'm kinda sad this is the last week!  I've enjoyed reading all your blogs.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: A Gathering of Sorts

Today was horrible and that's putting it lightly.  It started with a phone call that completely made me sad/angry and continued to get progressively worse.  This was a day that I should have just stayed in bed and shut my phone off.  I did have a good three hours of positivity, though.  My husband and I decided to scrap the idea of inviting our friend over because of today's craptasticness.

Instead we had a lovely cheese and wine filled evening in our backyard.  When I was running through ideas for MoFo this year, one of you suggested that I do a vegan cheese tasting.  I don't remember who, but THANK YOU.  This was super fun and put me in a brighter mood until it was once again deflated.  But I'm living in the good right now!

I have a special fondness for wine and cheese.  Not because I'm particularly familiar with either.  My favorite wine is pinot grigio, I think...?  I hate dry wines and am not a huge fan of reds.  Sweet dessert wines are the devil and my favorite pregan cheese was pesto jack.  But the first Festivus my husband and I had was born out of a small social gathering that was meant to be a wine and cheese type thing.  The only problem was that my husband had invited a gazillion people and forgot to tell them it was a small thing and the huge party we planned was going to be the following week.  So here's to traditions being born and my San Anto fam!

There were 7 (!) types of cheeses.  4 were homemade and three were Sheese.  I gotta tell ya: the homemade won!  In the above picture, the tray at the bottom left contains a raw Cashew Cheese Au Poivre.  I never use rejuvelac because that takes too much work.  It's still cheesy, peppery greatness!  On that little tray, I also have fresh bread.  (Sidenote: that tray is a pea pod and I got it for a quarter at the thrift store.  HOLLER!).

This tray has a lot going on.  Starting from the top and moving clockwise: Port Wine Uncheese from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, garlic and herb multi-grain crackers, Bleu Sheese, multi-grain crisp bread, Smoked Cheddar Sheese, more crackers, Sharp Cheddar Sheese, and more crisp bread.  The middle is a raw cashew Herb Cheeze.  I always salt this to taste because it doesn't call for much at all.

In the middle of this tray is the White Bean Boursin from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.  Also included: Spice-Roasted Almonds, red grapes, olives, dark chocolate and dark chocolate w/ crystallized ginger, pickled okra, and figs.  I bought the chocolate from Fresh and Easy.  They have this GIANT 1 lb, 1.64 oz chocolate bar.  I had to get it.  The ginger was calling my name too.  Ginger is my favorite!  The pickled okra is just because.  I don't think it goes well with wine, but the brand was Taste O' Texas or something hilarious like that so I bought it.  They were a little spicy.  And soooo good.

Basically, Era and I just sat outside drinking and talking for hours.  It was fun and something we don't do nearly as much as we should.  I highly recommend doing a cheese tasting.  It's so much fun to make your own and a hell of a lot cheaper.  So I'll get to the good stuff.  Here's my countdown to the number one cheese I had tonight.

7. Port Wine Uncheese-Blech.  This was so disgusting.  Granted, I hate red wine.  However, I usually don't mind if red wine is in something.  However, all the flavor combos made for a slightly sweetish red wine beany spread.  Roll that around in your mind.
6. Bleu Sheese-No.  I don't like it because it kinda reminds me of what I imagine plastic would taste like.
5. Sharp Cheddar Sheese-Not bad.  Not the greatest thing though.  I'm going to try it melted.  Wait.  Does Sheese melt?
4. Herb Cheeze-This is really good.  Super smooth and creamy.  Really good on the crisp bread.
3. Smoked Cheddar Sheese-I honestly had trouble telling the difference between this and the sharp cheddar.  I've had this one before and remember it being much smokier than it was.  Still good.  Love it on crackers or by itself.
2. Cashew Cheeze Au Poivre-This stuff is seriously amazing.  It is so cheezy AND raw.  I love it.  Plus the pepper adds a really good punch.
1. White Bean Boursin-Absolutely no contest.  It's the umeboshi paste that does it.  Such a salty tang (hee hee).  I love this stuff on bread.

Well, folks, there you have it!  So ends holiday week.  Tomorrow begins food memories.  Yay!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Party Time. Excellent!

Earlier this week, I told you I'd give some party themes that I've done in the past.  Tonight was supposed to be Food Network Friday so I veganized this recipe by Melissa d'Arabian.  The changes I made were good, but they could be better.  So I figure now is a good time to talk about themes.

The first party I ever threw had an extraterrestrial theme.  My friends and I were 19 and we had this insane idea to decorate a friend's apartment like another planet, charge people 5 bucks for cover, and make costumes mandatory.  We ended up making a lot of money.  More than we spent on the party.  This was also the time that I realized it is never a good idea to put even one drop of Everclear into the punch.  I witnessed at least 7 mental breakdowns that night.

Over the years, I've learned to make smoother punch and taught myself how to turn a simple idea into something new and exciting.  Here are some of my favorites.

Cocktail Party.  I did this for my bridal shower.  This can be really fun with signature drinks and all that.  It doesn't have to be alcohol related.  Make some virgin drinks and pair them with appetizers.  This is definitely perfect for the holidays.

Pink and Red.  One year I did this during Valentine's Day.  The colors are entirely up to you.  It only involves having plenty of decorations in that color and maybe a food item or beverage that matches the theme.

Prom.  My favorite!  My ex-best friend's birthday is two days before mine.  So for our 22nd birthday we decided to throw the prom we never had.  The theme: Celestial Dreams.  We spent all week making stars and other decorations.  We even had party favors that every guest got.  I had my husband make a playlist of songs from '96 to '00.  It was so awesome.  We even sat up a punch bowl and snack table like every high school dance has.

Luau or Caribbean Getaway.  So easy.  Just make some tropical food and buy some leis.  Also, I've done a Caribbean thing and served coconut rice and jerk seitan before.  I like doing things like this when it's cold outside so I feel like I'm getting out of the dreary weather.

Wine and Cheese.  There is something about these parties that make people feel so adult.  They just start acting all regal and stuff.  Maybe it's just me.  The only thing I know less about than cheese is wine.  I'm doing this tomorrow though.  Is it a party if there are only three people?  It's going to be fun either way because I love making a meal out of appetizers.  It's probably the easiest of all the themes.  Get some cheese, get some wine and throw in some grapes or olives.  Put I'll kick you in your shins if you swirl and sniff.

Game Night.  Most people think cards when they think game night.  If it's not Phase 10, I'm not playing it.  Game night to me is all about the board games.  I once spent days thinking of a tournament for game night with the final face off being a Super Mario death match, but only 5 people showed up.  3 of them were related to me.  I like doing snacky foods.  Chex mix, flavored nuts, pretzels, cookies, brownies, root beer floats, etc.

Other themes that I want to use for a party: 80s prom, karaoke, dinner and a movie, and a costume ball.

This holiday season be sure to think outside of the box.  We've all consumed cheap champagne while singing "Auld Lang Syne" before.  Yawn.  Why not do it in a Flashdance leotard while listening to Madonna's "Like a Virgin?"  I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Miniature Thanksgiving Part II

I love mini stuff!  It's so adorable and really allows you to taste something without overindulging.  So the food doesn't weigh you down.  I'm thinking I will definitely do this for Thanksgiving this year.  I mean, after day two of cornbread stuffing I'm ready to never eat the stuff again until next year anyway.  Plus, all of the food was surprisingly filling.

Mini Thanksgiving Menu
White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup Shooters
Apple Salad w/ Spinach and Candied Ginger Skewers

The soup was from Vegan with a Vengeance.  It was ridiculously easy to make and super delicious.  The salad was a slight adaptation of a Kittee MoFo entry from last year.  I used spinach leaves for the skewers and left out the apple mint.

Main Course
Seitan Turkey Meatballs w/ Cornbread Stuffing
Cornbread Dressing Squares
Macaroni Bites
Mini Twice Baked Potatoes

Okay.  The seitan turkey meatballs did not turn out as great as I imagined.  I have to rework them because they were too bread-like.  The stuffing was good, though.

Macaroni bites are ridiculously easy to make.  I used Jess' macaroni recipe (minus the optional veggies and breadcrumbs) and a mini muffin pan.  They are little bites of creamy deliciousness.

The mini potatoes were very loosely based on this Ray Ray recipe.  However, I just did my own thing with the innards. 

So, back to the stuffing.  I came up with the recipe by starting with a basic outline and doing some research of other recipes.  It tastes similar to my mom's so I'm happy.  The cornbread recipe is adapted from Veganomicon's.  Except I like my cornbread sweet because that's what I grew up on.  If you don't, you might want to half the sugar.

Cornbread Stuffing
1 recipe cornbread, cubed (recipe below)
3 cups bread, cubed
1/2 Tbsp rubbed sage
1 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp margarine
1 large white onion, diced
1.5 cups celery, diced
2-3 cups vegetable broth, added in 1/2 cup increments until moistened
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9X9 pan with nonstick spray. Set Aside.

Add cornbread, bread, sage, and thyme to a large mixing bowl. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the margarine. Sautee the onion and celery until softened. Add to the bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add the vegetable broth in until the mixture is moistened. It should be wet enough to stick together but dry enough to be held in your hands. Now add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake for 35 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and dry to the touch.  For bites, let it cool for a bit then cut into small 1 inch squares.

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Combine non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and oil in a mixing bowl. Mix in the almond milk and vinegar mixture. Pour into the cake pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites
Oreo Truffles

These pumpkin cheesecake bites are adapted from My Sweet Vegan's Mini Icebox Cheesecake.  I love these for two reasons.  1) Making a whole vegan cheesecake is expensive!  This is not a 15 dollar cheesecake, but it's oh so good.  2) My Aunt Evelyn is pretty much known for her no bake cheesecake.  Cooked cheesecake has been dead to me since I was 7.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites
(makes 2-3 dozen)
8 oz package vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus more for garnish
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of ginger, allspice, and nutmeg
2-3 dozen gingersnaps or phyllo cups (baked according to instructions)
candied nuts or crystallized ginger for garnish (optional)

Blend cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and spices in a food processor until smooth.  Spoon into a pastry bag or freezer bag (if your piping tube melted in the great churro frying incident of '09) and refrigerate until firm enough to pipe.  Meanwhile set up your gingersnaps (or phyllo).  They are going to be the crust for these bites.  Once the filling is firm enough, pipe onto the crust.  Place candied nuts or crystallized ginger on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Place in the freezer.  I find I like these best right out of the freezer.  They don't get firm or anything.  Instead, it's like eating cheesecake ice cream or something.

How easy is that?!  I'm telling you: mini Thanksgiving is where it's at!  Two turntables and a microphooooone.