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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Miniature Thanksgiving Part I

Sweet, merciful Zeus!  Never has a day gone so horribly wrong before.  I'm not in a bad mood, though, because all of this is incredibly hilarious to me.  So I started out today knowing that I needed only three ingredients.  When I got home this afternoon, I decided I would make as much food as I could until I had to get the ingredients.  What should have been a quick trip to the store...really wasn't.  First, I couldn't find cranberries anywhere!  No fresh, no frozen, no canned.  What the frack?!  I didn't even know this was possible.  C'mon Food 4 Less.  Stop being lame.

Then I was getting ready to make my cornbread dressing when I realized I never got bread.  I had to stop once again and walk to the freaking store to get bread.

So, of course, by the time I finished cooking everything it was too dark to get a decent picture.  Plus, did you know Thanksgiving food is really brown?  So not food porn worthy.  Most of the photos will have to wait until tomorrow.  But here's the crappy proof that I did make the food:

Oh, and I made these awesome pumpkin cheesecake bites.  This was also something I had to adapt.  I wanted those mini phyllo cups, but Winco didn't have them.  I have never missed HEB more than I did this week.  I ended up using gingersnaps.

I'm way too tired and frazzled to post any recipes right now.  But I'll do it tomorrow.  My freezer and fridge are filled with so much food right now.  I need to give some of the sweets away because it will take us forever to get through them.

More to come tomorrow.  By the way, macaroni bites are the absolute best!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: I Got Yer Balls Right Here!

Oreo balls, of course!  Okay.  I promise y'all I'm not slacking.  I absolutely hate saying I'll do something and not being able to do it.  If I am unable to make anything for MoFo, I'll have to push it back to a less busy day.  Today was far too busy for that.  So I only have one recipe and I still owe you pics of those tempeh wingz and a jalapeno cilantro hummus recipe.

I first heard of oreo balls about four years ago.  I was in my "lacto veg/vegan" phase then, recommitting to veganism every two weeks or so.  Some wonderful coworker made these delicious things and when I asked her the name she said, "Oreo balls."  But no.  These are far too elegant for that.  I have classed them up a bit by calling them Oreo Truffles.  Truthfully, I don't even use Oreos.  I just sounds more identifiable than Newman-O Truffles.

Oreo Truffles
(makes a little less than 4 dozen)

1 package chocolate sandwich cookies (NOT double stuffed)
8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 cups chocolate chips, plus more if necessary
Chopped nuts, sugar crystals, sprinkles, candied ginger, etc. (optional toppings)

Empty cookies into a food processor and chop until you have small cookie crumbs. Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the food processor. Blend until you have a smooth batter/paste like consistency. Empty into a large bowl and refrigerate. I usually pop it into the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. You want it to be firm so that it's easier to scoop and roll.

While you wait, get your toppings ready in small bowls or shakers. After that put wax paper onto some cookie sheets. When 45 minutes is up, pour the chocolate chips into a double boiler and melt. If you don't have a double boiler, do like I do: pour the chocolate chips in a metal bowl and set the bowl on top of a saucepan with boiling water in it. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and place on a stationary surface. Get yourself a regular spoon and fork and now the fun part.

Take a half tablespoon and scoop out some of the cookie mixture. Roll in the palm of your hands until a ball forms. Place on the cookie sheet. Roll about six at a time, then dip them in chocolate. Use the fork to fish them out and the spoon to roll them back on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with whatever toppings you choose. Repeat the process until finished. If you run out of chocolate or it starts to solidify, just add more and heat through again. Once complete place in the fridge or freezer until the chocolate sets, then remove from the cookie sheets with a spatula or knife.  Eat and enjoy!

These things are great for holiday gift baskets.  They are definitely vegan tested, omni approved!  I also made apple cinnamon bars, but I wrote the recipe three years ago and water spilled on the page.  So I added too much liquid.  They are supposed to be the texture of cookies, but ended up looking like a cross between blondies and cake:

I'm not going to promise a recipe for the bars this week.  I am making a ridiculous amount of food tomorrow.  It may have to wait until next week sometime, but there will be a recipe.

And before I forget again.  I won a MoFo contest!  I am getting The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek over at the Nom! Nom! Nom! blog.  How stoked am I?  Super stoked!

Now it's review time: refrigerated Almond Breeze is the best, most creamiest, scrumptrulescent thing on earth!  I only wish the health food store by my house would sell the plain unsweetened.  They have unsweetened vanilla but not the plain.  What the crap?!  Seriously though.  This stuff is amazingly creamy and delicious.  I highly recommend it.  I don't even like having soy milk in the house anymore.  I found that I was just consuming way too many things with soy.  That's when I started getting hooked on almond milk.  Rice milk is too thin for me.  Oat milk tastes like paste.  Almond milk is where it's at, but the shelf stable stuff pales in comparison to the refrigerated kind.  Mmm.

That's all for now.  Tomorrow is miniature Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vegan MoFo III: Paul Rudd Lovin'

Today is Movie Monday.  I was so very stoked about this one because I got to revamp my old deviled tofu recipe.  I think it's so much better now.  Super creamy and delicious.  But I'm jumping ahead.  Today's movie is 200 Cigarettes.  It's about a group of people who are meeting up at a New Year's party.   It takes place in NYC in 1981.  I love this movie because I always forget that I love it.  Once I start watching it, I can't help but laugh uncontrollably.  It's got a huge cast of really good actors/actresses.  Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffmann doing their Jersey accents is so freaking funny.  It reminds me of my friend, Tara, because she used to quote Christina Ricci's character all the time.

This movie is when I realized how absolutely fantastic Paul Rudd is.  He is master of the awkward funny.  I seriously did not recognize him at first in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Gah!  I've loved this man since Clueless (which is tied with Fight Club for my favorite movie of all time).  I talk too much.

Party Like It's 1981 Menu
Don't Go Past Avenue A Deviled Tofu (vegan deviled eggs)
Better Than Crab Dip (Kmouse's spinach-artichoke dip)
The Virgin Hates It Hot Wingz (in theory, at least)

Uh oh!  Whose glasses are in my spinach-artichoke dip?

By the way, you should seriously make that dip.  It is so freaking delicious!  This will be at every party I throw from now until the end of time.  I was also going to make the DEOTS tempeh wingz (scroll down),  but I ran out of light and time.  I'm making them tomorrow and I'll be sure to take a picture.

Now onto the deviled tofu.  I originally had this brilliant (ha ha)  idea about making the egg yolk part out of beans.  The texture is very similar.  I even did a mofo entry about it last year and ever'thing.  I even did that google thing to make sure I wasn't jacking anybody's idea.  I only ever saw a handful of deviled tofu recipes and they all called for shaping tofu and using tofu as the yolk base.  That just wigs me out.  Tofu on tofu is just unnatural.  So here's my recipe (I used the vegsource boiling method for the tofu...sorta):

New and Improved Deviled Tofu
UPDATE: an updated recipe can be found here.
1 lb tofu, drained and cut into 24 squares
4 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
pinch of salt

15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup Vegenaise (or any vegan mayo)
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
pinch of turmeric (enough to make it yellow)

1/2 Tbsp dill relish
black salt (also known as kala namak) to taste
paprika (for garnish)

Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil.  Add tofu and boil for a couple of minutes.  You might need to do this in batches.  Carefully remove the tofu slices and drain.  Once they are drained and cool enough to handle, transfer to a platter and refrigerate.

Blend beans, Vegenaise, mustard, and turmeric in a food processor until smooth.  Combine bean mixture and dill relish in a mixing bowl.  Add black salt to taste.  Refrigerate until it thickens up, about 35 minutes.  Make sure you cover the bowl with something or your fridge will smell like eggs.  Blech.

Pipe bean mixture onto the tofu squares and sprinkle with paprika right before serving.

This stuff doesn't just have to go on tofu.  Pipe it into cherry tomatoes or even on bell pepper strips.  It's really good.  This is my idea of some good party food!

What's your favorite thing to serve at a party?