Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus!

The video is finally finished after multiple setbacks!  Sorry about the quality.  We are away from our usual equipment.

Onto the recipes...  This salsa is really good and perfect for winter when the tomatoes are pink and disgusting.  Letting it sit overnight is non-negotiable.  The flavors have to mesh, but it's worth it.  I like adding lime right before serving to make it taste extra fresh.

muy caliente!
30 Second Salsa
28 oz can diced tomatoes, rinsed and thoroughly drained
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded or not, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, onion, cilantro, vinegar, and salt until the consistency of chunky gazpacho.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight, the longer the better.  Right before serving, add the lime juice and taste for salt and pepper.

Ginger Balls are a variation of Oreo Truffles.  Super easy to make, which works great for a party.  Save money by using store brand cookies and buying chocolate chips in bulk.

Ginger Balls
1 pkg creme-filled ginger cookies (like Ginger-Os)
8 oz vegan cream cheese
12 oz (generous 2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips
crystallized ginger, chopped

In a food processer, chop the cookies into fine crumbs.  Add the cream cheese and blend until combined.  Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes, until easy to roll into balls.  Roll into balls and place in the freezer until firm.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (stir every 30 seconds).  Dip the balls into the chocolate and top with ginger.  Freeze until solid.  Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Spiced Caucasians are just a holiday tradition at our house.  There really is no measuring.  Just add as much alcohol as you like.  Here's what I do...

Spiced Caucasian
lowball glass
1 oz coffee liqueur like Kahlua
1 oz espresso vodka like Seagram's
vegan nog
freshly grated nutmeg, optional

Fill the glass with ice.  Top with liqueur and vodka.  Fill will nog.  Stir.  Top with nutmeg, if so desired.  For a truly caffeinated version, try Mocha Kahlua!

I hope everybody has a great holiday season!  Happy Festivus and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Full Day in SA and The Monterrey

Era and I made great time during our drive to Texas.  We left California on Thursday night at 8 PM (two hours behind schedule).  The dogs were whining like crazy for the first couple of hours.  I drove us all the way to Deming, NM and we were only an hour behind schedule.

By the time we left for Texas on Friday morning, we were right on schedule.  Friday night I spent inside watching Psych with my sister.  Correction: I fell asleep about 15 minutes in because I was exhausted.

Saturday was our first full day in San Antonio, and it was packed with things to do.  We woke up and went to the Farmers Market at the Pearl Brewery.  So much fun!  After we bought some things, we walked around the extended Riverwalk.  It's awesome on that side (no tourists).  It was a crisp morning so we stuck around to eat some food from a local cart.

Era resting on a bench, a gorgeous view of the Riverwalk, the entrance to The Grotto, and fish suspended over the Riverwalk
After our trip to the market, we visited my in-laws.  It was great to see them!  I love them so very much.  Mrs. C. was making us food and tortillas before we even sat down.  We talked for a bit and saw Era's sister, niece, and nephew.

Then, we headed to The Monterrey.  Our friend, Albert, is head chef over there.  When everything was still in the planning stages he was telling me how varied the menu is and that there was a good mix of vegan food.  The Monterrey is basically San Antonio's answer to a gastropub.  It's a truly gorgeous setup.  There's a back patio with tons of tables and a real comfortable vibe.  Just ignore the online menu because it changes all the time.  There is guaranteed to be something substantial and vegan/veganizable on the menu, though.

This was our first trip, and Albert treated us right.  First, he sent out the Housemade Pickles and French Fries.  When ordering the pickles, be sure to mention you are vegan and do not want the kimchi.  The fries come with anchovy mayo.  Simply ask for ketchup, but you totally won't need it!  They are coated in this DELICIOUS seasoning.  Some of the best fries I've ever had.

pickled radish, daikon, carrots, and shiitake and maitake mushrooms
seasoned to perfection and perfectly crispy outside with a tender inside
Next, he sent out the Smoked Root Vegetables and Celery Jam.  Seriously.  This was insanely good.  I was scared because I am always finicky around smoked veggies.  However, this was amazing!  It was smoked striped beets, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, and turnips.  So damn delicious!  I must make smoked striped beets sometime soon!  Gah.  The celery jam paired beautifully with this.  The pictures from this point on do not do the food justice. Trust me.  It was magic!

smoked root vegetables with celery jam
The final dish that he sent out, as we grabbed our bellies in full and happy delight, was Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce and Peanuts.  Whoa.  Best sprouts of all times!!!!  So tasty!  The peanuts were finely chopped and created this peanut sauce taste.  The Brussels sprouts were flash fried so they had a crispy outside and were the perfect vehicle for the sauce.  I wanted to live in this magical sprout land!  We started digging in before I realized we needed pics.

delightful!  splendid!  magical!  awesome!
We enjoyed our meal with a limited edition Dogfish Head Squall.  Tasty as hell!  This place is perfect.  Great atmosphere, fantastic food, and a wide range of beer and wine.  Plus, there's a wide range of pricing.  We're planning on heading back there with family and friends before we go back to California.

After the Monterrey, we went to Limelight because Era had a gig there.  My sister, brother-in-law, and brother showed up.  We danced the night away and got to burn off some food calories.  Haha.  It was a truly exciting and exhausting first full day home!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Appetite for Reduction Lurve

I'm still reeling from MoFo.  I've spent the last 10 days chilling out, baking, and getting ready for our Texas trip.  I felt compelled to post today because I opened up Appetite for Reduction, and had the Caesar Salad with Eggplant Bacon.  Basically, I'd like to have Isa's babies.  That ish is AMAZING!  It's so good.  Plus, 1 serving is only 100 calories.  I had 2 because the salad was that good!

don't trust the simplicity, this thing is loaded with flavor
And some other stuff from when I tested.  I didn't take nearly enough pictures, though.  I think this curry was my first tester.  It was so damn good.  And I love love love the jerk asparagus!

Caribbean curried black-eyed peas w/ plantains and jerk asparagus
The Goddess Niçoise was probably my favorite tester.  It was so colorful and seriously delicious.  This is what I love about Appetite for Reduction...the salads are so frickin' delicious and filling.

just a gorgeous plate of awesome
This is the Pineapple Collards with what I'm pretty sure is the Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal.  It was delish.

pineapple collards and dal
I've already mapped out our New Year's meal and it will be this plate of awesome.  Prolly even some cornbread.  Mmm.

hottie black-eyed peas & greens and ginger mashed sweet potatoes & apples
I also loved the Surefire Seitan so very much.  Ooh!  And the Tempeh Helper...and the Basic Baked Tofu!  I can't wait to make more from this book because I only tested around 15 recipes or so.  Bad tester!

This blog is probably going to be pretty quiet until January, but I just bought some books (Vegan Soul Kitchen and Yellow Rose Recipes) and received a copy of Caribbean Vegan.  I'll be cooking up a storm and giving reviews and all that.

Ooh, and I'm hoping to film and put up an ultra nerdy Festivus episode while in San Antonio.  I hope everybody is enjoying December!  I'm still catching up on blogs, and it feels like I'll never be done.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Baskets, Road Trips, and More!

I can't believe it's over already!  Well, sorta.  This month feels like it started forever ago, but the year is swiftly coming to an end and I'm wondering where the time went.  This has been my favorite VeganMoFo to date.  I just felt more connected to a community that I have come to thoroughly enjoy over the past few years.  I saw some of the greatest blogging in my life this year.  There are tons of new blogs I fell in love with (and thousands of posts I have to read).  More than anything, I'm proud of pushing myself further than I ever thought I'd go.  So, thanks to everybody for a wonderful November!  I have a ton of blogs to catch up on but I will do it...even if it takes several months. :)

I decided to make a short video about my vegan journey and why I know I'll be vegan for the rest of my life.  Pardon the video thumbnail.  Youtube seriously hates me because there was this one and two others with my mouth wide open and me looking crazy!

Next month, Era and I are taking the dogs and driving to San Antonio.  I'm dreading it a bit because of my Spring Break trip, but I'll have another driver with me this time so it shouldn't be so bad.  I'm excited and trying to think of some good, healthy road trip foods because I hate wasting money at fast food places and would rather not stop.  I'm the type of road tripper who loves going for 5 hours straight, only stopping to get gas.

I've also spent today thinking about Christmas/Festivus gifts to give to the family.  I'm doing gift bags this year because I can't afford more than that until Southern California decides it wants to hire people again.  I always love making gift baskets or bags because it's cheap but takes a lot of effort.  I thought I'd share my formula with you.

I try to go with something sweet, something savory, something inedible, and something d-i-y.  I'm still trying to narrow down the cookies I'm making.  But I think I'm going with a couple of different cookies, biscotti, breads, and crackers.  Also thinking candy and spiced nuts.  Each person gets a little of each.  Here are examples of stuff I did in the past.

Breakfast Basket
Jam, Wholesome cookies
Pancake Mix

Secret Santa
Mug, Tin
Three kinds of cookies
Savory Crackers

Christmas 07
Cookies, toffee, bread

Game Night
Board Game, Cards
Chips, Snack Mix

The possibilities are endless.  That's why I love giving them.  It's never a boring ordeal.  What do you like to put in a gift basket or bag?

Monday, November 29, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

Today I decided to go with dinner and a movie.  Technically, it was lunch and a movie.  I'm a huge fan of Back to the Future.  This year is the 25th anniversary so I've heard a lot about it recently.  I decided to bust out my trilogy and watch the first two.  The third is my least favorite.  Just not interested when a franchise decides to go to the old west.

The menu today was based on diner food.  I went with burgers and fries, but tried to do the "futuristic" twist. And because I'm trying to eat better after Thanksgiving, I decided against a milkshake like I originally wanted.  Onto the good stuff.  Welcome to Doc Brown's DeLorean Cafe!

Flux Capacitor Menu
Biff's Beefy Bacon Burgers
Sweet-On-Your-Son Sweet Potato Fries
Sugar Free Cup of Faux Joe

The burger patty is the Beefy Bacon Burger from 500 Vegan Recipes.  I also made hamburger buns, but they looked so horrible I actually made another burger on sourdough just to photograph.  Haha.  I still have not mastered making homemade buns.  The fixins on the burger: cheddar Daiya, mustard, pickles, tomato, and red leaf lettuce.  Served on sourdough.

The fries are sweet potato oven fries.  I seasoned them with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning and baked at 375 for 20ish minutes.

The "cup of joe" is black English breakfast.  I'm not the hugest fan of coffee, and tea takes way less time to make.

This was a perfect meal to laugh at how the 80s perceived the 2000s.  They did get the whole 80s nostalgia thing right, though.  But I'm still waiting on a flying car.  Or at least a damn hoverboard.  I mean, c'mon!  McFly had sneaks that laced themselves and that movie came out over 20 years ago!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Kitchen Gadgets

Here I am talking about my favorite and least favorite kitchen items.  Thanks to Kimberly for the suggestion!

What are your favorite kitchen things?  Is there anything that you never use or wasn't worth the money?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: It's Survey...It's Survey Time

I held out as long as I could to do the survey.  I am so lazy today that I couldn't be bothered to shower or get dressed for the day.  I'm okay with that.  Thanksgiving totally killed me.  I am done eating leftovers as they are and already transformed some into Shepherd's pie.  Tomorrow, I'm gonna use the sweet potatoes for muffins and bread or something.  I'll probably freeze it for quick breakfasts.  I haven't the slightest idea what to do with the stuffing.

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?
Shrimp.  I loved shrimp as an omni.  It's not a killer craving like it used to be.  I don't even crave vegan shrimp. 

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Avocado.  Sauerkraut.  Cilantro 

What vegan dish or food you feel like you “should” like, but don’t?
Most mac and cheese recipes.  Out of all of them, there are only about three that I really like.
What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
99% of the time, we only ever have water and almond milk.  I use almond milk for baking/cooking mostly.  So water.  Some days I'll drink a lot of tea: English breakfast, Irish breakfast, and Darjeeling are my faves. 

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings?
I haven't been to a gathering in a long time.  I usually either brought cupcakes or oreo truffles.

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
Not really.  The only thing I can think of is: I HATE RAW CABBAGE.  HATE.  If it's not cooked, I won't eat it.  Also , I have made my stance known on candied sweet potatoes.  Lastly, I do have rules when making sandwiches.  Example: If mustard and mayo are on a sandwich, the mustard touches the cheese and mayo touches tomato.  And when I made my leftover sammie, the cranberry sauce touched the stuffing and dijon mustard touched the vegan turkey.  So...yes.  Yes, I do!

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
Sweets.  Things with chocolate in them, though not actual chocolate.  Chocolate bars last forever in my house, but choc chip cookies?  Not so much. 

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
Seitan and sausages.  Also, I often make my own vegan cheese.  I am completely against buying vegan junk food that I can make myself (cookies, cakes, etc).  The only exception is bakery goods. 

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?
Earth Balance.  Almond Breeze.  Vanilla. 

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
Definite snacker.  Protein smoothies, green smoothies, sweets, bananas, apples, toast w/ almond butter and dates. 

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Mushroom, pineapple, olive. 

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?
Favorite vegetable is probably collards.  Favorite fruit is a tie between watermelon and Ataulfo mango. 

What is the best salad dressing?
Trader Joe's goddess dressing is like liquid crack.
What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Baked beans.  Almond butter and smooshed dates.  EB and jam.

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
I make a soup with as much garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper as I can stand then add veggies and gluten free pasta. 

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?
It's the margarita cupcakes from VCTOTW.

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Gingerbread biscotti from VCIYCJ. 

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?
Pasta w/ Esme's sauce and added broccoli or spinach. 

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
Raisins.  Sweet lord.  Era hates raisins and anything raisin-like.  As he gets older more things get added to the list.  He hates raw cucumber, raw celery, and cherry tomatoes as well. 

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?
I dunno.  Maybe an hour on a usual day?

That's all for now.  Tomorrow I should have some video on my favorite and least favorite kitchen stuff.

Friday, November 26, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: How Many Pics Does It Take...

...'til you get to the center of a Thanksvegan?!  Seriously, though.  This year was insane with the food!  INSANE!  I was really happy with most of it.  The stuffing and gravy from the vegan turkey was horrible, but I totally made my own as well.  Are you ready for the pictures?  Here's the full spread (with links)...

this food wouldn't fit on the table so we used our counter
Martin Cisneros ThanksVegan 2010 Menu
Black Olives
Spicy Pickled Okra
Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey
Gummy Bread Stuffing
Gravy Puddin'
Cranberry Sauce from Veganomicon
Smashed Potatoes w/ Mushroom Cashew Gravy
Green Salad
Triple Apple Cider Bundt Cake (or the half that actually came out of the pan...ha!)
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie from 500 Vegan Recipes

clockwise from top left: collards, sweet potatoes, smashed potatoes, salad, triple apple cider bundt, mushroom cashew gravy, pumpkin cheesecake pie, rolls, pickled okra, gravy pudding, olives, vegan turkey, and maque choux
Prep work saved my arse this year!  We were eating by 1PM, and that's only because I woke up late.  Everything exceptin' the aforementioned gravy and stuffing was AMAZING.  The only mishap was an undergreased bundt pan and half a cake clinging to the bottom of it.  Still, the cake is so frickin delicious!

This was a lot of food.  Today is leftovers, tomorrow I'm having my sammich, then all of this gets packed the fork up in a freezer or potpie or something.  More than ever, I wish we had friends in this city because it's such a shame to have such good food and not share the wealth.

various shots of my leftover plate...and pie
Here's how crazy things were yesterday.  I didn't even begin to finish my one plate of food!  Neither did Era...which is pretty much unheard of.  Even my leftover plate, which only had one single soup spoonful of each food, was a lot of food.  I think that's the best problem to have because cooking will be so easy for the next week.

The shining star of the show was definitely the rolls!  I have been ogling these things since John wrote about them.  I didn't even test them to see if I'd like them.  I just knew!  And they were gorgeous coming out of the oven!  Era and I tasted them before we ate because we couldn't take the taunting.  I even told my mom they were the best rolls I've ever had.  Her response?  A totally unamused, "You're treading into my territory now."  Bahahahaha!

Unity Inn Rolls of DOOM
I didn't change the actual recipe, but streamlined the execution to make my life easier.  Instead of rolling them out (I had no counter space at the time), I just made 24 balls.  I flattened them and folded them in half like the recipe stated.  I also didn't dip them in Earth Balance.  I brushed the pan and rolls with EB.  They were gooood.  These things are even great the next day!

I was also majorly in love with the Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie.  It's basically a veganized Keebler recipe.  Imagine a pumpkin pie/pumpkin cheesecake hybrid and that's what you've got.  I don't even like pumpkin pie and this was truly excellent to me!  Mmmm.

So, that was our Thanksgiving!  How was yours?  Today, I'm buying nothing because my schedule is lookin' like this: leftovers, pie, nog, maybe booze, Buffy, reading blogs, rinse, and repeat.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey Review

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!  I'm drinking cider laced with Jameson and watching Buffy right now.  I thought I'd share my experiences with the Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey.  That way, it's here for anybody else looking for reviews.

The entire thing comes with one turkey shaped roast, stuffing, and gravy.  It's a huge box and the price is around $40 (but it is 4 times the size of a Tofurky).

photo from Vegetarian Plus website

Roast: It's just cooked in foil and no basting necessary.  It was pretty moist coming out of the oven.  It's also ginormous.  4 lbs.  I was incredibly weirded out stuffing it, though.  It split on one side and I said to Era, "Hold this so I can stuff the cavity."  I never want to say that again.  Ever.

Stuffing: I had to add sage, salt, and pepper.  It was okay before it went into the oven, but sorta gummy after being baked.  Plus, there was way too much to fill the roast.

Gravy: When it thawed, it was weird.  The starch completely separated from the broth.  When I cooked it, it had the consistency of pudding.  Pudding!  I don't know what starch they use, but I didn't like how fast and fiercely it thickened.  The flavor was pretty okay.  Nice and peppery.

4 lbs
moist out of oven
no basting
comes unstuffed so you can put what you want in it
texture looks freakily turkey-like

gummy stuffing
gravy pudding
comes unstuffed so you have to stick your hand in a cavity...brr
though the texture looks great, it's not Gardein chick'n scallopini great

Basically, if you are crazy enough to spend 40 bucks on a Thanksgiving main just buy 4 Tofurkys.  I think I just want to make my roast from now on.

I'll update with the full meal tomorrow.  Hope everybody is enjoying their day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Insert Video (or Pie) Here

Last weekend I filmed this video, hoping I'd have it done on Monday.  Alas, that didn't happen.  Here it is.  Better late than never. :)  Also, I can't figure out how to get rid of the black bars.  I tried using the formatting tag and it's driving me crazy!  Anybody know?

Recipes found here.

But I am about to start baking.  I'm doing Isa's triple apple cider bundt and the pumpkin cheesecake from 500 Vegan Recipes.

All of this got me to thinking about pie.  Who am I kidding?  I've been thinking about it since Sunday or so.  I was trying to remember what we've had for the past few years.  I know a common theme is pecan and lemon.  I've already told you how they were my beloved pregan favorites.  I really love pumpkin cheesecake too.  Not so much with the pumpkin pie, though.  The only real constant is that I make no less than two desserts.  That's how it was when I grew up because I hate hate hate sweet potato pie and that's my family's jam.  The other types we had were my Aunt Evelyn's cheesecake, lemon meringue, maybe peach cobbler, and I think I remember a cherry pie once.  I'll leave you with a history of pie at our vegan Thanksgiving...

pumpkin pie cheesecake, Thanksgiving '07
smlove, Thanksgiving '07
chocolate bourbon pecan pie, Thanksgiving '08
lemon bars, Thanksgiving '08
lemon pie with cheesecake and shortbread topping and pecan pie fail, Thanksgiving '09

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Preparation Thanks

I am seriously burned out right now.  I haven't finished editing the show yet, so that's coming tomorrow.  Sorry for the lack of commenting lately.  I promise I'm going to catch up with blogs super soon.  I have Thanksgiving on the brain and I won't be thinking of anything else until I am chewing on some pumpkin cheesecake on Thursday.  So, this post is really about the prep work I'm doing. Since I'm a fan of lists, this will be in listy format.

thaw vegan turkey
chop vegetables and bread
make Viva Vegan chorizo

vegetables/bread for stuffing, onions for collards and onions/poblano for maque choux
marinate vegan turkey
make 4 cups vegetable broth
bake sweet potatoes
bake cornbread for stuffing

the marinade is Jess' method: sparkling cider, garlic, rosemary, and I added tamari
cook greens
prep mac n cheese, stuffing, and sweet potatoes up to baking point
make maque choux
prep deviled tofu
make desserts (apple bundt and pumpkin cheesecake)
make cranberry sauce
prep gravy

make rolls
cook vegan turkey
bake sweet potatoes, mac n cheese, and stuffing
make mashed potatoes and gravy
eat and fight "the -itis"

I'm sorta surprised I've kept on track.  I usually have the best intentions but end up cooking for 5 hours on the actual day.  This is going to be one speedy Thanksgiving!

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along?

Monday, November 22, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Recipeas Salad

I have the silliest grin on my face right now.  The vegan meat cake and my blog were mentioned on!  So exciting!

EDIT: Fanny totally made a vegan meat cake and it's freaking beautiful!

Speaking of cakes, please go to Louzilla's blog and vote for your favorite gay cake.  Full disclosure: I voted for entry 1 because it is absolutely stunning AND the theme is magnificent!

On to MoFo...  I have three recipes which are included in the show I'm editing.  However, I need Era to help with some audio and a video problem I'm having.  I'll come back and add the show to this entry later.  But for now, I'll give you the three recipes.  Two of them (pasta and pea salad) have been taken to many, many omni potlucks and devoured.

I used to take this pea salad to every Thanksgiving potluck when I was in Texas.  I was sorta shocked that omnis had no problem with the tofu.  You can dice it smaller than what is pictured here if you like (or leave it out).  For the mayo, I prefer reduced fat Vegenaise because it's much thicker when mixed with stuff.

Pea Salad
4 oz extra firm tofu (just remove 1/4 of the 1 lb block)
1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup vegan mayo, preferably reduced fat
1 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar (leave out if using full fat mayo)
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 15 oz cans of green peas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan bring the water, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and salt to a boil.  Add the tofu and simmer for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove from the water and let cool before dicing into small pieces.

In a medium bowl mix together the mayo, mustard, and onion.  Fold in the tofu.  Then fold in the peas.  Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

The pasta salad is something I usually bring to barbecues and gets consumed so ridiculously fast.  It works well for any vegan-unfriendly situation because it's a meal in one.  You can replace the veggies with anything you like really.  This just happens to be my favorite combo.

Pesto Pasta Salad
1 lb rotini
4 cups kale, rough ends removed, leaves and stems thinly sliced
splash of water
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup tightly packed parsley
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
for the salad:
hot water
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced black olives
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, make the pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta is boiling, make the pesto.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add a splash of water and the kale.  Cook until the kale starts to wilt and turns bright green all over.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, process the walnuts and garlic until they are finely chopped.  Add the nutritional yeast and salt and process again. When the kale is cool enough to handle, add it to the food processor and chop until fine.  Add the parsley and  cilantro and do the same, being sure to scrape down the sides.  Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

In a large bowl, add the drained pasta and pesto.  Mix the two together, using hot water if needed to make the pesto more spreadable.  Add the tomatoes, cucumber, and olives and mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now onto the deviled tofu.  I wanted to do some variations on my beloved appetizer (Era and I seriously killed these yesterday).  I came up with a smoky version and a Tex Mex one.  Both are really good.  By the way this tastes fantastic on cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes!  This photo is from last year, but what evs.

Deviled Tofu
soy free option: use tomatoes, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, or mini potatoes instead of tofu and soy free mayo

1 lb extra firm tofu, divided into four blocks (cut across the length and width)
4 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt*
15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup vegan mayo
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
pinch or turmeric
1 heaping Tbsp dill relish
black salt (kala namak) to taste
minced chives or green onions for garnish
paprika for garnish

In a huge pot bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil.  Add the tofu and simmer for ten minutes, turning halfway through.  Remove from water, drain, and let cool before slicing into squares.  I usually get 20 squares, but slice as thick as you like.  When cool enough to handle, pat them dry and refrigerate until ready to serve.  If using vegetables instead, slice and prep them anyway you like and refrigerate.

Puree the beans, mayo, mustard, and turmeric in a food processor (or with an immersion blender) until smooth.  Add the dill relish and black salt to taste.  Pour into a piping or sandwich bag and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.

Remove the tofu or vegetables and bean spread from the refrigerator right before serving.  Pipe on the bean spread and garnish with paprika and chives.

Smoky variation: Replace the dill relish with 2 Tbsp imitation bacon bits.  Replace the paprika with smoked paprika.
Tex Mex Variation: Replace the dill relish with 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp crushed Mexican oregano, and 1 Tbsp finely minced onion.  Garnish with chipotle chile powder and cilantro.

That's all for now, I have some Thanksgiving prep to do!

*For the deviled tofu, the actual tofu part should taste just slightly salty like the whites of a deviled egg.  I use regular coarse sea salt for this because the black salt flavor just disappears in the water.  Feel free to use fine sea salt.  Just add to taste.  The water should be salty enough to flavor the tofu.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Free Dates and Cookbook Lovin'

Yesterday we did our big Thanksgiving shopping.  The stores weren't nearly as packed as I expected.  I'm glad that we got it out of the way, though.  I'm super stoked, and the menu is finalized.  In fact, I think I'll start the prep work today so I don't have to chop onions all day Wednesday.  I'm determined to NOT follow my family's tradition of eating at 7PM this year.  We always aim for noon, but never actually make it.

On to the title of this post...  Era scored some free dates!  He always gets really good free stuff, which is one of the cool things about living in farm land.Fresh dates are juicy and not that dried out garbage you get on the grocery shelf.  If ever you visit SoCal, make sure to come here because this place will rock your date loving world!

5 lbs of dates....for free!

This week is pretty much going to be non stop video and super quick posts.  I'm currently editing another episode of the show.  Hoping to get it up tomorrow!  For now, this is the last of the Top 5 that I taped two weeks ago.  I'm going to tape the two suggestions I got tomorrow.  Here I am geeking out over my most used  cookbooks (I really love tres leches...ha ha).

Links to everything:
5. 500 Vegan Recipes-By Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman
4. Vegan Brunch-By Isa Chandra Moskowitz
3. Vegan with a Vengeance-By Isa Chandra Moskowitz
2. Veganomicon-By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
1. Viva Vegan-By Terry Hope Romero

Saturday, November 20, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: How Smackers Got His Groove Back

After the big gay cake fail from a few days ago, Smackers really needed cheering up.  He wanted cake and was a little bummed that he couldn't eat a rainbow of jello.  So, I decided to make a mini gay cake just so I could say that I didn't give up.  I cranked up the oven, pulled out my ingredients, and Smackers donned his favorite gay apron so we could get to makin' cakes.

I used a recipe from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes.  It was the miniature yellow cake recipe in the section dedicated to children and Easy Bake Oven recipes (the best thing EVER).  I flavored it like lemon, doubled the recipe for each layer, and made a very simple tfrosting.  Even though the frosting was easy, it was seriously temperamental.  Too melty at room temp, too stiff when refrigerated.

Here is Smackers trying to serve himself before I even took pictures.  He always forgets that pictures are necessary when making gay cakes.

Smackers doesn't like this food photo thing

Trying to pry the cake away from him was a little hard because he had forgotten to eat breakfast before we started baking.

he's seriously not giving it up!

When I finally convinced Smackers to sit still for pictures, I was stoked.  He wants everybody to know that he did the frosting, which is why it's a little wonky.

with no opposable thumbs, whatcha gonna do?

I think my favorite part was definitely coloring the cake.  I used coloring gel and divided each layer into three. Then I just did ROY G. BV because 6 colors was easier than 7.  There was a little swirl action on top, and the cakes looked really cool unfrosted.  Here's a  closer picture of the inside.

gay and loving it!

Smackers and I gave this cake two snaps, a twist, and a kiss.  I was really glad I finally made a gay cake!  I'm certain I will attempt the jello thing again in the future, probably on a smaller scale.  I can't wait to see all the entries for Louzilla's contest!  Excited!

Hope everybody has a fabulous weekend!

Friday, November 19, 2010

VeganMoFo IV: Pancake or Death?

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day.  No hesitation in that statement.  In fact, I would like to campaign to make breakfast foods a part of every meal.

In the beginning of my veganism I never really knew what to eat for breakfast.  I didn't know anything about tofu scrambles and my first pancake ventures ended horribly.  So I decided to take pictures of what I ate for breakfast this week.

Often times it's just a smoothie or maybe some oatmeal.  Sometimes, I'll just eat leftovers from dinner.  As witnessed here:

eggplant rollatini and kale salad

With VeganMoFo going on, I've had to eat leftovers for breakfast or freeze a lot of stuff.  It's much harder to cook new things everyday than I thought!  Ha ha.  Here are some leftovers from last week's Iron Chef challenge.  The bowl looks deceptively big.  It's only 1/2 cup and the plate behind is a tiny appetizer plate.

quinoa caviar and eggnog quinoa & tapioca pudding

Some days I'll crave something super sugary for breakfast: cinnamon rolls, cake, fritters.  Other days I only want a green smoothie or juice of some kind.  I love juicing carrots because they almost get a creamy texture.

carrot, apple, celery, kale, parsley juice

Yesterday I woke up and wanted an epic breakfast, so I had a full English (a first for me)!  It was seriously delicious, though I'm making my own sausage next time.

sausage, baked beans, creminis, sourdough toast, scramble, potatoes, fresh tomato, and English breakfast tea

Last night we went out with a friend to see a deejay in Palm Springs.  I guess staying out as late as we did got to me because I woke up with a sore throat.  I opted for tea and cream of rice this morning.  Cream of rice is my absolute favorite!  I eat it with a bit of cashew butter and brown sugar.  I just noticed that my health food store sells cream of brown rice, so I'll have to try that next time.

horrible picture, but I assure it's delish...served with English breakfast tea

Other breakfast regulars for me are: pancakes, cereal and yogurt, toast with Earth Balance and jam, breakfast tacos, fruit and yogurt, muffins, smoothie made with frozen fruit and pea protein, and Barnard's brown rice breakfast (from How It All Vegan).

What's your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?