Thursday, March 27, 2008

Apple Jacks and a Sneak Preview!

There's no denying that Spring has sprung. The birds are plentiful (we even spotted a downey woodpecker in our front oak yesterday!), the trees are that amazing vibrant green again, there was even a hare nibbling at the weeds near my bedroom window this morning! It's pretty much heaven on Earth here in Florida lately. But we have been having some unseasonably cool mornings. Yesterday being one of them, I wanted something hot for breakfast and a tofu scramble just wouldn't do. Enter Vegan Vittles' Apple Jacks. This recipe is literally only five ingredients and whips up lickety split. I opted for no raisins in mine and just went with apple alone. I only had a fuji apple rather than the granny smith it called for so I knew mine would be sweet enough as is. But that didn't stop me from sprinkling mine with powdered sugar and a healthy drizzle of maple syrup. Oh, and walnuts, I love walnuts all over breakfasts such as these.

They're amazingly crisp on the outside while light and fluffy on the inside. I can see me making these again and again. This morning the leftovers did pretty well warmed up in the oven, but this time I wised up. I threw on the nuts and sprinkled on the powdered sugar but served them up to myself with a side of maple syrup so I could really enjoy that outer crunch all the way thru to the end. brilliant!

I should probably apologize for not blogging too much lately. Seems one fun new side effect of pregnancy for me is carpal tunnel! yay! typing really isn't so horrible but grasping anything can be I'm cooking fun stuff in the kitchen less often than I'd like. I'm also not sleeping well due to having painful claw-like appendages for hands throughout the night so I pretty much spend less time at the computer or in the kitchen. But I do have baby shower pics to share and even the amazing V'con Pumpkin Ziti I contributed to Easter dinner (assuming I snap a pic before I devour the rest of it!), so I'll try to get on it soon and share.

Until then....the one thing I have been spending time on? The nursery! Taylor's room is sooo close to being completed. I just need the Cap'n to get up on the ladder for me and get a few big things hung. Her room is jungle themed, so the sneak preview is this pic of what you first see when you open the door. Too cute! More to come soon! (hopefully before she gets here, that's only seven weeks away!)thanks to Aunt Nicole for the killer name plaque and Aunt Marlo for the amazing jungle garlands that decorated the shower and now her room!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Isa's Done it Again

Give that girl a mango and look out! I've always been in love with VWaV's Curried Mango Tempeh Salad and look forward to it every summer when mangoes are at their peak. So imagine my surprise when beautiful just the right amount of soft mangoes were 10 for $1 at the grocery store recently. With no tempeh in the house (gasp!) what was I to do? I cracked open Veganomicon and there was another mango masterpiece, Mango Quinoa Black Bean Salad (or some such thing, I've honestly no recollection of what her proper name for it is, and I'm entirely too lazy and too pregnant to get up, walk back across the house, and go find out ;).

Quinoa, as you know, is not only a protein powerhouse, but cooks up in no time. Chop up a mango, a pepper (I had orange while the recipe calls for red), some green onions, black beans, cilantro, and a few dressing-y ingredients and viola! A bowl of delicious, healthy, refreshing goodness is born!
This will be great to whip up in the summer for family gatherings, but the last couple of days I've just been dishing up a bowl and calling it lunch!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Vegan Alfredo....the Real Deal

For quite some time now I've merrily lurked the ppk forums. Truth be told, I spend a LOT of time there, reading, drooling, laughing my asparagus off, but I never jump in. why? because I can never seem to get an avatar pic to load, I'm not all that fond of the username I gave myself, and I'm far too lazy to participate in the food porn there which, to me, is really the best way to introduce yourself. hehe. So lurk away I do.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, in my perusing the boards tonight I stumbled upon Lachesis's (of the Seitan O' Greatness recipe fame) recipe for a vegan Alfredo that she promised was as good, if not better, than the original dairy-laden version. I admit I was skeptical. For one, most vegan Alfredo's don't make that claim, they just try to replace the beloved sauce with something equally rich, creamy, and flavorful but never going for that particular taste. Also, this sauce is tofu based and contained no nutritional yeast (which just seemed odd to me in this kind of recipe). I'm typically wary of tofu-based sauces. Don't get me wrong, I loooove me some tofu, and I suppose the only 'sauces' I've tried with tofu as a base have really only been salad dressings....and I loathed each of those. Since those were never cooked and this one is I figured, 'why not?!'

Ladies and Gentlemen? This was everything the amazing Lachesis promised....and so simple to make! Her original version was actually an Alfredo Stroganoff concoction with marinated mushrooms and suggested addition of chik'n strips. I wanted to really put the 'cream' sauce to the test so I just made mine and poured it over whole grain pasta and broccoli.
The best part (aside from how YUMMY this was!) was that, with the help of my trusty hand blender, I only used two pots for this meal. I put all the ingredients for the Alfredo Sauce in one pot, whirred it to a creamy smoothness, and heated it up while I cooked the pasta, adding the broccoli for the last three minutes. Ta da! Best darn Alfredo I've had in AGES.

I should probably add here that I enjoyed the helping you see above just as you see it. Then I bastardized it in my usual way by getting a second helping and dousing it with a generous amount of nutritional yeast. I highly recommend trying this one out as is in her recipe sans n.y., but if you're a n.y. NUT like me (I seriously cannot get enough of this stuff), it will only get even better with that addition. What can I say? I'm a cheezy kinda gal.

Edited to add:
(for her entire original recipe, follow the link above and just scroll down to it)

Lachesis' Amazing Alfredo Sauce
1/2c Earth Balance (or a little more is fine, to taste)
2 cups soymilk (unsweetened is best)
1 package Extra firm tofu (Mori-nu.. the kind in the tetra pack, appr 12 ounces)
1-2 tbsp white cooking wine
2 tbsp onion powder
2-3 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
3-4 tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch powder (more or less, as needed.. it should be creamy and the margarine should not separate) + a little cold soy milk just to dissolve

Mix all ingredients in either in a food processor or already in saucepan with hand blender. Heat over med lo heat until hot, stirring often. whisk in arrowroot/cornstarch mixture and heat until just bubbling. do not let boil. Sauce should be thicker by now. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Lazy Vegan

That's me these days. Even with my camera battery charged (yay!) I am just not so inspired to spend too much time in the kitchen. I waited for the 'surge of energy' to hit me in the second trimester, but it never did. Now I'm in the third and MAN! am I tired! not to mention that my hands have been so darn achey lately.

I take that back....some days I actually wake up with what I think is energy and whip together a breakfast such as this one, Susan's Crustless Quiches (my favorite variation to date is onion and broccoli), some easy basic biscuits a la La Dolce Vegan (all those years of trying to make biscuits and failing not realizing that the drop method into muffin tins is the ONLY way for me!, and some fresh fruit...lately it's been mango. Good stuff.
But then I eat...and sit for a minute...and POOF! that burst of energy has been spent and it's all i can do to get the chores I need done throughout the day.

So I was totally pleasantly surprised to find these little gems at the health food store at my last visit.
They're great right out of the container, cold but even better if I toss them into a hot pan and just let them brown a bit. No seasoning, no dipping sauce required. They're healthy (sodium's a bit high), vegan, and perfect just the way they are.
I had purchased a Szechuan variety as well, but the Thai were my favorite.

So I've spent quite a few days with these babies as lunch, cereals for breakfast, fruits and nuts as snacks throughout the day, and eeeeeeeeeeasy dinners of rice and whatever. Usually some brown rice, beans, seasonings, avocado, and tomatoes in a whole wheat wrap....almost daily. Nothing really to write home much less blog about.

The Cap'n's been gone a lot too so when I'm just cooking for me lately I'm even less inspired.

Then I had a night recently where comfort food was in order. So I dragged my ever expanding self to the kitchen and whipped up some simple fried tofu, smashed red potatoes (with the skins on, yeah!) with herbed gravy, and sauteed spinach.It came together faster than I thought it would and was so very worth the effort. Just what I needed!

I still have a few mangoes left and have been wanting to try a new recipe so hopefully you'll see that here soon....along with Julie Hasson's fauxsage seitan (i've so been craving seitan lately!) and I seriously doubt, fatigue or not, I can stave off the sugar cravings for too much longer so I'm thinking something sweet and sinful should be blogged in the very near future.

hope you all are well! I'm beginning to think that the awful stiffness/aching i'm experiencing in my hands may be pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. fun! only ten more weeks to go!