Friday, June 29, 2007

VT Chicago Diner Burgers

As soon as I saw all the burger recipes in the latest VT I knew I had to try this one of the Chicago Diner fame. Always on the hunt for non soy patties, this bean lacking variety was something new and exciting for me!

They were extremely sticky and almost didn't make the flip during the oven baking but that all worked out in the end (what a lesson in patience, tho, to not completely destroy them!). After baking I opted for broiling each side for 7 min rather than grilling as we're still in the market for a new grill. I broiled four of them and still was able to freeze the other eight! which I'm planning to heat on the George Foreman* when I make them again.

The flavor is wonderful (the base is oats with lots of shrooms and onion and celery) and the texture is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. At first I thought too chewy, but the more I ate of them (the four are all gone now!) the more I dug it.
And the simple roasted red pepper aioli? Heaven! I served them up with some leftover veggies, sweet white corn off the cob and roasted cauliflower. I'm thinking a bed of spinach for my burger would have been just what I needed to complete this tasty meal. I'll do that next time!

*just put one of the frozen patties in the GF for 7 min only to find a very flattened mess when the time was up. A yummy mess, once scraped off the grill and sandwhiched between two slices of whole grain bread and topped with the aioli, but a mess nonetheless. Moral of the story? these puppies work best in the oven or on a regular grill but won't hold up to the pressure of a GF like contraption.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Easy and So Good!

I wish that I could remember who I stole this idea from (if it's you, lemme know for I seem to have not linked to your blog like I thought I did) because it's totally not my own idea but we absolutely loved it. A tomato and tofu riNOTta tart. This one is on puff pastry as it's been late dinners for us these days and making a dough up from scratch was just not gonna happen. I also did up some more of the balsamic glazed portabellos with every intention of throwing them on top as well, once it came out of the oven, but instead decided they'd jazz up a quick salad of butter lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers with a little Annie's Naturals Shiitake Sesame Vinaigrette. This was a great, easy, and fast meal. As I was enjoying my dinner, little Marley put her cute face on (if you know Marley, aka the Doom, you know that this mask is just as cute as it is deceptive. hehe) and ever so slowlyinched closer and closer to my plate to see if I'd share.While tempted, I have to admit I ate it all myself. Sorry Marles!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seitan Roast Success

I love seitan, but I'm totally picky. I cannot stand store bought varieties and love how easily it's made at home, but am still quite a novice when it comes to making it. I've only had one real bad experience so far (I blame the brand of vital wheat gluten I used), but am still constantly on the lookout for those recipes/cooking techniques that will reeeeally knock our socks off. (Speaking of...have you seen Tracy's blog? That woman is the QUEEN of seitan! Amazing stuff over there!)

This search led me to Ellen's Kitchen & Ellen's Best Unchuck Roast. One, if it's the Best, I was all about it. Two, this method uses a crockpot, something I've really wanted to try. There are still some other versions of a seitan roast both here and over at Bryanna's site that I'm dying to try, but this one won out as it looked like I had just about everything I need here at home to pull it all together.

First, I made Bryanna's oyster sauce. This stuff is incredible, and wonderful to now have on hand. Came together in a snap and reeeeally tasty. I used two 8 oz. packages of dried shiitakes (they were on sale, woohoo!) and now have shiitake powder in the fridge (those two packages made a TON of 'shroom powder in the coffee grinder) for making stocks and other things...or more oyster sauce!

Next I jumped into the rest of the recipe. I was forced to make one major substitution as this recipe calls for 5 cups of black tea and the only black tea we ever have in the house is chai. I settled on a strong green and managed to fine one straggler black pekoe bag (thanks mom!) in our very large basket 'o tea varieties (what? doesn't everyone keep a gargantuan basket in their pantry of tantalizing teas? ;) Also, the bread maker I'd begged and pleaded for now resides in our garage as it's singular little paddle does more in the way of creating a little hole in the middle of any dough and just spinning 'round and 'round doing nothing than anything else. I figured I'd just knead by hand. I find that very satisfying when making breads, should be the same, right? Not so much. I likely could have kneaded the dough more for a firmer, more dense roast, but it began to get really sticky and tough and I ended up kneading once for 5 min, letting it rest for 15-20 (while I cleaned up a bit) and then kneaded again for another 5 min before putting in the crock pot.

My next bump in the road came after an hour of it cooking in the crock pot. The cap'n was going to be in town between flights (this is 30 min drive from where we live) and I had the opportunity to go see him for a few min before he jetted off to somewhere else for another couple of days. Heck yeah! Miss an opportunity to wrap my arms around that fine hunk o' man? Not a chance!!! So, I situated the vermin, hopped in the car, and started to speed away. Enter deeply rooted paranoia. The thought of leaving the crockpot (that sucker gets HOT, even on low!) plugged in and on for the 90 min i'd likely be gone with all seven of our babies inside a house we're currently trying to sell was suddenly NOT an option (I found out, doing a third grade book report, that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on my birthday. I've had fire issues ever since ;). Back into the house, turned off the pot, unplugged it even, noticed it was puffing up nicely. sigh. and on my way I went.

Home an hour and a half later, I just plugged the pot back in and cooked for three hours before turning. It was no longer puffing up like it had been. as i've no experience with this cooking method so I didn't really worry. not really. Four more hours after the turn and I shut the whole thing off, allowing it to cool in the pot to room temp (while I slept) before tossing in plastic baggies (half for the 'fridge, half for the freezer) in the morning. Inoticed that the outside was not all that firm, that it actually had a lot of loose pieces hanging off of it.Mmmmmmm, I love this texture. I know a lot of people want it firm and dense all the way thru, but not me. I'm thinking my hand kneading actually produced the result I'm partial to. I love this shaggy, juicy exterior.This stuff is amazing to slice thin and I knew just what I'd do with it later that evening to test it out.

Burgundy Seitan!
I didn't use a recipe, just winged it with marvelous results.

Slice seitan roast very thin and place slices in bowl with about 2 c. burgundy cookin
g wine. Meanwhile, slice thin 10-12 oz crimini mushrooms, 1/2 med onion, and three cloves garlic. Put 2T vegan margarine in hot skillet and add onion, garlic, and mushroom, and saute until onions are just getting soft. Put 3-4 heaping T of flour and salt and pepper into plastic baggie and, shaking off excess liquid, add seitan strips. Close bag and shake to coat. Place veggies in the bowl of wine. 2 T more marg. in the pan and cook coated seitan strips until they are browned on both sides. Dump in bowl of wine with veggies, add 1 heaping T brown sugar and about 1/2 tsp tarragon. On med to med hi heat, simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over grain or whole wheat pasta with a green vegetable. I just heated some frozen green beans and added salt, pepper, and almond slices. Delicious! Now that I know how well this stuff cooks up in this way, I plan to treat the Cap'n to Seitan Marsala tonight using the same method but with Marsala wine and lemon juice rather than burgundy wine and the sugar/taragon. I do adore the burgundy, but Marsala is the only wine left in the house! Then again, I may scrap the wine sauce altogether and go with a green curry. I know he loves a good curry. I'll let ya know if whatever we enjoy turns out as good or better than the original.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sweet Dreams

For the last few nights, and likely every night to follow, I have been enjoying the perfect ending to each day...thanks to the suggestion by my most wonderful husband.

You, too, can enjoy the fruits of the Cap'n's boundless wisdom. Here's how:

1. Take frosty pint glass from freezer.

2. Slowly pour almond milk* into glass, being careful to rotate glass so as to allow the milk to run down it's frosty surface to the bottom.

3. Set glass down and wait....just a min.

4. Slowly sip chilled liquid.

5. When getting toward the end of your beverage, sling that baby back and let the almond sludge glide down your glass and onto your palate.

6. make that satisfying '*gulp* aaaaahhhhhhh' sound while a chilly exhale escapes you and set down empty glass with total satisfaction and sheer delight.

7. repeat every night thereafter.

I'll tell him you said thanks. ;)

*we currently buy Almond Breeze's original (plain) almond milk. I haven't tried many, but it's my absolute favorite. I reeeeally want to start making it myself, tho. Especially after enjoying it this way. I can't imagine a homemade, fresh version wouldn't just be even better. It seems very straightforward and appears to be just a matter of soaking, blending, and straining. Anyone make their own and have any tips? I assuming the leftover pulp can also be used in all kinds of ways!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh My Goddess Tempeh (again)

Last night was a repeat of a tempeh dish I absolutely love.Oh My Goddess Tempeh (I've posted this one before)
my beautiful friend Marlo's recipe

You'll need:
one package tempeh
mushroom stock (veg works well, too but the best flavor comes from a 'shroom version)
10 oz. crimini or baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
arrowroot powder
olive oil
lemon juice
dry white (or red, whichever...I've made it both ways) wine
fresh parsley
fresh rosemary

1. Open a dry bottle of white wine, your choice. Pour yourself a generous glass as you prepare meal below.
2. Take frozen or fresh tempeh and cut into strips (1” x 4”). Place in once inch of softly boiling mushroom stock. Simmer on medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Throw in a splash of olive oil and shake tempeh around to coat. Brown gently, and throw in a couple of healthy splashes of lemon juice.
3. Once juice has absorbed, and tempeh has browned, take out of pan; set to the side for later. This may be extremely dangerous. While only a step in this dish, the tempeh is, in fact, scandalously delicious at this point. I had to make a second batch because I couldn't resist munching on it as I made the rest of the recipe.
4. In the same pan (less clean up, yeah!) add some more olive oil, along with whatever fresh green herbs you have that need to be used up. (I had parsley and rosemary; I feel like the rosemary is particularly crucial.)
5. Sauté herbs, then add sliced crimini or baby bella shrooms.

6. Don’t burn your hands as your reach in to taste that perfectly browned shroom.
7. Add a pinch of flour or arrowroot powder as a thickener for the sauce.
8. Slowly mix in generous amounts of white wine and lemon juice.
9. Add freshly cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.
10. When sauce has thickened, pour over tempeh.
11. Serve with favorite green veg.
12. Go back for seconds.

Served mine up to myself (just dinner for one this evening) with some sauteed broccoli with lots of garlic and a tiny bed of brown rice.


This summer weather's got Bar-B-Q on my brain, but my favorite marinated tofu on the grill will have to wait until...well...we get a new grill. Until then, roasting everything I can get my hands on will work just fine ;) This particular night we had roasted organic carrots (w/ garlic, sea salt, pepper, and thyme), roasted cauliflower (w/garlic, sea salt, and pepper), roasted mini-yukon potatoes & onions (w/garlic, sea salt, pepper, rosemary,and thyme) and served with some quinoa, using a veg. based broth to cook in instead of water with a bunch of garlic as well as some of VWaV's Balsamic Glazed Portabello Mushrooms (wow! we really loved these, so simple and packed full of flavor!) Overall, a fantastic meal both the first night and then another, sans the 'shrooms (we devoured those) and with some sauteed spinach instead.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Morning and Night Decadence

Woke up this morning with only one thing on the brain...pancakes. These are VWaV's coconut pancakes with pineapple topping. I used about 1/2 c whole wheat flour and the rest unbleached white, then I added fresh blueberries on top. So good! And a sweet start to the day was met with a sweet end... Vive's Coconut Lime Cookies (wow! I'd never made these before, and they are fantastic!) with a bit of Purely Decadent's Mocha Almond Fudge soy dessert sandwiched in between. I wasn't sure if the two would compliment one another, but turns out? tangy, limey, coconut yumminess goes perfectly with mocha, fudgey goodness. who knew?

The cats circled like sharks while we enjoyed these. Every moment of their consumption was savored in shared, sugar-filled satisfaction. Sorry kitties, we're not sharing! ;)

Friday, June 22, 2007

to TVP or not to TVP

I'm on the fence as to whether or not these will make another appearance (you know, aside from the one that comes from using up the remaining half bag of TVP in my pantry ;)...but it's not because they're not outrageously tasty. Behold, Vegan Vittles' Better Burgers. They might just be the best vegan burger I've made to date. I love the flavor and the texture and just how easy they come together. Here I served them simply on a potato roll with a bit of Vegannaise and Nutr. Yeast Mustard with a side spinach salad of pears, chickpeas, and Annie's Naturals Goddess Dressing.

So why am I questioning making them again? I bought the TVP long ago (TSP and TVP are both defatted and dried out soy) before I'd read anything about it and only heard it was easy to use and tasty from fellow veg's.

Wanting to make it somehow I found some recipes but then had also been reading my whole foods encyclopedia that pointed out (and lists it under 'toxic foods', yikes!):
'One, TVP is a highly refined byproduct of soy oil production. Two, it often causes gastric distress because it contains the hard-to-digest oligosaccharides found in soy beans. TVP is made form soy isolate, soy protein that's chemically extracted from defatted soy meal. It is extruded under high pressure and spun into bits or chunks or marketable food-stuffs'.
No biggie, right? if it doesn't cause you gastric distress you'd think you're in the clear. Then I did a little Googling and found this article and it got me wondering... What are your thoughts on TVP/TSP. Do you use it often, have you read any definitive info on it's health benefits or harmful effects?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Black Bean Burgers

I love pre-making batties and freezing them for future use. I don't think before becoming vegan this ever even occured to me and I settled on store-bought varieties that, in hindsight, sooooo can not compare. As most all of them contain egg whites, cheese, or some other by product or are vegan but just don't taste good, are full of sodium, AND usually entirely too expensive for what you get, making your own can be rewarding on so many levels.

Enjoying the most recent batch of salsa led me to try out
Kate's New & Improved Black Bean Burgers when I needed to bring something to a family dinner.

I served mine up on some homemade salsa and topped with a bit of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream*, crumbled organic corn chips, and some fresh cilantro. So good! Thanks Kate! This one's a winner for sure and I love that I have a few more in the freezer for a quick and truly delicious meal.

*I swore to myself the other day that this is the last tub of that stuff I'm gonna buy. I have only made the
Nutritional Yeast Cookbook's version of vegan sour cream once before and it was alright but I'm wondering if any of you have a tried and true recipe that you'd recommend instead?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tofu Eggless Salad, Then Scrambled

Recently, after a long day, I dug out a Tofu Mate Eggless Salad mix out of the pantry and settled on a very simple meal of a Green Salad (Butter Lettuce, cucumber, carrot, 'shrooms, tomato, and homemade That Ginger Dressing)with this tofu salad on Wasa crispbread with so
The salad is a favorite of ours, and I'd never tried the Tofu Mate before. It was pretty good, definitely had the convincing flavor of a good egg salad. I added some chopped green onion, but otherwise followed the package directions. Overall, I like it, but didn't crave the rest of it now sitting in the fridge.

The next morning I remembered the two fancy biscuits from Father's Day Brunch at the Cap'ns Uncles house (my contribution was How it All Vegan's Fancy Biscuits and the Grit Cookbook's Yeast Gravy w/ VWaV's Tempeh Sausage Crumbles mixed in...a huge hit, but no pics. sorry!) I still had to finish off. I whipped up a quick portion of the Grit inspired gravy, just recalling the recipe from my head and going with it, adding some garlic powder and onion powder. Then, I took some of the eggless salad and threw it in a skillet with a spray of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of nutritional yeast* until it browned up nicely.I gotta say, I am totally in love with the results! So much so? I had it again today over a vegan potato roll (yeah, so much for swearing off store bought white least til these babies are yummy!). Once again, the leftovers outshine the original meal at our house. I love that. I may win the Cap'n over to loving leftovers after all. ;)

*for those of you that have been reading a while, remember when I bought the 6 lb bucket of NY from vegan essentials? Well, here it is....more than half empty...just over six months later.
Told you I'd be lucky if that thing lasted us a whole year! I filled some old Red Star NY shakers to gift a couple friends and family who weren't all that familiar with the product but eager to try it out. I keep an old Ian's breadcrumbs container full of NY in the 'fridge and just refill from the bucket as needed. LOVE IT!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spotlight on Quinoa

I love quinoa. Before becoming vegan, I'd never used it. I'd tried some quinoa pasta (not a big hit, sadly) but never thought about using the grain or knew much about it.

These days I'll quickly cook up a batch over rice any day of the week. It's full of protein, cooks up in 15 min, and tastes great. What's not to love about that?

In cleaning out the freezer recently, I found two half blocks of tofu, one extra firm, one firm silken. I thawed them out, squeezed out as much water as I could, and wondered what the heck to do with the soy mess I was facing.

Remembering I had some leftover quinoa in the 'fridge (about a 1/2 cup), I had an idea. Quinoa patties were born. I don't have a formal recipe yet and am excited to work on it. For my first attempt I just mixed in about 2-3 T soy sauce, some nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, black pepper, about 1/4c. rolled oats, and some oregano and thyme (my go-to combo when I'm just checking for texture and not ready to tinker with flavor, it seems). I formed these into patties and began to sautee in grapeseed oil but found that wasn't gonna work.

So in the 350 oven they went for about 25-30 min, flipping half way thru.Oh yeah, these are wonderful. I think they'd be great with a curried flare next time, possilby with a cucumber/soy yogurt sauce. For now, I just ate 'em plain or dipped in a little agave mustard and loved every last bite of them.

When next I make them I think I'll try a couple variations and be sure to jot down my notes and share the recipe(s).

Monday, June 18, 2007

More 'Shroom Fondue 'n Sloppy Lentils

Can't believe I never posted about this...
The leftover 'Shroom Fondue that we just can't get enough of (and made for our guests recently) was heavenly on a potato roll (found incidentally vegan at the local large chain grocery) with a bit of tomato sauce and seitanroni slices (sauteed then steamed a bit to plump them up and make them a tad less dry). So good in fact, that it warranted a side of the remaining seitanroni to blanket. With the addition of some of the summer's sweet white corn Mmmmmm, what great,quick and easy meal!

The following night, not really in the mood to whip up more seitan and trying to have a soy free day, I decided on lentils of the Sloppy variety a la Vegan Core. I kept most everything the same
except I opted for two cans of no salt added tomatoes and about 2T tomato paste instead of the sauce and used fresh chopped basil for the generous pinch of dried. Here they are simmering in the pot.
I can't believe I'd never attempted to make this before. Such great flavor and reeeeeeally satisfying. Not all that thick to be putting on a bun and no buns in the house anyway led to, what I think, was a much better way to serve them up.....
on a bed of quinoa, my most favorite grain with a sprinkling of hemp seeds. can you say protein? hehe. and no soy to be found. yay! sometimes, I just really want to break away from relying so heavily on one source of protein. meals like this make that a snap.

In lieu of dessert, and with full bellies we opted for our favorite nighttime tea
the Valerian root really works for us and makes relaxing before bedtime a truly serene experience....even banAnna and Tabes were ready for some serious sleep time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday To Me!

And everyone else! I love birthdays...actually, my switch from vegetarianism to veganism came to be after my bday party last year when I threw myself and our friends a bday bash with a full-on vegan spread, something I'd never attempted before. It was great fun to plan, the food was divine, and I felt amazing having excluded food items that I was struggling with consuming. As happens every year, lots of friends' and families' birthdays are close to mine but this year I was able to bring vegan birthday cupcakes to each celebration and have been caught up in a whirlwind of birthday yummy for about a month now. The funny part is, I've only made one kind of cupcake from VCTOTW each time. hehe. Couldn't help it! the cookies 'n creme variety is just so fantastically good, I had to make sure that each bday girl/boy was presented with it's fabulousness before I could move on to some other version. On the third batch of these delectable birthday desserts, I employed a technique I learned from the food channel once upon a time that produces a spikey texture to the frosting. Sadly, this next pic is not of those. I have no idea where those pics are, so here's one of the first batch (again) from our friend Karen's surprise bday party we hosted at our house. She was the one to kick off the 'birthday fever' we've been so happily enjoying this summer.In true amazing husband fashion, the Cap'n gifte me with some of the things I've been coveting for far too long.....
I know this one seems silly to most, but it is my MOST favorite bday gift, honestly. I LOATHE waste and have huge issues with how much we throw away. I don't even buy plastic containers too often for leftovers because i prefer, instead, to use all the veg. margarine and other little tubs that inevitably pile up once the product is all used (yes, my 'fridge is full of marg. containers that all look like margarine save for the big black X i've marked on them once empty. hehe). We do, from time to time, find need for plastic bags and I reeeeeally hate using them, but knowing I'm using them as much as I can til they're actually garbage, almost ready to degrade? this makes me happy....happier. I'm getting there. Soon I hope to kick the habit of using them at all. And don't even get me started on my Press 'N Seal addiction.

Next up, something he knew I'd be getting a LOT of use of in the future....I drove out of town with a dozen cupcakes and the dog in the car and no amount of stopping and turning got those puppies to budge from their little places the whole time. I LOVE this thing! Wish I could say the same for the poor dog. She's yet to figure out that standing up while mom is in traffic may lead to her being jostled around a bit (as much as 85lbs can be just jostled around a bit!) in the car.

Lastly, the Cap'n gifted me the glorious beginning of some much needed and so wanted organization for our pantry. These acrylic containers are so wonderful and everything looks so great up there! I especially love that I don't have bags of flour or grains that have been opened in plastic bags any longer. yay!oh, and it was time to finally throw out my flowers as the last of their clinging beautiful petals were beginning to grace more the floor than anything else...I just loooove picking out flowers and then arranging them at home...and then you'll inevitably find me with camera in hand, just marveling at each perfect bloom...
Happiest summertime birthdays to everyone!