Monday, January 26, 2009

V'Con Pumpkin Cake & a Little Morning Magic

I haven't baked anything in quite a while, but I'm so glad that when the opportunity presented itself, I chose to bake this, Veganomicon's Pumpkin (Funny, I keep typing 'P-u-n-k-i-n'. Coincidence?) Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping. Although, in my case, it quickly turned into Walnut Streusel as that was all I had.

Regardless, this stuff is GOOD. Nay, GREAT! It's pumpkin-y, light, not overly sweet, but just enough to satisfy a craving. The topping is just a light scattering of extra yummy, crunchy goodness. Did I mention how moist it is? It's super moist. Another Veganomicon instant favorite. I haven't even shared any with anyone yet. This could be dangerous!

Just look at that topping!
And so moist yet not dense, very light and cakey in texture. What? Cakey is a word, right?

As for the magical aspect of this post, I just wanted to take a moment and give props to my Magic Bullet. Since our move, I'd had it on the counter but not used it. Silly me, because with this handy gadget (thank you, wonderful SIL for gifting to to me a couple years ago!), one can wake up, stumble groggily to the kitchen, toss in five basic ingredients and magically a tasty, healthy breakfast is born!This one was a yummy blend of just frozen organic raspberries, one organic banana, a tablespoon of organic raw almond butter, a few tablespoons of hemp seed, and enough plain soy milk to blend it all together.

I really want to get into making a more green smoothie in the mornings, but I'm a bit daunted by the amount of greens required to go into them. It seems as though everyone I see on the blogs includes around five cups of a green. Seriously? How do ya keep that kind of quantity on hand? and how ever would i fit that into my trusty Bullet?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Now, Why Didn't I Think of This One Sooner?!

Lemon Herb Soy Curls!It's no big secret 'round here that I'm in love with Dreena Burton's Lemon Herb Tofu from 'Vive le Vegan!'. What's not to love? It's easy, can be eaten, hot, cold, on it's own, in a sandwich, in a salad, as a salad, and is basically a flavor party in your mouth.

Last night I wanted easy, flavorful, and was craving Soy Curls. What I love about Soy Curls is that I can basically take any recipe that calls for any protein and replace it with them and viola! Instant yum with very little fuss and tons of flavor.

So basically, here I just rehydrated some Soy Curls, tossed them in the recipes marinade, and baked just as the recipe called for. Meanwhile, I cooked up some Ezekiel pasta (Have you had this yet? soooo good. Firm and nutty and extremely good for you, packed with fiber and protein, this is a new favorite pasta of mine) and tossed some frozen organic peas into the pot to cook along with it.

Once drained, I tossed the pasta and peas with a little bit of Earth Balance and topped with the Lemon Herb Soy Curls. Very satisfying and extremely flavorful.

I admit that Ezekiel pasta didn't win me over from the start. While I love the bread, I wasn't sure that I was really enjoying the pasta as it is firmer and a bit courser than a whole wheat variety. But, just as I learned with whole wheat pasta, if you let it cook just a tad more than the box calls for, you get a much better result. Not mushy, just a bit more tender and less starchy tasting. Now? I love the stuff!

And it's certainly a good thing to love as it offers a flourless variety of pasta that is organic and a complete protein!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Return of the Taco Salad

Once upon a time, I had a ton of weight to lose. I saw a nutritionist, changed my diet, exercised every day, and basically LIVED on taco salads. What's not to like? They can be varied so you don't get sick of 'em, they're easy, and they taste scrumptious.

Since I got pregnant, I've been stuffing myself when I get the chance. First, it was because I was 'eating for two', then it was the breastfeeding. That stuff makes ya ravenous! Now? She's eating just fine and the other, sadly, ended months ago. Time to shed those last twenty pounds! Bring on the Taco Salad!
The great thing about being vegan and eating a taco salad is you don't get caught up in drowning them in things like cheese and sour cream. Normally, I love to, instead, drown mine in a chipotle dressing that blows Moe's outta the water, but it's Vegannaise based and not the best bet every time when trying to whittle the waistline, so I was looking for a way to nix it. (I'll be sure to dig it up and share it with you soon, though, because it is SUCH a treat when I'm making them for others and don't run the risk of having a full carafe of dressing to use up on my own that I just have to share it!)

You can go the route of beans or crumbles or, you can do like I did with this one, and saute some tempeh. The flavor of chili powder, cumin, tamari, and a dash of chipotle is such that I never even boil or steam the tempeh. Never notice the bitterness in this dish. I heat up a touch of oil and brown the crumbled tempeh. Add some spices, water, brown some more. Sprinkle in some tamari, soy sauce, or shoyu, and let it get all brown and yummy before taking off the heat.

In place of the dressing (I promise, it's amazing but you won't miss it if you do this), I just chop up a juicy, red tomato. Add some red wine vinegar, oregano, & pinches of sugar and salt to taste and toss. Let that sit while you put together the rest. I like to chop up some lettuce and toss it with some chopped cilantro. Place that either on a plate or in a tortilla shell bowl (you know, if you've been good all day and can eat up the extra calories that way). Top with the tempeh and marinated tomatoes. Green or red onions are good here as well (I didn't have any). Avocado is even better (none of that on hand either). this is where I HIGHLY recommend Dreena's avocado cream. super yum. As I said, I was sans avocado, so that was a luxury I didn't have and I admit, I had to use up some Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream on mine. I know, this is not the healthiest option, but here's a trick. Place one Tablespoon in a plastic or pastry bag. If you're using plastic, seal and cut a tiny hole in the corner. Decorate your salad with the 'sour cream' in such a way that is pretty, spreads it out evenly, but delivers only half the recommended serving size! So good.

I'm not a fan of any vegan cheeses so I never top with that, but you could certainly add that addition if you're so inclined. And seriously, the avocado cream...the cashew one....oh yeah, it's fantastic.
The best part? If you're preparing this for one? You'll certainly have left over ingredients to toss together in a snap the next day either in another salad or a wrap. Oh, and if you were to leave out the shell, scoop up the bites with baked tortilla chips for a lower fat meal!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

From the Cook Who Never Cooks These Days

Seriously, I don't know how you vegan momma's do it out there, with all the amazing culinary prowess! Me? I've been living on things like oatmeal, cereal, Amy's foods, salads, tofurkey outa sandwiches, and other pre-packaged easy fixes.

I so miss my time in the kitchen! But tonight was a nice little peek thru the window into what lies ahead. I WILL make time for more cooking. I can't promise anything all that involved any time soon, but I was reminded of just how perfect simple vegan cooking can be.

Enter the perfect easy stir fryMy only regret is that I did not make a pot of brown rice but instead threw a bag of Uncle Ben's plain brown rice in the microwave. Eh, whatever, it's the rest that made this so great.
All I did was toss some (cubed very small and well drained) tofu in some heated olive oil (I usually would use grapeseed but Olive's what we have on hand right now) until it started to brown. Then, Grit style, I sprinkled with Shoyu and a light dusting of nutritional yeast. After that browned a few minutes I added broccoli florets and cooked until the broccoli let go of that earthy, nutty aroma you get when you saute it on the dry side. A tad more shoyu, a bit more n.y. a couple times over until just flavored but not overly so.
I removed that from the heat and placed it in a serving bowl.
Next, I put a couple tablespoons of Smart Balance in that hot pan and tossed in a package of sliced portabellos (this is all organic produce) and sprinkled them with some garlic powder. The heat went up a tad so that the mushrooms would brown and not steam and I let them do just that for about five minutes. they went on top of the tofu and broccoli and OH MAN was dinner good tonight!
So simple, so tasty, so GOOD!

in other news, how cute is Taylor experiencing tofu for the very first time?she loved playing with it but doesn't like putting anything that's supposed to go in her mouth in her mouth just yet. that's ok. that's what mommies have immersion blenders for, right? ;)