Category: Food & Recipes, Human

Big Boat Banana Bread

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

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Banana bread is pretty much my favorite use for overripe bananas – except MAYBE for banana bread banana ice cream! – so when I saw the Big Boat Banana Bread in Cookin’ Up a Storm, I knew it was just a matter of time before I tried it. Time to remember to pick up a bunch of bananas, wait for them to properly brown – while also not eating them in the interim – and then bake ‘em instead of slicing ‘em up for future ice cream. It took me at least three tries before I got it right, you guys. The instinct to turn ALL THE BANANAS into ice cream is strong.

The end result turned out quite tasty, though procuring bananas wasn’t the only misstep I encountered along the way. Exhibit B: The recommended bake time for this bread, which is 25 to 30 minutes. Considering that banana bread normally takes ~an hour to bake, I had my doubts. Actually I thought it was a typo but whatever. I checked as directed at 25 and 30 minutes, and to no one’s surprise, the batter was still wiggly and jiggly – not even close to done. After that I let it go for a half hour and then started checking on it every ten minutes or so. Ultimately I let it bake for 90 MINUTES before the toothpick came out clean. Even then, the bottom quarter of the loaf remained a little undercooked, as I discovered when I cut it open. (You can kinda sorta see what I’m talking about in the last picture.)

Also. This recipe makes enough batter to almost completely fill a 9″x5″ loaf pan. I wasn’t even sure it’d all fit! Anyway, it’s by far the thickest loaf I’ve ever made; I bet if I were to divide the batter between two loaf pans, it’d bake more quickly and evenly.

On the plus side, I am hella glad I lined the pan with parchment paper as directed. I hate hate hate trying to cram and jam parchment paper into deep pans, but it totally paid off here. While the lower portion of the crust ended up thicker than normal, the paper kept it from burning outright.

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Also awesome: The topping, which is an even mix of brown sugar, rolled oats, and crushed almonds (I used almond meal/flour). Even if I never make this exact recipe again, I WILL carry the topping over to other banana breads.

The bread itself is tasty enough, though a little plain; I think some walnuts or chocolate chips could work wonders with it.

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The center seemed to firm up a bit overnight, and it only got better when toasted. I reheated a slice in the toaster oven – about ten minutes at 350F – and it seemed a little closer to done after that. A little pat of margarine added with an extra minute to melt it = pure bliss. And a thick slice is actually hearty enough that it filled me up for an entire meal.

There’s a second recipe (Chocolate-Banana Fudge Cake) utilizing brown bananas that I’m curious to try, but I don’t know if I’ll get to it before writing a review. It took me a month just to get the bananas together for this recipe!

Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

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This particular flavor is inspired by a crazy delicious (and crazy expensive!) artisanal lemon blueberry jam I found on Mouth.com. (I won a certificate, so.) It last for all of two and a half bagels (tiny jar is tiny), which wasn’t nearly enough crush my craving. So what better remedy than ice cream?

I wasn’t entirely sure how much lemon juice concentrate I should use; I turned to Wheeler Del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop for reference, and he only uses three tablespoons in his one and only lemon ice cream recipe (lemon basil, if I’m not mistaken). That seemed on the low side, so I doubled it. And then some.

Right off the stovetop, it appeared I’d made a horrible mistake: the lemon flavor was over-the-top and way too tangy. But. After the batter cooled and was processed, the lemony taste mellowed somewhat. Plus the blueberry jam draws a little attention away from it. I think this configuration is perfect, but feel free to swap out 1/4 cup of the lemon juice for soy milk if you’d rather play it safe.

When picking your blueberry jam, try to find a brand that has little chunks of blueberries inside. These frozen bits of goodness catapult the finished product from delicious to out of this freaking world.

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Apple and Potato Oven Fries

Monday, June 29th, 2015

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From Cookin’ Up a Storm, natch.

I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical of the pairing of apples and potatoes in a french fry medium. But it totally works! Sure, so maybe the apples get a little mushy when baked; but thanks to the sugar, the outsides caramelize a tiny bit. Not crunchy, exactly, but kind of french fry-ish.

The recipe calls for five potatoes and two apples, giving it an almost 2:1 potato:apple ratio. Since that serves way more than two people – plus generates more potato and apple wedges than will even fit in my dinky little oven – I halved it, kind of. Two large potatoes, one apple. So a true 2:1 here.

I wasn’t sure what to use for a dipping sauce – Dakin recommends lemon wedges to garnish, but I used concentrated lemon juice – so I put some ketchup on the side and only dunked the potato fries. The apples I ate semi-separately, kind of like a sweet kick in between the tomato-covered potatoes. It sounds weird but worked out really well!

Served with leftover pizza for minimum effort. (Hey, we’d just gotten back from walking the dogs, okay.)

Creamy Maple Pecan Ice Cream

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

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Recently it occurred to me that I’ve never made my own maple pecan ice cream – outside of banana ice cream, that is, which is delicious but doesn’t count. (You can always taste the bananas, so it’s not a true maple pecan ice cream – more like banana maple pecan ice cream. Good but NOT THE SAME.) This is weird because I’ve always been a fan of Tofutti’s Better Pecan ice cream.

The good news is that it’s really easy to make; you just need maple syrup and pecan flavoring/extract for, well, flavoring. You can also mix in some roasted, crushed pecans if you’d like, but I opted to use them for garnish instead. Nuts added directly to ice cream can get a little soggy and lose some of their crunch over time. Thanks, but no.

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Lovely Lemon-Garlic Green Beans: The Name Does Not Lie

Monday, June 8th, 2015

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I made a double batch of the Lovely Lemon-Garlic Green Beans from Cookin’ Up a Storm to go with some leftover pasta (nothing fancy, just a tomato-red pepper-red lentil sauce; simple but good). The name? Pretty spot on. These green beans are super-tasty and fairly easy to make, with tons of garlic; lemon juice and zest; and toasted almonds and sesame seeds. You’re supposed to use almond halves, but whole ones worked just fine for me.

To minimize your dishes, toast the almonds and sesame seeds in the same pan you’re planning to use for the garlic. Then transfer them to a microwave-safe bowl for temporary storage, and reuse it later to cook the green beans. Bam! Done and done.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

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As we’ve already established, I love roasted red peppers, and adore soup; put them together, and I damn near have an excitement aneurism. So this soup and me? Well, we were made to be. Almost. But we’ll get to that.

With three red peppers, three yellow peppers (which I had to swap out for more red peppers, due to lack of availability), eight tomatoes, and an onion, this bad girl is bursting with roasted veggies. So much so that I almost couldn’t fit them all in a pan for roasting, even after eliminating the chiles (I’m a baby, you knew this already) and subbing in canned Roma tomatoes (the fresh ones? currently out of season and flavorless). To wit:

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You only roast the veggies for twenty minutes, which is 1/2 to 1/3 of the total amount of time I usually take to bake roasted peppers. After just twenty minutes, the skins aren’t yet ready to peel away – and they don’t need to, since this recipe doesn’t require you to skin the peppers.

You guys, I was skeptical.

I really, really hate loose pepper skins, even more than I hate hand-skinning roasted peppers. But I wanted to follow the recipe as closely as possible, so I swallowed my doubt and DID NOT SKIN THE PEPPERS. Also, I can’t lie, it was hot and I was feeling lazy. Since you blend the whole shebang anyway, I was hoping/praying that the skins would mostly be pulverized into unassuming bits.

And they were, mostly. The operative word being “mostly.” There’s no doubt in my mind that the finished soup would’ve been much creamier had I roasted the peppers separately and then skinned them afterwards. That said, for the most part the skins weren’t terribly noticeable. A few times I had to stop and spit out an especially sizable piece (impeccable manners over here), but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared.

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But. When I mixed some corn and gnocchi into the leftovers for a heartier meal, the pepper skins became much less noticeable. So there’s that. Only skin the peppers if you’ve got your heart set on a creamy, smooth-as-silk soup, I guess.

Otherwise this soup was to die for. Or not, you know what I mean. Very similar to Candle Cafe’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tofu Dumplings, just minus the dumplings and with double the peppers. Actually, in my write-up of that recipe, I raved that the soup was similar to their roasted red pepper pasta sauce, “but drinkable!” Since Dankin’s version also has tomatoes, I imagine this one’s even more on point.

All the stars.

Book Review: Vegan’s Daily Companion, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (2011)

Friday, May 8th, 2015

“…vegan is what I was meant to be.”

four out of five stars

My hope is that we can navigate through this world and our lives with the grace and integrity of those who need our protection. May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters. May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle, and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys. May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits. May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family as the geese, and adaptability and affability of the ducks. May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.

My hope is that we learn from the animals what it is we need to become better people.

With no fewer than four cookbooks under her belt – The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan, and The Joy of Vegan Baking, which is destined to become a classic – many of you may know Colleen Patrick-Goudreau as an accomplished vegan chef. But she’s also got a master’s degree in English Literature, which she puts to use as a writer and public speaker, educating the public about compassionate living and animal rights. Her exploration of the intersections between human and animal exploitation, both on the Food for Thought podcast and various short videos released on YouTube, are among my favorites.

In Vegan’s Daily Companion, the self-described Joyful Vegan brings all her talents and avenues of interest together to create a book as unique as it is informative. Part cookbook, part self-help book, part pop culture guide, Vegan’s Daily Companion offers 365 days of inspiration, knowledge, and celebration to vegans, both new and experienced. From Monday through Sunday (with the weekends sharing a recipe), each day you’ll find a short discussion or series of tips, each tailored to a specific theme:

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Cookin’ Up a Storm with Laura Dakin – and Red Lentil, Lemon, and Rosemary Soup!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

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I don’t think it arrived in time to make it into my last Stacking the Shelves post, but I recently received a copy of Laura Dakin’s Cookin’ Up a Storm: Sea Stories and Vegan Recipes from Sea Shepherd’s Anti-Whaling Campaigns for review. (Thank you, Goodreads & Book Publishing Company!)

Initial thoughts: If you’re saying to yourself that I own more than enough cookbooks by now, you’re probably right. Totally right actually. But I just can’t help myself! Also, Cookin’ Up a Storm is unlike any other vegan cookbook I’ve seen, in that it’s as much a chronicle of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns as it is a cookbook. There are tons of photos of marine life; interviews with the crew; sailing terminology; and a glimpse of everyday life on board the Steve Irwin.

These recipes are eighty of Dakin’s favorites, which she regularly dishes up for a crew of fifty, using items that can easily be stored in the ship’s pantry. This makes for some interesting sea-faring substitutions; for example, the obligatory tofu scramble swaps out refrigerated tofu for shelf-stable silken tofu. Given that excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, I’m really curious to see how this one turns out.

Also on my radar: the Vegetable Crumble (I’ve tried a million fruit crumbles, but not a single veggie-based one!); Sailor’s Delight Sausages (that’ll be Shane’s job, he’s the seitan man in our house); Rockin’ the Boat Risotto; Lemon-Garlic Green Beans; Boatload of Butternut Caponata; Big Boat Banana Bread; and the Apple and Potato Oven Fries. Oh, and all the breakfast foods, of course.

In case you hadn’t caught on, many of the recipes have nautical and/or activist-inspired names, which is kind of fun and furthers the “eating at sea” theme.

The cookbook isn’t terribly thick, but it is gorgeous and a bit different from the usual. And given the difficulties of cooking at sea, the recipes are well-suited for beginning cooks; you won’t find any complicated, multi-step recipes or uncommon ingredients here. Give it to a non-vegan fan of Whale Wars for some guerrilla activism. (As Dakin notes, while Sea Shepherd isn’t an animal rights organization, it is one of the few environmental groups that recognizes the importance of a vegan diet in combating a whole host of environmental issues.)

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So. The first recipe on deck: Red Lentil, Lemon, and Rosemary Soup. Mostly because it’s super-easy to make and I already had all the ingredients on hand. Also, I love soup.

And I loved this soup! It’s hearty, comes together in a snap, doesn’t require very many ingredients (and nothing that demands much prep), and the pairing of lemon and rosemary is THE BEST. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

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Making Not-tella with Hazelnut Flour and a Recipe for Vegan Nutella Swirl Ice Cream!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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Behold: Hazelnut flour!
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Along with a giant honking bag of red quinoa, the nice people at IFS Bulk also gave me 48 ounces of hazelnut flour to play around with! Prior to this, it didn’t even cross my mind that hazelnuts might come pre-ground, flour style, similar to almonds, cashews, and the like. But they do! And of course I used the flour to make my absolute favorite: vegan nutella!

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My precious!
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So far the only recipe that’s worked for me is the Not-tella from Veganomicon – which, you might recall, I rocked to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a few VeganMoFos back. Anyhow, it’s the only version I’ve tried that actually results in a readily spreadable, creamy nut butter. And while it can be a little tough on ye ole food processor, it’s 1000% worth it.

Still, I wondered if maybe swapping out the whole hazelnuts for hazelnut flour might make the process a wee bit easier? After all, it’s the whole filberts that really make my food process jump and dance and just generally send me into a panicky tailspin. Once they’re processed, things go much more smoothly from there.

And you know what? Hazelnut flour FTW!

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Ooey, gooey, and spreadable at room temp.
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I made a couple of batches of Not-tella – one for ice cream, one for licking from the spoon – and each time the process was pain-free. I didn’t even have to take a break to let the motor rest. From now on it’s nutella with hazelnut flour for this girl.

(More below the fold…)

Buying in Bulk, White vs. Red vs. Black Quinoa, and a Recipe for Savory Red Lentil and Quinoa Bolognese

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca; CC image via twiga_269 on Flickr.
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You guys know how much I love ye ole bulk food stores, right? Back when I started that “frugal vegans” series a few VeganMoFos ago (which sadly turned out to be fairly short-lived, since I exhausted all my ideas in under a month), buying in bulk was one of my top/most popular tips.

Whether you’re prepping for the apocalypse or just trying to save some money, buying in bulk can be a great option. Don’t have an underground bunker in which to store all those tubs of extra goodies? Pair up with a friend or two and split your haul!

So when Alexa from IFS Bulk got in touch, I jumped at the chance to try out some of their products and create a few original recipes.* With everything from black chia seeds to dried currants and mammoth pecan halves (my favorite!) to choose from, it was hard to whittle it down. In the end, I went with red quinoa and hazelnut flour. We’ll discuss the hazelnut flour another day (spoiler alert: there will be vegan Nutella!); today it’s all about the quinoa.

Prior to this, I wasn’t even aware that quinoa came in different colors – red and black in addition to the more popular white. What’s the difference?, you might be asking. Good question! I wanted to know too, so I did a little research, and here’s what I found.

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Chocolate Banana (Paleo) Bread

Monday, April 6th, 2015

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After our rather underwhelming experience with the Blueberry Pancakes from The Paleo Bread Bible, I was a little scared to try again. I mean, I hate wasting monies, and once I fall into a baking rut, it can sometimes prove difficult to pull myself out. But I didn’t want to write the cookbook off entirely based on just one recipe, so. Banana Bread it was. Chocolate Banana Bread, to be exact.

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And you know what? It wasn’t that bad! The batter’s super-easy to pull together, and the bread smells heavenly while it’s baking. It’s got almond flour, coconut flour, cacao nibs, and walnuts (which, strangely, are mentioned in the instructions but not the ingredients list. Yeah.) This time I used flax eggs (3 TBS hot water + 1 TBS ground flax seeds; whisk and let sit for ten minutes) instead of Ener-G, and it seemed to get the job done.

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

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This is another recipe from Vegan’s Daily Companion, by way of Compassionate Cooks member Melissa Phillips. Considering how much a loved the Creamy Mushroom Pasta from Simple Recipes for Joy, I totally expected to fall head over heels for this dish, too. I wasn’t as crazy about mushrooms in drinkable soup form though. It’s not a bad recipe, just not one of my favorites. On the other hand, Shane is a huge fan.

Cha-cha-cha-changes: I couldn’t find any oyster mushrooms, so I left them out. Also, the soup tasted a little on the bland side to me, so I doubled up on the thyme. I left half of it chunky, too, which was a nice variation, I think.

On another, completely unrelated note, here’s a picture of Mags waving ‘em in the air like she just don’t care. Because Mags.

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Blueberry Coconut Pancakes (And a GF pancake FAIL!)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I recently received a whopping five pounds of coconut flour for review, so I finally broke out that copy of The Paleo Bread Bible I scored through Goodreads. Nearly every recipe calls for coconut flour, yo! I’ve been meaning to try it for ages, but haven’t done a whole lot of baking lately.

I decided to start with something simple – you know, a real can’t-eff-this-up recipe – and, spoiler alert, it was an epic fail.

I give you: Blueberry Pancakes.

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Since he’s the designated pancake-flipper in the house, Shane was stuck making these, and I tweeted halfway through the ordeal my prediction that these GF Paleo Pancakes would have him in tears before the night was done. He didn’t cry, but it was close. There was a lot of cursing and several areas of burned skin. (Never cook while you’re angry, folks.)

The problem? The pancakes just didn’t hold together very well. Even after he added some wheat flour to the almond/coconut-flour batter, it spread out like whoah after he ladled it onto the griddle. And while they got nice and crunchy on the outside, the insides remained a gooey mess, as you can see in the bottom pic. We even tried oven-baking some of the batter into a giant pancake, like so, to no avail.

Now, all of these recipes use eggs – so it could be that the egg replacer we chose just wasn’t up to the task. It was ye trusty old Ener-G, though, so I don’t think that’s it.

I was planning on trying the banana bread, but I’m legit afraid at this point. This is why I rarely give cookbooks a negative review: I don’t feel comfortable rating a cookbook unless I’ve tried multiple recipes, but I refuse to throw good money after bad if the first two or three are a disaster. It’s a conundrum.

Anyway.

A few nights later, he tried swapping out some flour in a regular carby recipe for coconut flour, with much better results;

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you can find the recipe under the jump. He was feeling lazy, so he just went with Bisquick – but you can try this trick with your own favorite recipe, too. We also added some coconut extract for double the coconutty flavor, and it tasted amazing with blueberries.

All in all, not a total loss.

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Cookbook Review: Simple Recipes for Joy, Sharon Gannon (2014)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Really Enjoyed the Selection of Soups & Pasta Dishes

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy: More Than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes is nothing if not quirky – and I mean that in the best way possible. The cover features a Mad Hatter-style vegan tea party, and the interior of the cookbook has a fun, funky ’70s vibe. The glossy pages include tons of mouth-watering food photos, as well as shots of the author, both at work (Garon co-founded the Jivamuktea Café in NYC) and play (her costumes will leave all the hippie chicks in awe).

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The 200 vegan recipes are divided up into fifteen sections: soups; pasta and sauces; salads; dressings; dips and spreads; grains; beans, tempeh, tofu, and seitan; vegetables; potatoes; toasts; sandwiches; quick bread and crackers; desserts; smoothies; and tea and other hot drinks. Also included are a FAQ; cooking tips; notes on a well-stocked kitchen; 30 sample menus; and 21-day cleansing diets.

Since I first got to know Simple Recipes for Joy during the cold winter months, I veered heavily towards the soups and pasta dishes. At 50 pages, the chapter on soups is easily the largest – and one of my favorites. Save for the Cream of Broccoli Soup – which was tasty enough, but made me all kinds of bloated – every recipe proved a winner.

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The Red Lentil and Tomato Soup was awesome, and helped me to polish off a whopping two pounds of my homegrown tomatoes. It’s a little on the thin side, though; for a heartier soup, I added an extra cup of red lentils toward the end of the cooking cycle. That gave them just enough time to cook, but not dissolve entirely, like the first batch.

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Lentil Bolognese

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

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This little gem of a recipe is from Vegan’s Daily Companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. While not a cookbook proper – it features 365 days of vegan inspiration, including but not limited to cooking tips and recipes – each weekend is all about recipes, so. Many of them are reprints from the author’s previous cookbooks, but this one’s an original sent in by Barbara Lyons. Barb, you rock, and so does your Lentil Bolognese. Packed with veggies and a whopping cup o’ red lentils, it makes me feel a little better about eating a carb-loaded meal. I almost didn’t have to nap after polishing off a plate!

I added more spices than the recommended amount (2 teaspoons oregano as opposed to 1, and 2 tablespoons basil, vs. the suggested garnish). I also swapped out the black olives for Kalamata, because hello? There’s just no comparison.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

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Okay, so I lied!

The lovely spring weather has kept me so busy that my review of Simple Recipes for Joy is slow going. In the meantime, I decided to try another pasta dish: namely, the Creamy Mushroom Pasta, which is amazaballs.

Basically you saute the mushrooms along with some garlic and spices; mix in some mushroom stock (I used veggie), soy milk, water, and gluten-free flour for thickness, and then puree the whole shebang into a creamy mushroom sauce. So good! But I like my pasta with some chunk veggies too, so I upped the ten ounces of mushrooms to an even sixteen, and then held some back prior to adding the liquids. Once the sauce was creamed and the pasta cooking, I mixed the mushrooms back in with the sauce so they’d be nice and warm. Done and done!

From the looks of things, though, I probably could have went with even more ‘shrooms. Filing that lesson away for next time.

For the GF flour, I went with coconut, which made for an interesting texture. Once the sauce cooled, it got a little grainy, but…I kind of liked it! It’s reminiscent of the Fettuccine Alfredo from Mark Reinfeld’s The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe, which uses cashews in addition to mozzarella Daiya. The coconut flour bits are so similar to the little cashew crumbs that one’s easily mistaken for the other. And since Reinfeld’s Fettuccine Alfredo happens to be my favorite Fettuccine Alfredo of all the times…well, good memories, positive associations, and all that jazz.

Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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You guys, can you believe this is my first and only post titled “Spaghetti and Meat Balls”? NEITHER CAN I.

Anyway. This is probably the last recipe I’ll try before reviewing Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy. I think the count’s up to eleven now, which is good enough for this girl.

So. Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls. Now you know I’m a rather rigorous judge when it comes to pasta dishes, since red sauce basically pumps through my veins. And I’ve had some frustrating run-ins with sketchy faux meatball recipes, so there’s that.

While these meatballs didn’t exactly come together as expected – the directions were a little confusing; the batter, super-mushy – I was able to salvage them with a few tweaks.

(More below the fold…)

My Current Favorite Fast Food

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

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I go through cycles where I absolutely cannot stuff enough of a particular food into my face, and right now that food is tofu scramble. Bonus points if it’s served with a side of semi-greasy baked potato pieces slathered in ketchup.

A friend on FB asked for tips on eating healthier, which got me thinking. One of my favorites is this: make up a giant batch of a well-loved (but healthy) food so that I can live on the leftovers, if not for a week, then at least a couple of nights. That way I won’t be tempted to eat a quick junkie meal (pizza, you know I love you but…) on those nights when I don’t have the time or desire to cook something from scratch. For those who live in places where vegan takeout is an option (I don’t; it’s both a blessing and a curse), having healthy leftovers in the fridge may discourage you from choosing this path of least (but most delicious) resistance.

I especially love tofu scrambles for this, because they’re so versatile and easy. Just reheat leftovers on the stovetop for five or ten minutes (it doesn’t require a ton of adult supervision, which is all the better!) and dinner is served. Don’t have enough leftovers for a proper meal? Bake a potato, steam some carrots, toss in a cup or two of extra frozen veggies. Anything goes in a scramble; it’s the perfect cleaning out your fridge/freezer meal.

Or use the scramble as a filling in a sammie, loose “meat” style. The bread makes an excellent filler, and the mode of delivery magically transforms it into brand new meal.

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Tofu scrambles be banging on sourdough bread slathered in Vegenaise and garnished with spinach and a few tomato slices.

Lately I’ve been making a double-batch of tofu scramble at a time. Sure, it takes about a half hour extra, but I have enough scramble left over for three or more additional meals. Plus I can press both bricks at the same time, and I end up with fewer dishes to wash overall. Win.

Under the jump is my from-memory recipe for this particular scramble – we’ll call it the Vegetable Spectacular – but I’ve made it so often that I’m pretty confident of the formula.

For the potatoes, preheat the oven to 425F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (one large cookie sheet per potato). Clean the potato and then dice it into bite-sized pieces; uniformity is more important than size here. Place the pieced in a large bowl and add two tablespoons (give or take; again, per potato) of olive oil and some salt and pepper; mix well. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (or until crispy), rotating the sheet(s) and flipping the potatoes halfway through.

(More below the fold…)

Cream of Celery Soup

Friday, March 13th, 2015

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If you guys know me at all, you know that I loathe celery. I kind of say so every opportunity I get. Truth be told, it’s only the gross, stringy, floss-like texture of celery that I dislike – the actual taste is pretty bangin’. Seriously. Celery salt? Bring it on!

So color me intrigued when I spotted the Cream of Celery Soup in Simple Recipes for Joy. The celery is boiled into a mushy mess and then pulverized with an immersion blender, so I figured that ought to take care of all the flossy bits. And it totally did! This soup has all of the taste of celery with none the weird mouth feels.

(Updated to add: Well, at least the freshly made soup did; strangely enough, the celery strings seem a little more prevalent in the reheated leftovers. Maybe because the soup was thicker the second and third time around? It’s a brain teaser.)

Also present: potatoes and coconut milk, for a wonderfully thick yet creamy texture; carrots and mushrooms for extra yumminess; and parsley, garlic, tarragon, and thyme for added depth of flavor. As per usual, I added a tiny bit more spices than called for: an extra 1/4 teaspoon on top of the tablespoon each of tarragon and thyme.

This soup is both delicious and easy to make, and this particular recipe makes a pretty massive pot. Seriously, I had to break out the 16-quart monstrosity because I worried that our second-largest 6-quart pot just wouldn’t contain all the awesomeness.

I mean, just look at the creamy goodness!

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Cacao Banana Ice Cream (Now with Nibs!)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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Last week I received a packet of sample goodies from Kazu; nestled among the quinoa, matcha powder, and goldenberries were cacao powder and cacao nibs. As usual, when faced with food items for review, I went with my first instinct: make ice cream! I even happened to have a few quarts of sliced bananas in the freezer, just waiting on me; serendipity, anyone?

So what’s the diff between cocoa and cacao powder, you might be wondering? While both begin life in the pods of the Theobroma cacao plant, the difference lies in the processing: cocoa beans are roasted before being cracked, deshelled, and ground into a powder, while cacao beans are not. (The shells, by the by, are where we get nibs.) Cacao is raw; cocoa is not. It may also contain more antioxidants than its processed counterpart.

Neither cacao nor cocoa should be confused with carob, which comes from an altogether different plant (the carob tree) and is the only one of the three that’s suitable for canines. Both cacao and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to dogs.

Since cacao and cocoa powder can be used almost interchangeably, the recipe was a no-brainer. I only used 3 tablespoons of cacao, but feel free to increase it to a full quarter cup if you’d like a stronger flavor. And as long as you omit the sugar and soy milk (hopefully you’ll need neither – ’tis the goal with banana ice cream, after all), this recipe is suitable for those on a raw food diet.

Bon appétit!

(More below the fold…)