Category: Food & Recipes, Human

Strawberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Monday, February 8th, 2016

2015-10-02 - Strawberry Cream Cheese IC - 0006 [flickr]

 

I’m not 100% sure of the genesis of this particular ice cream flavor, but I think it had something to do with carrot cake ice cream. As in, I really wanted to give it a try, but was one tub short of plain cream cheese for the icing swirl. Plain Tofutti cream cheese got me thinking about Daiya’s amazaballs strawberry cream cheese, one thing led to another, and – huzzah! – strawberry cream cheese ice cream. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

(Actually I made this way back in October of last year, but held the post back so that it would be more timely. You’re welcome!)

Initially I thought that a cream cheese swirl/chunks of cream cheese a la cookie dough would be the ticket, but not so much! Solid cream cheese doesn’t freeze as well as ice cream batter and besides, I think the cream cheese flavor tastes better when evenly distributed throughout the ice cream rather than concentrated in little bites. Luckily my ice cream maker did such a thorough job of mixing the cream cheese with the batter – even when added near the end of the cycle – that I ended up with very few chunks.

My advice is to add the cream cheese as soon as the batter’s poured. 6 ounces (or 3/4 of a tub) will give you a nice flavor, but if you’d like your ice cream extra cheesy, maybe try a full 8 ounce tub for maximum effect. If you’re really feeling adventurous and want to give chunky a try, add the cream cheese during the last few minutes of the cycle.

 

2015-10-02 - Strawberry Cream Cheese IC - 0013 [flickr]

 

(More below the fold…)

Soup’s On!: Italian Pesto Soup with Gnocchi

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

2016-01-21 - SO Pesto Soup w Gnocchi - 0002 [flickr]

So I was a little skeptical of this dish; as much as I love me some pesto, I’ve never wanted to put it in a mug and chug it like melted Daiya. (BEST.) But don’t let the sub-par photograph fool you: this dish is ah-may-zing!

The recipe is from Mark Reinfeld’s The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On!, and I must admit up front: I used store-bought gnocchi instead of making them by hand. Way easier, and probably tastier to boot, since my gnocchi-rolling skills are not exactly on point. Otherwise I followed the directions mostly as-is. Well, except for the tomatoes. I used about double the amount called for, but only because I didn’t want to freeze half a can. Leftover ingredients, blerg.

In addition to the obvious – basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and cashews (or pine nuts) – the soup also has onions, veggie stock, soy sauce, and parsley. Everything but the tomatoes and gnocchi are blended to creamy perfection, a texture that’s complemented nicely by the chunky tomatoes and hearty gnocchi.

Will make again.

Cookbook Review: Cookin’ Up a Storm, Laura Dakin (2015)

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Vegan Eats with a Side of Direct Action

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

Laura Dakin runs the galley on the Steve Irwin, one of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling vessels. In Cookin’ Up a Storm, Dakin shares her culinary secrets, as well as humorous and informative accounts of a life spent at sea, protecting whales, seals, turtles, sharks, and dolphins.

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. (Excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, but here it makes for an unusual scramble that’s similar in consistency to egg salad.)

The cookbook is divided into seven parts, with sections dedicated to morning starters; soups; mains; salads and sides; sauces, spreads, and condiments; breads; and sweets and treats. From a warm and cozy Sea Shepherd’s Pie to meaty Sailors’ Delight Sausages and savory Boatload of Butternut Caponata, Dakin’s got her crew covered.

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.

In preparation for this review, I tried the following recipes:

(More below the fold…)

Vegan Christmas Cookies Infiltrate Your Gift Basket

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

2015-12-24 - Vegan Christmas Cookie Basket - 0005 [flickr]

Admittedly, our Christmas cookie game was a little on the weak side this year; all I wanted to do was binge-watch The Closer and shovel potato chips down my gullet. But we always make a gift basket for the neighbors, and Shane insisted on keeping with tradition even if it meant he made everything himself. The horror, right? So we compromised and split the work.

For a change of pace (and also because I’ve all but exhausted the holiday options in The Vegan Cookies Connoisseur), I decided to pull the recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This was my first time baking from it, and I was curious to see how Cookie Jar would stack up next to my well-worn, much-loved copy of Connoisseur. Which I honestly cannot recommend enough.

As per usual, we planned to make more than we needed – that way, if one of the recipes didn’t come out quite right, we’d still have enough cookies to fill a good-sized tin. (It’s never come to this, but it doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B.) Best-case, we’d end up with some leftovers to enjoy ourselves. (A-hah! Our true motivation.)

2015-12-23 - VCIYCJ No-Bake Pecan Choc - 0005 [flickr]

No-Bake Pecan Chocolates – A cross between a cookie and a candy bar (cluster?), these no-bake pecan chocolates are super-easy to make and keep well – so basically they’re the perfect choice for a bake-a-thon such as this, since you can make them ahead or in a pinch. They’re okay-tasting; not my favorite, but not my least favorite either. (Shane liked them more than I did.) The brown rice syrup is a little overwhelming, threatening to drown out the chocolate and pecan flavors. Also they’re very sticky, though this isn’t necessary a negative; unlike the oh-so-delicate PB Crisscrosses (see below), these bad girls should hold together well during shipping.

2015-12-23 - VCIYCJ PB Crisscrosses - 0002 [flickr]

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses – These were by far my favorite of the bunch; so much so that I claimed all the extras for myself. (They don’t call me Cookie Monster for no reason, okay.) The instructions say to cook these directly on a greased cookie sheet – no parchment paper allowed! – which had me sweating bullets. (Barenaked cookie sheets and I have a history, and it is not pretty; more often than not, it ends in ashes and tears and broken dreams.) But it worked! Not a burnt or broken cookie in sight. In fact, these are thin and delicate and deliciously crumbly, in stark contrast to the thick and hearty peanut butter cookies I’m used to. So good, but tricky to pack (pro tip: let them chill overnight).

2015-12-23 - VCIYCJ Chocolate Crinkles - 0008 [flickr]

Chocolaty Crinkle Cookies – I’m still on the fence with these. They’re easy enough to make, but go much faster if you have a partner – one person to scoop the dough and another to roll them in the two (two!) different piles of sugar (white and powdered). And while they’re actually kind of addictive, with a rich, fudgy center, I swear they have a slightly funny aftertaste, similar to the No-Bake Pecan Chocolates. Maybe it’s the dark corn syrup I’m tasting? idk, I’ve never worked with it before.

Thankfully, dipping them in vanilla buttercream helps. The taste, if not your general mood and energy.

Note to self: Must make these into cookie sandwiches some time.

2015-12-24 - VCIYCJ Irish Creme Kisses - 0002 [flickr]

Irish Creme Kisses – Alcoholic cookies ftw! I love me a good frosted cookie, and Irish Creme Kisses are no exception. These cookies are a little on the stout and fat side, so I had to thicken the icing substantially to prevent massive runoff. Other than that, the recipe went off without a hitch.

2015-12-24 - Peppermint Mocha Brownies - 0001 [flickr]

Peppermint Mocha Brownies – This is the only non-cookie dessert we made this year. It was kind of a last minute executive decision, so decreed because we had the time and also miscellaneous ribbon candy to spare. All but two squares got shipped off the the neighbors; enough for Shane and I to each get a taste. These are kind of interesting, kind of like a fudgy brownie with a crispy candy topping. Not the kind of dessert I’d have a lot, but perfect for this time of year. (Recipe via Fried Dandelions.)

2015-12-24 - VCIYCJ Irish Creme Kisses - 0004 [flickr]

Finnick and Rennie can has kisses?
Or, How the sausage is made. (The sausage being gourmet food porn photos.)
——————————

Adventures in Nice Cream

Friday, November 6th, 2015

As much as I love banana ice cream (banana bread banana ice cream, you are the BEST!), making it can be such a pain. Waiting for the banana slices to freeze and then defrost ever so slightly; prying and wedging and knifing them apart; processing and scraping and processing and scraping, as my food processor dances on the counter as though possessed, and the motor threatens to burst into flames. And then there’s always one or two big ole chunks of bananas that refuse to assimilate no matter how long you stand over the bowl, pulsing and cursing. Yeah.

After years of this nonsense, I started to wonder: is there a better way?

Specifically, I wanted to know whether it would work if I skipped the first freezing step and just processed overripe bananas as is. Then freeze the ice cream mix, like I normally would anyway. (Even for soft serve, it’s a little too liquidy by the time I’m done with it. At least a half hour wait is typically required!)

So, instead of peel -> slice -> freeze -> thaw -> blend -> refreeze,

peel -> slice -> blend -> freeze.

I hit the internets to find out and found a few people with the same question – but no answers.

You know what that means: Experiment time!

2015-09-23 - Nice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

I tried the new method using just three bananas, to make a pint of nice cream (usually I go full-on quart). On the left is old school banana bread ice cream; on the right, newfangled chocolate cinnamon ice cream.

The results were underwhelming.

(More below the fold…)

Orange Marmalade Nice Cream

Friday, October 30th, 2015

2015-09-24 - Orange Marmalade Ice Cream - 0005 [flickr]

In the vein of purging the cabinets for that move we’re planning next decade, I give you Orange Marmalade Nice Cream. (Because “Orange Marmalade Banana Ice Cream” just feels like too much of a mouthful.)

I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought a jar of Orange Marmalade – I’m strictly a raspberry jam and peach preserves gal when it comes to my bagels – so I figured this was as good a use as any. And the end product was pretty tasty. I’ll call this one a win.

2015-09-24 - Orange Marmalade Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

2015-09-24 - Vanilla Custard Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

Now that I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve tried nearly every dream ice cream flavor I can think of, it’s time to get creative – like, cleaning out the cabinets creative. Also, Shane and I are thinking about moving some time in the distant future, so it’s probably best to start lightening the load now. If you could only see my pantry, you’d understand. Out of control doesn’t begin to describe it. My skepticism re: expiration dates doesn’t make things any easier on the hoarding end.

Exhibit A: the custard mix I bought roughly four years ago, back when I was reviewing Vegan Junk Food and wanted to try the Boston Cream Pie. It never materialized and so the custard powder sat. When I went rooting around in the cabinets for inspiration, I thought that surely someone must have tried to make ice cream with it. And they have! Usually with eggs and cream, but we can’t all be awesome, okay?

Anyway, this is my vegan version. I’ve never had custard before, so I can’t rate the accuracy of its flavor. What I can say it that it tastes delish: a little vanilla-y, but with a little extra something that I can only assume is the custard talking.

2015-09-24 - Vanilla Custard Ice Cream - 0006 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Creamy Lemon-Dill Roasted Potato Salad

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

2015-09-26 - Lemon-Dill Potato Salad - 0001 [flickr]

An exaggerated hat tip to whoever shared this recipe on Facebook. (I think it was Mylène, but I can’t be sure.)

I was a little skeptical of a potato salad absent both vegan mayo and dill pickles – both of which are potato salad staples, imho – but I gave it a shot, and you know what? IT WAS AMAZING. I love the idea of roasting potatoes instead of boiling them; not only is it easier (no more standing over a steaming pot, splashing hot water all over the place), but you get much more consistent results, without any potato loss.

I didn’t have any baby potatoes, so I used four baking potatoes – a little more than the recommended two pounds – but the dressing seemed to be *just enough* for this amount. I also didn’t bother adding water to the dressing, but other than that I think I followed the recipe to a t.

I usually prefer cold potato salad, but I’m with Janet – this tastes so much better when enjoyed warm.

Raspberry Green Tea Ice Cream

Friday, September 18th, 2015

2015-08-23 - Rapberry Green Tea Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

So this recipe required way more raspberry extract than I expected! The matcha powder completely overwhelms the raspberry flavoring, necessitating two teaspoons instead of one. I bet fresh or frozen raspberries (two cups, maybe?), cooked down into a jelly, would work even better, but then you’ve got a Seed Situation on your hands. So if it’s a smooth ice cream you’re looking for, best stick with raspberry extract.

This flavor pairing isn’t my all-time favorite, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. And if you eat a ton of green tea ice cream, it’s a fun way to mix things up without relinquishing the matcha.

2015-08-23 - Rapberry Green Tea Ice Cream - 0004 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, Redux

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

2015-09-15 - VCC Soft Baked CC Cookies - 0001 [flickr]

I was feeling down, so Shane offered to make me cookies. Naturally, I chose the Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur that I tried recently and love-love-loved. And you know what? HIS CAME OUT EVEN BETTER THAN MINE!: soft, chewy, and so tender they practically melt in my mouth! Almost a bit doughy, but not quite. Baked to perfection, basically.

Of course he immediately started listing reasons why this simply could not be. (All bullshit, by the by.) He can see the writing on the wall: now that I know he’s not incompetent when it comes to baked goods, he’s gonna get roped into making me cookies on the regular.

Maybe this is why he came home with a tray of Pumpkin Spice Oreos yesterday, hmmm? Trying to head off the inevitable?

Red Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

2015-08-20 - Raspberry swirl Ice Cream - 0003 [flickr]

I wasn’t entirely sure how well this experiment would turn out; after all, raspberries are only like my third favorite berry, after blueberries and strawberries. They taste wonderful, but ALL! THOSE! PESKY! SEEDS! And seeing as the batter contains both raspberry extract and just the tiniest bit of preserves for added flavor, yeah. I worried that the seeds would ruin it. I like my ice cream like I like my doggy bellies – smooth and soft.

As it turns out? This recipe is amazaballs. For the smoothest base possible, feel free to omit the preserves (and maybe even bump the extract up to a full 2 teaspoons) – but all told, the seeds are dispersed enough that they don’t entirely disrupt the silky smoothness of the ice cream.

And then there’s the raspberry swirl, which is THE BEST. For a chunky, high impact feel, stir it in ever so gently; but for a more consistent vibe, be a little more vigorous when mixing. I usually eyeball the add-ins, and give you a range that you can adjust to your own tastes. Anywhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup ought to do it though. Maybe even 3/4 cup if you’re feeling adventurous.

I used red raspberry preserves, since I had a jar on hand, but you can always swap it out for your own homemade raspberry sauce. Just toss a few cups of berries in a medium-sized saucepan and cook on medium until jelly-like in consistency. The less moisture, the better! Remember this maxim and you can’t go wrong. At least when churning vegan ice cream, that is.

2015-08-20 - Raspberry swirl Ice Cream - 0002 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

2015-08-18 - VCC Soft Baked CC Cookies - 0012 [flickr]

Since hitting my thirties, I’ve kind of soured on chocolate. Well, not soured, exactly (Go Max Go bars are the bomb!) … but my chocolate cravings have grown more and more sporadic. I prefer matcha cupcakes over chocolate, and plain ole vanilla ice cream to chocolate obsession. But this week I was struck with a hankering for chocolate chip cookies that just couldn’t be ignored. (I blame it on the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies I made for the dogs. They seriously smell good enough to eat, carob chips and all.) And not just any old chocolate chip cookies, either – but soft, chewy, so-moist-they-just-might-be-underbaked chocolate chip cookies like you’d find in the bakery.

Enter the Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur – which, incidentally, might be the very last chocolate chip cookie recipe I had left to try from this particular book. (Make ALL THE COOKIES!) The featured picture strongly resembles Wegman’s bakery cookies – I worked there in college, and coveted all their baked goods which I couldn’t have because LACTOSE – so my hopes were high.

2015-08-18 - VCC Soft Baked CC Cookies - 0010 [flickr]

And this recipe? VERY CLOSE to what I wanted. This even though I was missing one of the ingredients (blackstrap molasses; Shane reminded me several hours after the fact that we still have an unopened jar of homemade molasses given to us by our neighbors for Christmas; doh!) and had to defrost some applesauce on the stove before I could even get started (it’s always going bad otherwise; grrrr!).

The recipe’s easy enough, although my genius plan to dole out the dough using a tablespoon-sized melonballer was a bust. The dough proved way too sticky for its dinky scraper, and it shows in my misshapen cookies. That’s okay! They’re still delish.

2015-08-18 - VCC Soft Baked CC Cookies - 0013 [flickr]

 

Strawberry Lemonade Ice Cream

Monday, August 17th, 2015

2015-08-01 - Strawberry Lemonade IC - 0005 [flickr]

After the awesomeness that was my Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started experimenting with various flavors of lemonade ice cream. I started with Strawberry Lemonade, because a) strawberries are my favorite and b) they are totally seasonal and c) bursting out of my fridge. I mean, strawberries! Hello! BEST. Just ask the Strawberry Shortcake bedsheets from my childhood.

Okay, I’m meandering. The heat is totally frying my brain.

Anyway, this recipe is pretty rad and you should totally give it a try. It’s extra-handy for those times when you went shopping with your stomach at the farmer’s market and “accidentally” bought more strawberries than you could possibly hope to eat.

Pro tip: For a smoother ice cream, you can always process the cooked strawberries in a food processor or blender (using a splash of soy creamer or milk if too thick) prior to making the ice cream batter. However, I didn’t bother, assuming that the paddles on my machine would do a good enough job breaking up any remaining strawberry chunks. And they totally did!

Alternately, if you like a few chunky bits o’ berries, hold a few tablespoons of the cooked strawberries back and add them to the machine about fifteen seconds before dispensing. Or mix them in by hand as you transfer the finished ice cream to a storage container.

 

(More below the fold…)

Big Boat Banana Bread

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

2015-07-26 - SeaShep BB Banana Bread - 0003 [flickr]

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.

2015-07-28 - SeaShep BB Banana Bread - 0001 [flickr]

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.

2015-07-28 - SeaShep BB Banana Bread - 0002 [flickr]

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

2015-06-24 - Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream - 0005 [flickr]

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.

2015-06-24 - Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream - 0009 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

Apple and Potato Oven Fries

Monday, June 29th, 2015

2015-06-26 - Sea Shep Apple & Potato Fries - 0003 [flickr]

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

2015-06-17 - Maple Pecan Ice Cream - 0003 [flickr]

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.

2015-06-17 - Maple Pecan Ice Cream - 0004 [flickr]

(More below the fold…)

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

Monday, June 8th, 2015

2015-05-26 - Sea Shep Lemon-Garlic Beans - 0002 [flickr]

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

2015-05-02 - CUS Red Pepper & Tomato - 0002 [flickr]

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:

2015-05-02 - CUS Red Pepper & Tomato - 0001 [flickr]

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.

2015-05-02 - CUS Red Pepper & Tomato - 0003 [flickr]

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:

(More below the fold…)