Zucchini Bread With Dried Blueberries

Friday, November 10th, 2017

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So this is a little off-season for me, but I last week I inexplicably found myself craving zucchini bread like mad. (“Inexplicable” because it’s been at least two years since I’ve last eaten the stuff. Why here? Why now? Why me?) I also wanted to try it with Mags who, if you remember, is one fussy-ass eater who is partial to sweet breads, among other things.

Since I have ten pounds (give or take) of dried blueberries hanging out in my pantry, I decided to experiment with blueberry zucchini bread. Spoiler alert: it is predictably delicious, though I did find myself wondering about other variations: zucchini blueberry lemon, perhaps? Or maybe lavender blueberry floats your boat? Two words: blueberry peach. Okay, so they’re all a little summery, but when it snows on Halloween for the first time since you relocated to the Midwest, a taste of summer is most definitely in order.

Anyway, point is, this recipe makes two loaves, so feel free to try out your own rad combos. Blueberry and cinnamon, fwiw? Totally a winner.

Thanks go out, yet again, to Gourmet Nuts & Dried Fruit for the delicious dried blueberries.

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They’re also wonderful in oatmeal, and the dogs love to snack on them, too!

(More below the fold…)

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!

U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience [Betty Goes Vegan] (0005)

I don’t know if the corn chowder found in Betty Goes Vegan can rightly be called THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE – mostly because I haven’t tried nearly enough corn chowder recipes to consider myself the arbiter of such titles – but it is pretty damned good. It gives my own recipe a run for the money, anyway. With two kinds of corn and potatoes (creamed and frozen and fresh and hashed, respectively), it’s almost as hearty as it is easy to make. The secret ingredient? Lemon pepper, the presence of which is subtle yet unexpected. (But you can always add more for that extra kick. I did!)

Along these lines, I paired the soup with the Lemon Pepper Garlic Bread, also from Betty Goes Vegan. Sounds a little weird, but lemon on garlic bread? Crazy good. Genius, even. But then I’ve been hooked on the stuff (lemon pepper; though I am addicted to all the breads, too) since I discovered it last summer.

U is for The Ultimate Corn Chowder Experience [Betty Goes Vegan] (0009)

 
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T is for Tuscan Bread Soup

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0003)

So this meal started out as the Tuscan Bread Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook – but I tinkered with it enough that I’m no longer sure it qualifies as either “Tuscan” or a “bread soup.”

First up, the white beans had to go, on accounta beans make my belly bloated and gassy. I replaced those with a cup of mini pasta shells. And celery? Ew! It’s so stringy, like a coil of dental floss. I swapped that out for carrots. I also used fewer onions and more garlic, ’cause that’s how I roll. And more broth – vegan chicken instead of vegetable, since that’s what’s in my cabinet – so there would be leftovers. Fresh tomatoes, too; ’tis the season! Of course I just had to make the bread garlic, which I then served alongside the soup rather than under it; I just couldn’t bear the thought of diluting its extra-awesome garlicky flavor. (With minced garlic AND garlic powder. That’s what I’m talkinbout!)

This soup was so kickin’ that I decided to write down the modified recipe, since it’s definitely something I plan on making again. Probably it’s a little more in the area of a minestrone now, but that’s okay. A soup by any other name.

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0010)

Some Kind of Soup, Not Necessarily Tuscan Bread Soup

(Adapted from the Tuscan Bread Soup found in Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 large carrots, diced
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup miniature shells (or the teeny tiny pasta of your choice)

4 large slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
a dash of garlic powder

Directions

1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and cook on medium until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release some of their juices.

2. Add the carrots, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the carrots and tomatoes are to your liking. (I prefer mine on the tender side.)

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic bread. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread onto the bread and let sit until step #4. When the soup’s nearly ready, bake the bread at 450F for five to ten minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

4. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Add the miniature shells and cook for about five minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove from heat and enjoy while hot. You can either pour the soup over the bread in a large bowl, or serve the bread alongside the soup for dipping.

 
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F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Friday, September 6th, 2013

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0009)

Really you can make this recipe using any loaf of fresh bread, but hey! I needed an F, so French bread it is.

This is a dish I make with some frequency in the summer months. Bruschetta is an excellent way to use up a bunch of tomatoes in one fell swoop; doubly so when you load it up on a pizza! Homemade dough, pita bread, store-bought bread – doesn’t matter. I’m like MacGyver, yo; I can make a pizza out of anything.

This time around, I used Trader Joe’s Mozzarella-Style Shreds instead of my standard Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Shane and I happened to take a trip south of the city last month, and we hit up not one but two Trader Joe’s stores: one on the Kansas side of the border, the other in MO. It was my first visit, and I was not at all impressed: both stores are on the small side, rather unorganized (with product shoved haphazardly over the – open! gasp! – freezer cases), and not very vegan friendly. As far as we could tell, the Kansas store doesn’t even stock any vegan meats or cheeses! The Missouri store is slightly bigger, but its vegan meat/cheese section is maybe two feet wide. (Compare this to the wine section, which occupies at least 1/5 of the entire floor space.) Neither store had a single vegan pizza on the shelf. Ahem.

In addition to their famed soy ice cream (which both stores had in stock, yay!), I had hoped to pick up some whole wheat pastry flour and TVP chunks – both of which I struck out on. But when I stumbled upon the mozzarella shreds, I decided to give ’em a try. The vegans on tumblr seem to love them.

My thoughts? Meh. They taste okay and melt quite well, but stick to the roof of your mouth like crazy (not to mention my stupid Invisalign attachments!). I prefer the taste of Daiya and Follow Your Heart, though I do appreciate TJ’s ready meltability. It’s something I might buy again, if I ever find myself in another Trader Joe’s. So, not very likely.

 

F is for French Bread Bruschetta Pizza (0002)

 

French Bread Bruschetta Pizza

Makes three to four servings.

Ingredients

4 cups tomatoes, finely diced
4 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes (optional but tasty)
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 loaf French bread
margarine
vegan mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

2. When you’re ready to make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 425F.

3. Cut the French bread into three or four sections (depending on its length). Next, slice each section in half lengthwise, as if you were making a sub. Spread a bit of margarine on the top of each piece of bread; just how much you’ll use depends on the thickness of the bread. You want to use enough margarine to lend a little extra moisture to the pizza, but not so much that it’ll soak through to the bottom of the bread and weaken the integrity of the pizza. If you’ve ever made garlic bread using margarine, you should have a good idea how much is appropriate for the task at hand.

4. Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread. Start with the solids (tomatoes and garlic) and, when done, drizzle a bit of juice on top. You should have enough bruschetta to cover a loaf of French bread, but you may have some leftovers, depending on how heavy your hand. Top with a bit of vegan mozzarella cheese.

5. Transfer the bread onto a baking stone or baking sheet (lightly coated with cooking spray). Bake at 425F for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese, warm and bubbly. Enjoy immediately.

 
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Holy Stromboli!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

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So my first time making stromboli wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been, thank dog. But the call was close, my friends. (Short version: the recipe called for an ungreased cookie sheet and – surprise! – it took me ten minutes to pry the baked stromboli off the sheet without ripping them in half.)

The recipe is Stromboli with Red Pepper Puree, Spinach and Basil from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. Actually it calls for arugula, but I swapped that out for pureed spinach, which is quickly becoming my preferred method of enjoying spinach. I also added some fried strips of Lightlife bacon, which after cooking was too rigid to leave as-is – I had to break them into little bits. Instead of homemade dough, Klein uses refrigerated French bread dough, which is a huge pain to work with. Whereas you’re supposed to roll it into smaller rectangles, it would rather retain its long, tubular shape. Cue: begging and tears.

Tasty as hell, but it’d be way easier to make my own dough from scratch instead of relying on the refrigerated stuff. Waaaay too hard to work with.

Potato Gnocchi with Sundried Tomato-Almond Pesto

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

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So good I can’t even!

And fast: it took me all of 20 minutes to make, and that’s counting the seven minutes it took to bring the sundried tomatoes to room temp in a mug of hot water. (Pro tip: Remember to take yer tomatoes out of the fridge an hour beforehand, lest they be encased in a block of congealed fat.) It must be a while since I last had gnocchi, because I was surprised – no, straight-up shocked – to find that it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook the suckers. When did this happen, people?

I wish Klein included a recipe for homemade gnocchi in Vegan Italiano, but tragically she does not. Not that it’s difficult to find locally; I just want to take a shot at some fancy flavored stuff. The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook has some pretty tasty looking recipes for Potato Gnocchi and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Caramelized Shallot Rings, so maybe I’ll give those a try some time soon.

Linguine with Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Garlic Sauce (and a Side o’ Kalamata Olive Bread!)

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

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Donna Klein brings it with a recipe for pasta sauce you can make IN THE OVEN!: Linguine (really fettuccine) with Roasted Pepper, Tomato, and Garlic Sauce. Just mix all up it in a bowl, transfer to a greased baking pan, and cook for thirty minutes and voilà! – you have red sauce. Okay well that’s not entirely true; you have to pulverize half of it in a food processor before serving, but that’s simple enough. The sauce is a really tasty mix of green peppers (or, in my case, green and red) and stewed tomatoes in a 1:1 ratio. The peppers sweeten up a bit when roasted so the sauce has a really rich, complex taste: savory, but with a hint of sweetness.

I doubled the recipe in order to use up four bell peppers that were decomposing in my fridge much more quickly than anticipated; consequently, the peppers took nearly twice as long to roast in the oven. The more you know!

Served with a side of Kalamata olive bread. I know, that was quick right? The bread is topped with the Olive Crouton mix (also) from Vegan Italiano, plus an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Probably I should have tripled the oil, at least – the bread-slash-toast was a little on the dry side, though still tasty. Even so, that’s alotta oil!

Homemade Olive Croutons

Friday, March 8th, 2013

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So I finally made those Olive Croutons from Vegan Italiano and HOLY SHIT ARE THEY GOOD! So good, in fact, that I’ve already dispensed with the salad altogether. That’s right, I’m eating these suckers like popcorn, by the fistful. No regrets. Especially not since I overbought Italian bread last week and it was either this or rock-hard sammies.

I did have a little trouble getting the Kalamata olives to adhere to the bread. Instead of “tos[sing] well to thoroughly coat” (yeah right!) I rubbed the topping in by hand. Much better!

With a few tweaks – namely, more olive oil – I bet this would make a damn fine topping for baked Italian bread. Filing that one away for future use.

Tomato and Bread Stew with Pasta

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

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Orzo, to be exact. The most adorable of all the pasta shapes! They’re just baby pastas, yo!

This is yet another dish from Vegan Italiano, which I seem to be devouring in record speed. Most of the recipes are ridiculously simple, with ingredients lists coming in at a dozen items or less. You can see the attraction, no?

This soup-stew-bread pudding-thingie has just eleven: olive oil, white wine, veggie broth, onions, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, pasta, and toasted Italian bread. Throw it all together and you’ve got one hearty bowl of carbs.

The only thing I’ll change the next time around (and there will be a next time, oh yes!) is when I add the bread, namely: closer to the end of the cook time, rather than with the orzo. After fifteen minutes simmering in broth, it’s hardly recognizable as bread anymore. More like little blobs of mush. Tasty blobs they are, but I still prefer chunks. I like my bread with some bite, okay.

Italian-Style Butter Bean Dip (Pizza!)

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

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As it happens, butter bean dip is quite similar to hummus – just made with (you guessed it!) butter beans instead of chickpeas. Luckily, my food processor had a much easier go of blending the former vs. the latter. (I’d love to make my own hummus, but it never comes out as creamy as the store-bought stuff!)

The Italian-Style Butter Bean Dip from Vegan Italiano is simple and easy to make: blend butter beans, lemon, juice, and oil and then garnish with black olives and red onions. Tasty, though I think I’d rather swap out the black for kalamata olives for more of a kick. I also doubled with amount of lemon juice for a more spreadable dip, and microwaved the butter beans for 90 seconds beforehand in the hopes that this would make them easier to process. (I’ve yet to test this process with a control, so who knows?)

Much like hummus, butter bean dip is also delicious on pizza! For this mini-pie, I just used some leftover butter bean dip (about half a recipe) in place of red sauce and topped with sundried tomatoes, mozzarella Daiya, and kalamata olives. Singed slightly from a minute too long on the broil setting (hence the extreme closeup), but still tasty.

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Pro tip: since baking will dry out the dip, add some extra water or lemon juice before using. No need to break out the blender, as this is easily done by hand.

‘Big Soup’ Minestrone with Baked Garlic Bread and Herbes de Provence

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Say that five times fast!

Today’s meal is three recipes in one, namely: ‘Big Soup’ Minestrone from American Vegan Kitchen, seasoned (in part) with Herbes de Provence from The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe (yup, another new cookbook for me to play with!) and served with a side of Baked Garlic Bread from Vegan Italiano. Oooh-la-la.

First, the soup. Hot damn, THE SOUP.

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A delicious, slow-cooked pot of goodness including white beans (or tempeh, take your pick), diced tomatoes, green beans, carrots, onions, garlic, pasta, veggie broth, and red wine. The seasonings are many – seven, not including the spice mix Herbes de Provence, which Wiki describes as “a mixture of dried herbs typical of Provence.”

Since it’s not something I normally keep on hand, I was lucky that my newly acquired copy of The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe had a recipe for it. (Serendipitous!) So that’s at least another seven herbs right there.

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While the soup was simmering, I also threw together some Baked Garlic Bread: Italian bread topped with sauteed garlic, parsley, salt, and olive oil and baked in the oven for about five minutes. So easy, with a most excellent taste-to-effort ratio.

In fact, I think I like this even more than the Skillet Garlic Bread from the same cookbook: the minced garlic is much more difficult to burn this way. Plus, it’s a little less oily, so it doesn’t sit as heavy in the stomach. Just as tasty though!

Spaghetti with Red Wine and Rosemary Marinara Sauce (Plus!) and Skillet Garlic Bread

Monday, January 14th, 2013

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From – you guessed it – Vegan Italiano! (Why didn’t I get this cookbook sooner? I’m vegan! I’m Italian! I ♥ carbs! IT IS SO ME!)

What makes the Red Wine and Rosemary Marinara Sauce “plus,” you ask? Simple! In addition to red wine, tomatoes, and assorted seasonings, it’s also sporting a package of Yves Meatless Ground Round, which I just so happened to have on hand. (Yay to cleaning out the fridge!) Klein avoids using processed vegan meats in her recipes – but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up now and again. I fried the “beef” alongside the onions, so it got nice and crispy and flavorful, and then left it in the skillet to make a meaty marinara sauce. It did the trick, but the marinara sauce would’ve been just as tasty without it.

As for the garlic bread, it’s pure genius. Simply fry a few big, fat, thick slices of Italian bread in some olive oil and garlic and, voilà, you have garlic bread! In just five minutes!

As it just so happens, this is also a handy way to rescue stale(ish) Italian bread from the trash, since the bread absorbs the olive oil and softens up as it cooks. Ditto: french toast. (Same principle, different liquids.)

Got leftover garlic bread garlic? Put it in the marinara! Zero waste, y’all.

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Something Sweet, Something Savory

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

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Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck, y’all! First visit? Don’t worry, I’m a newcomer, too. Let’s hang together, okay? Strength in numbers!

I first learned of this very cool project over on the Vegan MoFo facebook page – and, not wanting the fun to end on October 31st, promptly signed up. I’m so glad I did, too, ’cause it gave me the opportunity to try two new recipes which might have otherwise been pushed to the back burner. That’s right, two! Because I love you double! Both of ’em are breads – since that’s what I chose during registration – one sweet, the other savory. Something for everyone!

 

Hot Cross Buns for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0006)

 

First up, the sweet stuff: Hot Cross Buns, recipe via Vegan Dad. Initially I was set to make these for Vegan MoFo (paired with Ida Maria’s “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”), but they got bumped in favor of Fried (and Baked!) Green Tomatoes and Paul Young at the last minute. Redemption, thy taste is sweet and sugary!

The husband was actually nice enough to make these for me, as a sort of down(re)payment on my October cooking marathon. It’s a long process, but not terribly complicated – there’s just a lot of waiting around. He mostly followed the recipe, but had to omit the currants since we couldn’t find any locally, and didn’t have the time to order them online.

On his first try, the mister was afraid that the dough didn’t rise enough, so he set it aside and made a second batch, this time with rapid rise instead of active dry yeast. Alas, both dough balls showed about the same amount of rise. Luckily, I think it was enough, because the rolls were super-tasty. Not light and fluffy, but a little on the dense side – in a good way, though. And the glaze and icing? Shut the front door!

According to the Wikipedia,

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.

We replaced the cross with a “V,” so I’m not quite sure of the message my buns are sending. Perhaps you have to be a Level 5 Vegan before you can lay your lips on them? Whatever, I’ll settle for a jab at Mark Bittman. I’m not fussy.

 

Hot Cross Buns for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0018)

 

But back to the first, “failed” batch of dough. The husband baked it as one large loaf, roughly following Vegan Dad’s instructions, and…it, too, was awesome! Reminiscent of a certain sugar loaf I love, but with sweetness throughout instead of concentrated in the center. Dazed and hungry from a nap, I didn’t think to snap a pic before I devoured half the loaf. I did get the leftovers, though!

 

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Perfect when sliced thinly, then toasted with a bit of margarine and brown sugar. Ugh, I’m salivating at the thought of it.

 

Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0014)

 

And for the “savory” portion of this potluck: Pepperoni Pizza Bread! My aunt’s boyfriend always brought pizza bread to our Christmas/New Years celebrations, so I’ve come to associate it with family and friends and fun. Sneaking sips of wine and playing poker for pennies until 2AM. Stuffing your face until you’re about to pop, and then stuffing it some more. Surreptitiously changing into jammies when your jeans refuse to button. Good times.

 

Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0019)

 

I have to give some (read: most) of the credit to my husband for this bread as well, since he made it (albeit at my direction!). As per usual, he started with our go-to fluffy white pizza dough recipe. After the dough has risen, lay it out flat in a rectangular shape, add your toppings (pizza sauce, mozzarella Daiya, and Lightlife Pepperoni), roll into a circle-loaf-thingie, bake, and enjoy. It’s that easy!

 

Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0032)

 

Come to think of it, I’m gonna have to ask my mum why she never made us pizza bread. Since it was a once-a-year treat, I always assumed it was complicated and tedious and nearly impossible to make. But not so much! I mean, she was an accomplished pizzanista. What’s the deal?

Because I aim to please, there is a recipe under the jump!

 

Pepperoni Pizza Bread for the Virtual Vegan Potluck (0034)

 

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Creamy Tomato Soup with Beer Cheese Bread & Blind Melon

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

 

The song: “No Rain” by Blind Melon (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Creamy Tomato Soup served with Beer Cheese Bread – recipes from Veganomicon and Vegan Junk Food, respectively

The connection: Rubber boots and rainy day soups!

 

Tomato soup and grilled (Daiya) cheese sandwiches: does a more perfect rainy day meal combo exist? I think not! THIS ONE’S FOR THE BEE GIRL! Now a woman! But you get the idea!

 

Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon (0004)

 

Isa brings the soup – namely, a Creamy Tomato Soup straight from Veganomicon. This is a rich, satisfying dish that’s so creamy you could almost mistake it for dairy. (The secret? Potatoes!) With canned crush tomatoes and sundried tomatoes for double to the tomato-y goodness. Seriously, this is a soup for lovers. Tomato lovers! (Oh snap!)

Overall, this is a ridiculously easy meal to make, as soups often are. But there’s a caveat! The whole process will go a whole lot smoother if you have an immersion blender – otherwise, you have to let the soup cool, transfer it to the blender in batches, and then reheat it again. Yuck, right?

I thought I was gonna hafta go the blender route, until Shane whipped out a Thunderstick thingie that he uses to make shakes. I’d totally forgotten that we owned such a device, initially confusing it with the ($2,000!) Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer he used (and I supposedly broke, though I remember no such thing!) back in the mid-aughts. It may or may not be an immersion blender proper; we’re still investigating. It doesn’t even have a brand name stenciled on its handle! Either way, it did the trick.

Normally I’d pair this with a toasted Daiya cheese sammie, but I decided to go a slightly different route this time: cheese bread! This recipe is from Vegan Junk Food, and I’ve been eying it since I reviewed the book way back in April. (It also doesn’t help that the husband bought some Daiya cheese wedges, ostensibly for toasted cheese, and then ate them all without telling me. Boo!)

 

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As lip-smackingly good as the soup is, it’s the bread that’s the real star of the show. Seriously, it wins all the awards! The loaf proper is just flour mixed with beer and a little bit of brown sugar. Pour it into a loaf pan, top with melted margarine mixed with nutritional yeast, and bake for 45 minutes. By no stretch of the imagination am I a master bread-maker, yet even I was able to pull it off without a hitch.

And the payoff is inversely related to the effort required. This Beer Cheese Bread? Divine. The sugar and beer add just a hint of sweetness, and the cheesy nooch topping I could eat all by its lonesome. (And I did, in crumb form. There may or may not have been some plate-licking involved, and not of the canine variety.) Even if you’re not a beer person – and I’m not – you’ll love this bread.

Pro tip: The leftover slices – assuming there are any – are crazy good topped with a pat o’ margarine, toasted, and served with homemade bruschetta. Don’t say I never did anything for ya!

 

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Eat to the Beat

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Eat to the Beat: Cheater Baked Beans with Skillet Corn Bread & The Black Keys

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

 

The song: “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Cheater Baked Beans and Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon

The connection: Beans, beans, the magical fruit.

 

Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon (0018)

 

This might be the most juvenile food/song pairing of the month. Unless Adam Sandler wins just by virtue of being Adam Sandler, which is not just possible but also quite likely.

I usually stay away from beans – not because they’re not delicious (they are!), but because they make me bloat up like a mofo. (TMI Tuesday, a day early!) But these Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon? Totally worth it!

The recipe is ridiculously simple: onions, garlic, pasta sauce, molasses, spices. Cook ’em in a skillet, then add the beans and bake for an hour. So easy my 24-year-old brother could do it! (No offense to the 24-year-old dudes out there, but my brother is hella lazy and also propped up by my parents’ apron strings.

 

Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon (0008)

 

…I’m doing the TMI thing again aren’t I?)

Given how few ingredients go into this bad boy, I was surprised at how rich and flavorful the sauce turned out. SO GOOD!

I served it with the Skillet Corn Bread, also from Veganomicon. Don’t let the title fool you – you cook this bread in the oven (preferably in a cast-iron skillet, but I used a glass baking pan). And at the same temp as the baked beans – handy dandy!

 

Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon (0003)

 

The only thing I’d do differently is maybe make the baked beans a lil’ saucier the next time around. For instance, the recipe calls for a 15 ounce can of pasta sauce, but I always buy the larger 24 ounce size. I had half a mind to dump it all in, but I followed the recipe for a change. Now I have 9 ounces of pasta sauce languishing in the fridge and three leftover squares of corn bread that shall remain baked beans-less. Oh noes!

The beans are perfect on their own, but when you serve them over the corn bread, extra sauce is a must. The bread’s on the dry side, though the husband reports that it’s not nearly as dry as some of the corn bread he enjoyed growing up. Me, I don’t think I’ve ever had it before (deprived I know!), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It’s super-tasty with a pat o’ margarine, too!

Oh, if only I had some No-tella left…

 

Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon (0002)

Jayne was trolling for a bite of my dinner – until I whipped out the camera for pictures.
The flash is like her Kryptonite. Ditto: wooden spoons and vacuum cleaners.
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veganmofo 2012
Eat to the Beat

white space

Eat to the Beat: Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread & The Monkees

Friday, October 19th, 2012

 

The song: “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees (Theme)” by The Monkees (lyrics)

The foodstuff: Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (recipe below)

The connection: Is obvious!

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0026)

Want a pizza bite? You’ll have to punch the monkey first!
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As a kid, I was a ridiculous fan of The Monkees (the sitcom! and the boy band! back before there was such a thing as boy bands!), cheesy as they were. Of course, this was the ’80s (oh how I date myself!), so I met Davy, Micky, Peter, and Mike in reruns. In the ’90s, I fancied myself a hippie, and often looked as though I could stand in as an extra on the show. When I wasn’t dressing all in black lingerie, anyway. Twenty years later, and I’m still nursing a secret crush on…well, I’ll never tell. That’s what makes it secret!

I even have a little plush monkey that plays the cymbals while singing the theme song to The Monkees. It was a x-mas gift from mom – when I was 28 or so. Don’t wanna grow up, you can’t make me.

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0014)

Fresh bread, in your face.
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So I’ve been meaning to veganize the many Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread recipes I’ve seen circulating the interwebs, and Vegan MoFo seemed the perfect time. I mean, hello! Monkey Bread. The Monkees. Talk about your OTPs.

Though it’s a total pita to make (not difficult, just a little tedious), the final product is amazaballs – so worth it! Basically what you have are 48 or so individual pizza rolls, coated in margarine and spices, and baked together to form one ginormous pizza-cake-shaped-bread-thingie. If you have any leftovers (Doubtful! Shane and I polished off more than half the loaf – loaf? pie? cake? idk! – in one sitting), pop ’em in the oven on a pizza stone or similar at 425F for about ten minutes. That’s just enough time for the cheese to get all melty and gooey again. Good as new!

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0043)

The underside of the loaf is a delicious neon, much like your brain on carbs.
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I actually made this dish twice. I keep telling myself that the reason for the repeat is because I wasn’t happy with the first batch of photos – but, if I’m being honest, I really just wanted to have Pizza Monkey Bread again! (But still, the second photo shoot? Way cuter! With a treeloot monkey and everything!)

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0061)

Itty bitty baby bites! Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.
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Pro tip: Use AT LEAST six ounces of cheese! I trusted my pizza bread to the Follow Your Heart brand and, while there are plenty of haters out there, it melted like a charm. Any block-form vegan cheese will work, though: Teese, Daiya wedges, whatever. The first time around, I underestimated how much cheese could fit in a bite, and ended up with pizza bread tragically lacking in cheesiness. The cheese liquifies as it melts, thus taking up less space – so keep this in mind when considering the optimal cube size.

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0064)

Hot oozy FYH action. (It really DOES melt!)
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When in doubt: add more cheese! That’s my motto, anyway.

We’re just trying to be friendly,
Come watch us sing and play.
We’re the young generation,
And we got something to say.

You’re dancing, aren’t you? ME TOO!

 

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread (0018)

Paint me like one of your french rolls.
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(More below the fold…)

Fresh from the (Olive) Garden Bruschetta

Monday, August 20th, 2012

2012-08-11 - OG Bruschetta - 0007

 

Forever in search of new things to do with tomatoes, I thought I might try replicating (and possibly veganizing) Olive Garden’s classic bruschetta recipe. Alas, it’s been done! Multiple times! Perfectly so! And you know what they say about messing with perfection.

Traditionally used as an appetizer, for me bruschetta is the perfect snack. I mean, hey, I’m already noming on toast at all hours of the day as it is! Why not throw on some vegan parm and top it with tomatoes for a healthier snack? The recipe makes enough bruschetta and bread for four servings, but you can easily make the bruschetta ahead of time and toast the bread on an as-needed basis. Just sprinkle on a little parmesan, parsley, and olive oil (or spread on a pat of margarine – not nearly as messy as olive oil), pop in the toaster oven for five minutes, and you’re good to go!

While I can’t remember the last time I dined at a chain restaurant, I was little disturbed to read that OG routinely bakes its Italian bread (or at least that bread destined for bruschetta) with parmesan cheese. Is nothing sacred? Luckily, the parmesan was super-easy to veganize: nuts, nooch, olive oil. Pfffft. Why use anything else?

Anyway, you’ve been warned!

 

Fresh from the (Olive) Garden Bruschetta

(Adapted from this recipe at ABCNews.com. Original recipe courtesy of Todd Wilbur, “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2,” Plume Books.)

Ingredients

1 1/2 to 2 cups tomatoes, finely diced
1 to 2 tablespoons diced marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil (OR 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan cheese (see below)
a pinch dried parsley flakes
Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle; optional)
9-10 slices of bread (Ciabatta and Italian bread are popular choices, though I used sourdough)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Cover and chill for an hour or more.

2. When you are ready to serve the dish, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

3. Combine the Parmesan cheese with dried parsley in a small bowl. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet.

4. Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and then sprinkle a couple of pinches of the Parmesan cheese mixture over each bread slice. Bake for 5 minutes or until the bread starts to crisp.

5. Pour tomato mixture into a serving dish and serve it up alongside the toasted bread slices. The recipe makes enough bruschetta for roughly ten slices of bread.

 

Vegan Parmesan

Ingredients

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup walnuts OR 1/2 cup almonds
1 teaspoon olive oil
A dash of salt

Directions

1. In a food processor, combine the nutritional yeast and nuts and pulse until well-blended. The nuts should be reduced to smallish particles, though not as powdery as the nooch flakes. Add the olive oil and salt and pulse until blended.

2. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

good will hauling *

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Yesterday’s Goodwill finds!

2012-06-08 - Today's Goodwill Haul - 0007

2012-06-08 - Today's Goodwill Haul - 0012   2012-06-08 - Today's Goodwill Haul - 0015

For $75 and some change, I got:

– 6 books (Body Double and The Keepsake, both from the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen – I can’t believe those weren’t scooped right up!; The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory; Ladies of Liberty by Cokie Roberts; Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventure and Romance, edited by Don George of salon.com; and Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury);

– 6 plates (including some adorable plastic kids’ dinnerware: Hello Kitty, Scooby Doo, and Winnie the Pooh);

– 6 ice cream bowls (or rather, six teeny tiny dishes that I’ll pretend are ice cream bowls);

– 1 Pyrex baking dish (because you can never make too many brownies at one time!);

– 1 bread machine, circa 1998 (we already own one, also from Goodwill, but the pan is beat and we can’t find a replacement – boo!); and

– 22 t-shirts. I know, right. TWENTY-TWO T-SHIRTS. You can tell that I don’t go clothes shopping very often.

And I guessed the total! (Minus the change, but who does that? No one. No one guesses change, that’s who.) I RULE. **

We were also tempted by an enchilada maker, but passed ’cause we weren’t sure how much use it’d get. They’re easy enough to make in a skillet, right?

The closest Goodwill is ~ a 45-minute drive from our house, so unfortunately I don’t make it there very often. Shane and I just happened to be in the neighborhood, running some errands, and we had five bags of clothes and knick knacks & what-nots to drop off, so there you go. Definitely the longest stop of them all.

And now if you’ll excuse me, Rennie cannot wait to give the bread machine a whirl.

2012-06-08 - Today's Goodwill Haul - 0016 [flickr]

(Pssst, don’t tell her, but we also bought a pool raft at Target. SO I CAN TAKE HER SWIMMING WITH ME! Best mom in the world, I am. Or the worst, depending on your pov.)

* Shane’s idea of a post title. So many regrets. So. Many.

** Then again, a number of the dishes I purchased were displayed in fours – but seeing as I only needed one of each for my not-so-gourmet food critic photography, that’s all I took. That’s right. I AM A SPLITTER OF SETS. The vilest of creatures. The reason why you have six vintage Demitasse teacups but only five matching saucers. THAT person. Seriously, I should be shot on sight.

Book Review: White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf, Aaron Bobrow-Strain (2012)

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

American Dreamz (of “Good” Food)

four out of five stars

Note: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.

When is bread just bread? After reading White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (2012), you’ll realize that the answer to this deceptively simple question is likely “almost never.”

Tied as it is to issues of class, race, gender, and nativism, the history of bread – which types of bread are considered the healthiest, which are the most patriotic and “American,” what methods of preparation are considered safest, which loaves are most valued by the affluent, etc. – reflects changing social mores as much as (or perhaps even more so than) it does evolving culinary tastes. Focusing on recent American history – the past 150 years, give or take a few decades – Bobrow-Strain doesn’t so much trace the history of bread as he does examine how trends in bread consumption reflect deeper cultural ideas, fears, and ideals. Accordingly, the book is divided into six primary chapters, each dedicated to a different “bread dreams,” namely: purity and contagion; control and abundance; health and discipline; strength and defense; peace and security; and resistance and status.

The mass production of (the titular) white bread in factories, for example, was initially celebrated as a safe, scientific, and superior way of delivering bread to the masses, in a time when women were otherwise tied to the kitchen and many small, family-owned bakeries were run from unsanitary basement kitchens characterized by brutal working conditions. Now derided as “white trash” food – ironically, in part due to its success and ubiquity – industrial white bread was once considered a healthier, more sanitary, even elite alternative to home-baked, locally bought, and whole wheat breads. Oh, how the times have changed! Or not. What comes around goes around – America’s current love of freshly made artisan breads harkens back to the 1800s and earlier, before bread was made by robots and procured in giant grocery chains.

So too has the maxim of “knowing where your food comes from” changed with the times. Prior to the industrial revolution, this meant getting to know your local bread baker (and, more importantly, his kitchen) – or, preferably, having mom bake all the family’s bread from scratch. (No small feat when one considers that bread has long been a dietary staple: from the 1850s though the 1950s, Americans got an average of 25-30% of their calories from bread. While this figure began to dip in the 1960s, it tends to rise in times of war and recession, particularly among the poor.) Later on, “knowing where your food comes from” was presented as a benefit of buying industrial white bread produced by faceless bakery conglomerates – an idea that seems laughable to the modern consumer.

White Bread is an engaging look at a foodstuff that, until now, hadn’t received its proper due. Recent condemnations of industrial bread aside, historical and scholarly accounts of bread’s history have mostly been lacking; with this engaging, meticulously researched, and passionate tome, Bobrow-Strain fills in the void. Especially useful to food activists, the lessons found in White Bread are important ones:

Thanks to an explosion of politically charged food writing and reporting that began in the late 1990s, members of the alternative food movement have access to a great deal of information about why and how the food system needs to change. Much less is known about the successes and failures of such efforts in the past. Even less is known about the rich world of attachments, desires, aspirations, and anxieties that define America’s relation to the food system as it is.

The history of bread in America provides countless illuminating examples of how national crusades for “better” food (however you define it: safer, healthier, cheaper, etc.), while well-intentioned, often draw upon and feed into harmful stereotypes and work to perpetuate the very oppression and inequalities they seek to eradicate. Food must be taken in context: everything’s related. Food justice, feminism, worker’s rights, racial equality, immigration, environmentalism (not to mention, nonhuman animals and veganism) – intersectionality is the word of the day.

So why the 4-star rating? Exhausted by the bald speciesism found in so many books written by non-vegan environmentalists (culminating in the particularly awful Gas Drilling and the Fracking of a Marriage), I promised myself that I’d stop requesting such items from Library Thing, no matter how much they might interest me. While I expected that meat might make an appearance in White Bread – a status symbol, the consumption of animal flesh has long been linked with class, gender, and race – I didn’t anticipate that the author would be a former intern on a “kinder,” “gentler,” “sustainable” beef ranch. Bobrow-Strain peppers the book with anecdotes about his time as a purveyor of “happy meat,” grass-fed beef, and raw milk – all of which is presented as a “radical” new way of looking at food. Uh, yeah, not so much. Exploiting animals? That’s just business as usual. But rethinking who is on our plate, and why? Now that’s extreme. (Such bold proclamations bring to mind Red Lobster’s latest ad campaign: “We Sea Food Differently.” If by “differently” you mean “exactly the same.”)

And yet, the closest we get to any mention of veganism is Sylvester Graham, the 19th century Presbyterian minister and food reformer who advocated vegetarianism, temperance, and a return to “natural” foods as a means of achieving physical and moral superiority. Unfortunately, his vision of a simpler life was predicated on the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enforcement of rigid gender roles; and, in blaming the poor for their ills and ignoring larger social structures, his philosophy was classist as well. Not that I blame Bobrow-Strain for presenting this critique of “the father of American vegetarianism.” Quite the contrary: it’s essential for vegan activists to recognize, acknowledge, and overcome past wrongs – many of which are still in operation today. But in all his waxing sentimental about animal exploitation – on a book ostensibly written about bread – it’s especially irritating that an oblique discussion of Graham’s vegetarianism is the best – indeed, the only – counter to the oppression, violence, and waste that is animal agriculture. Slow, local, organic, and healthy foods – all receive their due. And veganism? Apparently that’s so radical a notion it’s not even worth mentioning. (But yeah, vegans are the ones always shoving their opinions down the throats of unsuspecting omnivores. Riiiight.)

While I think there’s a lot that vegans can take away from this book, the speciesism is at once asinine and infuriating. If you think you can handle it, by all means.

Read with: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy (2010).

2012-05-08 - White Bread - 0002

A page from White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf
by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (2012)
Chapter 6: How White Bread Became White Trash; Dreams of Resistance and Status
“You’re scum, you’re fucking white bread.”
– David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

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(This review is also available on Library Thing, Amazon, and Goodreads. Please click on over and vote me helpful if you’re so inclined, mkay? I have a sneaking suspicion that this piece won’t prove especially popular on Amazon.)