Candle Cafe’s Quinoa Vegetable Cakes

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

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I’m a sucker for homemade veggie patties, and the Quinoa Vegetable Cakes from Vegan Holiday Cooking are among the tastiest I’ve ever had! Technically they’re a “cake,” not a burger, but they’re pretty much the perfect size for slapping between two slices of bread, so there you go.

The batter is a mix of quinoa, onions, carrots, and red peppers, half of which you blend into a mash using a food processor (resulting in the burgers’ psychedelic neon orange color). Add breadcrumbs, shape into patties, and bake!

The primary spice is cilantro, which made me a little nervous; I’m not the biggest fan (tastes like soap!). To my surprise, the cilantro isn’t at all overwhelming, and actually adds a rather nice flavor to the finished patties.

You’re supposed to bake these bad girls at 350F for ten minutes, after which time they should be nice and crispy. Mine weren’t, even after twenty minutes in the oven, so I cranked the heat up to 400F to get the job done: about ten minutes on each side. (The recipe also doesn’t say anything about flipping, but that’s the only way I could get both sides nice and crispy.) The next time I make these, I’ll go right to 400 degrees; ten to fifteen minutes on each side ought to do it.

These are freaking amazing when served with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mustard, and Vegenaise (pictured above) – and even better when you swap out the fresh vettable topping from friend onions and mushrooms. YUM.

Deluxe Tofu Scramble

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

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Okay, so, confession time: I did not follow this recipe – found in Simple Recipes for Joy – to the letter. I tried, I really did, but I just could not bring myself to mix the spices in the 4 to 5 recommended tablespoons of water before adding them to the tofu scramble. The tofu of which? IS NOT PRESSED! Madness, right?

I don’t know about you guys, but I usually have a problem with too much moisture in my scrambles – especially if I add veggies with a high water content, like mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Granted, this recipe calls for none of these things (though I did add a little of each, in the interest of cleaning out my fridge), but still. Four tablespoons? That’s a lot of water, yo! I would say try one tops, since the recipe is absent the one tablespoon of soy sauce I usually use. But no more!

Otherwise I really liked this Deluxe Tofu Scramble. The spices are a mix of cumin, nutritional yeast, tumeric, thyme, paprika, chili powder, salt, parsley, and coriander – which is a new one for me. The taste is a little fresh and different from what I’m used to. Definitely gonna remember coriander for my next impromptu scramble!

Candle Cafe’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tofu Dumplings Potato Gnocchi

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

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This might be my all-time favorite soup, you guys. AND I FREAKING LOVE SOUP! It’s like Candle Cafe’s roasted red pepper pasta sauce, but drinkable!

So there are four roasted red peppers in this bad girl, along with corn (I didn’t have any peas, so I doubled up), leeks (or scallions, in my case), onions, veggie stock, and basil. The recipe includes instructions for making your own tofu dumplings by hand, but I took a shortcut by using premade potato gnocchi instead. It turned out aces.

I’m not gonna lie; after my last red pepper fiasco, I was a little nervous about roasting my own, even if my method had served me well up until last week. But I seeded and sliced the peppers as usual, divided the slices between two glass baking pans, drizzled them with about a tablespoon of olive oil each, and then roasted at 425F for about 40 minutes. The skins? Peeled right off. Smooth as silk! Or whatever the vegan equivalent is. Satin, maybe?

I reused the roasting oils – now infused with sweet peppery goodness – in the soup. Zero waste! (I even left the skins to the insects outside.)

Candle Cafe’s Homemade Pappardelle with Spinach, Portabello Mushrooms, and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

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Confession time: I did not make this pasta from scratch! I am way too lazy for that. However, the roasted red pepper sauce is homemade (do they even sell such a thing in stores?), and furthermore I roasted and peeled the peppers all by my little lonesome. And it took forever, I might add!

Usually I seed and slice them prior to roasting, which is always in olive oil and a glass baking dish. (The olive oil is awesome for reuse in pasta dishes, since it’s infused with pepper juices!) With this method, the peels practically fall off the roasted pepper slices.

This recipe instructed me to spray the whole peppers in Pam, roast them, and then seed, slice, and peel. Instead I compromised by seeding and slicing them, spraying them lightly with Pam, roasting them, and then peeling them once cool. Or at least I tried to: after 40 minutes in the oven, the edges had crisped up so much that the skins were basically melded onto the peppers. It took me 45 minutes and much finagling just to peel half of them! After that I tried a Hail Mary: I roasted them a second time in olive oil, like I would normally. That helped to loosen the skins from the edges a bit, but it was still a struggle to get them all off. Never again! From now on it’s olive oil for this girl and her peppers. (Though I’m sure the other method would have worked well too. Or at least better than the weird Frankenstein process I came up with.)

ANYWAY. The resulting sauce was crazy delicious. I threw some cornstarch in there to thicken things up, but otherwise I followed the recipe to a T. As for the spinach/mushroom mix, I did include spinach but chose not to cook it. (Wilty greens, ew!)

SO GOOD. I need to make red pepper sauce more often, y’all.

Quinoa Burgers & Pizza Crumbles

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

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The good news: The Quinoa Burgers from Mayim’s Vegan Table are bangin’.

The bad news: The recipe requires a little finagling to make it work.

So I followed the recipe as directed – it’s pretty simple, with just seven ingredients – but my burger batter came out way too wet and sticky to handle. I ended up adding 1/4 cup of flour and between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of quick oats before I could shape it into patties without half the quinoa clinging to my phalanges.

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Then you’re supposed to fry the patties and bake ’em a little longer. Instead, I went right to the baking portion of the directions: 425F for 30 minutes (20 minutes on one side and then flip) on a lightly greased cookie sheet. I figured it’d be both easier and healthier, and I think I was right on both counts.

Also weird, but not necessarily in a bad way: I ended up with nearly double the burgers I was supposed to.

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Anyway, I could only fit five patties to a cookie sheet, so I had a little extra batter left over. The next day we had a mini pizza party for Easter (and because it was Sunday. And 4/20. Basically we don’t need a significant reason to enjoy pizza, is what I’m saying.), and I spooned some of the batter onto the Daiya mozzarella and onion pizza. Soooooo good, y’all! I think I like this even better as a pizza topping.

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We also took the pizza crust recipe from Mayim’s Vegan Table for another spin. The first time around, it didn’t bake all the way through; instead, it remained a little dense and doughy. Chalk it up to bad yeast or wacky weather, but the crust came out much better on our second try. Yay!

Potato Hash

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

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Another one from Mayim’s Vegan Table. So this recipe is pretty tasty – you can’t go wrong with fried potatoes, am I right? – with beans (I used Navy in place of the recommended black beans, of which I am still sadly bereft), corn, chorizo (or Lightlife hotdogs, in my case), red peppers, onions, garlic, and some other goodies. (Pro tip: this hash tastes excellent with mushrooms!)

Sadly, my potatoes and hot dogs did not brown. I blame my expensive new(ish) frying pan, which is giant and makes some pretty kickass pasta sauce, but sucks at browning my favorite things. Tofu scramble, vegan meats, potatoes: they all just stick to the bottom of the pan. Usually I break out my 15-year-old cheapo frying pan for these occasions – the Teflon coating browns all the things – but it was way too small for today’s purposes.

Maybe it’s finally time to replace it with a shinier model?

(Sunday Morning) Sunrise Scramble with Roasted Home Fries

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

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I’ll be honest: the tofu scramble recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook isn’t my favorite. That said, it’s still a tofu scramble, and tofu scrambles fucking rock.

My main problem? This one’s got both mushrooms and spinach, the excess moisture of which can prove difficult to cook off. As usually happens when I get ballsy and try to put shrooms in my scramble, the tofu ended up a bit wet and mushy.

Plus, this recipe’s a little different from standard scrambles. There’s no tumeric! (I added a dash, hence the yellow eggy color. Couldn’t help myself!) No soy sauce! Only a touch of nutritional yeast! And not a whole lot of spices to speak of!

Still, given the lack of spices this scramble ended up tasty enough. I probably won’t make it again, but I can hardly call it a disaster.

The home fries, on the other hand? Awesome. These are way easier to make than hash browns (I’ve yet to produce a properly crispy batch) and every bit as tasty.

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.