Carbs & Rec: I MADE CREPES!!!

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

We are getting down to the wire, Pawnee, and I am pulling out ALL THE STOPS.

(Just wait until you see what I’ve got planned for Tuesday.

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For realsies!)

Today on Carbs & Rec, I attempt to do something I never thought I would-could-should do: make crepes!

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And – spoiler alert – it was not a total disaster. Not a tear was shed nor a crepe destroyed.

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Waffle Wednesday: ‘Christmas in September’ Gingerbread Waffles with Butter Rum Sauce

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

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So today is officially Christmas in September as we observe this Waffle Wednesday with a heaping stack o’ Gingerbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch!

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Actually, I write this post from the sweltering heat of July, back when I thought that VeganMoFo would fall in August; and while Christmas in July does sound better, it is what it is. A waffle by another other name is just as sweet. No really! I nearly passed out not ten minutes in to dinner. I don’t even think I made it through the first commercial break of The Americans.

Leslie Knopes what I’m talking ’bout.

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These waffles are true to their name – they taste just like warm, cozy gingerbread, and are so yummy that you could probably eat ’em undecorated with no regrets.

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Carbs & Rec: I’m Sorry I Adopted ALL THE ANIMALS! Pancakes

Friday, September 19th, 2014

“How did you sleep? I adopted 32 cats and dogs.
Do you want pancakes? I’m going to make pancakes.”
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Remember that time Bradley Whitford threatened to cut the Parks Department budget, but Leslie inadvertently convinced him to take the money from the animal shelter instead? Then, in a fit of guilt, she adopted all 32 animals – dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and YES THAT IS A PIG – and offered to make it up to Ben with a pancake breakfast? OF COURSE YOU DO. I know that because, if you’re an animal person, no doubt your parent/spouse/roommate was side-eying you during the entire scene, praying to the great dog above that it didn’t give you Any Ideas. Let’s just say that, for the next week, Shane was afraid to leave the house.

Naturally, and because she is not a heartless monster, Leslie found a way to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction: she convinced her opponent Bobby Newport to fund the animal shelter with just a small portion of his Sweetums fortune. Everyone wins, including the usually indifferent April Ludgate, who finds her true calling: helping the animals of Pawnee.

“I think I may have found a project I’d actually enjoy doing: helping these cats and dogs. They should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.”
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April throws an adoption fair; one lucky dog gets a new girl (yay!), but on the downside, a woman abandons two cats.

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Waffle Wednesday: Chocolate Beer Waffles with a Sweet Cashew Cream & Chocolate Drizzle

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

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“We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come in third.”
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It’s no secret that Our Lady of Breakfast Food Leslie Knope has an especially ooey, gooey spot for waffles. And why not? Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, waffles kinda sorta rock.

Consider the evidence:

– They’re a breakfast food – and why would anyone ever want to eat anything other than a breakfast food? (Idiots.)

– Roll them up, stuff them with your favorite tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, and hash browns, and voila! Breakfast tacos!

– The teeny weeny squares make the perfect tiny traps for your syrup, margarine, whipped cream, and/or icing. Take that, pancakes!

– Who needs bread when you’ve got waffles? Open-faced Tofurky and gravy sammie, anyone?

– Breakfast food for dinner is objectively the best.

– After you’ve finished your waffle dinner, chase it with a waffle sundae. Vanilla ice cream, coconut whipped cream, dried cherries, chopped walnuts, sliced bananas, maybe an insanely good brownie or two – go crazy. Knope you can!

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In honor of the lady who puts the “carbs” in Carbs & Rec, I’m dedicating each and every Wednesday to waffles. Maybe with a bonus day thrown in here and there because WAFFLES! Seriously, I found so many amazing waffle recipes that it was hard to whittle it down to just four. Plus Shane is on waffle duty, so a dinner of waffles means a night off for me. Score!

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Carbs & Rec: Jailbird Scones

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Let’s take a moment to celebrate one of the most epic friendships in sitcom history: Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope.

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O is for Old-Fashioned Chelsea Waffles

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

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So these waffles from Vegan Brunch were inspired by a certain (unnamed) NYC diner’s Chelsea waffles that Isa and her brother enjoyed as kids. Since she’s not privy to the chef’s secrets, Isa decided to recreate them her own bad self.

The magic ingredient? Barley malt syrup, which gives the waffles a wonderful malty taste. I had to special order a bottle from Amazon, which is now occupying valuable real estate in the fridge, but you know what? Totally worth it. Barley malt is the same thing I use to flavor the cream in vegan Twinkies (but in powdered form), so that should give you an idea of how awesome these waffles really are.

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I topped mine with maple syrup and fresh strawberries, which was tasty enough; next time around, though, I think I’ll stick with strawberry syrup or perhaps make my own berry sauce. The maple syrup and barley malt seemed to compete with each other for top billing in a way that the strawberries and barley malt did not.

In lieu of barley malt syrup, you can use maple syrup as a sweetener – in which case, methinks maple syrup would be the perfect choice of topping!

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J is for Jam Swirl Coffee Cake

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

J is for Jam Swirl Coffee Cake [Vegan Brunch] (0016)

This is another letter that was originally slated for a soup or stew – Jewish Beef Stew from Veganomicon, to be exact – but was jettisoned for a dessert, mostly because I’m a sucker for the sweet stuff, but also on account of the heat. 90 degrees plus is just too hot for soup, okay! Also, I have so many tomatoes to use up that dinner these days usually consists of pizza or pasta – anything and everything I can jam a tomato on. Menu, full. Try again later.

My heart was torn between the Coffee Cake (the Jam Swirl variation, to keep it on theme!) from Vegan Brunch and the Jean Luc Cupcakes (with an Earl Gray cake and ginger-orange frosting!) in Betty Goes Vegan, but seeing as my cupcake decorating skills leave something to be desired, I decided that the cake would be the safer option. I don’t even own a pastry bag, yo! (Someone please send me a cake decorating kit? Mom?)

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I don’t think I’ve had coffee cake before – I know, the horror, right? – so I don’t have a point of comparison, but hot damn! Is this cake un-freaking-believable or what!? The yellow cake is soft and moist, while the crumbly topping adds an extra shot of sugary sweet goodness. And the jam swirl is pretty genius. I did a cherry-strawberry combo and it was pure perfection.

And the cake! It slid right out of the pan! That never happens to me. My baked goods tend to fight me, but not this time. Some of the topping fell off when I transferred the slices to their respective plates, but hey, whaddya gonna do? Crumbles gotta crumble.

There’s also an amazing looking raspberry chocolate version – raspberries in the batter, chocolate chips wedged between the cake and crumbles – that I simply have to try. Ugh, too bad the letter R is already spoken for. Damn you Rosemary Vegan Chicken and Olive Orzo!

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Cornbread Waffles with Strawberry Sauce

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

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Cornbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch with homemade strawberry sauce (leftovers from the Banana Flapjacks, also from VB). A little dry but otherwise good – and the whole house smelled of popcorn while they were cooking!

Also we scored a “new” waffle maker during our last trip to Goodwill. It bakes a whopping FOUR waffles at a time instead of just two, making it twice as likely that Shane will cook waffles the next time I ask him!

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Banana Rabanada (Baked, Not Fried!)

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

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According to Isa, Banana Rabanada (otherwise known as Brazilian French Toast) is a traditional Christmas dish in Brazil. Thick slices of bread are coated in a banana custard and then pan fried, much like the French toast I so loved as a kid (with eggs assuming the role of banana, of course). The recipe featured in Vegan Brunch includes a custard-like batter made of overripe bananas blended with vanilla, nondairy milk, and cornstarch. Though I’ve never been a fan of French toast recipes that replace egg-based batters with bananas – they always have the weirdest aftertaste – I decided to give this recipe a try anyway. Since the bananas take center stage, perhaps their presence wouldn’t seem so out of place here. Makes sense, right?

I did make one major modification to Isa’s recipe. Ever since discovering the awesomeness that is baked French toast (courtesy of Vegan Junk Food), I’ve been reluctant to fry French toast ever again. So messy! And slow! And dangerous, what with that hot oil flying everywhere.

I hit the google to see whether anyone had tried modifying this recipe for baking, but no one had; the closest hit I found was a query on Isa’s Pumpkin French Toast recipe concerning baking vs. frying. The many recipes I saw for bread pudding (new to me!) proved encouraging, especially in their similarity to baked French toast – the main difference being that pudding uses pieces of bread instead of whole slices. Anyway, I figured a little experimentation couldn’t hurt.

So I soaked the bread – seven slices of old Italian – in the batter as instructed (plus three tablespoons of sugar for added sweetness), and then baked it using Lane Gold’s method: 30 minutes uncovered at 350F. And it worked! Most of the batter soaked into the bread and the remaining liquid thickened up into a custard- or syrup-like consistency. In the picture above, the top piece is flipped upside-down to show the gooey banana underside, while the tops are dusted with cinnamon and cocoa powder. Not shown is the maple syrup I smothered it with some thirty seconds later. The syrup mixed with the cinnamon and cocoa powder to create a mini river of deliciousness I can only call awesome sauce.

Probably this version isn’t as decadent as the original, with its fatty fried exterior – and it’s not nearly as good as the baked French toast found in Vegan Junk Food, which is sticky sweet with sugar. But it’s also hella healthier than either, with less fat and sugar, and a serving of fruit to boot.

Bringing Flapjacks Back

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

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In Vegan Brunch, Isa declares her intent to bring the word “flapjacks” back. I’m down! Especially if it means pancakes for dinner. In this case, Banana Flapjacks.

This stack is pretty good – cakey and chewy, with a definite hint of bananas – but it’s the sauce I’m super-excited about. The first batch of strawberries I bought this year turned out to be a bust (tasteless!), so I decided to turn them into sauce. I had trouble getting it to thicken in time for dinner, so as a shortcut I tried the old “arrowroot slurry” trick I always use in soy-based ice cream. Instead of the usual soy creamer, I went with coconut, and added some coconut extract for good measure. Voilà! Strawberry daiquiri sauce! Definitely gonna have to replicate it with a proper recipe.

Bet it’s amazing on ice cream too. Yeah, it’s always about ice cream with me. That or pizza.

Mom’s Morning Casserole

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

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Another breakfast dish from Vegan Brunch – but you probably caught that from the picture. Though I doubt I’d ever be awake and aware enough to assemble this for breakfast, it does make for a mighty filling dinner. What we have here are three layers of goodness: sliced potatoes, a tofu scramble, and seasoned tempeh mixed with red peppers. Or in my case, green peppers and Lightlife ground sausage. It’s a good enough substitute for tempeh in a pinch, though its sticky texture does make it a little difficult to work with.

Believe it or not, I actually used less cheese (Daiya!) than directed: a little more than half a bag, versus the required 1/2 pound. A half a pound! And I thought I had a Daiya cheese problem.

Vegan Slow Cooker Greek Frittata – and a Tofu Scramble Recipe!

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

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Even though I’ve owned it for a few months now (Shane and I bought it as an early x-mas present to ourselves!), I haven’t had much occasion to use Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker. Some of the recipes look quite appetizing, but most of ’em require so much advanced planning! I know, I know – that’s kind of the point of crockpots: slow cooking and all. But the plan ahead type, I am not.

So yada yada yada, I decided to give the Greek Frittata a try since I had some tofu that needed eating and the whole process is relatively short, at just two hours of cook time. Plus I loved Isa’s Curried Cauliflower Frittata and wanted to see how a slow cooker version would measure up. Turns out that frittatas? Are better baked in the oven.

The Greek Frittata is tasty enough – I love the combination of spices and veggies, minus the overcooked spinach (but then again we all know how fussy I am when it comes to cooked greens!) – problem is, it didn’t quite bake all the way through. While the edges crisped up nicely, the middle portion remained soft and mushy (kind of similar to the cheesy tofu layer in this Spaghetti Pie). Removing it from the slow cooker – mine’s a deep one – was a straight-up hot mess.

Overall, it was edible, though nothing to write mom about.

Still craving a Greek Frittata, I decided to try combining Robin’s recipe with Isa’s, i.e.: Robin’s ingredients + Isa’s cooking method. Then I realized that I’d have to chop the peppers and olives super-small so that the frittata would hold together, and quickly nixed the idea. Instead, a Greek Tofu Scramble, complete with big, meaty chunks of veggies. And spinach! I even kept the spinach! But I added it in the last minute of cooking so that it doesn’t get overdone.

The result? νόστιμα! (That’s Greek for delicious.)

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Curried Cauliflower Frittata and Roasted Green Beans

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

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The pictures kind of suck (ugh I can’t wait for summer, when the daylight lasts past dinnertime!), but this Curried Cauliflower Frittata from Vegan Brunch does not. It’s reminiscent of a tofu scramble, but baked into an adorable pie shape.

If it looks a little crumbly, probably it’s because I failed to cut the cauliflower small enough. Isa says to chop it finely, but I wasn’t sure whether she meant ‘fine for a cauliflower,’ or ‘fine, period,’ so I ended up chopping it halfway in between the two. Guess I’ll have to get more zealous with the knife next time.

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Served with a side of Roasted Green Beans from Veganomicon. Tasty, though I had to cook them at least twice as long as instructed to get that nice, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-buttery-on-the-inside effect.

Come to think of it, it might be time to upgrade my oven. Any volunteers?

HOMEMADE BAGELS!!!!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

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Holy shit, I did it! I really did it! I made from-scratch bagels that are every bit as delicious as those you’d find in a bakery – crispy and chewy on the outside, with soft, warm, fluffy pillowtop innards – and on the first try, at that! A smug, self-satisfied grin, I’m wearing one. Seriously, if I knew it was this easy, I would have done it years ago – decent bagels being damn near impossible to find in Kansas City.

Turns out that bagels are almost shockingly easy to make: knead the dough, let it rise, shape into bagels, boil, bake, cool. The whole process takes a few hours, but it’s really a no-brainer. If you have ready access to fresh bagels, bully for you! Probably it’s just easier to buy them. But if you’re stuck out in the sticks like moi and craving a taste of New York (home!), this is a game changer/life saver.

The recipe’s from Vegan Brunch, which so far I’m loving. Sadly, there is but one bagel recipe in the whole book, and it’s just plain old plain bagels.* Where are the onion, the sundried tomato, the cinnamon raisin? Hello carb frustration! Help me google, you’re my only hope.

On the plus side, VB includes a number of tips for “doctoring up” vegan cream cheese to make fancy schmancy NYC flavors. In the interest of spring cleaning, I used an old packet of garlic herb seasoning I had sitting around, and it worked like a charm. I’m not really one for plain cream cheese, but the flavored stuff is downright addictive!

* With variations for sesame and poppy seed-topped bagels – basically you just roll the bagels in the seeds prior to boiling them, and then proceed as is. I tried this with minced onion, but most of the onion fell off during the boiling stage. I had more luck sprinkling them on the bagels after boiling – while the bagels are still a little wet – and pressing down gently but firmly to get them to stick. The more you know!

Perfect Pancakes are perfect!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

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After a long day spent packing up the x-mas decorations (my house looks so naked now! and not in a good way!), I really wanted Shane to make the Blueberry-Oat Short Stack pancakes from American Vegan Kitchen – but it turns out that you have to let the batter sit for at least two hours beforehand, a fact that escaped our notice until dinner time. Oops! Next time, I guess?

And so came Vegan Brunch to the rescue, with the appropriately-titled Perfect Pancakes. So good, y’all! The batter is thin and expands outward when you scoop the pancakes, resulting in large, skinny discs of sweet carbaliciousness. With our usual, thicker recipe, I can only down three pancakes in one sitting, but this time around I polished off five. Double-stacked, too! And they’re so tasty that I wanted more. (Joke’s on me – the recipe only made ten.)

The only downside is that the pancakes are thinner than a blueberry, so the batter might not work so well with fruit. Otherwise, I think we found our new go-to pancake recipe. Perfect Pancakes are indeed perfect.