Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Cookies

I am a bad, bad blogger.

Here's the quick rundown from that last post to now -- the boy and I spent November jumping through all the hoops one has to jump through to buy a house, we closed on the house Dec 5, I had finals in until the 12th of December, I went to visit my parents on the 10th of December to help my mother out after some surgery (she's fine), then just got back this past Saturday and now we're stripping lots of wallpaper and trying to get the new house in order so we can move in January. On the positive side of things: I HAVE A HUGE KITCHEN! We're going to put in a big 6 burner gas stove so I can cook like crazy. I expect until I'm all settled, my posts will be few and far between, especially because I'm trying to cook all the food in the pantry so we have less to move. (My new pantry is also huge.) This results in a lot of random meals. BUT! We've been invited to a New Year's Party, and I've perfected my Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Cookies and had to share.

These cookies are fantastic. They're sweet and tart and orangey, and the dark chocolate is a perfect compliment. You could, of course, just eat them without the chocolate... but why? The boy has declared these possibly his new favorite cookie, and that's high praise as he's a die hard peanut butter fan. And so, without further ado....

Dark Chocolate Dipped Orange Cookies
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp orange juice concentrate
The zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy yogurt -- plain or vanilla
2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

8 oz dark chocolate
1 tsp canola oil

1. In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, margarine, oil, OJ concentrate, orange zest, vanilla and soy yogurt with an electric mixer.

2. Add the flour, powder and salt and stir/mix until combined.

3. Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours or until you get back to it.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets by lightly spraying with cooking spray (or use Silpats).

5. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball with the bottom of a glass dusted with flour. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the edges of the cookie are golden brown. Let them cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes until they harden up a bit, then cool completely on a cooking rack.

6. Break or chop up the dark chocolate if it is in bar form or large pieces. Add the 1 tsp of canola oil and melt it in the microwave or over a double boiler. (If microwaving -- microwave for one minute, stir a bunch, if it isn't all melted then microwave for another 30 seconds, stir a bunch more. If it still isn't all melted, melt in 20 second intervals until it's smooth. Be sure to stir a lot in between each microwaving because the remaining solid pieces will melt a lot in the already hot melted chocolate and you don't want to overmicrowave)

7. Dip or spread half of the cookie in chocolate, top and bottom. Set on wax paper to harden. The fridge will expedite this process.

An earlier prototype -- The texture wasn't quite right, but aren't they festive?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck!!

I realize I'm completely behind on posts and I have a bunch of pictures to prove it... and really, I'll get back to them sometime.. I've been trying to make this post about our November 8 Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck, but blogger won't leave the images correctly oriented so a lot of them have been coming up sideways. I keep trying to fix it, it doesn't work, I get frustrated and save it, come back to it later, repeat. Anyway, I need to get actual thanksgiving posted as well, so I'll do my best with these pictures as I shake my fist at blogger.

In any event, the potluck was fantastic. A bunch of people bailed at the last minute, so we were expecting a half dozen more people and had the food to prove it! We all stuffed ourselves silly, and had a great time.

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this potluck.


The remains of Smokey Crock Cheeze and Crackers. I had no idea this would be so popular!

Lisa's artichoke dip in phyllo cups

Banana Bread

Lisa can probably better explain the contents of these little roll ups. They were cream cheeze and yum, I think...

Kitty and Bunny Cheezy Crackers

Tom's Homemade Hummus

Pear-Ginger Butter

and Apple Butter made by BP and me



BP's mashed potatoes that took like 4 hrs to cook
(never try to cook potatoes on a simmer burner)

Garlicky Brussels Sprouts with Slivered Almonds, also courtesy of BP

Corn Chowder made by Lisa

Cornbread by LucidAnne

Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Citrus

Cabbage Rolls by LucidAnne

Roasted Butternut Squash by Baypuppy

Stuffing, by me

Dinner Rolls by Lucidanne

Plate of noms!


Tom's fantastic baklava

Pumpkin Pie with Pecans by Scott

Scott's Pumpkin Pie sans Pecans

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Icing by me

Apple pie with Maple Pecan Crunch Topping by me

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Manhattan Vegetable Chowder

This recipe comes from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, a weird cookbook that, while claiming to be vegetarian, also calls for fish stock in some soups. I'm not entirely sure where she learned about vegetarianism, since it's obvious to most vegetarians that fish are animals, and vegetarians don't eat animals, ergo, vegetarians don't eat fish, but it seems she missed that day in veg training school. It's easy enough to say "Oh well vegetarians just would use vegetable broth" but people who are not veg, and get the book out of the library, say, to choose something nice to make for there vegetarian dinner guest might not know any better and suddenly you're eating fish. Gross. Enough with that rant, this soup is damn good. It is shown with whole wheat rosemary foccacia bread sticks sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Manhattan Vegetable Chowder

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups shredded cabbage
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup frozen lima beans
1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp dry thyme
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the cabbage until it's softened, about 4 minutes.

2. Add everything else, stir well to dissolve the tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Butternut Squash Ravioli

For some reason, I got an insane craving for butternut squash ravioli. Pre-made vegan ravioli are crazy expensive and I try to make my own whenever I'm in a ravioli mood. I set out looking for a recipe for butternut squash ravioli and they all were either JUST mashed butternut in pasta, or had tons of cheese and cream and things. So, I did what any reasonable person would do - made up a recipe. It turned out insanely good and made about 50 ravioli! Yikes! They freeze really well though and are very convenient for a quick weeknight supper, and are so delicious you won't mind having them again! I used wonton wrappers from the Asian market for pasta (the Nasoya kind at the regular grocery store has eggs -- check the Asian market kind, some have egg, some don't), because I'm just not THAT ambitious!! I served these with some spinach sauteed in garlic and earth balance, and toasted pine nuts.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

1 butternut squash, about 1.5 lbs
1 leek, tough green top part chopped off, washed well, and sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and guts, poke holes in the skin, and brush with olive oil. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat until soft and lightly browned.

3. Peel the butternut squash and mash the flesh in a large bowl. Add the leeks, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

4. Place a rounded tsp of squash mixture on one side of the wonton. Lightly brush the edge of one half of the wonton with water. Fold over and press to seal.

5. If you're cooking them immediately, place them gently into a large pot of salted, boiling water and boil until they float -- about 5 minutes. If you're going to freeze them, freeze them in one layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once they're frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag. Cook as above when ready.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost All American Seitan... Hot Pockets

I love the Almost All American Seitan Pot Pie recipe from Veganomicon. It is a really yummy, warm, comfort food type dinner. Sometimes though, I decide a casserole isn't enough work, and want little pocket meals to pack in a lunch or pick up and eat like those hot pockets on TV that they claim are healthy because they don't have trans-fats, ignoring the fact that it's pepperoni and cheese in a white flour crust... but I digress. I transformed the Seitan Pot Pie recipe into pockets by cutting everything into smaller bits, and dividing the dough into about a dozen balls and rolling them out, filling them, folding them over, and turning them into little dough pocket guys. Of course I made some changes in the filling; most notably (and predictably) I took out the onion and replaced it by broccoli (just about the same thing, right?). I also cut down on the vegetable broth so that there wouldn't be as much gravy since they were being put into dough pockets. The end result? A perfectly portable seitan snack! (Or dinner... or lunch...)

2 cups white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold earth balance shortening
1/2-3/4 cup ice cold water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar.

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Cut the shortening into small pieces and cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, or a food processor. Mixture should be crumbly.

3. Add cold water, a little at a time, until flour mixture comes together to form a dough. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5 tbsp canola oil
1 lbs seitan, cut into small cubes
1 tsp tamari
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
1/2 lbs white potatoes, washed and diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp dry sage
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot and add the seitan. Sprinkle with the tamari. Brown the seitan, then remove from the pot and set aside for later use.

2. Heat the rest of the oil in the pot and add the chickpea flour. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it gets golden brown and smells toasty.

3. Add the broccoli, potato, and celery and cook for about 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften.

4. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, the herbs, and stir. Once it's thickened, add the rest of the vegetable broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the gravy has thickened again. If it's too thick, add more broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


1. Divide the dough into 12 even balls. Roll out each ball into a circle, and add a few heaping spoonfuls of filling, careful to make sure there's enough room to fold the dough over and seal the edges.

2. Brush the edges on one side lightly with water. Fold over the dough and press the edges to seal. Roll up the edges into an attractive decorative border if desired.

3. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before you bite in or you'll burn the roof of your mouth like i did :D

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wheatloaf Fail: A work in progress

I often try to make meat-style meals for the boy with side dishes and all that. I have a "wheat"loaf recipe that I've fashioned that, if you balance all the liquids out just right, and cook it a day ahead of time, it is sliceable and doesn't fall apart. After the great Neatball experiment, I thought I might try to work the Neatball recipe into a Neatloaf, thinking it might hold together better with a vital wheat gluten base. Really, it didn't. It was better day 2 out of the fridge, but it certainly still needs work. It did taste good though, and we had a lovely dinner of Wheatloaf, roasted potatoes, and collard greens. Back to the drawing board!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Porcini-Wild Rice Soup

I have been wanting to make this soup since I bought Veganomicon. Of course with the boy's aversion to mushrooms, it's not exactly something I could slip into the weekly rotation. I was going to make it when I was visiting my parents once (my mushroom sanctuary) but dried porcinis and wild rice blends were both absurdly expensive. I got my chance though when I made plans with my friend to come over for dinner one night, and it was absolutely delicious!! I ended up using a dried wild mushroom mix in lieu of the dry porcinis because that's what I had, and I never grated the carrot in in the end as per recipe instructions (we were so excited to eat it we forgot), and I used a leek instead of an onion because of my onion thing.... and I added about 2 cups extra broth because the rice kept sucking it up. But hey, other than that, totally followed the recipe ;) I think next time I go to visit my parents I WILL make this, but I'll "import" the mushrooms and rice from home.

Wild Mushroom-Wild Rice Soup

1/2 ounce dried wild mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
1 leek, tough green part removed, well de-gritted, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
pepper, to taste
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups wild rice blend
6 cups vegetable stock

1. Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover, and let sit until you finish doing all this other stuff...

2. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, and saute for a few minutes until they start getting soft. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown.

3. Add the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes until they start to shrink down.

4. Carefully remove the dried mushrooms from the liquid (hot, remember?) and slice them. Add them, and the liquid, to the pot.

5. Add the rice and the broth and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tofu Parmesan

Yes, so about that Uncheese cookbook -- I decided I wanted to make a block uncheese, and "mostarella" seemed like a good start. The recipe claimed it was "just like" mozzarella cheese, and melts and everything. What could be bad right!?

Ahem... yes, well... it is NOT just like mozzarella cheese!!

It's weirdly sticky and has a strong tahini flavor and not enough salt or tang. Overall though, not inedible, and I thought if I put it with some sauce and stuff, it might be good. I decided to invent Tofu Parmesan for dinner. Overall the dinner was good! The uncheese did not melt, instead it just got even browner so it was strange brown rectangles on the top. As for the taste? It wouldn't've made any difference if I left it off because you couldn't taste it there anyway. The tofu came out yummy though!

Tofu Parmesan

1 lbs extra firm tofu, drained, pressed (if you do that sort of thing -- I buy mine in bulk and I find it isn't necessary)
2 cups unchicken broth, hot
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs (check your Kosher grocery isle - Kosher breadcrumbs are usually vegan!)
1 large jar marinara sauce (did I mention I was lazy this week?)
4 cups frozen spinach (I buy it in a bag, not a block, and make sure it isn't frozen into a block)
1 block mozzarella-style-cheeze

1. Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices. In a vessel large enough to marinate the tofu, mix the unchicken broth, nutritional yeast, tahini, and poultry seasoning. Add the tofu to the marinade, swish it around to make sure it's all got some marinade, and put in the fridge to soak for a few hours or overnight.

2. Once done marinating, bread the tofu in the breadcrumbs. Mine stuck just fine from being wet from the marinade. Then bake the tofu ina 375 oven for about 20-30 minutes on each side until the breadcrumbs are crunchy.

3. Lightly oil a 9X13 baking dish and spread a thin layer of marinara sauce. Arrange the tofu slices on top of the sauce. Top the tofu slices with a layer of spinach, top that with the rest of the sauce, and that with the mozzarella-style-cheeze. Put it back in the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until it's bubbly and your cheeze melts... if you have that kind of cheeze.

4. Let it cool a bit before you cut into it or you'll burn your mouth! :X

Monday, October 13, 2008

Broccoli Pasta

"Broccoli Pasta" is what we have for dinner around here when we can't decide what to have for dinner around here. Both the boy and I are perfectly happy with this simple and fast dish, though I prefer it jazzed up with some diced Kalamata olives (these are on his no list). I recently got the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and made some sesame seed-miso-salt-nutritional yeast "parma sprinkles" and while it doesn't taste like cheese, it makes a really yummy addition to a pasta dish.Broccoli Pasta
10 oz pasta (whole grain on this end, of course)
2 tbsp olive oil
2+ cloves of garlic (put in as much as you like!)
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets, stem peeled and diced
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Kalamata olives, chopped (optional)

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of oil in large sautee pan. Add the broccoli and the garlic and sautee on high for a minute or two, then add about 1/2 cup of water, cover, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is fork-tender.

3. Drain the pasta, toss with broccoli, parsley, and olives, if using

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Veggie Noodle Soup

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately and soup sounded good for dinner tonight. This is a pretty basic vegetable soup with noodles and seitan. It's warm and yummy and comforting though and definitely hit the spot!

Veggie Noodle Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 small potato, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of seitan, finely chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 lbs noodles (I used up the remains of a box of spaghetti and a box of fettucini, broken into smaller noodles. Soup is great for throwing in bits of things)
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup frozen peas
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large pot, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, potato, and garlic and sautee for about 7-10 minutes until the veggies begin to soften.

2. Meanwhile... begin cooking the noodles according to package directions, only don't cook them as long as the package says. You want them to still be pretty firm when you add them to the soup or they'll turn to mush.

3. Add the broth and seitan to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add the peas, spinach, and noodles to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes or until frozen veggies are heated through. Stir in the handful of fresh parsley just before serving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quick Dinner: Brown Rice, Mushrooms, Peas

The boy is out doing some sort of gaming nerd convention thing this weekend, so I'm on my own for dinner. This meal is an example of "Things I Found In My Fridge That I Should Really Use Up." There isn't a recipe, but it's a good example of a dinner I threw together in about 10 minutes that shows that not all vegan food needs to be complicated.

I had about a cup of brown rice and 1/2 lbs of crimini mushrooms in the fridge that weren't getting any newer. I sliced the mushrooms and sauteed them in a pan with some olive oil until they were lightly browned. When they were cooked, I added a few handfuls of frozen peas and the leftover brown rice, and a few splashes of Tamari. Once that was heated through, I folded in some sesame seeds and nori that I'd previously chopped up together in the food processor and have had stored in my freezer (so the seeds don't go rancid), and also sprinkled some on top. Dinner was quick and satisfying, and not so poorly balanced for stuff I scraped up around the house :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Okara Muffins, aka, Tofu Making Residue

When you make soymilk, you end up with the pulpy aftermath of the soybeans. It looks rather like wet mashed potatoes, if your wet mashed potatoes were made out of soybean pulp. Specifically, it looks like this:

This charming puddle of soybean residue is otherwise known as "Okara." Soybeans are seriously some sort of miracle food because even the soy bean waste product can be used. Okara is high in fiber and protein and can be used in all kinds of things from faux meats to baked goods. For this pile of okara, bp and I decided on baked goods. After scanning the internet for recipes, and figuring out what I had in my pantry and what would be easy to veganize, we decided to make a batch of muffins, sort of vaguely following a recipe. The results were surprisingly delicious! There were two downfalls to the muffins, however, though neither were critical: (1) the muffins stuck to the paper; (2) they get stale VERY quickly! Still a worthy end for a bi-product of soybeans.

Okara Muffins:
1/2 cup rice milk
1 cup wet okara (mmm, sounds great doesn't it?)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla soygurt
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup dried fruit (we used 1/2 pears, 1/2 cherries, both chopped)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
cinnamon sugar for sprinking.

1. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Fold in the fruit, nuts, and coconut.

3. Equally distribute the batter amongst the 12 cupcake papers. They will be pretty full! Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Homemade Tofu: A photo diary

It all started with an email to baypuppy: "Hey you with the Vitamix, do you want to make tofu?" The boy and I were having a conversation in bed one night about fake meat, and how I didn't think tofu or seitan (or tempeh) counted as fake meat since they are their own foods. He asked something about making tofu, meaning seitan, then I replied "well.. you COULD make tofu..." and the rest was history.

baypuppy was on board, but she also has a soymilk maker, thus making the process even easier. We picked a day to do it (no school! Yom Kippur!) and started the all day process of making a very small amount of tofu. There really aren't recipes here...

Step 1: Make Soymilk. This involved some amount of soybeans that bp had soaked overnight, and this carafe looking machine that made loud whirring noises and somehow turned said beans into soymilk. We made 3 batches.

Step 2: Place all soy milk into large pot and heat to 170-180 degrees

Step 3: Add coagulant. This part was a little sketchy. There are all sorts of things you can use for coagulating tofu, including Nigiri (some sort of mystery stuff that you have to mail order), and EPSOM SALTS. That one weirded me out. I'm sorry, it's a muscle soak, a laxative, and a tofu coagulant? Too weird. We took the middle road and used apple cider vinegar diluted in water (~1/4 cup vinegar + 1 cup water)

... and coagulate it did....

... and coagulated some more... for a total of about 15 minutes of turning into baby spit up

Step 4: Skim off the "whey." We used a mesh strainer to hold the "curds" back and ladelled off the whey. Now the weird thing about this picture is that it isn't sideways on my computer... yet it is here... you may need to tilt your head to get the full effect.

This is the "curds" with most of the "whey" removed:

Step 5: This step involves a "tofu press" which is a wooden box with holes in it and a lid that's smaller than the top that you put a weight on to "press" the tofu. Yea, we didn't have one of those either. bp got a few cigar boxes from Cali and I drilled holes in one, and we made our own. I don't have pictures of the drilling because you shouldn't operate power tools and take pictures at the same time. Once we had our tofu press lined with cheesecloth, we started spooning in our curds. Mmm... curds...

Step 6: Pressing. The lid to the cigar box was, of course, fitted to the cigar box, and lacking some sort of jigsaw or dremmel tool to make it smaller, we just used a tupperware lid that was roughly the size and shape we needed. A few cans and a cast iron grill pan and voila! Tofu pressing! We pressed it for about a half an hour:

Step 7: Press some more. We took the tofu out of the press, which started off chock full o'curds and it was... a very small piece of tofu featuring a lovely grid pattern from the cheesecloth:

We decided to press it again, this time wrapped in papertowels, on a cookie sheet, with a cutting board and the grill pan again. Once that part was done we had a whopping 10 oz of tofu, which we cut into 6 pieces, 2 for each of us, because Scott was joining us for tofu adventure dinner:
We threw a bunch of things into a container for a marinade (apple juice, ketchup, molasses, unbeef broth concentrate, oregano, allspice, liquid smoke, maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, ginger -- I have no idea how much of anything), marinated the tofu for a while, then baked it, along with some cauliflower and carrots which were the only veggies in my house at the time that weren't in queue for another meal:

Scott and bp say "Nom nom tofu."
At some point I'll post the further adventures of what we did with the Okara (soybean pulp)... but I need to do dishes and go to the post office now. Instead, have some bonus kitties in love: