Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 30: Comfort Food

I made it! I made it I made it I made it! 30 days of blogging! Sort of on a holiday theme the entire time. A few diversions anyway, but hey, I posted every day and that's what counts. I decided to end November with a typical easy cleaning-out-the-fridge comfort dinner we enjoy at Casa Megatarian. It can best be described as Pasta Primavera, as it is veggies and noodles, though we just go with the simple "vegetable pasta." It's quick, it's easy, it's delicious, and it will take whatever you've got around the house to toss in! I'll write up what I tossed in tonight, but it's just a suggestion. The important part is to have at least as many veggies as you've got pasta!

Vegetable Pasta
12 oz wholegrain pasta
1 large broccoli crown
1/4 head of cauliflower
1 15oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups frozen spinach
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile... cut the veggies into bite sized pieces and dice the garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet (I use a wok) and sautee the garlic until it is fragrant but don't let it brown. Add the veggies and sautee the whole lot until they've reached desired tenderness. Add bits of water here and there if the pan is getting too dry.

3. Drain the pasta, toss with the veggies, fresh parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with your Parmesan cheese substitute of choice!

And now, since I may not blog again for Blog knows how long, I leave you with a cruddy picture of my Christmas tree, and Laser Cats.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 29: Cookbook Review!

I've been wanting to write up a review for Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson for a while now, and just haven't gotten around to it. I got this cookbook last summer and have been using it like crazy ever since. I have been a huge fan of Robertson's cookbooks for a while. They're just full of really practical, delicious, recipes that you actually want to make! I'm not going to name names, but I've bought a few that sounded good and flipped through them and gone "Damn, I wish I hadn't ordered this. I wouldn't make a thing in here!" Not so with Robertson's books. I think I own at least 5 of them now, and they're all well stained with cooking love.

Vegan on the Cheap is great, not only because the recipes are cheap, but they're also EASY, and they contain normal ingredients you can easily find, and most of them come together pretty quickly! What more could a busy girl ask for? Some of my favorite recipes so far are....


The page for the Wheatball recipe is really easy to find in my book because it's stuck to the next page. I've made them that often. The recipe contains chickpeas and VWG and thus is similar to a Chickpea Cutlet, which I made into meatballs in some earlier blog entry, except unlike chickpea cutlets, it also contains MUSHROOMS!! This addition lends an additional meaty flavor to the balls. Above they are featured in Spaghetti O's. They also work well in Spaghetti and Wheatballs, Italian Wedding Soup, and Swedish Wheatballs.

Another favorite recipe of mine is Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cashews and Kidney Beans.
Now I am not one to go for salads for meals. This one drew me in, however, because sweet potatoes and I are best friends (recently I saw some research indicating that women who consume sweet potatoes around the time they conceive are more likely to conceive twins. This terrifies me. I love sweet potatoes, and do not want twins!). On top of the lovely roasted sweet potatoes, this recipe contains MORE of my favorite things -- cashews, peas, and kidney beans! What could be bad? Nothing, that's what. In this picture there's also some fresh corn in the salad because I had an ear of corn I needed to use up in the fridge. A very welcome addition! My only recommendation for this particular recipe is to double the amount of romaine (and thus dressing) the recipe calls for, because the first time we made it there didn't seem to be enough lettuce to "other stuff."

The Thai-Style Pineapple Rice Salad is also great, either hot or cold. I love the addition of fruit to a savory dish! I've made the Penne-Wise Peanutty Pasta for guests and it was a hit all around! Even having accidentally added (unsweetened) vanilla almond milk instead of original flavor, it was still delicious! Looking for an interesting way to use garden veggies? Try the Vegetable Crisp. I made this over the summer when I had an abundance of Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Eggplants. Anything with a crisp top goes over well around here!!

Penne-Wise Peanutty Pasta

One dish I made recently that went over VERY well in our house was the Walnut Crusted Tofu with Spinach and Orange. I got a big scowl the night I said I was serving this for dinner... until the boy took a bite. He was sold. He ate two giant plates of tofu topped with Spinach and Oranges with a side of roasted sweet potato slices. It really is delicious. The walnuts and panko make a crispy and rich crust covering a creamy and tangy mustard sauce, which makes the crust stick. The oranges and spinach went very well together and really lightened up the tofu. One change I made was using a full pound of fresh baby spinach leaves instead of 8 oz, and I'm glad I did because maybe I just like piling on my spinach, but we went through the entire pound and probably could have eaten more. Of course Spinach does cook down to nearly nothing.

Are you sold yet? Order it off of Amazon! Only $11.13 -- it's a Vegan COOKBOOK on the Cheap too!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 28: Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole is one of those quintessential Thanksgiving foods that I had never eaten in my life until last year's Pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck. In my family, you didn't cover vegetables in "sauces" or ever use cream of anything soup for anything. The exception to this, somehow, was creamed spinach... but I'm just going to chalk that up to an anomaly. Sure we ate green beans, sauteed, with butter or green beans with slivered almonds, but never, never, with a cream sauce and fried onions in a can. Which leads to the second reason I'd never eaten this -- the onion thing. I think it's well known by now that I don't *do* onions. It's not that I dislike them, but they have a burning searing hatred for my guts... literally, so I don't eat them. Third -- Green Bean Casserole always seems to be made with canned green beans. I don't do canned vegetables either, with the exception of corn, and tomatoes, and legume type beans (i.e. chickpeas, kidney beans). I don't like squishy veggies. After two years of potlucks eating green beans with yummy mushroom sauce I decided I'd give it a go myself this year. After perusing lots of omni recipes, I decided I'd just wing it, and here's what I came up with, in all its delicious glory!

Green Bean Casserole
1 1/2 lbs FRESH green beans, ends snapped off, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup diced shallots
10 oz crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups Creamy Portabello Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand because I can't find Tofutti Nonhydrogenated here anymore!)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 can French Fried Onions

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the shallots and mushrooms. Sautee until the mushrooms are all shrunk down and the shallots are soft and translucent.

2. Add the green beans to the skillet and continue to sautee until they are just fork tender. Keep in mind they will also be baked and you don't want soggy beans! Add a little of the mushroom soup if the pan needs some moisture.

3. Add the 2 tbsp of flour and sautee for a minute to get rid of the raw flour taste.

4. Add the soup and cream cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and stir often to dissolve all the cream cheese. Allow it to thicken slightly (just needs a few minutes) and remove from heat.

5. Pour your green bean gravy mixture into your baking pan of choice. Top with French Fried Onions, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

So now you may be wondering "But what about the onions?!? You don't eat ONIONS!!" This is true. I portioned out a small amount for myself in a single serve baking dish and topped it with Panko. Problem solved :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 27: Cranberry Remix

I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of cranberry sauce. Earlier in the month I posted the cranberry sauce recipe I make every year for Thanksgiving. That would have been my go-to for Thanksgiving this year as well, but then I got an email from the good people at Pom Wonderful offering me a case of their juice to try and play with. I'm a big fan of Pomegranite juice. Heck, I love pomegranites, I just can't get past how difficult they are to eat. I'm not good at swallowing bunches of seeds so eating a fresh pomegranite is a messy, spitty experience. Pom Wonderful takes all the great sweet-tart taste of fresh pomegranites and gets rid of those pesky seeds, leaving you with, really, a wonderful beverage. No false advertising there! The juice is a little pricy, but for drinking, a little goes a long way. You can add a splash to water and it gives it a bright color and good flavor. It's actually a bit strong for drinking straight (for me anyway, but I'm primarily a water drinker!).

Anyway, my juice arrived on Monday, just in time for Thanksgiving application. I thought the juice would lend itself well to cranberry sauce, and I wasn't wrong!! I put together a Cran-Pomegranite sauce with ginger and cinnamon and it was so delicious! The Pomegranite gave it a depth of flavor but blended seamlessly with the cranberries. I would definitely make this again and again!!

Cran-Pomegranite Sauce
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
8 oz Pom Wonderful pomegranite juice
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
5 slices fresh ginger

Put everything in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until all the berries pop and the sauce begins to thicken. Allow to cool to room temperature, then fish out the cinnamon stick and ginger slices. Put in an air tight container and refrigerate overnight to allow it to thicken more and set.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 26: Mimicreme Healthy Top Review

Whippable vegan cream has long been an elusive find. There's the mysterious "Rich's Whip," who actually sent me a coupon for a free container to try, but none of the stores here ever actually have anything but Rich's Coffee Stuff, whatever it's called. Then there was Soyatoo, and the whippable soyatoo actually is much better than the canned stuff, but really needs some vanilla and extra sugar added. Then there is the homemade whipped coconut cream, where you take a can of coconut milk with lots of fat, refrigerate it, and whip the thick creamy stuff with sugar and vanilla. It's definitely tasty, but has a coconut flavor to it, and stays very soft. Recently I discovered Mimicreme "Healthy Top" whippable nut cream at the co-op.
I love regular Mimicreme for recipes requiring heavy cream, so I was very excited to see the Healthy Top. Also, Mimicreme is a local product, and yay for supporting local business. I bought a box for our Thanksgiving potluck earlier this month but we were all too stuffed for dessert, so it waited in my fridge until last night when we whipped it up for dessert.

This stuff whips beautifully!! In just a few minutes in the Kitchenaid we had stiff whipped peaks of creamy goodness! It was impressive how well it held its shape. The flavor right off the bat was better than Soyatoo. For one thing, being soy-free, it didn't have the beany aftertaste that Soyatoo has. Second, without adding any extra sugar or flavoring, the whip was sweet and had a nice vanilla flavor. It did have some downsides. It has a slightly odd after-texture, leaving a sort of strange feeling on your tongue. This is more evident if you're eating it by the spoonful -- uhh not that we were doing this or anything. Also, for being named "Healthy Whip" it has 50 calories per tablespoon, 6% of your daily value of fat, and 12% of your daily value of saturated fat per tbsp. Granted, there's no cholesterol, and the fat is from nuts and coconut, but I really wouldn't call it "healthy" otherwise.

In the end, I would absolutely buy it again to top a pie or other dessert. I would also love to try to fold some chocolate into it for a mousse. It is VERY rich and a little goes a long way, but I think it's really easy to overdo it on whipped cream, and you do have to keep in mind that box or no, it's not all that healthy! For a treat every now and again, however, go for it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 25: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

I did it. I finished the marathon cooking! I ate many delicious Thanksgiving foods! I am stuffed and exhausted and also freezing cold because the oven has been off for hours and our house has no insulation. I had planned on a recipe tonight, but on the verge of passing out and trying so hard to get my daily post in, I will instead barrage you, gentle reader, with a bunch of pictures of the delicious food before I go collapse in my cozy warm bed.

Before we get to the food, however, I would like to invite any reader living in the Capital District in NY to come down to Crossgates Mall tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday and donate a toy to needy kids! I don't delve into my personal life much here, but I am a social worker in foster care prevention. I work with a bunch of really great kids (and their families) who deserve a happy holiday and without us, it probably won't happen. So if you're local and you're out and about, stop by and donate a toy or a few bucks to make Christmas great for a kid in need! If you're not local, or avoiding the mall like the plague, and want to help, send me an email at megatarian(at)gmail.com and we'll work something out! :) Now onto the food pics!

The Spread! With my new tablecloth and "fancy plates" I got for my wedding.

Here we have sweet potato cornbread, stuffed mushrooms, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potatoes with apples, and my mini green bean casserole with panko instead of onions.

In this corner we have green bean casserole, stuffing, more cranbery sauce, more gravy, and scalloped broccoli and cauliflower.This angle shows the sweet potato and apple bake in the front, a bunch of repeats, and the seitan loaf all sliced up.
My plate! Clockwise from top right -- Seitan & Gravy, stuffed mushroom, sweet potato cornbread, sweet potatoes and apples, green bean casserole, broccoli and cauliflower, cranberry sauce, and stuffing in the middle. (No mashed potatoes because they're gross -- not these mashed potatoes in particular -- all mashed potatoes. I hate mashed potatoes.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake from blog.fatfreevegan.com

Apple Pie

Mmm.. Apple Pie and Mimicreme. The Pumpkin cheesecake is hiding behind it. We also had the pecan bars that I posted about yesterday. It was a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 24: Pecan Bars

Thanksgiving cooking is in full swing! For the past six hours I've been working my butt off in the kitchen prepping as much stuff as I can for tomorrow's feast. Tonight I accomplished the following:
Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce (recipe when I get a good picture!)
Chex Mix
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple Pie
Pecan Bars
Green bean casserole
Sweet potato and apple bake (minus the apples -- I'll put those on tomorrow before baking so they don't oxidize)

I'm pooped! But I only have four things (I think? Stuffing, gravy, veggies, heat the seitan... hmm.. I think that's it) that I have to get done before dinner tomorrow, so HOPEFULLY I can spend most of the day relaxing and enjoying the holiday. The stuffing is simple, gravy is pretty simple, seitan in oven is easy peasy, so the scalloped veggies will take the longest.

I tried that recipe from the food network for the pecan bars, and I tweaked it just a hair, and added an extremely valuable instruction to the cooking process. I think if I was going to make them again, I'd use a different crust. Something more like a shortbread like you'd find on the bottom of lemon bars (dammit, now I wish I had also made lemon bars... they sound really good right now!) cause this crust didn't set up as well as I would have liked, however, I think with my instructional tweaking it would resolve at least some of this problem. I also only made half a recipe which yielded 16 bars, which is more than enough considering how rich they are and the fact that we have two pies as well for only 6 people.

The original recipe is here. My changes are as follows:

Crust --
3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp water

Filling --
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8X8 pan, line with parchment, grease the parchment.

2. In a food processor or with a mixer, blend the dry crust ingredients and the margarine together until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla and water and mix just until it begins to form a dough ball.

3. Dump the crust mixture into the prepared pan. With well floured hands, press the crust into the bottom of the pan.

4. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

5. Meanwhile... cream the margarine and brown sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until everything is well combined.

6. Now here's the important part that I think was needed that the original recipe didn't mention -- ALLOW THE CRUST TO COOL for 15-20 minutes or until mostly solid before going anywhere NEAR it with the filling. I tried just dumping the filling on and spreading it out and it started to tear the crust and it was a mess. Don't do this.

7. Once the crust has cooled and set, GENTLY spread the filling over the crust, being sure to cover it edge to edge.

8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

Here's what I like about this recipe:
1. It tastes very much like bites of pecan pie, only without the pesky egg substituting and iffy thickeners.
2. It lends itself to having a small bite, which is good for a pie with the caloric hit that pecan packs.
3. It came together quickly and easily.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 23: Thanksliving Game Plan

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is sort of like running a marathon. At least I'd think so, but since I've never run a marathon, I can't say for sure. It is definitely a long process with a short reward. I start the serious planning about a week before, figuring out what I need to buy where. Prior to that I try to plan out my menu and figure out who is coming over. This year, we'll be having the parents-in-law, beeps, and DR for dinner, though beeps isn't really a guest since she and I have excellent kitchen dynamics and will be co-cooking a lot of the meal.

This may be a little late to be posting for people who are hosting dinner this week for the first time, but for people considering it for the future, perhaps this will be helpful.

The Menu:
Appetizers --
Hummus (store bought)
Guacamole (homemade - got cheap avos!)
Corn chips
Chex Mix (homemade, I'm hooked right now)

Seitan turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet potatoes with apples
Cranberry sauce
Scalloped Broccoli and Cauliflower
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet potato corn bread

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple Pie
Pecan Bars
Mimicreme Whip

Saturday before:
Plan shopping lists for Supermarket & Food Co-op. Shop. Put stuff away.

Sunday before:
Bake seitan loaves.

Monday and Tuesday before:
Pop into Supermarket and Co-op for the things I forgot on Saturday.

Wednesday after work:
Make cranberry sauce. Make desserts. Make Chex Mix.
If I'm awake enough and motivated enough -- Make Cornbread & Prep green bean casserole to be baked tomorrow.

Thursday morning:
Prep stuffing and veggies.
Do delicate oven timing dance

Thursday afternoon:
Baste Seitan loaf and bake, rebasting regularly.

Right before food is served:
Make Gravy
Put Mimicreme in the freezer

After dinner:
Whip Mimicreme

Later after dinner:
Do a million dishes, pass out.

In general, the game plan is to do as much as can be done ahead of time ahead of time so that there is plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying the holiday. If I wasn't working from 9-6 tomorrow, and I had a larger fridge, I would definitely be getting more done tomorrow night. The most important things to have done the night before are the cranberries and the pumpkin cheesecake, since they both need time to set up.

What's on your menu this year? Do you have a gameplan?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 22: Creative Mix Ins

Creative cookie baking doesn't always have to involve coming up with new innovative recipes every time. Sometimes taking a base recipe and adding different mix ins can make an old cookie recipe seem entirely new! Here are some suggestions for variations on some classic cookies: sugar cookies, chocolate chip, and oatmeal.

Sugar cookies, at least in my house, are usually made with vanilla extract. They really are equally delicious when you substitute other extracts like Lemon, Coconut or Almond (sprinkle on some slivered almonds before baking, or on the icing before hardening to really up the almond ante) produce an entirely different cookie experience with only a very minor change. Check out Asian markets for inexpensive extracts to experiment with in your cookies. I've had my eye on some Jasmine extract for a while. I'll have to post after some testing with that!

Chocolate chip cookie dough is a great blank slate for all sorts of ingredients. You can keep it super simple and add in a few handfuls of rainbow sprinkles to make rainbow cookies. Like your rainbows bigger? Try some Chocolate Lentils or Whizzers Chocolate Beans in place of or in addition to the chips. Check out your local Kosher market for white chocolate chips or chocolate coffee chips. Walnuts are traditional, but have you tried chocolate chip cookies with hazelnut extract and chopped hazelnuts? It's Nutella-tastic! Some of my other favorite combinations are chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries and blanched slivered almonds, and chocolate chip cookies with peanuts and raisins. Remember Chunky bars? It's Chunky cookies!

Oatmeal cookies are also begging for creative add ins. Who needs raisins when you can have currents or dried cranberries? A handful of coconut really gives a kick to ordinary oatmeal cookies. There are lots of fruit and nut combos that are stellar in the oatmeal base. Try cashews and dried strawberries, pecans and dried peaches or apricots (cut into smaller bits, naturally), or pistachios and dried pears. Going tropical? How about dried mango and macadamia nuts. You don't have to pick just one either. Divide your dough in half or quarters, and mix a little something different into each batch.

What are some of your favorite cookie mix ins?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Pumpkin Bread

I think I'm moving back into Thanksgiving, or at least, into autumn fare and away from Christmas cookies. I've been meaning to make pumpkin bread since I bought two little sugar pumpkins this fall, but then just didn't get to it. Then when I did get to it, the pumpkins weren't good. One was like, squishy when I cut into it. The second I roasted in the oven with intent to puree and make bread, and it was bitter. I finally just resigned myself to using canned pumpkin and I'm so glad I did, because it's delicious.

This recipe calls for a ton of sugar which really makes it more of a "cake" than a "bread" even moreso than like, banana bread is more cakey than bready. It is very moist and delicious though! The boy ate a piece tonight, declared that he didn't like pumpkin bread, but that he loved my pumpkin bread!! I think that's a pretty good endorsement! I have no idea where this recipe came from. I've been making it for over a decade and have veganized it. It makes either 3 small loaves or 2 big loaves or like 2 dozen muffins, so I guess maybe the sugar thing isn't TOO bad.

Pumpkin Bread
2 cups pureed pumpkins
1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups white sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup non dairy yogurt
3 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 large or 3 small loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, vegetable oil, sugar, applesauce, and yogurt.

3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

4. Divide the batter between the loaf pans and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 20: Peanut Butter Kisses

Peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's Kiss stuck in the middle are a holiday classic. Hershey's has come out with tons of different varieties of kisses in recent years, but unfortunately, none of them are vegan! This creates a bit of a conundrum. How can you have peanut butter kisses without the kisses?? I experimented with a bunch of different chocolates from pieces of dark chocolate bars to chocolate chips to round pieces of dark chocolate and it was a Goldilocks type problem -- this one was too hard, this one was too soft, this one was too small, that one just looked weird. Problem was solved with really cheap generic supermarket chocolate! In the candy isle, as well as in "candy they keep in produce near nuts" section of my grocery store ("Price Chopper") they have Dark Chocolate Nonpareils, what are basically gigantic Snow Caps chocolates. Not only are they accidentally vegan, they're also quite decorative as it looks like it snowed on your cookie! Sometimes they have seasonal varieties with little red white and green sprinkles for Christmas, or pastel colors for Easter. Regardless of color, they're the right size, right shape, and right thickness to make these cookies live again! Check out your local grocery store, you might be surprised! Cheap peanut butter is good in this recipe because it gives it the junky feel of the original recipe!

I made these for a party I had, hence the cute label

Peanut Butter "Kisses"
About 4 dozen Dark Chocolate Nonpareils
3/4 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, your choice)
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 cup nondairy yogurt, plain or vanilla flavored
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, peanut butter, and sugar.

3. Add the milk, yogurt, and vanilla and mix until combined.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients.

5. Roll 1 inch balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Jam a piece of chocolate into the center of each cookie immediately after removing from the oven. Allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheet so that the chocolate can set up again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 19: Pumpkin Cookies

This recipe really walks the line of "Christmas Cookie" and "Thanksgiving Food." With pumpkin, you generally think of Halloween and Thanksgiving. With cookie, you generally think "mmm cookie." There isn't a bad time for cookies, and since my themes so far have been thanksgiving and cookies, it has a place one way or the other.

The one thing that you need to remember when you make a fruit or vegetable cookie is that they stay cakey. Like if you replace eggs with banana your cookie will stay cakey and not get crunchy or chewy. It isn't a bad thing if you like cakey cookies, but if you dislike them, then it's a good idea to avoid recipes with pureed produce. To me, these cookies remind me of little bites of spicy pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread, so that isn't a criticism. Take care in how you store them, however. Due to their soft nature, they tend to stick to each other and you get clumps of one cookie on another cookie. A sheet of waxed paper or parchment in between layers will help to prevent that.

Also, this is another "random icing" related recipe. I made a maple icing by taking about 2 cups of powdered sugar, a splash of maple extract, then drizzling maple syrup into it until the proper consistency was reached. It is a nice compliment to the pumpkin and spice.

Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup nondairy yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together the margarine and sugars.

3. Beat in the pumpkin, yogurt, and vanilla until smooth.

4. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir to combine

5. Drop tbsps of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets and flatten slightly.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges/bottom start to get golden brown. Allow to cool completely before you ice.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 18: Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread men are, to me, the classic Christmas Cookie. I like them very dark and spicy with blackstrap molasses. There are a lot of Gingerbread imitators out there. Cookies that are basically sugar cookies with some brown sugar and cinnamon and a touch of ginger added in. That is NOT gingerbread. Admittedly, some people like that and like to pretend that that is gingerbread and if you are one of those people, you'll probably not want to make these cookies. If, however, you want your house to be filled with the aroma of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, these are for you. They are great on a cold night with a warm mug of tea or hot chocolate. For whatever reason, they come out of the oven soft, get crunchy, then, left a day in a cookie tin, turn soft and chewy again. I ice them with my basic powdered sugar-milk-corn syrup-vanilla icing and stick on some candies for good measure.

Gingerbread Men
3 cups flour
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, slightly soft, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp ~milk

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the margarine and mix/process until it resembles a fine meal (like a pie crust looks before you add the water). Gradually add in the molasses and milk, and mix until thoroughly combined. Split the dough into two pieces and refrigerate 2 hrs or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out to 1/4" thickness and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 8-11 minutes until set in center and cookie barely retains imprint with gently touched with fingertip. Let them cool on the cookies sheets for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack.

Allow the cookies to cool completely before you ice them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 17: Snickerdoodles!

Can you believe I was a full blown grown up before I ever had a snickerdoodle?? They weren't part of my Mom's cookie repertoire. We mostly made chocolate chip, chocolate with peanut butter chips, spritz, peanut butter and sugar cookies. I missed a lot of good years when I could have been eating sugar cookies! I love vanilla cookies, and I love cinnamon, so what could be bad? These cookies come out delicious. Very tender and chewy with a crackled cinnamon sugar outside. Never again will I go a holiday season without making a batch of Snickerdoodles!! This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's. I wish Betty would come out with a vegan cookbook. Maybe some day...

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup margarine, soft
1/2 cup shortening, soft
1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For rolling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cream together the margarine, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the soy yogurt and vanilla and mix until well combined.

3. Mix in the dry ingredients.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.

5. Roll about 1 1/2 tbsp of dough into a ball, and roll the ball into the cinnamon sugar. Place the balls on an uncreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until spread, cracked, and very lightly golden. Allow to cool until set, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Does anyone have a favorite cookie he or she would like to see veganized? Or does anyone have an idea for a cookie that doesn't have a recipe? Let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 16: Sesame Delights

Shifting gears a little... I think I'm out of ideas for Thanksgiving posts, at least for right now. Therefore, I'm going to take the logical next step into CHRISTMAS COOKIES!! Really, any cookies can be Christmas Cookies as long as you make them around Christmas time. I usually make a combination of old favorites, like the aforementioned Spritz and Sugar Cookies, and toss in a few new recipes that I've come across during the year. I read a lot of magazines in waiting rooms, and get handed some down from my mother-in-law and make notes of cookie recipes that sound interesting and veganize them. This first recipe is from a 1997 issue of Country Living. No, seriously. This recipe didn't actually call for any eggs, which put it in the "super easy to veganize" category. They are basically shortbread cookies with sesame seeds, coconut, and almonds. Wow are they rich, but really tasty with a nice toasty coconut/sesame flavor. A little drizzle of chocolate on top finishes them off nicely, both in flavor and appearance!

Sesame Delights

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds, whole
1/4 cup sesame seeds, ground *
1/4 cup almonds, ground *
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream together the margarine, shortening, vanilla, and sugar.

2. Beat in the flour until combined.

3. Fold in the coconut, seeds, and almonds.

4. Split the dough in half and roll each half into a log about 6 inches wide and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs.

5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

6. Unwrap the dough and slice the log into 1/4 inch slices. It is a little crumbly but should easily stick back together again if you reshape the slices with your hands.

7. Place the slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the chocolate...
Melt about 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave or a double boiler and drizzle over the top of the cookies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for decoration.

* I grind my seeds and nuts in a coffee grinder dedicated to this purpose (I don't drink coffee! Bleh!). A small food processor will also work, or perhaps a blender. If you have none of these things, just try to chop them up really small! Starting with slivered or sliced almonds will make the job easier.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 15: Stuffing

I love stuffing. I'm pretty sure I could eat it every single day and not get bored of it. Despite this, I tend to reserve it for the holidays and special occasions. Other people love my stuffing too, and want to know how I make it, and really, it's no big secret.

Yep. Pepperidge Farm. Accidentally vegan. I don't believe all the varieties are, however, so you should of course double check the bag before you buy it. I don't have a bag in front of me to write the exact directions, but basically, you follow the instructions on the back of the bag, except with the following changes and substitutions:

1. Use Earth Balance/Margarine instead of butter BUT
1b. Use half as much as the bag says otherwise the stuffing will get greasy
2. Sautee 2 cups of diced celery in the margarine and add that to the stuffing.
3. Use unchicken broth in place of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if that's what you've got)
3b. Use a little extra to make up for the margarine you didn't use
4. Add 1 handful of chopped parsley when you toss it all together.

Then just bake it in the oven in a baking dish. People go absolutely mad for this, and it's so easy my husband can do it!! (Possibly also cavemen)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 14: Sweet Potato Pie

My parents have some story about how they used to eat sweet potato pie in some diner in San Francisco back when they lived in Berkley... or something along those lines. For years and years they wanted sweet potato pie and they never had a recipe because the internet didn't exist. The details are hazy, but sometime back in the 90's the NY Times Magazine had a recipe for Sweet Potato Pie with Orange Crust and my mom demanded I make it (I was already the family baker at that point). It was good, and sweet potato pie is NOT like pumpkin pie. Ok, it's SORT OF like pumpkin pie in that it's orange and creamy. The flavor is not like pumpkin pie, however, and it is worth making, even in conjunction with what might be the more traditional pumpkin pie.

Years of making this pie later, I, of course, had to veganize it to make it once again a part of my Thanksgiving menu. The pie calls for three eggs, which I've replaced with a combination of tofu and Ener-G, something I rarely use but it does help firm up the filling. The pie crust is nowhere near as easy or workable as the pie crust recipe I posted earlier, and the pie is very good in just a plain pie crust as well, but I'll include the Orange Crust recipe anyway, in case you're feeling ambitious.

Sweet Potato Pie with Orange Crust
The Crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold margarine, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp orange zest
3-4 tbsp cold orange juice
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg

1. Sift together the flour and salt.

2. Cut in the margarine and shortening using a pastry cutter.

3. Combine the orange juice, zest, sugar and nutmeg in a small bowl, then mix it into the flour to form a dough.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

The Filling:
3/4 cup pureed silken tofu
1 tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 cup white sugar
2 cups cooked and well mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large taters)
1/3 cup unflavored milk of choice
1/3 cup Mimicreme (or nondairy creamer of choice)
1/4 cup melted margarine
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
pinch salt
large pinch fresh ground nutmeg

1. Beat the tofu, Ener-G, sugar, and sweet potatoes together.

2. Add the milk and Mimicreme and stir until combined.

3. Add the melted margarine, orange juice, extracts, salt and nutmeg and stir until well distributed.

4. Roll out the pie crust and press into a 9" pie plate, crimping the edges.

5. Pour the sweet potato pixture into the pie shell and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

And of course if you want to get REALLY bizarre, you could use Ube, or purple sweet potatoes, in place of the regular sweet potatoes. It is some seriously purple pie!!

(Well he prefers the purple sweet potatoes, anyway.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 13: "Turkey" & Cranberries Sandwich

I believe this to be my all time favorite sandwich. It even trumps Avocado and Marmite and Earth Balance, and that's tough to beat! This sandwich is particular to Thanksgiving time, because originally it contained turkey, or roast chicken, which was something my parents made around the holidays as well. When I first went vegetarian, this was something I actually lamented not being able to eat anymore. Of course, back then, turkey-style veggie lunch slices were unheard of, tofurkey didn't exist, field roast wasn't born yet, and Seitan wasn't a household name. Now that all these things are a part of my life, my sandwich was reborn and is as delicious as I remember as a kid, if not more so! It is simple, yet delicious, and one of the only places, if not THE only place, I actually LIKE mayonnaise (or, y'know, Vegenaise). This can be made with your turkey substitute of choice, but I find the most important parts are having good quality bread and homemade cranberry sauce. Maybe I'm just spoiled, but the stuff in a can just yields an inferior sandwich.

This isn't really a recipe, more a suggestion for an awesome sandwich.

* Take two pieces of bread at room temperature and spread them with Vegenaise.
* Heat up your turkey style meat alternative slices just to get the fridge-chill off of them and lay them on your bread.
* Top the turkey-ish with a generous helping of Cranberry sauce.
* Cover with second piece of bread. Slice in half if desired. Enjoy.

I've had this for dinner twice this week and my mouth couldn't be happier!! I think I like it more than actually eating a Thanksgiving-style dinner!!