Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Great Chestnut Experiment

I was so excited to roast our bulging stash of chestnuts tonight. Unfortunately, it turns out that I have no idea how to tell a fresh chestnut from a half rotten one, because these were the only edible survivors.
Instead of the recipe I linked to in an earlier post, I used this one instead (veganized, of course). I thought the cinnamon would give it a nice little kick. I'm sure it would have, except I accidentally sprinkled cayenne on the chestnuts instead! The spice bottles are virtually identical, and I didn't bother to read the label first. Oops. Despite this, the chestnuts turned out to be meaty and exceptionally tasty. Spicy too. J could only eat a couple.

And what goes really nicely with roasted chestnuts? Soy nog, of course. I've tried different brands in the past, but I really like Earth Balance's nog. 
I swung by the comic book store tonight and picked up Batgirl #3 and #4, as well as the trade of Unwritten volume #2, so expect reviews in the near future!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nuts, Comic Books, What Else Do You Need?

Look, it's yummy roasted pecans! Our friends veganized this batch just for us. They're so addictive, I had to stop myself from eating them.
Speaking of nuts, J and I still have half of pound of chestnuts to roast. I'm thinking we might have time to tackle this little project tomorrow night! Eee!

Oh, and I just wanted to note my parting impressions about The Unwritten, volume one. The main arc ended on a super-creepy note, and then there was a bit involving Mark Twain and Kipling that gives you an entirely different perspective on what's going on. Love it! I plan to pick up the second trade at my local comic book store this weekend.

On an entirely different note, I don't generally like mangas. I never have, really. It seems like the sort of thing I should like, but I've never found a series that really called out to me.

Every once in a while, however, I browse through the collections at the library and read one or two. This is how I came across Chi's Sweet Home, volume one.
So okay, this is totally geared towards young children. Chi's Sweet Home is the adventures of a kitten rescued by a well-meaning family. And by "adventures," I don't mean anything remotely super-heroish. I mean potty-training. A first trip to the vet.

Sounds pretty dull, eh? But it's not! It's so damned cute. Chi is drawn with dead-on cat expressions and mannerisms, and the developing friendship between her and the toddler of the family is so charming. I can't wait to read volume two! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Unwritten #1 and Field Roast

J and I were at the in-laws for Christmas, and just got back a few hours ago, long enough for me to heat up some leftover celebration field roast, stuffing, and roasted asparagus. No pictures of my own, unfortunately (we were too hungry for that), but here is a link to a field roast website in case you're interested.

We also went to the grocery store and came back with a bag of chestnuts. Neither of us have ever had roasted chestnuts before, but it seems like a festive thing to do. I found this recipe, which seems pretty straight forward. Anyway, I will share pictures of the finished result!

In comic book news, I am halfway through the trade of Unwritten Vol 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross.
Here, verbatim, is the synopsis on the back of the trade:
                                        Tommy Taylor's the main character in a series of fantasy novels
                                   that have become a cultural phenomenon. Fans gather on websites
                                   and at conventions to celebrate his magical stories and hope that
                                   his missing creator, Wilson Taylor, will someday resurface to write
                                   one last adventure.
                                        But there's one dangling plot thread: the real Tom Taylor, the son
                                   Wilson abandoned. The inspiration for the magical boy wizard, 
                                   Tom is now worshipped worldwide as a literary legend made flesh.
                                        As Tom's life begins to take on eerie and deadly parallels with
                                   Tommy's, he's drawn into a strange literary underworld where the
                                   power of storytelling is a strong as any spell.

So far this is a fun read. Tom has witnessed his first strange event, but is still unable to believe that his father's stories were anything but fiction. It's a great premise for a comic book series. Peter Gross' illustrations are wonderful too. Unless something goes horribly awry plot-wise at the end of this volume, I will definitely be picking up the next trade.

After The Unwritten, I'll be reading One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry. I mentioned my graphic novel obsession to a friend, and she lent me her copy of this book. I can't wait to read it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Here are some random pictures of cakes and cats:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So Much to Blog About

Eek! It's been a long time. And there's so much to write about. First off, I'm going to expand this blog beyond vegan food and cooking. I get crazy obsessed about different things, at the moment knitting and comic book/graphic novels. Of course I'm still cooking. I'm always cooking. So don't worry, there will still be lots of food related posts. 

For example -- homemade mushroom burgers! These were my first attempt at making my own veggie burgers, and they were so unbelievably easy. The recipe came from The Happy Herbivore, and the burgers included pinto beans and vital wheat gluten. Here's a picture of the burger, sans condiments.
And one with all the fixings. 
The only thing I would do differently next time is to fry the burgers instead of baking them. They came apart a little on the baking sheet (even with the recommended parchment paper). But these burgers were so good. I'll definitely make them again.

In other news, I am one of the winners of a holiday cookbooklette from Vegan Eat & Treats. I'm so excited! Vegan Eat & Treats' blog is amazing, and I'm sure her cookbooklette will be too. Of course I'll post pictures of the amazing dishes I make.

Here is the comic book I'm reading. 
Yup, it's Batgirl #2 from the DC relaunch (aka the New 52). I still prefer trades to single issue comic books, just because it's a pain in the butt to sort through them all once you've accumulated a few dozen. But I've been listening to a lot of comic book podcasts lately (namely 3 Chicks, Awesomed by Comics, and The Two-Headed Nerd Comicast), and everyone advocates that you buy the singles, because singles are what drives sales and keeps the comics you're reading from getting discontinued.

So. This is my first foray into the world of superhero comics. For years I've been a sporadic comic book/graphic novel reader, but my tastes run towards the literary, the eclectic, and the downright girly. I loved Neil Gaiman's Sandman and am almost all the way through Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra's Y the Last Man. I'm plodding along with The Walking Dead as well. The only things I know about Batman, Superman, and the X-men are either from the movies or second-hand knowledge from my younger brother, mostly from when he was a kid and would read Batman/Joker comics. I didn't even know a Batgirl existed. Much less a rich history of Batgirls. And when I found out, the first thought I had was: what a joke! She must be some kind of Batman underling, some stock sidekick figure.

Joke's on me.
I've heard some criticism about this new series, but I've never read any of the old Batgirl stuff, and I like what I'm reading now quite a bit. Batgirl seems like a fully realized young woman traumatized by her past (which includes a grisly run in with the Joker), trying to make her own way in the world of superherodom. It's well written, and the drawing is really, really pretty. 

Two of the comic book podcasts I subscribe to have women hostesses. It's really nice to get a female perspective on what can be an extremely male-dominated pastime. Anyway, it's getting late. I'll post more of what's happening here in the land of Veggie Obsessed soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dinners and Desserts

Things have been cranking up in the Veggie Obsessed kitchen lately. It started with some cream of potato soup, veganized from an old family recipe ...
Next was the Spicy Veggie Curry from, you guessed it, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cooking. I love this cookbook so much, and unfortunately had to return my copy to the library this afternoon. Luckily I happen to know that I'll be getting a copy for Christmas! Anyway, the curry was amazing, filled with okra, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms.  I served it with some white rice. 
I also dusted my crockpot off and made Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chick'n Chowder from the Fatfree Vegan Recipes website. The recipe is here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lazy Saturday Dinner and Extravagant Sunday Brunch

I'm still sick. Sad but true. This meant I skipped my spin class on Saturday morning and went to the Monroeville Mall instead to buy a few sweaters. I don't get out to the Mall very often, so I forgot how tiring that can be! So by the time dinner rolled around on Saturday night, I didn't feel like cooking much of anything.

Here's what I slapped together:
A simple salad with a green salsa/Nacho Mom's ultimate vegan queso dressing. After almost six months of pining for a bottle of Nacho Mom's queso sauce and not being able to find it in three states, I finally caved in and bought a jar online at Pangea. I'm so glad I did! Pre-vegan, I used to be obsessed with the Tostitos brand of queso. Nacho Mom's vegan queso tastes even better and is only 10 calories per serving. 
 Here's a picture of the Vegan Mom's vegan queso, along with another vegan queso I purchased for test-tasting purposes, Food for Lovers vegan queso. Oh, and you can also see the soy curls I also got in my order in the left-hand corner. Not sure what I'll make with these yet.
What goes well with a salad? A deli-meat style sandwich, of course. I took my first foray into vegan deli "meat"  with Tofurky peppered slices. I added a tomato and a little bit of Vegenaise and whole grain dijon mustard. Alright, the sandwich looks a bit plain, but it was amazing. I can't wait to eat this again.
I made up for my culinary laziness this morning with a no-holds barred brunch. I almost always include a tofu scramble (using the recipe from Vegan Brunch), this time with asparagus instead of my usual mushrooms. I also made a batch of Biscuits and Creamy Sage Gravy from Vegan Diner.
Everything turned out great. The biscuits didn't rise as much as I wanted them to, but that's my fault, not the recipe's -- apparently I need to get some new baking powder. They were still exceptionally flaky. The sage gravy was wonderful as well. I love brunch! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen

So I've been sick with the flu for about a week now, way too sick to cook much of anything. Luckily J took over and made a few dishes so we didn't have to survive on veggie burgers and salad all week. Today I had more energy than I've had in a while, so we decided to go, with a friend, to Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen for dinner.

I really appreciated the menu, as all the vegan items were carefully denoted with a 'V' and printed in a different colored font. Great for the lazy vegan -- which admittedly, I sometimes am. Anyway, there were a number of wonderful dishes to choose from. After much discussion, J and I decided to split the Yuca frita con salsitas de Alma for an appetizer. Yuca fries! Sorry, no picture, but they were pleasingly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and came with two semi-spicy sauces. I thought they were better than potato french fries.

Our omnivore friend ordered the empanadas, which were adorably petite and looked scrumptious, but unfortunately filled with cheese. Sigh. So I didn't get to taste an empanada, but was assured that they were quite good.

J was feeling a vegan vibe tonight, so we both ordered the same entree: Arepa de vegetales con platanos maduros. 

Look at all the gorgeous food! Roasted asparagus, beets, and sugared fried plaintain smothered the arepa. Everything tasted so vivid and fresh. 

We were very impressed with Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen. I hope to go back soon, to try one of the other vegan entrees!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cleveland Eats and Cornbread

J and I, plus one adventurous pup, went to Cleveland this weekend. We were only there overnight, just long enough to go to the kitschy and wonderful Christmas Story house/museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Museum. I knew we'd have the opportunity to try out at least one Cleveland vegan/vegetarian restaurant, so I consulted and found out all about Flaming Ice Cube, a cute little vegan restaurant located in downtown Cleveland. 

J and I were both famished when we got to the Flaming Ice Cube, and briefly considered getting everything! Instead we restrained ourselves and ordered two entrees and an appetizer to share. Our choice of appetizer was the summer rolls, which came with a fantastic peanut dipping sauce. We ate the summer rolls before I even thought about taking pictures! 

I remembered the camera for our entrees, however. J ordered the Mediterranean Hummus Wrap, which came with a side order of couscous. I didn't try the wrap, but J assured me it was delicious. I did steal a spoonful of couscous, which was savory goodness. 
Look at that wrap! It is actually half a wrap, which is crazy.

I was tempted by the flatbread pizzas featuring Daiya (yay Daiya!) or the vast selection of veggie burgers. In the end, I chose the Mmmushroom Burger with a side order of pesto pasta.
This was the best veggie burger I have ever had. Seriously. And the pesto salad was pretty great too.

We were too stuffed to order one of the amazing desserts, but I couldn't go completely without. So we got some chocolate chip cookies to go. I waited until we got back to Pittsburgh before I had mine. There is apparently nothing that Flaming Ice Cube doesn't do fantastically well, and the cookies were no exception. Yum!

After such a wonderful lunch on Saturday, I decided to make a veganlicious spread for Sunday dinner. I made the Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki and a pan of Cornbread, both from Happy Herbivore. I also sauteed some kale with garlic and olive oil. 
All in all, this was an excellent food weekend. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Today is one of the very few days of the year where I have to work a different, later shift. I don't look forward to these days, so last night I decided to make a slow cooker oatmeal for a treat in the morning. Carrot Cardamom Oatmeal, to be precise! I've never made oatmeal in my crock pot before, but I loved the idea of an Indian-inspired breakfast.

And believe me, this was so simple to make. I threw all the ingredients in the slow cooker at 10:00, and this morning at 7:30 there was delicious oatmeal! I didn't have pistachios to sprinkle over the top, so I subbed a few tablespoons of crushed roasted almonds. 

Look at the end result!
Oh, I also wanted to give another shout-out to Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Last night I made the Roasted Curried Cauliflower. Now, I don't really care for cauliflower, and neither does J. We buy a head of cauliflower maybe twice a year. But I was making my weekly quota of chana masala, and thought roasted cauliflower with Indian spices might be a nice side dish. 
Can you tell there is a theme to what I've been cooking lately? Yup, lots and lots of Indian and Indian-inspired dishes. 

Anyway, I roasted the cauliflower using all the ingredients except for the fresh parsley -- I only had dried. This was a very easy side dish to make, and we loved it! J and I ate almost the whole thing. We ate it so quickly, in fact, that I didn't have time to snap a picture.

So another big recommendation for Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hello Again

I'm back! I know it's been a very long time since I blogged here last. Fortunately, I have lots of great new discoveries to share today. 

I borrowed a great cookbook from the library this afternoon, Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. I loved Barnouin and Freedman's cheeky first book, Skinny Bitch, but found their Skinny Bitch in the Kitch kind of disappointing. Okay, I admit it -- I didn't give it a chance because there were zero pictures of any of the food. Zilch. I hate cookbooks without pictures!!

Anyway, after flipping through Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook, I was transfixed. Everything sounds so wonderful, and one of every three recipes come with an accompanying picture. Yay! I had a package of pre-cut butternut squash cubes from Trader Joes in the fridge, so it was only logical for me to whip up a pot of Butternut Squash Soup with Poppy Seeds. 
Poppy seeds were the only ingredient I did not have, but I'm not a big fan of them anyway, so assumed I wouldn't miss them. The soup was delicious. 

Next week I'm going to make either the Asian Macaroni and Cheese or the Spicy Vegetable Curry (with okra!!!!) I am so buying this cookbook!

J was jonesing for poblano peppers, so he stuffed two with portabello mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and thyme and then roasted it for twenty five minutes. Yum! Next time we're thinking about adding some daiya or a nice creamy sauce. 

Last weekend J and I went apple-picking with friends, and after making a nice batch of applesauce, I still found myself with yet more apples. So I decided to make these:

Okay, so they're not the prettiest muffins in the world, but they sure were tasty. These are the Apple Crisp Muffins from The Happy Herbivore. They're sweet without being cloying, hearty (thanks to the oats) and best of all, only 124 calories per muffin. I will definitely make more of these in the near future.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tofu Mania

What's better than tofu? Tofu Marsala, of course. Served with a generous portion of Sesame Garlic Wilted Kale. Both recipes come from good ole 500 Vegan Recipes, of which, after more than a year of vegan cooking, I have still barely scraped the surface.
On the junk food front, I've picked up a few goodies over the past couple of  months, including a carton of Amande almond milk yogurt. Well, I guess you could argue that yogurt isn't junk food. Anyway, I tried the cherry flavor, which was delicious. It tastes nothing like traditional milk-based yogurt, which suits me fine, as I never really liked actual yogurt anyway. J had a bite and thought it was more of a dessert than a breakfast-type food, and I have to agree.
Oh, and I made this:
My mother brought me her old bread maker. This loaf is just a non-fussy white bread, but I hope to branch out soon!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Week's Worth of Good Eating

As I wrote in an earlier post, I'm a creature of habit. I tend to find a handful of recipes I like, and then rotate through them on a regular basis. But every time I sit in my living room, I stare at my stack of vegan cookbooks on the book shelf, and feel a little guilty. After all, I enjoy cooking, I really do. There's no reason not to try at least two new recipes every week. So I made a resolution with myself to do just that.

I was on vacation last week, and was able to test out three new recipes, woo hoo!! First up was Spicy Udon Noodles from The Urban Vegan. This was super easy to prepare, and extremely tasty. The udon noodles were tossed in a peanut butter/satay sauce, and edamame, ginger and garlic gave the dish a robust flavor.
Sorry for the blurry picture, sometimes my camera just does not want to cooperate. J had leftovers for lunch, and said that the noodles were just as good cold as they were hot.

I've made quite a few things from 500 Vegan Recipes, but really I'm just barely skimming the surface. There's so much left to explore, like the Veggie Tofu Bake I made this weekend. This recipe is touted as being excellent for tofu virgins. J and I eat tofu every week without fail, so we didn't really need an introduction. Still, this casserole was nice. The crumbled tofu and nutritional yeast mixture did taste remarkably cheesy-ish. And the water chestnuts and carrots gave this otherwise soft veggie casserole a nice crunch.
My only hesitation was with the 1/2 cup of olive oil used to prepare this dish. I love olive oil as much as the next person, but it gave the vegetables a slightly greasy aftertaste. I will definitely cut down on the oil when I make this next time.

I keep forgetting about the wonderful blog, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I've made a couple of excellent dishes from this website in the past, but that was back in the summertime. It was definitely time to try another offering from Susan V. Last night, I made a gigantic pot of Sweet Potato, Okra, and Chickpea Gumbo
I subbed yams for sweet potatoes, but otherwise stuck very closely to the recipe. Wow! I love gumbo so much, and this particular gumbo was a perfect blend of spicy smokiness, yet not too spicy that J couldn't eat it. Susan V, you're a genius! 

I had a few leftover yams, so boiled and mashed them, adding just a tablespoon of Earth Balance and a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Mmm. Delicious.
I picked up the latest copy of Veg News yesterday at the grocery store. They have a fantastic "Vegan Bucket List," 99 things all vegans should do/see/taste/experience before they, you know, kick the bucket. Some are on the pricier side (like going on one of their Veg News vacations), but I am definitely going to try #35, Make the VegNews Mac & Cheese. I'm also not opposed to #25, which involves ordering a Peanut Butter bomb cake from Vegan Treats. You don't have to twist my arm when it comes to peanut butter desserts!

But I wanted to add a few of my own ideas here. It's dawned on me that, despite having branched out tremendously since going vegan, there are still a godly amount of vegetables I've either never tried before, or never tried since growing out of the yuck, vegetables! phase of childhood. So I'm adding these veggies to my bucket list:
* celeriac root
* rutabaga
* parsnips
* broccolini
* brussel sprouts

I've already scouted out a lovely-sounding recipe for parsnip soup, and will report my adventures soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Penne Vodka and Other Goodies

J had a hankering for pasta tonight, so I whipped open Veganomicon and found the recipe for Penne Vodka. It was very simple, the whole process didn't take more than 35 minutes, and it was very good.
Blended almonds gave this pasta just the right amount of creamy consistency. We also added a few tablespoons of capers to spice things up a little, and finely chopped carrot for a bit of sweetness. So good! This is definitely something we'll make again.

I must confess, I get into the habit of making the same tried-and-true dishes. I find something I like, and I tend to make it a lot. Earlier this week, however, I tried a few new recipes. One was the Soba Noodle Soup from The Vegan Table.
I didn't really alter anything with this recipe, other than opting out of slicing the shiitake mushrooms. Creamy cubes of tofu, mushrooms, kale, and soba noodles in a miso-based broth. What's not to like? Next time, I'll cook the kale a little more, however -- I like my kale more wilted than crunchy, especially in a soup.

J bought me a copy of The Indian Vegan Kitchen as a late Christmas present. Everything sounds great, but I was drawn to The Curried Potato Soup. This was an incredibly simple recipe, with garam masala and ginger providing much of the flavor. Instead of tomato sauce, I added some diced tomatoes, and it ended up being quite good. 
And a few junk food recommendations!!! I recently tried an Alternative Baking Company cookie. I've been eyeing these cookies for almost a year now, but was (and frankly, still am) intimidated by the caloric amount listed on the back of the package. I ate one half of this peanut butter for dessert one night, and the rest for the second night. And wow! It was so good. Scarily good.
I was pleased to find that a local grocery store, Right By Nature, is carrying Primal Strips faux jerky. I tried the hot and spicy blend, made out of shiitake mushrooms.
This jerky has an uncannily similar texture to beef jerky. I've tasted a few other brands of vegan jerky  before and have been disappointed by the greasy, chemical-ish concoctions. Primal Strips are just the opposite, bursting with flavor with absolutely no greasy aftertaste. I can't wait to try all the other flavors. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I know it's been a long time since I've last blogged. It doesn't mean that I haven't been having great vegan food adventures -- I've just been (frankly) too lazy to write about them. 

But I made a dish last night that was so amazing I had to share. It was the Seitan Piccata with Olives and Green Beans from the ever-incredible Veganomicon cookbook. 

In the mix: fried breaded seitan, a glorious sauce composed of white wine, shallots, capers, and kalamata olives, on a bed of green beans and mashed potatoes. Call it the ultimate comfort food. I've never had piccata anything before, but this was amazing, and something I'll definitely make again.

In other news, J and I made it to Loving Hut! It is located in a suburb outside of Pittsburgh, in a small strip mall next to the Army Recruitment Center. 
It felt so amazing, to be able to choose anything from the menu. We went a little overboard, starting with Jumbo Drumsticks for appetizers.
These drumsticks were stuffed with three different types of mushrooms. They were a little dry by themselves, but great when dipped into the ginger sauce.

J ordered the BBQ Noodles. You can't actually see the noodles in the picture; they're hidden behind the bed of greens. He said it was good, especially with the sweet sour sauce mixed in.
 I had the Spicy Cha Cha because I couldn't resist having mock shrimp! This really tasted like shrimp, with a great peppery seasoning.
We were too stuffed to have dessert at the restaurant, but I ordered a slice of cheesecake to go. I love cheesecake and haven't had any since becoming a vegan. This tasted like real cheesecake, so delicious! Wow!
Veg News gave the Loving Hut franchise a bad rap in their September/October issue as a cult so I was a bit afraid that the restaurant might be propaganda-heavy, but there was just one demure corner of merchandise, books and DVDs about Supreme Master Ching Hai and her following. All in all, it was a very pleasant restaurant, and J and I look forward to going back.