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.