Friday, January 23, 2009

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Despite my totally uninspiring photo, the Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce from Yellow Rose Recipes is brilliant. I made it three times - one after the other - because I just love it so much. It's good on everything! Pasta, homemade gnocchi, raw veggies, on it's own, just genius. After making it the first time, I added more sundried tomatoes than the recipe called for but that's the only change I made. I also tripled the recipe after the first time because a single recipe is just not enough for a sauce so tasty! My dad even tempted fate by eating some (he is allergic to soy), which really just speaks to the power of this sauce. It is so good, you would rather risk death (or an EpiPen) than live without eating it.

What was that? You just realized that you don't own Yellow Rose Recipes and the shame is overwhelming you? Don't fret! Buy it from Herbivore!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas Eve

I know, I know. Christmas Eve was weeks ago. Whatever! Now is the appropriate time for me to post what I cooked!

Pictured above is my (totally awesome!) vegetable Christmas tree. Orange sweet pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, and pretzels. I was the most proud of this, even though it just involved putting chopped veggies on a tree-shaped plate. It was a big hit though. I was worried that people would be like, why are there raw veggies (and fruit! and pretzels!)? This is a holiday celebration - we don't have time for sensible appetizers! But no one can resist things in tree shapes.I served the veggies with Peanut-Sesame Hummus (from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan), Red Pepper Hummus (from Yellow Rose Recipes), and the Cashew-Cucumber Dip (from Veganomicon - not pictured). The Peanut-Sesame was the most popular, although the Cashew-Cucumber is my all-time favorite dip. I was a bit disappointed in the Red Pepper - I had to add a lot more roasted red peppers than it called for and the addition of curry powder really overwhelmed all the flavors anyway. The texture was great though and I will probably try to make it again, sans curry powder.

I have been looking for an excuse to make the Cheater Baked Beans (Veganomicon) for several months now. These are distinctly different from canned baked beans but still totally delicious. I am now curious as to why canned baked beans are brown, since these were a nice red color. Mystery! I didn't have any light molasses, so I just used regular molasses and added it until it tasted right. These beans also had considerable more texture than their canned brethren. I will definitely be making these again sometime.

For dinner, I also served Carrot Bisque (Vegan with a Vengeance) in adorable little bowls. Additionally, there were mashed (riced!) Yukon Gold potatoes with almond milk & Earth Balance
and roasted applesauce (Vegan with a Vengeance). Everything was a big hit, which means that all of these dishes are very omni-friendly.

My dad and I made gluten-free (and vegan, obviously) versions of the spritz cookies from one of Betty Crocker's cookbooks. I was unimpressed but, after eating one of these, I realized that I didn't like spritz cookies even when I was younger - so pretty but not tasty. My dad loved these those and that's all that matters! Plus, I got to dye things. YAY!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Teese

This is like tomato soup for grown-ups. None of that weak Campbell's soup! This is way more intense but still hits the right spot when you're looking for comfort. This soup is especially good if you live near Chicago, it's the middle of winter, and your furnace stops working. It's even tastier when you find out that you probably won't have heat for another 24 hours. Trust me, I know. This soup staved off frostbite during 2 very sad (and cold) days of my life.

If you make this soup, I would definitely recommend using some fire-roasted tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are something I only recently discovered but I absolutely love them and I am on a one-woman mission to make other people love them too. They sound all special and fancy but I'm able to find them at my local supermarket (admittedly, they also have a large selection of non-gluten flours so this might not be everyone's experience). The recipe also calls for sun-dried tomatoes but specifies that you shouldn't use the ones packing in oil in jars. But all the recipes I found for making your own sun-dried tomatoes either involved putting them outside (I don't think the freezing cold and 3 hours of sunlight would help much) or putting them in the oven for 12 or so hours. So... I just used the jar ones.

Tucked behind the soup is a grilled Cheddar Teese sandwich. I've been pretty happy with the cheddar Teese, although I think it would be more accurate to call it American Teese as it tastes, looks, smells, and feels exactly like those American single slices of cheese that come wrapped in plastic. It also seemed to re-solidify pretty quickly after melting, which I don't remember happening as much with the Mozzarella Teese. Anyway, it makes some seriously delicious grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Leek and Bean Cassoulet

I ended up being pretty disappointed with this Leek and Bean Cassoulet. It had so much going for it! It smelled fantastic, looked pretty, and was filled with tasty veggies. Yet, somehow, it was like having a mouthful of bland. It probably didn't help that I didn't cook the biscuits enough - no one likes biscuits with doughy middles!

It also called for a lot of cornstarch, so the leftovers were a pretty gross-looking and congealed. I know that this problem is easily fixed by stirring some water or vegetable broth slowly into it, but it looked so unappetizing and hadn't tasted that great to begin with so I didn't bother.

This dish seems like it has been very hit-or-miss among other vegan food bloggers, so I guess it's just a matter of taste. If you're looking for wintery comfort food, I would recommend trying Isa's Chickpea Noodle Soup instead.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving was a week ago but after cooking a ridiculous amount of food and then eating mostly leftovers for the following days, I couldn't even think of what I'd made without groaning and having phantom back/foot aches. But I've finally recovered so here goes!

Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of most of the things I made because everything was so hectic. I even had to hold the stuffing for several minutes after it came out of the oven (using oven mitts, of course) because there was just nowhere to put it. This was my biggest culinary undertaking and I emerged victorious!The Home-Style Potato Rolls are delicious and adorable. They also nearly gave me a mental breakdown. The dough was ridiculously sticky, something that wasn't very noticeable until after it had risen the first time. I ended up adding at least 4 cups more flour (almost twice as much as the recipe called for) and reworking the dough made the rolls a little bit tougher than they were probably supposed to be but I don't think anyone noticed. The important thing is that I didn't cry into the dough, no matter how tempted I was. I topped them with poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds and left a few unblemished for my seed-hating brother. The best thing about these is you can pull them apart into three pieces. Neat!

Mini-falafel with tahini dressing! I was really proud when I came up with this as an appetizer. I've made falafel more times than I've made anything else so I am fiercely proud of my work on this front. I can't remember the size exactly, but they probably had about the diameter of a quarter. The tahini dressing also came out great, although I think people were skeptical of it due to it having a heavy garlic/balsamic vinegar taste, which I loved but other people don't love garlic as much as I do (how they can live with themselves, I'll never know).

One of the other appetizers was the Mediterranean-style Cashew-Cucumber Dip from V'con (served with sliced pita bread). I've made this dip for various social occasions and it has always been a big hit. It's a great way to show your family that appetizers don't need to be covered in cheese! The texture for this one wasn't quite right. I suspect that I didn't squeeze enough of the juice out of the grated cucumber (I was rushed! And stressed!) so it was a tiny bit liquidy instead of its proper form - hummus' sexy cousin.

I also made:
- apple pie
- mashed Yukon Golds with Earth Balance and almond milk (I wanted to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes but was shot down. Someday!)
- The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole from FatFree Vegan (I made some slight modifications so it would be gluten-free: arrowroot instead of flour and I skipped the crumb topping in favor of extra fried onions. I think this was the most successful/popular dish on the table.)
- roasted applesauce from Vegan with a Vengeance
- vegan stuffing/dressing

It was an intense several days, to say the least.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maple Walnut Cookies - Gluten-free!

I accidentally started my Thanksgiving cooking early (what, that doesn't happen to you?). I meant to make a half-batch of these as a test run but, oops, made a whole batch. This happens to me every time I mean to make a half-batch of things, I should just give up on that dream. Fortunately, cookies freeze really well.

On a night filled with pies and pumpkin-y grossness, I wanted there to be a dessert my dad could eat. I also plan to force other people to eat them so they can be astonished that, yes, Virginia, gluten-free and vegan cookies are delicious. And if people start talking about what a culinary genius I am then, well, so be it. That's my burden to bear.

These cookies were great! Your kitchen will smell like syrup when they're baking, but the maple flavoring isn't overwhelming at all. The batter smelled and tasted too maple-y, but don't be put off by that, the flavor really becomes much more subtle after baking. The biggest obstacle with gluten-free baking is the texture, which was barely noticeable especially with all the chopped nuts. I think that only people who are familiar with gluten-free baking would be able to tell that these weren't made with wheat flour.

- 1/2 c canola oil
- 1/4 c pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp maple extract
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1/4 c rice or soy milk
- 2 Tbsp tapioca starch [I used this] or arrowroot or corn starch
- 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour [I used a 1/2 c each of quinoa flour, brown rice flour, and oat flour]
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 c chopped walnuts
- 3 dozen walnut halves [I mostly used pecan halves because it is hard to find whole walnut halves]

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease three cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Combine the oil, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla and maple extracts, and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. The oil will separate a little but it's okay. Add the soy milk and tapioca starch and mix until the tapioca is dissolved and the mixture resembles caramel.

Add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.*

Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a walnut [or pecan!] half into the center of each cookie. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

* My batter was really liquidy, which I've read is a fairly common problem. Just add flour (a couple tablespoons at a time) until it is not so runny. I added 1/4 c more tapioca starch and 2 Tbsp brown rice flour and that worked perfectly.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Taco Salad

Oh, duckies, I have been shamefully neglectful of you since VeganMoFo ended. But! Election stuff! Also, general laziness! I am full of other excuses but let's move past this, shall we?

Here we have a delightful taco salad. I loooove taco salad. And while this taco salad was very, very tasty, making it was one disaster after another. First, I had to throw out my sour cream because it was moldy (I just opened it a couple of weeks ago!), then I realized that my avocado had taken a turn for the worse, and when I turned my last tomato over I saw that it was moldy.

Did I get through this tragedy? Uh, of course I did. Obviously. That's why I'm here. Anyway! I think everyone should own Yellow Rose Recipes because almost everything in there is simple and tasty. This salad was no exception. I especially liked that there was a recipe for taco seasoning, versus just buying a little seasoning packet. My modifications: when eating a single serving (so, in a separate bowl), I added salsa and crumbled up corn chips. Mmm!