Posts Tagged cake

Thanksgiving 2012 – Dessert

I should probably conclude my Thanksgiving posts before, oh, next Thanksgiving.  So, here’s dessert!

One of our guests was bringing pies from a local bakery, so I didn’t need to make much.  We thought that something small and chocolatey would be a nice foil to the typical fall desserts, so I made truffles.

We wanted to have multiple flavors (to be the most fancy), so I made a giant list of all the possible flavor combinations I could think of, probably about thirty or forty.  We settled on hazelnut espresso, amaretto, and black forest – a coffee flavor, liquor flavor, and fruit flavor.  I used a different color candy cup to tell them apart.

I used this recipe as a base, and they were incredibly easy, rich, and delicious.  For the hazelnut espresso flavor I added instant espresso powder and rolled them in toasted chopped hazelnuts.  For the amaretto truffles I subbed the liquor for some of the liquid, and rolled them in toasted almonds.  The black forest truffles had chopped dried cherries and butter extract, and were rolled in cacao powder.  I was worried that the cherries would be chewy, but after they sat overnight they had a buttery texture and melted along with the chocolate.

I eyeballed everything, and luckily they all turned out wonderfully!  They kept well for days in the fridge too.  After dinner we discussed which flavor was everyone’s favorite, and it was pretty evenly divided across the board.

I wanted something more substantial for my main dessert, so I also made Oh She Glow’s Pumpkin Gingerbread with Spiced Buttercream, which I had been meaning to try since she posted it about two years prior.

Nobody else tried any since there were like four pies and a million truffles, which was fine.  More for me!

The cake was deliciously spiced, with a dense but moist crumb.  The frosting had a LOT of pumpkin pie spice, but it wasn’t overly spicy.  Since the cake had very intense ginger flavor, the buttercream stood up perfectly.  Highly recommended!

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Home & Away for the Holidays

I showed you parts of my Christmas dinners last time, so I figured I’d write about the rest of my holiday eats.

We were eating fairly early in the afternoon on Christmas Day, so I made one light appetizer, mini quiches.

I used FatFree Vegan’s Mini Crustless Tofu Quiche recipe for the base, with red bell pepper and fresh basil for Christmas colors, and baked them in phyllo cups.  I also added a bit of kala namak to make the flavor more eggy.

Dave made steak for our guests, and I handled the side dishes.

Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Horseradish Dressing, from the Candle 79 Cookbook.

For the obligatory potato dish I sauteed a LOT of garlic in a good bit of Earth Balance, then tossed in halved cooked potatoes and sprinkled with fresh parsley.  These were some of the best potatoes I think I’ve ever made!

My plate, with Gardein Beefless Tips and corn.  I though the flavor of the beefless tips was good, but that the texture was a little soft inside to eat them on their own like this.

I had Candy Cane Jo Jo’s on the mind (and a box in the pantry), so for dessert I made a chocolate mint pie.  The crust is your typical cookie crust, made with the Jo Jo outsides.  The filling  used the recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie from Vegan Pie In The Sky, with chopped up bits of cookies mixed in.  For the topping, I used a box of Healthy Whip and mixed in some pieces of the cookie filling which were left over from making the crust.

The pie set up quite nicely, and was both very chocolatey and minty.

A few days after Christmas, I flew to Florida to hang out with my family in Anna Maria Island.  Of course, I did the requisite research before going by googling “Anna Maria Island vegan”, but…there really wasn’t much info available.  I wasn’t too worried through, because the  house we were staying in had a kitchen and there was a Publix on the island, so I knew I’d at least survive.

Upon picking me up from the airport though, my dad told me that he had seen a sign outside of a restaurant that actually said vegan on it.  And it was a barbecue restaurant!

Mr. Bones is a really interesting little restaurant; they had a coffin full of beer, odd masks all over the walls, Asian specialties in addition to their barbecue menu, and a whole separate page of vegan food!

I started with the appetizer sized peanut noodles, which surprised me by being served cold.  The flavor of the sauce was really nice and a little spicy.

While the veggie burger sounded really good, I couldn’t pass up the General Moe’s Watercress, sauteed with garlic and ginger and served over curried rice.  The dish was a little oily for my tastes, but I was really happy to be able to eat a giant plate of vegetables.

Mr. Bones even had a vegan cobbler on the dessert menu, but I was far too full to give it a try.

The next morning, I ate overnight oats that my mom had made.  Mom’s the best, she brought chia seeds on vacation!

Lunch was a nice wrap with hummus, peppered Tofurky, cucumber and greens.  I ate a few of the Terra Chips on the side before I read the label and realized they weren’t vegan…oops…I guess I wrongly assumed all Terra Chips were vegan.

That afternoon I walked down the dock to the river and hung out with some fish friends, and that evening, as a present, I cooked a four course dinner for my family.

First, I spent a few hours making a giant mess of the kitchen.

I went with kind of a Moroccan-spiced theme for the meal.  The appetizer was Tangy Morrocan Carrots, pita chips and hummus.  The little dish in the upper left was for my sis-in-law, who I found out doesn’t like cilantro.  The carrots are steamed then left to marinate in the fridge, and I thought they were a nice, light way to start the meal.

Next up was the Wild Rice Salad with Oranges & Roasted Beets from Appetite for Reduction.  To go with the spice story (should I trademark that phrase?), I added ground cumin and coriander to the dressing, which was a nice touch.  I really liked the texture contrast between the wild rice, crisp lettuce and buttery beets.

For the entree, I chose Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney from the Candle 79 Cookbook, which I talked about in this post.

Lastly, dessert was spiced chocolate fondue with bananas, strawberries, and pretzel rods.  I used this Rachel Ray recipe as the base, basically heating soy creamer and adding chocolate chips until it was the right consistency.  I also added some ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice it up.  This was the perfect dessert to have right at the end of a meal, because it only took a few minutes to prepare.  Through rigorous trial and error, my brother and I figured out that the best bite was strawberry and banana together.

The next day was my sister-in-law’s birthday, so we headed to Sarasota to hang out at the Mote Aquarium.  The first order of business was lunch at The Old Salty Dog, which has the cutest mascot ever.

I was surprised to find a salad on the menu that was vegan as is, no modification needed!

The Chickpea & Edamame Salad came with corn, dried cranberries, cucumber, tomatoes and Greek dressing, and it was mighty tasty.  It was going to be a long afternoon, so I got some fries too to fuel up.

At the aquarium, I got to see this ugly mug.

…and learned that manatees have gas.

Dinner that night was the ol’ side salad and baked potato at a local bar and grill, but afterward we got to the good stuff.

A Candy Cane Jo Jo cake for sis-in-law’s birthday.  I added mint extract to a basic chocolate cake recipe, and mixed cookie crumbles into a can of vegan Duncan Hines frosting.

And just like that, my trip to Anna Maria Island was sadly over.

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Happy New Year, Let Me Show You My Thanksgiving Dinner!

So, I didn’t intend to take such a long break after VeganMoFo ended!  I fell out of the blogging habit pretty hard there, so now I’ll have to get back into it to get caught up.  Let’s start with the most delicious of meals, Thanksgiving!

We had a big group this year, twelve guests in total, so we cleared all the furniture out of the living room and moved in some tables.

Dave decided we needed a fancy menu like a fancy restaurant…

We prepared a huge meal, so I kept the appetizers light – grapes, veggies, crackers and cashew cheese spread.

The whole spread…The green bean casserole is my recipe, with canned fried onions on top.  Dave was in charge of the sourdough stuffing, which included homemade mushroom broth and lots of fresh herbs.  For the mashed potatoes, I simmered smashed garlic cloves in the almond milk while the potatoes cooked, to have the garlic flavor without the garlic pieces.  I also mixed in truffle salt and white pepper.  They were quite the tasty potatoes.  You can’t see the braised greens here, but they were slow cooked with onion, garlic, fresh tomato and homemade vegetable broth.

I also made Oh She Glows Fluffy Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls, except I let them go too long on the second rise and they turned into cut-apart diner rolls.  Even so, they were light and tasty.  As a special treat, I also made “honey butter” using Earth Balance and Just Like Honey Rice Nectar.  I used to love biscuits with butter and honey, and not having had honey in over six years, I really liked the Just Like Honey.  It has that sweet tang that I remember honey having.

I didn’t want to have to prepare an entree for myself, so I bought a Field Roast Celebration Roast and just zapped it in the microwave.  It turned out a little dry, so the canned cranberry sauce was a nice accompaniment.  I was going to make some gravy but ran out of time; I missed it a little but certainly had plenty to eat.

Dessert was a whole ‘nother extravaganza.  The three pies were store bought because, you know, six desserts are better than three!

By request, I made pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting, which are always a hit.

This is The PPK’s Triple Apple Cider Bundt Cake Stuffed with Apples, which was really tasty!  My glaze, sadly, was too thin, but it was yummy nonetheless.

Lastly, Gingerbread Biscotti from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I had never made biscotti before, and it’s quite easy.  You just make regular cookies in log form, bake, cool, slice, and bake again.  Takes a little longer, but the crispy-chewy bite is definitely worth it.  These guys were dark and spicy and gingery, and definitely more-ish even at the end of a big feast.

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Award Winning Grilling

In mid-July, our friends Matt and Amber hosted the third annual grill-off. They added a veggie category this year, which was basically an open category for anything vegetarian. I rejoined with Dave and our friend Tom to form our team Grilly D. Williams and compete for the glory. The boys took care of the meat categories, and I made four entries – two veggies, a sandwich and a dessert for the open category.

First, I hung out with these guys.

And fueled myself up with veggies and Sanctuary dressing while waiting for my categories to come up.

First entry:

Grilled Asparagus Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

1 bunch asparagus
large handful fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18-20 button or cremini mushrooms

1. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until slightly charred and crisp-tender. Allow to cool then chop into pieces, reserving the tips for garnish.
2. Place the asparagus pieces, basil, garlic, pine nuts, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. It is okay if some texture remains in the pesto.
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wrap them in foil in a single layer. Grill over medium-high heat until tender.
4. Allow the mushrooms to cool enough to handle, then stuff with the pesto. You can spoon the pesto in the mushrooms, pipe it with a piping bag, or cut the corner off a ziploc bag and use that to pipe. Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Second entry:

Grilled Italian Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 Tbs EACH fresh minced thyme, oregano, sage and parsley
2 tsp capers
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
salt
freshly ground black pepper
tofu ricotta, for example the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance

1. Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.
2. Place the sliced leek, garlic, capers, 3/4 of the herb mixture, the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small grill-safe container such as an aluminum pan. Grill over medium high heat, off the heat, until leeks are softened, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the zucchini flat side down until charred and slightly tender, turning the zucchini to create grill marks. Take the leek mixture and zucchinis off the grill and allow to cool.
4. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, reserving the flesh and leaving at least an eighth-inch shell.
5. Chop about two thirds of the zucchini flesh into small pieces and reserve the rest for another use. Mix the chopped zucchini with the leek mixture, diced tomato and breadcrumbs. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Mix the remaining herbs with the tofu ricotta.
7. Spoon the leek mixture into the zucchini shells, packing it down slightly. Top each zucchini with some tofu ricotta.
8. Carefully place the zucchinis back on the grill to warm through and cook the bottoms slightly. Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Third entry:

Hoisin Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, skin on, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
salt
1/2 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
loaf French bread or four bread rolls
vegan mayonnaise
lettuce
thinly sliced cucumber
cilantro sprigs

1. Place a colander over a bowl. Add the eggplant slices, salting each layer well. Allow to drain for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
2. Lightly oil the eggplant slices with olive or canola oil, and grill over medium high heat until softened and slightly charred.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, tamari and peanut oil in a medium bowl.
4. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the sauce and shake off the excess. Place the eggplant back on the grill for a few more minutes.
5. If there is any remaining sauce, add a little to the eggplant and toss to coat.
6. To assemble, spread some mayonnaise on each side of the bread. Place the eggplant on the rolls then top with cucumber, lettuce, and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 4

Fourth entry:

Grilled pound cake with pineapple, rum sauce and coconut whipped cream. This is more of a collection of deliciousness than a recipe. I started with the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon, brushing both sides with melted Earth Balance and grilling. The cake was topped with grilled pineapple and rum sauce veganized from this recipe. For the coconut whipped cream, I refrigerated a can of coconut milk and scooped the solid cream from the top, then mixed it with a bit of vanilla extract, powdered sugar and xantham gum. The cream was very thick, which worked well to keep it from melting too much when it was placed on the hot cake and pineapple.
I felt really good about the dishes I submitted, but the competition is stiff among our friends! Plus, the judges aren’t necessarily used to eating vegetarian food, so I never know what to expect. But, I won a few prizes! My eggplant bahn mi placed third in the burgers and sandwiches category, and my dessert placed second in the open category. Dave placed with a number of his entries, and Grilly D. Williams won as the best team overall. Plus, my dessert was picked as a judges favorite!

What’s funny is that I spent the most amount of time testing and prepping for my veggie entries, and they didn’t even place. My sandwich and dessert entry were more thrown together, and they both placed. Just goes to show that you should always trust your cooking instincts!

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Summer CSA’s

I stopped taking pictures of my CSA deliveries for a while there.  I like winter squash, greens and citrus plenty, but after a while they’re not that exciting.  When summer produce starting arriving my interest was renewed!  Before I get to that, here are a few dishes that used up the last of my winter and spring produce.

Fajita-style poblanos, fennel and mushrooms over polenta cakes with lettuce, tangerine salsa, beans and a bit of Daiya.

I had some sweet potatoes sitting around and decided to try to make a sweet potato based bbq sauce.  It turned out a little grainy but tasted good enough on tempeh.  In the back is a brussels sprout and corn hash.

To use up some root veggies, I made this Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings from Eating Well.

I used Tofurkey Italian Sausage and subbed egg substitute in the dumplings.  This was a very hearty and tasty dish.  You cook the dumplings right on top of the stew!  Some of my root veggies were beets, which turned the whole thing red and a little sweet.  Next time I would probably stick with neutral colored roots.

Black bean and sweet potato hash with cumin, coriander and orange; steamed broccoli on the side.

6-9-11 CSA - corn, lettuce, peppermint, carots and radishes

cherries, cantaloupe, tomatoes

This orzo salad was for Vegan Happy Hour.  I caramelized shallots then reduced some balsamic vinegar in the same pan, and blended the mixture with mayo and seasonings.  The orzo and dressing was tossed with diced tomato, raw corn and fresh basil.

This isn’t CSA related, but these blackberries came from my backyard!  We had some friends over on a Saturday and I had a bowl of freshly picked berries, so I made the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Joy of Vegan Baking into a cake, subbing berries for the chocolate.  I added some cinnamon, which was a great compliment to the banana and berries.  This was a perfect snack cake – moist but not dense, sweet but not too sweet.

6-16-11 CSA - bok choy, avocado, lettuce, cilantro

melon, strawberries, carrots, gypsy peppers, tomatoes

Peppermint tea!  I’m not a huge fan of mint in food, so I boiled a pot of water then seeped a whole bunch of mint.  Strained, chilled and served cold with stevia and lemon, it was a great treat.

After my last CSA delivery included basil, I was wondering what I could use to make an interesting pesto other than nuts.  Lucky for me, that very same day Gena of Choosing Raw posted a recipe for hemp pesto.  Perfect!  I dont’ love hemp seeds as is, so I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate them into my diet.  I used only one tablespoon of oil, and mixed the pesto with some shirataki noodles.  In the back are some green beans cooked with coconut oil, onion, lemon and fresh dill.  I really liked the pesto, and had the leftovers on toast with arugula and sliced tomato.

Lastly, one of my favorite ways to use up random veggies, the hot dog salad.  This salad included lettuce, tomato, gypsy peppers, radishes, carrot, cilantro, sliced veggie dogs and Cesar Chavez Dressing from Appetite for Reduction.  What is most important about this picture is that I finally figured out how to take a good picture of a giant salad!  Normally I just pile stuff in the salad bowl while I chop it up.  For this picture, I kept a bit of each topping off to the side then sprinkled them on top at the end so that you can see all the pretty colors!  Obvious to some, maybe, but I was pretty proud of this accomplishment.

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Pantry Cleanup 2K10

So, I’m a little late on the Happy New Year post, but regardless – here is how I spent my New Year’s Day!

The obligatory black eyed peas, in soup form.

I read an article saying that round foods are also lucky, so I made a round loaf of spelt cornbread…then I cut it into wedges, which may have negated its round power.

Also, a salad to be extra healthy.

I’m not much for resolutions, but I do believe in goals and action.  One of my goals for my time off during the winter break was to clean out and organize my pantries.  I didn’t take any before pictures because it looked like your basic hodge podge of pantry items.  I pretty much knew what I had and generally where it was, but I would have to spend a few minutes searching for things sometimes and I had a lot of bulk items still in the plastic bags, and it just wasn’t cutting it.

Top of the pantry, after, from top to bottom and left to right:  cookie cutters, hand mixer, rice cooker, extra plastic bags; excess bulk items, cans and jars, pasta:  flours, sugars and other baking items in jars in alphabetical order; snacks and sweets, dried fruit, breakfast items.

Bottom of the pantry:  first shelf is Dave’s stuff (don’t look!).  Dave complains because he doesn’t have more space, but really, this is the volume extent of what he keeps in the house.  Grains then beans, all in alpha order, and a few random items; dried mushrooms and chiles, tea, and space to grow; food processor, seaweeds, bread machine, and extra flours and other things I couldn’t categorize with anything else.  Hooray for an organized pantry, I know exactly where everything is and how much I have!

Lastly, on my last day visiting my family in Florida I made a birthday cake for my future sister-in-law, Kiersten.  I asked what her favorite flavor cake is and she said coconut, but both my brother and I don’t like coconut, so we went with her second favorite – chocolate and cherries.

Blowing out the candles.

Inside shot.

Here’s a thrown together recipe.

Erin’s Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Cake

Chocolate Cake (Tara’s Chocolate Cake from La Dolce Vegan)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside. (This cake tends to stick if you don’t oil and flour the pans well.) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl stir together the oil, vinegar, vanilla (and almond extract if using) and cold water. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just mixed. Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting. Makes 2 cakes.

Cherry Filling
1 bag frozen cherries, defrosted
pinch of sugar
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
splash of balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, stirring occasionally.

Glossy Chocolate Frosting (adapted from and old version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook)
3 Tbs vegetable shortening or Earth Balance
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 3/4 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract)

Heat shortening or Earth Balance in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Stir in remaining ingredients; beat until smooth. Place pan of frosting in a bowl of ice water; continue beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Don’t make the frosting until the cake is cool enough to be frosted, as the frosting will thicken while it sits.

To assemble cake:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate upside down, so the flat side is up. Spread the cherry filling on top. Place the other cake on top, right side up. Frost the top and sides. Press toasted slivered almonds around the side of the cake and use to decorate the top. Enjoy!

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Homework #3

My third homework assignment for Bauman College was to come up with two recipes for breakfast and three recipes for dinner, including one with seaweed.

For some reason, I made one of the breakfast recipe incredibly complicated, with multiple components.  Luckily, most of them can be made the night before and you can throw it together for an easy breakfast in the morning.  This breakfast kept me full twice as long as my normal breakfasts.  If nothing else, try the avocado cream the next time you make Mexican – it’s ridiculously good!

Breakfast Fajita Bowls with Spanish Millet, Mango-Radish Salsa & Avocado Cream

1 cup pinto beans, soaked overnight
Spanish Millet
1 cup millet, soaked overnight
8 oz can tomato sauce plus water to equal two cups
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Mango-Radish Salsa
1 bunch radishes (8-9 radishes), finely diced
1/2 large mango, peeled and finely diced
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Avocado Cream
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup water
1 medium avocado
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Fajita Vegetables
1 Tbs high heat sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper (green or red), sliced
1 medium zucchini. cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 paprika paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Drain pinto beans and place in a medium pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, checking for doneness after 1 hour.  Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, drain the millet and place in a medium pot.  Pour tomato sauce into a 1-cup measure and add water to equal 1 cup.  Pour into pot with millet, then add another cup of water.  Add cumin, onion powder and garlic powder and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. In a small bowl, combine the radishes, mango, lime juice, chili powder, 1/4 tsp salt and chopped cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Drain the cashews and place in a blender.  Add 1/2 cup water and blend until mostly smooth.  Add the avocado flesh, lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt and blend until completely smooth.  Thin with extra water if desired.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. When all other components are ready, heat the sunflower oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper, zucchini, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for 4 minutes.  Add the spices and continue to cook for 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add the pinto beans and black pepper and cook just to heat through.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
6. To serve. place some of the millet in a bowl and add some of the vegetable/bean mixture.  Top with salsa and avocado cream and garnish with extra cilantro.  Serve with hot sauce if desired.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 767.94
Calories From Fat (35%) 270.96
% Daily Value
Total Fat 32.12g 49%
Saturated Fat 5.17g 26%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 865.43mg 36%
Potassium 1830.52mg 52%
Total Carbohydrates 99.92g 33%
Fiber 19.93g 80%
Sugar 14.08g
Protein 27.11g 54%

To go with my fajita bowls: spiced pumpkin seed milk.

Pumpkin Seed Milk

2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
3 cups water
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch sea salt

1. Drain the pumpkin seeds and place in a blender.  Add 2 cups of the water and blend until very smooth.
2. Add the third cup of water and the remaining ingredients and blend until everything is well incorporated.  Pour the mixture into a nut milk bag over a pitcher and squeeze all of the liquid out.  Discard the solids or reserve for another use.
3. Refrigerate the milk until ready to drink.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 148.66
Calories From Fat (35%) 52.29
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.24g 10%
Saturated Fat 1.19g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 260.04mg 11%
Potassium 300.83mg 9%
Total Carbohydrates 18.4g 6%
Fiber 0.19g <1%
Sugar 0.84g
Protein 5.95g 12%

The rest of my recipes turned out just okay, so I’m not sharing.  I’ll show you what they looked like though…

This was supposed to be napa cabbage rolls with dipping sauce, but I didn’t like how the rolls tasted, so it turned in to…

Butternut Squash Skillet with Rice, Beans & Almond-Miso Sauce.  Unfortunately,decent but not really worth repeating.

This is Gomasio Green Beans, my side dish with seaweed.  It’s good, but you don’t really need a recipe – buy or make some gomasio and toss it on cooked green beans.  Yum!

My third recipe is still a work in progress – a vegan, soy- and gluten-free cheesecake.  It’s been a really long time since I had real cheesecake, so I asked my coworkers to help evaluate.  The flavor was good, but the texture was too grainy, so I tried again.  The first one had a really nice persimmon sauce, and…

The second one got a simple strawberry sauce.  This one had a better texture but could still use some work.  If I get it perfect I will surely share it with everyone!

Now I will regale you with pictures a classmate took during the third section of classes.

For the Grains, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds class I worked on this Pecan Loaf with Creole Glaze, which we paired with mashed cauliflower.  Tasted better than it looked!

We also enjoyed Hearty Greens in Cashew Curry Sauce.

On Sea Vegetables day we started with Sea Vegetable Caviar, which was actually very good, although I couldn’t compare it with “real” caviar.  Check out the adorable lemon flower.

Ruby Slaw with Sea Palm, a lot better than it sounds :)

Sesame Yams with Arame

Italian Bean Soup with Wild Nori

And for dessert, Apple-Pomegranate Kanten with Cashew Cream.

We didn’t get many pictures from the Alternative Ingredients class for some reason, but these are the gluten- and sugar-free Banana-Nut Blueberry Muffins I worked on.

This is a very pretty deconstructed Vegan Caesar Salad.

Our Breakfast class was heavy on eggs, but I got to try this Homemade Granola with Fresh Almond Milk.

And Spiced Amaranth Porridge with Coconut Blueberry Topping.  Amaranth has become one of my new favorite things since then.

Vegetable Proteins class was awesome!  It was one of only a few classes where I could taste everything since everything was vegan.  This Asian Salad with Ginger Marinated Tofu and Almond-Sesame Dressing was topped by some of the tastiest baked tofu I’ve ever had.

A classmate garnished this African-Style Quinoa Stew with pretty leaves made from leftover leeks.

Cranberry Braised Tempeh

High-Protein Lentil and Millet Burgers with Cheesy Cashew Sauce

I was a little more at a loss for dinner after the Fish and Chicken classes.  While my classmates practiced their filleting skills I made Lemon-Scented Quinoa with Oyster Mushrooms and Snowpeas.

To help feed the other vegetarians (including our kitchen manager), I made an Asian-inspired tempeh salad using what I could find in the fridge.  It was really tasty for something thrown together at the last minute.

During Chicken class, I got to improv.  I made a salad which was good but nothing crazy impressive.  I put most of my effort into this dish, Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds with Chard, Lentil Puree and Frizzled Leeks.  That’s what I’m calling it at least.  The lentil puree was silky smooth (thank you Vita-Mix), flavored with worcestershire and champagne vinegar among other things.  The presentation was a little sloppy because I was rushing to finish on time, but the flavors really came through.

And finally, desserts.  I didn’t work on as many desserts as everyone else because many of them included eggs, but I did work on this Pumpkin Tart with Coconut Cream.

And this is Raw Fall  Fruit Cobbler with Cranberry Coulis.  One of the girls that was in my group that day is pretty wild with presentation (in a good way), so we let her do her thing and just provided persimmon stars.

I hope everyone had Happy Holidays and a great New Year’s Eve.  I’m a lucky duck – I get about two weeks off of both work and school, so I’m home now relaxing but starting to take care of business again.  I’m working on some projects for school, organizing the pantry (pictures to come if it goes well), and continuing to relax as much as possible (meaning not thinking about the mess of work that awaits me when I return to the office).

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Potlucks & Parties

This is gonna be another long one, so I’ll keep the text concise!  I present to you a collection of all food-centric events I have attended in the last few months.

In early September we celebrated Dave’s birthday.  We invited a bunch of people over and made a bunch of food.

The usual pretty veggie tray.

Tasty guac.

I usually like to go a little crazy with birthday cakes, but Dave requested vanilla with vanilla, so that is what he got.  Not my best decorating effort, but it tasted really good!

The next day I headed out to Dolores Park in San Francisco to meet with some PPKers for a Labor Day potluck picnic.  I had spent most of my time getting ready for the party, so my picnic donation was non-labor intensive – chili cheese dog casserole.  It was literally layers of hot dog bun, sliced veggie dogs, veggie chili and cheesy sauce baked in the oven, and it was actually quite good!  I didn’t get any individual food pictures cause it was kind of awkward since everything was on the ground.

First plate, clockwise from noon:  tofu noodle salad, bread with spinach dip, purslane potato salad, grilled tofu with pesto, chili cheese dog casserole, bbq black eyed peas, empanada, tempeh salad sandwich and corndog nugget with sweet and spicy mustard.

Dessert plate:  on bottom, orzo salad and chicken fried tempeh that weren’t there my first time through.  Cinnamon bun, apple pie, chocolate thumbprint cookie, banana bread, baklava, pear crisp and an oatmeal cookie.

It was a beautiful day with great food and great company.  Dolores Park is a very interesting place, full of interesting people.  We definitely saw one person get arrested!

We went to the Niners season opener, which meant tailgating.  Dave was making carne asada tacos, so I made a roasted corn coleslaw with chili lime dressing to go along.  The frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe’s was really good in it.

I also made marinated portobello tacos with grilled onions and peppers, hot sauce and cilantro.  This was a great tailgating meal.

I felt like doing a thematic dessert, and the best I could come up with was “Gold Rush Blondies”.  I forget which recipe I used now, but these tasty blondies had both chocolate and butterscotch chips.

The next weekend we were invited to a potluck birthday party for Dave’s uncle’s partner.  I wanted to take enough so that I would have a full meal if there wasn’t anything else I could eat.  I made Hannah’s Sesame Noodles, adding edamame.

I also made Fat Free Vegan’s Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches, but now I forget which veggies I used.  Some people said they couldn’t tell that it wasn’t “real” quiche.

The hosts have working on their house for years, and they have really great style and throw fun parties.  I joke with them that every time I go over there they’ve rearranged their furniture or bought something new.  Here we are hanging out in “the lounge”, which used to be a second bedroom that they’ve turned into a 70′s style hangout.  You can’t really tell from this picture, but this is a really cool room.

That’s me and Dave in the back and our friends Tom and Hope in the front.  They had some mighty powerful mai tais!

Last weekend I went down to Santa Cruz for a harvest-themed potluck at Amey’s house, again with the PPK crew.  The food was phenomenal, and I took lots of pictures!

Pretty salad

Pumpkin ziti

Stuffing

Persimmon spice pretzels

Potato coleslaw with cumin seeds

Buttercup gnocchi with mushrooms and butternut squash

Cranberry braised tempeh, and my terrible handwriting (recipe below)

First plate

Dessert!  Harvest pie with mooses

Amey’s beautiful caramels

Chocolate chip peanut butter banana bread

Puppy chow

Apple cake

Dessert plate, also featuring “Emporer’s Pie”, this amazing pie with vanilla-scented rum custard and satsuma curd.

Cranberry Braised Tempeh

The tempeh turns an interesting mauve color after marinating, but it is very moist and flavorful.  I adapted the recipe from the Bauman College Cookbook that we use at school, where it was adapted from the Delicious Living website.

16 oz tempeh
1 1/2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups apple juice
2 shallots, chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs fresh ginger, grated, or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper

1. Cut each block of tempeh in half horizontally, creating two thinner rectangles of equal size.  Cut each rectangle into quarters, and each quarter into two triangles.  Place the tempeh in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, place the cranberries in a small pan and add apple juice, shallots, orange zest and juice, sea salt and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes or until cranberries are soft.  Remove cinnamon stick.  Carefully pour the cranberry mixture into a blender and add the remaining ingredients (maple syrup through cayenne).  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. Place tempeh in a baking dish and pour cranberry sauce over the tempeh.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the tempeh, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
5. Using tongs, transfer the tempeh to a serving platter.  Carefully pour the cranberry sauce into a saucepan.  If you wish, you can pour it through a strainer.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced to a saucy consistency, about 30 minutes.  Pour the cranberry sauce over the tempeh and serve.

Servings: 6

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/6 of a recipe (11.6 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 317.7
Calories From Fat (23%) 71.63
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.57g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.76g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 440.3mg 18%
Potassium 910.97mg 26%
Total Carbohydrates 48.3g 16%
Fiber 2.72g 11%
Sugar 13.18g
Protein 18.31g 37%

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Vegan Weekends (or, The Post of Many Pictures)

Against my predictions, June was just as crazy for me as May, if not a bit crazier.  Almost every day of every weekend was booked, and then some.  So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last five weekends…

The first weekend of June we had some friends join in on our tailgating for an A’s game and bf and I kind of went all out.  BF has been interested lately in making our own buns for hamburgers, which translates into ME making our own buns for hamburgers.  I had seen some loaves of Easy French Bread from La Dolce Vegan floating around the blog world, so I made some buns using that recipe.

I forgot to add the sesame seeds until after the second rise, and in adding them and trying to make sure they didn’t fall off I basically pressed all the rise out of the buns, so they were a little flatter then I wanted.  They tasted good though, and were definitely sturdy enough to stand up to burgers.

I don’t know what got in to me, but I had a mad desire to make Ramen Slaw, which is a dish commonly found at southern pot lucks and the like.  I found and followed a recipe online, but for the life of me I can’t find it again.  I’ll post up the link when I get home.

Ramen slaw, up close and personal.

Post-almond topping.

Here’s my plate:  veggie burger on homemade bun, grilled corn that I accidentally set on fire (like for real, flaming husks and all) and ramen slaw.  I went back for seconds on the slaw, so good.

It was bf’s cousin’s birthday, so I made dessert too.  I had a hard time deciding but in the end wound up trying the Black Bottom Blondies from My Sweet Vegan.

The look innocent enough from the top…

Bonus chocolate layer!  These were tasty enough, but honestly I didn’t like the texture.  It was kind of gummy and dense.  I’m thinking I may have overbeaten the batter, but the instructions say to beat it!

The next Saturday I was invited to a picnic at Tilden Park to celebrate the marriage of my friends Becca and Steve.  They got married in New York, so this was a nice was for us to get together.  I was completely blanking on a good picnic food to bring, so I asked Becca and she suggested the ranch dressing that she had at my house once.  Easy enough!

The food was good and simple, perfect for a picnic.  First plate:  veggie burger, chips & hummus, veggies & ranch.

Second plate:  fruit salad, pasta salad, tofu and tomatoes and more cucumbers.

Third plate, just because the roasted red peppers and grilled zucchini were done.

Lucky for all of us, Melisser of Sugar Beet Sweets made cupcakes!

Gluten free strawberry shortcake and peanut butter cup.

La la lemon and chocoate chocoalte.  I had a lemon and a pb cup.  Oink oink!  You can’t only have one of Melisser’s cupcakes.

Tilden Park is kind of amazing in an it’s-huge-and-you-will-get-lost kind of way.  There is a great old style carousel, and after lunch a group of us decided to act like children and go on it.  There are all sorts of beautiful, detailed animals.

Deer, zebra and kitty.

Lion, rooster, frog and horse.  There was also a dog and a panda and lord knows what else.  I chose the frog.  Becca didn’t want to ride because of motion sickness, so she tried to snap pictures of us.

My head is on the left above the rooster head.  Good times!

The next day I drove down to Santa Cruz to meet the NorCal PPK crew at Amey’s house for a potluck.  This was a vegan potluck of a magnitude never achieved before, and quite possibly never matched again.  Here’s the table when I got there, and food seemed to flow in continuously afterwards too.

Overflow area:

My contributions were a layered salad bar-style salad with iceberg, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, carrots, peas, red onions, seitan pepperoni, bacos, sunflower seeds, croutons and choice of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.

And Fatfree Vegan’s Southern-Style Banana Pudding.  This was a big hit – really delicious and very easy to make.  I used EcoPlanet vanilla cookies because they were all I could find, and it worked well.

Obviously, I had to try a little of everything.  Plate 1:  empanada, mini bagel with herb spread, pirogi with caramelized onions, crackers with walnut miso dip, bread with yellow pepper dip, a spring roll with garlic scapes and mandarins and other crazy stuff, and grilled tofu on baguette with some sort of delicious spread.

Plate 2: pasta salad, salad with ranch, chips and guacamole,

I was stuffed at this point and put off dessert as long as I could stand, but it all looked so good!  Some more non-dessert arrived in the meantime, so that’s why there’s green on my mostly-dessert plate:  brussels sprouts with pistachios, braised peach and fig salad, swedish cinnamon roll, raspberries, key lime pie with white chocolate mousse, rice krispy treat, apple coffee cake and banana pudding.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Melisser made a ridiculous dessert.  If I remember correctly it was pie crust, cookie dough, cake AND meringue.  Here she is torching the meringue.

Inside shot.

Group shot!

There were SEVEN doggies at the potluck (three of which were Amey’s), and surprisingly enough I liked them all!  All the doggie owners tried to wrangle them in for a picture.

Here’s the ever-popular Strummer, sunning herself on Megan’s lap.

Our gracious host Amey with Snoopy the cutie-pie.

And my favorite pittbull, Fiona.

After pigging out we all sat around and chatted for a while, then Megan, Melisser, her husband Ryan and I went to downtown Santa Cruz to walk around and check out some shops, so at least I worked off a FEW calories.  Check out Amey’s blog post here, she has more detailed pictures of most of the food.

The next weekend we went to Vegas!  BF’s sister is graduating from her master’s program and wanted to get together to celebrate so a group of 13 of us went, mostly bf’s family and his sister’s boyfriend’s family.  Whew.  We scored an amazing rate at Paris, and really enjoyed staying there.  It’s a comfortable hotel, and the kind of place you wouldn’t really have to leave the whole weekend if you didn’t want to.

We got in late afternoon on Friday, settled in, and ate at a cafe in Paris that really isn’t worth writing about, except for the fact that I got a whole bottle of wine for $8 when most of their single glasses are more than that.

HERE is what Vegas means to me.

Ronald’s Donuts, my friends.  The donuts are out of this world good, they have soy milk for coffee, and I will happily make myself sick eating their apple fritters.  Here I am, slightly hungover and unshowered, in apple fritter heaven.

We had plans for dinner but needed to have a late lunch somewhere, because one cannot exist on apple fritters alone.  Enter Le Burger Brasserie in Paris.  I took a chance that this place would have something I could eat, and I won!  Upon inquiring of the waiter if their veggie burger had any dairy or eggs, he cringed and said “Yeah, I think it does…it has mushrooms, grains, vegan cheese…Wait!  Vegan cheese has no dairy!” and checked with the kitchen to be completely sure.

This was a good, good veggie burger.  The patties are made in-house, and are at least an inch thick and very tasty.  It comes with two topping, but I added one and chose portobello, avocado and caramelized onions.  Seriously, this was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had and I’d recommend Le Burger Brasserie over the meal I had at Burger Bar easily.

The one caveat about this place is that it’s not cheap.  The burgers don’t come with fries, you have to order them separately.  But I would recommend that you do.

Because their fries are really good, despite the blurry image.  They have steak fries, shoestring fries AND waffle fries and you can get a three fry sampler if you want.

Sometimes when the waiter forgets to ask whether you want an orange or lemon slice with your Widmer and they bring you both, you put them both in.  It’s Vegas, you gotta get a little crazy!

Dinner that night was at The Wynn Buffet, where the lighting apparently does horrible things to my pictures.  Like last time I visited, I didn’t get to check that anything was vegan, but when in doubt went the cautious route.  So don’t take my word for it on this stuff…

Plate 1:  salad with vinaigrette, asparagus and pea salad, strawberries, dried fruit, marinated artichoke, pickles and a little piece of bread.

Plate 2:  pita with hummus and baba ganoush, rice pilaf, curried chickpeas.

Plate 3:  Asian slaw, spicy cucumbers with citrus, sushi, seaweed salad, and the most amazing miso udon which I tried to replicate after the last time I had it but didn’t really come close.

I also had a few bites of sorbet for dessert, but it was nothing picture worthy.  For the life of me I can’t remember where or if we had lunch the next day.  Maybe I just ate a bunch of donuts?

For dinner, we had a date with Hoffbrauhaus, a full-on German-style restaurant like in Beer Fest.  You sit at a long table with other parties, there is a band with an accordion on stage, and the waitresses can carry multiple mugs of beer in one hand.  Look at this perfect pour!

The menu includes two vegetarian entrees, but they’re both laden with cheese or cream, so I asked about a few side dishes and ended up getting three.

Yummy pretzel with sweet mustard.

Cucumber salad, which was good but not worth the $7 it costed.

Red cabbage.  The flavor was good, but they somehow managed to make the cabbage HEAVY.  I couldn’t even finish this small bowl.

I would recommend the Hoffbrauhaus if you’re into that sort of thing, but warn that it is not really within walking distance of the strip.  It may look like it is on a map, but please take a cab!

After dinner we went to Cirque du Soleil Mystere at TI.  It was quite a show, but overall I think I liked La Nouba in Orlando better.  Not that Mystere was bad, it just wasn’t better than La Nouba.  It was also really expensive; our discount tickets were more than I really wanted to pay, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.

That was it for us in Vegas, but on the way out of town we stopped off at Ronald’s again.  I had asked around in the Bay Area to see if anyone wanted donuts brought back and had a large response.  So I bought ten half dozens, which didn’t include the donuts I bought for the ride home, or the donuts that the sweet people at Ronald’s GAVE to me!  Here are the donuts I distributed, with my pepper grinder for size reference (and bonus grease spots).

The next weekend, in addition to going to two baseball games, I baked a donation for the San Francisco Worldwide Vegan Bakesale.

These are Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondies from Vegan With A Vengeance, but made with Blackberries instead.  They are super-duper good and I can’t believe I waited this long to try them!  I did have a tricky time getting the blackberry filling to work, it kind of seized up and got stringy.  The recipe calls for tapioca powder and I used tapioca flour because I thought they were the same thing.  Anyone know if they’re the same thing?  I added some extra water to the filling and despite being really sticky, it worked out.

Seeing as SF is not a short trip exactly, and I had a hard time getting going that morning, I was a few hours late for the bakesale.  They had already sold out of a lot of items, but had enough to keep going.

We did really well with foot traffic due to our fantasitc location in front of Ike’s.  Ike’s has pretty much the best sandwiches ever (with extensive vegan options), so of course I had to get one.  I really wanted the Paul Reubens special but they had run out of Tofurkey, so I had a “Not So Sloppy” – meatballs and bbq sauce.

So friggin’ good!  And if you order a vegan sandwich they give you a vegan lollipop.

The bakesale was a HUGE success.  Between the two days and locations they raised $3,000 dollars.  Three thousand!  The proceeds were split between Animal Place and East Bay Animal Advocates.  I feel proud to have been a small part of such a great event.  Thanks to Melisser and Laura for organizing!

That brings us to this past weekend, which was the Fourth of July.  We kept it small and just went to a friend’s house to grill, hang out and play board games.  I decided to make a fancy grilled portobello sandwich, and started by marinating some big mushrooms according to this recipe.

During the veggie grilling session (after the grill had been cleaned of any remaining meats) we cooked the portobellos along with pattypan squash and corn.

I served the mushrooms on storebought ciabatta with lettuce, caramelized onions and avocado-horseradish sauce.  Delightful!  The portobellos weren’t the best I’ve ever made, but I think that had more to do with me cooking them over high heat for a few minutes too long than it did with the recipe.

In keeping with my one year tradition of making a red, white and blue dessert, I put together a trifle.  The layers are lemon pound cake from Veganomicon, strawberries, blueberries and coconut whipped cream.  I was going to do a simple silken tofu whipped cream but couldn’t find silken tofu anywhere, so I bought two cans of coconut milk, remembering that I had read somewhere that you could whip it into cream.  I followed the technique of this recipe, using all the cream from the tops of both cans (about 1 1/2 cups), 6 Tbs powdered sugar, 4 Tbs soy milk powder, 1 tsp almond extract, and a pinch of salt.  It did whip up and turned out nicely.

While I was carefully layering the trifle, bf asked me “Why are you arranging it so carefully if you’re just going to cover it up?”.  Well, this is why:

Trifle’s are supposed to look pretty from the side!

And from the top.  It tasted really good too.  There were lots of flavors going on between the vanilla and lemon in the pound cake, the coconut and almond in the cream and the berries, but it came together well and the pound cake had the perfect squishy consistency.

Lastly, here is how Jake likes to spend his time while I’m out galavanting and running around.

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Party Food & Searching for the Perfect Pancake, Part 3

Last weekend was bf’s birthday, and one of his cousins invited a whole lot of people over to his place to celebrate.  We were going to order the UFC fight and watch some college football, and wanted to keep the food simple and on the cheap side since we were expecting quite the crowd.  As usual, I contributed because I like sharing, and also to make sure I didn’t starve.

Layered bean dip:  refried beans, avocado mashed with lime juice, salsa, better than cream cheese with taco seasoning, lettuce, green onion and olives.  I guess technically it was a seven layer dip.  This was a hit, gone by the end of the night.  Many people asked me what the ingredients were and were surprised to hear there was a vegan cream cheese.

I also brought the ubiquitous veggie tray, with Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian dressing.

BF doesn’t really like cake.  I mean, he’ll eat it sometimes if it’s there, but I wanted to make something I knew he would like a lot, so I went with a cookie cake.  Since my kitchen is still packed in boxes I used storebought frosting and didn’t go crazy decorating.  It wasn’t nearly as nice as the one I made for the superbowl (buried somewhere in this post…bf’s birthday cake from a couple years ago is at the very bottom too, that one was impressive.  and time consuming.), but it tasted great just the same.

It’s just the VWAV chocolate chip cookie recipe with a tad extra liquid, pressed onto a cookie sheet, baked and covered in icing.  It couldn’t get much easier.  People go nuts for cookie cake.

On Monday I started my new job in San Francisco, which unfortunately involves up to three hours of commuting every day.  It also involves staying in people’s spare rooms and on their floors since we don’t have a place to live yet.  This situation may or may not change in the near future, but for now my food during the week is mostly prepared due to time constraints, tiredness, and not wanting to mess other people’s kitchens up.  I took my camera with me and meant to document a few of the meals, however boring, but when it came down to it I just didn’t have the energy to take pictures.  When I finally got “home” at the end of the day I just wanted to eat ASAP.  So unfortunately I have no pictures of canned split pea soup, Amy’s roasted veggie pizza, salad from a salad bar, or a taco salad from Whole Foods hot bar that cost me over $11.  You know what all that stuff looks like anyway.  The food highlight of my week was a vegan blueberry donut from Whole Foods.  I LOVE blueberry donuts.  I used to buy blueberry and cherry donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts back in the day.  This one wasn’t quite the same, but it definitely hit the spot.  Blue frosting and all.

Having not been able to cook all week, yesterday I woke up with the urge to make something.  Lazy Saturday mornings equal pancakes to me, so I continued my quest to find the perfect vegan pancake.  Refer to these postsfor my first two attempts.  This time I went with the recommended Diner Style Pancakes from the Candle Cafe Cookbook.  I don’t have any of my normal egg replacers here though, so I had to tweak the recipe a little and use a tablespoon cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water in place of the egg replacer the recipe calls for.

I put chocolate chips in some of them just because I could.  These reminded me of my results using the VWAV pancake recipe – they tasted great, but were still flat.  I’m not giving up on this recipe completely though, since I did change it up a little.  I’ll try it again, maybe with a bit less liquid for a less runny batter.

BF and two of his cousins were making breakfast too, since football starts at 10AM over here.  They were planning chorizo and egg burritos, and I was going to stick with pancakes for simplicity’s sake.  But bf called me from the grocery store asking if I wanted some vegetarian chorizo that he had spotted.  He’s become really great at looking out for me and my food needs.  So while they cooked up theirs, I “scrambled” my veggie chorizo with tofu and spices.

Not exactly picturesque, but it was tasty.  Very similar to tvp or tempeh sausage crumbles that I’ve made before, a little spicy.  Except the chorizo comes in a casing like the real stuff, and you squeeze it out of the casing into the pan.  It seems to me it would be easier to just package it without the casing, but I guess they’re going for authenticity.  The soy flavor was a little overwhelming since it was TVP and tofu, so I think next time I would maybe try it with beans or on its own.

We also roasted home fries.  Here is my resulting delicious breakfast that kept me stuffed for a very long time.

Very early tomorrow morning I’m back to the grind, commuting and eating from a can.  Until next weekend…

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