Posts Tagged holiday

VeganMoFo: Celebrations

This is my 300th post!  To celebrate, I figured I’d show you some celebration food.

St. Patrick’s Day – corned beef seitan, spinach potato patties, soda bread, a shamrock shake made with avocado and mint, and Guinness Extra Stout.  Guinness Extra Stout distributed in the US is vegan!

Cinco de Mayo – ground “beef” tacos with guacamole, rice and beans.

Valentine’s Day – Chocolate Covered Katie’s Snickerdoodle Blondies cut into cute little heart shapes.

Easter – homemade peanut butter cups.  I was going to make eggs but Michael’s was out of egg-shaped molds, so hearts it was!  The filling was 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter mixed with 2 teaspoons melted Earth Balance and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  The coating was a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips melted with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.  The cups had a really good texture, but you could taste the coconut oil a bit, so I’d reduce it next time.

all packed up for shipping

I made the Ultimate Vegan Brownies from veganbaking.net to send to my mom for her birthday.  There are a few steps to the recipe, but it’s so worth it – they are by far the best vegan brownies I’ve ever had.  They’re the perfect mixture of fudgey and cakey and crumbly, and even have the desirable crunchy top.

We went to a San Francisco Giants tailgate for Dave’s cousin’s birthday, so I brought cupcakes – yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and white and orange sprinkles for the Giants fans.

I’m not a horseracing fan, but Dave and some of our friends are, so we had a little gathering for the Kentucky Derby.  I made Wolffie’s Derby Pie from La Dolce Vegan.  The filling starts as something like a dough, with flour, margarine, sugar and flax seeds, which you then combine with chocolate chips and walnuts.  It’s probably one of the richest things I’ve ever made, and so delicious.

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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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Dinner of Christmas Past

First, Squeak – if I don’t hear from you soon, I’m going to have to pick another winner of the Appetite for Reduction giveaway!

I’m going to jump in the wayback machine for a few posts to show you guys some stuff I’ve been meaning to post for months.

Christmas, 2010.  We got up early to see what Santa had left behind.

Jake sniffed his presents.

We wanted to stay at home, so we set the table and invited a few friends over for Christmas dinner.  Also, I was leaving early the next day for a week, so any leftovers needed to be something Dave would eat.  Our guests weren’t used to eating exotic stuff, so I kept everything pretty basic.

You can never go wrong with hummus.

I wanted to make stuffed mushrooms, the creamy gooey type that you wouldn’t think were vegan, so I modified this recipe, adding some nutritional yeast.  Success!  One guest said he wouldn’t have known they were vegan.

While we waited for dinner to come together, Jake entertained us by spazzing out on his catnip-filled Christmas tree toy.

Because I didn’t need leftovers, I went with a few side dishes for my meal.

Dave makes the best stuffing without even trying!  This one had onions, garlic, celery, a few types of mushrooms, and lots of fresh herbs.

For this corn pudding, I used the recipe for Southwestern Corn Pudding from Veganomicon but took out all the southwestern ingredients.  It turned out a little dry, but very tasty.

Braised greens, a la this post.  This was less to add a side dish to the buffet, and more for me to pack some greens in mah belly before I left for my trip.

Dave made a big dish of scalloped potatoes for everyone else, so I put together a little baby portion of my own.

For dessert, I made the Gingerbread Apple Pie from Vegan With A Vengeance, which was recommended to me based not only on the flavor, but also the ease of preparation.

And easy it is!  Rather than rolling out a crust, you press the dough into the bottom of the pie plate and pile everything else on.  I will definitely be making this pie again.

Be back soon to tell you about the trip that I left for the next day!

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VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Chestnuts

I think after planning, cooking, eating and cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner I was just not in the mood to write about food for a day or two.  So, I’m back for the fourth installment of Flavor Bible Week – chestnuts!

I do not believe that I had ever had a chestnut in my life until this week.  I really didn’t know what they were or how to prepare them, so I did a lot of research online to make sure I was treating them correctly.  I had been seeing a lot of chestnut bisques online recently, so I thought a soup would go over well.  I wanted to make the soup uber-delicious in order to use it for a Thanksgiving starter, and the good news is that it turned out really well.  I was inspired by this recipe, as well as the recipe in the Millennium Cookbook, and ended up using eleven flavor matches:  apple cider, bay leaf, “butter”, celery root, “milk”, nutmeg, onions, pepper, sherry, sugar and thyme.  In perusing the flavor matches, I noticed that chestnuts could go with a lot of savory flavors, or a lot of sweet, so I decided on a savory soup with a sweet topping.

First, let’s talk about ingredients.  I know celery root, or celeriac, isn’t a widely used ingredient, but I think it should be!  They’re not very pretty…

…but they’re very tasty.  Celery root is kind of like a mild root vegetable with a celery flavor, and would complement anything that celery normally goes with.  Once you peel away the skin and the nubby parts, you’re left with a white, starchy veggie that is easy to prepare.

Now, the chestnuts.  I was actually hoping to find either jarred or dried chestnuts to make my life easier, but lucky me, I could only find fresh.  So, I looked up instructions and roasted them in the oven.

They cooked up okay, but they were a total pain in the butt to peel.  I think maybe if I had made the cuts larger, the skin could have come off more on its own and the peeling would have been easier.  As it was, it took me about three hours to peel while I was watching The Walking Dead.  Here’s what I ended up with:

Not very pretty, but they sure are tasty.

For the sweet topping, I wanted to make a gastrique.  A gastrique is just a fancy word for a wine/vinegar reduction made with fruit and maybe some sugar.  One of the flavor matches for chestnuts is prunes, which I think are an under appreciated ingredient in general, so I set out for a prune gastrique.  The problem turned out to be that the prunes sucked up all the juice, which I really could have anticipated it I thought about it.  If I had a high-speed blender I could’ve turned it into a puree, but my blender aint that strong.  So, I just accepted that the gastrique didn’t work and scraped out the few drops that I could for my first taste:

While the soup isn’t the prettiest color, it tastes awesome.  It’s creamy yet thick, and subtly flavored with the richness of chestnuts and that hint of celery flavor.  The gastrique added that little touch of sweet and sour which set of the soup perfectly.  To serve on Thanksgiving, I made a reduction of the same ingredients without the prunes, and this turned out good as well.  I probably put too much of the reduction on our Thanksgiving portions – it really only needs a small drizzle so you get the sweetness in a few bites, but not in others.  I promise, it tastes much better than it looks!

Chestnut & Celeriac Soup with Sherry-Cider Reduction

If you’re not into the sweet topping, some thinly sliced, crispy fried mushrooms would be a nice alternative.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts or don’t want to bother peeling them, use about half the amount of dried chestnuts, or a drained jar of chestnuts.  The soup reheats well, so feel free to make it the day before serving, but I would recommend making the reduction just before service.

2 Tbs Earth Balance
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch sea salt
2 celeriac, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
1 lb fresh chestnuts, roasted and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 quarts vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
dash ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper
Reduction:
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
pinch sea salt
2 Tbs sugar

1. Melt the Earth Balance in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, leek, garlic and pinch of salt and saute for 12-14 minute, until onions are translucent and leeks are soft.
2. Add the celeriac, chestnuts, bay leaf, thyme and vegetable broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until celeriac is easily pierced with a fork.
3. Meanwhile, make the reduction:  Combine all ingredients (apple cider through sugar) in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the mixture is reduced enough to cling to the bottom of the pot when tilted.  The reduction should drizzle easily off of a spoon.  If you reduce the mixture too much, add a Tablespoon or two of water and stir well to thin.  Remove from the heat when it is the right consistency.
4. Remove soup from the heat and discard bay leaf and thyme sprig.
5. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary.  Add the milk and blend until completely smooth.
6. Wipe out the pot if needed, and transfer the soup back to the pot.  Add the nutmeg and white pepper and stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
7. Gently reheat the soup and serve warm, topped with a small drizzle of the reduction.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 311.2
Calories From Fat (20%) 60.69
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.79g 10%
Saturated Fat 1.42g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 231.35mg 10%
Potassium 685.05mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 57.17g 19%
Fiber 2.11g 8%
Sugar 6.85g
Protein 5.67g 11%

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VeganMoFo: Vegetarian Times Week – Hoppin’ John


My second choice for Vegetarian Times week was Hoppin’ John with Collard Greens from the November/December 2007 issue.  I’ve made dishes that were similar to Hoppin’ John before, but never by following a recipe, so I was interested to see what “real” Hoppin’ John tasted like.  I love the name Hoppin’ John!

I’m big into liquid smoke and use it whenever I want a smoky flavor, so using veggie bacon was an interesting change from the norm.  The recipe as printed was a little confusing – the first step is to mix a few ingredients and set aside, but then it never tells you when to add the mixture.  I added it to the rice and beans portion, since the collards already had plenty of flavoring, but it looks like the online version of the recipe is updated to add the mixture to the greens part.  Honestly, you end up mixing everything together when you eat it, so I would just put everything in the same pan instead of cooking it separately.  The good news is that it tasted really great!  It was a perfect mix of sweetness, vinegar, heat and wholesome ingredients.  My biggest complaint would be that there weren’t enough greens!  The collards wilted down so much that I would definitely recommend at least two bunches instead of one.  This is a great recipe if you’re looking for something traditional to serve on New Year’s Day.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

…Even though it’s two days after Thanksgiving now.  Happy four day weekend!  I’ve been taking the opportunity to sleep in and take care of business.

This year, for the first time, Dave and I decided to stay home for Thanksgiving.  We invited our friends Tom and Hope over and had a nice, intimate, huge feast.  I even decorated the table like a real adult.

And made a centerpiece, Martha Stewart-style.

We started with appetizers.  This is the Walnut Mushroom Pate from Veganomicon with some crackers, carrot sticks and peppadews (mild pickled peppers).  Tom and Hope’s dog Lucy also came over and I had forgot that she really loves to eat carrots, so that was a nice treat for her.

Since we were sitting down to a real dinner, I included soup and salad on the menu.  For the soup I wanted to keep the flavors simple and express my new found love for cardamom.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Orange Soup with Pistachio Dust

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large shallots, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil, melted
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large orange, zested and supremed
2 Tbs orange liqueur (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp cumin
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
2 fresh sage leaves, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Divide the squash, shallots and garlic among the pans, add 1 Tbs of melted coconut oil to each pan and stir to coat the vegetables.  Roast for 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Allow to cool slightly.
2. Place half of the vegetables in a blender, add half of the broth and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large pot.  Place the remaining vegetables and broth in the blender and add the orange segments, orange liqueur, cardamom, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and add to the pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. Heat the soup gently over medium heat, stirring often and turning down the heat if it starts bubbling.
4. Meanwhile, place the pistachios in a food processor and process into the size of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the sage and 1 tsp orange zest and pulse to combine.
5. To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls and top with the pistachio dust.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 365.04
Calories From Fat (23%) 82.37
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.73g 15%
Saturated Fat 4.65g 23%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 185.43mg 8%
Potassium 1661.7mg 47%
Total Carbohydrates 66.3g 22%
Fiber 7.74g 31%
Sugar 9.44g
Protein 8.82g 18%

Our salad was the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon.  I first made this a few weeks ago and couldn’t find the chicory it called for, so I had it with mixed greens and butter lettuce, and after trying it with chicory I have to say that the bitter greens make all the difference in balancing the sweet elements of the salad.  I also learned that I like whole hazelnuts.  Delicious!

I didn’t want to hold my fellow diners up, so I didn’t get pictures of all the individual dishes.  Here is my plate.

For my “main” I had a chickpea cutlet from the freezer with some cranberry sauce that Hope brought.  The roasted brussels sprouts are this recipe, chosen because I found out that neither Tom nor Hope likes brussels, and I was determined to show them that they’re good.  They both tried them and said they’re okay, but they’re still not brussels fans.  I can try, no?

These rolls are the Homestyle Potato Rolls fromVeganomicon.  Yes, I relied heavily on Veganomicon for our meal.  It’s a great cookbook filled with a lot of fall-appropriate recipes.  Anywho, the bread dough was really nice and easy to work with, and it expanded even while in the fridge overnight.  I served the bread with some herbed butter.  I mean, herbed Earth Balance.

Dave requested chunky mashed potatoes with the skins, and lots of them so he could have leftovers.  I added a bunch of Earth balance, almond milk, truffle salt and black pepper to get ‘em tasting good.  Everyone else enjoyed turkey gravy, but I came up with this red wine gravy as my contribution.  It’s not the best looking color of gravy, but it tastes quite nice.

Red Wine Gravy

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1/2 cup almond milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tbs tamari
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1. Heat a medium pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Sprinkle the flour into the pot and whisk immediately to make a smooth paste.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add the broth, milk, wine and tamari and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Turn the heat down if the gravy is bubbling too much.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutritional yeast.  Serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 102.56
Calories From Fat (61%) 63.06
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.15g 11%
Saturated Fat 0.94g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 262.38mg 11%
Potassium 44.39mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.03g 2%
Fiber 0.87g 3%
Sugar 0.18g
Protein 2.28g 5%

And of course, I had to make green bean casserole.  It’s my quintessential Thanksgiving dish.  Dave said that the ones I had made in the past were good but could have more flavor, so I set out to create my own version, and I have to say that it was probably the best green bean casserole I’ve ever had.  I wanted to make everything from scratch instead of using store bought fried onions, and I tried to inject as much flavor as possible at every step.

Green Bean Casserole

1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, diced (I used chanterelle, oyster and shiitake)
6 Tbs high heat sunflower oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 large shallot, minced
5 Tbs all purpose flour, divided
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1 cup almond milk, at room temperature
2 Tbs sherry
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the green beans in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes, until beans are tender.  Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbs of the oil.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Set aside.
4. Place a small pot over medium heat and add 3 Tbs of the oil.  Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until they are starting to turn translucent.  Add 3 Tbs of the flour and whisk to form a smooth paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add the vegetable broth and whisk to combine.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the milk and sherry and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the green beans, mushroom mixture and sauce in a baking dish.
5. Combine the sliced onion and 2 Tbs flour in a bowl and toss with your hands to coat.  Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs of oil.  Add the onions and any remaining flour to the pan, stir to combine and cook until most of the onions have browned, stirring frequently.  Pour the onions on top of the green bean mixture and spread evenly.
6. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 192
Calories From Fat (50%) 96.94
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.97g 17%
Saturated Fat 1.12g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 30.35mg 1%
Potassium 497.72mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 20.21g 7%
Fiber 2.73g 11%
Sugar 2.26g
Protein 4.85g 10%

For dessert, I attempted to veganize the Cranberry Upside Down Cake from the latest issue of Eating Well magazine.

It tasted alright, but it refused to upside-down itself from my cast iron pan, so we had it rightside-up.  That’s what I get for making the recipe the first time that day.

We ate, we chatted, we had some wine and Dogfishhead Chicory Stout, and we watched Elf.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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Christmas Dinner

Happy day after day after Christmas!  I hope everyone had a good one.  We’ve been at bf’s mom’s house since Wednesday afternoon, just chilling out and spending time with his family.  I packed up a whole bunch of food to get me through four days away from home.  The big party here is on Christmas Eve, and  I wanted to keep things simple food-wise.  Ever since Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking of those “leftover sandwiches” people make, so I made my own version.  I started with bread on Sunday, made in the bread machine.

I used a recipe for Whole Wheat Bread that came with the machine, and subbed half the flour with spelt flour, quinoa flour, oats and wheat germ for greater grain variety.  This was a very tasty bread – perfect for sandwiches and SO good as toast.

The sandwich insides were spinach, tofurkey, vegan cream cheese and cranberry sauce.  I toasted this one in a pan.

Here’s a better picture of a test-run sandwich I made a couple days before.  This one also had red onion and pickles and was heated in my sandwich press.

To go on the side I made coleslaw with dried cranberries and pecans.  I originally wanted to make broccoli slaw, but I didn’t anticipate that they don’t sell broccoli slaw out here!  Must be a southern thing.

I also made orange-ginger mashed yams.  I roasted baby sweet potatoes and yams with shallots, garlic & ginger then mashed with a bit of orange juice.

I was going to take a picture of my plate, but I was getting enough weird looks for having a sandwich at Christmas Eve Dinner, so I abstained.

For dessert, I made Pumpkin Whoopie Pies again, by request.

I haven’t met a person yet who doesn’t love these.  I used canned pumpkin instead of fresh this time, so there was a little less than two cups.  I also baked them about ten minutes longer, since last time they were so soft that they stuck to the plate.  They were just a bit crunchy on the outside but still super soft on the inside.  So good.

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  Santa was quite good to me.  Kitchen related presents received were Vegan Lunchbox, Vegan Fire & Spicy, a cast iron skillet, cast iron pizza pan, stock pot, large flat-bottomed saute pan, rice cooker, and a julienne peeler.  I am so excited to try all my new toys, thanks Santa!

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Fourth of July

Yeah, it’s the ninth of July and I’m posting about the fourth.  That’s how things are going right now.  Applying for jobs, planning the move, getting rid of my stuff and living as cheaply as possible are consuming my mind and there’s not room for much else!  Now I understand when people say “I don’t have time to cook”.

I have an admission to make:  Every fourth of July I get the urge to make a red, white and blue cake a la Family Circle and moms everywhere.  I’m not very patriotic at all, but it’s just the Suzy Homemaker thing that I like to do every now and then.  I’ve had to work on the fourth for the past few years and so thus far had not fulfilled my flag cake dream.

This year I didn’t leave myself a whole lot of time, but managed to come up with an effort I can be proud of.  I made the Lemon Almond Cake from Yellow Rose Recipes, which calls for decorating the top with strawberries.  My friend Janeen, who I’ve mentioned before is allergic to soy, is also allergic to strawberries (the poor thing!), so I took the opportunity to incorporate blueberries into the design.  I needed to leave the glaze off her portion too since it included margarine, so I designated a Janeen corner and went from there.

I think it’s supposed to be stripes and fireworks and American things.  What is was was delicious.  The cake is very moist and almost intensely flavorful, I might even reduce the almond extract a bit the next time I make it.  Janeen made sure to steal her corner first and then we went at it.  If you make this cake, which you should, be sure to eat it within the first two days as it spoils quickly, what with all the freshness on top.  Or you could probably extend the life by putting it in the fridge.

As per usual, we were to spend the day grilling.  I wanted a non-store bought (read:  cheaper) protein to grill, so I made Black Bean Burgers from Veganomicon.  I pan-fried them to fully cook and then grilled later just to reheat.  Heed the instructions when they tell you to press them down in the pan!  Otherwise the middles can be a little undercooked.  Here they are packed up for transport.

I ended up eating pretzels and chips and boiled peanuts all afternoon, and wasn’t hungry for dinner until much later that night.  We fired up some new coals and had a veggie grilling session.  Our friend Amber had brought Tofurkey kielbasas so we cooked those up, along with some corn and zucchini that had been waiting for action all day.  I couldn’t manage all of that, so I just had a kielbasa and a burger.

I love how it looks like a crazy face!  I put lettuce, tomato, grilled red onion, grilled mushrooms, avocado, ketchup, AND mustard on the burger and it was way tall when I piled it up to eat.  It was a task I was willing to undertake.

These burgers are really good!  I’m definitely going to make them again.  I’d recommend eating these within a day or two also, or putting them straight in the freezer.  After a few days the wheat gluten texture got a little funky and freaked me out.

By the next night I was ready to fully enjoy everything we had made, so I did.

My food has been pretty boring lately, as I am trying to eat out of the pantry and freezer and buy as little food as possible.  I should have some decent pantry meals to post about soon.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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