Posts Tagged VCON

Whirlwind Weekend

Greetings.  I had a great food and friends weekend, and I wanted to write this post Monday morning, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat.  Soon it became the kind of sickness that completely knocks you out, and by nighttime I had a fever.  Yesterday I went to the doctor and found out I have strep throat so I filled her prescriptions, took the pills, and again was knocked out.  Last night I was far too lethargic and nauseous to type anything, so here I am Wednesday morning, pre-med ingestion, to write out this post that’s been hanging over my head then resign myself to another day of boredom and nausea.

When I was in high school, if I spent a Friday night alone I would get really depressed.  Now I find I’m perfectly content to spend an entire Friday night at home cooking, and that is what I did on Friday.  I knew Saturday I was going to have no free time, so I cooked and prepped everything Friday night.  I also made pesto pizza for dinner using farmers market basil and tomatoes and VWAV pizza crust from the freezer.

pesto pizza

Upon taking the crust out of the freezer, I was reminded how awesome I am, because I had included this note to myself on how to bake it, so I wouldn’t have to look it up again.

pizza note

The pesto recipe and tofu ricotta were also from VWAV.  I put the red onion on sparingly, but afterwords wished I had put more on, because it was really yummy.

pesto pizza

Janeen had invited me to brunch Saturday morning, so I got up and finished up the food to take to her place.  I made what I’m calling Monkey Rolls – banana-chocolate-walnut cinnamon rolls.  I made the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from the Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zine, subbing mashed banana for the pumpkin and adding chocolate chips and chopped toasted walnuts to the filling.  I also subbed canola oil for the margarine in both the rolls and the filling, as Janeen is allergic to soy.  I was most nervous about that substitution, but they turned out great.

monkey rolls

I had intentions of icing them with both vanilla and chocolate and almost skipped the chocolate part for lack of time, but I’m glad I went with both because I think the chocolate icing was the part that really took them over the top.

monkey rolls

I also made what I envisioned to be baked black bean & sweet potato taquitos.  Friday night I made the fillings, which were Refried Black Beans from Yellow Rose Recipes, and a sweet potato mash with lime juice, cilantro and minced chipotles.  Saturday morning I made my first homemade wheat tortillas from this recipe.  I made 12 tortillas instead of the 8 the recipe calls for, to make them smaller.

tortillas

They turned out really well for a first attempt, but they weren’t as pliable as I had hoped.  I wrapped each one around some of the black beans and sweet potato, secured them with a toothpick, and baked for about 15 minutes.  Right around the time I was trying to finish photgraphing and pack up for Janeen’s house, a crazy storm started rolling in and took all my light.  So I skeedaddled to Janeen’s just in time to beat the rain and took the rest of the photos by flash, and candlelight because Janeen is romantic like that.

taquitos

So the taquitos didn’t wrap up as I had hoped, but they tasted really good.  I served them with a quick guacamole and homemade enchilada sauce.  I like the enchilada sauce you can buy at the store (Old El Paso?) but felt like trying homemade.  I figured it couldn’t be too difficult.  I was skeptical about just how much a roux would do for an enchilada sauce, but it really did the trick.  The sauce had a silky mouthfeel that couldn’t have been acheived by just mixing ingredients together.  The only change I made was to add 2 tsp of sugar.  I like a sweet sauce.

Janeen made some excellent potatoes, cooked with a bruschetta mix and mushrooms.  These were really good.

She also put together a pretty fruit plate.

fruit plate

Here’s our candlelit spread.

brunch spread

We had planned a bike ride after brunch, but since it was storming we stayed in and ate like piggies.

brunch

Afterwards we went to watch bf’s band play at an afternoon benefit show, then retired to his house for a bbq.  I came home in between to clean up, and by the time I got there this was the spread on the coffee table.  Normally we’ll have out a bag or two of chips, but apparently that day we were partying like there were 20 of us even though there were only really 8.

chips

And for further exhibit of “how we roll”, here is the top shelf of the beer fridge.  Yes, there are two fridges and one is just for beer.

beer

For the bbq I made Apricot BBQ Sauce from VCon.  I was skeptical about how good this could be with no vinegar and such a small amount of tomato, but this is really good.  Make it now while apricots are in season!

apricot bbq sauce

I used this sauce to baste FatFree Vegan’s Barbecued Seitan Ribz.  So good.

ribz

I also made squash pickles.  You may recall that I first made them a while back, and wasn’t quite happy with the seasoning.  This time I got it right.  Nobody else seems to like these as much as I do, but I do like them.  So if you like squash and pickles, give them a try.

squash pickles

Squash Pickles

2 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, or 4 yellow squash, sliced
1 c vinegar (1/2 c apple cider, 1/2 c white)
1 c sugar
heaping tsp kosher salt
2 c water or enough to cover squash
medium to large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tsp pickling spice
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed

Put all ingredients in a non-reactive container and stir. Refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

For crisper pickles, salt the squash slices and let sit in a colander for a half hour. Rinse before adding to other ingredients.

My plate, with some grilled asparagus.

bbq

That’s it for now.  I have friends visiting this weekend and am concentrating on getting well before then.  And maybe going back to work, since that’s how I get paid.

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Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh & Herbed Millet

After a weekend away from home I was in serious need of a quick trip to the grocery store.  I went a little nuts with the fruit since I hadn’t bought any fresh fruit in a while.  I didn’t want to spend much more than $15, and this came to $16 and change, so it was okay.

groceries

The mango, kale and peach are organic.  The grains are millet.  The two orange things in front are apriums, a mix of apricots and plums.  Weird, but cute and not expensive, so I had to try.

I’ve wanted to try millet for a while.  I’ve had gluten-free millet bread and liked the flavor, so I was pretty sure I’d like it.  I knew there was a recipe for Mexi-Millet in VCON and planned to try it along with Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh, but at the last minute changed my mind and went for a more simple treatment for my first time.  Most times I am only up for one new recipe a weeknight.

I cooked the millet with a touch of olive oil and chicken broth powder, then added sauteed leeks, chopped parsley and lemon zest.  The flavors went perfectly with the millet, as I suspected.

hot sauce glazed tempeh

I was worried the tempeh would be really hot, but the spice mellowed out with grilling.  It perfectly fulfilled my need for tempeh.  I cut it in thinner slices than the directions dictated, for more marinated surface and to make it stretch further.  Steamed kale shared the plate.  This was a nice, light, well-rounded dinner, just what I wanted after a weekend of eating and drinking a bit too much.

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Annual Baseball Pilgrimage

Every summer a group of us take a road trip down to Tampa to watch the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) play a couple weekend games.  We chose Memorial Day weekend so that we could recuperate on Monday, as one definitely requires a full day of rest afterwards.  This is my fourth year going, and every year the celebrations grow a little larger and a little wilder.  You can tailgate at Tropicana Field, so we show up a couple hours early and do it up right.

As most of my friends are quite content to eat hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings all day long, I made quite a bit of food to take along and share.

First we have Joanna’s Beer Brats (the March 16th entry, currently at the top).  The recipe says that she made 10, and for whatever reason I decided to make them really big, and ended up with 8.  These guys were HUGE.  I selected a few bun-sized dogs for the road trip, and put the rest in the freezer.  A few of them were so large I’ll definitely have to chop them up small in order to use them in anything.  These were really tasty.  The texture is distinctively seitan-y, but the flavor as far as I can tell is dead on.  Very similar to Tofurkey’sBeer Brats which I really like, but about a million times cheaper.  Here they are posing with the beer from whence they came.  Next time I’ll use a nicer beer, this is just what I had in the fridge.

brats

I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad, Wolfie’s Fiesta Pasta Salad from La Dolce Vegan.  The dressing on this stuff is unreal.  The original recipe is a little heavy on the pasta and light on the veggies for my taste, so I added extra peppers, peas and blanched broccoli.  And I used mini bowties instead of macaroni, just because they’re cute.

pasta salad

I also made a “fixings salad”.  The recipe is from the Food Network site, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I’ll post a link later if it’s still there.  All that’s in it is lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, olive oil and red wine vinegar, to go on burgers and sandwiches.  I thought it was a really cute idea, and nice since we wouldn’t have to cart all those things individually, but it didn’t go over too well.  It could be my friends just aren’t fixings kinds of people, or that the lettuce had wilted by the time we ate it (it tasted fine though), or that their burgers were mounded so high with mushrooms, bacon and cheese that there just wasn’t room.  Either way, I liked it and may make it again sometime for a cookout.  Just don’t mix it till right before you want to eat it!

fixings salad

Here we have VCON Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnuts Cookies.  These got rave reviews.  They’re delicious and stay soft for days, and the recipe makes a ton so I’m still working on leftovers and have a stash in the freezer.  I can see myself making many variations on these in the future.

cookies

I wanted to take something for breakfast other than a Luna bar, so before we left Saturday I made FatFree Vegan’s Banana Coffee Cake.  I wanted to make it soy-free so soy-intolerant Janeen could partake, so I had to adapt the recipe.  My first instinct for soy yogurt replacement was mashed banana, but as the recipe already contained two bananas I was wary.  I asked Susan of FFV and she replied “you can never have enough banana”, and I tend to agree.  Because I’m a little insane, I made two variations.

coffee cake

For the first I subbed mashed banana for the soy yogurt and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

coffee cake

The other variation was peanut butter, because peanut butter and banana is the best.  I subbed 1/2 cup pb for the soy yogurt, flax and water, and added an extra 1/4 cup rice milk to keep the wet mixture at the right consistency.  I also added 1/4 cup peanuts since my pb was creamy, but I would definitely prefer to use crunchy pb in the future, as the peanuts got a little soft once baked inside the cake.  You can see the layer of bananas nicely in this one.

coffee cake

I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the banana layer both times.  It would’ve been nice there in the middle, but the cakes were fine without.  My favorite was the peanut butter kind, although it was a bit more dense and crumbly.  I think everyone else gravitated towards the chocolate chip variation.  15 seconds in the microwave was the perfect fix to warm it back up after sitting overnight.

coffee cake

So yeah, I did all this the night before and the morning that we left.  I packed it all up to go in the cooler…

tailgating food

…and THEN we finally left.  The amount of food and drink (read:  beer) that we took for nine people was a little insane.  It filled up five coolers.  We got through most of it before the weekend was over though.

After the 2 1/2 hour drive, we were happy to find a nice spot in the shade.  Here is what I would look like if I regularly wore things like “hats” and “sunglasses”.  And I even remembered to put sunscreen on the first day!

tailgating

It was HOT that afternoon!  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and we brought a big tent just incase, but of course because we were prepared there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.

For my tailgate meal before the game I had one of the brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, my pasta salad, and another pasta salad Janeen made.  Hers had artichokes, roasted tomatoes, olives and cilantro and was delicious, as always.  She’s got me rethinking my stance on olives, just a little bit.  I also had too many chips, a couple beers, and probably a cookie or two.

tailgating

Here’s the view of Tropicana Field from our area.  This place is large and white and you can see it from very far away.  A lot of people don’t like going to games here because it’s enclosed and all artificial turf, but I like it just fine, mostly because it’s climate controlled.

tropicana firled

It was “70’s Night” at the Saturday game, which involved handing out blue afro wigs to the first 10,000 fans and an after-game show by The Commodores, which we didn’t end up staying for.  It also involved ridiculously photoshopped pictures of all the players.

baseball

baseball

The Rays (along with the rest of the world) are going green!  Any car with four or more people parks for free (which we did with two cars), and look at this cup our beers came in.

baseball cup

Although I don’t think that sentence is gramatically correct…

We stayed at our friend Nate’s parents’ lovely house in Tampa.  They live on a lake, have a pool, and don’t seem to mind if Nate’s friends come in and trash their house while they’re away on vacation.  We’re good kiddies though, we cleaned up before we left.  Saturday night we watched BJ Penn win his UFC fight, and the party lasted long into the night.  I layed down in this hammock for a couple minutes before I realized I had better get to bed, lest I spend the whole night in the hammock.

hammock

Here’s the view I had the next morning while I enjoyed my coffee cake.

lake

My eats at the Sunday tailgate, along with the requisite chips and beer, was a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, and a marinated portobello, both topped with the fixings salad.

tailgating

I also may have drank some champagne straight from the bottle with the aforementioned Janeen.  Well, we didn’t have any cups and it was the classy thing to do.

tailgating

There is a tank of live rays inside the stadium, so Sunday we went to see them first thing.  You can pet them, and you can even pay a few dollars to feed them, but none of us wanted our hands anywhere near there mouths.  Sea creatures and I don’t get along in a phobia type of way, so petting their wings was quite enough of a thrill for me.  These guys were hard to catch in a good picture, they’re fast!

rays

We had some debate about whether they like being in the tank and having people pet them all day.  They zoom right up to the side of the tank and let you pet them with no problems, although they might just be hoping for food each time.

rays

Courtesy of Adrian, a picture of me taking a picture of the rays.  Adrian’s camera has some neat-o function that singles out colors or something.

rays

Hope you enjoyed reliving my weekend through pictures.  Tonight it’s back to exercise and healthy eating.

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Birthday Party Foods

Every year for my birthday I have friends over to my place for a little shindig, and this year was a good one.  Friends showed up in force, everyone had a good time (I think), and a cop came by to give up a noise warning!  You know it’s a good party when the 5-0 arrive.  Nevermind the fact that we weren’t being very loud, spent the majority of the party playing board games, and are all well over the legal drinking age…we’re a wild bunch, really.  And while I never expect any presents, I received gifts including a couple bottles of nice wine, some Jameison, and My Sweet Vegan!

My friends made my week by showing me a good time, so the least I could do was feed them.  Please excuse the flash photography, the pictures were snapped fast since people were already over and eyeballing the food.

VWAV Spanakopita in phyllo cups.

spanakopita

Lettuce wrap bar.  Not everyone got the lettuce wrap concept, which is fine because a) I thought it up last minute and had never done it before, b) the lettuce I bought wasn’t as cup-like as anticipated, and c) all the fillings worked just as well on their own.  The recipes for all of the fillings are at the end.

lettuce wraps

Pea Salad.

pea salad

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms.

mushrooms

Savory Carrot Salad (the dressing on this was so good, it’s going to be my go-to balsamic vinaigrette).

carrot salad

Veggies, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Pretzel Chips.  If you haven’t had Stacy’s Pita Chips yet, get them.  Unless you don’t feel like being tempted to eat the whole bag at once.

veggies

A trio of dips, starting with Black Bean Dip with Cilantro & Lime.  I wasn’t impressed with this, so no recipe.  Although everyone seemed to like it okay.  I can do better.

black bean dip

VCON Curried Carrot Dip.  This was really good, but I almost wanted it to be made from sweet potato or squash instead, because that’s what it tasted like.

carrot dip

Roasted Eggplant & Garlic Hummus from Yellow Rose Recipes.  This flew off the shelves like gangbusters.  I had to put out seconds, and it was all demolished.  And just as easy to make as normal hummus, with one extra step.  Get YRR and make this.

eggplant hummus

And the piece de resistance, the birthday cake I made for myself, as all good vegans do.  It’s based on Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.  Two vanilla layers studded with cookie dough, and a brownie layer, iced with buttercream.  I didn’t get to decorate it like I wanted, mostly because I was short on time but also because I didn’t make enough frosting.  Extra cookie dough balls did the trick.

half baked cake

Money shot.

half baked cake

And my piece, cut bigger than everyone elses.  I could only eat half at first, had to save the rest for later.

half baked cake

If I make this again the only change will be to try to make the cookie dough pieces inside the cake smaller, so they disperse more.  The Brooklyn Brownie, Golden Agave, and Buttercream recipes are from VCTOTW, cookie dough from VWAV.

The recipes:

Savory Carrot Salad

4-5 carrots, shredded
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp maple syrup
dashes of salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients except carrots together until emulsified. Pour over carrots and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Pea Salad

3 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
2 Tbs onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs each green bell pepper and red bell pepper, finely chopped
3-4 Tbs vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbs relish
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients, chill before serving.

Serves 4.

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms

I made these without soy since a friend is allergic, but 1-2 Tbs soy sauce added to the marinade would be good.

4 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used button, shiitake & portobello)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/3 cup cooking sherry
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil spray
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
thinly sliced scallions
toasted sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the water, sherry, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, dry mustard and red pepper flakes. Pour over mushrooms, cover, and marinate at least one hour, up to overnight.
2. Spray a medium saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the pan, reserving the marinade. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they have released their juices, the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are tender. If the mushrooms start to stick, add a small amount of water to the pan.
3. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch to the reserved marinade and whisk to combine.
4. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the marinade to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the marinade is thickened.
5. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6.

And for those of you who’ve made it through the whole post, here’s an adorable picture of bf being a sad clown.

sad clown

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No Pie For You

My strawberry pie did not materialize.  I was going to make Kittee’s strawberry pie recipe and use the crust recipe she recommends.  My dough was really wet though, and I’m still a pie crust novice so I tried to make it work, with a bunch of extra flour for rolling out.  I tried twice since the dough made two crusts worth.  I just couldn’t get the crust in the dang pie plate right.  I got really frustrated, yelled, flung the crappy crust in the trash can, and arranged the berries I planned to use on a plate.  They got eaten just the same.

strawberries

It’s kinda sad, my mom makes a mean pie crust.  It’s perfect and flaky every time.  I apparently did not inherit this gene.  I need to book my mom for a pie crust lesson one of these days. 

I also made Cheater Baked Beans from VCON.  I wasn’t sure how many people were coming over or how many would want beans, but I doubled the recipe just in case and by the end of the night they were mostly eaten, so it worked out.

cheater baked beans

I added a Tbs sugar and dashes of hot sauce and liquid smoke, and it was very good.

cheater baked beans

Summary:  Cheater Baked Beans are meat-eater approved, and somebody teach me how to make pie crust.  Please.

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Fancy Ladies’ Brunch

I enjoy having people over for a meal, but I always overdo it.  I know I do, and I still do everytime.  I like to impress though…so I try.

I invited my lady friends to come for a brunch.  I wanted it to be a little fancy and a little springy since it’s already pretty warm here in Florida.  I spent the week before planning and cleaning, and the whole day before and morning of cooking.  Here’s what I came up with.

(One of my friends is allergic to soy, and one has celiac, so I wanted to label each dish so that they would know what they could eat.  Hence the “gf” and “sf” on the cards.)

PPK Coffee Cake – http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=123

Fresh Fruit Salad with Agave-Lime Dressing – http://www.greatpartyrecipes.com/fruit-salad-recipe.html

(I subbed agave nectar for the honey called for, equal amount.)

Mini “Muffins That Taste Like Donuts” from Vegan Vittles, made gluten free, and Mini Orange Poppyseed Muffins, also gluten free – http://www.meatlessmonday.com/site/PageServer?pagename=recipe_more_070219

Mini  Bran Muffins from La Dolca Vegan

VWAV Herb Roasted Potatoes with Homemade Ketchup

Fatfree Vegan’s Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches – http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/12/mini-crustless-tofu-quiches.html

(I omitted the green pepper and added a box of thawed frozen spinach to the blender.)

Julie Hasson’s Spicy Italian Sausages, made breakfast link size – http://www.everydaydish.tv/Recipe%20Pages/Spicy_Italian_Vegetarian_Sausage.html

VCON Blueberry Corn Pancakes, made gluten free.

VWAV Ginger Pear Waffles (successful first waffle attempt!)

Roasted Asparagus Bundles – http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_33069,00.html

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Juice Bar.  There was also coffee.  And two more bottles of champagne.

The spread.

My (first) plate.

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