Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The New Kid on the Counter

So I have a confession to make. I was convinced that I owned every small kitchen appliance that I would ever need. I admire the punk rock ethos that Isa and Terry perpetuate in that you don't need fancy accoutrement to make good vegan food. I inherited my food processor from my grandmother. I’m certain that I could use my oven to dehydrate flax crackers if I ever decide to try them. I was content to make my beloved green smoothie every morning with the $20 discount store blender that I’ve had for years. I had learning the exact timing required to mulch kale. Then, one morning, the smell of burning plastic signaled the dawn of a new green smoothie era. Behold, the mighty Champ HP:

It contains the raw ingredients of our favourite green smoothie – Tracy's Tropical Typhoon.

Tropical Typhoon (serving for one person with an extra large smoothie travel mug)

1/4 papaya
1 banana
1/4 pineapple
1/2 mango
1 handful kale
1 scoop hemp protein powder
3 cups water

Blend together in K-Tec Champ HP on 2. Or your old trusty working blender. It’s all good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Woo Hoo!

With the Ottawa Senators having clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup finals, I can now divert my attention from biting my nails to cooking - for about a week.

A couple of weeks ago, Kyle mentioned how he had ordered General Tao's chicken from a local Chinese take-out. After telling me how it tasted pretty bad, I recalled how I'd seen many on the PPK rave about a version of General Tao's tofu. I found the recipe, and made an attempt to make homemade take-out that would compete with Kyle's former meal.

And compete it did! I thought it was weird to use 3/4 cup of cornstarch to coat the tofu, and was a little worried that I wasn't frying it in enough oil (the tofu had globs of gellied cornstarch for the first 8 minutes), but they turned out great. We added 1/2 of each red and yellow peppers, but next time, we both agreed to double the sauce. There just wasn't much to coat the noodles, and I don't think it had anything to do with me mistakingly adding only 4 teaspoons of sugar instead of the whopping 4 tablespoons the recipe called for.

For dessert, I thought I'd try to do something different, yet still summery. Kyle and I have gotten into the habit of snacking on soy ice cream, and with bikini season nearly here, I was seeking an alternative. I thought I'd whip up my own creation. I can't say that I will make this again. I puréed 3 mangoes, 1 box of silken tofu, 1/2 cup sugar, the rind of one lime and the juice of half a lime. I let it sit in the fridge, but it didn't turn out as mousse-like or as mango-ey as I had hoped. After Kyle ate his share, he decided to have his usual Peanut Butter Zig-Zag soy ice cream.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Temperate Cooking

We had a good start to summer going on, so we sat in the sun and fired up the grill. One of my very favourite summer dishes is a medley of marinated grilled vegetables, served either plain or over noodles.

I always adlib the marinade so they never taste quite the same twice. Pete does a great job on the barbee, and they are always grilled to perfection.

Another night I had a hankering for spicy chinese. I searched the web for yet another way to do tofu. I found this.

It was really really good, even better than takeout because I could control the amount of oil in it.

Then the weather turned cold, so a steaming hot bowl of soup was in order. I had been eyeing Susan V's White Bean and Garlic Stew recipe.

I chickened out a little bit and only added half of the cloves of a garlic bulb. I also wanted to up the green content so I threw in some chopped swiss chard instead of parsley, and had only one can of cannellini beans so I added a can of chickpeas. It was absolutely delicious. I thought it would be super garlicky but it was really mellow.

Again, the weather was damp and cold tonight, so I improvised a little. I had an acorn squash in the cupboard and a few potatoes. Thus my Curried Squash Pumpkin Potato Soup.

I decided it needed a sexier name. Pete suggested:

Squish Squash Soup

1/2 tblsp olive oil
1 chopped white onion
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry powder
4 cups veggie broth
1 cup water
1 baked acorn squash, skin removed
1 can of pumpkin (but reserve 1 cup so you can make VwaV's pumpkin muffins another day)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
a small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute until soft. Add the mustard seeds and curry powder and stir for a minute. Add the broth, water, squash, pumpkin and potatoes. Heat to boiling and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Stir in salt to taste and fresh cilantro.

Let's hope the weather turns around so we can be on the patio with fruity drinks by Friday afternoon!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I <3 Summer!

I love a nearly disaster-free dessert - bananas, strawberries and pineapple fondue!

I had never used my cheap fondue set before, but remember being told to melt my chocolate mixture first and use the candle below to keep it warm. So I melted some vegan chocolate chips with some soymilk, and was ready to munch in no time. I did learn, however, that that little tealight candle has alot of power. While watching the hockey game, we heard some sizzling - a little patch of chocolate was burning.

Although I didn't mind tending to this little hiccup - I just swirled a cool chunk of pineapple around to stir the chocolate and leave myself with a decadent mouthful.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

An Old Friend

I made my absolute favourite comfort food that came from my own imagination the other night for probably the hundredth time when I realized that I had never posted the recipe here. I did post something *really* similar, but not exactly the same. Since we've lightened our diet, I make this with brown rice pasta.

Sundried Tomato Spinach Artichoke Pasta

1 tblsp oil from julienned oil-packed sundried tomatoes, or olive oil if using dry sundried tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, or dried then reconstituted sundried tomatoes
3/4 cup red wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 huge handfuls of baby spinach, or chopped spinach
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 can chickpeas, drained

1 box brown rice pasta, cooked

Heat oil in wok. Saute garlic for a couple of minutes. Add sundried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes more. Add wine, vinegar and spinach and cook until spinach is slightly wilted. Add artichoke hearts and chickpeas and heat through. Add drained pasta and mix together. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I always make this when I don't know what to make, as I usually have everything in the pantry, and spinach in the fridge. Except for that E coli episode - that was painful.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Three Strikes

I woke up early this morning and decided to make my honey some waffles. It's been awhile since I've used my waffle maker, and with a busy day planned to work on backyard projects, I thought a hearty breakfast would be a great start.

Now, I decided that I didn't want to make just any waffle recipe. I really liked the pumpkin waffle recipe from VwaV, but that was not suitable for today's summer-like weather. VwaV came through once again though - Lemon Corn Waffles with Blueberry Sauce. Upon reading the recipe, I was excited that I had most ingredients. And because this was Sunday, I didn't want to go to the trouble of making a separate blueberry sauce - heck, I decided that I would just add the blueberries to the batter instead and rely on maple syrup for a sauce. In addition, I decided to use soft whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and since I didn't have 1/4 cup of soy yogurt, I thought that an equal amount of additional soymilk would do just fine. Geez, with the juice of two lemons, I was sure that all of the recipe's soymilk would curdle like yogurt!

But somehow, something went wrong. Very wrong... see below:

"It must just be these first four waffles that are messed up," I told Kyle.

The next four showed some improvment (at least the waffles weren't split into two), but they still weren't looking right.

The final two waffles confirmed that something had gone wrong. Since my waffle maker has the most annoying 'beep' to signal that it's done, I knew that I hadn't opened it too early. I think my substitutions had the best of me.

Ah well, they still tasted good, despite the fact that they looked like some dead sea creature.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hawaii Five Oh!

Our littlest Princess hit the big number five over the weekend, and selected a tropical theme for her party. While having six other princesses over for the afternoon seemed like a mistake at the time, the day turned out to be a success, complete with fashion show, limbo competition and gift-opening brawl. Special thanks go out to the parents of the kids who kindly gifted Princess with real makeup and Bratz dolls.

For lunch, we started with a main course of vegetarian Hawaiian pizza with fresh pineapple and veggie bacon, but it turns out that kids really just want plain pizza.

For the family affair in the evening, we had salads, starting with Vegan Hot German Potato Salad.

This recipe is an old family fav from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, made with Yves Veggie Bacon. I always boil the potatoes in cubed form because I'm lazy, but Mom made this so I don't know what she did.

Next up was Spinach-Mushroom Salad with a french-type dressing.

Not-so-Tropical Spinach Salad Dressing

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup organic ketchup
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1/4 onion
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp vegan worchestershire sauce

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.

I found the spinach really absorbed the dressing, so don't add the dressing until immediately before serving. Unfortunately I didn't think to take pics until the folks had dug into the buffet.

Our final salad was Sarah's marinated edamame salad that she blogged about. I love bean salads.

For dessert, Princess pre-selected Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from VCTOTW, topped with Vegan Buttercream Frosting tinted pink and orange.

These were really good, but I suspect even better with the pineapple-cherry topping as written in the book.

The evening ended with a rousing Hawaiian-Irish-Yogic harmonica solo by Princess that defies description.

Awful Pics, But Yummy Food

Since my last post, I made so many yummy things. This summer, I want to make more alternative salads - I'm getting tired of the greens, and want to make more bean and grain salads. Of course, I started off by making two outstanding salads, and gobbled them down so quickly that I forgot to pull out my camera.

However, May/June's VT featured a section on marinated salads, and I managed to take a snapshot of the edamame salad that was featured. It was OK, but next time, I'll throw in some garlic for added flavour. I didn't find the overnight marinade really added that much flavour. I also subbed chickpeas instead of the red beans since I'm not a fan of those.

Last night, I craved tofu fingers, so I used a recipe from the Vegetarian Family Cookbook to make Tofu Nuggets. I really liked them! This was the first time I used a finer grind cornmeal, and the results were much better than when I tried similar recipes in the past. The fine cornmeal stuck to the tofu much better. I ate them for lunch cut up with a spinach salad, then dunked them in ketchup for dinner. Tasty!