Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Vegan Yum Yum and Vcon

I pretty much relied on the aforementioned two books for this week's menu:

Monday - Easy dinner...PC Meatless Breaded Chicken Strips with homemade baked french fries. It was a busy day without much prep time. I often marvel why anyone would buy bagged frozen french fries since they are ridiculously easy to make from scratch at home - slice a few potatoes up, put on a greased cookie sheet, spray with oil and add salt and roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or so.

Tuesday - Hurry Up Alfredo - Delicious! Very easy and speedy. Although I cooked up way too many noodles that there wasn't much sauce :(

Wednesday - Alphabet Soup - so this one was from Nava Atlas' Vegetarian Family Cookbook. I love how easy this is and with using whole wheat alphabet noodles, we can work on spelling with Ash as she gobbles it up. Great for a guaranteed hit if she's eaten like crap all day.

Thursday - Baked Mac 'n' Cheese - another hit from Vegan Yum Yum! Kyle and I held a throwdown as he had invited some non-veg friends over for dinner and I think he was a little uncomfortable in serving them vegan food. So he used Tyler Florence's Ultimate Mac and Cheese recipe while I made this version. It was a friendly competition - neither of us tried to sabotage the other's creation by any means. As for the winner - he said it's a tie, but all I can say is that I had barely any leftover while he had nearly a whole pot left :)

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Baked Pumpkin Ziti - wow, I don't know what I was up to when I made this meal plan in advance. Nearly three variations of mac and cheese! I used to love this dish and still do, but for the amount of work it takes, I'd be happy just making the alfredo or other baked mac and cheese recipe from VYY.

Sunday - Chickpea Romesco - I love this recipe! I had forgotten to stock up on roasted red peppers, so I'm glad that we made it out to pick some up so that I could make this! While out, we also bought some vegan white chocolate chips from the kosher section from Loblaws at College Square (thanks Vaalea!). Instead of using canned tomatoes for this recipe, I used up the last of our homemade roasted tomatoes. We bought a pile of tomatoes from the Parkdale Market, cut them in half and placed them cut side down on an oiled cookie sheet, brushed with more olive oil and roasted them for eons in the oven. They turned out great! Much more flavourful than regular tomatoes but not as concentrated as sundried tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


My god. As if Tracy nor I haven't posted in months. And not just one month...almost 7 of them!

On my end, I'm pretty busy with the toddler and the newborn. I was all ultra-pumped that Kyle bought me an iPhone - here I was, all set to be able to write up posts while I nurse, and efficiently upload my pics right from my phone. Either I'm totally not tech-savvy, or it's not possible, as it looks like I can't upload from my phone after all :(

That said, I'm committed to sharing my weekly meal plans sans photos. I don't recall ever receiving any real compliments on my photography anyways - there are so many other bloggers with awesome cameras and skills! With a fussy toddler and a little one that's always seeming to be hungry, I have even less time to make meals. So I will post my comments around what I made during the week from recipes that are totally speedy, tasty and most importantly, well-balanced.

Speaking of well-balanced, I seem to squeeze fun baking in there too. My daughter is all into cooking, so we often make muffins, cupcakes and cookies (often = everyday). I will never be out of my maternity wear at this rate! My big obsession right now is finding less sugary stuff - as my daughter barely sleeps as it is and I really don't need to add sugar to fuel the fire. I'm sick of icing sugar and so excited to get my Clear Jel from Viva Granola so that I can try this recipe. Babycakes frosting recipe is too unreliable, so I'm hoping this will be my new replacement for buttercream!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Things I've Made Lately

Other than working my way through Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Veganomicon (which will take me a number of years) I've made a couple of things from some newly-acquired cookbooks.

The Urban Vegan

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup - Kid-friendly and full of Vitamin A. Very easy beyond chopping root vegetables.

Spaghetti Alle Melanzane - This is my kind of comfort food. Savoury tangy eggplant tossed with pasta. Delicious after a long run.

Triple Sesame Salad Dressing - A creamy-salty-tangy dressing without any associated garlic breath. This was so yummy atop an avocado-sprout green salad.

Quiche Du Jour (Spinach & Sun-dried Tomato Combo) - Excellent crust. Tasty but my quiche didn't set.

Better Than Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries - Hearty healthy pancakes that didn't give me a sugar high. Used spelt flour.

Brownie Bites - Tasted awesome but were too delicate to get out of the muffin tin (both silicone and sprayed teflon). So I served brownie crumble topped with vanilla soy ice cream. Nobody complained.

Citrus-Scented Blueberry Muffins - I love muffins. These were light and fluffy.

Lorna Sass' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen

Hot and Zesty Black Bean Soup - So easy and so good! Packed with protein, which I had been craving.

I have a very long list of other recipes from these two books that I'd like to try. Most of the recipes are fairly straight-forward, which I appreciate after a long day of working and running.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gluten-Free V-day

This year, we celebrated all the toddlers’ birthdays on Valentine’s Day. Given a few allergies and intolerances here and there, I decided to make VCTOTW’s gluten free cuppies – with 10 of the 12 vanilla ones topped with this sugar-free frosting (I’m getting sick of icing sugar…and it’s not especially great for the little ones anyways) and the chocolate ones topped with chocolate tofu mousse.

I also couldn’t go without also recognizing Valentines’ Day, so I teamed up the cute little valentines for Ash’s little buds with goodie bags filled with more gluten-free treats. Seeking something both nut-free and gluten-free and healthy at the same time, I came across these toddler treats. I have to admit that I was sceptical, because the uncooked dough didn’t taste all that great. But once baked, delicious! I did use mini-chocolate chips instead of raisins, thereby upping the sugar but I hope also the taste value. I don't have a pic for some reason, but they looked EXACTLY like how they turned out on the website with the recipe.

I had hoped to try sculpting those cookies into hearts to suit the theme, but it wouldn’t have cut it. And Ash and I sampled so many that we didn’t have enough for all of the goodie bags! So I broke out my copy of VCIYCJ (I hadn’t tried anything yet!) and went to make the gluten-free version of their roll-out sugar cookies. I was going to use their recipe for Gluten Frida, but it called for coconut flour which is a no-no for one of the kiddos. So I pulled out my bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Blend and subbed it 1:1 with a ¼ tsp of xanthan gum. The dough still seemed very wet, but once chilled and rolled out with more GF flour, I had no problems. They baked up great! I just wish that I could get over that GF taste – some flours seems a little beany. But I’m hoping the kids don’t mind! When Ash sampled it, she didn’t seem to notice and told me it was yummy in her tummy.

Between writing this post and actually posting it, it looks like we're having to modify Ash's diet to not include soy, gluten, corn and sugar until we figure out what's causing her so many I'm thinking my food prep challenges are about to increase! Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ashy's Second B-day!

Last year, I did cupcakes, but now that Ash is two, she has a keen understanding what birthdays are all about – cake, candles and presents. Given that I couldn’t simply grab a cake from the store since there aren’t a lot of vegan options around, and I didn’t have the extra cash to outsource the production of a vegan themed cake, I decided to make one – and a big one at that to serve almost 20 people.

I bought 2 9x13 pans, with the goal of stacking the cake so I could serve more people. I had looked at converting other recipes to suit this pan format, but decided to go with something tried and true – Vcon’s Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake. I made the recipe twice in two separate bowls (good idea from my mom, as there’s so much batter that I wouldn’t have had a bowl big enough to mix 2 batches at once!) and baked for about 40-45 minutes, as per this site’s recommendations. It turned out great! I decided to freeze the layers on two separate cookie sheets as I made it the day before the party and find it easier to ice frozen cakes anyways.

And now here’s where my history of birthday disasters begins. I’m not sure what happened. I looked for a frosting with little sugar…maybe agave? All seemed too glaze-like and not fitting my image for what the cake would look like. Again, trying to stick to my tried-and-true mantra, I thought that I would make the same chocolate mousse topping that I did for my mom’s bday, but since I didn’t want to give Ash that this time, I thought I’d use the vegan white chocolate chips I had bought from my overly-expensive Vegan Essentials order last year. I should have noted that the term ‘Decorator's Chips’ is not the same as ‘chocolate chips’ or ‘baking chocolate’. Even though the ingredient listing is only sugar and cocoa butter, these things are waaaayyy to oily to bake with. It might turn out OK in the use of cookies, but once melted, they take on a grainy feel. It was disaster when I mixed them with the silken tofu in my food processor. After Kyle suggested mixing it up better with my immersion blender, things seemed OK – until the morning of the party.

The mousse was a gloopy mess. I tried mixing half of the ‘mousse’ with icing sugar, but I would have needed about 10 lbs of icing sugar just to get the runny mess to be a firm frosting. So I scrapped that and tried to think of another plan. I could go with VCTOTW’s buttercream frosting, but I would want to cut the sweetness with a different middle layer. I then tried heating the other half of the mousse and adding a little cornstarch and coconut extract, thinking I might be able to salvage it and make a coconut cream. Again, these damn chips stayed grainy and it was an even bigger disaster than trying to make the mousse. So I scrapped that too. I then decided to make the same lemon curd I made for my cake this year, and use all Earth Balance for the buttercream frosting (two batches required!). Everything then turned out perfectly. With everything ice cold, the filling didn’t seep out, and I could ice the cake with no issues. I wish I had time to pipe something more elaborate, but Ash was happy with the simplicity of the decorations.

Unfortunately, the disaster didn’t end there. I used the bread recipe Tracy shared with me and attempted to use it for pizza dough. I thought it was pretty runny, but I then stupidly covered it to rise using a dry tea towel. Obviously when I went to bake it, I tore away about half of the dough. Tracy told me it was good, but I’m convinced that she was just being nice.

All in all, I think everyone had fun – especially the birthday girl.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mami!

To borrow the title of one of Ash's fave stories...

It’s been so long that I’ve downloaded pics off the camera that I can’t really remember this day all that well. All I know is that I made the Butternut Squash Penne with Sage Pesto and Almonds dish from Skinny B*tch (with chicken tenders, of course) and mom liked it! Tracy also brought some delicious bread – she is now tasked with being the bread baker for our family events! I did end up trying to make my own at a later date:

For her cake, I think I used the chocolate cuppie recipe from VCTOTW and doubled it to make 2 8-inch layers. I used chocolate tofu mousse topping to fill the layers and ice the top, but nearly ran out to do the sides of the cake. So with whatever I had leftover for the mousse, I added melted chocolate chips to make a thick mousse-like ganache. I ‘pasted’ it on the sides and it was good! Definitely mom (and Ashley)-approved!

Mom also revealed that she’s considering adopting a vegetarian diet. I think Tracy nearly fell off her chair. This is after she became violently ill after eating at The Keg. Now that she’s over her illness, I’ll have to follow up on the status of her potential diet change…

Saturday, January 02, 2010


We went to Rainbow Foods before the holidays to pick up a few things for Christmas baking and while perusing the tofu case for new Gardein products I spotted a tub of what was called "Motappa" - a sort of lentil hummus. I popped it into our basket for taking to one of the inevitable four days of Christmas events. I couldn't get enough of it. Since I only get to Rainbow periodically, I tried to re-create the dip myself.

Motappa Dip

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 large carrots, chopped
1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 small onion
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 small tomato, peeled and chopped
2 tblsp tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tblsp brown sugar
3 tsp sea salt, divided

Slice eggplant into 1/2” thick slices and toss with 2 tsp sea salt. After 15 minutes, rinse.
Place lentils and carrots in small saucepan and add water to cover (at least 2-3 cups). Boil for 30-40 minutes until lentils are soft. Drain.
Slice zucchini and onion into 1/2” thick slices and place on baking sheet with eggplant. Brush both sides with olive oil. Roast at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning once. When cool, peel skin off eggplant and zucchini.
Chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add lentil-carrot mixture and roasted veggies, tomatoes, tahini, lemon juice, sugar and 1 tsp sea salt. Puree until smooth.

Serve with pitas, raw veggies, or however you like to eat hummus.