Monday, March 28, 2011

A Prelude to 21

A little story: I drafted a post over a week ago about brownie sundaes. I've made two recipes. Both left something to be desired. So the post is still a work in progress. I really want the perfect brownie. Or maybe I'll write a post about how I'm really conflicted between what I want in a brownie. At any rate, be prepared for some discussion of brownies.

Vegetables being sauteed before adding the quinoa! They cooked down in some vegetable stock before the quinoa joined the party and absorbed all the aromatic flavor. Quinoa deserves exclamation points!

The dishes originated from three creations: a southern-inspired tester recipe for the new HH cookbook as well as a sauce that I've made once before, and Evan's Quinoa Dressing. I made the recipe as described, except with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. I didn't find the recipe especially flavorful or irresistible as Evan described it. It wasn't the best quinoa I've ever made, but it was good.

I liked this quinoa recipe for Indian Samosa Quinoa much better that I made last week. It had lots of great flavor and seasoning.

The next morning, for breakfast, I enjoyed Angela's Double Chocolate Sweet Potato Oatmeal. If she can put all of those amazing ingredients together and call it a healthy breakfast, I'll take it. It was absolutely fantastic. Surprisingly not too rich. I love being able to justify chocolate for breakfast.

Jaws says hi! She's enjoying a fruity alcohol concoction from CPK, where we went last week. And I'll be enjoying many things of the alcohol persuasion from Wednesday through the weekend as that's when I turn 21. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

AFR: Bistro Broccoli Chowder

I made this last week. I'm forgetful and forgot to blog. I also forgot to take a picture! I don't know why, because this was a brilliant recipe. What an awesome combination of flavors. It was rich and creamy and savory and healthy. WINNER WINNER VEGAN SOUP FOR DINNER! =]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AFR: Hottie Black Eyed Peas & Greens

I typed out Hottie and keep wanting to say "Hootie"! Hootie, Hoo! If you're a top chef fan, you'd get it. I'm sad about Carla being gone, she's so cheerful and creative.

As I was eating this tasty Southern dish, I said to myself "I can't believe I'm eating something that is actually healthy!" This was really, really good. I used collards that held up well to the hot sauce, and the creaminess of the black-eyed peas is excellent. The onions/garlic add a nice depth, as they do in nearly every AFR creation. I can tell Isa loves them, and I do as well. Overall a very satisfying meal! I went back for seconds.

Pictured on the side is a tester recipe for the next HH book.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Turning a side dish into a dessert!

The reason I haven't been posting often, or making AFR recipes as often, is because I've been recipe testing for the next Happy Herbivore cookbook. I've been a huge fan of the first book and was excited to meet Lindsay last month at a brunch meetup in DC. She recently asked me to join a group of testers for her new book and I couldn't say no! I prepared eight recipes last week and several were beyond stellar. I can't wait until she debuts the new book!

Above is just one of many easy and healthy everyday meals I've made! I served the entree with its appropriate sauce, an easy cold salad side, and then some mashed sweet potatoes. I quickly threw together the mashed sweets by cutting them into a small dice and throwing them into boiling water -- they cooked in about 15 minutes! I simply mashed them with a splash of non-dairy milk and added salt and pepper when serving.

I'm not one to miss out on dessert. I love something sweet. Most of the time I use dessert as an incentive to cleaning up the kitchen, but while I was about to scoop the leftover mashed sweets into a container, I thought I should whip up a quick dessert and take advantage of something already cooked!

Sweet Potatoes Turned Dessert
1/2 c. cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp pecans, roughly chopped
cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt to taste
non-dairy milk
10 Dandies marshmallow

Stir together the sweet potatoes, most of the brown sugar, pecans, and spices together in a microwave safe bowl. You may want to mash all of your sweets if you left them somewhat chunky. Add in non-dairy milk as needed to achieve desired consistency (just a splash or so). Top with Dandies on top and then a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. Microwave for 1 minute, watching the Dandies closely. You'll want them mostly melted through. Allow to cool slightly, then enjoy a revamped version of sweet potato casserole that you threw together in minutes.

I purchased Dandies a few weeks ago when they were on sale at Whole Foods. I thought they tasted very dense and awkward on their own, but when cooked, they taste exactly the same as regular marshmallows!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I turned my kitchen into a boutique vegan bakery!

I had a lot of fun yesterday afternoon catching up with Natalie and Sasha. I love baking, as does Sasha, so we always planned on getting together and making up vegan treats! Her brother is dairy-free so she is fairly experienced in dairy substitutes but was looking for suggestions. Natalie is pseudo-vegan and is virtually a garbage disposal when it comes to food so she had to come along. Her birthday is also this Friday!

I have had my eye on Chloe Coscarelli's winning recipe on Cupcake Wars since she published it months ago. I've had it bookmarked since JUNE but never had an occasion to tackle a difficult, multi-step dessert recipe. A Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcake just sounds decadent. It consists of a fairly ordinary vanilla cupcake, filled with a robust coffee flavored syrup and then a raspberry sauce. It is then topped off with an espresso buttercream that will not last by any means. It was INSANELY good. Very rich, not something I would indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasion? Sure.

We also made Lemon Bars from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Joy of Vegan Baking. They were very good as well. The lemon curd base is from silken tofu, but this is a baked item that you cannot detect the tofu taste at all. The pastry crust is soft and tasty, but the lemon topping is fresh and tart.

Sasha made a creative slideshow that I can't seem to copy/paste here. I'm a bit technically challenged. At any rate, you'll see some top rate food p0rn if you head over to her tumblr. She was my food photographer for the day! :]

Monday, March 7, 2011

AFR: Curry Laksa

I made this recipe last week but wanted to post about it after I had actually finished its leftovers and that didn't happen until lunch today.

Doesn't that bowl look so flavorful? The combination of textures and spices works harmoniously. Red curry paste works wonders, as I said after making the Red Thai Tofu, and it gives a rich color plus depth to the dish. Aromatic ginger, onion, and garlic lend great flavor and scent. My favorite part had to be the bok choy, though. I don't believe I have ever had bok choy. Now, it was probably in some form in a stir fry or other asian dish I have ordered before, but I have never purchased it and combined it in a dish, although I've seen it used in many cooking shows. It was magnificent. The diced bok choy absorb all the flavor and tasted so good when cooked (as Isa advises) and are braised to perfection. I LOVED the flavor and could not get enough bok choy. The leaves are gently wilted by the broth and provide nice texture.

The tofu was so-so. The method in which they were prepared did not lend much to the dish. I enjoy tofu best when it takes on other flavors, not when it tastes like tofu. The noodles were medicore. I've never cooked with rice noodles before, and I'm not quite sure if I either undercooked or overcooked them, but this dish would have been just as good (if not better) over some brown rice. Overall, a great dish with some drawbacks. Leftover, the noodles were extremely soggy and did not reheat well. Oddly enough, even after 2 days in the refrigerator, the tofu neglected to absorb additional flavor. Stubborn tofu! ASSHOLE.

Friday, March 4, 2011

AFR: Caesar Salad, Eggplant Bacon, Caesar Chavez Dressing

In the words of one of my co-workers, OH. MY. LANTA.
This recipe is AMAZING. This is legitimately one of the most delicious salads I've ever prepared. And it came together in under half an hour!

I don't think this picture does it justice, but you can see that the dressing coats the lettuce like a real caesar would. I thought the flavor of the dressing was spot-on caesar, but it lacked a creamy texture that I am accustomed to. That being said, for a recipe that includes no vegenaise or anything of that sort, it is impressive. Natural ingredients like cashews, tahini, and miso really do work magic in terms of a creamy consistency.

The eggplant bacon is insanely good. You will eat all of it. I promise. My only complaint? There's very little protein to make this a "meal". Something tells me I'll live.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Today I overhauled the appearance of my blog. I played around with a lot of new features and complemented the new color scheme I selected last week.

Maybe next week I'll start actually posting pictures! :O

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

AFR: Pad Thai Salad w/ Red Tofu & Peanut Dressing.

The Vegan Cookbook Club has moved on to Book #2!
First dish for me: Pad Thai Salad. The flavors of a great pad thai dish over fresh crisp greens sounded quite delicious to me.

The Pad Thai Salad (33) had great flavors. With crisp veggies, nice acidity, and crunchy peanuts, it was a great combination for a salad. I need to write an "about me" so I can let you know how I probably eat fewer salads than any other vegan/vegetarian/veggie-loving fiend. I just don't enjoy raw veggies very much. Nevertheless, the actual salad ingredients themselves made for a "winning" combination (in the words of Charlie Sheen, lol...)

The Red Thai Tofu (149) was a suggested topper to the salad, so I went with it. I ate the meal for lunch but wanted something very filling (again, add this to my reason for disliking salads). The red curry paste is DYNAMITE. If you haven't used this yet, find it at your grocery store (or specialty/asian store) and USE IT IN SOMETHING. It really gives an earthy and savory while spicy thai element that is absolutely necessary. The other ingredients in this dish meld nicely. I will be making this again!

The Peanut Lime-Dragon Dressing (34) was a flop, for me at least. I liked the idea of a more textured dressing with the chopped peanuts, but it did not add to the flavor, which made this seem like a watery dressing with chunks of peanuts and some lime. I added more sriracha and still didn't like it very much. SO, I took it upon myself to better the recipe. I added in a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter as well as some rice vinegar and it tasted significantly better. I think a peanut sauce (or dressing) is dependent upon PB. Even this slight amount is not going to add a ridiculous amount of fat. The lime came through more pleasantly, the heat from the Sriracha complemented the creaminess of the PB nicely.

My recommendation (and what I'll do next time)? Make the dressing while the tofu is cooking through. Pour the dressing over the tofu while it is still in the pan, allowing the two sauces to meld together into one beautiful, nutty and spicy sauce. Serve over the salad, allowing it to beautifully wilt and the veggies to absorb some excellent flavor.