Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Vegan's Wedding

So even though my wedding was almost 3 months ago (wow..where did the past 3 months go?!) I'm finally finding some free time to blog!
I've definitely been cooking and eating at some amazing places lately, so I'll have much to catch up on writing about.
I'll share my wedding moments with you first though! :)

The day before my wedding was spent running around with my maid of honor doing a couple of last minute things. Nothing stressful - getting mani & pedi's and prepping myself!
We had our rehearsal at the country club at 4:30, which went fine!

My something blue's! :)

Followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Dueling Kurtz House in Exton. I had eaten there twice before and although their menu doesn't have anything really vegan on it, they made me a delicious butternut squash risotto both times and it's been great! They made it for all the vegetarians that were at the dinner as well.

Jason's mom made the cute table names and place cards for all of the guests. It was a great idea and was really cute on the tables! she had named each of the tables after places we had been together, of course Jamaica hadn't happend yet but it was where our honeymoon was going to be!

^Us at the rehearsal dinner.

The rest of the evening we went out to a local bar with our bridal party and other people who were in the area to celebrate our last night before being married! It was great spending time with everyone but I was ready for the next day!!
That night I did manage to get a couple of hours of sleep, and my sister Emily, maid of honor Emily, and bridesmaid Kate all stayed with me that night which was great!

The morning we woke up pretty early, and ventured out to Target to get some coffee and last minute things for our "brunch" at the salon!

We were to be at the salon by 9:00 so I had made muffins and gotten some fruit to munch on while we were getting our hair & make up done.

The bridesmaids all dolled up! :)

After getting to the country club, they were nice enough to supply some wraps for the bridal party and make me a special veggie wrap!

My bridal party helped me get dressed and prepped for the ceremony!

We then had photo shoots around the country club with our fabulous photographer, Tiffany Atlas.

My wonderful bridesmaids :)

We had our pictures done before the ceremony, so yes we saw eachother before we walked down the aisle, but it was very romantic and special to have our own moment seeing eachother in private before the ceremony :) Made me so much less nervous as well seeing him beforehand!

The ceremony went wonderfully. My aunt and Jason's friend Tim both had readings in the ceremony that we chose, as well as a song that we had the audience sing a verse from. We also had a sand ceremony instead of the traditional unity candle. The sand worked out great and now we have the pieces of it to decorate our home.

I'll post about the rest of the wedding in my next post! The cocktail hour, dinner, and of course the CAKE! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The knot will be tied :)

This vegan is getting married this saturday...9/10/11

Thus the blog & blogworld will be neglected for a bit! I have much to think about/get married/go on honeymoon to Jamaica!

See you in a few weeks!!

^^What we based our cake off of, will be much different though! :)
And of course, vegan. Vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse and vegan white cake with raspberry mousse. Yum! :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vegan 23rd Birthday!

I had my 23rd birthday last thursday (August 25th) and it was a wonderful day from the night before to the end of the evening.

The night before my birthday, Jason & I met with our DJ to finalize all the music details, which was very successful and I'm really excited for the music that will accompany our wedding reception!

Also Wednesday night, I made the Tofu Saag Paneer from Skinny Bitch, although it was AWESOME (even Jason thought so!) I did not take a picture. The blended spinach with coconut milk made it look very unappetizing(think baby food), so we just ate with our eyes closed and it was delicious anyway :)

That night Jason wanted to give me my birthday presents early (even though I said I should wait!!) and they were all wonderful! The Adele CD, Just Dance 2 on Wii (SOO much fun!), the dkny golden delicious perfume and lotion, a bottle of grey goose (classssy alcohol haha), an H&M giftcard, and a car charger for my phone!! All awesome gifts. He's pretty amazing. Oh, and one more thing which i'll get to in a minute..

Thursday, my actual birthday, was spent at work doing medication training. Not the most exciting thing, but when I went upstairs to see my clients and grab a bottle of water, they all sang to me and I had a TON of birthday cards they all hand made me throughout the day sitting on my desk. They really do make you feel like Miss America..I love it. :)

When I went home for my lunch break I got a knock on the door from the florist that is doing our wedding, with a beautiful sunflower bouquet from my parents!

Thursday after I got home, I met Jason in Wayne to go to White Dog Cafe for dinner. I've been wanting to try this place for a while and they recently opened a location in Wayne. They also have one in center city, Philadelphia.

Despite having a 6:30 reservation on a thursday, it was pretty empty! It did have a few tables in the first room filled up as well as on the other wall from where we were sitting. It did get much busier around 7:30 or so.

We of course started with some delicious birthday wine - a Reisling, which is my favorite kind of wine!

We started with the Vegetable Antipasto.
The site states it as "local seasonal vegetables, herb infused oil, saba, true leaf microgreens."

It was really delicious and had golden beets, regular beets, tomatoes, a puree of vegetables..

Compliments of the chef, we received glasses of gazpacho which was delicious and I've love to order this next time as a starter!

For my entree, I chose the Cashew Crusted Tofu, which the site lists as it comes with "buckwheat noodles, red chile aoili, asian vegetable slaw, and ginger soy sauce." Our server informed us that the red chile aoili was not vegan, so that was left off.

The tofu was really good and the vegetable slaw was perfectly seasoned. I thought the entire dish was wonderful, and I know that they change up their menu according to the seasons, so I'd be excited to go back and try some of their other vegan offerings in the fall!

Jason also got me a vegan birthday cake from Whole Foods!!

This was AMAZING!!
The chocolate mouse icing was phenomenal and the cake was moist and still very moist and decadent days after for leftovers!

My birthday was definitely a fabulous one and my last one as a single lady ;)

Monday, August 1, 2011

stay young, go dancing

Thanks to my fiance's family having an amazing garden and an abundance of fresh summer vegetables, it's been quite easy to have delicious produce with our meals lately!
When we left from NJ the other weekend, we left with a ton of zucchini, yellow squash, the sweetest cherry tomatoes ever, eggplant, and a few regular tomatoes.
I was hesitant at first to take the eggplant.. a) i've never cooked with eggplant and b) i'm not sure i really like eggplant.
I love baba ganoush, definitely, but grilled or on a plate I've usually never really been a fan. although i always try to be!

I tried to think up something to make that would utilize a bit of all the vegetables into one dish, I definitely don't want them going bad! I did freeze some of the squash which will be great for quick meals, but the zucchini & tomatoes I didn't want to freeze.

I figured a ratatouille would be perfect! I love using Whole Food's website to find inspiration for recipes, and their summer harvest ratatouille sounded perfect!

Summer Harvest Ratatouille:
1 bell pepper, seeded cored, cut into thick wedges
1 eggplant, cut into 3'4" slices
1 yellow squash, cut into 3/4"slices
1 zucchini, cut into 3/4" slices
1/2 c water
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/6 t red pepper flakes'
1 T oregano
1/4 c fresh chopped basil
1 T dried parsley
1/2 T red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready, place peppers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini on sheet. Bake, turning once halfway through cooking, moving to the bottom shelf if originally on upper, until browned (about 30 minutes.) Cool slightly, then chop.

Meanwhile, pour water in heavy pot, add tomatoes, onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Add chopped roasted veggies to pot, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in basil, parsley and vinegar and cook for 5 more minutes.

This dish was divine! We both enjoyed it and the fresh vegetables made it even better.
I definitely love the summer vegetables out now and see zucchini pasta in the near future ! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Showers!..vegan style ;)

Over the past month or so I was lucky enough to have two awesome bridal showers for my upcoming wedding! (44 days and counting!!)

My first was in June in long island, NY with a lot of my family from that area.
I know firsthand that Long Island is hard to find vegan-friendly establishments, so I was excited to see what my mom had planned and come up with!
Where she picked definitely did not dissapoint..

I knew the shower was that day, so I got ready with my mom & sis in the morning and Jason drove me over to the place in the afternoon.
It was at New Grand Buffet in Islandia, and it was a really great time.

The theme was cherry blossom

It all looked so beautiful and the decorations and favors were wonderful!

The buffet didnt offer toooo many vegan options, but the staff brought our a personal plate of veggie sushi rolls and they also had a teriyaki station where you could choose just about any vegetable and they stir fried it in this amazing sauce! It was definitely easy to find something vegan friendly here, I loved the idea of a buffet so everyone can get what they really want!

My mom also went to the trouble to order a vegan cake for the shower! She got chocolate with a Delicious peanut butter frosting. it was realllly good!

Also - the favors were cherry blossom candles as well as vegan chocolate wedding rings!

The shower was great and it was so wonderful to see family and have everyone there!

My 2nd shower was this past weekend -- and not only was it awesome, but it was a COMPLETE surprise!! I thought I was going to Jason's family's place for the weekend and stopping by a pampered chef party on saturday at his sister's..little did I know it was actually a bridal shower for me! I'm not the biggest fan of surprises (that whole having to be in control thing...) but this was definitely a great one!!

Me with some of the ladies from the shower..sorority friends, girlfriends, my mom! I was so surprised to see everybody!

The food was AWESOME! Emily ( my maid of honor aka my bff!) had catering done from Miss Rachel's Pantry which I have heard about numerous times on blogs and everywhere saying how GREAT it is.. it did NOT dissapoint!

These were the vegan BLT bites - toasted bread with smokey coconut "bacon" tomato and lettuce..
And the Pizettes with roasted tomato, olive tapenade and arugula...

These were the amazing vegan quesadillas with mango salsa!

She also made vegan seitan skewers with pineapple and grape tomatoes, I didn't get a pic of those though!

Uhh, can you say YUM?! I wish I worked in center city to get in on her lunch club!

The desserts definitely did not dissapoint either!

My friend Kate, who is one of my bridesmaids(!!) made the delicious vegan cupcakes! It was her first vegan baking adventure, and she did an amazing job! I was lucky enough to try both flavors ;)

Emily's mom went to vegan baking as well -- and made delicious lemon cookies and heart shaped sugar cookies, which were both SO delicious!

All of the fabulous vegan candy didn't heart either ;)

Both of my showers were definitely wonderful and will be things I will remember forever as great moments with such supportive friends && family. I'm truly a lucky gal to have such great people in my life!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oh, sing one we know

For a while now at my old apartment and now my new one, I've been getting the magazine Vegetarian Times, thanks to my fiance who ordered it for me :)

I always love looking through them and bookmarking recipes that I can't wait to make.
They always seem to fall to the back burner though, and I have so many issues that it's hard to go back to see what I truly want to make.

I made two the past couple of weeks from two different issues that were definitely "blog worthy."

The first one was from the May/June 2010 issue! This whole issue was jam packed with recipes that I wanted to make.
I actually chose one that wasn't even vegan! Of course, I vegan-ized it but subbing the cheese with vegan cheese.

The magazine had a whole section on "packets". these being food you put into aluminum foil packets and bake it and it comes out cooked and delicious!
I chose the "Tomato Mozzarella Packets with Polenta"
I have yet to cook with polenta prior to making this, i've only ever had it out and loved it but was intimidated by the packaging in grocery stores to even know what to do with it!

This was a VERY simple recipe and paired with a side of mixed greens, made a delicious meal!

Tomato-Mozzarella Pakcets with Polenta:
1 16 oz tube prepared garlic-herb polenta, cut into 16 slices. (I used sundried tomato)
2 large tomatoes, each cut into 8 slices
16 pitted olives (I omitted this)
4 tsp garlic olive oil (I just mixed olive oil with garlic powder)
2 t balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried italian herbs
4 oz (1 cup) shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (i used vegan gourmet)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 4 16" lengths of aluminum foil on work surface. Fold foil in half from short side. Unfold. Shape corners and edges of one half into semicircular "bowls" with 1/2 inch sides. Coat insides with cooking spray.
Place 4 polenta slices, slightly overlapping in each foil semicircle. Arrange 4 tomato slices over polenta. Drizzle each serving with 1 tsp garlic olive oil and 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegarn, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp italian herbs, season with salt and pepper. Top each with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Fold other half of foil over ingredients, and seal edges in overlapping folds until packets are sealed. Transfer to baking sheet and bake 25-30 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from oven, and transfer packets to serving plates.
It will be hot when you open them, and it was easiest for me to dump them upside down (that's why you don't see the cheese in my photo, it was on the bottom from flipping it )

I would definitely make these again, they were a super easy, delicious meal! i'm trying to find more things to do with polenta now!

The other recipe I recently made was from the Vegetarian Times recent issue - the July/August 2011 magazine. this magazine also had a TON of recipes I'm planning on making soon!!

I made the Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna first from it. Since I already had vegan cheese from the polenta left over, I wanted to use it up instead of ending up staying in the fridge too long and throwing it out!

This recipe was quick, easy, and I loved using zucchini instead of the traditional pasta noodles!!

Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna: (serves 6..I halved it for the two of us, and still had leftovers for lunch!)
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 12 1/4 inch thick slices
1 t salt
2 c low sodium broth
1 c quinoa
1/2 c tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 t dried oregano
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 25 oz jar marinara sauce
1/2 c shredded vegan mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place zucchini slices on bed of paper towels and sprinkle with salt, then cover with paper towels and let stand to release moisture.
Bring broth, quinoa, tomato sauce, onion, and oregano to a boil in saucepan.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and summer 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, parsley, and cream cheese if using.
Spoon 1/3 cup marinar sauce over bottom of 8 inch square baking dish. Blot remaining moisture and salt from zucchini slices and lay 4 zucchini slices over marinara sauce in pain. Spoon half of quinoa over zucchini, and cover with 1/3 cup marinara. Repeat with 4 more zucchini slices, remaining quinoa, and 1/3 cup marinara. Top with the rest of stuff and the shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the top is bubbly.

This recipe was awesome, hands down. It's from the blog section of the magazine,and from blog!
I hadn't heard of that blog until the magazine came out, so it introduced me to a new blog to read up on all the time! :)

I'm glad I've been trying more recipes from Veg Times, it really is such a great magazine to have! Their cookbook has been really great to flip through as well! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

i don't know what i'm looking for but i know that i want to look some more

When life (or your mom) hands you a big bag of blueberries..
you make blueberry muffins!

In reference to the blueberries that my mother and I picked a few weekends ago while I was home, I wasn't sure how I could use them all up without wasting the delicious berries if they went bad!
Sure I could freeze some, but fresh, picked yourself blueberries deserve to be eaten sans freezer!

Jason requested blueberry muffins for quick breakfasts throughout the week..what a fab idea!

I went over a few muffin recipes, before finally going to my favorite baking cookbook.
The Joy of Vegan Baking.
this book has never failed me!
i've made quite a lot of the recipes from it, and they have all been stellar results.
These muffins were no exception!

Can you tell that sunflowers are my favorite yet? ;)

Blueberry Lemon Muffins:
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk (i used unsweetened almond breeze)
1/3 cup canola oil (i used vegetable, and only 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoons lemon extract (i didnt have this..)
1 tablespoon of white vinegar (i used apple cider)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, milk, oil, extract, and vinegar. mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed. Don't overstir!
Gently fold in blueberries with a rubber spatula.
Fill muffin tins 2/3rd fulls.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 22 minutes.
Let cool before devouring ;)

They were great and lasted a while, even after keeping them in the fridge after a few days.
Joy of vegan baking never lets me down :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

days pass and turn into weeks

A few weekends ago I went down to Salisbury MD to visit with my parents, go to my friend's wedding, and have my own bridal dress fitting!
It was a very eventful weekend and was plan filled!

The dress fitting went great! Luckily, the dress that is 10 sizes too big can be adjusted to fit me..what a relief! We've already bought it and I fell in love with it so it's great that it will work!!

After the dress fitting, my mother & I went blueberry picking.
I love getting fresh fruit, and I think we both ate more bluberries while picking than we actually put in our buckets! We got a huge tub full and my mom packed me a ton to bring home which I've been using in cereal, baked goods, and just eating by the handful to get a lovely dose of antioxidants!

While home, Jason & I went out to dinner with my parents in Rehobeth Beach. I wanted to go there after my dad mentioning that there was a vegetarian restaurant out there that he had heard about. It was called "Planet X" and I had looked up the menu and it sounded amazing! More of a sit down, nice gourmet dish menu! They serve meat options, but have a ton of choices for vegans! Not to mention, the atmosphere is very awesome -- tons of buddhas and zen lighting and decor!

Heres the outside as we were approaching, already I knew I would like it!!

This was a view from our outdoor table. I felt like we were in a treehouse! It was a great atmosphere and all the comfy couches and pillows and lights really added to the feeling of it!

This was my dish..the only vegan dish that was ordered that night. My parents both opted for the salmon and Jason got the steak.
My dish was described as "crispy tofu red thai curry, seasonal vegetables, basmati rice, crispy wonton sticks, toasted coconut"

It was great! The option was either tofu or shrimp, obviously I got the tofu which was perfectly cooked! Not too mushy--not an overly fried--just firm enough to get the flavor with the delicious curry sauce!

Usually I'm hesitant to order a curry..i don't like it coming out soup-like..but Planet X's dish was the right amount of sauce to vegetable/tofu ratio! Plus the staff was super accomodating and very friendly! :) We all left happy with our dishes..

After wandering around Rehobeth and seeing all the cool shops and sights, we found the Dogfish Head brewery restaurant.

I'm in no means a beer drinker. I'll have one every once in a while when with Jason and that's the only option, i much prefer wine. However, I was very intrigued at Dogfish when I saw that they had peanut butter vodka! I've never seen this flavor of vodka before, I've had whipped creme vodka and many other flavors..but never peanut butter! First... I had no idea what to mix it I asked the bartender. He said most people get it mixed with the grape vodka for a peanut butter & jelly martini. Sounded perfect in my book!!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Martini.
Holy WOW! This was awesome! I figured many food bloggers would appreciate if only they'd make an almond butter vodka! ;)

Rehobeth is definitely one of the COOLEST beach towns!
I'd definitely love to go back and try annie bananie's -- it's an all vegan "ice cream" place using frozen bananas as the ice cream! so cool!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

this fire grows higher

As the warmer weather keeps coming, the thought of soups & warm comfort foods are being pushed way out of mind.
However, one of my favorite soups is absolutely perfect for summer weather!
Gazpacho, of course.

I've made it once before a couple years ago and wasn't completely satisfied with the results. I like lots of green pepper flavor and good seasonings to balance it all out. Plus it's so great to make a meal without even turning on any appliances other than a blender..or magic bullet in my case. Which reminds me of how excited i'll be to get a REAL blender and food processor on the registry :)
I love my magic bullet, but trying to make a large amount of anything in it is quite tough..

I gathered a few ideas from blogs and forums for how to create my perfect gazpacho.

This recipe is loosely based on about 10 different recipes ;)

2 cups of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped.
1 cup of cucumber, peeled seeded and chopped.
1 cup green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped.
2 cloves garlic
1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dill seasoning

Place half of the veggies and all the garlic and seasonings in a blender with tomato juice and vinegar and puree. Add the rest of the chopped veggies and just pulse a few times to finely chop, but still have chunks in your soup!

Easy, no?
If you are stuck using a small blender, or magic bullet like I was, it was easy to puree the first half and then add in chunks of veggies at a time. Taking some of the mixture out into the bowl you will be using to serve it in helps make room as well.

Definitely a great summer meal on a hot day :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

why is everyone so serious

Even though I do not live as close to center city Philadelphia anymore (I'm now in the Exton area) my best friend still lives quite close so we get to do our weekly "date nights" sometimes in her area. I always get excited driving out there and seeing the familiar buildings and places that I had spent the last four years in. I love living out here with my fiance as well and the new area that I've grown accustomed to, but I still definitely love going back! Luckily it's still only a 30 minute drive so not too bad!

Anyway, this past date night was in Philadelphia. We had planned on grabbing some takeout from Blackbird and enjoying some wine back at her place, but considering the temperature was nearing 100 degrees and there wasn't any air conditioning, we decided it'd be best to go somewhere instead.
I knew it was Beer Week in Philly and neither of us had tried The Belgian Cafe before, so that was a perfect opportunity to try it!!

The appetizers sounded more enticing than the meals, so we chose three to split to eat during our non-stop gab session, as usual. :)

The first one we got was the Edamame Hummus. I had remembered hearing about their sweet potato hummus, but that wasn't on the menu this time.

The hummus was great! It had cashews on top of it which added a crunch, and it came with the crispy wonton chips and red pepper slices. It was definitely a great option!

The next appetizer was the vegan barbecue wings. According to the site, it is corn meal crusted seitan with their spicy barbecue sauce. It came with the celery and blue cheese which wasn't vegan but also came with the vegan aoli sauce which was really good! I enjoyed the wings better on their own though since the sauce was so good!

Our last appetizer was the stuffed tofu. It was pieces of tofu marinated in Spaten Optimator, stuffed with dried cherries (my fave part!) cashews, cilantro, and garlic. According to the site at least, but I distinctly remember having pieces of red pepper in the mix as well! This tofu was a-mazing. Definitely something so different than the regular tofu options that are usually available!

Of Course, being Beer Week in philly, we had to drink some beers!

We figured being at the Belgium cafe we should drink belgium beers. I'm no beer expert, in fact I rarely drink it, more of a wine-o, but I knew which types of beers I liked and didn't like. After the waitresses suggestion, our first beers were drafts from Ohio..not exactly international but still good none the less!

After looking through the actual bottled beer list, we chose Delerium Tremens for our second beers. I've had this beer before from RFD in Washington D.C....I chose it based on its banner that read "The Best Beer In The World" and had a cute pink elephant next to it, how could I say no? Since then I've had it a few other times and I really enjoy it! could you not like a beer with a cute pink elephant on it??

I'd definitely love to go back to the Belgian Cafe sometime soon, it was a great atmosphere and the food was awesome and so vegan friendly!
There's just too many places in philly that I already want to try so hopefully one day I'll get back there :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oh where does the time go?

4 months later and I'm posting again.
I seem to fall in this rut often within the past year or so..
Although I still read other's blogs all the time and am always inspired to keep going with mine, but yet I always put it to the side. I still take pictures of all the fabulous food I've been making though "just in case" i'll blog about it.
In which I will!

I have another cookbook review.
Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chadra Moskowitz, aka the vegan goddess of wonderful foods and cookbooks (veganomicon, vegan cookies/vegan cupcakes, vegan brunch..yes they're all great!)

I was intrigued by this book however because it was focused on healthier foods with less "fake meats" and more using pure vegetables and "real" food. Not that I don't love a delicious seitan scallopini, but sometimes resorting to how delicious just vegetables can be is a nice refresher.

I was able to get this book at a Border's that was closing, so I got a great discount! They had a lot of different vegan books that I was tempted to buy at such a great deal as well, but I already have quite the bookshelf full of them.

The first recipe I made from this was the Chickpea Piccata and Caulipots (pg. 115 and 54)

I love piccata sauces so I knew this would be good, and I loved the idea of a healthier mashed potato using half cauliflower as well. There were a few variations of the caulipots but I stuck to the original recipe and they turned out great.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (Caulipots): (serves 4)
2 russet potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon of olive oil ( I used smart balance instead! made it taste "buttery" like mashed potatoes i'm used to!)
2-4 T of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon of salt
several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a 4 quart pot in enough cold water to submerge them, making srue there are about 4 inches of extra water on top for when you add the cauliflower. Bring the potatoes to a boil. Once boiling, add the cauliflower and lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.
Drain them in a colander, return them to the pot, and use a potato masher to mash them up a bit. (I think i used a bottom of a cup, but I added a masher to my wedding registry!) Add the olive oil (or smart balance), 2 T of broth, and the salt and pepper and mash a bit more. Use a fork to make sure its seasoned well. Add more broth if needed and taste for salt.

These were so great and I honestly would have had no idea there was cauliflower used in it except for I made them.

Chickpea Piccata: (serves 4)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (i used a jarred minced garlic, about 3 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup white wine (i used pinot grigio because it's great to drink as you cook)
pinches of black pepper and dried thyme
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 T lemon juice
4 cups arugula (I used spinach)

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Saute the shallots and garlic for abuot 5 minutes, until golden. Add the bread crumbs and toaste tehm by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.
Add the broth, wine, salt, pepper, and thyme. Turn up the heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and let the sauce reduce by half; should take about 7 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and capers and let heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
To assemble correctly, and if you made the caulipots as well -- put on a plate the spinach or arugula, then top with a serving of caulipots, then a serving of chickpea picatta so the spinach gets warm and it all goes together perfectly!

These two recipes I think would win over any omnivore easy. It's such a comforting and delicious, yet extremely healthy meal that anyone would enjoy it. :)

The next recipe I tried from the book was the Red Thai Tofu (p.149) and Green Beans with Thai Basil (p.98).

Both of these recipes were great, and went together perfectly for a delicious meal :)

The flavoring and seasonings on the tofu were perfect and the way of cooking it made it just enough crispy and firm to not be on the mushy side.
The basil in both of these recipes really brought it all together.
However, for both of these recipes it calls for fresh Thai basil.
I could not find this type in the stores near me, and regular basil leaves worked just fine! As I've been learning with a lot of recipes..don't be intimated by the complex ingredients, as long as you can find something similar in your local stores then the recipe will be fine and have your own twist to it!

Another recipe that we made was the Mango Baked Beans.

I'm back and forth with this recipe. i halved it for just Jason & I, and it still made a TON. I'm pretty sure the leftovers ended up being trash after being in the fridge for too long though. :(
The night that I made it and we ate it I really did like it.
I also made the accompanied corn bread with scallions with it and that gave it a nice touch and was great to dip into the bean sauce.
The mango added sweetness to the beans and bbq-ish to it which was a nice contrast.
I don't think I'd make this again though, but it was nice to try and a great easy weeknight meal!

The most recent meal that I've made from AFR was the 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma.
This was AWESOME!
I always have trouble when I eat out and order a vegetable curry.
It always comes to me the way I don't want it to -- more of vegetables in a "soup" then vegetables with a sauce on top. I like coconut milk in my curries, but not my vegetables drowning in it.
That's why I prefer to make my own curries with coconut milk at home. Plus I can make it with light coconut milk, which in my opinion is much better than the full just has a less overpowering taste but still brings on tons of flavor!

This recipe made a ton and was great the next day as leftovers over spinach!
Any indian-inspired meal I'm instantly drawn too, and usually very happy with so this was no different. It was great to use such fresh veggies for it as well. The zucchini was a nice change to the usual veg lineup.

This cookbook is truly great and I've been bookmarking many other recipes from it that I plan on making in the future.

My only demise? There is no dessert section!!

While I know Isa's cause of this book was to be "healthy" after making Vegan Cupcakes and Vegan Cookies cookbooks, it would still have been nice to see some "healthier" versions of her own desserts that she's come up with!

That's okay though, my "healthy" cookbook of Happy Herbivore has delicious fat free carrot cake cupcakes that we made to tie me over, which I'll review next time. ;)

Another recipe tried from the book was the

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

as we know it

As a christmas gift from my friend I got the new skinny bitch cookbook.
The first book, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch was given to me by my aunt 3 years ago for Christmas..and what was the push to lead me to finally take the plunge into veganism that January.
As I became interested in different vegan cookbooks and recipes, I realized how much I did not really like the recipes from skinny bitch. They seemed very simple, (recipe for vegan cheeseburger - 1 vegan burger patty, 1 slice vegan cheese, 1 vegan bun..not too complex and not really cooking..)
However, the book by Kim Barnouin, one of the skinny bitches, that recently came out is very different, and I absolutely love it!
The pictures in the book are wonderful and the recipes are even better :)
So far I've made three of the recipes, but I have many of them bookmarked and will be making them soon, I'm sure.

My first recipe out of the book was the Tempeh Tomato and Tarragon Stew on page 208.
The recipe made 4 servings, and since it was just Jason & I, I knew there would be plenty leftover.

This stew (mine was more soup-like than stew-like, maybe thats why we had so much leftover!) was really easy to make and I had never cooked with swiss chard before, so I was excited to try it out!
Funny though, as i took the swiss chard out to cut, I actually had no idea what to do, and had to google it. First time for everything!
Jason made his verrry delicious garlic bread to go along with this, which was a fresh baquette from the store with smart balance, garlic, and dried basil. He does make some delish garlic bread! :)

Tempeh Tomato and Tarragon Stew:
2 T oil (you can use spray for the cooking if you'd like)
2 cups 1-inch tempeh cubes (I kept the recipe the same otherwise, but only used 1 cup of tempeh..which was one package, seemed like 2 would be a ton!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 T minced tarragon
1 T minced thyme
1 bunch swiss chard, thinly sliced
2 1/2 c diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups red wine
4 cups vegetable broth

Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat with cooking oil/spray. Add the tempeh and saute for 5 minutes until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove from saucepan and set aside. Add onion, carrot, and celery to saucepan and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add tarragon and thyme, and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in the swiss chard and cook for 6 minutes. Return the tempeh to the saucepan and stir in the tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Add the wine and simmer for 8 minutes until liquid has reduced to half (mine never really reduced too much..hmmm...)Pour in the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 more minutes and serve hot.

As much as I really enjoyed this soup the first night, I did not enjoy it as much later in the week for lunch reheated. I'm not the biggest fan of the flavor of red wine, so I think after sitting in the fridge for a few days, the flavor really took over. If you like red wine, you'll really enjoy it though :)

Another recipe I made was the Spicy Vegetable Curry on page 222. Another thing I really like about this book is that there are a ton of ethnic dishes! I love ethnic foods..indian, thai, chinese, etc so I was really excited to make a lot of them!
This curry came along really quickly, so it was a great week night meal when I didn't feel like cooking a long recipe. I didn't get to take any pictures of this, but I highly recommend it, it was great!
The recipe calls for mushrooms, eggplant, and okra. I really really don't like mushrooms, eggplant isn't one of my faves either, and I could not find okra. Thus, we used veggies we liked - broccoli, bell peppers, and any other random veggies we had on hand. It's a really versatile recipe which makes it even better.

One recipe that caught my eye first while skimming through the book was the Asian Macaroni & Cheese. It seemed like such a different approach to the usual mac & cheese, so I was really excited to make it. Plus I have yet to make my own vegan version of the dish, although I have had the packaged vegan mac & cheese's which have been pretty good.

Sorry for the bad lighting, my apartment really isn't the greatest place to take food pictures.

Asian Macaroni & Cheese:
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small pieces and stems removed (i just used a bag of frozen cauliflower florets..yeah, lazy way out I know)
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp white miso paste
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp potato starch
2 T oil
1/2 c firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
2 1/2 cups cooked macaroni (i used heart-shaped macaroni, in the v-day mood!)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, cook 1 cup of the cauliflower with the coconut milk and 1 cup water over medium high heat until soft. Add garlic, nutmeg, miso, soy sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes and add potato starch to thicken. Pour the mix into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
In another saute pan, heat oil and saute the rest of the cauliflower and tofu over medium high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a lasagna-style pan, add the macaroni, cauliflower, and tofu mixture. Mix in the cauliflower and coconut milk sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, and add the garlic powder over breadcrumbs. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

I halved the entire recipe, and it still made a ton. I also used an 8x8 pan instead of a lasagna style pan since I made less. Also..white miso paste..I had been looking for it everywhere for a while, and finally found it in a natural food store near me. The darn jar was $13! After coming home and adding the 1/2 tsp to the recipe, I really do not think it was needed at all! So expect a lot of recipes soon to be incorporating the miso, the jar is huge!

Anyway, this dish was fabulous!
And days later, it was still just as good.

I really cannot wait to make more from this cookbook, just so many awesome refreshing recipes in it!
Next post I'll be doing a DC trip review, we went there this past weekend for valentine's day and tried a few awesome vegan friendly places! Plus I met Lindsay Nixon aka Happy Herbivore, and that in itself was awesome!
Take care!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hey 2011!

So it's 2011...
one more year until 12-21-2012, but we won't think about that, right? ;)

Also, the year that I'm getting married!! Almost 8 months away!
Should be a good year, to say the least!

I'm not exactly one to make resolutions, but I do want this year to be filled with health and happiness, that's not too much to ask I hope.

I've started off the year right with cooking though!
One thing I would like to work towards is cooking more indepth recipes..usually when I'm feeling lazy a stir-fry works or a heated boca burger, but I really want to make more recipes that take time in the kitchen. I love being in there and cooking and making up a recipe that both my fiance and I enjoy.
Plus, for the month of January, Jason has gone vegetarian!!
Even more reason for me to make delicious vegan food for him so maybe I can sway him into making it a year-long resolution ;)
Just kidding, I love him no matter what.. but I do like that he at least always tries and usually likes the vegan foods that I cook or that we eat at vegan restaurants!

We spent our Christmas' this year apart at our own families, but we both made it back despite the snow to our apartment on Sunday for our own Christmas.
I had made the vegan crabcake recipe from a few months back, and though it took forever to make, Jason really enjoyed it.
We chose this to be our Christmas dinner. Since it was snowing out when I left from Maryland, I had plenty of time to get back to Pennsylvania and go out to the store to get the ingredients for the cakes!

They came out as good as the first time! We ate them with sauteed asparagus in white cooking wine and garlic, with a side of mixed greens. Also, we used the vegan sauce on the website for the crabcakes (so good! and who knew that Kraft Creamy Italian dressing was vegan!).
Here's the link to the recipe..I highly recommend making these for a perfect vegan crab cake!

My new years was also really good, but our dinner was supposed to be the Ethiopian Seitan & Peppers from Vegan with a Vengeance. The seitan took MUCH longer than I had anticipated, and since we were supposed to go out around 8:00, they did not happen that night.
Instead, we had this recipe tonight. I had made the seitan from VWAV on Friday and refrigerated it in the broth until tonight. I also halved the recipe since it was just the two of us, but it still made enough for 4 servings, so we saved 2 pieces of seitan for another recipe for this week.

Here's the seitan recipe from VWAV:
Makes 6 cups (we halfed the whole thing for us, and still had half the recipe left over!)
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cold water or veg broth (i used water, was still fine!)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 T tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp grated lemon zest (i left this out..oops, hey it still tasted great!)
for broth:
12 cups water
1/2 c soy sauce

in a large bowl, mix vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and flour. in a seperate bowl, mix the wet ingredients through lemon zest if using.
pour wet into dry and combine with a firm spatula. knead the dough for about 5 minutes until spongy and elastic. let the dough rest for a few minutes and in the meantime stir together the broth ingredients in a large saucepoit. roll the dough into a log shape about 10 inches long and cut into 6 pieces of equal size. place into broth. partially cover the pot and leave a little space for steam to escape and bring the broth to a boil.
when the broth has come to a boil, set the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour, turning the pices every now and again. (this was hard for me, the seitan seemed very mushy, but i was able to turn them without breaking them too much!)
turn off the heat and let the broth and seitan cool for at least 30 minutes.
after, i put the seitan pieces and some of the broth into a sealable tupperware until we were ready to use it. if you're going to use it right after, then continue with your next recipe.

Ethiopian Seitan & Peppers:
For puree:
I used diced chile peppers in a can from target, the recipe called for 6 serrano chiles, seed and chopped..but the can worked fine!
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom (left this out..)
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp cloves (used allspice instead)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c red wine (i used sherry cooking wine)
3 T olive oil
seitan, cut into strips
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place all puree ingredients in a blender and puree until relatively smooth. (I used my magic bullet)
Place the seitan strips and peppers in a 9x13 inch baking dish, smother with the puree. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil, flip the seitan and peppers, and cook for 20 more minutes.

We ate this with a simple sauteed brocolli and califlower dish with garlic and soysauce..but the book recommends rice and veggies. Take your pick!

We both agreed this recipe was great and a definite make-again.
I would love to try an ethiopian restaurant in philly and see the vegan options that they have!
Hope everyone else had a great new years as well! :)