Friday, January 26, 2007

(Never Been to) Brooklyn Pad Thai

If the food there's like what I created from Isa's Brooklyn Pad Thai, book my flight, 'm totaly there! Thai food was always easily my favorite cuisine until I realized that shrimp paste is so often found in authentic dishes. Between this killer recipe and the Thai Style soup from Vegan Planet, I have hope that not only will Thai food be back on my plate again, but I'll get to be the one to make it!

The only thing I changed was to add about 2 tablesppons of cruncy organic peanut butter to my sauce. I just couldn't see making it without it. Not sure that it even made too much of a difference overall, maybe thickened the sauce a bit, but that's totally unnecessary. This stuff is sooooooo good!

We enjoyed it with just a shared salad plate of sliced cucumber, some Ugly tomato wedges (yup, that's a type of tomato around here...the tomato that tastes like a tomato!), and our favorite, easy Mikoto Ginger Dressing with a sprinkle of remaining cilantro.
We ended dinner with a little sliced fresh mango (sigh....i cannot wait for summer and all the soft and sweet mangoes that come with it!). YUM!

The pad thai came together in a snap. The tip of making it in two batches reads like it's a pain but it's actually super fast and very efficient to do so (thank you, Isa!!! This meant that i didn't have to make the mistake of trying to get it all stirred together perfectly at once, which would have surely resulted in utter failure and a crazy mess...and i don't think i was up for another one in this meal preparation..not with having just seen myself thru the peanut oil incident*).

My little brother, the rock star (mlbtrs) called, as he often does, while he was making his own dinner and I was whipping up ours. (We're Italian, we can't help but to gab while busy in the kitchen). hehe. Halfway thru our conversation he had to cut it short as he had taken some parmesan out of the fridge (I come from, as many of you do, a loooong line of omni's), began to shake it and found the lid not to be closed, causing a snowfall of cheesy bits all over him, his floor, and likely his dogs and appliances. I laughed and we hung up. Not five seconds later, he recieved this call from me:

DGMGV: dude, I totally win.
MLBTRS: oh yeah? why's that?

DGMGV: you're little kitchen mishap that got you off the phone in a hurry?

MLBTRS: yeah, still cleaning that up.

DGMGV: well, i was laughing at you after hangin up and reached for the peanut oil, whose cap i'd already removed, and promptly knocked it over, glug-glug-glugging slippery puddles of peanut oil aaaaaall over the stovetop, down the oven, and to pool on the floor. why the hell do they make wood floors in kitchens, again? grrrrrrrr.

MLBTRS: *laughing maniacle laugh that's reserved only by little brothers for directing at their older sisters whenever they do something particularly dumb* dude, you're right. you totally win. have fun cleaning that up.
*still laughing*
DGMGV: mmm hmm, thx. told ya!

too funny.
and speaking of my little brother, the rock star....He is the front man for a really rockin band based in VA, Full Moon Circle. (mlbtrs is the one in the middle)They're currently working to release their new album and (yipee!) heading down to the sunshine state to play in April. If you like rock music (as in, this stuff totally rocks) check 'em out on their myspace and show 'em some love.

Better yet, should you live near Gainesville, Orlando, or Daytona Beach, keep an eye on their myspace for the upcoming show dates and venues.
ok, 'm done with my shameless plug for MLBTRS. back to the food! ;)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vegan With a Vengeance Strikes Again

I was thumbing thru my beloved warped and stained copy of VWaV in preparation of trying out the Samosas I saw Chris and Darlene enjoy recently and realized I didn't even remember the Spinach and Millet Polenta recipe being there.

I love polenta but try not to make it too often as I see corn as having the potentia
l to be too much of a good thing, but the thought of making a polenta from millet? bring. it. on. people!

This stuff, topped with the almond and sundried tomato pesto included with that recipe, is nothing short of amazing. and easy! I conveniently had made some veggie stock last night so everything came together in a snap. and the flavor? I'M HOOKED!
The only thing that could make this better is if i try my hand at baking it instead of frying it and find that it still gets all crunchy on the outside. heaven.

oh, and note to self: pack the millet into the molds very tight as the spinach will cause it to tear more readily when cutting it if it's not already packed in reeeally well.

And speaking of culinary genius....had a little bit of that in my own kitchen last night, thanks to Crystal, Dori, and Linda having reminded me of the versatility of a favorite vegan food among all of us.

Upon a suggestion from the Cap'n the other night. I stuffed some lingering mushrooms with a little of the Lentil Walnut Burger mix I'd made up, then roasted them.
They were ok, but they needed something. something to make the texture work (the beany filling was not as smooth as I wanted next to the mushroom and the flavor was just a bit off...a little bland). so, like many of you have enjoyed with all your cupcake baking (oh, how i long to jump on that wagon...but i fear once i start i won't ever stop! hehe), I piped in some of my favorite store-bought hummus into the middle and out the top.perfection! what a great combo i may never have pieced together had hummus not been on my mind after my quesadilla mess. thanks, chicas!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's Easy Bein' Green!

Last night's dinner was a conglomeration of all things in the fridge that needed clearing out before the weekly grocery shopping trip. Just so happens, everything was green. From the night before, Shepherd's Pie with lentils and adzuki's on the bottom, onion, carrot, and green beans in the middle (all seasoned with sea salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and a bit of sage), and my Green Goddess Potatoes (mmmmm, kale!) on the top:I served the leftovers up with some the remaining green beans, which I roasted (thank you, blogger friends, for this wonderful idea!), and some sauteed then steamed Garlic Broccoli. Both were drizzled with a miso/almond butter sauce that was loosely based on a recipe I found on the miso container (miso, tahini, lemon juice and water became miso, almond butter, lemon juice, water, and some agave). Honestly? those veggies needed no accompaniment, no matter how much we love miso. The night before I'd served this Shepherd's Pie with a simple green salad of butter lettuce, cukes, red pepper, shredded zucchini, and some green onion. I topped mine with some Mikoto ginger dressing and mmmmmm, amazing how good a simple salad can be!Couple of before that, I found that I had some FYH Mozz. in the fridge (I swear, I don't love this stuff, keep telling myself to stop buying it, but it just ends up in the cart every so often at the health food store...I keep thinking it will redeem itself, but it never wins me over entirely). Made a killer quesadilla that, likely, would have been even better sans 'cheese'. I started with some garlic herb wraps (using a bit of EB on the bottom and top), put on a little FYH, added some sauteed spinach, mushroom, onion, and red pepper (with a pinch of chipotle pepper), a little more FYH, and in the oven it went to bake until puffy and crispy. I mashed an avacado with garlic, sea salt, and lime juice for a simple quacamole and topped each quarter with that and a tiny bit of Tofutti's Better Than Sour Cream (now this stuff, i love!), then served it to m'self with some of the salsa I made the other day. Mmmmmm. These were fantastic, even if the FYH finally melted, but did so by becoming a watery mess oozing out of the quesadillas. I think next time I'll do a pesto or something instead of the FYH. I also whipped up another batch of my lentil walnut burgers (this time using adzukis in place of black beans as it's what we had on hand). Into the freezer for quick meals any time. The Cap'n can't stop raving about these, how they look like real hamburgers, smeall like real hamburgers, TASTE EVEN BETTER than any hamburger could. Gotta love that! Wanting to eat these on some vegan bread, I tried my hand at the Sassy Soda Bread from La Dolce Vegan. I only used half the optional sesame seeds (that's all I had and I think that the missing ones would have just made this already great loaf better) and think the recipe could use a little more salt, but overall this stuff is amazing. It's so gorgeous and big, and slices well with no yeast whatsoever. I've even been loving it toasted with a little Earth Balance. 'm tellin ya, making my own bread is NOT gonna be good for my waistline...but my tastebuds are sooo very happy!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

and by my, i mean the AMAZING larry's

just wanted to take a minute to my wonderful friend Larry and his family for their amazing salsa recipe in my last post.

Thank you, Larry, for having gifted me the keys to unlock the door that leads to salsa nirvana. You are a seriously swell guy.

you'll be so happy to have tried his recipe that you won't be able to keep the secret either!

Secret, Schmecret!

What with so many of you braving the winter elements while we enjoy perfect sunny, cool day after perfect, sunny cool day I find myself feeling seriously generous. Combine that with my good fortune of having recently found my local grocer to start stocking serrano peppers and I can't help but share with each of you a little taste of summer. Here's how to turn this, a basket of beautiful, fresh produce
into this,

my Super Top Secret AMAZING Salsa recipe!

4 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
6 tomatillos, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

2 Tbs lemon juice

1Tbs garlic, roasted

½ lg. onion, chopped

2 Tbs Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

1 tsp ground blk pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground red pepper flakes

6 lg. tomatoes, ugly or beefsteak

I like to use my food processor for a true restaurant style salsa, not chunky, and find that two plastic 2qt pitchers work reeeally well with the mixing at the end with a lot less mess than before i discovered this method!

Roast your garlic in your usual manner. Everybody does this differently but i don't know anyone who doesn't love the smell of roasting garlic enveloping them as they walk past the kitchen.

With gloved hands, seed and chop serranos and jalepenos and place in processor. If you don't have gloves, i've found that covering your hands with sandwich baggies works in a pinch but don't do this unprotected! i can tell you from experience that soap and water? ain't gonna save your face from the burn after you touch it, no matter how many times you try washing away the heat.

also, there's a lot of heat in those seeds your removing. you won't need to toss any in this recipe for a hot salsa, this one has plenty of kick without a single one. (don't say i didn't warn ya! ;)

chop tomatillos and cilantro and add to processor. add all other ingredients but the tomatoes and pulse in processor until blended. pour this green goodness into one of the pitchers. core and chop tomatoes, place in processor and pulse until desired consistency. pour this into the second pitcher. pour from one pitcher to the other until you've thoroughly mixed the contents of both. depending on the size of your tomatoes/tomatillos, this will make anywhere from 4-6 pints of the best salsa ever! also, if you wanna back off the heat a little, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes to suit your taste buds.

i could eat this stuff with a spoon but feel free to serve with tortillas, top burritos, tacos, or, my favorite, top a baked potato with broccoli and then salsa. i hope it warms you and teases your tummies with the taste of summer!

and here's a shot of those lasagna noodle rolls i whipped up the other day. while i really hate using white flour anything, i hate wasting food more, and these babies needed to be used. This one is the tofu basil ricotta and tempeh sausage with shredded zucchini version with a side of, you guessed it, Garlicky Roasted Brussel Sprouts.
i'd love to find some whole wheat lasagna noodles and make these again and again but next time? i'll totally omit the tempeh sausage. the flavor just stood in the way of the rest of the ingredients. I also find that the Lightlife Wild Rice Tempeh has a bitterness that poaching does not seem to get out. maybe a better, less bitter tempeh would produce better results?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh Spinach, How I've Missed Thee!

Sure, the bagged spinach scare was a bit rediculous, but I won't deny that it made me think twice about buying bagged anything for a while. As that's typically the only way I can find fresh spinach around my neck o' the woods, I've not been making it for some time. I've also read in numerous nutrition books that it's full of nutrients that our body can't process all that well so it's led me to venture out to other greens. But I broke down and bought one of those plastic containers of organic baby spinach and FINALLY had the salad I've been craving.
Ya see, spinach is my favorite green for salad making, hands down. Not that you can tell from the picture above, I've managed to drown my beloved tender leaves under a sea of veggies like shredded zucchini and carrots, slivers of red pepper, thinly sliced cukes, roasted portabello, and (a new favorite snack) roasted chickpeas!

This salad was huge, refreshing, satisfying, and most important DE-LICIOUS! And here she is all dressed up in a bit of Island Grove Mango Poppy dressing.Super YUM!

That morning I found a new faux sausage recipe somewhere on the web (recipe at end of post) as I wanted to venture away from VwaV's version (which i love but the Cap'n never really warmed up to).
These little patties were soooo good with a little leftover gravy. And yes, that IS mashed cauliflower with my tempeh sausage and fresh blueberries and rasberries for breakfast. ;)

Turns out the Cap'n just isn't all that fond of tempeh, regardless of the preparation. sigh. more for me! I'm hoping to win him over with freshly made tempeh once we move and I can get my hands on it weakly. the shrink-wrapped version I get from the grocery store just has a flavor that poaching and steaming just don't eliminate enough for his palate, i'm thinking.

After getting Feb's Veg. Times in the mail yesterday I naturally just had to dive into one of the recipes. Granted, I had no figs so I subbed an Asian pear, I had no cranberries so I used raisins, I never drink vanilla soy milk so I just used some of my plain, light variety but used the general method and recipe for their Bulgar Fig and Ginger Pudding as breakfast, mine being more Bulgar, Pear, and Ginger Pudding. I don't know why they'd call it a pudding, it's a lot like an oatmeal dish. I liked it but not enough to be all that excited about the leftovers. I think it's maybe just too flavorful. Kind of in your face flavor that is enjoyed once as something new but would easily wear one out if you ate it for a few days straight.

Not happy with a recipe that I was excited about, spent time whipping together and then didn't love, I decided to just keep cooking til I got one right! I happened upon the MOST beautiful organic kale at Mother Earth the other dayand was wanting to use up some puff pastry lingering in the freezer, hence a giant spanakopita style kale turnover was born!I loosely based the filling on Vegan Planet's Kale Spanakopita, halving the tofu and using just one bunch of kale, and adding some nutritional yeast before processing. I spooned that onto half the pastry sheet, folded it over, crimped it closed with a fork, and brushed the whole thing with some soy milk before popping into a 375 oven for about 30 min.
This was amazing. I can't wait to make miniature versions for guests in the future.

I still had some of the kale filling leftover and didn't want to wait to use it so I softened some no boil lasagna noodles that have been in our pantry staring back at me for ages. I then spread some on two overlapping noodles, added some tempeh sausage crumbles (that recipe is simple and fast. i just omitted the flour and crumbled the tempeh rather than mashing it all up), some leftover roasted portabello, and rolled 'em up.
After running out of the kale mixutre, I mixed up some tofu basil ricotta with some leftover tofu from the freezer, and finished off the remaining noodles by rolling them with the ricotta, shredded zucchini, and tempeh sausage. Now they're resting in our fridge topped with some jarred Muir Glenn Tomato Sauce so that tonight's dinner will be a snap!

Easy Tempeh Fauxsage Patties

1 pkg tempeh, steamed
2 T oil
2 T tamari
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 marjoram (or oregano)
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 T whole wheat flour

grate steamed tempeh into bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. form into small patties. heat oil in pan over med heat. saute patties, about four min per side, until golden brown and serve with your favorite vegan gravy!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Oooooooh yeah, that's good!

Tonight was a plate of pleasant surprises that just sort of came out all kindsa yummy with a millet loaf, smashed cauliflower, green beans, and nutritional yeast gravy. The Cap'n says this one goes on the Top Ten list... I'm kicking myself for not using Jennifer's Magical Meatloaf Studio over at Vegan Lunch Box. I had just shown it to a friend who has a little one yesterday! This must be where the urgent need for creating a loaf of some sort came from...that and this desire to finally try the millet that's been in my pantry for entirely too long. I'm still wanting to tweak this recipe, so that I can share it.

As it stands it's the teeeeniest bit dry (but not much, really) and needs some 'shrooms or something in it. I've got plans. hehe, but it's basically millet mixed with finely chopped and sauteed carrot, celery, green onion (we're currently out of all other types right now), toasted sunflower seeds, and garlic with dill, thyme, sea salt, and pepper. I baked it uncovered in a 400 degree oven for about 45 min. It was a bit stuck to the loaf pan when coming out, but the edges had a nice crunchy texture. Flavor is good, but could use a little something. I'll certainly make this again and work on it some more. On the side I just steamed a head of cauliflower with two red potatoes we had lingering around in the pantry. Mashed them up with some Willow Run and soy milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I'm actually looking forward to doing this again sans the potato but I wonder if they'll need some cornstarch or something to keep it from being too wet that way. The potato was nice to give it a little structure but still taste like cauliflower.

The gravy is just a no brainer, I don't measure, just go on taste and texture here. Toast some flour and nutritional yeast in a warm sauce pot, add some olive oil and whisk (I used some roasted garlic infused variety), then add veggie stock whisking away lumps until desired consistency, then added some tamari, onion powder and sweet paprika to taste. I dare say it's some of the best damn gravy to ever come out of my kitchen! Very simple, fast and sooo tasty! Spooned over the loaf and the cauliflower this gravy was just perfect. I heated up some canned green beans in lieu of anything fresh and green we usually have in the fridge.

Get a load of this cauliflower. TOO YUMMY!
Sadly, my new beloved Vegan Planet is not without duds. I tried the Ultimate Veggie Burger as I was craving a patty of some sort.
Eh, not my favorite and certainly not the Ultimate. I think that the idea to use vital wheat gluten in the recipe is great for adding some firmness in texture, but the lingering flavor is just off putting to me.
Even with fresh tomato, avacado, and some Vegannaise, it made me wanna drown it in ketchup or mustard or anything that would mask it. That's never good.

Know what IS good?! Anything Miss Dreena Burton whips up and puts in a cookbook....even anything you can come up with using one of her recipes as a guide is pretty close to perfect...behold! version of THE ULTIMATE veggie burger (so far, anyway ;):
I was thinking of how much I'd enjoyed her Mushroom Pecan Burgers once upon a time but noticed that I did not have all the items on hand, namely the mushrooms and pecans. hehe. Instead I had some leftover Lentils (about a cup) and another cup of black beans. I also always have walnuts on hand so I toasted them and they subbed in for the pecans. I also always substitute cashew butter in the place of tahini because, while i love sesame seeds, tahini is always too overpowering for me to enjoy in any recipe. I followed everything else about her recipe from The Everyday Vegan, and then added two egg's worth of EnerG Egg Replacer as the 2c. of whole wheat breadcrumbs I used seemed to have made it lose some of it's stickiness while chilling, and I wanted to be sure they stayed together when cooked. Worked like a charm! I lugged 'em over to a friend's and we shared them on millet toast with boston lettuce, shredded carrot and zucchini, sliced avocado, and dijon mustard. Oh yeah, sauteed in a little peanut oil, these are nothing short of everything I want from a veggie burger. Texture was great, stayed together even thru all my flipping, and the flavor is just yummy. Even the little one was stealing 'the meat' from my friend's 'burger' after first excaiming that he didn't want it and thought they would be ooooooh, groooooss!

About a week ago I was craving my friend's Oh My Goddess Tempeh (It's from November's Vegan Feast, but blogger won't let me link to just that post, sorry!), but had no white wine in the house. No matter! I followed her recipe and used some Burgundy cooking wine (the rest of the real red wine in the house was just too delicious to share with our dinner hehe) in it's place. I also added some Agave nectar (about a tablespoon) at the end of the sauce while it was reducing. Mmmmmm, was this wonderful.
Here you see it with mashed potatoes and this great bok choy/broccoli concoction:

Broccoli/Bok Choy Spicy stir fry (I think this came from Recipezaar)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (only use if you like it a bit spicy!)

3 cups sliced fresh broccoli florets

1-1 1/2 lb bok choy, coarsely chopped (cut leaves horizontal and stalks on the diagnal)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Heat oil over med heat. Add everything thru red pepper flakes and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add broccoli and bok choy and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
Add lemon juice and sugar, and stir fry for about three min or until veggies are crisp tender.

I loved the veggies sooo much. I swear I woke up each day ready to eat leftovers. Ok, ya got me, 's what I had for breakfast and lunch for a couple of days until it was gone! I'm calling the whole plate Oh My Goddess' Aunt Morgaine's Tempeh Dinner.
And yes, I am finally watching the Mists of Avalon that I TiVo'd, having been in luck with the books for years now.

Breakfast has been a great combo of some organic wheat/rice/bran squares with fresh rasberries, blueberries, banana, and some plain almond milk. Funny, because I always want to just eat 'real food' in the mornings and cereal for dinner.When we have friends spend the night I love to cook up something hot for breakfast. Recently we had friends over to watch THE GATORS STOMP THE HE77 OUTTA OSU TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP! WOOHOO! That morning started with My version of VWaV's sundried tomato and asparagus (i use zucchini) frittata, herb roasted potatoes, and fresh avacado. Here ya see it mid scarf as I almost forgot to snap a pic of it's yumminess.Always a crowd pleaser. I love that so many people eat this and just assume it's eggs...even when they know I'm a vegan. silly. They ooh and ah over the flavor and then i tell them it's tofu. love that startled if tofu never tasted this good! ;)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happiest New Year!

(one of three, yup....only three, fireworks that went off in Key West during the new year celebration. what a tease but really beautiful as seen from the marina!)

Hey everyone. I can't believe how long it's been since last I posted! The holidays were great, if not traditionally crazy. Hope the new year is treating you all well! I know I made more food than you're about to see, but I think that lots of repeats make for a very dull blog. hehe. Here's a recap (and i promise not to disappear again any time soon ;):

During a pre-holiday gathering of friends, I made the ol' standby snack for us all...NACHOS! I just threw some Follow Your Heart laden organic corn chips in the oven then topped with everything i could find in the house...pinto beans, chopped tomato (marinated in red wine vinegar, oregano, and a bit of sugar, avacado, Zapata's Fire Roasted Salsa Verde, Toffuti Better'n Sour Cream, black olives, and red onion.
This lent itself nicely to a nacho bowl for lunch the next day wit h the leftover beans and fixings that never made it to the nachos ('cause, honestly? that was one HUGE pan of nachos we devoured in no time flat!).

(Mom, stop reading right here....I'll let ya know when it's safe to check back and catch up! ;) As Christmas presents this year, I decided to gift friends and family (with the exception of my family who I've yet to mail theirs to...we call it extending the celebration!) these adorable carryout boxes of vegan cookies.

Everyone always falls in love with the chocolate chip recipe that i found here, so i knew i'd be making those. I also saw many of you dive into Dreena's Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies from Vive le Vegan, they looked so good that I had to try them as well.The dozens of cookies I baked this year were not without incident....I also had seen, on someone's blog (tho I cannot remember where), some candy cane chocolate chip cookies and thought it would be nice just to top off each box with one of those, being so festive. I broke out the hammer and went to town on the little candy canes I bought and happily mixed them into three batches of choc. chip cookie dough and put in the 'fridge to bake last. What I got? Wasn't pretty. One out of every dozen cookies looked like this

the rest? more like this
!! Granted, they still tasted amazing, but when you're giving out boxes with six cookies per box, you really want them to be pretty as well as yummy, no? This led to my moment of genius. I made Dreena's Choc. Almond Expl. cookies (have i mentioned yet how very much i LOVE these?!?!) but subbed peppermint extract for the almond and added some more choc. chips in the batter. I then added crushed candy canes only to the top just before baking. MUCH BETTER!With the cookies, I made up a cookbook of Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan's Greatest Found Recipes 2006. I only wish I'd thought to do this earlier in the year as it was a complete rush to get done at the last minute. i think I just may do this every year from now on, and look into getting bound books as I'll have more time. I'm also hoping that the Greatest Found part will, in time, change to a collection of my own vegan culinary creations! I will not, however, make that many cookies as gifts EVER. AGAIN. I found that, while I love cooking, baking is best, for me, done when I've just got one dessert to make at a time. 20 dozen cookies makes for a very crazed me. ;)

Sometime between cookie baking and Christmas I managed to whip up some of Susan's crustless mini quichesand my vegan caesar to take to a family dinner, both were a huge hit.

For Christmas Dinner, I brought along my Naked Tofu Marsala (which here, you see totally full of roasted brussel sprouts...MMMmmmmmmmm!), Vegan French Bread,
and (of course) my Caesar Salad. Everything was devoured and nothing makes me happier than that (well, 'cept maybe noticing that the nonvegan bread and cheese laden salad were left behind in the dust, woohoo!). I'm tellin ya, too.....all those people who turn their nose up at brussel sprouts? Watching them convert right before my very eyes is so satisfying.

Having made a ton of the quiches, I found a day or two later that, broken up, they make a great wrap filling (seen here with some leftover broccoli we had and some extra sauteed mushrooms. the quiches already had 'shrooms, onion, and red pepper in 'em).All that cooking and it was bound to lead to an Amy's burrito meal at some point. hehe. This one was extra yummy with fresh tomato, avacado, red onion, and more of that broccoli, black olive then topped with Zapata's Fire Roasted Salsa Verde). I'm thinking that I need to take a day per month and whip out some homemade burritos then freeze 'em. This would certainly be just as easy!

My sister in law is about to be married and came down to go wedding dress shopping in Orlando. The night before our big day out I warmed us up with some easy Lentil Curry. I used what we had on hand so the typical sweet potato was exchanged for some tiny yukons but the rest is my usual onion, lentil, cauliflower, can o' tomatoes, sea salt, and curry powder mix.
I love how, in one pot, you can just toss in all your ingredients, go get some stuff done, and come back to a truly wonderful meal. This and a green veggie and I'm in heaven!

For our venture out to find the perfect dress (which we totally did, and had the most AMAZING time doing it), I made sure to bring along Lara Bars and a quick tempeh salad I whipped up of poached tempeh, sunflower seeds, tamari, Vegannaise, fresh dill, chopped green onion, yellow bell pepper, shredded carrot, and salt and pepper.Packed with some wheat-free rye crackers, this was reeeeeally simple to make and sooo good to bring along.

For Christmas, a friend of Oh My Goddess Tempeh fame (thank you, Marlo!!!!) gifted me with the most AMAZING chocolates which are, conveniently, vegan.They're dark chocolate leaves with a minty sugar on one side which we've all agreed is formulated from crack. To have one is to eat the whole box. Marlo is an English and Drama teacher so I have to laugh when I look at this picture of a leaf and see a drama mask staring back at me.....see it?

After Christmas we were off to the Keys for New Years Eve.Our first night we were put up in this cool little bungalow type room, with a complete kitchen (a must for any vegan out in the world, if you can swing it. this always allows me to pack a bunch of food and cook the whole time we're there. Granted, I'm convinced the staple food item on the Island? RUM! hehe)and here is our cute bed upstairs, tho, even at five feet tall I nearly gave myself a concussion three times up here. I ended up being veeeery glad we had to move to the Marina resort for the remainder of our stay.For this trip I packed a bunch of fruit and nuts, along with leftover curry, the makings of a soba noodle salad, and a tofu scramble that's been my favorite lately:

heat olive oil in skillet, add chopped onion. Throw in crumbled tofu and add dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, tamari, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme to taste. once that begins to brown, add sliced mushrooms and chopped broccoli. saute until broccoli is crisp tender, add shredded carrot and zucchini, saute just a min, plate and top with avacado.
I just packed it all up with some wraps and basically nuked it daily for breakfast, adding the zucchini and avacado after it was heated. I can never tire of this kind of breakfast, tho i am trying to have soy free days here and there, but breakfast out in the world (especially when you dont' want to fill up on bread type items) is near impossible to come by.

the soba salad was much enjoyed on our balcony overlooking the was like being on the deck of our own yacht, you know...without the plasma screen on deck or the dirty oil and exhaust in the water below.
our trip was nothing short of amazing. we had the absolute BEST time, the Cap'n and I, just relaxing and ambling around the island of Key West, enjoying the most tropical and gorgeous weather. I can't think of any better way to ring in the new year. We missed hanging out with our friends (we love to throw a party or two), but have plans to lug as many folks as we can down there with us next year. Such a magical place.

And I'm not kidding when I say that Rum should be added as a fifth food group down there. Whenever we go I seem to consume more rum in the form of Mojitos and my new favorite, Stumbling Sailors, than any one person should. Amazingly, I find myself hangover free while there. I figure it's a combination of the ocean air, tropical breezes, good vibes, and walking it all off as we seem to get lost or make a wrong turn at least three times daily during our visits. ;) To commemorate our good time we snagged this booty for the bar.
But home we had to come, to dreary skies...Once home, we were beat so we settled on a comforting bowl of whole wheat spaghetti with Amore Pesto Paste mixed with some olive oil, sundried tomatoes, and hempseed. Easy, check! Yummy, check! Filling, check!after a day or two of the back from vacation blues, tho, it was time to whip up something new in the kitchen. I've never made any kind of latkes in my life but the sweet potatoes in the pantry were calling my name one morning and these were born (with a side of apple heated with some EB in the iron skillet, with a little agave and cinnamon added.....mmmmmm)I just shredded one sweet potato, dried it out a bit in a dish towel, then added chopped green onion, cayenne pepper, egg replacer for two eggs, sea salt and some flour to bind better as the egg replacer wasn't really doin it. i dropped these little glops of the mix into heated sunflower oil in my iron skillet and impatiently waited for them to brown on each side (they smelled sooo good!). so easy and the cayenne really gave them a nice kick to match the sweetness of the potatoes. i'll definitely make these again but will try to be more patient and use less oil. Kitty liked the looks of 'em too.In a moment of unlikemeness (my own word, thank you ;) I picked up some Italian seasoned Tofurkey slices at the grocery store and enjoyed this easy lunch one day from their suggestion on the box. I toasted a sprouted wheat roll and added a bit of Vegannaise and dijon mustard, then topped the Tofurkey slices with sliced tomato, banana pepper, and butter lettuce.
While not my favorite thing in the world (I'm just not won over by fake deli meats, honestly), it was actually better than I anticipated. And, honestly? the convenience of just making a quick sandwhich was much appreciated after the holidays.

We had the amazing pleasure of hangin with our nephew recently and surprised him with a drip to Disney Quest in Orlando. If you've never been or haven't heard, DQ is a mecca of all things video games and virtual reality. For just over $30 you can spend an entire day playing everything inside (on all three floors!) totally free. I don't know about you, but there's little i find more fun to do on a dreary day then to find m'self immersed in game after game of Donkey Kong, Galaga, Frogger, Pac Man, Air Hockey, Trivia games, Driving Games, and Virutal Reality games where you can fight alien villians with light swords or hop onto the floating deck of your own Pirate Ship and use cannons to sink other ships and ward off evil skeleton ghosts. SOOOO MUCH FUN! But the more blogworthy part was my was vegan!
A really delicious wrap of spicy rice, beans, cilantro (cilantro!!), corn and salsa. typically it comes with some sort of meat but i just had them leave it out. It was nice to have something substantial to eat during our break from all the gaming. hehe.

I end this unbelievably long post with two of my new favorite things from one of my most beloved Christmas presents, the Vegan Planet cookbook (thank you Lee and Ashley!). Does anybody else just LOVE Thai coconut soup but not want to bother with the exotic ingredients every recipe you come across seems to call for? Robin Robertson promised to deliver that same outstanding flavor with nothing but typical vegan staples....and boy does she with this one! Behold, Thai Style Coconut SoupWhat you can't see is the cubes of tofu and mounds of mushrooms and shallots that just soak up the flavor I've been craving ever since I became vegan. (our favorite Thai place uses shrimp paste in their curries so I don't go there nearly as much as we used to). You could add other veggies if you choose, but I think the simplicity of the way she's created it really allows the flavor to stand out.

I served this with our much beloved veggie rice paper wraps with spicy peanut sauce. what an amazing, healthy, and tasty meal! I even made my own veggie stock (using her recipe) for the soup, something I always put off but wanted to do. sooo easy! I'll never use store bought stock again!!!!

the other new favorite thing from this cookbook (ok, so maybe it's the only other thing i've tried yet, but wow. i'm won over already) is her Tuna Free Sandwich Filling.
I've been putting spoonfuls of it on wrap pcs like above as snacks when i'm hungry throughout the day. I love that there's no soy in it like most mock fillings. This uses Chickpeas and blanched almonds with some Vegannaise, scallions, celery, lemon juice, and Kelp powder to create a really tasty filling. I find that it's best to make it a day ahead as it just gets better and better the more you let the chickpeas and almonds soak up the flavor and get a little softer, and it all comes together beautifully.

whew! tired of me yet? and I didn't even get to the breadmaker or chef's knife that the Cap'n got me for xmas! I'll just leave those for the next post...which I promise won't take another month to get to. ;)

Hope this finds everyone happy and well! Happiest New Year! and yes, we cinched our good fortune for the new year by having some black eyed-peas 'n greens on new year's day. cannot get enough of this one...just saute onion and garlic, add beans and greens, splash in some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and YUM, soo good!

Oh, and thanks for all the comments on my last entry. That first shot was not, as it looks, some acrobatic act of a veeery vertically challenged vegan but taken from the extended arm of her very tall husband (he's 6'4"). hehe.