Monday, June 23, 2008


Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a confession.

I bake as much for the dough and batter as I do for the finished product. In fact, I usually like the batter of brownies and cakes more than I like the baked version. I've been known to make an entire batch of cookie dough and freeze it "for later" which of course means "later I will eat it frozen". The very best part about vegan baking: I don't worry about licking the bowl. There are no yucky eggs (or spoiled dairy) to make me sick.

These cookies are a notable exception. I enjoy the dough, but I like the finished cookies even more. I loooove chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels; unfortunately, unless I make them myself they pretty much always contain dairy products or the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter pretzel is way off. These cookies hit the spot perfectly with their soft, crunchy, salty, peanut buttery, chocolaty goodness. And they are 100% whole grain to boot. I worked off the Giantoid Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie recipe in V'con but I changed it considerably. One the the things I did was lower the fat content. Let's be honest, any way you slice it they are peanut butter cookies so a certain amount of fat is inherent, but I am trying to cut out as much of the additional fat as I can get away with. I need to make a couple more batches to figure that out and then I will post the recipe.

Until then I leave you to drool...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pizza Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? I have pretty much always loved any combination of cheese and bread. (Note: if you successfully invent a vegan cheese that actually tastes like real cheese I will keep you in business, or at least try my hardest!). Last time I was at TJ's I picked up on of their whole wheat pizza dough's for a quick dinner.

Hawaiian Pizza

For half the pizza I made B's favorite. This is simply veggie Canadian bacon, canned pineapple pieces, and teese. I used a couple of tablespoons of leftover alfredo sauce for the base of both sides because I didn't have any red sauce thawed out.
Frankly, I thought the veggie Canadian bacon smelled like canned dog food. But B enjoyed it... so take it for what you will.

Veggie Pizza

My half was all veggie. I love veggie pizza, but I hate when some of the veggies have cooked while some are still raw and the whole thing is watery. So for all my veggie pizzas I precook most of the vegetables to make them tender and dry them out a bit. This one had onions, sweet red pepper, and mushrooms all sauteed until tender crisp and the mushrooms had released most of their water. At the very end I threw in a couple handfuls of baby spinach and just tossed it to wilt it. All that went on my half along with raw, halved grape tomatoes and a sprinkle of teese.

The whole pizza baked in a preheated (500) oven for about 12 minutes until the teese melted and the crust was golden brown. Totally satisfying without making me feel all gross. And the leftover half of my half was just as good at room temperature for lunch the next day!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Nice Suprise and a Short Rant

I know I mentioned that I passed my Comprehensive Exams for my Master's program a couple months ago, and I did actually graduate (in the hottest temperature on record for that date - absolutely freaking miserable) about 3 weeks ago.

Well yesterday B and I left to go to a BBQ at a friend's house and we stopped at my parents on the way to help them with some furniture. But SURPRISE we were really going to the graduation party B and Mom organized. It was so sweet and I had no clue. It was my very first surprise party ever! Thanks everyone.

On to the Rant. B's mom offered to pick up cake and B very thoughtfully asked her to get a vegan one as well. (Aside: when he double checked with her that the cake had no dairy or eggs, she indicated that she thought vegan was a flavor. I laughed my ass off when I heard that story.) Anyway, so there was a vegan cake and a regular cake for the party.


There is NO reason ANY cake should EVER be that BAD. I swear it is that kind of crap that gives veganism a bad rap. B's mom asked me to try it before she had to leave. I took a bite and then the dog got the rest (luckily Mrs. B's feelings are not easily hurt and she found my reaction entertaining). I pointed out that all the cupcakes I had made for Grandpa B's birthday party were vegan and everyone loved them. They were good by any standard. And that, my friends, should be our standard. Food should not be "good, for a vegan...". I realize tastes and preferences vary and obviously some of us like the taste of "healthy" things more than others. But for the love, if you are actually selling something, or even serving it to other people, it should actually taste good. I am not going to eat crap simply because it is vegan. If you can't make or find an acceptable alternative to an animal product either modify your recipe, or make something that doesn't require it. Just because I choose (or for some people due to allergies or religious reasons can't) eat animal products does not mean I am willing to eat flavorless, tough, ugly food. SERIOUSLY.

That is all. End Rant.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hot Latin ... Dinner

I ::heart:: mexican food. I suppose that is to be expected since I was born and raised in SoCal, but just in case there was any doubt I wanted to make that perfectly clear. A lot of authentic mexican food had ungodly amounts of fat, but I have found that I can get great flavor without all the crazy quantities of fat. This is an example of a completely inauthentic, but totally delicious, recipe makeover. I loosely based this on a dish I saw Rachel Ray make, but I increased the protein, cut some of the carbs, and of course veganized it.

Roasted Stuffed Peppers
This recipe makes 4 large portions. It makes yummy leftovers so make the whole recipe even if you won't eat it all that day. I think this would be extremely omni-friendly.

For the Peppers:

4 large, fresh poblano peppers

Adjust the top rack in your oven to 6-8 inches from the top heating element. Set your oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil (again, this saves your pan and makes clean-up wayyy easier) and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cut off any extra long stems on the peppers so they don't burn. Evenly space your peppers on the pan and place in oven. Keep one eye on them while you work on the filling. It should take 5-10 per side, depending on your oven. When the first side is well charred flip the peppers and broil until the other side is the same. At this point the peppers should also be pretty soft. Remove from oven and set aside while you finish the filling and the peppers are cool enough to handle.

For the Filling

1 onion, diced

1 small red bell pepper, diced

8 oz corn, fresh or frozen

1 jalapeno, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pkg tempeh, grated

1 tsp oregano

1 heaping tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp ancho chile powder

16 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

veggie stock, about 1 1/2 cups

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded vegan cheese, optional

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat a large skillet over medium. Spray with non-stick spray and add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, salt and pepper and saute 5-7 minutes until veggies soften a bit. Add corn and crank up the heat to medium-high. You want to get some color on everything so the roasted flavor goes through the whole dish. Once you've developed some color add the tempeh and stir to incorporate. Add the garlic and spices and stir to coat. Add part of the veggie stock, start with about a half a cup, and scrape up the fond at the bottom of the pan. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes, stir to combine and allow to heat through. Add more veggie stock at this point if your mixture is looking to dry, you want it to be slightly saucy and not at all dry. Taste the filling and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Turn off the heat under the pan and let it hang out while you work on the peppers. The peppers should be cool enough to handle at this point, leave them on the pan to build them. With a sharp knife cut a slit in the middle of each pepper you want it to run from just below the stem to a little ways above the end. If you want to make them very pretty you can leave the stems on. I took them off for ease of eating. Open up your pepper and remove the seeds and ribs. Pile in the filling. It's about a cup per pepper, but it will depend on the size of your pepper. I had about a cup of filling left over at the end, so I just saved it for enchilada's later in the week.

Top each pepper with a 1/4 cup of cheese if you are using it. Pop back under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, add a little color, and warm the peppers back up, no more than 5-7 minutes.Top it with chopped cilantro and serve with beans and guacamole. If you like enchilada sauce you can serve that on the side, it makes it nice and saucy. You could also top it with enchilada sauce if you don't want to use the cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Indian Love

I love Indian food. A lot. My mom hates curry, so growing up I had very limited exposure to curry based cuisines, especially Indian. No time to waste making up for lost years spent not eating curry! Indian food is a fantastic cuisine as much of it is vegetarian to begin with, the only challenge is it is heavily dependent on dairy, but most of that is easily substituted. I make an Indian feast at least once a month. The following was the latest round.

I made Susan from FatFreeVegan's Rasedar Rajma. I made no real changes to the recipe (please pick your jaw up off the floor). It was really delicious, I highly recommend it. It does call for a couple of spices which you may not have, but you should be able to locate them easily if you have an Indian grocer around. Otherwise, you can find practically any spice you could possibly want at Penzeys. If you use a lot of spices, or have a few people to share with, I think San Francisco Herb Co. is a fantastic resource.

From Vegan Dad I made Potato and Cauliflower Curry which was also super delicious. B liked this one especially (of course, he's happy any time I serve him potatoes). I didn't have any fresh chili so I just added a couple dashes of hot sauce. I also had the better part of a cauliflower to use up, and only four small potatoes, so I think I ended up reversing the proportions of potato and cauliflower, but we really liked it.

The final dish was lightly curried zucchini and peas. I added coconut milk, but decided after that it would have been just as good, probably better, without. The dish looks pretty, but was nothing to write home about, so I'm not going to post it until I figure out a better version.

To go along side, I made a half recipe of Tandoori Rotis by Vegan Dad. Here's a picture of them in the oven. The one on the left has been in about a minute, the one on the right is just before it came out. It was my first time making a bread this way and I was so excited it worked that I made B come into the kitchen to look!

While they puffed up perfectly I was less than thrilled with their texture, they were too tough for me. I plan to try them again, they are a super fast, but next time I'm going to try kneading them less. I also added 2 tablespoons of soy yogurt instead of the last 1/4 cup of water, in hopes that would tenderize them, but alas it did not seem to. I also added a teaspoon of curry powder, but it wasn't enough flavor to stand up to the other dishes.

I encourage you to make your own Indian feast. It's delicious, nutritious, and makes great leftovers!