Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This July, Celebrate Your Independence.... From Animal Products :)

Hello dear readers, how ARE you??  I know I have been nearly MIA for the last two months, but I have some big stuff in the works that has been keeping me occupied (that I promise I will tell you all about later).  :)  As for right now, I have the 4th of July on my mind, and thought I would share one of my easiest, and favoritest dishes with you, Macaroni Salad. 

Now as we discussed at Memorial day, Holiday picnics are a place where us vegans can not only adapt, but shine, as we fool our omni friends with our culinary prowess.  Not only is this Macaroni Salad a picnic-perfect food, but really it's like the best Macaroni Salad ever.  Now if you're into the sweeter versions, this one isn't for you, as it is on the savory side, but I promise it is packed with flavor and goes great with a grilled veggie burger!

You will need:
One box elbow macaroni (I like dreamfields, vegan and low-carb, yay!)
Shredded Carrots
Sweet Vidalia Onion
Garlic Salt

Boil your noodles until soft, strain them and then run under cold tap water until the noodles feel cold.  Add about half a chopped medium onion, two handfuls of shredded carrot, and start with two heaping blops of vegenaise (you can add more later if it's not enough.  You want the salad creamy, but not sopping wet).  Stir, and see if you need more vegenaise.  If not, take your garlic salt, and shake gently over the bowl making two passes.  Don't overdo it, but make sure you can taste it!  Stir it all up, taste test, and if it is delicious (as it should be!), refridgerate until your event.  Making this a few hours early lets the garlic flavor sink in, and increases the yum factor. :)

The final product should look just like traditional Macaroni Salad you would see at any picnic, expcept without all those pesky animal ingredients.  I love a situation that is the best of both worlds!  Happy 4th of July everyone, I hope your picnic is fun and animal-free! :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day: Very Nearly Vegan Edition

So this past weekend was memorial day, and of course the husband and I were invited to a few BBQ's.  You may wonder, whats a very nearly vegan to do in such a situation?  Do you make food just for yourself?  Will the omni's eat it?  Am I going to be the weirdo at the barbeque?  Never fear folks, I am here to share with you some fun and easy recipes that work great for Memorial Day and all the summer events after.

First, we will start with the easiest recipe in my repetoire.  Grandma Jones' Red Slaw.  Red slaw is just a red cabbage cole slaw, but it's pretty, yummy, and has all of three ingredients.  You will need:

1 head of red cabbage

Cut the cabbage up into cole slaw sized pieces, and put in a mixing bowl.  Add enough Vegenaise to make it creamy, but not "wet" (measuring is not necessary).  Dash in some salt and stir.  Taste.  If it's not salty enough, add a little more.  Don't go overboard.  The salty taste increases as it sets, so if it's just a little bit not salty enough, you're good.  Put it in the fridge for an hour before serving.

It should look like this:

It really is the simplest recipe in the world, but it's very tasty and a perfect summer salad.  Omni's won't know or care that it is vegan

Next up we have pasta salad.  I am a pasta salad FREAK.  I could eat it every night in summer, I swear!  This particular salad is my lacto-ovo hubby's fave, vegan or not, so I am sure your omni friends and family will like it too.  You will need:

One box multi-color rotini
Assorted fresh veggies of different colors
(I used grape tomatoes, sweet vidalia onion, carrot shreds, yellow pepper, cucumber and olives)
Italian dressing

Put your water on to boil, and then go and chop your veggies.
Cook the pasta till tender, then run under cold water till there is no heat left in the pasta.
Add the veggies and dressing to the pasta, and voila!  You have an awesome pasta salad that is healthy, pretty to look at, refreshing and EASY!  Yay!

Finally, I always try to bring a dessert to these things so I can be assured that I have one I can eat.  I think it's not even officially Memorial Day if you don't have Strawberry Shortcake, so that is what I always bring.

You will need:
A Bundt pan
1 box duncan hines yellow cake mix
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 box strawberries
1 box blue berries
1 container Concord Foods Strawberry Glaze
Tofutti wildberry ice cream (or your flavor of choice)
1 can Soy Whip

Grease your Bundt pan.  Add 1 cup applesauce to the cake mix and stir till there aren't many lumps.  Put the batter in the pan and cook for the recommended time. 

Wash and chop the strawberries, add the blue berries and mix with the glaze.  Now for you purists out there, the glaze is totally unnecessary.  This is totally delish without it, but if you'll be at an all day event the glaze does keep the fruit fresher (although you will be ingesting high fructose corn syrup and red #40, so if you're avoiding them, skip it).

Then you simply cut a piece of cake, top with ice cream, put the fruit mixture on next and then soywhip is the final touch.  The nice thing is if your omni's are super picky you can bring tofutti for you and the real deal for them and everyone is happy.  Unfortunately, this part was gobbled up so fast I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but you guys get the idea.  Don't you just love summer?  I know I do!  Hope your Memorial Day was as yummy as mine, happy eating!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shake, Shake, Shake!

Shake that vegan ice cream! Doo do dooo doo!

Ok, so I don't know about all the other newbie vegans, but  I personally find that ice cream is the hardest thing to replicate, and the thing I miss the most since going vegan.  I mean tons of companys try, but I personally just don't like most of the products. 

At all times there are like 10 pints of vegan ice cream in my freezer, most of which have two bites out of them, and then I keep them out of guilt for how expensive they were until they get freezer burn so bad I finally feel ok throwing them out.  Sigh. 

Now, to be fair, some vegan ice cream is great.  Marry Me bars are amazing, Tofutti Wild Berry is like the Holy Grail, but the problem is I have trouble finding them in stores.  So what is a vegan ice cream lover to do?

Buy mail order ice cream.  You're probably saying "Mail order ice cream?  Whaaaaaaaaaaat??" but I swear, it's real.  A kosher company called Oh nuts!  sells Klein's amazing Vegan ice cream.  I had to try this, obviously, so I placed an order for my two non-veg faves, cookies and cream and mint chocolate chip.

The ice cream arrived a few days later in a neat box of dry ice.  The ice cream wasn't the slightest bit melty, in fact it was frozen solid, and I had to thaw it out just a little before I could get a spoon in it!

The ice cream itself is very good, aside from Tofutti Wild Berry, which is indistingishable from regualr ice cream, this is the best vegan ice cream I have ever had.  The cookies and cream is a very light ice cream and the flavor is slightly reminiscent of marshmallows.  The mint is quite good, but I wish it was just a pinch mintier.  (not to nitpick though, this is still BY FAR the best vegan mint chip I have encountered!)

Of course just an ice cream review isn't much of a blog post, so I decided to make milkshakes and show you my absolute favorite milkshake recipe.

You will need:

Klein's cookies and cream ice cream
Hershey's Syrup
Peanut Butter
Almond Milk
Whizzer's chocolate beans (any vegan M&M style candy will do)

Put a couple of scoops of ice cream, a tbs or two of PB, a splash of almond milk and a squirt of the syrup in a blender with about a quarter of bag of chocolate beans.  If your blender has a milkshake button, use it! :)  When your shake reaches optimal thickness to your liking, pour it into a cup and enjoy. 

I meant to show you what it looked like as a finished product, but it was so yummy I drank it before I remembered.  So here is my empty glass, LOL!

If that isn't a testament to how yummy this was, I don't know what is, haha!  Happy eating! :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ain't No Party Like A Vegan Party...

Cuz' a vegan party don't stop!  I know, I know, corny title, but it suits the post, ok?  Anyway, I recently hosted a little soiree at my home for about 10 of my closest non-veg friends and was a little worried about what to serve.  I was tempted to simply cater the event with regular food from a restaurant that I knew they would enjoy, but then I decided to make the event a project. 

I challenged myself to make vegan dishes that the non-veg people would not only enjoy, but not even realize they were vegan.  Now I generally don't like to trick people, so I decided at the beginning of the day that if anyone asked me, I would totally fess' up, but I wasn't going to offer the information up voluntarily before that happened.  Luckily for me, no one asked, so my experiment went on as planned.  :)

As I go along here, I do have to warn you, this is party food, not health food.  I am sure some of these items contain MSG or food coloring, and I am POSITIVE they contain fat and sugar, LOL!  That said, they do not contain any animal ingredients, which was my only goal.

First on the menu, chips/veggies and dip.  This was totally easy, a no-brainer.  I got Lay's BBQ chips and Bugles (both naturally vegan) and then mixed one container of Tofutti with a package of Wylers Onion soup mix.

As you can see there was a tiny package of Ranch dip that wasn't vegan, but it came with the veggie tray and was the only non-vegan offering of the day.  On an amusing note, that dip went unfinished and people kept raving over the vegan one, including some folks who wouldn't have even tried if they knew it was *GASP* vegan. :)

Secondly, a party just isn't a party without spinach dip.  Really.  If there isn't going to be a hollowed out bread bowl at your event, count me out. ;)  Luckily, the traditional Knorr Vegetable Dip mix is vegan, hurray!  I conveniently swapped out the mayo and sour cream for Vegenaise and Tofutti Sour Supreme, and added the green onions and water chestnuts as usual.  I was able to buy the bread at my usual grocery store bakery as it was already vegan. 

I served the dip with the bits of hollowed out bread, as well as some tasty whole wheat crackers.  It was TRULY indistinguishable from regular.  And you can trust me, I am picky about my spinach dip.

Third on the menu was fondue.  If you haven't tried fondue, you are missing out on a really fun and generally messy experience.  Although in my pre-vegan years I was obsessed with cheese fondue, I now obviously stick to chocolate fondue.  When I first went vegan, I thought I would also have to give this up as I liked Milk Chocolate best, but happily I have discovered that semi-sweet works wonderfully too.

You will need:
1 bag semi-sweet chips (make sure the brand you buy is vegan, shop rite's store brand is, and thats what I used)
Almond Milk
Powdered sugar

Pour the chips in a pot, put the heat on low.  Add a splash of almond milk.  Let them melt a little, stirring continuously. As they become fully melted, add about 2 tbs powdered sugar.  After this you have two choices.  If you don't have a fondue pot, leave it on the stove on super low heat and enjoy from there.  If you DO have one, pour the mixture into it, and light the candle or sterno to keep it warm.  Do this close to your event time so you don't burn your chocolate.

I served mine with fresh fruit and both chocolate and vanilla Oreo's, which are both naturally vegan.  This was a HUGE hit.  There is something about fondue that just brings people together.  Didn't hurt that this was a group of women and a pot of melted chocolate. ;)

Finally, I think every party needs some sort of cake.  Ideally some sort of cake art, or alternatively cupcakes.  I took the easy way out of course and used boxed mix.  I forget which brand at the moment, but I believe it was Duncan Hines (I just read boxes till I found one without eggs/dairy).  Then, instead of preparing it with the eggs it called for, I added a cup of unsweetened applesauce.  For some reason, applesauce acts in just the same manner as the eggs without adding any cholesterol or harming any animals, yay!  It also makes your cake lower in fat and fluffy/moist, YUM! 

I frosted it with strawberry icing, also I think from Duncan Hines, BUT seriously I don't remember for sure, so READ THOSE LABELS before you buy, please! :)

For decorations I topped them with Ring Pop's because they were colorful and adorable.  I don't think anyone ate the Ring Pop's, but they were cute to look at anyway.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, no one asked me "Uh.... is this vegan?", no one seemed to chuck a full plate of food in the garbage and I got a ton of compliments on the food.  The best validation that it turned out ok?  No leftovers. :)  Always a good sign!  Happy vegan entertaining!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Brunch Will Leave You Stuffed

Ahhh, weekends.  The perfect time for sitting down to a hot, indulgent brunch that you would never take the time to make on a week day. 

This weekend I found some inspiration from an old non-vegan favorite; stuffed French toast.  I fugured it wouldn't be too hard to veganize, and luckily for me I had some free samples of the new Galxy Nutritional Foods cream cheese to work with. (Thanks guys!  Free samples? *swoon* I love the perks of being a blogger!) Cream cheese is essential for stuffed French toast, and I have to say, I really love this new brand.  It worked perfectly for the filling, which was super easy to make, and ridiculously good.  Like lick-the-plate good, even if I do say so myself.  ;-)

If you plan to make this dish, you will need to make the filling first, so it has time to set while you make the rest of it.  There are only three ingredients in the filling, so it's pretty easy to make. 

You will need:

1/2 package plain vegan cream cheese
4 decent sized strawberries
4 tbs powdered sugar

You will need to clean and cut your strawberries first, and you will want to cut them into tiny pieces, like this:

Cutting them into smaller pieces helps the berries release more flavor into the cream cheese. 

Stir the strawberries into the cream cheese with the four tbs of sugar, and put into the fridge to set while you make the French toast.  This will make it firm up and increase the flavor.  It should look like this:

For the French toast, you will want to start out with my classic recipe, which you can read here.

In addition to the ingredients from that recipe, I added 1/2 a tsp of Indian black salt for egg flavor and a dash of tumeric for color.  (You can't see the color in the french toast mixture, but it shows up when it cooks, so don't add extra tumeric, 1 dash is enough)

You can see how yellow one dash makes it when it cooks here:

Totally looks like omni French toast, right?  Yum!

Anyway, when your toast is done cooking, bring out the filling you put in the fridge earlier, spread on the toast and fold on a diagonal.  Then top the toast with some additional fresh strawberries (blueberries would have been even better, but I didn't have any), a little powdered sugar, and a dollop of soy whip. 

Oh wow, I cannot even tell you how much I enjoyed this breakfast.  It has weekend brunch written all over it, doesn't it?  This is perfect weekend food, but please, don't just take my word for it, this has to be tasted to be believed. 

Happy eating!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Spinach Puffs!

Today's title is courtesy of Kronk, from The Emporer's New Groove.  During a political coup, plans go awry for fear that his delicate spinach puffs may burn.  Naturally, being a Disney movie, hilarity ensues. :)  Of course Kronk's concern for his spinach puffs is understandable, if all spinach puffs are as tasty as the vegan beauties I will be sharing with you today! Kronk is definitely the inspiration for this delicious vegan appetizer.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Emporer's New Groove, you are missing out on one of Disney's all time funniest movies.  My family quotes it constantly, and we work "Wrong Lever!  Why do we even have that lever?!" into many situations where it technically does not apply.  Kronk (voiced by the awesome Patrick Warburton) is a highlight of the movie, and you will find yourself quoting him later.  You will also want some spinach puffs to snack on while you watch, because spinach puffs are yummy, and at least in this case, ridiculously easy too!

You will need:

One roll Pillsbury Crescent Dough, Original (Yes, it's vegan!)
Soy Feta by Veg Cuisine
spinach (I think I used maybe... half a cup?  eyeball it)
1 tsp Earth balance
Garlic Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 (or whatever the pillsbury dough says.... I am writing this from memory)

Heat the frozen spinach in the microwave with the Earth Balance and Garlic Salt. 
(This is actually optional, if you want you can use canned spinach without butter or salt if you want it to be less fattening/salty.  I do not recommend fresh spinach in this case, unless you boiled it first)

Roll out your dough in two sheets and cover evenly with spinach, and slices of the Feta cheese substitute. 

Take one end of the sheet and roll inward, like you would a beach towel, till you have two rolls. (you should take it from the end, not the long sides)

With a sharp, serated knife, cut each roll into four pieces, for a total of 8.  The dough will want to tear, try to cut carefully.  This is the tricky part!  When completed, they should look like this:

As you can see, some turn out better than others.  This doesn't matter, even the ugly ones are delightful!

Put the tray into the preheated oven, and set the timer for 12 minutes.  This should make them the perfect golden brown  color, something to this effect:

These spinach puffs are buttery golden perfection, a real crowd pleaser every time.  It is my favorite kind of recipe, delicious like you worked on it all day, quick like you only had fifteen minutes to come up with something, LOL!

Anyway, I would like to go out a high note, with some of Kronk's best moments.  Thanks for the inspiration, Disney!  Happy eating, folks! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Penne No-Vodka

As I have mentioned previously, I am a huge fan of Italian food.  I love it so much, I am pretty much made of pasta.  Every inch you can squeeze on me is directly attributed to either dessert or noodles, something I struggle with daily, lol!

My highest concern when going vegan was veganizing my beloved Italian favorites, but alas my continuing struggles with fettucine alfredo have been well documented, and there hasn't been any success on that front so far.  Tonight I thought I would try my hand at my second favorite Italian dish, Penne Vodka, which is a delicious dish consisting of penne pasta and a creamy rosa sauce. 

Bear in mind, I have never made this dish before, even when I wasn't vegan I left it to the professionals.  Because of this, I had no idea how to make it, and I totally winged it.  I do know the real deal contains vodka, (the alcohol cooks off, but it's supposed to do something for the dish.  No idea what.) but I don't keep that in my home so that was out.  I just kind of guessed at what else I thought might be in it, and created a little dish I like to call "Penne No-Vodka", which just so happened to turn out delicious and actually pretty close in flavor.

If you want to make it, you will need:

1/2 Box Whole Grain Penne
1/3 of a jar marinara
1/2 package Trader Joe's Chicken-Less Strips
2 tsp Minced Garlic
Generous splash So Delicious plain coconut creamer
3 tbs Garlic Chive Galaxy Nutrition Vegan Cream Cheese (New product, SOOOO good!!)
3 tbs Wayfare foods We Can't Say it's Sour Cream
2 tsp sundried tomato spread (if you can't find this, it's totally optional, but I liked it)
Galaxy Nutrition Vegan Parmesan to taste

Putting it all together is pretty easy.  I started by sauteeing the mushrooms, garlic and chicken in a tiny bit of olive oil while I put the pasta in to cook.  When they were slightly browned, but not burned, I added the other ingredients and put it on simmer.  With the creamer, mushrooms and vegan parm, I just eyeballed it.  It's one of those situations where it is subjective to taste, so I will leave it up to you.

I continued to stir the simmering sauce on and off until the pasta was done cooking.  After draining the pasta, I topped it with the sauce, and put some additional parm on top, as well as dusting of garlic salt, but I have to remind you yet again, I am a garlic lovin gal, so add with caution! :)  This is how it turned out:

Honestly, I was really pleased with this dish.  I was so happy to discover you don't need dairy, or even vodka for that matter to make a decent penne vodka.  It was rich, creamy, and total comfort food.  All while having whole grains, protein, and a serving of veggies through the marinara.  If you threw in a salad, this would be a pretty balanced meal, even if it's not exactly low cal, I would put money on the fact that it blow's it's omni counterpart out of the water nutritionally. 

I was home alone tonight, so this recipe is geared towards dinner for one.  It made enough for the shown bowl of pasta, and a lunch sized portion to put away for later.  If you are feeding a group, use the whole jar of marinara and the whole box of pasta, and eyeball the rest of the ingredients.  Don't worry, you can do it.  You are a good chef, I have faith in you! :)

My only recommendation for next time would be sauteed onions, I think that would have made it perfect!  Anyway, hopefully you enjoy this dish, and have a wonderful weekend.  Happy eating!