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!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ya Gotta Ask Yourself One Question This St. Patty's Day, Do I Feel Lucky?

It's your lucky day, there is a new recipe!  And in my opinion, it's a good one, too! :)  As you probably know, this Thursday is St. Patrick's day, and while I am not Catholic, I am (at least partially) Irish, so I will be celebrating anyway.  Don't worry, whether you personally are Irish or not is irrelevant, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's day, and (ok, almost) everyone will like this recipe! 

I wish I knew more Irish recipes, but unfortunately I only know one.  Luckily for you, it's a recipe for Irish soda bread, a delicious pastry that is great any time of year.  I don't know that traditional Irish cooking is very vegan-friendly, but this is one recipe easily translates into a vegan version that is indistinguishable from it's traditional counterpart. 

You will need:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached flour
5 tablespoons vegan white sugar, divided
1 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons earth balance
1 cup almond milk with 1 tbs white vinegar mixed in
1/3 cup brown raisins
1/3 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 8-inch-diameter cake pan. Combine flour, 4 tablespoons white sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Add earth balance in chunks, heat briefly for 20 seconds in microwave. Rub in earth balance until coarse mixture forms. Make a divot in the center of your flour mixture. Pour in almond milk/vinegar mixture. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend with a rubber spatula. Mix in raisins.

Pour dough into prepared pan and flatten slightly. Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tbs white sugar, 1 tbs brown sugar and a light dusting of cinnamon.

Your mixture should look like this:

Bake bread until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. This should be about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes.  If desired, melt a little earth balance in the microwave and brush onto the surface of the bread with a pastry brush. This bread is best served warm with earth balance spread on top. 

When done it should look like this:

Irish soda bread is somewhere between a raisin bread and a scone.  Some are dry, but this one is a moister version than many.  This makes it ideal to eat warmed up with some earth balance, and it also doesn't hurt to make a steaming mug of decaf with french vanilla soy creamer to go with it for the perfect evening snack.

So, try your hand at making some Irish Soda Bread this Thursday, and ask yourself one question: Do you feel lucky?  Well, do ya, punk?  If you make this recipe, I don't see how you couldn't be!  Happy eating, and happy St. Patrick's Day! :)