Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween is my favorite holiday ... well, except for my birthday and maybe Christmas (because I get ... I mean, um, give presents). Nonetheless, it's a holiday that simply cannot pass by without some pumpkin-y skull-and-spider-themed dessert.

I'd planned to test a new recipe for my cookbook, a Vanilla-Spice cupcake with Pumpkin Mousse. But the mousse was a total fail. The cupcakes, however, turned out alright. I couldn't bring plain ole cupcakes to work today though, so I schmeared 'em with a quick chocolate ganache. Here are a couple of my besprinkled (yes, that is a word ... I looked it up) Vanilla-Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache:

They had a bit of a pumpkin-meets-chocolate taste going on, even though the vanilla-spice cupcakes didn't contain any pumpkin. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and such lent the vanilla cake that special pumpkin pie flavor. Ganache wouldn't be my favorite choice here, but it was a quick and easy save. After my pumpkin mousse failed, I got all sad and afraid I'd have to just throw the cupcakes away. Who wants an un-frosted cupcake, right? Luckily, ganache always comes to the rescue!

I'm going to try them again soon, but with a pumpkin buttercream instead of the goopy mousse. I'll keep ya'll posted. Until, have a spooktacular Halloween!

Attention testers: My Memphis-style tempeh barbecue sandwich recipe is up on the tester site.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tofu + Marmite = True Love

While in New Orleans last weekend, I stumbled onto this amazing tub of Cottage Tofu Salad at their gigantuan Whole Foods (theirs puts Memphis' Whole Foods to shame):

I always love, love, loved cottage cheese in my dairy-eatin' days, and I often try to recreate it with crumbled firm tofu, vegan mayo, and a pinch of sugar. But there was something really appealing about buying tofu cottage cheeze already prepared in a convenient little tub. I stashed a tub in our cooler and it made the 7-hour drive home to Memphis with me. Now, hold that thought.

When I arrived home and began unpacking, I opened my pantry door to see this adorable little guy waiting with open arms. Yep, my big ass jar of Champagne Marmite has a crush on me ... it's written all over his sophisticated European label. See ...

My buddy John P from Nashville (of The I-40 Kitchen blog fame) gifted me this huge jar of special edition champagne-flavored Marmite a few months ago. And what's my favorite thing to do with it? Spread it on whole wheat toast with faux cottage cheeze. Only this time, I didn't even have to make the cheeze myself:

Yep, this open-faced sandwich was pure bliss. I've been eating this meal everyday since I returned from my trip. But sadly, I finished that tub of cottage cheeze off at lunch. And our Memphis Whole Foods doesn't carry this stuff. Oh well ... guess I'm back to makin' it myself.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Supreme Vegan

Honestly, I don't really remember what comes on a supreme pizza. I was always a cheese, olive, and bell pepper girl in my pregan days. But I'd like to call last night's creation a Vegan Supreme Pizza, whether it really is or not:

It tasted pretty supreme to me! I piled melty mozzarella Teese (thanks daddy!), Yves pepperoni slices, bell pepper, black olives, and cremini mushrooms atop on a homemade whole wheat crust. Pure comfort food!

The crust — my go-to pizza recipe — comes from Vegan with a Vengeance. I always sub whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose though. And I typically make Isa's basic pizza sauce from VwaV as well. But this time, I realized I forgot to buy tomato sauce. Luckily, I had a half-jar of kalamata olive bruschetta spread in the fridge. It made for a tasty pizza topper in place of traditional tomato sauce.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Well, I'm back from my family trip to New Orleans. I've got good news and bad news. The good news? I consumed massive amounts of delicious vegan food in the Big Easy. The bad news? I lost one of my camera's memory cards somewhere in New Orleans on my last night there. The card contained not only most of the vacation eats, but every picture I've taken since last Christmas — most of which had not been downloaded. I'm great at downloading food pics, but I'm not so good at keeping up with the important birthday and special event stuff. I'm pretty upset about it, but I guess I've learned to start backing up my photos.

Enough with the bad news though. I changed my memory card out Saturday morning, so I have all of Saturday's eats. And my dad took a few food photos with his camera too. So without further ado, check out these Yuca Veggie Fajitas from Country Flame, a Mexican/Cuban/Spanish restaurant in the French Quarter:

I love this dish! I had the same thing last time I was in NOLA two years ago. It's fried yuca (much like a potato) with peppers, onions, and fresh salsa. I piled the stuff into flour tortillas for a tasty and filling dinner on Thursday night.

On Friday, we stopped into La Divina Gelateria on Magazine Street for icey-cold scoops of sorbotto and gelato. I had the Local Pear Ginger Sorbotto:

I have to thank Kittee from Cakemaker to the Stars for the insider tip on the sorbotto. She sent me an amazing list of New Orleans vegan options that pretty much kept us fed the entire trip. Without Kittee, we wouldn't have known where to start. By the way, I had a great close-up of the sorbotto on that missing memory card. Oh well...

On Saturday, I had an amazing Avocado Pesto Tofu Sandwich at Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar:

Another Kittee tip! This sandwich was piled high with three of my favorite foods — creamy avocado, spicy pesto, and pan-fried tofu. Served with local Zapp's chips, this was a very satisfying meal. And Surrey's, a quaint hipster joint on Magazine Street, was bursting with local artsy flavor.

We ended our trip with the most carbtastic meal in the world — French Fry Po Boys from Verti Marte Deli on Decatur Street:

This was another item on Kittee's list, and my parents and I couldn't be more grateful for this suggestion. We love carbs, and it doesn't get carbier than fat steak fries piled onto white bread and topped with peppers and mushrooms.

My parents piled theirs with melted cheese too. It's the kind of thing we'd never eat if we weren't on vacation. Thanks to this sandwich, my diet starts today!

Overall, we had a great time (except for that damn memory card situation). We did lots of shopping, eating, and mango daquari-drinking on Bourbon Street. Here's my mom, dad, and me in Jackson Square on our last night there. We got tons of beads from the Halloween Parade!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Avocado Madness!

As the title suggests, Alicia Simpson's Vegan Comfort Food is loaded with satisfying, downhome dishes. Some are more complex than others. A few call for pre-made, packaged products, like vegan cheeze or veggie burgers. Some folks don't really like cookbooks like that, but I do. I wouldn't want every book in my library to have shortcuts, but books like Simpson's are nice for quick weeknight meals.

Case in point — the crisp Avocado Melt Panini from Vegan Comfort Food:

Avocado, vegan cheeze, tomato, onion, and cilantro on bread. Simple, yes. But it's something I probably wouldn't have thought to combine without a recipe to put the idea in my head. I'd never had avocado on a grilled cheeze, but it's a great combo! The creamy avocado melds well with the melty, warm vegan cheeze. I used Teese mozzarella for this sandwich, and since I don't own a panini press, I placed a cast-iron skillet atop the sandwich while cooking for the pressed panini texture.

Simpson's book conveniently offers meal ideas by suggesting other recipes in the book that would complement main dishes. Her "Avocado Madness" meal featured the panini served with Tomato & Avocado Soup:

Another idea I wouldn't have considered before — cold avocado atop warm creamy tomato soup. I've only used avocado to garnish cold, raw soups in the past. But this was delicious and warming on a chilly fall day. Plus, I got to use the majority of a whole avocado for one meal. And that means no waste.

On the Vegan Mofo front, I won't be posting for a few days because I'm headed to New Orleans with my family. But I'm sure I'll have a ton of delicious vegan NOLA food to share when I return.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vegan Mofo: My Birthday, Part Two

As promised, here's a culinary recap of my 29th birthday party. On Friday night, I invited a group of close friends over for a loosely-themed John Waters/big hair party. I always have themed costume parties because dressing up is loads of fun! Since some folks weren't familiar with the campy flicks of Mr. Waters, I kept the costume theme pretty loose — just come with big ole hair a la Hairspray rather than require folks to actually dress as characters in John Waters films.

As you can see, I was some sort of giant pink-haired variation on Rainbow Brite. Others pictured include (left to right): Stephanie (aka Poopie Bitch), Barbara (whose head got kinda covered up in this shot by my big-ass hair), Vaughan (aka She-Bop ... that's his drag name), Corey, Greg (dressed as Tracey's Ullman's character Cynthia Fuchs in A Dirty Shame), and Weezy.

We played John Waters films — Hairspray, A Dirty Shame, Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos, Pecker — throughout the night. And we tried to make most of the food fit the theme as well. For example, Edie (Edith Massey) from Pink Flamingos loves eggs, so I made my Tofu Deviled "Eggy" Bites (recipe is here):

And who doesn't love the redneck delinquent son Crackers from Pink Flamingos? We do! So we served Whole Foods brand water crackers with a couple of spreads — Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread) from The Vegan Table:

And Edamame White Bean Hummus:

The red pepper spread was AMAZING! I've been eyeing this recipe for awhile, and it's definitely a kepper. The edamame hummus was a quick throw-together-at-the-last-minute thing. It was super garlicky and pretty decent for an off-the-cuff creation.

True Pink Flamingo fans may remember the sausage scene. I sliced up some of my Creole Steamed Sausages in honor of that proud John Waters moment:

And the lovely Stephanie arrived armed with these flaky Mini Onion Quiches from Vegan Brunch:

Savory, caramelized, and delicious! And totally unexpected. I couldn't think of a way to fit these quiches in with the theme, but it didn't matter because they were tasty!

Stephanie also provided the cupcakes for the party because she is the world's greatest vegan baker. She surprised me with two kinds — Dark Chocolate with Scharffenberger Chocolate Ganache:

And Pumpkin Ginger Coconut:

The dark chocolate ones were the hands-down favorite. You can only imagine what that high-quality Scharffenberger did for these babies! But the pumpkin coconut cupcakes were like summer-beach-meets-cool-autumn-night. Different, but delicious.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vegan Mofo: My Birthday, Part One

I like to stretch out my birthday celebrations for as long as possible. Though my actual birthday falls on October 16th, I've been celebrating all month long, especially this past weekend. Today, I went to my mom and dad's house in Arkansas for a little birthday family gathering. My mom made me some badass Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes:

Yes, those are Christmas cupcake wrappers ... she ran out of regular ones. But who cares? After all, these babies were stuffed with a peanut butter cream cheese filling! They were so good, my grandpa ate four of them!

My Granny was also there, and she brought me a Pineapple Pie:

She invented this for my cookbook, and I'm so glad she did. Crushed pineapple meets walnuts and buttery goodness inside a flaky crust. Delish! It's very similar to her coconut pie, but with pineapple instead.

I had a party with my friends on Friday night (the actual birthday), but there's a ton of pictures to sort through. So I'm saving that for tomorrow night's post. I really need to get to bed early tonight as I have a long day ahead of me at work tomorrow. Be sure to check back though because the birthday party was filled with colorful hair and delicious goodies!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Tahini Coffee

My boyfriend Paul bought me several vegan cookbooks for my birthday (it's today, by the way!), including Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson. I'd only recently heard about this book, and ya'll know how I love comfort food. I just had to check it out. Plus, Alicia (a native Californian) has logged some time in Atlanta, so a few of her recipes have a Southern flare.

It's a great book, filled with satisfying comfort foods like BBQ Nachos, Fried Seitan Chicken, and Sweet Potato Waffles. But the recipe that called out to me the most wasn't really food at all. It was a beverage — Tahini Coffee:

This isn't really coffee at all, but Alicia calls it "tahini coffee" because she drinks it in place of coffee at her morning meal. Now, ya'll can pry coffee from my cold, dead hands. This drink was by no means a substitute for me. It was actually enjoyed as a rainy afternoon snack.

It's made from three simple ingredients — plant milk (I used soy), tahini, and molasses (I actually used sorghum). I enjoyed mine warm with a dash of cinnamon. It tasted like a little piece of sesame-coated heaven. Seriously. Though I won't be subbing it for coffee, I will certainly be making this again really soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vegan Mofo: My Winter Squash Promise

This fall and winter, I vow to eat butternut, acorn, kombucha, delicata, spaghetti, and every other variety of winter squash as often as possible ... well, at least once every two weeks. You heard it here folks. Now, help me stick to it.

Last fall and winter, I unintentionally neglected my beloved winter squash. I'm not sure why. I just know that by the time spring rolled around, I realized I'd only cooked winter squash a handful of times throughout its peak season. And I don't believe in cooking with hard squashes or pumpkin in the warmer months. So, I've had to wait all spring and summer to get it right.

I'm starting my squash pledge with this tasty Butternut Squash and Macaroni Casserole from the Whole Foods iPhone app:

Delicate butternut meets whole wheat shells, coconut milk, toasted pecans, and breadcrumbs in this hearty casserole. The creaminess of the squash almost gives the dish a mac & cheese-y mouthfeel. It was perfect served with a side of my Granny's home-canned green beans. And since the recipe made 8 servings, I've got plenty of leftovers to last well through the weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Isa's Helping Hand

Before going vegan in '04, I subsisted mostly on packaged, processed crap. I was vegetarian, but that didn't stop me from buying boxes and boxes of macaroni and cheese, packaged rice mixes, and even Hamburger Helper. I'd add ground veggie burger in place of the ground beef for a quick (and cheap) week night meal. Even though I'm sure it was loaded with hydrogenated oils (I didn't even know what that was back then), white flour pasta, and tons of ingredients I can't even pronounce, I remember it tasting pretty damn good.

So when I saw Isa's Tempeh Helper on the Show Us Your Mitts PPK blog, I knew I HAD to make it:

Isa subs crumbled tempeh for the ground burger, quinoa pasta for the seminola-laden stuff, and even tops the dish with a noochy sauce. Remember how some of the Hamburger Helper flavors came with a package of cheese topping powder? The cheeze sauce — which was just your basic nooch, flour, garlic powder, water deal — really made me feel like I was eating the boxed stuff I used to love.

And much like Hamburger Helper, Isa's version (recipe is here) came together in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Big Breakfast!

This morning's breakfast kept me satisfied well past noon. In fact, I wasn't even really hungry when I ate my leftover beans and cornbread for lunch at 1:30. I'm usually famished by 11 a.m. What kept me full for hours? A hearty slice of my Breakfast Casserole:

This is another cookbook recipe. I've actually blogged the recipe before (last October, to be exact ... the recipe is here). It's based on my Granny's breakfast casserole that she makes every year for our family's Christmas breakfast. Hers contains meat and eggs. But mine is made with layers of bread, scrambled tofu, vegan sausage, and a cheezy nooch-based sauce.

As I've mentioned before, I've been counting calories on my Lose It iPhone app ... just for fun and because I'm slightly obsessive. Turns out this hearty breakfast didn't contain any more calories than a bowl of doctored-up oats or a cup of yogurt with granola. And the only added fat is about a tablespoon of soy margarine in the cheeze sauce. Filling, healthy, low fat-ish, and not too calorie dense (one-sixth of the casserole had 327 calories, in case you were wondering).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Autumn Picnic

Saturday night was way too cold for a picnic. It was freakin' 46 degrees, unseasonably cool for an October night in Tennessee. But my boyfriend Paul and I are troopers. We packed a picnic bag and headed to Jazz on the Lawn, our favorite bi-monthly outdoor wine tasting/picnic party at the Beachaven Winery in Clarksville, Tennessee. As you can see, we had to bundle up in scarves and winter coats:

We bought a bottle of Beachaven's Seyval Blanc, a semi-dry white wine with crisp apple notes — perfect for fall:

And then we found an open picnic table close to the stage, where The Next Level played jazz and R&B standards (and a few Michael Jackson songs!). I'm not really a fan of cover bands, but these guys were alright:

I snacked on some fresh foccacia bread from Silke's Old World Breads, a local Clarksville bakery run by adorable German ladies:

Yes, I know it's evil white bread. I only eat white when I'm dining out or for special events like this. Besides, I've never seen whole wheat foccacia. Paul snacked on some cheesy foccacia baked with slices of bell pepper and onion (also from Silke's).

We both topped our bread with this tasty Roasted Garlic Bruschetta spread that I found on sale at Big Lots:

I also nibbled on these Yves Meatless Pepperoni slices, while Paul opted for habanero cheese (yes, he's a dairy eater, but I'm workin' on him):

And for dessert, we got our fill on white seedless grapes:

Unfortunately, it was too chilly for us to stay for the band's entire performance, but we managed to polish off our wine and most of the food before ditching the cold.

Hey, in case you missed it, the awesome Gena of Choosing Raw let me do a guest post on her blog on Saturday. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vegan Mofo: I Love Jessy & Dan!

I'm sure I've blogged before about how much I love Jessy over at happyveganface. She's always comin' up with delicious vegan yummies, especially her mouthwatering burger recipes (she really outta write a book ... who's with me? Right?). But now I also love her man, Dan. He's responsible for developing these delectable Tempeh Tater Cakes:

Imagine a latke or potato pancake with flecks of savory-spiced tempeh, green onion, and bell pepper and fried to crispy goodness. That's what Dan's tempeh tater cakes are all about (the recipe is here). So delicious, and the recipe makes a ton. I topped mine with a little organic ketchup because potatoes LOVE ketchup!

On the side, I developed a Smoky Stewed Okra & Tomatoes recipe for the cookbook:

Down South, stewed okra and 'maters is a big deal. But most folks season it with real bacon. Pig bacon = grossout, so mine's cruelty-free. I'm certain it'd rival Paula Deen's version anyway. Bring it on, Paula!

Testers...there are two new recipes posted to the top-secret tester site! :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Skittles! And Other News!

So I'm probably the last one to know, but apparently Skittles have gone vegan! My friend Greg showed up at my house on Saturday, armed with multiple bright red bags of Skittles bearing the phrase "gelatin-free, gluten-free."

Skittles were my favorite candy in my pre-gan days, and even though I try to avoid stuff with hydrogenated oils or corn syrup, I couldn't help but indulge in a big handful. Of course, Mars makes Skittles ... and Mars still tests on animals. So I guess they're not really vegan. So I doubt I'll be giving my money to Skittles anytime soon. But Greg left several bags at my house. I'll eat those and get my fill.

I don't have any food pics tonight, but since it's Mofo, I knew I had to post something. So I'll talk a little about my birthday presents. My birthday isn't actually until October 16th, but my best friend Sheridan (who lives in Little Rock) can't be here for my birthday party. So she came last weekend. We went out for BBQ Tofu Nachos at R.P. Tracks and then to the gay club for dancin'.

But first, she gave me some awesome gifts, like this cupcake hoodie:

She found it at a garage sale! She also found a copy of Soy, Not Oi at a thrift store. I've been wanting this cookzine for awhile.

And she gave me something I've been needing for a long, long time — a cupcake caddy:

I've always carried my cupcakes in multiple Tupperware bowls, so this is perfect. Now I need an excuse to take cupcakes somewhere...

Hey testers! I finally posted more recipes to the crunk tester site ... sorry for the long wait.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vegan Mofo: Raw Food Tuesday

Once again, it's time for my monthly edition of Raw Food Tuesday — an all-day, all-raw "cleanse" intended to expand my knowledge of raw-cipes and give my body a power boost of healthy foods. No coffee, no cupcakes, no processed vegan cheeze — just pure veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and plant oils. As usual with my raw days lately, I started my day with a liquid meal — Tropical Fruit Smoothie:

This little guy contained one banana, a fourth cup of frozen blueberries, a handful of strawberries, mango, and pineapple, a couple tablespoons of dried coconut, and a dose of ground flax seed. It sustained me from 7:30 a.m. to about 10 a.m., and then I had to down this Green Juice for energy:

Isn't that green color lovely? I combined two cups raw spinach, one large tomato, a couple celery stalks, two carrots, half a yellow bell pepper, and a small chili pepper in my Jack Lalanne juicer. I also snacked on a local pear before lunch.

Lunch was a delicious bowl of Gena's Raw Tortilla Soup with avocado from Choosing Raw:

As usual, raw food goddess Gena did not disappoint with this spicy Mexican-inspired soup. The base is made from tomato and red pepper, and it contains lots of spices like cumin, cayenne, and chili powder. Next time, I'll add a jalepeno for an even spicier kick. On the side, I downed this green salad with pomegranate seeds, shitake mushrooms, and a basic oil & vinegar dressing:

The soup kept me full for hours! In fact, I ate way more of it than I should have and I had a bit of a bellyache for an hour or so. Raw food fills you up faster than cooked food, and my hungry brain has a problem understanding that sometimes.

I snacked on some raw veggies — cherry tomatoes, raw okra, bell pepper, and cucumber — around 3:30 p.m. After work, I came home to one of the two greatest meals of my day. Last night, while purchasing veggies at Whole Foods, I discovered this pre-made Raw Vegan Carrot Cake from Intentional Food (by Journey to Bliss):

The lady who makes the Journey to Bliss raw goods lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, a tiny town outside of Nashville. I'd tried her raw cheeze at a vegan potluck in Nashville, but had no idea her products were also available in Memphis!

So I shelled out the $7.99 for this package of cheezecake, despite my lack of funds. I just couldn't resist since I rarely make whole raw cakes and pies for little ole me to eat alone. This was the perfect size — enough for two decent portions (I'm saving half for tomorrow!). Made from cashews, pecans, walnuts, carrots, dates, and raisins, this cake tasted so much like cooked carrot cake — but way healthier! The frosting was the best part (of course!), and it tasted JUST LIKE cream cheeze. Swear to god.

After savoring dessert and hitting the gym, I experienced another glorious raw meal — Gena's Zucchini Alfredo from Choosing Raw:

Sorry for the flash photo, but it was dark outside. I've tried several of Gena's recipes, and trust me, every single one has been a winner. But this really takes the raw cake! The sauce is made from cashews and it's so very, very creamy. I served it over zucchini and carrot noodles (made with a vegetable peeler) and cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market.