Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfect Pinic Potluck Food

Last night, I reviewed Tamasin Noyes' comfort-food cookbook American Vegan Kitchen, a phenomenal volume of downhome, blue plate special-style dishes. I know this may sound crazy, but I think I actually love Tami's book more than the Veganomicon. Yep, I said it. I don't care if that's vegan blasphemy. Don't get me wrong — I still love Isa and Terry's magnificent tome. But Tami's cookin' is so in line with my style of no frills, home-cookin'.

I went to a potluck picnic on the first day of spring. Even though it was almost two weeks ago, I saved this post so I could post two gushing reviews of Tami's book back-to-back. The picnic at Ellendale Park in Bartlett (a suburb of Memphis) celebrated the Spring Equinox, a time when people traditionally make dishes with eggs. But um, yuck. No eggs for me.

Instead I brought this Spicy Tofu Noodle Salad from American Vegan Kitchen:

Tofu is lightly pan-fried in chili oil and served atop whole wheat spaghetti noodles (her recipe calls for cappelini but I wasn't sure what that was) tossed with red bell pepper, cucumber, Napa cabbage, and a spicy Asian sauce with hints of sesame and ginger.

It was a huge hit with all the omnis, who made up about 98 percent of the folks in attendance. Tami's recipe says it serves four, but it actually made a HUGE batch. I had to use a Halloween candy bowl to hold it all since none of my serving bowls are that big. The size of the dish, the fact that it didn't need to be served warm, and the sheer deliciousness made this the perfect pinic potluck food.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegan Diners and Dives

As soon as Tamasin Noyes' cookbook American Vegan Kitchen hit stands last month, I headed to Amazon to purchase a copy. Fortunately for Tami, everyone else had the same idea — the book was sold out! Every vegan and their mother had to have a copy of Tami's awesome cookbook of diner-style comfort recipes. The book is available on Amazon here now, but I lucked out because Tami (you might know her from the Vegan Appetite blog) wound up sending me a copy for review.

Y'all know I love me some comfort food. I'll take a bowl of vegan mac & cheese over a fancy four-course dinner any old day. Tami's recipes are reminiscent of eats you might find at a very vegan-friendly roadside diner (unfortunately, most roadside diners aren't very vegan-friendly), so of course this book is right up my alley.

Chapters are divided into cute little catergories like "Rise and Shine" (breakfast, of course), "Sandwich Board," "Salad Bar," "Choice of Sides," and "Dessert Case." Doesn't that just make you wanna pull the car over, load the fam into the dive-y diner, and order a glass of iced tea from a nice lady named Flo?

My friend Stephanie tested for Tami's book, so I asked her what I should try first. Honestly, everything sounded so good (seitan po'boys, beer-simmered seitan stroganoff, sweet garlicky ribs) that I couldn't decide on my own. Steph suggested the Savory Stuffed French Toast with Mustard-Shallot Sauce:

Oh. My. God. Y'all. Day-old French bread is stuffed with vegan ham (I used Yves brand) and Bosc pear slices. It's battered and lightly pan-fried and then topped with a tangy mustard-shallot sauce. I wouldn't have thought to combine ham and pears, but it's such a magical combination. I had a couple slices for dinner alongside some caramelized cabbage 'n' onions (a recipe from my cookbook). This French toast is certainly a keeper.

I've only made a couple of recipes from American Vegan Kitchen so far (I'll share pics of the other one with y'all tomorrow night), but I've stayed busy wiping my drool of the book's pages. Everything sounds amazing. Expect to see plenty more posts from this book. And go buy it. You know you want it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

If You Don't Eat Meat, You Can Have Some Bread Pudding

Okay, not a Pink Floyd fan. But I couldn't resist the pudding reference. Sorry. I'd actually share a slice of my Chocolate Chip Coconut Bread Pudding with you, even if you do eat meat. But it might steer you away from the dark side:

This creamy bread pudding will be included in my cookbook, so I won't divulge the recipe. But as you can see, it contains melty chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and chunks of slightly-stale sourdough bread. I rarely eat white bread, but I'll occasionally splurge with some sourdough. This pudding would be delicious made with whole wheat bread too, I'm sure.

I ate some for breakfast, drizzled with Sweet Vanilla Sauce:

It's never too early for dessert, right? Can you believe I'd never even tried bread pudding until last Easter? My friend Sheridan and I made a strawberry bread pudding for an Easter/Spring picnic. The idea of wet bread used to gross me out, but one bite and I realized the bread actually becomes creamy and delicious rather than soggy. I think I'll have some more for breakfast tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How To Cook Brinner

On Saturday, Stephanie (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch) and I presented our second cooking demo this month! This time, we cooked brinner for the fine folks at the Pu-Lin Buddhist Temple. We made a Tofu Scramble with Fresh Veggies and Diner-Style Home Fries. And we brought along a batch of my Whole Wheat Butter-Soymilk Biscuits to complete the meal.

We split up the demonstrating duties, and I got the Tofu Scramble. Here I am sauteeing the almost-finished product with mushrooms, spinach, carrots, vegan sausage, and tomatoes:

We used my recipe for scramble, which you can find here. But the people in this particular Buddhist tradition don't eat garlic or onions, so we left that stuff out. Here's my hand crumblin' some tofu into the second batch (we made four batches to feed the crowd):

Steph took the reins with the Diner-Style Home Fries, an onion-free variation on Isa's recipe from Vegan Brunch:

Look how preggers Stephanie is! Her vegan baby is due in July. Not only does she make vegan babies, she also makes some bomb-ass home fries. Check it:

We worked side-by-side, demonstrating the recipes and answering questions about veganism. My friend Greg was there too — occasionally chiming in with interesting vegan tips. He doesn't look very happy in this picture, but I assure you he was:

After the demo, we spread the food — scramble, taters, biscuits, and pineapple and cantalope — out on a table and filled our plates:

Here's the whole class standing in front of an awesome altar decorated with golden Buddhist statues:

The guy in the white shirt on the far right is Henry. He's the one who invited us to cook at the temple, which doubles as his home. Thanks Henry! And thanks to Steph's husband Richard for taking these awesome pictures with my camera!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Raw Food Meets Fried Food

My buddy JohnP once told me that he had his dehydrator and deep fryer going at the same time one night ... and it made him think of me. It's funny because it's true. I love me some fried foods, but I also enjoy eating raw meals made from fresh, organic, wholesome veggies. It's all about balance.

That's why I had to try these Raw "Fried" Vegetables by Lindsay of the Cooking for a Vegan Lover:

Don't they look a lot like fried vegetables? They're actually raw mushrooms, zucchini, and red bell pepper coated in olive oil, nutritional yeast, and spices and then dehydrated for about 12 hours. Click here for Lindsey's recipe. Super tasty, and way more guilt-free than real fried veggies.

I served the veggies with a warm bowl of Lentil Soup and Rustic Multiseed Wheat Bread:

My friend Greg made the soup a few days ago, and I'm not sure what he put in it. But it's delicious. It has a smoky flavor (maybe he used Liquid Smoke) and it's peppered with veggies, like carrots, peas, and okra.

The bread was part of a loaf I baked a few weeks ago from Vegetarian Times. I sliced it up and froze each piece individually. Anytime I bake bread, I slice the whole loaf and freeze it immediately, so I always have fresh-baked bread on hand.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Curry Burrito!

Technically, these Aloo-Yoop Curry Potato Wraps from Sarah Kramer's 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar are not burritos:

But I felt like I was eating a giant burrito when stuffing this coconut milk-infused tater wrap into my tiny mouth. Yes, I have a little mouth, and this was a very big wrap. So big, in fact, that I couldn't properly fold the ends of my Ezekial 4:9 sprouted grain wrap. All the filling kept falling out, but it was so delicious, I didn't even mind the mess.

I've vowed to make every recipe in the 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar, and this was the featured dish for March. Sweet potatoes meet white potatoes, green peas, chickpeas, curry powder, and coconut milk. Creamy, hearty, delicious. Oh, and of course, I drizzled the wrap filling with sriracha.

If I make it again though, I'm seeking out a larger wrap. I wasn't crazy about the Ezekial wraps, despite my love for their sprouted grain bread. They were a little tough, and I prefer a soft, melt-in-your-mouth wrap. But I suppose the Ezekial wraps are healthier, so at least I can have that satisfaction.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

All That Glitters

When people ask me my favorite color, I say "glitter." Maybe that makes me a little airy-fairy, but so what? Glitter is fun! And it contains all colors, which is perfect for an indecisive Libra like me.

My love of glitter is what initially drew me to these Citrus Glitters from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

The "glitter" is actually turbinado sugar, but it's the citrus flavor that truly shines in these soft sugar cookies.

A mix of orange, lime, and lemon zest went into the cookie batter, creating a delicate citrus flavor that was a perfect balance with the crunchy turbinado sugar.

I especially loved the texture of these cookies. Sugar cookies often end up way too crispy for my liking, but these remained soft and somewhat cakey (even four days later!). I brought a plateful to work to celebrate the Spring Equinox (my favorite holiday!), and they were quickly gobbled up by the co-workers.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Richwhip: A Product Review (and Pie!)

Months and months ago (we're talkin' like around Christmastime), the folks at Rich's Products Corporation mailed me a coupon for a free carton of Richwhip — a just-so-happens-to-be-vegan, kosher whipped topping.

I picked some up in the kosher section of a Kroger store back in January. The little 8-ounce carton has been sitting in my freezer ever since, just waiting on the perfect excuse to indulge in something decadent.

You see, unlike Soy Whip — my usual choice for whipped topping — Richwhip contains a few ingredients I typically avoid like the plague, namely high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. So I was a little weary of the stuff, but I should have known better. HFCS and hydrogenated oils make things taste sinfully delicious, and despite it not being very healthy, Richwhip trumps Soy Whip on taste. It doesn't have quite the cloying flavor that Soy Whip does.

This stuff whips up beautifully with a stand or hand mixer. Just look at this fluffy goodness in my KitchenAid:

And clinging to my whippy attachment:

My inner Skinny Bitch wouldn't allow me to eat the whole mess with a spoon, straight out of the mixer. But don't think I wasn't tempted. Instead, I combined the Richwhip with melted Dandies vegan marshmallows, crushed pineapple, and a homemade graham cracker crust for this Pineapple Marshmallow Cream Pie:

The recipe — one of my Granny's veganized family favorites — is going in my cookbook (just so you know, Soy Whip also works wonderfully in this pie). I took the pie to a non-vegan Spring Equinox potluck on Saturday, and it was devoured within 15 minutes.

Conclusion: Richwhip tastes better than Soy Whip, but using it comes with a little more guilt. It's perfect for whipping out (no pun intended) when preparing desserts to impress non-vegans.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pizza Bianca with Olive Salad!

Growing up, Pizza Bianca was always my fave, for obvious reasons. Who doesn't love a food that's named after them? Okay, well maybe Pizza Bianca came before me. But whatevs. I choose to believe I came first.

Anyway, I can still have Pizza Bianca — white cheese pizza with no red sauce — thanks to delicious, melty Daiya mozzerella. I took a cue from Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars and added some Boscoli olive salad (picked up last October in New Orleans):

Best pizza ever! I really do love sauce-less pizza the most, and I swear it's not just because of the name.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Un-Cheese, Un-Steak

Hey guys! Thanks for all your nice comments about our little cooking demo video in the last post. I think it's funny that some of y'all expected me to sound more Southern. I often get asked if I'm from "up North" because I talk fast and don't have much of a twang. I was actually born and raised in Arkansas, but when I was little, I was embarassed to be from the South. So I trained myself to lose the accent. These days, I'm sort of sad that I don't have one. Oh well ...

In other news, we have a winner in the Primal Strips giveaway! Miss V of Miss V's Vegan Cookbook was randomly chosen using Congrats Miss V! And thanks to everyone who played!

Now onto the food. After months and months of wishing I had Dynise Balcavage's The Urban Vegan, I FINALLY broke down and ordered the book on Amazon. I'd been on a bit of a spending freeze since Christmas, so it was nice to finally blow money on myself again. The book is packed with delicious wholesome and exotic recipes (adapted from Dynise's world travels). But since Dynise is from Philly, I had to start with her Philly Portobello Cheese Steak:

Simple, yet delicious. Dynise's basic cheesesteak is made from diced portobello mushrooms and garlic, topped with Follow Your Heart vegan cheddar. After toasting the cheesy French bread in the oven, I zapped the whole thing in the microwave for 30 seconds for a little sexy meltiness. That's the only way I get sliced FYH to melt properly.

On the side, I made some Spicy Curried Sweet Potato Fries, another recipe for my cookbook:

I served 'em with some delicious Chef Allen's Mango Ketchup that I purchased in Asheville, North Carolina last summer. The ketchup has a hint of clove taste that was a perfect complement to the spicy-sweet tater fries.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cookin' with Poopie and Miss Crunk

Last Saturday, Stephanie (aka Poopie Bitch) and I hosted a cooking demo at the Southern Women's Show — an annual expo of all things girly – at the Agricenter in Memphis. We made the Chorizo Sausages from Vegan Brunch because a) they're awesome and b) we've both made so many steamed sausages in our vegan lives that we could do it in our sleep.

Steph's husband Richard shot this video and did a fantastic editing job. Watch it (and check out our Beyonce headphone mics!):

By the way, if you make these at home, please note that I accidentally left out the two cloves of minced garlic. Oops! Yea, yea I know I just said I could do it in my sleep. But hey, I was under pressure.

Oh, and don't forget to enter the Primal Strips giveaway. I'll leave it open until 11 p.m. on Wednesday. And Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'll drink a green beer for ya!

Monday, March 15, 2010


I've blogged about my Seitan 'n' Dumplins several times since I've been experimenting with the recipe for awhile. It's going in my cookbook, so I need to make sure I get it right. My testers had some problems with the original recipe, so I re-worked it. Then I re-worked it again. Now I'm finally pleased with the outcome:

It may not look super sexy here, but I promise you it tastes delicious. Creamy, savory, potato-ey, seitan-y, dumplin-y goodness. I've been working on this cookbook for so long, but I'm just finally getting to a place where some of the problem recipes are coming together. Perfection happens through experimentation and loads of trail and error. That's why the cookbook project is taking me so long.

I served my seitan 'n' dumplins (we don't pronounce the "g" down here) with my recipe for smoky, slow-cooked Collard Greens:

The collards are another testament to trail and error. I started out bound and determined to make my greens taste as good as my Granny's. While I'm sure hers will always reign supreme, my experiments have put mine in a close second.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Glass Dharma Makes for Good Karma

I enter loads of blogger giveaways. Every once in awhile, I'm randomly selected as a lucky winner. I've won customized granola from MixMyGranola, Liz Lovely cookies, acai powder, and some awesome Skin MD hand cream through blogger contests. I sort of figured my winning streak would end soon, so I didn't expect to be selected as the lucky winner of a $25 gift certificate from Glass Dharma on Earthy Foody's blog a few weeks ago.

But much to my surprise, I was the winner! I scored an awesome gift certificate to purchase re-usable, eco-friendly glass drinking straws. As soon as I got my certificate code, I rushed to the Glass Dharma website to make my selections. As a daily consumer of smoothies, fresh juices, and green powder drinks, I go through a lot of plastic drinking straws. And that doesn't really jive with my eco-conscious way of livin'.

Thankfully, these sturdy, hand-blown glass straws will ease my green conscience. My $25 gift certificate was enough to purchase two smoothie-sized straws (they're priced according to size) and a cleaning brush. I chose one Decorative Dots straw:

This little straw was the perfect vessel to deliver this Tropical Smoothie (banana, coconut, pineapple, soymilk, and acai powder) to my tummy before hitting up my pilates class last Wednesday.

Though this Beautiful Bends model is smoothie-sized, it also worked well for suckin' up my iced green tea:

Glass Dharma straws are made of super-sturdy glass, and they say they're pretty tough to crack. If you do break 'em though, Glass Dharma offers lifetime replacement for breakage! I guess this means I'll never have to use a crappy old, Earth-hatin' plastic straw again.

By the way, if you haven't entered yet, don't miss a chance to try your luck in my Primal Strips giveaway. Click here for details. Contest ends Wednesday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taco Tuesday (and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)

A few weeks ago, I posted about my undying love for Butler's Soy Curls. I love to use those meaty dehydrated soy protein strips in my vegan quesadillas, but Thedalyn from The Palatial Palate suggested I try soy curls in the Courico Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa from Vegan Brunch:

Dude, I'm so glad I did. I'd seen this recipe before, but I'd never really read through it. I didn't realize it called for soy curls (with a suggestion of seitan as a substitution), but I'd been trying to think of new ways to put my new favorite faux meat to good use. Thankfully, the recipe made a ton — enough for 13 small tacos in corn tortillas! I made them on Tuesday night, and I'll be eating tacos everyday until Saturday. I don't really tire of eating the same thing when it's delicious.

These tacos have a tender, beefy base of chipotle-spiced soy curls and stewed tomatoes. A bit of red wine in the courico seasoning really brings out the umami flavor. The tacos are topped with a homemade grilled pineapple salsa (made from chopped fresh pineapple!). Unfortunately, I only have a crappy, ghetto charcoal grill. So I "grilled" my pineapples on the stove in a cast-iron skillet.

I served the tacos with Garden of Eatin Pico de Gallo chips and raw carrots with Newman's Own Black Bean & Corn Salsa (I love dipping carrots in salsa!):

Hey guys! Don't forget to enter the Primal Strips giveaway here. It's open until Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Primal Strips! A Giveaway!

When I was a kid, my dad used to make homemade deer jerky in his dehydrator. That's what I thought dehydrators were intended for. Now I know better. No offense daddy, but deer jerky is gross (yes, my dad reads my blog!). Thankfully, my dad has stopped hunting since I've gone vegan. And now he understands the other uses for a dehydrator — hello flax crackers and tofu jerky!

Though I've yet to make tofu jerky in my dehydrator, I do enjoy a good "meaty" chew from Primal Strips. That's why I was elated when they offered to send me a sample pack to review. Over the years, I'm pretty sure I've tried all the Primal Strips varieties, but unfortunately, my Whole Foods only carries a few flavors.

A couple of weeks ago, Primal Strips sent me a package with all six of their delicious flavors. My favorite is the Hot 'n' Spicy Shitake Mushroom, mainly due to the easy-to-bite-off texture and mildly spicy flavor.

A close second is the Texas BBQ, a sweet 'n' tangy soy jerky that provide loads of chewy fun. I also loved the Hickory Smoked soy jerky, which honestly tastes very, very similar to the Texas BBQ flavor. I could easily get those two confused. But that's not a bad thing at all. By the way, both of the soy flavors are gluten-free.

Gluten lovers will worship the Teriyaki flavor, a sweet Asian-inspired seitan strip with a touch of licorice root. The Thai Peanut seitan flavor is delish, but I would love a bit of a stronger peanut flavor. And the Mesquite Lime seitan strip is packed with dill-heavy, citrus-infused boldness.

The best part for you? The folks at Primal Strips would love to give a sample pack to one lucky reader! Just leave me a comment letting me know which flavor you love (or think you'd love) the most for a chance to enter. For a second and third entry, tweet a link to the contest and/or link to it on Facebook ... and then leave me a comment to let me know you did for a maximum of three entries per person (one regular comment, one about Twitter, and one about Facebook).

Oh, and I think this contest needs to be limited to U.S. residents only because I don't know if the Primal Strips company would be willing to ship out-of-country (sorry international blog friends!!). Also, if you don't have a blog where I can find you, please leave your email address in the comment (write it like this — address[at]website[dot]com — to avoid spammers).

I'll use a random number generator (from to select a winner next Wednesday night. Happy jerky-ing!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red Eye Jedi

I think I've been pretty clear about my love — um, obsession —with coffee. I must have my morning joe to make it through the day lest I turn into an evil troll. But I also love coffee in sweets, in my chili, and in my bowl of mornin' red-eye gravy. In the South, folks combine ham or bacon fat with strong black coffee and salt to make a thin red-eye gravy for ham biscuit-dippin'.

My vegan version of Red-Eye Gravy subs a little bit of olive oil for the pork fat, and it's so delicious served with my fluffy Whole Wheat Butter-Soymilk Biscuits and sweet 'n' savory Brown Sugar Baked Tofu Ham:

All the recipes will be featured in my cookbook, which I promise will be out one day! For those who've asked, I don't have a publisher yet. And I'm still wrapping up recipe development, but it's getting much closer.

Anyone who has been following my blog for some time may remember my previous post about this delicious Southern breakfast. I made it again this week to test the recipes, and I'm very pleased with the results. I ended up splitting the biscuit, stuffing it with tofu ham, and dipping each bite into the hot, thin coffee gravy. It's a little like a French dip sub — only not French and not a sub.

Here's a close-up of the Brown Sugar Baked Tofu Ham:

And a neat shot of the of reflection of bare winter trees in my gravy:

I was out on the porch, trying to get some natural light for my shot. When I attempted to focus on the little round bits of olive oil (the red eyes!) in the gravy, my camera went all rogue on me and centered in on the tree's reflection.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lunch Bowl Leftover Love

Some days nothing is more satisfying that a bean-grain-veggie combo served in a cute little bowl. Today, my friends, was one of those days. I had some leftover kidney beans after making my dog's favorite Snoopy's Great Pumpkin, Rice, & Beans dinner (from The Vegan Dog Book).

And I had a leftover avocado half from the last of my Veggie Ceviche (from Vegan in 30 Days). I don't know what inspired me to top my red beans with avocado, but it sounded really, really good! So I cooked up a half-cup of brown rice, topped that with beans, and then a layer of fresh avocado:

I seasoned the whole thing with Bragg's, chipotle hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, ground dried garlic chips, and Cajun seasoning. And I actually topped my bowl with way more avocado than what's pictured. I used all of the half avocado, but I didn't want to cover up the beans in this shot.

I know it sounds like the simplest dish ever, but this has got to be my favorite bowl combo of all time. I'll never eat kidney beans without avocado again.

What are your favorite lunch (or dinner or breakfast) bowl combinations?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Third Burger's a Charm

Not every kitchen experiment turns out just right the first time ... or the second time. But I've found the "third time's a charm" rule tends to apply for most of my culinary adventures. I've been tweaking my black-eyed pea burger recipe for my cookbook for awhile now. And by golly, I think I've nailed it on the third try. After trying several different ingredient combos, all centered around black-eyed peas, I'm finally happy with this BBQ Black-eyed Pea Burger:

The burger began as a black-eyed pea and brown rice patty back in February of last year, but the flavor combo was too bland.

Then, I decided to jazz the recipe up with barbecue sauce last summer, but I originally used too much gluten, which masked the flavor of the tangy sauce.

Tonight, I tried the recipe again, adding a few new veggies, decreasing the gluten flour, and upping the 'cue sauce. The resulting patty was deeeelicious served on a Rudi's Organics whole wheat bun with tomato, lettuce, homemade sweet pickles, and Nasoya Dijon-style Nayonaise. I served my burger with Garden of Eatin' Pico de Gallo tortilla chips and raw carrot sticks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegan In 30 Days

It was November 2004, the day after Thanksgiving. I'd pledged to celebrate my 10-year vegetarian anniversary by giving veganism a 30-day trial run. I would shun cheese, milk, eggs, and other sneaky animal by-products for one month. I never intended to make the change permanent. But after 30 days, I felt better than I'd ever felt. I'd discovered a whole new world of ingredients, and I didn't even miss cheese. So I went vegan and lived happily ever after.

Though the transition was much easier than I'd anticipated back then, I sure wish I'd had Sarah Taylor's Vegan In 30 Days book (published by the Farm's Book Publishing Company) to guide me along. I'm a sucker for a good program — complete with steps, homework assignments, and long-term goals. That's my inner Type A rearing its obsessively-organized head. Taylor's book is geared toward goal-oriented Type A's like me.

Taylor includes 30 steps, one for each day, to guide hardcore omnivores into a life of cruelty-free eating. The program begins with a simple assessment of why you want to be vegan, but the other steps get pretty darn specific. One step instructs readers to start drinking a green smoothie everyday (a tip I could use now). Another instructs wannabe vegans to start reading John Robbins' Diet for a New America. And yet another urges folks to spend a few hours getting to know their local health food store.

Here's the beauty in Taylor's program — each simple step tackles going vegan one day at a time. One day, you give up red meat. Another day, you eliminate dairy. By the end of 30 days, you're a full-fledged vegan with a better understanding of what you can and cannot eat. She teaches folks how to eat out on a vegan diet, and how to entertain (or be entertained). Brilliant!

My only complaint with Taylor's advice — she shuns oils. Y'all know I'm a big proponent of healthy fats, so I don't think skipping the oil is good advice unless you're seriously trying to lose weight. That's why I added some good old-fashioned extra-virgin olive oil to Taylor's Veggie Ceviche recipe:

The back of her book contains 14 recipes to get started. I chose to make her ceviche because she mentions it several times throughout the book. It's basically a black bean/raw veggie salad dressed with red wine vinegar and lemon juice. Tasty, but I felt like it needed more salt and something to cut the acidity of the vinegar. A little Bragg's and olive oil did the trick. This salad was delicious served with some quick cheezy vegan corn tostadas.

I'd recommend Taylor's book to anyone considering veganism. Like I said, I wish I'd had this book as a reference back in my pregan days. As far as I know, there's no other "go vegan" program like this. Buy a copy for all your omni friends.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mmmm ... brinnner!

Breakfast for dinner (a.k.a. brinner) is my favorite meal. When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally serve scrambled eggs and bacon in the evenings. Even though those breakfast foods always tasted great in the a.m., they tasted even better after the sun went down. That's why this dinner of a Tofu Omelet with Tofu Ricotta, Sundried Tomatoes, and Basil was so damn good:

The omelet is Isa's amazing tofu version from Vegan Brunch, which I've made many times. I typically fill mine with vegan cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. This version was inspired by another variation listed in Vegan Brunch that calls for cashew ricotta. But I made the Basil-Tofu Ricotta from Vegan with a Vengeance instead.

You see, Poopie Bitch and I are hosting a vegan cooking demo on March 13th at the Southern Women's Show, an annual expo featuring cooking demos, celeb appearances, fashion shows, and other such stereotypically-girly things. We originally planned to make this omelet, but we realized that a) the massive amount of omnis there might be freaked out by too much tofu, and b) an omelet might break on stage and how embarassing would that be?

Instead, we'll be making the Chorizo Sausages from Vegan Brunch. Everybody (including omnis) love those. But back to the omelet — despite it not being as omni-friendly, this tofu omelet is one of of my fave recipes from Vegan Brunch. And the ricotta/sundried tomato filling is superb!

I served the omelet with a batch of Diner Home Fries, also from Vegan Brunch:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fluffer Nutter 'Nanner Pancake Roll-Ups

Chocolate-Covered Katie is hosting a pretty awesome contest right now — make any flavor of pancake roll-ups and be entered for a chance to win a buttload of Artisana nut butters. Let's see ... eat pancakes, possibly win stuff. Count me in.

For my entry, I made these Fluffer Nutter 'Nanner Pancake Roll-Ups:

I used the Banana Flapjack recipe (the batter is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and bananas) from Vegan Brunch for the pancakes. I spread them with Peanut Butter and Company Crunch Time peanut butter, Ricemallow Creme, and a drizzle-drazzle of maple syrup. Then I rolled 'em up and stuffed them in my mouth.

I must admit, the maple syrup and Ricemallow Creme made these boogers a little messy. But they tasted like pure peanut butter-banana-marsmallow heaven. And it's for a good cause. Just look what Katie's giving away:

Photo stolen from Katie's blog.

I can't find Artisana products in Memphis, and I'm dying to try their coconut butter, Cacao Bliss, and walnut butter. Katie's contest ends Thursday, so hurry up and roll some flapjacks if you wanna win. All you have to do is blog about your pancakes, link back to Katie, and let her know you're entering.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yee-Haw! Cowboy Cookies!

Despite growing up in the South, I've never heard anyone actually say "yee-haw," except maybe in a joking manner. But I feel like it's an appropriate expression to convey my excitement over these delicious Cowboy Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. No joke.

Words cannot describe how awesome these cookies are. And honestly, I didn't expect anything less than perfection from Isa and Terry. This is the second recipe I've made from the book, and both (the other were Peanut Butter Blondies) have been outstanding.

Cowboy cookies contain a little bit of everything — chocolate chips, toasted pecans, coconut, and oatmeal. The oats make for a soft cookie that's chewy in all the right places. Brown sugar lends these cookies an authentic grandma-made taste, and you can't go wrong with pecans and coconut.

I must admit, however, that I made these out of guilt because I'm a bad friend. You see, my best friend Nathan's birthday was last Saturday (Feb. 20th), and since he usually organizes some sort of get-together, I've never bothered to write the date down. This year, Nathan opted for a low-key birthday with no party (crazy talk, I know ... birthdays are supposed to be big productions), so he didn't remind anyone. And I let the day totally pass me by.

Me and Nathan at a baseball game a couple years ago
(check out my fun "Hug a Homo" shirt! I made it!).

When Nathan reminded me a week later, I felt so bad! We've been best friends for years. How could I forget?! He wasn't mad at all. Even his own parents forgot his birthday. But that's just silly. So I asked what his fave cookie was, and when he responded "anything with chocolate and pecans," I knew cowboy cookies were in order. Thankfully, the birthday boy loved them. And I've learned a lesson about writing down birthdays.