Thursday, September 30, 2010

101 Things to Do with Tofu: A Giveaway!

I love tofu. In fact, I was going to write a cute little haiku about how much I love my precious pressed soybean curd. But it's late and I'm tired. So forget the haiku. Instead, I'll just gush about how awesome and versatile tofu can be. I mean, what other plant protein can go from scrambled "eggs" to pudding to stir-fry to un-cheesecake?

Some people, especially new vegetarians and many omnis, say they're intimidated by tofu. And that's understandable. It's hard to grasp the possibilities when there are so many. That's why 101 Things to Do with Tofu by Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier is a handy-dandy little cookbook. Papa Crunk ordered a few copies to give away to two lucky readers! Totally his idea ... because my dad is the coolest.

This cute, spiral-bound volume literally contains 101 things to do with tofu, from Tofu Sloppy Joes to Tofu Piccata and Spanakopita to Easy Ranch Dressing. Here are a few things I've made from it recently. Last week's breakfast were these Tex-Mex Migas:

This was unlike any tofu scramble I'd ever had before. The recipe called for crumbled tortilla chips, which got all soft and tortilla-like in the scrambled tofu and tomatoes. The book isn't totally vegan, though many recipes are. The vegetarian recipes, however, are very easily veganizable. For example, this one called for cheddar so I subbed Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds.

Last night, I made Spaghetti and Cheat Balls:

I'd been craving "meat"balls for some time, and this recipe totally hit the spot. The baked tofu balls hold their shape very well thanks to lots of pressing, plenty of breadcrumbs, and a little Ener-G Egg Replacer powder. They were the perfect topping to my whole wheat spaghetti and Whole Foods brand roasted red pepper pasta sauce. By the way, most of these recipes are uber-simple with minimal steps and few ingredients.

If you'd like a chance to win 101 Things To Do with Tofu, leave a comment about your favorite thing to do with tofu. If you don't have a Blogger account with a listed email, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

For an extra chance to win, tweet about the giveaway and leave an additional comment letting me know you did. For an extra, extra chance, link back to the contest from Facebook and leave yet another comment to let me know. And finally, for fourth chance, link back to this contest on your blog (if you have one), and leave yet another comment to fill me in. That's four chances to win!

Good luck! I'll randomly select two winners next Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. CST. Oh, and by the way, Friday is World Vegetarian Day! So happy veg day!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted Okra

On Monday, my co-worker Pam gave me an awesome gift — 11 perfect little green pods of okra from her garden. She recently spent some time away from home and returned to find most of her garden dead or dying from the insane Memphis heat. But she said her okra plants were producing like crazy (check out Pam's gardening blog here). The little okra pods were flawless, not a spot on 'em.

I knew I had to do something simple with these little guys, something that would bring out their yummy flavor without masking the taste with too many other ingredients. And then yesterday, it came to me. Duh. I'd make Roasted Okra:

Though I adore crispy fried okra and slimy stewed okra, I have a special place in my heart for garlicky roasted okra pods. And it's so freakin' simple. Honestly, I feel kinda silly even posting a recipe for this, but here goes.

Roasted Okra
20 okra pods, washed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground dried garlic, to taste (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Hot Sauce, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

If you want, cut the stem tops off the okra. Or you can choose to leave them on, as I prefer to do (when I eat them, I only eat down to the stem and discard that part).

Toss the okra with the olive oil in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle with a generous amount of ground dried garlic (I buy dried garlic grinders), salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until pods are lightly browned and tender.

Season liberally with hot sauce.

Question: What's your favorite way to prepare fresh okra?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Care Package from Vegan Whore!

Vegan care package exchanges are the best! I've participated in Lindsay's (from Cook. Vegan. Lover) exchange every fall for the past three years. The first year, my swap partner was Lindsay herself, and last year, I traded packages with Sarah from See Sarah Eat.

This year, I was paired up with the lovely Megan from Vegan Whore. My (very heavy) package arrived on Monday filled bubble-wrapped surprises. I'm probably most excited about these home-canned goods — blueberry preserves and zucchini pickles — made by Megan herself:

I ripped open this package of Annie Chun's Roasted Seaweed Snacks at my desk this morning and shared with co-worker Mary Cash. We both agreed that they were very, very tasty. I think I'm in love with sea veggies now:

I can't wait to find a fun use for these Mung Bean Fettucine, as mung beans are one of my favorite legumes:

This bottle of Raw Coconut Aminos tastes a lot like soy sauce, but it will be a great sub for cooked soy sauce on raw food days. And the Garlic Expressions Vinaigrette is totally going on tomorrow night's salad:

To calm my sugar cravings, Megan sent along this seasonally-appropriate carob spider and carob-peanut butter filled pumpkin. The Karma Bakery cookie in the center is one of those healthy cookies that you don't have to feel guilty about later:

And finally, Megan also included these swell reusable Toast It Bags:

I'd never heard of them before, but apparently you can place a couple slices of bread with vegan cheese in the middle and pop into a toaster bag. Then you place the whole bag into the toaster and it cooks the sandwich right there, no skillet needed ... and you won't get Daiya on your microwave!

Thanks Megan for all this awesome stuff! I can't wait to try everything!

Question: Have you ever done a vegan care package swap? If so, what was your favorite surprise?

Monday, September 27, 2010

As Canadian As Apple Pie

The lovely Canadian cookbook guru Sarah Kramer has done it again with an awesome Apple Pie Pancake recipe for September on her 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar:

These fluffy pancakes are made with local Gala apples, raisins, and whole oats. I picked a few from this stack and smothered 'em in maple syrup for a hearty, sweet breakfast. Every month, I make the featured recipe from Kramer's calendar, and I believe this one is one of my favorites (March's Aloo-Yoop Curry Potato Wraps were also quite spectacular). If you don't have the calendar, the Apple Pie Pancake recipe is also included in Kramer's La Dolce Vegan.

Wanna hear something really cool about these pancakes? I made them with fresh, locally-ground whole wheat pastry flour from FunderFarm. The Funderburks live in Coldwater, Mississippi, just a few miles south of Memphis, and they grind fresh grains for flour to sell at the Memphis Farmers Market. This flour was ground on Friday of last week! And I purchased it at the market on Saturday!

Did the freshness make a difference? You bet. The pancakes were fluffier than any I've ever made with whole wheat pastry flour. And I could totally taste the freshness. It may not be uber-obvious to your average eater, but any foodie palette would be impressed. The Funderburks also sell fresh rye, kamut, and spelt flours and fresh steel cut oats (I'm totally buying the oats next week).

Question: What's your favorite local product from your area? Is there one item that you always buy local when you can? And these don't have to be produce items ... could be locally-brewed beers, cookies, granola, jams, pickles, whatever.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baked Meets Fried

Like any good Southern girl, I certainly don't fear fried foods. But I'm a Libra so I'm all about the balance. I like to bake some things, but other foods just require fryin'. My meal tonight was a perfect example of the yin and yang of baked versus fried foods. My protein were these Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Stix:

These baked, "chicken" strip-like finger foods are going in my cookbook. They would also be tasty fried, but I haven't tried 'em that way and see no reason to change up the recipe. They get super-crispy in the oven, and they're perfect for dippin' in ketchup, barbecue sauce, or maple-Dijon sauce.

I balanced out the baked main dish with these Fried Cucumbers:

I know, you're probably thinking, "fried cucumbers?! What?!" I thought the same thing when I first heard about this Southern delicacy a couple years ago. I certainly didn't grow up eating cooked cucumbers, but my old next-door neighbor Wes did. He challenged me to try them, so I whipped up a batter seasoned with dried dill and some other stuff. I pan-fried them in a little hot oil, and OMG, they were amazing. These are definitely going in my cookbook.

They taste a lot like fried pickles, but they retain some of that cucumber crunch. They're really tasty dipped in my homemade Vegan Country Buttermilk Ranch (also going in the cookbook).

My other veggie side wasn't fried, but a lot of Southern folks call it fried. I call it Not Really Fried Corn:

My mama calls this dish fried corn, but it's actually boiled with soymilk and flour and cooked down until the liquid is absorbed and the corn is super-creamy. Once absorbed, the flour in the corn cooks to the pan a bit, leaving little sorta-fried brown bits behind. You can see one poking out in the picture. The little brown bits are the best.

So there you have it — baked meets fried. Now a question for y'all: How do you feel about frying? Do you reserve fried foods for special occasions or eat them whenever you please? Or do you shun fried foods completely?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nobody Makes Dressin' Like My Mama

Not even me. My mom only makes her famous cornbread dressin' twice a year — at Thanksgiving and Xmas. Though her original recipe isn't vegan, she makes a small vegan version just for me. My mom is the best! Everyone in the family loves, loves, loves this dish. The holidays wouldn't be the same without it.

Mama passed her Vegan Cornbread Dressin' recipe on to me, and it's going in my cookbook:

I follow her exact recipe with one exception — I sub out whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose in the cornbread. It's healthier that way, but I think mama's tastes a little better with the white flour. However, I'll save my white flour consumption for special occasions like the holidays. Mama's may also taste a little better because mama made it. Everything tastes better when your mama makes it, right?

By the way, this recipe is a little labor-intensive. You have to make two batches of cornbread and a vegan cream of celery soup from scratch first. Luckily, my cream of celery recipe makes plenty of extra, so you kinda get two meals out of this. Nothing beats a fall day with a bowl of celery soup and a Daiya grilled cheese.

On the side, I whipped up some of my Mashed Sweet Taters:

Another cookbook recipe, these simple sweet potatoes come together quickly and make for a wholesome, creamy side dish. By the way, tonight when I was eating the leftovers, I discovered that the potatoes were especially delicious topped with a little raw coconut butter. Yum!

By the way, I've noticed that some bloggers are ending posts with questions for commenters. I enjoy answering them on other people's blogs, so I think I'll start this too. Soo ...
Question: What's your favorite dish that your mama (or daddy) makes?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin: Naughty and Nice

Happy Autumn Equinox!!! Or Mabon or Harvest Home or just plain Fall! Whatever you call it, Wednesday is the official end of summer and the beginning of the cooler, harvest season. I'll miss the 100-degree temps of summer (seriously, I love the heat!), the crazy humidity, and the comfy flip-flops.

I often view Fall as a prelude to the hellish Winter ahead. But I'm trying to learn to love this season for what it is, rather than spending the whole Autumn dreading the next season. It's this whole "live in the now" thing I'm trying to do. One way I can remember to appreciate Fall is through through the bounty of Fall produce, like hard squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. I only allow myself to cook pumpkin in the Fall and Winter so it remains a special treat.

Tonight, I had pumpkin two ways — one super-healthy and one sorta-sinful. Let's start with sinful first, shall we? Check out these Vanilla Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream:

These are definitely going in the cookbook, so I can't divulge the recipe. But the frosting contains pureed pumpkin courtesy of my friend Lindsay, who gave me several containers that she'd cooked down from a whole pumpkin and then frozen last season. Of course, canned pumpkin puree works perfectly here as well.

The cupcakes were delicious, but if you're looking for a healthier way to get your pumpkin fix, check out this creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

I had some leftover pureed pumpkin from the cupcake frosting, so I tossed it into the blender with a frozen banana and some other stuff and voila! Instant (and healthy) pumpkin pie in a glass. I'm posting the easy-peasy recipe below. Hope y'all have a Happy Equinox! I won't be posting on Wednesday night because I've got a bad-ass party (Best of Memphis party! Holla!) to attend, but I'll return on Thursday.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1 frozen banana, broken into about 5 small pieces

1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup soymilk

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp. hemp protein powder (I used Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein)

Dash of cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and ground cloves

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend. Enjoy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

When Life Gives You Eggplants...

... make Baba Ganouj. That's what I did this weekend with a couple of unexpected eggplants. I came back to work from lunch on Thursday to find a pair of small eggplants sitting on my desk. One of our sales dudes Mark acquired them from the folks at GrowMemphis, a local urban community gardening program.

I love eggplant, but I rarely cook with it. Not sure why. Honestly, I often just forget about eggplant. I have one recipe in my cookbook that calls for eggplant — my Creole Sausage and Eggplant Jambalaya. But I just made that a few weeks ago. I didn't have time for grocery shopping this weekend either, so my options were limited. But the eggplant was getting pretty soft and needed to be used quickly.

So I made Baba Ganouj, the one dish that I had all the ingredients for right in my pantry:

The roasted eggplant dip made a great snack with these homemade tortilla chips from Las Delicias. They sell 'em at the Memphis Farmers Market, and they're the best tortilla chips I've ever had.

By the way, Baba Ganouj always makes me think of that late 90s song by Nerf Herder, "Nosering Girl." You know:
"She was the kind of girl who you would give up eating meat for/ No more salami/ No more steak or potatoes/ Yea you would walk on down to the health food store and buy hummus/ and tabouli/ and baba ganouj/ and rice cakes, rice cake, rice cakes/ Nosering girl/ I love you."
Anyone else remember that song?

I adapted the recipe for Baba Ganouj from one I found in the Whole Foods iPhone app. Here ya go.

"Nosering Girl" Baba Ganouj
1 large or 2 small eggplants, peeled
2 Tbsp. tahini (I used Artisana raw cashini butter)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from half a lemon)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Slice the eggplant into thick slices. Salt generously and place in a bowl. Cover and allow to sit for at least an hour. This draws out the bitterness. It's not totally necessary if you're eggplant isn't bitter, but I was warned that my eggplants would be slightly bitter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place the eggplant (don't rinse off the salt unless you think you've used too much) slices on the baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes or until tender.

Transfer to a food processor. Add tahini, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Process until fairly smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides. After scraping down the sides, process again. While processing, you may want to drizzle a little water (from a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup) into the top of the processor for extra creaminess.

Serve with tortilla chips, pita bread, or raw veggies.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Un-Meat & Taters

I consider myself a steak-and-potatoes vegan. Not real steak, of course. That's gross. But I'll take a hearty plate of faux meat and potatoes over a veggie-based dish any day. What can I say? That may be the most calorie-laden choice or the least healthy one, but whatevs. I like to eat.

Take for example, my Dijon Pecan Seitan Medallions:

I've blogged about these before, and they're definitely going in my Southern vegan cookbook. The seitan is homemade, of course, and it's encrusted with chopped pecans and a delicious maple-soy butter glaze.

I enjoyed my seitan with an equally-hearty Twice-Baked Tater:

Another recipe for my cookbook, these taters are creamy and loaded with noochy, cheezy flavor. The melted vegan cheese on top is optional (as is vegan cheese in most of my recipes), but it certainly adds an element of awesomeness. I used Daiya Cheddar here.

Of course, I still needed to get my veggie group in. Potatoes are vegetables, but that's an awfully carby, starchy meal without some green. I tossed together this simple side salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, raspberry vinaigrette, and nooch.

Wanna hear something really gross? After I shot these pictures, I accidentally knocked the plate of seitan and potatoes off of my back porch railing (I take most of my pics outside on the porch for natural light). The plate landed upside down on top of my nasty, old unusable grill, sandwiching the food in between the overturned plate and the grill lid.

But I wasn't about to let this yumminess go to waste. So I quickly scooped the food up, picked off a few visible pieces of dirt, and ate it anyway. Five second rule, right?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

High on Ian MacKaye

I talked to Ian MacKaye tonight!!!!!!!! Ok well, not like one-on-one. But I had a chance to ask the lead singer of Minor Threat and Fugazi (two of the greatest punk bands of all time) a question during a Q&A appearance at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Anyone familiar with this punk pioneer probably knows that he's vegan and straight-edge. In fact, Minor Threat coined the term "straight edge" in 1981 with a song of the same name. I am not straight edge anymore, but I certainly considered myself straight edge in high school. These days, I do love a dark microbrew, a cheap PBR tallboy, or a glass of red wine. But I'm definitely still vegan!

MacKaye's appearance was a strictly question-and-answer format. He announced at the beginning of the event that he wouldn't talk if no one asked questions. The packed room of MacKaye fans was shy at first with only a few hands going up. But MacKaye's sense of humor lightened the mood pretty quickly. Most people asked questions about his music – about what it's like being such an influential figure in punk rock, his music writing methodology, or what it was like working with Al Jourgensen of Ministry.

I finally got the courage to raise my hand about mid-way through, and MacKaye pointed right at me. I speak very softly and kinda fast, so I had to repeat my question twice.

Me: What inspired you to go vegan?
MacKaye: (smiling) How'd you know I was vegan?
Me: (blushing while everyone laughs at MacKaye's response): Um, cause I read about it.

At first, I had a mini-panic attack. What if MacKaye was no longer vegan? What if the subject was taboo?

MacKaye started his response by telling the room that he didn't really like to talk about diet. But then he made eye contact with me and said, "but since it's just you and me here, I'll talk about it." That response brought a ton of laughter too. There were at least 100 people in the room.

His answer wasn't exactly what I was hoping to hear, but I was pleased. I'd hoped he would elaborate on animal suffering and say some things that many of the non-vegans in the audience needed to hear. But instead he talked about how, when he thought about eating meat, he didn't understand why he was eating it. His response to going vegan was "why not?".

His response was rather lengthy and I wasn't writing anything down, but I did catch this awesome quote: "Our society is centered around meat consumption, and our society fucking sucks."

That one brought plenty of laughing and even some clapping (if I remember correctly...though the clapping may have only happened in my head).

MacKaye said he was vegetarian for one year, but since he has a deviated septum, all the dairy he was consuming was totally stopping him up. So he gave up dairy and became totally vegan. That was 20 years ago!

Even though MacKaye didn't talk about the cruelty of factory farming, he did bring up a really interesting point — why eat meat? We certainly don't need meat for health, so why do people continue to eat that crap? Vegan food is delicious and healthy. Even though MacKaye specifically said that he wasn't trying to push a vegan agenda, I am. So I hope a few people in that room give some thought about what he said.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pineapple Cuppies

At least a year ago, my good friend Misti mentioned that she could really go for some pineapple upside down cake. It was just a passing comment, but I filed it away for future use. If anyone was gonna make that bitch some pineapple upside down cake, I knew it'd need to be me.

Fast forward to today — Misti's 35th birthday! We met for dinner at the Majestic Grille downtown, and as per tradition when friends have birthday dinners, I brought a batch of cupcakes. I pulled up that memory of Misti's love for pineapple upside down cake and settled on these Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

So cute, huh? The batter is made with pureed crushed pineapple and it has a yummy, gooey crushed pineapple topping. They were pretty tasty, but the cake part felt a little too dense for me. Unlike most cupcakes in the book, this recipe called for about 1/4th cup less flour but the cooking time was the same as most of the other cupcakes. I think maybe they could have been cooked about five minutes less than the recommended 25-minute cooking time.

Taste-wise though, they were delicious .... just more like a small muffin topped with pineapple rather than a fluffy cupcake.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Land of the Magical Breakfast Burrito

This morning, I posted something on Facebook about how I wish I lived in magical land where vegan burritos fell from the sky. A Facebook friend replied "I think that magical land is called Portland." While I imagine he's exactly right about vegan burrito rain in Portland, I'm nowhere near Oregon ... and that might as well be a magical faraway land too.

But this Vegan Breakfast Burrito did land on my plate this morning, albeit because I placed it there (though I prefer to think it was magically delivered to me by breakfast fairies!):

It'd been ages since I'd eaten a breakfast burrito, and I'd forgotten what a great idea they are. All your breakfast food groups wrapped up into one easy-to-eat, whole wheat package.

Crunky's Magical Breakfast Burrito
1 batch "Cheeze Eggs" (my tofu scramble recipe here)
4 slices of Gimme Lean vegan sausage

1 medium baking potato, cubed

4 whole wheat burrito-sized tortilla wraps (I used Cedar's Mountain Bread)
1/4 cup Daiya Cheddar Shreds (or any other vegan cheese)

1/4 cup salsa

Prepare tofu scramble according to directions listed here. Set aside.

While the scramble cooks, fry the sausage slices in a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile, steam the potato cubes in a steamer basket for about 15 minutes or until very tender. Season to taste (I seasoned mine with J&D's Bacon Salt).

Heat one burrito wrap in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it easier to fold. In the center, fill with 1/4 batch of the tofu scramble. Tear up one sausage patty into small pieces and place atop the tofu. Measure 1/4 cup of potatoes and place those on top of the scramble and sausage.
Top with Daiya and salsa.

Fold, wrapping the two ends in first and then rolling up. I like to put my rolled-up burrito back into the microwave for about 25 seconds to help melt the Daiya.

Repeat with the other three burrito wraps. Note: I've been making one of these each morning since Monday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gumbo 'n' Cornbread

Although I was raised in the Mid-South, gumbo's really a deep, deep South thing. It's far more popular in New Orleans and parts of Southern Louisiana. To be honest, I'm not sure I've even tried meat gumbo. It often contains seafood, and my family just didn't eat seafood at all. But since I'm writing a Southern cookbook, gumbo is mandatory, right? That's why I developed (and am re-testing) this Tempeh Gumbo:

That's fresh okra you see, paired with cubes of sauteed tempeh and some stewed tomatoes. And that's all fine and good, but the real secret to a tasty gumbo is the roux. The combination of flour cooked in fat is essential and it's gotta be cooked for quite some time. Lots of standing over the stove and stirring constantly. For tips on how to roux, check out this old post from roux-master Kittee Kake.

I paired my gumbo with a warm, split Hush Puppy Corn Muffin (another tester for the cookbook) topped with tomato marmalade:

Let's talk about that marmalade! I buy it at the Memphis Farmers Market. It's homemade by Carolyn Dodson-King, an awesome lady who makes adorable aprons (I have two from her!) and homemade jams and jellies. The tomato marmalade is one of my faves, but it's hard to come by a jar as it goes quite fast:

Last week, I purchased a jar of zucchini marmalade from Carolyn, but I'm waiting to get through my tomato jar before I open it. I've never even heard of zucchini marmalade, but it sounds amazing. I'll keep y'all posted on that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Muddy Mississippi

I grew up in a small Arkansas town, just an hour north of Memphis. My parents and the rest of my family still live there, so anytime I want to visit them, I have to cross this bridge over the Mississippi River:

Bridges over the river are the only way in and out of Arkansas, and driving over them affords me the opportunity to check out the great river that contributed to the formation of this city years and years ago. I'm also lucky enough to work in an office located just two blocks from the river's edge. All that stuff they say about the "muddy Mississippi" is totally true. The water has a brownish tint on most days.

Where am I going with all this river talk? Mississippi Mud Cookies! That's where:

These little no-bake cookies have lots of names, but down here we call 'em Mississippi Mud Cookies. The exact recipe will be included in my cookbook, but I can say that they're made with a combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and oats — three of the tastiest ingredients ever. I'm certain these taste way better than water from the actual Mississippi River.

One interesting thing about these cookies: They won't set when it's too humid outside. Last time I tested this recipe, the cookies never firmed up. So you'll want to pick a day with some nice weather to make these. Otherwise you can just eat the "mud" with a spoon, which is still delicious and maybe even more fun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finger Food

I had to test a few recipes from the appetizer section of my cookbook project this week. Since I wasn't planning on throwing any fancy parties, I made the appys as my main course. Inspired by Tasha's (of Voracious Vegan) famous "snack plates," I put together a fork-free lunch that was perfect for nibblin' on while I caught up on some deadlines at the office.

One such nibble were these Sweet Tater "Sausage" Balls:

My mom used to make sausage balls with Bisquick, meat sausage, and cheddar cheese. They were always a hit at potlucks and parties. But mine are pretty darn tasty too, and they're Bisquick-free, cheese-free, and meat sausage-free. Instead I use vegan sausage and mashed sweet taters. The potatoes make these really soft and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Though the sausage balls taste yummy on their own, I'll include this Spicy Cheezy Sauce as a suggested dip in the cookbook:

I had six of the sausage balls with dip, alongside this colorful plate of veggie sticks with my Garlicky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus:

There's carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, and red and green bell pepper — a cornucopia of fresh veggies to act as the middle man between the hummus bowl and my big mouth. I love eating with my hands!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BBQ Spaghetti, Anyone?

Ever heard of BBQ Spaghetti? Supposedly, this Italian-meets-soul-food delicacy was invented right here in Memphis. That's what "they" say anyway. But since I don't know who "they" are, I'd like to know if BBQ Spaghetti is a regular thing in other places. Anyone heard of it? Had it? I know I'm asking a bunch of vegans, which may not provide for the best survey sample.

Even if you've never heard of 'cue-topped pasta, I'm sure you'll like my BBQ Tofu & Mushroom Spaghetti. It's going in the cookbook, but I'm going to warn ya now that it's not the world's prettiest dish:

But it tastes mighty fine, fo sho. The tofu is simmered in homemade BBQ sauce, which is why it takes on that peculiar color. White + red = pink. But I always add a dash of fresh sauce to the top for extra barbecue flavor and because it just looks a little prettier that way.

On another note, the awesome Ms. Jen of Pain in the Ass Vegan has awarded me with the Most Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks Jen!! To accept this honor, I'm now supposed to spill the soybeans on seven things you may not know about me. Then I have to pass on the award to five other bloggers (it was originally 15, but Jen changed the rules and I'm stickin' with 'em).

So without further ado ... Stuff About Me:
  • I like to eat seasoning salt by itself. Pour a little in my (clean) hand and lick it right off. My favorite is Cavendar's Greek Seasoning. I realize this is not healthy, but I try not to overindulge. One of my guilty pleasures.
  • I have a disgusting fascination with dead skin. I love getting sunburns just so I can peel away the dead stuff. Totally gross, right?!
  • I'm a super Foursquare nerd. I check in everywhere, all the time. I am the mayor of the Kroger near my house.
  • I plan my meals two weeks in advance though I do leave a little wiggle room in case someone asks me to eat out.
  • Theme parties (with costumes) rule my life! I rarely ever host a get-together that doesn't involve some campy theme and fun dress-up party. My friends and I also take every opportunity that we can to go out in public in costume. Just last week, I went out for the night dressed as Floor Show Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • When I was little kid, I hated being from the South. I trained most of my accent away, but I can bring it back whenever I want. I came to truly appreciate my Dirty South roots while studying regional folklore in college (I was a folklore minor).
  • I like rap music, especially Dirty South crunk (hence the name of my blog).
Okay, now you know all there is to know about me — costumes, dead skin, rap music, and Foursquare. Now I'll pass the Most Versatile Blogger Award to some of my fave bloggers of the moment:

* Yum Veggie Burger- Because Ali's veggie burger reviews make me drool!
* Kuntrageous Vegan- Because Lacey's my homegirl over in Nashville! And because she has the best blog name on the planet.
* The Health Sleuth- Because Rick has gone from SAD to super-glad in just one year, and he's now a tireless crusader against evil.
* Voracious Vegan- Because, um, duh ... everybody loves Tasha!! Her snack plates and world hunger mission are uber-impressive.
* Veggie Cookie- Because Jessica loves the same kinds of food I do! I swear, sometimes when I look at her blog, I feel like I'm looking at my own plate. And she also loves beer!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Raw Food Tuesday ... and the Coconut Butter Winner!

I have long-ish picture-heavy post of raw eats planned for tonight, so I won't make y'all wait 'til the end to reveal the Artisana coconut butter contest winner. I'm no Ryan Seacrest, after all ... but I will do a little drumroll ... (insert drumroll sound here) ... and the winner is Jess the Domestic Vegan! Congrats Jess.

Jess was randomly selected using's number generator, but you wanna know something weird? I won my first ever blog giveaway — a big ole box of Liz Lovely cookies — on Jess's blog back in May 2008!

Okay, onto the food. Today (Tuesday) was my monthly raw food day. I skipped last month because I just didn't have time on the first Tuesday of the month. But today, I started my morning off fresh with this bowl of Rawsome Breakfast Mix:

I know it just looks like a big ole blob of fibrous fruits and veggies (and it is), but it's made from apples, pears, celery, raisins, almonds, and spinach. Everything is tossed into the food processor and chopped into tiny bits. The recipe came from my new VegWeb app for the iPhone, but you see it here on the VegWeb site.

Raw food never fills me up for long, so I bring plenty of snacks to work, like this platter of celery, carrots, and Artisana Raw Walnut Butter:

And some yummy Coconut Butter-Stuffed Mejool Dates:

Lunch was one of my go-to raw recipes — Gena's Raw "Peanut" Noodles from Choosing Raw:

There's actually no peanuts in this dish, but you'd never know if I didn't tell ya. Somehow Gena's homemade Asian dressing tastes peanutty without the help of any nuts. For "noodles," I used zucchini, cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, soybean sprouts, and mushrooms.

There was a long lull between work and yoga at 6:15 p.m., so I whipped up this Super Banana Sundae to hold me over until dinner:

This recipe is also on the VegWeb app and here on the regular web. Mine looks more like banana soft serve soup than banana soft serve as I put a little too much water in to aid in processing. But it tastes delicious nonetheless. The sundae is topped with a raw cacao-agave syrup, pineapple, and blueberries.

After yoga, I was famished until I threw together this Creamy Corn Soup:

Also from the VegWeb app, and the recipe is here. This simple soup of fresh corn, avocado, red bell pepper, cashews (which I subbed for the recommended walnuts), and Bragg's was super-duper good. I wish I had another bowl right now. I'll most certainly be making this again.

On the side, I had this Salad with Creamy Lime-Basil Dressing:

Another VegWeb recipe (available here). This was just okay. The dressing has a base of almonds and sunflower seeds, which give it a special creaminess. But my salad mix contained arugala, and I've learned that I don't care to mix arugala with a creamy dressing. I'd have enjoyed this dressing more on some crunchy romaine.

That's it for raw day this month. I feel great after eating all that nutritious food, but I'm really looking forward to having toast in the morning. If nothing else, raw food makes me appreciate cooked food so much more!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mellow Mushroom Has Daiya Cheese!

So this may not be news to everybody, but in case you hadn't heard, the Mellow Mushroom pizza chain has begun offering Daiya vegan cheese!

For those who already live in awesome big cities where vegan cheese is readily available, this may not be big news. But I never, ever, ever thought I'd be able to order a vegan cheese pizza at a Memphis restaurant. Yet last Thursday, I did just that. Stephanie (aka Poopie Bitch) and I split this massive large Mega-Veggie Pizza with Daiya:

OMG! The only way to describe this pizza is, um, orgasmic. Seriously y'all. I've never put a tastier pizza in my mouth, not even in my cheese-eatin' days. This sucker was piled high with Daiya Italian shreds, tofu, sundried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, and artichoke hearts. The original Mega-Veggie comes with feta, but we subbed out the Daiya instead. Look at that sexy slice:

Washed down with a frosty pint of Magic Hat #9, this pizza was my ultimate dream meal. If was on death row, this would be my last meal request ... for real.

The Mellow Mushroom location in Germantown (a suburb just outside of Memphis) didn't have Daiya listed on the menu yet. So if you go to a location in your hometown, be sure to ask if you don't see it listed. All the vegans with nearby Mellow Mushrooms need to order Daiya as often as possible so the pizza chain won't consider ever removing it from their offerings.

By the way, this post wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to vegan buds Lindsay and Jordan (I think Jordan was in a conversation across the table when I took this, hence the silly facial expression):

These two just moved to Chicago over the weekend, and we met up with them at Mellow Mushroom for a goodbye dinner. Lindsay was the one responsible for telling me Mellow Mushroom had Daiya! In fact, Lindsay is on top of all the vegan news ... I'm really gonna miss that bitch. I'm sure she'll be happier in Chicago though (land of vegan opportunity ... like delicious dinners at the Chicago Diner ... sigh).

If you're local (or visiting Memphis soon), you can find Mellow Mushroom at 9155 Poplar Ave. (901-907-0243). But if you're not in the Bluff City, you can find Mellow Mushroom locations in 16 states. Click here for a location guide.

Tuesday is the last day to enter my Artisana coconut butter giveaway. Click here for details.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sweet Tater Waffles

Hey y'all! Short post tonight since it's a holiday weekend and all. Not that I'm doing anything for Labor Day, but I do get to stay up late tonight and watch movies since I'm off work Monday. So I'm just gonna show y'all what I ate for breakfast last week — Sweet Potato Waffles from Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson:

It's been way too long since I've pulled a cookbook off my shelf. I've been so busy testing my own recipes to get my cookbook done in time that I haven't had much time to cook other people's recipes. But I'm mostly done with my breakfast section, so I finally had the opportunity to try some breakfast recipes from my beloved cookbook collection. Of course the first book I reached for when I had the chance was Alicia Simpson's awesome collection of comfort food.

These waffles were made with mushed up sweet taters, so they had a really neat texture. And you could taste a faint hint of the sweet potato too. I topped mine with hot sorghum syrup and blueberries (not pictured).

Hot waffle tip: When I want waffles on week days, I whip together the batter on Sunday night. Then I cook up the whole batch in my waffle maker and store them in the fridge in a large bowl. Every morning during the week, I toast two of the waffles, top 'em with syrup, and eat 'em for breakfast. They taste just as fresh as they would if I'd made 'em that morning.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vegan Scallops in a Can

Back in June, my boyfriend and I made the three-hour road trip to the Farm in Summertown to meet with the staff at the Book Publishing Company in regards to my Southern vegan cookbook. Along the way — about 40 minutes or so outside Summertown — we drove past a teensy health food store in the middle of nowhere. I wish I could remember the name of the town or the store, but I can't.

I'd actually stopped at this store on my prior visit to the Farm a few years back, and I was pleased to see that it was still in business. It's rare to find a health food shop in a rural Tennessee town! Of course we had to stop again this time. I purchased some large chunks of TVP (a size I can't find in Memphis) and this interesting can of Cedar Lake Vegi-Scallops:

Now, I've never eaten an actual scallop in my life. I grew up hating seafood, but for some reason I was intrigued by these. The ingredients didn't list anything that sounded like it'd taste fishy, so I thought I'd take the chance. I'm far for more culinarily daring these days. Here's what the stuff looked like after opening the can:

Little bits of chewy, white wheat gluten. I tried one in this state, and it was, well, weird. It had the texture I'd imagine a scallop to have. But then again, I don't really know what texture a scallop should have. It didn't taste bad. Just kinda bland.

I googled scallop recipes and came across a few scallop stir-fries. I was kind of in a hurry, so I figured a simple scallop fried rice would be easy and quick. I sauteed the "scallops" with garlic in a little canola oil, then added chopped cabbage and carrots and a little leftover brown rice. For a sauce, I combined soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and mirin. Here's the result, topped with extra sriracha:

It wasn't half bad. In the stir-fry, the scallops reminded of the canned vegetarian mock duck I sometimes buy from the Asian market. But honestly, the best part of the dish was the cabbage, carrots, and rice. I probably wouldn't buy the scallops again, but they were fun to try. Next time, I'll stick with tofu in my fried rice.

Don't forget to enter my Artisana coconut butter giveaway here. It's open until Tuesday.