Thursday, February 28, 2008

BBQ Tempeh Pizza

I needed to use my sourdough starter Tuesday night (or else throw it out), so I whipped up this BBQ Tempeh Pizza:

I'd marinated some tempeh in a mixture with soy sauce, barbecue sauce, vegan Worchestershire sauce, and probably some other spices I can't remember right now. Then, I pan-fried it in a little more olive oil and coated with more BBQ sauce. The "cheese" is just a basic nutritional yeast cheese sauce. Then there's black olives and baby spinach.

The crust is made from starter, whole wheat pastry flour, olive oil, and salt. Unfortunately, since the starter is fed with sugar each week, the crust was a little too sweet for a pizza. I mean, it was okay. I definately ate the whole pie (not all at once! I just finished the leftovers tonight). That starter, which is commonly known as Friendship Starter because it's passed down from friend to friend (or in my case from my grandma to my mom to me), is better used in sweets like cinnamon rolls.

I'm going out of town this weekend, by the way. So I doubt I'll be blogging tomorrow since I'm leaving after work. And I won't be back until Sunday. I'm going to visit my boyfriend in Nashville. We're going to Mellow Mushroom and I'm so excited! We don't have one here and I've heard they have tempeh and tofu as pizza toppings. I'll let you know how that turns out.

For now, I leave you with this. It's a stolen survey from Chocolate Covered Vegan's blog:

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was a few month shy of graduating from high school in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I was probably spending all my time with my best friend Sheridan, making home movies of ourselves moshing to Beastie Boys songs. Or memorizing all the words on Green Day's "Dookie" album.

2. Five favorite snacks?

Primal Strips vegan jerky
Roasted, spicy mixed nuts
Dark chocolate bars
Chips and salsa (or vegan cheese dip)

3. Favorite things to do?

Blogging about cooking!
Working on my cookbook
Playing with my 4 kitties and my puppy-dog

4. What would you do if you were a millionaire?

I would go tio culinary school and open a fancy vegan restaurant, start a vegan magazine, give some to PETA, buy a hybrid car, and move somewhere really cool where they have lots of vegan options.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good Gravy!

For the past couple days, I've been having whole wheat biscuits with sausage soymilk gravy for breakfast.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "How does Bianca have the time to make a fancy breakfast like that before work each morning?" And even if you weren't, I'm going to tell you anyway. Each Sunday night, I whip up a big batch of something that can be easily heated up throughout the week for a quick but satisfying breakfast.

In this case, I made a batch of Butter-Soymilk Biscuits (one of my cookbook recipes), but I substituted whole wheat pastry flour in the recipe for the first time and I was pretty impressed. Other than being a little bit more brown in color, they tasted the same as the all-purpose flour biscuits. I kept a few out for the next couple days and froze the rest. I'll thaw them as needed, so they don't get all gross and crumbly.

For the gravy, I made a large pot of soymilk gravy (just soymilk, whole wheat pasty flour, and some spices) with bits of cooked Light Life Gimme Lean vegan sausage crumbled into it. Though gravy tends to thicken when refrigerated, I've been taking a small amount out each morning and mixing it with a little extra soymilk before microwaving it. The extra soymilk brings it back to life. The result is a re-heated breakfast that tastes as fresh as the day it was made.

South of the Border

I had a Mexican day ... well except for the biscuits and gravy I ate for breakfast. For lunch, I had leftover Chocolate-Chipotle Chili that I prepared on Sunday afternoon. I got the recipe from the Urban Vegan's blog (click on the link for the recipe).

If you adore dark chocolate, you MUST prepare this recipe! It's to die for. The chocolate gives the smoky chili a depth of flavor that is unexplainable. It doesn't make the chili sweet as my friend Greg expected. When I told him I was making chili with chocolate, he was like, "Ew, that's disgusting." But then again, Greg doesn't like chocolate (because he is not human).

But Greg came over while I was cooking and sampled the chili. He was pleasantly surprised. Apparently, adding chocolate to chili is pretty common in Mexican cooking traditions.

For dinner, I made a quick Taco Salad before heading out to see my friend Sooj's new band, Tricky Pixie.

Here's what's in it (and the order it's layered in):

10-12 tortilla chips, crumbled
Handful of arugula
Half a can of seasoned black beans (cooked in chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder and then cooled)
1/4 can corn
Handful of vegan cheese
one green onion, chopped
3-4 sliced black olives
2 Tbsp. salsa
2 Tbsp. Southwestern Ranch

To make the Southwestern Ranch, I blended two tablespoons of Organicville's Non-Dairy Ranch Dressing (the best stuff ever!) with 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. cumin, and 1 tsp. nutritional yeast. Yum!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cappucino Cupcakes

My friend Nathan celebrated his 29th birthday last night (his birthday was actually on Feb. 20). We gathered at his house before going out to a few Midtown bars, and I brought over a batch of Cappucino Cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World."

Nathan loves coffee-flavored things, so these were perfect. The creamy filling is an espresso pastry creme made from silk tofu, instant coffee, vanilla, and some other stuff. The cupcakes themselves were flavored with two tablespoons of instant coffee powder. I drizzled the cakes with Quick Melty Ganache (also from the cupcake book) and dusted them with cocoa powder.

They were a huge hit. No one at the party was vegan, or even vegetarian. When I told them the cupcakes were made with tofu, they couldn't believe it. I also used whole wheat pastry flour in place of the recommended all-purpose, and no one could taste a difference.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hippy Dippy

I made this Curried Carrot Dip from the Veganomicon to spread on my Wasa crackers:

It's delightful! And I would never have thought of adding curry to a mix of food-processed cooked carrots. It's also got a little olive oil, sunflower seeds, and garlic. Yum! The carrots are cooked, but when I eat it, I keep thinking I'm eating a raw dish. And it makes me feel all healthy the way raw foods do.

I've been eating two Wasa crackers with the carrot dip every day this week before going to the gym after work. I used to eat Luna Bars and Clif Bars as a pre-workout snack, but then I realized that Clif Bars have like a million calories. They're fine as a meal replacement, like for breakfast. But not as a snack when I'm going to be eating a full dinner a few hours later. Luna Bars have less than 200 calories, so I'll continue to eat them sometimes.

The Wasa Multigrain crackers only have 45 calories per slice, and I'm only using about one tablespoon of dip per cracker. It's enough to fill me up for an intense hour-long workout. Tonight after Fight Club (my boxing class), I'd definitely worked up an appetite. But the dip kept me satisfied through most of the class. There's nothing worse than working out on an empty stomach.

I'll probably be experimenting with other dips and spreads soon ... more to come ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

She Uses ... Tangerines!

"I know who a girl who/ reminds me of Cher/ she's always changing/ the color of her hair/ she don't use nothing/ that you buy at the store/ she likes her hair to/ be real orange/ she uses tangerines."

Remember that Flaming Lips song from the 90s? Well, I don't use tangerines to dye my hair (I use NatureTints from Wild Oats, but that's another story). I do use tangerines to marinate my tofu, thanks to the Tangerine Baked Tofu recipe in the Veganomicon.

It all started with the $1.99 asparagus I picked up at Kroger Monday night. It's the lowest price I've seen on asparagus in a year, so it must be in season somewhere nearby. I had plenty of FarmSoy tofu lying around, and sweet potatoes that were going bad. So I whipped up the Tangerine Baked Tofu, roasted asparagus, and mashed sweet potatoes.

The tofu was perfect (but when is anything from the Veganomicon not perfect)! I'll definately make this again. It's easy and uses mostly ingredients I keep on hand (tangerine juice and zest, agave nectar, lemon juice, soy sauce, oil, cumin). It wasn't overly sweet or citrus-y.

I probably used a little too much olive oil on my asparagus. I drizzled it over the stalks pretty liberally. Tasted great, just probably more fattening than it could have been. Also added minced garlic, lemon juice, capers, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Roasted at 425 for 15 minutes.

The mashed sweet potatoes are from one of my future cookbook recipes. One of my favorite comfort foods!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Love Muffins!

I had Whole Wheat Berry Love Muffins for breakfast!

I used a recipe sent on the Farm Animal Reform Movement's "Meatless Monday" e-mails. It was recipe for the week of Valentine's Day, so the muffins in their picture were shaped like hearts. And they only had strawberries. I believe the original recipe came from "My Sweet Vegan," by Hannah Kaminsky. I figure it's okay to re-post since it was sent out in a mass e-mail by FARM (see recipe below).

The recipe called for one cup of frozen strawberries, and I only had a half-cup of frozen berries left. They were strawberries I'd hand-picked last spring on the Lansing's organic farm in Millington. I picked soooo many last year that I wound up freezing several bags and making five or six jars of strawberry jam. It's a good thing berry season is approaching because I'm on my last jar of jam, and I used the remainder of the frozen berries for this recipe.

I substituted a half-cup of frozen blueberries for the rest. So my muffins were more like patriotic red and blue muffins, rather than cute, red-specked Valentine's ones. But that's okay. Valentine's Day is over, and they were very tasty.

Here's the recipe (note: I changed the flour to whole wheat instead of all-purpose).

Whole Wheat Berry Love Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup soymilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup frozen berries, thawed and sliced

Preheat oven to 375, and grease 12 muffin pans.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in soymilk, oil, and vanilla. Be careful not to overmix.

Fold in berries. Pour batter into muffin tins, 3/4 of the way to the top.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Some Like It Hot

Tonight, I prepared the Hot Glazed Tempeh from the Veganomicon.

The tempeh soaks in a marinade of wine, hot sauce, soy sauce, oil, and cumin. I didn't have any wine handy, so I substituted cooking sherry. Since that's a little salty compared to regular wine, the dish was a little saltier than I expected...but I like salt, so it was okay.

I also used three different types of hot sauce — Cholula (a mild hot sauce), D.L. Jardine's Texas Champagne (sorta hot cayenne sauce), and D.L. Jardine's Blazin' Saddle (super-duper hot habanero sauce). The recipe also called for cayenne pepper, but I left that out because I figured the habanero would be spicy enough. And I was right. The dish had just the right amount of heat.

Speaking of heat, the Nomicon recommends using a cast-iron stovetop grill to cook these. But I don't have one, so I chose the broiling method instead. And it worked well. But man, that oven is soooo hot when you broil things. I had to turn my air conditioner on!

On the side is Roads End Organic Alfredo pasta. It's the kind with whole wheat pasta! Very yummy! Quick and convenient.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Life Is Like...

...a box of vegan chocolates! My dad ordered me a box of organic, fair trade vegan chocolates for Valentine's Day. No one's ever bought me vegan chocolates. My mom gave me a tiny rosebush to plant and some money!

So far, I've tried the Peanut Caramel...yummy! Other flavors: Coffee Truffle, Almond Creme, Raspberry Truffle, Pecan Caramel, English Toffee, Solid Dark Chocolate, Almond Truffle, and Hazelnut Creme.

He ordered the candy from Food Fight Grocery, and since shipping was so high, he thought it'd make more sense to order more stuff. Here's what he picked out all by himself! My dad, by the way, it not a vegan...he's a total meat eater. But he knows what I like.

There's Roads End Organics Alfredo Mac & Cheese with whole grain pasta, Mrs. May's Cashew Crunch and Almond Crunch, Veggie Ribs (I've had these before. Yum!), a Chocolate Almond Butter Patty, Vanilla SnackAnimal Crackers, some sesame rice sticks, a Primal Strips "slim jim"-style jerky, some Tasty Eats soy jerky, and Mamba candy (which are like Starburst, but vegan).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Peanut Butter Love Bombs!

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and since I bought V-Day cupcake liners and sprinkles on clearance last year, I decided to put them to use. Last night, I made Peanut Butter Bombes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). They're really Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache...but Isa calls them PB Bombes, so I will too.

I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, and you couldn't tell at all! I was afraid they'd taste healthy, but they tasted as sinful as a cupcake should.

For the frosting, I used White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter by Peanut Butter & Company (if you haven't tried this stuff yet, oh my god, you's like smooth, creamy crack...and it's vegan certified) in place of the regular stuff. It was sooooo good. I couldn't stop eating the frosting while I was icing the cupcakes this morning.

I made the cakes last night, but I waited until this morning to frost and make the ganache so I could bring them to work all freshly frosted. And let me tell ya, I should start frosting cupcakes every morning! As soon as my alarm went off this morning, my eyes popped open and I thought, "Yea! Cupcakes for breakfast!" I usually roll over and hit snooze a few times. But not today! And then, while I was icing, I noticed it was SNOWING outside (and by snow in Memphis, I mean tiny little microscopic white flakes that fall for about 15 minutes....but still, it's the most snow I've seen all year!).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Have a Heart for Animals!

Tonight, I made the Japanese Soba Noodles with Steamed Veggies and Tofu from "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch."

It's a super easy, low-fat week night recipe. The yellow-ish stuff is steamed eggplant (it probably would have been prettier with the skin left on, but I hate eggplant skin!). I love how buckwheat soba noodles turn purple when you cook them. They're so pretty, and besides eggplant, blue potatoes, and grapes, there really aren't enough naturally purple foods out there.

Other ingredients in this dish include cubed tofu, matchstick carrots, green onion, and toasted sesame seeds. The mixture is tossed with mirin, minced ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. It's the kind of dish that makes you feel all healthy inside.

On a completely different note, here's a sign I made for an upcoming animal rights demo. Our local group, Food Awareness, will be standing at the corner of Poplar and Highland in Memphis on Valentine's night from 5:30-6:30 p.m. with signs like this one!

Speaking of Valentine's Day, I convinced my carnivorous boyfriend to give up meat for a day as a Valentine's gift! Yea! (I know, I's only a day, but it took me 3 years to convince him to start buying cage-free steps).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Slow as Molasses

I found a very non-vegan recipe online for French Toast with Hot Sorghum Molasses Topping. And since I've recently learned a lot about the health benefits of molasses — calcium, iron, and magnesium — I decided to veganize the dish for possible use in my Southern vegan cookbook.

Though the recipe calls for sorghum, which is actually a little different from molasses, I only had blackstrap on hand. The awesome thing about this is the way molasses magically turns into a fluffy topping when heated with a little baking soda. You can't tell in the picture, but it completely changes consistantly. I used Food for Life sprouted grain bread in keeping with my "no white flour" rule. I made the toast "French" by dipping in soft tofu and frying in canola oil.

Tonight, I went to the Sanssouci Potluck. I almost didn't go because I hadn't prepared anything. But then my friend Hart called and suggested we make Vegan Bruschetta together. We used garlic, olive oil, canned stewed tomatoes, sliced grape tomatoes, fresh basil, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, and avocado (Hart's idea).

We couldn't find any whole grain baguettes at the grocery store we went to though, so I ended up breaking my "no white flour" rule. But I decided to start making exceptions for potlucks and eating out. And it's a good thing because Tim made fresh bread with hummus (it was still hot from the oven) and Meredyth made tasty pasta. Dianna made a quiche from the 'Nomicon. And Matt made Thai peanut butter and banana soup (which sounds crazy, but it was totally yummy).

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sickie Soup

On Wednesday, I was soooo sick that I had to leave work early. That's usually a big no-no with me. When I'm sick, I tend ignore it and go to work anyway. It's not that I'm a workaholic, more like a perfectionist. I can't stand to let anything keep me down. But when your co-workers are like, "go home before you make us all sick," what's a girl to do? Make faux chicken noodle soup, that's what.

I ended up taking my work with me to do on my iMAC at home. Then I began plotting ways to get some no-chicken noodle soup into my belly. You can take all the medicine in the world, but fake chicken soup is the secret cure. At first, I thought I'd try and convince someone to pick me up a can of Amy's Organic No-Chicken Noodle. But then I remembered seeing a recipe in my new "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" cookbook.

Though I felt like crap, it only took a few minutes to whip up the "Chicken" Noodle Soup recipe. I used the Morningstar Farms faux chicken strips, whole wheat pasta, mushrooms, carrots, onion, and veggie broth and it made a big 'ol batch. I've been re-heating it for lunches over the past few days, and I do believe it's making me better (that combined with lots of green tea, raw garlic, and Vitamin C Zicam tablets).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

BBQ and Brussel Sprouts

On Tuesday night, as tornadoes ripped through the Southeastern part of Memphis, I was busy cooking dinner. Sort of. I'd work on chopping seitan and then I'd get scared and run to the TV to see where the twister was headed. Then I'd gather the pets in the bathroom, prepared to hunker down for disaster. Then, I'd get bored, give up, and start cooking again. This went on for about an hour. The tornado sirens were blaring the entire time.

First, I baked my own whole wheat bread using my sourdough starter, whole wheat pastry flour, canola oil, and salt. I sprinkled sesame and flax seeds over the top.

I cut the bread into sandwich slices for my BBQ Seitan Sandwich. I made the BBQ by preparing some vital gluten flour according to package directions. Then I boiled chunks of seitan in a broth of veggie broth, nutritional yeast, and some other stuff to make it taste pork-ish. My friend Greg said it tasted more beefy though. I prepared the seitan several days ahead.

On Tuesday, I chopped the seitan into tiny pieces and simmered it in my special homemade Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce. Every Memphian has a secret sauce, but vinegar is what gives the sauce a Memphis kick. The sandwich was great, especially on homemade bread. But I should have made some vegan slaw to go on top. Oh well, next time.

On the side, I roasted Brussel Sprouts using the instructions in the Veganomicon's "How to Cook a Vegetable" section. I'd never cooked Brussels before. In fact, I haven't even eaten any since I was like 9 or 10. But I think I'll start eating them more often. YUM!

As for the tornado, it didn't pass through Midtown, where I live. But the storms did kill three people in a warehouse in the Hickory Hill area and it destoyed the Hickory Ridge Mall.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Raw Food Monday

I'm a little behind on blogging. We had crazy tornadoes and straight-line windstorms last night and my power went out. But I'm going to blog Monday's food today and Tuesday's food tomorrow. Today, I'm sick, so I'm probably sticking with leftovers and Amy's canned "No Chicken Noodle."

But on Monday, I did my first day-long raw food fast. It's going to be a monthly thing, on the first Monday of each month. It was suggested in Skinny Bitch as a way to cleanse the body. And since I'm unable to complete a juice fast (see previous post, "Juice Fast Disaster"), I figure raw fasting is a way for me to eat three solid meals a day, yet still attempt detoxification.

For breakfast, I had a Berry Smoothie from "Raw Food Made Easy" by Jennifer Cornbleet. It's just a banana, a little water, a half cup of frozen strawberries and a half-cup of frozen blueberries.

It was tasty, but I was hungry again about two hours later. I snacked on a few raw cashews and a whole banana before lunchtime. At lunch, I had a salad with spring mix, raw cashews, mushrooms, soaked sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, shredded carrot, and green onion. I used by recipe for "Dreamy Tahini Sauce" (going in the cookbook) for a dressing.

Before my spin class at the gym after work, I had a "Cinnamon Roll" Larabar that I bought at Wild Oats. It's made from dates, raw cashews, and some other raw nuts that I can't remember.

For dinner, I made Garden Wraps from "Raw Food Made Easy." It's mushrooms and red onion marinated in soy sauce with shredded carrot and cucumber rolled up in a collard leaf. They were quite tasty, though I ended up dipping them in more tahini sauce.

By the end of the day, I felt really good about myself. Unfortunately, I came down with a flu-like illness at work on Tuesday. I doubt it's related to my fast though. Memphis has been having some crazy weather lately with temperatures jumping from the 30s to the 70s and back to the 40s today. Ick!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Agave Mead!

My friend Leslie, an awesome vegan and animal rights activist who moved to Asheville, North Carolina last year, came to visit this weekend. She's taking a mead making class back home, and she came armed with supplies.

Mead is homemade alcohol made from fermenting honey with yeast. But we don't use honey, so we substituted agave nectar. Someone in her class had tried agave and said it worked fine. I filled a half-gallon sized bottle with hot water, 2 cups of agave, and herbs (meadowsweet, woodruff, and jasmine). Leslie made hers using apple juice in place of water.

Now we have to let our bottles sit in the back of a closet for THREE MONTHS while it ferments. That's a long time to wait! But since we made the concoctions around the 1st of February, it should be ready in time for May Day! Yea! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Yesterday, I ate the last chickpea cutlet (see previous post). Instead of serving with gravy, I baked it, sliced it in half, and stuffed it in warm pita bread with spring greens and homemade tahini sauce. It was tasty! I'm trying to use up my white flour pita bread since I'm giving up flour. I'll start buying whole wheat when I run out.

I also made veggie lasagna this weekend for a potluck but didn't take pictures. It tasted great, but it wasn't all that pretty because I had to re-heat it in the oven when I got to the event. Re-heating made the sauce on top dry up a little. And I made "Garlicky White Spread on Crostinis" from "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" for another potluck. No pics there either. I forgot. But I have some leftover spread that I may photograph later this week for leftovers.