Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holy Molé! Iron Cupcakes!

For my first-ever Iron Cupcake: Earth Challenge, I created Holy Molé Vegan Chocolate-Chili Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream:

In case you don't know about Iron Cupcake: Earth, it's an awesome monthly cupcake challenge/contest in which bakers create a cupcake recipe based around a specified ingredient. As you can tell from my Mexican-molé-inspired cupcakes, this first challenge was chili pepper.

These cuppies are based on the traditional molé sauce, but unlike the common savory version, my molé doesn't contain nasty stuff like chicken broth, garlic, or onions (nothing against garlic and onions, but um, not in my cupcakes please). Instead, I tossed some melted dark chocolate, vegan margarine, soymilk, cinnamon, ground almonds, raisins, and of course, three tablespoons of homemade ground ancho chili powder into the food processor.

The result was DEE-LI-CIOUS!!! I know cause I licked the bowl. Then I mixed that sauce with whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and Holy Molé cupcakes were born!

I topped them with the cinnamon buttercream to really bring out the cinnamon flavor in the cupcakes. And I garnished with a cut-out pepper flower and extra ancho powder.

This was my first time ever creating my own cake recipe from scratch! And now I feel so proud of myself. I didn't even know I could do that! I can't wait to see what the next challenge will be.

By the way, this is a contest so you can totally vote for me (or whichever cupcake you think sounds/looks the best) if you feel so inclined. Voting opens Sunday at No One Puts Cupcake In a Corner and runs through September 4th.

We're competing to win some awesome prizes, like cupcake art by Cakespy, vintage aprons by Jessie Steele Aprons, super-handy cupcake trays from The Cupcake Courier, and stuff from Taste of Home.

Also, if you want in on the action next month, head to No One Puts Cupcake In a Corner and sign up! The next ingredient will be announced September 5th! Happy Cupcaking!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anarchy in the USA

I haven't changed much in the ten years since high school. I'm still vegetarian. Still a feminist. Still into punk rock, and although I vote Democrat (go Barack Obama!), I've always been an anarchist at heart.

In high school, I checked out a history handbook book on anarchy from the public library. The text gave a thorough history of the anarchist movement in America, including a profile of anarchist pioneer Emma Goldman.

Emma (1869-1940) is awesome! She fought for women's access to birth control, and was jailed for encouraging people not to enlist for the draft in 1917. She even wrote essays about homosexuality, which back then, was totally cutting edge. She's also responsible for inserting gender politics into modern anarchist philosophy. I immediately made her a hero!

So where does the food come in, you ask? Right here in Kittee Kake's
All Hail Emma Goldman Oatmeal Choco
late Cherry Cookies:

When I ordered Kittee's zine Papa Tofu awhile back, I was immediately drawn to these ... mainly because of the name. But honestly, you can't go wrong with a combo of oatmeal, chocolate, and cherries. These were super chewy, my favorite cookie texture! Thanks Kittee!

BTW, you guys should totally order Papa Tofu here. It's filled with Kittee's famous desserts (cakes, pies, cookies), as well as New Orleans food and African cuisine.

My next post will be (drum roll, please) my cupcake creation for this month's Iron Cupcake challenge, so stay tuned. I'll leave you guys with my favorite Emma Goldman quote:

"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
— Emma Goldman

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Smores Meet Moon Pies!

People joke that Southerners sit around their trailers barefoot, sippin' on RC Colas and munchin' Moon Pies. And while I did spend my first few years in a trailer, I always wore shoes and wasn't a fan of RC Cola. I did, however, love chocolate Moon Pies in my pre-vegan days ... especially heated in the microwave for a few seconds.

I also loved smores. Something about a gooey campfire-roasted marshmallow smeared between a crunchy graham cracker and a melty chunk of Hershey's chocolate still makes my mouth water. So imagine my excitement when I heard about Sweet & Sara's vegan smore pies!

They're like a cross between a smore (with the fluffy vegan marshmallow layer, the chocolate shell, and the graham cookie), but they look and taste a lot like classic Moon Pies.

My dad threw one in my recent Vegan Essentials order, and though I intended to eat only half at a time (lest I get fat!), I couldn't stop at half. Microwaved for 15 seconds (would be less in a normal microwave ... mine sucks), the chocolate layer got just melty enough to require a fork and the marshmallow layer went all soft and gooey. How could I not eat it all in one setting?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cornbread Pizza

I've been wanting to create a Southern-style veggie pizza for my cookbook, loaded high with greens, summer squash, peppers, and Vidalia onions. And I'd planned on using a traditional pizza crust, but one night last week, inspiration struck. Why not create a cornbread crust? What's more Southern than cornbread? So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Southern Veggie Cornbread Pizza:

For the crust, I halved my recipe for cast-iron cornbread (also in the cookbook). I didn't want to use the whole amount because it would be way too thick. I topped the uncooked crust with homemade pizza sauce, some TVP that I rehydrated in a "beefy" broth, and sauteed turnip greens, squash, red bell pepper, and Vidalia onions. Then I baked it all in my cast-iron skillet.

Wow! I'm proud of this creation. It was super good! The crust was just the right thickness, about the size of a deep dish pizza crust, and the combination of TVP "beef," sauce, and veggies was both hearty and healthy.

I will probably use kale next time though, instead of turnip greens. Turnip greens really need to be cooked down for about 45 minutes to get rid of their bitter taste, so the milder taste of kale works better when sauteéd. Since the turnip greens were sauteéd and then baked, they weren't terribly bitter on the pizza. But I think kale would be the best green for this recipe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets Revisited

I've been eating leftover Chickpea Cutlets for days, and though I'm not tired them, I've been trying to find new ways to use them. Last night, I added the last cutlet to this yummy Curried Pattypan Squash and "Chicken" Sauté over Quinoa:

I'd been sitting on a lovely white pattypan squash from the farmer's market for a few weeks, and it needed to be consumed. So I cut off the thick winter squash skin and stir-fried it up with garlic. I chopped the cutlet up and added it and the raisins in the last few minutes of cooking. Wow! This was super tasty. I love any combination of veggies and curry.

Curried Pattypan Squash and "Chicken" Sauté over Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 pattypan squash, cubed (or any winter squash)
1 Chickpea Cutlet (from the Veganomicon) or another chicken substitute, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. safflower oil
Curry powder
Cayenne Pepper
Veggie Broth
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a skillet, and add garlic. Cook one minute, and then add squash. As squash begins to soften, add curry powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper (all to taste). Cook about 10 to 15 minutes or until squash becomes very soft.

If squash begins to stick to the pan, deglaze pan with a splash of veggie broth. Add cutlets and raisins. Continue adding veggie broth as needed to prevent sticking (this allows you to not use so much oil).

When raisin have plumped, squash is soft, and all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and serve over quinoa.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Easy Cheezy

I've never visited the East Coast, so I'm not sure what makes this lasagna "East Coast Lasagna." But that's what Rory Freedman and Kim Bourdain call it in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.

East coast, west coast, whatever. This stuff was incredible! And super simple.

That melty goodness all over the top is Teese, of course. Under that is the Skinny Bitch Basic Red Sauce, made with crushed tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, red wine, hot sauce, and agave nectar.

In true Skinny Bitch fashion, I used brown rice pasta lasagna noodles (because white pasta is nasty). The noodles were covered in alternating layers of red sauce, Teese, homemade tofu ricotta, and Morningstar Farms veggie burger crumbles.

As you can see, I have a problem "plating" lasagna, but I swear it tasted way better than it looks. I believe this was the first time I've made lasagna with burger crumbles. I usually use eggplant or spinach or something veggie-ish. But this was a nice stand-in for the old meat lasagna I used to love as a kid. Only way healthier. And minus the cruelty.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mail Order Food!

My super awesome dad LOVES to surprise me with mail order vegan goodies! He actually picks out the products on his own, though occasionally he'll call me when he's placing an order to ask for input. Now, my dad is not vegan. But he has good taste. Here's what he ordered last week from Vegan Essentials:

From left to right: Primal Strips Seitan Teriyaki Jerky, Fantastic Foods New England Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, Fantastic Foods Vegetarian Nature's Burger Mix, Primal Strips Seitan Thai Peanut Jerky, a Sweet & Sara Smore Pie, a log of Teese, and a Primal Strips Smoked Primal Stick.

See what I mean? Good taste. He ALWAYS orders a log of Teese. He's kept me stocked in the stuff since I first tried it months ago. And the Sweet & Sara Pie was my idea! I've been dying to try one. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

Tonight, I opened the Nature's Burger mix, and made this monster veggie burger:

Served on a massive Ezekial sprouted grain bun with Teese, local tomato, romaine lettuce, Granny's homemade pickles, and mustard, this was super filling and tasty. The patty is made by combining the dry burger mix with with water and then frying in a skillet until brown. It wasn't as firm as a typical frozen patty, but it tasted really yummy ... almost like falafel.

Thanks daddy! And yes, he reads my blog...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets Take Over the World

If I had to choose my three favorite recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romano, I'd choose the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), Hot Glazed Tempeh (Veganomicon), and of course, the ever-popular Chickpea Cutlets (also from VCon).

Isa and Terry

I made a batch for dinner tonight, served with a red wine roux (from VCon), a mess o' turnip greens, and a marinated tomato salad:

It's my second time making the cutlets, and I love them just as much this time around. I baked them again, but instead of topping the cutlets with mushroom gravy (like I did last time), I went for the red wine roux.

I love red wine, and I imagined this would be the best sauce ever. But honestly, it was just okay. I used a pinot noir, and maybe a merlot would have been a better fit. I was also out of celery, so I substituted dried celery flakes. Real celery would have been better. Don't get me wrong. It's a good sauce, but I think the mushroom gravy recipe from VCon is better on the cutlets.

The turnip greens came from the Clarksville Farmer's Market, where I spent the weekend visiting my boyfriend and his parents. I cooked them down about 45 minutes with oil, sugar, and my special ingredient, Liquid Smoke.

I also whipped up a marinated tomato salad using fresh farmer's market produce. This was SO good! Here's what I did:

Marinated Tomato Salad
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
black pepper to taste

Mix ingredients and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

So fellow vegan foodies, what are your favorite Isa and Terry recipes?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gettin' Figgy Wit' It

The last time I ate a fig, it was probably in a Fig Newton. And it probably wasn't even a real fig, but rather some processed dried fruit crap. But despite my inexperience with the seedy fruit, I've always loved the smell of Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar and Fig Body Spray, so I figured I must like figs.

I bought these babies at the farmer's market last Saturday with no clue what to do with them. They were overpriced ($6 for about 12 figs ... a vendor down the way was selling them for $4, but the damage had already been done when I stumbled on those). They were also a little over-ripe. Some were even bursting open.

I ate a few of the not-so-ripe ones raw. They were tasty, but I knew they'd end up rotting in my fridge if I didn't find some way to use them in a recipe. I searched the Internets, and found this great recipe for Caramelized Fig Spread:

The spread contains broiled, caramelized figs and onions, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I tried it on an everything bagel with Tofutti cream cheese. Hot damn! This is good stuff! Way better than raw figs.

I'd also picked up a crap ton of tomatoes and a cute little jalapeno pepper at the market. And I bought a lemon and some Granny Smith apples at the Piggly Wiggly.

While the figs were broiling for the fig spread, I used the above ingredients (and some evaporated cane juice) to prepare the Tomato Jam from last month's Vegetarian Times:

This was also great served on bagels with vegan cream cheese. The apples, lemon, and sugar give the jam a sweet preserve-y taste, but the tomatoes and pepper lend a bit of a savory kick. I'd never even heard of tomato jam before, but I think I have a new favorite summer tomato treat.

Presto! It's Pesto!

Lots of the vegan food bloggers have been making pesto lately, and I wanted in on the fun! So last night, I whipped up a batch of Vegan with a Vengeance Basil Pesto:

Served over whole wheat spaghetti and white beans (for protein and yumminess), this meal really hit the spot. I bought a big batch of fresh basil (with this dish in mind) at the farmer's market last Saturday. Though I'm growing basil on my porch, there's not enough for pesto.

I also bought bulk walnuts for this dish last weekend at Wild Oats, but somehow I forgot why I bought them. So instead of saving them for the pesto, I snacked on them throughout the week. Some even found their way on top of Sheridan's birthday cupcakes (see post about that below).

So when it came time to make pesto, I realized I didn't have the 1/2 cup of walnuts the recipe called for. So I subbed some pecans with the walnuts (about 1/4 cup each), and the result was even more delicious than using plain walnuts.

I served this with a big ol' green salad of iceberg (I LOVE iceberg and I don't care if it's void of nutrients), carrots, cabbage, farmer's market tomatoes, local cucumbers, vegan bacon bits, and non-dairy ranch!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shroom "Steak" Dinner

Who says vegans can't have steak? Grilled portabella mushrooms are just as hearty and way better for your heart than nasty old, bloody cow flesh. Even though it's not totally Southern, I wanted to include a Mushroom Steak recipe in my vegan Southern cookbook since folks down here love their steak.

This was my first attempt:

Yea, yea. I know it looks like a big round turd. But portabellas don't photograph well. I tried to cut a piece out to make it less, um, round. But it still looks weird. The taste, however, was quite nice.

But I could use a little help. It was my first attempt marinating and grilling a portabella. I've eaten my share, and I've cooked with baby bellas. But never a whole giant shroom. The taste was yummy, but something was missing. It needed more of a chargrilled steak flavor.

Here's what I used in my marinade: 2 Tbsp. balsalmic vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine, 1 cup veggie stock, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke, 2 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire, 1 Tbsp. oil, and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.

I was thinking about adding some bottled steak sauce to the mix next time. What do you guys think? Any tips?

On the side, I made some super-yummy Fried Cucumbers:

These are sooooo going in the cookbook. My neighbor Wes suggested I try this because his mom used to make them all the time when he was growing up in the country. I'd had fried pickles, but never cucumbers. But since we deep fry every veggie in the South, it makes perfect sense. I actually prefer the fried cukes to fried pickles. Of course. the secret is in the batter. These were perfect dipped in Organicsville Non-Dairy Ranch Dressing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Sheridan!

My best friend Sheridan celebrated her 28th birthday Saturday night (even though her birthday was actually Friday). So of course I made her cupcakes. She likes fruity desserts, so I made the Banana Split Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

These were so awesome! The cupcake contains crushed pineapple, strawberry jam, mashed banana, and dark chocolate. On top is a vegan buttercream frosting with chocolate ganache, walnuts, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry.

The recipe called for pineapple preserves, but the only brand I could find contained high-fructose corn syrup. So I bought canned pineapple and chopped it up, then blended it with some homemade strawberry jam. The recipe didn't call for strawberry stuff, but I felt like banana split cupcakes required a little strawberry goodness. As usual, I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all the white flour (I don't even buy that stuff!).

Because you really can't get enough cupcake porn, here's another shot:

And here's Sheridan making her birthday wish:

Sheridan lives in Little Rock, which is two hours from Memphis. So I loaded up the cupcakes and made the drive yesterday afternoon. We ate cupcakes and then went to the River Market District for dinner at Bosco's and beer at the Flying Saucer.

I got her a couple tee-shirts for her birthday. One has a big peace dove on it, and the other (pictured here) has a brontosaurus and says "Vegetarian." Of course, I also bought a matching one for myself!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tofu Is the New Metal

On Wednesday night, I pulled out an old standby that I'd forgotten about — Please Don't Feed the Bears, a vegan metalcore cookzine with awesome tofu and seitan recipes. It even has a recommended metal soundtrack for each dish.

I adapted a recipe for Szechwan Tofu with Triple Threat Pepper Sauce:

It may not look like much, but this was so easy and delicious! It's fried tofu simmered in a sauce of mirin, soy sauce, garlic, dry mustard, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. The recipe also calls for red and green bell peppers, but I left those out because I wanted a plain tofu dish sans the veggies (I know, I know...all meat, no veggies...blah blah blah).

According to Please Don't Feed the Bears, I should have been listening to Killing Addiction's "Legacies of Terror" demo while making this. But I don't know much about metal, so...if they had a punk rock cookbook, I could probably manage the soundtrack thing a little easier.

I served the tofu over rice noodles, and I also had a side of Sauteed Squash and Green Beans from Vegan Success:

This recipe is really just what it looks and sounds like — squash, fresh green beans, chopped tomato, dried herbs, and soy margarine. It was a tasty way to use up some abundant summer produce.

As for Please Don't Feed the Bears, I highly recommend this cookbook. Not only is it metal as hell, but the recipes have hardcore names like "Indian Tacos of Death," "Seitanic Pepper Steak," and "Terror of Thai Soup." The recipe for "Human Marinade/Baste Dip" actually calls for "the ashes of one fine thin joint (optional)."

And with instructions for corn dogs, "vegan deep friedness," and "Cop-Shop Special" (aka donuts), it's far from health food...which is a good thing in moderation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On a Stick

There's something about shoving a stick into your food and tossing it on to the grill that makes it taste better. Or maybe it's just more fun to eat. Last night, before gorging on Sweet Potato Bread, I made these Hoison "Sausage" and Plum Kebabs from last month's Vegetarian Times:

Since hoison sauce is my all-time favorite condiment and Tofurkey Kielbasa is my all-time favorite faux meat, these kebabs were like heaven on a stick (and honestly, it doesn't get much better than celestial utopia with a metal rod crammed through it).

These were super easy to make. The kebabs are made with "sausages," sliced plums, and green onions. They're grilled and then slathered with a sauce of hoison, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili paste. Here's a pic before I added the sauce:

On the side, I had Grilled Corn on the Cob:

I wrapped these babies in foil after coating them in Earth Balance, salt, and Cavender's Greek Seasoning. Then I grilled them for about 20 minutes.

Served with a small green salad with faux feta, this was the best meal I've had in a while. Thankfully, the kebab recipe made four skewers, so I'll be eating leftovers for a few more days. Yea!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sweet Potato Queen

Sweet potatoes are so freakin' versatile. You can make 'em into a pie. You can slice 'em into french fries. You can top 'em with vegan marshmallows and make candied yams. Or you can make this awesome Sweet Potato Bread with Roasted Pecans:

I invented this tonight for my cookbook, though I can't decide if it should be listed under Breads or Desserts. It's similar to a banana bread in that it's sweet but not overwhelmingly so. In fact, it does have one mashed banana in it, in addition to mashed sweet potatoes, whole wheat flour, and roasted pecans from my Uncle Dale's farm in Arkansas.

I've never invented my own bread recipe, but it seems pretty foolproof. I followed a basic formula that I've seen repeated in other bread recipes for ratios of baking soda, baking powder, flour, fat, and liquid. If you look closely, many recipes call for similar proportions.

However, since most recipes I looked at called for eggs, I was a little afraid this bread wouldn't turn out as well without them. But it seems like the mashed banana and baking powder did the trick for binding and rising. Who needs eggs anyway?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Raw Food Monday

Today is the first Monday in August, and you all know what that means. Well, maybe you don't. It's time for my monthly raw food detox day. I started the morning with a Orange Strawberry Banana Smoothie:

I juiced two oranges in my Jack Lalanne and blended the juice with a frozen banana, a handful of frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup raw oats, and a tablespoon of ground flax seed. It was tasty and held me through until about 10 a.m. when my tummy started growling like crazy.

At that point, I ate an apricot, some grapes, and few walnuts. But I was still starving come noon when I shoveled in this Huge Green Salad with Inner Light Cucumber Dressing:

The dressing recipe (cucumbers, macadamia nuts, garlic, lemon juice) came from Vegan Fusion, an awesome cookbook that's about half raw. The salad was filling, but only for about an hour. I'm used to salads piled high with fattening extras, like tofu, veggie bacon bits, croutons, vegan cheese. So the plain veggies didn't do much to keep my belly full. I stopped for a wheatgrass shot at Smooth Moves smoothie shop after lunch, just because it seemed appropriate.

I had to go to a Shelby County Commission meeting after lunch ... for work. And I wisely stuffed a bag of nuts, a bag of grapes, and an Active Greens Organic Food Bar (they're 90% raw but who's counting) in my purse. Over the course of the three hours I sat in that meeting, I consumed all of that. And I was still starving.

After work, I whisked together this Creamy Carrot Ginger Bisque from last month's Vegetarian Times:

This was SO delicious and simple. Just blend carrot juice, avocado, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soaked nuts (I used cashews instead of the pine nuts called for in the recipe), and cumin.

On the side, I had Raw Mashed "Potatoes":

It's really raw cauliflower blended with soaked cashews, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. This stuff was also awesome. I found the recipe online, but it's so simple I have to share it.

Raw Mashed "Potatoes"
1 small cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup cashews, soaked for half an hour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic

Blend the cashews in a food processor. Add cauliflower and blend until it forms course crumbs. Add the olive oil and garlic and blend again until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This meal actually kept me full for several hours. In the future when I do these detoxes, I think I need to eat more hearty food during the day. Also, I always feel super tired on these detox days. I blame the lack of coffee (I do allow myself to have green tea because I will DIE with no caffeine). Any suggestions?