Sunday, February 27, 2011

PPK Cook Book Challenge - Week 7 - 500 Vegan Recipes

This week's book was 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. I am sad to say I was so busy this week, I did not give these two fab authors their due. I did manage to make 3 different recipes and I'm looking forward to trying many more. I spend many months drooling over testers' pictures and testing while this book was in the works. So I know it is going to provide me with much awesomeness.

My first selection was the Blueberry Orange Muffins. I chose this for two reasons. The first is that our orange tree is full of sweet, juicy, beautiful oranges right now. The second reason is that 3 of my girlfriends from work were coming by at 4am to make 120 breakfast burritos and they needed some awesome vegan fuel for our marathon. I didn't get a picture of the muffins, because, well, I don't find muffins particularly photogenic. The muffins were nice and light and not too sweet. There was just a hint of orange. I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh. I think they would be even better with a touch of orange zest to up the orange profile just a tad.

Next I made something that would be easy for work lunches. I love any excuse to use barley, so with those two criteria in mind, I made the Jalapeno-Lime Barley Salad. According to the book, this as the first vegan dish Joni's mom whipped up for her. It is a simple and light dish. This would be a great potluck dish for a summer outing. For my tastes it was a little on the bland side. I will probably up the jalapeno and lime next time.

Tonight I got home and realized I had only done two recipes for the week. I decided to be naughty and make dessert. I decided to make the simply lovely Coconut-Vanilla Pudding. This recipe has only a few ingredients and comes together in no time. It does require some chilling time, but active time is probably less than 10 minutes. I decided to fancy it up a bit with caramelized plantains with oranges and cinnamon. I thought the plantains would be a nice compliment to the hint of coconut. It was creamy and quite lovely. I did use vanilla hemp milk for my non-dairy milk.

Looking through the book, the recipes are well written and well organized. I love books that have a LOT of recipes. It is like when we used to get the JC Penney catalog around Christmas time. Always something to find in the pages to get you excited!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Funny Valentine

I should really say my sweet Valentine. Fred donned his manly apron and made me a delicious and healthy Valentine's Day dinner. He extended out Eat Drink and Be Vegan cookbook challenge and made the Popeye Pasta. This dish is teeming with fresh spinach and garlic. I could smell the garlic from the garage when I got home. All of this was part of a flavorful and beautiful red tomato sauce. He choose a bed of quinoa fusilli pasta to finish the dish off. Now I'm strong to the finich 'cause I ates me spinach.

As a side he made the very simple and very delicious Lemon-Broiled Green Beans. I was a little worried when I saw parchment paper on the baking sheet. After all it was going under the broiler. The broiling/roasting method really brings out the subtle sweetness of the beans. They are left slightly crunchy with a little lemony tartness. They are super duper easy to make and a very nice variation for a bright change. I made the mistake of asking Fred if the recipe called for it (as I was certain it might flame up under the broiler). He gave me the big hairy eye-ball and chased me out of the kitchen. Hee hee. Sometimes I just need to let the guy go. He's really quite good in the kitchen as you can see. Hope you all had a love filled day. I know I did!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

PPK Cook Book Challenge - Week 5 - Eat Drink and Be Vegan

I have been suppressed by "the man" so my computer time is very limited on my work days, so my posts are likely to be less frequent. I think I'm really going to like this book. It is new to my collection. This is my first Dreena Burton book. I'm definitely going to have to check out more. I really enjoy her easy to read recipe formats and so far I'm digging her recipes. It is always nice when recipes are pantry friendy. So far I've found hers to be so. I wasn't able to get three recipes done this week, but I did get two done and have two on deck.

Last night we had the Broccoli Cashew Teriyaki Stir Fry. Fred always loves him some stir fry, so I thought I'd throw this one into the mix. When I looked at the sauce recipe, I feared it would be too sweet for my taste. I'm very happy to report it was delicious. I love eating lots of colorful veggies and this dish delivered with the beautiful green broccoli and gorgeous red peppers. I didn't have raw cashews, so I threw in roasted ones. They made the texture nicely crunchy! This was the perfect end to a long day.

I had a craving for something sweet, but didn't want to go crazy on the sugar. I wanted a healthy sweet treat. The Super Charge Me Cookies fit the bill perfectly! They are made with oats and spelt flour. Flax provides some nice omega 3 action. I'm not a raisin fan, so I subbed currants and walnuts. There were a small amount of chocolate chips in the recipe to reign in the sweet beast in my tummy. The recipe made exactly 12 cookies. Were they good. Well they didn't last even one hour at work. Oh yes, they are soooo good. I know I'll be making these for a quick breakfast grab or a hiking treat.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food Network Friday - Chile Relleno Burgers

This week's challenge is a recipe for Chile Relleno Burgers from Food Network Magazine. Chile Rellenos have been an obsession/addiction for me for quite some time. I no longer partake of the cheese, but in the day I went to many Mexican restaurants in search of the ultimate Chile Relleno. My love was the regular cheese stuffed variety. Not that I couldn't appreciate them stuffed with other goodies, but the true test of authentic goodness and skill of the recipe creator was reserved for the cheese only version. In my trials I had some super eggy messes, grease bombs, some with almost no chile in them (REALLY?), naked, sauced, baked, you name it.

After several years of researching, my favortie ended up hailing from a small taco shop whose employees spoke little or no English, the music was so loud you couldn't hear yourself chew and, well, lets just say it was always questionable whether they might pass health inspections. They had the perfect coating/chili/cheese ratio. Depending on who was cooking on any given day, the fried beauties would be served with a heavenly light tomato sauce. You never knew what the spice level of the chiles would be. Some days they would be very mild. The next time they would almost blow your head off. I think part of the allure was the mystery of what you were going to get that day. One thing was always consistant; they were always delicious! Ah, but I digress.

My happy relleno memories made this a must try conversion for me. The original recipe calls for beef and cheese. It is technically not relleno (stuffed). As is my often M.O., I took the liberty of modifying this one considerably to be something that would make it a bit more authentic and a lot more my own. First it was important to develop the burger itself. I had yet to develop my own burger recipe, so I figured no time like the present. The burger, while very tasty and delicious, has some textural issues, so I won't be posting the recipe. It is still a work in progress. I used the flavors of mushrooms, onion and soyrizo to give you an idea of the flavor profile. The texture is too soft, so I am going to rework it and maybe even come up with a gluten free version. I will share with you the method and maybe some day soon I can share a workable recipe. After developing the burger I used a 1/3 cup scoop and portioned out 8 scoops. Each portion was shaped into a ball and flattened between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4 " thick and 5" rounds. Then about 1 1/2 tablespoons of shredded Italian Daiya were placed on the round leaving a 1/2 inch rim around the outside. On top of that one roasted and peeled chile was placed (also leaving the 1/2" around the outside edge. Then another one of the rounds was carefully placed on top. The edges were pinched together to keep the tasty goodness safely inside. The burgers were then grilled for 6-8 minutes on each side.

While they were grilling, I sauteed a mixture of thinly sliced mushrooms, pablanos and onions seasoned with my own taco seasoning mixture. The whole shooting match was served on top of some yummy whole grain buns with fresh avocado slices and tomatoes slices. I HAVE to get the textural issues remedied, because hot damn were these tasty!

The real beauty is on the inside.

Don't forget to check out all of the other creations at Vegan Appetite!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PPK Cookbook Challenge - Week 4 - Vegan with a Vengeance

I am a bit late posting this one. I'm also a bit disappointed I didn't get more than one recipe made. I had high hopes of making the knishes, but alas, it did not happen. It was a crazy busy week. We were out of town for two days, had a couple of fund raisers, went to a Superbowl Party and then there was my Food Network Friday creation. Yep a full week! So my apologies to Isa for neglecting VwaV. This was the first vegan cook book I ever owned, so I do love it, it's just being a little neglected.

I did have time to whip up this tasty and quick gem for lunch one day. The Tofu Dill Sammiches are so easy and awesome. I am a huge dill lover, so this was right up my alley. It also boasts a nice dose of mustard and lemon. A match made in heaven in my opinion. I need to remember this one for those days where there is very little time and a very empty stomach! I have to brag on my lettuce. I picked it fresh from the garden just minutes before this photo was taken.

Vegan with a Vengeance is a wonderful book for cooks of any experience level. I love this book because it uses easy to find and inexpensive ingredients. I still haven't tried the Isa Pizza which I know is going to be awesome. I've already made the ricotta that goes on the pizza and it rocks my world. Make sure to try the Apple Crumb Muffins. They are heavenly!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My TV Debut! So Fun!!! Tailgating Vegan Style

This week I was fortunate enough to realize one of my long time dreams - to cook on TV! SQUEEEEEEEE!!! What a blast. I was invited by Tram Mai and the producers of local show the Valley Dish to be a contestant on their show. The contest was to make the Best Tailgate Dish for a panel of 3 judges. We had 10 minutes too cook everything live. I had made my queso dip plenty of times before, but never in under 10 minutes before this week. I had practiced at home and did it in 9:40 seconds without any talking or interruptions, so I was really not sure I could pull it off in 10 minutes on the show. Adrenaline was on my side and I finished my dish in record time with almost a minute to spare! This was such a positive and incredible experience. Everyone was so gracious, nice and fun. I hope I have the opportunity to visit again!

Sorry - the links only worked for a limited time :(

The dish I entered was a favorite from 2009 - Tequila Scented Queso. I personally think queso is one of the quintessential tailgaiting foods along with a kick booty salsa. That's how I selected it for the challenge. It is also pretty easy to put together on an outdoor burner for the true tailgating experience. I have to shout out to my lovely and talented friend Daphne Azzi. With literally two day's notice she designed and fired custom made plates and bowls that are just beautiful. Make sure you check them out in the clips. You can also see them in the photo below. Check out this link to her website, Daphne Azzi Ceramics, to see her other unique and beautiful creations.

I'm reposting the recipe here with a few edits. I've decided I want to kick up the spices a bit, cuz I like a big boost of flavor. The only thing I was a bit bummed about is that my hot hatch chiles (that I froze from September's hatch chile take) were mild and not hot. I like it spicy, so that was a bummer. You just never know what you're going to get with those. I'll take out one bag and they will make me cry and I'll take out another one and they are almost sweet, but the show must go on!

Tequila Scented Queso with Hatch Green Chiles

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 medium red onion diced small

1 large heirloom tomato diced small

2 hatch green chiles, roasted, peeled, and diced (seeds left intact if you like the heat)* (about 1/4 cup)

2 Tablespoons of your favorite tequila

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 Tablespoon Earth Balance or other vegan butter

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

Heat oil in saute pan. Add onions and saute until just soft. Add tomatoes and chilies and saute for about 5 more minutes. Deglaze with tequila. Cook down until mixture is slightly sticky. Turn off heat and let cool while preparing the rest of the queso.In a medium sauce pan whisk dry ingredients into water. Turn heat to med-low and cook while whisking frequently. Don't leave the pan unattended or you will end up with a glop of yuk. Once it has thickened turn off heat. Add Earth Balance and stir until melted. Add tomato mixture. Finely chop cilantro and stir into queso.

Serve warm with chips.

*If you don't have access to fresh roasted chilies, you can use canned.
I hope some of you make the dip for Sunday's game!

Goofing on the set with producer Cassie Rathbun.