Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 15: Thanksgiving Dinner

Is it safe to come out now? *blink blink*

During my blog absence this week, I was planning, cooking, and then recovering from the Thanksgiving dinner I hosted for my immediate family. It was the first time I attempted to cook a formal dinner for them and whoo-whee!, was that an experience I'll not soon forget! I feel like I've been initiated into adulthood, LOL!

So what was on the menu for five adults and one toddler?

1. Tofu pups for the kid. It's vegan hot dog wrapped in pizza crust. I knew he'd eat this if nothing else!

2. Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup - This is the first time I've cooked anything with pumpkin since I'm not a fan of the taste. I thought the coconut milk and bit of curry would make it taste more familiar but it just ended up being weird. Oops. "No [pumpkin] soup for you!" - Seinfeld

3. Mashed potatoes with cashew gravy. I loved the cashew gravy! I added some vegan oyster mushroom sauce and it was perfect.

4. Roasted brussels sprouts - perhaps a little too roasted? ;-)

5. Quinoa salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. The quinoa salad had tomato, corn, and apple. Nice and light to balance out the rest of the meal.

6. Chickpea Cutlet Loaf. My pièce de résistance! I saw a few blogs using Veganomicon's chickpea cutlet for their loaf and I thought it was brilliant! I made a double batch of Isa's Doublebatch Chickpea Cutlet recipe so I could have two loaves. For the stuffings, I grounded up half of a Field Roast Meatloaf and sautéed it with onion, then added cornbread, chopped pecans, and Italian seasoning. I think the stuffing was my favorite part of dinner. So yum!

7. Apple pie - I know pumpkin pie is the norm for Thanksgiving dinner, but since we're already having pumpkin soup, I opted for apple pie. The glaze didn't turn out well, making some parts really dark but otherwise it was delicious.

So that's my 2010 Thanksgiving dinner, whew! How was yours?

Lastly, food aside, I want to express thanks for all the blessings in my life, especially my family, my wheekers, and this big planet we call home. I am also thankful for terrific vegan community on Twitter and the blogs. You guys rock!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 14: Tofu Burger

Fact: I can eat burgers and fries any time of the day - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - you name it. I just love this typical fast food staple.

We used to love the frozen burger patties you can buy in the store...until we found out our favorite brand wasn't vegan. I've made chickpea cutlet and black bean burgers from Veganomicon before to substitute, but one day, hubby just fried up a thick slab of seasoned tofu for the burger and it changed our world.

I did not know something so simple could be so delicious. And that's how we've been eating our burger since. Just add a dash of vegetable seasoning, and fry on both side until the outside is slightly crispy.

Here I've added a few slices of Tofurky. The tofu is peaking out underneath there. We didn't make it so thick this time because we wanted a lighter meal.

And burgers aren't the same to me without pickles. I love pickles. It adds the kick that makes the burger extra delish. What's your favorite burger add-ons?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 13: Thanksgiving Meal Ideas

We're still finishing up leftovers in the VeganWheekers household so I'll devote today's Vegan Mofo to all the delicious vegan Thanksgiving meal guides that are starting to pop. Here's a list of what I've seen so far. If you have a favorite, please share in the comments!

VegNews & VegWeb: Thanksgiving O-Rama newsletter
Healthy Happy Life: Healthy Happy Feast
Fat Free Vegan: Thanksgiving Menu Planning (scroll down)
Vegan Culinary Experience Holiday Issue [PDF]
Friends of Animals' Thanksgiving Menu
Robin Robertson's A Vegan Holiday Dinner from the Party Vegan
New York Times: Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving (not all vegan, but easy to veganize)
Isa Chandra's Thanksgiving In An Hour
Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlet recipe (love this!)
C'est La Vegan's Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas

11/18/2010 Additions
Healthy Happy Life: Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas: Cornucopia of Recipes
Oh She Glows's Favourite Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up
Washington Post: Vegan potluck celebrates a meat-free Thanksgiving
Ecomii: A Dozen Delicious Vegan Holiday Dishes

11/19/2010 Additions
The Ellen Degeneres Show: Recipes
Chef Chloe's Vegan Thanksgiving
New York Times: Centerpiece Dishes Without the Turkey

What are you making for the holidays?

Vegan Mofo Day 12: Tater Tot Casserole w/ Cashew Cream

When I saw SnarkyVegan's White Trash Tator Tot Casserole w/ Daiya, I was absolutely fascinated. What a wondrous creation! I knew immediately this dish would be in my future.

Well, tonight, it's in my tummy. Yum!

I will say this is just about the strangest thing I've cooked yet (I've never made casserole of any kind before) and I wasn't sure how hubz was going to take it. I gently warned him as I was whipping this up that I was making something very different and should it fail, there's still leftover curry in the fridge, LOL!

My hesitation in the success of this dish laid not in SnarkyVegan's recipe but in my modification of it. Instead of using Daiya cheese, I opted for cashew cream because I've never really liked cheese in anything except on pizza. And guess what? I've never made cashew cream before either, hence my apprehension at the success of this meal.

Here's my modified recipe:

Tater Tot Casserole w/ Cashew Cream

Cashew cream:
2 cups soaked raw cashew
1 cup plant-based milk (I used soy milk)
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup pea
whole head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 bag of tator tots

1. Blend raw cashew with 1/2 cup of soy milk or as needed for creamy consistency.
2. Heat oil in pan and create roux by adding flour.
3. Add cashew cream to roux. Mix. Add the other 1/2 cup of soy milk. Mix.
4. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. If the cream becomes too thick, add more milk.
5. Arrange the vegetables in the casserole dish and pour the cashew cream over it.
6. Arrange the tator tots in rows on top.
7. Bake at 375 F degrees for half hour (or until the tator tots brown).
(SnarkyVegan baked for an hour but my tots turned really brown at the 30 min mark so I took it out so it wouldn't burn. Luckily the vegetables were well cooked!)

Serves 4-5

In hindsight, I probably didn't need the roux but I'm just writing down what I did for your reference.

The verdict?

We liked it! So much so we went for second helpings and had to stop ourselves from overeating. There's exactly enough for tomorrow's dinner and I can't wait. Woohoo!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 11: Panang Curry

Happy Monday!

Brace yourself, this picture is not very flattering for a very yummy dish:

I know it looks like a yellow blob but I promise you there's tofu, cauliflower, and eggplant in there.

Hubz loves curry so here we are with another curry dish. He paid it the highest compliment by saying, "I've eaten many curries but nothing that tasted like this." I had to make sure he wasn't being sarcastic. Indeed he really liked it!

You can use the recipe from Chef Chloe or Epicurious.The only difference in ingredients is the veggies added at the end. Chloe used sweet potato and kale; Epicurious used carrots and red bell pepper. I myself used eggplant and cauliflower. The surprising ingredient was peanut butter; I've never seen peanut butter used in a curry before. It really made the curry extra creamy on top of the coconut milk. Yum!

If you love curry, I highly recommend this recipe (from either source). We'll definitely be making this again!

 "Is it Monday already?"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 10: Raw Kale Salad with Mac & Cheese

I summoned up the courage and I did it. I ate raw kale. 

Yes, you may laugh! But for someone who's hated veggies growing up (they've always tasted bitter to me) and rarely ate raw salads, this was a big step. I've been slowly absorbing information online about the benefits of eating raw and I must have absorbed enough because I woke up this morning and decided to have a raw kale salad. Yes, sirree!

Following some online instructions, I rubbed extra virgin olive oil and salt into the kale leaves to soften it and added a bit of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar for flavoring. While that was marinating, I made mac and cheese. Instead of the usual VeganDad recipe which used tofu and cashew as the base, I tried Eating Consciously's Avocado Mac and "Cheese" which used avocado and white beans instead. This recipe had less ingredients and no oil; a quick spin in the food processor and we're done. For an added touch, I baked it with some Panko bread crumbs before serving.

I served the kale with apple, tomato, and sunflower seeds just to make it more colorful and less daunting.

Verdict: I loved the raw kale salad! So much so that I had second helpings. While I enjoyed the new mac and cheese recipe, hubby said he preferred VeganDad's. He also had to rinse the kale because he said it was too salty (he has a lower salt tolerance than I do).

I'm also trying to be more mindful of how I eat, mostly that I chew my food better and have better posture (I'm a chronic sloucher). I will also try to make a habit of focusing solely on eating at mealtime instead of being distracted by the TV or computer. My brain is always racing and demanding new info (I guess that's why I'm addicted to Twitter) so I've got to learn to slow down and be in the moment.

Just like Bert...


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 9: Curried Pineapple Rice

With leftover pineapple chunks sitting in the fridge, I knew I found tonight's dinner when I saw ChowVegan's Curried Pineapple Rice. It's a quick, low maintenance meal to whip up; just chop everything and throw them into the rice cooker to cook together with the rice. It's also healthy since there's no oil or frying involved.

I subbed some ingredients from ChowVegan's original: yellow onion instead of green, 1/2 lemon instead of lime, and pine nuts instead of almonds. I also left out mushrooms since I don't like them and raisins which I don't have. I'm sure the original version is much better, LOL! In any case, hubz loved it and we'll be making it again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 8: Brussel Sprouts

I had a fierce craving for brussel sprouts and corn one day so I mixed them together and roasted them with a little olive oil and vegetable seasoning. Served over quinoa, it was the perfect dinner to a long day.

Here's another cute guinea pig video my friend Laloo reminded me of:

They make everything look so yummy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 7: Soyaki Tofu, Chard / SFACC Guinea Pigs!

We break from our regularly scheduled VeganMofo to bring you:

GUINEA PIGS!! Up for adoption at the San Francisco Animal Care & Control:

Tim & Brian

Edgar and Juan

Yolanda and Jasmine

Sasha, Rita, Lucy, and Gretchen

In a perfect world, they'd all come home with me. But in an equally perfect world, they'd all go to loving, forever homes in pairs (elsewhere) and soon!

//end cuteness, cue yumminess//

For lunch, we had tofu marinated in Trader Joe's Soyaki with a side of chard. I was inspired by Jenna over at Good Good Things after a full morning of reading veganmofo blogs. Oh my, there are SO many things to read I barely made a dent in my Google Reader. It's still shows 1000+ unread posts! I've also bookmarked and favorited lots of yummy looking recipes that I can't wait to try.

Tip: If you use Microsoft Office, there's a program called OneNote that acts like a notebook. I use it to store all the recipes that I find online. The cool feature is that when you cut and paste from a website, it automatically pastes the link of the page too, so you'll always know where you got the recipe from in case you need to go back to it or give credit to it when you write about it on your own blog.

How do you store your recipes?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 6: Vegan Peking "Duck"

Vegan Peking Duck

I'm breaking out a family recipe for you guys today. Mom was inspired by the Beijing Peking Duck dish and that's why she called it that but hubz assured me it tasted nothing like it. Looks pretty meaty though, doesn't it?

What you need:
Beancurd sheets

You can find this in the frozen section of Asian markets. It's packed folded in half but it's actually a huge circle. Take it out and let it thaw for an hour. Cut the bag on three sides so you can fold it out to use as a table spread. It'll lessen your cleaning time because things are about to get messy!

While you're waiting for it to thaw, mix together the sauce:
1/4 cup organic soy sauce
1/3 cup water (or more if you don't like it too salty)
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp mushroom seasoning (optional)
1 tbsp sugar

You'll also need this for frying later (do not mix with sauce):
3 whole pieces star anise
oil for shallow frying

After it's thawed, separate four bean curd sheets from the pack (keep the rest in a zip lock bag so it doesn't dry out and refreeze). Loosely fold each sheet into four (don't tear it!), so it's easier to handle. In a wide basin filled with lukewarm water, dip each sheet in one at a time and soak for about 30 secs until soft. Then very gently ball the sheet between your hands to squeeze the water out (like how you'd crumple a piece of paper). A few holes or small tears is okay but you want the piece largely in tact.

Carefully unfold the crumpled beancurd sheet onto the plastic bag spread and lay it out flat in its full circle splendor. Pour a few tablespoons of the sauce onto the sheet, and using your hands (or a brush if you don't like to get dirty!), gently pat and spread the sauce all over the sheet. Then fold the sheet using the instructions below. Each time you fold, spread more sauce on that section (which would technically be the bottom of the sheet that hasn't gotten lathered with sauce).

Once done, you're left with an index card sized piece of bean curd sheet. Do the same for the rest of the sheets.

Prepare your steamer and steam them for 10-15 minutes. If you have a small steamer like I do, then do it one by one. Do not stack them in the steamer. You'll know it's done when the skin looks opaque and thicker.

In a frying pan (preferably non-stick), add enough oil to coat the entire bottom and fry the 3 pieces of star anise for about a minute. Then add the folded bean curd sheet (watch out for splattering!) and fry each side for a few minutes until golden.

When done, cut into strips and serve with something bland like rice or quinoa because this thing is salty! Cucumbers complement the dish nicely.

Hope you guys are having a great start to the week!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 5: Eggplant Parmesan Pasta

It's Friday, yay! What a week! Chef J was out today so it fell on me to cook lunch for the crew. I thought pasta with broccoli and eggplant parmesan would be a quickie, but I overestimated my skillz a wee bit and it took longer than planned. Oops.

The hungry folks gobbled up the extra large portions so it all worked out in the end!

To start the weekend, I leave you with some cute guinea pigs:

This is Gandalf notifying us that "november is pet your abyssinian correctly month. here's a diagram for you humans to help you pet us properly. "

Follow Gandalf and his friend Voltaire on Twitter for laugh out loud tweets from the guinea pig POV. I always look forward to their tweets during my morning commute and share them with hubz.

And finally:

Too cute!!

Have a great one, y'all!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 4: SF Giants Parade, Loving Hut

Yesterday, San Francisco held a huge ticker-tape parade for the SF Giants. Hubs and I played hookie from work to partake in the festivities. I’ve never seen anything like it! The atmosphere in the orange-and-black-color adorned crowd was electric!
This was the man who brought a face to the team and game for me. Cody Ross!

This is the best shot of Brian Wilson I could get. He was walking the parade route instead of riding on the cable car. Watching him close the games was so intense and fun! Fear the Beard!

And it wouldn't be VeganMofo if I didn't include a bit about food, would it? After the parade, we ducked into Westfield Shopping Center's food court for lunch at Loving Hut.

Fried rice, curry, and sweet & sour side dishes from the steam table. Yum!

We headed back to work for the last half of the day and ended it at the movies with a pre-screening of "Unstoppable." It was an action packed movie! I'll never look at trains the same way again.

After such a fun-filled day, I was ready to follow Belle's example:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 3: Cauliflower Tempura

Today's Vegan Mofo is brought to you by my hubby!

To show his support, he made his special dish for me to share: Cauliflower Tempura

What I love about his tempura is the thickness of the flour. It's totally yummy with the soft veggie inside!

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 box of Tempura mix (7.5 oz)
2 tbsp of soy sauce or Bragg's
3 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of water (exactly!)
oil for frying

1. Except for the cauliflower, toss the ingredients in a bowl and mix. It should make a thick paste. (Too much water would dilute it and make for a thin layer on the tempura.)
2. Heat oil in pan. Roll cauliflower in mix and deep fry until golden brown.

"Feed me!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 2 : suyo, bok choy, red chard

"Is it safe to come out yet?"

San Francisco is partying hard after the SF Giant's World Series win! Woo! Hubz and I were screaming and jumping in celebration at home after Brian Wilson threw the last strike. The guinea pigs were less enthused. :-)

A quick post to share my vegan lunch at work by Chef J:

suyo cucumber (it's long, curly with ridges) mushroom and bean thread

bok choy with vegan shrimp and tofu-like seitan

red chard and carrots

Random quote of the day: "A simple smile from you could be the validation a total stranger needed to believe that they matter." While I like the positive message that entails, and I'm sure it's true many times, but one time I smiled at a stranger at the farmer's market (sort of in the "excuse me, I can't reach the basil you're blocking" way) and he interpreted my smile as an invitation to preach to me about his religion. Very insistently. I was totally flustered and high tailed out of there without finishing my shopping!

So I hope you have better results wherever you bestow your beautiful smile. :-)

Ok, back to celebrating the SF Giants' win. WOOOOOOOO!!!