Friday, October 26, 2007

This weeks offerings...

Before I forget, I found original graham crackers at the Albertsons in Santee, CA. I don't usually stray far from Henry's but I was close and went in. I have a few recipes that call for graham crackers that will benefit from these.

For Thursday nights dinner I made "Spicoli" Burgers and Popcorn Fries. Both recipes are from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. The burgers were really good. They call for a cup of hemp seed which I have never cooked with before.

The burgers had a crusty outside and tender inside. Joe had seconds and said how much he liked them. The kids and I all gobbled ours up. Flavor wise I might like these "Spicoli" Burgers a tiny bit more then the Celebrity Adzuki Bean Patties. But the Celebrity Patties have beans in them and I'm a little more excited to see the kids chomping on them. I'll have to work out the nutrition information for each recipe and see which one comes out on top.

The Popcorn Fries were good. I think they would be plenty tasty with or without the nutritional yeast. The timing worked out well making the two recipes together. These baked fries are pretty similar to the deep fried variety.

On Tuesday night I made the Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. These were really simple to make and would be cute for a special brunch.

Joe really liked them and thought they would be great for his lunches at work. The kids didn't really seem to care at all. I have never actually liked quiche but I thought that they were ok. A little bit to salty for me and honestly anything that has an egg/quiche-like texture kinda squicks me. Still, I'd love to try this recipe out on some non-vegan relatives.

I could have sworn that I had a recipe for some Triple Ginger Cookies, but when it came down to finding it, I couldn't. So, I improvised and they were wonderful. I used the recipe for ginger cookies from Vegan With a Vengeance but instead of using the amount of ginger called for I used

1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
3 oz. chopped crystallized ginger

The cookies really did turn out amazing. There was the perfect amount of spice. I wasn't really sure the kids would be into them but even they liked them. These would be perfect for ice cream sandwiches as well.

And for Monday nights dinner we had some Tofurky sandwiches and oven fries. The sandwiches really weren't anything special but the oven fries were great. All I did was throw the cut up potatoes in a zip lock bag and then drizzled in a few tablespoons of safflower oil. I put in a few shakes of basil, oregano, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Once everything was covered evenly I just spread them on a cookie sheet to bake. They were awesome.

We also tried out the Tofurky brand Bratwurst on the grill. They were pretty good. Joe thinks they would be better boiled and then grilled. They had a nice spice to them and the kids liked them.

FatFree Vegan Kitchen recently had a post about Magic Cookie Bars. These have been a family favorite for a long time. These will be one of the recipes to benefit from the graham crackers I purchased. I'm not sure that I will be using her recipe for sweetened condensed milk but I'm glad to have it to fall back on.

Also, we did end up studying apples this week but all the schools were closed because of the fires, so we had two extra students. I wasn't really keen on doing a more difficult recipe with six kids so we toned it down. The kids made an apple crumble. They did a great job and had a good time. What more can you ask for.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hawaiian Tofu

After seeing the recipe for Hawaiian Tofu in VegNews magazine I knew I had to try it. The whole idea of the shallots and red bell pepper mixed with pineapple sang to me. I'm sad to say that I was pretty disappointed.

I should start by saying that I found some monster shallots. They were 3 times the size of regular shallots. I used three of them as the recipes calls for, but obviously mine were bigger. My first bite of the dish was a total shock. I expected so much more flavor. Even with my extra shallots there wasn't a whole lot of seasoning flavor. There was just a pineapple juice flavor to everything.

The texture of everything was wonderful and I liked the way the tofu turned out. The tofu was rolled in cornstarch and then pan fried. There was a nice chewiness to the tofu. I would like the sauce to have thickened up more and have a little more substance, it would have been nice for the rice.

I can't decide what would have made the seasoning better. Positively some red chili pepper flakes. It needs something more, though. Maybe some vegetable broth in place of half the pineapple juice. I just don't know. I'm not sure it's worth my time to really experiment with this recipe.

The next night I was feeling very lazy and I realize this isn't a very healthy dinner. I asked Isaac what he wanted for dinner and he said pancakes. So, I asked if he'd rather have pancakes or waffles. He decided waffles.

I mixed up the waffle batter and Joe asked if I would put chocolate chips in his. Of course, the kids decided that they wanted chocolate chips also. I have to point out that my batter is whole wheat and there were probably only 10-15 chocolate chips in each waffle.

While the waffles were cooking I heated up some maple syrup on the stove and threw in some frozen raspberries. I let that simmer until the raspberries had fallen apart. That was it. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Waffles with Raspberry Maple Syrup. That's a pretty long name!

Everything was gobbled up and true to form, my last waffle was the best. (not pictured) The last one was the perfect golden brown and the best crispy outside and tender inside. I'll know next time to crank the heat a little more. That was our quick and easy not so healthy dinner.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Soup Season

I'm slightly frustrated as I already typed out this post and had it ready before Blogger went down and deleted everything. So, this is going to be much shorter then the first draft.

The soups is Savory White Bean and Corn Soup, or something along those lines. The recipe is from 20 minutes to dinner. It was good. Pretty kid friendly. I used white kidney beans as my white bean of choice. They have a slight potato flavor that is a little more kid pleasing.

Aside from the onion and garlic the rest of the ingredients were all pantry items. So, this is an easy soup to throw together on short notice. It's also very quick to cook.

I also made a batch of drop biscuits from The Joy of Vegan Baking. They were nice and soft inside with a slightly crunchy outside. I used one of the optional substitutions by using melted Earth Balance instead of canola oil. That gave the biscuits a nice buttery taste that went well with the soup. I'm looking forward to the leftovers for breakfast, toasted with a bit of Earth Balance and jam.

The recipe state that it will yield 24 walnut sized drop biscuits. I don't think mine were much larger then a walnut but I only ended up with 12. Still, 12 biscuits is more then enough for my house.

I also made a batch of cookies from Dreena Burtons new book, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. They are a chocolate, chocolate chip with peanut butter swirled through. They were tasty. Peanut butter isn't my most favorite but everyone seemed to really enjoy these.

I love how Dreena's cookie recipes only yield 1 dozen. Unless I'm baking for an event, I don't need more then 12 cookies in our house.

This week Isaac is studying apples. So, expect some baked apple treats at some point.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chreese pizza and some better things

We really like Road's End mac and Chreese. So when I came across a bunch of packets of mozzarella chreese powder at GTM I was stoked. We've only ever had cheddar and only on pasta.

The back of the chreese packet recommends using 3 packets of mozzarella chreese for one pizza, so that's what I did. I gagged a little when I was chewing my first, and last, bite. Joe didn't look much better off. Ramsey didn't seem to care. (I can't figure out her palate) Isaac said that the pizza tasted funny but he still finished. (He had a brand new video game and I believe he was rushing so that he could play.)

Lucky for me and Joe, I had used the dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. Isa's recipe make enough dough for two pizzas or in our house one pizza and a batch of bread sticks. Joe and I ate the bread sticks with the remaining pizza sauce.

Still love chreese but it will be remaining in the pasta realm only.

For dinner last night we had our first squash of the season. Butternut squash is our favorite. All I do is oil a cookie sheet and place on the sliced pieces of squash. I rub the top of the pieces with oil and dump on a ton of chopped garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and baked until done.

We usually like our squash a little more crispy and brownish but dinner was late and we were hungry. The dinner was rounded out with some steamed broccoli and some Celebrity Adzuki Bean Cakes that I always have on hand in the freezer.

Yesterday I also picked up my copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking. If you can't tell from reading this blog, I love to bake! I could not stop drooling when skimming through the recipes. I had to try something out.

As luck would have it today was our co-op pickup and I wanted to bring some good eats to share. I wanted something sort of simple but tasty. I narrowed it down to a few muffin recipes and my ultimate decision Pumpkin Bread.

This stuff is amazing. I'm not a giant cloves person, so I think I'll scale that measurement down by 1/4 tsp. but I'm still in love. The flavor and texture is just wonderful. When you are holding a piece of the bread it doesn't crumble and fall all over and the crust is divine. Usually it's only brownie or other bar cookie crusts that I covet. I was dying to cut all the edges off of my loaves and hoard them.

I'm so excited to see so many old family favorite cookie recipes veganized in The Joy of Vegan Baking. There's also so many mouth watering new ideas to try. I'm positive it would be negligent of me to just up and foist these baked goods on my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas without a proper taste test first. So, I'm shouldering the burden of pre-holiday test baking.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I love to be right

I do so love to be proven correct. The graham cracker recipe says to bake on parchment paper. It also tells you to roll out your dough on parchment paper. Since the crackers don't tend to spread very much, I thought I'd try cutting my parchment paper after I had cut my cracker shape. Thus making the formed dough easier to transport and keep it's shape.
They transported beautifully. I scored them with the fork after I had them on the cookie sheet.
The dough didn't spread much off of the parchment paper while baking and once the crackers were out of the oven they peeled right off in one sheet.
I will totally make these again using this system. At first I thought I'd be wasting parchment paper because I had planned on flipping over the dough on the cut parchment pieces onto a large piece of parchment on the cookie sheet. Then I would have had to use a new piece of paper to roll out any more dough. It wasn't until I was transporting the first batch that I realised that I could just set them down just as they were. Yea me!

Some time I want to make a half batch and cut the dough into shape but not seperate the crackers at all. I'm wondering if they would bake evenly and be able to seperate after baking. Two of my crackers sat a little to close to each other and decided to become siamese twins. They came apart very easily. I don't want to lose a whole batch if I'm wrong, though.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lazy Poster

I hate to have missed out on so much posting but mostly I've just been really tired. I'll try to keep on track.

First up is Creamy Seashell Casserole from 20 minutes to dinner. This was great. Growing up my mom made a tuna casserole that was creamy with peas in it. The peas were my favorite part. I think every family has some variation of a casserole like this.

This casserole could be adjusted in so many ways. I left out the mushrooms but could just as easily have added in broccoli or maybe sliced up spinach. Growing up, my mom crushed potato chips on the top of her casserole before baking. I can't wait to give this another go.

BTW Ramsey snubbed her nose at dinner, but she's been doing that a lot lately. Everyone else was pleased. In fact she snubbed her nose at what's up next as well.

I also made Stuffed "Griddle Dumplings" from Nonna's Italian Kitchen. This was a bit labor intensive. You make the dough, cook the filling, roll the dough, stuff the dough, cook the dumplings.... It was worth it.

After I cut up all my greens and cooked them down, I didn't have near enough greens to fill all of my dumplings. So, I dug around in my cupboards and found a can of bean medley from Trader Joe's and pureed that to use as filling as well. I also made two dumplings for the kids stuffed with "meat" balls and homemade vegan sausage.

I thought that these were really impressive to look at. Both the greens and the beans had a wonderful flavor. I tried the kids "meat" dumplings and would have preferred those with a dipping sauce.

I have to say the best part was when I ran out of filling. I used the last of the dough to make Piadine, a flat bread, which the dough recipe is originally from. Then I ate that with a little bit of oil left over that I had used to cook the greens in. So, the oil had a bit of flavor from the greens and a TON of flavor from the 4 cloves of garlic. It was amazing. I think I could have a whole meal with a tiny bit of greens and a whole lot of Piadine with garlic/greens oil. Yum!

Other then those two dishes there was a lot of eating out this week. I made a batch of lime cupcakes and didn't realise until they were halfway finished that my oil had gone off. That was a really disgusting smell. I ended up making a second batch with fresh oil but couldn't enjoy them because they still seemed off. I think that's just because that nasty rancid smell really hung around.

There was also a batch of chocolate cupcakes made on Saturday that we took to a birthday party. I do really love the chocolate buttercream frosting in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I don't think that there is a better one out there.

Look for some ginger cookies coming soon. I KNOW that I saw a triple ginger cookie somewhere and it's been driving me mad trying to find it. So, I'm giving up and will just make my own up. I don't care for cakey ginger cookies. I like them chewy/crispy. When I saw some crystallised ginger at GTM I knew it was bound for cookies. I'm also going to give the graham crackers another go. I have an idea in my mind of a way I think will be easier. We'll see if it works. I believe that's all. I have a small idea about chewy pretzel bites but I'm not ready to commit yet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Benjamin The Fifth

I've been running around like mad the past few days and here is the reason why.

This is my beautiful nephew. He was born at 3 am on Monday, October 1. Christy did wonderfully. This was Christy's first baby and he was 9 pounds and 19 inches. She pushed like a champ and held up very well during labor. I had never been to a hospital birth before and don't know how she did it with no drugs. I had no idea she would be so immobilized. She's a trooper.

I'm not really up to big explanations but I'll have some quick remarks. This lasagna is from here It was pretty good and some non-Vegans thought it was good. I like the "Cheesy" lasagna from vegweb better, but this does use cheaper ingredients. The recipe from vegweb also holds up better during reheating.

I saw this Key Lime Teasecake over here... and decided that I had to try it. I couldn't find key limes or their juice and so I used regular bottle lime juice. I also used a store bought graham cracker crust.

The non-Vegans thought that this was good as well. I thought that it was pretty good for a healthy dessert. I kind of feel like I'd rather it be totally bad for me and over the moon on flavor instead of pretty good but better for me. But that's just me. I still recommend you try it out.

Last here is a green's recipe from Nonna's Italian Kitchen. They were pretty good and the kids were ok with them if they had some corn on the same bite of greens. In all honesty, I'm with the kids. I've never cooked greens before and I look forward to getting some more onto our plates.

That's about all. Things might be a little off for a bit longer but I'll do my best.