Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guess What? MoFo Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow starts Vegan MoFo! This will be my second year participating in MoFo. I've been really busy with work, so I have a few pictures to use in my first few posts. Vegan MoFo requires a minimum of 20 posts in the month of October. I usually only post about 12 times per month, so it's a good thing I have a few posts ready to go. I'm going to try to outline some posts today, so I can meet the 20 post requirement. See you all tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Peanutty Perfection Noodles

Tonight, I made the peanutty perfection noodles from Chloe's Kitchen. This recipe calls for brown rice noodles, which I found at Trader Joe's. The ends clumped together during cooking, so I had to break them apart with my fork. Otherwise, pretty good for a gluten-free noodle option. The recipe calls for peanut butter and chili-garlic sauce, but I decided to use the spicy peanut butter I recently received from a friend. This is just a noodle recipe, so I decided to serve this with the Asian tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. Overall, this is a quick dinner and it's pretty tasty. Can't beat that on a work night!
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

It is so nice to have a bolognese sauce that isn't made with fake meat crumbles or lentils. Not hating on lentils, but this sauce provides a lot more flavor than lentils. This sauce makes A LOT, since it's designed to go with one pound of pasta. The recipe is from Chloe's Kitchen. I didn't even realize that I missed the 1/2 cup flour called for in the recipe, but the sauce is so thick already that it doesn't seem really necessary. I decided to make the marinara recipe in the book, instead of using a jarred sauce. The depth of flavor comes from walnuts, red beans, and mushrooms. There's also a little brown sugar and soy milk to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Since I made the sauce, I used a food processor to finely chop the mirepoix. Trader Joe's had mirepoix cut in chunks, but I decided to do the chopping myself since I wasn't sure when I would make this recipe. I know this isn't the best photo, but take my word that this sauce is tasty!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


You know that I HAD to make those Trader Joe's cinnamon rolls right away! Vegan cinnamon rolls are such a treat; they're not super easy to find but always worth it. In fact, my last cinnamon roll was at Cinnaholic in Berkeley, CA. The local Sinfull Bakery had cinnamon rolls at their farmers' market booth, but I bought the potpie instead. When you want to cook breakfast/brunch at home, these TJ's rolls in a tube are a great choice. I popped these in the oven, then sauteed some onion and green pepper with soy chorizo. The soy chorizo is by Helen's Kitchen and I had frozen it a while back. It defrosted overnight and was a great side to the buns. I also had the TJ's coconut yogurt with my brunch. I think the yogurt would be better if it were thicker, maybe I can strain it if I buy it again. I could use this FatFreeVegan post as a guideline.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trader Joe's!

I know so many people who rave about Trader Joe's. Now I can form my own opinion! They just opened a store in Houston. It was a bit chaotic today, but I got most of what I needed and several things I didn't. I didn't get to look into the frozen food sections, because of the crowds, but that was fine with me. I was leaving the store at rush hour, so I was afraid frozen foods might have defrosted in the car. They did not have whole white onions, only pre-diced, or bread that I thought looked good, so I did stop at my regular grocery on the way home. The new Trader Joe's in an old movie theater. They kept the sign, as well as having a painting in the entry way honoring the old theater.
I bought mostly produce (duh, I'm a vegan!), but these are the exciting items. From the top left, there are soy and coconut yogurts, dark chocolate covered mini pretzels, dark chocolate crisps (like a Crunch bar with rice puffs, not a chocolate covered chip, although they did have milk chocolate covered chips!), cookie butter (their version of Speculoos, a spread made from those cookies you get on airplanes), brown rice pasta for a recipe later this week, and cinnamon and crescent rolls in a tube. I was most excited about the cinnamon rolls, since Pillsbury brand are not vegan due to some milk ingredient.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chimichurri Tacos

I'm sure you can already guess that this is a Chloe's Kitchen recipe. I told you that I was going to cook my way through the book this month. :) These are the chimichurri tacos. Chimichurri is a green sauce popular on the west coast. It has lime juice, salt, cumin, cilantro, parsley, agave, and olive oil. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil, but I used just 1/4 cup. I thought it tasted very good and honestly I think you probably skip the oil all together if you wanted. Once you make the sauce, you mix some of it into the black bean and mushroom mixture. I dumped all of the sauce in there, which is why I think you can omit the oil. The olive oil doesn't really add that much flavor compared to the lime juice, salt, and cumin. I also skipped adding salt to the tomato-onion rice, since my vegetable broth already has salt in it. I'd probably use salt-free/low-sodium broth in the future, since the rice seemed a little saltier than I would have expected. Anyways, these were a nice dinner. From cooking the beans myself, I had an extra bit of beans that I used with the last portion of rice and tortillas. Just wish I had enough avocado for 3 meals.
Oh yeah, Trader Joe's is opening its first store in Houston tomorrow! I'll have to check it out this weekend and blog about my finds! I'm looking forward to browsing the store, it's housed in an old movie theater.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Brunch at Radical Eats

Yesterday, the vegan social group had brunch at Radical Eats. It's a hole-in-the-wall type of place, but it has great character. I must say that it was much nicer on the inside yesterday than when I went in April. On Sundays, it's all you can eat brunch for $13, plus $2 for drinks (water, tea, coffee, and some bottled sodas). I had two plates in the hour that I was there. You can see tofu scramble, cornbread, creamed greens, pinto beans, and breakfast potatoes in the first photo. These were the buffet items, as well as fruit. The owner brought mini chocolate pancakes (more like brownies), sizzle cakes, and hatch and poblano chili tamales to the tables. Only the sizzle cake and a piece of the tamale made it into the second photo, we ate the brownie pancakes pretty quickly. I liked the heat in the sizzle cake and tamale. Overall, it was a nice little brunch talking with a lady I've met at other events. She works for the Girl Scouts! We left at the same time when this one guy showed up. He always seems high and reeks of cigarettes. Of course, because I have the worst luck in the world, he keeps trying to flirt with me. I had to tell him that I'm not interested yesterday. Awkward! Why can't I just find a guy with a PhD in a STEM field, who is vegan and not religious, and who doesn't use drugs? Oh yeah, that's like 0.0001% of the population!
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Thursday, September 13, 2012


Finally, a homemade vegan burger that held together really well. These burgers are from Chloe's Kitchen. They contained steamed tempeh, cooked lentils, and walnuts, which are processed in the food processor. I made my lentils in the rice cooker to save time using this forum post as a guideline. These actually held together when I flipped them in the pan, plus running the ingredients through the food processor made that possible. I've made other lentil burgers that ended up being lentil hash on a bun. I wish I had thought about using the food processor on those days. The recipe also has a "special sauce" using silken tofu, fresh dill, pickle relish, ketchup, and mustard. Pretty easy to blend together and serve a little with each burgers. I never liked the sauces at fast food places, but it was a nice change from ketchup. I served these with sweet potato fries and peas (not pictured, they were in the microwave).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things That Make Me Happy

Since today is a dark day in American history, I thought I'd post a few things that are making me smile lately. First up, my nails! I can't remember NOT biting my nails in my entire life. When I moved to Houston two months ago, I decided to recommit to some of my resolutions. I quit biting my nails. They were in ROUGH shape, but are finally looking nice. Yes, spending $60 on a manicure will make you stop biting your nails! At my last manicure, the nail tech clipped my nails back to my the edge of my fingers. My nails were just past the end of my fingers and I kept bumping them into things at work. One even got a tiny crack. This length should be perfect for work.
I ordered some shirts off the internet and a few of them have arrived. The first one is from Herbivore (shirt here) and the second one is from Vegan Cuts (shirt here). They're just so me, don't you think? ;)
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Most of my mail still goes to my post office box in Florida. My mom checks it and sends my mail to me if it's something interesting. She finally sent this shirt to me. It's from the Running For Research organization that my friends started. Check out the site and donate to leukemia research. I made a donation for the last run-a-thon, but receiving this shirt was a complete surprise.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vegan Potluck

Yesterday, I attended a vegan potluck. I brought baked donuts from Chloe's Kitchen. The recipe is designed to make 12 regular-size donuts, but I decided to make mini donuts instead. I was able to get 36 mini donuts, although some didn't have the donut hole after baking. If you're interested, the regular-size and mini donut pans are from Amazon. (I have these Norpro pans, but there are other brands, like Wilton, available.) These were ALL gone at the end of the night! I made the chocolate glaze recipe, which covered 24 of the mini donuts, and a half-recipe of the original glaze recipe for the rest. Since the chocolate glaze calls for chocolate chips, I bought Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips (in the gold bag, if you're a visual person). I noticed recently that they're actually dairy-free, unlike a lot of Ghirardelli's other chocolates. I was pretty happy, because Ghirardelli can be found in a lot more places than Enjoy Life or Chocolate Dream by Sunspire. At the potluck, they have reusable plastic ware, but they recommend that you bring your own servingware. I was able to wrap my silverware up in one of the snapping towels I ordered from Hello Kiddo Handmade. Now, on to the food! I loved the homemade tamales, one of bean dishes (had chickpeas, but they looked darker and smaller than I expected), the mashed sweet potatoes (with ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon), and the chocolate zucchini bread (recipe from Peas and Thank You cookbook, but not featured on the blog). You can see I liked these items so much from the first plate that they ended up on my second plate with desserts. :)
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Black-eyed Peas & Biscuits

Another recipe from Chloe's Kitchen - Southern skillet black-eyed peas and biscuits. I soaked my peas overnight and popped them into my little crockpot. The recipe calls for making the sauce with a can of tomato sauce and some water. I would recommend omitting the water to get a thicker sauce. The biscuit dough can be made in a food processor or by hand. I went with the by-hand method, since my food processor is only 2 cups. For the flour, I used a 50/50 split of whole wheat pastry and all purpose flours. I would recommend adding the non-dairy milk slowly, since I thought the dough was way too sticky to pat out and cut out biscuits. I sprinkled more flour into the dough and decided to make little balls that could be patted into discs. There was no way I was going to dump in enough flour to get a roll that could be patted out easily out of fear of getting rock hard biscuits. They were still quite soft after baking so I was happy with my modification. I've been eating this for the last few days, so I'm looking forward to making something new this weekend.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chloe's Lo Mein

I went to Barnes & Nobles over the holiday weekend. I received an email coupon, so I couldn't resist the chance to buy a new cookbook. I did survey the small selection of vegan cookbooks in this particular store a few times before I finally saw Chloe's Kitchen. I'm so excited to have this book! You'll be seeing a lot of recipes from this book, because I fell in love. The recipes are simple and there are lots of photos. I have a hard time getting excited over cookbooks without photos, because I want to see what I'd be making. Enough with the talk, more food! I made the recipe as is, except that I sauteed cubed tofu before making the dish. The recipe called for bean sprouts, which I bought. Bean sprouts go bad so quickly, so I blanched all the sprouts then took out what I needed for this recipe. The rest of the sprouts were portioned out and frozen. I got this idea from the internet, so I can use the frozen sprouts in future stir-fry recipes.
OK, back to supervising the kitties. They had dental cleanings and tooth extractions today, so I left work after lunch to pick them up from the vet. Sadly, one of the kitties peed in the crate on the way home. I felt so guilty for waiting until after lunch to pick them up. :( I also had to resist adopting an abandoned Sphynx that was super affectionate. He was just dying to get some playtime and attention.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Breakfast Bowl

I decided to soak the cashews that I mentioned in my last post. I was planning to make the hearty breakfast bowl from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetite, which has a cheesy gravy as part of the recipe. I blended all of the sauce components and then heated it on the stove. I don't think I used enough cashews to get the sauce as thick as it was meant to be. Oh well. The recipe calls for finely ground cashews, but I soaked that volume of cashews. Probably not enough cashews... I used the sauce yesterday, but omitted it today. It was a little salty and thin, meh. My modified breakfast bowl today consisted of the original components of tofu scramble (omitting the black salt again), tater tots, and seitan bacon, but I used avocado to add a creamy element to the dish. The seitan bacon recipe is in the book also, but I should note that I had to add more vital wheat gluten to get a dough that would (imperfectly) roll out. I think the ratio of TVP to broth used in the bacon is off (1 cup to 1 cup, whereas other recipes I've seen call for 1 cup TVP to 7/8 cup liquid), adding more moisture to the dough than it needed. I broke my dough into two pieces that I could fit in my small (2 cup) food processor. I need to get a larger food processor with a dough button. *sigh* I really enjoyed the different components of today's bowl, usually poking two different things with the fork at the same time (tots/bacon and scramble/avocado).