Sunday, May 28, 2006

Roasted Couscous and Cranberry Salad

For a holiday cookout this past weekend, I decided to whip up a couscous salad of my own invention. Roasty stuff sounded good and fitting, so this was the end result:

1 box of plain couscous
1 bunch of asparagus
1 roasted red pepper
1-1.5 cups of toasted walnuts
A couple fistfuls of dried cranberries
Some homemade Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Make the salad dressing the night before so that the flavors have a time to do their little copulative thang overnight. Whip up a batch of couscous according to the directions on the box or the bag. In the meantime, roast the asparagus for a few minutes in your broiler, with a little bit of olive oil. You can probably get away with roasting the red pepper at the same time, you'll probably just need to remove the asparagus before the red pepper. Post-roasting, dice up the red pepper into small pieces and cut up the asparagus into small chunks as well. Toss both over the couscous and mix. Crumble up your walnuts a little bit and then toast them. Toss those babies into the mix along with your dried cranberries and mix. Add the roasted red pepper dressing to taste and refrigerate for a couple hours to again let the flavors tango. Serve at room temperature.

A very nice mix of rich roasty flavor coupled with a sweetness from the cranberries will make your insides wanna make sweet sweet love to you. If insides could do that.

Makes enough to take to a picnic--about 4-10 servings, depending on how big of pigs folks are.

*Tip: Always roast your nuts. *Stifled giggle* It makes them a lot bigger *snicker* in flavor and brings out an even nicer, richer fullness on your tastebuds. Read some directions on how to toast 'em.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Steph's Sockarooni Pasta

I make this recipe all the time--an amazing fiddle player ex-girlfriend of a friend of mine (follow THAT connection) made it for a bunch of us once when we were lounging at another friend's commune one night. (How hippie is that?)

While over my friend D's on Saturday night, several of us trekked out to the grocery store to figure out something to cook, and I recommended we whip up a large batch for dinner since D'd never had it before.

Anyways, it's so fricking easy to make, it feeds a buttload of people, and it's really damn hearty.

So here's her recipe--I'm sure she won't mind me sharing (Steph, you rock):


2 jars of Paul Newmann's Sockarooni pasta sauce
2 packages of frozen spinach
1 package of firm tofu
2 small cans of black beans (drained)

Cook up some vegan pasta of your choice. Set aside. Cook up the spinach until it's at least unthawed. Drain as much excess water out of it as you can. Dump all the aforementioned ingredients into a large pot and cook until hot (crumble up the tofu as you add it). Serve over pasta (or really, you can just eat it on its own--it's THAT thick).

Serves a buttload--I'd say anywhere from 6-8.

Tofu and Pesto-Mayo Sammich

Ok. So back a few months ago (four or five now, at this point) when I was still eating vegetarian (and not yet vegan), my absolute favorite sandwich used to be this sammich at my local sammich shop La Bodega that had fresh basil, tomatoes, a hunking slice of boccini, and pesto mayo, all on a couple large slabs of ciabatta. I was a bit sad when this occasional luncheon treat came to an end. There is little I like more on a sammich than fresh basil and ripe tomato.


This Saturday it dawned on me that maybe I could figure out some sort of alternative to satisfy this occasional craving. I had made and frozen some extra pesto (since I overbought basil on Friday) and I had a brand new jar of Veganaise in my fridge, so the gears in my brain started whirring. I nabbed some fresh rosemary bread that I had bought for Friday's dinner and sliced it up. I then topped it with some fresh basil leaves, some sliced roma tomatoes, and I mixed together some pesto and Veganaise and smeared it all oopy goopy on the other slice of bread. I then sliced up a leftover chunk of tofu into a couple thin slices and fried it up. Still piping hot, I slipped the tofu onto the sammich and chowed down while it was still steaming away.

Of course tofu doesn't have the same flavor as boccini, but it DOES have a remarkably similar consistency.

So Sunday, I tried again for both E and me. This time, I fried the tofu up in a tiny bit of olive oil and some rosemary. Much more flavorful though still not exactly like boccini, of course. But gorged on remarkably nummy pesto-mayo, I couldn't complain. Next time, I may try frying it up in a bit of lemon juice with rosemary and see how that goes. I also recommend pressing it because I'm certain it will fry up much better that way (I was just too hungry and lazy to do so on the weekend).

Any which way, this is a good sammich, and now I have a much lower-fat way to satisfy that La Bodega fix.

Sidenote: I have heretofore eliminated the VERDICTS section, mostly because it makes me sound like I'm tooting my own horn (which in turn sounds like a suspicious euphimism for, um, doing things to yourself that will make you get hairy palms). I will offer up suggestions, but no more ratings.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mocha Vegan-Mousse Pie

I was gonna do a re-run of my Orange You Glad They're Double-Chocolate Cookies for my mom this weekend as well but then decided to hold off and save those for a cookout instead on Sunday (that way my sibs could try them as well). So instead, I decided to whip up a vegan-mousse pie.

Mishaps ensued when I realized that my Mori-Nu tofu had an expiration date of 04/08/2006, so I ran it back up to the market to exchange it. The woman only had expired tofu but told me that Mori-Nu is so very vacuum-sealed that it lasts months and months after its expiration date. I was doubtful at first and explained to her that I'd prefer not to kill my mom on her mother's day celebration and/or give her food-poisoning, but the woman just looked at me and said, "Do you think I'd tell you to eat it if I thought it would make you sick, seeing as I *want* you coming back as a customer?" The logic made sense. Plus, she gave me the tofu for a $1. So I took it. I am a cheap whore.

Anyways, we lived through the weekend, you will be happy to know.


1 cube of Mori-Nu firm silken tofu
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. brewed coffee
1 T. maple syrup
1 graham cracker crust*

Throw the tofu into a food processer and blend. Melt your chocolate chips whatever way you see fit (I just do it in a pot on the stove--you don't need double-boilers and all that as long as you continuously stir and keep your eye on it), and brew your coffee. Throw the melted chocolate, coffee, and maple syrup into the food processer and pulse until fully mixed. The mixture will seem soupy at first, but it stiffens up in the fridge. Toss the tofu mixture into your pie crust and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.

My mom a) hates tofu and b) loves chocolate mousse, and she ate two slices of this and remarked that you'd never guess it was tofu. So high-marks on the faking-it front.

I was pleased with the taste as well, seeing as I wolfed all of the left-over pie down in just two days.

VERDICT: A for filling; C for crust

Oh yeah, and I decorated it with toasted almonds, in case you were wondering what the hell was going on. Perty perty.

*I used the graham cracker crust from The Garden of Vegan, but it was disastrously mushy, despite the fact that I used the low-range of liquid ingredients listed in the recipe--I ended up having to add more and more graham crackers and it STILL never solidified quite the way it should've been. Your best bet is just grinding up a couple cups of graham crackers and then gradually adding a bit of margarine or oil to it until it's *JUST* damp enough to stick together. I also recommend adding a bit of almond extract to the mixture for a bit of flare.

Pesto Stuffed Shells and Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Sauce

I cooked way too much this weekend--enough not to be able to post about it all in one day. So expect recipes all week long--yip yip.

* * * * * * * *

I cooked for my mom finally this weekend--a belated mother's day present (the delay was not due to slackerism on my part but moreso a long story involving arrest and whatnot). Anyways, I settled on Pesto Stuffed-Shells weeks ago and finally got around to making them (which was a good thing because you can now get boatloads of basil at the market for dirt cheap).

Early in the day, I diced up about 6-8 roma tomatoes and put them in a plastic container along with a few tablespoons worth of minced basil and two cloves of chopped garlic. I then drizzled a bit of olive oil over everything, gave it a stir, and let it sit out all afternoon marinating.

As dinner-time rolled around, I whipped up a batch of the pesto from Vegan with a Vengeance (using only half the amount of oil in the recipe though--some days I prefer a not-so-greasy pesto) and after doing so, I stuffed the cooked shells with a tofu ricotta (recipe here), substituting in cooked and drained spinach in place of the basil. I threw the shells into the oven at 350, after having drizzled a bit of the excess tomato-olive oil juices from the diced tomato-mixture over the top of them and let them get warm (about 15 minutes).

To serve, I spread out a bit of the uncooked tomato-mixture on a plate. I then set the shells out on top of it and crowned each shell with a nice, generous dollop of creamy pesto.

I was pleased with how these came out--they offered up a strange and wonderful mingling of flavors *AND* temperatures. The tomatoes added a nice bit of cool sweetness to the recipe while the pesto added a luxurious decadence. All in all, it ended up being a very good concoction. The only thing I need to play with is heating up the shells--the shells dry out a bit in the oven, so I need to figure out a way to keep them moist somehow (while still keeping the raw tomato mixture cold).


On the side, I whipped up a batch of roasted garlic using Fat Free Vegan's recipe from a couple weeks ago. Instead of steaming the asparagus, I topped it with the garlic-walnut mixture and tossed it in the broiler for a few. For some reason, the actual sauce came out a bit thicker than it did for FFV, but it still was damn good and we both scarfed it all down with nary a complaint.



Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Recipes for Your Face

Please note: I take no responsibility for home-remedies gone wrong--different types of skin can obviously react differently to the very same treatment. Always be sure to do a skin-test before following skin-care home-remedies, that way your face doesn't melt off or mutate into that of a gorilla's or something. (Though the latter one would be kinda cool, now that I think about it.)

What can I say--I'm cheap. I hate spending $15 on something that I smudge onto my face once or twice a day just to degunkify it, and none of it ever seems to help out much anyways. It either dries my skin out or it leaves it looking shiny and greasy. And I break out regardless. So I've been roaming around and researching a little about home skin-care recipes, and I've discovered a few that seem to work so far. AND THEY'RE CHEAP! So I can spend more money on cooking shit to post here! Woot woot. Anywho...

When I feel the need to exfoliate and sluff off that scaly outer-coating of facial skin, I like to just use a bit of vegan sugar mixed with water and rub it gently over my skin. It's rather abrasive, so BE GENTLE WITH IT, but it feels damn good as well. Just pour some into the palm of your hand, wet it a bit (but not too much that it dissolves), and then apply gently in circles to your face. Your face will be bright and invigorated when you're all done.

Garlic is good for acne, as it has astringent properties. Mash up a clove of garlic with a fork, and then apply the mushy paste to any zits you might have. Leave it on for a bit while you {subliminal message} bake me some cookies {/subliminal message}, and then remove with a warm washcloth. Be forewarned, this remedy is stank-ass, but it does seem to dry up pimples and it's supposedly good for clearing up the skin without leaving scars.

Read more:

  • Benefits of Garlic

  • Acne Remedies

  • Also, a combo of 50% apple-cider vinegar and 50% water applied to the skin 1-2 times daily is supposed to be wonderful for your skin. I've been using it, and right after use, my face is baby-fricking-soft and smooth-looking. I just dip a cottonball in a bit of the vinegar and then run some water on it, rub it gently all over my face, and then let it air dry. As mentioned, I have temperamental (as folks in the "skin care industry" call it: combination) skin, and all the daily cleansers I use either dry it the hell out or leave it shiny and greasy. But apparently apple-cider vinegar regulates your skin's pH balance without stripping it of its essential oils--and I can verify that it most certainly hasn't left my skin dried out at all thus far. Again, be forewarned: you will stink like vinegar upon application, but have no fear--once it dries, the scent will go away.

    Read more:

  • Beautiful Skin Tip: Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Apple Cider Vinegar Cures

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Again, I remind you that everyone's skin is different. So if you're, say, a tyrannosaurus rex, an apple-cider vinegar rinse may not do jack shit for that scaly-assed sandpaper you call a "face." Or if you're, say, a moth, it may just make you disintegrate. So be smart and test these out before using them.

    (Please don't sue me.)

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Spicy Almond-Pear Muffins


    2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
    1 c. wheat flour
    1/4 c. flax meal
    1/2 t. salt
    6 t. baking powder
    1 c. vegan sugar
    egg replacer for 4 eggs
    1/2 c. canola oil
    1.5 c. sour soy milk (soy milk + 2 t. vinegar)
    2 sm. pears (peeled and shredded)
    toasted almonds (about 1/4-1/3 c. or so)

    For cinnamony topping:
    4 T. sugar
    1/4 t. nutmeg
    1/2 t. cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients together (you may wanna add a little bit shy of the 1/5 c. sour milk if you have particularly ripe and juicy pears--which I did). Line a muffin pan with cupcake cups. Spray with nonstick-spray. Throw some batter into each cup, about 3/4 full or so. After all the cups are full, sprinkle some of the cinnamony topping on each one. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes (or until you poke with a fork and it comes out clean).

    Makes about 18 muffins.

    Originally, I used 1 t. salt (the recipe I modified it from called for this amount), but they came out a bit salty for my taste--I suspect either the almonds add a bit more saltiness to the batter or the recipe (that I very loosely based this muffin recipe on) intended Sea Salt to be used without specifying it (this is coming to be a bit of a pet peeve of mine). So I've adjusted that here. Also, the nutmeg is a bit spicy and overpowering, so I've cut down on the quantity here as well.

    Overall, these muffins weren't bad. They're not obnoxiously sweet, but they have a bit of subtle flavoring and a good crunch to them. The consistency came out perfect on them (which with my temperamental stove is always a bit of a feat), so I was definitely pleased on that front. And the batter itself is tasty as all get-out--I had the worst stomach-ache all night because I kept chowing down on it while baking, only to realize that, given the massive amount of baking powder in the recipe, it was making my stomach bloat and making me wanna walk around letting out huge Barney-esque belches all night. And given that I only burp about twice a year, I was worried at some point I would explode.

    VERDICT: A-/B+

    Nannery-Almond French Toast

    Having seen a recipe for some tasty-looking nutty french toast in the current issue of VegNews, I decided to experiment with some as well Sunday morning. I have no specific measurements, but to make the batter, I used the following:

    Soy milk
    1 banana

    I pulsed the blanched almond slivers in my food processer until they were pulverized into a sort of powder. Then I added in the banana. Once that was a pasty mushy gook, I added in a tiny bit of vanilla and gradually started adding in soy milk until it got to a consistency I liked.

    The batter was a bit of a pain to deal with upon frying--the first batch I suspect was a bit too thick and, since it was more pancake-batterish than soupy, it was not sticking to the bread but peeling off when it hit the hot hot heat. So I kept adding soy milk until finally (on the last batch) it was doing a bit better.

    I tend to make french toast with hearty grain breads (because I like them to be a bit more nutty and rich-tasting) but in the future, I'ma try a simple french bread of some sort--sometimes the heartiness of the grain bread overpowers the flavor of the batter on these things.

    Despite all that, I really quite liked the results--the french toast was very almondy and banana-ish, and I thought it was very flavorful and yummy (though perhaps a bit too soggy). My feller seemed to like them too, though he did comment about how "it's difficult to duplicate the taste of eggs in a non-egg french toast." True, but nanners ain't EVER gonna duplicate eggs anyways, so only aim to make these if you're a big fan of nannery-goodness.


    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Polenta-Pie with Hot Black Beans and Sweet Plums

    I'd been wanting to try this polena-pie-ish recipe from Vegan World Fusion Cuisine and finally got around to it on Saturday night. Basically, it's a casserole of sorts using black rice as a crust (which is a fantastically plummish purple color--so pretty) and polenta as a filling. I wanted to spice it up a little as well, so I added some broiled asparagus and sundried tomatoes to the filling as well.

    I've never made polenta before so I was a bit worried, especially when I realized that the recipe itself wasn't very explanatory in that department--it never stated how long you should cook the polenta for or whether you just mix it all together, pop it into the casserole, and then throw it in the oven. Traditionally, I've read that polenta is something that takes about 30 minutes to cook, with continuous stirring. But this recipe never clarified, so I just followed the directions as is and threw all the polenta ingredients together and then into the rice-lined casserole without cooking the polenta for 30 minutes.

    I've only ever *eaten* polenta once before as well, so I was kind of at a loss as to whether it was a *decent* polenta that I'd made, but regardless, I was not impressed with the polenta-part of the recipe. It was incredibly incredibly bland, despite the addition of the asparagus. Thankfully I'd made a roasted red-pepper, sundried tomato, soy milky sauce for the top, so this added a bit of depth and flavor (along with some toasted pine nuts), otherwise I suspect it would've been a major flop. If anyone has tips or suggestions about polenta or what might spice this recipe up, feel free to leave them here. For leftovers last night, I just topped it with a spicy hot sauce and it was a bit more flavorful, so I suspect it's all about the "sauce" or "topping" in this one though--and I'd recommend (if I ever experiment with this again) making or buying some sort of mango-ish salsa or a black bean salsa of some sort and scooping that on top. It might add enough kick and flavor to make this a successful dish.


    On the side, I made this Hot Black Beans and Sweet Plums recipe that I'd also had my eye on for awhile as well.

    This was much more successful--my feller kept talking about how he'd had his doubts (black beans and plums?!?, he kept saying) but we both cowed this down like it was the last food on earth (until I bit into a piece of clove and had to stop due to major gross-out factor). This is a very flavorful recipe, and the plums add a surprising sweetness to the mix. I might add a little bit more black beans the next time I make it, but my feller said it was the perfect amount as is.

    RECIPE: Here (under "Sides"--no direct link)

    VERDICT: B+/A- (damn clove!)

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    V8 Vegan Entrees

    For those nights where you just ain't got that cooking itch (or the time to scratch it), I recommend the Campbell's V8 Entrees. My friend D nabbed me a couple of these at the Pepperidge Farm outlet store and, although I'm not usually a fan of the whole meal-in-a-tv-dinner-tray deal, they rock.

    They're clearly marked if they're vegan (and the website states whether they are or not, and lists the ingredients as well). They were only $4 (!!) when he picked them up for me--I'd imagine the price'll vary, depending on where you track them down. And they feed a small army (and for cheap!). That's my favorite part. There's about 9-10 servings per "entree," so if you make one on a Sunday, say, you'll be hooked up with lunch the whole rest of the week.

    They's good stuff, peoples. Check them out.

    My favs:

    The Garden Vegetable Pot Pie

    The Tamale Pie

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    You Will Eat Your Bacteria Pancakes *AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM!*

    Random, perhaps (but a little bit of randomness never hurt anyone*):

    Brown spots on bananas literally make me feel queasy if I have to stare at them while working my way down a banana. (So typically I avert my eyes.)

    This is the same reason I cannot consume pb&j sandwiches in which the jelly has soaked through the bread and left a bruise.

    Also, I realized the other day that I have been baking with wheat flour that expired BACK IN 2004. I am not quite sure whether to be horrified or amused, seeing as 1) I didn't even realize that the damn flour has been around long enough to have survived an actual change of residence and 2) everything has tasted perfectly fine over the past couple of years (*trying to avoid mentally picturing some weird strain of flour bacteria that is slowly consuming my internal organs*).

    *Except for that one time it went on that shooting spree, but that was an isolated event. The media just over-publicized it (LIKE THEY DO WITH EVERYTHING, GODDAMN THEM) and then left the public all afraid of randomnesses and stuff when, really, that kinda dark-sided randomness only happens like 1 in 1,000,000 times. *Breathing heavily* Carry on.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Speedy Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Cornmeal Chips

    Yesterday, inspired by the Shiny Happy Hummus recipe over at Fat-Free Vegan and struck by the notion of an oil-free hummus (which pleased me since I like my hummus thick and chunky anyways) and upon receiving an email recipe from my friend D for a Turbo Hummus that also sounded quite good, I decided to try whipping up something of my own (with some homemade cornmeal chips to dip).

    This is the fastest recipe I've made in a while. It was so fast I almost wet myself. But I didn't. But then I almost did again when I got giddy at the fact that I got it all done in the amount of time it took for my laundry to swish its way through the wash-cycle. But then I didn't. And then I stopped for a moment and thought perhaps all the near-accidents might be a result of a bladder-infection and not just excitement and that perhaps I should go see my doctor. But then I didn't. Instead I just went and used the potty.


    1 small can (10.5 oz or so) of chickpeas (drained, liquid reserved)
    1 small roasted red pepper
    3 cloves of roasted garlic
    1 t. natural peanut butter
    Dried basil
    Cayenne pepper

    Place chickpeas and garlic into a food processor. Pulse until it's a bit too dry and trying to escape the blades. Toss in your peanut butter and gradually add half of your reserved chickpea liquid. Continue to pulse until creamy. Add Dried basil, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Slice up your red pepper and add about half to the mix. Pulse until it's blended well enough (but with a few tiny chunks still floating around). Add to taste (I only added about 1/2 the red pepper. Voila. Oil-free hummus.

    While my cats wrestled inside my heater-box, I whipped up the cornmeal chips...

    Cornmeal Chips Recipe: HERE (by the way, this recipe only yields about 20 of these chips, despite alleging it makes 30)

    Apparently this was an aphasia-recipe for me, because I kept f-ing everything up: I grabbed the wrong measuring cup when adding the cornmeal into the water and had to wing it (after trying to quickly do mathematical conversions and figure out how much more needed to be added if the recipe called for 2/3 cup and I had accidentally added 1/2 and if Sue was on a train coming from Phillie that left at 5 pm and Roger was headed from Brooklyn on a train that left at 2pm what time they would meet up and how much cornmeal would they tell me to put in the goddamn rest of the recipe--and then giving up and remembering that I no like math). Then I somehow decided the recipe called for the oven temperature to be at 350 rather than 375 and couldn't quite figure out why they were taking so goddamn long to bake. I only realized this retrospectively.

    Anyways, all in all, making everything in both of these recipes took me about 40 minutes. And I think I even managed to do the dishes before the timer went off for my laundry. So this is a nice, simple recipe if you wanna whip up something last minute for visitors, say. The chips did not come out as chiply as I had hoped, but I think this was probably because of my oven-temperature aphasia--they still taste pretty good but some are a bit moist and chewy in the middle. But hey, they're homemade. And the hummus is nice and roasted red peppery and doesn't give you that greasy-slick feeling that oily hummuses do. I still think it needs something more to give it a bit more oomph, but we'll see how it is at lunch today and whether the flavors have mingled and danced and screwed into one big copulative pleasure-overload of flavorfulness last night. Will keep you posted...

    UPDATE: Chips have gotten chewy overnight. They are incredibly flavorful, but they have the chewy consistency of jerky. Meh!

    VERDICT: Hummus--B, Chips--B

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Orange You Glad They're Double Chocolate Cookies?

    So I never quite know the etiquette of reposting recipes here, but to be kind to those who take the time to make us recipe-books (and to steer clear from being sued), I typically don't repost book-recipes here (unless I'm able to find them on-line somewhere). That being said, today's cookie-recipe was inspired by the Chocolate Thumbprint Cookie recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance but is far enough removed from its original form that I feel alright publishing it here. (If anyone objects--bring it! We will have a full-on cookie war.)

    That being said, MOTHER OF GOD did these cookies come out tasty. Squishy and decadently chocolatey with a powerful hint of orange akin to those Flintstones push-up popsicles from my youth.

    And as raw-dough consumption goes, this shit is MANNA.


    1 c. flour
    1/3 c. cocoa
    1/4 t. baking soda
    1/4 t. salt

    2/3 c. sugar
    1/3 c. soy milk
    1/3 c. canola oil
    1 t. vanilla
    1/2 t. almond extract
    2 t. orange zest

    1/4-1/3 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips


    Preheat oven at 350. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the wet to the dry and mix until fully combined. And the chocolate chips.

    On a cookie sheet covered in wax/parchment paper, scoop out heaping tablespoon-sized amounts of dough. This dough is very very sticky, so you will probably have to wet your hands before handling it until they start to gum up and then rewet again, etc. Take the tablespoon-sized dough-goop and smoosh it between your hands until slightly flattened. Place on sheet.

    After you've filled the cookie sheet (they expand, so not too close to one another), toss into the oven for 11 minutes.

    Once you've taken them out, top with orange-peel for decoration if you so choose. Let sit in the pan for a few minutes and then, leaving cookies on the wax paper, remove to a rack. Let cool all the way before handling them, as they will be super-soft.

    Said one satisfied consumer: "not that i want to compliment you. but your smooshy cookie was actually good."

    The End.


    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Gone Bananas Pancakes

    Sunday morning, it was all about the pancakes again. Given that I'd nabbed like 1500 bananas at work on Thursday (apparently anything involving vast amounts of fat goes like hotcakes at work, but healthy food sits around for days), I decided to try out the Gone Bananas Pancakes recipe from Vegan Family Favorites. Basically, it is a fairly standard pancakes recipe, except that you slice up bananas into 1/2 inch slices and, after you throw the batter for a pancake on top of the griddle, you cover the exposed pancake batter with a ton of these banana slices.

    For banana-lovers, this recipe is for you. However, I do give words of warning: no matter how hard you try and how well-cooked your pancakes are with this recipe, they will inevitably *seem* doughy--the bananas add moisture to the surrounding pancakes (and are a bit mushy themselves), so the pancakes themselves will unavoidably end up seeming a bit mushy. Also, the heaviness of the banana-coated side makes the pancakes kind of difficult to flip without bananas ending up falling out of the pancake and onto your goddamn kitchen floor.

    Overall though, I kinda liked this recipe. The actual pancake recipe itself was nice and hearty tasting (yet again). And I threw some chocolate chips into the last batch, and the chocolate banana combination was most certainly yum. I'd just recommend cutting your banana slices as thin as possible--aim for 1/4 inch or something like that.

    Verdict: B+

    Recipe: HERE (you can also substitute out 2 T. of the white flour and substitute in 2 T. of flax meal instead, like I did, if you so choose)

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Pizza Stuffs

    This Friday, since I was flying solo (long story involving arrests, bombed Mother's Day plans, dogs in tu-tus--ok, not the last one, but the rest), I decided to whip up some pizza.

    I used a corn meal crust recipe from Vegetarian Kitchen--their standard crust recipe is typically my crust of choice but I wanted to try something different this time. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the dough didn't rise like it should've, making it way too cardboardy and flat upon baking. It also was one of the most flavorless crusts I've had (barring the time that I forgot to put salt in the crust, which was a virtual disaster of blandness).

    Nonetheless, I forged on. I made some homemade pizza sauce and organized my toppings. Making a pizza is fairly easy, so to challenge myself, I decide to make a half-and-halfer. On one half, I went with spinach, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and the melty white cheese recipe (you can find it HERE) from The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook. On the other side, I tossed on crumbled tofu, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, and toasted pine nuts (later topping it off with a bit of creamy, dreamy avocado).

    I was not at all bowled over by the spinach side. It was bland and boring and could've used much improvement. Despite the dull crust, the roasted red pepper side was *much* better than the other. I definitely would try this topping out again, perhaps tossing in a bit of jalapeno peppers or something for a little kick.

    All in all...


    (And apparently I've forgotten to bring the pictures. Will post tomorrow.)

    (PSS. If anyone has any pizza-sauce recipes they recommend, please post them in my comments section if you don't mind sharing--I could definitely use a more consistently dependable recipe...)

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Do It the Way Monkeys Do It (Minus the Poop-Flinging Part)

    Next time you eat a nanner,

    (This is a picture of a nanner)

    instead of being a stupid human, peel it like the monkeys do--it's ten times easier.

    How to do so?

    Instead of reaching for the supposed "nanner pull-tab" (aka. the long stalky-ended thing that everyone always wrestles with when disrobing their nanner), flip your nanner upside down. Then pinch the very tip of the base until it pops open. Then peel.

    *Voila*--Nekkid Nanner!

    Once you try it out, you'll realize how much easier this is and what stupid stupid humans we are.

    Amaze your family! Wow your friends! Maybe even catch the eye of that cute little redhead that sits in the corner of the cafeteria every day--you know, the one you're always checking out but pretending not to? Yeah, that one! I've seen it happen--peeling nanners this way is guaranteed to get phone numbers. And... dare I say it? It may even get you laid!

    You think I kid, but just you wait.

    You'll be the most popularest kid in school.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Topless Tofu-Salad Sammich

    Click HERE for more topless pictures

    Everything always looks better in a slight state of disrobement (except for old men in thongs), so I give you the Topless Tofu-Salad Sammich. As I've said before, I usually don't post about lunch-stuff, mostly because I'm usually lazy and just jam a hotdog or pbj in a sack with a piece of fruit and drag it in. But the other night I felt a bit more inspired, so I whipped up this sammich.

    I have no exact measurements--it's kind of a "to-your-taste" kinda thing. But here's the ingredients anyways.


    About 1/4 block of extra-firm tofu
    About a handful's worth of diced up celery
    A couple of tablespoons of Vegenaise (or some other vegan mayo)
    Some dried basil
    Some salt (but don't accidentally spill a bunch in there while refilling your salt shaker like I did or you'll end up dehydrated all afternoon)
    A handful of walnuts
    A couple slices of hearty grain bread


    Smoosh up the tofu in a bowl with a fork. Then add the Vegenaise and mix around. Then toss in the celery and basil, and swirl again. And then finally, take those walnuts and crumble them up between your palms and sprinkle the small bits and pieces in, and mix one last time. (The walnuts add a nice crunch.) Throw it all on a slice or two of hearty grain bread (I used a 7-grainer from the WSM)--you can leave it open-faced like I did if you wanna enjoy the flavors more, but just make sure the whole thing doesn't end up in your lap. Though it *IS* a topless sammich. So perhaps an afternoon rendezvous in your lap wouldn't be TOO terrible.


    COMMENTS: A vegan friend who taste-tested said, "i remember having tofu salad at tommy's [a local veggie restaurant] once. i think i like yours better, though"--yip yip!

    Nutritional Yeast: Why You Should Marry It and Have 2.5 Children

    This weird little powder:
    • is chock full of protein;

    • is a mega-fricking good source of Vitamin B12 (which is helpful for vegans);

    • is chock full of fiber;

    • will not lose the remote somewhere in the couch cushions;

    • doesn't leave long hairs all jammed and soapy in the drain of the shower;

    • helps aid digestion and absorption;

    • doesn't interrupt you while you're in the middle of a really good book;

    • doesn't adjust itself in public.

    Read more about nutritional yeast HERE, HERE, and HERE.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Vegan French Toast with Strawberries

    On Friday, I bought some bread and strawberries at the WSM to whip up some french toast for my sleep-over buddy Sunday morning, but alas, she was trying to avoid yeast this weekend, so I ended up having to feast alone.

    I've long wanted to attempt making vegan french toast, but I hate that almost every recipe calls for tofu. NOT EVERYONE HAS TOFU HANDY ALL THE TIME, PEOPLES! So I was joyous when I stumbled across a vegan french toast recipe that was tofu-free and instead relied on nutritional yeast for its oomph. I was a bit suspicious that it might taste weirdly cheesy, given the nutritional yeast, but it didn't really--instead, it just added a bit of salty flavorfulness to the fairly-simple recipe.

    I used a loaf of fresh 7-grain bread from the WSM to grill this shit up, and it was quite good. Initially, I thought it might end up a bit soggy since the recipe's heavy on the milk (and the bread is heavy on the sponginess), but I cooked it long enough that it was crunchy on the outside and not-too-gooey on the inside.

    For the topping, I just blended up a bunch of fresh strawberries with my handheld blender-thingie.

    When I realized this was not sweet enough to satisfy my mammoth sweet-tooth, I just poured a bit of sugar on top and mmmm mmm mm was it tasty.

    I can't 100% verify how much the vegan french toast tasted like regular french toast, simply because I tend to douse things like pancakes and french toast with as much toppings as humanly possible, but from what I could tell, it was a very tasty variation on a standard family breakfast. Plus, it's damn simply, so I'd definitely recommend trying it out sometime.

    RECIPE: Here


    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Peanut-Butter Chocolate Cake

    I had folks over my place this weekend, so I thought: what better excuse do I have to bake a cake?

    I also had a jar of Veganaise that I was worried I wouldn't get through before it went bad. So when I stumbled across a recipe for chocolate cake that called for using Veganaise (from Vegan Family Favorites), I knew it was the one I'd be toying with Saturday afternoon.

    The recipe is a fairly-rich one for chocolate cake with spatterings of semi-sweet chocolate chips strewn throughout. The cake came out a bit too crumbly for me (which made it a little difficult to frost and to serve) but nice and moist. Upon having a bit of mishap with the cooling process (I pulled off part of the top of one of the cakes after cooling it on a plate), I realized that there are a few staples that I really need to suck it up and buy already: 1) cooling racks and 2) a second cake pan.

    For the frosting, I decided to go with a recipe for Chocolate Ganache frosting from The Candle Cafe Cookbook (mainly just because it was the only frosting recipe for which I actually had all the ingredients handy). Holy mother of god, is this a good frosting. I think it's gonna be my stand-by when it comes to frosting chocolate cakes. It calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, a bit of maple syrup, some soy milk, and a tad bit of coffee (though I may be forgetting something) and it is decadently sweet, amazingly thick, and orgasmically rich.

    Because I didn't wanna use up all my chocolate chips for the frosting (and because based on past experiences, I've noticed that everyone seems to give frosting recipes that make enough to frost a small foreign country), I decided to make only a 1/4 of the recipe and instead frost the center and the outer rim of the cake with my own peanut-butter frosting recipe (a concoction of homemade powdered sugar, natural peanut butter, and soy milk). My frosting was a bit runny on the outside rim, only because I was impatient and didn't let it sit in the fridge (the frosting I used for the center *did* sit in the fridge long enough), but I still thought it tasted quite good.

    All in all, it was a good recipe and a good baking experience. The cake itself seemed like it was missing a little bit of something, some indefinable oomph in the form perhaps of sweetness or decadence or chocolatey-goodness, but what was lacking in that was definitely made up for in the frosting.


    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Baking Tips (Or "How to Avoid Unleashing the Wrath of Balloon Chef")

    Vegan baking is *not* an impossibility, but at times it can be a bit of a challenge. (Damn you, eggs!) For that reason, here be some baking tips, both vegan-specific and not.

    So put them in your pipe and smoke it. Otherwise the wrath of Balloon Chef shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger!

    Bake! Bake in fear!



    • Great Good Desserts Naturally: The author apparently was (is?) a pastry chef, and about 1/3 of the book is dedicated to very specific and detailed tips on everything from what different types of flour are good for what different types of baking to discussion of substitutions in recipes to conversation about how to make those damn vegan pastries *fluffy* without eggs. Pretty much anything you might think of asking with regard to baking is answered here and in precise detail. If you're into baking, this is a definite must-have.

    • Vegan Family Favorites: Although the content of this book does not deal strictly with baking-only, it does offer up some useful tips and tidbits on baking and substitutions in its intro.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Nut Cookies

    Yeah, so the baking-ban was short-lived, though only out of necessity really--it's another coworker's b-day today, and she always makes sure to bring me in a little sumthin'-sumthin' on my b-day (that sounds way dirtier than I'd intended--or even would ever WANT it--to be), and since she loves when I bring in bakery, I figured I'd whip her up some cookies. Thankfully the break in the baking-boycott was a successful one, otherwise I might've seriously become bitter against all things egg-replacer and vanilla extract.

    I am cheap and didn't feel like running out to the grocery store and buying vegan baking "butter" (it's fricking $3.49 at my grocery store), so I managed to track down *this* recipe, which made me happy since I had nearly all of the ingredients at home already.

    These are a cinch to make, and as one of the reviewers on the recipe page stated, they have quite a bit of "fluff" to them, which is for the most part a-typical when it comes to vegan cookies. They are subtly sweet and both crunchy (walnuts) and chewy (glorious glorious cookie dough), and I had to exert some MAJOR self-control yesterday to not consume the majority of them and leave my coworker with a measly two cookies sitting lonesomely in a dish. I recommend.

    RECIPE: Here


    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Muy Caliente! Weird and Random Tidbits About Cayenne Pepper

    Did you know that:
      1. A teaspoon of cayenne pepper has actually stopped a heart attack?

      2. Cayenne pepper increases the effectiveness of any herbs taken with it and also speeds up the absorption and effectiveness of these herbs as well?

      3. Cayenne pepper clears congestion?

      4. Cayenne pepper reduces the risk of stomach ulcers?

      5. Cayenne pepper actually helps you burn calories?

      6. Cayenne pepper reduces blood cholesterol and has been shown to lower the rate of heart attacks and stroke within cultures that regularly consume it?

    Read some more weird but interesting shit about cayenne pepper here:

    My favorite use for cayenne pepper (other than chili):

    Toss a pinch or two into a nice steamy cup of vegan hot chocolate when the weather gets cold and see how quickly it warms your insides up.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Interesting Food for Thought with Which to Pepper Your Day (Puns Painfully Intended) from Vegan Freak

    Get ye to a bookstore:
    Vegan Freaks
    by Bob and Jenna Torres

    "The world only goes forward because of those who oppose it." -- Goethe

    "As consumers, we possess an impressive repressive machinery that has its roots in the way that we're raised in capitalist, Western culture. Meat-eaters or not, we generally don't think much about where anything we consume comes from. Those who produce what we consume generally benefit greatly from this willful ignorance. Ultimately, this means that those who are directly involved in production can generally toil away in horrid conditions (and the more horrid the conditions, the lower the price) to make cheap shit that we can buy at WalMart. Our cheap sneakers come at the cost of exploiting labor somewhere down the line. Similarly, our cheap meat, eggs, and dairy come not only from exploiting animals, but also exploiting and dehumanizing the people that are involved in the production of these commodities[...] The point here is that in capitalist cultures, we're acculturated to see only things and not see the relationships that went into producing those things. This applies to our food as readily as it does to any other product." (64-65)

    "[I]t is worth noting that "liberals" or "leftists" can be generally accepting of vegans, but often, they'll give you lip about animal rights because they think that you're not "putting people first." This is complete bunk, because often these people aren't even putting people first themselves, and on top of it all, there's nothing that says that one cannot simultaneously fight against the exploitation of both human and non-human animals." (76)

    "Just like the kids who want Santa to be real, many meat-eaters will deny the truth when you tell them. Frequently, meat-eaters will go to real lengths to ensure you don't destroy the fragile but deep-seeded fiction for them. This will often include marginalizing, belittling, and berating you, as well as making you seem like, well, a vegan freak. If they can assure themselves there's something wrong with you then they can assure themselves there's something wrong with your facts and your arguments too, and conveniently ignore you." (65)