Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

pumpkin cheesecake

As I'm sure I'll be out gallivanting tomorrow evening, I thought I'd do my Halloween post tonight. I honestly can't get enough of Halloween. I'm going to dress up as a bat tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get some good photos to show you all since I made my costume, well some of it at least. I swear I do other things besides bake.

Above is the pumpkin cheesecake I made this week. It was good but it didn't blow me away. Perhaps it was that I kept wanting it to be pumpkin pie and not cheesecake. I still have yet to find vegan graham crackers anywhere so I used a store bought crust. I guess it could have been more like cheesecake and that would have been better as well. Don't get me wrong, it was good, I just wanted it to be even better.

Shawn and I carved pumpkins tonight. Since we bought them so late, they were only $5 for three good sized pumpkins. It's been quite awhile since either of us carved any. I decided to go for something cute and carved a sugar glider in my pumpkin. Shawn made a traditional jack-o-lantern with big eyes that I love.

"bon bon" and "little ricky"

VeganMoFo has definitely inspired me to step up my blogging and has been very rewarding (although not always easy). I've had a total of 13 posts this month, which while not nearly every day is at least double the most posts I've ever made in a month.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Special breakfast

Okay so I grew up in Los Angeles and biscuits and gravy is not exactly a common meal out here in general, but this is one of my favorite breakfasts. Since it's pretty much impossible to find without meat, I learned to make this for myself as a teenager. It's so simple to put together and so delicious. A lot of the time I use mix for the biscuits but this time I made them from scratch. I'm not sure they turned out better necessarily, but they were still filling and delicious. The gravy is about as basic as it gets: soy milk, flour, salt & pepper. I couldn't even tell you the measurements, because I just add until it seems right. I got a little distracted when I was making the gravy this time so it ended up a bit lumpy (oops!) but it still tasted just fine. I also added some tofurky sausage to the gravy which was a perfect addition.

Seven days in a row of posting for VeganMoFo. I'm pretty proud of myself. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes on Prop 2!

I made these vanilla and coffee cupcakes for a bake for change bake sale. The money raised goes to support the Obama campaign and No on Prop 8. I added some flags for Yes on Prop 2 which were a lot of fun to make, even though some of my animal drawings were a bit funny. People seemed excited about them when I dropped them off. The bake sale took place this morning at the Hollywood farmer's market. I hope all the cupcakes got eaten!

"no animals were harmed in the making of this cupcake"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The best chocolate chip cookies ever?

I'm sure that many of you read and discussed that article from the NYTimes about how to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I had come across a bunch of posts about it awhile back, digested the information, and filed it in the back of my head. It seems that the standout point is refrigerating the cookie dough. The problem with that is, at least for me, is that if you want to make cookies, you want them right at that moment, not a couple of days later.

Honestly, I think chocolate chip cookies may be my favorite baked good. Chocolate chip cookies can vary so much though. It's not just that they're good or bad, but they can be chewy or crunchy or super sweet or a million other things.

So I made some cookies the other night, using the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I baked one batch but still had quite a bit leftover and threw it in the fridge for later. I never got a chance to bake the rest until two days later. When I took the dough out of fridge I remembered that refrigerated dough was supposed to be the key to amazing cookies, but as I scooped it onto the cookie sheet I was skeptical. The dough seemed a bit dried out even though I had covered it. Despite my faith in vegan recipes, I thought maybe the benefits of these tips may only apply to non-vegan ingredients.

I was so wrong. This batch of cookies was without a doubt the best I've ever made. Personally I thought they were at least twice as good as the batch made from the same dough that wasn't refrigerated. They spread out just perfectly to make them the perfect balance of chewiness and crunchiness. They had the quality of tasting a tiny bit like a sugar cookie with chocolate chips, which I love.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Dinner guests

chickpea cutlets with nutritional yeast/mushroom gravy
lemony garlic potatoes and brussel sprouts

Had my mom and her husband over for dinner a little while ago. This the first time I've had them over for a meal that I made and also the first time they'd been to Shawn and my apartment. I had wanted to make the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

First off, I have to say I love using vital wheat gluten. It's so much easier than spending the time taking however many cups of flour to break it down yourself. When I made these, I was only able to buy a small package at the market but as of this week they now sell it in the bulk section. Sounds like more seitan for dinner (and of course chickpea cutlets).

These were really delicious and unlike a lot of protein substitutes I've had. I would like to experiment using different ingredients using the same basic formula. The potatoes and brussel sprouts were also inspired from Veganomicon. While they were quite tasty, they were a bit undercooked, which I'm not sure if that was because my oven wasn't hot enough or if I was rushing. No one complained though.

lemon poppyseed cupcakes with lemon curd filling

I also made these cupcakes for dessert. Even though I love frosting, I really enjoy making cupcakes without it whenever I can. These cupcakes from My Sweet Vegan turned out really well. They were sweet but not too sweet and I was really excited about the lemon curd filling. I didn't have any small cookie cutters at the time to cut the holes in the tops so I just tried to cut them with a small knife. They're not the neatest ever but I think cute nonetheless. I'm going to have to try to come up with some fun fillings for cupcakes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's not very often that I make genuinely pretty dinners. Especially because we love things like mashed potatoes and gravy, which while delicious, aren't all that photogenic. At the store the other day I decided I needed to buy some squash since there was such a good selection and I've never really made anything with squash besides zucchini.

So I picked out some lovely delicata squash without any idea what I would do with it. I decided that even if I couldn't find a recipe I liked it would serve as good decoration in the mean time. Luckily I found an exciting recipe on gothamist for chickpea stuffed delicata. The chickpeas are fried and mixed with a cranberry wine syrup. It was a really nice mix of flavors and textures sweet and savory. Of course, it looked pretty too which I was pleased about. Not to mention it was quite different from the usual meals we make and very quick to prepare.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This weekend Shawn and I went out for Chinese food at Mao's Kitchen. They have some really good vegan options, like a harvest soup that I adore. For some reason though, every time I eat there, I can't seem to make up my mind on what I want to eat. I think part of the problem is that while checking out the menu, I cross the noodle section and always want chow mein noodles, but of course, they're all made with egg. Once you get in the mood for something it's hard to get your mind on something else.

Luckily, I came across some chow mein noodles at the store the next day and to my surprise they were vegan! Yay! So I whipped up some spicy chow mein with bok choy and mushrooms. So good!

I also got a ton of fun stuff at the store so I'll be making some other exciting treats this week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here is a black raspberry and blueberry crumble I made. The important thing with this is that the crumble on top is really great and could be used with any fruit. It is great with peaches or apples or berries. I'm not usually into blueberries but I love how they look with the black raspberries and the flavors are very complimentary. Here is the recipe...

Crumble top
3/4 cups all purpose-flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup non-dairy butter

(sorry my measurements are a bit, well, sketchy)
1 bag frozen black raspberries
1 bag frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Defrost the fruit in a saucepan (or microwave) and pour into pie pan. Stir in sugar and arrowroot powder until it is dissolved in the fruit juices. Set aside.

Pour dry ingredients into a bowl and combine. Cut non-dairy butter into chunks and add to bowl. Use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until they form crumbly balls. Sprinkle on top of berries.

Bake for 40 minutes or until crumbles are golden brown.

Another option with this is to leave out the arrowroot powder all together, depending on the fruit, or substitute regular flour.

I'm supposed to be posting more this month but man it's quite a bit harder than I thought. Mainly because I spend all day in front of a computer at work and don't really want anything to do with my laptop when I get home. I would much rather be baking. Anyway I'm trying to get back on track.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween Treats!

These little ghosts might not be scary but they're so tasty. I tested out a new recipe for cappuccino and espresso cupcakes. I happened to make these before I made dinner so I had to test out the batter...which was possibly the best ever. Seriously.

Shawn and I also decorated the sugar cookies I made last night. I think I got a little carried away but it was so much fun!

I really can't believe how good these cupcakes are. They're not like your typical vegan cupcake either. I'll post a recipe when I've got it worked out. The espresso cupcakes turned out cakey and the cappuccino cupcakes are crispy. I'd like them to be a little more alike. I just topped them off with some regular vanilla buttercream frosting but think something a little more exciting would bring these guys to a whole new level of cupcake. You might think I'm kidding. I'm not.

All these treats are for a Halloween movie marathon we're having. Oh and we'll be making pizza of course. Can't wait!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Veganniversary

vegan ice cream from Scoops to celebrate
oreo and vanilla coffee

Today is the three year anniversary of me going vegan! Yay!

Even if it's not so exciting for everyone else I'm going to tell everyone my going vegan story.

I decided to become vegetarian at age 13 to "save the animals." Honestly at that point meat did not interest me at all and I had a really difficult time knowing I was eating something that had been alive. My mother insisted I continue to eat fish but other than my parents were pretty much uninvolved in what I ate. This meant that as a vegetarian I did not have a very diverse diet. For most of my teenage years I ate mostly cereal, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, pasta and Dr. Pepper. Oh yes, lots and lots of carbs. Although I had tried more ethnic foods than a lot of people, they weren't a regular staple. Except for sushi. Which I have to admit I was obsessed with (and still am in its vegan forms). I stopped eating fish when I was 17 when my favorite sushi restaurant changed ownership.

As I got older I started learning more about cooking and about veganism. I made some simple switches to soy milk and earth balance but thought that going completely vegan would be too hard for me. My biggest problem was my sweet tooth. I just hadn't had many good vegan desserts and I couldn't imagine living without them. Though for the most part I ate vegan and cooked vegan I still didn't think I could do it. At the same time, having learned more about factory farming, I was having a lot of guilt whenever I ate things that weren't vegan.

When I was 21 I went backpacking in Europe for a month and a half. The entire trip my diet consisted almost entirely of bread and cheese. It felt horrible. The day after I got home I decided that I had to go vegan. I made a resolution that if I were going to do it, it had to be for at least a year. That year came and went and I could never imagine myself going back.

Being vegan has changed my life immensely for the better. I cook all the time, and bake even more. For me this is so rewarding. I feel like having this connection with my food makes me appreciate it even more. Going out to eat at restaurant with vegan food is exciting, it's not just something that you have to do. Despite having staple foods that I eat a lot, my diet is so much more diverse than it has ever been. I've also leaned so much about all the things that I eat. I feel better eating the food without the guilt of another animal's suffering or the gross things in non-vegan food. I'm also extremely fortunate to have a vegan boyfriend so we get to make treats together, which makes things that much more fun.

Anyway, I'll get back to more fun photo posts soon. I have been bad at updating lately, and have a little backlog of pictures to post. Eep!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The infamous vegan crepes...

alix in the kitchen

Months ago Shawn and I decided to have a pseudo-French night. This of course consisted mainly of drinking wine and eating crepes. We got to finally test out our crepe pan and tools.

spreading the batter

flipping the crepe

The process definitely took some practice, and I have infinite respect for those that are able to effortlessly flip crepes twice the size of ours.

Crepes are one of those treats that I actually crave, and though I usually tend towards sweet crepes (my favorite toppings are just lemon and sugar) we went for savory mushroom and mozzarella crepes.

For the most part, the recipes I found at the time focused more on a dessert type crepe so these turned out a bit sweet, but still, so freaking good. They were crunchy on the outside but still soft throughout. And yes, chopping with an extra large cleaver makes them taste better.

Anyway these photos have been lost in the ephemera for the past three or four months, from before we did some modifications to our kitchen, including a new oven. Finally they are here for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I feel like I'm constantly trying to used leftovers or open food. I opened a jar of applesauce for something or other and wanted to try and used the rest of it before it could go bad. I also had an extra premade pie crust. I was thinking to myself there should be such a thing as an applesauce pie, because that's what I wanted to make. Sure enough there is.

I altered some recipes I found to make a vegan version. My boyfriend loved this pie. The flavors were really good but it was bit too "buttery" for me. Here's the recipe...

Vegan Applesauce Pie

1 Pastry crust
3 tsp egg replacer mixed with 4 Tbps warm water
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup Earth Balance softened/melted
1 c unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together sugar, flour and nutmeg.
Combine egg replacer with warm water and beat till frothy.
Mix egg replacer with applesauce and Earth Balance and blend until smooth.
Combine all ingredients and mix together so that there aren't any lumps.
Pour into prepared pastry crust.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. This pie holds together even better when it is refrigerated.

pizza and cupcakes

I would say that the two most commonly baked foods in this apartment are pizza and cupcakes. We eat a lot of pizza. We eat enough pizza to have two pizza stones and an individual pizza oven. The recipes are pretty standard though.

I tried to make a pizza that was a bit different than usual even with the same ingredients. I don't usually cook with onions unless a recipe calls for it, but this time I decided to go all out and cover the pizza with caramelized onions. I also roasted some garlic and sauteed the tofu in a mix of rosemary, nutritional yeast and soy sauce.

Sometimes I experiment and things don't turn out so well. This was not one of those times. This pizza was so delicious.

So of course I tried out some cookies and cream cupcakes. Something easy that I had been craving and wanted to test out. The thing with cupcakes is that there is always a bit too much batter and icing left over. Not enough to make another batch....just enough, I discovered, to make a mini cake. Just a bit bigger than a cupcake, but perfect dessert size. I think I'll be making more of these.

Also, I'm going to try my best to post as much vegan goodness as I can for the month of October and veganmofo. Should be a lot of good fall treats to make. I'm excited!