Month: January 2011

Groundhog Day Party

Another great party, despite the splinter, blender sliced finger & two jalapeño burned hands that I experienced during preparation. I forgot to take pictures of the whole spread, but got a couple shots of the dishes at the end.

The Menu:

  • Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Spread) from The Vegan Table with pita chips and raw veggies
  • Tempeh Pate from The Vegan Table with Crackers
  • Chips, Trader Joe’s salsa & homemade guacamole
  • Three Bean Chili from The Vegan Table
  • Vegetarian Chili from a random recipe I found online
  • Onion & jalapeño skillet cornbread from Veganomicon
  • Butternut squash soup from The Vegan Table
  • White Wine Sangria
  • Gingerbread groundhog cookies
  • Chocolate mousse mini tarts from The Joy of Vegan Baking
  • Groundhog Cake Pops in a “grassy knoll” vanilla cake with buttercream frosting

Groundhog Day is just around the corner

It’s kind of a big deal here.

My second attempt at cake pops was successful. For my groundhog cake pops, I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World and a variation of her buttercream frosting. The cake balls were frozen overnight and then dipped in melted semi-sweet chocolate. The ears and cheeks are chocolate chips; the nose is a giant pink sprinkle and the teeth are white sprinkles. I was very excited to find the candy eyes at Micheal’s.

Why I’m not a food blogger

I am pretty amazing at following recipes, but not so good at creating dishes. I’m even worse at writing a recipe. I bought a bunch of red peppers when they were on sale, so I was going to use up some leftovers and make stuffed peppers. I thought it would be fun to blog my own recipe, but really I just threw random stuff together. I doubt I could even re-create it.

So here’s why I will not be the next Fat Free Vegan Kitchen or Vegan Yum Yum: combine quinoa, black beans, chickpeas in a bowl with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and juice from one lemon. Saute an onion, add 4 cloves of minced garlic and 4 zucchinis. Add oregano, basil, cayenne pepper and lots of red pepper flakes. Combine veggies with bean mixture and stuff into peppers.  Bake at 425 until it looks like it’s about to burn.

Top Chef Wednesday – Rerun

We were all excited to watch the mafia episode tonight, but we turned on the TV to see cheftestants fishing again. At least the dishes were new tonight.

First Course: Asparagus and Leek Soup with Lemon

Second Course: Black Bean Cake with Whole Grain & Sweet Crispy Potatoes

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse with Rice Whip

The soup was great, but the black bean cakes were a little off.  It might be my fault though.  I just mixed in a cup of uncooked oats, but after frying the cakes the oats were still raw.  I added some water, which cooked the oats, but created a black bean oatmeal at the bottom of the pan.  The bean cakes didn’t taste bad, just a little on the dry side.  Instead of crispy potatoes, it could have used a sauce.

Sassafras gave me quite a scare tonight. Somehow he got trapped in one of the lower cabinets.  When I went  to get a bowl, he leaped out.  It was like the time a mouse jumped out of the silverware drawer when I was in seventh grade, only this animal was huge!  Then I realized it was my cat.  So mischievous!

Arabian Lentil and Rice Soup

I love it when I have all the ingredients for a recipe in my kitchen. It was freezing cold on Saturday and we vowed to not leave the house after we got home from the gym/running. I went through Appetite for Reduction looking for a recipe with ingredients that wouldn’t require a trip to the store.  This recipe for red lentil soup is easy and delicious, of course. It is very lemony. The lemon zest added a nice flavor after simmering for 40 minutes, I’m not sure 1/4 of a cup of lemon juice is really necessary.  I made it the same day as Mattin’s carrot ginger soup and the lentil soup blows the carrot soup out of the water. Isa Chandra Moskowitz should be on Top Chef.

Bears vs. Packers

It was -8 when I woke up this morning, so I skipped the morning group run in Crystal Lake. I would wait for it to warm up a bit before attempting a run. I cleared out the vegetables in the fridge by making a tofu scramble. I followed the recipe from Vegan Brunch, which I don’t think is that different from Vegan with a Vengeance. Both recipes are good. I added mushrooms, red pepper, onions, and green olives marinated with garlic that I bought for another recipe, but never used. We also had cumin & turmeric home fries and mixed berry muffins for carb-y deliciousness. I subbed applesauce for half the oil in the muffins, so they had a little less fat, but they were still really good.

After breakfast, I went to a yoga class at the gym and tried out my new yoga mat. It’s way better than my old ones. (Thanks, mom!)

This afternoon was the big game – Chicago and Green Bay. I learned on NPR that wings are the big thing to eat during a football game, so instead of buffalo wings, I made buffalo tempeh from Appetite for Reduction.  I also made some more Veg News mac & cheese (love this stuff!), which we had with steamed broccoli.  The food was much better than the game.  The Bears will not be going to the Superbowl.

I made Arabian Lentil and Rice Soup from Appetite for Reduction yesterday and H had some of that for dinner (so good!), but I was still full from our late lunch and the cookies I made.  I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar.  The dough is a big mess and the cookies are flat.  They taste good, but they are too flat to be the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  I also made a gluten-free version by replacing the all-purpose flour with a combination of millet flour, white rice flour, and tapioca flour.  It has a bit of a grainy aftertaste, but its not too bad.

Gluten-free cookies:

Top Chef Saturday – All Stars Episode 7

Your least favorite dishes…

Unfortunately, I was not able to find black lentils in time for tonight’s Top Chef meal. I guess I’ll have to order online. For tonight’s menu, I searched under cheap meals thinking that cheap items are more likely to be readily available in the burbs. I settled on a red bean dip and a carrot ginger soup and bought all the necessary ingredients. Then I looked at Wikipedia for a synopsis of the episodes that featured these recipes. Both of them are from quickfire challenges and both chefs were in the bottom three! I hope that any issues these dishes had were fixed before Bravo put the recipes online.

From the best of the best to the worst of the worst: Mattin’s Carrot Ginger Soup and Radhika’s Red Bean Dip :

The recipes were easily veganizable.  I just bought a can of vegetarian chili for the bean dip and made tofu sour cream for the soup.  The red bean dip didn’t look pretty, but it was pretty good.  I used hot Giardiniera pepper relish, which gave it some nice heat.   On the other hand, the soup looked lovely, but I agree that it should have received a spot at the bottom of the challenge.  Fortunately, the recipe didn’t make a lot of soup.  H finished it off with a second helping, so there are no leftovers I feel obligated to eat.

This week on Top Chef it was Restaurant Wars: Restaurant Bodega vs. Restaurant Etch.  With Dale, Carla & Richard on a team,the other team barely stood a chance.  However, the twist this season was that the diners would vote for the winner, so who knows what could happen.  It was obvious that the judges favored Bodega, with its clear theme, well-executed dishes and top-notch service.  Etch received some praise from diners, but there were also a number of dishes being sent back.  It was hard to watch Tiffany in the front of the house.  She seemed so uncomfortable, especially compared to Fabio, who is a front of the house master.

The judges had nothing but praise for the chefs of Bodega, but it was nervous Richard who got the win.  The chefs of Etch continued their bickering at the judge’s table and the unstable executive chef Marcel was told to pack his bags and go.

To celebrate Marcel’s departure, we had chocolate mousse from the Joy of Vegan baking.  The recipe does not actually call for sugar, but it is suggested variation.  I strongly recommend adding sugar.

My Favorite Meal

Popcorn with nutritional yeast and a glass of wine.

Before I got married, I probably ate popcorn most weekday nights. It wasn’t the healthiest diet, but it was the easiest thing to make when I got home from the gym late. A popcorn maker was the best purchase of 2009. It’s good that I’m cooking more, but it sure was nice to revisit an old favorite tonight.

Crystal Lake: Day 2

We have electricity! But we didn’t get it until after Holiday Inn’s check out time, so we decided to spend another night here. If we feel ambitious, we’ll go to the pool. Or we’ll just watch TV all night.

It was an early morning, because I had to be in Rockford by 8:30. After a painful one hour court call, I went to the organic market. Today I tried a BBQ tempeh wrap from Sunny Day Bakery. The tempeh was good, but there were issues with sogginess again.

For dinner we went to Duke’s Alehouse, which is one of the best restaurants in Crystal Lake. It embraces the local food movement and clearly identifies the vegetarian and vegan items on it’s menu. Sadly, the veggie burger is not vegan, because it’s so good. At least that forces me to try new things. We both ordered Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Ale, which is organic, obviously, and certified vegan. It’s probably the best fruit flavored beer I’ve had.

I started with the vegan chili, which was oddly served with a non-vegan cornbread muffin. It had a nice little kick. I also had the grilled vegetable pizza, which is a flat bread pizza with grilled onions, eggplant, and zucchini and topped with the Alehouse salad sans feta. So good!