Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cheeze Toast and Mamafish!

I discovered one of the coolest things ever today! One of my favorite local coffeeshops now serves Vegan Cheeze Toast. I stopped into Otherlands Coffeehouse to do a little work on my laptop, and lo and behold, a little sign next to the register read, "We now have vegan cheeze toast!" I had to order some, along with my Vanilla Soy Coffee Freeze:

Doesn't it look all melty and delicious?! I think it's Follow Your Heart, but I'm not certain. Whatever it is, it's delicious. The fresh bread is grilled so it has a hearty just-came-off-the-flame taste.

I noshed on the bread while working on my new gay rights news blog for the Memphis Flyer (the altweekly newspaper I work for) website. It's called Memphis Gaydar and you can link to it here if you care to read about LBGT issues in Memphis. Right now, our county commission is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity for workers in county government. Amazingly, the radical right Bible-thumping crazies have managed to convince several commission members that gay people don't deserve equal rights (however, a good number of the not-crazy churches are standing in support of the ordinance). They county commission will vote on that today.

In other news, I finally mailed a birthday gift for Shellyfish's mom as part of the 60-Day Project over on her blog, Musings from the Fishbowl. Shellyfish asked her readers to sign up to send her mother a small gift for her 60th birthday, and then we were all assigned weeks in which to mail our gifts. My week was last week, and I sent this Zhena's Gypsy Tea (fair trade and organic!) and a batch of my friend Uele's super-delicious locally-made Groovy Foods Civil Granola:

Happy Belated Birthday, Mamafish!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tapas Night

Rather than chowing down on a big entree and a couple of sides, tonight's dinner was more of a "small plates" kinda thing. I'd been working on this Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese from Vegetarian Times for days:

The cashews must soak for six hours, and the nut cheese mixture has to rest for another 12 hours. Then it's baked and chilled before serving. So when this cheeze log was finally ready, I decided to make dinner out of it.

I served it on some Crisp 'n' Light Wasa Crackers (the best flavor!):

This was phenomenal! The log remains pretty soft, so the cheeze is spreadable and it really melts in your mouth. And it only has a few ingredients — cashews, tahini, lemon juice, and oil.

I could have eaten the entire "goat cheese" log for my dinner, but instead I created these Sweet 'n' Sour Notballs for my cookbook's appetizer section:

They're basically bean and TVP balls simmered in a sweet 'n' sour barbecue sauce. It's the kind of typical Southern fare you might find lurking in a Crock Pot at some redneck church potuck. Always a fan of white trash cookin', I knew I wanted some classic trailer park-style appetizers in the book. These balls would also be tasty served atop spaghetti with marinara.

I also made a quick Citrus Broccoli Salad using local farmer's market broccoli:

It's really quite simple — lightly steamed broccoli seasoned with a little lemon zest, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. A light, refreshing way to enjoy broccoli on a hot almost-summer day. I was going to use it for the cookbook and then realized that the idea seemed awfully familiar. That's when I remembered Bryant Terry has a Chilled Citrus Broccoli Salad in his Vegan Soul Kitchen book. His has a few more ingredients and sounds even better, so I won't be using this recipe in my book. I'll just give it here.

Citrus Broccoli Salad

1 head broccoli, florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
salt & pepper to taste

Steam broccoli for about 4 minutes, until slightly tender but still pretty crispy. Allow to cool, and then stir in other ingredients to combine. Chill for several hours.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Move Over, Dinty Moore

My omni boyfriend loves that Dinty Moore beef stew in a can, and I seem to remember eating it a time or two when I was a kid. Even though it's got icky beef and loads of fat in it, it always looks kinda good in my boyfriend's soup bowl. I think it's just the creaminess of a stew that I crave, so decided to create a similar vegan version for my cookbook. Enter Seitan Beef Stew:

This photo was taken right after I made it, so it's still a little soupy. I found out today that it thickens considerably in the fridge. I used the ingredient list from a can of Dinty Moore to try and loosely replicate their version, only vegan-style. Plus, I added some dried herbs and local farmer's market kale for a more sophisticated taste (and some healthy greens!).

I know you're not supposed to eat stews in the spring and summer, but I'm not a fan of rules. Stew tastes good all year round, and this was deliciously comforting served with a warm slice of homemade whole wheat sourdough bread.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beer for Breakfast!

That's right. This morning's breakfast included a touch of Young's Double Chocolate Stout — in my waffles! When I saw the Chocolate Beer Waffles in my new copy of Vegan Brunch, I knew that would be the first thing I'd try:

Topped with soy whip and organic chocolate syrup, these were almost too sinfully decadent for a weekday breakfast. But then again, I had a much easier time waking up for work this morning knowing what awaited my breakfast plate.

I made a whole batch on Monday night and stuck them in the freezer to re-heat each morning in the toaster. That makes this gourmet breakfast a super-quick morning meal. You can't actually taste the beer, but they're so chocolately and delicious.

Unfortunately, my waffle iron is starting to suck. All my waffles have either stuck to the iron or turned out pretty soggy lately. None of this batch stuck, but they definitely didn't get very crispy. Luckily, the re-toasting takes care of that. It used to be such a great waffle iron, but I guess no cheap appliance can live forever. Don't judge the recipe because I know a better waffle iron would toast these like magic.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Veggie Family Dinner

My parents and I were off work for Memorial Day, and I've been anxious to try my mom's latest cultinary discovery (soaking okra in beer before frying). So it seemed like the perfect time for her to feed me! I invited myself over for dinner (they live an hour away) and she cooked up an amazing meatless feast. Here's my plate:

There's fried cabbage (the best I've ever had ... seriously, my mom is a bad ass cook), deep-fried squash and deep-fried okra (both soaked in beer before dredging in a cornmeal/flour mixture), black-eyed peas, corn seasoned with loads of Earth Balance, a whole wheat dinner roll, and a slice of fresh tomato.

I couldn't fit the macaroni and tomatoes onto my plate, but she made that too. Here's the serving dish:

This was such a delicious meal. Even my dad didn't miss the meat! We're all huge fans of deep-fried veggies, but my mom and dad are pretty health-conscious these days. So this was a special treat. I promise to work out extra hard tomorrow to make up for all the fat I consumed tonight.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pasta and Pie

I rarely cook big meals on Saturdays, but last night, I was in the mood to spend some time over the stove. So I made yet another tasty creation from Swell Vegan's Swell cookzine — Lentil Bolognese Over Whole Wheat Pasta:

Lentils stand in for meat in this bolognese sauce, making it a hearty and healthy alternative to traditional beefy pasta sauce. I had a pantry filled with unopened bags of lentils than a friend gave me last summer, and in trying to use them up, I've grown weary of my old lentil soup stand-by dinner. But this was a delicious and new way to use up some pantry items! Plus, the sauce contains red wine, and I'm a huge fan of that. Thanks Swell Vegan!

For dessert, I whipped up this Strawberry Pie:

I hand-picked the berries earlier in the day in a last ditch effort to stock up before berry season ends. And I'd been craving my Granny's veganized version of strawberry pie, a recipe that I'll certainly be including in my cookbook.

Unfortunately, I couldn't wait for the pie to set before digging in, so my first slice wasn't photo-worthy. I topped it with Soyatoo Whippable Soy Topping (the kind you whip yourself...I like that so much better than the kind in the spray can). I'm pretty sure I'll be having more of this for breakfast ... and maybe even for lunch.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two Nights, Two Dinners

Since I'd been itching for another excuse to use the sourdough starter that my pal Stephanie gave me, I just had to make Vegan Yum Yum's Rustic Bread and Eggplant Lasagna on Wednesday night:

She substitutes slices of sourdough bread for noodles. Those bread slices (mine was whole wheat sourdough) are layered with roasted eggplant, tomato sauce, and though the recipe did not call for it, I had to throw in some mozzerella Teese. Check out Vegan Yum Yum's recipe here.

Check out my awful plating!

First, I made the bread using the starter, but something went wrong on the second rise and it stayed flat as a board in my loaf pan. Since I knew it didn't really matter how dense the bread was for this (you are covering it in sauce so a sturdy, dense bread is actually perfect), I baked it anyway.

This dish is unbelievably good, as to be expected from the awesome Vegan Yum Yum. If you make it, use a sourdough loaf . The sour taste is a perfect complement to the smoky eggplant and garlicky tomato sauce.

On Thursday night, I took a cue from Skinny Bitch In the Kitch with this Spaghetti Squash with Braised Greens, Raisins, and Pine Nuts:

The greens are local rainbow chard from Dodson Farms, but the recipe is versatile. You can use kale, collards, whatever. This is so tasty and it felt like a really healthy week night meal. The greens are braised with chipotle pepper and garlic and served atop strands of baked spaghetti squash with pine nuts and plump raisins. I ate this with a slice of soy-buttered Ezekial bread because spaghetti squash tastes best when eaten with bites of buttery toast.

Hey tester friends! A new recipe is posted on the Cookin' Crunk tester site....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Holy Shitake!

I was lurking on the PPK forums a few nights ago when I stumbled upon a mention of Shitake Bacon. I'd heard about the wonders of both eggplant bacon and mushroom bacon before, but I'd never tried either. This morning, I finally sampled the wonders of Shitake Bacon:

Yum, yum, yum. That's what I have to say about it. Though the texture (and size) is a little different from soy bacon substitutes, the shitake bacon tastes as good (or maybe even better) than Smart Bacon or other subs I've tried.

As for a recipe, I stupidly didn't write or print the recipe I saw on the PPK and a search later yielded no results. But a quick Google search brought me to this YouTube video of someone named Jenny demonstrating her shitake bacon recipe. You outta watch it, but since I changed things up a bit (namely the cooking time), I'll share what I did.

Shitake Bacon

1/2 pound shitake mushrooms (stems removed, caps sliced)
Enough soy sauce to coat
A couple drops of Liquid Smoke
A splash of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle soy sauce over mushrooms in a mixing bowl. You don't want to drown them in it, just make sure they all get coated. Add Liquid Smoke (a little dab will do ya) and olive oil. Stir and allow to marinate for about 10 minutes. The mushrooms should absorb all the liquid. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until most are crispy. Note: The original recipe said to bake for 10 minutes, but mine weren't crispy at all after ten. So you might wanna check them often.

Viola! Now you have some awesome bacon for breakfast, to sprinkle over salads, or to top soups. I served mine with a quick Tofu & Hash Brown Scramble:

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Favorite Cookies From the Sixth Grade

When I was little, my best friend Amy's mom made the best after school treats with cornflakes and peanut butter. I was kinda chubby back then, and I'd pop two or three at a time. I didn't really even care for sweets then, but I made an exception for these chewy cornflake (and sometimes she used Cheerios) cookies. I was recently reminded of them when I saw something similar for sale at a backwoods gas station in Middle Tennessee.

Amy has since moved off to Washington (I think that's where she is now...she moves all the time because her husband is in the Navy). But we still talk on Facebook, so I asked for her mom's recipe to include in my cookbook. I made a few changes and came up with these Chewy Peanut Butter Cornflake Balls:

The original recipe called for corn syrup, but Skinny Bitch has turned me off corn syrup of any kind! So I subbed maple syrup. I also had to add extra peanut butter to make the cornflakes stick together. Next time, I'm going to use less cornflakes since this batch was a little crumbly. I promise to share the recipe when I perfect it. But for now, just know that these are awesome if you're into chewy stuff that tastes like a vat of sugary peanut butter.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Simple Is Better

Gourmet dishes are impressive and all, but I typically prefer a simple preparation when it comes to showcasing fresh veggies. I picked up some gorgeous broccoli at the farmer's market last week and I finally got a chance to show it off in this dish of Broccoli and Black Beans with Garlic over Brown Rice:

The recipe came from 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles, but it's really so simple that I didn't need one. I was just thumbing through cookbooks for some new ideas on what to do with broccoli when I came across that recipe. It's basically sauteed broccoli, black beans, garlic, and vegetable broth. That's it. Once on my plate, I seasoned the dish with a little ponzu (citrus-flavored soy sauce).

I also picked up some fresh local lettuce that came with a few nasturtiums (edible flowers) for garnish:

I'd never eaten a flower before (unless you count a stuffed squash blossom), so this was a new experience. Honestly, the taste blended right in with the lettuce. I couldn't even tell I was eating a flower! And it made my salad really pretty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Swell Quinoa

When I received my cute little copy of Swell, a vegan cookzine by Swell Vegan, a couple weeks ago, I knew after one glance-through what I'd make first — Coconut Red Bean Quinoa:

Oh yea, this is where it's at. All the couscous-like, protein-filled awesomeness of quinoa combined with luscious coconut milk, kidney beans, and fresh cilantro from my herb garden. It was a magical combination, and I give Swell Vegan five gold stars for this one. If ya'll don't have this zine yet, rush over there and order a copy. It's also filled with 14 other recipes that I can't wait to get around to — like Lemon Zucchini Bread!

Plus, it's super cute! The zine is quarter-page size with a gold emprint designed by Swell Vegan herself. I stole this picture from her website, but hopefully she won't mind.

Though I could have easily doubled the portion on my plate and made this quinoa a one-dish meal, I stuck to the recommended serving size and threw in a few veggie sides for good measure — Sauteed Garlicky Kale and Steamed Sweet Potatoes:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Raw Food Makeup Day!

I usually always do my one-day raw food cleanse on the first Tuesday of each month, but this month, it got pushed back due to my hectic schedule. Yesterday was the makeup day, and believe it or not, I was actually kind of craving raw foods. I guess my body is used to its monthly detox.

Breakfast was Coconut Pancakes with Blackberry-licious Syrup from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen:

These are pretty much just flattened mounds of flax meal held together with some agave and coconut oil. They didn't really taste like coconut since my Spectrum brand oil doesn't have a coconut flavor, and though I love the taste of flax, these were a little too flax-y. I cut the recipe into fourths and still managed to use 3/4 cup of flax to make these two little cakes. The syrup, however, was awesome — made with frozen blackberries leftover from last summer.

Lunch was Big Ole' Salad with Dill-icious Dressing from One Week Raw:

The lettuce came from the farmer's market, and the dressing was loaded with fresh dill and creamy avocado. The dressing recipe came from a free raw cookzine that you can download here. I downloaded it from Pixiepine Palace awhile back, but this is the first thing I've made from it.

My snack was probably the highlight of this month's raw day — Crudites with Cheddar Cheeze Spread:

This spread also came from One Week Raw, and oh my god, it's delightful! The cheeze is made from cashews, nooch, tahini, rolled oats, and all kinds of other goodness. I could eat this straight from the jar with a spoon (and I actually did just that)!

Dinner was Pizza with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Black Olives, and Fresh Italian Herbs from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen:

For the "crust," I used some of Ani's sunflower bread that I had leftover from last month's raw burgers. It's topped with a sun-dried tomato marinara, Italian herb macadamia nut cheese, veggies, and fresh basil. I know regular black olives aren't raw, and I'm sure Ani intended on people using the special raw kind, but I don't even know where to get those ... so I used regular ones. This was a really tasty, satisfying mostly raw meal.

Finally dessert was Fresh Mango Cobbler from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen:

It has a pecan-based crust, topped with fresh mango and a creamy vanilla syrup that I couldn't stop licking off my spoon. Of course, the best part about raw desserts is that they're actually healthy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goodies! ... and a Stir-fry

Over a month ago, Mihl of Seitan Is My Motor announced on her blog that I'd won a care package of German vegan booty! And since it had to travel halfway around the world to get to Memphis, I had to be patient. But my long waiting spell was over yesterday when a box of awesomeness arrived at my office. Check it:

Left to right: Marzipan eggs, Grunkern (smoked spelt), Spelt hazelnut biscuits, vegan gummy bears, sourdough extract, sesame brittle, Ricola sea buckthorn candy, semi-sweet chocolate with nut truffle, a multi-fruit bar, and a fruit & nut bar.

Since I prefer to savor things slowly (and since today is raw food make-up day ... more on that in tomorrow's post), I've only opened one thing — the chocolate bar, of course. And wow, is it divine! Thanks so much Mihl! I'm sure I'll be breaking open a few more items when my raw day is over tomorrow!

In other goodie package news, my mom and dad bought me a Mother's Day gift (because I'm the mama of 7 fur babies!). I didn't get a picture, but it included a cute peace sign shirt, a biscuit cutter set, three kinds of Teese, Eco-planet cheddar cheeze crackers, Haribo vegan cola gummies, Stonewall's Jerquee, and SoyGo creamer packets! Thanks mom and dad!

Last night, I threw together this awesome Mock Duck Stir-fry for dinner:

Someone left a can of vegetarian mock duck (made from wheat gluten) at my house after the sushi party. So sauteed some with broccoli, baby bella mushrooms, and garlic. And then, in a stroke of delicious inspiration, I thawed the leftover broth that I'd saved the last time I made the Vietnamese Sandwich from Veganomicon, thickened it with a little cornstarch, and used it as a spicy glaze. Served over udon noodles and garnished with sriracha — perfecto!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Prodigious Vegan Sushi-palooza Madness Extravaganza

Yep, that's what we named the sushi party at my house on Friday night. A few of my vegan friends and I got together to roll veggie-filled sushi and, um, deep fry everything in sight (more on that in a second).

For starters, Stephanie of Poopie Bitch made some bad ass Red Thai Coconut Bubble Tea:

She cooked the tapioca herself and served it with red Thai tea and cream of coconut. Then we munched on Steph's Inari while we worked on rolling. I love sushi and all, but inari (tofu skin stuffed with sushi rice) is my very favorite thing:

Here I am workin' on my sushi master skills. I'm not the world's best roller, but I try:

We made Spicy Tempeh Rolls from the PPK and some super-delicious Baked Tofu Rolls. I think we also made a few plain ole' veggie rolls, but honestly, we made a crap ton so who knows what all went in. Here's one finished plate (we filled lots of plates!):

Nic threw together a veggie-loaded salad with romaine, avocado, hicama, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, cucumber, and walnuts:

However, our greatest discovery of the night was my deep fryer. Stephanie got the bright idea that we should try our hand at deep-frying. First, we battered some tofu in panko and lowered it into the hot oil. Deeelicious:

Then Stephanie tried coating some veggies in tempura batter. I don't have pictures, but the battered cauliflower and zucchini were amazing. Of we HAD to try deep-frying some sushi! A few of the sushi joints in Memphis serve deep-fried rolls, but they always contain meat. So Steph battered a few rolls in tempura and here's the result:

Wow! This was so tasty. It's definitely true that everything tastes better fried. After this success, Stephanie said, "Hey guys, I wonder what deep-fried avocado tastes like?" Um, despite our reservations, she battered a few small chunks in tempura and did it anyway. And though I don't have pictures, I have to admit it was pretty tasty. Almost like a fried egg, but not.

After all our experimenting in the kitchen, everyone was ready to dig in. But they took some time out to throw a few gang signs before making their plates:

Left to right: Nic, Weezy, Stephanie, and Greg (my friend Hart and Steph's husband Richard were also there, but somehow didn't make it into the picture).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Veggie Thing!

No food pictures tonight, but I do want to urge ya'll to check out the just-launched awesome veggie restaurant food porn picture site, Veggie Thing Lookbook:

I took a screenshot so ya'll could get an idea of what it looks like, but if you haven't already, you must follow the link and explore the whole thing for yourself.

Here's how it works: The kind folks at CitySearch asked a handful of vegan food bloggers (many names you'll probably recognize) and some non-blogging vegans to submit pictures each month of dishes served in restaurants.

The result is a mouth-watering website with always-changing pictures of oh-my-god-get-in-my-mouth eats! Stop by the site and check out my first submission, the world's best Hummus and Falafel Wrap from Pita Wraps in Memphis. And check out everybody else's great food finds. You can even leave comments and rate dishes based on what you like.

In other news, the rawsome Gena over at Choosing Raw is giving away a super-spiffy spiral slicer for all your raw pasta needs. Check it out (I think the deadline is, like, really soon! But I just found out today).

Note to testers: There's a new recipe — for Sorghum Molasses French Toast — on my tester blog.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


A few weeks ago, my friend Stephanie of Poopie Bitch posted a recipe for some scrumptious-lookin' Tamarind Orange Glazed Tofu on her blog. I'd never had tamarind before, but I was curious and I'd been craving some glazed, fried tofu. I finally picked up some tamarind paste at the Asian/Mexican market, so tonight's dinner was Steph's tasty tofu dish:

So, so good ya'll. The tamarind has a taste that I can't even explain, but it perfectly complements the orange and maple flavors in the glaze. Make it. It's good. And easy!

On the side, I created this Caramelized Brussel Pecan Saute for my cookbook:

I'd always roasted my brussel sprouts before, but I'd been dreaming up this sauteed version (with toasty pecans) for some time. My inspiration was a success. These little baby cabbages got all sweet and caramelized in the saute pan, and the crunchy pecans were an awesome addition.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Eats

Today was supposed to be Raw Food Tuesday, my once-a-month raw food cleanse. But I spent all three weekend days at the Beale Street Music Festival (where I saw Fall Out Boy, Snoop Dogg, and Rise Against!), and that meant no time for shopping at Whole Foods. For raw days, I usually have to buy bulk raw nuts at WF, and that's a good 20-minute drive from my house.

I did, however, get a chance to stop by the downtown farmers market on Saturday morning before heading to the festival. I picked up some delicious-looking rainbow chard and some rustic sweet potatoes from my pals at Dodson Farms ... and those items were just what I needed to make Show Me Vegan's Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Vegan Quesadillas:

For some reason, I can't get enough of Lisa's quesadillas. Every time she posts a quesadilla recipe, I have to make it. These were so amazing! They're stuffed with mashed sweet taters, sauteed baby bella mushrooms and chard, kidney beans, chipotle, and Mexican spices. The recipe is here.

I'll squeeze a raw food day in soon, I promise. But I don't regret skipping out on it today. These quesadillas were so worth it and super-healthy with all those veggies stuffed inside.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Mama Crunk!

Today (May 4th) was my mom's birthday, so my boyfriend and I met her and my dad at their favorite restaurant in West Memphis — Pancho's. It's a no-frills Mexican restaurant that my parents have had a thing for as far back as I can remember. I didn't take any pictures of my cheeseless spinach Mexican pizza, but it was super tasty!

I did snap a shot of her birthday treats — German Chocolate Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

It's the basic chocolate cupcake recipe topped with the Coconut Pecan Frosting. So, so good. And I traded the oil for applesauce, so they're kind of lower fat.

I gave her an autographed copy of Iron Chef Cat Cora's book, Cooking from the Hip:

Can ya'll believe how young my mom looks?!

Even though she's by no means a vegan, I love Cat Cora! My friend Nathan got me hooked on Iron Chef on the Food Network, and though they always cook meat, I just pretend its seitan. Those meaty shows give me ideas for preparing non-meat dishes.

Anyway, I met Cat Cora last week at the Macy's store in Memphis. She was doing a barbecue cooking demo, and though I couldn't sample the BBQ Shrimp, her broccoli slaw and pit bean recipes were both vegan. So I got to try some of Cat Cora's secret recipes! I also had a chance to interview her by phone the week before her demo for a story in the Memphis Flyer, the altweekly I write for (I wanted to link to the interview here, but for some reason, the Flyer's new website is giving me an error message when I search for it).

Happy Birthday, Mama Crunk! (BTW, thanks to a couple of commenters who called my dad Papa Crunk and Daddy Crunk in his birthday post last month, I've decided to start calling my parents by their "crunk names").