Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

The recipe for this slow cooker Lentil Shepherd's Pie came from a new cookbook I got for Christmas, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes. It was yummy... got thumbs up from both myself and my omni hubby. Turned out more like shepherd's mush than pie, but we still devoured it! The prep time was longer than I liked because I made mashed potatoes from scratch, not from a box as suggested in the book. Still, I would make this again... but probably on a weekend when I have more time for the prep.


In other news... this is going to be my second to last post as the "Vegetarian Cookster." I've been struggling for awhile now to find some motivation to keep this blog going. There are so many great blogs out there... fancier pics, better writing, original recipes... I've been wondering where mine fits in and if it's worth the effort to continue with it.

I've decided to put Vegetarian Cookster to rest and start fresh... I have an idea for a new veggie blog, one that is more focused and relevant to my current lifestyle. On New Year's Eve, it seems fitting to go out with the old and bring in the new... so tomorrow I'll reveal my new blog and its URL.

Many thanks to everyone who's taken the time to comment here at VC. I value your input immensely. I plan to leave VC up as an archive since I'll probably refer to it here and there on the new blog.

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve everyone! :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Babaganoush [recipe]

I'm kind of in recipe hell at the moment. Cookbooks here, veggie magazines there... loose recipe clippings everywhere! I dropped some cash at an office supply store yesterday for some binders, colorful dividing tabs, plastic sheet protectors, etc. in hopes of organizing my growing mound of recipes.

I'm not sure why I keep clipping recipes... I'm fortunate enough to have a nice collection of vegetarian/vegan cookbooks... I really don't need to clip recipes. But I love food, and the draw of the challenge of trying a new recipe is too compelling sometimes... oh all right... ALL THE TIME!

When I moved, I filled a "copy paper" box up with magazines, mostly foodie magazines... all because I hadn't had the chance to go through and clip recipes yet. It's a sickness I tell ya! Now that I'm moved and things are beginning to settle, I sat and tore out all the recipes I was interested in pursuing. I've put them all in a 3-inch wide three-ring binder. What I plan to do is, once I make a recipe and determine it's a keeper, I'll move that recipe to a "tried and true" recipe binder, which will be organized by subject. The T&T binder will be my "go-to" binder... recipes I know that my hubby and I both love and that I can make in a pinch.

This recipe for babaganoush will be one of those recipes in the T&T binder. This was my first stab at making homemade babaganoush and it turned out delicious. Hubby thought so too. However, it doesn't look like it made the two cups stated in the recipe. Maybe my eggplants were not big enough. I did not weigh them before purchasing, I admit. I also need to research other ways of cooking eggplant... this was my first try at that too, and I felt like a failure. It seemed I scraped away too much good eggplant while trying to de-seed it.

Can anyone share a foolproof way to roast eggplant? Also, would anyone like to share how you organize all your miscellaneous recipes? :)

(recipe clipped from a Women's Day magazine)

2 large eggplants (about 3 lbs)
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed through a press (I used the minced garlic in a jar)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Pierce eggplants several times with a fork and roast in oven on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes until the skins are blackened slightly and the eggplants are very soft.

Cut ends off eggplants and peel skins. Cut open and remove long strands of seeds. Cut eggplant in large pieces and strain in sieve over a bowl for 10 minutes to drain excess water.

In a food processor or blender, blend together tahini, lemon juice, oil, parsley, garlic, cumin salt and pepper. Then add eggplant and pulse into a chunky puree. Serve in a wide bowl, drizzled with olive oil, along with warm pitas or veggies.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vegan French Toast, "Chicken" Nugget Salad and Pesto Soup, oh my!

This is a rarity in that I usually don't post all three meals that I make in one day... but a lazy Sunday will do that to you. Actually, the day wasn't all that lazy... hubby and I went to see Wicked the musical, which was just wonderful! We started off the day with a recipe for vegan french toast. My omni hubby loves this recipe... says it's the best french toast he's ever tasted. I'll post the recipe below because I couldn't find it on vegweb, even though I know that's where I got it. I love vegweb... when I don't have my nose in a cookbook, I'm browsing recipes on vegweb. Lots of great recipe finds there! Give it a visit!

Lunch was a quickie... just salads with greens, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, shelled pistachio nuts, dried cranberries, veggie cheese and leftover/reheated "chicken" nuggets chopped up... all that topped with Newman's Own Lighten Up Raspberry and Walnut dressing.

For dinner, I made Fat Free Vegan's "Purple Pesto Soup".... minus the "purple" because all I could find was the green basil. It was delicious and low fat! My hubby said he would've preferred some "chunks" left in the soup instead of all pureed. And, I'm curious as to what it would taste like if I used veggie broth in place of the hot water. Definitely worth some exploration! :)

Here's that vegan french toast recipe, originally found on

2 cups vanilla soy milk
4-5 tablespoons flour
3 teaspoons sugar
dash of cinnamon
bread slices (your choice)
sugar to taste

Mix together the flour, milk, sugar and cinnamon to form a batter. Dip bread and fry in a lightly greased pan until golden brown. The original recipe suggested sprinkling with vegan powdered sugar, but I never have. We top it with pure maple syrup instead!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sweet & Spicy Lentil Chili ... Tomato Soup

Another quick post... have been so busy with unpacking from the move and the upcoming holidays, but I really want to make the effort to post and get back into a blogging groove. Please bear with me with these briefs posts I've done lately.

Both of these dishes were crockpot meals from the book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I really enjoyed the Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili... my hubby, not so much. He didn't care for the lentils. He said he preferred my regular vegetarian chili. I would make this again though, even if I'm the only one who eats it... more for me, more for me! Muhahahahah! ;-p The Tomato Soup was supposed to be pureed and poured over Israeli couscous. I had the couscous but I'm such a sucker for elbow macaroni noodles in tomato soup that we chose to add those instead. And, my hubby wanted it chunky, not pureed. So, there you go. We both enjoyed this recipe though. Both dishes were perfect this week during the cold weather we've been having lately... winter is definitely here in my neck of the woods!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cumin Lime Tofu

Made this for hubby and I yesterday... Cumin Lime Tofu from the book Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Hubby confessed that he's never had tofu steaks before... only cubed tofu. I told him that would be changing! LOL We've had some interesting discussions about food since merging our omni/veg household. (Such as... can one eat too many chickpeas?) I think I'll save more of those thoughts for when I make recipes relevant to the discussions.

The Cumin Lime Tofu was tasty and very light... I felt like we should've had steamed veggies as a side instead of the boring rice, which was just poor planning on my part. We were very busy yesterday and I was so focused on the main ingredient that I completely forgot to make a decent side. Ah well. Live and learn.

As far as tofu dishes go, I liked the Cashew Ginger Tofu dish better than this one and would probably make that dish again before I repeated this one.

Tonight, we're having a sweet and spicy lentil chili... stop by tomorrow to see how that turned out! :)

Oh, and I'm excited! I spied the BBC Good Food Vegetarian Christmas magazine at the bookstore over the weekend... haven't given it a proper look-through but I hope to soon. I'd like to make something to pass at my family's get holiday together.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sweet Almond Milk Couscous [recipe]

A short post... I needed a quick lunch/dinner tonight because hubby and I had tickets to see Oasis in concert with special guest (and my absolute fav solo artist) Ryan Adams. I chose this Sweet Almond Milk Couscous recipe I found in the food section of my local paper a few weeks ago. It's actually a Mark Bittman recipe, and it was delicious. As you can see, we paired it with a salad.

For breakfast I made the vegan biscuits and gravy recipe from another one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan with a Vengeance. I love this recipe... it is sooooo yummy. I love the bean-based gravy... it rocks!

--Sweet Almond Milk Couscous--

2.5 cups almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup regular or whole wheat couscous (I used whole wheat)
2 teaspoons grated/minced lemon or orange zest (I used orange)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 to 1 teaspoon rosewater (optional, I omitted it)
1 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (optional, I included them)
1 cup chopped dried apricots

This recipe is uber easy! Combine milk, sugar and salt in a pot and bring to boil. Then add the couscous, zest and cardamom. Cover pot and cook for one minute before turning off the heat and letting it set for 5 minutes. After the time has passed, fluff the couscous with a fork and add rosewater if using. Then gently stir in the nuts and apricots. And enjoy! ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegan Chickpea Patties w/ Shiitake Gravy, Mashed Potatoes

My hubby is home! :) For the past 10 days, my new hubby was in Mexico on work-related business, but he came home today and I wanted to make sure that his first evening home included a delicious home-cooked meal.... vegetarian, of course! :) I chose to make the chickpea "sensation" patties from the book Eat, Drink and Be Vegan... yes, I love this book and have been using it a lot lately! LOL The chickpea patties have been a sensation in the blogosphere ever since the book hit the shelves. And with good reason... they are delicious. My omni hubby doesn't like whole chickpeas, but he does like hummus; I was hoping he'd go for this recipe so I could lose my chickpea patty virginity. He was quiet in the car when I revealed what I was making for din-din... it made me nervous, LOL. I wanted the meal to be special, not unappealing. I started to think I made the wrong choice. But once I started cooking them, he commented that they smelled good... and when he dug his fork into them and took a bite, a reassuring "Oh yeah, these are good" was all I needed to hear... score! :-D I served the patties with real mashed gold potatoes and we smothered both in a vegetarian mushroom gravy I spied at Whole Foods Market. OMG, Whole Foods! That's one of the best things about living with my hubby... he has a Whole Foods just five minutes away. I've been there twice in the past week. My Mecca. I'm a happy woman. :) But back to the gravy... it was awesome but it's not vegan as it contains heavy cream. Not pictured is the yummy salad we had with the meal.

If all goes well tomorrow, I'll be making vegan biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and a new couscous recipe I clipped from my local newspaper for lunch... I'll share the recipe if it's any good! :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vegan "Corn Chowder in Winter"

I made this soup in the crockpot earlier this week, and it fed me a nice big bowl for dinner that night, as well as several lunches during the rest of the week. The recipe is from the book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, which I think will become my Bible for cooking during the week.

I'm officially moved in with my hubby and have a longer commute to and from work now... which means I get home later... which means now by the time I cook, the evening is almost over! I hope to find some decent vegetarian crockpot recipes and perfect them to save time on weeknight dinners. I love slow cooking and don't do enough of it, but this is great inspiration so that I have more quality time with my hubby in the evenings. :)

It's also great inspiration to get back into food blogging so I can chronicle my adventures in learning to cook for our dual (vegetarian/omnivore) household.

As for this soup... it was yummy.. and vegan since it doesn't use any cream or milk... it relies on the pureeing of part of the soup mixture to thicken it.

I've got some great recipes lined up for this weekend... my hubby is returning from a work-related trip, and I wanted to make sure he had some good home-cooked vegetarian food to welcome his omni belly home. ;) So stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cashew-Ginger Tofu

Just a quick post to show you what I made for dinner tonight... Cashew-Ginger Tofu from the awesome book, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I almost didn't make this because I was feeling lazy and only cooking for one tonight... but I have a beautiful new food processor sitting on my kitchen counter and the thought of using it turns me on! LOL I powered that baby up to make the cashew-ginger sauce for this recipe (and made a little mess too while still learning the ropes of the machine...but hey, I'll learn!). I served it over brown rice that had been cooked in veggie broth. This dish rocked! The sauce was soooooooo yummy. I'll definitely be making this again for my new hubby! I know he'll like it! :)

Oh, and apologies for the bad photo... I'm still trying to find the best photo spot in my new house and as you can see, I haven't found it yet. :(

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mrs. T

Well I did it! I'm officially a Mrs! :)

My honey and I tied the knot at a historic mansion on a sunny and mild Halloween evening in Michigan. I could not have asked for better weather for our outdoor ceremony... I mean, 65 degrees F and sunny on Halloween in Michigan? That's unheard of! LOL Especially when just a few days before it was rainy, cold and threatening flurries! Someone was smiling down on us that evening though, because it was beautiful. The reception was held inside the mansion, and costumes were encouraged... it was a blast. :)

We honeymooned at the Walt Disney World resort, so stay tuned because I'd like to write an entry about my experience eating vegetarian in WDW. And, I'm only two weeks away from moving in with my hubby... once settled, I'll be adjusting to cooking for two and hope to chronicle my endeavors here. :)

Hope everyone is doing well, and I hope to be back to blogging soon! :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Peeks in...

I didn't mean to just disappear into thin air... really, I didn't! Life has a way of pulling you away from things sometimes, and mine pulled me away from this blog.

I'm not giving up though. I will return.

I'm eight weeks away from my wedding (!) and in the middle of packing things up so I can shack up with my hubby-to-be. Once all that blows over, and I've had some time to settle into my new role as wifey, I hope to blog again. I'll be done with my bachelorette ways and cooking for two so I hope that'll inspire me to post again. After all, I'll have a new point of view to share... vegetarian adjusts to living (and cooking) with omnivore!

First I've got to adjust to just living with someone... I've been on my own for almost 10 years now.

So, if you enjoy my blog... please hang tight. I'll be back. It may not be until the new year, or it may be sooner, not sure. But I do miss blogging so you're not rid of me just yet! ;-p

In the meantime, my friend Erin (also a vegetarian) is blogging about her love of sweets over at Dessert Girl. Check it out if you have a sweet tooth! ;)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tempeh "marmalade" knockoff

I know!!! I've been a very bad blogger... not blogging in what seems like FOREVER. I only did one post in March, how sad. :( And I apologize, because I'm not entirely sure just how much blogging I'll do this year, with my wedding only 6 months away now. The wedding plans are coming along fine, it's the other daunting tasks (like going through all my crap to get rid of stuff so I can move from my LARGE house into my fiance's SMALL house) that are making my head spin. O_o Thankfully, it's warming up in my neck of the woods and the spring weather has cheered me up a bit.

Anyhoo, you don't come here to read me vent, so I'll get on with the food that I'm actually really excited to post, discuss and recommend! As you may have noticed, this week VeganYumYum posted this mouth-watering recipe for "Marmalade Tofu with Kale and Lemon Pearl Couscous." It sounded divine and looked gorgeous! I forwarded the link to my fiance, with a note saying "This looks awesome, we'll have to try it soon." Today, I found myself needing to cook some tempeh before it expired. I love tempeh, but I'm still learning how to cook with it in recipes. Too lazy to hop on the Net and spend time searching for a tempeh recipe to try, my brain called up the marmalade dish, wondering what it would taste like with tempeh instead of tofu. I went to VeganYumYum and ogled the ingredients again... I didn't have marmalade, pearl couscous or almonds, but I had peach preserves, plain whole wheat couscous and extra mushrooms I needed to use. So I whipped up the marinade as listed on VeganYumYum sans the chili flakes, using peach preserves instead of marmalade... and I just stir-fried some kale with a little oil and green onion until it softened, then added in some mushrooms and garlic to the stir-fry. I took some short cuts and made changes, but they worked in a pinch and my dinner tonight was delicious! Definitely a thumbs up! The marmalade glaze was awesome.

I still want to make the correct "Marmalade Tofu with Kale and Lemon Pearl Couscous" recipe soon, but it's nice to know that the basics of his recipe are versatile enough to accommodate substitutions according to what you may have in your cupboard. So, thanks VeganYumYum! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from the cookbook 'Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World'

For Easter, I made my first recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World... Chocolate Stout Cupcakes! I skipped the crumble topping and used the book's vegan buttercream frosting instead, adorning it with sprinkles and a chocolate graham cracker cookie... yum! They were a hit with my fam... and me. :-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chocolate Berry Loaf [recipe]

I've been a vegan baking fool ever since my sister gifted me with a copy of Joy of Vegan Baking for Christmas. Initially, my schedule kept me from dedicating time for baking, but I've caught up over the past week or so, finally having the chance to heat up my house by turning on that oven for baking!

As you'll see below, I made two recipes from Joy of Vegan Baking... the first was the Apple Pecan Muffins. Boy, were those good! I personally could've cooked mine a few more minutes, but they were still yummy, even if I didn't peel the apples as directed (yeah, I'm lazy!). The second recipe I made from the book was Blueberry Orange Bundt Cake, only I made mine in a regular loaf pan. Got a silicone loaf pan recently and I've been using it every chance I get because I love that thing! Came out great, even using frozen blueberries instead of fresh, because it was all I had on hand. Both of these baked goods were "tested" on my omni fiance... and he approved! He also got the chance to try the vegan banana bread I made back in December. I made two loaves at the time and froze one, which I defrosted last weekend and gave to him for munching. He didn't try it while I was at his house (we were eating blueberry orange cake, afterall!) but he sent me an e-mail later in the week to tell me the banana bread was really good. The fact that he made the effort to send an e-mail just to say that, says something to me.... that animal-free baking can be just as yummy! :)

Anyway, today is my birthday. Many of you offered me kind wishes earlier in the month when I celebrated with my family, but today is the actual day I turn the ripe ol' age of 34. As a birthday gift to myself, like last year, I took the day off of work today! I think everyone should have off on their birthday, don't you? :) I'm sitting here with my morning coffee, eating a slice of Chocolate Berry Loaf for breakfast (main post photo, above). Mmm.... would be a sin not to share! One of my goals for my blog this year is to adapt more recipes and share them with you... I haven't done a very good job so far, but last night I converted this recipe into an animal-free version and it came out pretty good. This recipe was adapted from a recent women's magazine.

Chocolate Berry Loaf
(makes 3 mini loaves or one standard-size loaf)

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 plus 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Egg replacer for two eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup Tofutti brand sour cream
1/2 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped
3 tablespoons chocolate chips

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the three mini loaf pans with cooking spray or oil.
2) In a small bowl, mix together cocoa powder, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water until it's a smooth consistency. Set aside.
3) In a larger bowl, mix together flour, bakig powder, baking soda and salt.
4) In a medium-sized bowl, mix together remaining 3/4 cup sugar, your chosen eggs substitute, oil and almond extract. Whisk in sour cream.
5) Stir sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until well-blended. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the batter in with the cocoa mixture, along with the chopped berries, until no white streaks remain.
6) Drop alternating spoonfuls of batter into the mini loaf pans, then swirl a knife through the batter for a marble effect. Top each loaf with one tablespoon chocolate chips.
7) Bake at 350 degrees for 35-50, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool loaves on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.

A few of my own notes:
1) Recipe originally called for dried cherries... I found a dried berry mix at my store and used that... couldn't resist a package of dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries all mixed into one!
2) For the eggs, I used flax meal and water... two tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water, whisked together and heated in the microwave until gooey.
3) Recipe originally called for one full cup of sour cream... I initially wanted to try this recipe with a full cup of soy yogurt in place of the sour cream, but I had a half-used tub of Tofutti sour cream in my fridge and, seeing as how I rarely use sour cream, I didn't want the leftovers to go to waste so I used half Tofutti SC and half soy yogurt. If anyone tries it with only soy yogurt, let me know how it turns out!
4) Next time, I might try topping the loaves with a combination of chips and nuts, or just chopped nuts. What can I say, I'm nutty like that! ;-p

Tonight, my honey is coming over for dinner (Thai take-out... my favorite!). We'll have dessert, too, and that will be the topic of another blog post later this week. :) But first, I need to go shovel several inches of snow off my sidewalks. It always snows on/near my birthday... never fails. Wouldn't be my birthday without snow!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats!

Quick post here, but I wanted to preview part of what I'll be giving my omni fiance tonight during our Valentine celebration... vegan rice crispy treats! But shhhhhh.... I'm not telling him they're vegan. I'm sure he'll figure it out if he happens to offer me one and I accept, but I'm curious to know what he honestly thinks of the taste without throwing the "vegan" word in his face.

I must admit, when I first laid eyes on the Vegan Sweets Marshmallows, I was leery . While they try to look like "normal" marshmallows, they fall a bit short; the color is more off-white and their size is somewhere between big and miniature marshmallows. It probably didn't help that I ordered the irregulars because they were cheaper (and I knew I'd just be melting them down anyway). Even when I opened the package last night and sampled one before pouring the rest in the pan of waiting melted Earth Balance, I still was nervous that I had wasted my money because they didn't even taste like traditional marshmallows when eaten alone.

But, when these babies cooled and I sampled the scraps left over by my heart-shaped cookie cutter, I couldn't believe how YUMMY they were! I ate ALL the scraps last night, LOL. They were GOOD! But can they pass the omni test? We'll find out tonight. ;)

The recipe for these vegan treats (which is basically the same as regular rice crispy treats) is included on the Vegan Sweets Marshmallow package. If you haven't tried vegan rice crispy treats yet... what are you waiting for?!? :-)

UPDATE 2/16/08: These treats passed the omni taste test! My hubby-to-be had no clue these weren't "regular" rice crispy treats. Rice crispy treats are one of his favs. He told me these were very good... and then I did the big reveal that they're vegan! :) Yay!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hot Cocoa Mix - Veganized

"B-R-R! B-R-R!" is how my late grandfather used to greet us on a cold winter day. If he were alive, he'd definitely utter his signature phrase today... it's a balmy 17 degrees F (wind chill of 3 degrees F!) with 2 to 4 inches of snow expected throughout the afternoon and this evening. Gotta love Michigan winters. :)

But, one of the things I love about winter, aside from seeing bare trees coated with freshly fallen snow, is consuming hot cocoa! I love being at home, or in my office at work, watching the snow fall outside while I sip a warm cup of chocolate yumminess. It's easy to whip up a cup of cocoa on the stovetop when I'm home, but work poses a challenge. I need a powdered mix that I can keep in my desk drawer and make in a microwave. I had a homemade recipe for powdered hot cocoa, but I wasn't sure where to find vegan powdered creamer for the mix; I hadn't seen it in my local stores. Then while surfing the Net, I spied the non-dairy vegan creamer on, added it to my cart and anxiously awaited its arrival. Thank goodness they ship quick!

I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it originally contained non-fat powdered milk and regular non-dairy creamer. I've replaced those with the "Better Than Milk" (lite) Soy Beverage Mix and the Taam-Tov Instant Creamer for a delicious vegan hot chocolate mix that you just add hot water to. If you like your hot cocoa with spice, feel free to add some cinnamon or nutmeg to the mix. :)

Vegan Hot Cocoa Mix

1.5 cups "Better Than Milk" Soy Beverage
1.5 cups vegan sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cups Taam-Tov instant creamer

Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Store in an air-tight container. To use, place 2 or 3 tablespoons in a mug, add boiling water and stir. Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

An (almost) animal-free birthday!

My early birthday celebration with my immediate fam Saturday was great. My awesome mom made a Mexican-themed dinner that included this recipe for a vegan Mexican Layered Dip as a starter. It was delicious, everyone loved it. In addition, my mom prepared this recipe for a vegan Mexican Lasagna, which also was a hit... but I think that's mainly cuz my mom cooked up a bowl of ground beef for the omnis to top their lasagna with. :( I was saddened by this, especially since I've been reading The China Study with great interest. I don't want to dictate what others eat by any means... they can choose to eat whatever, just as I can. But, the information contained in The China Study is fascinating. I wish my fam could've went that one meal without animal products and just enjoyed the plant-based food. I'll have to blog more about The China Study once I finish the book.

Despite the ground beef, I consider myself lucky that my fam truly is supportive of my vegetarian lifestyle. My sis and her hubby bought me both Veganomicon and Eat, Drink and Be Vegan for my birthday... and my folks got me an ice cream maker, among other things. :) I think my mom just wanted her machine back cuz I've been holding it hostage for months now! ;-p

My favorite part of the birthday meal was the cake! As I mentioned previously, I chose to make my own animal-free cake for the occasion. I should mention, not only was this the first vegan cake I've made... it's the first cake ever that I've made completely from scratch! And now that I've done it, I can't imagine ever making a pre-packaged mix out of a box again. I chose to make the chocolate cake with chocolate peanut butter frosting; both recipes can be found in The Joy of Vegan Baking. The cake itself turned out awesome... but I need some work on frosting-making, LOL. I broke the golden rule... a rule I know by heart, but in my haste, I ignored it and it cost me dearly. Always, always add additional liquid to a mix in small quantities because you can always add more, yet once there is too much liquid in the mix, it's not as easy to fix. At least not for me. And, while making the frosting, I added in too much additional liquid too soon and ended up with a very soft frosting, closer to a glaze. In the end, it all tasted the same... and it tasted DEVINE in my opinion! But, I affectionately dubbed my first cake from scratch "the ugly cake" because it didn't look as pretty as it would have had I made the frosting correctly.

I usually don't post my 'failures' here on the blog, but I'm going to post my "ugly cake" photo as a reminder to myself to slow down while cooking, or I'll have to pay the consequences, LOL. Besides, we're all human and each meal we cook doesn't come out looking perfect, so I vow to post more of my "ugly" food this coming year, as well as my ideas on how to improve them. :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Crispy Potato Wedges with Mustard

Just a quick post to share this tasty potato recipe with y'all. :)

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that Fridays often mean comfort food for this veggie chick. And, because I'm currently single, cooking only for one, I can eat whatever I want for dinner... and tonight, it was potato wedges!

I spied this recipe in the New York Times recently, and since *I* love potatoes, and my omni fiance does too, I clipped it to give it a try. It was quick and relatively painless to make. I was short on time (cuz I'm baking my first vegan cake tonight!), so I used the microwave option on the first part and it turned out well. I should also mention that I halved the recipe, using only two potatoes. I like that the mustard doesn't overpower the potato, but adds a great flavor. A nice variation on oven "fries." :)
Crispy Potato Wedges With Mustard

4 large Idaho potatoes

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce potatoes with a fork and bake
them until almost cooked, about 30 to 40 minutes. (Alternatively,
microwave them on high for 6 minutes, turning them halfway through.)
Leave oven on.

2. In a large bowl, stir together mustard, olive oil, thyme, salt and
pepper. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes lengthwise into 4
wedges each. Toss wedges in mustard mixture until thoroughly coated.

3. Raise oven temperature to 500 degrees. Lay potato wedges, with one
cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes,
turning them onto other cut side after 10 minutes. Transfer to a warmed platter, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pancakes, kale and soup.... oh my!

This entry is a bit of a round-up of what I've been eating this week... last Friday turned out to be a "snow day" me. Because I work in higher education, our campus sometimes closes when the weather gets too rough. Let me tell you, it's a great feeling to receive a phone call from your boss early in the morning, telling you to go back to bed because campus will be closed. :) In celebration, I treated myself to a pancake breakfast! I chose this recipe for low-fat whole wheat pancakes over at I took their suggestion of adding fresh blueberries into the mix, and I couldn't resist adding a few more after the maple syrup had been poured. Deeeeelish!

This week, I also tried this recipe for Bean and Kale Scramble over at It was my first time--ever--having kale.... and I liked it! Maybe it just tasted so yummy because I knew this dish was low-fat AND packed with nutrients. :) I should also mention that this recipe used white beans that I made in the crockpot, which makes cooking dry beans easy! After soaking them overnight, I put the beans in the slow cooker with an onion, quartered, and some minced garlic with water to cover. Mmmmmm. I'm cooking ALL my beans in the crockpot from now on. I made a two-pound bag of dry beans, and once cooked, froze most of them in one-cup servings in the freezer. Now they'll be ready to use in future recipes. :) Many thanks to my mom for giving me the book Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, which has the recipe for cooking dry beans in the crockpot.

Another new recipe I tried this week was Susan's Dirty Little Secret Soup from her blog, Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. LOVE IT! I've had a difficult time getting into frozen veggies. My personal fav is fresh. But, frozen veggies are perfect for this soup, which is super duper easy to make. Love it, love it. I've been bringing it to work for lunch all this week... yummy. Can't wait to make more.

I'm looking forward to this weekend as I'll be celebrating my birthday (albeit a tad early, but sometimes it's hard to get everyone together) with my immediate family. The deal is, the birthday person gets to pick their choice of dinner and then we usually play games or something. My preference is usually Mexican food, and last year, my mom prepared an awesome vegetarian Mexican feast. I just found out that this year, she'll be making a vegan Mexican feast for me. I cannot wait. My mom is the best! Oh, and I'm going to be making my own birthday dessert this year, from the lovely Joy of Vegan Baking book that my sis got me for Christmas. :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Garlic Tofu @ Angel's Cafe - Ferndale, Mich.

Saturday afternoon, a friend and I lunched at a quaint cafe in a local trendy suburb--Angel's Cafe in Ferndale, Mich. I attempted to eat at this cafe once before; a vegetarian friend and I stopped by this cafe in the fall, only to find they were closed to the public due to a baby shower event. That day, we ended up walking two doors down to a music cafe which served vegan food, so all was good. Still, my interest in the Angel's Cafe was piqued and I mentioned it to my maid-of-honor as a possible bridal shower location (since I knew they did showers now) where my guests could dine on animal-friendly food! We haven't settled on a shower location yet, but when my friend, an omnivore, mentioned lunch and a movie for Saturday, it was SHE who recommended that we try the cafe. :)

At first I thought I was a jinx because I walked up to the cafe, smiled at their "open" sign hanging from the glass door and gave it a tug... nothing. The door was locked! Ugh, could I really miss two dining experiences at this little cafe?!? My friend peered into the restaurant's windows, noticed a woman in the back and gave a wave. A very nice woman greeted us, apologized for the locked door and informed us that the chef wasn't there yet. She said we were welcome to come in and wait, and said she could serve us salad or something in the meantime. We obliged. I was just happy to finally set foot in this cute, veg*n-friendly cafe! LOL

As the woman returned to our table with glasses of water, she informed us that the chef had just called in and he'd be there shortly. Looked to be our lucky day after all! And it was. The food at Angels Cafe was superb; my friend and I couldn't stop talking about it.

Though the cafe's online menu didn't match the one presented to us, it still had a nice selection of animal-free options, including a "Tofu the Way You Want It" choice in which you could order any of the chicken entrees with tofu as a substitute and sans cheese... essentially doubling the selection of vegan food at the cafe. Awesome. :)

My friend and I both decided to try the "Garlic Chicken" entree, which came with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes served over a bed of couscous... she actually ordered it with chicken while I chose to exercise the vegan tofu option. I thought it'd be interesting to compare the two dishes side-by-side. We also ordered side salads topped with the cafe's homemade vegetable dressing, which turned out to be more like a pureed veggie mix instead of runny and fattening dressing... it was extremely tasty and it's inspired me to try something similar at home with my own salads.

When our entrees arrived, my friend and I both looked from our plates to each other and smiled... our food smelled divine and looked amazing. Would it taste just as good? Ooooooh, yeah! Our food was delicious. Simple as that. We both sat there for a moment in silence, neither talking because we were too busy stuffing our face with the awesome food! My friend said it was some of the best chicken she's ever tasted, and I second that with the tofu. I love when I eat out somewhere and tofu is actually on the menu... but I love it even more when the chef actually KNOWS how to cook it! I didn't want my plate to end... I could've sat there all day eating my entree. It was that good.

Our lunch at Angel's Cafe was one of the best dining experiences I've had in awhile... the decor of the cafe was bright and welcoming. The staff was uber friendly. The food was absolutely awesome... and a steal at only $5.95 for lunch (additional $2 for a side salad). Still, $7.95 for veg*n food that good is hard to find these days. If any of my readers are ever in the Ferndale, Mich. area, Angel's Cafe on Nine Mile Road is a definite MUST-DINE location.

My fiance lives in a neighboring city of Ferndale... I'll be moving in with him come wedding time later this year, and it's comforting to know that I may have more veg*n dining options available in that area of town compared to where I am now. I know for sure I'll be dragging my omni fiance to Angel's Cafe for dinner! :)


On another note, I know it's been awhile since I've blogged... I took an unannounced hiatus as the holidays approached and I found myself with less and less time to blog. I had every intention of coming back in early January, but life happens.

It's safe to say that with all the wedding planning this coming year, I likely won't be blogging as often, but I promise to blog when I have time. My goal is going to be at least a weekly post, but I'll squeeze in more as time allows. Right now, I'm trying to lose a few pounds before I shop for a wedding dress. Subsequent posts likely will reflect that as I search for low-fat veggie recipes to try. I've been a fan of Susan's Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for awhile now, so my weight-loss effort will be a GREAT excuse to finally make all her recipes I've been drooling over for months, LOL