Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celebrate Vegan (part 1)

Once again, I was honoured to recipe test for Dynise Balcavage for her new cookbook Celebrate Vegan.

Here's a sampling of what I made from the book. 

Lemon-Champagne-Braised Baby Bok Choy

Pan-Seared Tofu with Basil-Balsamic Glaze

Seitan with Quince, Apple and Onion
If you've never had quince, do yourself a favour and try it. It's very nice. I can usually find it in select grocery stores starting around the end of October. They don't hang around for long and usually by the end of November it's bye-bye.

Rutabaga-Fennel Clapshot

Leftover Rutabaga-Fennel Clapshot made into patties

Good Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

 Sicilian-Inspired Kale
This was one of my favourite recipes. Raisins and nuts send kale to heights like it's never known. Here I have it served over some brown rice, but I quite often make it just as a vegetable side.

Orange-Soy Seitan Tenders

Ramen Noodle Bowl
A gazillion times better than that chemically packaged stuff. And not really a whole lot of work involved in this either.

Potato Kugel

Lemon-Olive Tempeh Tagine
I've been working hard on liking tempeh, but there have only been a couple of times where the recipe has made it tasty for me. This is one of them!

Summer Squash and Applesauce Muffins

Pomegranate Cosmo
What's a celebration without some cocktails?

Italian Mojito
Another one of my favourite tests. Refreshingly delicious!

The classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter make these very appealing. This was one of Jim's favourites. He polished off most of the batch.

Limoncello Cupcakes
Hands down the best lemon-y cake I've ever had.

Blueberry Pie

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Are you interested in checking out Dynise's book yet? You should be!! I've got more pictures to share with you, so stay tuned. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Soup And A Sandwich

Even though we've had an unusually warm winter so far, once the sun goes down, it gets a little chilly. What better way to warm yourself up than with a hot bowl of soup. I was craving roasted red pepper and tomato, so I got to work.

First, the peppers. If you never roasted peppers before, don't be intimidated. It's easy! Just wash, remove stems, core & seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper so it's a quick clean up. Put the peppers under the broiler and leave for 10-20 minutes or until the skins are blistered and black. You can then either put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool, or put them into a paper bag, fold the top over to close and let cool. This traps the steam and aids in removing the skins. You can also roast peppers on your barbecue and I've heard that if you have a gas stove, you can just do them over the flame. I might be wary of this method because as the peppers cook, they get soft and squishy and might fall apart. Then you've got a mess to clean up.

The tomatoes are done in the same fashion, only cut side up.

Here's my pot after it's finished simmering. The addition of onions, carrots and vegetable broth make it super yummy!

An immersion blender makes puréeing the soup a snap. If you don't have one, a blender works just fine. You may have to do it in batches though to get a nice smooth consistency.

Add some salt and pepper to taste and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, basil sprigs, whatever you think will make a nice presentation. This soup is soooo good. Elegant, fresh and quite rich tasting.

For the sandwich portion of the meal, I used a recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis. I really enjoy her show Everyday Italian and I saw her make this on an episode quite some time ago. She used regular salami, but I knew I could recreate it with Yves Veggie Salami Slices. This is a croissant panini with smoked gouda, parmesan, the salami slices and arugula.

I don't have a panini press, so I used my George Foreman grill which worked just fine. The cheese gets all melty gooey and it tastes fantastic. I've made these a few times and we always enjoy them. You can find the recipe here.

Even Simon agrees that this whole meal looks & sounds tasty!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hopefully, A Return

Hey bitches!! I had some family members over the weekend mention this blog and how I haven't posted for so long. It got me to thinking that I should pick it up again. I know, I know....how many times have we visited blogs that have been dormant for a while, then read a post saying "I'm back!" and then nothing. I've got my fingers crossed that I don't fall into that category. (BTW, it's very hard to type with crossed fingers).

Here's something I made the other night that I've been making for years - Spicy Sausage and Potatoes. I can't even remember where I picked up the recipe (which I will include at the end of the post), but it was a loooong time ago. Back then, I was a meat eater and used Italian sausages. Now I use either Tofurky Sweet Italian Sausages or Yves Spicy Italian Sausages and I find they work just perfectly.

Add peppers and onions and this dish has it goin' on! It's done all in one pan, so less dishes to wash.

Another thing I've been making for a long time and is a total comfort dessert for me is gingerbread. It might seem kind of old fashioned, but it's shouldn't! Tasty doesn't go out of style.

I use my mother's recipe and this cake always comes out moist with wonderful warming spices. I substituted blended soft tofu for the eggs and I find it makes my baked goods even more moist. Try it! This can be topped with whipped cream or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

A nice little cocktail to finish off is something called Chocolate Covered Cherry. I discovered it in an old LCBO drink mix booklet and it is divine! It's got a pretty pink hue and it does taste like a chocolate covered cherry. 

This is so yummy, it can even be dessert on it's own. It's very simple to make: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 1 oz. clear (also known as white) crème de cacao, 1½ oz. cherry brandy, 2 oz. milk. Shake fairly vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. You can garnish it with cherry if you like.

1-2 tbsp. olive or safflower oil
1 pkg. veggie Italian sausages of your choice, cut into 1” pieces
10 small new potatoes, quartered*
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves 
1 cup sliced red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 red or green pepper, cut into 1” pieces 
Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet and add sausage. Sauté until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add the potatoes, pepper and thyme to the pan (and add more oil if needed) and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are browned (10-12 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until potatoes are tender (8-10 minutes).  Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the reserved sausage, and continue cooking, uncovered until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
*I will quite often use left over potatoes in this dish that I cut into decent sized chunks. You can then skip the step where you have to cover the potatoes and cook until tender.