Vegan MoFo Day 16 – Your Typical Weeknight Meal. . .

. . . If your typical Monday brings you home at 3:00pm and you don’t have to be back at work until 11:00am the following day. Maybe this isn’t so “typical.” The in-progress title that I chose to go without: Clusterfuck Pizza. Because the toppings are just a little on the random side.

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My main motive for this pizza (besides pizza being the best ever meal), is that I wanted to bake. I wanted to bake something nice and yeasty. The fact I have new-to-me Vegan Pizza was a smaller factor.

My current flour stock has a whole wheat to all purpose ratio of about five to one. I have nearly-full bags of whole wheat and white whole wheat flour, plus about half a bag’s worth of whole wheat pastry. I only have half a bag’s worth of white flour, which I use a lot more of. . . obviously. So a crust that’s whole wheat to white in a ratio of 2-1 is just perfect for what I have. Enter the whole white wheat crust! Tasty, and it barely even looks different than a white crust.

My only complaint on this recipe is. . . No knead? Really? I tried using a fork as directed, but after about half of the flour was incorporated, I found it necessary to knead the dough to get the rest of the flour in. I’m not complaining – I love to knead. But I can see someone expecting a hands-free crust getting a little frustrated.

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I flipped through the book for appetizing combinations but nothing really caught my fancy, so instead I went to my fridge for inspiration. My last pizza had been straight-up veggie and while that’s fine, I was craving a more meaty pizza. Enter seitan – I’m pretty sure it’s the Isa Does It simmered seitan, but I rotate between so many that I could be wrong. I let it marinate in liquid smoke and “pizza seasoning” – it gave it a flavor that was a mix between pepperoni and italian suasage (my favorite pairing!). For veggies, I used spinach, black olives, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh (seeded) jalapeno.

Un-pictured because sauces make for boring pictures: the red sauce from the book (using both the oil and tomato paste variations) and an impromptu cheeze sauce made with leftover Toffutti, silken tofu, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil.

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Here’s my little pizza ready to go. I sprayed the crust with oil before topping to prevent the sauce from absorbing – a little “trick” that I find to be necessary 99% of the time. Cornmeal and a pizza stone: also beneficial (though a cookie sheet will still make decent enough pizza in a pinch).

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Here it is fresh out of the oven. Yummy! I was shocked (and happy) to see that the Tofutti sauce browned, bubbled, and formed a skin! It still wasn’t as good as cashew creme, but if you’re out of cashews. . . Do what you need. This was a nice alternative, but not “perfect” – so no recipe.

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Here you have the one and only photogenic slice. I was impatient and cut into the pizza immediately after it came out of the oven. Yeah, um. If you like pizza to be pretty and not a mushy mess. . . Don’t do that.

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Vegan MoFo Day 15 – Cast Iron Skillet en Flambé

I had my first kitchen fire!

Am I proud of this? Hardly. Am I amused by it? Oh, yes.

It started out innocently enough. I was making the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl from Isa Does It and trying my best to multitask. The cast iron pan was heating to a high heat, the sauce was done and kept on a low heat to keep warm. The rice was all but done and I tossed my greens in to steam a little. Oh, did I mention that the pan had been “preheating” since the other ingredients started?

Yeah, that was stupid of me. As soon as I added oil, the whole pan caught on fire. It was, to say the least, startling. And unlike my “clever” little title, it wasn’t a legitimate reason for fire. Alcohol catching fire? Cooking! Oil catching fire? Disaster! But apparently screaming “OH MY GOD!” attracts attention, even if there is Sunday night football. So nothing got damaged in the end. . . Not even the pan, since it was cast-iron and not Teflon! Not even my face or hair, even though I have horrible posture and the flame shot at least a foot in the air!

Also, I think I’m finally getting in the swing of things, blogging-wise. After everything calmed down and the pan was running under cool water to cool off, my first thought was, “Damn, I wish I caught a picture!” But I guess an in-tact kitchen is more important than an exciting blog. I guess.

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After the pan was brought to a safe high heat, I fried up my tofu cubes and got to work on the bowl. Don’t those cubes look perfect?

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Best tofu I ever made. And that sauce, oh my god! So tasty! I didn’t shop for this dish, but rather flipped to the recipe when deciding what to do with some tofu that was getting close to turning. I had most everything on hand, all but the kale and the ginger. Kale I changed out for spinach – easy. Ginger was tricky. . .I didn’t have it fresh/frozen, and I didn’t even have the powder that you use for pies and stuff! What I did have was pumpkin pie spice. It worked better than you might think! The sauce was amazingly flavorful and won over meat-eaters. Yay, Isa Does It!

Vegan Mofo Day 14 – Earth Balance (Vegan Cheddar Flavor) Squares

Plenty of people have reviewed these crackers already, and I am aware that I am some months late on the band wagon. I hadn’t purchased these yet because while I did enjoy the odd cheese cracker before going vegan, it isn’t something that I miss too much. I didn’t find myself craving them regularly, like cheese puffs or boxed macaroni. So while I was curious, I couldn’t motivate myself to purchase crackers that were nearly a dollar per ounce at the local Whole Foods.

What made me change my mind? A sale bringing them down to a mere four-fifty per box? (Have you ever seen Whole Foods’ sales? Silliness.) Shop lifting? A charitable donation?

Try the 99 Cents Only store. I found myself in this store this week because money is extremely tight for us right now while we work out some debt. I figured we’d buy what we could there and figure out what’s left for food after the bills. Not a bad plan, right?

The 99 cents store is actually pretty awesome. If you haven’t been and your frame of reference is The Dollar Tree, trust me when I say it is nearly fifty times better, food-wise. Sure, there aren’t any mini jars of Just Mayo, but isn’t that Dollar Tree’s one vegan selling point? The only one? 99 cents store is like a tiny Grocery Outlet. In addition to regular offerings like cheap-tasting bread and processed “cheese product,” they have factory rejects and overstock out the ying-yang. And unlike the overstock at Grocery Outlet, everything is a dollar. It’s really hit or miss, shopping there. Once I found Silk yogurts and Enjoy Life cereal. Once I found Earth Balance cheese puffs (and bought eight bags). Often times I find nothing special, but a few decent items. Friday I found Earth Balance crackers.

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Sorry, Earth Balance, but one dollar for a 6 oz box is more my budget. In a lapse of logic, I bought five. I quite literally bought five for the price of one. (Wasn’t the idea to NOT spend five dollars on cheese crackers?)

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I was shocked when I opened the bag. They smelled just like a box of freshly-opened Cheez-its.

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As for the flavor. . . they’re alright. They’rd oddly sweet, and don’t have the grease and salt that I miss from the Nabisco treats. I’m kind of glad I didn’t pay a steep price, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by the five boxes. I might try making crusted tofu/seitan, or maybe doing a casserole. Cheese-cracker baked mac and cheese, anyone?

Vegan MoFo Day 13 – Breakfast Food Has Many Uses

One thing you should all know about me: I am addicted to a few sitcoms. When I get addicted to sitcoms, I quote things at stupid times. My latest obsession has been Parks and Rec, and don’t think for one minute that it’s been off the hook, quote-wise.

Favorites:

  • “Give me all of the ________ you have. I’m afraid you heard, ‘give me a lot of _____.’ What I said was, ‘give me all of the _____ you have.” Item changed by situation. Sometimes I even say the real “bacon and eggs,” though I obviously eat neither.
  • “Oh, you beautiful tropical fish.”
  • “LITERALLY. . . ” not more than usual or anything, but I use Chris’ tone every damn time. Do you remember this year’s shark week commercial? “So. . . sharky. . .”? LITERALLY the weirdest commercial I’ve ever seen. Except for all the product placement in Wayne’s World I’M SORRY I’M SORRY!!!
  • The Pit
  • And best of all. . . “Hey baby, if you’re going in the kitchen, can you make me pancakes real quick?”

Like, I’m not kidding. Every time my boyfriend goes to the kitchen or is even remotely near it, I will find an opportunity. Yesterday, he obliged.

!!!!!!

Not mine!!

Yes, I have the best boyfriend in the world. I was feeling crampy and icky, and he made me feel 102101230x better with pancakes!

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The recipe was none other than the famous Puffy Pillow Pancakes. These are seriously the best pancakes I’ve ever had – vegan or no. And they’re very easy to make! I’ve made them so many times that I actually summarized the Isa Does It version onto my print-out home “cookbook.” You know, so I can wipe the page covers clean and not ruin my gorgeous book any more than necessary. That’s how much I use it.

I thought of being creative with fruit, peanut butter, or even chocolate. But before I could make any suggestions, they were delivered to me the old-fashioned way: with “butter” and flavored corn syrup. Yum.

To be fair, I wasn’t entirely lazy. The day before, I spent my day off doing this:

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When our stuff used to look like THIS:

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And I actually spared you quite a bit of gory details. I left out any and all detail shots that could have traumatized. It wasn’t just that everything was messy, it was out and out dirty. See the bathtub ring? Imagine that but everywhere. And not all dead skin and soap particles, but also dust and food and god-knows-what-else. I set out to clean the whole house and this took most of the day! Yuck.

I’ve only blogged 8/13 days so far. That’s not the best – but I have drafts now! YAY, productivity!

VeganMoFo Day 30 – This is The End!

So I guess this is it. I didn’t really do what I set out to do, but that’s okay. The point is, I kept up with blogging through the whole month, even if it wasn’t as frequently as I would have liked. No, I didn’t have a theme. No, I didn’t post more than a single recipe. But overall, I’m satisfied. I blogged. I did it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the strength or motivation to give a good send off. I have drafts galore with all the things I could review, walk through, etc. But I don’t want to. My personal life has basically been turned upside down and I need to focus a bit more on picking up the pieces.

Today was so hectic, I haven’t had anything more than a single mini-donut. It was pumpkin and delicious, but yeah. That’s it. I’m not exactly in the right place to be blogging about food.

So enjoy this picture of food that I ate recently and didn’t particularly enjoy. Don’t look at the background if you’re easily offended by drawings of dead fish.

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Sushi Lover fried tofu with tempura sauce. I love Sushi Lover and this was quite the treat with OH, but plain fried tofu is hardly my cup of tea.  Based on the wording on the menu, it sounded like it would be a tofu roll. C’est la vie. At least I can leave you with a picture, without irritating my appetite!

P.S.: The VeganMoFo “challenge” (if you will) did leave me the motivation to really get my blog going. I’m thinking of posting at least twice a week, with something like Savory Mondays and Sweet Fridays.

The Betty Crocker Project and the more famous, less vegan Julie/Julia project have given me the idea to do something similar, since I want to know how to cook, but I hardly have the varied experience. “Why do you have a food blog?” you may be asking. Good question. To learn!

I’m thinking if I do this, I’ll tackle Veganomicon, and I’ll do it as a new year’s resolution. Stay tuned!

VeganMoFo Day 27 – My Apologies to Daiya

I was wrong.

I was wrong about everything. Thank you, Tofurky, for showing me the light.

It showed me the light so hard that I gobbled it up. I didn’t’ take any pictures. None. It went straight down our gullets. Thank you. Thank you thank you THANK YOU.

The box is the garbage.

It was just SO GOOD. It was like cheap pizza, like Tony’s. But in an AMAZING way. I think my issue with fake cheeze/pizza is that it tries to be fancy if you say, make it at home, or order it in a parlor. This was trying to be cheap tasting. And there was so much spicy pepperoni to very little cheeze. I was just in HEAVEN.

If you haven’t yet, you need to EAT THIS. EAT IT. SERIOUSLY.

Down it with a pint of ice cream for extra PMS-ready goodness.

VeganMoFo Day 26 – Eclectic Noms

I officially can’t make it to twenty posts for the month. Oops. To be fair, I’m doing alright for having a) not planned ahead b) not signed up for the actual event. So ha!

I have nothing prepared today. Sooner rather than later, I plan on making pumpkin cheesecake tarts (in mini-graham cracker crusts)!  Sooner rather than later, I’m hoping to receive my Earth Balance coupons. So that will be fun. And I have been cooking. . . I just haven’t been writing things down. I’m in that end of the month, must-use-all-the-old-stuff stage. The old stuff isn’t quite enough to do on its own, so I’m combining with the new. It’s yielding tasty results, but everything is being eyed and it would be silly to measure anything. So enjoy the eclectic noms for now.

Take out sushi from none other than my precious Sushi Lover! Avocado and sesame seeds topping a tempura veggie roll. YUM. I did without the “wasabi” and ginger.

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The much less fancy, but much more work friendly. . . Gardein sliders! Gardein’s “I’m meat-free” subtitle always amuses me in that the product might be free of meat. . . but it’s also apparently sentient. Hee hee.
I don’t much like the excessive onion taste in these, but it’s nice to have a backup work snack that is not an Amy’s burrito or oriental Top Ramen. Meh.  (Sidenote: I’ve yet to check in store, but according to the ingredients and my amateur knowledge, the chili flavor might also be vegan?)

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Two nights ago I threw in some fried Smart Dogs and frozen broccoli into a ??? mac and cheeze from scratch. Whole wheat shells with a roux of whole wheat flour and Smart Balance light, some almond milk, nooch, spicy brown mustard, siracha, Go Veggie cream cheese, and cheddar Follow Your Heart shreds. Yum. . . and more importantly, an amazing way to use up ingredients I didn’t like and couldn’t find much use for, transforming them into something not only edible, but quite tasty!

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It finally started to cool down here, so last night I made OH and I some hot cocoa from scratch. The last of my almond/coconut milk went with some additional almond milk, some soy creamer, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and a touch of pre-made hot cocoa powder. The almond/coconut and hot cocoa powder were sweetened, so I only needed about 1/2tsp of agave to balance it out. Topped it with Dandies marshmallows (only one for me, chopped as below). It was awesome – tasted remarkably like dairy cocoa in texture, and the obviously non-dairy flavors from the milk only enhanced the flavor! It tasted a lot like when you add Steven’s brand cocoa to dairy milk, if memory serves correctly.

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We followed the cocoa up with The Vegan Stoner’s Rice Balls. Because the Vegan Stoner is incapable, these did not disappoint! HOWEVER, it was extremely annoying trying to form the balls without the rice sticking all over your hand. This is the only ball I could photograph without the filling spilling out.

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I hope to try something more exciting for tomorrow. In the meantime. . . As Tigger would say, “TTFN – Tata for now!”