Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Dijon-Soy-Pepper-Agave Brussel Spouts

If you can believe it, I grew up eating frozen Brussel sprouts.  Boiled.  What's worse is I liked them!  Thankfully, VM's Brussel sprout preparation has come a long way; she now exclusively serves them roasted with evoo, salt & pepper, and chestnuts.

And then recently this recipe for soy-roasted Brussel sprouts* caught my eye and we decided to give another method a try.  The result was not a success by any stretch of the imagination, but I knew there was potential.  So, we gave it one more attempt- albeit with a few tweaks, and the result was awesome.  VM might have a new go-to sprout recipe!

Let me tell you how to both simplify and modify this recipe: turning it from meh to WOW.  Mix the peanut oil, soy sauce, dijon, and black pepper:

 Toss with your clean, halved sprouts. 

No need to get involved in all that temperature adjusting and constant stirring nonsense outlined in the original recipe.  Instead, simply lay the sprouts on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Now this is the key to the success of these sprouts: remove them from the oven, toss them, drizzle with agave, and roast for another 20 minutes at the same temperature.  Voila:

We served alongside a VM concoction of sauteed onions, corn, black-eyed peas, soy sauce (yes, more), and black pepper...

As well as a baked Japanese yam with beet horseradish.

Normally I'd say to try the recipe as is and see what you think before following my tweaks, but I cannot stress enough that our added agave step is the key.

* If you want a chuckle, read some of the preparation ideas in the comments section of the original recipe.  Omnivores and their butter!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Sorry for any fakeouts; the giveaway winner would be me: I was lucky enough to have won the giveaway on one of my favorite blogs, foodfeud.

This was particularly awesome because I really admire the eating habits documented on the foodfeud blog, many of which were the impetus behind my Eating Clean(er).  I couldn't wait to see the kinds of wonderful snacks that would be bestowed upon me; I had no idea how incredible they would actually be.

I was actually home sick the day the package arrived.  After thinking someone was trying to tunnel into my house with a pick-axe, I realized it was just the mailperson leaving me the package.  Hooray for me getting a present for being home sick!

What I am about to say might shock you, but I actually avoided the box for 2 whole days because I didn't want to risk wasting the contents while my tastebuds were compromised as a result of my still-lingering cold.  I knew that, once opened, there would be no way for me to resist.  It was a very good call; join me in admiring the bounty!

I made the conscious decision not to gorge, instead deciding to parcel out my snacks during the week in a manner that would be both non-gluttonous and more like the healthful eating of a normal healthy, vegan person.  I put everything in a special snack bin in my pantry and pulled out one or two treats to bring to work with me each day.

The first snack was one of Bobo's Oat Bars in chocolate (!).  Tasty and moist; it looked like cake, but was denser, richer, and not as obnoxious to have for breakfast/lunch as my previous day's slab of decadent, chocolate chip-packed banana bread.  It was really filling; maybe I wasn't supposed to eat the whole thing?  One package, one sitting; that's what I always say!  I was full for the rest of the workday, which was why this was breakfast/lunch. 

I have to admit that while it had an underlying cocoa flavor, I didn't see or taste any discernable chocolate in the form of chips.  Still, it was nice to know they were there.

Even though I'm an insatiable chocolate lover, Sjaak's always seems to escape my attention.  So, I was very excited to try this dark chocolate with creamy caramel bar- especially given that chocolate-covered caramels are one of my favorites.

The chocolate was better than I remembered and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the caramel was so caramel-y, considering it seems to be only brown rice syrup.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for sweets and chocolate. 

I've had earnest eats bars before because they're a vegan port in a non-vegan storm (i.e. they often sell them in ginormous food establishments where everything else is tainted with animal products).  But, as you might imagine, I have only ever tried the choco peanut butter.  Repeatedly.  So, I admit that I was a little trepidatious to try the cran lemon zest

It was amazing!  Truly.  I decided to have it for breakfast and every bite was filled with all kinds of delicious flavors and textures.  I found myself reading the ingredients wondering how a non-choco-peanut-butter could be so good.  Magic, I tell you; it was chock full of all healthy things and I really, really, really (and unexpectedly) adored it.  I even bought a box of them myself; they're already gone too...

"Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime..."  These pizza flax snax from go raw really intrigued me.  It's something that I would probably never even find in the store, so I couldn't wait to try them.  I love me a flavorful "chip", but even I know those spicy sweet chili doritos, while vegan, aren't the best snacking choice; so, I had high hopes for these snax.

As soon as I opened the bag the aromatic scent of pizza really did waft appealling out of the bag and the taste did not disappoint; it was another example of real, good, food prepared into a delicious concoction without a long ingredient list of unrecognizable chemicals.

Because I come from a long line of crunchy snack lovers, I had to make an effort not to finish the bag (don't judge me; it was lunch!) so VM could try them.  She loved them just as much as I did, so they're now on both of our shopping lists.  One question, if anyone knows: what makes these kind of crackers stick together?  Just wondering.

I happen to already be a fan of emmy's macaroons and, as luck would have it, chai spice is my favorite! 

The flavor is robust without being overly gingery (eew), and they taste just as moist, fresh and healthy as you'd expect from a raw, vegan mac. 

Speaking of ginger, I forgot to mention to foodfeud that I don't like it.  No worries, I know exactly whom to publicly re-gift these ginger candies to...

I'm not gonna lie; I love strawberry Twizzlers.  So fancy licorice like this Darrell Lea soft-eating mango liquorice is quite foreign to me.

Not to mention that the ingredients differ slightly:

When, against all indications to the contrary, you are expecting the taste & chew of plastic-y, strawberry Twizzlers, high-brow mango liquorice is quite different.  The flavor is authentically mango, but I found the texture to be most unusual: very soft and also much chewier than their mainstream counterpart.  Most entertaining, however, is how interesting they look!  I had great fun serving these to guests.

So, here's the thing.  I have been resisting Peanut Butter & Co's White Chocolate Wonderful for some time now, so when I spied it in my snack-package, I did a most-unflattering jig of delight.  Ever notice how gifts of things that you wouldn't splurge on for yourself are the best kind?

This stuff is SO GOOD.  I wanted to dip pretzels in it until I was wrist deep in the jar, but instead I just ate half of the jar a bit off of a spoon (full disclosure: what started out as one spoonful turned into many, but there's a reason I have service for 12, no?).

I realized while I was scarfing it plain that it would alternately make a great cupcake icing.  I'm not generally a fan of buttercreams, so this is another alternative to the Biscoff I'm fond of using in place of it.  I'm thinking white chocolate peanut butter banana?  Stay tuned.

And, finally: jello Natural Desserts jel dessert!  I am saving this particular treat for Father's Day, as my dad is one of the biggest jello lovers I know.

So there you have it, my thoughtful bounty from the extremely generous, foodfeud.  Check out what I sent in swap!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bigger and Better Vegan Shop-Up

I can't help it; I love the Vegan Shop-ups.  Every time I'd go to one of the Bust Craftaculars I'd find myself thinking about how awesome it would be if everything was vegan.  And, as if by magic, the Vegan Shop-Up arrived on the scene.  [UPDATE 4/27/12: Can I take credit for the upcoming Vegan Craftactular? (thanks, AK)]

Gone Pie chai nut brownie
It's hard enough to navigate these well-stocked and even more well-attended shop-ups without trying to simultaneously photographically document, so I tend to just snap a couple of shots here and there.  This is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive, photo-document of the event: just my own highlights.  In fact, the person who I assume is the official photographer of the shop-up always seems to wind up in the exact space I want to occupy, so I wholeheartedly avoid being that person with my camera; I'll defer to him for the official photo-recap.

When we turned onto Grattan, the entire area in and around the front of Pine Box was positively swarming with vegans.  There was a consistently equivalent line of customers awaiting the Cinnamon Snail's offerings.

Having just eaten, I opted for just a donut.  Just a donut?  Actually, yet another of their seemingly endless concoctions of amazingness: a chocolate cherry brownie donut to be exact.

This reminded me of the black forest cakes of my youth and I scarfed it down without offering any of my friends a bite.  Well, I did offer one bite to one friend, but I didn't really mean it!

My face sufficiently stuffed, I moved the Gone Pie table, which was conveniently located outside the entrance to Pine Box. Yep, outside. Some genius realized that it was a good idea to spread out onto the ample sidewalk in front of the bar and the set-up was excellent. Take a walk through the indoor Shop-up, come outside to unwind in the outdoor Shop-up, repeat.

Brenda Barbara!
Gluten-free galore: coconut brownies, rocky road brownies, sweet-potato corn bread, peanut butter caramel do you decide? The most important thing is that you do, or suffer the fate of my friend who found the rocky road brownies sold out.  The horror!

Inside, I did try a new (to me) item, Pelzer's Pretzels: everything flavor with a spicy beer mustard.  It was okay, but not authentically pretzely enough for my taste; perhaps because it's outta Philly and not NYC?  Give 'em a try and see what you think. 

I also picked up some Food for Lovers queso from the Vegan Bodega table, and bent his ear about some other terrific products I hope he'll consider carrying (Secret Aardvark hot sauce and Sweet Earth Chocolates mini-confections).

Because it was warm and I wasn't heading home anytime soon, I kept my purchases to a minimum.  I picked up a couple of items for a fellow blogger, and smuggled only the long-awaited, new, Gone Pie, chai nut brownie home for a nosh. 

Check out the new packaging:

As it happened, I managed to restrain myself from eating it all day, and then shared it with the esteemed tasting panel the next.

I know I say it every time I try something new, but I do think that this is my favorite Gone Pie creation.  The light chai spice, the brownie texture, and the crunch of the nuts...VM loved it so much that she wanted to comment on this blogpost before it was even written!

I have it on good authority that these goodies will be available on the Gone Pie website very soon.  Take a look around in case you'd like anything else in the meantime, and I'll let you know when the chai nut brownies are officially available.  There might even be something in it for you (wink wink)!

So there you have it: my time spent at the Vegan Shop-Up.  There was plenty more to see and do and eat; make sure to check out the next one so you don't miss anything.  See you there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vegan Yum Yum Donuts

While baking for a party recently, I figured since my kitchen was already a mess I should attempt a recipe I'd been eying for a really long time but had never gotten around to: Vegan Yum Yum's* mini donuts!

The batter came together really easily and slid into the mini donut pan without sticking to the center rod (blogger fail for not photographing this step during preparation).

I followed the directions to the letter and everything went off without a hitch; I didn't make a single note on the original recipe (except to double it, but that's always implied).

I will admit that my glaze measurements may have been a bit off, which could be why my donuts seemed to absorb the glaze rather than it just sit atop.  No worries; they still tasted fine!  I'm also not exactly sure why my sprinklez seem to have lost their color, but they also tasted good just the same.

And then I took out the big guns: chocolate!!  Vegan Treats' chocolate covered donuts are amongst my favorites of all time, so I had to give it a go.

Rather than enrobe, I chose to only dip the tops (I'm a donut novice after all), but they came out great! 

I really liked the chocolate ones the best, but I'll think about what else can be done to up the already cute donuts into stratospheric cuteness of epic proportions.  For now, though, I'll just stuff my pie donut-hole with these.

As a kid it was a treat to get a box of donuts from the Mister Donut to share for weekend breakfast; it would be great to be able to recreate all of those cruller, cake, and filled donuts.  One donut variation down, 11 to go; maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself?

*Take a look at the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scenes From A Vegan Holiday Weekend

The following images are of dishes enjoyed in celebration of both Easter and Passover (few, if any, are Kosher for Passover).

Matzoh ball soup!  I managed to acquire this early, because I had a bad cold.  Thumbs down to the cold, way up for the soup.  Fun fact: after I'd eaten my soup in advance, I completely forgot that Passover had yet to occur. 

The best grape juice in all the land:


Stuffed cabbage:


Plate 1, including roasted potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts, chestnuts, and asparagus.

Chocolate-covered matzoh!

VM's famous, chocolate-chip studded banana bread:

Plate 2 (leftovers two days later):

Leftover charoseth (can apples fermenting in Manischewitz for 3 days make you drunk at work?):

Peacefood Cafe's Asian greens salad, "seasonal baby Asian vegetables, mixed sprouts, shredded carrots, tomatoes, marinated and baked tempeh, and ground peanuts in a garlic, ginger, cilantro [you can't taste it], ponsu, and sesame dressing."  Maybe it was a result of the dehydration I was experiencing at the end (middle) of my cold that I felt like ordering a salad, but it was fantastic.

I was a little disappointed that the "Asian vegetables" seemed only to include shredded cabbage, but the overall dish was really wonderful and exactly what I felt like eating.  The inclusion of Peacefood's ubiquitous jicama was fine, but I do believe that's Mexican.  The tempeh was phenomenally prepared and the dressing unique and addictive.  Now if they could only work on their B rating... (the staff and service was slightly better than usual).

My pal's fried seitan medallion panini, "with cashew, arugula, tomatoes, and pesto" was enjoyed, but I wasn't in the mood to try it; look at me ordering the healthiest lunch at the table.

Sweet and Sara Peeps:

Toasted-coconut marshmallows:

Cinnamon Snail Mexican Hot Chocolate Donuts!

Phew; I think that's it.  Well, almost.