March, 2012

  1. vegan pumpkin cheesecake

    March 30, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is cheesecake.  You may already know that I reserve a very special corner of my heart for cheesecake.  The promise of good cheesecake is a reason to keep on living in this cruel world.  I’m kind of joking.

    Probably because I respect cheesecake so much, I have never tried to make one before.  For this challenge, I made a vegan version.  Without the cream cheese and eggs, it’s not a true cheesecake and it doesn’t taste like one either.  It is delicious in its own right though.  If I was to serve this to traditional cheesecake afficionados, I think I would bill it as “vegan pumpkiny pie” or something because it really is more of a pumpkin pie-esque, unique, tasty treat than a cheesecake.

    I followed this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen with very few changes.  I left out the orange zest and skipped the marbleization step and the pecan crunch topping.  I found 100% whole wheat vegan (if you’re not worried about honey) graham crackers at Publix called Mi-Del which I used to make the graham cracker crust.  I made the crust and began soaking the cashews in water the day before.  With that out of the way, it came together pretty quickly.

    Homemade graham cracker crust.  Check out my new springform pan!

    The whole gang of filling ingredients.

    Looking kinda wild in the food processor.

    Filling is mixed and loaded onto the crust.  Ready for the oven.

    It cracked a little but I still think it’s pretty handsome.

    Our friends came over for dinner last night and really liked this dessert.  They even took some home with them.  Success – yay!


  2. vegan buttercream frosting

    March 23, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is to master the basic piping technique for decorating with frosting.  I definitely did no “mastering” but I did make some tasty vegan frosting.  My cupcakes are a tad on the homely side but I think I deserve an A for effort.  Right?

    I made the Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I must confess, I don’t think these taste very good.  Perhaps I used a gross soy yogurt?  I don’t know, but I will probably not bake these again considering there are definitively amazing baked goods to be made.  And eaten.  The frosting, however, is pretty delicious.  Here’s the recipe.

    Ingredients:

    1/4 c Earth Balance margarine, room temperature (the stick kind is best)
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 scant tbsp unsweetened soy milk
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar

    Directions:
    1. Beat the room temperature Earth Balance in a medium-sized bowl with a hand mixer.
    2. Add in the vanilla extract, soy milk, and salt.  Beat until mixed together.
    3.  Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar in batches.  Keep beating until it’s all mixed together.  Then beat some more until it’s nice and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes).

    I tried out the star decorating tip on those cupcakes.

    R & A: Some frosting writing.

    Andddd…I gave up and spooned the frosting onto the rest of the cupcakes.

    Shout out to Mom and Dad! Thanks for the mini cupcake pans <3


  3. lentil soup with spinach

    March 21, 2012 by Angie

    Cute Husband loves this soup!  Slow cooking it all day gives the lentils a great texture and really lets all the flavors blend together.  More reasons to love it: it’s easy, you can make it ahead of time, and you don’t have to turn on the oven, keeping the kitchen nice and cool.

    Adapted from Robin Robertson’s “Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale” recipe in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

    Lentil Soup with Spinach

    Ingredients:

    olive oil
    1 yellow onion, chopped
    2 celery ribs, chopped
    2 carrots, chopped
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    1 1/4 c dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
    6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
    1 tbs reduced-sodium soy sauce
    salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    3 oz fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

    Instructions:

    1.  Chop the onion, celery, and carrots.


    2.  Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan with a lid.  Add the minced garlic, onion, celery, and carrots.  Place the lid on the pan and cook for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
    3.  While the vegetables are cooking, pick over and rinse the dried lentils.  Pour the lentils, vegetable stock, and soy sauce into your slow cooker.
    4.  Add the softened vegetables to the slow cooker.
    5.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir all the soup to mix everything up nicely.  Cover the slow cooker and turn it on low.  Let the soup cook for 8 hours.  If I’m home, I like to stir the soup once every couple of hours to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom as my slow cooker runs a little hot.

    After about five hours of slow cooking.

    6.  Right before serving the soup, tear the stems off of the spinach leaves and stir the leaves into the soup.  They will wilt quickly.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and serve.


  4. wedding scrapbook

    March 21, 2012 by Angie

    I finally finished our wedding scrapbook!  I gave myself a deadline of our first anniversary. Made it with a couple weeks to spare!

    Photos of photos never come out so great but here are some shots of my favorite pages anyway because I’m just oh so psyched that it’s completed.

    Big thanks to Cute Husband for helping me deal with the post-bound situation to get the book assembled correctly.  Also, many thanks to Danielle for the scrapbooking gifts.  The wedding-themed stickers and punchouts came in handy and I can’t wait to start scrapbooking our honeymoon in Paris with the awesome travel book and CD she got me.


  5. three-bean chili

    March 15, 2012 by Angie

    I had already decided to bake vegan cornbread muffins for this week’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge.  What goes better with cornbread muffins than chili?  The answer is nothing. Therefore…chili.

    I followed the recipe from the ever-fabulous cookbook by Robin Robertson, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  I really can’t recommend this book enough.  I am a big fan of every recipe I’ve made from it.  In case you’re not motivated to buy it or check it out from your library, a kind Internet person has typed out the recipe for you here.  I followed it without variation up until the chive-flecked dumplings part where I closed the book and made cornbread muffins instead.


  6. cornbread muffins

    March 15, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s challenge from Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking is to bake with a savory ingredient.  Vegan cornbread muffins it is!

    I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen.  Reading the comments I saw that she cautions against using a glass pan to bake the cornbread.  The pans I own in that size range are glass so that’s why I made muffins.

    They turned out great in the muffin pan. True to Isa’s description, this cornbread is of the dense, sturdy variety.  If sweet, cakey cornbread is your style, I would go with a different recipe.

    We ate these along side vegan slow-cooked chili.  A hearty and delicious meal!


  7. pasta primavera

    March 14, 2012 by Angie

    I wanted to eat a ton of vegetables so I made this for dinner last night.  It was really good but next time I’ll go easier on the asparagus per Cute Husband’s request.  Also, I’ll add much more basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and add cheese right into the vegetable mixture in the pan.  I found myself sprinkling an absurd amount of these things onto my plate as I was eating because I wasn’t liberal enough with them during the cooking phase.

    Ingredients:
    3 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 tbsp minced garlic
    1/4 c green onion
    4 oz asparagus
    2 medium zucchini
    3 small yellow squash
    2 tomatoes on the vine (or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
    about 1 oz spinach
    1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
    3/4 c vegetable broth
    1/2 c unsweetened soy milk
    dried basil, to taste
    dried parsley, to taste
    garlic powder, to taste
    sea salt, to taste
    freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 box of Dreamfields linguine
    grated Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, or grated soy cheese to sprinkle on top (I used freshly grated Parmesan and some powdery Parmesan-Romano cheese.)

    Instructions:
    1.  Wash, trim, and chop the veggies.  Finely mince the garlic and green onion.  You can leave the asparagus pretty large.  Chop the zucchini and yellow squash in the matchstick style.  Snap the stems off of the spinach but do not chop.

    2.  Meanwhile, prepare the box of Dreamfields linguine according to the package directions.

    3.  Heat some olive oil in a largish pan on medium heat.  Add the vegetables in the order listed in the ingredients beginning with the garlic and finishing with the tomatoes (we’ll add the spinach later).  Allow each ingredient to cook for a a minute or three before adding the next.

    4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture in the pan.  Stir to coat the vegetables and cook for about a minute.

    5.  Stir the vegetable stock and soy milk into the vegetable mixture.  Bring it to a boil then turn the burner to low and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 more minutes.

    6.  Add the spinach to the milky vegetables and stir until the spinach is wilted.

    7.  Add basil, parsley, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    8.  Pour the milky vegetable mixture into the drained pasta pot.  Mix them up to coat the pasta.

    9.  Serve and top with grated cheese or nutritional yeast.  Yay!


  8. crusty, fresh-baked bread

    March 7, 2012 by Angie

    The theme for Week 10 of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is something inspired by a book, movie, or TV show.  The only thing that came to me was Turkish Delights from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I don’t think I want to eat that.  I recently finished reading A Game of Thrones and remember a lot of detailed food descriptions.  I did some Googling and whatdoyaknow there is an entire A Game of Thrones cookbook!  I followed this recipe for crusty, fresh-baked bread.  I was a little scared since I’ve never baked real bread before (only quick breads and pizza dough) but the fear was unwarranted: the recipe was easy and the resulting loaves of bread are marvelous!

    I used the author’s tip for making the bread crusty.  I filled my glass brownie pan with water and placed that on the bottom rack in the oven during baking.  It really worked!  I didn’t think I would be able to make such deliciously crusty bakery-style bread.

     


  9. fancy grilled cheese

    March 6, 2012 by Angie

    Poor Cute Husband is recovering from wisdom teeth surgery so no elaborate meals were eaten this weekend.  While Robbie dined on Boost and baby food, I made myself a fancy grilled cheese.  You may say “it’s just a grilled cheese sandwich” but I promise you it was delicious enough to qualify for inclusion here.

    This beauty is comprised of two slices of Arnold’s Healthfull Flax and Fiber bread, one slice of reduced fat Swiss cheese, tomato, red onion, and spinach in the middle, and a few chunks of extra sharp cheddar to act as the cheese glue for the other side.  I sprayed a pan with olive oil spray and made sure to smoosh the sandwich down with a spatula several times while it heated up.

    I promise to make one for you as soon as you can chew, Robbie!


  10. stovetop vegan mac & cheese

    March 1, 2012 by Angie

    For dinner last night, I tried a new vegan mac & cheese recipe from vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli of Cupcake Wars fame.  You can see the full recipe over at her site.

    It is A LOT less time-consuming than the version I usually make.  It comes together very quickly with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.  It’s very easy, creamy, and yummy, but not quite as special as the baked one.  Use Dreamfields elbows for the macaroni for a lower-carb dinner.  Definitely worth trying!