November, 2012

  1. Thanksgiving 2012

    November 28, 2012 by Angie

    People tend to be curious about what vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving so here’s a quick rundown of what we had at Thanksgiving Part 1 at my parents’ house. That’s right, there was a Thanksgiving Part 2. We are very committed to this holiday but there was wine at Part 2 in SoFlo and thus I kinda forgot to take photos.

    We started off with baked Brie served on Triscuits or lentil chips topped with chardonnay wine jelly from the best cheese shop this side of France, Cheese Please. I didn’t get a photo of that either – wahhh. We also had some spinach phyllo triangles to start.

    On the plate here is corn on the cob (obviously), tofu vegetable pot pie, apple and onion stuffing a la Rachel Ray, Mom’s wonderful sweet potato casserole, and homemade cranberry sauce.

    Glorious.

    Tofu veggie pot pie with a puff pastry crust

    Apple & onion stuffing and Mom’s sweet potato casserole

    It wasn’t even a week ago and I’m ready to do it again! My wish is for never-ending Thanksgiving leftovers and a lightning fast metabolism.


  2. spinach phyllo triangles

    November 28, 2012 by Angie

    These take some time to make but they’re really popular and tasty appetizers. I make them a few days before, freeze them, and bring them to Thanksgiving every year. The phyllo dough is finicky but if you keep it covered while you work it’s not so bad.

    Makes about 36 spinach phyllo triangles.

    Ingredients

    1/2 package (one sleeve) of phyllo dough, thawed
    olive oil
    1 cup onion, diced
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    2 10 oz packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    2 tsp oregano
    8 oz crumbled feta cheese
    2 oz shredded parmesan cheese
    freshly ground pepper
    around 4-6 tbsp melted butter (I use Smart Balance.)

    Steps

    1. Take the phyllo dough and frozen spinach out of the freezer to thaw. You’ll almost definitely have to defrost the spinach in the microwave because it’s an ice block.

    2. Squeeze as much liquid as you can from the spinach.

    3. Dice an onion.

    4. In a deep frying pan, heat the olive oil. Saute the diced onion and minced garlic. When that looks good add in the spinach and oregano and cook until the spinach is warm. Add ground pepper to taste.

    5. Remove the spinach mixture from the heat. Stir the cheeses into it.

    6. Now the filling is ready and it’s time to set up your phyllo triangle assembly station. Melt some butter in the microwave – you can start with 2 or 3 tablespoons.

    7. Put a layer of damp paper towels down on your work surface, I use a cutting board. On top of that place a layer of plastic wrap then your sheets of phyllo dough. Cover them with another plastic wrap/damp paper towel situation to keep the phyllo dough from drying out while you’re working.

    8. Take one sheet of phyllo dough out and brush it with melted butter. Repeat by stacking two more sheets of phyllo dough with butter brushed on top of each. Cut through all three layers longways to make five or six long, thin strips.

    9. Spoon a small amount of spinach mixture at the bottom of each of the thin strips. Fold it over like a flag to make a triangle shape enclosing the spinach mixture inside. Brush with melted better and place it on a prepared cookie sheet.

    10. Once you’ve constructed all of your triangles you can freeze them if you want to have them on hand for the holidays or you can bake them up right away. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375.

    I got 36 triangles from this recipe and stacked them between parchment paper in this Tupperware.

     


  3. Louisiana-style sweet potato casserole

    November 22, 2012 by Angie

    Week 47’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is sweet potatoes. My mom makes the best sweet potato casserole! I already made a vegan sweet potato casserole earlier this year for the gluten-free challenge. It really doesn’t compare to the Southern version my mom makes for Thanksgiving every year so I cheated a little by submitting hers for the challenge. I cooked/baked a lot of other stuff for today and I’m bringing an amazing recipe to people’s lives so I don’t feel too bad about it. I do, however, regret not eating more sweet potato casserole.

     

    Mmmm, brown sugar topping.

    Mom uses a recipe from a cookbook of New Orleans dishes called La Bonne Cuisine. Here it is!

    Ingredients

    1 (2 pound 14 ounce) can sweet potatoes
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup margarine
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup evaporated milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    TOPPING:
    1/3 cup margarine
    1/4 cup light brown sugar
    1/2  cup flour
    1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

    Directions

    In a saucepan over low heat stir the sweet potatoes until thoroughly heated.  Remove from heat and cream well.  In a bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and add the mixture to the potatoes.  Pour the mixture into a pie pan.  In a small saucepan melt the margarine and add the remaining topping ingredients.  Pour the topping over the potatoes.  Bake the casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Serves 4-6.

    There it is hanging out by the cranberry sauce.

  4. blueberry halava

    November 19, 2012 by Angie

    This week’s 52 Weeks of Baking Challenge is Asian desserts. I am lucky to be a member of the Gator Nation (“Go cure cancer!”) and as such I frequently enjoyed the extremely delicious and inexpensive Krishna Lunch offered every weekday at the Plaza of the Americas on the University of Florida campus. My favorite dessert the Hare Krishnas make is their halava. They make a few varieties but always with some chunks of fruit inside. I made my very favorite one for this challenge: blueberry halava.

    I followed this recipe I found online. I halved it which might be part of the problem. I also suspect I burned some of the semolina. All in all, mine is good but it would have to be at least twice as sweet and buttery to rival Krishna Lunch greatness. I need to attempt to make their spaghetti and kofta balls next, mmmmmm.


  5. sweet and pungent tofu

    November 19, 2012 by Angie

    Bobbie Hinman’s cookbook The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes is the first really great vegetarian cookbook I ever owned. I’ve made her recipe for sweet and pungent tofu many times since getting the book in college. I made it last night after a long hiatus. It’s still delicious.

    My favorite part of making it is at the end when all the ingredients are in the pot and as I stir the cornstarch kicks in and makes everything stick together in a wonderful way. It’s really good by itself or over udon noodles. Apparently it was included in another of her cookbooks and a kind Internet person has typed it out for your convenience here. Enjoy!


  6. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

    November 17, 2012 by Angie

    During our fantastic trip to Colorado this past week, we took a tour to Rocky Mountain National Park. We went with a company called the Colorado Sightseer and were guided by a knowledgeable Colorado native named Tom. Tom picked us up at our hotel in Denver and drove us through Boulder and into the town of Estes Park near one of the entrances to the park. We stopped to admire a big herd of wild elk who had taken over this golf course.

    That’s a lot of elk.

    I wanted to pet them but Robbie talked me out of trying to do that.

    We stopped to take photos with our tour-mates at this nice sign with a nice view.

    Once inside the park we went to see the alluvial fan. Tom was full of information and explained that there was a terrible flood in 1982 when an earthen dam failed. The nearby town of Estes Park was flooded and the force of the water moved huge boulders and trees and everything else around down into the valley. The array of flood debris (mostly rocks) is still visible thirty years later.

    Alluvial fan

    It was quite cold and windy in the park but the sun was shining.

    This is looking back at the walkway to the alluvial fan trail with some mountains behind it.

    Even most of the waterfall water was frozen.

    Next Tom took us up higher into the mountains so we could look out at peaks and over Moraine Park. Longs Peak is one of those I think but I can’t say for sure which one.

    Mountain Robgeleen

    You can see some snow!

    And for our last stop in the park, we walked around the beautiful, frozen Sprague Lake. It was so quiet and peaceful there – definitely our favorite view.

    There was a whole gang of snow by the lake.

    Check out these colorful fish swimming in the frozen lake.

    After the park we ate lunch at a pizzeria in Estes Park. The pizza wasn’t very good so no photos of that. There were a lot of things in the town we wanted to check out but the hour we had there was totally eaten up by the so-so pizza. Tom drove us around a little bit and we were able to see the Stanley Hotel up on its big hill. He explained that Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after staying there. We hope to come back to Colorado and stay at that hotel and have some time to explore Estes Park.

    On the way back to Denver we saw several adorable deer on the side of the road. We also got to see these elk up a little closer.

    A complete account of all the delicious/fun highlights from Denver and Boulder is forthcoming! Also, we got snowed on in Denver so that was pretty exciting.


  7. mocha chip muffins

    November 7, 2012 by Angie

    Week 45 of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking is chocolate. I’ve made a lot of chocolatey things this year but I’m always happy to make another. I baked these mocha chip muffins from the Post Punk Kitchen website.

    The taste is great. They remind me of the beloved chocolate chocolate chip muffins my friend and I used to get at the little cafe inside the Vero Beach Book Center 10+ years ago. We had friends over for a small elections results watching party last night (Woooooo! Go Obama!) and there are only three of the twelve muffins left so I’ll take that as a good sign.

    I’d had my eye on this recipe for a while but plain soy yogurt is difficult to come by in my neck of the woods. The recipe is very simple and doesn’t require a hand mixer or food processor so the cleanup isn’t bad either. Win-win all around.


  8. Thanksgiving table runner

    November 6, 2012 by Angie

    I believe in giving Thanksgiving its due. It’s a fine holiday in its own right and deserves to flourish gloriously through the bulk of November without worrying about how it compares to the Elvis Presley of holidays coming up next month. I’ll admit that Christmas decorating is the most fun but I always save it until the day after Thanksgiving – none of this Halloween then right to Christmas business. I’ve got a decent collection of Halloween decorations going and, depending on who you ask (Robbie), more than enough for Christmas, but all I really had for Thanksgiving are these cute autumn owl salt and pepper shakers my parents gave us. In an effort to give Thanksgiving adequate representation in our little apartment I made this table runner for our kitchen/dining room table.

    I had a yard and a half (I think) of pretty, brown, printed fabric from the local fabric store Keep Me In Stitches and I bought a charm pack of Give Thanks fabrics by Deb Strain for Moda on Amazon.com. I loosely followed this tutorial. I wanted a long table runner that would hang over each end of the table so I cut my brown fabric in half lengthwise then sewed it together to get a long, skinny piece of fabric. Then I hemmed the short edges along the width. Next I went through my charm pack and decided on seven stacks of four fabrics that looked nice together. I sewed each stack of four together vertically with 1/4″ seams. I had the chance to try out the chain piecing technique and it really helped move things along quickly.

    Look Ma, I’m chain piecing!

    After the charm pack stacks were sewn, I pressed the edges along both long sides to make about a 1/2″ hem then pinned them 11″ apart onto the long brown fabric. After that I just had to sew the seven rows down then hem the long sides of the runner.

    Pinned charm pack stacks

    Table runner on the table! Poor table could use a coat of paint :/

    The runner is nice and long hanging over both edges.


  9. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

    November 4, 2012 by Angie

    After hearing great things about Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, we decided to go this year. Every fall, Epcot holds a festival in the World Showcase area with booths offering small plates, beer, wine, and mixed drinks from different countries. We went in mid-October with our friends “Contessa” and had so much fun that we used our last Disney passes to go again for our dating anniversary on November 1.

    Robgeleen on the tram to Epcot. Photo courtesy of Tessa.

    Robbie made several trips to the Craft Beer tent both times we visited. This booth and the one in the American Experience area had IPAs so the guys were happy about that.

    Conner & Robbie pose in front of hops on the vine at the Craft Beer booth.

    Tessa & me sharing a frozen boozy drink on a hot, hot day.

    When we went back just the two of us I was determined to get some photos of the great food for the blog. I was so excited to eat my Trick’n Chick’n Curry from Terra though that I started chowing down before I remembered to take a photo.

    Terra is a new booth they just started this year starring two small plates made with Gardein products. The Trick’n Chick’n Curry was an amazing, slightly spicy, tomato-based sauce over a fake chicken cutlet and white rice. I loved it. Robbie got the other plate, the Colorado Chili with Gardein Beefless Tips. It contained nuts but the workers didn’t know which nut(s) so I had to skip it but he really liked it. They also offer a really great pinot noir by Paul Dolan at Terra. I hope they keep this booth for future years because the food was so good and without it there wouldn’t be enough options for vegetarians (and I’m pretty sure there would be absolutely nothing for vegans).

    Tied with Terra for the best food was the booth simply called Cheese. We had the fondue and the trio of cheeses and they were both great. I want to also mention a really good cheese plate at the Ireland booth which I failed to photograph in our cheese fervor.

    Epcot failed pretty hard on the allergen information front but I give them props for noting the vegetarian dishes with a green V.

    Trio of artisan cheeses: blue cheese, goat brie, and cheddar in cheese honey

    In addition to the festival booths, we went to a few Epcot restaurants that are permanent parts of the park which are worth mentioning. We stopped in at the Rose and Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion a few times where we got very modestly priced (for a theme park) drinks and watched everybody else be very excited about their fish and chips. The outdoors restaurant in Mexico is also pretty good. I like their margarita on the rocks and their guacamole. The very best though is Via Napoli, the pizzeria in the Italy pavilion. We had the most delicious pizza there.

    Robbie digs into the amazing pizza at Via Napoli

    Because we went on a Thursday it wasn’t very crowded and we got to go on two of the more popular rides: Soarin’ and Mission: SPACE (starring Lieutenant Dan!). Both were fun although Mission: SPACE was a little scary – they psych you out about how much you’re going to barf the entire time you’re in line.

    Overall, we had a really great time both times that we went. If you want to try a lot of food and drinks, it gets pricey but for a once a year special outing I definitely think the festival is worth it.