Going-Away “Party”

Tomorrow M is leaving for a month-long trip to Israel, so my parents wanted to make her a nice dinner and cook whatever she wanted. She chose chicken parmesan which of course meant I’d be cooking a separate entree for myself :b

Using what we had on hand, I decided to make Stuffed Mushrooms from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  This was the first vegan dish I ever cooked!  That was back in December and I actually made it several times (to the point where I could do it sans recipe!) during the winter, but I hadn’t made them for a while so I was back to referring to the recipe.  Tonight’s version deviated a little bit from the original, as I didn’t have any red bell pepper to use.  Instead, I played around a little with the spices, including adding some dried chopped garlic and some cayenne pepper to the stuffing mixture.  However, without the bell pepper, the stuffing comes out too dry to be of any use.  So I ended up stirring in a tablespoon of olive oil or two and it worked beautifully.  The mushrooms came out delicious and just a tiny bit spicy, with a yummy Italian flavor (thanks to the oregano, parsley, and olive oil), but they were a little saltier than I would have liked and I can’t figure out why.  I love this recipe–I just hate that the mushrooms are so small!!

(Somehow the really nice picture I took of the full plate of mushrooms disappeared) 😦

Dad also made broccoli to go with the chicken parmesan and was looking for something to add to make it a little special.  He was thinking along the lines of sliced almonds but a search of the pantry didn’t produce any, so instead we decided to toast some pumpkin seeds to toss in there 🙂

Here is my daddy toasting the seeds on the stovetop:

Here is the finished product (sorry for the crappy picture…this is after we’d already started eating! haha):

And for dessert…

Coconut-Lime Cookies from Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton

I made these once before and blogged about them, but without a picture.  M loved them so I decided to make them for her going-away dessert.

For some reason, the batter was a little runnier this time around, and I was in a rush, the result being that they all ran into each other while baking and did not turn out very attractive 😦  Three of them were pretty so I photographed those three :b

A picture of the popular kids on the cooling rack:

Here they are after getting their lime-confectioner’s sugar glaze:

And lastly, fine, okay, here is a picture of all of the shapey cookies (the uglier ones are hiding down the bottom):


 
Just as tasty as last time though 🙂

Bonus picture: J making garlic bread vegan-style 🙂

Brownie Heaven

I’m sorry if this is a rambling post but I’ve had a beast of a week and am very tired.

Last night Dad brought to my attention the fact that almost every single post I’ve made in this first week of my blog’s existence has been about desserts/baking–this is true!  But I want to explain why that is; this past week has been a very unusual one for me, as my work schedule, which should be winding down considering I only have 4 days left, has instead been nearly unbearable.  As a result I’ve been spending nights in the City to avoid the commute so haven’t had time to cook, etc. etc.  Last night, however, I actually was at home, and I’d been itching all day to get into the kitchen.  Of course, by the time I got home I’d already eaten my fill for the day plus it was late, so what would the point have been of cooking a real meal?  Hence, more baking 🙂  I promise that when I get back from Panama and am living on my own again I’ll get to the real “meat” (ha) of the blog, which is the cooking and recipe-using!

In the meantime, I give you Romina’s Super-Moist Cakey Brownies!

Here they are before going into the oven (M and I had a few immature laughs over this lol)

Here is a group of some particularly good-looking ones

Here is a box packed up to take to work 🙂

These came out sooooo delicious.  Definitely moist, and really chocolatey and satisfying.  But making them kind of sucked, and here’s why: I am taking an oral typhoid vaccination for my upcoming trip and I can’t eat two hours before or one hour after taking it.  Of course I was right within the pill time when baking so I couldn’t taste the batter or the finished product!! (I’m actually laughing out loud thinking about how random and strange this must read.) But trust me, it was SO frustrating!  One of the reasons I love to cook/bake is to share it with others, and obviously I always want to make sure it is good before foisting it on someone else!  So anyway when the brownies came out of the oven, though they smelled divine and looked great, I wasn’t sure how they tasted so I cautioned my parents and M before they sampled them.  But I didn’t need to worry–the brownies were great!  Dad even said that he thinks they were one of my best efforts.  Thanks Romina 🙂

Bonus: M licking the bowl :b

SuperCookie

Last night I made the Super-Charge Me! cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.  I’ve seen these so often on Jenna’s blog and thought they would be a great thing to make and have on hand for a quick snack.  But of course half the time when I feel like baking I want something a little more “decadent” so I had put off making them for a while.  However I can now say that these are decadent in their own way!!  I thought they would be kind of like granola in a cookie form, and they sort of are, but they are soft and sweet and much tastier than granola would be if you just baked it into a mound :b  So I will definitely be making these again!!

 

This variety included raisins, chopped dried apricots and bananas, and peanut butter.  I looooove how you get the sweet flavor of the maple syrup and the peanut butter when you bite into these.  And they definitely are super-charging–I ate the equivalent of about 3 of them last night (between batter and a few bites of the baked ones) and my stomach was SO full.

Blooming

My family has a little garden patch in our backyard which in the past has yielded mixed results. We’ve had pretty decent tomato harvests in the past though! Anyway this year everything is looking uncharacteristically good (no offense, Daddy!), and so yesterday I took some pics to share…

Here is my dad posing (though he doesn’t look like he is…he’s a natural) with a hoe!

Here is the front view of the garden patch (though it’s looking a little busted right now…don’t know what happened to those two slats on the gate but we’d better fix it fast or the rabbits shall be much happier than we…)

And here are our crops!!!

Basil (we have two plants, can you tell which is the older one?): one of my top 5 favorite herbs, and one which I am SO excited to use in recipes very soon

Tomatoes (we have a few varieties, but these beefsteaks are the first to bear fruit this year)

Lovely Lavender

Peas

Swiss Chard

Cucumbers

We are also in the market for some squash seeds and plan to plant them for a fall harvest… 🙂

I think it’s so amazing what can come out of the earth, and watching it happen in front of my eyes only increases my amazement!

Uber-healthy

Zucchini Spelt Muffins from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton

I love Dreena’s introduction to this recipe where she advises, “Don’t let the uber-healthy name discourage you”!  I actually used yellow squash in place of the zucchini in this recipe because that was what I had on hand to use (and good thing too because one more day and it would have been in the pail compost pile), so I guess these are Squash Spelt Muffins

Here they are, right into the oven…

And here they are, fresh out of the oven…

A close-up (with melty banana bits!)


These smelled like heaven and tasted fantastic.  Really moist and fluffy and flavorful.  I think maybe the word banana should be somewhere in the name because it is one of the star ingredients and definitely one of the star flavors. 🙂 This was my first time baking with spelt flour and I was really happy with the results!

Also, because I was curious and sometimes do this, I figured out the nutrition information for this recipe.   Usually I only do a calorie count but with the blog in mind I decided to do a more complete profile.  This information is for one muffin out of a batch of 24:

92 kcal, 2.45g fat, 79.6mg sodium, 6.33g sugar, 2.04g fiber, 1.78g protein

I just realized I didn’t calculate total carbohydrate, but I was really just interested in the sugar content.  Anyway I think they’re pretty healthy!

Highly Anticipated

The minute I picked up Vive Le Vegan, I knew I wanted to make this recipe…

Chinatown-style Veggie Spring Rolls and Ginger Dipping Sauce from Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton

 

Another Father’s Day project 🙂 Making these was a labor-intensive process, especially the wetting and rolling of the wrappers.  I used Chinese vermicelli noodles made from green mung bean rather than the rice vermicelli noodles that the recipe calls for.  Also, my dad pan-fried the rolls for a few minutes each after baking, because they weren’t crispy enough for our taste.  They tasted subtly yummy when we first tried them, but I had this feeling that they were missing something, some sort of saltiness…maybe soy sauce?  Enter the Ginger Dipping Sauce (which contains soy sauce, naturally).  It complemented them perfectly (as I’m sure Dreena knew it would, since she recommends it in the spring roll recipe as an accompaniment!).  I think out of my family members I enjoyed these the most.  My mom and dad were not fans of the texture, because despite our frying attempts they were still apt to tear and fall apart, and I think both would have preferred them crispier.  My dad and I think that if we make them again, we might try a) another type of wrapper, and/or b) pan-frying the rolls a little before baking.

A.’s Cookies in the Baking!!

Baking is probably my favorite thing to do, and the thing which seems to have the lowest rate of failure in my experience.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton

I have made these probably a dozen times since becoming vegan, before I even knew who Dreena was or owned any of her books!  I found this recipe initially on the Internet.  The batch pictured were some of the best cookies I have ever had, let alone baked myself (not to brag or anything…)  I made these at E’s house and used regular molasses instead of blackstrap, white flour instead of my usual wheat, and also substituted 2 tbsp. of Trader Joe’s Mint Cocoa for the sugar in the recipe.  The results were “better than Toll House” according to Mom.  🙂

You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate Cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton

Unless you are allergic to peanut butter or to chocolate, you are crazy if you don’t like these cookies.  They are out of this world.  I’ve made them twice.  My first batch is pictured.  My second batch was better if I recall correctly…maybe a little more moist?  Either way, these are awesome and would be my recipe of choice if I were baking to impress non-vegans :b

Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies (aka “BlackOut Cookies” if you are in-the-know) from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan

Oh, how I love these.  I will make them again and again, and definitely at Christmas time.

Pineapple Lemon Bars from Vive Le Vegan

I made these as a special request for my daddy on Father’s Day.  They are pretty good, but I liked them best fresh out of the oven when they were a little melty.  I think heating leftovers before eating would improve them.  I like the ground oat crust and would definitely use it again when inventing my own recipes.

Coconut Lime Cookies from Vive Le Vegan (not pictured)

I made these for J’s girlfriend’s graduation party and to be perfectly honest they got eaten before I could take a picture.  They were pretty good on their own, but I thought they didn’t taste lime-y enough, so I added a lime-flavored icing.  Combine 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar with 2 tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice, spoon into a Ziploc bag, snip the corner, and use as a decorating bag.  With the icing, they were great.