OMGinger

I have always enjoyed the taste of fresh ginger but lately my taste for it has grown into a passionate love.  When I make a recipe calling for minced or grated fresh ginger, I find myself adding a little more than instructed.  Fortunately, H loves ginger too!  He always comments on it when I make stir fry, a dish which, for me, is not complete without fresh ginger thrown in.

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Aside from the bright, sweet, slightly spicy flavor, I love ginger for its versatility.  It sparkles in foods both savory and sweet.  It also boasts a number of incredible health benefits.  Consider this description, excerpted from the World’s Healthiest Foods database:

“Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.”  Read more about ginger here.

For our holiday party this past year, I baked Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (my go-to dessert book, obviously).

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Here they are, served alongside a little vegan nog (check out the reflection!).  Can you say decadence?

I loved these!!  While they were a little on the spicy side for the kids that stopped by the party, they were well-received by the adults.  And they looked beautiful, if I may say.

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Also, a week or two ago I had the most incredible Thai dish from Lanna Thai, a diner right down the road from my office.  First of all, yes, it’s a Thai diner. The place is adorable.  It’s got maybe 5-6 tables and some stools at a counter, metal siding, the works.  But it’s Thai!!

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Second, they have great lunch specials, with excellent portion sizes and a good number of veggie options.  Third, the food is outstanding.  I have tried their Tofu Prik Pow, a perfectly sweet and spicy veggie and pineapple concoction, as well as their Tofu Red Curry (the control dish by which I judge all Thai eateries!), which was sweet and creamy with perfectly cooked vegetables. My favorite yet, however, was the Tofu Pad King, the ginger dish.

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This was SO GOOD.  A world of flavor, perfect texture to everything…I can’t say enough good things about this and I kind of wish I were eating it right now.  I thought I had a bunch more menu items I was going to try from Lanna but I might just be stuck on Pad King from here on out…

P.S. – Look at what came in the mail today!!Om Nom Nom Sampler photo iphone004_zps647c77dc.jpg

It’s the six-cookie sampler pack made by Om Nom Nom Cookies that I recently bought from Vegan Cuts!!  Clockwise from top left: Spicy Mexican Snickerdoodle, Ultimate Peanut Butter, Gluten-free Chocolate Chip, Orange-Zested Chocolate Chip, Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal, and Red Velvet.  Of course, there is no gingerbread flavor so I really have no excuse for including these in this post other than my sheer excitement.  I don’t even know where to start!

Thank God I’m training for a race right now.

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Peanut Passion

Well, I knocked out my take-home exam yesterday, so today I’m going to finish my short paper and then get crackin on the long one.  All I really want to do is go for a run and spend the rest of the day drinking margaritas.  At least I have a mini-Cinco de Mayo fiesta with H to look forward to tonight.  I’m making Ancho Lentil Tacos from this recipe, posted Tuesday on the Post Punk Kitchen blog.  My lentils are currently simmering away, which I find very exciting.  We’re also going to have guacamole (duh) and Coronas.  Hooray!

Anyway, I don’t have that much time to post but I was feeling antsy about blogging so I am putting up some pictures of peanutty goodness that I recently enjoyed.

First up is the Love Bowl from Good Karma Café in Red Bank, NJ.  Menu description: Sautéed seasonal greens, brown rice, black beans and your choice of tofu or tempeh. Topped with your choice of sauces: Thai coconut, spicy peanut or sweet mustard sauce.

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I chose tofu with spicy peanut sauce.
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Good Karma is a vegan restaurant with alot of raw options and is close to my parents’ house so I gave it a try when I was visiting them for Passover a couple weeks back.  This thing was really…nourishing.  I mean, it tasted nourishing, if that makes sense.  The greens (I think they were collards) were quite bitter but the tofu and beans balanced it a little.  The sauce was really thick and filling.  Definitely not spicy, and I would have added hot sauce if I could have done so without having to travel past my grandmother’s watchful Passover eyes (tofu, beans, rice, and peanuts are all “kitnyot”…not strictly kosher for passover for many people) to get it!  I also think I would have enjoyed this more if the peanut sauce had been thinned and sweetened with a little agave for a better balance of flavors.  Overall, though, I liked it, and I’m looking forward to visiting Good Karma again next time I’m in NJ and trying some of the other yummy-sounding things on their menu.

Next we have my Easter dinner.  Ha, yes, I’m transitioning from Passover to Easter just like that.  H and I went to his family for dinner on Saturday night of Easter weekend and I was feeling a little awkward beforehand, since at that time I was contending with not only vegan food restrictions but Passover restrictions as well.  Hence, I brought my own dinner.  I felt like maybe this was a dick move, but his family was totally cool with it, and relieved too, I’m sure.  I hate being an inconvenience when other people are going out of their way to be nice and have me over for dinner.   Anyway, it all turned out fine, except that, like a fool, I left my camera at home so I don’t have a picture of the assembled dinner. But here are some of the components of what I ate:

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This is my version of the Maple Ginger Mango Tofu from the Love Veggies and Yoga blog. It is Maple Ginger Peach Tofu, since I used this:
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I sliced the tofu reeeeally thin, as instructed:
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The veggies in the first pic are from the frozen packaged Trader Joe’s “Harvest Hodgepodge” mix.  Genius.  I always have this in my freezer.  I enjoyed the tofu and veggies over rice pad thai noodles, topped with Peanut Passion Sauce from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan.

This is the sauce:
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It is awesome.  Like, really friggin’ awesome.  I do not make it that often, because it is so high calorie, and H and I are both on the wedding diet so it’s not really a wise thing to keep on hand.  However, a batch of this is incredibly tasty and versatile, as you can use it as a dip for veggies or a spread for sandwiches or a marinade for tofu, etc. etc….or you could do like I do and mix in some coconut milk and then slather it all over some pad thai noodles.  That’s the stuff. I used part of this batch as noodle sauce, and contributed the rest of it as an appetizer (with crudité) for the Easter gathering at H’s house. It was a big hit!

Then I ate the leftovers (noodles, Peanut Passion sauce, veggies, and plain old sauteed tofu, since I finished all the Peach tofu at Easter dinner!) for lunch over the next week:
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With a buttload of chili garlic sauce, obvi:
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Finally, though it’s unrelated, I thought I’d share the fact that last week, the search engine term “me want honeycomb” was used four times to find my blog.  Yeah…I don’t know.

Woo! Much longer post than I’d anticipated writing.  That’s just how these things go!  Back to writing things that are not fun at all…

Peace o’ Vegan Heaven

I almost started jumping up and down the other day when I saw this post on Peace o’ Pie’s blog.  Vegan Brunch…must try.  And try I did.  Gorged myself is actually more like it.  Here is a recap:

From the buffet line:
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Clockwise from top left, you see: curried tofu, tempeh bacon, smoky mac n cheese, sweet potato home fries, a paprika zucchini potato pancake, and a gluten-free cinnamon walnut pancake (sort of hidden by the potato pancake…sorry!). 

The tofu and the latke were my favorites.  I wish I had gotten more tofu!  The mac n cheese was quite good as well–just in appearance alone, it’s one of those “I can’t believe it’s vegan!” foods.  I mixed a liberal amount of chili garlic sauce into the mac to make it perfect.  Sweet potato home fries, check.  Cinnamon walnut pancake–a bit heavier/denser than I’d normally like, but I am also not accustomed to gluten free eating so maybe it comes with the territory.  Flavorful though, and I enjoyed the big crunchy walnut pieces in it.  The tempeh bacon was the only thing I wasn’t thrilled with; that said, I have tried and failed to love tempeh in the past so my opinion is not terribly weighty on whether this was good or not.



But then there was this:
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A cinnamon bun with strawberry cream cheese frosting

Holy crap.  Besides being incredibly photogenic, this thing was delectable.  I ate half of it early in the day with my brunch and the other half for dessert later on.  A finger-lickin’ delight, and I can’t wait to go back for more!

I have alot more to say about Peace o’ Pie in a future post (in  my draft folder right now…along with everything else ever. Sigh.)  All you need to know for now is that it’s friggin’ awesome and any vegans that visit Boston should make it a point to stop in!

The Luck of the Irish

I have been saving this post in order to honor both St. Patrick’s Day and my own handsome Irishman:

 
My Irishman
The fiance and me at a brewpub in Manchester, NH

The story is as follows: H (the Irishman) came up with a brilliant idea a few months ago, which entails one of us coming up with a surprise Friday night dinner for the other, and then turning our apartment into a restaurant in the theme of whatever type of cuisine has been selected.  So far we have had Italian, Japanese, Cajun, Middle Eastern, and finally, Irish.

Irish night was my surprise for H, and I did it about a month ago.  The menu was as follows: fish and chips with curry sauce, Irish soda bread, and of course, Guinness and Jameson.

 

Irish Soda Bread (recipe below)


My “fish,” which was made of tofu sticks that I had frozen and thawed (recipe below)


Oven chips (recipe below) with curry sauce (purchased from a local pub that we love)


Eat, drink, and be merry!

All in all, it was a very successful restaurant night!  And what better day than today to recap it? 🙂

 

RECIPES AND REVIEWS

A. Irish Soda Bread (from VegNews magazine)

Makes one loaf

What You Need:
1-1/4 cups soymilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine soymilk, vinegar, and oil and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until blended. Stir in raisins. Add soymilk mixture and mix well to make a stiff dough.

3. Shape dough into a round loaf and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Pat the top down slightly, then use a sharp knife to cut an x-shaped slash on top. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Review: This was delicious, especially with a little vegan butter spread on it.  Even dogs like it, as I found out the next day when I brought the leftovers to share with friends we were visiting, and accidentally left it on a dining room chair.  They never got to try it, but their boxer-mix gave it two paws up!

 

B. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips (from Fitness magazine)…veganized below:

Ingredients
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds  russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
4 teaspoons  canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons  Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
2 cups  cornflakes
1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon  salt
2 large egg whites, beaten
1 pound  Pacific cod, (see Note) or haddock, cut into 4 portions

 

Directions
1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Set a wire rack on another large baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.
2. Place potatoes in a colander. Thoroughly rinse with cold water, then pat dry completely with paper towels. Toss the potatoes, oil and 3/4 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning in a large bowl. Spread on the baking sheet without the rack. Bake on the lower oven rack, turning every 10 minutes, until tender and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, coarsely grind cornflakes in a food processor or blender or crush in a sealable plastic bag. Transfer to a shallow dish. Place flour, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning and salt in another shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge fish in the flour mixture, dip it in egg white and then coat all sides with the ground cornflakes. Place on the prepared wire rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.
4. Bake the fish on the upper oven rack until opaque in the center and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Review:The tofu “fish” was a totally blind experiment, but it actually came out pretty good!  I used the above recipe, subbing tofu for the fish, obviously, and a little arrowroot mixed with water instead of the egg to bind the crust to the tofu.  I also added a little extra seasoning.

For anyone interested, either because you eat fish or you love someone who does, the original recipe got rave reviews from H, who enjoyed his with cod.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Summer Bummer

It is June 11th, and my one-year blog anniversary was June 2nd, which I somehow missed, and that is sad.  😦  Also, I managed to lose another digital camera to a bad fall last weekend, which doesn’t really help me in the blogging department, and is depressing because now that school has ended I’ve been doing alot of cooking and baking.  Tomorrow a big group of my friends is going down to Cape Cod to spend the weekend there, and I have this whole long summery menu of things to cook up for them while we’re there, which I’m really excited about because I love cooking in the summertime!  Of course, it is currently 56 degrees in Boston so maybe not so much.

Alright, enough bad humor.  Until my camera is fixed (or I bite the bullet and buy my third one in the last 13 months) I have a few pictures in my Photobucket that I can post for the sake of keeping up the blog…

First up is a series of photos of Dad and me making Happy Herbivore’s Chickpea Piccata


Here we have the patties, getting ready to go into the oven.


And there is the sauce, simmering away.


Some steamed spinach for a side dish.


The finished chickpea patties.


The finished sauce.

Overall, I enjoyed this recipe but we had to modify it a little.  The chickpea mixture that forms the patties was very dry (maybe because we used dried beans that had been soaked and cooked rather than canned?), and we had such a hard time keeping the mixture together that we ended up using an ice cream scoop to form the patties (as seen above), as well as putting lots (probably too much) of flour on them so they didn’t stick to our hands or the scoop. We did not flatten them before baking (as the recipe directs) for fear they would fall apart.  We also added a significant amount of olive oil (not HH’s style, certainly) to try to moisten the mixture and keep it together.  Also, I thought the sauce was pretty good but Dad thought it was slightly too acidic (with the bulk of the liquid being white wine and the lemon juice), and so next time we decided we’d use a little more water (in addition to that used for the cornstarch) and maybe even a dash of soymilk to even out the pH a little (while avoiding making it too creamy). 

This second pic is an old one, from last fall I believe, and it is Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tofu


Served up with brown rice and a plate of pita chips and roasted red pepper hummus

I can’t for the life of me remember where I got this tofu recipe.  If anyone has seen it before, can you please leave a comment or email me so I can give the author proper credit?  Thanks!  I usually wouldn’t post something if I didn’t know where it came from (since that is kind of the point of this blog) but they’re really pretty pictures and I’m kinda short on material at the moment. Overall this was a pretty yummy spread, nothing exceptional though.  Looking at the picture now, of course, I’m chiding myself on serving too much rice and no actual vegetables!

To wrap up, I just want to say that now that the semester has ended, I feel like a real person again, and not only am I thrilled to be back into the kitchen and back into my healthy eating and exercise habits, but I am thrilled to once again have the time to catch up on all of your wonderful blogs, from which I have been long absent. I’ll be back to commenting soon!!