Sweet Eats

Howdy!  I’m back from my long Valentine’s Day/President’s Day weekend and I have lots of wonderful eats and treats to share…

Last time I wrote, I told you that I’d be heading to a vegan “Pre-Valentine’s Day” dinner hosted by the Boston Vegetarian Society on Wednesday night.  Well, I went, and had a wonderful time!

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But…my pictures of the meal are not so bueno.  The lighting was super-dim and some of the food just didn’t present nicely.  So I’ll only share the half-decent ones.

Sweet Eats 002Beets stuffed with agave-sweetened vegan yogurt, apple & walnut melange…I loved the yogurt stuffing but wished there was more of it!

Sweet Eats 008Peanut butter cheesecake with a white chocolate drizzle.  I ate every bite.

Unfortunately that’s it for the photos that are the bare minimum of post-worthy.  But I can tell you that the seitan curry entree was a standout!  However, while trying to be calorie-conscious, I took about half of it to go…and then left my takeout box on top of the parking machine in Alewife station.  I nearly cried when I got home 20 minutes later and realized this.  My only comfort is imagining that someone hungry found it and appreciated it.

Anyway as we all know, Friday was the big V Day!  H and I are not the type of couple that needs to make big Valentine’s Day plans and give extravagant gifts each year, but we do like to do a little something to acknowledge the day.  This year, I decided to make a nice dinner for us to enjoy at home, rather than deal with trying to get a reservation somewhere for a Friday night Valentine’s Day.  No thanks.Sweet Eats 020The setup

Our meal started with a salad of organic mixed greens, strawberries, cucumbers, and toasted almonds, with a chocolate balsamic vinaigrette.Sweet Eats 018

To make the vinaigrette, warm some balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, then add some dark chocolate and stir until it’s melted.  Season with oregano.  I didn’t take exact measurements but I’d guess it was about 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup chocolate (I used vegan chocolate chips), and 1/4 tsp. oregano.  It was so delicious, especially paired with the strawberries!Sweet Eats 014

The vegan entree (mine) was grilled marinated tofu (using this marinade):
Sweet Eats 011Check out those Chopped-worthy grill marks!

With mashed red bliss potatoes and Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts (using this incredible, lick-your-spoon recipe from Fo Reals Life) on the side:
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H had the same side dishes next to a non-vegan offering.  Obviously no one cares about that so here is a picture of my beautiful plate:
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The tofu became way more brown because I actually grilled it the day before and then reheated it in the convection oven while I got the rest of the meal components ready.  

To drink, we had wine and cranberry-lime seltzer with these babies tossed in:
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I first noticed a link for some adorable ice cube hearts on Celeste’s blog last week, so then when I saw this ice cube tray on sale for $1.99, I figured what the hell.  I used fresh cranberries instead of pomegranate seeds.  Pomegranate probably would have been cuter but why spend extra dough when I already had cranberries?  H loved it regardless.

Finally, dessert!  I went with Dreena Burton’s Raw Orange Chocolate Pudding (click for recipe) with Candied Orange Peel on top (I used this recipe from Epicurious).Sweet Eats 024The pudding was delicious, but it was also SO RICH that I could only eat half of it!  Note that I did add a generous drizzle of agave nectar while making it because I found that the recipe as written was a little too bitter/tart for my taste (even using honey bell oranges!).

The candied orange peel was an awesome touch (if I do say so myself!).  H called it “nature’s Sour Patch Kids” and while this is high praise, the 2 lbs. of sugar and intensive preparation that go into producing these is probably something best reserved for very special occasions.

Everyone was posting suggestions for V-Day eats last week, but I’m dying to know what you actually had!  Or, if you didn’t celebrate, what other fun stuff did you get up to over the long weekend?  Leave it in the comments  🙂

Cornmeal Crusted Mushrooms Stuffed with Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes


It’s Yellow Week!!

How much are you loving Vegan MoFo?  It can’t just be me.

I’ve been publishing this blog for over five years, and deciding to participate in MoFo this year was one of the best things I’ve done in that time.  Rather than feeling pressured or writer’s-blocked (not really a term) as I’d imagined I would, I feel totally inspired and eager to post!

The weirdest (or, more accurately, the most unexpected) thing for me is how motivated I have been to get in the kitchen and create my own recipes.  This is something I have never really done before.  As much as I’ve admired other bloggers who seem to have a never-ending stream of original recipes to share, over the years my own blog has focused on recipes I’ve made from my cookbooks or my vast collection of web-based recipes (most of them culled from other vegan food blogs), or on quick, convenient fare that is either semi-homemade or is homemade but way too simple to deserve a “recipe” post (e.g., roasted broccoli or baked potato with veggie chili).

But so far this month I have busted out the following:
Warm Strawberry Sauce
Basilberry Smoothie
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Bisque
Gingered Sweet Potato and Black Bean Cakes
Creamsicle Frozen Yogurt Pops

Now, not saying I’m even approaching the level of the prolific bloggers I admire so much, but it’s a start!

And today I am so excited to share my latest creation–Cornmeal Crusted Mushrooms Stuffed with Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes.  The recipe looks lengthy but it’s actually very simple.  I just included a lot of steps to demonstrate the most time-efficient way of pulling it all together.

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Also, don’t let my ugly night-time photos turn you off from this recipe (I also remain light years away from other bloggers in terms of food photography).  It is SO GOOD.

Cornmeal Crusted Mushrooms with Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
Yield: 16-20 stuffed mushrooms, depending on size, plus lots of extra mashed potatoes
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

For the filling
2.5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and rinsed
3 tbsp. + 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance buttery spread (or other vegan margarine), separated
1 cup plain soy or almond milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or more to taste
(optional) Generous 1/4 tsp. turmeric
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the mushrooms
1 lb. cremini or button mushrooms, cleaned and destemmed (I used cremini)
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. olive oil
(optional) 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut potatoes into medium-large chunks of approximately equal size.  Add to large stockpot and fill with water until the potatoes are covered.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer vigorously for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place mushrooms gills-side down on it.  Place in preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until they begin to release their juices.  Remove from oven and turn over so that they’re gills-side up, then set aside to cool.

While potatoes and mushrooms are cooking, place soy milk and 3 tbsp. Earth Balance in a small saucepan and gently warm over low heat until the margarine is melted.  Keep warm on the stove.

While potatoes and mushrooms are cooking, lightly saute garlic in 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance until fragrant.  Be careful not to burn it!  When the garlic is done, set it aside and reserve the skillet.

Once potatoes are tender, drain them and then add back to the pot, shaking around a few times to draw out some of the excess water.

Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl along with the garlic and soy milk mixture.  Mash using a potato masher until very smooth.  (It will look super-liquidy at first, but keep mashing and it’ll come together.)  Add seasonings, taste, and adjust as you wish.

Place cornmeal and Cajun seasoning on a salad plate and stir to combine.  One by one, dip mushrooms in the mixture until lightly coated.  (They should be moist enough after cooking to pick up the coating.)

Using the skillet in which the garlic was cooked, warm the olive oil.  When it is ready, add the mushrooms and pan-fry until the cornmeal coating is browned.  Flip over and repeat on the other side.  (When cooking them gills-side up, you may want to gently press down on the sides to make sure the coating cooks evenly.)

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Finally, fill a pastry bag (or a Ziploc bag with a corner cut out) with mashed potatoes and pipe out a dollop onto each mushroom.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika and serve!

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WIth broccoli, obviously.

I was so happy with how this recipe turned out.  Lots of yellow goodness–Yukon Golds, cornmeal, and turmeric too!  Even H thought it was good, and he has no great affection for mushrooms.

I have a whole bunch of mashed potatoes left over and I think I might buy a full-sized portobello to stuff with it for dinner tonight.  Options…