Monday, December 14, 2009

Vegan Sugar Cookies


One of my earliest memories is decorating sugar cookies during Christmas time with my sister and two cousins. My mom would buy store bought refrigerated dough. She would roll it out, let us kids cut the shapes, and then decorate them. So for me, sugar cookies are a holiday tradition. Since this is my first holiday season in my new apartment, I really wanted to keep the tradition and make some sugar cookies. And now that I'm older than three, I figured it was time to make the cookies from scratch. One of my roommates is vegan, so I wanted to make cookies that I could share with her. So here they are:

Vegan Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 egg replacer
Preheat the oven to 375. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in measuring cup. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Dust a cutting board with flour and coat a rolling pin with flour. Place the dough onto the cutting board. Dust the dough with flour. Roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough sticks add a little more flour to the rolling pin. Use your cookie cutters to cut out the cookies, place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes, until the edges are just barely a light golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack. Frost, if desired.

Simple frosting:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Soymilk
  • Vanilla
  • Food coloring
In a bowl combine a cup of powdered sugar, one to two teaspoons of soymilk, and a half a teaspoon of vanilla. Stir. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more soymilk. If the frosting is too thin, add a little more sugar. To make colors other than white, pour the frosting into other bowls. Add the food coloring that is desired, stir until no longer streaky. Frost! If so desired, add sprinkles. Making this kind of simple frosting isn't an exact science, just eyeball it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zuccanoes

I found this recipe in a cookbook I received for my birthday from my wonderful Aunt Cathy and Uncle Mario. It's called The New Moosewood Cookbook. I highly recommend it. Any way, zucchini were on sale last week and I decided to give them a try. I've made them twice now, so here is my adapted recipe.

Zuccanoes:
  • 4 medium sized zucchini (about 2 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound of mushrooms, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
  • 1 1/2 cups minced pistachios
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Black pepper and cayenne (or hot sauce), to taste
  • A few pinches of freshly minced and dried herbs (parsley, basil, dill, thyme, etc.)
  • 1 cup grated cheese, swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, etc.
  • Dash of salt
Cut the zucchini lengthwise down the middle. Use a smallish spoon to scoop out the insides, leaving a canoe with a 1/4 inch shell. Mince the insides, set aside. Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet. Add the onion and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the minced zucchini and the mushrooms. Add the dash of salt. Turn up the heat and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring, until the liquid evaporates. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat. Stir in the rice, nuts, and lemon juice. Season to taste with black pepper, cayenne, and herbs. Preheat oven to 350. Fill the zucchini shells, top with cheese, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Some tips:
  • The recipes makes a lot of filling, I had leftovers both times I made it. However, the filling is delicious on it's own.
  • I used pistachios because it's the only nut I like, but feel free to use almonds, pecans, or the nut of your choice.
  • This dish seems to be a "chop and drop" dish. Add whatever vegetables you have on hand. I've added black beans and diced tomatoes and they were both delicious additions.
  • If you leave off the cheese, this is a wonderful vegan dish.
  • If you are not vegan, tossing extra cheese in the filling is super tasty.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sweet and Sour Tofu


I'm not going to lie. After making this for dinner last night, I am extremely proud of myself. This is better than takeout. And the best part? All the ingredients are things you should have in your fridge/pantry. The only thing I needed to pick up from the grocery store was the tofu. And after making this, tofu will now always be in my fridge so I can make this meal.

Sweet and Sour Tofu

The sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or hot sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (I used ground, about a tablespoon)
  • Black pepper, to taste
The tofu:
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 package firm tofu
The vegetables:
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 package frozen green beans
Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of the stock until smooth. In a medium bowl mix together the vinegar, remaining stock, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, cayenne, and black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil gently in a small saucepan, and soften the garlic and ginger. Add the vinegar mixture to the pan and simmer for about 4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture until the sauce thickens. Check the seasoning.
Slice the tofu into thin squares. Coat a saute pan with oil and heat over medium/medium high. Brown the tofu on both sides, about five minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss the tofu in the sauce. Saute the onions and vegetables until slightly charred. Top the vegetables with the extra sauce.
Serve with brown rice.

An extra tip:
  • I would recommend doubling the recipe for the sauce so you have plenty for both the tofu and the vegetables.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet Emepenadas


I love it when my brain surprises me. The last time I made empenadas for dinner I ran out of filling and had two leftover shells. I was just about to put them back into the fridge and use them another time when a light bulb went off in my head. Dessert empenadas!

Sweet Empenadas:

  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 2 empenada shells
Preheat oven to 400. In a small saute pan melt the butter. Toss the apples in the butter. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. When the apples get somewhat caramelized add the cream cheese. When the cream cheese is melted turn off the heat. Spoon the apples into the middle of the shells. Fold and seal with a fork. Place on a baking sheet, brush with a little melted butter, and bake for about 15 minutes or until brown. Enjoy them on their own or with some vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Savory Empenadas

My mom started making empenadas a few years ago and they were an instant family hit. They're were very easy to make vegetarian and you can also make them into desserts! So, for round one:

Savory Empenadas

  • 1 package 10 grande empenada discs, goya brand (found in the freezer section of the grocery store under "ethnic food")
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Complete Seasoning
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400. Heat a saute pan on medium heat, coat the pan with olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Add the frozen vegetables and cook until thawed. Add the chili powder, complete seasoning, and hot sauce. Remove pan from heat. On a cutting board lay out 2-3 discs at a time. Spoon the veggie mixture into the middle of the disc. Add some of the cheese. Fold the dough in half. Seal by pressing a fork around the edge. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat until all are stuffed. Brush the top of each empenada with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with rice, sour cream, salsa, or condiment of your choice.

Some tips:
  1. The Goya brand discs are not vegan. I haven't shopped around for a brand that is, but if you find one, let me know!
  2. Feel free to use whatever vegetables use have on hand.
  3. I bake mine for several reasons. A) They're more healthy that way and B) I am terrified of a big pan full of hot oil. However, these empenadas are equally delicious fried if you are more brave than I am.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Apple Pie Cookies


One of my favorite desserts of all time is apple pie. However, apple pie can be a very labor intensive dessert. Sometimes I just don't have the time or the patience. So what do I do? I make apple pie cookies, inspired by the recipe I found on the Post Punk Kitchen. Oh yeah, they're vegan too.

Apple Pie Cookies
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 crushed up ice cream cones
  • 1 apple, chopped into small pieces (granny smith works best)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 dash of salt
Preheat oven to 350. Melt apple sauce, soymilk, and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in a mixing bowl and add apple and ice cream cones. Slowly pour in flour as you mix nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Shape into heaping cookies and bake for 15 minutes until nice a crunchy brown. Makes about 10 cookies.

Puff Pastry with Lentil Filling


Ok, again, I kinda stole this recipe. But, again, I changed it to make it my own. The original recipe calls for crescent roles, but I didn't have any. What I did have was puff pastry. So here you have it.

Puff Pastry with Lentil Filling
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • Olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. In a pan, saute onion, garlic, and peas with the olive oil until soft. In a bowl, mix onion, garlic, peas, lentils, oregano, and marinara sauce. Cut puff pastry sheet into about 6 squares. Spoon lentil filling into the middle of the square. If you have room, fold the pastry over the filling. If you don't have room, don't sweat it. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Some tips about this recipe:
  • When I made this recipe I had leftover filling. Not sure when I would get to the grocery store again to buy more puff pastry, I threw the extra filling into a vegetable soup I was making. But honestly, I could have eaten this filling with a fork, no pastry needed.
  • You can use whatever vegetables or beans you like in the filling. Again (a recurring theme in my cooking) I just used what I had on hand.

Cinnamon Pears and Grahams


So I got this idea of the back of a box of graham crackers. I changed it up a little bit and this recipe is super easy to vegan-ize. Just make sure the grahams you buy are vegan and use vegan cream cheese.

Cinnamon Pears and Grahams
  • 2 unpeeled pears, thinly sliced (you could also use apples)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
  • 4 graham cracker, each broken into 4 small rectangles
  • Cinnamon sugar (optional)
Mix cream cheese, syrup, and cinnamon. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the graham rectangles. Top with sliced pears. Sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon sugar. Super simple and a tasty snack or light dessert.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mushroom Burgers

This is a pretty tasty burger that I think vegetarians and meat eaters will both love. Sorry vegans, this burger isn't for you. But both of the sides, green beans and baked sweet potato fries, are.

Mushroom Burger:
  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil
Saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture in the mushrooms. Add the oregano. Saute until all the moisture is gone. Then in a bowl add the mushrooms, oats, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cheese, and eggs. Mix. Let it sit for about fifteen minutes. This will make 4-6 burgers. Form the patties and saute them in some olive oil until browned on both sides.

These burgers are super easy and pretty tasty. On the side I served some green beans and sweet potato fries.

For the green beans:
  • 1 can of green beans
  • Olive oil
  • Complete seasoning/garlic powder/whatever seasoning you like
Set a small pan and medium eat. Add the olive oil, green beans, and seasonings. Saute until the green beans become charred. Also works well with frozen green beans, just defrost first.

For the sweet potatoes:
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Complete seasoning
Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the potatoes into thick cut fry shape. Coat with olive oil, garlic, and complete seasoning. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them half way.

A few tips about this recipe:
  • Flip the burgers as little as possible to prevent them from falling apart.
  • The sweet potatoes will not get really crispy like regular fries in the oven. But they will be really tasty.
  • I use "complete seasoning" on just about every thing I make that's not a dessert. I don't know exactly what's in it. I use the Badia brand. Trust me, it's awesome.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pan Fried Tofu with Spinach and Noodles


So, a few weeks ago my good friend/roommate Sammi introduced me to VeganYumYum. That website is some serious food porn. Any way, I was hungry and needed to go to the grocery store when I saw a recipe for pan fried tofu with kale and stir-fried noodles. The pictures looked amazing and I was really hungry so I headed out to Publix to pick up a few things I needed. Now, I couldn't find kale or the wide rice noodles that the original recipe called for, so I improvised. Here is my slightly different version. And yes, it's vegan!

Pan Fried Tofu with Spinach and Noodles
  • 1 package extra/super firm tofu
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti (or whatever kind of noodle you have on hand)
  • Sugar
  • Soy Sauce
Tofu Marinade
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (I used ground, because that's what I had)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Black pepper, to taste
Begin by pressing the tofu. I wrapped mine in a paper towel and then in a bar towel and weighted it down. The original recipe says to weight it down with a cast iron pan, but a pan with a big can of soup or tomatoes works fine too. Do this for about 15 minutes to drain the water. While the tofu is pressing whisk together the marinade. Cut the tofu into 8 equal sized rectangles and let it sit in the marinade for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the pan. Add the tofu once the pan is really hot. Brown the tofu on side, then flip and brown on the other side. Spoon extra marinade over the tofu and flip every few minutes. In total, the tofu should cook for about ten minutes until it looks like it'll be burnt if it cooks for any longer. Remove the tofu and let it rest. Heat a little more oil in the pan and add the spinach. Once softened add the noodles and toss. Flavor the noodles with a touch of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Plate the noodles and spinach and place the tofu on top.

A few tips about this recipe:
  • The pan will spit oil at you when you add the tofu, so just be careful. I'm a really big baby when it comes to hot things, so I wore an oven mitt. But trust me, if I survived it, you most certainly will.
  • Soy sauce is like using salt. When you put soy sauce on the noodles at the end, a little goes along way, especially since the tofu was already marinaded in it.
  • It's ok to use the leftover marinade. The reason you were always told to toss extra marinade is because of cross contamination with raw meat. You won't get e coli or salmonella from tofu, so don't let that tasty marinade go to waste.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vegetable Frittata

Soup is one of my favorite cheap, comfort food meals. It's a "chop and drop" kind of meal. By "chop and drop" I mean you chop up whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and drop it into the pot. I have now discovered that frittata is a great "chop and drop" meal too. What is frittata? I suppose it's like a crustless quiche that's cooked mostly on the stove. Here's my recipe.

Vegetable Frittata
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 potato, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • salt and pepper

  • 6 eggs

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 2 morning star italian sausages (optional)

  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies

Heat oil in a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add potato, onion, mixed vegetables, sausage, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until potato is golden and crisp (about 7-10 minutes). Preheat broiler. Whisk eggs, milk, parmesan, and basil in a bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the veggie mixture. Cook until egg mixture is almost set. Place the skillet under the broiler for about 4 minutes, until the top is golden.

A few tips about this recipe:
  • Frittata is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Use my recipe as a base. Experiment. Throw in whatever vegetables, fake meat, or cheese that you have in the fridge.
  • Make sure whatever pan or skillet you use doesn't have plastic on the handle because it will melt under the broiler.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Debut: Vegan Carrot Cake

It took me a while to think of what dessert would be worthy enough to become my first post. Finally it hit me: mom's carrot cake! But of course, I had to change it a little. I decided to make it vegan. It was super easy to veganize this recipe because the only non-vegan ingredient in the cake was eggs. I had to do some reading on vegan egg replacers, so I went here: http://theppk.com/veganbaking.html. I decided on Ener-G Egg Replacer for this recipe and it worked great.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

For the cake:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 3 eggs (Ener-G Egg replacer equivalent: 4 1/2 teaspoons of replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons of warm water)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups shredded carrot

  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple

  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 13x9x2 pan. Dust with flour. Sift flour/soda/powder/salt/cinnamon. Make well in center, add in order: sugar, oil, eggs/egg replacer, vanilla. Beat with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in carrots, coconut, and pineapple. Blend well. Pour into pan. Bake for 45 minutes until center springs back. Cool in pan.

For the frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

  • 1/4 cup softened butter (I used Earth Balance vegan margarine)

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoons milk (obviously, soy/rice/almond is ok here)

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Beat cheese with the butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Add milk if necessary to make spreadable.

A few tips about this recipe:

  • Now, I have a friend who doesn't like pineapple in her carrot cake. In this recipe the pineapple is essential in keeping the cake moist. However, if you really really really really really don't want to use pineapple subsitute unsweetened apple sauce instead.
  • This is for all cakes in general. If you noticed in the picture the frosting doesn't look quite set up. That's because I was really hungry and frosted the cake while it was still warm. Of course, the cake was extremely tasty still hot from the oven but the frosting will not set. You can decide whether or not you're ok with that.

Introduction

My name is Blake and I like to bake. And as a recent vegetarian I love experimenting with recipes that can satisfy omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans all at once. I am no chef so I like for my recipes to be as easy as possible. And perhaps most importantly, I'm a college student, so cooking on a budget is essential. All of the recipes can be recreated by omnivores and vegetarians and I'll try my hardest to make every recipe vegan friendly. Hopefully I can inspire you to get in the kitchen and make some delicious and wallet friendly meals and desserts.