Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Day of 2012

Are you ready to ring in 2013 tonight? We don't have any big plans. We will be making our usual New Year's Eve snacky feast and, as usual, Tony will be laughing at me as I try not to fall asleep before midnight.

Last night I tried out a new cookbook I received for Christmas, The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe. I made the Gazpacho, which I guess is kind of an odd soup to make in December, considering how it's served chilled. But we had a roaring fire going, so we were okay. The recipe worked out great. I used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh. I also doubled the amount of diced avocado, which never hurts. I love a soup that can be made entirely in the blender. The fewer dirty dishes, the happier I am!

This morning I used up the very last of our Christmas leftovers, from my giant sweet potato casserole. I was excited to try out my new waffle iron. Sweet potato pecan waffles, anyone? I just mashed up a cup of the leftover casserole and added it to a standard vegan waffle batter. Delicious! I froze the leftovers, so I can pop them in the toaster for the kids' breakfast all week.

Olivia is ready to party like it's 2013! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Tarka

Today is a chilly, drizzly day and we have spent most of it in our PJ's. Olivia and I are getting over colds, which makes staying inside and under blankets even more appealing!
Before Christmas, we stopped in one afternoon at Tarka, a new-ish Indian restaurant in our hood. We placed our order at the counter and helped ourselves to mango lemonade. 
We were impressed with how quickly the plates of food flew out to our table, yet it all tasted fresh and was presented quite nicely.
We started with vegetable pakoras, served with mint chutney, and dusted with a bright red spice blend that added an extra layer of flavor.
We also shared an order of vegetable samosas, filled with potatoes and peas.

The garlic naan bread was a highlight for me. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but this naan had minced garlic stuffed into every little crack and crevice. The more garlic the better, as far as I'm concerned.

For my entree, I ordered the Dhingri Mattar Paneer. Paneer cheese, mushroom, and peas in a tomato cream sauce. I may have moaned aloud as I dug into this rich, savory dish. Fabulous.

We typically choose Indian buffets so that we can get in and out in a hurry, before our two little monkeys reach their "sitting up straight, using indoor voices, and eating with utensils" limit. But Tarka's food tastes fresher than a buffet, and the food appears in front of you almost as quickly. Can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pinterest vs. Cookbooks

Since I joined Pinterest, I've come across so many recipes that I'm dying to try. The other day I had a realization...thanks to Pinterest, I could pretty much stop buying cookbooks.
That doesn't mean I will! There's something about a new cookbook. I read them like novels, sitting down with a cup of tea to pore over them. I like the little anecdotes that make a cookbook personal.
However, I'm referencing my cookbooks a little less often these days. What about you? Found any "must-make" recipes via Pinterest?
Speaking of "must-make," please try this Buffalo Style Tofu, with vegan ranch dressing. So addictive.
Here's another find, Chickpea Tagine with Cinnamon, Cumin and Carrots. Currants aren't listed in the title (too many C's?) but they are the surprise star of this dish, adding a lovely sweetness to this Morroccan-inspired stew.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas!
Just taking a quick break from lying in front of the fireplace like a sloth to post a few pics of today's feast.
Green bean casserole. No canned, condensed cream of mushroom soup here! The recipe is from Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations and it's so good, I've already called dibs on the leftovers.
Roasted brussels sprouts, a Christmas tradition in our house. I love these little green guys.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I'm slightly disappointed with this dish. I roasted a whole head of garlic, yet I can't really taste it in the potatoes. Next time...two heads!

Sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pecans. I knew I'd peeled and boiled too many sweet potatoes when I realized I didn't have a casserole dish large enough to bake them in. Luckily, I remembered my 14" deep dish pizza pan and it worked out.

My plate, below. In addition to the above dishes, I also made Oh She Glows' Pumpkin Garlic Knots, as I have for the past few years. There's not much Christmas-y about these rolls. I'd say they're more Thanksgiving-ish, since they contain pumpkin. But they're so delicious, who cares if they're nontraditional?

For dessert I made Tony's favorite, coconut cream pie. I'll admit, I used boxed pudding mix and a store-bought graham cracker crust. That's how Tony's mom makes it and that's how he likes it! It is pretty hard to turn down a slice.

I also made my first-ever tart, a cranberry-orange-walnut fruit tart. The recipe is from The Voluptuous Vegan, a cookbook I've had for ages but don't consult that often. I think I'm prejudiced against cookbooks that have recipes arranged into pre-planned menus. I don't know if that's the control freak in me saying, "I'll plan my own menus, thanks!" or what.  I'm trying to get over it. The success of this tart is helping in that endeavor. It's so festive-looking, and makes a nice end to a holiday meal without being overly sweet (because we have the coconut pie for that.)

What was on your Christmas menu?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Vegan Fusion Testing

It's been awhile...hope you've been well! I'm not quite ready to return to regular blogging...I still take pictures of my food, but finding time to write posts is a different matter. Today I am just popping in to share some recipes I've been testing for Joni Marie Newman's new cookbook, Vegan Fusion.
First up, I made Spicy Korean Jackfruit BBQ Burritos. There were several components to this recipe.
First, I mixed together the Korean BBQ sauce. This was my first time using black sesame seeds, which I found at the Asian grocery. They taste just like regular sesame seeds, but look much cooler!
Next, I made Sesame Carrot Coleslaw. Tart and a little sweet, this is a nice light coleslaw for those times when you don't want to take the mayonnaise-laden route.

Those components were easy to make in advance. I made them in the morning. Then, at dinnertime, I prepared Cumin Cilantro Garlic Lime Rice with Toasted Coconut. That name is a mouthful. A delicious mouthful of many of my favorite ingredients! Being a cilantro fiend, of course I loved this rice. I could think of many different uses for it.

Finally, I made the Korean Jackfruit BBQ. This was my first time making jackfruit BBQ. It was difficult to find the right type of jackfruit (canned in brine, not in syrup) but I eventually tracked it down at a tiny Indo-European grocery. It was worth the search. As it cooks, the jackfruit breaks down into shreds, resembling pulled pork.

The final product, the burrito, with layers of jackfruit BBQ, coleslaw, rice, and a generous drizzle of BBQ sauce. This is a true fusion recipe, with so many various flavors and influences. Takes a good bit of labor, but worth the effort.

I also tested Creamy Cilantro Pepito Pesto Sauce, which I served over roasted veggies and rice. I'd never eaten a creamy pesto before. This one is super thick, as you can see.

Next up, El Paso Egg Rolls with Creamy Sesame Sriracha Sauce. The filling for these egg rolls has a Southwestern vibe, including plenty of creamy avocado. I chose to bake my egg rolls rather than fry them, but I don't recommend that. The egg roll skins were tough and leathery. This was my very first time making egg rolls, and they were surprisingly easy to assemble. So I will make them again soon, and fry them. I think the result will be much better.

Finally, my favorite recipe so far, Chinese Style Macaroni Salad, dressed with Sweet Chili Sauce. This pasta salad has a wonderful variety of textures -- toothsome pasta, crunchy cashews, and crisp snap peas. Then there's the sweet chili dressing, a perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Tony also loved this and requested that I add it to the regular rotation.

That's it for now. Tomorrow I will start preparing our Christmas feast, and hopefully be back soon to share that with you. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!