Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

My Sweetheart's mother gave me this cookbook for Christmas. That, coupled with my recent decision to plan out my meals at the beginning of the week (and, just to make it more exciting, to pull all recipes from the same book) had me thumbing through the book and I landed on this.
It was good. I didn't blow me away, but it was good. The sauce reminded me of Broccoli Potato Salad upon which I lived through grad school. It was super easy and a great way to sneak some more vegetables in a diet. However, I would suggest cutting the amount of pasta in half.
I would make it again for a picnic but, with so many other delicious salads out there (and because of it's similarity to my beloved Broccoli Potato Salad) I probably won't make this again on my own.
But it was still good.


Calories: I'll let you know
Makes: Enough for 4
Cooking time: less than 30 min
Find it: On page 90 of 1000 Vegan Recipes
Tastes: Decent, B+

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Yes. I HAVE been living under a rock. I've never made my own guacamole. But that ends here. HOLY COW. It was SO good. I have no words. I used apple cider vinegar instead of lime juice to no ill effect. I've made this four or five times in the past week so I've had plenty of time to experiment with lime juice or cider and whether or not I like tomatoes and other 'extras' in there.

Turns out, I like guacamole. I doesn't seem to matter what's in it.

Make some. Now. It's delicious.

Calories: Depends on what's in it. One cup of avocado contains 235 calories
Makes: Again, depends on what you put in it. Somewhere in the ballpark of 1.25 cups
Find it: On page 69 of Veganomicon
Tastes: Divine

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

Cheese. The food of the devil. It is probably the one food that stops many a vegetarian from becoming vegan. And I can't say I was immune.

When I was a girl, my favorite activities were to eat and read. Simultaneously. There are an embarrassing number of photos of me with an open book and a plate of cheese and crackers. Mostly cheese. The smellier the better as far as I was concerned. It was a vice I shared with my father.

I remember being sad that I would have to give up cheese but, after I discovered how much my health improved after I gave up dairy, it really wasn't that hard.

But when I saw a recipe for goat cheese (and feta and cheddar) in Vegetarian Times, I was all over it. Especially since it used cashews, something I haven't been able to get enough of lately.

Just making it was fun! You get to throw everything in the food processor, wrap it up in cheesecloth and hang it up to age for the day. I knew it would be good when I tasted the 'batter' from the food processor. But I was very surprised when I tasted the finished product: It's smooth, salty, creamy and dead on.

I used it to make CD's Greek Style Pizza again. Unbelievable. And so easy. I told people I was making cheese and they were dumbfounded. But it was the easiest thing to do. You should try it. It will certainly fix any cheese cravings you might have.

So when the devil comes knocking, there's no need to answer the door.

Calories: 140 per serving (no indication of serving size)
Makes: 10 oz
Find it: Here
Tastes: Fabulous!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

You gotta be kiddin' me! Do I ever feel sheepish.

I've been a subscriber to Vegetarian Times forever. Three years? I've made I think three recipes during that time. All from their issue on slow cooking (January, 2008).

I've loved their articles and reviews on gadgets but I've never really gotten into their recipes. WHY?! Did I think I was so smart with my zillion cookbooks? Whatever my problem was, I'm over it. I went through about a dozen back issues and flagged a ton of recipes to try. Hope you're ready for some Vegetarian Times reviews.

This is "Pamper Weekend". That means my Sweetheart is out of town. I scheduled a massage for this morning (divine!) and lots of cooking.
I'll start with one that is finishing up at I write this: Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream.

Holy cow is it good!

I've been on an ice cream kick this week.
If you like fruit ice cream, this one is probably the best. It's also the very first time I've used agave nectar. It is, indeed the sweetener of the Heavens. It's so light and sweet without taking over. You really need to give it a whirl if you've never had it. It is expensive though so I would only recommend using it when you're going to taste the difference.

One thing will you notice the difference on: Jam vs. Jelly. Please use jam or preserves and not jelly. Please, trust me. Jam or preserves.

I confess I only had 8 0z of frozen strawberries so I cheated and threw in some red raspberries. I don't know if it made a big difference, but this ice cream is SO GOOD! Another substitution I made was almond milk with a dash of corn starch to replace the soy creamer. Worked just fine.

You'll fool any dairy lover with this ice cream and I doubt they'll care. In fact, I think I'm going to make this again and switch out the strawberries for, say black raspberries? Blueberries? I predict another winner.

Just like all the other recipes I've tried recently from Vegetarian Times. To be posted soon...

Calories: 169 per serving. Good luck eating just one.
Makes: The recipe says it serves six. I say it just serves me!
Find it: Here
Tastes: Like you should go make it NOW!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Corn Tamale Casserole

I bought a new cookbook (surprise, surprise!); Fast Cooking in a Slow Cooker Every Day of the Year by JoAnn Rachor. Since I lent out my favorite slow cooking book, I bought a new one to help me get through my newest slow cooking kick. I usually am really good at buying cookbooks. I have not, up til now, bought a dud. I am nervous about this one, though. I tried the Corn Tamale Casserole yesterday. It was not good.
Don't get me wrong, it didn't taste bad, it just didn't taste like, well, anything. This recipe needs a serious overhaul before I'd try it again. The cornmeal sort of sucks up everything and while the result wasn't dry, it also just didn't have enough spice in it. Maybe replace some of the tomato sauce with salsa? Or some hot sauce? Use more spice? Less cornmeal?
One nice thing about the book is that charts are provided to make it easy to make really small batches (about 3 cups) or really big ones (6.5 cups). I made the small one. I'm glad I did. I ate it for dinner last night, and I'm going to finish it for lunch, but only because I don't want to waste food.
Another thing that makes me nervous is that the author includes using rice in some recipes. Granted she suggests the rice be cooked when you put it in to start, but most authors suggest putting the cooked rice in at the end to prevent rice gumminess. So I'm not sure.
But, if this book turns out to be not so hot, I can always lean on one of my 33 (!) other cookbooks.

Makes: about 3 cups
Find it: On page 41 of Fast Cooking in a Slow Cooker Every Day of the Year
Taste: What taste?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tangy Marinated Vegetables

I love pickles. My mother used to make Sweet Refrigerator Pickles. It entailed sugar, vinegar, maybe some water, onions, cucumbers and time. That last part was the one I had trouble with. They're supposed to sit in the fridge for days - a week, maybe? I'd be into them within hours. To this day, I've never had a batch last to the end of the week - when I'm supposed to START eating them. I wonder if they're any better?

Anyhow, I love Vegetarian Times, so when they published a recipe for Tangy Marinated Vegetables, that sounded an awful lot like "Time to Make Pickles" to me!
I made them an hour ago. I have eaten some already. They are great!
The recipe calls for carrots, broccoli and mushrooms but, hey, it also says to marinate at least four hours before eating. Yeah, right. I substituted onions for the mushrooms. I'd like to try the mushrooms someday, but, not having had them on hand, I stuck with onions. And they're all so good. They're perfect for a picnic or just to take along to a pot luck. Super easy to make - but no one needs to know.

Next time, I'll layer the vegetables. Right now, I've got poor broccoli on the bottom that I can't reach so I've not had those, yet.

Maybe they'll make it the whole four hours!

Calories: 61 calories per 1/2 cup
Makes: About 4 cups
Find it: Here
Taste: Delicious!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Banana Vice Cream

I used to LOVE ice cream. My parents actually tricked me into walking with ice cream. My grandmother used to let me eat it for breakfast (sorry, mom). I used to eat it all the time. It was also the food that first got me to notice that maybe there was a problem with too much dairy. After I became a vegetarian, I had a huge shake one day. Before I even finished it, I started feeling 'cold-y' (scratchy, sore throat, pounding head, etc). I got really sick. It happened again later after another milk shake and I started cutting out the dairy - including ice cream.

Which was too bad because I had just bought a really nice ice cream maker - the kind that you don't need to pre-freeze. You just throw the batter in and turn it on. I had also bought a gourmet ice cream recipe book, Perfect Scoop. It's good - great, in fact. I may still use it for the Italian Ice recipes and I may try to veganize the recipes. But, for now, I'm sticking with this bad boy.

Vice Cream is an all vegan, ice cream cookbook. It even has recipes for raw ice cream if that's your thing. I've had this book for awhile but never seem to remember to make ice cream. But my sweetheart does. He asked for Banana ice cream. I don't know why. And, as it turns out, neither does he. He said he's never had it before but thought it would be interesting. So, after putting it off for weeks, I finally chose this weekend (the hottest so far this year) to try it out. And, over all, I'd say it's pretty good.

The base is made out of cashews and maple syrup. I was very doubtful. Until I took the lid off the processor. The batter tasted very much like the custard batters I used to make for French Ice Cream. The syrup provided a buttery, rich taste and the cashews made it silky smooth. I threw in a couple of bananas and some vanilla extract and poured the whole thing in the ice cream maker.

Then I started reading the book and realized I should only use achohol free extracts to assist with freezing (duh!). I had not. But it froze anyhow. Still, next time I'll use achohol free.
I also thought that, should I make Banana Vice Cream again, I should use either black-ish bananas or roast them for a deeper flavor. My mother always taught me to bake with blackened bananas. She said it was for better flavor but, as I age, I wonder if it isn't because they're so much cheaper.

After about an hour, it was done and we each had a bowl. It was good. The texture was shockingly rich, creamy, smooth - very much like dairy ice cream. I doubt a dairy eater could tell the difference. The taste was banana. Perhaps this wasn't the best flavor by which to judge a cookbook. Bananas in real life are usually served with something else: Peanut butter, chocolate or pie. This ice cream was no different. It did taste good but a scoop of chocolate or peanut butter ice cream would have really helped it. So I guess I know what I'm making today! Also, next time I'll cut back a bit on the syrup. It did provide the buttery tasting background but my sweetheart also took his first bite and announced 'Pancakes!'. NOT the response I was looking for.

I HIGHLY suggest trying out some of these recipes. But maybe start with Chocolate.

Makes: About one quart
Find it: On page 34 of Vice Cream by Jeff Rogers
Taste: Like rich, velvety Banana ice cream.