Booze-day Tuesday II

It's ok that I'm a day behind on this week's themes, right? If I told you I had some killer boozy food last night, would that make it all right?

Because I totally did! That right there is Penne alla Vodka, and it was fantastic! According to some, using vodka in this manner helps to release tomato flavors that are otherwise inaccessible, which sounds fascinating. Sure, using vodka may have been a marketing ploy back in the '70s, but it did result in this tasty number. Win-win!

I browsed several vegan and non-vegan recipes, looking for inspiration on how to achieve that pink creaminess of which I am so very fond (seriously, I think jarred vodka sauce is the prettiest of them all, and I get rage-y when none of them are vegan). Below you'll find my take on this classic boozy pasta sauce.

Penne all Vodka
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (or use whole peeled tomatoes and crush them in the pan)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup chopped parsely
cooked penne (I used 2 12-oz boxes)

Heat the olive oil in large pan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Bring to a bowl and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat a little so the tomatoes aren't boiling so rapidly, but keep them simmering. Add the vodka and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk and parsely, stir. Add your cooked pasta to the sauce, toss to coat. Garnish with more parsley and serve in big bowls with toasted baguette rounds and wine. Lots of wine.


Monday Morning Breakfast II (or Tuesday Brunch?)

*sorry, I'm late!*

I decided to take Saturday and Sunday off because of a pretty stressful week and busy weekend; however, I full intend to post on future weekends, partly due to the fact that Saturday and Sunday are my favorite themed posts! Next week, look forward to a beautiful day at the Red Stick Farmer's Market, where I intend to shop for produce, local fruity wines (blackberry, muscadine, and orange!), and munch on my favorite pepita and cilantro hummus. On Sunday, I'll share something new - most likely a new vegan snack food or ingredient. Do you have any suggestions for new products you think I should try?

Today's theme focuses on breakfast foods! What better way to kick start a long day/week with a huge and hearty plate of waffles?

The is hands-down my favorite waffle recipe. If you don't own a copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch, then you need to rectify that asap! I've tried most of the recipes in this book, none of which have failed me (but that shouldn't surprise you, it's ISA!). I cooked up a batch of her Cornbread Waffles which are fluffy, gritty-in-a-good-way, and majorly delicious.

Topped with bananas, blackberries and a bit o' maple syrup, these waffles are tops. I managed to get 6 regular full-sized waffles (per the recipe) and 1 mini waffle from this recipe. 

First bite, yum!


Pie day Friday!

I'll keep this sweet and short. I made apple pie!

Happy mofo y'all!

Thrifty Thursdays I

*Disclaimer: I wrote and prepped this all yesterday, but forgot to publish! It's still Thrifty Thursday and Taco Day in my opinion*

A lot of folks are under the impression that being vegan means shelling out an exorbitant amount of cash on  organic meat and cheese analogues, frozen entrees, and triple-filtered coconut elixirs, but that simply is not true. While it's unfortunate that some of the aforementioned prepackaged items' price tags are higher than their non-vegan competitors, they aren't vital to a healthy vegan diet. If you have a basic knowledge of kitchen and cooking skills (how to wield a knife, boil water, use a whisk, etc.), you can eat pretty healthy vegan meals on a small budget, no problem.

In response to such claims by the media/internet/anti-vegan meanies, many resources have started to appear that combat the myth that healthy foods cannot be inexpensive. A quick search for "cheap vegan" populates thousands of articles, blogs and recipes for inexpensive vegan meals and spending tips.

If it's a cookbook you're looking for, try Ellen Jaffe Jones' Eat Vegan on $4 a Day or Robin Robertson's Vegan on the Cheap. Both cookbooks not only provide all sorts of recipes, but offer tips and techniques for getting those most out of your dollar and grocery trip.

If you couldn't already tell, today's mofo theme is Thrifty Thursday, where I share a cheap vegan meal that's also tasty and healthy. Since today is also National Taco day, I couldn't think of a more fitting way to celebrate. Happy taco day!

Taco's are so versatile, so it's easy to find a tasty combination that doesn't cost you much. Store-bought corn and wheat tortillas usually aren't very expensive, but it's even more cost effective to make your own. Choose your fillings based on availability, the seasons, and sales. Potatoes, tofu, cauliflower, eggplant, bell/hot peppers,  onions, mushroom, squash, beans, rice, corn, lettuce, and/or tomato all work wonderfully hugged between a corn or flour tortilla. Add whatever spice you have on hand - chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne, salt/pepper - and saute.

2 bell peppers, jalapeno, yellow squash, zucchini, cauliflower (not pictured)
After a $15.00 trip to the grocery store, I managed to make enough taco filling for about 30 tacos. A portion of that money went to the tortillas (about $3) and a can of beans ($1), which, had I made them from scratch, would have dropped the price down a bit. The remaining $11 was spent on vegetables and some TVP (bought in bulk).
all chopped up and ready to be seasoned
paprika, cumin, chili powder, nooch, oregano, s&p

Chopped veggies were coated in olive oil and the aforementioned spices, and roasted for 15 minutes, as were 3 russet potatoes. I also individually sauteed black beans, chickpeas, corn and mushrooms using a combination of the same spices. The TVP was leftover from yesterday's Chorizo and Potato Lasagna. Throw in some shredded spinach, diced tomato, and sliced red onion, and you'll have yourself quite a spread for the perfect taco bar!

I had enough filling for almost 30 tacos (my boyfriend, Matt, consumed at least 7), all for about $10-12 dollars. By no means was this food unhealthy - I limited the amount of oil when roasting, opting for a few spritzes of the spraying variety. A wide variety of vegetables and proteins were consumed, because it's always good to eat a variety of things. It's also always good to eat tacos.


Cookbook-ing Wednesday I

On this third day of mofo, I thought it would be nice to take a look at what other bloggers are working on. While I haven't had much time to peruse the hundreds of participating blogs, I have stumbled upon quite a few gems (and my bookmarks tab has gotten much fatter).

A dinner part is taking place each week at Cadry's Kitchen, and this week's party is inspired by the Wizard of Oz. Each recipe is based on a character from the film - the Scarecrow's long days guarding fields of corn motivated his Corn & Black Bean Salad, while the Tin Woodman made Tortilla Twigs which are filled with heart-healthy yummies like beans, berries, and artichoke hearts.

I'll be diligently following Muffin Topped now that I've discovered her theme: a month of waffles! I'm really intrigued by the Norwegian Potato Waffles she made yesterday.

And how could I forget Joyfulgirl's rice and beans? Yup, rice and beans all month long! Considering that rice and beans in a staple food in most countries around the world, I'm really looking forward to any new combinations I'm not familiar with!

And now onto today's theme - Cookbook Challenge Wednesday. I random selected a cookbook from my collection and it was...Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman! This book has some seriously promising meals. I haven't much from it, so I'm really glad it made it into the cookbook challenge. The recipe for this week is the Chorizo and Potato Lasagna!


Creamy potatoes layered between spicy chorizo tomato sauce, all topped with a silky cream sauce and baked to golden brown perfection! This recipe took about 1.5 hours to come together, but it was well worth the wait and effort. To cut down on time spent in the kitchen, one could easily prep the potatoes and chorizo sauce (including Celine and Joni's recipe for chorizo TVP) in advance. Speaking of the chorizo sauce, I could eat that on anything. It's a fresh tomato sauce with shallots, garlic, olives, capers and chorizo (from TVP), among other things. And that creamy topping was basically heated soymilk, cornstarch and some spices - simple and really yummy.

 Assembling took some patience because the potatoes are very delicate (although that could be attributed to my thin slicing and possibly overcooking). I got about two layers of potatoes and three layers of sauce from this recipe. Once you pour on the cream sauce, you bake it and...

There you have it! A bubbling golden brown, spicy, creamy Chorizo and Potato Lasagna. Now, if you'll excuse me...


BoozDay Tuesday I

It's Booze-day Tuesday!

Day two of my vegan mofo means a day full of spirits, bubbles, vino, booze! Today I'm exploring food made with alcohol, particularly beer. Surprisingly, I've never made or tasted beer bread. After a quick perusal of the interwebz, I realized just how easy beer bread would be. Frankly, I'm dumbfounded as to why I haven't made beer bread before, considering how much I love beer and bread. The result was well worth the five minutes it took to throw together, and an hour in the oven is hardly a long time when you're busy playing video games with your boyfriend (you remember the breakfast wizard, right?)


I chose something I had on hand, a Southampton Keller Pils. I thought a pilsner would be good for my first beer bread, as it is generally a lighter beer and would result in a more basic flavored bread. I definitely plan to experiment with darker beers, like a stout, and even some flavored beers - I can't stop eyeing the pumpkin ales rolling into the liquor shop around the corner!

Above is the dough, which came together like so:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix your dry ingredients and then add a 12 oz beer of your choice. Mix until combined and add to a greased loaf pan. Drizzle the top of your dough with 1/4 cup melted vegan butter (I used earth balance) or olive oil and bake for one hour in a 375 degree oven. Voila!

And it was good! It was slightly sweet, very soft, and had a very crunchy top. I chose a really basic recipe, but I think this bread could be vamped up a number of ways - dill & cheddar, pumpkin spice (with that pumpkin ale I mentioned earlier), garlic, etc. 

I paired my (huge) chunk of beer bread with a convenient boxed soap. I've never tried this soup before, but I enjoyed it. It was a little thin, so I added some boiled potatoes and carrots, and topped it with basil and cashew pieces. Not pictured is the half-empty bottle of wine - it's wouldn't be booze day without one.

So readers, do you have any suggestions for incorporating alcohol into food? What are some of your favorite dishes in which your pour on the booze?


Monday Morning Breakfast I

October is here, which means, among welcoming the cooler weather with open arms, that the blog-osphere just got a bit bigger - Vegan MoFo has officially started! Check out the Vegan Month of Food website if you'd like to learn more about this blogging extravaganza.

It's Monday, the first day of the week (take that, Sunday!), the first day of October, and the first day of mofo. What better way to commemorate all of these "firsts" than with the first meal of the day, breakfast! The credit for such an amazing first meal is due entirely to my boyfriend, Matt. He loves breakfast foods, and he isn't shy about it either.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast - John Gunther

Behold! The quintessential American vegan breakfast: tofu scramble, roasted potatoes, toast, and...carrot bacon! There are a handful of vegan "bacon" recipes out there - utilizing tofu, tempeh, and eggplant - but I haven't seen one that used carrots. Matt sliced the carrots thinly and marinated them in tamari, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Then he steamed and sauteed them until they were soft and the marinade had caramelized, making it nice and crispy.