Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blackberry Vinaigrette and the North Georgia Fair

I passed my school real estate exam! It is a big burden off my shoulders. There are still a few more hoops to jump through before I can get my license and start working. I have had to good interviews with brokers this week and hope to have some more in the near future.

Monday night Jamie and I went to the North Georgia State Fair. It is our second annual. Mainly, we go to see the animals. Jamie can not get enough of the farm animals, I think she wants to live with them...or have them live with her.
There was a sheep that I liked a lot. I nicked named him Insulation Man! He was awesome and felt like blown insulation. He was my buddy for the evening. Good times with Insulation Man. I bet he could keep you warm!
Before we left for the fair I made us a nice salad with a blackberry vinaigrette.

Blackberry Vinaigrette

4 large blackberries
3/4 cup of oil
1/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt

In a food processor, blend the oil and garlic until the garlic is well chopped. Once the garlic is in small pieces, add the vinegar, pepper and salt. Blend until well mixed. Ass the blackberries and blend until the dressing turns a deep red. The berries can have a few chunks, it adds a nice texture. Chill and serve.

Did I mention that I got bit by a horse?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend Update

It has been a nice weekend. Pretty low-key but relaxing and I felt like I have gotten a lot accomplished today. I have my school real estate test in the morning. I will need to study tonight but I should do well. I am confident.

Today I met the contractor at the house and we talked a lot about the moisture issue and may be calling in a specialist. I hope it gets resolved without much cost. It will get corrected either way, it has to, no other option. I am nothing if not persistent.

I spoke with my Realtor and he gave me some very good advice and contacts for getting into a brokerage firm. I made a few calls and I now have two interviews this week. One of them at Palmer House seems very promising.

After some hardcore thrift store hunting, I made it home to dig into the mess that is clearing up an 11 year old criminal charge to get my real estate license. Of course, the State of Maine gave me the run around but I called my mother (who works for the state) and put her on the case. She is pretty good at getting the job done, like mother like son.

Last night I made an inspired treat while Jamie and I watched Grizzly Man. I have been reading the La Belle Vegan blog for awhile now. She referenced another blog that made Banana Soft Serve, and I got the itch. Mine is a bit different and I can not quite call it raw, but I will call it delicious!

Chocolate Strawberry and Banana Soft Serve

3 frozen bananas
3 frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Cut the banana and strawberries into small chunks (1 inch). In a food processor, blend the bananas for 3-4 minutes until all the chunks have broken apart. Add the strawberries and chocolate chips and blend until the banana begins to fluff, should take about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and blend a bit more. Serve and garnish with more chocolate chips or even a strawberry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mongolian Sweet Sauce, soy curls, house and dragon fruit

It has been a long week and I am very exhausted. Friday was my last day of class time for my real estate license. We had a pre-test that I passed and I take the actual class test on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

The house has the electric on, drywall up, and the HVAC complete. I hope it is done soon but we may have hit a snag with some moisture in the home. The contractor and I are headed there on Monday to see what we can do about the issue. Fingers crossed.

Today I made some Mongolian Soy Curls and Veggies. It came out pretty well. I have only used soy curls once before so I am still learning. The Mongolian sauce came out very well.

Mongolian Sweet Sauce

4 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of chili paste

In a sauce pan, heat the oil - do not let it get to hot. Add the ginger (minced), garlic (chopped), and soy sauce. let the liquid begin to heat up and add the brown sugar and chili paste. Bring to a simmer for about 3 minutes (until the sugar has fully dissolved).

Several days ago, we got some dragon fruit from the Asian market. These were so colorful that we had to take some pictures. We even made a dragon fruit juice! Yum!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

Yesterday was a good day. I was off from work as well as my class. Jamie and I woke up and went to the grand opening of the Loving Hut. The food was nice and I liked the hardwood floors. It will not be my favorite vegan spot in Atlanta but it will get a visit sometimes. We saw a few people we knew but mainly stayed to ourselves. There were many people there and it was fairly crowded.

After that, we did a few errands including getting a refund for faulty items at a major retailer. I had to call corporate to get it resolved but that is the way it works. I have no issues making a scene.

That night Jamie and I decided to go to the framers market and find a few items that we had never cooked with before and make something fun with it. We each came up with two item (artichokes, radishes, spaghetti squash, ginger), some had been used before but we were committed to using them in a new way. We ended up deciding on artichokes and spaghetti squash. The dish was actually fantastic and we added some kale chips with it as well.

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

1 med spaghetti squash
1 bunch of basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of water
4 tablespoons of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of artichoke heart (optional)

Pre-heat the oven at 400. Cut the squash the long way and remove all seeds and soft middle parts. In the "bowl" sections of the squash, pour about 1 cup of water in each half. Wrap in tin foil and place in the oven (open face up) for 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, remove the squash and pour the water out. Then place back in the oven (open face down) and bake for another 12-15 minutes. The squash should be tender but not mushy.

In the meantime, in a food processor, place the pine nuts, oil, and garlic, and blend until semi-smooth. The add all the basil and blend again. Slowly, add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, pepper and artichoke heart and blend until fully smooth. Chill until the squash is cooked.

Once the squash is cooked, take a fork and gently pull length-wise on in the flesh of squash. It should just come part in strings. Top with pesto and serve.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Apple Cheesecake and Spanish Rice

Today was my first day of Real Estate classes. It is a fairly boring class thus far but I have hopes that it will get better. Even if it does not, it is only for two weeks and I will just deal. It is a means to an end and I have high hopes that it will get me out a my work related rut.

Tonight was more apples!

Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust
3 med sized apples
2 1/2 tubs of vegan cream cheese
1 cup of apple juice
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of cloves
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Dice 2 med apples into fairly small chunks. The apples do not need to be microscopic but should be less then 1/4 inch each. In a sauce pan, heat the apple juice until it is near simmering. Add the diced apples, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of cloves. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, the mixture should be a nice brown color with the apple beginning to get soft.

In a food processor, thoroughly combine the 1/3 cup of sugar with the lemon juice, vanilla, cream cheese, and 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon. You may need to try several times, stirring the mixture with a spoon to get it completely mixed. The cream cheese mixture should be fairly smooth with limited lumps. Add the mixture of the apples and brown sugar mixture and blend until the filling is smooth.

Slice your remaining apple lengthwise, and place 1/2 of it on the bottom of the graham cracker crust. Pour the filling into the crust and gently smooth the top. Put the cheesecake in the oven for about 23-25 minutes. The edges should be starting to dry a bit, pull the cheesecake out of the oven and (gently) quickly place the remaining apple slices on the top of the cheesecake. Place back into the oven for about 5-7 minutes. Let cool for about 3 hours and serve.

Spanish rice was on the menu for dinner. I took a quick trip to the farmers market after my class but I never mind shopping for food! I have a few spins on the dish that you may enjoy.

Spanish Rice

1 banana
1 jalapeno pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/3 cup of water (or veggie broth)
1 cup of black beans
1 cup of corn
3/4 cup of white rice
2/3 cup of tomato sauce
2 tablespoon of onion
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin

In a pot, heat the oil until it is hot. Add the jalapeno pepper, onion, and garlic. Do not let them darken, just loosen up some of the garlic's natural oils and the heat from the pepper. Once they are hot (but before then darken) add the rice and stir. The rice needs to get covered with the oil. Let the rice fry in the oil for about 8 minutes., stir occasionally. The rice should begin to brown a bit. Add the water, tomato sauce, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cover. Let the rice boil for about 20 minutes. Until most rice, you will need to stir it a few times so that the tomato sauce does not burn to the pot. Cook until the rice is soft. You may need to add more water. In a separate pan, heat the beans and corn. Once the rice is done and the bean are heated, combine and remove from the heat.

Slice a banana into 1/4 in slivers. Plate your rice (on spinach is nice) and put the banana slices on the rice. Feel free to garnish with guacamole and cilantro.

It will be a busy week between taking care of the house, my real estate class, and still putting in full time hours at my job. It will all be worth it in the end and I am already looking forward to some big life changes!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Apple Jubilee and Apple Muffins

Today, Jamie and I went to North Georgia to an Apple Jubilee. I am still not exactly sure what it was but we had a good time. There was U-Pick Apples, a bee/honey demonstration, a strange museum where they gave us a recipe for a pig brain omelet (no joke), a farm petting zoo, and a christian boy clog dancing. You can not beat that. In the gift hall, we found a apple pie pocket that happened to be vegan! Score! ...we bought four...

For dinner we made pizza and after, I had to use some of the great apples we picked to make apple muffins!

Apple Muffins

2 cups of diced apple
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of apple sauce
1/2 cup of soymilk
1/4 cup of margarine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Pre-heat oven at 350 and place cup cake paper in the indentations in your muffin baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced apple, all liquid, apple sauce, and margarine. Stir vigorously until the margarine has "melted" into the mixture. Then add all other ingredients and mix well. The mixture should be sweet to the taste. Even distribute the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and remove from the cup cake paper.

we picked many apples

they knew i was not going to eat them

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tofu Chickin Fingers recipe as requested

I am nothing if I am not a crowd pleaser.

Tofu Chickin Fingers

The Marinade

1/2 pound of extra firm tofu
1 cup of water
3/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1/4 cup of "chicken" broth powder
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric

In a 9x9 baking pan, mix the water with the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, garlic, onion, broth powder, and turmeric. Take the tofu, pat it dry, and cut into "fingers" about 1 inch wide and 3 inches in length. Set the tofu fingers into the liquid mixture and let marinade for about 4 hours.

The Battering

1 cup of veggie (or "chicken") broth
3 tablespoons of mustard
2 cups of flour
1 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 cup of "chicken" broth powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 tablespoon of black pepper
3 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of turmeric
1 teaspoon of celery seeds

In a deep bowl that is at least 4 inches wide, combine all dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. In a dish that is at least 1 inch deep and 4 inches in length, combine the liquid broth and mustard. Mix and then add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir well. It should begin to thicken.

In a sauce pan, heat about 1 cup of oil until it is close to smoking. Do not let the oil burn. Take each tofu finger from the marinade and dip into the mustard mixture. Coat well. Then place into the flour mixture and firmly (but gently) press the flour mixture onto the tofu. Carefully place the tofu finger into the hot oil. Turn about about three minutes or when the tofu batter begins to brown. Repeat with all the tofu fingers. Serve hot.

Last night I made burritos and watched 3 hours worth of Top Chef. I am glad to see some more Atlanta people doing well.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tofu Chickin, Mashed Potatoes, and Ranch Dressing

Jamie returned from Dragoncon on Monday night but I was working. I made her a "welcome home" meal Tue night. We had breaded tofu, mashed potatoes, salad, and I tried my hand at ranch dressing. The dressing was a little sweet so I will work on it a bit more until I get the recipe down.

Also, as an update, I think I have the recipe down for my chickpea chicken salad. I will post it soon.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

4 small red potatoes
3 cups of water
1/3 cup of soymilk
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of dill weed
1 teaspoon of paprika

Boil the potatoes until soften. Drain water off and put potatoes back into sauce pan. Add the margarine and mash with either a fork or masher. Once the margarine has melted, add the nutritional yeast and soymilk. Mash and mix until the potatoes are creamy and soft. Add the rest of the spices and mix well. Serve hot.

Tonight it is 3 hours worth of top chef!

If anyone has an interest, I may post the recipe for the tofu soon. Let me know.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spinach and Shiitake Soup with a Brownie

Spinach and Shiitake Soup

5 hydrated shiitake mushrooms
1/2 bunch of spinach leaves
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 sweet onion (chopped)
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of veggie broth powder
2 tablespoons of rice
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

In a sauce pan, add the water, broth powder, crushed red pepper, soy sauce and rice. Bring to a boil until the rice is nearly soft. This should take about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Once the rice is completely soft and the mushrooms are hot, add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for another 5 minutes, until the spinach is soft and slightly wilted. Serve hot.

I got some painting done at the house yesterday. The dry wall has been completed and it makes a world of difference. I forgot to take a picture of it but I will post it next time. It has been a relaxing weekend, if uneventful. I start real estate classes next week. Should be an eventful month.

The other day I made some brownies but they did not come out of the pan. I need to work on the recipe before I make it known. Here is a nice picture of a salvaged brownie with strawberry jam on top. They were tasty, just not aesthetically pleasing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Bean Hummus

This weekend is Dragoncon. It is not my scene however, it has been a yearly tradition for Jamie. She spends much of her month sewing and getting her costumes ready. They always look amazing and prove that her efforts are never in error. This year, I decided to help her. I made Jamie some food to take! I made some hummus and some of the chickin salad. I hope it is enough for her weekend.

White Bean Hummus

1 can of northern white beans
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons of tahini
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of red onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oil
3/4 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cumin

In a food processor, blend the beans, garlic, onion and tahini until the beans are mostly smooth. If the mixture becomes to dry, add some of the lemon juice or oil. Once the mixture is semi smooth, add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add more spices until it meets your taste. This recipe is very flexable and difficult to error with.

Have fun at Dragoncon Jamie!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Hampshire trip

Back from my short vacation to New Hampshire. I had a great time. It was really nice to be back in New England, fresh air, rocky coast, familiar faces, and good memories. Interestingly, Concord had a number of good vegan options.

Thursday was the coast day. We went near Portsmouth and found a spot to park where Tofu the Whale lived. Weird. We did not get to see Tofu since there was a admission fee that neither Emily nor I was interested in paying. We found some fun walking trails and an old building that had been painted. I climbed it of course.
On our way back to Concord we found this awesome vegan restaurant on the side of the road in the middle of no where, Susty's Cafe. We got soy fritters and tofu fries as appetizers. Emily had a seitan salad and I had to rock the shepherds pie. For dessert she had a cookie and I got cake. I forgot to take a picture of the cake before I ate you can see, it was yummy!

Friday we had lunch at Cafe Indigo. The server was kind of a clown but the food was decent. I had a tofufish sandwich and Emily had a quesadilla. Then we took a trip to a lake in north central New Hampshire. We walked around a little town and sat at the water. There were a lot of boats and it was then that I realized how much colder New England is then Georgia. That night Emily and I met up with her friend Amanda and we were off to the casino. Emily won some money and we went to see Halloween 2. It was okay, nothing exceptional. Then it was to Portsmouth and the Friendly Toast! My old stomping ground.

Sat was rainy and was a food, movies, conversation day. Sunday was the Boston trip. We went to get some food at Grasshopper. It was always a food spot when going to shows in the Boston area. I had fungus soup, and bar-b-que seitan pork salad. Emily had fried chicken salad and we split some tofu chicken fingers. We tried the cheesecake for dessert but it was not good.

My flight was cancelled when I got to the airport but I finagled my way back to Atlanta with only an hour delay and a few mins lay over in DC.