Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chic Pea Crab Cakes

I have been procrastinating cooking an extravagant meal for some time now. I have been tied up with other things and just lacked the motivation. On the plus side, I had some time to brainstorm a few great ideas. Inspired by the fine dinning, I concocted a meal that had some nice new flavors. Chic pea "Crab" Cakes in an Oyster Mushroom Beurre Blanc with Brussel Sprouts and Beet Chips. I will spread the recipes out over the course of a few posts because I feel like it sometimes gets jumbled.

Chic Pea "Crab" Cakes

Oil for frying
28 - 30 oz of chic peas (cooked)
2 sheets of toasted nori
2/3 cup of garbanzo bean flour
2/3 cup of panko flakes
1/3 cup of celery (chopped)
2 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of dulse flakes
1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of hot sauce

In a large bowl, mash the chic peas. No not puree, just get a good mash going, several large chic pea pieces are great. Add the celery, dulse, lemon juice, and vegan mayonnaise and gently fold into the chic peas. Tear or chopped the 2 sheets of nori into small pieces (about the size of a pine nut) and fold into the chip peas. Add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, gently folding. The mixture will be fairly moist by now, add the flour, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and gently stir well. The mixture should be starting to become a bit more dry and thicker. Add the panko flakes and very gently fold into the mixture. The panko should dry the chic pea mixture out fairly quickly and give it some additional texture. Chill for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat about 1/2 cup of oil to 350 degree in a frying pan. Once the chic pea mixture has chilled and your oil if up to temperature (if you do not have a thermometer it should be on med / med-low heat for about 8-10 minutes), take a handful of the mixture about the size of a tennis ball and form it into a patty. It is best to patty it out on a dry surface. Place the patties into the hot oil and fry for about 5 minutes until it is golden brown. Flip and repeat. Serve hot.

You should be able to fry about 3 at a time and this recipe should make about 8. You may need to add more oil in between each set of frying, just before to bring it back to the proper heat.

The remaining new items from this meal will be posted over the next couple of posts. Additionally, I figured out how to watch movies on my computer so Jamie and I watch a rather boring film after dinner in my nice orange muppet-hide chairs. During the movie, I wanted an ice cream sundae. I was told that I could not have one but you know how I am!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Huge Success!

I can confidently say that I expected this night to go well but never did I anticipate it turning out as great as it did. Jamie's art show was a huge success. She had about 30 visitors from all over the state, family, friends, walk-ins, and much more. I am so proud of her! She put together a dozen or so necklaces, rings, earrings, and other jewelry for some "quick sales" and it worked! The feedback was outstanding and she impressed a lot of people. I can not wait for more shows like this. The support was amazing! I am so happy that all of her hard work and effort paid off and she had a great night!

Huge thanks to Ashley for putting this together as well. It would not have happened without her. Great people, great conversation and some momentum for more events like this. The following are some of the pictures from the night.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good and good for you

My two days off is coming to an end. Sadly, I got nothing accomplished. Well, nothing blog worthy anyway. I got my taxes done, got my emissions test done, registered my car, made a calzone with Ashley and even whipped up a new juice.

Jamie has her art show on Friday night and I am very excited! It is one of those nights that when you look back at the year in December, it will stand out. I really hope to see some familiar faces Friday night.

It seems that every health conscious person seems to have their own way to make a spinach smoothie. However, I hear more and more that people who are not typically vegan or health conscious have been reading my blog and asking questions. This inspires me to make some quick, easy and users friendly recipes for those who may use it.

Spinach Smoothie
1 banana (peeled)
1 kiwi (peeled)
3 cups of apple juice
3 cups of spinach leaves (rinsed)
2 tablespoons of liquid sweetener

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend on a high speed until the spinach is completely liquefied. The liquid sweeter can be anything from agave nectar, corn syrup, or any number of other options.

I remember being 16 or so in the mid 90's and on the verge on taking my first sip of a drink made primarily of spinach. I was a bit nervous and expected something fairly unpleasant. To my surprise, it was a healthy and sweet drink with a fun color. Who new? This was far from the spinach from a can I stubbornly refused to eat as a child.

It has been said that when one door closes, another opens. I have tried that theory in my home and it does not work but I hope it works in life. Things change. Onward!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Two days off! I am pumped! I hope to get some house stuff done and some solid cooking. Today was scheduled to be a light work day. Just a few hours, but most of the day was mine to do with what I pleased. However, as I was brushing my teeth my boss called and asked if I wanted to turn my light work day into a double shift. I decided I could use the money and took the overtime. Off to work my spontaneous double shift.

Work has been consuming many of my hours recently. I just got home and settled in and it is 2:30am. Oh well, I guess that extra money will come in handy as I continue to do work on the house. More money, more paint.

I painted my dining room this weekend. I really like the colors. It came out great. I am not sure what I will get done next but hopefully it will be as rewarding as painting.

On the 3rd, I turn 30. Ouch. I am not sure any good can come of this event. I am overwhelmed. The salad days are gone.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dinner on a day off

Saturday was a much needed day off. I did not accomplish much other then a nice dinner for Jamie and I. I followed a recipe exactly! This may be the first time in my life. I also used some heavy inspiration from another recipe. Tal Ronnen is a genius! I really like many of the recipe ideas in his book, The Conscious Cook. For me, some of them will be left as inspirational but others, like the tapioca pudding I made, will be used again exactly as written. I am really getting interested in vegan fine dinning, it is a shame that there is no real option here in Atlanta. There is some really nice fine dinning here that is more than happy to accommodate, which is nice.

Saturday night dinner included seitan steaks, red cabbage with apples, tahini salad, stuffed fingerling potatoes, and for dessert, we had tropical tapioca pudding. It was a nice meal with many complimenting flavors.

Tahini Balsamic Dressing

1 clove of garlic
1/3 cups of olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of tahini
1 teaspoon of lemon

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. The texture will be rather thick and should be a nice cashew color.

I made this salad with some very simple ingredients that were nice and bold but made the dressing shine. Ii used spinach as the main leaf but added some great red kale. Carrots and peeled granny smith apple and pistachio nuts got added with a dusting of whole flax seeds. The salad was a quiet highlight to a rich and heave meal.

The stuffed fingerling potatoes were slightly altered but mainly, straight out of Tal's book. They looked great but tasted even better. The stuffing was fantastic! This is an easy and wonderful side dish. It made the meal a ton of fun and really felt very elegant.

Granted, it has been years since I have had pudding however, I do not thing that this set up as much as it should have. Regardless, it was an outstanding way to top off our meal while relaxing in the living room. It was sweet without being overbearing and had enough flavor to not simply taste like coconut milk. It was quite a treat and I will use this recipe again. I chose to add mango and kiwi fruit which contributed an even balance to the strong coconut flavor.

I made a few picture updates to the seitan steaks recipe page. I felt that people may want to see more pictures of the process and added them in. The actual recipe is the same. What do "they" say? New package, same great taste!

There was another treat for me beyond the pudding. Jamie brought Tato to visit! He got to sit in my chair while she and I visited. He was running all around and seemed to enjoy his evening. It was great to have him here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Here we go!

Since my dad flew back to Maine, I have been living at work. I worked to back to back double shifts and am about to leave for another 12 hour shift. The though of fun meal ideas have been replaced by daydreams of my bed and a comforting horror film. I had a few hours before work today and planed on making a stir fry until I realized that all my veggies went bad. It was a sad state of affairs. On the fly I threw together an old classic, super simple dish I have made for years.

Bar B Que Chic Peas

1 clove of garlic
16 oz of chic peas
1/2 cup of Bar B Que sauce
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of hot sauce

In a pot, bring the oil to a near smoking point on med heat. Add the garlic and chic peas and allow to cook until the chic peas begin to pop. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce and Bar B Que sauce, cover, reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer slightly for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to scorch the sauce. Serve hot.

This is a delicious and super simple recipe to add to the list of easy 20 minute or less meals I am working on.

Tomorrow is a day off and I am pumped. Although I could get some housework done, I am open to having just a nice relaxing day. Jamie will be over for dinner and I have some big plans for a great meal. I have been reading The Conscious Cook that my mum got me and it is outstanding! A plethora of great meal ideas that are very innovative and thought provoking. I may actually follow a recipe for once.

I am determined to get some great things done around the house this week with the new tools (mentally and physically) that I got when my dad was here. I have grand ideas and the resolve to follow through.

On a side note, I am very excited about Jamie's art show. It is only a week away. I hope to see some of you there! Work is, there will be some yummy vegan treats made by Ashley. I can not wait!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Portabello Chowder

While my dad was here we mainly ate out. It is nice to go to a new place and visit new restaurants that you do not have back home. My home cooking was limited during the visit. However, I made some lunch for us before he left. I wanted him to have a nice hearty meal before a his flight. Taking advantage of the fact that we both really enjoy mushroom and no one else in my life seems too, I made some soup. This is very easy and nice and tasty

Portobello Chowder

3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 large portobello caps
2 cups of unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons of oil
1 1/2 tablespoon of onions (chopped)
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of salt

In pot, heat the oil on med heat. Add the onions and garlic and let simmer for about 5-8 minutes, until the onions are not quite tender. Meanwhile, cut the mushrooms lengthwise twice, resulting in chunks on the cap about a 1/4 on an inch in size. Add the mushrooms to the oil and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Add half of the pepper and stir well. Add the soy milk, if you use sweetened soy milk it will taste a little funny but still be good. Add the remaining pepper and the salt and bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes.

This dish has a nice earthy flavor while still being savory. The addition of brussel sprout as either garnish or a side dish compliments the earthy flavors of the mushrooms very well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dad's Visit

I shipped my dad back to Maine on a jet today. I was sad to see him go but in the visit re-cap I am focused on only the fun we had!
There was a slight scare since the day he flew in it snowed. In Atlanta! Now he and I are used to the snow in Maine but this is the dirty south! Snow? Either way, I snapped a few pictures of my backyard for evidence.

The night he came in we just relaxed, had some nice vegan pizza (my dad is not vegan) and watched a movie. Catching up is always a nice time.

The next day we went to the hardware store and got a bunch of stuff for some home improvement projects. My dad and his wife built most of their house and it was great to have a DIY-er to help with some ideas. We changed light fixtures, did some weather proofing, put on door stops, changed out some outlet covers, changed out some toilet seats, did some caulking, and much more. It was a great help to have him here and I learned a lot.

My dad got me a house warming / early birthday gift for me as well. I am now the proud owner of a skill saw. A bit nervous about cutting myself, he showed me the ins and outs of simple sawing. I even built (with his help) 2 saw horses to use! I will be a carpenter in no time. Doubtful, but if I can make 3 course meals for 5 people with only 4 pieces of cookware, anything is possible.

I did not force him to stay at my house and work all weekend though, we did a lot of fun things. One night we went and watched Bobcat Goldthwait at a stand up comedy club. He was pretty funny and one of the bearded comedians were in his opening act, which was enjoyable.
We went to the Aquarium on one of the days. I think he really had a good time there. It is fairly impressive for a places with caged animals.That night we checked out Jamie art show setup. We also saw a 3D film on the Imax. Not only is there no Imax in Maine but there is no 3D either.
It was a great visit, lots of DIY-ing, fun adventures, and good eats (including about 50 cookies Ashley made us). Back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Serving up art

In the middle of my visit with my dad, he and I stopped to see Jamie putting the finishing touches on her art display. It is really quite a site. The artwork is amazing and he put a lot of herself into it. I am so proud of her. Each piece looks outstanding on its own as well as on the wall. She did a great job! If you are in the Atlanta area, please stop by her show on the 26th of Feb. If you are not, take a look at a few things here. These pictures do not do the artwork justice. You should come by and see them for yourself.

Do not forget to come out to the show!

Ashley did an excellent job pulling all of this event together as well. She has to jump through many hoops to be able to host the event and it will all pay off in the end!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Potato Leek and Barley Soup

Laundry Laundry Laundry. I hate laundry day. That would explain why I had 5 loads to do. Check it off the list, it is done! Additionally, I got a few errands done and spent some quality time with Ashley. We watched some Whale Wars episodes. I really enjoy that show and it is extremely cool that my amazing friend Laura works on it!

Then at a spur of the moment, Jamie came over to work on some artwork. She has a big art show coming up on the 26th of February. Ashley has set it up at her store and I am super proud of Jamie for all her artwork. She has been putting in a tremendous amount of effort. I am sure I will update you all more on this later. If you are in Atlanta on the 26th, please stop by.

As Jamie was doing some artwork, I whipped up a soup and some fried chickpeas in a tomato sauce. It was a nice spontaneous meal and I wanted to share. It is another quick and easy recipe with very few ingredients.

Potato Leek and Barley Soup

2 med red potatoes
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 leek (1/4 inc slices)
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of water
2/3 cup of pearled barley
1 tablespoon of oil

In a pot bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into small chunks and boil for 15 mints until slightly under cooked. Strain and set aside. In another pot, bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to a simmer, add the barley and cook for 35 minutes, until the barley is tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic and leeks (well cleaned) and cook until the garlic is soft. After the barley is tender, add the potato and simmer for another 5-8 minutes until the potatoes are soft. When the potatoes are tender, add the leeks and garlic, cover and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 10 minutes and serve.

My dad will be here in a few days and I a extremely excited. I have not made and concrete plans but I am sure we will have fun. He has never been to Atlanta before and he will be the first family member to see my finished house. I can not wait!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

As promised...

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Squares

2 cups of strawberry lemon cheesecake batter
1 cup of strawberry lemon cheesecake syrup
1 cup of oats
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons of margarine (melted)
2 tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oats, graham crackers, flour, and cinnamon. Once they are well blended together, add the vanilla and half of the margarine. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together. The mixture should start to clump together a bit and you mix. Add more margarine if needed. Once the mixture has reach a moist and slightly clumpy stage, pour it into an 9x9 baking pan. Evenly spread the mixture across the bottom and pat down firmly. Take the 2 cups of the strawberry lemon cheesecake batter and pour over the top. Evenly spread it across the top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheesecake batter begins to bubble slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 1 hour and then pour the strawberry lemon cheesecake syrup over the top, evenly. Chill for at least 3 hours.

These came out really great and were super tasty. You can eat them with your fingers or even wrap them up and take them with you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Channa Masala again?

Potluck! Jamie and I attended our first potluck of the year the other day. It was a good time and we met a few new people. It is really nice to be able to eat anything on the table. There was some great stuff there as well. Jelly donuts, "pork" meatballs, lasagna, a great red cabbage dish, and a very under the radar cranberry loaf. Jamie and I brought the Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake and a huge pot of Channa Masala. I have decided to post the Channa Masala recipe, just not today. The recipe might be a bit skewed since we made so much.

After eat too much and chatting for a bit we took our leave. We tapped out a bit early since we had a few other things on the agenda, not to mention a kitchen to clean. I really am looking forward to having potlucks at my house. I need to get some paint on the walls first.

Friday my dad comes to visit! I am super excited. I am not sure what it is we are going to to yet but we will have a lot of fun!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Potluck

Friday was a day of baking. I often bring a baked treat to work to share with either Myrna or Kendra. Recently, I brought a piece of the lemon cake and both Myrna and Kendra shared it. Kendra demanded that I make her the cake for her birthday. At first, I was not sure if she was just being nice or not. Well, she brought it up every day since so I made her the cake for her birthday on Saturday.

Saturday, Jamie and I are heading to our first vegan potluck of the year. We are bringing Channa Masala and a Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake. Since the potluck is early in the day, I needed to make the cheesecake in advance.

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust
3 tubs of Toffuti Cream Cheese
3 units of egg replacer
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
3/4 cup of strawberry lemon syrup (see below)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend the cream cheese, egg replacer, and lemon juice until smooth. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and strawberry lemon syrup and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for 40 minutes.

Strawberry Lemon Syrup

2 cups of strawberries
1 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of lemon juice
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon pulp
2 teaspoons of corn starch

In a sauce pan, heat all ingredients on low heat until simmering. Use a masher or fork to crush the strawberries. Taste test often. It will be fairly runny, remove from the heat. Use in the Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake recipe and top the cake with the remaining syrup.

I did not get a picture of an individual slice of the cheesecake. It was gone before I had the chance. I guess that is a good thing. I should have been more proactive. I will have to make two next time!

There was some extra cheesecake batter so I made some other items that I will share later. Additionally, I made myself some rosemary french fries for lunch. It was a big day in the kitchen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Getting Settled

I had a simple day off today. I got a lot of errands completed and even picked up a few fun things for the house. When I finally returned home, I made a quick stir-fry for lunch and started my long awaited veggie broth. Totally inspired months ago by happyveganface to make this great broth. There have been growing bags of scrap veggies in my freezer now for months! Today was the day! I took all my veggies out, added some celery, water and boiled them into smithereens. Three hours of boiling and I got about 10 cups of great veggie broth. Thanks Jessy!

After it was all done, I went ahead and made some carrot muffins. Basically, I took an old carrot cake recipe and poured it into some old Halloween themed cupcake cups and neglecting the typical cream cheese frosting. They did not need it. They were yummy all on their own. I even had enough batter to make a small cake.

Later in the night it was a trip to see Jamie. She and I made....burritos! Big surprise? It was her first home cooked meal in her new apartment. She said it made it feel like a home for the first time. That made me happy and we ate at a cute table we found about a year ago. It was nice. Then we had our muffins and I went home to watch basketball and she did some more unpacking. Due to the presence of black beans, Tato spend time in the kitchen with us!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Soup

I feel like I have been neglecting the recipe portion of this blog recently. It is so difficult to motivate myself to cook for one. Additionally, it seems like more and more that my work schedule is not compatible with the people I would generally want to cook for. I need some motivation.
Today was a rare day that I did not need to work until the evening and Ashley had the day off with no plans. I almost had to beg, but she finally came over to cook with me (and give me someone to cook for). She took up one half of the kitchen and I took the other. It was a little strange at first but fun nonetheless. I made some spicy black bean soup. I was shocked the other day when I realized that I had yet to post this recipe that I had been making on occasion for about two years.

Black Bean and Corn Soup

4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
25 oz of black beans
1 cup of vegetable broth
3/4 cup of corn
1/3 cup of onion (chopped)1 tablespoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 tablespoon of cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
In a pot, heat the oil on med - low heat. Allow the oil to get about half way heated before adding the garlic and onion. Stir frequently and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the jalapeno pepper and half of your cumin. Stir often and allow to cook until the onions are tender. This should take about 5-8 minutes. In the meantime, strain and wash you black beans. Once the onion is tender, add the black beans and gently stir for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and salt and increase the heat again to med - low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Once the soup is at a simmer add the cilantro and corn. Remove from heat, cover and let set for about 5-10 minutes. The corn will be soft to the touch. Garnish with more cilantro and serve.

I had a little of this leftover and brought it to work. I decided to share it with my friend Myrna and she loved it! That made me happy.

Vegan baked goods are something I have mentioned struggling with here before. Luckily, Ashley has taken to making them! While I was busy making us some soup for lunch, she was making cinnamon rolls! She left the whole pan here...I wonder if she knows? Well, I will be nice and wash the pan before I give it back tomorrow. I guess I know what my midnight snack will be tonight!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vegan Bake Sale and Painting

It was an accomplished weekend. Not only did I work two shifts, but I attended a vegan bake sale and got my living room painted! Friday was a work day. Saturday was a day off and Jamie and I spent much of the day together. We went to the vegan bake sale in the morning. We got some nice treats, chocolate Twinkies, tortes, cupcakes, cookies, and a bunch of other little things. It was a nice trip. We intended to return but ran out of time as the errands began to pile up.

After a few hours of errands and a trip to see Ashley, and getting some soy peppermint hot chocolate, we got some take out and went back to Jamie's new apartment. I helped her get some things moved around and played with Tato. Then it was back t my house to get some painting done.

Jamie advised me to paint a nice light blue color in my living room. I was a bit skeptical at first. Then Jamie reassured me and I added a second coat. She was right, it looks really nice and I am very happy with it. I took a few hours today and put the room together after showing my friend Knowa some houses. It was a good couple of days and I am looking forward to getting some more painting done. This weekend may result in a nice vegan potluck.