Tag Archives: vegan with a vengeance

The Maple

Is an outrageously decadent – almost to the point of incivility – brunch sandwich enough to atone for my absence of the past month? I can only hope so. (This is NOT an April Fools’ joke.)

When Marly of Namely Marly asked me to join a panel of 10 vegan bloggers whose mission, should they choose to accept it, would be to veganize Endless Simmer’s America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches, I immediately responded not only “yes,” but that I desperately wanted to do “The Maple,” a brunch-time beast consisting of two slices of maple-currant bread pudding loaded with savory sausage, chipotle cheddar cheese, and tangy shavings of fresh fennel. Not only does this sandwich hit the sweet/savory note that we all know and love, but it’s from Portland – irrefutably known to be the best city in the country. And, as a gluten-free vegan, I could not resist veganizing a meal from a restaurant called Meat Cheese Bread. There’s something irresistible about such blatant irony.

Although I’m quite a competent (dare I say talented?) chef, I’m not exactly known for my recipe-creating abilities, so I tried not to push my luck. I made Maple “Bread Pudding” with millet bread, using Isa’s recipe for “Fronch Toast” in Vegan with a Vengeance, as well as her recipe for “Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Patties” from the same book. I substituted some Maple Caramelized Onions for the fresh fennel because, as far as I’m concerned, fennel is a villainous vegetable – a regular Mr. Wickham of the plant kingdom, if you will.

I did, however, venture into the world of cheese sauce, devising my own recipe for Chipotle “Cheddar” Sauce, which I will provide here for your pleasure! It makes plenty of extra to be used on nachos, in burritos or quesadillas, or as a topping for veggies!

Without further adue, here is my recipe for Chipotle “Cheddar” Sauce, one element of my sandwich. For the full recipe and assembly instructions for The Vegan Maple, head over to Marly’s blog – you’ll find the nine other sandwiches in the series listed immediately following my recipe.

So close your eyes, pretend you’re huddled up for brunch in a cozy lodge somewhere in New England’s maple country, and enjoy! And don’t forget to schedule an hour or two for digestion after eating this sandwich! ;)

Breaking news: America’s Best Sandwiches – Veganized! is now featured on the Huffington Post! Please go comment/like it/share it/tweet it to spread the word and score some points for vegankind. Can’t hyperlink (thanks, WordPress), so: http://huff.to/e3XDhr

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Second Thanksgiving, 2009

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally gotten around to my actual Thanksgiving post! So here it is–Thanksgiving, Part II.

I drove back to Phoenix from LA with some friends on Wednesday, and stayed until Sunday night, so not only was it a lovely holiday, but a nice mental vacation from school as well (Yeah, I worked on thesis at home, but it just didn’t feel as painful…)

I didn’t get a chance to plan my menu until Wednesday night, which kind of stressed me out (not the least because I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sugar for digestive problems), but I eventually got a good group of recipes together!

First, my sister and I made Dreena’s Festive Chickpea Tart. Well, Liv made the filling, and I attempted my first gluten-free pie crust to go with it. I used the Cornmeal Pine Nut Crust from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, which I acquired recently. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil, but besides that stuck to the recipe. It was delicious, with a delicate, crunchy texture, and, surprisingly, the corn/coconut/pine nut flavor combo really complemented the chickpea/spinach/cranberry/walnut mixture. Sadly, we burned the outside of the crust and had to scrape it off, but it still looks pretty, I think. Kind of? Maybe?

I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance. Prior to these babies, my mom actually had the nerve to think she didn’t like Brussels sprouts. and Liv hadn’t even had them before! I was glad to be able to remedy both of these unfortunate situations.

I loved the crispy, just-burnt enough-to-be-amazing stray leaves–kind of like mini kale chips, no? Liv ended up liking them, I guess. :)

I also made two tester recipes for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. Pumpkin Sage Bread “Rolls” and Green Beans with Toasted Pecan Gravy.

I wasn’t able to taste these “rolls,” but they were very well received! The pecan gravy for the green beans was delicious though. You can see the green beans next to the mashed potatoes a few pictures down.

An entire wall of our living room is a sliding glass door, which connects it to our backyard and pool area, so, given the lovely mild weather we had in Arizona that evening, we had a slightly alternative table set-up. Half in, half out!

Here’s the spread! (Oh, did I mention that we had 9 people over besides the 4 in my family? That explains the giant table above and the buffet style arrangement below). Our entire Thanksgiving was vegan except for the turkey and gravy (oh, and my mom’s pumpkin pies) that our friends brought for the omnis. Of course, it sucked to have a turkey there, but I count it as a win that every single side dish was vegan–and that there were THREE vegan gravies! (two that I made and the Tofurkey one).

Here’s my poorly lit plate! In front: Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (my mom made ’em) with Rich Brown Gravy (that I made) from Vegan Vittles.

We had a wonderful time–as usual, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, and then we dug in! Here’s my dad enjoying the company:

Even though I couldn’t have dessert, I still had to make some vegan ones for everyone else! I chose the Pecan Pie from Real Food Daily and the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV.

Pre-baked:

Not as pretty baked, but still:

What’s the BEST part of Thanksgiving though? Um, leftovers! Brunch next morning:

In the front you see the Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon, which was definitely my favorite thing I made (I didn’t mention it earlier because there were no good pictures of it on my actual T-day plate). I followed the recipe, using gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs for the topping! This dish was kind of heaven on earth. Just pure comfort food. I think I ate like 1/3 of it myself. I’ve never had chestnuts either–it was really quite fun to roast my own! One of them actually exploded in my mom’s hair, and she made a gross joke about it. ;)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, squash.

Anddd, obligatory sister shot. My dress = thrifted. Score.

PB and J Bread and Sweet Potato Crepes

Okay, I have wanted to make Celine’s PB and J Quick Bread from Have Cake, Will Travel FOR-EV-ER. I finally got around to it this week, and thank god I did! What a freaking good idea.

I followed the recipe exactly, but I left out 2 Tbs each of the PB and strawberry jam to swirl in at the end to make sure that there’d be some visible ribbons of goodness.

This bread is really nice – just sweet enough, but still simple and wholesome. I liked the oat-y taste as well!

And what’s a PB&J lover to do with PB&J bread? Um, put more PB&J on it, silly.

Maybe that is gluttonous, but it felt so right.

As hard as it may be to believe, I’m gonna move on to something even better. The dish I’m about to show you was possibly the most delectable thing I’ve ever made! At the very least, one of the fanciest, and most presentable. Sweet Potato Crepes with Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance! Isa makes this in the Valentine’s Day episode of the PPK cooking show, but I thought that it’s being Tuesday was a good enough occasion for them, don’t you?

Yes, this recipe took over two hours to make. Yes, with the filling, sauce, and crepe batter, it was complicated. Yes, I had to scrounge up some semi-exotic ingredients. Yes, I toasted and ground my own Indian spices. But was it worth it? YES.

The filling is sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, some toasty spices, and coconut milk. The sauce is primarily cilantro, tamarind, cashews, and maple syrup. The crepes are made with chickpea flour (it called for all-purpose flour too, but I subbed spelt, added a 1/4 cup of extra water, and they were perfect, so it’s a forgiving recipe!). It all came together wonderfully. My mom actually thought the crepes had a pleasant slightly sour taste to them, sort of like injera bread, which is fine because injera rocks.

Vegan Camping: Chili Bake and S’mores!

Sorry for the long absence. Sometimes I just get really overwhelmed by photo editing and uploading and I retreat into my virtual cave where no social media can ever find me or make me feel guilty for avoiding it. I’m sure you all know the feeling. :)

Anyhow, my best friend Jo and I drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday with my dog Rupert (THAT was a fun car ride…), and then Jo, my dad, and I camped for a night near Lake Mary, just outside Flag. For most people, I’m guessing camping means Mac ‘n Cheese, hot dogs, and maybe some oatmeal. But in our household–especially when I’m along for the ride – we’re a bit more gourmet. It didn’t hurt that my mom, sister and I had just bought my dad a Dutch oven for his birthday, either! Knowing we’d have the oven, I decided on the Cornmeal Chili Bake from The Everyday Vegan. That just screams “camping,” doesn’t it? I opted to use canned chili instead of making my own because there’s no need to make things too complicated, is there? Plus, TJ’s vegetarian chili is yummy and full of tofu crumbles (that look alarmingly like ground beef, actually)!

I also may or may not have gone to my favorite vegan restaurant Green beforehand specifically to purchase some Cheddar Teese (and ricemilk chocolate for s’mores), and what goes better together than chili and cheddar “cheese?”

So, we just poured the chili in the Dutch oven…

Spread on the cornmeal topping, which was made by whisking cornmeal and seasoning in boiling water on our cooking stove…

Me and my dad! I handled the cooking and he handled equipment logistics…

Put the top on and piled on the coals…

Sprinkled some Teese on a few minutes before it was done, and voilà! Melty comfort food goodness.

The only unfortunate thing was that our cornmeal topping sunk into the chili (I think it boiled because we couldn’t control the oven temperature like you can in a real oven…), but it didn’t matter because it was still delicious and there were still thick chunks of cooked polenta throughout the stew. We ate it with TJ’s Hemp Tortilla Chips for a nice crunch and dipping assistance! I want to make this every time I go camping…

What self-respecting vegans could go camping without at least attempting to reach that pinnacle of camping activities that is the s’more? S’mores are an entirely possible treat to veganize, but they definitely take some work and planning. In the traditional s’more, you have honey-laced graham crackers sandwiching milk-laden chocolate and gelatin-composed marshmallows. Ew, ew, and ew. So what’s a vegan to do? Well, use Sweet & Sara Vanilla Marshmallows (you could use Dandies too!), track down a Terra Nostra Ricemilk Choco Bar, and make your own graham crackers! Here’s Jo and I having some serious vegan best friend time around the campfire, roasting marshmallows:

And the completed s’more:

Sorry the photos are bad, but they were taken without a flash when it was completely dark except for one measly little gas light!

We also made “banana s’mores.” Should I coin that invention? The marshmallows were fine, but they were pretty stale (I have no idea how long ago I bought them…), so after one classic s’more each, we opted for these–banana’s stuffed with peanut butter and ricemilk chocolate, wrapped in tin foil, and nestled into the coals to melt and caramelize!

These were so good. Bananas are better – and healthier – than marshmallows, so what’s not to love? We squashed them between graham crackers once they were done too! Speaking of the graham crackers, I bet you’re curious how I made them! Graham crackers are traditionally made with graham flour – surprise! – which has a specifically altered proportion of bran to germ to endosperm to make them crunchier, but I made Isa’s recipe for Gwam Crackers, which solely uses whole wheat flour.

They turned out great – just sweet enough and lightly kissed with cinnamon.

Schmeared with PB:

Drenched in PB and melted chocolate chips:

Okay, so back to camping food! Breakfast next morning was, you guessed it, Scrambled Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. What a classic. And it comes together like this! *Snaps fingers.* I always use a ton more vegetables than the 2 cups of mushrooms called for. This one included zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper as well!

We jazzed it up with s’more (and you thought I was done with s’mores…) Teese, and served it with TJ’s Chunky Salsa. I will never ever ever get sick of this meal. Ever.

More photos from camping and hiking!

I think Jo had a better time with my dad than with me…

Rupert has to wear hiking booties because the pads on his paws are sensitive. Poor baby.

And here’s his aggressive side; though I bet you’d chomp like that too if there was a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread schmeared with Maranatha peanut butter in front of you…

Carrot Bisque, Berry Muffins, and Norabars

My kitchen has been a happenin’ place of late! First up, the deliciously simple Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance! I like the short ingredient list on this guy–I love intricate recipes, but sometimes I’m just not up for a 1/2 page-long spice list! Most of the flavor comes from (light) coconut milk, curry powder, and a touch of maple syrup.

Garnished with soy yogurt for some added refreshing creaminess!

At my mama’s request, I also made the Bakery-Style Berry Muffins from Vegan Brunch using blueberries and raspberries! I’ve made these before, but in my muffin top pan, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped–they sort of came out like small, thick pancakes, and didn’t get crispy at all.

I think the way to go for killer, crispy muffin tops is just to overfill the tins (as Isa mentions in Vegan Brunch herself). She says to go for 10 for big tops, but I did 9. The batter was pretty thick, so each tin was probably filled a little over the top. They were much nicer than the flattish muffins I usually make, but next time I’m doing 8, so I can get–I don’t know if this is the best way to describe it–like, giant mushrooming tops. Haha.

How cute is that! I got such a shock when I was taking this shot and found myself in a staring contest through my Rebel’s viewfinder. He’s winking! I named him Berry Bob.

What a crumb.

I also made my own energy bars yesterday! I haven’t told you guys yet, but I signed up for the Disney Half-Marathon on September 6th with my good friend Chelsea from Pomona. I’ve always wanted to run one, and when she asked me to do it with her, I knew it’d be a great opportunity! I’ve never done anything like it before (I played soccer for 10 years, and 1 year in college, so at least I’m semi-athletic), and the most I’ve ever run at once was 5 1/2 miles in 8th grade at my summer camp’s race. But, I’ve found a training schedule, so I should be good!

Anyways, my point is, I wanted a good pre-run snack because I’ve discovered my body can’t handle very much food before I run. My stomach needs to be as empty as possible, but I obviously need fuel. So, semi-bored of the few Larabar flavors we always have, I made Norabars! They’re Cinnamon-Pecan with Cacao Nibs! I actually liked them better than the Larabars I’ve had (but don’t get me wrong, Larabars rock…they’re just expensive).

Cacao-Cinnamon-Pecan Norabars

1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup toasted pecans*
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process dates into a thick paste (it’s okay if there are chunks). Remove from food processor and place in a small bowl. Pulse toasted pecans until roughly powdered (again, you can leave them as chunky as you want), and add to the bowl of dates, along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Finally, pulse the cacao nibs until they’re slightly broken up, and add those to the bowl as well. Now, get your hands dirty and knead all the ingredients together in the bowl! To make the bars, divide “dough” into 4, place each lump on a piece of saran wrap. Wrap them up, then shape into bars by molding them through the plastic. Chill in fridge for a bit, and there you go! Homemade ____bars (insert your name there). If you’re making a bigger batch, you could also press the dough into a pan and cut it up into bars once chilled.

*Note: You can use raw pecans if you like, but I figured, since my cacao nibs are roasted anyways, I might as well toast the nuts for extra flavor. (It makes them taste more like cookies!)

Makes 4 bars.

Nut Butters, Moroccan Tagine, and Oat Bars!

Hello joyful vegans! (and curious omnivores, vegetarians, flexitarians, etc.)

I got an exciting delivery a few days ago! Three Naturally Nutty Nut Butters! I’ve been super excited to try these ever since Shelby at La Belle Vegan has raved about their Vanilla Almond Butter, so I finally ordered their 3 jar sampler pack:

Gosh, I’m so glad I did! First of all, I really appreciate that each flavor contains flax and hemp seeds–it’s a great way to sneak in some healthy omega-3 fats and extra fiber into whatever nut buttery meal or snack you have! I thought the Cinnamon Cherry would be my favorite, but the cinnamon and cherry flavors aren’t quite as pronounced as I would have liked! Still it’s delicious, and I like how it only has 6g of sugar/serving. It reminds me of a less sweet version of PB & Co’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, though if I have to be honest, not quite as delicious. The Mocha Peanut Butter is good, but similarly not sweet at all, and the coffee flavor is VERY strong–it’s almost like fine coffee grinds mixed into peanut butter–so it’s not the best on its own, but I think it’d be delicious stirred into something, or spread on toast, waffles, muffins, or bagels. And yeah, the Vanilla Almond Butter is the star. Just the right amount of sweetness and kinda tastes like cake batter!

Overall, I really like these nut butters, but they’re just not quite as addictive as PB & Co’s Mighty Maple, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. However, the fact that they have a lot less sugar is worth it if you’re in the mood for something slightly less decadent.

A couple days ago, I made the Moroccan Tagine with Spring Vegetables from Vegan with a Vengeance. What attracted me to this dish–and the reason I loved it–was that it contained so many flipping vegetables! (Isa does say in the intro that it’s a “veritable powerhouse of nutrition”) Seriously, onions, carrots, zucchini, grape tomatoes, green beans, and spinach, and herbs like cilantro and mint! Plus, who doesn’t love lentils. And raisins. Okay, I’ll stop.

Served over fluffy quinoa with a lemon wedge for squeezin’ of course.

Finally, Apple Rosemary Oat Bars from the May/June issue of the Vegetarian Times! I love exotic ingredient combinations, so I knew I’d be making these from the moment I saw them. They lived up to their name, and I loved the kick they received from the lemon zest and juice.

My only complaint was that there is NOT enough oat mixture to form two layers in an 8 1/2 X 11 pan, as the recipe claims. I used a smaller pan, and it was still a reach. Also, I added an extra half of apple grated because I thought the filling was too sweet. So do that, or just cut down on the agave! But seriously, a big winner!

Till next time…