Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Feast


Hope every one's holidays were fantastic and full of great food. I was still sick on christmas but I managed to get myself up out of bed for the festivities and some cooking.

As promised, food porn aka the truffles I made. There are truffles rolled in peanuts and the others are sprinkled in coconut. The peanut truffles were made with peanut butter and the coconut ones are dark chocolate with a little bit of a coconut twist. If no one else enjoyed them, I certainly did.

I contributed two dishes to hour holiday feast. One from Fat Free Vegan and the other from Gluten Free Goddess. I was just searching around their sites looking for festive dishes and stumbled upon these two. I quickly scribbled down the ingredients and glanced at the methods before heading to whole foods. Unfortunately when I got back I had troubles finding the actual recipes again so I just did it from memory. I hope these photos do the recipes justice!

From Gluten Free Goddess: Roasted acorn squash filled with a granny smith cranberry cornbread dressing.

The dressing came out marvelously and there was plenty left over to eat on it's own.

From Fat Free Vegan: Mushroom Barley Soup with Butter Beans. I had some of this for breakfast today too. We purposely made enough for leftovers and I almost think I should have brought more for my family to eat. It was the first thing to run out at the table and people were going back for seconds!

My family does christmas crackers every year thanks to the influence of my english step father :). This tug was a draw because all the goodies fell on the floor. Don't you love Mom's hat? I was wearing one earlier. You can tell by the "sexy yet messy" look I've got going on with my hair.

Now that I've finally got the internet working at my parents house I can catch up on blogs. Be seeing you soon!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sweet Holiday Gifts

I recently learned how to make truffles in school and as soon as I did I knew they were part of the gifts I was giving out this holiday season. For now I can only the wrapping technique I used (I haven't given them out yet!)

I'll come back and post some actual pictures of the treats soon. I'm still sick. I flew home to southern CA last night and I feel about a million times worse. I guess the travel took a lot out of me. So, short post- a teaser if you will- and I'll be back with pictures of the truffles soon! And don't tell any of my friends what I made! *Shh* They don't know yet :)
PS: I'm at my parents house and their computer is doing funky things. Feel free to let me know if this post looks funny because of it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

FreeBirds Review

Everyone in Austin has told me to that I *must* try this fast food type restaurant. I have to say, I was less than impressed. The service was nice and quick- just what you'd expect from any fast food establishment but I don't think this lived up to the hype for me.
FreeBirds is the same set up as any Chipotle. You come in pick a tortilla and point at what you want them to put in it and they charge you accordingly. There are a few things that differentiate FreeBirds from Chipotle.

1) Different sized burritos and different flavored tortillas
2) Different hot mild salsas
3) Refried beans- last time I went, chipotle didn't have them

Yes, FreeBirds is slightly better and not the same as Chipotle. But I still wouldn't call it great Mexican food. If there was one next to my work I would consider it a decent option for a quick lunch. I am not rushing back there though.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Tempeh Cilantro Noodle Soup

Well I'm minor-ly ill here. Sore throat, achy body and a terrible mood to boot. But that doesn't mean I don't eat ;)
I'm trying to be creative in what I bring for work lunches. I cooked these noodles and sautéed some vegetables this morning and will be making them into a soup at work with some hot water and miso.

I sprinkled the noodles with some toasted sesame oil so they won't stick together by the time I eat them at lunch.

We'll see if the hot water we have at work will be able to reheat this tempeh onion and burdock sautéed from this morning. I'm confident the noodles will be great. We'll see how the rest holds up.

Have a nice day!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Noodles with Tahini Lemon Sauce

Finding quick homemade lunches that aren't leftovers or sandwiches can be a challenge. This has been the year of the noodle lunch for me. Noodle dishes are something I've enjoyed but never really enough to make myself. I think I'm just a rice-lover but brown rice (my rice of choice) takes a while to cook. Hence, noodles have come into my life in a big way.

This tahini, water, lemon and a dash of ume vinegar "dressing" brightens up my greens and creates a kind of faux Alfredo on these noodles. I blanched some veggie and added them for some additional color , texture and nutrition. Some fried tempeh or tofu would have been a nice addition as well.

What are your ideas for quick lunches?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Adzuki Butternut Soup

Like my new bowl?? Yea me too...

Here how it is- It's cold (anything under 50 is cold) and that requires soup. Adzuki beans are new to me and I've only had them served to me, not cooked them myself.

I wasn't sure what to do with them so I threw them in a pressure cooker this morning with butternut squash, onions, garlic, sage and oregano. I pressure cooked everything for about an hour while I got ready for work.

I think this dish needs a little more fat in it next time. Now that the temperature is dropping I am craving fattier foods.

I still have a whole bunch of beans left. Any recipe suggestions?


Ps- Did I mention I'm seeing Love Actually tonight at the Draft House with Cara? Yes, I AM excited. Thanks for noticing :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sweet Potato Filo Cups

School is out for break and I could not be happier. I love school but I need rest and more time to experiment in my kitchen. As luck would have it, this weekend was full of friends and celebrations.A new friend of mine graduated nursing school so I brought these to her graduation party. I've been trying to get used to working with filo dough the last month because it's one of those ingredients that are easy to find vegan and pre-made and they make a dish look classy :) The best complement I got on these was- "Teddy I love them and I don't even like sweet potatoes."
Sweet Potato
Chopped Pecans
Maple Syrup
Filo Dough- thawed
Melted Dark Chocolate
I still have about 1/2 of my filo dough left. Any savory Filo Dough suggestions?
Ps- if you'd like me to send you the recipe on this one I can. It was just really long haha

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Java Noodles

A friend of mine has been insisting that I try this Java Noodles place for far too long. Last night he came to my house and dragged me down the street to have dinner.

Spicy red curry coconut and tofu soup. WARNING this is SPICY but I like that.
I wanted tempeh but they were out. I've noticed that most non-veg places do not know how to cook with tofu. It seems that most of them buy the pre-fried stuff which is not as good because it doesn't soak up any of the dishes flavors. Have you noticed tofu= not so tasty unless you know what to do with it?

Java Noodles house special.
I would have preferred brown rice other than that, this was pretty good. The veggies were still crisp. I hate soggy over cooked veggies. It had a similar, less spicy, red curry sauce as the soup.

Price- Reasonable: $8-10

Would I go back? Yep. I want to try their tempeh and find my fav item on the menu b/c it's only a mile from my house. :)

Vegan Truffles

The most important thing first. It SNOWED in Austin last night- for the first time since 2004 I think (don't quote me on that). At aruond 11pm i heard a commotion outside. When I looked I saw that my neighbors were just excited for the snow that was flurrying down on our cars.

Gourmet Desserts class was last night. Is it a shock that my favorite item is the chocolate truffles? I now have hope of making these as gifts for some friends back home. I've attempted to make truffles one other time and it did not go well. The chocolate never set and was far too mushy. I know the secret now... use an oil that is solid at room temperature! Duh- why didn't I think of that? Of course when I made them over a year ago I used coconut milk (it's my secret ingredient in too many dishes).
What would YOU like in/on your chocolate truffles??

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Vegan Sushi??! or Just Weird

Brace yourself for something odd. Last night I was at work until almost 7 and when I got home I wanted some form of sushi. Of course I didn't have any rice cooked or ready so what in the world was I to do? I opened my pantry doors and polenta literally fell out at me.

Hmm dare I? Well I did. Polenta (corn grits) take zero time to cook compared to brown rice and all my other filling items would be ready in the same amount of time. Thus I had a polenta, tempeh, carrots and greens "sushi handroll" last night.

Rice is definitely better but when in a pinch the polenta was not bad.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve done to modify a dish? I’d say this is pretty odd wouldn’t you?! haha


Monday, December 08, 2008

Black Bean Hodgepodge

Are there ever days when you get home from a LONG day at work and just throw a million things into a pot to make dinner just so you won't STARVE TO DEATH?
Yea, me too. I've been working late hours and trying to play catch up/prepare for the holidays.
Meal planning has taken somewhat of a back burner for the time being.
Black bean hodgepodge was born out of this urge to fight death with dinner. I tend to go for Mexican or south western meals when I need a meal in a quick pinch.
Ingredients: Black beans, tortillas, zucchini, onion, corn, avocado and spices. If I wasn't out of cilantro you can bet there would be some of that in there too.
It may not be a gourmet, well planned meal but it definitely hits the spot.
What are your "I must eat NOW" meals?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fried Tempeh and Greens

It’s an epic battle: Tempeh vs Setien. Each have their own uses, their own pluses and minuses but everyone must have a favorite. Can you guess mine?
Yep. I prefer tempeh most of time. It’s just SO good!
Today’s lunch is fried tempeh drizzled with shoyu on top of sautéed mustard greens and sweet red onions on a bed of brown rice/barley. It’s not lunch time for me yet but I love it when I have a good lunch to look forward to. What a nice way to start my busy weekend.

Tonight Will Tuttle (the author of The World Peace Diet) is speaking at my school
Tomorrow is my holiday party for work and school AND a band I like is playing
Sunday there is a vegan potluck that I may be attending.

And I was all excited for my relaxing weekend. I’m too much of a “yes” person. Anyone asks to hang out and I automatically say yes and before I know it I’ve got about 390584908 things to do. This is both a blessing and a curse…
I should mention, if I end up going to that potluck I will be posting step by step instructions for making those dumplings from a few weeks back.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note to self: changing my background image on my phone to a picture of cookies makes me want cookies... all the time.

At some point in time it must be agree on that peanut butter and chocolate are simply made for each other. There's no need for an argument to be made, it's pure and simple fact. Hence, my need for a peanut butter chocolate cookie has been born. This batched tastes batter-licking good but may be (dare I say) a smidge too sweet. Also, I like thick cookies. The amount of fat I added to these thinned them out a little too much and caused them to cook quick on the edges but not in the middle.

I thought about bringing these into work. Yea, I THOUGHT about it, they’re still at my house save the 2 in my lunch. I’ll bring my second batch in next week for sampling.
How does everyone like their cookies? Thick, chewy, thin, crisp?


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Veggie Grill

I have visited VegNew's restaurant of the year more times than I count. I've even reviewed them before (veggie grill march 2007)
So why post about this place again?
Because they give out FREE lunch or dinner to birthday girls like me! If you're signed up for their mailing list, they will send you a voucher for a free bday meal. You better believe that in the 3 days I was home, I had to redeem this gift.

As I walked in I noticed that they had changed their menu around. Added some new items and removed the less popular ones. For me free= trying something new because you have nothing to lose right?

The Bayou Chickin' Burger

Normally I order their drool inducing sweet potato fries but BOY was I sick of sweet potato. I needed something leafy and green. Steamed kale with a creamy dressing hit the spot.

I've said it more than once, if you can go to Veggie Grill in Irvine, CA- it's a must eat (especially if it's your bday and it's free haha)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Food Survey

I've been home a day now and finally have some groceries but no time to upload all my food photos. So to hold everyone over, and get to know me a bit, I found a quick foodie survey.
I'd love to hear your answers. Let me know if you've posted.

1. If you could live on two foods for the rest of your life...what would they be?
curry and chocolate... hm those don't go well together but they're my 2 favorites

2. When you stay at a hotel, what are your fave items to order from room service?
I don't think I've ever ordered room service. Wait, does it count if I do it in South East Asia? If so, curry hahahah

3. What food do you hate?
Not HATE just dislike strongly. Asparagus

4. What is your best and fave dish to cook up?
any dessert- usually cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are a culinary masterpiece to me

5. Is there something you'd love to be able to cook but can't?
CREPES. I've tried and failed several times

6. What is your fave type of cupcake?
Stout cupcake with raspberry ganache

7. Do you have any food allergies that limit your choices?
Thank goodness NO

8. Choose a restaurant you go to all the time, what is the dish you always order?
Wait, I can't choose one. I'll choose one PER type of food
Jasmine Thai- Panag Curry
Mamma Testas- Potato or Gauco tacos
Wasabi- Veggie Tempura

9. What are you fave condiments and sauces?
Anything with tahini

10. What food smell do you love the most?
In the fall, cinnamon.

11. Favorite movie scene involving food?
hmm Benny and Joon