Friday, July 25, 2008

I got served

Jason has returned from vacation, and he made me dinner the other night -- the same sweet chili lime tofu he made for his family.

It was loverly.

Chili lime tofu

Trust me when I say that the chili lime glaze was magical.

A couple hours after the meal, Jason saw me eyeing the dirty cast iron skillet.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I meant to clean that right away ..."

"That's not it," I said. "I was just thinking about lifting the pan to my face and licking off the rest of the glaze."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A 'Vegan de Guadalupe' day

I stayed in bed most of the morning (and afternoon) with a ridiculously bad hangover, which is so lame at my age.

When I finally downed some coffee and Excedrin, I needed something easy, comforting and nutritious to fill my belly. It seemed like a perfect time to break out this Vegan de Guadalupe cookzine, a fun bilingual recipe book that is chock full of Mexican fare.

Vegan de Guadalupe

(Aside: How darling is that cover? I desperately want a tattoo of it. Maybe for my first veganversary.)

First I made the Sopa de Fideo, a quick and flavorful noodle soup. The original recipe didn't call for tomatoes, but I'm a weirdo who craves diced tomatoes when I'm hungover, so ...

Sopa de Fideo

For dinner I made Calabacitas Guisadas using some amazingly flavorful squash from my organic CSA share. With corn and zucchini in a tangy tomato sauce, this tastes exactly like summer. I also tossed in some chickpeas that were looking for a good home.

Calabacitas Guisadas

Jason can cook

Years ago, on one of my first dates with Jason, he cooked dinner for me. He was under the (incorrect) impression that any food could be improved by generous amounts of curry powder. So that night we dined on curry fish with curry rice and curry green beans.

That's the last time I let him in the kitchen.

I mean, he's not like some Al Bundy who sits on the couch with a beer and expects me to feed him. He can follow a recipe, and he's always willing to be my personal sous chef. But he asks too many questions and can never find stuff in the pantry, so it's just easier for me to do it all myself.

Well, right now he's in Indiana and wanted to impress his family with a vegan meal. He asked for my favorite tofu dish, and I directed him to VeganYumYum's sweet chili lime tofu.

And it looks like he did a GREAT job with it.

Making a vegan meal

Chili lime tofu

The family loved everything but the quinoa. (They had never eaten quinoa before and didn't like the texture.) Jason said everyone raved about the chili lime glaze and loved it enough that they want to eat it again ... but on chicken. Oh well.

Anyway, he's already promised to make the tofu for me when he gets home.

Looks like I'll be putting him to work in the kitchen much more often.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fancy-schmancy cocktails

Last night Abby and I were invited to a party for "The Official Filthy Rich Handbook."

We drove past the party and there were just three Mercedes, a Bentley, a Jaguar and an Audi. We decided there weren't enough people to make it worth walking into the party yet, because we hate being the first to arrive, standing around, making awkward small talk. So we headed over to a nearby resort to have a drink.

We each had two drinks and headed back to the party. Only this time all the cars were gone, the lights were off and the place was closed! By 8:30 p.m.! (Maybe the filthy rich go to sleep right after sunset?)

At least we had a couple great cocktails while we were out and about. Here are two of the fancy-schmancy (and ridiculously overpriced) drinks we sampled.



2 oz. Hendricks Gin
1/2 oz. pomegranate syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Directions: Serve over ice or combine in martini shaker and strain.

Pear-rosemary martini

Pear-Rosemary Martini

(I'm not certain this is the recipe the bar here used, but it sounds close enough.)

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. rosemary syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. chilled sparkling pear or apple cider
1 lemon wheel

Directions: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, rosemary syrup and lemon juice. Shake well, stir in the sparkling pear cider and strain into a chilled martini glass. Float the lemon wheel on the surface of the drink.

Rosemary syrup:

6 oz. simple syrup
2 rosemary sprigs

Directions: In a small saucepan, bring simple syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and add rosemary. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight. Strain the syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cutest thing ever

Right now my boyfriend is back home in Indiana, visiting his family. He called me last night to ask me a favor.

"Can you send me your favorite tofu recipe?" he said. "I want to make a vegan meal for my mom."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The big easy

Jason is out of town, so I've been looking for new and different ways to eat all the leftovers in the fridge by myself.

It looked like a wasteland in there -- little bits of things, but nothing individually substantial enough for dinner. I was about to give up and go out for sushi instead.

Then I eyed the black-eyed peas, brown rice, seitan and fresh spinach ... and TA-DA! Cajun stir-fry.

Cajun stirfry

First I sauteed some diced onion and minced garlic in some veggie broth, then added chunks of seitan. I threw in the black-eyed peas and brown rice with about half a can of diced tomatoes, as well as a few pinches of a cajun spice mixture, and let that simmer for a couple minutes. Finally I added a fistful of fresh spinach and stir-fried everything until the leaves wilted.

Dinner was on the table in less than 10 minutes. I'm not even kidding. It was really delicious too.

I wish my boyfriend would leave more often!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Semi-homemade dinner

If Sandra Lee were a vegan and not a robot, this is something she would make:

Soba noodles

It's just soy ginger broth (package from Trader Joe's), chopped green onions, diced zucchini, chunks of tofu, and soba noodles, all boiled together.

If I had more time, I would have stirred in some miso for more flavor and depth.

And then this sushi bowl:

Sushi bowl

It's sticky white rice with seasoned rice vinegar, avocado, green onions, chopped carrots and seaweed flakes with just a dab of tamari.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

All hail seitan

I made a big batch of the amazing chicken-style seitan from "Yellow Rose Recipes." The seitan slowly boils in broth, resulting in tender, flavorful cutlets.

Last night I simmered a couple of the cutlets in marsala with mushrooms and diced zucchini, then served it over pasta with a big dollop of marinara. (Heh. I tried to slice it so you could see the cutlet from the inside, but it just looks like I ate a big wedge before the photo.)

Seitan marinara

The seitan was so tasty, I had to have it again tonight.

This time I made a very nontraditional po' boy. (In fact, I think it's only a po' boy because that's what I stubbornly insist it is.)

I thinly sliced the seitan and lightly pan-fried it in the cooking broth. I topped it with a thick, brown mushroom gravy, also from "Yellow Rose Recipes," and served it on a fluffy baguette.

Vegan po' boy

There's still more seitan left, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Seitan stirfry with loads of veggies? Seitan piccata? Barbecued seitan/black bean burritos? Seitan ice cream?

Heh. Just kidding with that last one. (Maybe.)

Popping a cherry

These pickled cherry peppers are bursts of hot, tart, sweet and salty all at the same time, almost more like cherry bombs than peppers.

Cherry peppers


I'm sure these are good in some recipe or salad or something ... but they're even better straight out of the jar and into my belly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pie, I smlove you

FINALLY I had an excuse to make the Smlove Pie from "Veganomicon" -- to celebrate the birthday of my cubicle-mate, Judi!

But what is Smlove? Oh, my.

Well, it's a graham cracker crust with a creamy and rich chocolate filling, then a layer of peanut butter sauce, topped with candied pecans and drizzled with chocolate.

It's so good, I wanted to toss my fork and eat it all with my fists. (But this was Judi's pie, after all, so I had to play nice.)


Knowing that Judi is a Kiss fan, I set it up on her desk with Gene Simmons cutout. Isn't that one badass pie?

Gene Simmons Smlove Pie

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Potluck of Horror

Roasted eggplant dip

Oh, man. I keep forgetting to post about the terrible potluck experience I had last weekend.

It was a group of about 100 people, and most of them were complete strangers.

There was nothing for me to eat, but I figured that would be the case. So I brought along my own awesome veggie burgers. Seriously, these things are the shiitake.

Best tofu burgers

For my contribution to the potluck, I brought two batches of jelly doughnut cupcakes and a big container of roasted eggplant/red pepper dip with organic flaxseed tortilla chips.

I drew cute little signs for the food that listed the ingredients and potential allergens, since I didn't know if anybody there would have food allergies. (And I was secretly hoping there would be other vegans who would be happy to discover some goodies.)

People treated my food like it was poison. Most turned their noses up at the "vegan" label.

I saw people laughing at my signs. "Who cares?" said one lady as she gnawed on an almost-raw hamburger.

One person brought a big bowl of ranch dip and stole most of my chips because they neglected to bring their own.

Then someone started mixing the ranch dip with my roasted eggplant dip.

And then some lady came up with the bright idea to eat the ranch/eggplant mix with Cheetos and proceeded to dip the Cheetos DIRECTLY in the serving bowl. She used a few Cheetos to pull up great big globs of dip, used those Cheetos to sop up some ranch from the other bowl, ate the whole mess of it, licked her fingers and stuck them back in my bowl with more Cheetos.

Ugh. People are gross.

On the up side, the eggplant dip was really good before it was tainted. It's a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I found via the PPK forums. Here's how to make it:

2 medium eggplants, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, cayenne and salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the lemon juice and tahini, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped parsley. Garnish with extra parsley. (I subbed fresh basil, because I didn't have any parsley.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cinco de Julyo

For Independence Day, we drove to Pasadena and bought new dishes at IKEA. Here are the adorable bowls, in Palm Springs-y orange and green:


Jason loves the square black plates. I love the wide bowls with just one flower.

Plates & bowls

Here are the side plates.

Side plates

And FINALLY I have a great big serving platter.


Then we stopped at a fast foodish noodle place, because we were low on time and high on hunger. I ordered the tofu lo mein:

Tofu lo mein

And Jason and I split the spinach/tofu gyoza:

Spinach and tofu gyoza

After we got home, we had just enough time to get changed for a night hike. We climbed the Lykken Trail and watched five fireworks displays at once.

PS after dark

Hope all of you had a great Fourth of July and are having an equally good fifth of July!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Be excellent to each other

I had some people over last night for a viewing party of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."

Abby and I concocted the idea weeks ago. The plan was to watch the movie, then follow it up with a trip to the real water park in San Dimas, which we will do in a couple weeks.

I can't remember the exact inspiration for the Bill & Ted party, but I do know we were fueled by lots of vodka. (I think it actually came about because I had just seen "Mongol" and I was talking about Genghis Khan, and I said everything I knew about Genghis Khan came from "Bill & Ted" and then somehow we cooked up this idea.)

As far as food, I decided to serve stuff that the Wyld Stallyns would enjoy: French fries, chips, Ziggy Piggy ice cream (coconut milk ice cream) and a build-your-own nacho bar.

Nacho mama

The nachos were amazing. For the sauce, I used Joanna's recipe from "Yellow Rose Recipes," and it satisfied every craving I had for warm, gooey nacho cheese.

And then we scarfed everything down while we watched perhaps one of the greatest comedic films ever made.

San Dimas High School football rules!

Easy summer meal

I was about to get some takeout for lunch, like one of the vegan bowls from Native Foods ... then I realized that everything I needed for a homemade bowl was already in my fridge.

Easy meal

This is brown rice topped with corn and salsa verde with big chunks of creamy avocado and chipotle beef-style seitan.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hot tamales!

I can't believe I never ate a tamale until I moved to California.

Now they are my ultimate comfort food. On days when I really need to relax, there's nothing better than turning a bowl of masa into beautiful tamales.

It is the exact opposite of fast food -- the tamales are handcrafted with care, a dollop of masa followed by a spoonful of filling, each one carefully wrapped in corn husk, then steamed. It is a slow process, but one well worth it.


For this batch, the masa was made with the basic recipe from "Veganomicon." They are stuffed with a mixture of organic goodies from my CSA share: Zucchini, summer squash, carrots and onions, black beans, chipotles and other spices.

Tamale lunchbox

It makes the greatest lunch. The other people in my office always gaze at me with envy.