Tag: Veganomicon

Popcorn, Successful Eggplant, and Other Adventures

Several weeks ago, we got popcorn in our CSA share. We never managed to use our popcorn in past years, but we were excited to give it a try this year. I grew up popping our own popcorn, but I’ve never done it myself. We used this recipe as a guideline; the popcorn was delicious.

CSA PopcornWe’ve been continuing our quest to consume leafy greens; this week’s first adventure was making the White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies from Smitten Kitchen. I’m usually pretty skeptical of baking greens–I have a strong dislike of the stringy texture that sometimes results. But, we tend to trust Smitten Kitchen (and pie crust solves most problems), so we went ahead with the pot pies.

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

We went to a vegan potluck at FUS yesterday. We wanted to take something different this time, but we didn’t want to adventure too far. We went with the Herb-Scalloped Potatoes from Veganomicon. We included the nutritional yeast topping; we’re sometimes skeptical about nutritional yeast, but I was reluctant to leave out ingredients during the first go-around. The yeast was actually a nice addition–it wasn’t trying to emulate cheese too much, but added a good flavor and texture.

Herb-Scalloped Potatoes (Veganomicon)

This post is getting pretty long, but we’ve made two other fun dishes recently. First, we made these Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies from Ambitious Kitchen. Now, I’ll admit that trying to make healthy desserts is often a lost cause; if you want a gooey brownie, you really just need to accept the calories and lack of nutrition that comes with it. But, it sounded like a good idea at the time. These are…okay. Aaron thinks it was the “flourless” part that really did us in. We’ll definitely still eat the pan (maybe with some powdered sugar on top!), but probably not a recipe we’ll make again.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies (Ambitious Kitchen)And finally, the promised successful eggplant recipe. We thought about making eggplant enchiladas again, but decided to try something new. We went with Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napolentana from Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe suggested that the artichoke can be replaced with zucchini; I really like artichoke, but we had tons of zucchini in the fridge, so we went with zucchini. These were basically fried eggplant with a delightful sauce and a pesto sauce (with basil picked from our patio!); they were deliciousDefinitely a keeper of a recipe. Plus, I discovered that I actually do like pesto; I’m not sure what I was afraid of in the past, but this was much more successful than I had anticipated. We even enjoyed this dinner on our patio! We haven’t been eating out there as much this summer, but it’s a nice change when we do. We were actually rearranging our apartment last night, and our dining room table was otherwise occupied.

Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napolentana (Vegan with a Vengeance)

Salads

We inventoried the refrigerator tonight to see how well we’re keeping up with our CSA and Farmer’s Market produce. We’re making progress, but there’s stil a lot left! Next week, I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the fridge once it’s been filled.

We had broccoli parmesan fritters from Smitten Kitchen for dinner. I forgot to get a picture of them, but I assure you they’re delicious. We usually eat ours with parmesan garlic sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings, which  you can buy in bottles. It’s a bit of an odd combination, but the sauce adds a fun spice to the fritters.

We’re having the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon on Thursday, so we roasted a bulb of fennel this evening. It’s also a pleasant surprise (for me, at least) to cut into fennel and smell licorice. (Full disclosure: I have no idea how to cut fennel. Aaron did that–I just enjoyed the smell.)

Roasted Fennel Although we’ve had several salads, we still have mixed greens left; we tried to finish up the bag by making salads for lunch tomorrow. There’s probably one salad’s worth left. Oops. I’ve been enjoying the various fruits and vegetables we have available for dressing up a salad; tomorrow’s lunch has beets and strawberries, along with feta and goat cheese. This picture is a little bright with the flash, but it’s a prettier picture than the non-flash version, so we’re going to go with it.

Strawberry Salad

Seitan

We’ve recently started incorporating seitan into our meals. Seitan is made from wheat gluten and is often used as a fake meat substitute; although we do use it to replace meat in some recipes, we also like to think of it as an excellent and tasty source of protein.

At first, we were purchasing seitan from the grocery store. However, seitan can be a little pricey, and recently the store was actually out. So, we’ve begun adventuring to make our own, using the “Simple Seitan” recipe from Veganomicon. We tried once in February, but due to some miscommunication about whether we were halving the recipe, we ended up with a less pleasing version.

However, we tried again last week! Seitan starts out as a stretchy dough. After the cooking process, you end up with this:

Seitan

From here, seitan can be cut into cubes and used in a variety of dishes. We used the first hunk to make an orange-ginger stir-fry, which we’ve also made for Aaron’s parents in the past.

Then, tonight, we repeated a recipe we’ve come to love: vegan orange chicken. In general, I’m not a huge fan of using “meat substitutes” to re-create meat dishes. I would rather have new dishes that make interesting use of vegetables and grains. However, there are some marinades that I love and want to find new uses for; Aaron discovered that tempeh makes a good base for a lemon-dill marinade with which I grew up. And, I happen to adore the sauce that’s used for orange chicken (specifically, the gooey version that you get from Panda Express). A quick google search found us the Vegan Happy Hour blog and a wonderful vegan orange chicken recipe. This recipe creates a fantastic replication of orange chicken; the sauce, in particular, is remarkably close to what you’d get at the restaurant.

Vegan Orange Chicken

 

Vegan Potluck

Last week, we went to a potluck and movie showing with the Plant-Based Eating Group at FUS. We first found out about the group at a winter farmers’ market, and we’ve been to brunch (at the Green Owl) with the group before. The group has both vegens and vegetarians (and some allies); the potluck was vegan to ensure that everyone could eat everything.

Aaron and I aren’t vegan, but we cook a lot of vegan food. If you check out our Cookbooks page, you’ll see that several of our favorites (in particular, Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengance) are vegan cookbooks. So, finding a vegan dish appropriate for a potluck was actually pretty easy; much easier, in fact, than finding a Kosher-for-Passover dish for the seders a few weeks ago.

Before I talk about the dish we actually brought, I want to take a brief moment to exclaim just how wonderful this potluck was. Not only was there a wide range of tasty, home-cooked food brought by a fun group of folks, but I was able to eat more than just the dish I brought. I’ve gotten so used to bringing my own food to large events, or filling up on appetizers (yay, cheese and crackers). And in general, that’s fine. My family (and Aaron’s family!) have been pretty accommodating. But, it was incredibly refreshing to be among others with similar food beliefs.

We went with the Camelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon. This dish is one of our favorites (though, if you ask Aaron, he doesn’t always like eating it for days on end, and it even a half recipe yields many meals). We even brought this to Thanksgiving a few years ago, though I think that many of my relatives were scared by the chestnuts.

Butternut squash chestnut roast (Veganomicon)Although the recipe comes from a vegan cookbook, it’s pretty easy to accidentally make this non-vegan. The topping is breadcrumbs, and most breadcrumbs (at least that we could find) contain dairy. We used gluten-free all-purpose rice crumbs to make this recipe truly vegan.

I should also note that it can sometimes be challenging to find chestnuts. Our beloved HyVee used to carry them consistently, but we’ve had trouble finding them recently. We used to get jarred chestnuts, but these apparently became a “seasonal” item. Then there were vacuum-packed chestnuts, which worked just as well. But those disappeared off the shelves, too. This time, we had to go to a second store–Metcalfe’s–to get chestnuts, and so we stocked up! If you ever go looking for chestnuts, be warned that you will get the asked if you’re planning on “roasting them over an open fire” at least once!

After dinner, we watched VegucatedThe documentary follows three New Yorkers on a six-week vegan experiment. If you want to learn more, there’s a ton of information on the website.