Tag Archives: Vegan Comfort Food

Lovely Luau

My awesome and amazing girlfriends threw me a luau-themed birthday party!  This was a perfect way to forget the dreary January weather and post-Christmas blues.

It’s not a luau without cheesy tropical drinks.  I made 2 pitchers of Bahama Mamas using orange juice, pineapple juice, Sierra Mist, sliced oranges, lemons, and limes.  I added Malibu coconut rum to one pitcher; the other pitcher remained Virgin Mamas.  I bet you can guess which pitcher was more popular.

My favorite Bahama Mama helped me garnish each drink with an orange slice, a maraschino cherry, and a drink umbrella!

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My friend Matt is a very talented self-taught vegan chef, and he made carrot-ginger soup!  He said he found it on a Hawaiian lady’s blog.  I’ll have to ask him for the link.  It was full of warming spices, perfect for a winter’s eve luau.  We had that with some King’s Hawaiian rolls, provided by Kate.  I love those.

I hate to say this, but it wouldn’t be a Hawaiian party without some Spam.  Thanks to Sara and Marc for balancing out the vegan offerings!

I made some Hawaiian Fried Rice.

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Jenny made me a heavenly glazed mango-coconut-macadmia loaf:
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And Sara made a decadent chocolate-macadamia pie.  So, yeah, my friends rock.  I couldn’t be luckier.  And now they all have birthdays coming up, so it’s time to start planning!

“I’m Tiki Man, and I approve this fried rice.”

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1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil: $0.04
canola oil: $0.06
1 lb firm tofu, diced $1.99
1 medium red onion, finely chopped: $0.79
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped: $1.43
1 small yellow bell pepper, fine chopped: $1.43
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped: $1.19
1 medium carrot, finely chopped: $0.08
5 cups cooked jasmine rice: $2.33 (I used the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s; would have been a lot cheaper to cook it the old-fashioned way)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce: $0.05
2 tablespoons oyster sauce: $0.30
1 tablespoon sambal oelek: $0.12
1 cup diced pineapple: $3.49 (I used more than a cup, and it was the fresh stuff, already cut.  It would probably be cheaper to use canned OR hack up a pineapple yourself.)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped: (I omitted these to keep it cheap)

= $13.30 for a HUGE wok-ful!

/12 servings

=$1.11/serving!

 

Thanksgiving 2012

It was good to have the family together after too many years and to celebrate with some flexibility in my eating habits.  ;)

For breakfast I made pumpkin-cranberry scones from a mix from Trader Joe’s (had to get some pumpkin in somewhere)

My Dad made a ham, so I tried to think of hearty vegetarian entrees that would complement that.  I decided that pineapple would go well with sweet potatoes (much better than the classic/gross marshmallow topping) and then found this lovely recipe for pineapple upside down sweet potatoes.  It was wonderful!

 

I also made my Nine a Day Salad, which is always a hit. 

and some collard greens with pecans

 

 

some simple garlic mashed potatoes (made with soy milk)

cornbread stuffing mix from Trader Joe’s to which I added sauteed onions and celery + corn kernels

My sister made the classic/delicious green bean casserole: a huge crowd pleaser.  My Mom made Pilsbury crescent rolls and 2 pies: apple and pecan.

Everything was absolutely delicious!  I was thankful for an abundance of good food and family.

Pumpkin Fanatic

When I was a kid we had a cat named Dusty II who would go to great lengths to get my Mom’s homemade pumpkin pie.  She would climb on top of the fridge, chew through saran wrap, get lids off with her paws, etc.  When autumn rolls around, I AM Dusty.  I can’t get enough pumpkin soy lattes, pumpkin sweets, pumpkin-scented candles, and even savory pumpkin entrees.  I would like to think that it’s due to some kind of seasonal vitamin A deficiency, but I’m pretty sure it’s all about mental comfort.  There ARE worse dependencies, though, right?

Cartoon Found on Pinterest

Anyway, when I saw Amber Shea’s Creamy Pumpkin-Pecan Oatmeal on Almost Vegan, I HAD to try it!  I modified it for the microwave because I hate washing dishes.  I just mixed the following in a bowl:

  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of choice (I used a drizzle of agave nectar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pecans

Then I microwaved it for about a minute and then let it sit for about a minute.  It was like pumpkin pie for breakfast: sooooo delicious!

  • 1/4 cup quick oats: $0.02
  • 1/4 cup soy milk: $0.05
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin purée: $0.20
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon: $0.03
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract: $0.05
  • Sweetener of choice (I used a drizzle of agave nectar): $0.02
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pecans: $0.05

=$0.42 for a perfect breakfast!

Also recently I made some pumpkin cupcakes for a friend’s birthday party.  I used the easiest recipe in history.  Just mix:

  • 1 box of spice cake mix
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Spoon into 12 muffin cups, then bake at 350 for 22 to 24 minutes.

These come out fluffy, moist, and super low in fat!

In keeping with the whole low-fat thing, I decided to frost them with a healthy chocolate-pumpkin frosting.  Just mix:

  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

This stuff tasted good.  I liked that it wasn’t too sweet.  BUT I was really disappointed with the consistency.  The picture on the Web site has a perfectly piped petal pattern, but my frosting was gloppy, runny, and ugly.  No problem.  I spooned a SMALL amount on each cupcake and then ran to the corner store for some sprinkles.  When I got to the party, the frosting was pretty smooshed, but sprinkles hide all decorating sins.

People said they liked the cupcakes, including one guy who normally doesn’t like pumpkin.

  • 1 box of spice cake mix: $1.29
  • 1 can of pumpkin: $1.79
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract: $0.10
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin: $0.40
  • 
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder: $0.36
  • 1/4 c. honey: $0.75
  • 
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce: $0.17

=$4.86 for a dozen cupcakes or $0.41 each

I won’t give up on my pumpkin obsession until after Christmas.

 

 

Chocolathon!

My friends and I come up with the BEST potluck themes!  The latest one: chocolate.  Yep, a whole meal centered around chocolate.  It was awesome.

I made Black Bean and Yam Enchiladas with Mole Sauce.  I got the recipe from a wonderful blog called The Keen Kitchen.  Check it out!

The mole was actually really easy to make and really rich.  I can’t wait to make it again!

The lovely Sara made a unique and delicious pasta dish!  It was tossed with a light citrus-zest sauce and topped with finely grated chocolate.

Half of us really enjoyed the complex flavors, but half of us preferred the pasta without the chocolate.  Personally, I have always felt that citrus and chocolate is a winning combination.  All of us agreed that the pasta and enchiladas were surprisingly good together.

Next came the important part: dessert!

The beautiful Jenny brought us heavenly chocolate-pumpkin muffins with pumpkin glaze.

My description will not do these justice.  They were super chocolatey, and the pumpkin glaze was super pumpkiny!

Sara really outdid herself by bringing an entree AND a fancy dessert!  She made these lovely little chocolate tarts.  They involved puff pastry shells, chocolate pudding, and mini marshmallows.  They tasted like s’mores.  But classier!

We also enjoyed a lovely Malbec with our meal, provided by the gorgeous Kate (who was not able to drink any, since she was pregnant at the time, but she has since delivered a healthy baby boy…Yay!)

We decided that our next potluck theme should be Greek food.  I’m excited about that one, but I also think that we should repeat the chocolate theme soon.

Caribbean Home Cooking

The other day my friend Yaina made a lovely Cuban/Puerto Rican meal for me!

Black Beans and Rice, Tostones (Savory Fried Plantains), and Avocado-Tomato Salad

Just bragging.  That’s all.

Breakfast-for-Dinner Potluck

Our latest potluck theme was Breakfast for Dinner.  Yum!  Sara graciously hosted and made mimosas!  Thank you, Sara!

I made Herbed Whole-Wheat Drop Biscuits with Smoked Almond Gravy from a cookbook called Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskovitz.

Jenny brought amazing vegan cinnamon rolls from the health-food store.  A new friend brought spinach-artichoke quiche (not vegan but I don’t care)!

Another friend brought French toast (also not vegan), and somebody else brought chocolate-pumpkin muffins that just happened to be vegan!  They were made using a low-fat recipe that calls for mixing a box of cake mix with a can of pumpkin.  The result is moist and delicious.  Kate brought one of her famous pies, which also happen to be vegan.   Her crust is always light and flaky, just about the best I’ve ever had!  The strawberry filling was perfect too.  She also provided some super flavorful home-grown strawberries from her garden.

Breakfast for Dinner was a delicious carb-fest success!  We definitely need to fit in at least one more potluck before I leave.  We’re thinking maybe Italian food or maybe a nachos bar.  The food is always great, but it’s really the company that makes these lovely affairs.

Herbed whole-wheat drop biscuits

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.  Mix:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I used fresh and added it with the wet ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cut in:

  • 3 tablespoons cold non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons cold non-hydrogenated margarine (I didn’t have any shortening, so I just used 5 tablespoons of margarine)

Stir in:

  • I cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk.  I used soy)

Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough on baking sheet in mounds (about 1/4 cup each.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

Smoked almond gravy

In your food processor or blender chop:

  • 2 cloves garlic

Then add:

  • 1 cup smoked almonds (I was disappointed to find that Trader Joe’s didn’t have smoked almonds.  No problem.  Instead I used regular almonds and added several grinds of TJ’s South African SMOKE Seasoning Blend.  This was probably even better because I was able to control the amount of smoky flavor, and this stuff is gonna be great on lots of vegan foods)

Then process the almonds into fine crumbs.  Add:

  • 1 1/4 cups water (I used unsweetened soy milk instead)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Process until smooth.  Don’t worry if it seems thin right now.  Pour it into a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  That’s it!

Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant: San Francisco

I was in San Francisco last weekend, and my boyfriend—knowing my love of good, greasy, American Chinese dishes— found for me a Chinese restaurant that serves vegetarian versions of classics like Lemon Chicken and Beef with Broccoli: Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant.  It was wonderful.  We had trouble narrowing down the menu of over 100 dishes—all vegetarian.  The waitress was an adorable young lady and super helpful; she recommended some of her favorites.

Noor really wanted to try the Veggie BBQ Pork Appetizer.  The thin strips of seitan in a sweet/hot sauce had a convincing texture.

The Sweet & Sour Chicken did not disappoint.  Crispy deep-fried nuggets of faux meat in sweet red sauce with pineapple, peppers, and carrots.  It was like a blast from my pre-veg past!

We also went with the Fresh Mushroom w/ Fried Soft Tofu & Vegetables.  This dish had four different types of mushrooms: black, enoki, golden, and white!  The other veggies (broccoli, snow peas, carrots, etc.) were fresh and crisp.  The tofu was light, and the sauce was super savory.  It had an umami factor that tasted just like chicken broth to me.

I was starting to get full, but the waitress did not ask us IF we wanted to order dessert.  She asked, “Would you like to order dessert now or later?”  When I explained that we didn’t need dessert, this sweet young lady gave me a death stare that would put any grandmother, teacher, or military drill instructor to shame.  Then Noor chimed in, explaining that he is half Indonesian and had noticed that they had fried bananas on the dessert menu.  And so it was decided.  We ordered them with vegan vanilla ice cream (!), and they were glorious.  This picture really does not do justice to these creamy, sweet delicacies wrapped in light, crispy batter (actually all of these pics were taken on my phone).  I fully admit that I was wrong; the waitress and Noor were right.  If you go to Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant, you MUST order dessert, no matter how full you are or how many chocolates you have back at your boyfriend’s apartment.

This place is not fancy, but it is damn good.  The menu has enough variety and integrity to please just about anybody: from the most militant vegan to the most diehard omnivore.  The fare is hearty, and the service is friendly, but it was the attention to detail that impressed us the most.  For example, the hot tea is complimentary, and when we both ordered water they brought us a quart-sized bottle of cold, lemon-flavored water.  The home-cooked food and homey atmosphere are a bargain; our meal came to less than $40 for an appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert.  I’m so happy that I have all summer in San Francisco to try more of the wonderful dishes at Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant (and I promise to take some better photos next time ;) )