Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Runnin' With the Devil

Check that shit out! Awwww yeah.

Hey readers, have you missed me? Yeah, I hear you. I have a new job with a metric buttload of responsibilities and I'm super surprised I have enough time to do anything but eat, sleep, and work. I've been leaning on convenience and comfort foods, like nachos and the infamous diablo dog. In July, that little number will be three years old--isn't that awesome? Since the release of that masterpiece, I've influenced many a vegan and omni to try the said delicacy. Don't thank me, thank Amy Sedaris. It was her character in Strangers With Candy that inspired the whole thing. Don't go stingy on the bacon bitz.
Just look at that: grilled vegan dogs topped with vegan chili, diablo sauce, tomatoes, onions, horseradish, chopped jalapenos, and pickles. If I were a beer drinker, I'd probably want a Corona with lime, but I'll stick to a cold ginger ale instead. That way I won't get arrested.

I've perfected my diablo sauce, so please give it a try and let me know what you think!

Diablo Sauce 2012

You'll need

  • 1 c. Daiya Cheddar shreds
  • 1/2 c. non dairy milk
  • 3 T vegan cream cheese
  • 2T chopped jalapenos PICKLED, y'know the kind in a jar
  • 1T vegan butter or canola oil
  • 1 big assed clove o' garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. roasted jalapenos
  • a couple of drops of liquid smoke
  • 1 t. Ms. Dash spicy blend OR chipotle lime flavor
  • salt to taste
  • about a T of flour at the end to thicken
Saute your garlic in the oil, then add your pickled and roasted jalapenos. Add the cheeses, and stir on medium heat until melty. You may need to add splashes of milk if the sauce is too thick. Don't be a fool and have the heat turned up too high, or you'll just end up with a giant wad of what looks like orange jalapeno chewing gum. Add your spices and keep stirring. Throw the flour in at the very end. You should have a nice cheesy gravy that is reminiscent of that shit you get out of a pump at 7-11, only much better.

How do you roast a jalapeno? Simple. Oven=350. Fresh jalapenos, about 6-8 of them. Rinse the peppers off. Now rub a little oil into the skins. Fill a baking dish with just a smidgen of water. Throw the peppers in the pan. Bake for 10 mins, check and turn. Bake for another. They should puff up as if they were going to explode. They'll collapse when you take them out of the oven. Once cooled remove the seeds, some of the skin, and the stems--GLOVED HANDS, people! Gloved hands. Capsaicin never takes a day off. Chop these up and use as a condiment or a mix in for that heat lover in your life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Holy Ravioli!

I took a stab at making my own homemade ravioli! I can't believe I thought it would be hard. All pasta is is flour, salt, water, oil, and a binder. Many use eggs, but in the age of allergy awareness-(and I'm hoping a dash of compassion), many companies make their pasta vegan.
Just buy a bag of semolina flour and follow the basic pasta dough directions. To veganize, sub each egg required with 1T flax meal+3T warm water.
After you mix the dough, let it take a nap for about 20-30 minutes to let the gluten do it's thang. Flour a surface and roll it flat, about 1/8 of an inch, but no more than 1/4 of an inch. Take a pizza cutter-(or ravioli cutter if you have one, but if you do chances are you don't need this tutorial) and cut into 2x2 squares. Spoon your favorite filling using a heaping teaspoon, being careful to not overfill. I used a mixture of garlic, soysage, oregano, salt, tofutti cream cheese, spinach, and some bread crumbs.
Watch me go! I put one square over the other and pinch the edges with a fork so it looks like a gnawdorable lil' pillow.
A pillow filled with magical spinachey goodness.

Don't eat it raw! Get some water boiling as you make your ravioli. Get it to a rollin' boil. Throw those babies in there, and set a timer. You want to watch 'em float.

In the meantime, preheat your oven for 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Once your ravioli are all boiled, brush with a lil' olive oil and place them on the paper. Bake for about 5-7 minutes. You don't want them to dry out, just not be so soggy.

Now cover them with some marinara and vegan parm. Don't worry, I'll give you the recipe:

1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1/8 c. nutritional yeast
1/8 t. salt
1/2. t. garlic powder
1/2. t. Ms. Dash Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Blend

Put all ingredients in a coffee bean grinder and pulse a few times. If you don't have one, then pulse a few times in a blender. If you don't have that, get a baggie and smash the hell out of the seeds with a meat tenderizer and mix the seeds with the nutritional yeast, salt, and spice blend.
Store in an airtight container.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Never underestimate the clearance section

While shopping at my local food co-op, I came across a whole mess of these chokolit bars for 69 cents a piece. The packaging was different, because it was a line made to donate extra money to endangered animals. Neato, huh? I grabbed several dark with coconut, and one with chili. I haven't tried the chili ones yet, because I want to make some Mexican hot chocolate cookies and thought that would be a nice touch added in the dough.

The story of Louis is SO inspiring. I wish I had the initiative to be a chocolatier at such a young age! Being a teen is hard enough, but to overcome adversity like he did just made my heart smile. Never underestimate the power of dreams and determination. I know, I sound like one of those posters.

He does have a non-vegan line, but all of the dark bars are made without dairy. YES, there is a "may contain nuts and milk", but I really think that is because it is produced on the same equipment as the other bars. So if you are super allergic to milk, or just can't ethically deal with trace amounts in your stuff, well there are other vegan chocolates. The chocolate is also made without palm oil, so you are making orangutans feel a little safer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Look, it's sausage!

There you go folks, a giant vegan polish sausage with kraut, peppers, onions, and served with tomato slices and rice pilaf. I only wished I could have eaten this outside. The sausage recipe is from Hearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites. My only frustration is that my sausage looks more like a bratwurst. Why can't my food look like the pictures in the book? Gah. It was still really good. I bet it would have even been better cooked on the grill!

Monday, March 12, 2012

You bet your buns they're that good!

Mr. J's birthday was a few weeks ago and he begged me for a copy ofHearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. I was stunned! He is incorporating more vegan meals than ever into his diet, and I really couldn't be any happier. He asked and received.

The magical vegan cookbook fairy sent me an autographed copy of HVFMA and The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. ((((waving hands)))) I'm all kinds of farklempt! I haven't tried everything in the book, but I know enough to love it profoundly. LOVE IT! So far, I've tackled the super streusel-y muffins, the bbq buns, and tonight made some polish sausages to serve with peppers, onions, and kraut tomorrow. Food squee!

Pictured above is Vin's birthday lunch of BBQ Baked Buns served with a side of a broccoli salad I threw together. It was such a cinch. The beauty of HVFMA is that it is a really good transitional cookbook for those who are newly vegan, considering veganism, or if you just wanna blow omnivores away with some tasty down home equivalents to stuff that would normally make your doctor lecture you about cholesterol.

This book has received some unfair reviews, mostly by vegans who are surprised this isn't a salad cookbook, which makes me giggle. If the critical had looked harder, they would have seen the following review by Rory Freedman:

"Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites is a feast of indulgent, decadent goodness. If you're looking for a salad recipe for your health nut friends, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for the vegan answer to everything your meat eating mouth has ever wanted, you've come to the right place."

So really, people are disappointed by a book that clearly states what kind of food to expect? I mean I might whine if the book was titled Salads for Every Vegan, but it isn't. C'mon, the word MONSTER is in the title. I can't figure people out. What I can say with certainty is I want my food with flavor and filling. Salads? Get outta here, I want to make a meal that will turn into a video by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Back that plate up, do you hear me? Pass the wet naps too, because it is about to get messy in this bidnezz.

I often get overwhelmed with the sheer number of vegan cookbooks in veggietown. It's enough to drive a person nuts. After purchasing many books, I have come to the conclusion that I'm a diehard Steen/Newman fan. The recipes are taste bud tinglin' and Celine's food photography is to die for. I daydream of sitting at that big wood table she uses for taking photos. The food is piled high and I'm being totally pampered by both authors. ((((((sigh))))))

Do yourself a favor, save the salads for the dog days of Summer and get to gettin' on some substantial eats.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm a Quorn Fed Girl

All of my crazy blogging is paying off! About a month or so ago, a nice representative from Quorn sent me an e-mail. They wanted to know if I'd try a sample of their new vegan burgers. Huh? How did they hear about me? Mercy For Animals on Twitter. NOTE: there are images on their site of suffering animals, so you might not want to click on the link if you are not comfortable with seeing those images.

So tweeting really pays off! So does signing petitions and sending e-mails. About two weeks prior to the letter, I had signed a survey and sent Quorn a letter telling them that it was silly for them to not veganize their stuff. In my pregan days, that line was my absolute fave. So please, never underestimate the power of writing!

I will give any Foodbuzz Featured Publishers a warning: don't change the format of your blog without the appropriate FB tags. D'oh! Or should I say, "Dough!" I had the most hits I've ever had in four years and it didn't count because each US impression didn't have the ad on it. My error, seriously. Not that I made a million bucks doing that, but I do donate that money to a food bank, so I was a little sad. If you would like to donate to my local food bank, you can do so at Mother Hubbard's Cupboard website.
These don't really taste like any other commercial patty I've tried. They are soy free, so you soy allergy peeps can rejoice. I was slightly apprehensive when I stuck the burger in my toaster oven. A smell that reminded me of my elementary school cafeteria permeated my house. You know, that scent of mystery meat? Yeah.
Then I made it into a reuben, took a bite, and smiled. When the sauerkraut, vegan 1,000 island, avocado, and pumpernickel danced with the patty I was really pleased. The new Quorn burger would be good for grilling, is suitable for the toaster oven, and would probably really rock fried-(what doesn't taste better fried?) You probably shouldn't eat it plain, but that's the case with most vegan burgers commercial or homemade. I mean, how many people do you know eat a plain patty? Usually a small contingent of weirdos, that's who. No condiment people, hear me now: I narrow my eyes in your direction.

Since I can't find these locally, I don't know what they retail for in the supermarkets. I will say if I had to pick a commercial burger, I would lean towards this one. Now--if they'd just get on it about their chick'n line....

So, if you'd like to win a coupon for a FREE box of these, send me a comment on this entry about a popular vegetarian item on the market that can be made vegan. Will you contact that company and rattle their cage? You totally should. I'll pick an entry on St. Patty's day-(get it, patty?) and snail mail you the coupon.


Monday, March 5, 2012

I have no beef with lentils

I'm so in love with Snobby Joes from Veganomicon, they are on my regular menu rotation. Woah, that made me sound like I'm all organized n' shit, and have planned menus. I don't. I just sit around watching TV and will say to myself, "You know what you haven't had in a while, Jen? Snobby Joes." From there it's a short mission to forage for the pantry staples to make this dish. If you want to make it even faster, prep your lentils the night before and just throw everything together. Dinner in less than 30 minutes, readers. Seriously, I use lentils in just about everything. It is my go-to in lieu of ground beef.

Something else I think about when I'm lounging around watching my stories on the teevee is how much I love to read inspirational articles. Funny, right? Thinking about reading when watching television. I am a hoot.

When I just need to be reminded why I do what I do, is this article by Vegan Outreach. Unlike other angry, agitated, and acronym filled organizations, VO is all about small steps and working towards an actual goal instead of living in an unreasonable all-or-nothing paradigm. Moving in a direction that spares animals, even in a slow motion is better than never doing anything. Don't forget that! Example: my SUPERomni spouse that grew up eating pigs with his cows told me that he wanted to go pescatarian, for himself. Not because anything I've done or said--just because he's tired of the flesh world.

Now some would say that isn't good enough. I say a big fat WRONG! Will he ever go all the way and shout Viva La Vegan from the rooftops? I have no idea. I mean, I'd love to hear him say that, but no one has to be me but me--and at the end of the day I want to know that I've given people the dignity to be themselves, even if I don't completely agree with what they do. Lord knows not everyone agrees with me and I'm still loved.

What I do think is amazing is that he is completely open to doing something positive like this. I'm so proud of him. I'd like to take credit for this, but I can't. He made the decision to do what is real and right for him, to find his own truth. All I can do is continue to cook really good vegan meals for him and just be a good example. Let this be your mantra: something is better than nothing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Not masa-ing around: tamale pancakes

Oh what a terrible pun. Here's a shot of me from my Compassionate Eating class at church. I've had the honor of teaching 6-8 congregants the mental, physical, spiritual, and ethical advantage of eating a plant based diet. The results have been amazing! People are really jazzed about the class and have been trying more and more vegan dishes at home.

We had the following for dinner the other night:
Tamale Pancakes

Who wants to spend hours filling corn husks with masa dough? I want to get right to eatin' so I created a pancakey version of this for your enjoyment. The toppings are really up to you!

pancake batter you'll need
3 c. masa harina for tamales
3 c. water
1/3 canola oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder

Mix dry with wet thoroughly and set aside. It won't be batter, and it won't be dough. Get your toppings prepared!

Lentil Topping
  • 1 c. lentils
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. habanero hot sauce
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1/4 t. cayenne (optional)
  • black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cheddar daiya cheese (optional, throw in at end)

Cook lentils-(this takes about 20 minutes), then saute them with a little olive oil and the other ingredients. Keep the heat low and cook for a good 15-20 mins. You can add onion if you want to, but I didn't. I made the dish a little neutral spice-wise because I have varying shades of people who do/don't like hot dishes. This is essentially my go to recipe for vegan taco meat.


  • 2 avocados
  • pinch salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Smash everything together. C'mon, it's guacamole for cryin' out loud!

You can also have the following toppings:
  • jalapenos
  • refried beans
  • fresh cilantro
  • finely chopped green apple, YES apple! This is nice if you make your toppings spicy, it's good for coolin' off.

Get a griddle or skillet ready to cook on medium heat. Using 1/3 c, measure out the masa dough/batter and spread out a little with a wooden spoon. Cook one side for about 4 minutes, then flip again for another 4. you want them to be slightly crispy. So I guess this is more of a tostada pancake? Who cares. It's forking amazing.

For dessert we had chocolate chip cookies using Abuelita chunks! I wasn't wild about the turn out, but the students loved them! I thought they tasted more like muffin tops.

I used the following recipe:
  • 1 c AP flour
  • 1 c ww pastry flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 c. sucanat
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 3 T ground flax seeds
  • 1 c. vegan yogurt + 1/3 c. warm water, whisked
  • 1 circle Abuelita cocoa, chopped into chunks-(this will be messy and grainy!)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry with wet ingredients and dollop large spoonfulls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. These will get fluffy! Bake for about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely, then eat. They will be muffin-toppy and cinnamon chocolatey. Again, I wasn't wild about them, but 6 against one says differently!