Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deceptively Delicious

Where have I been?

I think I had the flu (fever, chills, achey, head cold). Which was preceded by my children all having it. And although the kids were feeling better by the time I got sick, it hit my husband and me at the same time. We'd both be in bed while the kids fended for themselves. Occasionally, one of us would stagger out of bed to break up a fight or refill a sippy cup, then stagger back into bed as quickly as possible. It was one of those illnesses in which I was too weak to even fast forward through my dvr'ed show's commercials. I just endured the commercials rather than muster the energy to lift my hand.

Mix three weeks of someone being sick with a big birthday party, lots of out of town company, and the rigors (and fun) of everyday life - and that's where I've been.

Back to blogging!

I borrowed Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious from the library awhile back and have been enjoying trying out recipes from it. Although it isn't a vegan book, there is plenty to easily veganize. For those of you not familiar with the book, the concept is simply finding ways to sneak pureed fruits and veggies into your food.

And although my kids eat healthy enough that "sneaking veggies in" isn't necessary, I still find it fun and a challenge to do so. Above, I made the Tortilla Cigars with several changes. This is sort of what our Tortillas consisted of:

1 can pinto beans
1/2 cup yellow squash puree
1/2 cup carrot puree
sprinkling of Daiya

Yum! I spread the vegetable/bean puree onto Ezekiel Sprouted Tortillas with a little Daiya and rolled them up as tight as I could. I baked them for a bit (10 minutes? not sure) until they were browning and starting to crisp up a little. We couldn't get enough of these. I feel like there's no reason NOT to add veggie puree to my refried beans from now on. I didn't think it changed the taste much when it was all wrapped up.

Next up were the Blueberry Lemon Muffins, which I adapted quite a bit from the original recipe, veganizing it and cutting out some of the sugar and oil.

This was another yellow squash puree recipe. I chose these two recipes mostly because squash happens to be one of the vegetables my youngest two aren't crazy about. I love that I have these ideas to get a little yellow squash into them. We devoured these in two sittings. I could never stretch my desserts out for a month, like Shen, even if I wanted to.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Preheat oven 350. I stirred together these ingredients:

1/4 cup turbinado
1 Tbs. Earth Balance
3 Tbs. applesauce
1 cup lemon soy yogurt
(which is a little more than one container)

Then I added these ingredients:

3/4 cup steamed yellow squash puree
egg replacer equivalent to one egg
1 teaspoon lemon flavor
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe says to not overmix. Last, I stirred in:

1 cup frozen blueberries

Divide batter among muffin cups. (For me, this was equivalent to one 12-cup baking tin plus 2 extra silicone cups. Bake until muffins are lightly browned, about 13-16 minutes.

Next up on my list to try: Mozzarella Sticks with cauliflower puree!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's Been Going On Lately

A few random, fun happenings in my life lately:

I got to meet a blogger friend! Heather from Where's the Beach? and I had lunch together (the Friday before last). She blogged about it here. Since we live near one another, we had been talking for many months about getting together, and I'm glad we finally got the chance. She's fun, and I enjoyed our lunch (although it was much too short!).

This was my first time to eat at the relatively new 4 Square Gifts, which is a gift shop plus vegetarian deli (including vegan and gluten-free options) in Downtown Little Rock. I ordered the Hummus & Tofu Wrap, which was tasty, especially due to the lemon garlic hummus and kalamata olives.

We traveled up to Missouri that weekend to watch my niece in the Branson Community Theater production of Oliver! So cute and fun!

It usually only snows once or twice a year here, but it feels like it has been snowing every week.

where we live

The kids love the snow, obviously. And I love getting a call while still in bed that says, "The Public School System is closed today due to weather...". I bet my parents wish they had automated announcements when we were growing up. Of course, they didn't have cell phones or even phones on their nightstands, so I guess it wouldn't have made a difference.

We celebrated Ryan's birthday Friday night. (Unfortunately, he was out of town on business all week, including on his actual birthdate.) I asked him to choose anything he wanted for supper. I thought he might say a big Mexican meal or mashed potatoes and "meat"loaf, etc., but instead he picked Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with homemade cheese sauce. Normally, I use the grilled cheese recipe out of Ultimate Uncheese. I used Veganomicon's cheese sauce recipe this time, since I was out of tahini. On dark, seedy French Meadow Bakery Hemp Bread.

I also made Butternut Squash Soup. From scratch. Not really. I used Pacific's Organic Creamy Butternut Squash Soup.

He also requested a Delicious Choices Cheesecake. Delicious Choices was a company that would ship vegan cheesecakes to your door. Did anyone ever buy one? We bought several back in the day (always the sampler - every gigantic piece was a different flavor), and when they stopped selling them, they sold the recipes (that apparently can be found here).

I usually make the crust from scratch, but for sake of time, I just crumbled up two Wholly Wholesome Graham Cracker Crusts mixed with just enough melted Earth Balance.

I used a mixture of organic frozen strawberries, organic strawberry fruit spread, lemon juice, and a tiny bit of sugar for the topping.

Happy birthday, Ryan! Please don't go away on week-long business trips anymore!

This isn't the healthiest cheesecake recipe, but they are as delicious as their name indicates.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

E.A.T. World Challenge (China)

I had almost finished this post back in the days of Vegan Mofo, but then I went on vacation and never finished it. So...a little late, I present to you, "Our Night in China." Update: So...duh! It's Chinese New Year! Perfect timing! Happy Chinese New Year!

We like to celebrate big things and little things in our house. We have what we call "Family Fun Nights" with special themes. Often, they go along with what we are learning about at the time.(For example: here was our Ocean Unit party.)

Recently, the 4 kids of good friends of ours spent the night at our house. They are homeschoolers, too, and they appreciated joining in on a little of our Asian studies we've had going on around here lately.

We made hats and fans and looked at books and talked about the Chinese culture and food. (And we decorated with paper lanterns, etc. that we already had in our "party supply" tubs.)

We like to get recipe ideas from the juvenile non-fiction section of the library. There are a lot of pictures and easy, step-by-step instructions for the kids (easily veganized). I'd actually recommend children's cooking books for visual-learning adults like myself! Here are two of the Chinese food books we read: Foods of China by Barbara Sheen & A World of Recipes: China (There are several other country titles in this series.) by Julie McCulloch.

Here, they had rice cooked 3 ways; that seemed easy enough.

Fried Tofu with Rice

For our "fried rice with eggs," we just fried tofu in a skillet and mixed it with long grain rice and a little sprinkling of soy sauce.

Coconut Rice
Rice with organic Tamari and Peas & Carrots

The coconut rice was very interesting; the kids were shoveling it in! You are supposed to cook it in coconut milk for it to soak in the flavor. But I didn't have time to make a separate batch of rice so I just poured the (canned) coconut milk into the rice with a little sprinkling of organic sugar. The other section is just rice with (from frozen) peas & carrots.

Moo Goo Gai Pan

I was very excited and proud of myself for this one. I was just excited about making something called Moo Goo Gai Pan. I wove it into the conversation that night as many times as possible. I am a rather bland cook, and I'm a dunce when it comes to spices so this was stepping out for me! Here is a "sort-of" recipe:

*1 bag of Buffalo style Gardein strips (without using the sauce), tossed with salt, pepper, garlic, and organic cornstarch

*Cook shiitake mushrooms in a little oil, add 4 tbs. soy sauce. Mix in chopped onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and fresh minced garlic. (I added a tiny bit of ginger and would have added more if my kids weren't eating it.

*Stir in the sauce (about 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 2 tbs. hoisin sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, and 1 tbs. cornstarch.

I say this is a "sort of" recipe because I was trying to jot down everything I did, but I didn't measure the veggies, etc. and just "sort of" did what looked "right." It was delicious!

Seitan Broccoli and Hoisin Stir Fry

I based this dish on's Chinese Vegetable and Hoisin Stir Fry recipe.

Vermicelli and Vegetables

Everybody also got a small glass of Cherry Apple Rooibos Tea (mixed with a little sugar) to try. Some kids liked it, and some did not. My oldest child gulped down cup after cup.

These two are quite a (comical) handful when you get them together. (That's my 5 year old on the right.) Fortunately, our house guests are used to healthy food and vegetables at home; they weren't picky (like some of the other kids who come to our house) and ate everything (although I didn't offer them the soy dishes because I know their Mom is leery of it).

You wouldn't believe what the aftermath of 7 kids mixed with rice, noodles, and chopsticks looks like.

We made the Sweet Chestnut Balls Recipe from the A World of Recipes: China book. They are made from processing chestnuts with a little agave nectar. (The recipe called for honey.) This is what they looked like before the balls were rolled in powdered sugar and cinnamon.

And this is with the cinnamon and powdered sugar. I rolled them in the sugar right before they ate them because if not, the sugar soaked into the ball and became invisible. These were tasty but a little sweet for my tastebuds to eat more than one.

We also had fruit salad for dessert, inspired by the Chinese belief in "good luck" fruit salad.

I am including this post as a part of