Monday, January 23, 2012

Bacon Cheeseburger Fries

I am not recommending these as an everyday food for sure but I am recommending you try this combo out! It is an amalgam of a different recipes to create one little dish of deliciousness. 

Just take a look at it...

I used a really cute little fold up paper tray but it totally got lost in all the parchment and goodness. That right there is (from bottom to top) oven baked yukon gold fries, chopped up pan-fried Gardein burgers, diced onions, PPK Cashew Queso with a few tweaks (left out the heat, upped the nooch and added ume plum vinegar), Imitation Bacon Bits (from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites) and diced pickles. After taking these pretty pictures I put a squirt or two of ketchup and mustard over the top too. I should have put tomatoes and lettuce too but by the time I thought of was gone!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Food Network Friday: Bayou Chicken Pasta by Emeril

This is one delicious Food Network Friday! This time we are making Emeril Lagasse's Bayou Chicken Pasta. It is a spicy one though (you've been warned) and I even cut the heat down considerably by cutting the habanero out completely! I like a little spice in my food but I will admit to being totally intimidated by habanero peppers. Between what I've heard about them being like the hottest peppers on Earth and a bag of Death Rain potato chips a few years back, I am straight up terrified of these seemingly harmless little guys. I did however really enjoy Emeril's Essence (still questioning the name of it though as it conjured up some less than PG jokes from Ryan and myself that night) and it really did give this recipe a hit of "BAM!" like he's always promising.

I didn't write down a recipe since I didn't really change much of what was actually written but I will go through my substitutions to show you how easy it is to take a dish that looks so unvegan and make it deliciously vegan! Emeril goes for chicken but I say "BAM!" and change it out for chickeny seitan cutlets. I used a tester recipe from Tamasin so I can't share it but you could use any seitan or sauteed mushrooms would be excellent or even pressed tofu like Liz did over at Cooking the Vegan Books. He also uses a bit of butter in the recipe, you could use EB or something like that but I just went with a little more olive oil. Next up was the heavy cream which led me to the cupboard for some cashews. Cashew cream is one of my favourite vegan tricks to make a dish really creamy and one of the many reasons I love my Vitamix. I used to let my old blender run for 10 minutes and still didn't get the creamy smoothness that the Vitamix does. I used 3/4 cup of cashews with 1/2 cup of soy milk and 1/4 cup of water to make my heavy cream so take that Emeril...BAM! Last substitution needed was the Parmesan which I quickly swapped out for some nutritional yeast and this time I really did say BAM! as I sprinkled it on top of the final dish. I had to say it once at least while making this or it would feel right!

Some other subs I made that were just for personal preference or lack of stock in the fridge (I'm talking to you green onions) were: took out the habanero completely (like I mentioned), didn't add the extra 1 1/2 tsp of salt (it was already salty enough for me), I used leftover spaghetti instead of linguine which made my cooking time a little less and used up my leftovers (I added 1/2 cup of veg broth to my diced tomatoes instead of just plain water and heated the pasta in the sauce as it simmered) and left out the green onions but think they would really work with it. I also added in some sundried tomatoes (six halves of the non-oil packed kind to be more specific) when I added the cream to up the tomato flavour and I think it really added a little something....maybe a little BAM! I also added some peas to it after I took the picture because there is something about peas and pasta with me. It would also taste excellent served with some steamed broccoli.

Ryan really enjoyed this one (read went back for seconds and had it for lunch the next day) as did I. My mom gave it a try (sans chickeny seitan) and while it was a bit hot for her tastes she did eat it all. We will definitely be having it again maybe even more toned down. It would be good even without the chicken as well. Another idea popped into my head while I was cooking this as well...."Damn, this would have been a great pizza!" so I'm sure that will happen sometime soon too! Everything tastes better on pizza crust, doesn't it?

Don't forget to check out what everyone else did for this Food Network Friday recipe over on Tami's blog! And why not cook-a-long with us for the next one?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crafty Projects

I have been seriously enjoying testing all the crafty projects that Joni has been coming up with for her upcoming book. I love crafting and have a serious amount of scrapbooking supplies up in my spare bedroom so most of the time I have what I need on hand. These projects may look a little complicated but trust me they are easy to make (with Joni's instructions at least) and so beautiful! People will be fighting over who gets to keep them and you won't want to let them go. Around here Mac has been trying to lay claim on them but so far I've managed to keep them for myself. I also have been loving Joni's "in a jar recipes" because while they are great for gifting, they are also great for my pantry! I mixed up a bunch of them and then when I want something most of the work is already done which makes meals so much easier!

Double Sided Accordion Cookbook
I couldn't figure out how to get a picture of it all
opened up and all but you can put some recipes
in it to give as a gift and can use both sides
Recipe Treasure Box
The kind where you stash those index
cards with all the recipes you use all the time
Same box different angle

L-R Chipotle Ranch Dressing, Hearty Pasta Soup with Chickn',
Curried Rice Pilaf and Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Strawberry Pineapple Orange Cake Mix

This is the Hearty Pasta Soup with Chickn' once it was all cooked
and it was soooo delicious!

Cranberry Muffin in homemade parchment baking cups

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm sorry...hopefully you will take me back

I've been neglecting this blog. It's not's me. Really. Life in December in this house was a little crazy and I never quite found the time to get to it. I thought I would start back up in the new year all refreshed with lots of time but so far life hasn't co-operated. But enough excuses, I'm back and hopefully will be better at keeping up with this because I do really enjoy it!

Christmas around here was an exciting one. Our little one is four and he was just about the most excited I've ever seen for Christmas. We started our countdown back in November and there were actual tears shed when it felt like it was just too far away. We have a few traditions around our house that we enjoy over the holidays. We decorate gingerbread houses together and make some cookies for Santa of course! This year we made Santa some squirrel shaped gingerbread. The big guy was pretty impressed with them, said it was a first!

We had Christmas Day dinner here with Ryan's parents and brother and had our second annual pierogi supper. I totally didn't think to take any pictures but we had pierogis (using my modified version of pierogi from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz) with fried onions and cabbage on the side, lots of broccoli (Mac's favourite vegetable might I brag) with two kinds of dipping sauces (sour dill cream and a spicy horseradish dip). We followed it up with homemade ice cream for dessert. Mac went with his favourite of cookie (speculoos) ice cream with two cookies, as did I. The rest were a mix of Mocha Almond Fudge and Cookie both getting rave reviews. Ice cream is kinda my thing now. I keep using Carla Kelly's vanilla base formula to create all kinds of different flavours like most recently Peanut Butter which is crazy delicious especially with a scoop of chocolate!

After Christmas Day, Mac's excitement turned to New Year's Day and counting down to that and also the next time Nana and Papa were coming over for supper! I have never been a big New Years' fan by any means but watching him get all excited about it helped me get into it too. I planned a big meal of homemade Chinese takeout favourites for our New Year's Day supper and even made homemade fortune cookies to finish it off. We had (purchased) spring rolls, fried won tons, fried rice, "beef" and broccoli and veggie stir fry. I was so into the won tons I didn't even eat the spring rolls on my plate which are usually my favourite part. I will admit that two hours later I was sneaking down to the kitchen to find them though...

I also tested throughout the holidays for the different books I'm testing for. Probably not as much as I would have if it weren't so busy I did make Hazelnut Orange Blossom Baklava (which Mac helped me make as the butter guy), Spinach Coriander Roti and Coconut Bean Curry, Drunken Noodle Saga (Pad Kee Mao) and a giant feast of Ethiopian food (all tests for Terry Hope Romero). I also made some excellent spice mixes for Joni's upcoming crafty book as well as some preserves, cookies and muffins all of which have been enjoyed and rarely photographed.


And last but certainly not least...Vegansaurus brought Falachos to my attention courtesy of No Face Plate (truly a food genius and I still want to try the Fawaffles) and sweet damn these are tasty! Mine are not nearly as pretty as theirs and are missing some of what they had but I really wanted to try them out and went with what I had on hand. Mine have curry roasted chickpeas, garlic mayo (Vegenaise with fresh minced garlic and a bit of lemon juice), chopped tomatoes and red onions, tahini sauce (thinned tahini with lemon juice, water, garlic and salt), chopped pickles (made for the best bites) and kalamata olives all on a bed of homemade pita chips with the seasonings suggested in the original recipe. I can't believe I never thought to do this but I know I will be doing it again!

P.S. Ryan and I are both drooling now after writing this and looking at the pictures, thinking about these and wishing this is what is for lunch! And I may have just uttered "I wanna put my face in that!"