Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nice food, naughty food

So in the past couple of days I have not baked as much as I thought I would, though I still have some things planned which I will (I hope) get to today. But I have baked some goodies. Thankfully, I have also cooked some real meals so that we're not just constantly snacking on the sweet stuff!

First up, Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies from Vive Le Vegan! I made these as a gift for Bob's grandmother, who was kind enough to take us to lunch at the all-vegetarian Bluebird Cafe earlier this week (where I had one of the best veggie burgers I've ever tasted). If you have never tried these cookies, I really suggest that you do it soon, because they are so delicious. All the chocolate makes them taste really special. And I definitely recommend that you add the optional almond extract, if you can. I will be making another batch of these today--my parents would definitely appreciate this cookie, and I want to have plenty of goodies to share with them when we leave Friday to visit them.

Also on the baking front, I made Fatfree Vegan's recipe for Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread. This recipe is actually kind of special to me because it is the first recipe that I ever made that was purposefully vegan--I tried it waaay back in the spring, when I was just becoming vegan-curious (as I like to say), and Bob and I were just amazed at how tasty it was. A couple of days ago, when I realized I had three nearly black bananas sitting on the counter, I remembered that this recipe required three overripe bananas, and I needed no other reason to make this bread again. The bites of dried cherry are so sweet (even if you search high and low and get unsweetened dried cherries, as I did)--a nice contrast with the body of the bread, which is sweet but not overly sweet. The only thing I wish is that I had miniature loaf pans to bake these in--what a cute presentation for gift baskets! As it is, I will have to just share it in slices. Still not a bad arrangement.

As for more holiday baking, here is what I have planned.

1) Another batch of the Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies.
2) A batch of my favorite gingerbread cookies.
3) Some chocolate peppermint cookies that I found here (scroll down).
4) Some truffles akin to those that Urban Vegan posted about--if I can find a suitable recipe. These will be a gift for Bob's aunt. (Please, Bob's aunt, don't be reading this right now!)
5) This is ambitious, but if I have time I would really like to make a gingerbread loaf. I have not decided on a recipe to use yet.

Wow, even just thinking about all those sweets makes me crave nutritious food! Here is what I have made:

Lasagna that was based on another Fatfree Vegan recipe. I like to start with her recipe and then just do what I want with it. For example, I usually add a bit of lemon juice to the tofu "ricotta" mixture to give it a little tang. Also, in this particular instance I left the mushrooms out because I just don't often keep fresh mushrooms on hand unless I have something in mind for them already. I use whole wheat lasagna noodles--and the first time I made this, I was certainly a little skeptical about not cooking the noodles beforehand, but they truly do cook up just fine while the lasagna is in the oven. I sprinkled the top with Italian herbs and a couple tablespoons of Dragonfly's Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix (which I always seem to have on hand).

I made my own sauce for the lasagna, just by first sautéeing a chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic in just a touch of olive oil (a teaspoon?), then adding 2 cans (the 29-ounce size) of crushed tomatoes and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of herbs--I used an Italian seasoning blend that contains basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and granulated garlic. We had steamed broccoli to accompany the lasagna, and it was a great meal--a good thing too, since the two of us get about four servings each from a pan of lasagna!

Lastly, a very simple, staple meal that is almost not blogworthy, but I will share it anyway. Bob grew up eating beans and rice very often, and he loves it. In fact, I recently asked him if there was anything he would like for me to cook that I don't really cook that often, and he immediately said he wanted more beans and rice--not even soups and stews and chili, just beans and rice.
That is fine with me--I love beans and rice too, and it is definitely a cheap way to eat. So last night we had pinto beans, brown rice, and garlicky kale for dinner. We both prefer black beans, but I had these pinto beans that needed a use. They just went into the crockpot for about eight hours, along with an onion, 3 cloves of garlic, some cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, sea salt, dried basil, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and lots of water. This made plenty to freeze as well, and I will certainly freeze a lot of it, since we're leaving Friday and will not be home until after Christmas.

I have been enjoying all of your blogs recently! I know everyone is busy this time of year, and I hope that you are all enjoying yourselves and your families. That's all for now--have a blessed day!


Vivacious Vegan said...

You've been really busy!! I love what you've been cooking. It all looks terrific. If you're looking for truffles - check out my blog. I just posted a recipe. They were really easy, and only use 4 ingredients (3 if you use water instead of the coconut milk). So decadent! :-)

aTxVegn said...

Hi, Laura! Your treats look wonderful. I esp. like the looks of the bread. I absolutely LOVE dried sour cherries and I think they are just as festive as pumpkin and cranberries. I printed off your gingerbread cookies recipe and hope I get a chance to make them.

Around here we call rice, beans, and greens a Peasant's Meal. I eat that meal quite often too and always say I should eat like that more often.

The lasagna looks really great too!

Johanna3 said...

yum, amazing post, your food looks very good!

Happy Holidays!

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

so funny, 'm making those cookies for gifts today! hope mine look even half as delectable as yours. yum!

everything looks wonderful, as usual. and you should never feel bad about posting beans and greens, i believe none of us eat them enough and your picture looks so vibrant, fresh, and delicious!

Anonymous said...

I'm a newly reintroduced whole vegetarian (not sure I'm really vegan 'cause I do wear leather but I believe in protecting the planet that God has given us in stewardship). I clicked on the picture of the banana bread to access the recipe. WOW! Instead in blew up the picture! It looks sooo lucious that my mouth is watering -- and I just finished breakfast! Needless to say I'm making this one soon!!

Thank you for your site. Great comments and information. I'm happy to find another child of God who loves His creation.


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