Weekly Wednesday Round-Up – Raw Pasta, Pita Pizza, and Whole Foods

I want to start doing a weekly Wednesday roundup of yummy meals I’ve made. Basically anything I’d put in the PPK’s Food Porn section, but doesn’t deserve an entire blog post.

One of my first raw food meals ever (not counting salad)! Spiralized zucchini and rich marinara sauce.
raw pasta

The mini restaurant inside our local Whole Foods has a vegan sandwich! It’s toasted sour dough bread with balsamic tomatoes, arugula, onions, and basil hummus. Served with a side of roasted red skin potatoes.

Whole Foods sandwich

Fried tofu (from Whole Food’s hot bar) and mashed cheezy bacon potatoes.
fried tofu and potatoes

Pita pizza with mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and nutritional yeast.

pita pizza

Veggie stir fry with kale, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms all piled on top of brown rice. rice stir fry

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Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

Dragons, Magic, and (most importantly) Potatoes (Vegan MoFo #16)

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Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret  and Tracy Hickman is a classic fantasy tale and the beginning of a hugely popular book series. As usual, the story begins in an inn. A group of friends, who separated years ago to each follow their own journeys, reunite by the fireside. They are a diverse lot and include a dwarf, half-elf, kender, knight, mage, and warrior. They each tell of the rumors of war they heard during their travels and re-confirm that none have heard any tales of the gods (who disappeared many years earlier) returning to aid the mortals.

But before their reunion can have a happy ending, they are pulled into a fight by defending a foreign barbarian couple at the inn. The couple tells the friends of their magical blue staff and the evil that hunts for it. Soon the corrupted city guard is upon them, and the couple and friends must flee for their lives. This unexpected journey soon takes a turn, as they are informed that they must reach the ancient city of Xak Tsaroth within a few days to receive ‘greatest gift’, which may aid them in the upcoming war between good and evil. The way will be long and perilous for the companions, but the fate of the world is in their hands.

“Xak Tsaroth,” Tanis said. “That is my decision.”

“Is that what the mage advises?” Sturm asked sullenly.

“It is,” Tanis answered, “and I believe his advice is sound. If we do not reach Xak Tsaroth within two days, others will and this ‘great gift’ may be lost forever.”

“The greatest gift!” Tasslehoff said, his eyes shining. “Just think, Flint! Jewels beyond price! Or maybe -“

“A keg of ale and Otik’s fried potatoes,” the dwarf muttered. “And a nice warm fire. But no – Xak Tsaroth!” ” – Dragonlance: The Annotated Chronicles (paperback) page 145

I’ve always thought that Otik’s fried potatoes (which were served at the Inn from the beginning of the story) sounded delicious, so it was the first dish I thought of when writing about Dragonlance. I got the recipe off of Dragonlance Nexus, an awesome fan website with multiple DL based recipes. The potatoes were perfectly crispy and spicy on the outside, while being soft and buttery on the inside. Just as delicious as I imagined.

otik's potatoes

Post-Apocalyptic Potatoes (Vegan MoFo #12)

mofo banner city-of-ember-book-coverDystopian societies are one of my favorite book themes, and City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau definitely fits into that category. The people of Ember live entirely underground. The Builders, who created the city years ago to save the human race from the apocalypse, made sure the people had everything they needed to live.  Ember thrived for a while, but now things seem to be taking a turn for the worst. The city is running low on stored food, new crops, and electricity. Two teens, Doon and Lina, then discover a piece of ancient parchment from a former mayor of the city, which may reveal a way out of Ember and a chance for survival. Will these two teenagers be able to decipher the words of the past and save the people of Ember, or will their underground haven turn into a tomb?

“What is it?” asked Lina. Clary had a habit of answering questions in the briefest possible way. You had to keep asking and asking before she would believe you really wanted to know and weren’t just being polite. Then she would explain, and you could see how much she knew, and how much she loved her work.

“I’ll show you,” she said. She led the way to a bed where the green leaves were spotted with black. “A new disease. I haven’t seen it before. When you dig up the potatoes, they’re runny inside instead of hard, and they stink. I’m going to have to throw out all the ones in this bed. There are only a few beds left that aren’t infected.”

Most people in Ember had potatoes at every meal – mashed, boiled, stewed, roasted. They’d had fried potatoes, too, in the days before the cooking oil ran out.

“I’d hate it if we couldn’t have potatoes anymore,” Lina said.

“I would, too,” said Clary.” – City of Ember (paperback) page 61

I think that I could definitely live in the City of Ember because I love potatoes. But almost any potato dish I make is also going to have some amount of oil in it. So going oil-free for this dish, since Ember has run out of cooking oil, was a new experience for me.

I used Gluten Free Vegan Girl’s recipe and these were surprisingly good. Except they were a little less crispy than recipes that use oil, more similar to a boiled or baked potato. But still delicious with a side of ketchup! I meant to take pictures of the potatoes (even though they weren’t all that pretty), but somehow managed to forget. So just invision some crescent-shaped potatoes covered with herbs. 😀

Summer Food Lovin’

Summer is upon us! So now is the time to be free and spend my days cooking, baking, crafting, blogging, and playing with my new kitten (who shall get his own post later).

I moved out from the dorms and into a lovely apartment with my friend, Ryan. We have a nice kitchen with plenty of space, and I plan on trying at least one new recipe a week over the summer break. This should give me plenty to blog about and, hopefully, add a few good recipes to my repertoire.

Below are the meals I’ve made from the last two weeks of school up until I moved into the apartment (except the last one).

Chilled rice salad made with brown rice, corn, carrots, tomatoes, and water chestnuts, all tossed in an olive oil and vinegar dressing and placed on top of mixed greens.
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Spaghetti with “meaty” marinara sauce, and a side salad.
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Slow cooker refried beans. Not particularly pretty, but delicious and much cheaper and healthier than the store-bought canned kind.
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Homemade salsa verde made by blending tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic in the food processor. ???????????????????????????????Soft tacos with black beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and salsa.

???????????????????????????????Homemade chick’n seitan patty with ketchup, a side salad, and Spanish rice.

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And now I bestow upon you, my faithful readers, the most delicious vegan mac and cheese in existence. I tried the recipe on a whim, but this butternut squash mac and cheese is totally amazing. A lot of vegan cheese sauces are close, yet not exactly what I remember mac and cheese to taste like. But this recipe is so creamy and cheesy tasting, I bet you could even trick an omnivore. It reminds me of the Cracker Barrel mac and cheese I loved during my pre-vegan youth.
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Veggie salad with saffron couscous.???????????????????????????????One of the first meals I made in my new kitchen was seitan tetrazzini, mashed potatoes and squash, and fresh corn on the cob (take note of the awesome pig corn holders). I changed the tetrazzini recipe by adding an onion, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, and using Morningstar chick’n meal starter strips instead of seitan. It was good, but a bit dry after baking it. Next time I’ll probably skip baking it and just broil the Daiya on top.

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The Day of the Disappointing Potatoes.. And Some Zombies

There nothing quite as disappointing as a bad recipe. It’s one of those where when you see the recipe you think “That sounds like it would be fantastic!” and it turns out soggy, flavorless, or whatever else will throw off the entire dish. That is what happened to me today. Look at the meal below:

It looks yummy, right? Well I’ll admit, the slices of Tofurky roast were good, but the potatoes were quite nasty. It was the potatoes gruyere recipe from Vegan Vittles, it’s supposed to be similar to an au gratin potato casserole but was nothing of the sort. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vegan Vittles, but this combo of potatoes, silken tofu, cashews, and nutritional yeast turned into a soggy flavorless mess. Guess I’ll have to put a red X next to this one in the book.

On a better note, I noticed a funny vegan reference at the local Decatur comic book shop:

Look, a vegan zombie! I found this on one of the comic shop’s little signs they put up every week to show which comics have been newly released.

And on a final note, my boyfriend, Peter, has started a new writing blog. It’s called The Daily Pen. He’s a great writer and I think you should check it out. He’ll be posting short stories, poems, chapters on his novel works, and just about anything else his pen gets to working on.

Eating Out and Party Food

Thursday night my mother and I had a girls’ night out. We went to the movies to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and for dinner we went to Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Though there was only one vegan option (besides salad, of course) it was very tasty so I didn’t feel left out. I got the Penne Franco (without cheese) and it was simply divine. Penne pasta tossed in roasted garlic olive oil and freshly chopped basil. It was mixed in with roasted mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, black olives, and artichoke hearts.  Yum, yum.

Saturday was my Sunday school group’s Christmas party. Everyone brought finger foods and I made these lovely double stuffed potatoes to share. The recipe is here on VegWeb. I left out the Tofutti cheez and the white and green onions, but these were still very delicious. Cheezy with a hint of spice from the hot sauce mixed in. Definitely try this recipe if you haven’t already.