Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vegan BBQ Pulled "Pork" Sandwiches - Say What!?

I had never heard of Jackfruit until this whole vegan adventure began. The little vegan restaurant I've been obsessing about uses it in a million different ways. They have "fish" tacos, chalupas, and recently added reuban and bbq sandwiches. I tried the reuban the last time, and whoa! The jackfruit looked freakily like meat. I have yet to try the bbq sandwich, but couldn't stop thinking about it, so I decided to make it at home. Since I had never heard of jackfruit, I had to figure out where in the world to buy it. Turns out you can buy it at the Asian grocery store (like you can find all other obscure and strange vegan ingredients.) Whole Foods sometimes has it fresh (I called to see), but they didn't have any. Jackfruit when it is unripe or green, can be used in savory dishes. Make sure if you buy it for something like this, it isn't the ripened version which is sweet. Jackfruit is reminicent of hearts of palm or artichokes if you've never had it, but it makes a nice medium for a sandwich. It's doesn't necessarily have the texture of meat, but man does it look like it. Freaakkky!

This is my attempt at making a bbq sauce. I have no idea why on earth I used this many ingredients! You could probably use all bottled sauce or omit half of these ingredients with the same results. They just all sounded good as I was grabbing stuff. I used what I call my "magic pot" (because everything goes in and comes back out incredibly delicious), or in other words, my little Le Creuset dutch oven. I prefer to use the oven rather than a crock pot on most occasions, but I'm guessing a crock pot would work nicely if you have a small one. Forgive the bad picture. I only had a cell phone available. Can someone on earth tell me where my camera battery charger went before I go bonkers?

Vegan Pulled "Pork" Sandwiches
½ Red Onion, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
1/2 Jalapeno,  finely chopped (seeds removed)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T. tomato paste
1 t. Molasses
¼ C. Vegan BBQ Sauce
½ C. Tomato Sauce 
½ t. Garlic Powder
1 T. Tamari or Shoyu
1 T. Vegan Worcestershire 
1/2 t. Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 C. Veg Broth 
¼ t  Liquid Smoke 
¼ t. Ginger, grated on a microplane
1 - 20 can of Jackfruit in brine or water, drained and squeezed of extra water
Whole Wheat Buns
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients except broth to small dutch oven. Heat until boiling, and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broth and stir to combine. Add jackfruit and stir. Cook in oven for 1 hour. Once removed, shred jackfruit with a fork. Serve with toasted buns. Enjoy!

PS. I got my first set of Fiesta dishes from my mom for my birthday. Aren't they cute? :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Mother Of All Vegan Wraps

Ok truly, this was the best wrap ever. The little local vegan restaurant I keep raving about here in KC has a portobello wrap that we adore. They use all the fabulous local veggies they can get their hands on. The chef is incredibly creative. And because I can't afford to go there every day of my life like I want, I went to the farmer's market. This week I bought a little bit of just about everything. I think that I was in a bit of a veggie rut, buying the same stuff over and over again. Not this week I say! This wrap had portobellos, summer squash, red peppers, eggplant, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, pumpkin greens, red onion, and garlic to boot (and probably other stuff I'm not remembering.) All I added was salt and pepper. I decided to leave all this beautiful vegetation to taste just like it tastes without me messing with it too much. Sometimes vegetables in all their vegtable-y goodness are strikingly delicious all on their own. I thinned a little vegan sour cream with lemon juice, and zig-zagged a little on just for looks mostly. This is the natural "Airborne" (that icky vitamin mixture we drink to not get sick). Surely the vitamins in this wrap would kick any would-be sicky germ's butt. I feel so good after eating stuff like this. Yummmmmmmm :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweet Silas!

Today my baby turns five. I can't believe these years have passed so quickly. He's my little apprentice, always willing to help me pour this or that in the bowl, or sprinkle a dash of this or that here and there. What a precious little guy. His request for his birthday treat was for chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I wish I could have gotten a picture of what he looked like after gobbling up his cupcake. So precious. Happy Birthday little guy :)

Oh by the way, these are (you guessed it) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I've decided that no matter what kind of cupcake recipe you're using, 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to bake the perfect cupcake. A few minutes over, and you've got dry cupcakes IMO. This cookbook usually recommends 18 minutes, but I think they're just right taken out a few minutes before. These definitely got 2 thumbs up from the birthday boy.

Nate's Two Cents: I'd like to brag about my son's unbearable cuteness, but I can only take half the credit for that.  I do know that he has great taste in desserts.  And he seems to prefer almond/soy milk over cow milk, so he's much more likely than his brother to go the vegan route...And on that note, by the way, this vegan diet is amazing.  I would never have imagined before that I could eat this much and not only not gain weight, but actually lose weight (about 17 lbs, for anyone who cares).  I mean honestly, I gorge on different combos of grains, fruits, and veggies until I don't think my stomach can hold another ounce...and somehow the next morning the scale shows no damage.  And thanks to Tara's culinary wizardry, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing taste to eat well.  Anyway the cupcakes: awesome.  Chocolatey, moist, perfect texture, and really beautiful.  Probably going to have a couple more before this night is over, come to think of it...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower and Wilted Spinach Salad - Vegan Yum Yum

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I drop off my youngest kiddo for preschool. I only have one more year left with my little guy at home which is totally sad (I will most certainly cry like a baby when he goes to kindergarten), but I've been making use of the time. I should be working, but since I'm only a few weeks into the school year I'm trying to have a little fun before I get back to work. Today for lunch I made Vegan Yum Yum's Roasted Cauliflower and Wilted Spinach Salad. Yum! This is a pretty easy recipe, that had great payoff. All you do is drizzle cauliflower with olive oil, and roast for about 20 minutes, boil up some whole wheat pasta  (in the meantime), cut up a few sun dried tomatoes. Throw it all on top of a few big handfuls of spinach. Drizzle a tablespoon or two (for good measure) of balsamic vinegar (a bit of salt and pepper of course), and voila! The only problem with this meal was that after I had the bowl you see above, I went to pack away the leftovers and dropped it (PLOP) right on the floor, everywhere. BLAH! I found out that my dog likes cauliflower. Who'da thunk it?! Well, you won't hear Nate's 2 cents about this meal, but at least this is proof I actually made it. I'm drowning my sorrows in cupcakes (they are baking as I type.) I'll try this recipe again. Quite delish and super healthy :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pumpkin and Chocolate....Oh My!

It is the most glorious September day here in Kansas City. The humidity of summer has already passed, so I'm breaking out the flavors of fall. Yes, I'm making more cupcakes, and still not losing that last 10 pounds.  But, at least I'm still cuter 20 pounds lighter, and a girl needs a cupcake. I think cupcakes are on par with twirly dresses and scalloped awnings, and just absolutely necessary for true girlishness. Anyway, this is the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (I'm obsessed with it obviously. Seriously, buy it.) I didn't think I'd like pumpkin and chocolate, and almost omitted the chips. I trust this cookbook however, and wanted to try it as is. It was a nice combo. The icing tied the flavors together beautifully. I have to say the Cinnamon Icing is to die for. I think cinnamon rolls are most definitely in my future with this icing slathered all over them. Fun, fun! I love to cook with all my little cupcake loving heart :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Vegan Who Doesn't Love Tofu?

Since this whole vegan journey began, I have kept tubs of tofu in the fridge ready to be cooked or thrown into this or that. More often than not, I happen across it in the fridge and realize the expiration date is long past due. Dare I say, I don't love Tofu? Is that a sin in this new vegan world I'm living in? I like it kind of, but after two or three bites, I'm tofu-ed out. I mean this looks good right? There is nothing wrong with this recipe at all. It was a sweet and sour recipe I found. The tofu was coated dipped and coated in corn starch and sautéed, so it had a nice crisp. The sauce was yummy as well, but hmmm.....Tofu. Why don't I love it?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mom Knows Best - Vegan Banana Bread

My mom is a fantastic cook, and seriously makes the best banana bread on earth! Every time I have made her recipe and shared it, people have gone on and on about how wonderful it is (and they are right!) This is banana bread at its best. It may be more classified as a cake because it's that good. This is my second try making this vegan style. The first time I used Ener-G, and found that I really didn't like it at all in this recipe. It got all grainy. I know this recipe well, and it just didn't taste the same at all with an egg replacer. Fortunately bananas work well as a binder on their own, and because this recipe already has a bunch of banana, adding 1 extra to make up for the eggs doesn't mess with the flavor. This recipe makes 2 loaf pans of bread. I have no idea why, but I don't have loaf pans. They were swallowed up by the loaf pan monster or something. Instead I use 2 - 8 inch cake pans which works beautifully, or this recipe could make 20-24 muffins. It can be easily halfed if you prefer. I like having an extra pan to share :)

Best Vegan Banana Bread...Ever

2 C. Sugar
1 C. Earth Balance Butter
7 Ripe Bananas
2 1/2 C. White Whole Wheat Flour
1 t. Salt
2 t. Soda

1 c. Chopped Pecans or Blueberries (My mom uses either of these or none at all.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash Bananas, and set aside. I usually just mix them on high in my stand mixer. Cream Sugar and butter until fluffy. Add banana and combine. In a separate bowl sift flour, salt and soda. Add to banana mixture. If using loaf pans, bake for 1 hour. For muffins bake about 20-25 minutes. I hope you love this as much as I do :)

Nate's Two Cents:  I think I'd be stretching the truth to call this a guilt-free pleasure, but it's a little less guilty without the cholesterol of its non-vegan predecessor (the original Arial Banana Bread).  And it's loaded with actual bananas, which means something to a society that buys things made to taste like fruit even when eating an actual fruit would be simpler. I'm looking at you, Jello.  I just remind myself every time I eat Tara's banana bread that it's loaded with potassium.  I have good joints already, but still, it can't hurt.  And it's delicious.