vegan recipes

Vegan: It’s what’s for breakfast – "real" cinnamon rolls

This is going to be a pretty lousy food post, since I don’t have any pictures to show for my wife’s culinary adventure. Yup, she picked up my slack.

I’ve been wanting to make cinnamon rolls for weeks, but I have been so busy (and I have a really hard time waking up early on weekends… or any day, for that matter), so Dr. Prescott took it upon herself to make this happen for us. The results weren’t as photogenic as the pictures in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking, but they looked very similar. My iPhone simply isn’t a good substitute for a real camera with the lighting in our apartment, and my other camera, as mentioned previously, is dying a sad death.

But, man… Oh, man. Up until recently, I had not eaten a vegan cinnamon roll that tasted anything like the cinnamon rolls I remember from Cinnabon, et al. Certainly there are plenty of other vegan goodies to distract me. Far too many, really. I’ve managed to cut back at least a little on indulging my sweet tooth these past couple of months.

But all along, I periodically would try a commercially available vegan cinnamon roll and think to myself, “C’mon. How hard can it be? I mean, really, is it just that the people making these cinnamon rolls have simply never had the good stuff, or are vegan cinnamon rolls doomed to be like vegan “cheese,” a pale imitation of the original recipe?” Okay, my thoughts weren’t that coherent, but they more or less covered the same ground.

Fortunately, I remembered I owned The Joy of Vegan Baking, so I looked up cinnamon rolls. Voila! Colleen never lets me down.

Ironically, I didn’t actually try her recipe, though I’m sure it’s great. Everything I’ve tried from that book has been delicious so far. Fortunately, Colleen is focused on making sure vegan baked goods taste amazing, not on making sure they are made with fruit juices and bran fiber (thank you, Colleen). However, her recipe requires significant dough rising time, which is hard for me to come by, as mentioned above.

My friend, Kristin (who writes a blog called Beans and Greens), let me know about a recipe she modified with great success, and recommended it because it uses instant yeast, saving oodles of time.

However, the recipe Kristin posted called for corn syrup to make the icing. We don’t have corn syrup and we don’t want any. Dr. Prescott had the brilliant idea to combine recipes. We used the instant yeast goodness of Kristin’s find (which still took a while to prep, unfortunately), and iced those rolls with the frosting from Colleen’s book… I tell you, people: They tasted amazing (sugar rush!), so they are worth a little effort, especially if (unlike us) you actually have a rolling pin!

If you want the recipe, visit Kristin’s write-up. She posted enticing pictures to go with it, which more or less represent how ours turned out as well.

Riding your coattails, ladies… Many thanks to both my wife and Kristin for my cinnamon roll heaven this past weekend.

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Vegan: It’s what’s for dinner – "reinventing the quiche"

Here’s a rare post that may not actually turn any of my friends into enemies! (frenemies?)

I’ve been cooking a lot more in recent months, which has been a surprising source of amusement for me, especially since the food continues to turn out miraculously well, despite my complete lack of culinary training. I have to give all the credit to delightful cookbooks like the ones you see on page 2 of the Amazon Widget over in the sidebar (you know, until I redesign the site again).

This evening I made “reinventing the quiche,” from page 144 of The Quick-Fix Vegetarian. It was super-delish, and looked pretty tantalizing out of the oven, too. It’s a shame my Canon PowerShot A75 is dying a sad and ugly death (and so prematurely!), which means this picture does not quite do it justice. I hope you get the idea. I know I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Vegan Veggie Quiche
For dessert: Snickerdoodle Purely Decadent (It’s so new, along with Key Lime Pie, that I can’t even find it on their website!)

I like to hear from you. Comment below or email me.

Enjoy AAFL? Use the permalink icon to share this entry with your friends or to link it from your blog, submit to a service using the share button below, and consider making a small donation to support this site and my work. Thanks!

eat, drink & be vegan

As our vegan cookbook selection expands–for that matter, as the selection of vegan cookbooks on the market expands–my wife and I find ourselves using certain cookbooks more and some less… or not at all. As with vegan restaurants in cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, simply existing isn’t good enough anymore. You’ve got to be good to be competitive. This development is good for consumers and for veganism, since there’s no tolerance for lousy, difficult vegan food when there is plenty of good eating to be had.

eat, drink & be vegan, Dreena Burton’s latest cookbook, tops even her own first two books, The Everyday Vegan and Vive Le Vegan!. Dreena excels at concocting practical recipes that taste satisfying and–oh, by the way–happen to be pretty darn healthy. Bonus!

ED&BV is attractively designed and, like her previous books, focused on the practical, featuring dozens of helpful tips on getting your kitchen equipped (hint: none of these are fancy-schmancy Williams Sonoma items, and will serve you well no matter what book you’re cooking from), food preparation, and cooking and baking notes. Most of the recipes come with helpful tips and recommendations on pairing with other recipes in the book, as well as serving suggestions. Dreena will have you putting meals together like a pro.

While some ingredients may not be available in just any store (quinoa, agave nectar, arrowroot powder, etc.), overall ED&BV is one of the more accessible vegan cookbooks out there. The book doesn’t rely heavily on ingredients like these and, besides, most can be found at Whole Foods Markets, which are more ubiquitous than ever.

What I liked most about the recipes I read through and tried was how healthy the focus was. Dreena keeps it simple and focused on feeding yourself well without too much fuss. Even the sauces and gravies recommended to season things up rely on maple syrup instead of refined sugar, for instance. I feel like I could eat anything from this book and not have to worry that I’m splurging all the time.

My wife and tried a few entrees, including the Quinoa Chickpea Confetti Casserole (p. 140) with Balsamic Maple Sauce (p. 76). All I can say about that sauce is, move over teriyaki! It really made the dish. While the casserole itself is hearty and filling, it was relatively plain, but the recommended sauce knocked it out of the park.

I also really enjoyed the Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Gnocchi (p. 141). We did have one hiccup on this one, as the directions offer a range of 1-3 pounds of squash without adjusting the recipe according to the amount you have on hand. For people as literal as my wife and I, this meant that our 1 pound of squash was slightly overwhelmed by the rest of the recipe, particularly the lemon. However, it was still really good (we used linguine instead of gnocchi), and the Back to Basics Balsamic Vinaigrette (p. 77) we had with our side salad was the best I’ve ever had from a recipe, so I think we’re finally ready to stop buying bottles of dressing.

[UPDATE: Dreena has posted some helpful ED&BV edits to her cooking blog, including an explanation for the squash confusion. The publisher is already getting ready to do a second printing, so future editions will incorporate these corrections.]

ED&BV is definitely another everyday classic. I know my wife and I will be exploring this book from cover to cover for a long time to come, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to develop his or her repertoire of tasty, wholesome dishes you can feel good about, both for the animals and for your health.

With the recent release also of Veganomicon and The Joy of Vegan Baking, 2007 has proven to be a watershed year for vegan cookbooks. And, hey, just in time for the holidays!

Meat: It’s NOT what’s for dinner – Quick-Fix Vegetarian

Building a vegan cookbook library is slow-going if you’re not made out of money and don’t want to be hit with too many recipes to try at once. We have a dozen and a half vegan cookbooks in the AAFL kitchen as it is. [Sidebar: Isn’t this a great problem to have? It’s wonderful that there are so many excellent vegan cookbooks. No excuses! A vegan lifestyle is in easy reach!]

So sometimes I come to the review party a little late. For instance, I only recently discovered the joys of Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet after buying it as a gift for my mom this past Mother’s Day, then caving in and buying one for my wife and myself. That book is huge, but we liked what we’ve tried so far, particularly the fact that so few recipes rely on anything other than whole foods, so it wasn’t long before we took advantage of a gift card balance to save money on Quick-Fix Vegetarian: Healthy Home-Cooked Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (don’t worry about the title — if there’s a non-vegan recipe in this book, I haven’t found it). We have a lot of trouble getting dinner started at a reasonable hour in this household, and prep usually takes longer than recipes specify, so there have been a number of 9 o’clock meals in past weeks. You can imagine how eager we were to get our hands on this book.

We’ve only tried one recipe so far, but it was delicious! Check out the mixed baby greens with pears, pecans and polenta strips on page 64 (but consider cubing the polenta instead). We’ll definitely be having this again, and hopefully this first practice round will make it easier to actually make the dish in 30 minutes or less next time. We’re not pros in the kitchen like my friends over at VeganYumYum and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which explains yet again why I forgot to take a photo!

RECIPE: Tempeh Pasta

I came up with a new recipe of my own this week that I’m absolutely in love with. Nothing like the excitement of discovering a new favorite, especially after throwing it together yourself off the top of your head!

Ingredients

  • 1 package bowtie pasta (I used Whole Foods’ 365 Organic)
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce (I used the organic Seeds of Change Roasted Garlic and Onion 25 oz jar)
  • 1 8 oz cake of tempeh (I used the organic LightLife Organic Flax Tempeh)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted (I bought in bulk)

Preparation

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions

    As the water is boiling (and pasta is cooking):

  • Start warming the pasta sauce over low heat in a sauce pan
  • Slice the tempeh into 1/8″ thick strips
  • Sautee the tempeh until golden brown
  • Cut strips in half for pieces about 1 inch long and set aside
  • Toast pine nuts
  • Once the pasta is fully prepared, top with tempeh, sauce, and pine nuts before serving (I like nutritional yeast on some pasta dishes, but not this one; it was better without)

(Serves 4)

I recommend trying this recipe as close to the original as you can. It was so good. If you can’t find those ingredients, work from there, and certainly always adapt recipes to your taste, but I can’t guarantee that it will be as tasty if you use different products!

Serve hot with a mixed greens salad or side of whatever veggies float your boat (we went the easy road with steamed frozen organic broccoli).

RECIPE: Thai Sesame Noodles

Here’s another household staple (as always, include organic ingredients wherever you can afford to):

Ingredients

Preparation

  • Cook noodles according to package directions
  •  

  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok (or large skillet)
  •  

  • Stir fry garlic & tofu
  •  

  • Toward end, saute broccoli for a couple of minutes (throw in earlier, if frozen)
  •  

  • Add sesame oil, soy sauce, chili sauce and sesame seeds
  •  

  • Mix well, remove from heat
  •  

  • Drain noodles
  •  

  • Toss noodles with stir fry mixture and serve hot

RECIPE: Tempeh Bacon Salad

A personal favorite, I have been known to eat one of these per week.

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-washed package of mixed baby greens
  • 1 package of tempeh bacon
  • Candied pecans/walnuts, or pine nuts (ideally from bulk foods, since they get kind pricey)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (experiment until you find your favorite – mine is the Whole Foods brand, 365)

Prep

  • Place the salad into two large bowls and top with the nuts and cranberries (use however much looks right to you, but don’t go crazy)
  • Slice the tempeh bacon into domino-sized strips
  • Saute the tempeh bacon until thoroughly heated (you can further flavor to taste, if so inclined)
  • Top the salads with tempeh bacon
  • Serve with dressing