Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oh hi, I still exist

Well, this is embarrassing. I had this successful blog, and people read it, and we all ate deliciously and healthfully. Then I dropped the ball and now I have flax-egg replacement on my face. Rather than making excuses, here is a real quick rundown of the last… year…s?

I traveled around the world:

around the world

I attended a wedding in India of a dear friend:

Wedding

I moved in with the love of my life:

alex and i

My posse of niece and nephews grew:

kids

And then I got ENGAGED to the love of my life:

facebook engaged

And then we traveled the world again:

ThailandAnd finally, as you may know, I have been lucky enough to share my life with two furry critters for the last few years. They were who got me out of bed in the morning and who inspired me to be my best. I have learned some of my most important lessons with my babies and they have been instrumental in helping me figure out where my strengths and priorities are. It is now with great sadness that I share that I have lost them at ripe old rattie ages recently. However, I will never lose that which they helped me gain and it is because of them that I may have and enjoy this next stage of my life as we build our new family. More on this later though…

Bianca collage

A lot more has happened, but this will be a good primer as I ramp this back up. I have grown an unimaginable amount since we last chatted, and I look forward to sharing this you. So pull up a yoga mat, put on some tea, and check all stories and expectations at the door.

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New Year, New Blog

I am the worst. I know. Not even going to make an excuse.

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Ok, maybe a little excuse. I bought veggiewithacause.com, and my lovely SO has been kindly helping me move my blog over there. Hence this staging environment. He told me to make it aesthetically how I wanted, and then he would do the magic internets stuff. So that is where that is. Please let me know what you think of this design! Stay tuned!

Another little excuse, or perhaps pity party I am going to invite you to… is that I have had quite a run disappointing meals. A combination of uninspired, not particularly photo worthy dishes, and with the sun setting before I leave lab has made it tricky.

But these are all excuses, I know. And I want to kick off 2013 with a delicacy that I was quite smitten with. On the day of New Years Eve, the boy suggested we have ourselves a little tea party. And what is a tea party without a proper tea set, petit fours, and finger sandwiches?! No tea party that I want to take part in. I started a few days in advance on the petit fours, since they turned out to be pretty labor intensive… but TOTALLY worth it. I’m not sure I have ever been so proud of something that I have made. They were just perfect. With those in tow, we set out the morning of New Years Eve to buy a tea set, and walked away with an adorable cast iron teapot and cups that looked good for temperature control. One more stop at the grocery store for finger sandwich ingredients, and we were on our way! Our little tea party went swimmingly. My fingers were the appropriate temperature the whole time and our cups didn’t conduct heat in such a way that burned our fingers one bit. Nope, went just how we planned and it was exactly what we wanted.

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All of that being said, let’s get down to business. I will put it out there up front that these are labor intensive, but I promise you get each ounce of sweat back in pleasure upon seeing and tasting the finished product. And my oh my are they delicious and sinfully decant. Without really being sinful at all, as they are completely vegan! They are tiny little bundles of joy (I know, most people feel this way about kids… I feel this way about little cakes, no big).  And I love them.

To the recipe!

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Petit Fours

Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

Materials:

For the Cake

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 ¼cups AP flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons earth balance
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 whole lemon

For the Filling

  • 1 cup raspberry jam, warmed (I literally microwaved a car of smuckers)

For the Glaze

  • 8 oz vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoons corn syrup
  • ½ cup coconut oil

Methods:

To make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12 x 17 jelly roll pan liberally.
  2. Sift together all of the dry ingredients (this is important as you want a light cake with a tight crumb).
  3. In a stand-up mixer, add in earth balance, lemon juice, and water and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for 1 to 2 more minutes.
  5. Pour batter into jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and the top springs back when you touch it.
  6. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to cooling rack.

For the layering

  1. Cut off the crispy edges of the cake carefully using a serrated knife.
  2. Cut the cake into four quarters.
  3. Cut each quarter in half horizontally using a serrated knife and taking long slow strokes to ensure you are keeping the knife level and evenly cutting it in half.
    • You should now have 8 even layers, each the size of a quarter of the cake.
  4. Take one layer and carefully spread on jam such that it is lightly and evenly coated and you can still see the cake peaking through.
  5. Top with another layer and repeat the jam application two more times.
  6. Top off with one final layer, so that you know have 4 layers of cake with 3 layers of jam.
  7. Repeat process with remaining layers of cake. You should now have 2 stacks about 1 ½ inches high, each the size of 1 quarter of the original cake and each with 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of jam (2 stacks x 4 layers = all original 8 layers are accounted for! Hooray math!)
  8. Carefully wrap each stack in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

To transform them into petit fours

  1. Get your stacks out of the fridge.
  2. Measure a 1 ½ inch grid on the surface of each stack using a ruler(you should get 12 squares out of each stack and you will probably have to trim the sides a bit to make the stack exactly 4.5 inches across and 6 inches lengthwise).
  3. Cut the stack along those grid lines using your trusty serrated knife so that you have 24 total perfect 1 ½ inch cubes of layered caked.
  4. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil over the double boiler.
  5. Add corn syrup and stir until melted and blended.
  6. Set up your dipping stations:
    • Bowl with melted chocolate
    • Cooling rack with newspaper underneath
  7. Now, carefully dip each cube into the melted chocolate, side-by-side and finishing with the top, and then set onto cooling rack, with newspaper underneath to catch the dripping chocolate.
  8. Place in refridgerator to allow chocolate glaze to harden.
  9. Enjoy! I enjoyed mine with some green tea, tea cups that burned my fingers, and the best of company :-). DSC_0575

Getting with the Times

I am trying to get with the twitter and youtubes. Today’s 21st century social media device I tackled is The Facebook. Oh, did I just date myself by calling it THE facebook? Oops.

Anyways, please head over to Facebook to like Veggie with a Cause’s new facebook page!

http://www.facebook.com/VeggieWithACause

Also, I know these pictures aren’t the best… or really very good at all, but I thought you should know that this happened in my kitchen the other night:

I recently acquired Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and wanted to try all of the recipes ASAP, so I started with testing out S’Mores, Coconut Lime, and Peanut Butter… all in one night. Let’s just say my roommates were not upset. Ok, R did get a little ornery when I didn’t bake cupcakes every night this week. So demanding!

We are hosting a BBQ at our house on Sunday, for which I will be making bigger batches of these bad larries, so expect the recipes then. And perhaps some other delicacies that we treat our guests with…. until then, ci vediamo presto! And don’t forget to like my facebook page!

I eat barbecue sauce with a spoon.

Really. It’s a problem.

People usually can’t wrap their mind around a vegetarian with such an obsession with barbecue sauce, but alas, you are reading the words of (and then hopefully making the food from) one. I can’t even tell you what it is that I love about it. Everything, maybe? I’m not super picky… if the label even hints that it is barbecue sauce, then get me a spoon. Stat. Lest I use my hands.

And I suppose eating sauce from the jar with my hands is probably not lady like (who is this girl?!).

Luckily, I had some tofu sliced up and ready to go when I grabbed the barbecue sauce this weekend.

I also had some tomatoes roasting in the oven, and some leeks sliced up… and some grits cooking. I didn’t have much of a plan, but this dish came together SO nicely! It was the perfect Sunday night dinner after spending the day planting a garden on my balcony.

I’ve one to Scarborough Fair….Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

The BBQ tofu is simple and classic, and the grits are there to catch any stray barbecue sauce. The caramelized leeks on top give it a nice crunch, and the tomatoes daintily sit atop every bite, doling out their burst of sweetness. Also, you can make all the components at the same time… so even though it seems complex, it really is still a 30 minute meal. Huzzah!

BBQ Tofu 
with Grits, Roasted Tomatoes, and Caramelized Leeks

 
Materials:
  • Olive oil
  • 4 campari tomatoes, halved with seeds removed (or whatever you have)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grits
  • 1/4 soy milk
  • 1 leek, sliced and cleaned
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Methods:
For the tomatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Place the tomato halves on a lined baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of salt, and place in the oven for roughly 30 minutes.
For the grits
  1. Bring the water to a boil in small sauce pan.
  2. Add the grits, return to a boil, and then turn down to very low.
  3. Cook covered, with frequent stirring, for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the soy milk, and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
For the leeks
  1. While the grits are cooking, heat up some olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add the leeks.
  2. Sprinkle the leeks with salt, and then cook over low for about 20 minutes, until tender.
For the tofu
  1. Heat up some olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the tofu and allow to sear for about 7 minutes per side.
  3. Pour in the barbecue sauce, making sure each piece is nicely coated.
  4. Cook for additional 5 minutes.

 

Fresh asparagus soup

I’m going to go ahead and address the elephant in the room right at the beginning: asparagus makes your pee smell. There, I said it. Let’s also address the fact that sometimes you can just look at asparagus and it makes your pee smell. Asparagus is that good.

Ah hem, moving on. Another thing great about asparagus is that it is a good source of folate (in addition to other good stuff), which is awesome, because our bodies can’t produce it. Thanks, asparagus!

My mom sent me this recipe for asparagus soup that she came across and it has all sorts of ingredients that I like to cook with (ginger, for example). And with perfect timing, since asparagus is beginning to flood the farmers markets here! So I quickly picked up a bunch and ran home, as I had all of the other ingredients on hand (as my smart mama knew I would :-)).

This asparagus soup has a bit of a thai twist to it. It is super light and down right decadent at the same time. Rich from the coconut milk, bright from the ginger, and then all that asparagusy goodness…. YUM. I made a big batch, and then ate this soup for a week. I got my grub on, but didn’t pig out. In the words of Ice Cube, today was a good day.

I should also mention that this soup was SOUPER filling (get it? You can add that to your list of funny things I have said). But for reals, it was. This is also a great “learning to love” recipe for any asparagus haters you may know.

Thai Asparagus Soup
Adapted from Eating Well
Materials:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups red potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Methods:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add the onion and a shake of salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the curry powder, ginger, lemon zest, and potatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, coconut milk, and asparagus.
  5. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and cook for about 15 minutes. 
  6. Add the lemon juice and transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender and blend until nice and creamy.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Enjoy!

Fancy pants salsa

One fateful evening a few weeks ago, I found in my possession the following: a pineapple, some tomatillos, and a red onion. I had some forbidden black rice risotto bubbling on the stove… and something told me to put salsa on my risotto? (And she calls herself a cook?!) I don’t have much of an explanation for that. But the ending of that story? It was delicious! I whipped up this caramelized pineapple and tomatillo salsa for the first time, and it is definitely going to be a staple in my repertoire, and I have already made it a few times since.

I had a department formal event this past Friday, and I thought this grown-up salsa would be a nice addition. Turns out everyone in attendance agreed.

Now the salsa. When little M’s boyfriend, chef P, was here in the fall, he made this grilled pineapple. And ever since I have been wanting to so something savory with pineapple, extra points if it involved broiling/grilling. Well since I was making up this salsa, I decided it was going to be caramelized pineapple and tomatillo salsa. So there.

Broiling the pineapple caramelizes the sugar on the outside and gives it this awesome flavor, and with a salsa verde backdrop? This one is a winner. It hits legit ever major delicious taste group: It has some spice from the jalapeño, some zip from the lime, some sweet from the pineapple, some tart from the tomatillo, and cooled down by cilantro. I dunno about you reading this, but as I am typing this… I am pretty convinced.

I’m also pretty sure it is entirely acceptable to eat a bowl of this for a meal. I mean, the ingredients are 100% fruits and vegetables. As an aside, sitting on the floor and eating entire jars of salsa/bags of tostitos with my roommate is one of my favorite memories from college.

Caramelized Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa

Materials:

  • 1 pineapple 
  • 1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and halved
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, finely minced
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • salt and pepper

Methods:

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Break down the pineapple, and then slice thinly such that you have thin slabs of pineapple.
  3. Toss pineapple slabs and tomatillo halves in a drizzle of olive oil and lightly salt.
  4. Spread out on cookie tray and place under broiler.
  5. Broil for 5-10 minutes, or until the tomatillos are roasted and the pineapple is caramelized.
  6. Keep an eye on them! The tomatillos will brown first, so take them out then.
  7. In the meantime, chop up and combine all of the other ingredients. 
  8. Once cooled, quickly pulse the tomatillos in the blender until it has a salsa verde consistency.
  9. Finely dice the caramelized pineapple.
  10. Combine all ingredients, and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  11. Enjoy with some hint of lime tostitos :-)!

I just had my nails done, so they had to make their way into a photo :-).

In praise of roasted vegetables

It doesn’t get much better than simply roasted vegetables. It concentrates their flavor, doesn’t take much technique… and is a good way to use what you have in your refrigerator/cabinet. I mean, roasted vegetables usually consists of doing some rough chopping of whatever strikes your fancy, drizzling on some olive oil or simple marinade… and popping it in the oven for a few, during which time you can go do something else. Or just sit and enjoy how good it smells.

The day that I made these veggies, I had gone out to pizza for lunch. And I ate an entire pizza. Whole. Much like an anaconda would eat a baby elephant. For dinner that night I wanted something light that packed a mean vegetable punch. I had broccolini, I had bok choy, and I had leeks. All of which were ready to get in my belly.

Well not before tossing them in a DELICIOUS sweet/sour/tangy/savory/amazing marinade of sorts and letting them spend a few minutes in the oven.

What started out as a quick weeknight dinner, turned into what I think will be how I roast all of my vegetables from now on. This recipe is honestly amenable to whatever veggies you may find in your crisper, so while I am going to write out the recipe as I made it, feel free to do it with whatever.

Roasted Vegetables
Materials:

  • 1 bunch of broccolini
  • 1 leek
  • 1 large head of baby bok choy
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and pepper

Methods:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Give all of the vegetables a rough chop into bite size pieces.
  3. Toss with olive oil, vinegar, and syrup.
  4. Give a couple shakes of salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spread out in single layer in roasting pan.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  7. Enjoy!