Friday, 31 October 2014

Recipe Round-Up: Hearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites

I'll be having a short blogging break after this post, as I am off to Sydney tomorrow to kick off a fabulous holiday of amazing food and gorgeous animals with my awesome friend Leigh. I can't wait! I do have a couple of posts ready to go in drafts, so if I find myself with some downtime and some wifi then I might pop one up, but mostly I will be stuffing my face and hugging all the animals (or worshipping them from a distance, whatever they prefer).

Speaking of epic eating experiences, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites (which has been renamed Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food) is full of rich, tasty, impressive food!

Chocolate Stout Chili and Skillet Cornbread: I don't drink anymore, but even when I did I never drank beer because it is gross. However I have since enjoyed it in cooking, though mostly pale ale style. There is a lot of stout in this recipe, and for me it was too overpowering. I would have liked it better if I had used less stout and made up the volume with stock. The skillet cornbread was a nice accompaniment. I don't have a cast-iron skillet, so I just cooked it in a baking dish. The cornbread is also the basis for a Savoury Cheesecake recipe in the book that I reviewed here.
Rating: Chili :|, Cornbread :)

Chocolate Stout Chili; Skillet Cornbread

Sloppy Jo-nis and corn with Mexican-Style Dipping Sauce for Corn: These TVP-based sandwiches are pretty sloppy indeed, but are pretty yummy. The mixture is quite sweet, so next time I would probably skip the brown sugar. It says that this serves four, but we greedily fit it onto three buns. The sauce for the corn is based on mayo and cream cheese with lime and chili, and goes great with fresh corn on the cob.
Rating: Sloppy Jo-nis :), Sauce :)

Sloppy Jo-nis; corn with Mexican-Style Dipping Sauce for Corn

Barbecue Ribs with Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Hello comfort food. I made a half recipe of the ribs, which was enough to serve four (the book says a full recipe serves six). The mix is very thick and ended up quite doughy, so you need to push it down pretty hard to spread it out. I didn't bother with the 'bones', chopsticks to push through the mixture. After baking I basted the ribs with extra BBQ sauce and pan fried to brown up. The ribs use a homemade Whiskey Barbecue Sauce, which is fairly sweet. The potatoes are amazing! The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup of butter, but I decreased these a little bit and the taste was still amazing. Nooch gives cheesiness.
Rating: Ribs :), BBQ Sauce :), Potatoes :D

Barbecue Ribs; Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Orange Seitan Stew: This stew takes a long, slow simmer on the stove to get where it is going. Fresh OJ and red wine give a lovely flavour, and it is filled with carrots, garlic, potatoes and seitan. I just left out the capsicum. I needed to add an extra cup of broth in the last 20 minutes as it was getting a bit thick. I also added about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce towards the end as it was a bit sweet for my tastes. This makes big servings.
Rating: :)

Orange Seitan Stew

Stew-Tatouille: I always have to change up ratatouille recipes to swap out the capsicum for something else, in this case I used some cremini mushrooms. This satisfying stew is served with a squirt of Dijon mustard to top each serving, which is fantastic with it. I served this with some delicious olive ad thyme sourdough.
Rating: :)


Seitan Burgers for Stews and Chilis: These are kind of strange on their own. The dough is very wet at first, and takes a while to come together. There is the option of beer or broth to use as the liquid, and I used some pale ale here. These are baked covered with some baking paper and an upside down tray, presumable to keep the sheet, but after the first 20 minute bake when it was time to take the top layer off it stuck on a bit. They are oddly bready when cut, and you certainly wouldn't just saute them to eat, but in stews and chilis they soak up the flavours well.
Rating: :)

Seitan Burgers for Stews and Chilis

Sesame Udon Stir-Fry: This colourful dinner comes together quickly, making it great for a weeknight. I used 270g of dried udon (rather than 454g) and carrots instead of capsicum. I also added some cubed sauteed tofu for extra bulk. I also decreased the amount of sesame oil for coating the noodles to just a splash rather than a quarter or a cup.
Rating: :)

Sesame Udon Stir-Fry

BBQ Slaw Tacos: This recipe includes a mini-recipe for a quick and easy 'chi-fu', which can be used in place of store-bought chicken style strips. It is then doused in some of the Whisky Barbecue Sauce. The slaw combines peanut butter, pickle relish and capers for an unusual dressing. It was a little bit too vinegary for my tummy, but my mouth thought it was great.
Rating: :)

BBQ Slaw Tacos

Better Love Your Beans Bake: Macaroni, beans, salsa and guac baked into a casserole and topped with a puree of chickpeas, sour cream and seasoning. I totally forgot to mash the black beans, but it worked out fine. And I just left out the capsicum.
Rating: :)

Better Love Your Beans Bake

Cheesy Chili Bake: This uses leftovers of the chocolate stout chili, though you can use any chili. I only made a half quantity of this and it made enough to feed three people happily. The nut-based topping was very thick, I struggled to get it completely smooth, but this didn't really detract from it at all.
Rating: :)

Cheesy Chili Bake

Creamy All-In-One Bowl: This is a fun mix of jasmine rice, tofu, broccoli, pineapple, fresh coriander and nuts all topped with a creamy peanut butter based sauce. I would decrease the rice from two and a half cups down to two for a better rice to other stuff ratio.
Rating: :)

Creamy All-In-One-Bowl

Patatas Bravas Frittata with Homefries: I had trouble getting this to firm up as much as I thought it was supposed to, so it was a bit smooshy, but it was still good. It is based on blended chickpeas, and it says to leave them a little chunkier for a firmer texture, so I may have pureed them a little bit too much. I used one roasted capsicum instead of an entire can. The home fries are based on a recipe from later on in the book, however with different seasonings. Potatoes are always good.
Rating: Frittata :), Home Fries :)

Potatas Bravas Frittata with Homefries

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara sleeps

I mentioned previously that Sahara loves sleeping on top of things. This time it is a folded up blanket on top of a bed.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Recipe Round-Up: Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats

Back to the world of Recipe Round-Ups, this time with Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats by Allyson Kramer. While I am happily gluten-full, I have gluten free friends and also just find it nice to dabble in gluten free cooking every now and then. This book is great, and has been very helpful in introducing me to the wonderful world of gluten free baking. Allyson does amazing things with baked goods!

Pumpkin and Chickpea Chili with Baked Corn Pudding: Chickpeas and black beans make this chili nice and filling. It is thickened with a tin of pumpkin puree. The baked corn pudding is a fun side dish, baked in a pan and then scooped out to be served on top or by the side of a main dish. It is quite sweet, which offsets the spice of the chilli.
Rating: Chili :), Corn Pudding :)

Baked Corn Pudding

Double-Chocolate Muffins: Brown rice flour is boosted by some precious teff flour (damn that stuff is expensive!), with cocoa powder and chocolate chips proving the double chocolate hit. These dense, chocolately muffins appear in the breakfast chapter, but I made them for dessert.
Rating: :)

Double-Chocolate Muffin

Cherry Vanilla Bean Pancakes: I made this when I had a gf friend staying over, and it was on this day that I learnt that not all soy milk is gluten free (thankfully this discovery came just in the nick of time!). These sweet pancakes are delicate, they burn a little if left to bubble all the way through. Topped here with some maple syrup and fresh cherries, but one of my friends added some chocolate ice cream for a very decadent dessert.
Rating: :)

Cherry Vanilla Bean Pancakes

Rosemary, Leek and Potato Pie: A pretty dish, this makes 4 main servings if served with greens (the recipe says 8 servings, but that would be a single slice, which is not very filling). It is quite oily as it cooks, put a tray underneath because mine leaked a little. I had to bake for an hour and a half, rather than 65 minutes, for it to cook all the way through.

Rosemary, Leek and Potato Pie

Rosemary, Leek and Potato Pie

Black Bean, Potato and Cheese Enchiladas: Thank goodness that enchilada sauce hides a multitude of sins, because my corn tortillas were splitting all over the place as I tried to roll then up with the filling! I filled 8 tortillas, rather than the 12 the recipe says, but that was just right for my pan. The recipe calls for 2 cups or 220g potatoes, which doesn't seem to match up, so go by the volume rather than weight.
Rating: :)

Black Bean, Potato and Cheese Enchiladas

Pina Colada Cupcakes: I made these for a bake sale, and have since made them a few times. The cupcakes have crushed pineapple and light run in them, which is complemented by a coconut frosting. The frosting uses a lot of coconut oil, which is why I made them for the bake sale because I can't eat that level of coconut fat. My icing never set up enough to be piped on, so instead I'd suggest making a half batch and smearing it on, though you still end up with leftovers. I made these the original way the first time, but now when I make them I make the coconut icing out of Vegan With A Vengeance to top them.
Rating: :)

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Soulhaus Cookies: These chococlate chip cookies are a bake sale staple for me now. These are great from the get go! I find a lot of gf cookie doughs are unpleasant to eat because of the taste of the raw flours, but the combination of sorghum and brown rice flours make a delicious batter, yay! They are just as good when they are baked. It says it makes 24 cookies using tablespoon scoops, but when I used the slightly larger Australian tablespoon I got 30. These days I use an ice-cream scoop to make 20 big cookies, which I bake for about 18 minutes.
Rating: :D

Soulhaus Cookies

Soulhaus Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies: Flourless cookies are a mystery to me, but somehow this dough bakes into a delicious cookie. They are quite fragile, however, so be prepared to at some cookie crumbs! These also don't freeze and thaw very well - I often bake and freeze cookies in advance for bake sales - so I recommend making these fresh.
Rating: :D

Peanut Butter Cookies

Butterscotch Amaretti: The first recipe I made from this book, these cookies are so quick and easy to make and are just delicious. I needed to bake a bit longer than the recipe suggested to make them get browned and a little crunchy, but take care not to cook too far (and don't turn up the heat) or you will bake them into a hard toffee-like lump.
Rating: :D

Butterscotch Amaretti

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


'You didn't want to get dressed for bed, did you?' Sahara claims the PJ pants I carelessly left on the bed while I was brushing my teeth.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Seattle 2014: Part 6 - Hawaii and Homebound

Our trip ended with a couple of days in Honolulu on the way home. On the flight there I happened to get chatting to the flight staff and met Yui, who is a vegan and a cat lady. We had a great chat, and she recommended a place for me to have dinner in Honolulu that night. The flight staff also brought me a huge fruit plate to make up for not having any vegan options on the flight, which went nicely with my sandwich and snacks. When we arrived, we caught a taxi to our hotel - The Modern Honolulu. When we arrived they gave use some lovely cilantro lemonade! It was too early to check into our room, so we walked to the nearby Ala Moana Center to look for lunch. The food court was huge, crowded and crappy, but thankfully I discovered that there was a California Pizza Kitchen there. I had the Roast Vegetable Salad, hold the capsicum, and subbing the non-vegan dijon dressing for balsamic vinegar. You can also get some vegan pizzas and soups there, I just really wanted vegetables. I also ordered the strawberry mango cooler drink, which I unfortunately didn't realise was bubbly. Ack!

Strawberry Mango Cooler

Roasted Vegetable Salad from California Pizza Kitchen

On our way back to the hotel we stopped by an ABC Store for snacks. Unfortunately at this one there was no sign of vegan sushi, like I found last year, however I was able to find that classic vegan staple: hummus. And some strange baby carrots as well. Hotel room snacks sorted!

Baby Carrots and Hummus

For dinner I took an evening walk to Phuket Thai, the restaurant that Yui had recommended for me. They were incredibly knowledgeable about vegan needs and had a wide selection available. Of course I ordered the Pad See Ew, my favourite Thai dish ever. This was HUGE, and a little bit oily. I would have liked a higher tofu/vegetable to noodle ratio. But it was still good. When my bill came it said 'Pad See Ew No Animal', which I loved.

Pad See Ew from Phuket Thai

The next morning we woke up and looked out our hotel room to this view. Life can sometimes be hard.

View from hotel

We went to the Hawaii Hiking Cafe, which has vegan options, for breakfast. I got an Acai bowl, but I had to get it without granola because that had honey in it. Still, it was a big bowl of fruity goodness. I also ordered an Almond Chai Latte, however on first sip realised that it was an almond and chai flavoured actual coffee latte, and I can't drink coffee. They asked if there was a problem when I didn't drink it, and when I explained they subbed it for some peppermint tea, even though it was not their fault at all, so nice!

Acai bowl from Hawaii Hiking Cafe

After breakfast we walked into Waikiki and took a little, well-shaded peak at the beach.


The real reason for all vegans to go to Hawaii is to go and eat at Downbeat Diner, a diner where almost everything on the menu can be made vegan. Ashleigh and I went there twice last year, and I was not going to miss another chance to eat the goodies! We caught a bus downtown for lunch. I ordered a strawberry milkshake (my favourite flavour) and a BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Bacon and Garlic Fries. Yes please!

Strawberry Milkshake from Downbeat Diner

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Bacon and Garlic Fries from Downbeat Diner

Afterwards we went back to Ala Moana to browse the many, many, many shops and also saw the Hula demonstration.

Hula demonstration at Ala Moana

I had planned to go to Loving Hut for dinner that night, but my feet were sore, so I got a Quinoa Pizza from Hiking Hawaii Cafe, which I also topped with some hummus. It was an interesting pizza, with zucchini, quinoa, chimichurri and mushrooms.

Quinoa Pizza from Hawaii Hiking Cafe

The next morning I was oddly not hungry, and so had some snacks in the hotel room and then we went for a walk down the beach that was next to the hotel. We saw people doing yoga on surfboards in a lagoon! It was amazing. There was lots of shade for me to hide out in as we strolled down, and we got a beautiful view of Diamond Head as well.

Surfboard yoga!


When we got back we went to sit in the Sunrise Pool area of the cafe, and I had a lovely iced tea overlooking the sea.

Iced Tea at the Sunrise Pool

For lunch I walked to Peace Cafe, a lovely all vegan cafe. I had to order the BBQ Tempeh Plate, which also had coleslaw, green salad, brown rice and cornbread. It was so yummy and filling! I washed it down with an iced chai latte - the proper kind of chai, no coffee in sight! I also bought a Popeye Sandwich (spinach, tofu and miso-tahini sauce) to take on the plane back to Brisbane with me the next day.

BBQ Tempeh Plate at Peace Cafe

Popeye Sandwich from Peace Cafe

Peace Cafe is just up the road from Down To Earth, a natural grocery store. I visited here to stock up on Daiya, Follow Your Heart and Field Roast that I was going to freeze overnight to take home to Brisbane with me. They also have a hotbox and salad bar with some vegan options there, and a wide variety of other grocery needs.

Dinner that night was at Z Pizza, a chain that has a vegan pizza that I had heard a lot about. We got the Vegan Berkley pizza, hold the capsicum and add the olives. And the California Salad with Italian dressing and avocado on the side for me (Mum has an intolerance). It was OK, not great. I definitely wouldn't go out of my way again to get it, but good if it is nearby and you are hungry.

Vegan Berkley with olives from Z Pizza

California Salad

Another early morning the next day and it was back to the airport for the trip home. I tried another yoghurt before I left the hotel - this one almond based (strawberry flavour, of course). Another delicious yoghurt!

Almond Milk Yoghurt

Right before we got on the plane at the airport, this beautiful rainbow came out.


The flight home was filled with lots of movies (EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU'RE PART OF A TEAM!) and eating and eventually a happy reunion with the kitties. I had such a lovely time on this trip, especially in Seattle. I have already planned my US trip for next year!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Hawaiian Kitty

I met this handsome fellow when I was walking from the hotel to Peace Cafe. I had actually taken a wrong turn and added some extra time onto my walk, and it was hot, so I was a bit cranky. But then I met this boy and he completely made up for it.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Seattle 2014: Part 5

The next morning, for our last day in Seattle, Mum and I had a day trip planned. We started our day at Bayou on 1st and I ordered the tofu scramble I had heard a lot about. It was OK, nothing to go out of your way for but a good option to have downtown if you need it.

Tofu Scramble from Bayou on 1st

Then we hopped on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. It was my first time being out on Puget Sound, which was beautiful. Lovely views of Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Island

Once we arrived we spent some time wandering around the cute little shops on the main street before looking for lunch. We had planned to go to Blackbird Bakery, which I had heard had savoury vegan options, but they didn't have any that day. So instead we went to a tiny vegan place called Emmy's Vege House. We got some potstickers, which were a bit disappointing as the wrappers were way too thick, and some delicious Ginger Tofu.

Emmy's Vege House

Ginger Tofu from Emmy's Vege House

Potstickers from Emmy's Vege House

After lunch we stopped back at Blackbird and I picked up a slice of their vegan Chocolate Applesauce Bread to take back to the hotel for afternoon tea.

Chocolate Applesauce Bread from Blackbird Bakery

Then we hopped back on the ferry for another lovely ride back to Seattle.

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island

After getting off the ferry we walked down the waterfront and back up to Pike Place Markets, and I tried in vain to find Twin Peaks themed gifts to bring home for my friend Leigh. But there was nothing! Nothing! What is wrong with you Seattle? I had to head back to the hotel at that time as I was getting a bit sunburned, so needed to hide in the shade for a little while.

Once it had cooled down a little, I headed back out for a lovely stroll back to Capitol Hill to meet up with Highline, which had recently started serving food again. It was my first time here. When I arrived, Helen had already ordered a plate of the famous Fried Pickles to share. These were good, though I was glad I was sharing because it would have been a bit too deep fried for me to eat all on my own!

Fried Pickles at Highline

Tim ordered some of the tacos, I don't remember which one it was. I have heard good things about their tacos. Helen ordered The Bell Toll, which is a sandwich with seitan steak, caramelised onion, capsicum, mushrooms, garlic aioli and provolone sauce with au jus dipping sauce. I had a bit and it was good! I ordered the BLT, which was perfect, and a side of creamy coleslaw. I was a bit disappointed in the coleslaw, as I didn't really consider it creamy.

Tacos at Highline

Bell Tower at Highline

BLT at Highline

Creamy Coleslaw at Highline

Highline also has bingo on Monday nights, so we got to play a couple of rounds. No winners on our table, but it was pretty fun!

Bingo at Highline

It was sad to say goodbye to Helen, but I am happy that I will be seeing her again next year. Then I wandered back to the hotel via Black Coffee Co-Op for a chai and I also bought a pre-made Wayward sandwich to take on the plane the next day. You know how sometimes you find an awesome place right at the last moment of your holidays? This was it. I look forward to hanging out here, reading and drinking and eating next year. Though their webpage says they are planning a move, so I hope they are still available to me then!

The next morning we had to wake up early to go to the airport to fly back to Hawaii. I had a slice of leftover mac and cheese pizza from Pizza Pi and a tub of strawberry soy yoghurt before we left the hotel. I love the yoghurt that is available in the US! We don't have anything quite right here.

Strawberry Yoghurt

I also had a loaf of vegan banana bread from Cinnamon Works and a Tempeh Reuben Sandwich from Black Coffee to take on the plane with me for food, plus some other snacks. I was rather glum to be leaving Seattle, because it is my very favourite place. But I had kitties waiting at home. We just had a couple of days in Hawaii first.

Wayward Vegan Reuben Sandwich and Cinnamon Works Banana Bread

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim before I leave

Dim Sim was less cooperative for her last photo before I left home for my trip. I think she was a bit suspicious because of all the suitcases and my obvious separation anxiety kicking in, plus she really hates my actual camera, so this is a photo of her butt as she was trotting away from me.