25 December 2013

Christmas Traditions: Candy Coated Clouds

I love traditions. Growing up in a family with many traditions likely caused my love for them, but regardless of the reason, I love traditions. Christmas time, in my family, is a time filled with traditions. I could give you an hour-by-hour account of what happens on any given Christmas starting Christmas Eve morning through Christmas night. Although this year was a bit different than other years (my mother's health is failing), we're still engaging in most of the traditions that we've had for years.

One of those traditions is what we eat for breakfast on Christmas morning: caramel pull-apart rolls. Although historically this breakfast was ONLY for Christmas, while my sister and I were growing up it became a breakfast occasionally served at other times. One of those other times was a trip up to my family's cabin in high school. I brought along a group of my friends and my dad made these for breakfast. One friend, upon taking her first bite, said, "it's like eating candy coated clouds!" The name (description) stuck; I don't even know what they are actually called. As an adult, I've served it to many other people. My nephew LOVES this breakfast and requests it every time we visit. He's been helping me cook them since he was about 3. He knows the whole process (and how long it takes) and has been requesting that I post this recipe here for a while.

Before I go on, let me clue you in that this is NOT a healthy breakfast. It's a delicious treat of a breakfast, but certainly not something that should be a regular indulgence. But hey, it's Christmas!

20 December 2013

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

It's official - we are both on break! This was Shana's last week of school (whereas I was done with scheduled stuff last week). Given the schedule of events and school obligations she had, Shana opted to stay in Indy two nights this past week. Although that's sad for both of us, she can't do things like enter grades at home as easily as I can, so it made sense.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Tuesdays were the nights I'd been attempting and failing at crockpot dinners. This past Tuesday, I didn't even plan a dinner, which is almost blasphemous in our meal-planning household. I'd purchased a few things I figured I could eat, but nothing that was truly a meal. I wasn't worried, because I know my pantry is well-stocked enough that I could simply throw something together, but instead, I got inspired and made something amazing enough to share.

One of the things I purchased was an acorn squash. I decided I would eat that as part of my dinner, then got inspired thinking about what else to make. The result - a simple, savory, and delicious (!) stuffing - perfectly offset the sweetness of the roasted acorn squash. In addition, the mix of textures (smooth, chewy, and crunchy) gives the whole dish a "fancy" feeling, even though the hardest part of the whole process is probably cutting the acorn squash. Finally (just in case I haven't yet won you over), this is healthy! There's a whole grain, some protein, three veggies, and very little fat. Eat up!

17 December 2013

Vegan Viands #15: Candy Cane Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My grades are in, which means the semester is officially over for me! While I still have work I need to do (such a preparing for next semester, committee work, and paper revisions), having this unstructured time is lovely. I will get to all of the things I need to do, but I'll also intersperse fun things, like cooking up a storm, reading for pleasure, and holiday gatherings. Just last night we went to a lovely dinner with friends where we ate and laughed and trimmed a tree.

My food task for last night's gathering was to bring dessert. One of the hosts specifically requested my cinnamon cake (and apparently giggled with glee when I agreed to make it). I also decided to remake these candy cane chocolate chunk cookies that I'd made a few nights ago, because I wanted to experiment with ratios in the recipe. This attempt led to cookies that were exactly what I wanted them to be. When making them a few nights ago, the cookies were amazingly soft and delicious, but weren't quite right. They were flat and there was an unbalanced ratio of cookie additions to cookie dough. Shana reminded me that this was exactly how the cookies turned out every year (and that I responded in the same partially dissatisfied manner every year), but this year I was determined to make them into the cookies I envisioned. Success!

These cookies are perfect for holiday gatherings and for using up all those candy canes! The subtle mintiness in the soft dough, the toffee-like texture of the cooked candy canes, and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate chunks are such an amazing combination. This recipe is originally one I found while perusing the recipes of the Vegan Chef. Although this recipe isn't listed on her website any longer, here it is.

07 December 2013

Amazing Apple Spice Bread

I've just finished the last week of the semester at school; finals are next week. Due to some scheduling confusion with the finals schedule, I rearranged the last three days of my Psychology of Prejudice class, necessitating that we start class 30 minutes early on Thursday (my students were giving presentations on their semester-long research projects; research is awesome!). Because they are college students and I know full well that most of them roll out of bed to come to my class (and, let's be honest, because I love them), I told them I would make them treats since I was starting class earlier than usual.

Class was going to run from 10-12 on Thursday, so I needed mostly breakfast-y stuff for them to eat. I opted for a lot of fruit (pineapple, strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries), a pretzel/chocolate/pecan thing, as well as some baked items. Actually, lots of baked items. I made my grape nut bars, two sets of banana muffins (with nuts and without), and this amazing apple bread. While cooking on Wednesday night, I worried that I wasn't going to have enough food, so I started some creative googling. Eventually, I stumbled on a non-vegan recipe for a bread that looked good, made some adjustments, and ended up not even getting a piece to try while in class! I asked a couple of students about the bread after class (one student said she liked it so much she had two pieces - excellent!), and with the rave reviews, I figured I had to make it again. I am SO glad I did, because this bread is AMAZING! It's full of a subtle blend of apple/cinnamon/molasses flavors, it's sweet but not cloying, it's dense without being heavy, and it's moist with a wonderful mouth feel. For those of you who like my family recipe zucchini bread, make this bread! You'll love it!

03 December 2013

Lazy Dinner Tacos

Apparently "Lazy Dinners" are a thing at our house. Tonight was a "Lazy Dinner." In fact, this dinner is more of a Lazy Dinner than Lazy Dinner Pizza, which was the first Lazy Dinner I posted. I've been attempting new crockpot dinners for the past few Tuesdays, as they allow me to spend more time working on nights when Shana stays in Indy. However, the past few attempts have been pretty bad. Their awfulness made me hesitant to try a new one this week. Instead, I decided on tacos. Shana's been on a "no tacos" kick, too, which made dinner even more perfect.

These tacos are a perfect dinner when you don't have a plan or only have about 10 minutes to cook (and actually, 10 minutes might be exaggerating the length of time I was in the kitchen). In addition, they are able to be customized in any way you'd like. I feel silly even calling this a recipe, but since the purpose of this blog is to show people that it's actually very do-able to be vegan, this is a super easy way to do so. Plus, tacos are just delicious.

29 November 2013

Vegan Viands #14: Bryanna's Brilliant Pumpkin Pie

We are in Minnesota with my family for this whole week - being teachers has its perks! Actually, the only reason Shana has the whole week off is because her school district is on a "balanced calendar," which leads to earlier starts and later ends, but a great schedule of breaks throughout the year. This trip to Minnesota has been great so far. We've not wandered too far from home, as my mother's health isn't all that hot, but it's been great to be low-key and have family time. With that said, we have done some fun things, such as seeing a show at Chanhassen Dinner Theater and cutting down a Christmas tree.

Yesterday (Thanksgiving) we spent a low-key morning and started cooking in the afternoon. My parents are omnivores (but my mom eats very little), but since Shana and my sister are vegetarians and I'm vegan, most of what we ate was a veganized version of traditional dinners. The dinner menu was marinated/broiled tofu for "the girls," turkey for my parents, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, gravy, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Everything was going well until we realized the oven wasn't working. Seriously. The oven stopped working on Thanksgiving. After a couple of moments spent staring at each other, my dad and I realized the broiler still worked. We just moved the oven racks down low in the oven and stirred/rotated food more often. Since I'd planned on broiling the tofu anyway, that part was perfectly fine.

Luckily for all involved, I'd made the pumpkin pie a day in advance (required for this recipe). Although I knew that Shana and I loved this pie, I was worried about my dad liking it, as he's the main pumpkin pie cooker in our house. He said it smelled good while it was baking and said that it looked good when it was cooked, but the real test is in the taste. After a bite, the verdict was in - delicious! Whew. I wish I could take credit for the recipe, but this is a very subtle adaptation from Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe. If you've not heard of Bryanna Clark Grogan, she's an amazing vegan cook who really helped to usher in the current vegan food movement. She's got numerous cookbooks, too. Absolutely check her out! But, enough small talk; on to the pie!

21 November 2013

Maggie's Vegan Yakisoba

Before I started working here at Earlham, I worked at a school in the far western part of New York state called Alfred. The town of Alfred (home to Alfred University, where I worked, and Alfred State College, a branch of the SUNY system) is a very small town. It has just about 1000 year-round residents. However, with two colleges in the town, the students bring the population up during the school year and make it so that the town hosts a reasonable variety of restaurants, bars, and little shops, including a natural foods store!

One of the restaurants we frequented most in Alfred is called Nana's Japanese Cafe. It is freaking amazing. Shana and I both especially loved the tofu yakisoba that is at Nana's, as the sauce is phenomenal. When we realized we were moving, we questioned many times whether or not we would ever have such delicious yakisoba again, since we're there in the summer when we visit, but Nana's is closed during the summer. So, we tried to get the recipe, but it didn't work. We've had friends who are still there try to get the recipe, but it hasn't worked. We'd all but given up. However, this week we both decided it was time to take matters into our own hands and make a recipe.

After some googling, I mashed together an assortment of recipes that I thought might come close to the taste of Nana's yakisoba sauce (mostly inspired by Mark Bittman's Minimalist video from 2010). Although the sauce I made isn't identical to Nana's, it's a more-than-worthy comparison. I mean, this dinner was simply outstanding. In addition, yakisoba is designed to be fast food, and this recipe is fast and easy!

Rockin' the Alfred cup in honor of Nana's. 

18 November 2013

Fusion Curry a la Bittman

I've been neglecting you, dear readers. I apologize. As is generally the case, life got a bit busier than I anticipated, largely due to some really awesome (but short) weekend trips Shana and I have taken in the past two months. Since the beginning of October, Shana and I have been away more weekends than we've been home and have had things planned for weekends when we are home. This travel schedule has been wonderfully fun (I was in Minnesota, we saw many good friends in Boston, saw family and did halloween in Philly, and barely explored Fort Wayne), but fast - most trips were 36 hours, seriously, and has definitely impeded my cooking.

This week when we were making our meal plan, I decided we needed to try all sorts of new things. I'd gotten tired of eating the same easy meals the last few weeks and I have all these new recipes and cookbooks laying around my house. Most importantly, this week is just a normal week for us. Feels lovely. I presented a number of options to Shana and she picked this curry recipe (which made me worry that she was an impostor). But since I love curry, I was happy to oblige!

Tonight's dinner was a recipe my Aunt gave to me at some point or another, but we'd never gotten around to trying it. I wish we'd made it sooner. It's so good that it's here on the blog after just one attempt at the recipe. (I generally make something at least twice before it appears here, but given that this is a Mark Bittman recipe at the base, it's got to be good.) Although it's not a traditional curry recipe, as it has ingredients generally not found in the same recipe AND it's got a slight Asian influence, it's still a winner! This recipe has everything going for it: it is simple, speedy, delicious, uses ingredients you can find at any reasonable grocery store, and is fancy enough that you could make it for a dinner party.

24 October 2013

Maggie's Seitan au Jus

This October has been (apparently) a bit insane for me, even though I'm not sure why that's been the case. In any event, I hope to make it up to you, dear readers, by telling you about another one of Shana's all time favorite dinners - seitan au jus. This dinner is a vegan version of a roast beef au jus (or "French Dip") sandwich, crossed with a Philly cheese steak sandwich, and inspired by the Vietnamese Seitan Baguette with Savory Broth Dip found in Veganomicon. It sounds like a bit of a sandwich mash-up, but it turns into something positively delicious! So let me explain a bit more about how I got here.

First, let's start with the French Dip. Like this decidedly non-vegan sandwich, seitan au jus has a savory dipping sauce from its own juices, softening the bread and adding extra flavor. Second, Philly cheese steak. Many years back, Shana and I went to the Reading Terminal Market while visiting her family in Philly. We wandered around trying to decide what to eat for lunch when I saw a place that sold vegan cheese steaks. Having never had one, I decided on the spot to try one. I was sold! This sandwich has most of the ingredients you'd find in a cheese steak ("meat," onions, and peppers). Third, the recipe from Veganomicon. When I got this cookbook, I read it cover to cover (as one does with cookbooks), marking recipes as I went along. I marked this one, but was a bit uncertain about how all the flavors (five-spice powder, mayo, cucumber, onion, cilantro, seitan, etc.) would work together. Regardless, it got my brain turning and this recipe emerged.

You can see the "au jus" in the bowl and the roasted cauliflower we had, too. 

08 October 2013

Crockpot Almost Irish Stew

We had a line of autumn storms move through here a couple of days ago. In their wake, they left perfect cool, fall weather. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you should be unsurprised that this cool weather leads us to soups and stews. I mean, they really are the most perfect foods! This particular stew is one that I've been waiting to post for a while, as there was a bit of groundwork necessary. Specifically, I had to make sure that you all (lovely readers, you) were comfortable with me talking about seitan.

This crockpot dinner is a fabulous fall or winter dinner. The only veggies in it are ones that you can easily get year round and the flavor profile is hearty and full of earthy tastes. In addition, putting seitan in the crockpot with some liquid gives the seitan such a wonderful texture. Plus, if you don't like seitan, you can simply switch it out for some beans (see the Helpful Hints).

Two quick blog-related items. First, I'm very sorry for my resent absence. I've been working hard and traveling a lot this semester. Neither of those things seem to be changing for the near future, but I promise that I haven't forgotten about LesVegan. Second, I've made a new page for vegan substitutions and am working on switching the links within recipes over to the new page. Eventually, the old substitutions post will go away, so if you stumble upon a broken link, please pass a message my way.

Finally, on an unrelated note: after dinner tonight we went for a walk to enjoy 60 degree temperatures, the crunchy leaves, and lovely evening ambiance. On our way out the door, we stopped to admire the lovely work the neighborhood squirrels are doing to one of the pumpkins we put out front. Apparently it's a delicious pumpkin (but the other one isn't...?). Who knows. I'm not distressed about the pumpkin consumption, as it has been fun to watch

24 September 2013

Vegan Viands #13: Vegan Snickerdoodles

When I sat down to write this post, my first thought was about the origin of the name "snickerdoodles." I love words (even though my professional life has nothing to do with words), so any time I can learn about a new word, I get a little bit excited.* Although I do not allow my students to EVER cite from Wikipedia, I do admit that I go there from time to time to get a little bit of background on a topic. According to the Wiki article on snickerdoodles, the word is either a bastardization of the name of a German pastry or simply a New England "whimsical" name for a cookie. Either way, they are delicious.

Snickerdoodles are actually one of Shana's favorite types of cookies. I don't make them that often, so when I offer to do so, she jumps at the chance to eat them. I'm not sure why I got the bug to make snickerdoodles this time around. Maybe it's the cinnamon tickling my nose and eliciting a wonderful feeling of nostalgia that alternates between suffused elation and a feeling both tender and bittersweet. I always feel this way during autumn. Maybe it's that we just spent a wonderful weekend celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary and I wanted to maintain that feeling of connection a little bit into the week. Maybe I just felt I was rushing the season too much if I made my pumpkin cookies. Or maybe it's just that I haven't made snickerdoodles in a really long time. Regardless, they sure were delicious!

22 September 2013

Vegan Cornbread Muffins

Tonight Shana is cooking dinner! Just like I'm doing crockpot meals once a week, she's cooking dinner one night a week now. It has been fun to NOT cook dinner one night a week, but, in all honesty, I wouldn't like it if she cooked all the time. I just enjoy cooking too much for that. Anyway, Shana is not a very experienced cook, so she's opting to make dishes from my blog because she knows what they are supposed to taste like and because I'm here while she's cooking in case questions arise. It's actually been quite helpful for me to have a novice cook attempt recipes, as she's pointed out areas where I don't provide enough information (e.g., how much heat does one use for a simmer?), as well as the occasional typo.

We'd been talking about having the best vegan chili for about a week, so the cooler temperatures of today (perfect for the autumnal equinox) made this a perfect choice for dinner. Since Shana was cooking the main part of dinner, I thought I'd take the time to make the classic chili accompaniment of cornbread. Most cornbread recipes call for at least one of the following non-vegan ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, or butter. However, none of those ingredients are necessary to make a moist and delicious cornbread! You can make a delicious cornbread without animal by-products and no one will ever know!

19 September 2013

Crockpot Corn Chowder

As I mentioned a week ago, I'm using Tuesdays this semester to attempt new crockpot meals. This week got a little turned around with a dinner for a potential new faculty member on Tuesday night, but Wednesday night was parent-teacher conferences, so Shana stayed and I attempted a new crockpot dinner. I was trying to decide between two different meals in my crockpot book, and although I'm not sure what made me choose this dish, I am very glad that I did!

Perhaps I was predisposed to like this meal because of the ease of crockpot cooking. Perhaps it was just that I was really hungry when I first tried the chowder. But I don't think that I've ever had non-vegan corn chowder, so I might not be a fair judge (though I did share bites of it with two omnivores at school today and they both liked it). In reality, I think the recipe is just a delicious one! Plus, you can make this using fresh from the farm corn in the summer or frozen kernels in the winter. To be honest, I used frozen kernels even though it is summer because it's just easier.

Overall, this soup is full of corn flavor and fresh whole foods. By pureeing some of the cooked veggies and then adding the puree back into the soup, there's a slight bit of weight to each spoonful without an overpowering heaviness. The corn makes it a bit on the "sweet" side (think sweet corn, not cake), but maybe that's normal for corn chowder? Regardless, there is certainly a balance of other savory flavors. If nothing else, the chowder is a lovely shade of yellow!

15 September 2013

Curried Seitan Pumpkin Stew

Last weekend my aunt and uncle visited us as a stop on their road trip to Virginia. They brought a number of items that my dad sent us from his garden, including two small pie pumpkins. I looked at those little pumpkins and knew exactly what needed to happen - curried seitan pumpkin stew. Showing Shana the two little pumpkins (and not saying a word), her eyes lit up. She knew what the little pumpkins meant: one of our favorite dinners was going to happen, one that can only happen for a relatively short period of time in the fall.

Shana and I planned to have curried seitan pumpkin stew on Saturday, but we've made a practice of sharing this meal with friends. When talking about which friends we should share with this time around, we talked about a couple with whom I traveled to Jordan over the summer. Although we've hung out with them in groups (and I traveled across the world with them), we thought it would be fun to spend an evening with them. Invitations were extended and accepted, I purchased two more small pumpkins at the farmer's market, and preparations began.

When I say preparations, I mean it. This is NOT a quick meal you can just throw together on a whim. Although it's not particularly complicated, there are a number of ingredients for which you need to plan ahead, and there are long cooking times so you also need at least 3 hours before you want to eat on the day of meal. But all the planning and prep work is so incredibly worth it! These flavors are magnificent together!

13 September 2013

Maggie's Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

If it's not clear already, we love soup. Over 10% of the recipes in this blog are soup. Since we knew the weather was going to be fall-like today, we planned for soup. This soup, though, isn't just any soup. This soup is an homage to my wife's Jewish heritage and allows her to tell me that I'd make a wonderful Jewish grandmother (because apparently to be one I'd need a recipe for matzo ball soup and a penchant for feeding people - and technically, I'd need to be Jewish, too).

To be honest, I don't remember why I started making matzo ball soup. Perhaps it was a Seder we shared with friends while I was in grad school, as we shared many. Maybe it was me trying to figure out foods we'd both love. Maybe I was just feeling adventurous. In all likelihood, I probably saw some ingredients at the store (Manischewitz Matzo Ball mix) and decided I should buy some. Whatever the reason, this a soup recipe that makes both of us incredibly happy.

Although I've tweaked the recipe a bit over time, this is a fairly straightforward recipe for matzo ball soup. It uses some convenience ingredients and things you can easily find at a grocery store. FYI, my matzo balls are a bit on the dense side of the spectrum, as is my preference. If you feel like being a master chef, you can always try the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance, as this recipe makes matzo balls that are supposed to be fluffier.

11 September 2013

Maggie's Stuffed Peppers

Before I begin, let me apologize for my significant absence. I'll try not to leave for that long again.

So, the semester is in full swing by now. What that means is that I'm busier than I was during the summer (I've got 13% of the student body across all of my classes this semester), but that the semester has mostly settled into a routine. I know which nights I'm going to have more work to do and which nights I'm going to have more free time. For this semester, I've decided that Tuesday nights will be nights when I attempt a new crockpot meal (Shana stays in Indy, so I can test new recipes and engage in minimal effort). Last night's new crockpot meal was a big bust. Perhaps because of that, I wasn't feeling hopeful about tonight's dinner. Turns out my fears were unfounded.

The necessary back-story to this dinner is that I've tried numerous (4? 7?) times to make a stuffed pepper recipe that we like. I've been unsuccessful. We've eaten stuffed peppers that we like (notably with friends from NY), but I couldn't make a delicious version at home. I'd make an attempt, it would turn out poorly, and neither one of us would want to eat stuffed peppers for a while. Eventually, I'd start to think about them again, playing with ingredients in my mind, and would convince Shana to let me try again. Tonight was a success!! Now I guess I need another recipe to ponder.

24 August 2013

Ambrosia Grapes

Last night we went over to a friend's house for dinner. She is from Texas, but is South Indian by descent. Her parents were in town and she wanted people to come over and eat a dinner of South Indian food. As I've mentioned before, being veg*n is a great reason to step outside of your food boundaries. The beauty of South Indian food is that much of it is already vegan! Everything we ate last night was delicious!!

We offered to bring something if it was needed and were told a dessert would be helpful. Awesome, I love desserts! However, I had no idea what to bring that would go well with our dinner, especially given that I had a short amount of time to cook. In thinking it over, I decided that a fruit-based dessert would work well (also because some other friends were making a wacky cake because they are awesome). Fruit pizza would have been good, but I just didn't have the time. Instead, I ran to the store to pick up some red grapes and some vegan sour cream. With brown sugar at home, that's really all I needed for ambrosia grapes.

I feel silly calling this a recipe, as the ingredient list has all of three things, but it is a perfect summer dessert. It is light and chilled and not overwhelmingly sweet. To be honest, I'm not sure why it's called ambrosia grapes. That's what my mom called it, so that's what I call it.* No matter what you call it, this is a delicious, quick, and easy summer dessert.

21 August 2013

Maggie's Seitan Stroganoff

I made an adjustment in the meal plan for this week (gasp!), but that adjustment led to a new blog post on one of Shana's favorite dinners. For a while, when asked what her favorite meal was, Shana would always say "noff." There are a few others that now rival for top bidding on her palate, but noff remains a strong contender.

When I was little, I remember eating beef stroganoff every once in a while. My dad would serve it over wide egg noodles and the rich, creamy goodness of it was just so comforting. As a vegan, the beef part of the stroganoff is out (as are the egg noodles), but I was bound and determined to find another way to make this as delicious as I remember it. I tried a couple of different iterations, but they weren't right for one reason or another. Usually, that reason was "Shana didn't like it." Finally, I made a winner of a recipe! This recipe is so good that a decidedly non-vegan friend of ours asks me to make it every time we are in the same place. 

15 August 2013

Vegan Viands #12: Vegan Whoopie Pies

This summer we did a ton of driving to see family and friends (mapping our whole route shows 54 hours in the car, which doesn't count the construction-related traffic or the inland monsoon we drove through that wiped out power to over half a million people). The drive time is totally worth it for the people we get to see, the hugs we get to give, and the fun we get to have. It's also fun for me because I get different audiences for whom to cook and can make some things that Shana just doesn't enjoy, like whoopie pies.

Although Shana might be broken (who doesn't like whoopie pies?!), my parents and sister were totally on board to help me devour a batch of vegan whoopie pies. I hadn't made them in years, so I was really excited, too! It also helped to have 4 of us eating them, because these are not - I repeat, NOT - good for you. They are basically fat and sugar mixed with a small amount of flour. Thus, they are incredibly decadent and delicious. In fact, they are so delicious, here's what I found when I went to take pictures.

I ran with it, as it made perfect sense.

09 August 2013

LU Wheat Berry Summer Salad

I went to a small liberal arts school for undergrad called Lawrence University (which is what started me on the path toward my career at a small liberal arts school - Earlham College). It was during undergrad that I went vegan (March of 2001). Veganism wasn't as widely accepted then, especially in Wisconsin, the cheese capitol of America. Nevertheless, Lawrence had vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, as well as things that were "accidentally" vegan, meaning that they weren't designed with vegan eaters in mind, but worked for them anyway.* One such accidentally vegan dish was this cold side salad. On the surface, it seems pretty simple as it has only three visible ingredients. However, the dressing is what absolutely makes this salad! Plus, since the flavors develop the longer it sits, you can make this a couple of days in advance and it will be even more delicious.

Before I get to recipe, maybe I should back up. It's possible that I keep saying wheat berries and you have no idea what I'm talking about. Wheat berries are the full kernel of wheat, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. They are really good for you, as they are high in protein, iron, and fiber. A quarter cup of uncooked wheat berries (about a half cup when cooked) has 150 calories, 6 grams of fiber (22% RDA), 6 grams of protein, and 8% of your daily iron intake! You can find wheat berries in natural foods stores or in a well-stocked grocery store; this is likely the brand you'll find. They can be cooked like most other grains. Plus, they have an awesome texture and a subtly nutty taste. Seriously, they're delicious.

07 August 2013

Family Recipe Zucchini Bread

Yesterday I walked to the farmer's market. I needed the walk and I wanted the produce. While there, I purchased all sorts of goodies, including two ~9 inch zucchinis. As soon as I saw them I could smell the zucchini bread cooking.

I called my parents tonight to find out where this recipe came from. Originally, it was my Grandma T's recipe (my paternal grandmother). Apparently, though, it was my parents' ingenuity to add the chocolate chips. I won't make it any other way.

When I was growing up, all we needed was one giant zucchini from my dad's garden and zucchini bread would happen. I can see my mom standing in the kitchen, bending over the giant yellow/flowered metal bowl, stirring and stirring as she mixed in the shredded zucchini. This, of course, was after she'd carefully mixed together all the other ingredients. I'd marvel as the zucchini leached its liquid into the batter; watching it slowly turn from a nearly sandy texture to something smooth, brown, and magical. I'd get to help lick the bowl clean  (trying carefully to avoid the leftover shreds of zucchini) and then I'd wait as amazing smells filled the kitchen. When I was older, I'd help mix ingredients or shred zucchini, and I no longer avoided the leftover shreds of zucchini in the bowl. Mom would still do the last stirring though; that was her job. To me, this bread is the representation of late summer, of garden bounty, of tradition, of family.

04 August 2013

Maggie's Crockpot Applesauce

I have two food "problems." One is popcorn. I LOVE popcorn. At any one point, I have at least four varieties of popcorn in my cupboards and two different devices designed for making popcorn. But that's a different blog post. My second food "problem" is apples. I LOVE apples. I love the way they look, taste, smell, feel, and sound (yes, sound, more on that below). I love them raw and I love them cooked. I love them green, yellow, red, or any combination thereof. I love them sweet and tart and crunchy and juicy (although I do not love them mealy and soft). I have my favorite store-bought varieties (in no particular order): Pink Lady, Honeycrsip, Braeburn, and Jazz - but I know how to pick the best of the available varieties in any store. I make it a point to try new apple varieties when I find them. I've spent far too much time at this website. See? I have a problem.

So, this afternoon, when I opened an email from a colleague about coming to pick some apples off of her overflowing apple tree, I basically read something like this: "OMG APPLES IN YOUR FACE OM NOM NOM NOM!" I'm sure her email was ever so slightly calmer in tone than that, but you get the idea. Shana and I made a quick change in afternoon errands to include picking some apples and my plans were set: CROCKPOT APPLESAUCE! The beauty of crockpot applesauce is in its simplicity. You put the apples in the crockpot, add a few more ingredients, then turn it on! Your house will smell heavenly in no time.

Applesauce is not the prettiest food, but the taste makes up for it!

28 July 2013

Basil-Hater's Roasted Garlic Spinach Pesto

Shana doesn't like pesto. I don't understand her dislike. As long as it's vegan, I love pesto. Throughout our relationship I've tried numerous variations on pesto, always trying to find one she'll eat - even if we only eat it periodically. I knew all along that I had to essentially get rid of the basil, as that's Shana's primary complaint with pesto. So I've tried cutting down the basil, switching it out for parsley, and any other number of variations. Finally, I decided that I really just needed to move away from the zingy, vibrant, and fresh flavors of pesto (*sniffle*) and move to flavors I knew she liked. Folks, I was successful tonight! She ate it, said it was good, and then said, "but I still don't love pesto." I pressed to see if this was something we could eat occasionally; the answer was yes!

We also had grilled red peppers for dinner - yum!
Like most pesto recipes, this one has just a few ingredients and is a snap to come together in your food processor. Unlike most pesto recipes, this one requires just a bit of forethought, as you need to roast the garlic. In the end, the roasted garlic flavor is totally worth it. And although there's not the same zingy freshness, there's still the lightness I associate with pesto, making this perfect for a summer dinner.

25 July 2013

Sister-in-Law Greek Pitas

We've been back from our whirlwind travels for almost two weeks now. The first week back we used every opportunity to make meals that we'd missed while we were traveling. However, then I realized that it is summer and I should be using my (relative) free time trying new meals, especially since summertime meals are the hardest for us. We're hot, I don't want to heat up the kitchen, and heavy dishes just sit in a lump. I've got a few things in the works, but it was actually a simple recipe I saw for a vegan "feta" that led me to remember this meal.

This recipe for Greek pitas is a vegan version of my sister-in-law's recipe. She used to feed this to Shana before any of them even knew I existed. I'm not sure where she got it, but it's easy, quick, and delicious - a winner! Plus, although it does use a pan on the stove, the cooking time is pretty short because there's no need to cook raw meat. That makes this a great summer dinner.

18 July 2013

Hot or Cold Carrot Soup

As I mentioned in my last post, Shana is down a wisdom tooth. While she is slowly working back into foods she can chew, I took the opportunity to try out a new recipe for a blended soup. Working through this recipe was fun because I got to use an ingredient I rarely use (leeks) and it made me think about throwing a dinner party in the future where everyone gets tiny little bowls of a rainbow of blended soups. I realize that I already have one orange-colored blended soup, so I'd have to choose which one to put in my rainbow. I guess I could decide based on the time of year and I need a red soup...but I digress.

I posted on Facebook last night that I was trying this new recipe but was waiting to see if it was good cold before I posted it here. I tried it a few minutes ago after it had been siting in the fridge overnight and it was DELICIOUS! It could be better cold than hot, even, as the flavors have had a chance to really meld. Regardless of how you eat it, this soup is a winner!

16 July 2013

Maggie's Tropical Cold Soup

We're finally back from our whirlwind of visiting friends and family and this morning Shana had a wisdom tooth extraction. With her current food-texture requirements and the 100+ degree heat index we're expected to have over the next week, I've been hunting down all sorts of soft and cold things for us to eat. We'll see if any of the recipes I found go over well, but in the meantime, I've got one that I know Shana likes: tropical cold soup.

A few summers ago some friends of ours got married in PA. Afterward, we went to a restaurant for the reception and Shana had a bite of a non-vegan coconut/lime/mango soup as an appetizer. She thought it was amazing, so I decided I would try to make a vegan version (having never tried the non-vegan version). I'm not sure how close my recipe is to the one Shana tried, but it is delicious in its own right.

03 July 2013

Maggie's Homemade Seitan

In the life of a professor, one would think that summer time would be low key. I'm not teaching classes and I don't have to go to work, so I don't have anything to do, right? On one hand, my time could be spent doing nothing. On the other hand, I'd go crazy if I wasn't doing things. On another hand (apparently I'm a mutant?), Shana only has 6 weeks off and summer is the time that we go visiting our families and friends (I'm on a trip right now, actually). On yet another hand, I do actually have work stuff I need to be doing (like manuscript writing, data collection, and syllabi editing/creation). What I guess I'm trying to say is that I haven't had as much time as I'd like this summer to do some cooking. I will be doing more later this month and the early weeks of August though, so don't despair!

In the mean time, I do have a few posts I plan to share with you all. This one, about seitan, is one I've been meaning to share forever. Seitan is a high protein food, but it is not for those who are gluten sensitive or intolerant (as it is wheat gluten). It is easy to make, can be used in a variety of ways, and freezes like a dream. As I've said before, you can buy seitan at the store, but I like the taste and texture of the homemade stuff far more. It's easiest to eat a well-balanced vegan diet if you make sure to include some high-protein foods; seitan totally fits in that category!
Here it's ready to become any number of dinners!
Up until now, I've held off on posting recipes that use seitan as a major ingredient (except for Vegan Baked Ziti). This has been hard, because we often have a meal every week that uses seitan as a primary ingredient. But since this post is here now, I'll be posting more recipes with seitan in the future. 

Seitan cut into strips for Seitan au Jus (one of Shana's favorites). 

24 June 2013

No Power Means No Cooking

Hello lovely readers. I've not forgotten you, I promise. It's just that we've been traveling (Vegas and Minnesota so far) and that means less cooking. In addition, over half a million people have been without power in Minnesota after a major storm went through on Friday night (which we drove through). Although power has been restored to well over 400,000 people, we're still without it, which also makes cooking difficult. My sincerest apologies.

The post "No Power Means No Cooking" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

16 June 2013

Vegan Fruit Pizza

A good friend had a baby shower yesterday! In planning for it, she and I decided a mid-afternoon shower, full of light snacks, no awful games, and some fun activities would be best. So, we played Baby Shower Bingo, Baby Shower Trivia, painted onesies, and had a competition to see who would not say the word "baby." Prizes of small indoor plants were given to the winner of the bingo, trivia, "don't say baby" activities, as well as to the person who had her/his creepy little baby-in-an-ice-cube melt first. Good times.

Another faculty member in my department and I did all the food for the shower. She made vegan cupcakes and mini non-vegan quiches. I brought veggies & dip, pita chips and pretzels with hummus, and fruit pizza.

with the glaze
Whole thing, before adding the glaze
The first time I made this fruit pizza was actually for my dissertation defense. I was incredibly nervous and decided to deal with my nerves by cooking things. Plus, since it's traditional to bring food to your dissertation defense at my school, I had stuff to bring with me. This fruit pizza got rave reviews (as did my dissertation - coincidence?), but I hadn't made it in so long that it was time to bring it out again. The baby shower was the perfect opportunity!

14 June 2013

Vegan Viands #11: Sugar Cookies

Tonight I dug two recipes out of my cookbook (speaking of which, my cookbook is an amazing present that Shana gave me a number of Christmases ago and it's where the title of this blog comes from). The first one was this sugar cookie recipe.

A number of years ago, while I was still in grad school, my advisor and I planned a party. I have zero recollection of why we planned a party, or who came to the party, or really any details about it at all, aside from the fact that we were going to frost sugar cookies. My advisor's plan was to buy some sugar cookies from the store (I seem to recall that was because there were a ton of people coming, so to bake them would have taken ages), but we both knew that those cookies wouldn't be vegan. At that point, I decided I'd find a recipe for vegan sugar cookies so that I could frost cookies, too. I made the cookies a day before the party and they were awful. No joke. Since I still wanted cookies to frost, my next plan was to find a basic recipe that looked easy to veganize. I found one, veganized it, and they were perfect for frosting! I got to play at the party like everyone else (whatever party it was!).

I left this one sans frosting so you can envision what you'd like!

10 June 2013

Simple Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday morning was the first normal Sunday morning Shana and I have had in a while. Last Sunday we were driving to Philly, the Sunday before that was in State College, and the Sunday before that I was in Jordan. I guess we'll actually only have one more normal Sunday before all of our summer travels start, too.

I love two* things about Sunday mornings. First, I get the local paper and Indianapolis paper delivered to my doorstep and I read both with a cup of french-pressed coffee. Second, I often make a fun breakfast for Shana and I (once she gets up, anyway). Usually the special breakfast is nothing more than pancakes or waffles, but we decided that we wanted to eat cinnamon rolls yesterday. Many recipes for cinnamon rolls require yeast and long rising times, but these are far easier! Although they don't have quite the tenderness of a yeast-dough, they are still soft and their ease makes up for any lack in tenderness.

04 June 2013

Vegan Viands #10: Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

We're in Philly this week for an unplanned visit. When we come, we stay with my in-laws (Shana's brother and his family). In addition, we've got Shana's older sister in from California and tonight also had her mom and step-dad over for dinner. Given that we've had a lot going on, we needed to plan a simple dinner that would feed a crowd, taste good to omnivores and veg*ans and kids, and come together quickly. We decided that such a meal was my vegan spaghettios and grilled foil packets full of broccoli. I think dinner was a hit because my osum* niece made me a card about how much she loved it.

More importantly, nearly everyone in attendance has a sweet tooth, so we also needed a quick and easy dessert. Since it's getting to be close to summer berry season, the best, easiest, and tastiest dessert would be strawberry shortcake. The recipe below fit the bill and is super delicious, too!

With sweetened Mimiccreme - my favorite!

With a whipped topping

30 May 2013

Maggie's Vegan Quiche

Now that I'm back from my trip to Jordan, I feel like my summer is actually starting. I spent the past few days organizing little bits of things from the end of the semester (though I've more work to do) and even got some good "summer work" done today (data analysis and manuscript writing).

However, what makes it really feel like summer is that my mind is whirring with plans for all the things I want to try to cook! As of right now, my dining room table is covered with cookbooks and I've got a running list going. For example, there are couple of Peruvian recipes from World Vegan Feast I've been eyeing, I got a couple of ingredients that are hard to find here when we were gone over Memorial Day weekend some fun recipes I haven't made in a while (vegan whoopie pies, anyone?), and just today I got a new cookbook in the mail (Let Them Eat Vegan) that I won in a giveaway.

With all that said, tonight I opted for a tried and true recipe. Shana stayed in Indy tonight for a "meet the new families" school function, which meant that I could do what I wanted for dinner. I opted for vegan quiche, because Shana keeps trying to tell herself she doesn't like it (even though the last time I made she ate 1/4 of it herself). The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made with veggies you likely have hanging out in your fridge. My preference is green things (broccoli, spinach, etc.), but veggies like mushrooms or peppers would also be delicious. Regardless of what you put in it, this recipe will get eaten up whenever you make it. I've taken it to brunches and served it to guests for breakfast and dinner, and it always disappears.

27 May 2013

Lazy Dinner Pizza

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind! Since the beginning of May, I've finished the semester, given and graded finals, calculated final grades, attended commencement, traveled to Jordan for a week (in the Middle East) and back, and driven to see my best friends. Given all of this, plus the condiments-only state of our refrigerator (okay, technically we had a head of cabbage, some nuts, some carrots, and a few beers in there, too), it should come as no surprise that I wasn't much in the mood for cooking tonight.

We can certainly find places here in town where we can go out to eat, but we'd done that a lot recently and wanted something easy to eat at home. In situations like this, our go to dinner tends to be pizza. Thus, at the end of our 7+ hour drive, we stopped at the store to pick up ingredients for pizza dinner. 

I would love to tell you that our pizza uses only wonderfully healthy ingredients and that I make my dough and sauce from scratch, but I don't. Maybe someday I will do those things, but that pizza certainly won't be a lazy dinner pizza. Instead, this lazy dinner pizza relies on foods that you can find in nearly any grocery store (except for maybe the vegan cheese, but even that's gaining serious ground as far as store-space is concerned). It's not fancy and it stretches the boundaries of "homemade," but it sure is delicious, easy, and vegan. Some nights, that's all I need. 

14 May 2013

Maggie's Three Bean Salad

Just about a week ago I had my semi-annual Minion Dinner. Last Tuesday I had 7 "Minions" over (3 RAs and 4 TAs) for dinner and games. Although it rained a bit, we still had a great early summer get-together; they are such a great group! Because this was one of the bigger groups within the recent past, I was a little bit at a loss about what to make for dinner for everyone. However, after borrowing a grill from the neighbors, the meal was set. We had:
Maggie's Three Bean Salad

Shana and I normally eat grilled foil packets on their own, but I worried that non-vegan folks wouldn't feel full after only eating veggies, so I added the rice and the bean salad. I'd made a three bean salad before, but I couldn't remember what I'd put on it as a dressing. Plus, a google search yields a different recipe at every single hit. This obviously meant I had to make my own recipe. As we were eating, a couple of my minions asked me if various recipes were on my blog (I've been more vocal about that fact that this blog exists), which I found very touching. One of them asked specifically about this salad; I promised her I'd post it. A.M., this post is for you. 

09 May 2013

Fried Rice

Today is a big day, folks. First, this morning was my last final. As of right now, final grades for two of my classes are entered. One more to go. I have to read/grade 16 final papers, calculate those grades, enter those grades, give comments to another faculty member about the senior papers for which I'm the second reader, and then I'm done for the semester.

Second, here are a few things you may or may not know about me. I am originally from Minnesota. I am incredibly proud of being from Minnesota (perhaps more proud than a Minnesotan would show - only funny if you're from Minnesota). There are so many things that make my state awesome. Unrelated to being from Minnesota, I'm also a lesbian. That Shana character I talk about? She's my wife. In fact, the name of my blog is from a cookbook that she made for me and it's a play on the word lesbian. And that's me, a lesbian vegan. Today, my Minnesota world and my lesbian world started to collide, as the Minnesota House of Representatives voted to support same-sex marriage. Amazing. While the State Senate still needs to vote and the Gov. needs to sign things, both of those are expected to occur without a hitch.

With both of those good things happening today, tonight's delicious dinner (and the glass of red wine and celebratory cupcakes I'm cooking) was a great addition to my happy day. While I hesitate to call this an actual recipe, it's a really quick, easy, and incredibly tasty meal.

07 May 2013

Vegan Viands #9: Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Tonight was spring semester's minion dinner. Like last semester's dinner (and every one before that), we had a ton of fun. It rained a bit early on, so we didn't get to play as many outdoor games as I would have liked, but we got in some game playing and some laughing and, of course, some eating. I find warm-weather meals more difficult to make for a crowd, but we decided to do grilled foil packets, a great rice blend, and a three-bean salad. The packets are customizable and most people seem to enjoy choosing their own veggies to put in; everyone is amazed at how the veggies turn out.

However, tonight's dessert was really the big deal for most of them. I actually made two desserts: cake cookies and these delicious and easy raspberry cheesecake bites. These little bite-size desserts were gone in next to no time. Perfect for a dessert, shower, or brunch, the only thing you need to worry about is making sure you get at least one before they are gone!

06 May 2013

Crockpot White Bean & Kale Soup

Last night's dinner was one of those meals that just feels good in your tummy and soul. It's simple and uses wholesome ingredients, and just a few ingredients at that. I feel silly even calling this a "recipe." However, it's so good that I can't help but to share it. In addition, since most of it is crock-pot based, Shana and I eat this nearly year-round. Warm soup in the winter, doesn't heat up the kitchen in the summer.  Last night was cool enough that we turned on the oven for a bit to have some crusty bread, too. 

I'm lying a little bit when I say this is a crockpot recipe. Although you could do almost all of it in the crockpot, I do not, for various reasons. I saute the onions & garlic before they go in the crockpot, as doing so increases the flavor and makes sure the onions are nice and soft. In addition, while you can add the pasta to the soup in the last hour of cooking, I don't like the texture of it quite as much. Finally, the kale must be cooked separately, because as it cooks it imparts a bitter flavor to the soup. Thus, I end up with a crockpot full of only a few things cooking away all day. Having tried this soup without the crockpot, however, it's just not quite the same (still good, but not as good).

04 May 2013

Chicklets (Chickpea Cutlets)

I love cookbooks. I mean, I really LOVE them. When I get a new one, I read it cover to cover, just like a novel. I put in little bookmarks of scrap paper when I find a recipe in there I want to try, or I'll make a list on a big page as I go through the book, or both. I've got 25 cookbooks on my "Food" Amazon wishlist. One of the cookbooks that has led to a few of our favorite meals (include Penne Vodka and Seitan au Jus) is Veganomicon. It's the closest thing the vegan world has to The Joy of Cooking, if you don't count Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and it's been great to have at my fingertips since my dad give it to me a few Christmases ago.

Easily one of the more talked-about recipes before and right after the release of Veganomicon, Chickpea Cutlets have become a staple meal at our house, like many vegan households in the US. I've been wanting to post this recipe for a while, we just haven't had it recently. But, it came up in this week's meal-planning, so I jumped on the opportunity to make it. My deviations from the original recipe are both planned (the spices) and a happy accident (the amount of chickpeas I use). The original recipe calls for 1 cup of chickpeas, but I read 1 can. Whoops. Since the recipe turned out so well, I haven't bothered to change it back. Plus, this is a recipe that is incredibly omnivore-friendly. In fact, it's so good that my mom (who isn't always excited about trying new vegan food) requests them!

30 April 2013

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Spring has finally sprung over much of the continent (looking at you, Minnesotans!), which means it's asparagus season! Have you read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver? It's a story about a family who lives on a local (and homegrown) diet as much as possible for a year. In one section of the book, Kingsolver discusses asparagus at length; it's quite interesting. One of the things she mentions about asparagus is the relatively short time during which asparagus is in season. That time is now, folks. Grab your asparagus and get cooking (seriously, we're having it three times this week).

Generally, I opt to oven roast or grill asparagus, but I was paging through my cookbooks and found a recipe I wanted to try. Shana seemed to be on board for trying new recipes this week (three!), as well. Tonight, accompanied by my very favorite wild rice, we tried this soup. It was quite good, with a velvety mouth feel and great balance of flavors, while still tasting of asparagus.

EDIT: As of May 2019, I've updated this recipe! It's still velvety, spring-inspired, and asparagus-tasting, but I've updated it to make it even better for you by adding more protein! For those who loved the original version, I've kept it in the Helpful Hints below. 

In addition, I would just like to say thank you to those of you who are reading my blog. As of this morning, my blog has gotten over 5000 hits in less than one year. I'm amazed and feel quite honored.