Butternut Alfredo, for Real This Time

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Last night we finally made the Roasted Butternut Alfredo that we so wholly failed to make on Sunday night. However, our dinner was not void of forgetful failures – I totally forgot to roast the Brussels sprouts I’d intended to make as a side. D’oh. Ah well – the pasta was quite filling, so we didn’t really notice the absence of a side.

Top-down view of a white bowl filled with whole-wheat fusilli drenched in an orangey-yellow sauce and topped with black pepper and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Saucy!

Alas, my alfredo wasn’t nearly as pretty as Isa’s. Of course, that might’ve had more to do with my hasty attempt to capture the last remaining bit of sunlight as I shivered on the balcony while photographing my meal at 6:00 PM than any fault of the recipe! That said, while this sauce was quite tasty and rich, there was something about it that wasn’t quite right to me. I think that the inclusion of miso and nutritional yeast and lemon made the flavors a little crowded – they weren’t quite cohesive. Next time I’ll likely cut the nutritional yeast. And I’m pretty sure there will be a next time – I can imagine a dish like this fitting quite well into my winter meal rotation. It’s warming and rich and filling – everything you could want in a winter dinner.

So I just realized that this is my final VeganMoFo post because I’m writing it on the 30th and it’ll go up on the 31st, which is (obviously!) the last day of October. Egads! Happy Halloween and all that. And happy end of MoFo. It’s been a mostly successful month for me if my metric is quantity of posts. As far as quality… well, I wish I’d done another Recipe Showdown, and I’m disappointed in myself for not sharing more original recipes. But that’s okay. I mostly satisfied with my participation this month. And more importantly, I don’t feel burned out, which means I’ll have no trouble keeping up with steady posting in the busy months to come. Small victories! Anyway, thanks for reading this month, and I do hope you’ll stay around. I’ve got some exciting things coming your way! I’m testing for a fabulous new cookbook by a talented author, and I can’t wait to show you what I’ll be whipping up. :)

What, if anything, are you doing for Halloween?

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From Butternut Alfredo to Indian Food in a Box

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Last night’s dinner was something of a lesson in humility. The plan was to make Roasted Butternut Alfredo; the recipe had been tempting me for a week and I’d roasted and pureed my butternut squash on Saturday in preparation. All we needed was white wine, because the wine we’d gambled on at the co-op on Sunday turned out not to be vegan (winemakers, y u gotta filter your wine with fish bladders and egg albumin?!). After work, S rushed off to World Market to purchase some animal-friendly wine while I set out to prep the rest of the meal.

I opened my laptop, pulled up the recipe, and immediately realized I’d made a huge mistake. The night before, as I’d begun to drift off to sleep (only to dream of Ann Romney’s back and Barack Obama failing to find vegan food for me in London – no lie), I’d remembered that the recipe required soaked cashews.

“It’ll be okay,” I’d said to myself. “I’ll just start soaking them in the morning.”

Because, y’know, we always remember to do what we tell ourselves to do just before falling asleep, right? Yeah… no. Anyway, once I realized my terrible error, I called S and abashedly apologized. He took it in stride and decided to pick up the wine anyway since we’d need it tomorrow. I settled onto the couch with Moria to contemplate dinner and ponder my failure.

You see, I am not the forgetful one in our relationship. That title definitely goes to S. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met people with worse memories… but things do tend to slide out of his brain rather easily. Sometimes I might react a little harshly, because I am impatient and I have an irritatingly sharp memory. (Have you ever had to pretend you didn’t remember some little tiny detail an acquaintance mentioned once in conversation three years earlier? Yeah, it’s… awkward.) Anyway,  this error on my part chastened me a bit. I felt guilty for forgetting and for throwing off our dinner plans at the last moment.

And then the door opened, and S walked in empty-handed. I raised my eyebrows.

“I forgot my driver’s license, so they wouldn’t sell me the wine. They’re holding it for me.”

I smiled and forgave him graciously, when perhaps in another circumstance I would’ve been annoyed and sharp-tongued. My personal moment of forgetfulness was, er, forgotten, and our world was back in kilter.

Oh, and dinner? I told S to pick up one of those Indian meals in a box when he returned to World Market to get the wine. We served it with rice, and it was lazy eating at its finest. Neither S nor I could possibly have messed this one up!

Small rectangular box. The brand is Asian Passage; it's North Indian Baigan Bharta.

Embarrassingly easy.

What do you do when your dinner plans change at the last minute? Are you forgetful?

The Ugliest Cookies in the World (except, not really)

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Full disclosure: these aren’t reaaally the ugliest cookies in the world. They’re just… they’re not pretty, but they’re not aggressively ugly enough to be charming or appealing. Instead, they’re uncomfortably misshapen, with half-hearted hatching and odd little bits sticking out.

I didn’t set out to make ugly cookies on Saturday night. I was watching an episode of SVU (I wasn’t joking in my other post!) and wanted a break from knitting, so I decided to make cookies. I’d roasted up and pureed a big ol’ butternut squash earlier that day, so I decided to use squash in place of pumpkin. I turned to a favorite cookbook – Vegan With a Vengeance, of course! – and flipped to the cookie section. The Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies were exactly what I craved, so I blithely set to work… only to discover, mid-mixing, that I didn’t have any rolled oats. Whaaa? I always have oats! I must’ve brought them to work and forgot to bring them home. So, instead of using oats, I just upped the flour content and hoped for the best. I also added mini chocolate chips in place of the raisins and walnuts because, ew, raisins.

Five cookies arrayed on a long white rectangular serving platter. Off-center and out of focus are two small orange gourds.

Sad hatch marks.

Okay, I know that the front cookie doesn’t look all that ugly. But the rest of them are odd-looking! I swear!

…looks aside, these are still pretty tasty. Not the best pumpkin/squash cookies I’ve ever had, but certainly good enough to sate me. I’ll just need to remember to bring my oats home from work so that my next batch is even better!

What do you do when you realize you’re out of an ingredient mid-baking?

A Simple Dal for a Chilly Day

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When S returned home around 9:30 this morning, he was quite tired. (Two hours of sleep will do that to ya.) We lazed around on the couch with books and the pup for a while, but eventually he retreated to the bed for a nap. Moria followed – she prefers cuddling with me most of the time, but when someone’s on the bed, all bets are off. So while she and Steven slumbered, I made a comforting, warm dal to fill us up on this cold day.

Top-down view of a small white bowl filled with a bright yellow dal, topped with a couple wilting sprigs of cilantro.

Pardon my sad cilantro…

The dal I encounter at restaurants tends to be much thinner, with more of a noticeable broth. When I cook with split yellow peas, however, my dal ends up being much thicker – and I’m fine with that. This dal had diced and sauteed onions and garlic, along with just the right amount of spices. It was surprisingly filling, too – I was more than full after that relatively small bowl. If only my cilantro hadn’t been wilt-y and old – it would’ve been a perfect topping! :)

What’s your preferred dal – thin or, um, thick?

When S Is Away…

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…Kelly will play. And by “play,” I obviously mean “watch eXtReMe amounts of Law and Order: SVU on Netflix while knitting.” As one does.

S is out of town till tomorrow (Sunday) morning, so I’ve had a quiet Saturday to myself. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day – the internet told me it was about 45˚, but it felt more like the upper thirties, despite the bright sun. I couldn’t stay indoors on a day like that, so I walked down to a shopping center near my apartment and stopped by a couple stores. I giggled over an ergonomic-keyboard-shaped chocolate bar at Marshalls, picked up a few goodies at World Market, and halfheartedly looked for non-leather, narrow-shaft boots at DSW. (For the record, it’s really hard to find boots that meet those specifications. Curse my skinny calves!)

I did, however, manage to spend some cash moneyz at World Market. Besides picking up a handy tube of tomato paste (so much better than the kind in the little cans!), I discovered that World Market carries vegan mochi! Woohoo! I’d only ever eaten the vegan ice cream mochi that Trader Joe’s used to carry; it was majorly delicious and I’ll stock my freezer if they ever start selling it again. Anyway, I picked up the intriguing peanut variety:

Head-on shot of a box of Japanese Style Peanut Mochi. There are Japanese characters on the box.

Legit.

When I got home from my walk, I decided to warm up by noshing on mochi and a hot beverage. Wary of coffee after last Saturday’s unfortunate incident, I opted for hot chocolate. But not just any hot chocolate. No, I whipped out an ingredient I’d stashed away last December when my sister charmingly gave it to me for Christmas:

Head-on photo of a red carton of West Soy's Chocolate Peppermint Stick soy milk.

Blurrier than expected…

Oh yes, I loves me some seasonal soy milks! I poured some milk in a little pot, added my favorite Ghirardelli hot chocolate powder, and opened up my mochi package while I waited for my chocolate to get nice and steamy.

Top-down shot of a carton of mochi, wrapped in plastic packaging with Japanese characters. The mochi is under plastic, and each piece sits in a little red wrapper.

Mochi, wrapped.

If you can’t tell, each piece has its own little red wrapper, like a mini muffin cup. So cute!

As soon as my drink was ready, I settled down to a leisurely half hour of sipping peppermint hot chocolate, munching mochi, and reading the ever-entertaining Willy Street Co-op newsletter (the letters to the editor never fail to amuse me).

Top-down view of a yellow mug filled with hot chocolate and a single piece of mochi sitting in its red wrapper. Both items are on an open newspaper.

Bliss.

I wasn’t let down by any element of my afternoon – the chocolate was rich and just peppermint-y enough, the letters were just as entertaining as ever, and the mochi was delicious! I wasn’t sure how sweet it would be, but it was just right – slightly sweetened, but not at all overly sugary. The peanut was understated, not overpowering but definitely present. Mmm. I can’t wait to go back and try the other varieties – I definitely saw green tea, sesame, and red bean. How exciting!

Top-down view of a single piece of mochi with a small bite taken out of it.

Mid-eating.

Tonight I’m going to refrain from eating the rest of the mochi while I watch more SVU and do more knitting. Yep, I’m a wild one. ;)

What are your alone-day indulgences? How do you feel about mochi?

Friday Favorite: Pumpkin Everything!

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So this week’s Friday Favorite is kind of a cop-out. I didn’t really make any of my standby recipes this week, so I figured that instead I’d go generic with this one. And by generic, I mean I’m focusing on a single fruit that is definitely an autumn favorite: pumpkin!

Just yesterday I told you about the pumpkin French toast I made to accompany a tofu scramble. What I didn’t tell you was why I decided to make it in the first place. You see, a week or so ago, I made a mistake I hadn’t made for two years: during a rushed trip to the grocery store, I accidentally purchased a can of pumpkin pie mix instead of plain old pumpkin puree. My wrath when I realized my careless error was towering, but eventually it subsided and laziness edged out my anger. Instead of returning the mix, I decided to use it. It was the perfect choice for the French toast mixture; I just used less almond milk because the pie mix is more liquidy than regular pumpkin puree. After the bread had finished soaking in its their pumpkin-y bath, I had a soupy mixture of mostly pumpkin, almond milk, and spices left. It seemed a waste to throw it out, so… I made it into muffins.

Close-up of a white rectangular plate corner with a pumpkin muffin in focus. In the back left is another muffin, this one out of focus, and in the back right is a small orange gourd.

Gourd!

Yep, that’s pretty much exactly what I did last time I accidentally purchased pie mix. These muffins, though, were about 50% more delicious than the ones I made last time. They’re also a little less healthy, but them’s the breaks. I’m pretty proud of these muffins, actually. Usually when I create a recipe from scratch, I measure out my ingredients, just to get a sense of how much of each is going into the batter or the dough. For these muffins, though, I went on intuition alone, adding a pinch here and a scoop there and trusting my baking skillz to tell me when the batter was ready. And you know what? My baking skillz must be pretty darn good these days, because my muffins turned out pretty darn well – fluffy, moist, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet. You can’t go wrong with molasses, dark brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spices!

How strong are your intuitive baking skillz? What do you do with accidental/unwanted purchases?

Vegan Staples: Tofu, Scrambled

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Somehow, I’ve totally neglected tofu so far in my Vegan Staples series. A travesty! Tofu is definitely one of my staple foods. I don’t usually eat it more than once a week, but it’s so versatile that I just can’t help but add it to many meals. Last night, I used it in dish that’s really a bedrock of vegan cookery – tofu scramble.

Shallow plate of tofu scramble with visible red peppers and avocado. In the background is a plate of pumpkin French toast.

Scrambled!

Tofu scramble is probably the easiest tofu-based dish to make. As long as you add ample spices and don’t make it too watery, you really can’t mess it up. For this batch, I used a locally made tofu, and it had the perfect texture after a stint in the Tofu Xpress. I added canned diced tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, lots of onion, garlic, red Bell peppers, and all sorts of spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, freshly ground black pepper, salt, and a spray or two of Bragg’s. I topped it with diced avocado, which really takes a scramble over the top. I completed my breakfast-for-dinner theme by using some stale French bread in pumpkin French toast. Both dishes were super simple to whip up, yet S called them, collectively, the best dinner I’ve made in a while. If only I’d known it was so easy! :)

What are your go-to tofu scramble ingredients?

Cheesy Mac & Broccoli

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Some nights you get home from work and just want something easy, cheesy, and… something else that ends in “-eesy.” Ahem. And that’s when you make a mish-mash of a meal, throwing ingredients together, dousing it in a creamy sauce, and calling it dinner. It’s like a vegan Hamburger Helper (not that I’ve ever eaten non-vegan HH!) and some sort of beefy macaroni and cheese dish all mixed into one bowl of comfort-food deliciousness.

Top-down view of a bowl full of creamy elbow macaroni, broccoli, and crumbled Gardein burgers.

Cheesy, creamy goodness.

Last night, I used elbow pasta, canned diced tomatoes, fresh broccoli, and a crumbled Gardein burger patty. I covered it all with a simple sauce, a hodge-podge of a recipe that’s versatile and easy to customize. This time, it contained:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Unsweetend soy milk
  • Flour
  • Garlic and onion powders
  • Paprika
  • Frontier No-Chicken Broth powder
  • Mild yellow miso
  • Salt & pepper
  • A bit of Earth Balance

I also threw a bit of cornstarch in at the end to help thicken it up. It was the perfect mild accompaniment to the macaroni mish-mash. I have to say, though, that I was very disappointed in the Gardein burger. I’ve really liked the other Gardein products I’ve tried, but the burger tasted like a slightly improved Boca patty – blech. Luckily for me, S liked it, and I gave him all of my burger bits. :)

What’s your go-to cheesy sauce?

Debate Distraction: Cookie Bites

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Confession: I have a difficult time watching the presidential debates. The contention and discord make me a little anxious; I have to distract myself and focus some of my attention elsewhere. And how better to distract myself than by baking? During the three presidential and one vice-presidential debates over the last month or so, I’ve baked up lots and lots of delicious sweet treats. Last night, I finally made a recipe that I’ve been drooling over since it showed up on my feed: cookie bites. Chewy, slightly underbaked pillows of chocolate-chip studded cookie goodness? Count me in. I couldn’t find any adorable autumn sprinkles like those used in the original recipe, but S picked up some Halloween-themed sprinkles for me last week, and they were just as good.

Shot of the front of a rectangular platter with round cookie bite balls surrounded by sprinkles shaped like ghosts, pumpkins, and bats.

Doughy bites!

My quick photo doesn’t quite do these treats justice, but you get the idea. The recipe allegedly yields twelve bits, but I must’ve made mine a bit bigger because I only got ten. No matter! They were still perfectly yummy. I used whole-wheat pastry flour instead of the straight whole-wheat flour called for, and I worried that S would find them grainy. Nope! I heard many sounds of gastronomical enjoyment as he munched his way through a few bites. Success!

What recipe have you been meaning to make for a while?

Purple Fried Rice

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Happy Monday! Happy indeed – I’ve had no ill effects from my sleepless Saturday night (to be fair, I slept for about three hours after posting). I took Sunday easy – as all Sundays should be taken – and as such don’t have much to say about it, food-wise. So how about a little throwback? All the way back to… last week. Heh.

Plate of purplish-pink fried rice with cabbage, broccoli, and cilantro on the side.

Colorful rice.

Before I started dating S, I’d never cooked rice in a rice cooker – I always used the stovetop. Now that we live together and have his rice cooker, we almost always use it make big batches of rice. The leftovers are perfect in not-so-fried rice. S whipped up this batch, which turned a pleasing purply-pink thanks to the addition of some thinly sliced cabbage. He also included onions, garlic, broccoli, and tofu. Simple, tasty, and oh-so-pretty!

What’s your favorite way to use leftover cooked rice?