Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The good, the bad and the awkward.

Hellooo, this is my first post of my first blog. I am not the most savvy at these kinds of things so bare with me. My goal for this blog is to share my vegan recipes, the good, the bad and the awkward. As well as cruetly-free products, design, up-thrifting/recycling projects, and crafting. I have been vegan for a little over a year now, vegetarian pretty much my whole life. I live on a simple budget, so I am learning how to cut corners without compromising my health and style, like many are too.  I have spent quite a while this year taking pictures and collecting vegan recipes. Some worked, some didn't. I've come to learn that it is all trial by error and more importantly that we all have completely different tastes. There are some recipes where you do not want to modify too much....but that is also where I have a lot fun. Her recipe may say "add onions", but I may add diced peppers instead. His recipe may say "add walnuts", I may add almonds. I cannot emphasis enough to just have fun and don't worry! You will not die from under cooked tofu or from eating raw vegan cookie dough. A challenge that I have been facing personally is high altitude baking. I had to train myself to remember that not everyone posting rad recipes live up here in Denver. So I have to modify to make it work. I had many flat cupcakes and breads in the beginning but I didn't let that bother me (my boyfriend always ate it all and said it was delicious).

Pictured above: My first vegan white cake...more like a vanilla brownie. Haha. The trick is to add 1/4 teaspoon more baking powder/baking soda...silly me.

My vision for this cake (maybe too big of a project for a first veg cake) was a Banana Split Layer Cake. The picture above looks crazy, but it was actually very delicious...smashed up in a bowl eaten with a spoon. I frosted the cake with chocolate frosting, layered with sliced bananas and strawberries, then layered the rest of the frosting and topped with chopped walnuts. I actually really love this picture. It is such a disaster, but also a reminder of the progress I've made this year.

So enough about my baking disaster. There is one dish that I have mastered (in my opinion) with help from my boyfriend...the vegan "Mac & "Cheese".  This dish has become a staple for us and many vegans these days. It's filling and super healthy. I found my first mac & "cheese" recipe online and made it exactly how they instructed. It was good, but definately had WAY too much vegetable oil and liquids. So we continued to read other recipes, putting together what we liked and adding ideas of our own, kind of like a food experiment. Finally we locked down our favorite version of this recipe. I would like to share it with you!
What you'll need:
1 Large casserole dish, or 2 loaf sized pans.
1 Large bowl/container for mixing the sauce.
Aluminum foil.
1 Box of pasta (any kind, we like shells)
1 Block tofu (firm or extra firm, you'll only use 3/4 of the block)
1 Cup Nutritional Yeast (This can be found in your local health food store in the bulk section, it's bright yellow, great cheese substitute. Ask an associate for help if you can't find it)
2 Teaspoons Oil (we use olive oil, but canola or veg work too)
1 Cup PLAIN vegan milk
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Mustard Powder (don't worry if you don't have any on hand, I've forgotten it before and it still tasted amazing)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Bread Crumbs (any vegan kind you can find, whole wheat or panko work great)

Step 1:
Boil pasta according to the directions on the box. While that is working, prepare the sauce.
Step 2:
Get our your large bowl/container for mixing. Take 3/4 of the block of tofu and crush it in the bowl, so it looks like ricotta cheese. Feel free to use a fork for crushing, I use my hands, it's fun. Add the nutritional yeast, oil, vegan milk, garlic powder, paprika, mustard powder and salt, all the ingredients except bread crumbs. Mix very well.
Step 3:
Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. When the pasta is ready, drain and put into casserole dish/pans. Pour the sauce over pasta and use a spoon to smooth it out evenly. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 min, take it out and layer the bread crumbs, as much or as little as you prefer. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 min. Everyone's ovens are different so your's may take longer, use your best judgement.
Step 4:
Let it cool for as long as you can take, dish up and enjoy! Sprinkle with veg parmesean, veg baco's or your favorite hot sauce if desired. Again, this is just how I like mine made, it is all about personal preference. Sometimes we add veg sour cream, chopped broccoli or use silken tofu. Check out other recipes and have yourself some fun :)

The final product plated up with a side of greens and fresh chopped artichoke hearts. Mmmm.

Here is a pan that we made and sprinkled with veg baco's and panko bread crumbs.
In addition to my own recipes and favorite vegan products I will also be sharing other blogs, books and tricks that really helped me transfer into a full vegan lifestyle. It did not happen over night, and slip ups happen. But I am lucky to have a lot of support from family and friends. Oddly enough you will find that a lot of people will be offended by your lifestyle choice. I just tell them it's what works for me, everyone is different. I have read in different books ways to deal with people like that and the questions people may ask you. I know I am doing the right thing for me and that is all that matters :)
Peace, love and veggies,