Archive | January, 2009

Best Pumpkin Muffins

24 Jan

Vegan with a Vengeance, you’ve done it again. This time I made your Best Pumpkin Muffins recipe, and I think it’s my favorite muffin recipe in the book. Not too sweet, and moist and good and spicy.  I only have one more muffin recipe to go and then I’ll have made every muffin in the book!



Spicy Spiced Parsnip Soup

22 Jan

Bret forgot I was making soup and got all cranky about what he should eat for dinner last night.

1/21/2009 – Spicy Parsnip Soup.  Never forget.

I’ve been in love with parsnips for a very long time.  My nannie used to cook them and I couldn’t get enough.  As part of a soup, parsnips can be pretty overwhelming.  But this soup is supposed to taste like parsnips.  And it does!

This recipe came from Jane Spice, and I took a few liberties to make it into a full meal in a bowl.  Bret wanted brown rice with dinner instead of bread.  I love rice, and I love my rice cooker so we were on.  I also felt like the soup was more of a spiced parsnip soup than a spicy one, so we added sriracha.  Mmm, sriracha.  Here’s the recipe as I made it:

Spicy Spiced Parsnip Soup


1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced thinly

4 cups water

2 veggie bouillon cubes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp.  ground coriander

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 Tbsp. canola oil

cooked rice and sriracha


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until softened.  Add the garlic cloves and spices and cook until fragrant.  Then add the parsnips, water, and bouillon cubes.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for about fifteen minutes, until the parsnips are soft.  Blend in batches or with an immersion blender.

Put some rice in a serving bowl, if you like.  Top with soup and mix.  Add sriracha to taste!  I like less, Bret likes LOTS.

Yum yum yum.  We both ate one bowl and were sufficiently stuffed.

– Ellen

Vegan Enchiladas and Cilantro and Lime Rice

15 Jan

Ellen and I haven’t had a lot of luck with enchiladas in the past. The last time we tried it, it ended up tasting like tin can. This time was a bit better. We used Paul McCartney’s vegan enchilada recipe (well, the filling part anyway) and I also made lime and cilantro rice that is apparently served at a restaurant I’ve never heard of called Chipotle’s. I’d like to make the enchiladas again with refried beans on top and maybe find some way to firm up the tofu before putting it in the filling, but it was all good. Oh, and the rice is great. I am supersensitive to cilantro and it’s easy to turn me off to a dish by adding too much, but the amount in this is just right.


Rosemary Focaccia

8 Jan

I’ve made bread a total of two times in my life. I always wanted to, but the time commitment seemed daunting. If I go out, what if I don’t get back in time to punch the dough down? Will it keep growing until it takes over my apartment? I think I read a story about that happening when I was a kid.

Another thing keeping me from making my own bread is what doctors would call “yeast anxiety”. Maybe the bread wont rise. I don’t want to be a bread failure.

I’m slowly getting over my bread disorders, and I’ve made this focaccia twice. The first time Bret was there to help if I needed it. He used to work in a bakery and he knows bread. But it turns out that the only help I needed from him was when it came to eating it.

Since I’m currently out of a job (until my new one starts up), I have all the time in the world to bake bread. So I decided to do it again, and take pictures!

The recipe I use came from Epicurious. It’s a good recipe. I haven’t yet made it with the olive topping, but I do love olives so I’m sure it will happen. I had some leftover rosemary from making the white bean dip for the New Year’s party. I love rosemary. It was begging to be part of my focaccia.

Rosemary Focaccia, or whatever kind of topping you choose


2 cups warm water

2 tsp. dry yeast

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (and more for dusting your work surface and adding to the dough if needed)

2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

chopped rosemary or whatever else you might want to throw on top


Put the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Mix it around with a fork and let it sit for about 10 minutes to dissolve.

Add 4 1/4 cups of flour and the salt to the water and yeast and stir until a sticky dough forms. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour to make the dough less sticky if you need to. Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl. Cover that with plastic wrap and let it sit somewhere warm for about 1 1/2 hours until it is doubled.

Once it’s doubled, punch the dough down (my favorite part!), knead it again on a floured surface and reshape into a ball. Place it back in the same bowl, cover and let sit until doubled again, about 45 minutes or so.

Punch the dough down again! Yeah!

Place it on an oiled baking sheet and press out to a rectangle shape, about 10×12 inches or so. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then drizzle the two tablespoons of oil on top and sprinkle with rosemary or whatever you have to sprinkle. I also added some coarse salt. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 25 minutes.

Make little indentations all over the bread with your fingers. I’m not sure exactly what this does other than make little puddles of olive oil deliciousness. But do it anyway. Cook in a preheated 475F oven for about 20 minutes until it’s brown and puffy.

Oh focaccia, you are so pretty.

I roasted a head of garlic for Bret and I to eat with it too!

And Bret got some tomatoes and basil. It was a carby meal, but so tasty.

– Ellen

TVP and Habanero Chili (Cashew Remix)

4 Jan

Cooking is a learning experience. I thought about making this post like I’m a cooking expert, but I will let you in on a secret. What I am going to tell you is how I plan on making this chili next time. This time my normally awesome chili was not that great. There’s two big things I learned.

The first is, if you’re going to use canned tomatoes find a brand that you can rely on. I bought the el cheapo Topps brand of crushed tomatoes to make this recipe, and I regret it. For one, it tasted funny. For two, it was not crushed tomatoes. It was tomato sauce. I thought maybe I had forgotten what crushed tomatoes are supposed to be like, but Ellen confirmed it. Laaame. Probably the best course of action is to use fresh tomatoes which is something I’m beginning to experiment with but that can take a long time. So from now on I am not going to skimp when it comes to buy canned tomatoes.

Second, cashews soften up when you cook them. It didn’t occur to me that they would. So, I’ve modified the recipe to take that into account. Soft cashews aren’t horrible, but it’s not what I wanted. I wanted a nice, crunchy consistency. Putting the cashews in too early also cooked the flavor out of them.

So one lesson, one minor modification. But that’s what makes cooking fun. If your tastebuds are operational, you can judge the quality of what you’ve made, and you can adapt for next time! Also check out the sweet bowls Ellen’s sister gave her. I need to get some nicer plattering dishes. Anyway!


2 tablespoons vegetable oil of your preference

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 habanero peppers, diced (use gloves if you’ve never cooked with habaneros before)

2 28 oz. cans of tomatoes – I use one can crushed and one can whole but you could do whatever

2 15 oz. cans of appropriate chili beans – if you like beans a lot throw in another can

1 cup TVP (this measure could be off because I just dumped a bunch in by eyeball – it might have been closer to 2)

1/2 a small bottle of Dos Equis

1 1/2 cups of roasted cashews


Put the oil in the bottom of a big kettle. Saute the bell pepper and onion until it’s nice and soft. Now just dump in everything else. Yeah! Dump it!

So, I dump the beans in water and all but some people think that’s a bad idea. If you agree, rinse the beans off and and add, like, two cups of water.

Add cumin to taste! Or not. Ellen thinks it’s just fine without cumin, and I have made some very good cuminless chili before. The kettle before this on that I made turned out really, really good without it. The habanero gives it a good flavor and heat.

Then let it cook for a long time. Like, until the TVP gets soft, but since this is chili if you just put it in a slow cooker and leave it alone it’ll be good.

Before it’s all ready to serve, dump in the cashews. Let the chili cook for another minute or two, and it’s ready.


New Year’s Snacks: Pita Chips and White Bean Dip

1 Jan

Happy New Year!

Ellen and I went to a New Year’s party at our friends’ house. Since Ellen is more considerate than I am she asked if we could bring anything. The answer was yes – snacks! So Ellen decided to make white bean dip and I worried about what I should make and then decided on pita chips. They would go with just about any other dip that was served there, and especially with Ellen’s white bean dip.

So the way to make it it is easy. Take a pita, cut it in half. No, not into two half-moons. Cut it down the sides so that you have two discs. Now brush both sides with olive oil. Okay, now cut it into quarters, put it on a tray, and bake it for about 10 minutes at 375°. When the chips are crisp or crispyish, they’re done. I seasoned mine with garlic powder and coarse salt. They were good!


Yeah New Year’s snacks!  Really, my consideration was just an excuse to make white bean dip, because I’ve really been craving it.  Plus the people that threw the party are some of the best hosts ever.  They always give us food and make tasty drinks whenever we’re there.  It makes me want to be a good host.  Maybe someday I’ll get a couch for my apartment and then have somewhere for people to sit and then I can start trying to be a good host.

But anyway!  I made dip!

White bean dips are pretty easy.

I took two 15oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed them and drained them and mixed them in my blender with three cloves of garlic, 2 tsp. of fresh rosemary, 1/2 cup of parsley, and the zest and juice of a lemon.  Then I whizzed it around in my blender until it was a dip.  If you have a better blender than I do, it will probably be ready really quickly.

It went perfectly with Bret’s pita chips!  Hooray for teamwork!

– Ellen