Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coffee Infused Chocolate Truffles

September 29th is National Coffee Day. Who knew? Not me, until the great folks at So Delicious let me know. And, they were gracious enough to give me some of their non dairy coffee creamer!  I am not one who normally puts cream in her coffee (why mess with perfection?). So, to celebrate I have created a recipe that incorporates both coffee and So Delicious non dairy coffee creamer.  Wow, non dairy never tasted so good!
















And, So Delicious has graciously given me some coupons for their non dairy creamer. If you would like to be entered into a drawing to win one either leave me a comment on this post (don't forget to leave an email address where I can contact you) or tweet the following:

@VeganVersion please enter me to win some @So_Delicious non dairy coffee creamer!

Do both to be entered twice!

[Update 9/30/2011: Congratulations to @coniecon and @cherylp3 on winning! The random number generator has chosen you to win the So Delicious coffee creamer! Thanks to all that entered!]

I had fun experimenting with the recipe for these. After a couple of false starts I think I have created the perfect truffle.

Coffee Infused Chocolate Truffles

16 oz vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup So Delicious Non Dairy Coffee Creamer
1/4 cup VERY strong coffee (or 1 tsp coffee extract if you can find it)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Place the chocolate chips in a bowl. Heat the non dairy creamer over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Pour over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for about five minutes.
















After five minutes stir the melted chocolate until very smooth. Add the coffee and continue to stir. If the chocolate is not totally melted you can heat in a double boiler over low heat (I did not need to do this).
















Place chocolate mixture (ganache) into the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely.  This will take at least an hour.  Once the ganache is set remove from the refrigerator and use a melon baller or your hands to make round balls.  Place on a tray lined with parchment paper and place the chocolate ganache balls back into the refrigerator for about fifteen minutes.  (Note: you may need to do this in batches returning the ganache to the refrigerator in between as when the ganache warms to room temperature it becomes more difficult to work with).
















Once the ganache balls have firmed up in the refrigerator roll each in the cocoa powder and serve. These can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature for about a month but I highly doubt that anyone could keep these delicious treats around that long!
















Oh, and if you are not feeling ambitious enough to make truffles you can always enjoy your So Delicious coffee creamer like this:
















So Delicious!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gearing Up-Vegan MoFo 2011

I have been a little bit quiet lately when it comes to blogging. But, the kitchen has been busier than ever gearing up for Vegan MoFo 2011.  I have been cooking like crazy creating all sorts of great vegan food to share with you come October. Here is a quick snapshot to give you an idea of  some of what is in store:


I am looking forward to continuing to create fantastic vegan food during the rest of September and all during the month of October!

But, for now....back to cooking :)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vegan MoFo 2011


The countdown to Vegan MoFo 2011 begins! Last year I watched in awe as so many bloggers participated in Vegan MoFo 2010 . So, this year I decided, "Oh what the heck" and signed up to participate! I am not exactly sure how I am going to get through blogging every day, especially given the demands of  family and a job that has me on the road quite a bit but I am going to give it my best shot!

The kitchen will be busier than ever!
I hope to use the month of October to experiment in the kitchen even more than usual (if that is possible) and hope to find some winning recipes to share with you along the way! Perhaps I will even cook up some vegan treats for Bertha, my beautiful bulldog!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder :)
I am spending a lot of time preparing now and hope that Vegan MoFo 2011 turns out to be as rewarding an experience as I think it has the potential to be.  

Most of all I am looking forward to connecting with so many great bloggers out there!

Here's to Vegan MoFo 2011!

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Not Just About Me Anymore

All,

It just dawned on me that I never shared my post on my good friend JL Fields blog Stop Chasing Skinny with you.  Stop Chasing Skinny explores the important subject of body image and getting beyond the scale or a number to find happiness.

Not anymore!

For many of us it has been a life long journey to get to the point of worrying about being fit and healthy as opposed to being a slave to a number on a scale. After 45 years, I finally got there, in large part because of my then eight year old Daughter Camille. She made me realize what is really important.

JL, I admire you  for bringing this important subject matter to light in a safe, community environment and look forward to fewer of us chasing skinny and more of us chasing a state of mind that is focused around health and wellness..

If you are interested you can check out my post by clicking the following URL:

http://stopchasingskinny.com/2011/07/28/happiness-found-by-lee-it%E2%80%99s-not-just-about-me-anymore/

You will not only find my story but lots of stories from inspirational women that have Stopped Chasing Skinny and are happier for it.

Lee

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Creamy Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta

If you read my last post you know I have been in Atlanta the last couple of days on business.  And while I had some good vegan eats in Atlanta, I could not wait to get home to my own kitchen and have a home cooked meal.

I was not home an hour before I started to assess what I had in the house that I needed to use. We had a bunch of Roma tomatoes from the garden that no one ate while I was away so I decided to create a meal centered around them.
















To me, Roma tomatoes scream pasta sauce. I am not sure exactly why that is, perhaps that is what my Mother and Grandmother used to make their sauce?  Anyway, as I started thinking about their use I remembered a friend told me she had made a roasted tomato pesto sauce and I decided I would take a stab at making one of my own.

This was minimal work and it was very rich and flavorful. Mr. Meat and Potatoes tasted it and asked if it had some sort of cheese in it.  The way the ingredients come together do create a nice creamy cheese-like sauce.

As you can imagine, I am really glad to be home in my kitchen creating my own vegan eats!

Creamy Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta

6 Roma tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves plus a few for garnish
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1//2-1/2 +1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb pasta cooked according to package directions (I used elbow macaroni)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  On a shallow baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil place the Roma tomatoes cut side up.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast at 350 until slightly charred and soft- about 25 minutes.

Place tomatoes and all other ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or powerful blender and blend until smooth.  Slowly add the olive oil until the sauce reaches a nice creamy consistency and coats a spoon nicely.

Serve over pasta. Garnish with basil.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Cafe Life and Cafe Sunflower- Business Travel in Atlanta

You may know I travel a lot on business. What you may not know is that I am absolutely terrible at getting out and experiencing the cities I visit. I typically work from dawn to dark and then opt for a lousy room service dinner.  Not this time!  I started my exploration of the Atlanta area at Cafe Life in Marietta, GA where I had an organic vegan broccoli cheddar quiche with a side of tempeh bacon. It was as good as it looked!

Organic broccoli-cheddar quiche, tempeh bacon and fresh fruit.
The cafe itself is tiny. It is, however, attached to an awesome vegan-centric grocery store called Life Grocery. I was  pretty bummed I couldn't shop and bring some good things home with me but I suppose the almond cheese I had my eye on wouldn't fare too well in my suitcase.

Really tiny but cute.

















There were a bunch of folks in the cafe who had a laptop set up projecting Forks Over Knives (which I have yet to see).  So, I got to watch some of the movie while I ate.Cool! Note: I did not get a picture so I pulled this one of the Internet.

On Monday night I met an old friend for dinner at Cafe Sunflower, a vegetarian restaurant with a lot of vegan options, in Sandy Springs, GA.

















 The place was cute but very very, very dark.  So dark I had difficulty reading the menu and unfortunately the pictures did not come out great. We ordered the Sunflower box appetizer sampler to share and everything that came with it was really good. I especially liked the spaghetti squash cake and the spring roll.

Sunflower box.

















For the next course we were served a small salad. It was nice an fresh and the soy dressing was quite good.

















My friend ordered the spicy pad Thai for dinner. I  went with a stuffed acorn squash. The portion sizes were ENORMOUS! My squash was quite good but I could barely make a dent in it after eating the appetizers and salad.

Spicy pad Thai.
















Stuffed acorn squash.


















All in all much better than room service! Worth a try if you are in the area. Unfortunately I had no room whatsoever for dessert so I cannot comment on that.

The best part of the trip? I learned that with a little research and without expending a ton of energy you can do much better than room service for dinner! Oh, and catching up with an old friend? Priceless.

If you find yourself in the Atlanta area you can find Cafe Life at 1453 Roswell Road Marietta, GA 30062.

Cafe Sunflower is located at 5975 Roswell Road Atlanta, GA 30328.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dessert Quesedilla

I am not a big fan of Paula Dean's cooking style, however I am a fan of hers. She just seems like a nice lady.  Recently, I was watching her and her son cooking on the Food Network and they made a dessert quesedilla that looked over the top delicious.
















Her's used butter and ice cream- two ingredients that are easy to substitute vegan versions for so I decided to try it.  It was simply amazing! And so easy to make-- this will be something I will make again. Everyone loved it including me, a self proclaimed non dessert eater.

Dessert Quesedilla

2  flour tortillas
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips plus a few for sprinkling
3 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
1 scoop non dairy Vanilla ice cream (I used So Delicious Vanilla made from coconut milk)

Cover one of the tortillas with the sliced banana, half the brown sugar and the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.  Top with the other tortilla as you would if making a quesedilla.  In a shallow pan heat the Earth Balance until melted. Add the other half of the brown sugar and stir.  Place the quesedilla in the pan and allow to cook until browned. Carefully flip and allow to brown on the other side.

Remove from the pan, place a scoop of  the non dairy ice cream on top and garnish with the rest of the chocolate chips.  Slice and serve.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Asparagus and Cannelini Bean Pesto Tart

I have an obsession with food blogs.  Not just writing but reading as well.  There are so many great blogs out there and I get much of my cooking inspiration from them.  This tart is no exception. I got the idea from Vegan Yum Yum- a great vegan blog that unfortunately the author has stopped updating.
















I did not follow the recipe exactly and changed it up quite a bit, but that is not really a surprise; when do I ever actually follow a recipe?  If you have read this blog in the past you will know that I am not particularly skilled at following directions.

I served the tart along side my More Mac and Cheeze instead of biscuits or bread.  It was a nice compliment to the dish and fulfilled the "green vegetable" requirement for the meal and in all honesty, I could have had just the tart for dinner and been very happy!

I am not sure the photo does it justice but this is just as pretty as it is tasty.  Good enough for either a  fancy dinner party or for a casual home cooked family dinner like we had.

Asparagus and Cannelini Bean Pesto Tart

~1 lb asparagus, trimmed to remove woody stems
1 can cannelini beans drained and rinsed well
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 tbsp + some extra extra virgin olive oil
1 sheet puff pastry thawed on parchment paper according to package directions
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor or in a powerful blender add the beans, basil, salt, cashews, pine nuts, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Pulse to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Once blended into a thick paste, with the processor on, slowly add the non dairy milk and then olive oil. Blend until it is as smooth as you can get it.

Place the puff pastry sheet (still on the parchment paper) on a baking sheet. Divide the puff pastry sheet  six equal size rectangles.  Place a layer of bean mixture on each rectangle and then place the asparagus on top. Brush the asparagus spears with some olive oil to lightly coat them and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 for about 25-30 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.