Favorites from the 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck

As always, this past weekend’s Virtual Vegan Potluck was a ton of fun, with so many tantalizing dishes and beautiful photos to peruse!

It’s an honor to participate but selfishly I also LOVE the VVP because I always discover so many new blogs and come away with dozens of new, amazing recipes to try!  In case you didn’t have a chance to browse the 85+ dishes that were presented this weekend, I’ve collected some of my personal favorites for your viewing pleasure.  It was tough but I narrowed it down to two from each course (except in courses with less than seven submissions, in which case I chose only one favorite).

Please note that all photos are the property of the bloggers whose dishes they show.  I am reposting them ONLY so that you can appreciate the talent and hard work of the bloggers, and in the hope that you will give them a visit to check out the recipes for yourself!

Appetizers
Lemon-Thyme Polenta Bites with Arugula Pesto and Mushrooms from Seasonal Veg Head
Vegan Dilled Ceviche from Veggie Inspired
Vegan-Dilled-Ceviche-1

Beverages
Festive Spiced Tahini Hot Chocolate from Bunny Kitchen
Cranberry-Grapefruit White Wine Spritzer from Glue and Glitter
cranberry-white-wine-spritzer

Salads
Tropical Fruit Salad with Raspberry Dressing from Parsley in my Teeth
Rosemary Infused Grapefruit and Kale Salad from The Glowing Fridge
Rosemary-Infused-Grapefruit-and-Kale-Salad1

Breads 
Rosemary and Meyer Lemon Focaccia from Yup, It’s Vegan
vegan_rosemary_and_meyer_lemon_focaccia_whole_grain_1

Soups/Stews
Creamy Lemon Asparagus Soup from Helyn’s Healthy Kitchen
soup top

Sides
Lentil Sweet Potato Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots from Veganizzm
Cranberry Pomegranate Pear Sauce from A Journey with Tiffany
Cranberry-pomegranate-pear-sauce-title

Mains
Mushroom Duxelle Ravioli in Cashew Cream Sauce from Astig Vegan
Seitan Marbella from Fried Dandelions
marbella2-580x1015

Desserts (aside from my own Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp of course!)
Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Truffle Tart from My Darling Vegan
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Pretzel Frosting from Veggies Don’t Bite
Lemon Curd Tiramisu from Marfigs’ Munchies
profiletop2

Okay…I couldn’t pick just two desserts…

Another VVP in the books.  Now, off I go to get started on recreating some of these delights!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp

Welcome!  I hope you’re enjoying the December 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck so far.  Thanks for stopping by A. Cook in the Making!
vvpLOGO
For the dessert course of this year’s VVP, I’m bringing a Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp.
 photo VVP015_zpse8c2e71f.jpg
Featuring tastes and aromas that evoke late autumn and the holidays, this not-too-sweet dessert is warm and familiar but still a little unique.  Plus, you can feel good about eating it because it’s technically made from a vegetable :)  Leftovers heat up very well and make a terrific breakfast too!

Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free; gluten-free option
Serves 8-12

Ingredients
For squash:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled well and sliced into thin half moons (think apple slices)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablepoons Earth Balance buttery spread (optional…use soy-free blend if necessary)

For topping:
1/3 cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
1 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free if needed)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or Earth Balance

For serving:
Non-dairy vanilla ice cream (I use So Delicious Vanilla Bean coconut ice cream and it is divine)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 9 x 11 baking dish and set aside.

Place butternut squash slices in a large bowl.  Add cornstarch, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and stir until well coated.  Add mixture to prepared baking dish.  At this point, if you wish, add Earth Balance on top, like so:
 photo VVP012_zps31f4ee59.jpg
To make the topping, combine all ingredients and stir until well incorporated.  Spread evenly over squash mixture.  Cover baking dish with tin foil, poke a few holes in the top with a fork, then place in the oven and bake for 40-60 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.

To serve: I recommend stirring this before serving, because a lot of the sweet gooey stuff tends to collect around the bottom.  Once stirred, place in a bowl, top with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!

If you would like a sweeter crisp: sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup of granulated sugar over the crisp while still warm and stir to incorporate.
 photo VVP013_zps530a5554.jpg

go_forward-300x243
To move on in the potluck and see what dessert Apsara has brought, follow this link to Eating Well Diary.

go_bck-300x257
To go back and revisit Koren and Alana’s submission, follow this link to She Makes Magic.

Happy Potlucking! photo VVP014_zps91470cd2.jpg

Easy Weeknight Meal: Potato Mash Bowls

Now that it’s December, this baby thing is suddenly starting to feel really, really real. With my due date less than 5 weeks away, I’m experiencing a real struggle between my insane, compulsive desire to get everything ready on one hand, and various aches, pains, and (at times overwhelming) exhaustion on the other.

I haven’t been doing a whole lot of what I would consider to be “real” cooking, but I have been making strides toward my goal of cleaning out our freezer, fridge, and pantry to clear out some stuff that’s been hanging around a bit too long, and make room for some easy, convenient items and pre-prepared meals that H and I can turn to in the first few weeks after Baby H comes home.

One thing that has been really working for me as a dinner option has been what I call Potato Mash Bowls, and it’s really as simple as baking a potato in the microwave, mashing it up, and putting some veggies and protein on top. These bowls are really quick to prepare, easy to adapt to whatever ingredients (or leftovers) you have lying around that need using, and importantly are really, really tasty and satisfying to eat.

The base:
 photo Halloween012_zpsb97fb790.jpg
Here, I mashed up the potato with some Earth Balance and Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning.

Then, I added steamed broccoli (from the freezer!) and black beans:
 photo Halloween013_zps204ad4d8.jpg

I also did one topped with veggie chili (also from the freezer! I feel so accomplished!) and a heap of nutritional yeast:
 photo Halloween020_zpsdab9a7f2.jpg
I love these bowls!!

I will have more freezer meals to share with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any ideas you have for stuff I can make and freeze to have on hand when baby comes home. I am thinking about chili and soups, but would love suggestions for more casserole-type entrees if anyone has any. Thanks in advance :)

It’s Still Pumpkin Season! Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!  Knowing that next year there will be a new little human in the mix had me really cherishing the time we spent with family and friends this time around.

I can’t be the only one who feels that pumpkin season shouldn’t end with Thanksgiving, but should continue through the entire fall and holiday season.  My taste for pumpkin is still going strong, in any event!

Remember those wisdom-giving pumpkin pancakes?  The leftovers got me through several breakfasts last week.  I had them rolled up with a bit of White Chocolate Wonderful and they were divine.
 photo PumpkinPancakes009_zps1008c821.jpg

Once those were gone, I put the leftover pumpkin puree to good use in delicious smoothie form.  There are a thousand and one pumpkin pie smoothie recipes on the Internet, and now I’m throwing mine into the mix as well!
 photo Vegan032_zps1895ec3a.jpg

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Serves 1
Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Ingredients
3/4 – 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond-coconut)…add less milk for a thicker consistency, more for thinner
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 frozen banana
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Small pinch of ground cloves

Directions
Blend and enjoy!

 photo Vegan033_zps361a7279.jpg

Are you still getting your pumpkin fix? Let me know how!

I Love Tofurky

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  I certainly did, although I definitely ate too much.  Somehow before tucking in I forgot about the limited space available in my abdomen (what with the 5-6 lb. human residing in there), and paid the price with a pretty uncomfortable evening thereafter, but it was so worth it.

One of the things I of course overstuffed myself with was my favorite staple–the Tofurky roast!–that I bring along to Thanksgiving every year.
image (4)

I know the word “Tofurky” has become kind of infamous and is maybe a bit of a joke to non-vegans.  It is kind of a silly name, I guess, and it’s kind of misleading because Tofurky isn’t actually a tofu turkey (it’s actually made of a blend of tofu, gluten, and canola oil).  But I really, really love it. Especially with all the caramelized roasted veggies around it–ahh, so good!

It’s obviously not exactly a health food, but it is absolutely delicious and I look forward to enjoying it on this special occasion each year.  For me, Thanksgiving isn’t the same without it anymore.  And, because of the availability of options like this, a meatless Thanksgiving is not only possible, but is truly enjoyable.  That’s definitely something to be thankful for!
image (5)
And now I’m off to make myself a Thanksgiving sandwich with leftover Tofurky for lunch :)

P.S. – After reading over the post and realizing that it sounds a bit like an ad or review (haha!), I just thought I’d clarify that I’m not being paid to advertise Tofurky or anything.  I just really like it and wrote the post while I was getting psyched up for my lunch.

Sunday Morning Pumpkin Pancakes and Life Lessons

I woke up yesterday with a one-track mind: must. make. pumpkin. pancakes. A craving like this is one of the only things that can break through the wall of laziness and exhaustion that currently surrounds me at all times. I haven’t cooked in like a month, but this was an emergency.

I broke out Vegan Brunch and set right to mixing and measuring. Almost immediately, I noticed that the batter looked a little thin.

But I got my griddle nice and hot, sprayed my cooking spray, and added the first scoop of batter. When I eventually tried to flip it, however, it basically completely crumpled, and started to tear. Even after cooking for a few more minutes, it was really hard to get it off the griddle and onto the spatula, and it still seemed kinda gooey.

Immediately I started running through possible causes for the problem. Did I somehow not measure my ingredients correctly? Is my flour too old? Was the first pancake too big?

For round 2, I tried making two smaller pancakes. Still no dice. I ended up with these too-soft, crumply messes:
 photo PumpkinPancakes001_zps00018b56.jpg
At this point, I figured I had just done something wrong, but I was determined to finish cooking the rest of the batter (waste not!). And I decided that I was NOT going to settle for mediocre pancakes. I would keep trying different tweaks and approaches. If they turned out mediocre anyway, at least I’d know I tried.

My first fix was to switch out Earth Balance for the cooking spray the recipe recommends. I noticed an almost immediate difference in the way the pancakes were cooking. The edges were getting golden and crispy and, while still very thin, they were much easier to flip over without crumpling.
 photo PumpkinPancakes003_zps45d1ecfd.jpg
Second fix was to use slightly less batter. Third, let them cook longer than I had previously been doing.
 photo PumpkinPancakes002_zpsdb07f2c7.jpg
I ended up with a plate stacked with beautiful pumpkiny goodness, which I served with a dab of vegan cream cheese and some dried cranberries. It was absolutely perfect.
 photo PumpkinPancakes005_zps6aae950e.jpg
At some point, I realized that this pancake-making process was like a little analogy for so many of the things I’ve experienced in life so far, and so many, many things that I will experience in the near future when I become a parent.

Life lessons, people. Sometimes you just have to adjust your approach. Follow your instincts. Sometimes the instructions you are given aren’t the be-all and end-all.
 photo PumpkinPancakes007_zps0bfc1b28.jpg
Adjusting your approach won’t always necessarily yield the result or reward you initially were going for, but maybe you will be pleasantly surprised when you find that you end up with something just as good, or maybe even better, than what you set out for.
 photo PumpkinPancakes004_zps83398181.jpg
Bottom line: don’t be so hard on yourself if things aren’t perfect, but also don’t just throw up your hands and give up–take action and make it better!

Vegan Snacking from a Prego Pro

Hey there! I’m still here…things have just been super-crazy. Does anyone else feel like time is just racing by? I can’t believe we’re only a week from Thanksgiving!

Aside from being crazy, things have been pretty great on my end. At 33+ weeks, Baby H is continuing to grow, and as s/he gets bigger and bigger, there is less and less room for other things…like, y’know, my lungs and stomach.
 photo 33w1d015_zps499ec6bb.jpg
It will be at *least* another 3 weeks until s/he drops, so until then I have been taking it slow to try to avoid shortness of breath, and eating small meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid feeling too full.

Fortunately I just so happen to be a master of vegan snacking. Aside from obvious choices like fruit and nuts, here are some of my pregnancy-approved snacks:

Non-dairy yogurt with hemp seeds:
 photo 32w1d003_zps034a905d.jpg

This was my first time trying So Delicious almond milk yogurt and it was pretty good, but didn’t taste much different to me than soy yogurt. It also suffers from the common yogurt pitfall of having way too much sugar, so this has only been an occasional one for me.
 photo 32w1d004_zps5efb55ce.jpg

Sriracha popcorn:
 photo 32w1d016_zps5194884c.jpg
This one is a bit more of a guilty pleasure. H and I bought a bag of this at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo earlier this year, and it had been hiding, unopened and forgotten, in our cabinet ever since. I remedied the problem pretty quickly.

Barbara’s peanut butter Puffins with almond-coconut milk [it won’t let me load my own photo for some reason so here’s a nice stock image from the Barbara’s website for ya]:
 photo bar-006238_zps4a4052cc.jpg

I have always loved Puffins but am now officially obsessed with them. The supermarket by my work almost always has them on sale at 2 boxes for $6, so I’ve been buying them up like mad. Plus, between this snack and my morning coffee, I’m now going through almost a gallon of almond-coconut milk each week. I’m not even sorry.

Carrots and hummus:
 photo 32w1d001_zpse84b6c7d.jpg
The tried and true classic. I grabbed a few of these little individual sized hummus cups at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival a couple of weeks ago, and love how convenient they are.

Also, has Cedar’s changed their recipe? I find myself *loooooving* their hummus recently, where previously I thought it was only okay.  It’s creamier or something.
 photo 33w1d004_zpsf2d08c57.jpg
I enjoyed it so much in the little travel packs that I went out and bought a giant 16 oz. container of it, which I’ve been using to enjoy…

Hummus and olive tapenade on crackers:
 photo 33w1d005_zpse2d52ab8.jpg
So…this is the one that I truly cannot get enough of. I buy the olive tapenade from Trader Joe’s and if you haven’t had it, I’m telling you it’s a must-try. So salty and delicious. Baby H approves.

Trader Joe’s roasted plantain chips:
 photo 51Lj9pkWvxL_SL500_AA300__zps501daafa.jpg
These are cheap and great in a pinch. I keep a bag in my desk drawer to keep afternoon hunger pains at bay until I can get home and fix myself some hummus and tapenade :)

In the next few weeks as the countdown to Baby H’s arrival continues, I’ll be turning my attention to clearing out our freezer in the hope of restocking it with meals that will be easy for H and me to thaw and eat in our first few weeks as new parents. Hopefully I’ll come up with some fun concoctions to share with you all!