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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Temptations

Hey Babes,

The time thingy on my blog is off, I am actually posting this around 2:30 in the morning.  I got to be the date of one of my gorgeous lady friends for her work Christmas party tonight and as I was leaving, five people walked in with TOWERING boxes of PIZZAAAA!!!!!  The smell alone was nearly enough to send me into a state of nirvana.  I thought about searching for a piece of vegetarian pizza but knew I would regret it later so I am currently curbing my hunger with avocado smushed on toast.  Which is delish and quite satisfying too! 

At this time of year, the cravings don't end with pizza.  Eggnog (love it or hate it) is one of my fave holiday treats!  But alas, the egg and cream and sugar content is enough to make any vegan shed a little tear.  My family Christmas morning breakfast tradition is Eggs Benedict which is poached eggs drowning in a sauce made from butter and egg yolks - to die for!  And let's not forget all the amazing shortbread cookies, nanaimo bars, cakes, pies and desserts that are sometimes too tempting to resist!

WHAT I AM GETTING AT IS:  It can be really hard to resist non-vegan temptation around the holidays BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO MISS OUT ON ANY OF THE DELICIOUSNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  There are recipes alllllll over the place for vegan versions of your favorite treats!  For example, I plan on making Roasted Tomato-Asparagus Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast on Christmas morning!  Not missing out on the yumminess, but also staying true to my compassionate lifestyle choices.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY:  If you do decide to go for it and eat that yummy non-vegan treat, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT!  I should confess that I am a serious dairy foods lover and letting go of it was sooooo hard.  Every now and then I absolutely indulge in dairy foods.  Especially CHEESE!  And at first I used to feel really guilty, like I was going to get in trouble with the vegan police.  But I realized that it's useless to feel guilty about it.  All the goodness (to the planet, to your body, to animals and to humanity) of a day-to-day vegan lifestyle cannot be undone by a piece of pizza.  Feel grounded in what made you make the choice to go vegan in the first place and know that you can't be perfect all the time.

And just keep truckin' on.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Veggie Wonton Dumplings

Guten morgen mein schatz,

As you may already be aware, I have a dumpling obsession.  I rambled on about it for a while in my gnocchi post so i'll spare you this time (besides, who doesn't like dumplings?) and just cut to the chase.  If you have never worked with wonton wrappers before, do not be intimidated.  Dumpling makery can be a very zen experience as it is assembly that takes most of the work.  It's important not to overfill your dumplings otherwise they will be a pain in the butt to seal and may explode during cooking.  I used an assortment of veggies that I just happened to have but I really encourage you to use whatever veggies you like!  Onions, carrots, cabbage of all kinds, mushrooms, spinach, scallions, broccoli, leeks, water chestnuts, celery, daikon, cauliflower. . . go nuts!  It's a great recipe for using up veggies that are looking a little haggard...
Oooooh another thing: I fried these but they would be AWESOME steamed (and nicer to your inner thighs)!

 Veggie Wonton Dumplings
1 package wonton wrappers (check the ingredients, lots contain eggs)
1 carrot, finely diced
1 large onion, diced
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup broccoli, chopped into very small florets
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup shoyu mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
sunflower oil for frying

In a large saucepan, heat a tsp of oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, carrot, cabbage, broccoli and garlic until quite tender.  Remove from the heat.  Add the sesame seeds, cilantro, ginger and shoyu-water mix.  Using a food processor or immersion blender (hand blender), blend the veggie mix until it is well combined but a few little veggie chunks remain.  Season with S&P.

Time to fill some wonton wrappers:  Have a little bowl of water standing by and a cookie sheet dusted lightly with flour.  Hold the wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand.  Place 1 - 2 tsp of filling in the centre of the wrapper.  Using your finger, moisten all around the edges of the wrapper with the water you have standing by.  Now you can either fold the wonton over into a triangle shape, pinching the ends well or pressing them with a fork to seal OR you can bring all the sides together into a little pouch shape (like I have done in the picture) and pinch WELL to seal.  Continue this process until you have used up all your filling. 

You can freeze your wontons on the floured cookie sheet and steam them right from frozen!

Otherwise, steam these babies right away (they make greeeat party food for veg heads and omnivores alike) or you can pan fry them in sunflower oil on medium heat until golden brown.  Serve these puppies with your fave dipping sauce (sweet&sour?  plum?  soy sauce?  hoisin?  ketchup?)

Stay warrrrrm,


We Got Vegan Cannelloni, Baby!

Ciao Bellas,

I had been dying for a comforting, rich, baked pasta dish and after my tenth failed vegan mac-and-cheese attempt (I just can't seem to find a good one), I nearly gave up.  Until I remembered one of my favorite pasta dishes: cannelloni!  I rushed to the grocery store and back and in no time at all whipped up a DEEEELISH and SUPER EASY recipe!
It uses tofu 'ricotta' but don't be frightened, it tastes just like the real thing.  If you use jarred or tinned tomato sauce you will save a ton of time, just make sure you check the ingredients to make sure they're vegan.  You can definitely use regular cannelloni noodles, I was just feeling very lazy at the time and couldn't be bothered to pre-cook anything.

Cannelloni with Spinach and 'Ricotta'
1 box oven-ready cannelloni noodles
1 jar tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloved, chopped
1 package of extra firm tofu
1/4 cup chopped basil or 2 tsp dried
pinch fresh ground nutmeg
juice of 1/2 lemon

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the water and sauce together and spread 1/2 cup of it on the bottom of a 9"x9" casserole dish.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on meadium heat.  Sautee the onion and garlic until tender and translucent.  Add the spinach and cook until warmed through.  Crumble the tofu into the spinach mixture and add the basil, nutmeg and lemon.  Season with S&P.  Put the mixture into a blender and pulse until the mixture looks even but is not a totally green puree.  Or you can use an immersion blender.
Fill each cannelloni noodle with the spinach ricotta mixture until it is at capacity.  Place the filled noodles in even rows in the casserole dish.  Cover with the remaining sauce and any extra filling. 
Bake for 25 min and broil the top until it's bubbly.  Let it sit for a few minutes before serving, it's hot!

Enjoy ;)