Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2 Year Blogiversary!

I know I've been neglecting my blog for some time now, but I couldn't let the 2nd year anniversary of Vegan Good Things go by without a new post, even if I didn't manage to finish it before 8pm. It's still been really difficult for me to do much cooking... I'm feeding the baby around the clock, not sleeping much, and too exhausted to cook, let alone take photos and try to come up with something interesting to write about in a post. I am starting to get my inspiration back though, thanks in part to being home during the day and watching foodie shows on TV. I've recently discovered Chopped, which I simultaneously love and hate. I can't stop watching the show, because the premise is so incredibly ridiculous - give people the most random, disgusting combination of ingredients to create a dish with, then critique them on what they end up cooking. I imagine the competing chefs are thinking something like, "What, the dessert I made out of maraschino cherries, anchovies, wheatgrass, and belly button lint didn't quite 'come together'? I can't imagine why you didn't enjoy that." It's like they set them up to fail, and yet I keep watching, hoping to either see a stroke of genius or someone completely melt down when faced with incorporating both strawberry milk powder and natto into the same dish, like on a recent episode I saw.

The other show I've been overdosing on is Kitchen Nightmares. This show is on approximately 25 hours a day, on at least two different channels. I'd previously avoided most Gordon Ramsay programming because his yelling gives me a headache, but i find Kitchen Nightmares addictive. These people kind of deserve to get yelled at. Like the women serving two week old potato dishes at their "Hot Potato" cafe. Or all the people who deep-fry some frozen food then argue about how "fresh and delicious" it tastes. Or that mean old ungrateful lady who thought her tacky tiki-themed decor was better than Ramsay's tasteful, modern makeover. It actually makes me not want to eat in restaurants anymore because he usually uncovers all kinds of nasty, unsanitary things in those kitchens, but then I remember that I'm unlikely to ever find myself in those kinds of restaurants, and if I did, I wouldn't be ordering the salmonella-contaminated chicken anyway.

But I digress. We're here to talk about soup. Warm, comforting, delicious soup. Maybe you've been over-indulging over the holidays, and what you need is a simple, nourishing, beautiful bowl of soup. I actually found this recipe for Pasta E Ceci Soup in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, with my favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven in their photo, like a sign that I was meant to make this soup in my own kitchen. It's a very tasty and satisfying recipe, although it's more like a stew than a soup. Actually, I found it to be more like a soupy pasta dish than a soup, but who cares. Follow the recipe at the link, I didn't change anything except that I used pinto beans instead of chickpeas. I did this because my husband is picky, and refuses to eat chickpeas unless they are in the form of hummus or falafel. I also omitted the Parmigiano garnish, but feel free to add a vegan parmesan substitute if you wish. And please don't skip the fried rosemary garnish - it added such a wonderful herbal note to the bowl.

Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for reading my blog. I have some really exciting posts planned for the new year, and I hope you will continue to join me on my never-ending search for the best Vegan Good Things.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Virtual Vegan Holiday Side Dish: Sweet Potato Puree with Maple & Sour Cream

As you might imagine, with a newborn I've hardly had a spare minute to cook, much less to update this sorely neglected blog. I feel so guilty. I truly hope to get back in the kitchen soon, but right now I am dealing with some postpartum complications and feeding the little one around the clock. It just doesn't leave me any time or energy to cook or feed anybody else. My husband and I have been surviving on things that are easily heated, takeout, and delivery. It's not the most ideal situation but Bodhi's sweet face makes it all worthwhile.

Seeing as I missed out on cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, and the possibility of cooking any other holiday meals seems increasingly unlikely, I was happy to be invited to participate in a virtual vegan holiday dinner with some of my favorite vegan bloggers. Each of us are posting a recipe today that is part of a larger vegan holiday menu. For my part, I made a Sweet Potato Puree with Maple & vegan Sour Cream, adapted from this Real Simple recipe. For Thanksgiving, I do like to make a sweet potato casserole, topped with candied pecans and mini Sweet & Sara marshmallows, but this recipe is much easier and fast enough to do any day of the year. It would be a perfect accompaniment to any holiday menu, but as you can see, I had it for dinner last night with some vegan riblets - they may not be the healthiest thing for a vegan to eat, but once in a while, they really hit the spot.

Vegan Sweet Potato Puree With Maple & Sour Cream
serves 4

2 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, unpeeled, in 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance or margarine
1/2 cup vegan sour cream 
salt  and pepper, to taste 
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1. Steam sweet potato cubes until fork-tender, about 10 minutes; drain and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the maple syrup, vegan butter, and sour cream. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mix until smooth. Season with the salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice. Transfer to a pan, place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Check out the complete menu and participants for the Virtual Vegan Holiday Dinner:
Carrot Pâté by Diet, Desserts, and Dogs

The Drink
Winter Warmer Cocktail by Pea Soup Eats

Main Dish
Vegan Holiday Casserole by Namely Marly

The Sides
Cranberry and Orange Ginger Mango Chutney by Loves Veggies and Yoga
Vegan Sweet Potato Puree with Maple and Sour Cream by Vegan Good Things

The Bread
Crescent Rolls by That’s So Vegan

The Best Part: Desserts
Four Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie by Lunch Box Bunch
Skillet Pear Gingerbread Cake by The Tolerant Vegan
Chocolate Pecan Cookie Pies by Your Vegan Mom
Eggnog Cheesecake by Manifest Vegan