Oh Pizza, How I Love You

Did you know that yesterday was the first annual Vegan Pizza Day? I think it’s exciting that vegan pizza now has its own holiday. I’m surprised it took so long but happy to partake in the celebration of one of my favorite foods. I can’t imagine not liking pizza – you can cater the crust and toppings to suit your needs. Pizza is so flexible!

Last night Tim and I made two pizzas. We usually only make one pizza but I really wanted leftovers (which have now been demolished). We opted for two very different pizzas:

Spicy Pineapple & Tempeh Crumbles Pizza

Veggie Pizza with Daiya

The Spicy Pineapple & Tempeh Crumbles pizza (topping recipe from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions) was made with a whole grain crust. I even added a hefty tablespoon of chia seeds to the dough for a nice dose of Omega 3′s. The topping is a mixture of sauteed tempeh, Indian spices, pineapple bits, and spinach. It was a nice balance of spicy and sweet. The next time I make this pizza I might drizzle a coconut curry sauce over the top before baking.

The Veggie Pizza was pretty basic – spelt crust, homemade marinara, red bell peppers, black olives, broccoli, and Daiya. I am not a big fan of Daiya but I do appreciate that it is soy-free.

We sprinkled ground chipotle flakes and cashew crumbles (a mixture of finely ground nutritional yeast and cashews) on top of our slices and watched Revenge of the Nerds IV while we ate. Lame movie (but I did laugh a few times), good pizza. Hooray for Vegan Pizza Day!

My birthday is coming up this week and Tim has agreed to make me Purple Cow Cupcakes. Stay tuned for photos! It is supposed to be sunny and in the mid 50′s on my birthday so there might be some worthwhile adventures happening to celebrate my ever-increasing old age.

Birthday Adventures

Yesterday was Tim’s 34th birthday. We awoke to unusually sunny skies and temperatures nearing 60 degrees – ideal for a bike ride and lunch at our favorite Portland cafe, Proper Eats. I was fooled into thinking spring had arrived early! Although I think the ridiculous headwind we pedaled into for the first half of our bike ride made me realize winter is holding steady. Check out the clouds looming over downtown Portland:

Onward we pedaled…

Proper Eats is a cozy, welcoming place with super kind folks cooking and serving delicious food. The menu is entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan). They support local farmers, businesses, distributors, and artists. I’ve never had a disappointing meal at Proper Eats and the food is so healthy, nourishing, and well-priced. There is a small grocery/bulk foods section at the front of the cafe. The kitchen is open so you can watch people preparing your food – I love that!

It’s challenging trying to capture decent food photos in eateries (especially with low light conditions). Here is what we enjoyed:

Collard Wraps served with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Potato & Garlic Soup

Spinach Salad w/ Carrot-Ginger Dressing (and local hazelnuts and cranberries!)

Tempeh Reuben (the only thing Tim ever orders at Proper Eats, it’s his favorite sammie)

The bike ride home was easier since we were riding with the wind (and fueled by yummy foods). When we got back to our place we decided it was okay to have some birthday cake a bit early. This poor cake had a traumatic day – it stuck to my cooling rack, cracked in half as a result, and then stuck to the serving plate. What a stinker! The issue of the naughty cake was resolved and disguised with peanut butter filling and chocolate ganache (plus a side of Coconut Bliss ice cream!).

Tim demands pizza for dinner weekly. His birthday was no exception. He kept reminding me over the weekend to make the dough. We learned from a friend that making the dough several days ahead of time and putting it in the fridge (no rising) creates a chewy, crisp-on-the-bottom, pizza. Just remember to let the dough rest on the counter a few hours before you plan to make your pizza.

And then, of course, we enjoyed more cake and Coconut Bliss after dinner. It was a good day.

Nothing But Tacos

The taco and I are not the best of friends. Burritos are more my style. Maybe it’s because consuming a taco requires serious strategy. One incorrectly planned bite and your whole taco crumbles to a heap on your plate. Plus, you can’t fill them too full or the shell cracks prematurely. Burritos are more forgiving and it’s fun to roll them up into tight cylinders.

Why am I posting about tacos then? Well, a new cookbook recently snuggled itself onto my kitchen shelf: The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. Testing recipes for these two vegan wonder women was a pleasure. Reading through the finished book is an even greater pleasure (Celine’s photos are gorgeous!). One of the recipes in the book helped create the above taco: Taco Meat (there is a gluten-free version and a soy-free version in the book). I made the version that calls for TVP. This recipe is snappy fast and pretty tasty. The above taco is also filled with seasoned adzuki beans, sweet potatoes, avocado, and homemade cashew-based sour cream.

What is your taco eating strategy? Mine needs work.

For Serious Hikers Only

Trail Mix Brownies!

I felt a small wave of inspiration yesterday and created a new recipe for my forthcoming vegan brownie cookbook. It’s frustrating how easily motivation can plummet and then disappear. If Tim hadn’t been demanding treats these brownies may not have happened. I can’t recall ever taking brownies on a hike, but hey, why not? These have homemade trail mix in the batter and on top of the finished brownies -  twice the trail mix! I may experiment further with different nuts and dried fruits in future batches.

Brownies while hiking seems perfectly acceptable to me!

Chive Talkin’

Six months ago you couldn’t have paid me to eat chives. I grew up with a serious aversion to onions and anything that was related to or smelled like an onion. I was a pro at detecting the teeniest bit of onion in my meals. I created art forms with the neglected piles of onions on my plate. It’s been a few years since I introduced the mighty onion into my world, willingly. I can touch, chop, and cook onions all by myself now (and eat them!). However, icky chives were still on my list of gag-inducing foods – that is until I was making recipes for Isa’s Appetite for Destruction cookbook in July 2010. One of the recipes taught me to love chives.

The recipe that gave chives such a positive reputation? Green Goddess Dressing. I was making extra batches of this stuff last summer to sustain myself. If somebody dared me to drink a glass of Green Goddess Dressing I would not hesitate. Really. Out of the blue today I remembered my love for Green Goddess Dressing. Imagine my excitement when I discovered all the necessary ingredients were stocked in my kitchen! The dressing comes together quickly and requires very little effort. It even has a healthy dose of tahini in it! I chopped up a cucumber and doused it with dressing:

Do you see the little owls on the bowl? They like Green Goddess Dressing too.