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Celebrate Mardis Gras!

I love any excuse to make something special for dinner and Mardis Gras is no exception.  In fact, there are almost too many delicious dishes that would be a perfect way to celebrate!

Maybe cook up a nice pot of Spicy Vegetable Gumbo from Vegan Fire & Spice. Or maybe the Cajun Style Tofu from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. From Quick-Fix Vegan you can choose from the Cajun-Spiced Dirty Rice, Muffuleta Pizza, or Jambalaya Bake.

You could throw a party and serve the Phat Tuesday Party menu from Party Vegan:

  • Collard and Red Bean Fritters
  • Remoulade Sauce
  • Smoke and Spice Jambalaya
  • Grits ‘n’ Greens
  • Pastry-Wrapped Bananas Foster

Or you could just kick back and snack on some cajun-spiced popcorn or kale chips!

Whatever you decide, laissez les bon temps roulez!

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Tiramisu for Two

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that Jon loves tiramisu…and that I rarely make it unless we’re having company because, well, we’ll end up eating it all.  I’ve long been a fan of serving a more traditional tiramisu (made in a large pan) by scooping it into pretty glasses (rather than slicing it to serve on a plate).  When I developed the Tiramisu Parfait recipe for Quick-Fix Vegan it was to provide as an easy way to enjoy tiramisu without the fuss and time-consuming bother of the traditional. I soon realized this version is especially ideal for small households because you can make it in smaller portions.
With these parfaits, you can have all the luscious creamy coffee and chocolate flavor of tiramisu in a fraction of the time. And perhaps even more important, if there are just   one or two of you in the house, this scaled-down recipe takes the extra temptation of leftovers out of the equation. (To serve more people, double the recipe or simply follow the recipe in Quick-Fix Vegan). If you don’t have parfait glasses, martini glasses are a good choice, but any small dessert dishes will suffice. Here’s another photo of a tiramisu parfait — this one taken by Linda Evans when she tested the recipe for me:
This recipe is on our “short list” for a Valentine’s Day dessert this year. If you’re planning a romantic dinner for two on Valentines Day, this may be a sweet ending to your special meal.  You can dress up the parfaits for Valentine’s Day by topping each with a fresh strawberry, a few raspberries, or even a few dried cranberries or cherries and sliced almonds (as I did in the top photo). A few chocolate curls would be nice too!
Tiramisu Parfaits..for Two
This dessert tastes best (and firms up a bit) if allowed to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two, but is also perfectly yummy if eaten right away. If you don’t have vegan shortbread cookies on hand, you can use another type of cookie or cake with complementary flavors.  This recipe is adapted from Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson (c) 2011.
  • 1/4 cup hot black coffee
  • 1/4 cup natural sugar
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup cashew butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 vegan shortbread-type cookies (storebought or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
1. Combine the coffee and sugar in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the cream cheese, cashew butter, vanilla, and the reserved coffee mixture. Blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Break a cookie into the bottom of each of 2 parfait glasses or other dessert glasses. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon of Kahlua and top with a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with the layering of the remaining cookies, Kahlua, and cream cheese mixture, until the glasses are full, ending with a layer of the cream cheese mixture, dusted with cocoa powder.
4. Serve at once or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Serves 2 

Happy Halloween + Winner of Quick-Fix Vegan!

Today is a big day. It’s the last day of Vegan MoFo. It’s time to announce the winner of Quick-Fix Vegan in my latest giveaway. And it’s Halloween~and you know what that means: another edible Jack O’Lantern!

This time, the Jack O’ Lantern was made by topping a bowl of black bean chili with some mashed sweet potatoes. Easy to do and so much fun to eat. If you’ve never had sweet potatoes with a spicy-hot chili, you won’t believe how good it is. I put extra chipotles in this chili so it is super-spicy. And the creamy sweet potatoes are the perfect way to tame that heat.

When I was making the chili, I reserved about a half cup of the cooked black beans so I’d have them to make Jack’s face. After placing the beans for the facial features, I had some beans left, so I arranged them on top of the chili, around the edge of the sweet potatoes to help the Jack O’Lantern pop a bit. Jack’s little green stem is a piece of Italian pole bean.  Almost too cute to eat, huh?

Okay, so here’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for. The winner of a copy of my new cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan — chosen at random via Random.org — is comment # 41 by Panda With Cookie!! Congrats, Panda with Cookie! Please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get Quick-Fix Vegan in the mail to you.

As another Vegan MoFo comes to a close, I’m happy to know that some new subscribers found their way to my blog. From what I hear, some people read the MoFo posts in alphabetical order, so maybe next year I’ll change my blog name from “Vegan Planet” to “AA Aardvark.” What do you think?

Have a safe Halloween everyone, and please, if you have any outdoor kitties, please bring them inside. 

Here’s a closing shot of my favorite baby cardinal that lives in our butterfly bush.  Her name is Wallflower:

Halloween Pizza

In my continuing obsession with Halloween themed food, today’s post features pizza!  The top photo shows a Jack o’ Lantern pizza.  It may not be the prettiest Jack o’ Lantern, but he sure was tasty.  I blended the pizza sauce and spices with some vegan cream cheese to lighten the color from red to orange. I then “brushed” some red pizza sauce on each side of the face (hard to see in the photo) to add some depth.  The facial features are made out of kalamata olives and the pumpkin stem is a piece of artichoke heart.  I put this together quickly with on-hand ingredients, but if I were to to it for guests, I might use slices of eggplant (peel side up) for some or all of the features to be larger and more dramatic.

This next pizza is my attempt at making a spider and his web.  Again, it’s not the most artistic pizza in the world, but you get the idea. (Kalamata spiders are my favorite!)

And if yesterday’s baked pumpkin oatmeal wasn’t enough pumpkin for you, try this Moroccan-Spiced Pumpkin Hummus from Quick-Fix Vegan — the recipe is posted on GoDairyFree.org.

Stay tuned for more Halloween treats — no tricks — during the rest of this week.  And don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan – (contest closes Sunday night).

Quick-Fix Vegan Giveaway — and Last Week’s Winner!

The winner of this week’s “Make My Monday” cookbook giveaway, chosen randomly is #12, VeggieAmanda, whose favorite pantry ingredient is nutritional yeast.  Congratulations!!!  Send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of Vegan Unplugged right out to you.

For my final cookbook giveaway during VeganMoFo, I am giving away a copy of my brand new cookbook: Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy, Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve seen loads of amazing tester photos from this book, as well as a few sample recipes.  I’ve also posted a list of many of the recipe titles here.

If you already enjoy my other 30-minute cookbook, Quick-Fix Vegetarian, then you’ll love this all new “companion volume” Quick-Fix Vegan. (Yes, these are TWO DIFFERENT cookbooks!) 

Okay, so how do you win a copy?  Simple: just leave a comment at the end of this post that answers this question: “Why would you like to win a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan?”

That’s it! One lucky winner will be selected at random. And if you want to increase your chances, you can do any or all of the following, and leave a comment for each that you do:
1. Follow me on Twitter: @GlobalVegan
2. Link to this giveaway on Twitter

3. Link to this giveaway on Facebook
4. Link to this giveaway on your blog 
5. Subscribe to this blog
6. “Like” Quick-Fix Vegan on Amazon
The contest closes Sunday night 10/30 at midnight.  The winner will be announced next Monday 10/31. So, tell me, why do you want to win a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan?

Come for the Cheesecake, Stay for the Cat House

During VeganMoFo I designated Saturday on my blog as “Sweet Tooth Saturday,” so here is a photo of the sublimely delicious (as well as quick and easy) chocolate cheesecake from Quick-Fix Vegan.  In the book, the cheesecake is made in a square pan, although it can also be made in a springform pan as in this tester photo (shown here with a drizzle of balsamic glaze — thanks, Lea!).

Today is also “Caturday” which brings us to the real star of today’s post: the custom house that Jon built for Jason, the semi-feral cat that shares our property and our hearts.  Several people asked to see photos of Jason’s house and I’m happy to oblige. As you can see in this first photo, Jon designed the roof to have a wide overhang in the front so that Jason can eat and drink in the shade when it’s hot and stay dry when it rains or snows.  The sides of the house extend in the front a bit as well, against the wind.  Jason like to relax on the flat roof in the summer.

Jon made this house with some plywood and 2x4s.  It’s solid, and the removeable roof is great for cleaning out the house.  The interior is easy to insulate during cold weather. In the warmer months I put in an outdoor chair cushion for Jason to sleep on, usually with a towel on top that I replace frequently, especially if it’s rainy to avoid dampness in his house.

In the colder months, I put one of those cat “cubes” inside and insulate around the sides and bottom.  I also place a sheet of thin silver “astronaut” blanket that I fold inside a soft towel for Jason to sleep on which creates added warmth from his body heat, even in the winter. This photo shows the inside with the roof off:

We’ve positioned the house just a few feet across from our back door so I can keep tabs on Jason and also so he can feel like he’s part of the family.  He likes to hang with Gary at the back door.

If you’re not handy with a hammer, you can buy a ready-made shelter, but even if you’re not a master carpenter, there are lots of simple house designs you can find like these from the Maryland Feline Society.  There are also some great tips for helping feral cats in the winter on Alley Cat Allies.

Quick-Fix Vegan: Global Tester Tour

This “Tester Tuesday” post features more recipe tester photos from my new book, Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy, Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less.  These particular photos are a mini-tour of recipes from around the world.  At the top of this post you see luscious Spicy Smoked Portobello Tacos — so easy to make and loaded with flavor. Mushrooms never tasted so good!
Here is another favorite, Deconstructed Bahn Mi Salad — if you’re a fan of my blog, you know how much I love the flavors in a bahn mi sandwich — heck, I’ve even made a bahn mi pizza!  But for those times when you want all the flavor without all the bread, this salad is the answer.  You can make it with your choice of seitan or tofu and garnish with a few slices of toasted baguette.

Speaking of seitan, here’s an elegant and delicious way to serve it.  Seitan Forestiere is made with a creamy mushroom sauce inspired by the classic sauce of the same name.

Finally, we have the Special Spicy Empanadas.  Made with a puff pastry dough and a sweet potato and pinto bean filling, these empanadas can be assembled in a flash (even faster if you have a leftover baked sweet potato) and bake up in just 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip around the world with Quick-Fix Vegan.  Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed me about my new book, and also to those who’ve mentioned it on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. I’m very appreciative that this book is being so well received and hope you’ll continue to help me get the word out to others about it.