Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The last day of Vegan MoFo, Czech Pancakes and Czech lazy dinner

This is officially the last day of Vegan MoFo. I am so happy that I joined this vegan worldwide blogging event. This was my first year of Vegan MoFoing and I am sure that I will do it again next year. Vegan MoFo was a great kick-start for my blog. It was fun. I had a chance to find some cool blogs and amazing people that I would not know abut if it was not for Vegan MoFo. I found a lot of inspiration for recipes, pictures and other things on these awesome blogs. I participated in many blog giveaways and contests and even won something. I did three giveaways on my blog and I will do much more in the future. There were days that I would rather watch TV, read or go to bed after a long day at work, but I didn't give up and posted every single day. I am quite proud of myself :-) I didn't think that I could do it, but here I am, doing my last Vegan MoFo post. Thank you for reading my blog and commenting and thank you all Vegan MoFoers for posting as much as you could on your blogs.
To honor the last day of this journey I wanted to share some more veganized traditional Czech foods. I created a vegan version of Czech pancakes. Czech pancakes look more like a thicker version of crepes, not the typical American pancakes that you pour maple syrup on.

Palačinky (Czech Pancakes-Crepes)

4 1/3 cups almond or soy milk

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

4 tsp. corn starch

3 Tbs sugar

powdered sugar topping (optional)

Filling: Jam, Apple or Prune Butter or Chocolate-Hazelnut spread

In a blender, mix all the ingredients together until smooth, adding more milk if the batter is too thick.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium-hight heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Pour a thin layer of batter into the center of the pan, holding the pan firmly and tilting the pan in circular motion so the batter spreads in a thin layer across the bottom of the pan. Cook until the top is dry and flip to cook the other side. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Spread with filling of your choice and roll it up. You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar. Serve Palačinky warm or cold.

A typical American looking for as quick and easy dinner will reach for a frozen "TV dinner" that is microwaved in few minutes.
A typical Czech looking for a quick and easy dinner will boil some hot dogs in a pot with water and serve them with mustard or ketchup, and a rye bread (usually with caraway seeds). This is my vegan quick and easy dinner that mimics the typical Czech dinner. It took me only 5 minutes to prepare. So simple and yet so delicious. I also used some horseradish sauce along with mustard and ketchup.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tempeh steaks, quinoa salad and carrot ginger soup

Tonight's dinner: Tempeh steaks with quinoa salad, and creamy carrot ginger soup with soy yogurt swirl.

Vegan Dream Jerky Giveaway

Few weeks ago I did a review about Vegan Dream Jerky. Vegan Dream company generously donated some jerky for today's giveaway. One lucky winner will get all four delicious flavors.

Vegan Dream Jerky a tasty, thin, tough and chewy snack that mimics beef jerky in texture and flavor.

I will pick one random comment next Monday evening. There are several possible ways to enter this giveaway, but you have to leave a comment for each option to count, if you leave one big comment with everything in it it will only count as one. The more comments, the better the chances are to win :-)

# Leave a comment telling what is your favorite vegan jerky, or if you have ever tried any vegan jerky

# Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment that you did or that you already were a follower

# Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment that you did with your Twitter name

# Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment that you did

# "Like" Czech Vegan in America on Facebook and leave a comment that you did

# "Like" Vegan Dream Jerky on Facebook and leave a comment that you did

# Mention this giveaway, with the link, in a blog post, and leave a link to the post in a comment

# For extra 5 entries-make any recipe from Czech Vegan in America blog, and blog about it. Leave 5 separate comments for the entries.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tonight's dinner "Sheesy" potatoes and baked tofu

I made "Sheesy" potatoes, baked tofu, beet and spinach salad, and half dipped chocolate pretzels for a dinner tonight.

I drained the tofu and marinated it overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil and vegan worcestershire sauce. I baked the tofu. I cooked some teeny tiny potatoes from Trader Joe's and sprinkled shredded Gouda Sheese on top. I served that with raw spinach, red beets and tomatoes. I melted some chocolate chips and dipped the pretzels in. Then I chilled the pretzels in the freezer on a baking sheet until the chocolate got firm. Now I am getting ready to watch some TV and relax after a crazy work week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Amazing vegan cheese "Sheese" review

In addition to being a chocoholic I am also a cheeseholic. I grew up eating tons of cheese, there were soft creamy cheese spreads that came in dozen of flavors (kind of like a cream cheese here), hard Emmental (Swiss cheese) with holes (as a kid I believed that the holes were chewed by mice), "moldy" blue cheese, brie, Babybel cheese wrapped in a wax coating, and smelly cheese that was aged on top of raw meat and had to be stored in a glass container or on the balcony otherwise it would stink up the whole house. One of my favorite cheeses was a blue cheese though. I used to eat it plain or shredded over hot potatoes or pasta. I would make creamy spread from blue cheese and butter.

When I first became a vegetarian at the age of 15, I would eat even more cheese and yogurts to make up for the missing meat protein in my diet. Back then I didn't know or didn't think that dairy was bad, gross, or cruel. Eating cheese and drinking milk was always a very cultural thing in Czech Republic. Czech Republic was not very friendly towards vegetarians or vegans back then. If you went to a restaurant and wanted some vegetarian meal, the only option was a breaded deep fried cheese with french fries. In fast food restaurants or at the street stands the only vegetarian option was a breaded deep fried cheese in a bun with tartar sauce or ketchup. My family rarely ate out so I would enjoy the deep fried cheese as a treat. Sometimes I would make it at home. I almost lived on bread and cheese. I haven't tasted a cheddar cheese until I was about 18 years old. I was working for an English family and they had cheddar cheese at home. I fell in love with the cheese. I could not get enough of it. I found out that I could buy it at a specialty store even though it was insanely expensive. The same family also introduced me to sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and peanut butter.

When I moved to USA I continued eating tons of cheese and since cheddar cheese was cheap and easily available, I would indulge myself daily, plus I would buy snacks with cheddar flavors. Things changed dramatically when I found out that most of my beloved cheese contained rennet that came from calves stomachs. I was horrified and stopped eating any cheese with animal rennet. Unfortunately there were some companies that used a vegetarian rennet instead so I continued feeding my cheese addiction. Later I realized how nasty and cruel the dairy industry was and stopped eating cheese and drinking milk. That was the beginning of my veganism. I also stopped eating eggs and other animal by-products. The eggs I didn't miss at all, but I missed the cheese. I tried to find a delicious vegan cheese that would taste good, melt easily and that I could eat plain (not just added to food). Most vegan options were nasty, weird, waxy or had funky textures. Luckily I saw some European vegan cheese options online about 2 years ago. They were made in Scotland by Sheese company. I thought that this would be the last chance that I would give to a vegan cheese. I ordered the Blue variety and.......WOW! It was a love at a first bite. Until then I could not eat any vegan cheese plain the way I used to eat a dairy cheese. With Sheese I can enjoy it as it is. The taste is very similar (not exactly the same) to a real blue cheese. The color is white without any blue or green spots, but it smells like blue cheese and tastes wonderful.

This picture is from Sheese website, I like the presentation

The kind folks at Black Duck Imports (The exclusive importer of Sheese for USA) were so nice and sent me some other flavors of Sheese to try, including the creamy Sheese. I enjoyed my samples very much, eating them on crackers, with veggies, fruits, or by themselves. I also used them in meals and created a recipe for a yummy Olive Pizza with Blue Cheese and Walnuts.
Sheese cheeses taste great, they melt well and their texture is dense, buttery and smooth, unlike some other vegan cheese options. Over the last few weeks I ate Strong Cheddar (very cheesy almost smokey flavor), Blue (just like a blue cheese-the smell and taste), Smoked Cheddar (insanely great and surprising bacon like smell and flavor), medium Cheddar (yellow colored very cheesy like flavor), Gouda (very cheesy and authentic), and Mozzarella (mild cheese flavor but very smooth). Here are some examples where I used the Sheese.
I also tried the creamy cheese (almost like a cream cheese with amazing flavors). I tried the Garlic and Herb (very herbal and garlicky, excellent as a veggie dip or on crackers), the Mexican style (with chili, coriander, cumin, jalapeno peppers). I am still waiting to try the original version, because I want to make some vegan Tiramisu with it later. The Mexican style was bursting with spicy flavors and it made a wonderful spread on avocado and tomato sandwiches. If you like spicy stuff, this is great, not just spicy, but tasty, too.

I would buy more Sheese if it was available in grocery stores, or at least at Whole Foods. I don't mind paying a little bit more for Sheese compare to other vegan options, because it is worth every penny and it lasts a while. Plus the taste is more then convincing. So far I have to buy it online, but there are several stores in USA that carry Sheese products. There is a flyer online that I printed out and brought it to my local Whole Foods market. I gave it to the store manager with a request for the products. The flyer has all important info included so all you need to do is print it out and bring it to your local stores if you want them to carry these vegan cheese options. I am still waiting for a response from the manager. Here is the link to the flyer. Please, check it out.

Garlic and Herb Creamy Sheese and Strong Cheddar Sheese with crackers and cranberries

Gouda style Sheese with kalamata olive

Mexican Style Creamy Sheese

Chili with Strong Cheddar Sheese

Black beans, avocados, rice, red onions, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, taco seasoning and Gouda Sheese

Pasta with tomato sauce and Mozzarella Sheese

Pasta with Smoked Cheddar Sheese and peas

Friday, November 26, 2010

Warm cardamon cinnamon rice pudding with peaches and vanilla sauce

It was so cold outside. I wanted something comforting, sweet and warm. I had few options, but I didn't want to spend my entire evening in the kitchen, especially after the big Thanksgiving cooking frenzy.......
I decided to make a warm rice pudding with cardamon and cinnamon cooked in almond milk. I made a quick vanilla sauce out of a vanilla soy yogurt. I served the pudding with peaches and let me tell you, it was sooooo good! Warm, spicy, sweet, creamy, juicy...All kinds of different flavors and textures were dancing on my tongue.
It was quick and easy. I cooked some basmati rice in almond milk with cinnamon, sugar, and cardamon. I heated some vanilla soy yogurt on the stove and poured that over the rice pudding.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My vegan Thanksgiving among meat eaters

I baked my Tofurky roast last night. I could not resist and had some for dinner with mashed sweet potatoes yesterday.
I was invited to my aunt's and uncle's house for Thanksgiving. Over the years I have become more tolerant towards meat eaters and I don't make any negative comments or give them hard time while they chew on their dead turkey leg smothered in gravy and wash it down with a glass of cold cow's milk. They are my family and I respect their choices as much as they respect my choices. We live in a real world and as much as I would love for everyone to be vegan I have to accept the fact that we live among non-vegans. Over the years they stopped making funny comments about my "weird" Tofurky and the fact that I bring my own vegan butter and check every ingredients before I put anything in my mouth at family events. I also believe that the best way to get someone interested in veganism or even try it is to show them how wonderful the food can be and that they are not missing out on anything if they go cruelty-free. I also believe that a positive attitude is the key to get meat eaters take us more seriously. There is nothing worse than a vegan who looks miserable eating a piece of lettuce and baked potato complaining and making nasty comments at a Thanksgiving table while everyone is having a good time and enjoying their full plates. I don't expect anyone to go out of their way and whip up a vegan meal for me, but I greatly appreciate if someone is thoughtful and makes some adjustments to dishes so I can enjoy them too. My aunt made amazing bread stuffing (dressing) for everyone, but used a vegetable broth instead of a chicken broth so I could enjoy it, too. I brought my own Tofurky roast that I baked at home last night. I made homemade vegan mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy for everyone and they loved it. Nobody missed the cow's milk or real butter. A big pot of mashed potatoes was gone in no time. I also baked my cranberry pumpkin walnut bread as a dessert for everyone.
What are your thoughts about family dinners among meat eaters? How was your Thanksgiving?

Tofurky Roast :-)

Basting my Tofurky

Homemade mushroom gravy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan Hearty Lentil Stew

Keri at I Eat Trees blog is doing a great cookbook giveaway. I really want to win this so I decided to make a recipe from her blog to get extra 5 entries in this contest. I checked out her recipes and many of them looked very good, but I didn't have all the ingredients. After a lot of research I found a recipe that I had all the important ingredients for. Vegan Hearty Lentil Stew was the winner. I love lentils! Unlike most beans and legumes they don't require presoaking and they taste great!
I had to improvise a bit since I didn't have baby carrots (I used regular carrots instead) and I didn't have a crockpot (or 6-7 hours until dinner for that matter). I used a regular pot instead. I simmered the stew covered for one hour and it turned out great.

Getting all the stuff ready....

Everything in the pot getting ready for cooking.....

Delicious, healthy and protein packed dinner....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My afternoon snack and the winner of Vegan Pate contest

I was craving something sweet and salty and the same time. In my pre-vegan days I liked Flipz- Chocolate covered pretzels. I used to eat them in Czech Republic, too.
Sometimes I melt some chocolate chips and use it as a dip for pretzels, but I didn't have any pretzels at home today. However, I had some salty popcorn in the pantry. I thought that it would be a brilliant idea to drizzle some melted chocolate chips over the popcorn and eat it that way. I was imagining a cool looking popcorn with little chocolate ribbons drizzled over so it would look like a gourmet chocolate popcorn. Well, my idea was far from the reality. While I was drizzling the little ribbons of chocolate over the bowl of popcorn, my Ziplock bag busted and made a huge mess, covering the popcorn and the bowl in one big pile of chocolate. It didn't look very appetizing, but it tasted great despite the horrible look. A lesson for today: next time I will not push so hard on the Ziplock bag.
To balance this not so healthy snack I bought a freshly made green smoothie (Mango, Pineapple and Spinach).

I used a true random number generator at www.random.org to pick the Vegan Pate Contest winner. The generated number-comment was 5 (April / Knightime Creations). Congratulations! April, email me your address at czech.vegan (at) yahoo.com so I can send you your prize.
By the way, thanks for noticing the numbers, I messed up :-) I had a third question but it was too complicated (name one American movie that was filmed in Prague), since many American movies that were made in Prague were also made in other places during the filming process....When I deleted the question I forgot to change the numbers.....I promise that my next giveaways and contests will not be so complicated.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded coconut
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 cups cold almond or soy milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil and flour 9-inch cake pan.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix all the wet ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until blended, adding more milk if necessary. Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I made a rum chocolate coconut frosting by combining vegan instant coconut pudding, melted chocolate chips and dark rum.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beanylicious Dip

I got a giant (5 pounds) bag of organic carrots and about 3 pounds of celery yesterday. I decided to have some for a dinner tonight and juice the rest later. Since I ran out of hummus I had to make my own dip. I wanted to do something different then hummus so I left out the usual sesame tahini, added some fresh parsley and swapped the chickpeas for white beans.

Beanylicious Dip

1 15-oz can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbs water
salt to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puree until smooth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quick dinner and a giveaway prize

I was quite lucky and won one of the daily giveaways from Miso for Breakfast blog. The prize was a coupon for one FREE Tofutti product (limited by max $3.99 value). I ended up using it for a box of frozen "Cuties". I haven't had those in a long time so I was happy to get them again.
I also bought my Thanksgiving Tofurky that was on sale at Whole Foods. I didn't buy the whole feast this year since I am on a budget and I didn't care that much about the chocolate cake that came in the feast box.

My sweet prize

I whipped up a quick dinner tonight. Nothing special, red beet & onion salad, BBQ seitan strips and potatoes with bell pepper. The simple dinner didn't turn out so great though. The potatoes were undercooked and the bell peppers were overcooked......What a mess! At least the BBQ seitan and the salad were good.

A contest reminder

You have few more days before the Vegan Pate contest is over. So far your chances to win are very high. The pate is delicious and you cannot get it in USA, so there is your chance to try it :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Olive pizza with blue cheese and walnuts

I was craving some gourmet pizza and since I had some delicious vegan blue cheese (Blue Style Sheese from Scotland), fresh thyme and olive tapenade in the fridge I though that I could combine them to create a unique pizza. Until today I never made my own pizza dough from scratch. I was always afraid to make it from scratch and I didn't want to make a mess in the kitchen. I would buy a pre-made pizza crust or a frozen pizza dough from Whole Foods since they have vegan pizza dough and pizza crust in stock most of the time. Unfortunately when I was going to buy a pizza dough or pizza crust this time, they were out. They only had cheese pizza crust and gluten-free frozen pizza dough (I don't mess around with gluten-free stuff). So I went to Publix and they didn't even have a frozen pizza dough, just some pre-made stuff that was hanging next to the freezer. They had about four varieties, even whole wheat crust. I flipped the package to see the ingredients and big bald letters with whey and mozzarella were laughing in my face. All varieties had the same unwanted ingredients. Why the heck do they have to put cheese in all of their crusts? Don't people put cheese on top? That made me so angry so I left the store without buying anything. When I got home I decided to make my very own pizza dough. I was pleased with the results and I must say I might even open a pizzeria soon :-) Here is my creation. Feel free to use any vegan cheese, but this one is the best blue cheese that I found. It truly mimics the taste of blue cheese like no other vegan cheese. I have been buying it for about two years now.

My dough before rising

For pizza dough:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs instant yeast
1 cup water
1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Beat with an electric mixer (with dough hooks) on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough into a medium size bowl that was coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. Prepare the toppings while the dough is rising.

Part of the toppings

For topping:

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into circles
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
5-6 Tbs kalamata or black olive tapenade (I used a mixture of both, plus green olives)
1/4 package of Blue Style Sheese (about 2 oz), grated
1 tsp. dried thyme

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the dried thyme and cook 1 more minute.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Coat a round baking sheet with cooking spray, or brush with olive oil. Place the dough in the middle of the baking sheet and punch it down to create a pizza crust that is about 1/2-inch thick. Prick the crust with a fork several times.
Spread the tapenade over the crust, scatter onions evenly over the tapenade and sprinkle with walnuts.
Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle the grated Sheese over the pizza and bake 10 more minutes.

Pizza before baking

Pizza after baking