Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mac Daddy and Cupcake

The Lemon Fairy Godmother brought AMAZING lemon bread to work today, so I was inspired to forgo a day of my month of hot yoga (thank you, Groupon) in favor of baking and consuming a bunch of stuff.  I'll sweat it all out tomorrow.

I came home determined to make mac and cheese... from scratch: a task often attempted and never succeeded.  Bechamel, why didn't anyone tell me about you before now?  You're the answer to so many prayers.

First things first.
Pour a glass of red wine.  Add 2 OJ ice cubes.  Instant sangria.

Shred an 8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese.  Coarsely chop 1 Anaheim pepper and 1 medium jalapeno (removing as much of the rind as you want), a little more finely for the jalapeno. Start cooking 2.5 c your favorite shaped pasta (I used some whole wheat small shells I had in the pantry).

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in 2 tbsp flour until incorporated.  Cook it for a bit, until all bubbly.  Add 1 c milk (or heavy cream; nobody's looking) and about 2 tbsp hot sauce of choice. Incorporate.  Add most of the cheese, taking into account how much you've snacked on (tilting your head back and dropping handfuls into your wide-open mouth; crumbles of cheese falling onto the floor, salivary glands bursting, and face turned to an expression of bliss, forgetting where and who you are for that moment of cheese ecstasy... where was I?) and reserving some to sprinkle on top when baking.  Once that's smooth, mix the cheese sauce with the finished pasta and the peppers in a casserole (I'd say mine's about 1.5 qt).  Sprinkle remaining cheese (if any) and bread crumbs on top, and cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

The only thing I would have done differently is saute the peppers a bit before adding to the pasta, just enough to soften them up.

Doused in more of aforementioned hot sauce, this is stupid good.

Part two of this double feature was "Carrot Cupcake, Part 2: This Time... It's Vegan."  A little burned, but it was vegan all the way, with Tofutti and Earth Balance "cream cheese" frosting... and not so charred that I didn't eat 2.5 of them before going to bed.  I mean, 1.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I've been vegetarian for a little over a year now.

People always say* "Be careful, vegetarianism is the gateway drug.  It just makes it easier to start the harder stuff."
*I have never heard anyone say this

Well, it turns out it's true.

And it turns out I am a vegan baking prodigy.

It all started two weeks ago when I made brownies for a Cinco de Mayo party.  I had read online that 1 tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with 3 tbsp water was an option for eggless baked goods, so I thought I'd give it a shot on a pan of brownies (then added 2 tbsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of chili powder... no margaritas were harmed in the making of these brownies).  Though technically not vegan (the base was a non-vegan, boxed mix), those gooey, chocolatey squares got rave reviews for the brief period before they had all been nom'ed.  Friends who perpetually turn their nose up at any mention of less meat, faux meat, or vegan options scarfed my brownies faster than my roommate's boyfriend's (by all accounts delicious) queso con carne.

Emboldened, I attempted carrot cupcakes (based on a recipe on my bag of flour).

And they were awesome.

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tbsp ground flax seed... coffee grinder works great... mixed with 3 tbsp water until viscous)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Then add:
1 c flour
1 c grated carrot
1/2 c chopped walnuts
10 oz crushed pineapple, drained (I was really surprised by the pineapple, but it made a great addition)
1/2 c raisins (I hydrated the raisins a bit in warm water first)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Bake @ 350 about 15 minutes, or until done.

I cheated on the cream cheese frosting, but even without, these were pretty delicious.

I made some oatmeal raisin cookies tonight, and they're good, but I wouldn't be able to trick my vegan non-believer friends into trying them without coercion.  After the brownies on Cinco were all gone, I was like "It's vegan, SUCKAS." The revelation was followed by shock and awe.  And those cupcakes... damn.  Cookies require legit margarine, none of this straight vegetable oil (as in today's attempt), and none of this "50% vegetable oil" stuff at the Food City.