Aug 1, 2012

"vegan sandwiches save the day!" + giveaway

Happy August, everyone! 

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day is in my hands and I am ready to pass it on to one lucky winner! Tami Noyes and Celine Steen are the authors of this can't-do-without cookbook of over 100 to-die-for sandwiches. I know. I tested for them last summer - "the super summer of sandwiches." 

To start the Fall off with a bang (I know, it isn't fall, yet, but ever since we had a cool day here in Chicago my youngest has been on the Halloween kick and I am feeling a little autumn-y even if the weather is not.) By Fall I mean, it is time to blog again. What better way to begin the blogging new year than with a free, brand spanking new cookbook, hot off the presses? Tami and Celine are sending me a cookbook for being a tester and I am getting my own from Amazon (via so I have a copy up for grabs. The only restriction is that I can only ship in the US. 

Since I received the book, the family has been wanting me to actually use it - so, very carefully, I looked at the recipe, from far away in the living room so as not to get it dirty, and made Kate's favorite: Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich. This one is made with a garlicky spread, avocado and Tami's and Celine's Moo-Free Seitan. Cute name, huh? The seitan is robust, the bread is crunchy, being served on a ciabatta bread, and the avocado gives it a deliciously creamy element. We all love this sandwich!

The second sandwich I made last night was an homage to Ray Bradbury. The author of Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes (as well as many, many other works) died last month on June 5, just shy of his 92nd birthday. He was raised here in Chicagoland, in Waukegan, and I still drive by his childhood home, my kids play in the ravine that he made so famous in Dandelion Wine and we are constantly reminded of his legacy. Tami and Celine must have seen it coming since one of their sandwiches is Something Blackened This Way Comes. Great sandwich in honor of a fantastic writer. If you haven't read Dandelion Wine or Something Wicked, you should. His writing is lyrical, poetic and just such a pleasure to read. I sometimes read him just to hear the rhythmic flow of his writing. It is just simply pure. 

This sandwich would have made him happy, I think. The delightful spiciness of the No Cluck Cutlets and the cooling relish with the creamy spread is perfectly wicked. 

I made a little side dish for these wonderful sandwiches, Crispy Kale and Patty Pan Squash.  I used the leftover blackened seasoning mix from the sandwich above as a tie-in, but that is a bonus which I cannot give away. It is in the book, though! Or, you can head over to Tami's and Celine's websites (links above) to get some free recipes, from this very book. Or better yet, get yourself a copy! 

If you want to try to win my copy, please leave a comment and I will let pick the winner. 

Jun 26, 2012

creamy summer chowder + camping

I am not one to indulge in fancy camping food, but I will say that camping food should not be boring. Camping food is doubly challenging in that while it should be delicious, it should also be easy and quick. The two are not necessarily always the same thing. Not sure if others have the same problem, but my teenagers are not thrilled to go camping, so the only card I have up my sleeve is the food one. At times, their stomach is the only reason they feel it is even bearable to go camping. I know family outings will give them some great memories, even if those feelings won't manifest until they are grown up and moved out.

A great way to make sure you have great food and easy prep at camping (after all who wants to be chopping vegetables on a rickety table?) is to prep everything that is practical and possible at home. 

One of the meals we had this trip was a Creamy Summer Chowder. It has a little almond milk, but the bulk of the creaminess is derived from blended corn and the cooked potatoes releasing some starch into the dish. Prepping this meal involved cutting all the vegetables in your nice clean kitchen. Separating the onion, pepper, celery and tomatoes allows the cook to saute them before adding the content of the second prepped bag - blended corn, potatoes and seasonings. After cooking the chowder over the fire for about 20 minutes, the dish is ready. It is a sweet-tasting summer-flavored smoky soup that involves very little prep time at camp and an abundance of flavor. 

We served the chowder with  grilled sandwiches. Anyone remember Pie Irons? Loads of fun and easy to use. The kids loved it and they cooked great sandwiches.. as well as pies.