Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Imaginary Ordinary's One Year Anniversary!!!!

Happy Anniversary!
It was today, one year ago, I entered the blogosphere.  This blog has been a great way for me to share my recipes, food, suggestions, and vegan findings. It  has also opened up the wide world of vegan blogging and I have learned sooo much!!

In honor of my one year of vegan blogging, I decided to share what I love most about being vegan, not only of the past year, but through my whole journey of veganism (on and off the wagon for four years now...)


Incorporating sooo many fresh fruits and veggies into my diet!! 2006: Berry picking in Tatitlik, AK, featured berries: salmon, blue, and cloud.

Learning and experimenting with so many new and fun recipes, and taking the turkey out of Thanksgiving! 
2007: My first homemade Tofurkey

Sharing wonderful meals with wonderful people! Pictured above two of my dearest friends, Dblanch and Rache! Here enjoying a pre-New Years Eve Party Dinner enjoying eggplant curry!

 Even in the backcountry I can whip up a mean vegan dish! Above my famous Thai Peanut Pasta - backpackers style! On Resurrection Pass, AK 2008.

Reinventing breakfast ... see ya eggs. Saturday Morning Fresh Toast!! 

Vegan baking... enough said! Check out my goods @ Mazag, 10th and Carpenter!

Learning that tofu is the superman of food and can transform and save any dish! Tofu quiche.

ahh... Wheat Gluten. The next best thing under the sun ... my favorite ... Buffalo Bites

There are just my favorite treats in the whole world so I had to picture them, Buckeyes.

Thanks to all my loyal readers for following, sharing, and enjoying the imaginary ordinary vegan. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DYI: Salad Dressing

I'm always amazed walking down the salad dressing isle of a grocery store and seeing the hundreds of bottles lined in colorful rows. The variety of dressings we have to choose from is somewhat shocking... what's even more shocking is what is in them ... I can't pronounce half of the ingredients, and then of course there's the little high fructose corn syrup or sugar that seem to sneak into every bottle.

Have no fear. Salad dressings are easy, fun, and super affordable to make.
I started making all of my salad dressings this year, and I'm sure I have saved tons of money by doing so. I love knowing that when I'm craving a bit hearty salad I can dress it up with no problem.
My DYI dressing over spinach, apples, avocado, and sesame seeds! 

The easy "go to" of DYI salad dressings is, naturally, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil with a dash of salt and pepper. But the combinations are limitless!

Toby Hatchett from Seacoast Online wrote a great article if you're new to making your own dressings. His article includes basic recipes for all types of salad dressings (not-veg friendly, but substitutions are basic). He also reminds us most salad dressings are 2 parts oil per 1 part vinegar.

Other resources are available via the world wide web and your book shelves! I don't know a single vegan cookbook that doesn't have a dressing recipe in it. One of my personal favorites is the Vegetarian Times website and magazine. In every issue they have divine salads paired with simple and elegant dressings. Once you've played around with recipes its easy and fun to start creating your own concoctions.

My go to salad dressing is (sorry I've never once measured the ingredients, I always end up just throwing them together in a food processor! but I encourage you to do the same!):
-Olive Oil
-Apple Cider Vinagar
-Lemon Juice
-dash of salt
-Medjool Dates (about 2 chopped)
-and a dash of water (so it's not a dip, but more of a dressing)

I almost always use tahini as my base for dressing because I love the stuff. Other fun salad dressing ingredients are:
-grapefruit juice
-orange juice
-lime juice
-sesame oil
-peanut oil
-nutritional yeast
-sesame seeds

Like I said earlier the combinations are endless!
So load up the processor or blender the next time you've got a bowl full of greens waiting and experiment!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Carrot Cutie!

So, yes, I work at Wholefoods, and I know I may mention them from time to time ... well this is one of those times.
Today is one of my dear friends birthday. His cake request ... Carrot! Yum! As I was out and about yesterday I needed ingredients and didn't feel like coming all the way home only to go out and get them ... so I did a quick google search on ... awesome vegan carrot cake. To my surprise the Wholefoods website sported what sounded like an awesome cake, using both applesauce and almond milk for moisture. Another lure was the name .."Triple Layer". To me this means A LOT of cake. So instead of going the full triple layer, I made a double layer cake and a dozen cupcakes!

These are sooo delicious! This recipe is spot on. I did make a few adjustments here and there, just given what I was working with.
For instance, while shopping at Wholefoods they were out of plain applesauce (what!?) so I opted for the cinnamon, thus nixing the called for cinnamon in the recipe (which is only like a tsp. ) but it worked! Also, instead of 3 tbsp of egg replacer I just went ahead and used a banana. I replaced the walnuts with sliced almonds, and maybe a couple of other adjustments here and there, nothing serious.

For the cream cheese frosting ... I basically followed their recipe except it sounded like it yielded a lot of frosting (1 1/2 lb of tofutti ... yeah right!) I used an 8 oz tub of tofutti, about 1/2 cup powder sugar, tsp vanilla, and about 1/2 cup earth balance .. give or take. It provided just enough for the job! (but not enough to write Codee's name on the cake :(

If I've said it once I'll say it a million times ... This cake is banging!
Today we'll be enjoying it at Rays Happy Birthday Bar.
Happy Birthday Codee!!

Carrot Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons egg replacer
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup safflower oil
1 cup almond milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 pound carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 cup seedless raisins

12 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine, chilled and cut into pieces
1 1/2 pounds soy cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease three (9-inch) round cake pans; set aside.

For the cake, put flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and egg replacer into a mixing bowl and whisk together to blend. Put sugar in a separate large mixing bowl and whisk in safflower oil, almond milk and applesauce. When fully combined, add almond milk mixture to flour mixture and mix just until smooth. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, then divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center springs back gently when pressed. Remove from oven and transfer to racks to let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat margarine in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add cream cheese in pieces and mix until thoroughly blended. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and mix until blended. Increase mixer speed slightly and continue mixing for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Place a cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake plate or pedestal. Spoon one-quarter of the frosting onto the top and spread it evenly. Place a second cake layer, bottom side down, on top of the first, and spread with an equal amount of frosting. Place the final cake layer, bottom side down, on top of the others and frost the top and sides with remaining frosting. Cover and chill until ready to serve or set aside to let set for 30 minutes, then cut into slices and serve.


Per serving (1/16 cake/201g-wt.): 590 calories (290 from fat), 32g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 9g protein, 72g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 47g sugar), 0mg cholesterol, 640mg sodium

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Imaginary Ordinary Goes Public!

I have some awesome news.
The cafe down the street from my house, Mazag, located on 10th and Carpenter will be selling my very own baked goods!!
If your in the hood, or strolling through the italian market, check them out.

Today I dropped off my first goodies to sell.

Nothing too jazzy, but there's more to come.
A plain cheesecake topped with kiwis and chocolate cupcakes with cookies n' cream icing that has a nice shimmer to it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kitchen Must Haves

Ok Ok Ok, so I decided to just go back to my old layout with a new picture. I thought the new year, the new decade, could use a little change, but then I remembered ... change is bad.

I recently just bought a pizza stone. This is a must have in any kitchen if you enjoy baking pizza's (which I do!) and other crispy things .. i.e. crackers.
A pizza stone is basically a large either rectangular or circular stone that just sits in your oven. The pizza  is baked on it, and the stone's main advantage is that it helps evenly distribute the heat, and the porous nature of the stone (usually unglazed terra cotta) helps absorb excess moisture which leaves you with a brilliant crispy crust every time!

I was sick of making delicious pizzas and then the center crust being soggy. So, I buckled up and bought a stone. There are many different varieties and brands out there, and they can be as inexpensive as $15.00.

The first delicious pizza I made on the new stone was a white pizza (no sauce, just olive oil and garlic) with butternut squash, asparagus, and sea salt.

Pizza #2 was a typical homemade sauce with fresh rosemary (despite all the snow our plant is still kickin it on the roof ... you go rosemary ...) topped with onion, broccoli, and a nice ricotta we whipped up by food processing raw cashews, nooch, salt, olive oil and lemon!

Lauren the Primo Pizza Crust maker shows her skills

Jamie holding the pizza up just by the crispy crust! Oh how I love thee Pizza Stone!

Another must have for baking ... a mini-bundt cake pan! These are adorable little cakes that make a perfect gift or accent to a dessert tray. I don't own them yet, but next paycheck, they're mine (only one new kitchen gadget a week ... ).
Mini-bundts! Next to mini-cakes.

Andrew the Adorable baker with the mini-cakes. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wild Rice Soup

I apologize for yet again another change in layout .... uhhh blogger why do allow for such limited layout selections!

Here in Philly we've been having major snow! YAY! And not only is it beautifying the entire city, its also giving me time to play in the warm kitchen. After yesterdays walk in the park, snow octopus building, snow volleyball, and of coarse snowball fight, all I wanted to eat was a bowl of warm delicious soup. My all time favorite soup is Wild Rice ... I added shitake mushrooms which gives it a nice meaty texture.

Wild Rice Soup with Shitake Mushrooms
- 3 tbsp earth balance
-2 small yellow onions - finely chopped
-1 cup diced shitake mushrooms *
-3 1/2 cups water
-1/2 cup soaked (24 hrs.) raw cashews
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 cup wild rice
-1/2 cup hemp milk
-salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot on med-high heat melt the earth balance and saute with the onions and mushrooms until soft (about 5 mns). Add your water and bring to a boil. While the water is boiling, blend the cashews with the olive oil until thick and creamy. Once the water is boiling, stir in the rice and cashew blend, turn down heat to a simmer and let sit covered for one hour.
Add the hemp milk and salt and pepper to taste.
my favorite!!! 

snow octopus

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Does it Again!

Recently I've been fixated by cauliflower. Everyday I grow a greater appreciation for this awesome vegetable, and the creaminess it is capable of bringing to any dish.
The latest ...
Cream of Cauliflower soup.
I was given this recipe by a non-vegan friend who made it non-vegan at a potluck, and I vowed to make a vegan version.
It worked ... I definitely over compensated on the creaminess thinking that it wouldn't live up to the cream of the non-vegan version, so next time around Im going to add some more water, but needless, this is a super thick, super creamy, super yummy, super easy recipe! Please Enjoy!

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
- 3 leeks - only white/light green parts
- 10 cups cauliflower - chopped in one inch pieces
- 3 tbsp earth balance
- 1 cup soaked raw cashews
- 1 cup soy creamer
- 2 cups hemp milk
- 4 cups water (I originally made it with 2 cups, so go ahead and up the h2o right off the bat, and if it's still too thick, just keep it coming)
-salt and pepper to taste

In a very large or two fry pans, evenly divide up the leeks, cauliflower, and earth balance. Saute until the cauliflower is semi-soft, about 20 - 25 minutes.
In a large soup pot combine all the liquid ingredients with the veggies and cook on med heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
Blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

the whole dinner = creamy cauliflower soup, steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, buffalo seitan and basil aioli! YUM!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I need to Spelt it out

Recently my roommate became a part of a food-buying club. Smaller than a co-op, but basically the same concept: buy from local farmers in bulk and split it amongst a group of interested individuals. Being an avid baker, flour was number 1 on my list when he asked me what I would like in bulk ... however, the only flour on the list was Spelt ... therefore, I now have 10 lbs. of spelt flour, something I've never used before in my life and have no idea what to do with it .... help?!?

Purusing the web searching for spelt recipes, I came across a blueberry spelt pancake recipe from Eatn Vegan in Toronto. It's a super easy recipe, and the pancakes turned out great!

From Eatn Vegan:


2 cups of spelt flour
1 tsp of baking soda
2 cups of soy milk
1 cup of fresh blueberries
Maple Syrup
1 banana, and chopped strawberries (optional)


Mix flour and baking soda in a bowl, add in soy milk (you could also use almond milk, or non-dairy milk of choice) and mix well.
Drop in your blueberries and stir.
Heat a pan to medium heat (I used a non stick pan, otherwise use a bit of oil to prevent sticking).
Drop 1/4 of a cup of the batter at a time into the pan. When you see bubbles and the edges beginning to to golden, flip the pancake. Continue on making pancakes!

I didn't use the banana's or strawberry's but just covered the cakes in earth balance and pure maple syrup :) 

If anyone out there knows of some awesome spelt recipes, please, SEND THEM MY WAY!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cauliflower ... its the new Creamy

Cauliflower (or should we say Transformaflower) is a vegetable that has taken it upon itself to be the new creamy substitute... sorry tofu, you can't have all the glory. Steamed and blended cauliflower transforms into a delicious creamy medium that is suitable for soups, casseroles, sauces, dips, etc ... if the creaminess factor needs to be turned up a notch, call cauliflower in for the job. I recently used cauliflower as a creamy addition to a "cheesy" sauce for macaroni and cheese. Along with some soaked cashews this dish was delicious and dare I say it ... nutritious!?!
A half cup of tofu contains 10 grams of protein while half a cup of cashews is 18 grams!! (and who says vegans don't get enough protein?) Now lets look at the nutritional bennies of substituting cauliflower for your creamer shall we ...
The cauliflower in this recipe is steamed, then blended, so a half of cup only adds a whopping 14 calories, no fat, 46% of your daily vitamin C, and is high in phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B6. Not too shabby.
If you're looking for an awesome Mac N' Cheese recipe for those days when you just want to curl up on the couch, or need a kick a$$ dish to share at those ever so lovely potlucks, give this a shot ...

the new and vegan improved ...

 Mac N' Cheese
-1 lb. elbow macaroni
-pinch o' salt
-2 cups soaked cashews (soaked at least 1 hr.)
-4 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 cup Rice milk
-1 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tbsp red miso
-swirl o agave nectar
-1/2 cup cauliflower florets, steamed
-1 tbsp crushed red pepper
-1 tbsp dried basil
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup bread crumbs
-2 tbsp earth balance

Preheat oven to 350.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil with a dash of salt. Add in the macaroni and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Drain and set aside.
In a food processor combine soaked cashews and garlic, and pulse until well chopped.
Add in remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth and ... creamy ...
Place noodles in an 8 x 13 baking dish and stir in cream sauce, covering every noodle. With a spoon evenly spread noodle mix in dish and cover with bread crumbs, while throwing little dollops of earth balance on top.
Place uncovered in oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until macaroni has reached a nice golden brown.
Serves 10 or more!