Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating Easter 2014...

I realize this is coming a few days late but I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. Ours was quiet, and I preferred it that way. Normally I’m all about going ‘all-out’ for the holidays, and I particularly like Easter because of it’s association with Spring but lately I’ve been over-extending myself in the kitchen, - I’ve simultaneously been testing recipes for 3 different cook book authors! - and so I was content to keep things pretty low-key this year. Of course, low-key doesn’t mean lacking in flavor, or fun and there was no shortage of either this year.

We began the day with some delicious Cinnamon Zucchini Waffles - a tester recipe from Jessica over at Cupcakes and Kale - unfortunately I was in such a hurry to eat that I neglected to snap a photo! Sorry about that, but I can assure you they were quite delicious. Hearty, and yet somehow the perfect start to a lovely spring morning. Afterwards we went for a walk, to work off our meal and to soak up some very much needed Vitamin D - something that’s been severely lacking here in Chicagoland this winter.

Chocolate Orange Cake 

Later in the afternoon we gathered with my husband’s family to celebrate the holiday. Normally I make delicious vegan dishes to bring along but the past couple of years I haven’t felt much like doing that. Transporting an entire meal is kind of a hassle and so last year - as with this year - I opted to just make us a nice dinner upon our return home. We did snack on some chips and salsa, and raw veggies while hanging with the family though - and I did bring along this exquisite Chocolate Orange Cake which is Susan Voisin’s recipe from Nava Atlas’s cook book “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” It’s a pretty simple cake, very low-fat - using non-dairy yogurt instead of oil, and a half/half mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. It’s finished off with a chocolate glaze and an orange glaze and let me tell you, this thing went over like gangbusters. Really. Super delicious.

We arrived home around six in the evening and then I began working on our holiday dinner. Since I didn’t want to have a stack of books clogging up my kitchen space I decided to just pick a few dishes from “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” and have at it. The big feature - or our main dish - was the Citrus Roast Tofu which I’d left to marinate the entire time we were with the family. The marinade is a delicious mix of orange juice, orange marmalade, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, mustard and tarragon. It’s topped with lightly sauteed carrot slices, almonds, garlic, curry and parsley. So good, and definitely one of my new favorite tofu dishes. To accompany I made the Roasted Baby Carrots which were cooked in a simple blend of maple syrup, lemon juice, parsley and cinnamon. Quite tasty - and carrots are one of my favorite vegetables so I didn’t mind the double helping.  I also made the Lemony Asparagus Risotto because... well - who doesn’t love risotto? No really, my husband is crazy for Risotto and I just love the combo of Asparagus and Lemon. This particular risotto is a little different in that it’s baked inside the oven rather then cooked on the stove top, but I kind of liked that. Less fuss you know? Overall though I’d say this risotto was a bit under seasoned for my taste, and so not my favorite risotto. There was definitely enough garlic but I think next time I would add more salt and more lemon, and maybe leave out the spinach and add more asparagus - but that’s me.

Citrus Roast Tofu
Roasted Baby Carrots 
Lemony Asparagus Risotto 

For dessert - yes we had a second dessert, so what? - I made the Classic Carrot Cupcakes, because what could be more appropriate then that? These were crazy good, and I mean that. In fact they just might be my favorite carrot cupcake recipe ever, and they were so simple. Made with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead of all purpose, Maple Syrup instead of sugar, and apple sauce to cut down on the amount of oil they’re practically guilt-free. The cream cheese frosting was also luscious and delicious without being too ‘cheesy’ or too sweet.

Citrus Roast Tofu - Close up
Lemony Asparagus Risotto - Close Up

Roasted Baby Carrots - Close Up 

In addition to a delicious meal my husband and I often by one another a little something special for the holiday but we were pretty low-key about that too this year. Instead we exchanged cards and bought one another 3 bars each of the new Endangered Spices Chocolate Bars - more on this in a review post to come.

Classic Carrot Cupcakes 

All in all it was a great day. A relaxing Sunday, a subdued holiday. Beautiful weather, great food, and wonderful company, what more can you ask for?

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