Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Birthday Party, Cheesecake, Jellybean, BOOM!

There are still a couple days left to enter to win a copy of The Global Vegan Waffle Cookbook!  C'mon, you can't tell me you don't want to make Caramelized Onion and Garlic Waffles.  Of course you do!  Find out how to enter here.

This past Saturday was my 30th birthday.  I hate having a December birthday, people are always too busy to properly dote on me and buy me drinks.  There are way too many competing events.  Sometimes I think about just pretending I have a different birthday, living a lie.  But I'm seriously the worst liar; I hate having to remember different versions of reality.  Just one reality is difficult enough to remember. 

This time, though, my birthday was on a Saturday, plus I'm moving out of town really soon.  When I left Phoenixville, my friend Morgan threw me a huge party and there were so many people there and it was incredibly fun and flattering.  Pittsburgh is kind of an insular city, though, and although I certainly did make friends here, I didn't make enough to have a giant shindig in the busy month of December to celebrate/mourn my making like a tree and getting out of here.  Still, it seemed appropriate to have a small group of friends come over and eat food I cooked.  I had about 15 friends over.

Maybe you're not supposed to cook for your own birthday, I don't know.  I think you're supposed to let someone else bring you a cake at least.  But screw that!  I love to cook and, furthermore, I have a ton of food at my apartment that I'm trying to use up.  In my freezer, I had pesto I made this summer, two loaves of bread, and more diced tomatoes from my garden than I knew what to do with.  Plus, I have lots of Mori-Nu tofu and Earth Balance.  Can you see where this is going?  To me, this all points in one clear direction: grilled cheese with pesto along with tomato soup!

The grilled cheese comes more or less from Julie Hasson's book Vegan Diner.  I probably used her pesto recipe.  It's my favorite because it has spinach along with basil, and baby spinach is something I just keep around for salads and scrambled tofu and whatever else, so it's convenient.  The cheese is her Great Smoky Mountain Cheeze (the recipe is here), which is just perfect for grilled cheese.  It tastes so freaking good, and it's made from Mori-Nu tofu, and you can slice it and then spread it onto the bread.  The last time I made this, I thought it was so great, I went just a little bit crazy!  My friends loved it.  I had to send Bill out to buy some more bread.  Bill also took this next picture.  Isn't Bill helpful?
And the tomato soup, let's talk about that, shall we?  I've made every tomato soup recipe pretty much, but the one I go back to always is in Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman's book 500 Vegan Recipes.  Even though I made fat free sour cream out of tofu instead of using their sour cream recipe that contained cashews (my friend Mary is allergic to most nuts, and I wanted her to be able to eat it), the Creamy Tomato Soup was still top friggin' notch (the recipe is here). 

For dessert, sorry, no birthday cake.  Instead, pie time!
I actually took that picture of myself the day after my birthday while unshowered and hungover to post to Facebook after I got so sick of fighting with people who honestly believe that their love of guns is a worthy tradeoff for the destruction of life guns cause.  I say, find something more awesome to love than guns, people.  Like pie, for instance!  Other good candidates include: vitamins, the Wu-Tang Clan, sandy beaches, Netflix, and funny hats.  Seriously, get over your love of guns, it makes you look like an a**hole.  OK, rant done.  Onto pie!

Another thing I have a lot of in my kitchen is raw cashews.  I bought, like, 10 pounds of them soon after the release of Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese.  I've gone through a lot, but 10 is really a lot of pounds of cashews!  So I thought I'd make her cream cheese (recipe is here), which is so easy to make and much better than Tofutti, in my opinion.  Also, ever since I went to her book release party and she served her recipes, I knew I had to make some of her complete recipes and not JUST the cheeses from the book, because that woman has mad skillz.  She has a number of cheesecake recipes in the book, but I chose to try the Fluffy No-Bake Cheesecake (sorry, couldn't find a recipe to link) because it has a raw crust, which I love, and it uses whipped coconut cream and you know what else I have a lot of?  Cans of coconut milk.  I've also had this random can of cherry topping on my shelf, like, forever.
It's torture to look at that and not eat it, don't you think?  I don't have to suffer as much as you do because I still have some in my fridge.  I'm so sorry about that.

Remember I said that my friend Mary is allergic to cashews and other nuts?  She couldn't eat that cashew cheese-based cheesecake with the raw almond-based crust, obviously.  But I wouldn't let a friend go without dessert!  So I also made a Key Lime Pie, this one from the newest of the Moskowitz/Romero dessert bibles, Vegan Pie In the Sky (recipe here).
This was just perfect.  It was only my third pie from this book, and it was my third big giant success.  I still felt bad that Mary didn't get to have the cheesecake, but it's cool, this was by no means suffering.

So, that was my birthday feast!  Every single thing involved my food processor: the sandwich cheese, the pesto, the sour cream for the soup, both pie crusts, and both pie fillings.  There was a lot of rinsing going on the day before my birthday.  And, oh yeah, I've only gotten MORE obsessed with hummus, so I made some that was 1/3 black beans and 2/3 chickpeas the day before, which also involved the food processor.  It got a little dry overnight, but trust me when I say it was so good that after I ran out of carrots the next day, I ate the hummus with a spoon at first, and then with my fingers.


  1. Oooh, happy 30th! That's definitely a big one, I'll be there soon enough! Well four years still, but closer to thirty now than twenty. :) Also I never would have thought of grilled cheese and pesto, that sounds amazing. And lol, best pie picture ever, ha ha! Sounds like your friends were totally food-spoiled at your birthday. :)

    1. You never thought of grilled cheese with pesto? I never thought of it WITHOUT pesto!

  2. First of all, Happy Birthday and Happy Third Decade. You've got a lot to look forward to. Second of all, 15 friends is nothing to sneeze at. Thirdly, your friends are SO LUCKY! What a great-looking meal. I've definitely got to look into the cheesecake. You're so right about the cream cheese from Miyoki's book — it's amazing.

    1. I made it really easy for myself. The day before, I made the pies, the sour cream for the soup, the cheese, and I put the pesto in the fridge. I put the soup on just before people started arriving and I pre-made the sandwiches. Then I just grilled them for people as the arrived. It wasn't very stressful.

  3. Happy 30th Birthday!!! It's not that bad, right? I turned 30 on Halloween and I'm still here...still look the same as I did at age 29, lol. Your food and pies look amazing. You do have very spoiled friends : ) I love to cook but I get stressed when things turn into a dinner-party. Happy Holidays and good luck with moving!!!

  4. Happy birthday, and good luck with the move!!! We were in Pittsburgh for two whole days last month.... I will write a blog post about it... I kind of thought you were already gone. But, enjoy your new place!!!


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