carrot cake is my life

carrotcake3

This beautiful spread of color and crunch is the vegetable crudite from True Food, one of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix. It offers many vegan and gluten-free options, but mostly promotes organic and fresh foods. Not to mention their bomb cocktails and tonics! I visited the restaurant when my sister was in town a week or so ago. Their unique dishes inspired me to be creative in the kitchen and utilize vegetables I don't use that often. As a result, many of the recipes I have tried have been very colorful. It has also helped to brighten my mood the past week. The cold weather and the exhaustion after the shows brought my mood down a bit, so I needed some color in my life!

Last week, the soup for Monday was a Thai Curry Squash soup my friend Jennifer kept telling me to make. The recipe was from Bon Appetit, her bible. She has never steered me wrong, so I thought I would give it a go. I usually stay away from squash because I had a bad experience about a year ago with a butternut squash. Not that they don't taste delicious-they are just messy and a huge hassle to cut. I had a battle with this butternut and almost ended up cutting my hand off. So, this time I used acorn squash because they seemed less daunting. However, they proved to be kind of b*tch to cut too. I even roasted in the oven first! But them I almost burnt me hand off trying to handle them straight out of the oven (patience is not my strong suit). After the annoying task of cutting...the rest was very simple and I would say worth the effort. Here is a link to the recipe: (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chilled-Thai-Squash-Soup-with-Yogurt-and-Cilantro-359252) The only change I made to vegan-ize the soup was to leave the yogurt off the top. Even better than eating the soup that night, was mixing it with vegetables and rice the rest of the week. It made an incredible and different dish. I started by sauteing onions in a bit of olive oil. I then added mushrooms, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cilantro and a bit of the left over red curry paste. When that was all cooked up I added the curry soup and poured it over rice. Some variation of this was my lunch every day that week! The only problem was my house and probably my clothes smelled like curry for a while...the scent lingers.

Sticking with the soup theme, I'll move right onto this week's concoction: Beet Soup. I got a bunch of beets at the Farmer's Market and wanted to make a soup, hence beet soup. I looked up a few recipes and combined two that I thought sounded amazing. One recipe I found on a blog, but is originally from Yoga Journal. It is supposed to be a healing soup and boosts your immune system! ( http://www.wasabibratwurst.com/beet-soup-recipe/). I left out the yogurt garnish of course, and actually the dill as well. The other recipe I found was also not vegan (http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000701069) but had a few ingredients that I thought sounded amazing. So I added one potato, a bay leaf, and garlic to the Yoga Journal recipe. For such a simple process and such few ingredients this soup is amazing!! Not to mention the gorgeous fuchsia color it came out to be. Be careful not to stain your clothes though...the color is very vibrant and I'm sure not easy to remove.

I also served it with some "bruschetta". I basically toasted whole grain bread and topped it with three amazing spreads from Dr. Hummus. Named the best hummus by Pheonix New Times, you can find this brand at the store or farmer's market. I bought vegan spinach artichoke dip that was out of this world, a cilantro hummus and a vegan tamponade. All three were gone in about two days. Highly recommended!

And the grand finale...dessert. Not just any dessert. Vegan carrot cake. The best carrot cake I've ever eaten. The best dessert I have ever made. If you are a baker you need to try this. I wanted to make a carrot cake because my sister's birthday is coming up and she requested carrot cake. I wanted to try a recipe to see if it was birthday cake quality. This one sure is! Worth every minuted of shredding those carrots. (http://hellyeahitsvegan.com/?p=1739) Hell Yeah It's Vegan is a blog a just started following and its become one of my favorites...check it ! I left out the walnut because I don't like em but do what you want.

Vegan Carrot Cake

2 1/3 c all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1½ tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp salt

6 tbsp flax seed meal 3/4 c warm water 1½ c sugar 1 c oil 1 tsp vanilla 2 c shredded carrots 1 c walnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting 8 oz vegan cream cheese ¼ c margarine, softened 1 tsp vanilla 2 c powdered sugar