Easter Pop-tarts

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I didn’t even make these in the spirit of Easter, but they certainly look like something that belongs at an Easter gathering, don’t they?

The nerd inside of me absolutely loves video games, and cooking, playing games, or researching one of those two usually always take up any free time that I have, hehe. These little toaster cuties were created for a contest relating to my most current game obsession (Final Fantasy XIV). They were meant to look like a popular creature to the FF series called a chocobo. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I’m sure if the judges could have tasted them I would have been a winner! Here is what my official entry looked like:

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Most pop-tart recipes that I find online are filled with a lot of fake butter or shortening, which I’d like to stay away from unless I really need it. I decided to give a favorite pie dough recipe a go at being my pop-tart’s crust, and I must say that it worked wonderfully. Using that dough recipe (which doesn’t even require chilling) along with the simple filling made these pastries very simply and quick. This was my first attempt at royal icing, and all it turned out to be was a royal mess in the kitchen.

Pop-tart Pastry Dough (originally pie, but in disguise as a pop-tart here)
Recipe acquired from here: Happy Herbivore

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 whole banana, cold
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp raw sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
½ tsp salt

Directions:
1.)  Combine flour and banana (a slightly unripe, still greenish banana is best) in a food processor, pulsing until there are no whole banana pieces left and you can mold the mixture (think play-dough).
2.)  Transfer it out on to a clean surface and incorporate 1-3 tsp of warm water. You want enough water so that the dough is wet and not crumbly or dry, but not so wet it becomes sticky or hard to work with. Again, think, “play dough”. Roll it out using a glass (such as a drinking glass) until it’s very thin. I find picking the dough up and moving it as I roll it out help keep it from sticking to my clean surface.
3.)  I rolled my dough into about an 8×8 square, and then I sliced that into 8 smaller rectangles.
4.)  Place 1 tbsp of filling in the center of 4 of your dough-rectangles, and cover each of them with 1 of the bare rectangles. Using a fork close up each of the sides to create your classic pop-tart pastry. Prick the top a couple of times to allow steam to release while baking.
5.)  Carefully move your pop-tarts to a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top is golden.

Peach Jam Filling

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups frozen peach slices
2 tsp sugar (optional, depending on how sweet the peaches are!)
1 tbsp Chia seeds
3 tbsp water

Directions:
1.)  Add everything to a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Once the peaches and chia seeds “gel” together remove the pan from the heat.
2.)  Empty the contents into a food processor, and pulse a few times to get a jam-like consistency.
3.)  Now your filling is ready for the pastries! I had a little leftover, but it was heavenly spread onto some Ezekiel toast the following morning. : )

Royal Icing
Recipe acquired from here: Royal Icing

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar (I used organic)
1 ½ tbsp almond milk (or any non-dairy milk you prefer)
2 tsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract
food coloring of your choice

Directions:
1.)  Whip the sugar, almond milk, corn syrup, and vanilla until thick and smooth.
2.)  Divide the icing into small bowls to color individually and frost. Allow pastries to sit at room temperature to harden.

Notes: I don’t have a pastry bag for fancy decorating techniques – I simply used little zippy bags to fill with the colored frosting, snipped a tiny tip of a bottom corner, and used that as a decorating bag. 

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Very Veggie Chili (with spice!)

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Ah, finally! John and I have been making this chili probably every weekend since we decided to begin eating vegan. There’s something very comforting about a nice big bowl of piping hot chili, and we’ve actually done quite a good job in repurposing it to keep it exciting (although, I am pretty boring, and I could most likely just keep eating it exactly the way it is!). We usually toss in spices from our cupboard until we reach the flavor that we were looking for, but the problem with that was that I couldn’t share it with anyone since I wasn’t positive of the exact measurements.

John wrote down the amounts of everything he plopped into the pot last weekend, but he wasn’t content with the flavor, and he instructed me not to share the recipe until it was perfect, ha! I made it again this week with all of the spices/measurements listed, and we both agreed it turned out quite yummy in our tummies. My favorite way to serve this is with the chili served inside of a roasted sweet potato along with crumbled tortilla chips on top. We have also made chili nachos, chili fries, chili “dogs”, and chili burgers with the left overs. If you happen to come up with any other spiffy dishes using chili please share!

Very Veggie Chili

Yields: 4-6 servings depending on how hungry you are! This nearly fills my 3 1/2 qt pot

Ingredients:

1 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp roasted cumin (or more cumin if you don’t have roasted)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
sprinkling of salt (to taste)
2 15.5 oz cans of Black Beans
1 15.5 oz can Navy Beans
1 15.5 oz Can Kidney Beans
1 15.5 oz Can of whole kernel corn
1 28 oz Can of chunky tomato sauce

Directions:

1.) Chop your veggies to desired size; I usually mince the onion because John is not a fan of large pieces of onion, but I chop the peppers into large rustic-styled chunks.
2.) On medium-high heat sauté the onion in a splash of water or low-sodium veggie broth until translucent (a couple of minutes). Add in the peppers, and allow them to cook for a couple more minutes.
3.) Add the chunky tomato sauce along with all of the beans, and corn. Now you can toss in all of your spices then give it all a nice big stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir everything again to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom, turn the heat down to simmer, and cover for at least 20 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld together. The longer this sits the better it will be!

Notes: I always look for reduced sodium or no-salt added cans when I am feeling too lazy to cook all the beans myself. There is a bit of spice in this chili therefore, feel free to adjust the measurements to your preferred taste. The ancho and chipotle chile powders are the culprits for creating the heat in this chile, and if that isn’t your thing go ahead and leave them out. You might want to add a little more of the plain ‘ol chile powder if you decide to do so 🙂

I also made a few desserts over the weekend, but I only snapped quick iPhone pics of two of them. On Friday I attempted black bean brownie bites that looked gorgeous, tasted pretty good, but were a bit mushy on the inside.

My buddy and I also worked on some strawberry cupcakes together. Again, they tasted all right, but they just didn’t seem to have that special something about them. The frosting also reminded me of acid-wash jeans… if they came in pink!

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This weekend is going to be a busy one… it’s John’s birthday weekend, and I am going to make an entire vegan feast along with Hummingbird Cake!

Green Smoothie Love!

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My birthday was over the weekend, and it was a great one! The weather was beautiful for the first time in what feels like ages. The only problem with that is now I want Summer to be here oh so badly! The California girl in me can only withstand the chilly weather in the Northeast for such a long amount of time. This is actually the first year that I haven’t done much complaining in regards to the weather… the tiny sneak preview of beautiful Spring and Summer weather kind of ruined my sucking it up for this year, hehe.

I didn’t feel like making myself a birthday cake because I cook various dishes every weekend (well, weekdays too, but more exciting meals on the weekends), and I just thought it would be nice to sit back and let someone else do the cooking. In this case, it was the Vegan bakery that I’m not very fond of simply because Whole Foods (which is 1.5 hours away to begin with…) didn’t have any vegan cakes in stock on my birthday. John was kind enough to cook me one of my favorite dinners, which was our veggie chili stuffed into baked sweet potatoes. Mmm.. my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I’ll share the recipe once we get the measurements down pat 🙂 It’s one of those things where we just toss the spices in until it tastes to our liking.

Anywhos, since the weather has been mostly sunny lately it’s been causing me to crave iced drinks. I was so excited to order an iced americano from the coffee shop on my birthday, and it was great! Of course, I can’t afford to be doing that daily, nor does it help me out with many nutrients. I decided to make smoothies more often, and this one in particular is by far my favorite. It’s inspired by the Herbal Green Monster from the Oh She Glows blog, and it gives me the perfect reason to whip out my Vitamix every day now!

Good Morning Greenie

1/2 Cup Non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
2-4 ice cubes (I use 4 because I like it really icy)
1/2 frozen banana
1Tbsp Chia seeds
1/2 Green Pear
2 handfuls of Kale
small bunch of parsley
The juice of half of a lemon

Directions:
Let ‘Er rip in the blender 🙂

Pizza Dough all dressed up!

Pretzels
Blah, I certainly didn’t intend on allowing this much time to pass before posting these! The photos aren’t anything spectacular, but in my resolve to continue posting recipes that are not solely sweets I decided to go ahead and post these less than stellar photographs anyway.

Even though I missed a post last week I have still been busy every weekend creating new and tasty dishes for John, our best buddies, and myself. Over Oscar weekend we wanted to try out more finger foods, and after some brainstorming (or maybe it would be tummy-storming?) we decided upon pizza bites and jalapeno cheese pretzels (along with Mac & No cheese that we make nearly every weekend).

We actually found a recipe that we had planned on using to make the pretzels, but it seemed a bit silly to create more dough since I already had two of those left-over pizza dough balls sitting in my freezer. Being brave and adventurous (or just a little lazy.. but shh! We’ll go with brave!) I made the executive decision to sub in my whole-wheat pizza dough in place of the pretzel dough. Amazingly enough it worked like a charm! The pretzels came out perfectly, and I would definitely make them again. It’s a wonder all of the tantalizing treats this pizza dough is capable of creating.

Spicy Jalapeno Cheeze Pretzels:

Adapted from Fork and Beans
Ingredients:

1 Whole-wheat pizza dough ball
4 tablespoons canned or jarred jalapenos, chopped
6 tablespoons vegan cheese
3 cups water
½ cup baking soda

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1.) Separate the dough ball into 6 like-size pieces and then roll each out into a 12-inch long cylinder-shape. Initially, I had been doing this on my cutting board until John couldn’t stand watching me take 10 minutes to finish one pretzel… He came over and whipped out the rest of them in less time by rubbing the dough between both of his hands (ever watched the workers at Auntie Anne’s? That’s exactly what he did, and I felt so silly afterwards). Shape the long pieces of dough into a pretzel, and set them aside.
2.) Boil 3 cups of water with ½ cup of baking soda in a large pot. Once the water is boiling use a slotted spoon to gently lower one pretzel at a time into the water for 30 seconds, and set them aside on a lined baking sheet.
3.) After all of the pretzels are done with their soak now you can dress them up with the toppings! I sprinkled about a tablespoon of vegan cheese on each pretzel and lightly sprinkled the chopped jalapenos on after that.
4.) Once all of your pretzels are dressed for success pop them into the oven for 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

The next treat that was requested by grumbling tummies of our household was pizza bites. The inspiration came from the Amy’s pizza snacks that we used to eat before going vegan (they have real cheese in them, boooo!).  I had originally planned on making a savory vegan pie dough and creating the pizza bites that way, but once again… that laz- I mean, kitchen courage popped up and told me to use my already prepped pizza dough! They were a little on the puffy side, but that definitely made them no less of a yummy treat!

Pizzapockets

Pizza Bites

Ingredients:
1 Whole-wheat pizza dough ball
½ can of Muir Glenn pizza sauce (or any sauce of your liking)
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup TVP
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
½ package of Vegan pepperoni

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

For the sauce:

1.) Toss your mushrooms into a small saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms release their juices.
2.) Add your TVP (textured vegetable protein – I use this to give my sauces a “meaty” texture and for the added protein, of course!) and spices then cook for a couple more minutes.
3.) Add in the sauce, stir, and turn off the heat.

For the bites:

1.) Roll out your pizza dough into a large square (mine was about 12 x 12 give or take a little). Cut your dough into small squares that don’t need to be perfect, we ended up with about 36 total.
2.) Roll out each of the tiny squares when you’re about to fill them in order to get as much delicious filling into each without it overflowing. I placed 1 pepperoni and 1 tablespoon of sauce per pizza bite. Cover the bottom dough square with another square then use a fork to press down and seal the sides. Move to a lined baking sheet. Continue this method until all of your dough squares are gone.
3.) Bake the pizza bites for 12-15 minutes until the tops are lightly browned.

As you can see from the picture, it took us a while to figure out the best method to making these. We had a lot of blowouts because we originally made 18 larger squares, placed the filling on one side, and then we pulled the bare side over the filling. This was a pretty sloppy method, and it wasn’t very effective. It was much simpler to make double the amount of dough squares and cover the bottom layer with the top before sealing off the sides.

I hope that you enjoy these tasty little treats, and that they inspire you to experiment in creating new ones out of old recipes : )!