Been a while!

Phew-eeeeee! In my mind that came out in a Wild West-styled accent because I have been watching Deadwood recently. If you can stomach all of the sailor-talk, and the occasional lewd scene then I think you should check it out — the characters are great. I love me some Al Swearengen. : )

I can’t believe that so much time has gone by since I last posted anything. I sure am happy that I posted the pop-tarts recipe when I did; Otherwise, it wouldn’t have made it in time for Easter!

Sorry for such a delay in posts, but life has been quite hectic lately. Mostly for good reasons though so, I can’t complain. Due to some financial-aid confusions at the college that I attend I wasn’t going to be able to finish out my Bachelor’s degree, and it was keeping me in quite the little funk. I finally got that squared away (after months of worry), and I will be returning to school by the end of the month, hurray!

John left me alone for the last couple of days due to a business trip, and I’d like to say I accomplished a lot of exciting new recipes in his absence, but unfortunately not. One of our puppy dogs, Mochi, became pretty ill right before he was leaving for his trip, and I had to nurse her back to health the entire time he was gone. Thank goodness that some rice, bananas, and applesauce seemed to ease her tummy back to normal just in time for his return!

Come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve made anything completely from my own jumbled mind since the pop-tarts. John’s birthday was a couple of days after my last post, and I made him the scrumptious lentil-walnut loaf, protein mashed potatoes, roasted brussels, and vegan gravy from my favorite vegan blog, Oh She Glows! He used to love meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans (specifically, from the can… fancy, I know) on his birthday. I thought that this would make a wonderful new tradition, aaaaaand he loved it! For holidays I have started to always bring a savory and sweet dish for John and I to eat since other family members usually don’t understand why we would want to be vegan let alone help support it by making anything we could eat. Actually, I think it’s quite the opposite… John’s family seems to bring the fattiest most unhealthy dishes imaginable to family get-togethers, and then they look at us and give a forced little “Oh Sorry…” But, that’s ok! It just gives me more excuses to try out new recipes. This time I made the stuffed shells and raw berry crisp from the Oh She Glows blog.

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I am saddened to tell you that I don’t have a picture of the stuffed shells. A friend and I put two batches of them together the night before in order for her to bring half to her family’s house while I brought half to John’s family’s house. When I baked them the next day they just didn’t seem to share the same vibrance they did the night before so, I didn’t want to take any photos that wouldn’t do them justice. Of course, nobody at the party was into the tofu, but everyone adored the raw berry crisp.

Ah! That reminds me! I do have a recipe that I created myself! The raw berry crisp reminded me that I used the leftovers of the crisp on top of steel-cut oats the next morning (which I highly recommend.. it was phenomenal). I also used left overs from John’s birthday cake (Hummingbird cake.. *drool*) to make carrot cake oatmeal.

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I had a ton of leftover vegan cream cheese frosting, and I knew I didn’t want to waste it all. I was originally planning on making pancakes, but then oatmeal just hit me in an ah-ha moment.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1/4 cup steel-cut oats (I soak them the night before then drain before cooking)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (I combine the different oats because John hates steel-cut oats, and I trick him into eating them this way, but feel free to use all steel-cut if you like : )
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)
1 tbsp ground flax meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp almonds, chopped

Directions:
1.) Add the non-dairy milk to the steel-cut oats and turn the burner on medium-high. Stir in the ground flax, and wait for the mixture to bubble. Once it begins to bubble turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.) Add in your carrots, pineapple, old-fashioned oats (if using), raisins, and spices and allow to simmer for about 7 more minutes (add more liquid if necessary).
3.) Turn off the heat, scoop your oatmeal into a bowl, pipe some frosting on top, and top it off with almonds! Other nuts likes pecans or walnuts would probably be lovely here too, but I just happened to have almonds on hand that morning.

The frosting recipe that I had left over called for 16 ounces of Tofutti cream cheese, 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, and a splash of non-dairy milk. Since most people don’t just have all of that lying around at their disposal I would assume you could mix a few tablespoons of the vegan cream cheese with powdered sugar or probably even maple syrup to get it to a sweeter liquid consistency and then decorate the top of your oatmeal. I wouldn’t leave it off though because it really makes the dish!

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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. 

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 🙂

Thin Mints, Pocket Pies, and Cheezy Hot dog Pizza.. Oh my!

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I was hesitant to even bother posting anything because it seems that all I ever make are sweet treats. Quite the contrary, but it’s always dark by the time I make my savory meals, and there are never any left overs to take pictures of the following day (that’s a good thing though, right?). I promise that I am going to make a point of it to get some snaps of savory dishes that I make – the blog is feeling very one-sided and boring without a few here!

This weekend is going to be the Oscar’s, and a few friends are coming over to watch the show with us. Us girls have already begun planning our menu, and let’s be honest here… we’re a bit more excited for the snacks than we are about the actual program. Actually, for the past few weekends we have all been gathering together to make new and yummy dishes. The Oscar’s just happen to give us a new excuse to eat snacks for dinner, rather than create a traditional well-balanced meal!

Last weekend we made buffalo cauliflower pizza, Mac&Cheeze with little hot dogs also atop a pizza crust, thin mints, and pocket cherry pies. Unfortunately, I have no stellar pictures of the pies or the pizza dishes (they were taken in terrible lighting with my iPhone), but I did salvage a couple of the thin mints to have a proper photo-shoot the next day!

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 There was even some left over cherry pie filling that I saved, and I had intended on putting on top of pancakes. This was before it occurred to me last night before I fell asleep that it might be kind of amazing on top of some oatmeal (I often think of food before falling asleep, strange I know). It turned out being even better than I imagined.

 Tonight we are having alfredo with penne and a broccoli/spinach mixture folded in. For dessert we’re going to use up those little crumbly unsightly peppermint cookies to create a homemade chocolately mint blizzard. I will report back with my findings 😉

Happy Fasnacht Day!

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If anyone is reading, hellooooo (said in my best Jerry Seinfeld belly button speech, of course)!
My pancakes last week were pretty disappointing.. I’m not sure if they would be worth mentioning. I took a few sad-looking pictures, and they were a bit off-putting. They tasted yummy, but the pictures didn’t really do them justice, and I figured I would wait to post anything until they looked as appetizing as they tasted. The topping this time around was peaches and “cream” so, you have that to look forward to reading about once I finally get it down!

A friend of mine and I have been quite busy with our vegan cooking adventures. We made Eggplant Parmesans from the Oh She Glows blog over the weekend, and they were the best I have ever tasted! Don’t you hate when you get a vegetable doused in so much oil you feel guilty for eating a normally super healthy veggie? I know I do, and her eggplant parm was baked to a crispy perfection. The week before that we made Super Bowl treats with her recipe of baked onion rings that were also quite num nums. I whipped together my own batch of buffalo dip (John was having withdrawals from Buffalo Chicken dip that used to be a weekly splurge), and a veganized taco dip. We were so antsy to get eating that neither my friend or I remembered to take pictures of the deliciousness… It’s all right though, I told her and the boys that it just means we will have to make it all over again to eat! No one could contest to that 😉

This same friend was having a craving for fasnachts yesterday (Fat Tuesday). I grew up in California, and I moved to the East coast a couple of years ago. Prior to moving here I had never celebrated Fat Tuesday or heard of anything called a Fasnacht. John made it very clear during our first year of dating that fasnachts were very important in securing your good luck throughout the year and ever since there have been fasnachts to be eaten during this time of the year. Last year was a mess trying to create a sugar free adaptation…and when my friend requested a vegan version this year I knew I would not be bested by anything called a “fasnacht” ever again! I went on a mission to find a recipe, and you wouldn’t believe how challenging it was to find one. I ended up modifying a plain ol’ fasnacht recipe because it seemed easy enough to convert it over to a vegan version. Thankfully, I was right and they turned out wonderful! They are so simple to make and very delicious, I highly recommend giving it a try 🙂 If you bake them they are not all that bad for you at all!

 Vegan Fasnachts
*Adapted from here: Original Fasnacht Recipe
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup soymilk (I used Edensoy, but I will be testing unsweetened almond milk out next week)
2 packets of yeast (I Used Hodgson Mills rapid rise)
1/4 cup + a sprinkle for the milk/yeast mixture dry sweetener (I Used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 cup warm mashed potato
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 Cup non-dairy chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

For the fasnachts:
1.) Sprinkle yeast over warm non-dairy milk, add a pinch of sugar and set aside for 5 minutes allowing yeast to grow.
2.) Combine flour, potatoes, salt and sugar. Add the milk/yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixture for 3 minutes. (I used my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook, and it worked perfectly!).
3.) Turn the dough out on a floured bowl and knead for a for minutes until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
4.) Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut the donuts. You can cut a square donut (traditional) or use a glass and cut one donut and use a shot glass to cut the hole. (I used my pizza cutter, and I made 16 smaller rectangle-shaped fasnachts).
5.) Place the cut donuts on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
6.) Heat a half inch of oil in a large skillet or electric fry pan. (heat to about 360 degrees). Slide donuts in and fry for about 2 minutes, turn and finish cooking until golden brown. This was a little tricky for me.. I think since I made my fasnachts a bit smaller than the original recipe instructed I only needed to cook mine for about a minute and a half total in the oil. As you can see below, my first batch were a little too dark.. tasty none the less!
7.) Remove donuts to rack to drain and cool slightly. Toss with powdered sugar or glaze with the following recipe.
*Alternatively, you can bake these! I did an experiment of baking 6 of these delicious puffs of dough, and John actually preferred them the healthier way (wow!). To bake them I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees, placed them on a lined cookie sheet, and let them bake until they were brown on top (this was about 12 minutes for me). 

For the chocolate glaze:
1.) Begin to melt the chocolate chips and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2.) Once about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted turn off the heat, and continue to stir until all of the chocolate is melted.
3.) Dip your fasnachts into the chocolate glaze top side down and then allow to rest for as long as you can manage!Image

Spelt Pancakes

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During our Engine 2 Challenge the meal plan called for Pancakes 3 out of the 4 Sundays. No complaints here! And to my surprise, no complaints from John either 🙂 We’re finished with the “challenge” meal plan now, but seeing that John did get results from participating in it he has been much more agreeable to following along with my new vegan diet.

Over the course of the last month we both looked forward to Sunday morning breakfasts because of the fluffy pillows of yumminess that awaited us each week-end (Sorry, too much Downton Abbey for me!). I don’t see why simply because we’ve finished following the Engine 2 meal plan that we can’t keep pancakes in our schedules on Sundays. I figured why not keep this ritual going and discover what new scrumptious pancake recipes we can come up every weekend!

The first week we made the suggested spelt pancakes, but we didn’t have strawberries so I substituted in dried cranberries with walnuts as a topping. The second week I didn’t think John would go for the lemon pancakes (I never knew John was such a picky eater until working my butt off to create vegan recipes that he wouldn’t complain about…) so, I just threw some non-dairy chocolate chips into the regular E2 spelt pancake recipe. The third week John asked me to add blueberries to the batter.. he has been very particular about each of the E2 recipes, and I was excited to tell him that the “real” E2 recipe called for blueberries!  Surprisingly, he loved it, and we had them for the last two weeks of the challenge in a row. This past weekend John suggested creating a topping with the blueberries, rather than mixing them into the batter itself. As delicious as all of the new vegan E2 recipes have been, I was pretty bored following most of them to the “T”, and I was up for a little bit of a challenge. I created a blueberry compote that was ah-may-zing! It was very simple and very delicious. I can tell you with confidence that it was good because John himself approved of it.

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The first picture is of my fancy pants pancakes. The other two are plain pancakes with a silly spatula we got as a neat Christmas present 🙂

Spelt Pancakes (Found Here: E2 Spelt Pancakes.)
*I always make half a recipe, and it’s enough for John and I to save half for freezing/heating up as a weekday treat! This makes 6 thick puffy pancakes, but if you prefer thinner pancakes add about 1/4-1/2 cup more non-dairy milk, which will get you 8. 
1 cup Oat Flour
1 cup Spelt Flour
2 tbsp Flax Meal
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

 Blueberry Compote
1 cup frozen blueberries
3 tbsp water
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp sweetener of your choice (I used coconut sugar)

For the pancakes:
1. Whisk the flours, baking powder, flax meal, and salt together in a large bowl.
Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl. (I usually just toss the wet ingredients directly into the well with combining in a separate bowl.. I hate dirty dishes!!)
2. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very thin, but it will thicken.
3. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes (spelt flour takes a little longer to absorb liquids). If you can’t wait, your pancakes won’t be as crisp.
4. After the batter has rested, fold in blueberries.
5. Heat a dry skillet until a drop of water dances on its surface. Spraying the skillet once should allow for three batches of pancakes.
6. Ladle a large scoop of batter into the pan. Several pancakes can be cooked at once if you’re using a large skillet.
7. Cook until the batter begins to bubble and the bottom of the pancake is golden.
8. Flip and cook on the other side until both sides are golden (about a minute or 2).

For the Compote:
1. Add the blueberries to a small saucepan with the water and sprinkle in the sugar. Wait a bit for it to heat up a little — depending on your stove it could take up to a minute or so (I have a terrible stove…).
2. Once it’s a little warm sprinkle in the arrowroot, stir, and allow the mixture to bubble. Once it bubbles the compote will thicken.
3. Keep stirring so the compote doesn’t burn, and then turn the heat down to low to keep warm for your pancakes!