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 🙂

Cowboy Cookies

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Sooo.. this isn’t exactly a recipe that I adapted into a Vegan version, but they are delicious none the less!

My boyfriend, John, was diagnosed as diabetic last year, and he has been quite unhappy with all of the new medical bills that came with it ever since. We have a couple of friends who told us about the Engine 2 diet and instructed us to check out the Forks Over Knives
documentary. John doesn’t like anything requiring much muss or fuss, but I watched the documentary, and I began eating a plant-based diet right away. I convinced him to follow the E2 28 day challenge (found on their website: Here) so that we could test if it would indeed lower his blood sugar. In result of this I hadn’t been too awfully adventurous in my cooking. I simply followed the meal plan, and I didn’t deviate from it in order for his blood sugar readings to be the most accurate. The good news is that his blood sugar levels have dropped by 60 points! He is quite the busy guy, and it’s tough to exercise much. We recently got him a new pair of running shoes, and we’re convinced that with this new style of eating combined with exercise will keep his blood sugar in check 🙂

Anyways, the point of this little story was to explain why this new blog has been so action-less since the holidays. This 28-day challenge is winding down, and I have a ton of ideas rattling around in my head for recipes I want to “veganize”.

These cookies are the first recipe in a long time that I played around with. There is actually a vegan bakery relatively close to where we live, but the owner isn’t all that friendly and that makes it tough for me to want to continue shopping there. I love supporting local businesses, but not so much when they act like a snot =/ Well, went off topic again, but the inspiration for these cookies was this local vegan bakery. Even when I wasn’t eating a vegan diet I loved the “Cowboy Cookies” that this bakery offered. The bakery is located right next to my old orthodontist’s office, and I would get a few every month! As the years went on, the owner became more entitled, preachy, and a lot less friendly and this seemed like the perfect time to create my own. I’ve finally done it, and here is the recipe for anyone else to enjoy!

 Vegan Cowboy Cookies
Adapted from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar”

Wet Ingredients
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or any other non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla

 Dry Ingredients
1 1/3 cups oat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup dry sweetener (I used coconut sugar)
1tbsp flaxmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

 Mix Ins
1/2 – 1 cup oats (I used 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted)*
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup semi-sweet or any other non-dairy chocolate chips (I used the mini Enjoy Life brand)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.) Combine the almond butter, applesauce, and sugar until combined. Then toss in the vanilla, almond milk, and flax meal.

2.) Add the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then mix. Once combined add the whole-wheat pastry flour and mix until combined.

3.) Add the oats, chocolate chips, toasted pecans, and coconut flakes.

4.) Once combined spoon cookies using a tablespoon or cookie scooper and place onto a foil/parchment/silpat covered cookie sheet. Press the tops of the cookies down just a smidge so that they resemble the shape of cookies. You could also roll the cookies into a ball then smoosh down into a puck-shape if you want them to appear more fancy. I made half of my batch using that method, but I liked the more rustic look of just throwing them down onto the sheet — it made them more rugged like a real cowboy!

5.) Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies. If there are left overs just place them in an airtight container for a couple of days or even in the freezer for about a month. Good luck with that though.. mine never seem to last through the night!

*Note: To toast the pecans I placed them on a baking sheet for 8 minutes with the oven at 300 degrees.

I hope that someone out there finds this, and they get to enjoy these yummy morsels!

-Miche