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Leblebi // Chickpea Stew

January 31, 2013

Chickpea Stew

The fascination with my Tangine has really morphed my cooking this past month. I didn’t even use the tagine for this recipe but was drawn to it since the recipe is so similar to the other Tunisian dishes I’ve been playing around with. Who knew 2013 would be the year of preserved lemons, harissa paste, and spicy stews? Well, the first few months of 2013 at least. Can’t predict past that.

I am sooo in love the contrast that is created when you mix spicy harissa paste with sweet honey and lather it all over vegetables / beans. Oh my goodness! Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you should. And here is a perfect starter recipe for it. Harissa paste is super easy to make (check out the recipe here) or you should be able to find it at any international market store. As for preserved lemons? It took me a long time to come around to them and I would recommend slicing them VERY thin until you get use to their intense flavor. But with that said, they really do add a depth of flavor that could not be achieved by this simple stew without them.

 

Chickpea-Stew

 

Lablabi / Chickpea Stew

Serves 2

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans drained)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, sliced thinly
  • 1 roasted bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 teaspoons capers, rinsed
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of salt
  • Day old Bread

Simmer the chickpeas in the vegetable broth until heated through. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin salt, and harissa paste in a small bowl. Fold in the capers, lemon, and red pepper to the dressing.

Tear the bread into large chunks and divide between two bowls. Spoon the chickpeas and broth over the bread and top with dressing / lemon mixture. Serve right away so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

January 15, 2013

HoneyBourbonBarbecueSauce

If close up pictures of french fries doesn’t make you want to ditch your soup dinner plans and run out to the nearest diner then I do not know what does. Sorry that I just ruined your diet with this photo. Don’t worry, you can start again tomorrow.

I grew up a firm believer that ketchup was for eggs and barbecue sauce was for french fries. Although I’ve grown out of lathering ketchup all over my morning scramble, I still cannot resist a big side of tangy barbecue sauce to accompany my french fries and tofu nuggets (yes, I am guilty – I do enjoy those processed fake chicken nuggets that you can find in you organic freezer section at Kroger).

Although I am known to still down the occasional fry or chicken-less nuggets, I do try avoid the processed and high-fructose packed condiments that fill our grocery stores. Have your REALLY looked on the back of that condiment jar in a while? It’s a rather upsetting sight. Instead, I usually whip up a batch our this barbecue sauce  and it usually holds me through all summer (and I participate in A LOT of grill outs every summer).

I decided to mix it up and try a new bbq sauce this time around. It’s definitely not the traditional bbq sauce you are used to (I’d suggest using this recipe if you are looking for that) but it’s a great sauce to use for special occasions. It’s a wonderful way to add new flavor to your condiments or to fancy up a side of fries at a party. The bourbon gives it the inevitable and sophisticated alcoholic aroma while the honey helps sweeten and tone it down.

I made this in my slow cooker so I could walk away and not worry about it. But it would probably be made just as easy in a saucepan by throwing in all your ingredients and letting it simmer down to your desired consistency (bet it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes!).

 

Honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot sauce, optional
  • salt, to taste

 

Heat the olive oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent (about five or so minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and turn the slow cooker on low. Let cook for 8 hours. If the sauce is too thin after 8 hours, remove the lid and let cook down to desired consistency.

Use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth sauce or leave the small chunks of onions (they are delicious!).

Serve right away or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you’d like to keep it longer, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy access to later.

 

honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

 

Because Nobunny is both saucy and probably a bit alcoholic (yeah -  not really sure what that means either):

Harissa Paste

January 4, 2013

Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? I didn’t start my work week until Wednesday so this week kind of feels like cheating…did I really earn weekend already? I could get use to this 3 day week thing! As for my weekend? The only thing I have planned to to make some homemade ravioli (now if I could only decide on ONE filling option…).

Continuing with my New Years resolution to eat less processed food, I decided to make my own harissa paste instead of heading to the specialty market to pick up a bottle of it. I needed some harissa paste because I received a beautiful Tagine for Christmas and have been cooking in it non-stop. It’s such an easy, delicious, and ridiculously healthy way to whip up a batch full of hearty veggies drenched in flavorful Middle Eastern or African spices.

So what exactly is harissa paste? It’s a condiment made out of chiles that will have varying ingredients depending on location. It’s been known to be used in African, Moroccan, and several other Middle Eastern countries. I added a few teaspoons of it to a butternut squash, raisin, and shallots combination I made the other day and it was delightful. I plan to use the leftover paste as a condiment on sandwiches (adding a little bit of honey bring the spice level down without compromising the wonderful flavor). I’ve also heard of peopling dipping fresh bread into it or adding it to cooked couscous.

This recipe can also be made with fresh chiles (just omit the soaking process). I am eager to grow some in my garden this summer so we can experiment more!

 

 

HarissaPaste

 

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Vegan Gingerbread Biscotti

December 21, 2012

And its time to push on with the holiday baking! Yesterday I posted about those beautiful candied orange peels and last week there was the Peppermint Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread cookies…and now I’m here again with some biscotti! Are you sick of all the sugar yet? Yeah, me neither!

This is a perfect accompaniment to your morning cup of coffee [or tea] for you to enjoy on your lazy holiday mornings. They are firm but soften up beautifully when dunked in a big cup of coffee and give a wonderful gingerbread flavor tint to your cup of joe! I topped my biscotti with frosting since I had just made some for sugar cookies but feel free to drizzle with chocolate or caramel or whatever you are feeling!

 

 

Vegan Gingerbread Biscotti

adapted from Isa Moskowitz
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used my homemade stuff)
  • 1 3/4 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the molasses, sugar, flaxseed, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into wet and stir until combined and crumbly. Finally, add in a the milk a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together (you want to keep the dough on the dry side so you may not use all 4 tablespoons).

Roll the dough out into a 11 inch by 4 inch long and place on greased cooking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. Remove from oven and let cook for an hour.

Reheat oven to 325 degrees and use a sharp knife to cut diagonal strips into the biscotti log. Turn the pieces so that the inside part is facing up (this will help dry out the middle) and stick back in the oven for  20 minutes. Let cool completely to reach that desired crispiness.

 

 

Candied Orange Peels

December 20, 2012

 

If you live in the Midwest (like myself), you may be bracing yourself for the big Draco Storm (when did they start naming thunderstorm? I get naming hurricanes and tornadoes but T-storms?) that is planned to hit within the next two days. We had our first wave last night with constant rainfall all night long. What does this mean? It’s time to lock myself in the kitchen and get Christmas baking!

This is the first time I’ve ever made sugared peels and I was pleasantly surprised with the process. Yes, it takes awhile but it’s not labor intensive at all and is a super easy project to have on the side while you bake up other Christmas goodies.

I made these to go into a little gift box that I’m making for Wyatt. He loves getting an Old Fashioned cocktail when we go out for fancy dates so I thought it would be fun to make him a little kit for home. I’ve included a nice bottle of bourbon, bitters, some fancy maraschino cherries, and now these homemade orange peel. Even if these peels are too sweet for him to put in his cocktail, I’ll enjoy the extra touch of sugar when he makes mine!

I highly recommend using organic oranges for this. Since you are using the peel any sort of pesticides used to grow the fruit will have seeped onto the peel…better to be safe than sorry!

 

Candied Orange Peel

  • 4 organic oranges
  • 3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

Start by cleaning and scrubbing the oranges very well to scrap off any dirt. Next, cut through the orange in four different sections by slicing into the peel and pith but not going all the way through. Peel the oranges and set the insides aside for a different use (my “different use” was munching on them for an after dinner snack and again for breakfast).

Add the orange peels to a saucepan and fill with water until they are all covered. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the water and let the peels cool until they are okay to touch.

Okay, this is the trickiest part! It’s time to remove the pith from the peels (the white part) or the end result will be tart. I used a spoon and scrapped off the pith as much as possible (don’t feel like you have to get the white part COMPLETELY gone but the more you scrape away the sweeter they will be). Cut the orange peels into long, thin strips.

Next, add 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir often until the sugar has dissolved (about five minutes). Add in the orange peels and let simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let the peels cool in the sugar water (I let them cool for about an hour so they could continue to absorb the sugary syrup).

Once cooled, combine 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a shallow dish. Using a fork or slotted spoon, remove the peels (one at a time) and dip in the sugar mixture. Transfer to wax paper and repeat with the rest of the peels. Let them sit out at room temperature overnight to harden.

Enjoy as a snack or dessert or in your next fancy cocktail!

 

Homemade Grenadine // Tequila Sunrise + Shirley Temple

December 13, 2012

 

Okay, I have a confession to make. I grew up on Shirley Temples. Any fancy occasion that I was out with my family and my Grandma would order her ‘Manhattan’, I would proudly announced my ‘Shirley Temple’ drink order. They would bring it out in a fancy cocktail glass and it would be garnished with a few cherries. Ah, I felt like such a sophisticated ten year old.

But this is where my confession comes in. I went the first 23 years of my life thinking that grenadine was cherry flavored syrup. Wrong. How can you blame me? After all, they did always garnish those Shirley Temples with cherries! It’s actually pomegranate syrup! Who would of thought I was so health trendy in my tweens? If only I knew French then I would have known that grenade means ‘pomegranate’. Ah well. Silly me.

Anyhow, so I’ve been on a drink kick lately. More specifically, I’ve been on a booze kick (see Boozy Stout Brownies, Cranberry Mojito, etc). And my fascination with simple syrups started this summer when I first whipped up that delicious Sparkling Blackberry Lemonade. And then the Rosemary Lemonade. and then the Lemongrass cooler. and so on. You get the point. So when I found out that grenadine was just an over-produced, over-sugared version of pomegranate simple syrup….I knew I had to try my own.

 

 

If you are use to making your own simple syrups, you will notice that this process is a bit different because we are starting off with pomegranate juice instead of having the fruit boil and steep into a juice. But anyhow, it’s not complicated and more on that later. Oh! And last thing – don’t wear white while making this. The juicing part is both fun and messy.

 

 

 

Homemade Grenadine

method adapted from Reclaiming Provincial
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you like your syrup)

 

First, the fun [and messy] part! Making the juice. I used a citrus squeezer and sliced the pomegranates into quarters to juice them. You could use a hand held squeezer if you have it or even a zip lock bag (break the seeds up as much as possible and then strain out the seeds). The goal here is to get as much juice out of the pomegranate without 1. breaking the tiny white seeds within the red seeds because they will release a bitter flavor (hence why a blender wouldn’t work) and 2. separating the juice from the tiny seeds and whites of the pomegranate. If you don’t have a juice squeezer, this may take some creative thinking on your part but it’s not impossible. Using my citrus squeezer yielded about 2 cups of juice from 2 pomegranates so try to achieve around that amount.

 

 

Next, transfer the juice to a small saucepan and add the desired amount of sugar (I started with a cup and a half).  Bring to a boil over medium heat and then immediately remove from heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved (if it has not dissolved already). Let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

 

Annnnd, in case you were wondering what MY favorite ways are to use grenadine are…

 

Shirley Temple

  • 1 ounce grenadine
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • ginger ale or lemon-lime soda

Place the grenadine and cherries in a glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with ginger ale / soda and enjoy!

 

Tequila Sunrise

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces grenadine
  • Orange Juice
  • maraschino cherry or orange slice, for garnish

Place grenadine and tequila in a cocktail glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with orange juice. Garnish with cherries or orange slices.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

December 12, 2012

So I curated (doesn’t that sound so much more important than planned?!) 90 percent of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner menu this year. The only thing I did not pick out was the Wild Rice Stuffing which my aunt made. And it was probably my favorite thing that was served that day. I don’t really have much experience with wild rice and I was blown away by the added texture it gave to the stuffing.

And so this experience made we realize I want more wild rice in my life which led to me making these stuffed squashes. And let me tell you….this stuffed acorn were great but I probably ended up eating 50% of the wild rice mixture before I could even get around to sticking  it in the acorns. It was chewy and savory and sweet (thanks to the maple syrup!) and oh so addicting. I’m already dreaming of quick winter salads that are really just a healthy (throw the term ‘salad’ at the end of anything and it becomes guilt-free) way to talking about this wild rice mixture!

 

 

Anyhow, this is great as a side dish or even as a main vegetarian entree at your next dinner party (which, according to The Kitchn, are dead these days)!

 

 

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serve 2 as a side. Adapted from My Daily Morsel
  • 1 acorn squash, sliced in half
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (I used my own from this recipe)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit), chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Juice from half an orange
  • salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and place squash cut side down. Cover the squash with tin foil and roast for 40 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

In the meantime, prepare the inside. Heat oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, wild rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the stock has evaporated/ been absorbed (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Remove from heat and fold in the pecans, scallions, cherries, maple syrup, and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Once the acorn squash is finished cooking, stuff with the wild rice mixture and enjoy warm!

 

 

DIY Kitchen Article /// New Chickpea Quaterly

December 10, 2012

 

 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday. I have some exciting news! The preview winter issue of Chickpea Quarterly is finally done and viewable online! I have an extensive article in it on how to stock your kitchen with homemade staples. My article has recipes for how to make homemade almond milk, vanilla extract, and vegetable broth so hop on over to check it out. Oh, and there are some other AMAZING recipes for cookies, winter stews, holiday gifts, and so much more! Plus, the photography is oh so gorgeous and inspiring.

Okay, enough ranting about how much I love Chickpea. But honestly, it’s a beautiful magazine and I love being a part of it. Okay, done (for real this time). I’ll be back tomorrow with a new and delicious recipe for you!

 

Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili

December 3, 2012

 

Morning, Morning. Can you believe it is already December? It sure does not feel like it. I don’t know about where you live but I’m located in the Midwest and we are suppose to have some 70 degree weather today (such a weird introduction to winter…). Not that I’m complaining but I would have considered making something a little more…light and refreshing had I known it was going to be so warm. Ah well, this chili is oh so delicious regardless of the temperature.

I’m not going to lie. I am really proud of this recipe. It’s packed with so much nutrients I can hardly wrap my head around it. We are talking loads of protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium, vitamin A, etc etc etc. The list goes on and if you make the beans from scratch… this chili is packed full of fresh and non-processed foods as well. I’ve never felt soooo good about gobbling down a bowl of food. And not to mention, it is absolutely delicious. The wheat berries give it slight chewy texture while the cocoa powder (learned that trick thanks to a very good friend of mine) bring a new complexity to the flavor.

Oh and don’t worry! If my over zealous attitude towards super healthy eating is freaking you out – I made some oh so irresistible Corn Cheddar biscuits to go with packed full of two sticks of butter and loads of gooey cheese [recipe on that to follow tomorrow!]

This recipe is vegan (unless you add cheese and sour cream) and makes about six serving. You could even double the recipe and plan to have leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.

 

 

Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili

adapted from Eating Well
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked (I used dried but feel free to use canned)
  • 1 24 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries, cooked*
  • Juice of 1 lime

 

  • Avocado, optional
  • sour cream, optional
  • cilantro for garnish, optional

Heat olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add in the onion, carrots, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables has softened. Next, add in the tomatoes, broth, black beans, and cocoa powder. Bring the chili to a bowl, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add wheat berries and let cook for another two minutes.

Remove from heat and squeeze in lime juice. Serve with garnish options (avocado, sour cream cilantro, plain yogurt, etc).

*To cook 1 1/2 cups of Wheatberries: Rinse 3/4 cup of berries and letting them simmer for 45 minutes or until softened.

 

 

 

 

November Wrap Up

November 30, 2012

…And there goes another month. Isn’t it crazy how fast time seems to be going by? Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Christmas shopping is underway, and holiday cookies are on the mind. How about a quick recap of the past month before we jump into cookie cutters, green/red sprinkles, and chocolate covered everything?

 

Some favorite highlights from the past month:

     

1. Rosemary Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread – Fresh bread and a hearty vegetable soup. Cannot think of a better way to bring in the cold evenings.

2. Cranberry Mojito – Festive and delicious! This drink was the perfect starter at our Friendsgiving party.

3. Pumpkin Dog Biscuits – Tuko turned 1 so I had to spoil the crap out of him with homemade biscuits and a new sweater. Believe me, I will be making these again very soon for Christmas gifts for all the adorable pups in my life.

4. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones – they were an extra amazing breakfast treat! The flavor was rich and complex with a flaky texture that was pretty much irresistible!

 

And that sums it up!

 

Moving forward… here are a few winter goals I am planning to tackle in the dark, cold months ahead:

1. Make homemade ricotta cheese (this has been on my list forever and I am going to do it this time!)

2. Get into a morning yoga routine

3. Make more homemade salad dressings

4. Work on my photography skills // work on lighting

5. Learn basic CSS (or at least enough to get my logo up in that corner where the V is!!)

6. Get into Twitter

7. Make homemade cleaning supplies

 

Okay, that is a start. Should keep me busy for awhile [I hope]. What you are hoping to accomplish this winter?

 

Boozy Stout Brownies

November 28, 2012

I was soooo excited to receive the newest edition of Chickpea Magazine in the mail last week that I instantly had the urge to start cooking out of it. I could have chose the healthy Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash or the hearty Butternut Squash Fennel Lasagna but instead I was drawn to these Boozy Stout Brownies. Alcohol and chocolate? Go figure.

These vegan gems were extra rich and gooey. I’d suggest munching down on these with a big glass of Homemade Soy Milk and plan on sharing them with your friends. These are perfect for that Holiday vegan potluck coming up or to bring in to work (Am I the only one who works with handful of vegans? I bet not!).

 

 

Boozy Stout Brownies

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola or coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup stout beer
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, yogurt, and beer. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add in the wet ingredients. Fold dry into wet until a thick batter has formed. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and cook for 30 minutes or until the center has set.

Let cool slightly and serve warm!

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

November 26, 2012

Did everyone [From the US] have a wonderful long weekend? Are you all busy Cyber Monday shopping for the best holiday deals instead of working right now? Don’t worry. I won’t tell! I would be as well but I spent all my money on Black Friday (yup – I’m one of those that goes out at Midnight to save myself 50 bucks). Ah well. It’s all part of the adventure, right?

Oh! Please disregard the shamble that is my ‘recipes’ page right now. It’s in the process of being re-vamped and should hopefully be back to normal tomorrow. Cool? Cool and thanks for being so patient!

Anyhow, wanna talk hummus? Remember when I made that amazing Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus? Damn, that stuff was sooooooo good. Well, I’m back with more funky flavors and this one might take the cake. The soft sweet potatoes create the perfect texture for a creamy and flavorful dip. Seriously, this stuff is crazy good. And smother it on top of those homemade Sesame and Poppyseed Crackers and you are golden!

Impress your guests at your next holiday party with not only homemade crackers but homemade dip as well! Or save it all for yourself….that is what I did.

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I made mine from dried beans but feel free to use canned)
  • 4 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you may need more if the hummus comes out thick)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower to medium low and add in the sweet potatoes. Cook until softened (about 10 to 15 minutes). Strain and let cool.

In a large blender or with a food processor, blend all the ingredients together until a desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more olive oil if dry, more sriracha if not spicy enough for you, or more lemon juice to bring out the flavors more.

Serve with homemade crackers!

 

 

 

Sesame & Poppyseed Crackers

November 23, 2012

…And it’s over. All the planning, cooking, over-eating, and family time is done. Now…time for a detox. Haha, Just kidding! Time to start planning for December holidays!

These crackers are awesome with some homemade hummus (sweet potato hummus recipe to follow soon!), baba ganoush or with that leftover brie from Thanksgiving (who are we kidding…who ever has leftover brie?!).

 

 

Anyhow, these make several dozen so plan to serve them at a holiday party (Ugly Sweater party, anyone?) or nibble away at them slowly as long as they are stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Easy, right?

Also, feel free to get creative with the seed combinations. I used Sesame and Poppy because that is what I had on hand but feel free to use all sesame or flaxseed or sunflower…whatever you are feeling!

 

 

Sesame & Poppyseed Crackers

adapted from Salty Snacks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, seeds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the water and olive oil. Fold dry ingredient into wet until combined (don’t overmix or it’ll become tough!)

 

 

Roll out in sections (I divided my dough into 4 parts) using either a rolling pin or your pasta maker. If using rolling pin, I would just roll as thin as possible or until desired thickness. Cut squares out of the dough using a cookie cutter and move prepared squares to the baking sheets.

 

Working in batches, cook for 12 minutes or until browned and crisp. As this round is baking, prepare more crackers with the rest of your dough. Repeat until all the dough has been prepared and cooked.

Let cool completely, serve with dips, or transfer to an airtight container for up to two weeks.

 

Tuko Turns 1 // Homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

November 20, 2012

Woah, time has really flown fast since I posted about Tuko turning 6 months. Since then, we’ve moved into a new house, I graduated from college, and Wyatt started a new full time job. Also, I should mention that Tuko has doubled (if not tripled) in size since then. And he just keeps growing!

For his birthday, we got him a cute little American Apparel sweater and made him some homemade dog biscuits. Spoiled little thing.

 

 

These dog biscuits are packed full of pumpkin and peanut butter. Peanut butter is his favorite…in fact he thinks it is exclusively his food. I cannot pull the stuff out of the cabinet without him pawing at me to get a spoonful (again, spoiled little thing).

 

 

Homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

adapted slightly from A Beautiful Mess
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup orangic peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until a thick dough forms. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Once the dough has chilled, roll out onto a floured surface (roll the dough to about a 1/2 inch thick) and use cookie cutters to make desired shape. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes or until the treats are golden on top.

Shower your dog with warm treats and then store the rest in an airtight container for up to a week.

VV’s Thanksgiving Suggestions

November 15, 2012

Okay. So I’m not gonna lie. I am starting to get REALLY excited about Thanksgiving. Not only does it mean a  5 day weekend (!!!) but also implies copious amounts of amazing food. My mother emailed me the final menu for the big day this morning and now all I can think about is mushroom gravy, purple mashed potatoes, and Cappuccino chocolate cheesecake. I helped curate the menu (with recipes from some of my favorite blogs like Love & Lemons, SpoonForkBacon, and JoyTheBaker) and cannot wait to spend an entire day cooking in the kitchen.

Anyhow, while my spirits are high on Tofurkey, I thought I’d share a few VV recipes that would be perfect for your big Thanksgiving day!

 

     

1. Oatmeal Molasses Rolls – Soft, gooey, and irresistible when fresh out of the oven

2. Glazed Honey Mustard Brusses Sprouts - tangy and crunchy will help bring variety to your meal

3. Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Pops – perfect little appetizer when entertaining guests! Super mobile, bite size, and delicious!

4. Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary - cooking with wine always makes things fancier, right? And these colorful carrots will for sure stick out on your holiday table!

 

 

Also, if you feel like adventuring outside of VV, I highly recommend checking out some of these thanksgiving recipes:

Collard Greens & Blue Cheese Salad (The Healthy Foodie)

Honeycrisp Bourbon Cider (SpoonForkBacon)

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere (Feasting at Home)

Autumn Brittle (Adventures in Cooking)

Bailey’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Pie (She Wears Many Hats)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

November 13, 2012

Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that winter is here and we won’t be experiencing any more 70 degree days. Ah, this a very bittersweet realization. On one hand, it means endless cups of chai tea, lazy mornings under the covers with favorite novels, all day bake-a-thons, and soup soup soup. On the other hand, this means six more months before lake adventures, cross country road trips, and waterfall picnics.

And with this new acceptance comes a soup recipe! I’ve already made a few soups this season (see: curried butternut squash soup) but the weather had me craving a hardly soup packed full of starchy potatoes and earthy flavorings. This soup did the trick! Along with some simple (and delicious) rustic bread, this soup filled us up and will be making leftover appearances for the next two days!

As for the rustic bread…so simple and soft with a crisp outer crust. I’ve discovered (after trying it for the first time with my Muesli Bread) is the trick to REALLY delicious bread baking is to have a pot of steaming water under the bread while it’s cooking. This helps keep the bread soft and full of moisture. Oh so delicious! Perfect side to this soup. And let’s be honest, the only reason we even make soup is for an excuse to make homemade bread to go with it. Right? Or is that just me?

So what I am are trying to say is you should embrace that the cold and darkness is forcing you to stay inside and spend a few hours in your kitchen…perhaps whipping up this comforting and hardy dish?

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

For the bread:

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

 

For the soup:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 springs of rosemary
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped (with stems removed)
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Start with the bread: In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for five minutes (this will give it some time to start foaming and activating). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water/yeast mixture. Mix until combined (the batter will be VERY sticky – don’t worry! It’s suppose to be like this). Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. [Start on the soup while this is rising]

Once it has doubled in size, knead the dough a few times and move to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise on this sheet for a half an hour. Sprinkle with flour and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet or pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat during the preheating process. Once the oven is ready, place the dough (on the baking sheet) on the top shelf of the oven and pour a cup of warm water in the skillet below (it will steam and this is exactly what we want to happen). Let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the soup: Heat the olive in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes (or until translucent). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add cubed potatoes and celery and then season with salt / pepper. Next, combine in the tomatoes, rosemary (throw them in whole and then take out the twigs at the end), white wine, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a bowl, cover, and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Once ready to serve, chop the kale and add at the last moment (this keeps the kale a little crispy) and season again with salt/pepper.

Serve warm with fresh bread!

 

 

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

November 9, 2012

Oh my goodness, it’s Friday! I hope you are as excited as I am. Last weekend we had daylight saving (turned the clocks back an hour) so it has been pitch black every night this week when I leave work. Total bummer. But the great thing about it being Friday is tomorrow I can play outside in the SUN all day! And it’s suppose to be in the high 60′s and sunny. You know what that means? It means I’ve already planned a full menu for a lunch picnic with my puppy and boyfriend.

Anyhow, here is a simple and quick recipe for vegan pumpkin ice cream! I used bananas as the base which made the ice cream thick but the banana taste was masked by the pumpkin and cinnamon. Have you tried this trick before? Frozen bananas blended taste super similar to ice cream…it’s awesome. Whoever thought of this was a serious genius. I cannot wait to experiment with this concept more (I’m thinking…chocolate, banana, and peanut butter in our near future?!).

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

Makes about 2-3 servings

  • 3 bananas, frozen and peeled
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve right away (it will have a texture similar to soft serve) or let freeze for 2 hours to make firm.

Enjoy with warm pie or as a late night snack (and don’t even feel guilty about it!)

 

PS: Don’t forget to check out the wonderful giveaway I am hosting this week!

Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary + Giveaway

November 7, 2012

 

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Now that the official stuff is out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the changing happening around VV before we get into food. So, I’ve transferred my site and have the backbone of what it will become but this is only the beginning. Now it’s time to fix [many] bugs/broken links before I continue on the design process. Please feel free to shoot me an email at vegetarianventures@gmail.com if you happen to see something funky going on and update your RSS feeds to direct to my new site (most should automatically but if you followed VV through wordpress.com they WILL NOT. Consider switching to following VV on bloglovin or facebook!). Anyhow, just wanted to give a little update on how the process is coming and let you know that things will  be moving around within the site for the next week weeks.

 

 

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And now let’s talk about the greatest holiday to ever cross foodie’s paths – Thanksgiving! I, personally, love that there is a specific day dedicated to taking work off, cooking dozens of recipes, and eat mass quantities of delicious food. Am I the only one? Didn’t think so. And now that it is November, it’s time to start recipe experimenting for the big day! A group of wonderful bloggers and myself are teaming up with Country Crock to cook up some of the best Thanksgiving side dishes imaginable. What does this mean for you? It means that I have another wonderful giveaway for all of you (more on that later in this post!) and a list of delicious side dishes for your inspiration (click here to see what everyone is coming up with!).

As for VV, we decided we wanted to showcase this wonderful carrot recipe. Why? Because it would look absolutely stunning on your Thanksgiving table (look at all those colors!) and its super simple to make. So simple that you can pop these in the oven in 5 minutes and then spend the rest of your time worrying about the 100+ other things going on in your kitchen. Not to bad, eh?

Also, did I mention this recipe is delicious? The minimal amount of ingredients help bring out the true flavors of each component. Roasting makes the carrots slightly sweet while the rosemary brings in the savory and the hazelnuts give it a crunch. Plus, added bonus, the rosemary makes your kitchen smell like the holidays! So comforting.

Oh, and guess what!? I also have a giveaway for all of you! Because you are awesome and Country Crock was kind enough to supply some beautiful cookware.

Enter for a chance to win an Italian Scalloped Baker (10″ x 6″) in the color of your choice! Click on over to the Sur La Table website to see all the color options.

Here is how to enter:

1. Like VV on Facebook or follow on Bloglovin.

2. Leave a comment telling VV what your holiday dish/recipe is

That’s it! For extra entries, follow VV on Twitter and leave a comment saying you did so!

The giveaway will be open until next Tuesday (November 13th) at 2 pm (Eastern Time). Please make sure you leave a valid email address for me to get a hold of the winner!

Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary

  • 2 bunches of carrots (preferably multicolored but orange will do)
  • 1 Tablespoon County Crock
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • a few (3-4, depending on size) springs of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 425. Wash and prep the carrots (if they are super dirty then peel them) and place them in a single row on tin foil. Place another piece of tin foil over them and roll up three of the sides to create a pouch. In the opening, stick the rosemary, country crock, white wine, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal the pouch, give it a gentle shake (to help mix everything together), and then place on a baking sheet.

Cook for 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft. You can check this by opening one side of the pouch and seeing if a fork can pierce through the carrot. While those are cooking, lightly toast the hazelnuts by putting them into a skillet over medium low heat and stirring until fragrant (3 to 5 minutes).

Sprinkle hazelnuts over carrots and serve warm.

 

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Moody Monday // Bannock Bread

November 5, 2012

So I started my day a bit bummed out. In addition to it being Monday (yuck), I also received some news that my designer working on the new blog layout had some family things come up and she will not be able to follow through on my redesign! It’s a total shame and sort of got me down (I had been looking forward to this redesign since September!). However, after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion I was meant to do this one myself. I started this blog as a creative outlet and for me to hand off one of the biggest parts of the creative process for a blog (designing it!) seems a bit silly. Yes, it’s going to take many hours of drinking ginger-lemon tea and watching youtube videos to figure out how to transfer all my information into a self-hosting site and to learn what the html code is…for well, pretty much everything…. but it will be a rewarding learning experience. I had been feeling in a bit of a blog rut lately and this will be good to step back from my daily posting routine and a chance to get creative on a different level.

 

 

Anyhow, enough about that – how was your weekend? I picked up the What Katie Ate and Homemade Winter (I made those delicious Gingerbread muffins from her last book!) for some weekend inspiration. This recipe for bannock is out of the Homemade Winter book and it was oh so delicious with some butter and strawberry jam. Think a hybrid of a savory scone and crumbly pancake. Got it? Now you want to make some? Okay, cool. Here is the recipe:

 

 

Bannock Bread

adapted from Homemade Winter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cold and sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Next, cut in the butter and slowly add the buttermilk until the mixture is just combined (don’t overmix!).

Heat a skillet over high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter and then turn down to medium-high heat. Form the sticky dough into a large ball and place on the skillet (flatten it a bit but not so much that it’s touching the edges). Let cook on that side for about 5 minutes (turn down the temperature a little bit if it’s cooking too fast – I almost burned mine the first time around) and then flip to cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool slightly. Serve with butter and jam or cream cheese or syrup or whatever you can find that looks tasty in your fridge!

Virtual Vegan Potluck /// Mexican Wedding Pumpkin Cookies

November 1, 2012

Hello November! Let’s welcome you in with a potluck, shall we? For everyone following the virtual vegan potluck, I hope you are enjoying scanning through copious amounts of vegan fare from all over the world! And for those of you who are regulars and have no idea what a virtual potluck even is, please feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page and check out the wonderful recipes that other bloggers made as part of this potluck.

Anyhow, I decided to be festive and made pumpkin cookies. I know, I know. Pumpkin is for October and Halloween but I don’t care! It’s totally delicious and I’m having too much fun turning regular recipes into fall ones. Plus, these cookies are [literally] rolled in sugar…how can that be bad?

Mexican Wedding Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1/2 cup canola or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • dash of cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, pumpkin, sugar, and vanilla. Once combined, turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the cinnamon, ginger, all spice, clove, salt, and flour. Lastly, add in the chopped pecans (the dough will be VERY stiff and thick – perfect for shaping!).

Roll the dough into evenly sized balls (about the size of a golf-ball) and place on the cookie sheet (they won’t expand much so you don’t have to worry about them being too close together). Cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to slightly turn brown.

While still warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar to completely coat them.

Scarf down with some warm chai tea or while snuggling under a warm blanket!

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Also, don’t forget to check out the giveaway I am hosting and click on the images below to see more from the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

October Highlights

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! I usually do my monthly wrap ups on the first but VV is participating in a virtual potluck tomorrow (more on that…well…tomorrow) so let’s talk October today. Cool? Cool.

Did everyone have a wonderful October? I don’t know what it is but my only association with Fall is Late September/October. I am really hoping that the crisp fall feeling doesn’t fade into winter just yet…oh November, you sound so…dark. Am I the only one feeling this way? Well, in an attempt to hold onto my favorite season as long as possible, I will be keeping the pumpkin recipes coming! At least until I have to pull out my winter jacket…
And now for some October Highlights!

 

 

1. Muesli Bread – by far my favorite recipe from the month of October. Not only was this bread melt-in-your-mouth delicious when fresh out of the oven but it was also loaded with healthy (and yummy!) pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dried cherries!

2. Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons – Goat cheese croutons might be the best winter food ever to exist. Bringing these into my world has opened up so many new ways to jazz up ordinary soup.

3. Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus – Hummus has been my go to snack for years now and my recent attempts to play with its flavors have been delightful. The extra kick that the jalapeno gives really brings new flavor to standard hummus

4. Homemade Caramel Corn – Your movie nights will never be the same again! The recipe makes a lot but it’s the perfect snack for a crowd or if you are craving some seriously delicious caramel treats in your life.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to check out my collaboration with Dishes Undressed on Bread Pudding and the October Giveaway that VV is hosting (ends Friday!).

 

And as for November? Well, I am hoping (have I said this before?) to have my new blog makeover up and running this month! And will probably send the next 3 weeks drooling over Thanksgiving recipes. Ah yes, it won’t be such a bad month after all!

Chai Latte Pancakes + A Giveaway

October 26, 2012

Okay, so I have a confession. I don’t really like water…I know that sounds weird and maybe it’s because the water in my town is HEAVILY polluted but it just does not do it for me. Soo…bland. I’ll drink it if it’s boiled and has tea steeped in it..or if it’s gone through the process of being brewed into coffee. Other than that, I stick to sparkling water. The heat wave that struck the Midwest this July really got me addicted to canned seltzer water…and to flavored fizzy water. And here I am, 3 months later in a bit of a rut with my 4 cans of flavored sparkling water a day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sparkling water but, for a change of pace, I was very excited to try out this new all natural bubbly “soft drink” that Cascal approached me about it.

Cascal All Natural soft drinks are crafted with natural juices (no added sugar except from the juices) and fermented for fuller flavor. At first, I was a little put off by the word ‘soft drink’ because sugary pop comes to mind and I do not usually drink soda. However, this stuff is not the average soda you are used to getting at McDonalds. It reminds me of a mix between my beloved seltzer water and a sparkling juice. The end results are just terrific.

A few of my favorite parts about this soda? Well, they have AWESOME and intriguing flavors. My favorite was the Crisp White which had notes of Pear, Apricot, and Magnolia. Even the one with a chocolate note (Ripe Rough with notes of Chocolate, Rose, and cherry) had a refreshing and not overly sweet flavor to it. And if I have not convinced you already, each can is only 60-80 calories. 60-80 calories for a soda? Ohh yeah!

Anyhow, if you are into trying these out, head to your nearest Whole Foods to pick up your favorite flavor or enter my giveaway for a chance to win a sample pack! The sample pack will have the following five sodas in it:

Crisp White – With notes of pear, apricot and magnolia

Ripe Rouge – With notes of cherry, rose and chocolate

Fresh Tropical – With notes of mango, jasmine and kaffir lime

Bright Citrus – With notes of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple

Berry Cassis – With notes of black currant, tangerine and lemon

And now for the fine details…

How To Enter:

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite fall soup recipe.

For Extra entries:

Like Cacal or Vegetarian Ventures on Facebook and leave a comment below saying you did

OR

follow Cascal (@CheersCascal) or Vegetarian Ventures (@shellywester) on Twitter and leave a comment below saying you did!
***Make sure to include your email in the comment below so I know how to get a hold of you! This giveaway will be closed on Friday, November 2nd at 10 PM Eastern time and is (sorry!) open to US residents only.***

This is now closed!

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Oh, also, shifting topics…I have a recipe for you! Here is a recipe for some vegan chai latte pancakes that I created using a combination of Isa Chandra’s Chai Latte Cupcakes and Perfect Pancakes recipes!

Perfect way to brighten up your morning on these gloomy fall days!

Chai Latte Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 black tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove from heat, add in tea bags, and cover. Let steap for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add the oil, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet (you should be able to make 2-3 at a time depending on the skillet size). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm with cocoa powder and syrup.

Spicy Orange Tofu

October 24, 2012

Orange tofu! The name sounds kind of weird but it’s a spin off of the famous Orange Chicken that you can get at your local Chinese take-out. Chinese take-out is something I ate a lot growing up so the cravings for it are more frequent than I’d like to admit. Although I can’t get it at most restaurants anymore (they only serve chicken versions), I can make my own! Which is probably for the best because all that MSG makes me soooo sleeepy anyways….zzzzzzz

This recipe is super similar to my General Tao Tofu recipe but with a different sauce. As I’ve mentioned before, I make that General Tao a lot.. so sometimes it’s nice to mix it up and this recipe was the perfect answer to that. It’s a bit sweeter but the srihacha gives a lingering kick to leave you feeling oh so satisfied.

So there it is! Recipe number 2 on this “Tofu Adventure” was a success [although...was this cheating since this method of preparing is already my go-to tofu cooking method? Ah, whatever. Let's count it as a win]. If you’re into tofu like I am, feel free to check out the first part of “Tofu Adventure” where I made some delicious Pesto Tofu Scramble!

;

;

Spicy Orange Tofu

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 1 pound of extra firm tofu (drained and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable oil

;

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of sriracha (more if you like it spicy!)

;

  • Rice
  • Steamed broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish

;

Start by making the sauce: Whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice, ginger, garlic and sriracha. Taste test and add more sriracha is it needs more spice. Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer with 3 Tablespoons water. Dip tofu in this mixture until completely coated and then sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cornstarch over the tofu until it’s completely coated.

Next, In a large pan fry the tofu by added them to a medium heated pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in it. Flip the tofu after about 2 minutes or until it is browned on all sides. When done, turn heat down to medium-low and pour in the orange glaze. Fold the glaze into the tofu and cook down to desired consistency.

Serve warm over rice and with steamed broccoli. Top with sesame seeds and perhaps find some vegetarian crab rangoon to top it all off!

;

Muesli Bread

October 23, 2012

I know I push making homemade staples on you guys (see: DIY ketchup, Vegetable Broth, Pumpkin Granola, etc etc etc) but I only do it with the best intentions in mind. It’s healthier, you know exactly what is going into your body, and it often times taste better. I totally get that you aren’t going to always have time to make everything from scratch but you really should make some time now and then to make homemade bread. It may sound unnecessary when you can walk down the street and pick up a loaf for 4 dollars but let me tell you…nothing compares to homemade bread. There is something so satisfyingly addicting about fresh, steamy, buttered bread hot out of the oven. It’s more addicting than that chocolate you sneak after dinner… than that giant triple espresso latte your body tells you it needs in the morning…this stuff is probably more addicting [and healthier] than crack [although I have no real life experience to testify this - sorry!].

Anyhow, cooler weather means we can turn our oven on for more than 20 minutes without fainting..or worse yet, feeling guilty about having it on. It means we stay in doors more [unless you are a skier...then you are gearing up for your most busy season. Luckily, my brother go the skiing bug in my family so I can safely say I prefer the indoors during the cooler months] so we have more time to prep the dough, we have more excuses to heat the house by turning the oven up, and we have more reason to “carb-up” [probably not a word but I'm using it] so our bodies can use those calories to keep us warm. Okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a bit…it is still 60 degrees out there but when you are dealing with something as amazing as fresh bread, you NEED to extend the bread season as long as possible. So put your slippers on, turn that oven up, and start shivering so your body can crave those carbs!

Last “bread season” I tackled Garlic Naan, Breadmaker Jalapeno Cheese Bread, Pretzel Bread, Fall Focaccia, and Oatmeal Honey Buttermillk loaves (my personal favorite) – to name a few. This season, I am starting it off with this breakfast Muesli Bread! I am really gonna have to go big this season because this bread is already one of my favorites! Not only is it gorgeous to look at but it’s bursting with flavor from the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit! We ate this for breakfast with a thin layer of butter and strawberry preserves…oh. my. goodness. I wish breakfast could be this indulgent all the time!

Muesli Bread

adapted from Minimalist Baker
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups flour + more for dusting
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 Tablespoon fast acting yeast
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit you’d prefer)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped

In a small measuring cup, combine the warm water and yeast and set aside (this will give the yeast a few minutes to ‘activate’ and start foaming). Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined (this will either take a sturdy spatula or maybe even your hands…the dough will be very sticky).

Once the dough has formed a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Look sit for 1 hour in a warm spot and then transfer to the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is ready, remove from the fridge and transfer to a floured counter top. Knead the dough a few times and then add in the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cherries. Knead until everything is incorporated (try to keep the add-ins as much in the middle as possible because they tend to burn if they are sticking out on top).

Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Adjust your oven racks so there is one on the lowest spot and then one in the middle. Place a metal or cast iron (NOT GLASS) pan on the bottom shelf and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Let dough rise for about 20 minutes or until the oven has preheated. Stick the dough into the preheated oven and pour a cup of warm water into the metal pan (it’ll steam – don’t worry! It’s suppose to!) and cook for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven once the top is browned and serve warm with butter // jam.

Pesto Tofu Scramble with Roasted Tomatoes

October 22, 2012

Morning, Morning, Morning! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Mine was filled [again] with all my favorite things: friends, hiking, yoga[ing], cooking, and exploring. It’s been so beautiful here with the leaves changing that I’ve felt the need to get outside as much as possible before the cold comes in! We are going to Denver this weekend so I’ve been trying to get my Midwest Fall crammed into 3 weekends this year instead of 4. Here are a few pictures from the hiking /// Fire Tower adventure yesterday:

This weekend was also great because it felt like a bit of a staycation. On Saturday night, Wyatt and I skipped out on our usual bar spot and went drinking at a small Irish pub instead. I had never really drank there before and it was such a wonderful, new experience. The place is full of great lighting, has a rustic pub feel, and delicious cocktail combinations! Definitely my new favorite “date spot”.

And then on Sunday we spent most of the day hiking with some friends. On the way back from the hike, we went out to eat at this little touristy restaurant called ‘The View’. This place is down by the lake so it’s a ways away from Bloomington and we have passed it dozens of times but never thought to stop. It was a pretty good experience [minus some terrible music playing]. The atmosphere was laid back and they had some delicious homemade veggie burgers and ginger sprinter.

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And now let’s talk about food! I have a very love//hate relationship with tofu. I can make an amazing General Tao Tofu dish like no one’s business but then there are often times that my tofu comes out crumbly//mushy//sad when I step out of my comfort zone with it. And thus, I have decided that I love [when things go right] tofu too much to be discouraged about trying a new recipe out of fear it won’t come out. I am planning to try a new tofu dish at least one a week for the next month to hone in on my skills and figure out what works/does not work for me when it comes to this protein packed beast [and perhaps I'll try tempeh next month...and then seitan...etc].

I started my new ‘Tofu Journey’ [can we call it that?] with this scramble. I’ve made many tofu scrambles before and sometimes they turn out just right…but other times they turn out watery or dry or bland. I wasn’t going to let some bad attempts discourage me this time though. I thought about failed attempts in the past and what went wrong…the final verdict to making a good tofu scramble [I decided] was 1. watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t get dried out 2. Pick a flavor combination and stick to it so that it doesn’t end up bland or have too much going on 3. Don’t get impatient…make sure you let it get to the right consistency before taking it off the stove top.

Pesto Tofu Scramble with Roasted Tomatoes

Serve 3 (or a hungry 2!)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 block firm (or extra firm) tofu
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (I used my frozen pesto)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt / pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil and salt / pepper and place onto a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes (I like my tomatoes to still have a bit of shape but feel free to roast for longer if you like them to be broken down).

In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes; add the garlic and cook for another two. Next, squeeze the tofu over the sink and try to ring out some of the water. Crumble the tofu over the pan and saute for about ten minutes (this will depend on how moist the tofu is so this is the part where you watch it very closely…cook longer if it’s still mushy and add a tablespoon or so of water if it dries out). Add in the prepared pesto and cook for another two minutes. Remove from heat and top with roasted tomatoes.

Serve with soy yogurt and blueberries. Or with a big side of home fries.