Strawberry Salsa

So you went crazy this past weekend and picked a zillion berries and now you are worried that your fresh strawberries might not be so fresh by the time you want to use them? Here’s a little trick from The Canning Diva to buy you a little bit of time while you process those berries:

  • Put your strawberries in a large bowl and run cold water over them.
  • Add 1/4 cup of vinegar (distilled white or apple cider) to every 2 cups of water.
  • Let them soak for about 5 minutes.
  • Drain, rinse, and dry on a towel-lined cookie sheet.

 

Now get to work using the fruit of your labor in this unusual dish sure to delight at your next porch party or holiday party. In the dead of winter, if you pull out a jar of this to take for a dish to pass, you will look like a rock star. This past weekend, my friend Jen, her mom, Mrs. Jen and I went to work churning out two batches of this sweet and savory salsa. I can’t wait to try it over some vegan cream cheese on a cracker or a corn chip.

The Diva’s Signature Strawberry Salsa

  • 12 cups of bite-size chopped strawberries (about 4 quarts)
  • 1/2 cup Agave Sweetener
  • 5 cups of raw, unbleached sugar (if this huge amount freaks you out you can use more Agave, Stevia or Splenda, consistency will vary however-we used 3 C sugar and a mix for the rest)
  • 1 1/4 cups Vidalia onions, size is your preference (mine are diced small)
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup of jalapeno (if you want more heat, keep some seeds) I remove all seeds and chop fine in my small food processor
  • 4 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of apple cider vinegar

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Directions from the Diva: Boil sugar, vinegar and agave sweetener until sugar has dissolved. Add all onions, peppers, herbs, lime juice and spices and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add the strawberries. Mix well.

Using a slotted spoon, hot pack salsa into pint size jars being sure to include ample liquid in each jar so long as the salsa isn’t too watery. Leave a ½” of headspace for proper processing. (I filled 7 jars with salsa and had 1 pint left over that was pure liquid. Process the liquid the same as the salsa and use it as a marinade or the base of a sweet and savory cocktail)

As always, be sure to wipe your rims with a warm cloth to remove any liquid. Seal each jar with lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Processing doesn’t begin until after the water is at a rolling boil! 

 

Strawberry Chia Freezer Jam

My friend Jen had to sell me on this idea big time as every other time I have had or used chia seeds except in a granola bar, I have come away feeling icky with bloating, and all those black seeds sticking in my teeth, gelling and [in my imagination] growing [cha, cha, cha chia]. This however, seems like an appropriate place for chia seeds-in freezer jam.

This recipe was adapted from Oh She Glows  and came together in a blender, in a blink. Since this is freezer jam, pop it into a freezer safe container AFTER you let it sit for a few hours and be sure to leave plenty of headspace for the chia to work it’s magic.

Ingredients

  • 6 C blended strawberries [AFTER blending you want 6 C which is about 12 C of whole berries]
  • 3 T maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 6-12 T water
  • 3 T chia seeds
  • 2-3 T lemon juice
  • zest from 2 lemons

Wash, hull, blend strawberries together, stir in syrup, chia, zest, juice and 6 of the T of water. Depending on the consistency you want from the jam, add up to 6 T more water. We added all 6 as our chia were already thickening past the point we really liked it while it was sitting waiting for us to scoop it into the jars.

Ladle into freezer safe jars, allow to sit 6-8 hours before putting in the freezer to gain perfect chia thickness. Store in freezer up to 6 months. The Mountain Mama Cooks adds vanilla to hers if you would like for a more “cooked” versus raw taste. If you are a purist, Eating Bird Food always has strong chia recipes even for the chia-shy like me.

This recipe tasted like a fresh picked strawberry with a kick. I will need that come winter.

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Those who can, should…well, Can.

I love veggies. I mean it would be tough to be veganish and not adore vegetables (let’s just pretend that eggplant is a toxin because save eggplant, I love all veggies-I hate, no loathe, eggplant);  but veggies pickled? Well that has to be about as close to bliss as one can get eating summer food straight from a jar in the off season (if mine last that long).

My day job is as project director at a public relations firm, this past winter we retained a client called The Canning Diva. She came to our first meeting with a jar of salsa and even if she walked out the door as a client tomorrow, I would remain close friends with her. She’s “good people” as my friend Josh Hiller would say. I’ve drank the Kool Aid. I now measure and use ratios in the kitchen. The Canning Diva makes canning accessible and dare I say fun. She teaches preservation methods to all from novices to seasoned veterans and everyone in between, her enthusiasm for the art of canning is frankly unmatched. I mean she is TRULY excited about preserving food as art.

About a month ago, I invited The Canning Diva to my book group (we stopped reading books like years ago) and we created all sorts of delish cocktail delights like pickled Brussels sprouts, carrots, and asparagus; a session from which all members left feeling confident, inspired, and maybe a little drunk…we had to TRY the cocktail pickles The Canning Diva brought that showed us our finished product- I mean it was absolutely necessary we know what we were getting ourselves into, right? Sidebar: do not even get my friend Julie talking about the dry wine pickled garlic cloves…she might be having a love affair with them. They are exceptional.

I held off experimenting with pickling until Michigan asparagus came into season at my fave local farm, Krupp Farms, whereupon my gal pal Jen, her mom, Mrs. Jen, and I decided to take a cloudy summer Saturday and turn in into a canning extravaganza! We canned over 140 jars of delish summer surprises in one very full day.

While my goodies sit on a shelf, waiting to “cure”, I leave you with one of my favorite things to come out of a jar since peanut butter…The Canning Diva’s Pickled Asparagus recipe. I’ll share the strawberry recipes we worked on soon too.

The Canning Diva says: a great side to a frothy beer or an excellent alternative to celery in a Bloody Mary! If you would prefer a non-alcoholic splendor, they taste excellent in a salad or an addition to a relish tray.

Ingredients

  • 7 lbs asparagus
  • 5 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup pickling or canning salt
  • 6 cloves of garlic, whole
  • ½ tsp dill seed
  • ½ tsp mustard seed per jar
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes per jar

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As usual, prepare all of your jars ahead of time and have your lids and rings setting in boiled water. If you don’t know how to do this…please, get with Diane, AKA The Canning Diva at one of her Canning 101 classes offered in GR. It will open a whole new world to you for food preserving and SAVING MONEY by preserving the summer harvest.

In a large stainless steel stock pot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Place a garlic clove, ½ tsp dill seeds, ½ tsp of hot pepper flakes and ½ tsp mustard seeds in each jar. Raw pack the asparagus into each jar leaving a generous ½” head space.

Ladle hot liquid into jars being sure to maintain the ½” headspace. Remove any air bubbles using your canning utensil or the handle of a wooden spoon. Adjust headspace if necessary.

Tip: If you run out of pickling liquid, use half the parts listed above, boil and fill jars accordingly. Never fill your remaining jars with just water – it will lessen the acidic level and cause food to spoil.

Using a warm wash cloth dipped in vinegar, wipe each rim and screw bands. Place lids and rings on each jar and hand tighten. Place jars in water bather and cover with water. Process the jars for 10 minutes. Remember, processing time doesn’t begin until the water is at a full rolling boil.

We canned 10 lbs of asparagus in varying sized jars from pint to half pint, so we doubled this recipe AND then needed an additional recipe of JUST pickling brine so we whipped up 3 brine recipes in all. Super simple to fix a brine error if it happens is what I’m getting at.

Full disclosure: The Canning Diva is one of my clients, I paid for a class as did a bunch of my gal pals about a month ago, then we were unleashed into the world of canning. I wrote this blog to share this info, a divine recipe, and help bring awareness to this craft during the Midwestern summer bounty, not necessarily to promote her business; however, if that also happens…AWESOME because this is a skill I should have learned a long time ago. Thanks Canning Diva!

Happy Birthday to Me! Vegan Cupcake Recipe for YOU!

Another cupcake recipe. This one is my fave. I have a tub of Pillsbury frosting to make the experience complete. I added to this batch 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of espresso for a Mexican chocolate flavor. Happy birthday week to ME!

Veg Bon Vivant

In honor of my birthday today (36 is the new 26), a vegan cupcake recipe for your nom nom pleasure.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 2 C white sugar
  • 6T cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 T white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.  Gently add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop out 1/4 C batter into cupcake wrappers.

Bake 350 x 12-16 minutes depending on your oven.  My batches all averaged about 15 minutes in a conventional gas oven.

Let cool and frost with your fave vegan frosting or Pillsbury chocolate frosting (both dark and milk chocolate varieties are accidentally vegan).

Thank you to my friends Jon Dunn and Kolene Allen…

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Wheat Berry Spring Salad

A recipe doesn’t have to be very complex. Sometimes I just grab stuff that is either: 1) about to go bad in my fridge, 2) really fresh in my fridge, or 3) stuff that sounds good and hope it all tastes good together. This was #3 for a quick dinner and several more lunches.

Not rocket science, hell sometimes I don’t even measure…

Ingredients:

  • Everything in my fridge cut up (asparagus raw, tomato raw, english cucumber, dried cranberries, red grapes halved, a little romano cheese cut in chunks-0mit for vegans)
  • 2 c cooked wheat berries

Dressing :

  • 1/2 C apricot balsamic vinegar (or any other flavor really)
  • 1/8 C evoo
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tossed the dressing with the wheat berries and severed over microgreens. Tasted amazing the next day in a pita.

Wheatberry Salad

Fakin’ CheeseBurger (Vegan)

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It’s summer. Flame broiled burger smells are in the air, and you are still eating burgers off a grill from the frozen food section of the local IGA? I’m sorry to break this to you, but you’re doing it all wrong. Take a few minutes, whip up your own burger and revel in the excitement that is all of the ordinary and none of the animal. Veggies, you know what I mean.

This recipe comes to you courtesy of The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet (so far this book has proven to be true to the title).

Ingredients:

  • 1 C TVP granules
  • 1 scant C veggie broth
  • 1/4 C imitation bacon bits, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 C vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 C nutritional yeast
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1/4 C peanut butter
  • 1/4 C pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil (I got away with 1/8 C)
  • 1/4 C bbq sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying/grilling

Directions:

In a large micro-safe bowl, mix together the TVP granules and the broth, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and microwave for 5-6 minutes. Alternatively, bring the broth to a boil, pour over the TVP, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the bacon bits, flour, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, peanut butter, maple syrup, oil, bbq sauce, salt and pepper to the bowl. Knead together for 5 minutes or so, then let sit a few minutes to thicken up.

Form into 4-6 patties. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Cook as desired. Panfry, grill or bake in a 350 oven until cooked through with a crisp-ish outer coating. They freeze well.

“Take me to the beach” Vegan Granola Bars

Memorial Day weekend. First official beach weekend in Michigan which of course requires portable food. Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares a recipe on HuffPost Taste every other Thursday and this one I have made several times since I discovered it. Perfect portable beach food.

The best part about this is recipe is that you can sub out just about anything you have in your kitchen for the dry components so long as you keep the wet component ratio (nut butter and agave or brown rice syrup) intact. The recipe doubles and triples well to boot.

Original Recipe:

  • 2 1/2 C rolled or quick oats
  • 1 C raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 2/3 C nut butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 C agave nectar or brown rice syrup (adjust based on how well things stick together)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt (optional)
  1. Mix together oats, pumpkin seeds, and raisins in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together nut butter, sweetener, and sea salt. Pour onto oat mix and mix well. If it is too dry add some more sweetner.
  3. Press mixture into a shallow baking dish lined with parchment to form one large bar. Cut into shapes after 4 hours and wrap up for individual serving. They last 2 weeks, covered in the fridge.

Recipe for Bars Pictured:

  • 2 1/2 C rolled oats
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 C mini carob chips
  • 1/3 C dried coconut
  • 1/3 C chia seeds
  • 1/3 C sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 C natural, crunchy peanut butter
  • 2/3 C brown rice syrup
  1. Mix together dried ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together nut butter and sweetener (I didn’t need salt due to sunflower seeds and peanut butter). Pour onto oat mix and mix well-dig your hands into it if you must! If it is too dry to stick together properly add some more sweetener.
  3. Press mixture into a shallow baking dish lined with parchment to form one large bar. Cut into shapes after 4 hours and wrap up for individual serving. I can see this working out well as rolled spheres too. They have a great texture. Bars or balls will last 2 weeks, covered in the fridge.

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How do I overnight oats? Let me count the ways….

My first encounter with overnight oats contained chia seeds which I love in smoothies, but loathe in anything that is required to set and then eat or drink. the consistency is well, cha, cha, cha, chia…and if you are a child of the 80’s then you will know exactly what this means – gel-like, icky, sticky and gross.

This recipe and countless variations becomes breakfast at least 4 days a week. With an unlimited amount of creations you can concoct with this base, it is sure to become a morning staple in your home too. I put these oats together at night before bed, pop in the fridge, then grab while I’m running out of the house like my hair is on fire in the AM. I eat them at the office while I’m checking email and making coffee.

Overnight Oat Base:

  • 1/3-1/2 C rolled oats ( I use Bob’s Red Mill, thick cut ) – not instant here – if you like it a little runny opt for less oats
  • 2/3 C any non dairy milk ( my go to is unsweetened almond milk )

Typically I add:

  • 2 T PB2
  • 1 sliced banana ( just before I eat the oats )

My next fave is:

  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 T reduced fat coconut
  • 1 C sliced strawberries (just before I eat the oats)

I also really love:

  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 C blueberries (just before I eat the oats)

Sometimes I even get really crazy and add:

  • 2/3 C unsweetened chocolate almond milk ( instead of the unsweetened plain milk in the recipe above )
  • 2 T Chocolate PB2
  • 1 sliced banana

Directions: combine oats and any add in EXCEPT fruit, then pop in the fridge overnight. 6 or so hours they are ready to consume. Add fruit before eating. If you add fruit the night before the water escapes into the oats and make them watery and icky. A very technical term, icky.

Pictured below is the “really crazy” variety minus the banana. My fave jar to use is pictured. Seems to be the perfect size for 1) the spoon and eating and 2) the oats for soaking in the milk.

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VOTE! Virtual Vegan Potluck: Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

vvpLOGO

UPDATE: The potluck is over, but the voting for faves just started! Below find my entry in the Virtual Vegan Potluck then click on over to cast your vote for Veg Bon Vivant for salad winner!

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I’m part of a GLOBAL plant-based potluck today. Doesn’t that sound super impressive? Over 170 of my virtual vegan friends have committed to participation in Virtual Vegan Potluck, a twice-a-year, orderly, and yummy way to expose their blog followers to new recipes and new vegan blogs. I am so excited about the blogroll itself I can hardly stand it. New reading! My “dish to pass” is a salad. A tried and true salad that never has leftovers and leaves everyone shocked that they just ate Thai food. Hey, eat more veggies while you are at it.

I relish all of the different flavor combinations that comprise regional foods and on occasion I like to make up my own recipes from the most awesome parts of other recipes.  I love peanut sauce in Thai restaurants; however it is not good for you. At. All. I modified a recipe I found online cutting out the non-veg ingredients, pinched a little of the fat (bye-bye oil) and yet maintained a “dressing” consistency suitable for a salad instead of satay duty. Paired with a few of my fave salad ingredients including the beloved soba noodle, I dropped in a spicy protein too to give you a delightfully filling and portable salad that could hold its own at a REAL potluck. Hello summer!

Peanut Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
  • 1 T tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp to 1 T chopped, ground, or pre-chopped ginger (test along the way)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • drizzle of toasted sesame oil (keep it to less than a tsp)
  • big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or 1 tsp-1T of hot sauce, your choice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hot water

Salad:

  • 1 package soba noodles prepared according to package instructions
  • 2 carrots, peeled, grated
  • 4 radishes, chopped
  • 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts or cashews, toasted
  • a handful of bean spouts per salad
Mix dressing ingredients together in the food processor, let set 10-20 minutes to develop in flavor intensity, reserve 1/4 C dressing for topping salad.  Shred cabbage, toss with chopped radishes and grated carrot, mound in 3-4 salad bowls.  Toss soba noodles in the peanut sauce until coated nicely, divide and add to cabbage salad, top with 1/4 C reserved dressing and crushed peanuts or cashews and fresh bean spouts.  Serve immediately.

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Well you know how a potluck works right? So that was JUST my dish to pass, scoot on over to the next blog for another delish salad and start filling up that plate! Just make sure you save room for dessert….I went through the blogroll today and down the line are some vegan desserts you will not want to miss!
Click “go forward” for the next salad from Yum for Tum or depending on how you found this post, you might have missed the one before me at Mojo Central. Happy potluck!
go_forward-300x243go_bck-300x257
Pictured with salad ginger/garlic/soy marinated baked tofu (recipe below):
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained, sliced in half (thickness wise) and pressed (after pressing 20-30 minutes, cut into pieces about the size of a pinky finger-sorry, that’s kinda gross!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
Marinate tofu in mixture of the ingredients above for 30 minutes to overnight. Bake tofu on a foil lined, lightly greased, rimed baking sheet at 375 or grilled until firm in texture, turning every 5-10 minutes.  Serve with the salad.
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Sometimes you just need chocolate cupcakes…like at 11pm for example

The title is true. Sometimes you just need chocolate cupcakes….like at 11pm for example. I posted this delish cake recipe some time ago and then a few nights ago when a chocolate cupcake craving hit…well, I made cupcakes at 11pm.

The cupcake recipe can be found here: Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes [this late night craving wanted coffee/chocolate so I added 1 T espresso powder to the chocolate batter for an espresso chocolate cupcake]

For the “frosting”:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Smash the ripe banana in a large bowl with vanilla. Gently whisk in powdered sugar until you reach your desired frosting consistency. Pop in the fridge. Will keep for up to one week. Bonus, tastes really good on toast.

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Virtual Vegan Potluck: Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

vvpLOGO

I’m part of a GLOBAL plant-based potluck today. Doesn’t that sound super impressive? Over 170 of my virtual vegan friends have committed to participation in Virtual Vegan Potluck, a twice-a-year, orderly, and yummy way to expose their blog followers to new recipes and new vegan blogs. I am so excited about the blogroll itself I can hardly stand it. New reading! My “dish to pass” is a salad. A tried and true salad that never has leftovers and leaves everyone shocked that they just ate Thai food. Hey, eat more veggies while you are at it.

I relish all of the different flavor combinations that comprise regional foods and on occasion I like to make up my own recipes from the most awesome parts of other recipes.  I love peanut sauce in Thai restaurants; however it is not good for you. At. All. I modified a recipe I found online cutting out the non-veg ingredients, pinched a little of the fat (bye-bye oil) and yet maintained a “dressing” consistency suitable for a salad instead of satay duty. Paired with a few of my fave salad ingredients including the beloved soba noodle, I dropped in a spicy protein too to give you a delightfully filling and portable salad that could hold its own at a REAL potluck. Hello summer!

Peanut Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
  • 1 T tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp to 1 T chopped, ground, or pre-chopped ginger (test along the way)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • drizzle of toasted sesame oil (keep it to less than a tsp)
  • big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or 1 tsp-1T of hot sauce, your choice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup hot water

Salad:

  • 1 package soba noodles prepared according to package instructions
  • 2 carrots, peeled, grated
  • 4 radishes, chopped
  • 1 head napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 C crushed peanuts or cashews, toasted
  • a handful of bean spouts per salad
Mix dressing ingredients together in the food processor, let set 10-20 minutes to develop in flavor intensity, reserve 1/4 C dressing for topping salad.  Shred cabbage, toss with chopped radishes and grated carrot, mound in 3-4 salad bowls.  Toss soba noodles in the peanut sauce until coated nicely, divide and add to cabbage salad, top with 1/4 C reserved dressing and crushed peanuts or cashews and fresh bean spouts.  Serve immediately.

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Well you know how a potluck works right? So that was JUST my dish to pass, scoot on over to the next blog for another delish salad and start filling up that plate! Just make sure you save room for dessert….I went through the blogroll today and down the line are some vegan desserts you will not want to miss!
Click “go forward” for the next salad from Yum for Tum or depending on how you found this post, you might have missed the one before me at Mojo Central. Happy potluck!
go_forward-300x243go_bck-300x257
Pictured with salad ginger/garlic/soy marinated baked tofu (recipe below):
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained, sliced in half (thickness wise) and pressed (after pressing 20-30 minutes, cut into pieces about the size of a pinky finger-sorry, that’s kinda gross!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C soy sauce
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
Marinate tofu in mixture of the ingredients above for 30 minutes to overnight. Bake tofu on a foil lined, lightly greased, rimed baking sheet at 375 or grilled until firm in texture, turning every 5-10 minutes.  Serve with the salad.
thanks2-300x176

Mint Chocolate No Bake Cookie Bites

I do a lot of reading. For school, for work, for fun, I’ve always liked reading. Sometimes I read a recipe and it bypasses the bookmark function and gets me straight away into the kitchen, particularly when I have all the ingredients on hand and want to eat cookies. I mean really, when I want to eat cookies. I’m a big fan of no bake items particularly those that don’t require chemistry to work and you can kind of “eye-ball” the measurements. When these didn’t come together just as planned with the original recipe I improvised a little with the natural sweetness of maple syrup and a few extra dates. I dare you to eat just one.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 12-16 medjool pitted dates
  • 3 T dark cocoa powder
  • 2-4 T nondairy milk
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp peppermint extract 
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
Dough should just stick together out of the food processor

Dough should just stick together out of the food processor

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A perfect scoop

A perfect scoop

Use a scoop to portion out the dough

Use a scoop to portion out the dough

Roll into balls after you measure out the dough

Roll into balls after you measure out the dough

Nondairy milk, dates and cocoa powder

Nondairy milk, dates and cocoa powder

In a food processor mix the cashews and oats until they are a powdery consistency. Then add the dates, cocoa powder, 2 T milk and peppermint extract and mix until a dough starts to form. If the dough looks dry, add a bit more milk. Roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Set in the fridge to firm up. I got 25 bites out of my batch using a small pampered chef scoop to form the cookie bites.

Adapted from My Whole Food Life

Wanted: Vegan Sandwiches

In a recent poll of the Wonderful residence…we miss sandwiches. Two recipes to fix that situation follow for bread spreads. These taste equally as good on crackers or straight from the bowl around midnight. I mean if you say had a hunger pang in the night.

From Happy Herbivore (pictured):

“Tuna Salad”

  • 15 oz chickpeas (canned or from dry) rinsed and drained
  • 2 celery stalks, washed and diced
  • 1 – 2 T pickle relish or sliced pickles
  • 1 tsp onion flakes or powder
  • 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 T low sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 3 T vegan mayo (I used half and still had great consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp kelp powder (this is the “fishy” salty flavoring)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice 
  • pepper and salt to taste

I deviated  a little from the original instructions provided as I like a specific texture of spread. Mash chickpeas in a large mixing bowl OR pulse 3-4 times in a food processor-do not puree, or make hummus instead, you can’t really go wrong here I guess. Dice celery into bite sized pieces. Chop up pickles into small dice too. Add all ingredients to the large bowl, stir, stir, stir. Add more mayo or kelp as needed to taste.

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“Tuna” Salad

Courtesy of Jon Dunn at VeganGR:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2-3 T Vegenaise
  • 1-2 T sweet pickle relish or pickle chopped
  • salt pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t dulse or kelp granules or other “fishy” seasoning (optional)

Send chickpeas through a couple of pulses in food processor (can be done by hand by the less lazy). Mix blended peas with the Vegenaise, sweet pickle and seasonings. EAT ON ANYTHING.

**note – all of the following ingredients are really to personal taste. Some people like green onion, mustard, or all sorts of other stuff in their tuna salad. Basically, you’re following whatever recipe you would with tuna, but using chickpeas instead.

Roasted Veg Mini Pizzas

Shocked that I might be full after just half of this serving size. I continued to eat of course until I was stuffed of this goodness. Another yummy Happy Herbivore meal plan recipe that will now be a weekly staple at the Wonderful residence: Roasted Veg Mini Pizzas (serves 1)

  • 2 whole-wheat Pita Pockets
  • 1/2 C marinara sauce
  • 1 C zucchini
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 1/2 T nutritional yeast or vegan parm
  • sliced black olives (optional)

Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the top of each pita. Not too much or you will just have soggy bread, icky. Top with squash, tomato and onion. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes (check at 5) until everything is warmed and browning slightly. I placed my pitas directly on the oven rack to get a crispy “crust.” Sprinkle with olives, nutritional yeast, or vegan parm (shown in photos). Don’t forget the Frank’s Red Hot!

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418 calories for 2 pita pizzas, 4.8g fat, 77g carbs, 24g fiber, 20g sugars, 30g protein.

Chana Palak Masala – Easy for YOU to say!

I talked about the Happy Herbivore meal plans a few weeks ago in a post and I will again sing the praises that just $19.00 a month can bring you a little more peace into a crazed life by just telling you what to do and when to do it. I often like it when there is ONE area of life I don’t have to make yet another decision during they day and Lindsay Nixon is my beacon of hope in that regard.

Sometimes I look at a recipe in the meal plan and think, how in the world will that taste good? Fortunately I’m kinda brave and will mostly eat anything, this recipe surprised me at 1) how few calories it has, 2) how filling it is, 3) it really is delicious and 4) you can eat take-out like food at home in under 30 minutes.

Enough of my blabbering, here’s the recipe (2 servings):

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz peeled whole or diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 15 oz chickpeas (canned), drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz frozen baby spinach (fresh okay too)
  • 1 C low sodium veg broth or water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or double it with fresh)
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional, but use it…it makes it better)
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Make magic:

In a large pot, saute’ onions and garlic with a few tablespoons of water, instead of oil. Once the onion is translucent, add spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes with juices and broth. Cover and cook over medium until the spinach cooks down [I used frozen and didn’t drain and it came out fine]. Uncover and break up tomato bits. Add all spices except garam masala, add lemon juice at this point. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 garam masala and cook for 2 more minutes more. Taste, adding additional garam masala if desired plus salt and pepper if needed. Turn heat off and allow to sit for 5 or so minutes. The dish will thicken as it stands. Start to finish, this took me about 30 minutes. I served about 1/4 of this recipe over brown rice.

Per serving: 283 calories, 58g carbs, 3g fat, 10g fiber, 7g sugar, 12g protein

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Food Bloggers Against Hunger: Simplest Chickpea Salad

The very fact that food insecurity exists in America is shameful. Thanks to Vedged Out and other food bloggers for bringing attention to this problem one blog reader at a time. In Grand Rapids you can help fight hunger through Feeding America West Michigan by donating, time, money, or food to help families in West Michigan. View their site to see how your talents best fit their needs.

Faux Cheese Heaven

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I know. Cheese. It’s the only think that separates you from vegan, right?

Well, this will certainly help bridge the gap. Faux nacho cheese.

I’m not a huge fan of nutritional yeast, it sorta weirds me out and it’s super salty, but I put fear aside for the sake of cheese-sperimentation and well, I’m super glad I did. This Happy Herbivore meal plan cheese sauce could make just about anything taste good; however I chose a homemade corn tortilla chip with sea salt to complete my cheese taste test. I doused my chips in black beans, olives, this sauce, onion, and some hot sauce, and it felt so, so dirty and wrong, yet I knew it was so right. Give it a try for yourself. This sauce also reheats nicely and would taste killer on some whole grain macaroni for a quick mac and cheese fix.

Quick Queso (by Happy Herbivore)

  • 1 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 C nutritional yeast
  • 3 T white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp onion powder, granulated
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, granulated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne (I used chipotle)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional, I didn’t need it with a salty chip)

Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Yeah, it’s that easy.

Butternut Black Bean Tacos

I could eat tacos every. single. day. Honestly.

Tacos as we know them in the Wonderful residence, typically are born from whatever is leftover in the fridge, or what can be tossed together before it goes bad in the fridge. I had a few onions that were about to sprout and take over the cupboard, so I used those for the base of these tacos. PS: anything on a tortilla tastes good. Knock yourself out in your own kitchen.

  • 2 C butternut squash mash (pulled from freezer) – okay to use from freezer section at store-cubed is fine too; heck use sweet potatoes if you want
  • 2 C black beans, cooked (pulled from freezer) – okay to use canned
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • corn or flour tortillas, your choice
  • topping [obviously pickled jalapenos, arugula, salsa, and taco sauce]

Saute onions in olive oil until transparent or bronzed. Add smashed or cubed butternut squash and black beans to this mix along with all spices. Warm through. Serve on a tortilla.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friends Jon and Kolene over at VeganGR are always making vegan chocolate chip cookies and slipping them into non-vegan events with great results. By great, I mean no one can detect the damn difference between the vegan chocolate chip cookies and “normal” chocolate chip cookies.

I’m not wild about any butter/margarine substitute, so I took a crack at an Earth Balance free recipe posted on the Post Punk Kitchen instead. I was not disappointed. The texture was a little crazy, but not in a bad way. The tops of these guys were like crackly almost, flaky certainly, but honestly, a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a cruelty free way.

A little bonus: in using canola or veg oil, you don’t have to fight that battle of getting the butter/margarine “room temperature” which ultimately ends up in me making margarine soup in the microwave because I don’t have the patience to zap it slowly and/or I didn’t plan to make cookies at 9am that morning and now it’s officially an emergency at 10pm to get a cookie crammed into my pie hole before I hit the hay. Don’t pretend you have not experienced this same emergency before. It’s a real problem.

Makes two dozen two inch cookies or about 16 three inch cookies

  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1/4 white sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil (it’s a lot, I know…but no other oil is used)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour (I used Arrowroot and still had sound results)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips (vegan)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.

Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stuff so use your hands to really work them in.

PPK directions: For 3 inch cookies, roll the dough into about ping pong ball size balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes – no more than 9 – until they are just a little browned around the edges. I usually get 16 out of these so I do two rounds of eight cookies. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

For 2 dozen two inch cookies roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only six minutes.

I found however, it took a little longer to produce a cookie that was cooked through. Check on them every minute or so to insure you don’t burn ’em until they are to your liking.

Lost an hour? Gain a few back.

Forget about Daylight Savings Time. The Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixon, fellow chickpea lover, has found a way to give you back a few hours of your week. Previously, I would spend a few hours a week, typically either on a Sunday as a diligent planner, or via freaking out when I get home from work worrying about what will go on the grocery list, or what I will cook for dinner, etc. The Happy Herbivore has eliminated the planning, digging, guessing, grocery list making, contemplating out of my weekly food equation with 7-Day meal Plans.

With this service, which is around $20.00 a month, I get a pdf link weekly with a calendar for meals, all the recipes in one place, a premade grocery list, calorie counts for all food consumed, and suggested snack ideas. Each day falls into the 1,200 calorie range so you can add snacks or decrease snacks as needed and the meals are interchangable with other weeks and other meals. She does a pretty good job of recycling ingredients through the week in different ways so you don’t feel like you are always eating say quinoa in the same way. Today for example, we ate quinoa for breakfast in chocolate *pudding* form with blueberries. Even I was skeptical, and I spend most of my waking life thinking about what I am going to next eat. Turns out, taking the thinking portion out of food is what I need during this part of life. I sometimes don’t want to make another decision that day which typically translates into take-out which is not good for my weight OR my checking account.

The Happy Herbivore has cookbooks too of course, so you could pull out a recipe and swap it for another if you so choose. At any rate. I’d be happy to share a week with you if you are scared of the initial investment-just leave me a comment including your email address below and I’ll send it out to you. Just one per person though, I want this service to continue and for that to happen, Lindsay has to be compensated for her time. I’m sure you will find, it’s worth all $18.88 per month to regain a few extra hours a week and a plan after you try.

Curious what Chocolate Espresso Quinoa Pudding is? Try it.

  • 1/4 C quinoa (rinsed)
  • 3/4 C unsweetened chocolate almond milk
  • 1 1/2 T pure maple syrup
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I mixed 1/2 special dark and 1/2 regular)
  • 1/8 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C blueberries (fresh or frozen)

In a saucepan, combine quinoa, chocolate milk and espresso. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer until quinoa is cooked and fluffy, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, and cocoa [I made a quick paste of this before putting into quinoa], plus another splash of chocolate milk. Taste, add more maple syrup if you need it a little sweeter. Top with fresh fruit. Serve warm.

Grand Rapids Magazine Goes Vegan

It’s about damn time. A full feature on the vegan community in Grand Rapids. Cheers to all of my friends that landed within the pages of the spread. Want to know what’s going on in veg eats in West Michigan? Check out the March edition of Grand Rapids Magazine to find out how/where you can embrace a cruelty free lifestyle without traveling too far from your front door.

Vegan Spread

 

 

Oh, check it out!

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Photos courtesy of Jon Dunn/Kolene Allen, VeganGR.

Fast, Cheap, Vegan Red Sauce

I bought this really great loaf of bread of a few days ago when I was in Holland at Pereddies. The rosemary salt loaf has been a guilty pleasure of mine for many years. The inside is just barely cooked through so it’s still a little gooey,  and the outside is crunchy and salty, like a pretzel almost. It’s a perfect food. However, one can’t, no wait, shouldn’t eat just a loaf of bread for dinner, right? It is probably frowned upon. As I am a total slacker in the grocery shopping category right now, I had limited foods in the fridge; however, out of necessity/laziness, a red sauce was born…a little of this…a little of that and you have a pretty tasty red sauce for pasta or just bread dipping…I won’t judge you.

Ingredients:

  • 5 red bell peppers, cut into slices
  • 2 cans, 14.5 oz roasted tomatoes or regular tomatoes
  • 1 jar crack tomatoes from freezer (optional)
  • 1 can, 15 oz tomato sauce (no sugar added please)
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T garlic, minced
  • 1 T Italian seasoning, or fresh herbs
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 medium sized shallots, diced

In a pan with a significant edge (think saute, sauce, or dutch oven), saute the sliced red bell peppers and the shallots until roasted over medium high, nearly caramelized. Add all other ingredients and bring to low boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer and forget about this dish for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and place 1/2 to 3/4 of sauce mix into blender and process until smooth. Return blended sauce to pan, stir to combine. Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, gnocchi, etc. Freeze remaining for up to 6 months.

Garlic OCD

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I might judge you if you don’t cut off the little dry nubs at the end of the garlic cloves before using…so you probably should. I’ve always had this hangup, this thing, this annoyance with garlic. When it comes right off the bulb, the little clove has one delightful and beautiful smooth side and then this incredibly gross, haggard, dry, crackled side that makes me hate it. I cut that piece off every, single, time. You should too-it creeps me out.

 

M.I.A.

So you are probably wondering why I haven’t published in a long time.  I was wondering the same thing and then I realized, I’m human.

I began a PhD program in Public Policy and Administration last fall and somehow managed to make it through without dropping a single ball from the ever increasing load I juggled which included teaching part time, working full time, taking full time classes, doing homework, and oh, yeah…being a wife.  It was then that I realized, I don’t sleep and I don’t exercise-I’m crabby and chubby.  Something had to give.  Turns out it is/was this recipe blog in order to pick up exercise.  I still don’t really sleep.

I still cook a few times a week from scratch, and hit up leftovers on the other nights, but creating new things has not been in my enjoyment wheelhouse for the last few months.  I don’t project it will be in the cards again until the CSA’s start their march into my kitchen in April/May and I can’t ignore them for they perish.

So this note is really to say, I’m sorry for not posting.  I’ll post on occasion through my journey when relevant or new.  But for the most part, I’m living from my freezer [thank goodness I stocked it before school started], archived recipes from this blog, and by my wits end.

I’m heading to the kitchen right now to make rice for the week, Sriracha Tofu for dinner tonight and sandwiches this week, and then to bake off some potatoes for a few quick meals in upcoming days.  If you can’t stand to be without my quick wit, you can catch up with me professionally at 834 Design & Marketing’s blog and wait patiently for The Mode Life to relaunch this spring [that’s a big project of its own and we are seeking writers-hint, hint].  Until then, eat well.

Single-serving desserts are better than single-serving friends

Sorry about the premature post last week-I of course, scheduled this post to be published on January 7, 2012 so it hit a little early.  Here it is for real this time:

I’ve been very interested in the blog of Katie, or “Chocolate Covered Katie” which sounds a little bit more pornographic than it probably should.  Anyway, she is well, sweet…of course she is, and her recipes are pretty unique in that they are basically good for you.  Yeah, I know…dessert that is good for you.  Bonus:  she has done the math for us, so they are in single or double servings for those of us that cannot be trusted to eat an actual serving, you know like one brownie (who in the hell eats one brownie?).

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour (or white, or even peanut flour)
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet (or 1 more tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or veg oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients and mix very, very well. Add liquid, stir, then transfer to a little dish, ramekin, or even a coffee mug. Microwave 45-50 seconds (or more, depending on how powerful your microwave is). If you don’t want to eat it straight out of the dish, be sure to spray your dish first (and then wait for the cake to cool before trying to remove it).

I couldn’t stop there, I had to try most all of them, and I will say this about these little baby desserts…Mr. Wonderful and I ate them all before they were photographed.  All. Of. Them.  So you don’t actually need a visual…just know they lasted about 60 seconds each…also the amount of time it takes to microwave them.  Keep your New Year’s resolution to eat more sensibly or at least, less of the bad stuff with these single-serving desserts.

Cut and pasted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s site

Reeses Pieces Frosting

(Yields almost 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 4-8 tsp pure maple syrup (click for a sugar-free alternative)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp milk of choice (or more for thinner frosting)
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional: handful of chocolate chips (the “pieces”)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake [Our fave of the quick cakes]

Adapted from this recipe.

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp cocoa powder (8g)
  • 3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter (PB2 or Betty Lou’s) (For substitutions, see “nutrition facts” link below) (18g)
  • scant 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xylitol or sugar (omit if you like bitter chocolate cake) (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet or 1 more tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tsp coconut or veg oil, or mashed banana or applesauce (I personally don’t like the fat-free option and recommend the oil, but I’m adding the option because I know many of you don’t mind the taste/texture of the lower-fat version.) (8g)
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice (45g)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients and mix very, very well. Add liquid, stir, then transfer to a little dish, 1-cup ramekin, or even a coffee mug. If using the microwave: cook 1 minute 25 seconds (time may vary, depending on your microwave’s wattage). If you don’t want to eat it straight out of the dish, be sure to spray your dish first (and then wait for the cake to cool before trying to remove it).

One-Minute Mocha Cake

(can be gluten-free!)

Topped with Katie’s favorite Four-Ingredient Ice Cream.

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour (or white, or gluten free mix)
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp evaporated cane juice, or sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stevia packet (or 1 more tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or veg oil (Edit: many commenters have said it still tastes good if you sub applesauce or mashed banana. But I can’t personally vouch for the results if you make that substitution.)
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients and mix very, very well. Add liquid, stir, then transfer to a little dish, ramekin, or even a coffee mug. Microwave 45-50 seconds (or more, depending on how powerful your microwave is). If you don’t want to eat it straight out of the dish, be sure to spray your dish first (and then wait for the cake to cool before trying to remove it).