Archive | July, 2011

Good Morning Flax Muffins

30 Jul

I’ve got three words for this muffin: seriously wholesomely delicious. My mom recently bought me this cereal she is totally in love with: Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Golden Flax cereal. I have to say, it’s one of the most boring cereals I’ve ever had, but in a good way. It’s basically like oatmeal in the sense that you can add anything to it or do anything with it and it will be delicious! I typically like to eat it with fruit, agave, and almond milk, but I couldn’t help but make something else entirely when I had only enough for one bowl of cereal and wanted to spread the goodness out and share it with others. So, I made breakfast muffins.

These are similar to bran muffins, but sweeter, more moist, and more fun. You’ll notice that there’s a good amount of flax seed in these given the cereal content and the ground flax seeds, but just think — all those delicious antioxidants and fiber!  I really like that this muffin encompasses all the great things about a sweet breakfast: cereal, cinnamon, a little sugar, and fruit. Don’t get me wrong, these muffins aren’t overly sweet or overly fruity.  They are just right. And the orange zest stands out in a really subtle, but tangy way. It’s fantastic. You’ll know what I mean when you make them. I’m sure they will go excellently with your morning coffee. I can’t wait to make them again!
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Farfalle with Garlic Cream Sauce

25 Jul

Recently one of my best friends who is working towards veganism (and nearly vegan) asked me to rework one of her favorite restaurant recipes and make it vegan. Obviously, I was happy to help. The recipe she wanted reinvented was The Cheesecake Factory’s “Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic.” I vaguely remember having had this once, but it was a very long time ago. Instead of looking up what was in the restaurant’s dish, I focused my recipe on her description of what the dish was and what she wanted it to be, and came up with this. From what I can see, it is different from the restaurant version, but just as good, no — better because it’s vegan. I didn’t use any grain meat to substitute for the chicken because I was working with this as if I the restaurant version was already vegan except for the chicken so, I just left it out. I figured my friend, Jessie, orders it without chicken anyway. In retrospect, I’m betting Gardein would be a fantastic addition to this, but it’s already a very complete meal without it so you don’t really need it!

The sauce in this recipe is reminiscent of a very garlicky alfredo, but it isn’t pasty and thick like the terrible kinds you find jarred in grocery store shelves. I didn’t roast the garlic because I wanted this to be a quicker fix kind of meal provided that you’ve already got the cashew cream that is used as the base for the sauce, made. This is a dish you can make, when like my friend, you come home from work tired and want something filling, easy, and yet not the typical weekday dinner to feed your family. So I guess that it’s another good thing that this dish is pretty straightforward, can be made it in 30 minutes, and is every bit as good as the picture suggests!

To Jessie — It was a year ago (almost to the day) that you asked me to chronicle what it is I eat regularly. I started this blog mostly to help you get there. Until I can get to Texas and cook for you, I hope this helps! Stay vegan, girl. If I can do it, so can you!

To everyone else — Enjoy!
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Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

19 Jul

Keep the cows happy: Serve with a nice tall glass of almond milk!

Peanut butter, bananas, chocolate. What’s not to love?! For a long time, I’ve feared that I simply couldn’t make an “uncomplicated” cookie. But here I am, proving myself wrong. This cookie recipe is so simple and all you need is one bowl! Chances are you already have all the ingredients at home — but you might need to run out to the store for some vegan chocolate which can be easily found at Whole Foods or most supermarkets. As usual, if a certain brand is “accidentally” vegan, please make sure that if the ingredients list sugar that it is organic or beet sugar as these are inherently vegan and not processed with bones. This is really simple stuff, folks. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise — bone processed sugar is insanely easy to affordably avoid.

Another plus about these super simple cookies is that they are flourless. That’s right. No flour. You know what that means? They’re gluten free — as long as you use gluten free vegan chocolate chips, of course! These  gluten free ones are easy to find in most supermarkets. These cookies are also delicious and hard to resist! I recently made a batch to take on a hiking trip and boy were they a welcome treat at the top of the mountain! If I hadn’t added chocolate, I could have shared them with the dogs who seemed very eager to give me their expert opinions. But they settled for their very own vegan treats (see picture below)!

I highly recommend trying these out if you love peanut butter. Or, you know, cookies in general. Don’t fret about using light brown sugar (they’ll just come out a little lighter in color) or smooth peanut butter — they’ll still be super tasty! If you are using natural peanut butter — the kind that separates from the oil — make sure that you mix it very well before adding it. You don’t want to add a lot of the extra oil to the cookies or they will flatten out quite a bit! Enjoy!
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Baked Lemon Herb Tofu

15 Jul

Here’s a recipe inspired by my nearly vegan friend’s inquiry about it being possible to marinade tofu. Yes, you can marinade tofu. The result is wonderful! Tofu, like tempeh, is a blank canvas which you can basically use to exploit any flavor you want. The longer you marinade tofu, the better it will take up the flavor of your marinade and the stronger that flavor will be. I marinaded these tofu “steaks” overnight, but a few hours will also do the trick. I served these with a mixture of brown rice spinach spaghetti and whole wheat spaghetti tossed with my Mint Basil Pesto and some blanched asparagus. It was delicious and very summer-y. In fact, one of the reasons I’m typing this up now and sharing it with you is because I’ve been asked for the recipe. I bet this would also go well with roasted or mashed potatoes, or even on a nice summer salad. However you eat it, I hope you like it! Continue reading

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

12 Jul

Canada Day may have come and gone, but it still lives on in my heart…and stomach. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that I made Nanaimo bars a few weeks ago for a Canada Day celebration. Well, at this shindig, I found out that one of my very favorite Canadian persons, Peter, like-likes Nanaimo bars. It just so happens that I like-like Peter so, of course this news was exciting. It also “just so happens” that the past few Saturday nights have become dinner date nights and, since both Peter and I are vegan and like to cook, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to try and impress each other food-wise. I don’t know how or why I ended up being the baker, all I know is that it’s quite the challenge. So, with the new information that Peter really, really likes Nanaimo bars, I started scheming and decided to make him a Nanaimo bar cheesecake. Sometimes, I can be a sweetheart, I guess.

This recipe is a bit time consuming — I’m just going to put that out there, nice and honestly. If you want to make something quick for dessert, make Nanaimo bars or cookies. But this is also delicious and pretty. So, really, you get a lot out of it. And, you get to show off a vegan cheesecake. That’s bound to drop some jaws. You will have to make the cashew cream for this. Cashew cream is very easy to make and can be used in many recipes, but it requires soaking cashews for several hours or overnight. Like I said, this recipe is involved. But it’s worth it, trust me. I also really recommend using Mori-Nu Firm Silken Tofu if you can find it at a natural foods store or in an Asian market. It really does wonders for consistency. If you can’t, any other brand is fine as long as it’s silken tofu. Other brands may not be as firm and may have a higher water content. This will just mean that you may have to bake it longer and that the consistency will lean more towards a custard type of cake. It will still be very good (and likely, smoother) so don’t worry.

According to Peter, a true Canadian, what makes Nanaimo bars what they are — which is indulgently delicious — is the middle vanilla layer. So, you want this to be very vanilla-y. I do recommend using a vanilla bean, as directed below, but they can be kind of expensive so, if you can’t afford it, just use as much extract as you need to to make up for it. What I really like about Nanaimo bars is the coconut-chocolate crust. Please, use Newman O’s or any other “Oreo” type cookie that is explicitly vegan and unsweetened coconut flakes as these don’t contain refined sugar. If you really like coconut, you can even add an 1/8 of a teaspoon of coconut extract to the crust. I bet it would be delicious!

Whatever happens, indulge, enjoy, and keep eating until it’s all gone! Vive le Canada!

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Basic Cashew Cream for Soups and Sauces

12 Jul

If it wasn’t already obvious with the gazillion types of nut milks and dairy-like products on the market today, nuts are pretty much a vegan’s answer to non-dairy living. Cashews, like almonds, are particularly wonderful because they are mild in flavor thus, allowing them to be practical for so many uses. The raw food movement has known this for a long time. If you’ve ever had cashew cheese, cashew cheesecake, or cashew based ice cream you also know just how many outrageously delicious things this little nut can do. So here’s a basic recipe for an ingredient I will be using quite a lot of soon. If you have a recipe in mind that requires “heavy cream” this is all you’ll need. Continue reading

Vegan Scallion-Pepperjack “Cheese” Corn Muffins

9 Jul

Corn muffins. Delicious, delicious corn muffins. I love corn muffins. Especially when they’re cake-y and not crumbly and dry. These corn muffins have a soft, almost cake-like texture and they are subtly sweet with just the perfect hint of that savory taste that’s reminiscent of breakfast. I’ve seen similar versions made with bacon and I was going to incorporate tempeh bacon into the mix, but it’s really not necessary. This was just enough. If you like butter and jam on your toast, you’ll probably like these. All I know is that I made six, and I ate three in one sitting and three later that day. I feel no shame. No shame.

Although I’m not super impressed with how the sprinkled cheese looks on top (because if you don’t cover Daiya in the oven it doesn’t get all gooey) they still taste fabulous and the flax seeds give it a nice speckled look! If you want, you can make an aluminum foil tent to cover them while they’re in the oven and see if that works to make the cheese all gooey-like on top, or you can simple put all the cheese in the muffin. Again, it doesn’t matter, these are so delicious no matter what you do! Serve these up with your next batch of tofu scramble or chili, or just whip ‘em up for your next on-the-go breakfast — I like mine with a little Earth Balance Butter. Either way, I’m sure they’ll put a smile on your face. This recipe is a standard corn muffin recipe, feel free to improvise with different flavors!  Continue reading

Mint Basil Pesto

6 Jul

I love summer. I mostly love non-humid summers, but I’ll take this New England heat, if I must, for now. My favorite thing about summer is the extended daylight, but coming in at a close second is the near daily opportunity to go to a farmer’s market. I absolutely adore farmer’s markets. Big ones, little ones — anywhere where there are farmers with fresh fruits, vegetables, or vegan baked goods — that’s where I want to be.

My first visit to a farmer’s market was last year in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better initiation to farmer’s markets than the lively and vibrant Portland Farmer’s Market at Portland State University (Saturdays 8:30 to 2!). It was like being in an amusement park. Ok, not really, but I was overwhelmed with excitement and I hadn’t even started cooking for myself yet. I think this is where the revolution began. To be fair, it truly began in California where, as a new vegan and Animal Care Intern at Farm Sanctuary, I had to learn how to feed myself. But the farmer’s market was like a different sort of Eden to me. So many colors, so many smells, so many authentic “Portlanders” (if you know what I mean)! In any case, I could have spent hours there just looking at the plethora of colorful earthly goods, but I gathered my necessities, a bottle of pear cider, and went home.

Well, let me tell you, the farmer’s market I went to last week was no PSU, but it was still — a farmer’s market. And like a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t help myself. I had to have a little of everything. This recipe is something that came of it. As soon as I smelled that fresh basil and mint, I knew something had to be done. Something had to be done and it had to be simple, fresh, delicious, and versatile. Besides, I’ve been wanting to get into canning and preserving for quite some time. I didn’t properly “can” this recipe because I knew I’d be using it all fairly quickly, but if you want to preserve a little bit of the gifts of the summer sun for later on this year, I suggest that you do. It’ll probably last longer than your tan. Continue reading

Tomato, Tofu & Basil Finger Sandwiches

6 Jul

I started looking through my fridge for little things to use up before they spoiled. This is what I found: half a tomato, leftover raw tofu, and Vegenaise. I only had just enough to make something small so, I decided to make some cute open faced sandwiches. I didn’t measure out the amounts — this is just too simple a recipe for that. Besides, you can make as few as 2 or as many as you want depending on your need. I used a biscuit cutter to cut the bread into rounds, but if you want, you can create fun shapes with a cookie cutter or a knife or even by pressing hard with a cup. If your tomato is bigger than the bread, you can also use the biscuit cutter to cut the tomato to just the right size or dice it into small pieces and place it on top for a different look. These little guys resemble fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil antipasto and are pretty “fresh” tasting and light — perfect for an appetizer to that summer dinner party on the patio or just as a light snack in the middle of your day.  Continue reading

Nanaimo Bars

3 Jul

On July 1st, 1867 the three British Colonies to the north of the United States (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada) united to form the country we all now know and love called, Canada. On July 1st of every year, the anniversary of Canada’s birth is celebrated all over Canada in a similar fashion to how the United States celebrates their Independence from the British: food, fireworks, parades and sensational nationalism. This day, formerly known as “Dominion Day,” is now simply called, “Canada Day” or, if you’re French Canadian, “Fête du Canada.” Whatever you call it, it’s an excuse to throw a party, eat, drink, and generally be merry — even if, like me, you aren’t the tiniest bit Canadian.

Canadians are great at many, many things. Don’t ask me what those things are, though because I haven’t the slightest clue — I’m American. I’m a New Englander. We are basically raised to think that English speaking Canada isn’t really a “big deal.” But here’s what I do know about Canada: they are better at providing healthcare for their citizens, many great bands are from there, they are good at hockey even though they lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins this year. Most relatedly though, their cuisine is somewhat of a hodgepodge of the beauty of French cuisine, the drabby goodness of English cuisine, and the “whateverness” of American cuisine.

Over the past few months I have been fortunate enough to befriend some real live Canadians. Well, I mean, as “real” as one can be when they’re from Niagara Falls, which is practically upstate New York. I’m just being cheeky. Jokes about their hometowns and funny accents aside (they actually really do pronounce things properly – PS: that’s a word they seem to like to say a lot), these Canadians are pretty great and proper folks. And lucky for me, they’re all vegan! So, when I was invited to a small, impromptu gathering centered around celebrating this wonderful country’s birth with authentic persons, I gladly accepted. And I agreed to do something pretty scary — feed Canadians something Canadian. I thought, “Well as long as I center the dish around sugar, nothing can go wrong.” And so that’s what I did. I baked, rather — un-baked, because Nanaimo bars, one of Canada’s most famous desserts, don’t require baking.

I’m not sure I can tell you very much about Nanaimo bars other than that they are easy to make, fun to make, fun to eat, deliciously messy (see photos) and very hard to resist. Basically, they’re a three layer bar of glorious unapologetic indulgence. The bottom layer is a chocolate, cookie, coconut, and nut base, the middle is a layer of sweet vanilla pudding, the top is just all-out chocolate. Yeah, it’s like celebrating Canada Day in your mouth. The best part is, you don’t even have to be skilled at Canadian cuisine to make them or enjoy them and it doesn’t have to be Canada Day! I can’t really testify to much else about how amazing these bars are so, you’ll just have to make them and see for yourself! I can say this though: there were six of us and less than half were left after 5 minutes. You do the math.

Because vegan graham crackers are hard to find, I used vanilla snaps that happened to be vegan. You could use ginger snaps, but the flavor might be a bit too overpowering. I adapted this recipe from the Joy of Baking website. There is a helpful video there that walks you through the process (pronounced “PRO-cess” if you’re Canadian). Don’t be misled that this is “hard to make” because there’s a video. It’s quite the opposite. Happy un-baking! And an extended Happy Canada Day to all!

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