Monday, September 29, 2014

S'mores


As the cooler weather sets in, I am so glad we made the decision to transform our non-producing berry garden into a fire-pit!  We rearranged the blocks into a more fire-safe area in our yard, and have had many nights with a warm fire, and roasted vegan marshmallows since.  It is everything I like about camping - the cool air combined with the fire, the food, and spending time with my family.  When it starts to rain, we enjoy going back into our cozy home and sleeping in our dry comfortable beds.  No offense to those hard-core campers out there.  :-)



To make vegan s'mores  at our house, we use Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (which my kids and I agree are better tasting than traditional marshmallows).  We found these at our local Harmons grocery store (in Utah) or Whole Foods Market (slightly more expensive than Harmons).  You can use any vegan chocolate you like.  My favorite for s'mores is the Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa squares.  They are dark, but not too bitter (my kids love them).  You take a freshly toasted marshmallow, a square of chocolate, and sandwich them between 2 squares of original (not honey) graham crackers.  Keebler brand 'original' are vegan.  Mmmmm..... such a wonderful autumn treat!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tomato Basil Pasta



This is an easy dinner that I often throw together on those long days where I don't really feel like cooking.  This is my vegan 'box of macaroni and cheese' type meal.  Very little work, the whole family likes it, and it is ready in about 15 minutes from start to finish.  It is a one-pot meal, where you throw everything together and it cooks the pasta and makes the sauce at the same time.  You can easily add additional vegetables or mushrooms to the dish if you would like.  Cheap, easy, and vegan!  :-)

I use a can of diced tomatoes and dried herbs from my cupboard, but if you have fresh tomatoes and herbs, feel free to use them.  It would probably make it even better.  The standard conversion rate for herbs is 3 teaspoons of fresh = 1 teaspoon of dried.



Ingredients:
12-14 ounces pasta (just about any kind will work)
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes with liquid (or ~2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes)
1/2 an onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced if you don't have a garlic press)
1/8 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves (or 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano leaves)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh chopped basil leaves)
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I use 4 1/2 cups water plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons of 'Better Than Bouillon')
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Vegan Parmesan cheese and/or nutritional yeast for topping (optional) - My favorite is from Cali's

Directions:
Combine everything in a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.  Then remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.  Stir together so the sauce in the bottom evenly distributes through the pasta before serving.  Top with a bit of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese if desired.


This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found floating around on Facebook.  I'm not exactly sure where the original came from, but it may have come from 'Donna' at http://www.apronstringsblog.com/.  That original recipe can be found here.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Peach Cobbler


The inspiration for this recipe came from an old neighborhood cookbook my mom bought for me when I was just a young kid.  I've tweaked and adjusted it over the years to become my own.  It is a great way to use peaches, berries, or any kind of fruit.  It works with fresh, canned, bottled, or frozen fruit.  You can even use a can of pie filling.  Your home will smell wonderful and you'll be eating a mouth-watering cobbler in only an hour, start to finish. 

Here's a tip if you have a lot of peaches to peel:  Boil pot of water and place ripe peaches into the water for 30 seconds.  Remove peaches and place into cold water.  The peels will slip right off.  I recently did this with a large number of peaches and it was so easy.  Afterwards, I made this cobbler, and then froze the rest for later.




Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, cut up peaches
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon nutmeg


Directions:
1.  Place the margarine in the center of an 8x8 baking pan.  Put this in the oven to melt while your even heats to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, soy milk and vanilla, making a batter.
3.  Place the peaches in a separate bowl.  If using canned or bottle fruit, drain them before placing in the bowl.  Sprinkle the peaches with 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and the nutmeg.
4.  Once the oven has heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the margarine has melted, remove the pan.  Pour the batter into the pan and then spoon the peaches evenly over the batter.  Resist the temptation to mix the batter and peaches together.  In other words - DO NOT STIR!
5.  Place the pan back into the oven and cook for approximately 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

I recently discovered soy chorizo.  I found this product in a local grocery store, for only about $1 per a 10oz tube (inexpensive!).
    Soy chorizo has the texture of ground beef in a sauce with the perfect amount of spicy flavor.  I've heard of others using it as a marinade, and for vegan "Sloppy Jos├ęs."
I bought 2 tubes and cooked up one with some onions, garlic and cilantro for a tortilla chip topping.  The other, I made into this delicious stew.  Once I had the ingredients, I was able to throw everything together and cook it on my lunch break.  It is a bit salty, sweet, and spicy - and very satisfying.  This is a recipe that you can serve and nobody will guess it's vegan unless you make a point to tell them.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
10 oz (1 tube if using Calcique brand) soy chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
~1 pound sweet potatoes (2 small or 1 large), peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 cups water
2 (16 oz) cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 and 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook the chorizo about 3 minutes.
2.  Add the onion and cook for ~4 minutes (until tender), then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3.  Add the potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, and water.  Bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes (until potatoes are tender).
5.  Add the beans, mango, cilantro and salt and cook until heated through.

This recipe was adapted from a recipe by CRVGRL at allrecipes.com.  Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake with "Buttercream" Icing

For my family, August is the month of multiple birthdays. So, I've made 6 batches of this recipe during the past month, for birthday party cupcakes, and birthday cakes.  I love that this recipe does not require an egg-substitute.  Instead, balsamic vinegar and baking soda make the cake (or cupcake) light, fluffy, and delectable.  I also love that it is chocolaty, because I LOVE chocolate, and chocolate is vegan!

The icing is yummy as well.  I like to make my icing a bit thick, so that it holds its shape for decorating.  If you find that the frosting is too thin, you can always add more powdered sugar.  If it is too thick, add a tiny amount of soy milk until it is just right.

Combined together, this cake and icing make for the perfect birthday treat.  I hope you and your family enjoy them too.

(While preparing to write up the recipes for this blog, I learned that a dash is 1/8 of a teaspoon, a pinch is 1/16 teaspoon, and a smidgen is 1/32 of a teaspoon.  Good to know)

Cake Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash cinnamon (~1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 smidgen ground cayenne pepper (~1/32 of a teaspoon, or 1/4 of 1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cayenne) into a mixing bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (water, oil, vinegar, vanilla)
4.  Pour the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth (not too much).
5.  For cupcakes - fill baking cups 3/4 of the way full and bake ~15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (makes 15 cupcakes).  For cake - grease a pan with vegan margarine or line with parchment paper and bake ~35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (makes a round 7.5" diameter and 1.75" high cake).  Times may vary depending on cake pan/size.

















Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened but not melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1.  Wait until cupcakes or cake have completely cooled.
2.  Combine the margarine and 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Use a fork to mash/mix the margarine into the sugar, until it becomes frosting.
3.  Stir the vanilla into the frosting.
4.  Slowly mix the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into the frosting.
5.  Frost the cake or cupcakes immediately after mixing.


The cake recipe was adapted from a recipe by 'Sue' at allrecipes.com.  Original recipe can be found here.