Archive for September, 2010

Cheating…

They look delicious for being cheater cupcakes

I cheated with these. They came from a box. A box of Duncan Hines vanilla cake mix to be exact (surprisingly vegan!). And they were every bit of delicious as they would have been had I made them by scratch. I substituted cornstarch and water for the egg it called for, and instead of oil used applesauce, simply to make the cupcakes more healthy. As it turned out, it also added a wonderful hint of apple-ly taste to the cupcakes as well. They were beyond delicious, and incredibly light and fluffy.

The frosting – also not homemade sadly. I used Duncan Hines chocolate frosting (I love you DH), because a simple vanilla cake and chocolate frosting go so perfectly together. I actually ended up bringing these to party and everyone loved them! They got tons of compliments, which was great. If I ever needed to cheat at cupcakes again, I would totally turn to these.

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Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

If fall had a smell, it would be these cookies

The weather turning colder, particularly the nights, really put me in the mood to make a batch of oatmeal cookies. The smell of them always fills the house, and baking helps to make it just slightly bit warmer at night. I threw in some dried cranberries because they were laying around the pantry, and they seemed to embrace the fall spirit better than raisins, at least in my opinion.

Here’s the recipe I concocted (after one batch that turned out too dry!):

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 (or more) tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 -2 tbsp (Depending on consistency) soy milk or water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

First, preheat your oven to 350. Then mix your dry ingredients together thoroughly, and then your wet ingredients. Combine those and mix well, and then gently fold in the cranberries (if you want the cranberries to plump up a little before, soak them in a cup of warm water for about 5 minutes). Roll into inch size balls and place on your silpat (which I love!) or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges just barely start to turn golden brown.

This will make about a dozen or so cookies, depending on how large you make them. These cookies turn out incredibly plump and soft, which is exactly how I like them. They could be the tiniest bit more chewy, but that is easily remedied. My sister tried them and like them as well, which I consider a success. The are just the right amount of sweet, and the cranberries add a nice burst of flavor to the cookie. In reality, they aren’t too bad for you either. I tried to cut down on the sugar and oil, and obviously there is no butter in here either. I would make these again in a second, and I considered it, only to find out I was out of cranberries…

Simple and Sweet French toast #6!

Mmmmm!

Yep, that’s right. More breakfast food. This time around I made the Simple and Sweet French Toast from My Sweet Vegan. I have tried a handful of different vegan french toast recipes out that I stumbled across on the internet, but none of them had really turned out well. The bread would always become too soggy or would ultimately stick to the pan and cause a big mess, or the nice crunchy part would come off while flipping, leaving a pretty sad looking piece of french toast. So with a shred of optimism,  I tried this one out. French toast was something I used to make all the time before being vegan – I really wanted to find a good, solid recipe I could turn to whenever the craving hit.

Overall, I was satisfied with this recipe. I added slightly less sugar because I wasn’t in the mood for eating super sweet french toast – I just didn’t think it would come close to tasting like the real thing. For the most part, the bread did become nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but I did run into the problem again where the bread would resist flipping and soggy parts would remain. In the end I had to cook each side a little longer than recommended to get the pan-fried crispiness back. Perhaps next time I need to toast the bread a little longer before hand, or wait for the bread to become slightly stale. More oil on the pan may have helped as well I suppose. They did, however, taste delicious when all was said and done. I would make them again but there are still other french toast recipes I want to try out first before claiming this recipe as ‘the one.’

Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh

I love tempeh. I know I said it before, but I really wish it was used more. When I found this recipe for Orange pan-glazed tempeh I was excited – I had all the ingredients, and the recipe called for orange juice and maple syrup, which are two of my favorite things, especially together.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • roughly 10 ounces of tempeh (or extra-firm tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lime (I used the lime juice equivalent)
  • a handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 carrots, diced

First, combine the orange juice and grated ginger into a bowl. The original recipe said to squeeze the juices from the ginger and discard the pulp, but I threw it all in because I really like the taste of ginger. To this, add the soy sauce, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Mix it all together and set it aside for now.

I crumbled the tempeh up rather than cutting it into neat little triangles, and placed it into the pan with the olive oil, frying it until it turned golden brown, for approximately 12 minutes. Then, pour the glaze over the pan and let it simmer for 10 minutes, letting the sauce thicken.

I served the tempeh with some sauteed carrots and green peppers, because carrots always go well with orange juice and maple syrup.

It was delicious! I swear, orange juice and maple syrup were made for each other. I’m really happy I added carrots to the mix because I think the went really well with the glaze. This was a perfect dish on its own, but I could also see serving it with rice or quinoa also!

Cookies and Creme Pound Cake – #5!

I again ventured out of the breakfast section of My Sweet Vegan. This was because Wegmans’ O’s (aka Oreos) were on sale, and this recipe called for a bunch of them. As if I ever need any excuse to eat any more of these cookies, especially if they are baked into and sitting on top of a cake.

I really enjoyed this cake!  It didn’t last long, so I know other people in the house liked it as well. I ate A LOT of it though. It definitely had the right texture and consistency of pound cake, and was sweet without being overly sugary. The cake baked really well and was simple to make. It’s always fun to crush a bunch of cookies too. There are only two things I would change if I made it again, one would be the icing – I would thicken it up or not add it at all. Honestly, the cake was good enough with out.  Second, I would try to ind a way to not get the cookies that are supposed to be placed on top to not sink into the cake while baking (I’m not going to lie though, cutting into the cake and finding a whole cookie was not a bad thing), either by being more gentle with them in the beginning, or placing them on the cake prior to or just after removing from the oven. Either way, this was delicious!

Curry and Cajun Fries

When first flipping through Vegan with a Vengeance after it came in the mail, the recipe for Chickpea Spinach Curry really stood out. I love curry (and curry powder, for that matter). There are very few dishes that can pack a powerful punch with spices, fill you up and warm your insides. Plus, look at this dish, it is gorgeous! I also love spinach and chickpeas, so this clearly was a match made in heaven.

More flavorful than you can imagine

Making the curry was fairly simply and quick. The boyfriend and I followed the recipe, except for the fact that we threw in some beets and string beans from our farm share. It turns out that they worked really well with the curry (the beets, however, could have been cooked a little longer before hand so they may have been softer). The best part of cooking this recipe was watching/listening to the mustard seeds pop while in the oil. I never knew they did that – and they smelled similar to popcorn too.

The curry itself was great! Having a tomato base rather than a traditional coconut milk base worked really well and made the curry less dense (and less in fat and calories too, if you worry about such a thing). I actually liked having chunks of tomatoes in my curry, this could be because I really love tomatoes though. It had that distinct curry taste and the chickpeas, spinach and beans were just the right amount of soft and filling. The only negative comment I have about the recipe is that it seemed like there was too much coriander in it. Next time I would put slightly less in as so that it is less over powering.

Leftovers spiced up with some french fries

For dinner the following day I had another bowl of the left over curry (it made a lot!), along with the Cajun baked french fries from Vegan with a Vengeance. They are great! I added a little too much oil by accident (I was surprised at how fast it came out, oops!) but other than that they were fantastic. They seems like a strange combination with the curry, but trust me, it really worked out, particularly given their crunchiness.  I loved the seasoning on them and how they crisped up in the oven – I like my fries well done and crunchy. I don’t understand why anyone would want McDonald’s fried when you could just have these.

CSA – A wonderful thing

Rather than posting something I cooked or baked today, I wanted to write a little bit on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and the farm share that my boyfriend purchased for the household. First of all, it must be immediately said – it is a wonderful thing! It provides us with fresh vegetables every week (in our case, on Saturdays) and forces to cook and eat vegetables that we normally may not buy or eat, which is also a good thing. Before having the farm share I had never cooked or ate kohlrabi, and now I love it.

More CSA veggies!

There are so many reasons, other than the one previously mentioned, why CSA is awesome. Over all, for the amount of fresh vegetables we are getting, we really are saving money, as everyone knows that vegetables can be quite expensive, while the junk-sugar-high-fructose-corn-syrup-who-knows-what foods are the cheapest. You pay a fee at the beginning of the season (ours was summer/fall), and get an overflowing bag of vegetables every week delivered to a specific location (or sometimes you may have to drive out to the farm). We joined when the season had already started, and received a bit of a discount as well. While we do not know exactly what we will be receiving each week until the day of due to differences in weather, crop yield, harvesting, etc, we do know ahead of time what we will be receiving per month. Right now, I am very excited for the upcoming pumpkins!

Sauteeing squah - there was so much of it at one point

It is a good way to keep you more in touch with you food. You know exactly where your food is coming from – in our case, Porter Farms, and also helps support local farmers, businesses, and families. Your food is traveling less distance to get to you, and the veggies often times seem more fresh than anything you will ever buy in the store. The kale we get is always fresher than anything in the store, and two weeks ago we received the most beautiful head of Romaine lettuce I had ever laid eyes on.

Farm share vegetable and vinegarette - a simple but great snack

In short, I love our farm share and would highly recommend supporting CSA!

Seitan and summer squashes - making use of the plethora of zucchini!

A great start

I cannot help but find cereal one of the most boring ways to start the day. It just seems too cold and impersonal. I never feel energized or ready to conquer the day after eating a bowl – usually just still hungry and unmoved (the only exception being Wegman’s Maple Pecan cereal – that stuff is great). A whole grain bagel with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and a baked apple? Yes, please!

Delicious!

The bagel is a Thomas’ hearty grain 100% whole wheat bagel (because white bread is gross). They are extremely delicious, have 10 grams of protein, and are mildly sweet. There’s also no high fructose corn syrup in them, which I love. I have been making a conscious effort to try and avoid foods which contain it. The baked apple however, is the star of breakfast. The Lexington Coop having AMAZING Crispin apples made it the perfect time to make this.

Baked Apple Breakfast:

  • 1 medium – large Crispin apple
  • 1 1/2 tbsp frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 4-5 dried banana chips
  • brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Then, remove the apple core and hollow the inside of the apple out, leaving around 1/2 inch from the bottom (I ate some of the tasty insides…).  I did it by hand, without a corer, and it can be done! Mix the frozen blueberries with the rolled oats, and then add the banana chips. Coat this mixture with cinnamon, and place inside the hollow apple.  Once the apple is on/in the baking pan, pour your maple syrup over it. If you wish, add a very shallow layer of water to the pan, and this way when juices escape from the apple, you can pour the tasty water over it once it is done cooking in the oven, which should take around 30-40 minutes. Of course, if you are so inclined and do not have hatred for microwaves, these can be placed in a covered bowl and zapped for about 3 to 5 minutes.

The baked apple was so delicious! The rolled oats were somewhat nontraditional, but added a nice chew to the apple. The lack of butter and sugar make it a better breakfast choice than sugar-laden cereals or prepackaged oatmeal. The banana chips softened a lot from both the maple syrup and the moisture from the frozen blueberries, adding yet another level of flavor to the apple. I think the blueberries, banana and apple went together extremely well. The bottom of the apple was so soft and coated in the fruit juice and maple syrup, how could you not love it?

Black-Bottom Blondies #4

I actually ventured outside of the breakfast section of My Sweet Vegan! Trust me – I’m surprised too. It was to further my search for the perfect brownie, so it makes sense. The picture of these black-bottom blondies in the book is mouth-watering, so I knew I was going to make them sooner rather than later.

First of all, that were fairly simple to make, which I can really appreciate.  I could tell when I was mixing up the chocolate part of the batter that they were going to be really dense and fudge-y, and I got excited. The batter was relatively thick and already tasted great. Other than looking great, they tasted good too! Particularly the bottom chocolate part. The texture was spot on- exactly what I am looking for from a brownie. My only criticism is that the blonde part of the brownie was somewhat bland and lacking flavor. It wasn’t bad, it was just unexciting and kind of a letdown.  Regardless of this, I would make a full batch of just the bottom part again, because it was delicious and fulfilled my demanding requests from a brownie. I will let you all know when I attempt that!

The first of many pancake entries

good morning!

I woke up one Wednesday morning and didn’t have work until noon, giving me the perfect amount of time to throw together a batch of pancakes, especially since I know they will keep my full (usually) all the way through my shift. I was looking to make relatively healthy ones as well, rather than just a pile of carbohydrate, white flour, no-nutrition pancakes. I admit, when I am looking for something super quick and easy, I will pull out a box of Bisquick, mix in some soy milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice, and cook myself up some pancakes. Knowing I had a large bag of whole wheat flour on hand, as well as a handful of frozen blueberries, I knew I could make something tasty.

I found this recipe, tailored it slightly, and made my own:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 1  cup almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • handful of frozen blueberries

I didn’t want to discolor the pancakes, so i didn’t add the blueberries until the pancake mix was already on the griddle. They turned out to be delicious! They were very hearty and filling, more so than non-whole wheat pancakes in my opinion. They were only slightly more chewy and a little more dense, but I thought that made them into really good pancakes. I even ate half of them without maple syrup – the cinnamon, lemon juice and blueberries made it flavorful enough without it.

The leftover pancakes I did what I normally do – saved them for when I got out of work and then made peanut butter and jelly pancake-wiches with them. Never underestimate how awesome that is!

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