Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spinach Hummus

So if you know anything about me, then you probably know I like hummus. A lot. About a year ago I made a blog on Tumblr devoted to posting pictures only of hummus (you can check it out here!), and I was shocked how quickly it became popular. It was really nice knowing I'm not the only one with a love for hummus. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make my own very often, since my blender was rubbish and I didn't have a food processor. But now that I have a food processor, you can expect many hummus recipes in the future!  

You should be able to throw all the ingredients in at once and have a perfectly good hummus, but I've learned to use a specific order that seems to make it the smoothest. First, blend the tahini and lemon juice; then add olive oil, water, garlic, and salt and blend; next, add and blend garbanzo beans; and finally, blend in spinach (or roasted red peppers or whatever extra flavor you choose).

Spinach Hummus
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups fresh spinach

In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate before serving. 

Makes about 2 cups

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! I had such a nice day.

On Christmas Eve, after church, we drove through the neighborhood to look at the luminaries. I went on a walk later to take some pictures. My neighborhood is the only one in my town that has luminaries, and it's always been one of my favorite things about this holiday. Ever since I was little, the first thing I'd do when I woke up on Christmas morning was look out the window to see the dim lights of the remaining luminaries (of course, I couldn't do that this year because it snowed overnight, but that's okay because snow is even prettier).

Christmas at my house is always very relaxed. Basically, we get up whenever we feel like it (9:30 this year!), and start the morning off with coffee, cinnamon rolls, and opening stockings. We didn't have stockings this year, since we now have cats who I'm sure would have loved to have pulled them down from the mantel. But we did have what may be the greatest cinnamon rolls! I used this recipe, and really, it was great. There's only a few changes I'd suggest. Don't use nearly as much margarine as it calls for in the filling and the pan sauce, because that's really disgusting and it doesn't need it at all. When you roll out the dough, it's going to be pretty huge (I don't have the measurements), but don't worry that you did something wrong. Roll it up so that's it's long, not short (I can't think of a better way to explain what I'm trying to say…..), and cut it into what looks like mini rolls. They will expand plenty once they rise and bake, and you should be able to get about 14 decent sized rolls from it.  I'd also really recommend baking them in a springform pan, if you have one, because that way you can pop the sides off and drizzle on the icing and have a very nice arrangement.

We got a Christmas present for our cats - a shelf for the window. Needless to say, they spent the entire day there, birdwatching.

After we ate our breakfasts, we spent most of our day sitting in front of the fire, opening presents, and eating snack food. We always keep out tray of crackers and cheese (and Daiya cheese), dips, and veggies, plus a pot of soup with some bread, to snack on all day, and I really like it so much more than planning a huge meal. It's such a relaxing day! We used this recipe for a spinach artichoke dip, and it was way better than I had expected it to be; even my brother (an omnivore) liked it! We also made a potato soup that was pretty fantastic.

I don't normally like to brag about what I got for Christmas, but I am going to mention that with a couple new vegan cookbooks plus a brand new food processor (!!!), you can expect some fabulous recipes in the near future.

Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful holiday, and that 2013 is a great year for you! :-)

Friday, December 21, 2012

(Pretty Much Refined-Sugar-Free) Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

It's almost Christmas! I thought I would be posting loads of cookie recipes, but I really haven't been baking many of my own recipes lately. Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is my most used cookbook, and even though I change the recipes a lot, to reduce the fat and omit the sugar, I have never made a single cookie from that book that I didn't like. It's a beautiful collection and would definitely recommend it!

Anyway, it's almost Christmas! It snowed a couple days ago and thankfully I got to take some pictures of it before the rain came and washed it all away. Tomorrow's supposed to be more rain (and apparently wind gusts up to 50mph?!), but I'm hoping for at least an inch or two of snow by Christmas. Honestly it doesn't feel like Christmas without snow. That is, unless you're eating one of these fantastic peanut butter blossom cookies! Delicious, soft peanut butter cookies with little pieces of love and joy placed directly in the middle. I only allow myself to make these at Christmas, due to them being so darn addictive. 

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (alternatively, you could do 1 cup AP flour plus 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup (or agave nectar or brown rice syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Sugar for coating cookies (you could probably use coconut sugar for a refined sugar-free version if you want but I wouldn't know for sure because I've never used coconut sugar before)
  • Several dozen chocolate candies*

1) Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

3) In a large bowl, mix together margarine, peanut butter, and maple syrup until smooth and completely combined. Stir in flaxseed and vanilla. 

4) Add flour mixture to liquids, and stir until a soft dough is formed. 

5) Shape dough into balls the size of walnuts. Roll cookies in sugar and place on baking sheets.

6) Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each cookie with chocolate candies, pressing down firmly so cookie crack around edge.  Return to oven and bake for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks and let them get some nice rest until they're completely cool and the chocolates have hardened.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

*Traditionally you would use Hershey Kisses, but obviously that's not an option, as they're not vegan. However, if you know of any good brand that sells vegan chocolate in a similar size and/or shape as Kisses, you can definitely use it! If you can't find any premade chocolate, you can make your own! It only takes a few minutes to do. :-) You can use this imitation Hershey Kiss recipe or use my vegan chocolate recipe (except omit the fillings and instead pour all of the chocolate into the entire mold and freeze it only once - rather than painting the sides and freezing and adding fillings and freezing again and everything). I used cute heart-shaped molds because who doesn't want chocolate in the shape of hearts?? I don't have a sugar-free chocolate recipe yet, but I plan to look for one soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Single-Serving Tempeh Bacon + BLT Directions

I know it's not in season or anything, but I've been eating BLTs on a daily basis lately, ever since I figured out how to make this "bacon". It was inspired by the recipe for tempeh bacon in Vegan With a Vengeance,  but I changed it a bit as I'm incredibly impatient person and don't ever want to wait for an hour while my tempeh is marinating. Also I cut it down to a single serving and changed a few ingredients. You can omit the maple syrup if you want, but it does add a nice flavor.

Single-Serving Tempeh Bacon
  • 1.75 oz/50g tempeh (should be about 1/3 of a package), sliced into thin strips (1/4" or thinner)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Bragg's, soy sauce, or tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2-3 drops of liquid smoke (be incredibly careful not to use too much!)

1) In a small bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, Bragg's, garlic, ketchup, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Set aside.

2) Lightly grease a non-stick pan with oil or cooking spray. Place tempeh pieces in pan so they don't touch each other. 

3) Pour the liquid ingredients into the pan and heat over medium heat. When garlic begins to brown, flip tempeh pieces over to cook the other sides. Once both sides of the tempeh are a shade of brown, remove from heat and serve immediately.

Vegan BLT 

I think "recipes" for sandwiches are weird, especially for ones as simple as this. But I've seen BLT recipes in cookbooks before, so I guess recipes for them are commonly accepted. Basically, what you'll want to do, is toast two pieces of bread - I usually do this while my tempeh is cooking because I have what may be the world's slowest toaster. While your toast is toasting and tempeh is cooking, slice a few pieces of tomato, just to be ready. As soon as your toast is finished, apply a light layer of Vegenaise (or vegan mayo of choice, or margarine if you don't have any mayo) on the inside of both pieces. Add tomatoes, tempeh, and a handful of fresh spinach (you can use lettuce too, but I just love spinach). Close sandwich and eat.

Simple enough?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Almond Snowball Cookies ( + seeing Conor Oberst live)

First off, I just need to say that these are in no way sugar-free or low-fat or even just healthy in general - but they're absolutely delicious. I feel like these are one of those cookies that every person already has a recipe for, and every cookie cookbook includes, but in case you happen to be a rare case and don't have a recipe of your own, I'm posting this one. It's supposedly a family recipe, but it's probably just a Betty Crocker recipe that my family first made in the 60s. Either way, they're incredibly good. Nothing says winter quite like these cookies.

Almond Snowball Cookies

  • 1 cup margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup almonds, ground [use a food processor or even a clean coffee grinder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
1) Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Cream margarine in a large bowl until light.  Add powdered sugar, creaming well until mixture is light and fluffy.  Stiff in vanilla. Set aside.

3) In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, and salt. Pour flour mixture into the margarine and stir until completely combined.

4) Shape dough into small balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Pour additional powdered sugar into a small bowl or dish (about 1 cup).

5) Remove cookies from oven and immediately roll in additional powdered sugar, then set aside. Once cookies have cooled, roll in sugar again.

Also, I feel like I just need to add an update since I haven't made a post here in a while. My week was rather uneventful, except for on Thursday when I went with a friend to the Conor Oberst concert in Boston. It was probably the most wonderful concert I've ever been to. Every single song on the setlist was perfect. I saw Conor almost two years ago with Bright Eyes in Portland, Maine, and he was incredible then too (also, I had front row that time and he touched my hand, NO BIG DEAL), but I think I enjoyed it more this time. Periodically throughout the concert, I would realize that I was actually in the same building as Conor Oberst and start crying. He's such a beautiful and talented person, and it's really a life-changing experience to see him live. I can't wait to see him again some day!
Also, just to keep this on topic, Conor is, or at least was at some point, a pescetarian. In case you were wondering. 

(I took this during the encore, when we moved closer. We had a better view during the rest of the show though. It looks like we were really far away, but we were actually pretty close the entire time. Forever regretting not having a phone with a better camera.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Single Serving Waffle

So last summer, my family and I picked about 9,000 pounds of blueberries, which we have kept frozen in order to make jam to send to relatives as Christmas presents. We've never made jam before, so this was a very interesting experience. The first batch never jelled, so I was left with 6 cups of a weird but good-tasting, liquidy blueberry mess. I blended half of it and have been using it as a syrup. It tasted fabulous with a waffle for breakfast this morning! I had a difficult time reducing the full recipe down to one serving, but I managed. It's a little crispier with the oat flour, but still very good.

Single-Serving Waffle
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour or oat flour (I just take gluten-free oats and throw them in the coffee grinder for a few seconds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • dish of cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vegan margarine or coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1) Preheat waffle iron.

2) In a small dish or glass, stir together nondairy milk and lemon juice. Set aside

3) In a small bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. 

4) Add margarine, vanilla, nondairy milk/lemon juice mixture, and flaxseed mixture to dry ingredients. Stir well until combined (this may take a while, especially if you're using coconut oil, which doesn't blend as nicely as margarine).

5) Pour into preheated waffle iron and cook as iron instructs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vegan Assorted Chocolates

This is my first time making chocolates, or even just candies of any sort. Basically, I was just experimenting with different flavors. I filled mine with peanut butter, coconut, brown rice syrup, and raspberry jam; the jam one was definitely my favorite. Candy molds can be found at craft stores and possibly even some grocery stores, and they're very inexpensive. Look for deeper molds if you're going to make filled chocolates. I used two 5 oz trays, which was about 24 pieces. 

This is hardly a "recipe", but I'm labeling it as one anyway.

Vegan Assorted Chocolates
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • fillings of choice (vegan caramel, peanut butter, brown rice syrup, marzipan, jam, coconut mixed with a bit of syrup, melted [or not] vegan marshmallows, etc.)
1) In a double boiler or a microwave, melt together chocolate chips and coconut oil, and stir until combined.

2) Using a paintbrush, coat the bottoms and sides of the molds with a thick layer of the melted chocolate. Put molds in freezer for several minutes, until the chocolate is hard.

3) Remove from the freezer and fill each candy about 3/4 full with whichever fillings you choose. 

4) Gently spoon more chocolate on top of each candy and smooth using your finger or the paintbrush. Return to freezer.

5) Check back in several more minutes and, when the chocolates are solid, remove from freezer, pop out of molds, and eat them all! Or, I mean, save them and share them willingly with friends and family.. Do be sure to keep them refrigerated when they're not being eaten though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lentil Loaf

I have never been able to understand peoples' obsession with "comfort food". When I hear someone referring to comfort food, I automatically think of overcooked, calorie-loaded American food. My dad loves comfort food though, and as I'm trying to win him over to veganism, I'm beginning to cook more meals I know he'll like. Example: vegan meatloaf. This meal was ridiculously good, especially when served with mashed potatoes and a salad. Feel free to top it with as much ketchup or BBQ sauce as you could possibly desire (anything in excess seems to be okay when we're talking about comfort food). I originally found the recipe here, however, I changed a few things.

Lentil Loaf
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups broth or water
  • 1 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce

1) Preheat oven (or toaster oven!) to 350°. Lightly grease a 4 x 8-inch loaf pan.

2) Combine lentils and broth in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes, or until lentils are very soft.

3) Blend cooked lentils in a food processor or blender for several minutes, or until there's pretty much no lumps. If by some terrible circumstance, you don't have a blender or food processor, you can do it manually by using a potato masher - but only do that in a pinch, and be sure to mash them very well. Set aside.

4) Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are soft.

5) In a large boil, combine the onions and garlic mixture with lentils, rice, and other remaining ingredients.

6) Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle a little bit of ketchup or barbecue sauce on top, then bake for another 10 minutes.

7) Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves 6

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Well I'm very happy to say I had a lovely Thanksgiving! I think this was one of the first Thanksgivings I can remember that we didn't spend with friends or family. I do love my extended family, but it was so much more relaxing to spend the day with just my parents and brother, who is visiting from college. It was especially nice to not have several genuinely-worried aunts fussing over me and inquiring about my protein intake. Of course, the whole protein thing happens to almost any vegan anytime their lifestyle is mentioned, no matter who they're with.

I witnessed lots of people on Tumblr and Facebook arguing about veganism today, mostly about turkeys. Basically the main idea of the arguments was that people who eat meat are doing their part to keep the world from this horrible turkey overpopulation. I guess they don't realize that, other than the very few people who only eat animals they hunted themselves, the animals they eat were raised to be killed. If people didn't eat turkeys and there was not such a high demand for turkeys, they would not raise so many turkeys in the first place and thus there would not be an overpopulation of turkeys. But it was also nice seeing so many sweet people standing up for the innocent animals.  

Not so fun fact: Each year over 45 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving alone in the U.S. That's about 34 times the human population in the state of Maine. For added perspective, about 11 million people were killed in the Holocaust. That's a lot of turkeys on a yearly basis (especially considering that  that 45 million is just one day out of the whole year).

Anyway, I need to take a break from talking about the mass murder of turkeys that everyone so proudly supports. I really am much more of the type of vegan who tries to inspire people to try this lifestyle through good food and cute pictures; however, days like Thanksgiving make me so overwhelmingly mad that I just have to rant about how horribly cruel meat is.

For supper, my family ate a fantastic (almost entirely vegan!) meal. I never got around to making a trip to Whole Foods to buy more vital wheat gluten, so we had to use a pre-made Tofurky, but that was fine with me because it was superb. I used this recipe for the cranberry sauce, since it doesn't use refined sugar; I might use less juice next time, as it was rather liquidy (incredibly good dish though). My dad made what may just be the world's best mashed potatoes, using the perfect amount of soy milk, Earth Balance, and French fried onions. My mom made a green bean dish that's a family recipe; we considered veganizing it but it called for too much cheese to really spend too much time working on a replacement, so instead we made a separate serving for me without cheese. I also made maple-glazed carrots, using a couple different recipes as guides. And lastly, for dessert I made the Sweet Potato Brazil Nut Crunch Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, only I used pecans instead of Brazil nuts since my parents hate Brazil nuts; it was topped with a dollop of vegan Rad Whip from the same cookbook (the first time I made it a couple months ago it didn't turn out well at all, but this time it worked perfectly..!). Basically everything was perfect and I honestly don't even want to look at food again for days. 

I need to get some sleep now, so goodnight everyone, and happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a wonderful holiday! :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Homemade Tofurky with Gravy Recipe

I remember when I was really little and my mom would cook Tofurky every Thanksgiving. We hated it, but ate it dutifully, simply because at the time it was the only mainstream substitute for turkey. A couple years later we tried this brand that I can't remember the name of, but it looked like corn on the cob and was so chewy that it was basically impossible to eat (it didn't taste any better either). So we eventually stopped with the faux turkeys altogether. Last year though, we tried Tofurky again, and they must have changed their recipe or something, because it was fabulous. 

However, as I'm trying to cut processed foods out of my diet, I haven't been eating as many soy meats. I have begun to learn to make my own though, using vital wheat gluten. Vital wheat gluten is basically the protein found in flour and can be used just to add protein to breads or to make entire meat substitutes (such as this incredible pepperoni). It's sort of inconvenient though, because my local supermarket doesn't carry it (they used to but not anymore..?), and I have to buy it at Whole Foods Market. Obviously it's not gluten-free-friendly at all, although this product supposedly works as a GF substitute.

For this "turkey", I used this Seitan Roast recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen. I changed a few things: 3oz baby portabella mushrooms instead of 6oz shiitake (it was all I had) and 1 onion + 1 stalk celery instead of the leeks; I also added about 2/3 cup cooked wild rice into the stuffing. And for the roast I used dark kidney beans instead of pinto beans and carraway seeds instead of fennel. I baked it for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (do as Isa suggests and poke the roast with tongs before removing it from the oven to see if it's cooked enough).

I was nervous serving this at dinner, because I honestly had no idea whether it would be good or not. It far exceeded my expectations! My dad (an omnivore) was very impressed and kept commenting on how it was very realistic and had "skin" and everything (honestly I think that's a gross thought but if that's the sort of thing that impresses omnivores...then okay).  I'm really glad this worked out, and I will definitely be making another next week for Thanksgiving!

I sometimes put a chair or stool in the middle of the kitchen so my cats can watch as I cook, but not so closely that they shed their fur in the food or hurt themselves! It's still probably not sanitary at all, but they're so freaking cute that it's either I do that or I hold them while cooking.No matter how fantastic the roast recipe was, it didn't include a recipe for gravy. I found out later that she has a delicious-looking chickpea gravy recipe in the book Vegan With A Vengeance. I'll try it next time! However, for this gravy, I made up my own, and, other than the color being more yellow than I like, it was really pretty good. Do keep in mind that I have been a vegetarian my whole life though and have never eaten actual non-veg gravy.Basic Vegan Gravy
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • dash of black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until gravy is thick.

Waldorf Salad Recipe (I used regular spring mix salad instead of kale)