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)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins (Refined Sugar-Free)

So this morning - a Saturday - I woke up early without meaning to, and randomly had too much energy to fall back asleep. And this is weird because 1) I don't wake up early on Saturdays and 2) I don't have energy when I wake up early on Saturdays. But I thought I'd make the most of my time, so I baked these muffins, then cleaned the kitchen and some of the house, and painted a picture, and basically just had a productive morning. The muffins are really good. I'll admit it's pretty much the pumpkin muffin recipe in Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, just with a bit of tweaking to make it with unrefined sugars. The turbinado sugar is optional, so feel free to omit it and the molasses if you don't eat sugarcane products at all. I think if you wanted to add some chocolate chips or carob chips to the batter, it definitely wouldn't hurt.

Pumpkin Muffins (Refined Sugar-Free)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 5/6 cup agave nectar or maple syrup (okay, weird measurement, I know...just do your best)
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or other mild-tasting oil
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar, optional

1) Preheat oven to 375° and lightly oil a twelve-muffin tin.

2) In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, mix together the agave, pumpkin, non-dairy milk, oil, and molasses.

4) Add pumpkin mixture to flour and mix until completely combined and batter is smooth.

5) Pour batter into muffin tins (fill each tin about 3/4 full). If using turbinado sugar, sprinkle about 1/2 to 1 tsp on each muffin.

6) Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. 

Serves 12

Thursday, November 8, 2012

an update + a fabulous granola recipe

Well I am very disappointed that it's been so long since I've posted a recipe here, and that I was unable to finish the Vegan Month of Food. I'm actually pretty surprised that I managed to stick with it as long as I did. Hurricane Sandy hit Maine last Monday afternoon, and we lost electricity almost immediately. Obviously I couldn't cook anything until it came back on Wednesday. 

I made these on Tuesday when there was still enough daylight (still had the help of some candles though). Basically I chopped the apple into slices and cut out a chunk on the peel side for a mouth. Then I filled some of the mouths with peanut butter and some with jelly. I added some almond slivers for teeth and raisins for eyes (glued on with a bit of peanut butter). I made these with the general idea of this recipe, only I didn't have internet so I couldn't actually use the post as a reference, so mine turned out much differently (but I'm glad they did because they're much cuter than they are spooky). It was a nice Halloween snack.

On Thursday my parents and I left for a road trip to North Carolina, to go to my cousin's wedding. It was such a good week! The weather was perfect, I got to see all my cousins, and the wedding was absolutely beautiful. I met his bride at the wedding for the first time and she was so sweet, I'm very glad she's now a part of our family.

When I go on long car rides, I tend to get hungrier than usual and bring lots of energy-filled snacks to keep me going. I never travel without Clif Bars, or any energy bar, because you never know when one might come in handy (I'm not even joking though. When I went to Europe last summer I brought like 5 boxes of Clif Bars and my friends made fun of me at first, but eventually they were jealous). I also bring fruit and veggies, peanut butter, granola, and herbal popcorn (or whatever flavor popcorn is currently my favorite). I've found that at hotels, the breakfasts aren't usually vegan-friendly (or whole food-friendly), but if you know what to do, it's more than satisfactory. There's almost always oatmeal you could eat - add a little more water instead of adding milk and stir in some peanut butter (best to use your own since the hotel's PB will be filled with HFCS and other mystery ingredients) or syrup (if it's good syrup). Sometimes I bring a cooler with me with almond milk, which I use with the oatmeal or cereal (which, by the way, you can eat with orange juice if you really want). The hotel will also have toast or bagels, which you can eat with PB or jelly. Another idea is just to slice up an apple or a banana and eat it with peanut butter. I obviously like peanut butter a little too much.
On this trip though, I ate granola with orange juice for breakfast pretty much every day, and it was such a great way to start the day. Now that I'm looking at the ingredients, I realize it's actually pretty loaded with sugar, but oh well, that's probably why it tastes so fantastic. Haha, at least it doesn't have refined sugar! If you're gluten-free, just make sure the oats are too! :)

Energy-Packed Granola
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped or sliced nuts (I used 3/4 cup sliced almonds + 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)
  • 1/3 cup seeds (I used a mixture of sunflower and sesame seeds)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or other mild tasting oil - or melted coconut oil if you want that flavor
  • 3/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used 1/2 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup agave nectar)
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional

1) Preheat the oven to 300°. 

2) In a large baking dish or a 9 by 12" baking pan, stir together oats, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, and salt. Add oil and sweetener and stir until completely combined.

3) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Again, remove from oven and stir.

4) Add raisins and stir in (the granola will still seem sticky but don't worry, it will get crispy when it cools!). Once the granola is completely cool, you may mix in the chocolate chips, if using.

Makes about 6 cups 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

First there was the hurricane that left me without power for a few days, and now I'm in North Carolina for my cousin's wedding, so I haven't really had the opportunity to write up recipes to post. I have like 5 that I pictures for and everything, but I just haven't been able to get around to it. I promise I will within a day or two!