Monthly Archives: November 2012

Foodie Pen Pals – November

This was my first month with foodie pen pals. I really enjoyed the experience.  One of the things that I found very interesting about this project it is really fosters respect for different dietary habits.  Everyone participating has different food quidelines they live by.  My pen pal this month is from Herman, Nebraska.  Her name is Janell Carson.  I was so excited to receive her box.  Janell’s letter to me said she is a meat and potatoes kind of person but she was so respectful of my vegan diet and sent me some great treats.

Her first item is Dorothy Lynch dressing made in Columbus, Nebraska.  I honestly have never tried this before and I am looking forward to it.  I am trying to decide what I want to do with it.  I may marinate some tofu in it or drizzle it on some pasta.  I am excited to try it.

The second item was Aronia fruit chews.  In her letter she talked about Aronia berries being the new superfuit.  I try to keep up to date on the new super foods.  I really enjoy trying out new things, especially things that are so healthy for us.  I had never heard about aronia berries before and she letter made me dive into some research.  I am so glad that she sent me these and told me about the berries.  They will be a part of my regular diet now.  My husband actually snatched this bag out of my hand as soon as he saw it.  He told me they were delicious.  Haha! This picture is not the actual bag she sent me but instead a picture from the internet, as I have yet to get the bag back from my husband.  He said, “Thank Janell for me.  I love them”.  So thank you Janell.

The third item or items, and my very favorite, home dried herbs from her garden.  When Janell sent me her first email asking about my dietary habits and what foods I enjoy I did not even think to say spices.  She must have been reading my mind because I LOVE spices of all kinds, especially home grown and dried spices.  There absolutely isn’t anything better.  I was like a kid in a candy shop when I saw these spices.  There was actually more in each bag. I have already used some of them!

Janell also sent me a couple recipes.  She sent me a recipe for a copycat version of the Dorothy Lynch Dressing.  I loved this.  I love home making most of my foods so I was excited to see this recipe. She also sent me recipes for Tomato-Basil Soup and Mint Julep.  I am in love with tomato soup, especially in the winter.  It is my go to comfort food.  So this recipe made me smile.  As did the recipe for Mint Julep, we all need that perfect end of a hectic day drink and this will serve that purpose well.

So thank you Janell.  I thoroughly enjoyed receiving your package.  You were a great pen pal.  If you want to check out her blog here is it:  http://nellisredneckrestaurant.blogspot.com/

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Vegan Reese’s Cups

 

I got this recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  I tweeked it just a little and doubled the recipe since I am taking them to a Thanksgiving Party.  I am very impressed and will be bringing them to many more parties. 

Ingredients

20 graham cracker squares (10 whole crackers)

1 cup earth balance butter

1 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted, I used Adam’s since it’s only ingredient is peanuts)

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 cups vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup chopped almonds

 

Directions

Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.  Break the graham crackers into large chunks and put in a food processor.  Pulse on and off until they are ground into fine crumbs.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups of crumbs and set aside.  Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar and mix well.  Remove the mixture from heat.  Evenly divide the mixture, approximately two tablespoons per cup, among the muffins.

At this point I put the muffin tins into my refrigerator.  The directions have you immediately putting the chocolate on the mixture but my chocolate plopped all the way to the bottom when I did that.  So I let the peanut butter mixture cool in the fridge for about an hour.  At that point they should be firm enough to spread the chocolate mixture on the tops.

Combine the milk and chocolate in another pan.  Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.  Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.  Top with chopped almonds.  Place in the refrigerator to set for at least two hours before serving.

Vegan Ranch

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I used to order packs to make my own vegan ranch but then the lady I was purchasing them from went on maternity leave from her shop. So I was forced to figure it out on my own. I am proud to say my creation is every bit as good as hers.
Ingredients

1 cup veganaise
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Use immediately or store in your fridge for up to one week.

Smoky Mac and Cheese

Ever since changing my life style and turning to vegan eating, I have been trying to come up with a mac and cheese recipe that I really loved.  I was not pleased with any of the “cheese sause” recipes and I did not like the slimy texture of putting daiya cheese directly over hot pasta.  So I have worked and worked to find a recipe that I really liked.  I failed over and over again until this recipe.  I am offically in love with mac and cheese again.  Obviously, if you have read any of my other posts, you know I love my slow cooker.  Cooking it in your slow cooker will make the cheese mixture very soft and creamy.  And the added benefit is that liquid smoke in anything makes my house smell so cozy.  I love it. We all need those comfort food nights every now and then and now I can add this recipe to my “favorite” section.

Ingredients

4 cups non dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 cube of vegetable bouillon

8 oz whole wheat macaroni

2 cups shedded vegan cheddar cheese (I used daiya)

1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (again daiya)

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

a couple dashes of chili powder

1 teaspoon corn starch

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Oil the crock of your slow cooker.  Toss all ingredients into the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the pasta is al dente.  Stir the mixture every 20 minutes.  You want to make sure everything is thickening well and that the pasta is not over cooked. After about an hour the mixture should be very creamy and thick, continue to cook for another 30 minutes if the pasta is still crunchy. 

When done, plate and enjoy.  This recipe make four servings and reheats well for left overs.

Braised Chick’n and Olives

 

I have been experimenting with my slow cooker.  I love a nice big home cooked dinner but sometimes we are just too busy.  I have found that not having the time, or actually, not feeling like slaving away in the kitchen after a long day of work, can lead to temptation.  For us anyway, it can lead to eating out and eating more vegan junk food than I would like.  So I have decided to try and cook as much as I can in my slow cooker, especially when I know I am going to have a long day.  I made this with a big salad and a toasted baby boule from whole foods and we had a delicious dinner that took very little effort.

Ingredients

4 chicken flavored seitan breasts (I used Gardein)

1 stalk of celery

10 0z cherry tomatoes

1 cup pitted and sliced olives

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 sprigs of rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Oil the crock of your slow cooker.  Chop the tomatoes and celery.  Place the seitan breasts in the slow cooker and top with the rest of the ingredients. I have rosemary in my garden so I snipped off two sprigs the morning I put this together.  You can buy fresh rosemary in the grocery store or even use dried.  

Cook on low for 8 hours.  At 8 hours everything was well cooked but I wanted some of the liquid to evaporate.  So I tipped the lid of my slow cooker up with a spoon and let it cook for another hour.  Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving.  Then you simply plate a delicious dinner.  It is just that simple.

Simple Vegan Oat Dessert

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I guess you could classify this as a cookie dough. I love dessert after dinner the problem I have is store bought desserts are highly processed and contain all sorts of junk I do not want in my body.

The other option is home cooked desserts, I love baking but do not always have the time. Thus this oat dessert was born.

It is simple, easy to make and satisfies my sweet tooth.

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tablespoon raw agave nectar
1 heaping tablespoon all natural peanut butter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until combined and enjoy!

National Hug a Relative Day

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I am declaring today National Hug a Relative Day. I wish I actually had the power to proclaim holidays.

My brother passed away about two and a half years ago. Today is his birthday. He would have been 31.

I miss him every single day. I often wish I had hugged him more, he loved hugs, huge bear hugs. I wish I had hugged him more and told him more often that I loved him.

So today, hug a relative, tell them you love them. If there is someone in your life you haven’t had a great deal of contact with, send them a text or give them a call and tell them that you are thinking about them today and that you love them.

It is important to let them know how you feel. You never know how much more time you have with them.

Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

The pumpkin baking has begun.  I love oatmeal cookies, they are my favorite kind of cookie and of course I love everything pumpkin.  So what is better than the combination of the two?

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/3 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cup raw sugar

2/3 cup safflower oil

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (can also use pure vanilla extra)

1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or fresh (not pumpkin pie filling)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine flour, rolled oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl, mix to combine.  In another bowl combine safflower oil, molasses, maple syrup and pumpkin, stir until well combined then add to your dry mixture and stir until just combined.  The mixture should resemble normal oatmeal cookies, not too dry but also not soaking wet.  You should be able to hand form the dough into small balls.

Using a tablespoon place small balls or globs, whichever you prefer onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 16-20 minutes.  Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.