Monday, October 21, 2013

Ooey Gooey Vegan Mac N Cheeze

Ever since I tasted the super delicious Mac N Cheeze at Kindfood in Burlington, ON, I have wanted to emulate this same dish at home. I think I've come pretty close here, and even though it isn't identical, it was definitely a success! While the one at Kindfood is completely gluten-free, I chose to use some regular wheat flour in this recipe, though I did pick out some brown rice noodles to try.  The recipe that I found online that seemed most like the one I tried at the restaurant was from Vegan Yum Yum, although I did modify the recipe a little bit.

1/3 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh
1 tbsp sweet/white miso
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the saucepan and add the Earth Balance. Once it is melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until a paste forms. Don't let your pot get too hot. Add tamari, lemon, miso, tomato paste, paprika, Dijon, and whisk. Slowly pour in the soy milk, whisking constantly. Add the nutritional yeast and mix. Cook until it thickens up for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Cook a package of macaroni or other shaped pasta, and toss with the sauce. Top with Daiya cheddar cheese and whole grain bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Double Chocolate Super Fudgy Cookies

Last night, I had an urge to bake cookies. So...I did! I looked through some recipes that I had written down and hadn't tried yet. It was also very important that I had all of the ingredients already on hand as I really didn't feel like going out to the store. So here they are, double chocolate super fudgy cookies! They are super chocolatey, soft and moist. I feel like I really didn't need to add as many chocolate chips as I did, so feel free to modify to what suits you. Also, be sure to use a good quality cocoa powder (I use the one by Cocoa Camino) as a higher quality cocoa will make your cookies taste better!

Now, my oven is quite small and on my first batch of cookies with one tray on top and one on the bottom, the bottom ones burnt. The ones on the top rack turned out great. So, you might want to check on these about 6-8 minutes through cooking to see how they're doing. When I baked the second batch on the top rack, I cooked them for 8 minutes and they cooked perfectly. With that said, I'm sure they would cook great for the time recommended in the recipe (10 minutes) in other ovens.

1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp + 1 tsp whole flax seeds
1/2 cup soymilk
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Grind flax seeds until they become a powder. Add the soymilk to them and mix with a fork for 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, blend the oil and sugar with a mixer. Add the flax/soy mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla.

Fold in the dry ingredients in batches. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir, you can use your hands until a stiff dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and mix with your hands.

Roll the dough into 1" balls and flatten into a disk. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, about 1" apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, and then set on a wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe made about 36 cookies!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving! Chickpea Cutlets, Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy, and Roasted Broccoli!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving this past Monday, so we went all out with a hearty traditional meal...vegan-style, of course! Justin and I were in the kitchen for a good while and made this delicious meal together. It was one of those times where all of the pots and burners were used on the stove top and so many dishes piled up in the kitchen sink. But, it was well worth the time (and the mess!). I chose dishes from Isa's holiday recipes over at Post Punk Kitchen because they always turn out so great! We went with Doublebatch Chickpea Cutlets, Fluffy Mashed Potatoes, Savory Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Broccoli & Asparagus, and the Cosmos Apple Pie from the Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook.

I didn't fully follow the recipe for the broccoli - first of all, we added asparagus, too. Next, we added some fresh and dried herbs and spices as I would typically use for roasted vegetables. We roasted the vegetables in olive oil, along with the herbs, on a baking sheet as per the recipe.

The pie was baked to perfection and was super delicious! For an added amount of yum, I sprinkled some maple sugar on top in place of regular sugar, along with the cinnamon.

And another thing to be thankful for? This was way too much food for only two people! So, we had lots of leftovers to eat. The chickpea cutlets went pretty fast, but we ended up with such a huge amount of mushroom gravy that I'm thinking of making more cutlets and potatoes just to use up the gravy! It is Thursday now and I've still got some leftover potatoes, mushroom gravy, and pie. For the last couple of days, I've had some pretty fantastic lunches at work! Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians, and Early Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Make Your Own Hot Sauce from Scratch!

With the abundance of hot peppers in the potted veggie garden that I've had growing this summer, I was trying to figure out ways to use them all before they went bad. I use them regularly in stir fries, pasta sauces, and salsa, but I still had so many peppers! I decided to try my hand at making my own hot sauce and it was a spicy success! After scouring the web for various hot sauce recipes, I decided to go with one that seemed relatively easy to make and one that included ingredients that I already had on hand. Plus, this one included a bit of chipotle, which is always good!

I used the recipe from Veg Obsession with the peppers that I had in the garden. You could really use any type of hot pepper - some will be hotter than others. I used a combination of Cayenne Peppers and Five Colour Chinese Hot Peppers - maybe between 30 and 40 in total, since the Five Colour peppers are smaller in size.

24 hot peppers, any variety
1/3 cup onion
1 bulb garlic
1 carrot
2 tbsp dried chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp salt
white vinegar
apple cider vinegar

Slice off the tops of the peppers. Peel the onion and the garlic cloves. Chop the onion and carrot into big chunks. Throw everything into a large pot. Cover almost entirely with a mixture of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar (about 95% white vinegar and 5% white vinegar). Simmer the mixture on low-medium for 10-15 minutes.

* Note - the hot peppers caused some spicy fumes to rise up out of the pot...and they seemed to fill the entire kitchen and living room, too! It actually made me cough. So, I would recommend some sort of ventilation if you're using really hot pepper...once I opened the window, everything was fine!

Remove the veggies and place in a blender with a little bit of the vinegar in which they were cooked. Blend until smooth.

Pour the blended veggie mixture into a saucepan. Add the vinegar that they were cooked in before little by little until it reaches the desired consistency. I ended up using all of the vinegar in the hot sauce. Add the dried chipotle flakes and salt. Simmer and stir for a couple of minutes and pour into bottles.

This amount made two bottles of hot sauce and I'm storing them in the fridge. Put on everything and enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Support Me in my Walk for Farm Animals (Farm Sanctuary Charity Walk)

Two years ago, I participated in the Walk for Farm Animals supporting Farm Sanctuary and I've decided to raise money for this amazing animal charity once again this year! I have joined the Toronto walk that happens on September 28th, 2013.  Ever since I visited Farm Sanctuary, I've been a huge supporter of this amazing organization and will do everything that I can to help them out. They are one of the leading animal charities that rescue farm animals that have been abused as a result of factory farming, and they also do a lot to change government policies regarding abusive practices towards animals.

I would really appreciate any donations if you would like to sponsor me in this event.  By clicking the above button, you will be taking directly to my fundraising page, where your donations will go directly to Farm Sanctuary.  Any donations are appreciated and the rescued farm animals will be thankful for your support!

It would also be fantastic if you wanted to participate in the event and raise some money as well for this worthwhile cause!  You can sign up as a participant in a city close to you, become a Virtual Walker in your city like I did, or "Sleep In For Farm Animals" where you'd like to raise money but might be a bit too busy to take part in a walk. 

Thank you so much for your support!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Caribbean Peas and Rice...with Kale!

I love the combination of beans and rice and this recipe was a great opportunity to make a new dish using those healthy ingredients. This one is reminiscent of past travels in the Caribbean and dining on local cuisine. Peas and rice are a staple there, and it just happens to also be vegan! This recipe is from Happy Herbivore and also uses an ingredient that's a fan-favorite...kale!

The recipe calls for jerk seasoning, which I did not have on hand. However, I had all of the spices required in order to make a jerk spice blend, so I was able to make it from scratch! I used this one from Allrecipes, minus the oil:

2 tbsp dried minced onion
2 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all of those ingredients together. Any extra seasoning that you don't use could be stored in a small jar for next time!

Here's the recipe - this one makes enough to serve 4, or you can save it for lunch the next day like I am if you're dining solo!

1 bunch scallions, white parts sliced thin
2 whole celery stalks, minced
4 whole garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
4 whole fresh thyme leaves
1½ tsp hot sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
¼ tsp turmeric
1 bunch kale, chopped into small pieces
15 ounces black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2½ cups vegetable broth
2 tsp Jamaican dried jerk seasoning (using recipe above)

Combine rice with 2 cups of vegetable broth in a large pot and set aside. Line a skillet with a thin layer of broth and add scallions, celery, garlic, ginger, thyme, hot sauce and 1 tsp jerk seasoning. Cook over high heat, adding additional broth as necessary, until the celery is soft, about 3 minutes. Add remaining jerk seasoning, stirring to coat. Transfer to rice, add 2 squirts of ketchup and turmeric, stirring to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer 40-50 minutes, until rice is cooked.  You might have to add more broth as the rice absorbs the liquid. Once rice is fully cooked, stir in black-eyed peas and greens. Let the greens wilt slightly. You can serve with hot sauce or add a little bit of salt, if needed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Miso-Maple Sweet Potato Tacos

In my never ending search of delicious food and recipes to try online, I came across this one at The Kitchn that caught my interest. I'm always up for trying new Mexican-inspired recipes since some of my go-to meals include burritos, tacos, and eating as much re-fried beans and rice as I can. This one included one of my favorite foods, and one that I'm trying to eat more of since they're so good for you...sweet potatoes! Plus, the words...miso....maple syrup...sweet potatoes...really, how could you go wrong!

This recipe was delicious and perfect as it was - I didn't feel the need to alter any ingredients and the quantities were bang-on! It was pretty easy to make, especially since I bought my sweet potatoes pre-cut and pre-washed. I doubled the amounts of the miso-maple glaze since I think I had double the amount of sweet potatoes on hand, which truly shows since I have a lot left over. This would be fantastic re-heated for lunch tomorrow though, which I'll be doing!

Sweet Potatoes, fresh from the oven

Here's the recipe!

Glazed Sweet Potato Filling
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into small cubes
1 small red onion, chopped
Olive oil

whole wheat or corn tortillas, to put everything inside 
red pepper, chopped
green onions, chopped
hot pepper or jalapeno, chopped
toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
sprouts or greens

Cilantro-Coconut Sauce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 scallion, green and white parts, chopped
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 small garlic clove
Splash of Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400°F. Whisk the miso paste, maple syrup, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Spread sweet potatoes and onions in a single layer on a baking sheet (you might need 2 baking sheets). Drizzle with a little olive oil, and then liberally brush the glaze over the vegetables.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes (it took me 40-45 minutes to get the potatoes soft since my sweet potato cubes were a bit larger). The time will vary depending on the heat of your oven and the size of your sweet potato cubes. The onions will likely be done first so be sure to watch and take them out when they're nicely browned but not burnt. When the sweet potatoes are finished, remove from the oven, taste and add another brushing of glaze if you wish.
Serve on warm corn tortillas with cilantro-coconut sauce (see below) and fixings such as avocado, sprouts, cilantro, and pepitas.
In a food processor, pulse all cilantro-coconut sauce ingredients together until just combined. Serve alongside the tacos.

Delicious Toppings!