Sunday, October 12, 2014

Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing

It's embarrassing to realize how long it's been since I last wrote a post - my life seems so full these days with homeschooling, oiling, family etc.

I decided a post was definitely due and this dressing recipe is one of my favorites so I thought it would be a good one to post this morning. My hubby and I eat a big salad for dinner almost every night - except when we are having company or visiting at someone else's home - yep, every night like clock work:-) We both crave big, delicious salads every night of the week! So thankful for a husband who is so supportive and on-board with our healthy eating and lifestyle!

My salad every night consists of spinach, leaf lettuce, a pile of red grapes, roasted almonds, some croutons (the non-healthy part of the salad...I should probably eliminate those but they add such a delightful crunch!) and this Balsamic Poppyseed Dressing. The original recipe for this dressing came from a very old cookbook I have called "Favorite Recipes"....I think the cookbook is from the 70s! The Poppy Seed Dressing recipe in this cookbook is very sweet and a little tangy. I can't imagine eating it the original way now - way too sweet! I started adding some balsamic to it a while back to give it a fuller, tangier flavor. I slowly added more and more to add more and more zing and to cut down on the caloric nature of it! Here is the final, delicious recipe make-over. Be warned, once you try it, you may become addicted!!

Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing
2/3 cup canola oil (you can use olive oil but I think the olive oil gives too strong of a flavor)
1/3 cup honey (not vegan but this is a vegan ingredient I don't abstain from)
1 t salt
1 T yellow mustard
2 T white vinegar
2 t poppy seeds
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a cruet or jar with a lid and shake to incorporate all of the ingredients. Note: You can heat the mixture slightly in a pan to help the honey mix well with the other ingredients.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tower Gardening at it's best!

Once again, it has been far too long since I have had the chance to write...summer vacation is in full swing for us. Our last couple of weeks have been filled with family time, dates with friends, and a mini vacation to Omaha.

Each year I am awed by how quickly my tower garden explodes with growth and the abundance of fresh produce it bestows upon us! This year I think it has awed me even further!

 I planted LOTS of lettuce and kale and several zucchini, spinach and broccoli plants...and I planted them early because they are all cooler weather crops. We have had the most incredible abundance of lettuce this has been amazing! I have been harvesting almost every day and I still have loads waiting to harvest. Since we eat huge salads every night, it has saved me so much at the grocery store! I harvested our first kale last night as well and filled a large bowl. I still have lots growing and will probably harvest another bowl in a couple days.

Having never grown spinach before, I have discovered that it doesn't produce as big of a plant as lettuce or kale and thus the harvest is smaller but still quite delightful! I added it to our salads last night and it was perfect.

My top favorite things about my tower garden this week:

  1. So easy!!!
  2. No pests AT ALL this year!!
  3. Beautiful, blemish-free produce growing like crazy!
  4. Stepping onto my deck to "grocery shop" each day!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mean Vegan Food Review

Last week my husband came home bearing vegan gifts....needless to say, I was thrilled! His boss knew we were a vegan-eating family and gave him a bag-ful1l of vegan tamales and vegan bbq...compliments of Mean Vegan (the owners happen to be part of his family). I love tamales but finding a vegan version is one thing I have never accomplished. I have made my own before but they are so much work that I likely won't make them again! The "Jack Tamales" were amazing! I dressed them up with a little avocado and homemade salsa. Though most tamales are filled with meat, cheese and fat, these delicious vegan parcels are stuffed with full-flavored, perfectly spiced jackfruit and encased in delicate, mouth-watering cakes of masa. At only 2.7 grams of fat, there is no guilt indulging in these tamales!

Today the boys and I tried the BBQ jackfruit. All I had to do was warm it up and I served it on hoagie rolls. Of course we had generous sides of veggies along with the sandwiches for a completely delicious meal.

Though the jackfruit bbq was perfectly delightful, the tamales were my favorite hands down! Either way, I will definitely be buying these again! Fabulous food without a clean list of ingredients! Perfection!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vegan Soups and Breads

I feel like some weeks I have so much to post about and yet so little time to sit down and do it! This week we had a gloomy, rainy day which prompted my craving for soup. The boys love to make their own soup so all three of us headed to the kitchen for a school lunch break and came up with three delicious and nutritious soups. One of my favorite things about soups is that you can add so many veggies and end up with a bowlful of complete nutritional goodness without the need for a side dish - and after eating it you feel warmed and satisfied that you just filled your body with nutritionally dense food. In this case we did make a side dish - an oil-free cornbread that was surprisingly delicious. We had our leftover soup the following day and made oil-free biscuits that I made up which were very yummy too...with an added punch of healthfullness included (see recipe below!). Enjoy!

 Corn Bread (adapted from Happy Herbivore)

1 c cornmeal
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used honey because I am out of maple syrup...and honey isn't vegan but it's an ingredient I choose not to abstain from!)
2 tbsp raw sugar (optional) - I didn't use this
Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add non-dairy milk, applesauce, maple syrup and sugar, if using, on top. Using a spatula, stir until just combined. Pour batter into a nonstick shallow 9" pie dish, or other oven-safe dish. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Keith's Soup (since we didn't measure, here is the list of what he added)
Whole wheat rotini
Pinto beans
Homemade veggie broth
Salt, Pepper

Braedon's Soup  (since we didn't measure, here is the list of what he added)
Whole wheat rotini
Pinto beans
Red and yellow peppers
Homemade veggie broth
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Basil

The Soup I made was Minestrone out of the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. It was not a powerfully taste-filled soup but it had a simple tomato-rich flavor that was full of veggies and I loved it! It had celery, carrots, fire-roasted tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, green beans, potatoes, fresh herbs, broth and no added fat to.

These biscuits were a last minute thought and they actually turned out really yummy. They are not the flaky, buttery biscuits that we usually think of - rather, they are chewier in consistency and remind me more of drop biscuits.

Chewy No-oil Added Biscuits
2 cups fllour (preferably whole wheat pastry but I was out so I had to use white)
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup pureed cauliflower
1/2 cup almond or soy milk

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir to combine. 
 You want your dough to stick together but not be too wet. Add a little extra flour or a little extra milk to achieve this consistency. Turn onto a floured cutting board and form into a circle about 1-1/2 inches thick. Cut biscuits out with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Birthday boys!

Celebrating my boys with vegan chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (from Betty Goes Vegan)

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package Vegan Cream Cheese (plain)
1/4 cup Vegan Margarine
2 teaspoons Soy Milk (vanilla)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
4 cups Powdered Sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, Margarine, Soy Milk and Vanilla with an electric mixer on low until smooth.
Gradually mix in the Powdered Sugar, 1 cup at a time on a low speed to prevent one of those messy blow backs. Mix till smooth.
If you don’t have a frosting gun, you can use a knife to frost these, because the frosting is soft.R refrigerate to keep the frosting from melting.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vegan Lo Mein

My sister came up with this delicious recipe for lo mein and I took it and veganized it. Turned out delicious!

Kind of a funny recipe but it will guide you through the cooking process!

Vegan Lo Mein

Dice and onion. Cook it in some oil with 3 cloves of minced garlic and a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced. Cook until soft. Add 2 cups chopped vegan chicken (I used Trader Joes brand). Cook until browned (about 5 minutes). Add in 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks and 2 cups of cut green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 1/2 package of spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. In a bowl combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 T rice vinegar, 1 t sesame oil, and 1 T sugar. Mix. Add veggies to noodles and toss with sauce. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Smoky Split Pea Soup

I recently tried the recipe for Smoky Split Pea Soup from Appetite for Reduction and fell in love with it! Such a delicious and flavorful soup!!

Smoky Split Pea Soup
From Appetite for Reduction
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A few twists of the pepper grinder
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups dry split peas
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the oil until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, and salt, and saute for another minute. Add the paprika and thyme, and stir continuously for about 15 seconds to toast the spices a bit.
Add the carrots, split peas, and broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, the lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the peas are creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from burning at the bottom. If necessary, thin the soup with water. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and seasonings.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day breakfast!

I made a simple but yummy Valentine's Day breakfast this morning for my sweet little fam - heart-shaped biscuits and fruit. Yum!

Crisp Crust Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add canola oil and milk until well mixed. Pat out into a circle about 3/4 in high. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into biscuits or a heart cookie cutter in this case! Place biscuits on cookie sheet and bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 15 min or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vegan Eggs Benedict

In my pre-vegan days, one of my favorite breakfasts was eggs Benedict. I have come up with several vegan versions that have been yummy but I recently found an ingredient that makes a delicious difference in my vegan "eggs" - smoked salt. Typically I would use black salt on my tofu to give it that sulfur taste of eggs but I was out so I tried smoked salt. Since I didn't really follow a recipe, here's the overall way I prepared this breakfast: I sliced a block of drained, pressed tofu into 1/4 inch slices. Then I sprinkled all the slices with some broth powder (recipe from the Happy Herbivore is my fav), some smoked salt and some fresh cracked pepper and baked at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Top toasted English muffins with the tofu and some vegan hollandaise (I usually just mix some vegan mayo with a squeeze of lemon juice and a tad of mustard). Delish!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vegan Superbowl!

Ok so it's a little late to be posting this but I wanted to share our little Superbowl party treats. My hubby had to work so it was just the boys and me. They were so excited about watching the game! I made vegan "little smokies" (basically small vegan hot dogs tossed in bbq sauce), Daiya quesadillas, chips and queso, carrot sticks and clementines. Everything was a hit! I sampled a bit of each thing but then resorted to my nightly salad as we watched the game.  A perfect evening with my sweet buddies!

Warm Chili Con Queso Dip (adapted from 500 Vegan Recipes)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans drained and rinsed if using canned
1 cup veg broth
2 T minced dried onions
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1 cup soy creamer
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup TVP

Combine all ingredients except beans and crumbles. Stir until smooth. Add beans. Cook on low 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours. Add crumbles during last hour of cook time or if you will not be available to add them at this time, just add them at the beginning.

Precious little cooks!

PhotoThe other night, as a result of my recent cold, I was starting to lose my voice. I was running especially low on voice after reading stories to the boys and playing a couple rounds of Go Fish! Keith and Braedon started whispering to each other and devised the plan that they were going to make dinner for the 3 of us to be helpful and sweet to Mom. They both have such tender hearts!
Braedon was the salad master and made beautifully colorful delights (he made one for himself and I worked alongside and made mine) and Keith crafted a delicious vegan soup that turned out quite yummy indeed. It made my heart smile to have my sweet little helpers in the kitchen with me and sit down to a dinner they were extremely proud of! I am so blessed!!!

Keith's Vegan Soup

2 cups veggie broth
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3  cup orzo
1/2 cup frozen peas
Dash of the following spices - tarragon, Italian Seasoning, thyme, pepper

Bring broth to a boil - add potato and carrots. Cook about 10 minutes. Add orzo, cook about 15 minutes or until veggies are tender and orzo is done. Add peas and spices. Cook until heated through.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vegan Puttanesca

I recently ran across a recipe for a Puttanesca sauce that looked yummy...however it had anchovies and parmesan in it - neither of which are vegan of course. I made up a new meal today and figured I would attempt a vegan version of the Puttanesca to go with it. Both were a delicious success! The actual meal was a cheater meal - I stuffed a puff pastry from Trader Joes with some vegan meatballs (Gardein) meals are usually much more made-from-scratch but it was easy and very delish. The sauce was fantastic and was made from even included tomatoes and basil I froze over the summer from my tower garden bounty:-)

Vegan Puttanesca

1 T oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 t sugar
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 T capers
2 T fresh basil, chopped(or fresh that has been frozen - not dried)
2 cups petite diced tomatoes

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until golden and starting to get tender. Add the tomatoes, cover and let simmer 10 min. Add salt, sugar, olives, capers, basil. Stir to incorporate. Cover and simmer 15 min to let flavors meld. Serve over pasta, squash, polenta...whatever you fancy! Enjoy!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

My sister-in-law just got married in October to a great guy from Dominican Republic. A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege of enjoying one of Andy's specialtys - Red Beans, Rice, and Chicken. I didn't sample the chicken but let me tell you, the red beans and rice were AMAZING!! Kidney beans are probably one of my least favorite types of beans because they aren't as creamy as other beans in my opinion. But this meal was so delicious, I erased my previous view of red beans and fell in love with them! I asked Andy for the recipe to try and duplicate the goodness and he gave me his "recipe" which doesn't include any exact measurements....because I think he knows this recipe like the back of his hand! After creating my version of this delicacy, I realized two things:

1. My vegan red beans and rice were pretty darn delicious.
2. My vegan red beans and rice don't come close to comparing to Andy's!

Ah was worth a try! At least I have another yummy recipe to add to my vegan repertoire that is not only tasty but easy on the budget and very simple. I guess for the real version, we'll just have to invite ourselves over to Suzi and Andy's :-)

Vegan Red Beans and Rice
2 t canola oil
1/4 cup sliced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 T tomato paste
2 t boullion
4 cups cooked kidney beans, UNDRAINED
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups rice - cooked according to package instructions
Avocado slices

Heat oil in medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste and boullion. Cook until onion is browned. Add the beans with their liquid. When the mixture starts to boil, remove 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and mash. Add 1/2 cup water and return to the pot. Stir. Add the cilantro. Remove from heat and serve over cooked rice with slices of avocado. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Blog!!

Just wanted to let all of my vegan friends know that I have started a new that envelops my family's total approach to health, rather than just our vegan side! I am so excited about sharing through this blog about my "Healthy Obsessions" (exercise, veganism, essential oils...just to name a few!) and hope you will check it out. Find it here!

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack
I was going to try a recipe for herbed scalloped potatoes and at last minute decided to do something fast and easy. I made up the recipe and it was yummola! I layered sliced russet potatoes in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary, paprika, and garlic powder. Then I baked them at 425 fr about 45 minutes. They were crisp and very flavorful!

My thrown-together salad today - after discovering I had no leftovers for lunch!

Tamale Fixings

Tamale Fixings
Plain pintos (for Keith), pintos, corn and onions; corn, jalepenos and Daiya; mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and chard

Making these was a bit time-consuming but kinda fun! They didn't turn out as good as I had hoped - the outer tamale part (not the filling) just wasn't as flavorful as tamales I have had in restaurants. I have another recipe I will try for the dough next time. Tamales are one of my favorite foods so I won't give up on this one!

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes
I modified one of my favorite pancake recipes to make it vegan and then I added blueberries. Turned out quite yummy. Soymilk sours and thickens well - very similar to buttermilk. I have been really impressed with it's ability to substitute for real buttermilk.

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

Egg replacement for 1 egg
1 1/4 cups soured soy milk (put 2 T vinegar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to equal 1 1/4 cups)
2 T canola oil
1 cup flour (I wouldn't recommend whole wheat or whole wheat pastry - it really takes away from the fluffiness of these pancakes)
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Blueberries, optional

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Heat griddle pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Sprinkle blueberries on pancakes after ladling onto griddle. Cook just until golden on both sides.

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein
Overall, this was fabulous! However, I don't think the seitan added much so I would just leave it out next time. The lo mein also needed about double the sauce so I would simply do that next time for added flavor. This was especially spicy and yummy with some Sriracha drizzled on top. I made our favorite veg egg rolls to go with this and it was truly a Chinese treat!!

Veggie Seitan Lo Mein

I really did my own thing for this recipe so I am just going to outline the instructions and include the sauce recipe. I heated oil in a large skillet and added 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 cup of half-moon cut onions (I was out of green onions but next time I would use green onions as I like them a lot in Chinese food) and about 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots. After about 5-6 minutes, I added about 1/4 lb of whole green beans. I cooked these veggies until tender. Meanwhile, I cooked a 16oz package of chow mein noodles. Once the veggie mixture was cooked, I poured the sauce on the veggies, heated through and tossed with the noodles. Next time I would double the amount of sauce and have adjusted amounts below to reflect double recipe.

Sauce (Source:Adaptable Feast)
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice wine (I used 3 T rice vinegar and 1 t sugar as I didn't have any rice wine)
3 t sugar
4 T black bean garlic sauce
Mix all ingredients and toss with above mixture.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth
Pretty yummy. I found that steaming the wontons worked much better than the recipe suggestion to boil them. The broth was very mild and a bit too mellow for us. Still pretty yummy though. I added extra veggies to the wontons and scallion to the broth. The seasoning in the wonton filling was quite tasty!

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth (Source: Vegan Yum Yum)

(As usual, I modified several things so it's not exactly the recipe in Vegan Yum Yum!)

1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 T oil
1 t fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 t hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 t hot Chinese mustard
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
4 cups water ( I think this might have been more flavorful had I used vegetable broth or faux chicken broth???)
6 slices fresh ginger
1 T mirin (I used a splash of cooking wine as I didn't have mirin)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions
16 wonton skins

For filling: Heat oil in skillet and add broccoli, ginger, garlic, carrot, onion and cook until veggies are crisp tender. Add chili sauce, mustard, 1 t soy sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make wontons, take one skin and place in diamond shape. Fill with 1-2 t filling. Fold in half to make a triangle and moisten edges with water and pinch sides to seal. Set triangle in front of you with point up and take the 2 side points and bring them together in front to cross. Set aside and prepare remaining wontons. When finished, place wontons in a steamer basket and steam over pot of boiling water until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine remaining ingredients (except wontons) and simmer 10-15 min.

Place 3-4 wontons in bowl and ladle broth over wontons. Serve.