Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rum Jumbie

The first batch of holiday treats and also my first go around with these cookies from VCON. Rum Nog cookies and these babies rock! Slightly soft on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside. These would be a nice addition to your holiday cookies this year. I will be making these again for Christmas. One issue I did have was that the dough was rather soft so I just had to carefully roll it into the pecans using 2 spoons. I also cut down the sugar to 3/4 cup.

The only dark rum in the house I had to use for these cookies and the frosting was this cute guy down here, Rum Jumbie. Can you hear the waves crashing and the heat of the sun? Ahhhhh I wish I were back in St. Martin where I got this wonderful rum. I made the frosting this morning and I tell you, I could of started drinking this rum, especially because I was in one of those funky blah moods. Now, now, I'm not saying to start drinking when you are depressed but I tell you, rum makes me so happy!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The day after....

To all of you out there who woke up early to go shopping you are very brave! I'm not one for waking up that early and dealing with the crowds especially when we got home late last night. So i'm drinking some coffee and trying to stay warm.
I hope everyone had a nice visit with their family and friends yesterday. We drove down to the in-laws and had Thanksgiving with them. My sister-in-law, father-in-law and husbands' birthdays fall between Nov. 20-30th so we celebrated them all and had 3 different desserts for them.

Since the main course was not such a compassionate one (you know what I'm talking about)my son and I had a cruelty free Field Roast(below).

When I had asked my mother-in-law to buy a Field Roast I didn't specify a Celebration Roast but we had this Smoked Tomato Field Roast instead. It had plenty of flavor and could actually feed at least 3 people. I made a vegan gravy as well. One of my favorite Field Roast Sausages is the Smokeed Apple Sage.yum!

This was the dessert I made and it turned out perfect! It's a Pumpkin Cheescake and the recipe is from Just the Food blog but is also in the new vegan cookbook 500 Vegan Recipes. I actually baked this in a springform pan and made a pecan shortbread crust. Here is the recipe below with my changes but you can see the original recipe by clicking Just the Food blog . It's pretty rich so you don't really don't need a big slice.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Pecan shortbread crust (or any one you choose)
2, 8oz containers of vegan cream cheese
1, 15 oz can of pure pumpkin(organic)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp Cornstarch(I ran out of arrowroot powder)
1 tsp cinnamon (ground)
1/2 tsp ginger (ground)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (ground)
1/4 tsp cloves (ground)

Pecan Shortbread Crust:
1 C. toasted pecans
1 1/3 C. spelt flour (you can use your choice)
1/3 C. organic sugar
1/2 C. Earth Balance

Directions: First preheat oven to 350.

In a 9 inch spring form pan wrap the bottom at least half way up the sides with aluminum foil. (You'll see why you need this when you bake with the filling).

In a food processor add pecans and pulse until coarsely chopped. YOU DON'T want to pulse into a fine meal. You want to make sure you have a nice crunch to the shortbread. Pour into a medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

Next in the food processor add flour, sugar and EB and pulse until a dough forms. Once that happens pour into the pecans and stir together.

Press dough into the spring form pan and bake for about 15 minutes. It will puff slightly but you don't really want it to brown. Take out and let cool for a few minutes.

Directions for the filling:
Beat all ingredients together in a food processor or electric mixer until smooth. Pour into crust. Place a pan or drip pan full of hot water (about 1" deep) in the middle rack of the oven. Place the foil wrapped spring form pan onto the drip pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool, place in refrigerator until ready to serve, and to set even more.

Note*The reason for the foil is so that the water doesn't seep into the cheesecake and wet the crust. The reason for the water is so the top of the cheesecake doesn't crack.

This dessert you see here is my husbands' favorite that he grew up eating. My mother-in-law makes everyones favorite cake or pie that they like for their birthdays. This pie is a pudding pineapple cream cheese pie. I'm not a big fan of it but the rest of the family loves it and she made it vegan this year. Here is the recipe, it's real simple. Would be a great summer dessert.

Pudding pinapple cream cheese pie:
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 lg instant vanilla pudding box
1 lg can crushed pineapple, drained (squeeze out as much liquid as possible)
2 1/4 c. non-dairy milk(soy was used)
1 8 oz. tofutti cream cheese

In a large bowl pour in a packet of instant pudding mix. Next pour in milk and mix until thick. Beat in cream cheese until smooth. Finally stir in crushed pineapple. Once thoroughly combined pour into graham cracker crust, put in refrigerator until set about a day or overnight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lasagna and Brownies...

Let's start out with dessert shall we? These are a little thin just because the pan I used was a bit too big. That just meant bigger portions! yipeee! My favorite brownie recipe comes from Vivacious Vegan with whom I can't find on the internet anymore so below is the recipe. If you prefer your brownies more fudgey than cakey this it it! Then the show stopper on this one is that I swirled in some pumpkin butter! Ohhhhh yaaaaaaahhhh! (you can't tell too much because I was playing safe). I saw this done at Vegan Visitor last year and I finally tried it. I'm going to make a thicker brownie next time and swirl in more pumpkin butter. If you love chocolate(I do) and pumpkin butter give this a try. It's a nice twist for the holidays.

This was the first time in I don't know how long since I've made lasagna. I've been craving it for the last week. I thought I would try something a bit different with it. I made two sauces, a marinara with veggie crumbles and a bechamel sauce(white sauce). I also made half of a tofu ricotta with spinach mixed in. The layers were tofu ricotta, bechamel, marinara and noodles. My husband loved the marinara but could do without the bechamel. I have to agree with him on that. Personally I could do without the veggie crumbles too just cuz it's too "meaty" for me.
Brownie Recipe
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soymilk
1.5 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi/sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 inch square pan.
Put the oil, maple syrup , soy milk and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Put the batter in the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes.
Don't overbake.
Cool before cutting.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's the time of the season for Pumpkin la la.... and The Vegan Table

Sprouted wheat bagel smothered with raw almond and pumpkin butter. Ahhhh so so good!
It's that time of year again that you can find Pumpkin butter on the shelves and this one from Trader Joe's is really good along with there awesome raw almond butter. It tastes like dessert but it alot healthier for you minus the sugar in the pumpkin butter. :)
I was able to get a copy of THE VEGAN TABLE cookbook by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau from our library. It's nice to be able to check it out before you buy. It's a lovely book with beautiful photo's and it's based on entertaining. She gives great tips, food and historical lore, and also a page to those non-vegan family members who may feel at a loss as what to feed a family member when they become vegan. I loved how she dedicated the book to the animals by sharing examples on how we can learn from them, this is just one quote from it "May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys." She then concludes "May we learn from the animals what we need to become better people." I think that says it all.
My first recipe I made from the book was this lovely Butternut Squash Timbale. It looks like alot of work doesn't it? It would be great to serve when company comes over because it looks so pretty. My husband didn't want to eat it because it looked so nice. It actually was very easy to make and it tasted really good. I added some mushrooms to the butternut squash, sauteed up some spinach and drizzled a black current reduction on top.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Warm sweet potato and corn stew

My mother-in-law subscribed me to Better Homes and Gardens a while back and I found this recipe last month that I've been wanting to veganize. The magazine itself is adding more vegetarian recipes but many are not. This recipe is actually called Sweet Potato and Hominy Stew. Hominy can look a bit scary looking, it is actually corn without the hull or processed corn, not everyone likes it and if you do you have to really be in the mood to eat it. So I decided to use corn to replace the hominy. Below are the changes that I made to the recipe. The stew has a nice sweet and subtle flavor you can also add beans if you'd like.

6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 14-oz. cans vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped ( 5 cups)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 lg bag frozen corn
1 large red sweet pepper, coarsely chopped
10 oz. seitan, sliced(store bought or homemade)*
bbq sauce
Lime wedges

First prepare the seitan. If you are using pre-made slice up and add bbq sauce. If homemade seitan, I made the seitan cutlets from VCON and then browned in a skillet. Next I sliced 4 of them and added bbq sauce. Let it sit for at least 3 hours.

1. In saucepan or Dutch oven cook garlic and onion and red pepper in hot oil until tender. Stir in broth and water; add sweet potatoes, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, and cumin. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Stir in corn and sliced seitan. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until heated through.
2. Serve with cilantro, lime wedges, and Cumin Polenta. Makes 8 servings.

Cumin Polenta: In large heavy saucepan combine 2, 14-oz. cans veggie broth and 2 teaspoons ground cumin; bring to boiling. Reduce heat; gradually whisk in 1 cup yellow cornmeal. Cook and stir until thick, about 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup non-dairy milk and 1 tablespoon EB. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Sorghum/spelt pancakes with sauteed bananas. Can you smell the sweet, carmalized smell of the bananas and cinnamon? Yum. I made these for my son who had his knee lock up on him again last week. I felt bad for him unable to walk and being very uncomfortable so I thought at least this might take his mind off of the pain for a bit. It did thankfully!
For lunch I used up left over veggie burger that I made the previous night. It was a very tasty recipe that I will have to post at a later date when I make them again. Served in a rice tortilla, shmeared with hummus, lettuce, cucumber and grated carrot.

For dinner....drum roll please. Tofu Marsala, mash taters and steamed brocollini. The potatoes were made with veggie broth and drizzled with a delicious olive oil from Global Gardens that's located right here in the Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos. I will post more about this olive oil next time. In the mean time check out the recipe below from EATING If you can use fresh thyme, use it. Note my changes in the parenthesis.

4 servings
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used spelt flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu, drained, rinsed and cut crosswise into eight 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, minced (or medium sweet onion)
1 teaspoon dried thyme(or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme)
6 cups sliced cremini, or (baby bellas)
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1 cup vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
(you can also use sage to change it up a bit for the cooler weather and for a different taste)
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Whisk 1/4 cup cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Pat tofu with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge 4 tofu slices in the flour mixture, add them to the pan and cook until crispy and golden, about 3 minutes per side. Place the tofu on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining tofu, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent scorching.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, shallots and thyme to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the shallots are slightly soft and beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in Marsala and simmer until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
Whisk the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch with broth and tomato paste in a small bowl. Stir into the mushroom mixture, return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and glossy, about 4 minutes. To serve, spoon the hot sauce over the tofu. (I put the tofu back into the saucepan to soak up sauce a bit then plated it)

Ingredient Note: Marsala, a fortified wine, is a flavorful and wonderfully economical addition to many sauces. An opened bottle can be stored in a cool, dry place for months—unlike wine, which starts to decline within hours of being uncorked.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gifts from the heart....

Isn't this firefly stepping stone beautiful? A couple of my girlfriends came up to visit me last friday for the day and they brought me belated birthday gifts! Although just having them visit was a gift. So my friend Dorissa is very crafty/artistic and she loves to do mosaics and is very talented at it. She knows I really like dragonflies and she made this amazing looking stepping stone for me.
This is from her garden as well, swiss chard.

I just had to use up some of that beautiful looking swiss chard so I threw this together. Saute up some swiss chard with garlic and olive oil. Then threw in some cannelini beans and brown rice. Wallah!!! A quick, healthy and yummy dinner. I ate this along with a wonderful glass of Rancho Sisquoc " Meritage" red wine, thanks to my friend Yvette. Girlfriends are the best!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friendship bread

My mother-in-law recently gave me an Amish Cinnamon Bread starter that she received from her Aunt back in Illinois. I did a little research on this bread and you can actually use the starter and make many flavors of breads from it, like pumpkin or chocolate. The cool thing about this whole friendship bread thingy is that after 10 days of mushing the bag, adding ingredients to it, you will have enough of the mix to make your own starter bags to pass on to friends along with the recipe. Thus the friendship part and the story-recipe continues. It's just one more thoughtful way to pass on a sweet and thoughtful treat to a friend.

As I was looking at the recipe I was given I noticed that on day 6 you add milk. Well I know for sure that my mother-in-law used soy milk but I'm sure her aunt didn't. I really wanted to make this bread and pass it along to my girlfriends so on the internet I went and I found a recipe for the starter. YAY!

The recipe says you can fill two loaf pans but I only have one and it's on the bigger side so I used to small bundt pans I had and it turned out great
When you give your friends a bag of starter include the Amish Cinnamon Bread recipe along with it. This would make a wonderful holiday food gift too!
Below are the recipes for the starter I found on-line and a the bread recipe that I adjusted.
Amish Bread Starter:
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups white sugar, divided
3 cups milk(any non-dairy will do)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.
On days 2 thru 4; stir starter with a spoon. Day 5; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Days 6 thru 9; stir only.
Day 10; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 cup to make your first bread, give 2 cups to friends along with this recipe, and your favorite Amish Bread recipe. Store the remaining 1 cup starter in a container in the refrigerator or begin the 10 day process with the recipe.
You will receive your starter in a zip-lock bag.
Store it on your kitchen counter.

Do nothing

DAY 2-5
Mush the bag two times during the day.
Add to the bag;
1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk(any kind non-dairy or cow)
Seal the bag, letting out as much air as possible.
DAY 7-9
Mush the bag two times during the day, letting out as much air as possible.
DAY 10
Squeeze contents out of the bag into a large mixing ceramic or glass bowl.
Add to the bowl: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Stir thoroughly, then measure out 1 cup starters in large zip-lock bags. Tomorrow starts Day 1 for the new bags. **Be sure to date the bags**

To the small amount left in the bowl, add 1 cup oil(1/2 cup oil &1/2 cup applesauce), ½ cup milk, 3 eggs(or Ener-G foods egg replacer equal to 3 eggs), 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups flour*, 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda. 1 cup raisins or nuts (optional).
Add the dry ingredients to the first mixture and mix well. Spray two loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray or any oil/shortening. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle batter with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean.

*Flour - you can use any kind. I used 3/4 cup white, 1/2 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup sorghum
Note*Don’t worry if you don’t mush your bag twice a day, it will be okay

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Halloween Birthday apple pie and decorations....

My mother-in-law used to make my cake but since we moved and we are vegan I'm making my own birthday desserts. That's okay cuz I like baking anyways. This year I decided to make an apple pie instead of a cake. We have so many apples left on the tree and I don't like wasting fruit. Also I didn't have to go out and buy any ingredients. I couldn't have been happier with the results. My husband ate all of his portion and said how good it was and he's not a fruit pie eater. He's the type that takes out the filling and adds a scoop of ice cream to the crust! So I took his comment as a big compliment.

Yes my birthday is on Halloween ! Some fun facts about me: 1) I love scary movies, not to much on the gore, just scary ones. When I was little I remember my older brother getting home from work late at night and my younger sister and I used to get out bed and watch old black and white monster movies with him. 2) My grandmother, my dad's mom(whom I was never able to meet because she passed away before I was born) was born in Transylvania, seriously, no joke! I was thinking this weekend that if I start believing I am a vampire maybe my mind will have an affect on my body and I will stop ageing. Just a thought. But the only problem is I love the sun. 3) Clowns scare me. I know I love to be scared but clowns aren't my thing.
I know I just said I don't like clowns and here we have a clown! My son just loves doing this to scare me.
Here are some Halloween pic's. I love to decorate for Halloween, well I do have a kid I have to for him! lol! I made this Halloween garland a few years ago and it's still holding up. I really like vintage halloween decorations. Below is a closer view of it.
My dining table.
Outside the house. We are already planning more fun stuff for the outside next year.
My husband is the one who does the carving of the pumpkins. This year and last I had to because he was too busy with work. I was ready to smash it while I was carving it because I was getting so frustrated and it was taking me forever and it's really not my job! Okay I'm settled down now. So the many compliments I received throughout the night on this pumpkin made me me verry happy. It did look even better in person.
My birthday was a pretty quiet one. This is our second Halloween up here and my family couldn't make it. My son went Trick or Treating with his 3 friends and my husband and I handed out candy. When trick or treating was over we took my son and his friends to the awesome haunted house in town. The people who put the Haunted House together are all volunteers and the $6 a person is worth every penny. They really go all out and they do a great job at scaring people. BOO!