Friday, December 31, 2010

Vegan Fondue Part Deux

Last year we decided to try fondue out with the kids on New Year's Eve. After enjoying ourselves so plentifully, we elected to make a tradition out of it.

This year we tried a few new things. We did broccoli, tofu, bread, bananas, and marshmallows again, but added seitan, black eyed pea fritters, and polenta.

We learned a couple of things. Seitan cooks much faster than tofu, so we'll skip the tofu next year. Little kids don't have a whole lot of patience for waiting. Polenta was more finicky and just crumbled with the first batch we made. It was best to cut it into larger chunks and fry it on a higher setting separate from the other food. In the future, I'd save it for last or single it our for its own pot.

To keep it more simple, we had three fondue pots going verses four (thanks to Auntie Camille for the loan). One pot contained Baker's Semi-Sweet chocolate, another had Leahy's Vegan Cheese Sauce, and the last was canola oil. We did bread and broccoli in the vegan "cheese." The oil worked well for the fritters, tofu, seitan, and polenta (you can do broccoli too).

Lastly, we dipped bananas and Dandies vegan marshmallows into the chocolate. This was by far the kids favorite, which was no surprise. You can see by the look on Elliott's face, he is pretty darn happy about the chocolate covered banana.

To celebrate the New Year's, we set a clock ahead and rang in the New Year with the kids at 7:45. They really got into the toasting part of tapping your cups/glasses together. It is always the small things.

If you are interested in making the Black-eyed Pea Fritters, I'll be posting the recipe soon. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jamaican Stuffed Savory Pastries

Although it was my first time making these, awhile back my husband made them, and I remembered them being quite tasty. I was eager for a shot at making them myself.

This isn't an appetizer you'll whip up quickly, if that is what you seek. I was lucky to have my hubby around this week, so I could work on these during the kids' afternoon nap.

Next time around, I've got a few ideas for speeding up the process. First, I'd probably chop it all in the food processor versus hand chopping it all. You have to let the filling cool after cooking it, which does add to the preparation time.

The adapted recipe originally comes from Cooking with Peta: Great Vegan Recipes for a Compassionate Kitchen. Although I am not a huge fan of PETA (I think the publicity stunts more hinder than help animals rights cause), the cookbooks we've received as gifts have been good.

Jamaican Stuffed Savory Pastries


2 large onions
2 Tbsp jalapeno peppers
3-4 cloves garlic
1 large tomato
1/2 cup green onions
2 tsp. curry
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein) reconstituted in 1 cup hot water and 2 Tbsp. of soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For brushing on top:

1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp. curry
9-11 sheets of phyllo pastry (depending on size you make them)

In food processor, combine onions, garlic, jalapeno peppers. Cook in frying pan with a very light coating of oil (less than a Tbsp) on medium heat until water cooks off. In processor combine the remaining ingredients, except for the TVP. Add to cooked mixture, and cook off the water again. Remove from stove and stir in the TVP. Let mixture cool.

For brushing the tops, combine vegetable broth and curry powder in the microwave until it dissolves well. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
Cut phyllo pastry into rectangles approximately 6 inches x 5 inches. Layer 3 to 4 rectangles on top of each other, then spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of filling onto the corner. Start to roll the pastry until you have rolled it halfway. Fold in the corners like an envelope and finish rolling (like an eggroll). Place seam down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops with veggie broth mixture. Cook in oven 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vegan Cookie Exchange

Last weekend I organized a vegan cookie exchange and have added treats to my ever growing list of favorites. My contributions were Tea Lime Pistachio and Cinnamon Pecan Swirl cookies.

The other participants brought Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles, Soft Chewy Molasses, and Lime Shortbread cookies. Lastly there were Chocolate Peanut Marshmallow bars, which were so rich and delicious.

Our greatest dilemma was determining which kind to eat whenever we had one or two or three. They were all quite good and a nice variety. The kids loved them all and gave their thumbs up to all the treats we brought home.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles

Tea Lime Cookies

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Cinnamon Pecan Swirl

Soft Chewy Molasses Cookies

Lime Shortbread Cookies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Drooling yet? They were as good as they look. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegan BBQ Wings

Sometimes you just need a quick meal. Despite your desire to turn to take out, there is probably a quick healthy option available at home. For us it was this one. It took less than 15 minutes to have it ready and on the table. We tried both Gardein's BBQ Wings and Alexia's Red Potatoes & Italian Vegetables for the first time.

The potato medley was pretty darn good considering it was frozen food. We'll definitely have these in the freezer for a night we need something really quick. We also had a wild rice pilaf (already cooked earlier in the day) which we re-heated. To top it off, we had pineapple which seemed like a nice compliment to the BBQ "Wings."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chick Pea Loaf

Something about winter makes me wish for a nice chickpea loaf. It was one of my son's favorite foods when he was a baby. It had been awhile since we had made it, so I wasn't sure of the reception it would receive.
Luckily it was a success! Once they tried that first bite, they both ate it all up. We adapted this recipe from, "The New Soul Vegetarian Cookbook."

Chickpea Loaf

2 cans of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) drained
3/4 to 1 1/2 cup croutons, bread crumbs or stuffing mix
1/3 cup canola oil
1 small onion
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sage
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 jar pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 325 F
Mix all ingredients excluding the pasta sauce in a food processor or grinder. Start out with less croutons/bread crumbs/stuffing mix, and add more to obtain a thick consistency, where it has to be spooned into the pan (it should stick to the spoon and have to be shaken off). Once it is well mixed, put it into a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Cook it for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add 1/2 a jar of pasta sauce on top of the loaf. Return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until the water cooks off the pasta sauce.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Savory Seitan Pot Pie

Every year, I make this for my husband's birthday. It is his favorite dish. Since this year was Thanksgiving, I shelved it for this weekend. It is one the recipes I used to make my way into his heart. As a man with a high metabolism, he loves good ole classic comfort food.

Since it takes a little more time to make, I've doubled the recipe. We always freeze the second one for a rainy day. You can cut in half to make only one pot pie. To simplify things, I buy store made crusts and only make the tops myself. You could certainly double the crust recipe and make the bottom crust yourself.

Pot Pie

1 lb. seitan
2 cups potatoes
1 bag frozen peas, carrots, and corn
1 medium onion chopped
1 3/4 cup water1
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 ready-made pie crusts

Pie covering
2-3 cups flour
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1/4- 1/2 cup water as needed

Boil cubed potatoes and save cooking water.

In a separate large stew pot, on medium low, saute onions in oil until they are tender. Next add the flour, and yeast. Whisk until creamy. Add 1 3/4 cup of cooking water and soy milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spices, potatoes, tofu or seitan, and frozen vegetables and continue to simmer. Simmer until the consistency desired is achieved (thicker pot pie sauce), then pour mix into the two ready-made crusts. Cover with pie crust dough (see preparation instructions below).

In bowl mix margarine into flour using a fork to press it down. Do this until the margarine is well mixed and starts to become doughy. Add water as needed to get mix to stick together, but use only a small amount (1/4 cup at most). Knead into a ball, then separate it to make two balls. Roll out with rolling pin, then cover pie. Slit a few lines in top crust and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Dairy Free Vegan Advent Calendar

Yesterday we got to start our vegan advent calendars we got from Vegan Essentials. The kids were so excited! Of course they were ready to eat the second day's chocolate as well. It will take a couple days for them to get the concept down.

In the meantime, I've had to put theirs into a locked cabinet, as Elliott already tried to burglarize his. I can't say I blame him, but it does take the fun out of it if you eat them all up right away.

If you missed the boat on getting one this year, order in early November next year as I've noticed they run out fast. Another option is to make your own or buy one you can put your own treats into each year.

There is a really cute log cabin one, which has a different forest animal behind each door at Gardener's, but the price has always been limiting to our purchasing it. This year I plan to see if it goes on sale after the holidays. It is always the best time to get any holidays decorations.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

White Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

Last summer my husband made an adapted version of these for my birthday, his first attempt at making cupcakes, and they turned out incredible. There were rave reviews all around from these tasty treats.

Every 7 years, my husband's birthday falls on Thanksgiving. This year happens to be one of those times, so we had cupcakes alongside the pecan pie and pumpkin pie truffles I made.

If you are living in the twin cities like me, you can pick up some vegan white chocolate at Ethique Nouveau, an all vegan store in town. If not, it available at many co-ops or Whole Foods. Still no luck? Try online from Pangea, Vegan Essentials, or try making your own. My adapted recipe is below. It will not disappoint!

White Chocolate Raspberry Filled Cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbsp vinegar


1/2 cup melted seedless raspberry jelly
1/2 cup frosting (see recipe below)

1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or margarine, softened
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp soy milk or coconut milk
8 ounces white chocolate, melted
1-2 Tbsp. raspberry powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F
First, mix the soy milk and coconut milk (beverage, not from a can) with vinegar and set aside to curdle. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and mix. Whisk together remaining curdled milk mixture with the lemon extract, oil and vanilla. Melt the white chocolate slowly in the microwave, heating it 30 seconds at a time, then stirring, and repeat until it has a smooth texture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with 2/3 cup of batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make filling, combine raspberry jelly and frosting until creamy. You can fill the cupcakes using a special tip made for filling baked goods, or cut out small cones from tops of cupcakes, filling them, then replacing the tops. The holes should be approximately 1/2″ across and 1/2″ deep). If you have the filling tip, insert it into the middle of the cupcake and fill it with about a tablespoon of frosting or to your preference.

To make frosting, beat margarine and shortening until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until creamy. Melt white chocolate as before, and add to frosting and mix well. Add vanilla extract and soy milk, and beat until fluffy (add more sugar and/or soymilk if you need it, until you get the right texture). Generously pipe or spread onto filled cupcakes. Top each cupcakes by sprinkling with raspberry powder, a raspberry, or a gumdrop. I often use fruit powders to flavor and/or color cupcakes, frostings, and other desserts.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Last Day, Simply Spaghetti

Well today I'm wrapping up my last post for vegan Mofo. While I didn't get in my five posts a week, I still feel that I did pretty well.

I will do my best to continue providing information about the cost of each meal I post. It illustrates how easy it is to feed your family vegan. Check out the USDA's four different meal plans, for an idea of the average cost to feed a family. In October this year, the low-cost to moderate plans ranged from spending $148.80 to $183.70 per week for meals. Our family easily falls into this range.

Many of the meals I made this month, would be great options for public school system's cafeteria food, which is often unhealthy. There is a great campaign led by PCRM to revolutionize the lunch program to provide more healthy options to our children. Fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and protein variety, what a concept!

Items Used for Meal:

1) Organic Spaghetti ($1.00, Trader Joe's)

2) Pre-made Falafel ($2.00, Costco)

3) Organic Marinara Sauce ($2.00, Trader Joe's))

4) 1/3 Package Organic Steamed Broccoli ($1.00, Trader Joe's)

5) 2 Organic Apples, ($1.00, Trader Joe's)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 20 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $7.00, or $1.75 per person

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Hearty Irish Stew

My son has been requesting this stew for awhile. Yesterday we finally got around to making it, or I should say my husband made it. He is always the one who makes it, because it is his recipe. We originally came up with the idea in the first place while looking for ideas of what to serve at our rehearsal dinner at The Local.

It is my favorite stew, and fits perfectly with the current brisk weather we've been having lately. Another possible name for it could be Irish Root Stew with rutabaga, sweet potatoes, carrots, and potatoes.

Hearty Irish Stew:

2 medium onions chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup unbleached flour
4 c. water
One package (8 oz or more) seitan
1 cup carrot, sliced into rounds
1 cup rutabagas, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes, diced
1 cup sweet potatoes
1/2 cup split red lentils
1 Tbsp. parsley
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 vegetarian or soy bouillon cubes
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. EACH parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (the hubbu insisted I type it this way)
salt and black pepper to taste


In a large, lightly oiled, heavy pot, steam-fry the onion and garlic until it begins to soften. Add the flour and water, then stir around thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are done.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Seitan ($3.79, Whole Foods)
2) 1 cup rutabaga & organic: potato, sweet potato, carrots ($4.00, Trader Joes & Whole Foods)
3) Lentils ($.25, Whole Foods)
4) Spices, flour, vegetable bouillion, soy sauce ($2.00, Whole Foods)
5) Organic Onions & Garlic ($0.50, Trader Joe's)
6) Nutrional Yeast ($0.25, The Wedge Co-op)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 15 minutes preparation & 30 minutes to cook

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $10.79, or about $1.79 per person (Note two bowls of soup make leftovers, so I divided the total cost by 6

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pecan Pie Truffles

A couple years back, I made these for the first time to substitute for pecan pie at our annual vegan Thanksgiving we host. Now I am not sure if you are familiar with any southern folk, but if there is one thing they take seriously, it is their pecan pie. In Georgia, where I was born, there are many pecan tree groves, and you can buy fresh bags of them on the side of the road. Essentially pecan pie is a Thanksgiving staple down there.

As they were passed around the table, my family each took one with a reluctant look upon their faces. I had made a test batch prior to the meal, so I knew they were amazing. After taking one bite, they all exclaimed, "this tastes EXACTLY like pecan pie." The recipe was requested after a few more truffles were consumed, and no one ever eats only one.

The recipe originates from VegNews, but I've slightly altered the recipe to make it more kid-friendly (ie almond milk instead of bouborn). There are more note-worthy changes in the technique, which I'll share with you below. They sell a eCookbook Holiday Cookie Collection, which contains the original recipe. If you are looking for more ideas, you should check it out. I highly recommend it.

Pecan Pie Truffles

2 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package of Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate

In a food processor, grind up graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Note that 1 packages of Keebler Graham crackers equals about a cup graham cracker crumbs. After they have been ground up, add in the remaining ingredients, mix until well combined. Using a plastic sandwich bag, squeeze the filling into balls about an inch in diameter. Place onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and put it into the freezer for a 2-4 hours.

Before removing them from the freezer, start melting three-quarters of the chocolate on the stove using a double broiler. I simply heat a small amount of water in a larger sauce pan on medium-low heat, and in a smaller pan nested in the larger one melt the chocolate. DO NOT let water get into your chocolate, as it will seize up. Once it is melted well, take it off of the burner and add the remaining chocolate. This tempers the chocolate so it dries with a nice shiny finish once it dries. Dip the balls into the chocolate to coat them well, then put them back onto the cookie sheet to harden.

Note: you can use chocolate chips, but it is more difficult to get them to temper properly. They will need to be put into the freezer to harden the chocolate or they will take a couple hours to dry.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cake Eater Bakery

Way back early last summer, I purchased a deal for 50% off of $40.00 worth of baked goods. I was quite excited to hear of another option for vegan goodies. If you've followed this blog you'd notice the heavy influence of my sweet tooth.

I really enjoy baking, so it took awhile to get around to using the coupon. We picked up four different types of cupcakes and a couple muffins. The cupcakes were: gluten-free, chocolate cinnamon, apple spice, and chocolate pumpkin. Lastly were the lemon black tea muffins. These were by far our favorite, though we couldn't taste the tea. My hubby wasn't fond of the crunchier outer edge of the muffins.

The cupcakes were okay, but I wouldn't spend $3 a cupcake there again. We wanted to like them, really wanted to. They weren't awful, but weren't anything to write home about. They all were more muffin like in texture than a cupcake. Some were really dry, while others too dense. Hopefully they will look further for great vegan recipes. In the meantime, skip the cupcakes and get a muffin. Maybe we caught them on a bad day, because the ones brought to the Vegkins Halloween party were getting good reviews. We'll probably check them out again, to be sure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

Remember those vegan pigs in a blanket I mentioned yesterday? Well we decided tonight we would have to take a shot at making them. The kids have never had them before, but were really excited to prepare them.

First and foremost though, Elliott had to confirm it wasn't really made out of pigs. Yep that is right, doing his mama and papa proud. I think compassion for ALL animals comes naturally to children if you allow it to develop on its own. That got me to thinking of a better name for the vegan version of pigs in a blanet. If you've got a good idea, please pass it along.

As you can see, the kids loved helping out again. They brushed the veggie dogs with some olive oil to help prevent them from drying out in the oven. We added a little vegan cheese in them, and wrapped them up. They were pretty tasty dipped in ketchup or mustard. Next time, we'll roll the dough out a little thinner, but other than that I wouldn't change anything.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Pre-made dough ($1.00, Trader Joe's),
2) 1 package of Smart life veggie dogs ($2.39 Trader Joes)
3) 1/4 block Cheezly Soy Free Cheese ($1.33, Vegan Essentials)
4) 1/3 Package Organic Steamed Broccoli ($1.00, Trader Joe's)
5) 1 pint Organic Raspberries, ($3.29, Trader Joe's)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 20 minutes, without kids it would have taken about 10-15 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $9.01, or $2.25 per person

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Truffles

I've been working on this recipe for awhile now. The first attempt at these was not so successful, because they were a challenge to roll into balls. They just didn't hold their shape, and quickly became soft when trying to coat them with chocolate. After a little tinkering I've finally created a recipe worth sharing with the world.

With no further adieu, my latest creation:

Pumpkin Pie Truffles

3/4 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 margarine (I recommend Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1 1/2 packages of Baker's Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate

In a food processor, grind up graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Note that 1 1/2 packages of Keebler Graham crackers equals 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs. After they have been ground up, add in the pumpkin pie mix (Note: not just canned pumpkin, it should have spices added to it) and margarine. Mix until well combined. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar, making sure it is well incorporated into the filling. Scrape the sides of the processor at least once before removing the filling. Place the truffle filling into the refrigerator for at least four hours, it will work best overnight.

The next day roll into balls about an inch in diameter. Place into the freezer for a couple hours. Before removing them from the refrigerator, start melting three-quarters of the chocolate on the stove using a double broiler. I simply heat water a small amount of in a larger sauce pan, and melt the chocolate in a smaller pan nested in the larger one. DO NOT let water get into your chocolate, as it will seize up the chocolate. Once it is melted well, take it off of the burner and add the remaining chocolate. This tempers the chocolate, so it dries with a nice shiny finish. Dip the pumpkin pie filling in the chocolate, until coated well and place back on lined cookie sheet to dry.

Vegan Mofo: Vegan Calzones

After the power was out for 3 1/2 days, we lost a lot of food. Yesterday a trip to the store to stock up was in order. When I saw vegan pre-made dough for only $1.00, I bought two of them as all the things we need to catch up swirled around in my mind. My poor hubby has been shouldering the brunt of the work, as I've been ordered by my doctor to really take it easy. A chance to make life easier on him was a no-brainer.

At first, I was going to make "pigs in a blanket" without the pigs of course, but then the idea of calzones popped into my head. Once that seed was planted, it had to be germinated. Instead of whipping it together really fast, we let the kids help out. They absolutely loved it, which reminded me to get them involved in dinner preparation more often.

I've never made calzones before, and just winged it. They turned out delicious, and we'll definitely be making them again. One thing I did learn was to make sure the crust pinched together is a little thicker next time. It made six large calzones (9" x 4"). My husband and I were circling the last one like hungry vultures, while waiting to see if the kids needed more. We democratically split it.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Pre-made dough ($1.00, Trader Joe's),
2) 1/3 Jar Organic Marinara Sauce ($0.67, Trader Joes)
3) 1/2 block Cheezly ($2.65, Vegan Essentials)
4) Yves Veggie Pepperoni ($2.69, Whole Foods)
5) 1/3 Package of Veggie Sausage ($0.67, Trader Joe's)
6) 1 pint Organic Raspberries, ($3.29, Trader Joe's)
7) 2 Organic Bell Peppers, one red and the other green ($3.18, Super Target)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 30 minutes, without kids it would have taken about 20 minutes
Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $12.15, or a little more than $3.00 per person

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Lunch Leftovers

You may have noticed I fell off the planet for a week. Please accept my apologies, as my neck was out, and then we had no power or access to the Internet from the winter snow storm last week. This is a post I started last week and didn't get to share.

Whenever I open the fridge and discover enough leftovers to piece together a tasty meal, it always a pleasant surprise. Today was one of those days. We had leftover Chick'n Scallopini, watermelon, butternut squash, avocado, and pita pockets with hummus.

Items Used for Meal:

1) Leftover Chick'n Scallopini ($ $1.31, Super Target)
2) Avocado ($1.00, Trader Joes)
3) Roasted Butternut Squash ($.50, Trader Joe's)
4) Whole Wheat Pita Pockets & Garlic Hummus ($0.50, Trader Joes)
5) 1/6 small Watermelon ($0.50, Trader Joe's)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 5 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Three: $3.81, or $1.27 per person

Tofu Spinach Quiche

Back in the spring we received an issue of VegNews, and there was a quiche recipe. I'd been thinking about trying one out, but been a little lazy about tracking down a recipe. My husband and I can hardly ever make something without altering the recipe, and while this one was good we spiced it up a bit. The original recipe was sans cheese, but we decided it would be a good idea to add some Cheezly.

Once it was done, we put it to the toddler test. My youngest chowed down, and our oldest was a little more reluctant with all that "green stuff" in there. In the end he picked the spinach and liked it pretty good. The leftovers were heavily coveted and it was a show down to see who would get the leftovers for lunch. Brian won.

The next time we made this, Brian pulvarized the spinach in the food processor. When we mixed it in the quiche looked like something out of Dr. Suess's "Green Eggs, and Ham." It was a scary electric green and didn't look appetizing. Ironically, Elliott had no problem eating it, since it had no "chunks of green stuff" in it. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner: French Toast & Hash Browns

Tonight we had the fun combination of daddy being sick and momma's neck issues flaring up. Since I was on my own, I didn't want to make anything too complicated. So tonight, we had vegan french toast, fresh hash browns, avocados, and veggie bacon.

It wasn't until about three years ago that I started making hash browns from scratch. After doing it though, I don't know why you'd ever buy frozen. All you need to do is wash the potatoes and then shred them in a food processor. It only takes 2-3 minutes total.

The french toast is so easy to make, and the kids love it.

French Toast Recipe

1 cup soy or almond milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl large enough to dip the toast into. Heat a skillet to medium heat with a very light coat of oil. dip toast into mix on both sides and then brown in pan on both sides (2-3 minutes each side). Makes 6-8 pieces of french toast.

Items Used for Meal:

1) 8 pieces of whole grain bread ($1.60, Cost-co)
2) French Toast Mix (~$0.50, Various)
3) Avocado ($1.00, Trader Joe's)
4) 4 Medium/Large Organic Red Potatoes ($1.00, Trader Joe's)

5) Veggie Bacon ($2.00, Whole Foods)
Total Time Spent Making Meal: 25 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $6.10 or $1.53 per person

Late Fall Baby Carrot Harvest

Today in Minnesota, we had unseasonably warm weather. These days we are spending as much time outside as possible with the thought of a long cold winter looming. It was the perfect opportunity to harvest the last carrots from the garden.

This was our first year with our raised bed gardens, and I've learned a lot. It is nice to still be able to harvest this late in the season. Next year I will NOT be planting baby carrots again. While they aren't a lot of work, it just doesn't make sense to grow such a small carrot in limited space.

The kids are excited about eating them and they really do taste much better than what you get at the store. Yes, these still need to be washed, but I can't wait to eat them!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan Mofo Dinner: Burritos and Enchiladas

Mondays always seem to be a hectic day for meals, so we usually go for simple. Anything with refried beans is usually a hit with the kids. Their favorite type is black beans. Mama and daddy appreciate the simplicity of the meal.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Can of Organic Refried Beans ($1.59, Seward Co-op)

2) Organic Tortillas (*$2.00, Seward Co-op)

3) Avocados ($1.50, Trader Joe's)*

4) Organic Tomato ($1.00, Seward Co-op)

5) Mango ($1.29, Trader Joe's)*

6) Organic Red Onion, ($.0.50, Trader Joe's)

7) Organic Rice and Quinoa ($1.50, Trader Joe's)*

8) Cheezly ($3.00, Vegan Essentials)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 15 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $ 12.34 or $3.10 per person

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Mofo Lunch: Chick Pea Sandwiches

Today's lunch was a simple one that took a little over 5 minutes to whip up. It is always imperative to have quick, simple lunches for the busy days.

Since we ate a little late, I missed the opportunity to grab a picture before the food was devoured. That is what happens whenever we eat late.

Anyways, we ate chickpea sandwiches, watermelon, steamed broccoli, raw carrots, hummus and pinneaple. To make the chickpea sanwiches, all you do is mash up a can of chickpeas and mix in Nayonaise or Vegenaise (1/2 - 3/4 cups) with a little garlic and onion powder.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Can of Organic Chickpeas ($1.50, Whole Foods, Eden Organics because the can isn't lined with BPA), 2) 3/4 cup Nayonaise (*$1.00, Whole Foods)
3) 1/3 Bag of Organic Broccoli ($1.00, Trader Joe's)*
4) Organic Baby Carrots ($0.50, Trader Joes)*
5) 1/4 small Watermelon ($0.75, Trader Joe's)*
6) 1/8 Pinneapple, ($.0.50, Trader Joe's)
7) Organic Bread for three sandwiches ($.0.90, Trader Joe's)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 5-7 minutes

Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four (Auntie was over for lunch): $6.15, or a more than $1.50 per person

*Item cost only includes the cost of the amount used. For example, the watermelon cost $3.00, but we only ate about 1/4 of it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 4

Not starting out so great with this Mofo thing. In all fairness, yesterday I was dealing with a pre-schooler who had the stomach flu. I'll spare you the details, but blogging was the last thing in my mind. Yesterday's meal was put together with my son's illness in mind, not noteworthy.

Sorry for the low quality picture. I just snapped it with my phone. Next time, I'll make sure to get a better one.

Tonight's dinner consisted of baked tofu (pre-made), roasted butternut squash, roasted spinach chips, and fresh raspberries. I prepared the squash last night, since we were making boxed vegan mac and cheese, steamed potatoes, and banana.

Baked Tofu (1 1/2 packages, $5.00, Whole Foods)
Roasted Butternut Squash (1/2 butternut squash $1.25, Trader Joe's)
Organic Roasted Spinach Chips ($3.00, Trader Joe's)
Couscous (prepared half a box, $1.50, Trader Joe's)
Fresh Raspberries ($3.29, Trader Joe's)

Time Spent Making Meal: 20 minutes + 10 minutes (squash made yesterday)
Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $14.04, or $3.51 per person

Vegan Cupcake Cuties

While I enjoy making tasty cupcakes, it is fun to find simple ways to decorate them. I conjured up this monkey and lion design, because Evie loves animals. It made them all the more special at birthday parties where the cake wasn't vegan.

The best part is they are easy to make and take no time at all!

To make the monkey, I used peanut butter Oreos, but haven't been able to find them in stores anymore. Luckily, Newman's makes an organic vegan version of them. All I did for the monkey's face, was shape some marzipan to make the snout, and chocolate chips for the ears. The rest is just piped chocolate and vanilla icing.

The lion is made from Anna's cookies with marzipan to make the face and ears. The features are piped chocolate icing and pink tinted vanilla frosting. Next time around, I'll probably cut up a fruit leather or gun drop to make the nose. 

Cupcake on Foodista

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan Mofo!

Being that I'm only a year into the blogosphere, I'm a Vegan Mofo virgin. Even still, I decided to take the plunge this year. Hopefully I'm able to get in the recommended 20 posts this month. It would be a record for me, but I'm always up for a challenge. If you are wondering, "What the heck is Vegan Mofo?" click on the link to find out.

Demonstrating affordable, easy, and healthy vegan meals has always been a subject I wanted to tackle. So often people tell me, "I don't have time to cook" or "being vegan is too hard/expensive." During this month I hope to dispel these common misconceptions about a vegan lifestyle. While I still reminisce the days of leisurely spending time cooking in the kitchen, those days are long gone now that Elliott and Evelyn have arrived. Little kids do not understand waiting when they are hungry, so our schedule is limited by our 5:30/6:00 dinner start time.

My goal is to provide information about the time spent and cost of the meals I post, as well as whether or not it is all or partially organic. Our family always aspires to buy organic as much as possible, but like most people have to do so within our budget. We try to keep in mind which items are known to be particularly high in pesticides and either purchase organic or alternatives.

Now on to the good part, the food! Today was a quick meal that only took about 10 minutes preparation time and another 15 minutes of cooking time. It is noteworthy that while it was 25 minutes total to get it all ready, I wasn't always working on the meal during that time. This dinner consisted of Chick'n Scallopini lightly fried, sesame roasted asparagus, steamed potato medley, fresh raspberries, and french bread.

Items Used for Meal:
1) Chick'n Scallopini ($3.50, Super Target)
2) Bunch of Aparagus ($3.29, Trader Joe's)
3) Steamed Organic Potatoes, types: Yukon, Red, Blue, and Sweet Potatoes (approx. ~ $3.00, Trader Joes
4) Organic Raspberries ($3.29, Trader Joe's)
5) 2 Medium French Bread, ($2.50, Trader Joe's)

Total Time Spent Making Meal: 25 minutes
Total Cost of Meal for Family of Four: $15.58, or a little less than $4 per person

Dinner is by far the most expensive meal each day, so I'll be sure to include some breakfasts and lunches
No idea what it costs to feed a family of four on average per week? Check out the information at the USDA.

World Wide Vegan Bake Sale

We participated in the World Wide Vegan Bake sale this year. I made truffles again. My son thinks that Ethique Nouveau is the bake sale store, since he has been to two bake sales there. It was a lot of fun trying out and making up some new recipes. I did coconut, cookies and cream, raspberry, almond, and pumpkin pie. These new additions were pretty good. After making them, I am toying with the idea of selling them on Vegan Etsy, but just haven't gotten around to researching all that entails. It would be great to help supplement out family's income a little bit.

If you are interested in making some of your own truffles here are some recipes.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

I made these babies the first time last year right before Halloween using a recipe I found online. After making it a few times, I've tweaked it to what I consider perfection. Since there have been a few requests for the recipe, I decided to post it here. Enjoy!

1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 tsp. vinegar
1 1/4 cups Cake Flour (I use King Arthur's Unbleached Cake Flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add muffin liners to a muffin pan.

2) Add vinegar to the soy milk to allow it to curdle.

3) Sift together all the dry ingredients excluding the brown sugar: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add brown sugar and mix well with other dry ingredients.

4) Add to the dry ingredients: oil, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and curdled soy or almond milk. Mix on low until just combined, making sure to scrape the bowl once. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Cook in oven for 15 - 18 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Frost cupcakes with maple frosting after the cupcakes have cooled completely.

Maple Frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine (I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 cup shortening
2 Tbsp. almond milk or soy milk
1 1/2 tsp. maple extract

Mix together the extract, margarine, and shortening until creamy. Add powdered sugar and milk in batches, alternating between the two of them until well mixed. Scrape bowl a few times between mixing. Once well combined, fluff frosting by mixing for 5 - 7 minutes. Frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled.

Cupcake on Foodista

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Magical Pink Salt, Getting Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies

A common question that people often ask is, "How do you get them to eat that?" Typically it is in reference to vegetables, but not always. Our kids often eat all their broccoli or cauliflower first and ask for more before eating anything else. No we are not miracle workers. There are a few simple ways you can achieve the same willingness to try new things, and often new foods will become well liked.

1) Eat the vegetables yourself. It sounds silly, but kids notice what you eat. I put this one first, because I think it is the most important. You are your child's model. Every time I sit down at the table to eat, I start with my veggies because they pick up on that. Typically a child will eat what they like best first, so when they see you chow down all your broccoli first it makes an impression on them. I've actually watched my son observe me doing that, and then pick up whatever I was eating, finish it off, and ask for more.

2) Try, try, try again. If they don't eat it, continue to offer it to them even if they leave it on their plate. Eventually they will try it. Trust me on this one. It may take 20 times, but you will break them down.

3) Never force them to eat more than a bite. Trying the food should be praised with a "nice job trying that" and then move on. Don't make a big deal about it, because if you do they will file it away as a way to push your buttons later or create a power struggle.

4) It's all in a name. Be creative with what you call the food. If they like dinosaurs, call broccoli dinosaur trees. Our kids eat roasted kale and spinach because we call them kale or spinach chips. What kid doesn't want to eat chips? Once we made polenta patties and my son wouldn't eat it. The next time I made it, when I presented it as a corn chip he ate three of them. Since my kids like broccoli, I called cauliflower "white broccoli." I'm not wild about being dishonest, so once they eat a new food and proclaim it edible, I always say, "this is also called X."

5) Special colors or pointing out brightly colored food, often makes something appealing. I recently bought unprocessed Himalayan pink salt, and used that as a motivator to try new things. Whenever they were reluctant and it was appropriate to add salt, I offered the "cool" pink salt. It worked like a charm. My son also really like the fact that he could grind it himself.

6) Try new things when they are really hungry. If they eat poorly at breakfast, try something new at lunch. Put out the new food first.

7) Grow your own vegetables and have your child help. Even if it is simply putting seeds in the ground, watering, or pulling up carrots. They really enjoy learning about where food comes and being a part of the process. You don't need to start a huge garden, just try one or two things that you'd like your child to learn to eat.

8) Have them help prepare the food. The first time our son had cauliflower he ate tons of it, because he helped break it up into smaller pieces.

These are what worked for us, and I am not claiming in any way to be an expert. The majority of these ideas came from books or ECFE. Right now my son is in a really picky stage, so we have to work harder to encourage him. My daughter is still at the "eats most anything" stage. We'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vegkins Halloween Party

This year, the vegan/vegetarian family group which I lead, Vegkins, had a Halloween party. We decided to make it a potluck to take the burden off of organizers to prepare and purchase all the food. That worked out really well using evite's potluck option, so everyone could select a variety of dishes to bring.

The Animal Rights Coalition graciously paid for the room rental at a local park's recreational room. A couple parents chipped in to pay for the rest of the items (prizes, dinner ware, crafts, and treats). Overall it was a big hit.

The turn out was really great, and the families had a nice time. If you are interested in planning a vegan Halloween party in your city, I recommend contacting local animal rights groups for help getting the word out and organizing.

Considering the success of this year's party, I know we'll be having another one next year.

Walnut Butter

Lately, I've been thinking about Omega's and getting them directly from the source as much as possible. I know walnuts are a source of them and have often wished there was pre-made walnut butter at one of the stores we frequent. It would probably be too ridiculously expensive, and after making it myself I've been contemplating making more of the nut butters we use. It was so ridiculously easy I wish that I'd discovered it earlier.

My new favorite lunch is a toasted pumpkin butter and walnut butter sandwich. It tastes like fall to me. Anyways, it is a big hit with the kiddos. Here is how you make it:

3 1/2 cups walnuts
1-3 Tbsp of Maple Syrup and/or Just Like Honey
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast the walnuts on an ungreased pan for 10 - 20 minutes. They will start to smell like a roasted nut, when it does take them out. Let them cool, then put them in a food processor and let it run for 3-5 minutes, stopping to scrape sides a few times. After it starts to look like a nut butter add the salt, maple syrup and/or Just Like Honey. I used equal parts maple syrup and Just Like Honey and just a dash of salt. Be careful with the salt it doesn't really need to be much more than a dash of salt. Of course, no sweetener is required, I just preferred it that way. Run processor another 2 -3 minutes to be sure it is mixed well. Put the walnut butter in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vegan S'mores Bars

I made these tasty treats for a bake sale back in August, "Goodies for the Gulf." Once I saw a non-vegan recipe for these, I couldn't get them out of my mind. After a couple attempts and few modifications I came up with the recipe below. They are so delicious I promise they won't last long. I recommend waiting at least sampling a taste about 20 minutes after they come out of the oven. The chocolate will still be melty, gooey and oh so yummy!

Vegan Smores Bars
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup "butter" (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
2 Ener-G Replacer "Eggs"
2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups crushed graham crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 bag of Dandies vegan marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Cream together sugar and margarine until fluffy. Add vanilla and "eggs" and beat well. In a separate bowl mix together graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder. Slowly add dry mixture to the wet until well combined. Separate the dough in half. 

Roll out the first half of the dough with a rolling pin to line the bottom of the pan with the graham cookie crust. Next, layer the chocolate chips over the cookie crust, and then layer with marshmallows. Lastly, roll out the remaining dough to layer on top. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 25- 30 minutes. Let bars cool completely before serving. To speed up the process, wait 15-20 minutes after removing the bars from the oven and then place it in the freezer for half hour to an hour.

Hint: to create a smooth crust, make graham crackers crumbs in a food processor so they are nice and smooth.