Be My Valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day! And Happy Birthday Dad!
(more on HIS celebratory dinner at a later date)

Today marks both the national “holiday” and a bit of an anniversary for Kyle and I. A two and a half year one!

I wanted to do something special but definitely different. We are trying not to spend too much money since we’ve got a HUGE vacation coming up in.. oh.. 27 days. Not that I’m counting or anything..

So I made cheesecake. Vegan cheesecake. Vegan Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake.

Happy Breakfast to us!

I adapted it from the recipe for Peanut Butter Cheesecake from Vegan Pie in the Sky. For those of you that love a great dessert this cookbook is. a. MUST. I missed the fluffy, velvety goodness of cheesecake something fierce and this book certainly lets me have it whenever I choose! And the healthy way!

I only changed a few things in Isa’s drool worthy recipe. I swapped oil for the Earth Balance and unsweetened chocolate for half of the semi-sweet in the brownie crust. For the filling I used homemade almond butter for the peanut butter and pureed strawberries for the pureed banana and for the lemon juice it called for. I also left out the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar that were called for. I was a little afraid the strawberries would make the cake too acidic and it wouldn’t set right. I needn’t have worried. It was PERFECTION!

Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera to Kyle’s apartment for photos after we sliced it and I sent the rest with him to work. I look forward to the reviews of his coworkers!

Enjoy your “heart day” everyone!

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Revamping Strawberry Shortcake

A few Sundays ago, Kyle and I packed up to go to Carole and Dave’s house for a brunch. Brunch. It’s perfect for Sundays. Especially when you’re surrounded by family friends. One particularly awesome family friend (Miss Carole, that’s you!) who doubles as my personal seamstress. Carole is altering a dress for me to wear to a wedding we’re attending in Cincinnati. I’m totally stoked! Yes, stoked! I’ve never been to Cincinnati and we’re planning a trip to Three Sisters on our way through Indianapolis since they serve some hip looking vegan options.

Right.. back to the food!

Brunch consisted of an old favorite of mine from childhood. Skinnies. Skinnies are pretty much crepes that we stuff with chocolate chips, syrup, jams, jellies and anything else we can find. They skinnies are hot enough to melt the chocolate and they are a beautiful thing! I wrestled with myself for a bit on whether I should actually have any as they are not vegan. A few weeks ago I was reading some blogs that talked about just that situation. Sometimes there are more important things in life than the fact that I’m a vegan. I deemed this one of those times and told myself I should have one skinny. With chocolate chips and apricot jam.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think skinnies should be the next “big deal” recipe I adapt to be vegan.

Even though I told myself I was going to be eating a skinny, I decided to bring a brunch item of my own to share. The idea came to me almost immediately. I was going to revamp the strawberry shortcake. Modernize it if you will.

The idea started with coconut. I wanted to make a coconut butter and serve it with strawberries. I wanted to thin out the coconut butter to make a whipped cream consistency. After emailing Ashley from the Edible Perspective, I discovered it just wasn’t going to work the way I wanted. She suggested that canned coconut milk was the way to go. I had seen the recipe on her blog and was entranced by it. Before seeing her “cool whip” I had never thought that you could whip coconut milk into submission like that. Oh you sure can my friends.

Instead of going with a biscuit or cake for the “shortcake” part of this treat, I went with granola. Peppered balsamic granola.

The trio of flavors; pepper, coconut and strawberry; left me utterly speechless.

Carole and Dave loved the combination as well. We even put the coconut “whip” into our coffee. Kyle enjoyed his first skinny experience. After being “called out” on only having one skinny I found the diplomatic way to bring my veganism to the table.

It was accepted warmly.

No wonder I love these guys!

Strawberries and Granola with Coconut Whip
1 pint fresh strawberries

For the granola:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons flax seed
3 pitted dates
1 heaping tablespoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons apple juice (or water)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used pomegranate flavored)

For the coconut whip:
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge (out of the can)
3 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

The night before and preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Stick a metal bowl in the freezer along with your whisk. I used my Kitchen Aid bowl and whisk attachment.

In a blender, puree 2 tablespoons of the flax seed, dates, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the oil, apple juice, water and vinegar until smooth. Mix together oats, coconut and remaining tablespoon of flax seed in a large bowl, then pour in the wet mixture. Stir until evenly combined, then stir in the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Spread the granola mixture onto a nonstick baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes. I’m not sure exactly how long I baked the granola. I kept a very close eye on it (I burned my first batch), stirring it every 10 minutes, until it was lightly brown. Cool completely and store.

The next morning, rinse and quarter your strawberries. Set aside (not in the fridge) and get to work on that coconut whip!

Remove the coconut milk and whipping equipment. Whip the coconut milk on high until soft peaks start to form. Add in the sugar and extract, whipping for another minute until the sugar is well incorporated. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

When you’re ready dig in and ENJOY!!

Here a Bake, there a Bake..

For the past two weeks I have been obsessed with bakes. It all started over the Edible Perspective with her baked buckwheat post.

If you haven’t stopped by her site yet, I suggest you do. Her bakes have been popping up all over the blogging world, as well as the rest of her fabulous recipes. My breakfasts just haven’t been the same since I started reading oh-so-long ago.

There’s been a few flops before I really got it right here. Then I purchased an Italian made soup crock and started experimenting outside of buckwheat (mostly for fear of running out..).

I’ve had 3 major successes. All have been inspired by Ashley’s original recipe.

The first is a blueberry kamut bake.

Stuffed full of wild blueberries and topped with vanilla bean coconut butter!

Blueberry Kamut Bake
1/4 cup raw kamut, ground finely
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon raw buckwheat groats
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 banana, mashed
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal + 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup wild blueberries (for filling)

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your soup crock (or whichever baking vessel you choose to use). Mix up your flax egg and let that sit to the side while you’re working. Mix together your dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the banana, pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the egg and mix again.

Spoon half of your mixture into the baking vessel and flatten with a spoon. Arrange the blueberries on top of the batter so there’s a slight border around them. Spoon the rest of your batter on top of the blueberries and flatten. Bake for 30 minutes and top with whatever your heart desires. As is the case with most bakes. 😉

Next up is a Mexican Cocoa Bake.

I used the leftover “filling” from my Blueberry Lime Cheesecake from the other day as a filling for my bake. Can you say YUM?!

Mexican Cocoa Bake
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon raw buckwheat groats
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 flax egg
1/2 banana, mashed
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons non dairy milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Following the same procedure as above, whip those ingredients up and stuff the bake with whatever you choose. Be it leftover “cheesecake”, coconut, berries or even just leaving it unstuffed; all options would be wonderful!

The last (but certainly not the least) bake I have for you today is of the savory variety. I enjoyed the bakes so much I started to wonder why I couldn’t make them for dinner, too! So experiment I did!

In my opinion it turned out extremely well. So well that I think I’ll make a larger version for Kyle and I to share sometime. Comfort food: Indian style!

Stuffed Indian Chickpea Bake
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon lentils
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch ground cloves
1 flax egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons non dairy milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed

For the filling:
1 pitted date, diced
1/4 cup chopped frozen spinach
3 mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch cumin

Saute the date, spinach, mushrooms and spices in a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to brown a bit. Remove from heat, mix up your flax egg and get to mixing up that batter! Layer the ‘shroom mixture into the bake and stick that sucker in the oven!

This guy needs a little more oven time, so bake him for about 35-40 minutes.

I topped this bake with a little savory almond butter and a cranberry/chipotle/strawberry jam I threw together a few mornings ago.

I hope maybe there’s a bake that strikes your fancy in that list! I know I can’t stop with the bakes.

Once you start, you won’t be able to stop either..

I hope to be back tomorrow night for some exciting news!!

Blueberry Lime “Cheesecake” with a Kick

The internet connection I was getting in my house is now completely inactive.

That sucks.

Of course that’s what I get for not setting up my own internet connection.

So now I’m sitting at Starbucks, sipping on a sparkling water (my first time drinking this San Pellegrino stuff) and kicking myself for forgetting to download the pics of my newest bake from this morning!

Another time, another post I guess!

With the temperatures reaching the mid 70s yesterday, I was itching to spend the day outside. When I got home from work, Kyle surprised me with some yummy wraps for a picnic lunch. He roasted his own red peppers, caramelized some onions and placed them on top of a nice soft green onion tortilla with a layer of red pepper hummus and some romaine! He’s so sweet sometimes. 😉

We packed up those wraps with some extra snackables I had in the pantry and headed out to the park to soak up some sunshine. Leave it to me to soak up too much and burn myself.

Darn my fair skin.

Lunch was DELISH!

Afterward we wandered around outside the strip malls to soak up some more sunshine in small doses. We would have preferred to play frisbee, but the ground was SOAKED from 2 straight days of rain. Sadness.

After a while we started to feel peckish again.

Kyle offered to take me to my absolute favorite restaurant in this town, La Villetta. I was ecstatic! This place is the only place in town I’ve found that is super vegan-friendly. However odd my request may seem, they always get it right. And get it right with a smile.

I left the camera in the car and was too excited to take photos with my phone. I just wanted to enjoy our meal. I know, bad blogger!

We started with a free bruschetta appetizer (it’s customer appreciation month after all) and their yummy fresh bread. Kyle decided to get the endless soup, salad and breadsticks. I decided on pasta. The part I was most excited about: the marinara sauce. I have an obsession.

I. Love. Marinara.

I had fettucini cooked in olive oil with tons of fresh sauteed veggies. Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, onions and jalapenos all made it into the pool. Along with some garlic and oil. The marinara came on the side.

I have to say I was SO impressed with this that I will request it the next time we go in.

If you’re ever in the area and decide to go to La Villetta, be sure to ask for Melissa. She was the best server I’ve had in a long time (they’re all good but she was fantastic!)

After stuffing ourselves silly, we decided to walk some of that off by stopping at Walmart to pick up Season 5 of CSI. WOO HOO!

We hurried home to watch.

And make tarts.

This raw tart idea came from Vegan Culinary Crusade. I’ve been seriously drooling over this tart for almost 3 days and finally decided to make it. Kyle did deserve a yummy dessert after all his hard work from making lunch and taking me out to a fantasmic meal!

Boy was this thing worth the effort I put into it. I don’t think the filling whipped up as well as Lisa’s but it was tasty! To me it tasted just like cheesecake filling, but better! And way more nutritious!

Blueberry Lime “Cheesecake” with a Kick (adapted from Vegan Culinary Crusade)
1 cup raw walnuts
4 dates, pitted
pinch of salt

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
3 dates, pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons non dairy milk (I used soy milk, but you could use raw homemade milk to keep it completely raw)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fresh blueberries (or strawberries) to top

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, dates and salt until fully combined and formable. Press the crust mixture into tart tins, little souffle cups, shot glasses, whatever you’ve got that’s tiny and cute. Make sure to press up into the sides a bit so you can see the beautiful crust after you put the topping on. I got about 3 small tarts and a shot glass tart out of this recipe. Plus I had some filling leftover (which I used in my chickpea bake this morning..) Place the containers in the freezer while you make the filling.

Without rinsing the food processor, toss in the cashews, dates and cayenne and let ‘er rip. While the processor is on, add in the lime juice and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture comes together. It will look like a thick cream cheese mixture. I think mine took about 10 minutes.

Remove the tart shells from the freezer and fill them with that yummy cashew filling. Even out the tops of your filling a bit and place back in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to chow, remove from the freezer, top with blueberries or strawberries and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

You will enjoy this.

I guarantee it.

Check out Vegan Culinary Crusade. This woman is amazing and has fantastic recipes. I have so many of them bookmarked already and she just keeps adding more. I can’t wait to conquer another one!

Cookie Starts with C! Kooky does not.

Well hello there!

I’ve been pretty lax with recipes lately.

Sorry about that. I spent all day Sunday watching the first season of True Blood. A friend at work turned me on to it and now I can’t get enough. Yes a bit gorey and unnecessary at points (hey it is HBO), but a truly interesting story. I’ve placed a hold on the second season for when it gets returned to the library. Fingers crossed that it’s this week!

Anyhow, Sunday night left me baking a “cheesy” broccoli casserole!

I’m still working on the flavor, it was a little bland for my taste. That’s why I jazzed up the top with some sriracha! ❤

However, last night I got the urge to make cookies. I didn't want to wait for the oven to heat up so I looked up waffle iron cookies! Using the recipe for these yummy looking treats as a guide, I came up with a vegan version!

I was feeling ambitious. Crazy ambitious.

Sriracha-y!

I divided the batter into thirds, leaving one third plain, adding some sriracha to one third and then some dried wild blueberries and dried sage to the last third.

Blueberry and sage-y!

Nom nom nom!

Vegan Waffle Iron Cookies (makes 18-20 small-ish cookies)
1/4 cup earth balance
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 – 1 ounce (square) unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped up

Heat waffle iron according to instructions.
In a coffee mug, melt earth balance in the microwave. Add in maple syrup, soy milk, flax egg and extract. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal and baking soda. Stir in chocolate pieces. At this point if you want to section the dough and make different flavors, go ahead and do so! Use your imagination and go wild! If not, well, it’s time to make some cookies!

Open the waffle iron, spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Using a tablespoon (or smaller), drop dough onto hot waffle iron and close. Cook for about 3 minutes or until they start to look crispy! Carefully remove from waffle iron and cool completely on a rack before storing!

They’re great for snacking. They’re even greater on top of oatmeal.

Or even my “oatmeal”. After seeing an awesome use for textured vegetable protein as “oatmeal”, I created my own version this morning. Unfortunately I did not bookmark the site where I found it and cannot find it through searching.

But man oh man it was SO yummy!

Cran-banana “Oatmeal”
1/4 cup TVP
1 tablespoon pearled barley
1 tablespoon flax meal
2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
1/2 banana, sliced
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup water

Heat milk, water, banana and cranberries in a pot on the stove over medium heat until the milk is heated. Add in TVP, barley and flax meal and bring to a simmer. Make sure you keep an eye on the pot, it will boil over if given the chance! Cook the “oatmeal” until the barley is cooked to your liking. I cooked mine for about 10 minutes.

Top with walnut pecan butter and a waffle iron cookie!

Mmmmm!

Oat Fanatic

That’s me.  The oat girl. I can’t get enough.  

Morning oatmeal, overnight oats, granola.  I adore granola.  I rarely make it because I can’t stay away.  Really.  I’ll eat the entire thing if you let me.  Before it’s even cooled.

Since I used my last cup of rolled oats, I had to be sure to save some for breakfast.

Spicy and chewy, yet crunchy with a hint of sweetness from the banana. It was difficult to resist.

Good thing the book I’ve been jonesing for became available at the library! It might keep me occupied for a bit.

Spicy Banana Granola
1 banana
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 tablespoon oil (I used spicy sesame oil)
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon anise seed
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together oats, blueberries, coconut, cinnamon, anise seed, cayenne and nutritional yeast. Set aside. Puree banana, water, oil and flax, then add to the dry mixture and combine well. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet (I’m stubborn and didn’t grease it but it might be easier if you did) and stick that sucker in the oven. Using a spatula, I broke up the granola “sheet” into pieces about 15 minutes in, then checked on it every 10 minutes or so until it was crispy to my liking. Cool completely before storing or it won’t have any crisp to it!