First Veganversary!

My how time flies!

One year ago today I decided to try eating vegan for 30 days. Well I sure stuck with it for a LOT longer and I couldn’t be more pleased. The best part is the impact my diet has had on those around me. My older cousins are eating vegan meals on their own a few times a week. My 11-year-old cousin was excited to find a recipe for vegan cupcakes in her cupcake cookbook. My aunts and coworkers are asking me for healthier substitution options in their recipes. My parents have started only buying organic meats at the grocery store and are eating meatless meals a few times a week. I’m so proud of my loved ones!

To celebrate, I whipped up some chili! I used a recipe in one of my cookbooks and substituted the heck out of it. It’s got an awesome combo of grated tempeh, roasted potatoes, black beans, lentils, sun dried tomatoes and corn.

The best part?

It made a VAT and now I’ve got leftovers for the week!

Now to go grab some vegan cheesecake from the freezer (thanks to one of my awesome Christmas presents.

Happy belated New Year to all! Both Chinese and otherwise!

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Eat your Oats!

Short post today. Supershort.

Let me just say that vegan overnight oat parfaits are perfection.

Oh yes, perfection.

Whether it’s your first attempt (chocolate) and it’s too liquidy..

Or your second attempt and it’s just right..

This Goldielocks is one happy camper!

All thanks to Angela over at Oh She Glows.

Happy Easter, everyone!

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!

Hands Off, Charlie Brown

Obsessed for weeks with the idea of minty nut butter, I took the plunge tonight. At first I was a worried that it would be too bitter, too strong.

But Leon was standing there, ready and willing to whip the ingredients into submission.

So we attacked that mint extract and cocoa powder, forcing it to coexist with the walnuts and almonds. The result?

Heaven on a spoon.

I called it Peppermint Patty Butter at first, but it tastes more like a Thin Mint. Mmm.. liquid Thin Mints.

Now that’s dangerous.

Peppermint Patty/Thin Mint Butter
2 cups raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut
2 dates
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Roast walnuts and almonds on separate cookie sheets at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, puree nuts, cocoa powder, coconut and dates until a smooth butter forms. This should take about 10 minutes. With the food processor running, add in extracts and salt.

Enjoy!

The Best $50 Purchase

Today the clouds parted and the sun shone down on the newest addition to my kitchen:

I finally splurged and bought this bad boy. I originally went in to Kohls for the discontinued model. However, they were sold out of the discontinued model and sold me the stainless steel model for the same price! With my coupon and some Kohls cash, the total came to $52.05!! Entirely worth the wait!

Last night I had whipped up some savory almond butter after drooling over Ashley’s recipe over at the Edible Perspective. Though the flavor was phenomenal, the consistency of my delicious creation was the last straw for my clunky food processor.

Leon (I have named the “new guy”) turned this:

into this:

All together now..

MMMMMMMMM!!

Smoky Savory Almond Butter (adapted from the Edible Perspective)
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
2 tablespoons raw cashews
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 drops of liquid smoke (optional)

Roast almonds at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes while you combine all remaining ingredients, reserving only the cashews and liquid smoke. Place almonds, cashews and liquid smoke in food processor and blend until the almonds start to turn creamy. Add in spices and continue to blend until desired consistency is reached.

Then try to keep the spoon out of the jar. 😉

Neat-o Cool!

I want to start off this post by saying that tonight I had the best “neat”loaf I’ve ever had. Technically it’s also the first I’ve ever had, but it will not be the last! The best meatloaf prize still goes to Kyle’s mom. =)

More on dinner in a bit.

Last night was a blast! It was great to see the family and my little niece.

She is way too cute for her own good!

We made pizzas. Lots of them.

NOM!

Dad's cutting up their deep dish creation!

I made myself a veggie one and proceeded to eat 3/4 of the thing myself!

Worth every bite! Every veggie that was laid out ended up on this bad boy!

I blame it on these:

Mom’s margaritas go down too easy. =)

I got tonight’s recipe for Neatloaf over at Oh She Glows. Angela absolutely NAILED the texture of real meatloaf with her recipe for the Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf. My friend Melba enjoyed her first vegan meal with this recipe. I was happy to be the one to make it for her!

This recipe made a lot of food! Last week I was all about my Split Pea and Potato Soup and this week is all about the split peas in this loaf! I’m way too excited for lunch!

I was too excited to eat this and didn't take many photos!

I followed Angela’s recipe almost exactly. Why change perfection? My differences were to use yellow split peas instead of lentils.. are they the same thing? I really didn’t know but just assumed I could swap them easily. I was right in that regard! Anyway.. let’s see.. I also left out the carrot and added a 1/2 ounce bag of dried crimini mushrooms in with the lentils while they were cooking. I added 1/4 teaspoon of Liquid Smoke (the company proudly claims that they are vegan and gluten-free right on the label. Mega cool of them) and used the toasted bread method for the bread crumbs. I pureed 75% of my onion mixture as well as the lentil mixture since my chunks of onion were pretty large.

You know what else? I made my own ketchup to go on top.

Oh yes I did.

It was easy but really messy. Just an fyi: warm homemade ketchup just tastes like marinara sauce. As it cooled I noticed it tasting more like ketchup. Maybe that explains why I like to eat spaghetti right out of the fridge..

Homemade Ketchup
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cloves crushed and diced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
pinch of salt
pinch of cloves
pinch of cinnamon

In a medium pot over medium heat, add all ingredients and heat until it just starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the tomatoes from burning. Cool and puree in a blender. Store in the fridge and try not to just eat it with a spoon..