Thursday, 12 May 2016

Tomato & Basil Baked Polenta

Polenta is easy and you can add whatever ingredients you like to change the flavour.


Tomato & Basil Baked Polenta

Ingredients

8 cups water/stock (if using water season with salt)
2 cups grits/polenta
1/2 cup butter
1 can chopped tomatoes (I use this in place of one of the cups of water)
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup vegan Parmesan (optional)
Olive oil (for serving)


Method

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Add polenta, stock, butter and canned tomatoes to a saucepan, stir and heat on medium-high until mixture is thickened.
Add in sun dried tomatoes, basil, green onions and Parmesan.
Pour mixture into a greased baking pan and bake for 30-45 minutes.
If you prefer you can set the polenta in the fridge and then just bake slices.
Serve with vegan Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Turkish Lentil Soup

Another outstanding recipe from Vegan Richa. I love this soup because it's so hearty and so full of flavor. I doubled this recipe to get 4+ serves but I wouldn't double the red pepper flakes again because I found it too spicy (I'm a delicate flower). I really liked it with the squeeze of lemon, especially with the spice. I tried it with and without blending and blending really made the flavors come alive.


Turkish Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 tsp oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
⅓ cup chopped carrots, 4 baby carrot or 1 medium carrot
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp or more black pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tomato chopped
1-2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, or use ½ tsp dried mint
½ cup red lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
Mint, lemon juice and olive oil for garnish


Method

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic and pinch of salt and cook until translucent. 5 minutes.
Add the carrots and the spices and mix well.
Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the tomato, tomato paste and mint and mix and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the red lentils, water and salt and mix.
Partially cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for a few more minutes until the lentils are tender to preference. (I found I needed an extra 10 minutes for the carrots to soften).
Taste and adjust salt and spice and mix in.
Add more water if needed.
Cool slightly and blend with an immersion blender or regular blender.
Serve in bowls with a garnish pepper flakes, lemon juice, a few drops of olive oil and chopped fresh mint(optional).

Friday, 29 April 2016

Newly Discovered Vegan Products - April 2016

 With my 10 week old baby I have't really been buying a lot of vegan processed foods - more living off Amy's vegan microwave meals but here are some I've accumulated over the last few months...

As scrambled eggs I found it a bit rubbery but mixed with vegan milk and cheese and used as an omelette and it was quite delicious!
Also worked very well in baking.



This Organic Ah!Laska Chocolate Syrup has probably been around for some time but I recently discovered it at Target. Vegan and organic it's a delicious chocolate syrup for choc milk or ice-cream sundaes!



I think I found these Engine 2 Plant Strong Patties at Wholefoods. I bought two types - this one is Tuscan Kale and While Bean. I think the other one has fennel. Both very delicious and hearty!


I've bought a few of Follow Your Heart dressings before but had never tried these too...Honey Mustard which was soooo good and Vegan Bleu Cheese which was great as a dipping sauce!



Discovered these Lucy's Vegan/Gluten Free cookies at the commissary on base. They are SO GOOD! I loved both flavors but the Chocolate Chip was my favourite. Nice and crunchy - perfect for dipping in my tea ;)


Friday, 22 April 2016

Ziti

I made this for the kids and they loved it, I loved it too!! I'm not sure if it's really Italian as I'd never heard of it before coming to America but it is a great idea. You could add in your favourite vegetables at the onion stage instead of vegan ground beef also :)


Ziti

Ingredients

1 packet of ziti pasta (I used penne as I couldn't find GF ziti)
1-2 cups vegan shredded cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar & Mozarella mixed)
1 jar marinara sauce
1 container vegan ricotta (I used Tofutti)
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbls olive oil
1 packet of vegan ground beef (I used Beyond Meat)


Method

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook pasta till al dente then put aside.
In a pot heat oil on medium then add onions.
When onions have cooked to a transparent appearance add the ground beef.
Heat through ground beef and then stir in marinara sauce.
Once heated through add in ricotta and mix well.
Pour pasta into sauce and mix well.
Pour the pasta and sauce mix into a greased baking tray.


Top with vegan shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes.


I melt my cheese first on the stovetop with a bit of almond milk just to make sure it's melted.




Monday, 11 April 2016

Mixed Berry & Cream Cheese Muffins

I adapted this recipe from myrecipes.com and changed it up a bit. They used frozen raspberries which would be delicious also! These were really good, the batter is divine so try not to eat it all before you've made your muffins!
Vegan white chocolate chips would also be great!
I found I needed around 30 minutes to bake and I got 12 muffins and 8 mini muffins out of this mix - not sure you'd get 24 decent sized muffins as the original recipe suggested.


Mixed Berry & Cream Cheese Muffins

Ingredients

2/3 cup (5 ounces) vegan cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup vegan butter, softened
1 1/2 cups vegan sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg replacers
2 cups all-purpose GF flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan milk (I used coconut & almond blend)
2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berried or raspberries
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts


Method

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl.
Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended.
Add sugar; beat until fluffy.
Add vanilla, egg replacers; beat well.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and milk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Gently fold in berries and walnuts.
Place 24 foil cup liners in muffin cups. Spoon batter evenly into liners.
Bake at 350° 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Vietnamese Rice Bowl

This is an adaptation from a recipe I saw in Family Circle magazine. I added whatever vegetables I had that I thought would taste good. I also added the coconut milk as I wanted to use up some left overs I had - tasted pretty good! Not sure why it's called a rice bowl and not stir fry since you just pour it over the rice but anyway...


Vietnamese Rice Bowl
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 block hard tofu, drained, pressed and cut into small cubes
2 Tbls minced ginger
1 Tbls chilli paste (I used sambal oelek)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls vegetable oil
4 green onions, sliced
4 cups cooked white rice
Fresh mint or cilantro for serving
Lime wedges for serving

Vegetables as per taste;
Chinese cabbage I used steamed collard greens)
Bamboo shoots
Mushrooms, sliced
Red/Green Pepper, chopped
Carrots, slices and steamed

Sauce:
2 Tbls vegan brown sugar
2 Tbls lime juice
5 tsp vegan fish sauce
1/2 can coconut milk (optional)


Method

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large frying pan heat oil on a medium and add tofu, ginger, chilli paste and garlic.
Add I vegetables and cook till heated through or to your desired firmness.
Stir in green onions at the end.
Pour over sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Serve over rice and top with fresh herb of choice and lime wedges on the side.



Saturday, 19 March 2016

Cloth Diapering

For me cloth diapering was a financial decision for me but it's inadvertently an environmental one! You don't use much extra water and think of all the landfill/pollution you save! Plus the resale value on the diapers and equipment is great. If you buy new all your equipment can set you back an upfront cost of around $300+ but that's it and you can get around half or more back when you sell. As you can see below, I only spent around $250. Disposable diapers will set you back up to $1000 a year, and that's if you're NOT buying the eco-friendly ones! Disposables might be necessary in the first few weeks before the baby reaches a weight that fits into the cloth diapers but even so it's a huge saving to you and the planet! I bought most of my baby stuff secondhand (except the crib and car seat which are recommended to buy new) because of the cost difference and the environmental impact.


I bought all my diapers and inserts secondhand from KSL for $150 so if you're not opposed to secondhand cloth diapers then it's a really cheap way to do it. I purposely bought one size diapers because I knew I wouldn't have to buy any more as the baby grew. I have FuzziBunz which I researched as being one of the better reviewed brands. I got 22 diapers and 2 inserts for each which is around what you need (20-25 diapers). Adjust to babies size. My baby is 11 weeks and 11 lbs and I used the tightest setting on the diapers, on the legs I use a 3 one end and 4 the other end tightness.


I made my own wipes which cost around $10. I bought 2 yards of white flannel (washed the fabric first) and cut it up into squares. I rounded off the edges and just sewed a serge stitch around the edges. So easy!!!


I bought the Munchkin wipes warmer from a thrift store for $5. Again you don't need this, especially if you are planning to use disposable wipes.


I bought some PUL fabric on sale for $15 and made 2 diaper pail liners, 4 different size wet bags and still had 1/2 yard left over from 2.5 yards. I had left over material to make a baby laundry bag that hangs on the end of the change table.



I bought my toilet spray/hose on eBay for $15 thinking I was getting a great bargain (most of the cloth diaper brands are around $50) but then I had to spend $20 getting attachments from the hardware so it costs around $30+ dollars for this addition. If you have a sink in your laundry already you may not even worry about it! I installed it myself using YouTube videos. The guy at Lowes kindly put the parts together for me when I bought it so I wouldn't have to figure that out ;)


I got a diaper pail on eBay for $30 (incl shipping). It came with a bunch of the plastic bags which are handy when you're using disposable diapers in the beginning.


Guide to Cloth Diapering
  1. If soiled, knock off solids into the toilet then spray the diaper and wipes till look clean (I do this part in the bath tub as the toilet is a hard target with a spray).
  2. Add to your diaper pail.
  3. Once diaper pail is full remove all inserts before washing and spray any stains.
  4. Wash on hot using special detergent (traditional ones have soap which can coat the diapers and make them less absorbent).
  5. Air dry in sun for bleaching effect or put in cloths drier on low heat. I find I have to wash every 1-2 days.
  6. Once dry replace the inserts and fold wipes. 



Great Recipe for DIY Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent from Measuring Flower.

Ingredients

1/2 to 1 c. epsom salt (the harder the water, the more salt)
1/2 c. washing soda (Brambleberry)
1/2 c. baking soda (Brambleberry,
1/2 c. baby OxiClean

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a container.
To use, add 1 tablespoon (more for heavily soiled items) to the wash.

Notes
About Clumping: Depending on the humidity of where you live, sometimes this recipe will clump. This can be alleviated by pulsing the powder in a blender or food processor.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Vegan Omelette with Egg Replacer

I made a pretty good omelette Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg. My local health store ordered it in for me pretty easily and it's a powder so you can just keep it in the pantry. Initially I wasn't super impressed because it's not that flavorsome and was quite rubbery (more so than regular eggs) so in terms of scrambled eggs I didn't really like the texture but for an omelette it worked great! I also used it as an egg replacer in my Devil's Food Cake and it turned out well too.


Vegan Omelette with Egg Replacer

Ingredients

2x Vegan Egg (4 Tbls Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg + 1 cup ice water, whisked together)
1/2 - 1 tomato, chopped
1 large mushroom, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar shreds)
1 Tbls vegan Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 Tbls olive oil


Method

Whisk the salts and pepper into the egg mix then stir in the cheeses.
In a non-stick frying pan add oil and heat pan on high.
Add egg mix and let set for a minute before turning heat down to medium.
Sprinkle vegetables over one half of the egg circle.


After a few minutes use a spatula to test the non-vegetable side to make sure the bottom is set.
If so flip that side over on top of the vegetables.
If you're super skilled you can flip the omelette over after a few minutes to get both sides nice and brown, I failed and so mine was a bit messy but still delicious!


The messy (but delicious) version!

Devil's Food Cake

I was supposed to make this for my husband for Valentine's Day but then our little Peanut arrived early and it through a spanner in our V-Day plans. So a month later I finally got around to making it. This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. Verdict was the cake was perfect but the icing not so much. Maybe a softer buttery icing next time.


Devil's Food Cake

Ingredients

For Cake;

50 grams best-quality cocoa powder
100 grams dark brown muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
250 millilitres boiling water
125 grams soft vegan butter (plus some for greasing)
150 grams vegan sugar
225 grams plain GF flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg replacers (I used Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg)


For Frosting;

125 millilitres water
30 grams dark brown muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
175 grams unsalted butter
300 grams vegan dark chocolate (finely chopped)


Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Line the bottoms of two 20cm / 8inch round sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides. (I had to use the same pan in two batches.
Put the cocoa and 100g / half cup dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb togetherl, and set aside for a moment.
Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg replacer, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg replacer.
Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
Divide the batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
For frosting: put the water, 30g / 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar and 175g / 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting. I found this didn't by itself so I put it in the fridge and then in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before frosting the cake.
Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula.
I used a cookie cutter to contain the sprinkles into the heart shape, pressed them into the frosting, then removed the cutter.



Thursday, 10 March 2016

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I got this recipe of Noel Trujillo from Food.com and have veganised it. The main reason I made them was because they were supposed to promote lactation in breastfeeding mothers - although I'm not sure they had that effect they definitely were delicious. The whole family ate them.


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup vegan butter
1 cup vegan sugar
1 cup firmly packed vegan brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 vegan egg replacers
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups GF flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups GF oats
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
2 -4 tablespoons brewer's yeast


Method

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
Stir in oats and chips.
Scoop onto baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.