Liebster Award

I would like to thank A Vegan In Progress for nominating this blog for the Liebster Award! (I would also like to offer my sincere apologies for being so tardy in acknowledging the award! It is for lack of time, not lack of appreciation.)

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Rules:

  1. Answer the 10 questions that the tagger set for you
  2. Choose your 10 favorite new bloggers with less than 200 followers
  3. Create 10 questions for your favorite new bloggers to answer
  4. Go to their page and tell them
  5. No tag backs

While I love the idea of passing the award on, I honestly have not been following any blogs in the last few months (full-time work and the demise of Google Reader put a cramp in my style!), and the blogs I do manage to check in on occasionally, have more than 200 followers. So, I’m not able to participate in that part of the award, but I’ll answer the 10 questions that  A Vegan In Progress asked…

1.  In this golden age of television, what’s your favorite show currently airing?

Steph – I don’t watch a lot of TV, but the shows I like to see are ParenthoodParks and Rec, and Modern Family. I’m also a fan of So You Think You Can Dance, but only managed to catch about half of the shows this summer.  

Alaina – I enjoy Downton Abbey in addition to the shows Steph mentioned.

2.  Have you ever won anything (other than an Liebster nomination of course!)?

Steph – As a kid I won ribbons in 4-H and music festivals. But, I’ve never, personally won any big awards.

Alaina – We have gratefully received a few blog awards! Other than that, i won a couple of scholarships in college as well as 4-H awards.

3.  What is your go-to cookbook?

Steph – Currently my go-to cookbooks are Nourishing Meals and The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook both by Alissa Segersten.

Alaina – Hm, probably my Bon Appetit cookbooks.

4.  What is your first ever memory?

Steph – I was given a stuffed dog when I was born which I loved, but for some reason my little sister (two years younger) became obsessed with the dog and anytime she saw the dog I had to hide him. Eventually I caved and gave her the dog (which she adored, he even went to college with her!).
As for my first kitchen memory, it’s probably decorating a cake for my mom’s 32nd birthday.

Alaina – My first friends, Tammy & Jenny. They lived next door. My first ever kitchen memories is making eggs in the microwave and decorating a cake for our mom’s birthday.

5.  If you won the lottery, what would be your first expense?

Steph – My boring answer is pay off student loan. :) But, I’d love to buy a little house with a place for a garden. I’d also love to travel!

Alaina – My boring answer is also to get out of debt. :) Beyond that, I would buy a new van, build a house designed around the kitchen, take our kids to Asia, and start a non-profit grant organization.

6.  Where is your happy place?

Steph – I most like it when I become completely absorbed in something I enjoy doing, such as reading or cooking or quilting or yoga or writing.

Alaina – The kitchen.

7.  Where would you next like to travel?

Steph – I would love to travel internationally, but as I’m quite certain that the possibility of such travel is still a few years away, my closer to home travel dreams are the Grand Canyon and the Pacific Northwest.

Alaina – I LOVE to travel. My dream place (at the moment) would be an island with an umbrella drink. Realistically, I would like to travel to North Carolina to visit one of our sisters.

8.  Did you complete any college?  If so, what was your major or emphasis?

Steph – I have a Bachelors degree with a double major in English and Writing.

Alaina – Yes, I am a licensed dental hygienist.

9.  What do you feel is the most important issue facing society that is largely being ignored?

Both – Tough question! We try to stay out of politics on the blog. :)

10.  What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

Steph – Oh, it’s too hard to choose! My food processor and blender get the most use. But I also love my waffle maker, Kitchenaid, slow cooker, and immersion blender. I’m of the opinion that if I own an appliance, I should be using it with some regularity, otherwise it is not worth the cabinet space.

Alaina – So many! Slow cooker is probably use the very most or maybe my Bosch. They are both must-haves for me. I also love my immersion blender, rice cooker, and food processor.

Sushi Cake

Our youngest son turned 5 in August and he requested a “sushi cake.” The child LOVES sushi and frequently requests it for special events. I share his love for sushi and was only too happy to oblige! I searched for ideas and then created my own version of a sushi cake using cake, candy, fruit roll-ups, rice krispies, marshmallows, chocolate, Swedish fish, and coconut. It was so fun and turned out better than I could have imagined! The only inedible part was the chopsticks. The base cake was mint chocolate as requested by the birthday boy and the sushi rolls were vanilla cake. Hope you enjoy!

Sushi Cake

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Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

I will readily admit that Spaghetti Squash has never been a favorite. That’s probably an understatement – I couldn’t stand it. So, I wasn’t very excited to get two from our CSA – they hung out in my pantry for a few weeks as I pondered whether to try them or to give them away. Yes, yes, I know…shameful. In the end, I consulted with a few great cooks and decided to keep them and give them another try. I’m happy to report that this preparation changed my mind. This was a total hit with the family! I served it as a side dish alongside pork chops. You can change the herbs and the amounts for what you prefer but the sage was absolutely amazing.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

SAUTEED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
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2 sm-med. Spaghetti Squash
4 Tb. butter (you could sub olive oil if you are vegan)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tb. Fresh Sage
1-2 Tb. Fresh Parsley
1-2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a shallow baking sheet (like a bar pan or jelly roll pan). Add water to 1/2 inch. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I actually turned mine over). Scrape out seeds. In a separate bowl, scrape out the squash.

In a skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is softened and the herbs are aromatic. Add the squash and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through and combined with butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Teff Brownies

My husband and I were invited to a cook-out recently. He knew the couple hosting the event; I didn’t know anyone. I volunteered to bring a dessert so that there would be something gluten-free available for my husband. A look through my pantry and through my favorite cookbook (as you likely know by now!), Nourishing Meals, and I settled on some Chocolate Chip Teff Brownies with an added dairy-free ganache. They were absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the party goers.

Chocolate Teff Brownies

CHOCOLATE TEFF BROWNIES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
Print This Recipe

Dry Ingredients
1 c. teff flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. dates, pitted
1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix-in
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 7 x 11 baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Place the dates and ground flaxseeds into a blender; pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and quickly whisk together. Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour better into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz chocolate chips
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a small pan and heat over low. Stir continuously until melted and thickened, just about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Do not chill. Drizzle over brownies.

Or, if you would like a thick, creamy, spreadable frosting then let the ganache thicken at room temperature for about 3 hours.

Spinach Pesto Pasta

I love a good pesto during the summer. In the past I have not had particularly great success with making my own pesto. I just never felt like I got the flavor and texture correct. And now, since going dairy-free, I have to consider pesto without the Parmesan cheese. I decided to mesh a couple of recipes together to create this dairy-free pesto to go over a roasted tomato and white bean pasta dish. It was delicious! And the leftover pesto is great for topping homemade pizza or using for a pita bread dip.

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SPINACH PESTO
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2 1/2 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. walnut pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Add the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is broken down into small pieces. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whirl until the pesto is smooth.

Whole-Grain Freezer Waffles

I recently started a full-time job. With an hour of commute time each day, I knew my meal prep time was going to be disappearing. So, the week before work began I spent time making some muffins, granola bars, pita breads, and waffles for the freezer. I intended to get a lot more frozen than that, but it was a start.

The waffles are delicious and work from freezer to toaster. And this week when I didn’t know what I was going to fix for supper, we enjoyed breakfast for dinner. These are gluten-free, whole-grain, and egg-free!

For the waffles, I used a recipe from my go-to cookbook, Nourishing Meals. First make a batch of dry mix (which keeps in the pantry for up to 4 months, so make as many batches you want!). Then make the waffles. I made a triple batch, which made 26 waffles in my rather small waffle maker.

Gluten-free Waffles

WHOLE-GRAIN FREEZER WAFFLES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
Print This Recipe

DRY MIX
1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
1 c. teff flour
1 c. millet flour
1 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. quinoa flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (opt.)
1 tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix well. Place into an airtight container. Makes 5 cups or 5 batches of waffles.

WAFFLES
2 Tbsp waffles
2 Tbsp very hot water
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 c. milk (I used almond milk)
1 c. Waffle mix

Place the ground flax seeds and hot water into a medium-sized mixing bowl; quickly whisk together until the flax forms a thick gel. Sometimes this doesn’t happen right away so keep whisking until the gel forms. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, maple syrup, and milk and whisk together well. Then add the waffle mix. Whisk together until the batter is smooth.

Heat waffle maker and cook according to waffle make directions.

If you plan to freeze them, cool completely and then layer between pieces of waxed paper and place in freezer bags.

Red Lentil Balls

I love the versatility of meatballs and in my quest to cook meals that don’t rely on meat, I’ve had to use my imagination a bit. I recently picked up Vegetarian Everyday from the library and was pleased to discover a bean based “meatball” recipe, perfect for the gluten-free vegetarian. The couple that created this cookbook is from Sweden (they have a lovely blog I follow called Green Kitchen Stories) and they call these tasty legume-balls, polpette (which is a fancy word for meatballs, as far as my research can tell me). But anyway, the words flows off the tongue in such a beautiful way.

The photo does not do justice to the deliciousness of this meal, in fact it makes it look rather unappealing, but we loved these! I served them over a bed of zucchini and carrot noodles (long julienned veggie that I blanched in salted water) and we topped them with a little marinara sauce and a little arugula pesto.

Red Lentil Polpettes

RED LENTIL BALLS
(from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl)
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1 c. red lentils
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 c. rolled oats (use gluten-free, if needed)
1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt to taste

Rinse the lentils and place in a saucepan with 2 1/4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and cool slightly.

Mash the lentils with a fork. The consistency you want is mashed but still with some lentils left whole. Place in a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until everything is combined. Place int he fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 17-22 minutes. If you want, turn balls halfway through to get a more even shape and color.

Prepare pasta or veggie noodles and whatever sauce you want.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Here’s a delicious treat for your weekend! This is a recipe that I posted a long while back, but it is buried in a post with another recipe. And since it is quick and fairly healthy, I decided to re-post. Plus, it’s summer, so who doesn’t love some ice cream?!

I should note that the original recipe is  not mine; however, I do not remember where I found it. This time around I did add a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, which was a nice twist.

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CHOCOLATE COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM
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2-14 oz cans full-fat coconut milk
2/3 c. sugar or agave nectar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 c.  unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract (feel free to replace 1/2 tsp of vanilla with 1/2 tsp almond extract)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour into the bowl of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serves 4.

Caprese Salad

One of my all time favorite summer flavor combinations is tomato & basil! There is nothing quite like a garden fresh, homegrown tomato and gorgeous, fresh basil leaves – add some fresh mozzarella and you have an amazing salad! We have had the nicest basil I have ever seen through our CSA and we have been thoroughly enjoying it.

I generally make my caprese salad fairly structured on a plate but you can make it however you like! The amount of ingredients are completely up to you – I used 4 small tomatoes and 3-4 ounces of cheese with about 12 large basil leaves on the salad below.

You can serve this with some sliced and toasted Italian bread rubbed with fresh garlic for a nod to bruschetta. Totally delicious!

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CAPRESE SALAD

Tomato
Basil
Fresh Mozzarella (usually available in the deli area)
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Thinly slice the tomato(es) and fresh mozzarella. Chiffonade the basil (to do this: stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them together from the long side to the other long side and then thinly slice). Arrange the tomato and cheese in an alternating pattern on a plate. Sprinkle with the basil chiffonade. Freshly grind Salt & Pepper to taste. Drizzle with a good quality Balsamic Vinegar (I have some general use vinegar and then I have  some amazing vinegar that I reserve for uses such as this). Let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I found this recipe in The Happy Herbivore cookbook. But as I didn’t notate that information, I’m not for sure. :) I certainly cannot take credit for these. While these aren’t your typical melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies, they are good and a great healthy treat, with no added fat and not too much sugar. Plus, the are gluten-free! They have become our go-to dessert when we need a little sweet fix. Within 30 minutes you can enjoy warm cookies from the oven!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
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1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
1 c. gluten-free all purpose flour mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a bowl combine applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Pour dry ingredients into wet in three batches, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes.

Makes 15 cookies.