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.

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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)
Print This Recipe

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
Print This Recipe

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.

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
Print This Recipe

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.

Asian Broccoli Bowls

We love ethnic food in our house and since transitioning to a predominately vegetarian diet, we love it even more! So many ethnic dishes are already tailored towards plant-based eating. This dish was inspired by the Peas and Thank You recipe Szechuan Broccoli and Quinoa. I made a few minor adjustments to the sauce and added several ingredients to make this a main-dish meal for us. It’s so tasty that I’ve made it twice in the last week! And the leftovers are delicious too!

Feel free to substitute your veggies of choice, just adjust cooking times as needed.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instructions deter you from trying this. Once you get your veggies prepped, this meal comes together quite quickly.

Asian Broccoli Bowls

ASIAN BROCCOLI BOWLS
(adapted from peasandthankyou.com)
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Cooked Quinoa or Brown Rice (use half broth for the cooking liquid)

1-1/2 lbs broccoli florets
1/2 lb mushrooms, cut into chunks
1-2 onions, cut into chunks
sesame oil and/or olive oil for drizzling
season to taste

1/2 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
sesame oil and tamari sauce for drizzling
season to taste

Sauce
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce, such as Thai Kitchen Brand (opt.)
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook the quinoa or brown rice according to package instructions.

Cut the tofu into cubes. Lay a clean towel on a cutting board and place the tofu on top. Either fold over that towel to cover or lay a second towel on top. Place another cutting board or baking sheet on top and stack a few heavy items to create a tofu “press.” (Cookbooks work well.) Leave the tofu to press for 30-60 minutes.

Cut up veggies.

Preheat the broiler.

Arrange mushrooms and onions on a medium baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil or olive oil; if desired, sprinkle with a little salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder, if desired. Arrange pressed tofu cubes onto another medium baking sheet, drizzle with a little sesame oil and tamari sauce; if desired, season with a little salt, ginger powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Arrange broccoli florets on a large baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil.

If your oven size allows, broil the mushrooms and onions alongside the tofu for 10-15 minutes, stirring once. Then place on the bottom rack to keep warm while you broil the broccoli for 6-9 minutes, stirring once and making sure not to burn.

While the veggies and tofu are broiling, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for a minute or two, until thickened. Remove from heat.

Scoop quinoa or rice into each bowl, top with the roasted veggies and tofu, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Dairy-free Queso

I cannot in the least take credit for this recipe. When it comes to homemade, vegan cheese alternatives, I am still very much in the learning stage. But, as I explore the dairy-free world, I’m always happy to find a good recipe. And maybe before too long I’ll be adept enough to create my own dairy-free “cheese” recipes.

I made a batch of this cashew queso recipe, with two notable alterations: I did not add the miso because I didn’t have it on hand and I added a 1/2 tsp of chipotle chile powder for a smoky undertone. Additionally, I made sure to include the optional nutritional yeast. While the recipe is a little labor intensive, I felt like it was worth the effort. Plus the queso keeps and re-heats well. (Note: if you do use the miso, check to make sure it is gluten-free if you need that. As I understand it, not all miso is gluten-free.)

Cashew Queso Nachos

For a quick weeknight meal I made nachos (something we rarely eat, but certainly enjoy) by topping tortilla chips with a spiced pepper, onion, and bean mixture and some queso. I broiled it all for a couple of minutes and then added some guacamole (makes any Mexican dish tastier!) and green onions. It was delicious!

Collard Green Wrap

Today’s post is not really a recipe, but rather a concept. 🙂 Overall, being gluten-free isn’t altogether difficult, but there are times when I miss the ease of everyday breads, tortillas, and other baked goods. It takes more effort to make or more financial investment to purchase adequate alternatives.

My pantry typically includes corn tortillas for soft tacos or enchiladas, rice cakes for snacks, and Rudi’s Multigrain GF Bread for toast, garlic bread, and pb&j sandwiches.  Occasionally I splurge on gluten-free tortillas (other than the corn variety) so I can make hummus veggie wraps or bean and grain wraps.

Recently I tried using blanched collard greens for wraps and it worked out quite well. Once blanched the greens do not have a strong flavor, so you’re able to enjoy the filling. Not only does it save some money to use collard greens, but it also facilitates eating more leafy green veggies, which is excellent for all of us. I’ve seen this idea on a few healthy eating oriented blogs, but I followed the directions in the Nourishing Meals cookbook (are you getting the idea that I used this cookbook all of the time?!).

Collard Green Wraps

BLANCHED COLLARD GREEN WRAPS

To prepare the collard greens for wrapping: Wash the greens and cut the stem off the bottom of each leaf. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the collard greens by submerging them in the boiling water for about a minutes. Gently remove them with tongs and place them on a plate to cool.

To assemble your collard green wrap: Place a collard green on a cutting board. Spoon your desired filling near the stem end of the the green. Fold in the long ends of the collard green about 1 inch on each side and then tightly roll.