Monday, June 6, 2011

New Blog: Love'n Sweets Home Bakery

To all of my fellow blog followers,

I have decided to make a new blog, "Love'n Sweets Home Bakery." I am passionate about baking, and one of these days I would LOVE to open my own bakery! I just need to finish grad school first, Ha!

So I will be taking a long-term break from this blog. Please follow me on my new one! I would love to show you all what I am making these days!

You can check out my blog at and email me at

I hope you all like my new blog and follow me on this journey! Thank you for all your support!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 17, 2011 Recipe #12: Baklava

My parents came to visit on their way down to Pompano Beach. They usually travel down this way, by car, three times a year and we usually get together for a bit of lunch before they reach their final destination! So I began brainstorming of what to make for lunch.... I decided on Greek! Vegan Greek! The menu consisted of: homemade hummus and vegan tzatziki sauce served with lightly toasted pita wedges. a traditional greek salad (no lettuce) with a vegan feta cheese substitute, and fresh fruit! Of course we can't forget the dessert! Vegan Baklava! Another great recipe included in The 2011 Cookbook Challenge!
"Hello Ladies! Fresh baklava!"
Quoted from My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Lunch turned out great and everything was delicious! I was in heaven over the baklava! Let's just say it was definite sweet tooth satisfaction! The vegan recipe actually called for agave nectar in the sweet syrup, but I decided to use honey instead. I know it's not considered vegan, but I use it anyway :) I also used raw sugar in the syrup, rather than the granulated sugar the recipe called for. I chose to make this recipe with only two types of nuts: almonds and walnuts. Perfect! Next time though, I think I would try more of a variety - maybe hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Yum! I also used a soy-free non-dairy butter to brush over the phyllo dough.

Now one major change I made, which really made a difference on the sweet tooth scale! I ended up halving the recipe (half the phyllo dough, which was only a quarter of the package I purchased; half the butter, 8x8 pan instead of 9x13) BUT I used the full amounts of the syrup and nuts... which meant OVERLOAD! This made the baklava very rich but I seriously loved every bite of it.

However, I will be making this recipe again without halving any of the recipe, just to see how it compares!

This recipe is a definite keeper so let me know if you are interested in getting your hands on this recipe!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And the mystery recipe is....Stuffing? In April?! Oy Vey...

I'm browsing through one of my new vegan cookbooks, Color Me Vegan, and BAM, there it is... a recipe for stuffing. Mmmm... okay, now I want some stuffing! So all I can think about is stuffing, and I started thinking back to past Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, remembering how much I enjoyed the stuffing David's mom always prepares... using muffins in place of stale bread!! Delicious! Last Christmas I actually made the muffins for Jacki's stuffing and it was as good as ever!

This time though I was ready to take on my own stuffing. I tried making stuffing once before; not bad, but not great either. Let's putting this way, I wouldn't go out of my way to make it again. So I decided NOW was the time to master stuffing (yes I'm a big dork), with two goals in mind: 1.) Use Muffins and 2.) 100% Vegan! Where would I get these vegan muffins though? What could be better than making homemade muffins using recipes from The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! That's right! 

So I decided to make three kinds of muffins: corn, apple walnut, and pumpkin spice! I wanted to try something new - the addition of pumpkin bread into stuffing was intriguing!

I made a fantastic stuffing! Normally I'm not so confident about my recipes but this was seriously delicious! I found that making the stuffing moist enough was the key to making this so wonderful!
So here's the recipe! I used the recipe from my vegan cookbook as a base and changed it up the way I wanted it. I hope you enjoy it! If you want the vegan muffin recipes that I used feel free to let me know and I'll send the recipes your way!

Apple, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffing

  • 6 regular-sized corn muffins, cubed or crumbled
  • 3 large (or 6 regular-sized) pumpkin muffins, cubed or crumbled
  • 6 regular-sized apple walnut muffins, cubed and crumbled
  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tart apple, cored, chopped, and unpeeled
  • 5.2 oz container dried cranberries
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 - 2 cups vegetable stock, or more if needed
  • 2-3 tbsp nondairy butter (Earth Balance, soy-free), melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the muffins. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the onion and celery. Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of bread.
  6. Stir in the apple, cranberries, walnuts, and vegetable stock. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add more vegetable stock if mixture is not moist enough.
  8. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter.
  9. Bake for aproximately 1 hour , or until the top is a golden-brown color.
  10. Serves 8-10.

Now for those of you who do not like all the fruity/nutty stuff (a.k.a. David), I also made a vegan traditional stuffing! I made it the same exactly way except the bread consisted of 6 corn muffins and 1/2 loaf of French bread, omitting all the fruity muffins, chopped apples, cranberries and walnuts. Still great! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #11: Apple Walnut Muffins

I'm on a roll with The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! And ooooh, don't these look yummy?! The original recipe was actually "apple pecan muffins" but due to a slight allergy to pecans, I used walnuts instead. Aside from the walnut substitute, the only change I made was the use of grapeseed oil, rather than canola oil. Grapeseed oil can be used for baking and frying. Want to know a little more about it? Check out these websites:

Grapeseed oil
Wise Geek: What is grapeseed oil?

I liked this recipe because it used half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour, as well as a limited amount of oil. This recipe used unsweetened applesauce, which is actually a healthy substitute for oil. I went with a Granny Smith apple since it's a tarter apple and good to use in baking!

So guess what? These muffins were ALSO used in the mystery recipe that I have been talking about for the past couple of blog entries! Don't worry, I promise, the next recipe will be the revealing of the tasty, fabulous mystery dish I can't stop talking about!

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #10: Corn Muffins

Leave it to The 2011 Cookbook Challenge to give me something to complain about. I can't complain about this recipe too much, because everything worked out in the end, but something did go very wrong. Since I was making these muffins with the mystery recipe I will be sharing with you very soon, I decided to omit the addition of corn as well as the suggested addition of blueberries. I used a flax/water mixture for the egg stubstitute which I think may have been my problem. The original recipe called for Ener-G Egg Replacer, which I didn't have on hand, so when I made the "flax eggs" I don't think I made enough of an egg-like consistency. The flax to water mixture probably could have used a bit more water. My batter ended up being too dry, making it difficult to incorporate the dry with the wet ingredients. Grrr. I had also substituted the flour, originally calling for all-purpose flour, but I did half whole wheat and half all-purpose. I don't think this substitution would make the batter too dry though. Anyway, I went with what I had and contined on to baking them. The muffins baked for a shorter amount of time, but when they were done baking you could tell they seemed a bit too dry. Fortunately, they were perfect for the mystery recipe! Stay tuned! And well, you live and learn, right?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 2, 2011 Recipe #9: Pumpkin Spice Bread or Muffins

You can't go wrong with pumpkin muffins! Yum! In the past when I've made pumpkin bread, I only used cinnamon, but this time, as part of 
The 2011 Cookbook Challenge, I decided to follow the spices exactly: cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg! These smelled delicious and were nice and moist when they came out of the oven!

Now I did make a coupe of changes. The recipe called for 2 cups granulated sugar. Instead, I used 1 cup raw sugar and 1 cup brown sugar. Also the original recipe recommended using 1-1/2 cups applesauce or 1/2 cup applesauce plus 1/2 cup canola oil. I took the equal parts of oil and applesauce, but decided to use grapeseed oil in place of the canola as well as homemade unsweetened applesauce that had been sitting in my freezer waiting to be used in a recipe. I also used ground flaxseeds and water to make the equivalent of eggs, but rather than follow the directions, I mixed the two together and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes until it was thickened, looking more like an egg consistency. Last but not least, instead of using all-purpose flour, I went with whole wheat flour and the remainder of whole wheat pastry flour that I had on hand. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you how these tasted, alone; however, I incorporated them into a recipe that will be coming soon! And let me tell  you - you aren't going to want to miss this one! Amazing!

The pumpkin muffins here do not have any extra add-ins because of how I was using them in the recipe to come, but nuts and/or chocolate chips would be a delicious addition!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March 13, 2011 Recipe #8: Irish Soda Bread

Ah-ha! The culprit of not following the recipes of The 2011 Cookbook Challenge according to my sequence generator! Honestly though, it makes sense to make Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day! Doesn't it?! And it's exactly what I did :)

I had never had Irish soda bread... it was delicious! Just spread a bit of butter (vegan butter) on it and, oh man, yum! Since I had made it for St. Patrick's Day, I served it with corned beef and cabbage (thanks to Allrecipes)! Yes, I'm still sticking to the vegan diet, so I didn't have the main dish, but David and his mom seemed to enjoy it!

This bread is also good lightly toasted with peanut butter and jelly! Mmmm...

I guess I do have one slightly negative comment about this recipe though. The directions have you knead the dough for only 10-12 strokes, but my batter was so wet, that I wasn't quite sure how to knead it with the consistency it was, so I decided to add a bit more flour to work with it a little better. The addition of more flour may have been a mistake though - the batter became tougher than expected, and once baked, the bread seemed a little dense. It was still good though! Also, the addition of raisins or nuts would be good in this bread!

March 12, 2011 Recipe #7: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Moving right along with The 2011 Cookbook Challenge, I was definitely in the mood for some chocolate! Where did I go wrong though?! These cupcakes look delicious! BUT, I did it... I screwed them up. However, the chocolate peanut butter frosting on top was delicious! And I decorated them with some confectioner's sugar :)

So on to these cupcakes though.... just awful... I've been reading how whole wheat flours are better for you than white all-purpose flours, so I decided to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose flour. BIG MISTAKE. The cupcakes ended up a bit too dense and weren't flavorless, but the flavor just wasn't there. I ended up throwing them all away :(

Now, I will tell you though, there are certain recipes where you can make this clean substitute, using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Unfortunately, it just doesn't go over so well when making cupcakes. Muffins, on the other hand, taste great with this substitution!

Well I knew this was bound to happen sometime with this challenge... some are winners, and some not so much. Moving on!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fun with Fondant! Spending Quality Time with Family!

Mishkie and Mom came out to visit in February and we decided to have a little fun with fondant! We've been wanting to play around with fondant lately to practice for my bestfriend's (or maybe I should say other sister's) wedding cake! To stay away from any time conflicts we could possibly have the week before her wedding though, we decided we will just make her a 1-year anniversary cake, which will be put on display at her wedding! So until then, we all decided it's best to keep practicing! 

Previously, I made fondant for the first time from a marshmallow base. It was a little tough to work with, but overall, I had a good experience with it. So for the next homemade fondant, we decided we wanted to try making one that might be a little easier to work with, plus we wanted to see if there was a recipe out there that called for ingredients we had on hand. Leave it to Allrecipes to give us something to try! Yay!

Rolled Buttercream Fondant (Original Recipe)

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the shortening and corn syrup.
  2. Mix in the salt and vanilla flavoring.
  3. Gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar until it is a stiff dough.  Add more confectioners' sugar until it is smooth.
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. *Note: This recipe is best made with a stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment.
This fondant recipe had it's advantages and, unfortunately, disadvantages. The fondant was extremely easy to work with and mold, making it less stressful on first-time fondant users. AND we happened to have the ingredients already available, so we didn't need anything too special to put this together. But it was a softer type of fondant, so if you played with it too much, it just got softer, almost to the point of melting (but not quite). Now, there are actually solutions to this, but we didn't figure them out until we were done, such as the addition of more confectioner's sugar (but careful on the amount added, as you don't want the fondant to crack) OR the addition of cornstarch (I really wish we had tried the cornstarch!). 


Friday, April 1, 2011

March 8, 2011 Recipe #6: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here's another great recipe from The 2011 Cookbook Challenge! Banana chocolate chip muffins - could this get any better?! Well yes it can! I added cinnamon (because when you have bananas, you have to have cinnamon - they just pair so well together!) and some shredded unsweetened coconut. Yummy! Even the non-vegans loved this recipe!

This muffin recipe called for unbleached all-purpose flour, but I decided to change it up a little bit. Instead, I used whole wheat pastry flour, which some people tend to use instead of all-purpose flour. It's definitely a healthier option! When making muffins, this substitution works great, but not for all recipes, especially cake/cupcake recipes (I'll fill you in on a future post). 

The addition of banana has two purposes in this recipe: 1) flavor and 2) binding of the ingredients to create a moist muffin (no one likes a dry muffin!). I used turbinado (raw) sugar rather than granulated sugar and there is a limited amount of vegetable oil. I happened to find nondairy semisweet chocolate chips at a health food store, which are quite yummy, and walnuts topped off this great muffin! Enjoy!

March 7, 2011 Recipe #5: Strawberry Cupcakes

It's about time I updated you on my 2011 Cookbook Challenge! Yes, I know... it has been too long and I broke my promise by screwing up the recipe order from the sequence originally generated. I have a good excuse though! I got stuck on a recipe that I wasn't in the mood to make at the time (it was one of those recipes better to make during the holidays...) so I procrastinated. And well, if any of you know me, I put the PRO in procrastination! UNTIL, I decided that the order didn't really matter, as long as I eventually did all of the recipes in The Joy of Vegan Baking before the end of the year. BUT, if I do happen to be clueless of what recipe I want to make next, I'll go back to my generated sequence and follow that. Deal?! LOL

Ok, enough about my kvetching....

Let's get to the topic of strawberry cupcakes!! Mmm, mmm, mmm....

While Mallory, Eric and Sloane were visiting, the Strawberry Festival happened to be in town, so we all went to check it out. Of course, we couldn't come home empty handed.... we brought back lots and lots of delicious strawberries!! Perfect for the strawberry cupcakes!

The cupcakes were amazing. I haven't always been huge on "fruity" baked goods but the amount of strawberries used in this recipe was just right! Sweet, not too fruity, and so delicious!

The strawberries were pureed in a food process before being added to the batter. The cupcakes were topped with a vegan buttercream frosting and a fresh strawberry! This recipe is a keeper! Let me know if you want this recipe - I'd be happy to share!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Unnamed Dessert = Bad News!

This is the #1 dessert you go to when you are craving something bad! Chocolate and almonds made into a rich, raw, frozen dessert that will make you say MMMMMM!! The best part: only natural ingredients are used... it's naturally sweet and full of the good fats! Careful not to have too much though, as this dessert is packed with calories! I am guilty for overloading on this! Shhh...  Once you try this, you will understand :)

Here it is... It's called The Unnamed Dessert! I came across this recipe on Healthy Girl's Kitchen. If I were to name this dessert though, I think I would call it "The Satisfy-Your-Chocolate-Crave Brick." Ha! This is delicious and I love it, but definitely dense!
The Unnamed Dessert

  • 16 ounces Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups of almond milk
  • 10 oz almond butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups raw almonds, chopped
  1. Place the dates in a container and pour the almond milk over the dates. Place the container in the refrigerator and allow to soak overnight.
  2. Pour the dates and almond milk mix into a food processor.
  3. Add the almond butter, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Blend until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.
  4. Into a 9x9 casserole dish, sprinkle a thin layer of almonds on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Pour the date mixture on top of the almond layer.
  6. Add the remaining almonds to the top of the date mixture.
  7. Freeze overnight or until frozen solid before serving.
  8. Cut into squares and serve frozen.

A new kind of salad, full of flavor!

So I'm always on the lookout for new recipes. Recently, I have been a little more daring with flavor though! Crazy how herbs and spices can really make a dish top notch, huh?!

I have been following the blogs of many cooks/chefs these days, most of them vegan, but friendly for all eaters!  I am always finding recipes "I just have to try!". Holy Cow Vegan Recipes has some great recipes, which is where I found strawberry avocado black bean salad! Not only are her recipes different, but they are delicious and fun! Hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

Strawberry Avocado Black Bean Salad


For the salad:
  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Mix the ingredients for the dressing together.
  2. Place all the prepared vegetables and beans in a bowl. Drizzle the dressing over, and mix.
  3. Serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hummus: How do you eat it?

For all those who like hummus... how do you eat it? With fresh vegetables? Pita chips? On a pita sandwich? Or maybe even by itself?! Ha!

Well... let me tell you... I LOVE hummus! And I found a great recipe in Veganomicon that I insist on sharing with you all! This is a classic recipe that is just perfect with fresh veggies! I also used this hummus recipe in my Too Good-To-Be-True, Healthy Nori Rolls! Yum, yum, yum!

Veganomicon's Hummus Recipe:

  • 2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas (I used slightly more than this, one 15-oz can and one 19-oz can)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Pinch of coriander
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Paprika (optional)
  1. Puree half of the chickpeas and olive oil in a food processor by pulsing serveral times and stirring a few times in between.
  2. Add the remaining chickpeas and olive oil, as well as the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, water, coriander, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pulse several times and stir, until the desired creamy consistency.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with paprika.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve with fresh vegetables or pita chips or use as a spread on a sandwhich.
To the cooks of Veganomicon, Isa and Terry: Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yummy Teething Biscuits!

Yes, this is it! A recipe for teething biscuits! A great way for babies to take their mind off of those aches when their teeth are beginning to come in.

Now why would I want to make teething biscuits? Well Mallory, Eric and the newest addition, Sloane!, came to visit! Fabulous company, fun times, and Sloane is too cute for words! She's adorable! But Miss Sloane had it rough one night. Poor thing. It was possible she may have began teething, so we starting searching for home remedies and Eric found a recipe for Teething Biscuits: Oats & 'Naner Drops. Of course I had to make these for Sloane! Anything to make her feel better.
Teething Biscuits

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup ground oats (grind oats into a flour-like consistency)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the bananas, vanilla extract, and oil.
  3. Add the banana mixture (wet) to the oat mixture (dry).
  4. Drop by the spoonful onto a greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 min.
  6. Let cool on a cooling rack. 
These were like banana bread bites! This recipe was actually adapted from a vegan cookbook. And guess what? Sloane loved these! They fit perfectly into this great new invention: The Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. It looks like a pacifier, but a mesh-like bag is attached to it, where you can put food in! It's really neat because you don't have to worry about the baby's safety (i.e. choking) while he/she is biting down or sucking on it.

I'm not sure who liked these more though... Eric or Sloane! Ha!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats

Here's something new for ya! I decided to veganize the recipe for The Original Rice Krispie Treats! So how did I get this crazy idea? Well, I happened to be shopping at a local health food store with my friend Meagan, and we came across Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme a.k.a. vegan mashmallow fluff! Thinking about it for a second, we wondered how this would be in rice krispie treats.... hmm... Now all we needed was rice krispies... so we went on the search for a healthy rice cereal and found Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal! Though these treats weren't quite the real thing, they didn't taste too bad. They were sweet and tasty, BUT the vegan fluff didn't hold the rice cereal together enough. It was very delicate! As soon as you picked them up they would try to fall apart on you. Okay, so not the greatest reviews, but I still had to share! If anyone has suggestions of how to keep the treats together a little better, advice is welcomed this way!

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats

  • 3 tablespoons soy-free vegan butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 (10-oz) container vegan fluff (Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme)
  • 6-7 cups rice cereal (Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal)
  1. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the vegan fluff and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add rice cereal. Stir until well coated. Pour into greased pan.
  4. Use wax paper to evenly press mixture into the pan. Allow to cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lentil Marinara Sauce: Super Thick and Yummy!

I am back! Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog. It gets a little busy when you have family and best friends visiting, and unfortunately, those unexpected events. But here I am, ready to share my fun and fabulous dishes with you all!

I adapted this lentil marinara sauce recipe from Mrs. J. She had given me this recipe months ago and I finally got the chance to check it out! As I was cooking it though, I decided to turn it into something a little bit more than sauce! More like a stew, but it was a nice, thick sauce perfect over pasta, sauteed veggies (my preference for a healthier dish), or even rice! I love marinara sauces, and to me, the thicker, the better! Yum!

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-1/2 cups lentils, uncooked 
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 (6-oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (14.5) oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3/4 salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves

  1. In a  large pot or dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in oil on medium-high heat until tender.
  2. Add the broth, lentils, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes covered.
  3. While the lentil mixture is cooking, steam the carrots for roughly 20 minutes, then puree or mash them. This helps to thicken the sauce. Set aside.
  4. Once the lentils are done cooking, to the lentil mixture, add the pureed/mashed carrots, tomato paste, diced tomatoes,  broccoli florets, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach leaves, cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Serve over sauteed, julienned vegetables (i.e. zucchini, squash, carrots) or rice or pasta. Top with fresh basil.
  7. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011 Recap

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day! It's always nice spending this special day with loved ones (or talking on the phone), whether it's a significant other, family, or friends! Of course we always celebrate year-round, being surrounded by our loved ones, but I like to make this day extra special with David (all though, come to think of it, we have quite a few extra special days)!

So David woke up the morning of Valentine's Day with post-it notes EVERYWHERE! In the pockets of his work pants, the pocket of his work shirt, in his shoes, on the bathroom mirrors, on his car, in his lunch bag, on his coffee mug... I mean EVERYWHERE! Ha! I had wrote little love notes on about 20 post-its and put them in random places for David to find. What can I say? I love the guy, and I wanted to do something cute and cheezy!

David had tulips sent to the house... my favorite :) One day, I want to be able to grow my own tulips - they are so beautiful, but I feel I don't have the space to grow my own garden right now.

We decided to spend our Valentine's Day with a special homemade dinner. David had requested pasta with a meaty marinara sauce and garlic bread. The day before Valentine's Day I decided to take on a challenge and make my own French bread to make the garlic bread. I found a great recipe on Allrecipes! Turns out, French bread is for everyone! Vegans and non-vegans! It is very simple to make too! The only non-vegan step involved in making this bread is an egg-wash that is brushed on the dough before baking it - this is to just give the bread a nice, crusty, dark color though, which can also be done with milk! Since I wanted to try this French bread too, my "egg-wash" substitute was almond milk - perfect!

  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • 1-2 tbsp almond milk
  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, allowing the yeast to activate.
  2. Add the sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups flour. Stir the mixture until well-blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it on all sides so the dough will not stick to the bowl. Cover, with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour (I usually place my dough in the oven. I warm up the oven a little, but not too much, before setting the dough in there).
  5. Punch the dough down. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes, then cover the bowl and let rise again for 30 minutes.
  6. Punch the dough down again. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a loaf (16 in. long x 2-1/2 in. wide) with tapered ends.
  7. Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal and place the loaf on the baking sheet. Cover the dough and let it rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.
  8. Brush almond milk over the dough. With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes 2 in. apart across top of loaf.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Unfortunately, my bread didn't rise as much as I would have wanted it to, so I didn't take a picture (to spare my embarrassment LOL). I don't know if my yeast wasn't activated enough (water may have been too warm, potentially killing the yeast) or if I had accidently formed the dough into something too long and wide. Who knows, I will do better next time!
The day of Valentine's Day I sliced up the bread and layed the slices on a baking sheet. I minced fresh garlic and put it in a small pan with vegan butter, allowing the garlic to saute a little in the melted butter. I then brushed the butter-garlic mixture on the tops of the sliced bread and sprinkled veggie parmesan cheese on top. All vegan and you would never even know it! I turned the broiler on and put the garlic bread in the oven for about 2 minutes - Perfect! David loved it!
For dessert, I made David's favorite... Gingerbread Cookies! I made one big cookie for him with lots of little heart-shaped cookies on the side. Since this was all for David, I did not "veganize" the recipe... they are perfect the way they are :)
I love Valentine's Day because it gives me a chance to get all creative and gives me a GREAT excuse to be beyond CHEEZY! LOL. I love it!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Too-Good-To-Be-True, Healthy Nori Rolls

Liking the idea of a lower-carb nori roll, I came up with this yummy recipe! I don't think you could have a healthier nori roll! It's loaded with nutrient-rich foods, antioxidants, and get this, it tastes fantastic! I uploaded my recipe to VegWeb, so check it out!

Too-Good-To-Be-True, Healthy Nori Rolls

  • 2 nori sheets
  • 1/2 cup prepared hummus, divided (recommended: Veganomicon's "A Hummus Recipe")
  • 2-4 tbsp pine nuts, divided
  • avocado, thinly sliced
  • carrots, julienned
  • cucumber, julienned
  • red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts, divided
  1. Using a bamboo mat, place a nori sheet on top of it, spread approximately 1/4 cup hummus on 2/3 of the nori sheet (closest to you).
  2. On top of the hummus, sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp of pine nuts, then top with avocado, carrots, cucumber, and red bell pepper in a thin row. Top the vegetables with 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts. Be sure not to pile too many veggies on top, as it will be difficult to roll (my recipe is very close to overload though!).
  3. Take the end of nori sheet closest to you, and begin to roll up and over the vegetables. Use the bamboo mat to tighten that portion of the roll. Continue to roll (with the use of your bamboo mat) until the entire sheet is rolled up. Place the roll on a plate, and begin making the next roll. Place the second nori roll on the plate.
  4. Refrigerate the nori rolls for at least 30 minutes before slicing. 
  5. Once chilled, slice the nori rolls. Wet a knife and cut each roll into 6-8 pieces. Wetting the knife aids in the slicing process. 
  6. Enjoy!
* Note: The amounts of vegetables in this recipe depend on your preference. Be careful not to overstuff the nori roll though! Recommend using 2-4 slices of each vegetable per roll.




Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Hors d'œuvre Night!

What's better than hors d'œuvres for Super Bowl Sunday?! Woohoo! Although the Pittsburgh Steeler's didn't quite make the spotlight, we still had a nice and fun dinner watching the game, especially those commercials!

The Super Bowl XLV Menu:

Tuscan Bean Dip with Assorted Fresh Vegetables
Loaded-Veggie Nori Rolls
My Crazy-Healthy Experimental Nori Rolls
Baked  Spring Rolls
Homemade Nutella Spreads with Assorted Fresh Fruit
Front: Hazelnut Nutella
Back: Almond and Cashew Nutella

#1 Tuscan Bean Dip by Food Network

  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 (15-oz) can cannellini (northern) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Fresh vegetables for dipping: carrots, celery, red and green bell pepper, cucumber, broccoli
  1. Heat oil and garlic in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Stir garlic until golden, about 3 minutes.
  2. Pull skillet from heat; stir in rosemary and cool slightly.
  3. In a food processor, add the beans, salt, cayenne pepper and rosemary oil. Process until smooth.
  4. Scrape the puree into a serving bowl.
  5. Serve dip with fresh raw veggies!
This bean dip is so delicious! A friend brought it over one time and I just loved it! I used to be all over blue cheese when fresh vegetables were near, but I'd never go back after trying this bean dip! I also never cared for rosemary until I tried this dip. Let me tell you, fresh rosemary is very different than dried, and it adds a wonderful flavor to this bean dip! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Yum!

#2 Loaded-Veggie Nori Rolls

#3 My Crazy-Healthy Experimental Nori Rolls

  • 4 nori sheets
  • 1 recipe Veganomicon's Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
  • Sun flower seeds
  • Carrots, julienned
  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  1. Using a bamboo mat, place a nori sheet on top of it, add approximately 1/4 cup tomato dip on 2/3 of the nori sheet (closest to you). On top of the dip (on the closest part of the nori sheet to you), sprinkle sunflower seeds on top, then top with remaining ingredients. Be sure not to pile too many veggies on top, as it will be difficult to roll!
  2. Take the end of nori closest to you, and begin to roll up and over the vegetables. Use the bamboo mat to tighten that portion of the roll. Continue to roll (with the use of your bamboo mat) until the entire sheet is rolled up. Place on a plate, allowing the nori roll to soften, while you continue making the next rolls.
  3. When all 4 nori rolls are made, starting with the first one made, wet a knife and cut each roll into 6-8 pieces. Wetting the knife aids in the slicing process. 
I won't be posting Veganomicon's Sun-Dried Tomato Dip recipe unless it is requested. Unfortunately, I didn't really care much for it. I would like to try this same nori roll with hummus next time, maybe some pine nuts, and fresh basil! I will post this if I do! 

#4 Baked spring rolls (Click to view original recipe)

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chop suey vegetables, drained
  • 1 (8-oz) can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 16 rice paper wrappers (can purchase at an Asian market)
  1. Heat a large skillet with olive oil and add the first six ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until vegetable are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beans; heat through.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, soy sauce, oil, brown sugar and cayenne until smooth; stir into the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; remove from the heat.
  3. Fill a large bowl with warm water. One at a time, dip the rice paper in the water for 20-30 seconds until it becomes soft and flexible. Lay on a flat surface. Spoon 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture on the bottom third of the rice papper; fold sides toward center and roll tightly. Place seam side down on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining rice paper wrappers and filling. Spray the tops of the spring rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.
These spring rolls were DELICIOUS! I highly recommend them! The only issue I had was with the rice paper wrappers...  I had made all of the rolls early in the day, so I refrigerated them in a tupperware container. As they sat in the fridge, each roll clung to one another, so when I went to take them out of the container they were stuck together! The rice paper is very delicate once it gets soft, so it tore easily when I tried to separate them all. Due to this issue, we had to eat these rolls with a fork, but this didn't take away from the delicious flavor at all! I will definitely be making these again!

#5 Wings from Frankie's Wings & Things

Of course when you have appetizers, and you're around David, you can't forget the wings! These are great but unfortunately I didn't get to have any this time around due to my recent vegan choices. They smelled delicious though, as always! My saliva glands were going crazy when I was serving them LOL! 

#6 Homemade Nutella Spreads (Click to view original recipe)

Hazelnut Nutella:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • water (optional)
  • Assorted fresh fruit for dipping: sliced banana, sliced granny smith apples, sliced braeburn apples, strawberries, green grapes 
Almond and Cashew Nutella:

  • 1/2 cup almonds, blanched
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup (scant) powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Assorted fresh fruit for dipping: sliced banana, sliced granny smith apples, sliced braeburn apples, strawberries, green grapes 
  1. Place the nuts in a food processor and process until the nuts start to clump together in a ball, at least 5 minutes, if not more.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and process again for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Drizzle in enough oil to make a spread. If the consistancy is not right after the addition of oil, add a bit of water (I had to do this for the hazelnut spread).
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. Serve with fresh fruit, graham crackers, or spread on bread!
The homemade nutella spread was posted from One Perfect Bite, who seems to always be posting fun and exciting recipes!

Hope you like the menu! Some of the hors d'œuvres were a little time-consuming, but all worth it! Enjoy!