Monday, March 26, 2012

(Near Perfect) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I made these recently, which were really good, but not "perfect".  I have made several  batches trying to tweak the recipe to get to what I would call the perfect chocolate chip and I am getting closer.  While not finished perfecting this cookie I thought these were worth sharing.

I hope that soon I will be able to share the absolute perfect chocolate chip but in the mean time, I am having fun (as is the rest of the family) tasting all the test batches!

For the liquid in these I used mostly So Delicious Vanilla Almond Plus non dairy milk instead of water and I like the results very much. Still not quite perfection (close) but I am determined to get to perfetion!  In the mean time I thought you might enjoy this spin on the classic chocolate chip cookie! Enjoy!

(Near Perfect) Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)
1 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup So Delicious Vanilla Almond Plus non dairy milk
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and chocolate chips. Form a well in the center of the mixture and set a side.

In another bowl combine the sugar and vegetable oil and stir until very well incorporated.  Add the vanilla, vanilla almond milk and stir well.

Pour the wet into the well in the dry mixture and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Add the tablespoon of water and incorporate into the dough. Add the chocolate chips and stir to distribute.

Lightly  roll the dough into balls and place onto an un-greased cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are starting to firm up on the sides and turn lightly golden brown. Do not over bake.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for about five minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool fully.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Blissful Bites Review , Giveaway and Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Christy Morgan's book Blissful Bites.  I have spent the last several weeks making recipes from the book (results pictured throughout) and was even lucky enough to meet up with Christy in New York City for her book tour event  and a great meal at Candle 79. And, she was nice enough to allow me to share her recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, which were just awesome!

                                     Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Before we get to the recipe though, let's talk a little bit about the book itself. Visually stunning, it is packed with colorful, vibrant  photos.  There is lots of information, too- you will read about why Christy chooses  not cook with garlic and onions, tips on essential kitchen tools, cooking and cutting techniques and how you can find your bliss eating whole foods, simply prepared.

                               Lemon Dill Green Beans

There are over 175 recipes and they are arranged by category first (breakfast/brunch, appetizers/soups, salads/dressings,vegetable sides, whole grains/carbs, sea vegetables, proteins and desserts) and then, with the exception of the sea vegetable section, by season, making it easy to cook with what is fresh for the season you are in. There are also sample menus which are quite helpful.  I sampled recipes from different seasons, and found all of them quite flavorful and easy to prepare.

                                         Black-eyed Pea BBQ Stew

I made several of the recipes at home and tried a few at Christy's event. I enjoyed them all. I made them exactly as written, without garlic and onions,  and found them to be quite flavorful.  While I can't say I will adopt a no garlic and onion policy in my kitchen (heck, I know I won't!) it is good to know you can cook savory foods without them that still taste good!

                                             Man n' Kale Salad

As you can see from the photos the food is delicious. As someone who almost never uses a cookbook this is one I would recommend. The recipes are well written, easy to follow, not overly complicated, flavorful and healthy.  Sounds like a pretty good combination to me.

                                          Magical Raw Tacos

I am also offering one or my readers a chance to win their own copy of Blissful Bites! Simply let me know in the comments section why you would like to give the book a try and I will enter you to win. Please be sure to leave an email address where you can be contacted!

                                   Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

And, if you tweet the following you will be entered to win a second time:

@VeganVersion Please enter me to win a copy of @TheBlissfulChef Blissful Bites! 

I will pick a winner on Saturday March 31st. Good luck!

Now, on to that pancake recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat four
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I love the new So Delicious Original Almond Plus)
1/3 cup canned organic pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
Cooking oil spray for pan

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. In a second bowl combine the maple syrup, almond milk, pumpkin and olive oil.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Mix thoroughly until no lumps remain.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.  Once pan is nice and hot pour pancake batter in 1/4 cup measurements into the pan. Be careful not to crowd them so they do not run together.  When the sides begin to get firm and you start to see bubbles in the batter flip the cakes and cook for a few more minutes.

Move pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup and some vegan butter (if desired).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meatout 2012 and a Quinoa Veggie Burger

Last year I participated  in FARM's annual Meatout event by sharing a Coconut Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato (CLT) Sandwich recipe and this year I am excited to share a new take on an old favorite- a Veggie Burger!

But first, if you are not familiar with Meat out:

"Meatout is the world's largest grassroots diet education campaign. On (or around) March 20, thousands of caring people in all 50 states and two dozen other countries encourage their friends, families, and communities to "kick the meat habit" and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains". 

I don't usually address animal rights issues head on in this blog. I guess it is more my "style" to allow delicious plant based food be the vehicle by which to express my activism.  The truth is, when I went vegan I did it for health and diet reasons but decided to stay vegan for the animals.

Upon giving up animal products, I felt a cleansing of my conscience that was quite unexpected. I felt as if a weight I did not even know I was carrying around had been lifted, and it felt good. No, it felt great. And, I want everyone to know you can feel great, too....even if you just reduce your meat consumption in favor of more plant based meals.

I have come to the conclusion that the human relationship with farm animals is one of exploitation and that  factory farming is one of the worst karmic situations we face. I am content not to participate in proliferating the suffering innocent farm animals endure during their lives. Actually, I believe that to be my obligation.

OK, enough about me! What about you?  I would love to know why my readers choose to enjoy a vegan version of an old favorite. Is it for health?  For the animals?  Maybe both?  Please let me know in the comments section!

Now, on to the recipe!

I can think of no better way to celebrate Meatout than with an awesome veggie burger. This is every bit as  delicious and satisfying as any other burger and without the suffering- what is not to like? 

The recipe as written a great base recipe- you can jazz it up with whatever herbs, spices a veggies or toppings you like.  Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!

Quinoa Veggie Burger

1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce 
2 leaves kale, chopped fine (I used one curly and one Tuscan)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms (chopped fine)
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms (chopped fine)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the quinoa, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, kale, thyme and oregano  in a pot on the stove.  Heat on high until boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat, stir in the tomato paste, mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Form the quinoa mixture into patties. I got six nice size patties, you can make them whatever size you like but do not make them too thick.

In a skillet heat the oil over high to medium high heat.  Add the patties and fry on each side for a few minutes until nicely seared and heated through.  Alternatively you could bake these in the oven on a lightly greased baking pan for about 20 minutes at 350, flipping the burgers halfway through.

I served mine on a toasted whole wheat bun garnished with lettuce, pickles, avocado, ketchup and spicy brown mustard.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Butternut Squash, Yam and Chickpea Stew

Quite some time ago, my Mother In Law gave me a Romertopf clay pot cooker.  I  used it a few times right after she gave it to me but have not used it since. I don't know why because it is a beautiful vessel both to cook in and to look at.

I was feeling really tired all day this Sunday. After all, I had been up early on Saturday to get a train into New York to spend the day with my friend JL and to meet up with some of other awesome vegan women. The day consisted of lots of walking, lunch at Sacred Chow, shoe shopping at Moo Shoes, an event with The Blissful Chef  followed by dinner at Candle 79, and a late night train ride home. I promise, more on that fabulous adventure later this week! And, be on the look out for a Blissful Bites review and giveaway.

Anyway, I was just too tired to go grocery shopping or really do much of anything so a one pot meal sounded awfully good.  One small problem, it had to consist of whatever was in the (pretty bare) fridge. Did I mention I was too tired to go grocery shopping? Interesting, I thought I had some canned tomatoes on hand when I started, but I did not and ended up improvising with a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to unexpected but extremely good results.

I totally winged it with this dish. I really do not know the rules of clay pot cooking and went from what I remembered which was just that you needed to soak it first and that you should put it into a cold oven.   The rest I totally made up as I went along and am thrilled with the results. Absolutely delicious! I must not wait another few years before using this cooking vessel again!

Butternut Squash, Yam and Chickpea Stew

1 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped tuscan kale, (stems removed)
2 yams, peeled and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (if using canned be sure to rinse and drain well)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 10 3/4 oz can Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup  
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Soak the clay pot and lid in cold water in the sink.

While the pot is soaking heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onions. Saute until onion starts to soften and become translucent.  Add the kale and continue to saute for a minute or two.  Add the vegetable stock, curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir to incorporate.

Add the butternut squash, yams, chickpeas, tomato soup, tomato paste, and cranberries.  Give a stir to combine all ingredients. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Remove the clay pot and lid from the water and pat dry.  Place the vegetable mixture in the pot, cover and place into a cold oven.  Turn the oven to 480 degrees and allow to cook for one hour.

After and hour, remove from the oven and serve garnished with parsley.

Note: If you do not have a clay pot,  I think you may follow the directions above but place the mixture into a lightly greased covered casserole dish and bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage

St Patty's day approaches and I have to admit, I know nothing about Irish food.  In fact,  I have only eaten Irish food once before, at a local restaurant, and it was God awful.  While I am not suggesting this is typical of Irish food, it is my very limited experience with it.

I have had a head of cabbage in the fridge for a week or so and decided that I would give stuffed cabbage a try. That is traditionally Irish, right?

I really had no idea what I was doing and just made this up as I went along. I am sure there is an easier way to do this, if you know of one, please share!

The dish was quite tasty.  The cabbage maintained some of its integrity and crunch, which I liked, and there was none of the terrible smell of cabbage cooking you sometimes hear about.  The filling was very similar to the filling in the Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna I have bee somewhat obsessed with lately. I added kale to the mix, too- kale stuffed cabbage? How can you go wrong?!?

But, back to St Patty's day--I am really looking forward to it this year. While I am not Irish, and unsure if I will indulge in any Irish food I am quite excited to head to New York City to meet up with my dear friend JL of JL Goes Vegan.  The day holds a lot of promise- shopping, meeting up with Christy Morgan aka The Blissful Chef, and author of Blissful Bites, who will be in town as part of her book tour.

And as if that is not enough, we will end the day with dinner at the fabulous Candle 79.  I really cannot think of a better way to spend a day!

And speaking of Blissful Bites- stay tuned for my review and a chance to win your very own copy!

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage

1 head green cabbage
1 cup quinoa
2 kale leaves, chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a saute pan add the quinoa, kale, oregano, vegetable stock and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed by the quinoa. Remove from the heat and add the vegan cream cheese, tomato paste, parsley and salt and pepper and stir well until all ingredients are incorporated.

While the quinoa is cooking core the cabbage as deeply as you can. On the stovetop bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the cabbage into the boiling water for a minute or two, remove it and then remove the outer leaves (they should come off easily).  When you have removed all of the leaves that come off easily (do not force them or they will rip) re-submerge the cabbage and repeat the process until you have removed the majority of the leaves (the very small ones would be difficult to stuff and roll).

Allow the leaves to cool and remove any of the core/ thick center vein that remains. The leaves should be pliable and roll easily. Mine ended up with a small "V" a the bottom of each leaf.

Place one leaf on a flat surface and place quinoa mixture on the lower half of the leaf. The amount of quinoa you use will be dependent on the size of the cabbage leaf-- do not over fill, you should be able to roll them easily.

Once the mixture is on the leaf roll away from you, folding in the sides as you go until the filling is encased.  Place in a lightly greased baking sheet with the seam side down. Repeat until all leaves are filled.

Top with the rest of the marinara sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the rolls are heated through and the sauce is bubbly.

Serve immediately.

Note: This recipe made 15 rolls with a little bit of leftover quinoa filling which was quickly eaten by my daughter!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baked Almond "Feta"

This recipe reminds me of my Dad. Not because he likes it (though I am quite sure he would), has eaten it or has ever even heard of it! It reminds me of him because he loves blanched almonds and also feta cheese.

As a kid, I remember he would often soak raw almonds and leave them in the refrigerator to snack on. And,being Middle Eastern feta was a staple in our home.

I am not exactly sure where to give credit for this recipe.   I have seen several versions of it online- each consisting of nearly the exact same ingredients, some with variations on quantity, primarily salt quantity. I specifically referred to this one and this one as I made my version of the baked "feta".  I used more salt than any of the recipes I saw online as my recollection of the best fetas were those that were the saltiest.

There really are no words to describe how delicious this is!  While it does require adequate planning to make in terms of time, there is nothing difficult about this at all.  The results are absolutely spectacular creamy, salty goodness.  I cannot wait to make this again and I cannot wait to make this for my Dad whom I am certain will love it.

I think you could easily add fresh herbs into the equation while making this and I think that it would turn out similarly to some of the soft herbed cheeses you can find in the grocery store.

This is a total winner!

Baked Almond "Feta"

1 1/2 cups blanched raw almonds, skins removed*
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth.

Line a bowl with three layers of cheese cloth ensuring the cloth is cut large enough to wrap the nut mixture completely closed. Add the feta mixture and pull up the sides of the cheesecloth and seal with a rubber band.  Place the closed cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl and refrigerate for 12 hours.

After twelve hours  drain off the liquid, remove the cheesecloth from the strainer and set an oven to 350 degrees.

Open the cheese cloth and turn the nut mixture into a lightly greased oven proof  bowl smooth side up.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top turns golden and begins to crack and dry.

Serve either warm, at room temperature or chilled.

*Note: To blanch almonds simply submerge raw almonds in water and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.  Once blanched the skins are removed easily.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just when I was on a serious roll with eating well I had to go and make chocolate chip cookies.  Seriously, sometimes I do not know why I do what I do!

For weeks I have laid off any sort of processed foods, refined sugars, white flour in favor of grains, greens and whole foods.  But, on Friday night, my son said he wanted something sweet and since we had nothing to speak of in the house we decided to bake cookies.  He wanted chocolate chip- something I have not made a vegan version of before.

We took to the Internet to find a recipe and surprising to me I did not find many recipes that received rave reviews.  We finally settled on this one which seemed to get a lot of praise. They were really, really good. And really, really easy.

The turbinado sugar gives a nice texture to the cookie and you can really taste the salt wich brings out the other flavors in the cookie. They are too good, perhaps, as I ate far too many of them, but the time with my son was most enjoyable. That makes me feel a little better about all the cookies, and next week the healthy eating starts again!

I did not change the recipe at all except that I used a whole cup of chocolate chips. After all, you really can't have too many chocolate chips!

The cookies were very well received by the whole family. They are almost gone now and already I am already thinking about the next batch.  I am going to try them again using almond milk instead of water and see how they turn out.  I will let you know!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and chocolate chips.  Form a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.

In a second bowl mix the oil and sugar until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and water and mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients.  Mix well until a dough forms.  The dough may appear a bit crumbly, that is ok- when you form the dough into balls it will continue to come together.

Lightly roll the cookie dough into balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  You should have enough dough to make 2 dozen cookies.  Bake for 5 minutes, rotate the cookie sheets and then bake for another 5-7 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Note: The cookies did not spread out like you would expect of a chocolate chip cookie. They stayed more in a ball shape, perhaps because I rolled them prior to putting them on the baking sheet as opposed to just spooning the dough onto the sheet.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Barley Breakfast Bowl

I still struggle with breakfast. I just do not like to eat it.  I have tried on various occasions to get into the swing of breakfast and I will do OK for a little while and then I stop because the truth is, I don't enjoy it. I know it is the most important meal of the day (blah, blah, blah) but I have always just eaten when I am hungry and when I wake up in the morning I just am not hungry.

The weekends are a little different. Since I can get up, have a leisurely cup of coffee, relax and have no time constraints to get out the door I will sometimes eat breakfast.

Today, I had a bunch of leftover barley from the Southwest Barley Mushroom Burgers we had for dinner last night.  I figured instead of oatmeal I would try the barley prepared similarly.  It was tasty- the texture and chew of the barley is quite nice.  I would do this again but I am not going to kid myself- I doubt very much I will get up and do this during the workweek.  It was a nice treat this morning, though!

Barley Breakfast Bowl

1 cup cooked barley
1/4-1/2 cup Almod Milk (I used So Delicious Original Almond Plus)
Brown sugar to taste
Cinnamon to taste

Place the barley in a sauce pan with the almond milk on the stove over medium low to low heat.  Cover and simmer until the barley has absorbed much of the almond milk.  The almond milk may froth when heating- that is ok.  I let mine simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Serve with a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Southwestern Barley Mushroom Burger

Have you seen the article making its way around the Internet about the "pink slime" found in much of the nations ground beef? If not, you can read it here.

I am so glad my kids are now vegetarian so I don't have to worry about things like pink slime. Lord knows kids give you enough worry so one less thing is a good thing!

These burgers are free of any sort of nutritionally questionable  ingredients but are full of flavor.  

I am not sure what got me thinking about barley burgers- I have never had one nor had I ever really even heard of one.  But, like most times I feel I have an original recipe idea I take to the Internet only to fin someone else already had the same idea! I found lots of barley burgers that looked great.  This one in particular  grabbed my attention an it served as the inspiration for my recipe.

The burger was quite good, held together well and had a nice kick to it. If you prefer less spice you can modify or omit the jalapeño peppers.

I ate mine on a toasted roll with some lettuce, red onion and cilantro leaves.  I did add a little bit of ketchup and some spicy brown mustard.  All in all, pretty good! If I had had any avocados in the house I would have topped the burger with a slice or two.  Next time.

Southwestern Barley Mushroom Burger

5 oz shitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped fine
1 potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
1 cup cooked barley
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet over medium heat add one tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic and onion and saute until. onion starts to soften. Add the mushrooms and jalapeño peppers, salt and pepper.  Cook until the mushrooms are tender and release their juices then add the cilantro. Cook a bit longer until the cilantro is nicely wilted into the mixture. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it is not too hot to touch.

In a bowl,  combine the mushroom mixture, barley, potato and tomato paste. Re-season with salt and pepper as desired. Mix all ingredients together using either a spoon or your hands  until very well incorporated.

Form into patties (I made four rather large patties, you could make six smaller ones).

In a large oven safe skillet, heat the other two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  When hot, place the patties in the skillet and cook on each side for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned on each side.

Place the hot pan into the oven and bake the patties for 12-15 minutes until heated through and firm.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

This recipe is brilliant. I wish I could take credit for this recipe but, alas, I cannot. I found it at  Peas and Thank You, a blog I adore. I can totally relate to the author Sarah, (aka "Mama Pea") as we lead similar lives filled with kids schedules and activities, and while stressful, love it.  We both also have a passion for cooking and love our time in the kitchen cooking for the family or cooking just for the sake of it.  If that sounds like you then you really need to check out her site!

I changed it up a little from original only in that I used leek instead of onion and fresh oregano instead of dried, simply because that is what I had on hand.  I added some tomato paste to the quinoa mixture because I had an open container of it in the fridge, put a small amount of Daiya Mozzarella Shreds in each layer instead of just on top and then finished it off with a sprinkling of bread crumb. Other than that this is pretty much an exact replica of the original, which I may have mentioned is brilliant!

In any case, this is a something I absolutely will make over and over .  I am excited to bring the leftovers for lunch a few days this week; that is if I can keep myself from eating the rest of it this weekend!

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

3 small zucchini
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup unseasoned tomato sauce
1 leek, chopped (white and light green part only)
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1//4 cup fresh basil, chopped
~1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya Mozzarella Shreds)
13 oz marinara sauce (I used a jar sauce)
1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking oil spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice lengthwise into 12 1/4" thick slices.  This is most easily done using a mandoline but you may use a knife.  Place the zucchini strips into a colander lined with paper towels, lightly salt them and set aside. This will allow some of the moisture to be removed from the zucchini.

In a sauce pan place the vegetable stock, tomato sauce, quinoa, leek and oregano.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed by the quinoa.  Remove from the heat, add the vegan cream cheese, tomato paste, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper and stir to incorporate all ingredients.

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking oil spray. Put enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of  the dish. Blot the zucchini dry with a fresh paper towel and place 4 zucchini strips on top of the marinara. Spread some of  the quinoa mixture on top of the zucchini layer (I found it easiest to do this with my hands). Add some of thee shredded vegan cheese and repeat the layering process until you end up with a top layer of zucchini. Finish with the rest of the marinara sauce and shredded vegan cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly and the zucchini is soft.

Let stand at least fifteen minutes before serving.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream (and a Giveaway)

Imagine how exciting it was to come home to find that the nice folks over at So Delicious had sent samples of their new almond milk products to try. I am feeling pretty fortunate and I would like to share the good fortune and offer you the chance to win a coupon for a free So Delicious product, too (details below)!

In the package I received were a couple of cartons of their new Almond Plus Almond Milk Beverage. Confession: I had never tried almond milk before!

If you are a regular reader you know how I feel about milk. Let's just say I have never been a fan and have not actively sought out cow's milk replacements. Losing milk to go vegan was no big deal. In fact, I considered it a benefit!

For cooking I have been using  So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Beverage  and have been pleased with the results. So, until today the thought never even crossed my mind to try almond milk.

But, try it I did and it was really good!  I whipped up this soft serve ice cream with the Vanilla flavor and WOW!! So Delicious.

On to the giveaway!  To enter simply do one (or more for multiple entries) of the following:
  • Leave a comment on this post (don't forget to leave me an email address to contact you)
  • Tweet "@VeganVersion please enter me to win a free @So_Delicious product" 
I will pick a winner on Saturday March 10th. Good luck!

[Update: Congratulations to Jordan Dunne, the winner of the giveaway! Please check your email!]

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

3 bananas, frozen
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender such as a Vitamix. Blend quickly increasing the speed to high while tamping the ingredients until smooth.

Serve immediately.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Saturday Breakfast Potatoes

It is almost the weekend! Saturday breakfast, for the family almost always includes potatoes. Not only because everyone likes potatoes and we always have them on hand; I find it a great way to use up the herbs and veggies leftover from the week before to heading out the to the grocery store on Saturday morning.

I am a huge fan of fresh herbs so we always have a variety in the house. This is my favorite way to use up the odds and ends to make room for my new haul!

This batch was particularly good, I think it was the addition of the kale!  Many Saturdays onions, garlic, peppers and other veggies show up in there, too!

I hope you enjoy your weekend! I am going to try a few new recipes this Saturday (after I make the potatoes, of course).

The recipe below is really just a guide. Adjust for whatever you have on hand and however many you are feeding!

Saturday Breakfast Potatoes

2 potatoes, diced (or more of whatever type you have on hand)
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, stems removed and chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 curly kale leaves chopped very fine
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat add olive oil and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to heat until potatoes are nicely browned and cooked through. The time will vary depending on how many potatoes you are cooking. For two potatoes plan on at least 15 minutes. Add the herbs halfway through cooking.  Season with salt and pepper prior to serving.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fried Ravioli (or Third Time's a Charm)

You may recall I made Chickpea and White Bean Ravioli recently.  Then, with the leftover filling made Chickpea and White Bean Cakes.  I had a few leftover ravioli and some leftover Red Pepper Cream Sauce*, so I decided to try to go for round three (third time's a charm, right?) and reinvent them again. I ended up with Fried Ravioli.

I really like the idea of being able to cook once and eat several times without being too repetitive. The three dishes were different enough thatI didn't feel like I was eating the same thing over and over again and it was a nice way to cut down on meal preparation time.

Between this, the White Bean and Kale Soup and Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew I made over the weekend it has been a great week of eating!

 I would love to know how you plan for busy work week meals as I want to continue to prep over the weekends to prepare fora week of eating and would love to learn some of your secrets.

Chickpea and White Bean Ravioli with Pepper Cream Sauce

Fried Ravioli

Chickpea and White Bean Ravioli (recipe here)

3-4 tbsp olive oil for frying
Roasted Pepper Sauce (recipe here)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add ravioli to the pan and fry on each side until golden brown.

Serve with the roasted red pepper sauce for dipping.

*The Roasted Pepper Sauce, which was super easy and super creamy, thanks to So Delicious Original Coffee Creamer, is something that I will make again in bulk and freeze to have on hand to use over pasta and other grains and proteins.