Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adventures in Grocery Shopping!

I went to Whole Foods for the first time in my life today! I've been to Wild Oats before (and I love it), but that place was about the size of my apartment (which doesn't say much about the store OR my apartment), this place was a real-sized grocery store.

That place blew my mind a little bit. I'm pretty sure people thought I was crazy, what with all the giggling and dancing in the aisles (is she exaggerating...?), but I've never seen so much of that kind of stuff in one place! It was like, my dream store! I made a promise not to buy anything thing I could buy where I live (with the exception of some 100% cranberry juice that is $10 per bottle at my HyVee and only $4.99 there). This resulted in a cache of super food:

Coconut milk yogurt (I gotta get my fix)
French beluga lentils
Raw hazelnuts (I can only find them around the holidays)
Cashew-date moochi (One word: MOFFLES!!!)
Bakery-fresh sourdough and rye
Coconut water (hehe... I can get this were I live, but it was $1 off...)
Almond butter (that you grind yourself right into the tub!!!)
And a few other things.

We didn't buy any produce at Whole Foods, but instead went to a large open air farmer's market / ethnic market. It was awesome. There was so many people there! If I had had more time and cash I would've definitely stocked up a little more.

All this food was bought with a plan in mind:
Cashew-date moffles (mochi + waffles = moffles!)
Vegan eggplant lasagna (my first vegan lasagna ever! It's gonna be classy)
Currant-date-walnut scones
Apple-almond butter quickbread
Homemade Seitan "sausage"

I finally have some time opening up! I've been so busy with school and work, but now that all that is left is some research I'm good to go. I'll have plenty of time for some actual meals instead of grab-and-go munching. As always, there will be photos and recipes!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Best Sandwich Ever

Okay, I know I'm a little slow with the updates, but sometimes I don't make any blog-worthy food. I eat five square meals a day (three small meals and two small snacks), but I have a lot of repeats. I'm one of those people that can eat the same thing every day, twice a day, for weeks. Actually, when I was younger my Dad always teased me about eating cereal. That was (and still is) one of my favorite meals, lol (though I have upgraded from the Reese's Puffs...).

So where am I going with this, you say?

Well, here's my repeat. The most amazing sandwich ever:
Bask in its glory.

It may look plain, but right there is what I've been eating twice a day for like, a month. Well, that and those original flavor Sun Chips. I'm not gonna lie. I even ate one for breakfast the other day... In fact, the only exception to these sandwiches have been breakfast and a couple of days last week when I got low on cash and ate nothing but beans and leftover baked tofu (which I still enjoyed!).

Anyway. The main thing about being vegan for me that was hard was: 1. yogurt and 2. turkey sandwiches. I'm still looking for a yogurt substitute. I tried making my own the other day and it kind of came out, but I read the thermometer wrong and it wound up being 5 degrees too high for a few too many hours (oops). I'm going to try it again when I have some more time. It's quite a process. I know they make soy yogurt, but I just don't think that stuff's edible. Ick. I really wanted to try the coconut milk kind, but HyVee only ordered it once and it was almost $3 for a 6 oz. carton. Way too much for my budget. Pretty soon though I'm gonna be making all the almond and coconut yogurt I can handle!

And turkey sandwiches. I had been satisfied with my veggie sandwiches but one day I found a package of Yve's deli slices. After reading the long list of ingredients though, I was discouraged and just put it back on the shelf. Fast forward to a few days ago... I'm in the same store but in a different section and I find the Tofurkey brand of not-turkey slices (seriously? why are things so spread out there??) and that list was MUCH shorter with ingredients that I actually recognized. Into my cart it went. Next to it was the Veganaise. I've never had it before but I sure missed that Miracle Whip-like tang on sandwiches as well. I figured it was a day for trying new things so I closed my eyes and put the $6.49 jar of Veganaise in my cart too.

BEST IDEA EVER.

I've been vegan for almost three years and I've never tried a tofurkey sandwich before. What was I thinking?! This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for! Be prepared for many sandwich recipes in the upcoming months...

Anyway. Here's my perfect sandwich. It's very satisfying and full of tasty veggies. Two pitas full (which is what my recipe makes) is only 403 calories and I'm full by the time I'm finished. I don't use much Veganaise in order to keep the fat content down, because that stuff is pretty much like real mayonnaise. It's mostly there for flavor. I also use Claussen Hearty Garlic sandwich pickles slices because they're the only ones around here that don't use high fructose corn syrup and are seriously crunchy (the regular, not garlic flavor does have HFCS) AND my mustard is an all-natural, deli-style, horseradish flavor that isn't too hot. It peps it up a bit. Okay, now for the sandwich!:

Fancy "Turkey" Sandwich:
1 multigrain pita, split in two (multigrain stuff usually has a touch more protein)
4 leaves green leaf lettuce
2 slices of tomato (thick sliced)
6 or so slices of unpeeled cucumber (hot water/veggie wash gets off the wax)
Yellow sweet onion slices
1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
1/2 Tb. Veganaise
1 Tb. mustard
2 pickle slices
5 slices Tofurkey

1. Place split pita in the microwave for about 15 seconds to keep it from tearing.
2. Divide all the ingredients in half and split between the two pitas. You can always add more, but at this point they're stuffed pretty full!
3. Enjoy!

Also, alfalfa sprouts are a really tasty addition. Maybe you'll like this sandwich as much as I do!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blueberry-Oat Pancakes

Okay.

So, I stole my boyfriend's waffle maker (yes...I literally took it out of the cabinet and walked out the front door with it...), but it wasn't like he was using it... Anyway, I HAD to make some waffles. I had a pint of super delicious blueberries waiting to be made into breakfast food and since I now had a wafflemaker I knew this was going to be all good.

Except it wasn't.

I painstakingly made a batch of waffles (it only made two at a time!), and they tasted awesome, but, the wafflemaker itself did not take too kindly to blueberries. They tended to burst and turn into goo and that caused my waffle to (mostly) fall apart. I don't think words can express how disenheartened I was! Especially since the ones that did kind of turn out were delicious, they had the perfectly toasty outside and the nice waffle-y inside.

I'm pretending this post is actually about waffles.

I tried to make some more today after reducing the amount of blueberries, but I gave up after the first round. It was obvious that it wasn't going to work. So, instead I flipped them into a skillet and I made myself some pancakes. I figured I was overdue for some pancake goodness away (it's been awhile). SUCCESS! The pancakes came out perfectly and I was once again a happy cook. I now have another pancake recipe to add to my arsenal.

These pancakes are super heart-healthy. Each little pancake is bursting with oats, flax, and antioxidant-rich blueberries and there's not any animal products or too much sugar to cancel out all the good ingredients. The first time I made these I made them with only vanilla, but since then I've used a blend of almond and vanilla. It gives it such a nice little boost and I can't eat them without it! However, you could leave it out if you like, just double the vanilla. Almond extract is just one of my pantry musthaves. I add it to a lot of stuff, lol.

Heart-Healthy Blueberry-Oat-n'-Flax Pancakes:
1 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Earth Balance, melted or oil
1 1/2 Tb. flax meal + 3 Tb. hot water
2 c. almond milk (sweetened)
2 Tb. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. fresh blueberries

Notes: I used Silk Almond milk, the kind that's refrigerated. It's sweet, but not too sweet. It's also very thick (like, surprisingly thick). You could add a 1 Tb. of vinegar to the milk in order to thicken it up a bit and make "buttermilk" or you could leave it as is. It's up to you. I also used old-fashioned rolled oats but quick oats would work just fine.When you make the pancakes you can't really tell it has oats in it!

1. Mix together the flax meal and hot water. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the unbleached flour, wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk until well-combined.
3. In a small bowl, add the milk, brown sugar, and extracts. Stir well.
4. Combine the dry ingredients with the melted Earth Balance, flax "egg", and wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. OPTIONAL: You can either mix in the blueberries now, or you can drop the pancakes on the skillet and and the berries to them, about 5-8 berries per pancake. Both ways will work.
6. In a hot skillet (though temp should be at medium-high) that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, place about 1/3 c. batter per pancake. Cook each side until edges are dry and bubbles are formed in the middle.
7. Flip the pancake and cook for a couple more minutes. These pancakes seem to take a little longer than your standard banana pancake. Repeat the spraying and pancaking process until all the batter is gone.

Note: If your pancakes keep browning too much before they are cooking, turn the heat down. Pancakes are like grilled sandwiches. Just get the skillet hot and then turn that baby down.

Enjoy with fresh blueberries, butter and syrup, or blueberry syrup!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reese's Cookies! or Fourth of July Cookie Madness Part II!

These fork marks tell me peanut butter is inside.

Out of the whole lot of cookies I made for the Fourth, these ones happened to strike my fancy that day (and the next day, lol). I call them Reese's cookies because they are they perfect marriage of peanut butter and chocolate, though they are much better than any Reese's peanut butter cup (by like, a million). Also, Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies was just too long of a name (though you can call them that if you want, lol!).

They so good! Rich, soft, slightly crumbly (like any peanut butter cookie should be), and delicious with a glass of ricemilk. I will be making these cookies again. In fact, I was sad that I didn't make more!

These cookies follow the basic Maple Peanut Butter Cookie recipe in the last post, but instead they add two glorious ingredients: cocoa and chocolate chips. The batter will still need to be chilled for at least thirty minutes before baking and the baking sheet will need to be sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Reese's Cookies:
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. Earth Balance, softened
1/3 c. no-sugar-added applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter, can be smooth or crunchy
1 c. chocolate chips (I prefer Enjoy Life brand)

1. Mix together the flour, soda, salt, and cocoa with a whisk until well-combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and brown sugar until fluffy. And the maple syrup and beat completely (this will look weird in the bowl, but it comes together once you add the flour).
3. Add the applesauce and the vanilla; beat well.
4. Add the peanut butter and mix until completely smooth.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Chill dough at least 30 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 350 when you're about ready to bake.
7. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and press with a fork.
8. Bake at 350 on a GREASED cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let sit on the sheet for a couple minutes then remove to a wire rack

With chocolatey cookies it can be hard to tell when they're done, so just watch them carefully during the last 5 minutes of baking and stick a toothpick in them now and again until it comes out clean.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fourth of July Cookie Madness

So, anytime I have an excuse to bake, I do so. This past Fourth I wasn't really in the mood for making a lot of cupcakes. I knew we would be outside and I also wanted something that would be tasty with the Electric Lemonade... I also kind of wanted a variety of things, so I decided on cookies.

I wound up being some sort of cookie factory because I think in all I made around 6 or 7 dozen, nice-sized cookies. They were all gone in two days however (though maybe that's because I seemed to eat them for every meal...) and it was like it never even happened. Lol.

Anywho. For this get-together I made my chocolate chip cookies from a previous post ("these are these best chocolate chip cookies I've ever ate", and "these taste so familiar! Have you made these before? So good!"), peanut butter cookies, and some Reese's cookies. I think the Reese's cookies were my favorite. I wish I had made more of those!

For the peanut butter cookies I based them on a recipe from my 1962 edition of The Joy of Cooking. I used it for the relative amounts of things, and a baking time, but it pretty much doesn't resemble the original. I really wanted a subtle maple flavor in these cookies so I substituted the white sugar for maple syrup. The result was a deliciously rich peanut butter flavor with a hint of maple and a soft crumb texture. They were really good and they're definitely my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe from now on. This recipe yields a soft dough that really needs to be chilled in the fridge for a least 30 minutes and in between baking. I was disappointed that the fork shape didn't work as well (how will we know it's peanut butter!?), but I stabbed them with a fork anyway. You could also dip a drinking glass in sugar and press down on them if you'd like.

Maple Peanut Butter Cookies:
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. Earth Balance, softened
1/3 c. no-sugar-added applesauce
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter, can be smooth or crunchy

1. Mix together the flour, soda, and salt with a whisk until well-combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and brown sugar until fluffy. And the maple syrup and beat completely (this will look weird in the bowl, but it comes together once you add the flour).
3. Add the applesauce and the vanilla; beat well.
4. Add the peanut butter and mix until completely smooth.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon.
6. Chill dough at least 30 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 350 when you're about ready to bake.
7. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and press with a fork.
8. Bake at 350 on a GREASED cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let sit on the sheet for a couple minutes then remove to a wire rack (or a plate if you're classy like me).

Enjoy with some ice-cold ricemilk!!

Notes: When baking any kind of cookies, check on them before you think they're done. If a fork/toothpick comes out clean, they're done, even if it has been the full amount of time. If you wait until they're brown around the edges they'll be hard and you'll be sad. Take them out early and they're be nice and soft (don't worry, they won't be doughy. Leaving them on the sheet for a couple minutes finishes the baking process and firms them up.

Also, these cookies only have 1/2 c. butter in them, no shortening. Since there isn't enough fat in the batter to keep them from sticking (like in the chocolate chip cookies), you need to spray the baking sheet with some nonstick spray before you bake them.

NOW BE OFF WITH YOU! It's cooking baking time!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fourth of July!!

I'm so excited for the Fourth!

I get the day off at the plant (awesome) +
next day off from school (more awesome) +
get to stay the night at my parent's house (more awesome than it sounds, lol) +
electric lemonade (not for kids, therefore, also awesome) +
soo many vegan cookie options I don't know what I'm going to do yet!!

I'm thinking about making peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, but I found these awesome turtle bars I could easily veganize. I might make a half batch of those anyway just to try them out. Either way, I'll post any recipes I decide to make plus pictures. I'm so excited to bake cookies it's ridiculous!