Saturday, April 30, 2011

Giveaway Announcement!

Okay, you got me, here it is. My super-awesome, every-Friday-in-May, giveaway!

First Friday:

The Conscious Cook by Tall Ronnen

Second Friday:

Veganize This by Jenn Shagren (ahem, please excuse the Amazon photo...)

Third Friday:

Ani's Raw Food Essentials by Ani Phyo

And the Final Friday:

Twinkie Chan's Crochet Goodies for Fashion Foodies!

Each book will also come with a few vegan snickety-snacks tucked inside!

Details about the book and the giveaway "rules" (if you want to call them that) will be posted each Friday in that giveaway's blog post.

What a better way to celebrate spring than with some new cookbooks?!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baklava Oatmeal!

Sorry, for the slow posting! It's the end of the semester, and I'm running around like crazy trying to get all my projects / speeches / reports / presentations / tests / homework / extra credit out of the way before finals. Blech. I am so stoked about this semester ending. My super exciting giveaway announcement is coming up soon, I swear! I'm going to have a giveaway every Friday in the month of May, so please stay tuned! I need to take some pictures before I announce just what I got up my sleeve!

Anywho, the other night I was trying to study for my math test, but a certain little dog was extremely bored. After lying all over me, then rolling around on my homework, he finally decided he could get some attention by playing tug-of-war with the clothing I was presently wearing (he also has an affinity for the old-man sweaters I wear). He didn't give up until he got tired! After which he sat next to me and had a snickety snack to recharge. Lol. He's a strange one.  
But speaking of that math test... I was in need of some good brain food before I ventured out into the world. I had just happened to have the makings of baklava on hand, so I decided that some baklava oatmeal was in order! It really turned out perfect and the wholesome goodness was just what I needed to power through my test. I did have to prep this the night before because a little soaking time was required for the figs, but that actually make my morning breakfast making go much quicker. I'm pretty sure you'll love this (and sorry about the icky photo! I use my cell phone, lol)!

Baklava Oatmeal:1/2 c. rolled or old-fashioned oats
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
2 dried figs, chopped
1/2 Tb. raisins
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch cardamom
1/2 Tb. agave or honey
2 Tb. chopped mixed nuts (pistachios, walnuts, and almonds are a great combo)

1. In a bowl, combine the oats, almond milk, figs, and raisins. Cover and let sit overnight.

2. The next morning, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom. Nuke in the microwave 2-4 minutes (depends on your microwave). Stir in the agave and top with chopped nuts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chickpea and Spinach Soup

Okay, remember how I said I wasn't going to post any more soup recipes for awhile because I was souped out?

Well... I lied.

But this soup was unplanned! I was making a salad the other night, and I reached in the pantry to get a can of what I thought was chickpeas. Turns out it was diced tomatoes. Argh! What am I going to do with an opened can of diced tomatoes?? I just put it in the fridge until I could figure out something to do with it. I also didn't like my salad concoction (it really was a concoction... I won't even tell you what was on it, lol) so I had spare chickpeas and cooked quinoa lying around as well.

Today, with the realization that I'll be out of town for a few days, I was like, "what am I going to do with all these random open ingredients and veggies?!". So, to my chargin, I made soup. Delicious, delicious, soup!

I was able to use up a lot of odds n' ends I had hanging around in a satisfying and nutritious soup. This will definitely be a repeat recipe. It's low in calories, high in vitamin A, and the quinoa helps make it a complete protein. I served it alongside some crusty Italian bread slathered with a little vegan butter. Yummers. Also, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook, and that includes the prep time! This is definitely a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Chickpea and Spinach Soup:
1 (14 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 c. canned chickpeas
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 c. baby spinach, washed
1/2 c. cooked quinoa (or 1/4 c. dry)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. plain, unsweetened soyogurt
1 c. vegetable broth

1. In a soup pot, saute the onions with a little nonstick over medium-high heat until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, and turmeric and saute another minute, or until fragrant.
2. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, quinoa, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, and an additional one cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the spinach and soyogurt and allow to simmer until the spinach has wilted. Stir thoroughly to blend in the yogurt. Sea salt to taste.

This recipe makes about 4 large servings (about a cup and a half each). For each serving, you get 160 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 7.7 grams of fiber (whodathunk?), 8.2 grams of protein, 88.9% of your Vitamin A, 29.6% of your Vitamin C, 9.8% of your Calcium, and 13.6% of your Iron (which is aided in absorption by the Vitamin C, yay!).


Stay turned for a giveaway annoucement!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adventures at Big Lots and Cocoa Banana Muffin Deliciousness

Well, the other day I made a Big Lots stop. I know I've mentioned that place before, but this time I took a few pictures of my adventures. I didn't want to take too many though, I felt a little weird whipping out my phone and taking pictures of boxes in public...

Big Lots contains a wide variety of food. There always seems to be canned organic soups and beans, as well as organic cereals, dry roasted nuts and seeds, and aseptic cartons of veggie broth. You know, some pretty good basics. I've ran into Amy's brand products, Muir Glen brand products, and even all-natural products from Europe like low-sugar black currant jam (yum, by the way). However, we all know that junk food sells, and Big Lots contains their fair share. I randomly picked up a bag of some chocolatey cereal snack mix, flipped it over, and this was what I found:

Could that ingredients list be any longer?! I didn't bother to count, but I can guarentee there is like, three different forms of milk, four different forms of sugar, a medly of partially hydrogenated oils, and no nutrition. Yuck.

The next item I found I almost bought, just because the box is so damn awesome. I get it, they're made from stone-ground wheat, but when you phrase it like this:

They become epic conversation pieces. Haha... Stoner jokes... Anywho, as I'm going through my photos I found that I only took two, so apparently my adventure at Big Lots was a little less adventure and a little more of a... something that isn't quite as big as an adventure. I shall now leave you with a recipe for some super moist and tasty cocoa-banana muffins. Chocolate and banana just belong together, and the little bits of walnuts and chocolate chips make this a decadent muffin.

Cocoa-Banana Muffins:
3 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c. almond milk + 1/2 Tb. lemon juice
3 Tb. neutral-tasting oil (like good ol' vegetable or canola)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Scant 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. unsweetened, plain soyogurt
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1/8 c. mini vegan chocolate chips (I love Enjoy Life brand)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a muffin tin for use. I used liners this time because I found some in my cabinet!

2. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas well, until they're mostly pureed. Add the almond milk and lemon juice, stir, then set aside. No use dirtying up a cup, eh?

3. In a large bowl, combine the unbleached AP flour, the whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a whisk until well-combined.

4. To the bowl with the bananas and almond milk, add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, soyogurt, and oil. Whisk together until combined and then pour the wet ingredients into the dry.

5. Stir the muffin batter until just combined (about 50 strokes), then mix in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. If I remember right, this batter is a little thick, so no worries. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full and bake and 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork/toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the tins for a minute or two, and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Or, you could just do what I do and pop them out and let them sit in the tin on their sides. Ye-ah!

This makes 24 regular-sized or 12 large muffins. Also, if you use paper cups and want to eat them hot, they'll stick to the paper. Once they're completely cooled, they won't stick. Now here comes the magic, if you make 24 of these babies, their chocolately, walnutty, banana-y goodness comes out to 104 calories per muffin. As for everything else: 3.4 grams fat, 1.7 grams protein, and not much else! Makes for a tasty snack though!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This One Night, I Got Fancy... And Made Rice

Yep. I got fancy and I made myself a regular meal with two sides! Normally, I'm pretty busy, so this definitely took a little bit of planning. I made myself some mushroom orzo-rice pilaf, steamed asparagus with vegan butter and lemon juice, and some orange-glazed tofu. However, there were definitely some winners and losers with this dinner.

After all the hard work I put into it, the recipe for the orange-glazed tofu was simply... meh. It had a five star rating (it was previously a chicken recipe), but I think that because it was a glaze and not a marniade, it didn't lend much flavor to the tofu (except on the yummy edges of course, lol). I won't make this particular recipe again, but hey, at least it was a good reminder that I should marniate my tofu for maximum deliciousness.

With the leftovers, I simply sliced them a rolled them up into a wrap with a various assortment of vegetables (including leftover asparagus). They were just meh, too. BBQ sauce helped!

However, the mushroom orzo-rice pilaf was killer. I loved it. This actually wasn't the first time I've made this recipe though. I've made it for my boyfriend before and he likes it as well. It has a great, savory flavor that goes well with a wide variety of dishes. The orzo itself is a small, rice-like pasta that adds a nice texure to dishes. You can usually find it in a small box in the rice and pasta aisle. It can be used for soups, cold grain salads, and hot side dishes, so if you buy a box I promise you find uses for it! Lol.

And, since I've officially made the recipe more than once, I can now put it on my blog (must test and re-test!). So for your side dish enjoyment, I present you with:

Mushroom Orzo-Rice Pilaf:
2 Tb. vegan butter
1/2 c. orzo pasta (check for vegan-ness)
1/2 c. brown rice
1/2 Tb. minced garlic
1 1/2 c. mixed white button and crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, finely chopped
1 c. onion, finely chopped
2 c. veggie broth/water
Sliced, toasted almonds

1. Melt 1 Tb. butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook and stir the brown rice until until golden brown. Stir in onion and mushrooms and cook until onion becomes translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2. Add the mushroom-onion-rice mixture to a saucepan and combine with the vegetable broth and/or water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes (or until brown rice is with 10 minutes of being fully cooked).

3. Once the rice is pretty much done, melt the rest of the butter in the same skillet. Add the orzo pasta and saute until golden brown over medium low heat.
 Add the orzo to the saucepan with the rice, and allow it to simmer until both the rice and pasta are completely done, about 15 minutes. You may need to add a little more water in order to cook the pasta.

4. Drain off any excess broth (if there is any), then allow it to stand for 5 minutes. Before serving, fluff with a fork and serve with a few sprinkles of toasted almond slices on top.

*OR you could just use white rice and cook the orzo pasta and rice together, in about 20-25 minutes. The only rice I keep in my pantry is brown (love the texture!), so I usually have to modify recipes that call for white.

I'm still gonna keep working on these kind of baked tofu recipes though. They go great with old-fashioned sides like mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans, and I miss that kind of comfort food sometimes.

What type of comfort food to you all enjoy? Like I said, I'm a veggies and potatoes kind of girl. :)
Have a great evening!