Monthly Archives: August 2009

Peanut Butter Pancakes and Lotsa Granola

So, I’m back at Pomona College to start my senior year! I’m nervous about the workload and senior thesis and, well, becoming a real person in 9 months time, but am also super excited to be back with my friends and settle in to this new schedule. I’m living with three of my best friends in an adorable suite, and life is good at the moment.

My last few days at home were full of some decadent treats because I knew I’d go back to eating a lot more Hugh Jass (in honor of Shelby!) salads once I was back at the dining hall. I’m not complaining; I do love salads, and there is some pretty decent vegan food here in Claremont – but still. I also knew I’d mostly be having cereal in my room for breakfast – so I wanted to pack in some variety pre-departure. Take, for example, these Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Pancakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Syrup. I know, I know! The pancakes are from the PPK (but with chips added), and the syrup is Celine’s recipe!

I love this pancake recipe so much! It’s seriously just ground oats, peanut butter, banana, and soy milk (well, and baking powder, and I added chocolate chips and a pinch of salt – but still, super simple!) I liked making pancakes with oats instead of regular flour and the peanut butter-banana flavor was perfectly balanced. Topped with the syrup and fresh bananas, this was the perfect breakfast to have my last day at home. I may have even enjoyed these little love cakes alongside a glass of chocolate soy milk. ;)

A funny thing about the batter was that I had it two days in a row, so I kept it in the fridge overnight, and the next morning, it had turned into oatmeal. Peanut butter-banana oatmeal. The oats had absorbed all the liquid, and it had gotten really thick. It probably would have been delicious as it was actually (minus the baking powder!)

I also made two kinds of granola for my dear little sister, Olivia, who just began her second year at Colgate University in NY (she plays DI soccer there!). She’s a big granola fan, but has pretty high standards. Apparently, standards that Colgate cannot fulfill. So of course she called me! She requested an apple-cinnamon batch, so I made one of those, plus another for experiment’s sake. For the apple cinnamon, I used the recipe for Greg’s Granola in Vegan Lunch Box, but that seems too oddly personal of a name, so I’m going to call it Apple-Cinnamon-Almond Granola, okay?

I followed the recipe except for using all dried apples (instead of apples + raisins), and subbing the pecans with Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Almonds. It came out really well–a little sweet, but not over the top.

I also made Pecan-Cranberry Olive Oil Granola from the New York Times website (subbing the pecans and cranberries for the pistachios and apricots in the original recipe, and switching the cardamom for extra cinnamon). I personally would have made it with the given flavor combo, but Liv is a bit picky and I wanted to make sure she’d like it! I wish I could say I chose to make olive oil granola in honor of my sister’s name (I call her Olive sometimes), but honestly, it just looked really, really good.

Granola mountain!  This was my first time using olive oil in granola (although I have used it in blueberry muffins before and the result was delicious!), and I’d definitely do it again! It gave the granola a super rich, almost “buttery” taste that fat-free granola, or even granola made with canola oil, would certainly not have. This recipe had a bit more sugar (maybe to mask the olive-y taste?), but whatever. A crowd-pleaser for sure!

Be back soon with some more of my last-minute eats at home, including, oh, I don’t know, Teesey nachos and stuffed mochi? Oops. Gave that one away, didn’t I?

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More Vegan Brunch: Muffins and Frittata

So I’m still steadily making my way through Vegan Brunch – don’t you worry. First up, Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins! Made with half the fat (hello applesauce!) and a little bit of whole wheat flour because I ran out of spelt at 1 3/4 cups…

These muffins had such a nice springy texture and didn’t crumble apart in the slightest. Spelt’s the best, yo. And who can resist those bursting trickles of bluebie juice and little nubs of crystallized ginger peeking out of that muffin top?

I also made the Curried Cauliflower Frittata. This was good, but I didn’t loveee it.

I added an extra carrot because adding extra veggies is always better, but besides that, didn’t make any changes!

Here it is after inverting it. I kind of liked the first way better though…maybe I just don’t know what a frittata is supposed to look like?…

I definitely thought it needed a bit more salt, and the curry flavor was a little bit strong (to be fair though, Isa does warn that you might want to decrease the curry powder). The worst part of it was that I started making it with my friend Jo, but she had to leave halfway through and never got any. Sorry, Jo. Good thing it wasn’t amazing, or I would have felt really bad!

So, this post isn’t just brunch! I have a cookie recipe too. I made some significant changes to an old recipe I had lying around. I made these for a democratic event that my mom was volunteering for, hence the picture after the recipe. These cookies are delightfully chewy with a crisp exterior, and the lemon-cranberry-almond pairing – er, tripling? – is to die for! The banana flavor is subtle, but there. Enjoy.

Oatmeal-Lemon-Cranberry-Almond Bundle Cookies
(Adapted/healthified from my school’s coffee house’s recipe)
Makes two to three dozen

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar
2 bananas
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted almond slivers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer, combine the sugar, banana, EB, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients, finishing with the cranberries and almonds. Form cookies into small balls and slightly flatten on a lightly greased baking tray (they won’t spread much at all). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops turn golden brown (they’ll firm up a lot on the tray, so don’t overbake them!)

PB and J Bread and Sweet Potato Crepes

Okay, I have wanted to make Celine’s PB and J Quick Bread from Have Cake, Will Travel FOR-EV-ER. I finally got around to it this week, and thank god I did! What a freaking good idea.

I followed the recipe exactly, but I left out 2 Tbs each of the PB and strawberry jam to swirl in at the end to make sure that there’d be some visible ribbons of goodness.

This bread is really nice – just sweet enough, but still simple and wholesome. I liked the oat-y taste as well!

And what’s a PB&J lover to do with PB&J bread? Um, put more PB&J on it, silly.

Maybe that is gluttonous, but it felt so right.

As hard as it may be to believe, I’m gonna move on to something even better. The dish I’m about to show you was possibly the most delectable thing I’ve ever made! At the very least, one of the fanciest, and most presentable. Sweet Potato Crepes with Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance! Isa makes this in the Valentine’s Day episode of the PPK cooking show, but I thought that it’s being Tuesday was a good enough occasion for them, don’t you?

Yes, this recipe took over two hours to make. Yes, with the filling, sauce, and crepe batter, it was complicated. Yes, I had to scrounge up some semi-exotic ingredients. Yes, I toasted and ground my own Indian spices. But was it worth it? YES.

The filling is sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, some toasty spices, and coconut milk. The sauce is primarily cilantro, tamarind, cashews, and maple syrup. The crepes are made with chickpea flour (it called for all-purpose flour too, but I subbed spelt, added a 1/4 cup of extra water, and they were perfect, so it’s a forgiving recipe!). It all came together wonderfully. My mom actually thought the crepes had a pleasant slightly sour taste to them, sort of like injera bread, which is fine because injera rocks.

Vegan Camping: Chili Bake and S’mores!

Sorry for the long absence. Sometimes I just get really overwhelmed by photo editing and uploading and I retreat into my virtual cave where no social media can ever find me or make me feel guilty for avoiding it. I’m sure you all know the feeling. :)

Anyhow, my best friend Jo and I drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday with my dog Rupert (THAT was a fun car ride…), and then Jo, my dad, and I camped for a night near Lake Mary, just outside Flag. For most people, I’m guessing camping means Mac ‘n Cheese, hot dogs, and maybe some oatmeal. But in our household–especially when I’m along for the ride – we’re a bit more gourmet. It didn’t hurt that my mom, sister and I had just bought my dad a Dutch oven for his birthday, either! Knowing we’d have the oven, I decided on the Cornmeal Chili Bake from The Everyday Vegan. That just screams “camping,” doesn’t it? I opted to use canned chili instead of making my own because there’s no need to make things too complicated, is there? Plus, TJ’s vegetarian chili is yummy and full of tofu crumbles (that look alarmingly like ground beef, actually)!

I also may or may not have gone to my favorite vegan restaurant Green beforehand specifically to purchase some Cheddar Teese (and ricemilk chocolate for s’mores), and what goes better together than chili and cheddar “cheese?”

So, we just poured the chili in the Dutch oven…

Spread on the cornmeal topping, which was made by whisking cornmeal and seasoning in boiling water on our cooking stove…

Me and my dad! I handled the cooking and he handled equipment logistics…

Put the top on and piled on the coals…

Sprinkled some Teese on a few minutes before it was done, and voilà! Melty comfort food goodness.

The only unfortunate thing was that our cornmeal topping sunk into the chili (I think it boiled because we couldn’t control the oven temperature like you can in a real oven…), but it didn’t matter because it was still delicious and there were still thick chunks of cooked polenta throughout the stew. We ate it with TJ’s Hemp Tortilla Chips for a nice crunch and dipping assistance! I want to make this every time I go camping…

What self-respecting vegans could go camping without at least attempting to reach that pinnacle of camping activities that is the s’more? S’mores are an entirely possible treat to veganize, but they definitely take some work and planning. In the traditional s’more, you have honey-laced graham crackers sandwiching milk-laden chocolate and gelatin-composed marshmallows. Ew, ew, and ew. So what’s a vegan to do? Well, use Sweet & Sara Vanilla Marshmallows (you could use Dandies too!), track down a Terra Nostra Ricemilk Choco Bar, and make your own graham crackers! Here’s Jo and I having some serious vegan best friend time around the campfire, roasting marshmallows:

And the completed s’more:

Sorry the photos are bad, but they were taken without a flash when it was completely dark except for one measly little gas light!

We also made “banana s’mores.” Should I coin that invention? The marshmallows were fine, but they were pretty stale (I have no idea how long ago I bought them…), so after one classic s’more each, we opted for these–banana’s stuffed with peanut butter and ricemilk chocolate, wrapped in tin foil, and nestled into the coals to melt and caramelize!

These were so good. Bananas are better – and healthier – than marshmallows, so what’s not to love? We squashed them between graham crackers once they were done too! Speaking of the graham crackers, I bet you’re curious how I made them! Graham crackers are traditionally made with graham flour – surprise! – which has a specifically altered proportion of bran to germ to endosperm to make them crunchier, but I made Isa’s recipe for Gwam Crackers, which solely uses whole wheat flour.

They turned out great – just sweet enough and lightly kissed with cinnamon.

Schmeared with PB:

Drenched in PB and melted chocolate chips:

Okay, so back to camping food! Breakfast next morning was, you guessed it, Scrambled Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance. What a classic. And it comes together like this! *Snaps fingers.* I always use a ton more vegetables than the 2 cups of mushrooms called for. This one included zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper as well!

We jazzed it up with s’more (and you thought I was done with s’mores…) Teese, and served it with TJ’s Chunky Salsa. I will never ever ever get sick of this meal. Ever.

More photos from camping and hiking!

I think Jo had a better time with my dad than with me…

Rupert has to wear hiking booties because the pads on his paws are sensitive. Poor baby.

And here’s his aggressive side; though I bet you’d chomp like that too if there was a piece of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread schmeared with Maranatha peanut butter in front of you…

Cheese and Chocolate

No, not together. And not real cheese either. Obviously.

So the chocolate fest began on Monday night when my mom commissioned me to make dessert for an early birthday bash for my dad (his actual birthday’s tomorrow, but my sister Livie left for college on Tuesday, so we had to push it up a couple days…). I only recently acquired My Sweet Vegan, and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to take it for a spin. I wish I could say that I chose to make the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie because it’s my dad’s favorite, or something adorably sentimental like that, but really, it was the first decent recipe I found for which we had all the ingredients. :) It was dayummm good though! Here’s my pops blowing out his candles:

Okay, you got me. He’s not 23. Just like my recipe choice, the pie toppers were dictated by what was available.

Mmm. This is definitely a special occasion pie, as it’s LOADED with Earth Balance and sugar, but it was so delicious. I think next time I made it, I would just use the concept of this recipe, but use a super healthy cookie dough recipe like Dreena’s. But it was fun to make this once!

Something else I made recently – okay, so it’s not chocolate, but carob is close enough – Oatmeal Muffins from Eat’n Veg’n. Look at these cuties:

They’re super dense and healthy (mine were especially dense because I only made 10 muffins instead of 18), but in a good way! And they’re wheat/flour-free and sugar-free (besides the carob chips I added). They’re literally just bananas, peanut butter, oats, carob chips, cinnamon, raisins, and a little baking powder! And those, my friends, are a lot of my favorite things. :) They also make a fun template – you can switch up the nut butter, spices, and mix-ins easily.

Okay, another real chocolate recipe. Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Cookies from Simple Treats. This was my first time using this cookbook as well, though I can’t for the life of me imagine why! It’s right up my alley – delicious and healthy baked goods free of refined sugar and flour (they use barley flour instead of wheat flour in all the recipes).

I followed the recipe, but just swirled in a little peanut butter at the end to make them pretty. Did I do a good job? ;) That is not a rhetorical question.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a cookie where I didn’t replace half the oil with applesauce or something, so this recipe was a welcome change because, with a cup of peanut butter and a bit of canola oil, these cookies achieved a “buttery,” flaky texture that my baking often lacks. I think I generally prefer “hippier,” chewier baked goods, but these were amazing and reminded me of these chocolate almond cookies my mom used to always make for me when I was pulling all-nighters writing papers in high school before I was vegan. :)

Enough chocolate! You want “cheese,” right? Thought so.

Macaroni and “Cheese” Casserole from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook. Look at that cute little curious noodle poking it’s noochy head up into the wide world from it’s cozy bed of bread crumbs:

I didn’t actually have any of this because I was helping my mom out by making it for one of her sick friends. Her friend loves Mac ‘n Cheese apparently, and my mom was going to make her some until I stepped in and set things right. :) It sure smelled good though. If I ever make this for myself however, I will probably quarter the fat or something. Lots and lots of Earth Balance and oil. I was too afraid to alter it for my mom’s omnivore friend because I didn’t want to lower the fat too much and give vegan food a bad rap since I have no experience with this recipe.

Naturally, I wanted something cheesy after making that dish for someone else, so I made the Zucchini Chedda Soup from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook with the optional brown rice added for extra comfort food power.

I’m not really sure I can accurately recall the taste of real cheese, but this tasted pretty freaking cheesy to me. Seriously, if someone else served this soup to me, I would’ve been like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you trying to pull?” The cheddar-cheese color comes from roasted red bell peppers blended up with a lot of nooch and other delicious things. I added a little turmeric and mustard for extra color, too. Look, it even stretches like cheese!

That’s it, except for some bonus smoothies! Here’s a blueberry-banana-cinnamon:

And here’s a yummy green monster, with mango, banana, kale, spinach, spirulina, hemp and flax.

Green smoothies really are the perfect breakfast. I need to have them more like every other day than once a week, which is what I do now. It’s insane how much nutrition you can pack into one Magic Bullet cup.

Did this post acquit me of my laziness in the past few days? I hope so! Oh, and Ruby Red Vegan, I sent your Weil bars out today!

Moussaka and Miraval

Sorry for the long absence, dear bloggies! It was a busy weekend, starting on Thursday, when I became a level 7 vegan. You know those famous recipes that stand out among the many within the vegan (blogging) community? I know you know what I’m talking about – Chickpea Cutlets, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Tofu Ricotta, Smlove Pie. I could go on, but they’re those recipes that almost every vegan has either tried, been meaning to try for as long as their (algae-derived supplement provided) omega-3-powered mind can remember, or have given up on trying because they seem too complicated. Anyways, one of those recipes is the Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon. I’ve had the page dog-eared ever since I bought the book, but was always too lazy or didn’t have the time to make this decadently rich Mediterranean feast of a meal. But I’m proud to announce that I finally overcame that lameness and kicked some serious moussaka a**!

I made the sauce and pine nut cream and roasted the vegetables the night before, so the day of I only had to assemble it, which was super easy. I thought this would be a fun recipe to do a step-by-step preparation series for:

Tomato sauce and (whole wheat) bread crumb layer over the initial layering of eggplant and potatoes:

And zucchini over that:

After the second and final layer of tomato sauce and bread crumbs, the celebrated pine nut cream:

Spreadage:

Topped with pine nuts!

All golden-browned and luscious right out of the oven:

Sorry I don’t have any gooey inside shots! It was for a dinner party, and I didn’t have the time or light to snap a picture!

Anyways, the moussaka totally lived up to the hype, and my dad even said it might be the best thing I’ve ever made! The subtly cinnamon-spiked tomato sauce was to die for, and the pine nut cream was thick, tangy, rich, and downright cheesy. Who needs noodles when you can make a lasagne-like dish as good as this with only layers of vegetables? This is definitely a “make again.” Hooray for vegan milestones!

Early the next morning, and still in slight food comas from the night before (okay, maybe that was just me?), my mom, sister, and I drove up to Miraval Resort in Tucson, my mom’s favorite spa getaway!

It was my sister and I’s first time there, and I was very excited after hearing my mom rave about it the last time she went. You basically get to live in the lap of luxury for the duration of your stay, and because it’s a pre-paid package deal, eat however much, and do whatever classes and activities you like! I did Morning Yoga, Body Conditioning, Yogilates, the Evening Photography Walk, Swing and a Prayer (a ropes course challenge!), and Dream Yoga, and attended a Cooking Demo, an Introduction to Ayurveda, Tea Here Now (a two-hour class on tea that included an authentic Chinese tea ceremony!), and a class called Changing Your Metabolism. It was such a great experience, and as you can guess, I was absolutely exhausted afterwards (wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a relaxation resort?)

The food was delicious and healthy of course, with calorie counts on everything – you might think that would make eating stressful, but it was more just an affirmation of the lifestyle that Miraval represented. Over the course of two days I enjoyed a huge variety of fresh produce and salads, delicious vegetable juice blends, plenty of baked sweet potato (which I smothered with cinnamon and Miraval’s reduced fat peanut butter that’s made by blending PB with carrots), delicious mango-mint soup, and this (the one thing I got a picture of…), tofu-vegetable stir-fry with sweet plum sauce over brown rice:

I can only hope I’m lucky enough to go again someday! In the meantime, here are some cool pictures I took during my photography walk there:

This was actually a sign for the Agave Center, where yoga was held, but being the food blogger/health nut nerd that I am, I had to get this shot:

I never got a chance to go swimming, but this guy and his happy feet make me wish I had…

Mesquite pods! We have a tree in my front yard actually, and I really want to try grinding my own mesquite flour soon! They smell heavenly, especially when it rains. All sweet ‘n smoky.

The night we got back from Miraval, I wanted a quick and easy yet delicious meal–and a warm, cooked one that would address the vata imbalance I found out I had in my ayurveda class (I’m a vata-pitta by the way, but, given that like increases like in ayurveda, my vata is totally out of control and needs some kapha to tone it down…). Just ignore me if you think I’m crazy! To get to the point, it seemed like something like pumpkin soup would fit the kapha bill, so I decided to try the Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup from The Vegan Table:

I could say I followed the recipe except for a couple of changes, but that’s not really true. I changed a lot. I added a Tbs of peanut butter because I’m me. I also added extra cinnamon and cumin, and even put in some curry powder because the strong cardamom flavor was tripping me out. I generally love unique and unexpected sweet/savory combos, but for some reason, the cardamom in this soup was too much for me. And, because I hate to let a meal go by without anything green in it, I added a few cups of baby spinach. I think it’s better with the spinach actually. Without it, the soup’s a little one dimensional. Still, though, this is a good recipe! And it does benefit from a day in the fridge – as most things do, right?

Finally, my breakfast after the longest run of my life on Sunday (9.5ish miles): a young coconut!

And not just any young coconut…a frozen young coconut! I had it in the freezer because I wasn’t sure if it could go bad since I’d never had one before. I took it out to thaw before my run and assumed it would have melted, but I cracked it open to find a coconut ice ball! It sucked because I had to wait awhile to eat it, but once it softened a little, I just broke it up and it turned into a delicious and refreshing coconut slushie. It’s like nature’s icee! The true vitamin water if you will. Full of electrolytes, vitamins, and nutrients, I think I’ve finally found my perfect post-run recharge meal! Screw Vitamin Water. This is vitamin water.

Fat-Free Blueberry-Banana Bread

This is just a little teaser to hold you over until later when you can see what I’m making for dinner tonight! So consider it an appetizer. Who says banana bread can’t be an appetizer?

As you might guess from the post title, this Blueberry-Banana Bread is from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog! The recipe’s ridiculously simple and health, sticking to the happy minimum of ingredients so the bananas and blueberries – which I’ve recently started calling “bluebies” because it’s easier to say, is that weird? – can really hold their own.

I followed the recipe, but added a pinch of cinnamon, because, um, blueberries + bananas – cinnamon = error. This bread rose wonderfully and had a great moist texture that we all loved. Being so mildly sweet and healthful, it’s definitely a great breakfast bread. Especially during the summer when all you want to eat is carton after carton of bluebies!

How can you resist whole-wheat, fat-free, agave-based baked goods? Don’t try to answer that.

Now, if only I could eat a hunk the size of my head without worrying that my tummy would protest…