May 31, 2011

Banana Split Pie


I recently went through my mom's recipe collection again, looking for sugary inspiration and I stumbled upon one that was given to her by one of our family friends. Actually, the family friend I'm talking about has a daughter who's vegan. So this recipe is dedicated to you Jennifer! Next time I'll have to make it the way your Mom actually had it written down.

So I should probably explain how I went wrong. On the recipe card, it had all the ingredients and directions on the front. It basically said to throw the ingredients in a blender or food processor (which I did) and put into a pan and bake for 10 minutes to set. So I did. I then proceeded to flip over the recipe later and realized that was the directions for the pie crust alone, not the filling. Oops. I'm definitely going to make this again since it's so good! You'll just have to wait for my 2nd edition!

Crust Ingredients:

  • Somewhere around 40 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine (I used Earth Balance Margarine)

Blend the cookies in a blender or food processor until crumbly. Add melted margarine and process until blended well. Press firmly into a 9 inch pie pan. Bake at 350F  for 5-10 minutes until set. Cool before filling.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 quart of vegan strawberry ice cream, softened
  • 8 oz of canned, crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup of vegan whipped cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until well combined. Pour into the cooled pie crust. Top with chopped nuts and chocolate chips. Freeze for 4 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before cutting.

Vegan Confessions
So off the topic of the pie for a second, this week I came up with the idea of "Vegan Confessions". I know we'd all like to think we're perfect, but we're not. Also, I know being "Vegan" doesn't automatically make you a certain way, we're all so completely different! What spawned this idea was that I was sitting in the kitchen at my Aunt and Uncle's house and Keeva was lying next to me. Then I noticed a bug crawling on her and as I took a closer look, it was a tick! Now, she's had ticks crawling on her before and I usually go put them outside, but this time I flushed it down the drain, and guilt ensued.

"Hi, My name is Matthew, and I killed a bug" There, I said it! Does anybody else have any Vegan confessions they'd like to fess up to? Vegan Heartland is a safe place, so don't be shy!

May 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes


Lord help me now. These are so good! I got the idea to make Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes when Priscila asked me on Facebook to try my hand at making a strawberry shortcake. Sadly I don't own a round cake pan, but my birthday is coming up soon (*hint, hint Mom*)! So I improvised as best as I could. As we all know, I love a good cupcake, so I couldn't put these down. I even had two for breakfast the next morning. I swear I'm cutting back on sugar...just as soon as these cupcakes are gone! There's actually strawberries on the inside of the cupcake as well. I tried to get a good picture, but it didn't look like anything special. The taste was spectacular though!

*Makes 12 cupcakes*

Ingredients:

Follow the directions to make the batter for my Perfect Yellow Cupcakes. Once the batter is done, place the liners in your cupcake pan and grease them. Put a small amount of batter into the bottom of the liner, about 1/4 of the way full. Layer 3-5 slices of strawberries on top, then top the strawberries with more batter. Don't overfill the cupcake liners. It shouldn't be completely full! Bake 18-21 minutes in a 350F oven. Check at 15 minutes to maker sure the tops aren't getting too brown! Allow to cool before decorating.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 container of whippable vegan whipped cream (I used Mimic Creme's Healthy Top, but Soyatoo makes a great one too!)
  • 1 container of vegan cream cheese (I used Galaxy's new Cream Cheese! So good!)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup mashed strawberries or strawberry jam
First whip together your whipping cream until it forms peaks without falling. Then add your cream cheese and shortening and blend together again. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, and strawberries and mix together. Frost after the cupcakes have cooled completely.

May 18, 2011

VH BASICS: Making Your Own Vegetable Broth


It's that time again! Time for another edition of VH: BASICS! This is actually going to be tying in with another post that I'll be doing soon that has to do with money saving tips. This really does save you a lot of money though. Especially if you use a lot of vegetable broth like I do! My strategy for making my own vegetable broth starts with having a stock bin in my freezer!

Items you'll need:
  • Stock Vegetables
  • 1 gallon of water
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Large Storage Container or Mason Jars for Freezing
  • Strainer
Any time I feel like I have produce in my refrigerator that is going to go bad before I use it, it gets thrown in the stock bin! Also, little scraps that usually get thrown away or composted (Asparagus bottoms, herb stalks, onion peels, carrot peels, broccoli stalks) get thrown in the bin as well! In my current bin I had celery, onion, asparagus, carrot, kale stems, green onions, parsley stems, broccoli stalks and diced tomatoes. All you do is keep it frozen in the stock bin and when it's starting to get full, just throw it all in a stock pot!

To add more flavor, I also added a bunch of flat leaf parsley that I had on hand for another recipe. I also had a whole bulb of garlic that I chopped in half. Don't worry about all the skins and chunks! It all gets strained later! 

Just throw it all in the stock pot with a gallon of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours. Once it's done simmering, get a large bowl and place it in your sink (just in case of a spill....). Then put a strainer in the bowl and pour the entire contents of the stock pot into the strainer. Make sure all the chunks are removed! I like to pour mine into mason jars and freeze it for future use. If you're storing it in the fridge, it will be good for about a week!

May 17, 2011

Chik'n Seitan Noodle Soup


I guess some people think soup season is drawing to a close as summer is fast approaching. I am not one of those people! I don't know about you guys, but I eat hot soups all year round. Even on the hottest summer days I'm eating a big bowl of my Minestrone. Now it looks like I have another great soup to add to my soup rotation!

I had bought a package of Westsoy's Chicken Seitan a while ago when I found it on sale at one of my local co-ops. I made a Seitan Pot Pie with it before and thought it was really really good, so I wanted to try it again! It sat in my fridge for the longest time and I couldn't figure out what to do with it. So I was looking in my fridge and decided what needed to be used up before it went bad. I had a few carrots, half a bunch of celery, half of an onion already chopped, and then this Chik'n Seitan. Sounded like the perfect time to make soup to me. Especially since it's been so cool and rainy here in Minnesota lately.

What do you guys think? Tell me I'm not crazy for eating hot soup all year long! Do you guys do the same thing?

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or No-Chicken broth)
  • 1 package of Westsoy's Chicken Style Seitan diced or shredded (or your favorite vegan chik'n)
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot
  • 3/4 cup diced potatoes (small chunks)
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 - 1 cup pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and potato until the onion has become translucent. Add in the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, reduce heat to simmer, then add the seitan, parsely, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Then add the pasta and cook on simmer according to package directions. When pasta is done cooking, remove from heat and serve! I love to serve with crusty bread to dip in the broth!

May 15, 2011

Simple Sloppy Joes


Hello again everyone! It's time for another one of my family's recipes! This one is my grandpa's recipe for sloppy joes. If it contained meat, my grandpa was usually the one cooking it!

I don't know if I ever told you guys this, but my grandpa was a butcher during all of my growing up years! Can you believe it? I can't imagine what he thought when I came over and told him I was going to be a vegetarian! He really is the best grandpa ever though, because he was and still is really supportive. During the summer months, my family likes to get together at my grandparents' house for grill-outs. When I first became a vegetarian, he used to buy packages of veggie burgers for me to grill up. He even put them in tinfoil and bought a separate spatula to flip my burgers for me! Isn't that sweet? He's still not a huge animal rights supporter (he thinks Peta is the devil's work), but he supports me in whatever I do and understands why I do it. I really couldn't ask for anything more!

Ingredients:
  • 2 packages of Boca Ground Crumbles (or your favorite faux crumbles)
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped and ground or grated
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup tomato soup
  • 2 cups stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 cup - 1 cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and celery until the onion has become translucent. Then add the crumbles and heat through.

Pour in the stewed tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with your spoon, then add the tomato soup. Next, add the BBQ sauce, and then stir in the cornstarch. Mix thoroughly, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Wisconsin Cowboy Caviar


    No fish were harmed in the making of this caviar! Hey everyone! I hope everyone's spring is off to a fantastic start! Is anybody doing gardens this year? I started to (I showed off my seedlings on Facebook), but I think I'm going to be moving soon, so there really is no point in starting one here. Oh well! That just means I get to buy lots more yummy produce at the Farmers Markets this summer!

    It's been super hot here the passed few days. It's hard to believe it was actually snowing a couple of weeks ago. I was really set on not turning on the air conditioning this summer. If people could live without air conditioning 100 years ago, so can I! Well...right now I'm listening to the sound of my air conditioner. And it is good. I'm not gonna over use it though! I swear!

    So this recipe I got from my Aunt Tracy who I believe got it from her husband, my Uncle Justin. I think it was a recipe from his side of the family. This recipe is also called Cowboy Caviar by some, but I think that include avocadoes. Who knows! I do know that they usually eat this as a salsa with corn chips, but I think it makes a great salad! I eat it by the spoon!

    Dressing Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup light oil
    • 1/2 apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup agave)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper

    Add all of the dressing ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool while prepping the salad ingredients.

    Salad Ingredients:
    • 1 15oz can of pinto beans
    • 1 15oz can of black-eyed peas
    • 2 15oz cans of corn
    • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
    • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
    • 1 cup diced celery
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Rinse and drain all the canned vegetables. Wash and dice the fresh ingredients. Mix together and add the cilantro. Then add the dressing and refrigerate overnight. You can serve with tortilla chips or Fritos!

    May 8, 2011

    Apple Crisp Cheesecake


    So, I was honestly sitting there one day trying to think of what my favorite dessert was. I guess that's what I do when I have extra time on my hands. Exciting, right? On the one hand, I love apple crisp. It's the perfect dessert! It has healthy apples and oats, but is so sweet, warm, and delicious. But on the other hand, I also really love cheesecake. There's really nothing healthy in it, but the cool, creamy sweetness just gets me every time.

    Wait a second people. Put your hands together. Why not make apple crisp cheesecake? Genius! And that's where this idea was born. If you follow me on Facebook, you'll know it took me a few times to actually get this right. I've never made a baked cheesecake before! All the cheesecakes I ate growing up were completely refrigerated (like my Aunt Mary Jo's Cherry Cheesecake). So it took me a while to figure out the right ingredients (tofu or no tofu? No tofu.), the right baking temperature and time. But I finally got it! I also made my own crust, so that was a new experiment! It really does feel like you're getting both desserts for the price of one! You've got a layer of apple crisp right on top of your cheesecake. Could it get any better?

    Crust Ingredients:
    • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used Nabisco's Original Graham Crackers with no honey)
    • 3/4 cup rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup melted vegan shortening (I used Earth Balance Shortening)

    Preheat your oven to 350F.

    In a food processor, blend together the graham crackers, rolled oats, and brown sugar until well combined and powdery. After you've melted your shortening, pour it into the crust mixture and process until incorporated. Pour into a pie pan or springform pan and press down firmly and form the crust along the edges of the pan.
    Cheesecake Ingredients:
    • 2 8oz containers of vegan cream cheese
    • 2 tbsp corn starch
    • 6 tbsp water
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ginger
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract

    In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and water. In your food processor, blend together the cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla - then add your cornstarch/water mixture. Once well combined, pour on top of your graham cracker/oat crust.

    Apple Crisp Topping Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 tbsp melted shortening or coconut oil
    • 1 medium to large apple, peeled and thinly sliced

    Mix together your flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon until well combined. Stir in the melted shortening or oil.

    Arrange the thinly sliced apple on top of the cheesecake in a single layer. Top with the Apple Crisp Topping. Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes. Once it's done cooking, cool for 15 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

    I know a lot of people say a cheesecake is done cooking once you tap the sides and the middle doesn't jiggle. Well I tapped the side of my cheesecake after 50 minutes and the whole thing was jiggling. I took it out anyway and I hope the refrigeration would help set it. I was right because the texture was absolutely perfect! So don't worry if your is still jiggly when you take it out! Just refrigerate it overnight and you'll be fine!

    May 5, 2011

    Home-Made Baked Herb Croutons


    First off let me tell you, these croutons are so much better than store bought! Not to mention a lot cheaper! Now a days bags of croutons cost 3 or 4 dollars in the grocery store, while you can buy a baguette and make 2 to 3 times as many croutons! You'll never buy store bought again, I swear! I have to confess though, a lot of these weren't eating on top of a salad. They didn't make it that far. I had really good intentions of eating them with lots of healthy greens, so I stored them in a zip lock baggie. However, the next day when I was feeling "snacky", I opened the bag and ate the rest of them! Oh well! It's a good thing I only used half the baguette. Now I just have to practice self-control the next time around. Good luck!

    Ingredients:
    • 1 loaf of french baguette bread
    • about 1/2 cup olive oil (you could also do 1/4 oil and 1/4 cup melted earth balance)
    • 1 tsp oregano
    • 1 tsp basil
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 350F. Slice and cube your baguette into crouton shaped cubes.

    If you're using Earth Balance, melt that in the microwave. Then mix in the olive oil and seasonings. Mix in until the garlic and onion powder have blended well with the oils. Toss the bread together with the seasonings mixture and place the cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer.

    Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and toss them around to ensure even browning. Then return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

    May 3, 2011

    Beef(less) Stew with Flaky Biscuits


    These biscuits are to die for! I ate like five of them in one night. I don't how you guys ate your beef stew when you were younger, but I always remember my grandma cooking the biscuits right on top of the stew in the oven. That way, the top is crispy and flaky and the bottoms have soaked up the juices from the stew. So good! I found this recipe when my Mom and I sat down and looked through all of the family recipes she had and I knew I had to make it! 

    This was one of my favorite meals growing up. I always picked out the carrots, celery, and onion though and never ate them. Essentially all the healthy stuff. I was such a picky kid! Needless to say my taste buds have changed, so this stew is filled with yummy vegetables! It also includes Gardien's Homestyle beefless tips. I'm so glad one of my local grocery stores carried it because once I decided to make this recipe, I immediately thought of Gardein!

    If you're cooking for a crowd that includes meat eaters, I think this would be such a great meal to serve! It's such a comforting dish and it takes very little effort to make. Just chopping up a bunch of veggies really and dropping them in a casserole. The only real effort comes from making the biscuits. If you want to skip the biscuits all together (how could you?) then it would be a one pot wonder meal! To me though, the biscuits were the best part. There's something so satisfying when a dough comes together so perfectly for you. In this case I was lucky it did, because it's usually not the case.

    If you just want to make the biscuits seperately and not on top of the stew, I'll include directions on how to do that as well!

    Stew Ingredients:

    • 1-2 packages of Gardein's Homestyle beefless tips (or your favorite vegan meat product)
    • 2 cups diced potatoes
    • 2 cups chopped carrots
    • 1 cup chopped celery
    • 1 cup diced onion
    • 3 tbsp corn starch
    • 1 160z can of diced tomatoes
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Chop all the veggies and mix all the ingredients in a pan or casserole with a tight fitting lid.

    Bake at 250F for 5 hours. While the stew is cooking, let's make the biscuits!

    Biscuit Ingredients:

    *Makes about 9 biscuits*
    • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 tbsp cold margarine
    • 3/4 cup plain non-dairy milk

    Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Blend the margerine with the dry ingredients until the mixture breaks down into fine particles. Add the non-dairy milk and mix together. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit of milk. If it's too wet, add a little bit more flour.

    Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. If it's not ready to go on top of the stew, mound the dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Once it's ready to go on the stew, turn the oven up to 400F. Roll out the dough and cut into rounds. Place on top of the stew and return the casserole dish back into the oven, uncovered. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Check at 10 minutes.

    If you're baking the biscuits seperately, preheat the oven to 450F. Place the dough rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Check at 10 minutes.

    May 1, 2011

    VH BASICS: How to Roast Bell Peppers


    Hey everyone! It's been a while since I've done a VH BASICS post and since I've done a couple of recipes using Roasted Red Peppers (and a couple more to come soon!) I thought I would show you all how to roast your own peppers! It's actually a really simple thing to do and much more affordable than buying a jar of peppers that go bad if you don't use them within a week of opening! Believe me, I've thrown out a couple of jars of roasted peppers because I haven't used them.

    In the picture I took, I've cut the bell pepper in half. I had a cut pepper in my fridge that I needed to use up (I put some of it on a sandwich a few days ago), but the directions I'm going to give you are for roasting whole peppers. If you want to skip a few of the steps, you can seed and de-rib the peppers before roasting. Or you can just pop a whole pepper in the oven and deal with the de-seeding, de-stemming, and de-ribbing afterwards.

    But first, here are a couple of recipes using roasted red peppers:

    1. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
    2. Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa with Asparagus

    I made a really yummy roasted red pepper dressing today! I'll share that recipe with you soon!! Follow the directions after the jump!

    1. Preheat your oven's broiler.

    2. Use two teaspoons of vegetable oil for each pepper. Avoid extra-virgin olive oil as its smoke point is low and will burn when broiled. Coat each pepper evenly with oil. A pastry brush is useful, but fingers will work in a pinch. Make sure to coat inside the folds of each pepper.

    3. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet on the highest rack in your oven.

    4. Keep a watchful eye on the peppers. When dark splotches begin to appear on the peppers, remove the baking sheet from the oven.

    5. The peppers will be very hot. Using tongs, carefully turn each pepper over. Once all of the peppers are turned, return the sheet to the oven.

    6. When the tops of the peppers begin to darken again, remove them from the oven and place them into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure that it is sealed air-tight all the way around. The steam from the trapped hot peppers will loosen the skins.

    7. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle (probably about 15 to 20 minutes), pull the stems out of each pepper.

    8. Hold one end of the pepper down on a flat surface and gently peel the skin off of each pepper. The skin should slide off fairly easily.

    9. Lift each pepper up and hold it with one hand, while using your other hand to squeeze down the pepper's length. The bulk of the seeds and pulp should drop out the bottom.

    10. With the backside of the knife, slit open the side of each pepper and spread them out (ribbed side up). With the dull side of your knife, scrape off any of the ribs or membrane that remains in the pepper.

    And that's it! I know it looks like a lot, but it doesn't take very long at all. Plus, the results are amazingly delicious!