October 31, 2011

Rustic Stove Top Caprese Pizza


This has got to be the best pizza crust I have ever made. I don't know if it's because I'm basically frying the pizza dough in the pan, but whatever it is, I could eat this every day. I've made some really great pizzas before (see here and here), but I know this one will be making a reappearance in my kitchen very soon! I was given the challenge from Foodbuzz, my advertisers, to come up with a slow cooked dish that could be made on my stove top in a short amount of time. Usually pizzas take 25-30 minutes to cook in your oven, but these personal stove top pizzas are done in less than 10 minutes! One thing that helped immensely with saving time was using my bread maker to mix and rise the dough. If you guys don't have one - you've gotta invest! They're amazing! 

If you don't know what caprese means, it's basically an Italian salad that consists of buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and basil. Then it's usually seasoned with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it a delicious salad - it makes the perfect pizza topping! I've used Daiya vegan cheese, but feel free to use your favorite brand. I bet Teese would be really good sliced on top of here too!

You guys can head on over to Kelly Confidential to vote for your favorite comfort food dish and/or share your own! Visitors will be entered for a chance to win an Electrolux Induction Cooktop, which makes cooking your favorite comfort foods fast and easy thanks to induction technology.

Do you guys have any favorite dishes that are traditionally slow cooked, but you've found a shortcut to cut back on the cooking time?

*Makes 2 medium sized personal pizzas*

Crust Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
Toppings:
  • 4 roma tomatoes - thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Add the crust ingredients to your bread maker in the order listed. Allow the dough to mix and rise. Once the dough is done rising, remove from the bread pan and divide in half. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to form your pizza crust.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Place the pizza crust in the pan and allow to cook for 5-6 minutes until the crust is golden brown on the bottom. Flip over and cook the other side of the crust while you add your tomato, mozzarella, and basil to the top of pizza. The other side will take less time to cook - about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan - drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and serve!

October 28, 2011

Classic Belgian Waffles - Low Fat & Refined Sugar Free!


It's starting to get really cold here in Minnesota. I'm not happy about it - but what are you gonna do? There was already a possible snow alert a couple of nights ago, but luckily I didn't wake up to a Winter wonderland. I'll be ok with Mother Nature holding off on the snow as long as possible!

The nice thing I like about the weather cooling down is the chance to make more hearty comfort foods. I absolutely love waffles. I really don't know why I don't eat them more. I guess in my mind I think it's such a hassle, but it's really not! I just throw a few ingredients together and my waffle maker does the rest! My grandma got me a waffle maker for Christmas last year and I've only gotten around to using it two or three times. Hopefully this winter I can bring it out more often. Maybe even try out some Autumn and Winter favorites? Pumpkin Spice waffles anyone?

I also have a really yummy pancake recipe coming up soon. One that my grandma used to make all the time when my Mom was younger! I can't wait to share it with all of you! This recipe made two giant waffles with my waffle maker. This recipe can easily be doubled to feed a large crowd! If you're wanting an extra decadent waffle and aren't trying to stay away from fats and sugars - add 2 tbsp of oil and use 1 tbsp of sugar instead of maple syrup! That's what I did for my Dad and he loved them!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk or water (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate, larger bowl mix together the maple syrup, apple sauce, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Once the wet ingredients are well incorporated - add in the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. Cook according to your waffle maker's directions!

October 26, 2011

Trick or Treat! Your Guide to Vegan Candy!


Hey everyone! I hope you're all having a great time preparing for Halloween! Hopefully I'll be carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds this weekend with my little brother and sister (and my other little sister who's not so little anymore. She's 20!) I'll definitely be taking pictures for all of you and uploading my recipe for the best roasted pumpkin seeds!

Are any of you dressing up? I think this is the first year I really don't have any plans set for Halloween or Halloween weekend. The funny thing is that I'm totally fine with that. I guess I'll just hand out candy (and maybe eat some).

I stumbled across this list of conventional candy that is "vegan approved" on Peta's website that I thought would be super helpful for you guys! I know how hard it must be - especially for the little vegans - to go through all the holidays without being able to eat some of the same candies as everyone else. Hopefully this list makes your Halloween a little bit easier! Keep in mind that this is only a list of conventional candy you can buy at any regular store. Don't forget all the great chocolates and candies you can buy at natural/specialty food stores, co-ops, and online!

What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?

I've had some really great, fun Halloween costumes, but I would have to say that my favorite of all time was when I was 3 or 4 I was the Cowardly Lion from the movie The Wizard of Oz. In 1989, The Wizard of Oz was celebrating it's 50th anniversary - so a new generation of kids were falling in love with the film and I was one of them! It's still to this day one of my favorite movies of all time. It was a really cute costume though. If I find a picture I'll have to show you guys!

Conventional Vegan Candy

Airheads taffy
Brach's Cinnamon Hard Candy
Brach's Root Beer Barrels
Brach's Star Brites
Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar
Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar
Chick-o-Sticks
Cry Babies
Dots
Dum-Dums
Fireballs
Hubba Bubba bubblegum
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Jujubees
Jujyfruits
Laffy Taffy (some varieties)
Lemonheads
Mambas
Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses)
Mike and Ike
Now and Later
Panda Licorice
Smarties (U.S. Brand)
Sour Patch Kids
Super Bubble
Swedish Fish
Sweet Tarts
Twizzlers
Zotz

Information according to petakids.com

October 23, 2011

And The Cookbooks Go To...

Winner #1
Winner #2

Congratulations Tracie and Mallory! You've each won your own copy of Kathy Hester's amazing new cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker!

Send me your mailing information to matthew@vegan-heartland.com to receive your new books! Thanks again to everyone who entered! I can't wait for the next giveaway!

Halloween Tips for your Dog!

My little girl Keeva!

Dogs love tricks and treats, so here are some tips for a fun and safe Halloween to keep their tails wagging!

Costumes!
If your dog is accustomed to wearing coats, sweaters, and even dresses or sunglasses during the rest of the year, you are going to have a blast dressing your “fur kid” up for Halloween. Countless costumes are for sale at pet supply stores, pet boutiques, Internet pet sites, and even grocery and department stores. Fairy princess or wicked witch, cheerleader or Superdog, cowboy or cow—you can turn your dog into anything this time of year. With just a tiny bit of creativity, you can also make your own costume for your dog. Here are some ideas to do it yourself:


  • Think about a costume that fits your dog’s personality. Some dogs look perfect in an angel costume, while others seem to fit devil outfit to a tee.
  • Dress in a theme with your dog. Maybe you and your significant other can don fake fur tunics and go as Fred and Wilma Flintstone; put your Shih Tzu in her own leopard print tunic, tie a plastic bone into her topknot—and you’ve got Pebbles!
  • Think about dog themes, too. Maybe you have a little male scruffy terrier mix, and your friend has an Afghan Hound. Your little guy just needs a vest and a peace necklace to be Sonny Bono (hey, he already has the chest hair!) and a long black wig and some sequins turns the Afghan into Cher.
  • Another good choice: Dress your dogs as bride and groom. A simple veil and a white tunic for your girl and a tuxedo costume for your boy, and you’ve got costumed bliss. One friend who did this even made a garter for her girl dog’s thigh.
  • Some dogs just love to wear costumes and seem meant to wear them. Take Pugs for example. They seem made to wear anything fun you can find. Put your Pug in a pink tutu, and it’s funny—always.
  • Every Dachshund makes an appropriate hot dog on Halloween (just add buns).
  • Every diva knows a simple tiara is always appropriate (Halloween or not!).

  • Throw a Howl-O-Ween Party!
    Invite your dog’s little buddies over for a bash! Play games like “bobbing for hotdogs” (instead of bobbing for apples) and “catch the corn” (see which dog can catch the most pieces of unbuttered popcorn in a minute). Have a costume contest. Hold a “Best Trick” contest (the winner earns a treat!). Ask everyone to bring cookies made for dogs—and don’t forget some tasty snacks for the humans, too!

    Keep ’em Safe
    While Halloween can be great fun, it can also pose serious dangers for your dog. Lots of dogs are frightened when hordes of small children come knocking at the door, demanding candy. Heck, it scares me a little bit, too. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind on Halloween:

    Chocolate
    That chocolate warning applies at Halloween, too. Also, tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if your little dog swallows them.

    Candles
    Pumpkins with candles inside are dangerous. Your dog could knock your pumpkin over and start a fire. Use caution, and consider a battery operated light inside your Jack-o-lantern if you have a very rambunctious little dog.

    Keep Him Away from the Trick-or-Treaters
    Unless your dog is an absolute social butterfly, keep him in a separate room when the trick-or-treaters come to the door. Even a kid-size Frankenstein looks pretty scary to a tiny dog.

    Prevent Door Dashing
    Have a system to prevent door dashing. Whether you have a dog who’s frightened, or one who wants to follow the kids, Halloween is a big night for dogs escaping from home. Leave your dog in a separate room or hold him in your arms (if he’s very social). Don’t give him the option of dashing out the door.

    Have a Happy (and Safe) Halloween!

     Info from Nylabone.com

    October 19, 2011

    Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake


    A few weekends ago - my Mom, my little Sister, and my Niece, and I went to a local apple orchard that has been here in Minnesota for three generations since 1948! It spans over 60 acres and includes over 6,000 apple trees + its own winery! I didn’t get a chance to taste any of the wine (sadly) since my Mom and I were with my little sister and baby niece. I think I’m going to have to make a trip back there this year – I’ve heard their wines are delicious! The 60 acre apple farm has two 1880′s barns, a granary, apple storage and preparation barns, and a bakery – all of which are open freely to visitors! It ended up being too late in the season to pick any apples from this particular orchard, but we got to go inside one of the barns that housed the bakery and store where they had bins filled with apples.

    Madison and I walking through the gorgeous vineyards!
    Madison and I choosing some apples!

    Besides all of the delicious varieties of apples and baked goods filled with apples – they had the walls lined with some really great, local products. As I was perusing the shelves I stumbled upon a jar of Pumpkin Butter. I knew I had to get it, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it – until the idea of a Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with a Ginger Snap Crust popped into my head as we were leaving the barn. Perfect for Autumn and perfect for the upcoming Holidays!

    Crust Ingredients:
    • 2 cups ginger snap cookie crumbs (I used a full bag of Mi-Del Ginger Snaps. If you don’t want to make your own crust – feel free to buy a pre-made ginger snap or graham cracker crust. You may have a little extra filling though!)
    • 1/3 cup pecans
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup melted Earth Balance Spread (or your favorite margarine)

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, blend together the ginger snap cookies, pecans and brown sugar until well combined and powdery. After you’ve melted your Earth Balance, pour it into the crust mixture and process until well combined. 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
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 3 tbsp corn starch
    • 3 tbsp cold water
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp cloves
    • 1/8 tsp ginger
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • 3 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (if you can’t find pumpkin butter – I’m sure canned pumpkin pie puree would work just fine!)
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup

    In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and cold water. I added the corn starch to ensure that the cheesecake would set well. In your food processor, blend together the cream cheese, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Then add your corn starch and water mixture. Once well combined, pour on top of your ginger snap crust.

    In a small bowl mix together the pumpkin butter and maple syrup. Heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to thin it out. Drop small spoon fulls on top of the cheesecake and incorporate into the cheesecake with a knife by making pretty swirls (or whatever design your prefer!)

    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. I tapped the side of my cheesecake after 50 minutes and the center was still jiggling! I took it out anyway and I hoped the refrigeration would help set it. I was right because the texture was absolutely perfect the next afternoon! So don’t worry if yours is still jiggly when you take it out!

    October 16, 2011

    Peach Pie Jam + How to Peel a Peach!


    I remember when I was little I used to sit in my grandma’s kitchen and watch her and my great-aunt (her aunt) boil and peel peaches before they canned them. I really didn’t care for the whole process. To my little brain it was a painstakingly long and boring process of boiling, peeling, chopping, and so on and so on. I just knew it lead to one very important thing: peach pie. To a 5-year-old, peach pie is everything.

    Though I do love a peach pie I don’t always have the time (or patience) to go through the work of peeling the peaches and making the pastry crust and working with the lattice crust. So I came up with this brilliant idea of making Peach Pie Jam! It is a little bit of a long process, but there’s no pastry involved. Just a big, simmering pot of peaches!

    Ingredients:
    • 7 medium-large peaches (enough to equal 6 cups of fruit)
    • 1 cup agave nectar
    • 1/4 cup citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit…anything you have on hand will work!)
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 large pot for boiling water and simmering the jam
    • 1 large bowl filled with cold/ice water
    • potato masher


    First, wash the peaches and gently place them in a large pot of boiling water. Boil over high heat for 45 seconds. If the peaches are a little underripe, boil for 1 minute.


    Using a large, slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the big bowl filled with cold/ice water. Finish boiling all the peaches and allow to sit in the ice water for 1 minute, then drain.


     After the peaches have cooled and drained – peel away the skin with your fingers or a small paring knife. If you boiled them long enough the skin should just peel right off.


    Once the peaches are peeled, cut them into small chunks and place them back into the pot they were boiled in. Once they’re all chopped add the agave, citrus juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir together and mash with a potato masher until there are little to no chunks left. Don’t worry about getting all the chunks. Once they begin boiling the peach chunks will begin to fall apart.

    Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 50-55 minutes until the jam thickens. Remove from heat and allow the  jam to cool and thicken further. Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 1 month.

    October 13, 2011

    How Far Would You Go....?

    Monty Brinton/CBS


    First off - I should probably apologize for the disgusting image above. I don't know if any of you watch Survivor, but last night's episode was pretty disgusting. I seriously had to fast forward through the last part of the challenge using my DVR because I really thought I was about to vomit. Let me set it up for you...

    To win the challenge, the teams had to have the most amout of meat bitten off a pig in a certain amount of time. Each team had its own pig and basket and all castaways had their hands tied behind their backs. The entire challenge was shots of them gnawing at this huge pig on a spiggot and running to the basket and spitting it out. Grossest. Thing. Ever. Not only was it disgusting, but it turned out to be really dangerous too. 3/4th's of the losing team team had injuries to their mouth, jaw, gums, or teeth!

    So after I got over the "grossness" of the challenge it got me to thinking. How far would you go? I'm sure you've gotten this question before. "Would you eat a burger for 1 million dollars?" I've always been a huge fan of reality competition shows. The Amazing Race, Survivor, and Big Brother are probably my favorites, but there's one thing that's always stopped me from applying to be on them - I could never eat meat in order to win money. You know how they always have challenges on those shows where they're forced to eat something really gross during competitions. I just couldn't do it...I go back and forth with the idea that I could do so much good in the world with that much money, but to me it's just dirty money. I would never judge anyone else who would - I just don't think I could do it!

    Would you give up your Vegan ways (if you are a vegan or vegetarian....) to win money?

    October 6, 2011

    The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester Review and Giveaway!


    I was lucky enough to be contacted by Kathy to test out some of the recipes in her new book, The Vegan Slow Cooker, and do a review on my blog! I was, of course, happy to do so. I love comfort food and The Vegan Slow Cooker is filled with recipes to comfort the cook from beginning to end. Not only does it contain delicious and simple recipes - it's laid out in such an easy and simple way to understand that even the beginner cook could whip up a delicious meal if they're armed with their slow cooker! It's laid out beautifully and the photography and style of the book and recipes makes this even more of a must have! I tried out one recipe so far - the Chick'n and Dumplings and let me tell you - it was "knock your socks off" amazing. I think I'm actually going to make it again soon so hopefully I'll get a great picture for you guys! Watch for it on my Facebook page! Hopefully you all get a chance to try Kathy's amazing recipes...

    Which brings me to my next (and favorite) part of this post. Not only did Kathy send me a copy for myself to read and review - but she sent me 2 copies to give to my ever so special readers!! I think now is perfect timing considering October is the month for Vegan MOFO 2012! What better way to celebrate than with a cookbook giveaway right?

    There are many ways to sign up for my Vegan Slow Cooker giveaway. The more ways you sign up, the better your chances to win! Please leave a separate comment in this post for each way you enter.

    1. Follow Vegan Heartland with your Google Account
    2. "Like" Vegan Heartland on Facebook
    3. Follow @VeganHeartland on Twitter
    4. Write a post about my giveaway on your blog or website and link back to my giveaway! And don't forget to leave a link to your post in your entry comment.

    CONTEST INFO & RULES:

    The contest will end on October 20th, 2011 at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time. The Contest is only open to U.S. residents. The winners will be chosen using random.org. 

    GOOD LUCK!!

    October 4, 2011

    Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


    Hello everybody! I had so much fun this past weekend at the apple orchard with my family! I got some really great apples plus some pumpkin butter and apple cider! I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing with the pumpkin butter yet. I was actually thinking about trying my hand at some pumpkin spice donuts? Yes? No? I'm writing a weekly column on Vegan Mainstream for Vegan MOFO so I'm trying to come up with new recipes for that. My first recipe will be posted this Saturday! Be sure to check out my Facebook page to know when it's up and ready to view! I guess you'll just have to wait and see what I'm going to do with the pumpkin butter, but if you have any good ideas - feel free to comment and let me know!


    It's my Dad's birthday tomorrow and I took the opportunity to make him this delicious Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. This is delectable. It's sort of a cross between a pumpkin pie and a carrot cake. It's so sweet and moist - and the maple frosting is the perfect addition! I used 100% real Maple Syrup in the frosting. It's this really great local brand that I absolutely love. The frosting isn't overly maple - so if you would like more maple flavor, try adding a tsp of maple extract! I didn't have any on hand, but I'm sure that it would make this even more yummy! This was my first time making a round cake and a double layer cake! I got some really great presents from my parents for my birthday and now I finally got to use them! I can't wait to try making my grandma's Mayonnaise Cake like this!

    My Dad hasn't actually tried the cake yet. He's waiting for it to be his actual birthday to eat it. Stubborn. But my Mom took a bite of my slice and thought it was amazing! I'll have to let you guys know tomorrow what Dad thought!

    Cake Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup applesauce
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp ginger
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Beverage)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a large bowl - beat the shortening, and brown sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the applesauce, pumpkin, vinegar, and vanilla and beat with the mixer until well incorporated. Set aside.

    In a separate bowl - Sift together the flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Once combined add in to the wet ingredients in three stages - alternating with the milk. (Add a third of the dry, then a third of the milk, then a third of the dry and so on...)

    Grease two 8-inch cake pans and divide the batter between the two pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before frosting.

    Frosting Ingredients:
    • 8 oz vegan cream cheese (I used Galaxy brand)
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • 2 tbsp Pure Maple Syrup
    • 3 cups powdered sugar

    In a small bowl - mix the cream cheese and shortening with your hand mixer until well combined. Add in the syrup and sugar and mix until your frosting reaches the right consistency.

    To Assemble the cake - place one of the layers upside down on a cake stand or serving platter. Frost the top of that cake with a layer of the cream cheese frosting. Place the second layer right side up and use the rest of the frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake!

    Enjoy!