January 29, 2012

Homemade Western Dressing


When I was growing up, my Grandma always had a bottle of Western Dressing and a bottle of Ranch Dressing on the table for every family get-together.  Well...she still does, actually. We put it on our salads and we dipped our steak in it. Gross - I know, but it soon became my favorite topping for all of my salads! As I grew older and became more health conscious and more aware of the ingredients in the food I was eating - I found out the main ingredient in my favorite Western Dressing was High Fructose Corn Syrup and it also had some other weird ingredients in it like Propylene Glycol Alginate. I'm not sure what that is, but I know I don't really want to be eating it. So I stopped and I have been on a quest to find a new dressing I really liked.

Honestly - I still haven't found a dressing I've liked - until now! This dressing uses agave nectar and nutritious grapeseed oil instead of corn syrup and soybean oil. It's flavored with ketchup (love!), apple cider vinegar onion, garlic, and salt! Oh...and just a little dash of hot sauce! The ingredients are so simple - you've got to try it!

Oh...and I finally got to use my Immersion Blender that I got for Christmas! If you don't have one - then just use a blender or food processor!

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup oil (grapeseed, olive, canola, etc..)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a dash or two of hot sauce

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and process for 2-3 minutes with an immersion blender. Or place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend for 2-3 minutes until ingredients are well combined and the dressing has emulsified.

January 20, 2012

Beans and Greens Soup


I thought it was time that I shared with you a non-dessert recipe! I'm such a creature of habit - I sort of eat the same things for my meals over and over. Breakfast is usually a bowl of steel cut oats and a piece of fruit, lunch is usually leftovers from the night before or a sandwich with hummus and TONS of veggies, and I usually  make the same 5 or 6 things for my dinners throughout the week. Luckily this blog has helped me get out of my rut and start experimenting with more dishes! I made this soup in my crock pot overnight, so it was ready for me the next morning! You could also throw the ingredients in there before you leave for work and have a delicious, hearty, and healthy dinner waiting for you when you get home!

It's been so cold here in Minnesota this last week or so. A couple of weeks ago it was almost 60 degrees F and yesterday morning it was -30 with the wind chill! And of course Keeva doesn't care about the weather - she just wants to go on her walk. I had 3 layers of clothes on, two layers of gloves, and a huge scarf wrapped around my face. The only thing not covered was my eyes...and they were cold. Luckily when I got home I had a big bowl of this yummy soup waiting for me!

This soup was so delicious! I was a little hesitant about how the greens would taste and feel. I tend to only liked cooked greens if they're steamed. I was very pleasantly surprised when I took a bite of this soup! So warming and comforting - and super healthy for you too! Kale is a very good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and, Carotenoids (which provide vitamin A). It's such an important food for Vegans (well...everybody really) to eat! If you have yet to try kale - this soup is a great starting recipe for you!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry uncooked cannelini beans (that have been soaked overnight)
  • 1 1/2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup onion - diced
  • 2 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 bunch of kale (I used Lacinato Kale, but you could use any leafy green vegetable you like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth

Place all the above ingredients in your crock pot. Stir together to incorporate all the ingredients. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Serve warm with some crusty bread!

January 18, 2012

Single Serving Apple Crisp


I'm loving these single serving desserts! I hope everyone is sill sticking to your new year's resolutions (if you made any)! I didn't really make one specific resolution, but I sort of always have the same ones. Eat healthier, exercise more, do more of the things I love. That sort of thing...and I don't save those things for new years day. I just use the new year as a re-starting point. It's a nice little reminder to stay on track.

So for me - part of eating healthier has been trying to eat less desserts and more veggies. That's where these single serving desserts come in. They're life savers! Whenever I get that craving - I whip up a little something and I'm good to go. And who are we kidding - when I'm craving cake, grabbing a piece of fruit isn't going to do the trick.

So I came up with the next best thing. It does have fruit and oats in it (so that makes it a little healthy, right?!) The best part of this dish is that I don't have a whole plate of that sweet something sitting on my counter! This apple crisp is just like Grandma made. Sweet, crumbly topping with a tender apple center. It fills the house with that amazing smell that only apple crisp can do!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small apple - thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp margarine, shortening, or coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Thinly slice the apple and place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1/2 tbsp flour, and 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Coat the apple slices with the dry ingredients and place in a small baking dish.

Using the same bowl mix together 1 tbsp brow sugar, 2 tbsp oats, 1 tbsp flour, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp margarine. Cream together with a fork until the margarine becomes crumbly and is well incorporated with the dry ingredients.

Top the apples with the crumbled mixture. Place the small baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 22-25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

January 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars


I finally got around to making these bars again! If you don't follow me on Facebook - then you probably don't know that I had mentioned these bars a few weeks ago. I brought them to my Mom's side of the family's Christmas party and they were gobbled up before I could even get a picture taken! Everyone loved them so much they were going back for seconds! The bar consists of a scrumptious graham cracker crust, a yummy cheesecake center, and a delicious chocolate chip cookie top! How could you say no to that?

*Slightly Adapted From This Recipe*

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp melted margarine, shortening, or coconut oil (I used Earth Balance Spread)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ingredients:
  • 5 tbsp margarine or shortening
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (don't add this if you're using Earth Balance margarine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Ingredients:
  • 8 oz of Vegan Cream Cheese - at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot (I used corn starch)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and allow a little overhang. This will help with lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix your melted margarine, shortening, or coconut oil and the graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack while you prepare the cookie dough.

In a large bowl mix the margarine or shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and vanilla with a hand mixer for about 1 minute. Add in the flour and mix together until the dough is just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In another large bowl or in a food processor combine the cream cheese and sugar. Blend until well combined. Add in the corn starch and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the prepared graham cracker crust. Form teaspoon sized balls of cookie dough and place on top of the cheesecake mixture. Be sure to use all of the cookie dough.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the cookie dough is browned and firm. Move the bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool. The bars are best when refrigerated overnight, but refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper over-hang. Cut into squares and serve!

January 4, 2012

Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie


Yay! My first post in the New Year! And what better way to start out the new year than with a delicious and easy chocolate chip cookie! It's taken me a few tries, but I've finally come up with a recipe for single-serving chocolate chip cookies that I think you guys are going to love! I love experimenting with these single-serving desserts. It's perfect for people who don't want a whole plate of cookies sitting in their kitchen, begging to be eaten! For those who have little to no self control when it comes to sweets - this dessert is the answer for you! This chocolate chip cookie is the perfect combination of soft and chewy, with just a little bit of crisp!

I know I still haven't added a recipe for a batch of chocolate chip cookies here on Vegan Heartland, but I'm planning on doing one within the next couple of months! I went through some of my Grandma's recipes a few weeks ago and borrowed some recipes I thought looked tempting! One of them being a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was so frayed and worn out - I knew it had to be a keeper.

There's a couple of things you need to know when making this cookie. If you mix the ingredients and the dough seems a bit dry, try adding another 1/2 tsp of non-dairy milk. If you don't want to use margarine - you could always try using a light oil or applesauce. I'm experimenting with other flavors of cookies (I'm working on a Single Serving Oatmeal Raisin Cookie right now) and I tried applesauce in that one. It came out a bit "cake-y", but I'm not giving up yet!

After the 10 minutes are up and the cookie isn't flat enough for you - grab the fork you mixed the ingredients with and press down on the cookie while it's still in the oven! Then you've got yourself a classic chocolate chip cookie!

*Makes 1 cookie*

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp Earth Balance Spread (or your favorite margarine)
  • 1/2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Beverage)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Add in the Earth Balance Spread and mix together with the dry ingredients thoroughly with a fork. Pour in the non-dairy milk and vanilla. Mix together just until the batter comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookie is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack until the cookie is set and ready to eat!