Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bat Cookies!!

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Bat Cookies!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Bat Cookies!
Bat Cookies, Bat Cookies, Bat Cookies!

It is almost Halloween. Yippee!
I love shopping for discounted Halloween stuff, especially when the holiday grows closer because the bargains get bigger. Since every day is like Halloween in my house (sans the candy), I get a lot of use out of skull plates, eye ball bowls, cob web table cloths, bat shaped pot holders, etc. One of my favorite finds this year was a 6-pack assortment of spooky shaped cookie cutters from the Dollar Store. Yeah - 1 dollar! (Please don't tell me that some child in a China had to be forced into slavery to make these cheap, holiday items for a dollar.)
These cookies were super yummy, moist and had the most amazing raw dough taste. I'm all about raw cookie dough.


Using an electric mixer (I use a handheld one) beat the following until creamy:
1/2 cup non-dairy butter
3/4 cup sugar

Now add the following to your mixture:
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (see list below). After the dry ingredients are throughly mixed, add them to the wet ingredients and beat with the electric mixture until the dough forms:
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup baking cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Divide dough into two balls, seal in plastic wrap and store in fridge at least a 1/2 hour.

Bake at 350 degrees

Cooking time will depend on the size of the cookie. For my small bat shaped cookie cutters, it took around 6 minutes for thin ones and 8 minutes for thicker cookies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whole Wheat - Flax Bread (Using A Bread Maker)

My Mother-in-law gave me an awesome bread maker a couple of years ago for Christmas. I've attempted making bread a handful of times with the machine, but the result was always dry. I finally pin pointed some of my problems and I hope you can learn from my mistakes.

~Using ONLY whole wheat flour rather than a combination of flours
~Using fast action yeast. I know this stuff must work, but I always had problems with my bread not rising. 
~Not using molasses. The inclusion of this ingredient turned the bread from bland to yummy. 
~Trying to use whole flax seeds rather than flax meal. Besides appearance, there's no reason to use whole flax seeds since your body digests ground flax better. 
~I never added vital wheat gluten. When added, the bread has a spongier, soft consistency. 

After searching the internet for tips people had regarding vegan bread making using bread makers, I settled on the ingredients below and was thrilled with the results. 


In your bread maker add the following ingredients in this order: 
~11 ounces water (room temperature)
~1 1/2 tsp sea salt
~1 1/2 tbsp (no sugar added) apple sauce
~2 tbsp molasses (spray your measuring spoon with oil first and the molasses rolls right out of the spoon)
~2 cups wheat flour for bread making
~1 cup whole wheat flour for bread making
~1/2 cup wheat bran
~1 tsp vital wheat gluten
~1/4 cup ground flax
Make a well in the middle and add:
~2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Set bread maker for the following:
~2 pound loaf
~Whole wheat setting
~Medium darkness

Once bread is done, remove from bread maker and cool on rack. This bread tasted really good warm. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lime Coconut Cookies

For my husband's 40th birthday, I organized a (vegan) Jamaican theme party. Here's the flyer I made: 

If you read my last post, you'll know I've been hooked on coconuts! What better way to use coconuts than in Caribbean food. This was a great excuse for me to experiment with the flavor of coconut. One of my creations was a spin on a sugar cookie. I used lime and coconut, which resulted in a sweet but tart cookie. I iced them in Rasta colors (red, green and yellow) to coincide with the theme. 

NOTE: Since childhood, I've always enjoyed raw cookie dough more than actual cookies. This particular cookie dough was amazing raw! I think it would be great to use in a homemade (vegan) cookie dough ice cream, especially one made from coconut milk! 


Using an electric mixer (I use a handheld one) beat the following until creamy: 
1/2 cup non-dairy butter
3/4 cup sugar

Now add the following to your mixture:
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer mixed with 2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (see list below). After the dry ingredients are throughly mixed, add them to the wet ingredients and beat with the electric mixture until the dough forms: 
 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 handfuls (or so) of raw shredded coconut

Divide dough into two balls, seal in plastic wrap and store in fridge at least a 1/2 hour. 

Bake at 350 degrees

Cooking time will depend on the size of the cookie. I used small cookie cutters, so my cookies only took around 6 minutes. Otherwise normal size cookies should take around 12 minutes or so. 

Throughly cool before icing (although they taste fine without icing)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Banana Coconut Tapioca Pudding

It is official.....I am a coconut! If you are what you eat, this summer I've gone from being a "nut" to a full fledged "coconut." I LOVE using Bob's Red Mill's raw shredded coconut and/or canned coconut milk (Trader Joe's has a great "light" version for around a buck). 

I've also been cooking a lot with ripe bananas. I was born in the year of the monkey, so this fruit is part of my cosmic nature. 

I love combining bananas and coconut because it tastes so tropical and delicious. This summer I created another way to include both these flavors into one yummy dessert. Here's the drill: 

PREP #1: add 1/3 cup tapioca (med/large - not the "quick" stuff) to a 1 cup measuring cup. Add water until you've reached 1 cup. Let stand for at least a 1/2 hour or more. The tapioca will suck up all the water and really plump up. 

PREP #2: In a large mixing bowl, mush up 2 to 3 ripe bananas

PREP #3: In a small bowl or cup, combine 2 tablespoons corn starch with 2 tablespoons cold water. Whip mixture with spoon until throughly combined and liquified. 

Once tapioca has stood long enough, you can move onto the cooking phase. 

COOKING PHASE: (medium heat)

In a saucepan, add the following (stirring constantly): 
~the tapioca (from Prep #1)
~2 cups dairy-free milk (I use a combination of soy and rice) 
As the mixture cooks, add the following: 
~One can coconut milk (light version is OK)
~1/3 cup sugar
~1/4 tsp. salt
~1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
~the bananas (from Prep #2)
Keep stirring and add:
~Raw shredded coconut to taste
~Corn starch/water (from Prep #3)
~Cinnamon to taste (I add a lot because I love this stuff)
~Nutmeg to taste
~(optional) Ginger (powder) to taste
Keep stirring until the mixture becomes very thick and boils. 

Remove from stove and pour contents into individual bowls or one large bowl. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge. It tastes good warm, but it changes once it has completely cooled down. The pudding becomes more firm and the taste really intensifies. 

NOTE: I've also made this pudding with roasted almonds. Just put a couple of handfuls of almonds on a cooking tray and heat them for a few minutes at a high temperature. Be sure not to burn them. I usually do this in my toaster oven. Then chop them up and add to pudding as it is getting thicker. You can add them around the same time as the coconut. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baked Pasta

I know, I know.....I haven't updated my blog for a LONG while! During the warmer months, I've been making a lot of cold dishes. I've hosted and attended several gatherings over the last few months, where I've been able to share my new cold/room temperature creations. Although I enjoy creating these cold dishes, I just can't seem to get very motivated to write about the subject. So instead, I'm going to tell you about my new favorite casserole dish I created. The concept was based on the baked spaghetti my mom made when I was a kid. However, I've put more of a gourmet spin on it.

Set oven to 350 degrees.

1st: Prepare around 14 to 16 ounces of pasta (I personally like penne made from flax and whole wheat) based on package cooking instructions.

2nd: While step one is in progress, add the following to a large soup pot (all ingredients are optional after the first two) and cook on medium-high:
~1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
~1/4 to 1/3 container of vegan (tofu) cream cheese
~2 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
~1 tablespoon olive oil
~1/4 to 1/3 cup white wine
to taste.....add...
~chopped fresh or dried basil
~chopped fresh or dried oregano
~red chili flakes
~fresh ground pepper
~fresh ground sea salt
~roasted or fresh garlic (chopped)
~agave syrup

3rd: add any or all of the following to the sauce and simmer on low:
~1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
~approximately 1 pound of seitan chopped into bite sized pieces (or a package of faux chicken chopped into small pieces) OR
~1/2 to 1 cup TVP (hydrated with equal parts water first)

4th: In a large mixing bowl add the following and mix thoroughly:
~one block firm tofu (mashed with fork into a smooth yet chunky consistency)
~onion and garlic powder (to taste)
~salt and pepper (to taste)
~dried basil (to taste)
~1/8 cup nutritional yeast (add more to taste)

5th: Scoop a few spoonfuls of the mixing bowl contents and add it to the sauce.

6th: Add cooked pasta to sauce and fully mix. Pour contents into large baking dish.

7th: In the mixing bowl, add the following and mix thoroughly with tofu:
~1 jar or can of artichoke hearts (drained/chopped)
~2 to 3 handfuls of bread crumbs (I use the vegan seasoned bread crumbs from Trader Joe's)

8th: Spread the mixture over the top of the pasta, covering the entire casserole. Sprinkle additional bread crumbs on top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. You may need to broil it shortly to get the top nice and brown.

This dish is rather filling, but it goes nicely with a side of steamed broccoli or spinach salad. I also like to pair it with crusty bread served with hot, roasted garlic and a bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pancake Bread (Banana, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip Bread)

Ok, the name is weird - Pancake Bread! I wanted to make a bread that contained all the things I like to eat on a pancake. My nephew thinks the name is totally wrong; as he feels pancakes are flat NOT bread. He wants me to call this Pudding Bread (The bread is EXTREMELY moist and when he ate it warm, the bread did have a pudding quality). Whatever you want to call the stuff, I think it tastes yummy and my Mommy agrees! Here's what I used (as best I can remember): 


In a large mixing bowl: 
~squish three large, ripe bananas (mush 'em up really good)
~1/4 heaping cup of apple sauce (unsweetened)
~Slightly less than 1/4 cup olive oil
~3 to 4 heaping spoonfuls of blueberry preserves (I used an organic, low sugar jam from Trader Joe's)
~3 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)

Mix all the wet ingredients around. Then add the following dry ingredients to the bowl:
~1.75 cups of whole wheat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
~2 to 3 tablespoons flax meal
~1/3 cup brown sugar
~approximately 1/4 cup (quick cook) rolled oats
~ a couple shakes of ground nutmeg
~1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all the dry ingredients with the wet. Use a mixing spoon. Taste and add more jam, maple syrup or brown sugar to get the sweetness you like. Remember, there will be chocolate chips, so don't go crazy with all the sugar!!

Add the following to the bowl and mix together: 
~1.25 cups of blueberries (I used frozen, organic ones that were defrosted)
~a couple handfuls of walnuts (I broke these apart with my hands, but you can chop these up)
~ a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips (I used the semi-sweet ones from Trader Joe's)

Pour ingredients into a loaf pan. I used a glass (pyrex) loaf pan, but I'm sure metal will be fine. Just spray the pan first with some non-stick cooking spray. 

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Key Lime Pie

Yesterday I was craving key lime pie. Many years ago, when I lived in Florida, I was a total connoisseur of the stuff. Despite my lactose intolerance, if it was on the menu, I had to order it. One slice of that tangy pie with its sweet graham cracker crust was worth two weeks of excruciating belly aches. Since going vegan, I haven't had key lime pie nor gave it much thought until yesterday. I've never made key lime pie, but I thought I'd give it a whirl. Here's what I did and the result was soooooo freakin' delicious that I have to seriously stop myself from devouring more slices. 

Pre-bake one store bought (vegan) graham cracker pie crust. 

Meanwhile, in a food processor blend together the following (my measurements are approximations of what I actually used, I tasted my filling as I went and made adjustments on the sugar, agave and coconut extract): 
~1 block firm silken tofu
~3 to 4 tablespoons of vanilla soy yogurt
~1/3 container of soy cream cheese
~3/4 cup lime juice (I had regular lime juice on hand, but I'm sure it would be better with actual key lime juice. For a less tangy pie, cut back on the lime juice)
~1 tablespoon coconut extract (add more to bring out the taste)
~1 tablespoon vanilla
~1/2 cup of sugar (add more if you like it sweeter, I like my pie extra tangy!)
~2 to 3 squirts of agave nectar (add more to make it sweeter)
~2 heaping spoonfuls of corn starch

Pour mixture into pie crust. (mine was REALLY full, but it didn't flow over the edges)

I refrigerated mine overnight to let it settle before baking. I'm not sure that was actually necessary and it made the crust quite moist. So you might be able to go straight to the oven. 

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. The top will get a nice golden color. Make sure the center gets firm before removing it from the oven. 

Cool on rack. The pie will firm up even more as it cools down. 

Think of palm trees and flamingoes. Enjoy!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Calzone - Super Easy!!

I bought whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's the other day and when I was about to make a pizza for the billionth time I had an epiphany......calzones are made out of pizza dough! I haven't had a calzone since the 80's; so those suckers have been way off my radar forever. I had completely forgotten how delicious a calzone could be. I must admit, my first attempt at calzones was off the charts - so I feel compelled to share what I did. 

Here's what I used that was store bought: 
~1 bag of whole wheat pizza dough (enough to make one large pizza pie)  from Trader Joe's
~1 jar pizza sauce from Trader Joe's 
~Vegan cheese (I only had cheddar in the house, but it tasted great); I use Follow Your Heart.

In a food processor I coarsely chopped (amount is estimated): 
~2 handfuls of baby portabella mushrooms
~4 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes (in oil)
~1/3 bag of fresh spinach 
~2 handfuls of fresh broccoli florets 
~2 handfuls of pine nuts
~salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil (to taste)

On a floured surface, I rolled out the dough and separated into four pieces. I scooped the mixture onto one side of the dough. I really piled it on. I added on top:
~shredded cheese (I shredded about 1/3 of the block of cheese for all 4 calzones.)

Then I folded over the dough and pinched it closed. I placed the calzones on a non-stick pizza pan and squished them making the calzones more flat, which expanded their surface area.

In a small bowl I combined olive oil and garlic powder then coated the tops of the calzones with this using a brush. 

I baked them at 425 degrees for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. I took them out when they became slightly brown and no longer doughy. 

I served them with:
~pizza sauce (warmed up first) poured over the top. 
~sliced avocado and tomato on top with salt and pepper to taste. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lasagna Rolls

Boy, I have been really slacking off on writing in my blog. I've been cooking a lot, but I haven't documented anything I've created in a while. The other night I made a special dinner for my hubby, which included my first attempt at lasagna rolls. They came out really yummy, so before I forget what I did, I better blog it. 

(Ingredients indicated in bold font)

Cook as per package instructions: 
~1 large box of whole wheat lasagna (I used the type that also has flax)

In a food processor blend the following: 
~1 block of firm tofu (drained)
~1/4 cup or so of kalamata olives
~1 to 2 tablespoon(s) extra virgin olive oil
~1/3 cup or so of sun dried tomatoes (in the oil)
~1/4 cup or so nutritional yeast
~1/4 cup or whatever amount you want of pine nuts
~as much fresh spinach as you can add to the food processor (add in two stages if needed)
~fresh or dried basil to taste
~red chili flakes (optional) to taste
~sea salt and ground pepper to taste
~paprika to taste

Make sure you sample the mixture. If you want it spicier add more chili, paprika and pepper. If you think the flavors are too subtle add more sea salt (just add a little at a time until you get the balance right). 

Heat oven at 350 degrees

In a large rectangular baking dish (I used a glass dish) line the bottom of the pan with:
~1 third jar of spaghetti sauce (I used a tangy tomato and basil)

Creating the rolls:
~On a large surface (such as an over-sized cutting board) lay out as many of the cooked lasagna noodles as possible. 
~Using a spatula, scoop out mixture and spread evenly over the entire surface of the noodles.
~Roll each noodle tightly and place seam down in the baking dish. 
~Continue until pan is full and mixture is all used up. 
~Pour the remainder of the spaghetti sauce over the noodles (used a spoon if needed to get it more even on each roll)  
~Grate a 1/2 block of soy mozzarella and sprinkle on top of the rolls. 

Bake for approximately 30 minutes. If cheese doesn't bubble up, broil for a minute or so - but don't burn it. Also, you don't want to over cook it because the sauce will dry up. 


1. My local grocery store occasionally puts whole wheat and/or flax noodles on sale. I stock up whenever they're on sale. This is a great item to keep on hand in your pantry because it has a long shelf life. 

2. This recipe calls for several items that I get at Costco on a regular basis due to the enormous savings. These items are: sun dried tomatoes in oil, kalamata olives, dried basil, fresh spinach, pine nuts, ground pepper, chili flakes, paprika and extra virgin olive oil. I cook with these ingredients a lot. They're extremely versatile, which can be used in Italian and Mediterranean dishes.