Monday, May 28, 2012

Berry Fro-Yo

When I heard someone say this weekend that Memorial Day is the kick off to summer,  I could only think of one thing: Richard's Dairy Shed.   It's an ice cream shop where I live that makes the best homemade ice cream & frozen yogurt ever!  Whenever I drive by I swear the place talks to me.  It says "Christine, you know you want to stop and get a waffle sundae with cake batter ice cream".  Yup, I sure do!  This place knows me well; and it should, since a few years back I gave it my entire summer.   Oh, the temptation!  I knew I better think fast and come up with a frozen sweet treat to temporarily satisfy my cravings.  ;)

I had planned for a few days now to try out a recipe for frozen yogurt that I had come across, but then got disappointed when I realized I needed an ice cream maker to make it.   I thought hard about what I could do to make this type of treat without the ice cream maker.   After brainstorming a bit, I came up with the following recipe which, I am excited to say, turned out delicious!!!  

FYI: This will take up to 3 hours (of "waiting" time) to make, after prep time.

Berry Fro-Yo 
(no ice cream maker required!)
(serves 2)
1 cup mixed frozen berries
1/2 cup homemade non-dairy yogurt (or store bought if you prefer)
*1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (return to room temperate after melting before use)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract

*Coconut oil can be tricky.  After you melt it, make sure you let it cool off a bit before adding it to the other ingredients so that it does not harden back up right away.  On the other hand, don't let it sit too long at room temperature before you use it, as it might start to harden up on its own again.  You want it in liquid form, but not too hot.

Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor and blend until smooth.   

Pour mixture into a bowl and freeze for one hour.  The edges will be hardened, but the middle will still be soft.  Mix with a spoon, scraping the sides of the bowl to get the hardened chunks mixed in with the parts that are still soft.

Return to freezer for one hour.  The mixture will be more hardened throughout than before, but still not ready yet!  Mix again, scraping the sides and mixing everything together well.  

Return to the freezer for one more hour.  After this hour is up, your fro-yo will be frozen through and ready to eat!

If you freeze any leftovers over night, you will need to defrost it for about 5-10 minutes before it will be soft enough to eat.

I end with a plea for anyone who knows of a recipe for non-dairy cake batter ice-cream, to pleeeease share it with me!!  I will hug you, kiss you, be your friend for life!!  If you don't want any of that, I'll just thank you a whole lot. ;)  It's my absolute favorite flavor and if I can make it myself, well.... I can't even tell you how happy that would make me! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Basic Homemade Yogurt

In my non-veg days I used to eat yogurt all the time.  I really like it, but haven't been able to find a good non-dairy brand that either a) tastes good or b) doesn't contain some form of preservative.   Unfortunately, this recipe doesn't contain all the live cultures that are good for you that regular yogurt contains, but it comes in handy when you want a quick yogurt fix and don't have any in the house.  It also works well in recipes that call for baking with yogurt.

This recipe is adapted from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.  

Basic Homemade Yogurt
*1 cup light (or full-fat) coconut milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional
Fresh fruit, optional

*I used light coconut milk

Combine milk and lemon juice in a medium bowl, let curdle for 2 minutes.  Add maple syrup, cornstarch & vanilla extract (if using vanilla).   

Blend ingredients for 1 minute using an immersion blender (I don't have one so I used a regular blender)

Heat in microwave for 2 minutes keeping a close eye to make sure the mixture doesn't bubble up.  Blend again.

Heat in microwave for 2 minutes, then blend again or stir with a spoon.

Heat for 1 more minute, the mixture will begin to resemble thin pudding.  Stir in optional fruit.

Store in fridge for up to one hour to thicken.  Stir again before eating.

This tastes just like vanilla yogurt you buy from the store (the dairy version).  In particular, it reminds me of the Stoneyfield brand that I used to eat.   I would imagine that it would taste more like plain yogurt if you don't add the vanilla extract.  I'm sure it would be great with some fruit too, or whatever goodies you'd like to add!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mexican Casserole

I really enjoy Mexican food.  I could eat it several times a week and not get sick of it.    If you're a Mexican fan as well, you must give this a try!   It's very good.

This recipe is adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Mexican Casserole
(serves 6)
1 tbsp water
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups yellow tortilla chips, broken into pieces
*1 1/2 cups black beans
*1 1/2 cups fat-free refried beans
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp chili powder, divided
1/2 tsp cumin, divided
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup homemade enchilada sauce (or 1 cup of canned)

*If using canned beans, always look for the brands without preservatives.  I use Trader Joe's brand where the ingredients are just beans, water & salt, nothing else. Black beans that come in a bag have less salt than those in cans as well.

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

If using homemade enchilada sauce, prepare that now and set aside.  

In a large pan, saute pepper, onion & garlic in water for about 5 minutes, or until softened.  Set aside.

Line bottom of baking dish with a layer of tortilla chips.  Spread half the refried beans over the chips (*see notes below).  Cover the refried beans with half of the pepper/onion/garlic mixture and half of the tomato.  Add half of the chili powder & cumin.  Finally, add half of the black beans.  

Add another layer of tortilla chips and repeat the layers of the other ingredients.   Spread salsa on top.  Cover with final layer of tortilla chips and pour the enchilada sauce on top.

Cover and bake for about 30 minutes.   Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  

*Since my refried beans were thick, I used my hands to work them over the chips.  There really was no way to "spread" them using a utensil without disrupting the placement of the chips.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cinnamon Coated Coffee Cake Muffins

Warning:  If you like cinnamon coffee cake, this recipe might get you into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most muffins eaten in one sitting!  I'm pretty sure I currently hold the title, but I won't reveal the number.  For embarrassment's sake, some things are best left unsaid. ;-)     (Of course I'm exaggerating, if only slightly (ha!), this is a *healthier* eating blog after all!)  But you will want more than one! 

This recipe is adapted from can you stay for dinner?.  My version is vegan and refined sugar free.

Cinnamon Coated Coffee Cake Muffins
(yields 12 muffins)
1 "flax egg" (1 tbsp milled flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (all purpose should work too)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup Organic, Grade B maple syrup
3/4 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk)

For cinnamon topping
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup Organic, Grade B maple syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a muffin tin and set it aside.  

Prepare "flax egg" by whisking flaxseed with water.  Set it aside to let it thicken.

In a small bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg & cinnamon.

In a separate, large bowl, combine maple syrup, milk and "flax egg" mixture. 

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.   

Divide batter evenly among muffin tin cups.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of one of the muffins.

Cinnamon Topping:
While muffins are baking, prepare the cinnamon topping by melting the coconut oil, allowing it to come back to room temperature, then combining it in a bowl with the maple syrup and cinnamon.
*If you don't allow the coconut oil to come back to room temperature before adding it to the maple syrup, it might harden and you want it to remain a liquid.  

When muffins are done, slide knife around the sides of the muffins and shake them out of the pan while still hot.   

Dip each muffin into the cinnamon topping mixture coating all sides.  Allow the excess to drip off, and place on a cooling rack.  (You will want something underneath the cooling rack to catch any drippings).  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Gently transfer each muffin from the cooling rack to the baking sheet.  Refrigerate up to one hour for the topping to set.

You can reheat before eating, or eat them cold.  Either way, they are delicious!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lentil, Rice & Veggie Skillet

I had some veggies in my fridge about to go bad if I didn't use them soon, and I hate when that happens, so I decided to go with this dish for dinner.  I originally intended to just make it with rice, but the idea to add lentils for some extra protein came to mind and it worked out well.  I got the inspiration for this meal from The Naked Kitchen.  I adapted it quite a bit though and really liked how it turned out.   

Lentil, Rice & Veggie Skillet
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked lentils
2 tbsp water
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups broccoli crowns, chopped
2 cups cauliflower crowns, chopped
 1 1/2 cups creamy sauce (or pasta/marinara sauce of your choice)

Prepare brown rice & lentils according to package directions.

Prepare creamy sauce according to directions, but don't heat yet, just set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion & garlic in 1 tbsp water, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the broccoli & cauliflower and remaining tbsp of water.  Saute until broccoli is bright green and a bit tender (they will still be crunchy).

Add rice, lentils & pasta sauce to skillet, stir to combine with veggies.  Reduce heat to a simmer until the sauce is heated through.  Serve warm.

I would qualify this as a healthy "comfort food" dish.  It's warm, thick & hearty, while the veggies add a nice crunch.  

There really was no way to get a "pretty" picture of this dish, but I did my best! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pear-Walnut Salad

There's kind of a long story behind my inspiration for this salad.  It all began with an entire weekend of eating out with family at restaurants that were not entirely veg friendly.   I had to ask for a lot of menu substitutions, which I hate doing.  I'm shy about things like that.  I have to laugh at myself though because I honestly feel like Sally Albright from When Harry Met Sally sometimes when I'm ordering food.

One of the restaurants had nothing I could substitute so I ended up ordering a pear walnut salad and scarfed down about 5 dinner rolls with it.  I was starving and carb deprived!  ;-)    It was really good though! I knew I'd want to make my own, so this is my adaptation.  

Pear-Walnut Salad
(serves 1)
2 cups spring mix salad
1 cup fresh spinach
1 pear, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
balsamic vinegairette (as much as you like)

Mix salad and spinach in a bowl.  Top with pear slices, walnuts & cranberries.  Add balsamic , toss to combine, and enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Blondies

Looking back over some of my older posts I'm sensing a peanut butter trend.  I can't help it, I love peanut butter!  I think I eat way too much of it, but I suppose there are worse things to be stuck on.  ;-)  I borrowed a dessert book from my sister again, the same book that inspired my Banana Chocolate Walnut Cookies, and knew I had to try these.  

This is that 'stick to the roof of your mouth' type of gooey dessert that's very rich and fudge-like.  You'll definitely want to wash these down with a tall glass of something cold (preferably some type of milk).   

I adapted this recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar.   My substitutions made this dessert refined sugar and oil free.  I was also able to reduce the amount of overall sugar by 1/4 cup.

Peanut Butter Blondies
(yields 12 blondies)
*3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup Organic, Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour (all purpose should work too)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup peanuts

*I use the type of creamy peanut butter with oil separation,  the kind you have to stir, made with no hydrogenated oils, just peanuts.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish (I used coconut oil to grease).

In a mixing bowl, stir to combine peanut butter, applesauce and maple syrup.  Stir in the non-dairy milk and vanilla.

Add flour, salt and baking powder.  Combine to form a thick dough (it won't be too thick or too thin).  

Transfer dough to baking dish and spread evenly.   Add the peanuts on top and lightly press into place. 

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes (mine took the full 25); the blondie edges should be just barely darkened.  The top will appear soft but that is okay.   Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing.

I thought these were really good, I just wasn't crazy about the peanuts on top.  I use raw, unsalted peanuts so maybe that's why.  I ended up picking them off and eating my blondie without them.   If you decide to make these without them it won't effect the outcome!

Enjoy!  :-)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Broccoli-Cashew Stir Fry

I'm never ordering Chinese Food again after making this dish! When I've ordered it in the past and have been reassured that the dish doesn't contain MSG, I'm still skeptical since MSG is present in so many more forms than just Monosodium Glutamate. I always order some type of vegetable dish and this is the perfect, natural substitute. You might wonder why I order Chinese Food at all since that's probably one of the biggest MSG offenders.  Well, I'm only human and I like Chinese food, so I occasionally take my chances (and usually regret it, although I always ask for no MSG!). Not anymore! This is my go-to dish from now on.   Since I'm always stocked up on brown rice and an assortment of fresh veggies, this dish is really easy to make in a snap!

Adapted from Taste of Home:

Broccoli-Cashew Stir Fry
(yields 4 servings)
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 tbsp water
2 cups broccoli crowns (stems removed)
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp soy sauce (homemade)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup cashews

Prepare rice according to directions.

While rice cooks, in a large stock pot saute broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots and garlic in water over medium heat until tender (around 5-7 minutes)

While vegetables are sauteing, combine cornstarch, vegetable broth, soy sauce and ginger in a bowl.  Stir until blended.   Gradually stir mixture into stock pot.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened (around 2 minutes).

Reduce heat to low, add cashews and stir to combine.  Cook until heated through. Serve with rice.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sloppy No's! ('No Meat' Sloppy Joe's)

I love this vegetarian twist for traditional Sloppy Joe's!  I've made it quite a few times and it's always a hit.  Lentils are the perfect texture to use in this dish, and the flavor is so good that you won't even miss the meat!  

Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen:

Sloppy No's
(serves 4-6)
1 cup uncooked lentils
2 tbsp water
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp oregano
salt & pepper to taste
8oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp yellow mustard

Prepare lentils according to package directions.  Once they're done, drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done, preheat a medium stock pot over medium heat.  Saute the onions and peppers in water until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute a minute more.  Add cooked lentils, chili powder, oregano, salt pepper.  Stir to combine.   Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 more minutes.

Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.   Serve and enjoy!

I've enjoyed this dish on sliced bread, "burger" buns and even on top of salad in place of dressing. It freezes well too.  I sometimes make a double batch and freeze one to have it on hand for those nights where I want something quick.