Monday, January 28, 2013

Frozen Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Frozen Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

A word of warning, these bars are highly addictive! I made these bars a few weeks ago because I wanted something to snack on at work besides celery. They only made it to work for one day before Rich and I devoured them. They are the closest thing I have every made to a chocolate  bar. When served cold, the first sensation on your tongue is chocolate followed by a sweet peanut butter flavor. They are the perfect midday pick-me-up with a little chocolate and some nuts to sustain you until your next meal.

You can experiment with your own variations but the recipe below is the most delicious version I have made so far!

1/2 cup almonds (you can also use peanuts)
1 cup of dates
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup dried coconut
1 tbsp coco powder
1 tbsp soy milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

1. Chop the almonds in a food processor.
2. Add the dates and chop in the food processor again.
3. Add the remaining ingredients besides the chocolate chips and process until well mixed. The consistency should be sticky and there should not be excess liquid.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
5. Spread the mixture into a 9 inch pie tin on top of parchment paper.
6. Make sure the mixture is evenly distributed and flatten the top with your hand.
7. Freeze the mixture for at least one hour.
8. Place the finished product, bottom up, on a cutting board and chop into desired sizes with a chopping knife.
9. Store in the freezer, they are best when they are cold!
10. Hide in a secret place (I suggest under the frozen lima beans) where no one will eat them all on you!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

This weekend I wanted to make a new and unique vegan dish. I found a Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe on my new favorite vegan food blog, Oh She Glows and adjusted it slightly. I added some more herbs, spices and made it a little creamier. Rich and I were getting a little tired of our Comfort Food Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe. I actually made it for my mom and siblings one night a few months ago and couldn't believe how much oil was in it! I guess my standards and tastes have changed since I first started vegan cooking a few years ago. I realized it was tasty, but not particularly healthy and haven't made it since. 

I choose the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese originally because it had a much lower fat content when compared with most vegan mac & cheese recipes. I was very happy with the end result. It tasted less like mac & cheese than our comfort food version, but I really enjoyed the unique flavor. The butternut squash gave it an earthy undertone and the nutritional gave a hint of the traditional mac & cheese flavor. I think the consistency of this meal was the best part. The consistency was creamy and it really looked like traditional mac & cheese. 

The end result reinforced my vegan food philosophy: We don't need to replicate the exact flavor of non-vegan dishes with loads of artificial flavors, salt, and sugar. It is better to create new, healthier versions of old favorites and embrace the flavor as a new creation.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Ingredients
2 cups of chopped butternut squash (you could substitute with canned butternut squash)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp of dried oregano
2 cups soymilk (divided)
2 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup nutritional yeast
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
1tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 16oz package of gluten free pasta (rice or quinoa work well)
¾ cup chopped kale
Top with Hungarian Smoked Paprika

1.   Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.   Peel and chop 2 cups of butternut squash (about one medium sized squash).
3.   Bring a pot of water to boil and follow pasta directions on package.
4.   While the squash is baking, heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium for about 1 minute.
5.   Add minced garlic and oregano. Sauté these for 2 minutes to bring out flavor.
6.   Bring the heat down to medium-low.
7.   Add 1.5 cups of soymilk and cornstarch, whisk until there are no clumps.
8.   Whisk in the nutritional yeast, the consistency will really start to thicken here.
9.   Add mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper mixing well.
10.       Remove the saucepan from heat.
11.       When the squash is done, let it cool for about 15 minutes. This time of year you can expedite the process by letting it sit on the fire escape. J
12.       Mix the squash and remaining soymilk in a food processor or with an electric mixer (1/2 cup).
13.       Add the butternut squash mixture to the “cheesy” mixture, whisk together until combined.
14.       Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix in chopped kale.
15.       Top with Hungarian Smoked Paprika and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's That Time of Year…..

It's vegan time of year for us again! I had plenty of cookies and cheese over the holiday season to warrant another January detox. I am having fun trying new recipes, eating more greens and trying the various vegan restaurants in NYC.  So far my favorite recipe was vegan banana bread but we ate it so quickly I didn't get to take a picture. I'll try to make it again soon and post it with pictures. This weekend I made a Vegan Shepard's Pie that came out really well and was fairly easy.

1 onion
1 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ cup veggie broth
¾ cup beer (I used a Left Hand Milk Stout)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 medium potatoes
½ cup soymilk
½ cup mushrooms
3 celery stalks
3 carrots
1 parsnip
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen peas
fresh rosemary
½ tsp fresh pepper
½ tsp curry
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
Optional: Breadcrumbs for topping
Optional: Daiya Mozzarella for the top

  1.     Boil chopped and peeled potatoes in a large pot.
  2.      While the potatoes are cooking, sauté onion in 1 tbs olive oil until translucent.
  3.      Add carrots, celery, and parsnip. Sauté 2 minutes.
  4.     Add mushrooms. Sauté 2 minutes.
  5.      Add spices.
  6.      Add ½ cup vegetable broth to the pan and cover on medium heat. This way you don’t have to use so much oil, vegetables will cook using the water.
  7.     In a separate bowl combine 1 cup vegetable broth, ½ cup beer, 3 tbsp of flour, and tomato paste and whisk.
  8.      While the vegetables are cooking, return to the potatoes.
  9.      Drain potatoes when they are soft and blend them (using an electric mixer) with soymilk and pepper.  Set aside.
  10.  When the vegetables in the pan are soft enough to sick a fork through the carrots and celery, add the mixed vegetable broth, beer, flour, and tomato paste. Continue to cook in pan until a thick gravy forms.
  11.  Place the vegetable mixture in a tall baking dish or brownie pan.
  12.  Place the mashed potatoes on top.
  13.  Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year's Desserts

For New Year's Eve this year I was in charge of dessert. After looking through loads of recipes, I found the perfect one: White Cake with Mincemeat Filling. I love mincemeat cookies at Christmas time and I thought this would be an old fashioned, unique, and challenging recipe. While I was buying the ingredients I sent a text to my friend. She was naturally a little concerned about the mincemeat idea (in college my vegetarian friend loved the mincemeat cookies my mom sent us. When I told her the name of that particular cookie, she looked at me with alarm thinking she had just broken her years of vegetarianism). As a result, I decided to also make my all time favorite, Flourless Chocolate Cake. I also made some Chocolate Expresso Cookies. Mincemeat actually does not have any meat at all, it is essentially a jam made with raisins, currents, dates, and brandy. For this recipe, I made the mincemeat from scratch. I also cut open a vanilla bean to flavor the cake. It was definitely a lot of work but it was worth it. I really liked it and will do it again. The recipe is above.