Sunday, April 30, 2006

Earthy Lentil Soup

We had a storm last night, which was reason enough for me to make some soup this morning. Since getting Vive le Vegan!, I've been wanting to make the Earthy Lentil Soup because of rave reviews from other bloggers. This picture shows red onion, celery, colorful carrots, shallots, and garlic heating with olive oil. I really must stock up on spices, as I had to go without 4 listed in the recipe. Instead, I added shallots and doubled the tamari -- it was too late to turn back and I was hoping I wouldn't have a disaster on my hands.

Here is the soup simmering on the stove -- I kept it there for a couple hours (really testing the family's restraint!) At this point I was thinking that even if the soup wasn't edible, it was already a success because of the aroma that filled our home. Another reason why I wanted to try this soup is because it doesn't have tomato in it. Don't get me wrong, I love tomatoes, but it seems they are in so many soups, and I wanted something a little different.

Here is my first bowl of Dreena's Earthy Lentil Soup, and I must say that even better than the smell is the taste -- that's saying a lot. Mmm, good...this is a delectable soup! The idea was to freeze some of it for another day like the recipe suggests, but I don't think there will be enough to do that. I love having a hearty item like this in the fridge that only needs a quick heating to enjoy. This one will be put in our regular rotation.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bags of Gold & Berry Oat Squares

I've been wanting to make these for a while, and Dori gave me the extra inspiration that I needed. In California, we used to buy something like this frozen from Ralph's called bags of gold. They were a big treat for us back then because it was a very rare thing to find pre-packaged vegetarian items at the grocery store. Garden burger was about all there was 10 years ago. Anyhow, I wanted a quick & yummy snack -- and this was both!

Lightly spray the muffin pan with veg. oil, place a wrap in each compartment, and begin filling them with pre-cooked items. Pinch them closed at the top with a little water. Cook @ 350 for about 20 minutes, and toward the end keep a watch on them so they don't burn. I covered mine with tin foil toward the last 5 minutes. These are filled with Smart BBQ and left over quinoa - two things that I just happened to have in the fridge at the time. I think this would be a nice Friday item to use up left-overs from the week. For kids, set up a buffet so they can fill their own.

The Berry Oat Squares recipe is from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer. With this one, I'm thinking that I messed around with the recipe too much. Abi didn't even like it -- possibly because of my modifications, or maybe because our family is too spoiled on more sugary treats to appreciate it? For whatever reason, this one didn't fly.

Recipe (My modifications):

3/4 C. Vegan Margarine (Earth Balance Shortening)
1 1/2 C. Rolled Oats
1 1/4 C. Flour (1 C. WW Flour, 1/4 C. Flax Meal)
1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Blueberries (Frozen, not thawed)
1/2 C. Jam (Blackberry)
1 Tsp. Flour (WW Flour)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Quinoa Spring Salad & Molasses Baked Beans

This is the second recipe I made from Dreena Burton's cookbook, Vive Le Vegan! Here I am all set up just like on the cooking channel ready to toss the Quinoa Spring Salad together. Starting at 1 o'clock, you see: cucumber, Simple Cider Vinaigrette, pistachios, green onion, peas, quinoa, and in the center red bell peppers. I didn't have hemp seed nuts or the spices on hand this time around. Hubby would have liked for the spices to be added. For me, I thought the vinaigrette was a perfect amount of flavor to enhance the ingredients.

Ta DAH! Here is the finished salad. I had to eat a spoonful right away to sample it and make sure that it wasn't poison (a little family joke) and then another & another - I couldn't stop sampling it. Such a scrumptious salad! This is the first time I've cooked with or eaten quinoa, and I'm already hooked. I love the nutty flavor, and can't wait to try other recipes using this grain.

Here is the first recipe I made from Vive. I was planning on making this all week and had all the ingredients on hand...or so I thought. I was surprised that we were out of ketchup - so I substituted a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Here it is just before putting in the oven. This is my largest casserole dish with a lid and just look how close to the top it is! So I placed an old cookie sheet beneath it to catch any spills, and I'm glad I did! Blackstrap molasses can make for a stubborn clean-up.

Here are the baked beans all cooked and transferred to a clean dish. These baked beans are more than delicious, they are aromatheraputic. My house smells absolutely delicious. I can tell that I'm going to really love this cookbook and just today, Everyday Vegan arrived in the mail.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Garden, Bundles, & Recipe Testing

"What are we doing today, boss?"

How about finishing up the garden spot that we
started back in April? I had found some raised garden bed plans in Sunset Magazine, showed them to Art, and said, "Think you could do something like that on the side of the house?" He didn't follow the plans, & came up with something better, "It's all up here," he says pointing to his head. You can see the pipe arch, which will hold a netting to keep out birds, squirrels, deer, & whatever else.

I love that Art didn't buy much stuff for this project. He reused some old boards that were torn-up from the deck last summer, and only had to buy the nuts & bolts. The frames are 2 boards tall, and has a wire netting underneath to deter the groundhogs.

We put down 4 of my mosaic stepping stones and framed the beds with a perennial thyme ground cover. Inside the boxes, on the right, there is a cherry tomato, basil, habanero pepper, 2 other pepper plants, & marigolds. The box on the left has a yellow squash, 3 peppers, & marigolds. (marigolds in the garden help repel pests) The pepper plants are a mystery ~ Art said the tags were mismatched in the store, so we have 5 unknown varieties of pepper plants.

Digging in the dirt works up an appetite, so I cooked up some 'Banana Oat Bundles' from Vive le Vegan! Our bananas were really big & made the batter runny, so the first group on the bottom row looks more like cookies. I added more oats and the top 2 rows look more like little bundles. Olivia kept saying, "These are yummy cookies!" She really likes helping with this recipe because she can lick the banana puree, & I can feel good about all the ingredients. This time, we added some chocolate chips, I used cardamom instead of cinnamon, and they are

Here is a recipe that I tested for Catherine. It is her healthier, veg version of Sloppy Joes ~ 'Sloppy Lentils'. I've heard lots of chatter about Sloppy Lentils, but this is my first time making it. Her "Party Of One" recipe yield was the perfect amount for us. I ate one, the girls shared the other, and I spooned up the remaining from the saucepan. It was a perfect lunch for us. I thought that I had all the ingredients when I began, but as you can see, we're missing the pretty green color. Next time. Awesome recipe, Catherine, thanks for sharing it with us!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Easter Craft

Self-Hardening Salt Clay:

1.5 C Salt
4 C Flour
1.5 C H2O

Rolling Pin
Cookie Cutters
Chop Stick (or other poking device)

Flex your muscle, and stir it all together. Roll it out to desired thickness and begin pressing cookie cutters. Since this is an Easter craft, we used bunny rabbits, butterflys, hearts, and flower cookie cutters. Remember that if you want to hang it up by a ribbon, you'll need to poke a hole in the cookie before it bakes. Bake @ 300* for 30-40 minutes, or until hard.

Before you begin painting, use a chop stick to make sure the hole for the ribbon is passable. Now you are ready to decorate your cookie keepsake....go to town & have fun with it! Just put down a towel or old tablecloth to catch the spills. Paint & let dry. Then embellish with what you have on hand. We happened to have squiggly eyes, glitter glue, & paint this time. In the past, we've used crayons, markers, sequins, buttons, and watercolors.
(I don't recommend watercolors because it makes the cookie too soggy) Thread the ribbon through the hole and tie in a knot. Several strung together makes a cute decoration. Spray with acrylic spray if you want it to last forever.

We have made these for personalized party favors, place tags, Christmas ornaments, Halloween treats, and they have even been seen hanging from our chandeliers and window handles. This time, I just wrote the girls' names & the year on the back with a Sharpie for a memento of the holiday & hung them up in our kitchen window.

PS: I figured this would be an appropriate post for a food blog since I'm working with flour/salt/water....And an added bonus is that since these cookies aren't to be eaten, it is totally Low-Cal!

Also, let's consider this a vegan recipe since some eggs might be spared by doing this craft instead of the traditional. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 8, 2006


Ok, I'm not going to make anything sweet for a while. But I felt like I "had" to make these... It all started when I was buying the wraps for spring rolls and accidently bought "pasta wrappers"...well, those need to be deep fried --- ugh, so that was a waste. I went back to the store in search of "rice wrappers" and couldn't find them. Thinking that I could just substitute Fillo Dough, I bought that instead. Well, I was wrong, and instead of another waste, I decided to do something with the Fillo Dough, and that turned out to be baklava. See, I HAD to make them. This was my first time with baklava and it was a fun process. It is full of walnuts and almonds so that part is good for us!
ps - I do have rice wrappers in the fridge, and they are up for dinner tonight...and we already have dessert. :o)

Monday, April 3, 2006

Peanut "Better" Bars

We had a major sweet-tooth this weekend, so I found this recipe at Vegan Outreach, which was definitely a solution to our situation. These are delicious, easy to make, and you don't need a ton of ingredients on hand - but beware, they are nearly irresistible and it makes a large pan. Next time, I'll make these for a party or when there are more people on hand to help dispose of them!

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sliced almonds (toast them in the oven @ 325* for about 10 minutes -- next time, I'll tuck the almonds under the chocolate layer so they won't fall off)
6 cups corn flakes
1 8oz. bag dark chocolate chips

Lightly oil an 8x10 inch cake pan. Place the corn flakes in the pan.

Mix the corn syrup & sugar in a sauce pan, and bring to a light boil. Remove from the heat, add the peanut butter, and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture over the corn flakes, and combine.

In a saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and pour over the top of cereal mixture, press sliced almonds on top. Place in the refrigerator overnight and let harden. The next day, cut and serve.