Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tis the Season to Forget Ones Greens

In the middle of a holiday where we are bombarded with sugar plums, candy canes, chocolate Santas, gingerbread men with their houses, and oodles of pies and cakes how do we make room for greens? I mean I will be honest with you, put a gingerbread village in front of me and I will demolish it into the ground taking no prisoners. (Oh I will, don't doubt this sweet tooth of mine combined with the bizarrely awful joy I feel when eating gingerbread men.) Who wants greens when there are sugary treats aplenty!

HAHAHA, bless this website for creating the vision I wanted to share http://kitchenscraps.ca/2008/12/15/run-run-as-fast-as-you-can/ 

Back to the greens... who thinks about them during the holidays? Your insides do! Dark leafy greens are so important to eat daily that I'm not sure there is any other way say it, but as I care about your insides I will try....

"Eat dark leafy greens for nutrients that your body needs to function."
"Want protein, grab a handful of spinach and shove it in your face"
"Think you are feeling a little anemic, eat kale asap and iron up. Kale has more iron than beef."
"I will personally go all gingerbread crazy on you if you don't eat your dark greens."

Hmmm... that last one was over the top... forgive me. I'm clearly in need of some dark greens right now. This sugar high wasn't the best plan right before typing. Quick look at this awesome article on kale: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/reasons-kale-is-the-new-beef-nutritious-sustainable.html


Check out that delicious feast of kale salad right there. Again, because I care for your insides so much I want you to have this recipe. It is so yummy that you won't mind if you take a break from gingerbread demolishing.

Citrus Tahini Warm Kale Salad
serves 4-6 people
gluten free

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves (pressed)
3-4 basil leaves

Salad Makings:
2 large bunches of kale (dinosaur kale is best)
3 cups shredded cabbage 
3 cups shredded carrot
1 small red onion (diced)
1 cup toasted pecans

Place all your dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend, blend away! Make sure everything is combined really well, and then set aside. 

Clean all your veggies and put them all in a really big bowl. Make sure all the kale is torn into delightful bite sized pieces. Now about that bowl, its going to need to be big to fit them all, so you may have to use two bowls depending. Don't worry, it looks like a lot of food but once you bake the kale it shrinks! With all the veggies in the bowl(s) pour your dressing all over! Then roll up your sleeves and really massage that dressing into the kale with your hands. Once you have massages the salad so that the dressing is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl(s) and place them in the fridge to set for a minimum of an hour. 

Once you have waited an hour (or more, you can literally leave the salad in the fridge for hours before baking) you will need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get out your large baking pans and fill them up with your salad. Bake for 7-10 minutes, don't burn your leaves. While that is baking you can also take your cup of copped pecans and toast them in your toaster oven, or in the oven with your salad if there is room. They don't need very long (5-7 minutes tops). 

Remove your salad from the oven, and sprinkle your pecans on top. Serve immediately, and enjoy the break from the sugar rush. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

On a Serious Note, and a Sillier One Too

Sometimes reading the news makes my insides hurt, and causes uncontrollable mood swings from a random fit of rage to unstoppable waterworks and everything in between. As someone who has experienced the loss of a younger sibling, my heart reaches out to those families in Connecticut. I am not here to use this blog as a political vehicle, and I won't, but I will say can we please find a civil/intelligent/healthy way to end mass shootings? I mean come on man, it's 2012! How have we not figured out a way to prevent these tragedies.

And now for a less than awesome segue (as there really isn't a good one I can think of... Speaking of 2012, how many of you have storage sheds filled with goods just in case the Mayans were right?? Oh those Mayans and their calendars, messing with peoples' heads for years. But seriously, do you have a stock pile of goods? If so, and you are right and I'm wrong, can I come visit on the 22nd? If you say yes I'll make you these delicious and wonderfully holiday filled Gingerbread Cupcakes! YUM!  Or in the spirit of the holidays I'll just share it on here for you folks to munch on before the Mayan calendar shuts us down.



But back to a serious(ish) note, if you are in need of holiday healthier comfort food these little cupcake morsels are the way to go! Yes, they are cupcakes and so aren't screaming health, but they are cholesterol free, refined sugar free (without the frosting), and free of any dairy excess fats. So grab these ingredients, and get to making yourself some extra delicious holiday gingerbread cupcake treats.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
makes about 12-14 cupcakes
gluten-free
(adapted from These Peas are Hollow)

Ingredients: 
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each: allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (best to use powder and not fresh)
4 tablespoons applesauce
4 tablespoons earth balance (or other vegan butter substitute)
3/4 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup maple sugar
1 large flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax with 4 tablespoons warm water whisked)
1 cup "buttermilk" (1 cup almond milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar whisked)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix together all your fours, starches, powders, xanthan gum, and spices. Set aside.

Whisk together your buttermilk mixture and let set for 5 minutes. Also whisk together your flax egg mixture and let set for 5 minutes.

Get our your stand mixer (or do this by hand, but the mixer is easier) and in the bowl add molasses, maple sugar, applesauce and earth balance. Beat until everything is combined. Next add in your flax egg and continue to beat until combined. Slowly add in the "buttermilk" and continue to beat the mixture until combined. 

Once your wet ingredients are well blended slowly add your flour mixture. Add it in smaller batches to make the mixing process easier. Once the flour has been completely combined with the wet ingredients it is time to get our your cupcake pan and fill it up! You can use cupcake liners or simply spray your pan, either way works. Fill each cupcake holder about 3/4 (maybe a wee bit higher) full. With the pan filled with cupcake fun place in the oven and cook for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack. While they are cooling clean out your stand mixer bowl and lets make some frosting!

Ingredients:
2/3 cup tofutti vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup earth balance
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 - 3 cups sifted powered sugar

Place all ingredients except the powdered sugar in the mixer. Once they all are combined slowly add in the powdered sugar. Beat until well combined. Place the bowl in the fridge and let the frosting set for at least 10 minutes. 

Then once the frosting is ready and the cupcakes are cool, frost, decorate, and devour. :)


Just beet it, beet it, beet it

Fa, la, la, la the holidays make time whirl by faster than a movie montage set to upbeat music. I cannot believe it is already the 14th!?! There were so many things I wanted to blog about, menu plans I wanted to get put together for you guys, and countless other foodie related to-do lists. But you know what they say, its better to be busy and working hard than relaxing poolside somewhere.... <- I am going to have to talk to whoever says sayings like this, because that relaxing option sounds way better!

Fa, la, la, la, I can't keep track of time...

In other news, the holidays bring out the need to bake in me, as I'm sure they do with most people. I had the good luck of stumbling upon a cookie recipe a while back that I really liked, but it wasn't vegan or gluten free. So I pinned it (oh yes, I am an avid pinner on pinterest you should check out the hundreds of pins I be rockin' http://pinterest.com/gotcatering/) and thought I would return to it another day. Let me now paint you a sad picture: a young woman logs into her pinterest account to pull up the Christmas cookie recipe she was so excited to try out, but what's this, the pin is no longer valid! The original site is missing!!! NooOoooOooooooOooooo!!!! Pinterest Fail!

This kind of trauma is right on par with breaking a nail or running out of baking powder mid cookie. I was forced to pick up the few pieces of memory I had of this recipe and run with it, and I have to say they turned out freaking delicious. May I present to you some delish vegan-gluten-free Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies! (No dye here folks, so when you get to the portion of the recipe that makes the pink/red color don't freak out. It will taste fan-freakin-tastic, and you will be happy you made them.)



Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
makes about 20 cookies
gluten free

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
3/4 cup earth balance (room temp)
1 extra large flax "egg" (1&1/2 tablespoons ground flax and 6 tablespoons warm water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup beet puree (see recipe below)
1/4 cup peppermint water (see recipe below)

Beet Puree:

Ingredients:
1 large beet

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beet well and place on a baking sheet. (If you are partial to your baking sheets maybe cover them with foil as beet can stain!) Bake that beet for about 50-60 minutes, or until very tender. Once it is super tender remove from the oven and allow to cool. You need it to cool off enough for you to skin the beet and then place it in your blender or food processor. And then you are going to "beet it, beet it..No one wants to be defeated" hahaha, that had to be done, sorry. On a serious note, blend that beet up until you get a nice smooth puree. You may need to add a little bit of water to get the desired consistency. *This will be the dye that gets your candy cane pink/red. I told you there would be doubt, but believe me you will love these cookies and so will everyone you feed them to.

Picture of Beet Puree is borrowed from Green Little Bites as I was so excited to make the cookies I didn't stop to photograph this step. But this is what the puree looks like if you add a little water :)


Peppermint Water:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

In a small bowl whisk the two together. And tah-dah you have peppermint water. Apparently you can also buy this from the store, but this is cheaper and super easy. 

All right, cookie making time! Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

In a bowl mix all your flours, starches, powders, and xanthan gum. Set aside. In a large bowl cream together your butter and sugars. Add the flax egg and beat the mixture well. Next add your vanilla and peppermint extracts (not your peppermint water). Once you have blended these ingredients, slowly add in your flour mixture. until a thick cookie dough is formed. 

Now split the thick dough into two parts in two separate bowls. In one bowl add your 1/4 cup beet puree and blend together until you have a soft, pink dough. In the other bowl add your 1/4 cup peppermint water and blend until you have a nice soft dough. Place both bowls in the fridge for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Once the dough has set remove from the fridge and get ready for the fun part. (I'm sure you have been having fun up to this point, but this is the really fun part.) Using about a tablespoon or so of each colored dough, roll out about 4-5 inch dough ropes and twist the two colored ropes together to get the look of a candy cane. Place the candy cane cookies on cookie sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes. You want them to be firm but not brown when you remove them from the oven. Once they are out you can gobble them up as is or get a little sugary glaze (2 cups powdered sugar 1-2 tablespoons almond milk, whisk together) and dazzle up the cookies. Whatever you decide, I think that if you make these they will for sure become a holiday staple. Because they are effing delicious. :)  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Knock, knock :)

It's raining in Southern California!! Drivers quickly forget how to drive, there's water falling from the sky! People quickly purchase your cold weather gear, it's finally happened, winter is here! Yes, those of you reading this in parts of the country where cold weather actually means cold weather, we here in Southern California have absolutely no idea what to do with ourselves when the weather turns less than delightful. I am 100% part of this sad group of individuals who can't handle anything below 45 degrees (I start to think my feet and hands have frostbite). I was born and raised in a land where winter means scattered showers, and the occasional down pour that is always followed by sunshine. Sigh... one day I will really have to learn what to do when the weather is frightful.


Maybe the rain inspired me to whip up some warm and tasty French toast? Who knows, but that is what we are munching on right now at our house, and I thought, "Hey self, let's tell everyone how to make this breakfast treat. That way you won't have to feel so guilty complaining about a brief dusting of rain drops while others snow plow their driveways." Fast forward to this present moment, and here I am typing out this little ditty. The pictures are a little less than great as it is raining outside and that's where I normally take the foodie pictures... Sorry, last gripe about rain, lol! Now onto better things!

Orange Vanilla French Toast!
makes about 6-8 pieces
can be gluten free if you use a GF bread you like

Ingredients:
1 cup vanilla soy or coconut yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice (its best if fresh squeezed)
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
6-8 pieces of bread (we used sourdough this morning)

This might be the easiest recipe out there, so there is no excuse for you not to try it. In a bowl mix the yogurt, OJ, and cinnamon. Once it is all blended dip one piece of bread in at a time. I opted to mix it in a bowl and then pour it into a baking pan so that I had more room to dip my bread, but that is up to you.  I would suggest you cook 1 or 2 pieces at a time so you can best monitor the bread. Be sure you use coat the pan with a little oil before cooking to avoid sticking. (I used coconut oil)



You want your stove heat on medium so you don't burn the yogurt. Flip the bread ever so often to ensure an even cooking. Then dress them up with vegan butter, syrup, powdered sugar, fruit, whatever your heart desires!

Knock, knock....Who's there?....Orange....Orange who?...Orange you glad you made this toast! <-Haha that was horrifying to type, but well worth the cheesy factor. 




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Raccoons Oh My!

Holy moly, who ate way too much food this weekend? If you aren't raising your hand you are either lying to me or don't partake in Thanksgiving (the latter being absolutely fine, the former being a no-no liars don't make friends). I feel like I am still stuffed to the brim with the amazing delicious vegan food that was at our Thanksgiving meal. It was a delightful medley of winter squash, potatoes, dark greens, fall fruit, mushroom gravy, and pumpkin everything!

Hello Thanksgiving!
As you can see there was a lot to eat (scary part is that isn't even all of the food!!). What could be missing from that table... well the Pumpkin Pie Donuts for starters! These donuts were a hit and a half at the table, and I know I promised a while ago to share this recipe with you so today is the day!

But first, I am going to tell you a tale of the vicious raccoon gang that runs the Montana De Oro State Park in the Central Coast area of California. Oh yes that's right you heard me, VICIOUS raccoons. Disney paints a pretty picture with that Mico guy (shhh thats him right there acting all cute), but the truth is these furry friends are not to be trifled with.

Disney's Mico

My family is up in Northern California (north of San Francisco northern), and the manfriend and I thought it would be fun to drive up for the holiday and then drive slowly down the coast and camp along the way. Our last stop was in beautiful Montana De Oro. We set up camp, we made friends with the neighboring campers, and hunkered down for the night. The weather was perfect, and it seemed like the night was going to be smooth sailing. WRONG! At 4am in the morning we were awoken by a gang of unruly raccoons ransacking our campsite. The little fluffy tailed demons had figured out a way to get into our cooler, and they were wrecking havoc. Manfriend got out of the tent and tried to scare them off, but no amount of flashlight blinking, rock tossing, or foot stomping was going to prevent this massacre. There was 7 of them down there, and they did not take kindly to human intervention....So we did what anyone else would do, we hid in our tent and cursed the masked fuzzy bandits for stealing the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.

The next morning the ranger rolled through the campgrounds to warn people of the "overly aggressive" raccoons (too late bud). He tells us this as we are cleaning up the remains of our once glorious campsite, and so we shared our tale of woe. The response from him was, and I quote, "good thing you didn't approach them as they have been cornering people for food handouts and not letting them go." I swear this is not an exaggeration, as I am prone to do from time to time, this is the truth verbatim! So next time you are camping in the Central Coast of California do not fear the bear or the mountain lion, instead fear the mighty raccoon!

Raccoon gangs, who knew! The saddest part of this tale is that the pumpkin donuts fell victim to the puffy tailed beasts of the forest. Luckily for you and me that means its time to share this recipe and make a million more!



Pumpkin Pie Donuts!
Makes about 10
Gluten-Free
(adapted from the sweet life online)

Ingredients:
1/3 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (and ginger optional) 
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flours, starch, baking powder & soda, spices and xanthan gum). Mix all the dry ingredients together. 

In a separate bowl combine your pumpkin puree, syrup, agave, oil and vanilla. Stir everything until it has blended together. Then pour your wet ingredients into the dry and stir until everything is blended and you have a nice pumpkin donut batter. 

Now bust out your donut pan. Trust me you will want one as donuts make the world go round. Even if your pan is non-stick I would advise putting something on it to prevent sticking. Pour the batter into the donut moulds (about 3/4 of the way full). And then bake for 15-17 minutes. The result is delicious gluten free donuts! 

Donuts need a glaze, so if you aren't worried about a little extra sugar here's the glaze recipe:

1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 teaspoons coconut creamer (or non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Stir everything together until you have a nice thick glaze (you may need more creamer/milk as you go). Once the donuts have cooled put a little glaze on top and devour before the raccoons come find you. ;)



Friday, November 16, 2012

Another letter.

Dear Christmas Marketing Team,

Would you be so kind as to give it a rest already? We get it Christmas is around the corner, but let's not forget what that corner is...Thanksgiving! I love this poor holiday that is forever being steamrolled by your sparkly lights, bedazzled gift wrap, fat bearded men in red suits, holiday sales, sales on top of the holiday sales, and the ever frightening Black Friday.

Thanksgiving is a sweet time to come together, eat yummy food, and just enjoy people's company without the grand consumerism hoopla that has become the driving force of many holidays. I love eating food, and the only thing I love more that eating food is getting to eat as much food as my body can physically hold without any judgement from anyone else in the room as everyone else has done the same. So my not-so-friends on the marketing team if you could cool your freaking jets till at least the Monday after Thanksgiving that would be devine.

Thanks,
Casey

P.S. If you could also wait until at least December 1st to play your music that would more than ideal. I feel like a weird fish out of water listing to "The Little Drummer Boy" while shopping for my Halloween costume. <- Yes that is a frightening real story.

I saw this on Pinterest and you best believe I'm doing this on Thursday!
Happy almost Thanksgiving guys!! It is less than a week away!! How fast has this year flown by? I mean really??? It seems like only yesterday I was complaining that Hallmark makes to much money off of Valentines Day and here I am ranting about Christmas music. (I swear guys I really am a happy go lucky kind of gal, lol!)

In the spirit of all food Thanksgiving I pieced together an amazing Meal Plan for the day filled with vegan gluten-free recipes. And I wanted to take a moment to talk about it a little more in detail before we all go out food shopping this weekend!


  • 10 Amazing recipes that are sure to make everyones mouth water
    • Keep them Eating Greens, Brussels Sprouts
    • Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
    • Tahitian Squash Bites
    • Spaghetti Squash Pesto Wraps
    • Rosemary Red Potatoes
    • Mashed Cauliflower w/ Miso Mushroom Gravy
    • Easy Breezy Roasted Veggies
    • Acorn Squash stuffed with Sweet Potato/Leek/Quinoa Stuffing
    • Pumpkin Pie Churros
    • Candy Caramel Apples
  • Winter Squash health facts
  • Pre-made shopping list
Here's some photos of the food!


Tahitian Squash Bites (as seen in last post)

Spaghetti Squash Pesto Wraps
Sweet Potato Stuffing topped with Mashed Cauliflower Smothered in Miso Mushroom Gravy!!


Stuffed Acorn Squash (cut in half so you can see the YUMMY inside!)

Pumpkin Pie Churros. Need I say more?


So my dear friends, if you are looking for some recipes to add to this years Thanksgiving Day table I have some options for you! Click on the "Thanksgiving Day Meal Plan" tab here on the blog and get one! I'm pretty darn sure you won't regret it! I mean, what's $5really... a coffee at an over priced cafe, or an entire Thanksgiving meal plan! :)

Happy happy happy happy Thanksgiving to you! Eat, drink, be merry, and try not to stress about Great Aunt Hilda's bad breath at the dinner table! :) Xoxo!

Monday, November 12, 2012

We Started Singing....

In my head right now I am singing that one song "The day the music died... they started singing bye bye Miss American Pie..."and I have no idea why, but I'm sure you will have it stuck in your head soon too. Just wait, its like a silent killer.... "Drove the chevy to the levy but the levy was dry..."

Perhaps it is stuck in my head as this has been the longest in between posts, and I feel like this song almost applies to me and the blog! But don't worry the reason I have seemed to be singing "bye bye" is because I have been working on TONS of recipes! So many that I have created a collection for this fine holiday we have coming up that is centered all around gratitude and food!!!! Check this out:


Its a mini cookbook all in honor of Thanksgiving!
So there are side, appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert recipes all rolled into this one awesome creation! I'm super happy with it, and it comes with some nutritional information and a shopping list. I hope hope hope you like it too!! As a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this (*side note, what an odd saying*) I am going to be selling it online for $5. So if you are in the mood this holiday season to eat right, and go about it the easy way then let me help you out! Click on the "Thanksgiving Day Meal Plan" tab and get yours today! It is 100% vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!


To entice you to check out the meal plan, here is a free-bee! 



Tahitian Squash Bites (or Butternut Squash)
serves 6-10 as an appetizer
gluten free


Ingredients:
1 large Tahitian squash (or butternut squash)*
½ cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons tamari (gluten free)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash into rounds (about and inch thick). Rub the pieces of squash with a little bit of oil and place in a large baking dish. Cook the squash for 40-45 minutes.



While the squash is cooking mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Once the squash is finished and has cooled to a handling temperature peel the squash, and cut into shapes (I opted to make little circles); then plate on your serving tray. Using a pastry brush dip the brush into the sauce you made, and brush a little of the sauce on each piece of squash. Then using a fork or slotted spoon scoop out the green onion and place on top of each squash piece.

*Tahitian Squash looks very similar to a butternut squash but has a darker coloring on the outside, and has a sweeter taste. Making it ideal for these little bites. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Craving Cheezy Comfort

So October turned out to be quite the eventful month! Vegan MoFo was in full effect on the internet, work got so busy I could barely participate in V-MoFo, the kitten was spayed (yes she is currently rocking the cone-o-shame), I get more political junk mail than a Beverly Hills Housewife gets botox, left and right political parties continue to battle, National Cupcake Day came and went, Halloween parties were attended, and the East Coast is under the wrath of Hurricane Sandy**. I can't believe this month has 31 days, as I can only really remember 4, and that is if I try really hard - my eyes are squinted and I am starring up to the ceiling thinking. **I am sending my love and support (via Red Cross) to those on the East Coast, stay safe. http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp**

With so much happening I have been craving comfort food like a crazed zombie craves human flesh! (Why yes, Halloween is tomorrow and I feel like the occasional zombie reference is warranted.) 

Mmmmm Mac-N-Cheeze

Enter the magical world of Mac-N-Cheese. We all have memories of our parents cooking up this warm, cheesy, comforting, less-than-healthy delight, and we all loved it. Then one day we learned that cheese isn't exactly what we wanted it to be... the "Milk, it does a body good" commercials were replaced with a simpler "got milk" ad campaign, as dairy doesn't really do our body all that much good. Scientist not afraid of the massive dairy bureaucracy stepped up with a lot of startling information about dairy! The more research you do about milk/cheese/dairy the more you learn this isn't something you want in your daily diet at all. This information is often suppressed, and I encourage everyone to do the research and make this decision for yourselves. Knowledge is power. <- Oh wow I went pretty 'cheesy' there! <- Oh crap I made a pun! There isn't any hope for me, I'm doomed. Someone just cue the damn rainbow from NBC's commercials "The More You Know" please. 

Cool Links:

Whoa, haven't jumped on a health soapbox in a while, that was intense. Tra, la, la I'm still fun and light hearted, la, la, la... Anyway, back to the good stuff. COMFORT FOOD and all the joy it brings me. I love Mac-N-Cheese, and want to share this vegan (can be gluten-free) version. So get ready to curl up with a blanket, a warm bowl of Mac-N-Cheeze, and take a time out from this manic October!



Mac-N-Cheeze
serves 8-10
*can be gluten free if you use Quinoa noodles (they are the best GF option out there in pasta town)

Ingredients:
1 pack of elbow or shell noodles (look for a box that serves 8 to 10)
8oz crimini mushrooms chopped
1/2 a large yellow onion finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 cups firmly packed kale or spinach (or combo)
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Cheeze:
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cups rice mik 
1/2 coconut oil
1/2 nutritional yeast
1/4 cup yellow miso paste (thank you RFD for this idea)
1/2 tablespoon guar gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed powder

Add-Ons:
Avocado
Hot Sauce
Jalapeños

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

First things first, lets get your cheeze going! In a microwave safe bowl (don't judge me, its comfort food, and this speeds up the comfort) put your coconut oil in the microwave and heat just until it is in liquid form. Next pour in the rice milk into the bowl, and whisk the two together. Then place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until very warm (but not boiling hot). This can also be done on the stove if you hate the microwave like I normally do. Once very warm whisk in the guar gum until it is completely blended into the mixture. Set to the side. 

Next, in a food processor, or a very good blender, put your cashews, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, and mustard seed powder. Blend together on pulse to mix in the flavors. Then on a slower setting pour in your oil/milk/guar-gum mixture. Once you have slowly poured it all into the blender/processor increase speed. Once it looks all blended together turn the blender/processor off and add in the yellow miso paste. Now blend on high until you have a nice think cheezy blend. Set to the side. 

Get your water on the stove, and let it boil. Once boiling throw in your noodle of choice and cook according to the package directions. 

While your noodles are cooking place a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pan. Add in your chopped onion and pressed garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, and then add in your mushrooms (at this time you can also add in jalapeños if you want a little more kick, I'd say 2-3 tablespoons of diced jalapeño is enough). Cook the mushrooms with the onions for another 5 minutes. 

At this time your noodles should be about ready. Drain the hot water and return to the pot. Add in the cooked onions, garlic and mushrooms as well as your dark leafy green of choice. Stir all the veggies into the noodles. Then (here comes the fun part) pour your cheeze over everything!! Stir it all up and coat everything with your cheezy goodness. 



Once its all combined pout the Mac-N-Cheeze into a large baking pan, and cover with foil. Cook for 30 minutes covered, and then 15 minutes without the cover. 



Once its finished cooking in the oven, take it out and let set for 5-10 minutes. Then serve, devour, and sit back. Comfort should kick in shortly.

Delish.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yum Kale!

KALE!
There's been a lot of press around the wonder-green kale, and I have to say I am a fan of all the attention it is getting. However, not everyone is able to jump aboard the "I Love Kale All The Time" train as it has a tendency to come off a little bitter and sometimes hard to chew. As a supporter of said kale train, I try to find ways to make kale enjoyable for all folks. Here's a couple tricks to help you out:

  • Massage your kale! No not like a Swedish or Thai massage, but when you are washing and tearing up the kale into bite sized pieces rub the leaves with your fingers. The more you massage the kale leaves the more you are able to break down that insanely firm cell structure, and that helps take away some of that bitterness. It also makes it easier to chew in that fabulous salad you are creating. 
  • Heat up that kale! The genius of this very durable green is that you can steam it, bake it, cook it, and it will retain a lot of its nutritional value. This is wonderful as warm kale is easy to eat, tastes delicious  and opens up several new kale eating possibilities (hello kale chips). http://www.livestrong.com/article/540695-does-baked-kale-have-nutrients-left/ 
Recently my catering company was onset at a magazine stills shoot, and served some warm kale wraps that were the talk of the town! I cannot take too much credit as the raw ingredients themselves were from the local Farmer's Market, and I feel like there isn't a way to make those delicious veggies taste bad, lol! But since they were devoured so quickly, I thought to myself "Hey self, lets share this recipe and see what folks think about it." So here we find ourselves, me typing, and you hopefully reading this....



Yummy Peanut Kale Wraps
serves 4-6
**can be gluten free if you use lard chard leaves for wrap

Ingredients:
4 to 6 large lavash wraps
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 of a medium red onion (finely chopped) 
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 large bunches of kale
Other options to throw in the wrap:
1 large (preferably heirloom) tomato (finely chopped)
2-3 stalks of celery (finely chopped)

Sauce (adapted from lunchbox.com):
3 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
1/2 warm water
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic (pressed)
3 teaspoons tamari
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons agave
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 

Are you ready for operation awesomeness? I thought so, now pour the 2 cups of water and the cup of quinoa into a pot on high heat. Stir it around for a little bit to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once it starts to boil turn heat down to low, and stir occasionally. Once the quinoa has absorbed all the water and is finished cooking set to the side. 

On to the next step, put all those sauce ingredients in your blender, and blend them all up until you have a lovely looking well blended sauce. Set this aside as well. 

Get your kale ready by washing it and tearing it to small bite sized pieces, and massaging it as you go. I like to tear off two pieces, rub them together, and then repeat. Once all your kale is all ready place it in a large bowl, and pour your sauce over the kale. Massage the sauce into kale with your hands until every leaf is covered. Then put the kale into a large baking pan, and place in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Just enough to warm the kale and cook the sauce into the leaves. 

While that is cooking take your cooked quinoa and add in the chickpeas (rinsed), red onion, and anything else you want in your yummy wrap. Once the kale is warm take your lavash wrap and spoon your quinoa mixture out onto the wrap, and then spoon out your kale onto the wrap. Be sure you don't over fill your wrap, as you will need to now roll everything up. And then tah-dah, you have a beyond delicious lunch time meal for you and your loved ones. Ah kale, you are a yummy treat. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The List of 5.

And just like that, this month has flown by me too fast to even know what just happened! Holy not-enough-hours-in-the-day Batman, how is it already so close to the end of the year! I mean Halloween is pretty much directly around the corner (even though I can't see it through all the Christmas decorations that seem to be covering all stores) and I don't have so much as an inkling as to what to dress up as! Suggestions are welcome my friends in the comment section - let's keep them PG as that is how I will roll out this fine Halloween. In other news..... the kitty we found in July has FINALLY been named! Allow me to reintroduce Puma, named for her scratching skillz that killz:


So its a picture of a picture... but look at how cute the picture of the picture is!

How freaking adorable is this cat? I am so happy we found her (even though I am a dog person 100% lol). Ahywho... moving along as this is billed as a foodie blog, not a crazy cat lady blog... Or is it? 

It's a foodie blog, don't worry. And to prove it this particular post is dedicated to the 5 kitchen staples I as a vegan caterer MUST have at all times in my kitchen. I have had a lot of people ask me questions about what ingredients I use, and why I use them. It is time to talk ingredient shop, and get your pantries stocked with some healthy goodness. 

#1) Coconut Oil/Coconut Butter/Coconut Milk
image credit: google image search

Coconut is imperative to my overall happiness. Its health properties make me smile (and make my skin glow as it is beneficial to skin care as well!). Cooking with coconut oil is so important for overall health. Most oils you find in the supermarket (olive, sunflower, safflower, canola... etc) breakdown under the high heat you are cooking with, and create toxic compounds that in the end are harmful to your body. Coconut oil is the only oil that can truly hold up under high heat. Whether I'm cooking up a stir-fry, caramelizing onions, or other stove top delight I try to use coconut oil whenever possible. Some of you might not love the taste of coconut, so to keep the taste from permeating the dish use a little in your pan to start with, and then add in a little water as you cook to prevent sticking. I HIGHLY recommend you look into making the switch. For more awesome coconut oil info check out what this doctor has to say: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html


#2) Nutritional Yeast
image credit: google image search

I cannot live without nutritional yeast in my kitchens, professional and at home (this is partly because the manfriend eats this stuff like mana from heaven). For me as a vegan chef nutritional yeast is my best friend when making vegan cheeze. The nutty natural flavor lends itself magically to the land of vegan cheeze. It is also a fantastic snack option packed with TONS of nutrients. A favorite snack in my home is a piece of multigrain whole wheat toast, a little vegan butter, and then topped with nutritional yeast. If you have kids that you are trying to feed more B vitamins to this is your meal ticket, literally. I truly believe whether you are vegan or not, this is something you will need in your kitchen if you are looking to cook healthy. Here's a little more information about this amazing yeast written by an amazing woman who has been working in the natural food/health industry for 25 years: http://www.naturalhealth365.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast.html


#3) Quinoa
image credit: google image search
Quinoa has been getting a lot of press right now for its superfood ways, and I could not be happier about that if I tried. This amazing little seed (often called a grain by mistake) has a high protein content, high iron content, high in B vitamins, and the list goes on! The fantastic thing about protein found in quinoa is that the protein is considered a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). This is an important fact for vegans and vegetarians, as the media seems to like to tell us that we will never get all our protein without meat. *Suckers, we know better* I love eating quinoa as a breakfast option (cooking it in almond milk and stirring in cinnamon and maple syrup), as a lunch option in a salad, or as a side at dinner (you can cook it in veggie broth and use curry powder for an extra kick). It is the most versatile ingredient in my kitchen, and I love finding ways to use it! I often chose quinoa over rice and other grain options. For more fun facts about why you should have this in your kitchen here's more info from Whole Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice


#4) Ground Flax Seed
image credit: google image search
How do you cook without eggs? How do you cook without using a egg replacer powder that has gluten in it? -> Ground Flax Seed!!!! Oh my goodness I would be lost without these seeds. I sing their praises daily in my kitchen. I find that subbing eggs out with ground flax seed not only helps me keep my baked goods vegan, but also helps add a fluffy texture and keeps things moist. Let's be honest, when presented with a dry brownie and a gooey brownie the latter wins every time hands down. Flax seed helps us vegan folks keep our baked goods light years ahead of the lardy dairy/egg filled stuff. Plus flax seed is jammed full of nutritional value. So not only will your cookies taste like fluffy gooey joy, there is also a little health benefit. Win-win-win. These little seeds are a great source of omega-3s and fiber! Just be sure you ground them up when using them otherwise they are so small they will just pass through you, and you will miss out on the health benefits. I also like to add a tablespoon or so to smoothies for an extra health boost. Whole Foods has a great write up on flax seed for additional nutritional info: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81


#5) Any Sweetener thats better than White Sugar
image credit: google image search

So this last pantry staple is open to interpretation...lol! However, I think we can all agree that refined white sugar is not something we want to use often in our baking (or at all if we can help it!). It isn't great to the figure or high in health quality, so we need to brainstorm outside of the box. My favorite sweetener substitute is Powdered Maple Sugar or Maple Syrup. There are tons of options out there, but maple seems to be the best option for my kitchen. I love the taste it creates when baking, and have been known to use syrup in stir-fry sauce for a sweet and spicy mix. (Here's a good link to all the kinds of natural sweeteners out there: http://www.raw-living-food-success.com/natural-sweetener.html).   Maple syrup/sugar contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and other fantastic vitamins that make it light years better for you than regular sugar. So why not toss out that fairly terrible refined stuff, and opt for a healthy alternative??

Stay tuned to lear how some of the above listed ingredients help make these Pumpkin Pie Donuts :)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Po-Tah-To

"You say po-tay-to I say po-tah-to" Does anyone really say the latter in that song? If so leave me a comment because I don't think I've ever met a "po-tah-to" sayer, and I would like to expand my horizons. Speaking of expanding horizons, I have figured out a way to expand the french-fries horizon (a little bit).

Hello Extra-Large French-Fries!
 French-fries have been my one true weakness as long as I can remember. There was a period of time where they were the dessert to my meal. Every time the manfriend and I would go out to a restaurant the menu would immediately be scanned for some form of delicious fry. Some might say an intervention was needed (by some I mean family, close friends, manfriend.... coworkers, the wait staff at frequented restaurants, passerbys...). However, before this intervention could take place the unthinkable happened; I burnt myself out on french-fries! Has this ever happened to any of you? Where you love a food so much you eat it to the point of no return? <-If this has not happened to you, don't judge, one day it will, and I will be here with open arms to tell you "I told you so."

It has been years since this episode, and I'm happy to say I have made a recovery. I am able to eat french-fries once more without feeling like a sack of awful beaten with bad tastebuds. I don't worship them as I once did, alas the plans for the bronze statue are forever on hold, but I can enjoy them again as a normal person would. :)

With my ability to eat french-fries restored I set out on a healthy french-fry quest....and wah-lah! I have something I would like to share with you. It is insanely easy, and I foresee this being a wonderful side to any meal!

Extra Large French-Fries w/ Chipotle Mayo Dip
serves 6-8 
gluten free

French-Fry Ingredients:
4-5 larger gold yukon potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 dashes of cayenne

Chipotle Mayo Dip Ingredients:
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (any will do, I used rice this time)
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Cut up your potatoes into large "steak fry" sizes. I can only assume these won't be a side to steak, but that seems to be the going name for this size of french-fry. 


Next dump them in a large bowl, and pour the veggie broth over them and season them. Stir everything around so the potatoes are nice and covered. We are using this broth as a substitute to oil and deep fry. 

Once they look good place the potatoes into a baking pan. Be sure you spray the pan with non-stick first. Then cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes covered. After 20 minutes has gone by remove the cover and stir the potatoes around (keeping them in the oven, so be careful, no burns!). Then cook for 30-35 minutes more. Opening the oven to stir around occasionally. 

While your potatoes are baking up into healthier fries, lets get that dip ready. place all the ingredients (minus the oil) into your blender. Blend everything together till it is completely blended. Then put the blender speed on low, and slowly pour the oil into the mixture. Blend until it looks completely emulsified. Now you have a slightly healthier option to a sugary ketchup. (Could I say "blend" anymore in this paragraph?)

Remove the fries when baked all the way, and serve to your hungry friends. Or just to you, as that is what I did today...maybe I'm not completely cured of my addiction just yet...






Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vegan MoFo & My Battle With Exclamation Points

I have discovered that this month is National Vegan Month of Food (or as talked about in the social networking sphere Vegan MoFo). As a very new member to the blog world I did my due diligence and looked up this fairy tale sounding month, and low and behold it exists!! Slap my face and call me Charlie this is awesome. A whole month dedicated to vegan food blogging! I don't even know what to say, what to do, what to eat, read or type! <- I do know however, that I should apparently be using exclamation points like they are going out of style!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In honor of this fantastic month I thought I'd try to share a few extra recipes on this little blog of mine! <- Ack, there's another "!" sorry I can't stop them from appearing, I am apparently really excited about everything! <- And another! <- And another!! **Grammar intervention for your benefit, I promise to only use exclamation points when deemed necessary.**

Mocha Extra Large Cupcake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As you can see the exclamation point was well used in this instance. That right there my friends is a vegan, gluten-free Extra Large Chocolate Cupcake, covered with Mocha frosting, and drizzled with date caramel topping. This right here is why I wanted to start a blog, to prove vegan and gluten-free desserts can be magnificent. I heart this cake. This recipe works as a whole cake or as cupcakes, and either way you are going to be so happy you made it!

Vegan MoFo Cake!
makes 6 giant cupcakes or 12-14 cupcakes or a cake :)
gluten-free



Cake Ingredients: 
Dry:
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup corn starch (or potato starch)
1/3 cup cacao powder 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet: 
3-4 tablespoons warm coffee (can sub with warm water, but coffee will accentuate the chocolate flavor)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1&1/4 cup water
1/3 cup shredded zucchini
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

In a small bowl whisk together your ground flax seed and coffee. Set aside. 

In a large bowl mix together all your dry ingredients. Next in a separate bowl mix all your wet ingredients together (don't forget your fake egg flax seed mixture). Pour your wet ingredients into your dry, and stir everything together till you get a lovely chocolate cake batter. Once you have your cake batter all blended, ready whatever vessel you are opting to use for the baking and pour the batter in evenly. For regular sized cupcakes bake for 16-18 minutes, for extra large cupcakes bake for 24-26 minutes, and for a cake bake for 29-31 minutes. :)

Frosting Ingredients:
3&1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup earth balance (or other non-dairy butter)
1/2 cup coconut cream or coconut butter
1/4 cup cacao powder
1-2 teaspoons coffee

Yeah... so this recipe isn't know for its health properties, but one delicious vegan dessert isn't going to kill me right? In a mixer put the earth balance and coconut butter, and blend. Once they start to blend together add in your cacao powder followed by your powdered sugar. Put in the sugar one cup at a time so it doesn't turn into a giant sugar cloud all around you. Lastly add in your coffee making sure you don't add too much as you don't want to have the frosting too runny. (If you put too much in its nothing a little extra powdered sugar won't fix). Once its all mixed together place in the fridge while you wait for the cake to finish.

Caramel Drizzle Ingredients:
18-20 dates (pitted)
1/2 maple syrup
4-5 tablespoons of coconut oil
6-7 tablespoons of water
pinch of salt

So this last little bit is really just for fun, and if you feel like it. The cupcake or cake will take just as devine with or without. This caramel recipe is one I slightly altered from Good Veg. First you will need to soak the pitted dates for 3-4 hours. Then once they are finished soaking put the dates and all the other ingredients in your blender, and presto! Caramel sauce to drizzle as you please.

Thank you Vegan MoFo for inspiring me to eat more food :)