Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Perfect little Gingerbread Men

The holiday season is upon us, so I thought I'd kick it off with a few of my altime favorite "holiday" recipes. This first one is not a favorite, or even a like, of mine. Not because the recipe is bad, but just simply because I don't like gingerbread. My husband, on the other hand, loves them. So I whipped up a batch for the neighbors and him. I even made a vegan batch this year. Yay me! Not that it was hard since I only had to replace the egg. Sorry for fuzzy pics. My phone screen won't let me touch where the capture button is, and my regular camera has flash problems... Oh well, you get the idea

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup creamed vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses (I used blackstrap)
  • 1 med egg (or 1Tbs ground flax mixed with 3Tbs boiling water, let set 10 min)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 2/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
What you'll do:

  1. Mix together the shortening, sugar & molasses
  2. Add egg and beat completely
  3. Combine all dry ingredients and add to the creamed ingredients gradually until combined well
  4. Refridgerate till cold (about 1hr)
  5. Roll out 1/4" thick on lightly floured surface
  6. Cut out shapes
  7. Bake @ 350 for 10-12 min (10 worked well for me)

Optional: Decorate with a simple powdered sugar glaze. Mix 3 cups powdered sugar with 1/4 cup milk. Add the milk slowly and only until the frosting is thin enough to decorate with.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Perfect Whole Wheat Bread

This is the only bread recipe you will ever NEED. Maybe not want, but need. So delicious and simple. Keeps for about a week at room temp too! No eggs or milk needed. No need to add white flour, or deal with a loaf thats heavy and dense.

You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water 110* or just hot faucet water
  • 3 tbs honey or more (other sweeteners work)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2-3 tbs course ground flax seed
  • 3+ cups hard winter wheat berries (grind yourself in blender, use 3 1/2 cups of resulting flour) You must grind your wheat for this recipe. If you don't the flour needs drastically change depending on the brand/style of wheat flour you use.
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp active yeast
  • note: you can add other nuts/seeds or spices to change things up. We like to add raw sunflower seeds, millet, or whole flax. Or I add italian seasonings for spaghetti night.

  1. In your large bowl (or breadmaker) add hotwater and honey until dissolved.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top of water and let set 10-15min in a warm place until foamy.
  3. Stir and add oil and 1/2 cup of flour. Let set another 10min. Keep warm
  4. Finally add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. At this point I let the bread maker or mixer with dough hooks do the work. Make sure to set the bread machine on dough only. If you take that route, skip to 7.
  5. If you have the time to make it by hand, knead it well and then place in a bowl loosely covered for about an hour in a warm place.
  6. Punch down and let rise again for 50min.
  7. Pull out the dough and form into a loaf. Drop in a greased loaf pan and let rise for 40-45 min until it doubles in size.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350
  9. Bake the risen dough for about 40-45 min until the top browns and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on the top.
  10. Allow to cool 10 min, and remove from pan. Cool on a wire rack as long as you can keep people away from it.
  11. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Easy Vegan Whipped Topping

I had to make a vegan "Better than Sex Cake" for a dinner 2 weeks ago. My struggle was that our local healthfood store doesn't carry a vegan whipped topping except during the Holiday season. I was a bout a month too early. I only had a few days to prepare, so I couldn't order any. I searched and experimented and came across the best recipe I tried so far. It can go one of two ways, either it can  be ugly as mud, or have a creamy texture. Either way it tastes great, but it's up to you whethe you need appearance or can deal with the gritty sugar grains. It was delicious on the cake, and my husband also threw it on top of a friends apple pie to add some more sweetness to it.

You will need:

1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp corn starch (or other starch)
5 tbs vegan margarine
.42 Cups sugar (I had to convert from metric so just say little less than 1/2 cup.) side note: you can     use powdered sugar or honey ( I tried both) if you want a smooth texture, but I warn you it WILL be ugly.
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla sugar (you make this by putting a split vanilla bean in some sugar and letting it sit for a few days. If time is an issue, no worries, mine turned out fine without it)

To make it:
  1. Cream together butter and sugar for about 5 min? until really combined well. It will have the appearance of buttercream frosting at this point, which is basically what it is.
  2. Let that sit in the fridge while you heat the milk minus 2tbs in a small saucepan. Mix the corn starch in with the set aside milk and then stir that into the saucepan as well. This will (hopefully) help your milk to thicken up some.
  3. Bring milk to a boil and simmer until it thickens. Mine never really seemed to and got lumpy even though my cornstarch was well mixed in, so I just gave up with slightly thicker milk.
  4. Let the milk cool until room temp and then whip into the butter mix.
  5. Add vanilla and vanilla sugar.
  6. Server on top of whatever you desire.

It's pretty good, and in a pinch it works. I like that it's thick (when you use regular sugar) and keeps well, but I did double the recipe because it makes so very little.
I will also be testing out a coconut cream topping that looks more promising than this, but until then this should hold you :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Amazing Moist Banana Bread

I happened to just stumble on this recipe today (which i modified to be vegan and my kid friendly). It was the first one on the search results, and had rave reviews. Plus, it used more bananas than most recipes that I've tried. This was a plus, because I had 4 overripe bananas ready for making bread, and I didn't feel like making two batches, or having to freeze more bananas. (We already have quite a few). So I went ahead and whipped up a batch. Now I'm not allowed to taste it for a few more weeks (diet restrictions) But my ever willing husband was more than happy to be my guinea pig. First reaction was akin to something only seen in the bedroom ;) if you catch my drift. Followed by "Whoa! That is so good and moist!" After he calmed down I grilled him, "Is it sweet enough? Should it be sweeter? Would you guess there's not "sugar" in it? or that it's vegan?" All the aswers were no, except that it could Maybe use a few more dates. Maybe. So, if like me, you love your banana bread extra sugary, you may add more dates, or just use brown sugar. Or mabye sprinkle some sugar on top before baking. But otherwise, this recipe is delicious, healthy, and something you won't have to feel guilty about scarfing down... Unless of course you slather it in gobs of butter like I do.
You will need:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (all purpose works if you want less healthy)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 3/4 cups mashed dates (3/4 cup brown sugar will work if no dates)
  • 2 tsp ground flax
  • 6tsp boiling water
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (174 C) and lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt
  3. In a blender combine butter, dates, flax, and boiling water until well blended. (I found this the best way for my dates to be chopped well and needed the liquids from the other ingredients to make it work. Not sure if it will work as well if you don't have a Vitamix or other great blender. If you're worried, you can always just use the brown sugar and skip the blender.)
  4. Scoop date mixture into the mashed bananas and mix well with a spoon.
  5. Pour in flour mixture, and stir just until all of the flour is moist. DO NOT overstir!
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan
  7. Bake for 60-65 min until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let bread cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

This was the first slice, just before Jerrod devoured it in two bites. Yup, it was that good.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Lentil and Tomato Soup

This recipe was found out of necessity. I had run out of easy things to make for dinner and with the next trip to the grocery store several days away I turned to the staples of my cupboard, and searched for a recipe that would use only what I had. This one looked edible and though I lacked several of the ingredients I made it with what I had and it turned out pretty good. I'm assuming it would be much better with the things i didn't have. We'll see :)
You will need:
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh dill divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chile pepper
  • 1 (8oz ) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbs balsalmic vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery and galic; cook 10 min, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
  3. Add water, dried lentils, 1 tbs dill, bay leaves, chile, and tomato sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil;
  5. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  6. Stir in remaining 1 tbs dill, vinegar, salt and black pepper,;
  7. discard bay leaves and chile.
  8. Sprinkle with cheese.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Delicious Wheat Bran Muffins

I'm whipping up a batch of these delicious vegan muffins for our trip this weekend. It's a great way to make sure the kids are getting some healthy food while we're on the road and at the mercy of the camp cooks. JJ is pretty picky, so atleast I know he'll be getting something good for him in his tummy. And the great thing about these muffins is that you can store all or part of the batter in the fridge for 2-4 weeks! That means fresh muffins anytime you feel like making them. No need to make all 2 dozen at once and have to eat them before they go bad. :) I like to mix in different things to several "batches" we add, fresh apples and cinnamin, blueberries, or carob chips. You could even make a struessel topping or add chocolate chips or use bananas instead of the flax and water. Just a great recipe for moist delicious (healthy) muffins.
I also enjoy topping these babies with some carob/date/peanutbutter frosting... but that's a recipe for another day

You will need:
  • 3 cups Unprocessed Wheat Bran
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2tbs blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs ground flax seed mixed with 6tbs of the boiling water above
  • 2 cups soymilk with 2tbs lemon juice mixed in
You will want several small and medium bowls for this recipe.

1. Mix 1 cup of the wheat bran with 1 cup of the boiling water and let it set
2. In a separate bowl blend margarine, honey and molasses until completely mixed
3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl.
4. Combine the soaked bran with the flax & water mixture then add the remaining 2 cups of bran.
5. Combine all of the mixtures all together in a large bowl
6. Stir until well blended.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 min or until browned

Store extra batter in an airtight container for 2-4 weeks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vegan Meatless Meatballs

I will include the just vegetarian recipe as well, but these actually taste more like meat when I made them vegan. Who knew! They are undoubtedly the best meatballs I've ever had. Could be that the sauce is awesome or that they just have a perfect texture and make you want to eat the whole batch before they cool. Anyway, these are a must try. If they are not the Best Vegan Meatballs in the world, tell me and I will retract my statement.
Not only are these delicious straight out of the oven, they keep well in the fridge/freezer and are just as good cold (not frozen though).

To make the meatballs:
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers, crumbled (I assume any plain crackers would work as well)
  • 4 vegan eggs (4tbs ground flax + 16tbs boiling water) (for just vegetarian use 4 eggs)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (literally food process them into as much of a liquid as possible) 
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 8 vegan grillers thawed and food processed. any plain burger will work (Or 1 bag vegetarian burger crumbles (thawed and chopped a bit finer)
  • 6tsp Garlic Salt
  • ½ cup grated vegan cheese. (I used Daiya shreds mozzerella style and it was good) (cheddar or mozzarella works best if going just vegetarian)
  • 6-8 tsp. liquid smoke

  1. Mix in a large bowl in any order you wish (I suggest starting with the dry stuff and working to the wet, since much of the ingredients are chopped in the food processor)
  2. Form into balls; bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until brown.
  3.  Let cool and pour the sauce over top!

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped and sautéed in the margarine
  • 5-7 tsp. liquid smoke

Mix and pour over balls.
(TIP: I like it spicy, so I like to add lots of red pepper or cayenne)

A few tips: You can sub for healthier alternatives on the sauce. I will be trying honey, or dates instead of sugar, and probably olive oil would be ok to use instead of margarine. And i'm sure you could make your own Ketchup to use. This is just the original recipe with my vegan substitutions.

Fresh made Tortillas

YES Please! These are pretty yummy. I will include both recipes since I made them both, and they are really good either way you make them. Both are simple, and which recipe you choose probably depends on what you have on hand.

 You will need:


3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water


  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup very warm tap water

    1. Combine all dry ingredients
    2. Work in shotening or oil (tip: I cheated and used my mixer so that it would be even and my hands wouldn't be all gooey) the origional recipe says to use your hands.
    3. Add water a little at a time, until the dough is able to form a ball. (Since I used unbleached flour for the second one, and a mixture of whole grain flours for the first recipe, I had to add a little more water because those flours are more absorbant. Just add as much as you need but not enough to make it stickey or soggy)
    4. Form a large ball
    5. Divide into smaller balls (the recipe calls for 2" balls, but that makes some tiny tortillas...)
    6. Let the dough set for about 20 min if using the second recipe, but be sure to cover them with some plastic wrap. (I suggest covering either recipe so the dough stays moist)
    7. Mush the dough and roll flat and thin. If you want pretty edges, trim off edges with a knife and they will look more appealing.
    8. Cook over medium heat on a flat griddle or pan only until you see brown specks, about 20-30 seconds on each side. Do not overcook, or they will be dry.
    9. Remove from pan and stack on a plate with a slightly damp rag over top to keep them moist.
    10. Enjoy! These are great for Quesadillas

    Delicious Vegan Burgers

    I caught this recipe on a facebook post from the local healthfood store. I was hesitant to try it, since it takes so many ingredients. But thankfully I had all of them on hand, so I did it. I'm sooo glad I tried them, they are awesome! Plus they make 8 HUGE burgers. Trust me ONE is enough for each person, especially when paired with my home made wheat buns. It's worth the work, and they keep well in the fridge for a few days. Plus you get so many good things in the burgers... And they're VEGAN!  Yield: 8 burgers


    You will need:


    • 1/2 cup onion, diced
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • Flax "eggs": 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
    • 1 cup oats, processed into flour* (other flours might work)
    • 1.5 cups bread crumbs (I processed 3 pieces of Alvarado bread until fine crumb)*
    • 1 cup grated carrots
    • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and roughly pureed or mashed 
    • Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (or fresh herb of choice) Cilantro is yummy too
    • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped1/2 cup sunflower seeds, (toasted if preferred)
    • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 tbsp Tamari (soy sauce)
    • 1.5 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp kosher salt)



    1. Preheat oven to 350F (if baking). In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in 1/2 tbsp oil. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


    2. Place all ingredients (except spices and salt) into a large mixing bowl and stir very well. Now, add seasonings and salt to taste.


    3. With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties. Pack dough tightly as this will help it stick together. I made 8 medium patties.


    4. Cooking methods: You can fry the burgers in a bit of oil on a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. If baking in the oven, bake for 25-30 mins (15-17 minutes on each side) at 350F, until golden and crisp. For the BBQ, pre-bake the burgers for about 15 minutes in oven before placing on a pre-heated grill until golden and crisp on each side. Our preferred method of cooking was the George Foreman Grill.

    GF Note: To make these burgers gluten-free, use certified GF oats, GF Tamari, and gluten-free breadcrumbs.

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Raw Pumpkin seed "cheese"

    This recipe is pretty rawesome! It is pretty hard to make without a good blender. I first made it with my cheap blender and had to add lots of extra liquid and it was more of a hummus texture. Still good, but not anything like the recipe should be. It is more like a cream cheese texture when made the right way, and is delicious on a whole wheat or seed bread, probably even a bagel or crackers.

    You will need:
    • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
    • 1 bunch parsley
    • 1 tbs garlic
    • 1 tbs minced ginger root
    • 1 tbs minced jalepeno
    • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

    How to make it:

    1. In a container filled with water, soak the pumpkin seeds for atleast 15 min. More if you have time to.
    2. Drain the seeds and put them in a food processor or blender with all ingredients
    3. Blend until creamy.

    *in my Vitamix I had to use the tamper and had to let the machine rest for a few seconds here and there after the mixture got mostly blended. Be careful not to let it blend so long that the cheese starts to cook. Sometimes mixing it with a spatula helps to get all of the seeds mixed in quicker.


    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Cinnamon Rolls

    Super delicious Wheat Cinnamon Rolls!
    You will need:
    • Lots of sugar
    • 3/4 cup shortening (I used extra virgin coconut oil)
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 pkg dry yeast
    • 1 egg slightly beaten (egg sub works fine)
    • 5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 3/4 cup earth balance "butter" softenend
    • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
    • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
    • 2 cups powdered sugar ( I would double this if you love frosting, it doesn't make much)
    • 3 tbs hot soymilk or water


    1. In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar, shortening and salt in 2 cups hot water. Cool to lukewarm.
    2. Dissolve yeast and 1 tbs sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water.
    3. Add liquid to ingredients with egg.
    4. Stir in flour 2 cups at a time, mixing well after each addition.
    5. Let rise loosely covered for 1 1/2 hours.
    6. Roll 1/4" thick on a floured surface. Make a long rectangle shape
    7. Spread butter over the dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, raisins, & nuts.
    8. Roll as for a jelly roll
    9. cut into 1" slices
    10. Place 1" appart on greased baking pan and let rise for 20 min.
    11. Bake 400 degrees for 20 mins.
    12. Meanwhile mix powdered sugar and milk to make a frosting Then Drizzel over the hot rolls

    Makes 21 servings.

    Approximately 366 calories per serving

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Whole Wheat Pita Bread

    You will need:

    • 1 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/3 cup gluten*
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast


    1. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Add the gluten and 1 cup of the flour, along with the yeast, and stir to mix. Add remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. (Add additional flour if necessary during kneading.)Alternately, if you have a bread machine, you can put the ingredients in the pan in the order listed and use the dough cycle. Skip to step 3 if using your bread machine! :)
    2. Put your dough into a bowl, lightly oil the top, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise, until almost double (about an hour). I like to turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off, and let the dough rise in there, since our house is cool.
    3. Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 6- or 7-inch circle.
    4. As you roll the rounds, set them aside on a lightly floured countertop or table, and cover loosely with a towel. Let rise for about 25-35 minutes, until slightly puffy. (The rounds will still be thin though! :D)
    5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place 2 rounds, side-by-side, onto a wire rack, such as is used for cooling things. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until puffy and just slightly browned. (If bread is too browned, it will be dry and not pliable.)
    6. Remove rack from oven and immediately wrap/layer pita breads in a damp towel, to soften. Continue baking the remaining breads, layering them between damp towels as soon as they're baked. Allow breads to completely cool.
    7. Cut pita breads in half, or split the top edge, and fill as desired.
    8. Store pitas in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge for a few days, or place in the freezer for longer storage. To re-warm pitas, wrap them in a damp towel and then wrap in foil. Place in a warm (200-250 degree) oven for about 20 minutes.

    Baba Ghanoush

    I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. My first and only introduction to Baba Ghanoush was a t the pita pit (http://www.pitapit.com/) The best pita place ever! Anyway. It was so delicious I determined that one day I would make it at home... and a year later I am doing it! Hopefully this recipe doesn't dissappoint. I'm also making some home made whole wheat pitas to go with it. Mmmm

    You will need:

    • 2 1 pound eggplants
    • 1/2 cup tahini
    • 2 mashed garlic cloves
    • juice of 1 medium lemon
    • 1/2 cumin
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil $Click to see savings
    • 1/8 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper

    1. Set broiler on high.
    2. Prick 2 1-lb. eggplants all over with a fork and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
    3. Broil until softened and starting to blacken, 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
    4. When eggplants are cool enough to handle, slice in half lengthwise and scoop innards into bowl of a food processor.
    5. Add 1/2 cup tahini, 2 mashed garlic cloves, juice of 1 medium lemon, 1/2 tsp. cumin, salt and pepper. Process until mixture reaches desired consistency.
    6. Place in a serving bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh parsley. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil, then sprinkle 1/8 tsp. paprika or cayenne pepper on top, if desired. Serve immediately or cover and chill to serve later.