Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yes, you read the title right. And yes, this blog is about edible vegan fare created in my kitchen. But this deodorant is made with all vegan, edible ingredients, and it's made right in my kitchen, so it deserves a spot in Resolution Kitchen just as much as the chocolate chip cookies and spinach chick pea stew do. I've been making this deodorant for years, and it's never failed me. It works just as well, if not better, than traditional deodorants, but without the aluminum, titanium dioxide and other undesirable ingredients.

There are only four ingredients. Baking soda acts as a deodorizer. I go through a lot of baking soda. In addition to deodorant, I use it as a cleaning agent to clean sinks and countertops. There's always an open box in the fridge, and a sprinkling of it in garbage cans and diaper pails. Cornstarch is used as an antiperspirant. The two powders are held together with coconut oil. I use an organic refined oil since I use it for cooking also, but unrefined would work just as well. The last ingredient just makes it smell nice. You can use just about any essential oil. I like to use tea tree oil (for the antibacterial properties) and lavender (just because it smells nice). These two oils aren't edible, so if you're interested in making the deodorant truly edible, orange, grapefruit, lemon, peppermint and lemongrass are edible oils that will make your pits smell good, too. Not that I recommend eating this even if it is edible. I absentmindedly licked my finger while making this and almost chocked. It definitely doesn't taste as good as it smells!

To make the deodorant, mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil and mix well. Since the coconut oil is on the solid side, you'll need to "press" all the ingredients together, almost like you're grinding something with a mortar and pestle. Add another teaspoon or so of oil if needed to make the mixture the consistency of deodorant. Add about 20 drops of essential oil and mix again. Transfer to a recycled container with a lid.

It should look like this when you're done.
A little bit of this stuff goes a long way, use sparingly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Burger Buns

As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew and I are attempting to put our grocery shopping on hold for a couple weeks to "detox" our pantry and use food that might go to waste if not used soon. So when I decided to make home made veggie burgers for dinner last night, I had to make my own buns as well. I googled a recipe for vegan buns, and found a very simple one on These buns are by far the best bread product I ever made, and they were very simple. Surprisingly I had everything I needed to make these already in the panty, even the sesame seeds. I'm not sure what I originally bought the seeds for, but I'm glad I did. I'll never buy a store bought bun again!

Whole Wheat Burger Buns
Makes 6 buns

  • 1/2 cup room temperature almond milk
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 of a .25 oz packet of active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. almond milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • Sesame seeds

  1. In a large bowl combine the warm milk, warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for a few minutes until bubbles appear on the surface.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in another bowl.
  3. Add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time to the large bowl, mixing until the dough comes together and separates from the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft and not sticky, but not dry either.
  4. Knead the dough until elastic and place in a lightly oiled bowl.
  5. Cover and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about one hour.
  6. Punch down the dough and form 6 buns.
  7. Knead each bun, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Let them rest for 5 minutes, then flatten slightly with your hand.
  9. Cover with a dish towel and let them rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 400º.
  11. In a small cup, mix the milk and water, and brush over buns.
  12. Sprinkle with seeds.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes, until just starting to brown.
  14. Enjoy with curried quinoa veggie burgers.

The buns before and after doubling in size (steps 7 and 9).

I made another tasty treat yesterday, also- dehydrated watermelon slices! It's not exactly watermelon season, but I couldn't help picking one up at the produce market last week. They took forever to dehydrate. The thinner slices were ready in about 8 hours, the thicker ones took about 14. I suck at cutting even slices. I added coconut shreds on the top of some of them for added sweetness, not that watermelon needs to be any sweeter. I can't wait for spring and summer to roll around so I can dehydrate more fruits! The dehydrated pieces can be stored in an airtight glass container or zip lock bag.

Curried Quinoa Veggie Burgers

I plucked a recipe for sweet potato black bean burgers from Big Girls Small Kitchen. I was excited to try this one since I love veggie burgers. A couple vegan recipes I've tried from their website have all worked out great, but this one was a disaster. The mixture was extremely mushy and did not hold together at all. I thought I was going to have to scrap the whole thing. Since I was home alone with my rambunctious toddler, making a whole other meal was out of the question. Thankfully I was able to doctor the original recipe up a bit, and by "a bit" I mean A LOT. After I made this I read the reviews (which I should have done first) and I saw that I'm not the only one to have mushy burgers, so I know it wasn't just me.

I made quinoa for a side dish, but decided to add it to the veggie burger mix, along with a 1/4 cup of flour to thicken it up. The taste was a little bland also. I skipped the coriander since I didn't have any, and added curry powder in its place, which also abated my craving for Indian food. This seemed to do the trick. The mixture was still mushy, but it did form together into loose patties. They held together well once they hit the frying pan, but not so much when they were on the bun. It was more like eating a sloppy joe, and I needed a fork.

I used the leftover mixture to make burgers the next day for lunch. They held together much better since the mixture was cold. Next time I make these I'll chill the mixture in the fridge before making into patties. If you decide to make them I would suggest adding more spices. I made them on the mild tasting side since I don't think that Logan would appreciate the kick of curry powder like I do.

Curried Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Makes 6 small burgers

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Tbsp. safflower oil (olive oil would work too)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  1. Simmer the quinoa and water in a pot until cooked. About 10 minutes.
  2. Boil the potato cubes in a pot of water until soft. About 10 minutes.
  3. Saute the onions and oil in a skillet until the onions begin to soften.
  4. Add the spices and beans to the onions, and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. In a blender, combine the potatoes and quinoa.
  6. Add 2/3 of the bean mixture and blend until just combined.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the bean mixture.
  8. Chill in the fridge for one hour.
  9. Form mixture into patties and fry in the skillet used for the bean mixture. 
  10. Enjoy between home made buns and serve with home made ketchup.

Vanilla Extract

A couple recipes I posted, and ones that I plan on posting in the future, call for vanilla extract. Ever since I started helping my mom bake, I loved to take deep breaths with my nose over the vanilla bottle. Over the years I became a vanilla connoisseur of sorts, seeking out gourmet bottles. These can be a bit pricey, so I was excited to see an article in Martha Stewart Living about making your own. It never even occurred to me to make home made vanilla extract until then.

This recipe is pure vanilla extract. There are no additives like corn syrup, and it contains REAL vanilla, not the flavor compound (aka chemicals- yuck) vanillin. Making home made extract was so simple, using just two ingredients- vodka and vanilla beans. I hated having to wait two months for it to be ready though, so I make sure I always have an extra bottle stashed in the cabinet.

Vodka is the easy part, it's getting the vanilla pods that was somewhat of a hassle. Whole Foods sells vanilla pods, but just two pods will set you back $15. I'm not a big fan of online shopping, but I took Martha's advice and bought beans from Beanilla. I was pleased to see that they carried bourbon vanilla beans at a very reasonable price. Ten beans are only $8.99, a steal. I bought these, used vodka I had in the pantry (no shocker there), and pretty glass bottles from Michael's craft store.

Home Made Vanilla Extract
Makes 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup plain vodka
  • 1 vanilla bean
  1. Using a knife with a sharp tip, make a vertical slice down the vanilla bean, exposing the seeds.
  2. Gently scrape the inside of the bean to slightly loosen the seeds.
  3. Put the whole bean in a small glass container, and add the vodka.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 8 weeks.
To the right is a sliced vanilla bean with the seeds exposed. Not the most clear picture, but it gives you an idea of what the cut looks like.

After two months the color will look like this. The beans look cut in half, but thats because I reused them for a second batch by adding another 1/2 cup of vodka once I ran out. I took out the pods and scraped out more seeds for this batch, which was just as flavorful as the first one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries with Home Made Ketchup

As of yesterday, Andrew and I challenged ourselves to 2 weeks of no grocery shopping. Our fridge, freezer and food pantry are filled with... well we don't know exactly what's in there. This is our time to get creative and use what would normally have gone to waste. It's like a detox for our cabinets. The exception to this hiatus is fresh produce, which we buy on an as needed basis.

I'm not sure how or why we accumulated so many sweet potatoes, but I decided to use them for lunch today. Tired of the same old baked potato, I got to work on sweet potato fries. Then I realized we didn't have ketchup. Andrew is a ketchup fiend, and fries without ketchup is like cookies without milk to him. Using the app on my iPhone, I searched ketchup recipes. I couldn't find one that I had all the ingredients for, so after gathering an idea of what's supposed to be in ketchup, I put together my own. Wow. I'm normally not a fan of the viscous red condiment that's full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes, but this was amazing! It had a smooth texture and a spiced, almost smokey taste. I didn't have molasses, so I used organic brown rice syrup from Whole Foods. To compensate for the lack of sweetness I added a little extra brown sugar. The only thing Andrew (the ketchup expert, apparently) had to say about it was that it was too sweet. So next time I'll cut back on the brown sugar. Sorry Heinz, but I'm never going back to store bought again!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4 as a side

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
  • 3 Tbsp. safflower oil
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until fries are crispy.
  4. Serve warm.

Home Made Ketchup
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. brown rice syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. safflower oil
  • A pinch each of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cups of water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until you reach the consistency of ketchup.
Logan's a fan!

Supermarket Showdown

Skimming through the circulars in the Sunday paper, I came across a coupon for organic gala apples for $0.99. Ninety nine cents! We go through a lot of apples in this house. Logan and I have oatmeal with apple puree in it almost every morning, I substitute eggs with apple puree while baking, and Andrew eats them constantly. I ripped out the coupon and headed to Shop Rite the next morning. The section containing the organic apples was pretty small, but I was determined to get them all. I started filling up my basket when a woman approached, who evidently had the same idea. I planned on sharing, until she subliminally bumped me with her cart to nudge me out of the way. Bring it on lady. I scooped up the rest as fast as I could as she did the same. I didn't even bother to put them in one of the plastic bags I brought from home. (Yes, I'm one of those nuts who reuses the produce bag). After giving her my most apathetic expression, I checked out with over 10 lbs. of delicious organic galas, and she walked away with maybe 2 lbs.

I'm getting way off the topic of Resolution Kitchen. Anyways, the point of talking about this shopping excursion is to show how convenient apples are in vegan baking. It's easiest to have pureed apples on hand before you start baking to save yourself some time. I pureed nearly every one of these apples and froze them for long term storage.

To start, wash and core the apples. Steam them in a large pot equipped with a steamer. If you don't have a steamer you can boil them, but produce loses more nutrients that way. Once they're soft and easily pierced with a fork, puree them in a blender, adding a little bit of water to thin them slightly. Freeze in BPA free ice cube trays. Each ice cube section holds about 1/8 cup of puree, which is equal to half an egg when they're used in baking. For each egg called for in a recipe, just pop two cubes into a dish and let defrost before adding to your recipe. And don't throw that cooking water out! After steaming or boiling the water is left with a subtle apple flavor. Once it cools down I pour it in a sippy cup for Logan, or a "big kid cup" for myself.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Swamp Soup

This soup tastes a lot better than it looks, I promise. I found it on a website listing it as a detox soup. I don't know how detoxifying it was, but it was very simple to make, tasted good, and is very healthy. You'll only be able to stomach this if you like cilantro. I absolutely love the stuff, and I put it in everything from quinoa to homemade tomato sauce. When my dad announced he didn't like it and thought it tasted like dirt, I was shocked. Not only because I've never heard him say he didn't like anything, but because who doesn't like cilantro? I just recently came across an article listing the 10 most polarizing foods,with cilantro topping the list. Apparently dad isn't the only cilantro hater. So if you're like my dad, steer clear of this recipe. If you are a fan of the leafy weed and are looking for a quick and healthy way to warm up this winter, go for it.

The ingredients are few and basic. Once you scoop the solids out of the pot and into the blender, the leftover broth can be saved, and reused later. Every time I steam veggies, I save the liquid left over underneath the steamer and freeze it in a large, glass container. I add vegetable scraps to it to, like the ends of carrot sticks and the skin from squash. When the container is full I throw in some fresh herbs like basil and thyme and put it back in the freezer. This is all used later as a vegetable stock. It tastes different each time so it adds an unpredictable variety to my cooking. The taste can always be adjusted when it's being thawed to your liking with other herbs and spices. Best of all, this helps me keep a New Year's resolution I made about reducing food waste. 

Swamp Soup
Makes about 3 servings

  • 1 quart veggie stock
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (leaves only)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the swiss chard stalks and simmer covered for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the swiss chard leaves, zucchini and salt and simmer covered for 4 minutes. 
  4. Add the cilantro, lemon and cayenne, and cook for another minute.
  5. Remove the solid veggies from the pot and into a blender with a slotted spoon.
  6. Blend until everything is thoroughly mixed, and enjoy right away.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blueberry Cocoa Smoothie

I wish I could remember where this recipe came from so I could give credit. I took a snapshot of it with my phone awhile ago, but didn't record what website it came from. It's simple and relatively healthy, and I already had everything for it in my kitchen. I love when that happens. The original recipe listed Medjool dates, for sweetness I assume. I don't have those, so I used pure maple syrup instead.

After blending, I couldn't believe how delicious it smelled. Right away I could smell the co-dominant scents of the blueberries and chocolate. That combination never occurred to me, but I sense chocolate covered blueberries in my future. Or maybe chocolate blueberry muffins or scones. I was very surprised when I took the first sip. Initially I thought I didn't like it, but then I realized I was just in sensory overload. I could taste every ingredient in each sip- the tart blueberries, the bitter chocolate, the sweet syrup, the nutty almond milk, the smooth vanilla. Yum!

Blueberry Cocoa Smoothie
Serves 2

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
  2. Divide between 2 cups and drink immediately.

Don't forget a coaster! I made this one last night using a tutorial I found on Earth911. It took awhile to get the hang of it, but overall it was pretty simple. The instructions say to use 16 strips to create an 8 x 8 pattern. In order to be able to tuck in the ends once all the strips were woven together, I had to leave out a strip. So I had 8 strips going one way, and 7 going another.

I can't wait to make more of these. I'm such a dork.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bloody Nikki

This nutrient rich juice recipe was given to me by my friend Nikki, who is a big fan of detox juices like this. I haven't experienced any detox effects from drinking this, but I continue to make it because it makes a nutritious, filling breakfast. It has three simple ingredients. Beets give this juice it's "bloody" color. Eaten raw, beets are an excellent source of folate, so eat up preggos. They also contain high amounts of Vitamin C, potassium and other minerals. This root is also a source of glycine betaine, which lowers homocysteine levels in the blood, thus lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Celery provides Vitamin C and fiber. It also contains a phytochemical called coumarin, which lowers blood pressure and increases the activity of white blood cells. Cucumbers are high in calcium and unique antioxidants that play a role in aging. These are just some of the benefits to these foods, and since they are consumed raw, you will be achieving their maximum benefits. As usual, organic is best, so skip the pesticides if your budget allows it!

Bloody Nikki
Makes 2 one cup servings

  • 2 beets, greens removed
  • 2 whole cucumbers
  • 6 celery stalks
  1. Wash the produce thoroughly and process through a juicer.
  2. Drink immediately

Andrew added two carrots once, which made it very sweet. If you're not a fan of beets (the dominant flavor of the juice), the carrots lessen the taste.

Veggie Stoup

Stew + Soup = Stoup

I found a recipe online for a veggie stew. I changed some ingredients and cooking methods, and the result was.. interesting. It had the heartiness of a stew due to the chunky vegetables, with a liquid consistency of a soup broth. I guess you could omit the water for a thicker consistency, and rely on the tomatoes and wine for liquid. I'll try that next time and post my results.

I was looking for an excuse to use the Slice O Matic I got for Christmas, so I sliced the potatoes. Slicing and chopping veggies is my least favorite part of cooking, so the Slice O Matic and the Vidalia Chopper are my best friends in the kitchen. Anyways, slicing the potatoes was NOT the best idea. It made the dish awkward to eat with a spoon, and Logan was having trouble picking them up with his chubby hands. I'll definitely be cutting them into cubes next time.

Recipes like this are great because you can add almost any vegetable (or beans) you have on hand, and you can season it to taste with just about any spice. Plus, it calls for wine. I love cooking with wine. It adds an umani quality to the dish, and who doesn't like a glass of vino while preparing dinner?

Veggie Stoup
Serves 4-6
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 small potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups of brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 5 or 6 stalks of asparagus, sliced into one inch segments

  1. In a large pot, sauté oil and onion and garlic over a medium flame for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes and brussels and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat slightly and add the wine.
  4. When the wine has reduced slightly, add the water, tomatoes and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer over a low flame for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the asparagus, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
  7. Serve warm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Honey Lime Sauce

I just made the tastiest dish. It was my own creation, so I better write it down before I forget. This might be the first dish I ever created using just my imagination and the ingredients already in the kitchen.

Quinoa Salad with Honey Lime Sauce
Serves about 4

Quinoa Salad:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 acorn squash; seeded, skin removed, and diced
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans; drained and rinsed
Honey Lime Sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey*
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Combine oil and squash in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine the quinoa with the water in a covered pot and cook for about 18 minutes.
  5. When the squash and quinoa are done, combine in a bowl with the black beans.
  6. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  7. Serve the salad and drizzle with the sauce.
This recipe for the sauce only makes a small amount, but a little goes a long way. You can always double the recipe if you don't think you have enough. I hope you enjoy my creation!

*There is some debate over whether honey should be considered vegan. I agree that technically it is an animal product. The honey I use comes from a neighbor, who I know treats her bees very humanely and harvests the honey sustainably. So yes it is an animal product, but I don't feel bad using it. Especially since it works wonders on my allergies!

Winter Butternut Soup

When Lewin Farms in Wading River closed the day before Thanksgiving, I stocked up on winter squash. I ended up with more butternut squash than I knew what to do with. I looked up some recipes and found a bunch of soups. There was no one soup in particular that jumped out at me, so I took inspiration from a few different ones. A few ingredient substitutions and cooking methods later, I turned out a rich, creamy, delicious soup. The ingredients are very basic, just veggies, broth and oil. The potato and squash puree so smoothly that heavy cream isn't necessary to make the soup rich. I made it again recently. It was the perfect meal for the frigid January weather we've been having and there
was plenty of leftovers for the next couple days.

Winter Butternut Soup
Serves about 6

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 leeks, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
  • One onion, chopped
  • One sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • One apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 quart of vegetable broth
  1. Saute the leeks in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
  4. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.
  5. Transfer in batches to a blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm.
Logan feeding himself a serving of his favorite soup.

Vegan S'mores Cupcakes

My Sunday nights have been reserved from September through May for the past few years. It's when I get together with the Vaiana-Cavanaghs to watch Desperate Housewives, talk to each other about our week, and eat all sorts of junk food. My obsession with the show started one night when I went to the VC's house to catch up with Anna, one of my best friends since high school. Her sister Adriana got season 1 of Desperate Housewives on dvd for Christmas. We put on the pilot episode since Adriana kept raving about it, and our eyes were glued to the tv for the next five hours. We quickly caught up to the episodes that were airing on tv, and began our Sunday night ritual. By that time Anna's other sister Debrhea and her parents were just as obsessed with the show as we were.

Lately it's just been Adriana and I watching. Anna passed away in 2008, Deb moved out of state, and Mama and Papa VC's interest in the show waned. Adriana and I still honor Sunday nights with the show, Anna's memory, and our love for sweets. This Sunday I made s'mores cupcakes for the event. I've made the dessert once before in cake form for Logan's first birthday.

The recipe for the vegan batter came from, a great site for browsing. The s'mores version is my own, proud creation though. It starts by packing a graham cracker crust into the cupcake tins, topping with batter, and toasting the marshmallows on top once the cupcakes have baked. Once the marshmallows are toasted on top they have to be eaten right away. The cupcakes can be made in advance, adding the marshmallows later right before serving. 

S'mores Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Graham cracker crust:
  • 4 whole graham crackers, crushed.
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 marshmallows*
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Crush crackers and mix with oil. Add more oil if still too dry. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix until smooth.
  5. Press cracker mixture into a greased cupcake tin.
  6. Spoon batter gently on top of the crumbs.

      7. Bake for 15 minutes.
      8. Using a knife, scrape around the sides of each cupcake and remove from the tin. Bake for 3 more                     minutes if they're not coming out easily.
      9. Place cupcakes on a baking sheet, and place a marshmallow on top of each, securing with a toothpick.

       10. Turn the oven up to 500º and place the cupcakes back in the oven, until they're golden brown and starting to melt.
       11. Serve immediately.

*To make these vegan in every sense of the word you would have to use gelatin free marshmallows, since gelatin is made from the collagen inside animal skins and bones. Eww. You would also need a substitute for white sugar that doesn't use bone char filters. I used regular marshmallows (while trying not to think about the origins of gelatin) and white sugar, so some people wouldn't consider them vegan.

As I mentioned before, this can also be made in cake form. Just double the recipe and bake for 30 minutes in two 9" round pans. Once baked, stack the two cakes together on a baking sheet and fill the middle with the cracker crumbs. Top with marshmallows and place in the oven until they're toasted. Logan couldn't get enough of this cake on his birthday. It was the first time he ever ate marshmallows, and it's no surprise that he loved them!

For Logan's Eric Carle themed birthday party I tripled the batter recipe to shape The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Even the frosting was vegan. My cake decorating skills aren't the greatest, but I really impressed myself with this one!

Vegan "Buttercream" Frosting
Makes about 3 cups
  • 1 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups of confectioner's sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  1. Creme shortening and vanilla with an electric mixer.
  2. Add sugar one cup at a time, beating well between each cup.
  3. Thin the  mixture with water if necessary, and blend until smooth.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This recipe is always a hit. It's been in my cookbook for so long that I can't remember where it came from. You can make other varieties by substituting the roasted red peppers with other ingredients. I've made hummus with sun dried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil) and green olives. If you're using an ingredient that already has a lot of salt in it (like the olives), just omit the salt from the recipe. Hummus is great eaten with pita bread, carrot sticks and celery. It also makes a great spread for sandwiches. It's very easy to make, and should only take about 10 minutes from start to finish. Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. of tahini
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 15 oz. can of chick peas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
Blend garlic, salt, tahini and lemon juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed.
Add the chick peas and oil and blend until smooth.
Add the peppers and blend once more until incorporated.
Transfer to a bowl and garnish with a couple strips of peppers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mom's Veggie Stew

I can't take credit for this one since I've never made it myself, but my mom has on several occasions. Last night being the most recent. For years now the family has been gathering for dinner almost every Friday night. Mom usually does the cooking for my dad, three brothers, Grandpa, Uncle Mark and cousin Liam. It's always a vegetarian dish since Grandpa is a vegetarian, and has been since he boycotted the meat market in the 70's. This particular Friday night she made a vegan dish to accommodate Logan, and to support my dietary changes. She's always been a very obliging chef, especially during my vegetarian phase that lasted three years.

This vegetable stew recipe came from a cook book that my mom has had since the 70's. It's called Vegetarian Gothic, and is full of meat free recipes and sayings about peace, love and all that other cliche hippie stuff.

It's been so used that the cover is missing, it's torn into two sections, and the pages are splotched with mystery food stains, but it's still a great cook book. The page displaying the veggie stew recipe is discolored and so with so many stains, adding even more character to the book.

Like me, mom never follows recipes exactly. She used oil instead of butter to make it vegan. The rosemary was omitted. I'm all for rosemary, but there's a time and a place for everything, and that herb does not have a place in this stew. Tamari was replaced with soy sauce, it's less viscous and more salty cousin. The dish came out perfect. It was thick, hearty and had a creamy texture. I can't think of a better meal for a chilly, windy night. This will definitely be made again in my own kitchen. I borrowed the cook book, so you can look forward to other recipe inspirations from it. So for our sisters and brothers, we wish you much joy (with this recipe).

Mom's Veggie Stew
Serves 12

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 cups water
Saute the onions and green pepper in oil in a large dutch oven until tender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cover.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until everything is tender.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Home Made Ginger Ale

Another great recipe I found on Big Girls Small Kitchen. I love ginger ale, but I'm not a fan of the ingredients in store brought brands, like high fructose corn syrup. Most of the store bought brands don't even contain real ginger! You're not even getting the benefits of ginger's anti-inflammatory properties and nausea reducing qualities, as well as the other numerous health plusses of the root. As I have an affinity for everything home made, I bought some ginger and made my own. It was incredibly easy and didn't require any special equipment. It tasted more like ginger beer, not necessarily a bad thing. I'm not sure what the thyme added to it, but it made it look nice. I guess you don't really need it. After making the syrup, we mixed it with club soda made with the SodaStream Genesis Soda Maker. That machine is great. It turns water to soda in seconds, and it is much more environmentally friendly than buying bottled soda. Store bought club soda would work just as well with this recipe though.

Home Made Ginger Ale
Makes 4 glasses
  • 1/2 cup peeled, sliced ginger
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 liter of club Soda

Combine the ginger, thyme, sugar and water in a small saucepan.
Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Pour the syrup in 4 glasses over ice.
Fill the rest of the glass with club soda to your taste.

The thing I love most about ginger ale is how well it mixes with rum to make a Dark and Stormy. My Uncle Mark turned me on to the drink when I was visiting him in the Virgin Islands. Every time I drink it   I feel like I'm back in Cinnamon Bay on St. John, even in this frigid January weather. I usually mix the ginger ale with Cruzan Aged Rum, a rum produced on the island of St. Croix. It's pretty hard to find around here (another excuse to take a trip to the USVI), so I used Black Seal Black Rum that Andrew's mom brought us back from her last cruise. It's not a bad substitute. Don't forget to add lime.. LOTS of lime!

Spinach and Chick Peas

I came across this recipe while browsing through the vegan link of the Big Girls Small Kitchen website. It's a great site by the way, and I'll definitely be getting more ideas from them. The recipe detailed a few steps that I didn't have time for, so I changed the cooking method and a couple ingredients to make it my own. Prep time was less than 10 minutes, and it was super easy. It was delicious, too! The entire dish was gone by the time the three of us finished dinner. Logan probably ate as much as Andrew and I did. He couldn't get enough of the chick peas! The only thing I would do differently is add more spices next time to boost the flavor, but this will definitely become a regular in our house. It's perfect if you're looking for a quick, light meal. The original recipe calls it a stew. The liquid in this version never thickened enough for me to consider it a stew, but that could be because I skipped the oven step. When serving I just scooped everything out, leaving the small amount of liquid behind.

Spinach and Chick Peas
Serves 3-4
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch of baby spinach
  • 1 15 oz. can of chick peas, drained
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid and cook the onions until translucent.
Add the water and spinach, and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.
Add the chick peas, tomatoes, salt, paprika and cumin. Stir until combined.
Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have an insatiable sweet tooth. As healthy as I resolve to make my diet, I won't even try to exclude sweets. It'll never happen. I unfortunately passed my sweet tooth on to my son. He had sugar for the first time shortly before he turned one, when I did a trial run on vegan cupcakes to make for his birthday. Up until then, his diet consisted of breast milk and the homemade organic baby food I laboriously prepared for him. With the video camera rolling, he bit into his first cupcake and loved it! My normally messy eater didn't waste a crumb, picking every last drop off the high chair tray. His love for sweets began that day. It was no surprise that his first two syllable word was "cookie".

Andrew, who normally doesn't go for sweets, requests chocolate chip cookies all the time. I inherited this amazing recipe from my mom, who seemed to make them almost every day. I'm sure that every single one of my childhood friends remember these cookies. They were always in the house, and always requested when anyone came over. When my mom copied the recipe in a cookbook for me when I moved out of the house, I thought I was being privileged to a exquisite family recipe. Then one night far into my pregnancy I was bingeing on Nestle chocolate chips (that could explain Logan's sweet tooth). I turned the package around and started reading the recipes. The chocolate chip cookie recipe was exactly the same as my mom's! I felt like my whole life had been a lie.

Anyways, I make chocolate chip cookies every so often for Andrew. Logan always sees them on the counter and yells "cookie!", and a temper tantrum ensues when he doesn't get one. I decided to alter "mom's recipe" to eliminate animal products.

The first step was finding vegan chocolate. I checked the label of a bar of an Endangered Species chocolate bar that was in the cabinet, and was pleased to see no milk fat! Whole Foods sells vegan chocolate chips, but I doubt it's as good as this stuff. I just chopped up this bar and added it to the batter.

The next step was finding ingredients to substitute for the eggs and butter. Eggs are easily substituted with applesauce or bananas without altering the taste. 1/4 cup of applesauce or 1/2 a banana for each egg. The harder decision rested with the butter. Oil is easily substituted for butter in cakes and muffins, but I was afraid it would make the cookies too dense. I decided to use vegetable shortening. Not the healthiest choice, but chocolate chip cookies aren't exactly good for you anyways. For some people, anything with white sugar isn't considered vegan, since it's filtered with animal bone char. The bone char isn't in the sugar, but it is used as a filter. I'm not one of those people, so to me, this recipe is vegan.

Right away I could see a difference in the batter. It was so light and fluffy, and I could eat as much as I wanted without fear of getting sick from the eggs. Logan loved it, too. He kept running up to me to lick my fingers.

The end result was amazing. The cookies taste the same, if not better than the regular recipe. They have a lighter feel, and are crunchy and chewy at the same time. Imagine that. And they pair very well with homemade almond milk. I'll definitely make these again, even for non vegans. Sorry mom, but I've found a new recipe to pass on!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 4 dozen
  • 1 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • vegan chocolate bar/chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream the shortening and the sugars with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, followed by the applesauce.
With a wooden spoon, mix in the flour, salt and baking soda.
Add the chocolate.
Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Mmm Brussels Sprouts

While rummaging through the fridge I noticed that I had A LOT of brussels sprouts. They've been in there for awhile, and I wanted to use them all up. A resolution of mine is to reduce food waste, so they all needed to be used. I have a recipe for a brussels sprout casserole from Martha Stewart Living that bakes them in a béchamel sauce. As much as I love creamy, cheesy béchamel, another resolution is to eat less animal product. I googled brussels sprouts recipes, while trying my hardest to resist cheese cravings. I came across a recipe for a brussels sprout orzo salad. Orzo is not an ingredient in the pantry, but there is more brown rice than I know what to do with. I made a few other changes, including ingredients and cooking methods.

This dish, along with a creamy vinaigrette I made with it, were big hits. Andrew and Logan couldn't get enough of it. We ate it as a side dish with fish (so much for a vegan meal, but it looked so delicious in the seafood section at Stop and Shop!), but this could be eaten as a main course.

When I'm cooking it's very rare to see me with a measuring cup or spoons. I just don't have the patients, nor do I have a dishwasher. The less dishes I use, the better. I'll try to guess how much of each ingredient I used, but it's basically to taste.

By the way, I always thought it was brussel sprouts, not brussels sprouts. Who knew? Thanks spell check.

Brussels Sprouts and Brown Rice Casserole
Makes about 6 servings
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1.5 lbs. of brussels sprouts
  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained*
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Brown rice (enough for 6 servings
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook rice according to package directions.
Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Return mixture to the bowl and combine with the cooked rice.
Serve warm.

*note: I avoid canned food whenever possible to reduce BPA exposure, but canned organic Green Way chickpeas are what I had on hand. You can also use 1 cup of dry chick peas, soaked overnight.

Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 4 Tbsp. ginger, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 4 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 6 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of olive oil
Pulse ginger, cloves and garlic in a blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients, ending by slowing adding the oil to achieve desired consistency.
Serve on top of the casserole.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Made Almond Milk

Making the switch from cow's milk is pretty easy given all the great options in grocery stores. What's not so great about the other options is the price. I only nurse Logan at night now (and occasionally during the day when he's cranky, pulling at my shirt and screaming "bubbies!"), so he sucks down those cartons in no time. While we will drink soy milk every now and then, I don't feel comfortable giving it to Logan since soy is full of things like hormone mimicking phytoestrogens and enzyme inhibitors that block mineral absorption. You can read more about the adverse health effects of soy here. I found almond milk to be a tasty substitute. Almonds are packed with protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and calcium, but even the plain, unsweetened almond milk contains 7 grams of sugar. I decided to make my own.

I've made home made Nutella by grinding up hazelnuts before. Seeing how creamy the nuts became inspired me to do the same to almonds. I looked it up online, and browsed through a few recipes before deciding to use one and a half cups of almonds and four cups of water. I began the process by soaking organic almonds I bought from Stop and Shop in one cup of water overnight. Soaking the almonds not only makes them easier to grind, but it makes them easier to digest, thereby ensuring maximum absorption of nutrients.
This morning I added the almonds, along with the water they soaked in, to the blender. I let them grind for a minute or so before adding three more cups of water and letting the blender run for a couple more minutes. Then came the hard part. No matter how long I let it blend there were still little bits of almond in  the mixture. Filtering them with cheese cloth over a pitcher seemed easy, but the mixture was so thick that it took forever! I kept having to squeeze out the cheese cloth and empty the solids from it. Overall it produced about three cups of delicious almond milk!

I will definitely be keeping almonds in the house from now on to make this again. I'll try to come up with    a more efficient method of filtering for next time, but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know!

Home Made Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of organic almonds
  • 4 cups of water, divided

Soak the almonds in one cup of water overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Pour the almonds and the soaking water in a blender and blend at a high speed until the almonds appear mostly chopped -about 1 minute. Add the other 3 cups of water and blend for another 2 to 3 minutes, until a white foam appears at the top. Filter through a cheese cloth and chill. Done!

The almonds taste great on their own, but Andrew added about a teaspoon of organic, fair trade cocoa to his glass for a chocolate variety. Grocery stores also sell vanilla flavors. This can be made by adding a small amount of pure vanilla extract, to taste.

Update: 2/16/12
As my friend Lorraine informed me this morning, it's "national almond day". I guess Hallmark (in an effort to sell more greeting cards, maybe?) has made every day a national holiday. Yes, it's silly, but I never turn down an opportunity to celebrate anything, So happy national almond day everyone! I've been meaning to post an update for a couple days now, so I guess today is the perfect time.

I didn't measure it, but it seemed
to make a lot more.
Andrew and I finally got a new juicer, so my mom can have hers back now. I had almonds soaking to make almond milk with, but was feeling unmotivated. Straining the blended almonds through a cheese cloth was so tedious. I figured I would try throwing them in the juicer. I don't know why I never thought of it before.. it was so easy! I soaked a cup of almonds overnight in water like usual, but instead of putting them in the blender, I threw them in the juicer. Alternate between throwing in almonds and water (3 cups for every cup of almonds), and you have almond milk in less than a tenth of the time!

And don't throw out the leftover almond pulp! Scrape it out of the scrap container and spread it over the fruit roll tray that comes with most dehydrators. Leave that in the dehydrator until it's completely dry, about 4 hours. When done, blend it through a blender until you're left with a fine powder (I used the Baby Bullet), and voila! You have almond flour. Not sure what I'll be using that for yet, but I'm sure it will come in handy eventually.