Saturday, March 31, 2012

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Ahh Pinterest, you've inspired me again. I was so set on making this, that I went to three different stores to find spaghetti squash. Even at the third store the only ones I found were pretty tiny, so I used two small ones. I hope this doesn't mean that it's done for the season! Winter squash may be one of the only good things about the cold weather. I deviated from the original recipe by eliminating cheese and using what I had on hand, so the ingredients are pretty flexible. 

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Serves 2 as an entree, or 4 as a side

The cooked squash.

  • 2 small spaghetti squash (or 1 large one, but only if you're making an entree for two people)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloved, minced
  • Loose handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  2. Roast the squash: Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Cook until easily pierced with a fork, 30 minutes for small squash and up to an hour for large squash.
  3. In a skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil.
  4. Throw in the spinach, and saute until the leaves begin to wilt. 
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cilantro and cook until everything is warm, about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out about half the flesh with a fork to create "spaghetti". 
  8. Add the scraped spaghetti to the skillet, and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
  9. Spoon the contents of the skillet into the cavities in the squash.
  10. Serve immediately. 

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

This one requires some patience, but the result is well worth your time. I adapted this recipe from one made by my bestie's mom. Thanks Mama Jo! She pulled a recipe for this soup from a magazine years ago. I made some changes to make it vegan, but you wouldn't be able to distinguish it from the original.

The part that requires patience is skinning the peppers. After roasting them, the skin is supposed to peel off easily. I had a little difficulty with it, even after putting them back in the broiler to roast more. I threw in the towel (literally and figuratively) after removing only about 60% of the skin, and the soup still came out fine. So no worries if you can't get all the skin off.

I love all soup, but a rich, creamy soup wins me over every time. Like the other creamy soups I've blogged about, this gets it's texture from a potato. It's so much healthier (and animal friendly!) than using cream. Bon appetit!

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup
Serves 4

  • 3 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and pale green part only)
  • 1 large russet potato, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Dash of salt and pepper

The peppers should look like this once
removed from the broiler.

  1. Roast the peppers: cut them in half and remove the seeds and stem. Place on a baking sheet and broil until the skins begin to blister, between 5 and 10 minutes. (I had to take some out after 5 minutes, and leave the rest in for 10, so keep an eye on them).
  2. Once the skins have blistered and are beginning to brown, place the peppers in a bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large pot, sauté the onion and leek in oil until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the potato, broth, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Lower heat, cover and let simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Peel the skin from the peppers.
  8. Chop the peppers and add to the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cheery Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream

Oh. Em. Jee.

I never knew how easy it was to make vegan ice cream! Three ingredients. That's it. Coconut milk, bananas, and fruit of your choosing. The difficult part for me was blending the frozen chunks together. My blender was struggling, and I'm surprised I didn't blow the motor. I need a food processor. My blender did the trick, but a food processor would have made things a lot easier.

This was better than any store bought ice cream I've ever had, so keep it movin Ben & Jerry's! It was smooth, creamy, and packed with flavor. I'm looking forward to summer more than ever now, so I can experiment with different flavors as different fruits come into season.

Cheery Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream
Serves 4

  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 4 bananas
  • 2 cups of frozen cherries
  • Handful of vegan chocolate chips

  1. Pour the coconut milk in a large, shallow dish. This will make it easier to break up once it's frozen.
  2. Peel the bananas and place them in the dish with the coconut milk.
  3. Cover the dish and put in the freezer.
  4. Once the milk and bananas have frozen solid, remove from the freezer and thaw for a couple minutes, or until you can break the bananas and milk into pieces. I did this by stabbing through them with a knife.
  5. Blend the milk, bananas and cherries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  6. Throw in chocolate chips and blend for a few more seconds to break them into pieces.
  7. Serve immediately.

I'm not sure how well this would freeze. I'm guessing it would solidify into a frozen, solid chunk if refrozen, so enjoy it right away. This ice cream is so good, I doubt there would be leftovers anyways!

Friday, March 23, 2012


This salsa and I, it's love.

I found a salsa on Pinterest that used fire roasted tomatoes. How delicious does that sound? If I had more ambition/time/hands I would have roasted my own tomatoes, but I found a can at Pathmark, and it did the trick. The Pinterest recipe called other assortments of cans and jars, but I found fresh substitutes that worked, too. I found fun little peppers at a great little produce place in my neighborhood. I'm not sure what kind they are, the sign just said "mixed peppers", but they were a great addition to the salsa. They look like jalapenos, but are red, yellow and orange, and they're sweet. I guess any kind of sweet pepper would work here, so if you want to reproduce this recipe and can't find them, a bell pepper would do the trick. The great part about salsa is how versatile it is. You can add more of what you like, leave out what you don't, and experiment with different ingredients. I've tried other salsas before, but this one is my best to date. I've made it catered to my taste (more jalapeno and cilantro please!), and it's totally me.

Makes 3 cups-ish

  • 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes on the vine, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 5 small mixed peppers (or 1 red bell pepper), seeded and diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Combine everything in a blender or food processor and blend until you've reached the desired consistency. 

The makings of a perfect salsa.
This jalapeno seeder was perfect for this recipe, and it's fun to use!
Blurry picture, but I liked the way everything looked layered in here. 

Tacos and Kumquats

Sounds dirty.

I tried my first kumquat the other day. Tiny, orange citrus fruits that taste as exotic as they sound. To eat, roll one between your fingers to release the oils, and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Before I googled this helpful bit of info, I thought you had to peel them. Big mistake. The pulp inside is so tart! After peeling a little bit off of the end, I squeezed the juice onto my tongue and was not prepared for that. I had to pass it around the table to Andrew and our two friends, who all made hysterical faces after trying the juice. Too bad I didn't have a camera ready! As tart as the inside is, it's balanced by the sweetness of the peel.

It's not my favorite fruit, but I had a whole package that I had to do something with. I googled recipes, none which sounded appetizing. The only one seeming palatable was a salsa, but even then I couldn't imagine it being appealing with chips. Tacos came to mind, so I got to work making kumquat salsa. Since I wanted a thicker, more simple version than the recipe online called for, I made some changes and had dinner made in about 10 minutes.

The salsa still had somewhat of a tart taste, but it was masked pretty well by the earthy flavors of cilantro and the sweetness of the pepper and red onion. The juice of the kumquats marinated everything together to create a delicious, unique blend. It tasted even better wrapped in a tortilla with refried beans. The original recipe had the kumquats sliced, but I had to dice them even further since they were kind of tough to chew. I've been known to put unconventional topping on tacos, but this salsa takes the cake.

Kumquat Salsa
Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cups of kumquats, sliced and diced
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
  • Loose handful of cilantro, chopped.
  1. Mix everything together and let sit for at least an hour to blend the flavors. 
  2. Serve over tacos with refried beans. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Vegan Sugar Cookies

My cousin Liam decorated his own
cookie. Now that's a cookie!
Any holiday can be celebrated with sugar cookies, and ever since my mom bought me 100 assorted cookie cutters, every holiday has. Making sugar cookies is no fun if your kids can't eat them, so I've been searching for a vegan recipe for awhile. After coming up empty handed I finally found one on animal-friendly eating, a wonderful blog for vegan and raw food. Kelli's recipe uses an egg substitute that you make by whipping together water, flour, baking powder and baking soda. I've never heard of an egg substitute like that, but it works! I can't wait to try it for other recipes.

I found the picture on this flour 
package to be pretty anti-feminist.
 Is it just me? Regardless, it was still great flour.  
I made my first trip to Trader Joe's last week. I'm normally a loyal Whole Foods customer, but I checked out Trader Joe's since I was told it was cheaper. It is, but their selection isn't that great. After stocking up on organic produce and other basics I still had to go to Whole Foods across the street to complete my shopping. I was looking for Bestlife, but the only butter substitute I could find at Trader Joe's was Earth Balance buttery spread. Has anyone ever tried this? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, because I thought it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever eaten. A lot of vegan blogs rave about it, but I couldn't stand it! I can't be the only one who feels this way. It left the most awful taste in my mouth, like I just licked a plastic patio chair after someone had been sitting in it in the hot sun and they left a pool of sweat on the seat. Not that I've ever done that, but I imagine that's what it would taste like. I will never, ever eat that stuff again. Since it was the only butter substitute I had (I don't know why I didn't think to use shortening), I used it anyways, hoping that the other ingredients would mask the taste. They didn't. I ended up masking the rancid flavor by adding extra sugar and some almond extract. The end result wasn't bad at all. You couldn't taste the salty, offensive flavor of the Earth Balance, and the cookies came out light, fluffy, and delicious. I've found a new holiday staple!

Vegan Sugar Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies

  • 3/4 cup of butter substitute (like Bestlife, but NOT Earth Balance)
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 egg replacers (see below)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Egg Replacer
Substitutes 2 eggs

  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter substitute and sugar with an electric mixer.
  3. Blend in the vanilla and almond extract.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg substitute ingredients until thick and foamy.
  5. Add this to the mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
  6. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until thoroughly mixed. 
  7. Roll batter on a floured surface to somewhere between 1/8" to 1/4" thick.
  8. Make shapes using cookie cutters.
  9. Place on a grease baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. 

This particular batch was made into shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Cream" of Carrot Soup

Check out the size of this sweet potato!
You wouldn't know it by glancing at the smooth, thick consistency of this soup, but there isn't actually any cream in here. The creamy consistency comes from sweet potato, which I used in place of heavy cream and milk in the original recipe. My inspiration for this soup came from the Hunger Games. As I mentioned in a previous post, I finished reading the trilogy and loved every word of it. One of my favorite parts of the books was the detail in which the food was discussed. The food was described with such depth, that it made me think about recreating the dishes myself. Apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed, since there was an article on Huffington Post with links to recipes similar to those described in the books. Following the link I found a delicious sounding carrot soup. I made some vegan substitutions and scaled down the water. Like I said before, the creaminess came from a sweet potato. A very large sweet potato. Seriously, I didn't think any sweet potato could get that big, let alone an organic one. It must have been about 4 cups once it was peeled and chopped. It did the trick though. The result: a comforting, filling soup that we can't get enough of.

"Cream" of Carrot Soup
Serves at least 6

  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 lbs. of carrots, sliced
  • 1 extra large sweet potato, cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 7 scallions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

  1. In a large pot, sauté the onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and sweet potato, followed by the vegetable broth and water. Add more water to just cover the potatoes and carrots if needed.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Uncover, lower the heat, and allow the soup to simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender. About 30 minutes.
  5. Add the white and pale green parts of the scallions and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Add the poppy seeds and stir until combined.
  8. Serve, and garnish with the rest of the scallions and a sprinkling on poppy seeds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

St. Patrick's Smoothie

What can I say, I'm in the holiday spirit. I adapted this recipe from one I found somewhere online. Probably Pinterest. This smoothie tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but it's much much healthier. I kept the ingredients the same, I just changed the amounts to suit my taste. After making this smoothie, I think I need to add mint to my garden!

St. Patrick's Day Smoothie
Serves 2

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 loose handful of spinach
  • 2 small bananas
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped chocolate
  • 2 cups ice
  1. Blend everything except the chocolate until smooth. 
  2. Add the chocolate and blend for a few more seconds, or until the chocolate has been finely chopped and incorporated.

Vegan Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick's Day isn't complete without Irish soda bread. Growing up, it was a staple in our house every year when March rolled around. My mom uses a recipe that I think she received from her Irish grandmother. The "holiday season" started on Sunday for us when we went to the first parade of the year. Parades are all over Long Island in March, but the Rocky Point one is my favorite. My parents have been taking me since I was a baby. I've kept the tradition alive with Logan, bringing him for the second time this year. He's really into fire trucks, tractors, and anything else that makes noise, so he loved every second of it. The bagpipers and drummers, even the zombies (yes, there were zombies!) had his full attention. Taking the tradition even further, Logan wore a sweater that I wore to the same parade when I was his age. My grandmother bought it in Ireland, and my mom has kept it all these years.

All the festivities put me in the mood for Irish soda bread. I wanted Logan to be able to have some too, so I made some changes to my Grandma Bull's original recipe. Two eggs were substituted with apple purée, since that works in every recipe I've done. Part of what makes Irish soda bread so great is the buttery taste and texture. A typical oil substitution wasn't going to cut it this time, so I bought a "buttery spread" made with oils. I'm usually wary of vegan substitute products, but this stuff is amazing! It tastes even better than butter, and the 400 lb. fat kid that lives inside me LOVES butter. It took all my willpower not to stick my finger in the tub and eat it in fistfuls. Gross, I know. (Unfortunately, Bestlife may not be 100% vegan. The source of the vitamin D-3 varies and can come from animal product, so it's not deserving of the vegan seal. Bummer.) Anyways, the buttermilk was more challenging to substitute. I thought I would have to scrap this recipe, then I remembered how my mom makes buttermilk. She mixes one tablespoon of lemon juice with a cup of milk, and let's it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the recipe. I decided to give it a try with soy milk. It worked, but it gave the bread a sweet taste, even though the soy milk was unsweetened. Next time I'll try it with homemade almond milk, since I prefer Irish soda bread with a more rustic taste. *Check out the update at the end of the page.*

Add 1 1/2 Tbsp. of lemon juice to a measuring cup.
Pour soy milk on top of the lemon juice until the 1 1/2 cup mark.
Instant "buttermilk".
This recipe is almost as good as my moms, and it's not bad at all for a vegan bread. My mom makes it in a cast iron pan. I don't have any of those (but I have a birthday coming up, hint hint!), so I made it in an 8 x 8 pan. Now that I think about it I could have made it in a casserole or pie dish to give it a circular shape. I'm sure I'll be making this bread again before the month is up, so when I make it again with the almond milk and in a pie dish I'll post an update. I also usually add raisins, but since I'm the only one who likes them I left them out this time.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • < 1 1/2 cups of almond/soy milk 
  • 4 cups of flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 4 Tbsp. butter substitute (I used Bestlife buttery spread), softened 
  • 1 cup of sugar 
  • 1/2 cup apple purée (store bought applesauce would work, too) 
  •  1 cup of raisins (optional) 

Ready for the oven.
  1.  Preheat oven to 350. 
  2.  Put the lemon juice in a 2 cup measuring cup, and add the milk until you reach the 1 1/2 up mark. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before adding it to the rest of the recipe. 
  3.  Mix the flour, soda, powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. 
  4.  Stir in the apple, buttermilk, and butter substitute. Mix until combined. The butter substitute may not blend perfectly, but that's ok. 
  5.  Fold in the raisins if using. 
  6.  Place the mixture in a greased 10" cast iron skillet (or a pie pan or casserole dish). Make an "X" across the top of the bread (you can make a shamrock shape to be festive). 
  7.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Keep an eye on the bread, as cooking times may vary with the type of pan used. 

 "May the road rise up to meet you. 
 May the wind be always at your back. 
 May the sun shine warm upon your face; 
the rains fall soft upon your fields. 
 And until we meet again, 
may God hold you in the palm of His hand." 
Irish Blessing


Update 3/15/12:

*I made the Irish soda bread again tonight using almond milk and regular, unbleached flour (in the previous recipe I used whole wheat flour).  I also baked it in a glass casserole dish for 70 minutes. This was much more authentic and similar to the original recipe!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Homemade Italian Dressing

This recipe came to my rescue a couple years ago when I was pregnant and craving a salad. I was tired of dressing up my plate with plain old oil and vinegar, so I created a blend of spices to replicate Italian dressing. After checking out some online recipes to see what other people use in their dressings, I raided my pantry for further inspiration and chose a few spices to be part of the mix. This dressing is by far the most flavorful Italian dressing I have ever tasted. I haven't bought dressing since discovering this, and I never will again!

Homemade Italian Dressing
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. organic sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. water

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Combine the vinegar, oil and water in a large measuring cup.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp. of the spice mix to the measuring cup. Save the rest of the spice mix in an airtight container for future use.
  4. Mix everything in the measuring cup and transfer to a container made for dispensing dressing. You can buy one of these or use a recycled condiment bottle.
  5. Store at room temperature and shake well before each use.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Even though I promised myself to blog a new recipe on a semi regular basis, I've let myself slip this week. I got caught up reading the Hunger Games trilogy. The books were so excellent I couldn't put them down! A lot of things got neglected while I was reading away, including my kitchen. Now that I've finished the series and am resting up since throwing my back out last night (thanks Logan), I hope to get up to speed with the posts.

I've had this one in my arsenal for a couple months now. I got the recipe from Kelli over at animal-friendly eating. It's a great place to find vegan recipes. This is the only one that I've tried so far, but I can't wait to try her recipe for vegan sugar cookies next week for St. Patrick's Day. I wasn't sure what to expect with this recipe. Blending avocados with cocoa powder didn't sound very appetizing, but I'm glad I tried it anyways! The result came out just like a traditional chocolate pudding, and it was delicious. I've made it a couple times since then, and it's always a hit. It the most tasty when topped with bananas and cinnamon, but feel free to get creative with other toppings!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup of agave
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 5 heaping Tbsp. of cocoa powder
  • Dash of salt

  1. Blend everything together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Divide the pudding into 4 dishes, cover, and put in the fridge to chill for a few hours.
  3. Add any desired toppings, and enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Quest to Find the Perfect Vegan Brownie

Since I began vegan baking, I've been searching for the perfect brownie. I want a recipe that turns out moist, chewy, fudgey, chocolatey brownies. I didn't think it would be this difficult! I've tried a few recipes so far, and none have hit the mark. So far all I've turned out are dry, cake like confections.

When I tried the latest recipe, I was less discouraged. The recipe, from promised delicious vegan brownies. I made some changes to the original recipe, which may have been for better or worse. Two-thirds of a cup of oil seemed like a lot, so I added half the oil and 1/3 cup of apple purée. I left out the stevia. I've never tried it, but something about it just seems off putting. Plus, people who reviewed the recipe said it was an unnecessary addition. I also used almond milk instead of soy.

Well, it wasn't as cakey as my other attempts. It tasted more like a cake that was supposed to be fudgey. Better, but still not what I'm looking for. Since it was my best attempt so far, I've decided it deserves a spot in Resolution Kitchen. This won't be my last try, so stay tuned for brownie updates!

Vegan Brownies

My Uncle Mark added the Peeps!
They're not vegan, but I loved every bite anyways.

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, mix cocoa, oil, apple, and water.
  3. Add the sugar and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
  5. Add the flower and baking powder and mix until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 9 pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.