Dangerous Dessert Ahead

If my kitchen could have a road sign today, it would read, “Dangerous Dessert Ahead.” I’ve been wanting to make Isa’s Caramel Pecan Bars, but haven’t had a special occasion to do so. And I’ve been afraid if I made them without much reason, I’d polish the pan off sooner than one should. The recipe is made up of a massive amount of sugar along with nearly a cup of butter. Hence the danger-filled caution. Once your taste buds experience this, you’ll be hooked for life. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Caramel Pecan Bars are the perfect dessert for a fall potluck or Thanksgiving dish.

Isa’s Caramel Pecan Bars

CRUST

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 c veg butter, softened a bit

PECAN TOPPING

  • 3 tbls cornstarch (I used arrowroot)
  • 1/3 c soy milk
  • 1 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 c brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbls melted veg butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 c coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 9×13 pan with foil, make sure sides/edges are totally covered. Spray generously with cooking spray.
  2. For crust, mix all ingredients together with a pastry cutter. Once the mixture is crumbly, press down into pan. Bake for 8-10min, until very light brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Whisk cornstarch (arrowroot) and milk until foamy. Add everything else in and then fold in pecans. Spread mixture on crust using a spatula.

4.  Bake for 28-30min or until it’s bubbling a lot. Cool on a wire rack for 20min and then chill in fridge for at least 2 hours (preferably over night).

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Quick and Healthy Pizza

Pizzas don’t have to be all that bad for you. Today I made a margherita pizza with a twist, using garden fresh tomatoes, basil, veg parmesan and tofu on top of a low-fat/low carb wrap. I cooked it in the toaster oven for about 5 or 7 minutes. It turned out way better than I expected. I washed it down with a nice glass of Merlot. Perfect pairing. Try it out!

Cookies, Muy Caliente

There is nothing better on a cool, fall day then something that can warm you up in seconds. My friends were doing some yard work today and I decided to bake them some delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies. These are one of my favorite (and easiest) cookies to make. I found the recipe on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website and it’s also in her book Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar. Try not to eat them all at once…but if you do, it’s okay.

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk (Or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix topping, set aside
  3. Mix oil through vanilla, until well incorporated
  4. Sift in dry ingredients
  5. Roll into balls, pat down into 2 inch discs and press top in sugar/cinnamon mixture
  6. (optional) add chunks of dark chocolate inside of or on top of the cookies
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes; makes 20-24 cookies

 

TGIF: Sandwich Night

I started my second job this week. Yay for my checking account! Boo for my energy level. My new shift starts between 4am and 5am. To my surprise I managed to be somewhat productive after work this morning. I spent an hour at the gym, read a few chapters…but around mid-afternoon I fell into an endless siesta. When dinner came around the fridge was lacking in the leftovers department and I was far from motivated to attempt any laborious meals.

Tofurky to the rescue! I threw together a quick and delicious sandwich. In the process I found that my lettuce had gone bad, so my TLT turned into a double T. Still satisfying, so no worries! And for dessert I polished off the last of my chocolate chip cookies (I tried a new recipe earlier in the week, but was too lazy to take pics).

Best Wild Rice Soup, EVER!

Today was the perfect day for a rich, satisfying soup. After chatting with a friend, I was informed of a must-try wild rice soup. Most people associate wild rice soup with chicken. However, this recipe has ingredients like lentils and mushrooms which are loaded with protein and iron. And by adding flour to the pot, the watery soup is transformed into a hearty, thick soup (almost stew-like).

After work tomorrow, do not pass go, do not collect $200; go straight to the grocery store and head home to make this soup!

Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms and Lentils

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups stock (I used Edward and Sons Not-Chick’n bouillon cube + 2 c hot water)
  • 2 cups soy milk (plain!)
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed (I used 1/2 dry, cooked in 1 c of water)
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt or as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (about 3/4 c wild rice to 2 c water)
  1. Saute onion and carrots in oil for about five minutes.
  2. Add garlic and when it becomes fragrant, add flour. Cook for about a minute then add stock and milk (slowly). Stir constantly to avoid getting lumps.
  3. Once flour mixture is well incorporated with the stock and milk, add mushrooms, lentils, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

4.  Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes. Add in rice at the end.

Comforting Chili with Eggplant and Lentils

I had a few eggplants leftover and wanted to do something creative with them. I searched through the indices of a few cookbooks and met my match in Isa’s Appetite for Reduction. Her eggplant lentil chili is actually described as a mole, but subtract the cocoa and you have yourself a hearty chili! I didn’t know exactly how many pounds my eggplants weighed in at, but I guesstimated it was around 2lbs. I freaked a bit when I dumped the cubed eggplants into the pot. I knew they’d cook down, but there seemed to be an overwhelming amount. In the end, it all turned out marvy. (*note to those who seek heat, definitely kick it up with this one…I was making this for diners that are sensitive to heat, but it could use a hotter chili spice, maybe some Habanero peppers?)

Eggplant Lentil Chili

  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used orange)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbls mild chili powder
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c dried green lentils, rinsed
  • 4 c veg broth
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cubed
  1. Saute onion and pepper. When onion is soft (after 5 minutes or so) add garlic. Let that sit for a minute.
  2. Then mix in powders and salt. Add 1/2 c broth, cook for a minute.
  3. After everything seems well incorporated, add lentils, remaining broth and eggplant.

4.  Bring to a boil, once boiling lower to a simmer.

5.  Cover and let chili simmer for 40 minutes, until the eggplant and lentils are soft.

Pumpkin Brownies

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it sounded weird and kind of gross. However, I’m not a snob when it comes to trying new things. So I grabbed some canned pumpkin and gave this recipe a whirl. The taste is absolutely phenomenal. Unfortunately the consistency isn’t the greatest, quite crumbly. I’ll definitely try this again and maybe tweak a few things! It’s a wonderful fall treat full of seasonal spices. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Brownies

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  •  1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 to 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate

Heat oven to 350 F. Melt butter then add ingredients in order as shown. Bake in a greased 8 x 8 for about 26 minutes.

Butternut Tomato Soup

My dad has been graced by the gardening gods this season with a truckload of tomatoes. After a recent visit I gladly took some off his hands. I wanted to make something creative with them, other than dressing up a salad or sandwich. I came across a recipe for a butternut tomato soup in How it all Vegan! and decided to give it a go. I made a batch for myself and two friends, and while the serving size suggests 4-6 people, the 3 of us polished the pot off in one sitting. Please give this one a try!

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbls fresh grated ginger
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 1 c vegetable stock (I used some leftover kale water)
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes or 5-8 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c soy milk (plaaaain!)

Saute garlic, ginger and squash until garlic is softened (5 minutes-ish). Add stock, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes (I cut too large of squash pieces, so it simmered a bit longer). Once squash can be pierced with a fork, transfer to a food processor. Blend well. Return to stove, add 1 c of soy milk and simmer for 5 minutes more. Serve over rice. Enjoy!!

No Bake Breakfast Bars

After doing some budgeting, I realized I was spending way too much money on granola bars. Which is kind of ridiculous since they seem incredibly easy to make. I came across this recipe in my Google reader from Choosing Raw and tried it out. I was excited to see the use of carob chips. I usually get carob energy bites from the co-ops, but have never baked/prepared much with it before.

I  am quite happy with how they turned out and love that I don’t have to heat up the oven. The only downside is it seems a bit sweet for me. Maybe next time I’ll skip on the raisins and just add in more nuts. Definitely try these out!!

No-Bake Sunflower Seed and Oat Bars, courtesy of Choosing Raw:

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup carob chips
  • 2/3 cup nut or seed butter of choice
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup agave nectar (adjust based on how well things stick together)

1) Mix oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, and carob chips in a large bowl.

2) Whisk together nut butter and agave. Pour into oat mixture, and mix well, till everything is sticky and combined. If it’s too dry, add a bit more agave.

3) Press mixture into a shallow baking dish that you’ve lined with foil or saran wrap. Cover with more foil/saran, press well into the baking dish, and refrigerate for 4 hours. Cut into bar shapes, wrap, and keep refrigerated till ready to use. They ought to last two weeks at least.

Better than Bacon

I am quite impressed with Tofurky‘s smokey maple ‘bacon’ tempeh. Tempeh is a delicious protein consisting of cooked/fermented soybeans with add-ins like grains or rice. I made a cobb-like salad with it today and loved every bite. Only downside is the Tofurky tempeh can be pretty spendy, which sucks because plain tempeh is usually pretty cheap. Solution: find a marinade to mock the flavor of Tofurky. However, when you are in a pinch and just want something quick, it’s nice to have these on hand!

Quick Cobb-like Salad:

Romaine, cherry tomatoes, pepper, veg parmesan, veg ranch and tempeh strips!