Basil Pesto Couscous

Food club came up quick this month. I had a million things to do this weekend and not enough time to make a detailed dish. After a quick run through the grocery store, I was inspired by Bob’s tri-color pearl couscous. The recipe on the back included a basil pesto with veggies and that sounded right up my alley!

As the coucous was cooking, I sautéed garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in oil. When this became fragrant and soft, I added spinach.

The couscous only took about 10 minutes to cook up…

I decided to use jarred pesto for two reasons, it’s a time saver and I don’t have access to fresh basil or inexpensive pine nuts. The Meditalia brand is vegan, yippee!

Add it all together

 

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Triple Threat Bars

My friend encouraged me to veganize this recipe and here is what I came up with.

Triple Threat Bars (changed the name, not a fan of what they were formerly called…)

For the Brownie layer:

  • 10 tbls veg butter
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbls water + 3 tsp egg replacer
  • 1/2 cup flour

For the Oreo layer:

  • about 16 double stuffed oreos

For the Cookie Dough layer:

  • 1/4 cup veg butter (at room temp)
  • 2 tbls brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbls white sugar
  • 1 tbls water + 3/4 tsp egg replacer
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbls flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

1. For the Brownie layer:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and egg replacer. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.

2. For the Cookie Dough layer:

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the egg replacer and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.

Bake at 350. Foil a 9 x 9 pan, coat with vegetable spray, firmly press down cookie dough.

Add Oreos.

Add brownie batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

 

I don’t know what went wrong with these. The brownie layer never seemed to cook through. I left them outside for a bit (in the 20 something degree night) and that allowed me to cut them. I kept them in the fridge so they would stay firm. I’d try these again. They taste pretty amazing 🙂

 

Let’s Get Ready To…Read?

I’ve been wanting to compile a list of my top fav animal books for some time, but have always been too caught up in cooking/baking.

Starting with number 5 is Ralph Helfer’s true story called, “Modoc.”

Image from Kirkus Reviews
“Modoc” tells a beautiful (and true) story about a young boy and his elephant, Modoc. Born on the same day, little do the two know that they are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. Helfer writes in a magical way that transcends you through the depths of time. Readers must be prepared to laugh, cry, and stay up late as you will inevitably find yourself being unable to put this great read down. Definitely a must read.
 
Number 4 – “The Animal Dialogues” by Craig Childs. 
 

When thinking about this book, I literally get butterflies. This book is like trying to explain the mountains to someone who has never seen them. You literally need to just dive right in. According to his website, Childs is, “… a writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and remarkable journeys into the wilderness.” His hands-on experiences provide readers a view about non-human animals that may otherwise never encounter.

Childs dismisses false perceptions, such as crows being “dumb birds.” Childs shares a story of coming upon a community of crows and observing them using tools and changing the tones of their calls to communicate with others nearby. Whenever someone challenges the intelligence of an animal, I reflect back to this book and share Childs’ stories with them. Sentient beings far and wide are highlighted in “The Animal Dialogues.” You will walk away from this book with a new (or recharged) connection to the world beyond human animals.

Number 3 – “The Daily Coyote” by Shreve Stockton

I read this book during a tumultuous transition. Words cannot express how much it meant to me. Ironically, Stockton begins her journey in “The Daily Coyote” under a relatable life changing period. After the first few pages, I was hooked me on Stockton’s drive for independence. A woman leaving one big city, heading for another, only to find herself rooted in rural Wyoming. She comes across a young coyote whose parents were recently killed. She felt she had two options, either adopt the coyote or let him die. She chose to take him in.

At no point does Stockton advocate the housing of wild animals. She emphasizes the danger involved and at times questions whether or not taking Charlie in was a good idea. Stockton develops an interesting and powerful relationship with Charlie, and the reader gets to come along for the ride.

Number 2 (tie) – “The Call of the Wild,” and “White Fang” by Jack London

If you don’t know who Jack London is, you should seriously consider visiting your local library. For those of you who are too lazy, here is Wiki’s bio on him. “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang” are somewhat similar. “The Call of the Wild” was released first, then “White Fang.” London had a wonderful way of writing from the non-human animal’s perspective. “The Call of the Wild” takes you on a heart-wrenching journey about Buck, a dog who is forced into being a sled dog.

“White Fang” is about the life of White Fang, who is part wolf and part dog. White Fang has a daunting life, filled with nasty fights initiated by humans. The climax of the story is when White Fang meets Weeden Scott…I don’t want to say much more. London’s books are classics and should be read by all!

Number 1 – “The North Runner” by R.D. Lawrence

R.D. Lawrence is one of my all-time favorite writers. My mentor introduced me to his work, which includes other great novels like “Paddy,” “The Ghost Walker,” and “The White Puma.” I cannot seem to get enough! He seems to carry an understanding of animals that many today lack. Through his stories, he shares of animal intelligence, bonding with human and non-human animals, and much more. “The North Runner” is comparable to London’s “White Fang,” but there are added elements that allows readers to connect on a deeper level. Most of this story is based upon true events yet it seems as if the story could be taking place right at this very moment.

These are my top 5. Do you have any favorites??

Sneaky Snickerdoodles

Well, the chocolate chip cookies are gone. I downed half the batch last night and my friend helped me finish off the rest today. I was going to make another batch tonight, but decided to mix it up and made Katie’s Skinny Snickerdoodles. The warm one out of the oven was fantastic. Can’t wait to try a cooler one out.

Chocolate Covered Katie’s Skinny Snickerdoodle recipe:

  • 3/4 cup ww pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (just under level)
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons soy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter substitute

Mix dry. Mix wet. Add wet into dry. Form into small balls (I made 19) and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake at 330 for 9-10 minutes.

Cool enough to touch means it’s ready for a taste test!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I really love the website, Chocolate Covered Katie. She has created healthier versions of some delicious desserts, one of which are classic chocolate chip cookies. These turned out pretty good. I don’t think I’d make them for a potluck or share with non-veg friends, but for times I’m having a hankering for cookies these will be on the top of my list!

  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbls chocolate chips
  • 2 tbls brown sugar
  • 2 tbls cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 tbls soy milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix your dry ingredients, then add in wet. Form cookies and bake 6-7 minutes.

GF Hummus and Oat Bars!

I meant to take more pictures while making the oat bars, but I was in a hurry to get them in the oven and go for a run. I saw the recipe on Oh She Glow’s blog. They turned out pretty good. It always amazes me when recipes call for a good amount of sweetener and they end up tasting not sweet enough! I wouldn’t add anymore to this recipe though because 1/2 c maple syrup is a lot of sugar! I am excited to eat a whole bar for breakfast tomorrow!

Per Oh She Glows…(I modified it slightly, just with the banana and milk) Gluten Free if you use GF oat flour/oats

  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1 1/2 c regular (not instant) oats
  • 3 tbls chia seed
  • 1/2 c + 1 tbls ground flax
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c soy milk
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbls peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana chopped
  • 1 tbls pure vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients until well combined. Add wet into dry. Fold in fruit (you can add in other fruit and nuts too. I added fresh blueberries).

Pour into a lined (w/ parchment) 8×8 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

I then went on to make a spicy hummus. I always forget how easy and inexpensive it is to make hummus. Mine never turns out as good as Holy Land’s though.

I am pretty sure this is gluten free…1 clove garlic, chopped in food processor. To that, add: 1 can (drained/rinsed) chickpeas, 2 tbls tahini, and reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes (I added boiling water to a handful of sun-dried tomatoes). Blend until smooth. Add sun-dried tomato water to the mix until you reach a desired consistency. I like mine smooth and creamy. To this I added some crushed red pepper and Cholula hot sauce. Magnifico!

And as I went downstairs to get my camera, I noticed my little friend in the window. S/he likes hanging out there. I am going to say it’s a boy and am naming him Wynn. Why Wynn? I don’t know, window? That’s my attempt at creativity. He is just one of a couple feral cats we are helping get through the winter.

Oh Miso Hungry

Miso is a perfect meal on a night like this. I was half tempted to not make it, but really, it’s not that labor intensive. It just seems like it.

For those of you who’ve never heard of miso, you should familiarize yourself with it because it’s pretty great stuff! Miso is usually made from fermented soybeans (although the kind I used tonight was from barley) and can vary in color from white to brown to red. If you are wanting to experiment, try white miso first because it’s a bit milder in taste. My favorite brands are Mitoku and Miso Master. Miso Master can be found at most co-ops and even some grocers now. And don’t freak out about the prices, this stuff lasts foreverrrr.

When I make miso, I throw my favorite veggies into a pan, add water enough to cover and bring to a boil. Once veggies are fork tender, I reduce heat to very low and add some miso. When adding miso it’s helpful to have a mesh spoon…

I let this sit for a few minutes and serve it over cold rice (this helps cool the soup so you don’t have to wait forever to eat it).

Mmm, cold rice…

 

Miso, with broccoli, cauliflower, fried onion and buttercup squash (*you can leave the skin on with buttercup squash, it doesn’t get gross like other squashes)

Served over rice!

Random Indian Curry

I have a lot of random foods lingering in my fridge, like mashed sweet potato, smoked tempeh and jalapenos. I recently bought some garam masala so I decided to make an Indian curry tonight. I sautéed half an onion and half of a jalapeno pepper. After a few minutes I added 1 tsp garam masala and 1 tsp curry. Then I added in the mashed sweet potato (about half of one very large sweet potato). It started to stick so I added in some vegan creamer. Maybe 1/2 a cup. I tossed in some smoked tempeh and a large handful of spinach. It wasn’t spicy enough so I added in crushed red pepper.

Seriously, delicious! It’s fun to see what random creations you can make 🙂 This made enough for two people and should be served over rice.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

I jammed out to Johnny’s Sunday Morning Coming Down while making these amazing banana nut pancakes. I adapted the recipe from Isa’s Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook.

  • 3/4 c flour (I used 1/4 c white and 1/2 c whole wheat)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 3/4 c soy milk with 2 tsps vinegar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsps oil
  • dash of vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c of walnuts

Mix dry. Mix wet. Add wet into dry, stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts. Made about 6 small pancakes.