Tag Archives: vegan

Vegan Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

peanut butter balls

I love peanut butter… I could exist on peanut butter alone… I eat a jar a week (sometimes more, let’s be real).

peanut butter

Around the holidays every year, I love to make chocolate covered peanut butter balls. I posted the secret family recipe last year. However, they contain a fair amount of butter and milk chocolate… so I revamped it and made it vegan! I gave some to Mark and my coworkers… (they didn’t even know they were vegan… win.)

ready for dipping

Vegan Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

makes 28-30 balls

1/2 cup of Earth Balance buttery spread, or other vegan butter
8 oz or about 2 cups of powdered sugar
1 cups of graham cracker crumbs (gf if need be, Nabisco Original Graham Crackers are Vegan)
6 oz of chunky peanut butter (scant 3/4 cup)
vegan chocolate chips (I used a little less than one 9 oz bag of Sunspire Bittersweet)
1/4 block of paraffin wax (in baking aisle, fret not it’s fine to eat, in small quantities) 

chocolate

Mix the first 3 ingredients together then add in the graham crackers and peanut butter and mix until combined completely. Form into 1 inch balls with your hands. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Take a small sauce pot and fill it with an inch or 2 of water. Bring water to a gentle simmer, not boiling. In a microwave-safe, heat proof bowl, microwave the wax so it melts, add in the chocolate chips. Place the bowl over the simmering pot of water, it should rest on the rim of the pot without touching the water below, otherwise you’ll scald the chocolate. The steam form the water will melt the chocolate without scalding it. Stir the chocolate until it is smooth and melted. Dip each ball in the chocolate, coating it evenly, remove it with a slotted spoon to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place the coated peanut butter ball on the waxed paper. Once all the balls are covered, place in fridge for a couple of hours so the chocolate coating can harden.

waiting for them to dry... so I can eat them

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Spinach “Meat” Balls and Spaghetti (Squash)

spinach "meat" ball Spaghetti and Meatballs… a classic. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorites. Before I converted to vegetarianism as a defiant 11 year old, I was all about Sunday Night Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs. The smells of a simmering pot of sauce gently cooking little orbs of deliciousness are deeply ingrained in my mind. So last Sunday, when I asked Mark if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner he looked at me with disbelief. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made him spaghetti and meatballs in the past 4 years. Since I no longer eat meat, I go lighter on the pasta and I’m lactose intolerant, this recipe differs from that of my childhood. The spinach balls sit atop spaghetti squash, a vegetable Mark and I have been obsessed with for the last 6 months.spaghetti squash with roasted veggies and cauliflower tomato sauce

Top those squash noodles with some balls of spinach and I’m in vegetable heaven! The “meat” balls are made of spinach, a bit of bread crumbs (gf if need be), quinoa, a binder (egg or flax egg,) onions, garlic and spices… you won’t even miss the meat. But because I’m a nice girlfriend I made Mark some pork and turkey meatballs.

Spinach “Meat” Balls over Spaghetti Squash

makes about 10-12 balls and enough spaghetti for 2-3 people

Quinoa

1 teaspoon of oil

1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa

1 1/4 cups of water

Spinach Dumplings (makes about 10)

1 tablespoon of oil

1 12 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted and all excess water squeezed out with an old kitchen towel

1/4 cup of bread crumbs (gf if need be)

1 egg or flax egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and allowed to sit in the fridge for 15 minutes.)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 of an onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like spice)

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa (from above)

1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce

1/2 cup of water

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise

Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the oil to the bottom of a small pot. Let it heat up for a minute over medium high heat then add in the quinoa and water, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa is cooking, start to prepare the spinach balls…take a medium sized bowl and add in the spinach, bread crumbs, egg, spices, garlic and onion. When the quinoa is cooked add 1/4 cup to the spinach mixture, and stir it to combine all of the ingredients. Heat a mediums size pan over medium heat and add in about a tablespoon of olive oil. This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 375 F for your squash.

Form the spinach mixture into 10-12 balls with your hands. Place the spinach balls in the pan and brown on all sides. Once nicely browned, add in the sauce and water and cover the pan with a lid, let it simmer gently for at least 45 minutes, but I think the longer the better. Stir it around occasionally

While the spinach balls are bubbling away, line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. The squash is ready when the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork. When it is done let it cool a little bit, then scrape a fork along the inside, from stem to stern. The squash should come apart in strings that resemble spaghetti (hence the name). Plate up your squash and top with spinach balls and sauce.

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Cranberry, Orange & Almond Coffee Cake

coffee cake

How is it already December? Life seems to be in hyper drive. But December means it’s time to get festive!

festive candle

Sadly, no Christmas tree for us, but I do have my 88 cent poinsettia. Now, all we need is the snow!

pointsettiabw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw this recipe and it reminded me so much of my childhood around the holidays. Every year when I was little, my mom and I would make cranberry, orange, walnut bread for my teachers. Then we’d wrap it up in cellophane and tie it with a fancy bow and attach a home-made Christmas ornament.

I was a crafty kid.

Though the recipe is different, the flavors are the same.

ready to eat

Cranberry, Orange and Almond Coffee Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 loaf
 
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Dash of salt
1/4 cup of butter, I used earth balance
1 egg or 1 flax egg
3/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped almonds
 
Topping
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup of flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of chopped almonds
 
Drizzle
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons of almond milk
 

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and line it with a piece of parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides, for easy removal later. Grease the parchment paper and lightly sprinkle flour over the entire inside of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cube up the butter and mix it into the flour with your fingers until it is well incorporate. It should be a coarse meal.

In a medium size bowl combine the egg/ flax egg, orange juice, zest, vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Mix until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and almonds. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon and almonds with your fingers. Once combined, sprinkle the mixture over the top of the loaf. Place in the center of your preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan, using the parchment handles and cool it on a wire rack.

To make the drizzle, whisk powdered sugar, cinnamon and almond milk in a small bowl. Drizzle over the top of the cooled loaf. Slice and enjoy.

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Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

I celebrated Thanksgiving with Mark’s family this year. With only 6 of us at the table, it was a little more subdued than my family’s usual 20 person feast. Not that a small Thanksgiving is a bad thing. We watched a lot of football, played soccer with Reggie, Mark’s Family’s dog, and I went for a nice 5.5 mile run outside. Sadly, I had to work on Black Friday, but unlike everywhere else open, work was painfully slow.

This was also the first year I had a lactose-free meal… it was a little hard to accept that my 22nd Thanksgiving would not include butter, cheese or cream. What is Thanksgiving without those things?

It actually ended up being pretty dang good… I ate a ton of Brussels sprouts, cornbread stuffing made with veggie stock and acorn squash roasted in maple syrup. AND vegan pumpkin pie with gluten free crust! (Mark’s dad is gluten free).

The condensed milk was swapped with coconut milk and thickened with agar agar instead of eggs. Agar agar is basically ground up red algae and when heated and mixed with water it becomes a gelatinous substance. Oh the wonders of biology. I picked up some agar agar and the other necessary ingredients (vegetable shortening and tapioca flour) at the local coop, in bulk.

I also picked up King Arthur’s new gluten free multi-purpose flour… It was the best gluten free flour I’ve worked with and I was supporting local! As an added bonus, it doesn’t contain xanthan gum like some other gf flours… xanthan gum can cause upset stomachs in some people.

Source

The crust was kind of labor intensive, there are many crucial steps and some tips that I picked up from Simply Gluten Free.

  • make sure everything is cold… put ice in your water and put shortening in the freezer for 30 minutes before using it
  • use a food processor to incorporate the shortening.. it will make the crust flakier
  • skimp on the water… the dough should only stick together when pressed with your fingers
  • let the dough rest for 1/2 an hour before rolling… it lets the moisture distribute evenly
  • don’t try to roll the dough out…. extrude it by placing it between two floured sheets of wax paper.
  • use the highest quality ingredients you can afford… it really does make a difference, especially the flour

Since gluten-free baking is a tricky beast, I didn’t really stray from the original recipe. The dough had the consistency of shortbread cookie dough, and was pretty prone to cracking which can be frustrating to a perfectionist like me. I think next time I’d just buy a pre-made gluten free crust, but it was defiantly worth the experience. Plus, I wanted to use my festive little leaf cookie cutters before fall ends.

For the Crust,  from Simply Gluten Free

1/2 cup of organic vegetable shortening (I used spectrum brand)
2-4 tablespoons of water (I used 3)
1 1/4 cups of gluten free multi-purpose flour, such as King Arthur
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Follow the tips and directions here, a lot of the steps are crucial so follow it closely… it’s also a long process. Don’t start it at 9 pm like I did.

For the Pie, from the Blender, a William Sonoma Blog

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of maple syrup (look for kosher label to ensure its vegan, if need be)
1 can of coconut milk (14oz)
2 tablespoons of tapioca flour (found in bulk section)
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
splash of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of water
2 teaspoon of agar agar powder, (not flakes or bars, found in bulk section)
 

Blend together the pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut milk, tapioca flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla extract, in a large bowl and set aside.

In a sauce pot bring the 3/4 cup of water and agar agar to a boil, stirring constantly. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes then stir in the pumpkin mixture and return to a boil. Let thicken for 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring it constantly.

Pour the mixture into the prebaked pie shell. Refrigerate for 3 to 5 hours, until set and firm. Serve chilled or at room temp.

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Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

The weekend before last, my dad threw my mom a surprise milestone birthday party. 75 people, fabulous food and an open bar… my dad sure pulled off a party, and my mom was completely surprised… what a good man!

Sadly, I couldn’t make it home for the Sunday afternoon bash, so I went home this past weekend for a long weekend. One perk of my job is that when the Federal Reserve is closed, I get the day off. And they like their holidays!

It was a gorgeous weekend. On Saturday, I went for a walk down along the water with my parents and the dog. It was great to feel that salty, sea breeze on my face; I’m a beach kid, what can I say. Later on, we had my cousins over for dinner. On Sunday, I went for a long hilly run, met my best friend for breakfast and then went for a hike up Bluffs Head with my parents.

Sunday night, I went to meet my cousins’ new puppy, Scout, he’s so cute. On Monday, I volunteered at the Branford Community Dining Room, the soup kitchen where I used to volunteer at though high school and my summers home from college. It was great to see the CDR Ladies! Then I headed back up to Vermont.

It was an awesome weekend home and just what I needed! I mean who wouldn’t want to hang out with their family and this sleepy puppy… 14 years young! Love that Dexter dog.

The other morning I made this curry recipe in my slow cooker. I just threw everything in, turned it on low and left it while I went to work. 5 minutes before we were ready to eat dinner, I added a few splashes of coconut milk and a few handfuls of chopped baby spinach and that was it! While I waited for the spinach to wilt, I cooked up some whole wheat couscous. It was pretty darn good and so easy!

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup baby carrots, sliced 1/4 in thick
2 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano chili, minced fine
1 can of chickpeas
1 russet potato cubed, peel if you want, I didn’t
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of water
3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup light coconut milk
 

Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, add in onions and cook for 1 minute, then add in carrots and sauté for 4 more minutes. Add in curry powder through Serrano chili, and sauté for an additional minute. Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker and add in the remaining ingredients through the water. Stir and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before serving, stir in chopped spinach and coconut milk. Serve over rice, couscous, or your desired grain.

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Squash Muffins with Streusel Topping

Yesterday, Mark and I hiked Camel’s Hump for the second time. I’m not sure if its because I’ve been running more lately, but we flew up the mountain. We did the whole hike, including spending a half hour at the top, taking pictures and eating lunch, in less than 3 hours. At 4,083 ft., Camels Hump is the third tallest peak in VT. Its unique shape was carved by glaciers! The trail is just under 5 miles, round trip, and usually there are spectacular views from the exposed and undeveloped peak. When we got up to the top, the wind was whipping, clouds were swirling around us and it was freezing! After snapping a few pics of the less-than-stellar views, we hiked back down the trail a bit and found a little ledge on the leeward side of the mountain to have lunch.

Today, I spent the day attacking this massive trombone squash that Mark’s co-worker gave us… this thing is huge! Possibly 3 feet long. Trombone squash are a type of heirloom squash from Italy. They are notorious for being massive. In the summer, when they are green, these squash can be eaten like zucchini, and in the fall when they turn yellow, they can be used like butternut squash. So, I cut it up and roasted it in the oven at 375 for about 45 mins to an hour. Then some went into muffins for Mark’s office, some into squash soup for dinner tonight and the rest is being saved for squash ravioli later in the week.

Get your mind out if the gutter, I know what you’re thinking. You might also be thinking, why muffins… why not… this squash tastes a lot like pumpkin, think of them more as pumpkin muffins… or you can just use pumpkin if you want.

Squash Muffins with Streusel Topping
Makes 12 large muffins (adapted from Mark Bitman’s Whole Wheat Muffin Recipe)
 
2 1/2 whole wheat flour, use whole wheat pastry flour if you can
3/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of squash puree (I used trombone, you could use butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin or any other winter squash)
1/2 cup of vegan butter, such as earth balance, melted
1/2 cup of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk) mixed with 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar (making our own butter milk)
1 egg or one flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons of water, mix and let sit in the fridge for 15 mins to 1 hour to set up)
 
Preheat your oven to 375 and line a muffin tin with 12 liners, or spray with cooking spray.
 
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the squash, melted butter, milk and (flax) egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon evenly into muffin tins. Top with streusel (see below) and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle on spiced drizzle using a spoon and enjoy!
 
 
 For the Streusel
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
2 tablespoon of oats
1/4 cup of melted butter, I used earth balance
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Divide mixture evenly over the top of the 12 muffins.
 
  
Spiced Drizzle
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup, look for a “pure” maple syrup with the kosher label, otherwise it might not be vegan (or omit)
1-2 teaspoons of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk), start with a little and add more to reach desired drizzly consistency 
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of pumpkin pie spice
 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over muffin after they are baked
 
 

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Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes with Spicy BBQ Sauce

Last Saturday was Switchback Brewery’s 10th anniversary and they threw a big party. They had a live band, local food vendors, brewery tours and other activities on their lawn. For $10 you got 3 beer tickets, 1 food ticket, and a newly bottled 22 of switchback ale. We also go access to specials at countless bars downtown with our exclusive wristband. All of this for $10! And it just so happens that we have our first keg of Switchback in the kegerator, coincidence?

I also broke in my new $13 crock pot with some switchback ale chili with cornmeal dumplings.

On another unrelated note… last week I lost my opal ring that Mark got me last year. I might have cried for a few days and tore apart our home and my work. I had everyone on the look out… And just when I had given up hope, Mark found it in our baggie of curry powder. Of all places! Maybe I have a cooking problem. (the worst part, I had looked in some of the other spices and the flour, just not the curry powder). My finger no longer feels naked!

We’ve been having warm weather the past few days, so a 6 mile run though the wooded part of the bike path was a must. This morning I woke up and decided to make vegetable nuggets croquettes… much more fancy sounding… to eat during the Pats game this afternoon. However, Mark and I ate them all by 11:30 am… they’re that good… but also good for you. These vegan croquettes are packed full of veggies and quinoa, breaded lightly in whole wheat bread crumbs and baked in the oven. Served with some doctored-up BBQ sauce, it’s a grown up twist on your childhood favorite: chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce. After a small amount of digesting, we burned them off with a 5 mile run along the lake. I ran 31 miles this week!

Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes 

Makes about 22-24 croquettes
 
2 cups of broccoli florets
 1 cup of carrots, diced
 1 cup of onion, diced
 Olive oil, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Black pepper, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 Garlic flakes, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Red pepper flakes, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 1 russet or Yukon potato, washed and diced in 1″ cubes
 1/4 cup of quinoa, uncooked
 1/4 cup of veggies stock
 3/4 cup of water
 1 tablespoon of vegan butter
 1/2 cup of peas
 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne 
 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
 1/2 tablespoon of mustard
 1/2 cup (approximate) of whole wheat bread crumbs, you can sub gluten free bread crumbs or grind up your favorite gf crackers to keep it gf. Also look for ones low in sodium and without cheese if you want them to remain vegan.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Chop up the broccoli, carrots and onion, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet with some of the black pepper, garlic flakes, red peppers flakes and about a teaspoon of olive oil. Place them in the oven, tossing every 10 mins or so, until cooked and a bit crispy, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast, chop up the potato and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until a fork pierces through a potato cube easily. Once the potato is in the pot, place the quinoa in another pot with some red pepper flakes and some garlic flakes. Heat over medium high heat, tossing the quinoa frequently to toast it, about 3 minutes. Then add in 1/4 cup of low sodium veggies stock and 3/4 cup of water. Stir the quinoa and potatoes occasionally. (you will have extra quinoa left over from this recipe, store in a container and add to meals that need a little protein boost)

When the veggies are done, nice and browned, scrape them and the browned bits in a food processor and pulse to chop them coarsely. When the potatoes are done, place them in a large bowl and mash them up with butter and a teaspoon of olive oil, more black pepper and garlic flakes. Add the veggies, 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa and the peas to the potatoes, add in the cayenne cumin, curry powder and mustard, along with more garlic, black pepper or red pepper flakes, based on your preference. (I love black pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes, so I added more). Mix everything together.

Place the bread crumbs on a plate. Put the remaining olive oil (about a teaspoon) on your baking sheet (tin foil removed and discarded). Form little croquettes, I made about 1 inch diameter balls then shaped them into more of an oval shape (like a nugget). You could use a small ice cream scoop if you want to speed up the process.

Roll each nugget in the bread crumbs and place on the baking sheet. Or you can place them in the freezer, spread out on a baking sheet, not touching, and freeze for 2 hours, then transfer them to a Ziploc bag and store in your freezer until ready to use (we froze half). When ready to bake, place them in a 400 F oven for 10 minutes, or until browned on the bottom, then flip and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Doctored-Up Spicy BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle
6 small Thai hot chilies, diced very fine
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of sriracha
Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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