December 11, 2014

Alicia Simpson's Sweetgrass Snickerdoodles

Naughty li'l elves!

I have yet to try an Alicia Simpson recipe that doesn't taste amazing! This snickerdoodle cookie recipe is no exception. Crispy, cinnamon-y and full of seasonal oomph, I'm planning to give little stacks of these beauties as Christmas gifts. They go great with coffee or chai tea. And, as you can see in the photo, Santa's Scout Elves just love them! My daughter, Lila, has two scout elves because Santa determined that she needed an extra set of eyes on her during the holidays - she's a chronic gift-jiggler. Lila named her elves Lula and Layla, which makes me curious about the names of my future grandchildren...

This plate of cookies was piled beautifully high before I went to look for my phone.
Upon return, I found this picked-over cookie plate. Sigh...

Alicia Simpson's Sweetgrass Snickerdoodles
from the cookbook Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Garnish:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream the margarine and shortening with the applesauce and sugars. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients with the creamed mixture 1/2 cup at a time and mix with an electric mixer until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  • Chill the dough for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. 
  • Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon. 
  • Scoop 1-inch balls of dough with a teaspoon. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating all sides. 
  • Place on a baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 minutes for chewy cookies and up to 15 minutes for a crisper cookie.
  • Remove from baking sheet, cool, and enjoy.
Please Note: Alicia Simpson did not put me up to this. I purchased the cookbook on my own, years ago, and I love it! If you want to support a fantastic vegan cookbook author (and me, as these are affiliate links), buy something with her name on it. You won't be sorry!

December 9, 2014

Autumn's Easiest Dried Apples


I know I'm a little late with this post. I actually made these dried apples and took this picture well over a month ago, but it's been busy around here. I vow, right now, to get back to posting more regularly! Now that I am jobless I seriously have no excuse. But I'm one of those moderately crazy OCD people who think they can accomplish nothing creative until their house is clean. So, I end up cleaning constantly, and never writing or exercising or anything else useful until my house is clean, which it never is, so you get my drift... My new year's resolution is going to be to let the house be messy and get my creative stuff done first! As I type, there are muddy dog prints on the carpet in the back room and a pile of dishes in the kitchen sink. I can't let those things haunt me. Let's get to the apples!

For this recipe you will need a dehydrator, and it does not have to be a fancy one. The dehydrator I used cost $20 (I got it at Aldi last summer) and it works great! And you don't have to have an apple peeler/corer combo, but it saves you an hour or more of peeling and chopping and helps to make sure all of your apples are the same thickness. I'm talking about one of these things...
(Affiliate link- Click the photo to be taken to the product.)



I recommend a stout, cast-iron body corer with a clamp (like in the picture) as opposed to a suction cup. Again, these run about $20.

Use a nice sweet, or tart, apple. I like to use Pink Lady apples. A Red Delicious, for example, might not make for a very flavorful chip. But a Jazz or Granny Smith would make a yummy chip for sure!

So basically, you just twirl your apple through this contraption and it takes the skin off (drying the skin makes it too chewy - trust me and take it off), cores the apple and spiral slices it all at the same time. What you have left is just the good "apple meat." Take a knife and slice it just once from top to bottom, which will leave you with a lovely stack of evenly sliced apple chips. Lay each chip in a single layer in your dehydrator. The sides can be touching, but it is very important that the apples not overlap one another.

If you're wondering about browning, don't worry. The first time I tried this, I was very concerned about whether or not I needed to dip my apples into a lemon juice solution (or something similar), but I read online that it wasn't necessary and I went for it. The apples you see in the photo have not been treated, or flavored, with anything. I just popped the raw apple slices right into the dehydrator and that was it.

Once your apples are set, turn on your dehydrator (mine does not have any particular settings, just a plug that turns it on and off) and let those babies crisp up over a twenty-four hour period, give or take a few hours depending on your machine. Rotate the layers every couple of hours or so. Make sure the apples are totally dry. If you take them out too soon and don't eat them right away they will spoil quickly.

Once they're done, allow them to cool at room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. Then enjoy! They are delicious and nutritious - and a perfect compliment to movie night.

November 4, 2014

Easiest, Yummiest Mac and Cheese


It's finally Autumn in North Texas, my favorite time of year! After another brutally hot summer, it's finally cool enough to open the windows and let some crispy fresh air come inside. Even better, it's pouring down sweet, much-needed rain right now. I have the house to myself. And I'm catching up on both my cleaning and my Netflix queue. It's a great day! Of course, a great day like this calls for some comfort food. I made chocolate oatmeal energy balls last night, so sweets are covered. The only thing missing is something cheesy. Enter the Easy Vegan Macaroni and Cheeze recipe from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I just did a quick Google search for "the best" vegan mac and cheese and this is what popped up. Oh, and guess what? It's delicious! Creamy and "cheesy," even better than the boxed stuff - vegan or otherwise. Give it a try. It's perfect for this Fall weather, and I'm 99.99% certain that I will be serving it on my Thanksgiving table this year.

EASY VEGAN MACARONI AND CHEEZE
(recipe by Susan Voisin, who writes at blog.FatFreeVegan.com)


"Besides being low-fat, this recipe is also low in sodium, so salt-lovers may need to add salt. The tahini adds a little fat but a lot of flavor; still, leave it out if you need a completely oil-free dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup plain, fat-free soymilk (may use other non-dairy milk)
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (optional, but lends creaminess and flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon mellow white miso (or additional salt)
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the pasta on to boil, according to package directions. While it’s cooking, blend water and all remaining ingredients together in a blender. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to pan. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Add a little of the pasta water if more moistness is needed.
  2. If the sauce is not as flavorful as you’d like, add a little more mustard and onion powder.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 303 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (10% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 316mg Sodium; 5g Fiber. Also, if you use nutritional yeast fortified with B-12, one serving provides 100% of the daily requirement of that vitamin."

November 3, 2014

Raspberry Waffle Syrup


I am forty-one years old and pre-menopausal. Is that something I shouldn't talk about online? I don't care! It's a living hell. And no amount of hormonal-type (i.e. of animal origin) food avoidance is helping. I'm as pimply as a teenager, and I have daily hot flashes that my daughter's Girl Scout troop director accurately described as "my own private summer." And, hey sue me buddy, but sometimes a pimply, middle-aged woman having a hot flash needs a got-dang waffle, and sometimes there's no syrup in the house. So, she hits the internet and finds a solution. In this case, it was homemade raspberry syrup. I'd purchased two cases of raspberries the day before because they were on sale for 99 cents a case, which is a steal! So, now we're here. This syrup is delicious. We were spooning it out of the saucepan before it was even cool. Give it a try, and enjoy!

HOMEMADE RASPBERRY SYRUP
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cups water with sugar. 
  • Add raspberries and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Allow mixture to simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Place the mixture in a fine, mesh sieve and press to release all of the liquid into a bowl or large cup. Return liquid to saucepan.
  • Whisk in cornstarch remaining tablespoon water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook one minute, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat. Allow to cool before serving.
  • Can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week in an airtight container.
  • Enjoy!

October 26, 2014

An Amusement Park for Bibliophiles


I am a bibliophile of the highest order, and I am proud to say that Fort Worth, TX, boasts an amazing network of libraries, complete with tons of programs for kids and adults, artistic displays, music, and lots more. But, best of all, twice a year, the library sells off their backstock of withdrawn and unused donated books for cheap - crazy cheap - and I never miss it! But, wait, it gets even better. On the final day of the sale, they let you "fill a box" with books for only $15. They provide the box, of course, but the box is of a generous size. Today, for example, my husband and I crammed a box with no less than 56 books, about a third of them hardbacks. We handed them $15 in cash and whistled all the way home. That's a cost of about 26 cents per book. I mention this here because I found some great vegan and health stuff. I don't have a photo because the books have already been dispensed to various shelves throughout my home, but I will post the Amazon pictures for you. Check it out...


The Kind Diet - This one has some strange, and possibly impossibly expensive ingredients in it, but there was a soup recipe inside that made my tastebuds tingle, so I had to get it.


Apocalypse Chow - I found this wacky little gem buried under some Junior League cookbooks. It's all vegan, weirdly enough, and some of the recipes actually look pretty good! Some examples are the "Duck and Cover" Tortilla Bake, Rice Noodles With Spicy Peanut Sauce, Polenta Fusion Fiesta and Curry In a Hurry. Yum! Plus, I live in Tornado Alley, so we lose our electricity a lot more than I care for. I think I will do well to keep this one next to the flashlights.


Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System - Well, it just so happens that I have a jug of Bragg's apple cider vinegar sitting in my pantry as I type so, naturally, I couldn't resist this book! Maybe it will "banish my obesity." It might be difficult, seeing as how I use the vinegar to bake cupcakes, but we'll see what happens...

The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies - This book is about two and a half inches thick, so you can bet it's chock full of info, and I learned a bunch of stuff I didn't know about sleep apnea and headaches just in the two minutes I took to thumb through it at the book sale. Win!


Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe and Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning - At first glance, I thought this book would basically boil down to little more than a lengthy advertisement for Seventh Generation cleaning products (which I cannot afford), but I was glad to be wrong. It has a lot of great information, including recipes for household cleaners made from everyday products like baking soda and liquid soap. I can definitely afford that!


8 Weeks to Optimum Health - I read this book when it first came out in 1997, but I wasn't vegan at the time and, while I did follow the advice about eliminating hydrogenated oils from my diet and eating more broccoli, I pretty much ignored everything else, particularly the recipes. After flipping through it today at the sale, I was stunned to see all the vegan recipes. Ginger-Carrot Soup, Grilled Tempeh Sandwiches, Kasha with Vegetables? Yes, please! There are a few salmon recipes (Dr. Weil eschews dairy entirely and advises eating no meat other than cold-water fatty fish), but only a handful, so they are easy to skip without losing a large section of the book.  


The Macrobiotic Cancer Prevention Cookbook - I was fifteen years old when this book came out in 1988. If you had told me then, in the backwaters of Waco, TX, that there are people in the world who don't eat meat and dairy because it's "healthy" I would have told you that you were "plumb crazy." I probably won't be trying the Barley Tea recipe any time soon, but the Apple-Pear Kanten and the Sweet and Sour Seitan sound pretty nice.


The Vegan Sourcebook - Joanne Stepaniak is a vegan pioneer and her recipes are fabulous. You can't go wrong with Jo-Step! I was happy to find this one. I can't wait to try the Sweet Tomato Vinaigrette recipe!



UltraPrevention - I have two other Hyman books, The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First - The Simple Way to Defeat Depression, Overcome Anxiety, and Sharpen Your Mind and Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss, which are also fairly recent acquisitions. I haven't read them yet, but I thought I'd be uber-Ultra and grab this book to pad my Hyman collection.


Okay, so that's it for the vegan and health books. I'm still kicking myself for not grabbing a Nava Atlas cookbook the second I saw it. When I went back for it, it was gone. Gah!
As I learn and cook from these new treasures, I will share my findings with you.


P.S. I also got a ton of other great books. If you're a bibliophile, like me, take a look and let me know what you think of some of my finds! I also really love recommendations too. I'll read anything from children's and teen fiction to classic ghost stories, memoirs and health books, but my favorite genre is dystopian sci-fi. If you have a book rec, lay it on me!

October 23, 2014

Yellow Yum-Yum Soup

This soup was born from a soul-stirring need to have soup, despite having only a few standard soup ingredients on hand. Like, I just NEEDED to eat some salty, hot, delicious soup. And I would stop at nothing to get it.


Even if it meant that I pulled a bunch of random stuff out of my pantry and threw it into a huge pot, salted and spiced it and then ate it up. Which is what I did. And you know what? It turned out really amazingly good! I got lucky this time. This ain't my first rodeo, and I know what tastes good, but sometimes my pantry raids turn out terribly. This soup, though, was delicious, and has now been dubbed "yellow yum-yum soup." My kid and my husband loved it!


YELLOW YUM-YUM SOUP
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
2 cans vegetable broth (using the coconut milk can)
1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons
1 15-ounce can white beans, any kind (I used great northern)
2 cubes yellow curry
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (fresh Thai basil would be even better!)
Dash of turmeric
2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
A couple of sprinkles of sesame oil, optional

  • Put the coconut milk and broth into a medium to large-sized pot. Heat and stir until just boiling.
  • Add all remaining ingredients. 
  • Simmer over medium-low heat until cabbage is just starting to get soft. About half and hour.
  • Adjust spices to taste. I like an obscene amount of lime juice. 
  • Serve hot. 
  • It's just that easy!

September 25, 2014

Sleepaway Camp Surprise


If you have ever seen the fabulously awful movie, Sleepaway Camp (1983), you already know the "surprise." I shall reveal said surprise after the recipe, so if you haven't seen the film and don't want the surprise ruined, don't scroll down past the recipe.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is a film that defies explanation or definition. It's just terribly, terribly bad. But it's so much fun to watch (seriously, it is!) it has a cult following almost on par with the Evil Dead trilogy. The original film (along with it's equally terrible predecessors) has it's own website. And the star of the film, Felissa Rose, is a frequent guest of honor at horror conventions all over the world. A Sleepaway Camp Reunion in 2001 pulled hundreds of fans who came to get a glimpse of the cast and have their t-shirts and memorabilia autographed.

In honor of Sleepaway Camp, and just good ol' summer camp food in general, I am posting a very simple, but delicious broccoli and rice casserole that is reminiscent of camp cafeteria food, but way tastier.

The recipe comes from the cookbook, The Compassionate Cook: Or, Please Don't Eat the Animals, which I was fortunate to find on the Half Price clearance rack for two dollars. Woo hoo!


BROCCOLI AND RICE CASSEROLE
from The Compassionate Cook: Or, Please Don't Eat the Animals!

"The nutritional yeast gives this casserole a 'cheesy' quality, the broccoli gives it color, and the spices give it pizzazz."

1 10-ounce package frozen broccoli florets, or 1 bunch fresh, cut into pieces
2 cups white rice (I used long-grain brown rice)
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine (I used Earth Balance buttery spread)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of turmeric
I cup of nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of paprika
  • Steam the broccoli, about six minutes.
  • Prepare the rice according to package directions.
  • Spread the cooked rice evenly over the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the broccoli over the rice and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt the margarine in a medium frying pan over low heat.
  • Beat in the flour with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and bubbly, then whisk in the boiling water, salt soy sauce, garlic and onion powders, and turmeric. 
  • Cook the sauce until it thickens and bubbles, then whip in the yeast. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the sauce over the broccoli and rice, sprinkle the top with paprika, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  • If desired place pan under broiler for a few minutes until the sauce is browned and crusty.


Okay, are you ready for the surprise?

Are you sure you're ready?!

Don't scroll down if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to ruin the ending!

That's your warning!

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!

Here it comes...

Surprise! It's a weenie!
(A vegan one, of course.)


In the final scene of Sleepaway Camp, a twist is revealed. Angela, our heroine, has killed a boy and is crouched over the body. When she is approached by two camp counselers, she stands up, stark naked, to reveal that she has a dong, is a boy, and has been a boy from the get-go. She is also, naturally, the murderer. It's nonsensical gender-bending horror hi jinx like only the 80s can produce!

And, as a very special treat to my readers, I give you this...