Holiday Toffee Bars

‘Tis the season to get baking!  Vegan toffee bars we shall bake!

This recipe was adopted from the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur’s English Toffee Squares

Toffee Choco Nut Squares

Makes 24 bars (aprox.)

1 cup Earth Balance butter

1/2 cup pack brown sugar

1/2 cup vegan cane sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup mixed chopped nuts (we used peanuts, almonds, pecans, and pine nuts)

Directions:

Cream together the butter and sugar.

Once fluffy and light, add the vanilla.  Sift and then stir in the flours until incorporated.  The batter will be moist and somewhat crumbly.

Prepare an 8X8 baking dish by covering the bottom and sides with parchment paper, letting the paper hang a little above the sides of the pan to make removal easier; press the batter in firmly.

(we doubled the recipe so this is a 9X11 in. baking dish pictured here)

Bake in a 350 F preheated oven for 15 minutes (we baked it for a few minutes more – 17 min. – each oven will vary); check to make sure the crust is golden and firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, prepare the nut topping by placing the nuts into a food processor and process to your liking.

When the crust is done, remove it from the oven (I love this part) sprinkle on the chocolate chips and return it to the oven for a minute longer to melt the chips; spread the chocolate evenly over the crust.

Sprinkle on the nut mixture and let rest for 2-3 hours at room temperature (or in the fridge/freezer for a shorter time span) so the chocolate can set; do not leave them at rest for too long if they’re not cut, the chocolate gets very hard and may crack unevenly.  Remove from the pan gently using the parchment paper for support.  Place onto a cutting board and cut into the desired amount of bars.  Let these rest anther hour or so at room temperature before wrapping or transporting (but eating can definitely be done at this point 😉 ).

These make the perfect holiday gift! Even your non-vegan friends will be begging for more! Next time (which will be in just a few days…) I’m going to get creative with the toppings i.e. crushed candy cane, chopped dried cranberries, or maybe I’ll spread the bars with some raspberry jam and then drizzle on some chocolate… Oh I’m brainstorming now!!

Now go get creative!!!

December 18, 2010 at 12:42 am 1 comment

Eggplant Parm.. minus the parm.

Eggplant was on sale this week at Whole Foods so I grabbed a few when I was at the store.  Tonight’s dinner is Vegan Eggplant Parmesan, but we omitted the parmesan! Julie came over and we made a night of it! Eggplant Parm and Paper Heart on Netflix!!

The eggplant came out amazing! I love when Ryan cooks!! 🙂

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4

1 large eggplant

Oil for frying

Flour, water mixed with flour, and Italian seasoned bread crumbs (all for dredging the eggplant discs; measurements vary)

1 box whole wheat spaghetti

Water, for boiling the pasta

Pasta sauce, jarred or homemade (today we used jarred: Newman’s Own Tomato and Basil)

Directions:

Wash the eggplant; slice into thin discs.

Prepare your wet and dry batters.  The first dredge is in flour, we started with about 1/2 cup and ultimately had to add a little more.  After the flour, the eggplant disc gets dipped into a wet batter of about 1/2 cup water and 2 Tbsp. of flour (to thicken the water slightly).  After the wet batter, the eggplant is covered with the Italian seasoned bread crumbs.  Place the prepared eggplant discs on a parchment lined baking sheet.


Heat some canola oil in a skillet, enough to do a shallow fry, then fry the battered eggplant, 4 or 5 slices at a time.  Cook until the batter becomes golden browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Remove the cooked slices and place on a parchment lines baking sheet.

Continue like this until all of the eggplant is cooked.  Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente and heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan.

Now put everything together: some spaghetti on the plate, top it with some sauce and then place one some eggplant slices.  We also added some nutritional yeast and sesame seeds on top for some extra flavor.

 

Kombucha Update!!


Look at how much he’s grown!! I had to wrap it in my warmest sweater though to try to keep a steady temperature.

All in all I think know it’s working!  One more week until it’s bottled and flavored!

December 15, 2010 at 11:51 pm 1 comment

Spicy Sweet Potato Home Fries

I love the holidays!!!


And there’s nothing like Christmas morning breakfast! Home fries are definitely on my vegan food pyramid… But I thought I was up for a little change to the original… Sweet potato!  Hopefully your family, and mine, will be enjoying these in just 15 days!!!! (scary thought right?)

 

Sweet Potato Baked Home Fries

Serves 4

2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

Dash of paprika (or more if your morning can handle it…)

Ample sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Scrub the potatoes well; slice first into rings by cutting end to end then cut each circle into triangles by slicing it in half twice.  I just love this method because I always get pieces that are the same size.

Place all the chunks into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients; toss to coat.

Spread onto a baking sheet, being sure that they are in a single layer, and bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 8 minutes; flip after the 8 minutes and bake 8 more.  Since the cubes are small they won’t take long at all.

Carefully remove each one and put in to a dish for serving; serve hot!

Now here’s something that is sweet and spicy and will satisfy just as good as a cookie 😉 maybe…

December 10, 2010 at 9:33 am 1 comment

Cookies, cookies, mooooreee cooookkies!

So lately Ryan and I have been obsessing over our new Netflix account… all we do is watch documentaries!!! There are so many interesting one’s out there! And the bonus? When I should be studying, but I’m watching Netflix, I reassure myself that I am furthering my learning because it’s a documentary!!! BONUS!!

I wanted to share a hilarious, yet disappointing clip that I saw in the documentary Killer at Large (which was by the way extremely interesting and informative!!), but I couldn’t find it.  So you’ll just have to watch the movie for yourselves…

But to keep you busy, here’s a different, yet still hilarious, clip about the cookie monster, or as some angrily call him, the veggie monster!! I just find it so bizarre that parents will actually protest something that is healthy. They say that they will inform their children about cookies and vegetables and the right decisions, which by the way they are not doing a great job seeing as childhood obesity and childhood diabetes is sky rocketing, but why not children see the vegetables then their parents can teach them that COOKIES are a sometimes food? I’m ranting… and when I rant my sentences run on… here’s a clip…

And now for a recipe… of course IT’S COOKIES!!! This recipe was based on a recipe from wholefoodsmarket.com.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Serves 24

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup oat flour (I put some old-fashioned oats in the food processor)

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2-2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (because this spice mix literally works in everything)

Dash of cardamom

3/4 cup Earth Balance butter

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup organic vegan cane sugar

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. flax meal + 3 Tbsp. water, combine and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes before using)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup molasses

Directions:

Add the flours, baking soda, salt and spices into a medium bowl and whisk together to combine and aerate.

In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and both sugars;cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flax egg, vanilla, and molasses; mix until fully combined.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients, with the mixer on low, until just combined.

Use a scoop, tablespoon, or regular spoon to portion out the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Leave 1-1 1/2 inches between cookies, but even if they cook together it is easy to get them apart before they cool.  Sprinkle each cookie with a little bit of sugar in the raw, or any large crystal sugar.

Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 10-12 minutes.  Let sit a minute or so before moving them because they will break.  Then dry on a drying rack.

I noticed that my first batch, which I left in the oven for 10 minutes, turned out to be a little more chewy than the cookies I left in for the full 12 minutes, which, after drying on the drying rack, became crunchy.  It was hard to choose which texture I liked better…

ENJOY!! But remember… cookies are a sometimes food and should be eaten in moderation… unless you are indeed a cookie monster (like me) then you can enjoy them anytime you please!!

And to balance out all of the sugar I have eaten… I made a vegan quesadilla!!! I literally melted at the deliciousness because I haven’t had, nor attempted to make, a quesadilla in so long!! Now I might be obsessed….

December 9, 2010 at 1:31 am 1 comment

Birthdays and Kombucha!!

Yesterday was my friend Annaliessa’s birthday!! Yay!! I just had to make some cupcakes!! I used the Applebutter cake recipe, but put the batter into cupcake tins instead of a pan and since I used up all my applebutter (sadly) I used applesauce.  Then I topped it with some spiced buttercream frosting… seriously amazing frosting.  If I could eat it by the spoon I would (unfortunately nutrition students frown upon the whole spoonful of frosting idea…)

 

I loosely followed the buttercream frosting recipe from The Vegan Table, but added my own kick to it!  Spice!!

 

Spiced Buttercream frosting

Makes about 3/4-1 cup frosting

1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar (sifted or not)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. almond milk (plain, unsweetened)

 

Directions:

Beat the Earth Balance with a mixer (or a spatula if you’re ready to build some muscle) until lighter in color and fluffy.

 

Add the powdered sugar, by the 1/4 cup full, until incorporated.  Beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the almond milk when necessary, but make sure you don’t use more than the 2 tablespoons!  That would just result in a sloppy mess!!

Add the remaining ingredients, slowly.  Beat a few minutes to aerate.

Scoop the frosting into a piping bag or a ziplock freezer bag.  Unfortunately I had to throw away my pastry bags, so my pastry tips sit around lonely 😦 I used a small ziplock freezer bag with a bit of the bottom corner cut out, it worked ok…

Don’t judge my sloppiness… I woke up early before school to frost these puppies and I think they came out gorgeous!

 

Happy Birthday Annaliessa!!!

 

And in other news….

 

I FINALLY STARTED MY BATCH OF KOMBUCHA!

I’ve been waiting and anticipating my kombucha… and now finally it is time!

Lovely Betsy (the wonderful human who brought some great gingerbread biscotti to friends-giving) was kind enough to give me a “mother” from her kombucha stock.  I squealed as I peeked inside the large yogurt container… the “mother” looks like a live creature…

Well… I guess, it is a live creature… but you’ve got to admit, it looks like some kind of sea creature, right?  MY sea creature!!

I brewed some green tea, dissolved in some sugar and dropped that kombucha “mother” into her new environment.  Now it’s time to cross my fingers and hope she ferments!!

 

 

 

Has anyone ever made kombucha before?

December 4, 2010 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Pizza Dreams

If there’s one thing I miss terribly since going vegan… It’s pizza.

I’m assuming most vegans agree. Pizza is, in a word, magical.

Late last night, while trying to fall asleep, I conjured up a pizza that would leave me satisfied and not missing the cheese-laden pizzas of ye olde days. The ingredients in my mind were: white bean puree, roasted red peppers, some kind of vegan sausage, caramelized onions and spinach. I was so excited to make this pizza that I actually couldn’t fall asleep (anyone else think of recipe ideas while trying to sleep?)

A word of caution: I made the white bean paste and the caramelized onions that afternoon and just refrigerated them, until they were ready to be used. This saves time during the actual pizza-making, as creating the dough etc is a bit of a process. If you have time to kill earlier in the day, I recommend to do so, so that you’re not running around your kitchen (like I usually am). Also, you could definitely use pre-made pizza dough, no shame in that.

White Bean Veggie Sausage Pizza

Preheat oven to 500*.

White Bean Puree:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1 15-ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed. You can use cannelini too.
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage, or 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Pour water into a saucepan, add garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Add beans and return to a boil. Drain the beans and garlic, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Transfer the beans and garlic to a food processor. Add oil and process, adding just enough of the reserved cooking liquid to make a thick, smooth paste. Stir in sage and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Should look like this:

Dough:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • some cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

Directions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water (not too hot!!). Let stand for 5 minutes, the mixture should be nice and foamy. Add the flours and salt to the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for a while, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should feel slightly sticky.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in an oven with only the light turned on. Wait about 30-40 minutes, until it’s doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and roll into a 10 or 11 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on either a baking sheet OR cast iron skillet (I did this) and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Lightly spray the surface of the dough with cooking spray.

Now the fun part: spread the white bean puree on your pizza dough and top with the caramelized onions. You can use any veggies and toppings you like, of course. Go crazy. I chose roasted sweet peppers, olive oil, chopped spinach and diced apple sage vegan sausage. And salt and pepper.

This vegan sausage I picked up at whole foods. It was kinda pricey, $5.99, but doesn’t smoked apple sage just sound so good?! Oh, and that’s my cats head to the left.

Anyways, now just bake it. Bake it for 8-12 minutes (whenever your crust starts to get golden/brown, take it out). It should a little like this:

December 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm 2 comments

Black Friday Meals!

Couldn’t wake up for the black Friday deals today, so instead I decided to make some black friday meals! I know what you’re thinking… yesterday was Thanksgiving, how can I be making more food?! There’s always time.

First let me explain to you what I had for my vegan Thanksgiving dinner at the family’s house:

Lentil Loaf smothered in vegan gravy (recipe follows)

Stuffing

Baked chickpeas

Steamed green beans

Earth Balance buttered mashed taters

Salad with balsamic vinaigrette and black olives

and for dessert warm apple crisp literally from oven to plate!

The vegan lentil loaf was a creation from many different recipes: The Vegan Table’s Old Fashioned Lentil Loaf, The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook’s Lentil loaf, and Whole Foods Market’s Celebration Lentil Loaf

Thanksgiving Lentil Loaf

Serves 10-12

2 cups lentils, dry

2 cups quinoa, cooked

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

8 garlic cloves

10 oz. mushrooms (we used white)

1/4 cup (unfortunately a little less) red onion

2/3 – 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

2 tsp. fresh sage

1/4 tsp. each of thyme, paprika, and onion powder

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

Put the lentils in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer, covered, until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, saute all the vegetables with the oil in a skillet until crisp tender, they will cook the rest of the way through in the oven.


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

Press firmly into a large (16X9) baking dish…

and bake in a 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes or until set and darkened on the top.

Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

… I want to tweak this recipe, it was very filling and great tasting, but it needed moisture.  I wanted to add some onion, but we were all out, and that would have definitely added some great moisture.  Also, a half cup of vegetable broth added along with bread crumbs may add the needed moisture to counter the dry breadcrumbs.  All in all though I gave this a thumbs up!!

And…

Today we made a great apple cake!! This was based on another recipe I saw in The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook.

Applebutter Cake

Serves 6

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups apple butter

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. each nutmeg and ginger

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup raisins, rehydrated

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped


Directions:

Mix the oil and the sugar in a bowl until well incorporated;

add the applebutter and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together with a whisk, all the dry ingredients.


Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat/mix until smooth.


Pour into a lightly oiled and floured 9X13 pan (or a loaf pan)…

and bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool on a drying rack then enjoy plain or with a little bit of vegan buttercream on top!!

Another black Friday meal we had today was leftover kale soup…

What a great start to the day 🙂

Now it’s time to join all the shoppin’ crazies out there and get our shop on! The runners high from yesterday’s Volvo 5K is still with me!!  Here we go…

November 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm 1 comment

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