Saturday, April 28, 2012

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's cold and rainy, so I thought I'd make some warm chocolate chip cookies today.  I was given a cookbook, not too long ago, called "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook."  It's a cookbook for people with gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, nut, or sesame allergies.  It was given to me because all the recipes are vegan.  I don't actually have any of these allergies.  The "Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies" recipe is the first one I've tried from the book.


I creamed my wet ingredients, and added my dry ingredients.  I looked at the "dough" and thought, "This doesn't look right." It was very dry and crumbly.  I added about a half a tablespoon of olive oil.  Still didn't look right.  I added a half a tablespoon of water.  Still crumbly.  Finally, I just started pouring water in it (don't laugh) until it became a sticky dough consistency.  This recipe uses "Ener-G" egg replacer, and it's the first time I've used it.  It's made of tapioca and potato starch and binds the dough like eggs would.  After re-reading the recipe a third time, I realized that I hadn't mixed the egg replacer with rice milk before adding it to the wet ingredients!

I posted on facebook that I would let you know if they're edible, and they are! Whew! In fact, they're perfect.  Soft and chewy on the inside with crunchy edges, and warm gooey chocolate! And the best part...absolutely no animal fat, so you can eat more than one! (I use dark chocolate chips without milk fat.)


This isn't my first cooking mistake.  What kind of silly mistakes have you made in the kitchen?

Jessica


Friday, April 27, 2012

No Cheese "Mac & Cheese"

This was my third attempt at vegan Mac & Cheese, and I think I was finally successful.  Vegan recipes generally call for nutritional yeast in the "cheese" sauce, and it just does not taste good to me. My first two attempts were not edible.  The "cheese" sauce in this recipe is made with vegetables.  The potatoes give it the creamy consistency, and the carrots give it that cheesy color.


 
No Cheese "Mac & Cheese"

1/2 lb elbow macaroni
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
1/2 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 c. diced yellow onion
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. raw cashews
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
 (or even less if you have kids) 

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a casserole dish.

Prepare macaroni according to package instructions. Boil in heavily salted water. Drain and set aside.

Sauce instructions:

Combine potatoes, carrots, onion, cashews, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10 minutes. Boiling the cashews softens them to make a creamy sauce.

Put the oil, salt, garlic, dry mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne, and cooked ingredients with the cooking water into a blender and process until smooth and creamy.  You could also use an immersion blender.

Stir the macaroni and the "cheese" sauce together until pasta is completely covered.  Transfer into the casserole dish.  Bake for 15-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling.


 You could always top this off with bread crumbs before baking, or mix in some broccoli, depending on what your family likes.

I'm not going to lie and say it tastes exactly like cheese, but it does taste good.  And, it's a healthy alternative to dairy. I don't have kids, but I would love for someone to make it, and see if your kids notice a difference.  It's a great way to hide vegetables in their food!

Jessica



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes

Tonight our family celebrated my in-laws' wedding anniversary.  I knew exactly what I wanted to make for dessert. Chloe's Award-Winning Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes from my Chloe's Kitchen cookbook!  These vegan cupcakes made Chef Chloe Coscarelli the winner of Cupcake Wars.

The dry ingredients include ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.  My kitchen smelled so good while they were baking!


I mixed the batter and baked the cupcakes a day ahead and put them in the freezer.


The beautiful color comes from the pumpkin puree in the wet ingredients.  The cupcakes have vanilla buttercream frosting (no butter, though) and a date caramel drizzled over the top.  When I saw that the recipe called for medjool dates, I wondered where in the world I'd find them!  But, I found them in bulk at my local natural market.


I got up this morning and frosted them while they were still frozen.  The buttercream frosting is delicious!




Here they are below in my cupcake courier ready to take to dinner.  They were a big hit with my nieces and nephew!


I have some of the date caramel left over.  Since there's no sugar added...just dates, maple-agave mix, and cinnamon, I think I'll save it to drizzle over my waffles!

I hope you've had a great weekend!  And remember, you can now follow Little Miss Vegetarian on Pinterest! http://pinterest.com/littlemissveg/

Thanks for reading!
Jessica

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Smoothies for Two

The weather changes from day-to-day around here.  It's nice and warm today, so after going to my nephew's baseball game, I decided to make smoothies.

I asked facebook readers to post their best-tasting healthy smoothie recipes for me to try.  Nearly everyone who commented listed the same ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, banana, and yogurt.  I had intended to use strawberry soy yogurt, but at the last minute decided to add creamy canned coconut milk instead.  I also used agave nectar for a natural sweetener.

Here is my recipe for Smoothies for Two!
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple tidbits
  • 1/4 cup lite canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup blue agave nectar
  • 1/2 a banana, sliced
Pulse all ingredients in blender.



Thanks Garnett, Amanda H., and Robin for suggesting these ingredients! What a delicious smoothie!

Jessica

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Break Grand Finale

Most of spring break, I was stuck inside with pneumonia and had to rest.  I started feeling better this weekend, just when the weather started warming up. Perfect timing!

This morning I woke up and realized that it's the last day of spring break.  I sat out on my porch and drank a hot cup of tea, listened to a beautiful story/sermon by my pastor, did some yoga, and decided that I wanted to go to the beach!

Today was warm with a blue sky! My husband sat and happily read a book.  I was out in the freezing cold water searching for shells! I'm always in search of beauty, and was so excited to find a sand dollar!




Once I got home and got the sand washed out of my hair, we went out to eat for our 5th anniversary dinner.  We started with this light, airy, crispy fococcia bread, dipped in olive oil.  Ahhhhh!


My husband likes to study the menu and listen to the specials. I have been to this restaurant several times for special occasions and always get the same thing!



I knew exactly what I wanted, and yes, I asked for it hot! I love spicy food!  And this is, by far, the SPICIEST food I've ever had. I had tears going down my face, but I enjoyed every bit of it.  Here it is! Broccoli & Ziti with cherry peppers and crushed red peppers.


My husband decided on the Salmon with Fresh Dill.  He said it was buttery and delicious!


And here I am, the girl who plops her camera down on the dinner table and takes pictures of food.

I'm thankful for days like these. Did you capture a blue sky, find something beautiful, or eat something so delicious it made you cry (haha)? I would love to hear about it.

Jessica

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Apartment Gardening

Now that the pollen has finally settled down some, I decided to do a little gardening today...my absolute favorite thing to do! I live in an apartment, so I have one flower bed to work with.

I've always wanted to have a pot filled with a variety of herbs for cooking.  So, my husband went with me to a home and garden store and waited patiently (ahem) while I picked out the perfect pot!


I planted some Dill, Greek Oregano, German Thyme, and Boxwood Basil.   This is the first year I've tried the Boxwood Basil.  It has smaller leaves than regular Basil, so you don't have to chop it up for cooking.

Dill

I think the Greek Oregano is so pretty. Hello pizza!

Boxwood Basil


My husband gave me this Lemon Balm last year and it has become a massive plant.  Supposedly, you can make tea from Lemon Balm to help calm anxiety.


This is my Foxglove plant.  It has already attracted some bees.  But, I'm hoping for hummingbirds!


We had such a mild winter that our Dianthus never died and it's in full bloom in our flower bed!

Dianthus


We planted some of the herbs in the flower bed too.

Greek Oregano


I love seeing our Hostas pop up out of the ground in spring!



Our Hens and Chicks always come back to life, no matter how much we neglect them over winter.




I have been suffering severely with allergies this year.  Today my husband went out and swept all of the pollen off of our porch and cleaned off the furniture. Doesn't it look nice??  I cant wait to spend some spring and summer nights sitting out there!

I am obviously not an expert gardener.  If you have any tips or advice, please share!  If you've been doing some gardening yourself, I would love for you to post some pictures on the Little Miss Vegetarian facebook page!

For God is sheer beauty, all generous in love, loyal always and ever.
Psalm 100:5

Don't you just love how God reveals himself through nature? Happy Gardening!

Jessica

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Break Cupcake

I'm on spring break this week, and it makes me a lot less grumpy about cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and making dinner.  I'm not rushing around trying to do these things in the midst of lesson plans, grades, and parent emails.  (And I know those of you with kids are thinking, "She has no idea what life is really about." But, I do work hard.)

Anyway, today I decided to make some cupcakes...for no particular reason at all. Yes, they're vegan.  No animal products, no guilt.  They're very cute, so I thought I'd share.  I took them to my husband and his co-workers.



Remember Hostess cupcakes with the creme filling? Well, I got this recipe from my Chef Chloe cookbook and they're called, "Chlostess Creme-Filled Cupcakes."

First, I baked the chocolate cupcakes, then filled them with the creme frosting. The frosting recipe calls for non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening.  Mine had expired, so I substituted with coconut oil.  It worked perfectly, but it does have a distinct coconut flavor.  So, keep that in mind if you don't like coconut.

A note about coconut oil: It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, which helps fight heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.


Then, I spread a chocolate ganache over the top. The ganache is made with chocolate and coconut milk.


Finally, I piped a loop design over the top with the creme frosting.


And this is what it looks like when you cut it open! Mmmmm!

Here's the recipe! Enjoy!

Whether you're on spring break or not, I hope you can find a few peaceful moments this week!

The LORD bless you
   and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
   and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
   and give you peace. 
~Number 6:24-26

Jessica