Friday, June 29, 2012

33 Dollars a Week

Do you think you could purchase enough healthy food for a week with just $33?  I read an article this week about author Rory Freedman, who took a $33 food stamp challenge.  According to her article, this is how much a person on food stamps in California has to spend on groceries each week.

This got me thinking...not about doing the challenge.  Eating healthy on $33 a week is totally doable for me.  But, I thought about how many times I make a list, rush out to the store and buy groceries, and forget to see what I already have at home.  Sometimes I come home with a can of beans I already have, or another stalk of celery because the one I have got pushed to the back of the fridge.

So, I decided to try to use up some of the things I have at home this week before going for my weekly grocery shopping.  Here's what I had tonight:

  • brown basmati rice with a smoky chipotle sauce that I had in the fridge.
  • sauteed bell peppers and onions (79 cents for the pepper)
  • black beans (89 cents)
  • sliced cucumber with red wine vinegar and salt & pepper (50 cents for the cucumber)






This may not have been my first choice for dinner, or the fancy new recipe I wanted to try out for my blog, but I felt completely full and satisfied after eating it.  My husband said it was the perfect combination of flavors.  And the cucumbers helped cool us down after eating the spicy rice.

What do you have in YOUR refrigerator or pantry that you could use up this week before running out to the store to buy more?


Jessica

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe!

Many of you have asked for this recipe, and of course, it's nowhere to be found online!  So yes, because I love you, I am going to type it out for you! :) I will post pictures of the special ingredients, so you know what to look for in the store.

This is the second time I've made these vegan chocolate chip cookies.  They're better than any other chocolate chip cookies I've made.  The recipe makes 24 cookies, and I have literally eaten almost all of them in a day! Thankfully for my waistline, they have no animal fat. Even still, I don't need to be eating that many! Beware: They are especially good when they're warm!


Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes (24) 2 1/2 inch cookies

Recipe by Cybele Pascal

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (I used organic)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/14 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 3 tablespoons rice milk (Read what happens when you forget to mix with rice milk.)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt ( I used sea salt.)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of dairy-free chocolate chips (Read the label to make sure they don't contain milk fat)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray two baking sheets.

2. In a bowl, cream shortening, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until slight and fluffy for about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla and the egg replacer (that has been mixed with rice milk!) and mix for about 20 seconds.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the flour mixture to the creamed batter, mixing on low speed, just until the batter comes together.

5. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

6. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheets.  Roll into balls, spacing the cookies a couple inches apart.  Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack.

 Look for these ingredients on the natural food aisle of your grocery store, or at a natural market:


Enjoy your cookies!

Jessica




Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Braid

First things first! My new favorite ingredient is whole wheat pastry flour!  You've got to try it in your recipes.  You get healthy whole wheat without it being heavy.  I used it in my soft pretzels and in this bread.

Last night I had a burst of energy and the house to myself.  That's the best time for me to make a mess in the kitchen!  I was looking through a new cookbook I got at the library called, "Big Vegan," and I decided to make the Cinnamon Raisin Braid for our breakfast this weekend.


Although it took a couple of hours to make (it has to rise twice), it was really easy to make.  You can get the recipe here (free) on Google books.  Here are the substitutions I made:

Instead of whole wheat flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour.
Instead of bread machine yeast, I used fast rise yeast. (They might be the same, I'm not sure.)
I used rice milk as my non-dairy milk.
Instead of sugar, I used agave nectar.













I am such a morning person.  It's sickening to those who aren't.  It's my happiest time of day!  I was so excited to wake up this morning, have my hot tea and a slice of this bread!  I toasted it for a few minutes and spread some Earth Balance "butter" on it.  It has a nice crispy crust and is so light and flaky on the inside.  I think it's the pastry flour! 


It's so nice to have a few minutes to sit and be still after a busy week.  I hope you can find a few minutes to be still this weekend too!



"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10
 
Jessica

P.S. I have no idea why Blogger is putting such strange spaces between my pictures!








Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soft Pretzels

Several of you have asked me for this recipe.  Thank you for being so patient!  I'm a teacher, and my "summer off" has been anything but a summer off, so far.

Recently I went to a local minor-league baseball game.  I just love those soft, chewy pretzels covered in salt.  But, first of all, they're expensive.  Second of all, I don't know what kind of ingredients are in them.  I decided to make them myself the next day, and I was so surprised at how great they turned out! Especially since I substituted half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour.  They were slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. They are completely vegan- no animal products. Just perfect!





Vegan Soft Pretzels
by Peas and Thank You
Makes 4 large twists
  • 3/4 c. warm water (110 to 115 degrees
  • 2 t. organic sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. active dry yeast (1/2 of a packet)
  • 2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance), melted
  • 10 c. water
  • 2/3 c. baking soda
  • coarse ground sea salt
Combine water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit until foamy, about five minutes.  Add melted vegan margarine and flour, and using a dough hook, knead dough for five minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and let rise for an hour.

Once dough has risen, separate it into four sections. Using your hands, floured if necessary, roll dough into a 24 inch long strand, and shape into a pretzel knot. Transfer pretzels to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bring water and baking soda to a boil, and drop a pretzel in one at a time, boiling for approximately 30 seconds.

Remove pretzel with a spider or a slotted spatula and transfer to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Repeat for remaining pretzels and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes.


(And, of course, serve with spicy mustard!)

I hope you enjoy! Ahhh, they're so good!

Jessica

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Granola bars make a great snack, but they can be expensive.  So, I decided to make my own.  I started following a recipe, but ended up changing some things.  Below is the recipe I actually used. They're so quick and easy to make, and will save you money! This recipe makes 12 bars. If you like yours really sweet, you might want to add more sugar.  These are only slightly sweet.





Mmmm! Look at that melted chocolate!
  • 2 c. quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. organic sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips (w/o milkfat Check the ingredients!)
  • 1/2 c. nut butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 1/4 c. + 1 T. agave nectar
  • 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T. ground flax seed + 6 T. water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flax and water.  Set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in mixing bowl. (except cocoa powder)

Stir in raisins and chocolate chips.  In a separate bowl, combine agave nectar, sugar, nut butter, and cocoa powder, and mix until smooth.  Combine nut butter mixture with flax/water mixture.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well.

Press into a greased 8x11 pan and bake for 15 minutes.

After they have cooled some, cut them into 12 bars and place them on a cooling rack.


I am going to continue making them and trying different combinations of ingredients.  What's your favorite granola bar flavor?

Jessica