Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

Just a quick note, wanting to wish you all a 

*~*~ Happy New Year 2013 *~* !!!

 Hopefully you won't feel like this cat after the holidays! ;)

To finish this year off, just a few pics of dishes I've been making these past weeks! (Some are repeat recipes I've blogged about before.)

'Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites'

 My own 'creation' (cooking 1 c lentils & 1 c rice w/4 c water in my rice cooker, steaming some carrots at the same time. Adding some peas, salt & pepper, done!)

From 'Oh She Glows'

I honestly can't remember right now from which cookbook that recipe was! *eek*
I hope I'll remember as it was darn tasty too!!!

 My veganized version of Cleo Coyle's Doughnut Muffins 

And of course, for today on New Year's Eve, a black-eyed peas dish , thanks to Susan from Fat Free Vegan (click link).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I know, I know... it's been too long since I've blogged the last time.. for Thanksgiving as a matter of fact.. and here we are, at the next holiday!

Life was very busy & stressful these past months and I just had no extra spare time or better say not the right calmness to blog.. Mea culpa!!!
I won't promise to get better -yet!- since we're about to face a big avalanche of action within those next upcoming months!  End of February we're [finally!] leaving Sicily, after almost 5 years of having lived here then, and return to PA with a short stop-over in VA. 
Before we're sitting in the plane for the USA we'll have quite a bit to do though, with our move etc. so please forgive me if this blog will be 'dormant' for a while! ;-)
[I will try to blog a few more times before that though! I'm just not promising anything, just in case... ;) ]

For now, let me wish you all a very 

and a wonderful & happy New Year 2013!!! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

 I'm a few days late wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving 2012, please forgive me! Life just got busier than usual...
Anyhow, I hope you all had a wonderful time with your loved ones and a great feast of vegan yummy dishes!? :) 

For us it was our last Thanksgiving here in Sicily, Italy, and we were truly in celebrating mood for that fact alone! (We've been here since late spring 2008, it's time to move on now!)
Next year at this time we're hopefully already in our own house, all settled in and setting roots for good! ;) [For anyone who didn't follow my intro, my husband is in the Navy and about to retire, so we're moving back to PA -Hubby's 'home turf'- and settling down!]

After having had various versions of lentil or bean loaves in the past for Thanksgiving or even Christmas, I originally decided to put Isa's Chickpea Cutlets on the table and prepped them actually already a day before.
Then, Thanksgiving morning I spontaneously decided to give Tamasin Noyes' Gobbler Slices a try and O.M.G. am I glad I did!!!
They were amazing and most shockingly Hubby was raving about how good it was and how he's not missing a turkey at all! (I think it's been a few years since he had one now anyway, but still! This kind of comment coming from an omni is huge! ;) )

So together with those Gobbler Slices we had roasted Brussel sprouts (which I used to hate up until being in my late 20's.. Can you believe it!? Now I'm loving them!!!), and roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, corngreen beans, Hubby made his candied yams, stuffing, home made Miso gravy (for me) and last not least Lindsay's crustless Pumpkin Pie with coconut cream. We're for sure stuffed like birds at the end of the evening! LOL

It sure was a lot of food for 2 adults and only 1 child eating with us! The other one got his beloved (Annie's) Mac 'n Cheese! LOL
The 'sparkly' grape juice was the highlight for the kids! ^_^

They might not look appetizing in the pic, but the taste was seriously amazing!

I could have eaten the entire tray by myself, seriously! Sooo good!
(Just drizzled with a bit of coconut oil, tossed around and baked for ~30 minutes at 350F, afterwards sprinkled with some pink Himalayan salt and pepper, done!)

For sure *the* best pumpkin pie I've ever had so far!!! Love the fact that it's not such a calorie bomb either and together with the coconut cream just a perfect way to end a delicious dinner! ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I've come across a great recipe, shared by another fellow member of my Goodreads vegan cooking group (thanks again, 'Blueberries'! :) ) and had to give it a try right away! 
It is de-li-cious!!!

I've made a few modifications (replacing the real egg with Ener-G; also using only ~1 c of white raisins and I used vanilla chai tea -mixing it all on that very day, not letting it soak overnight!) and baked it for only 1 hour, covered with tin foil.
Oh, I also didn't have lemon peel but used Valencia orange peel (dried) instead.

Here's the original recipe: Irish Tea Brack

 After reading that the round form is more traditional, I went with it and it turned out perfect!

 It's truly a great mix between a soft sponge cake and bread!!!

Of course, at this time of the year a pumpkin pie has to be made as well! ;)
I used Lindsay's (Happy Herbivore) recipe and it turned out perfect!
I whipped up some coconut cream quickly (I've posted about it here: Coconut cream ) and it was the ideal combo!!! (Sorry no pic, the family was like a bunch of hyenas, all wanting a piece of pie, no time for pics! LOL)


Wishing you all a Happy Halloween!
Be safe! (Especially if you're on the East Coast! Thinking of you all and hoping hurricane Sandy will be gone soon!!!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zucchini Soup and more bread! ;)

I don't know about you, but I love zucchini! I love them in zucchini bread, I love them sliced and baked in the oven, I like them as a lasagna... and of course I love them in soup!!! (No big surprise there, right!? ;) )

So while I never really had a firm recipe to follow for a soup, I came up with a creation 2 days ago that I have to share as it was sooo good!!! Hubby couldn't stop raving -and that means a lot! (That's my personal 5* rating if he continues to go on and on how yummy a dish is! LOL)

~* Creamy Zucchini soup*~

*1 onion, diced
*3 medium zucchini, diced
*3 medium/large potatoes, diced
*4 c veggie broth (or water)
*~1/2 c plant milk (I used home made coconut milk)
*~1 Tbsp coconut oil (or any other oil of your choice)
*spices as salt, pepper, curry!

Sautee the onion in the coconut oil until translucent
Add some of the broth (or water) as well as the diced zucchini & potatoes.
Pour the rest of the broth (or water) in as well as the plant milk and add salt, pepper as well as some curry powder (all to your taste!).

If using a pressure cooker [like I did], let the pressure come up, cook for 3 minutes under pressure, remove from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally for a few minutes and then release it under cold water manually completely.
Once the lid is removed, use a stick blender to blend the soup.
Done! ;)

Note: If you don't have  a pressure cooker (though you should really get one! ^_^) you can simply cook the soup in a regular pot for ~25-30 minutes or however long it takes until the potatoes are done! (I don't even remember how long it takes since I *always* use my pressure cooker! LOL)

So simple and yet so delicious!!!
The ratio of zucchini/potato was just right! :)

Now onto the bread recipe! 
I bought a pack of whole flax seeds today (Bob's Red Mill) and couldn't help but notice a recipe for bread on the back!
Of course I had to give it a try immediately and what can I say!? It's AWESOME!!!

~* 3-Seed Bread*~

*1 1/4 c water
*2 Tbsp Honey (or agave syrup)
*2 Tbsp oil (I used canola)
*2 c unbleached white flour (I used bread flour)
*1 c whole wheat flour
*1 1/2 tsp sea salt
*1/3 c whole flax seeds
*2 Tbsp sunflower seed kernels
*1 Tbsp poppy seeds
*2 tsp active dry yeast

Add all ingredients to the bread machine according to the recommendations of the bread machine manufacturer and select basic bread cycle. (I actually chose the whole wheat cycle by accident and also chose the speedy option where it only baked for 2.5 hrs vs. almost 4 and it came out perfect!)

Let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

It was seriously amazing! It's soo fluffy inside and I love all the seeds!


Disclaimer: Yes, I use raw honey we get from a small local beekeeper!
While I know, many might now claim that I am not a 'true' vegan, but I personally don't agree with that kind of debate! 
To me it has many more health benefits than not and to be honest it's also not the same as if I would consume dairy or eggs from mammals! Just my 0.02$!
Let's please not fight over this subject and just move on, shall we?
Live and let live! ;)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plant milk

I think I might have mentioned it over a year ago when I was trying to make my own plant milk for the first time. I think, back then it was oat milk, which to this day I enjoy (maybe not necessarily for plain drinking but for my cereal).

This time I experimented with a few different kinds of items and have to say: 
I am NOT a hemp seeds lover! *blech* As a matter of fact, I think the experiment for that particular kind of 'milk' (plus a previous failed attempt to make 'hemp seed sour cream' *double blech* from a recipe..) turned me off hemp seeds completely!!! *yuck* I want to scrape my tongue off the nasty taste just thinking of it!..

I mean, I was hesitant to bake with it anyway as my husband is quite cautious of the outcome of a screening, which the military members have to undergo randomly several times a year... (even though all online sources say it's fine, his doc said it would be probably safer just to avoid it as even a large amount of ingested poppy seeds can pop you positive! *wow*) but now I'm for sure not going to make anything with it! I'm only glad it wasn't that expensive!..
[Ironically just today Dreena Burton from Plant Powered Kitchen  posted something about the benefits of hemp seeds! *lol* Maybe I'll give it another try in other recipes? Do I dare to use it in my oatmeal?.. *hmm* {If you happen to have a great recipe with those darn seeds, please share! Maybe it'll change my mind!? You never know!..} ]

Hmm... Seeing all those benefits makes me *really* think I should give it another try!..

On to more positive results, I fell in *love* with coconut milk!!!
And it's so easy!!!

~* Coconut milk *~

*4 c hot water (not boiling!)
*1 c unsweetened dried coconut 
*1 tsp vanilla flavoring (optional)
*Stevia or any other natural sweetener 

Put water & dried coconut in a blender and let it sit for 1-2 hours!
Once the time is up, blend it for a good time, including the vanilla and if wanted some sweetener of your choice.
Afterwards strain it through a nut bag or cheese cloth and keep the milk in a container in the fridge where it'll be good for at least 3-4 days!

I actually saved the 'pulp' and am not quite sure yet what to do with it!.. After all, it's coconut, so maybe I'll just make some cookies tomorrow (it's the time of the month again where I'm automatically craving to bake more! LOL)...


~* Oat milk *~

*1/2 c oatmeal
*3 c water
*1 tsp vanilla flavoring (optional)
*Stevia or any other natural sweetener

Put the oatmeal with the water in the blender and let it sit for ~20 minutes. (Not longer as the oatmeal becomes quite slimey otherwise!)
Blend it for a good few minutes, add the vanilla (if wanted) and sweetener and strain through a nut bag or cheese cloth.
Keep the 'milk' in a container in the fridge where it'll be good for 3-4 days.

I do NOT use those kinds of milk for my coffee! I find them somehow too watery! But it's of course just my personal taste! ;)


My next try will be to make almond milk, though I might wait until we're back in the US and I can get them cheaper in bulk!.. Here they're a bit too expensive.. plus, my blender is absolute 'crappola' and would probably die in the attempt to grind the almonds! LOL

Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 Soups and 1 muffin

As we've already discussed in a previous post, I love soup! And with the colder temps approaching (finally it's starting here in Sicily as well!..), I can easily whip up a pot of soup 3-4x a week!

The other day a creation happened quite accidentally actually. I planned to make a dish from my[click!] Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure cookbook,  but sure enough, I didn't follow the intructions to a 'T' and ended up having a more liquid-y red bell pepper/potato mix. I wasn't in the mood to have it like that over quinoa or anything, so I just added some more vegetable broth, some soy milk and home made vegan tofu 'sour cream', salt, pepper, smoked paprika, done! Blend it all up and this beautiful 'Roasted red bellpepper potato soup' was born! :) 

-By the way, that book is one of my very first veg books I got years ago when I became a veg and a great book to have if you're veg*n and love your pressure cooker! All of the recipes can be easily veganized! ;) -

Take 3-4 small potatoes, 1 whole red bell pepper (roasted before in the oven), 4-6 cups of water/veggie broth, cook in pressure cooker for ~3 minutes, let the pressure come down for ~5 min naturally, then release and open the lid.
Add 2-3 Tbsp tofu 'sour cream' and a splash of soy (or any other plant) milk, salt, pepper, smoked pepper.. everything to your own personal taste, blend, done!

I just added some roasted zucchini and some nutritional yeast for the extra healthy boost! ;)

 Who doesn't love 'Chicken' noodle soup!? Especially when it's cold and rainy outside (like it was that particular day here) and just cozy to have this kind of soup!
I didn't follow any specific instruction/recipe but just diced up 1 small onion, sauteed it in some water, then added 2 diced carrots, 1 diced stalk of celery, 1 c (already cooked) chickpeas, 4-6 c water/veggie broth (I actually used 1 frozen 'cube' of Kathy Hester's [click!] Vegan Slow Cooker 'chickn' bouillon' and then later added 1-2 Tbsp of [click!] Bryanna's home made chicken broth powder).
After ~5-10 minutes I added some spaghetti pasta broken into ~2" pieces (which were still too long! Next time I'll use smaller pasta to begin with!), cooked it for another 10 minutes and done! At the very end I added a handful of vegan 'chick'n strips' just because I was in the mood to, but it certainly would work well without too!

On to my sweet tooth recipe! ;)
A long time ago I stumbled across Cleo Coyle's[click!] Coffee House Mystery website after having bought a few of her Coffee House mystery books and looking forward to reading them. One recipe in particular caught my eyes, the ones for 'Coffee Shop Doughnut Muffins'! Oh I was so going to make them!!! I simply veganized the original recipe and it was a huge hit in my house!!! ;)

 You can find the original recipe here:   Doughnut Muffins

My veganized version:

~*Vegan coffee shop doughnut muffins*~

For the batter:
*6 Tbsp apple sauce
*6 Tbsp coconut oil 
*1/2 c vegan sugar
*2 egg substitutes (I used Ener-G)
*1 c plant milk (I used home made oatmilk)
*2.5 c flour (I used 2 c ground oatmeal, 1/2 unbleached white AP flour)
*1/4 tsp baking soda
*2.5 tsp baking powder
*1/4 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the topping:
*1/4 c vegan sugar
*1 tsp cinnamon
*2 Tbsp vegan 'butter'

Preheat the oven to 350 F and prep the muffin tins with liners, gently sprayed with some cooking spray. [If you use silicone muffin forms, you won't need liners, of course!]

To make the batter mix the apple sauce and coconut oil together with the sugar with an electric mixer. 
Make the egg replacer (3 tsp Ener-G + 4 Tbsp warm water), let sit for a few minutes. [You can also use flax meal, 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds + 6 Tbsp water.]
Add the plant milk and the egg replacer to the sugar/oil/apple sauce mix.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix just until it's all comined.
Fill each muffin cup with 1 scoop of the batter (an ice cream scoop works well for that) and once all tins are filled, bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool completely.

Once the muffins are cooled out, you can finish them with the cinnamon-sugar topping:
Melt the vegan 'butter' and mix the cinnamon with the sugar in a small bowl.
Brush each muffin top with a bit of the 'butter' and immediately dip it into the cinnamon-sugar mix.

Voila, ready! Now put on a nice brew of coffee and enjoy one of those muffins with a cup of joe! =)

Nutritional value (calculated for my ingredients above; might vary slightly if you use other plant milk and/or flour!)
Per muffin: 
156 calories, 6 g fat, 22 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 2 g protein


Stay tuned for more veganized recipes from Cleo Coyle's Coffe Shop Mystery books! ;)  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another great cookbook giveaway by Robin Robertson! =)

Robin Robertson (Vegan Planet) is doing it again! :) This time the giveaway is for Bryanna Clark Grogan's "World Vegan Feast" !  

It's another book I have yet to add to my collection! I'd love to win this! Bryanna's blog is full with delicious recipes and I'm sure this book rocks just as much!

Good luck everybody! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lunchtime a la McDougall

"Pictures say more than 1000 words", right? So just to show (again) how my lunches look like, this time completely Mc Dougall approved ;). 

1 baked potato, 1/2 c black beans, 2 c turnip greens, 2 small tomatoes, salt & pepper and some hot sauce, done!

 Mixed it all up. It was sooo good and I was full afterwards!!!

This one is actually from his book 'Quick & Easy cookbook' and is really a super simple dish! Barley, beans, corn, onion, bell pepper, mushroom and a few peas thrown together (sauteed in a pan), spiced according to your taste, done! Low cal,  super filling and super yummy!

And even though this is completely unrelated, I think it's too pretty not to share!:

Today's sunset! It's been raining and thundering all day (completely with constant power outages we sadly get immediately with this kind of weather!.. *eye roll*) but when it cleared up and I was looking out of the kitchen window, I saw this gorgeous sunset, so I rushed into our son's room, from where I got a better view (since it's in the top floor of the house) and this is what I got! [Above!]
It usually looks more like the pic below! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bread again! Sourdough rolls and more!

2 posts in 1 night, why not, right!? ;)
Ok, let's first start with the long-promised sourdough roll recipe!

To begin you need to have a sourdough starter, of course, for which I by now use mostly this Sourdough starter recipe (when I need to start a new batch, my starter lives in the fridge and gets 'fed' every week since quite a while now). 

[In case you've noticed, I haven't mentioned any of my German Sourdough breads lately... That's because I've lost my 'chi' for making them! Believe it or not, but ever since we came back from our Germany trip in May, I failed miserably making my German style sourdough rye breads and all! I don't know what's up with that..  But either way, I still got the bread baking love and this works just as well for me! ]

Once you have the sourdough starter, this is the recipe I've come up with for the breadmachine:

~* Sourdough Wheat rolls *~ 
(Makes 12 rolls)

*200 ml (3/4 c) warm water
* 250 g (1 c) sourdough starter
*1.5 tsp salt
*410 g (3 3/4 c) bread flour(I use half bread flour, half wheat)
*1.5 tsp active yeast

Put everything into your breadmachine pan according to the company's instruction (usually it's water first, then flour, etc.) and set it on dough setting.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 F.
Once the dough is ready (my machine takes 1.5 hrs), take it out and form 12 equal (or more or less) sized balls.
Place them in a lightly greased (I use spray) pan and let them rest/rise for a good hour until they increased in size.
Bake the rolls for ~20 minutes.
Once they're ready, take them out of the tray (so they don't 'sweat'!) and let them cool on a cookie rack.
Cover with a towel or other linen cloth until ready to eat! ;)
[I always freeze half the batch and just take them out the morning when I know we'll have soup for dinner that night!]

Guten Appetit! ^_^

Edit to add: You can also use the recipe and simply bake a bread in the machine or make a loaf and bake that in the oven! I just prefer making rolls as it's automatic portion control! ;)

 About to rest & rise...

 Done & baked :)

The other day I came across a great bread recipe Amber from Almost Vegan blogged about. It's originally from the book 'The Urban Vegan' (another book I have yet to add to my collection! ;) ) and I was happy to give it a try -even though I'm not the biggest olive fan.. but Hubby is and he loved it!

You can find the recipe here Olive-Rosemary bread

It didn't work for me to leave it as a round 'ball' shape.. (I think it's because of the olives I used [a friend of Hubby gave them to us; his family has some olive trees and makes their own oil etc.] )so I simply put it in the bread form and it worked just as well! ;)

Edit to add:

I didn't have spelt flour but used 2 c whole wheat & 1 c bread flour (+ ~3/4 c more while kneading).
Also I put everything in my bread machine and let it mix on the dough cycle. (Yes, I'm lazy! *lol* No, in my defense, I just don't have a machine that has a dough hook! My dream for a KitchenAid mixer has yet to be fulfilled!.. Maybe once we're moved and settled into our new house!)

I'll certainly play around with that recipe again and see if I can even use cranberries  or raisins! 

Have fun baking!

Soups and more comfort food!

I might have mentioned before already that I'm a huge soup lover! Especially when it's getting cooler outside (well, here not so much yet *sigh*.. but hopefully soon!!!) it's just cozy to have a nice warming soup for dinner or for lunch! 
Have a slice of home made bread or roll on the side and a green salad and you've got a great meal going on!

Regardless of the not-so-cold-yet temperatures, I've been cooking a few more soups again these past days and am just going to share some pics with you! (I'm sure you all know recipes to those kinds of soups.. and if not, google it and you'll get tons of hits! ;) )

Inspired by Isa's AFR recipe (Susan over at FatFreeVegan has a great recipe too I use often: Curried Split Pea Soup )

Also inspired by Isa's AFR recipe.. though I will have to admit, personally I learned that including ACV (apple cider vinegar) is *not* my or my family's taste!!!..
The recipe called for 2 cups (!) of it, I only used ~1/4 c and that was already too much for our liking.. I'll omit the ACV from now on again!..

This is what our version of 'deluxe' salad looks like, which we had for lunch the other day when Hubby had off work. With a slice of bread it was seriously delicious and so filling!

Love, love, love (!) Lemon-Tahini dressing on my salads!!!

 Honestly, I cannot remember on which blog I've found the recipe (I'll have to dig through my tons of printed papers again!) but after having been on the pumpkin kick lately again, I had some leftover in the fridge, as well as some Silken soft tofu, so that recipe inspired me to mix it all up into a healthy, lower cal version of so many vegan 'Alfredo' sauces. Poured over leftover Spaghetti for lunch, it was perfect! (And I was ready for a nap afterwards! *lol*)

This cool looking purple cauliflower sadly didn't hold up too well after cooking as it was already on the limp side when Hubby came home from the market with it  (I used it in a stir fry) but I still wanted to share the pic as I just love the color! ;)

Next post will be about bread again; including the promised recipe for the sourdough dinner rolls! =)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cookbook giveaway for "The Blooming Platter"!

Robin (Robertson) from Global Vegan Kitchen is having a giveaway for 
Betsy DiJulio's "The Blooming Platter"! (It's actually one book I have yet to get! *blush* Which makes me feel bad as I converse with Betsy quite often on FB after having gotten to know her through our cookbook group on GoodReads! 
-Betsy, if you happen to read this, please forgive me! I promise, if I don't happen to win this book, I will buy it soon!!!-)

The contest ends on Sunday, October 7th and a winner will be announced on Monday, October 8th!
Head on over to Robin's site and enter! 

Please click: