Pets

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Just because I love food & cooking & eating & everything about the subject, that doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about my dog once in awhile, right?  Well, I have, what we have guessed, a ridgeback/bloodhound mix.  We found her in the forest, she looked like she had been abused and was there for almost a week before we picked her up.  For the first year, she was very skittish, especially around kids and linoleum/wood flooring.  We believe she was about a year old when we got her, and now, a little over 7 years later, she is a vital part of our family.  She is much more social (she doesn’t hide behind our legs when people come by anymore), loves to walk (jumps for joy at the words walk, leash, and dinner) and still gets a little excited when we say waffle, not sure why, but think it just sounds close to walk. 

Just Lounging:

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 Her most famous look: “Oh, come play, I’m hungry, PLEEEEAAAAASSSSEEE!”…

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 Um, what?  I don’t need a bath!

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Why I Love Silicone…

…for cooking that is.  As a low-fat vegan, putting earth balance or oil on my pans before baking isn’t really an option, so I use a lot of silicone and parchment paper.  It works really well to keep breads and other baked goods from sticking.  Here are a few of the pans that I have:

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There are muffin pans, loaf pans, a christmas tree shape pan, a silicone baking mat and an 8″ square cake pan.  Since this photo, I have added a tart pan.  I even have mini suns and squares pans to make ice cubes, little cookies, muffins, etc in.

I use the muffin pans to make muffins, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, etc in.  I use my square pan for cakes, sticky buns, casseroles, brownies, etc.  I haven’t used my tree one yet, but any cake or brownie, or even a giant cookie would work.  I absolutely LOVE my loaf pans!!!!!  I use those to make quick breads, sweet breads, savory loafs, and sandwich bread.  It is my most used pans.   Still on my wishlist is a round cake pan in various sizes.   There are some baked goods that just work better in a glass or even cast iron pan.  Cornbread, for example, bakes up best in a pre-heated cast iron pan.  Sticky buns really do cook up best in a glass pan (if using a gooey liquid topping), and there are some cakes that I need the round shape for, but I don’t have a silicone pan for.  Well, on those occassions, I will splurge and use a cooking spray that has flour in it, but I try and make sure the cake is as low fat as possible.   For cookies, a silicone baking mat and parchment paper are the only way to go!  They are both reusable and I never have any problem with any cookie sticking to it.  You can also use them to bake chickpea cutlets, beanballs, etc. 

Taking care of your silicone is pretty easy.  I find that washing it while it is still warm helps to get any baked on goo off easily.  Sometimes, you just need to wipe it down with a damp cloth (the baking mat).  The most important thing to remember is NO SHARP IMPLEMENTS!  You can’t cut in these things.  Always remove the baked good before cutting, even a table knife can do a little damage.  You don’t want those silicone fibers getting into your food. 

Silicone pans don’t always react the same way that a glass or non-stick pan will.  A lot of the time, you need to adjust your cooking times (mine usually cook up a little faster) and they don’t always brown or brown evenly.  You just need to play with it a little.  I feel that it is totally worth the effort.  To decide which pan you want to start your collection with, you need to ask yourself what you bake most, breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, etc.  and go with that pan first.  My first one was my silicone baking mat, I use it for cookies, baking free-form breads, pastries, cutlets, beanballs, etc.  The list is endless. 

With the proper care and love, your Silicone Pans can be with you for a lifetime! Click silicone for some great choices to bake with.

Snow, beautiful snow

Last night before we went to bed, we looked out the window and what did we see?  2 inches of snow!  It was so beautiful!  Most of it is gone already, its been pretty warm today, so most of it is melted.  I wish I could have taken a picture before it all melted.  I have a few recipes that I  want to post, but I need to get a couple of pictures taken and tweak the spices a bit, hopefully I will get those tweaked this week.  Tonight I have pizza on the menu, a pesto pizza with olives, tomatoes and onions as well as a veggie sausage (still tweaking the spices on these) with peppers and onions.  I love to experiment with food, but on Thursdays I cook for my carnivore in-laws, so I am always trying to come up with meals that they will like, but aren’t too “weird”.  Pizza is usually a safe choice, as is Mexican food like tacos, burritos, enchilada casseroles, etc. 

Another nice thing about the snow, I only had to work a half day today, so I am going to kick back, read a book and enjoy a cup of tea.  See you later!

Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Wraps

I feel that I have been thinking of nothing but sweets, mostly chocolate, for the past 2 weeks.  I decided I need to get back to some actual food.  This is K’s favorite dinner.  Its pretty quick and easy to make, especially if you have some cooked rice on hand.  The dipping sauce is optional, but really is the best part.  I’ve made this in different variations with different sauces, but the Hoisin Dipping Sauce is our favorite.  I could make this every week and we would still love it!  You could use water chestnuts instead of pine nuts if you like too.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  Sorry about not having a picture, we were hungry. 

Hoisin Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Great finger food, though a little messy.

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Yield: 2 servings

1 cup brown basmati rice

½ cup pine nuts

12 oz firm tofu, preferably water-packed, not silken (you can also use super-firm tofu)

3 TBSP rice vinegar

2 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP sugar

¼ tsp chili-garlic sauce

1 TBSP hoisin sauce

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

8 butter or Romaine lettuce leaves

½ cup carrots, julienned

½ cucumber, julienned

  1. Cook the rice according to package directions.

  2. In a small, dry non-stick skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring constantly. Once they are golden brown, about 4 minutes, remove them from the heat and set aside.

  3. Cut the tofu into ¼” cubes, set aside.

  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and chili-garlic sauce until combined.

  5. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and sauté the tofu and sauce mixture, stirring constantly until the sauce is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in the hoisin sauce and mix well.

  6. Stir for about 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle the pine nuts and cilantro over the top.

  7. Serve in lettuce leaves and top with rice, carrots and cucumber with Hoisin Orange Dipping Sauce on the side.

Hoisin Orange Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes Yield: about 1 cup

1/3 cup orange marmalade

½ cup hoisin sauce

pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional

  1. In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients until combined.

  2. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

 

Sticky Buns

cinnamon-rolls-1.jpgMy mission was to find a cinnamon roll or sticky bun recipe that was lower in fat and, of course, vegan.  I also wanted to find a recipe that didn’t use vegan cream cheese or margarine.  I went through at least 30 recipes before I finally decided to use them as a basic reference and create my own.  I have made cinnamon rolls in the past, but I always substituted the butter with vegan cream cheese and used it as an icing mixed with powdered sugar.  For this recipe, I went more in the direction of a sticky bun instead of a cinnamon roll, so I didn’t need an icing because It bakes in a sticky goo that is delicious.  The fillings are based on a Martha Stewart recipe that I found and adapted a bit.  I am still working on the recipe a little because there is too much sugar for my taste.                cinnamon-rolls-5.jpg

Sticky Buns Makes 3 batches of 9

You can make these in a square baking pan to make pull-apart buns or you can make them round by baking them in a muffin pan. You can chill the remaining dough, if you only want to make one batch, in a zip top bag for up to 3 days, or freeze the dough for up to one month. The frozen dough will need to brought to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. Any extra topping can be refrigerated for up to one week.

DOUGH

2 TBSP active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F.)

1 ½ TBSP egg replacer

1/3 cup warm water

1 cup almond milk at room temperature

½ cup silken firm tofu, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup applesauce

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp cinnamon

6 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for your work surface

TOPPING

½ cup apple juice concentrate (or orange juice for a citrus flavor)

¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed

½ cup barley malt syrup (you could also use honey or maple syrup)

ASSEMBLING

1 TBSP apple juice concentrate (or orange juice for a citrus flavor)

1 recipe filling (choices at end of instructions)

FILLINGS – each filling makes enough for 9 sticky buns (one batch, triple recipe to make a 3 dough batch)

Pecan Filling

1/3 cup light-brown sugar, packed

½ tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped (you could also use walnuts)

1 tsp grated orange zest

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Banana, Maple and Walnut Filling

2 TBSP light-brown sugar, packed

¼ tsp cinnamon

2 TBSP maple syrup (or honey)

½ cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (you could also use pecans)

1 banana, thinly sliced

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon and maple until combined. Gently fold in the walnuts and banana slices, being careful not to break up the bananas.

Mexican Chocolate Filling

2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (check the ingredients to make sure there is no milk fat)

2 TBSP light-brown sugar, packed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

To make the dough:

  1. Add the yeast and 1/3 cup warm water to a small bowl and stir together, let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and 1/3 cup warm water until frothy, set aside.

  3. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix the almond milk, tofu, applesauce, egg replacer mixture, sugar, salt, vanilla, and the cinnamon on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture, mixing for 1 minute. Add 4 cups of the flour and mix until smooth.

  4. Remove the whisk attachment and put on the dough hook. Continue mixing and add more flour, ½ cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl (you may not use all of the last 2 cups). Beat the dough for 10 minutes on medium-high speed.

  5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for 2 minutes, until very smooth. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

To make the topping:

  1. Heat ½ cup apple juice concentrate in a small saucepan and stir in the sugars and the barley malt syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugars are dissolved, about 5 minutes, then set aside.

  2. Punch the dough down and turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each of them into a ball. Work with one ball at a ime and refrigerate or freeze any dough that will not be used.)

To assemble the buns:

  1. Roll a dough ball out into a 10 X 13” rectangle. Brush the dough with apple juice concentrate and top with your choice of filling, leaving a ½” border. Roll the dough into a log, starting on the long side. Pinch the long edge of the dough to seal. Cut the dough into 9 slices, 1 1/3” thick.

  2. Divide 1 cup of the topping among 9 cups of a large 8” square pan or 9 muffin cups.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. with the rack on the lower level. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.

  4. Set the buns in a warm place and let them rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake the buns, rotating the pan halfway through, for 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown and bubbly. Immediately invert the buns onto the rack. Serve warm.

Four of us ate all 27 sticky buns in 4 days. 

cinnamon-rolls-2.jpg  Yummy!

Another dish from Fresh on Bloor St in Canada

So far, I have not had a bad meal from the cookbook I bought at Fresh.  The cookbook I bought is Refresh.   I love this book & everything in it is wonderful!  For dinner a couple of nights ago, we had the California Classic Salad.  Its a little take on a Chefs Salad, easy to make and extremely delicious.  Full of avocados, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm, spinach pesto and cannellini beans, marinated tofu, and of course, mixed greens.  I highly recommend this cookbook!  Here’s the dish:

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Kidney beans or garbanzo beans would also be really good on this.  Instead of a marinated tofu you could crumble a feta seasoned tofu on top.  It was a big hit. 

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Donuts, yum!

As I was growing up, my parents owned a donut shop.  I bet I ate at least one donut a day, everyday, for 5  years.  After we moved and no longer had the donut shop, I found out I was lactose intolerant, so I didn’t get to eat donuts very often because you never know what people put in their foods.  Recently I was browsing the internet and ran across some donut recipes and it got my mouth watering.  I took a little bit from each recipe I found and here is what I came up with.  It is still a work in progress, but they are still good. 

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Mini Donuts
Yield: 20 Donuts

1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch cinnamon

1 ½ tsp egg replacer

2 TBSP warm water

½ Cup Soymilk
½ tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
4 TBSP applesauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and warm water until frothy.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, egg replacer mixture and applesauce.
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, the dough should be very soft.
  6. Scoop out the dough, a tablespoon at a time, into an ungreased nonstick mini-donut pan, smoothing the top of the dough with slightly damp fingers. This just makes the donuts look prettier, but not necessary.  Be careful not to overfill the donut pans as they will puff up like muffins, again, only affects what they look like.
  7. You can eat these plain, or top them with some melted chocolate and sprinkles.

 If you are wondering what a mini donut pan looks like, here you go:

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Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Here is a pie that I made for Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to save it just for the holidays.  You can find the ingredients all year round!  The crust is a no roll pie crust.  You make it in the pie plate and then press it down.  Well, I didn’t press it quite thin enough, or quite even enough so it was a little thick in spots & stuck to the plate a little, but the thinner spots came out great.  All of it tasted really good, it was just harder to get it out of the pan. 

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Pumpkin Pecan Pie

This pie has lots of flavor and is easy to make.  This pie can be made in advance.

1 9“ unbaked no roll pie crust (see recipe below)

1 TBSP egg replacer

¼ cup warm water

1 15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin

1⁄3 cup brown sugar

1⁄3 cup sugar

3⁄4 tsp cinnamon

3⁄4 tsp powdered ginger

1⁄8 tsp salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1⁄2 cup almond milk

Topping:

2 TBSP apple juice concentrate

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

3⁄4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer & warm water.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, sugar, Cinnamon, ginger, salt, vanilla, egg replacer mixture, & almond milk until combined.

  4. Pour the mixture into your unbaked pie crust & bake for 40 minutes at 350° F.

  5. As the pie is baking, make the topping. In a small bowl, mix together the apple juice concentrate, brown sugar & pecans until they are crumbly.

  6. Remove the pie from the oven (after 40 minutes) & sprinkle the topping on the top of the pie & bake for another 25 minutes.

  7. When the pie is done, remove from oven, let cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing.

Tip: The cooler the pie is, the easier it will be to slice.

Prep Time: 5 minutes for the pie, 10 minutes for the crust Cook Time: 65 minutes Serves: 8

No Roll Pie Crust

This crust is is made right in the pie plate, only one dish to clean and the crust is flaky too!

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄2 cup applesauce

3 TBSP almond milk

  1. Mix all of the ingredients with a fork in a 9” pie plate until well blended.

  2. Pat into the plate & push up the sides. To form a nice edge, use your thumb & finger.

  3. With the fork, prick the crust to prevent bubbling during baking.

You can top with a squirt of Soyatoo Whipped Topping, it also tastes good all by itself. 

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Cloned Animals in your supermarket!?!

Well, even though consumers opposed the sale of meat and dairy from cloned animals, the US government approved it, stating that it is safe for human consumption.  They also do not require labeling of these cloned animal products, so you will have no idea if what you are purchasing is from a cloned animal or not (yet another reason not to eat meat and dairy!!!).  Consumer advocates are rightly concerned with the lack of proof regarding issues relating to animal welfare and sustainability, as well as the safety of cloned food!  It will probably be years before it hits the market because of the high costs of cloning, but it is coming.  You can avoid consuming meat and dairy from cloned animals by purchasing certified organic foods (they ban cloned ingredients) and by eating vegan.  One of my concerns is for my dog.  We still feed her normal dog food, but I am sure that they will start using cloned meat in dog and cat food, time to start going organic for her! 

Cheesecake!

I  made this cheesecake over the holidays and it was a big hit.  If you aren’t too sure about using stevia, you can replace it with 3/4 cup sugar for the cheesecake and  1/4 cup brown sugar (packed) mixed with 2 TBSP sugar. This is not fat free, or low-fat, it is a rich dessert that should only be enjoyed on occassion.  It tastes really good though, and, just like any cheesecake, it is rich, so a little goes a long way.  Enjoy!

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Sugar-Free Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake Makes 8 slices. 1 12.3-oz pkg extra firm lite silken tofu

1 8-oz pkg vegan cream cheese (Tofutti is a good brand)

1 ½ TBSP Stevia

½ cup vegan eggnog

1 ½ TBSP lemon juice

2 ½ TBSP brandy (or more vegan eggnog)

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg, packed

3 TBSP cornstarch

1 prepared oatmeal cookie crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Drain the tofu.

  3. Add the tofu & vegan cream cheese to a food processor & blend until smooth.

  4. Add in the Stevia, & eggnog, process about 2 minutes, or until the Stevia has dissolved.

  5. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the crust, & process until smooth, about 3 minutes.

  6. Pour the batter into the crust & bake for about 55 minutes on the middle rack of your oven. Be careful not to let it brown. The filling will be a little jiggly when it is done, it will firm up as it cools.

  7. Take the pie out of the oven & let it cool. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator until it has completely chilled, overnight is best, but at least 4 hours. Garnish with some grated nutmeg sprinkled over the top.

Variation: To make regular cheesecake, use vanilla (or chocolate) soymilk instead of the eggnog, increase the brandy to 3 TBSP and the nutmeg to 1 tsp. Add an additional ½ tsp of Stevia.

 

Sugar-Free & Fat-Free Oatmeal Cookie Crust

½ cup quick oats

½ cup whole wheat flour

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp vanilla

¼ cup Splenda brown sugar, packed

1 tsp Stevia

¼ cup applesauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pull out a 9” silicone pie pan.

  2. Process the oats in a food processor until finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the applesauce & blend well.

  3. Transfer the oat mixture to a large bowl & stir in the applesauce until combined.

  4. Pour the mixture into the pie pan. Starting at the center, flatten & press with moistened fingers until it covers the bottom completely & evenly, & extends up the sides of the pan as far as possible.

  5. Cook the crust until it is crisp, but not overdone, about 8 to 10 minutes.

  6. Let cool before serving.