Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vegan Energy Bars

Jeff and I have just started training for a 5-mile race that I've been running in since 2008. This actually entails quite a lot of running, and as we eat breakfast before running and lunch at the typical noon hour, we are left pretty hungry in the intervening hours. Instead of buying individually plastic wrapped processed bars, I decided to try my hand at making my own energy bars.

Energy Bars I was surprised at how hard it was to make these, because most of the recipes online call for nuts (which I can't eat because of my braces) or peanut butter (which I don't eat because I don't like it). A lot of recipes called for corn syrup, which I find to be icky, or lots of coconut oil. So I decided I had better invent my own recipe, hoping that the end product would be soft enough to be braces-friendly, delicious enough to eat and filling enough to hold us over until lunch.

Fortunately, the resulting product did live up to all of my exacting requirements! Here's the recipe for you to try out at home:

Vegan Energy Bars
Yields 12 bars

1 cup dates, pitted
1 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries (or dried fruit of your choice)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp water

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Chop the dates as fine as you can, or process them in your food processor. (Mine pretty much just laughed at me and refused to chop the dates at all.)
  3. Process or mix together the dates with the oatmeal, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup.
  4. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the above with coarsely chopped dried cherries and water.
  5. Spread this mixture evenly into a foil-lined 8x8 baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely until cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan Taco Pizza

Given the recipes on this blog, you would think that Jeff and I eat a lot of pizza. It's true, we do, because it's a great way to use up leftovers and it's usually pretty healthy as we rarely ever use processed vegan cheeze. I'm also a terribly picky eater, so if you can put it on a pizza I'm much more likely to try it!

Jeff and I had a glut of snack foods left over after our Superbowl Snack-a-Thon (no, we didn't actually watch the game) so we decided to revive a recipe I first made back in 2006 when I first went vegetarian: Taco Pizza. The idea behind taco pizza is simple, take your favorite taco fillings and use them on a pizza, substituting beans for the sauce layer to prevent the juicy salsa and other toppings from getting the dough too wet.


Vegan Taco Pizza
Yield: one hearty pizza
1 pizza dough (Jeff uses a recipe he has altered from the Joy of Cooking)
1/2 can of refried beans (or about 1 cup homemade refried beans)
Generous serving of salsa
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced and seeded
1 serving seitan or okara meatballs
Vegan cheeze of your choice (we used Vegan Gourmet in this instance but we mostly just make some sort of cheezy sauce to pour on top)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF.
  2. Roll or toss the pizza dough onto a pre-cornmealed baking sheet.
  3. Spread the refried beans over the dough, leaving a bit of space around the edges for crust.
  4. On top of this, add salsa, onion, pepper, seitan, and any other delightful taco topping of your choice.
  5. Grate or pour cheeze over top to cover.
  6. Place pizza in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  7. Remove pizza from oven and slide onto a wire rack.
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting on a solid surface.
  9. Enjoy!

Before the Oven

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recipe Roundup

Cast Iron Skillet This is week thirteen of the weekly Recipe Roundup, where I post the online recipes I've used over the past week.

  • Turnip and Potato Patties - This is not a vegan recipe, we just used some chickpea flour instead of egg. Jeff and I have a glut of turnips and don't know what to do with them. Honestly, we found this recipe to be a little gross. Too much grease and not enough flavor.

  • Chocolate Mousse - Jeff made this for me for Valentine's Day. (I made him a chocolate cake from the Hot Damn and Hell Yeah cookbook. In a word: delicious!

Check out previous Recipe Roundups: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegan Squash Ravioli

Having come upon a buttercup squash I immediately decided I wanted to make squash ravioli. Jeff and I purchased a ravioli rolling pin online to increase our chances of actually making the stuffed pasta, as stuffing by hand can be a pain. I looked for recipes online and was disappointed as most of them call for spiced butternut squash, which I think is a bit overrated. So I decided to invent my own recipe and I was not disappointed!

Finished Ravioli

Squash Ravioli
Yield: Four moderate servings or two large servings
1 pasta recipe (I used Joy of Cooking, omitting the egg and adding extra water)
1 buttercup squash (or acorn or other similar squash)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  1. Slice the squash into quarters or eighths, coat with olive oil, and roast in the oven at 400oF for 30-60 minutes, until tender.
  2. Cut the squash from the skin and place into a blender along with nutritional yeast. Puree as well as you can. (It's hard to puree things in my blender.)
  3. Using 2-4 balls of pasta dough, prepare each one into a thin sheet as large as you can make it. (I am restricted in width by my pasta maker.) Try to make the sheets roughly equal size so that they can stack.
  4. Lay out one sheet of pasta, and spread on top of that a layer of the squash filling, I would say no more than 1/8 of an inch deep. Cover with another sheet of pasta.
  5. Using your floured rolling pin, roll out the raviolis by exerting enough pressure to press the two layers of pasta together. (The filling will automatically go into the pockets, so don't worry about having a mess in between!)
  6. Slice the ravioli with a sharp knife or pastry cutter.
  7. To cook, simply boil until the ravioli is floating. Or, separate the ravioli and freeze for another occasion.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Holiday Gift Giving

I know I'm almost two months late in posting this, and nearly too late for Valentine's Day, but I guess it's better late than never! This Christmas I wanted to give homemade gifts for everyone as I really hate how Christmas has boiled down to buying the perfect gift. I prefer the homemade, and certainly enjoy the edible.

This (last?!) year Jeff and I started planning sometime in the middle of summer what we would make, as some things go out of season and some things require a lot of time sitting before they taste good. We made a spreadsheet of when to start making what, and when each item would be ready to consume.

Summer raspberries and cherries were added with sugar, cinnamon and vodka and stored in the deep recesses of our cabinets for a few months to turn into liqueur. They sat at least two months and then were strained into sterilized bottles that we capped using our beer bottle capper. We didn't know what to do with the "drunken fruit" so unfortunately Jeff and I threw it away before realizing we could have made something like drunken cherry pie. (We certainly learned our lesson!)

Cinnamon apple jelly was my first time making jelly, and I used the recipe from Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, adding a cinnamon stick for extra flavor. I used organic Fuji apples, nothing special. I strained the apples for several hours instead of overnight, and was worried that the milky pink liquid would never turn into the beautiful, translucent jelly that I ended up with. They did take a long time to set because I didn't use any commercial pectin and not a ton of sugar. I feel like I stirred for at least an hour, but then all at once the jelly started to set and I quickly ladled it into jars and put them into the hot water bath. This jelly is extremely delicious and I would recommend trying it out sometime.

We made the cranberry orange marmalade last year and enjoyed it enough to make it again. I think this year the marmalade is a bit chunkier, and not having tasted it yet I can't completely vouch for the flavor.

Pickled garlic was an experiment, I used cloves from Vermont's Garlic Festival, and although I can't recall exactly which variety I used anymore I think they were German White. After blanching the peels slipped off very easily and the finished product is quite tasty even eaten on its own. This recipe also came from Put 'em Up.

Finally, Jeff made four dozen bottles of Oatmeal Stout, and everyone got a six-pack. I'll let him post about the recipe and beer-making process at a later date.

We rounded it out with a couple bars of local Taza mexicano chocolate, by far among the best chocolate I've set my taste buds on!