Tag Archives: healthy cooking

Flaky Vegan Pie Crust… and Easy Apple Crostata

I genuinely LOVE this pie crust recipe. The original version is found in ‘The Joy of Vegan Baking’ , though due to my cabinets needing to be replenished, I  had to make a few small adjustments… much to my delight, the dough still came out wonderfully! If you are in a fix and feel like you don’t have time to make an entire pie, check out my recipe for a simple yet impressive apple crostata! There are so many things to be done with a good crust around the holidays, I would recommend having some dough in the freezer (or refrigerator) for when the baking mood strikes!

FLAKY VEGAN PIE CRUST

This makes enough for two 9″  pie crusts or one covered pie crust (a pie with a top & bottom crust). This dough freezes well or can be refrigerated until ready to be used.

TIP: I always put ALL of my ingredients into the freezer for about 30 minutes before making the dough. The easiest way to do this is to measure your dry ingredients in a bowl, put it in freezer. Cut up your shortening and butter into 1/2″ chunks and put in freezer in a small bowl. You want the fat to stay as cold as possible for the flakiest crust!

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup soy margarine
  • 1/3 cup ice water (plus a splash more if necessary)

(In the original recipe I mentioned above, the entire amount of flour used is unbleached all-purpose flour and the shortening to margarine ratio is 50:50. Feel free to use either version!)

MAKING THE DOUGH (use chilled ingredients)

1) Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Blend about 10 seconds to mix well.

2) Scatter the pre-cut shortening/butter over the dry ingredients and PULSE in little bursts until the fat is broken up into the size of gravel or peas.

3) With the machine turned off, slowly drizzle the ice water over the top. Now pulse  several times until no dry patches remain and it begins to clump. Squeeze a bit of dough in your fingers – if it sticks together, it is ready to be gathered up by hand… If not, add a touch more water and pulse again. Do NOT allow the ball to roll into a single mass (such as you would with bread or pizza dough). For a good flaky crust, you want it to hold together but you want it to look chunky, discolored/patchy and rough. You should be able to see little bits of butter or shortening here and there.

4) Divide the dough in half, pressing each into a flat round disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to several days) before rolling. The dough can also be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 6 months. (Thaw completely before rolling.)

Here is a shot of one of my dough discs (The recipe shown HERE will be posted later this week!)

ROLLING THE DOUGH

First lightly sprinkle your working surface with flour.  Personally, I like to roll my dough out right on top of the saran wrap it was wrapped in and use a lightly floured rolling-pin.  That way it won’t stick, it spins easily and it can be flipped right onto my baking sheet or into my pie plate when I am ready!

When rolling out dough, the trick isn’t to “roll”, but to “press” the dough outward from the middle. I roll my dough out from the center, turning the dough as I go so I am rolling outward from different directions. If you get a split in your dough, it may just be too dry… just gently “glue” it back together with a dab of cold water. Roll it out, big and nice – I’d shoot for 2-3″ wider than your pie plate. Most pies are 9″ so I’d say shoot for a circle close to 12″ across.

Rolled out & ready to flip into a pie plate… or turned into a delicious crostata!

TIP: To relax the dough and avoid shrinkage, chill the crust in your pie tin for 30 minutes before filling and baking. If you are making a crostata, just transfer your dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and go for it!… Making a crostata is an easy way to look like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day… when in fact… you haven’t!

MAKING AN APPLE CROSTATA

This recipe is great for when you don’t have time to make a pie! I would imagine that you can really use any fruit for this simple dessert… I have used apples and peaches (both were a hit), though I would guess raspberries or blueberries would also work.   It appears that a lot of work went into it when you can literally throw it together and get it in the oven in about 15 minutes, start to finish – that is, if you already have pie dough ready!  Serves 4 (though it can be cut to serve 6). Eat it for breakfast… or dessert!

You will need:

  • one pie crust (for one 9″ crust) rolled out into a 10-12″ circle
  • 2 fresh apples (or 2 peaches, if you prefer… I only used one apple in these pictures, but I would recommend two)
  • splash of lemon juice (if using apples)- optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp  sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy margarine
  • 1 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling over the top
  • soy milk for the “egg wash”

1) Simply cut the apples into thin slices. Put in a bowl and drizzle a tiny bit of lemon juice over them and toss to keep from browning. I’m not really sure how necessary the lemon juice is, since it’s all getting baked in brown cinnamon anyway! But, do as you wish!

2) Roll out your pie dough and flip it onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

3) Dump apples into center of pie dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg over them. Dot all over with butter.

Roll out dough, pile on the fruit… believe it or not, this is only ONE apple!

Almost ready to bake!

4) Fold up edges gently and carefully around the center, pinching closed slightly if & where necessary. Brush the dough with soy milk and thoroughly sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top.

Bake at 425 F for 16-20 minutes or until golden! Let cool 5 minutes before sliding it right off the parchment onto a serving dish. Serve to the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of those awaiting!

An impressive yet simple dessert!

Cut into 4 or 6 slices! Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired! Eat for breakfast or dessert!

(I would like to note that I have made this crostata using spelt flour as well and though it was more delicate, it turned out delicious!)

Creamy Pumpkin Pancakes

I’m ready for the change of seasons.  I happily welcome Fall… and all its wonderful seasonal produce! Not to mention the color of the leaves… the crisp autumn air… the promise of gathering with family… even just the idea of an enticing aroma being emitted from a warm kitchen on a chilly day fills me with – for lack of better words – the spirit of the season!

Today is October 1… also known as World Vegetarian Day. Celebrate all walks of life by eating a meatless meal tonight, whatever it may be!  (Earn extra good karma points by having a vegan meal!)

If you haven’t noticed, my family likes breakfast foods a lot! Pancakes aren’t just considered a breakfast food in our home… sometimes we even eat them for dinner.  I usually throw some tempeh or soy-sage on the side for some added goodness. Pancakes are one of those meals that I can count on my kids more or less cleaning their plates, so anything I can mix into the batter to give some added nutrients is a plus.  (That reminds me – I recently read somewhere that recommended making pancakes using fresh carrot juice instead of milk.  I want to try that!)

October always puts me in the mood for cooking with pumpkin. Maybe because they are orange, or because of Halloween, or maybe cause I know we’ll be watching ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’  soon. And since we’re talking about it, I don’t blame Linus at all for believing in the Great Pumpkin.  After all, pumpkins are full of vitamins that help healthy vision, bone growth, reduce the risk of cancer & signs of aging, and offer protection against heart disease. They are loaded with vitamin A and antioxidants; they are also a good source of vitamins B, C, K, and E, and lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, pumpkins were found to be so prized by Native Americans for their nutritional value that pumpkins were often buried with the dead to provide them with sustenance in the next world. So… what’s not to believe in? Come to think of it, maybe they should’ve named that movie “It IS the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – and don’t you forget it!”

These pumpkin pancakes are so creamy they literally melt in your mouth.  I like to use almond milk and top the pancakes with chopped pecans. They are best cooked silver-dollar size… and eaten immediately, of coarse!

Creamy Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or liquid sweetener
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • < 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 cup or more pumpkin puree… I like to use 1/2 can of pumpkin (one can = about 2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • pecans for topping (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Mix wet (including pumpkin) in small bowl. Mix wet into dry. Cook silver dollar size pancakes on a hot griddle.  Top with chopped pecans & maple syrup! Devour!

It’s easy to turn a simple pumpkin pancake into a Halloween-inspired breakfast if so desired!

(To make a super easy pumpkin face, you could draw curved lines down the pumpkin from top to bottom using a chocolate chip.  I threw these “pumpkins” together in a real jiffy, hence the simple banana jack-o-lantern face… You could also easily make a face using chopped nuts or cut pieces of dried fruit – like apricots or mangos – or even small triangles of dark chocolate! Mmmm!)

If you are more of a waffle person, try these delicious pumpkin waffles!

Homemade Vegetarian Sausage

Check out our newest ‘Dinner and a Movie’ night, featuring the 1972 classic, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and some homemade vegetarian sausage.  If you have never seen this great cartoon, what are you waiting for! It’s a family favorite over here…. And if you haven’t seen it since 1972, it’s time to rent it again!  (No offense to the newer version with Dakota Fanning and Julia Roberts, but you just can’t beat the animated classic!)

Click HERE to read all about it and to get the recipe!!

 

Vegan Pot Roast

Simplicity is best.  We often find that to be true in many areas of our life… with our belongings, in our decorating… and especially with food!

I just love this recipe because it always turns out delicious, my kids like to eat it (BIG thumbs up there), and it is incredibly simple to throw together, even though it does bake for roughly 45 minutes to an hour.  The “meat” part is actually optional… Just the veggies by themselves make a terrific side dish for any meal!  (Psssst!  This is a good one to keep in mind for Thanksgiving!)

Sometimes my kids eat better eating off of their “face” plates! And, I must admit, Mom (aka me) always has a good time coming up with new looks!

Vegan Pot Roast

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (i prefer extra virgin)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (we usually use the low-sodium kind)
  • 1/2 tsp dry sage
  • veggies of choice (see below)
  • the “meat”  (optional) – I LOVE using a Field Roast veggie roast. You could also use a frozen Tofurkey (thawed first).  Another option is to stir in some Golden Tofu or some pre-cooked seitan or cubed tempeh.

1) Start with chopping your choice of veggies (the following veggies are my pot roast favorites):

  • carrots (3-5 carrots, sliced into rounds, about 1/4″
    thick… no thicker than 1/2″)
  • potatoes (2 small-medium, any kind, cut into chunks)
  • onion (1 medium or 1/2 large, peeled and quartered)

2) Make the marinade by whisking together the olive oil, soy sauce and sage.

3) Next place roast (if using) in center of a lidded pan, and add the veggies around it.  Drizzle all the veggies and the “meat” with half the marinade.  Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, then gently stir around the veggies, adding the other half of the marinade.  Cover and cook another 25 minutes or so until the biggest pieces of your veggies are soft. Slice, serve and devour!

I will remind you that I do not get paid to suggest these products… If you see me recommending a product, its because I genuinely like it!

Here you can see my cooked pot roast, in which I used a Field Roast as the center.

YUM.

Vegan Macaroni Salad

We started out our day this morning in the garden.  Our garden is currently producing cucumbers at warp speed , so I’ve been trying to think of recipes that use cucumbers.  Ironically, this recipe doesn’t contain any cucumbers, but bear with me! There will be some coming! I am not a HUGE cucumber person… I’m not sure why I planted 6 (yes, six!) cucumber plants in our garden this year.  But, on the bright side, it’s been forcing me to eat cucumbers with a vengeance.  So far, with our first ones, we’ve been making salads… eating cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches… we have had hummus with slices of cucumber on the side… falafel patties topped with cucumber and tomato.  I think I may try to make my own pickles this year with some of them.  What is your favorite thing to do with cucumbers?

This morning we made a big “Green Juice” in the juicer, containing (surprise!) cucumber, apple, kale, spinach and celery.  It was really refreshing! My kids didn’t care for it though -not sweet enough I guess!  Maybe I will add more apples for them next time.

It’s finally starting to really feel like summer here in good old Georgia, with pleasant morning temperatures climbing high late in the afternoon… but it’s not late enough in the year to be deathly hot yet!  Ahhh… it’s totally one of those days that makes me want to make sweet tea (if you’re from the south you will know what I mean) and grill out vegan hot dogs with macaroni salad and potato chips on the side… which brings me to today’s recipe – Macaroni Salad!

This macaroni salad is delicious, easy AND healthy… it is tofu based instead of mayo based… You could use vegan mayo if you wanted to, but trust me and try this first – everything I have ever made from scratch always turns out better!  Make this ahead of time and keep cold until ready to serve.  Even though it’s not made with mayonnaise, I personally don’t like to leave anything that should be cold sitting out in the hot sun for long!  This is a great salad to have around on the Fourth of July or at any picnic or cookout!

I changed very little from the original recipe, which is from Vegan Planet, one of my first and very favorite cookbooks! Robin Robertson never lets me down.  She makes vegan cooking seem so easy!

Vegan Macaroni Salad

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 cup minced celery (I only used 1/4 cup)
  • > 1/2 block silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

1 – Cook the noodles in some boiling salted water until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse well under cold water.  You want to rinse off the starch and stop them from cooking any furthur and turning into mush! Put them in a large bowl and continue on.  (You could even shock the noodles in a little ice bath to stop them from cooking and chill them really quick if you wanted to.)

2- In a blender or food processor, combine the tofu, soy milk and process until smooth.  Scrape down the sides and process again. Stir in by hand the onion, celery, relish, lemon juice, mustard, salt and cayenne to taste (or save the cayenne for last and sprinkle on top as serving).  Add the cold (drained) pasta noodles and mix well.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving cold. Devour… alongside your other favorite summer dishes!

This easy macaroni salad is a great addition to any BBQ, cookout or picnic!

Happy Vegan Cinco de Mayo

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo which means most of you are probably getting together for a good time in one way or another.  We like to have a vegan taco night at our house once a week or so… it’s one of our favorite (& easiest) dinners!   My kids are extremely fond of dipping chips into refried beans and guacamole.  They could literally make a meal of that if I let them! Their favorite tacos are simple soft-shelled tacos with beans &  lettuce with a mild sauce, or burritos with the same filling.  I usually like throwing a few more veggies (like olives green pepper & onions) & rice into my burritos… and sometimes tofu!

Most store-bought guacamole and tortilla chips are vegan – just read the ingredients!  I prefer to buy organic when possible.

This meal is a good example of something quick (and mostly store-bought) that you can easily throw together. It can be made start to finish in under 20 minutes. If you have extra time, it is nice to make beans & rice or some kind of  pan-fried tofu cubes to add some home-made quality to this meal. If you are lucky, you can go outside and pluck many of these ingredients from your own garden (like lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper and cilantro) or get them from your local farmers market.

Making tacos is such a deliciously easy way celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I think most of these brands should be easily found in your grocery store, some (or all) items maybe found in the “healthy” section. 

If you can find this stuff, you will quickly be in vegan taco heaven!

My favorite taco shells are made by Bearitos.  They have blue or yellow corn taco shells. We also use their vegetarian refried beans.  The low-fat and the fat-free are both great!   Fantastic Foods makes a “taco filling” that I absolutely love – It comes in a box and you simply mix it with water. Easy and yummy!

And who can eat tacos without sour cream? Not me! I like Tofutti brand the best. 

Best store-bought vegan sour cream ever!

If you are a lover of cheese… shredded Vegan Gourmet cheddar or Daiya cheddar are both good for this occasion.

And of coarse, on taco night, frozen margaritas are always a welcome addition to the table! And to keep the kids from feeling left out, you can easily freeze some lemonade in ice-cube trays and blend it up for their very own slushy!

We just had taco night a few nights ago but we are ready to eat it all over again tomorrow! Yum!

Here is the spread from our last taco night fiesta!

Vegan ground beef, refried beans & rice… the base of an excellent taco or burrito.

Oh yeeeaaahhh….

Agave Glazed Carrots, 2 ways

Personally, I am always looking for new exciting ways to eat veggies… And I am always looking for new and exciting ways to get my kids to eat their veggies!  I am a bone fide veggie lover, but I was not always thus!  In fact, I remember frowning at many a plate of veggies as a child (a.k.a. pretty much all of them).  My turning vegan (or even vegetarian) probably dumbfounded my parents!

Tonight I am tackling ways to eat carrots.  Lets see.. my kids are fond of carrot juice, pot roasted carrots (basically seasoned with olive oil, tamari and sage), plain carrots with hummus, carrot cake (obviously), and… well, that may sum it up.  I guess I should be happy that they eat carrots at all, but it never hurts to keep trying new ways… for everything, all the time 🙂

Carrots are pretty abundant at the farmers market right now.  I love to use fresh local carrots, or organic store-bought.  The deer usually make our garden into their own personal feasting grounds once things start to sprout, so we haven’t planted much yet this year.  In fact, this upcoming weekend I am planning on doing lots of planting and deer proofing our garden.

This first agave-glazed carrot recipe is simple and sweet.  It’s super fast, delicious, and kid approved.

Agave-Glazed Carrots 

  • 1 lb carrots (about 8 medium)
  • 1 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  •  2 Tbsp soy margarine

Put carrots in a pot with just enough water to cover them.  Boil until fork tender.  Drain.  Add margarine & agave to the pot and stir together until glaze forms, then add carrots.  Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon if desired!

(Pssst! These carrots are also really yummy if you use maple syrup instead of agave nectar and add some dill!)

Balsamic-Agave Roasted Carrots

This method took about 45-60 minutes but the end result was delicious. It has a little more of a “grown up” flavor, if you will. My kids didn’t go for these so much. Oh well. You gotta try everything once! 

  • 1 lb carrots (about 8 medium carrots)
  • 1 turnip (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  • olive oil for coating pan, as needed

** For another option, replace the agave nectar with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and add 1 tsp each fresh chopped rosemary and sage.

Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and uniformly cut carrots and turnip, if using. Whisk together the vinegar and agave.  Oil up your roasting pan and arrange the veggies on a single layer.  Put about 2/3 of your mix on the veggies. Roast for 25 minutes. Pull out of oven, add the remaining agave/vinegar and toss.  Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until tender!

I love roasted vegetables!  If you haven’t already, you should try these maple roasted parsnips! Roasting any kind of root vegetable makes a great side dish for any season! 

 

Muppet Party Over Here, HAAAAY!

We decided to join our kids birthday parties this year so we could have one giant muppetational celebrational party!  My family and the Muppets go WAY back, so I have been super excited about this 🙂 My daughter just turned 4 on Jan 22 and my son is turning 2 on Feb 14. Their birthdays are pretty close, they basically have the same friends, & they are still so young, I figured I could get away with combining parties… just this once!

Happy Birthday!

MY MUPPETATIONAL CRAFTS

I found all kinds of cool crafts to print out on card stock on this Disney website.  It is FULL of cute ideas for having a muppet party!  I was even contemplating making my own Beaker pinata, but time just caught up with me and I didn’t get around to it!

"These are so cool, Mom!"

Here are the muppet stick-puppets I made… By “made”,  I mean I downloaded them, printed them, cut them out and laminated them and then cut them out again! As you can see, they came in two different sizes – small (which went into the goody bags) and large.  It was really easy, but tedious. They are great though – you can do so many things with them… play like a puppet show, tape them to the windows, stick them in a plant… I keep thinking of more ways to use them!

Here are the little ones, going through my laminater!

And here are the big ones, which are taped to jumbo pop sticks. Check out the pic above with my girl for a better size reference.

Click on this great link to check out how to make these stick-puppets and more muppet party crafts.  These muppet “pookaloos” are too cute, in my opinion.

Once these were laminated, they were very versatile!

I even printed some out on special magnetic paper for my kids for some playtime at the refrigerator!

I also printed out and laminated these animal door hangers for everyone too! I downloaded these off the Disney site shown above.  (Yes, I own a laminater, and I would recommend having one!  You’d be surprised at all the stuff you find lying around that is good to have laminated!)

And of coarse, I had to make cards for the food… Just look up images of muppet characters online and you will find plenty of choices!  Just cut and paste carefully on some card stock and… ta-da!

MY MUPPETATIONAL FOOD

It sure was fun trying to think of funny muppety food for the party 🙂  I copied some of the food-labeling ideas off of other muppet party sites and then veganized things to my liking.  I actually made up 2 new recipes that are my new favorites! I really wanted to make muppet cake pops but I have never worked with fondant and most of the cake-pop dips have some milk product in them.  Luckily I found these cute little muppet rings to use as cupcake toppers on Ebay and got a whole set of 24 for only $7! (I also bought the muppet mugs you see, the muppet plates, balloons, and probably everything else you ask “where did she get THAT?!” Answer = Ebay!)

I found these awesome sigma collectible cups on Ebay for a STEAL! I even got Rowlf (not pictured)!

Kermit & Piggy’s Chocolate Death Cupcakes with Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting – need I say more! (Read more about these cupcakes in my last post ‘Mama’s Sugar Cookies and more for the vegan sweet tooth’.)

These toppers were little rings!

Kermits Rainbow Connection Fruit Skewers – since its February and some fruit is out of season, it took a little looking around to get the organic fruit we wanted for these, but we managed just fine! 🙂 Recipe: Buy, wash, skew and serve!

Mmmm! Fresh fruit rules!

Scooters Back-Stage Snacks – basic hummus & veggies, chips & salsa (My hummus recipe is the first one on my blog. The salsa was store-bought.)

Chips, veggies, salsa & hummus... party staples

Rowlf’s Favorite Treats  (a.k.a. muppet sugar cookies) – I scored this set of cookie cutters on Ebay and used my moms awesome sugar cookie recipe, which she veganized for me (Thanks mama! This recipe appears in my last post!)

my muppet cookie cutters

The best sugar cookies ever - even Rowlf agrees!

Waldorf & Statler’s Raw Vegan Waldorf Salad – I took the traditional Waldorf salad and gave it a healthy spin by omitting the vegan mayo base (since it would be sitting out on the table anyway) and using a different kind of “dressing”.  I got the idea for this one after looking on a raw foods website. (I also decided not to serve it on lettuce for the party… too complicated.)  The recipe is at the end of this blog. It was SO good!!  And of coarse, I had to come up with a witty card for this one!

I forgot to take off the lid for this picture - DOH!

Dr. Teeth’s Secret Stash (of candy) – This was a great way to get help rid of our leftover candy!

Electric Mayhem-osas – yep, we made a pitcher of mimosas for the adults to enjoy!

Dr Bunsen Honeydew & Beeker’s Latest Creation – their latest creation, in this case, was a fresh batch of apple-orange-carrot-ginger juice, made by my Brevelle juicer! Mmmmmmm!  Recipe: buy, wash, chop, juice, drink!

Please excuse my plastic wrap!

Animals Drumsticks – These were just simple bread sticks for quick munching!

Fozzie Bear’s “Bear-y Good Snacks” – these were cinnamon and chocolate teddy grahams.  I had to have something I didn’t make myself!  I discovered that these were vegan by looking at this website, which I check frequently for easy store-bought vegan goodies.

Usually I eat Annie's bunny grahams, but these were perfect for a quick find for Fozzie.

Camilla & Gonzo’s GarGONZO Bean Salad – This bean salad is sooo good, healthy and quick to whip up!  Even though it was a kids party, I tried to have as many healthy foods as I could. This was my first time making this and it worked beautifully.  It was delicious!   Think bruchetta without the bread, & add chickpeas.  This was one of the first things gone! The recipe is at the end of this blog 🙂

Sorry for the bad pic! At least you can see the cute card 😉 This was before I stirred it - it was a party favorite!

MY MUPPETATIONAL GIFT BAGS

We made our own recyclable party sacks by carving a Kermit stamp out of a potato and we used finger paint to stamp each bag!

our Kermit potato stamps

Here they are before I added the red mouths

Inside each one we had muppet coloring pages, bubble stuff, mini muppet stick-puppets, an animal door-hanger, a pack of muppet bandz bracelets & muppet stickers in each bag for the kids.

Here are SOME of our Muppet dolls & puppets!!

My sister made this awesome Muppet throw she found at JoAnne Fabrics! She also made the picture board thingy on the left! What are those called?!

Muppet t-shirts were mandatory.

Who isn't happy with a mouthful of frosting and a Miss Piggy ring?!

Muppet puppets RULE!

...And so do Fraggle puppets!

Now THAT'S a smile!

Even MY friends came to the party... with their kids, of coarse!! I still can't believe that me and my high school girlfriends are all mamas! Apologies to those not pictured. (That's me in the Animal T-shirt.)

It was truly a terrific muppetational celebrational party!

~

 THE RECIPES:

~

Camilla & Gonzo’s  GarGONZO Bean Salad

  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Roma (or any kind of small) tomatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh minced basil

In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk well, then add the beans.  Toss.  Place tomatoes in a serving bowl (I used a nice glass tupperware with a lid) and add onion & basil.  Sprinkle with a wee bit more salt and pepper if desired.  Top with the bean mixture.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour.  Toss before serving.

Waldorf & Statler’s Raw “Waldorf” Salad

  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups diced apple
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • > 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • halved grapes (optional – I didn’t add these, but i meant to!)
  • lettuce to serve on (optional – again, I didn’t use lettuce because I thought it was just great as is!)

Mix the orange juice, agave and lemon juice.  Add the rest of ingredients.  Stir together and chill or simply serve straight away! DEVOUR!!!!!!

 (If you wanted to make this more “traditional”, you could leave out the orange juice and add 1/3 cup vegan mayo and maybe a splash of water, if necessary? Never done it, but I’m just sayin’…)

Both of these recipes above are also gluten-free 🙂

Baby Shower Love

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days 😦 My sisters baby shower was at my house this past Sunday, of which we had been preparing for for several days beforehand! To those of you who are not familiar with hosting a party, that means lots of extra cleaning and food & decoration planning/preparing/etc. My sister is gluten free (and mostly soy free) so we were getting pretty creative with our food ideas. I snapped all the pictures of the food before the guests came.  Last week, my family was hitting our freezer and fridge pretty hard to make some room and we ordered take out twice to make things easier on ourselves! Phew!  I am feeling very happy and relieved – now if I can just relax for a few days until my kids MUPPET BIRTHDAY BLOWOUT this coming Sunday! 🙂

Yes, Sunday’s baby shower was a smashing success, if I may say so! The shower theme was woodland animals… owls, foxes, etc.  So we had all kinds of cute munchies and eats.  Check out all the awesome stuff we all made!

This is the "tree of advice" where we all clipped cards written with our own motherly words of wisdom. My mother made each and every one of the little leaf clips!

homemade baked corn tortilla "owl" chips

Thanks to my oldest sister, the martha stewart of our family... She made a bunch of these beautiful tissue-paper pompoms (which I am keeping up until after the next party and then recycling them).

My sister also made these incredibly cute “mushrooms” made of tomato and mozzerella (not vegan)…

The tomato and mozzeralla "mushrooms" (not vegan) were so adorable!

AND these super cute chocolate covered cherry mice.   I really need to find a way to get a hersheys kiss mold so I can make these vegan at some point. They were amazing.

These chocolate-covered cherry mice were a hit! If only they made vegan hershey's kisses!

My mom whipped up three kinds of sugar cookies (regular, vegan, and gluten free) shaped as owls, moose, bears, rabbits, etc. They were really cute too… and absolutely delicious!  I am waiting for her to send me her vegan recipe so I can make some muppet sugar cookies for my kids party next week!

Of coarse, we had chips & salsa, hummus & veggies, and a mixed organic fruit bowl… the usual party staples…  I must also brag that we also used all recycled paper products and compostable silverware… This was a seriously green party 🙂

In this next picture, you can see my deviled v’eggs (tofu “egg” salad inside of silken tofu squares)… and in front of them, are the “pinecone” crackers (brown rice crackers with tofutti cream cheese and slivered almonds).

I also made a big pitcher of fresh carrot-apple-ginger juice  with my juicer.  You cant beat freshly juiced juice!  Mmmmmm!!  It was gone so fast I didn’t even get a picture because the pitcher was practically empty!

And of coarse, no party is complete without cupcakes.  These were the “Chocolate Freedom Cupcakes with Vegan (soyfree) Buttercream Frosting”.  I used the gluten-free chocolate cupcake recipe from the cookbook “vegan cupcakes rule the world”.  They were awesome!! They were made by using a blend of different gluten-free flours – quinoa, white rice and tapioca.  If you dont have this cupcake cookbook, I consider it a must-have.  Buy it.  Now.

Chocolate vegan (& gluten free) cupcakes with soy-free vanilla vegan buttercream frosting. And of coarse, the cute stick was made by my sister Martha - I mean Jenny 😉

Of coarse, we had to thank our guests for coming with a thank you basket full of goodies!  Our thanks consisted of a Larabar raw food bar (or in some cases, a Luna bar), an organic (vegan) lollipop, a homemade laminated owl bookmark, a pack of flowers (to plant in the container itself come spring), & a packet of green tea and a packet of chamomile tea.  I had actually made birdseed ornaments to hang outside, but they didnt make the cut.  Better luck with those next time!

Several of the recipes seen here are already on my blog (v’egg salad & hummus) and some are simple and just easy to throw together (like the tomato/mozzarella shrooms for the non-vegans or the pinecone crackers) and some are soon to come (like vegan sugar cookies & cupcakes).

One of my friend’s just had a baby, so we are helping them out by making them a vegan lasagna for dinner one night next week, so I will be sharing my vegan lasagna and tofu ricotta recipe in the next few days too.

Make sure not to miss my upcoming blog about my kid’s muppet party! There will be lots of funny muppety snacks and crafts!

Vegan Chicken Pot Pie

As I was looking to eat up some produce and clean out the freezer this afternoon, I discovered I had all the essential ingredients to make a vegan chicken pot pie.  I hadn’t made one in a while, and I somehow forgot how much I loved them! I tend to think of pot-pie as a cold-weather comfort food,  and I’m still waiting for it to get colder here where I live… but as far as I’m concerned, there are no rules on good food – I’d eat this meal any time of the year!

I’m glad I made something new today because the last few days I have been cooking all my old favorites, most of which I have already posted on my blog.  This week we have had my fettuccine no-fredo, mac-n-cheeseless, and homemade veggie burgers (which is actually one I have not blogged yet).  Here’s some more of what we’ve been up to…

I cooked my first donut-holes in my Babycakes cake-pop maker and they turned out really fantastic 🙂  My kids couldn’t get enough of them (surprise, surprise)! I just veganized one of the recipes in the book that came with the machine. Boy was it nice to eat a little donut hole again that wasnt fried (though I have been meaning to make some “real” donuts soon).

These apple cider donuts with cinnamon sugar & powdered sugar were great!

This morning we made my buttermilk biscuits for breakfast and I tried something new by adding a round tofu “egg” (if you will) to make my own sort of “McVegan Biscuit” thing… It was really easy and was a nice change to try something new – I just cut my block of tofu down the side 2 times to make 3 skinny rectangles (about 1/4″ thick), then I used my biscuit cutter to cut 3 big circles out of the rectangles (1 of which I cut in half again to make 2 really thin circles for the kids), then I cut the rest in strips.  All I did to cook them was pan fry them in a teeny bit of olive oil and I added a splash of soy sauce while they were cooking.  I mean, it’s no egg, but it was good, esp on top of my little GimmeLean Soysage Patty 🙂

My McVegan Biscuit = soysage & tofu patties in a buttermilk biscuit! Next time I'm adding soy cheese!

Anyway, so back to the pot pie… this recipe was originally in the Vegan Planet cookbook (as the Winter Vegetable Pot Pie) although I changed their recipe quite a bit.  I may also suggest making the dough ball first, as I find it easier to roll out a crust when the dough is cold. In fact, I usually put my ingredients (flour and all) into the freezer to get really cold before making the crust.  It seems to make the dough easier to handle and tear less while rolling.

~Vegan Chicken Pot Pie~

TO MAKE THE FILLING:

    • 2 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 3 long baby carrots (or 1 large carrot) chopped
    •  1 bag of frozen veg (10 oz bag)
    • 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
    • 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    • 12 ounces of mock meat coarsely chopped (I used an entire bag of Gardein chicken scallopini + 1 more patty, though you could also use seitan or tofu)
    • salt and pepper to taste
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •  1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled corn or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp ice water

1) First make the filling by cooking the potato & carrot in a pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside

2) In a small saucepan, bring the stock and tamari to a boil over med-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer, stirring, until thickened 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3) Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the onion to a lightly oiled 2-quart casserole dish.

4) Reheat the skillet and add the “meat”. Season with salt & pepper to taste and cook, stirring until browned, about 5 min. Transfer to the casserole dish.  Stir in the peas, potatoes/carrot mixture, and sauce and set aside.

5) Preheat the oven to 350 F.

6) Make the crust by combining the flour & salt in the food processor, pulsing to blend. Add the oil and process until the mixture is crumbly.  With the machine running, slowly add the water and process until the dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle slightly larger than the casserole dish. Place the crust over the casserole and crimp the edges. I found that rolling the dough on parchment paper made it a breeze to flip the crust over right on top of the casserole. 

7) Bake until the filling is hot and bubbly and the crust is lightly browned, about 45-55 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Devour.

Perfect for my pot pie!

This is the "chicken" I used - it was great!

Here is the filling before adding the sauce...

... and after adding the sauce! Time to make the crust!

~ ~ ~ rolling out the crust ~ ~ ~

Hey! I'm ready for the oven now!

Here it is just out of the oven! Time to set the table!

The first piece always crumbles apart, but... who cares?!

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And yes, we all cleaned our plates! AND my husband and I both had seconds…
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It was really funny & sweet because during dinner, my daughter said to me, “Mom, I’m in love with your food!” and when Arlo was taking his last bites, he said “WOOW“! (It was kinda like saying wow how that Joey guy says “Whoa”!)
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"All Done!"