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Vegetable Chowder

I made this recipe over the weekend and found it to be quite satisfying.  It’s been so snowy and cold here, something we are not used to!  And I don’t foresee getting used to it anytime soon…brrrr~ I made quite a few changes to the original recipe and I think the end product came out to be everything I was craving.

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I had never made a “chowder” before.  After adding all the ingredients and finally the potatoes I got a bit anxious it was going to be to thick (the way a chowder should be!!!) and burn up in the pot before my potatoes were cooked all the way through.  Ignorantly, I added about 3-4 Cups of water…making my chowder…well..a brothy soup!! It was grand nonetheless! The flavors blended so well together, there is nothing better than the combination of potatoes and corn.  A perfect vegetarian soup..errr..chowder 🙂

 

Yield

6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Ingredients

·         1  tablespoons  butter

·         1  tablespoon  olive oil

·         1 large onion

·         1/2  cup  finely chopped carrots

·         1/2  cup  finely chopped green bell pepper

·         2  cups  2% milk

·         3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour

·         3  cups  veggie broth

·         2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)

·         2  pounds  cubed peeled Yukon gold or red potato

·         1 1/4  teaspoon  salt

·         1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

·         1/4  cup  finely chopped fresh parsley

 

Preparation

Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, pepper; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Combine milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, corn, potato, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in parsley.

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Like always, this was 10 times better the following day 🙂

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For the past several months I have seen these vegan cupcakes all over the blogging world!  They look so good but for some reason I never got around to making them.  Then the lovely  Jenna reminded me just how droolworthy these little babies looked!! So I just had to try them kicks and giggles.  Luckily we have weekend guests coming, so they won’t all be consumed by moi!
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Vegan Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, chocolate extract, or more vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and other extract, if using, to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK).
  3. Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Vegan Butter Cream Frosting.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, we use Earth Balance
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.

2. Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.

Variation:Cookies ‘n’ Cream Frosting (pictured): Stir into frosting 1/2 cup (about 5 cookies; mash first, then measure) of finely mashed vegan chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, like Newman-O’s. Frost cupcakes generously, and top each cupcake with half of a sandwich cookie.

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The very best part? You are free to consume as much of the batter as your little heart desires (NO RAW EGG WOO!HOO!)……for the record I only had a few tiny licks of the spoon..honest!! 

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The first thing that attracted me to Donna Hay was, of course, the beautiful photography that drenches her books and magazines.  They are so simple yet so extravagant.   

 

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In this cookbook Hay takes all of our classic recipes that we grew up with and gives them an eloquent modern twist, such as soy simmered chicken.  This is such a breath of fresh air for the culinary world.  This book contains an array of very basic how-to’s along with a descriptive glossary, conversions and a list of useful tools.  This is a great book that ever new and seasoned cook should have in their kitchen.  It’s so nice to have one book to refer to when for basic things that not everyone knows how to do, such as making gravy, roasting a chicken, making hummus.  All of these recipes are very traditional recipes and I love how she lays it all out in descriptive wording and step by step pictures. 

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I’m very much a soup person and I love new soup recipes, so I was naturally eager to see what this book had to offer…honestly I think that is the one pitfall of Modern Classics.  I just was not that impressed with this section of the book.  yes, it has the basic how-to’s for French onion, minestrone, clam chowder and chicken stock.  For some reason I just felt the chapter was lacking in comparison to the others. 

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Recipes I’ve made and love from this book: basic bolognese sauce (the best sauce I have ever made!), hummus, basic mash, basic howto rice, lemon parmesan risotto.

Recipes I’m dying to try: Vegetable tempura, mixed mushroom risotto, smoked ham and cheddar quiche, vegetable pie, laksa.

Interesting recipes: Octopus salad, creamy spring vegetable soup, thai green chicken curry.

I love the quote on the back of the book, it depicts this cookbook perfectly “Commonsense cooking redefined with modern ingredients, outlook and style”.  🙂 I love it.

For more on Donna Hay check out her website here.  She is, on a smaller scale, the Martha Stewart of Australia. If you ever get the chance to check out her Magazines or Cookbooks you will be captivated.

Whole Wheat Pita Chips

This is a great recipe!  It is so versatile and easy to make.  You can get as creative or keep it simple, it doesn’t matter they come out tasting great every time.  These chips were gone in minutes!  They are healthy and give you the satisfying crunch you crave when reach for a chip.  They are great paired with hummus or veggie dip or even have as a side with your soup and sandwich.  I love making my own pita chips because you can control the salt and its fun to choose your own seasonings.  The possibilities are really endless.  Plus when you make them yourself they are WAY cheaper than buying them packaged and they the fresh out of the oven taste is hard to beat.  Below is the basic recipe I use, remember you can change the toppings however you like. 

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Whole Wheat Pita Chips

12 Bread pita pockets

1/2 C olive oil

1/2 t black pepper

1 t garlic salt

1/2 t dried basil

 

Preheat oven 400*. 

Cut pita’s into 8 triangles.  Line on a cookie sheet

Combing Olive oil, pepper, salt and basil.

Brush on to the triangles.  Flip and brush the other side.

Bake for about 7 min.  Keep a watchful eye on them, they burn easy.

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I’m most definitely not a ‘bar person’.  It was not until I started reading food blogs that I started buying a few bars here and there.  Overall, even after trying quite a few bars, I’m still not a person that loves bars.  I think most of them have way too many ingredients (some of which I have not clue what they are), have way too many calories, never satisfy my hunger, taste like cardboard. 

One brand that I have found that I absolutely love is Larabars.  For the most part I like most of the flavors I’ve tried, they taste good, the calories are reasonable, they have very few ingredients! But honestly they don’t hold me over very long thats for sure.

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Living in a small town, finding a variety of flavors is hard to come by.  But I finally made it to Whole Foods and found the Coconut Cream Pie flavor I’ve been dying to try!  I was not disappointed!! This by far is my absolute favorite bar I have ever had! 

Only downside: these bars are pretty expensive($1.50 per bar) and a bit high in calories(200 per bar), not much protien (3g per bar).

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The Ingredients are outstanding:

Dates, cashews, almonds, unsweetened coconut, extra virgin coconut oil.

Coconut Cream Pie

This weekend my mom and younger brother came down to visit us for the weekend.  I decided to make them a special dessert.  Every since I was little I always remembered how much my mom loved Coconut Cream Pie.  For her birthday every year we would get her one from Cracker Barrel.  I had never made pastry cream before so this was a little intimidating to me.  I also had to search for a different topping other than the usually meringue most people use on this pie.  The thought of using raw egg white…??.. I’m sorry I just can’t eat that stuff! 🙂 I felt weird enough putting the eggs in the pastry cream…I was very skeptical especially after the eggs had simmered and it smelled very egg-y!  But after refrigerating the pastry cream over night the egg aroma dissipated and a sweet creamy custard was the result.  The crust recipe is one that I have used for a couple of years now.  It was given to me by my sister and I absolutely love it; it never fails…..until this time and it didn’t really fail it just didn’t come out as perfect as usual…ha- I didn’t have any butter so I used all butter flavored crisco….barf!! I hate using crisco!!  The recipe below is the original recipe I usually use.  When I used all crisco the crust slid down the side of the pie dish when baking and I had to perform major crust surgery during the baking process.  My biggest tip for working with pie crust….make sure it is always COLD when you roll it out and never use butter flavored crisco 😉

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Coconut Cream pie

 

Pie Crust

1 ½ C AP Flour

¾ t Salt

2/3 C Butter (or ½ crisco ½ butter) chilled, cut into small pieces

5 T Ice Water

 

Sift dry ingredients together.

Add Butter, cut into flour mixture.

Add water 1 T at a time.  Tossing until small pea sized balls form.

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400*

On a well floured surface roll out to desired size. 

Place in a prepared pie dish.

Bake for about 15-20 min until golden brown.

 

Filling

½ C Sugar

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

3 T AP flour

1 ½ C 2% milk (or whole milk)

3/4C sweetened flaked coconut

¾ C unsweetened flaked coconut

1 t vanilla

1/8 t coconut extract

 

Whisk ½ C sugar, eggs, yolk, and flour in a medium bowl.  Brink milk and coconut to a simmer in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture.  Return to same sauce pan; cook until pastry cream thickens and boils a bit; stirring constantly (4 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Mix in vanilla and coconut extract.  Transfer to a medium bowl and press plastic wrap down on top of the cream, to prevent formation of skin on the surface.  Chill until cold at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.  Transfer to pie crust and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

 

Topping

2/3 C sweetened flaked coconut

1 ¼ C chilled whipping cream

2 T sugar

1/8 t coconut or vanilla extract

 

Toast coconut in a skillet over medium heat until lightly brown; stirring occasionally (3 min).  Using an electric mixer beat cream, sugar, and extract until peaks from.  Spread whipped cream over the top of the pie filling.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Can be prepared 4 hours ahead of time.  Cover and chill.  Serve cold.

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This was a great end to a lovely weekend. 🙂

Oatmeal Blueberry muffins

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I had a plethora of blueberries in my freezer that I desperately needed to use up.  So I did some searching for a healthy blueberry muffin.  I love blueberry muffins so much but considering bakery style muffins are usually loaded with butter and sugar I decided there has to be a better option. 

Much to my delight I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and with a few mondfications to make them a bit healthier these turned out to be just what I was looking for. 

These by no means are the enormous sugar/butter laden bakery style muffins I so dearly love, but they are a sweet healthy change to my usual oats for breakfast.  When paired with a warm cup of tea these lovely muffins make a great afternoon snack as well. 

INGREDIENTS

             1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (reserve 2 T)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix in milk, egg, and apple sauce; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Toss blueberries with 2 T flour, to ensure that they do not fall to the bottom of the muffins.  Fold in blueberries. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
  2. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

These muffins were gone in a matter of days…..Jonathan and little Ava loved them.  I love how these muffins are just the right amount of sweet.  If you are looking for a super sweet muffin this is recipe is NOT for you.  They are lightly sweetened. 

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My poor computer is still broken.  Posts maybe sporadic.  😦