Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chilled Double Chocolate Torte

Photo from 1st attempt
I claim nothing for this recipe. I deviated from my normal and followed this recipe to the letter (minus the type of oil). I got the recipe from one of my current favorite blogs, Oh She Glows. It's a fabulous blog, if you haven't checked it out yet, you should. The pictures of this on her blog are so much better than mine, too.

This cake was made for the little dude's early birthday party last night. Along with cleaning house, getting packed for our trip tomorrow, and everything else that goes along with that, I was able to whip this up no problem! I loved that this was the no-bake version, too, since it was warm yesterday and there was no way I was turning the oven on.

Photo from 4th attempt and shot in manual - more accurate representation

This was a huge hit - no one could even tell it was vegan.

Oh wait - you didn't know either? Sorry. It's a vegan dessert. And you can't tell. Pretty great, of you ask me!

My only note would be that any light tasting oil would work, I used grapeseed, the original called for coconut oil, and I'm pretty sure that even a really light EVOO would work since it's such a small quantity. The other note would be to make sure that your avocado are ripe, but not on that borderline almost-too-ripe line. One of mine was almost on that line, and thankfully the other two weren't because I suspect it wouldn't have been very good.

Chilled Double Chocolate Torte - edited 3-8-12
Serves 12-16 depending on how much rich chocolate you're up for consuming

  • 2 c pecans
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup or dark amber agave nectar (a LOT less expensive)
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 c avocado flesh (3 small avocados)
  • 1/3 c almond milk
  • 2/3 c pure maple syrup again, you can use dark amber agave nectar
  • 1 T smooth peanut butter
  • 1 T arrowroot powder- I'm not where you'd find this. I went to Whole Foods and while the guy said they usually carried it, they didn't. Thankfully he was nice and asked the baker to give me the amount I needed.  I used cornstarch and it turned out just fine and didn't alter the taste
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
To make the crust:
--Oil a 7-10 inch springform pan and line it with a circle of parchment paper or tin foil. In a food processor, pulse the pecans until crumbly. Be careful not to over process them as you still want them a bit chunky. Now add in the rest of the crust ingredients and pulse until just mixed. Scoop mixture onto prepared pan and press down firmly and evenly with slightly wet spatula. Freeze while making the mousse.

To make the mousse:
--Place all mousse ingredients (except chocolate chips) into food processor. Process until smooth. In a small bowl, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave and scoop melted chocolate into food processor mixture. Process until smooth.
--Remove crust from freezer and scoop this mousse on top of crust. Smooth out as much as possible and then place in the freezer for 2 hours to firm.
-- Once firm, remove from freezer and allow to sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes before serving chilled. Place leftover torte in the freezer wrapped and placed in a seal container.
Note that this torte should be served chilled as it gets soft at room temperature.

One of the best parts? This is what your sink will look like when you're all done!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lentil Tacos

These were a-ma-zing, Amazing, I say. I was a little skeptical, but they came out better than I expected, and quite honestly, Scot and I like them better than a regular taco!  The seasoning had just enough kick in it, the texture was right on (not too mushy or crunchy), and they were so filling. I made them for some non-vegan friends who are staying with us right now, and they both agreed that they really liked them and wanted the recipe!

The best part? All four children (three and under) ate them up! I was impressed. Even my little dude ate them happily! We served these with some sweet potato fries (YUM!) and that just made the meal. You can top these with whatever you would usually top tacos with - we did tomato, sour cream, cheese, and shredded greens. Olives would have been nice, too, but I didn't have any on hand - next time I will. :)

Oh - and I doubled this recipe (since it takes 30 mins to just simmer!) and froze the other half for later use!

Lentil Tacos
Feeds 6

Active Time: 10 minutes
Simmer Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serving Suggestions:  Serve with a quinoa salad of some sort and some sweet potato fries.

What you'll need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chunky salsa
  • 12 thin whole wheat “soft taco” tortillas OR hard taco shells
  • Taco toppings of your choice: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese

What you'll do:

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add lentils and spices and stir for about 1 minute.
  • Add broth, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes until thick but not dry. Slightly mash lentils.
  • Stir in salsa and heat through.
  • Spoon the mixture into the taco shells or tortillas and top with whatever you want!  

Nutrition Facts (2 tacos, hard shells*):
Calories 343 (Calories from fat 89); Total Fat 10g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 787mg; Potassium 446mg; Total Carbohydrate 52g (Dietary Fiber 14g); Sugars 6g; Protein 12g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 386 IU; Vitamin C 4mg; Calcium 72mg; Iron 3mg; Folate 188mcg

*Nutrient calculation does not include toppings, as those will vary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Use the carrots!

The other night when I made the lentil loaf, I talked with my mom and she mentioned how a lentil loaf she used to have a recipe for called for carrots, and I got to thinking that it was a pretty good idea.

So tonight when I made the loaf (two of them actually, one to eat tonight and one to freeze for Scot for while I'm gone) I added about 3/4 cup of shredded/processed carrots to each loaf and oh. my. goodness.

I'm never looking back.

They added to the texture and they made the loaf. It was a little sweeter and less "lentil-y" - which originally wasn't a bad thing, but it bumped the meal up from being something I'd eat again, to being one of my favorite vegan meals I've made!

So now the lentil loaf recipe reflects the carrot change.

But in case you need further urging. Use the carrots!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers

I don't even know how to start this post, so please forgive me if it's jumbled! Scot and I both liked this meal. We like the "stuffing" better by itself, so if I make this again in the peppers, I'll up the spices a little so the pepper doesn't overpower the wonderful taste of the "stuffing". But - seeing as bell peppers can be quite pricey, I think what I'll do next time is make this into a hearty one-meal salad type dish with cut up bell peppers in it. Also, I think I'll add slivered almonds, some sliced green onions, carrots, and chickpeas next time.

This recipe makes a ton, too! I could have filled 5 or 6 peppers! That's 10 - 12 pepper halves, people! So we obviously had leftover stuffing, and I just ate it on it's own for lunch today. Delish! This recipe is so incredibly flexible, it can bend over backwards and then backward again. Seriously. I deviated so far from the original (boring) recipe and I will deviate even more next time. They were so easy to throw together, too! Here they are ready to get popped in the oven. Don't they look so summer-yummy?

Even my 3 year old loved them!

But now, for the recipe.

Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • 1.5 c Bulgar (uncooked) - You could use brown rice, millet or quinoa instead
  • 4 whole red peppers - halved and seeded
  • 2 small granny smith apples - peeled and chopped
  • 1 cucumber - diced
  • 2 cups tomatoes - diced
  • 1/2 cup total of raisins or craisins or both
  • 2 t OO
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2-3 T basil
  • 1 T Herbs de Provence or Italian spices
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 T curry
--Cook Bulgar according to directions (1/5 dry bulgar to 3 cups water. Boil water, add bulgar, let it boil, and then take it off heat, covered, for 20 minutes)
--Meanwhile, chop and mix all other ingredients together (minus peppers unless you're going the route I'll take next time)
-- Once bulgar is done cooking, drain off any excess liquid (there should be very very little) and add to bowl. Mix in thoroughly and then "stuff" the pepper halves. You can also just core the peppers and stuff them standing up for an even prettier presentation.
-- Place in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, covered. Next time I think I'll nuke them first to soften them up before stuffing them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lentil Loaf

I got a little tired of quinoa, so I hunted around for a different source of protein. I've never had lentils other than in my lentil soup - which it turns out, is a vegan recipe - and so I had no idea all the things you can do with it. You can make tacos (something I plan on trying soon) and you can make this lentil loaf! I was hesitant to say the least -- lentils in loaf form? No thank you! But unlike the bland dry concoction in my head, this was actually very flavorful and moist without being crumbly. I did make a few changes to the recipe, and you should know that while this isn't strictly vegan because of the eggs, you could make it vegan by using flax-seed eggs.

Lentil Loaf
Serves 6 large portions

Active time: 10 minutes (30 minutes of cooking lentils)
Bake time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hr and 20 minutes
Serving suggestions: Sweet potato fries, chunks, or soup, and a hearty green salad or roasted brussel sprouts.

What you'll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups water OR vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry lentils, picked over and rinsed well
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 c shredded carrots
  • 2 eggs, beaten OR 2 flaxseed eggs (2 T milled flaxseed + 6 T warm water, stirred with a fork and soaked for 5 min)
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 3 TBLS BBQ sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup mixture of BBQ sauce, ketchup, and/or mustard to your liking for the top and more for serving

What you'll do:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease a 8 or 9 inch loaf pan and set aside.
  • Cook lentils.  When they’re done, mash slightly with spoon or potato masher. Transfer to a bowl and let cool a little.  
  • Add everything else to lentils and mix well.
  • Transfer to the greased loaf pan. Smooth out top and spread BBQ sauce/ketchup mixture evenly. Bake for 40 minutes.

Time Tip:  
Cook your lentils in a rice cooker earlier in the day.  
Shred the carrots and onion in a food processor.

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1/6 of base recipe):
Calories 201 (Calories from fat 25); Total Fat 3g (Saturated .7g); Cholesterol 62mg; Sodium 191mg; Potassium 533mg; Total Carbohydrate 33g (Dietary Fiber 12g); Sugars 4g; Protein 13g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 2994 IU; Vitamin C 5mg; Calcium 52mg; Iron 4mg; Folate 173mcg

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vegan Cold Berry Soup

Since we have gone vegan in the house, there have been certain dishes I miss, but most of the time, I can get over it and move on. This dish, however, I knew I needed to find a way to make work. It is a staple in our house in the summer. I serve it with a nice big salad, with tacos (an odd combination, I admit), and with anything light that just needs a little extra to make it into a meal. I served this last night with a quinoa salad type dish and because of the amount of protein now in the soup, (and the fiber in the quinoa) it left us so full we couldn't even eat the green salad I had available. Still as easy to make as the original and it still tastes yummy, too. Who knew?

Vegan Cold Berry Soup
Serve 4 1.25 c servings
  • 4 cups berries (frozen work just fine if you don't have fresh - just defrost them a little bit)
  • 1 package (12-14 oz) silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup O.J.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Cinnamon or Ginger to taste
--Combine all and blend until smooth.

Pineapple Curry Quinoa

Ok. Before you look at this and say "Sarah! Another quinoa dish?!" let me just tell you that this was my favorite yet of our heart healthy meals with quinoa. Once I make the sweet potato and black bean dish again with quinoa, I may change my mind, but for now, this dish is at the top of my list! It could be the absence of cumin (that I was getting a little tired of) or the sweet pineapple paired with the Sugar Snap Peas, but whatever it was, it left me wanting more but not having enough room! I got the base for this recipe off a new blog I'm not following, Poor Girl Eats Well, but I added in the snap peas because I remember making this dish a year ago and thought I'd try it! I also cut out all oil and used pineapple juice instead. I served this with my new vegan-ized Cold Berry Soup, and while I had a green salad to go with it, after eating both the quinoa dish and the soup, I was stuffed and put the salad away!

Also, I just went out and bought Millet and Bulgar and two different kinds of lentils! Yay for broadening my horizons! Now to just find recipes....

Oh, and did I mention how easy this is to throw together? Or that there's no actual cooking involved? Amazingly sweet, I'd say!

Pineapple Curry Quinoa
Serves 4
  • 2 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c pineapple tidbits (reserve some of the juice before handing over a tall glass to your 3 year old as a treat!)
  • 1/3 c diced red onion
  • Small bag of Sugar Snap Peas (microwave them in some water for about 2 minutes until they're bright bright green)
  • 1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 T pineapple juice
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T honey or agave
  • 2 1/2 t curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
-- Mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, honey, curry, and garlic until all combined.
-- Toss together the cooked quinoa, drained pineapple, onion, peas, and cilantro in a bowl.
-- Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
-- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sesame Orange Tilapia

I made this last night and it was so good. It is actually going to be the way I cook our Tilapia fillets from now on. I had been doing a very simple Olive oil, lemon, garlic mix that was good, but not great, and I wanted something that I actually enjoyed since fish isn't my favorite thing. Let me tell ya, this was easy and delicious. Scot took one bite and then his eyes went big (and I was nervous for just a split second because I didn't know it was was a good eyes-wide or a bad) and then he smiled and said "Wow, this is really good!" I think we were both a little skeptical. I served this with a nice green salad and left over quinoa salad and it was wonderful. It was light and tasty and best of all, even though it's fish and not technically vegan, it's heart healthy!

Sesame Orange Tilapia
Serves 4

  • 4 Tilapia (or any other white fish) fillets
  • 3 T Orange juice
  • 2 T low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1/2 t garlic (crushed)
  • 1/4 t ginger
  • sesame seeds
-- Mix OJ, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices together.
-- Place fillets in a shallow baking dish (lined with tin foil for easy clean up!) and pour sauce over them, turning to coat. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to let marinate.
-- Bake for 9-11 minutes @ 425 until flakes with fork.
-- Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Yes. This is another dish with quinoa. And black beans. But it's cold, and it's light, and it's refreshing, and even if 3 of your last 5 meals have involved quinoa and/or black beans, this is so worth making. It's very versatile and it's really an open canvas ready for you to make your own magic. The possibilities are truly endless!

This salad is not only quick to throw together (especially if you have extra quinoa laying around) but is always a great crowd pleaser wherever it goes.  It goes to potlucks and dinner parties, and sometimes it’s spooned over a bed of salad for lunch.   We hope you enjoy it and make it often.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Serves 8

Active time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serving suggestions: Eat with Burgers, Lentil Tacos, Sloppy Joes or a chilled soup.

What you'll need:

  • 1 1/4 cup dry quinoa + 2.5 cups water OR 4 cups cooked millet
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained OR 2 cups frozen, thawed OR 2 cups small diced carrots
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 1 ½ cups skinned and diced cucumber OR 1 ½ cups chopped celery
  • 4 scallions, both parts sliced thin OR ⅓ cup finely diced red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (opt, but lovely)
  • 3 TBLS lime juice
  • 3 TBLS red wine vinegar
  • 3 TBLS sugar
  • 3 TBLS olive oil OR to make this oil-free, omit oil and use 4 TBLS of other liquids (this is the most flavorful method as well)
  • 11/2 - 2 tsp cumin (to taste)

What you'll do:

  • Prepare grain.
  • Make the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • When quinoa is done, transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add all salad ingredients and toss well.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste.

Time Tip:  

  • Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1/8 of recipe): with oil
Calories 243 (Calories from fat 66); Total Fat 7g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 123mg; Potassium 445mg; Total Carbohydrate 38g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Sugars 7g; Protein 8g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 182 IU; Vitamin C 20mg; Calcium 45mg; Iron 3mg; Folate 99mcg

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Southwest Bean Soup

This was simple. Nothing fancy, but it was tasty. It was filling and yet not heavy and best of all, both my boys ate it up just fine. That may all have to do with the fact that I put it on top of some quinoa and topped it with some cheese for them, but hey - it was good. The original recipe called for just cumin and chili powder (again) and that just was not enough for me, so with some major doctoring up, this worked for us. My least favorite out of these heart healthy meals, but that could also be due to the fact that this is our fourth meal that has some sort of bean/corn/quinoa mixture. Need. To. Find. New. Recipes. Also, need to spread these bean/rice type meals out so as to not get burnt out on them! But please don't let that mini-rant stop you from trying it out!

Southwest Bean Soup
serves 8-10
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 2 cans black beans - rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I would use Italian diced next time)
  • 2 cans chicken broth (I did only one since I was putting the quinoa with it)
  • 1 can kidney beans - rinsed and drained
  • 1 can white cannelloni or white kidney or garbanzo bean - rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 c corn
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 1/2 t chili powder (I used less)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t Italian spices
  • dash or two of allspice
--In a large pot, saute onions (or microwave them in a little white wine) until soft.
--Add remaining ingredients and simmer until heated through - about 10 minutes

You can very easily do this in the crockpot. I made 2 cups of quinoa and added that - very tasty!