Jan 29

sloppy joe sliders

I tried to write about this recipe the other day, but Court Kitty had other ideas.

Computer hog.

I told him to look at his brothers sitting by the window, watching the snow fall. I said that he should totally get in on that! This might be the day that those squirrels living in the tree in the neighbor’s yard decide to open our window themselves and invite all the cats over for a nut-hunting party! He wasn’t buying it. I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes at me.

I was hopeful when he lifted his head to accept chin scratches from my husband, but he still refused to stand up.

So we all curled up together, listened to the thundersnow and watched Kipper play in his 500th game.

Fast forward to today, Court Kitty is asleep in the shower and I can finally take back control of my computer to do super important things, like talk about sloppy joes.

Ever since I whipped up the chipotle cashew dip, I’ve had Super Bowl foods on the brain.

It’s not that I’m excited about the Super Bowl. I don’t care who wins. I don’t even like football all that much. I mostly like the victory dances. Oh, and the qb sacks. I love the sacks. But mostly I just sit there in front of the television, wishing I was watching hockey instead.

But I like parties, and I like bite size food.

I think these vegan sloppy joes would be a great addition to any party spread. They’re small so they’re not too messy, and they’re packed with protein and fiber. Eat a couple. Eat a couple dozen. No one here is judging you. Just don’t eat them with a fork. Then I will judge you.

Sloppy Joe Sliders
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Printable recipe

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or Dorot crushed garlic)
  • 12 ounce package of meatless veggie crumbles
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (or try this recipe to make your own)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 16 mini hamburger buns
  • pickle slices (optional)

Directions:

Chop up your onion, bell pepper and celery stalk.

I like thick bites of veggies in my sloppy joes, but feel free to chop your veggies as small as you’d like.

Mince your garlic cloves, or grab a Dorot garlic tray.

I like to use these frozen crushed garlic poppers from Dorot every chance I get. One cube equals one clove.

Place your oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, sea salt and pepper in a skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. When the veggies are tender, add in the crumbles and cook for 5 more minutes.

While the veggies and crumbles are cooking, combine the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup into a small bowl and stir.

Add this mixture and the tomato sauce to the skillet and continue to simmer for 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat, spoon onto buns immediately and dig in.

I like pickles on mine.

Go Steelers! Go Packers! Let’s eat!

Jan 20

chipotle cashew cheese

Confession time.

I have this thing about vegan cheeses. Most of them gross me out. I have an especially hard time swallowing those with titles like “cheeze” and “chreese.”

I feel like a bad vegan when I say things like that. Aren’t I supposed to love and embrace all things vegan?

I also feel like a bad vegan when I say that I don’t really like seitan and I can only handle tofu in small doses. But it’s true.

I try to give myself a break. I tell myself that just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I have to love all animal-free products on the market. No one cares if you aren’t on the Daiya love train, Nikki.

But I find it easier to be understanding and accepting of others than it is to cut my own self some slack.

I think it’s because I’m always trying to get the people around me to try new things. I shove tempeh in their faces and demand that they eat up, and usually they do. But if you put some Teese Cheese in front of me and ask me to dig in, I’ll zip my lips and throw away the key, toddler temper tantrum style.

Anyway, back to the point of this post…

Cashew cheese.

My friend at work told me that she made cashew cheese over the weekend and I was immediately both appalled and delighted. The word “cheese” triggered my internal gross-out alarm right away, but after hearing the list of simple ingredients and seeing how excited she was about it, I knew that I had to try it. My friend isn’t vegan or vegetarian, but she’s one of the healthiest eaters I know and she puts a lot of thought into the nutritional value of her choices and how food will affect her body. At the same time, she doesn’t sacrifice taste in her quest to eat well. So I knew that if she liked it, I would have to give it a try.

Plus, my husband and I went to our local cooking store to buy a spatula the other day and ended up walking out with a new food processor, so this was a wonderful excuse to christen our new baby.

This recipe is for a dip or spread. I used it as a dip, but I can see myself topping veggie burgers with it in the future. My friend used truffle oil in her cheese, but I chose to go with chipotle sauce instead.

Chipotle Cashew Cheese

Recipe from True/Slant
  • 2 1/2 cups soaked raw cashews (approx. 16 ounces dry)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small-medium garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle sauce

Soak your raw cashews overnight for the best results. Place around 16 ounces of raw cashews in a dish full of cold water, cover and place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

I soaked mine for 12 hours because I got a lazy start the morning after and they turned out great.

This is our most health conscious kitty, Sebastian. He tries to steal every vegetable in sight.

Squeeze your lemon juice

Choose your prettiest little garlic clove and chop it into 6-8 pieces.

For the chipotle sauce, I couldn’t find a jar of sauce so instead I grabbed a can of chipotle peppers and spooned some sauce out of the can.

It worked out well and probably saved me a couple dollars in the end.

Throw all your ingredients into a food processor.

and blend until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides if necessary, and do a couple of taste tests in case you want to add more chipotle sauce.

If your cheese seems too dry, add one tablespoon of water at a time until you are happy with the consistency.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for 3-4 days if you keep it chilled.

The cashews blend into a cheesy texture that makes it perfect for dipping. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was! The chipotle sauce adds just enough zing.

This would be great for a Super Bowl party. It’s also great for meat lovers, cheese lovers and even chreese haters, like myself.

Jan 12

cookie brownies

My BFF is the best. She is super smart, kind, beautiful and hilarious. She is the most selfless person that I know. I met her five years ago and I’m grateful every day that I have her in my life.

This week was not only the anniversary of the day we met, but also her birthday.

A gal like her deserves something extra special for her birthday. Something sweet. Something surprising. Something edible.

The answer?

Cookie Brownies.

Chocolate chip cookies + fudgy brownies + chocolate frosting = YES!

My BFF deserves all the cookie brownies in the world.

I think you deserve cookie brownies, too. Yeah, you know you want them.

Cookie Brownies with Chocolate Frosting
Inspired by Bakerella
We’ll make this recipe in three parts: brownie batter, chocolate chip cookie dough and frosting.
Printable Recipe

Brownie Batter
Recipe adapted from Chiclet at Food.com

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup refined sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Recipe adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance (thanks for the book, Jake and Mylene!)

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance
  • 3/4 cup refined white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Chocolate Frosting
Previously used with my Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

That’s a lot of ingredients and at this point, you might be questioning your drive to make these cookie brownies.

But you know me, and you know that I don’t like to make things that are too complicated.

Let me tell you, you definitely want these brownies. The different pieces all come together in about 20 minutes. Not so bad.

Okay, the first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square baking pan. I used Earth Balance on my pan and it worked out well.

Time to make the brownie batter.

In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, stir together the applesauce, refined sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Use your hands to make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.

I didn’t make the heart on purpose, I swear. I think the ingredients knew that I was baking with love.

Mix until combined and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Resist urge to eat directly from the bowl. Use a rubber spatula (or your fingers) to spread the batter into your 8×8 pan.

Now let’s make the cookies.

Use a fork to mash and mix together the sugar and Earth Balance. Add in the molasses and vanilla and mix well. Add in the flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in the chocolate chips.

It’s crumbly, but don’t worry.

It rolls into balls just fine. Roll your dough into 4 large balls.

Flatten your dough balls between your hands and press the mounds of dough and any crumbles that fall off into the brownie batter. Spread them out evenly to ensure that every brownie has a bit of cookie mixed in.

Place your pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.

Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

After the cookie brownies are cool, make your frosting by combining all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mixing on low-medium speed for 1 minute. Spread on top, cut the brownies into squares and enjoy!

Or in my case, wrap!

Sadly, I am what one might call a very sucky friend.

I was a couple days late getting these brownies to the birthday girl.

She forgave me, though. Let’s add “forgiving” to the list of adjectives to describe her.

Happy Birthday, LG!

Jan 05

14 layer cake

Sometimes I see a recipe for a cake and I think, “no freaking way.”

That’s how I felt about this monster.

I even asked the Magic 8 Ball that my super cool aunt gave me for Christmas if it thought I could handle this cake.


Whatever. I made it anyway.

Magic 8 Ball, you’re such a fool sometimes.

I promise that this cake is not difficult to make.

Time consuming? Yes. But that’s only because my oven is so small.

But difficult? Nope, not at all.

You can make this cake. I promise.

14 Layer Cake

Cake adapted from Bakerella, ganache adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen

Cake Ingredients:
  • Earth Balance (for the pans, not the cake)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegan refined sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 3 cups soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  •  2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
 Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 1/2 cups plain soy milk
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

If you count the layers in the photos, you’ll see that I made a 12 layer cake. Ugh.

See, it was supposed to be a 14 layer cake. I made 14 cakes. But then I ran out of frosting, and I ran out of the ingredients to make more frosting. D’oh!

So here is the recipe for a 14 layer cake. It will look even more beautiful than my 12 layer cake. You can do it.

You will need parchment paper and 14 round aluminum tins, around 8″ diameter (or cake pans, if you happen to have that many) to make this cake. It also helps to have a cake board, wire rack and baking sheet. You can get through it without those three items, though. It will just be a little bit messier in the end.

Start by tearing out 14 sheets of parchment paper. Take one of your tins and trace the bottom of it onto one sheet of parchment paper.


With the traced sheet on top, staple all 14 sheets together or just have someone hold them in place, and use scissors to cut out 14 lovely circles.

Grease the bottoms and sides of your tins with Earth Balance, stick the parchment circles inside, and you’re all set.


Now let’s bake!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.


In one bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, apple sauce, soy milk, vanilla extract and almond extract.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix with a hand mixer on low for 1 minute or until batter is well blended. Add in the distilled white vinegar and stir 10 strokes by hand.

Pour 2/3 cups of the batter into each of the 14 pans.


Spread the batter around with a spoon or spatula so that it’s distributed as evenly as possible.


Place as many pans as you can in the oven for 12 minutes. Of course, oven temperatures vary, so keep a close eye on the cakes since they’re thin and they’ll burn quickly.

Once done, remove the finished cakes and stick the next batch in the oven. Repeat until all 14 cakes are done. I was able to bake two at a time in my little oven, but a full size oven should fit one or two more.

When the last cake is done, whip up the ganache.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the soy milk to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, pour in the chocolate chips and maple syrup, and stir continuously for 1.5 minutes.


Remove from heat and continue to stir for another 30 seconds.

Allow the ganache to cool for 15 minutes.


Now it’s time for the fun part!

Remove one layer of cake from a tin and place on a cake board. Stack your wire rack on top of a sheet pan, and place the cake board with cake on top of the rack. Plop a couple spoonfuls of ganache on top of the first layer, spread it around allowing it to drip down over the sides, and then place your second layer of cake on top. Don’t stress too much over spreading the ganache out perfectly. It will all even itself out in the end. Trust me.

 Repeat until all 14 layers are stacked. Pour your remaining ganache over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.



If you want, transfer the cake to a stand at this point. Or just leave it on the cake board. Whatever makes you smile.

This cake is meant to look homemade, purposely sloppy and oh so delicious!


I asked Magic 8 Ball if perhaps it regretted telling me that I couldn’t make this cake.


Thanks, 8 Ball. I knew you’d come around.

Jan 01

hangover oatmeal – hello, 2011

Feeling hungover? I know I am.

Not necessarily from New Year’s Eve, but from the holidays as a whole.

Man, the holidays are rough. Expectations are high, travel costs are even higher and in the end I’m left feeling a mix of emotions that range from happiness to relief to exhaustion.

The good news for all of us is that I have a hangover cure.

Oatmeal. Yeah, seriously.

This oatmeal recipe benefits those of you nursing alcohol hangovers as well as those suffering from jingle bell and sugar cookie overload. Plus, it’s fast and easy to throw together so you’ll be back to napping in no time.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal w/ Maple Syrup
Recipe adapted from Maple Syrup World
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla soy milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 sliced banana
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

My friend told me that bananas are a great hangover helper, and she’s right, per usual. The banana in this recipe is a great source of fructose, potassium and magnesium. It helps with nausea and restores the sugar that your body lost when drinking.


Oats work great at helping your body to absorb and pass toxins.


Maple syrup is packed with manganese and zinc


and peanut butter is high in healthy fats and protein.

To make this oatmeal, combine the oats, water and milk in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Remove from the microwave and stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon and bananas.

In a separate dish, microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds.

Top the oatmeal with the warm peanut butter and eat.


Here’s to a happy, healthy 2011!