It's been awhile, I know...
It's been forever it seems since my last post (Halloween, anyone?!). I have been finding it difficult to juggle photography with my work schedule since it now gets dark around 4:30 PM. Not the best situation for light quality! I haven't stopped cooking or baking, though. I've already made many batches of Christmas cookies for various events. It's great that I get to try recipes out beforehand. There are many more I'm going to try before the month is out too! This recipe that I'm sharing with you today is a riff on my staple snickerdoodle recipe.
I love snickerdoodles. They're my favorite cookie. I've said this many times. So, you can imagine, i am quite particular with their taste. I love a simple coating of cinnamon and sugar. Nothing beats it. Nothing, except, maybe chai snickerdoodles? Chocolate snickerdoodles? MULLED CIDER SNICKERDOODLES?!
Nevermind. I'm not that particular. As long as they taste wonderful. And let me tell you: these "doods" taste wonderful. That is now their official nickname.
These cookies have only a couple, albeit important modifications. Instead of the original recipe's addition of non-dairy milk to the dough, I added two tablespoons of mulled (spiced) apple cider. You can buy spiced cider at the store now, which is a nice time saver. If you don't want to purchase it, you can make it at home much like a cup of tea. I put some whole mulling spices in a tea ball and steeped them in a mug of hot cider until the liquid cooled. Since you only need two tablespoons (if that), you can drink the rest. You deserve it.
As for the coating of the cookies, I added the same spices that I used for the cider. My blend included anise, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. A wonderful and aromatic combo that makes the whole kitchen smell like the holidays.
That's really all you need to do to these to change them from their base form to totally festive AF. The texture can change quickly if you add too much liquid to the dough, however. Be careful to evaluate the dough for its moisture content before adding the second tablespoon of cider at the end. You may not need it!
Mulled Cider Snickerdoodles
Oven set to 375 F.
So, I don't always think about zombies taking over the world...
But, when I do, I think about what I would eat (like, as a human still. otherwise, brains? faces?).
As a vegan, you're pretty limited out in the wild. Unless you're on a tropical island that has coconut and banana trees, you're stuck foraging in the woods for mushrooms and plants to eat. And, unless you're very knowledgeable, picking out which wild mushrooms to eat is a risky task. Then again, you could be zombie chow at any moment, so go ahead and eat that mushroom over there. What's the worst thing that can happen, right?
Other than toughing it in the wild, we vegans can subsist on found pantry foods while looting grocery stores and empty (hopefully) houses. I like to imagine myself busting into someone's pantry who has since either passed, turned, or just wandered away from home in search of chocolate pudding. Little did they know, they had everything they needed right there!
I took inspiration for today's prompt from The Walking Dead. I'm a long time watcher of the show and I've read a bit of the comic, but not enough to call myself an expert by any means. I like the concept, most of the characters, and the dramatic moments that make me cringe with fear. Last season's premiere was absolutely brutal.
I've always had a dislike for Carl. Don't ask me why. The kid just annoys me. I did, however, like the scene in the TV show where he's pigging out on chocolate pudding out of a can that looks like it's probably over 10 years old. He's sitting on a roof with one shoe on while a zombie is trying to nom him from inside the house. This entire scene made me laugh because it's the only instance that Carl seemed relatable to me. I could see myself in his shoe at that moment. Sometimes you have to get away from it all and have some "me" time.
Also, as I thought about it, I realized chocolate pudding would be the ultimate survival food if made from shelf stable ingredients. You could make it easily with a few ingredients that are fairly common, have a long shelf life, and only require minimal cooking (if you absolutely want it to be authentic). This is also a great meal if you add protein powder like I did. If you're gonna run from zombies, you better be well fueled.
Alternatively, you could mix all the ingredients together with the shelf stable milk and just drink it like a protein shake. It's liquid pudding. If there's anything that separates us from the zombies its our ability to enjoy things like liquid pudding, everyone.
On to the good stuff...☠🍫
Vegan Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
(If you can find them! Mwahahaha)
Yield: About 2 servings
Free from: Soy*, Gluten, Nuts*
*Use appropriate ingredients for these variations
I know, I know...today is supposed to be "junk food forever" themed. Nachos are a classic party food that can be as junky as you want. Having nachos drowned in dairy cheese, sour cream and other fattening ingredients is junk, for sure. I decided to take today's prompt and "de-junk" nachos so that I could eat them and not feel absolutely terrible afterwards. If they're too "healthy" for you, feel free to either
A. Fry those tortillas OR
B. Buy store bought chips and vegan refried beans
I won't judge you! There are days that I do just those things. But, that's the beauty of making nachos at home: you can choose your own ingredients. I made these as healthy as I could by baking the tortillas (sprouted ones, thanks to Food for Life) in the oven with no oil until they were crunchy and delicious.
There's good fats in this meal from the raw cashews in the "queso" sauce. I used a tried and true recipe of my own and I will link to one in the recipe below. But, feel free to use your own preferred vegan cheese sauce recipe. If you are unable to consume nuts, I recommend checking out these recipes out for your sauce: Cashewless Queso by The Minimalist Baker and Nut-free Nacho Cheese Sauce by Vegan Richa. If you're going for a store-bought option, you can always buy a pack of Daiya or So Delicious shreds and melt them on top of your chips! The real star of these nachos are the black beans, anyway...
Whatever you choose to do with these nachos, just enjoy them with all the delicious toppings you can! Nachos aren't nachos if they aren't loaded with fresh veggies. I topped mine with chopped avocado, tomato, green and red onion and roasted spiced black beans. The queso just holds everything on the chips from the plate to your face! Feel free to use whatever type of bean you like. I wouldn't mind trying azuki beans, myself....
Sprouted Spiced Black Bean Nachos
Yield: 1 Serving
Free from: Soy**, Gluten*
*Use all corn tortillas for Gluten-free option
**Use appropriate cheese recipe for soy-free or store bought
Spiced Black Beans
Preheat oven 300 F.
Rock cakes immediately remind me of Rubeus Hagrid, the lovable half giant from Harry Potter. When I looked for a rock cake recipe ages ago, I was shocked to see how simple they were to make. As a child, I always pictured rock cakes as something unappealing to eat that people always made anyway (much like fruitcake). However, when I realized that rock cakes were simply variations of a scone or biscuit, I became intrigued and determined to bake some. I love me some scones and biscuits especially with tea! ☕️😋
My sister and I recently decided to binge the Harry Potter films. We both grew up reading the books and cherish the stories dearly as if they were factual. She recently got her hands on a cookbook inspired by recipes in the books. I'm impressed that someone took the time to properly research and compile the foods in all 7 volumes of the series. That's a lot of reading to do.
Of course, most of the recipes are not vegan. However, the more popular and exciting treats are easily made vegan with a few adjustments. I started off with rock cakes because I had already wanted to make them anyway and they're quick and easy to whip up in the morning to have with tea or coffee! Luckily, my first batch was a success. I made them completely gluten, soy and nut free. They are a great canvas for all kinds of flavors and variations, though. Baked goods that offer flexibility in terms of flavor are my favorite. Because, let's face it, who wants the same boring rock cake over and over? I know I don't. 😏
The rock cakes I made are a little more rich and earthy than the ones in sample recipes I found. The cakes seem to feature all different types of dried fruits, spices and nuts. I wanted to keep mine simple yet still flavorful...and, of course, rock-like!
I got a great idea to use carob powder from Miss Kitchen Witch, who is a fabulous food blogger who made Harry Potter themed recipes for Vegan MoFo a few years ago. I posted that year too and was much more interested in her recipes than mine! I loved her theme and immediately thought mine was boring. Now, years later, I'm also going to give it a shot while altering the recipe a bit.
I flavored my dough with carob and chopped dates. I love the caramel-like flavor of dates and their richness that seems to be missing in many other dried fruits. They also go very well with the smokey quality of coconut sugar, which I use frequently. I added a little bite of acid to brighten the cakes by soaking the dates in orange juice, which is a trick I learned during my bakery days while making carrot cakes. Soak the raisins in warm water infused with different extracts and your cakes will bake up moist and flavorful! 😍 The same effect can be achieved with any kind of juice as your soaking liquid too.
The resulting rock cake here is very rock-like in appearance but soft and crumbly in texture with a crunchy sugar top. They aren't overly sweet, so they pair nicely with any coffee or black tea that is slightly bitter. If you want to make these cakes more decadent, you can add in some chocolate chips or a little more fruit to the dough. They cook up quickly, too, so you can enjoy them day of with minimal wait time! Keep an eye out and I may just post another flavor sometime soon (maybe for the holidays?!). 😉
It's good to be back, folks. Enjoy the rocks!
Date Carob Rock Cakes
Preheat oven 350 F
This weekend and upcoming week will surely be hectic for everyone preparing for the holidays. I've been doing some last minute chores today and suddenly realized I had skipped lunch. 💀
Since I knew I couldn't starve in the name of gift wrapping, I whipped up a single serving of peanut noodles and decided to share the recipe with you! It's a quick and easy meal or snack for when you're home alone or just in the mood for some noods. I'm always up for noods. 😁
These noodles are creamy yet light at the same time. They can be oil-free, in fact, if you omit the sesame oil garnish. I love the taste and aroma of sesame oil, so I drizzled a little on my plate after cooking everything. If you wish to make this dish without the oil, the sauce will still be decadent and satisfying while also providing you with protein. For the noodles, I used brown rice with green tea from Star Anise Foods. I love their products. Some of their noodles come with soup base, which I think is genius for a quick weeknight meal. I also love their name...so cute! ☺️
Peanut Noodles for One
Yield: 1 serving
Free from: Gluten, Refined Sugar*, Oil-free option
Today's color scheme is "goth" inspired...I went with purple, since I happened to find a bag of organic purple sweet potatoes one day. It was a very exciting find. I've never tried these little guys before...I'm sure I'll love them just as much as their orange and white cousins! Sweet potatoes are a food that I began to love as a vegan moving in a more health conscious direction.
To go with my potatoes, I've added other wonderful purple produce: onion (or red, I guess), cabbage and eggplant. My favorite way to eat eggplant is in curry, so I spiced them with garam masala, chili pepper, and black salt. This soup doesn't take very long. You can have it finished in about an hour if you use pre-made stock or bullion cubes. All you need to do is wait for the potatoes to soften and you're good to go!
For even more gothic charm, use the optional red wine while you saute the onion and cabbage.
Gothic Purple Soup with Eggplant Chips
This MoFo prompt is my kind of low-key meal!
I love to cook, don't get me wrong. 😉
But, some days and nights are busy. I hate to make a ton of dirty dishes just to feed myself. My favorite quick and easy food used to be instant ramen in my younger days. This bowl of rice noodle soup is similar in taste but much healthier!
I've given you some photos of the most simple way to make rice noodle soup with basic pantry ingredients (well, if you keep these in your pantry...which you should!). Having tamari or soy sauce on hand will really help make your broth flavorful and rich. If you have liquid aminos, that will do just as well! I also dissolved some white miso into mine for extra flavor, salt and health benefits. This is optional, unless you have miso lying around!
The point of this meal is to be easy, right? I say, if you've got it, throw it in! I had some leftover strips of carrot that I had cut up, some baby kale, wakame, and some spices (garlic, lemongrass, chili flakes). You can throw frozen veggies in, tofu, tempeh, or whatever you fancy. 😍
When I add miso to a soup, I always take a spoon and dilute it with a little of the hot water. This helps the miso dissolve into the soup evenly and avoids it clumping up and sinking to the bottom.
Finished product! 😋
About two years ago, I made three different types of cake doughnuts to celebrate the fall season. Now, I'm back to make a new incarnation of one of them. I'm taking my pumpkin doughnut and throwing some fun Halloween flavors on top of it! Pumpkin and s'mores always seemed like two things that could be good together. I finally figured out how to successfully integrate them: pumpkin spice vegan marshmallows. 😮🎃
Once i found these precious gems, I knew I had to grab them. I was overcome by the pumpkin spice spell once more. The base recipe of these doughnuts is formulated from Erin McKenna's Babycakes Covers the Classics, which was one of the first all gluten-free vegan baking books I ever bought. It opened my eyes to what would ultimately become my fabulous vegan cake recipe, which I am very proud of! Its origins stemmed from how McKenna bakes at her bakeries. Although it isn't exactly the same, it's similar in the types of flours that I combine together.
I love these doughnuts because they are light and spongey but also moist. I used to be a huge fiend of cake doughnuts growing up. Unfortunately, I only ever had Dunkin's until I was older and discovered wonderful places like Voodoo Doughnut, Dottie's Donuts, The Cinnamon Snail, and Dunwell Doughnuts. Now, I am a doughnut explorer. I try all varieties as long as the flavor suits me. I'm also a fan of fritters. 😜
These doughnuts are safe for those who do not wish to worry about gluten or sugar overload while enjoying a delicious fall treat. The fixins on this doughnut do contain sugar, but the batter itself only calls for coconut sugar. You can also substitute an appropriate amount of stevia at your own risk. I recommend enjoying these with your friends/family/cat/dog and a nice hot cup of something. Enjoy and have a spooky weekend.
Pumpkin S'mores Doughnuts
Free from: Soy*, Gluten, Nuts*
You only need a small amount of ganache to drizzle onto the doughnuts so your marshallow and cookie crumbs will stick. If you have leftover, you can always use it to top ice cream later. 😏
Adjust the amount of milk/chocolate as needed for a thicker or thinner consistency. You can use a thick ganache to dip the doughnuts in for more of a glaze effect or drizzle a thinner ganache on top for a fun texture!
So, I recently made my very first batch of lemon bars.
I'm just one of those people who doesn't particularly favor lemon desserts. I love adding lemon as an accent to a savory dish. Nothing beats a fresh pop of lemon juice in sauces and marinades. I also add lemon to my water and tea when I'm feeling congested. It does wonders!
I guess my main issue with lemon desserts was always that they tasted too extreme for me. I never cared for the intense taste of sour and sweet together. This combination always made me think of Sour Patch Kids or Warheads. My teeth hurt just thinking about it!
However, this past mother's day I decided to put my differences with lemon aside for my grandma. She loves lemon desserts. One of her favorite things is lemon meringue pie, which is definitely not something I care for. I wanted to try to make her something that I could enjoy too. What a challenge!
Luckily, I found a simple and seemingly delicious recipe from the one and only Minimalist Baker blog. I use Dana's recipes all the time if I need to make a quick batch of something for an impromptu meal (biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, you name it). I love her recipes for their simplicity, short lists of ingredients, and quick prep times. I figured that she would have a trustworthy lemon bar recipe in her archives.
I was definitely right in choosing this one (link below). The texture of these bars is similar to cheesecake, amazingly creamy and refreshing. I used a shortbread recipe for the crust, but I followed the filling recipe as it was. The result was incredible. The lemon flavor wasn't overpowering at all. I also love how the maple syrup provides a mellow and rich sweetness that does not shock your taste buds. Needless to say, the bars were a hit!
And now, for the twist.
When I looked in the pantry the other day, I noticed I had a box of Choice Batter muffin mix. I brought this mix home with the thought of, "Well, I'll keep this on hand in case of emergency." In my mind, muffin crisis is always just around the corner. You need to be prepared.
I also wanted to give Choice Batter a try since I've seen their products many times. Their bake mixes are allergen-free, which means gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free! The recipe on the box also calls for just oil and water, which keeps the muffins vegan.
Then I got to thinking, "What if these muffins had cheesecake on top of them?" Well, that was when I channeled my inner Sandra Lee and whipped up a "semi-homemade" lemon bar concoction. I changed the ratio of liquids in the boxed muffin recipe to make them more dense and I added some more lemony essence with the help of freshly squeezed and zested organic lemons.
Then, I made some of Dana's lemon bar filling and poured it right over the muffin batter in a brownie pan. The rest is self explanatory. The finished product is a delicious square of lemon poppy seed and cheesecake goodness. The cheesecake layer is thin so it does not provide a gunky mouth feel, which cheesecake sometimes can in large amounts. The bars are satisfying, bright, slightly sweet, and creamy.
These little squares are great for baking ahead and bringing to your weekend get together or BBQ (hint hint, Memorial Day)! They are also free of many allergens (except cashews!) so they will be a safe treat for almost everyone to enjoy. Also, you technically made these at home, so you can have bragging rights. No one needs to know that Choice Batter gave you a head start. ;) Or, maybe they do! Thank you, Choice Batter! ^_^
Have a great weekend, everyone! Enjoy the sun and the lemons!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake Bars
Free from: Gluten, Soy*
Yield: about 9 servings
Cheesecake topping recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker Lemon Bars
Last year for VeganMoFo, I ventured to make my own mochi from scratch and it was tasty! Sometimes, though, I want mochi for a snack and I'm not able to make it myself. I try not to buy the prepared mochi desserts as they contain a scary amount of sugar! When I was in cooking school, my instructor Christine introduced the class to a great brand called Grainaissance that makes mochi for cooking at home and it's made with wholesome ingredients and brown rice.
I grabbed a pack one day just to have in case I needed a quick breakfast one morning. What I ended up doing with said pack will amaze you!
I cut the block of mochi in half and prepared it 2 ways: one sweet and traditional and one savory and crazy! If you're feeling one resulting mochi over the other, feel free to prepare your entire block that way. I wanted a little of both, as usual, so I went a little nuts.
The mochi "chicken" nuggets that I'm highlighting here are surprisingly easy to make. I love that mochi is naturally sticky so all you need to do to get something to stick to it is coat it in a little water. No egg wash needed! ^_^
The breading that I created definitely tastes like the outside of a chicken nugget. The texture of the fried mochi is slightly more firm than a mozzarella stick. So, if you're into mozzarella sticks and/or chicken (or meat-free chicken) nuggets, try this recipe. It's much less processed, contains no soy, has whole grains, fiber and protein and is absolutely delicious. The mochi nuggets came out crunchy on the outside (and I mean, crunchyyy!) and soft and chewy on the inside. It's a great snack for watching football, too (if you're into that).
The kinako mochi is very simple to make and is a great accompaniment to tea or coffee. These little bites are slightly sweetened with coconut sugar to highlight the nutty flavor of the kinako. It's a great way to enjoy something sweet without overindulging.
Mochi "Chicken" Nuggets
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.