Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Planning Yumminess

Getting ready for the holidays....generating a list of things to make for our 3 holiday meals (not all three are the usual heavy Christmas meal though). We've also been busy in the kitchen! We love baking, but if we're in there too long, we get tired of standing and just plain pooped!

This is what we are planning:
  • spiced nuts - do any of you have a great recipe?
  • homemade yeasty cornbread sticks (not the typical cornbread; more like Pillsbury cornbread sticks)
  • homemade hummus with pita chips, Mary's Gone Crackers, and raw vegetables
  • broccoli wild rice stuffing (we've made this many times)
  • a vegetable side dish
  • White bean vegetable mix (white beans, green beans, red bell pepper, and other veggies) with pumpkin vinaigrette
Now onto this week's goodies:

We love Susan's Mexican Casserole, which we've made before, and decided to change it up a bit by using sweet potato puree instead of refried beans. It was a nice combination, with the sweetness and creaminess of sweet potatoes and the black beans and spices. Also nice, because it was not nearly as filling as the refried beans version.

Eat'nveg'n posted about making a lima bean casserole. We didn't have the exact recipe, so we tried to guess what would be in it and made our own delicious dish. We used 2 cans of butter beans; 1 can of lima beans; 1 can diced tomatoes; 1 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked; some onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms sauteed; lots of dried oregano and basil; and shredded carrots. It came out delicious! We really enjoyed it, because we could eat leftovers as a wrap or in pitas. We think that next time it will be even better with some tomato sauce poured over the top.
To accompany our bean quinoa casserole, we made oatmeal rolls. This was our first time to use wheat gluten, and it improved the texture and gluteniness of the rolls! They turned out very soft, with a hint of maple.

Our freezer is stock full of goodies, especially cookies and breads. We made two kinds of scones this week - one was a zucchini pineapple scone, which turned out more like a muffin in texture but still good. The other was our Graham scones with apple butter and currants! These were awesome! We like our scones dry, not like a soft biscuit, and the apple butter added a great flavor.

Another sweet treat we made was lemon tofu pudding pie, over graham cracker crust. It was very yummy, refreshing, and rich, but it turned out more runny than we thought. In the end, we just put them in small bowls and added sliced bananas, like a layered banana pudding or yogurt cup.

Start drooling now! haha....we made this fabulous pasta dish with creamy spinach asparagus sauce. It was very easy and flavorful. With garlic, onions, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast, too!
Another great recipe from Susan - Carrot Hummus.

It was so simple and fresh, and much better than high-sodium, store-bought hummus. The cayenne pepper added a nice kick to the sweetness of the carrots. We used 1 tsp cashew butter instead of tahini, ginger powder instead of fresh, and no paprika. We will officially make homemade hummus from now on! This was actually good served with pineapple chunks on the side. And of course baby carrots and Mary's Gone Crackers.

Besides cooking/baking, we've been enjoying our time off from school. We forgot how wonderful pleasurable reading is, and now we are reading at any moment we can! We currently are finishing up Anne of Green Gables series (not entirely grown up books, but still beautifully written - one of our favorites!), and even borrowed the movie from the library.

We also went to Hobby Lobby and have some crafts planned. We found these fabric aprons and we are going to fabric paint them with a quote, such as "Veg Bakers", or "Meat Free Chef", etc. We've never stenciled paint onto fabric before, so it will be a lot of messy fun! We also got some fabric to re-fabricate our favorite slippers. I know you're probably laughing, but we've had these slippers since who knows when, and the Winnie the Pooh fabric and the foam cushion inside is torn and worn. We love them to death since they are not bulky slippers or too warm. We thought it would be fun (and cheaper) to pick out a new fabric pattern and repair them!

We won't post for a while, since we will be going home for the holidays on Saturday and won't be back till Thursday evening. We pray that your Christmas gatherings are filled with joy and peace, and lots of great veg-friendly food!
Celebrating Jesus' Birthday,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two Keen Sweet Chicks Ate Corn

Two Keen Sweet Chicks who ate corn?? What do you think this means?






Why, us two had Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, and Cornbread! (well here we have a pic of our two cats, but you get the point) :)

We tried the Green-wa Recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes. It was so unique, flavorful, and colorful. We used whole grain quinoa and pureed spinach, cilantro, and soy yogurt to make a creamy quinoa dish. Excellent! We served this with carrots of course!

At least one day of the week we seem to always have sweet potatoes. We made Lime Sweet Potatoes with cilantro and some jalapeƱo powder. A good Southwestern side served with Lime-Cilantro Black Beans.

Roasting Chickpeas was new to us, and we LOVED it - a great crunch and taste. Other reviewers mentioned that it was great as a snack while watching tv (an alternative to high calorie nuts during football game parties, for those who are football fanatics like our dad). Anyways, we used cayenne, chili powder, and garlic powder to spice up a can of chickpeas, and we roasted them for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. We served these with Roasted Cauliflower (which we roasted at the same temp for the same amount of time). Making the chickpeas tonight again!

And lastly, we adored the cornbread that we made - so flavorful, sweet, and soft! We used agave nectar in the cornbread, and loved drizzling agave nectar on our slice! We served this with Susan's Mexican Pumpkin Soup. The soup was good, just not our favorite. For leftovers we pureed the soup and it turned out much better. We used purple and gold fingerling potatoes, and the purple potatoes were starchy like a sweet potato. It would be good to make fries with them sometime!

This week we had our finals - very challenging and difficult, and we studied non-stop! Anyhow, we are relieved and excited for a month's break to bake and cook lots of goodies!

Here's an article on school without the stress - we wish we had yoga classes at our high school!

Have a good week - LK

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Advent Begins

Advent, which means "coming" has begun! During this Christmas season, we are filled with joy, hope, and anticipation. We should take the time out of our busy lives and reflect on all that God has blessed us with rather than get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping and planning for Christmas Day. We should dwell upon our lives and how we can be better prepared for the coming of Christ to save us and bring us eternal peace.
In some ways, advent is related to school (haha) since we are hoping for the end to come in sight...It's already the end of the semester; we are done with classes and just have finals next week. School has been long and challenging, and we still have next semester and summer school left! I don't know how we've gotten this far, and I don't think we could do it over is only with God's help, hope, and endurance that we can make it through the end of our college experience.

Now onto the food:
As the weather gets cooler finally and the spirit of Christmas is approaching, we keep generating creative ideas of desserts and meals to make. Hopefully during the break we can put a lot of those ideas into action! Not as exciting, here is what our meals for this week consisted of....

"Tuna" Mushroom Casserole - with celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, chickpeas, LOTS of nutritional yeast, and a little sage, thyme, and oregano. (Didn't use soy sauce, veg broth, or paprika, and substituted white vinegar for the lemon juice).
This was close to our old family recipe. We actually liked it without the bread crumb topping, and instead sprinkled some medium-ground cornmeal on top. Next time need to add more chickpeas, but overall it was awesome. The wheat spiral pasta gave a nice bite to the casserole.

Pumpkin Vinaigrette-Marinated tofu cutlets and broccoli - used up leftover pumpkin vinaigrette (from EatnVegan) that we made for Thanksgiving (posted in the last post). It was so tasty when heavily drizzled over the tofu and steamed broccoli. Yum!

Shredded Potato Pancakes - We were going for a simple German dinner, with warm applesauce and a slice of pumpernickle. The potatoes didn't wow us, though, as they were sort of raw tasting and hard work to prep. We added a lot of nutritional yeast, some thyme, and once in a while a drizzle of soy sauce to boost the flavor. Would just be easier to make roasted potatoes.

Tofu Scramble - with celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushroom, tumeric, paprika, basil, and nutritional yeast. We served this with leftover potatoes and toasted sprouted English muffins.

Black-eyed pea cakes, modified from the black bean burger recipe posted here - This burger recipe is the best! It can be easily adapted for different beans and flavors, and it makes a large batch to freeze and keep on hand for quick lunches.

Bran Carrot Bars with currants, adapted from Easy Pleasin' Oat Bars that we posted about here. Actually made this on a spur-of-the-moment to take a break from studying. These are soft healthy bars with a nice cinnamon, carrot, sweet flavor. Used wheat bran instead of oats, and added shredded carrots, currants, and 1/4 c. carrot juice. The bran and carrot give a chewy, coconut-like texture. (Sorry for the blurry picture)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Orange Rolls, adapted from Don't Eat off the Sidewalk's recipe - used all spelt flour, more cinnamon, and an orange glaze instead of vanilla. These are fantastic! Soft with a nice crumb, and the pumpkin, although subtle in flavor, boosts up the nutrition value. Way better than store bought cinnamon rolls. Like every cinnamon roll, they take work and time and, therefore, are only made once in a while for special breakfasts. We made enough that we could freeze the rest to have on hand for easy snacking!

Whew....such a long post!
Wishing everyone a happy Advent season full of the joys of cooking and baking veg-friendly!
Peace, LK

Some Organic, Vegetarian Product Reviews

Product Reviews:

Whole Soy and Co. Soy Yogurt - recently discovered this at the store. Overall a good alternative to yogurt, which is what is currently restricting us from going vegan. They don't have too many flavor choices, but we've tried the blueberry, strawberry, and vanilla flavors and they are better than other soy yogurt brands we've tried. The vanilla so far is our least favorite, as it was kind of tangy, and the blueberry is our current top choice, which is surprising since we usually are prone to strawberry and not fond of blueberry flavored foods.

Blue Diamond Original Almond Milk - very light and nutty! It's interesting, because some cereals it tastes very good and nutty, while some cereals mask the flavor of the milk...otherwise it is so tasty and our favorite non-soy milk drink! (Although we haven't tried hemp milk yet because we can't find the brand that VeggieGirl raves about)

Amy's Tuscan Rice Soup - With brown rice, carrots, beans, celery, onions, and spinach, it was a tasty minestrone type soup, although slightly high in sodium. Good for a quick and easy meal, but would be awesome when we recreate it at home with fresh ingredients.

Kozlowski Apple Butter, no sugar added- we've tried their pumpkin butter before, and both the apple and pumpkin are so creamy, nicely spiced, and natural. We use the apple butter on English muffins, Tofurky sandwiches, rice cakes, and a lot of great snacks!

Weetabix Crispy Flakes by Barbara's Bakery - Barbara's is one of our favorite cereal brands, and this cereal is as great as the others. It is way better than Wheaties flakes, which are so thin and crumbly and get soggy fast. These are hearty, thick, and give a nice crunch.

Good Health Natural Foods, Inc. "Low Sodium Quilts crackers" - A healthy wheat cracker that isn't salty. Good with cheese alternatives or bean dip or hummus or avocado or salsa, etc! A nice choice when in the mood for healthy "triskets".

Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes - these are a nice alternative to Quaker's sugar rice cakes, and they have the fiber, too! They are good as a sweet treat, for example, when spread with nut butter and apple butter. They would also be good with avocado or nutritional yeast for a savory twist.

Country Choice Oatmeal Squares- we definitely want to find out how to make these on our own! They are hearty, chewy, and good for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dessert, etc!