Monday, January 21, 2008

Soak It Up - Recipes To Enjoy

"And soak it up
Every little bit I can
Enjoy all my day
Before all my days end
And whatever I get
Always let that be enough
And never forget to soak it up
Yeah, yeah"
- Warren Barfield

A week back at school, but that hasn't made us not forget the beauty of each day that we are blessed with. Even with the dreary cold Chicago-like days, we have tried to soak up the peaceful moments and memories of sun rays beaming on our faces.

Despite the increasing load that school brings, we managed to enjoy comforting food such as homemade baked beans, homemade creamed corn, wild rice-yam patties, green chili lima bean dip, black pepper and caraway rye crackers, almond and apricot scones, and fudgy-chewy brownies.

baked beans, we used 1 lb. dried great northern beans and spiced them with 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3/4 c. ketchup. We first cooked them in the crockpot for the day, but then put them on the stove on medium high for 2-3 hours after so they could get softer. Made lots and tasty just like the store bought Bush's Baked Beans!

creamed corn we made was fabulous and easy! Did we mention easy? From George Mateljan's World Healthiest Foods website, we simply followed the recipe and used soy milk and agave nectar instead of milk and honey. We are thinking of trying out creamed peas and just replacing the corn with peas.

Yesterday we made
wild rice with yams (diced), spinach, and some thyme, sage, garlic, onion, and pepper. It was good and creamy, but to change it up, we made homemade wild rice and yam patties. We spiced them with cayenne, chili powder, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast. Baked at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes and made 8 patties. Having this for dinner! Freezing the rest for veggie burgers for another day.

Another easy creation - Lima Bean Green Chili Dip! We used cucumber slices and homemade crackers (black pepper crackers and caraway rye crackers). Yummy!

LK's Lima Bean Green Chili Dip

1/2 pack soft tofu
3/4 tsp garlic powder
4 Tb green chiles, divided
1 tsp dried celery flakes (or use fresh minced celery or dried celery seed)
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 3/4 c. lima beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)

Puree tofu, garlic powder, 3 Tb green chiles, celery flakes, black pepper, and limas until creamy. Add 1 Tb green chiles at the end. Chill and serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, and chips, or use as spread on sandwiches or wraps!

We've been craving
homemade graham scones again, and we've been wanting to enter the annual Delicious Living Recipe Contest. To enter, you must use one of the listed ingredients (see, and we decided to use Blue Diamond Natural Almond Breeze Milk.

Our concoction - Almond Scones:
(makes 4-6)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
8 whole wheat grahams, crushed
1 1/2 Tb flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 Tb brown sugar
1/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely ground (in food processor)
3/4 cup + 2 Tb Blue Diamond Original Almond Breeze Milk
2 Tb almond butter
2 Tb cup cold margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, crushed grahams, flaxseed meal, baking powder, sugar, and ground almonds. Cut in margarine and almond butter until resembles coarse crumbs. Add almond milk and stir just until blended.

Separate dough into 6 and place on a cooking stone or non-stick pan. Pat slightly to form each round scone (1 1/2 inch thick). Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. May need to cover with foil half way. Remove from baking sheet and cool 5 minutes.

We also made a batch of Apricot Jam Scones:
(makes 4-6)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup Multi-Grain or Bran Flakes (we used Nature's Path Synergy cereal)
1 1/2 Tb flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Kozlowski Farms No Sugar Added Apricot Spread (or any jam or apple butter)
1/2 cup soy milk
3 Tb cold margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Process the multi-grain/bran flakes until coarsely ground. In a medium bowl, combine flour, ground multi-grain flakes, flaxseed meal, and baking powder. Cut in margarine until resembles coarse crumbs. Add apricot spread and soy milk and stir just until blended.

Separate dough into 6 and place on a cooking stone or non-stick pan. Pat slightly to form each round scone (1 1/2 inch thick). Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. May need to cover with foil half way. Remove from baking sheet and cool 5 minutes.

Lastly, for dessert we enjoyed vegan fudgy brownies.
LK's Healthy Vegan Fudgy Brownies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 - 1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup prune puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread in a 9 x 13 inch greased pan, and bake 20-25 minutes total. Cover with foil after 15 minutes. Let cool, then cut into squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar if desired. Enjoy warm or frozen (frozen makes it like a fudgy bar!).

Overall the best vegan brownie we've made, though it needs a little tweaking - more chocolate chips (1/2 cup total?) and underbake to 20 minutes? There is a slight prune-fruity taste to it, but if you didn't know there was prunes then you probably wouldn't notice it. Adding more chocolate chips might help.

May you soak up each day this week and appreciate the sunshine in your life!

And, in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."

Many blessings, LK

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In the Heart of Mexico, Italy, and Japan

En el corazón de México, de Italia, y de Japón
Nel cuore del Messico, dell'Italia e del Giappone

Three different languages, three different nations, three different cultures. Today's blog gives tribute to Mexico, Italy, and Japan, and all of those cultures that have unique traditions and foods and that are beautiful in their own way. We should embrace diversity, be open minded, and try to understand one another. Let us stop fighting as if one is better than the other. Let us stop judging people and stop misunderstanding one another. Let us instead tolerate others, love all, and make peace to the world.

Something for you all to try this week - think only positive thoughts and pray for other people besides yourself, and you will find that your mood will increase tenfold and your fears and disappointments will disappear. You'll want to share your peace of mind to those around you, and be more friendly to all. In some ways, thinking positive will lead to cultural diversity, because if we all fill our thoughts and hearts with gratitude and love, then we will embrace peace, judge less and try to understand more.

In the Heart of Mexico:
Our attempt at vegan tamales. Fun to make, yet the longest thing we've made ever. We made about 36 tamales and had to steam in multiple batches each for 2-3 hours, and then we baked them for 10 minutes to crisp them up slightly. It took 2 days! But, they were so yummy, especially with some homemade enchilada sauce on top. Most of the tamales were pinto bean filling, with just a few as sweet potato filling and black bean filling. We used Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Masa! Of course, they had a lot of good spices to flavor them, but now we appreciate those somewhat expensive veg tamales we buy at the store - they are worth their flavor and taste!

In the Heart of Italy:
...with spaghetti! The past two times we've made spaghetti, we've used Seeds of Change spaghetti sauces and, although they are pricy, they are so fresh and flavorful. We've only tried Tuscan Tomato & Garlic and Garden Vegetable Piemonte, but all of the varieties sound wonderful. We just enhance it by cooking with it some zucchini, garlic, onion, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes. Served over whole grain pasta, it makes for a filling yet healthy meal! To make it more authentic, we made some homemade wheat bread (with flaxseeds and walnuts) dipped in extra virgin olive oil.

In the Heart of Japan:
Can you say sushi and miso? Sushi just isn't the same without avocado and spicy wasabi. Unfortunately our generic supermarket only sells powdered horshradish, but it still tasted good. Our sushi was quick, since we used whole grain quinoa instead of brown rice. We sprinkled some sesame seeds in the roll, and had scallions, cucumber, and avocado slices.

Our miso soup was very simple - we just made a broth with seaweed pieces, scallions, 2 garlic cloves minced, diced mushrooms, and 9 cups of water. Then we added 3/4 of a pack of medium firm tofu (sprinkled with garlic powder) and 5 Tbsp of mellow white miso dissolved in some of the broth water. It was more flavorful the next day, but either way it was so light, healthy, and delicious. Isn't it fun to expand your horizons and let your taste buds travel to a new country?

We also managed to make something sweet this week. With the help of EatNVegan's suggestion, we took our cranberry sauce and made cranberry bran bread adapted from Veganomicon (instead of Applesauce Oat bran muffins). Wheat bran, whole wheat pastry flour, a tad of brown sugar, pistachios, homemade cranberry orange sauce, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

This week was our last relaxing week before school starts again. No one could ask for a better week - the sun was shining like never before, and at night the stars were heavenly! We pray that you all may appreciate cultures unlike your own and embrace peace.

Peace, LKSisters

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Greater Love....than Food!

There is no greater love than the love of God and family.....and food! lol... If there was one book that everyone should read for the new year to be renewed and energized to be a better person, it would have to be "No Greater Love" by Mother Teresa. So many great quotes that move the soul and make you feel peace and love all around you.

This week we cooked foods to bring out their natural flavors - with not much sauces or seasonings to hide their great taste!
We roasted these unique red potatoes that L. obtained from the local Health Food Store with just some olive oil, black pepper, and a sprinkle of dried rosemary. They held their shape so nicely, yet were creamy, moist, and soft. Red potatoes are a lot better than the old fashioned baking potato, which is too starchy, dry, and mushy.

Along with the roasted potatoes, we roasted cauliflower. With a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper, these come out so perfect and simple.

We had brought some of our parent's cooking white wine back to make wine marinated mushrooms. The wine, let's just say was bitter. We've made wine marinated mushrooms before, but this wine was not tasty. We figured the mushrooms would still be edible once we jazzed it up. The next day we re-cooked them (to cook off the wine) and added garlic and onion.

The wild rice - so nutty, hearty, and elegant - was cooked with Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable No-Salt-Added Bouillon and a little curry powder, which enhanced the wild rice flavor nicely. We paired it with sauteed brussel sprouts, with just a little garlic and onion, and leftover wine mushrooms. We have so much rice in the freezer, since L. brought home a trash bag full of wild rice from work (at the Health Food Store), that we don't know what to do with it! What other wild rice ideas do you all have?

As a small side, we made homemade orange cranberry sauce (whole fresh cranberries, naval orange pulp and zest). It turned out to be rich and tart. We experimented with brown rice syrup this week, and it's working out just ok for us. We froze the rest of the cranberry sauce and will use it in other recipes rather than eat it on its own. If you have a great unique recipe with cranberry sauce, please share! We were thinking of cranberry bread for one recipe idea.

We also made vegetable nut burger, from Passionate Vegetarian. We had some brown rice already cooked, and mixed in diced carrots, bell peppers, onion, garlic, jalapeno, walnuts, a hint of soy sauce, herbs, and cashew butter. It called for tahini, but we didn't have any so we used nut butter for the creaminess instead. The verdict - it was nutty, filling, healthy, with great textures. The nut butter added a nice flavor, subtle, yet strong at the same time. We love homemade burgers in general (they are fresher, lower sodium, less processed, cheaper, and make a lot to freeze!), and this was no exception! Incredibly tasty with avocado slices.

Our freezer is so stocked up with lots of breads/rolls/cookies, that we were not too creative in the kitchen this week, but we still enjoyed the food just the same. The one thing we did labor in the kitchen for a while - Fig Cake Newton, from Soy of Cooking cookbook (a great book!). Two layers of dense cake (like banana bread, but with prune puree instead of bananas), and a delicious fig and golden raisin filling. This would be awesome (and less labor-intensive) if we made banana bread with a fig filling, or added maple syrup and walnuts in the fig filling. Low fat and healthy! Even more decadent with So Delicious Vanilla Soy Ice Cream.

Anyways, school starts next Monday, so we are trying to enjoy each free day while it lasts. Hope everyone cherishes each moment and doesn't forget to see things with a "glass half-full" attitude!

"Peace begins with a smile."
(Mother Teresa)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wow - can't believe 2008 is already here! It's nice to have the new year come after the Christmas holidays when you spend time with family and friends and realize how much you appreciate your family. A great way to start the new year is spending time with family - we went to our Grandparents and "the whole gang" was there celebrating 2008.
K, L, and our Dad

Lots of Christmas gatherings for us this holiday season. We attended 4 celebrations, and of course we made lots of food for the occasions.

As mentioned in the previous post, we made spiced nuts (a mixture of pecans and almonds with cayenne, chili pepper, maple syrup, and cinnamon), yeasty cornbread sticks, carrot hummus (was fabulous!, especially with pita bread), garbanzo green bean salad with pumpkin vinaigrette, double chocolate cookies, ginger cinnamon wafers, almond-oat cookies with mixed berry jam in the center, German red cabbage (a family recipe with red wine), and broccoli wild rice stuffing.

stuffing, cornbread sticks, salad, & red cabbage

garbanzo green bean salad
For today's New Year gathering, we made spinach dip (from Soy of Cooking by Marie Oser) served with pita bread, cucumber, and cauliflower; black-eyed pea salad with tomatoes and jalapeño; and oatmeal pistachio cookies with Pearl Green Tea soy milk!

When we weren't out at family gatherings, we enjoyed homemade pizza with broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, and tofu ricotta (tofu ricotta taken from Broccoli Lasagna Rolls in Soy of Cooking cookbook) and we loved the Indian Sweet Potato Wraps (with peas, onion, cinnamon, cayenne, garlic, sweet potatoes, and pumpernickel wrap - absolutely easy and delicious from Student Vegan Cookbook).

For Christmas we got the Soy of Cooking cookbook and Veganomicon! We are looking foward to making lots of tasty meals out of our new cookbooks. This past week we also made our own aprons, which we can now use when we are in the kitchen! We just bought stencils, plain aprons, and fabric paint, and painted "Life is like a bag of carrots" and "Cruelty free Baking". We love carrots, and life is very much fresh and sweet like carrots :)

We wish you all a blessed year full of joys and new opportunities.

Peace, LK