Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Whole Lotta Chocolatta!.....Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Holy (not so) cow!  These cookies are to die for!  And this is coming from a girl who does not enjoy sweets often.  So decadent and chocolaty!  Seriously cozy up with a blanket, a good movie, a nice cold, tall glass of almond milk and dunk away!

Sadly enough this was the first time I used my Kitchen Aide mixer....and I have had it for four years...shame on me.  I think that just tells me I have too many toys in the kitchen.  But, it was pretty exciting to use, and I look forward to using it more frequently in the future.

When making these cookies, there is one important thing to note.  Once you are finished making the cookie "batter", it will seem a bit dry and almost grainy.  This is normal!  Do not add more liquid or oil!  You are going to spoon up each cook and compress it into a ball and then press it down into a cookie shape.  This is not your typical cookie batter!

Also note, in order for this to be vegan, you must buy dark chocolate morsels!

Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 

Preheat oven 350.  In one bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In your mixer bowl, add in the coconut or vegetable oil, sugars, vanilla and start your mixer.  Slowly mix in the almond milk and the contents of your other bowl.  Mix until fully combined.  Then, add in the morsels.  

Lightly oil your cookie sheet.  With a spoon or ice cream scooper, scoop out a ball of the cookie mixture, form into a ball, then press onto the cookie sheet to form a cookie shape.  Repeat until dough is gone.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  The edges should be firm, and the centers soft.  Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from cookie sheet.  Enjoy!  These are irresistible!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Vegan Football Food!......Protein Packed Vegan Quinoa-Black Bean Chili

This is a great vegan chili that will satisfy anyone's tummy.  I have a few different chili recipes, but this one is definitely the most filling.  This is a great meal on a cool, rainy day or if you want to pack in a whole lot of protein!  One serving of this chili gives you over 30 g of protein!  Sign me up!  But, beware!  This chili is filling!

What is great about chili is that you can add an array of vegetables.  For this particular recipe, I included carrots, onions, fresh vine ripe tomatoes and zucchini.  I was thinking about adding in bell peppers as well, but I knew Ry would just pick around them, so I refrained.

Best part about this recipe?  Well, clearly it tastes amazing but literally anyone can make this!  It is easy peasy with little skill required.  So get your bums in the kitchen and make some chili!  P.S- This is a perfect pot luck item to watch some football with your friends!

Vegan Quinoa-Black Bean Chili

Ingredients (yields 6-8 servings):
1 c dry quinoa
2 c vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans with sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 zucchini chopped
2 vine ripe tomatoes chopped 
1 c vegetable broth (add more or less depending on how you like the consistency)
1-2 chili in adobo sauce 
1-2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp adobo seasoning
1 tbsp liquid smoke 
1/2 tbsp of your favorite hot sauce
1 tbsp evoo
sea salt to taste

Place the quinoa and broth in a small pot, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime, heat evoo in a large pot and saute the garlic, carrots and onions for about 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add in zucchini and saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients and seasoning.  Adjust the seasoning if need be.  Once the quinoa has finished cooking, add it to the pot.  Add in the desired amount of vegetable broth.  Cover and let the chili simmer for about 30 minutes.  This will enable all of the flavors to really immerse.  
Serve when ready to eat.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall in love with this....Vegan Freekah and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

While technically it is still late summer, you would have no idea here in Chicago.  It feels more like November around here.  It has been in the 40's/50's and rainy.  Ummm, no thanks.  This weather just begs for a  comforting fall dish!

 We were on a mini vacation last weekend and hit up some more U-pick farms (which may possibly be my most favorite activity).  I picked an abundance of succulent peaches and Michigan apples.  On top of that, I still have a ridiculous amount of produce from another trip to an Illinois farm a week prior.  With that said, I really needed to come up with something that involved kale, red cabbage and apples.  So clearly it is time to get cooking!

If you haven't heard of freekeh, you are not alone!  I came across the grain by navigating the bulk section of my local grocery store.  Then, one night Ryan came across a food trivia game.  The question was "What is the oldest grain used for food".  For some reason, I said freekeh.  Ding ding ding.  Oddly enough, I was correct.  I found that pretty cool.  It is now considered the "newest-oldest superfood".  It is chewy, with a nutty flavor...think somewhere between barley and brown rice.  The nutritional value is quite impressive too! It is a great plant based protein and high in fiber.  So while quinoa has been on the rise, don't forget about other terrific protein blasted grains as well!

Of course any squash is perfect for the fall.  A little sweet, a little nutty...hmmm that kind of sounds like a description of me :/.  Anyway, it tastes great with the nuttiness of the freekah, sweetness of a fresh picked fuji apple and the bitterness of kale and cabbage.

Vegan Freekah and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash 

Ingredients (yields 4 servings)
2 acorn squash
1 tbsp evoo
1 c freekeh
2 1/2 c vegetable broth
2 small fuji apples, diced
1/3 c chopped red cabbage
1/3 c chopped kale
3 scallions, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 lemons, juiced
1 tbsp evoo
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Preheat oven 400.   With a sharp knife, cut acorn squash in half, spoon out seeds, and cut off about a 1/2 inch of the bottom of each squash, so they stand up straight.  Lightly brush evoo each squash and sprinkle with evoo.  Bake in oven for about one hour or until you can easily place a knife through the squash.

In the meantime, bring the vegetable broth and freekeh to a boil, cover, turn to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.  

When the freekeh is done cooking, transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add in chopped kale, cabbage, apples, scallions and parsley.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, evoo, vinegar, nutritional yeast and s+p.  Pour the dressing over the freekeh salad and mix together. 

Remove the acorn squash from the oven, spoon in the salad mixture, garnish with more fresh parsley and serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vegan Ginger Scented Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

I love the aromatics when I cook.  It is basically mouth watering love flowing in the air.  And, there is always something special about walking through the door and just smelling what is waiting for your taste buds.  Almost like that smell when you walk into a Whole Foods, but...oh wait, I still have money in my bank account because I use my local grocer (ok, fine...most of the time).

The aromas of ginger and garlic filled my kitchen, along with a touch of toasted sesame oil/chili oil.  At that moment, I knew this recipe was going to be fantastic.  Ginger root is one of my all time favorite ingredients.  I felt nauseous all day, so while prepping for this meal, I chewed on some ginger root.  Badda-bing-badda-bang....bye-bye nausea.  I also love taking a lemon-ginger-cayenne shot every morning as well!  I swear, it is a great way to start the day!

The use of cauliflower "rice" is similar to my Moroccan Stew with Cauliflower "couscous" recipe, except I did not use a food processor this time.  I did not want the texture to be as delicate, and wanted larger, rice-like peaces, so I manually grated the cauliflower to resemble more of a piece of rice. 

Vegan Ginger Scented Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

Ingredients (yields 3-4 servings)

1 small head of cauliflower, grated
1 c dried shitake mushrooms
1.5 c vegetable or mushroom broth
2 carrots, shredded or grated in food processor
1/2 c shelled edamame (cooked)
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cubed
3 scallion chopped (save the green parts for garnish)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, minced
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tbsp chili oil
1 tbsp soy sauce (possibly more accordingly to taste)


In a small pot, bring broth to a boil and add in dried shitake mushrooms.  Turn off heat and let the mushrooms rehydrate in the broth for about 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes.  Dried shitakes tend to be hard and chewy if you do not let them soak long enough, so give them a try before you are done soaking.   Once they are nice and soft, strain them in a collander and set aside.  

Heat sesame oil and chili oil in a wok (or large pan) and saute ginger and garlic for about a minute/  Add in the grated cauliflower, chopped green onions and shredded carrots.  Saute veggies for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in more sesame oil if need be.  Add in soy sauce, tofu, edamame and mushrooms.  Add more soy sauce if you wish.  Serve when heat

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vegan TexMex Style Stuffed Butternut Squash with Vegan Avocado Crema

What an enjoyable day and so far a great evening as well!  We bought a garden box for our deck so I can start a fun little garden on our oversized, awesome deck.  Yeah yeah, I know it is August, but hey I can still do fall vegetables.  Although, so far I only have kale and 4 herbs out there.  Next plan:  build our own box and get some fall veggies planted.  So much fun!  Plus it inspires me even more to cook all day.

So yeah....I have been cooking all day.  I call these crazed episodes my "freak mode".  I can't sit down and just continue to cook.  I don't think Ryan complains when these "episodes" occur.  His tummy is most certainly satisfied.

Technically speaking, this recipe is quite simple.  You really are not doing much cooking and there is little prep.  Just mixing your fillings and salsa together and throw it in the oven!  Note that you do have to make the squash first, so that does take some time.  You can choose whether or not to include vegan "cheese".  I thought it was a nice addition.  The avocado "crema" is also a really nice creamy addition as well!

Vegan Southwest Style Stuffed Butternut Squash with Vegan Avocado Crema

Ingredients (for the stuffed squash)  (yeilds 4 servings)

2 butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1/4 c chopped red onion
1-2 vine ripe tomatoes chopped
1/4 c of your favorite salsa (I have been loving Rick Bayless' New Mexico Red Chili Salsa)
2 tsp chili powder
1 c vegan cheese of your choice (optional)
1 tbsp evoo

for the avocado crema:
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 c vegan sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lime, juiced
salt to taste

Directions for the stuffed squash
Preheat oven 400.  Place halved and seeded squash in a baking dish and lightly brush with evoo.  Bake for 25 minutes.  In the meantime, make your filling.  Simply toss all the remaining ingredients except for the vegan cheese.  Once done baking, remove squash from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into cubes.  Leave oven on!
To cut the squash, cut a grid like pattern of cubes in each squash.  Remove the cubes with a spoon and add to your corn/black bean filling.  Stuff each squash with the filling, top with vegan cheese and bake for another 10 minutes or until "cheese" is melted.

Directions for the vegan avocado "crema"
Just throw all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Adjust seasoning accordingly. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sweet and Spicy, Just Like Me......Vegan Morrocan Vegetable Stew with Cauliflower Couscous

Fragrant, a bit sweet, a bit spicy, and a bit salty.  This dish covers a spectrum of flavors, without overwhelming your palate.  And the dish really comes together when you add in your ras el hannout.

Yeah yeah, I know what you are thinking.  Ras a what???  That was a mouthful of gibberish!  So, I'll make things easier for you and call it your Moroccan spice mix or just Moroccan spice.  From Northern Africa, it is an Arabic and means "head of shop", basically saying that this is a mixture of the best spices. 

This is a great stew to make if you have an abundance of produce and want to use a lot of it.  I love the variety of tastes and textures due to the mixture of dried fruits, vegetable and olives.

Of course, I always like to choose a low(er) carb option if it is available.  I had so much cauliflower in my refrigerator and new I wanted to make this into a couscous.  It is seriously so easy!

You simply throw it in your food processor, grate it, then season and saute.  Bam!  This really has the texture of couscous!

You can also use grated cauliflower to emulate rice as well in a raw dish, or in a fun summer squash risotto

But please keep in mind, while this is significantly lower in carbohydrates when comparing to rice, I would not consider this being "low carb", hence saying low(er) carb option.  A serving a white rice is roughly 45 g of carbs, whereas a serving of cauliflower is 29.

FYI- If you are on a low carb diet, you want anywhere between 50-75 g of carbs a day.  Just some food for thought for all you healthy people out there that are interested in a low carb diet.

Vegan Morrocan Vegetable Stew with Cauliflower Couscous
1 can vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small zucchini, quartered
2 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 handful chopped collard greens
1/3 c green olives, cut in half
1/3 c dried apricots, roughly chopped into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbs Moroccan spice mix (Ras El Hanout
salt to taste

Ingredients for the Cauliflower Couscous
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp evoo


With your blender or food processor, add in can of diced tomatoes with liquid and blend until smooth.  Set aside.
After you have prepped all of your produce (there was definitely a good amount of prep and chopping), heat evoo in a large stock pot and saute ginger and garlic for roughly 2 minutes.  Add in sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and saute for about 5-7 minutes, mixing frequently.  Add in the zucchini, apricots, green olives, and your Moroccan spice mix.  Add in more evoo if necessary, and saute for another minute or so.  You want to release some of the fragrance from the spice mix.  Add in the veggie broth and purred diced tomato mixture.  Bring to boil, cover and turn to low.  Simmer for roughly 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.  Add in more spice mix to taste and salt to taste.

In the meantime, start your "couscous".  Place cauliflower in a food processor and grate the couscous into a fine "kernel" by pulsing it until there are no large pieces.  Heat evoo in a saute pan, add in grated cauliflower, season with s+p and saute for about minutes or until soft.  Note; you do not want it mushy!

Once your stew is done, add more seasoning to taste.  Spoon into a bowl and serve with cauliflower couscous.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vegan Fennel, Leek and Apple Soup

I am starting to go a little stir crazy not being able to work.  One month turned into practically the entire summer sans massaging.  Sure I miss making money, but I sincerely miss working on my clients and helping their body and minds.  Hopefully just a few more weeks of physically therapy and I will be in tip top shape.  Luckily, cooking and this wonderful blog (wink wink) keeps me busy.  As I have said before, I am a pretty tense and wound up person.  Cooking is my therapy.  It calms both my mind and body.

I made this delicate, slightly sweet soup on a cool summer night.  But I think it would also be perfect for an autumn meal as well.  If you want to make this soup a bit more hearty, simply add in a peeled and cubed potato and saute along with the fennel, leeks and apples.  Though, the reason why I love this soup is because it is low carb and extremely tasty.

If you are not familiar with fennel, it is a very distinct aromatic herb.  When raw, the taste is strong and that like licorice or anise.  When cooked, it becomes much more mild and delicate and loses most of the pungent licorice flavor.  It is so interesting how your taste buds develop over the years.  As a child, I used to hate the taste of licorice and licorice candy. Though, now developing certain tastes and experiencing certain digetives, i have grown to love that unique anise flavor,  

I love topping this soup off with a tasty balsamic reduction and a bright and crunchy apple and walnut salad.  The contrast in textures and tastes really mesh together!

Vegan Fennel, Leek and Apple Soup 

Ingredients for the soup (yields 4-6 servings)
4 c vegetable broth
1 fennel bulb chopped (save fennel fronds for garnish)
3 leeks, whitish part chopped (hint: you can save the green part to make a vegetable broth)
1 large apple chopped
2 garlic clove, minced
3 sprigs thyme, stem removed
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger minced
2 tsp turmeric 
1/2 lemon juiced
2 tbsp evoo, separated

for the garnish:
1 apple sliced into small cubes
2-3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
fennel fronds
balsamic reduction (optional)

Preheat oven 350.  In a bowl, toss the chopped fennel bulb, leeks, and apple with evoo until they are evenly coated.  Place on baking sheet and roast bake for roughly 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  

Once they are done roasting.  Take out of oven and set aside.  In a large pot, heat evoo on med-high and saute ginger, garlic and thyme for roughly 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in the baked fennel, leeks and apples and saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Add in vegetable broth, lemon juice and turmeric.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  

Once simmered, transfer to your preferred blender (I love my Ninja) and puree until smooth.  Transfer back to pot, return to your desired temp.  When ready to serve, ladle soup into a bowl, top with small pieces of apples and walnuts, drizzle on balsamic reduction and dust with frond.

Bon apetite!