here i am!

Hello there.  It has been a long time since I’ve written anything, because life got real crazy-town for a few months.  One day after my last post we decided to move. We found a teeny-tiny house about 3 minutes from Gavin’s favorite surf spot with a nice big yard in an extremely safe neighborhood. When I say teeny-tiny, I mean it’s only about 650 square feet.  I’ve worn-out every hobbit hole joke I could think of in the months since we moved, so I’ll spare you.

Image

Here is Ireland playing in the yard right before we moved in

Ten days before Christmas, we sold most of our furniture and hauled our stuff to a new city (because we are lunatics).  I was about 8 months pregnant with a cranky, teething two-year-old so basically I waddled around and cried a lot for no reason.  Sometimes I also waved my arms and shouted “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS??!!”.  Gavin couldn’t get work off so we had to do it all in one Saturday.  Cue more crying and flapping and panting.

Image

A peek into our teensie kitchen at Christmastime.  It was a big adjustment, but I love it now & whip up lots of yummy vegan meals for my cute family in here.

It was insane, but it was absolutely the right decision and we feel like this place was an answer to our prayers.  Shortly after the move we pulled together a family birthday party for Ireland’s second birthday.  It was a busy day but we pulled off some great food, including this extremely simple & healthy (oil-free! vegan! somebody stop me!) spinach & artichoke dip. I also made some vegan mini chocolate chip banana muffins with a brown sugar glaze which merit their own post.  They were awesome.

Image

I will share the recipe soon, if only for an excuse to make them again.

It was hilarious trying to fit a bunch of family members into our living room.  I love our tiny little place and I want to do a house tour when I have the time (read: when I’m not nursing/burping/patting/sushing/rocking a newborn).

Ah yeah!  Our newborn.  Would you like to meet her?  She is pretty sweet.  Her name is Piper Rose and she joined us in February:

Image

Oh, sweet Piper.  To me, you are perfect.  Photo by Merrily Roberts Photography.

That brings us to April.  We did the Easter thing, which was super cute.  I accidentally (maybe on purpose?) forgot to get candy for the Easter eggs, so we made it work with raisins, dried cranberries, and cheerios.  Ireland was SO excited to open each egg and eat her treats.  Ten points for mom.

ImageIreland posing for daddy with her hunted raisins.  See the tip of a boat in the background?  That’s our sandbox.  We love our yard!

ImageFamily of four.

The day after Easter, my sisters came to visit from the East Coast!  I was in heaven, and it was so fun to have all the baby cousins together.  We love them.

Image

Ireland, Cash, Piper, and Ella

That brings us back to today.  I’m ready to start blogging again, and I can’t wait to share a tutorial for basic veggie burger patties.  Here’s a sneak peek:
Image

It’s starting to feel like Summer again!  See you soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

vegan butterscotch pecan pie with whipped coconut cream

Thanksgiving Eve is coming to a close, but I wanted to share this pie recipe before I start dozing off at the computer screen.  It’s a Butterscotch Pecan Pie.  And it’s Vegan.  You’re welcome.

I found this frozen pie crust at my local health food store & am pretty stoked on it.  Whole wheat, organic, and vegan.  Hallelujah!  I think the over-use of “whole” is my favorite part of the whole thing: Wholly Wholesome Naturally Wholeicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust…

VEGAN BUTTERSCOTCH PECAN PIE

Makes one 9″ pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 Frozen whole wheat pie crust, thawed (or your favorite homemade recipe, you overachiever, you…)
  • 1 1/2 c halved pecans
  • 1 c organic vegan sugar
  • 1/4 c organic brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt (this seems like a lot, but it makes the butterscotch HAPPEN.  don’t skip it.)
  • 6 Tbsp earth balance or other dairy-free margarine, melted)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with 4 Tbsp water (let sit for a few minutes until it gels together)
  • 1 c organic light corn syrup (I used wholesome sweeteners brand.  the small container was exactly 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp alcohol-free vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (don’t skip it, or your pie will be too sweet!)

1.  Place about 1 cup of your pecans on the bottom of your raw pie shell.

2.  Combine the sugars, flour, and salt in a large bowl.

3.  Mix the remaining wet ingredients separately, then add the wet to the dry and whisk until you get a smooth consistency.

4.  Pour batter into your pie shell.  You will see the pecans begin to bubble and kind of “float” toward the top.  Try not to laugh like a mad scientist and focus…you’re almost done.

5.  Scoot your pie to the edge of your counter.  Steady it with one hand, and tap the bottom of the pie with the other.  This will release more bubbles and help more pecans rise to the top.  You can laugh now.

6.  Arrange the rest of your pecans on top of the pie and place in a cold oven.  Turn heat to 375 and walk away for about 60 minutes.


Your pie will look like this before baking

Now, all ovens are different, so this is where it gets tricky.  I let my pie bake for 90 minutes at 375, then covered it with a bent piece of foil to prevent the top from burning and continued to bake it 30 minutes more at 275.  Yes that is like a million hours (read: 2 hours).  But you gotta give pecan pies time.  They are crazy like that.  Here’s the pretty finished pie:

Easy as, well, pie. Okay, lame joke. Moving on…

We can’t have pie without whipped cream!  And we can’t have whipped cream when we are vegan, right?  Well, no.  That’s wrong.  You just have to be awesome and smart and try this recipe:

VEGAN WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM


I’ll say it again: I am not a photographer. Stop judging me.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (sorry, low fat will not work), chilled at least overnight
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Carefully open your cans of cold coconut milk.  Do not shake them!

2.  Scrape the white coconut cream out of the cans.  Leave the clear-ish coconut water.  You won’t need it right now.  If you like, you can save the water in a jar in the fridge and add it to smoothies.  Yum.

3.  Beat the coconut cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla on high until you get stiff peaks.

4.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge until pie time.  Oh, and try not to let your toddler see you lick the bowl.  Because then you have to share.

I won’t be blogging tomorrow, but I’ll be back Friday with a recap of all the recipes I am going to make tomorrow morning.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Holidays, Recipes, Thanksgiving

crockpot vegan stuffing

I can tell tomorrow is an important day by the amazing smells coming from the kitchen right now.  Sweet potatoes are cooling, ready to be mixed into this Sweet Potato Casserole, a vegan pecan pie is baking in the oven, and garlic and rosemary are particularly standing out from the stuffing that is roasting away in my trusty crockpot.  Here’s the deal:  stuffing does not have to be complicated, and it does not have to be cooked in the oven the day of Thanksgiving.  Who has room for that, anyway?  My momma’s orange rolls will be monopolizing my oven space tomorrow morning, so cooking our stuffing in the crockpot is the perfect solution.  Once it is done, I am going to store it in the fridge overnight.  Tomorrow morning I will hollow out 6 whole organic onions and fill them with the stuffing and some crumbled Field Roast Vegan Apple Sage Sausage.  Then they will be topped with a little olive oil, covered with foil, & roasted at 425 for about 30 minutes.  Because they will be stuffed INTO onions, I omitted onion from this recipe and used a few green onions instead.  If you are serving the stuffing in a dish (the traditional way), I would suggest adding about 1 cup of diced onion to the recipe.

Why hello there.  My name is Kelly & I am NOT  photographer.

VEGAN CROCKPOT STUFFING

(yields about 2 quarts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat sourdough bread
  • 1 whole organic celery heart (about 1 cup), minced
  • 3 medium organic carrots, minced
  • 3 organic green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup organic fresh baby spinach, finely chopped (I think parsley would be an excellent substitution if you don’t have spinach on hand)
  • 1 small package organic cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • about 2 cups organic No-Chicken broth (I love Imagine brand) or organic Vegetable broth
  • 4 organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegan gravy (or more broth)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh organic rosemary, finely minced
  • 1 tsp fresh organic sage, julienned
  • salt & pepper to taste

1.  Break up your sourdough loaf into pieces and spread on baking sheets.  Toast for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees until they are toasted, but not hard & crumbly.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Once all your veggies are diced, add the carrots, celery, green onion, and spinach to the crockpot along with your toasted sourdough bread.

3.  Saute your garlic and mushrooms in a little olive oil or broth over medium-low heat until your mushrooms have darkened and your garlic becomes fragrant.  Add rosemary, thyme, and sage and stir to soften the seasonings.

4.  Gently pour your vegan gravy into the pan.  If it begins to stick, turn down your heat and add a little more broth.  Taste and season with salt and pepper (I ended up using about 2 tsp of each, but this will vary depending on which type of broth you choose).

5.  Combine all ingredients in your crockpot and stir gently, then add enough broth to moisten all the bread (I used about 2 cups total).

6.  Cook on high for about 45 minutes, then switch to low for 3-4 hours.  Add more broth as necessary (especially if you don’t like dry stuffing).

 

My pecan pie is done, so I’m off for now to make some vegan whipped cream.  I’ll be back with the recipe for both 🙂

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Holidays, Recipes, Thanksgiving

2 recipes! vegan gravy & gluten-free vegan pumpkin squares

Onward onward, ever onward!  Day 2 of Thanksgiving preparations got off to a rough start.  Gavin stayed home from work with a case of the sniffles & we were busy celebrating my dad’s 71st birthday tonight.  But here I am, still alive.  Ireland is sound asleep and Gavin is watching a documentary about beards, so I have a free minute to check in.

Earlier today I made some mushroom gravy.  A great perk of a plant-based Thanksgiving is being able to make the gravy without waiting around for the turkey to be done.  Because there is no animal fat, it doesn’t get that coagulated, gelatinous skin on the top once it cools, either.  You can just store it in a jar, shake it up, and reheat it when you are ready to serve dinner.  Heating it on the stovetop or in short bursts in the microwave both work fine.  If you choose to reheat in the microwave, treat it as if you are melting chocolate: stir every 30 seconds or so until you get it to the right consistency.  If it becomes too thick upon reheating, add a little extra broth rather than water.  It will have better flavor that way.  Thanksgiving day I am serving Rosemary & Sage Mashed Potatoes from Daily Garnish, so I was inspired by her “White Gravy” recipe.  Since the potato recipe contains steamed apples (a simple, secret ingredient that is so tasty), a traditional dark gravy would overpower rather than compliment the fresh herbs & sweet notes of the mashed ‘taters.  Unfortunately, last year Gavin was NOT a fan of the original gravy & insisted it was “too bland”.  I liked it, so maybe I am bland.  I made a few changes to the recipe this year and was pleased with how it turned out.  I ended up doubling the batch so I can mix some up with my sourdough stuffing and make it creamy.

MUSHROOM GRAVY

yields about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4-5 organic cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 small organic garlic cloves, minced (reduce to 2 cloves if you aren’t a fan of garlic breath)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3 c organic no-chicken broth (I love Imagine brand) or organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup organic unbleached AP flour*
  • 1 tsp organic dried onions
  • 2 tsp sea salt (I used pink Himalayan salt crystals)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

1.  Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet.

2.  Add your mushrooms and garlic, stirring gently until your garlic becomes fragrant and lightly browned and your mushrooms begin to darken.

3.  Mix in the nutritional yeast, and immediately deglaze the pan with the water, scraping the bottom of the pan (don’t miss any yummy garlicky bits!)

4.  Now comes the tricky part…don’t be nervous.  Slowly add in the flour & broth, whisking constantly.  Don’t give up.  You can do this.  I almost cried (note: I’m super pregnant) because I thought I had a big clumpy mess on my hands but PUSH THROUGH IT!  It will all work out if you just keep whisking.

5.  If the gravy is too thick, add a little more liquid. Once you have reached the consistency you like your gravy to be, season with dried onions, salt, and pepper.  This gravy can take a lot of salt, so don’t be shy.

*Unfortunately, whole wheat flour is not a great choice for gravy.  The low protein & high starch contents of all-purpose flour both do a better job stiffening up the sauce and help you avoid clumps.  It also keeps the gravy from getting that lovely “skin” when it sits for a while.  Corn starch can also be used, and makes a glossier gravy, but it breaks down quickly when you reheat it, so keep that in mind if you are making this recipe ahead of time.

Now!  On to the sweet stuff: Pumpkin Pie Squares!  I snagged this recipe from the blog Straight Up Food, and it is AWESOME just as it is (trust me, I know…we ate an entire pan in one night last week.  whoopsie).  However, I can’t leave well enough alone and added a few ingredients to make it a bit more friendly for the non-health nut members of my extended family who will be joining us on Thursday.  I think it’s best with a little vegan whipped cream, and- lucky for you- I’m making some & sharing the recipe tomorrow!

VEGAN PUMPKIN PIE SQUARES

(Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil-Free, can be No Sugar-Added and Salt-Free)

Yields about 24 small squares

Ingredients:

  • 25 pitted organic dates (half a container…about 2 cups diced)
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 3 c organic rolled oats, blended into flour
  • 1/2 c organic brown sugar or sucanat (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp sea salt (I used pink Himalayan salt crystals)
  • 2 15 oz. cans pureed organic pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp alcohol-free vanilla
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk

1.  Dice the dates and soak them in the 1 1/4 c water for about 15 minutes.

2.  Mix dry ingredients (ground oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie flavoring, and salt) in a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Combine the dates to a blender along with their soaking water, and blend until smooth.

4.  Add the remaining ingredients into the blender with the dates and continue to blend until it looks creamy and smooth.

5.  Add wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined.

5.  Pour batter into a greased 9×12 inch pan (or line with parchment to keep truly oil-free) and bake at 375 for 45 mins-1 hour.  If it browns too quickly, don’t trip.  Cover your pan with foil and continue baking until it is cooked through.  If it is a little brown on top, doesn’t jiggle, and has a few cracks, it is probably done.  Cool to room temperature, slice, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve…with vegan whipped cream 🙂  See you tomorrow!

2 Comments

Filed under Birthday, Cooking, Holidays, Husband, Pregnancy, Recipes

vegan cranberry sauce & a quick toddler lunch

It’s Thanksgiving week!  I am so excited to start the cooking.  First, here’s some news from our weekend:

Gavin surfed in the Carlsbad Classic surf competition this weekend.  He was in the longboard division & made it to the finals.  I was pretty bummed that I missed it (um, we were sleeping in…), but he had a great time.

Here he is on his way up to the nose:

(edit: I guess this move is actually called a “cheater 5” or something.  I stand corrected.  I just like the way his tush looks in the picture…)

We stopped by Whole Foods on Saturday afternoon to pick up some Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage (vegan, of course) for our Thanksgiving stuffing and then took a 4 hour nap.  America!!

Sunday we got to see Gavin’s cute sisters who are visiting from college for the holiday.  How cute are Gavin & Paisley?

That brings us back to Monday. And Thanksgiving food. First up, Cranberry Sauce. The easiest Thanksgiving dish on the table to make, by far.  Cranberries naturally contain a lot of pectin, so the resulting “sauce” is actually more of a jelly.  It is one of my favorite holiday dishes and can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Here is my vegan version:

VEGAN CRANBERRY SAUCE
(Yields approximately 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh organic cranberries (about a 12 oz bag)
  • zest and juice of 2 organic oranges
  • water as necessary (2 oranges should yield about 1 cup of juice. If you end up with less than this, make up the rest with water.)
  • 1/2 cup- 1 cup of organic vegan sugar* (adjust to your taste.  more sugar makes for a sweeter, less tart sauce)

1.  Rinse and drain your cranberries.

2.  In a medium saucepan, bring your juice, water, and zest to a simmer.  Add the sugar and gently stir until it has dissolved.  This will make a syrup-y base for your sauce.

3.  Once the sugar has dissolved completely, carefully dump in your cranberries.  You will start to hear them pop almost immediately. Let them simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring gently every few minutes to prevent burning.  You will see your berries start to change:

4. When the berries have all burst open & are translucent, remove the pan from heat and let them cool to room temperature. Transfer to an air-tight container and chill until ready to serve.

*Not all sugars are the same.  Conventional granulated sugar actually contains a lot more ingredients than you would expect, one of them being bone char.  We use Trader Joe’s Organic sugar.  It is vegan & a great option if you are avoiding excessive processing, chemicals, or animal ingredients.  They also carry coconut sugar now.  Hooray!

I wanted to also share a quick lunch I made for Ireland earlier today. It was too simple to merit its own post, but hungry little herbivores need to eat, too 🙂 .

“CHEATER” VEGAN MAC & CHEESE
(Note: this is not a creamy mac & cheese dish. I have a few heartier recipes I will share in the future. This tastes more like buttered noodles with parmesan, for those of you who still remember what parmesan tastes like…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb organic whole wheat noodles
  • organic frozen peas
  • earth balance vegan margarine (we use the Soy-Free version)
  • nutritional yeast*
  • powdered garlic (or raw garlic, if you have some on hand)

1.  Cook the noodles according to package directions.

2.  While the noodles are boiling away, place a few handfuls of frozen peas in the bottom of a bowl to thaw a bit.  Don’t defrost them- no one likes soggy peas!

3.  Once the noodles are done, drain them.  I like to rinse my toddler’s with a little cold water to cool it down quickly.

4.  Add noodles, about a teaspoon each of earth balance & nutritional yeast, and a little sprinkle of garlic.

*For those of you going “huh”?  Nutritional yeast is a very nutrient-dense ingredient that can be used as a seasoning.  Many vegans use it because it packs so much b-12.  It has a cheesy flavor and reminds me a bit of parmesan (maybe.  It’s been a while…).  It does take a bit for some people to get used to eating it (and digesting it-lots of nutrients!), so start with a little at a time.  You can find it in the bulk bins at most health food stores.

Do you have a favorite vegan mac & cheese recipe?  I really enjoy this one, but I want to branch out & try a few new (and healthier) types this month.   What about a cranberry sauce recipe with less sugar or using a sugar alternative like brown rice syrup?  I’d love to give that a try for Christmas Dinner.

See you tomorrow with a yummy pumpkin recipe!

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Holidays, Husband, Recipes

thanksgiving ketchup.

Image

Time to play catch-up on the old bloggity blog.  I know you guys have missed me!  Truth is, I have been thinking a while about firing up the old blog-engine to share our vegan junk with people.  I get a lot of questions from friends, family members, random strangers at the grocery store….all about how we live.  They want to know what the heck we eat, & I thought that it would be easier to direct people to one place for answers.  I also get a lot of curious minds interested in how we manage our growing toddler’s menu, as well as how I eat as a growing pregnant lady.  I love finding and sharing new recipes, and this seems like the simplest way to do it.

I am going to do a test-run by blogging about Thanksgiving.  This will be our second year as vegan Thanksgiving-ers and I am a little braver & more comfortable with animal-free ingredients now.

Here’s a look at our menu:

  • Baby Spinach & Radicchio salad with Pears, Pecans, & Poppyseed Dressing
  • Apple-Infused Rosemary Sage Mashed Potatoes
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • Creamed Corn Casserole (gotta have it!)
  • Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans
  • Orange-Spiced Cranberry Sauce
  • Sourdough Stuffing with Vegan Sausage Stuffed in Whole Roasted Onions (this will be our main course)
  • Whole Wheat Orange Rolls with a Sugary Glaze (vegan-izing my momma’s old recipe)
  • Pecan Pie
  • Pumpkin Bars

Can you tell we like pecans?  Um, and carbs??  We try to eat a bit  more balanced and “lighter”  the rest of the year, but I am a food-crazy pregnant lady right now so our menu is “hearty”, as my sister politely calls it.  I am considering the addition of a Pumpkin-Shallot Soup to the menu as well, but I’m trying not to over-do it so I may save that recipe for next year.  It would be difficult to transport soup to my in-laws on a bumpy 40 minute car ride without spilling/giving me a panic attack anyway 🙂

I will be kicking off Thanksgiving week on Monday with the Cranberry Sauce since it keeps so well in the fridge & I like serving it cold anyway.  My hope is to prepare a few menu items each day and reheat them on Thanksgiving morning so that I can relax a little and enjoy time with my family.  Each night after I make a recipe, I plan to post about it and tell you all how it went.

From there, I want to start sharing more of our day-to-day eating and lifestyle habits as vegans.  How we keep within a small grocery budget, how we convince our toddler to eat kale, and our favorite go-to family recipes are the types of topics I’d like to address.  Hope you join us!

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Holidays, Husband, Pregnancy, Recipes, Uncategorized

where i’ve been

We love you, Ireland Jane.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized