Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Spooktacular Reveal Day!

Hi Friends!

I'm a little late in the day getting this post out there because it's been a bit of a whirlwind around here lately! Better late than never, though!
This month's Foodie Pen Pal had me paired up with Ann from Cooking Dangerously.  She has a fun blog where she likes to "live on the edge" with her cooking.  I assumed that I probably wouldn't get your "run of the mill" foodie items and I was right.

Here's what she sent...

My Package :)
Have I mentioned how much I love receiving a Penpal Package in the mail?  It's like Christmas every month!  You get to meet two new people each month and, not only do you get to surprise one of them with a fun package but, you also get to be surprised by the other one.
Salish Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt
Very interesting!  I'm having a hard time experimenting with it though, because every time I open it I smell smoked meat.  At the same time it also smells of fire wood, which I like.  I think it's a super cool type of seasoning - I just wish that I didn't associate it with meat.  Bummer.  I'll let you know once I get around to using it.
Lundberg Black Rice
I've never bought black rice before and I'm really excited to cook with it.  In fact, I have it ear marked for a recipe that I'm making this week so, stay tuned for that
Pumpkin Pie Jam
What a perfect time to receive Pumpkin Pie Jam in October!  I've never seen this before and was super intrigued.  It's a little sweeter than I would like but I added a bit to my Apple Pie Pudding (which I make all the time lately!) and loved the result.
The collection...
This was such a great package and a wonderful example of why I love this program.  There is always something new to experience!  Thank you so much Ann for such a thoughtful package!  And thanks, as always, to Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean for hosting this awesome Pen Pal Party!  Visit her site to learn more about Foodie Pen Pals.

The Lean Green Bean

Happy Halloween everyone!  Please be safe tonight.
Curious George!  AKA my Godson ;)

Ves xx

Ps: apologies for the horrendous photos, they were taken on my iPod (which is fine) BUT, I could only retrieve them from email... so annoying.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh, How Spicy! - Vegan MoFo #22

   Hi Friends!

   Here's another delicious soup recipe to keep you warm during this stormy gray weather.  By the way, Hamilton survived "the worst" of the storm overnight and I hope that other areas were just as lucky.  It looks like our East Coast friends in the States haven't been as lucky and I hope they've seen the worst of it as well.
On with the recipe...
Spicy Tortilla Soup
6-8 Servings

1 pablano pepper
1 15-ounce can tomatoes, preferably no salt added
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup white hominy
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 ripe large avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
1/2 - 1 lime, juiced (optional)

  1. Holding the poblano pepper with metal tongs, quickly toast it by turning it an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds, or place it under the broiler (turning every minute or two) until the skin is slightly charred.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel, stem and seed the poblano pepper, break it into pieces and put it in a blender along with the tomatoes and their juice.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic to the blender with the tomato mixture. Process until smooth.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir almost constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes.  Add broth, water, cumin and chilli powder.  Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer.
  5. Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry; cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the tofu to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. In the last few minutes, stir in the corn and hominy.  When heated through, stir in cilantro leaves and lime juice and serve.  Garnish with some avocado and tortilla strips.

Ves xx

Ps: This was inspired by my mom's Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I used to love that soup and one day I will figure out all of the flavors that went into making that soup so delicious (minus the chicken, of course). ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vegan French Onion Soup - Vegan MoFo #21

   Hi Friends!

   I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was good in spite of the wet weather that has been gracing Southern Ontario for the past five days!  My Saturday morning was spent in bed watching Will & Grace reruns with my cat curled up next to me.  That's totally out of character for me but I definitely enjoyed the indulgence.  I think Patchie was way more thrilled that I was vegging out, though.  I'm hardly ever home and when I am, I'm rarely sitting down in one spot so I think she thought she won the lottery having all of my attention on her.   She may have attachment issues... I'm looking into a specialist for her.

See what I mean?  Stucklikeglue.
   Moving on...  This week, because of the wet, cold, gray weather, I'm craving soup!  I made a couple of batches yesterday, and one of them was French Onion Soup.  I love this soup and I'm so glad that I was able to find a recipe that actually worked and tasted good.  A while ago, when my mom was making French Onion soup, she made a vegan version for me.  I was going to ask her how she made it but she was a little busy this weekend doing this:
My mom's baked goods at the Digby Farmer's Market! 
   So I decided to look up some recipes on Google.  I found a few good ones but I decided to use the one from The Inventive Vegetarian.  This recipe was awesome and I only tweaked it a little so I won't post it here but I will include the link.
   Since I'm not posting a recipe I will share my tips for staying tear-free (almost) while cutting massive amounts of onions.
  1. Light Candles - As you can see in the photo above, I lit a couple of them.
  2. Open your windows - let the fresh air in and let the onion fumes out!  I have two windows in my kitchen and they were both open.  I was freezing but at least I didn't cry (that much)!
  3. Wear some sunglasses! - I know that one seems like a crazy tip but I really do think it helped me.
  4. Use a Mandoline - I sliced those onions in no time!  Everyone knows that your eyes start to water as soon as you cut into an onion.  The faster you can get it done the better!
Those are my tips for staying almost tear-free while cutting onions.  I can honestly say that I only had a few tears.  Normally I would be crying like a baby after cutting into half an onion - but after FOUR onions I hardly had any tears.  I did leave my sunglasses on for a little while after I was finished with the onions, just in case.

On to the soup...

My beautiful bowl of onions!

In the pot, ready to get cookin'!
Here are the very minor tweaks that I made to this recipe:
Instead of using Mushroom Stock I used vegetarian "Beef" Bouillon cubes.  First, I hate mushrooms.  I know 'hate' is a strong word and I always advise children against saying hate about food... BUT, I'm an adult and I know I really, really, REALLY do not like mushrooms!. So it's okay if I say I hate them!  Ha.  Plus, I had the cubes in my cupboard so it was a no-brainer. 

For the wine, I used a Pinot Grigio because that's what I had on hand.  Plus I love it, so I knew it would be good in this recipe.  Don't cook with a wine that you don't like the taste of!

For the cheese, I obviously did not use Swiss.  Instead, I used Daiya Mozzarella Shreds and it was perfect for this dish.

For the bread, I used a whole grain baguette instead of white French bread.

I also did not bake this soup the way that she does in her recipe.  I simply ladled the soup in the dishes, added the toasted bread and cheese on top, and put it in the oven on broil until the cheese melted.

Here's how it turned out...

   This soup was delicious which made me so happy because I miss my mom's French Onion soup.  And, my sister came over for dinner and loved this soup.  Yay!  Oh, and the cute dishes?  I found them at the Dollar Store for $2 each.  And they're oven safe.  Bonus! 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's soup recipe.  And in the meantime, please stay safe if you live in and around the 'Storm Watch' areas for Hurricane Sandy.

Ves xx

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Smells Like Fall! Vegan MoFo #20

   Hi Friends!

   It's finally Friday and I for one couldn't be happier!  This week seems to have dragged on and that's probably thanks to all of the after work commitments I've had.  Plus, they've been doing road work at my apartment complex for the past couple of weeks so we've been moved around a lot (parking-wise) depending on what side they're working on.  Last night they finished paving the rest of the parking lot ending at the front entrance.  We weren't even able to get into the complex so I parked across the street and to be honest, I didn't really mind.  Winter is coming and I'd rather it be over with now then having to go through this and snow (yikes). 

   Well, this morning I woke up to an early Christmas because when I looked outside my window everything was finished!  The lines were painted on the ground dividing all of the spaces and so were the numbers and letters indicating individual spaces.  There were even some cars parked in the spaces.  I was so excited and a little confused.  Didn't I come home late last night to a blocked entrance?  When did they finish and how did those people park already?  (I was up at 6:15am) I honestly really didn't care, though, and when I saw my 'Super' this morning I shared my enthusiasm with him.  Other tenants must have been giving him grief because he said that he wished everyone shared my attitude.  Too bad.  I love our new roadways.  Bye-bye potholes!  Oh, and lines we can actually see.  Yay!  Everything looks so new and pretty!

   But you're not reading this to hear about my parking lot, right?  You want to know what the last recipe for Apple week is!  Well, I won't keep you in suspense much longer.  I was thinking of making muffins, or cupcakes or turnovers but, I decided to make baked apples for the last recipe because I've never actually had them.  Can you believe that?  Anyway, I set out searching for some inspiration on the interweb and noticed that almost every recipe stuffs the apples with tons of sugar.  I decided to add oats to mine so that I didn't have to use as much sugar.

Here's the Recipe:

Baked Cinnamon Spice Apples
2 apples (Gala, Honeycrisp, Red Relicious)
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Filling Ingredients
2 Tbsp oats
1 Tbsp pecans, chopped
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash sea salt

1/2 tsp Earth Balance butter, divided

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Core apples and scoop out seeds.

Peel skin in a swirl-like pattern using a vegetable peeler. 
Place apples in a baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Mix filling ingredients together in a small bowl and fill the apples with the mixture.  Top each with a 1/4 tsp of Earth Balance.
I saw someone on TV swirl the apple peel once and I remember thinking it was so fancy!

Pour apple cider mixture into bottom of dish and cover with a lid or foil.
Bake 25 minutes.
Remove foil, baste apples with pan juices and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until apples are tender but not mushy.

Serve warm or room temperature.

   While these are baking it smells like fall all throughout the house.  Even if I decided that I didn't like this dish I would continue to make it just for that scent.  Luckily, I do actually like this yummy dessert so I'll be sure to make this again.  Next time I'll make sure to have some Almond Dream Vanilla ice cream around so that I can have it with the baked apple.  Yum!

Happy Friday everyone!
Ves xx

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Apple Slaw with Maple Vinaigrette - Vegan MoFo #19

   Hi Friends!

   I hope you're enjoying Apple Week because I sure am!  Like I said, I really love apples but I never think to cook with them so I'm really glad that I decided to feature them this week.  Today's recipe is a fun fresh dish that would be a perfect addition to a heavier meal.  I'm thinking of making it for Thanksgiving next month.  I'm referring to American Thanksgiving, of course.  Oh, um, if you don't already know, I'm American so I celebrate both Canadian and American Thanksgivings.  It's how I roll. ;)

Apple Slaw with Maple Vinaigrette
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and sliced into small strips
1 large apple, julienned
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup broccoli slaw, optional

Chop and julienne the ingredients and add them to a large bowl.

I used the julienne attachment to my mandoline and ended up with this:

So then I decided to rely on my mad knife skills (ha, yeah right!) and julienne the veggies and apples myself:
Much better.

Maple Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
scant 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp maple syrup
sea salt to taste

Shake all ingredients up in a jar or, process them in your blender or, whisk them in a bowl - adding the oil in slowly at the end.
   I use the vegetable stock in this recipe as a kind of filler so I don't have to add as much oil.  I thank my mom for sharing this tip with me a year or so ago.  I think she may have gotten it off the Food Network or something?  Or maybe it's her own tip?  Even so, I love the idea.  I enjoy oil in my dressings but let's be honest, most recipes and those chef's on T.V., always suggest that you add way too much.  This is a great way of enjoying the flavor that oil gives without all of the fat.

   You'll have some dressing leftover which will make a really nice vinaigrette for a green salad or as a really yummy marinade. 

   Like I said, this is a really fresh and delicious salad.  Wrap it up and let it sit for about a half hour or longer to let the ingredients marry.  The salad will taste it's best if you let it sit.  And notice how I used the word 'marry' - I've been watching way too much food T.V. lately!  Ha.  

Ves xx

Ps: sorry it was just a quicky recipe post... it's been one of those weeks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WIAW # 18, a Soup Recipe and Vegan MoFo #18 Oh, My!

Hi Friends!

This post is coming to you a little a lot late in the day and I have zero energy to be witty or clever or anything for that matter.  Today was super full with work (picture day!) and then an after work function, so I had no time for cooking let alone blogging.  Unfortunately this means that tomorrow's post will be a bit behind.  Sheesh!  I need to learn how to write 8 posts in one day!  Anyway, enough about my complaining, let's get to the good stuff!
Here's a day in the life of my eats... aka What I Ate Wednesday... aka what I ate at some point this week but, not necessarily on a Wednesday... aka what I ate to semi-cleanse from all of the really heavy meals I've been eating thanks to Thanksgiving and Birthday's... aka too many aka's!

Let's move on...

{First thing}: As always, I have a glass of water with lemon and cayenne pepper plus a probiotic or two for good measure!; {pre-breakfast}: Green Juice with celery, cucumber, romaine and lemon; COFFEE; {Breakfast}: Like most mornings I enjoyed a delicious Green Smoothie with romaine, celery, cucumber, mango and banana; {Lunch}: Salad!- mixed greens, avocado, tomatoes, chopped veggies, lemon, nooch and a touch of mustard; {Dinner}: RAW wraps with veggies and homemade hummus plus a salad; {Dessert}: Apple Pie Pudding and a coffee.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

As always, thanks to Jenn of Peas and Crayons for hosting this link-up party!

And now for the recipe...
This is what is was like all day yesterday!  I'm glad I made this soup!
Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
3 apples, sweet variety, peeled and chopped
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
pinch of sea salt
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped
a little extra olive oil for sautéeing
3 cups vegetable stock

1) Toss squash and apples with enough olive oil to coat, stir in salt and seasonings. Roast at 375 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes, stir halfway through cooking time.
2) Sauté onions in olive oil until very soft (about 5 minutes).
3) Add vegetable stock to onions, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Stir in roasted squash and apple. Mash with a potato masher or an immersion blender until desired texture is reached. Simmer a few minutes until thick and bubbly. Taste, and add salt if needed. Garnish with roasted seeds for added crunch.

Ready for the oven!

Simmering on the stove.

I love this handy blender! 

I left some chunks in my soup because I was going for a more rustic feel.  If you'd like you can always put this soup in your blender to make it super smooth.

Ready to eat!  Is it a surprise that I plated the soup over a plate of arugula?  I doubt it!

So there you have it!  WIAW and a super yummy and "fall-like" soup.

Ves xx

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apple Pie Pudding - Vegan MoFo #17

   Hi Friends!

   I hope you guys enjoyed the super simple Applesauce recipe from yesterday.  On a day like today, when it's gray and raining, that applesauce would be perfect warmed up with a cup of vanilla chai tea and maybe an oatmeal cookie fresh from the oven.  Note to self:  Never write about food when you're hungry. Anyway, I think that today's recipe would be perfect as well so let's get to it.
   I think that today's recipe would be perfect as well, so let's get to it.  I call this recipe Apple Pie Pudding but it originally started out as a smoothie.  I actually really love it thick like this and I eat it with a spoon instead of trying to slurp it up with a straw.

Apple Pie Pudding
1 cup Almond Milk
1 cup Applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp ground chia seeds

Add all of the ingredients into your blender, starting with the wet, and process until smooth (about a minute or two).

 Thanks to the chia and flax seeds, this will thicken the longer it sits.  I like to stick mine in the fridge for about 20 minutes to let it thicken up even more.  But it's delicious when enjoyed immediately, too.  Keep in mind that my applesauce is a bit thicker than the commercial applesauce that you find in the store, so adjust your ingredients accordingly.  Maybe use less of the wet ingredients and keep the dry ingredients the same.

Ves xx

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Applesauce - Vegan MoFo #16

   Hi Friends!

   I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing/productive weekend.  We sure did, and the weather we had was perfect for a fall weekend- some rain, some sun, a little chill, and then a little warmth.  Perfect!
   And because it was such a perfect Fall weekend I decided that I would play around with some apple recipes.  This week in Vegan MoFoland we're talking APPLES! 
Farmer's Market Apples

  I love anything to do with apples and my favorite kind is the Honey Crisp.  I can't get enough of it.  When my parents were in town visiting, my mom had brought some jars of Homemade Applesauce that she had made.  I'm not a huge applesauce fan but I absolutely loved hers.  So, one day we bought a bunch of apples from the farmers market and made a batch for me to have.  The process was super simple - and I have a feeling that I'll be making it a lot during the cooler months.

Read on for the recipe...

Farmer's Market Applesauce (unsweetened)
Apples! (we used about 9 or 10), *peeled and chopped
1 cup of water
A few teaspoons cinnamon, optional
*You can leave the peel on for a rustic applesauce (we did!)

Chop and peel (or not) your apples and place them in a large pot.  Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and set it on the stove to medium heat.  Add the cinnamon and the sweetener of your choice (if your making it sweet).
Cook for 20 minutes.
You may want to adjust the heat depending on your pot and the type of stove you have.  We ended up turning it down to med-low halfway through.  Check your water level every so often and give the apples a stir to ensure that they are not sticking to the bottom. 

The apples will start to soften and break down.  After about 20 minutes turn the burner off and give your apples a mash with a fork or potato masher.

While the applesauce is still hot add it to your canning jars.

How it all began:  Jars of applesauce that my mom made and brought over on her visit to share with us.
And voila!  You have yourself some rockin' applesauce!  Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when I use the applesauce in a super simple and tasty dessert drink.

Happy Monday!
Ves xx

Friday, October 19, 2012

Movie Week Round-Up - Vegan MoFo # 15

   Hi Friends!

   Well, it's the last day of my Movie Week and I thought I would do a recap.  But, not just any recap!  As I've only recommended 4 movies this week, I figured that you probably don't need a reminder.  So, here's a round-up of all the documentaries that I've recommended on my blog.

1.  Food Matters

2.  Hungry For Change

3.  Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

4.  Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

5.  The World According to Monsanto
I haven't actually recommended or seen this one but I really want to.  Here's a clip for you guys to check out and decide for yourselves if you want to watch it:

   I think you can watch this movie straight from YouTube so I may just do that this weekend if I have some time.

   If you have nothing exciting planned this weekend then why not curl up and watch one of these documentaries - or any of the ones from this week?  Which ever one you choose, it won't disappoint.  I promise.
TGIF everyone!

Ves xx

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Crazy Sexy and it's Vegan MoFo # 14!

Hello All!

   I hope you enjoyed yesterday's documentary suggestion.  I've seen Forks Over Knives a couple of times and it doesn't get old.  The film follows Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn through their separate journeys of research, studies and life-changing discoveries.  Dr. Campbell is best known for his work on the China Study which is the most comprehensive large study of nutrition ever conducted, spanning over 20 years.  And Dr. Esselstyn is a top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.  Through their studies each of them came to the same startling conclusion: degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet.  WOW.  Doesn't that make you want to eat your veggies?
   Well if that's not enough, I have two great suggestions for you today.

   The first one follows Kris Carr, who is diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer, while she looks for alternative and holistic treatments.  This movie is funny, moving, uplifting and reminds us to really start living.
Crazy Sexy Cancer is more than a thought provoking film, it’s an attitude! It’s about rising to the challenge of life and turning lemons into champagne.
   Here's a little clip from Crazy Sexy Cancer:

   The second movie is a classic.  Maybe not a classic like Gone With the Wind but it's up there!  Ha.  Okay, I'm joking, but I really do love this film and I think everyone should watch it - more than once!
Super Size Me follows filmmaker Morgan Spurlock on a 30 day journey in which he only eats McDonald's food.  It documents the toll this takes on his health, not only in terms of weight gain but also what this food does to his cholesterol, his liver and his physical and psychological well being. 

   Check out a clip from the movie:

Grab some Kale chips and enjoy the show!

Ves xx

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WIAW # 17 - Birthday Eats and Vegan MoFo # 13

   Hi Friends!

Check out my birthday eats for WIAW, and another awesome documentary for this weeks Vegan MoFo...

{Chocolate Shake - Almond Milk, spinach, raw cacao powder, frozen banana, a few frozen strawberries}
For starters, I treated myself to a Chocolate "Ice Cream" Shake for breakfast.  I made one for my step-dad as well except that I didn't add spinach to his.  Initially he said it tasted only "okay", but after a few minutes you could hear him slurping the last bits of Shake.  I think he liked it!
{Coffee and Cake}
With my morning coffee I had some 'cake scraps' that my mom had cut away while making my b-day cake.  Yummy!
{Roasted Veggies}
I wanted homemade pizza as my b-day dinner so we roasted some veggies for toppings.  I nibbled on these throughout the afternoon even though they were supposed to be for dinner.  Ha!
{Pink Pinot Grigio}
Wine in my favorite color and a fancy glass... Yum! 
{Pizza Toppings}
The pizza toppings: roasted yellow squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red onions, red peppers, and mushrooms and fresh homemade pizza sauce.
{My Pizza}
My Pizza: sauce, sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers.
{With Cheese}
With Daiya Mozzarella cheese
{Ready to Eat}
Fresh from the oven... so yummy!
{Me with my Godson}
And let's not forget the birthday cake!
{The Cake!}
It was super delicious.  Thanks mom!

Birthday Fun...

My mom and I painted some pumpkins to have as decorations.  Check it out...

And thanks to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting this fun foodie link-up party!

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

As for today's documentary...

I highly recommend Fork's Over Knives.  Have you watched this yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Check out this clip:

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Ves xx

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