30 November 2011

homecoming breakfast

so the road-weary husband has finally made it home after a month-long tour with his band.  last night marked their return to town with a sold-out show at a fabulous little venue in town run by a friend of ours.  candlelight, friends & cold blasts of winter air every time the door was opened.  

{friends, gathered}
{set list by candlelight}

it was a great night.  and a late night.  today we first nursed our mild headaches with a shot of apple cider vinegar followed by a green smoothie.  and then we got to the good stuff, consisting of a round of vegan pumpkin french toast and strong coffee.  thanks to kaitlyn for the delicious recipe.

{strong coffee + pumpkin french toast}

{the good stuff}

if you find yourself with 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree at the end of a recipe {perhaps these scones?}, do yourself a favour, soak some cashews and make this for breakfast.  seriously, why haven't i thought of cashews for a french toast batter yet?   mmmm...

{simple + amazing}

full disclosure: i slathered earth balance margarine all over my french toast after the photo shoot.  it was awesome. 

25 November 2011

friday five feature

just a quick little post today!

i was super duper honoured when the lovely robin of the hungry birdie asked me to be a part of her "friday five" series - and of course, i said yes!  it's an awesome little way to get a little snippet of some great vegans out there from all walks of life.  thank you so much to robin for including me! 

you can read my friday five here.

{moi, feasting at fressen}

have a happy weekend everyone!


22 November 2011

pumpkin cheesecake

so, this week is thanksgiving for my friends to the south.  i'm sure most of you have your t-giving dinner menu in order, but in case you're still scrambling for a dessert, i thought i'd share the recipe i used for my canadian thanksgiving feast back in october.

i'm also sharing it because i'm pretty sure i promised the recipe weeks ago and i haven't come through yet.  oops!  so without further ado, here it is!  

{pumpkin cheesecake}

vegan pumpkin cheesecake  
based on the banana chocolate galaxy cheesecake from vegan pie in the sky

for the crust:
2-3 cups vegan graham crumbs {depending on how thick of a crust you want}
3-4 tbsp melted earth balance

mix the cooking crumbs & melted earth balance and press into a 9 or 10 inch springform pan.  bake for 8-10 minutes at 350f.  remove from the oven & set aside while you prepare the filling.

for the cake:

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 4 hours to overnight {soaking is essential as it makes the cashews soft and creamy}
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 pkg of firm or extra firm silken tofu {like mori-nu}
1/2 tub vegan cream cheese {about 1/2 cup}
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 tbsp melted virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp organic corn starch
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

drain the cashews and place them in a food processor and blend them until somewhat smooth.  add the tofu and blend again until the cashews are completely broken down and incorporated to make a silky smooth texture.  add in all of the remaining ingredients and blend well until everything is incorporated and smooth.  taste the filling and adjust if you need to with more spices/sugar/lemon to get your perfect "tang" - this is your cheesecake so make it how you like it!

pour this filling on top of the par-baked crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  bake it at 350f for 45-50 minutes until you can see that it's firmed up.  the top will puff out a bit and the edges will have started to brown (but this might be hard to see though because of the pumpkin coloured cake).  remove your cheesecake from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes, then place it in the fridge to cool completely (a good few hours) prior to cutting. 

this was so light and tangy and it had an amazing creamy smooth texture going on.  who says you need dairy for cheesecake?!

{not just for thanksgiving}

yum.  i loved it then and love it still.  and in my opinion, this pumpkin cheesecake needn't be reserved for only thanksgiving.  this can be an anytime cheesecake.

also, as you may have noticed i've not been posting like crazy lately - that's mainly because my main squeeze m is on tour right now with his band and he's got our camera along for the ride!  {hey west-coast readers, shows this week include vancouver, edmonton & regina!}

i do have a borrowed stand-in while he's away, but it's a lot of work getting to know a new camera & so far i'm not having a ton of luck with it.  but the good news is that m will be home in less than a week!  which is really great because i miss him quite a lot.  and i'm kinda missing the camera too.   i also miss having m here him oohing & ahhing over my kitchen creations.  he's really great that way :) 

{wahoo for a recipe index}

speaking of missing, did you catch my weekend facebook update?  i've added a new recipe index page!  don't miss it!  {i don't know how to link up the photo, but you can click on the caption below it!}

17 November 2011

apple cider tonic for cold & flu season

i'm lucky to have a pretty great immune system and i rarely fall ill with a cold or flu bug that gets the better of me.  {i know you can't see me but for the record, i'm knocking on wood something fierce right now!}

last year i left my gig as a supply teacher for a contract at our local food co-op.  most of my job was behind the scenes in marketing & education, but saturdays were some of my favourite work days because that was my one day of the week that i got to spend working in the store.  i love talking food {slight understatement?} and saturdays i had many a great conversation, talking food and food systems with the lovely shoppers.  one of my saturday regulars was a woman named suzanne.  suzanne is a tiny little french lady in her 70s, probably a few inches shy of 5', who walks everywhere and is vegetarian.  we used to have lovely chats about food and health where i'd get to practice my french and she'd often tell me stories about various Buddhist temples & ashrams she'd visited.

one day last winter, when i mentioned that m had a cold, she told me about this tonic of sorts that would keep me from coming down with it and would keep me healthy through the season.  she scribbled the recipe down on a scrap of paper and tucked it in my pocket.  i went home and made the tonic and drank it religiously all winter.  and you know what?  i didn't get sick.  not once.  whether it was the tonic or not, i can't be sure, but i'll tell you one thing.  i've got a jar of it on my window sill and i've started my daily regime again this year.

{secret serum}

and today i'm going to share that recipe with you too!

immunity tonic
1/2 cup organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup warm water
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper {i use 1/2 tsp but that makes it a little spicy!}

place all ingredients in a mason jar, tighten the lid, and shake shake shake!  take a big gulp {about 2 tablespoons worth} morning and night {shaking first} to ward off seasonal illness.  make more as needed.

what is apple cider vinegar? well..... it comes from apples, which are crushed to release their juices.  those juices ferment and turn into alcohol and from there it's fermented for a second time to turn the booze into vinegar!  to reap the health benefits from ACV, it's crucial that you purchase a raw (aka unpasteurized) cider vinegar, and preferably, organic.  the most popular ACV seems to be bragg's {also known for their liquid aminos}, but my vinegar of choice is filsinger's which is produced here in ontario by a small company that uses local, certified organic apples, cured in oak barrels.


ACV isn't just for drinking though, here are the 3 other ways that i use it in my daily life:

{1} kitchen
i use apple cider vinegar whenever i bake a cake or cupcakes.  i use 1 tablespoon in a cup of non-dairy milk to curdle it, which mimics buttermilk giving me a great 'crumb'.

{2} hair
after reading there's lead in your lipstick last year, i revamped a lot of my beauty routines and i discovered that ACV makes an amazing hair conditioner!  it leaves my hair shiny and tangle-free.  i use about 3 tablespoons worth, massaging it into clean hair, combing my fingers through and then rinsing.  {and because i know your wondering about the smell, it rinses out in the shower and you'd never know to smell my hair!}

{3} face
i've started using apple cider vinegar as my morning facial cleanser after seeing the pure 2 raw girls suggest it.  i'm a pretty big fan of my thayer's witch hazel but i decided to give the vinegar a try.  i found it far too potent to use at night around my eyes so i'm sticking with the witch hazel at night because it's very gentle and a great make-up remover at the end of the day.  but for the morning i just tip the bottle over onto a clean organic cotton pad and then swipe it over my face, avoiding my eyes.  just remember to take a good, deep breath before doing this - it makes you choke a bit otherwise, hahaha. but really.  i'm not joking.  hold your breath.

what are your tips & tricks to stay healthy over the winter season?

16 November 2011

cacao & PB smoothie

sometimes a gal just needs a bit of chocolate.

in the morning.  first thing out of bed.  {pms anyone??}

{cacao & pb smoothie}

this is how i started my day today, with a thick, chocolatey smoothie.  so rich, so filling & so good!  this makes for an eat-it-with-a-spoon smoothie.  if you like yours to be drinkable, you can up the non-dairy milk to a full cup.

cacao & PB smoothie
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup non-dairy milk {i used unsweetened vanilla almond milk}
2.5 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter
1 tsp maca
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp agave nectar *optional 
1 tbsp raw cacao nibs

combine all the ingredients except for the cacao nibs in a blender and hit go.  do a little stretch while the blender does it's job.  top with cacao nibs.  then eat the chocolate fruits of your labour.

{chocolate breakfast}

did you know that 1 serving of raw cacao powder has 4g of dietary fibre, 3g of protein and 8% of the daily RDI for iron?  not bad for chocolate!  additionally, this smoothie boasts a punch from the chia seeds,  maca root powder, fortified almond milk, protein-rich peanut butter....everything in it is great!

i just ate chocolate for breakfast.

today is going to be a good day.

submitted to wellness weekend at diet, dessert and dogs

15 November 2011

testing, testing 1,2,3

those of you who keep up with me on facebook & twitter have probably already caught on to this, but i've been doing a little testing in my kitchen lately.  i am extremely excited, honoured, giddy & all in all geeked out to be testing recipes for a forthcoming cookbook from  terry hope romero.    eeek!  so fun!

anywho, so i've been trying out some recipes and i wanted to share a couple photos of my favourites so far.

these shanghai-style kale dumplings were out of this world!  i love dumplings but rarely do i get to eat them around here because it's tough finding egg-free wrappers.  but when i came across some a couple weeks ago i stocked up.  this was also my first time cooking with yu-choy {chinese kale} & 5-spice.  i really, really, loved these and am looking forward to making them again and again.  oh, and on top?  that's a drizzle of a delicious sesame sauce.  yum.

{shanghai-style dumplings}

{so good}

another hit was this millet mango peanut salad.  this dish is gorgeous and just pops with colour and bright bursts of flavour.  it's sort of like an african twist on a tabouleh.  millet is a newish grain in our house and i loved it this way.  this would make a perfect potluck dish, or a picnic salad.

{millet mango peanut salad}

{millet, towering}

and of course i baked up a dessert.  {and really, how could i not try this recipe out knowing that it's coming from the co-author of vegan pie in the sky?!} 

this tenacious tart tatin {french caramelized apple tart} was the perfect ending to an autumn sunday family dinner.  soft, caramelized granny smith apples were piled high atop of the most amazing, rich & flaky olive oil shortbread crust.  that's right, olive oil shortbread.  i didn't even know such a glorious thing existed!  but i do now.  and there's no going back.

{tart tatin}

{autumnal apple pie}

13 November 2011

dilly homefries & lentil salad

happy monday lovelies! 
{or happy sunday night if you're still up and catching up on your blog reading like i am!}

today i'm sharing a super yummy meal that we enjoyed a couple weeks ago, consisting of some dilly homefries and then a quick, lovely lentil salad.

{lentil cred.}

mmm, i do love lentils and frankly i don't think they get enough salad cred.  yes, chickpea salads rock.  and black bean salads are pretty awesome too, especially with avocado and garden-fresh tomatoes.  but lentils are superstars too!  i gave them some love in the salad and you should give them some love too.

{lentil salad & dilly homefries}

lovely lentil salad
makes 2-4 servings, depending on size
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
2 carrots
1/4 cup of green olives
fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
fresh squeezed lemon
sea salt & fresh pepper to taste

scrub the carrots & chop them into whatever size and shape you like {diced, grated, julienned, etc}.  pit the olives and slice them up.  chiffonade or mince the basil.  toss everything together in a bowl and dress to taste with lemon & olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of black pepper.

dilly homefries inspired by mama pea's dill pickle fries
potatoes{i used 4 big yellow potatoes from my csa}
2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp a vegetable oil {i used sunflower}

i like a lot of salt.  and vinegar.  and garlic and dill too.  you can probably still get yummy fries with half measures but the more the merrier in my books.  peel and cut the potatoes into wedges, toss with everything to coat and bake in a single layer on a cookie sheet for about 25-30 minutes at 400f.

{lentil love}


a quick post for a quick meal.  more from me this week.  promise.  xo.

09 November 2011

pumpkin scones

do you ever wish that the seasonal pumpkin scones at starbucks were vegan?  i do sometimes.  i had my fair share of these in my years prior to adopting a vegan diet, and although i know their nutritional content is nothing to write home about, i do remember them being quite tasty.  check out the ingredient listing though - it's a mile long.

hmm, on second thought, maybe i'm just fine with the fact that they're not vegan. 
i'll take my fresh small batch homemade vegan version, thank you very much!

{vegan pumpkin scones}

last night i fell asleep thinking about scones.  this morning i woke up and set to it.  25 minutes later i had pumpkin scones fresh from the oven.

pumpkin scones
makes 1 dozen
1 cup organic all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cup cold earth balance margarine
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp non-dairy milk {i used vanilla soy}
5 tbsp brown sugar

preheat the oven to 400f.  in a large bowl sift together all of the dry ingredients.  using a pastry cutter {or 2 forks} cut the cold earth balance into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  in another bowl, mix the pumpkin, milk & sugar.  add this to the flour bowl and mix to combine.  you'll end up with a fairly dry dough.  {if it really doesn't come together you can add some water or more milk a teaspoon at a time.} 

turn this out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 equal balls.  flatten each one into a round disk that's about 6 inches across and 1/2 inch thick.  using a sharp knife, cut each disk into quarters and place them on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet.  bake for 15-16 minutes.  remove from the oven, allow the scones to cool and then drizzle them with spiced glaze.

spiced glaze
5 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
pinch cloves
1 tbsp non-dairy milk

mix everything together in a small bowl and drizzle onto the scones either with a spoon, or from a plastic bag with the tip cut off.

{scones, glazed}
{scones, waiting}

these are light and flaky and have a nice subtle pumpkin flavour, but the warm spices in the glaze put it over the top.  perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea. 

or whatever time it is right now.

{yes please}

oh my scone, these are good.  and just like the real deal at starbucks.  only better.

07 November 2011

pumpkin power smoothie

i sort of feel like i can conquer the world today.  i don't know if it's the sunshine, the lingering extra hour of sleep from daylight's saving  or my awesome trail run yesterday with friends.  it's probably a little bit of all of these things.  but the cherry on top is this pumpkin power smoothie.  filling, nourishing, full of superfoods and delicious to boot.

{pumpkin power smoothie}

pumpkin power smoothie
makes enough for 2 modest servings or 1 giant power serving
1 frozen banana
3 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 tsp nub of fresh ginger
1-2 tsp maca root powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
splash of pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup {optional}

place all ingredients in your blender and power it up!

you can read a quick description of chia seeds in my pantry.  i don't have maca listed there yet {don't worry, it's on my list of things to do today once i conquer the world}, but until then you can find some information on maca here.

here are some other yummy pumpkin-y smoothies that i'm looking forward to trying:

i'm loving me some pumpkin right now, especially since i missed going crazy with it during october because of my vegan mofo theme.  what about you?

have you jumped on the pumpkin train yet this autumn?  are you still loving it or getting a bit tired of all?

submitted to wellness weekends at diet, dessert and dogs

04 November 2011

quinoa bowl & miso gravy

happy friday everyone!  wow, i've been trying to spit this post out all day it seems!  i thought since it's been such a glorious day {from what i can tell given that i've been only looking out through the record shop windows} that it might be a quiet one, but i've been a busy gal all day.  no complaints here since i did manage to squeeze in some time catching up on a few blog reads, shared a pot of lavender tea with a friend who dropped by and of course i stopped for lunch.  on the menu?  a big, warm, quinoa bowl!

{quinoa bowl}

this is actually the same thing i ate for dinner last night, a rarity if you know me well.  {i usually have an aversion to eating the same thing 2 days in a row.}  since i was dealing with leftovers, all i had to do was re-heat everything and dress up the bowl.  easy peasy.  this meal doesn't really take more than about 35-40 minutes to put together from scratch if you pop the tofu & vegetables in the oven first, then put the quinoa on the stove (or use your rice maker!) and cook the gravy.

quinoa bowl with brussel sprouts, squash, tofu & miso gravy
serves 2-4 depending on serving size or if there's a salad to pair with it
for the quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a pot.  cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.   remove lid, stir, recover and allow to rest off the heat for another 5-10 minutes.  {sometimes i add salt to the water but when i know there will be leftovers, i leave the salt out - that way i have the option of using it for a sweet breakfast porridge.}

for the veggies
brussel sprouts
1 small squash {i used an acorn}
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

wash the brussel sprouts & peel and cube the squash.  {for the record, this is no easy feat with acorn squash.  but in my opinion, worth a bit of work for maximum roasting surface area.} cut any large sprouts in half {also known as green balls in these here parts}.  toss the veggies with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt.  spread them out on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes at 350f, stirring them up once or twice throughout cooking time.

for the tofu
1/2 package organic extra firm tofu
marinade of your choice {i used a mexican achiote sauce i had in the cupboard}

press the water out of the tofu in a tea towel, slice it up and drench it in the sauce of your choice.  place it in a baking dish and place it in the oven to cook at 350f for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.

for the miso gravy
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast*
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 2/3 cup water
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp miso paste {i used white miso}

in a small saucepan, whisk the flour, nutritional yeast, salt & garlic over medium heat for a couple minutes.  slowly add in the water, stirring all the time with a whisk.  the mixture will be quite thin, but will thicken up as it cooks.  bring the gravy to gentle boil, stirring frequently.  as the sauce begins to thicken, reduce the heat to low (even minimum) and add in the dijon & miso.  taste, and adjust seasoning as you see fit.

*this is not the same thing as brewer's yeast!  check out my pantry for more on nutritional yeast.

once all of the components are ready, serve some quinoa into bowls and pile them up with toppings!  i threw on some raw carrot too.


bowls like this are so great and all you need is a grain, some veg, some protein and a sauce.  they're one of my favourite kinds of meals - i love piling them high with goodies and then drenching them with a savoury sauce. 

{love those little green balls!}

no quinoa in the cupboard?  make rice!  not into brussel sprouts squash?  how about zucchini and mushrooms!  you don't dig miso gravy?  try spicy peanut sauce!

{miso goodness}

happy weekend everyone!


submitted to wellness weekend at diet, dessert and dogs

02 November 2011

spiced oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies

yesterday i had a bunch of time to myself and as usual decided to spend a chunk of it baking.  we still had a few of these cupcakes left and we didn't really need anything else ourselves, so if i was going to bake i had to figure out who i could gift it to.  m came up with the idea of bringing any kitchen successes downtown to memorial park where a faithful few are set up for the occupy sudbury protest.  so that is where these treats ended up.

on a cool rainy day, a nice bowl of spiced oatmeal warms the body and soothes the mind but i wanted to bake and share and  cookies can be shared further than a bowl of oatmeal.  so spiced oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies it would be.

{world vegan day baketivism}
these cookies are my perfect oatmeal cookie.  if you get the timing right, they cool to have a great crispy crust and are still chewy in the middle.

spiced oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies
makes 2 dozen
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
2 tbsp earth balance vegan margarine, softened
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 flax egg*
3 tbsp almond milk {or other non-dairy milk}
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup rolled oats {i used my favourite local oats from LoonSong}
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chunks or chips

preheat the oven to 375f.  in a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder & soda, salt and spices and set aside.  in a large bowl cream together the margarine & sugars.  add the flax egg, non-dairy milk and vanilla and mix well.  mix in the dry ingredients and then fold in the oats and chocolate.

{cookie dough, rolled}

{waiting to be baked}

wet your hands and roll the dough into balls of about a tablespoon each {the water will help the dough from sticking to your hands}.  place the balls on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet a few inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes.  don't flatten the balls, they'll spread out enough as they cook.

to get the crispy shell and chewy middle you have to catch the cookies and take them out of the oven when the tops are dull-looking but before they've started to brown.  for my oven it's right at the 11 minute mark.

then either pack them up to gift or gobble them up with friends.

* haven't tried flax eggs yet?  they're a great egg replacement in baking.  for one flax egg, mix 1 tbsp of ground flax seed with 3 tbsp hot water.  allow to sit for 2 minutes and your flax egg is ready!  it will become thick and a bit gelatinous and will do the job of an egg (binding) as it cooks.  flax eggs are great for cookies, bars, muffins, pancakes, etc.

{cookies, cooling}

in other news, i'm feeling great today after participating in a 6k fun-run on the cross country ski trails under the lights last night!  it was a small group of pretty avid {and speedy!} runners out, and i think i was the last to finish, but with a time of 39 minutes flat i was happy.  at one point, about 4k in i think, my mind was wandering and i felt like i tensed up.  so i forced myself to smile.  at first it was a gentle turn up at the corner of my mouth, but then it turned into a big toothy grin.  and you know what?  it totally helped me relax and focus and on enjoying the fact that i was out running.  

the last 2k were blissful.  speed will come with time and some hard work {i hope}, but for now i'm just happy that my feet carried me through.  my kick-ass running mix helped too.