Cookies and Ice Cream

Of course ice cream can be vegan (while being super simple and cheap)! A lot of the vegan ice creams I have seen in stores have been quite expensive, usually using tofu or coconut as the “cream”. I have found a very simple recipe from following Vegucated on Facebook, and lately they have been posting a lot of recipes for vegan ice cream, including this site. I plan on trying some of these recipes out, as I have heard coconut ice cream is fantastic. But, for now, here is a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Ingredients
2 bananas
1 tbsp peanut butter (I use soy nut butter because of my allergy)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

A few hours before I wanted to eat the ice cream, I pealed the bananas and put them in the freezer. Once the bananas were frozen, I placed all the ingredients in a food processor and blended until really smooth. I scooped the ice cream into a container and froze it for about an hour, until the ice cream was scoopable. TaDa!

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A few weeks ago I made vegan cookies that went really well with this ice cream, but were also great on their own. Here is a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies, from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Ingredients
1 cup cake and pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed pecans
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup oil (I used grape seed oil)
1/4 cup dried cherries

I combined all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the chocolate chips and pecans. In a separate bowl I mixed together the maple syrup, extracts, oil, and cherries, then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Then, I scooped the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making about 12 cookies, and flattened each cookie slightly. The cookies were baked for 11 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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So here is a cookies and ice cream combo that is delicious, nutritious, and simple. While the cookies are definitely less “healthy” than the ice cream, they sure add a yummy crunch to this cream-less ice cream.

Pizza: Vegan Style

After eating vegan pizza at Gratitude Cafe a few weeks ago, I finally found the secret to making vegan pizza: nutritional yeast. I think some people are hesitant to go vegan because they think they will have to give up their favorite dishes, but it seems as though there are substitutes for everything, and they are usually packed with nutrition. Don’t get me wrong – lately I have been really hankering for an egg salad sandwich. Being vegan is not easy, but it is good to know that one must not be deprived of something as delicious as pizza. 

Pizza is one of my specialties, and what I love about it is that you can throw pretty much anything on it, and as long as you remember to mix the dough a couple hours before dinner time, it is pretty simple. When I was a cheese-buying omnivore, the pizza I made used almost an entire brick of cheese, which can be expensive and quite fattening. This recipe uses entirely plant-based products, so it is high in vitamins, fiber, and protein (nutritional yeast is a complete protein). 

Ingredients for the Dough
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp olive oil
dash of salt

Ingredients for the Toppings
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 spaghetti squash
1-2 carrots shredded
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp basil, fresh or dried
salt and pepper

I carefully stirred the yeast into the warm water and let it rest for ten minutes. In a large bowl  I combined the flour, salt, and oil. With a wooden spoon I combined the wet ingredients to the dry until combined, formed the dough into a ball, and placed it back in the bowl (slightly coating it in oil all around), covered with a tea towel. The dough must rise for at least an hour, but two hours is the most ideal. 

Once the dough rose, I kneaded the dough for about five minutes, then divided it in two and rolled out each piece into the shape of my pan. This time I used two different methods to bake the pizza: a pizza stone for one pizza (to be baked in the oven), and tinfoil for the other (to be baked on the BBQ). In the past I have just put the pizzas on a cookie sheet. No matter what, I always lightly oil and flour the baking surface to avoid sticking; however, treatment of the pizza stone is different. I allowed the stone to heat up with the oven, then lightly floured it when I was ready to assemble the pizza. 

To assemble the pizza, I first sauteed the onion, peppers, and garlic with a little bit of oil, then added the basil, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, Tom BBQed the spaghetti squash in quarters until it was tender, and in a bowl I mixed the shredded carrot, spaghetti squash and nutritional yeast (this is the cheese part!). I spread the tomato sauce onto each pizza, then layered the sauteed veggies, followed by the “cheese”. I also sprinkled some more nutritional yeast to top off the pizzas, and added arugula in the last minute of baking. 

Each pizza baked at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. It was amazing to me that each pizza tasted different because of the way they were baked. Next time I will use the pizza stone on the BBQ now that I know how well the BBQ method works. 

This recipe is DELICIOUS. No more will I buy fake-tasting vegan cheese now that I have discovered nutritional yeast! 

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Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has been my favorite food pretty much since I was able to eat solid food. As such, I was pretty excited to try making a vegan version of my favorite dish. One of the people I am living with right now has been vegan for two years, and has a cookbook called Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. I decided to make the recipe called “Mac-oh-geez”.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (don’t use much more than that)
Sauce:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (I used soy milk)
3/4 cups cashews
1/2 cups almonds
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
2 tsp arrowroot powder (my vegan housemate had this in her pantry and let me use it, but I think cornstarch would work too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil (I used grape seed oil)

Bread Crumb Topping:
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oil

I preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly greased an 8 by 12 inch baking dish.

I cooked the pasta in slightly salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. It is important to remember that the pasta will keep cooking in the oven.

I put all the sauce ingredients in a blender, but reserved 1 cup of the soy milk. I blended the mixture until smooth, then added  the rest of the soy milk and blended it some more.

I put the cooked noodles into the prepared baking dish, and poured the sauce on top. It looked very saucy, but it really thickened up in the oven.

I mixed the bread crumbs and oil together and poured on top of the casserole, then covered it in tinfoil and baked it for 17 minutes. Then, I removed the tinfoil and baked it for another 7 minutes, until the top started to turn golden brown.

Overall, the mac and cheese looked exactly like the casserole I make with cheese, butter, and milk, and it tasted similar, but of course, not bang on. There was a slight sweetness to it that I am trying to understand; maybe the soy milk is responsible for this, even though it was unsweetened. But, with a little bit of pepper on top, and this dish can definitely satisfy the mac and cheese craving.

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Funny side note: with my peanut allergy, it can be very difficult to find nuts that were not processed on the same equipment as peanuts. Usually pistachios are easy to find in the grocery store, but not much else. Thankfully, Costco sells a brand called Kirkland that has many different options that are not processed with peanuts. I was able to buy a bag of almonds, but the bag of cashews had the “may contain” label on it. However, I found a bag of mixed nuts and fruit that were safe and had cashews in it! So, for this mac and cheese recipe, I picked out the cashews one by one. Yes, these are the lengths I will go to to try out a new recipe.

Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Most of my free time these days has been dedicated to climbing, so I haven’t been able to focus much on  cooking for my blog; however, I am now getting more comfortable with lead climbing, getting to the point of actually sending 5.10bs on lead, and am working a lot on improving my technique on overhang. So far so good, but this means that rather than spending an evening trying out new recipes for dinner, Tom and I are making a lot of quick meals to get out the door. That being said, we’ve made a lot of delicious tofu scrambles (with chickpeas and taco seasoning), pasta sauces, curries, pizza, veggie burgers, and pad thai – all vegan.

Since I am not baking at work everyday, I am getting a lot of urges to bake. This week I decided to use some 0f the ripe rhubarb growing in the backyard to make vegan strawberry rhubarb muffins (heavy on the rhubarb, since it was the free ingredient). This recipe was inspired by one that I found online.

Ingredients

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used about 3/4 the amount of sugar to try and make the muffins more healthy)
1/4 cup oil (I used grape seed oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup diced strawberries (you can definitely play on the ratio of fruit in this recipe – I almost used apples too.  I guess just make sure the fruit equals 2 1/2 cups. I’m thinking of using mango instead of strawberries next time!)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
(1/2 tsp salt – I didn’t add this, but I will the next time I use this recipe)

I started by putting the vinegar into the soy milk to curdle it (waiting a few minutes for this to happen). Then, I added the vanilla, sugars, and oil to the liquid.

In a separate bowl I put all the dry ingredients, then added the fruit to coat them well with flour. Finally, I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. The batter seemed thick, but this is normal.

I scooped the batter into a  greased muffin pan, and baked them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean. This recipe made 12 muffins.

Completely vegan!

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Tonight Tom and I tried a vegan restaurant called Gratitude Cafe, in an area called Kensington. We had a delicious and filling meal: raw vegan sushi hand rolls, followed by vegan pizza, finishing with a vegan chocolate mousse cake. I was very impressed with the quick service and the delicious food. I will definitely be going back there!