Sunday, March 30, 2014

Graham Cracker Bar

I made a graham cracker bar for dessert for my family, and they all loved it!  G said it wasn't mustache-friendly, but that didn't stop him from chowing down.  I made this once before, but it was a few years ago.  The response was so positive, we'll have to do this again sooner rather than later.  You can look for Nabisco Original graham crackers for a vegan choice, or my store (Raley's) has their own chocolate graham, which is vegan.  Either way, everyone got to top their crackers just the way they wanted them, and it was fun to boot!

 Graham Cracker Bar:  Chocolate graham crackers (Raley's brand), homemade chocolate and vanilla frostings, vegan chocolate chips, two type of sugar crystals and white sprinkles, shredded sweetened coconut, bananas and strawberries.  The crackers had corn syrup, and the pink sugar crystals had coloring; other than that everything else was natural and free of colors and artificial flavors.

Here are my two crackers and my quota of sweetness for a month!  On the left, a cracker is smothered with chocolate frosting and has bananas and strawberries and white sprinkles.  On the right, a cracker is smothered with vanilla frosting and has coconut, chocolate chips and more white sprinkles.  Flossing is a must to get rid of those sugar bugs!

Graham Cracker Bar

Ingredients:

Vegan Graham Crackers
Various toppings - We used: 
Homemade chocolate frosting
Homemade vanilla frosting
Vegan chocolate chips
Pink sugar crystals
Blue sugar crystals
White non-pareil sprinkles
Shredded, sweetened coconut
Chopped bananas
Chopped strawberries

Directions:

Lay everything out in a fun, accessible way.  Grab a cracker, and get going!  Feeds five hungry vegans in this house!  Yum.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells

This is a fun way to change up a tofu dinner.  With barbecue sauce and a couple of vegetables, your family can have a complete meal served over brown rice.  I usually call scallions green onions, but I wanted to fancy them up, since they're in the title.  As far as the barbecue sauce, I just recommend a natural one, free of yucky ingredients.  I bought mine at the 99 cent store!  Enjoy this simple meal!


BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
3 - 14 oz. pkgs. water-packed, extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 red bell pepper, julienned into 1 and 1/2 inch to 2 inch strips
3 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 and 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

Brown rice made according to package directions

Directions:

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until somewhat browned.  Turn heat down to medium, if tofu is cooking too quickly.  When tofu is browned, make sure heat is at medium, and add the scallions, red bell pepper, and sauce.  Cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve over brown rice.  Simple and yummy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Banana-Flax French Toast

This latest recipe is an alternative to my existing French Toast recipe.  Both are yummy, and while the first one offers the health benefits of nutritional yeast flakes (maybe I should put that in its title!), this one offers flax seed.  Good for you French toast?  You betcha!  See below for the easy to make batter.


Banana-Flax French Toast

Ingredients:

14-16 thick slices of your favorite bread
2 cups soy milk
1 banana, pureed or mashed well
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. ground flax seed

Canola oil for frying

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, banana, cinnamon and flax seed.  You really don't want any large lumps of banana, so make sure it's mashed well before whisking.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When hot, dredge bread slices into the batter and add to the pan.  Cook on each side three to five minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Repeat with the oil until the batter is used up.  Serve with your favorite syrup.  Good!  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Any extras can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Snowy Bananas and Strawberries

Here is a very simple salad to welcome those warmer days, and one in which we can also reap the sweet harvest of strawberries already at our Farmer's Markets.  Enjoy!


Snowy Bananas and Strawberries

Ingredients:

3 bananas, sliced into rings
3 cups of coarsely chopped, fresh strawberries
1 cup of shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions:

Toss all the ingredients together right before serving.  Enjoy right away.  Feeds five hungry vegans.  So satisfying!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dedicated to Charlene


This has been a hard for year for us and our kitties so far.  We lost sweet Charlene on Friday morning.  We all could feel she had only a few hours left when we loved on her late Thursday night.  GR took her to bed with her, and when she woke up at five, she could tell that Charlene was gone.  I was awake and in the living room shortly after that and saw the two of them snuggled together on the recliner.  GR had been calling Charlene her bro, and so SR gave her Barney Stinson's Bro code on GR's birthday .  GR had read the first half of the book to Charlene that day, and on Friday morning she read her the second half.  It touched my mother-heart, and not only did I cry for Charlene, but I cried for the loss my children would have.  In a few minutes I woke up SR and JK, and we all said our last good-byes to her.  G was already at work.

Charlene and a large male cat that G and I called her brother showed up on our lawn about seventeen years ago and never left.  We named her brother Chuck, and he was definitely her protector.  She has always been docile and timid, and so they were the perfect pair.  We used to have an orange tabby that we had tamed from being feral, and we thought their resemblances were enough that they could have been his offspring.  They were inside and outside at first, but G (and GR) are allergic to cats, so eventually they became outside-only cats.  One day Chuck was under one of our bushes, dead, and we have no idea why, but poisoning came to mind.  Shortly after that, Sparkly showed up, and the ladies grew old together.  Whereas Sparkly never liked the indoors, Charlene was most grateful a few years ago, when she was brought back inside permanently.  G and GR are still allergic, but everyone could see that she loved being indoors.  (Now, G has completely given up, and so Cleopatra and Dennis are luxuriating indoors.)  She adjusted quickly to the dogs and quickly became litter-box trained.  She would pick a favorite spot and not move from it for months, except for necessities.  Then, she would find a new spot.  Lately, it's been in GR's and JK's room.  She is buried next to Sparkly in our garden; JK added a toy, like he did with Sparkly, and GR put in a copy of the Bro Code's cover. SR commented to me yesterday that all her childhood pets, the ones that she had when she was little, are all gone now.  I thought of that too, and it saddened both of us.  We humans are sure lucky when we have such wonderful non-human companions.  See below for some of the pictures taken of Charlene this year.

Here's she's sharing Mindy's rump with Dennis.  Yes, Dennis - I'll get to that in another post.

This time they are sharing Abby.

Here GR has made aluminum foil protective head gear for her and her bro to keep the government from controlling them and finding out their thoughts!  See, GR even made Charlene her very own ear holes in her hat.

She was definitely a sweetie-pie and has long-reminded me of my childhood cat, Squeaky, that I had for seventeen years.  Charlene was gentle and accepting and so easy to love and so easy to miss.  We love you, Charlene.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

This is a recipe that I came across and veganized, tweaked, adjusted measurements, and rearranged, as is my usual way, to get the end result I want.  And...that result is delicious!  Like some of my other desserts, this does have a few steps, but they are not overwhelming.  Just go steady like the tortoise, and before you know it, you'll be enjoying a slice of this wonderful treat.  Just a note: I find that using the freshest juices and peels possible creates the best flavor; if you've got fresh citrus, use them first before other sources.  Of course, it goes without saying, that the best flavor ever for this tart will come from the freshest strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

A beautiful slice of said tart, mm-mmm!


Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. vegan sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 oz. vegan stick margarine, chilled
6 Tbs. fresh orange juice (from fresh oranges, if possible)

Filling:

2 pkgs. Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 Tbs. freshly grated orange rind
12 - 14 strawberries, thinly sliced lengthwise

Glaze:

3 Tbs. strawberry preserves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (from a fresh lemon, if possible)

Directions:

Crust:

In a food processor with the pastry blade, put in the flour, sugar and salt.  Process for a few seconds to mix.  Cut up the margarine into chunks, and add those to the dry mix.  Process again, until you get a grainy consistency.  With the machine running, pour the orange juice through the feeder hole.  Your dough should clump together into a sort of ball in about a minute.  Take this ball out, shape into a disc, wrap in wax paper, and chill for ten minutes.  (Alternately, you can use a pastry cutter or fork, if you don't have a food processor.)  Take dough out of fridge and place between two large squares of wax paper.  Roll dough out to a circle about thirteen or so inches in diameter, large enough to cover your spring-form tart pan and sides.  Note:  My pan is 11.5 inches; if yours is smaller you can adjust your circle and even your dough amount, if you wish.  Take top sheet of wax paper off dough, and gently flip the dough over your pan.  Press down to cover the bottom and sides completely.  If you have bare patches, and you have extra dough in other areas, take the extra dough to cover the patches.   Anything else that is extra, you can fold down into the pan, or take a sharp knife and trim the top of the pan to remove excess dough.  Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line the crust with wax paper, and layer a pound of dried beans on it, making sure the entire bottom is covered.  Bake for eight minutes.  Take out the tart from the oven.  Remove the beans into a container for future use, and remove the wax paper as well.  Bake crust for another eight minutes.  Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Filling:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar and orange rind, until well combined, about two minutes on low to medium speed.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling rack.  When crust is cool, release the sides of the tart pan, and place tart on serving dish.  Layer your strawberry slices on the crust in a circular pattern, starting from the outside and working your way in.  With any extra slices you may have at the end, fill in any gaps you see.  You want the top of the tart to be screaming strawberries!  

Glaze:

Heat the strawberry preserves and lemon juice in a small pan over medium low heat, until well-mixed and runny.  You can strain this through a mesh sieve to leave out any lemon bits.  With a basting brush, paint the glaze all over the strawberries.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.  So good, and it feeds five hungry vegans for a couple of desserts!



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Classic Avocado, Cream Cheese and Sprouts Sandwich

When you go into a deli and look at their vegan or vegetarian sandwich choices, inevitably you'll see a version of this.  Why spend the six bucks per sandwich when you can make these at home?  Anyways, the chances of finding a deli with vegan cream cheese are probably 1000 to 1 or worse.  Served with a veggie stir-fry, it makes for a complete meal.


Classic Avocado, Cream Cheese and Sprouts Sandwich

Ingredients:

Your favorite bread on hand - we used sourdough
1 tub of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese or your favorite vegan cream cheese
3 avocados, mashed with a fork
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 cup of alfalfa sprouts

Directions:

Spread a thick layer of cream cheese on one slice of bread.  On top of that, spread a couple heaping tablespoons of mashed avocado.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your liking, and top with a layer of sprouts.  Add the top bread slice and bite.  Mm-mmm, taste the classicness of it all!  Feeds five hungry vegans.