Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No- Bake Carrot Cake!

So in the spirit of spring I have to share this amazing cake with you!  All you really need is a food processor and bam! Its done! This is the original recipe and while I like it, I had to give it my own personal touch!

This recipe yields about eight small servings and is a favorite around Easter.  You can make this ahead; just cover and refrigerate.  This cake is extra awesome because it travels really well, making it perfect for family get- togethers!

No- Bake Carrot Cake

3 C. carrot, finely grated (I use the attachment on the food processor)
2 C. pecans, ground in a food processor
1/4 C. raisins, roughly chopped
1 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 C. dates, pitted
1/2 C. fresh orange juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. orange zest
1/2 C. desiccated coconut

1. Put carrots, pecans, raisins, salt, zest, spices, and coconut in a large bowl.
2. Process the dates with the orange juice until smooth.  Add to bowl and mix well. 
3. Now you can form them into the shape you desire.  I use a small sour cream container as a mold and I end up with two cakes (like the one pictured).  You can also make one large cake using either a mold or your hands and a plate.

Creamy Frosting

1 1/2 C. cashews (raw or roasted, but not salted)
1/2 C. water
2 T. agave
3 T. coconut oil
1 T. vanilla
1/4 t. fine sea salt

Blend everything in a food processor until smooth.

Notes: I usually chill the cake and the frosting before attempting to frost the cake.  This makes frosting the cake easier but by no means is necessary.  Many times I have skipped any kind of chilling and just frosted the cake at room temperature.  If your gentle, it will turn out fine!

Once you are done frosting the cake you can chill it to help it firm up a bit if you like.  I usually let it sit out for about 20 minutes before serving.  Helpful tip: don't tell anyone its raw (unless they ask), enjoy the moment when they try to figure out how the delicious cake they are eating is constructed!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Skillet Banana Cake

Bananas are a staple in our house and it never fails that eventually there are extras that are too ripe to eat. I tired of traditional banana bread long ago and needed variety.  There are other treats that I make with over-ripe bananas but this is by far a favorite and something I make probably at least once a month. 

Skillet Banana Cake

2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C. Honey
1/4 C. Raw Agave Nectar
1/4 C. Palm Sugar
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. fine sea salt (do not omit this!)
1/2 C. Olive Oil
3 t. Ener-g-Egg Replacer + 3 T. Water
3 Large Ripe bananas, mashed
2 t. Vanilla Extract
3/4 C. Walnuts, toasted and chopped (almonds are good too)
2-4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients (except chocolate and nuts)

3. In a large bowl combine egg replacer and water. Add oil, bananas, and vanilla, mix.

4. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in chocolate and nuts. Do not over mix- this will make the end product dry!

5. Grease a cast iron skillet.  Pour in batter.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy!

So once you make this your house will smell wonderful.  Its great for entertaining (I serve it right out of the skillet) and is surprisingly satisfying without tasting too healthy.  You could always use dark chocolate if you prefer but I like the taste of the semi- sweet in this bread better.  The salt helps to bring out each of the flavors but doesn't make it taste salty at all so make sure to include it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Glorious Garlic Fries

So lately its been pretty busy around my house.  With work, and life I've neglected to post! However, I promise I will now make it up to you with these delicious fries! What else did you think I was busy doing? Cleaning?

In my never ending exploration of the internet I have discovered many things, and many of those discoveries pale in comparison to these fries.  I adapted the recipe from Lottie + Doof (not a vegan blog, but still one of my favorites!). You can find the original recipe here, which uses a microwave, but since I have no microwave my instructions involve the oven.

So in the original recipe it says to cut the potatoes into wedges which I obviously didn't do.  I quickly cut them into the shapes you see above and they came out delightfully crispy, but they did stick to the pan slightly.  The second time I made them I used the mandolin with the fry cutting blade which cut fries about half as thick as my first attempt.  Both came out equally good, so its really just a matter of personal preference.

Glorious Garlic Fries
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 T. vegetable oil
  • 4-5 russet potatoes (about 8oz each)
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 t. salt (read notes at the bottom about this)
  • 3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (or you can add more if you like them spicy)
1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Wash the potatoes and cut to your preferences. In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.  Add the potatoes and toss to coat.

3. Spread fries on two cookie sheets (the more crowded they are the less crispy they will be!) Toss remaining liquid. It's good to use some type of non-stick cookie sheets, but not required. Chunks of garlic sticking to the fries is a good thing.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip fries to brown other side, and then cook another 10-15 minutes until they reach a nice golden brown, or however brown you like them.  Keep in mind that not every fry will brown, and some may stay cream colored, variety is good. Enjoy!

These are so good you don't even need ketchup.  I love ketchup, but I love these fries more!

Fries on cookie sheet before baking
Notes: If you are having a lot of trouble with your fries sticking to the cookie sheet try these tricks.  You can soak the fries for an hour or so in plain water just after cutting, making sure to dry them before adding them to the garlic/oil mixture.You can also just dry them before putting them in the garlic mixture, or you can omit the salt from the mixture (salt draws out moisture= more sticking) and add it after the fries are done baking. You can also do all of the things listed above, but I lack patience and they don't stick very much to my cookie sheets.
This makes enough fries for two main courses or four sides.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coconut Bread

This weekend has been all about amazing food! (More on that later) Unfortunately. much of it was so delicious that I didnt have time to snap some photos.  Oh, well, I'll just have to make it again! This recipe I actually adapted from the website Honest Cooking.  Of course the original recipe is not vegan, and uses white flour, so I decided to make my own version which just so happens to be the mouthwatering type of delicious!

1 C. grated unsweetened dried coconut
2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C. Raw Agave Nectar
1/4 C. Palm Sugar (granulated)
1/4 C. Honey
1 T. Baking Powder
1/4 C. unrefined Coconut Oil
1 C. Coconut Milk (I use the milk in a can which can separate. I used 3/4 C. of  Solids, and 1/4 C. of the liquid)
1 1/2 t. Ener G Egg Replacer + 2 T warm water
2 t. Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat Oven to 350 F. Put the coconut oil in a metal bowl and place in the oven while it preheats.

2. Toast the Coconut. To do this I simply spread the coconut out on a piece of tin foil and placed it in the oven while it was preheating. Once the perimeter of my coconut started to brown I stirred it with a spoon so it all toasted evenly. About half of the coconut should be lightly browned and it should smell wonderful.

3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, coconut, baking powder, and palm sugar.

4. Once the coconut oil is melted remove it from the oven, add the coconut milk, agave, honey, water and egg replacer and stir.  I put the metal bowl over an oven burner on low heat to help melt the coconut milk solids.  Make sure to get out all the lumps by stirring well.

5. Allow wet ingredients to cool slightly.  Just before adding them to the dry ingredients, add the vanilla to the dry ingredients.  Mix wet and dry ingredients until just blended.  Over mixing will cause the bread to be dry and stiff.

6. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan (no need to flour).  I used cold- pressed olive oil, spreading it around with my hand.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (The agave will make it brown quickly but it may not be done inside!)

7.  Allow to cool until the bottom and sides of the loaf pan are just warm to the touch. (10-15 minutes) I use a knife around the outside to loosen up the bread before tipping it out onto a clean kitchen towel. It is very important to allow the bread to cool otherwise it will break apart when you try to remove it from the pan.

This bread is so delicious we often eat it plain, but it is wonderful with earth balance butter.  It is also blissfully delicious when accompanied with a hot cup of good jasmine tea.

Fresh out of the oven!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Smoothie Making 101

Smoothies are a staple in our house and make for especially easy breakfasts when motivation is lacking.  Its also a good way to use up some fruit that is riper that you prefer, or would otherwise go bad.  There is really no limit here, your imagination is your limit but I'll provide the guidelines I use and a few recipes of my own.

Tropical Lust Smoothie:
Half a pineapple, outer layer and core removed, cubed
2 Apples (sweet or tart)
2 Bananas (very ripe is ok)
1 Quart Strawberries, tops removed
Flesh of one mango, cubed (about 1C. if using frozen)
1/2 C. Cold water
Nectarine or peach (optional)
A few Ice Cubes (optional)
1 t. Cinnamon

I rinse all of the fruit thoroughly, cut and chop as needed and put everything into my Blendtec. My blender is the one piece of kitchen equipment that I can't live without and it was worth every penny.  It'll blend pretty much everything I could possibly want to blend, including frozen bananas, with ease.

This much fruit works out to two large servings.
Keep in mind that there will look like there is more fruit that you can eat. Once you blend it down this makes about 2 large servings.  I store half in the fridge to eat just before lunchtime.  Its not a good idea to make this too far ahead.  To cut down on time you can use frozen fruit (omit ice) or cut fruit in advance and store it in sealed containers in the fridge.  Cutting all the fruit you see here took me 15 minutes or less, blending about 30 seconds.

Tropical Lust Smoothie
The other recipe most commonly used:

Everything Smoothie:
2-4 Apples (tart or sweet)
2-4 Bananas (the riper they are the sweeter they are)
Any other fruit you have on hand: Strawberries, melon, blueberries, mango, raspberries, plums, nectarines, peaches, etc.
1/2 C. Soymilk (optional, can substitute water)
1 t. Cinnamon

Blend and serve!

Cake Batter Smoothie:
4-6 Very Ripe bananas
1-2 C. of Soymilk (depending on how thick you like it)
1-2 t. Cinnamon (to taste)
Agave Nectar (again to taste, but I use a few Tablespoons)

For this recipe you may want to start out with less soy milk and add more after tasting.  Same thing applies for the cinnamon and agave.  It's supposed to be fairly thick (like cake batter) and smooth. This recipe is not just a favorite for breakfast but also a great dessert when we have guests.