Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vegan Quesadillas


I've never been much of a quesadilla person, always too much cheese for me and since we've gone dairy-free for the last 6 months the likelihood of having them any time soon seemed slim to none.

However, last week something strange happened - I was craving quesadillas.


We realized that with the awesomeness that is Daiya cheese, it was possible that we could make ourselves some quesadillas with just the right amount of dairy-free cheese.

Golden exterior and melty insides


We so thoroughly enjoyed our meal of quesadillas that we had them again this Saturday!

Close-up on all that veg. Delish!

This is truly a snap to prepare and you can use whatever you having lying around in your fridge to make it happen.

There's no recipe really and aren't those always the best kind of recipes ;)

Guidelines

We used smal bell peppers (whatever colour you prefer), onion, broccoli, corn, and black beans. And the cheese of course!

Just heat a pan with olive oil, toss in your thinly sliced onion and cook until softened. Next throw in your sliced peppers (we used 2) and chopped broccoli and let those things caramelize a bit. Then add the corn and black beans until they're warmed through.

Put a little oil or margarine in a frying pan, toss in your tortilla, add cheese, then veg and little extra cheese if you want. You may also want to add a few spinach leaves in there, too. Fold the tortila over and make sure to brown the other slide.

Cut and serve with salsa.

And most importantly, 
ENJOY!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vegan Nanaimo Bars - A No-Bake Treat


Nanaimo bars are quite possibly the best no-bake treat in existence. And there isn't even a peanut butter and chocolate combo going on here!


We were new to the whole nanaimo bars creation but we were not new to eating nanaimo bars. No no, this was my favourite treat to order when I went to Tim Hortons as a child...I don't even think they sell nanaimo bars there any more...oh, how things change.


If you're worried that you aren't up to the task of making nanaimo bars well think again because these are quite easy to make surprisingly.

And the best part? They are vegan! Who knew custard powder was vegan? Not I.

Well... not all custard powders are created equal, it must be the Bird's variety if you'd like the treat to be vegan.

Having said that, you can easily substitute non-vegan margarine or butter and regular chocolate chips.


Oooo the crisp chocolate layering giving way to sweet custard filling and soft bottom layer is just beautiful.

Something that makes these bars really special is the addition of cocoa nibs. They add a nice crunch and a little bitterness that balances out the sweet custard.


We used two recipes for our bars.

Note that there is a little bit of a discrepancy between the two recipes as this base recipe calls for a 9" pan where the custard and topping calls for an 8" pan. We used a 9" pan and it turned out fine for us, maybe a little thinner than the average Nanaimo bar but still delicious. We are in no way saying you must use the two different recipes, you may follow a single recipe if preferred. We just liked the base of Go Dairy Free but didn't have any vegan cream cheese that the custard calls for.

Nanaimo Base from Go Dairy Free

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted cocoa nibs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


Custard layer and Chocolate Coating from The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado

Custard
  • 2 tablespoons custard powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar
Chocolate Coating
  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Directions

Process the water and flax seed in a blender until it is thick and foamy. Set aside.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine the  margarine, brown sugar, syrup, cocoa, and flax seed mixture. Stir until the consistency is thick and custard-like. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, cocoa nibs, and nuts. Add to the mixture in the saucepan, and mix well. Pack the mixture into an oiled 9-inch square cake pan lined with baking parchment cut to fit. Set aside.
Cream together margarine, coconut milk, vanilla and custard powder. Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over bottom layer, than place in fridge to chill.

In a double boiler, melt 4 squares of semi sweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of margarine over low heat. Let cool, then while cool but still liquid, take your chilled bars out of the fridge and pour your chocolate on using your offset spatula. Put it in the fridge to chill for one hour.

Cut into squares when the chocolate is hardened but not too cold, otherwise the chocolate will crack. 

Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Busy Life

Sorry for the lack of posts. Life is nothing shy of totally-crazy-wild busy. School has been ultra busy for the both of us and one of us is now sick with that nasty cold/flu going around Toronto. We hope to be back in a few or so. We have made goodies but haven't had time to post. C'est la vie!

xoxo Caitlin and Riley

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully 2013 is shaping up to be an excellent year for everyone, even if we're only five days into it ;)







We had some bananas hanging around in our fridge from 2012 so I thought it best to use them up; tie up those loose ends.




The banana flavour in these cookies isn't overpowering. Lately I haven't really been digging the banana flavour in baked goods so it was definitely a pleasant change. 




These are hearty and satisfying without being overly sweet. You can see there is very little sweetener but I think it is just the right amount.



And to explain the flowery, pink background....I've been feeling inexplicably springy lately, as in I feel like spring is just around the corner...it's strange but nice :)


Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Minimalist Baker


Ingredients
  • 2 very ripe medium bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter 
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (used hazelnut flavoured agave)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (we used canola)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
  • optional: turbinado sugar for topping (used brown sugar)
Directions
1. In a large bowl, mash the banana then add baking soda, baking powder, salt, flax seed, vanilla extract, almond butter, agave nectar, olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
2. Add in the whole wheat pastry flour using the spoon and level method (as opposed to using the measuring cup as a scoop and then leveling), and rolled oats and stir. It should be wet and sticky, but if it appears runny, add another 1/4 cup or more of oats.
3. Add most of the semisweet chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes while preheating oven to 375 degrees. 
4. Scoop slightly rounded 1 Tbsp measurements of the batter and drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a non-stick silicon baking mat. Space about 1 inch apart, then slightly press down with back of spoon and sprinkle with brown sugar.
5. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until they appear set. You aren’t going for brown edges – you want them moist and just cooked. Let cool slightly on cooling rack. Enjoy!



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vegan Potato Broccoli Soup


Sometimes you just need a really yummy soup. And easy, and quick to make. 

This soup fits the bill. It's wonderfully delicious and completely satisfying. 



Vegan Potato Broccoli Soup
Adapted from Lemons and Anchovies 

  • 4 medium sized yukon or yellow potatoes (about 1 pound), rinsed and cut into quarters
  • 2 – 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 medium onions and 5 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 – 3 carrots, chopped
  • 32-oz container of stock (I used vegetable)
  • Water, several cups
  • Curry powder, to taste (I used 1 – 2 teaspoons)
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • No-salt seasoning, to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat then add the onions and shallots.  Cook for at least thirty minutes over moderate heat until they are nicely caramelized. Stir occasionally.
  2. Add the carrots and cook for five to eight minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the chicken stock, scrape the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan, bring to a boil and add the potatoes.  There should be enough liquid to cover the potatoes but if not, just add water.  Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Add the broccoli florets and add enough water to cover them in the pot.  Bring back to a boil and cook until they are also tender.
  5. At this point, if you feel you need more flavor in the soup, add your favorite no-salt seasoning blend.
  6. Purée the soup (I use a stick blender).  Add a dash or two of curry powder to the puréed soup to brighten the flavors even more.  You won’t need too much.
  7. Serve in bowls with desired accompaniments.


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