Category Archives: Holidays

Adventures In Vegan Baking

I absolutely love the holiday season because, for me, I use it as a time to intentionally slow down, reflect, be grateful for my non-material possessions like my relationships, and allow myself to engage in activities that make me feel joyful. And, baking is one of those activities, particularly taking the time to create new recipes and try other recipes that I have collected over the year. Trying new recipes can also be a bit of a budget buster. New recipes do not always go as planned and there is always the possibility of wasting ingredients. And, for me, I usually cook for 2 and living wholly means that I cannot regularly indulge in consuming dozens of cookies. So, the holiday season is a great time to bake because I allow myself a to loosen my food budget a bit (I think of it as giving myself a present) for baking supplies and, since for the times that my recipes come out tasting great, I can give away the baked goods as presents (while I allow myself to eat one or two). But, one of the things I do to be a bit more healthy and budget friendly is that I bake Vegan. Even though I am a Vegetarian, in my experience, baking Vegan is a fun and easy way to make my own new recipes (though writing down exactly what I do along the way to replicate it later is a bit harder). Vegan baking allows for more creativity because you never have to worry about getting sick from certain under cooked ingredients like eggs.

One of the first original Vegan cookies that I made was when I was planning a care package for my Grandma. My Grandma recently moved half way across country and it was her birthday. Her favorite dessert is key lime pie so I wanted to create a recipe that would be a Vegan inspiration from this dessert. It also had to ship well. So, I came up with the idea of making Vegan lemon lime cookies that were also low-glycemic, gluten free, and relatively high in protein. I added a bit of coconut milk to make it creamier and pistachios to add a bit of crunch similar to a graham cracker crust.
Well, the flavor was all there and they looked beautiful before I put them in…

BUT, it was like the Goldilocks tale. And, this is often my problem with creating recipes for baked goods. In the tale, all the beds looked the same to her until she laid down on each one: “this one is too hard”or “this one is too soft.” And, in this scenario, each time, the cookies would turn out either too dry or too soft (sometimes even burnt).

Baking Disasters

Oops… 😦

But, eventually, just at the time I was going to give up. They turned out “just right.”

Lemon Lime Vegan Cookies

Lemon Lime Vegan Cookies

Since I kept adding different amounts of ingredients until I got the perfect consistency, I do not know the exact recipe. One of these days though, I will come back to it so that I can publish the recipe. In the meantime, I am looking forward to lots of creative baking this holiday season. And, now that I have done it for a while, I make less mistakes.

If you want to try your skills in the kitchen but do not know how well your recipes will turn out, I encourage you to try Vegan too.

45 Minute Vegetarian Holiday Meal

I apologize again but there is no video and no lasagna recipe for this week. This time my computer was acting up and my Mom was not feeling good either for Thanksgiving so I did not make the lasagna. I think I was the only one that was feeling pretty good.

But…despite not having the video and the lasagna recipe set to post this week, I am happy to announce that I won National Novel Writing Month. On the last day, I surpassed 50,000 words mark and I have a very rough draft of my book completed. My birthday was also during that week so it was perfect timing to finally cross it off my bucket list after 10 years.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo winner’s badge:

nanowrimo badge

 


In the meantime, although there is no video, I wanted to share my hummus recipe anyways.

No Electricity Required Hummus

Hummus is a great Vegan snack full of protein and good fats. And, now, you do not have to buy fancy equipment like a food processor or high speed blender to make it. Very budget-friendly!

Ingredients:

2 cans garbanzo or chickpeas
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs filtered water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbs smooth nut or seed butter without sugar (tahini is traditional but use what you have)

Directions;

1. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans. Lay out garbanzo beans in a single layer on a clean dish towel or paper towel. Allow the garbanzo beans to dry, about 30 minutes. Either fold the towel in half with the garbanzo beans sandwiched between or place another paper towel on top of the garbanzo beans, and then gently rub the beans for about one minute. This should loosen the skins on the beans. Once they are loose, take the skins off the beans. You will not want to skip this step even though it takes the most time.
2. After you have removed all the skins from the garbanzo beans, place all of the beans in a sturdy gallon Ziploc bag (I found that the freezer ones worked well). Close the bag and use your fingers to mash and squish all of beans until they look like lumpy mash potatoes. Take a rolling pin (or another can works well) and roll the garbanzo beans until they are completely flat. Squish the beans back into a ball and roll out again. Repeat this step a couple of times.
3. Add in remaining ingredients. Close the bag and squish the contents until well combined. Roll and squish like you did with just the garbanzo beans. Do this step a couple of times.
4. When serving, drizzle on a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

That’s it! Enjoy your super smooth hummus! 

Feel free to have fun with the add-ins, add more or less salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You can try other spices like paprika or chili powder (if you like it spicy). Garlic is a traditional ingredient in hummus but, as I have told you before, I am intolerant to garlic. So, you can add it if you want, but I think it tastes great without out.

My favorite foods to dip in hummus are baby carrots and sliced bell pepper. I also really enjoy spreading it on flat bread and adding chopped veggies on top.

 


Also, while you are waiting for the vegetable lasagna recipe, I wanted to share with you all what I ended up preparing for Thanksgiving. Since my Mom was not feeling well, I did not want to make a very heavy meal. So, instead, I made some modifications to the recipes that I did last Thanksgiving, see recipe links in previous post. I think these items could be eaten at a Christmas/Holiday get together as well.

A Complete Vegetarian Holiday Meal in 45 Minutes

Deconstructed Lentil Loaf with Quinoa

It tastes very similar to the Lentil “Meatloaf” recipe with the Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy except it is much quicker. I would definitely do it this way again.

1. Make Quinoa according to package directions. I doubled the quinoa and water so 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water but followed same directions.
2. In another pan, follow the directions and use the same ingredients for the Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy except, instead of adding flour, add 1 cup precooked lentils (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s), handful of chopped baby carrots, and ½ bell pepper chopped.
3. Let it simmer for 8-10 minutes (without the flour, the “gravy” does not thicken).
4. Then, stir in the quinoa.
5. Finish by cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Instead of soy sauce, I use coconut aminos. I try to limit my consumption of soy products and I think coconut aminos taste just as good as soy sauce.

Sweet Potatoes with Clementines

Follow the directions and use the same ingredients as the Vegan Pralined Sweet Potatoes, except, Instead of orange juice, this year, I chopped up 1/3 cup Cuties (clementines) and mixed them in. I also segmented a few additional clementines into wedges to put on top when serving.

If you do not have Vegan margarine, butter can be substituted if you are not Vegan.

Balsamic Green Beans

Follow the directions and use the same ingredients for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar recipe but substitute green beans. Even though I love Brussels Sprouts, this is a great modification for those who happen to not love Brussels Sprouts. This works just as wonderfully with fresh green beans.

Before I put them in the oven, I also sprinkled some Parmesan on top. This was a great addition.

 

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

First off, please, let me apologize that there is still no video on my no electricity required hummus. I thought I would be able to squeeze in the time to get it completed for this week’s posting, but, I underestimated how busy I would be. I have several projects in the works right now that have consumed much more time than I expected and have a deadline before December 1st. So, I will post the video by December 2nd.

One of these projects is a personal one that I have been dreaming and wanting to cross off my bucket list for over 10 years. Ten years ago, I was introduced to the idea of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Every November, people from around the globe come together to write novels of 50,000 words or more. I just loved the idea so much that ever since then, every November, I have tried to accomplish writing a novel. But, every year, I get too busy and let other tasks take priority over it. This year, although I did not start out strong and thought I would give up especially because I am still grieving, but I have decided to give it my all in the last two weeks. I am grateful that I still have time to make the deadline even if it means that I have to prioritize it over other tasks. So, in the meantime, let’s talk about Thanksgiving.

Personally, as someone who loves to cook and eat, I love Thanksgiving. Most of the time, I am either cooking for myself or my nuclear family. Thanksgiving is a time that I get to show my love for family and friends through my cooking. However, I am not having a big Thanksgiving this year. My nearby relatives who always came moved across country earlier this year. So, this year, I am cooking for myself and my Mom (also a Vegetarian). Since there is just the two of us, I want to keep our budget in mind by doing something different this year. Instead of a more traditional Vegetarian twist on Thanksgiving meal, I am going to make our favorite meal: vegetable lasagna. When I post my hummus video, I will share pictures and the recipe that I used for my lasagna.

But, if you are Vegetarian, do not fret just because Thanksgiving is also known as “Turkey Day,” it is easy to enjoy a more traditional Thanksgiving. First off, if you are not doing all of your own cooking and you are visiting friends or family who are not Vegetarian, a lot of the traditional side dishes are naturally Vegetarian (Vegan can be a bit trickier). Secondly, if you are doing the whole dinner, your main center piece can be more traditional without being a heavily processed, soy-based, fake tasting tofurkey. Instead, seek out easy, hearty, filling, whole food recipes like grilled Portobello mushrooms, bean burgers, etc. Here are some ideas from Buzzfeed, with beautiful pictures that will make your mouth water: 22 Delicious Meatless Mains To Make For Thanksgiving

Last year was my first Vegetarian Thanksgiving. It took me a while to come up with the menu because there were so many recipes to be found online. Except for buttermilk in the cornbread muffins, all of the dishes were Vegan. All of the dishes were relatively healthy (no refined sugar or gluten) but they still tasted indulgent, and they were all relatively easy to make. For our main dish, I made Vegan Lentil “Meatloaf” (similar in taste and texture to traditional meatloaf) because I wanted a way to incorporate my Dad’s memory into our celebration. When he was alive, his favorite dish to make our family was meatloaf. It was a great Thanksgiving meal and the turkey was definitely not missed.

 

2013 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Appetizer
Kite hill vegan cheese with rice crackers (not pictured)
Main Dish
Lentil “Meatloaf”  
Side Dishes
Vegan Pralined Sweet Potatoes with Orange Juice 
Mash Potatoes (store bought) 
Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar 
Cornbread Muffins (not the exact recipe I used, but similar) 

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

What is your favorite Vegetarian Thanksgiving dish? How do you do Thanksgiving on a budget? I would love to know.

This year, I am also grateful for those of who you stop by my blog. For those of you who celebrate, I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!