Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Peach Raspberry Almond Parfait

 As you may be able to tell, we've had peaches galore around here. 

Five years ago, we put in a peach tree, crossing our fingers--and happily, the harvests have been amazing! It seems to go in cycles of every other year, and this year was a good year.  We have over a whopping 250 peaches (fresh! home-grown! pesticide-free!) from our tree that we just picked on Sunday.  (Throughout Monday, I ate ten peaches.  Ten! Fresh! Peaches!)

So, I've been dreaming up some peach recipes! This is a nice snack between lunch and dinner, having layers of both peach almond cream and raspberry lime sauce, with sliced peaches in between.  It's also pretty easy to prep.  So, without further ado, Peach Raspberry Almond Parfait!

 Peach Raspberry Almond Parfait (makes 4 decent-sized parfaits)

Peach Almond Cream:
3 peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced into pieces (must be fresh)
1 1/4 c. almonds

That's it! Put the peaches and then the almonds into a blender and blend until creamy.  If it's too thin, add more almonds; if too thick, add another peach slice or two. 

Raspberry Lime Sauce:
1.5 c. raspberries (measure before thawing)
 Juice of 1.5 large limes (or 2 small)
2 tbsp. agave
Pinch of sea salt

Let the raspberries thaw for a while and then blend together.  It will be a thick sauce (in the picture, I let it sit too long, so it got thinner). 

To assemble:
Peach Almond Cream
Raspberry Lime Sauce
Sliced peaches

Dollop a bit of Peach Almond Cream in the bottom of a parfait glass.  Throw in some sliced fresh peaches and cover with a layer of raspberry sauce.  (My raspberry sauce had thawed too much, and got too thin, so I only did one big layer of it with more cream on top.  If it's assembled immediately, you can layer the cream and sauce a few times.) Keep layering this way until you reach your desired height in the parfait glass! Enjoy!

This is a nice, sweet treat in the summer, but still light and fresh. 

With any luck, this post will be part of 'Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,' over at the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free blog.  This will also be a part of Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. 

Hope that all of you have a good week!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chocolate and caramel, veganized? Heck yes!

Hey everyone! Summer's been busy, and I've been whipping up lots of treats and such in the kitchen that I'll be posting soon! A few days ago, I saw that Sweetly Raw was having an ice cream sundae challenge. (http://www.sweetlyraw.com/2012/07/summer-dessert-challenge.html)
I haven't commented on her blog, but I've always enjoyed her recipes, and she's been an inspiration for me on my raw/cooked vegan health journey. 
So, what flavor did I choose?? Well, I was thinking about some sort of fruity concoction, but alas, the fresh fruit (besides blackberries) is far gone from our local farmer's market.  So, I decided to go with some tried-and-true, classic flavors: chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and pecan. 
Vegan caramel, you ask? Well, it sure as heck wasn't easy, but through perseverence (and after one burned batch) I came up with something I...wait for it...liked more than traditional caramel.  Finding the right texture is tricky, as it thickens while it cools--but this caramel is sweet, a little salty, and absolutely decadent combined with chocolate and pecans. 
The recipe has a few components: chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate caramel cups (which have a few steps themselves).  I topped this baby off with dried cranberries, which gave a fantastic texture and a nice, tarter snap to the otherwise sweet sundae. 
So, without further ado: Chocarmel Pecan Sunade!

Chocarmel Pecan Sundae

Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients:
2 1/4 c. cashews, NOT soaked
1 1/2 c. vanilla almond milk (I used the Silk brand)
1/3 c. agave
1/2 cup cacao/cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. plus 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. lecithin (soy or sunflower works)

Blend all ingredients except the coconut oil and lecithin until extremely smooth.  If it needs more liquid, add a splash of almond milk.  Then blend in the coconut oil and lecithin, stirring inside the blender container if necessary.  If the mixture isn't sweet enough, add a bit more agave.  (Keep in mind the vanilla ice cream is sweeter, so a more bittersweet chocolate ice cream balances out.) Pour the mixture into a container and freeze until solid. 

Vanilla Ice Cream Ingredients:
2 c. cashews
1 1/4 c. vanilla almond milk
1/3 c. agave
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. lecithin

Blend all ingredients except the coconut oil and lecithin until extremely smooth.  When that's done, blend in the last two ingredients until incorporated.  (It's okay if it's a little bit sweeter, as the chocolate ice cream is more bittersweet.) Pour the mixture into a container and freeze solid. 

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cups: (made 12 in a mini-muffin pan for me)

First off, stick 3 pecan halves into the bottom of each space in a mini-muffin pan (or whatever you're using to shape the cups in; preferably a metal pan).  Stick it in the freezer.  Then, you can get to work on the chocolate. 

Chocolate Ingredients:
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/4 c. heaping c. cocoa/cacao powder
2 tbsp. brown rice syrup
3 tbsp. maple syrup
Sprinkle of salt

Blend all together and put in a piping bag.  Since hopefully your pan will be sufficently frozen by now, you can take it out and pipe the chocolate around the sides, making sure it coats the entire inside of each cup space (spreading over the pecans).  This is so the sticky caramel will stay on the insides, making the cups easier to work with.  This should only use about 1/2 to 2/3 of the chocolate.  Once you're done with your wall of chocolate on each cup, stick it back in the freezer until your caramel is ready. 

Caramel Ingredients:
1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. coconut sugar
1/4 c. almond milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp. arrowroot powder

Stir all ingredients except the arrowroot powder together (in a metal saucepan) over heat.  Whisk in the arrowroot powder and bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil (it will bubble a LOT) until it has slightly thickened. (This is important, because the caramel thickens as it cools.  You have to make sure not to boil it too long--or it will burn.  Sigh. --but also to boil it enough so it's a thick sauce.) When it has, remove it from heat and let the caramel cool, stirring occasionally. 

Assembly of cups: Once the caramel is cooled, take the pan out of the freezer and fill the cups most of the way full with caramel.  Spoon the remaining chocolate sauce over the top.  Do this to each cup and then put back in the freezer to set.  Once they have, you can pop them out and cut each cup into pieces (I did quarters) for the sundae. 

Assembly of the sundae:
Chocolate ice cream (thawed)
Vanilla ice cream (thawed)
Chocolate Caramel Pecan cups
Dried cranberries
Pecan pieces

Put a scoop of chocolate ice cream in the bottom of your serving glass (like above; of course, if you want to put vanilla in the bottom instead, I won't stop you ;) ).  Add a vanilla scoop and a chocolate scoop to the top.  Scatter 3-4 pieces of the chocolate caramel pecan cups over the sundae.  Take a small handful of dried cranberries and put them over the sundae as well.  Lastly, take some pecan pieces and scatter them around as well. 

Hope you guys enjoy! This sundae is delicious, and I'll keep the recipe for sure.  The chocolate caramel pecan cups are an especially good treat on their own--the chewy, sweet caramel is heaven with crunchy pecans and chocolate! Thanks to Heather Pace from Sweetly Raw for her contest, and good luck to all the other competitors! (I'll be posting more recipes soon; keep your eyes peeled!)

Over and out!
-Megan S.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Catching Up!

Sorry I've been absent for so long! School has been crazy busy, and with the weather warming up, I've been spending lots of time doing stuff outside.  However, I have several recipes to share today! Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of any of these.  :( Sorry about that! I promise, though, that they're ALL completely delicious. 

I'll start with a recipe from a cookbook called 'Veganomicon.' In the winter and coming into spring, I eat more cooked foods, usually in the form of soups and gluten-free baked goods.  I edited this soup so much that I feel justified in posting the recipe; additionally, another blog (Sustainable Student) made this soup and posted a picture.  It looks like this: ------------------------->

This soup has been rated by a lot of testers as amazingly good.  No joke! We had to make a healthy meal for science, and I was all over that.  The chickpeas and brown rice plus tomatoes satisfied my teachers on the nutrition requirements, and everyone loved it! One VERY carnivorous girl even had thirds :D And my teacher didn't believe me when I said it was vegan.  Score!

Tomato-Rice Soup with Chickpeas
Makes a lot; it's perfectly acceptable to cut it in half

6 medium cloves garlic, minced/pressed
1 medium yellow onion, diced very small
1 tbsp. olive oil or unscented coconut oil
1 cup long-grain brown rice (make sure to use long-grain, as it cooks better)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 tsp. sea salt
2 (28-oz) cans of organic crushed tomatoes with basil
2 (15-oz) cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil for 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the rice, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, and salt and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, then fill up the can 3/4 of the way with water.  Empty in the pot, and fill up with water 3/4 of the way again (so about 1 1/2 cans full of water total).  Add to the pot, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer about 45 minutes.  When the rice is completely cooked and soft, add the rinsed beans and heat through.  Remove the bay leaves and serve. 

Depending on your rice, it may have to simmer a little longer.  We usually use rice from our local store in this soup, and the last time I made it, we used Whole foods brown rice.  I freaked out because it wasn't completely done after 45 minutes--but it's totally fine, you just have to cook it a little longer if that's the case for you. 

Okay, next recipe! This one's a favorite with my mom and I, who both adore kale.  My mom's absolute favorite way to eat it is with a honey-mustard dressing.  This salad is simple to whip up and perfect for a quick side dish. 

Honey-Mustard Kale Salad

About 3/4 to 1 whole bunch of kale (any type is fine, but we like dinosaur kale especially)
1 Granny Smith (or other variety) apple, sliced into thin pieces

Honey Mustard Dressing:
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. flaxseed oil (add more olive oil if you don't have this)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
A few shakes of ground pepper

Stir the dressing together vigorously until it's all combined.  Wash and slice the kale into small, ribbon-y pieces, and place it all in a bowl with the apple.  Toss with Honey-Mustard dressing and enjoy! This salad is best if it can sit a bit before being eaten, for the flavors to meld and the kale to soften. 

Lastly, I'll leave you with a dessert recipe.  Someday I'll get pictures up, I promise! I made this about a week before my dad's birthday, and he liked it so much that he requested it again.  Everyone in my family adores these, and they're very satisfying.  As long as you have an adequate food processor, this recipe isn't nearly as complicated as it looks.  It is definitely a winner!

Two-layer Cookies (makes about 16 large cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter)
Bottom layer (chocolate cookie):
2 cups almonds
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
4 pitted soft dates
1-2 tsp. water
Dash of sea salt

In a food processor, grind the almonds and coconut flakes to a flour-like consistency.  (You can also use store-bought almond meal and coconut flour if you want.) Add the cocoa powder, agave, dates, water, and salt to the processor, and process to create a ball of dough.  Add more water as necessary to create a sticky dough. 
Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on a tray, and flatten the dough into a layer on top of the paper.  Cut out circles in the size you desire and lay them on the tray.  Place the cookies on the tray into the fridge for about 5 minutes, or while you make the top layer, to chill. 

Top layer (chocolate chip cookie):
1  1/3 cup cashews
2/3 cup rolled oats
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips

Grind the cashews and oats to as fine of a flour-like consistency as you can.  (I used a dry blender container; you could use a food processor as well.) Place into a bowl and mix in the agave, maple syrup, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  The dough will be very sticky. 
To assemble:
Take the chocolate cookies out of the fridge.  Wet your fingers slightly and put a reasonably-sized dollop of chocolate chip dough on the top of each chocolate cookie, using up all the dough.  Wet your fingers again if they start getting sticky. 
Flatten the chocolate chip dough on top of each chocolate cookie until it resembles a two-layer cookie.  (I had to re-wet my fingers several times throughout this process.) At first the top layer will be stickier (though still completely eatable); after a while the top layer will harden a bit more.  Store at room temperature and enjoy!

The number of cookies you get from this all depends on your cookie cutter, as I said before.  Anyways, I have to go, but I have more planned to post soon: I've got a wild rice 'stuffing'-style recipe (without the bread, but just as wonderful, I promise!) and a few other things up my sleeve.  Sorry again about the pictures, and I hope you enjoy these recipes if you try any of them!

Megan S.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Three C's!

Crepes, Chinese salad, and Caramel dip!
Hey y'all! (Lol.  Southern or what?) It's almost Valentine's Day!! I have lots planned for that funtastic day (I'm making a Valentine's Day meal!), and you'll get to see that soon.  I'm also making an Asian-themed meal for my family tonight, consisting of recipes from Ani Phyo's new Asian cookbook and a nori roll recipe of my own.  But I'll get to that later!
First, the crepes.  The crepe recipe is from the Sweet Gratitude book, and the recipe called for it to be filled with strawberry/blueberry jam.  However, since fresh berries aren't really in season right now (and I was not about to use the flavorless frozen strawberries from the store!), I decided to use one of the crepe variations.  Since we had lots of ripe, speckly bananas, I sliced 'em up, spread them inside the crepe, and drizzled chocolate sauce all over the inside and outside. 
It was delicious.  But, of course, I couldn't find the camera. :( Never, fear, however; when my mom came home, she brought the camera with her and we took a picture of another crepe we made.  It has smeary chocolate words written on it, and I mashed the banana for the filling of this one.  The crepes held up wonderfully though! They folded easily, but didn't break apart at all.  They probably had the best consistency of any crepes I've made before. 
Aren't they gorgeous? (That's a chocolate heart on the plate, by the way.  My little sister had fun decorating. :) )
Next, on to the Chinese salad! This one's really simple.  You just take lettuce and chop up whatever veggies you have around (I used carrots and bell pepper), and drizzle it with Hoisin Sauce.  I love this hoisin sauce recipe--it's my go-to for anything Chinese-y--because it's sooo flavorful.  It's smoother when you make it with agave, but also thinner, and I like the sweetness of the dates more. 

Hoisin Sauce (makes probably 1/2 cup)
4 tbsp. namu shoyu (I use the San-J brand)
2 tbsp. almond butter
4 soft dates, pitted
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 small garlic clove
A little shake of cayenne pepper
Blend all together.  Serve over veggies or lettuce.  Voila!

And lastly, the caramel dip.  Mmmm! This stuff was delish.  The dip is sweet on its own, but the slight tartness of the apples balances it out perfectly. 

Caramel Dip

1 cup soft dates, pitted
Some water or almond milk--just enough to blend the dates
1/2 tsp. maca powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Blend all together.  Don't add too much liquid or it will be too runny--add just enough to blend it all into a smooth dip.  Enjoy!

Well, for Valentine's Day, my current menu plan is everything red.  Raw Spaghetti, Tomato Cumin Wild Rice Soup (I'll finally get to post that one!), Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting, and Raspberry Fruit Soup are what I currently have in mind.  Tonight, my Asian- themed meal plan is as follows:

Megan's Asian Extravaganza

Beverages: Pomegranate Tea

Appetizers: Cilantro Nori Rolls (Kim Bap)

Side Dishes: Spinach Namul (Saag Moo Chim) and Pineapple 'Fried Rice' with curry sauce (Khao Phad Sapparod)

Entree: Rendang Curry

Dessert: Chai Ice Cream

I plan to print out fancy, swirly menus.  :) And I'm going to describe everything in Korean, like Ani Phyo does in her book.  Fun times! Everyone have a spectacular Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's February!!

Has anyone but me ever thought about this? Why do we not say it Feh-BRU-ary? Or is it just us Midwest folk that don't do this? I don't know, I'm a small town girl!
Anyways, there *will* be more recipes to come soon, I promise! Life's been crazy busy lately (driving lessons! solo ensemble! algebra! oh my!), but I will get around to it!
For now, here's some pictures of the most amazing raw ice cream cake I have ever made.  I got Heather Pace's (of sweetlyraw.com; check it out, she's amazing!) e-book deal: the Moonie Pie, Ice Cream Cake, and Just Desserts e-books, all raw and vegan, for Christmas!
I've already made orange goji berry moonie pies, which I didn't get a picture of, but I will describe them to you: imagine two rich, chocolately brownie layers, and in between them sandwiched the creamiest, chilled cream, bursting with rich orange flavor and studded with crimson chunks of goji berries. 
Buy. This. Book. 
I substituted maple sugar powder for the agave powder, since I didn't have that, and also pared down quite a lot on the size (though they did keep well in the freezer, covered).  I didn't dip mine in chocolate, either, and made the brownie layer a little differently, resulting in crumblier moonies than Heather's.  However, they were still absolutely amazing, and my family and I enjoyed every bite of them!
However, in our humble opinion, the ice cream cake topped even the moonie pies.  It was called the 'Chocolate Vanilla Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Cake,' I believe, and it was in-cred-ible. 
The food pics:

This is the chocolate ice cream layer, which had little brownie chunks swirled into it (hence the lumps) just as it was setting.  Note: the ice creams seemed a lot less thicker than other raw ice creams I've made, but these were silky and creamy and thickened up beautifully in the freezer (gotta love coconut oil!). 

Here's the finished cake.  It doesn't look nearly as great as it does in real life, due to our bad camera/indoor lighting, but it tastes GOOD.  There's a chocolate layer with swirls of caramel and chocolate sauces on top of it, followed by a vanilla layer, followed by more chocolate and caramel sauce.  It's topped with chocolate covered bananas and raw brownie chunks.  The reason that there are random chocolately blobs on top is my own fault; I put the chocolate on top, thinking I could swirl it in, and then (due to coconut oil) it became super-thick right away.  Oh well, at least the caramel and vanilla layer swirled nicely :)  

Half gone already :(  Everyone in our family agreed that this was a definite keeper.  Incredibly silky smooth, with a rich dark chocolate layer studded with sweet brownie chunks and a lighter vanilla top, interspersed with flavorful caramel and chocolate sauces! Bet you're drooling, right?! :) So, go out and buy Heather Pace's e-book!

Like I said, more to come soon, but until then, have a great weekend! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

'Fried' Rice and Snow!

Hey everyone! I don't know about you guys, but we've barely had any snow here since a couple days ago.  Our dog is so excited that we finally got some snowy drifts! Everyone was hoping for a snow day on Friday, but since finals are coming up, no one held their breath :)
Anyways, here's some oriental recipes I've been working on the last few weeks...they're both delicious! The 'Fried Rice' is a mixture of long-grain brown rice, wild rice, veggies, and delicious Chinese seasonings...and the Mango Curry Soup is creamy, somewhat spicy, and ridiculously full of flavor.  Check them out!

I wanted a recipe with the flavors of fried rice, but didn't really want to fry anything...so I cooked the rice seperately, sauteed the veggies and seasonings, and mixed 'em together in a big bowl! Honestly, I love this recipe.  It's flavorful and sounds a lot more complicated than it is.  You just have to allow time for the rice to cook and chop your veggies!

Vegan 'Fried' Rice

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1/3 plus 1/4 cup wild rice
2 large carrots, cut into rounds
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
About 1/3 cup of diced onion--maybe 1/3, 1/2 of a medium onion
2 large cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
3/4 tsp. turmeric
3-5 tbsp. tamari (I use the San-J organic brand)
1/2 tsp. dried ginger powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt

First, cook the brown and wild rice in about 2  7/8 cups of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer and cover it with a lid.  Mine had to cook for about 25 minutes until all the water was absorbed, but other people will probably have different times. 
Anyways, once your rice is done cooling, leave it to cool for a while.  Saute the onions in the olive oil in a large pan for about 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and saute as well.  (Be careful not to burn the garlic!) Add the carrots, celery, peas, tamari, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt.  Cook the vegetables all together for about five minutes, until they're soft but still a bit hard (not crunchy, but not limp).  Add to a large bowl with the rice and mix all together.  Taste, and if it needs more flavor, add some more tamari.  Enjoy!

This is so quick, creamy, and super delicious! I love this soup, and it's best served cold--I take a bag of frozen mango and let it thaw in the dehydrator for a while, then blend it while it's still cold.

Mango Curry Soup (makes enough for one big bowl of soup)

2 1/2 cups thawed or fresh mango chunks
1 heaping tablespoon Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (can use another curry paste too)
1 tablespoon chopped yellow onion
A few good shakes of salt

Blend everything until it is super creamy.  If using fresh mango chunks, preferably chill in the fridge for a little bit before serving.  This soup is gorgeous, and can be easily doubled for more people.  I doubled it and gave everyone in my family a small bowl. 
I have lots more coming up soon! Everyone have a great week, and to high schoolers across the nation, good luck on semester exams!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Recipes to come and a delicious smoothie!

Hey! I have a TON of recipes that I've been creating lately to post, including...Spaghetti with Hearty Sauce (this is very delicious and authentic-tasting!), Tomato Cumin Wild Rice Soup, 'Fried' Rice, and more!

For now, here's a absolutely yummy smoothie I made tonight.  Unfortunately, it's a rusty red-brown color, but it is tasty and sweet, and I think that makes up for it!

Deliciously Brown Smoothie
2 cups frozen pineapple
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 ripe banana, peeled
3 cups chard (red, rainbow, or green; or you could sub with kale, spinach, or lettuce)
Optional: I added a teaspoon of bee pollen.
Add enough water to cover the frozen fruit and blend until creamy and the raspberry seeds are pulverized.  Yummy!

Have a great weekend!