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Creamy Tomato Soup – The Vegan Way

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a box (two cartons) of almond milk.  I noticed a recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup on the box and peeled it off…

The recipe is available here.

It was so easy to prepare, and the aroma of fresh herbs made my home smell like those of good moms and wives…you know…the kind who actually cook dinner more than once a week.  🙂

I doubled the recipe so I would have lunch a few days this week.

Monday’s breakfast and lunch, prepped Sunday night. Go me!

My finished product didn’t look as red as the picture on the site, but the taste…oh my…so delicious and BETTER than the Campbells version I’d grown up eating but can no longer have because of my lactose-intolerance / vegan lifestyle.

I highly recommend this recipe.

I’d also recommend that if you’re looking for new recipes, check out Silk’s site (link was posted above).  I perused, quickly, and this site might just turn me into a cook after all.  🙂

Vegan Crock Pot Cooking

I’ve been doing more cooking lately…ever since I finished my ESOL Endorsement.

Specifically, I’ve been cooking a lot of vegan dishes in my crock pot.

Around Christmas, my friend, Christina, told me about a Kindle book that was being offered free of charge for a short time.

It was this book…

I’ve tried a few recipes from it, and oh word!  They have been delicious!

Spicy Tomato Lentils (needed more vegetable broth but delicious)

Spicy Tomato Lentils

White Bean Chili

Mexican Minestrone – Probably my favorite so far!

Refried Bean Bake – A short cooking time that was delicious with chips!!

Veggie Casserole – The spinach cooked down…yum!

Yesterday, I made Cajun Kidney Beans and Rice.  Oh my word!!!  This dish was packed with so much flavor!  It makes a lot, so I’ll be eating on it all week!

Cajun Kidney Beans and Rice

Cajun Kidney Beans and Rice

People always wonder what I eat since I don’t partake of any animal products.

As you can see, being vegan doesn’t mean you have to suffer for lack of flavorful dishes!

Like a Ninja

Last summer, when I began my adventure into vegan baking, I ran into a snafu.

I burned out the motor of my food processor…all while making some sort of peanut butter dessert.

I put this item on my Christmas list and, lo and behold, the in-laws gave me one!

Of course, they always go all out when they purchase gifts, for which I’m appreciative because their diligence ensures that the gifted items have five-star ratings and won’t tear up after one or two uses.

I was excited when I unwrapped the Ninja Kitchen System.

Here’s what it looked like when I unpacked it from the box…

Oh word, but look at all of those blades…BIG ones…and bowls (there’s a small one inside the larger one).

One of the things I had decided to do when the new year began was tighten up my eating habits.  Although I don’t eat too badly, I had begun to slip…eating more fries and things with sugar in them.  The roll that’s been growing around my middle is evidence of that, and having the poor body image that I do, I need to fix things.

The Ninja came with a small recipe book, so I decided to try my hand at one…Pineapple Banana Swirl…

I’ll admit that I am not a fan of smoothies.  I don’t like the texture of fruit mashed up, but this recipe wasn’t bad.  I’m going to stick to eating my fruit though.

I also made my black bean soup and had a lot of fun chopping up the onions, celery, and jalapeno peppers.

I’ve gotta say that this system is the BEST I’ve ever used, and though I don’t cook often, I have been married over twenty years and have used a lot of products.

If you’re in the market for a new blender/chopper system, you won’t go wrong with this!

I was not paid to write this.  I’m simply bragging about a positive experience with a product.  🙂

Chickpea Stew

A couple of days ago, the Mr’s mom sent me a recipe for Chickpea Stew.  It sounded good, so I didn’t waste any time mixing up a pot.

I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth that was originally in the recipe.

I’m posting the recipe below the picture.  Instead of plum tomatoes, I used one can of diced tomatoes.

The next time I make this, I will not add the parsley.  The cooking I’ve done this summer has taught me about spices and herbs, and I have a better idea of what I like and don’t like.  Parley tastes a bit like kale to me, so I think I’ll leave it off next time.

Other than that, this is a delicious recipe!  If you are serving more than four people, double the recipe.  It is very easy to prep for, and cook time is under thirty minutes.  It is a hearty stew that leaves bellies full and satisfied.

Enjoy!

CHICKPEA STEW 

2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. dried thyme
1 C diced (1/4″) red onion
1 t. honey
2 T. finely minced garlic
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. ground cumin
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place olive oil in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion, stirring occasionally until wilted, about 12 minutes.  Add garlic during the last 2 minutes.  Stir in cumin and cook 2 minutes more to mellow the flavors.

Add chickpeas, tomatoes with juices, thyme, honey, lemon juice, broth, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.  Adjust seasonings and stir in the parsley.

Serves 4.

This is What I Get for Cooking

Shortly before Chicky returned to school, I began cooking again.  In my desire to obtain some sort of balance between home and work, I am determined to do my guys right and provide meals for them on a regular basis.

I am on a roll, I am happy to say, and have cooked more than two meals in a week.

Go me!

Thankfully, Chicky has a “Nom Nom” Pinterest board, and I’ve done a bit of stalking.

Well, actually I stalk her all over the internet, but, as any loving, caring mother will admit, that’s just what we do.

Anyhoo…

I found a recipe for Firecracker Chicken, and after seeing that I had all of the ingredients except for the hot sauce, I decided to give it a try.  The Mr. picked up the sauce on the way home from work, and I was all set.

It is a fairly simple dish to prepare, but it does take a bit of time to bake, so it’s not something you can whip up at the last minute.

First, I browned the chicken.

This is where I ran into a slight problem.

I don’t know what happened, but the oil in the pan popped more than it ever has when I’ve cooked before (I used to cook almost every night when the kiddos were younger).

I actually yelled out in pain as a couple of splashes of oil hit my arm and thumb.

I sucked it up, finished the dish, and when all was said and done, my guys RAVED about it.

In fact, Rooster ate this chicken for leftovers several meals in a row…without even warming it up.

Because the recipe calls for hot sauce and brown sugar, it’s a blend between spicy and sweet.

I think that the next time I make it, I’ll cover my arms with something so that I am not tortured with blisters like the ones you see in the following pictures (they are filled with water, which you can’t see but is there nonetheless)…

Day 1 of Two Days of Cooking Dinner

I surprised my family this past week by cooking two nights in a row.

No, hell hath not frozen over, for those of you who lean towards being sarcastic.

😛

Wednesday night, I knew I wanted to make chicken fingers.  The Mr. and Rooster absolutely love them; this is the only dish they will eat left over.

I hopped over to Google to find some sort of different batter and found the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Homemade Chicken Strips.

Because I’m a huge fan of The Food Network, I’ve noticed that most people soak their chicken in buttermilk before applying the breading and frying.

The Mr. is lactose-intolerant, so this has never been a viable option for me.

Because I’ve been doing so much vegan baking, however, I’ve learned that I can create “vegan” buttermilk by mixing a small amount of apple cider vinegar with soy milk and set it aside to curdle.

So, this is what I did and then followed the Pioneer Woman’s instructions carefully.

Here was the result of my efforts…

Look at that breading!!  Pretty, isn’t it?

To accompany the chicken, I made Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary.  I had a bag of potatoes that was a day or two from having to be thrown out.  They weren’t red, but I said what the heck.  I also didn’t have fresh rosemary, so I used dry herbs.  What a super easy side dish to make!!!  They turned out crispy, and the taste was the perfect blend of garlic and herbs.  Yum!

Dinner probably took about an hour to put together.  This is one I will definitely duplicate during the school year when time is at a premium!

 

Tofu Scramble – Undistinguishable from Non-Vegan Food

While perusing Chicky’s cooking board on Pinterest, I came across a site that has a number of links to vegan-friendly dishes.

I was drawn to the Tofu Scramble recipe because I had tofu in the refrigerator, and I knew I needed to cook it.

I added quite a few veggies…mushrooms, a sliced onion, basil (my new favorite herb), garlic, green pepper, and fresh tomato chunks.

Tumeric is the spice that gives this dish its yellow color.  I’d never owned tumeric before beginning my odyssey into cupcake baking.

I grew excited as I was cooking this dish.  It resembled scrambled eggs, which I haven’t eaten in ages.

The taste was quite flavorful, with all of the veggies playing a role in the chorus that sang in my mouth.

From the looks of it, the link provided when you click on Tofu Scramble (above) contains many recipes that look both do-able and delicious.

As always, I’ll keep you posted when I try something new!

Traveling Through the Hodgepodge

Joyce’s questions have a decidedly “travel” theme to them this week.  This seems appropriate given that it’s the middle of July.  Remember to post your own answers on your blog and link up with Joyce!

1.  Picture postcards were first printed back in the mid-1800’s and deltiology is the official name for postcard collecting. When did you last send a postcard?  Receive one? Do you save postcards sent to you? Do you collect and/or send postcards when you travel?

I think I last sent a postcard on the first cruise I went on several years ago.  We were back way before the cards arrived, which is why I don’t send them anymore.  I can’t say that I ever receive them, so I really don’t collect them.  I do like the way that postcards capture an area’s scenic areas.  The cards are a great way to remember where you’ve been!

2.  What treat do you most like to indulge in while on vacation?

I treat myself to yarn when I travel.  I believe it’s my mission to visit any and every yarn store that exists in whatever location I’m visiting.  Purchasing a skein or two serves as a souvenir of the place.  😀

3.  Are you good at hiding your feelings?

I have been told, ever since I was a wee thing, that I wear my feelings on my sleeve.  Yes, I do, and those feelings are reflected on my face.  I am not a good actress, I’m afraid.  While I’ve often loathed this trait, I believe it helps me stay transparent, which is a trait that isn’t all that bad.  People know where they stand with me at all times.  I am soooo not a fake person.  I couldn’t be, even if I wanted to.

4.  Does your town/city/county still deliver telephone books to your home? Do you check the yellow pages when searching for a local business number or has the internet replaced the phone book in your home?

Podunk, USA does, indeed, still deliver phone books.  I keep them in a drawer in the kitchen and have, from time to time, referred to them.  I do prefer, however, to use the internet to look up numbers.  It’s so much easier and usually more up-to-date.

Funny story related to this topic.  Many years ago, when Chicky had just begun elementary school, I read an ad that I could make extra money delivering phone books.

No problem, I thought.

Oy vey!

It was one of the dirtiest, most physically exhausting jobs I ever did.

I got assigned the task of delivering to the apartment complex I lived in.

It was three stories, and the stairs were outside.

Delivery took place in the middle of the summer.

I stuck with my commitment.  It took me a few days to deliver the load I’d picked up.

It was a miserable experience that was not worth the measly paycheck.

When I returned the paperwork, I was asked if I wanted another load.

Oh, heck no!

LOL

5.  Would you rather be first or last?

This would depend on the task.  To be first means that you don’t mind taking a risk or being a guinea pig.  Last week, I attended my district’s Common Core training.  It was the first session offered this summer.  It.  Was.  Interesting.  Yeah.

I think my cautious nature would have me leaning toward being the last if given the choice.  I like to observe what others have done and learn from their mistakes.

6.  July is National Park and Recreation Month (in America, but everyone can still play along)…where and when were you last in a park?  Did you participate in any recreational activities while you were there?

The last time I was in a national park was probably when I drove through one to take Chicky to a soccer tournament.

I am not an outdoorsy kind of gal.  Nature is pretty…to a point.  I don’t feel as though I’m missing out on anything by not hanging around and participating in activities.

7.  What was one of your worst ideas?

Look back at my answer to #4.

😀

8.  My Random Thought

I just made this…Blow Your Mind Tomato Basil Pasta…for the second time.  This time, I added a thinly-sliced green pepper and sliced mushrooms.  I also doubled the number of cans of diced tomatoes.

Holy cow!  This is such a delicious and EASY recipe…throw it in and you have dinner ten minutes later.  No.  Kidding.  The recipe can be found here.

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes – Vegan Friendly!

As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I purchased this book…

I paid more than I should have…purchased it locally instead of online where I could have gotten a better deal.

BUT…

It has been worth every penny!

Last week, I made the mint chocolate cupcakes.

They had turned out extremely well.

Last night, I went for something that everyone would like…Golden Vanilla Cupcakes.

I made them “very” golden by adding tumeric, as the recipe suggested.  For the record, I found this spice at Target.  It was the ONLY place I could find it!  The cupcakes did, indeed, come out of the oven looking golden.

The icing for the mint cupcakes from the week before had turned out a bit too wet, so I was nervous this go-round.

This time I made the Vanilla Buttercream frosting.  I had even purchased non-hydrogenated margarine and shortening…vegan of course.

I followed the instructions EXACTLY and grew excited when I tasted it.

It was so sweet and…get this…LIGHT…just as the recipe described it.

I was able to use the icing contraption I’d purchased from Pampered Chef.  It came with several different tips.

The icing was the perfect consistency!

The most fun part was adding the Rich Ganache (there’s a special extra something in there to make it “rich” in nature) on top.

I wanted to drizzle it, but my usage of a fork and then a spoon proved horrible looking.

Chicky suggested I pour it into a baggie and snip the corner.

Genius idea!

The ganache was thinner than the buttercream frosting, so the icing contraption would not have sufficed.  The baggie worked beautifully!

I decorated all but one this way.  The Mr. didn’t want buttercream on his, so I only put ganache on that one.

I was eager for the family to try them given my preview of the icing.

Rooster had a friend over.  This friend’s mom is well known for her cooking, so I was nervous.

From the picture below, you can see that there weren’t many cupcakes left over after the first round of eating…

Chicky was amazed, once again, at the texture.

Both this and the mint chocolate cupcakes turned out moist and light.

The buttercream icing could not have turned out better.  It paired perfectly with the ganache.

If you’re looking for a healthier way of eating desserts, I highly recommend this book.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Yesterday, Chicky and went to the bookstore where I picked up this book…

The book has a lot of helpful information, including the why’s of using certain ingredients, the how-to-fix-boo-boos tips and tricks, and lots of other helpful suggestions.

I couldn’t wait to begin!

Now, you do know that I do not cook very often.  In fact, I avoid it like the plague; however, I’ve gotten tired of not getting dessert.  Chicky has been cooking quite a bit and indulging her sweet tooth…making delicious yummies for the guys.  I decided to take matters into my own hands!

For my first recipe, I went all out and made Chocolate Mint Cupcakes.  Chicky and I visited the grocery store and picked up a few items…

I began by making the basic chocolate cupcakes that are found near the front of the book.  We didn’t have toothpicks, so we used a fork to test for doneness.

While these cooled, I made the mint icing.  It turned out too thin, but I think that I can fix this by adding less milk next time.  You’ll see, in the picture below, that the icing ran all over the tops of the cupcakes.  No worries.  I’ll work on presentation later.

😀

The final step in this recipe was making the chocolate ganache.

Oh word, but I’d heard this word before on The Food Network, but I’d never actually eaten it, not to mention cooked it.

It was soooo easy…just soy milk and chocolate chips!  Seriously!

I put a dollop of ganache on the top of each mint-iced cupcake.

Then, it was time to try one.

Have you ever watched Cupcake Wars?  I have.  Plenty of times.  Which is how I learned about vegan cupcakes.

I felt a little like Florian as I sniffed my cupcake before carefully peeling the liner off.

I did not, however, eat the cupcake with a fork.

I am a redneck; hence, I am not quite that refined.

I did notice that the texture looked good.

And then the first bite.

Oh.

My.

Golly.

It was everything I’d hoped for and then some.

I had worried about the cupcakes being completely cooked.  Chicky had assured me, in her all-cooking-know-how-way that they would continue to cook a bit in the muffin pan.

It was cooked perfectly!

And the taste?

I’d also worried about the mint being too overpowering; however, it was perfectly balanced with the taste of the chocolate.

The ganache on top made for that extra umph that my mouth had been craving for so long.

Lord have mercy!

I do not think that anyone would be able to distinguish these cupcakes from non-vegan ones.

Who says you need eggs and regular milk?

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to be deprived from tasty food…even if you do have to make it yourself sometimes.

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