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from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 1/2 c cooked or canned chickpeas
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Braggs
2 c vegetable stock
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 c fresh parsley, minced

In a large soup pot on medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, and carrots in oil until the onions are translucent. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cumin, mustard, cayenne, pepper, vinegar, Braggs, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots become tender. In a blender or food processor, blend 1/2 of the soup and tahini until smooth (be careful when blending hot liquids); return to pot. Stir in parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Here is a list of reasons that this is my new favorite soup.
1. Sun-dried tomato chunks.
2. Beans!
3. I love the opportunity to use my immersion blender.
4. Perfect balance of sweet and savory. I think the fire-roasted tomatoes really added to that.
5. Thick and stew-like; with just a bit less vegetable stock, it could be a rice topper. (Beans and rice!)
6. The rest of the chunks. Not just of sun-dried tomatoes, but of the carrots and bean too.
7. It’s good for you!

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Decadent Brownies

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 c dry sweetener
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c soy milk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c nuts (your choice), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sweetener, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the soy milk, oil, and nuts. Stir gently until “just mixed.” Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8-16 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

I didn’t set out to make two batches of brownies… it’s just that the first recipe really didn’t scratch the brownie itch I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the above recipe was indeed tasty and well received by my house guests, but they were too cakey for this dense brownie lovin’ girl. They were just like chocolate cake… granted I haven’t made a lot of brownies in my life, but would you peep that tower of a brownie? Looming over my Coconut Bliss was not how I’d pictured my dessert. I opted out of the nut invitation, due to allergies among our guests, and they were still tasty. I would definitely return to this recipe when seeking out a smaller chocolate cake. On to the batch of brownies I made later that week for a friend’s birthday celebration:

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Midnight Brownies (a variation of the Espresso Fudge Brownies recipe)

3 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
5 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c nondairy milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
2 tbsp black cocoa powder (I couldn’t find this so I used regular cocoa powder)
a pinch of salt

Line an 8×8-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom of the covered pan with a little nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a large glass mixing bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the chocolate is soft enough to melt into the melted margarine when stirred with a rubber spatula. Stir until smooth, add the sugar, and stir again to combine.

In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk together the nondairy milk, cornstarch, and vanilla until foamy. Stir this into the chocolate mixture, using the rubber spatula, until completely combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture until moistened. A few small lumps are okay; do not over-mix. Scrape the batter- getting as much as possible- into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs (but no gooey batter). Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, if possible allowing the brownies to cool completely before serving. Slice into 12 brownies. Store in a tightly covered container.

Now THESE are what I was after. No cakiness here, the few crumbs are sticky and dense. No frosting or Coconut Bliss needed (though still welcomed. Especially heavenly with this, ungh!). And they would be really good with walnuts, if that happens to be your style. Next time I might try the mint variation offered.
This was quite the learning experience- comparing the recipes is really interesting to me- the wet to dry ingredient ratio should have been more obvious to me, but now I know! Each brownie had her strengths. Tall girl was great for soaking up her melting toppings, whereas Shortie satisfied me like the many slices of berry pie, oranges and tall glasses of herbal iced tea did while I was pregnant. And if you’ve ever been pregnant…

from How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

4-5 medium potatoes, cubed
1/8 c olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced (Eek! I only had 5. The shame!)
2 tsp sage
2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the cubed potatoes in a medium bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Lay evenly onto a cookie sheet or lasagna pan and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown and can be easily pierced with a fork. Makes 4-6 servings.

I’ve been craving a good Breakfast For Dinner for some time now, but since I’m so into having Breakfast For Breakfast as well, I can’t really in good conscience bring myself to make pancakes for dinner. Where would I get my veggies for the day? I tend to get most of my veggies in the afternoon and evening meals. I’m just not a Green Smoothie For Breakfast kind of gal like my sister is, unless I’m visiting her and she’s the breakfast maker. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it! So I broke down and bought the bag of little yellow potatoes, those buttery little gems that I tend to eat way too many of. Then I found this simple recipe…. which could be changed in so many different ways for different veggies or flavors. Like I said, I didn’t have enough garlic, but they were still really good! I used fresh rosemary and sage, perhaps 2-3 times what it called for, and it was perfect. I also used really chunky sea salt. Yum! The amount of oil called for is perfect. Just enough to coat the taters without making them greasy.
Now, what to pair my potatoes with? I came up with this super tasty scramble using the BEST VEGAN CHEESE SUBSTITUTE. EVER. Bean and I found it while we visited her in the Bay Area, and I hoped that I’d find it at my local grocer, and I did! On sale! It’s now a fridge staple. It’s so melty and stretchy, as promised on the package. Plus, it’s soy and gluten-free, so I can enjoy it with my sister! I’ve been making quesadillas with it, and even made pizza last night. BOMB!!! Thank you Daiya, you’ve changed my life. I just need to exercise twice as much as I did before in order to keep things in balance. Look at this beautiful bag (no kitty, you can’t have any) and forgive my ever fading light as the summer goes away:
Here’s my scramble recipe. It’s simple and easy and also adaptable.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into small slices
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 16-oz package soft or medium tofu
1 c halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 c Daiya mozzarella style shreds
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped if desired (but save a little sprig for garnish if you like things fancy!)

Drain the tofu package of water. Over a bowl, wrap the tofu in a clean tea towel or paper towels and squeeze the excess water out. Crumble and squeeze at the same time. Isn’t that a satisfying feeling? Empty the bowl of the tofu water, then unwrap the towel and set the tofu crumbles in it. Set the bowl aside. In a large pan, heat the oil on medium and add the onions, cook until they start to turn translucent. Add the peppers and cook for another few minutes, until they start to get a bit soft. Now toss in the tofu, tomatoes, “cheese,”  and capers; cook and stir until the “cheese” melts. It blends right in with the tofu! Lower the heat and stir in the basil- you don’t want to cook it, just wilt it. Put it on a plate alongside your beautiful potatoes, mark it with the fancy sprig of basil and enjoy! Serves 4.

from How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Flax Seed Crackers:
1/2 c flax seeds
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp margarine or vegetable shortening
1 tsp dried oregano (optional), or
onion powder (optional), or
dried dill (optional)
1/2 c soy milk

Preheat oven to 325F. (I’d wait to preheat until the dough is done chilling. Unless it takes a LONG time for your oven to get warm…) In a food processor or with your hands, blend together the flax seeds, flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, and optional spices until well mixed. Place in a medium bowl and slowly add the milk. Mix and knead together until dough forms a bowl. Chill dough for 10-20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. In between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll out the dough very thinly to form a rectangle. Cut into 6 squares, or use cookie cutters. Repeat with the remaining dough. Transfer the crackers onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 5 minutes more. Makes 24 crackers.

Garlic Dill Cream Cheese:
1 c soft or medium tofu
1/4 c cashew pieces
2 tsp sweetener
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (you know I went for 5!)
1-2 tbsp water (I ended up needing closer to 4, to keep my blender going)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried dill

In a blender or food processor, blend together all the ingredients until smooth and thick. Place in sealable container. Will keep in the fridge for 4-7 days. Makes approx. 1 cup.

So, this was my first adventure in cracker baking. It was pretty fun! I doubled both recipes, because over the weekend we were expecting a few visitors, and I do like to have something to offer…. plus, I haven’t covered any savory snacks in the blog so far. I made the cream “cheese” while the crackers baked, and the entire production took about an hour. For the crackers, I didn’t add any of the flavorings, because I wanted to put jam on some of them, so they were very basic. I might sprinkle salt on top of them before putting them in the oven next time, but I am a total salt freak. I might have rolled the crackers too thick, as I’m likely to do with cookies. I used a baking mat and cling wrap for the rolling production, because I don’t have wax paper… maybe that was part of my problem? I think it worked out well anyway. These little slabs were the perfect vehicles for the cream cheese… which was SO ZIPPY due to that raw garlic! Glad I played it safe and stayed within the given range of cloves; I figured I should since it was such a wide one. The spread was quick to make, aside from having to keep adding a little water at a time to keep things blending… this stuff would be great on a sandwich, and I also used it as a topper to a scramble for our dinner last night. Super tasty! I’ll definitely be making this again, perhaps without the crackers though. They disappeared too fast.

from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

5 large stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
4-5 c cooked spiral pasta
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 tbsp Braggs
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c snow peas, cut into thirds
6-10 cherry tomatoes, whole or halved
3/4 c tofu mayonnaise (I used Vegennaise)

In a medium saucepan, steam the asparagus until it is slightly tender. Rinse under cold water and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the cooked pasta, asparagus, basil, Braggs, red pepper, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, and mayonnaise and toss well. Makes 4-6 servings.

I looooooooove this series of cookbooks. I also have How it all Vegan! and La Dolce Vegan and the recipes are quite simple. They were very helpful while I was getting comfortable in the kitchen as a new vegan. They offer explanations of hidden animal ingredients, and some of the books even have fun little crafts that you can do with household items (think ReadyMade magazine). This salad was really quick and easy to make, and could be a meal in itself, especially if you added a little sauteed then cooled seitain! Yum! We took this over to my parents’ house last night, and they enjoyed it as well (even though my dad doesn’t like bell peppers or think much of basil…). This is a recipe that would do just fine if you were to choose different veggies, but I really loved the snow peas, and would never ditch those.

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