Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Apricot and Blackberry Jam

Okay, honestly I didn't think I'd be making anything blackberry and blog worthy this fast, but how can I refuse when it just happens this way?
Jelly is always smooth, while jam is chunky and has fruit pieces, in case you had any desire to know the difference. Well originally I was going to make apricot jam. However, while I was pitting and dicing the fruit, my little went to town on the whole fruits. So instead of 6 cups of apricots I ended up with 3, so I added blackberries to make 6 cups of fruit. As far as the sugar, you can use the truvia like I did, or you can just use 6 cups of turbinado sugar.
Apricot and Blackberry Jam

3 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped apricots
3 cups blackberries
Juice and zest of 1/2 large lemon or whole small lemon
1/3 cup Truvia sweetener
1.2 oz low sugar or no sugar pectin
3/4 cup Truvia sweetener
1/2 cup sugar, turbinado (it helps cut the sweetener flavor. If you don't mind it, you can skip this)

  • Combine 1/3 cup Truvia with pectin.
  • Stir Apricots, blackberries, lemon juice, zest, and pectin together and put in stockpot. Bring to a hard boil. Stirring shouldn't disperse boil.May take 10-15 minutes.
  • Add remaining Truvia and sugar and bring to a hard boil.
  • Test the thickness of the jam (To do this I have a spoon in a glass of very icy water. I then dip it into the jam and it should be thick after a moment).
  • Fill into jars and can if you like or keep in the fridge. Makes 2 pints and a partial.
See how chunky! Oh and it is so good. I ended up making another slice of toast after I polished these off just so I could eat more jam. Ha!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vegan Mexican Stuffed Shells

Today we went to a pick your own blackberry farm. It was the first time myself, Aubrey, and my husband had ever been. We were at first shy and took a small bucket. We peeked around fruit only taking the biggest and shiniest pieces. Aubrey was even sensing the need to be polite. Until I said, taste one. That girl was sold. We ended up getting a bigger bucket because Aubrey ate them faster then we could pick em. Suddenly it was a race against time and we were picking any black ones that weren't mushy.
One plus I see about a trip like this, is having my child eat wholesome, organic produce at the peak of its freshness. It won't get any fresher then straight off the vine, my friends. However, she has always liked berries. It doesn't matter what kind. Honestly, they don't even have to be sweet, she will eat them anyways.
So I guess now I am going to tell you that I will be working on some vegan blackberry recipes. I am thinking a blackberry pie and some blackberry preserves. I also have been working on a lemon bar recipe. But I have yet to perfect it. What I did do was to make a scrumptious dinner this evening. And you get to see my recipe. I got the idea for the recipe from a fellow food blogger, A Way To His Heart. She and I have one thing in common, we both know that the way to a man is through his stomach. Her shells looked so good, I had to try them, but with a vegan spin.
Vegan Mexican Stuffed Shells.
Now this recipe makes tons, enough for two batches of shells. I only made one batch and am making enchiladas with the leftovers for tomorrow. Just know you can make 40 shells with this recipe and freeze one batch and eat the other.
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
6 mushrooms, sliced
 1 celery stalk, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off
3/4 cup broccoli florets
1 cup pinto beans, cooked
1 small can diced green chiles
1 pound "meat" crumbles (Or you could use cooked lentils which taste just as good and cost alot less)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
20 - 40 jumbo pasta shells, boiled
1/4 pkg silken tofu
1/4 cup tofu sour cream
1 1/2 cup taco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Soy cheese
Green onions, olives, and tofu  sour cream to garnish

  • Saute onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and celery til onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute or two.
  • Add water, squash zucchini, corn, broccoli, beans, chiles, "meat", chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer 10 minutes or til squash is tender.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F and spread a layer  of taco sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish.
  • Boil pasta shells according to directions and drain.
  • Combine tofu and sour cream in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  • After meat mix is finished, take off heat and stir in sour cream mix. Spoon into shells and spread out in dish. Use remaining taco sauce and cover shells. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.
  • After 30 mins, remove foil and spread cheese over shells and bake another 15 mins or until cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with sour cream, green onions, and olives.
 Being vegan doesn't mean missing out on the "good" stuff. It means changing your opinion of the good stuff and allowing yourself to indulge in a way that doesn't negatively affect other living creatures. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I received a compliment I never expected the other day. My mother said I am such a busy person. Wow! I never thought of myself as busy. When I heard it I thought, "Who me?" I am always trying to add up to and compare myself to other moms. Not that I want to be better, but because I feel I have to validate being a SAHM. Raise your hand if you have ever stood there and gave reasons to a working person, how you are valuable by staying at home.
I know my hand is sky high! And then hearing that a fellow mother thinks I am busy, someone who had more children than me. Thinking about it, I realize that I don't need to validate. When I began sewing it was because my pal B did. I was comparing myself to her and her abilities. Then I began looking up stuff online about sewing and found numerous blogs. So I decided I had to blog about sewing because all these other moms were doing it, and if they could make time I surely could right? Suddenly I realized how boring my sewing is because I know nothing about it. Ha! I learned a lot, but never knew how to vocalize it into any kind of readable quality.
Then I stepped away. I thought I was no good because I couldn't sew like others, and I certainly couldn't blog about it. I quit crafting altogether. (Actually you do not want to go into my craft room. It gives me anxiety just walking in.) I felt like I wasn't good enough. I quit trying...
That's when the light came through the clouds. God said "Finally, she gets it!" I wasn't made to be other moms. I wasn't made to be anyone other than me. Everything that has happened this far has been to lead me to where I am right now! Now I am a busy mom. I have a daughter, I'm a full time student, we do gymnastics every week, I workout, I garden daily, I cook most meals from scratch, I go to church, I make time for friends, I have chickens, I have a dog, I clean (when were expecting guests), I'm vegan, I enjoy taking photos, and now I blog. I am the happiest now, than I have been, and it isn't because I'm the best or most awesome at anything. It is because I am so busy being me, that I don't have time being unhappy about everything I'm not. It is such a blessing to finally realize I am becoming who God wants me to be, and quit worrying about the world.

 So I am  going to call these Sammiches. The reason is because my friend, Sam, pushed me onto them. She actually made hers with cheese and minus the apple, but she is a pescatarian (eats fish), and I am vegan. When I altered mine, she thought it was gross. "Apple on a sandwich? Okay?" However, I liked apple in my tuna salad, so I was certain it would taste great on these. My mother in law loved them, and I actually have eaten them three days in a row, happily, for lunch. I was missing sandwiches, but these have filled that void!
2 slices sourdough bread
Your favorite hummus (I like the roased red pepper kind)
Half an avocado, but only because I can't fit the whole thing on it
Thinly sliced tomatoes
Thinly sliced apples (sweet variety like fuji, gala, or red delicious)
Several leaves of lettuce (butter, red leaf, green leaf, romaine, iceberg, whatev)
Salt and Pepper

  • Turn on broil in the oven. Slap down the bread so the outsides are facing up. You only want one side browned. And just brown until it is turning gold, don't toast the whole slice. 
  • Slather hummus on the soft side of bread like you would mayo. I like a very thick layer.
  • Then on one slice lay down the apple, and the tomato on the other slice. This helps them stay in the sammich when you are eating it.
  • Layer your lettuce and avocado on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Slap em together, slice em in half, and eat with gusto!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kale Chips with Lemon Aioli

I know, it is Monday. But I really like Mondays. My husband is generally off Mondays. Usually, we end up doing a project, going somewhere fun, or spend the day lounging. It is fun, because most of the world is busy on Mondays which means when I go to the Arboretum with my family, it isn't crowded. Its actually quiet. Same thing with any place we decide to go. So while the rest of the world whines about how crappy Mondays are, I silently smile and find joy in the least liked day of the week.
Today is actually a really big milestone for my family. We have been Vegan for 30 days with only one screw up each. I was baby sitting late and all they had was cheese pizza for dinner, and my husband caved and had a flatbread sandwich with feta cheese. So I would say our month goal was a complete success! I have learned so much about cooking without meat, how to meal plan when meat is no longer the focus, and how to enjoy new veggies and grains I had never given a chance.
I want to share my reasons for going vegan with the world. Honestly, we have found it to be quite rewarding and are planning on maintaining veganism 95% of the time, and NOT feel guilty when we screw up or curb to a craving that has been nagging at us. Here is a list:
  1. Saving lives... I love animals and the biggest motivator for me is when I learned how many animals are slaughtered yearly. Then we lack the decency to eat the meat and throw away millions of pounds a year that never got eat. 
  2. Health... Chris had high cholesterol this month of last year. His doctor was talking about putting him on Staten drugs and he is only 28. After 3 weeks of being vegan, he was retested and his cholesterol was in the normal range. What an achievement. Doctors words "Keep up whatever you are doing because it is working."  
  3. The environment... People roll their eyes when I say this. Really. But we as humans are outnumbered by livestock meant for slaughter. Which means they are making more poo then us. Only we don't treat theirs and maintain clean water systems. Instead all that waste is sent to cesspools where it accumulates algae and bacteria. Then when it rains, that dirty water leaks out and finds its way into the groundwater and eventually into our drinking water. YUCK.  
There are plenty of other reasons that are motivating factors to make the switch. I plan on doing some reviews of   books I red and will read. That has been the biggest factor in helping my family maintain. Watching documentaries an reading books adds to our knowledge and knowledge is power. So if you want to do something get your butt motivated and do it! Stop wasting time on the couch saying "I wish I could..." because it will never happen that way.

Lecture over. Now for some tasty Kale Chips! These actually do a very good job of replacing potato chips. I know you are thinking "But Andie, potato chips are vegan..." Uh yeah, but also chocked full of fat and will clog your arteries. Kale is the new potato people, get on the bandwagon!
Kale Chips with Lemon Aioli
1/2 bunch of kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Veganaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Pull the ribs out of the kale. Don't worry about mutilating the kale. Then cut the kale into 2x2 inch strips
  • Place kale and olive oil in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir to coat.
  • Lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Try to keep it thin because if it piles up you will end up with some burnt and some soggy kale. It isn't rocket science but do take a minute to even it out.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and stir it a little and bake a few more if needed. I like mine extra crispy.
  • While that is baking stir together you veganaise and lemon juice and season as you like it.
  • When the chips come out of the oven serve immediately and dip into your aioli. 
These are tangy and salty. I honestly made them two days in a row. By the way, this recipes will only serve two and you may still crave more. At least that's how it goes in our house!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vegan Sweet Potato Pasta Salad

Happy Mother's Day! I hope it was a great day for all you mother's. I know I enjoyed it. Church hosted a Parent/Child Dedication service today. We dedicated our little Aubrey. I think it was more fun for us then her. She was quite upset she couldn't have a donut until after the service. Seriously, when I tell her we are going to church, she puts on this real mischievous grin and says "Donuts?" All that girl thinks about is sweets. Her newest thing is being a princess. The child will place her hands on her hips, flip her hair, and say "Mommy, I'm pretty!" and she is only 2... Huh... 16 is going to be fun.
Well my Mother's day was jam packed. Woke up to breakfast in bed. Got ready for church, after that we took my mother-in-law to lunch at this awesome vegan place! Had a grilled portabello wrap, YUM! Next up, we headed home for a nap. I love my naps! Seriously, Chris probably thinks all I do is snack, watch tv, and nap, but at least I always have dinner on the table. That may be the only reason he lets me stay home.
Now for the good stuff! This one, I made after a long day filled with slacking. I was supposed to get the housework done, but instead I spent 5 hours at my cousin's and let Aubrey play with her little girl. So, needless to say I had to cook something fast to ensure dinner in a timely manner. Get ready to lick your lips, cause this stuff is so good. Honestly, I do recommend it.
Sweet Potato Pasta Salad
1 large sweet potato, large dice
1/2 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 head broccoli, florets and slice stalk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 zucchini sliced
1/2 yellow squash sliced
1 1/2 cup black beans, cooked (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 box quino veggie curls pasta
2 large handfuls fresh spinach

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Put sweet potato in a bowl and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat and put on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stir half way. Should be fork tender.
  • Boil pasta as stated in the directions. Try the quinoa pasta. I get it inexpensively at Sprouts or Whole Foods. After it is boiled, strain.
  •  In a saute pan, add onions carrots, and mushrooms. (I don't use oil because onions are full of it which is why I cry like a baby when I chop them) After onions are translucent, add broccoli, squashes, beans, garlic, and 1/4 cup water. Stir often, don't cover. Should cook up and become tender. 
  • In another bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, dry mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk well. I prefer to put it in a little tupper ware bowl so I can put the lid on and shake it up. I also always make lots because it stays fresh in the fridge a long time. Make sure to taste test. My vinegar to oil ratio preference may be way different than yours.
  • I a BIG bowl, combine the veggies, sweet potatoes, and the pasta. Add in the dressing. Half first, then more if needed. Stir in the spinach last. It will wilt a little. Serve warm. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast if you need the "cheese" effect.
Eat as much as you want. There will be leftovers. Serve with wine. I had reisling, but I think sauvignon blanc may be better. The reisling was too sweet.The best part about cooking at home, is that there are no rules. If you don't like a vegetable, then change it. I am not going to hunt you down if you decide asparagus or frozen peas would be better. So experiment and make some good food! That is what it is all about anyways right? Eat, live, and be merry.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vegan Veggie Enchiladas

Egads!!! So school is out for a whole summer. Finally I can pause and take a breath. For me, having school, being mommy, and keeping the house up is a task. I think if I were more scheduled and organized it might work a little more smoothly. And maybe I'll feel more productive. I hate feeling like all I do is cooking and dishes followed by more cooking and more dishes. You know what I mean?

So, new things in my life.... We went completely vegan 24 days ago. Cold turkey, errr celery??? (Because we don't eat turkey haha!) I have attempted being vegetarian on multiple occasions  but never had enough umph! to make it. However, I have a feeling this will stick. I will post more on our transition to veganism later... or will I?? Also, Aubrey is all signed up for swim classes. She has been doing gymnastics for a few months and finally loves it. She even knows the building whenever we drive past. She says "Nastice" Lol Close girlfriend.

Ohhhhh, and my little point and shoot camera was left out by my dear hubby last October. It hailed that night. All of the pictures after that came out blurry and the video no longer worked. So for mother's day this year, I got a new camera! Its a fancy-shmancy SLR with all the bells and whistles. Oh here's a pic!
And that is my "I'm sexy and I know it look!" I have gapped teeth at the front which look fine in person, but I'm incredibly self-conscious about in pictures (same thing about the backs of my knees, sole reason I won't buy shorts except for when I'm working out), so I usually either cheese it up big time or smirk because I think I'm too cool. So feel free to crack a joke about my ridiculous face. But the camera is sweet! And it totally makes up for the stupid face.

So Aubrey is getting big. She is 2 and 4 months. Says full sentences like "Mommy you no fit" which hurts when she is talking about an entire park. Also, she knows all the animal noises I can think of. She even tells jokes. Here's one:

Aubrey: Say knock knock.
Me: Knock Knock!
Aubrey: Says who?
Me: Cow
Aubrey: Mooooooo

She can do this for all the animals, and gets frusterated if I miss a few. She can also sing along to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" "Wheels On The Bus" and "Love is Strange" I know it is from Dirty Dancing but it was all I could think of when she was a baby and she still requests it every single night and sings it loud and proud to her baby dolls. 

On another note, I came up with a "recipe." Really what happened was I made tacos. I had so much left over that we ate them for lunch twice and dinner once and were getting sick of them. So, I made enchiladas. They were so good I almost slapped myself. Chris actually said "Mmmm make these again?" And I said "I'mma eat these every day!" So without further ado!
Andie’s Vegan Veggie Enchiladas

·         3 cups water
·         2 cups brown rice
·         1 onion, diced
·         8 oz sliced mushrooms
·         2 large carrots, diced
·         4 garlic cloves, minced
·         1 small zucchini, diced
·         1 small summer squash, diced
·         1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
·         2 Tbsp chili powder
·         1 tsp cumin
·         1 tsp basil
·         1 Tbsp brown rice miso stirred into a small amount of water
·         10 tortillas, I like whole wheat
·         1 Tbsp vegan butter
·         1 can green enchilada sauce, I like Hatch mild from Whole Foods in a yellow can
·         ½ cup shredded soy cheese (optional)
·         ¼ cup ground cashews

1. Put water and rice in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat and cover, let simmer for 20 mins. After 20 minutes, turn off heat, leave covered and let sit at least another 10 minutes, I just leave it until I’m ready for it. 

2. In a hot skillet, add your onions, mushrooms, and carrots. I don’t use any oil because onions will make plenty and you will deglaze the pan later. Saute until onions are transparent.

3. Add garlic, zucchini, squash, beans,  ½ cup water, chili powder, cumin, and basil. Let simmer until squash is tender, about 5-7 minutes. After you remove from heat stir in miso.

* So I stopped here and made these into tacos because it will make a lot. We did tortillas with rice, veggies, added some fresh lettuce, diced tomatoes, and avocados with a side salad. Then we used the leftovers for our enchilada filling.

4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Smear butter on glass 13x9 dish. 

5. Roll the tortillas with a line of rice, veggie mix, and a sprinkle of soy cheese. Then lay them in the pan seam side down and smush’em close. Do this until the pan is full. We got 10 but it depends on what size tortillas you use and how full you fill em.

6. Once your tortillas are all rolled, pour enchilada sauce on top. Sprinkle with soy cheese and ground cashews. Pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes until cashews are lightly browned and the smell is more then you can bear! 

Let me know if you make em and how you like em! What favorite foods are traditionally meat you would like to see veganized?