Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Divergent

After several months of reading non-fiction books, I decided I needed to freshen things up a bit and begin Veronica Roth's trilogy with the first book, Divergent. My friend lent the first two books to me months ago (the third book is not out yet). Disclaimer- I am a total fan of books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games.  I devour novels on dystopian societies.

This book is great!  I read it in a 48 hour span. I squeezed in a few pages here and there (cooking? why not read to the end of the chapter?). I also camped out two nights in a row from 10-midnight and both nap times were consumed by my reading this book.

If you enjoyed reading the Hunger Games, this book is for you!  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scallion Pancakes

When I was in high school, I loved eating Phu Jee Chinese Cuisine's scallion pancakes. My sister, Cait, got me hooked on them.  I also adore their ginger sauce!  How I miss you Phu Jee's!

When I was pregnant I CRAVED scallion pancakes but for some reason none of the chinese restaurants in North East TN have them. I was baffled!!!  Thank goodness for Vegan Planet; Robin Robertson has done it again, this time with one of my favorite comfort foods. Here is my go-to recipe for these savory, doughy snacks.

I have omitted a few ingredients but this recipe is based off of the recipe from Vegan Planet.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup boiling water (may need more)
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup minced organic scallions or green onions
1 TBSP peanut oil

Place the flour and salt in a food processor. Add 1/4 of the scallions/green onions to the food processor.  Run the machine for 20 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the water through the feed tube adding a little more water, if necessary, until a ball of dough forms. Remove from the food processor, cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Set one aside and cover. On a floured surface, press 1/4 of the scallions into the dough. Kneed a little and then roll into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Brush on 1/2 the sesame oil. Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough ball.

Heat half of the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place one of the pancakes in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Turn once. It should take about 6 or 7 minutes total. Repeat with the remaining peanut oil and pancake.

Cut the pancakes into wedges and serve hot with my favorite ginger dipping sauce.

Ginger Dipping Sauce: 

The ginger sauce MAKES this recipe.  The pancakes don't taste nearly as good without it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Warm Cup O' Chai Tea

I love drinking hot tea in the winter. It really seems to warm me up from the inside out.  I am a huge fan of the chai taste but don't like caffeine. I recently purchased Mountain Rose Herbs Firefly Chai.  It is awesome! At first I simply added the tea in a mesh teaspoon similar to the one HERE and let it steep for a few minutes. The flavor was nice but very subtle.

A friend of mine from India who LOVES chai tea told me to put the tea into the water before it boils and let it warm up and boil for a few minutes to make the tea stronger.  I have been doing this and straining the tea contents out after. The tea tastes amazing! The flavor has really come alive using this method!

Contains: organic Ginger root, organic Cinnamon bark, organic Red Rooibos Tea, organic Cardamom, organic Cloves, organic Nutmeg, and organic Vanilla bean.

Five drops of liquid stevia and a good splash of Unsweetened Almond milk!

Friday, January 25, 2013


I have read in a few articles about the health benefits of Turmeric.  I add it here and there to different dishes and add quite a bit to my curries. At one point I was even stirring 1/2 teaspoon in a glass  of water and chugging it down (ick!).

After reading the Skinny Bitch blog :  I was encouraged to take it daily. Yesterday I took a trip to Earth Fare (it is a store similar to Whole Foods), and purchased some vegetarian capsules ($4.99). I had the turmeric at home and so I filled up those little containers with the good stuff and have been taking it for the last two days.  It was so easy to do and I don't have to suffer through drinking it in a glass.

If you have the time, please check out the This Article on Turmeric!  P.s. The Skinny Bitch Blog does giveaways and has a wealth of information on vegan products, exercise, recipes, etc.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Allison's Kale Dish

My sister gave me this recipe after her coworker, Allison, brought it to work for a potluck. My sister said that everyone LOVED this dish so I figured I would veganize it and try making it myself (I also changed a few things!) Allison's original recipe used Parmesan cheese instead of the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Also, the original recipe did not call for massaging the kale.

1 bunch of organic kale
1 TBSP organic olive oil
Juice from one lemon
1 cup organic golden raisins
1 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon fine black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wash and cut kale into bite size pieces. I like mine to be pretty small.  Put in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the lemon juice.  To make the Kale easier to eat, I massage my kale with my hands. It breaks down the toughness of the kale and makes it so much easier to eat.  I massage it until all the kale feels sort of limp and looks darker in hue.

Add raisins and pine nuts.  In a separate bowl put nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix until evenly distributed.  Sprinkle a little on top of the kale and then stir. Sprinkle more & stir. Keep doing this until all of the nutritional yeast mixture is evenly incorporated into the kale.  I like to add it slowly because then it evenly coats the kale and doesn't clump in one spot (or on the sides of the bowl).

I decided to make sandwiches out of the kale salad to make it a into a meal.  

organic whole wheat pita pockets
one avocado, sliced
organic Tempeh, browned (you can add a sauce while cooking to add more flavor) 
Allison's Kale Salad

Grill the tempeh. I used some left over Ginger Sauce to spicy it up a little. Cut into strips.
Cut the pita in half so that you can fill the inside with yum-tastic food.
Line pita with avocado and tempeh, then stuff as much kale salad inside as you can. Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Seven Layer Delights (aka. Magic Bars)

My mom use to make these when I was growing up. They are sooo delicious.  They really take me back to when I was younger.  I have made these four times since becoming vegan (veganized the recipe). They are not particularly healthy so I try to make them for special occasion only.  We had friends over last night and they LOVED them!

The past two blog posts I wrote about two recipes (gwam crackers & coconut sweetened condensed milk). Both of these recipes are used in the Seven Layer Delight Bars. Check out the previous blogs if you need more info.

1/2 cup Earth Balance (I use the soy free kind)
1 1/4 cups gwam crackers (or store bought vegan graham crackers that are crushed up)
14 oz of sweetened condensed coconut milk
6 oz ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips - the gold bag
6 oz vegan butterscotch chips
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. If you are using a glass baking sheet preheat to 330 F.
Melt Earth Balance. Evenly sprinkle gwam cracker crumbs on bottom of a 9 X 5 pan. Moisten with the melted earth balance and then pat down.
Pour 1/2 of sweetened condensed coconut milk over crumbs. I like to drizzle lightly.
Decorate with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and nuts.
Drizzle remaining sweetened condensed coconut milk over the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool.  I liked to store these in the refrigerator because they harden up and come out in solid squares. At room temperature they tend to be crumbly and messy.

(cue cookie monster voice) -WANT TO EAT THIS PICTUREEEEEE. hahaha

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

I have this one dessert that calls for sweetened condensed milk, but I haven't found a vegan alternative  in the grocery store/health food store yet.  I have tried a few different recipes and found this one to be the best yet.

1 can of full-fat coconut milk (about 14 oz)
1/4 cup of agave nectar  (other options are maple syrup or honey)

Shake can of coconut milk and pour it into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling.  Watch your pot closely and stir constantly with a whisk to prevent burning.

Reduce the heat to low so that your coconut milk is simmering. Add the sweetener, whisk until it is completely dissolved.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using in a recipe.

Can last about a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

I found this recipe online at

I have also seen some recipes double the can of coconut milk and use 1/2 cup of sweetener.

Mine started out white and ended a deep tan color.  I ignored the odd color and enjoyed the tasty goodness. nom nom!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gwam Crackers- Vegan Style

These are yum and the ingredients cost a lot less than buying packaged graham crackers at the store.  Many pre-made graham crackers have a long list of hard to pronounce ingredients, and some contain milk... I figured I would save some $$$ and make some of gwam crackers (it also makes me happy that I can pronounce all of the ingredients).

This is not my recipe. I found it online. Here is a link: 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup oil
2 TBSP molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup rice milk (you may need a little more for standby if it is too dry).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon & salt. Mix. In a separate bowl whisk oil, molasses and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Mix everything well until it is combined and crumbly. Drizzle the milk in and mix. Use your hands to distribute the moisture evenly through the 'dough'.  Add extra rice milk if needed.

I like to have crumbles to make different desserts (gwam pie crusts, or bottom layer to certain desserts). To make crumbles- evenly distribute the crumbles onto the lined cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes. I stir the crumbles and break up any large balls with a fork and bake 7 more minutes.

If you want to make crackers, I roll out the dough and prick with a fork to make them easily breakable. Bake 8 minutes, flip and bake 8 more.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recycled Candle

I ordered a candle from an ETSY seller a few months back. This seller uses organic, soy wax and scents the candles with essential oils.  LOVE IT!  The candle I purchased was in a funky jar (really cool looking, but not so practical for a candle).  I burned it down and there was a TON of wax left on the sides. I didn't want to waste the wax, so I picked it out with a knife (good thing about soy wax, it's super soft). I melted the wax in a sauce pan on low heat.

I had purchased some cotton wick and reused a wick holder from a tea light.  What I did was pinch the wick holder with a pair of plyers. This releases the old wick and then I thread the new wick in and pinch it so that the new wick holds in place. Sometimes I have to use a needle or pin to push the old wick out.

I wound the extra wick onto a pencil and made sure the wick holder was in the middle of the glass container. I poured the warm/liquid wax into the glass jar carefully. After the wax cooled, I trimmed the wick.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Einkorn Crust Pizza

Sorry that I have not posted in a while! The whole family caught the flu and we were very sick. I am feeling so much better now and figured I would post one of my favorite recipes.

I usually make this pizza with 1/2 white flour and 1/2 wheat, but I wanted to try the crust with 100% Einkorn Flour.  This flour is an ancient grain and some people with gluten sensitivity have claimed that it is easier on their tummy. I am not sure if this is true or not; I picked up this flour because it was different and I wanted to give it a try.  Here is more information if you are interested in learning more about Einkorn Flour: 

Ingredients (The Crust):
2 1/2 cups organic Einkorn flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 packet of yeast (or 1 teaspoon of yeast)
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tablespoons organic olive oil

Mix 1 1/4 cup flour with salt and yeast. Then add the 1 cup water and 2 TBSP of oil. Mix well. You can use a mixer too- 30 seconds on low and 3 minutes on high.  I did not want to wash an extra bowl so I just mixed it for 2 minutes with a large wooden spoon. Add remaining 1 1/4 cup of flour. Kneed for 6-8 minutes. I like to have a measuring cup of extra flour nearby in case it sticks to the counter top.  Cover bowl and let rise 45 minutes.

Cover the surface of a large baking pan with lots of corn meal (this prevents sticking and also helps make the crust crispy). Roll out dough and stretch onto pan.

Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Check at 7 minutes to make sure the crust doesn't burn on bottom. Add desired pizza toppings.

Ingredients (The Toppings):
1/2 jar of Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic sauce
1 small can of organic tomato paste
oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
quartered artichoke hearts
5-7 organic mushrooms, chopped
1/2 of a small sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
avocado pieces
Daiya cheddar cheese (This is a non-dairy/vegan cheese. It tastes nom but I do not consider this product healthy. Sometimes we do not have any cheese on our pizza, it just depends on how we are feeling when we are cooking.)

I like to saute my mushrooms, onion and garlic before cooking the pizza. I also pre-mix the Bertolli and tomato paste in a separate pan and add water to get my desired consistency. Add all toppings and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Check bottom of crust at 10 minutes. I also love to add spinach as a topping before putting the red sauce on. Love the added health factor.

The Einkorn flour crust was really good. Crispy and tasty! I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely use it again.