Friday, December 31, 2010

Going Bananas for My First Blogiversary

Happy (almost) New Year!

Last night while reflecting on 2010, I decided to go to my first few blog posts. In doing so, I discovered that yesterday was actually my official blogiversary. I guess it was pretty appropriate that I had just baked a batch of special cookies. So, STAVE & my lovely readers, these peanut butter banana chocolate chip dough balls are for you. Thank you for being a creative outlet that has turned into so much more for me. And to all my readers, thank you for being there. Every comment and simple visit to my site mean so much to me. I am so grateful for this wonderful community and all the amazing people that make it what it is (bloggers and readers alike)!

2011 will be a year for many things, one of which being a super exciting switch to my own domain. Yes, my friends, Sweet Treats and Vegan Eats now has its own website! I hope you will all follow me there as I hope to start posting in the next few days.

This switch has been a long time in the making, and I have changed my mind more than a few times. With the new year approaching, I finally decided that the new blog would also mean a new start. Of course STAVE will still be a place for delicious food, but it will also be somewhat of a blank canvas.

But where would a painter be without inspiration? That's where you all come in. YOU are my inspiration. So what would you like to see? More recipes? More frequent posting? Yoga posts (I'm training to be a Registered Yoga Teacher)? Whatever it is, I would love your input!

And as a little thank you, here is a recipe for my adaptation of Mama Pea's Peanut Butter Dough Balls. I'm convinced Mama Pea can do no wrong, and this recipe is no exception. In fact, I'd go as far as to say any nay-sayers will be saying "I can't believe it's not vegan" in no time. Either way, these little doughy bites of heaven are delicious! For my adaptation, I used chunky peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, and chopped banana pieces for a little texture.

Chunk Monkey Cookie Dough Balls 
Makes ~2 dozen

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other non-dairy margarine) 
  • 3/4 cup natural chunky peanut butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup powered sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup whole wheat pasty flour 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • non-dairy milk to form a dough
  • 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips (Whole Foods Bulk bin have the. best. My family always rave about them) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped banana (about 1/2 medium banana) 
Preheat oven to 350*F. 

In a stand mixer, beat Earth Balance, chunky peanut butter, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. 

In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, salt, whole wheat flour, and all-purpose flour. (I recommend using a whisk to insure the whole wheat pasty flour stays light.) 

Add dry mix to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Mix until dough forms. You may have to add some non-dairy milk or oil to the bowl in order to make it form a pliable dough when cupped in your hand. 

I was using the dry peanut butter at the bottom of the jar (saving the good spread-able stuff for my grandmother who was kind enough to let me use her jar :D) so I added about 2 tsp of canola oil and 1/4 cup of almond milk. 

Add in chocolate chips either using the stand mixer or by hand. Mini chips are definitely recommended if not only because they make the cookies extra chunky, but for the fact that you get more chocolatey bites. Keeping them in an old pasta sauce jar is optional. 

Chop banana and fold in carefully.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Because I had kabocha in the oven taking precedent, I left it in the fridge over night. It worked like a charm :). 

Use an ice-cream scoop to form into equal balls. 

Roll them with your hands so they stay in there nice little ball-y shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes for a cookie-dough center, and 13-15 minutes for a crunchier exterior with a doughy center. I made them both ways, and they were equally as delicious. 

When the cookies come out of the oven, let them rest on a cookie sheet for about 2-5 minutes (depending on how "done" you want them to be). 

Transfer to a cooling rack. 


What new things are you looking forward to in 2011? Have you made any resolutions? I have yet to think of my resolutions, but there will definitely be some! And have you tried cookie dough balls for yourself yet? Check out The Chic Life for basic chocolate chip, toffee, or butterscotch and Mama Pea for peanut butter or sugar/Christmas cookie flavors. 

Have a lovely day! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Little Gingerbread that Could

Hey Hey Hey Ho Ho Ho, bloggies!

I know Wednesday seems a little late for a Christmas recap, but I just couldn't help myself. I may or may not be already mourning the loss of my winter break. But that is neither here nor there. Gotta live it up while it lasts!

Speaking of living it up, I surely started my Christmas morning with a bang. What better way to wake up and celebrate than with a little yoga since we already went to Christmas Eve mass? Yoga definitely left me feeling energized and ready for the festivities ahead. The full playlist full of Christmas music surely put me in the mood!

When I arrived home, though, something wasn't right. My house smelled like something foreign, something that didn't exactly say Christmas to me. It definitely wasn't gingerbread, hot chocolate, or Christmas cookies. And then I understood: it was bacon. And not just any bacon, but applewood smoked bacon. Now I don't know much about bacon, but my nose can tell you that this was in a league of its own. The bacon smell wasn't just going to disappear and neither was I.

With visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I knew exactly what I had to do. After a quick shower for refreshment, I tied on my apron and took to the kitchen. There was only one thing on my mind: gingerbread.

I was surprised how simple it was to make! From the moment the gingerbread entered my oven, my house started to take on a sweet perfume. The lovely aroma was well represented in the taste as well. My family really liked the robust spiced flavor (from the molasses), moist interior, and crunch from the pecans. A true eating experience for all the senses!

Spiced Gingerbread Loaf with Pecans  
Makes one loaf

  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk, but soy milk curdles best)
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice 
  • 2 TBS ground flax seed 
  • 6 TBS hot water (almost boiling)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBS ground ginger 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1/4 tsp allspice 
  • 1/4 tsp cloves 
  • 1/2 cup (8TBS) Earth Balance 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup molasses 
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I toasted mine at 350*F for about 10 minutes first)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with Earth Balance (or cooking spray) and dust with flour (making sure to tap out the excesses). 
  2. Stir together soy milk and apple cider. Set aside to curdle for about 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Use a fork to quickly combine flax seed and hot water in a small dish. Set aside until it becomes gelatinous. 
  4. Place flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, kosher salt, allspice, and cloves in a a bowl. Whisk to combine and aerate the dry ingredients. 
  5. Using either a hand- or stand-mixer, beat the Earth Balance and brown sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Beat in the molasses until combined. Slowly beat in the flax seed and water mixture. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the dry mixture until just incorporated. Add in about half of the soy milk and apple cider vinegar mixture until smooth. Alternate mixing in 1/3 of the dry and the rest of the wet mixtures in the same manner. Finish by adding the last 1/3 of the dry mixture and beating until incorporated. Stir in pecans. 
  7. Transfer batter into prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the loaf pulls away from the edges. Cool the gingerbread in the pan for 10 minutes and then flip it out on a rack to cool completely. 
How did you spend the holiday weekend (whether or not you celebrate Christmas)? What are you favorite scents? 

Have a lovely day! 


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Apple Cake for the Soul

Hi again! Can you believe that Christmas is only 2 days away? I don't know what is more dumfounding:  how it snuck up on me so quickly or where 2010 went. Could I really be graduating in a year? This is craziness.

But back to the holidays. Christmas time always brings to mind the wonderful aroma of freshly baked gingerbread and the cozy warmth of a fresh fire in the fireplace. I definitely associate most things with feelings, and there is nothing more comforting than the joy I feel because of these holiday traditions. In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided to start the process of making my house smell like a giant cinnamon roll. Or rather, a lovely cinnamon-spiced apple carmel cake... [recipe by Angela of OhSheGlows with a few adaptations]

The scent drifting through my house as this baked in the oven was absolutely insane. If I could bottle it... goodness, I don't even know what I'd do!

But I'll let you in on a little secret. I made the mistake of putting the cake in a spring-form pan because it was all I could find. Being too quick to trust, I didn't realize that they are notoriously known for leaking. Let's just say the cake was not the only thing with carmel on it...

Luckily I quickly turned off the oven (burnt caramel was not exactly the smell I was going for) and removed the cake. I then proceeded to clean the oven. When my grandmother came home, she was confused when I said that I had a little accident because the oven actually looked cleaner than before! Haha. Crisis averted!

Except for the cake, that is. It was still pretty mushy in the middle so I knew it needed to bake more. Even though I knew I had already interrupted the baking cycle, I figured more cooking couldn't hurt. After yoga, of course. I definitely needed to relax after seeing sticky carmel all over my nice kitchen!

Everything worked out for the best, though, because my family was able to enjoy the cake warm out of the oven. And really, what is better than that (other than the beautiful scent that perfumed the house because of it, of course)?

It made me really happy to see my mom's surprise and joy when she saw the apple cake. Warm apple desserts in winter are one of her favorite things so this was really a treat. The past few days at work have been the most stressful she's had in a while so I'm glad I could do my part to let the worries melt away for even just a few bites. Chicken soup Apple cake for the soul, my friends, apple cake for the soul.


In other news, wonderful warming foods have been keeping me cozy from the inside out. Certain foods, especially cooked ones, are said to have a warming effect on the body. These are perfect for the winter because they keep our body in balance with the season. Have you ever noticed less cravings for raw salads and more for roasted veggies as it gets colder outside? Our bodies are very smart!

I started my first day off of school with carrot cake baked oatmeal. This mostly grew out of a desire for carrots in the morning, a love of oats, and a quest not to overdose on pumpkin (if that's even possible for me, of course.) It is so coincidental that Angela just posted her recipe for carrot cake oatmeal (check it out)! It was literally the day after I had mine. Great minds think alike like carrots :).

This soup is the reason I tried to avoid using pumpkin in my breakfast. I love my squash so much that I don't want to get bored of it. Make sense? No? Moving on... It was a mixture of roasted butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, and onions. It was so deliciously naturally sweet that it was almost like eating candy for dinner. J'adore. 

Add roasted brussels sprouts and steamed broccoli, and you have yourself a recipe for success.

I'm clearly on a roasted root vegetable kick because last night I had root veggies for dinner last night, too. This time, however, they were in fry form.

I simply steamed a parsnip, a carrot, and a large chunk of rutabaga until tender. Then I coated them in cornmeal, Herbamare, and nutmeg. To give the fries a nice crusty outside, I baked them in a 400*F oven for about 40 minutes, flipping half-way through. They became nice and crispy! I really loved the crunch of the cornmeal against the sweetnees and soft interior of the roasted root veggies. I think this method would work especially well with roasted brussels sprouts. There's always tomorrow night...

Also on the cooked veggie front was steamed broccoli and orange cauliflower (where were covered in a nooch storm after the photo shoot). Let's just talk about orange cauliflower for a minute. On multiple occasions, at both the grocery store and the farmer's market, a handful of people have made comments about how it is called "cheese cauliflower." Since it's obvious I am a veggie conosseur from how excited I get about fresh produce, I am sometimes asked about it. Contrary to what many people believe and have asked me about, orange cauliflower does not, in fact, taste like cheese. Cute name, but not at all accurate. I would, however, like to mention that it does taste different than white cauliflower. Almost sweeter, perhaps? Anyway, it is delicious, so if you ever have a chance to try orange cauliflower or its other colored cousins (purple and green are quite nice as well), please do. You never know until you try!

And, of course, I will end this post on an even sweeter note. Last night I transformed one of my favorite snacks into a warm weather treat. I simply warmed up a Cranberry Almond Vegan Pure NRG Bar until it got soft and the carob chips melted. Then I poured cold vanilla almond milk over it and topped the mixture with Puffins. (I've been saving my "old recipe" box of Puffins for a while now but have finally given in. I definitely liked the other recipe better!) The warm crumbled bar soaked up some of the almond milk and infused it with a chocolatey taste. I suppose it was almost like a more sophisticated (and vegan, no less!) version of those kid cereals that turn your milk different colors. Delicious and fun!

What scents remind you of the holiday that you celebrate? And what kind of foods keep you warm on a chilly day? 

Have a lovely day!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan Baking is More Fun

Hi pies! :)

How was your weekend? Are you on winter break yet? Friday was my last day of school so now I'm free for the next 2 weeks! After a week of tests, it was truly a relief. However, I know that midterms are coming up in the near future. But not to worry, I'm enjoying freedom while it lasts!

This weekend has been absolutely amazing for me. Yesterday especially I felt a wonderful release of stress and was completely overwhelmed by the holiday spirit. Just simply spending time with my grandmother and uncle meant so much to me. I don't think I've smiled and laughed that much in a while! It almost feels like I already celebrated Christmas because for me, the holidays are all about love (whether that be for family, friends, or complete strangers).

I think what really kicked things off was making a traditional Bouche de Noel with my grandmother on Thursday night. My French teacher asked me if I would make one for my class and agreed to give me bonus points for my effort. Unfortunately, because of the snow day, our French party and test date had to be changed so I ended up making it the same night that I had to study for my huge test! Clearly this created a lot of stress for me. I absolutely love baking (it is my source of relaxation along with yoga), but it is hard when you are under a lot of pressure. Oh, and did I mention I had to use the recipe my teacher gave me which included three ingredients that are almost foreign to me now (eggs, butter, and milk)? I am so grateful my grandmother was willing to help!

All I had to say at the end of the night was that vegan baking is much more fun. Sorry, but whipping egg whites and yolks seperately while making sure not to harm their delicate structure is just not worth it. (Nor is the poor little baby chick that was denied life just so that I could make a cake, but I won't get into that. Note: I believe that everyone has a right to eat whatever they like. I personally choose not to consume animal products but I do not look down upon those who do.) At least I still remember how to separate eggs...

The cake came out really well, and I loved seeing the delight my grandmother had upon making a treat that is traditional in our culture (we're part french). Making a vegan Bouche de Noel is definitely on my list, but until then, I will just keep on baking vegan chocolate chip cookie dough balls to keep my family fueled.

Considering they are already all gone, I don't think my family has a problem with that.

There is just something so interesting about finding the right substitutions and ingredients that will make any vegan food pop. I guess that's why vegan baking is just more fun!

Lately I've been experimenting with single-serve vegan chocolate protein muffins. When they were in the oven, they rose nicely.

Sadly, though, they soon collapsed.

The structure can be kind of difficult, but I think it's really the taste the taste that matters. I absolutely adored how fudg-y they were!

If there is chocolate in Heaven, I imagine it will be something like this (if the chocolate seekers are looking for chocolate with some wholesome nutrition, that is). I love vegan baking! Do I really need to say it again?

And don't even get me started on vegan cooking. My meals this past week were absolutely fantastic! I kept lunch pretty simple by making a big batch of Snobby Joes from Veganomicon so that I could focus on studying for my tests. However, dinner was another story. Two highlights from the week were straight out of my Terry Walters cookbooks. I could go on and on about how much I love Terry's work, but I'll just let the photos do the talking.

First up was Sesame Miso Tofu with Asian Greens. Of course I had to be a rebel and change the recipe by swapping chickpeas (which I marinaded and roasted) for tofu.

Other than that little change (one change---that's rare for me!), I stuck to the recipe in Clean Start. I'm glad I did because Terry definitely has the flavor combinations down.

Oh boy, the leftover sesame-miso marinade was so delicious! It is so versatile, too. I think I might even make a batch to keep on hand for other things.

Next I made Sweet Potato and Parsnip Pancakes from Clean Food (except I opted for baking instead of frying).

I would tell you all about them, but honestly, I'm speechless. I already have plans to make these again this week.

Make. These. Now. Seriously.

And of course, Terry Walters hit the nail on the head for me with Clean Food's Tree of Life Stir-Fry. Its mixture of my some of my favorite vegetables (seriously, I eat broccoli and cauliflower at least once a day!) had me from the start. The subtly sweet sauce really brought all of the flavors together and made for a wonderful meal. I always feel so energized after eating fresh foods like this! (Note: I added chickpeas to the mix for a little extra texture, flavor, and protein.)

Do you enjoy cooking/baking with special requirements in mind (e.g. vegan, gluten-free, high-protien, low-sugar, etc.)? Vegan preparation is a given, but I'm always up for other challenges, too! And do you like to follow recipes or change a bunch of things? I tried to stick to Terry's recipes, but I like to make recipes my own, too. Usually I will draw ideas from lots of different sources and then add my own spin. Sometimes it's the best thing I've ever tasted, and other times, it's a complete flop. It took awhile for my kitchen intuition to develop, but hey, you win some, you lose some.

Have a lovely day!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Wintery Slip and Slide

Heya, my snow bunnies! Did anyone get a huge downpour of snow last night? We sure did! In fact, there was so much that my school had to be closed today. Here in Michigan it takes quite a bit to close my school (we're tough from the many winters of ice ages, of course) so that tells you just how much we got. Accordingly, I remember wishing for a snow day last night despite my doubts. My exact thoughts were "It would be magical if tomorrow were a snow day." Today was magical indeed!

Maybe it had something to do with the holiday cheer that overtook me yesterday as I baked a batch of vegan gingerbread brownies for my family.

After all, positivity and a good attitude makes all the difference. I was definitely in the holiday spirit when I surprised my mom, who has been extremely busy at work lately, with her favorite treat.

Speaking of my mom, once I received the news from her that my school had called, I decided to go right back to sleep. I set my phone alarm for 12:30pm, giving myself as much or as little time to sleep as I needed. But who am I kidding, my body opted for the "as much as" option. After I awoke fully rested, I prepared a batch of vanilla pumpkin pancakes for a lazy breakfast (or brunch/lunch, considering the time).

A little bowl of my homemade cinnamon vanilla applesauce was perfect for dipping.

It was also great as a filling for pancake burritos. I like having fun and being creative with my food :).

Despite the weather, I still had every intention to go to yoga tonight. To make sure I was properly fueled, I prepared some chili roasted asparagus.

 They were great topped with the snobby joe mixture I made last night!

Don't let this picture fool you; I had this many times over.

Once my stomach was satisfied, I headed out to my yoga studio. Luckily, my uncle was kind enough to brave the weather for me (thanks, Uncle Pasta!). I clearly underestimated the snow, though, because the roads were like a giant slip and slide! We just took our time and used it as a teaching experience; now I know what to do if I am having trouble with my car (my uncle used other people as an example; we were completely safe.)

I am so glad I was able to go to yoga because I had an awesome practice! The time flew by without me even noticing it because when my teacher made a comment about us already flowing for 40 minutes, I simply couldn't believe it. Since the flows were framiliar, I was able to get into my grove. It was definitely "moving meditation." With my body in such a grove, I definitely worked up quite an appetite. Angela's homemade salt and vinegar chips to the rescue!

I don't know what's gotten into me because usually I'm not a fan of white potatoes (well, these were red potatoes, but whatevs) and have never really liked potato chips. However, ever since I saw her post this recipe (the summer?), I knew I had to make it. I finally gave into my craving and I'm oh so happy I did!

I loved dipping the chips into my favorite tomato paste (thinned with water). I must be on a finger food kick!

The broccoli (which I topped with nutritional yeast for some protein) and eggplant fries were amazing as well. I'll admit most of them didn't even make it into the photo because I couldn't stop tasting. Hello, broccoli lovers anonymous!

All in all, today was a relaxing day, even though I spent most of it studying. There is something so magical about the surprise of having a day off.

What do you do on snow days? Or if you live in a warm climate, do you like snow?

Have a lovely day!