Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Mushroom Soup

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Before September, my cooking experience consisted of mac and cheese (and not the good kind) and microwave lunches. Oh man. Vegetables? Nah, bro. Who likes those, anyway? As it turns out, I’m a pretty big fan of those nutrient-packed fellas!

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While living with some incredible friends (shout to the Felvernackis!), we were faced with a conundrum: what the heck do we do with all of these parsnips?!? I did some searching on one of my top 5 fave blogs, Fat Free Vegan, and found this beauty: Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup with Mushrooms. My roommates and I loved this creamy, garlicky goodness, with chunks of meaty mushrooms throughout. This soup marks the beginning of my utter obsession with all things involving mushrooms. And that roasted garlic! Are you kidding me? Delicious!

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The most recent time that I made this soup, I didn’t have any navy beans or white pepper on hand, so I improvised with some garbanzo beans and red pepper flakes. The result was great. The boyfriend and I ate this over some rice to turn it into a full meal. It was super filling and the leftovers are just as awesome.

 

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Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Soup with Mushrooms
Prep time: 10 minutes            Cooking time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 rib celery (including leaves), chopped
  • 4 to 5 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 10-12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the parsnip cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat . Cut the top off of the head of garlic, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Spritz it with olive oil (or don’t, if you are avoiding oil) and wrap the entire thing up in foil. Place it on the baking sheet with the parsnips. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over the parsnips, and cook for 15 more minutes until parsnips are tender and just touched with brown. Remove from oven and allow the garlic to cool in its wrapper.

Heat a non-stick saucepan and cook the onion until it’s translucent. Add the celery and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 3 cups of the broth, the parsnips, and the red pepper flakes. Squeeze the garlic out of the cloves into the pan. Cook for a few minutes, until parsnips have softened. Add the beans.

Carefully pour the soup into your blender. Split into 2 batches if necessary. Add more veggie broth if you prefer a thinner soup. Return the pureed soup to the pan and warm over low heat. If the soup is too thick, add more broth until it reaches your desired consistency, keeping it covered to prevent any spattering.

Cook the sliced mushrooms in a small skillet until they soften and release their juices. Season them with salt and stir them into the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Variations:
I definitely like the added texture from the mushrooms, but if you want a creamier soup, add the mushrooms with the celery and cook until softened. Blend with the other vegetables as directed.

If you enjoy parsnips, then chances are you also like carrots. Try these delicious carrot cake pancakes!

Carrot Cake Pancakes

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Pancakes for dinner? OKAY! I had recently stumbled upon some beautiful rainbow carrots, and after scouring the internet for recipes, the colorful bunch was destined for soup and pancakes—not to eat at the same time… yuck. The boyfriend and I decided that we would celebrate a Monday with breakfast for dinner. Why? Because it was Monday. Duh. In my opinion, pancakes are so much better as a fun dinner than boring ol’ breakfast!

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And to be honest, folks, as much as I am looking forward to the carrot and coconut soup (and it’s still cold and rainy here in WA so it’s completely acceptable), these carrot cake pancakes had me giddy with excitement!

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When I was a small squib of a thing, my family and I drove from Arizona to Canada for a family reunion. One of the most memorable parts of that trip (other than the crazy-long drive in a minivan with my parents, my grandmother, and my 3 older sisters–yikes, amiright?) was THE carrot cake. Stay with me for a second; I’ll explain.

At one of the many family gatherings, sitting amongst the food on the banquet table was this stupidly delicious-looking cake adorned with a carrot made out of frosting. I ate 3 pieces. And I wanted nothing to do with any of the other food (I’m sure my parents loved that). From then on, carrot cake has been one of my all-time favorite desserts.

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I stumbled upon a great recipe by Cara at Fork and Beans for carrot cake pancakes. Mmmm, yes please! I changed the recipe up a bit to make the pancakes a bit more naturally-sweetened. My intention was to use only dates to sweeten these puppies, but after mixing the batter up, they were definitely not sweet enough for my liking! Hence the addition of the agave. When I remake these (as I know that I will… heck, maybe this week!), I think I’ll double the dates and see where that gets me. Give it a shot!

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The pancakes are a perfect blend of carrots, spices, and sweetness to make a similar flavor to carrot cake. Covered in maple syrup, they are unstoppable!

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Carrot Cake Pancakes
Prep time: 15 minutes         Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes a dozen pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and blended into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp flax meal
  • 2.5 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 cup un-sweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Coconut Butter)
  • 2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup (add more or less, depending on the desired sweetness of your pancakes—I found that 2 was perfect for a touch of sweetness but not overpoweringly so)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 3 large carrots—grated

Directions:
Soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes. In either a blender or food processor, pulse the dates into small pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, prepare your flax egg by combining the flax meal and warm water. Let it set up for 5 minutes. Add all ingredients except for the flour and grated carrots. Mix in the flour, ½ a cup at a time. Stir in the grated carrots.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Once bubbles begin to form in the batter, flip that sucker over!

This recipe made about a dozen delicious, carrot-y, cinnamon-y pancakes. You’re going to love these!

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Proof that the boyfriend loved these pancakes!

 


Gluten-Free Flour Blend

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Flours and Flowers!

Flours and Flowers!

This will be a quick post to discuss my go-to flour blend in this new world of gluten-free baking in which I find myself. A couple of months ago an allergy test informed me that I am allergic to gluten, yeast, lima beans (well there goes my diet!), coffee, as well as a few other minor things. I don’t drink coffee and my sister has been gluten-free for years; therefore, this wasn’t too big of a hurdle for me to leap (except for those darned lima beans).

Not to mention, I had recently discovered my favorite blog, which has mostly gluten-free fare. Therefore, finding the perfect flour blend merely required a quick visit to Minimalist Baker. I can’t imagine what I would do without this recipe, which I followed with only a minor change to the blend.

I doubled the recipe, as I use it almost any time I bake, which is often!

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  • 2 cups GF oat flour (blended from GF oats)
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour (blended from buckwheat groats)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour

Instructions:
Blend the GF oats into a fine powder. I poured about 3 cups of oats into my blender so that I have extra oat flour on hand.

Blend the buckwheat groats into a fine powder. I did the same thing here, using extra groats to make more flour than I needed.

Add in yellow cornmeal, white rice flour, and brown rice flour. I used Bob’s Red Mill for all 3 of these.

Now the fun part: shake up your container to mix up the blend! Use and enjoy!

The original recipe calls for xanthum gum, which is totally great, but I didn’t have any at the time of making the flour blend. How to fix the lack of this crucial binding agent? Just use the same amount of flax or chia seeds with twice that amount of water. This is the same concept for a flax or chia seed egg. Therefore, if I am using flax eggs in a recipe, I will use a tsp of chia seeds with 2 tsps of water as my additional binding agent.

So far, I haven’t noticed any problems with this method. Which is why I still have yet to purchase any xanthum gum–we’ll see if that changes in the near future!


Green Chili Mac and Cheese

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One of the first dishes I made as a vegan was mac and cheese. And holy crow, how did I not know that it was possible? Prior to becoming a vegan, I thought that vegans only ate salads. What an idiot.

I loved the first vegan mac and cheese recipe that I made; however, THIS mac and cheese is way better! I love the addition of the green chilis. Note: the original recipe by Minimalist Baker (who I am completely OBSESSED with) calls for only 1 can of green chilis, but I discovered that the green chilis were so ridiculously delicious in the dish, so I doubled the amount.

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I made this for Brad and me, and we were so excited to eat it, that we simply plunked the cast iron pan down on the table, grabbed 2 forks, and went crazy. Why dirty any extra dishes?!

Someday I’ll have some great photos of my food. Until then, I’ll continue to make delicious food with sub-par pictures.

Ingredients:
10 ounces large macaroni shells (I used GF brown rice shells)
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup raw cashews (if you don’t have a Vitamix, soak them for 4-6 hours or overnight, then drain)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 4-ounce can diced chills (add 1 can into the sauce, and save the other can for topping)

Optional: 1 cup tortilla chips, smoked paprika, fresh cilantro for topping

Directions:
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.

Preheat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the diced onions and let cook until they soften up. Add the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute.

Add the onion and garlic mixture to your blender (I love my Vitamix as much as I imagine I will love my future children…no?). Add the remaining ingredients, except for the toppings (1 can of green chilis, tortilla chips, paprika, and/or cilantro). Blend the sauce until smooth and creamy.

Pour the sauce back into the skillet over low heat, and cook for a few minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the cooked noodles into the sauce and stir to make sure each shell is filled with the delicious sauce. Add the 2nd can of green chilis and mix in.

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Optional: Sprinkle some smoked paprika on top (Oh the color!). Crumble tortilla chips on the top. Slide the whole delicious mixture into the oven under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the top. Holy yum!

I used the Food Should Taste Good Guacamole chips. IMHO they are a bit odd on their own, so I firmly believe they were made to be crumbled on top of mac and cheese!

 

Pink Thumbprint Butter Cookies with Coconut Ganache

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Just because Valentine’s Day is long gone, that doesn’t mean that we can’t all enjoy a touch of the yucky-love-stuff. When I saw this recipe posted by spabettie, I knew I had to try them. My dad grew up eating beets, but I had never heard of them being used in baking. It turns out that they are nature’s food coloring! The flavor of the beet doesn’t come through in the cookie, due to the large amount of butter and sugar… there’s nothing wrong with that! The original recipe called for a whiskey ganache (hubba hubba) but I didn’t have whiskey in the house. Crisis! Instead, I made up a ganache using dark chocolate chips and coconut cream. Yummy! These pretty little numbers are delicious when chilled. I even sent them to the boyfriend in the mail, and they held up splendidly!

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Proof that the cookies survived the trip in the mail!

Ingredients:
1 cup vegan butter (I always use soy-free Earth Balance)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour* (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup milk (I use the 30 cal vanilla almond milk)
Juice from 1 beet

*To make these gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free AP blend

Coconut Ganache:
8 oz of dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life chips)
2 tablespoons of full-fat coconut milk (I’ve always heard that Thai Kitchen is the best for separation)

Directions:
Wash and juice the beet. I chose a relatively large beet, as I wasn’t sure how much juice I would need. A smaller one would be perfectly sufficient! I believe you can also buy powdered beet that required that you add water. Genius!

Preheat oven to 300 F. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour, ½ a cup at a time. When the dough begins to get too thick, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once well mixed, add the beet juice. I added it splash by splash, mixing well after each addition. I added a total of 2 tablespoons to make it the deep pink color shown below. I would suggest adding a bit more, as the insides of the cookies were a bit dull after cooking. thumbprint 2

Knead the dough into a ball, place it back in the mixing bowl, and refrigerate the pink goodness for at least 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into balls, about a tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indent in the middle of the cookie. Bake for 25 minutes.

Prepare the Ganache:
5 minutes before the cookies should be done, prepare the ganache. Using a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the dark chocolate chips and the coconut milk together. Use the thicker, creamier portion of the coconut milk—the full fat and delicious business! The ganache should be thick and matte-like.

Remove the cookies from the oven and spoon a small amount of the ganache on to the cookies. If the thumbprint indent hasn’t held up to baking, feel free to push down a bit to make the indent more pronounced. Place the ganache-d (that’s a word, right?) cookies back in the oven for 3 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, and then move to a cooking rack.

Eat and enjoy! They taste awesome when chilled!


Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

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Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

 

Delicious cookies, complete with my favorite Frozen mug!

Delicious cookies, complete with my favorite Frozen mug!

With the excitement of a visit from my sister, I made a batch of the Double Chocolate Chip Rosemary Cookies. They were such a hit with my parents that I couldn’t resist! My foodie sister suggested a new and wonderful spin on this cookie, due to my latest obsession with peppermint extract. I want to put it in everything! As a result, this lovely minty cookie resulted.

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My boyfriend—let’s call him Brad—will be my official taste tester for the next couple of months (lucky duck!). We tossed around the idea of having our dogs weigh in on the chocolate-free recipes, but decided that wouldn’t be fair since they will eat almost anything (Baxter recently ate an entire bottle of omega 3 supplements—gotta get your essential fatty acids in!). So instead they will simply have to stare longingly as I cook/bake and eat everything myself. Maybe I’ll whip up some vegan dog treats for them.

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These cookies are wonderfully chocolate-y, with a lovely hint of mint. My favorite way to eat these drops of heaven? Crumbled up in a bowl, smothered with almond milk. Holy crow! Try it–you’ll love it!

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup cacao
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (I use soy-free Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups sugar (preferably evaporated cane juice)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup almond milk (I use the 30 cal vanilla variety)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup of dark chocolate and 1/4 cup of Enjoy Life semi sweet chocolate mega chunks—dairy, nut, and soy free)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cacao, baking soda, and salt until well mixed.

In a mixer or with hand beaters (or even with a fork as recommended by Isa, the original source of these cookies) cream together the butter and sugar. Add ground flax, almond milk, vanilla and peppermint extract, and mix until totally combined.

Add the dry ingredients 1/2 a cup at a time. Pour in chocolate chips and mix into the dough.

Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon (I used heaping tablespoons) to scoop dough onto a greased cookie sheet (I am addicted to my Artisan non-stick baking mats) about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 15 minutes, until edges are crisp and tops begin to crack. Remove from oven and let sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Once cool they can be moved to a storage container for up to a week.

This recipe made 24 cookies.