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!

 


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.


Coconut Bacon? Heck yes!

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coconut baconIn a previous post, Double Chocolate Chip Rosemary Cookies, I referenced Fettle Vegan’s Coconut Bacon. This stuff is freaking awesome! I don’t crave meat anymore, so this wasn’t made with the intent of some bacon substitute. Rather, it’s a great recipe to add a touch of savory with a hint of sweet to a dish. The crunch of the coconut is reminiscent of bacon; at least it is in my vague vegan memory!

Whether eaten by the handful, on a salad, or on top of banana chocolate ice cream, this “bacon” is a great addition to any concoction that could use a little crunch.

The original recipe calls for Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce. Being that soy is my enemy, I substituted coconut aminos. I also recommend tasting the mixture before adding in the smoked paprika. Next time I make this, I will be splitting the batch, leaving half plain, and adding the paprika to the other half. Both are delicious, and provide a bit of different flavor.

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After baking. Look at that color and crunch–yum!

Ingredients:
3 cups coconut chips
2 Tbsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp coconut aminos
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 325. Prep your baking sheet with either parchment paper or a baking mat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the liquid smoke, coconut aminos, maple syrup, and water.

Add in the coconut chips and stir to coat evenly.
Give it a taste and see what you think. Either leave the batch as is, split and add smoked paprika to half, or add the paprika to the entire batch—the world is your oyster!

Spread the coated coconut chips on your pan and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Set a timer to alert you to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

After cooling, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I am obsessed with my mason jars, and encourage everyone to have a dozen lying around for storing purposes. They are just so goldarn handy!

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Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and add to almost any dish!


Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

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This was my second time making this amazing salad dressing from Nutrition Stripped–check it out, McKel is a genius! The first time, it was delicious but I knew it could be better. I had skipped a couple of ingredients and didn’t really adjust for their absence, so the dressing was a bit runny the first time around. This time, that definitely wasn’t a problem.

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The original recipe calls for a tablespoon of miso paste. However, due to a need to avoid soy, I substituted a teaspoon of coconut aminos instead. It’s super concentrated (and delicious), which is why I only used a teaspoon. Feel free to adjust to taste!

Because the miso paste is thicker, I compensated for this by removing the filtered water and adding in some flax seed meal. I like super thick dressing that sticks to and coats the salad—plus, the color of this dressing is so gorgeous that I wanted it thick enough to really POP!

Lastly, I altered the amount of tahini used from the original recipe. I used 3 tablespoons, rather than the 2 the recipe called for. Why? Well, honestly, the jar had 3 tablespoons left and I felt ridiculous putting it back in the fridge with a skiff of tahini! So there’s your answer 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic red bell peppers, roasted and charred
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, raw and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (Braggs Raw)
  • 3 tablespoons organic tahini
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (sugar free version use stevia to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

To roast the 2 red bell peppers, preheat your oven to 450 F. Place the peppers on a silpat (my preferred method) or a baking sheet on the middle rack. Rotate the peppers every 5 minutes for 20-25 minutes, until fully charred.

After removing them from the oven, place in a glass bowl, cover with saran wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. You want the peppers to still be a bit warm when you take them out, as this will help the skin slide off more easily; however, you also don’t want them to burn your fingers clear off!

Once they are cool, peel the skin off by hand. If some skin is left on the pepper, no biggie. Then open up the pepper and remove the stem and seeds. I wasn’t too picky about removing all of the seeds.

Place the freshly seeded bell peppers in your blender, along with the rest of the ingredients. Puree until smooth. Adjust the seasoning and thickness as desired.


Why a blog? I’ll tell you!

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6 months ago, I was an omnivore that had little-to-no cooking skills, oblivious to the plant-based world. Today, I love spending hours in the kitchen, often flying by the seat of my pants, cooking vegan dinners and an excessive amount of desserts.

My purpose of this here page is to create a space to keep all of my recipes—whether successful or total failures. It doesn’t hurt to also have a place to document various adventures during my next phase of life. This summer, I’ll be entering the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry Class of 2017. Quite a mouthful, huh? Get it? Mouthful? Anywho, I’m super excited to be moving to San Francisco soon—a vegan’s paradise! It will be so lovely to be able to go to a restaurant and know that I can eat something delicious other than salad. Hooray!

Lastly, I hope to start branching into creating my own concoctions. I’m just not quite confident enough for that yet! But hell, if I never do, oh well! At least I’m still making freaking fabulous food that makes me feel fantastic.

So… enjoy a glimpse into my nerdy life. This should (might?) be fun!