Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quest for the Best Vegan Brownie

I'm very mission-oriented.  There are typically a handful of "missions" that I'm working towards at any given time.  I'm currently training for a half marathon - that's a big one.  I feel like I have to tell everyone about it, (a) so that I'm forced to follow through with the thing, and (b) I've always viewed myself as so unathletic that this is a tremendous feat for me.  That being said, over the past few months I've also, among other things, been on a quest for the best vegan brownie.

There are a few foods that I actually do miss since becoming vegan-- canolis, egg salad, and brownies are on the top of the list.  There are definitely vegan editions of each, but to me, they have not lived up to the originals.  The brownie is the one that bothers me the most.  I went through a phase in college where I baked brownies on a weekly basis.  Ghiradelli brownies with extra chocolate chips.  So fudgey.  Vegan brownies are really not fudgey.  They are cakey.  I've tried baking banana brownies, peanut butter brownies, pumpkin brownies, brownies with black beans-- you name it.  I've also sampled brownies at various vegan establishments.  As you can tell, I've been very committed to this endeavor.

Here are my top three brownies:

1.  Peanut Butter Ganache Brownie from Wildflour Bakery in Providence.
A layer of peanut butter, a layer of dark chocolate ganache.  So very rich - and not cakey.

2.  Pumpkin Pie Brownies from the Post Punk Kitchen.
These are a favorite for Thanksgiving dessert.

3.  This recipe for peanut butter chocolate brownies.
I randomly found this one last week.  It's super easy, and even gluten free.  The results are a-maz-ing -- quite rich and nothing like cake, since there's no flour at all. 

Mission complete.

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 Katy Perry - "This is How We Do"
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vegan Mac and "Cheese"

I've been told I don't update the blog enough.  Which is true.  The start and end of the school year are the most hectic times for teachers, besides Thanksgiving, Christmas, standardized testing... actually, it's crazy all the time, so this is no excuse.  One of my coworkers started a vegan meal exchange, because as it happens, there are now two other vegans and two vegetarians on the staff this year.  The idea was that each person would cook one giant meal on Sunday nights, portion it out, and switch at work on Monday in order to enjoy a wider variety during the week without all the work.  The first week I prepared a chickpea kale stew and ended up with a bean and potato casserole and a sweet potato beet hash.  Both were tasty!  The next time I didn't end up participating, but one of the teachers brought in a butternut squash mac and "cheese" with kale.  I was jealous and decided to make my own mac and "cheese."  Obviously I got on Pinterest to do some "research."  I found this recipe for Cauliflower Macaroni and "Cheese."  I used shells instead of macaroni pasta, to which I have a weird aversion, and skipped the last step with the Panko bread crumbs and broiling.  This was also the first time I've ever cooked with nutritional yeast - don't know how that happened.  It took me a minute to get over the fact that I was eating something that looked like cheese but was not actually cheese, but once I did, I liked it a lot.  Way healthier than what I used to eat in college. 

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Kasey Musgraves - "Follow Your Arrow"


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Overnight Oatmeal

I'm not a big breakfast person.  The only things I'll eat are cereal with almond milk or something like pancakes or waffles.  Definitely nothing savory.  Smoothies are alright, I guess, but I don't really have the time to whip something up in the morning before work.  And by the time I get to work, the bowl of cereal I ate at 6 AM really isn't holding me over until lunch.  This is why my discovery of overnight oatmeal has been so exciting.  You throw some oats (not quick cooking), your choice of milk, and ingredients that will add flavor, into a mason jar or Tupperware container, and leave it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, you have some yummy oatmeal.  It doesn't have to be heated, which has made it perfect for me to take to work and eat at my desk.

Here are two recipes I've tried so far:

Banana/Nut Butter Oatmeal
1 cup oats
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 mashed banana
1 package Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter OR 2 spoonfuls of peanutbutter

Applesauce Oatmeal
1 cup oats
1/2 cup vanilla almond mlik
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and seal it up tightly!

Today I bought some vanilla almond butter, which I will try this week, and once the weather is cooler, I'll make some pumpkin oatmeal, as well.  So many possibilities!




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The Beatles - "Yesterday"



Spicy Spaghetti Squash Tacos

It's 91 degrees in September!  I think I'll spend the rest of the day in my air conditioned apartment, thank you.  School has started, so I'm back to cooking huge meals on Sunday night to eat for the rest of the week.  I'm also training for a half marathon, so I need some extra calories!  I find lots of recipes on Pinterest, and I was enticed by this one for spicy spaghetti squash with black beans.  I like spaghetti squash, but you really need some elbow grease-- or a chain saw-- to slice that thing open.  Hopefully you own a better knife than I do, because this is a delicious meal!  Overall, I stuck to the original recipe, but I did not include the cilantro or sea salt.  Then I used the squash mixture as soft shell taco filling and topped it off with chopped cherry tomatoes and avocado.  Yum!  I even ate some cold with blue corn tortilla chips as a snack later in the week.  Try it!



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Coldplay - "Sky Full of Stars"