Chili Cheese, Please!

I adore versatile foods that can help stretch out the dollar! I don’t have a recipe to share with you, but this week I made chili. It was “use up everything in our freezer” chili. There were pre-cooked frozen beans that I did in a big batch cook, vegetable mixes, frozen from the garden spring onions that were given to me, vegetable quinoa and barley mixes, veggie burgers, and so on. If it needed used up, I threw it in the pot. I added a few cans of chopped tomatoes, as well as a frozen container of left over tomato sauce. I didn’t know if it was going to turn out, but I needed my freezer back in order.

Only it did turn out! It was fantastic, and even my bean-phobic 9 year old son loved the chili.
As I was packing it away, I wondered how we could use it all. The chili is great, but I only like it once in a while.

My kids love eating chili if they can use tortilla chips to eat it instead of a spoon or fork.
Chili can be used over rice or baked potatoes.
There’s always the “chili cheese dogs” (veggie dogs).
And from that, I think nacho’s or even chili smothered french fries.

But I figured none of those options will work with my kids for very long, if at all. So we’re going to stuff noodles with chili and vegan cheese, because who doesn’t love a stuffed noodle?

From one pot of chili, we can make several different meals.

And that is what I love about chili.

Vegan Shepherds Pie

Ohh how I love the pie. Not your traditional pie, but vegan shepherds pie. Everybody does it a little differently so I’ll share my own recipe with you.

I’ve never been good at paying attention to measurements, so you’ll have to wing it!

Ingredients:
1 cup brown lentils
2 cup veggie broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp marjoram
3 cloves minced garlic
1 minced onion
3 stalks celery finely chopped
4 skinny carrots finely chopped
4 button mushrooms finely chopped
1 can corn
dash vegan worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
enough potatoes peeled and quartered to fill a medium pot
grapeseed oil for frying

I started by prepping my veggies..
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Then I got the potatoes into a pot of water and started to boil them.
While they were boiling, I got the lentils going. First I added the lentils and broth, followed by the thyme, cumin and marjoram. I stirred it all up to distribute the spices and added the bay leaf, then simmered the lentils for about 20 minutes until the water was absorbed.

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Next I fried the garlic for about 30 seconds on low-medium heat, followed by the onions until fragrant. I added the carrots and celery, and covered the pan to cook the veggies until tender. Then I added the mushrooms and let them cook for a few minutes. Add the corn and cooked lentils, a dash of worcestershire sauce, some salt and pepper and cover it. Cook until thoroughly heated and the flavors are well incorporated.

While the flavors are mingling, mash up the potatoes. I usually add a bit of garlic margarine to mine, not mentioned in the ingredients above. Make them up however you like them.

Now just put it all together. I used small tinfoil pans to store mine in as I made one for a friend and two for myself and needed a reliable way to keep it fresh in the fridge/freezer. Layer in the lentil/veggie mixture, then top with the potatoes.

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This is all that was left on my plate when I remembered to snap a pic.

 

It’s another (cupcake) Sunday..

It’s another Sunday, and let me tell you; it’s a good one.
Not only is today going to be beautiful (a high of 9 degrees, yay!) but it is also my oldest sons 9th birthday party; to which 9 children will be attending. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Last night we made really simple cupcakes for his party using this recipe. It took all of five minutes to throw together. Then I tossed on some chocolate icing and let my son decorate them for his friends.

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It’s been a weekend full of cupcakes, honestly. My four year old son was having cupcake day in his classroom so I had written it on the calendar, and when the older two went to school that day they were expecting cupcakes too. So when their Grandma picked them up they shared their disappointment as they realized only their little brother got cupcakes that day. Being the freaking cool Grandma that she is, my Mom decided she would do cupcake day with them on Friday after school while I was at work.

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So on top of some really great cupcakes this weekend, we’re taking a layered chip dip to the party and some veggie dogs. The chip dip was a can of Amy’s refried beans, a layer of salsa, tofutti sour cream, and daiya cheese shreds. It’s so easy and so fantastic. I was even able to make an extra dish of it with the left over ingredients for work tomorrow!

We’re off to party!

Vegan Treats for Santa!

Ho, Ho, Ho!

No, I’m not trying to be insulting.

But YAY! Santa is coming!! And we are so so excited here that I’ve decided to be extra generous and share with you the links to all the goodies that we made for Mr. HoHo himself.

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Eeeek! Aren’t you so so so hungry looking at those?

I don’t even know where to start.

1. Okay, SMORES COOKIES. Isn’t that a genius idea?! While these smores cookies turned out to be like fluffy gingerbread cookies filled with oozed marshmallow and chocolate chip morsels, they are still yummy! I think these ones are the kids favorites.
You’ll find the recipe for these at Keepin’ It Kind:
http://keepinitkind.com/smores-cookies/

2. Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies. They are so delicate tasting and fantastic for my refined adult palate! We didn’t have raspberry jam so we used strawberry, and I have to say that I don’t think it would have mattered what kind of jam we used. Pumpkin jam? Booger jam? It would have been delish either way. Well, maybe not that last way. But here’s the recipe!
Cooking Classy:
http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/12/raspberry-almond-shortbread-thumbprint-cookies/

3. Powdered Not-Quite Donuts, AKA Mini Homemade Snowball Donut. Being the amateur not-so-great-cook that I am, this recipe was really easy to follow. We don’t have a mini donut pan (I wish) so we had to make do with mini muffin tins. I think I added too much of something because my donuts ended up being mini muffins in texture, and I couldn’t get the icing sugar to stick! But they are still yummy and kid approved! When we make these again (and we will) I’m thinking of rolling them in a lemon glaze, then the powdered sugar. I bet Santa is going to eat ever last crumb! 😉
Find them at Chocolate Covered Katie:
http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2015/02/20/mini-homemade-snowball-donuts/

4. Snickerdoodle PB Chocolate Chex Bars! Oh my. The name of these alone makes me salivate. Have you ever had pretzels and chocolate? My Aunt used to make these amazing treats every year for Christmas; it was the highlight of my holiday. They were pretzels and cheerios and a few other dry cereal/salty-like ingredients (peanuts..) mixed together with WHITE CHOCOLATE melted over them and then broken apart into chunks. It was incredible. I can’t find vegan white chocolate, but when I saw these I figured it was close enough. The bottom turned into a chex mix soft peanut brittle, with a chocolate top. Amazing. Word of warning, don’t eat these straight out of the cold fridge – they’re hard! If they sit at room temperature, they are just right.
And if the name of this site doesn’t make you think about food, nothing will! Find these treats at Half Baked Harvest:
http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/idiot-proof-snickerdoodle-peanut-butter-chocolate-chex-mix-bars/

5. 15-minute Thin Mints… no really. They only took about 15 minutes! Alright you got me. With my lacking skills, it took me about ten minutes to de-icing the oreos (I did two full packages!) and about 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Then 20 minutes to coat them all – it was a lot of cookies! These really are easy to make though, and a hit with my coworkers. See Santa? I’m good – I share! Still waiting for my vehicle with a big red bow on top……..no? For some extra fun lovin’ with this recipe, we used the leftover mint chocolate in the bottom of our pot and added some almond milk to make the most delicious hot chocolate and not create waste! It was so creamy.
You can make these simple tasty treats by Top With Cinnamon here:
http://www.topwithcinnamon.com/2013/02/15-minute-thin-mints-3-ingredients-no-bake-vegan.html.
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6. Last and everyone’s favorite, No-Bake Coconut Delights.
No-bake is my ideal treat right there. I had my boss begging for the recipe and they were a hit all around. Really simple to make; though I did add some agave nectar to the food processor and did these in two half-batches to get them fine enough to hold together. Which they did, really well! For the coconut lovers in your family, these are a great no-bake option! We call them coconut snowballs!
The place to go for this recipe is Whole New Mom:
http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/no-bake-coconut-delights-sugar-dairy-egg-and-grain-free/
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BONUS!!
So not only did we give all of these treats to Santa, I shared them at work and made up gift boxes of all these goodies for my extended family. I wanted to include a little something extra though, so we made personalized hot chocolate mix in little jars to hand out. There are no pictures, they weren’t very pleasing to look at – especially compared to my nieces hot chocolate who really got in touch with her inner creative child and made the cutest snowman hot chocolate jars, complete with actual stick arms! We just put ours in plain plastic jars with aluminum lids from the dollar store and wrote on them with permanent marker. But they were still fun to make and when I put all these ingredients into the food processor the whole kitchen smelled like heavenly creamy chocolatey goodness. Don’t take my word for it, try out the recipe at Live Simply:
http://livesimply.me/2014/11/25/diy-homemade-hot-chocolate-mix-without-refined-sugar-powdered-milk/

I did make a few changes to this recipe for our own convenience, using regular old organic sugar in place of the sucanat and adding a packet of vanilla sugar ( a fine sweetened vanilla powder). 

Daiya Cheezy Mac Review!!

Yay! It’s a Daiya Cheezy Mac review! Okay, so obviously I have failed in my plan to go McDougall. There’s always tomorrow, right? RIGHT?!

Okay, here’s what the box looks like:
Daiya Cheez

Oh my goodness I can not tell you how excited we were to try this. Now I have never claimed to be a good cook – in fact let me be the first to tell you that I am TERRIBLE. So when we make “mac and cheese” it goes something like this…
1. Boil the noodles.
2. Drain the noodles 3/4 but leave some water.
3. Dump in Daiya shredded chedder. THE WHOLE PACKAGE.
4. Cut a brick of Daiya Havarti in thirds and add 1/3 to the pot.
5. Stir.
6. Let sit for five minutes to melt.
7. Stir again and serve.

Not to mention, the cost of doing it that way. Noodles are really cheap, but the bag of Daiya shreds is over $5 and so is the Havarti block. This was much cheaper.

Okay, first impressions:
Daiya Cheez Impressions

I was happy to see that the cheeze packet was so big! But.. but.. where’s the rest of the noodles? Really, that’s it? I read the back quick and it said it serves three. Uh oh, there’s four of us! Seriously, the noodle packet is small. So I just added regular old elbow noodles from our own stash. Okay, not OLD.. that sounded bad!

Good food, crappy pic

Sorry this picture sucks. But I was too busy eating to take a new one! This mac and cheeze got three thumbs up from the kids and a half thumb rating from me (before I added ketchup and hot sauce and pepper). Overall, it was a success and I recommend it on those quick nights when you just don’t have time and kids are screaming and you all need some comfort food.

Vegan Sloppy Joes!

It’s an awful dreary day here in Ontario, so what better warm bellied comfort food than sloppy joes? In all honesty, it’s likely been around 18 years since I’ve had them but I have to say that these were pretty exceptional.

I often receive cans of baked beans in tomato sauce from the local food bank, so that was my inspiration for this dish. We ate them up too fast for a photo op.

Ingredients:
(serves 4)
1 can beans in tomato sauce
1 small onion chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 package yves veggie ground round
3 tbsp smoky barbecue sauce
garlic margarine
hamburger buns

Prepare the buns by spreading some garlic margarine on the open face of each half.

Start frying the onions in a bit of olive oil until they’re translucent. Add in the yves veggie ground round and saute until well heated.

Stick the buns in the oven on low (no higher than 200!) for a few minutes just to lightly toast them.

Add the can of beans in tomato sauce and stir thoroughly. Mix in some smoky barbecue sauce for extra flavor.

Scoop the bean mixture on top of the garlicky buns and enjoy!

**Bonus: Even my 8 year old highly sensitive kid who despises any beans and would once never eat anything brown ate his full serving without complaint.**