Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Wow! How slack! Over two months between posts!

It's not like I haven't got anything to share with you - it's finding the time!!!

Anyway, this one's worth waiting for!

We were invited to attend a home school park day meet up that included celebrating an 11th (i think!) birthday.
On a private chat, I spoke with the mum of the birthday girl (also a friend) about the celebration. It went something like this:

Friend: There'll be cake!!
Me: Vegan??
Friend: Vegan cake?
Friend: NO EGGS????
Me: Yup!
Friend: NO MILK???
Me: Nut milk!

Clearly, I believed my friend could not grasp such a concept! But I was up to the challenge! I made Triple Chocolate Cupcakes from Vegan Lunch Box AND BLEW THEM AWAY!!!!

The cupcakes are moist and delicious. My friend's comment was 'I can not believe there are no eggs in this'.
Other people tried them and were also impressed. So much so, I promised to write this post and blog the recipe.
Here it is! Try it!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24

3C all purpose flour
1/2C cocoa powder
2t baking soda
1t salt
1C sugar
1C packed brown sugar
2C water
1C canola oil
1T vanilla
3/4-1C vegan choc chips (optional - I did not use these)

Preheat oven to 180C. Spray 24 muffin cups/cupcake liners with non stick spray.
Sift the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar, water, oil, vanilla. Mix with electric beater until well combined and smooth.
Divide batter evenly between the 24 muffin cups (about 1/4C each). Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with some chocolate chips (opt).
Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting with Chocolate Vegan Buttercream.

To make a cake: divided the batter between 2 9-inch round cake pans that have been sprayed with non stick spray. sprinkle each layer with half the chocolate chips (opt). Bake at 180C for 40 minutes. Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Vegan Buttercream
(makes perfect amount for 24 cupcakes or the cake option)

3C icing sugar
1/2C cocoa powder
1/2C marg
3 1/2 -4 T rice milk
1 1/2t vanilla

Sift together icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add marg, milk and vanilla and beat well with an electric mixer until frosting is smooth.

Just try to stop yourself from eating toooo many!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Twenty Eleven Resolutions

Wow, it's been a while! 

After much thought I've come up with 4 resolutions I want to work on in 2011.

Avoid consumerism for the whole year.
I'm not sure how I will go here, buying second hand and freebees all allowed, but being addicted to books....(I have purchased a kindle, so I'll try downloading and reading the free ones this year) I have allowed only ONE unnecessary purchase per month, if I need it, so I REALLY have to think about it!
I also have some great ideas regarding birthdays and xmas under this resolution too! No 'STUFF'!!

Avoid refined sugar 
Nuff said!

Return to raw food living
Not to be anal about it though - raw breakfast and lunch, plus part raw dinner should do it.
I did this for 6 weeks last year and the weight just fell off me and I felt FANTASTIC!!!!
Considering that I have just purchased (Dec) 3 new raw books (waiting for arrival) I want to try at least one new raw recipe and blog about it. (I've done one tonight! Blog post and pics coming soon)

Return to a healthy weight and love my body
I think the above two resolutions will definitely help me with this one.

I really really hope this year is WAY better than last year for me!

Rock on 2011! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Deviation from the Theme

Tonight Popeye decided he was going to cook dinner, as he usually does on the weekends (that's the only time he is home!). Awesome! I decided to alleviate some of my boredom and check out some new (to me) vegan blogs. One of the blogs is posting 30 days of gravies for Vegan MoFo which I thought was pretty cool. I planning on making her cashew gravy, and I'll post a link to her blog once I have made it. Another new to me blog pointed me back in the direction of Vegan Dad's blog (not new to me - I love his blog!!) and more specifically his post for vegan boneless chickenless wings from 2008. They were just what I felt like and I thought they would go well with Popeye's planned fried rice meal (which turned into a nasi goreng type dish - that's how he rolls).  As a bonus,  I had all of the ingredients except the required amount of panko crumbs (I only had 3/4C of panko and topped it up with some bread crumbs from La Panella).

They were really quick to make and tasty to boot! I think I'll have to make a double batch next time as we all had 2 each and the kids were looking for more! If I didn't run out of energy at this point, I would have made an awesome sauce to go with it.

Vegan Dad's blog has a link to a chicken style broth recipe but the link is broken. I found this one which someone in the comments suggested the original may have been from.

Now I need to go through my next cookbook to see what I'll be making next week (guaranteed I WON'T be making anything Monday night - I've got day surgery planned). I've been quite impressed with Passion For Pulses this week, I hope the next one is just as good.

Happy Mofo-ing,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vegan MoFo 2010 - Mushroom and Chickpea Stroganoff

Yesterday saw me trying a stroganoff for the first time since becoming vegan. I was a little excited about this and skeptical that the homemade sour cream would do the trick. I needn't have worried.

Verdict: I'd make this again too! I've been having great successes with 'Passion For Pulses' and I'm really impressed. Next time I'd watch the last 10 minutes cooking time more closely (when the sour cream gets added) or add more than 1C of sour cream so it would be a little bit more thinner than it was.

Mushroom and Chickpea Stroganoff adapted from Passion For Pulses compiled by Nancy Longnecker

2C cooked chickpeas
2T oil
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2t paprika
2C mushrooms, chopped
1T tomato paste
1 large tomato, chopped
1C sour cream (vegan homemade recipe to follow)
1t dry mustard
1t dried dill
1T chives, chopped
1/4C parsley, chopped
1t honey (I used agave)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic and oil. add paprika; cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook for a few more minutes. Add tomato paste with the remaining ingredients, including chickpeas. SImmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Serve with brown rice or wholemeal noodles.

Almost Sour Cream (p. 10) from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah 

1 1/2C silken tofu, squeezed and drained
1T canola oil
2t cider vinegar
1/2t salt
1t sugar
2t lemon juice

Blend until smooth and thickened up. Refrigerate.

On another totally non-related, non-food note, I want to share what has been happening in my life for the past few weeks. I found out I was pregnant about 4 weeks ago. Things were going well until I woke up last Thursday and found that ALL of my pregnancy symptoms had completely stopped. Concerned, but telling myself it was all in my head, I waited until my Saturday appointment to see the Dr. After the pregnancy formalities, I expressed my concern to the Dr, who took some bloods and instructed me to come back the following Tuesday for follow up test. The blood tests were to check my hormone levels, which are supposed to at least double every couple of days. Yesterday I went for the results and my hormone levels had actually dropped. I was sent for an ultrasound today and my suspicions were confirmed when the radiologist could not find a heart beat and declared the baby was about a week younger than my actual dates. This is called a missed miscarriage, or a missed abortion. I think the next step is to go to the hospital for a D & C to remove the foetus. We will find out for sure tomorrow.
As sad as I am, I believe these things happen for a reason and maybe the timing wasn't right. I already have 3 gorgeous children and I am eternally grateful for them.
Why am I sharing so publicly on my blog? Because it's my bloody blog and I'll write whatever the bloody hell I want! But also, I find it a real shame that these sort of topics are taboo. It's bad enough that pregnant women fear telling ANYONE they are pregnant until at least 12 weeks, but women lose babies all the time and it seems that once this happens, they are left to deal with it themselves. I want this out in the open. I want this pregnancy remembered, and the baby, barely out of cell dividing stage but my baby nonetheless, to be discussed openly especially within my family. My children know about the baby (we've given it a new name each week, relating to the size of it - this week it was 'Prune') but have yet to be told about the loss (this will probably happen tomorrow when we find out what the next step is). They have been so helpful to me while I was stuck in bed with morning sickness. They are the best children in the world - regardless of what members of my extended family believe.

Goodbye angel baby, may we meet in another life.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 2 - Cooking Frenzy

Day 2 saw us cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Here in Melbourne, it's a public holiday for Melbourne Cup Day racing. We boycott the races in this house, so instead spent part of the day cooking lima beans, baking biscuits and cake and making a yummy dinner.

Almost all of the food (except the cake) came from the cookbook I'm cooking from for the week 'Passion for Pulses' Compiled by Nancy Longnecker.

After soaking 500g of dried lima beans overnight, I cooked them for just over an hour first thing this morning to make sure they'd be ready for dinner. I've never cooked nor eaten (to my knowledge) lima beans before, so was a little apprehensive. More on the lima beans later.

Next I cooked and cooled a small amount of green lentils for the Lentil Cookies (p. 25). I managed to convince Tweenie to do the rest of the cooking for these cookies, which really isn't that hard as she REALLY LOVES to bake!
These turned out quite well. I loved the inclusion of dried apricots, sultanas and sunflower seeds and there is no taste at all of the lentils. These cookies remind me of the recent cookbooks dedicated to hiding healthy vegetables in not-so-healthy foods so kids will eat them! 

Verdict - Really yum! Kids liked them although Tweenie preferred the cake. I'd make them again.

Lentil Cookies from Passion for Pulses compiled by Nancy Longnecker

1/4C dried green lentils (1/2C cooked)
1/2C butter
1/2C packed brown sugar
1/4C vegan sugar
1 egg (we used egg replacer)
1t vanilla
3/4C white or wholemeal flour
1/2t bicarb of soda
1/2C chopped dried apricots
1/2C raisins
1/2C sunflower seeds
1T honey (we used agave)
1t mixed spice (we used cinnamon)

Rinse lentils, put into pot with plenty of water. Bring to boil, them simmer gently for 30 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain and cool.
Cream butter and sugars; add egg (replacer) and vanilla, mixing until fluffy.
Stir in flour, and bicarb; add lentils and remaining ingredients.
Drop by teaspoon onto greased baking tray, press flat with a fork.
Bake 10-12 minutes in 180c oven.

Next I made a Blueberry Breakfast Cake from Fat Free Vegan. It's not a sweet cake, but very nice! No need for my amateur picture, check out the link!

Tonights dinner used 2 different recipes from Passion For Pulses. First was Lima Bean and Potato Casserole (p.33) and second was Himalayan Mung Bean Fritters (MU WO) (p.73). Both of these recipes were great! The kids couldn't stop eating the fritters and YM even went back for seconds of the casserole!

Verdict: I'd DEFINITELY make both of these again. The mung bean fritters were ONLY soaked then pureed mung beans! As odd as the puree seemed and as doubtful as I was that they'd work, they did work and they tasted great dipped into some sweet chilli sauce.

How good does that look!!

Himalayan Mung Bean Fritters (MU WO) from Passion For Pulses

2C mung beans (green gram)
1-2T soy sauce
1t cumin powder
1t salt
oil for frying

Soak mung beans overnight. Drain well. Grind or puree mung beans with soy sauce (worked well in my blender). Add cumin and salt.
Shape into fritters in the palm of your hand (my puree was WAY too sloppy for this so I just dropped spoonfuls into the oil to shallow fry).
Fry until brown, serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Lima Bean and Potato Casserole from Passion For Pulses

2 1/2C (500g) dried lima veans
1T oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2t plain flour
2C vegetable stock
6 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4C tomato paste
1/2t each of basil, thyme and oregano
1t sugar
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped (I NEVER use celery in ANY of my cooking - blerh!)
5 potatoes (400g) sliced 2mm thick
15g butter, melted
1/2t cumin seeds

Soak lima beans for at least 6 hours. Drain. Add to large pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil for 15 minutes; gently simmer for 1 hour. Drain.
Saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are soft.
Add flour. Stir until combined.
Gradually stir in stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, thyme, oregano, sugar, carrots and celery.
Simmer covered until carrots are tender; stir in lima beans.
Put bean mixture into ovenproof dish. Top with tomato slices, brush with butter and sprinkle with cumin seeds.
Bake uncovered in 180c oven for about 40 minutes or until potato slices are tender and browned.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 1

And so starts another VeganMoFo!

This week I am taking all of my recipes from the book 'Passion for Pulses' Compiled by Nancy Longnecker.

I've had this cookbook for quite a while, but usually forget about it! I decided to use this book for the first week as pulses are really something that lacks in my weekly cooking and I need to cook with them more often. I'm excited for this week as I'm trying things I might not usually pick from this book, including Lentil Cookies and Chickpea Cookies.

Tonights dish was Persian Bean Casserole (ARSH)  (pg. 68).  I loved the idea of using 3 different pulses (chickpeas, kidney beans & cannellini) and throwing in some pasta is always a winner with kids.

My verdict: Quite a bland dish, but the kids liked it. Next time I would double the fried onion garnish as I really liked the taste of the onions in each mouthful - it added a little bit needed flavour.

Persian Bean Casserole (ARSH) in Passion for Pulses

Serves 8 (actually, it was just a perfect amount for the 2 adults and 3 kiddies in this family)
(use tinned or precooked peas and beans to save time)

1C (200g) dried chickpeas
1C (140g) dried kidney beans
1C (180g) dried cannellini or haricot beans
1T oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1t dried mint
10C (2.5L) water
2 1/2C pasta shells
2 bunches (4C) fresh English spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper
plain yoghurt for garnish (I DID NOT use this. Not a fan of soy yoghurts.)
1C fresh coriander, chopped

Soak chickpeas and beans overnight. Drain. In large pot, fry onion, 1 clove of garlic and mint in oil. Remove from pot; set aside. 
Put chickpeas and beans in same pot. Add water. Bring to the boil; simmer for 1.5 hours or until beans are tender, adding more water as necessary.
Add pasta and return to the boil. When pasta is nearly cooked add spinach, parsley, salt, pepper, and the second clove of garlic. Cook for 10 minutes; remove from heat.
When arsh has cooled slightly, top with a dollop of yoghurt, and garnish with fried onion mixture and fresh chopped coriander.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gaia - A New Find

On the weekend I went to an expo and discovered (actually, Popeye discovered and he shared his find with me!) Gaia Skin Naturals Australia.
ALL of their products are vegan (and are labelled as such) with the exception of their baby skin soothing lotion (which is like a nappy rash cream) which contains beeswax. I spoke with Michelle, the lovely owner of the company, and informed me that they are yet to find a vegan friendly, chemical free ingredient to soothe the nappy rash on a baby's bottom (other choices on the market include petrochemicals or lanolin. Sometimes, for the health and well being of baby, the lesser of the three evils needs to be chosen).

facial_exfoliant.gif  I picked up a couple of things for myself at the expo and had the pleasure of trialling a few things today. I washed my face with Gaia's facial exfoliant that contains super finely crushed walnut shells, organic ingredients and essential oils. Only a tiny bit is required and it felt great on my skin.


I followed this up (after drying off my skin) with a spray of this refreshing toner and immediately after I rubbed in some facial moisturiser, both of which my skin LOVED and soaked it up in no time!

foaming-cleanser-pink-grapefruit-large.jpgI also have this foaming cleaner which I haven't tried yet.

Lastly, while at the expo, I felt some of their bamboo baby wipes, which look quite thin but are really, really tough and extremely smooth.

I may well be preaching to the converted, but since I was unaware of these wonderful vegan products, I assume others may not have heard of them either.

Gaia products (including mens and pregnancy) can now be bought at Priceline stores, Coles, pharmacies and more. Check out this list of Australian stockists.

If you haven't tried Gaia, I recommend you check them out. If you already use Gaia, I'd love to hear what you love (or not like, for that matter) so I can look into trying them too!