Tag Archives: vegetarian

It’s Tomato Time! | Homemade tomato sauce & more!

25 Aug

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Oh hi there! It’s been a while! Hope your summer has been amazing. It’s so hard to believe that it’s nearly September. Wow! But before I go on and on about how I love the Fall, I’ll share a hint of what we’ve been up to recently—lots of cooking/making with fresh local veggies! Hooray!

Our amazing 90-year-old neighbor’s son dropped off a bag of tomatoes from her garden and one of our other neighbors (Ollie’s favorite!) invited us to “go shopping” his garden. What a treat! I’ve eaten my share of fresh garden tomatoes this year but this time we’d gotten so many at once and were a bit overwhelmed. So we decided to make our own red sauce.

This recipe is a mostly scaled down version (with a little twist) of the “Big-Batch Summer Tomato Sauce” from America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook. It still made about 3 pints of sauce. We froze some & took some to Ollie’s favorite neighbor but truth be told, I didn’t share any with the other neighbor because she is Italian and I was completely intimidated. I did, however, thank her profusely for the amazing tomatoes the next time I saw her, so don’t worry. 

Also, I’m apologizing in advance for the lack of photos. I took some stellar ones but my phone got completely destroyed (run over by a highway full of cars) and failed to back up that day (Murphy’s Law!). Seriously, people. I know. 

Ingredients

5 lbs of fresh organic tomatoes (in season & garden fresh are the BEST!)
2 Tbsp of tomato paste (we didn’t have any so see how I improvised below)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of organic cane sugar (you could use raw honey or brown sugar, too — or omit it altogether)
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbsp fresh)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp of red wine vinegar

Steps

1. Oh crap! = The realization that you don’t quite have all of the ingredients to make what you want to make. What went wrong this time? Well, we didn’t have any tomato paste. I researched a bit online and most sources said to cook down (reduce) tomato sauce. Honestly, we were making 2 other things that night and I didn’t feel like waiting for a can of tomato sauce to reduce on the stovetop BEFORE I could make the tomato sauce. Then I remembered that I had a package of organic sun-dried tomatoes and I found this recipe for Sun-dried Tomato Puree (I followed the recipe exactly but omitted the garlic cloves & recommended additions because I wanted to keep it simple since I was adding it to a sauce recipe. I also don’t think I used quite as much olive oil as the 1/2 cup in the recipe when all was said & done).

2. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over high heat and prepare an ice bath (ice & cold water) in a large bowl. Remove core from tomatoes and score a small X in the base of each. In batches, with a slotted spoon, lower tomatoes into boiling water & cook just until skins are loose, about 15-45 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to the ice bath to cool (about 2 minutes). Take tomatoes out of the ice bath and remove loosened tomato skins (they will fall right off like magic!). 

3. Process garlic in a food processor until minced, about 10 seconds. Leave the garlic in the food processor.  Process peeled tomatoes, in batches, until almost smooth, 15-20 seconds. It’s okay that your garlic got a little more processed in the first batch of tomatoes. They’re all going to hang out together in step 4 anyway. Transfer each batch of pureed tomatoes to a large pot (we used a dutch oven). 

4. Add the garlic, sun-dried tomato puree (substituted for the tomato paste), basil and salt to the tomatoes and bring to simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and reduced by 1/2  (about 1.5-2 hours). Stir vinegar and sugar into pot, seasoning with additional sugar to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. You could easily can the sauce, but we opted to pour it into pint size mason jars & freeze what we knew we wouldn’t give away or eat in a couple of days.

Notes

This sauce was really tasty and fresh! While it took a while to make a lot of that time was simmering time (read: time when you can be doing lots of other things!).

It was the perfect recipe to use all of the fresh tomatoes that we’d never have eaten in time.

If you don’t like tomato seeds in your sauce (or you have picky kids), consider straining the seeds out before pouring the finished sauce into mason jars…or better yet…cut each tomato in 1/2 and scoop the seeds out with your thumb after step 2 above. 

Banana Pup Cups | Let’s Celebrate!

1 Jun

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Ollie turns five tomorrow and that’s cause to celebrate! He’s our favorite little clown, who loves to sing, still suckles his “Precious” fleece toy, bounces like a little jumping bean when he sees his favorite humans, and he always has time for a good bum scratch!

We adopted him when he was just 13 weeks old, a puppy mill rescue with a special back foot. He has been a great side kick for Stevie and keeps us all laughing!

In honor of his birthday I created a frozen dog treat recipe, which was really easy to make and only has four all-natural ingredients!

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Banana Pup Cakes
makes 7 frozen treats

Ingredients

2 – ripe bananas
1 – 4 oz container of unsweetened applesauce 
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Steps

1. Mash ripe bananas in a medium size bowl with a fork.

2. Add remaining ingredients and combine using a spatula.

3. Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan.

4. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling cups a generous half full. (I got 7 frosty treats out of my batter.)

5. Place in the freezer, our treats were frozen solid in 2 hours.

Notes

  • These treats are great for pups with allergies, Stevie is intolerant to all things poultry, they are vegetarian, wheat, and soy free.
  • If you have difficulty removing the frozen treats from the muffin pan, just flip the pan over and run warm water on it for a few seconds.
  • The cupcakes wrappers are easy to remove and just peel off, no need for non-stick spray.
  • If you are running out of room in your freezer, 6 of these treats fit in a loaf pan, and would save space.

Stevie & Ollie approved!

Happy New Year | A Healthy Start!

19 Jan

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Holy cow! Happy 2014! Where did all of the days after Thanksgiving 2013 go? Wheeee!

After lots of yummy, and well worth it in a homemade-coconut-cream-pie-kind-of-way, holiday eating & baking & giving, we’re back on a healthier eating track. A friend recommended a healthier food blog to Jess and we’ve started flipping through all of the wonderful cookbooks (old & new) on our bookshelves for inspiration–with the interwebs a finger’s length away, it’s easy to rely solely on them web for meal planning even though we’ve got a wealth of beautifully bound print books close by. One resolution (use what we’ve got!) is well underway.

Here are the two things we’ve (ahem…Jess) has made so far from Sarah Britton’s blog, My New Roots. The Winter Abundance Bowl (recipe here) and these little gems (Spaghetti Squash Baby Cakes with Crispy Sage). The abundance bowl was insanely good (seriously, it’s a MUST make)–trust the recipe and her cooking process AND the fact that everything tastes amazing together (a bite of this with a bite of that) with all of the the different textures. Oh hi, pumpkin seed sauce! Where have you been all my life? It would be a delicious dip for veggies, too.

We adapted the squash baby cakes recipe because every store we went visited was out of spaghetti squash (seriously, not a single one). Jess used butternut squash instead and didn’t include the fried sage leaves on top & they were still delicious and sage-y. She cooked some of the cakes in a skillet and then baked the rest. The leftover cakes heated up really well in the toaster oven. I don’t love butternut squash and I happily ate these up.

I’m really excited to explore the other recipes on My New Roots and share our experience with you.

We had what seemed like a million carrots in the refrigerator so I made a really yummy Ginger Apple Carrot Soup from Joy the Baker’s blog one Sunday afternoon. 

Ok. It wouldn’t be a good food related post without ending on a yummy sweet treat that I’ve made several times since discovering the recipe. Available here (but I’ve shared the recipe below so I can include my tips/process notes). It makes four servings and even though you’ll be tempted to eat more…don’t do it–it’s really rich.

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Chocolate Ricotta Mousse from Real Simple
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 15-ounce container ricotta (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate, melted, plus more, shaved, for topping (I used these mini chocolate chips and then just sprinkled a few on top)

Directions

  1. In a food processor, blend the ricotta and sugar until smooth.
  2. Add the melted chocolate and blend until thoroughly mixed in (should be a smooth chocolate color with no visible white).
  3. Divide among bowls and top with the shaved chocolate.
  4. The mousse can be refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 2 days. The original recipe says to bring it up to room temperature before serving — but we like it a little more chilled so I usually toss in into the refrigerator after making it for 30 minutes or so.

Maker’s notes:
There were several comments on the original recipe that said it had a very grainy texture. Mine wasn’t at all–quite the opposite actually. I attribute this to 2 things.

  1. A great (but not insanely expensive) food processor. We have this Cuisinart that I found online on sale for $99. I don’t care that it’s white and doesn’t look super modern & sleek. It’s an amazing kitchen work horse.
  2. Really good quality whole milk ricotta (I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Calabro is my favorite & we buy it at Whole Foods). It’s creamy &  blends up very nicely. It’s so tasty, that I’ve been known to eat it straight from the carton with a little bit of salt & pepper. Oops!

What healthy and delicious recipes have you been making in 2014?

Simple Side Dish | Sriracha Honey Glazed Carrots

6 Dec

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Since my Sriracha roasted brussels sprouts post was so popular, here is another really simple side dish recipe. How simple you ask? You are just three ingredients closer to tasty town. Y-E-S!

Sriracha Honey Glazed Carrots
serves 2

Ingredients

 1 lb organic whole carrots (cleaned, peeled and cut into circles)

1 TBS cold pressed olive oil

1 TBS Sriracha (hot chili garlic sauce) 

1 TBS local raw honey

salt and pepper to taste

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or olive oil
3. Place the prepped carrots in a medium bowl
4. Combine olive oil and Sriracha, pour over carrots, stir to combine, make sure they are coated evenly.
5. Place coated carrots on to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
6. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7. Bake 20 – 30 minutes depending on the roast level you desire. Stir carrots half way through to ensure even browning.
8. Remove from oven, while the carrots are still hot place in a bowl and coat with the raw honey.

Notes
1. Sriracha is a sweet hot chili garlic sauce, 1 TBS will give you a slight heat factor, feel free to increase the Sriracha in this recipe to increase the heat!
2. Serve each portion in a vintage bowl. The bowl in the picture is not vintage, but it is cute and made by Marimekko.

Makin’ Pies | A Thanksgiving Recap

4 Dec

“It’s not far I can walk down the block to Table Talk
Close my eyes make the pies all day
Plastic cap on my hair I used to mind now I don’t care
I used to mind now I don’t care ’cause I’m great” – Patty Griffin

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

Me and my grandparents circa 1982. I think.

When I was little my grandfather used to tell me this story of one of the first jobs he had as a kid. He would go into local stores and look for mold on all of the Table Talk pies that they were selling. His job was to take a little pocket knife and scrape the mold off of the bottom crust and place the pie back on the shelf. It was the depression and totally indicative of the times and the spirit of that era.

Why all this talk about pies and making pies.. well I made several different versions of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving and wanted to share some recipes, links and love. Kate thinks I am crazy, and often calls me a baking renegade. Thanksgiving week was no different. I decided to make four pies this year, one to keep and the rest to give away. They were all pumpkin based, one traditional, a vegan option, and even a gluten-free paleo friendly option! Now you get the picture. For real.

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The traditional pumpkin pies were for my family and for the staff that volunteered to work Thanksgiving morning at Bloc, one of the cafes I manage. This had a buttermilk and butter crust and Kate’s Dad’s pumpkin pie filling recipe. The results… amazing! The crust was evenly browned and crisp and never got soggy even after chilling in the fridge overnight!

The crust recipe is from Joy the Baker’s blog and it is her Dad’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe.
Here’s the link: Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie

I don’t want to share Denny’s exact pumpkin pie filling recipe here, so I have found a similar vintage pumpkin pie recipe that will do the trick.
Carnation’s Famous Pumpkin Pie from 1959 (hint: leave out the cloves in the recipe)
Notes:
– I made the crust in the food processor and it still came out amazing
– I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I made my own with 1/3 c whole milk and 1/3 tsp cider vinegar
– I had extra pie crust & filling since I used recyclable pie tins for my lucky pie recipients, so I made a mini pie for Kate & I 🙂

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Next up…Vegan Mini Pies, delivered swiftly to the folks that volunteered to work at Diesel on Thanksgiving morning! The crust is made from coconut oil, not shortening and is soy free. It remained very light in color, but yielded a very sturdy, yet flaky crust. I found this recipe on a blog that is amazing and super cute, Loves and Lemons, it was the complete recipe, the author provided.

Again, I made the crust in the food processor, no kneading or hand cutting in the fat for me! The only change I made was that I used canned coconut milk instead of almond milk in the filling, because it is what I had on hand.
Mini Vegan Pumpkin Pies

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Lastly, a recipe I had been wanting to try out since the first Fall leaf hit the pavement. Paleo Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake from Paleo Fondue. One word Y-U-M! Kate isn’t even a fan of cheesecake and she loved this recipe. In typical Jess fashion I did make a substitution. I thought the unsweetened coconut crust that she used in her recipe was too “healthy” for my liking at the time, so I made my own crust recipe up:

Gluten Free Ginger Snap Crust
makes enough for a 9″ spring form pan

3/4  package of Mi-Del Gluten Free Ginger Snaps
1 TBS melted virgin coconut oil
pinch of all natural sea salt

1) Pulse ginger snaps and salt in a food processor until evenly sized crumbs are created, graham cracker cust

2) Once ginger snaps are processed, add the coconut oil and pulse until crumbs look evenly coated with oil and wet

3) Coat the bottom of your spring form pan with the crumbs and evenly press the layer, ensuring that the mixture goes about 1 inch up the sides of the pan

4) Place pan on a baking sheet and bake crust in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 mins, check frequently you don’t want your crust to burn. You are just baking the crust enough to set it.

5) Cool crust completely then refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

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Notes:
– In the photo above I made coconut whipped cream, using chilled canned full fat coconut milk and powdered sugar.

There you have it, our Thanksgiving recapped in pie recipes. You should try all of them, but if that is too overwhelming, just take my advice and bake at least one of the recipes above. It will be worth it.

 

 

Let’s Celebrate! | Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

22 Sep

Every family has their own little traditions or occasions to celebrate, ours included. 🙂 This post is a celebration of Ollie. We found him on Petfinder and knew that we had to give this little brown Boston Terrier, a puppy mill survivor, a proper home. A home where he always has a toy to comfort him, a brother to play with, homemade treats to snack on, and someone to cuddle.
ImageMy favorite memory from the first week Ollie lived with us, happened at my parents’ house, my childhood home, in Dracut, MA. It was my Aunt’s 60th birthday and the family had decided to go out to lunch and then have cake and ice cream back at my parents’ house. After lunch, Kate and I made sure we were the first to arrive back at the house. Then Auntie came in and called out for Stevie “Where’s my Stevie?” “Come and see your Auntie!” All of a sudden, to her surprise, this tiny little white flash came running down the hallway! She had the biggest smile and greatest birthday surprise — puppy love from the newest member of our family!
In honor of Ollie’s adoption anniversary we took him to the Somerville Dog Festival in our neighborhood on a recent Sunday afternoon. A field full of games to play, prizes to win and free treats to sample… any dog’s dream. Followed up by some homemade dog treats for the boys to enjoy. Yay!

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Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Recipe credit: Adapted from an original recipe by Courtney Danyelle Georg (instagram handle: triceracourt) 

Makes 40 – 60 treats (depending on the size & shape you choose)

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 TBS natural peanut butter
1 TBS ground flax
1 TBS honey
3/4 tsp cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven 350 degrees

2) Line two baking sheets with parchment

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients

4) The dough should be dry and come together in a ball when mixed

5) Add a few drops of water if the dough does not form a ball while mixing

6) Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured work surface

7) Using a rolling pin roll dough out to 1/2″ thickness, cut out shapes using a cookie cutter shape of your choice

8) Bake for 20 minutes, then take the baking sheets out, flip over each treat, and then rotate trays before returning to oven

9) Total bake time: 40 mins

10) Turn oven off after 40 mins and let cool in oven on the baking sheets

Stevie and Ollie loved them — they couldn’t get enough! Also, we made a little package for our dog walker to share them with her pack 🙂

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Happy baking! Enjoy the recipe — I’m sure your pups will! Below is a photo of Ollie with the prize he won at the Somerville Dog Festival. He carried all around the festival and all the way home on our walk. What a character!

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Best Frosting Ever | Nutella Buttercream Atop Chocolate Cupcakes

5 Sep

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I can’t post this without first acknowledging that it’s been a LOOOONG time since my last post. Phew, so sorry! I promise this hasn’t turned into an orphan blog. She still has loving parents. 🙂 I hope this recipe is well worth the wait (I think it is).

A note about the cupcakes. Yes, they are indeed vegan. Gasp. Your friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers won’t notice. It’s a great recipe to have on hand when you are low on things like butter & eggs but want to make an amazing treat to brighten someone’s day. If you are making these cupcakes for a vegan friend, frost these with a vanilla or coffee “buttercream” (make any standard buttercream recipe but use shortening and/or a vegan “butter” substitute for the butter & soy, almond or coconut milk for the liquid) — sadly the Nutella buttercream recipe that follows the cupcake recipe is not vegan.

Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake 

Recipe credit: Original recipe from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” baking book — adapted by Jess.

Makes 12 cupcakes (We almost always double the recipe!)

Ingredients

1 cup soy milk (You can use almond milk or if you’re not worried about making these vegan you can also use regular milk or buttermilk. If you use buttermilk, omit the vinegar below.)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (It’s our secret weapon! When added in small amounts to chocolate baked goods, it brings out their chocolately goodness. It can be found in the coffee aisle of most markets and/or specialty stores. It is different from ground espresso as it dissolves completely in water.)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2) Whisk together the soy milk (or whatever you’ve decided to use*) and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. *You’re basically making “buttermilk” so, again, if you decide to use buttermilk, skip the vinegar & this step.

3) Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy.

4) In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are okay).

5) Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (we rotated the pans after 13 minutes).

6) Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

You don’t have to love Nutella to love this frosting but it’s true, you MUST like a chocolate/hazelnut combo. The frosting is super fluffy & light. The salt is an absolute necessity as it perfectly cuts the sweetness of the Nutella. We use a pastry bag to appropriately gob the frosting on top of each cupcake — and be warned — it’s quite tempting to pile some onto a spoon for eating.  Try to show some restraint, okay?

(Recipe credit: I referenced a few recipes online before mixing & matching & adapting.)

This should frost a layer cake and 12 cupcakes but I usually second guess it and double the recipe (and always end up with leftovers but I’d rather have leftover frosting than be scrambling to make another batch!).

Ingredients

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup of shortening

2 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup Nutella (hazelnut spread)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons whole milk

1) In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and sugar together on low until well combined. Add the Nutella and increase speed to medium. Beat for two minutes.

2) Add the vanilla and salt, beating for an additional 30 seconds.

3) Last, add the milk and continue to beat for about one minute, or until frosting lightens slightly in both color and texture.

4) Frost cupcakes & enjoy. YUM!

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