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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

When the pumpkins came home Troy (the pup) started licking the outside and biting at the skin to open up the pumpkin to eat as much as he could get. I saved the pumpkin before he got inside, and roasted it a few days ago. So it was finally time to make something with my bounty of roasted pumpkin.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
prep time: 15 mins
cook time: 30 mins
oven temp: 350 degrees
yield: 35 cookies (various sizes)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup pumpkin
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp oil (you can use canola, vegetable, etc.)
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile measure out all of your ingredients and place them in a bowl. Mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated. It will form a stiff dough that you can then roll out and cut out your shapes. Don't forget to flour your board and rolling pin.

Place cut out treats (mine were fish, frogs and flowers) on a nonstick cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes. I like to flip them about half way through to make sure they are browned evenly on both sides. Let the treats cool a bit before handing out to the pups.

Store in an air tight container for a few weeks. I already know I'm wont last that long because Troy has been drooling over these treats since I made them. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

evol Veggie Curry Review

Last night I was tired. Sitting in my freezer are a bunch of frozen meals that at some point I bought because I thought they would be worthy of a trial. The evol veggie curry wrap had ended up in that dark cold place waiting to be microwaved and eaten. So last night I took it out, wrapped it in the obligatory paper towel and popped it in the micro for just under three minutes.

And the, it was just ok.

evol Veggie Curry wrap

I had a few major disappointments with this wrap, but I wanted to like it so much. I gave it points for being vegan, and made with mostly organic products, but the image on the box, has nothing to do with what the actual wrap looked like. I loved it for the taste, but the texture, and my inability to identify any of the ingredients inside was disappointing. There were no cubes of tofu, sticks of carrots, and other veggies, all I could see was a mash of what looked like and felt like pre-chewed tofu and brown rice, and some green stuff (what veggie was that?) Every once in a while there was a piece of orange or a different green color that would show up when I took a bite, but those sitings were few and far between.

I wanted, more veggies, less rice and more tofu in this wrap. The wrap boasts that it has 11 grams of protein but for vegan, who needs to bulk up on non-animal protein this just wasn't enough in my eyes. Also 4 grams of fiber?? my sugary terrible for you cereal has more fiber than that in it. The entire wrap was 340 calories, so basically it was a lot of wrap a lot of rice and little of the things that are actually good for you. I think this wrap needs a re-do. Keep the flavor, boost the tofu, and the veggies. All in all it would increase the goods on the nutrition, the fiber and protein and end up reducing the calories, by removing some of the unneeded fillers.

evol, i want to love your products, but this one just doesn't do it. Sorry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin

It's pumpkin season and after roasting the largest pumpkin that would fit in my oven I'm ready to make as many pumpkin recipes as I want.

I would totally recommend everyone who is planning on making a few pumpkin recipes this season to do this. Roasting your own pumpkin instead of using the canned stuff just brings your recipes to the next level. It's pretty easy to do just takes a bit of time and then you can make pumpkin muffins, bars, cookies, anything and everything you want. Pumpkin is also a great addition to your vegan recipes, as a binder instead of eggs.

Roasted Pumpkin
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 40 minutes
oven temp: 400 degrees
yield: varies (depends on size of pumpkin)

1 pumpkin
olive oil

Make sure you wash your pumpkin before beginning. If you're working with a small pumpkin (which i was not) just go ahead and cut the pumpkin in half. across the middle. If not just cut into manageable size pieces. Scoop out all the seeds and insides. (Rinse the seeds and roast the seeds for a great snack.)You want to take the stem off completely before roasting.

 Place skin side up on your baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Place into your 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Once finished in the oven you want to take out and let the pumpkin cool before handling. The skin will just peal off, and can be thrown away. Using a Cuisinart pulse the pumpkin into a puree. The one thing that you should do is remove some of the water that will pool at the top of the pumpkin puree. The easiest way to do this is to place in a container and use paper towels. Just gently push the paper towels onto the top of the puree and you will see the paper towels start to absorb the excess water. You can use the pumpkin right away in another recipe or place in Tupperware and store in the freezer.

Pumpkin is also great for dogs and mine loves it. I'm thinking I'll be making some pumpkin dog treats later this week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Dog Treats

Today we were all out of dog treats...again. So instead of getting in the car, driving to the store and paying for dog cookies, I decided I would experiment with making a new recipe. And in about the same amount of time it would have taken me to pay for buying dog treats, I had them warm and fresh from the oven.

Apple Cinnamon Dog Treats
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 30 minutes
oven temp: 350 and 200 degrees
yield: 30 multi-size cookies

1/4 cup natural apple sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour

In a bowl mix apple sauce, cinnamon, peanut butter and butter together. I use the natural apple sauce for my pup because he doesn't need the added sugar that are usually in the original flavor. I also use regular peanut butter, but you can use chunky (if you know that your dog digests nuts well.)

Mix in the baking soda, flax seeds and corn meal. Slowly add in the flour. I usually add 1/4 cup at a time, to make sure the cookies get to the correct consistency. I also used another 1/8 cup of flour to flour the board and rolling pin for cutting out the dog cookies. You don't have to cut these out, but they make the cookies so much fun. Just remember to flatten down if you scoop the cookies, because of how they bake.

Roll out the dough and cut using fun cookie cutters. I used doberman, paw print, heart, moon, and shark cookie cutters. You can place these fairly close on the baking sheet, they hardly grow at all. Place them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, turning them over once. Bring the oven temperature down to 200 degrees, and bake for another 20 minutes. This step is meant to dehydrate the cookies to make them last longer.

Cool and enjoy with your pup. :) Troy loved them!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan Coffee Rolls

I've been on an eggless/vegan kick recently. Honestly the idea of eggs is freaking me out slightly. I never really enjoyed making or eating eggs, but now I'm more inclined to bake without them than with them if I can.

We have a family recipe for Coffee Rolls, that is similar to this recipe. However I wanted to work with a separate recipe than my families, because I wanted these rolls to not be a vegan version of something great, I wanted this recipe to be great on its own.

Vegan Coffee Rolls
prep time:  3 1/2 hours
cook time: 15 minutes
oven temp: 400 degrees
yeilds: 35 coffee rolls

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup soy milk (I used light soy because that is what I had.)
3 cups flour plus 1/4 cup flour for kneading
1/4 cup earth promise vegan butter
3 Tbsp sugar**
1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 Tbsp earth promise vegan butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

 It does say that this recipe will take 3 1/2 hours from start to finish, and yes that is true but a lot of it is resting and rising time. This recipe is not as intense as it seems from first look. So I'd definitely recommend trying it.

Dissolve the entire package of dry yeast in warm water, then add the soy milk and stir. Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast and soy milk mixture-you are making a yeast sponge. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Cream the vegan butter, and sugar. Microwave the flax seeds with the 3 Tbsp water for 30 seconds until it forms a gummy texture. Add the flax seeds to the creamed butter and sugar, stir in the salt. 

Once the yeast sponge has sat for 30 minutes mix in the vegan butter, sugar and flax seed mixture. Add 2 additional cups of flour to make the dough soft. Turn out onto your kneading surface. I needed an extra 1/4 cup of flour to get my dough to the correct consistency, but just work your dough slowly until it is soft and no longer sticky.

Place the dough into a greased bowl, and put in a warmed oven, let the dough rise for about an hour. The oven should not be on. You can warm the oven prior to placing the bowl in by having the oven on 100 degrees for about 5 minutes. The dough should about double in size.

While the dough is rising you want to make the filling. Fork the 1/2 Tbsp vegan butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. It will end up being the consistency of sand.

Punch the dough down, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, should be about 12 inches by 18 inches. Spread the cinnamon mixture over the entire surface. Roll the dough tightly. Cut into about inch width pieces and place into a greased muffin pan. Let the rolls rise in the muffin tin for another hour.  

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Let sit in the muffin tins for a few minutes then turn out onto cooling racks, and let cool.

**Please note that if you are making this recipe for someone who is vegan you should either check with them on if they eat refined sugar, or buy vegan sugar.

Recipe variations: The coffee rolls that my mom makes have raisins in the filling, so if you like raisins you could always add this to the filling. I prepared half the recipe without raisins and half with. I added 1/8 cup of raisins to the filling ingredients. You can also top these rolls with icing, but I don't think they need that extra sweetness.

Be careful, as you can see above. One of mine stayed in the oven for a minute or two too long, and these ended up going down the drain. The caramelizing of the sugar and cinnamon creates this sticky goodness, but it will burn if you leave the rolls in too long.

I really liked these coffee rolls, just enough sweetness paired with the yeast dough, makes them perfect for a snack or breakfast.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pesto and a Thank You to my Sister

If you have a ton of basil and don't know what to make, make this Pesto! I had made a caprese salad a few nights ago and had some basil sitting around waiting to die, instead I made this great and easy pesto. Pesto is a really great and easy accompaniment to a lot of dishes. It can be tossed with pasta and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Pesto is also really good on sandwiches, or just use a smudge on a fabulous piece of bread for a little snack.

But first I have to give a big loud thank you to my sister, who bought me a new Cuisinart as a house warming gift. This is my first attempt at making anything with the Cuisinart. I'm so excited to make many more things with this great new machine. I have to also give her credit for the Pesto idea, all hers. So thank you sister, this post is dedicated to you.

prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
yeilds: 3/4 cup pesto

1/8 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

Over medium heat toast pine nuts in a non-stick pan until lightly browned. Wash basil and dry thoroughly. Place pine nuts, basil, and Parmesan cheese into a Cuisinart (you can also use a blender if you do not have a Cuisinart.) Pulse these ingredients until mixed, add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, pulse again one or two times. Next you want to slowly add the olive oil to the mixture, and make sure to pulse until fully combined. You may need slightly more or less olive oil to get the consistency right depending on your cheese and your basil.

I like my pesto a bit on the thicker side, if you want to thin it out to use as a pasta sauce do not use more olive oil, you should use a bit of the pasta water. If you want to make the pesto a dip and need to thin it out use some fresh lemon juice. You can also add cream cheese and sour cream to pesto for a more substantial chip dip.

One other thing, you may have noticed there is a traditionally major ingredient missing from my pesto. I inherited an inability to digest garlic, it's not a straight forward food allergy. My body has a hard time breaking down the compounds of the garlic, and the taste will linger in my mouth for days, and no matter how much I shower I smell like garlic for like a week. Seriously gross. It's absolutely no fun to wake up at 9 am three days after I've eaten something with garlic in it and still taste it. So I avoid it like the plague. If you are normal, just throw in a garlic clove to the mixture and you'll have a traditional pesto.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar

Another review...another bar...but there was a coupon a few weeks ago for like 55 cents off of one Odwalla Bar. So even though I wouldn't normally reach for an Odwalla bar I went for it because of the coupon.

Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar
Chocolate Chip Trail Mix

Now if you're smart, and apparently I'm not part of that group you would have seen that this bar is called a Chewy Nut Bar, and the flavor is chocolate chip trial mix. I just saw chocolate chip trail mix and snatched it off the shelf. My first bite in my reaction was wow this is very nutty for a chocolate chip trail mix bar...That being said there was only a hint of chocolate and raisins in this bar, it's predominantly a chewy nut bar. It was decent. Maybe I didn't choose the right flavor, but I'm also not that big into chewy nut bars. If you love a nut bar, then these are right up your alley. After realizing that this Odwalla bar was supposed to taste like nuts, I was then very disappointed by the scant amount of chocolate and raisins.There was just a hint of each. Overall I'd give this Odwalla bar a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

On to nutrition: This bar boasts that it is made of 24% organic products...In my mind its either organic or its not. I appreciate then that a few of the ingredients in this bar are organic, but it seems like a bit of a waste of money? on those few organic ingredients, since overall this bar is NOT organic. The Chocolate Chip Trail Mix bar has 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar and 5 grams protein.

Another thing I noticed while attempting to take pictures for this blog post. The enjoy by date was September 19th 2011, and I definitely bought this bar after the 19th. This tells me two one has been buying this bar at my grocery store, and maybe for good reason. Also next time I go out on a whim and buy something with a coupon I should check the expiration date. :) So eh, Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar not a winner.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bobo's Oat Bars

New Blog Posts!! Reviews!!

I decided that coming back into posting I would have more to offer if I added in some reviews of new products that I've been trying. So here is one of my new favorites.

Bobo's Oat Bars

These all natural oat bars come in ten different flavors and all (including the chocolate) are vegan and wheat free. So far I've tried three of these flavors, and they were all really good, but I find the original to be the best. One of these bars with a cup of tea has been a great breakfast, even Troy (the pup) loves a nibble of Bobo's bars. They are a bit sticky, so you will need to take small bites and have a drink to sip on between tastes, but this just makes these bars last longer. :)

They are a great oat flavor and are super dense and filling for a bar that is under 200 calories. The original has 180 calories, 6 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugar, 3 grams fiber and 3 grams of protein. So if you are looking for a protein packed snack or a substitute for a fiber bar this is not for you, but all around this bar has a little bit of everything, and it's honestly yummy and it's one of those snacks where you're not going to feel bad after, you'll actually feel better, and full. If you like to feed your body great, healthy and simple food, and love oats then this is truly a crave worthy product. I absolutely love them!

The biggest downside is the price. At my local Whole Foods they are $2.49 each. If you order a 12 pack from Bobo directly each case costs $28.80 plus shipping and handling, which comes out to $2.40 each plus shipping. Amazon had a few good deals with free shipping and a couple cases of flavors that were on super sale. So give them a try and also check out their website Bobo's Oat Bats.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Ok it's been longer than I intended...but I'm back as of now. :)

A lot has happened since my last post. We now have a bigger family, a puppy who was born June 6th 2009. I'm actually his Mama, and I literally sometimes think I birthed him. We love him so much. Also big news Ben and I bought a house!! So we did all those open houses, paper work and moving, but we have settled in, and now that I have a new kitchen, all my own I've started up cooking and baking again.

Here is my first attempt at making Dog Treats. I forced Ben to try one to make sure they were safe, but I knew we had a winner when Troy (yes the puppy, ok not so much a puppy any more, but our 2 year old dog) started staring at me in the kitchen.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth)
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds**
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp chicken broth
1/4 cup milk (skim)
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, flax seeds and Parmesan cheese. Then stir in the peanut butter, chicken broth and milk until mixture forms a ball. You want the consistency not to be sticky, it should be a firm ball, so add a little more flour if necessary.

Using a floured board roll out dough to an 1/8 of an inch thick. Use cookie cutters (I used circles, hearts and paw prints) to shape your dog treats. I would recommend this just because the dough is so firm this is the easiest and cutest way to make your cookies, however if you are short on time you can always just form balls. These treats will not spread at all so make sure you push those balls flat so they cook fully through. Place on your non-stick baking sheet. They can be grouped close together because they will not grow. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. If you would like each side browned evenly I would suggest flipping the cookies over about 1/2 way through the cooking time, however if you just don't care that much you can leave them for the full 20 minutes and they will not burn.

Let cookies cool on a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to your dogs. I was able to yield 35 cookies from this batch, however your numbers will vary depending on the size cookie cutters you use. Store in an air tight container. These should be good for a couple weeks, you can always freeze part of the dough or some of the cookies if you have a smaller dog. But my 80 lbs doberman will eat these up in a few weeks, if they last that long. :)

**Flax seeds are super healthy for both you and your dog. Those Omega 3s will help with a healthy shiny coat. However make sure you don't over feed your dog flax seeds as they can cause constipation. I wouldn't worry unless you plan on giving your dog like 20 of these cookies in one day.

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever use your last egg for breakfast and need to make cookies? Or have you ever been 1 egg short and wonder can I still make this recipe? Well lately I've been trying to avoid eggs in my baking and have found a few different ways to substitute eggs. This is just one recipe you can't tell is eggless at all. There are a few different substitutes that can be used for eggs and a few are explained below.

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (salted, 1 stick)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seeds**
4 1/2 Tbsp water
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl combine your flax seeds and water together, place in a microwave for 15 30 seconds. The flax seeds will absorb the water and turn into a thick, gel like substance. It will be the consistency of egg whites. Set this mixture aside. Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla, then add in the flax seed and water mixture. Stir until combined. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt.) Slowly add the dry to the wet mixture. Beat until the dough comes together. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until coated with the dough.

I use an ice cream scoop to make my cookies, this way they will all be the same size. Using an inch scoop I yielded 30 cookies from this recipe. Scoop your cookies onto a non-greased baking sheet and place in the oven for about 12 minutes, until golden brown. Let cookies harden on the warm baking sheet for a few minutes before moving them to cooling racks.

**Flax seeds are a great substitute for eggs. You can find them at any grocery store usually in the natural foods section. I usually buy the ground flax seeds, but you can also buy whole fax seeds, however if you want to use them as an egg substitute you will need to grind them either in a Cuisinart or coffee grinder. Flax seeds have Omega 3s and a ton of other good for you vitamins and minerals. Other egg substitues with measurements are listed below.
1 Tbsp ground fax seeds with 3 Tbsp water = 1 egg
1/4 cup applesause = 1 egg
Egg beaters (follow directions on container.)
For more check out this PETA link.

Also this recipe can easily be made vegan by using vegan butter, and carob chips as replacements. Some vegans do not eat regular refined granulated sugar (because of the refining process.) So you if you are making these for a vegan you should buy vegan sugar and use it instead of the sugar you have in your cabinet, usually found in a natural foods store.