Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus

I am a lover of peanut butter, especially with chocolate.  So, the other day when I was in the mood for a healthy snack that would satisfy my sweet tooth - I came up with this dip for my sliced apples.  This tastes especially good with graham crackers also.  I am thinking I might try celery next!  Garbanzo beans/chickpeas are a good source of fiber, folate, protein and iron, among other things.  And as I have discovered in the last couple of years, they don't have to be used in just savory dishes.  They are delicious when used in a sweet (or desert) dish.  If you have kids - this is a great way to put something healthy into a fun and sweet snack. 

P.S.  You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this!  In fact you might want to ditch the apple slices and just eat this with a spoon!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Makes: 1 1/2 - 2 cups

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp agave syrup or maple syrup
1/2 cup vegan miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
a pinch of salt

Place the chickpeas, peanut butter, agave syrup and salt in a food processor;  blend until creamy and smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in chocolate chips.  Serve with apple slices, crackers, cookies, etc.

Cashew Sour Cream

I am trying to make more things from scratch to make myself and my family a little healthier.  Buying processed food from the grocery store often has ingredients I don't want in my food.  A lot of the time I don't even know what the ingredients are.  Sour cream seems to be one of those "staples" used in a lot of recipes, as is cream cheese.  It is hard for me to find cream cheese without hydrogenated fat in it - which I am trying to completely avoid.  So, I have found a good way to make my own at home.  This may be a little bit of a trial and error for you to get the flavor you are looking for but I am in love.  For the sour cream I might add an extra teaspoon of water to help it blend a little easier.  One of my favorite things to make with this recipe is a ranch dip which I plan to post a recipe in the future. 
I use this recipe for cream cheese also.  I just make sure I refrigerate it at least over night so it gets nice and think.  It might not be quite as firm as store bought cream cheese, but I've used it in many recipes and so far so good.  Go easy on the water you blend with the cashews to keep the mixture nice and thick.

Cashew Sour Cream 
Prep time:  2-3 hours or overnight
Makes:  approx. 1 cup

1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp lemon juice

Cover cashews with water; soak 2-3 hours or overnight. 

Pour off water; place nuts in a blender.  Add the rest of ingredients and puree for at least 3-4 minutes, longer if needed.  Be sure to scrape the sides a few times.  The mixture should end up nice and creamy, looking just like sour cream.  If you are having troubles with it wanting to mix, add a teaspoon of water to help things along.

Seitan Holiday Ham

We always have ham for Christmas and Easter which I used to love.  Now when the holidays come around I've been left wondering what I will eat along with my family.  I have finally come up with the solution.  Seitan Holiday Ham!  I haven't had ham now for almost 4 years, but I think this recipe is a great substitute if you are looking for something a little "meaty".  The flavor is a lot like those hams you buy with glaze packets, if you have ever tried one of those - kind of sweet.  I love to use my meat slicer (I got one for really cheap at Shopko) and slice it really thin to make sandwiches later.  This recipe makes a fairly large roast, but you could try halving the recipe.  I haven't tried halving it yet, (and probably won't because I love the leftovers, but I'm guessing you would only cook it for 90 minutes rather than 2 hours.  Just make sure it seems pretty firm to the touch before you take it out of the oven.  If you try halving it, let me know how it turned out!  One more thing - don't forget to buy the olives for your fingers - it makes eating even more enjoyable!

Seitan Holiday Ham

2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

n a large bowl, mix together the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and ground cloves.

In a large measuring cup or separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Gently stir into the dry ingredients until totally combined.  It should be a ball of dough.  Knead it for a couple of minutes until it becomes very elastic, adding a little vital wheat gluten if needed. It should hold it's shape.

Shape the dough into a roast shape and wrap in a large sheet of aluminum foil, twisting the ends to seal.  Then wrap in another sheet of foil.  Bake for 2 hours.  Carefully remove the roast from the aluminum foil and let it cool.  Refrigerate it once it's cool.  Tastes best the next day!

To make the holiday ham glaze:
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp molasses
1 Tbsp vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) or coconut oil
a few drops of liquid smoke
salt to taste
whole cloves (approx. 20-30)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the cloves in a small saucepan.  Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook reducing until thickened.

Score the ham in a crisscross pattern, making little diamonds (like in the pictures - if you can see it). They should only be about 1/4 inch deep, 1/2 inch at the most.  Put cloves into the ham.  Glaze the ham and bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Rosemary and Garlic Bread

It's Fall now and there is nothing I love more than a fresh loaf of bread fresh out of the oven.  It is my ultimate comfort food.  I usually love just plain old bread, nothing fancy, but I guess the older I get the more adventurous I feel.  You can't live forever right!  So I am starting to experiment more with baking bread. 

One of my favorite sandwiches I LOVE to DEVOUR, as does my family, requires a special bread.  So, I came up with this.  Somehow it makes the sandwich even more heavenly - I will post this recipe sometime in the future!  But for now, here is a savory bread for sandwiches, to go along with your Fall soups or just something comforting to snack on right from the oven. 

Just a note, I use my bread maker for this recipe as with pretty much every bread recipe I make.  It cuts out a lot of work for me.  I just put it on the dough cycle and then take it out and put it in a bread pan and cook it in the oven.  You can easily adapt this recipe without the use of a bread maker, I just don't have a lot of experience so you are on your own.

Rosemary and Garlic Bread
(makes 1 loaf)

1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water (70-85 degrees)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 Tbsp garlic, minced
3 cups whole wheat white flour
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp dried rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp yeast

Add the  ingredients to your bread maker in the order recommended by your manufacturer's instructions.  Set on dough cycle.

When dough is ready, punch down and roll out on a floured surface into a 9x18 inch rectangle.  Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9 inch side, to form a loaf.  (Press with thumbs to seal after each turn.)  Pinch the edge of the dough into roll to seal.  Press the ends of the loaf with the sides of your hands to seal; fold the ends under the loaf.  Place seam side down into a greased loaf pan (around 9x5 inches).  You can brush the loaf with melted butter if you'd like at this point, but I don't.  Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30-50 minutes until doubled in size.  (I like to warm my oven to 200 degrees then turn it off and place my loaf in the oven to rise - it shortens the time in half.)

Once the dough is doubled in size, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  (Make sure you take your loaf out of the oven at this point if you left it in there to rise!)  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.  Remove from pan to a wire rack and brush with melted butter, then let it cool.

Cookies and Cream Cookies


When I was little, I would love coming home from school to find my Mom had made us a special treat.  I am definitely a food lover and somehow I really felt loved when cookies, or brownies or some other goody was waiting for me.  Now that I am a mom, I love to make a special treat on Fridays for my girls to come home to.  Sure, it is usually something sugary, but it's a treat.  I usually make it on Fridays as a little celebration - "YEAH!! You survived school for the week"! -- Something to look forward too.  My husband has been on a cookie kick lately, so it has been a lot of cookies the last few weeks.  I was having trouble coming up with a cookie idea, so I asked my youngest daughter what she would like this time around.  One of her favorite candy bars is cookies and cream (she is a big white chocolate fan - not so much any other chocolate though).  She asked for a cookies and cream cookie.  So I decided to make cookies with cookies!  Why not!  So here goes...
Cookies and Cream Cookies
makes 4 dozen

1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tbsp water
1 cup vegan butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg replacer and the water and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the egg replacer mixture and vanilla. 

Combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Gradually add this mixture into the dough to make it nice and thick.  Add the crushed Oreo cookies and stir in well.  I used my hands to really incorporate the Oreos - so their weren't crumbs lying on the bottom of the bowl.

Roll dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place on an ungreased, nonstick baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  You can use parchment paper for a quicker clean up if you'd like!  Bake for about 11-12 minutes, or until they start to turn a golden color around the edges.  Let cool on cookie sheet for about 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Vegan Panda Express Chow Mein

We like to go out to dinner now and then as a family - who doesn't it?  Eating out at a restaurant in Idaho that caters to a plant based diet however isn't the easiest thing.  One of the big restaurants in our area is Panda Express.  My whole family loves it.  However they don't have vegetarian/vegan options.  So while my family eats there now and then - I end up having to get something to eat from somewhere else.  My family loves Chinese/Thai food - so I am always trying to come up with new recipes for us to try.  So I've created a vegan friendly Panda Express "style" chow mein.  Now I can enjoy a little "Panda Express" at home with my family AND - my whole family gobbles it up.  We eat it as a main dish - but you could use it as a side if you'd like.  It is so easy and fast to make too!

I use a well seasoned cast iron skillet for this recipe.  I try to cut out oil when I saute veggies to be a little healthier.  I often don't need the oil and if things start to stick a little I add a little water which works just as great as oil in my opinion. But, feel free to use a little oil to saute the veggies if you feel you need to.

Vegan Panda Express Chow Mein
Makes 6-8 servings (depending whether it is a side or main dish)

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
ground black pepper, to taste
1(17.76 oz) package refrigerated Yaki Soba noodles (found in the produce section of the grocery store)
1 cup chopped celery (chopped diagonally)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cups chopped cabbage

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and black pepper. Set aside.

Remove Yaki Soba from package and discard included flavoring packets. Rinse noodles well, drain, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion and saute for about 1-2 minutes or until onions start to become soft and transparent. Add cabbage and saute an additional minute or so.

Toss Yaki Soba noodles and soy sauce mixture with the vegetables over medium-high heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until noodles are heated through.


Peppermint Stick with Chocolate Chunks Ice Cream

It is spring but we are already hitting the hot temperatures. And there is nothing better to beat the heat than a cold bowl of ice cream. I had some candy canes left over from Christmas and thought a peppermint ice cream would be very refreshing. I used to love it as a kid when my parents would by Peppermint Stick ice cream at Christmas time. We were very big ice cream eaters back in the day! Anyway, this is what I came up with and it turned out just as delicious as I remembered the dairy version to be. I hope you like it too!

Peppermint Stick with Chocolate Chunks Ice Cream

1 13.5 ounce can organic coconut milk
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup organic pure cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
8 candy canes or 25 round peppermint hard candies, divided
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ tsp olive oil

In a large bowl, combine coconut milk, non-dairy milk, cane sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract, whisk together well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
While you are waiting, unwrap candy canes and throw in to a food processor or blender.  Pulse repeatedly until the candies become course pieces.  Set aside.

Once ice cream base is chilled, make according to your ice cream maker‘s instructions.  While it is churning, melt the chocolate chips and oil in a small sauce pan on low heat.  Stir often, until completely melted and smooth; take off heat and set aside.  Add in ½ the candy cane pieces during the last five minutes of churning to incorporate thoroughly.
Transfer spoonfuls of the ice cream into an airtight container and drizzle each addition with a very fine ribbon of the liquid chocolate.  The chocolate will set up almost immediately upon contact.  Also sprinkle each addition with the remaining candy cane pieces.  Once all of the ice cream and chocolate is in the container, give the whole mixture a good stir with the end of a wooden spoon to break up the chocolate ribbon into pieces. 

Stash in your freezer for at least three hours to firm up before serving.

Seitan With Broccoli

My kids aren't the best at eating vegetables on their own, so I try to think of ways to throw a variety of veggies together in one meal so they get a good variety in one shot.  Stir-fries are a good way to accomplish this.  My husband used to love Beef and Broccoli so I have created a "plant" version so we can still enjoy it.  He loves this recipe - even the seitan.  My kids aren't big seitan eaters, but they also love this recipe.  I hope your family enjoy it too! 

We serve it over brown rice or quinoa usually but any grain will do.  OR you can just eat it by itself. You will also want to make the baked seitan recipe ahead of time (it takes 90+ minutes). Otherwise this is a pretty quick meal to make.  If you want to go without seitan - just throw in some extra veggies that you like instead.

Seitan with Broccoli
Makes 4 servings
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ recipe baked seitan, thinly sliced
1 lb (4-5 cups) broccoli broken into bite-size pieces
1 bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 carrot, sliced on the diagonal
¾ cup onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp Better Than Bouillon, No Beef Base
¼ cup water
Combine the soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine the liquid with the cornstarch.  Mix in the seitan and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry.  Stir the vegetables frequently for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.  Add the seitan and its marinade and continue cooking, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. 
Whisk together the bouillon and water in a small bowl.  Add it to the vegetables and seitan and cook for another 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens and clings to the seitan and vegetables. 
Serve over brown rice or quinoa if you like.

Chickpea and Rice Soup

I have a new recipe that I know you are going to love.  This is one my family races to the fridge the next day, and this only if we didn't pig out on it the night before!  I found it on one of my favorite blogs  I tweaked it for my needs and it turned out so delicious!  It reminds me of a creamy chicken soup - except there is no chicken.  I made it for my parents and a non-vegan friend of theirs and it was definitely a hit!  My mom is not a big fan of chickpeas, but she loved the soup!  The chickpeas are so creamy they almost seem to melt in your mouth.  And if you are new to kale - this is a good recipe to try.  This is one soup you will want to make over and over again!

Chickpea and Rice Soup
Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  1 hour
Makes:  4-6 servings

3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours or overnight
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 cup brown rice, rinsed
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, diced chunky
5 cups no chicken broth (Better Than Bouillon)
2 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
4 cups chopped kale

Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of fresh water. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could 1 to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your blender.

Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté a minute more.

Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 30 more minutes, or until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.

Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, 3 to 5 more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry.

It thickens as it cools, so if you have leftovers, just thin with a little water when you reheat.

Rye Rolls

I am a bread lover and I am pretty surprised that I haven't posted more bread recipes.  This is a favorite of mine that my Mom passed down to me.  I have changed a couple of things because I wanted a whole wheat roll.  I am trying to stay away from white flour as much as possible.  These are so delicious - even my white bread loving kids like them!  That is saying something!  I love to make them when we are having soup.
Rye Rolls
Prep time:  2 hour 15 minutes
Cook time:  15 - 20 minutes
Makes:  12 large or 24 small rolls

2¼ tsp salt
1½ cups warm water
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cup white wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 cup rye flour
3 Tbsp gluten
2¼ tsp yeast

Place all the ingredients into bread maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Set on dough setting.

Knead a couple of times to get air bubbles out.  Divide into 12 (or 24) pieces.  Roll into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet or 9x13 baking pan.  Cover and rise until doubled in size.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  If you are making 24 rolls - it takes a shorter amount of time than if baking just 12.

*You can make a couple of small loaves out of this recipe also.  (I like to make one of the loaves cinnamon sugar bread.)  Instead of dividing into 12 or 24 pieces, divide into 2.  Roll out dough into a rectangle until about ½ inch thick and about 9 inches wide (about the length of your loaf pan).  Starting from the top (the short end of the rectangle) carefully roll tightly toward you.  Press with your thumbs to seal after each turn, pinch the edge of dough into roll to seal.  Then pinch each end with side of hand to seal and fold them under.  Place into a greased loaf pan and brush with melted butter.  Repeat with other piece of dough.  Cover and let them rise until doubled in size.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack and brush melted butter on it.

To make cinnamon sugar bread - roll out the dough into a rectangle like regular bread.  Brush with water and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, then roll.  If you wanted to make a couple of raisin bread loaves you can add raisins with the rest of the ingredients into your bread maker.


Seitan and Black Bean Tacos

My husband and I love Mexican food.  My husband especially loves the tacos he can get from the restaurant Los Betos.  He loves adobada, carnitas, carne asada, chicken and fish.  So to better suit his needs, I have come up with a seitan taco which turned out so good!  He loved it (I found him in the kitchen eating just the seitan)!  The marinade gives the seitan a very delicious flavor and grilling it makes it that much better! 

If you need a seitan recipe you can use my recipe for baked seitan on my blog.  However, instead of making a log, I flattened the seitan (kind of like steak) and then wrapped it in tin foil and baked it.  That way I could cut thin "steak-like" strips.

We like to make our tacos nice and full as you can see in the pictures, but our kids tend to make them smaller.  So, it's up to you - whatever you like!

Seitan and Black Bean Tacos
makes 4 servings

½ cup orange juice
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb seitan cut into really thin strips
Corn tortillas
½ cup shredded Daiya pepperjack cheese 
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Pico de Gallo
Shredded cabbage
Combine the juice, oil, chipotle, cumin and garlic in a blender and puree.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place seitan and marinade in a plastic bag or in a dish with a lid and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Preheat grill over medium heat (cast iron).  Oil the grill when hot and place seitan on it, turning occasionally until it nicely browned.
Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Place a tortilla in the center and warm on both sides.  Place in folded dish towel to keep warm.  Continue with more tortillas. 
Place cheese, guacamole, beans, seitan, Pico de Gallo, and shredded cabbage on tortillas.  Fold and eat!


Baked Seitan

For those of you who are new to the whole "vegan" thing you may not have ever heard of seitan.  I try to stay away from soy products as much as possible (for my own reasons) and so I don't eat a lot of tofu.  Seitan is what I eat in place of it and it is something I can make from scratch.  It is considered a meat replacement (vital wheat gluten is full of protein), but I don't like to neccesarily think of it like that.  I am not really trying to replace anything, I am just trying new things.  Switching to a plant based diet has opened a lot of doors and I have discovered a lot of new and interesting things to eat and I guess seitan is one of those things.  You can buy it at the store, but I like to make my own - that way I know what is in it. I am trying to not buy as many processed foods.

There are many recipes out there, but this one is what I've come up with and really like.  The fun thing about seitan is you can put your own favorite seasonings in it to make it your own.  You can steam or boil seitan, but I prefer to bake it in the oven, it gives it a more dense and "meatier" texture.  My favorite thing to make with it is reubens.  Mmmm... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Seitan is very versitile and I have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas for it.  I will be sure to share some of them on here!  Seitan can be used as a filler also, like beans - it is very filling like meat and a whole lot cheaper! So stay tuned and I will give you some yummy uses for your seitan!

Baked Seitan

1-1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp A1 Steak Sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.  In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients (including garlic).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with your hand -- until you can knead it like dough.  Knead until fully incorporated.  It should sort of resemble a firm ball of dough.

Roll into a log shape and wrap in 2 layers of aluminum foil -- twisting the ends to seal.

Bake for 90 minutes.