Hoo! Hoo! and Meow! Crackers for the Munckin (and his Dad)

A few day ago I was finally inspired to make the cracker recipe published at the Green Phone Booth a few months ago. Baby Green Me has discovered bunny crackers and I am hesitant to not only feed him a snack on a regular basis that is lacking in nutritional value (no fiber, just carbs) and that is also quite pricey per ounce. On the flip side, who can pass up cute animal crackers?

The first time I made the recipe I followed EnviRambos recipe, except for substituting sesame seeds for rosemary. The second time I made the crackers I increased the nutritional yeast to 4 tablespoons for a cheesier flavor, increased my sesame seeds to two table spoons and I added an extra 2 tablespoons of water to make the dough work (with the extra yeast & seeds).

Both times I used my mini kitty and owl cookie cutters to make animal crackers that my son would love. Not only did the crackers work, but Baby Green Me loves themhe might eat them in exclusion of any other foods if I let him! And these crackers are filled with fiber, protein, and a little extra calcium and B vitamins thanks to the nutritional yeast and sesame seeds!

I wont recreate the recipe here as the original is a perfect starting point; however, I have included a few photos of my cracker making experience. Enjoy!

If you have a cracker fiend in your home or just need some healthy on the go snacks for your kiddos I highly recommend trying out these crackers. They were super easy to make (it took less than 10 minutes to mix up the dough), easy to handle, they cook in 15 minutes (or less) and then are ready to go!

You can eat the turnips!

This morning we made our first family trip of the Season to the Farmers Market. We loaded up on fresh greens, onions, lavendar, baby bok choy, fresh made tortilla chips and a sweet Japanese turnip (forgot the name, started with an h)! When I put the turnips in the Chariot with Baby Green Me I jokingly told him that he could eat the turnips. A few minutes later when I opened the top to get out our water bottle I discovered this:

 

 

Guess he likes turnips! Yay!

A spring trip to the Farmers Market has to been one of the best activities in the book. The air and was warm with the hint of a breeze, the sky clear, the trees green. The weather was in fact perfect for our walk and it was immensely satisfying to get in a little exercise. I was also pleased as punch to use the cotton produce bags that Mr. Green Me had given me at Christmas time. Not only did we walk to the market and buy fresh produce, but we also did not consume any unnecessary plastic bags! Woohoo!

Happy Spring and Mothers Day to all the moms!

Satisfaction: Gardens, Humingbirds, and Strawberries

We bought our house in late May (3 years ago) when the foliage and flowers were at their best. We were thrilled in our dry Colorado climate that the back yard had been xeriscaped and would thus require little or no water or so we thought! Sadly, the former owners had not done their research and many of the plants required constant water or they died! They had also over landscaped and so there were clusters of trees and strange combinations of plants that looked odd in the off season.

To start we practiced elimination clearing out some unnecessary and or water hungry plants. Then we slowly started replanting with species better suited to our climate, such as yucca, pampass grass and succulents. We also chose to keep the two apple trees, which only require occasional watering, and we added a strawberry garden.

Most recently we switched out our dangerous and ugly metal edging that didnt really provide a barrier between bark and rocks and replaced it with a cedar edging that matches our fence and which according to the package was from sustainably harvested cedar and made in the USA. (We passed the old edging along via Freecycle to be used again.) And, we are very pleased with the results! I will have to water the strawberries and my small two vegetable plots (tomatoes, an eggplant, brussel sprouts, peas, a pepper, carrots, butternut squash and pie pumpkins), but everything else should be self sufficient during the summer months!

As part of our yard project I fixed up a humming bird feeder that Id bought on a whim a few years back. The flowers had faded and were no longer pink, so I took my single bottle of water based non-toxic nail polish and painted the petals the color of Desire otherwise known as a pinkish red. I then made some humming bird nectar with water and sugar (1/3 cup sugar, 2 cups boiled water) and a splash of India Tree natural food coloring. I’ve read that humming birds don’t really care if the nectar is red, but it looks so much prettier to ME. And, it is my yard after all! This time I placed the feeder in the middle of my strawberry bed and away from the window where my cat likes to drool and dream about eating birds.

I am also preparing for a bumper crop of strawberries as you can see from the below picture. Nearly every plant is covered in blooms and many are already growing fruit! This will be the third year for my patch and looks to be the best yet! Hopefully, we will have plenty to eat and bake into strawberry rhubarb pie (my rhubarb not pictured, is also huge) and some left over to make into jam!

Now, the only thing that is missing from our lovely yard is a couple of chickens

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies and my very first Apron!

Today I finally finished the apron that I started sewing back in February. Over the winter months a few girlfriends and I thought it would be fun to have sewing parties to learn from each other while sewing the same creation. In theory it was a great idea and both get togethers were fun; however, coordinating schedules for 4 gals and as many children and husbands is more complicated that it sounds! The fabric I picked out is very spring like (IMHO) and so I wanted my apron finished. This is the first real item I’ve sewn in over 10 years and it is very satisfying to be finished!

The apron was from a pattern I found through the Farmers Daughter and is reversible. I didn’t wash my hair today (haha) so no modeling, but you can still see how cute the apron is from these pictures! I love having an apron that is so me!

I’ve also been having a sweet tooth of late (I haven’t baked cupcakes since April 1st) and so I made some chocolate chip cookies. My recipe was experimental, but they turned out PERFECT. Moist with a little crunch they hold their own and don’t crumble! Not too sweet not too plain, just plain yummy!

Cream together (I used a fork):

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (room temp)

– 1/2 cup macadamia nut butter

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 1/4 finely ground flax seed

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a separate bowl mix together:

– 1 cup oats

– 1 cup whole wheat flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 bag vegan* chocolate chips

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well. Drop spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheet and bake (I used my 2 tbsp coffee scoop). Should make about 32 cookies. Bake at 375F for about 8 minutes until just starting to brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray. Ive found with vegan baking that it is REALLY super important to cool cookies for the full 10 minutes before trying to move them as they are more likely to crumble if they don’t have time to set.

* I used Sunspire vegan chocolate chips and this recipe is loosely based off of the recipe on their bag, which is probably why it worked so well!

Please go vote for the Solaris Cupcake at Conunundrum Cupcakery!!

IronCupcake Coffee voting is open! Please vote for my tasty Solaris cupcakelisted under Conundrum Cupcakery! Voting is on the right side bar behind this link. You may vote for up to three cupcakes, but why bother? Just vote for the best: Solaris!

You can read the original Solaris: the Cosmic Coffee Cupcake Post here or read the brief synopsis below!

The Solaris Cupcake is best eaten before 10 AM,but delicious at any time of the day!Many beautiful cupcakes are guilty of being either overbearingly sweet or deathly bland. The rich ganache and the tender cake of the Solaris are instead tempered by the bittersweet flavor of the candied orange and complimented by the cinnamon spice and orange extract. The resulting flavor of the Solaris neither overwhelms nor bores, but rather each bite of this delectable cupcake gently awakens and satisfies your senses. The cupcake is truly cosmic and absolutely perfect alone or with a rich cup of fresh coffee.

P.s. More on Conundrum coming soon

VeganDads Creamy Mac and Cheeze

Earier this week I came across a blog that really caught both my eye and my tastebuds! On Tuesday I was looking to make use of tofu, quinoa and sweet potatoes (In the name of Foodwaste Reduction), so I tossed the ingredients into Google and came up with this recipe for Cajun Quinoa.  Last night I made the Mac and Cheeze. Now over the years I have tried several mac and cheese recipes sans cheese and never found one that Id willingly make again. This time around I am super happy to have leftovers and this meal will definitely earn a place in our meal rotation!

I did make a few adjustments to the recipe as I used oat milk instead of soy (we try to only eat minimally processed soy products: tofu, miso, etc.) and no sunflower seeds, because we think Baby Green Me is mildly allergic to them. I also baked the recipe with some bread crumbs and vegan rella on top, as Vegan Dad said he thought this might be good, but hed not yet tried it baked. I love baked mac and cheese and had never myself baked any variety before and it was a definite winner.

What makes it a winner? Creamy rich flavor and both Daddy and Baby Green Me chowed down (both the quinoa and the Mac and Cheeze). I even used some of the Cheeze sauce for a veggie dip to hold Baby Green Me at bay while I was making dinner. I also love the variety of nutrients from proteins to good fats found in this Mac and Cheeze compared to your average mac and cheese recipe. To round out our meal we also had some ancient shitake mushrooms from the fridge (rehydrate in a cup of almost boiling water for about 20 minutes) sauteed with baby bok choy and a nice cool(and local) Dales Pale Ale from our storage room/beer/wine cellar.

On a side note, I think one of the things I love about Vegan Dads recipes is that he seems to put paprika in everything, which is something I never do, but that my grandmother has always claimed is her trick to delicious food. Whenever someone asks her why a particular meal is so good, her standard reply is oh, I tossed some paprika in!

I think that the next recipe I am going to try is the one for Ruben Sandwiches. I absolutely adore a good ruben and about ten or twelve years ago there used to be a vegetarian restaurant in Boulder that made a delectable one, but I havent had another since then!

Any who, I have added VeganDad to my RSS feed and if you are looking for lots and lots fo wonderful green and or vegan eating ideas you should too!

Moist, chewy and vegan Corn Bread

One of my favorite meals growing up was chili and corn bread. This was a meal often prepared by my father. My mom did most of the cooking, so I think his foray into the kitchen made it extra special. To make a perfect cornbread my Dad always used the recipe on the side of the Quaker Yellow Cornmeal can. The bread always turned out golden, a little bit chewy and slightly moist.

Despite the fact that my mom is the expert chef in my parents household, the only food that she did not make better than my dad was corn bread. My moms corn bread just never tasted as good. In high school I discovered that the secret was sugar. My dad put in 1/4 cup (according to the recipe on the can). My mom omits the sugar in the name of good health (and because she doesnt think that cornbread needs to be sweet).

In principle I agree with my mom, but in actuality I agree with my dad. I prefer my cornbread lightly sweet. And now, I have a healthy solution! This morning I put a pot of chili on the stove to cook, while also cooking down some old apples into apple sauce. While trying to decide what to do with my apple sauce I decided to make cornbread, at which time I realized that we are again short on eggs. Id just got back from an errand run and had already been to the store. Bummer? Not exactly!

I decided to try a vegan cornbread and the results are just about perfect. My only complaint is that the bread is light brown rather than a golden yellow, but when it comes to taste it is just right! Since I didn’t have a can of Dads corn meal on hand, I consulted the Joy of Cooking for my recipe guidelines. And, thanks to JOC I learned that my Dad makes Northern cornbread, which calls for 1 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, while my mom makes Southern Corn Bread, which says 1 tablespoon sugar (optional).

I like to be in the middle, so I still used 1 tablespoon of sugar, but most of the sweetness and moisture in my bread likely comes from the cornbread!

Preheat oven to 400F & grease a round (or square) 9 inch pan.

Sift together the dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix in a separate bowl:

  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir well, but not too much. Poor thick batter into pan even out the batter and bake for about 25 minutes. If you wish to try this recipe you could use a milk substitute instead of water, but do not eliminate the flax meal as that is what holds it all together and takes the place of the eggs!

Now I am off to enjoy a warm piece of cornbread with some Earth Balance Spread and a little Colorado Honey. Yum Yum!

Recipe Collection for Moms Go Green

Last week I was invited to talk with our local Moms Go Green group about Eco-Cooking. I took a holistic approach to the discussion comparing the human body to an ecosystem. An analogy I find quite relevant when discussing why it is important to eat plenty of fruits and veggies in addition to eating organic, reducing our consumption of meat and dairy, while also trying to eat more foods made from scratch (read fewer boxes & cans, fewer processed foods). After the discussion I promised the moms that I would post a collection of my favorite, but different and healthy recipes on my blog. The below link is to a PDF of about 20 recipes. Please feel free to use these for personal use, but if for any reason you decide to reproduce them, please contact me first!

Healthy Recipe Collection

Iron Cupcake_007: Solaris – The Cosmic Coffee Cupcake

Here here! Solaris is my first entry into the IronCupcake: Earth Challenge. This out of the world cupcake takes its name from the one and only solar roasted Solaris Blend Coffee made here in Colorado. From the flour to the chocolate the ingredients are fresh, organic, and in a few cases, locally made all factors which add to the delicious nature of the Solaris cupcake. As its name implies, the delicate yet moist chocolate coffee cake is made with a double shot of Solaris Espresso, in addition to real orange extract and a hint of cinnamon spice. The cupcake is then finished with a chocolate Ganache icing and both are spiked with coffee liquor. The cake is then topped with a handmade candied orange.

The Solaris Cupcake is best eaten before 10 AM,
but delicious at any time of the day!

Many beautiful cupcakes are guilty of being either overbearingly sweet or deathly bland. The rich ganache and the tender cake of the Solaris are instead tempered by the bittersweet flavor of the candied orange and complimented by the cinnamon spice and orange extract. The resulting flavor of the Solaris neither overwhelms nor bores, but rather each bite of this delectable cupcake gently awakens and satisfies your senses. The cupcake is truly cosmic and absolutely perfect alone or with a rich cup of fresh coffee.

This was my first time in several years making a Ganache, so I followed the recipe found on page 143 of the best cupcake book on the planet, exchanging the maple syrup for agave and adding orange extract, coffee liquor and cinnamon. Id already planned to use orange extract in my recipe, but discovered after reading this Valentine post that the Solaris would not be complete without the flavor and elegance of a candied orange on top! As the VeganYumYum recipe is for an entire fruit I used this recipe from Food & Wine to candy my organic valenica oranges.

From start to finish you can see the process in the below collage (click on image to view full size). You’ll note that the cake has a hint of red, similar to what you might see in a Devils food cake. Interestingly enough, just a few hours after completing the Solaris, I read in The Science of Good Food that the addition of baking soda, which increases the alkalinity of cocoa to a PH 7.5 and turns the cocoa pigments dark red. I used only baking soda in this recipe (no baking powder) and cocoa powder, which likely adds to the color of my cake!

 

Ready for a dirty little secret? In addition to being cosmic the Solaris Cupcake is both organic and vegan! For the past few months I’ve been playing with my vegan baking recipes and I am finding that the addition of a small amount of finely ground flax seed and agave to a recipe tends to increase the moisture content of the cake, while adding to its springiness. I like springy moist cake, which is often difficult to achieve with a vegan recipe! I also like that adding some flax boosts the nutritional content of the cake and in combination with the agave, the flax allows me to cut back on the oil or butter without compromising flavor or moisture. I originally made this discovery when also trying to bake gluten free, but the trick works just as well with my everyday wheat flour!

My husband who is one of the most discerning food critics I know had this to say The cupcake was very, very good.  Moist.  The frosting was like a Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange.

Cupcakes for Christmas

Last Friday my husbands company had their annual party. For the last couple of years they’ve hosted it at the home of their sales and marketing rep, which makes for a very cozy and laid back get together. The party was catered with food trays from Whole Foods, so the food was all around fairly healthy and tasty! However, as I am the dairy free gal I volunteered to bring along some festive vegan cupcakes. Mr. Green Me is very fond of key lime pie, so in his honor I made vegan coconut lime cupcakes (inspired yet again by Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!).

I basically followed the recipe in the book to a T, short of topping a few of the cupcakes with organic raspberries for a little extra holiday color. There were not any leftovers. Surpised?

Since November all of my baked goods have been made with some locally made flour that I bought back in November. Ill write a post on the flour soon, but I have a few more things to bake first! However, I will say that baking sweets is a bit of a luxury and that I appreciate the cost of using certain items, such as vanilla (I always use the real stuff from Madagascar), coconut and lime, none of which grow in Colorado! However, I have been using a sugar that is processed in Colorado and sourced from Colorado and a few surrounding states, local eggs (when I am not baking vegan), and Ive also been playing a lot with local honey.

Most importantly though, I bake from scratch, I try to buy in bulk, and I use real ingredients. Our bodies are what we eat just as the planet is what we make it, so I am very careful with what goes into my baked goods. And, Ive been making a point of not eating processed sweets of any shape size or variety, because to me they are just another variation of consumeristic plastic cr*p. In other words, if you want sweets take the time to make your own wholesome ones or spend the dough to buy some made by a local bakery (that is also careful with their ingredients).

Enough with the rant. Now for some pictures to make you hungry!

Batter in the cupcake pan prior to baking:

 

Cupcakes cooling on my new cooling rack (thanks to Grandma Green Me in MI, who also gave me the esteemed book).

 

And up close

 

I was very pleased with the result. I hadn’t thought about it ahead of time, but coconut is perfect for winter holiday decorating as the cupcakes look like they are covered with little piles of fluffy snow!

 

If you havent already, get in the spirit and bake something festive! If you need inspiration check out the Cookie Swap (I plan to join the fun someday soon).