I’m not going to the store!

How did this happen? I only have about 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance in the fridge. Do I not know that it is Thanksgiving? My sweet husband needs butter to inject the turkey and I need butter for the stuffing, not to mention all the other things that “just need a little bit of butter”. Not to worry. I have coconut milk, coconut oil and a few pantry items needed to make vegan butter.
I used to make butter all the time, but then I got lazy and we moved closer to Fred Meyer, where they carry Earth Balance. It doesn’t take too long to make vegan butter, neither is it too difficult. The clean up after making butter is the most tedious part. Right now my kids are playing in a sink full of warm soapy water and greasy measuring cups. I’m quite sure that the cups and my children will need to be washed when they are done playing.
This is one of the first recipes I posted a few years ago. At the time Earth Balance was still a little tricky to find everywhere. It’s still a great recipe to have for those times when you run out of butter or the store is closed or you want something that just tastes a little better. My husband is still amazed that I can make something so close to butter in our kitchen. Here is the original post Can’t have Thanksgiving without BUTTER.10007488_10202338683121303_2497104984883312772_n

Here is the recipe just a little updated:

Vegan Butter

  • 1 cup+2 Tbsp+2 tsp unsweetened coconut milk beverage (not the kind in a can)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups+1 Tbsp+1 tsp coconut oil, measured after melted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or any other liquid oil)
  • 1 tablespoon+1 tsp liquid sunflower lecithin
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  1.  Measure coconut milk, add apple cider vinegar and salt and whisk together . Let sit while working on rest of recipe.
  2.  Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it’s barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. (There are still some chunks in mine, but they get blended up. I just don’t want the oil to be too warm.) Pour coconut and olive oil into processor or blender.
  3. Add the liquid lecithin, sprinkle the xanthan gum over oils and process until well blended. Pour in the coconut milk mixture and process 2 minutes in food processor or 30 seconds in high powered blender. It will thicken up to the consistency of heavy cream.
  4. Place silicone mold on a cookie sheet. Measure ½ cup at a time and pour into mold, I use a mini loaf pan that is just right. It makes it much easier to use in baking if you measure before you mold.
  5.  Pop the pan in freezer.
  6. After they are hard take the cubes out of the mold and wrap in plastic wrap.

I usually keep my butter in the freezer and just have one or two sticks in the fridge. You can’t leave this butter out like dairy butter, but it will melt easily on toast or warm rolls.

This recipe is based on the recipes I found here.  www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/veganbutters/veganbutter  There is no way I could have come up with this concept on my own. Mattie is a bit of a genius! If you want learn more about butter and vegan butter, read this article. Again, I have to thank the vegans for improving my quality of life. THANK YOU!

 

Mexican Veggie Soup

I bought my first package of “Veggie Ground”…um…meat? product?…fake hamburger. Yves Veggie Cuisine. I am not a fan of soy. I remember reading several papers about the dangers of soy years ago and I stopped using soy milk. Ask me what those papers were specifically warning against and I will give you a vague answer, possibly involving hormones. Anyway, I was scared enough to not buy another half-gallon of soy milk. But some things, like Tofutti cream cheese taste better to me than other brands I’ve tried. Moderation! Plus, I’m a bit stumped coming up with vegan protein. I can’t seem to eat enough nuts and seeds to get enough protein. And yes, I have read the blogs about people not needing as much protein as “guidelines” tell us we need, but when my hair starts falling out, I’m eating more protein.

I started making this soup a couple of years ago with ground beef. My sweetie loves it! Not sure how the no beef version will go over.  I love it! And if I’m cooking, that’s what matters. It is a great way to get my kids to eat veggies. For some reason I can put just about anything in soup and they will eat it. Unless they have decided that they no longer like soup. In which case, I just give up.

Mexican Veggie Soup

  • 1 package of veggie meat crumbles or 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced or shredded, what ever you prefer
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups baby spinach

If you are using beef, brown it first then on to the next step. Saute “meat”, onion, celery and bell pepper in a little olive oil. When the onion is transparent add carrots, crushed tomatoes, broth and seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes. About 10 minutes before serving stir in the green beans. Right before serving stir in spinach. There have been times that I wanted the spinach just wilted so I filled my bowl with greens and then poured hot soup over the top. OR if my children are being picky I’ll chop the spinach and let it simmer for a couple of minutes in the soup. Greens can be a personal thing.

 

Fall Mani Ideas

I love seasonal manicures. I just can’t bring myself to paint my nails bright pink in November. Unless I really want to have pink nails. This fall I have been loving earthy, bronze tones. My pale skin doesn’t wear earth tones well, so I have to pick my neutrals carefully. I have been wearing a lot of Rubble, Sugared Spice and Iced Cappuccino from CND Shellac.

 

I have a “capsule” mentality when it comes to polish. I don’t have a ton of colors. Shellac is pretty expensive and I’m not doing anybody else’s nails. If I buy it, I’m the only one using it. I will occasionally do my sister’s or niece’s nails, but as we live in different states, it is rare. So, I get creative with the colors that I do have. Glitter, jewels or studs are an inexpensive way to switch up your mani without having to buy more colors of polish.  Hmm, which look will I pick for this weekend?

Old Country Comfort Food

Sausage Meatballs and Sauerkraut

  • 1 lb bulk pork sausage
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour (or all-purpose if not GF)
  • 1 quart sauerkraut**

Bring sauerkraut to a boil in a wide pan. Mix sausage, eggs, onion, rice and flour all together. (I use my hands, pretty squishy, but it seems to work the best). Make a well in the sauerkraut for each meatball (4-6). Form meat mixture into balls*. Put each meatball into a separate cavity and lower heat. Simmer covered for about an hour.

Serve with green beans topped with fresh grated nutmeg and appelmoes (applesauce).

*They will not be firm! These are not like Italian meatballs that can be made and put on a cookie sheet. Pretty much, get a handful of the mix and plop it into the sauerkraut.
**I bought Saverne Artisanal Kraut in Garlic and Dill flavor. Two, one pound bags will get a quart of sauerkraut. As in any recipe the ingredients will change the recipe. You can make this with Jimmy Dean sausage and Vlasic sauerkraut. That would not be my recommendation, but it would work. The Saverne Kraut was pretty yummy. The garlic and dill weren’t too strong, in fact I might add garlic and dill to the recipe next time.
This picture only has half the amount of sauerkraut called for in the recipe. It should cover at least half of your meatballs, but if I took the picture that way you wouldn’t be able to see the meatballs.

Where do our comfort foods come from? We all have different comfort foods that depend on where your family came from or where you grew up.  Perhaps there is an emotion or memory tied to a certain food. Today I’m making “Meatballs and Kraut” or Pork Sausage Meatballs and Sauerkraut. I didn’t particularly care for this dish when I was a small child, but as I got older I began to crave it. It was one of the recipes I learned as teenager. I remember a small cooking disaster when my sister and I burnt the sauerkraut. That was bad. Don’t do that. The smell will haunt you (and your kitchen).

When I was little we would buy a 4-H hog and have it butchered by a German butcher. Not that my mother was looking for a German butcher, the best local butcher just happened to be German. Anyway, the sausage he made was not too spicy, but was very garlicky and it was perfect for these meatballs.

I want this recipe to be from my great-grandmother. Something her mother made on cold rainy days in the Netherlands. It could be from my Dutch family. BUT if my mom was alive and I asked her about it, she might say “Oh, I got that from a Better Homes and Garden’s magazine”. Either way, this is my perfect winter comfort food.

My husband also loves Meatballs and Kraut. He says the meatballs remind him of boudin; a definite comfort food for Louisianans.  He likes to add a little spice to his and that is fine with me. It’s pretty amazing that this Northern European style meal can comfort a Dutch Oregonian and a Japanese Louisianan. Ah, food, you surprise me again.

 

Lunchbox “Cowboy” Cookies

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Ranger Cookies

  • ½ cup margarine (dairy-free)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats (gluten free)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups rice crispies (gluten free)
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips (optional)

Cream together margarine, sugars and peanut butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix soda, baking powder, salt, oats and coconut.  Gently stir in crispies and chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least 1 hour (overnight would be better). Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on pan and then transfer to cooling rack. Makes 4 doz.

I am in so much trouble with these cookies. I would eat these until I am sick. I have to put them into a secure container as soon as they are cool. I’ve already eaten four, before they were actually cool. I must remember I made these to put in my daughter’s lunch, not eat (all of them) myself.

This recipe has been modified quite a bit. It started out as a recipe that my mom’s friend got from a bakery in Sun Valley. They were called ranger cookies. I halved the recipe and added peanut butter to them. Then I wanted to make them gluten free so I changed just about everything from the original recipe. Then I added chocolate chips, because my daughter wanted chocolate chip cookies. That is often the way recipes work at our house. Pretty sure my mom’s friend would not recognize these cookies as being the offspring of her recipe. I guess adding the chocolate chips makes these more like cowboy cookies. Whatever you want to call them, they are delicious!

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I had to put the cookies in bags inside the canister so that I don’t eat them all. These are reserved for school lunches only. Seriously, I can’t stop eating them!

GF DF Brownies

GF DF Brownies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup DF chocolate chips
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup GF flour blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl.  Stir in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.  Add vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix well, until smooth. Add GF flour, salt and baking powder. Gently fold flour in, until just incorporated. Pour batter into greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 25- 30 minutes at 350°.

 

So, I made these for my little GF girl to have in her lunch. BUT, they smell so amazing! AND they are brownies. I really don’t know it I can resist them. She can’t eat the whole pan. They will be stale before she could eat all of them. Right?

These brownies are pretty fragile. I can’t seem to get the first one out of the pan without some damage. I have been sending them to school, but I prefer them in a dairy free brownie sundae!

Not a good photo. I’m working on it.

Mini Donut Break

 

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It is fall break here and at our house any school break is a reason to make donuts. This time I had two requests from the children. The eldest asked for gluten free and the youngest asked for “no pumpkin”. But it is FALL! Fine, no pumpkin. I wanted to have spice donuts, but after I put hemp protein powder in these babies, I decided that chocolate would be better. My kids are pretty good at eating what I give them, but green donuts aren’t terribly appetizing. So a couple of tablespoons of cocoa and these donuts were perfectly chocolate. These are so good! I’m still so new to gluten free baking. I haven’t even begun to figure it out. These actually turned out. They were light and so tender. I was trying to find a substitute for rye flour and in a list I saw hemp flour. AND since gluten free products benefit from protein added to them I thought “hemp protein powder”. It worked. I am so happy.

GF DF Chocolate Donuts

  • ½ cup GF flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ¼ cup hemp protein powder (Manitoba Harvest)
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg OR dash pumpkin pie spice
  •  ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (or carob powder)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  •  1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  •  ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Stir egg, milk, and vanilla together. Add wet into dry ingredients. Stir in melted coconut oil. Preheat oven to 400° while the batter rests. Fill greased donut (or muffin) pan 1/3 full. Bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on pan size, 6 min. is perfect for mini donuts). Cool on wire rack and shake in*/sprinkle on powdered sugar. Makes about 18-24 mini donuts.

I have tried filling the donut pan using a spoon because I think it will be easier or less wasteful or something, but using a pastry bag or sandwich bag with the corner snipped is the best way to fill the pan.

*My girls love to cover the donuts in tons of sugar. Put 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar into a (food safe) paper bag. Gently toss 1-3 donuts in the bag at a time. These donuts are fragile and one or two have been lost to overzealous sugar shaking.