Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Potato pierogi with caramelized onions

Our house smells amazing right now. We used to eat pierogi all the time- Mrs. T's! They're a very convenient food and not very good for you. Even the homemade ones aren't so good for you. But we used to eat them all the time and I was missing pierogi! Growing up there was a Polish church nearby that supplied us with a pretty steady stream during the Lenten season so since we're now in Lent I've been really wanting to taste some! I got the recipe from Post Punk Kitchen- again, Isa Moskowitz. I served it with some cashew sour cream and caramelized onions.

I'm going to copy what Isa writes on her site- her directions are much better than what I can write. Go ahead and give these a try!

"This is one of those time-consuming recipes that will change your life. If you make them once and know what to expect, the next time you make them won’t be such a big deal. Because the ingredients are so simple and unadulterated, choose good quality, organic potatoes whose flavor packs the most punch.
Make filling and dough a night in advance, then all you have to do in the morning is boil pierogis and make the caramelized onions.
For the Caramelized Onions:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 lbs sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla), diced medium
For the Dough:
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1/4 cup canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoons salt
To serve:
To make the caramelized onions:
This is kind of an art, so don’t rush it! Since they onions can be left alone for intervals, start them before starting the dough, then take breaks from kneading the dough to stir the onions. The basic idea here is to sweat the onions, which means you’ll be gently cooking them, covered over low heat, and a lot of the cooking will be done from the steam as the moisture is released. You’re coaxing the sweetness out of them and locking it in. It looks like a lot of onion, and it is, but everything will cook down to manageable proportions, I promise. If you’ve never tasted caramelized onions, you might be surprised that an onion is even capable of this deep, sweet complexity, and with only two ingredients flavor.
Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron, skillet over low heat. Add the oil and the onions and toss the onions to coat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, leaving a little gap for steam to escape. Stir occasionally, every 5 minutes or so. Onions should turn a nice mellow amber, but not burn, although a couple of darker spots are fine.
Remove the cover and turn the heat up just a bit, to a medium setting. Stir often for 10 more minutes. Onions should become a darker amber, and some of the moisture should evaporate.
Make the filling:
In a medium sized pot, cover potatoes in water. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 more minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, sautée the onions in oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes. Turn the heat off but stir occasionally even when the heat is turned off because they could still burn from the hot pan. When the potatoes are done boiling, drain them well and add them to the pan with the onions. Just mashed them right in there with a potato masher, that way you are sure to get all the flavor. Add the salt and pepper. Make sure potatoes are mashed well and fluffy. Set aside to cool a bit.

To make the dough:
If you’re like me, you have limited counter space and so rolling out dough can be a hassle. I make the dough last because the mess becomes much more manageable when you don’t have to prep on the counter afterwards. It also gives your filling some time to cool. So make sure you clean up after your filling making and get someone to do the dishes for you. I find that a serene counter makes all the difference in dough making.
Pour the water and oil into a large bowl. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt, keeping one cup aside. Use a fork to stir the flour in, and as it starts to come together, use your hands to knead until a loose dough forms (about 3 minutes.)
Sprinkle your counter with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and knead. Add the reserved cup of flour a little bit at a time, working it into the dough, until it is very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little bit more flour and knead it in, sometimes up to 1/4 cup extra. Conversely, if you get a good- feeling, smooth, elastic dough that isn’t tacky with less less than the extra cup of flour, then that’s okay, too.
Now we roll the dough out, and also bring a salted pot of water to boil—, the largest pot you’ve got—, for boiling the pierogis.
Divide the dough in half and make sure your counter is clean and sprinkled with a dusting of flour to prevent sticking. Roll half the dough out to about 1/16 of an inch thick, which is to say, very thin but not see through. I rolled it into an 18- by- 10 inch rectangle, but as long as you have the thinness going, the shape doesn’t matter so much. Sprinkle the top with a light dusting of flour.

Now we’re going to make circles. I use the top of a glass that is 3 1/2 inches, but somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 inches is perfect. Use a glass or a cookie cutter. Have ready a lightly floured plate to place the finished circles on, and go ahead and firmly press your glass or cookie cutter into the dough, as close together as you can. Pull the excess dough up and set aside. Place circles on the floured plate and transfer to the fridge while you repeat with the other half of the dough. Combine the excess doughs and see if you can get a few more wrappers out of the deal.

NOTE: If it’s very hot in your kitchen there’s a chance that the circles will stick together. Sprinkle them with flour and make sure they don’t get wet to prevent sticking. If they do stick, you can roll them out and try again.
Now we’re ready to boil some pierogi! Make sure your water is rapidly boiling. The filling should be room temp or colder. Have a small bowl of water for wetting the edges of the wrappers. Place about a tablespoon of filling into the center of a circle and dab water around the circumference of the circle. Fold the edges of the wrapper over filling and pinch in the middle to hold together. Pinch down the sides so that you have a sealed half moon. Don’t be shy with the pinching, and don’t try to make it look like perfect pinches. The most important thing is that you are getting them sealed, so use pressure and really seal them up. I think it looks really cool when the pinches aren’t perfectly spaced, it gives them a beautiful homemade rustic look and let’s you know that it came from a person, not a robot.

If some of the filling is sneaking its way out, then use a little less filling with the next one. Once you get the amount of dough down, you can do a few at a time in assembly line style. I usually do six, lay out the circles, add the filling, pinch them closed. This works out perfectly if you time it with the boiling.

To boil, gently lower pierogis in to the water with a slotted spoon. Boil about six at a time. When they float they are ready. If for some reason they aren’t floating, it takes about 4 minutes for them to cook. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a plate as you prepare the rest. Cover finished ones lightly with tin foil to keep warm. Proceed until all pierogi are boiled.
If you’d like to fry instead: Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat, add a thin layer of canola oil, and fry pierogi on each side until golden brown (probably 3 minutes on one side and a minute on the next.) I personally prefer them boiled.
I really like to serve the pierogi in an oversized bowl, sprinkle amply with salt and smother in lots and lots of caramelized onions."

I added some nutritional yeast to the filling, along with some garlic powder. Feel free to play with the ingredients in the filling!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fig and pear pop-tarts

I don't know why I was craving pop-tarts all of a sudden today but I was, so I googled some vegan pop-tart recipes. They're a lot easier to make than I thought! I opted out of the frosting on mine because I don't love frosting, but please feel free to make it and try it on top. I used fruit-sweetened fig and pear jam- 3 of each. I got the recipe from here and only altered a few things. The recipe makes 6 pop-tarts.


For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance
1/4 cup cold plain almond milk

For the filling:
your favorite jam- I used 2 kinds: pear and fig

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 heaping Tbs jam
1 Tbs almond milk, plus more as needed

1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the soy margarine until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the almond milk gradually, mixing until the dough just comes together and is neither sticky nor crumbly and dry.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until 1/8" thick into a large rectangle. Using a lightly floured pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal rectangles. Using a lightly floured spatula, transfer 6 of the rectangles to the prepared sheet. Spoon about 2-3 Tbs of the jam to the middle of the rectangles, leaving about 1/4" border around the preserves. Place the remaining rectangles on top and gently pinch the edges, crimping until sealed. (You can dab a bit of water on the corners if this helps.) Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and allow the tarts to cool for 10-15 minutes before icing.

There's one missing because I ate it... :)
4. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, combine the powdered sugar, preserves and almond milk, blending until smooth and adding soy milk as necessary. After the tarts have cooled for 10-15 minutes, ice the tops with the icing and allow to cool completely. Freeze and then re-toast pastries in the toaster when ready to enjoy, or just enjoy at room temperature! These do not come with microwave directions like regular pop-tarts do;)

Save your veggie scraps!

Since we don't yet have a composter, I started saving our veggie scraps (onion peels and ends, garlic ends,   carrot peels, celery ends, etc) in a plastic bag (that I've put in the freezer) to use one day to make homemade veggie broth. Stay tuned for more!

Minestrone soup

This recipe comes from The New Moosewood Cookbook, one of my all-time favorites. It's a hearty, very healthy soup full of fresh veggies and good-for-you beans. Minestrone tastes great when freshly made and  tastes even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to "marry" in the fridge. This soup yields about 6 to 8 servings and is quite filling.


2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
1 stalk celery, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small zucchini, diced and/or 1 cup diced eggplant
1 tsp oregano
fresh black pepper, to taste
1 tsp basil
1 medium bell pepper, diced
3 to 4 cups (or more) water
1 14/12-oz can tomato purée (about 2 cups)
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked pea beans, chick peas or kidney beans
1/2 to 1 cup dry pasta (any shape)
1 or 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, died (optional)
1/2 cup freshly mined parsley (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add celery, carrot, eggplant (if using zucchini, add it later with the bell pepper), oregano, black pepper and basil. Cover and cook over very low heat about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water and tomato purée. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer another 5 minutes.

3. Bring the soup to a gentle boil. Add pasta, stir and cook until the pasta is tender. Stir in the diced fresh tomatoes, and serve right away. Try serving it topped with some vegan parmesan.

Guilt-free chocolate bundt cake

We had our cousins up for dinner yesterday and enjoyed a nice, simple meal of minestrone soup, Liz's salad, homemade bread and this chocolate cake with strawberries for dessert. Yum!

I got the recipe from Veganomicon, under the title "Lower-fat deep chocolate bundt cake". It's so easy to make and all you really need to have that's special is a bundt cake pan. They're easy to find and are pretty useful for different kinds of cakes. Don't shy away from these cakes- just be sure you grease them and the cake will pop out nicely.


1 3/4 cup fresh brewed coffee
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp confectioner's sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF. Lightly grease an 8 or 10-inch bundt pan.

2. Bring the coffee to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is simmering, turn down the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until it has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to bring to room temperature. I just used fresh, hot coffee and poured it in a pyrex measuring cup instead of heating the coffee on the stove.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, canola oil, applesauce and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved, about 2 minutes. Mix in the extracts. Once the chocolate has cooled a bit, mix that in as well.

4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat until relatively smooth, about 1 minute with a hand mixer or 2 minutes with a whisk.

5. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through its center comes out clean. If your pan is on the smaller side, it could take up to 55 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate to cool completely. once cool, sift confectioner's sugar over the top and enjoy.

I served it with sliced strawberries. A wonderful, guilt-free dessert with not a lot of calories or fat.

Chickpeas and nut butter

I'm sitting around the house this morning, doing some blogging and listening to recordings from an amazing food conference that happened this weekend, the Conscious Food Summit. It's free and full of great information without being preachy. If there's one thing most people can't tolerate, it's preachy vegans. Anyways, feel free to check it out. I got hungry for my morning snack as I was listening and I remembered that I have tons of chickpeas in the fridge (from a big batch I soaked and cooked on Saturday night). On Oh She Glows (yes, this one again!) there's a great recipe for a quick, filling snack with chickpeas "Chick P's and P.B.". I tweaked the recipe a bit based on what I have on hand in our kitchen. It was pretty tasty and definitely a good snack idea to have in the repertoire. This recipe makes one serving.


1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinse and drained)
1 heaping Tbs nut butter (I used almond)
1/2 tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)

Mix the nut butter and sweetener in a bowl and add the cooked chickpeas. Mix until evenly coated. Enjoy as is or with a piece of toast or soft bread.

Beau Jo's Pizza

We went up to Fort Collins on Saturday and poked around before going to see The Artist at the Lyric Cinema. First of all- go see the movie. Second of all, go to the Lyric! They have a café and serve beer and wine and hummus plates and tea and other yummy things. You can go see a cool indy film and lounge on a couch all while enjoying a Fat Tire. What's not to love? Also- Tuesday evenings they have student specials for only $4. ALSO they have morning cartoons from 10-12 with all-you-can-eat cereal. I smell a Saturday morning date in our future:)

As we were walking around downtown we stopped in Ace and picked up seeds for our future garden. More about this later- we'll see how the garden goes! I'm excited to take up this project. In the meantime, here are the seeds we selected:

So back to what this post is really about. Michael and I walked around in the morning and then had a delicious pizza lunch at BeauJo's. This place has really yummy pizza. East coasters beware- it's not like east coast pizza but it's still delicious! Here is a link to their menu. We ordered a vegetarian combo mountain pie with honey whole wheat crust and Daiya dairy-free cheese. So wonderful. I love that they have the dairy free option and that it's Daiya. This kind of "cheese"is one of the only ones on the market without casein added to it. It melts really well and has a decent cheesy taste. The Fort Collins location is in an old bank and there is a beautiful ceiling and old vaults still there. Worth going inside even just to check out the historical building.

Here's a picture of our delicious pizza:

They serve this pizza with a  side of honey to dip the crust in- so tasty!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chocolate chia pudding

Another wonderful recipe from Oh She Glows. I threw this together in the morning before I left for work and it was perfect for dessert last night. When chia seeds soak they get this almost tapioca texture and they thicken up the liquids with them. This recipe is so simple and is really pretty healthy if you're craving something chocolatey and it's quick and easy to make. I'm actually eating the leftovers right now for second breakfast. Don't judge! I have a dentist appointment for a filling this morning and won't get to eat lunch at a normal time:)

Ingredients: (I modified a few things from the original recipe)

1 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, as needed to thin out
1/4 cup chia seeds
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1 Tbs agave nectar
shaved chocolate for garnish (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients (starting with 1 1/4 cup almond milk) until the clumps are gone. Place in fridge for 1-2 hours, until thick or overnight. Stir well, add more milk if desired to achieve the thickness you like and serve chilled. Alternatively you can heat in the microwave and serve it warm. It's nice with a spoonful of coconut cream mixed in or a mashed banana too.

Creamy avocado pesto with broccoli

Mmmm pesto. I love it. Even though basil isn't quite in season yet- once in awhile I make a splurge! This pasta dish is so creamy and delicious and was exactly what I wanted to eat tonight for dinner. I love when that happens. I got the recipe from Oh She Glows. Angela Liddon is amazing! Her original recipe is half of what I have here and it serves 2 but we were pretty hungry so I doubled it and we have some leftover. I also added broccoli to the mix because we wanted to have some more greens in the dish- broccoli is perfect with this creamy sauce because it sops it up and you get a mouthful of delicious creamy pesto. We'll see how the leftovers taste- I'm not planning on re-heating them because avocado doesn't heat well. The lemon juice should preserve the avocado enough to taste good cold for lunch. Think- pesto pasta salad. I'll let you know!

Serves 4


2 medium sized avocados, pitted
1 lemon juiced plus lemon zest to garnish
4-6 garlic cloves to taste (of course we used 6)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 oz pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat shells)
2 handfuls broccoli florets
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring several cups of water to boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add the pitted avocado, basil and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.

3. About 5 minutes before pasta is done cooking add the broccoli florets into the water. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta back in the pot with a little olive oil so it doesn't stick. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

I added freshly cracked black pepper- and I liked it. For those of you who know me, this is a huge step!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fudgy raspberry brownies

In Veganomicon there's a recipe for "Fudgy wudgy blueberry brownies" that has intrigued me for awhile. Blueberries and chocolate? Why? Why not? Well, I decide to make these for dessert last night, kind of at the last minute, and our local grocery store didn't have any fruit-sweetened blueberry jam- only some with high fructose corn syrup. So, I opted for Isa's raspberry alternative instead. I picked up some fresh raspberries and a jar of fruit-sweetened raspberry jam and then started making this version of the recipe. They are wonderful and perfect with raspberries but I'm looking forward to trying them with blueberries. The brownies come out chewy and fudgy in the middle and crisp on the edges- in my opinion, how a perfect brownie should be. Here's my take on the recipe:

Michael, playing Angry Birds while he waits.

2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
10 ounces raspberry spreadable fruit
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

2. Melt the 2/3 cup chocolate chips, reserving the 1/2 cup as whole chips. You can do this in a double broiler on the stove or in the microwave. I chose the micro because it's pretty easy. Just nuke it for about a minute and stir until the chips are melted. Heat and again if they're still not melted.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the raspberry spreadable fruit, almond milk, sugar, canola oil and extracts. Mix with a whisk until no large clumps of the spreadable fruit remain- it might take a few minutes.

4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until well mixed- use a fork because the batter gets pretty thick and can clump up the whisk. Mix in the melted chocolate.

5. Fold in the remaining chocolate chips and the fresh raspberries. Spread the batter in the baking pan (don't worry if it doesn't come to the very corners of the pan because the batter will spread while baking and it will all work out).

6. Bake for 45 minutes. You can't really do a toothpick test here because the chocolate chips will make the toothpick look wet and the top will appear soft and crinkly and not done when, we promise you, it is done.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool. Slice into sixteen squares (or whatever size you want). If you want to serve it warm wait about 30 minutes, so it is still warm but not hot.

Easy, wonderful no-knead bread

I feel like I'm really late to jump on this bandwagon- most people already know about this recipe, which is fantastic! This is the most wonderful bread recipe I've come across! I can't tell you how tasty this bread is- just go make it for yourself. It's so easy to make and it leaves some room for experimenting- try it with 1/2 cup whole wheat or even some other grains or spices added in. I got the recipe from a family I babysit for and it's also all over the internet. It was published in the NY Times in 2006. Check out this video about it: 

I see myself making this bread pretty often. First thing you do need for it, which may be different from other bread recipes you've tried in the past, is a ceramic, porcelain, Pyrex, or cast iron pot with a top on it. Here's the one I got because I couldn't afford one of these.

This recipe takes a lot of time but it's not active time. Just giving you fair warning.


3 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 5/8 cup water

1. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and then pour water in. Mix until combined. The dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

2. After 12-18 hours, the dough is ready when the surface is bubbly.

3. Turn out onto a floured surface and sprinkle some more flour on top. Fold the bread onto itself a few times and then loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

4. Generously sprinkle cornmeal, flour or wheat germ generously onto a kitchen towel (not terrycloth). Carefully form the dough into a ball and put the dough onto the towel, seam side facing down. Sprinkle more cornmeal, flour or wheat germ on top and cover with another towel. Let rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.

5. About 30 minutes before the bread is ready, preheat the oven to 450ºF and place the pot into the oven as it heats up. When ready, carefully turn the dough, seam-side up into the pan and cover with the top. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove the cover and bake for another 15-30 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a cookie sheet to cool and form a crust.

We ate ours tonight with some stew. Yum!