Taking the Teese Challenge, Part II

Guess what? I made my first batch of waffles earlier this month! Utterly shocking, I know. But, Tim is the waffle master in our home. I only become part of the equation when the waffle iron needs to be cleaned. Fair trade considering I get a plate of hot, yummy waffles in return. I’m not really sure why I never tackled waffles; I love cooking and baking. Waffle (and pancake!) territory is a whole different arena for me. In an attempt to tackle my waffle fears, I made two batches of different waffles this month. Plain waffles for the first batch, nothing special, but I love simplicity:

The recipe is in Vegan Brunch, the Chelsea Waffles.

For my second batch of waffles I got a little more creative and used my free log of cheddar-style Teese from Chicago Soy Dairy. The idea for the following recipe has been kicking around in my head for at least a month, yet I never seem to find the time to make floaty-mind-thoughts become food on my plate. Priorities, priorities…

If you read my first “Taking the Teese Challenge” post, you know that Chicago Soy Dairy sent vegan food bloggers free Teese. In return, bloggers were asked to create recipes, photograph the results, and write a blog post showcasing the Teese-centric goodness. Sounds fun, right?!

My second Teese creation was a success! It’s so easy to be skeptical when you consider the ingredients, but trust me, these waffles were absolutely ace.

Buttermilk Cheddar Waffles with Sauteed Apples and Savory Syrup (vegan obviously)

My waffle iron yielded 7, six-inch, crispy waffles.

Ingredients for the waffles:

1 1/2 cups light spelt flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups plain, unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk of choice)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I used Teese, of course!)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your waffle iron.
2. In a large bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a glass measuring cup, add the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes to curdle.
4. Add the oil to the almond milk mixture.
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir gently.
6. Add in shredded cheese and stir to combine, but don’t over mix.
7. Add batter to your waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. I used a 1/2 cup of batter per waffle in my waffle iron, just as a reference.

While your waffles are cooking:

*Core and thinly slice one large apple (don’t peel it!!). Place a skillet over medium heat and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add your apple slices and saute them until they are tender, but still a bit crisp too, 5-8 minutes depending on the size of your apple. Remove from heat and set aside.

* In a small saucepan add 3/4 -1 cup pure maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme. You can add more or less thyme depending on your tastes (and how much TIME you have… Hahaaaa!). The thyme really complements the apples and the sweetness of the syrup, I promise!!! Bring the contents of the saucepan to a low boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for a few minutes. Make sure to stir, stir, stir!! Remove from heat and set aside until the waffles are done.

To serve:

Take a few waffles and put them on a plate. Top with sauteed apples, drizzle with savory syrup, and eat! Yeah!

Extra big thanks to the folks at Chicago Soy Dairy for the free Teese and the fun challenge!

When Weekends Fly By…

The weather in Portland has been amazing this past week. Every day has been sunny, warm, and filled with blue skies. Spring is pretty much shoving winter aside and I am a happy camper! Tim and I noticed buds on trees this morning and lots of birdies trotting about on the ground looking for treats. Ahhhh… Here is a weekend recap:

Dinner Friday night:

My co-worker is writing a cookbook (yay!!) and was kind enough to give me her recipe for black bean burgers. She has been bringing them to work for lunch and enticing me with the aroma for months. They are ace. It is really great having co-workers who share a passion for healthy, delicious foods!!!

Tim and I spent much of Saturday riding our bikes and relaxing in the park:

In the evening we had a pizza party with friends and ate this cake:

A chocolate peanut butter cake I made for our friend Emiko’s birthday.

Today we volunteered at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada, OR with several other people. We spent the day building fences, digging ditches, clipping blackberry brambles, and chatting with animals. It was a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to go and help again next month. The animals are so sweet and loving I wish I could scoop them up and lounge with them for hours (although horses and pigs are mighty heavy!).

A silly llama eating grass through a fence.

Tim (in the white top) helping make sure the fence components are level.

Here I am helping dig a drainage ditch to prevent flooding in the pasture.

Singer, the horse. She is nearly blind and followed Tim and I around when we were digging the ditch. She nearly bumped into the wheelbarrow once and it made me sad.

The envious life of a kitty. She lounged in the sunshine all day!

A quiet donkey munching in the pasture.

Best weekend!

Two for Me and None for You.

Hey there! A few weeks ago my dear friend (thank you!) sent me some brownies for my birthday. She ordered them from a lovely little shop on Esty called Sweet Fritsy. The brownies were beautifully packaged and insanely delicious. I ate a bunch even though I promised myself a sugar vacation several days before the brownies arrived in my mailbox. Oh well…

The above two brownies were the last of the batch. Fudgy, melt-in-your-mouth, rich, and dense brownies to make your tummy happy as heck. Why not?! Sweet Fritsy has cookies, brownies, chocolates and other treats available for purchase. You will be so impressed, I promise!!! Go visit her shop and get ready to postpone your sugar vacation.

Taking the Teese Challenge, Part I

Recently the fine folks from Chicago Soy Dairy posted a fun challenge on Facebook for vegan food bloggers: receive some free Teese, create a recipe, photograph it, and blog about it (whether your recipe is a sweeping success or a flopping failure). I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and this was the motivation I needed to force my usually imaginative mind back into action.

Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of vegan cheeses and very rarely purchase or eat them. I even posted about my dislike of Teese once or twice. But, I am always willing to try again, especially when it involves creativity in the kitchen. For me, it isn’t really the taste of Teese, but simply that I don’t miss cheese in my diet and often prefer to fill up on heaps of grains and veggies instead. This challenge yielded a fantastic special meal for Tim and I, the type of meal we don’t normally make, but certainly enjoy from time to time.

Chicago Soy Dairy was very generous and sent two mini logs of Teese (bloggers chose their flavors) out to participants. I chose mozzarella and cheddar. My first recipe was dinner this evening:

Pesto Parsnip Panini

This sammie had homemade hazelnut pesto, roasted red peppers, parsnip, and mozzarella Teese smooshed between chewy slices of local ciabatta bread and grilled. It was delicious!!!! Woohoo!!! My apartment was a smoky mess from the hot grill pan sitting on the stove while I snapped photos, but whatever – Teese Challenge #1 for the win!

Want the recipe?!!!

Here you go!

Pesto Parsnip Paninis -makes 2-3 sammies, depending on the size of your bread

1 batch of hazelnut pesto (recipe follows)

2 small parsnips, peeled, washed, and sliced thinly (about a cup)

1 medium red bell pepper, roasted and sliced into thin strips (about 3/4 – 1 cup)

8 slices of ¬†mozzarella Teese, sliced 1/8″ thick

4-6 slices (about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick) of good quality Italian-style bread, such as ciabatta

extra virgin olive oil for brushing on bread and pan

Hazelnut Pesto

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
3 cups packed, fresh basil leaves (approximately)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t fine sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne if you fancy some heat

Directions for the pesto:

1. Place toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground

2. Add the crushed garlic cloves and process to incorporate

3. Add the basil and process until the mixture comes together nicely

4. Add the olive oil, 1 T at a time, processing well between each addition (you may not need all 3 T or you may need more, depending on your basil)

5. Add salt and pepper(s) and process a bit more until everything is mixed well

***You want the pesto to be a bit thicker than normal pesto so that you can spread it onto the bread***

Assembling/making the sammies:

1. Preheat a cast iron grill pan on your stove over medium heat. If you have a panini press (lucky you!!), plug it in and preheat it (or whatever you are supposed to do with a panini press).

2. Take two slices of bread and brush a bit of olive oil on one side of each slice.

3. Spread about 2 T of pesto (more or less depending on your bread size and taste preferences) on the non-oiled side of each piece of bread.

4. Pile some sliced parsnip on both slices of the bread.

5. Add strips of roasted red pepper to one slice of bread only (otherwise when you sandwich the two slices together it will make a big mess!).

6. Layer some slices of Teese over the pepper strips, overlap the slices a bit. You can sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast on your sammie at this point if you wish (I didn’t, but Tim did).

7. Take the other slice of bread and quickly sandwich it together with the pepper and Teese topped piece.

8. Brush a bit of olive oil on your grill pan (I know olive oil smokes, but the taste is phenomenal for this sammie, so just open a window and relax a bit!).

9. Place your sammie in the grill pan and press firmly down with something heavy. I used a ceramic pie plate and it fit perfectly inside my grill pan. Just make sure to use a pot-holder when pressing down, because whatever you use as a press will get hot.

10. It will take a few minutes per side for your sammie to grill nicely and heat all the ingredients (and melt the Teese a bit). Flip carefully when the first side is crisp and golden and repeat for the other side.

11. Repeat with remaining sammie ingredients. My batch made 3 sammies, and I had a bit of leftover pesto.

Enjoy!!!

A great big thank you to Chicago Soy Dairy for creating such a fun food challenge!!! And thanks a billion for sending me some free Teese!! Check out their blog for recipes and other fun stuff.

Annnnnnnnd, stay tuned for Part II of my Teese Challenge, a recipe using Cheddar Teese!!

Knock, Knock. Who’s there?

Tahini.

Tahini who?

Tahihitoo!

Ah hahaaa! Lame (not really a joke) joke. Goodness, it’s been awhile, huh? Let’s catch up on the last month, shall we?

First, Tim and I celebrated his birthday with cupcakes and lots of laziness:

Jaffa Cupcakes: Chocolate-orange cupcakes with orange frosting and drizzles of chocolate ganache. These were yummy.

Next, I attended an inspirational talk given by Jasmin Singer (big thanks to the Let Live Foundation for organizing this event!). The talk focused on how we can extend our advocacy beyond just the food on our plates, and speak up for animals in our daily lives. It was really wonderful to sit in a room full of people with a passion for animal activism. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we can all do more than just eat vegan food. Watch the talk and learn how you can use your talents to further help those without a voice:

Then, I baked up a few storms for Portland’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti. The sale made over $3,000!!! Woohoo!! Here are a few photos of the treats I made (with plenty of help from Tim!!!):

Rocky Road Cookies: Chocolate cookies with toasted almonds, dried sweet cherries, and vegan marshmallows.

Savory Soft Pretzels: Chewy, soft pretzels sprinkled with lots of yummy seeds.

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies: Dark chocolate sandwiched between chewy almond cookie wafers.

And finally, Tim and I visited Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada, OR. There was a big open house and lots of people showed up to meet, feed, and play with the resident animals. This was my first time visiting an animal sanctuary and I absolutely LOVED the experience!! My favorite animal was this sweet lil’ piggie who walked right up to me and gently snorted his wet snout in my face:

Here are some more photos of the animals we met:

My favorite part of the day was feeding the pigs lettuce and seeing just how happy they were waddling around in the mud!

My birthday is Wednesday, so stay tuned for photos of the cupcakes Tim will be baking!!!