Showing posts with label vegan recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan recipes. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Easy in the Kitchen: Slow Cooker to Make Homemade Beans

Programmable Slow Cooker
Yes, I admit it. I have 2 slow cookers and I use them both regularly. Easy in the kitchen is my preference and I'm going to review with you how I make things easier with my slow cookers. They aren't just for making dinners anymore. There's plenty to enjoy about slow cookers.

My two are different sizes. I have a smaller one that is a 4-quart cooker, and I have a larger programmable 6-quart size (www.kitchen-basics-small-appliances.com/programmable-slow-cookers-easy-cooking). I have made plenty of chilis, stews and soups in my slow cookers and I will continue to do so. The joy of tossing in all the ingredients, turn the thing on and come back to dinner ready to serve can't be beat. Plus, why not make enough for 2 or more dinners? That's easy in the kitchen in my book.

Homemade Beans


One of my favorite uses for my slow cookers is making my own homemade "cans" of beans. I was one of those people who would buy cans and try to force myself to use them. Sure beans are good for you, but I could never stomach the boring taste and slimy liquid canned beans were packed in. Discovering how to make my own beans made a world of difference.

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans or any white bean
I start with dried beans - so much cheaper! About 1/2 cup of dried beans will equal a standard can size of cooked beans (about 1 1/2 cups). My smaller slow cooker easily handles a cup and half of dried beans, so I make 3 "cans" of beans at a time. 

Dried beans need to be soaked first, so I do this in my slow cooker. Usually overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans, put them back in the slower cooker, add enough water to cover the beans with about 2 inches of water on top, and cook. I set my slow cooker on high for 4 hours and the beans are cooked to perfection. If you have a programmable slow cooker, you can set it to cook the beans when it's most convenient for you. 

Packaging Homemade Beans


Freezing your cans of homemade beans is the easiest option.  I use half-pint mason jars which hold about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans - the equivalent of a standard can. Remember to label them with the date as well. Frozen beans should last about 6 months. Of course, I can't ever test that out, I use my frozen beans too fast! 

Here's an easy in the kitchen trick for you. With any frozen foods, top the food with a piece of parchment paper. That will prevent ice crystals from forming and will keep freezer burn out of your food. 

Choosing a Slow Cooker


If you're in the market for a slow cooker, whether your first, second or ninth, there are things to consider before you buy. The options are numerous. You'll want to think about what size you need, what features will be helpful and what your budget allows. When you have the right appliance for the right cooking needs, you will have an easier time in the kitchen. 

So stop depending on store-bought cans of beans. Make your own. Flavor them to your own tastes and enjoy healthy and delicious homemade beans in your slow cooker. 





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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins - Recipe Review

Sweet Ginger Muffins copyright BuckHawk 


Looking for easy, vegan and gluten-free muffin recipes, I came across a delicious looking sweet ginger one. But, it wasn't completely perfect to go with the soup I was planning for dinner. Therefore, I did the conversions needed to end up with Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins.

Here I'll tell you about the original recipe along with the changes I made to create my new muffin recipe. Although my recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, I've included the easy changes you can make to convert it to standard diet fare.



The Original Muffin Recipe


Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats
One of my favorite vegan and gluten-free cookbooks is Allyson Kramer's Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats from Around the World. In her section titled Tasty Treats from Central and South America, she includes a recipe for Chilean-Style Sweet Ginger Cake. This was the recipe that enticed me into creating my own version.

Sweet Ginger Cake is meant to be a dessert. But, to go with the potato leek soup I was serving, I wanted something a bit less desserty. Ergo, less sugar and sweet ingredients and the addition of vegan cheese shreds and nutritional yeast. The result was a delicious cheesy muffin similar to sponge cake in texture.

Sweet Ginger Cheese Muffins Recipe


Ingredients and directions:
  • 2/3 cup vegan margarine 
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream these ingredients together until they form a smooth paste. I used my stand mixer for this. It just goes so much faster.

Then add in:
  • 2 teaspoons dried, ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups gram flour
  • 1/4 cup honey, agave or other sweetner
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
Mix all of this together until you have a smooth batter. Finally fold in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. I used a combination of Daiya brand mozzarella and cheddar style vegan shreds.

Grease and flour 12 standard muffin cups and divide the mixture among the tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Recipe Notes


For those of you who are not familiar with vegan and gluten free cooking, many of these ingredients will sound foreign. But every single one is available in health food stores and online.

If you want to make these muffins in a more conventional way, you can easily replace the vegan margarine for butter, replace both the tapioca and gram flour with all-purpose flour, skip the xanthan gum and replace the vegan versions of milk and cheese with dairy versions.

Nutritional yeast is not like standard bread yeast. It's deactivated and more similar to brewer's yeast. It adds a cheesy flavor and vitamin B12 to anything it's added to. Nutritional yeast is found in a dried version, either flakes or powder. If you don't have nutritional yeast, you may want to add more cheese shreds.

Either way you want to make this recipe, you will enjoy a combination of flavors. Unexpected combination, I agree, but the result will complement soups and stews wonderfully.


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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Reviewing Vegan Holiday Cookbooks

Jennifer Katzinger Vegan Holiday Cookbook
As a vegan cook, the holidays are especially tricky. Most holidays including Thanksgiving, usually center around a big meat dish. Here I'll give you my reviews of the vegan cookbooks I've used throughout the holidays.

Some are better than others, of course. Some give you menus to work from while others have given me ideas to get me started on my own menus for the various holidays. Whether you want to serve a full vegan holiday dinner, or just need some good ideas for vegan dishes for your guests, you can find the recipes and ideas you need in each of these vegan holiday cookbooks.

My Favorite Vegan Holiday Cookbook

Reviewing vegan holiday cookbooks
Gluten-Free and Vegan: Celebrating the Year

My favorite, the one that I turn to most often, vegan holiday cookbook is by Jennifer Katzinger titled, Gluten-Free and Vegan: Celebrating the Year with Simple, Satisfying Recipes and Menus. I've reviewed it more extensively in an article for Cooking for the Holidays site, so I'll just summarize here.

Author Katzinger is a long experience vegan chef, but she's a baker by love. Her desserts are amazing. She shares her vegan and gluten-free versions of traditional holiday desserts. It's her Thanksgiving menu, with all of the simple recipes that I turn to most often to celebrate this holiday. Appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts are all combine to make a great Thanksgiving dinner.

reviewing vegan holiday cookbooks
Happy Herbivore Holidays

The Happy Herbivore Vegan Holiday Cookbook


Lindsay Nixon has made a name for herself as the Happy Herbivore. She has many cookbooks on the market, but her Happy Herbivore Holidays and Gatherings: Easy Plant-based Recipes for Your Healthiest Celebrations and Special Occasions is one of her best in my vegan opinion.

I was delighted at how easy her recipes are. Since I'm basically a lazy cook, I needed simple, yet tasty recipes. She has a wealth of them. And she doesn't require exotic ingredients in her recipes. That sure helps if ethnic markets are not close by.

Fair warning here. If you are already a Happy Herbivore fan and have others of her cookbooks, you will discover that she recycled many of her other recipes. But, these are organized for those big holiday celebrations.

The good news is that all of my non-vegan friends and relations enjoyed my vegan menus. Even my son-in-law didn't feel the need to rush to McDonald's for a McRib sandwich or two! Now that is a true compliment to the Happy Herbivore.

Planning Your Own Vegan Holiday Menus

Reviewing Vegan Holiday Cookbooks
But I Could Never Go Vegan

If you want to plan your own menus for the holidays or just looking for interesting vegan recipes, I have a favorite cookbook for you. But I Could Never Go Vegan, by Kristy Turner, is it. Forget boring standard fare, Turner gives you an amazing collection of unique and interesting recipes.

Avocado and Kale Florentine is one of those unique and interesting recipes. I've included it many brunch menus. Talk about a hit! Author Turner has plenty of these hits. Her vegan Cheesy Veggie Stromboli is usually part of my vegan Thanksgiving dinner. Savory Corn Cheesecake makes a stunning presentation of your holiday table.

Whether you want a full menu to make a vegan holiday meal, or just looking for something special to add to your table, any of these cookbooks could be your answer. Each one holds a special place in my cookbook collection.

You can always find more cookbook reviews at Review This! Books.


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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grilling Vegan Style, Cookbook Review

With outdoor grilling season soon to be upon those of us in the colder climates, it's time to tell you about a new cookbook I found. Grilling Vegan Style, by John Schlimm, is way more than just another vegan cookbook. It turned out to be an eye-opener for me.

It's true I have had to turn to vegan eating for my own health, but I also discovered how exciting and delicious the foods can be. One thing I wanted to do was to grill vegetables. Haha - you think a vegan lifestyle is stuck with grilling veggies only? Then you are in for a treat with Grilling Vegan Style.

For the Novice Griller and Expert Alike


Now, I will have to admit that I was a complete novice when it comes to using an outdoor grill. I had just gotten my first grill. But how much charcoal do I put into it? How will I know when the coals are ready? My list of questions was long. And author John Schlimm came to my rescue. He starts off with a simple explanation of how to handle a charcoal grill. After reading his explanation, I made my first grilled dinner easily.

So maybe you have lots more experience than I do. Maybe you have a gas or electric grill. Don't worry. Schlimm has you covered there, too. He details what temperatures look like on your settings, how to prepare your grill for cooking, even how to work with direct and indirect heat.

Covering Recipes for All


Granted, my initial grilling attempts were simple things like veggie kabobs and veggie burgers, but I knew I would expand into all numbers of delicious dishes after looking through Grilling Vegan Style. Schlimm shows you how to grill any number of foods including fruit. Grilled pear halves is now a great favorite at my house.

Those of us who enjoy tailgating have a friend in Schlimm. He has a whole chapter full of great recipes just for tailgate parties. Take a look as his Halftime Pizza recipe for example.

More than just tailgating, he covers picnic options, summer salads topped with grilled goodies, even PB & J sandwiches for the kids in all of us. Personally, I can't wait for watermelon season. Yep, you heard that right. Grilling Vegan Style includes a recipe for a grilled watermelon salad.

Helpful Tips Make a World of Difference
Grilling Vegan Style


John Schlimm is not just your average cookbook author. He adds many helpful tips to make grilling easier, better and more flavorful. My favorite trick, learned from Schlimm, is to soak potato fries in hot water before grilling them. That gives the fries that crispy outside.

He includes a whole chapter on marinade recipes. Not only are they delicious, but he offers timelines to help you. How long to marinate different veggies, fruits and other yummy treats, like tempeh and tofu.

As my world starts to gain warmer days, I'm grilling more and more outside. And my go to cookbook, not only for new recipes, but new ideas as well has become Grilling Vegan Style. Frankly, I'm not sure I would have been so successful from the beginning without it. May you have as much fun grilling as I do.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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