Warming Soup w/ White Beans & Pasta

Where did the sun go?  The weather changed considerably yesterday afternoon and it suddenly went from sunny and warm to cool, overcast, and threatening to rain!  Well, bring it on, says I!  I love me some great autumnal weather!  Rain?  Oh yeah.  That’s soup weather! 

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I was feeling cold and hungry and whipped this up for dinner last night.  If you find yourself in the same boat tonight, try it out!  It’s pretty easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s cooked in one pot!  Um, I think I’ve mentioned my love for things cooked in one pot before, right?  😉

This soup really reminded me of minestrone.  With a side salad and piece of garlic toast I was a happy camper!  Nick, on the other hand isn’t such a big soup fan and fought the urge to request something more “filling” for dinner.  However, once he tucked in found that this was exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the dinner time hungers!  So, I present to you, Warming Soup – Vegan – With White Beans + Pasta!

Ingredients:

1/2 White Onion, finely diced

4 Large Cloves Garlic, finely minced

1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots

1 Can Crushed Tomatoes

4-5 Cups Veggie Stock

1 Can White Beans

2-3 TBS Olive Oil

3-4 Servings of Dried Pasta (I used penne, but you could use any other type you have on hand)

1/2 TBS Dried Basil

1/2 TBS Dried Oregano

1 tsp. Dried Thyme

1 tsp. Dried Parsley

1/4 tsp. Dried Rosemary

1/4 tsp. (or less) Red Pepper Flake

Salt & Pepper (to taste–I added what felt like quite a bit to get it tasting just right.)

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Directions:

In a large pot, saute onion and carrot in olive oil until softened.  Add garlic and saute a minute or two longer.  Add veggie stock, seasonings, and pasta.  Stir, cover, and return to a slow simmer.  Cook until pasta is starting to soften, about 6 minutes or so.  Add tomatoes and beans, cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so.  Taste your soup to make sure it doesn’t need any additional seasonings. 

And that’s it!  Easy, right?  Right.

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I’m going to enjoy the leftovers today for lunch!  What are some of your favorite rainy weather dinners?  🙂 

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Vegan Almond Joy Recipe Review + General Me Stuff

Hi guys!

Have you ever just had one of those moments where you are so grateful to just be alive?  Where the colors seem more vibrant, the sun feels like it’s hugging you, and you really feel connected to everything?  Sounds strange, but I had one of those moments today.  Everything was calm, beautiful, pure, and I was…present.  Not thinking about Kickstarter, or the business, or who I might need to get in touch with for a project; not thinking about my dog, or the piece of mail I forgot to send; no.  No thoughts. And no, I wasn’t on anything, either.  🙂

It was pretty awesome.  I’m honestly not even sure what triggered it–I guess I just got out of my car to have lunch with my dad today and was in that state of mind.  Anyway, lunch with dad was fun, and insightful, as per usual.  I was explaining to him that I struggle to be a hardass with our clients.  My preference is to be fair with everyone, and not see them from the place of, “What can I take you for?  What can I get out of you?” and rather, “What can I contribute here?  What can we create, together?”  I don’t like having to manipulate or play politics. I don’t like negotiations and I don’t like having to “sell” people on a design.  The longer I do this job, the more I realize everyone wants to play designer, but rarely anyone has taste, and because it’s all so subjective, people think their 2 cents matter when it really shouldn’t.  It just shouldn’t.  Trust the people you hire to deliver.  End rant.

My dad’s thoughts? “Well, that’s business.”

I’m seriously beginning to wonder if this business stuff is for me.  I feel I can’t trust anyone; that they are just working me (us) and I fall right into their trap. Every. Time.  Then I just get pissed off that we got taken advantage of, or could have negotiated a better price for our work.  I get anxious many times during the day when I have to “deal” with a client, over something simple.  I’m really beginning to think I really just suck at business and this has shaken my confidence to the core.  I can’t even make a simple email happen without considerable thought now.

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer.  I just wish it were easier!  And that, to have the success I’d like to have, I don’t have to morph into a sneaky, raging a-hole.

Okay.  ….phew.  That’s a lot.  Let’s move on, shall we?

RECIPE TIME!  YES.  Best. Part. of. the. Day!

http://realfoodrealdeals.com/2013/09/21/almond-joy-truffles/

Found this totally yummy recipe for Vegan Almond Joy Truffles on a sweet little site called “Real Food.  Real Deals.” and I said, “Hell yeah, I wanna make THAT!”  So I did.  Photo!

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I give this recipe a solid 8.5 out of 10. (*note: reasons for point deductions have been clarified and the directions were not unclear.  I’m just an idiot, apparently. lol)

What I loved:

1.  5 ingredients.  (Winning!)

2.  Healthy ingredients.  (Woot.)

3.  Quick & Easy to make.  (Heck yeah.)

4.  Tasted great.  (Oh yeah, you know it!)

Why I deducted 1.5 points:

1.  Unclear directions.  Is the chocolate supposed to be melted?  The recipe doesn’t say.  I thought that for the sake of it be a truffle, the chocolate should be melted.  It’s only logical, right?  These kinds of things need to be clear for the idiots, like me.  I really dislike having to guess and potentially waste food.  If I had just added in the chocolate chips, not melted, it wouldn’t have turned out.  So, I’m sorry, but this whole chocolate issue cost ya one whole point, just for the stress on me and having to think.  I don’t want to have to think about a simple recipe.  No.  Do I LOOK like I want to think?  (If you could see my face, the clear answer would be, “No, you don’t want to think, Jessica.”)

*Update* So, you can just leave the chocolate unmelted.  The recipe is clear enough–I guess it just didn’t make sense in my little brain.  Hope you can forgive me, Real Deals Real Food!

2.  1/2 point was lost because these didn’t have the full, wow you in the mouth taste of a traditional, non-vegan almond joy.  They were good, don’t get me wrong!  And I fully suggest you all go out and make these!  Just be aware.  If you are thinking they are going to just like almond joys, don’t be fooled.  They are almond joy inspired.  But, that’s good enough for me!  I was just expecting it to be a little more similar to one of my favorite candies of all time.

3.  Last but not least, a little note.  I added just a touch of vanilla extract and a touch of almond extract.  It seemed like it was needed.  You don’t have to add it, and I don’t think it really made a difference in the price of rice in China, but it is something to consider if you agree with me on this point of view, which is: “If you are baking something, it should probably have vanilla in it, somehow.”

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These would make great little tea party treats or even dessert appetizers.  Um, I don’t know about this last photo.  Seemed like a good idea at the time!

Anyway, they are a nice little treat and I may have been to hard on ’em, so please know, I do give them a solid two thumbs up–make ’em.  They are pretty delightful–just make sure you melt your chocolate. 😉

Note:  Or don’t melt the chocolate.  🙂  As the original recipe intended.  But if you DO melt the chocolate, they come out dang tasty!

A Long-y but a Good-y

Guys.  Today’s post might get a little long.  I have two recipe reviews to share, a strange encounter (of the human kind), and other general ramblings and musings.

I’m going to jump right in with the recipe reviews!  Yay!

First Recipe Review:  Walnut Date Cookies

So, first up is a quick and easy walnut date cookie recipe that Poppy’s Patisserie shared yesterday.  I just about fell out of my chair when I saw it because I was craving something sweet, healthy-ish, and quick to make.  (Yay for instant gratification!)  The second I saw this recipe, I literally ran upstairs to the kitchen (from the office downstairs where I’ve been kickstarter campaigning) and made them.  YES.  Cookies fo’ life!

Here’s the link to Poppy’s post:

http://bunnykitchen.com/2013/09/23/fast-and-delicious-cookies/

And here’s the link to the original that includes the recipe for these tasty cookies:

http://kineticheart.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/fast-and-delicious-cookies/

Okay.  I *think* that takes care of any moral/ethical/legal issues with sharing & reviewing, right?  (If not, please let me know and I’ll fix it straight away, okay?)

Now for the photo!

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I’m going to give this recipe overall a solid 9.5 out of 10.  Extra points were awarded (in my opinion) for:

1.  The lack of white sugar & flour in the ingredient list (gluten-free, haaaay!)

2.  Ease to make (throw in a Quisenart, then bake).

3.  Limited ingredient list (that you are most likely to have in your pantry).

4.  Smelled GREAT while baking.

5.  Tasted GREAT while EATING.  Which, if you ask me, is THE most important little detail.  😉

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Chewy & melt-y are great qualities in a cookie, if you ask me!

Notes:  Now, I didn’t use medjool dates as the stores around here have been oddly OUT of them, so I’m not sure what kind I used.  I deducted 1/2 a point because the cookies were just a tad on the oily side and they could have been a little teensy tiny bit sweeter (my sweet tooth, I guess, is less of a tooth and more sized like a Mammoth tusk? ha!) but I’m think that perhaps the right kind of dates would make a difference here.  The only change I made was in the use of the chocolate chips.  The original recipe featured one lovely, large, chocolate chip, placed front and center on the cookies and I used a few small ones, just sprinkled on top.

I’m excited to use this recipe formula to make other nut + date cookie combos.  Next on my list will be to try this is almonds, as the original recipe creator, Kineticheart made mention of this in their post.

Overall, two thumbs up–great recipe, please try it!

Second Recipe Review – Buffalo Chickpea Mac ‘n’ Cheese

This recipe from a vegan blog I only just discovered called Vegan Yack Attack for Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  If you guessed that I discovered this recipe whilst trolling for something to make for dinner, you would be CORRECT!  Now, I’m going to tell you all that since going vegan, there have been a number of flavors/tastes I have been missing.  A good Mac N’ Cheese and buffalo sauced anything are on that list.  When I came across this recipe, it was like a little light went off; the angles trumpeted and the skies parted!  When I read the ingredient list I realized that this was something I could totally make, too!Here is the link to the original post:

http://veganyackattack.com/2013/09/19/buffalo-chickpea-mac-n-cheese/

I am going to tell you that I did make some modifications to this recipe.

1.  I made my own buffalo sauce as I didn’t have any.  Vegans beware, but the majority of buffalo sauce recipes I found had butter in them!  I never knew!

2.  I made my ranch recipe because it is easier and I can’t tell the difference between it and the non-vegan kind.

3.  I didn’t have any salad fixin’s (I had to hit the store and my fridge was running low!) so I made it without the lettuce.

4.  I used Daiya cheese shreds instead of “Cheddar Teese”.

PHOTO:

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I’m going to give this recipe a solid 9.5 out of 10.  I awarded it points for:

1.  Quick and easy to make.

2.  Even though my pantry and fridge was near empty, I had these ingredients, including the stuff to make the buffalo sauce!  Yay!

3.  Exciting and amazing flavor profile.  My taste buds were thrilled!

4.  Satisfying.  Totally satisfying.  The mac ‘n’ cheese was creamy and didn’t taste “vegan.”

5.  Felt great after eating this–if I had eaten a non-vegan version, I would have been lethargic and my tummy would have hurt.  No negative side effects after eating this, however!

I did deduct a half point here because it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world.  But honestly, if you can’t enjoy the food you eat, then what’s the point of cooking?  I especially loved the buffalo flavored roasted chickpeas with the hint of ranch on them.  They were crunchy and spicy and on their own would make a great snack. It is nice to be able to mix it up once in a while and make something that is a wee bit sinful, but still vegan!  Hey, I made cauliflower and broccoli to go with it, so that counts for something good, right?  😉  (Just ignore the vegan ranch I put on top of it!)

Overall, total recipe success on this one!  It is crave-worthy.  I’ll be making this again, soon!!

Notes:  Here is my vegan buffalo sauce recipe!

3 Tbs Vegan Butter

1/2 Cup Hot Sauce (I used Rooster Sauce aka Sriracha)

1/4 tsp Salt (taste to see if it needs)

1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tsp White Vinegar

Several shakes of onion powder and garlic powder

If you like it SPICY you can add chili powder, but I felt it didn’t need any more spice, so I left it out.

Directions:  Melt vegan butter together with rest of ingredients.  Apply lavishly over anything that needs it.  🙂

Human Encounter Story

Okay,  I *think* I may have already mentioned this, but I basically needed to go to the store, because if you haven’t caught on, I was dang near out of everything! lol

While at Trader Joe’s, a woman who I’ve never seen or met before leans over to me and says, “That’s a pretty skirt!”  I say, “Thank you!” and proceed to reach for some Medjool dates, and say, “Oh my gosh, they finally have these back!”  She looks at the dates, then says, “What ARE those?  I mean, no one likes how those things look, they are so strange.”  I proceed to tell her that I use them in baking, often times as a sugar replacement.  She looks puzzled, then starts to tell me that what she really needs is some really nice, ripe fruit.  Her man loves fruit and all he has at home is a can of peaches.  But the prices at Trader Joe’s were too expensive, she says.  I say, “Well, the strawberries look good…” She then starts to wanders off to go see, and I say encouragingly, “Well, good luck finding great fruit for your guy!”  She then looks over the row of grapefruit and says to me, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” I say, without skipping a beat, “Yes, I do!  Thank you! Do you know he loves you?”  She says, “Yes, I know he does!  I feel it every day.”  I reply, “Good, I’m so glad!”  Only then do I notice she has crosses on her earrings.  She smiled, wandered on, and so did I, pursuing avocados.

I’m not religious.  At. All.  I’m not eve sure where my words came from.  They flowed, naturally, and I didn’t even think about it.  Honestly, I’m not sure what I find more surprising, her random shout out to Jesus, or my response.  I found the encounter to be so odd I had to share on here.

I really enjoyed doing the recipe reviews as I struggle to sometimes to create new recipes on my own.  So, I think this might become a standard part of the blog!  I have my eye on making some vegan Almond Joy truffles… I can feel my Mammoth tush sized sweet tooth getting activated!  🙂

Friday Means The Weekend is Here! + Banana & Peanut Butter Yummies

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Happy Friday everyone!  What do you make when you want something sweet, semi-healthy, that is easy and quick to make?  Banana Yummies of course.  Well, I don’t know what else to call them, so you figure out the name.  I’ll just give you the recipe and directions!  Sure, this isn’t super original, but they are very tasty, so….here ya go.

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I also love the limited number of ingredients this recipe calls for!

Ingredients:

1 Banana (or more, depending on how many people you want to share the yummies with.  I find that if I make too much of a good thing, I eat too much of a good thing, and well, you guessed it!  It isn’t such a good thing in the end!  And by end, I mean MY end!) lol)

Peanut Butter &/or Almond Butter (I wasn’t sure which would be tastier, so I did half and half!  More on this to follow!)

4 TBS Chocolate Chips (I like the Enjoy Life brand, they are vegan, but if you aren’t vegan, use what you have around the house.)

1/2 Tsp. Coconut Oil (optional.  Makes the chocolate nice, smooth, and more melty.)

Directions:

1.  Slice up your bananas.  Lay slices on a small plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Note:  I thought I was being all fancy to slice them diagonally.  I do NOT recommend doing this!  Had I thought about it better, I would have realized that trying to line up the tops with the bottoms down the road to make them sandwiched would be tricky.  Then, getting them all coated with chocolate would also be hard!  Boo!  Anyway, make them nice, coin shaped, about a 1/4 inch thick or so.

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2.  Put a little dollop of either peanut butter or almond butter in the center or 1/2 the slices.

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3.  Next, turn them into little sandwiches!

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See what I mean about how they don’t line up nicely?  Coin shaped, people!  Coin shaped! lol

4.  Put the little banana sammies in the freezer for about 10 minutes while you prep and melt your chocolate.

5.  Place the coconut oil in a small pan or pot.  Using medium low heat, melt the coconut oil.  Then add the chocolate chips and stir until the mix is nice and smooth.  Careful, vegan chocolate melts kinda funny sometimes!  It can burn much faster than regular chocolate.

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6.  Place semi-frozen banana sammies on a fork, then spoon chocolate all over them until they are completely covered.  Then place back on the wax paper.  Once all sammies have been covered in chocolate, put them back in the freezer.

7.  Let freeze for about an hour.  Eat, enjoy, share, eat…. 🙂

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Almond Butter vs Peanut Butter!  Which tasted better, you might ask?  BOTH were equally AMAZING.  I’d suggest try making both and have a taste test like we did around here.  Nick and I couldn’t decide which was better.  If you make ’em and have a preference, I’d love to know!

Next order of business:  KICKSTARTER UPDATE.  Well, I have SIX backers!  Um, yes, they are all friends and family.  So, at least I know who I’m giving a kidney to should they ever need one! 😉  I’m starting to get a little nervous that people may not “get” my idea, or something.  On my Kickstarter stats, people watch my entire video only 20% of the time!  Guys.  Watch the FULL video.  There are outtakes and they are funny; certainly worth sticking around for!

27 days left on Kickstarter!  Ah!  Okay, here is the link again, in case y’all missed it.

And here is the facbook page for Modern Pirate Quarterly!  Go “like” it!  You know you do! 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/Modernpiratequarterly?ref=hl

Last but not least, people, have a great Friday!