Friday, July 21, 2017

Easy Vegetable Soup with Beans and Pasta

Summer might not be the time where people think "hey, I'll make a piping hot soup!" but let's face it, it's an easy, clean and delicious meal that takes next to no time to prepare. We're fans of soup any time of the year even in the Summer because we are busy people. It just works. And this soup has been our go-to for YEARS. We are still making it and adapting it each time by adding in a bay leaf or changing the type of beans or shape of pasta. 

Start to finish, this soup takes about 40 minutes. We have yet to ever prepare one of those 30 minute meals in 30 minutes. This is as close to a 30 minute meal as we can get. Maybe we are slow or maybe we tend to overcook our veggies but that's how we like it. Cook this for a long as you'd like or as short as you'd like. Just make sure you give it enough time to let the flavours meld.

Easy Vegetable Soup (vegan, gluten-free option)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely (use less is you don't love garlic like we do)
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped small
3 carrots, chopped small
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning
bay leaf, optional
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1 can romano beans (or any type of beans you like!)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup of pasta of your choosing (use GF, if desired/required)
nutritional yeast or Parma, for topping
more freshly cracked black pepper, for topping

1. In a large pot over medium heat add the oil, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, Heramare (bay leaf, if you want) and salt and pepper and cook until just soft. 
2. Add tomatoes, stock, beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Remove bay leaf (if used).
3. Add the pasta and cook for another 8-10 min until the pasta is al dente. 
4. Top with more freshly cracked black pepper, nooch or Parma! to make it extra delicious.

I would hope someone out there in the universe understands our love for fun-shaped pasta but this was a box of Catelli Bistro Rainbow pasta made us extra excited. It was perfect for this soup and tiny enough so you could get a few pasta on your spoon. Alphabet pasta are also awesome, no matter your age. Who doesn't like looking for the letters to spell their own name in their bowl of soup?!

We love Parma! especially the Garlicky Green variety though the Original is also awesome. We just love garlic and this is quite garlicky. We purchased it at the Toronto Vegetarian Festival in 2016 but have since repurchased at our local health food store Nature's Emporium in Newmarket, ON.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Roasted Veg Sandwich with Romesco Spread

Just a head's up this is probably going to be a downer post.

This sandwich is delicious and amazing and one of the best that we've ever made, so if my rantings make you feel down at least you have a nice sandwich to make afterwards.

I don't usually "go deep" with my blog posts, but I just feel like being honest with how I feel (even if I feel embarrassed after posting this). Lately, I've been in a funk. Nothing really appeals to me and everything makes me feel bad. I don't feel like doing anything but I hate not doing anything. I haven't even felt like cooking or baking, yet store-bought food turns my stomach. I like listening to music as a distraction but I can't even find any music that I enjoy listening to lately. I'm sure a big part of it has to do with the fact that I'm still dealing with the loss of our second mom/Nannie a.k.a grandmother last year (who I miss SO much) as well as the dramatic progression of our grandad's dementia, which are big things, but I don't want to feel this way. And feeling this way makes me feel like I'm wasting precious time and taking advantage of the life I've been given. It's a negative cycle that isn't helped by this super dreary, rainy summer. I don't even know if I'm accomplishing anything by writing this down. Do you ever feel like there's a rain cloud hovering above your head? What do you do to make it go away?  

I should probably make this sandwich again. It was delicious, after all. 

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich 
with Romesco Spread
adapted from Isa Does It

for the veggies:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
4 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 sweet potatoes, sliced thinly -  use a mandolin if you have one
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
handful of baby spinach

for romesco spread:
3/4 cup sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 roasted red peppers, chopped - we used ones from a jar but you can always roast your own
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread out the veg in a single layer and brush each side with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven.

After 12 minutes of roasting you should flip the sweet potatoes because they'll need less time where they're thinner. Roast everything for another 12 minutes then flip the zucchini and eggplant and remove the sweet potatoes if they look golden/browned and feel soft. Put the eggplant and zucchini back into the oven for another 10-12 minutes, until the veggies are brown and soft. 

Preheat a large pan over medium-low heat and spread the almonds out in a single layer. Toss until brown and fragrant - 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a blender and pulse until little bits. 

Add the garlic and pulse. Then add the roasted red peppers, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, salt, and puree until everything is blended. It doesn't have to be completely smooth. You'll have to scrape down the sides every now and then while blending. You may also have to add water if things get stuck. If so, add a tablespoon at a time. Keep refrigerated until the sammies are ready to go. 

We used ciabatta buns for our sandwiches and pressed them in the panini press to warm 'em up first. But you can use whatever buns you like and do whatever you like with them. Spread some romesco on the buns then add the veggies and the spinach. 

We hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 3, 2017

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert {Review}

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert

Did you miss us? We hate that we've been away for so long but we have a backlog of delicious treats to share with you. We've been doing a lot of cooking and a little baking, too. But today, we have for you a product review! Yay! New things! President's Choice just brought out a new dairy-free ice cream and it is gooooooood. It's designated as vegetarian but the ingredients don't have any animals products, whatsoever. 

It's been the first hot day in a long time so we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy this cool, creamy and sweet vegan frozen treat. The other awesome thing about this is the price point. We paid $3.99 CAD at No Frills. We are used to paying $7+ for vegan frozen desserts (aka vegan ice creams) so to see such an affordable option is really great.  

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert

PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert is so soft and smooth. After only leaving it out of the freezer for 5 minutes, it's very easy to scoop. Our first impressions are that it's very chocolatey with a very slight coconut flavour. It's not overpowering at all if you're not a huge coconut fan. Comparing PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert to the So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert, this is a lot smoother, more chocolatey and much creamier. It's so great to see companies like Loblaws producing vegan options. This is an excellent product that is well-executed and I think we are going to be enjoying it a lot this Summer. We aren't sure if it will take the place of our beloved So Delicious Cashew Milk Dark Chocolate Truffle but it's a close second and much cheaper. 

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

This is where we found the President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert in No Frills. $3.99 regular price! We haven't seen a ton of advertisement for this product so it will probably go on sale soon to generate some interest. It's definitely worth trying if you like chocolate ice cream. There are some other flavours: Mango and Coconut. I am sure we will try those soon too but we are gushing about the Chocolate flavour so we wanted to share that with all of our lovely readers. 

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

Ingredient list for those of you wondering about what exactly is in the PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert. You can see the Vegetarian symbol on the packaging (I don't think President's Choice has a Vegan symbol). The ingredients are: coconut milk, sugar, water, cocoa, tapioca maltodextrin, dextrose, palm mono- and diglycerides, carob bean gum, guar gum, sea salt.

President's Choice Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Chocolate Frozen Dessert vegan

It's not a super dark colour and more along the lines of a milk chocolate rather than the darkness of the So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate dessert. The Kitchen Grrrls give this a big thumbs up! Canada never seems to get cool or exciting products (and if we do, it's months or years after our neighbours to the South get them) so this is an exciting day haha.

More information about the PC Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert is available here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Vegan Rocky Road Cookies

February has come and gone and so has the Valentine's chocolate.

While February might be the month of love and chocolate. That applies to all months in my opinion. Anytime, all time, I want chocolate.

Love is important, too.

These cookies are perfectly chocolate-y! They're also crispy, chewy, and basically the perfect cookie. This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but we've never really successfully baked a cookie that's crispy and chewy and spreads when baking. Usually our cookies just sit there on the baking sheet and don't do anything. How we plop the dough on the baking sheet is exactly how they come out. It's frustrating. It boggles the mind, haha. But, alas! We've finally done it!

Unfortunately, white chocolate chips are near impossible to find around town without paying through the teeth, so we added marshmallows instead and no complaints from me! These seem more rocky road-like with marshmallows to me.

I love me a rocky road bar, so how could I resist a rocky road cookie? These are just scrumptious I tell ya! Do yourself a favour and bake these babies up for friends, loves, and yourself!

Vegan Rocky Road Cookies
adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips, mini or not
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 - 3/4 cup vegan marshmallows, mini ones or large ones quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine milk, ground chia seeds, oil, sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl. Blend until smooth.

Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until a thick dough forms. 

Fold in chocolate chips, almond slivers and marshmallows.

Scoop two tbsp of dough per cookie onto the baking sheets. Make sure to leave a a space of about two inches between the soon-to-be cookies.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. 

Transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Caitlin's Vice: Loukoumades from Athen Pasteries Toronto

For years I have been obsessed with these little magical honey balls aka loukoumades. I used to eat them in my pre-vegan days but found out (via @veganonearth on Instagram) that they're actually vegan! No honey! So, naturally, I have been eating my weight in loukoumades. No shame. 

If you are looking for a super sweet topped-with-cinnamon gooey deep fried treat then head to Athens Pasteries at 509 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1P5.

Go get yourself some!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Planta Disappointment...I mean review

Sooo... I finally tried Planta last night. It's one of the newer plant-based restaurants in Toronto. I'm pretty disappointed with the meal I had, the Habibi Salad Bowl. Let me say, there was a lot more salad than I expected considering the description doesn't even mention a bed of leafy greens, let alone a whole bowl full of them.

Here's the description of my dish according to the website:
cauliflower cous-cous, split pea fritters, lentils, parsley, mint, coriander, currants, sumac, za'atar, tahini dressing

For the roughly two hours I was at Planta I felt like a cow in a field chewing on grass. I could barely engage in conversation while I had this huge pile of greens to consume with an abysmally scarce amount of cauliflower cous-cous sprinkled in the bowl. To be honest, my meal felt like a big joke. If I had wanted to eat an entire package of spring mix, I could have bought a package at the grocery store for much less money. And not paid $17 plus tax and a tip.

What added insult to injury was when I looked at a Toronto Life review of the restaurant only to see my dish featured with a photograph....

Toronto Life photo
Compare that to the photo I took of my meal last night. Let me reiterate that this is the same dish...

My photo. Spot the difference!

I'm not sure if the difference between the two has to do with the fact that I'm somewhat young looking or that I don't work for Toronto Life, but I'm not happy either way. If you're running low on cous-cous, ya know what, just let me know and I'll order something else. If you don't want to expend your resources on me because you don't think I'm be a big spender, shame on you.

While I enjoyed the evening with friends, I don't think I'll be returning to Planta anytime soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Change your perspective, change your life!

 While, yes, this motto can be applied to this recipe (somehow presenting a chocolate chip cookie in bar form makes it seem like a completely new and exciting dessert), I think it has even greater impact when applied to life in general.

I think it's particularly needed lately.

If only all of the xenophobic, racist, sexist, classist, white supremacist people in the world would take a moment to change their perspective, we would be on our way to a better world.

This recipe won't change the world, but maybe it can put a little smile on your face knowing it comes with a special message of love and peace...and because it tastes good.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
adapted from B. Britnell

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
sprinkle of salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup almond butter
3/4 peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened original almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 in glass baking dish. Line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl beat together to vanilla, butters, and sugar. Until light and fluffy. Stir in the milk.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix the ingredients together until it all starts to stick together.

Add the chocolate chips and mix until evenly incorporated.

Pack into the baking dish. Sprinkle some more chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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