Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Pie!!

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

I've never been a fan of cheesecake or creme brûlée. Frankly, something about the intense dairy tasted like snot to me. I think I was always a natural vegan who never knew it. However, several months ago I sampled some vegan cheesecake at Karyn's Cooked and really liked it's comforting consistency.  I remembered that my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone had a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake with cranberry topping on the Kind Life and suddenly I had to make it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Cranberries from The Kind Life via The Vegetarian Times.
  • 2 cup(s) of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cup(s) of sugar substitute (either maple syrup or agave nectar, whichever you prefer)
  • Pre-made organic vegan graham-cracker crust (for ease)
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt

  • 12 ounce(s) of silken tofu

  • 8 ounce(s) of vegan cream cheese

  • 3/4 Whole Foods Organic Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1/4 cup(s) of agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon

  1. Prick each cranberry several times with straight pin.

  2. Bring sugar substitute and water to boil over medium heat.

  3. Cook until sugar reaches 230 F on candy thermometer.

  4. Add cranberries, and cook ten minutes or until syrup gels a bit.

  5. Remove berries with slotted spoon and lay out on plate.
  6. Save in refrigerator for adding to top of cheesecake later.

  7. Process crackers and salt into fine crumbs in food processor.
  8. Puree all ingredients in food processor until very smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

  9. Pour into crust and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes.

  10. Chill completely in refrigerator at least 3 hours, up to overnight.

  11. Garnish with candied cranberries, slice and serve.

  Nothing says gorgeous like fresh cranberries in my vintage marigold Tupperware!
The silken tofu made this so creamy and dreamy. It's such a wonderful ingredient for baking, sauces, and soup!!
The filling poured into the crust so beautifully!
It baked up so nicely. What perfect pumpkin-y golden color!
The finished product. It has a celestial glow about it, because this pie is HEAVENLY!
No doubt that I really loved this! The cranberry topping's tart and strong sweetness complimented the mild pumpkin filling so well. I will definitely make it again and would like to experiment with different fruit compotes on top. I think blackberry would be so incredible! I opted to put the topping on each piece as it was eaten rather than layer the whole pie with it. Mr. BB30 isn't a cranberry lover so he opted to eat his cranberry-free. For the record, he is also a traditional cheesecake lover and found this to be really delicious. Huzzah!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chestnut Soup or Daphne Oz Is My Hero

By chance I came upon a commercial for The Chew (aka What Replaced Erica Kane and My Friends in Pine Valley) and heard two magical words: CHESTNUT SOUP. Being from the swamps of East Texas I do not have any experience with chestnuts (roasting on an open fire or otherwise), so something sounded so magical and intriguing about this. Whilst on my weekly shopping trip to the produce store I spotted a big beautiful bin of fresh chestnuts. The food gods were speaking...

This is pretty simple simple to make and vegan substitutions were easy and minimal (just a swap for butter and milk using Earth Balance and Almond Milk). The hardest part about this is peeling the boiled chestnuts.

Recipe can be found here:
Daphne Oz's Chestnut Soup

Fresh chestnuts!
 When you boil and peel them, they look like this. The consistency is similar to a firm baked potato.
Cook up your herbs and veggies, deglaze, and add your broth and milk. Puree and voila!!
I skipped the cheesecloth/straining step. I was able to puree my soup finely enough that it didn't matter. 

This soup was the consistency of a potato soup. Really smooth and creamy with a lovely savory and nutty kick. It was so wintery and hearty and the flavor was new and exciting! Daphne Oz, I love you for bringing this into my life!

What new tastes have tickled you palette lately?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Souper Sunday: The Mother of All Carrot Gingers

Firstly, I went with The Fat Free Vegan's Eggplant Spread to use up my eggplants last week. It was a delight. I used her round 2 method of adding in chickpeas for protein. Such a great spread.

Secondly: Oh weekend, nothing can somewhat ease my insurmountable Sunday Blues like soup making. I love the thrill of searching the produce market for the day's awesome deal to reveal what veggie will be the star of my pot. I love chopping and peeling. I love the smell of onions and garlic cooking and all it's promise for a delightful, cozy meal. This week I have created one of my favorite batches of soup yet. I'm calling it The Mother of All Carrot Gingers.

It all started with a score on THREE pounds of carrots (purchased for a mere 99 cents total)........
....and chopped 'em up!
Look at that color!
Truly if you want a super easy veggie soup of any kind, all you really need to do is blend a vegetable, broth, salt/pepper. However, we know that this isn't how I roll. I wanted more depth of flavor! 

The Mother of All Carrot Gingers:
3lbs Carrots, chopped
1 large onion (I used Spanish), chopped
1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped (yellow would work too)
1/4 large sweet potato, pre cooked, chopped
1 large palm full of dill
1/4 palm full cinnamon
1/4 palm full fennel seed
1/2 palm full curry powder
1/2 palm full cumin
1/2 inch fresh grated ginger
4 cups veggie broth
2 cups water
1 Tbsp Earth Balance
3 giant garlic cloves (or six regular), grated

In a large stock pot, melt the Earth Balance and toss in your carrots. Stir and get your carrots coated.
(you may want to add a little splash of water)
Add your dill and let the carrots and dill have some alone time (approx 5 minutes)
Add onion and bell pepper
When onion is translucent add the sweet potato and seasonings
Add broth and water
Bring to a boil
Add ginger and garlic
Turned to low and simmer for 20 minutes 
Bust out the immersion blender and blend until your desired smooth consistency.

Not kidding about the giant garlic:
Look at that color!!
This is one of my favorite creations yet! The flavor is so layered and rich and the "next day" factor is off the charts! The bell pepper really makes a difference, and the fennel adds such a nice subtle licorice note! This would be such a "WOW" starter for your Thanksgiving table,  a great lunch on T-Day if you're waiting for a big dinner, or fabulous on Black Friday with a Leftovers Sandwich.

In my Thanksgiving news, Mama BB30 is taking on the challenge of creating some vegan dishes for me (even cookies!) It's so heart warming when people want to try their hand at kind cooking. I will definitely give a report!

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 11, 2011


Thanks to another awesome deal at my produce store, I recently acquired two large eggplants for only 99 cents. Yep. Awesome. Then what happens every time I buy eggplant happened, I wasn't using them. I can't stand to waste veggies, so I knew I needed to act! I've baked up those bad boys and now they are waiting for me in the fridge. I turned to one of my favorite recipe inspiration sites for help: Fat Free Vegan She did not disappoint with options.

Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

Curried Eggplant Soup

Eggplant Spread

Crockpot Eggplant and Tomato Stew

The Stew seems just like one of my own creations, so I know that one will be comforting and delightful. I am going to a play opening tonight, so dinner needs to be on the quick and easy side. The Eggplant Spread on a tortilla sounds awesome!!! I'm pretty sure it needs to grace my palette this very night!!
What are your favorite eggplant recipes?

Today in gratitude I am thankful for the wonderful dinner Mr. BB30 cooked for me last night. He has been making dinner for me on Thursdays and it's such a treat. Italian Stuffed Red Peppers anyone? So good. He incorporated tofu into his filling and used fennel seeds to give it a sausagey flavor for me. Yum!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


As an impatient person, one of the many wonderful things about this whole Internet thing is how easily we can get information. I love being able to look up most anything with a couple of clicks!

"Hmmm, I wonder if this restaurant's sandwich bread is vegan friendly?"
"Hmmm, I wonder how far it is to walk from my apartment to Wrigley Field?"
"Hmmm, I wonder what kind of yoga class would be good for me?"
"I have a cough, I wonder how many days I have left to live?" :)

There is a calculator, quiz, app, or web page devoted to everything, but it can be overwhelming.

One of my favorite go-to calculator sites is here at It's such a great source for, well, everything health, body, and soul. I try to shy away from calorie counting these days, but when I really needed help to jump start my journey I really enjoyed using
Are you a heavy online calculator user? What are your faves, any awesome ones I need to know about?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Delayed Vegas Recap

So, I am back from Vegas. Food options were tricky and my aversion to throwing away my money and wearing fanny packs and/or tight cheap polyester doesn't mesh well with The Strip (I anticipated as much). I took my smaller, less fancy camera and can't find the cord, so uploading pictures is delayed for now. Frown.

Teaser: I did see a certain show starring a certain former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner!

This week in workouts:
Monday: 500 Calorie workout
Tuesday: Strength Boxing
Thursday: Cardio Soaked

Friday, November 4, 2011

Let There Be Chili

As an autumn storm rolled in on Sunday, I decided that vegetable chili should be the star of Souper Sunday.

As you know, with me a lot of the fun of cooking is playing and not having a set recipe. Every soup I make will always be a little different. I love that.

Here is what happened on Sunday:

Haunted Veggie Chili
1/4 large jalapeno, finely chopped
3 giant garlic cloves (or six small), grated
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon*
2 palm fulls of cumin
1 palm full of chili powder
2 large zucchini
1c frozen corn kernels
2c cooked pinto beans* (mine were al dente)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes w/ garlic (juice included)
1 can tomato sauce
2 can fulls of water* (use your tomato sauce can)

In a large pot sautee all of your veggies (except the beans) until onions start to turn translucent.
Add seasoning and let the flavors marry
Add add fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water
Bring to a boil
Add beans
turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes

Eat it as-is or ladle it over brown rice, whole wheat elbow noodles, or  your grain of choice.
Taste=good, Picture= bad

Re: Cinnamon- This is the "haunted" part of the recipe. My Ground Cinnamon and Ground Cumin are the same brand and in identical containers. With all of those "c's" and "m's" and "grounds" it was bound to happen that I accidentally grabbed the wrong one and threw cinnamon into my pot. I scooped out the majority of it, but estimate that approx 1/4 teaspoon remained. This added a slightly sweet note in the background of the chili (aka "haunting" the chili) which is actually quite good. Needless to say, cinnamon is optional.

Re: Beans- I had cooked a bag of dry pinto beans last week and had oodles on hand, but you can use whatever bean (or mix of beans) you like. My pinto beans were slightly undercooked and finished cooking in the pot, so if you are using canned beans you may want to wait until simmer time to add them.

Re: Water- If you want a thicker chili, try using only one can of water.


Last week I opted out of Wednesday Strength Yoga. I was tired mentally and physically. I'm so glad I listened to my instincts, because the next day in my cardio class I felt like I had so much more strength and endurance. Rest on weeknights is important!

This week only left time for two workouts since I am traveling to Vegas and had a date with my wee nephew. While I hope to visit the fitness center at the hotel, I am not committing to anything!! It is a vacation after all.

Monday: 500 Calorie Workout
Tuesday: Strength Boxing followed by Abs and Butt Blast

Happy November!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Susan's 100 Best Ever Health Tips

Recently, while googling about I discovered Susan's 100 Best Ever Health Tips. I thought it was a wonderful list of good things to do for yourself and I thought I would share.

I really like almost all of these, but here are some of my favorites:

#3 Work on your emotional health – it is just as important if not more so, than your physical health

#14 Do less, live more – we are not here on earth to become more and more efficient

#23 Breathe deeply as often as you can

#25 Think more about what you can ADD to your diet first rather than focusing on what you want to take
away – this will minimize feelings of deprivation

#30 Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce

#38 Use your food as medicine

#43 Eat as much junk food as you like as long as you make it yourself

#84 For women, spending time with other women releases the stress-reducing oxytocin

I love that breathing is mentioned a few different times throughout the list. I would definitely add Create a mediation practice to the list.

What would you add?

I did not stay for Abs and Butt Blast yesterday. I think that despite my vitamin and zinc lozenge intake as well as living a healthy lifestyle in general, I cannot fight the jerks that come to work sick or people who insist on riding crowded trains whilst riddled with the plague. I'm feeling a little achy and sniffley and I knew pushing myself too hard would back fire and my upcoming trip to Vegas would be ruined. No thank you!! This girl needs some fun!