Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Football BBQ Chili Fries

Whether I like it our not, our TV is perpetually stuck on NFL every single Sunday starting at the beginning of September every year.  With the Seahawks playing, we were feeling a little festive, so naturally, I cooked!

BBQ Chili Fries

6 large potatoes
Coconut Oil Spray (Trader Joe's has a good one!)
Johnny's Seasoning Salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Use a fry slicers or a sharp knife chop the potatoes into strips or a Jo Jo style.  Lay out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and spray a light coat of coconut oil over the fries.  Sprinkle with seasoning salt and paprika.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.  Remove and set aside.  

*For Garlic Fries, add some chopped fresh Garlic and a sprinkling of chopped Parsley.

6 Cups of dry beans (mixed types)
6 Cans of beans, drained and rinsed (save some sodium by rinsing!)
2 Cups BBQ sauce
2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
Freshly chopped Garlic
1 Bunch Green Onions, rinsed & chopped
Soy Cheddar cheese

Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water.  Pour in dry beans and allow to soak overnight.  When you are ready to begin your chili, turn the pot on medium heat and bring the beans and water to a slow boil.  Add the BBQ sauce, water, ketchup, chili powder and garlic powder and allow to continue cooking.  When it has began to thicken,  turn down the heat to medium-low.  Serve over fries.  Top with green onions and soy cheddar cheese.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Biscuits & Gravy

Jake and I fixed this yummy autumn classic for dinner last Tuesday.  He's a huge fan, while I simply tolerate biscuits & gravy, but it turned out pleasantly delicious!  The biscuits are basic, down-home baking powder biscuits with a creamy delectable vegan gravy.  Yum yum!

Classic Baking Powder Biscuits
3 Cups Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter (or another vegan butter substitute)
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

Preheat the over to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer!), mix all of the ingredients except the flour.  Slowly add the flour in last, making sure it is all mixed in.  Scoop out with a cookie scoop or shape by hand and drop onto a greased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with a bit of flour and put in the oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes, check and add a few more minutes if necessary.  Take out when they split and dry on top and allow them to cool.

Creamy Vegan Gravy
3 1/3 Cups of Plain Soymilk  (The PLAIN part is very important...I've made that mistake with Vanilla, yuck)
4 Tofurkey brand Italian Sausages
1/4 Grapeseed oil
2 fresh Garlic cloves, minced
Sprinkling of Salt
1/2 Cup cornstarch
1/8 Cup cold water
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 teaspoon Sage
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 Tablespoon Curry

In a saucepan on low-medium heat, add the soy milk, oil, garlic and allow to start to simmer.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch and pour into the simmering saucepan.  Turn up to medium heat.  The gravy should begin to thicken and puff up.  If it starts to boil over, turn it down so it doesn't burn.  Slice the Italian sausages into bite size pieces and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  When they are done add them to the gravy.  Stir periodically and begin adding the seasonings.  Taste test once in a while and add more flavor depending on your personal taste.  When it is thickened and tasty, place on low until serving.  Make sure to stir once in a while so it doesn't burn.

Serve over the top of your delicious baking powder biscuits!

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Miso Soup...Insomniac-Style

This particular soup is packed with nutrients, protein and is SO EASY.

2 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Tablespoons Rice Miso
1 cup water
1/3 of a pack of extra firm tofu, cubed
1 sheet of Nori, shredded
handful of shelled sunflower seeds

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Serve hot!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Coffee Beverage

So I am rather depressed that this year I cannot partake in the annual tradition that is the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Especially since part of my job is managing two Starbucks stores.  For a drink that screams "Fall is HERE!", I love everything about this drink.  The smell, the creaminess, the pumpkiny love.


But alas, the pumpkin sauce contains milk, so it's outcast to the land of non-vegan foods.

The same way that my BF Jake obsesses over pumpkin scones (though I rarely...ok, never...make these), I obsess over pumpkin.  For me it's right up there with my obsession for chocolate, rice cream, brownies and anything even remotely near the Chinese food category.  It's weird I know, but you'll get over it.  For a warm toasty pumpkin beverage in the wholly vegan genre...try this sweet delight.

*Just for the record, you are able to make this recipe COMPLETELY organic if you pay attention to the soy milk and canned pumpkin you buy.  Say no to GMO! :)

2 Cups Soy or Almond Milk
1/4 Cup canned Pumpkin Puree (Not Pumpkin pie the can for goodness sake)
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkling of Cinnamon
Sprinkling of Sugar
2 shots of espresso (if you're lucky enough to own one of those fancy dancy machines)
2 Tablespoons of instant coffee (trust me, buy the expensive kind)
1 Starbucks Anniversary blend VIA packet (if you haven't tried these...they're amazing.)
1 cinnamon stick
Standard Kitchen Thermometer

In a sauce pan, slowly heat up your soy or almond milk over medium heat.  Stir frequently so it doesn't burn...that would be no bueno.  As your milk gets up into the 150 degree range (use your thermometer), you can start stirring in the 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree.  As it begins to smooth out and blend, sprinkle your seasonings and add your vanilla, instant coffee or VIA packet.  Stir until it has reached a comfortable 170 degrees and serve with a cinnamon stick while still hot!

*Feel free to add more or less pumpkin to your recipe depending on your tastes.  YUM YUM!

Enjoy! Happy Fall :)


Monday, September 23, 2013

Lazy Day Sweet & Spicy Soup

1 large can pineapple, chunked
2 bar mixer sized cans of pineapple juice
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 block extra firm tofu, chunked
2 single stalk of celery, rinsed & chopped
4 Tablespoons hot sauce
Sprinkling of Trader Joe's sweetened Nori crumbles (in the snack sections!)

In a large saucepan mix, pineapple, pineapple juice, garlic, water, tofu, celery and set to medium-high heat until it comes to light boil.  Add hot sauce and crumbles.  When celery is tender and cooked through, serve hot.


Asian Plum Sauce; Guest Blogger: Laurie Neal

It is hard to resist a rich Asian Plum sauce-it is easy to resist a plum sauce with a whole truckload of ingredients one can't pronounce.  Summer is here and fresh fruit is plentiful.  It is a wonderful time to make one's own plum sauce to enjoy on those soon to arrive winter nights.  Now, I, unlike the Happy Insomniac, am not vegan but she can jump in and add ideas for vegan dishes using the Plum sauce below.

About two years ago, I discovered a wonderful book, "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 400 delicious and creative recipes for today".  Edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.  Copyright 2006.
In this book is a plethora of recipes for using fruit in ways other than the traditional canned fruit and jam.  I have such delicacies as "Bruschetta in a Jar" and "Orange Rhubarb Chutney" on my shelf using this great resource.

It is important to remember when canning, follow the directions closely and only make batches in the size called out.  Don't double or triple recipes, don't change the amounts of ingredients unless the recipe says you can change or substitute. These recipes are calculated to produce a product in a canned jar that is food safe i.e. will not make anyone very sick from consuming it. Make single recipes in multiple pots!

Freezing does not carry all the same safety issues as canning but not everything freezes well.  Luckily for us, Plum Sauce does!  So every August I gather my fragrant purple plums from the tree and cook it into the following sauce:

Plum Sauce 
makes about 4 pints
  • 2 cups of lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded green chili pepper, such as Anaheim, New Mexico green chili, poblano or jalapeno.
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped gingerroot
  • 10 cups finely chopped pitted plums (finely chopped, careful not to puree)

1. In a large stainless steel saucepan combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vinegar, onion, chili pepper, mustards seeds, salt, garlic and ginerroot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Add plums and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 1-3/4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.

3. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) head-space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space, if necessary, by adding hot sauce. Wipe rim and Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

If any of this info on canning sounds like a foreign language - find this book, it is also a great textbook for learning canning.  Also, Google the USDA Home Canning guide online - another great resource, I have had my paper version for 20 years.  I check the online version every year for updates.

For freezing - pour sauce no deeper than 2 inches into a container.  Place in the refrigerator uncovered and allow it to cool. When cool, place in freezer containers in a batch size you will use, like 1 cup or 2 cups.  Put the lid on and place in the freezer. Try to use within 3 or 4 months for best flavor.

Now I use my plum sauce to cook ribs or pork roast but for the vegans and vegetarians in the crowd -? *Coming Soon! <3thehappyinsomniac*

Cheese Maker's Daughter Update: Yup, I'm still Vegan...But I love my Mother.

So the cheese stands alone.  Well, unless you count our recent photo shoot in which didn't.  It had friends from the garden, fresh grapes, pears and other tasty, hop-based beverages, all delicious and all showcasing my mother's love for all things garden-y and all from HER garden.  And I got a black thumb how?

Laurel's Crown has officially become a "Thing", with a captial "T", now that it has a Facebook, a soon to be finished website and a semi-trailer that it will soon call home in the middle of a Othello Dairy field after it's impending remodel.  Yay!  

More pictures coming soon from the photo shoot, it was fun!  Taken mostly on an antique produce scale and featuring the cheeses soon to be dawning to Laurel's Crown official label including "Othello", this is very exciting!

To follow Laurel's Crown & my mother's "cheesy" adventures,  visit their official Facebook page HERE!

Cheese list coming soon...and maybe even a wine pairing list or two!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet Sunday

I have always had a sweet tooth.  It's got me in trouble, especially when managing my neverending battle of maintaining a healthy weight.  Since adopting veganism however, having to closly monitor what I'm eating and using as fuel has seriously put a damper on the random sugar buzzes when I hit the grocery store.  My favorite things ever are bakery items and it has become somewhat more difficult to find.

Being an advocate for local small businesses, I always look for delicious vegan options that are locally run by Spokanites just trying to make they're living by doing what they love.  Is there seriously anything better than someone loving their job when so many others don't?  Nope.  Don't think so.

Petit Chat
9910 N Waikiki Rd 
Spokane, WA 99218
(509) 468-2720

Our first favorite that we visited for pretty much the first two years of our Sunday Sweets tradition, we would gather up in the car, drive all the way the North Spokane about three blocks from the beautiful Whitworth College campus and visit the elegant, Petit Chat Village Bakery.  This cute, French style bistro is one of my favorite bakeries for their naturally vegan bread (especially their Swedish Breakfast Bread!). My dear friend, Elyse, introduced me to "the chat" about 4 years ago and how far they've come!  Recently expanding from their little compact bakery shop into a full scale seating area, huge pastry display and extra room for all the bread and goodies.

If you are in the Whitworth part of town, make sure you go by Petit Chat.  Great homemade pastries, breads and espresso fresh made everyday.  Also, if you get there soon enough, day-olds are half off!  My freezer gets stocked up every time I go, so I can have delicious, homemade bread everyday of the week.

Dawn of the Doughnut
3402 N Division St
SpokaneWA 99207
Located in the newly renovated Papa Murphy's building on lower Division, this unique zombie themed shop focuses on tasty doughnuts of all favors, vanilla, chocolate, weird and wacky.  With a variety of crazy doughnut recipes and equally fun names, any zombie lover or horror movie fanatic will love this place.  My step-son, Chris, who is 7 gets extra excited that the entire staff is dressed up as zombies as part of their regular work uniform.  And, the owner looks like Sally right out of the Nightmare Before Christmas, which is pretty freakin' cool.  Visit the drive-thru or head inside where EVERYTHING is dripping with "blood" complete with bloody hand prints all over the ceiling.  It's so original for Spokane and delicious.  Really delicious.  

Support Local Vegan-Friendly Businesses!  

Happy Sunday!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Apple Cider Water

Since the thought of drinking actual apple cider practically puts me in a sugar coma, I found this recipe online that actually sounded ok.

1 mug of steaming hot water
2 slices of apple
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon agave syrup or rice syrup

*Maybe add an apple tea bag too? For an extra flavor kick?

Combine and let seep for 5 minutes.

Yum. Fall.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Perfect Fall Appetizer

Baked squash is the perfect, easy prep appetizer. Tasty!

Squash, sliced
Coconut oil spray
Seasoning salt

Sliced, spray and sprinkle...then bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall Tofu Soup

4 large carrots, chopped
4 large stalks celery, chopped
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
1 cup barley or rice
4 tablespoons veggie soup base concentrate (jar form!)
10 cups water
Salt to taste

Boil water, throw everything in an allow to cook for 30 minutes.


<3 The Happy Insomniac