Thursday, October 27, 2011

Juice Cleanse!

I realize that I have not updated this blog in quite a while, and I apologize, but I really want to share my juice cleanse experience (and recipes) with you.  Recently, a group of my coworkers embarked on a cleanse that I, being vegan, wouldn't have benefitted much from.  Dismayed, I looked elsewhere for a cleanse that spoke to me.  And, weirdly, my answer came in the form of a Groupon the next morning: JUICE CLEANSE.

The problem?  The price.  Even on markdown, I couldn't fathom paying $100 (normally $180) for SIX juices.  And that price is for ONE day.  You're supposed to do the cleanse for 5 days!  No thank-you.

Dismayed once again, I decided to research these cleanses.  Why were people willing to fork over $30/juice for 5 days?  What magic was stirred into these colorful bottles?  I looked into the top three cleanses: the local Catalyst Cleanse, the popular BluePrintCleanse, and the celebrity Cooler Cleanse.  From there, I combined what I learned and created my own cleanse.  This is what I came up with:


Basically, you drink 6 juices/ day.  Two are essential green juices, one is an essential red juice, one is the ever-popular spicy lemonade (aka Master Cleanse), one is a cashew milk, and the last.... varied.  I loved the idea of having #4 be a choice, so as to not fall into a boring routine.  In between the juices, you drink plenty of fresh water.  Decaf tea is allowed, as well.  What isn't allowed?  EVERYTHING ELSE.  

So, without further nonsense, here are the juice recipes.  Skip to the bottom if you want to see if I am surviving.

Juice #1 & #5: Essential Green


I get bored easily, so I decided to have two options for my green juice.  However, I have found that it is easier to just make one big batch in the AM.  The flavors all go really well together, and you'll thank me once you're cleaning your juicer over and over and over.

Green #1:
- Huge handful of kale (I use about three handfuls)
- 1 cucumber
- 4 stalks celery
- 2 green apples
- 1/2 lemon
- some ginger root (about an inch-sized piece)

Green #2:
- Handful of kale
- 1 cucumber
- handful spinach
- half handful parsley
- 2 apples (I've been using Honeycrisp)
- 1/2 lemon 
- some ginger root (about an inch-sized piece)

For both of these recipes, just juice everything together! :)

Juice #2: Spicy Lemonade


I guarantee that you've heard of this one.  It's referred to as the Lemonade Diet or the Master Cleanse.  I totally hopped on that bandwagon and drank just this for three days one Summer.  But!  It is an amazing drink: yummy and so powerfully good for you.  

Spicy Lemonade:
- Juice from one lemon
- 1 tbsp (or less) agave nectar
- shakes of cayenne (as much as you can handle)
- water

For this juice, simply juice a lemon and combine with the other ingredients in a glass.

Juice #3: Essential Red


Red:
- 1 to 2 beets
- 4 carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 apple
- 1/2 lemon and/or inch-sized piece of ginger to taste


Juice.

Juice #4: Choice


Choice can mean anything from another green, another red, or a fruit juice.  If you're new to cleansing (or veganism or raw foodism), go for a fruit drink.  If you're vegan, raw, and/or have done this before, go for another green or red.  If you're bored, go for something different.  Three simple and delicious recipes that I love for this option (keep it simple!):

#1: Grapefruit Mojito:
- 1 red or pink grapefruit
- 1 lime
- 5-7 mint leaves
Optional:
agave nectar to taste

#2: Pineapple Mint:
- 1-2 cups fresh pineapple (depending on if you add or don't add one apple)
Optional: 1 apple
- ginger (very small piece)
- mint (about 5 leaves)

#3: Watermelon Mojito:
- 2 cups watermelon
- 1 lime
- 5-7 mint leaves
Optional:
agave nectar to taste

For these juices, blend everything together in a blender and enjoy!  For the grapefruit juice, juice the grapefruit and lime with a citrus juicer before blending with mint.  Same goes for any lime in the recipes.

#6: Cashew Milk


Yum.  If you don't love it, add some frozen banana pieces and blend again.  This is your reward, enjoy it.

Cashew Milk:
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 tbsp agave nectar (or less)
- 1 tsp vanilla (bean if you're rich, extract if you're not.  Obviously the bean is better.. but.. let's get real)
- Shakes cinnamon
- 1-2 cups water (to taste) 


For this one, soak the cashews for as long as possible beforehand.  An hour is great.  Then, blend everything together in a blender and enjoy.  You made it through the day!

 

So, how am I doing?
I'm currently on day four, two juices in.  I have to say... it's awesome.  
A) I've noticeably lost weight (!!), 
B) I'm full ALL DAY, 
C) The juices are delicious.  No joke.  My favorite is actually the green!
D) Everything cost me roughly $70-80, and I'm going to have a bunch of greens left over.

The negatives?
A) No coffee.  I'm normally a 4 cup/ day girl.  AH!
B) I'm really annoying at work, because I have to excuse myself to use the restroom QUITE a bit.
C) I'm dreaming about food.  Literally.  Whether it's dreaming about cheating and eating, or just food.. it's happening.
D) My brain is driving me crazy.  I never realized how mental eating is!  I'm full all day, yet I'm constantly dying to eat.  Dying to chew, crunch, and snack.  I couldn't possibly fit anything else into my stomach... but I totally would if I could.  All I can think about is bagels, burritos, tortilla chips and guacamole.....

Curious?  Give it a try!  Let me know how you do! :)

**Update!  I finished the cleanse, and loved it.  It really wasn't hard, I swear.  I can't believe how easily I got through the day on less than one cup of coffee!  I was always full, but it was nice to eat brunch the next morning!  My skin glowed, I looked noticeably skinnier, didn't crave sweets (amazing), and will absolutely be adding these juices to my normal routine.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The February Daring Bakers' Challenge

Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen was the host for February's Daring Bakers' Challenge (can I quickly mention that I do, indeed, have a sofa in my kitchen? Best idea ever if you don't have one!).  The challenge was actually a two-in-one: Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies.  I loved this challenge because I have never had either of them previously, and they were both super easy to veganize.  I did my research, and a few options to replace the gelatin exist.  I decided to go with agar-agar (super expensive, but totally does the trick).  Here's what I came up with:

(Vegan) Panna Cotta with Mango Compote and Florentine Cookies




Ingredients:

For the Panna Cotta:
- 3/4 can light coconut milk
- 1 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons agar-agar (I used the flakes)

For the Mango Compote:
- 2 1/2 mangoes
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Juice from 3 limes
- Juice from 1 large lemon

For the Florentine Cookies:
(I used the recipe from Daring Bakers, but changed a few things)
- 2/3 cup vegan butter
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup AP flour
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Dash salt
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup mixture
(3/4 molasses, 1/4 light corn syrup)*
* you can also use 1/4 cup dark brown corn syrup, but I wasn't looking to buy this

Method:
For the Panna Cotta:
1. Grab a medium-sized saucepan, and add the coconut milk, sugar, and agar-agar.  Let it sit for a minute before bringing to a simmer.  
2. Reduce heat, and simmer (stirring constantly) for 10-15 minutes.  You're looking to dissolve the agar-agar here.  It won't completely disappear, but you'll see a difference. 
3.  Remove from heat, and immediately wisk in yogurt and vanilla.  Wisk more!
4.  Pour into glasses or fancy ramekins, cover, and place in 'fridge.

For the Mango Compote:
1. Peel mangoes and gather all of the lovely chunks in a bowl.
2. Throw chunks in a food processor for a few seconds and pulse: you don't want to liquify the mangoes (although, you totally can and it'll be delicious), just make them into teeny pieces.
3. Meanwhile, heat the water, sugar, and juice in a small saucepan.  Wisk until the sugar dissolves.
4. Transfer the mangoes to a deep bowl before macerating with the hot, sugary liquid.

For the Florentine Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  
2. Grab a medium-sized saucepan and melt the butter.  As soon as it melts, turn off the heat.
3. Throw in your oats, sugar, flour, molasses and corn syrup mixture, almond milk, vanilla, and salt.
4. Mix!
5. Drop a spoonful onto a Silipat (or throw down some parchment paper), leaving plenty of room for each to spread a good inch-and-a-half around.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
7. Let the cookies cool while you melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan.
8. Once cooled, match up each cookie to one that seems to match.  Spread melted chocolate on the inside of one, and marry them.  Or, drizzle the chocolate on top!

Assembly!
Panna Cotta can be a assembled in two ways: in a pretty glass, or unmolded.  I did both because, well, it's more fun!  If you choose to layer your panna cotta and compote in a glass, be sure to refrigerate for a few minutes after adding each layer.  If unmolding, you'll have to use a paring knife to cut around the edges.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gossip Worthy Monday!!!

Sort of.  It's only me this time, but tonight is the second-to-last episode until the show goes on hiatus.  AGAIN.  Of course, that means a lovely dinner for one.  And a cocktail, of course.

This recipe is actually from Alex Guarnaschelli from the Food Network.  I saw this on an episode of her show, and put it in my recipe box for a special occasion.  Seems like the perfect fit.

(Vegan) Farfalle Pasta with Beet Vinaigrette and Parsley Pesto


I'm going to copy and paste her recipe, but if you'd like to see it on Food Network's site, click here!  I omitted the parmesan cheese because this recipe really doesn't need it, but feel free to use vegan parm if you'd like!

Ingredients:

For the Parsley Pesto:

  • - Kosher salt
  • - 2 cups fresh curly parsley leaves
  • - 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • - 1/2 cup olive oil
  • - 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts

Beet Vinaigrette:

  • - 5 medium beets, thoroughly scrubbed and quartered (reserve and finely slice beet greens, if attached)
  • - 2 cups water
  • - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • - 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta:

  • - 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • - Kosher salt
  • - 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • - 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (*optional)

Method:

1. For the parsley pesto: Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the kosher salt until the water tastes like seawater and stir to blend. Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately plunge leaves into an ice bath and allow to cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the leaves slightly and then put them in the blender with the sugar and olive oil. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add some water to facilitate blending. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the scallions and set aside in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta.
2. For the beet vinaigrette: Put the beet pieces in a medium saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Allow it to reduce until there is about 1/4 cup liquid. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and reduce again until you have only 1/4 cup left. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar and olive oil.
3. For the pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt; the pasta water should taste like seawater. Add the pasta to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until al dente (chewy but not hard or raw tasting) 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some pasta cooking liquid in case you need it later.
4. To serve: Pour the pasta into the bowl with the parsley pesto. Add the beet vinaigrette and butter and toss to blend. Add the Parmesan and finely sliced beet greens, if using. Serve immediately. Alternatively, you can drizzle the red beet vinaigrette over the pasta for a different color effect.

Enjoy!  Blair and Dan better NOT get together....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

I made these for my 2nd grade class!

The rose is from one of my students:)
The recipe for these mini- golden vanilla cupcakes and decadent buttercream icing is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  If you don't have this book, GET IT!  The recipe is super simple and always comes out perfect.  All I did to make them my own was: add some red food coloring, red and pink sanding sugar, one (mini!) chocolate chip each, and one of those cliche candy hearts.  Of course, I didn't realize that those little guys they aren't vegan!  I read the bag during class (I gave out the extras at the end of the day)- what a bummer!  I didn't eat any because I remember them tasting like nothing.... but still!  Fail!

Some of the raving reviews:
"Miss Amandah, these are the most delicious ever."
"These are so good, can we have them every day?"
"YUM!" (mouth full of cupcake)

S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S Salsa

I'm still crushed that my Steelers lost the Superbowl.  They're still the best team in the NFL, though, and the best team deserves the best salsa.  I served this up with some other black and yellow snacks, some classy beers, and my easy party favorites.

(Vegan) S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S Salsa

Ingredients:
- Two mangoes
- One large can black beans
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- One avocado
- Handful fresh cilantro
- One jalopeno pepper
- Juice of one lime
- Generous shakes of sea salt and pepper
- One bag of yellow corn tortilla chips, and one bag of blue (the dark ones look black!)

Method:
This recipe makes a ton of salsa, and it takes better if you make it a little ahead of time.
1. Get chopping!  And dicing... and slicing... and mincing.  I made this FAST, so try to do a little better at making stuff the same size.  Chop your mango and red onion, mince that garlic and jalopeno, and go to town on your cilantro.  Toss it all in a bowl and set aside.
2.  Add the beans to the bowl and mix well.
3. Chop your avocado, and stir it into the salsa.  Hopefully you have one that's nice and ripe, so it kind of disappears into coat-y goodness.
4. Squeeze or pour on the lime juice, sprinkle on the salt and pepper, and mix well!
5.  Cover and refrigerate.  When it's gametime, break out those BLACK AND YELLOW tortilla chips!

GO STEELERS!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I've never had a quesadilla... until now.

Yesterday was me & my boyfriend's 3-year Anniversary (cue the "awwwws") and we went to this cute tapas place where you pay way too much for (very delicious) drinks, sit in swinging chairs, and eat food so small that you buy snacks at the drugstore on the way home (we went with Oreos and Lays, possibly the best combination of snack foods in existence).  Anyway, he got this amazing-looking (non-vegan) quesadilla, and I realized that I've never had one!  So, this is what I made for dinner tonight:

(Vegan) BBQ Seitan Quesadillas with Spicy Avocado Cream


Ingredients:
- 4 Organic, Red Chile Tortillas
- 1 Package Seitan
1 Package Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
1 Jar Organic Salsa (I used Whole Foods Tequila Lime!)
4 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite- but totally try Black Angus Dark BBQ)
2 Avocados
1 Cup Vegan Sour Cream 
1/2 Cup Vegan Cream
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
Juice of 1/2 lime
A few shakes of Sea Salt
  
Method:
Start with the spicy avocado cream, as it will need to chill.  This recipe makes a lot, so feel free to halve!  I just LOVE it, so I make extra for sandwiches.
- Peel & pit avocados, and cut into chunks.  Toss them + the sour cream, creamer, sriracha, lime juice, and sea salt into a food processor or blender.  Blend to smooth.  Cover and place in the 'fridge to chill.
- Cook the seitan!  Be sure to rinse before using, and break into small pieces.  Warm a wok over medium-high heat, and throw in 2 tablespoons oil.  Once it starts to smoke, toss in half of the seitan and toss to coat.  Cover completely with BBQ sauce, and continue to stir.  You'll get a nice char on it, and it should only take about 4 minutes to cook.  Repeat with the rest of the seitan, and set aside.
- Warm a skillet over medium heat, and use a very small amount of oil on the pan.  Toss on one tortilla, and cover with 1/3 of the seitan, 2 heaping spoonfuls of salsa, and a sprinkle of Daiya.  Throw another tortilla on top, and cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Repeat with the rest of the stuff!
- Serve with the avocado cream.  Mmmmm:)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Daring Bakers: Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet

January's Daring Baker's Challenge was created by Astheroshe, and is something I had (past tense!)  absolutely no idea about.  Basically, it's an almond sponge cake with baked-in design on the cake.  It's fancy and French (it's named after the Mona Lisa), and is usually baked into multiple, very thin layers or filled with mousse or cream.  My original plan was to make the multiple thin layers, butttt I ran out of batter.... so I filled mine with pastry cream (others chose mousse, which I wish I would have done).  It was quite a task (the recipe provided required roughly 8,000 eggs), but I feel that it came out well.  I have a few changes for the next time I tackle this, though, which I'll mention at the end.  Here is my finished creation:

(Vegan) French Vanilla Chai Tea Entremet



Ingredients:
For the Joconde & Joconde Decor Paste*:
I based this recipe off of Vegan Vistor's L'Opera Cake, with just a few tweaks

- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
*for the paste, add 2 tablespoons cocoa to 1/2 cup joconde batter

For the French Vanilla Chai Tea Pastry Cream:

- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1/4 cup French Vanilla (vegan) creamer
- 4 French Vanilla herbal tea bags
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Dash salt
- A few shakes cinnamon and cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Fancy Tools Needed:
- A Silpat or other non-stick baking mat
- Piping supplies, whether they be "serious" or a plastic bag with a corner cut off

Method:
1. Start with your joconde, as it will need time to harden in the freezer.  Grab three bowls: add the dry ingredients to one, and stir to combine.
2. In the second bowl, wisk together the almond milk and vinegar.  Then, add to the dry mixture in batches.  Mix, but do not overmix!  It will look like pancake batter.
3. Steal about 1/2 cup batter and place it in the third bowl.  This is your makeshift decor paste that will be used to pipe your design.  Add the cocoa OR coloring of your choice, wisk, and set aside.
4. Place your Silpat on an ungreased baking sheet (and if you'll be doing an elaborate pattern, throw your design under the Silpat to trace, but remember to remove it before baking!).  Assemble whatever you'll be using to pipe, and fill the bag with your decor paste.



5. Pipe your design(s) on the Silpat, and toss in the freezer for 15-25 minutes (to harden).  Once this time passes, cover the design with the rest of the batter and throw back in the freezer.  This time for 30 minutes.
6. While your design freezes, make your pastry cream (or other filling)!  For mine, I warmed the milk in a saucepan over medium- heat, and steeped four bags of herbal tea.  Once the milk was flavored yum-fully, I added the sugar and salt.
7. Continue to stir while you add the flour and cornstarch + wisk to thicken.  Don't stop, or it'll stick!
8. Cover with wax paper (literally on the top of the cream, or it'll grow a lovely film!), and refrigerate.
9. Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
10. Bake your joconde for roughly 10 minutes.  It's done once it is golden brown in color, and the edges seem to come away from the mat.  Allow time for it to cool.
11. Once cooled, flip the baking sheet onto a powdered-sugar or floured (or non-stick) surface.  The design will be facing up.
12. Measure your springform pan.  Or, if you're lazy like me, guess how much you'll need to fill the outside ring of the mold, and cut parchment paper to fill the sides:

Photo courtesy of Astheroshe

13. Now, cut the cake into those measured-out sizes, and press the strip onto the edge of your pan.  You may also opt to cut out a circular bottom of cake:

Photo courtesy of Astheroshe

14. Fill with the pastry cream, and decorate!  I decided to make an extra "design" with my leftover decor paste to make it look fancier, and sifted some confectioners sugar + cocoa over the top.

Oh, and if you choose a smaller cake like I did, you'll have plenty of extra (super yummy) cake to dip in your coffee:



So, what would I change?

1. I would be sure to really, really grind down my almonds.  I loved the little bits I left in, BUT! it made it impossible to pipe.  I ended up actually busting the bag I was using, and had to settle for squiggles from a spoon instead of the fun, elaborate design I had originally envisioned.

2. I would make a light mousse filling.  Don't get me wrong, this pastry cream is great.  However, something about the two together is a little heavy and awkward for me.  I think the cream would be better for a crostada or maybe a beignet, while a light mousse would really make this dessert.  An espresso one would be AMAZING.

3. I would not use clumpy confectioners sugar to top it!  LAZY!