Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you remember “Soft Batch” chocolate chip cookies from back in the day? My Mom always had cookies on hand for dessert. I absolutely loved when she started buying the soft batch chocolate chip cookies.  The texture was the perfect balance between a cookie and raw dough. I recently saw a recipe on Pintrest for Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to make a vegan version, because they looked so much like my beloved “Soft Batch” cookies. The recipe was very easy to veganize and the resulting vegan mini chocolate chip cookies are fantastic.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

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Vegan Chex Mix Methodology

One of my favorite things about high school was the access to vending machines.  My mom fed us healthy food at home and packed our lunch every day.  When I arrived at high school and realized I had access to vending machines anytime I was hungry I was in heaven. I loved to buy a Diet Coke and Chex Mix for my morning snack. In retrospect I can’t imagine why I was so damn tired by lunch, but hey I didn’t know any better. Now that I do know better I like to recreate healthier versions of my old favorites.  I came up with a basic Vegan Chex Mix recipe that I like to use with whatever cereal, snacks or nuts I have on hand.

Vegan Chex Mix Bowl

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Mini Vegan Pancakes perfect for sleepovers

What about parties and sleepovers?  How and what to serve non-vegan children that come into your vegan house can be a concern.  No one wants to be the parent where kids don’t want to come over because of the “weird” food. Vegan and plant-based food can seem very strange for children who aren’t accustomed to it.  My solution is to serve kids foods they are already familiar with.  That includes things like muffins, fruit, veggies & hummus, rice & beans, or PB&J.  None of those foods seem unusual and kids typically eat them with gusto. Last summer I saw a recipe from The Pioneer Woman for Mini Pancakes.  She cooked pancake batter in a mini muffin pan.  These mini muffins looked perfect for a breakfast post sleepover.  I decided to come up with a mini vegan pancake version.

Vegan Pancakes Labeled

My go to pancake recipe didn’t work all that well in the mini muffin pan.  I felt like it needed more of that “fluffy” texture that pancakes made with eggs have.  I veganized the Pioneer Woman’s pancake recipe and it was a success. Trey and his friend inhaled quite a few of these mini vegan pancakes after a sleepover.  They loved dipping them in little bowls of syrup.  I felt extra victorious since his friend is a picky eater.  With the mini pancakes and fruit I knew he had a decent breakfast to start his day.

Vegan Pancakes Pre Bake

When making this recipe be sure to let the batter sit for 10 minutes before scooping it into the muffin tins. That 10 minutes allows the ground chia to go to work.  The ground chia gives the pancakes a nice fluffy texture.  If you don’t want to see any specs of chia in your muffins use White Chia seeds.  You will see the chia seed specs in the batter, but not in the final product.

Vegan Pancakes Close

Feel free to add blueberries or chocolate chips to some of your mini vegan pancakes.  Trey prefers the plain version, but we have tried them with both blueberries and chocolate chips successfully.  You can also offer vegan whipped cream for dipping if you are looking for an even more decadent breakfast.  These keep well in the refrigerator for several days.  I warm them up in the toaster oven and then serve them to Trey with his breakfast smoothie during the week.

What is your favorite food to serve sleepover guests?

Mini Vegan Pancakes
 
Miniature vegan pancakes that are perfect for dipping into syrup or vegan whipped cream. A great breakfast for little hands to enjoy after a sleepover.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1.5 cups Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Chia Seed
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or Non-Dairy Butter of choice, Melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray or grease a mini muffin pan with a neutral oil (such as canola oil) and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set bowl aside.
  3. Stir together the almond or coconut milk and vinegar and let it sit for 1 minute. Whisk in chia, vanilla and melted Earth Balance.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth batter forms. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Fill the mini muffin tins ⅔ full with batter.
  6. Bake for 11 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let pancakes sit in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn them out of the pan. Use a knife around the edges to remove any muffins that are stuck in the pan.
  7. Serve with maple syrup and or vegan whipped cream for dipping.

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Vegan Quesadillas to save your meal plan

The vegan quesadilla has been saving my meal planning lately. I grew up with my mom planning out a week’s worth of meals and she made those meals each night as planned.  No food wasted, no questions asked.  I plan out my meals just the way she did, but inevitably something comes up 1-2 nights a week that throws the whole thing off.  I need at least one meal that is fast, easy and the whole family will eat.  The vegan quesadilla has become my savior.  I keep all of the ingredients on hand.  I add 1 “free” night to my meal plan where I don’t plan anything.  I know that I can make these if needed.  It is easy to customize to everyone’s preferences and is ready in less than 20 minutes.  I can also make them ahead if Trey has a game or a late practice.  He can inhale them in the car either before or after.

Vegan Quesadilla Group

Last night was definitely a vegan quesadilla night.  I was exhausted and everyone was starving.  The first thing I did was cook a package of Beyond Meat Feisty Crumble.  It adds a lot of flavor to the quesadillas and makes them hearty enough for Harrison.  While that was cooking I made black beans using the method for my Black Bean Tostadas. Last week I used the Pacific Foods Refried Black Beans I bought at Target for the quesadillas.  That is definitely the way to go since the whole idea is to make this meal easy and streamlined.  I’ll be stocking up on those for my pantry!

Vegan Quesadilla

Once the “beef” (or “meatish” as Trey calls Beyond Meat) was cooked and the beans were ready I started to assemble and cook.  I take flour tortillas from Trader Joe’s and spread each one with Earth Balance while I heat up my cast iron skillet.  Each of us likes different fillings.  Harrison’s started with a layer of black beans, then Papalote Salsa (available at Whole Foods), then Daiya cheddar shreds, the Beyond Meat and finally sliced avocado.  I cooked the quesadilla on the first side for 4-5 minutes and then flipped it over and cooked it for another 3 minutes until crisp.  Harrison likes his quesadillas topped with Tofutti sour cream and pickled jalapeños.

Vegan Quesadilla 2

I cooked Trey’s, decidedly more plain, quesadilla at the same time Harrison’s was cooking.  All Trey wanted in his quesadilla was black beans, salsa and cheese.  He did top his with sour cream and pickled jalapeños after we sat down.  The kid loves his spice!  He also loves to take these quesadillas to school for lunch.  I am a big fan of cooking lunch and dinner at the same time.

Vegan Quesadilla 3

I made my quesadilla on the panini press to save time.  That let all 3 of our quesadillas cook at the same time.  This panini move was a mistake though.  It makes the quesadillas too flat and gives them a weird texture.  I filled mine with beans, salsa, cheese and  sliced sweet potato that I had left over from earlier in the week.  Aside from my panini error the flavors were good.  Next time I’ll be adding the Beyond Meat to mine as well.

These quesadillas would be awesome for Cinco de Mayo next week…with margaritas of course!

Vegan Lasagna in a heat wave

My husband, Harrison, is baffled by the fact that I don’t check the weather regularly. He loves looking at the weather on his phone, watching storms come in on the doppler radar and even watching the Weather Channel.  I like to wake up, look outside and move on with the day.  I blame this on the fact that I grew up in Northern California and Harrison grew up in Seattle.  Our Bay Area weather just isn’t that exciting.  To me it is either raining or it’s not, no more data needed.  Every now in then my lack of interest in the weather comes back to bite me.  Wearing flip flops when it starts to rain an hour after I leave the house is a key problem.  The other issue is my decision to cook the wrong food for the weather.  Yesterday I planned to make a lasagna using my bolognese sauce.  Too bad it was 88 degrees out!  I ignored the weather and made a tasty vegan lasagna, but it was a sweaty endeavor that I wouldn’t choose to repeat.  Assuming it is below 80 degrees where you live try this vegan lasagna before the summertime weather kicks in!

Vegan Lasagna

This lasagna was very easy to put together as I used the “No Boil” lasagna noodles from Whole Foods, Vegan Bolognese I had in the freezer and an easy Truffled Cashew Cheese.   To start I sprayed a large 13×9 inch pan with canola oil.  (I used this lasagna pan)  I spread a cup of bolognese in the bottom of the pan and layered it with 4 of the No Boil noodles.

Vegan Lasagna Noodles

The only thing I had to make yesterday was the truffled cashew cheese from Dreena Burton.  Her recipe is fantastic and can be used for stuffed pastas like this or served as a spread for crackers and crudite.  I often bring it as a spread to parties and it always receives rave reviews.  I prepared the cheese quickly in my food processor and spread half of it on the first layer of noodles.

Vegan Lasagna with Truffled Cashew Cheese

On top of the cashew cheese I layered 1.5 cups of the bolognese.  Then I repeated the layers (noodles, remaining cashew cheese and another 1.5 cups of bolognese).  I added a final layer of noodles, the remaining sauce and topped the whole thing with 1.5 cups of Daiya mozzarella cheese.  I cooked the lasagna, covered in foil, in a 385 degree oven for 40 minutes.  After the initial cooking I took the foil off and bake it uncovered for another 10 minutes.  At that point I removed the lasagna from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Vegan Lasagna in pan

I served the lasagna topped with minced parsley and a green salad.  The dinner was a hit with both Harrison and Trey.  It will also make great leftovers during the week.  The actual baking took awhile, but it was very quick and simple to assemble on a weeknight.  If you make my vegan bolognese be sure to double the recipe and freeze half.  It is fabulous in this lasagna…just check the weather before you put it on your weekly meal plan!

Vegan Lasagna

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Quick Black Bean Tostadas

Quick meals are a staple of a busy life.  Even before Trey arrived I liked to have a few meals planned for the week that took less than 30 minutes to get on the table.  Once he arrived it felt like all meals needed to be quick!  Over the years I have built up my repertoire of quick vegan meals.  Which is a good thing because now that we have added sports practices and homework to our plate, weeknight meals have to be fast and easy.  I came across a recipe for tostadas in our newspaper awhile ago and decided that a veganized version would make a filling, flavorful and fast meal.  The tostadas start with a crispy tortilla spread with black beans and topped with a salad tossed with a refreshing lime dressing.

TostadaThe newspaper recipe showed me how to create the crispy tortilla base in the oven with just a little oil.  In my case I use canola oil spray.  Once you spray the tortillas with canola oil on the top they go in the oven for 12-15 minutes and come out nice and crispy.  Make sure they are very crispy when they come out of the oven.  They don’t get any crispier as they cool, so if they are a bit flexible when they come out of the oven they will not be completely crispy when it is time to serve.

TortillasWhile the tortillas bake I work on making the black bean base.  The base is a mix of canned black beans, salsa and a bit of water.  For this recipe I used the Hatch Valley Salsa from Trader Joe’s.  We are loving this salsa these days.  It is very spicy and I love that it is shelf stable.  I buy a few jars at a time and store them in the pantry.

TJ SalsaI take 1/2 cup of the salsa and add it to a small pan with a can of drained black beans and 1/4 cup of water. The beans cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Beans before cookingAfter cooking for 10 minutes the beans are very soft and the salsa has cooked down a bit.  At this point you can smash the beans down to whatever texture you like with a spatula or wooden spoon.  In my case I like them to have some texture, but be spreadable.  You will be spreading them on top of the crisp tortillas so you don’t want the individual beans rolling around.

Cooked BeansWhile the beans and tortilla are cooking you can get the salad ready.  I place thinly sliced romaine hearts, sliced onions and minced cilantro in a large bowl.  The dressing is just lime juice, olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper.

Salad ToppingOnce the salad is tossed it is time to assemble the tostada.  Spread the black beans on the crisp tortillas.  Top each tortilla with salad and sliced avocados.  Of course skip the avocado for anyone who is an avocado hater, like my son Trey.  We also top ours with Tabasco, vegan sour cream and pickled jalapenos.

Tostada DInner

What are your favorite family-friendly, quick weeknight meals?

Quick Black Bean Tostadas
 
A quick, weeknight meal full of flavor that your whole family will love. The crispy tortilla, warm black beans and fresh salad are a delicious combination.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 10 Corn Tortillas
  • ½ Tablespoon of Canola Oil or spray oil
  • 1 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Cup Salsa (use your favorite)
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 4 Cups sliced Romaine Hearts (or your favorite crisp lettuce)
  • ¼ Cup Sliced Onions
  • ¼ Cup Cilantro, minced
  • Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • Optional Toppings
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Vegan Sour Cream
  • Pickled Jalapenos
  • Hot Sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spread tortillas on 2 large baking sheets. Brush the top of each tortilla with olive oil (or spray the top with canola oil). Bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp.
  3. Add black beans, salsa, and water to a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes.
  4. While the beans and tortillas are cooking, assemble the salad. Start by making the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake it until they are well combined.
  5. Place the lettuce, onions, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add half to ¾ of the dressing and toss. Add more dressing according to how much dressing you like on your salad.
  6. After the beans have cooked for 10 minutes they should be very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and use a wooden spoon or spatula to smash the beans. Smash the beans until they reach a spreadable consistency, but still have some texture.
  7. To assemble the tostadas spread smashed black beans on a crispy tortilla. Top with salad. Add any additional toppings you are using on top of the salad. Serve.
Notes
Double the recipe for a larger family.

For leftovers double the beans, crisp tortillas and dressing. This makes a quick and easy lunch. All you will need to do is make the salad, warm the beans, and assemble.