Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

The time was Valentine's Day ... I was convinced I was going to make the kids healthy and delicious Valentine's Day treats. I bought a puffed brown rice cereal to use ... my treats did not work and now I had a bag of puffed rice cereal that no one will eat. Ugh!

Fast forward 3 months and the puffed brown rice cereal is still in my pantry. Time to use it. The stars must have been aligned because I was going to make a special trip to get some extra granola for breakfast this week when someone mentioned to me about making homemade granola. I'm not going to lie, I have made granola before and wasn't altogether pleased.

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

I found a recipe from Feasting on Fruit that looked delicious and fool-proof! My family loved coconut so I had to add in some so I could seamlessly switch our store-bought granola with the new stuff and no would would be the wiser!

We love it. I'm glad I initially made a big batch because it went fast! Now, I'm in the situation of having to buy brown rice cereal a lot ... I doesn't sit in my pantry anymore though. This has been a lifesaver snack on trips to school and all the errands that we run through the day and I need to eat something quick and healthy.

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Makes 6 1/2 cups

3 c rolled oats
1 c dried quinoa
2 c cup puffed brown rice cereal
1 1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
1 T chia or hemp seeds
1 t cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven for 375º.

Mix all ingredients together until everything is nicely coated.

Lay a baking sheet or parchment paper on the pan. Spread the granola mixture on the pan so it is about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake granola for 10 minutes and let completely cool before mixing it up ... you can have a little bite though! It crusts up and sets as it cools.

Place in an airtight container and enjoy ... over yogurt, fresh fruit, with milk or just start munching straight out of the container!

Easy Coconut Quinoa Granola Clusters

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chicotta! Vegan Ricotta Cheese (Dairy, Soy and Nut-Free)

A while back I made a spinach artichoke hummus for a party. It was very tasty, but in typical Ashley form, I made way too many appetizers for the party and I had a lot leftover... such a problem, right?! My mom always said, there's nothing that kills a party faster than running out of food or beer and you always have to listen to your mother!

That week after the party, I was turning all of the leftover dips into dinner entrees. I used the spinach artichoke hummus for a lasagna roll-up and poured marinara on top. It went over really well in the house and I kept telling myself that I need to do that again. Fast forward two months, my friend brings over a delicious lasagna this weekend and I've been devouring it since. You'd think I had my fill but I wanted more lasagna.

I wanted to see if I could just make a more simple ricotta blend like the hummus I used but a little lighter and fluffier (if that makes sense). As you may know, I try to  limit our soy intake so I didn't want to use any tofu. I have read a lot of vegan ricotta recipes that use cashews too. Well truth be told, I'm lazy and unorganized! Soaking the cashews for hours and remembering to do it the night before just isn't ideal for me. Also, it's just a personal preference, but I don't love the sweetness that cashews give to vegan cheeses (hence the potato and carrot Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce). So instead of cashews and remembering my hummus, I added a lot of artichokes to give it a salty yet fluffy texture than just hummus. And there you have it ... Dairy-Free, Nut-Free and Soy-Free Chickpea Ricotta ... Chicotta!

It worked out great in a lasagna, it tastes great as a dip and I even put it in a creamy pasta bake. Feel free to add some frozen spinach too ... get creative and have fun.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free

Vegan Ricotta

Makes 2 cups

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c nutritional yeast
1 T tahini
1 1/2 T lemon
1/2 t salt
1-15 oz can artichokes, drained and rinsed

In your food processor, mix everything except the artichokes until it is nice and smooth. Add olive oil if you need a smoother texture. Next, add in the artichokes and give it a few good turns. I do it so that there is still little tiny pieces of artichoke but nothing big.

Now, it's ready to use in your favorite lasagna, pasta bake or just pull out some chips and carrots and enjoy it as a dip!

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Nut-Free

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vegan Thai Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Can everything in life be easy? Seriously though! I feel like life has been a lot of work these days ... and by life, I mean feeding a family of six and try to have everyone happy (at least content) about dinner. Sounds impossible right? Yup, it is.

Then, like a full moon, a recipe comes along (in my case, usually by accident) that everyone loves dinner and it was super easy to make and even more importantly, to clean up!

Vegan Thai Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

To make a short story long, that is how Vegan Thai Meatballs came into our lives. The kids were getting whinny and I realized that dinner was just a short 20 minutes away and I had nothing prepped and no idea what I was making. I turned the oven on, grabbed a can of beans and then stared at an empty fridge. I hardly had any vegetables or anything fresh ... just a little bit of leftover chopped cilantro and asparagus. Ugh!

I went back to the pantry, grabbed the peanut butter and panko and figured I might as well make a burger. I quickly threw everything into a food processor, said a little prayer and braced myself for the crying that was sure to come when they realized they did not want to try new food.

Much to mine and Paul's surprise, they all loved it. I mean seriously ... it's peanut butter, which they love but is more reason for them to pretend they don't! Paul then asked, "What did you put in these?" That's when the real panic set in. I was in such a rush, I had no idea what the complete list of ingredients was, let alone amounts.

I made them the following week (of course, the kids didn't love them as much as the first time because, c'mon, they're kids!), but Paul and I still loved them and they were even better once I payed attention to what I was doing. Even though the kids go back and forth if they like these or not, I love how amazingly easy they are to make and how many meatballs it makes for the time I don't have to put into dinner. Leftovers are always great in my house!

Vegan Thai Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Vegan Thai Meatballs

Makes about 24

1 15-oz c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c tamari or Mrs. Braggs Amino Acids
1/4 cup cilantro
1 garlic clove
1 t minced ginger
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 c peanuts, roasted and salted
1/4 c chives, chopped
1/2 c panko (regular or gluten free)

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/3 c peanut butter
1/3 c tamari or Mrs. Braggs Amino Acids
2 T organic, unrefined coconut oil (add more oil if you want a thinner dip)
dash of red pepper flakes ... add to your spicy liking

Preheat oven for 375º.

Mix all meatball ingredients in your food processor until the mixture is relatively smooth. Form into meatballs.

Place on a sprayed pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While they cooking, mix the spicy peanut sauce ingredients in a bowl or on a stovetop .

Once meatballs are done ... enjoy!

Vegan Thai Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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