Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Biscoff No-Bake Cookies

Right to the good stuff!

A few weeks ago I signed up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
I love Christmas cookies.  I love to make them and I love to eat them.  That's why each year I host my own Cookie Party and swap at home, and also why I jumped on the chance to participate in this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Earlier in the week I received my assignments:

Pixie and Dusty Eat

The Yummy Year Project

Rosewater and Thyme

My task is to bake (or no-bake) a batch of cookies and send a dozen to each of the bloggers on my list.  AAAAaaaannnnnndddd....I will receive 3 dozen cookies in the mail as well!  Oh yes, pretty sweet deal!

So today I made my way into the kitchen to mix up these beauties.  Like I mentioned before, I had a plan for a secret ingredient.  Any guesses?

My friend Brandy is in love with Biscoff am I.  She had the brilliant idea to mix it into no-bake cookies in place of the peanut butter.  The best part of this experiment is now I have an almost empty jar of Biscoff to make Oats In A Jar!

After mixing all the ingredients, shaping the cookies and letting them cool, I was off to photograph my masterpiece.  One problem, all the camera batteries in the house are dead!  And I can't find the charger!  So for these delicious cookies, you will be experiencing an Instagram photo montage!
Biscoff No-Bake Cookies
makes 36 cookies

Substituting Biscoff for peanut butter in this classic recipe gives new life to an oldy but goody!  Use an ice cream scoop to get uniform sized cookies.

Prep/Cook time: 25 minutes

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter 
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Biscoff Spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups oats
  1. Add the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.  Stir in the next 3 ingredients and drop onto wax/parchment paper.  Let cool until set.

These cookies are definitely sweet and wonderful!  Biscoff spread is a delicious addition to my pantry!
The cookies are all packaged up and ready to be shipped out!  Next year join our blogger cookie swap to get yours!
As I type away this cookie post, I am sipping on my second Pumpkin Pie Smoothie of the day and my fifth in three days!  What gives?

Last week I burned the inside of my mouth terribly bad.  It wasn't like "Oh that was hot, I burnt my tongue" bad, it was like "Holy Donkees my gums are peeling away!"  I took some tylenol and went to bed and the next day it was more like the first scenario.  My tongue was just a little tingly, my gums just a bit sore.  But as the week progressed, I have slowly developed real blisters on the inside of my mouth.  I know this is disturbing, and you may not want to know...but I should tell you it hurts like a dawg!  All I can muster is smoothies, and unfortunately I am out of everything in the house other than pumpkin and bananas! 

I am dying for the delicious chili I made last night, or the Quinoa Lentil Casserole from two nights ago!  Anything but cold drinks on these chili days!

But that's all, just thought I would share!  Bottoms up!
Oh, and just one more thing (ok...two!)

Check out VeganFaith on these other great sites today!

Life in a Holding Pattern

Healthy Living Bloggers

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Biscuits and an easy casserole recipe!

Yesterday I had a giant kitchen flop that turned into a giant kitchen success!  I was attempting pumpkin biscuits from another website and after all the ingredients were added, it did not look like it was supposed to!  I checked and double checked and triple checked the ingredients.  I counted out what was in the dough, and still, not good.

The recipe I was following was for biscuits that were rolled, cut and baked.  My dough looked more like cookie batter.  I considered adding more flour, but I was nervous I would ruin the flavor.  Instead, I decided to run with it, using the dough exactly as I had it.  I dropped the dough onto the baking sheet, about 1/4 cup of dough into each drop biscuit.  Baked for the same amount of time and voila!
Delicious Drop Biscuits!

Vegan Pumpkin Drop Biscuits
makes 12 biscuits

It can't be more simple than a drop biscuit. These taste delectable straight out of the oven, fluffy and savory!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold Earth Balance Spread
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  1. In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and brown sugar.
  2. Dice butter and add to bowl, using fork or pastry cutter to blend into flour mixture until a fine crumb forms.
  3. In separate bowl combine pumpkin and milk.  Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and drop dough, about 1/4 cup size, onto sheet.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450*.
To accompany my biscuits with dinner I threw together this casserole in a matter of minutes.  It takes a while to bake, but the time saved in prep is well worth it!

Easy Quinoa Lentil Casserole
serves 6-8

This casserole is quick to throw together on a busy night. Pop into oven and forget about it.  The flavors are warm and comforting on a cold or rainy night.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt to taste
  1. In large casserole dish stir together all ingredients. Place in 400* oven for 1 hour, adding 15 minutes more if lentils or quinoa are not yet soft. Serve with Pumpkin Drop Biscuits

Monday, November 28, 2011


I finally made it into the kitchen to bake a batch of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies!  The warm and delicious aroma emanating from the oven is almost more than I can bare!  But for once, these cookies are not for me.  A few weeks ago I offered up my services to bake a batch for an online auction at Sweet Tater Blog for Beards Because, raising money and awareness for domestic violence.  
Katie is pictured far right
Katie has a big heart and always has charitable antics up her sleeve.  I am just honored to be a part of what she is doing! 
I had the pleasure of meeting Katie and sitting across from her about a year ago at a blogger dinner at Cowfish.  It wasn't until the Healthy Living Summit late summer that I got to hang out with her once again.  She was just as much fun as I remembered!
So now a batch of these delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies are on their way to Ambre and I really hope she enjoys them!

In other cookie baking news...I signed up for the Great Blogger Cookie Swap this year!
I am excited because I will receive 3 dozen cookies in the mail sometime in the next week or two, all different kinds and from 3 different people.  Additionally, I am excited because I will be shipping out a new cookie recipe and I can't wait to post it!  I can't take complete credit for the idea...I'm stealing the "secret ingredient" from my friend Brandy!  I know you can't wait to find out what it is!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A different Christmas Spirit

And just like that, Sunday is closing in, and this super-long weekend will be over.  Bummer.  I can't tell you enough how much I enjoy the holidays!  The minute Thanksgiving is over, all I can think about is Christmas. 

Finally today we had some free time, so Forbes and I set to work putting up our Christmas decor.

Click an image to view a slideshow.
As cheerful as this is, unfortunately I spent most of the day in a sour mood.  I couldn't put aside the desire for more, more, more, buy, buy, buy.  Although I never went out and bought anything today, I felt very unsatisfied with my material possessions.  As we were unpacking the Christmas boxes from the attic, I was unhappy with everything.  I just wanted to pitch it all and start from scratch. 

I don't know what came over me today and made me so miserable, but it was no fun.  I knew once I had everything set up and decorated I would be more than happy, but it was hard for me to get to that point.  I just sulked all afternoon.

While I sulked, I begrudgingly set up the tree and the centerpieces on the tables.  Forbes, meanwhile, was outside hanging Christmas lights!
This is our first year hanging lights outside.  We bought several strands on sale after Christmas last year and we were so excited to hang the lights!
(I need to ditch the pumpkins...they are ruining my Christmas vibe!)
I am so particular about Christmas lights on houses.  In my opinion they should all be white lights and very straight!  Forbes did a fine job! 

With the lights on the house and all of our Christmas items on display, I feel much more at ease.  I didn't like the way I was feeling earlier today.  I don't like being discontent and materialistic.  When it comes down to it, those things just don't matter.  I am so blessed to have this beautiful home, and all the decorations I already own.  Still, those things shouldn't be where I find my happiness.  I look to God for the source of true joy, but get lost in the cracks and find myself pining over things that will not bring me lasting joy, only momentary happiness. 

Do you ever find yourself feeling this way?  What do you use as a reminder that money does not buy happiness?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

When life gives you bananas...

Make banana bread!
This morning was the First Annual Mooresville Christian Mission Turkey Trot 5k!  That's a mouthful!  The extra-large title matches the extra-large crowd that came out this morning.  I am so sorry that I didn't capture a single picture of the day.  I'm hoping to find some on Facebook soon. 

This morning was so busy and kind of a little crazy.  With 375 runners pre-registered, and close to 150 day-of registrations, you can understand why I didn't take a moment to take a photo!  Over 500 runners this morning raised over $7,000 for the Mooresville Christian Mission

Today I lift up and glorify our God, my Father who makes all things work together.  If it weren't for his almighty power we could not have gotten all those registrations through this morning.  Trust me, if you saw the line around the corner of the building you would understand the miracle I witnessed today. 

This morning was a realization of just how awesome God is and how he can use me.  Little ole' me.  No seriously.  Small and meager, and somewhat untalented me.  After watching the unorganized process unfold that I put together for registration, it is only a wonder that we even started the race on time (ok- close to on time!)  Through all my faults, He chooses to use me anyway. 

I have a tendency to become a little short when I'm stressed, and sometimes can be seen as abrasive even.  Yet every time my attitude arose in me this morning, I quickly recognized it, and put it away.  There were only a few moments I thought I might really lose it this morning.  But our great God came through for me this morning and really made magic out of something so little. 

So on this day of Thanksgiving, all my praise and worship is lifted to God.  I am humbled that he would choose to use me to do such great works.  And now that it is over-- the runners have finished and the site is cleaned up-- now I'm curled up on the couch, my feet up, and a cup of tea resting in my hand.  Life couldn't be better!

Of course, after any race, there are always leftovers!  Bananas, oranges, bagels!  A huge thanks to the grocery stores, organizations and stores that donated all of these goods.  Most of the leftovers will be given out on Monday at the mission, but whatever was already cut, or would go bad before Monday had to be disposed of today.  Obviously I grabbed what I could.  You can never have too many bananas in the freezer ready for Soft Serve!

And for the pot luck we are attending tonight, I whipped together a banana bread.
Usually after directing a 5k, Forbes and I go out for lunch.  We don't want to cook after all that hard work.  Today, that simply was not an option.  Somehow we found it within ourselves to put together a respectable meal.
We split a Meat Loaf sandwich made with leftovers from our Vegan Loaf.  And on the side we whipped together this macaroni salad from Veganomicon.
Delicious and fun!

Happy Tofurkey Day everyone!  I hope yours is filled with as much joy and peace and faith as ours!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Veggie Cream Cheese

Karma is a funny little thing.  Yesterday my RSS reader was not working for whatever reason.  I didn't get any blog posts into my inbox.  I was a very sad blogger yesterday and I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work.  Of course it made me think that I shouldn't have laughed so hard when Forbes' PS3 went to electronics heaven last week, huh?

Blogging is my hobby and video games is Forbes' hobby.  It works for us because I can sit on the couch beside him while we each do our own thing.  So yesterday when the RSS reader wouldn't work, I'm sure Forbes had a good little chuckle.

Luckily, my reader decided to work this morning.  Unfortunately the PS3 is gone forever.  Forbes is forever checking out Black Friday ads to replace his beloved machine. 

If yesterday was a happy day, it was only in anticipation of today...the real happy day!  We have almost a full week off work together and I can't wait for our little stay-cation!  This morning we woke up slow and enjoyed this breakfast together!
After picking up bagels this morning I had this genius idea to make veggie cream cheese.  We had leftover vegan cream cheese in the fridge from our Jalapeno Popper Sandwiches.  I enjoy bagels and cream cheese but it just doesn't seem healthy enough for breakfast.  So this morning I finely chopped carrots, radishes and celery and added in a little dill and pepper to mix with the cream cheese.  It turned out wonderful!  Spread on top of my giant whole wheat everything bagel.

Now we are parked on the couch, waiting for Live with Kelly.  I haven't watched the show yet since Regis left.  On his last day I was parked on the couch all morning.  I am excited to watch the show with just Kelly, however.  I promise after Live I will get off the couch and be productive today!

If I don't get on here tomorrow, have a Happy Thanksgiving!  We have over 300 people registered for the Turkey Trot 5k in downtown Mooresville.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  But I know we will have quite a busy day!  Take care!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh Happy Day

Happy Tuesday!  It is a happy day over here.  We are celebrating because after today, Forbes is off work until next Monday!  Oh Happy Day!

Of course in the next several days I will be putting him to work plenty on Turkey Trot duties!  We are directing the Christian Mission's Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning and already we have twice as many registrants as I expected.  We couldn't be more thrilled, however, each time another registration comes through my inbox, my stomach does a tiny little lurch!  I am overwhelmed, in a very good way.  I am just so thrilled so many will be supporting the Christian Mission and running the 5k!

Last night Forbes and I got to spend an evening together.  We seem to be hopping from one thing to the next so frequently these days, that dinners alone together at home are so rare.  We made an old favorite with a new-to-us salad.  This Corn and Edamame Salad is from Veganomicon.  The Asian inspired dressing is succulent and I couldn't stop shoveling it into my mouth.  The Vegan Loaf was as good as always! 

Question of the day:  As a race director I am always looking for ways to improve our races.  What makes a great race?  What do you expect when you register for a race?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crazy Love

I'm reading a new book.  Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  A member of our small group passed it off to Forbes last week.  Unfortunately for him, he has a handful of books in his cue at the moment, although he has been wanting to read this one for a long time.  Fortunately for me, I got to take it along to work with me last night and ended up reading almost half of it. 

Basically, this book is reinforcing my mindset that I am not doing enough to live out God's purpose.  I am not following some of His basic commands in the bible.  I am not loving my neighbor as I love myself.  I have not taken up my own cross to follow Him.  Sure I live a pretty good life.  I am serving those around me.  But my selfish desires so often come before the needs of others. 

I learned a very simple truth last night while reading this book, that I seem to have overlooked: Christian = Disciple.  After reading it in the book, I came home last night and asked Forbes what the difference between a disciple and a Christian was.  Luckily he is smarter than me and responded with "nothing."  What a radical thought!  There is nothing different between a disciple and a Christian? 

Are you a Christian?  How would you honestly answer that question?  You know 83% of Americans would classify themselves as Christian. 

Now ask yourself this: Am I a disciple of Jesus?  For me, that question hurt.  A disciple proclaims the name of God and is not ashamed.  They give everything they have to teach others the good news.  I went back to my initial question... is a disciple the same thing as a Christian.  Can that be true if I don't feel like I'm a disciple, and yet I call myself a Christian?

The first disciples were those guys in the New Testament that were martyred for Jesus.  They taught about grace and mercy and they sacrificed everything to teach the gospel.  They did not call themselves Christians but were named as such by others.  When someone looks into my life would they be able to call me a Christian?  By my actions am I exemplifying a Christian?  Can I be a Christian if I am not first a disciple?

This morning Forbes and I finished the devotion book that we have been working on for the better part of a year.  Become a Better You by Joel Osteen ended with a bang this morning with a huge call to action.  The idea is that life is fragile and you do not know when your last day will be.  This is not a morbid thought, but a call to action and it echoed a full chapter in Crazy Love that I read last night.  If today was your last day, what would you do?  Knowing you would be home with Jesus in the morning, and standing before God, how would you like Him to acknowledge you?  What would you fill your last day with?

Forbes immediately responded with, "I would not go to work!"  No, dear, you would not!  But what would we do instead?  Certainly we would want to see our friends and family to say goodbye.  God would not hate that thought, he is a loving God who loves relationship.  But would that be the best way to go out with a bang? 

Perhaps I would like to see the Grand Canyon before I die, or if I'm going to die anyway, heck let's just go to outer space to see what that is like, right?  God would surely honor that.  He would laugh at our sense of adventure and welcome us home with open arms, huh?

But what if we dropped everything to serve.  To feed the hungry, speak out for the oppressed, free slaves, and hold orphans in my arms and teach all these about the love of our Father.  Then what would God say?  God has given me everything I need in this life.  Isn't that a call to responsibility to help others with their basic needs?  What can I do today to help someone else?  What can you do today to help someone else?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vegan Jalapeno Popper Sandwich

Lunch today was delightful.  I have had this recipe idea pinned for so long, I nearly forgot about it!  We planned to make it in the mountains last weekend but forgot the cream cheese at home.  Because vegan cream cheese is a little pricey, we opted not to buy another container and wait until we were home once again.

Alas, today was the day for this delicious meal.  Jalapeno Popper Sandwiches make a great weekend lunch.  It would also be a quick fix dinner idea paired with a cup of soup.  Maybe with this soup?
Gotta love the green! 

Jalopeno Popper Sandwich
serves 2

This recipe takes our favorite fried food and turns it into a sandwich healthy enough to be called lunch.  I loved the idea of this dressed up grilled cheese and couldn't wait to try the recipe.  You can adjust the heat of the sandwich with more or less jalapeno and include the seeds if you are a real risk taker.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup Daiya Pepperjack Cheese
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese on slice of bread.  Top with half of the peppers, and 2 tablespoons Daiya cheese.  Top with second slice of bread.  Repeat to make second sandwich.
  2. In microwave, melt butter.  Stir in nutritional yeast if using.  Brush butter mixture on sandwiches (both sides) and place on griddle or pan over medium heat. 
  3. Cook for 5-6 minutes on one side.  Flip and cook the other side of sandwich until cheese is melted and bread is browned.  Slice in half and serve.
Easy Sweet Pea Soup
serves 2

This soup is quick to throw together in a pinch.  When you need a satisfying lunch, or quick dinner idea without all the hassle, reach to your freezer for some frozen veggies and to your pantry for a few staples and in no time you will have a delicious soup!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 leek
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut milk (optional)
  1. In small saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Slice the leek, white parts only, and add to the pan.  Cook for 5 minutes until soft.  
  2. Add peas to the pan and saute an additional 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Pour in 2 cups of vegetable broth and heat to boiling.  
  4. Remove pan from heat and empty contents into blender.  Puree until almost smooth.
  5. In microwave, heat 2 cups of corn for 1-2 minutes until thawed.  Add to the blender and pulse one or two times to blend, but not completely puree.
  6. Return soup to pan to reheat if necessary.  Serve topped with a bit of coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Bread Pudding

My very first Thanksgiving as a married woman in my own home looked a little something like this.  Do you see that ugly thing staring us down in the background?
Yup, that's a carcass on my table!  Ok, I don't mean to be rude or refer to the beautiful turkey as a carcass, but after 3 years of veganism, that is exactly what it looks like to me.  To all those planning your big Thanksgiving meal this week, enjoy your turkey...but please, do me a favor and check out some of my awesome Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas!
I was very, very happy that year.  I had my parents visiting; Forbes' mom came down and my dear friend Angie joined us for dinner.  I may have only had hand-me-down furniture and lawn chairs to sit on, no art on the walls yet, or any color on my table, but the day was beautiful and I was surrounded by loved ones.
The dessert table wasn't terrible either!  My mom and I baked all the pies together, and she taught me how to roast a turkey.  Just in time for me to never eat turkey again.  Sorry mom.  They even bought me a huge roasting pan.  I'm not really sure what to do with that now.  Perhaps I will sell it on Craigslist, or save it to bathe my future infants in.  For now, it is just taking up valuable space where my juicer and Vitamix belong. 

Since that Thanksgiving, I have yet to host another.  We typically retreat to Winston-Salem where my in-laws live and I always bring the dessert.  This year is no different, especially since I have a huge event on Thanksgiving morning.  So I am looking to some simple dessert recipes to bring along and this one does just the trick.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
serves 6-8

I am obsessed with bread pudding, but have yet to experience a decent one that is vegan.  Until this one that is.  This bread pudding is quick and simple, but tastes divine.  Using coconut milk and pumpkin gives it a creamy, almost "eggy" quality that you find in traditional bread puddings.  This recipe would be perfect for your holiday table!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 loaf day-old whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Lightly grease casserole dish.  
  2. Whisk together coconut milk, pumpkin, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice until smooth.  
  3. Fold in bread crumbs into pumpkin mixture and stir in chocolate chips until all bread is well coated.
  4. Turn bread into casserole dish and sprinkle additional 2 tablespoons brown sugar on top.  
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is lightly brown.  Garnish with powdered sugar and serve warm.
I served my bread pudding with a steaming cup of Pumpkin Pie Spice tea I found on sale.  Score!
I used a frother to create foam with almond milk to top my tea.  It was such a wonderful treat, and I didn't have to pay $4 for a latte!
I enjoyed this bread pudding so much.  I couldn't stop eating it.  It brought me back to my early days of waitressing at just 16 or 17 years old.  The Country Kettle (my place of employment) served an amazing bread pudding and I would eat it every.single.night!  I believe I ate these leftovers for breakfast and lunch every day until it was gone!  So wonderful!
Question of the Day:  What are your thoughts on colored tights?
Yay or Nay?