ThisVeganWhimsy is Moving!

ThisVeganWhimsy is moving!  All the delicious recipes will now be hosted at thisveganwhimsy.com.  My little blog has its own home now!

Some of the best recipes have been moved to the new domain, and I will continue to add new posts regularly.  Please click here to view the new site.  Please make sure to update your email subscriptions so that you don’t miss a post!

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Tea Time: Purple Passion Tea Oatmeal

This morning I woke up craving the warmth of an herbal tea and the satisfaction of a hearty breakfast.  Upon examination of my cupboard, I discovered two bags of Tazo Passion Tea tucked away next to the oatmeal.  Instead of making tea, and also making oatmeal, I combined the two to create a sweet, purple, passion tea-flavored oatmeal!

This recipe is quick, delicious, and adds a unique twist to a breakfast staple.

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Ingredients:
1 cup water
2 Tazo Passion tea bags
1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not quick cooking or steel cut)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar (I used raw sugar)
2 tablespoons unsweetend vanilla almond milk

Directions:
1. Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small pot on the stove.  Place two tea bags in a cup, top with boiling water and let steep for 4-6 minutes.  Discard tea bags.
2. Place the tea into the same small pot.  Add the salt and bring to a rolling boil.  Once boiling, add the oats and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
3. Add 2 tablespoons almond milk and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the oatmeal is slightly creamy.  Add sugar to taste, stir to fully dissolve, and serve.  Start with 1 teaspoon of sugar and add from there.  A full tablespoon will make it very sweet.  It’s always better to start with a little and add more later!

Recipe Note: I use two tea bags so the flavor really comes through.  If you prefer a lighter tea flavor, use just one tea bag.

Have you ever used tea as a base for your oatmeal?  If so, what flavors have you tried?

Forbidden Rice Bowl with Sweet Dumpling Squash and Creamy Orange Almond Sauce

This recipe has moved!  Please click here to view this recipe on thisveganwhimsy.com.

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I should say that my husband said, while eating large spoonfuls of this dish, that it was “restaurant quality.”  That is extremely high praise for an avowed squash hater and a person who generally only loves the Spanish varieties of rice bowls.

Have you ever heard of a Sweet Dumpling Squash?  Do you have a favorite way to prepare it?

Sunday Brunch: Spicy Potato Hash (WFPB)

Sunday mornings often meant special food when I was growing up.  My mother might make scrambled eggs or pancakes instead of the usual cereal and milk.  Sometimes, if I had a friend over, she would fry up some bacon.  When I got older we would often meet at McDonald’s for a breakfast biscuit before church.  Nowadays I don’t eat bacon and it’s been a few years since I’ve eaten a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich, but my love for special food on Sunday mornings hasn’t changed.  The rest of the week I’m content to eat oatmeal, fruit, or a bagel.  On Sunday I want something delicious and warm.

Today I woke up with a craving for a spicy potato hash.  Thus, this recipe was born!

Ingredients:
Vegetable Broth
4 petite red potatoes (not the really large ones), well scrubbed.
2 medium yellow onions
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (if you’re not a huge garlic fan like I am, use only 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I like mine super spicy, so I used 1/2 teaspoon)
3 large handfuls raw spinach (approximately 8 ounces)
2 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced.
Salt and Black Pepper

Instructions:
1. Heat a half-inch layer of vegetable broth in a ceramic/non-stick skillet.  Dice the red potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the veggie broth and simmer until fork tender, approximately ten minutes.  Add splashes of veggie broth if it seems dry or if the potatoes are sticking.  Once the potatoes are cooked, set aside.
2. Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat.  While the potatoes are simmering, slice the onions thinly (or dice, whichever you prefer).  Line the skillet with a thin layer of veggie broth and add the onions.  Saute until soft and slightly caramelized, approximately 7 minutes.  Add splashes of veggie broth if your pan gets too dry.  Add the minced garlic and saute for an additional minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
3. Add the potatoes to the onion mixture along with the dill and cayenne pepper.
4. Fold in the spinach and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes.
5. Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and stir gently until the tomatoes are warmed through.
6. Serve!

Variations: This hash is not crispy, because no oil is used in the sauteing.  If you prefer crispy potatoes, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil on hi for a few minutes, or until browned.  Watch the potatoes carefully so they don’t burn.

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Sauteing onions slowly over a lower heat makes them sweet and delicious!

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It’s important to fold in the spinach gently, and not stir around in a circle, which may break up the potatoes.

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You can top the finished hash with fresh avocado or cashew cream to cool it down a bit, if it’s too spicy!

VegNews Best Ever Vegan Macaroni and Cheese – WFPB Version!

You guys!  I just made the best vegan macaroni and cheese EVER.  Like, it took all my willpower to pack up the leftovers and put them away, because I wanted to eat the entire pan!  My omni (short for omnivore) husband found this recipe and made it for a special occasion quite a while ago and it was simply fantastic.  I held off on making it because I thought it looked like a ton of work (it’s not) and that it wasn’t very healthy (with a few easy tweaks, it can be healthy).

Today I had an intense craving for the soul warming goodness of mac n’ cheese, so after a quick trip to the store to grab shallots I was in my kitchen.  This recipe originally appeared on the VegNews.com website.  I have copied it here with modifications to make it WFPB (Whole Foods, Plant Based) and included the link to the original recipe at the end of this post.  I also doubled the recipe – eight ounces of mac n’ cheese is NOT enough!  I’ve updated the amounts here to make a double batch, so you don’t have to worry about doing the math.

VegNews Best Ever Vegan Macaroni and Cheese – WFPB Version!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound macaroni noodles (can use whole wheat or gluten free pasta also)
  • 4 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red potatoes, chopped relatively small (don’t peel)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped relatively small
  • 2/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (NOT the roasted/salted kind)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped into a few pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked, but sweet paprika will work as well)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Boil water for macaroni.  Cook macaroni in salted water (this is important, don’t forget to salt your pasta water unless you are on a low sodium diet!) according to package instructions.  Drain.
2. While your pasta water is starting, chop your red potatoes, carrots, shallots and onions.  Make sure to chop the potatoes and carrots relatively small and uniformly, as this will help speed up the cooking time.  Add these vegetables to a large pot with 2 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil for approximately fifteen minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender.  Do not drain.
3. Put the raw cashews (emphasis on raw, you do not need to soak them, even if you have a sad blender), salt, garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice, cayenne, and paprika in your blender.  Dump the softened veggies along with their cooking liquid in the blender.  It is crucial that you put the cooking liquid in the blender, as this is what will make the sauce creamy without adding any oil or vegan butter (the original recipe calls for vegan butter).  Blend until very smooth.  If your mixture seems too thick, add another 1/2 cup of water.
4. Pour the sauce into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Dump the cooked noodles on top of the sauce and mix thoroughly.  If you’re careful, you can mix in the pan; there’s no reason to dirty another whole dish just for mixing.
5. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes.  Chomp! (If you like the crust super crispy, you can bake for 30 minutes.  If you don’t want any crust, just eat the mac n’ cheese after mixing!)

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The sauce is creamy and orange from the carrots.  The red potato skin also helps the color, which is why I don’t bother to peel the red potatoes.  Plus, you get all the extra nutrients from the skins!

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This is a super fancy GIF I made of the cheese sauce.  And by super fancy, I mean that it’s a miracle I didn’t drop the blender and break everything trying to pour and take pictures at the same time.

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Mac n’ Cheese in the casserole dish!  The original recipe calls for breadcrumbs on top.  I have never been a fan of breadcrumbs on my mac n’ cheese, so I left that part out entirely.  The recipe didn’t suffer at all.

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Finished mac n’ cheese with roasted asparagus = soul food.

Proposed time to prepare: Not listed
Actual time to prepare: 1 hour from start to finish.
-Active Time: 30 minutes
-Oven Time: 20-30 minutes

Easy to find ingredients: 10/10.  There are no fancy ingredients here, unless you count shallots as fancy.  All of the ingredients can be found at a regular grocery store.
Cooking techniques used: chop, simmer, blend, bake.

YUM factor: 10/10.  This is hands down my favorite vegan mac n’ cheese recipe. I love it even more now that I can make it without the butter.

Link to original recipe: VegNews Vegan Macaroni and Cheese.

This recipe was originally published on VegNews.com.  Any variation from the original recipe is my own modification.  All opinions expressed are my own.

On Self-Love and the Necessity of Sleep

Yesterday was one of those days.  You know, one of the days when you get out of bed and you already hate the world.  Nothing bad happened (in fact, everything that occurred yesterday was good!) but I felt like I was about to burst into tears at any moment.  Why?  Simply because I didn’t get enough sleep.  All last week I burned the candle on both ends, staying up late working on school projects and getting up early for work.  Saturday night we were out until 1 AM at a (fantastically fun) Halloween party.  I rolled out of bed at 7 AM Sunday morning and was so tired I felt shaky.  I only made it through yesterday by drinking an excessive amount of caffeine.

What does this have to do with self love?  Everything.  I have a bad habit of overcomitting, because I think I can handle more than I actually can.  I keep thinking that I *should be able to do everything* and getting confused when I turn into a zombie, get sick, and have emotional meltdowns.  I keep thinking that I’m just not working hard enough, or efficiently enough, or that I’m not organized enough.  Or, that I waste too much time and that if I could just be productive every minute of the day I wouldn’t have any issues.  There is some truth to those thoughts, of course.  Sometimes I get lazy and don’t work very hard, sometimes I am disorganized, and sometimes I waste time.  But doesn’t everyone have those moments?  I am no more lazy, disorganized, or inefficient than anyone else.

Continually telling myself that it’s my fault I can’t get everything done doesn’t help anything.  It just perpetuates the cycle of taking on too much, getting stressed out, and blaming myself for a lackluster product.

Repeat after me: There is nothing that will contribute more to your emotional stability than a good night’s sleep.  Sleep is your stressed mind’s reset button, a chance for your worn out body to repair itself.  If you don’t sleep enough, little things will turn into gigantic issues that upset both you and those around you.  Your willpower will be lacking, and you might turn to junk food and drinks to get you through the day…which might in turn make you upset because you aren’t making healthful choices.  Small mistakes will seem like big failures, and you’ll doubt yourself on the bigger projects.

Repeat after me: There is nothing that will contribute more to your emotional stability then consistently getting a good night’s sleep.  It can’t just be done once a week, when you finally collapse because your IV of caffeine and adrenaline ran dry.

We have to love ourselves enough to give our bodies what we need, and what we need is sleep.  Yes, all the things we signed up for are important.  Our families need us, our job needs us, our school projects need us.  Don’t forget that you need you too.  I’m basically useless when I don’t get enough sleep.  I’m emotional, it takes me twice as long as it should to complete any task, and I can barely remember to feed myself, let alone take care of other people.

Repeat after me:
I am worth a good night’s sleep.
I love myself, and what my body needs is sleep, so that is what I will give it.
I am not hurting anyone by taking care of myself.  In fact, I will be able to give my best to other people because I am taking care of myself.

Now off to bed, all of you! 🙂

Discussion question: Do you sleep enough?  Why or why not?