Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dark Chocolate Vegan Cookies = a great destresser

Accidentally/serendipitously made way too many dark chocolate vegan cookies on Sunday. It was the last day of the 19-day fast and I think I forgot what an normal batch of cookies should be. However, this has turned into a huge blessing because taking 2 of these cookies with 80% dark chocolate to work everyday has helped me get through this intensely stressful work week.

My friend Kit posted this recipe on her blog and I'm glad I tried them out. She also has this cool blog called The Hungry Honeymoon which will chronicle her and her husband's hike through the Pacific Crest Trail.

Dark Chocolate Vegan Cookies:
1 cup vegan margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used maple syrup)
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose baking flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I diced up 2 bars of 80% dark chocolate)
3 tsp egg substitute
4 Tbs warm water
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
combine egg replacer, warm water, sugar +molasses, vanilla, and margarine (at room temp) and mix into a creamy paste. In separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Pour wet into dry and add chocolate chips and nuts. The dough will feel a bit crumbly, but use your hands to work it into small balls and put on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 10-16 min. The cookies won't spread out, and may be hard to tell that they're done, but if you stick a fork into a chocolate chip and its melted, they're fairly well done.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Naw-Ruz! Happy Spring! Happy New Year!

Happy Naw-Ruz! After 19 days of fasting and a intense winter I am more than happy to welcome Spring.

I've started a tradition of growing wheat grass during the fast to focus on the upcoming green and spiritual grow that comes with Naw-Ruz. For instructions on how to grow wheat grass see my blog post from last year. .

"On March 21 Baha'is celebrate the beginning of a new year. Called Naw-Ruz, which means "new day" in Persian, it is one of nine Baha'i holy days on which Baha'is suspend work and school.

Baha'is follow the Badi ("wonderful") calendar, which consists of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days), with the addition of "Intercalary Days" (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the 18th and 19th months to adjust the calendar to the solar year.

Naw-Ruz begins at sunset on the last day of the Baha'i Fast and is observed with celebration and prayer"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Awesome Lasagna (that happens to be vegan)

Yesterday I made my best lasagna yet (vegan or non-vegan). Seriously, I was so proud of my cooking accomplish. At first I was afraid the tofu/spinach/vegan cream cheese combo in place of ricotta cheese would taste off....but once baked it was the perfect texture and taste contribution. I'll be making this recipe for a long time.

* 2 tsp. olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 5-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
* 12-oz. pkg. firm tofu, drained
* 4-oz. vegan cream cheese (used Tofutti)
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (cheated and used pasta sauce with basil in it)

* 4 1/2 cups pasta sauce
* 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
* 6 oz. vegan Italian sausage links, cut into thin rounds, or soy
sausage crumbles, broken apart (used Gimme Lean Sausage)
* 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (Daiya is the best)


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute Gimme Lean sausage, crumbling as it cooks. Set aside. Take another pan and sauté onions and garlic in oil 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Add spinach, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer spinach mixture to bowl of food processor. Add tofu, cream cheese, basil, and purée until mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Spread one-quarter of Pasta Sauce recipe on bottom of baking dish. Cover with one-third of noodles (4 or 5 noodles), then half of Filling, and ladle on another one-quarter of sauce. Repeat layer of noodles and remaining Filling. Spread sausage evenly over top, and top with one-quarter of sauce. Finish with final layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

3. Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 minutes, or until bubbling hot. Uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rumi poetry - Baha'i Fast: Day 14

There's hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you're full of food and drink, Satan sits where your spirit should, an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.
When you fast, good habits gather like friends who want to help.

Fasting is Solomon's ring. Don't give it to some illusion and lose your power, but even if you have, if you've lost all will and control, they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents, Jesus' table.
Expect to see it, when you fast, this table spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.

~ Rumi

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vegan sugar cookies

I normally make all my desserts from scratch but I discovered Cherrybrook Kitchen's sugar cookie mix (vegan) and have fallen in love (click here for the vegan recipe I used to use). Another Whole Foods win. I still make the icing myself as I prefer homemade icing. I have made these cookies for our Ayyam-i-Ha party and for a fast breaking potluck....both times people gave rave reviews.

Vegan icing:
1/4 cup melted vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
1/4 cup melted non hydrogenated shortening
1.5-2 cups of confections sugar (sifted)
0.75 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup soy milk

Beat together butter and shortening until completely blended. Sift in sugar. Beat for 2 minutes. Add milk and vanilla. Beat again. If you want thicker icing add more sugar.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sacred Chow - a vegan fast breaking date

My husband took me out for a dinner and movie date yesterday. The Baha'i fast is still going on so we arrived at 5:45 pm so our food would appear at sunset. These pictures don't do the food justice (the lighting was so dim). Sacred Chow is now on my top 3 vegan restaurants in NYC. They never disappoint (brunch write up).

My excellent meal: pumpkin bisque, vegan sausage with sauerkraut and apple berry crisp with vegan ice-cream.

My husband's great meal: Vegan Sausage with sauerkraut, Indonesian Roasted Tempeh and Baby Root Vegetable Latkes w/Indonesian
Date Butter.

Sacred Chow
227 Sullivan Street, NYC 10012 (b/w W3 & Bleecker)

Monday, March 7, 2011

vegan Guava Cheese Turnovers

These vegan guava cheese turnovers are extremely delicious and quite addictive. I will definitely be using this recipe again :) I got the recipe from a blog called "your vegan mom".

Guava Cheese Turnovers
* 1 17.3-ounce package puff pastry sheets (I used Pepperidge Farms)
* about half a tin of Guava Paste, cut into thin small slices
* 2/3 cup raw cashews
* scant 2/3 cup plain soy yogurt or one 6-ounce container (I used WholeSoy)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* pinch salt

If your puff pastry is frozen, get it out of the freezer. Open it up
and let it thaw on the counter.

Cheese = Grind the cashews in a food processor to a a pretty fine meal. Add the yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.Process again until smooth and creamy.

Arrange a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat to 400 degrees.

When the pastry is pliable, unfold it on a floured counter or board,
and cut each sheet into four smaller squares.

Place a generous tablespoon of cheese onto the middle of each square.

Arrange a slice or two of guava paste on top of each dollop of cheese.

Fold over to make a triangle. Seal edges with the tines of a fork.
Cut a few little slits in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baha'i Fast - Day 3

I took this picture while walking my dog at 7:30 am in Prospect Park. I kept staring at the sun rising above the tunnel/bridge so I had to capture it.

Friday morning I was meditating on this quote by Baha'u'llah:

"These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory.

And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven"
I broke the fast with lentil chili and vegan cornbread.

Vegan Cornbread (by IsaChandra)

Makes 12 to 16 squares

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups soymilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, wisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).
Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Wisk with a wire wisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baha'i Fast - Day 1

'Ala the Baha'i month of fasting has started. For 19 days, March 2-20th I will be fasting i.e. no food or drink whenever the sun is out. The fast is "essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character." (Shoghi Effendi)

Even though fasting has its difficulties and sacrifice, I appreciate the many spiritual benefits. The focus and purification I gain from waking up pre-dawn....eating/drinking, praying and meditating in silence is priceless.

Morning meal:
Field Roast Grain Meat Co's Smoked Apple Sage vegan sausage, bread with jam, water,
Egyptian licorice tea (this book called "Butterfly Mosque" had a similar drink made in Egypt that locals claim helps with dehydration effects during fasting)

Meditating on: The view of the sun rise through a living room window, the spiritual goals of fasting and the Yogi tea quote "Truth is everlasting"

Happy fasting!