Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chickpea (Garbanzo) Salad (GF and V)

I hope you all had a Happy Happy Holiday and continue to enjoy family and good food throughout the season!!! 

Our family got together with my brother's family yesterday afternoon and went to a movie (Adventures of Tin Tin was awesome). We all ate a mountain of popcorn, so we weren't really up for a big supper when we got home.  But about 9:00, my husband and son started poking around the kitchen looking for something a little more substantial than the normal bedtime snack. 
(My son said we needed something that was a mixture of lunch and snack--a "lack" or maybe a "snach."  His words, not mine.  That kid cracks me up.  I can't wait to see the comments on that one!)

ANYWAY, I had been glancing through cookbooks earlier in the day and saw a recipe for Chickpea Salad that was similar to Chicken Salad for sandwiches.  I grabbed a can of chickpeas and just sort of threw in some simple ingredients.  I couldn't believe how good it was.  My son literally licked the bowl clean.  They loved it and we will definitely be adding this simple dish to our regular menu.

Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing.  They are a little dry and a lot nutty. Because of that nuttiness, you see them a lot on salad bars.  Give them a try next time you see them.  Buy a good brand name if you're buying them canned because the cheaper ones tend to lose some of that great texture.

I made this recipe just like I would have made a chicken salad sandwich a couple years ago with only two minor changes.  I used chickpeas instead of chicken and I used vegan mayo instead of real mayo.  Other than that, feel free to use your favorite version of spices and sauce.  Use it like you would a chicken salad, too.  Serve on bread or toast, in a pita, on greens for a salad, on crackers for an appetizer, etc. etc. etc.

This is the one I made last night.  It took less than 5 minutes from thought to plate.  SUPER SIMPLE.  SUPER FAST.  SUPER CHEAP.  SUPER YUMMY. 

    It's so super it should wear a cape

(Notes: One can of chickpeas makes about 4 pita pocket sandwiches.  These are approximate amounts since I didn't really measure anything.  Taste and adjust to your liking.)

1 can Chickpeas, fork mashed
1/4 c. vegan mayo (Vegenaise)
1-2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 T. celery, finely chopped
2 T. onion, finely chopped
1/2 t. paprika
Sea Salt
Pepper, freshly ground

Mix all together. Best if you refrigerate it for a short while before serving to let the flavors blend.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Even My Husband Can Make These Pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes

It's no secret that my hubby is GREAT in the kitchen.  Too bad he can't cook, though! (Ba dum dum!)

But even my husband can make these pumpkin muffins.  They are so easy it's embarrassing.  I got this recipe from a friend and have made it a hundred times since then.  People always ask for the recipe and I try to make it sound like they are something really fancy.  No.  They are not. They have only two ingredients.


These can be made into muffins by adding a simple glaze, maple glaze, orange glaze, etc. or streusel topping.  Add in pecans if you like.  Or you can top 'em off with a little cream cheese frosting and call them cupcakes.
I really like them with the pecans mixed in the batter and the maple glaze on top (just mix real maple syrup into powdered sugar slowly until a good glaze consistency). I make them mini size and they just pop right in your mouth all on their own.  Make them as bars with cream cheese frosting and they'll be a huge hit at your next church potluck.  I even made it as a bundt cake once and drizzled orange glaze over the top for a little get together with friends.  (Don't tell them how easy it is.)

Start with the basic two ingredients and jazz it up however you like.  I made mine tonight with a pecan streusel topping.  I spent 4 minutes prepping and 20 minutes playing on facebook while these baked. And now they are all ready for a quick breakfast in the morning, which is good since my husband needs to leave early for a work meeting and I'm on my own to feed the kids.

These are vegan--the cake mix I used contains no egg or dairy products.  Be sure to read the label if you are concerned about either of those ingredients.  I used a vegan butter in my streusel. 

All vegan.  All yummy.  All easy.  It's all good! 

One note:  These are actually better if you make them ahead and let them sit overnight or for a few hours.  They are a little dry right out of the oven but get more moist as the day goes on.

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 box spice cake mix

Mix together well and cook according to directions on box for cake, muffins, etc.  Normal size muffins usually take about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. vegan butter

Stir together the pecans, flour, oats and brown sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture is pea sized crumbs.  Sprinkle over muffins or cakes before baking.  (Also good with a drizzle of maple syrup added in.)

Gemelli Pasta and Brussels Sprouts with Dijon Vinaigrette

I got a great cookbook from my day care kids as a Christmas gift--Pampered Chef's The Vegetarian Table.  There's a whole section on vegan main dishes.  Awesome!!  My family immediately thumbed through it and marked a few pages they thought looked tasty. 

The first one we tested was "Gemelli & Brussels Sprouts with Dijon Vinaigrette." Only the recipe actual called for this to be served cold as a salad.  I made just a couple slight changes and served it up as a hot dish. My kids gave this one two thumbs up and ate up a huge batch of it. I would also highly recommend using this Dijon vinaigrette for other things, too.  It's really awesome.  I think this dressing would make a good cold salad.

I know what you're thinking--my family will not eat Brussels Sprouts!!  But give it a try.  We call them "green balls" here and my kids love them.  My son likes to buy them fresh when possible and help to clean and peel off the outside layer.  Actually, last night I was watching Food Network and there was a comment about how Dijon went so well with Brussels Sprouts.  The judges on the show were pleasantly surprised by how yummy they were prepared that way.  I plan to use this dressing on sprouts even without the pasta.

I cannot take credit for this recipe. I'm not trying to do that, I swear.  (Are there some sort of laws about stealing recipes and putting them on your blog?  Should I call a lawyer?)  I will print MY version of this recipe.  But I give full and complete credit to the good folks at Pampered Chef and to my sweet and wonderful child care family that gave me the book.

Oh, and Gemelli is a twisty pasta.  I suppose you could use rotini or fusilli if that's easier to find, but the gemelli is a great texture and I recommend trying to find it.

Okay, enough rambling for me.  Let's get to the recipe already!

16 oz. box of gemelli pasta (cook according to directions and reserve 1/2 c. pasta water at the end)
1-2 pounds fresh (or 2 bags frozen) Brussels Sprouts (trimmed and cleaned if using fresh)
1 large red onion

Juice from 2 lemons
1/3 c. Dijon Mustard
1/4 c. White Balsamic vinegar (original calls for apple cider, use what you have)
1 1/2 T. packed brown sugar
1 t. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 t. sea salt
2 1/2 T. olive (or canola) oil
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Slice onion thinly and cook slowly in small pan over medium heat until soft and sweet--this may take 10-15 minutes to caramelize them nicely.  Keep onions in pan.
Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper and oil.  Add to onions in pan and bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes.
Cook pasta according to directions, reserving 1/2 c. cooking water. Steam Brussels sprouts until crisp tender (or softer if you prefer) and season with salt and pepper. Toss Brussels sprouts with pasta and pasta water. Stir in onions and dressing.
Serve with pecans and dried cranberries for topping.

Baked Potato Soup (V and GF)

We had some really great baked potatoes yesterday smothered in creamed peas with baby onions.  So yummy!  But the potatoes were huge and I ended up with leftovers.  So today I've got a big pot of Baked Potato Soup on the stove heating up the house and making it smell soooooo good.

There are a lot of schools of thought when it comes to baking potatoes.  You can do yours however you like best.  But my favorite way is to rub them with a little olive oil, rub them down with coarse sea salt and bake in a hot oven (425 degrees) until potatoes are soft and skins are super crispy.  My family likes the texture of the skins this way.  I use the skins in the soup--just be sure to chop them small.  I think they add a great flavor and texture.  Feel free to spoon out your potatoes if you are not a skins kind of person.

2 large baked potatoes, chopped
2 large baked potatoes, mashed smooth (for thickening the soup--use potato flakes if you prefer)
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped (reserve a few tablespoons for topping/garnish)
1 bunch parsley, chopped (reserve a few tablespoons for topping/garnish)
6 c. vegetable broth
2 c. almond milk (or another unsweetened/unflavored vegan milk)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. Crushed red pepper (or more to taste)

Saute garlic and onion is a small amount of veggie broth just until soft but not browned.  Add in remaining broth and potatoes and chives. Season well with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Turn heat to low and stir in milk and mashed potatoes for thickening.  You may need more or less to achieve the thickness you prefer.  Heat through but do not boil once milk is added.  Serve with chives and parsley for topping.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Roasted Parsnips, Leeks and Carrots (GF and V)


1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into strips
1 lb. baby carrots
1 large leek, slice lengthwise and clean thoroughly then slice into 1 inch chunks
1/2 c. vegetable broth or stock
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Toss everything together on a large cookie sheet and cover loosely with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-45 minutes or until tender and just starting to brown.  Parsnips will get a little mushy when over cooked, so check often. 

 I serve these roasted veggies with cous cous, brown rice or potatoes and some fresh fruit. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beanie Weanies (GF and V)

I have no idea how we got on the conversation of Beanie Weanies this morning.  I think it started with weanies and progressed from there to my son asking if we could have Beanie Weanies for lunch.  The other daycare boy at my house said he had no idea what that meant. What kind of kid has never had Beanie Weanies?  I'm going to have a good long talk with that boy's parents.

So it's a kid-friendly pot of Beanie Weanies and Mini Tator Tots for lunch today. My favorite way to eat them is over a hunk of corn bread, but I got out-voted today. I don't really follow a recipe so much as a list of ingredients, so these are approximate amounts.  Taste it and adjust it to your liking.  I would normally put everything in a casserole dish and then bake it slow (or crock pot it).  I mix and match the beans, but this is what I had in the house today.

I hope this takes you back to your childhood!

1 large can vegetarian baked beans (I like Bush's)
1 can white beans (cannellinis, navy or butter beans)
1 can green beans and/or yellow wax beans
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. brown sugar
1-2 T. yellow mustard
(sometimes I add BBQ sauce, too, but my son doesn't like it so I left it out today)
Fresh ground black pepper

3-4 vegan hot dogs (I like Good Dogs, but Smart Dogs are good, too), chopped

Combine it all together in a large pan or soup pot.  Cook on low for about 45 minutes, stirring to make sure sugars don't burn/stick on the bottom.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuscan White Bean Soup (GF if using rice pasta)

I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but it is not mine.  I have it scratched on a piece of paper, so I'm sure I wrote it down off the internet somewhere. If it's YOUR recipe, let me know and I'll give proper credit where credit is due.  My kids and hubby really liked this one on a cold, rainy night yesterday.  I served it up with some fresh wheat bread and fresh fruit.  If you aren't a big fan of the rosemary, try Italian seasoning mix instead. If you like your soup less "soupy" and slightly thicker, try mashing a can of beans and adding that to the broth.

This soup is very simple and quick to make, so it worked great on a night when we had school conferences and swim practice.  And, as with all soup, it's better the next day.  I can't wait for lunch!


2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 green onions or 1 small onion, finely diced
6-8 cups vegan no-chicken broth or 6-8 cups vegetable stock
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans white beans (cannellini or navy beans, drained)
1 1/2 -2 cups whole wheat pasta shells
2 teaspoon rosemary or Italian seasoning
5-6 cups baby spinach (approx. one bag), cleaned and trimmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in 3 T. of the broth.  Add broth, tomatoes, beans and rosemary to pot, then season with black and red pepper. Bring to boil. Add pasta and cook 12 minutes. If the soup seems too thick for your liking add a bit more broth. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brown Rice with Veggies and Tahini Sauce, Eli's Miso Soup (both GF and Vegan)

I watched the movie "Forks Over Knives" (highly recommend you watch it, too!!) and immediately ordered the book to find some of the recipes from the show. I found one recipe for Steamed Veggies and Tofu with Brown Rice.  It looked really good, but I didn't have time or ingredients to make it just as listed.  So I "mommed" it a little bit, turning it into a fast and easy meal for a busy Monday night.

My son, Eli, loves miso soup from the sushi restaurants and decided to make his own version last night to go with our rice dish.  These two recipes are credited to others, but have our own personal touch to them. 

For those that are not familiar with Tahini, it is a sesame seed paste found with the health foods or sometimes with peanut and other nut butters.  It has a peanut butter-like flavor, and can be used as a peanut butter substitute for those with allergies. (A friend has used it to make puppy chow snack for kids with peanut allergies and said it was really good.) If you like peanut sauce at your local Asian restaurant, you will like this dish. 

1 1/2 c. brown rice
3 1/2 c. water for steaming
1/4 t. fine sea salt

Combine all in sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and let cook 45 minutes.  Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes.

1 large bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 brick firm tofu, cut into chunks or triangles

Steam veggies and tofu in steamer for about 8 minutes or until hot.

1/2 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. veggie broth or water (or more to make it "sauce" consistency)

Serve veggies on rice and drizzle with sauce.  Top with chopped green onion, pine nuts and/or sesame seeds.

5 c. water
3 green onions, chopped small
1 1/2 T. miso paste dissolved in 1/4 c. warm water
1 T. soy sauce
1/3 brick tofu, cut into tiny cubes
1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach

Bring water and onions to a boil for about 5 minutes.  Turn down heat to a low simmer, add miso, soy sauce and tofu and cook until hot. Do not boil. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Serve hot.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working on a meal plan

I'm working on a meal plan and thought I'd do a quick post with some ideas.  I'm not posting recipes today, just a list of ideas.  These are things my family will be eating in the next week or two (fall season in Iowa).  Some are recipes previously posted, some are just standards we like here.  I usually add fresh fruit and fresh veggies or salads to each meal to round it out.  If you see something that strikes you and you want the recipe, just send me a note and I'll get it posted for you.  Happy Cooking!

Mushroom Barley (posted March 8, 2011)

Mexican Casserole (layered black beans, refried beans, salsa, soy chorizo, vegan cheese, topped with green onions and olives)

Vegan Lasagna (using tofu ricotta--posted May 31, 2011, marinara sauce and lasagna noodles)

Chili (posted February 16, 2011) with Beer Bread

Potato Leek Soup (posted February 12, 2011) with Garlic Bread

Spinach Artichoke Pita Pizzas (May 16, 2011) with Salad

Tomato Basil Tart (puff pastry spread on a cookie sheet topped with tofu ricotta, fresh tomato slices, fresh basil and baked 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees) with Garbanzo Bean Salad

Tofu Foo Young with Rice, Edamame

Potato Veggie Soup (posted August 14, 2011) with Homemade Bread

Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread and Salad

"B"LT with Avocado Sandwiches

Mushroom Stroganoff over Noodles

Zucchini Bake (posted July 14, 2011) and Bean Salad

Pasta Pomodoro (posted June 23, 2011, I will add chickpeas to the recipe this time), Wilted Spinach Salad

Breakfast options for the meal plan include tofu scramble, waffles, baked oatmeal and pumpkin spice muffins as well as the ol' standards cereal and toast.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Vegan and GF)

I kind of had an itch to fool around in the kitchen tonight. (Best sarcastic/inappropriate comment wins free vegan muffins.)  And fooling around in the kitchen always makes me hungry!

My son has been bugging me for mac and cheese lately, so I thought I would give in and make him a batch.  But my hubby and I didn't want the dairy.  I started digging around in the pantry and frig to see what I had and what could I do with it.  I found a jar of roasted red peppers and thought that would make a good cream sauce.  But I was out of plain vegan milk and didn't think very vanilla would do the trick. So what could I do to make it creamy? 


I grabbed a brick of tofu and the blender and threw it all in.  I kept it fairly simple and it actually turned out pretty darn good.  Eli even grabbed a serving of it after he finished his "normal" mac and cheese.

Let me be clear about this.  I was NOT attempting to make some sort of mac and cheese substitute. This is mac, but with a pepper sauce instead of cheese.  Don't make it thinking you can pass it off for a box of the blue stuff (although the color is pretty close).

This is a completely made up recipe.  So if you think you can make it better, start messing around in the kitchen.  Just be sure to post pictures! ; )

(serves 4, GF if made with rice/corn pasta)

4 servings whole wheat or multi-grain macaroni, cooked according to package directions
(reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)

1/2 brick firm tofu
1 jar roasted red peppers (do not drain)
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 T. fresh basil
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper to taste

Place tofu and peppers in blender and blend until smooth.  Heat olive oil in pan and cook garlic and onion until soft but not brown. Add to onion, garlic, basil and seasonings to the pepper mix in blender.  Process for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth and creamy.  Pour back into fry pan and warm (do not boil).  Add cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to pan and toss to coat pasta.  Serve with fresh parsley and more crushed red pepper.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread (or Buns or Rolls)

It's that time of year when I get the itch to bake and bake and bake.  Then this weekend I was asked to substitute teach Sunday School and the lesson was on the parable of the yeast (Matthew 13:33).  I had the Sunday School kids make Bread-in-a-Bag. That yummy yeast smell had me craving for some good buns. 

So I took my "regular" recipe for whole-wheat bread that I've used for years and then I veganed it up.  (Yes, "to vegan" is a verb.  At least it is now.)  It turned out pretty well, but I wish I would have let it rise a bit longer on the last step.  Don't rush your dough.  It is sometimes an all day process (depending on temperature and humidity in your home), but it is worth it to smell that fresh bread baking.

The best part was my boys (the little ones and the big one) came home and went nuts over all that fresh baked, homemade goodness.  And I really enjoy me some boy lovin'!

I'll include both the Bread-in-a-Bag recipe that's fun for kids as well as my real recipe.  The real one makes 3 loaves of bread, so share one with a friend and throw one in the freezer for another day.  If you aren't a bread maker or haven't seen it done, let me know and I can talk you through it a little more.  Don't be intimidated, it's really not that difficult. 

BREAD IN A BAG (each bag makes 2 rolls)

1 qt size ziplock bag
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon rapid rising yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients together in bag.

Add: 1 tablespoon oil
1/3 cup hot tap water

IN CLASS: Mix and knead until dough forms a ball in bag. Let rest for 30 minutes.
AT HOME WITH AN ADULT HELPING: Turn dough out of bag and knead again.  Divide in half and form 2 rolls. Let rise until doubled in size.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and b
ake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.


3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 t. rapid rise yeast
3 T. cup honey or agave nectar
3 c. all-purpose or bread flour
2 c. whole wheat flour

3 T. oil
3 T. brown or white sugar
1 T. salt
3 ½ (or more) cups whole wheat flour

2 T. butter (vegan), melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and honey. Add 3 cups white bread flour and 2 c. whole wheat flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons oil, sugar, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour.

Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves (or 24 balls for buns, or 36 small balls for rolls). Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans (or on greased cookie sheet) and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch (or doubled in size).

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes for loaf bread (10-15 minutes for buns); do not over bake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

(Note: Sometimes I brush with butter before baking. This helps it to brown a bit more.  Be careful not to puncture the dough when brushing with butter since that will cause the dough to fall.)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

NOT Sesame Chicken -- Crispy TOFU with Broccoli and Sesame Sauce

Every time I see sesame chicken, I think of my sweet nephews.  They love it, and so does my family.  They love the crunch and the sweet sauce.  It's really a great dish and something I've tried and tried to "vegan up" for a long time.  I've messed with this sauce recipe for months trying to duplicate what we have at restaurants, and I think I've finally come pretty close.

This last week, my family went to our favorite local restaurant, The Mandarin.  On a whim I asked our waitress if the cook might consider making sesame chicken with tofu instead of meat.  She thought about it a while and then scratched some notes on her little order pad.  And what showed up at our table was SUPER YUMMY!  We loved it and it inspired me to try it again here at home.  Made it last night and not one drop was left.  As a matter of fact, they dug in so quickly I didn't even get a picture.  I will try it again and post a pic when I can.  Give it a try!

Clean and cut one head broccoli into large florets. Steam broccoli for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Crispy tofu:
Oil for frying
One block firm or extra-firm tofu cut into bite size squares or triangles, drained on a paper towel
1/2 c. corn starch
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. white pepper
Mix the ginger and pepper in the cornstarch and coat tofu pieces well with mixture. Heat enough oil in a fry pan or wok to come halfway up the chunks of tofu.  Fry tofu in hot oil for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.

3 T. Honey or Agave Nectar
2 T. Sugar (white or brown)
2 T. Ketchup
1 T. Vinegar (white, apple or rice)
1 T. Soy Sauce
1/2 t. Sesame Oil
1/4-1/2 t. chili sauce (optional, to taste)
Mix everything together in small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Let boil 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling on top.
1-2 green onions (optional, sliced at an angle for garnish)

Plate tofu and broccoli and drizzle with sauce.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cut green onions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fruited Rice Pilaf (GF and V)

A few years ago I was waiting in the doctor's office after crunching my wrist on a heavy bag workout.  I saw an advertisement for raisins that had this recipe.  I attempted to dig through my purse for a scrap of paper and a pen, and then attempted to write it down with my hand all swollen and purple.  I'm sure I looked like a freak, but I can't help it. 

Hello. My name is Nanette and I'm addicted to recipes. 

Whew.  Feels good to get that off my chest. Anywho....A super nice nurse stood and grinned at me and then finally came over and offered to make a copy of the recipe.  Actually, she told me I should just rip the page out of the magazine.  But I couldn't do that--it's just wrong.  Then she offered to make a copy.  I still have that copy and have made additional copies for friends. 

I made only a few minor changes to this recipe to make it vegan (like not making it with chicken as the recipe states).  My daycare kids seem to like this one since it is a little on the sweet side.  I love it, but the rest of my family doesn't.  I usually just make a small batch.  It works well as a side dish, but I like to add tofu chunks and make it my main dish.  This is also one of those dishes where I use (gasp!) Minute Rice.  It is quick and easy and I can throw it in a pan and let it cook while I get my daycare kids washed up and ready to eat.

2 T. soy sauce
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 c. Minute Rice, brown rice
2 c. veggie broth
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. coriander (cilantro)
8 oz. dried Fruit Bits
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley or 2 T. dried

Put all ingredients EXCEPT rice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add rice, stir, cover and set heat to medium low.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Turn heat off and let sit 5 minutes more.  Stir before serving.

If using real rice instead of Minute rice, adjust broth to rice ratio and cook according to package directions.

Peanut Butter Craving! PB Cookies (GF and V) and PB Balls (GF and V)

I started making these peanut butter cookies when I needed a gluten-free treat for my father-in-law.  I found the original recipe in a free magazine I got in the mail.  But, in true Nanette fashion, I messed with it.  So this final recipe is one that my family really enjoys and I make these often just because they are easy and they really are very good.  Eli likes to help press them with forks to make the "crissy-crossy" pattern on them, but it's not necessary.

I took these to the swim banquet potluck this past weekend and they were a big hit.  A mom there has a GF kid at home and took a bunch with her since they freeze well. 

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES (Gluten-Free and Vegan)
1 egg substitute (I use Bob's Mill)
1 cup peanut butter (I use super crunch)
1 cup sugar (divided)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
(chopped peanuts, choc chips, other nuts, M&Ms, etc. if you want add ins)

Mix peanut butter, 3/4 cup sugar, egg substitute, soda and vanilla together well. Scoop or roll into balls and then roll balls in additional sugar. Place balls on baking sheet. If you want, you can press them with the back of a fork to make marks on them. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.  (I like to bake them a minute short and then leave them on the pan for a minute or two to keep them chewier.)

I remember my mom having a cook book that my big brother made in elementary school.  It was made with green construction paper and the binding was a length of red yarn.  The kids in his class had written out their favorite recipes and then the book was given to parents as a gift.  I loved that cook book.  It was the first in a long line of cook books, and is probably to blame for my cook book obsession. 

There was a recipe in that book for peanut butter rice crispie balls.  I loved them.  More than just the really tasty snack, I loved getting my hands all sticky and then rolling the balls in the soft powdered sugar. I loved making a mess with my mom.  And I still prefer to cook with my hands and a wooden spoon.  I so very rarely get out the mixer, just because I love the sensory experience of baking.  If you love a yummy treat and don't mind getting a little dirty in the kitchen, this is a great recipe.  I sent it to school with Eli a couple weeks ago as a teacher snack, and they seemed to enjoy them.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
2 cup peanut butter
4 1/2 cups rice crispie cereal
Powdered sugar for rolling (in a large tupperware or ziplock)

Get all your ingredients ready and measured before starting.  This one goes fast and you don't want them to cool too much before you are done rolling.  Because of that, I also recommend making individual batches instead of doubling or tripling the recipe from the beginning. 

In a saucepan, stir the sugar and syrup together and cook just until it comes to a boil.  Let boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and quickly stir in vanilla and peanut butter and then the cereal.  Being careful of the heat, roll tightly into bite-size balls.  Roll in powdered sugar. Let cool and serve.

Keep in mind that the longer you boil the corn syrup mix, the crispier/crumblier the texture.  They will be chewy if you only boil the mixture a short time.  Also, keep them covered to prevent them from getting too crumbly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My kid cooked tonight!

My hubby and I were busy staining our deck this evening when the kids asked, "What's for supper?"  I told them I wasn't sure and that they'd have to wait just a bit until I could get to a stopping point.  My son, Eli, says, "I'll cook!" We talked about it a little bit, I listed off a few ingredients we had around the house, and he finally just decided he would rummage around and see what looked good.

It's no secret I'm proud of my kids.  I'm in awe every day at how great they are.  So I don't know why I surprised to find such an amazing supper cooked 100% by my 9-year-old son.  That kid rocks.  Seriously.  And not just because he's mine.  He really, really, truly rocks.
He made this meal with minimal help and supervision. He did come outside a couple times to ask a few questions:

"What temperature for the garlic bread?" 
"Is it pecans or walnuts that I like with green balls?" 
 "What's that brown tomato sauce called?" 

I answered and checked in a couple times, but this was his masterpiece.  And, honestly, it was one of the best meals I've ever eaten!  

Tonight's menu was Corn on the Cob, Tomato and Basil Salad, Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts, and Garlic Bread. 

The corn was buttered (vegan, of course). The salad had tomatoes from a friend's garden with fresh basil he picked himself, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (that's the brown tomato sauce).  The Brussels sprouts were cleaned and tossed with walnuts, butter, salt and pepper.  And the garlic bread had butter, garlic, and parsley he picked himself. 

Yes, I let him use the super sharp tomato knife and I let him use the gas stove and the oven.  As my hubby says, "How else will he learn knives are sharp and fire is hot?" 
Eating vegan is not only healthy, but it really is quick and easy and very tasty.  This meals proves it.  A few simple ingredients made with a whole bunch of love makes a pretty great meal. I am so very blessed to have such a great family. And I'm so proud of my little sweet potato!  THANKS, BIG GUY!!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black Bean Soup (Vegan and GF) and Apple Cake (Vegan)

Black Bean Soup in a Bread Bowl
I really thought I had posted both of these recipes previously, but I can't seem to find them on this blog.  Maybe I'm just blog blond, I don't know. 

Some of you already have a Black Bean Soup recipe from me.  I have several varieties that I make, but this is the most requested around here.  I much prefer to use dried beans that I've re hydrated overnight, but here in the real world I often times just grab a can out of the pantry.  This soup is pretty quick to put together.  Serve with chips or bread and fresh veggies on the side.  I like my soup full of hot peppers, but I usually just chop them and let everyone add their own.  I prefer it blended, but I can go both ways.

The Apple Cake is a "heart-healthy" version and is great for breakfast.  It is a dense sort of coffee cake when finished.  The brown sugar topping gives it a nice sweetness, so feel free to cut back on the sugar in the actual cake. It's best if you let it cool a bit, otherwise the texture is a little mushy.  It works well to bake this the night before and have it ready for a nice breakfast or brunch.  We had some kids sleepover last night and they devoured this cake for breakfast with some fresh oranges and mangoes.

2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper plus 1/2 green pepper (or 1 whole pepper of your choice), diced
1 small white onion
2 c. vegetable broth + 1-2 c. water
1 T. oregano
1 T. cumin
1 bay leaf
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Juice from 1 large orange
Salt and pepper to taste
Cornstarch for thickening (optional)
Jalapenos or green onion for topping at serving time (optional)

Soften the onion, pepper and garlic in the olive oil.  Don't let them brown. Add in the broth, seasonings and beans.  Add just enough extra water to cover the beans.  Simmer together for about 20-30 minutes and then remove the bay leaf.

Smooth version, pureed in blender
 SMOOTH texture soup:  Put small batches of the soup in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the orange juice at the end.  Thicken if needed (may not need to be depending on texture from beans) with cornstarch and water. Re season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chunky texture, beans left whole
CHUNKY texture soup: L eave the beans whole and just squeeze in the orange juice. Thicken with 1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 c. water.  Let boil for about 2 minutes.
Top with chopped jalapenos or green onion at serving time.

2 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3 apples, cored and chopped finely (I leave skins on, your choice)
1/2 c. applesauce
2 servings egg substitute
1 1/2 c. sugar (I use far less if the applesauce is sweetened)

For Topping:
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. whole-wheat flour
1/2 c. oats
3 T. vegan butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13" pan with cooking spray.  Mix together the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a small bowl, mix together the egg substitute, apples, applesauce and sugar.  Fold the wet into the dry until it is just moistened.  It will make a thick batter.  Pour into prepared cake pan.

For topping, cut butter into the dry ingredients until it is a crumbly mixture.  Sprinkle on top of cake. 

Bake cake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Simple Sides

I often times like to make a meal out of side dishes.  For a meal, I start with a grain--good bread, brown rice, simple butter and herb pasta, quinoa, cous cous or a baked potato or baked sweet potato.  Then two or three simple veggies and it's a meal.  Depending on what we've had during the day, I may add in a side of beans or bean salad as a protein, and maybe some fresh fruit if I've got it.

None of these is particularly difficult or fancy.  But they are good because they fall in that category of "God makes good food."  I sometimes wonder if God is insulted because we take really good produce and then butcher it with too much fat and salt and mess it all up. So I try to just use a couple fresh, simple ingredients. Put together, they make for some super tasty meals.

Keep in mind that most veggies are good raw.  Just clean and cut.  Kids love to choose and munch, so add three or four different raw veggies on a plate for them to pick.  And do something besides the ol' standby of carrots and celery. Yellow cherry tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, edamame, kohlrabi sticks, rutabaga, parsnip, turnips, colored cabbages, colored cauliflower (yellow, orange, purple), colored carrots (purple and yellow).  The list goes on and on.  My kids even like lima beans (buy frozen and just thaw).  They eat them up like nuts.

Most veggies are good with a simple steam or quick saute.  Add in a fresh herb, fresh minced garlic or ginger, crushed red pepper.  Toss with toasted pine nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts or pecans for a different flavor and some added crunch.  Just plain old salt and pepper is good, too. 

Just try to keep it simple and as close to natural as possible.  Be careful not to overcook your veggies since that causes them to lose their great color and texture. 

An example of supper at our house: Flatbread, Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Pecans, Red and Yellow Cherry Tomatoes with Sugar Snap Peas (raw), and Fresh Fruit.

Wash your potato or sweet potato.  Rub outside with olive oil and sea salt.  Bake at 450 degrees for 45-60 minutes until soft to squeeze.
Wash you potato or sweet potato and then wrap in plastic wrap.  Cook in the microwave on high for 7-10 minutes depending on the size of potato and your microwave.
I obviously prefer the baked method with that great, crispy skin.  But I do microwave occasionally for a quick meal.

Slice baby red potatoes in half and boil just until tender.  Strain, add a little melted butter (vegan) and a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.  You could also saute a little minced garlic in the butter before adding it to the potatoes just for a little more flavor.

In a fry pan with olive oil, saute together zucchini spears or slices, a little onion and/or garlic, and some rehydrated sun dried tomatoes.  Saute until zucchini is crisp tender, about 4-5 minutes. I also like to just add a spoon or two of sun dried tomato bruschetta spread instead of rehydrating the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a fry pan with olive oil, saute snow peas and slices of red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers (sweet peppers) for just 2-4 minutes.  You want them heated through, but still crisp. Salt and pepper and chives/green onions on top.

Cut fresh carrots into spears or pennies and steam until crisp tender.  Melt a little vegan butter on top and toss in some fresh or dried dill. Salt and pepper to taste. (My daycare kids love these carrots!)

Steam fresh green beans until crisp tender.  Toss with a little melted vegan butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You could toss with toasted almond slices, too, if you like.

Cut carrots and/or parsnips into chunks.  Saute in a fry pan in olive oil until they just start to brown. Add a little veggie broth or water (about 1/4 cup for enough parsnips to cover bottom of pan) and about 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup. Turn heat to low and cover.  Cook about 8 minutes until tender.  Remove the lid and turn heat to high.  Stir until glaze begins to thicken.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Slice mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, squash or whatever you have into large, flat slices about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Brush with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until just tender (time varies depending on the veggie).  Sprinkle with fresh herbs--basil, thyme, or mix of Italian seasoning.

You can use butternut, acorn, pumpkin, patty pan or any other winter squash.  I cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.  Then wrap each half in plastic wrap and microwave until soft throughout.  Half an acorn squash takes about 10 minutes, butternut takes about 15, pumpkin depends on the size.  Just go at about 4 minute intervals and keep turning it over so it heats evenly.  Then let it sit in the microwave for 5 minutes at the end of cook time.
When cool enough to handle, simply spoon the flesh out into a bowl and either fork mash or use a blender to mash.  Add a little vegan butter, brown sugar and/or maple syrup while mashing. Salt and pepper to serve.

I think a lot of people don't stir-fry because they think it takes a lot of ingredients.  What we get at restaurants is chuck full of different veggies.  But at home, I often just stir-fry one or two veggies.  I start with a little oil (olive, canola, sesame, etc.) in the pan, add 1 or 2 veggies for just a minute or two, then top with chopped garlic and crushed red pepper.  Good with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, celery, snow peas, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, cabbage, leeks, even greens like spinach. Try it with fresh grated ginger instead of the garlic for a new flavor.  Keep it simple and quick.  Usually takes longer to clean and cut a veggie than to cook it!  This one is also good for those kids that don't like their food to touch other food.  Stir-fry one at a time in the same pan for 3-4 easy veggies that the family can mix and match.  I do this and serve with brown rice or sushi rolls.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

French Toast Varieties (milk mix is GF)

French Toast made with Wheat Raisin Bread
I really thought when I went vegan I would just have to live the rest of my life without French Toast.  I have always loved French Toast and it is by far my favorite breakfast dish, but I was willing to give it up in the name of good health in an effort to influence my family.  But I was perusing Ellen DeGeneres' new website Going Vegan with Ellen,  found a recipe for Pecan Crusted French Toast and was truly inspired.

First of all, I want to thank Ellen for being an out and proud vegan.  I love to see more and more famous people come out of the closet and live true to their vegan selves.  It makes it easier on the rest of us who have been living in secret for too long.  It helps our families to see that we aren't freaks or hippies or weirdos, we are just people who want to live our lives without ingesting animal products.  And that's okay.

So where was I?  Oh yeah, I love French Toast.  My kids love French Toast.  And I love to serve up special versions of French Toast for guests or brunches.  So I started experimenting with some of the recipes I've found online and in cook books.  I admit, though, that I like Ellen's version the best.  I only tweaked it a tiny bit to create the standard milk mixture for French Toast, and then I built on her recipe for my baked versions.  I totally give credit to her website for these recipes.  Thanks again, Ellen!

KID NOTE: I use any leftover milk mixture to make boring French Toast.  Let it cool and put it in the freezer.  My kids eat it like a toaster waffle--just pull it out of the freezer, pop it in the toaster and then dip in syrup for a quick school day breakfast.  That way they get a good breakfast and I don't waste food.

GLUTEN FREE NOTE:  The milk mixture used for all of these is a Gluten-Free mix.  I have only limited experience with GF breads, but I think you could make this work if you soak it for a while first.  It may require a little more milk than other breads, too.  I'd be curious to hear from you if you've tried it. 

MAPLE SYRUP NOTE:  I buy the sugar-free syrup for my kids and daycare kids for regular boring days.  But I use the expensive REAL maple syrup for weekends and guests.  It makes a world of difference.  Well worth the price.

BUTTER NOTE:  I like the Best Life butter sticks for this one.  It doesn't actually say it's vegan on the package, but I think it is.  If not, then it has "less than 2%" of anything non-vegan and I don't really worry about that.  In my opinion, it tastes better than the Earth Balance.  We also like the Smart Balance Lite.

1 1/2 c. soy or rice milk (non flavored)
3 T. cornstarch
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. nutmeg
6 T. brown rice flour
Whisk all together until smooth and no lumps.

Dip slices of bread in milk base before cooking on a greased griddle.  Use vegan butter, canola oil, coconut oil, or whatever oil you prefer. This mixture sticks a little bit, so wait to turn it until it is browned and comes off the pan easily.  Serve with maple syrup, flavored syrup, fruit or powdered sugar on top.

Try different types of bread such as Wheat-Raisin, Apple Bread (great bread from Dutch Oven in Ames), or even quick breads like banana or pumpkin.  Try bagels or English muffins.
Also, you could add a little more flavor to the milk mixture.  Stir in 2 T. of amaretto or spiced rum, or try 1 t. almond extract or orange extract instead of the vanilla.

Dip your bread in the milk mixture and then dip just one side in finely chopped pecans to coat it.  Cook pecan side down (use plenty of vegan butter or coconut oil to prevent burning/sticking), then flip carefully and cook the other side.  Watch your nuts carefully so they don't burn!  I like this version made with the Wheat Raisin Bread.

2 T. maple syrup or corn syrup
1/2 c. vegan butter (I like Best Life)
1 c. brown sugar
About 10-12 slices bread, crusts cut off
Milk mixture (from above)

Cook syrup, butter and brown sugar over low heat just until all combined and sugar is melted completely.  Pour mixture into a 9x13" pan (or two smaller pans) that has been sprayed with Pam cooking spray. 

(You will need to flip these pans over when they are very hot, so plan accordingly with your pans! I find it's easier to flip two 8x8" pans than to try to flip a big one. I also like to make two smaller ones so I can add nuts to one and leave the other plain. Be careful since that caramel mix will stick to you and burn.)

Place bread over the top of the syrup mix, layering as needed.  Pour milk mixture over the top and cover pan with plastic wrap.  Let sit in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, remove plastic wrap and cover with foil.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to cook another 5-20 minutes until bread is cooked and not totally mushy (time depends on the type of bread you use).

Once out of the oven, immediately flip pan over onto a baking sheet and let the caramel drizzle down over the top.  Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Use the same method as the Baked Caramel, except sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans in the syrup mixture before topping with the bread.  Use good french bread with the crusts removed.  Serve with real maple syrup and a big platter of fresh fruit.  Yum!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whatev Pasta--Penne with Peppers, 'Shrooms and Cannellinis (vegan, GF if using rice pasta)

I wasn't going to post tonight's supper because it was a quick throw together kind of meal.  It was the Whatev Pasta (previous post February 16, 2011) with some leftover ingredients I had around the house.  But my family said they loved it and want me to write this one down. 

I won't write down the whole process since you can look it up on the February post.  I used the saute method (one pan) with the following list of ingredients:

Garlic, onion, red pepper, orange pepper, mushrooms, diced tomatoes (canned, drained), cannellini beans (canned, drained), fresh basil, tomato paste (about 2 T.), cooking wine (about 2 T.), not-chicken broth (about 1/4 c.), salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning.
Toss with whole-wheat penne pasta. Top with Veggie Shreds vegan mozzerella cheese. 
I pretty much just dumped everything but the pasta and cheese in a big saute pan and cooked it down while the pasta boiled.  Then tossed it together to serve.
We ate our pasta tonight with some warm Italian bread and some fresh grapes, orange slices and blueberries.  Nothing fancy, but the family really enjoyed it. They love those cannellini beans because they give a good, buttery creaminess to any dish without actually adding any dairy. 
Let me know if you've made any good combinations of Whatev!

KID VERSION: Teriyaki Stir Fry OR Teriyaki Kebabs (vegan and GF)

I had planned on making kebabs with the daycare kids today, but none of them wanted to help cook.  They were far too interested in the new Legos and I couldn't tear them away.  So I ended up just tossing everything together in a stir fry.  Same ingredients either way, so you choose if you want it in a pan or on a stick!

I would spice this up a whole lot more if it were for a nice dinner, but this is the 10 minute "kid-friendly" version that they help cook.  Feel free to add garlic, ginger, hot sauce, etc. if you prefer.  You may also want to add a little cornstarch to the sauce before cooking if you like it a little thicker.

2 T. oil for stir frying
1 pkg extra firm Tofu, cut into 1" chunks
1/2 white onion, cut into 1" chunks
1 green pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 yellow or red pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 pkg button mushrooms, cut in halves
1 can pineapple chunks, reserve the liquid
1/4 - 1/2 c. teriyaki sauce (your favorite store bought version)
Brown Rice

STIR FRY:  Brown the tofu and onion in oil and then add the other veggies.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until peppers are crisp tender.  Mix the reserved pineapple juice with the teriyaki and pour over tofu and veggies.  Toss in pineapple and heat just a minute or two until warm.  Serve over brown rice.

KEBABS:  Skewer the tofu, veggies and pineapple onto skewers.  Grill or brown in a pan with oil, turning occasionally to brown all sides.  Brush with teriyaki/pineapple juice liquid often during cooking.  Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mexi-Stuffed Peppers

I had some leftover Mexican rice from supper the other night and some fresh peppers growing in our little box garden.  So, WA-LA! Stuffed peppers!  (Side note: one of the peppers is from our "super hot" plant, but we didn't remember which one it was after we got them inside.  We'll have to wait and see who the lucky winner is at supper!)

This isn't so much a recipe, so I'll just walk through it quickly with some pics. 

Step 1: Peppers
I cut the tops off the sweet peppers and sliced the banana peppers down the side, then pulled out the ribs and seeds (be careful of pepper oils on your fingers, you may want to wear gloves).  Use whatever kind of peppers you like.

Step 2: Stuffing
I used leftover rice, corn, red beans, diced tomatoes and some browned Soyrizo (fake chorizo that's actually pretty good). 

Step 3: Stuff It
(do I really need to explain this?!?)

Step 4: Top it
I used the vegan cheese substitute here because that's what I had in the house.  Use what you like.

Step 5: Bake it
I baked these at about 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Step 6: Sauce it (optional)
I made my friend Casey's hot sauce because I love it.  You could use any enchilada sauce (red or green), cheese sauce, or salsa.  Or you could just eat them without the sauce.  I like to serve the peppers on top the sauce just because it looks prettier that way.

Step 7: Eat it!

Nanette's Breakfast Cookies (scones)

I have tried many recipes for "healthy" cookies for my kids and my daycare kids.  This one works well and makes a ton.  Freezes great, so I love to make a huge batch and then just have them ready to go when I need a quick breakfast or snack.  Change up your optional additions to fit your family's tastes.  These end up much more like a scone in texture, so you can shape them into scones if you like.  I love them for dipping into my coffe or hot tea.

Breakfast cookies--some baked with cinnamon and sugar on top, some with cinnamon glaze after baking.

These are also very high in fiber and extremely low in fat.  Enjoy!

1-1 ¼  cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
4 cups flour (I use whole-wheat, you can do half wheat, half white if you like)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce (or more)
2 tablespoons water (or more)
3 servings egg replacer
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 apples, finely grated
3/4 cup raisins, optional
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and pour in the canola oil, applesauce, water, egg replacer, grated apple and vanilla. Mix until well blended. These make a chunky, somewhat dry dough. You may need to stir in a little more water or applesauce as needed just to bring it all together. Stir in the raisins, walnuts and apricots. Roll dough into golf-ball sized balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets and flatten to 1/2 tall with wet hands. These cookies do not flatten very much while baking. I also like to sprinkle mine with a little cinnamon and sugar on top before baking (or drizzle with glaze afterwards).

In the preheated oven, bake 8 minutes for chewier cookies (undercook and leave on the tray to cool) or 10 to 20 minutes for dry cookies (more like a scone texture the longer you cook them). Cookies will not get crisp. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.  Refrigerate or freeze.

NOTES:  I like the texture of whole-wheat flour, but it may take some getting used to if your family hasn’t had it a lot. I have also added wheat germ or flax (and add a little more applesauce).

I like these best with apples and raisins, or I’ve used dried blueberries and slivered almonds, or craisins and almonds. I really like to use the dried Fruit Bits that has a mixture of lots of fruits.  This makes a GINORMOUS batch, but they freeze very well.  I just take a few out and move them to a Ziploc at night so they are ready to grab quick in the morning.