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2.27.2010

Aunt Lizzie's Celtic Creations Review

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

A while back I received some samples from Elizabeth Sabo, owner and creator of Aunt Lizzie's Celtic Creations, which is a Michigan operated spice, rub, and dip company. All products are hand-blended with natural ingredients & no MSG. Yay for that! MSG is a POISON that is toxic to our bodies. I happen to be allergic to it, so I took advantage of trying this delicious product. Anyway, I was happy to samples goddies from a native Michigander!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
This past week I had a chance to try the Garlic Lover's Dip seasoning that calls to be mixed with sour cream and mayonnaise. Instead, I decided to use cream cheese for my guests and Tofutti cream cheese for myself for lunch later. I made a cheeseball and served it with delicious crackers.

The guests ranted and raved on the flavor. By the end of the Bible study, the ladies had almost eaten the whole cheeseball. No shame in that! It was shared among them!

I later had some of the Tofutti version and it was delicious! There was a variety of seasonings that kept begging for another bite. Ms. Sabo describes it this way:

"If you love garlic, this is the one for you. This dip is a mouth wakening experience. Try mixing it with cream cheese to spread on a bagel. Or add to melted butter and mix into a pasta or spread on bread for amazing garlic toast. Also a great addition to any marinade or dry rub"

So not only is it great as a dip, it is great for other recipes! I think it would be delicious with dipping oil too.

Make sure you visit her site:
Aunt Lizzie's Celtic Creations

Also add her on your twitter: http://twitter.com/Aunt_Lizzies


From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Giveaway! There is still time to enter to win the Bodum French Press: http://cookingforaveganlover.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/csngiveaway/

2.26.2010

Coconut Curry Soup with Rice Noodles

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


I could not help myself, but I had to squeeze another blogpost because this soup recipe was SOOO good! It has been very bleak and gray out here in Michigan. I headed out to school with Ryan this morning and made sure I had my great pair of snow boots on.

I got these babies during the summer and have not turned back since. Being a native Texas (ha ha) I was afraid I was going to freeze up in these parts. Well, that has not been the case. It just gets plain NASTY outside. Who wants to be driving in sloshy, skiddy, and slippery. But do you know what made today much more different than any snowy day in Michigan? The snow wind!!!!


Today, of all days, I decided to wear glasses instead of contacts. What a major mistake. So there was a great wind and then that picked up the 10 inches of snow lying around the whole city. It made for an interesting morning indeed!

Well, why do we not say afternoon and evening. My husband decided to go sledding tonight with a friend and his kids. I decided not to get sick today. I am an adventurous one, but seeing how messy and windy it was, I decided to take a rain check.

I knew that when my husband returned, he would be soaked through and through, which he was, so I decided to make a delicious HOT soup. By hot I mean, in flavor and in heat. There is a great noodle resturant that makes a delicious coconut curry soup that I like, but I have not been there in a while. This is the soup that called out my name. I had leftover rice noodles from a stirfry last night, so I decided to add it to my soup.

Now, I know that many recipes for this soup call for fish broth or fish sauce, but since this was the first time trying this recipe, I decided to look for one that I could work with on my own. When I found it, it called out to me saying "I am the one, make me!" Seriously! This soup was perfect for the soup craving I was having. I convinced my husband he would like it....I mean convinced the person who does not prefer to have soup as a meal. He handled it well. I changed several thing in the recipe. Since we had tofu last night I left that out. Other than that,
I served this mean soup with whole wheat sourdough bread. YUM!

Please enjoy this delicious soup sometime this weekend!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Coconut Curry Soup with Rice Noodles

adapted from Cooking Light

serves 4

2 tablespoons Tropical Traditions coconut oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup Thai Kitchen red curry paste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 (13.5-ounce) cans light coconut milk
1 vegan bouillon cube, unsalted
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
6 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 carrots, thinly sliced carrot
1 1/2 cups snap peas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups soaked rice noodles

Prior to soup preparation, soak 1/2 inch thick dry noodles (about 4 ounces or 1/3 of a big bag of noodles. Soak in warm water for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds or until lightly browned.

Add curry paste; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add brown sugar; cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, broth, juice, ginger, and soy sauce.

Heat on medium heat until it simmers or a light boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Add carrots; cook for 10 minutes. Add beans, and cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Drain noodles and add to soup and cook for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Cinnamon-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Scones and Giveaway announced!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
This week went faster than I can remember any other week! I mean, I barely had time to blog this week! Makes me sad because that means I am WAY behind all the yummy meals and reviews I have completed. Well, one day at a time right?

This past Tuesday I was blessed to host a Bible Study at my home. There were several ladies who attended from my church and we had a great time! I love hosting and being hospitable, which means I get to bake or cook. I know it is not always required to make anything but there is something physically available, like food, that brings people alot closer together. This is of course, my opinion.

When I knew these women were coming, I looked at a list of recipes of baked goods that I been wanting to try, especially, or veganize. I found the perfect recipe made by Jen Schall at
My Kitchen Addiction, a recipe that was adapted from King Arthur Flour's website. I made it the night before so that I could make sure that the recipe turned out, especially since I was veganizing the recipe.

I had been to the supermarket and purchased groceries earlier that evening, but when I got home I realized I was out of oats. AHH! I had even made a grocery list, but somehow the oats had not crossed my mind. Never you mind, because this is where my creative itch came into play. I only had 1/2 cup of oats and then I substituted 1/2 cup of oat flour for the other missing 1/2 cup oats. The original recipe also called for cinnamon chips, but most products have loads of corn syrup and dairy, so I used chocolate chips. Another winner!

You know why this recipe was good? It was good because my husband like it. He told me a while back that he dislike scones because they turned out SO dry and required loads and loads of coffee to down them. Well, this recipe is more a cross between and scone and a coffee cake, but I prefer to call them as the original recipe.

This recipe is a KEEPER!

BY the way The Glass Dharma winner has been announced! Kirsten @Kirsten's Kitchen has won this giveaway! Thanks for entering giveaway! Another one will be coming soon!


From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


Cinnamon-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Scones

12 servings

For the filling:
3 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery flavor, softened
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour

For the dough:
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup Pizzey's milled golden flax
1/3 cup vegan granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery flavor
6 ounces plain Soy yogurt
1/4 cup almond milk plus additional to brush on tops of scones
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top of scones

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a nine-inch non-stick cake pan. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling, using a fork to evenly incorporate the Earth Balance to form moist crumbs. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the dough – the rolled oats, the oat flour, white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, milled golden flax, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or your fingertips) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles sand.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients and the cinnamon chips to the dry ingredients. Use a fork to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry, just until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and use your hands to gently knead the dough and form it into a ball.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a disc that is the same diameter of the pan. Place one of the discs of dough in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Spread the prepared filling on top of the first disc.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Top with the second disc of dough, pressing down lightly to remove any air bubbles.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Use a knife to cut the scones into 12 wedges. These will expand so this is the perfect size. Brush with almond milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the scones for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Use a wire rack to flip the scones out of the pan, and then use a plate to invert the scones one more time so that they are right-side up.

Enjoy with some coffee. These are great warm and at room temperature.

Make sure to check out this giveaway!!

LoveVeggiesandYoga.com is Giving Away 3 Jars of Naturally Nutty Nut Butter @LoveVeggiesYoga http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2010/02/give-away-naturally-nutty-for-3-winners.html

2.23.2010

Zucchini-Portabella Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

We had a great Sunday at church this past week after a beautiful sunny weekend. I had signed up for nursery help so I took care of a little boy while his mom taught Sunday School. I always see it is as a challenge when a mother drops her child off and the child just starts crying bloody murder. How long will it take him to stop crying? Will I start crying with him? Ha ha ha, well I do not have children of my own yet, but I think I will continue asking myself these questions WHEN I have kids. Anyway, I coerced the little guy to build a railroad with Lego's and that was the end of the crying: 5 minutes! Not too bad I'd say. :)

After nursery and service, Ryan and I headed home and placed an apron over my Sunday clothes and started the meal. I usually feel like Sundays call for leftovers so I do not have to slave in the kitchen, but I have been taking every opportunity to whip up something quick and healthy. My refrigerator has been looking pretty bare but I was not going to let that scare me. Before I left for church, I took out a
red mole sauce I made back in November. Yes, I did say November, but it was perfectly fine after it had defrosted. Believe me! Delicious!

I took some Baby Bella mushrooms and zucchini and diced them a 1/2 inch thick and added them to some sauteed onions and garlic. Since the sauce was already semi-spicy and full of flavor I left the veggies alone. NO regrets after taking a bite because the sauce is savory on its own.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
I know that most restaurants serve their enchiladas with flour tortillas but if you want an authentic dish you must use corn tortillas. Corn tortillas are healthier, tastier, and more digestible. I accompanied the enchiladas with a green salad with avocado and lime vinaigrette, which soothed the tongue after taking several bites of this dish. Even though Ryan prefers beef with his enchiladas, he enjoyed them and thanked me for a lovely lunch.

After I picked up around the house, we took a Sunday nap, which meant I did not sleep a wink! I had too much energy so concentrated on doing things around the house before we had to get ready to head out for Ryan's concert for the First Sunday of Lent. MSU chorale performed Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass at a beautiful cathedral in Downtown Lansing. Every time we drive into Lansing it seems like we are in a complete different city, far away from ours. It just happens that we hardly ever have anything to do in that part of the city so it is nice to find a nice venue for a great concert.

After the concert, several of the chorale members went out to The Tap Room that is owned by Dusty's Cellar. Anyone remember this name? Yes. I wrote a
review describing how the restaurant had only ONE vegetarian option. Well, we happened to go to the pub that this company owns and we had a great dinner!

They had a Garden burger option, so I ordered that with sauteed mushrooms and onions along with some of their yummy fries. I split the fries with a girlfriend and she split her salad with me. Besides it being way too much food, the meal redeemed my bad experience at their finer restaurant. I also tried a beer sampler on tap consisting of 3-8oz beer of my choice. I am not a beer drinker, but since moving to Michigan Ryan and I find that there are many microbreweries around so why not support our local businesses? :) Great excuse!

SO this ends our great weekend. Enjoy this delicious enchilada recipe!


Zucchini-Portabella Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

makes 10 enchiladas (for 2 people)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 zucchini, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
4 baby portabella mushrooms, diced
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups red mole sauce (see recipe)
10 corn tortillas
Pepitas (Pumpkin seeds) or Sunflower seeds

Warm sauce over medium low heat.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic and fry for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

You do not want to overcook these vegetables, so that you will not have a mushy filling.

Warm tortillas in microwave for 40 seconds.

Add one Teaspoon of sauce in one tortilla and 1 1/2 Tablespoon of the veggie filling. Roll the tortilla together and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and filling.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sauce over the 4 to 5 enchiladas and sprinkle with pepitas or sunflowers seeds.

2.22.2010

Mini Chocolate-Mint Frosted Cakes

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

This is my 100th post y'all! How exciting that I have been able to get this far! I have never been much of a writer,but blogging has been very therapeutic!

We had a super fun and busy weekend, but at the same time very restful and relaxing. How can those be placed together? Well, for one, we were not traveling and two, we had a Saturday to ourselves. It started with Friday. I knew Ryan had a rehearsal for a Sunday performance, so I after a yummy Mediterranean meal (recipe to posted later), I decided to pick up around the house and make a quick dessert. We had talked about going to see a movie after his rehearsal, so we decided we would go to the 9:50pm showing of Shutter Island. I was skeptical about this movie since the previews made the movie out to be super scary and creepy. Ryan convinced me that it was not. Anyway, I still had time to make a dessert while he was gone.

I had heard that Friday was National Chocolate-Mint Day, so I decided to create a vegan Chocolate-Mint frosting. I am totally not a frosting type of person but I was in the mood for creating something sweet. If you look at my posts I do not have many sweets posted because I try NOT to eat too many. This was a treat and a late Valentine's dessert. Great excuse right? I used a cake box mix that I received that has all-natural ingredients, called Naturally Nora.


I halved the cake box mix and substituted the milk, oil, and eggs for almond milk, oil, and Ener-G egg replacer. I used 4 of my mini heart-shaped cake pans and baked them away!

Meanwhile I worked on a frosting. Before going vegan 4 months ago, I would make the 7-minute frosting for everything, but since that is egg-based, I knew I needed to come up with something totally different.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I used one of the leftover NibMor vegan/raw chocolate bars I received, mixed in some peppermint extract, agave, powdered sugar, non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, and almond milk to make a quick and delicious frosting! Yet again, I constantly ask God to pull me through a creation that has never happened. I was happy with my frosting success. Once this was done I pulled out the cakes and let them cool before frosting them.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I waited 30 minutes and sat down and worked on jewelry design. I finished a nice necklace and now only need to make earrings and a bracelet. I kept on looking at the time and noticed that Ryan was running late. I feared that we were no longer going to the movie since it seemed the rehearsal ran longer than anticipated. At 9:40pm, Ryan bursts through the door and says " Are ya ready?" First of all, he SCARED me and second of all I was NOT ready. I mean I was clothed but I need my shoes and a jacket. He proceeded to tell me he had called me several times and had even honked outside to alert me to come out. I heard none of these things! LOL. I think I was distracted by Law and Order:SVU. My phone was the piece of crap though. I am using my husband's old phone so the calls sometimes do not come in.

Anyway, we went to the movies and waited for it to start. I always like to see what shady characters come in especially when we go to the later hour show. There were a ton of couples that arrived and we were happy to know it was not like the last time when we went to see The Book of Eli, where a whole bunch of punk kids came in and I was the only female in the theater.

Shutter Island was totally not what I expected and it had a delicious twist. I should have known that Martin Scorsese does not write horror flicks, it is so misleading that the previews made it seem otherwise. Oh well. It caters to both groups. We enjoyed the movie and the delicious chocolate cakes when we returned home! Enjoy!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Mini Chocolate-Mint Frosted Cakes

makes 4 mini cakes

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Cake
1/2 box Naturally Nora Yellow Cake Mix w/ bits of color
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix Ener-G replacer with water and mix well. In a medium bowl, add cake mix, oil, milk and Ener-G together and hand mix until well blended.

Add cake mix to four greased mini cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is cooked.

Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove from cake pans onto a cookie rack. Cool for another 10-15 minutes.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Frosting

makes 3/4 cup frosting

1 NibMor Original chocolate bar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 Tbsp agave nectar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp almond milk
2 1/2 Tbsp Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening

Melt the chocolate in a skillet and remove from heat.

In a small bowl add the melted chocolate, powdered sugar, agave, and shortening and mix well. Add the almond milk and using an immersion blender, blend ingredients until smooth. Add peppermint extract and blend again.

Let icing sit for 15 minutes before spreading on mini cakes.

I added a Grand Marnier Strawberry preserves as a filling but that was the not greates mix. It tasted fine but I should have left it out. No biggie I just learn for the next time.


From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

2.21.2010

Peeled Snacks review

I recently received a great sampler from Peeled Snacks. If you are like me, I am a great fan of dried fruits as a frequent snack especially when on long trips!

If you can tell, I received Dried cherries, mangoes, pineapples, apricots, apples and bananas. These are not your normal sugar-ladened snacks but fruits in its natural form. An apple is dried and tastes like an apple with no extra sugar!

I like taking a bag of these and adding them to my favorite pack of nuts to make a great trail mix. These fruit snacks can be now found at your local Starbucks. These are great because snacks are noe available for the vegan folk! Go in an enjoy a packet or few!

Sunshine award

sunshine-award

I recently received this award from 2 lovely ladies in the foodie blogosphere. Jessica @Dairy Free Betty is a great gal from Canada that loves to cook and is always excited about everything she does. She focuses on healthy eating and does not touch anything dairy. Fayinagirl also gave me this award. She is from Colorado and focuses on gluten-free cooking.

Ever since I started blogging I did not expect to meet so so so many women that love to do what they do. I like reading what all inspires people individually.

The sunshine award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world.

The rules for accepting the sunshine award are:

- put the logo on your blog or within your post
- pass the award onto 12 bloggers
- link the nominees within your post
- let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
- share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award

My 12 lovely bloggers that inspire me are:

Vegetable Matter-Robin lives in my hometown in Houston and has so many talents for cooking. Her recipes and pictures are an inspiration.

Keep Your Diet Real-Corrine has inspired me focus having a consistent eating lifestyle. Her pictures are fabulous!

Kirsten's Kitchen-Kirsten has lovely vegan recipes! She focuses on healthy foods with balance

Making Good Choices-Nicole has said it all and it focuses on making the right choices. It is encouraging!

Family Fresh Cooking- Marla has a great website with so many insights and delicious recipes. She is a powerhouse!

Oh She Glows- Angela is such an inspiration. She owns a great business and creates VERY healthy recipes. She introduced me to the GREEN smoothies!

The Picky Plate- Kelly has a great website and really enjoys and focuses on eating healthy.

Vegan Thyme- Kelly is another of my inspirations because she has been vegan for a while and has great vegan baking and cooking skills. I want to be where she is in the near future.

Chef Wanabe-Anna has incredible recipes using whole foods and with beautiful pictures!

Experimental Culinary Pursuits-Shelly lives as I do with a carnivorous hubby. She has great recipes and makes 2 meals in one night at a time!

My Baking Adventures-Megan is a great cook and baker! I like looking at her recipes and wondering if I can veganize the recipe in order to try it! She is the bomb!

Green Kitchen Stories-There are so many fresh recipes here it reminds me to keep it simple.

2.18.2010

Edamame Pesto Rotini with Sun-dried Tomatoes

This week has flown by like no other! I think I am happy about that, because that means Saturday will be here and I will get to relax with Ryan! We finally have ONE weekend to ourselves, one where we are not traveling, one where we can rest! I am looking forward to perhaps playing raquetball with Ryan and perhaps fitting in a nice brunch on a day that will hopefully will be super sunny. May I be hopeful and prayerful? Of course I can!

Yesterday proved to be another winner of a day. I decided to take on the next level of the Slim in 6 DVD series called Ramp It Up! Instead of 24 minutes of a strenous exercise, I decided to venture into 48 minutes. It was fantabulous! I have found out that I crave less when I have a good workout and then supplement my workout with a great protein smoothie. The fruit and vegetable of choice were:


  • Kale
  • Frozen mixed berries
  • Frozen banana
  • Chocolate almond milk
  • vegan Peaceful Planet Rice protein cocoa-flavored powder
  • water
  • flaxseed meal

Indeed this was by far one of my favorite combos! It sustained me until lunch time a little past noon. This protein powder is probably the first powder that has not hurt my tummy as other products. It satisfies and refreshes me after a great work out.

When lunch time came around, I knew it was burrito wednesday for me, so I decided to mix up the following ingredient together:

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

  • Black beans
  • Whole grain rice
  • 1/2 avocado
  • red onions
  • salsa
  • Whole wheat tortilla

The results? A delicious, filling and healthy meal that continued to fill the protein craving. I thank God for being able to use the food I have at home to make sustainable meals without spending wads of money! Who is with me?

After lunch, Ryan came home ready to take a nap to replenish the lack of sleep the previous night. I quickly planned a healthy meal since it was Wednesday and one of Ryan's rehearsal evenings. I decided that we had not had pasta in a while so I created a recipe on a whim.

Ryan asked me how I know certain flavors will combine. I tell him I imagine the flavors on their own and imagine them being together, hoping that I was right. I love doing that! I guess that is the chemist in me. When I took organic and inorganic chemistry in college, I loved mixing chemicals in lab. It is ingrained in me and perhaps a reason I still love working in pharmaceuticals.

Thus is my inspiration for last night's meal. Pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and edamame called out to me and begged to be made into a meal. The results were very delicious. The edamame was pureed with olive oil until they were combined. Once this mixture was mixed into hot pasta, the consistency was ALMOST like parmesan cheese. NO kidding, because Ryan agreed with me. The only thing I did for his meal, was season a chicken breast, and cut it into cubes to be mixed in the pasta dish. This meal took me 30 minutes, y'all! Enjoy this recipe!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Edamame Pesto Rotini with Sun-dried Tomatoes

serves 4

2 1/2 cups dry rotini pasta
4 cups water
2 cups edamame, cooked
1/2 cup olive oil
6 roasted garlic cloves
10 green olives
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil, or 3 Tbsp fresh basil
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (not in oil)
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
olive oil for drizzling

Add 4 cups of water to medium pot and boil. Add pasta and cook al dente according to instructions on box.

In a food processor, add cooked edamame, olive oil, garlic cloves,lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil, and green olives and blend well.

Drain water from cooked pasta, add 1 1/2 cups pesto to hot pasta and mix well.

Add sliced olives and sun-dried tomatoes to mixture and serve while hot.

2.17.2010

Cajun cuisine: Vegan Jambalaya

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
I usually never celebrate Mardi Gras but I was inspired to make something cajun. Actually, I had not made anything cajun since moving from Texas. I usually was invited to a friend's house or sometimes even received some nice leftovers from another fellow cajun friend.

I owe my inspiration to one of my good friends, Brandon I met Brandon in church in a singles group and he would have parties and I would come over and he would teach me how to make a roux for gumbo and even taught me how to make jambalaya. He keeps a notebook with all his recipes and even recipes he won't share! I tried to make him share his secret recipe for Shrimp Etoufee, but he would not budge.

He also introduced me to Tony Chachere's seasonings and told me that these seasonings were essential for cajun cooking. I remember giving him a hard time because surely one did not require JUST one container to make a meal. Boy, was I wrong. I have been using Tony's for several years now and sometimes have to force myself to put it aside so that I experiment with other seasonings.

Everytime I used Tony's seasonings Ryan would ask "WHAT did you use for this meal? The seasoning is delicious!" I would continue to say, "Tony's."

When we moved from Texas to Michigan, our friends, the Priddys, packed us a goodie box of food essentials. This box contained 4 to 5 Tony's seasonings that I had never even used along with gumbo file', red beans and rice and many other goodies. I decided that it was time to make something cajun with both my friend's inspirations.

I looked up several resources to see what a standard Jambalaya contained and then I converted the recipe to make it vegan-friendly. Instead of using chicken, sausage or any other meat, I used 2 Match sausage links leftover from my recent purchase. It is a vegan substitute for sausage that is sage flavored. I also added red beans which made this meal complete.

I started by cooking whole grain rice to make a healthier dish.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Since the rice was going to take 45 minutes to cook, I chopped all my vegetables and prepared a delicious salad.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Once the rice was cooked, I started frying the vegetables in olive oil and then added the sausage. I cooked that for several minutes and then added Tony's Instant Roux along with some Creole Seasoning. The beans and tomatoes then went in along with the rice. Everything cooked for 10 to 15 minutes.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

What I like about the whole process is that it felt so quick and easy, with great flavor to follow! I thank all my Cajun friends for such great inspirations on this year's Mardi Gras.

Vegan Jambalaya

serves 4

2 cups whole grain rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Match sausage links,sliced (1/2 inch thick)
1-14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1-15oz can kidney beans
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp Tony Chachere's Instant Roux
2 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 vegan Bouillon cube
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped

Place 2 cups of rice, 3 1/2 cups water and salt in a medium pot and cook until water boils. Turn heat down to low and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop carrots, celery, onions and garlic.

In a wok or large pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and fry vegetables. Add instant roux, creole seasoning, pepper, tomato paste, water, and bouillon cube and simmer until sauce thickens.

Add sausage and cooked for 5 minutes and then add beans and petite diced tomatoes and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Add 3 cups of cooked rice to mixture and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until sauce has distributed through rice.

Turn heat off and add green onions and parsley before serving.

This dish is not spicy at all, but full of flavor. Feel free to substitute with real sausage and cooked chicken.



Remember to check Eat, Drink, and Be Hopeful blog. She has a Pirate's Booty Giveaway!

Please also check Brown-Eyed Baker 's giveaway! She has a King Arthur Flour Giveaway!

2.16.2010

Pizzey's Premium Flax Products Review


I have my groove back this week thanks to a more relaxed week! Today made day 2 of a terrific workout and a delicious breakfast that made this day go SO smoothly. I think I have become a creature of habit. Who wouldn't want a more consistent schedule during the week? I have heard that if you continue a new task for 40 days that it will become a habit. I think I have come to that point. When my schedule wavers and is changed because of traveling or busy weeks, I do not function well. All I can say is that I thank God for weeks like this week.

You know what also made today's breakfast a plus? Waffles! I know that today was Pancake Day and all but waffles were calling out my name today. I recently received a goodie package from
FlaxMatters with items of my choice. I really enjoy flax, but how many ways can you consume flaxseed meal and seeds? Let me show you!

SmoothOmega Milled Flax is flaxseed meal that has been milled very finely and is perfect for smoothies. I usually have a problem with regular flaxseed meal from the store, since it is still somewhat coarse. This product tastes GREAT in smoothies without tasting the coarse meal. I added it to my smoothie this morning!It is also great for adding to your favorite bread recipe or even as an egg replacer, for all the lovely vegans out there!

The same product comes in Singles ready for traveling or on-the-go for a busy week! I can't wait to try this on my next trip. Remember that a single serving (1/2 Tbsp) contains recommended daily intake of ALA Omega-3. These singles and regular bag of Milled Flax does not require refrigeration due to this company's superior process as opposed to the regular products out on shelves.

Pizzey's Premium Pancake and Waffle Mix is what I used today to make for a healthy breakfast! I actually have never made waffles but my husband had a waffle maker that I decided I would use for the first time. I normally do not choose to eat waffles because they have buttermilk or are made with white flour, but when I saw this product I knew I was going to enjoy trying it!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

This mix has whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour, milled flaxseed, baking powder, and salt. All that was required of me was to add 1 cup of this delicious mix with 1 cup of milk (which I chose almond milk), 1 egg (Ener-G egg replacer), and 1 Tbsp oil. It was simple and quick and very tasty, even with my substitutions!

My breakfast was made complete by having this delicious product that provided me with the much needed supplement. Go to their website and check their products today! They offer free shipping with orders over $50!

Tropical Green Smoothie

makes 2 cups

4 dinaosaur Kale leaves
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup blueberries
1 frozen banana
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp Pizzey's Milled Flax

Place ingredients in blender and liquefy until mixed. Enjoy!

2.14.2010

Whole Wheat-White Crescent Rolls

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! Ryan and I celebrated our 3rd Valentine's Day since we started dating and our 2nd since we have been married. I was very thankful that V-day was on a Sunday because it proved to be a VERY restful day. Here is a picture of the two of us 2 months ago. We did not get to take a picture on V-day. ;(

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
We had another busy weekend in Holland where Ryan was part of Showtime's Sixth Annual Love Notes Concert. This is a group of 10 singers from our Holland Chorale where they feature songs with love themes like Cole Porter and such. It was a great success for both nights. You know what this meant though? It meant I did not get to cook this weekend! This tends to be a problem for me when we are out of town because we end up being guests of chorale members and they end up cooking for us. It is a nice treat, but I am going to be offering my cooking services soon since I like cooking for others! We will see how that works out.

This morning I had a GREAT workout with the SLIM in 6 video. It was 24 minutes long and it proved to be a terrific exercise regimen. I can't wait to start again tomorrow, even though I have a cold! I am definitely trying to get rid of it. I have been drinking a deliciou concoction made of fresh ginger, cardamon, and lemon juice in hot water! I have had 3 glasses today and it has helped tremendously. I just wished I did not have the sniffles, though. Oh well it will eventually go away so till then I continue living.

After my work out I decided to hold out till noon to make a brunch. I was not even very hungry after my workout even though it is recommended to eat something within 30minutes after the workout. I could not! I was a bit shaky from the workout so I continued with my work day and then prepared my brunch.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
I think I have gotten the hang of making tofu scrambles especially when I have been able to use one of my favorite tofu! Mori-Nu does not have the tofu soaking in tons of liquid but with just enough to keep it ready before use. My brunch was delicious and so filling. I added some sliced tomatoes on the side and made a quick guacamole with a few slices of Ezekiel bread. I felt like had the perfect combination especially after having a great morning workout!

Today I want to share a recipe I made a while back. I ran across a fellow blogger's site and noticed a GREAT recipe that King Arthur Flour has for Crescent Rolls. It was my chance to work with a bread recipe and make it vegan and with a healthier kick. First of all, I would tell you to half the recipe because it made around 18 rolls so I had to freeze some. I prefer to have fresh bread so this was not ideal for me. Either way, this recipe was delicious and proved to be great for breakfast as well as for dinner!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Whole Wheat-White Crescent Rolls

adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp vegan sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance buttery margarine, melted
1 cup soy milk
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
2 Tbsp water
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tbs. Earth Balance buttery margarine, softened (for filling and brushing)

Combine Ener-G egg replacer and water and mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) until it is smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour. It will become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

Gently deflate dough then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large circle, about 12″ in diameter if you can. Generously brush the whole round with softened margarine. Cut the round into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge up tightly and place seam side down on a baking sheet.

Allow them to rise for about 1 hour. They won’t double in bulk, but will become somewhat puffy. Brush tops with margarine.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake the rolls in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on a rack until they are almost completely cool. Store in a tightly sealed container to keep them soft.

Glass Dharma Review and Giveaway

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Time for another giveaway my blogger friends! Who is ready for it?

Even though I was not able to cook this weekend I was able to enjoy some green smoothies with a new product from Glass Dharma.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

I received 3 different straws that can be used for any drink, like Boba tea (Tea with tapioca balls), smoothies, or even cocktails!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen


I do not know about you, but when it comes to using straws I use them everywhere and for every drink! After reading the amount of waste I contribute by using plastic straws I decided that glass straws are the way to go.

David Leonhardt, a glassblower and the founder of Glass Dharma, the original hand-made glass drinking straw, created his own line of drinking straws to
"contribute one solution to the misuse of plastics in our society."

I was inspired by this company because I saw how important it is to protect the environment even if it seems so small, it makes a HUGE difference! Here are another few reasons!

* Glass straws don’t leach toxins into your food as you drink.
* Each time you use your glass straw equals one less plastic straw ending up in your landfill.
* One glass straw replaces thousands of plastic straws. (How many times will you use a straw the rest of your life?)
* Using your glass drinking straw adds a feeling of beauty to your day.


This website even includes great traveling cases and a dandy brush to clean your straw. I am so excited for this product. It needs to be known by all especially by all you MONSTER smoothie drinkers!

I want to give you a chance to have one for YOUR monster smoothies! Glass Dharma was kind enough to offer a $25.00 coupon code to use on the Glass Dharma website!

HOW TO ENTER:

There are a few ways you can enter, leave separate comments for each entry.

Mandatory:

Become a Confirmed Email Subscriber to Opera Singer in the Kitchen
- After subscribing you will receive an email – check your junk mail – you must confirm your subscription in this email to win!
- Already a confirmed Subscriber. Leave a comment letting me know you’re subscriber and would like to enter.

Additional Entries

1. Go to www.glassdharma.com – tell Opera Singer what you’d buy with your gift certificate.

2. Follow @singerinkitchen and @glassdharma on twitter. Leave your twitter name in a separate comment.

4. Become a Fan of Opera Singer in the Kitchen on Facebook, already a fan – post this giveaway as an update, leave your FB Name or Name with a copy of your update in a separate comment.

5. Tweet this giveaway. Copy and paste – “@singerinkitchen 's Glass Straw Review & Giveaway $25 Gift Certificate –http://goo.gl/fb/aiLY". Then come back and leave the direct link to your tweet (go to your twitter account, click on the words when your tweet was sent (ie. 5 seconds ago) and copy and paste that link in comments.

6. Write a post on your blog linking to Opera Singer in the Kitchen and to The Glass Dharma website – Good for two entries. Leave this comment twice so you get both entries!

This giveaway will run through midnight on February 24, 2010 EST. Winner will be chosen using Random.org from all valid entries and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to contact me before another winner is chosen.

Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.


Visit Iowa Girl Eats to have a chance to win $50 at iHerb.com!

2.12.2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter-filled Chewies

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
This week has sure gone by quickly and has been a productive week. After a busy LAST week, it was nice to be a little more relaxed even though we are in Holland this weekend again. After our huge snow fall on Tuesday night, the snow has been slowly melting. It has been easier though to work from home and to make yummy lunches this week without being hurried for time.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
After a nice shoveling session on Wednesday, preparing lunch was very much needed. I was able to use hemp seeds for the first time for a yummy pita wrap with hummus, cherry tomatoes, spinach and grilled zucchini. It was definitely a delicious lunch after shoveling for an hour! I was glad that the neighbors were able to finish shoveling the rest of the driveway since it ended up being way too much for me! Thankfully I was not too sore the next day but I was glad to have a break.

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
I finally got to bake this week. I try not to have too many sweets in the house, but I have been wanting to try a new vegan cookie recipe that I decided to have something prepared after Ryan returned from rehearsal. He was intrigued by the smell of baking when he arrived home but I would not share what I was doing because I tend to keep things as a surprise.

I later took some of the baked goods to the choral library to have some of the graduate students taste test them and everyone seemed to like them. They were surprised at how good vegan cookies tasted. The cookie itself is a corss between a brownie and a cookie, a bit chewy and a but crunchy. The center is filled with a mixture of peanut butter, agave, and powdered sugar. Make it for your Valentine this weekend and enjoy over a hot cup of coffee!

From An Opera Singer in the Kitchen
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter-filled Chewies

makes 2 dozen

Cookie
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Earth Balance (1 stick or 8 Tbsp)
1/4 cup Tropical Traditions coconut peanut butter, softened (Regular peanut butter can be used too)
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup Agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
2 Tbsp water
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling
1/2 cup Tropical Traditions coconut peanut butter
1/2 cup sifted organic powdered sugar
2 Tbsp agave nectar


Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

For cookie mix:

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat together Earth Balance, vegan sugar, agave, and the 1/4 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined.

Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Beat in as much of the dry ingredients as you can with mixer.

Stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon. Form chocolate dough into 24 balls and set aside.

Filling :

In a medium mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, peanut butter and agave nectar until smooth. Shape mixture into 24 balls. [These will be smaller since they will be filling the cookie dough.]

Take 1 Tbsp of cookie dough and place one peanut butter ball in the center. Slowly roll the cookie dough around the filling between your hands until it covers the filling. Repeat with the rest of dough.

Place coookie balls 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes.

Let cookies stand for 1 minute and then transfer cookies to wire racks and cool.
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