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2.29.2012

Rocky Road Bars {vegan)

Rocky Road Bars


Desserts are my favorite to make. I have to try really hard not to make too many decadent desserts in order not to have daily temptations but sometimes we just want something good besides a nice ripe banana. Ya know?


Rocky Road Bars


When I saw this recipe for Gooey Rocky Road Bars made by Kristina @Whipped, I knew I had to make them ASAP. I had all the ingredients and it looked very uncomplicated.


Since I am keeping up with portion control and calories I decided to lighten the recipe a little more. I chose to use coconut palm sugar and applesauce instead of straight sugar and vegetable oil.


I used Special Dark cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet for a deeper and richer flavor. The original recipe said it would take 20-25 minutes to bake but the recipe took 45-50 minutes to bake.


Rocky Road Bars


It was a big torture smelling these bake for such a long time. Ryan kept asking whether they were done already.


Rocky Road Bars


I let them cool for 10-15 minutes. Ryan asked if he could dig in. I mean seriously folks. These looked and smelled delicious.


Ryan bit into one of them and devoured them in a bit. He looked at me and said that this was probably one of my best desserts yet. Says a lot coming from my husband...


Thanks Kristina for the inspiration and for the delicious recipe.


People.....you must make these at once and report back.


REMINDER: If you have not entered my Saucy Mama Gourmet Mustard Giveaway, check it out and enter for a chance to win three different bottles.


If you would, do you mind voting for my recipes? If you liked my tofu strips then go vote for me please. I would appreciate it a lot. I would bake you these if I could too!


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Rocky Road Bars

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Keywords: dessert soy-free vegan chocolate brownies

Ingredients (12 bars)
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate 60% Cacao
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup mini vegan marshmallows
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Spray a 9x9 glass pan with non-stick pan.
Combine flour, sugars, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl and mix with a whisk.
In a small bowl, combine water, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour liquid over flour mixture and mix with the whisk until just smooth.
Add half the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly. Sprinkle marshmallows, chocolate chips and walnuts and gently press into mixture leaving tips exposed.
Bake for 45 minutes until knife comes out with bits of gooey crumbles. Let brownies cool for 10 minutes and slice into 12 brownies.
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2.28.2012

Tangy Grapefruit Dressing (oil-free)

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This is my third and last recipe using one of Saucy Mama's gourmet mustards. I wish I had had more time to create more recipes but seeing as I received my condiments a little later than everyone else I think I tried my best. It has also been a bit of a challenge to be in the kitchen for that long with a 4 month old.


This weekend Julianne helped me in the kitchen. I find she is starting to enjoy sitting in her Bumbo and watching me cook and prepare meals. She is not real keen lying on her back so why not include her in my kitchen adventures? Here she is:


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Even though I like getting my daily dose of olive oil,  Ryan and I have been watching our fat intake. I decided to make a fruity and oil-free dressing that would be enjoyable.

I had several grapefruits we have been enjoying for breakfast but then why should they just be for breakfast? I used my immersion blender and tried out different ingredient combinations until I came up with the following. It is really not complicated at all. The only thing you would need to do is to to peel the grapefruit's inner skin. Here is a tutorial for those that have never done this: How to peel a grapefruit

The result was a smooth tangy, slightly sweet, and savory dressing. I made a large 2 cup green salad and added 3 Tablespoons of the dressing and ate it with my Crunchy Smoky Mustard Tofu Strips. Ryan gave this recipe a two thumbs up! 


On top of this, the recipe is low-calorie for sure!



Tangy Grapefruit Dressing (oil-free)

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: blender dressing vegan

Ingredients (6 servings (3 Tablespoons a serving)
  • 6 Tablespoons Saucy Mama Champagne Honey Mustard
  • 1 cup fresh grapefruit, peeled and without inner skin
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herb Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
Add ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate before serving on salad on serve immediately. Good for 3 days.
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2.27.2012

Champagne Honey Roasted Apples and Squash Wraps

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Here is another entry for the Skinny Mama Mustard contest.

I enjoy a quick lunch and I am finding that I have to have foods prepared so I can grab and eat while I work and take care of our little girl.

I created this recipe based on this fact. Roasted butternut squash is one of my favorite eats so I combined that with apples and roasted it with a bit of olive oil and Saucy Mama's Champagne Honey Mustard. 

Yes....it was good!

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I used La Tortilla Factory Wraps that are low-cal and low-carb. It was my first time using this wrap and even though they were not my favorite I knew I could get used to the flavor. I mean a girl has got to have some wraps in this world!


After I roasted the squash and apples I added them to one tortilla and topped it with blue cheese crumbles or feta cheese crumbles and then add shredded lettuce. I wrapped them up and devoured it. It was very enjoyable and I cannot wait to make this again.

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You should give this a try. It is super savory and meatless which is even better! To make vegan used fermented tofu crumbles if wanted.


Each wrap is only 170 calories!




Make sure to enter my giveaway on THIS POST to have a chance to win THREE bottles of gourmet mustard.

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Champagne Honey Roasted Apples and Squash Wraps

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: roast lunch vegetarian low-carb mustard apples butternut squash

Ingredients (8 wraps)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 4 cups)
  • 4 apples, peeled and cored (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup Saucy Mama's Champagne Honey Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 La Tortilla High Fiber, Low Carb Tortillas
  • 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1-2 cups shredded lettuce
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, add the cubed butternut squash and apples along with the mustard, spices, and olive oil.
Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and cook for 40 minutes.
Five minutes before the roasted veggies are finished, warm the tortillas and chop some lettuce.
Assembly
Take one wrap and add 3-4 Tablespoons of the roasted mixture. Add 2 Tablespoons of blue cheese and lots of shredded lettuce and wrap tightly and eat.
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2.23.2012

Crunchy Smoky Mustard Tofu Strips and Saucy Mama Giveaway

A few weeks ago I was emailed by the folks at Barhyte Specialty Foods asking me whether I would like to be involved in a recipe contest called Skinny Mama using their line of Saucy Mama gourmet mustards. I do not know how they knew but one of my favorite condiments is mustard and even better just plain old yellow mustard at that.

I looked at the list of gourmet mustard that the company was going to send me and I immediately signed up. Who doesn't like a challenge? Here is the list:
  • Tarragon Lemon
  • Dijon
  • Smoky Garlic
  • Champagne and Honey
  • Chipotle 
  • Suzie's Yellow mustard
Once I knew I had to start creating recipes, the ideas started flowing. What should I make first? Since I was back to eating tofu, I thought I would try my hand at making a faux fish stick using pressed tofu.
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I decided to press it overnight and then I decided to slice it up and marinate it with a little oil and the Smoky Garlic Mustard.

Mustard
Saucy Mama

Then I let it marinate for half a day and then I prepared the seasoned breadcrumbs and dipped the tofu strips and placed them on a baking sheet.

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I baked them, flipping them at a half way point and cooked them until lightly browned and crunchy.

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Saucy Mama



I would use more smoky garlic mustard for dipping sauce or you can make a big green salad to go with it like I did. I will be sharing a unique oil-free dressing tomorrow!

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Crunchy Smoky Mustard Tofu Strips

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 4-6 hours
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: bake press tofu lunch entree appetizer low-carb vegan tofu
Ingredients (12 strips)
  • 2/3 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup All Natural Saucy Mama's® Smoky Garlic Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package Nasoya Tofu Plus, extra firm
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herbamare Herb Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
Press tofu overnight in a tofu press or with tofu wrapped in several sheets of paper towels, weighted down by books.

The next morning, slice the tofu in 12 slices. In a casserole dish, place the tofu strips with olive oil and mustard. Marinate for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a parchment paper on baking sheet.

In a shallow dish, add the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley.

Take each tofu strip and coat in breadcrumbs. Place each strip on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side. Flip each strip on the opposite side and cook for another 20 minutes.

Accompany with green salad with tangy grapefruit dressing (recipe to come)


Giveaway: The folks at Barhyte Specialty Foods want to give some delicious Saucy Mama mustard to a lucky reader.

Leave a comment letting me know which mustard you would like to try.

The winner will be announced on March 5th. If you get a chance, vote for this recipe on the Facebook page too!

2.21.2012

Mori-Nu Tofu winner


Hi everyone! Thank you to everyone who entered the Mori-Nu contest. I hope you all were inspired to go out and purchase these tofu packs and pudding mixes. I need to stock up on the chocolate pudding for sure!


Random Number Generator picked the following entry:




Tanya @Eating Kale 


"Actually, I love making chocolate pudding with tofu!! I'd love to try some baked tofu recipes though. Never heard of their packaged pudding mixes....very cool!"


Stay tuned for the next giveaway!

2.20.2012

Namaste Handbag Review {Vegan}


































Namaste! I am not a big yoga person but this post has nothing to do with yoga. Namaste Inc is a family-owned and operated company located in Los Angeles, California. They offer products and accessories that are not only fashionable, but also hip and innovative. 


When I was registering for baby products before the baby arrived in November, I really wanted to buy a diaper bag that looked nothing like a diaper bag and also fashionable. I no longer was going to be carrying a purse but only a wallet and some cosmetics. 


When I came across Namaste Inc. I knew that I wanted to go with one of their totes or handbags. I saw on their product page a link describing a category of bags for Mommy stuff. While there were a lot of colorful options for different occasions I was not convinced until I came across the set of bags under ALL Hangbags and Totes.



I came across this beautiful Laguna bag from the Cali Collection. Here is what the bag description read:

  • Exterior Pockets
  • Interior Pockets
  • Zippered interior divider
  • Detachable shoulder strap
  • Organizing your craft, work, or kid stuff with your personal items is just another day at the beach with Namaste's Laguna bag. 
  • The Laguna has 5 metal feet on the bottom and strong magnetic closures at the top. 
  • PVC-free and animal-friendly faux leather
It was really calling my name when I read the amount of space this bag had available. What convinced me even more were the color options. Eggplant, Black, Peacock, and Red. I have always liked the color red but the eggplant color was gorgeous. I realized I had similar shade of clothing in my closet and I knew I had to choose this bag.

I placed my order while I made a list of the items I would need to put into my NEW diaper bag.

I received my bag in this nice white cover to protect the faux-leather.


I quickly got my items together


I placed these items into the bag and it fit perfectly


Ever since I have been carrying this bag, which is since December, I have gotten SO many compliments. People have been impressed with the NICE diaper bag. I have been able to cross the strap my body so that I could carry the baby carrier.

Thank you Namaste Inc. for letting me purchase and review this bag. I am happy with my bag for sure and I look forward to my next purchase.

If you get a chance, visit Namaste Inc. on Facebook or on Twitter and check out their frequent contests and specials.

At the moment the company is offering the following special:







2.16.2012

Mori-Nu Tofu Giveaway *Chocolate Pudding included*

Pudding collage 

  Happy Thursday! Why is it happy, because the weekend is coming up! I am very happy to share a giveaway with you today that I know many of you would enjoy.


Last week I share with you how I made a most delicious chocolate pudding. I had little to do with it because it only required TWO ingredients. Tofu and a Low-Fat Pudding Mix. Sad I know right? No indeed not! For a new mom like me, I find that this type of preparation is ideal! I have recently started being in the kitchen now that the baby is getting older but in the evenings when I think about the baking I could be doing, I ignore it to work on chores I was not able to get done during the day.


Chocolate Pudding


Chocolate PUDDING comes in for the save! (Can I say this in a Bill Cosby voice?)


Mori-Nu Tofu has been one of my favorite products because they make the best vegan omelettes like this Portabella and Chorizo Omelette:


Or this breakfast sandwich:


Chorizo Tofu Scramble


Or the Tofu ricotta for this vegan lasagna.

Baby Bella Mushroom and Zucchini Lasagna
Or one of my personal favorites:

Sun-Dried Tomato and Leek Quiche
All in all, I have never really been one to use tofu in my desserts like my fellow friend Amber @ Almost Vegan. You should check out her Tofu desserts:
After making the chocolate pudding, I cannot WAIT to make another dessert using their tofu.For every 1/3 cup of chocolate pudding it is only 80 calories! Add berries and it is a complete dessert.

I also made their Vanilla Pudding and paired it with fresh blackberries. While it was flavorful with the perfect amount of vanilla, I really preferred the chocolate flavor.


Mori-Nu Mates Vanilla Pudding

Mori-Nu tofu is known for their asceptic packaging sealing its nutritional value in an airtight, shelf-based product. It also requires no refrigeration until opening and has a 12-month shelf-life! This is a perfect reason to stock up on tofu. Their creamy silken tofu is ideal for shakes and cream pies to sauces, soups, dips, and main dishes. Check out Mori-Nu 's website for other fantastic recipes!


Photo permission from Almost Vegan

Mori-Nu's Mates Pudding Mixes were introduced in 1996, which makes me feel silly since I have only tasted them as of recent, are completely vegan, low-fat, and cholesterol-free. Does this entice you?


photo permission from Almost Vegan
Mori-Nu has been generous to donate a GOODY bag filled with 6 packages of Mori-Nu Silken Tofu and 2 packages of Mates plus a tofu cookbook

There are FIVE ways to win (leave a *separate comment* for each entry


1. Comment below telling me your favorite dish to prepare or eat with tofu.


2. “Like” Opera Singer in the Kitchen on Facebook AND Mori-Nu on Facebook and comment below confirming you’ve done so. (Bonus: “like” my FB post about the giveaway.)


3. Follow Opera Singer in the Kitchen on Twitter AND Mori-Nu on Twitter and comment below confirming you’ve done so. 


4. Tweet the following message and comment below confirming you’ve done so: 


 I entered to win a free @morinut0fu variety pack from @singerinkitchen ! #Giveaway #win here: http://bit.ly/w6bzwb


5. Subscribe to my blog by email (at the top of the right-hand sidebar), RSS feed, or Google reader and comment below confirming you’ve done so. Let me know if you already subscribe.


6. Pin the Chocolate or Vanilla Pudding giveaway on Pinterest.


This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and the giveaway will be closed February 20, 2012 at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2.15.2012

Valentine's Day Dinner at Soup Spoon Cafe

Valentine's Day @Soup Spoon Cafe


I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day yesterday. Even though any day of the week can be a time to show love and to shower each other with gifts, Valentine's seems a perfect day to be out in the streets with the rest of the world, right? Well, at least we do not live in a BIG city because it was not too bad of a day.


After having the baby in November, having some alone time has been difficult. Going on dates is practically absent seeing as we do not have family in town. We have had church family volunteer as well as friends at the college. We decided we would take up one of our friend's offer to come and babysit Julianne.


Did I feel weird? Not as hard as it was last month but the fact that she decided to start crying like never before made me wonder if she KNEW we were going out to dinner. Luckily, our dinner reservations were for an hour and a half later after our friend came by so we stayed behind to calm Julianne and to see what was going on. We were nervous we would have to stay home because it was VERY peculiar that our daughter started crying like she did. Eventually, she calmed down and we were able to head out to dinner. Whew! I was mentally prepared if we had had to stay, either way, we urged our friend to call us if she started up again, which she never did.


We headed out to one of my favorite local joints in Lansing. Ryan had never been to Soup Spoon Cafe before so AFTER I convinced him that the restaurant did not only serve soup, he told me it was a fine choice for him.


I do not know if you remember, but I wrote an article of the vegan and vegetarian options that this place has several months back that appeared in the Lansing State Journal. Check out the article HERE. I also wrote a little blip about them in BlogHer pin-pointing them as a healthy restaurant. They sell a lot of local foods and since moving to Michigan, I love supporting local businesses. You can scroll all the way down the article to read my description of Soup Spoon Cafe.


I was really excited about going in the evening because I had never had dinner at this cafe. From what I had heard, the owner wanted to create a more sophisticated ambiance for folks during dinner which meant a great selection wines, cocktails, and beers. They sell all local beer so I was very excited to try one.


Menu

Ryan felt like drinking wine so he had a glass of Malbec and I had a glass of Bell's Double Cream Stout.

Double Cream Stout


This was probably the most delicious dark beer I have had. It was creamy, smooth and so delicious after having one piece of chocolate. Either way, even though I was ordering pasta, I decided to go with beer and not wine. Hey, what can I say, I am a true Michigander. :-)


Chicken Pesto Naan Pizza


Ryan and I had eaten pretty light and healthy all day so that we could keep our calories for the evening without really OVERDOING it. That was the key. We ordered the Naan Pizza of the day which consisted of naan as the crust and pesto as the sauce with grilled chicken, pine nuts, parmesan, and fresh tomatoes. It was a delicious appetizer!


Even though the owner remembered I had done a piece of vegan and vegetarian options, he did tell me that although none of the dinner dishes were vegetarian or vegan that they could be prepared especially for me. Well, I decided to try something off the menu since I have been eating meat.


Chicken Marsala @Soup Spoon Cafe


I ordered the Chicken Marsala, which had tons of mushrooms and chicken. It was very fresh and once I mixed the whole dish together, I could taste the creamy garlic sauce. YUM!

Seafood Risotto

Ryan chose the Seafood Risotto dish with Shrimp and Scallops. It was SUPER tasty and it almost made me want to trade with his dish. Definitely a great choice since Ryan had never had risotto before.

These portions were HUGE and we were happy with the fact we got to take home half of our dinners.

All in all, the ambiance was romantic and special and Ryan and I agreed we were happy to have tried a NEW place for dinner. He was definitely convinced, so much so, that he was going for lunch the following day with a friend.

If you ever get to visit Lansing, go try Soup Spoon Cafe. It is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner!


2.13.2012

Vegan Lasagna Soup

Vegan Lasagna Soup

Zowie, winter is back and all I can think about is having nice hot stews and soups lately.

After a nice weekend away in Holland again, I was glad to know that I had this waiting at home. We had several days of sunshine and gorgeous weather like this:


And then after a few hours it turned out like this:



Our family relaxed indoors most of Saturday which meant several naps with Julianne and lots of playtime.








She is a doll, don't you think? Sigh...she is growing up so fast!

Vegan Lasagna Soup

Anyway, if you are staying indoors the next couple of days, try making this soup. It won't disappoint and it is super quick to prepare. For every 1 cup of soup it is only 120 calories, which means you can have two portions and feel great afterwards! 


Give the Gimme Lean sausage a try even though you could use regular sausage, try making it with this. It is healthier and tasty. Lots of recipes ask for sausage and ground beef but to cut back on calories I just added the one pound of vegan sausage and it was hearty enough.

Vegan Lasagna Soup (Low-cal)


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes




Ingredients (12 servings (1 cup))
  • 1 pound Gimme Lean Sausage Style
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) dry rotini
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 14 ounce tomato sauce
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 Rapunzel bouillon cubes (vegan, low salt)
  • 4 cups chopped spinach or kale, chopped

Instructions
In a 3 quart pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the vegan sausage and break into medium chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for 15 minutes or until the sausage is lightly browned.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices and bouillon cubes. Bring to a low boil and add water. Low boil for 15 minutes.

Bring the soup to a boil and add the rotini pasta. Cook according to packaged directions.
Add the spinach or kale and only cook for 5-10 minutes.

Optional Mixings
Sprinkle with vegan parmesan or regular parmesan
Dollop with ricotta

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