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Friday, September 9, 2016

No Bake Nut Butter Pie



I just made the MOST. Delicious. THING. Ever!

I have seen many an icebox pie recipe in my day. The last one I made was so tasty, but it required so many steps... and an entire cup of agave nectar! Yes, it was a tad rich.

So, what was a girl to do? Well, she created a better alternative.

What's great about this recipe is that it will be extremely easy to alter. In fact, I used things I already had in my pantry in order to make it. No special trips to the store. I rummaged around, tasted as I went, and in 2 hours I found myself indulging in chocolatey, nutty goodness.

For this recipe, I used walnuts for the crust and topping. However, you could easily use another type of nut. Pecans, peanuts, cashews, they would probably all work really well.

As for the nut butter, any kind would work. I used chocolate soy nut butter this time. In order for it to turn out identical, you'll need the type of nut butter that is actually creamy. Usually these are the types with added oil, salt, and sugar. It's a dessert; trust me, it's okay every once in awhile. If you can't bring yourself to use a jar of creamy nut butter, you can use the old-fashioned kind. However, be prepared to add additional coconut oil, agave, and almond milk. Prepare as instructed, but if it doesn't mix well into a thick pudding texture, add 1 tablespoon of each of these ingredients until you get that consistency. And because I haven't tried doing such a thing myself, I cannot guarantee that that will actually produce a similar result! 



On a side note, these absolutely gorgeous Robin's Egg Blue dishes were purchased at a local antique/farmhouse swag store called Revived Furniture. You can even order them online if you want!

And on that note, it's recipe time...

NO BAKE NUT BUTTER PIE

Ingredients
For crust:
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave nectar

For filling:
1 16-ounce container of creamy nut butter (see note below)
1/3 cup organic refined coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

Directions
Note: Remember that you need to use actually creamy nut butter in order for your pie to be 100% the same as mine. Not all creamy nut butters have the same oil or sugar content, though, so be sure to taste test and keep an eye out for consistency after you combine the ingredients. In the photos above I used chocolate soy nut butter. The result was a rich chocolate pie!

To begin, assemble your crust. Combine the walnuts, oats, and salt in a food processor. Pulse or puree until fine and crumbly. Add the agave nectar and pulse until the stuff begins to clump together. Transfer to a springform pan. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan with your fingers.

To make the filling, combine the ingredients in the food processor. Puree until thoroughly mixed. The texture will resemble a thick pudding. It should move when you tilt the basket around but should not be soupy. Taste test! If it isn't sweet enough, consider adding a few more tablespoons of agave and trying it again. If it's too thick, consider adding 1 tablespoon each of agave, coconut oil, and almond milk until the thick pudding consistency is reached.

When ready, pour the filling into the springform pan. If desired, top with crushed nuts. I added some more walnuts to mine.

Let set in the freezer for 2 hours before serving. What's great about this pie is that you don't have to thaw it before consuming. Remove from freezer, cut, and eat! Store uneaten pie in the freezer, covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

Makes 8-10 servings, depending on size.

What a perfect recipe for summer, don't you think? If you try it out, be sure to come back and tell me what you think! I would love to hear about your experiences!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Grilled Corn & Veggie Burger Burrito


Last Wednesday, I fired up the grill and cooked my wife and I both homemade veggie burgers and grilled corn. It was the first time we grilled in our new house. It took a lot of time and effort but I enjoyed every minute of it!

Chris left on Friday morning to be with family. She is still there as I write this. I don't feel like it is my place to talk about what she's going through in a blog post, but needless to say times are tough for her at the moment. 

The two of us do practically everything together. For her to be away for such a long time is rare. It has happened but not for years. It is disorienting for me! I wish I could be there to help her cope with what is happening...

Needless to say, her departure was unexpected. And it left me with a leftovers from our grilling experience. Instead of having the last veggie patty in the same fashion as the two other times before, I decided to dress it up a bit.

Recycling leftovers is one of my favorite things to do! I abhor throwing out food that went bad just because I didn't heat it back up. So, I took what I had and I made something new with it. And it was SO GOOD. The fresh corn still popped with juiciness and a crunch, the sauteed onion and jalapeno gave it added flavors, and the avocado... MMM!

So, let's check out the recipe.




GRILLED CORN & VEGGIE BURGER BURRITO


Ingredients
1 ear of grilled corn (for instructions, see above link)
1/2 a small yellow onion, diced
1/2 a small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Olive oil
Salt
Paprika
1 large tortilla or wrap
Lettuce
1/4 of an avocado, chopped into small pieces

Directions
To begin, warm the oil over medium-high heat in a pan. Add the chopped onion and jalapeno. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Cook until the onion begins to show some char. Cut the corn from the cob as this is taking place. Add the corn to the onion jalapeno mixture. Sprinkle with paprika thoroughly. Mix well and cook until nice and hot.

Meanwhile, set the lettuce up inside of the tortilla. When finished, pour the corn mixture on top. Add the diced avocado.

Warm the veggie burger patty in the same pan, if desired, or microwave it until heated through. Slice into a few pieces, or crumble it throughout the center of the wrap.

Fold the bottom of the wrap up, then roll it closed. Viola! Absolute bliss.

Makes 1 burrito.

Recycling leftovers is a great money and food saving technique. Try this recipe with other veggie burgers or meat alternatives, too!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Restaurant Style (Homemade) Veggie Burgers



While the two of us were living in Austin, we spent our springs and late summers attempting to grill. By this I mean we set up an electric grill on our patio and used it to lightly grill buger patties and artichokes. To be sure, grilling occurred, but the flavor just wasn't the same as food coming off an actual grill with flames. 

As mentioned in previous posts, one of the many reasons Chris and I relocted to New Hampshire was to purchase a more affordable house. We started casually looking in May and really dove into it during June. By June 24 we had found our home and we began moving in at the end of July. There are still boxes everywhere but we are adjusting nicely.

But, you know what having a home means, don't you? Actual grilling!!

We've been shopping around for a standing gas grill and unfortunately haven't found one we really want yet. Luckily for us, my dad has a tabletop one we can borrow! So, last night, we fired that puppy up. I used the No Meat Athlete Easy Veggie Burger Formula to create these guys right here. Basically, this awesome guy created this awesome formula and it works awesomely pretty much all of the time. We have made several other types of burgers using the formula. For this batch, I used what I had on hand. I had an extra half a sweet potato (I honestly can't remember where the other half went) and a zucchini I picked up from the farmstand I go to. Add some seasonings and spices and BAM! It's burger time.

One issue I regularly have with veggie burgers is that they fall apart while on the grill. One trick I learned to keep this from happening is to freeze them prior to grilling. I prepared the patties the night before and set them in the freezer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. They went directly from the freezer onto the warmed grill and cooked over medium high heat.

The spices I chose are some of my favorite. Though smoked paprika tends to be on the super spicy side, it ended up being incredibly smooth within the patties. Overall, these burgers were flavorful but not overwhelming, making them resemble (at least to me) the kind you would get at a restaurant that makes their own veggie burger patties in house. Yummy!

Of course, we also grilled corn! Have you done this before? It is really easy and requires little to no preparation beforehand. There are two ways I have grilled corn in the past. The first is the easiest; remove some of the outer husks but leave a generous amount. Trim the whispy ends away and pull out some of the silk from the top. Wash, soak for about 10 minutes, and then grill. Brush them with some oil while they're on the grill. Up to 10 minutes on each side. You want them to get fairly burnt on the outside!


Another option is to gently peel back the husks (don't remove them!) and then remove the silk. Generously brush or coat the corn with oil. Add fresh herbs, salt, and pepper, and then pull the husks back up over the corn. Grill the same way.

Remove the husks and silk, pop on your corn holders, and EAT!

RESTAURANT STYLE (HOMEMADE) VEGGIE BURGERS


Ingredients
1 cup finely chopped sweet potato, peeled
1 cup finely chopped zucchini
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (one can, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats (not cooked)
1/2 cup cooked white rice
Burger buns
Sliced tomato
Lettuce
Other fixin's

Directions
Again, this recipe was developed using Matt Frazier's Easy Veggie Burger Formula. Therefore, the instructions are very similar!

Warm the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the chopped veggies, onion, and garlic. Cook until softened, 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the veggies to a food processor. Add the chickpeas, spices, and salt. Pulse until combined but not entirely pureed. Scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure that everything is mixed well.

Add the oats and rice. Pulse to combine. 

Scoop out 1/2 cup of batter and form into a patty. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Do this 5 more times. You will have 5 patties altogether. If you have extra batter afterward, incorporate the extra into the already formed patties.

Place the tray in the freezer overnight or for a few hours at least.

Grill over medium-high heat for 6-10 minutes on each side. When flipping, be gentle! It actually helps to use two spatulas. Oiling the grill is also recommended.

When cooking is complete, top with your favorite fixin's and enjoy!

Makes 5 patties.

Hate eating the same dish twice? Recycle your leftover veggie burger patties into Grilled Corn & Veggie Burger Burritos! Click here to go to the recipe!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tasty Vegan Things To Try #1

I aspire to regularly share with you my experiences with new or new to me vegan foods that I think you should try. This is the first edition of this series. Be sure to come back for more in the future. Oh, and leave your own recommendations in the comments. I am always looking for new and delicious things to eat!


Clif bars are what my wife and I reach for while on the trail. To be fair, though, they aren't the most satisfying sometimes. This new variety, though, wow! They are similar in texture and flavor to the original Clif bars on the outside but are filled with rich, delicious nut butter on the inside. They're decadent but are actually pretty low in sugar. Totally yummy!


Late July makes a lot of vegan-friendly chips. I purchased these flavors after receiving a recommendation. Don't let the names deceive you, though; the "Bacon Habanero" ones are actually LESS SPICY than the "Jalapeno Lime" ones. I liked them both a lot, though I wouldn't say that either variety actually tasted like the thing they were supposed to. But they were really, really tasty. I like to think of them as vegan Doritos.



Bite Me Kupcakez vegan cupcakes. Locally made in a residential kitchen in New Hampshire, you cannot find these gluten-free and vegan baked goods everywhere. Also, please note that while all of their products are gluten-free not all of them are vegan. The label was a tad confusing- I thought I bought a multi-pack but they all tasted like chocolate cake with strawberry frosting to me. Awesome cupcakes, for sure. The frosting was especially wonderful.


If you're into health food, you have probably heard about all of the benefits of turmeric. I take a lot of supplements as it is so I wasn't keen on taking this inflammation blasting root as a pill. Enter Gaia's brand of powdered mixes. They resemble chai tea in flavor but contain the wonder herb turmeric, too. Although you can easily add it to water and drink as is, I prefer warming a cup of vanilla almond milk and stirring in the recommended amount along with 2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup. It is truly delicious!

That's all for now. Stay tuned for the next edition of Tasty Vegan Things to Try. Also, leave your suggestions for things for me to try and I may feature them in an upcoming post. Leave a comment or email me at lizzie clements at icloud dot com!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Birthday Dinner at Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar

One of the many reasons that Chris and I relocated to New Hampshire was to be closer to my family. Other reasons included, but were not limited to, having actual seasons, more affordable homes, and less population density. We were worried, though, about leaving Austin's amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurants behind.

Last month, the two of us stopped by Green Elephant in Portsmouth, NH for dinner after a day at the beach. We had an absolutely wonderful meal full of flavor and atmosphere. So, when my family inquired as to what we should do for my birthday, I could not resist the temptation to return.


The bistro and bar has an extensive wine, beer, and cocktails menu. Chris's family celebrates birthdays with "birthday drinks," so I felt obliged to order one for the occasion. I tried the restaurant's signature cocktail, the Green Elephant. It combined vodka, coconut water, lime juice, and Thai basil. I enjoyed it immensely! In fact, it brought me to such a happy place that the rest of my meal was akin to a spiritual experience.



Appetizers were in order! We sampled the King Oyster Tempura Mushrooms and Crispy Wontons. The mushrooms were just DIVINE. For someone who adores mushrooms, I had never had the oyster variety. It was just like eating fried scallops. Yum, yum, yum!

The wontons I didn't particularly care for but could see how many individuals would like them. The filling was vegan cream cheese and spinach. The dipping sauce was kind of a sweet pepper chili sauce. I enjoyed the crisp dough but did not care for the combination of creamy spinach and sweet chili sauce. But my wife liked them a lot.


I just couldn't get enough of these mushrooms.

Now, for the main courses....


I chose the Tofu Tikki Masala. The curry soup contained chewy bits of crisp on the outside tofu, firm chickpeas, creamy edamame, wilted spinach, and a whole lot more. The base was perfectly spiced (I ordered spice level 1), extremely creamy, and just absolutely wonderful to consume. As a side, what seemed to be a smoked fried rice. The two together seemed like an odd combination at first, but I savored every last bite of that smoked rice.


Chris ordered the Pad Thai, made vegan by eliminating the egg. According to her experience, it was nicely spiced for her (she ordered spice level 4). She felt it was "well balanced," tasting like Pad Thai should...


My mother ordered the Veggie Citrus Spare Ribs. She described it as having the perfect mix of citrus and spice. The soy filet was tender. Her favorite part was that each vegetable was trimmed to the perfect bite size.

Although I'm not sure how they felt about their meals, the other two members of our party seemed to enjoy their meals, too. This is my brother's review.



I believe he ordered the Char Guay Teow.

Although I wasn't expecting anything less than wonderful, I remember sitting in my seat over my pretty copper dish, sipping my spicy soup with thoughts of such appreciation. "Wow," had been a word I thought quite a bit. I had a surprisingly emotional experience (though the cocktail may have had a lot to do with it).


Find them at 35 Portwalk Place in Portsmouth, NH. For questions or directions, call 603-427-8344. They are currently open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30AM to 9:30PM and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30AM to 10:00PM. Another location can be found in Portland, ME.

If parking is hard to find, consider parking in the free lot across from the Masonic Temple on the corner of Middle St. and Miller Ave.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

B. Good Nashua, NH

Toasted Almond and Ginger Bowl
A lot has happened in the three weeks since my last post. For starters, I am now gainfully employed! I have been working steadily since May 16th, learning the ins and outs of my new job. After a 4-day weekend, I'll be receiving training in a new area. I'm eager to learn new skills and to become a valued member of my new team.

In addition to getting acclimated to my newest surroundings, much of our time has been devoted to family events. My paternal grandmother had her 80th birthday. I was able to see cousins and other relatives I haven't seen in years. We've spent as much time as possible with my brother and his newly growing family as well. And yesterday was one of my cousin's bridal shower. A lot of stuff happening, to say the least.

Amidst all of this excitement, Chris and I have managed to find a new favorite eatery in Nashua, New Hampshire. Many, many months ago, I began lurking on Instagram and found a lot of vegans posting pictures from this place called
b. good. It seemed to be a cool place with a neat philosophy so after we brought home a couple of ticks after our trip to Odiorne Point we went to EMS in Nashua and made a stop to eat beforehand.
Our first experience at b. good was unfortunately NOT GOOD. While the food tasted great it took over 30 minutes to come out and all we got were veggie burgers! It seemed like only one cook was on staff at the time, but still. For a restaurant that prides itself on serving healthy food FAST they didn't live up to our expectations on the FAST part.

So, the burger patty itself. I liked it. You'll notice in the photo that it's made with rice, beans, and veggies. It has a bit of a spicy kick to it. One or two times a piece would be squashed out from within the confines of the bun and land on my plate, but that didn't affect my experience a whole lot. The whole wheat bun wasn't so wheaty that it overpowered the flavor of everything else (often a problem with whole wheat). And the avocado was super ripe and nutty and just lovely. Also pictured are their fries. They are on the softer side rather than crisp but I quite enjoyed them.

Veggie Burger

And despite the wait I had a very positive first impression of the establishment. The staff are knowledgeable about the ingredients. But if they don't know the answer to your question, a hardcover book with a bible full of ingredients lists sets right there at the register for everyone to read. You can find the same information on their website. That is downright stellar, especially for a person with ethical or allergy restrictions. I opted to go a little ordinary that day by only topping my burger with avocado. Chris, meanwhile, had it made Buffalo style complete with carrot slaw and tangy sauce. All vegan.

Spicy Avocado and Lime Bowl
Today, the two of us ventured into Nashua just for funsies! The weather put a damper (literally) on our plans to hike a trail or two, so we had lunch at b. good before spending some time at Barnes & Noble and Trader Joe's. Wanting to try something new, I carefully mulled over my choices and decided on the Toasted Almond and Ginger bowl. Meanwhile, Chris ordered the Spicy Avocado and Lime bowl, holding the queso fresco. We both added grilled tofu.

I absolutely LOVED my bowl. It really was WICKED GOOD. When they say toasted almonds they mean it. Also, the ginger soy sauce had sriracha in it. For me, it packed a nice punch. But the whole thing was delicious. It even had some enoki mushrooms on it (another new ingredient for me). Spicy, flavorful, and super nutritious, what with all that kale, those carrots, and a heap of quinoa. I paired mine with a glass of rosemary lemonade. I couldn't taste the rosemary, per se, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Chris also appreciated the variety of vegetables in her bowl. Corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots, kale, green beans, black beans, and so much more. She also LOVED the sauce it was topped with. And her beet lemonade was neither too earthy nor too sweet. Yum!

While you get a lot of healthy, delicious food, it will set you back a decent amount. Our bill for two bowls with the added tofu and two drinks was over $31. Yikes! But it certainly is a nice place to visit for a special meal, especially in New Hampshire where vegan options are slim.

If you're vegan and have heard bad things about this place suggest looking into seeing whether or not that review was given based on a burger order. I have seen a LOT of bad reviews where the customers go with the burger and are disappointed. No, it's not like a veggie patty from Morningstar Farms or Gardein where it tastes like meat or a pizza; it's a whole food patty made with actual food. This is quite possibly the most vegan friendly, non-vegetarian restaurant in southern New Hampshire. Be adventurous while you're there. You might actually like it!

In addition to the location in Nashua, New Hampshire, b. good eateries are found in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and more. I also noticed while leaving the restaurant that they have raised beds of kale they feed you with! Apparently, they have also set up a farm in a shipping container under I-93 in Boston that produces 50 lbs. of food for the restaurant each week.




To find a location near you, visit their website. The Nashua, New Hampshire eatery is located at 219 Daniel Webster Highway. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11am to 9pm and Sunday, 11am to 8pm. Online ordering is also available!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro Portsmouth, NH


Yesterday, my wife and I spent the day along the New Hampshire seacoast. The two of us moved to the Granite State on April 3rd from Austin, Texas. We lived in Austin for six years and enjoyed so many wonderful vegan dishes from vegetarian restaurants, vegan food trucks, and conventional eateries during our time there. It was one of the many things that worried us about relocating; what would we do when we wanted to eat out? When I lived here prior to 2007 vegan options weren't exactly a thing... Unless you were really crazy about pizza without cheese.

Needless to say, things have changed a lot since then!

Due to the fact that I was unemployed on the day of our visit, we had planned on forgoing dinner at a restaurant. But by the time we finished exploring tidal pools and trails at Odiorne Point we were pretty darned hungry! We're a couple of hikers and photographers so we work up quite an appetite. Chris got on her Happy Cow app and one of the things that came up nearby was Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro.

In preparation for our move, I went on Facebook a few months ago and started adding pages for things that were vegan related. Of course, Green Elephant had been one of those pages. After so many months of oogling photos of their food online I got really excited at the prospect of stopping by on our way out of town! So we went. Even though we shouldn't have spent the money on it.



We arrived at around 5PM and the place was absolutely packed. There were maybe three tables still open, so thankfully we didn't have to wait.


The atmosphere is very hip with industrial fixtures and exposed ducts and beams. A number of the pendant lamps even held Edison bulbs. Trendy, stylish, fun.


I sat with the well stocked bar as my view. I actually enjoyed watching the bartender whip up beautifully crafted cocktails.

While Green Elephant is a vegetarian restaurant, so many menu items are already vegan while many can be made vegan by omitting egg. After debating between Tofu Tikki Masala and Chinese Broccoli with Crispy Breaded Soy Filet I instead decided on the Ginger Garlic Tofu. It consisted of stir fried veggies like carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion as well as blocks of crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside tofu with a gingery flavor. The sauce somewhat resembled teriyaki. It was spicy but light, not syrupy, which I really enjoyed. With rice on the side, obviously!


Our server asked us for our desired spice level when we ordered. On a scale of 1-4, I chose 2. I felt like it was on the medium-high side. Very spicy to me, but definitely not too much. Meanwhile, Chris's was supposed to be level 3 and she claims it didn't feel very spicy at all.


She did order the Peanut Curry which has coconut milk in it, though (see below) so maybe the creaminess of the dish softened the spice level down a tad.


Looked real yummy from my seat! She tried really hard but she actually couldn't finish the last few bites.

We ordered an orange chocolate mousse pie for dessert to go.


It softened a bit in the 45 minute drive home. I wasn't crazy about the chocolate dipped oranges but I did really like the pie. It came with a crispy cookie crust and had toasted almonds and orange zest on top. It had another ingredient in it that Chris wasn't crazy about, rosewater perhaps? But I actually loved the heck outta this pie. I had only wished there were more of it...

So, was Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro "wicked good?" Um, yeahhhhh! I can't wait to go back, actually. And the best part is that they take reservations!

Find them at 35 Portwalk Place in Portsmouth, NH. To make a reservation, call 603-427-8344. They are currently open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30AM to 9:30PM and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30AM to 10:00PM. Another location can be found in Portland, ME.

If parking is hard to find, consider parking in the free lot across from the Masonic Temple on the corner of Middle St. and Miller Ave.