Homemade Cheese!

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Homemade Cheese! (and it’s vegan, too!)

I hear from a lot of people say, “I could never give up dairy, I just love cheese.”  Well, I like cheese, too.  My skin, on the other hand, does not.  Me + dairy = breakout city… so I made the switch to non-dairy cheese.

Non-dairy cheeses, while okay, were certainly not cheap! So the vegan chef in me decided to make my own cheese.  I’m not talking about the delicious queso, alfredos, ricotta‘s or cream cheeses I’ve made in the past.  I’m talking about the solid cheese you can grate, you can slice and you can devour on a cracker! [gluten free, of course].

Here is the recipe for sliceable, shreddable, oh-so-incredible CHEESE!

FullSizeRender_2Cheese

vegan, gluten free

  • 1c non dairy milk (or water)
  • 1 1/2T agar agar *
  • 1/3c soaked cashews (or almonds)
  • 1/4c nutritional yeast
  • salt to season (get crazy with other seasonings, too).

Directions:

In a small pot bring 1 cup liquid and agar agar to a boil.  Once boiling, add to a blender with the remaining ingredients.  Blend, blend, blend until everything is mixed.  You should have a nice liquid that’s not very thick (kind of like milk).  Pour liquid into two small greased ramekin bowls and place in the refrigerator.  Leave overnight; or for 3 hours at least to solidify.

[You might also try putting it in the freezer for a half hour and then the fridge to reduce wait time… but I haven’t tried.]

FullSizeRender_1And there you have it!  Your very own cheese to slice, spread or shred however you desire.  And the next time you make it, get crazy with your ingredients!  Try adding sun dried tomatoes and garlic, or cayenne and artichokes, cinnamon and stevia?…  Go nuts!… oh,maybe try different nuts!…  and tell me about any awesome combinations you make.

Also, for those of you who read my last post, I’m starting a business!  Any advice or support (financial or otherwise) would sure help get this “Welli Revolution” off the ground, thanks!

What is Welli?

Chocolate Cayenne Cherry Cookies

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This year has been a year of highs and a lot of lows.  I got married, yay!  The company I worked for closed and I became unemployed… lame.  I got a new car, yay!  And now for the first time, I am experiencing car payments… lame.  And then a very good friend of mine passed away unexpectedly… I don’t think you stop missing someone.  But with his passing and my new circumstances, I am inspired to do what I love.  My friend went to heaven doing what he loved and we should all be so lucky to live a life doing what we love.  We only have this short and precious time on earth.

I don’t want my career to be selling someone else’s dream (of course I’ll have to get a job to get things going) but I want to begin achieving my dreams.  What does that mean?  I have started a business!  Say hello to Welli Desserts (http://www.Wellidesserts.com).  Welli is focused on providing healthy desserts and baked goods to the offices in my area.

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What I love about being in the business world, are the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the last ten years.  What I didn’t like, was seeing those people constantly sick or in the hospital because of illness.  The majority of of these cases are preventable with a good diet.  Good diet does not equal no desserts.  I’m out to prove you can live well and eat really well.  Just because a baked good is healthy doesn’t mean it has to taste awful.

And on that note, just because I throw cayenne powder in my cookies, doesn’t mean that spice won’t pair beautifully with cacao and cherries. like so:

Chocolate Cayenne Cherry Cookies

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Vegan, Grain free

Ingredients:

  • 1c hemp flour
  • 1/4c  each arrowroot starch and coconut flour
  • 1/3c cacao powder (go for the real stuff)
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 2T each applesauce and melted coconut oil
  • 1 flax egg (1T flax meal with 3T water; sit for five minutes)
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1-2t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • few dashes of nutmeg (omit if you’d rather)
  • 3T chopped chocolate
  • 1/4c chopped dried cherries
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Sift together your dry ingredients (not including cherries and chocolate) in a mixing bowl.  Now stir in your wet ingredients until well combined.  Fold in your chocolate chips and cherries next.

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Using your hands grab a golf ball chunk of dough and roll it between your palms.  Flatten the ball and place on your baking sheet.  The cookies don’t spread, so feel free to set them close together.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Feel free to enjoy them as soon they’re out of the oven but don’t burn yourself!

Cheers to pursuing our dreams!

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Southwestern Tempeh ala Chipotle

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These last few weeks have been, well, rather strange.  2015 had started out so strong.  Being married is amazing, loving my new car, my Seahawks (at least) made it to the Superbowl, having an awesome year of sales at work and then, wham, we hear from the hire-ups that our company is closing.  The land owners will not renew our contract and suddenly I’m experiencing the “thrill” of being unemployed.

It’s not so bad, really.  I never saw myself staying in that position much longer, however, I wanted the time to really find a new position that would be a great fit for me.  So while I search for a new position and ponder, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, I take advantage of this time to cook and bake. (Hey, maybe I could do that!?)

If I could find a way to use my passions (cooking, baking, fitness, and overall health) with my next career, that would be outstanding!  Until then, I do these things for pleasure and hope that I can make a positive change in the health and wellness of at least one person.

Today’s recipe:  South Western Tempeh (with a Chipotle flair)

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Southwestern Tempeh (ala Chipotle)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of tempeh (chopped into cubes)
  • 1/5 chopped onion
  • 1c chopped peppers (I used red and green)
  • 1c salsa
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 1/4c sriracha
  • 1-2 diced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 2T white wine
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3T cumin
  • 2T chili powder
  • 1T onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Lightly grease a large, deep pan with coconut oil and saute your tempeh until the edges are brown.  Remove the tempeh and set it to the side.

Next up, saute your onions and peppers (optional jalapenos, too) until soft.  Now you can begin to add your white wine to deglaze the pan a bit.

The fun part has arrived, there is no real order to this (or at least not one that I followed, but I just began adding all of the other ingredients, the tempeh, too, and seasoned it until I liked the taste.  Let it simmer a bit to really develop the flavor of the spices.

What I was left with was this delicious southwestern tempeh (ala Chipotle).

Chipotle Tempeh

I served this deliciousness with quinoa, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, sriracha queso, sprinkle of nutritional yeast and some guacamole; we like big servings!  Pardon the photo, I was a bit heavy handed with the guac!

Orlando City

We also thought we’d toast an Orlando City Soccer victory… well… we didn’t lose.  Go Lions!

Making Banana Pancakes…

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*This page has lots of color and photos, please head to Palkieplace.com if you’re not seeing them.

I love when my husband (still love the sound of that) asks what we’re having for breakfast.  I ask him, “What would you like to eat?”.  To which he responds, “I don’t know, what do we have?”.  “What would you like, and I’ll tell you if we have it?” I reply.  I think we both get frustrated until he finally asks, “can you make those pancakes from Valentine’s day?”.   I tell him, “Yes, yes, I can make pancakes”.   And an hour later of frustrating questions and answers, the decision is made. Pancakes.  I hope deciding on breakfast is an easier process for the rest of you, though it is entertaining in our home.

To be fair, we’d also enjoyed a very long session of power yoga this morning so it might have been some hunger pains getting to us.  But here it is, a quick and simple recipe for some Banana Pancakes.  I dare you not to sing a little Jack Johnson while making these.

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Banana Pancakes

 

Banana Pancakes

grain free, vegan

(4 small, 2 regular, or one jumbo pancake)

  • 2/3 c garbanzo (or fava) flour
  • 1T each arrowroot starch* & Coconut flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1 well mashed banana
  • 1/3c almond milk*
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

*feel free to use whatever starch or non dairy milk you like

 

Directions:

Put all you ingredients in a bowl and mix very well.  Feel free to add a little more milk to thin the batter a bit but it will be thick.

Lightly grease a pan and set on the stovetop.  Set to high, and when it’s plenty hot, pour your batter into the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes.  Now flip your pancake(s), turn your stove to medium heat and let it cook through for another 2-4 minutes.

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For Valentines day I added fresh blueberries to the batter and topped it all with sliced strawberries and raspberries.  This time I added a few extra slices of banana to the batter and topped it all with real maple syrup (not that fake junk).

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The hubby eats his pancakes with a few nuts, berries, and a little syrup.  I top mine with peanut butter, berries and way too much syrup… what can I say, I have a sweet tooth! banana pancakes 1

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

*This post has lots of photos, head to PalkiePlace.com to see it all!

Someone very special in my like, aka, my husband, just celebrated a very big birthday milestone  But after a wedding, a European honeymoon, and a beautiful Christmas, this wifey was flat broke.

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So what’s a wife to do?  Have a party, of course!

While catering might be a great option, this gal loves to cook and bake so immediately I start preparing a menu.  Don’t get too excited, I stuck with simple snacks and dips and plenty of drinks.  However, no birthday celebration is complete without a champagne toast (even though it’s not my favorite drink of choice) and a cake in which to blow out candles.  Again, this might also be a time when ordering a cake would be a good decision, but I was not about to serve my husband and guests a refined, non-vegan, sugar-filled dessert.  [Watch the film FedUp and you’ll see the dangerous effects of sugar].

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So glad I took on this challenge because what I made was phenomenal and so ridiculously easy!   Are you ready for this?  A chocolate fudge cake, with a vanilla blueberry filling, and a deliciously rich frosting.   This cake was 1. vegan; 2. gluten free; and 3. without refined sugars.  The trifecta! *pats self on back*

So here you have it, the Chocolate Fudge Cake with all the trimmings.  enjoy!

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

(Vegan, gluten free, grain free, free of refined sugars)

Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains (those are the fruits you see at the market that almost look like bananas)
  • 1c applesauce
  • 1/2c coconut oil
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1/4c almond butter (coconut, or any nut or seed butter will work)
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • scant cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2c hemp flour; or a 1/2c your favorite chocolate protein powder [really you could use any flour, but I wanted to keep it grain free]
  • *optional:  dash of nutmeg; dash of cinnamon; a tablespoon or two of Disaronno 

Directions:

Preheat your over to 350F and grease two 9″ round cake pans (spring form seem to be a bit easier).  In a blender, (I love my Vitamix), add your first five ingredients and blend until smooth.  Toss your other ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until well incorporated.  Now pour your blender concoction into the flour and mix well.  Pour your batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Bake your cakes for 25 minutes (I usually check at the 20 minute mark because I like them underdone).

Chocolate Fudge Cake

After the cakes have cooled, frost and glaze the top or one cake and place the other cake on top.  Now you can frost your entire confection.

For the frosting, I used this Vanilla Bean Frosting, and for the blueberry filling, it was just this simple…

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Simple Blueberry Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2c frozen (or fresh) blueberries
  • 2T maples syrup
  • 3/4c cabernet wine (or a cheap red)
  • a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia (you can always reduce the cabernet, and add more maple syrup and 2T of vanilla extract instead)

Directions:

Put all your ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  After it’s boiling, reduce to medium heat and stir occasionally.  After it has reduced for a few minutes, mush the blueberries a bit.  You’re finished when you have a bit like jam (a little runnier).

Now have your cake and eat it, too!… easier to do without the guilt, right?!

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Quiche Gone Vegan

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*Pictures may not appear in email. For full post, visit http://www.PalkiePlace.com

One of those breakfast wonders is the quiche. Eggs in most forms appear on breakfast menus across the nation. Scrambled, fried, sunny-side up, over-easy and then there is the quiche. For whatever reason it seems to get the fancy name even though it’s still just a bunch of eggs baked (kind of like a really thick omelet).

But just like omelets, and the other egg offerings, they’re not vegan and sadly loaded with animal proteins, cholesterol and dietary fat. [browse the China Study for more info. on the link between animal proteins and diabetes, coronary heart disease and more]. Sometimes I almost miss those delicious eggy variations until I remember that I can make the same thing with oodles of health benefits!

Here is my recipe for a vegan quiche’. You’re welcome.

Vegan Quiche

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Crust (optional)

  • 1c Brown Rice Flour
  • 1c Cashew (or almond) flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3T coconut oil (solid)
  • 3T water

Directions:

Preheat over to 350F and lightly grease an oven-safe pie plate.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Begin to combine coconut oil and water until you have a very crumbly mixture (add more water by the table spoon if the dough is very dry; might take a few minutes to mix).  Once your dough is ready, being pressing it into the pie plate.  Using a fork, poke a few holes on the bottom of the pie and then get crafty and create a pattern on the crust.

Pre-bake the crust for 20 minutes.  Let the crust cool before adding your filling or place in the fridge until you feel like putting it all together.

 

The (Veggie) Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of non-gmo firm tofu
  • 3T nutritional yeast
  • 1T onion powder
  • 1t thyme
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1T arrowroot starch
  • 1c grated carrot
  • 1c grated zucchini
  • scant cup daiya shredded cheese (optional)

Directions:

Using a food processor, blend together all of your ingredients except carrot, zucchini and optional cheese.  Give it a taste to check your seasoning levels.  Pour contents of food processor into a large mixing bowl and combine veggies and cheese.  When everything is well combined, pour the mixture into a prepared crust or lightly greased pie pan.  Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes.  Let cool when finished and then enjoy!

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I loved this with a little organic ketchup and hot sauce.  I especially loved eating it as my SEAHAWKS played on to VICTORY!

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This Sea-gal will be watching SUPERBOWL 2015 for certain!seahawk quiche 3