Vegan Orange Almond Biscotti

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After way too long (a silly thing called work has been keeping me busy!), I not only have time to cook but also to post about it. Yeah!

So, I figured what better way to get back to posting than to make biscotti for the holidays and give my family a little preview of some of their upcoming treats.

This weekend, I completely took over the kitchen by baking double batches of two types of biscotti. I hadn’t made vegan biscotti before, but decided I would try after having lots of success with vegan cornbread and other dishes that require eggs.

After mixing up the dough, I shaped it into loaves that went into the oven for about 35 minutes. After the first baking and cooling for a little bit, the biscotti got sliced up and put back into the oven for a second baking.

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After the second baking, I ended up with lots of biscotti cooling everywhere in my kitchen – lots of counter space is definitely helpful for this!

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Once the biscotti was finished, Jon and I both sampled it just to make sure it tasted ok. Yeah biscotti!

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Vegan Orange Almond Biscotti
This is a double recipe, perfect for gift giving. It can easily be halved for a “personal” recipe.

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
Zest from 3 oranges
Juice from 2 oranges
5 flax eggs (5 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed in to 15 Tbsp water)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp almond extract
12 oz sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together flax eggs, orange juice, orange zest and the extracts. Add the sugar and stir until well mixed. Add the salt and baking powder to the mixture.

Slowly mix in the flour, making sure the dough does not get too dry or over mixed. Depending on how juicy your oranges were, you may need more or less flour.  Add in the sliced almonds, and mix until combined.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape into flattened logs about 4-5 inches long and 1 inch high. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway during cooking. 

Remove the biscotti from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then slice the biscotti on the diagonal into 3/4″ slices. Return the sliced biscotti to the oven for the second baking for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Cool completely, and place in an airtight container (or gift box). Biscotti will be good for at least 1 month, assuming it lasts that long. 😉

Italian Wine Arrives!

Woohoo! The wine that we ordered on our Italian adventure has arrived. That means two things: really good wine is in our loft (probably the best that has been in our home, ever), and I am seriously behind on documenting our adventures in Italy!

The wine arrived in a box that didn’t look quite big enough to hold 6 bottles. The cats “helped” with unpacking, of course!

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More details to come on our amazing winery visit to Poggio Rubino, but we ordered some of their Rosso di Montalcino.

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It is a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or “controlled designation of origin” wine, which basically means that where it comes from and how it is produced meets certain criteria.

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I am sure we will be enjoying some of this wine soon, but we also will be saving some to age and enjoy at some point in the future!

Under cabinet lighting

Although not a meal, there was recently a pretty exciting project in my kitchen that has made cooking more enjoyable – the installation of under cabinet lighting!

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Although I used to be quite skeptical of Jon’s handiwork, he definitely proved his capabilities on this project. After a few trips to Home Depot and consultation with Jon’s dad on the electrical installation, Jon started work on a Saturday morning. He ran wiring, installed new outlets, a new switch, and then finally the lights. By Sunday afternoon, the kitchen was back in order and much brighter!

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Jon also took the opportunity to install accent lighting above the cabinets.

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The lights look really pretty and make it easier to cook!

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Vegetarian Pad Thai

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One of Jon’s favorite meals is Pad Thai. I like it because it is spicy and can be whipped together fairly quickly after work!

I started off by chopping up the white parts of several green onions, along with carrot sthat I sliced into thin matchsticks. This went into the pan to sauté in some peanut oil, along with sliced water chestnuts. If you wanted to add thinly sliced red pepper, it is a great addition to this dish.

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While the veggies were cooking, I started the rice noodles. Normally I would use wider noodles, but unfortunately only the thin rice noodles could be found at the grocery store.

Once the carrots, onion, and water chestnuts were softened, I added some vegetarian chicken and lots of bean sprouts to sauté for a few minutes.

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Next I mixed up the sauce with soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, and a little brown sugar.

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Once the noodles were cooked and drained, I mixed them into the pan with all the veggies and some chopped green onion, and then poured the sauce over it all. Big tongs are the only reasonable way to mix it all together!

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The pad thai is delicious topped with some more green onions, peanuts, and an extra squeeze of lime juice.

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Vegetarian Pad Thai

1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 carrots, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 can water chestnuts
Package of bean sprouts
8-10 ounces rice noodles
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp lime juice
1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp sriracha sauce (you can substitute tomato paste mixed with a little garlic if you aren’t a fan of spicy food)
Peanuts for topping

In a wide pan, sauté the white parts of the green onions, the carrots, and the water chestnuts until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and sauté for a few minutes more. If the veggies start sticking, add a little soy sauce to the pan.

Mix the sauce by combining 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp lime juice, the brown sugar and the sriracha sauce. Taste, and add soy sauce or lime juice to adjust the saltiness or sourness of the sauce as needed.

Add the cooked rice noodles and half of the green onions to the pan. Mix together with the veggies using tongs. Pour the sauce over the veggie and noodle mixture, and mix together.

Serve topped with green onions, peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

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Stuffed Peppers

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After neglecting my blog for a few weeks, I am back! Work has been quite busy, but although it has kept me from blogging, fortunately for Jon it has not kept me from cooking.

Last night, I decided to make peppers stuffed with couscous and veggies. I’ve made various versions of this dish over the years, including a stuffing with almonds and feta cheese.

I started off by sautéing diced onions and the white parts of green onions until they were caramelized and flavorful. To this mixture I added diced green pepper, carrots, and red pepper, and seasoned the mixture with lots of freshly ground pepper and oregano.

After the veggies were softened, I added 3 cups of veggie broth to the mixture, and let it come to a simmer. Israeli couscous went into the mixture, and was covered to simmer until it was cooked through.

Finally, I stuffed the pepper halves and baked them in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pepper halves were softened and the couscous filling was browned and crispy on top. The peppers were delicious served with freshly ground pepper and topped with chopped green onions.

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Peppers Stuffed with Couscous and Veggies

    3 red peppers, 2 halved and deseeded, 1 finely diced
    1 green pepper, finely diced
    2 carrots, finely diced
    1 yellow onion, finely diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 bunch green onions, chopped
    3 cups veggie broth
    1.5 cups Israeli couscous (regular couscous can be used)
    2 tsp Greek oregano
    1/4 cup slivered almonds, optional

Preheat the oven to 400. In a wide sauté pan, sauté the onions and the white parts of the green onions in a small amount of olive oil until they are slightly caramelized.

Next, add the garlic, green pepper, diced red pepper, and carrots to the pan and sauté until softened. Season with the oregano, salt, and pepper, then add the veggie broth.

Bring the veggie broth to a simmer. Add the Israeli couscous, then cover and allow to simmer until the couscous is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. If using regular couscous, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.

If using almonds, gently stir into the couscous mixture. Spoon the couscous mixture into the pepper halves, and place the pepper halves into a nonstick baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pepper halves are softened and the couscous is crunchy. If desired, add feta crumbles to the top of the peppers for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Serve topped with diced green onions (green parts only), and lots of freshly ground pepper. Great as a full meal, or serve 1/2 pepper as a side dish.

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Sweet and spicy tofu

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Last night, I decided to make sweet and spicy tofu for dinner. I started off by cutting the tofu into cubes, then dredging it in cornstarch to help give it a crispy coating. Next, I made the sauce, which is one of my favorite homemade sauces. I chopped up lots of fresh ginger, and added it to a pan with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, a little sugar, and some water. This went on the stove to simmer while I cooked the tofu and broccoli.
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The tofu went into a pan with a little peanut oil to sauté and get browned and crispy on the outside. Usually I am not patient enough to let the tofu get crispy enough, but I was last night. Yeah! Next the tofu went to the side while I steamed the broccoli.

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While the broccoli was steaming, I added some cornstarch dissolved in water to the sauce to make it thick and yummy. I added the tofu back to the pan, and then mixed in the spicy sauce.

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The broccoli and tofu absorbed all the sauce, and it was super yummy over brown rice!

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