Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rainy Day Squares - a Vegan Snack Cake

This recipe is a perfect compliment to a hot cup of tea or coffee on a cold rainy day.  I have adapted it from an old Company's Coming cookbook I purchased back in the early 90's. 

While it isn't a health food, the aroma when baking makes it worth the calories.  There are a few steps when combining all the ingredients, but it is worth the fuss.

I think the squares are sweet as they are so I do not top them with frosting or icing.  However, I do sprinkle them with a little powdered/confectioner's sugar to dress them up a bit.


1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Raisins or Dates, chopped
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Boiling Water
1/2 cup vegan Margarine (I used soy free Earth Balance)
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Flax Egg ( 1 Tbsp ground Flax Seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp warm water)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 - 1/2 cups organic Unbleached Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
 1/2 to 1 tsp Powdered/Confectioner's Sugar for dusting


1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F (176.6˚C).  Grease a 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside.

2.  In small ceramic bowl combine raisins, nuts, and baking soda.  Pour the boiling water over top and set aside.

3.  Mix your flax egg by combining 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds with 3 Tbsp warm water.  Stir together and set aside so it can thicken.

4.  In a separate bowl stir together the flour,  baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

5.  In a large mixing bowl beat the margarine and brown sugar together.  Add vanilla and flax egg and beat again until well combined.  

6.  Add raisin mixture to brown sugar mixture and stir well.

7.  Add in the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the greased pan.

(Ready for the oven)
8.  Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean.

(Fresh out of the oven)
9.  Place pan on a rack to cool.  Once cool, sift powdered sugar over the top if desired.  Cut into 16 squares and enjoy.

(Get in my belly)
*  Note:  Feeling adventurous?  If you want to spice it up a bit, try using very hot chai tea instead of the boiling water.

Bon Appetit

"Do not be angry with the rain, it simply does not know how to fall upwards." - Vladimir Nabokov

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

African Peanut Soup - Three Ways

There are many, many recipes for African Peanut Soup, but for the most part I think they all have the same basic ingredients.  Some contain cumin, cilantro, collard greens, and even sweet potatoes.  Some recipes suggest serving it with quinoa or rice.

This recipe is pretty basic and is my favorite version.  It is adaptable as far as ingredient add-ins and can be served three ways: a) on its own as a soup; b) over rice or quinoa; or c) with rice/quinoa mixed into the soup.

If you serve it over quinoa/rice and have leftovers, it is tasty to mix the quinoa/rice into the soup when reheating it.  It thickens it a bit, and is nice change up for leftovers.

In the pictures below I served both the quinoa and soup in the same dish. I then stored the leftover soup and quinoa separately in the refrigerator then reheated them together in the same pot the next day.

** A note about the peanut butter.  I recommend using a fresh ground all natural peanut butter that doesn't contain anything but ground peanuts.  The commercial brands such as Squirrel or Jiff contain hydrogenated oils and sugar and I think they would completely ruin the soup. They are also horrible nutritionally.


1 cup of Quinoa or Rice
Water sufficient to cook quinoa/rice (I use 1.5 cups water for 1 cup rice/quinoa)

5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 medium sized Red Onion or Yellow Onion, chopped
4 small Carrots, sliced
2 small Zucchini, halved and sliced
4 cups Water combined with 3 tsp No Chicken Bouillon
3-4 Tbsp ground Ginger (powder) If using fresh you might want to use less
4 Tbsp no sodium Tomato Paste
1/2 cup all natural, fresh ground Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Peanuts (raw or roasted)
  * Sriracha or Red Chili Paste to taste

1.  If you are serving this with rice/quinoa, get it started on the stove first so that it is ready when the soup is. If it is ready a little early, just keep the lid on and place the pot on the back of the stove to keep warm.

2.  Put a few tablespoons of water in a large sauce pan on medium heat.  You can use olive oil or peanut oil, but water works just fine without adding extra calories to the soup. You can even use a few tablespoons of the no chicken broth if you'd rather.  Add the garlic, onion and carrots  and cook until soft, making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the pan.

3.  Add the zucchini and cook a few minutes more. A little of the moisture will come out of the zucchini as it softens.

4.  Next, add the ginger and tomato paste.  Stir to combine, then add the broth.  Stir again, until the tomato paste is incorporated into the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

5.  Add the peanut butter.  Stir until the peanut butter 'melts' into the soup, which will thicken it a bit. Add the peanuts.  Cook for 3-5 minutes so that the flavors can mix together.

6.  Add Sriracha or chili paste to taste.  I used about a teaspoon on Sriracha for heat.

7.  To serve - ladle into your favorite bowls.  If you are serving with rice or quinoa, place a spoon or two of the grains in your bowl then ladle the soup over top or to the side.  Or, if you are adventurous, you can stir the quinoa or rice into the soup prior to serving.

** Note - If you don't like your soup quite as chunky, you can cut your zucchini into smaller pieces. 

Bon Appetit

" First-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting." - Abraham Maslow