Carrot Cake Minis (for two) – Vegan

Bake This…Today!

Looking for something to bake this weekend? Then whip these up! They take only minutes to mix up, 1/4 of the time of a regular cake to bake, and you get 100% of the deliciousness.

What is a Cake Mini? Why Bake One?

I’ve been working lately on a new style of dessert – Cake Minis. A Cake Mini is a basically just a small version of a regular cake. So, I know what you’re thinking…what’s the difference between this and a cupcake? Well, a cake mini is baked in a ramekin instead of a cupcake tin. This means no more putting an awkward, mostly-empty cupcake tin in the oven AND (perhaps the best part) easier clean up for you! Score!

But I’m not Vegan!

Oh and you don’t have to be vegan to make these. I’m not vegan. Heck, I’m not even vegetarian. But, I’ve found that when baking in small sizes, which I like to do a lot, it’s easier to make something vegan since eggs are really hard to portion out in the small amounts needed for these types of recipes. Feel free to use eggs instead of flaxseed-eggs (use 4 teaspoons egg instead of mixture of 1 teaspoon flaxseed + 3 teaspoons water).

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My first Cake Mini recipe was in one of my favorite flavors – Coconut Cream. This one is perhaps a more popular flavor (or at least one you guys have been asking for with such enthusiasm) – Carrot Cake!

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Yup, I used freshly grated carrots in these cupcakes.

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In fact, there is almost one carrot in each Cake Mini! So it’s like healthy…ish. Ok, not really, but we can pretend, right? ;)

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I doubled my recipe to make four Cake Minis since I was entertaining last weekend. It worked out quite nicely.

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I think I need another Crate and Barrel ramekin since I had to use a turquoise Le Creuset dish to bake my fourth! lol. But, really, any baking dish that is 3 inches in diameter should work.

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Anywho, like I said, this recipe really is easy and fast. Just mix dry, mix wet, mix wet mixture into dry mixture, pour, bake, make frosting, frost and enjoy. Ok, there is some time required to allow the cakes to cool to room temperature, but the best things come to those who wait, right? At least you don’t have to bake a cake for a full hour like full-sized versions! See what I do for you guys? I saved your 40 minutes of your weekend! ;)

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Carrot Cake Minis (for two)

Having a sweets craving? Why waste all the ingredients and time baking a full-sized cake when you can make just enough for you and a very lucky friend (or ok, enough for you to enjoy twice)? These Carrot Cake Minis are easy to make with a wonderful, spiced flavor, moist interior, and creamy-cream-cheese frosting. What are you waiting for? Let’s bake!

*Vegan* (with traditional substitutions listed below)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed meal or ground flaxseeds + 3 teaspoons water (or sub chia seed egg or 4 teaspoons egg)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance, softened (or sub butter)
  • 3 tablespoons sucanat (or sugar, which will yield a slightly sweeter cake)
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil (use non-flavored, i.e. canola or safflower)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (or milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup carrot grated, preferably organic (about 1 1/2 medium sized carrots)
  • 1/8 cup pecans, chopped, plus additional for topping

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two ramekins (3 inch diameter) with non-stick cooking spray. Note: I’d go ahead now and set aside the butter and cream cheese used in the frosting recipe so they can come to room temperature while your cakes bake, see below for details.
  2. Mix flaxseed meal and water together and set aside to bind while you continue with the rest of the recipe.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until ingredients are well-combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together Earth Balance and sucanat until well-combined. Stir in oil. Stir in flaxseed/water mixture, milk, and vanilla until well-combined.
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined (careful that no flour bits remain, but that you also do not over-mix). Gently fold in pecans.
  6. Evenly distribute batter into the two ramekins. Bake until top is golden brown and cake is cooked through (or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean), about 19-22 minutes.
  7. Cool cakes to room temperature. Run a knife around the edge of the cake in the ramekin to loosen the cake (circling a couple times until you see the cake loosening from the bottom).
  8. Frost cake with Creamy-Cream-Cheese Frosting, recipe follows, and top Cake Minis with additional chopped pecans.
  9. Enjoy!

Creamy-Cream-Cheese Frosting

*Vegan substitute listed below*

Makes enough to top 2 Cake Minis. I actually made this with real cream cheese since I’m not vegan, but there are vegan cream cheese products out there that you could use. Check your health food store for options. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance, room temperature (or sub butter)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cream cheese , room temperature (or sub vegan cream cheese, i.e. Tofutti)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine Earth Balance, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Using a handheld mixer, slowly mix until dry sugar is mixed into the Earth Balance and cream cheese. Then on medium to medium/high speed, whip frosting for a minute or so to get it light and fluffy.
  2. Apply frosting to Cake Minis from previous recipe.

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Nommmm!

I still have a full list of additional flavors you guys have requested and trust me, I will enjoy every moment working on those new flavors for you! :) You can check out the list of future Cake Mini flavors (or reader requests) here.

***

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Guglhupf + Quick Tomato Lentil Soup

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

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I have a new soup recipe to share with you guys, but first…

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Hubby and I are now home, but I have some more photos from my weekend away to share.

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Including this pretty plant at hubby’s mom’s house.

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We lucked out with more bright blue skies today.

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The weather was perfect for brunch with bloggie friends – Sarah, Josh, and Anne!

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We headed out to one of my fave places in Durham – Guglhupf.

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I love the funky-chic interior there – especially those glowing orbs of light.

Guglhupf has a casual brunch on the weekends with self-seating and ordering at the counter, which I really liked. More places should do this.

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I got a cappuccino to drink.

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I love how so many places in Durham do such pretty coffee art. I don’t know of anywhere back home that does this.

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I thought I was just going to miss this chick due to traveling schedules, but we juuust had enough time to meet up. :)

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Hubby even had a guy friend to chit chat with. Boy power!

Us girls had a totally different conversation going on at our end of the table, and it was so great to catch up with Sarah and Anne.

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Hubby got the Eggs Arnold – from the menu – “spinach, artichoke, and tomato topped with poached eggs & hollandaise served on brioche with seasonal fruit

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I tried the Farmer’s Omelette – “with house made country sausage, emmenthaler cheese & caramelized onions, served with seasonal fruit and sliced baguette

I don’t normally like sausage, but I seem to be on a bit of a kick with it lately. I blame the delicious sausage at The Flying Biscuit. lol. Anywho, the omelette was very tasty – especially with the gooey cheese and sweet onions. I wish I would have ordered a little extra veg or something, though. I don’t think I’ve been getting enough this weekend.

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Girl photo – Anne, moi, and Sarah. Hope to see these fab girls again soon!

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Hubby and I swung by the bakery on our way home to pick up goodies to take home, including a loaf of ciabatta to go with soup for dinner. We didn’t have any soup prepared, but I really wanted to bring some bread home and I just love soup with good, crusty bread. So, I figured I’d whip some up later.

I also picked up an almond croissant, which didn’t make it past the car ride home.

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I enjoyed the croissant with some Zen tea we picked up from Starbucks.

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The traffic was pretty busy, but I was thankful to not see any accidents. Maybe the slow-driving kept people safer?

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As we neared home, the sky opened up with the most gorgeous lighting.

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I took a ton of photos.

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And I even caught a couple planes landing.

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Bailey was pretty tuckered out and ready to be home.

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Once home, I got started in the kitchen. I started some soup and some new granola – maple cinnamon.

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I was really excited about the bread going with the soup. We ended up toasting the yummy ciabatta slices and adding a wee bit of real butter.

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As for the soup, I made up a tomato-lentil soup. I like making big batches of soup so I can freeze leftovers for quick meals later. I like how lentil soups are generally pretty filling, and I also prefer doing vegetarian soups because I think they freeze better (though Giada does have a bad-a$$ beef lentil soup).

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Quick Tomato Lentil Soup

Vegetarian/Vegan if you use the appropriate broth/soup

Most lentil soups seem to have directions requiring hours of cook-time. This affordable soup can be done in under 45 minutes (or less if you’re quick). The soup also doesn’t use fancy ingredients or even that many, making it an easy go-to soup for even busy weeknights.

Also, you can use the leftover broth/soup from this pot roast recipe to make this one…at least that’s what I did. ;) You may have more than 2 cups of broth/soup left, but you can just add it to the soup as long as you don’t mind if it’s a little more brothy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups beef broth (or vegan/vegetarian broth)
  • 2 cups french onion soup (broth version in carton, not can) (use vegan/vegetarian version if you prefer)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup french lentils, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, washed, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat a medium/large pot over medium heat. Add EVOO. When oil is warm enough, add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook till onions turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 60 seconds.
  2. Add broth, soup, tomatoes, and lentils to the pot. Add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 25-40 minutes depending on how pressed for time you are or how tender you like your lentils. Taste the soup frequently past the 25 minute mark to check the texture. Add extra salt/pepper to taste.
  3. Serve with nice, hearty bread and enjoy!

Tip: Freeze leftovers for easy meals when you’re pressed for time later

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After the soup, I was eyeing my homemade granola.

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I enjoyed a mini parfait over some vanilla Oikos (*).

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The granola is not bad, but it needs work. I’m going to tweak the recipe before sharing with you guys.

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Oh and lookie at what Sarah gave me – an adorable note pad.

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I love the note – “For CHIC recipe ideas!” Yes…this will be perfect for new recipe development…thank you Sarah!

***

By the way, I updated my Recipe page (click to view)! Be sure to take a looksie!

***

I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready for my vacation to end. Luckily, I have more holiday vacation time ahead! How many days off work are you taking for December holidays? I think I’m going to have 7 hard-earned and carefully saved up days this year.

Thin & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe + Zookies

I wish I could have spent all day today baking and cooking like I did yesterday. The bad news was that I had to work today. The good news was that I have a short work week thanks to Thanksgiving! Hooray!

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For breakfast, I made a pared down version of my quinoa breakfast bowl by just dressing some quinoa with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. I fried a local egg up and topped the quinoa with it. You guys have to try fried eggs with quinoa (that is, if you eat eggs, of course). The flavors go really nicely together.

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I really wanted to eat some of my chai-granola, which I made yesterday…

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….but it will have to wait.

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I can’t wait to dig into this stuff. Hubby has already picked up yogurt so I can enjoy my granola later this week. Squeeee! :)

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Did you celebrate Starbucks Monday? I got a gingerbread latte. Nice and spicy!

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And lookie what I have…

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Zookies! That’s right. My friend Erica went to Roanoke this past weekend and picked up some more Zookies for me from the Healthy Cake Man that we visited last time. What a doll! She knows I loved these things!

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I got to thank Erica when I went to Zumba tonight!! There’s nothing better than kicking off the work week with a fun and energizing workout.

But, since she’s reading, I’ll say it again…thank you Erica!! :)

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(Here’s the photo I sent Erica via email this morning along with something about Zookies being part of a complete breakfast. What? They’re made with zucchini!! ;) )

And in case you’re wondering, yes…I ate all the Zookies. I had some with breakfast, some for a snack and some for a pre-workout snack. I may have a wee piece in my purse, but that will probably not last long tomorrow. Mmm.

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Post workout, hubby and I split 2 pieces of pizza – cheese and veggie, so we basically each got one slice.

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I steamed up some organic cabbage and baby carrots till crisp tender to get my veggie fix. I just drizzled them with a wee bit of real, melted butter, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.

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And even though I took my butterscotch dough balls (have you tried this flavor yet?? omg…they’re so good!) to work today, there were two left by the end of the day – just enough for hubby and I to each have one.

So far, so good. Only 2 more days in my work week and than it’s holiday time!

***

Since I’ve had three people ask for my chocolate chip dough ball fail recipe, I decided to just go ahead and post it. :) In truth…though they were not what I was going for, they were really, really tasty. Thin, chewy, sweet. They were awesome cookies.

Thin + Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened, but not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet morsels

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and creamy. Mix in egg and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, salt, baking soda.
  4. Mix wet mixture into dry mixture, careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently stir in semi-sweet morsels, without overmixing.
  6. Use a sorbet (or smaller than normal ice cream scoop) to evenly measure mounds of cookie dough on a sheet of parchment, spaced about 3-4 inches apart measuring from the edge of the mound, not the center (they spread a lot).
  7. Bake cookies for 10-14 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want them.

***

PS I’m hoping to post those Alcatraz photos tomorrow! I’ve worked really hard on them, so I can’t wait to share! :)

***

Have you started your Thanksgiving prep yet? If yes, what are you doing?

Cozy Beef Stew Recipe

Now that the weather is getting cooler, my mind is turning towards cozy and comforting eats like slow-cooked stews and casseroles.

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There’s something about a home-cooked meal simmering away gently on the stovetop that just makes you feel more relaxed.

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Like you want to cozy up on the couch with a good book or knitting project so you can casually wait for your cold-weather feast to finish.

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And then maybe enjoy your stew couch-side whilst enjoying the show outside of golden falling leaves drifting slowly down from the trees.

This beef stew is particularly easy and has a simple and short list of ingredients, which makes it a popular recipe in our household.

Cozy Beef Stew

Serves 2-3 (Though the recipe is easy to multiply)

Adapted from this recipe by Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound stew beef
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 medium-large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 1 cup baby carrots, chopped (I used baby because we have them on hand for snacking or adding to salads. You can also use 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots, chopped)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch)

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium-large pot over medium heat. Add EVOO. Add beef to the pot and brown all over, roughly 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add wine and cook for just a minute, stirring a bit.
  3. Add water, Worcestershire, garlic, bay leaf, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice/cloves and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove bay leaf and garlic. Stir in carrots and celery. Cover and cook 35-40 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together water and tapioca/corn starch. Whisk in a bit of the hot liquid, about 1/4 cup. Stir mixture into the pot. Cook till sauce is thickened (should be just a minute).
  6. Serve over rice or pasta or with biscuits or cornbread.

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Enjoy!

Cozy Chicken Noodle Soup

It was humid and rainy here, so I thought the weather called for cozy food.

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First up – OATMEAL! Plus nice, hot coffee, of course.

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Pre-cooking:

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

Cook stove top till thickened.

Post-cooking:

  • handful of blueberries, stirred in at end
  • flaxseed on top
  • sliced almonds on top
  • cacao nibs on top (so glad to have these back in the rotation!)

Remember you can get cacao nibs (or anything else in my OpenSky shop) either 20% off or with free shipping with these codes (july20pct or julyfreeship) in my OpenSky shop. Click here for details.

Lunch was sort of random.

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Chips and salsa

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Giant salad:

  • baby spinach/lettuce mix
  • organic celery
  • organic red bell pepper
  • organic baby carrots
  • farmers market cucumber
  • sunflower seeds
  • TJ’s balsamic

I got stuck in meetings and didn’t get to the rest of my lunch till 4pm. Luckily (or not so luckily), I had a 5-6pm meeting. So, I used my snack tide me over till dinner.

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My snack was related to a recent package I got – Barney Butter!!!! Yes! Barney Butter sent me some individual packages of almond butter for me to enjoy! Woohoo! :)

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Yep…Barney Butter + Whole Grain Goodness = fabulous-o snack!

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I toasted the bread and spread the BB on top. Love the way the heat makes it nice and gooey.

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And for a little something sweet – organic cherries!

***

No workouts for me today. I worked out Sunday, twice on Monday and taught zumba on Tuesday. I think it’s time for a rest day. :)

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Like I mentioned before, I’m still working on cooking more recipes from my cook books, starting with the 3 Ina Garten cookbooks my mom got me recently.

Since declaring my desire to try some of Ina’s recipes, I’ve already made one recipe – Ina’s Strawberry Country Cake – a real winner!

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One of the recipes I selected was Ina Garten’s chicken noodle soup.

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I used parsley from my garden in my soup.

And to save time, I roasted extra chicken breasts when I made dinner last night and used the leftover chicken to make tonight’s soup!

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I adapted Ina’s recipe because I like sauteing my veggies and I wanted to add onion.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe from her book Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash dried rosemary
  • 2 quarts Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots (7-9 baby carrots)
  • 2 cups wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle chicken with EVOO and rub into skin. Top chicken lightly with dashes of salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary. Roast 35-40 minutes (you may need to cook longer if the chicken breasts are really big). Set aside to cool. Note: You can also cook the chicken the night before like I did this week – cook extra for dinner one night and more for the soup – use the leftover meat for the soup.
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove meat from bones and skin and pull into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook till onions translucent – about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Add egg noodles and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 9-10 minutes or until pasta cooked al dente.
  6. Add chicken and parsley and cook to warm through.
  7. Serve with crusty bread.

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Very easy and tasty!

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Hubby and I enjoyed our soup with Great Harvest Whole Grain Goodness toast and a dab of real butter (his had a lil extra butter).

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Hubby got his hair did today.

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And dessert – hubby picked up 3 mini cinnamon rolls from GH when he was getting bread. They aren’t nearly as good as one large cinnamon roll, which is what he was going to get me until the 2 ladies in front of him ordered the very last 2! Bah! I’m not mad – 3 cinnamon rolls in mini size are way better than none. And they’re pretty darn tasty on their own, too – just not as tender.

***

Remember I scored you guys some deals on my OpenSky shop (20% off Galaxy Granola anyone? What about cacao nibs?) – click for details

And check out my latest recipe – marinated kale! Nommm

Do you like to eat anything in particular when it rains? I always seem to think comfort food – oatmeal, soup, casseroles, cobblers…you?

Meatless Friday: Oh She Glows Spelt Burgers

After seeing them on her blog and then on her guest post for my Meatless 4 Lent series, I knew I had to try Angela’s (Oh She Glows) famous In a Jiffy Spelt Veggie Burgers (click for recipe).

Btw, these are vegan veggie spelt burgers!

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I put the recipe in a word doc and printed it out, complete with a photo (I’m very visual).

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Ingredients gathered.

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Into the food processor (I am in love with the color of this thing btw!).

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Stopped to scrape the sides. Keep going!

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There we go.

I wasn’t sure exactly how far to take the mixture, but I think it’s one of those – make it to your texture preference kinds of things. I wanted mine to have some texture but not be too chunky.

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Here’s what mine looked like after I stopped processing.

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In seeds!

We didn’t have pepitas so I just used extra sunflower seeds. As a promoter of diverse eating, I recommend picking up a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) at the bulk section of your fave grocery store (the more health-food-y ones will have them in bulk) – they would be great in this recipe and you can keep the leftovers in your freezer to use at oatmeal toppers!

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I was so happy to use more spelt flour. It is my current favorite flour.

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To help me portion out the patties, I flattened out the mixture and drew in a cross. I broke each quadrant into 2 even balls to roll/shape into patties.

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Ready to bake.

After the first 15, the bottoms were still a bit damp, so I gave them another 5 minutes before flipping.

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While our veggie burgers baked away, hubby cooked up some Annie’s mac and cheese for our side. He is a macaroni and cheese making machine!

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Btw, be sure to use a metal or very thin spatula, or your veggie burgers will turn out like mine. My plastic spatula didn’t quite get under the bottom-most layer, so they got a little rough. When I switched to a metal one, it worked like a charm.

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Dinner is served! Delicious meatless-Friday meal for the Lent season.

I wish I would have had another veggie side. I can’t seem to get enough veggies.

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Oh, and Angela is right – the sunflower seeds are amazing in this – they add so much texture. And, I loved how I could taste a bit of the dill so subtly in each bite. Yum!

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Hubby (the meat & potatoes guy) seemed to like these pretty good, though I think he would have enjoyed them more in true burger form – with a bun and toppings and condiments and all that jazz. I like my veggie burgers plain. :mgrgreen:

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I got seconds….split a veggie burger with hubby and got more mac and cheese. Yummers

Have you tried Angela’s spelt burgers yet? Click here for her In a Jiffy Spelt Veggie Burgers recipe.

Project Hydrate Day #12

I paired water with my coffee this morning and I think it made a big different in my water consumption. I mean, just starting on my water earlier in the day gives me the opportunity to consume more water.

I ended up downing 8 cups of water and a hot tea all before my workout after work today. Nice!

Consumed:

Need help with Project Hydrate or general hydration tips? Check out this The Chic Life Facebook discussion.

Tidbits

Also…

I have like 5 more M4L (Meatless 4 Lent) guest posts lined up – I can’t wait to share them with you. We’ve had some fab posts so far and we have some more great ones to go! You guys are going to have so many wonderful meatless meal ideas, you won’t won’t miss it!

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Also, one year ago today, I was eating dim sum in San Francisco! Click for my yummy dim sum eats and photos from San Fran’s Chinatown. Man, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I went to SF. I want to go baaack…soon! Maybe for Foodbuzz? ;)

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