What you have here is my husband and I’s version of taco “meat.” Since we are vegetarians we use:

A can of black beans drained and rinsed
A can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
A medium onion chopped up
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning

Start by sautéing the onion in olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the chickpeas and black beans, cook for 5 minutes before adding taco seasoning. After adding taco seasoning add two tablespoons of water. Stir well to coat chickpeas and black beans. Cook another five minutes or until some of the water has cooked off. Serve with your favorite taco toppings. 
We like to eat our tacos with:
Lettuce(spinach actually. We never buy iceberg lettuce and we always have spinach in the fridge) 
Daiya Vegan Cheddar Cheese
Sambal Chili Sauce
Non Dairy Sour Cream
Taco Sauce( my favorite is Ortega brand) 
Vegetarian Refried Beans
Flour and hard shelled corn tortillas

This recipe is enough taco filling for 4 people or 2 people with leftovers for a second meal.

Amanda Stivers
Sweet Sriracha Almonds

I tore this recipe out of a VegNews magazine from 2010! I finally got around to making it. These are an amazing snack to have in your pantry if you like some spice. These are Sweet Sriracha Almonds. The recipe actually calls for pecans but this time around I was out of pecans, had a boat load of almonds in my freezer, and my husband suggested I try making the recipe with almonds. It turned out just as delicious if not more delicious. I also added toasted sesame seeds to the recipe. The recipe strangely enough is only for 1 cups worth of nuts though. You are going to love these so I would definitely double maybe even triple the recipe.

Sweet Sriracha Almonds
1 Cup raw almonds(mine were not raw) 
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Teaspoons olive oil
½ Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Line a cookie sheet with a a piece of parchment paper and set aside. Place sesame seeds in a dry skillet on low heat and toast until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Place sesame seeds aside in a bowl to cool.

Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally for five minutes or until fragrant.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and cook for one minute, stirring frequently until liquid has evaporated and nuts are glazed. Remove from heat and place nuts on prepared cookie sheet to cool.

Amanda Stivers
Vegan Banana Walnut Muffins with Candied Ginger
Vegan Banana Walnut Muffins with Candied Ginger
I had bananas in the pantry that were going to go bad before I could use them all in my morning smoothies. I gravitated towards baking something banana-y as most bakers with overripe bananas probably do. I saw on some food tv show that the more over ripe your bananas are the better they are to bake with. Now I knew this, but you should have seen these bananas that this professional baker was using.  The bananas she was using were almost a liquid state!  Her reason for using bananas that were overripe was that you really get almost a caramel-y banana flavor when using such over ripe bananas. The bananas I used were not in a liquid state but these muffins still turned out delicious. We had some candied ginger in the pantry that I had used previously in something I baked and on a whim I thought I would try it sprinkled on top of the muffins. If ginger is not your thing, you can easily omit it from the recipe. I think it adds a nice different unexpected gingery kick to the muffins. Do not bother using your mixer for this recipe. It can be made using a mixing bowl and spoon! Making it a great recipe for kids to help with. This recipe makes 1 dozen muffins.
3 overripe bananas
¼ cup oil-I used canola oil since it was what we had in the cupboard.
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup of chopped candied ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Because of the oil in the recipe you do not have to butter or spray your muffin tin to prevent sticking.  Mash bananas well in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and the sugar. Mix well.  Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together. I put them in a different bowl and took a wire whisk to sift them. Add the dry ingredients, plus the chopped walnuts to the banana mixture and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins. I used  a 1 ½ inch small ice cream scoop  to fill each muffin space with two scoops of the batter for each muffin.  Sprinkle the candied ginger on top the muffins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.  I did not have a tooth pick so I used a dry spaghetti noodle as my toothpick.   
Amanda Stivers
Rose Pistachio Scones

Rose Pistachio Scones

Friday Afternoon Scones I was in a realbaking mood after teaching yoga a couple Fridays ago.  I had some pistachios in the freezer  and organic dried rose petals in the pantry.  Not really either being staples that I usually have sitting around in the kitchen.  I honestly cannot remember what I had in mind to make when I purchased either items.      I think I have only baked scones twice.  The first time being quite some time ago. I attempted to make bluberry scones. They tasted okay but were so ugly! I used fresh blueberries and even though I very gingerly mixed the blueberries into the batter(dough?) they got smashed and bled into the dough looking like purplely  blue bruises.  The second time I made scones they were for Mother’s Day. This batch was lemon poppy seed. This batch tasted and looked better than my bruised blueberry scones. Although, I do remember the glaze that I put on them was a little thin and I did not have any more powdered sugar to thicken it up.   I was so pleased when these turned out so well considering my last two scone attempts. I started off the process using my food processor and then finished the dough off in a bowl.  These scones pair wonderfully with tea or coffee. But then again what scone does not? They keep very well too.  My husband and I enjoyed them all weekend. We ate the last of them on Monday morning and they were just as delicious. Maybe even more so because some of the rose icing had soaked in.  They also would make a very sweet gift for Mother’s Day, a friend, or any type of Shower(Baby, Wedding). This recipe makes 8 scones. 


 2 cups Flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

8 Tb.(1 stick) of cold cubed unsalted butter

½ cup chopped pistachios

 ½ cup sour cream

1 egg

Rose Icing

Confectioners Sugar

Rose Water

Organic edible dried rose petals

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse a few times to sift or combine the ingredients.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter combines with the dry ingredients and the butter resembles  peas.  Dump the ingredients from the food processor into a large mixing bowl  and add the sour cream, egg, and pistachios.  Using a wooden spoon to incorporate the wet with the dry ingredients and mixing until just combined.   Finish the mixing by using your hands to lightly knead  the  dough. And the dough starts to resemble a ball. On a lightly floured surface pat the ball of dough into a disk ½ inch thick. Cut the dough into eight triangles and place on the parchment lined cookie sheets  1 to 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.  Let scones cool for five minutes on baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack. Allow them to COMPLETELY cool before drizzling the rose icing on. I mean it! STEP AWAY FROM THE SCONES! Do not touch the scones until completely cool. Go read a book or catch up on your soaps.   I get impatient myself waiting for them to cool but if you put the icing on while they are still hot, the icing just runs right off and does not set up on top of the scones at all. My apologies but I did not really use any exact measurements to make the icing. I think I started off with ½  cup of confectioners sugar and added 2 tsp. of the rose water . Mixed that and then kept adding a little more sugar and a little more confectioners sugar until the icing was a consistency that I liked. Not too thick nor too thin. After drizzling the rose icing on with a spoon I crumbled some of the dried rose petals on top.   I’m so pleased with how these turned out!

Amanda Stivers
Bean Salsa

What you see in this bowl is a bean salsa so tasty that if you bring this with you to any function, people will be kissing and worshipping the ground you walk on. Seriously folks, it’s that good. Ok, maybe people won’t kiss the ground you walk on, but I bet they will ask you for the recipe. It’s super simple and fairly quick to throw together. It is a lot of chopping but hang in there! Take a break in between chopping and have a dance party like I did with your dog and/or cat. You don’t dance you say? Hmmmm, well you’re on your own. I like to dance. 
Once you are done chopping you pretty much throw everything in a bowl.

Bean Salsa

1 can each of: hominy, pinto beans, black eyed peas, black beans

1 red pepper, green pepper(I used an orange pepper. Why, you ask? Because it was on sale. But the green pepper does make the dish look extra pretty) and yellow pepper

I medium red onion

½ cup canola oil

¼ apple cider vinegar

¾ cup of sugar

Drain cans of beans and black eyed peas, rinse, and set aside in a bowl as you chop up the peppers and onions.

De-seed the peppers and chop up the peppers and red onion fairy small. I don’t know. The size of…a dime. Yeah, the size of a dime. Add the peppers and onions to the beans and black eyed peas.

In a sauce pan, add the canola oil, apple cider vinegar, and the sugar. Bring to a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour over bean mixture and mix well. Let sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator before enjoying. If you can resist it that long. I forgot to mention that this salsa is extremely addicting. If time allows it I make this a day ahead and let it sit over night. Serve with tortilla chips. I recommend the scoop tortilla chips. They do their job perfectly.

Amanda Stivers
Kale Chips

I dare anyone to try these and not like them! If you don’t like them, wellllllllll I’m not so sure we should be friends. These are a great staple to have in your pantry for a healthy snack. If they make it to the pantry that is. I finished off a whole tray from the food dehydrator before I could get them into some tupperware. I just got done teaching a yoga class and was starving ok? With that said, if you don’t have a dehydrator you can make these in the oven too. I should point out that using the dehydrator method is going to make your home smell like a giant fart. There’s no way around it. I don’t know if this happens if you make them in the oven. I typically dehydrate in our basement to prevent the whole house smelling like veggie toots. But this time the stench traveled upstairs! Just deal with it. These are delicious. 

Kale Chips

2 bunches of kale, washed and throughly dried 

 Pinch of salt 

 1/2 cup nutritional yeast 

 Juice from half a lemon 

 2 tablespoons of olive oil

 Use your hands to rip kale leaves from tough stems into potato chip sized pieces. (You don’t want to rip the leaves any smaller because they will shrink down to nothing and you would have kale dust instead of kale chips.) Place kale in a large bowl, I use a lasagna pan. Toss kale chips with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. I find using my hands to mix does the job well. Place kale on food dehydrator trays. Be sure to not overload trays. Dehydrate your kale chips for 4-6 hours at 115 degrees F 

 Oven method Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Place prepared kale chips on a cookie sheet and bake until crispy, about 20 minutes. 

 IMPORTANT STEP: Write yourself a note to remind you that you have kale chips in the dehydrator! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten about my kale chips. Probably because I dehydrate in my basement. I think my personal record is leaving the kale chips in the dehydrator for three days. They were delicious nonetheless but almost to kale dust stage.

Amanda Stivers
Lentil Pasta Sauce

These are the main ingredients that I use to jazz up my version of spaghetti sauce. Substituting lentils for meat is a great protein alternative. Not only is it delicious, but lentils are inexpensive and full of fiber. Give my version a whirl to shake up your usual blah spaghetti routine! This recipe makes enough for two people with leftovers(score!) or enough for 4 people.

Lentil Pasta Sauce

2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of lentils

1 small finely chopped onion or 4 shallots. I just so happened to have shallots in my pantry

2 bay leaves

A pinch of salt and pepper

2 carrots diced

Your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce

Heat tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add chopped onions or shallots. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and diced carrots. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the lentils to the saucepan and enough water to cover the lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Most of the water should be absorbed by the lentils but if not carefully drain the excess water out. Discard the bay leaves and return saucepan to stovetop. Over medium heat Add jarred spaghetti sauce, stir, and taste for salt and pepper. Enjoy with your favorite type of pasta. Now wasn’t that easy?

Amanda Stivers
Black bean and Corn Quesadillas

One of my husband and I’s favorite quick dinners to make is quesadillas. The filing possibilities for quesadillas are probably endless. But we like to keep things simple and use ingredients that we typically always have in our pantry and/or refrigerator. We use Daiya brand “cheese” to make these but you could easily substitute real cheese if you wanted to. This recipe makes 4 quesadillas.

Black bean and Corn Quesadillas

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

½ cup of frozen corn

I bag of Daiya cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chili powder

4 large flour tortillas

Non stick cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place black beans, corn, cheese, and chili powder in a large bowl and gently mix. Set aside while you prepare baking sheets.

Lightly spray two baking sheets with non stick cooking spray and place two tortillas on each baking sheet. Spread bean mixture evenly on half of the 4 tortillas and fold remaining half over filling.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes flipping quesadillas over half way through baking time. 
Allow quesadillas to cool for 3 minutes before cutting into triangles and enjoying. Serve with your favorite toppings. We like to eat ours with Tofutti Sour Cream and Sambal Oelek Chili Paste

Amanda Stivers
Amanda's Hummus Recipe

Have you ever made homemade hummus before? If not, you need to! Give it a whirl. It is so easy! Not to mention much tastier and cheaper than store bought hummus. I make a batch of hummus weekly. It is a staple in our house, as I’m sure it is in any vegetarian or vegan household. It’s great to have in the fridge for a quick healthy snack. Or to offer up to any surprise guests that may drop in.

I make my recipe in a food processor but I’m sure it could be made just as easily in a blender.

Amanda’s Hummus Recipe

¼ cup reserved liquid from garbanzo beans

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Juice from 1 medium sized lemon

2 peeled garlic cloves

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of salt

½ cup tahini

Put garlic cloves in food processor and pulse until cloves are minced. Add the tahini and whip up for 10 seconds. Add garbanzos, reserved liquid from garbanzos, lemon juice, olive oil and pinch of salt.

Mix ingredients until smooth, or desired consistency. If hummus seems a little thick slowly add more olive until desired consistency is reached.

This hummus will last in a sealed container in your fridge for about a week. We like to eat our hummus with pretzels, olives, raw red peppers, raw carrots, raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, and sugar snap peas.

Amanda Stivers

If you are like me you not only love to cook and bake for family and friends, you also love to make goodies for your dog as well. This is my take on those frozen ice cream like dog treats you can purchase at your local grocer. It’s a fun quick project and I feel better giving our greyhound Lucy this homemade version. The store bought version has an ingredient list that is about a mile long. And the last time I gave Lucy one of the store bought treats it was like I had given her cocaine! Her heart was racing and she was panting like crazy.

This recipe isn’t too far off from my own smoothie recipe that I make for myself almost daily. My Lucy’s tummy doesn’t have issues with the lactose in the yogurt. You can always swap out the whole milk yogurt and use goat milk yogurt instead if your dog’s tummy is more sensitive.

Pupsicle Recipe

32oz container of plain yogurt(I used organic plain whole milk yogurt. Just like humans the probiotics in the yogurt is great for your dogs digestion)

½ cup of frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries. (I literally just picked through one of those frozen berry medley bags that I already had in my freezer. The berries give your doggie a boost of antioxidants)

¼ cup ground flaxseeds( Helps to keep your dogs coat shiny and skin from getting dry)

1 whole peeled banana

Put all ingredients into a blender, blend until well mixed. Pour mixture into a standard sized muffin tin all the way full and freeze until hard, about 2-3 hours. If you don’t have a 60 pound greyhound like I do you can also use a mini muffin tin for smaller breeds of dogs. Once the Pupsicles are frozen take them out of freezer and run a knife around the outside of each one. Pop out of the tin, put them in a ziploc bag and place in the freezer.

Amanda Stivers
Candle Crafternoon

Candle Crafternoon

Still trying to figure out something to get Mom for Mother’s Day? Nothing beats a homemade gift. I decided to make some of my favorite mommies in my life some candles for Mother’s Day. It was so easy…besides grating the candle wax. I’m going to have to cut the sleeves off of all my shirts to make room for my new muscles that were a result from all that grating!

Kidding aside, it was such a simple and satisfying craft. I used quite a few things I already had on hand at home to make the candles. And anything else I needed I got from my local Micheals craft store. If you want to go the extra mile you can also make a cute bag to put your candle in like I did.

For your candles: 

Cute glass containers to use for your candle jars. I used three old mustard jars that I had saved for a rainy crafternoon. Although, today is absolutely beautiful out so the rainy part is a lie.

Pure beeswax
I had a pound at home already but this ended up only making two and a half candles for the jars I used. I ended up having to buy another pound with some wax leftover for another time. Use your best judgement as to how much wax you’ll need depending on the size of your candle jars. Sorry not very precise I know. But it took me a little trial and error as mentioned to get the right amount of beeswax. Purchase already grated beeswax if you can find it! 
If you can’t find it pre grated be prepared to use a little elbow grease to grate it yourself using a box grater.

Empty rinsed out 28oz can
My 28oz can was a tomato can I saved from the last time I made chili. This is what you’ll melt the wax in. This worked great. I learned this technique watching an old episode of Martha Stewart on Hulu. I love you Martha!

Candle fragrance

Again use your best judgment here. Buy tall wicks if you’re using a tall candle jar or small wicks if you’re using a small candle jar.

Hot glue gun with hot glue

Wooden skewer

Candle directions

Use a dollop of hot glue on bottom of wicks to affix wicks to your jars. Set aside and let hot glue set for at least 30 minutes.

Place can filled with wax gratings in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water until the water reaches the middle of the outside of the can. Heat wax, on low medium heat, stirring occasionally with your wooden skewer. Once wax is completely melted, use your wooden skewer to stir in as much fragrance as suggested according to directions on the candle wax fragrance packaging.

Fold up a kitchen towel. This is what you are going to hold the wax can with as you pour your candles so you don’t burn yourself. Use kitchen tongs to take the can out of the sauce pan and place on kitchen towel. Holding bottom of can, proceed to pour your candles. Set candles aside and let set overnight. Once candles are completely set you can either give them as is or jazz them up with a little raffia bow( I’d suggest taking off the raffia bow before burning the candle) or a little scrapbook sticker like I did.

As far as my gift bags I used all bags that I already had. But you can obviously buy plain bags to decorate as well. For these particular bags I used this beautiful stamp I had already. I used black embossing powder and then I took colored pencils and colored the stamp in. Instead of using tissue paper that would more then likely get thrown away I used some fabric scraps that the receiver could reuse to gift something or to use it in another craft.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

I had family in town over the weekend and brought these cupcakes over to my parents house for everyone. They were a hit! Well with the adults they were anyways. I guess lime frosting isn’t high on kids favorite frosting flavor lists. Lesson learned.

I used a box cake mix for the cake part of this recipe making this recipe super simple. This recipe makes enough for 24 cupcakes. I used some sprinkles on top of my cupcakes. The frosting is pretty enough with the lime zest flaked throughout that it is pretty on its own though. Give it a try! They are a perfect summertime treat.

Cherry Cupcakes

1 box of cherry flavored cake mix( follow ingredient list on the box)

Limeade Frosting

4 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter

Zest of 4 limes( there’s only 3 limes in my picture I realize but I used 4)

3 Tb lime juice

2 cups of sifted powdered sugar

To make the cupcakes:
Follow the directions on your box cake mix. Allow cupcakes to cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

To make the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the unsalted butter, lime zest, lime juice on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar until blended and frosting is smooth. If frosting is too thick add more lime juice, tsp by tsp for desired consistency.

Frost and sprinkle(if using sprinkles) the cupcakes! Be generous with the frosting. This recipe makes plenty so don’t be stingy with it. If you are planning on bringing these cupcakes to a summer outdoor function, I would recommend keeping them inside where it’s cool until you are ready to serve them. If you are making these cupcakes ahead of time, store in refrigerator and let set out for at least 20 minutes before enjoying. This will let the frosting soften up some.

FoodAmanda Stivers
Berry Stuffed French Toast

I love making special breakfasts for my husband and I on the weekends. I say special because our breakfasts during the week aren’t as elaborate or certainly not as leisurely as our weekday breakfasts. We like savory breakfasts but also something a little sweet to go along with the savory. This past weekend I kicked it up a notch from our usual pastry sweet and I made us stuffed French toast. It turned out amazingly well if I do say so myself. This recipe will make 4 servings. I do hope you will give it a try.

6oz fresh blueberries

6oz fresh raspberries

8oz mascarpone cheese

1 tsp orange zest

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp sugar

¼ cup almond milk

1 loaf of brioche bread cut into 8 1 inch slices

Non stick cooking spray

Maple syrup for topping

Powder sugar for dusting

To make the filling:
Put mascarpone in a bowl and gently mix in ½ a cup of raspberries, blueberries(combine raspberries and blueberries so you are adding ½ cup berries to mascarpone cheese in other words.) ¼ tsp sugar and tsp orange zest. Set aside.

To make the egg mixture:
In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg, cinnamon, almond milk, and vanilla extract until well combined. Set aside.

Making the French Toast:
Lightly oil a large skillet using a non stick cooking spray and heat skillet over medium heat. While skillet is heating up, spread the berry mascarpone evenly on the 8 slices of the brioche. No filling should be left. Combine slices to make 4 stuffed French toast “sandwiches.” Dip French toast in egg mixture for five seconds per side and transfer to heated skillet. Cook French toast on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. I used a large Le Creuset pan that easily held two French toast. If your pan isn’t big enough, cook what you can and you can always place the finished French toasts on a cookie sheet in your oven heated at 200 degrees F to keep warm while cooking the others.

Top your French toast with the remaining berries, warm maple syrup, and a sprinkling of powder sugar. Enjoy!

FoodAmanda Stivers