Friday, December 31, 2010

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Phyllo Napoleons

It's New Years Eve and that calls for a festive and fun meal.  Especially a festive and fun dessert!  We decided to stay home this year and have dinner and celebrate as a family. Just the four of us, a great meal and time to reflect on the past year as well as welcome in the new one.
















Years ago, I made a similar (non vegan) dessert  from an issue of  Bon Appetit magazine. Both  my husband and I liked it a lot. I don't know what got me thinking about it today but I decided to make it again, in a vegan version this time.  It was wonderful and the kids loved it too.

The vegan lemon curd recipe is not totally my own. I found this recipe on the Cookies and Candids website.  I did change it a bit by using So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut milk.  It came out great.

Be warned, this is a bit of work, but well worth it! A great way to welcome in the New Year.

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Phyllo Napoleons

1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups plus 3 tsp organic cane sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
Zest of 3 large lemons
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
6 tbsp So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
6 sheets phyllo dough
2 pints raspberries
Powdered sugar for garnish

Combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp of the lemon zest in a blender. Blend for a few seconds until mixed well.

Pour mixture into a saucepan and add the rest of the lemon zest. Over medium heat whisk mixture constantly until it comes to a full boil.

Stop stirring and let the lemony liquid boil on its own for 1 minute. It will thicken and turn somewhat clear.

Add the So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk and 2 tbsp Earth Balance, and stir in well with the whisk.

Remove from the heat and cool the curd at room temperature. Refrigerate in a covered container until fully cooled.

To prepare the phyllo preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of Earth Balance. Cut the phyllo dough into a 10 and a 1/2 inch square.  Cover phyllo with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel.  Brush a baking sheet with some of the Earth Balance. Place one sheet of phyllo on the baking sheet, brush it with the metled Earth Balance and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sugar. Top with second phyllo square. Brush lightly with melted Earth Balance. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Top with third phyllo square. Sprinkle with 1 generous teaspoon sugar. Make sure that as you are working that you keep the phyllo you are not using covered with plastic wrap and a dampm kitchen towel.  Cut into 9 equal stacked squares. 

With another baking sheet repeat the process of layering and cutting with remaining 3 phyllo sheets, sugar and Earth Balance making total of 18 stacked phyllo squares. Bake at 375 degrees until phyllo is golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool completely.

To assemble, place phyllo square on a plate, top with lemon curd and three raspberries. Top with another phyllo sheet and repeat until yo have three layers of phyllo.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

It really wouldn't be the holidays if a green bean casserole didn't show up on the table at least once.  Since we did not have one on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas this year I figured I couldn't let the holiday season end without one. So, New Years Eve it is!
















This is my take on the traditional classic. Instead of canned green beans I used fresh and steamed them. That way the beans are not mushy like canned beans can be. If you want to use canned, by all means, do- that would work too. And, as I did not have any french fried onions I opted for a breadcrumb topping instead.
















Green Bean Casserole

12 oz fresh green beans cut into bite size pieces and steamed to desired tenderness
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, melt 1/4 cup of the Earth Balance and add the flour. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, garlic and onion powders. Stir constantly, until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy. Whisk in the vegetable oil and nutritional yeast.

Place the green beans in a bowl and add the gravy. Toss to coat. Put the misture into a small casserole dish.

In a food processor or blender place the breadcrumbs and remaining Earth Balance and pulse until incorporated. Place on top of the green bean mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Vinaigrette Dressing

This has been a wonderful holiday season filled with much great vegan fare! Being on vacation from work for the last seven days means that I have spent many hours in my kitchen (my favorite place on earth, by the way) cooking like a wild woman!  I am starting to feel, well, STUFFED.  Last night I reached the point where I decided enough is enough! Time to scale back on the food and focus on lighter fare, including low calorie, nutrition packed leafy greens.
















I was watching Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network the other day and Ina Garten made a version of this salad that looked just too good not to make. I made some changes to her dish to veganize it and made some substitutions because I didn't have everything I needed in the house.

This is a fantastic salad, keeps the holiday festive food theme going but is somewhat easier on the waistline.  And the fact that most grocery stores sell butternut squash already peeled and cubed is just a bonus. It really hit the spot for me and I hope it will for you too!

Roasted Butter Nut Squash Salad with Warm Vinaigrette Dressing

20 oz butternut squash peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tbsp organic molasses
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dried cranberries
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup organic apple juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp minced shallot
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Baby arugula
Baby spinach
Chiffonade of Swiss shard (stems removed)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the molasses, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat.. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple juice, vinegar, and minced shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 minutes, until the apple juice is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Toast the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant.

Place the greens on a plate and add the roasted squash mixture.  Add the walnuts. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten. Don't overdress! Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff

Mr. Meat and Potatoes LOVES beef stroganoff and  although I have not had it in many, many years (more than 30?) I love the smell of it cooking.  Today it was snowy and cold and comfort food seemed like a good idea.  I had a whole bunch of dried porcini mushrooms in the house that I had bought for another recipe, but it turned out I didn't need them. So I decided to be decadent and do a mushroom stroganoff, with the porcinis, that we both could enjoy.



Once this dish begins to simmer the aroma is just wonderful. So much so that we decided we couldn't wait to eat and had a really early dinner tonight.  He really liked it and so did I.  This is pretty easy to make, very flavorful and filling. I served it with some crusty seeded Italian bread. A simple green salad would go well too.

Porcini Mushroom Stroganoff

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pan searing flour (flour seasoned with salt and pepper)
3 tbsp vegan butter
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms stemmed and quartered
8 oz cremini mushrooms sliced
12 oz button mushrooms sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 large Spanish onion minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons dry red wine
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
Freshly chopped parsley to taste
1 lb of your favorite pasta cooked and drained

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl of hot water and allow to steep for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  Add pan searing flour and cook for four minutes stirring often.  Add onions, garlic, butter, 1/4 cup red wine, mushrooms and tomato paste. Saute until soft. Add thyme, oregano and bay leaves.  Add the vegetable stock and So Delicious Coconut Milk and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.  Turn off heat. Add the rest of the red wine, fresh parsley and sour cream.  Serve over pasta.

Be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Banana Bread

This Christmas holiday was particularly special for me. I got to spend lots of time with family, share wonderful meals with those I love most, and watch my kids run around playing with their cousins in a way reminiscent of my youth.  And as if this were not special enough my Mother made Christmas extra special this year by giving me a gift that I cannot find words to express how thankful I am.



I never met my Great Grandmother Catarina but I have heard a lot about her. Clearly, my Mother has much affection for her so imagine how I felt when I opened my Christmas gift from my Mom to find Catarina's mortar and pestle inside!



Today my son decided he wanted to make banana bread. He asked if he could use the mortar and pestle to mash the bananas. Absolutely!

I feel the love in this bread, knowing that the bananas were mashed in an over-a-century old heirloom by my son. The same heirloom that my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother, and now me and my family have used.  I look forward to many years of  cooking with it before I pass it on to one of my own kids and they to theirs.

Banana Bread

1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/2 cup raw organic turbinado sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut)
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the Earth Balance and turbinado sugar.  Stir in the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add in the non dairy milk, bananas and chocolate chips.  Place batter in a loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grandma's Meat(less) Sauce

"Taste and smell are wonderful memory aids. Its amazing how you can catch a whiff of something; fresh cut grass, a summer rain, baking, and be taken back years to a childhood, to be placed back in the very scene. You can almost look around and see and smell everything around you in great detail. A simple scent can transport you in full HD back to a time you could not have recalled if you tried."
















How true! The quote is from my friends Brian's blog,  One Crabby Vegan.  I think he is right.  For him, it is a cookie called a galette. For me, it is my Grandmother's kitchen at the holidays. Our holidays consisted of big, noisy family gatherings in a brownstone on Union Street in Brooklyn.  Lots of kids running around (I have fifteen cousins!) and the adults perhaps even louder than the kids.  I still remember exactly how her  meat sauce smells and tastes, though I have not had it in probably 30 years. There would be a big pot simmering on the stove and we would all "sneak" some before dinner by dipping  bread into the pot to get a taste. The smell and taste of that sauce will stay with me forever along with the memories of those wonderful family gatherings.

My Grandmother has long since passed but her recipe lives on through my Mother, Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  My cousin Cathy recently decided that she would make a vegan version of the sauce for her daughter Alyssa. Alyssa is largely vegetarian and she wanted her to have a recipe to make and share with her friends.  How lucky for me!

The smell of this sauce simmering in my kitchen yesterday invoked those very memories Brian refers to.  Thank you Cathy for such a wonderful gift!

Grandma's Meat(less) Sauce

1 pound shitake mushrooms minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms minced
3 12 oz cans plain tomato paste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion minced
3 cloves of garlic- chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 qts. organic mushroom broth
4 leaves of fresh basil rough chopped

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil over a low flame. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender and translucent. Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Stir in the tomato paste one can at a time, combining each can with the mushrooms mixture before you add the next, warm through while stirring. Add the mushroom broth slowly, stirring from the bottom of the pot until it is completely combined. Add salt, pepper  and basil. Simmer, stirring every 20 minutes or so for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve over pasta

Max's Apple Crisp

My 12 year old son has taken an interest in cooking. He had a cooking class in school and it seems to have sparked an interest.  I am really happy about that.  He especially likes to cook things he can do "all by himself".  Apparently they made apple crisp in school. Yesterday he asked if he could make it at home. You don't have to ask me twice! He even said he would make a vegan version so Mom could have some too (love that kid). 
















Thanks Max for your kindness and your apple crisp.  I am one proud Mom!























Max's Apple Crisp

2 large Honeycrisp apples cored, peeled and cubed
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp organic raw turbinado sugar
6 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the apples in a pie dish in an even layer. In a bowl mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and melted Earth Balance. Stir to incorporate. Spread the mixture on top of the apples. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until the apples are soft and the top crisp. You may want to broil for the last minute or so to depending on how browned you would like the top to be.

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Delicious Hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa can't help but remind me of childhood.  On cold winter days after playing in the snow my Mother used to make the best hot cocoa for ny sister and I. Warm, creamy, chocolaty and delicious.  And with the weather as cold as has been in the Northeastern US  I am finding for the first time in years that I am craving hot cocoa just like my Mother made.
















I was not much of a milk drinker as a kid and am not a big fan of non dairy milks like soy, rice or hemp.   When I discovered So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk my whole attitude toward milk changed. Though I still don't drink it "straight" it is a pleasure to cook with. as it is nearly flavorless and has a wonderful consistency.

So I thought, what the heck... let me try making some hot cocoa and  see if it doesn't invoke memories of those days playing in the snow as a kid.  I loved it, it definitely took me back to childhood and as an added bonus my kids loved it too!

So Delicious Hot Cocoa

4 tbsp organic raw turbinado sugar*
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
Soy whip (optional)

In a sauce pan add the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla and gently stir in milk. Heat over medium heat whisking constantly until hot (do not boil).  Pour into your favorite mug and top with soy whip if desired. Vegan marshmallows would also be lovely in this, but I did not happen to have any in the house.

* adjust sugar as needed to suit the level of sweetness you desire.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poblano Enchilada Casserole

A few weeks ago a childhood friend posted a recipe for an enchilada casserole made with chicken and lots of other non vegan ingredients.  The basic premise of the casserole was quite appealing and immediately I knew I was going to do a vegan version. So after mulling it around in my head for a few days I came up with this recipe.  I believe it maintains the integrity of the original but healthier and totally plant based. This certainly does not lack for flavor and honestly believe that even meat eaters would not miss the chicken in this dish.. Thanks Denise, for getting me thinking and giving me a new 'regular rotation' recipe.


                                        
One thing I do feel obligated to mention. When working with jalapeno peppers please be very careful not to touch your eyes before thoroughly washing your hands!

Poblano Enchilada Casserole

6 poblano peppers chopped
2 large jalapeno peppers chopped
1/4 large red onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 tbsp olive oil
8 oz tofu drained and cubed
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
1 lime halved
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp vegan sour cream
12 corn tortillas
1 cup  Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Shreds\
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pan saute peppers, onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Squeeze the juice from half the lime into the pepper mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add add tofu. and continue to cook until tofu is warmed through.

In a separate pan melt Earth Balance over low heat. Gradually stir in the non dairy milk and flour whisking until smooth.  Add the sour cream, mushrooms, cilantro and the juice of the other lime half. and cook until sauce is nicely thickened and mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

In a 9x13 pan place six of the corn tortillas (this may vary depending on the size of the tortillas you use; there should be a single layer of tortillas).  Cover with half of the pepper and tofu mixture. Layer with half cup each of the mozzarella and cheddar shreds. Place the rest of the tortillas on top of the 'cheese'. Add the rest of the pepper and tofu mixture on top of the second tortilla layer and pour the mushroom sauce over the top. Finish with the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar shreds.

Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce bubbly.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Dijon Sauce

I love Brussels sprouts. Fortunately, my daughter does too. Unfortunately, she will only eat them steamed. So it takes a night like tonight where my husband and daughter are out on a father/daughter date night and my son is too wrapped up in his saxophone to bother with me for me to get to enjoy Brussels sprouts the way I like! Tonight I roasted them and they were absolutely divine.  And, given all the recent conversation on Twitter (mostly by my new friend (@CrabbyVegan)  about Brussels sprouts I felt obligated to post the recipe!


Simple and easy though you need to allow time for very slow cooking of the onions and of course, you cannot rush a roasted Brussels sprout!

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Dijon Sauce

Brussels Sprouts (I used exactly 13)
1/2 large Spanish onion sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove stems and outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and cut in half.  Place on a cookie sheet or foil and drizzle lightly with  olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast 30  minutes or until nicely browned and tender.

In a saute pan heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium. Add onions and turn heat to low.  Allow onions to slowly cook  until nicely caramelized. Don't rush this- it takes a while. In a separate pan heat the Earth Balance, Dijon, agave and balsamic vinegar. As Earth Balance melts whisk to incorporate.

When the sprouts are finished place some caramelized onions on a dish, top with Brussels sprouts and drizzle the Dijon Balsamic sauce.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetable Barley Soup

Lately it has been really cold in the Northeastern United States. I ride the train and out of the city everyday to work and sometimes the wait on the cold platform combined with a long train ride (often with little heat) can leave you chilled to the bone! Tonight I came home from one of those dreaded cold commutes and all I could think about when I walked in the door was of warm, hearty soup.
















I barely had myself in the house before I was in the fridge looking for whatever vegetables we had on hand.  Luckily, we had some good stuff including leeks and Swiss chard; two of my favorite things (which I ironically do not eat that often).  So we had the beginnings of  yummy cold weather soup!

Wow! This really hit the spot and thankfully I am no longer chilled to the bone. It is filling and nutritious and this recipe makes enough to easily serve four with lots of leftovers.  I froze some for another day and have a good amount in the refrigerator, too. Looks like I don't have to worry about what is for lunch tomorrow!

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 carrot chopped
2 leeks cleaned and sliced into thin rounds
1 red pepper chopped
1 rib celery sliced or chopped
Chiffonade of several Swiss chard leaves (stems removed)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups medium pearled barley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium and add all vegetables except the Swiss chard. Sweat the vegetables until they turn a very bright color.  Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, thyme and barley. Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and cook for 30 minutes.  Add Swiss chard and continue to cook another 30 minutes or until the barley is tender.

Serve with some  toasted crusty bread. I was lucky enough to have some of the good stuff on hand- you know, the authentic Italian bread from Brooklyn.. It really doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

When we were on our honeymoon Mr.Meat and Potatoes and I spent a couple of days in England.  He ate Shepherd's Pie while we were there (a couple of times) and I remember that he liked it.  Why wouldn't he? It is right up his alley-- after all it is meat and potatoes!  I thought I would give a vegan version of this classic British dish a try. Good news- he calls it a winner and so do I.

This would be a great recipe to improvise with whatever veggies you may have in the house; especially those that have seen better days.  Below is my recipe - please let me know if you try it and also how you change it up!
















Meatless Shepherd's Pie

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp vegan sour cream such as Tofutti
4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
1/2 large Spanish onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used criminis)
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
14 oz faux ground beef ( I used Gimme Lean Beef Style)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
paprika

Set oven to broil. 

In a large pot boil the water and cook the potatoes until fork tender. Drain and place in a bowl with the 2 tbsp vegan sour cream, 2 tbsp of the Earth Balance and 1/4 cup non dairy milk. Mash the potatoes until almost smooth.  Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil, faux ground beef, carrot, onion, pepper, garlic and onion. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until vegetables are starting to soften and "meat" is browned. In a smaller skillet heat the rest of the Earth Balance (2 tbsp) with the flour for about two minutes. Add the vegetable stock and stir until smooth and thickened.  Add the 2 teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce and stir until incorporated.  Stir into the "meat" and veggie mixture.

In a 8 or 9 inch pie plate (or other similar sized vessel) spread the "meat" mixture evenly.Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. 

Place in the broiler until browned on top.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Veganlicious Pomegranate Clusters

Since I know almost no one that is vegan, and certainly no one that I socialize with regularly it can be somewhat isolating.  I am  however, fortunate to have found a community of like minded people on social networking sites. That is where I met  Laura Jill
















She recently tweeted about dark chocolate pomegranate clusters and I immediately knew I had to have them!  So, here I am the day after Thanksgiving with half a pumpkin pie, two thirds of an apple pie and a couple of pumpkin cupcakes leftover and running out to the store for pomegranates and dark chocolate!

I think about it this way. Pomegranates being a super food loaded with antioxidants and dark chocolate with it's heart healthy flavonoids and antioxidant properties make these little goodies healthy!

Thanks Laura Jill! I hope I can someday return the favor!

Veganlicious Pomegranate Clusters

10.5 oz good quality dark chocolate (I used endangered species supreme dark chocolate)
2 pomegranates worth of arils (pomegranate seeds)

In a double boiler heat the dark chocolate until smooth and melted.  Turn off the heat and mix the pomegranate arils into the chocolate.  Drop in spoonfuls on a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate until cooled. 

How easy was that!?!  Here's to your health!

Note: it is best to make sure the arils are dry as if they are wet and you put them into the chocolate it may seize.

Roasted Pear Salad

I really wanted to do a unique salad for Thanksgiving.  I thought about all sorts of veggie salads including roasted vegetables but in the end I decided on roasting fruit instead.  For some reason I never seem to think about roasting fruit but now that that I have tried these roasted pears, I am quite sure I will do so more often. The pears were so tender and flavorful and were a perfect topper to a simple bed of tender lettuce.
















I am already thinking about roasting peaches, plums and whatever else I can find in the produce aisles of my grocery store or the Farmer's market when the weather warms up.

Roasted Pear Salad

2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 firm pears, halved legnthwise
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup figs, chopped
2 tbs lemon juice
8 oz Boston lettuce
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a sauce pan. Heat on low until the sugar is just dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pecans in a skillet and toast over medium heat until they become fragrant but not burned. Mix the figs and pecans together and set aside.

Scoop the center of each pear with a melon baller and dip each pear half in lemon juice. Fill each hole with the pecan and fig mixture. Drizzle the dressing over the top of each pear ensuring each is sufficiently covered reserving some extra.  Roast at 375 degrees until tender (about 30 minutes).

Clean and tear the lettuce and place it on a dish. Top with one pear half and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Sweet Potato and Walnut Pancakes

As a kid I would never eat the candied sweet potatoes that would show up on the Thanksgiving table.I thought I didn't like sweet potatoes. Years later I figured out it wasn't the sweet potatoes I didn't like it was the candied part I objected to.  I now love sweet potatoes and sort of lament that it took me well into my adult life to figure out how good they really are.  The fact that they are a nutritional powerhouse is a great side benefit!
















I made potato pancakes for the first time a while back. I loved them. So, while planning my Thanksgiving menu I thought why not take the sweet potato, a traditional Thanksgiving side, and potato pancakes up a notch and use sweet potatoes ? They were not hard to make and added a little extra, unexpected flair to my Thanksgiving table. Plus, I realized I had grated way too many potatoes for the six  people that would be around the table so I took the extra and added a few ingredients to make a sweet potato loaf (I have not tried it yet but if it is good I will share in an upcoming post- stay tuned).

Sweet Potato and Walnut Pancakes

2 to 2.5 pounds sweet potatoes shredded (skins on)
1/2 large white onion chopped fine
1/2 cup walnuts chopped fine
1/2 cup parsley chopped
2 tbsp ground flax meal
2 tbsp boiling water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the water and pour over the flax seed meal and set aside until it becomes a gelatinous mass. Mix the sweet potato, onion and walnuts together (I actually did all three ingredients together in a food processor). Add the lemon juice- this will prevent the potatoes from becoming brown.

Add the whole wheat flour, flax seed meal mix, salt and pepper.  Mix well ensuring the four and flax seed meal are thoroughly incorporated (I did this with my hands).

In a large saute pan heat oil over medium heat. Drop dollops of the potato mixture into the hot oil spreading them with a fork or wooden spoon until they are thin. Allow to brown well and flip. Continue cooking until both sides are crispy and brown.

I ate mine with some vegan sour cream. You don't really need it- they are good all by themselves!

No Cheese Spanakopita

In planning my Thanksgiving menu I decided that we needed something made with phyllo dough.  As I have said in the past, everything tastes better wrapped in phyllo!  And, dishes made with phyllo just feel festive to me. I suppose this is a result of growing up in a Middle Eastern family where gatherings often featured dishes made with phyllo.
















Though it is a bit of work, phyllo is pretty forgiving and seems always to come out looking as beautiful as it tastes.This is no exception. And, my favorite part of this dish is that my daughter helped me make it. I love cooking with my kids and am glad they are interested.

I used a mixture of frozen and fresh spinach only because I wanted to use the frozen spinach I had  the house. You can adjust quantities of spinach to make the filling layer as thick or thin as you want.

No Cheese Spanakopita

2 10 oz  packages frozen spinach thawed; moisture removed
15 oz oz fresh  organic baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
5 green onions finely chopped (use both the white and green part)
1/4 cup fennel fronds finely chopped
24 phyllo dough sheets
3/4 cup +2 tbsp olive oil
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In  a large skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add fresh spinach, frozen spinach, dill, parsley, and fennel until the fresh spinach is thoroughly wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Brush the pan you will be baking the spanakopita in with oil.  I used the equivalent of a 9x13 pan.  Lay the phyllo sheets one at a time in the pan leaving some overlapping the sides.  Brush each sheet with oil before adding the next one. Repeat until you have laid 12 sheets.  Add the spinach mixture and spread evenly.  Fold the overlap over top of the mixture. Repeat with the next twelve sheets.  Tuck the overlap into the dish.  Score the top into serving size squares.  Wet your hands and shake the excess over the top of the spanakopita.

Bake at 350 on the rack just below the middle of the oven for one hour. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Potato Lasagna

I guess I am on a lasagna kick! Two posts in a row dedicated to lasagna, and this is too good not to share.  It reminds me a bit of a dish my Mom used to make sometimes when we were younger as well as potato and onion pieroges (which I have had NO luck finding prepackaged and vegan).
















Anyway, this is a filling comfort food and as a result of the preparation of the potatoes I believe I have found a new (and believe it or not even easier) way to make awesome mashed potatoes.  You could easily add vegan cheese or other vegetables to this to dress it up. I like it's simplicity but may toy around with some variations.

This recipe makes either one large 9x13 pan or two smaller 8x8 pans. I chose the two smaller so that I could freeze one for my husband to warm up on one of the many days I am traveling and not home to make a meal for the family.

Enjoy!

Potato Lasagna

1 large white onion chopped fine
10 medium red bliss potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
1 package cooked lasagna noodles
1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
2 cups water
2 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut)
salt  and pepper to taste
Cooking oil spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot (a dutch oven works well) heat the oil over medium and add the onions until they are soft and translucent (about ten minutes).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1/2 stick of Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread and stir until melted. 

Add the potatoes, water and non dairy milk. The potatoes should be just covered. Adjust as necessary.  Raise heat to high.  Cover and cook until the potatoes start to become tender (about 15 minutes).  Remove cover and continue to cook over medium heat until the potatoes begin to break apart.  You may help this process along by using a potato masher.  Stir often until potatoes are completely broken down.  Turn off the heat, add the rest of the Vegan Buttery Spread and stir until melted.  With a hand mixer beat the potatoes until smooth.  Stir in the parsley.

Spray each of the 8x8 dishes with cooking oil.  Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom and top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Layer on more potatoes and then noodles until the noodles are gone.  Finish with a layer of potato. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Uncover and allow to bake another fifteen minutes or so until the edges are browned. Allow to cool ten minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Polenta Lasagna

Did you ever have an idea or thought at 3 in the morning and know that you have to do something with it?  For whatever reason I woke up last night thinking that I had to make  a polenta lasagna.  To be truthful I have never heard of such a thing before.  I didn't want to lose the thought so I googled polenta lasagna this morning to find out that I am definitely not the first person to think of this.  That's OK, the recipes I found gave me ideas for the one I put together this evening. 
















As it turns out my Sister was unexpectedly at my Mother's today so we all decided to get together for dinner.  Often I bring my own meal as not to make too much work for my Mother.  Lucky for me I had this awesome lasagna to bring with me.  My sister and Father tried it and they both said it was great (they were right!).  And, my Sister will be over tomorrow with her kids so I know what we are having for lunch!

Polenta Lasagna

1 tube of polenta
24 oz vegan marinara sauce
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
4 garlic cloves minced fine
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup vegan cream cheese
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/3 cup parsley rough chopped
2 tbsp chiffonade of basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
4 oz Daiya mozzarella shreds
1 medium tomato, sliced
Small can sliced black olives
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Over medium heat in a saute pan heat the oil and add onions and celery until translucent and tender but not browned.  Add the garlic and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted and flavors develop. Season with salt and pepper.  Turn off heat and set aside

In a bowl mix the cream cheese, oregano, thyme, marjoram, parsley, basil, nutritional yeast and spinach mixture.  Stir to incorporate.

In the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish pour half the marinara sauce.  Slice the polenta and place a layer of polenta on top of the sauce (9 rounds).  Top with 1/2 of the spinach and cream cheese mixture and then add another layer of polenta. Place the rest of the cream cheese on top and  follow with another layer of polenta.  Pour on the rest of the sauce and top with the Daiya cheese.  Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, remove the foil and place tomato slices and sliced olives on top. Return to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. 

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brownies

When my son Max was little, starting at about age 3, he always wanted to help me in the kitchen.  We cooked together for years and when his sister Camille got old enough she joined us as well. Over the years, she seems to have maintained her interest in cooking. She is eight, and has mastered some dishes that she can cook all by herself! Max, however, hasn't been as enthusiastic about cooking as he once was.
















Max is now twelve and in seventh grade.  As it turns out they still have "Home Economics" (though they no longer call it that- it is now "Family and Consumer Science" but to me that just sounds like code for "Home Ec").  Anyway, it is all good because it has renewed his interest in cooking.  Today he told me that he was supposed to make something over his Thanksgiving break and asked if he could make it all by himself.  Absolutely!  He said he wanted to make vegan brownies- man, I love that kid!

We searched the Internet and found the recipe below. The original calls for white sugar but we had Turbinado so we used that.  He really did the whole thing by himself (I only did the plating for the photo). They are really wonderful brownies. Soft, moist and chocolaty! Thanks, Max!

Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp organic vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla.  Mix until well incorporated. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish ensuring the mixture is spread evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is no longer shiny and a a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the brownies. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Veggie Pot Pie

It is Sunday and I have had a really lazy day after a very late but great night out with dear friends.  I did not feel like going to the store today, or for that matter even getting out of my pajamas. So, today I had to do the best I could with an admittedly bare cupboard.  After looking at all I had on hand (both fresh and frozen), and given that it is Football Sunday which requires easy, hearty food I decided it was pot pie. You could modify this recipe to accommodate whatever you have on hand. For a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants meal, this was pretty darn good!
















Veggie Pot Pie

1/2 red onion chopped fine
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 acorn squash, seeded, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup vegetable stock divided
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup frozen corn
1 12 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
1 10 oz package frozen baby peas
1 10 oz package frozen baby lima beans
1 1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non dairy milk)
2 cups Bisquick Pancake mix
3 tsp EnerG Egg Replacer
4 tbsp water
3 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chipotle chili pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the filling:
Over medium heat saute onion and garlic in the Earth Balance butter until soft and translucent.  Add the acorn squash and 1/4 cup of vegetable stock. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is cooked through. Add frozen vegetables and heat until warmed through.  Add thyme,  salt and pepper.parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the creamy base:
In a separate pot put the rest of the vegetable stock, flour and 1/2 cup of Coconut milk beverage and heat over medium heat, continually whisking. When mixture is smooth and bubbling add it to the vegetable mixture.

Pour the vegetable mixture into a large casserole dish that has been sprayed lightly with cooking oil.

For the topping:
In a bowl combine 2 cups Bisquick pancake mix, 1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage. Add the EnerG egg Replacer to the water and whisk.  Add to the Bisquick and Coconut Milk. Stir to incorporate.

Place the Bisquick mixture on top of the vegetables in the casserole. Sprinkle with the chipotle chili pepper and bake for approximately 40 minutes until the top is browned and the vegetable mixture is bubbly.
















Allow to cool before serving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sarma (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

This is one of my favorite things to eat. In my Middle Eastern family we always called them Sarma but many people refer to them as Dolma.  As I understand it Dolma means to stuff or fill and Sarma means to wrap. No matter what you call it you may certainly call it delicious!

My Mother, my Father's sister and sisters in law, my cousins and Metzmama (that's Armenian for Grandmother) and I am guessing her mother and mother's mother many generations back made this recipe the exact same way.  I have never seen another recipe for stuffed grape leaves quite like this one and it is by far my favorite.


I will warn you that this is time consuming and requires some technique as well as lots of love. I made these with my eight year old daughter today; and so the tradition continues. I love cooking with my kids and I am glad they have an interest in learning.  My daughter did a great job at rolling up these grape leaves. I hope she enjoys the fruits of our labor as much as I know I will.

Sarma (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

1 large jar of grape leaves (approximately 100 leaves)
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 15 oz can of chick peas (rinsed and drained)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry long grain rice
3/4 cup chopped parsley
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2-3/4 tsp allspice (ground)
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Water- to cover (or Sumac Tea)
Juice of 3-4 lemons

Rinse grape leaves in a colander and drain well. Over a medium heat olive oil and add onions. Cook until very tender but not browned. Turn off heat, add the chick peas, tomato paste, parsley, walnuts, rice, allspice, paprika, salt and pepper and mix until incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
















Lay grape leaves on a flat surface vein side up.  Trim stems. Place about a teaspoon of the filling onto the center of the grape leaves and wrap  into small cigar shapes.  To do this roll from the bottom with the stem portion closest to you. Fold the stem portion over the mixture and then fold the two sides of the leaf in toward the center and continue this process until you reach the point of the leaf.
















Layer the stuffed grape leaves in a large pan (a dutch oven works well).  Fill with water or sumac tea until just covered. Add lemon juice (use more or less according to your taste).  Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer, cover and  continue to cook for about two hours until the rice is cooked.
















Cool and serve at room temperature with thin lemon slices or wedges.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stuffed Artichokes

My whole life my Mother and Grandmother made stuffed artichokes.  They often showed up on holiday dinner tables as well as during family dinners. Even though my Grandmother is not here anymore to make them, my Mother still makes them often. My Mom even makes "special" ones for me- without the Romano cheese, which is the only change needed in order to make these vegan. Honestly, I do not even notice the difference without the cheese.


Even though my whole family likes them. I have only made them once before, a very long time ago, and honestly, they just did not turn out like my Mom's.

I decided to give them a try again this weekend.  I am not sure why, but I always thought these were especially complicated. Not the case! Actually, quite the opposite. Very few ingredients, nothing to be done on the stove top and they can actually be cooked pretty quickly in the microwave.

These are sure to impress as they do give the appearance of slaving in the kitchen all day.  It can be our secret that these are very simple and easy to make!

Stuffed Artichokes

6 artichokes
2 1/4 cups breadcrumb
1 cup minced parsley
1 medium onion minced
1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tbsp
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

If cooking in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Trim artichoke stems so that they may stand upright.  Cut the pointed end of the artichoke to flatten the bottom.  Trim pointed leaves with a scissor. Spread leaves apart to ready them for stuffing. Dip cut side in lemon juice to keep from darkening.

Mix the breadcrumb, parsley, onion, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Stir to moisten. Stuff artichokes with mixture by spreading leaves and filling.  Tamp down and continue to stuff.  Place artichokes stuffed side up in a pan.  Drizzle with the 1/2 cup olive oil, ensuring each artichoke is sufficiently moistened. Fill the bottom of the pan with about 1/4 inch of water.


Stuffed and ready to go!

If cooking in the oven cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until tender.  If using the microwave, cover with plastic wrap folding back one corner allowing the steam to vent while cooking. Microwave on high for 13-15 minutes or until tender (note: microwave cooking times can vary greatly so adjust for your particular microwave).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I love the start of the holidays.  Crisp fall weather, brilliantly colored leaves on the trees, the smell of fireplaces burning and  inside the kitchen the smells of holiday baking.  There really is nothing better than kitchen aromas of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. And of course, with fall, comes the harvest of pumpkins- both nutritious and delicious.















I wish I knew who to credit this vegan pumpkin  bread recipe to.  It came to me from my sister who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, etc. So, I am not exactly sure whose brilliant recipe this is but it's a keeper. Even me, a self proclaimed non- baker, was able to turn out some of the most delicious pumpkin bread I have ever tasted!  And, since it makes two loaves, there is one to eat now and one to freeze for later!

This is really simple to make and is terrific! I served it as desert for my (non-vegan) parents and family last night and they all said it was great.

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup Turbinado raw sugar plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin (I used Libby's)
2/3 cup  vegetable oil
2/3 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix all all dry ingredients together and create a well in the center. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients until incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Split the mixture between two greased loaf pans.  Sprinkle each with about a tablespoon of Turbinado sugar.  Do not overfill as the bread will rise during baking. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes (tenting with foil after an hour if needed) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and tent with foil for ten minutes.  Remove the bread from the pans and transfer to a cooling rack (still tented with foil) and allow to cool completely.