Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year, Good Karma and a Veggie Tartlet

It's a new year and with a new year comes resolution. Last year I joined my friend JL in her quest to Stop Chasing Skinny and start chasing good health, both in body and spirit.  I have lost the scale in favor of eating a more healthful diet. I have tried to promote a positive body image message for my daughter.  I plan to continue that this year.

Joining JL in no longer chasing skinny has been a great experience for me. And, as we head into the new year I want to continue to build on that momentum and create a greater state of emotional well being.

I have learned some valuable lessons this year.  I have realized that family aren't necessarily friends and that good friends can be family!  I have realized that people can be very hurtful and mean, sometimes without even realizing it.  I have become keenly aware that some people not only don't understand veganism but are sometimes angered by it. My resolve is to let the negative energy associated with hurtfulness go, educate where I can and to focus on cultivating that which creates positive energy.

Karma is a powerful thing and my goal is to create (and hopefully receive) as much good karma as possible!  And that includes being the change I want to see in the world- compassion, kindness, and respect toward all living beings, both human and non-human. If I can do that I am absolutely sure a greater state of well being will take care of itself.

And, in the name of good karma, here is a little snack that I found on Vegan Noms.  I love to take inspiration from other bloggers out there and I hope I am able to give you a little bit of inspiration in the kitchen, too! I can think of no better way to create and receive good karma!

Happy New Year to you! What are your resolutions for 2012?

Veggie Tartlets

3 packages mini frozen phyllo shell tarts
1 bunch asparagus, tough stems removed,  chopped
1/2 butternut squash, chopped
5 oz shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 jar spicy red pepper jelly

Preheat the oven to 375 or whatever temperature is indicated for the tart shells.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the vegetables and saute for a couple of minutes until starting to get tender.  Add the balsamic vinegar and give it a few stirs.

Place the tart shells on a baking dish and spoon the mixture into each shell.  Bake in the oven for about five minutes until the shells are slightly browned and crispy.

Remove from the oven and top each tartlet with a teaspoon of pepper jelly and serve.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Smoky Potato Tort

As things wind down from the holidays I am so ready to start cooking and eating normally again.  I have enjoyed for family, particularly a great Christmas dinner!. But att this point I honestly think I have had enough cookies and sweets until next Christmas!

Today, I realized that I must have "overbought" potatoes when shopping for Christmas dinner.  So, in a quest to use those up I decided to try out a smoky potato tart, my take on a recipe I ran across recently on the Food Network.

It was easy to prepare and is quite tasty. I think this will be part of a low key dinner this evening. I am thinking that for the first time in a while I am not even going to bother setting a table.  

And, be warned, it is likely you will see some more potato recipes in the near future as I still have a bunch to use up!

Smoky Potato Tort

6 strips smoky tempeh (I used Light Life Fakin'Bacon)
1 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup non dairy coffee creamer (I used So Delicious Original)
3 thyme sprigs
3 baking potatoes, peeled
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya Mozzarella)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pie crusts (I cheated and used store bought)
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Fry up the tempeh in a skillet with the olive oil over medium to medium high heat until very crispy- a few minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to cool.  When cool enough to touch crumble or cut into small pieces.

In a small sauce pan place the non dairy creamer and thyme sprigs.  Bring to just below boiling and turn off the heat.  Allow thyme to steep for at least five minutes.  

Slice the potatoes lengthwise and slice very thin. I used a mandoline to do this. Place a pie crust in the bottom of a pie dish and layer the potatoes circularly.  Season the potatoes with the tempeh, green onion, salt and pepper evenly each time you add a layer. The dish should be filled nearly to the top.

Add the vegan cheese. Remove the thyme sprigs from the non dairy creamer and pour over the top.  

Place the other pie crust on top of the layered potatoes and crimp to close around the edges. Cut a few slits in the top crust in order to allow the steam to escape while cooking.  Brush the top with the melted earth balance and bake at 375 fr 50-60 minutes until the crust is nicely browned.  

Allow to cool for at least 20 mintes before serving.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Fritters

Wow, it has been a whirlwind lately. I am finally finished work for the year. I finished all of my Christmas shopping, everything is wrapped and I am now focusing on dinner for ten on Christmas Day.  Wait, am I?

Yesterday, I started to cook for Christmas dinner by making  Israeli Stuffed Dates and a lasagna.  In addition I baked a loaf of bread and made the kids a nice home made pizza for dinner - I used the crust recipe from the Potato Pizza I made not too long ago.  And, I also found a little "extra" time to cook up this sweet potato (or at least part of the sweet potato- it was mammoth!) that a friend grew in his garden.

I took my inspiration for this dish from Gourmand Recipes. Theirs called for pumpkin and egg but try finding an actual pumpkin after Halloween! I got around the egg easily with a little bit of EnerG egg replacer.

Honestly, other than splashing 350 degree oil all over my right hand (I'm OK) it was a nice snack while doing all the cooking for Christmas dinner.

Even Mr. Meat and Potatoes, a self proclaimed sweet potato hater, liked these.  I served them with sriracha sauce but they are great on their own as well.

OK- back to cooking for Christmas, now. Still a Nut Loaf, Sigara Borek, a Green Bean Casserole and other goodies to make!

Sweet Potato Fritters

1 cup coarsely grated sweet potato
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 1/2 tsp EnerG Egg Replacer mixed with 1 tbsp water
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded. sliced an chopped
1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)

In a large bowl place the grated sweet potato and salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes (this will extract some of the moisture from the potato).

In a large bowl combine the four, baking powder, yeast and sugar.   Squeeze the moisture out of the sweet potato and add to the bowl with the non dairy milk, egg replacer, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Cover and allow to sit for one hour or until mixture doubles in size.

Once mixture is ready heat oil to about 350 degrees.  Spoon mixture by the tablespoon full into the hot oil and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes turning once until golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

"Cheese" Tuile Crackers

Everybody loves mac and cheese and I am no exception. I don't eat the "real thing" any more but I do know that my favorite part of a home made macaroni and cheese was the crispy "burnt" cheese that would develop on the outside of the casserole dish.  What a treat to get a few of those pieces of crusty cheese in your serving.

When I was first introduced to Daiya Cheese substitute I began to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches again. Because of the way Daiya is shredded it is a bit of a balancing act when making grilled cheese- especially when you flip the sandwich in the pan the first time.  I find that no matter how careful you are some of those shreds will escape the sandwich and fall onto the bottom of the pan.

It did not take long to dawn on me that those escapaed shreds would brown nicely and when picked from the bottom of the pan and eaten taste exactly like the crusty cheese from a home made mac and cheese casserole.

That got me to thinking that the Daiya shreds coud easily be cooked up and used as a cheese tuile to garnish salads, to serve topped as a cracker, or to snack on, the way some people do Cheez-Its..  I could not decide if I should call these tuiles or crackers so I decided on both.

Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate them and said they were good.  Let's just say he is not normally a fan of Daiya (or any other cheese substitute).

I topped these with some leftover filling I had from my Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms.  You can top yours with whatever you like on a cracker!

"Cheese" Tuile Crackers

1 package Daiya Cheddar Style Crumbles

Place a non stick skillet over low to medium low heat  on the stovetop.  When the pan is hot put a small handful of Daiya Cheddar Style crumbles.  Allow a few minutes for the cheese to melt.  Flip with a spatula ensuring both sides are nicely browned.  Transfer to some parchment paper to cool and then serve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Israeli Stuffed Dates

I love the idea of stuffed dates- both savory and sweet. There are a million variations out there as dates are a great vessel for stuffing. I decided on nuts, chocolate and coconut and  I think they will be great on my holiday dessert table.

I did 25 of them by stuffing them, rolling them in melted chocolate and finishing them with dried coconut.  For the rest that were in the package I skipped the chocolate since my Father cannot eat it.  Instead I rolled his in a little bit of Karo Light Corn Syrup and then the coconut.

Very simple to do and a nice Middle Eastern treat.

Israeli Stuffed Dates

25 Medjool Dates
25 pecan halves
8 oz vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 cup (or  more) unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Remove the pits from the dates and replace them with pecan halves. Place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

In a double boiler over medium heat melt the chocolate chips.  Stir in the 2 tbsp of non dairy milk until well incorporated. The mixture should be very smooth.

Remove from the heat and working quickly drop each date into the chocolate with a spoon. Roll it around to ensure it is coated and remove it with the spoon.  Roll it in the coconut and place on the wax paper lined sheet. I actually found it very easy to sprinkle some coconut on the wax paper first and then sprinkle coconut on the date.  Be sure it is well coated on all sides.

Cover and place in the refrigerator until the chocolate has firmed up before serving.  Store in the refrigerator.

Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms

I am not really sure what makes these Tuscan but I like the name Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms.  And, Giada DeLaurentis made something similar on an episode of Everyday Italian so I figured I could call mine Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms also.

These are super simple to put together and are really big on flavor.  I am going to make these for a snack before dinner on Christmas day when I have a whole crowd to feed!

Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pound button mushrooms, stems removed
1/4 cup green manzanilla pimento stuffed olives, chopped
1 roasted red pepper
1/4 red onion
1/2 bulb garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roast a red pepper over a flame until the skin is blackened. You can do this on a gas grill or a gas burner on the stove. If you do not have either you could use roasted red peppers n a jar.  Remove fromt the flame and allow to cool.

Cut onion into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper..  Place the garlic on some foil and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Close the foil to create a pouch and place on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast until the onions are just starting to crisp and the garlic is browned and softened, about 15- 20 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Remove the charred skin from the peppers, cut them open and remove the veins and seeds and roughly chop.  Chop the roasted onions and garlic. Place the peppers, onion, garlic and onions in a bowl and stir.  Add the nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Test the mixture before salting  as the olives are fairly salty.

Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and fill each with some of the pepper and olive mixture.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Chocolate Hazelnut Croissants

I have never had Nutella. I have heard of it,  even long before I went vegan but for whatever reason I never tried it.

I recently found a recipe for a vegan Nutella like spread and since I had a bunch of hazelnuts on had I decided to give it a try.  I like it.

To take it a step further, instead of just slathering it on some toast, I decided to bake it into some crescent rolls. I had the canned Pillsbury type on hand so I used those.

They came out nicely and are great with a hot cup of coffee.  I have a lot of the spread left so I am going to have to find some other creative uses for it.

Chocolate Hazelnut Croissants

2 cups shelled, toasted hazelnuts
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 cup canola oil
1 package canned crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor blend hazelnuts until they start to ball up and become a nut butter. This will take a few minutes.  You may need to stop periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the confectioners sugar and cocoa and continue to blend.  Slowly add the canola oil and blend until all is well incorporated.

On a baking sheet place the croissants dough triangles, one at a time, unrolled.  With a pastry brush slather the spread on the dough. Roll to form a croissant. Repeat until all are finished.

Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cookies n' Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies

So many things are running through my mind as I sit down to write this.  Oh, where to start? Maybe with the fact that I have discovered that Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix is vegan as sold in the box? And that Oreo Cookies and Hershey's Chocolate Syrup is too?

Perhaps that I am literally obsessed with finding recipes that look spectacular but are not vegan and transforming them be just as spectacular (or more so) in a vegan version? That I am so happy that So Delicous makes so many great non dairy products?

Or, maybe that have discovered Pinterest, one of the most innovative social networking sites I have seen to date and that I owe these brownies to a pin I found there?

When I saw these brownies I knew I had to make them and added them to my "Recipes to Veganize" board.  At the time I did not know I could get a brownie mix that was already vegan (bonus!).

I am not great with baking without an exact recipe to follow but I figured it shouldn't be too hard and decided to try it.

Wow, wow, wow these were spectacular.  Not particularly healthy but a wonderful, over the top indulgent treat.  And hey, it is the holidays and I have been pretty good this year!

Cookies n' Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies

1 boxed brownie mix (I used Ghiradelli Double Chocolate)
1 1/2 tsp EnerG egg replacer (or enough to replace the eggs your Brownie mix calls for)
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup vegan Cookies and Cream ice cream (I used So Delicious brand)
1/4 cup vegan Chocolate Syrup, or the amount equal to the water your mix calls for  (I used Hershey's)
1/3 cup vegetable oil, or whatever your brownie mix calls for
16 Oreo Cookies

Preheat oven to the temperature indicated on the brownie mix.  In this case it was 325 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg replacer and water.  Set aside.  I a large bowl add the brownie mix, ice cream chocolate syrup and vegetable oil. Mix in the egg replacer and stir until a thick batter forms.

Spray an 8x8 dish with non stick cooking spray.  Layer the Oreos on the bottom of the dish.  Pour the brownie mixture over top of the cookies ensuring they are completely and evenly covered.

Place in the oven for about 50 minutes (I found I had to bake mine about ten minutes longer than the package directions.  I did not use the method of inserting a toothpick to determine doneness as based on the nature of the ingredients they are pretty gooey.

Allow to cool before serving.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mushroom Rice Casserole

I love to browse food blogs and websites of all sorts for recipes that inspire me to cook.  Some of my favorite dishes are ones that started out non vegan that I was able to transform into a vegan version.

I stumbled across this recipe at 101 Cookbooks quite a while ago. It sounded and looked great and I absolutely loved the author's commentary in the post.  Like her, I have many recipes that invoke memories of childhood in my Mothers kitchen.

I changed this quite a bit in order to make it vegan but I think the general integrity of the original is left intact.  This is definitely a great holiday dinner table or comfort food meal that seems best suited for the winter months.

As the author notes in her post, I agree this would be a great way to sneak in some extra veggies at a meal.  As I ate this I literally thought it screamed for green beans! Next time!

Mushroom Casserole

1 1/2 cups brown rice
4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp olive oil
10 oz shitake mushrooms, chopped
5 green onions, chopped fine (green and white parts)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped and divided
3 tsp EnerG egg replacer
4 tbsp water
1/8 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/2 cup vegan "ricotta" ( I used Tofutti "Better than Ricotta but you could use a home made tofu "ricotta")
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup breadcrumb
1/2 tbsp Earth Balance Butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the brown rice by adding it to a pan with the vegetable stock or water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbe and the rice tender (about 45 minutes). Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium heat add olive oil to a saute pan.  Add garlic,  mushrooms and green onions.  Season with salt and pepper. Saute a few minutes until the mushrooms soften. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the vegan ricotta, two tablespoons of non dairy milk,and sour cream.  In a small bowl whisk together the EnerG egg replace with 4 tbsp water and pour into the ricotta mixture. Add 1 tbsp thyme, the vegan sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate.  Add the rice and nutritional yeast into the ricotta mixture and stir.

Lightly grease a casserole dish (I used one slightly smaller than a 9x13) and turn the rice mixture into it.  Mix the melted Earth Balance and bread crumb in a small dish until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the casserole and cover with foil.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the casserole bubbly.  Sprinkle with the remaining thyme.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes and serve.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Minute Chocolate Cake

Recently my Twitter pal Vegan Vagrant tweeted and then subsequently posted on his blog a Three Minute Chocolate Cake he made in the microwave.  Huh???

While I almost never use a microwave I thought it would be fun to try it with the kids for a quick weeknight dessert. Guess what? It worked! And it tastes good, too!!

As it turns out this is a recipe from The Happy Herbivores latest cookbook Every Day Happy Herbivore.  Believe it or not, I had not yet made any of her recipes. Perhaps I shall buy the cookbook and try some others!

I did substitute all purpose flour for whole wheat as I did not have any whole wheat flour in the house. It worked fine, though obviously not as healthy as whole wheat.  But, hey, it is cake and no one ever said cake was supposed to be healthy!!

If you are looking for a quick and tasty dessert you should give this a try. I think it would be really good with some fresh berries. We certainly had fun making it!

Three Minute Chocolate Cake

4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
A few drops vanilla extract
Dash cinnamon
3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli semi sweet)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a second bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Pour the wet into the dry and mix until the consistency of cake batter. Add the chocolate chips and stir.

Pour batter into a small ramekin or coffee cup and microwave for three minutes on high and serve.

Note: I lightly greased a ramekin so that I could easily remove the cake. Three minutes is recommended for a 1000 watt microwave oven. You may need to adjust up or down for your particular oven.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rice Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

My Mom makes the best rice pilaf I have ever had, hands down.  And, lucky for me we ate it often growing up.  She still makes it often, and my kids love it, too.  I no longer eat it as it is made with loads and loads of butter but when I close my eyes I can still taste it.

Sunday night my daughter wanted to cook dinner. Her choice was rice pilaf and brussels sprouts. She is really becoming quite the cook! We decided to make my Mom's pilaf using Earth Balance vegan butter instead of regular butter.  The result was very good.  Not my Mom's but I seriously think no one can make pilaf better than she, regardless of what type of butter is used.  

Rice Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

20 Brussels sprouts, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/4 cup Vermicelli pasta broken into 1/2" pieces
1 cup long grain rice
1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Butter
2 cups boiling vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Place Brussels sprouts on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle pepper and onion salt on them and toss to coat.  Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until the sprouts are nicely caramelized.

While the sprouts are roasting In a saute pan melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.  Once it has melted add the vermicelli and allow to brown slightly. Add the rice and stir.  Allow to cook until the rice becomes pearlized.  Add the boiling vegetable stock, turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve rice topped with Brussels sprouts.

Magic Cookie Bars aka "Instant Fat"

For as long as I can remember my Mom has made lots of different cookies at Christmas time.  Growing up I had several favorites, among them Magic Cookie Bars.  They were nicknamed "instant fat" by my cousin Brian and the name stuck.  And, why not? Between the butter, sugar, nuts and coconut these are loaded with both calories and fat. But oh, they are so, so good!

I decided to try a vegan version of these treats after my friend JL posted about vegan magic cookie bars in her Food is Activism series. The ones she posted looked great. They had peanut butter in them which sounds wonderful but is a departure from the ones my Mom makes.  So I took to the web and found several vegan Magic Cookie Bar recipes prior to settling on this one by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen.

I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of the brown sugar. I did not have dark brown sugar so I used light brown. The result was fantastic and I cannot wait to send this vegan (but not particularly healthy) version  of "Instant Fat" to Brooklyn for Brian to enjoy.  I think they are just as good as the original but will allow Brian the final verdict.

Magic Cookie Bars

1 14 oz can coconut milk
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (read the label- not all graham crackers are vegan)
2 tbsp organic sugar
1/2 cup melted Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli semi sweet)
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On the stovetop in a pan bring the coconut milk and brown sugar to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted Earth Balance until the Earth balance is well incorporated.

On a parchment lined 9x13 pan press the graham cracker crumbs into the pan starting in the center and working your way out to the sides.  Be sure to cover the entire bottom and press very firmly.

Pour the coconut milk mixture over the graham cracker, add a layer of chocolate chips, coconut and then nuts.  Press ingredients down with your hands ensuring the coconut milk mixture is absorbed into the upper layers.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.  Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least four hours, preferably overnight.  Cut into bars, remove from the pan and enjoy.

Quick Pickled Beets

I love beets- all colors and preparations. I have yet to have beets that I did not like!  While shopping recently I ran across organic beets in two lovely colors- red and yellow. I bought a bunch of each and they are delicious but there is a limit to how many beets a gal can eat- especially since I am the only one in the house that likes them.

So, I decided to pickle some of them.  After some research on pickling liquid I created this one. Not bad for a first attempt- these pickled beets are delicious.

Pickled beets

3 yellow beets
3 red beets
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups organic sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp celery seed

In  a pot mix the vinegars, sugar, salt, peppercorns, mustard seed and celery seed.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about thirty minutes.  Strain and set aside to cool.

With a mandolin or spiral slicer cut the beets very thin.  Place into a plastic container (I did they yellow and red beets separately so the yellow beets would remain yellow).  Pour the cooled liquid over the beets, cover and store in the refrigerator.

I tasted mine after just one day and they were great but I suspect they will get even better the longer they pickle.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Stuffed Onions

Sometimes I dream recipes. Literally. A couple of nights ago I  had a dream about making stuffed onions and placing them in a bowl of butternut squash soup.  Who knows why- maybe the I had the Food Network on to someone cooking butternut squash as I fell asleep?  Well, whatever the reason, it turned out to be a good dream!

The recipe for the soup makes far more than I needed to serve the stuffed onions in but it is delicious and can either be frozen or eaten as soup for another meal.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Stuffed Onions

1 butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic very roughly chopped
2 tsp curry powder, divided
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Original)
4 Vidalia onions, hollowed out until only the outer two layers remian
6 oz brown pearl mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 oz shitake mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the butternut squash chunks and garlic on a roasting pan and drizzle with two of the tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and one of the teaspoons of curry powder. Roast for half an hour or until the squash is soft.  Remove the squash and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Place the hollowed out onions on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to cook until tender- about 40 minutes.

While the onions are roasting place the chunks of squash, two cups of vegetable stock and 3/4 cup of non dairy creamer in a pot.  Heat over medium heat until nice and warm.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the additional teaspoon of curry powder and blend until incorporated.  You may want to transfer the soup back to the pot to keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

Place the other tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the 1/4 cup of onion and saute until soft and translucent- about three or four minutes.  Add salt, pepper and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and become soft. Add the rosemary and thyme and red wine. Simmer until liquid is reduced by about half.

When the onions are finished remove them from the oven and assemble the dish.  Place some soup in a bowl, add the onion and fill it with the mushroom mixture.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I have been hearing about chocolate pudding made from avocado for some time but have never made it.  Recently a friend commented that he had more avocados than he knew what to do with so I suggested this chocolate pudding.

He said it was good so I figured I would give it a try. Who would have thought a pudding made out of avocado could have the same consistency as traditional chocolate pudding?  I liked it and the kids ate some and generally liked it but we all felt it was slightly bitter so next time I will use raw cocoa powder (I only had the regular on hand) as suggested in the original recipe or increase the agave/decrease the cocoa powder slightly.  You can adjust according to your own taste.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

1 avocado pitted and removed from the shell
1/3 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp cocoa powder (preferably raw)
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla

In a blender mix all ingredients until smooth and the consistency of pudding.  Refrigerate and serve.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving with Omnis & an Easy Sugar Cookie

Thanksgiving morning the family was feeling pretty lazy.  No one was in a rush to get out of their pajamas. In fact it was after one o'clock before anyone even thought about showering or getting dressed! I hung out in the kitchen making a green bean casserole that I would take to my Parent's for Thanksgiving dinner and the kids and I decided to bake some cookies.

I really wanted to make a cinnamon sugar cookies but I couldn't find a recipe I liked. I stumbled upon this recipe for sugar cookies that were flavored with lemon. I adapted them to make them cinnamon sugar cookies.

But, before we get  to the cookies- a little bit about Thanksgiving dinner.  Once we actually got ourselves moving and out the door to my Mom and Dad's we had such a nice family Thanksgiving meal. We are living proof that a vegan and a bunch of omnivores can coexist at the same table peacefully and lovingly.  With a little bit of preparation by both my Mother and myself we all had a meal fit for kings!

We started out with stuffed artichokes (my Mom made me one separately with no cheese). It was delicious! Reminds me of my childhood- I loved these growing up and I still do!  I have made them and they are good but nobody can make these as well as my Mom!

Childhood memories!

While everyone else dined on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner I had a potato stuffed lentil mushroom loaf  with gravy, green bean casserole, roasted veggies (sweet potatoes, onions, chickpeas) and cranberry sauce.

Dinner fit for a king!

And for dessert? A baked honey crisp apple. Earth Balance butter, brown sugar, raisins. Yum.

Simple yet elegant.

I am thankful beyond words for my family and their support, understanding and tolerance.  Especially these two!

The best kids ever!

Now, on to the cookies! After, all it is now the season to get baking, right?

Easy  Sugar Cookies

1 cup organic all purpose flour
1/2 cup organic, unbleached granulated sugar + 2 tbsp
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp organic ground cinnamon

In a bowl add the Earth Balance butter and the 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder together.  Add about half the dry mixture to the butter mixture and beat.  Add the rest of the flour and beat until a soft dough is formed. Note: the dough may be very crumbly so use your hands to create a dough ball.

Form the dough into a log shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

When you are ready to bake the cookies preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the rest of the sugar and the cinnamon into a small bowl.

Once dough has been refrigerated unwrap and form into small balls (a little more than a tsp worth) with your hands.  Roll in the cinnamon sugar and place well spaced on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving and Sweet Potato Turnovers

I was recently given sweet potatoes that were grown by a friend in his garden. To the best of my knowledge I have never had a freshly picked sweet potato. Even though my Father had a huge garden and sometimes grew potatoes I don't think he ever grew sweet potatoes.

I am heading to my Moms for Thanksgiving dinner today and bringing my potato stuffed lentil loaf, green bean casserole and these sweet potato turnovers. I am so blessed to have so much to be thankful for- a supportive family, a terrific husband, two beautiful kids, sweet bulldog, a loving circle of friends, a great home and, a fulfilling career.

And of course I cannot forget all of you that read this blog. I have met so many great people on this vegan journey and it brings me much happiness to share compassionate recipes with you.

Of course, lets not forget Steve who grew and gave me these sweet potatoes- the best I have ever eaten!

The recipe makes a ton. You could easily cut it by 2/3rd to create a single tray of turnovers.

Sweet Potato Turnovers

3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (I used Pepperidge Farm)
3-4 small/medium sweet potatoes, cubed and boiled until fork tender (this is an estimate, I used one HUGE sweet potato)
1 head roasted garlic
1/2 cup +2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter
3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the cooked sweet potatoes in a bowl and add the 1/2 cup non dairy milk and Earth Balance Butter.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add the roasted garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and beat to incorporate.

In a small bowl whisk together the other 2 tbsp of non dairy milk and the olive oil.  Place one sheet of puff pastry on a cutting board and cut into 9 equal size squares.  Add about a teaspoon of the potato mixture in the center of each square. Brush the perimeter of each square with the non dairy milk and olive oil mixture.   Fold the puff pastry over the mixture forming a triangle shape.  With a fork crimp the edges in order to ensure no filling escapes during baking.

Brush the tops of each of the turnovers with some more non dairy milk and olive oil mixture. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 or until golden brown.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vegetable Risotto a la Camille

Tonight my daughter asked if she could cook dinner for the family: "By herself". After some discussion she decided I could be her sous chef. We got out a cookbook and after much deliberation she chose risotto. Pretty ambitious for a nine year old but hey, who am I to discourage a budding chef?

She proceeded to alter the recipe in the cookbook: "Dad doesn't like peas or zucchini- lets leave them out. I like onions and peppers, lets add them.  I think we should use some wine as a substitute for some of the veggie stock.  I think instead of Parmesan cheese we should use nutritional yeast."  Can you say one proud (and impressed) Mama?!?

We started with me,as sous chef, finding the ingredients, getting out some cutting boards and allowing her to choose her knife: "Mom, I really like the Nakiri knife. Can I use that one?"  Of course you can! You are the chef tonight! She did all the chopping by herself!

Crushing garlic.

This is probably the best risotto I have ever had. Thanks Camille!

Vegetable Risotto a la Camille

1 1/2 cup arborio rice
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cups dry white wine
1 carrot finely chopped
1/2 red pepper finely chopped
1/2 green pepper finely chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme plus extra for garnish, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

In a large pot heat the stock over low heat until warm.  In a second large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute a few minutes until tender and translucent.  Add the red and green peppers, carrot and garlic and saute another few minutes. Add the tablespoon of thyme.

Add the rice and saute for about a minute. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Add the warm stock one ladle at time, stirring until absorbed.  To use all the stock it will take approximately 20 minutes.

Always taste as you go!

Once all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender stir in the nutritional yeast, season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh thyme.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Penne Pumpkin Alfredo

Ever have one of those totally lazy days where you literally don't make it off the couch? Sometimes that is me. But, even when I am feeling ridiculously lazy I still want to eat good food, I just don't want to expend any real energy making it.

On this particular lazy day I finally dragged myself into the kitchen to cook. I am not sure if it is seasonal, has to do with the recent Halloween or upcoming Thanksgiving holidays but I was craving pumpkin. So, my super easy pumpkin Alfredo was born. And in keeping with the lazy theme dessert was a piece of leftover coconut cake. Sometimes it pays to be lazy!

Penne Pumpkin Alfredo

1 lb penne pasta (you can use whatever shape you like), cooked according to package directions
1 can organic pumpkin puree
1 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Original)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried sage (if I had fresh I would have used it)
1 tbsp fresh thyme,chopped
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, minced for garnish

In a saute pan over medium heat add the olive oil and garlic and heat until translucent. Add the pumpkin, non dairy creamer, sage and thyme.  Whisk to combine. Continue whisking and add the vegetable stock.  Add the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Allow to cook until heated through.

Toss with pasta and garnish with the parsley.

Coconut Cake

On Saturday I decided to bake a cake. Though I am not a big fan of cake, my kids certainly are. And given my past challenges with cake baking you think I would have already given up on cake but I decided to do it.

I have had this coconut cake created by Terence of Liberal Portions on my list of things to try for some time and Saturday ended up being the day.

I did change the recipe a bit as I did not have enough whole wheat flour on hand nor am I a huge fan of whole wheat flour in baked goods. I know, I know whole wheat is so much healthier, but hey, this is cake we are talking about! After some research on the web it seemed safe enough to substitute all purpose flour so that is what I did.  I also added some coconut extract to the cake and used So Delicious Coconut Milk instead of soy milk.

My kids devoured about half the cake on Saturday and on Sunday I served it to some friends and it was met with rave reviews.

I think she likes it!

Coconut Cake

For the cake:
3/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1 cup + 6 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coconut extract

For the icing:
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp non dairy milk
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup (or more) unsweetened dried coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the cake:
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Set aside.  With a mixer beat the Earth Balance and sugar together. Add the non dairy milk, coconut extract and 1/2 of the flour mixture. Continue to beat with the mixer and then add the rest of the flour mixture.

Grease two 9x9 pans and pour 1/2 of the batter into each.  Place in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool. Remove the cakes from the pans. Ensure they are cooled completely before icing.

Ice the cake:
Beat all of the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl until very smooth.  Ice the top and sides of the first cake and add about half the coconut shreds.  Place the second cake on top and cover the entire cake with the rest of the icing and coconut shreds.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Potato Pizza

I have had the Potato Pizza from The Vegan Swedes bookmarked in the "Recipes to Try" folder on my computer for some time. Today, I finally got around to putting a check mark next to it.  This was so simple to make and incredibly flavorful. Why'd I wait so long?

To date, I have been unable made a successful pizza crust.  I have only ever tried yeast based recipes and for whatever reason they never tend to work well for me.  I always seem to have a crust, that when baked turns into some sort of tower.  Someday I will figure that out.  For now, though I am very happy with this very simple non-yeast based crust.  Flaky and delicious! Next time I may add some fresh herbs into the crust, too.

Of course, I had to make two versions of this as Mr. Meat and Potatoes does not like onions. Indeed, you could leave the onions off if you would like but I don't know why you would-- the onions really make the pizza in my opinion!
Potato Pizza

For the crust (makes two):
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1//2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)

In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until a smooth dough forms. I used my hands to do this. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to rest while you prepare the topping.

For the Topping:
6 small- medium red bliss potatoes sliced thin (I used a mandolin)
1/2 medium red onion sliced thin (I used a mandolin)
1.4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped + extra for garnish
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into two pieces.  On a lightly  floured board roll out the first piece of dough until desired thickness (mine was about 1/4 inch or so).  Place 1/2 the potato and onion mixture on the pizza.  Repeat with the second ball of dough and the rest of the potato and onion mixture.  Pour any left over olive oil/seasonings over the two pizzas.  Place dough on a pizza stone and bake at 375 for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the crust nicely browned.

Garnish with chopped thyme, slice and serve.

Mr. Meat and Potatoes no onion pizza.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving, School Projects and a Good Message

My fourth grade daughter Camille's school has a "Magic Mailbox" in the lobby. Once a month the kids have the option to participate in putting something in the mailbox based on a selected theme. This month the theme was Thanksgiving, specifically trying to save Tom Turkey.

Each month, "editors" vote on the best entry and the winning entry wins a prize .Most months she does not want to submit an entry (but but happily serves as an editor for the Magic Mailbox).

This month she came home pretty excited about submitting an entry to the Magic Mailbox.  Her submission was 100% her own doing and obviously I love it!

Win or not, I am one proud Mama!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eggless Egg Nog Beignets

I was recently contacted by the folks at So Delicious inquiring if I would like to do a guest post on their blog. Are you kidding me? Of course I would be honored to post on the blog of a company whose products I not only adore but have been life changing for me!

I am literally becoming addicted to cooking with their Seasonal Holiday Coconut Nog. It has certainly helped me to improve my not so refined baking skills!  I have made Povitica (Eastern European dessert bread), French Toast from the recipe on the side of the carton and now Beignets!


If you are interested in the recipe for the Beignets head on over to check out my guest post on the So Delicious Dairy Free blog! You will not be sorry- these were decadent and delicious!

I wonder what I shall make next with the wonderful Coconut Nog. Ideas are welcome-- I am up for any challenge!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Povitica (Eastern European Dessert Bread)

As many of you know I am a self proclaimed non- baker. I think I may be shedding the non-baker persona as I have recently successfully baked a cake and have now baked bread!

One of my Twitter friends, @Sonny_Chia recently sent a link to a blog that highlighted a recipe for Povotica. I had never heard of it but one look at this beautiful bread and I had to attempt it. I will tell you this was a lot of work. Enough work that throughout the process I kept questioning why I was attempting it! But, I will tell you, the result was so worth the work

I did alter the recipe slightly, including the use of So Delicious' Seasonal Holiday Coconut Nog, which I am pretty much addicted to cooking with at this point! I have made french toast with it, the Povotica and also beignets (stay tuned for the beignet recipe!).

It was so good that, in fact, I am going to do it all over again and bring a loaf to my Mom's for Thanksgiving this year.

I do hope you will give this a try. If you do, please let me know what you think!


Getting started (activating the yeast):
1/2 tsp unbleached sugar
1/4 tsp unbleached white flour
2 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

For the dough:
1/2 cup r non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut Nog)
3 tbsp unbleached organic sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 3 tbsp water
2 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:
1 3/4 cups ground walnuts
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Coconut Nog)
4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
1 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer whisked with 1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For rolling:
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted

To finish:
1 tbsp cold strong coffee
1 1/2 tsp unbleached sugar
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted

Activate the Yeast:
In a small bowl, add the sugar, flour and yeast. Add the warm water and cover. Allow to stand for five minutes or until bubbly.

Make the dough:
In a saucepan, heat the non dairy milk until just under boiling. Transfer to a large bowl and allow the non dairy milk to cool to 110 degrees. I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Once it reaches 110 degrees add the sugar and salt and stir. Add the whisked Ener-G egg replacer, the yeast mixture and melted Earth Balance. Stir until incorporated. Add the flour to the liquid and stir until a dough is starting to form (it will pull away from the sides of the bowl). Place the dough on a floured board and knead for about five minutes until the dough is very smooth. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let stand 90 minutes or until the dough has risen to about double in size (note: if the dough does not double in size you can tell it is sufficiently risen if when you poke a finger gently into it the dough slowly springs back to its original shape).

For the filling:
In a bowl, mix together the ground nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Heat the non dairy milk and Earth Balance until the Earth Balance is melted. Pour the liquid over the nut mixture. Add the whisked Ener-G egg replacer and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate. Set aside until ready to be spread on the dough.

Roll and assemble the dough:
Spread a clean sheet over a table or other flat work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and place the dough on the sheet. With a rolling pin, starting in the middle of the dough and working your way out roll the dough until stretched thin and uniformly to at least 12" in length and 7" or so in height. As you work pick the dough up and turn it in order to aid the stretching. Brush gently with the melted Earth Balance. Spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll the dough tightly. Once rolled place into a lightly greased loaf pan in the shape of a U with the about six inches or so hanging over the edge. Fold those ends in a crisscross over top of the U shaped dough in the pan forming an X over the top. .Cover and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To finish:
Once the rolled and crisscrossed dough has sat for 15 minutes mix the coffee, sugar and melted butter together Uncover the loaf and brush with the coffee mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and continue to bake for another 50 minutes. Check the loaf toward the end of the baking cycle to make sure the top is not becoming too brown. If it is, cover it with some aluminum foil for the balance of the baking cycle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes while still in the pan. Gently remove from the pan and allow to cool an additional 30 minutes before cutting. You may find it easier to cut using a serrated knife while the loaf is turned upside down.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mushroom Bird's Nests

I have had kataifi (shredded phyllo) in my freezer for some time now. I have aspirations of making a vegan version of kuneffe, a childhood favorite dessert, but just have not gotten to it. So I decided that instead of letting the kataifi get stale I would use it for something. But, what?

I recalled seeing an Easter recipe for nests made of kataifi filled with candy.  Why not make the nests with a savory dish? No reason not to- it is phyllo after all.

These were surprisingly simple to make and I think they are in the "wow factor" in terms of food presentation. And, mushrooms are on both my and Mr. Meat and Potatoes favorite list.  Easy enough!!

Mushroom Bird's Nests

1/2 package frozen kataifi, thawed according to package directions
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, melted
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz shitake mushrooms chopped
6 oz brown pearl mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut shredded phyllo into 1 inch sections. Place in a large mixing bowl and pull apart with your hands.  Add the melted Earth Balance and salt and pepper to taste. Press phyllo into a muffin tin being sure to cover the bottoms and sides.  Bake at 350 for  about 10 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown.  You should have enough for a bout 12 nests.  When finished remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and saute until tender.  Add the parsley and thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Add the wine and continue to cook for about two minutes. Pour the non dairy creamer in and saute briefly until mixture thickens a bit.

Remove the nests from the muffin tin and fill with the mushroom mixture.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Cauliflower Manicotti with Bechamel

I recently stumbled upon a non vegan blog called Recipe Girl.  It has some very interesting recipes including one for a pumpkin manicotti with bechamel sauce.  The recipe called for cheese (a lot), heavy cream, milk and eggs. But I loved the idea and decided to come up with a vegan version and make it my own.

Mine ended ended up quite a bit different from the inspiration recipe and it was absolutely delicious. The flavors are delicate but somewhat complex and the sage with the pumpkin is such a great combination. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will defintiely make this again. I think it would be  great for a dinner party with some Brussels sprouts or other green vegetable.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Manicotti with Bechamel Sauce

2 boxes manicotti
1 can pumpkin puree (make sure you get plain pumpkin and not spiced for pie)
1/2 cup steamed cauliflower
2 cups fresh spinach chopped
8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti brand)
1/4 cup sage, chopped plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds (I used Daiya)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon yellow miso
1 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer)
1 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
4 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente (a minute or two less than the package directions). Drain and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, steamed cauliflower, spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella shreds, 1/4 cup sage, nutritional yeast, yellow miso, salt and pepper. Mix to incorporate.  Set aside.

In a saute pan over medium low heat melt the earth balance. While the Earth Balance melts in a separate pot heat the non dairy creamer and non dairy milk in a pot until close to boiling.  Add the flour to the skillet with the melted Earth Balance and whisk until smooth.  Allow to cook, while whisking constantly until it starts to brown.  Add the non dairy milk mixture one cup at a time continuing to whisk constantly. Once sauce thickens remove from the heat..

Lightly grease a large baking dish (or tow smaller ones) and spoon some of the bechamel sauce into the bottom.   Stuff the manicotti with the pumpkin mixture using a small fork or spoon. Lay the manicotti in the baking dish side by side..  Cover with the remaining bechamel sauce.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 50 minutes.  Remove the foil for the last 7 minutes of baking.

Allow to cools slightly, garnish with remaining sage and serve.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thin Mint Andes Candies Chocolate Cake (and a Giveaway)

I cannot tell you how excited I am to write this post. Not because I have found yet another So Delicious product that I adore and not because I get to do a give away for a So Delicious product to one of you. but because I BAKED A CAKE!  A from scratch, created by me, didn't have to be thrown in the trash when finished So Delicious cake!

The flavors in the cake take me straight back to childhood memories of  Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies and those fancy Andes Candies my Mom used to keep in the house to serve when we had company.  I was conflicted about which to name the cake after- Thin mints or Andes Candies so what the heck, I will use both!

I have  previously posted about the So Delicious Seasonal Holiday beverages.  The Coconut Nog was amazing and the Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk is as well.

Photo courtesy of The Laziest Vegans in the World

Before baking the cake my son and I poured some in a glass to try it.  He took the first sip and his whole face lit up! "Wow, Mom! That takes just like a thin mint cookie! Can I have some more?" I told him yes, but not until AFTER the cake was baked, you know, "just in case". Lucky for him, the cake was fine so he can have at it with the rest of the carton!

I would love to share some of this great product with you. Just leave a comment on this post (please be sure to leave me an email address to contact you) or tweet:

@VeganVersion Please enter me to win a @So_Delicious Seasonal Holiday beverage
[UPDATE: Congratulations hlee- the random number generator selected you-you are the winner!]

One lucky entrant (limited to the US and Canada) will win a coupon for a free So Delicious item. I will draw a winner on 11/05/2011. Good luck!

Thin Mint Andes Candies Chocolate Cake

For the cake:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup So Delicious Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk
1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup melted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp peppermint extract

For the icing:
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp So Delicious original Coconut Creamer
1/2 tsp organic peppermint extract
5 drops green food coloring**

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli brand)
6 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On the stove top, over low heat. cook the Chocolate Mint milk and cocoa until the consistency of custard, whisking continually. Add the baking soda and whisk that in. Turn off the heat.  Add the sugar, melted butter, flour and peppermint extract. Stir to combine. You will end up with a VERY thick batter.  Grease a 9x9 baking dish and dust  with a thin layer of coca powder.  Spread the batter in the baking dish evenly.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

To prepare the icing mix all ingredients together in a bowl and blend using a hand mixer until very smooth.

Once the cake is cool flip the pan over and release the cake onto a cutting board, cake board or tray.  Spread the icing evenly on the cake.

Prepare the topping by melting the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler until smooth. Add the peppermint extract.  Pour melted mixture over the cake and refrigerate to set.

Note: the cake was inspired by this recipe and the icing this one.

**I used food coloring derived from plant sources. Check labels as not all food coloring is vegan.