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.