Saturday, June 30, 2012

White Zucchini Pizza- Vegan Pizza Day 2012

Vegan Pizza Day? Who makes this stuff up anyway?  Well, whoever it was,  I am glad they did because if they hadn't I would never had made this awesome Zucchini Pizza!



After a really long week of travel in Chicago and Boston I returned home on Friday. Almost immediately upon returning home I went to check on the garden and was greeted by a beautiful zucchini. And so my idea for zucchini pizza was born.

This recipe takes a bit of time, especially if you make your own dough for the pizza (which I highly recommend- this was an amazing pizza crust).  The white sauce recipe below ( a bechamel of sorts) makes a lot- far more than is needed for the pizza so plan ahead a little- it also makes a great pasta sauce. I am going to have it in a pasta dish later this week.

I used the Galaxy Vegan Shreds with this pizza, a little to thicken the sauce and a little in the zucchini mixture. They really are quite good.

White Zucchini Pizza

1 pizza dough
1 medium large zucchini, skin on, grated
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
1 ladle white sauce
Red pepper flakes (optional)

To make the dough (makes enough for two pizza crusts):
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 package rapid rise yeast (.25 ounce)
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

To make the sauce:
1/4 cup vegan butter
1 small red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp dry white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I used So Delicious Almond Plus Original)
1//4 cup vegan mozzarella shreds
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dough by combining the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl. Allow to stand for about five minutes. The mixture will become a bit frothy, that is good.  Combining the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (if you do not have a stand mixer used a large mixing bowl)  Add the yeast mixture and blend on medium high for about five minutes.  While the dough is mixing add the olive oil.  If not using a stand mixer add all ingredients to the flour and combine with your hands.  When the dough starts to come together knead for about eight minutes.

The dough ball will be slightly oily to the touch.  Place the dough ball into a bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for one hour. The dough will approximately double in size.

While the dough rises prepare the zucchini and the sauce.

First, remove as much of the moisture as you can from the zucchini by squeezing in your hands and allowing the moisture to be extracted.  Place the zucchini shreds on a paper towel and pat dry.  Transfer to a bowl and add a quarter cup of the vegan mozzarella.  Set aside.

To prepare the sauce first measure out all of the ingredients. This will make the process much easier.  On the stove  over medium heat melt the vegan butter in a sauce pan and add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook until soft but not browned (about four minutes).  Add the flour and stir until it is absorbed by the butter.  Add the white wine, vegetable stock, almond milk and bay leaf. Stir constantly until it starts to thicken- about ten minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and add the vegan mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to stir until smooth.  Add the cornstarch/vegetable stock mixture and stir until sauce is nicely thickened. This whole process could take as long as 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Roll out the pizza dough into the shape of your choice (I decided on a rectangle as I did not have a pan to accomodate a circle). Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the dough on the sheet. Ladle on the sauce and spread evenly. Top with the zucchini/vegan cheese mixture. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.

Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake the pizza for about 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

Note: This recipe came together as a result of inspiration from this recipe and this recipe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eggplant "Lasagna"

Finally, I have made my way back into the kitchen!  Life has been really hectic with business travel lately and I have not been cooking as much as usual or as much as I would like to. Such is life.



Sunday I finally got into the kitchen to cook, where I sampled the shredded vegan mozzarella style shreds that Galaxy Nutritional Foods had sent to me to try.  You may know that I am not a big fan of commercial cheese replacements. I  do love my Baked Almond "Feta" but those you can find in the grocery store I find a little off-putting.  But, when Galaxy asked me to try their product I decided to keep an open mind and give it a try.

In terms of commercially available vegan "cheeses" I think this one may be the best tasting that I have tried. It melted well and was a nice compliment to my eggplant "lasagna".  (I use the term lasagna loosely as I did not use any pasta noodles in it; instead I used thinly sliced multi grain bread as the "noodles").  It was quite enjoyable and I froze what I had left over to use for lunches next week when I am *finally* back in the office in Philly.

What I liked about the Galaxy shreds is that they have some nutritional value, including a good amount of calcium. The ingredient list also does not contain palm oil, a controversial  ingredient due to the negatie impact it's production can have on the natural habitat of orangutans.

I will certainly use what I have left of what Galaxy graciously sent me.  And, the next time I am in the grocery store and decide to purchase a commercial vegan cheese substitute I suspect I shall reach for Galaxy.

Eggplant Lasagna

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced thin, lengthwise
~1/2 cup olive oil for frying*
1 cup marinara sauce
1 large tomato sliced thin
1/2 cup Galaxy Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds
2 tbsp + 1 tsp vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional; I used Parmela vegan parmesan)
6 thin slices whole grain bread
Salt
Basil, chopped fine, for garnish (optional)

Place sliced eggplant sprinkled liberally with salt in a colander in the sink for about f15 minutes and allow to drain. Remove from colander and pat dry using paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat put a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Once hot, add eggplant slices n a single layer and allow to fry until golden brown on both sides.  Remove and place on absorbent paper (such as a brown grocery bag) to cool and absorb excess oil.  Repeat until all slices of eggplant have been fried.  

In a 9x9 baking dish place some marinara sauce on the bottom, add a layer of eggplant, a layer of bread 1/2 the Galaxy shreds, and one tbsp vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. Cover with slices of tomato.  Add some more marinara reserving a bit for the top and repeat the process ending with a layer of tomato on top.  Cover with the remaining marinara and sprinkle with the last tsp of vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the Galaxy shreds are melted and the sauce begins to bubble.

Allow to cool for about ten minutes before cutting and serving.

Garnish with basil if desired.

*Note: eggplant will act like a sponge and soak up the oil so you will need to keep adding oil as you go. You may use as little or as much oil as you like- the half cup measure is approximate.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Piggy Palooza!

What a great weekend centered around compassion for animals. Friday night it was a big vegan dinner buffet and discussion with Harold Brown of FarmKind. Saturday afternoon was CARE Veggie Fest which also featured Harold as well as lots of vegan food and animal friendly organizations. 



Then, Saturday evening it was off to Piggy Palooza, a music festival to benefit Pig Placement Network, an organization that "works with animal shelters, humane societies and pet pig owners to rescue unwanted, abused or abandoned pet pigs and place them into new, loving homes".  The benefit was held at Ross Mill Farm, a stunning property in Rushland, PA.  When we arrived we were greeted by this lovely animal. So sweet and so friendly!  



The farm calls itself "The Home of the Pet Pig" and boy they are not kidding!! There are pigs everywhere. And, oh my they are just amazing!  I have never interacted so closely with pot bellied pigs before and I absolutely loved them! 



They clearly have personalities; some are shy, some come right up to you and nuzzle you affectionately, and some you are warned to stay away from because they bite!  We saw several mischievous pigs, too- they want to get into everything! It seems Nellie (below) was very interested in my camera!



What I saw in my short time with thee animals is that they are really smart; understanding and responding to commands much the way dogs do.  And they wag their tails just like a dog does, too! I loved seeing all those wagging tails-- they are just so cute!! So cute, in fact, that my daughter has not stopped talking about adopting one since the minute we arrived there!



Unfortunately many people adopt cute little piglets without the full knowledge of how large they get and what is involved with taking care of them.  Thank goodness for organizations like the Ross Mill Farm and Pig Placement Network, who work to care for displaced or neglected pigs while educating people on what it means to own a pet pig.



It was a great family outing- the icing on the cake? l finally got to see my friend's band Blackhand play, meet up with some dear friends and see a friend I have not seen in a really, really long time (like 25 years long!).  



I am already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Piggy Palooza and if you are in Southeastern PA you should seriously consider attending! 


In the mean time if you would like to learn more about the Pig Placement Network you may click here. To make a donation click here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Local Acitivsm: CARE Veggie Fest 2012

What a whirlwind the weekend has been!  On Friday night I had the pleasure of dinner and conversation with Harold Brown.  Yesterday, my daughter and I headed out to  Veggie Fest 2012, a fund raisng event for for CARE, an organization dedicated to promoting compassionate living through education and activism. 

We got to hang out with Harold Brown again, I met up with my dear friend Andrea and her family, and of coures we ate a ton of yummy vegan food! Burgers, kebobs, baked beans, potato salad. I had some pie and ice cream, too!



The weather was just perfect, we explored the park a bit:



We visited various organizations tables, including Friends of Animals:



I won a raffle prize!



And, I got to hang out with my new bud Lydia of From A to Vegan.



It was a great way to spend an afternoon benefitting a great organization! If you would like more information or to donate to CARE please click this link.

Stay tuned- tomorrow I will fill you in on the rest of my Saturday which was spent at the second annual Piggy Palooa, a benefit  for the Pig Placement Network

I love that there is so much opportunity for local activism, even close to my suburban abode! Both events were within an hour of my house which goes to show you really don't have to live in the big city- there are opportunities everywhere if you just look around a little!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dinner with Harold Brown of Peaceable Kingdom: A Journey Home

Last night I had the  pleasure of having dinner at SuTao Cafe in Malvern where I got to hear and meet Harold Brown, former beef farmer and subject of the upcoming documentary Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. This soon to be released documentary explores the story of several people who grew up  in a traditional farming culture that have since come to question the basic assumptions of their way of life.



What a great evening. We started out with a huge buffet dinner (all vegan!). I had my daughter with me; I opted for a lot of things I normally don't eat- sweet and sour veggie "meat balls", General Tso"s "Chicken", fried bananas, and tempura battered vegetables, among other things (yes, that is kale you see in the front!).  



My daughter opted for a healthier plate, sushi, rice and fruit. Good for her!



After dinner was a real treat as our small group ( maybe 30 or so people) got to listen to Harold Brown tell his story.  It ended up being far less a "speech" and much more of an interactive discussion.  I found in fascinating to listen to his journey. 

From cattle farming in Michigan, to working in a dairy plant to a working in a meat packing facility I found it so inspring that the thing that opened his heart was an encounter with a rescued steer at a sanctuary.  

As inspiring and uplifting his story is, equally inspring is is knowledge of the food industry, organic farming techniques, the science behind why people are unable or unwilling to give up dairy, government subsidies for farmers, etc.  I really like his brand of activism, he seems unassuming, non judgmental and genuine.

Harold made a statement last night that really resonated with me.  He said that he thought people generally understood what they thought about  farm animals but that most don't understand how they feel about them.

He went on to discuss the idea that people have a "compassion switch" that can be turned on and off. It goes on for the family dog or cat and and then goes off for the cow or sheep that is destined for slaughter. By telling themselves they don't care, people allow the switch to be turned off. 

And he said, he made a vow never to say he did not care again. I think that is a pretty good way to live and some very sage advice. 

So what do you think about the way people regard farm animals? Do you agree people can turn compassion on and off at will?

A big thanks to our hosts last evening- CARE Compassion for Animals,  Lee Hall of Vegan Means and Lydia and Mauro Grossov of From A to Vegan.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Avocado Pistachio Pesto

I have been thinking abut my avocado pesto for a while. We haven't had it recently and I really enjoy it. To me Sundays seem to beg for family pasta dinners so I figured Sunday would be the day. I had purchased some shelled pistachios at Wegman's and thought they would make a nice add to the recipe.



The only problem was we spent the morning at the pool, had a big lunch and then I spent the afternoon cleaning out my closet filling up bags and bags of stuff for good will so when dinner time rolled around I was just dead tired and not that hungry.

Somehow I mustered the energy to do it, but we didn't eat until almost 7:30 and honestly, if the kids hadn't needed dinner I probably would have bagged it all together. Thankfully, it came together easily and everyone liked it.

Avocado Pistachio Pesto

1 lb pasta (any kind will do- I used capellini)
2 ripe avocados, seeded and flesh removed
1 cup roasted salted, shelled pistachio nuts
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Chopped sun dried tomatoes for garnish (optional)

Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

As pasta is cooking add the rest of the ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth. Add 1//4 to 1/2 cup of the water the pasta was boiled in in order to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.


Toss the pasta and sauce together and serve with chopped sun dried tomatoes (if desired).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Veggie Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms

I just love it when you find a new product that knocks your socks off!  My hat's off to Helen of Helen's Kitchen. Her Veggie Chorizo is stellar! I cannot wait to find many more uses for it.



I am not normally a big fan of "fake"meats but this is really something special. It is nicely spiced and extremely flavorful. Having never had "real" Chorizo I cannot tell you how it compares to that but honestly, who cares? This stuff is great!



Veggie Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms

~24 large button mushrooms, stems removed
1 package Veggie Chorizo
1 small red onion, chopped fine
1/4 green pepper, chopped fine
1/4 red pepper, chopped fine
4 oz vegan cream cheese
2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
t tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking oli spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Over medium heat add olive oil to a skillet.  Add the onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper and sweat until the onions start to soften and turn translucent.  Add the veggie chorizo (make sure you take it out of the casing first).  Heat, stirring occasionally for about six or seven minutes.

Put veggie chorizo mixture into a bowl and add the vegan cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese is very well incorporated.

On a baking sheet place the mushroom caps face up and fill each with some of the veggie chorizo mixture.  Sprinkle the panko on top and lightly mist with cooking oil spray.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

S'mores

Some things make you feel like a kid again. I used to love roasting marshmallows on an open fire and making s'mores when I was a kid and my kids love to do them as well. I have not had one in a very long time. But, while in Wegman's I spied some Dandies vegan marshmallows so I bought them along with some vegan dark choclate and graham crackers.



We have a small fire pit in the backyard so we rounded up the kids, lit a fire and made s'mores. One biteand I was litereally taken back to about age ten sitting in a neighbors backyard eating s'mores with the neighborhood kids. I love the taste of nostalgia.

I wont to tell you how to make s'mores. I am quite sure you know how to do that.  I will tell you that the difference between real marshmallows and the Dandies was imperceptable to me. And I will tell you that the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate I used is some of the best I have ever had.

So what are you waiting for? Build a fire and make some s'mores!  If you can't build a fire I happen to know that a microwave works too!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Burger (or Something LIke That)

I probably have no business calling this mushroom sandwich a burger. But it is round, its meaty, it is served on a but and so I am going with it.



I purchased two enormous portabella mushrooms at Wegman's the other day. It was time to use 'em or lose 'em so I opted for this simple mushroom "burger" which  both Mr. Meat and Potatoes and I enjoyed. I used up some other produce in the fridge for toppings and it worked well.

As for a recipe, the quantities below are sort of loose- I did not keep great track of exactly what I did while making these but this should be close.  

Also, the perfect round burger you see in the picture is the result of me having far too many kitchen gadgets- I used a pastry ring to cut them after marinating. You don't need to do that, but if you have them go for it.  The edges I cut off were sauteed and served on the side for Mr. Meat and Potatoes. I opted for my leftover Panko Crusted Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts from the other night along with a pickled carrot salad.

Portabella Mushroom Burgers

2 portabella mushrooms gills removed
Balsamic Vinaigrette (about a 1/4 cup per mushroom)
2 peeled smashed garlic cloves (do not chop or mince)
1 roasted green pepper
1 shaved Brussels Sprout
2 green onions cut thin on the bias
1 garlic clove minced
2 tsp olive oil
2 hamburger buns of your choosing
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the mushrooms in the refrigerator in the balsamic vinaigrette and smashed garlic cloves. I did this in a zip top bag for about 4 hours.

In a small skillet over medium heat one tsp of olive oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, minced garlic and green onions.  Season with salt and pepper. Saute for about five minutes.  

As the Brussels sprouts are cooking in a second skillet heat another tsp of olive oil and add the mushroom caps.  Heat over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes per side. Take care not to burn them. They should be browned a bit on the outside and warmed through.

Remove the mushrooms from the pan, add the buns, face down down to the skillet and briefly toast.

Remove the buns, add the burger, half a roasated green pepper and the Brussels sprout mixture to top.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Panko Crusted Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts

A friend recently told me she made panko crusted asparagus spears.  What a great idea!  I went out and bought some asparagus so I could try my hand at creating something similar. A quick search on the Internet and I found this recipe.  I  altered it in order to make it vegan and to accomodate what I had on hand.



As it turns out I also had a ton of Brussels Sprouts in the fridge so I decided to try preparing them the same way as the asparagus.  They were very good but I did like the asparagus better.  Either way, I have some of both leftover so I know what I am going to reheat and have with dinner tonight!

Panko Crusted Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
10 Brussels sprouts, halved
1/3 cup vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise)
3 scallions, chopped fine
2 tbsp white miso
1 tsp garlic chili sauce
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Cooking oil spray
2 wooden skewers soaked in water for 20 minutes (optional).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil.

In a bowl mix the vegan mayo, scallions, miso, garlic chili sauce and olive oil.  Whisk until all ingredients are well incorporated. Transfer into a shallow dish.

In a second shallow dish toss the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds.

If you are using skewers for the Brussels sprouts skewer them about five (ten halves) per skewer. Coat the sprouts with the mayo mixture by either rolling them in it or brushing it on. Transfer to the panko mixture and coat well.  Place on the baking sheet. If not using skewers just roll the halves int the mayo mixture and then the panko and place them on the sheet.  Repeat with the asparagus spears rolling them in the mayo mixture then panko and placing them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until they turn golden brown.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars

I recently ran across a recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars on Hannah Kaminsky's Blog Bitter Sweet.  I knew these were for me. I love chocolate and peanut butter together. And I also love peanut butter filled pretzels (so much so I can't really keep them in the house!



I changed the recipe slightly with the addition of coconut to the bottom crust and the topping. I also used So Delicious Almond Plus non dairy milk in the batter for the crust instead of water.  They came out great.

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars

For the crust:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup rough chopped pretzels
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup sweetened dried coconut
3 tbsp non dairy milk

For the topping:
12 oz semi sweet vegan chocolate chips 
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweetened dried coconut
1 cup rough chopped pretzels

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust:
In a bowl combine the flour, pretzels, brown sugar and coconut. Using a pastry cutter or a fork cut in the butter and work until a crumbly mixture is formed.  Add the non dairy milk and work with your hands to form a dough.  In a lightly greased 8x8 pan press the dough evenly on the bottom.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Set aside to cool for at least ten minutes before preparing the topping.

Make the topping:
Put the chocolate chips and agave nectar into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute.  Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth.  Add the peanut butter and stir well.  Place back in the microwave for another minute and stir.  The mixture should be very smooth. If it is not, place back in the microwave and heat at 30 second intervals until very smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and stir.  

Spread the mixture evenly over the crust.  Top with the chopped pretzels and coconut pressing them down so that they adhere to the chocolate peanut butter layer.  Place in the refrigerator for an hour until firmly set.  Cut into bars or squares and allow to come back to room temperature before serving.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crispy Eggplant

If you have read my last couple of posts you know that I have been on a bit of a mission to use up the food in the fridge.  Last weekend my sister and her boys came to visit. We cooked a lot and ate a lot and I had a lot of "stuff" left in the fridge- you know the odds and ends left over from cooking all weekend.



I had half an eggplant that I had cut up with intention to use with the Butternut, Beans and Kale I made the other night.  I forgot to use it and so I still had it in my fridge when I got home from work on Wednesday.  My daughter and husband were out when I got home, my son had already eaten and so I was cooking just for me.

I had some leftover cooked angel hair pasta and marinara sauce and decided I would eat that and somehow incorporate the eggplant.

On a side note, can I tell you that we went through four POUNDS of pasta last weekend?  Both my kids and my sisters kids love pasta. I swear they could eat for every meal.  And, they almost did all weekend!

Can I also tell you that on Monday night we had the angel hair pasta and sauce you see above and my Mother told me it was the best sauce she had had in years? My Mother! Italian cook extraordinaire! I would share the recipe but honestly, I just sort of threw it together so I have no real idea of quantities, etc. I think the key is to use San Marzano tomatoes.

Anyway, the eggplant was such a great addition to the pasta. It was really easy to prepare and I am sure there are a million other dishes you could use the eggplant in. I think it would be quite nice served as an h'ors d'oeuvre with a dipping sauce.

Crispy Eggplant.

1/2 Eggplant, peeled and cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
Parsley
Oregano
Salt and Pepper

Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes until it releases some of its water.  Pat dry.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil and the eggplant cubes in a zip top bag.  Shake to coat. Add the breadcrumb, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Close the bag and shake to evenly coat the eggplant.

In a saute pan over medium heat add the rest of the olive oil.  Add the breaded eggplant and cook until the breadcrumbs become brown and crispy and the eggplant is heated through.

Serve.