Friday, December 27, 2013

Baked Almond Feta Spanakopita

Before my vegan days I loved feta and ate it often.  Eventually, I figured out how to make a vegan Baked Almond Feta, and it is delicious. I also love phyllo dough and spinach and used to really enjoy Spanakopita.  Growing up around lots of authentic Middle Eastern food I am no stranger to foods made with phyllo and feta and enjoyed my fair share of Spanakopita over the years.



I have tried to make vegan Spanikopita using tofu as a cheese substitute. I don't know what it is, but I just cannot get into tofu posing as cheese.  I have also tried Spanakopita with a spinach filling without any sort of cheese substitute, and it just feels like it is missing something.

I don't know why it took me so long to connect the dots. Baked almond feta, the absolute closest thing to real feta and something that does not even feel like a substitute is a no brainer to use in Spanakopita!  My only regret with this dish is it took me this long to make it.



I served this as an appetizer at Christmas, and it was extremely well received by some pretty tough critics-my extended omnivore family. I enjoyed the dish immensely, and I enjoyed all the rave reviews just as much!

This dish is pretty easy to pul together though it does take some planning as the feta is a multi-day process.  And, if you have not worked with phyllo before do not be intimidated! Though delicate it is extremely forgiving and always almost looks beautiful when cooked.

If you try this I would love to know your reaction. I cannot imagine you will not love it!

Baked Almond Feta Spanakopita

1 wheel Baked Almond Feta
2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
2 small onions, chopped fine
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine
1 package phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
Pepper to taste
1/2 stick vegan butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet over medium heat add the oil. When heated add the onion and season with pepper. Cook until the onions begin to turn translucent and then add the spinach and dill.  Continue to cook over medium heat until heated through.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a bowl and crumble the wheel of almond feta into the mixture. Stir to incorporate and set aside.

Unroll the phyllo onto a work surface (be sure to cover the phyllo with a damp towel during the process as to ensure it does not dry out).

Brush the bottom of a baking dish (I used an 8x8) with the melted butter.  Place a sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the dish so that the ends hang over the side (note: depending on the size of your dough you may need to overlap sheets. Keep in mind you will be folding the extra over the top and it will need to be covered).   Brush the phyllo with melted butter. Repeat the process in the other direction so that you have extra hanging over all sides.  Continue to layer the phyllo and melted butter until you have about six layers in total (note: you can do more or less to taste).  Be sure to cover the phyllo with the damp towel each time you remove a sheet in order to keep it moist.

Add the spinach mixture into the dish and then fold the ends up over the top of the spinach mixture. If your ends do not overlap enough to cover the top entirely you can top with a few extra sheets of phyllo and brush it with more melted butter.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

If not serving immediately this can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Just reheat to serve.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Clementine Curd Filled Cupcakes and a Giveaway

The folks at Cuties were kind enough to send me five pounds of Cuties Clementines. They were also kind enough to send me a couple of coupons to be redeemed for five pounds of clementines which I would like to share with you!  Before we get to that though, let me tell you about these cupcakes.



Instead of just peeling and eating the Cuties (which are delicious) I thought I would try to use them in a more creative way.  The result was these cupcakes.  They are not the prettiest thing I have ever made, but by the time it came to icing and decorating them I was thoroughly exhausted.

I had to do the batter three times before getting it right (it was a snow day, and there was a steady stream of kids in and out of the house all day which kept distracting me).  The result was worth it though. The cupcakes were good. I don't always taste the stuff I bake as I really don't have much of a sweet tooth, but given the length of time it took to make them I made myself have one.  I know, I know, the hardship!



Now, on to the giveaway. Simply leave me a comment letting me know that you would like five pounds of Cuties. Please provide an email address so I can reach you if you win. I will randomly pick two winners on January 5th. Good luck!

Clementine Curd Filled Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 batch of this cupcake recipe (do not make the frosting)

For the Clementine Curd:
1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/4 cup + 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
4 tbsp corn starch
Zest of four clementines, divided
2 tbsp vegan butter
6 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the glaze:
2 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp freshly squeezed clementine juice

Combine the clementine juice, water, sugar corn starch and 1 tbsp of the clementine zest in a blender.  Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan and heat over medium until boiling. Allow to boil for one minute. Add the non dairy milk, vegan butter and the rest of the zest and stir well.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to a jar and put in the refrigerator until completely cooled.  Note: this will make more curd than needed for the cupcakes.

To make the glaze place the confectioners sugar, salt and freshly squeezed clementine juice into a bowl and whisk until well incorporated.

Once the cupcakes and curd have cooled fully put some of the curd into a piping bag with a tip with a medium size opening.  Press the tip into the cupcake and squeeze some of the curd inside. Be careful not to put too much curd or your cupcake will become too wet.

Top each cupcake with the glaze and garnish with a clementine slice if desired.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Two Ingredient Mini Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I may be the last person to find out that you can use a boxed cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree to make absolutely delicious muffins, but just in case you had not heard it yet you really can!



I saw something posted on Pinterest about this, Googled it and found lots of positive commentaries on this technique for making muffins and figured what the heck, I will give it a try.

While this certainly does not constitute baking it sure does produce a moist, tender flavorful muffin.  And, yes, the Duncan Hines Super Moist Spice Cake Mix is vegan out of the box!

Mini Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 box Duncan Hines Super Moist Spice Cake Mix
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Do not follow the spice cake mix directions. Instead put the mix and the pumpkin puree into a bowl and stir until smooth.

Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake liners and place a scoop of batter in each (I find a medium size cookie scoop is the perfect amount of batter).

Bake for about fifteen minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Note: this recipe yielded 46 mini muffins.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Black Bean, Mushroom and Arugula Soup

Sometimes you just want soup. And sometimes you really need it!  The weather has been very cold, we had the first snowfall of the season, and this really lends itself to needing soup. Since it was snowing like crazy, and I really did not have much of an appetite to drive in the snow I had to make do with what was already in the house.



This soup is quite a hodgepodge of ingredients, but it worked.  Not only did it taste good it warmed me up, too!

Black Bean, Mushroom and Arugula Soup

2 cups black beans, soaked overnight (or you can use the quick soak method)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
10 shitake mushroom caps, sliced or rough chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
3 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme. chopped
3 or 4 large handfuls of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
Crackers (optional)

Place the soaked beans in a stock pot and add the vegetable stock and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat an then turn the heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for two hours.

Once beans are cooked add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat.  Add the carrot and celery and allow to cook until starting to soften.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the onion, cook for another few minutes and then add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Allow to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and become tender. Add to the stock pot.

Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for at least an hour.  In the last fifteen minutes or so add the arugula and allow to wilt. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve warm with crackers crumbled over the top (if desired).

Note: remove the bay leaves before serving.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chick'n Croquettes

Its funny how diversity in background becomes pronounced through little things you would not think of.  Like things that were staples at your dinner table as a kid.  For me, it was Middle Eastern- hummus and falafels or Italian- pastas with a variety of sauces. We rarely got "treated" to frozen dinners.  When we did it was always exciting and usually because my Mom and Dad were going out for an evening and my Mom needed something quick and easy. We loved it!



Recently my husband mentioned he was going to buy some frozen Weaver Chicken Croquettes as he was craving them.  In the eighteen years we have been married we have never had croquettes for dinner.  As it turns out, they were a staple on his childhood dinner table. Instead of buying the frozen ones, I offered to make them for him.

I love finding out things like this about him- the fact that croquettes are a comfort food for him is a nice piece of information to have! I also treasure the differences and experiences that make each of us who we are as it allows us to keep learning from one another. I think that is one of the coolest parts of marriage.

Anyway, completely ignorant of what comprises a chicken croquette I took to the Internet and clicked on the first recipe that popped up on Google and went with that. The process to make them was pretty simple, they looked great when I was finished, and he enjoyed them quite a bit.  I have to say that I thought they looked pretty darn good, too. Good enough to veganize.



So, with a few tweaks to the recipe I used I now have a vegan croquette recipe to add to my collection!

If you try these I would love to know what you think about them. I would also love to know what the staples were on your childhood dinner table!

Chick'n Croquettes

For the croquette:
5 gardein Chick'n Scallopini thawed and ground in a food processor
1 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp minced parsley leaves
Salt to taste
1 stick vegan butter
1 stalk celery, minced
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 celery stalk, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
Vegetable oil for frying

For the breading:
2 cups breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1 cup non dairy  milk
4 tsp The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk*
1 cup water*
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour

For the gravy:
3 tbsp vegan butter
3 tbsp all purpose unbleached flour
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp minced parsley
Pinch white pepper
Salt, to taste

To make the croquette filling place the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground gardein scallopini and cook, while continually breaking up the mixture in the pan, for about seven minutes or until heated through.  When finished it should resemble cooked ground chicken. Set aside.

 In a saucepan heat the non dairy milk and vegetable stock over medium heat. Add the white pepper, salt and parsley. In a separate sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and add the flour. Stir with a whisk and allow to cook for three minutes.  Add the hot milk and stock mixture and whisk until thickened and smooth.  Remove from the heat, add the cooked gardein mixture to it, stir and set aside to cool.

To bread the croquettes mix The Vegg and water in a blender until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and whisk in the water.  Place the flour in another bowl and in a third bowl the breadcrumbs. Once the croquette mixture is cooled take the croquette mixture and form meatball size rounds. Dip into the "egg wash" and then the flour and place on wax paper lined baking sheet to set.  When the mixture is gone take each of the egg washed/floured balls and dip into the egg wash again and then into the breadcrumb.

For the gravy place the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat to melt.  Add the flour and whisk.  Pour in the stock and continue to whisk until the mixture boils.  Turn the heat down to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes until gravy thickens.  Add the parsley, pepper and salt.

To fry the croquettes place a few inches of vegetable oil (enough to submerge the croquettes) into a pot and heat to 350 degrees.  When the oil reaches temperature drop a few croquettes at a time in allowing them to become golden brown on all sides.  Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Serve croquettes with gravy.

*Note: If you do not have The Vegg a mixture of non dairy milk and any vegetable oil can be substituted as an "egg" wash.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes

You may recall a few posts back a recipe for doughnut holes.  I have made them many times since then, mostly at the request of one of my daughter's friends. She just loves them, and really, who can blame her?  Spices reminiscent of pumpkin pie but wrapped into a little dough ball?  What is not to like?



When I made them the first time I sort of kicked myself for not using the seasonal So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk. Yesterday I was commissioned by my daughter to make four dozen of these for an impromptu surprise party for the friend that always requests these doughnut holes.

I was up ridiculously early so I decided to give it a try with the Pumpkin Spice milk. That way if it did not work well I would have the time to redo them.

Well, I am happy to report that it worked great. Hard to believe, but these are even better than the originals. If you have not gotten the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk yet, hurry! It is limited seasonal/holiday item so it won't be around for too much longer!

Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted vegan butter
1/2 cup So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted vegan butter
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the granulated sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 cup of the melted vegan butter. Stir in the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until just combined.

Using a greased mini muffin pan, fill each muffin cup halfway full. I found using a medium cookie scoop worked perfectly to make 24 doughnut holes.

Bake 15-20 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown.

Once cooled, remove from the muffin tin and dip each in the rest of the melted vegan butter and then roll in cinnamon sugar.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lentil "Meat" Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze

This time of the year and comfort food go hand in hand.  I have been craving comfort foods for the last couple of weeks. Hearty, fill your belly, home cooked meals seem to be just what is needed as the colder weather sets in and winter approaches, not to mention the holidays.



This year I am not cooking for Thanksgiving. I am going to my Mom's and opted to purchase on of those store bought vegan roasts that we could pop into her the oven in order to make it easier on her.  Given that, I decided to make something I would have made if I were cooking for Thanksgiving and this is the result. I may just leave that store bought thing at home to use at  another time and bring a couple of slices of this instead.

I have made many vegan meatloaves in the past.  It has been a bit of a trial and error process. Getting the right texture so that it holds together but is not tough or gummy while ensuring good flavor can be tricky.  I think this one stands up well to the vegan meatloaf test. Flavorful, tender and moist without being sticky.  The smoked paprika glaze adds a really nice touch, too. I think this is my best vegan meatloaf yet.

If you are cooking for Thanksgiving and don't yet have your menu fully figured out this could be a good one for you.

Lentil "Meat" Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze

For the loaf:
2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup shredded potato (about 1 medium potato)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 small finely chopped onion
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup parsley
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the glaze:
2 tbsp ketchup
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix the flaxseed meal in the warm water and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat and add the onion and celery Season with salt and pepper. Cook until starting to get very soft.  Add the garlic and cook a minute or two longer. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl combine all of the loaf ingredients including the flaxseed meal and water mixture into a large bowl. Reseason with salt and pepper.  Stir until well mixed.

Turn the meatloaf mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan.

In a small bowl mix the ketchup with the smoked paprika and brush the top of the loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes to cool before removing from the pan.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Orange Cauliflower

Many years ago, when I worked at the Concord Mall I would often frequent the Chinese restaurant and order their Orange Chicken.  I am not sure what it was about their particular preparation that made it so good, but it was the perfect orange sauce, not too sweet, not too gloppy and seasoned just right.



I ran across a recipe for Orange Chicken  not too long ago, and it made me think about the Orange Chicken from the restaurant in the mall so I decided to give it a try at home, vegan of course. 

You may remember the Buffalo Cauliflower I made a while back.  If cauliflower worked for that it was bound to work here as well.  Really, just fried little balls of cauliflower with sauce on them. If you think about it the two dishes are not terribly dissimilar. I did a quick Internet search found this recipethis recipe for orange cauliflower, and I used the basic methodology with a few changes.



It worked out great.  Even the cauliflower hating, meat and potatoes husband tasted it and liked it. The words "pretty good" and "the best way I have ever tasted cauliflower" came out of his mouth. Wow! Totally unexpected and a really nice compliment!

I am chalking this experiment up to a win. And as I sit here writing and thinking back to that Chinese restaurant in the Concord Mall I recall they also had a pretty mean Sesame Chicken. I think that will be the next thing I tackle.

Orange Cauliflower

1 small head cauliflower cut into bite size chunks
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

For the batter:
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vegetable oil

For orange sauce:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Juice and zest of one large orange
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Pinch of salt (to taste)

To finish
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp brown sugar

To serve:
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 green onion sliced thin (for garnish)

To make the batter place the flaxseed meal in the water and set aside to thicken.  Add the rest of the batter ingredients to a bowl. When the flaxseed meal has become gooey add it and stir.  The batter will be about the consistency of pancake or waffle batter.  Put the cauliflower chunks in the batter and toss them to ensure they are evenly coated.

While you are preparing the batter heat the 1/2 cup oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot drop the coated cauliflower in and allow them to fry until golden brown on each side.  Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.  (Note: as I did this I transferred the drained cauliflower to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and kept them warm in a 225 degree oven so that they did not get soggy as I prepared the rest of the dish).

Once the frying is finished heat a new skillet over medium heat and add the tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and green onion and heat for a minute or so. Add the orange juice, orange zest, tamari and rice wine vinegar and salt and bring to a boil.  Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.  Place on top of rice.

To finish whisk the 1 tsp cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of orange juice and add to the same heated skillet.  Add the brown sugar and whisk until it boils (about a minute).  Pour over the cauliflower and garnish with green onions.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doughnut Holes

Can you say devoured?  My daughter had two friends over on Sunday so I decided to make a snack for them. I had seen this recipe on Pinterest, and they looked quick and easy and easy enough to make vegan. And no doubt they were delicious because three young girls ate almost the entire batch in no time flat.



Next time I make them I am going to use the So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk. I would have done that this time but just as I poured the Unsweetened Coconut Beverage in the bowl I thought about the Pumpkin Spice Milk.  Too late!  Oh well,  I doubt it will be very long before the next time as they were really good and really easy.

Doughnut Holes

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted vegan butter
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted vegan butter
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the granulated sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 cup of the melted vegan butter.  Stir in the non dairy milk.  Add the flour and baking soda and stir until just combined.

Using a greased mini muffin pan, fill each muffin cup halfway full.  I found using a medium cookie scoop  worked perfectly to make 24 doughnut holes.

Bake 15-20 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown.

Once cooled, remove from the muffin tin and dip each in the rest of the melted vegan butter and then roll in cinnamon sugar.

Serve immediately.

Dani's Almond Currant Chickpea Salad

Another chickpea salad recipe? I know, I know....I have posted several different chickpea salad recipes in the past.  But it is just so good; truly my go-to sandwich.



So, at the risk of being redundant I thought this was worth publishing as it was awesomely delicious and a bit different from most of the chickpea salad recipes I have seen out there.

I call this Dani's Chickpea salad because she recently posted about having made an awesome version using walnuts and cranberries. I never thought about nuts and fruit in my chickpea concoctions before but wow, that sounded good!



I set out to make it and lo and behold I had no cranberries and no walnuts.  Hmm... currants and almonds? Had those.  I figured it would work just fine and so I set out to make and eat this awesome sandwich.

Though mine ended up a bit different than Dani's; aside from the obvious lack of cranberries and walnuts I used some other veggies in there as well.  Her's served as my inspiration and so I think it only fair to attach her name to the recipe.

Thanks Dani, awesome stuff!

Dani's Chickpea Salad

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (if using canned drain and rinse)
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, rough chopped
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp vegan mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas using a potato masher or fork (I find waffle head potato masher works best). Add the onion, celery, carrot, almonds, currants, parsley, salt, pepper and mayo.  Stir to incorporate.

Serve on your favorite bread or over a bed of greens.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Almond Prune Danish

I probably should not write about this because you can't really call this cooking, it is totally cheating- this danish takes literally about three or four  minutes to prepare. That's it!  But it is just too good that I am going to go ahead and share it anyway.



Though this technically is a prune danish I tried to call it a plum danish with the husband figuring if I said plum he might try it. No such luck. Apparently he has an aversion to plums. Too bad, because I am quite sure he would like it.



Maybe with tomorrow morning's coffee he can be convinced to try one. If not, oh well... more for me!

Almond Prune Danish

8 oz prune pastry filling (I used Solo Prune Plum Filling)
1 16 oz can Pillsbury Crescent Roll Seamless Dough Sheets
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll the crescent dough and spread a thick layer of the prune pastry on the dough.  Layer the almond slivers evenly over the top.  Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar.

Roll the dough into a log shape. Trim the ends and then slice into 6 equal rounds and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown until 375 degrees.

Allow to cool slightly before serving or serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cinnamon Cherry Crisp

I have made a few fruit crisps in the past.  I did a Mixed Berry Crisp that I loved.  I also did a Cherry Crisp not too long ago. It was well received;  we all ate it and liked it, but I thought it could be better.



In that one I used almond extract and almond slivers.  I really liked the crunch of the almonds, but the almond extract in the filling was not totally in line with what I wanted for the crisp. Not that there was anything wrong with it; I guess almond extract is just not my favorite.

I had a couple of bags of frozen cherries in the freezer so I figured I would try again and change it up a bit to see if I could make it even better.  Instead of almond extract I used vanilla this time. I omitted the almonds and used oats instead.



I did like this one better.  I am still not convinced its perfect, but it is certainly tasty and worth a post. I am going to keep working on this, though. I am quite sure my family will not mind taste testing.

Cinnamon Cherry Crisp

18 oz  frozen cherries, thawed
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp organic unbleached white flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp vegan butter, softened
3 tbsp light brown sugar
3/4 cup unbleached organic cane sugar
2 tsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl  mix four, rolled oats, baking powder, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of the can sugar. Using your hands mix the butter and flour together to form a crumbly mixture. Set aside.

In a second bowl add the brown sugar and softened vegan butter in a bowl. Using a hand mixer on medium speed cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Stir the flour and oats mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Work with your hands until a crumbly mixture forms.  Set aside.

In another bowl mix the cherries, the rest of the sugar, tapioca starch, vanilla, nutmeg, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Mix gently as to allow the cherries to keep their shape.

Place the cherry mixture into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle on the topping and bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Note: I drew from this recipe for inspiration.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Meatball" Sandwich Casserole

I have a love/hate relationship with vegan cheese.  It is certainly a weird substance to say the least.  I keep swearing off the stuff (at least the store bought stuff, my own vegan Baked Almond Feta rocks), but I keep going back for more.



The truth is, if used well it can be good.  Tonights dinner, a Meatball Sandwich Casserole, was pretty darn good, vegan cheese and all.

I had recently seen a recipe online for a non vegan version of this and knew I had to make it as it is right up the omnivores that live in the houses alley.  But for us vegetarians/vegans, what to do? Turns out it was really easy to veganize and even better yet really easy to make.



You can dress the bread slices up however you would like or just leave them plain. I used an Italian seasoning infused olive oil and sprinkled them with some dried oregano. You can make a garlic bread or use any other spices that compliment an Italian themed dish (basil, etc.)

I used homemade marinara I made this summer when tomatoes were in season that I had in the freezer, but you could certainly use a jarred commercial pasta sauce.

This was a very enjoyable and quick dinner.

Meatball Sandwich Casserole

1 bag frozen vegan meatballs (I used Nate's Zesty Italian)
23 oz marinara sauce
4 slices provolone style vegan cheese (I used Daiya)
1/2 cup mozzarella style vegan shreds (I used Daiya)
2 tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (I used Parmela)
6 slices crusty Italian bread, halved
Olive oil for drizzling
Dried Oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a sauce pan put the marinara or pasta sauce and the frozen meatballs.  Heat over medium until just warmed through.

While meatballs are heating brush each bread slice with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano.

When meatballs are heated through put them, with the sauce, in a baking dish (I used one about 8x8).  Put the halved bread slices around the perimeter of the dish pushing the meatballs into the middle of the dish.  Cover with the slices of vegan provolone, shredded vegan mozzarella and vegan parmesan.

Put in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until lightly browned on the top and bubbly.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Red Lobster Style Vegan Cheddar Biscuits

Did you ever have the biscuits at Red Lobster?  I have, and while they were pretty much the only redeeming thing about Red Lobster they always made an otherwise disappointing dinner out worth the trip.



I have to say that I think they do a pretty good job at marketing. They make you believe that if you go there you will not only have a great meal but also get the deal of the century.  Biscuits aside, neither of those things ever worked out.  They're "all you can eat" $9.99 deal or otherwise "cheap" advertised specials seemed never to yield a great meal at the advertised price; instead of a great meal for two at around $20 you got stuck with a sub par dinner for two at around 60 bucks. It never seemed to fail.

I have not set foot in a Red Lobster in years and will probably never go in one again, but those biscuits were the one memorable part of a meal there.

This is my attempt to make a vegan version of those biscuits.  While not particularly good for you these were tasty and reminiscent of how I remember their biscuits.  They are quite dense and very filling. I ate just one for lunch, and that was all I needed.

One thing to note. I had intended to use one cup of vegan shredded cheddar, but it turns out I only had half a cups worth in the refrigerator so I used a second half cup of vegan shredded mozzarella.  If you really want that cheddar flavor I would suggest going with the full cup of cheddar style shreds.

Red Lobster Style Vegan  Cheddar Biscuits

For the biscuit:
2 1/2 cups Bisquick
4 tbsp cold vegan butter
1/2 cup vegan cheddar style shreds
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella style shreds (note: you can omit the mozzarella and sub a whole cup of cheddar)
3/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/4 tsp garlic powder

For brushing on the top:
2 tbsp melted vegan butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a pastry cutter or fork mix the flour and cold butter.  Do not overmix, it should be quite crumbly.  Add the non dairy milk, cheddar and mozzarella (or just one cup of cheddar) shreds and use your hands to form a dough (do not overmix, it will still be quite crumbly.

Place nine equal portions on a lightly greased baking sheet.  You may need to roll the dough a bit to form a ball.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown.

Remove from the oven and melt the butter, garlic powder and parsley.  Brush over the top of the biscuits before serving.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Coconut Sweet Potato Gratin

I recently got a package of goodies from the awesome people at So Delicious.  In this package of goodies was something called  Culinary Coconut Milk.  It turns out you can use this stuff just like you would coconut milk out of a can.  It is shelf stable so it does not need to be refrigerated. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.



I had one of those rare Saturdays where I had the house to myself for a couple of hours. I also had some sliced sweet potatoes in the fridge that I have thinking about what to do with all week. So, in the spirit of adventure I decided to see what I could come up with using sweet potatoes and the culinary coconut milk together.

Thr result was this Coconut Sweet Potato Gratin and it is delicious!  So much better than the traditional sweet potato casseroles that usually show up around the holidays- you know, the ones with maple syrup, butter and marshmallow.  I never did like sweet potatoes that way. I think that this year these may make an appearance on the Thanksgiving table.

This dish is definitely more on the savory than sweet side, the only sweet being the potato itself and a hint of sweetness from the coconut milk.  I added a fair amount of cayenne pepper to this so it has a bit of a kick to it.  If you are not a fan of spicy you could simply omit the cayenne pepper.



If you are a fan of canned coconut milk I would suggest giving the So Delcious Culinary Coconut Milk a try. I really enjoyed it!  

Coconut Sweet Potato Gratin

1 lb peeled, 1/4" thick sweet potato slices
2 11 oz containers So Delicious Culinary Cocont Milk
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese shreds
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place a single layer of sweet potato slices (slightly overlapping) on the bottom of the dish.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour enough coconut milk to completely cover the potato layer. Sprinkle with with about 1/3 cup of the vegan mozzarella. Continue to layer potatoes, seasoning, coconut milk and cheese until all of the ingredients are used.  You should  finish with a layer of milk and cheese on the top.

Place in the oven, uncovered and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spicy Black Bean and Baby Kale Soup

For whatever reason it was freezing cold in my office building today. By the time I left all I could think about was warm soup.  I had a few things on hand that seemed as if they would come together for a quick soup.



For as thrown together as this was it sure did come out great. The recipe makes quite a bit so there are leftovers for lunches this week and probably some to go in the freezer as well.

With the weather getting colder putting some soup in the freezer sounds like a great idea to me, plus it was a good way to use up the baby kale I had in the fridge. I don't know about your supermarket, but mine sells baby kale in absolutely huge containers! Not that I am complaining, mind you.



This came out on the spicy side, so if you are not a big fan of spice you can cut back on (or omit) the red pepper flake.  After being cold all day today I think the extra spiciness was a nice touch.

Spicy Black Bean and Baby Kale Soup

1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into coins
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
4 large handfuls baby kale
1 tsp red pepper flake
7 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil. Once hot add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until vegetables start to soften.

Add the vegetable stock and allow to heat through.  Add the Italian seasoning, black beans and red pepper flake.  Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and re cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Serve hot.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin French Toast

Ah, fall. The crisp air, the changing colors, kids making piles of fallen leaves to jump in, and of course the pumpkins! Yes, there is pumpkin carving, but also the wealth of dishes you can make with a simple pumpkin that become so popular this time of year.



I was lucky enough recently to receive some samples from the So Delicious company. Included in my box of goodies was the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage (oh, how blogging does have its perks!).  One of the very few milk-like products I can actually drink straight from the glass, it is also a wonderful add to any chef or "wanna-be" chef's kitchen.

In the mood for French Toast, something that does not happen too often, I decided to kick up otherwise ordinary French Toast with some pumpkin spice.  What better way to do that then with the Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk?

This comes together easily. I had a lot left over which I put in the freezer and have been reheating in the oven before serving.  I would encourage you to make "extra" to freeze, it freezes beautifully and is just as good the second (and third) time around.

Spiced Pumpkin French Toast

1 loaf day old baguette or other crusty bread, cut into thick slices
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Beverage
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Maple syrup
Powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Cooking oil spray

Whisk the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice beverage, tapioca starch, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla  together in a large bowl until smooth.

Place a few bread slices in the liquid and allow them to sit for a few minutes to soak up the liquid.

Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Spray with cooking oil and place the bread in the pan. Allow to cook for about five minutes or until it gets golden brown on the bottom. Flip and allow to cook another three to four minutes on the other side.

While the first batch is cooking soak the second batch of bread to be cooked in the liquid.  Repeat until all slices are cooked.

To serve drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired).


Monday, October 21, 2013

Tofu Bahn Mi

I am so excited to blog about this sandwich. Until very recently I had never had a Bahn Mi sandwich.  While traveling on business in Chicago recently I ordered a grilled portabella Vietnamese Bahn Mi and I liked it.



I started researching "authentic" Bahn Mi sandwiches online and found that there are quite a few varieties out there. It seems that most recipes call for pork (or other meat) along with a liver pate and some pickled daikon and carrot.  I began to ponder how to make a vegan Bahn Mi that was true to the spirit of the original yet without the meat.

My version uses a mushroom pate instead of liver and thinly sliced tofu instead of meat. I will tell you, that beyond a shadow of a doubt this is THE BEST sandwich I have ever made and quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever eaten!

I made only one sandwich so I have a lot of leftover mushroom and pickled daikon and carrot which is a good thing because its what the family is having for dinner tonight!

Tofu Bahn Mi

For the quick pickled daikon and carrot:
1 daikon radish, spiral sliced (or cut into thin matchsticks)
2 medium carrots, spiral sliced (or cut into thin matchsticks_
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt

For the mushroom pate:
2 portabello mushrooms rough chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Braggs liquid aminos
Fresh ground black pepper

For the tofu:
Thinly sliced tofu (about three or four slices per sandwich, pressed to remove excess water)
1 tbsp sesame oil

For the sriracha mayo:
3 parts vegan mayo
1 part sriracha sauce

To build the sandwich:
Crusty sandwich rolls
Cilantro for garnish

First make the quick pickled daikon and carrot by mixing all ingredients into a glass jar. Shake well to ensure the sugar dissolves. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

To make the mushroom pate heat olive and sesame oils over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the mushrooms, onion and liquid aminos.  Saute until soft. Put in food processor and season with plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Pulse until almost smooth. Set aside.

Combine the vegan mayo and sriracha sauce in a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

In a saute pan over medium high heat add one tablespoon of sesame oil.  When hot, place the tofu slices in the pan.  Allow them to get golden brown on one side and flip to brown the other side.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the sandwich roll(s) in the oven until the crust starts to get crisp and the roll is heated through.

To assemble the sandwich slather one side with the sriracha mayo and the other side with a generous portion of the mushroom pate.  Layer the tofu slices on top of the mushroom pate, then add the pickled daikon and carrot and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

While I looked at a lot of Bahn Mi recipes online this one is where I pulled the majority of my inspiration from.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I am a big fan of stuffing squash. And peppers.  So, when I came home from the grocery store with a beautiful acorn squash I decided to roast it and then stuff it with the same filling I used recently to stuff some peppers.



My 11 year old daughter absolutely loves the filling (unfortunately she won't eat the vessels I have stuffed it into thus far).  It's funny. She is a vegetable fan, just not a cooked vegetable fan. For whatever reason she prefers vegetables raw. Hey, nothing wrong with that!

The recipe for the filling is probably enough to stuff a few squashes, I only did one with the intention of having leftover stuffing for her to enjoy.

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 - 3 Acorn Squash, cut in half and seeded
1 package frozen vegan sausage style crumbles (I used Wegman's "Don't Be a Piggy")
1/2 small onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 small red pepper, minced
2 cups cooked brown rice (I used Uncle Ben's Ready Rice)
1 tbsp fennel seed
1/4 cup parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly spray squash halves with cooking oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking tray in the oven and allow to cook for up to an hour and a half, until tender.

While squash are cooking place olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add peppers and onions and saute until starting to become soft.  Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and continue to cook a few more minutes.

Add the frozen sausage crumbles, cooked rice and fennel seed.  Cook until heated through.  Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Place stuffing into the roasted squash halves, reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees and return the squash to the oven.  Allow to cook for about another 10-15 minutes.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lahmajun

When you decide to go vegan you know there are certain dishes and certain foods you just need to write off and/or forget about. If your convictions are strong enough it's not a big sacrifice, not something to be lamented; rather it is something you embrace.



There are a few Middle Eastern dishes I grew up with that were staples in our house. One of them was Lahmajun; an Armenian/Turkish pizza of sorts.  Traditionally made with ground lamb or beef and served with lemon wedges, it is something that we not only ate often, but something I really enjoyed. My Mom used to buy them frozen at the Middle Eastern grocer, and we would often have them for dinner. Sometimes we would even just pull them out of the freezer, heat them in a pan and eat them as a snack.

I had not really thought much about Lahmajun until I recently saw a picture of it online.  The memories literally came flooding back.  Not just the dinners and snacks at home but also thoughts of big family gatherings with stacks of Lahmajun being served along with lots of other Middle Eastern goodness. It got me not only thinking not just about how much I enjoyed it but about how certain foods, smells and tastes can literally transport you back to another time or place.

I started to research traditional recipes and figured I would give a vegan version a go. I would not only call this a success but I would call it a success of supernova proportions!  The flavors were exactly right, and the texture like I remember it; I was literally taken back to my childhood and the many, many times I enjoyed this dish.

If you have not had Lahmajun before you should give it a try. If you have had it, and like me thought it was something you would not experience again, give this a whirl; if the Lahmujan you ate was anything like what I did, this will not disappoint!

Lahmajun

For the dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp organic unbleached sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cooking oil spray

For the topping:
1 lb frozen soy crumbles, thawed (I used Boca)
1 red pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 green pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 handful parsley (about a cup)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal
Lemon wedges

To make the dough:
Put all ingredients into a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.  Turn on low and allow to run for five or six minutes until all ingredients form a loose ball. The dough may be a bit crumbly, that is OK.  Remove from the stand mixer, form into a ball, place into a bowl spray lightly with cooking oil spray and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow it to sit for two hours.

To make the filling:
While the dough is resting, place the peppers, onions, tomatoes, onion, tomato paste, parsley, cumin, olive oil and paprika into a food processor.  Pulse to combine into a paste.  Place in a bowl.  Put the thawed soy crumbles into the emptied food processor bowl.  Pulse until finely crumbled.  Add to the bowl with the vegetable paste ad using your hands combine until well incorporated.

When the dough is finished resting preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet dusted with corn meal in the oven  Break off a piece ad roll into a ball. Flatten into a circle on a floured surface and roll into a very thin circle. The dough should be cracker thin- no more than a quarter inch thick. You can make them as large or small as you want in circumference; I made mine about the size of a personal pan pizza.

Place enough filling on top of the disc to create a thin layer on top.  Place on the pizza stone and cook until crispy, about 7  minutes.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice on warm Lahmajun before eating.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frozen Hot Chocolate

One of the really cool things about blogging is that occasionally companies reach out to me to try their products.  I must admit, though, I am a little behind in trying all of the cool stuff I have been sent. I will eventually get to all of it but for now, lets talk hot chocolate.  More specifically Frozen NibMor Organic Drinking Chocolate.



Recently NibMor reached out and asked if I would be interested in trying their Organic Drinking Chocolate.  Organic chocolate?  You don't have to ask me twice!!  They sent three packets of chocolate, and a recipe for a vegan frozen hot chocolate.  While frozen hot chocolate may sound counter intuitive it really works!

I used the mint flavor to make this, but the six spice or traditional would be great, too.  I also topped it with a few frozen strawberries which I found to be quite good.

I hope that this product will be available in the grocery store locally, I really enjoyed it!

Frozen Mint Hot Chocolate

1 package Mint Organic Drinking Chocolate
1 cup Coconut Milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

Ah, fall. Crisp air, beautiful foliage and days getting shorter.  And of course, time to start making all sorts of pumpkin dishes.



A friend shared a recipe for Pumpkin Bread with me this morning on Facebook. It was early, the whole house was asleep, and I had some time to do whatever I felt like doing so I decided to take the inspiration and make pumpkin bread.

The recipe she sent looked great, but called for a bit more pumpkin that I had on hand. A quick Google search turned up this recipe. I followed it exactly, except I did not have dark brown sugar, and did not have quite enough light brown sugar so I just used the light brown sugar I had and supplement with organic cane sugar.  It worked just fine!



I am looking forward to cooking more with pumpkin and squash as we get into the fall season. This was an excellent start!!

Pumpkin Bread

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Put the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, allspice and clove in a bowl. Stir to incorporate.

In a separate bowl mix pumpkin, sugars, vegetable oil, maple syrup and water.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until a thick batter forms.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack.

Allow to fully cool before slicing.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Mexican Soup

There are so many directions I could take this post.  Maybe I will try to fit in a bunch of random thoughts that are seemingly unrelated and somehow pull together a cohesive post. First off, I love when you find a good product that 'partially' home made and turns out to be vegan. Second, I think that the Daiya Cheddar Wedge tastes like Cheez Whiz (or is it Velveeta?).  Third, my cabinets are overloaded with 'stuff' and I am a mission to reduce what is in there.



A while ago I discovered a soup mix for Corn Chowder at Wegman's. The base mix was vegan, and though the instructions for completing the soup included non vegan items it was easy enough to make vegan, and it was really good.  The same company, Cherchie's, also makes a Mexican Tortilla Soup mix. It is also vegan but calls for non vegan add ins to complete the soup.

Since this soup mix has been sitting in my cabinet for a few months now, and I am on a mission to declutter my cabinets I decided to give it a go. One item down, a million to go!

Instead of the ground turkey the recipe on the mix called for I used Wegman's Don't Have a Cow Beef Style Crumbles.  They worked beautifully.

The recipe on the soup mix also called for shredded Monterey Jack Cheese.  I decided to try out the Daiya Cheddar Style Wedge I purchased not too long ago.  I am not a big user of, or usually a fan of vegan cheese.  I cut a small chunk of the cheese and cut it up to top the soup. I took a bite of the cheese before putting on the soup and was struck by the fact that it tastes like Cheez Whiz (or maybe Velveeta)!!! Or at least I think it does. It has been many, many years since I have had Cheez Whiz (or Velveeta), but man oh man, this is what I remember it tasting like.  I imagine it is probably as processed and just as not good for you , but it sure does open up a lot of doors in terms of cooking -- ¿can you say queso?

Anyway, the soup was great.  I did not have tortilla chips to top it with, as suggested. They would be a nice add.  I have a bunch of leftovers, so this weekends trip to the store might include tortilla chips. Oh wait, that could be considered cluttering up my cabinet.

Mexican Soup

1 pkg Cherchie's Mexican Tortilla Soup Mix
1 lb pkg Beef Styel Crumbles
Daiya Cheddar wedge, chopped; about one tbs per bowl of soup
7 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the beef style crumbles and saute until browned and heated through.

In a large sauce pan or soup pot over high heat add the 7 cups of water and the contents of the soup package.  Bring to a boil and then add the beef style crumbles. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Allow to continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with the chopped Daiya Cheddar and cilantro if using.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy Vegan Pancakes

I love when everyday household items turn out to be 'accidentally' vegan.  Bisquick, a staple in most homes, is one of those products.  I have made pancakes from scratch a million times, but, truth be told, Bisquick makes a damn good pancake.  That includes vegan pancakes, too.



I have been craving pancakes for a while which is sort of weird because I rarely eat them. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I had pancakes. I will make them for the family sometimes on weekend mornings, but I almost never eat them myself.

I recently ran across a recipe for an easy vegan Bisquick pancake and so I decided to give in to that craving and have some pancakes.  They were good-nice and fluffy with a nice vanilla flavor. I fancied mine up a little by sprinkling some brown sugar on the top right before eating.  Yum!

Easy Vegan Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp organic, unbleached sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)

To serve:
Maple syrup
Brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.

Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.  Ladle pancake mix into the pan according to the size you want the pancakes. Allow to heat for about a minute or two  and then flip the pancake (you will know they are ready to flip when you start to see bubbles that in the pancake leaving behind a small hole).  The pancakes should be golden brown on both sides.

Serve with maple syrup and sprinkle with brown sugar, if desired.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cheesey Mac n' Yeast

I have had a cold for a couple of days now.  I have been eating a lot of soup, leftover White Bean and Kale Soup. to be exact.  I literally slept for 16 hours more or less straight and unfortunately still feel less than myself.  This evening I was hungry and craving mac and cheese.  You know, the kind your Mom would make you when you were sick- the kind from a blue box.



I have not had that stuff in years but nonetheless I needed an easy way to recreate something similar and as comforting as the blue box stuff.  I found this recipe which appeared simple enough to make, even doable when feeling lousy.

I followed the recipe more or less exactly though I left out the broccoli. For one, I did not have any in the house. And, broccoli in Mac and Cheese is just not appealing to me.  Call me a bad vegan but I just want the cheesey goodness of mac and cheese- no veggies please!

The only changes I made was to use So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage instead of the non dairy milks the recipe called for. I also had no tomato paste in the house so I improvised  by cooking down a can of tomato sauce until slightly thickened.

This did the trick. I have a lot left over. No in the family has yet to try it so I am not sure if I am on the hook to eat the rest or not, but I suppose I can freeze some if they aren't as big a fan as I.

Here's to feeling better soon!

Cheesey Mac n' Yeast

1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup vegan butter
1//3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 cups non dairy milk
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp agave nectar

Cook the pasta in according to package directions. Drain well and return to the pot.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan heat the vegan butter until melted. Add the all purpose flour and whisk.  Allow to cook, whisking frequently, for a few minutes until a roux is formed.

Add the non dairy milk, nutritional yeast, salt, tomato paste and garlic powder and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until sauce is nicely thickened to the consistency of cheese sauce.  add the lemon juice and agave nectar and stir.

Pour sauce over noodles and stir to incorporate.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Toffee

Sweets are not my speciality, that is for sure.  For instance, I recently made what sounded like a great recipe for what I might call a cross between a cookie and a candy and lets just say, while the intent was good, they came out subpar.  But I am not one to give up so I figured try again with a toffee recipe.



These are very good, but I will tell you, cooking sugar is really tricky. I adapted mine from a recipe that called for the sugar to get to 305 degrees Fahrenheit (the hard crack stage).  Let me tell you, you cannot let it go even a fraction of a degree more than that or you will have something that tastes like burned sugar.  I say that because, I know. I did it.

I got a new candy thermometer for Christmas.  The way you read it is slightly different than my old one and when I made this the first time I believe accidentally misread the thermometer and let the sugar go an extra five degrees. Apparently, that is a lot when it comes to cooking sugar! While the result was edible it was not perfect.

So consider yourself warned-- this is a very exact science project! Pay attention :)

Chocolate Pecan Toffee

1 cup vegan butter
1 cup organic unbleached sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
8 oz vegan chocolate
3/4 cup pecans finely  chopped

Toast the pecans in a skillet on the stove over medium heat for a few minutes, until the pecans are fragrant.  Set aside.

Make a ten inch square shell out of aluminum foil, allowing for 1" sides.  Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a sauce pan add the sugar, vegan butter and water.  Using a candy thermometer let the mixture cook until exactly 305 degrees Fahrenheit, the 'hard crack' stage.  Watch it carefully, you cannot let the mixture get above 305 degrees.

When the mixture reaches 305 remove from the heat and add the vanilla and salt and stir.  Pour into the tin foil shell. The mixture will spread, do not worry if it does not reach the sides.  Allow to cool for at least 45 minutes or until hardened and cooled completely.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over medium heat.  When very smooth and melted pour over the top of the toffee mixture. Use an icing spreader or or knife to ensure the chocolate covers the toffee.

Sprinkle the nuts on top, pressing down slightly to ensure they adhere.

Place in the refrigerator until fully cooled.  When ready to serve, break into single serving sized pieces.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Peppers

It is starting to feel like fall in the Northeastern part of the United States.  While I am sorry to see Summer go, I must say I am enjoying the beautiful sunny days and crisp evenings.  And with that comes football, the leaves that will soon start to turn and comfort food.



Football Sunday's especially require hearty, comfort food. This particular Sunday Mr. Meat and Potatoes is at the Eagle's game with a buddy. Unfortunately, things did not go well for The Birds, but I had the entire day at home to myself, and I took advantage by spending some time in the kitchen.

After taking inventory of what was already in the fridge/freezer I decided Stuffed Peppers sounded good. I did throw something in the crockpot for the guys for when they get home from the game, but for me it will be these Stuffed Peppers.  And, I made enough of them that if they want, they are welcome to have one should they feel so inclined. And why wouldn't they? They are really good!



I used Wegman's own brand of Sausage Crumbles. I really like them, they are seasoned well and require little, if any doctoring when using them in recipes.  If you do not have a Wegman's near you any other brand of vegan sausage will work, too. And of course, if you are feeling really ambitious you could make your own using tempeh or TVP.  The recipe makes six, so I suspect I will have enough for a couple of lunches this week, too.

Well, I am off to await their arrival.... I hope they are not too disappointed- there is always next week!

(Vegan) Sausage and Rice Stuffed Peppers

6 bell peppers, tops, seeds and veins removed
1 package Don't Be Piggy Sausage Style Crumbles
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 ribs celery, chopped fine
1/2 large white onion chopped fine
3 sweet banana peppers diced fine (or use the tops of the peppers you are stuffing)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil.  When hot add the onion, celery and banana peppers. Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sweat until vegetables begin to soften and onion turns translucent.

Add the sausage crumbles (I added them still frozen).  Ass they begin to thaw and brown, stir in the brown rice and the fennel seeds.  Reseason with salt and pepper if desired.  Allow to cook until fully warmed through.

Stuff each pepper with 1/6th of the mixture, place in an oven safe baking dish and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes or longer depending on how soft you want the peppers.

Allow to cool slightly before serving.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fried Artichokes over Lemon "Butter" Pasta

I love artichokes. I grew up eating artichokes made by both my Grandmother or Mother. In fact, I have been eating them so long I don't really remember life without them!  They still show up on our holiday table at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even my kids love them.



As delicious as they are, I don't make them often. Quite frankly, fresh artichokes constitute a lot of work and I don't often have the time to set aside to make them.

I don't often used canned products, but I was really craving artichokes. Specifically, fried artichokes like I recently had while eating out.  So, instead of using fresh I caved and went with the canned.  Well, what do you know?!? They were really good, and using them cut the preparation time to almost nothing! I think from here on out I will keep canned artichoke hearts in the pantry for regular use.

I did the pasta with a lemon butter sauce, but you could experiment with whatever sauce you prefer. I also used a little Parmela to sprinkle on top.

Fried Artichokes over Lemon Butter Pasta

1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed drained and dried well
1/2 pound pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
2 tbsp finely minced yellow onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp cold vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying
Parmela for sprinkling (optional)

Add pasta to boiling salted water. Cook per package directions.

Add about 1/2 inch of olive oil to a shallow pan.  Turn on medium high heat. When oil is hot add the drained and dried artichoke hears.  Allow to cook until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

While pasta and artichokes are cooking add 2 tablespoons of the vegan butter to a saute pan over medium heat.  When butter is melted add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until onion begins to soften. Add the wine and continue to cook for a few minutes stirring to incorporate. Once incorporated add the cold butter, ee-season with salt and pepper and whisk to emulsify.

When the pasta is finished cooking drain in a colander and when ready, add to the sauce. Toss to coat.

To serve, place pasta in a plate or bowl, top with the artichoke hearts, capers and Parmela if using.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Crescent Roll Apple Pie

I was recently added to (another) an online cooking group.  This particular group consists of people that share common interests in music and also love to cook. Music and cooking. My two favorite things!  Of the many social media cooking groups that I am a part of this one seems to be the most active, I am really enjoying it.



I have "met" some really awesome folks and have gotten several ideas for new recipes. The group is not vegan, however, everyone is respectful of one another's dietary/food choices; I love that. And, I am already thinking about how to veganize some of the non vegan recipes I see posted there- some of them sound really good.

Not too long ago someone posted this "accidentally" vegan recipe for crescent rolls wrapped around an apple.  A little apple pie of sorts.  It really does not get any easier that this and given the reaction by my family (they were more or less devoured) I will declare these a keeper!

I did make a caramel sauce to serve with these.  However, when they finished cooking the caramel sauce had not yet cooled enough to use and they did not last long enough to eventually try with the caramel. Oh well, next time. There definitely will be a next time!

Crescent Roll Apple Pie

1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 slice apple per crescent roll (I used Honey Crisp)
Cinnamon Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Unroll the crescent roll dough and separate on perforations. Sprinkle each triangle generously with cinnamon sugar.  Place an apple slice at the larger end and roll the dough around the apple.

Place on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow too cool slightly before serving.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Miso Potato Casserole

Ahhhh, a long weekend with no formal plans.  I have been spending lots of time with my kids and enjoying every minute of it. And, I was able to get some quality time in my kitchen, to boot.



Sunday nights I always try to get the family around the table together. It is not always possible given the kids schedules but when we can make it happen I can honestly say I think it is my favorite time of the week.

I had a lot of potatoes in the house so I figured this Sunday dinner would include something with potato.  I started with no real idea what I was going to do with them, but the dish came together nicely, though I think I was a little overzealous with the miso (I adjusted the recipe to call for less).

As I peeled the potatoes I thought about the fact that potato peels are usually thrown out (well, I put mine in the veggie stock bag I keep in the freezer, but you know what I mean).  So, I decided to try to incorporate them into the dish. The result was good.

And, as I cut the potato peels up, they sort of reminded me of the coconut used to make coconut 'bacon'.... I think I am going to try potato peel 'bacon' next time I peel potatoes. If it works look forward to a future post.

Now, I realize this is not the prettiest dish in the world, but it is tasty. Kind of like a potato pudding, who can say no to that?!?



Miso Potato Casserole

2 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (reserve peels)
4-5 small yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed (reserve peels)
1 Kale leaf, minced (remove the stem and discard or save for another use)
1 tbsp shallot, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp yellow miso
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the potatoes and allow to cook until fork tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saute pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the shallot and minced kale.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for a couple of minutes until th shallot begins to soften and the kale turns bright green.

Add the shallot and kale mixture to the bowl of potatoes.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the potatoes and gently mix until well incorporated. Re-season with salt and pepper.

Put the potato mixture in a lightly greased casserole dish. Finely chop the reserved potato skins and then sprinkle over the top of the casserole dish.  Sprinkle a bit of salt on top.

Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly.  You may want to check about halfway through the cooking time to ensure the potato skins do not get too brown.  If they appear too brown cover with foil and then uncover for about the last minute of cooking.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Poblano Corn Pancakes

Today I unexpectedly found myself working from home. I do enjoy working at home on occasion. I find I am quite productive without any of the usual office distractions.  The added bonus is that I can wrap up my work day at the normal time and have plenty of time to prepare an unrushed dinner.



Tonight I decided to try a spin on a recipe I have had my eye on from The Vegan Kat. While we both call this a pancake I think you could also get away with calling it a fritter. Regardless of what you call it, you can call it delicious!

As it turned out it was just two of us for dinner tonight as my daughter is visiting with her cousin and Grandparents at the beach and my son had band practice.  As a result, I have several pancakes leftover. I put them in the freezer for another night.

I got seven relatively large pancakes out of this recipe. We had them as a main dish but if you want to do them as a side dish, simply make the pancakes smaller and make more of them.

I used So Delicious Cashew Milk in this recipe. I was out of the coconut milk I usually use and had some of the shelf stable cashew milk that the So Delicious company was kind enough to send to me to try.  I have used it a few times now, and I am developing quite a fondness for it--it worked quite well.

Pobalno Corn Pancakes

3/4 cups unbleached organic all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp organic whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup non dairy milk
1 can organic corn, rinsed and drained
2 poblano peppers, minced
1 cup cilantro, minced
2 tbsp EnerG egg replacer dissolved in 8 tbsp warm water
Cooking spray

In a large bowl mix the flours, baking powder salt and pepper.  Add the EnerG egg replacer and water mixture, the olive oil and non dairy milk.  Stir until a batter is formed. Do not over mix.

Add the corn, peppers and cilantro. Stir to incorporate.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into pan according to the desired size of pancake.  Allow to cook until bubbles start to form (a couple of minutes). Flip and allow to cook on the other side until both sides are golden brown and pancakes are cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Super Simple Banana Cake

This recipe is so ridiculously simple it really is not fair to call it a recipe.  With five ingredients (two of them optional) it is about the easiest thing to pull together.   I used bananas for this cake, but I think you could use any fruit you want.



Yes, there is A LOT of 'butter' in this recipe. Yes, it is very rich and sweet. Yes, is delicious. And yes, a little goes a long way in satisfying a craving for sweets.  Topped with a bit of So Delicious No Sugar Added Butter Pecan ice cream this was divine.

In fact, my ten year old daughter proclaimed it to be "the best cake you ever made".  She does not have to know it is the cake that requires the least amount of work :)

Enjoy if you decide to try this.  If you use a different fruit please let me know how it comes out!

Four Ingredient Banana Cake

2 bananas, sliced
3/4 package Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix (yes, it is vegan out of the box!)
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance)
~1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
Cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the sliced bananas in the bottom of a lightly greased 8x8 glass pan.

Pour about 3/4 of the cake mix over top of the bananas.  Top with the melted butter and then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon (if desired).

Place in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly.

Allow to cool before serving.

Note: I used this recipe to serve as the inspiration for my cake, though there are many similar ones out there.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mango Slaw, Wasabi Mustard and an Asian Inspired Veggie Burger

I had not really planned on publishing these recipes as well, they are not much in terms of recipes, but I had a couple of Twitter/Facebook requests for them so why not?  The Wasabi Mustard alone is worth a post- delicious.



I will admit that this dinner was inspired by an episode of Rachel's Kitchen. I am not a big Rachel Ray fan, but her tuna burgers caught my eye- mostly because of the wasabi mustard and pickled ginger she garnished the burgers with. And she used black sesame seeds, something I really like.

The mango slaw was inspired by something I often get in my work cafeteria (yes, work cafeteria!). It came together really well and was also really simple to put together.



I had a premade Wildwood SprouTofu Veggie Burger in the fridge (have you tried them? They are quite good). I fried it up in a little sesame oil which added to the Asian flair to this dish.

I pretty much took the easy way out for dinner tonight. But it was oh, so good.

Mango Slaw
8 oz slaw mix (mine had shredded green and red cabbage as well as carrot)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 mango peeled and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
1/3 cup white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

Wasabi Mustard
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 tsp wasabi paste
1 tbsp agave nectar

Whisk all ingredients together and serve as a condiment instead of regular mustard.

Top your favorite veggie burger (heated over medium heat with a splash of sesame oil) with some of the mustard, some pickled ginger and black sesame seeds.  Serve a side of the mango slaw and enjoy a delicious meal!