Friday, January 25, 2013

Potatoes Au Gratin

Potatoes Au Gratin- the ultimate comfort food. I used to eat them all the time. Mostly the kind out of the box. I loved them. And recently I have made them from scratch for the family. Yes, the kind with cheese and milk. They love them.

They looked so good I figured I needed to figure out how to make them vegan so I could once again enjoy them, too.  And ironically, a fellow blogger friend was looking for some guest posters to submit comfort food recipes. Though not a vegan blog, she decided to post this vegan recipe!  I love when vegan recipes make it into the "mainstream"!  Thanks Caroline for sharing the vegan love. Please check out her post on The PerkiomenValleyPatch!

Just a couple of really simple substitutions and you will have a healthier version of this classic dish. I served them to the family and they all loved them- Mr. Meat and Potatoes included. They taste just like the "real" thing to me- slightly burnt cheesy edges and all!

I am not a huge fan of "fake" cheese but the Daiya in this recipe creates a velvety smooth cheesy sauce that is not discernable from the "real" deal!

Potatoes Au Gratin

4 Russet potatoes, skin on, sliced thin
3 Tbsp vegan butter such as Earth Balance
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds
1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella style shreds
1 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a sauce pan over medium heat add the vegan butter.  Once melted stir in the flour whisking constantly for one minute.

Add the non dairy milk, onion powder and cheeses.  Continue to stir until cheese is melted and the sauce is very smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a lightly greased baking dish layer the potatoes.  Pour the sauce over top. Place in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours until bubbly and nicely browned.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

Recently a friend posted a recipe on one of my social media pages. It looked pretty good so I decided to try it.  Turns out it was pretty good- nah, it was really good!    If you like a deep, rich chocolate flavor without the guilt you will love this.

Given that this recipe contains no fat from the base ingredients (yes the chocolate chips and walnuts add some fat) and given the fact that it is made entirely of whole grains and only a cup of sugar for the entire loaf (much of the sweetness comes from the bananas) this is not terribly unhealthy, which is a bonus.

Easy to make and even easier to eat- I suggest giving this a try!

Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

4 overly ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Add turbinado sugar and vanilla to mashed bananas. Mix with a hand mixer gradually adding water to the mixture.  Mix until smooth.

In another bowl add the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.  Stir to incorporate.  Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir until a batter is formed.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Place into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top is starting to split.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

French Onion Style Thirteen Bean Soup and a Giveaway

Call me a purist. Or maybe old fashioned. Or maybe too lazy to learn a new way of cooking? Whatever it is, I just cannot get excited about the pressure cooker I bought not too long ago. I tried, I really did! I see lots of folks using them and lots of folks that love them.  Heck, no one loves her pressure cooker more than my friend JL of JL Goes Vegan!  Even my own Mom used to use one.

Though I really thought I needed one, for whatever reason, I just cannot get into it. I guess for me, cooking is something I do to relax; I suppose I am not concerned about reducing cooking time. I like to slowly create as I go- I think it is more about the process than the actual end result.  Well, maybe not more but as much.

As such, I have decided that I am going to part with my pressure cooker and thought it would be great to give it away to one of the folks that read this blog!  All you need to do is leave me a comment about why you would like a pressure cooker and I will randomly select a winner and gladly ship you my pressure cooker. Please be sure to include your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.

I do want to make you aware that the 6 quart Presto Pressure Cooker I am giving away is barely used but does not have a box or instruction manual. I am also going to need to look around for the rack that came with it (that I never used).  I would guess you can get the instruction manual online and order a rack if you think you need one.

And for those of you that are interested in what a pressure cooker can do check out JL's version of my soup- cooking time start to finish- about 90 minutes.  Including soaking he beans it took me about two days start to finish so if you are cooking for a family, super busy at work or if time spent cooking is important to you a pressure cooker may be just what you need!

I will choose a winner on 01/20/2013. Good luck!

Update! We have a winner and I am thrilled to be sending a pressure cooker to someone whose pressure cooker just gave up on them1 I hope it is enjoyed for years to come!

French Onion Style Thirteen Bean Soup

1 cup Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix beans, soaked for 6-8 hours
6 cups low or no sodium vegetable stock (I use home made and do not add salt)
2 bay leaves
1 large white onion sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flake (or more depending on taste)
~ 6 rounds toasted baguette bread
~6 slices daiya havarti style wedge slices cut into thin strips

Drain the soaked beans and add to a pot. Cover with five cups of vegetable stock and add the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Allow to cook for two hours or until the beans are soft.

Once the beans are soft, in a large skillet add olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onions, salt and pepper to taste and saute until soft but not browned- about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flake and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the onions and the other cup of vegetable stock to the soup mixture and continue to cook for another half hour.

While the soup continues to cook preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When soup is finished remove the bay leaves and add soup to a crock.

Beans and onions!

Top each with a bread round and add the daiya havarti.

Ready for the oven.

Place in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Depending on your oven and how browned you want the top this may take more or less time so check it frequently.

Serve immediately.

Ready to eat!

Note: Due to shipping costs the giveaway is open to residents of the USA only.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Twirls

I will be the first to admit I have a bit of obsession with puff pastry and/or crescent roll dough. You know, the "accidentally" vegan kind made my Pillsbury.  I know, I know, not particularly healthy but good Lord it is particularly good!

I ususally have a box or tube of the stuff on hand as my family, particularly my son, like it.  Plus, you know it is almost impossible for anything to taste bad wrapped in a flaky dough. Admit it, you agree!!

These were an impromptu lunch and they were quite good.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Twirls

1 tube Pillsbury Crescent Rounds individually unrolled or one sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 bunch basil (about a cups worth of leaves)
1 roasted red pepper, peeled, seeded and chopped
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor or powerful blender.  Pulse until a thick paste forms.  Slowly add the olive oil and pulse until incorporated.

Spread the pesto onto the puff pastry sheet or individually on the unrolled Crescent Rounds. I did the latter, because that is had in the house but the puff pastry sheet would definitely be easier.  Sprinkle with the chopped roasted red pepper and roll either the individual Crescent rounds or the puff pastry sheet.  If using the puff pastry sheet slice into eight equal portions.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

It is football Sunday and football Sunday calls for snacks, right?  I used to  like Buffalo wings.  Actually, it was never the actual wings as much as the sauce... I just love that spicy, tangy sauce. Messy eating at its best. I have not had anything in that sort of sauce in years, it's time!

I stumbled across this recipe a while ago and it has been on my list of things to try. Given I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge that really needed to be used and its a football Sunday I figured I would give it a shot.

Wow! Served with some home made vegan ranch and celery sticks this is some good stuff!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

For the bites:
1 head cauliflower cut into bite size chunks
1 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/4 cup Tabasco Sauce
1 tbsp melted vegan butter

Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup vegan mayo
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put the non dairy milk, flour and garlic powder in a bowl and whisk together until a thick batter forms.  Place the cauliflower pieces in a bowl and toss to coat well.  Place coated cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 18 minutes.

While cauliflower is in the oven mix the Franks Red Hot sauce, Tabasco sauce and melted butter. Stir.

Once the cauliflower has cooked for 18 minutes pour sauce on top, toss gently to coat and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes.

To make the ranch dressing simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chinese Noodle Cookies

This may be the easiest cookie recipe ever.  Three ingredients, no baking required? Delicious?  Sign me up!

Actually, these cookies are quite nostalgic to me. My Mother made them often when we were
growing up. Of course, she used milk chocolate and non-vegan marshmallows to make them (and she still does).  Obviously, I have not eaten one since going vegan.  This Christmas they looked so good on the cookie tray I decided to make a vegan version.

I used Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate chips and Dandies vegan marshmallows quartered to be "mini" sized. The La Choy Chinese noodles just so happen to be vegan anyway- score!

They taste just like the original- nostalgia and all.

Chinese Noodle Cookies

1 5 oz can store bough Chow Mein Noodles (I used La Choy)
1 12 oz package vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli Semi Sweet)
5 oz vegan marshmallows, cut into  "mini" size (I used Dandies)

In a double boiler heat the chocolate until melted and smooth.  Place the Chow Mein noodles and marshmallows in a bowl.  Pour the melted chocolate over and mix gently until well coated.

Working quickly with an medium cookie scoop, 1/4 cup ice cream scoop or a large spoon place spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Put into the refrigerator to set. Serve either cold or at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container lined with wax paper.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Horseradish Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms

I had a bunch of potatoes I needed to use up. When the family left for a week long vacation the day after Christmas I left a bowl full of potatoes in a bowl on the kitchen table.  When we got home they really needed to be used- you know, starting to sprout, growing eyes, etc.

I had purchased some mushrooms when I went the grocery store upon returning home and figured the two made a nice combination.  I am a big fan of horseradish mashed potatoes and thus the idea for these stuffed mushrooms were born.

I used four potatoes to make my mashed potatoes and had a bunch leftover. I have altered the recipe to slightly reduce the amount of mashed potatoes since the amount I made would have filled enough mushrooms to feed a small country.  Adjust the mashed potato ingredients to suit your taste; or just use whatever mashed potato recipe you usually use.  Just make sure they are smooth enough to pipe out of an icing bag.

Horseradish Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms

~20 cremini mushrooms stems removed
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp vegan butter
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
2 (or more) tbsp prepared horseradish
Salt to taste
Smoked paprika for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On the stove top over high heat add potatoes to salted water (enough to cover the potatoes completely). Bring to a boil and until potatoes are fork tender (about 15 to 20 minutes).  Drain potatoes and put in a bowl with the vegan butter, non dairy milk, horseradish and salt.  Beat with a hand mixer until very smooth.

Place mushrooms on a baking sheet. Place potatoes in a piping bag with a fairly large tip (I used a star tip with a large opening but you can use whatever you have). Pipe the potatoes into the mushrooms and sprinkle with smoked paprika if desired.

Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and the potatoes slightly browned on top.