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.