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.