Monday, September 29, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Using What You Already Have

I have been busy in my kitchen. Here I am about a week into "My Pantry Project".  In order to get through all the "stuff"in my existing pantry I have been cooking up a lot of things that probably don't warrant a recipe, but are probably worth sharing. Maybe these dishes will give you some ideas to use staples you may already have in your own pantry.  Beats running to the grocery store for the ingredients to prep your next meal, right?

This is a sampling of what The Vegan Version's household has been eating as of late:

Italian Pasta Salad

For this one just some tricolored pasta, a can of artichoke hearts, a jar of pimentos and some homemade champagne vinaigrette. In hindsight, I should have added a can of chickpeas. Nest time.

Blueberry Barley Breakfast Bowl

I cooked up a bunch of pearl barley and left it in the fridge for use in recipes.  For the breakfast bowl all I did was add some So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk and heat it up. I topped it with a dollop of Blueberry Jam and sprinkled it with cinnamon.  A great breakfast!

Chickpea Salad

Truly one of my go-tos. I usually use canned chickpeas and use whatever fresh veggies and herbs I have in the house. Just add a little Vegenaise, salt and pepper and, voila! My 12-year-old vegetarian (non-chickpea lover) has discovered that she loves this and now she asks for it regularly for lunch at school. I consider that a win!

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

While I love oatmeal for breakfast I am discovering that there are more grains than just oats to make a great breakfast (as evidenced by the Barley Bowl above). Quinoa is delicious and a good source of protein, iron and magnesium.  Plus, it is really filling and is super versatile. I have been keeping some cooked quinoa in the refrigerator so that I can quickly dress it up as a sweet breakfast or a nice lunchtime salad. For this breakfast it was a splash of coconut milk, dried cranberries, pecans, brown sugar and a drizzle of agave syrup. A new go-to quick breakfast.

Corn and Quinoa Soup

This soup was so easy. I had a box of prepared organic Corn Soup in my pantry. To dress it up I just sautéed one quarter of a white onion in a little bit of olive oil, added the soup and one cup of the quinoa in the refrigerator.  Once it was heated through I garnished with some canned corn kernels, avocado, jalapeño pepper and some cilantro. Delish!

Multi Layer Dip

For this dip I simply added a jar of pre-made black bean dip, layered it with vegan sour cream, salsa, lettuce and green onions.  Super easy and really tasty, too.

The balance of my week will be comprised of business travel and a weekend family wedding. I don't suspect there will be a lot of cooking over that time, maybe I can sneak another dish in tomorrow evening and again on Sunday, we'll see.  Even at a week in my pantry is already far more organized. I am loving it!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Lemon Cranberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

I have never had a scone before so I am not quite sure what makes up a "good" scone.  All I know is that I found a five pound bag of self rising flour in my pantry (I wonder what it was that I had intended to make, anyway).

Since I am working on cooking my way through my pantry ("My Pantry Project"), I decided I should figure out how to use it; so, I did what anyone trying to figure out how use self rising flour would do. I Googled.

My search turned up a bunch of mostly non vegan cake recipes. This one for scones caught my eye because it was super simple (only three ingredients) and it used things I had on hand.

I adapted the recipe a bit, mostly with the addition of lemon zest and cranberries.  The result was quite good.  This is my sort of bakery treat. Not too sweet with a nice lemony flavor. I wonder why it took this long for me to try a scone!

Lemon Cranberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

For the scones:
2 cups self rising flour (plus more as needed)
2 tbsp sugar plus ! tsp plus more for sprinkling
1 can full fat coconut milk (reserve one tbsp)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
Zest of 1 lemon

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a bowl mix the flour and sugar.  Add the lemon zest and dried cranberries.  Stir.  Add the coconut milk and mix (but do not overmix) until a batter forms.  Turn the batter out onto a well floured board. If the dough is sticky fold more flour in a tablespoon at a time. The dough should not stick but shoudl not be dry either.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Form the dough into a square about 1" thick.  Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into eight pieces much like you would a pizza. Do not separate the pieces.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet  and brush the top with the remaining coconut milk.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the tops of the scones are nicely browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

To prepare the glaze mix the confectioners sugar with lemon juice. The glaze should be thick but pourable. If you would like a thinner glaze add some water one teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Pour glaze over cooled scones.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Sloppy Black Bean Sliders

I continue to cook my way through my pantry as part of the "My Pantry Project"  hosted by my Author/Blogger pal JL Fields.  And while my pantry is emptying, my fridge and freezer is filling! Not a bad situation, right?

For this meal I decided to use up some canned tomato sauce, paste and green chilies and some dried black beans. If you don't have dried beans no problem. Canned would work just as well. While this is not necessarily a traditional "Sloppy" sandwich recipe it was delicious in its own right. Slightly tangy and slightly spicy, the sauce worked out really well. I liked the texture of the beans with the sauce, too.

I think this shall be my lunches for the next few days. It is supposed to be a beautiful weekend in Southeastern PA. It would ben nice to eat lunch outside!

Sloppy Black Bean Sliders

2 tbsp olive oil1/4 large white onion sliced very thin
1 celery stalk chopped fine
4 oz canned green chilies
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (equivalent to one can)
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan over medium heat add the two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and celery and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until very soft and lightly carmelized.  Add the green chilies and garlic and continue to saute for about two more minutes.

Add the black beans, tomato sauce and paste, red wine vinegar, sugar, molasses, mustard powder, sage and cumin.  Stir until well combined.  Lower the heat to medium low and allow to cook for about fifteen minutes.

Serve on slider rolls.

Note: if the sauce is too thick for your liking it can be thinned by adding water to achieve the desired consistency.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Pumpkin Spice Rounds with Coco Whip

Hold on to your hats.  That fluffy, creamy white goodness you see wedged in between and on top of the two pieces of Spiced Pumpkin Bread (more on that later) is Coco Whip!  Remember Cool Whip? That chemical laden, no good for you, non vegan deliciousness?  Well, Coco Whip is a viable, better for you, great tasting alternative out there and it is A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Even Mr. Meat and Potatoes really liked it (uh-oh, better hide the Coco Whip!).

The kind folks at So Delicious were nice enough to send me samples of their Coco Whip along with some other seasonal goodies, too.  They sent Pumpkin Spice, Nog and Mint Chocolate Coconut Milks which are hitting the shelves again- they are all so good! And, they spoiled me with some frozen novelty treats, too! Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn ice cream bars (Oh my, so much yum).

As my "My Pantry Project" continues, today I thought I would see about using up some of the massive amounts of flour and sugar I have on hand.  And heck, why not incorporate some of the awesomeness the So Delicious folks sent, too?

Today you get a two for one- this recipe makes two loaves of Pumpkin Spice bread. One to eat now, and another for later.  I have made many pumpkin breads, some of which I have posted on this site. This is my favorite thus far. And, putting some Coco Whip between and atop the two slices of the Pumpkin Spice Bread? That is just the proverbial "icing on the cake".

I am slowly but surely working my way through my pantry; So Deliciously!

Pumpkin Spice Bread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 15 oz can organic pumpkin puree
2/3 cup So Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk (or other non dairy milk)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
Coco Whip for topping (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients.  Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet into the well and stir until a batter forms. Make sure the flour is mixed in well and there are no "dry" spots.

Split the mixture between two greased loaf pans. Do not overfill the pans, the bread will rise quite a bit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool and remove from the pans.

To make the rounds slice thin slices of pumpkin bread using a biscuit cutter.  Pipe or spread the Coco Whip on one of the rounds, top with another round and then top with more Coco Whip.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Butternut Squash with Barley, White Wine and Currants

Today I am thrilled to share my second post as part of JL's My Pantry Project as featured on her blog JL Goes Vegan. Not only did this come out better than I could have ever dreamed, I did it without shopping for a single ingredient outside of my own kitchen! In fact, it may be one of my favorite recipe creations, yet. The squash came out so tender and the wine really adds to the flavor of the dish.

And, I am having so much fun with this project! If you are not yet aware of the My Pantry Project, the goal is to cook through your own pantry creating from-scratch meals using things you already have.  It is a great way to spark some creativity in the kitchen, lower your grocery bills and organize your kitchen.

You know the feeling you get when you clean out your closets or garage by donating or tossing things you no longer use or need? It's sort of like that. With the bonus of a great meal when you are finished!

I posted my first recipe yesterday.  I plan to create many more recipes in the days and weeks to come so check back every so often or follow my "My Pantry Project" board on Pinterest.

I am really looking forward to an organized pantry that I can then work on filling up with some new items!

This particular recipe finds me 1 cup of pearl barley and a 1/2 cup of currants lighter.  And that was the end of the currants so one less box in the pantry. Woo-hoo!

I would love to have you join me.  Are you game to use up the items in your pantry before buying more?

Butternut Squash with Barley, White Wine and Currants

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup cooked and rinsed pearl barley*
3/4 cup white wine
20 oz butternut squash chunks (I used the prepackaged fresh from Wegman's)
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup currants
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot over medium heat add the 2 tbsp olive oil.  Add the onion and season with salt and pepper.  Saute a few minutes until the onions soften a bit and then add the garlic and thyme. Saute another minute or so.  Add the barley and white wine.  Cook for a minute or two and then add the butternut squash chunks, vegetable stock and currents.  Give it a quick stir, re-season with salt and pepper, cover and turn the heat to low.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.

*I chose to used precooked and rinsed barley in this recipe as I did not want a thick soup or stew. Cooking and rinsing the barley will keep it from thickening the dish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"My Pantry Project" Mushroom, Rice and Black Bean Porridge

My dear friend JL, The author of the blog JL Goes Vegan recently started the "My Pantry Project". When I read the details of the challenge I knew I was in.  It's pretty simple- create meals from your own pantry with a goal of trimming down what you have.  If you are anything like me- you have A LOT.

As the "Executive Chef" of my own kitchen I often find myself buying ingredients for a specific
recipe idea. I may use them once, or sometimes, even though I have the best of intentions, never use at all.

In preparation for JL's challenge I took stock of my pantry. In doing so I learned a lot about myself. For one, I have so many types of flour it is not even funny (eleven to be exact).  And I clearly overbuy when it comes to rice (eight varieties), something I admittedly do not cook often as my family are not big fans.  I also cleared out some stuff that was expired (while not proud of it, I will admit I found an item from 2002!)

There are plenty of other things to get through, too- various beans (dried and canned), a variety of grains and a bunch of sugars, too.  I did not inventory my spices specifically, but for the duration of my Pantry Challenge I have decided I will not buy any more dried herbs or spices. Instead, I will commit to using solely those in the kitchen drawer (yes I have a whole large drawer dedicated solely to spices  and yes, there are a lot of those, too!

Clearly I have my work cut out for me.  But, the reward should be some creative, delicious food, a reduced grocery bill and, hopefully a far more organized kitchen!

My first recipe creation has left me two cups of rice, two cups of black beans and three cups of packaged vegetable stock lighter. I love it!  The results were good, too.  The recipe made enough for me to enjoy a few meals while stocking some in my freezer for the cold, snowy Winter days I am anticipating.

Thanks JL for the gentle nudge. I am really excited about this challenge.

Do you have an overfilled pantry? Are you up for the challenge?

Mushroom, Rice and Black Bean Porridge*

3 carrots, diced
8 oz portabella mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 cup wild rice
1 cup brown rice
2 cups black beans (soaked overnight, quick soaked or canned)
1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos
3 qts vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
1 dried guajillo chili, sliced open and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot over medium heat add the olive oil and carrot. Saute for a few minutes and then add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they release their liquid and it evaporates. Season with salt and pepper each time you add an ingredient.  Add the garlic, black beans and rice and cook a minute or two.  Add the Bragg's Liquid Aminos, the vegetable stock, thyme parsley and guajillo chili.  Turn to low heat and simmer for an hour or until the beans and rice are tender. Note: since the dish has already been salted the beans may not soften as much as if no salt were added.  You could wait to add the salt until the beans are tender. I prefer beans with a little bit of "chew" which is why I add the salt in the beginning).

*Much of the liquid will be absorbed by the rice and beans. If you prefer more of a soup to a porridge add some vegetable stock to create the consistency you prefer toward the end of the cooking process.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Pie Cake

As you can probably tell by my last few posts I am embracing fall! Butternut Squash Mac n'..., Pumpkin Bread and now an Apple Pie Cake.  Apple pie reminds me of Thanksgiving. Not only would my Mother always prepare a Pumpkin Pie, we also always had an Apple Pie. The kind with a crumb topping.  I always thought the crumb topping was the best part.

So, you can imagine, when I ran across a Martha Stewart recipe for an Apple Pie Cake that uses the crumb topping as the crust, too I could not resist.

Aside from the time it takes to peel and slice five pounds of apples this is a very simple recipe. And, the cake is quite stunning once removed from the spring form pan.  It does tend to fall apart a little bit when you cut into it but who cares? It is delicious!  Tastes like the Apple Pie I grew up with, but without the hassle of scratch made pie crust.

I am not sure if I am hosting or attending Thanksgiving dinner this year,but either way, this dessert will be on the table!

On a totally separate note- I will be joining my friend JL of JL Goes Vegan on her My Pantry Project. Look for future posts of recipes created with ingredients that are currently in my pantry (which overfloweth).  I am looking forward to using up many of the things I have purchased with good intentions, things that I bought for a recipe and used once or things that have just been in there too long! Stay tuned, more to come on that.

In the meantime, enjoy some of this Apple Pie Cake!

Apple Pie Cake

5 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 pound cold vegan butter cut into pieces
5 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the sliced apples in a bowl with the lemon juice and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to coat. Set aside.

In a bowl mix the flour, brown sugar and the rest of the cinnamon.  Cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter until the mixture forms pea sized crumbs.

Place 2/3 of the mixture in the bottom of a 9" spring form pan pressing to down into the bottom and 1" up the sides.

Pour off any accumulated liquid from the apples and then layer the apples into the spring form pan. Press them down a bit.  They will be slightly higher than the rim of the pan.

Top  the apples with the rest of the sugar, cinnamon and butter mixture.

Put into the oven on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan and allow to cool fully.
When fully cooled release the spring and remove the ring from the spring form pan.

Dust with confectioners sugar if desired before serving.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mac n'....

Warning! Warning! This is not low fat or low calorie!  If you are a member of the vegan police you should probably stop reading now. The dish is full of creamy, fatty, glutinous goodness and I don't feel even the least bit guilty about making it or eating it.

With fall in the air it feels like time to start cooking with squash and pumpkin. It's time to gather the family around the dinner table for meals consisting of comfort foods and this fits bill perfectly for both if you ask me.

While would be an awesome side for a larger meal; good enough for even Thanksgiving dinner it also stands on its own well. Add a small salad and you are all set.

There are lots of vegan "Mac and Cheese" recipes out there. While this may look like Mac and Cheese this really isn't Mac and Cheese and its not even trying to be Mac and Cheese. It stands on its own quite well so I am going to simply call it "Mac n'"....

I made a very large batch of the sauce and used half of it for the dish and froze the other half for another time. If you want to create just enough sauce without having leftover sauce you may halve the recipe.  Alternatively, you could double the pasta and make two, freezing one for a rainy day.

Mac n'....

40 oz butternut squash chunks (I bought 2 20 oz packages cleaned and precut from Wegman's)
1 red bliss potato, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cans full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
4 tbsp vegan butter 
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and white pepper to taste
3 cups pasta, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large pot add the coconut milk and butternut squash and potato chunks. Season liberally with salt and white pepper.  Cover and simmer for about twenty minutes until very tender.

Transfer the mixture to high powered blender. Add the cashews and vegan butter and blend until very smooth. (Note: I had to do this in two batches).

Return the mixture to the pot and add the garlic and onion powder.  Re-season with salt and white pepper as needed.  Continue to simmer for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare a casserole dish by spraying it with cooking oil.  Add the cooked pasta to the dish and half the sauce mixture. Stir well and put into the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

*If desired you may top the casserole with melted vegan butter and breadcrumb mixture before baking. I chose not to do this because my kids do not care for the breadcrumb topping.