Monday, October 29, 2007

Boooooo Food!

It’s not scary. It’s orange and black.

Sweet Potato Tarts with Herbed Cream Cheese

I made a one-crust pie dough and cut it to fit three mini tart pans (there was enough dough for four tarts). The tart shells were blind baked. In the meantime, I made the cream cheez and steamed one large sweet potato. The tarts were spread with the cream cheez, then filled with the potato chunks. Very nice, but as I am not a fancy girl, I preferred them without the tart shells.

Herbed Cream Cheez

1 cup silken firm tofu
¼ cup raw cashews
1 ½ t. tamari
1 ½ t. cider vinegar
1 t. agave
½ t. nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
½ t. each dried parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper

First grind the cashews in your food processor or blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

4 cups cooked black beans
1 cup canned or pureed fresh pumpkin
½ large onion, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 cups vegetable stock
1 T. olive oil
1 T. cumin
½ t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger or 2 t. freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. red wine vinegar

Cook the onions in the oil until soft. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, beans, pumpkin, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Puree half the soup. Serve warm.

This recipe makes a big pot of soup, but soup always tastes better the next day, so it’s good to make plenty. It’s healthy and low fat, but rich and nicely spiced, and perfect for a cool evening. I served it with rice, tortilla chips, and chopped fresh tomatoes, and it was so yummy.

Black Rice

Brown rice cooked in the broth from the black beans I made for the soup. I recently learned this is the authentic way to cook Mexican rice.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas cut into sixths, then brush with canola oil seasoned with chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, and salt. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, turning once after 8 minutes.

Chase started eating these before dinner, so there weren’t many left for soup.

Let me take a food break now and show you this giant spider…

… that spun this magnificent 3 foot diameter web on my front porch.

I was hoping she would stay for the trick-or-treaters, but she and her web are now gone.

Back to the food.

Chickpea, Carrot, and Black Olive Salad

Mix together in a large bowl:
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup grated carrots
¼ to ½ cup chopped olives, depending on your taste
2 green onions, whites and greens thinly sliced
¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)

Make the dressing. Mix together in a small bowl:
1 clove crushed garlic
juice of one lemon
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
½ t. red chili flakes
1 t. agave
salt and pepper to taste

Slowly add in 2 T. olive oil. Pour over salad and mix. Chill several hours before serving.

I planned to make this a cauliflower salad, since this meal was already pretty heavy. But I didn’t find any cauliflower that wasn’t ugly and expensive, so I used the chickpeas. The salad went along very nicely with the soup and was actually our favorite dish. Chase kept saying how “fresh” it tasted. I don’t know if it was the homemade chickpeas or the lemon; I’m just glad it was so good!

Chase decorated our table. We pretended it was really cold out and enjoyed our meal.

At this point we are full of beans, but we still made room for dessert.

Is dessert black or orange? This was a tough decision, but I went with black.

Chocolate Brownies from The Joy of Vegan Baking

I knew this brownie recipe was a winner when I took the brownies out of the oven and actually saw more brownies than pan. These are fudgy, but didn’t really “wow” me with flavor. Maybe a couple of tablespoons of strong coffee would help bring out the chocolate flavor. Or maybe using half brown sugar instead of all white sugar. Oh we still ate them! I served them as Halloween cutouts with vanilla Rice Dream on the side. Here’s my bat brownie. It was a little too fudgy for cookie cutters, but see how tall it is?

Chase had fun decorating his plate, although he had to stop before the witch completely melted.

I also made “Super Charge Me Cookies” from ED&BV. They are waaaaaay better than the brownies – soft yet dense, and full of delicious flavor, and no sugar. Dreena rules!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Diner Style Dinner and a Fancy Dessert

Sunday dinner was a down home diner style meal. I made Individual Bean Loaves using a recipe very similar to Laura’s Grillable Black Bean Patties. I haven’t had a lot of success with bean loaves, so I thought the smaller size would cook better, that is not fall apart and be mushy.

I’ve had a strange craving all week for green beans and onion rings. I’ve never craved o-rings before and haven’t had them in forever, and I've never even made them before, but it seemed like a combination I needed to prepare. I found a recipe for beer battered onion rings that are fried briefly in a tiny bit of oil, then baked in a hot oven until crispy. These did indeed turn out crispy and delicious. After Chase had a bite of the beans and rings, he said “This tastes like something I’ve had before.” Yep, green bean casserole without the cream of mushroom soup, and no canned onion rings. Here’s the nice firm loaf with the green beans.

I was looking for a new way with broccoli and figured I would take my turn at healthifying a Paula Deen recipe. I saw her recipe for Broccoli Salad which includes, along with a head of broccoli and a half cup of tomatoes, 6-8 slices of bacon, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 8 ounces of cheddar cheese, and a half cup of raisins. I totaled up the calories and it came to over 3400 for the whole recipe. The recipe serves 6. That’s about 565 calories per serving!

My Healthy Broccoli Salad:

1 head broccoli, chopped
1 T. vegan bacon bits
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup craisins
2 T. vegan mayonnaise
1 t. cider vinegar
½ cup chopped tomato
salt and pepper

Mix together the broccoli, bacon bits, onion, and craisins in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayo, vinegar, tomato, and seasoning. Mix the mayo into the broccoli.

We sprinkled on some of Crystal’s Vegan Parmesan. (It’s 44 calories per tablespoon and it is great!)

My Healthy Broccoli Salad is less than 100 calories per serving, so we had two servings! Actually Chase went nuts for it and there were no leftovers. He also declared Crystal’s Parmesan the only cheese we ever need. Now this plate with the salad looks perfectly healthy.

I’ve been making mayonnaise using the Vegan World Fusion recipe, which you can find here. I have never liked mayonnaise, and I really really don’t like any of the soy versions, but I think this one tastes fabulous. It’s a little sweet and I like to add a clove of garlic to it. It whips up super quick in the blender. If you make it, remember to keep your blender on low and for some reason, it only turns out right if you use low fat soymilk and make it during daylight. I swear I tried to make it twice at night using almond milk and it just wouldn’t get thick. Here’s a shot right out of the blender. It could have posed on that spoon forever it was so thick.

Fearing failure of my fancy dessert, I made Celine’s Oatmeal Cookies. I used brown rice flour instead of whole wheat since that’s all I had. They are fabulous! They are really oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I made them into eight cookies. Celine made her batter into three cookies. They must have been monsters!

Okay, now for the fancy dessert that is actually easy to make. First make Almond Cookie Baskets. This is an accidentally vegan recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. The baskets will keep in an airtight container for a week.

¼ cup brown sugar
3 T. melted margarine
2 T. light corn syrup
1/3 cup ground almonds
¼ cup AP flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and oil the paper. Have 6 to 8 six ounce ramekins on hand.

Stir together the wet ingredients, then add the dry until combined.

Baking only 3 at the time, drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet and spread to about 3 inches in diameter. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until bubbly and deep golden brown. Here’s how they look just out of the oven. Mine kinda ran together.

Let stand for a minute or 2 until soft but still pliable. Quickly remove the cookies to the ramekins and shape into baskets. Cool completely in the ramekins. Here’s a 1 minute how-to camera/video clip (not professional quality!).

When cool, fill with your favorite ice cream and add a chocolate heart garnish before serving your loved one.

Make one for yourself with extra chocolate sauce.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pretty Bread

This is really easy to do. I used fresh chives, parsley, and sage to decorate my tomato bread, which I’m still trying to perfect.

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water nearby.

2. Put your herbs into the boiling water for just a few seconds, then scoop them out and put them into the ice water. Lay them out on towels and pat them dry. The parsley was a little difficult to unwrinkle completely.

3. Make an “egg” wash by mixing 1 tablespoon soymilk powder with 2 tablespoons water.

4. Just before your bread is ready to bake, brush on the wash, arrange your herbs, then apply another wash.

5. Bake and enjoy!

I hope to get my tomato bread recipe like I want it, then make this red and green bread for Christmas gifts.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Diann made breakfast? Yes, but served it for dinner. I know you guys do breakfasts all the time so most of this post will be old news to you, but I did come up with a few new twists.

This dinner was Chase’s idea after I made him Breakfast Pie earlier this week. I made a shredded potato and onion crust.

I prebaked the crust to get the potatoes as crispy as possible, then filled it with spicy sausage crumbles and cream cheez, and topped it with a sliced tomato.

Chase really loved it, and then asked me to do a whole breakfast for dinner – tofu scramble, potatoes, biscuits and gravy. My issue with breakfast, besides generally not being a fan, is that the food is not pretty (see above pie!). Sure muffins and pancakes are pretty, but scrambles and hash, not so much. And it’s really difficult to get everything to come out hot. So my plan was to make as much as possible ahead of time that could be easily reheated.

On the menu was Migas Casserole, Chicago Diner Hash, LDV biscuits and VWAV Chickpea Gravy, VWAV Tempeh Bacon, broccoli, homemade black beans, Gingerbread Waffles, and fresh fruit salad. Casserole, beans, gravy, and fruit salad I made ahead.

Migas Casserole turned out so good! Migas are the favorite scramble around these parts. Texmex style migas must include onions, tortilla strips, and peppers. For my casserole, I used LDV’s BLT Brunch Casserole as a go by. I made the cheez sauce from that recipe. I made my migas by scrambling extra firm tofu, onions, tortillas strips, and medium hot salsa. To make the casserole, first I layered tortillas in the bottom of oiled dish.

I topped with half the cheez sauce.

Added all the migas, then some chopped fresh tomato.

Then added the rest of the cheez sauce and finished with chopped green onions.

This is really already cooked so it just needs to be heated in the oven before serving. The cheez sauce was mildly flavored and perfect to hold the casserole together – very yummy.

The chickpea gravy was great over LDV’s giant biscuits, which I opted to bake in muffin tins.

Chase and I made the bacon and the hash while the biscuits baked and the casserole heated. The bacon was okay. The Chicago Diner Hash was outstanding. It’s made with chopped baked potatoes, onions, and green peppers. We left the skins on the potatoes. Not a pretty picture, but really good stuff.

We heated up the gravy and beans, steamed some broccoli, and put everything on the table.

Chase’s plate – he was so happy.

My plate. I had to partake of just a little soy and wheat.

For dessert, waffles of course! I found a Belgian waffle maker in the top of my coat closet. Apparently I had used it before, but I can’t remember doing so. One thing I had to come up with was something besides pancake syrup to top the waffles with because Chase hates it. I figured I would have to do fruit and powdered sugar. I did make a fruit salad with what I had on hand – fresh mango, orange, apple, banana, and canned pineapple.

I thought about Isa’s banana waffles and adding peanut butter to the syrup, but then I ran across a recipe for apple cider sauce – 2 cups of apple cider reduced to 1 cup, a little cornstarch slurry, and a tablespoon of EB. Oh, wow, this is so delicious! I used the VWAV Ginger Pear Waffles recipe, substituting apple for the pear, and using lots of gingerbread spices to make Gingerbread Waffles with Cider Sauce and fresh fruit.

I think my waffles turned out right. They tasted fantastic and the leftovers Chase can pop in the toaster. Breakfast is not so bad after all!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fun Foods for Dinner

Finally some inspired cooking. Warning: Most of these dishes are not gluten free, low fat, or low calorie, but they are mighty tasty!

Falafel Pops

Deep Fried Falafel served with Vive Creamy Hummus.

Crispy Black Bean Raviolis

Spicy mashed black beans in wonton wrappers, boiled, then breaded in panko and nooch, and baked until crispy. O…M…G…! This is not the slimy ravioli I remember eating. This is not even pasta. This is heaven. These were fun to make and eat like chips, and also nice with a little salsa on top. Here’s the steps and you can find my general instructions here.

Maple Glazed Tofu and Sweet Potato

Roasted glazed tofu cutlets, topped with sweet potato stars, caramelized balsamic onions, and fresh chives. Chase loved this. I had mine sans tofu – gluten free, low fat sweet potato love.

Coconut Crepes with Lentil Filling

Crepes made with coconut milk, filled with lentils, onions, carrots, tomatoes, coconut milk, and Indian spices. Spicy, hearty, and satisfying. I would make this again on a cold night (hopefully not any time soon), add winter squash to the filling, and top with Celine’s Creamy Pumpkin Almond Sauce for the ultimate in warmth and comfort.

Popcorn Bread

A yeast bread made with popcorn “flour.” I made mine with the food processor and baked it in the oven, but you can find the bread machine recipe here. It smells like popcorn, although it doesn’t taste too much like it. But you may get the sudden urge to pop in a movie while eating it.

Here’s one of Chase’s dinner plates.

Here’s my plate. I had half a crepe with lots of lentils, and of course we both ate broccoli.

Peanut Butter Mousse Layer Pie

An oreo cookie crust, a layer of Peanut Butter Mousse (from More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts), a layer of vanilla pudding (this time I cooked it long enough!) and topped with more mousse and peanuts.
Crust with mousse.

The finished pie.

A slice.

I’ve changed my mind. The crispy ravioli was merely a pleasant dream. This pie is heaven.