Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Southern Suppa

Here you go, some old time Southern favorite recipes done the vegan way.

Kum-Bak Dressing

This is the delicious blend of Ranch and Thousand Island dressings. A little sweet, a little spicy, and creamy smooth fabulous. Pour it over green salads. Spoon it over bitter greens, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and whatever else you can think of. This retro recipe needs to make a kum-bak!

Makes a generous cup.

1 cup vegan sour cream
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup ketchup
1 T. sugar
1 T. water
1 t. vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 t. spicy mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
2 t. finely minced onion
2 drops Tabasco
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper

Mix all ingredients with a whisk. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Deluxe Ranch Beans

A spicy version of baked beans, this classic can be put together a day ahead, then baked and served warm to the table. Adjust the amount of chili powder to suit your taste.

Serves 6

1 T. canola oil
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 ounces (6 T.) tomato paste
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel (tomatoes with green chilis)
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. vegan Worstershire sauce
2 T. molasses
1 t. salt
½ t. black pepper
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup chickpeas
3 cups pinto beans, canned (drained and rinsed) or homemade from 1-1/2 cups dried
¼ cup vegan cheddar or Jack cheese, finely chopped or shredded

Heat oil in medium skillet and sauté onion, green pepper, and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add in tomato paste, Ro-Tel, chili powder, cumin, Worstershire sauce, molasses, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in corn, chickpeas, and beans and mix well. Put into a 2 quart casserole dish. You can refrigerate at this point if you want. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Stir in cheese until melted. Serve immediately.

Broccoli and Corn Pudding

A quick and easy recipe for a true classic.

Serves 6

2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed broccoli florets
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 lemon rind, grated
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coconut milk (I used lite)
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup AP flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 pan. Arrange broccoli florets at either end and corn in the center. Sprinkle the lemon rind over the broccoli and the pepper over the corn.

Mix together the milk, cornstarch, and flour. (Add in 1 T. of melted margarine or canola oil if you like – I didn’t use it.) Pour over the veggies. Bake for 40 minutes or until pudding is set and tester comes out clean.

Obviously I used too large of a dish or should have doubled my pudding. I also used the broccoli stalks, because I love them, but they did not work here. But other than those two boo-boos, this stuff was surprisingly incredibly yummy! Next time I will put a ring of broccoli around a pie plate with corn in the center so each slice can have broccoli and corn. (My next veggie pie!) It was so delightful to taste the lemony broccoli against the peppery corn. The seemingly bland pudding was perfect. And the individual slices looked very nice on the plate.

My suppa plate was filled with Ranch Beans, Broccoli and Corn Pudding, a Green Salad with Kum-Bak Dressing, and some boiled kohlrabi (tastes like potatoes) topped with Eggplant Bacon. Do not make eggplant bacon – blech!

Gotta have dessert. Gotta have that Southern favorite, Strawberry Shortcake.

If you saw my previous posts you will remember I had some gorgeous strawberries. I swear these photos have not been enhanced. These strawberries were amaaaaazing!

Strawberry Shortcake

For the Strawberries:
Wash, dry, and slice your berries. In a glass bowl, mix together 1 T. sugar, ½ t. vanilla extract, and 2 T. grand marnier, brandy, or other boozy substance. Mix in the berries and let macerate 20 to 30 minutes.

For the Shortcake:
1 c. AP flour
½ t. salt
1 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
3 T. shortening
1/3 cup cold nondairy milk
1 t. vanilla extract
extra sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, 1 T. sugar, and baking powder. Cut in shortening until it is broken into pea-sized pieces. Add milk and vanilla, and stir with a fork to combine. Form into a ball with your floured hands. Roll out on a floured surface into an 8-inch circle about a ½ inch thick. Cut out 8 to 10 2-inch circles. Place cakes onto a parchment lined baking sheet with the sides touching. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until browned, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To serve, split shortcakes (or use two!) and place bottom half on a plate. Top with strawberries, then top with the top half of the shortcake. Top with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt and garnish with a berry. Heavenly.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of the South. Please let me know if you try any of the recipes!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Cheesecake Challenge!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was to make a cheesecake. We were given a basic recipe and told to play with it, make it beautiful, and of course incorporate any changes for dietary needs. A good vegan cheesecake just has to have tofu, silken or cream cheese style, so I knew I wouldn’t be eating more than a bite or two. (I know I could have made a raw cheesecake, but this IS a BAKING challenge.) Believe me, my imagination went into overtime for all the flavor varieties to make a truly decadent cheesecake. Have you seen fondant covered wedding cheesecakes?!!!

My son and I are trying these days to eat light and grain free, making the majority of our diet fruits and vegetables. Money is tight, and since I wouldn’t be eating this cake, I made it specially for Chase. So here is my very colorful, delicious, and healthy cheesecake, light on crust and cheesy filling, and heavy on the fruit topping.

I began with a gluten free crust using our favorite crumb crust, the one used in Vive’s Pineapple Bars. I pressed it into an 8-1/2 inch springform pan sprayed with cooking spray.

I was thrilled to find this recipe for Vegan Tropical Cheesecake. It has banana and pineapple in the filling! Here is my adapted version of the filling:

1 box (12 oz) lite firm silken tofu
½ cup tofutti cream cheese
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in its own juice
1 medium banana, peeled
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 tbsp cornstarch

Put everything but the cornstarch into a food processor and process until smooth. Add in the cornstarch and continue blending until completely smooth. Pour the filling over the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until edges are browned and center is set.

For my fruit-full topping, I made a strawberry puree from 4 cups of fresh berries and cooked it with a little cornstarch and sugar, then spread it all over the top of the cake. I topped the puree with starfruit.

Next I added sliced kiwi and Chase’s current fruit obsession, mango, just diced and piled in the middle.

I unmolded it onto a platter full of juicy, delicious starfruit.

And finally, plated with a nice slice of starfruit.

This cheesecake was so light and fruity, truly an incredibly delicious, guilt-free treat. As a testament to its goodness, I kept a piece to photograph, then gave the rest of it to my skinny son. He gave one piece to his girlfriend, then ate all the rest of it in one sitting!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Raw Food Fun

I have more food in my house than I know what to do with. I got my staples from the neighborhood grocer, went to the farmers market, got a few things at Whole Foods, and also got my first CSA box of the season.

My box was full of arugula, beets, carrots, dill, garlic, garlic scapes, onions, radish, Swiss chard. I also got a huge head of lettuce.

And beautiful strawberries!

From the farmers market I got…

… broccoli, purple kohlrabi, spring onion, sunflower sprouts, and amaranth greens. Have you tried amaranth greens?

They are not very tender, but I like the flavor. I would liken it to a mild arugula. They are wonderful in salad. The vendor also told me they should be enjoyed juiced.

Now, about those beets. Beets are just not something I enjoy, unless I don’t know I’m eating beets, like when they’re pickled. I don’t like them boiled or roasted, so I decided to try them raw!

This beautiful dip is made from about a cup of nuts (almonds, cashews, and pine nuts) and equal parts of beets, red pepper, carrots, daikon, and cauliflower. It’s seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, black pepper, and dill. I really like the flavor combination of beets with daikon. In fact, I don’t think I would like this dip without the daikon. And now I’ve got an idea for a recipe to use up some more of those beets with the radishes!

Since I had the food processor and the cauliflower out and was getting into the raw thing, I made up a batch of raw rice.

This is Sesame Raisin Cauliflower Rice, flavored with tahini and a good amount of cilantro. It’s different, but good. This recipe and the beet dip are available from the March edition of Vegan Culinary Experience, which if you don’t already subscribe to, you should. There are LOADS of fabulous recipes, tips, and information and it’s free. Also from this edition is the Eggplant Bacon, which I’ve seen on a few blogs and which I have marinating now. Eggplant is another veggie foe I have to disguise its taste to enjoy. I’ll report back later on how it turns out.

Finally, let me tell you about a couple of raw treats I’ve enjoyed. Gopal’s is a local company started by someone who came from the Bliss Bar company. I’ve never had a Bliss Bar, but supposedly it’s good stuff. Gopal’s has a wonderful website with TONS of organic raw bars, cookies, cheese, wraps, and brownies. I recently tried a sweet and a savory one. Until I tried these, I never liked any raw bars. They just taste too raw. This sweet treat was crispy and very flavorful, and I wish I had bought some other varieties to try.

This savory treat was a “store favorite.” It looked interesting.

There are two wraps in a package that look like this:

It was very unique and very good. It was almost like jerky.

It is simply flavored nuts wrapped in nori, and I don’t see why you couldn’t come up with your own recipe for this, if you want some raw jerky. By the way, the website says “gopal” means “friend of the cow.” Awwwww….

I know Chase has to work late and can’t come to dinner tonight, but I’m cooking anyway. I may invite someone else for dinner, or just have Chase over for leftovers later in the week. Stay tuned for a Southern Supper.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Not a Blah-becue

There was a radio ad running this week that said something like “Was your last grilled dinner a bore-becue? Did you serve blah-becue?” I knew I would be grilling on Sunday and I felt the pressure! Chase and I are eating grainfree and concentrating our meals on veggies, fruits, and beans. We just feel better without grains, plus we can lighten up a bit for the summer. I think it’s super healthy and actually quite colorful and never blah. Anyway….

After much needed rain most of last week, the weather teams promised Sunday would be beautiful. Indeed, it was a glorious day. I got out for some exercise and marveled that there was not a cloud in the sky and all the trees were finally green.

A butterfly landed on me before I went inside.

Now, for some very un-boring food! All great barbecues need a great sauce. While any grocery store here has at least 60 feet of shelf space devoted to barbecue sauce, the best is always homemade. I decided to make Vcon Backyard BBQ Sauce.

Most of the sauce was used for the BBQ Blackeyed Peas and Collards. I had some beautiful local collards, but I chose not to make rolls. I also used eggplant instead of mushrooms. I can’t imagine this dish would be any more delicious in rolled form. It was outstanding.

I put together some skewers for the grill. I marinated baked tofu for Chase, along with red peppers, purple onions, zucchini, and mushrooms for me. This marinade is ½ cup broth, 2 T. soy sauce, 1 T. olive oil, 1 T. red wine vinegar, and 1 clove minced garlic.

Here are Chase’s skewers ready for the grill. I gave them a little brushing of BBQ sauce.

And done.

Here are my mushroomy skewers done.

Another side dish to go with this meal was Crispy Baked Cabbage Wedges. I’ve made them before, but this time I sliced them extra thin. I sprayed them with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

I made a tiny bit of mustard-soygurt-fresh dill dressing for them. These were so good. The cabbage wedges were still firm and the crispy edges were so tasty. If you love cabbage, I recommend this method.

Of course Chase had to stay late at work and couldn’t come for dinner. So I packed up his skewers, the collards, half the cabbage, mustard sauce, and BBQ sauce and took it to his apartment so he would have dinner when he got home. Then I came back home and decided some mashed sweet potatoes would be perfect with the crispy cabbage. I boiled and mashed myself a potato and reheated my dinner. Here’s my big, lonely, but not a blah-becue plate.

You probably thought there wouldn’t be dessert, but alas, grainfree baking was accomplished! Chickpea Blondies, courtesy of Celine. Not a speck of flour. I made them entirely with flaxseeds. I used apricot jam (her recipe used strawberry jam), I added 2 T. of coconut flour to help it bind, and I just couldn’t resist sprinkling some chocolate chips on top. I can’t tell you how much I love these, except too much, and as much as I love Celine and her always fabulous recipes.

Chase called me as he was eating his dinner. He loved everything, especially the homemade sauce. Hooray for springtime and not boring BBQs!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Cooking, Just Looking

I won’t wah-wah about not cooking anything all week, but since I didn’t I thought I would give you some recipes I want to try but haven’t yet made.

All of these recipes are from The Magnolia Collection, a 1985 cookbook from Alabama.

Mushroom and Onion Salad

Prepare at least 4 hours before serving.

1 pound fresh small mushrooms, washed and sliced in half
1 large purple onion, sliced in thin rings
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup vinegar
¼ cup water
1-1/2 t. salt
dash pepper
2 T. vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Drain before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Baby Buffins

(Buffins are biscuits made in muffin tins. Use vegan mayo and milk.)

1 c. flour
1-1/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
3 T. mayonnaise
½ c. milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and mayonnaise. Gradually stir in milk until just blended. Place into greased mini muffin pans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown.

(I thought these might be good to freeze and then use later as dumplings in a soup or stew. Hey, then you would have bufflings!??)

Pick-Up Sticks

3 T. margarine
2 t. soy sauce
2-4 drops Tabasco
1 (3 oz.) can chow mein noodles
¼ t. celery salt
pinch onion powder

Melt margarine in small sauce pan. Add soy sauce and Tabasco and mix well. Put noodles in a bowl and drizzle sauce over them. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with celery salt and onion powder; toss again. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 275 until lightly browned. (No time given. I’m guessing 20 to 30 minutes.)

There is also a recipe for Orange Honey Muffins. To make a vegan version, oil your muffin tins (no liners) and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice unpeeled oranges to lay in the bottom of the muffin cups, then spoon in 1 teaspoon of agave nectar. Make your favorite muffin batter (a cinnamon or cocoa would be nice) and put into cups. Bake 18 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing.

I wish I had a big bowl of Mushroom and Onion Salad right now….

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Impossible Veggie Pies

I’ve tried making two kinds of impossible vegan veggie pies. It may be impossible on two accounts, but I think this is a good idea, especially for us gluten free, soy free types. I’m not 100 percent happy with my recipe yet, but I’ll show you what I did, then I would love for any of you to give it a try yourself or give me some tips for gluten free, tofu free, savory pie perfection.

I found a new item at the grocery store.

I have no idea what *guarnicion* means, but these are tiny chopped mixed veggies. I normally wouldn’t go for such smallish cuts, but they are perfect for veggie pies. Oooh, they would be great for samosas too! (I found them at HEB.)

For the first pie I made, I seasoned the veggies then laid them in the bottom of a pie plate.

I topped them with a gluten free blend of rice flour, corn meal, and corn starch.

It was a little thick and I thought it may not sink in very well. Here’s the baked pie.

And here’s a slice.

I was right. The filling didn’t sink into the veggies very much, so it was really just a pie-shaped veggie casserole with a cornbread topping. It was good and I ate it, it just wasn’t what I was after.

The next pie I tried was Impossible Vegan Veggie Pumpkin Pie. This time I mixed a cup of pumpkin puree right into the seasoned veggies, along with a little gluten free flour. It turned out like this.

I actually forgot to put in the cornstarch, so even though it did set, it still wasn’t just what I wanted.

I liked this version much better, and I think if I remember the cornstarch next time it will be really good. I’m sort of burnt out on veggie pies now, but let me know if you want me to keep working on a recipe.

One simple simple and completely delicious thing I made was a salad dressing. I can’t remember where I read about it, probably on a raw site, but it said to chop some fresh mango and fresh tomato in a food processor for a tasty dressing. So I did and it was yummy! I put one mango and two romas in my mini food pro and had dressing in a jiffy.

I put tons of it on a big salad.

Nothing but mango and tomatoes. Try it, you’ll like it!

I’ve been enjoying reading about all of your holiday meals and treats. Our family always goes out for Easter dinner and we had a spectacular meal this year. If you’ll remember from my last post, I did make a treat for Chase and I asked you to guess what I had covered in chocolate.

Those of you who guessed chickpeas are almost right, and those of you who guessed roasted chickpeas are correct! Some of you called me crazy or weird, but they were really good and Chase loved them. I just roasted the heck out of plain out-of-a-can chickpeas, then left them in the oven until they were cool, and then dipped them in melted dark chocolate.

Melody, I love your idea of chocolate covered wasabi peas, and so would Chase. Jessy, I ADORE chocolate covered blueberries – kinda wish I would have done that, but then Chase wouldn’t have gotten very many. And Anonymous, I love your idea of spicing the chickpeas with cinnamon and chili before roasting! Thanks for playing along. You guys are the best!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Casseroles and Guess the Treat

Earlier this week the kitchen in my office smelled like Indian food. I had a huge craving and then an idea for dinner that night. I already had roasted eggplant slices I made the night before.

So my idea was to make an Indian lasagna using the eggplant for noodles. I made my filling, but then got too hungry and impatient. I sliced up the eggplant and added it to my filling and thus ended up with Eggplant Curry and satisfied my craving.

Still in the mood for a veggie lasagna, a few nights later I roasted some zucchini slices. I layered them in a bread pan.

Added a filling…

Topped with nooch and baked for 30 minutes.

Patience pays off and I had myself a delicious gluten free, veggie-full lasagna.

And now a game! Can you guess what I’ve dipped in chocolate for Chase’s yummy Easter treat?

Happy Easter, everyone!!!!