Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Years Eve Unmixed Trail Mix Tray

Healthy New Years Eve 006The year 2014 is coming to a close. It’s been a hectic holiday season and we’re looking forward to a quiet New Year celebration with two very good friends. No party hats, no noisemakers, no banging pots at midnight. Just a nice dinner (Mushroom Lentil Loaf for the plant-eaters), a decadent dessert (Black Forest Chocolate Mousse Cake for everyone) and a few of Bruce’s kick-ass cocktails. He served up a Pomegranate Martini for me this weekend that was quite tasty. Funny thing is that since I adopted a plant-based diet, alcohol hits me like a truck. I’m thinking that for New Years Eve I’m gonna need something to snack on to complement a cocktail (or two) so I can stay up to see the ball drop. Some of my favorite cocktails include Cosmopolitans, Chocolate Martinis and now the Pomegranate Martini. I thought it would be nice to pair these cocktails with snacks that are more like dessert, yet still healthy.  I put together an Unmixed Trail Mix Tray that has assorted mason jars filled with dark chocolate, unsalted cashews and almonds, dried mango and pineapple, raisins and coconut. Your guests get to select whatever tidbit they like. The possibilities are endless. You can use beer mugs, pottery or elegant glassware for the containers and fill them with dried cherries, bananas, cranberries, figs, dates, dark chocolate-covered nuts or raisins, etc. You can use lobster picks, bamboo skewers or fondue forks for the dried fruit. Measuring spoons, coffee scoops or fancy sugar spoons can be used to scoop out nuts and raisins.Well, this isn’t exactly a recipe, so I’ll give you one for a Pomegranate Martini. So don’t wait until January 1st to start eating healthy. Why not start a day early? Best wishes for the healthiest and happiest New Year ever. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pomegranate Martini

2 parts vodka

1 part Gran Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec

3 parts pomegranate juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Pour vodka, Gran Marnier and pomegranate juice over ice. Shake and strain into martini glass. Number of servings depends on the size of your glass.





29 Dec 2014

Black Forest Chocolate Mousse Cake

Black Forest Chocolate MousseJust in time for Christmas . . . and if you don’t have time this week with all that last-minute shopping going on, then definitely make this for your New Year celebration. This recipe was inspired by a few of my favorite things. One: A Black Forest Brownie Torte that I found on in my pre-vegan days. Two: Chocolate Almond Midnight from the Millennium Restaurant cookbook. Three: My love of chocolate, cherries and a culinary challenge. (We watched The Sound of Music this weekend, hence the reference to my “favorite things.” If you’re not in the Christmas spirit, just watch this musical! It has nothing to do with Christmas, but it’s always on at this time of year.)  Anyway, back to the recipe. The mousse has a cherry puree made with dried cherries and Kirshwasser (cherry brandy). If you can’t find the Kirshwasser or don’t want to go the extra cost, any cherry brandy will do. The cherry puree is blended into a frenzy along with silken tofu and melted chocolate, poured over a date-hazelnut crust and baked. I doubled the recipe for the cherry puree to experiment with in a Black Forest Brownie recipe. Look for that recipe in an upcoming post, but for now here’s my Black Forest Mousse Cake. Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Black Forest Mousse Cake

¼ cups rolled oats
½ cup pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts (2 ounces)
5 pitted dates (2½ ounces)
1½ tablespoons non-dairy milk

1 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Kirsch (clear cherry brandy)
3 tablespoons cherry preserves

16 ounces nondairy dark chocolate
2 boxes (12.3 ounce size) extra-firm low-fat silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-diameter springform pan with non-stick spray. Place pan on baking sheet.

Place the oats, nuts and  in a food processor and blend until ground, about 30 to 40 seconds. Add the chopped dates and blend for about 1 minute, until the mixture starts to clump slightly. Add the non-dairy milk a little at a time, and blend until the mixture balls up like dough. Press into bottom of pan. Bake until light brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven.

Combine cherries and 1/4 cup water in small saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until liquid almost evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add Kirsch and boil 1 minute. Standing back, carefully ignite Kirsch. When flames subside, mix in preserves. Cook until preserves boil and thicken, about 3 minutes. When cool, puree using an immersion blender, a container blender or small food processor. Set aside.

In a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate chips. In a blender or food processor, combine the cherries, silken tofu, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Process, then add the melted chocolate and blend smoothly for 2 minutes, or until very smooth and completely combined.

Kirsh & CherriesCherries & KirshCupcakes, Black Forest Mousse 033






Lightly coat the sides of the cake pan above the prebaked crust with more non-stick spray. Pour the mousse mixture into the pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a paring knife around the inside of the pan. Let the cake cool to the touch, refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Unmold just before serving.

23 Dec 2014

Easy Pea-sy

Peas and OnionsPeas and Onions. That’s it! Here’s a simple side dish that will add an elegant touch to your holiday meal. This is one of those “throw-together” recipes that Grandma and Mom always made. And unlike some green bean casserole, this recipe won’t clog your arteries nor hog up precious oven space. Simply saute onions in a little bit of oil or water, add a bag of frozen peas, water, salt and pepper and simmer . What’s great about this recipe is that it can complement an entree (like Mushroom Lentil Loaf) or be the star of an entree when mixed with rice or pasta. So, why not throw together some Peas and Onions tonight? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Peas and Onions

  • olive oil or water
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. bag of frozen peas
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil or water in a saucepan; add onions and saute until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add peas and additional water. Cover and simmer until peas are cooked, adding water as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Peas and Onions 003 Peas and Onions 005

17 Dec 2014

Mushroom Lentil Loaf with Mushroom Gravy

Mushroom Lentil LoafI’ve been cooking up this Mushroom Lentil Loaf in my head for weeks. I wanted to develop something special to make as a holiday meal or a Sunday dinner. It  came out so delicious, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. I started off with a basic lentil loaf recipe that’s made its appearance on several vegan web-sites. I swapped out the sweet apples, raisins and BBQ-ish sauce that seem to be in quite a few of those recipes and used cremini mushrooms instead. I topped it off with a mushroom gravy recipe from The Vegan Table. Oh! My! God! This came out great. The flavor is reminiscent of Salisbury Steak or meatloaf with brown gravy. Serve it with baked potatoes, steamed asparagus and glazed buttercup squash for a delightful, elegant meal. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Lentil Loaf
Yield: 1 large loaf

1 cup uncooked lentils
1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base (optional)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. olive oil (or saute using water)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325F. Rinse and strain lentils. Place lentils into pot along with 3 cups of water and No Beef base (or veg broth). Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Stir frequently, adding water if needed. The goal is to over-cook the lentils slightly. Place in large mixing bowl and mash lentils slightly.

Toast walnuts at 325F for about 8-10 minutes. (Toasting the walnuts is optional) Set aside. Increase oven temp to 350F.

Whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic until golden. Add mushrooms and thyme and saute until browned and most of the liquid is released. Add to lentils in mixing bowl.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the diced celery and shredded carrot. Saute for about 5 minutes more. Add to mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Lightly coat a loaf pan with oil or non-stick spray. Press mixture firmly into pan. Cover with aluminum and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 10 to 20 minutes. Edges will be lightly brown. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cutting board. Slice into 1-1/2 to 2 inch slices. Spoon mushroom gravy over slices.

Golden Mushroom Gravy

  1. 1 yellow onion, chopped
    1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
    3 tablespoons flour (or other thickener)
    2 cups vegetable stock
  2. 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    pepper, to taste

Heat a tablespoon of water in non-stick skillet and saute onion and mushrooms over high heat until light brown and translucent, stirring often. Allow the mushrooms to release their liquid to prevent sticking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, stock, soy sauce, thyme and pepper. Add to skillet and cook over medium heat until thickened. If you’d like a smooth gravy, puree in a blender until smooth.



13 Dec 2014

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Moroccan Chick Pea Stew 005What’s to love about Winter? Stew, of course. There’s nothing better than a simmering pot of stew on a cold, winter day.  In my pre-Vegicurious days, I made a Moroccan Beef Stew that was one our favorite meals. It had a sultry mix of raisins, Kalamata olives, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro and lemon zest. Not one to have to give up one of her favorite things, I converted the recipe by replacing the beef with chickpeas. In order to capture that “beefy” flavor, I use Better Than Bouillon No Beef base. If I have time, I  like to soak and cook dry chickpeas, but you can always used canned chickpeas. I like to ladle the stew over Israeli couscous (aka “pearl” couscous). If you can’t find Israeli couscous, look for Acini Pepe in the pasta aisle.  If you’re sensitive to gluten, try serving the stew over rice. Either way, you’ll want something to soak up all that goodness. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

½ lb. dried chick peas, soaked and cooked (or 2 cans)
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ can tomato paste
1 to 2 tsp. Better Than Bullion No Beef Base
½ cup raisins
½ cup kalamata olives, halved
lemon zest

Sauté onion, carrots and garlic in non-stick skillet, adding water to prevent sticking. Add cumin and cinnamon and cook until aromatic. Add tomato paste, chick peas, bullion, raisins, olives and enough water to cover. Cover and simmer until sauce is thickened. Add lemon zest and cilantro before serving.

Serve over Israeli couscous or rice.

06 Dec 2014

Warm Apple Crisp

apple crisp 012Rainy Days and Mondays always get me. . .  baking! Well, it’s Monday and it’s raining in Delaware, but I won’t let that get me down. I’ve been wanting to make an apple crisp with some Granny Smith apples we picked a few weeks ago and today was the perfect day for that. I simply tossed the apple slices with brown sugar, cinnamon and flour (use corn starch for gluten-free) then topped it off with a topping that’s similar to granola, only lower in fat and sugar. There’s no better aromatherapy than the smell of apples and cinnamon wafting through the house. Enjoy it for breakfast or as a dessert with a nice cup of coffee. Mmmmmm. Here’s the recipe, I hope you try it. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Apple Crisp

½ cup oat flour
¼ cup almond meal
¼ cup oatmeal
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon flour or corn starch
Cinnamon to taste

2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup

8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir almond butter and maple syrup together, then combine with dry ingredients.

Place sliced apples in large baking dish (9 x 11). Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake until apples start to soften and release their juices. This could take from 20 to 45 minutes depending on how thick you slice the apples. Remove cover and sprinkle oatmeal mixture on top. Increase temperature to 425 degrees and continue baking until apples are cooked and topping is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.




02 Dec 2014

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