Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why Not?: Kookie Scones

Kookie Skone

Kookie Scone

I’ve been hankering for chocolate chip cookies lately, but just haven’t gotten around to making them. Why not? I really didn’t feel like dealing with the mixer. The bowls. The measuring cups and spoons. The baking sheets. The cooling racks. The clean-up. As I was thinking about what to have for breakfast this morning, I wondered if I could make a breakfast cookie that’s made using a minimal amount of ingredients, equipment and effort that would satisfy my chocolate chip cookie craving and still be considered “breakfast”. I was shooting for a cross between a cookie and a scone. I think I scored a bull’s eye. I ground whole oats, sugar and baking soda in a food processor, then added in the wet ingredients and folded in some chips and nuts before shaping and baking. What came out of the oven were two warm, chewy and slightly sweet Kookie Scones. And you know, I just couldn’t stop myself. Before I’d even gotten half way through one of these delights I was already thinking about some variations. What if . . . . I substituted the chocolate chips with raisins and added some cinnamon? And what about . . . nixing the chocolate chips for dried cranberries and using almonds, orange zest and ground nutmeg? What about . . .  Ripe Bananas? Applesauce? Pumpkin? Peanut Butter? Coconut? Why not, indeed! Well, I have a hobby for a few weeks. I enjoyed my Kookie Scone warm out of the oven, but these could be made ahead of time to add to a child’s, or your own, lunch box. Why not make a few Kookie Scones today? Why not? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Kookie Scones

1 Tablespoon flax meal
¼ cup non-dairy milk

1 cup whole oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
2 Tablespoons almond butter
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure non-dairy milk into liquid measuring cup. Add flax meal and set aside.

Place nuts in food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop the nuts. Remove from food processor and set aside. Place oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt into the food processor. Process on high until oats are finely ground. Add flax mixture, almond butter and extract and pulse to combine. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Using wet hands, divide dough in half and shape into two mounds about 1” thick and 4” in diameter. Place on parchment paper, then place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Bottoms of cookies should be light brown. Remove and serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations:

1. Replace chocolate chips with raisins and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.

2. Replace chocolate chips with dried cranberries and add 1 tablespoon of orange zest and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

 

26 Nov 2016

All the Trimmings: Black Friday Burger

Black Friday Burger

Black Friday Burger

The Thanksgiving dinner that I grew up with was always turkey and all of the trimmings, with the emphasis on the trimmings. With all of those yummy side dishes — stuffing, stuffed mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce — it’s a wonder that I had room for even one slice of turkey. And we always looked forward to the left overs that would last until Sunday. My Mom would make a sandwich with all the trimmings by layering turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and hot  gravy on a hard roll. Since there seems to be an over abundance of recipes for Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to make something to gobble up in the days following. Maybe you’d like to take advantage of Black Friday sales. Perhaps family will be visiting for the long weekend. And what about all those football games? With all the comings and goings, you might want to have something easy for your guests to re-heat and assemble on their own. You know, “make yourself at home and help yourself” . . . to a Black Friday Burger.

So, I thought about all the foods I love about Thanksgiving and squeezed them all into one neat little burger. We always made our bread stuffing with celery, onions and mushrooms. Sometimes we’d add pork sausage to the stuffing, so I included fennel and sage to capture that flavor. The white beans are used for substance and the sweet potato keeps everything together. At the end of the meal we would break out the nutcrackers and a basket of nuts and chestnuts, so I added some ground walnuts. I might try some roasted chestnuts in the next batch. Be sure to save some Shaved Brussel Sprouts, cranberry sauce and gravy from Thanksgiving Day to use to dress up the burgers. If you don’t want to fuss with the gravy, you can just use the Dij-ayo spread at the end of the recipe. This burger has it all. The stuffing. The sweet potatoes. The mushrooms. The flavor. Take some Roasted Butternut Squash Soup out of the freezer or make a huge Powerhouse Salad to serve with the burgers. The only ones stuffed this year will be your friends and family. You can make the burgers ahead of time, cook them and place them in the freezer, leaving you free to cut down a Christmas tree, spend time with your guests or shop for those Black Friday deals. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for my health, my family and friends. And I thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Black Friday Burgers

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked sweet potato
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground sage
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

whole wheat burger buns
left over shaved Brussel sprouts or fresh baby spinach
cranberry sauce
Dij-ayo spread (recipe follows)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery and saute until golden. Add mushrooms and garlic and continue to saute until browned. Add fennel and sage and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and place into large mixing bowl.

Place beans into the bowl and mash the beans using a fork or potato masher. Add sweet potato and mash into beans.

Place the oats in a mini-chopper and pulse just enough to break them down but not processed into a flour. Add to mixing bowl with remaining ingredients and mix well with a fork. Adjust spices as desired.

Separate into five or six portions and form into patties. (I find that 1/3 cup is the perfect size for a standard burger bun.) Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 20 minutes, turning half-way through cooking. You can also cook in a non-stick skillet or on a non-stick electric griddle. You can enjoy them now or place them in the freezer for future use.

Serve on burger buns with shaved Brussel sprouts or fresh baby spinach and top with Dij-ayo and cranberry sauce.

Dij-ayo

½ cup raw cashews
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon tahini
Water as needed to thin out

Place all ingredients in high-speed blender and process until smooth.

17 Nov 2016

Thinking Outside of the Squash: Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

A popular way to make spaghetti squash is to serve it with tomato sauce or bake it in a fashion similar to lasagna. Well, I think it’s time to think outside of the squash. I’ve been hanging onto a recipe for Fideos Rossejat for a few years. Fideos Rossejat is a paella-style dish that’s made with fried fideos (broken spaghetti). The original recipe has chicken and chorizo and I’ve also seen versions that include lobster. Besides the fact that chicken,chorizo and lobster are a thing of the past for me, I also didn’t like the idea that the fideos are fried in oil. Well, I guess there are too many aspects of this recipe that don’t fit in with my way of cooking that it didn’t make sense to salvage it. However, there is one aspect that is worth saving — the sofrito. Sofrito is a sauce used as a cooking base in Spanish cuisine consisting of garlic, onion, paprika and tomatoes cooked in olive oil. For this recipe I left out the oil and added a charred red pepper to give it another layer of flavor. I baked the squash with fresh garlic and stirred together the sofrito while the squash was in the oven. The squash “noodles” were then added to the skillet. You can serve the squash at this point, or you can place it in the oven to crisp it up a bit. Many of the Spanish restaurants we used to go to would serve thick slices of fried potatoes as a side dish, so I served the squash with some not-so-fried potato slices. It seems like you can get spaghetti squash year round in any grocery store the US, but now this is the time of the year to pick them up from a local farm stand or farmers market. It’s also time to think outside of the squash. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spanish Style Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise & seeds removed
3 to 4 garlic cloves, pressed
Olive oil (optional)

Sofrito:

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch of saffron
½ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350F. Place squash cut side up on rimmed baking sheet. If using oil, lightly coat the cut side of the squash with oil. Rub surface with garlic. Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender and shreds when scraped with a fork.(This could take about 1-1/2 hours.)

While the squash is baking, prepare the sofrito. Lightly coat a deep skillet with olive oil and heat over high heat. Add preppers and cook until beginning to char. Add onions and continue to cook until the onions turn golden brown, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, paste and saffron and continue to cook until the tomatoes turn dark red. Add the wine and cook until it is almost completely evaporated.

Using a fork, scrape out the contents of the squash. Add to skillet and toss until the sofrito is well distributed. Optional: Cover the skillet, place in oven and bake until it begins to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and serve.

Not-So-Fried Potato Slices

Slice potatoes 1/4″ thick. Lightly coat a non-stick electric griddle with olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and set it to the highest setting. Place potatoes on griddle in a single layer and cook until they are browned on both sides. This takes a long time, so be patient. If you don’t have concerns about using oil, you can pan fry them in a deep skillet with about 1″ of vegetable or peanut oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Nov 2016

A Little Plate of Heaven: Vegetable Fricassee

Vegetable Fricasee

Vegetable Fricassee

I remember hearing about chicken fricassee when I was a young girl. It sounded silly (actually, it was referenced in a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon) and fancy all at the same time. Many years later I had my first taste of fricassee, appropriately at a fancy restaurant. It was not the traditional creamy chicken stew, just a vegetable side dish made with julienned zucchini, carrots and onions and cooked with butter and cream. It was heaven on a plate. I don’t even remember what else it was served with (maybe fish or chicken), but the fricassee is what I remember most about that meal. So I thought about how to pull off a plant-based version that didn’t use non-dairy butter or a soy-based cream that contains oil. Lately, I’ve been using a combination of soy or almond milk yogurt and cashew cream in my recipes, so I figured I’d play around with that some more. (I like this combination because cashew cream, when used on it’s own, has a tendency to dry up. The addition of the non-dairy yogurt helps keep it fluid.) The recipe came together quite easily. The vegetables are sauteed, seasoned with herbs then finished off with the “cream”. As an afterthought, I might add a splash of dry white wine before mixing in the cream. I served the fricassee over a whole grain medley (half quinoa, half Trader Joe’s brown rice-black barley-daikon seed medley), but you could also toss it with a small pasta like orzo or gemelli. Whip up a dish of Vegetable Fricassee and get yourself a little plate of heaven. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegetable Fricassee

½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
½ cup non-dairy yogurt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (optional)

vegetable broth
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1 small yellow squash, julienned

Dried tarragon or other herb, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cooked grains or pasta

Drain and rinse cashews. Add to blender container and add enough water to barely cover them. Process on high until smooth and creamy. Add yogurt and nutritional yeast and set aside.

Heat two tablespoons of broth in non-stick skillet. Add onions and carrots and cook for about two minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash and continue to cook until softened, stirring frequently. Add tarragon, salt and pepper and cook another 30 seconds. Add cashew cream-yogurt mixture and simmer until sauce thickens.

Serve over your choice of grains or pasta.

 

 

 

09 Nov 2016

Build a Better Taco Step 3: Mushroom Tacos

Mushroom Tacos

Mushroom Tacos

Perhaps you’ve tried seitan; or tofu; or TVP; or jackfruit. I’ve tried every one of these “meat replacements” and what I don’t like about them is that they need a lot of moisture (i.e. oil) or salt to make them palatable. Which brings me back to mushrooms. I’ve always enjoyed eating mushrooms, but they were usually as a side dish. Since I gave up eating meat (and our close proximity to the mushroom capital of the world), they’ve become the focal point of many of my recipes. Mushrooms are versatile and easy to use in recipes. They can be hearty in flavor and texture, like a cremini or portabella; or they can be delicate in taste and bite, as in an oyster mushroom. I used cremini mushrooms for this taco recipe because they can withstand the high heat used to brown the filling and are able to stand up to the spicy heat of the taco flavorings. Once you have your sour cream, taco seasoning and sauce ready, the recipe comes together quickly. It’s a simple saute of onions, garlic, bell peppers and mushrooms spiced to your liking. Spoon it into taco shells, then layer on fresh tomatoes, lettuce and pumpkin seeds. If you don’t like the idea of non-dairy sour cream, whip up some super soft avocado with a spritz of lime juice instead. Make your meal a fiesta by serving some black beans and Spanish rice to accompany the tacos. (One margarita wouldn’t hurt, either.) Makes me wanna shout Ole! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mushroom Tacos

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, minced
3 to 4 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 large bell pepper, minced
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or taco sauce)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

Taco shells
Non-dairy yogurt or sour cream
Taco sauce
Chopped tomatoes
Shredded lettuce
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat. Add one third of the mushrooms to skillet and brown, turning frequently. When browned, remove to clean bowl. Repeat two times with the remaining mushrooms. (The goal is to cook the mushrooms without allowing them to get watery.) Add taco seasoning and stir to combine.

Add peppers and onions to skillet and saute until lightly browned, adding just enough water to prevent them from sticking. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue to cook until softened. Add mushrooms and raise heat to high. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Add tomato paste and nutritional yeast and cook for about 5 minutes, adding water if necessary. Taco mixture should be slightly moist and meaty, not soupy. Remove from heat and serve on corn taco shells with tomatoes, lettuce, yogurt, taco sauce and pumpkin seeds.

04 Nov 2016

Winterized Yogurt: Baked Apple Ala Mode

Baked Apple & Soy Yogurt

Baked Apple & Soy Yogurt

There’s a chill in the air which means I’m using my oven almost every day. If I turn on the oven to roast vegetables I’ll try to squeeze in some sweet potatoes or apples to get the most out of my energy consumption. When I was a child we always went apple picking with my grandparents, and I remember my grandmother making baked apples in the following weeks. Sometimes she would serve them warm with a scoop of ice cream, and that got me thinking about yogurt. We usually add fresh berries to yogurt. Even though we can get “fresh” berries any time of the year they are not in-season now, and frozen berries just don’t cut it for me. I need to figure out how to “winterize” my yogurt. While I was packing up Bruce’s lunch this morning, I remembered those left-over baked apples. (If you cook on a regular basis there’s always some hidden treasure in your fridge.) So I chopped up the apple, sprinkled on some cinnamon, and flavored the yogurt with a little sugar and vanilla. It looked so tasty that I had to have it for breakfast. I warmed the apple in the microwave before spooning on a healthy portion of yogurt. You can dress it up by adding granola, muesli or chopped nuts. With the holidays coming, this would make a nice addition to a weekend brunch. There’s no recipe for baking apples. You simply place cored, unpeeled apples in a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if desired, add a little water and bake at 350F until soft. Baking time depends on the size and variety of apple and how soft you like them. You can use your favorite store-bought yogurt or make your own following the guidelines in a previous post. There’s no time like the present to winterize your yogurt. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

03 Nov 2016

Build a Better Taco Step 2: No Salt Taco Seasoning & Sauce

No Salt Added Taco Sauce

No Salt Added Taco Sauce

When Bruce returned from a stay at the True North Health Center I made a promise to eliminate as much salt from our lives as possible. One of the first things I made without salt was bread. If you ever look at the nutrition facts for bread, it is loaded with salt. So my thought was to follow a recipe for Italian bread and omit the salt. This was an eye-opener. The bread was tasteless. I realized that it wasn’t bread that I loved all these years . . . it’s the salt!  So back to the matter at hand. Step two of Building a Better Taco is to make No-Salt-Added Taco Seasoning & Sauce. (Of course, if you don’t have a problem with high blood pressure, then you can just use your favorite store-bought seasoning and sauce, but you’re probably better off making your own.) My next post will be for Mushroom Tacos, so be a good scout and be prepared with your Yogurt Sour “Cream”, No Salt Added Taco Seasoning and Sauce. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

No-Salt-Added Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar

No-Salt-Added Taco Sauce

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste, salt free
3 oz. water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Place all ingredients in small pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness is achieved. Let cool then pour into covered jar. Refrigerate. Will keep for about two weeks.

02 Nov 2016

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