Alfredo Pizza with Kale, Squash and Mushrooms

13 Aug

Mmm...pizza. Food of the gods.

There’s no point in slicing it. I’m eating the whole thing. In one bite.

This adorable puppy wants you to make pizza.

We all seem to really like puppies, too. But, sadly, this post has nothing to do with them.

There are very few things everyone agrees on. A casual perusal of your Facebook wall ought to make that evident. But one of those rare nouns that can bring us all together in agreement — think Pepsi lovers and cat ladies joining hands with Coca-Cola worshipers and dog people — is pizza. Thanks, Italy!

Pizza is marvelous and simple and brings a smile to peoples’ faces from Japan to Africa to Uncle Sam’s Land.

Of course, there are tons of ways to doctor yourself up a plant-based pie. But this gem is a little non-traditional, using (to die for) cashew alfredo sauce instead of the traditional red, as well as bright and beautiful — and crazy good for you — kale and summer squash, as well as baby bella mushrooms.

Fun facts time. Did you know that mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D? And did you also know that summer squash is a rich source of Vitamin A and C, plus magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium and Vitamin B6? Aaaaand did you know that kale is a demi god? Okay, well not quite, but it can do some amazing stuff for your body.

Alls I’m saying is, this pizza not only tastes faboosh, it’s also good for you. You could amp up the nutrition level by cutting the vegan cheese and using a whole wheat crust, but I chose to go the regular, unbleached white flour route this time, and sprinkle on some Daiya.

FYI, the sauce is also amazing on pasta. Nomnomnom. And it’ll keep in the fridge, covered in an airtight container, for a few days. You can also freeze it for months.

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared pizza crust (my favorite recipe from Veggieful.com)
  • A handful of baby bella mushrooms (or any kind you like), washed and sliced
  • One summer squash, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • A big handful of kale, ripped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegan mozzarella, if you like
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream (recipe below)
  • A splash of grapeseed oil or olive oil (about a tablespoon)
  • A tsp of lemon juice or so (to taste)
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Dried parsley flakes, to taste
  • 2 Tbsps corn meal

How To

As you can see from the ingredient list, I really eyeball this sauce. I didn’t use any measuring cups, but just mixed as I went and kept taste testing. If you think you’d like some other herbs, throw ‘em in! Want more pepper? You add that pepper, gal or guy! But here’s the gist:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out your dough onto your pie pan, and lift up the edges to sprinkle the corn meal underneath. I also sprinkle a little bit on the top, too.
  3. To make your alfredo sauce, mix together your 1/2 cup of cashew cream and the oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley, taste testing as you go, until you have a sauce you like. Then spread it out over your dough.
  4. Top with the sliced veggies, and cheese if you like, and bake for 30 minutes, until the crusts are browned.

Cashew Cream Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, whole cashews
  • 1/4 cup cold water

How To

  1. Soak your cashews in cold water for six to eight hours, then strain them.
  2. Place the strained cashews in a food process with 1/4 cup of cold water, and blend, blend, blend some more, until it’s smooth as silk — no bits left. If you want your cream to be thinner, just add a bit more water.

That’s it! This will make you a whole cup, but you can store what’s leftover from the alfredo sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. It makes for a very tasty dill dip for veggies, or salad dressing, too. Just add lemon juice, grapeseed oil, parlsey, a bit of salt and lots of dill.

Bon appétit! 

Kentucky Fried Vegan: Chickun Sandwich, Coleslaw and Biscuit Meal

27 Jul

Chickpea Chickun Patty and Coleslaw

Picnic ready.

You guys, I have good news: It’s totally possible to enjoy the savory and sweet flavors of a meal with the Colonel, minus the part where you actually consume a bucket of fried animal appendages bursting with artery-clogging cholesterol and fat. Because that’s gross.

But you know what’s not gross? Plants. Chickpeas, for example, are super good for you. They’re full of fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and other goodies. And they also lay the foundation for a damn fine chickun patty.

Plus, coleslaw definitely doesn’t require cows’ milk and chicken eggs to do a tasty and cool cabbage-and-carrot dance on your pallet.

And, as it turns out, you can easily whip up a flufftastic buttermilk biscuit without the use of any animals at all. Not a one.

Chickpea Chickun Patties
Serves 4

This recipe is an adaptation of Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon’s Chickpea Tenders, which you can find in her fabulous book, “The Everyday Happy Herbivore.” I opted to throw in some paprika and liquid smoke to amp up the flavor. And while I used Lindsay’s poultry seasoning recipe (below), I use a different chicken-style broth powder.

Ingredients

  • 1 15oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chicken-style broth powder
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp low-sodium tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 4-5 drops of liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 Tbsp water

Poultry Seasoning Ingredients
Grind up the 1 Tbsp of each of the following dried herbs with a mortar and pestle until they’re course, but not powdered:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Marjoram (or oregano)
  • Parsley (or basil)

Step-by-Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a potato masher or a strong fork (my fork kept bending. I am clearly not wealthy), smash up your chickpeas in a large bowl until they’re totally broken down. You don’t want to see any whole peas.
  3. Add in all your ingredients, except the vital wheat gluten and water, and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the vital wheat gluten and water, until a gooey dough forms.
  5. Knead the dough with your hands for a minute or two, shape it into a ball, and then let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. Form the dough into four equal-sized patties, and space them evenly on your cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes on each size, twice, to cook for a total of 40 minutes (so, you flip them over four times).

I wholeheartedly agree with Lindsay that these are great served warm, but they’re even better cold on a sammich with some barbecue sauce or mayo. Nomnom. They would also make fabulous nuggets, I just wouldn’t cook them as long (probably about 20 minutes).

Simple Vegan Slaw
Serves 10-12

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 3 radishes, shredded
  • 1 cup vegan mayo (I used Veganaise)
  • 4 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp almond or soy milk
  • A dash of salt and pepper

Step-by-Step

  1. In a large bowl (seriously, go big, because you need room to toss your slaw), combine the mayo, vinegar, sugar, milk and spices, and whisk them together until you have a smooth sauce.
  2. Add in your shredded veggies, and gently toss until they’re all coated.
  3. Cover the dish in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Buttermilk Biscuits
Serves 6

I cannot overstake the flaky yumminess of these biscuits. You will be amazed, and have an instant desire to buy stock in coconut oil. I found these little gems over at Chez Bettay: The Vegan Gourmet, but I thought the directions were a little hard to follow when broken up by all the delicious pictures, so they’re reprinted here with some notes from B.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted flour (I used unbleached white all purpose flour)
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsps solid coconut oil for glazing
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Step-by-Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse a few times until the flour forms pea-sized clumps. Be sure not to over process.
  3. In a separate cup, stir the vinegar into the milk (this makes the mock buttermilk).
  4. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the processor as you pluse, until it starts to form a dough ball — then stop. You’ll have a sticky lump, and not all the ingredients will be combined, but that’s how it should be.
  5. Dump your dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle with some more flour.
  6. Roll the dough into a ball, and use your palms to flatten it to a 3/4″-thick circle.
  7. Using a biscuit cutter (or a glass) cut out as many biscuits as you can. (With a 3″ biscuit cutter, I made six).
  8. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet, and brush with the remaining coconut oil and then bake for 10-ish minutes (until they’re fluffy and golden).

And there you have it, a delicious one-piece meal with slaw and a biscuit, all based solely upon the wonder that is plants.

Bon appétit!

Tangy Mango Guacamole

17 Jul

Aunt B's Tangy Mango Guacamole

Anyone got a chip? Or a spoon?

Nothing completes a sunny summer day (or any day ending in ‘y’) like a glorious heap of guacamole perched upon a perfectly crunchy tortilla chip. And if you want to make your green dip of the gods even more summery, I suggest adding in some sweet and tart mango chunks.

Mmm, mango. As much as I heart avocados, I may love my mangos even more. And they love me right back. A close relative of the cashew and pistachio (somehow), mangos are not just packed with a buttload of vitamin A and C, they also help prevent cancer, they’re good for fighting pimples, and bad cholesterol and diabetes. Check it.

Added bonus: the mango juices also seem to help keep the guac from turning that lovely, unappetizing shade of brown it tends toward.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 2 small mangos, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 Tbsps red onion, diced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Lime  juice, to taste

Squish it!

  1. Throw away the pits and scoop the flesh of the avocados into a bowl.
  2. Add about a tablespoon of the lime juice, and smash it up until it’s as smooth as you prefer.
  3. Carefully stir in your remaining ingredients and taste test. If you like, add in more lime juice.
  4. Max on your yummy dip and bask in your culinary victory.

Thanks for taking pictures of, and eating, my dip even though avocados make your tongue itch, Miles Pfefferle. You’re the bestest.

Bon appetit! 

So Many Carrots Carrot Cake Cupcakes

11 Jul

Calling all sweet teeth.

Calling all sweet teeth.

What do you do when your man buys a five-pound bag of carrots (because he was on a carrot kick), but is unable to consume them fast enough, thus leaving the produce drawer filled with root vegetables on the verge of ruin?

Have you guys met my boyfriend?

Have you guys met my boyfriend?

Some less neurotic souls might let the carrots falter and move on with their lives. But not Aunt B. Because throwing away food makes me irrationally miserable.

So, instead, I made and froze a huge vat of carrot soup, which I plan to consume when it’s not surface-of-the-sun hot outside (recipe coming later), shredded multiple bags of carrots for salads, and whipped up way more carrot cake cupcakes than a household of two requires.

This was not only my first vegan carrot cake, but my first carrot cake attempt period, and also my first go at homemade frosting. So I was a little wary. Luckily, I followed two fantastic recipes from Jannequin Bennet’s “The Complete Vegan Kitchen,” a birthday present from my lovely friend Alex (thanks, Al!), and all was well.

Based on the ingredients I had on hand, I had to make a few slight alterations. But the end result was delightful. These little cakes are not only really moist and flavorful — they’re also a yummy, cool treat on a hot day when you eat one right out of the fridge. Plus, making tiny, adorable frosting carrot decorations was super fun.

Not-a-Pro-Tip: Don’t have a piping bag? No problem. Fill up a sandwich bag with icing and cut off one of the corners. Bingo. You are now authorized to ice.

Big ups to my main squeeze, Miles Pfefferle, for taking pics of my food and really liking carrots. Smooch.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes (or two 9-inch round cakes or one 9×13-inch cake)

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (Ms. Bennet calls for soy flour)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 allspice
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (Ms. Bennet uses the zest of one lemon)
  • 3 Tbsp apple sauce (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (I shredded and the diced mine in a food processor because ain’t nobody got time for grating)

Patty cake, patty cake, baker people…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray your cupcake pan (or cake pans).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, combine the raisins, carrots and liquids, and whisk until the mixture is light and bubbly.
  5. Combine the two mixtures (dry and wet) in one bowl, and stir until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into your cupcake wells, and bake for 20 minutes (30 to 40 if you’re making a cake).
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then carefully flip the pan over and dump them out onto a plate to finish cooling.
  8. Once they’re cool, frost them with the recipe below…

Tofu Walnut Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbps walnuts
  • 1/2 pound tofu, drained
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

How to frosting

  1. Whir the walnuts around in a food processor until they’re a fine powder.
  2. Add the tofu and blend until combined.
  3. Add the maple syrup, coconut and vanilla and blend until combined.
  4. If the frosting seems too thick, add in a little almond or soy milk.
  5. Let the frosting cool off in the fridge for a few minutes before use.

Note: If you’re frosting two 9-inch round cakes or one 9X13-inch cake, double the amounts above.

Bon appétit!

Vegan Brunchapalooza: Hashbrown Tartlets and Cheesy Herb Drop Biscuits

5 Jul

Brunch is served!

Brunch is served!

Allow me to introduce you to what may just become your new favorite way to start the day at noon: hashbrown tartlets and cheesy herb drop biscuits.

Although “tartlet” may hold some dessert-y connotations, versus the obviously eggy “quiche,” I went with it for three reasons:

  1. It sounds adorable.
  2. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, “Friends.” (For those of you who don’t recall, Jon Lovitz guest-starred in an early episode and wore the word out in a very humorous fashion. Video below for your viewing pleasure).
  3. Whateva whateva. I do what I want.
Click for (hilarious) vodeo.

Remember when Jon Lovitz was Monica’s stoned almost-employer?

Anyhoo, the cool thing about these crustless mini quiches tartlets is that they’re very customizable. You can throw in any veggies, herbs or faux meats you have sitting around. My favorites so far are the fresh chopped dill and mushrooms version, the veggie sausage, red onions and spinach combo (below) and the green pepper and soyrizo version pictured above. You could also add a little Daiya or Teese for some extra cheesetastic oomph.

Hashbrown Tartlets
Serves six (use six half-cup ramekins or one 9″ pie dish)

Ingredients
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 large potatoes, shredded
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced
  • 14 oz. veggie sausage (I used Gimme Lean)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsps almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill (or 1 tsp fresh, chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley (or 1 tsp fresh, chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black salt
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
Tartlet time!
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your ramekins (or 9″ pie dish).
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Break up the veggie sausage into the skillet, add in the red onions, and cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are soft. Remove from heat.
  4. To make your eggy casserole base, start by taking the drained tofu for a spin in a blender or food processor until it’s broken up into small crumbles.
  5. Start slowly pouring the almond milk into the liquid feeder, until the mixture is the consistency of frosting.
  6. Add in the nutritional yeast, salts, herbs and spices, and pulse a few times until it’s all combined.
  7. Dump the lot into a large mixing bowl, and add in the sausage and onions, shredded potatoes and spinach.
  8. Once the mixture is well combined, scoop equal portions into your ramekins and smooth the tops with a spatula.
  9. Place the ramekins on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes. 45 to 50 if you’re using a pie plate.
  10. Let the tartlets cool for before serving.

Cheesy Herb Drop Biscuits
Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all purpose, unbleached white flour
  • 1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Drop it like it’s hot!

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together.
  3. Combine the melted butter (or oil) and milk in a separate little bowl, then slowly stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, as your biscuits won’t be as fluffy! Don’t worry, the dough is supposed to be super sticky.
  4. Space eight little equally sized lumps of dough onto the cookie sheet and bake at 475 for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for another five minutes (until the biscuits are starting to brown on top).
  5. That’s it. Eat up!

The One with The Bonus Recipe: Spareparts Breakfast Sammy

The day after your successful brunchapalooza (or later that day), just slice a biscuit in half and top it with a half tarlet popped out of a ramekin. You can also freeze them and heat them up later (thaw then wrap them in foil and bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes).

Bon appetit!

Veggieful Oven-Fried Rice

2 Jul

Veggieful Vegan Oven-Fried Rice

You want me. You need me.

I love rice, but I don’t have a rice cooker, and making it the old-fashioned way just takes too damn long for this baby of the 80s. I want what I want when I want it, which was 10 seconds ago and why are you so slooooooow?!

Much like this little pony, I want it NOW!

But this dish is lickety split fast. If you have the bouillon and soup mixes on hand, it takes less than 10 minutes to throw together. If you don’t have those at the ready, never fear. Just click the links below for some easy make-it-yourself recipes that will only add about five more minutes to the process. You are welcome.

The other great thing about this meal is that it’s a real refrigerator cleaner. Got some veggies that are getting long in the tooth? Throw ‘em in here. An old sock you’ll never find the mate to? Toss it in — broth makes everything delicious!

I found this recipe on Food.com, courtesy of TheDancingCook. As it was practically perfect already, I only made one change: add some yummy tofu.

Veggieful Oven-Fried Rice
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole grain brown rice
  • A buttload of chopped vegetables, your pick (mushrooms, carrots, celery, green peppers, onions, frozen peas, frozen corn, broccoli, onions, etc., etc., etc.)
  • 1/2 pound tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes
  • 1 packet or preparation of onion soup mix
  • 3 tablespoons vegan chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (for a soy free dish)
Oven-Fry it Up
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish.
  3. Bake uncovered for one hour.
  4. Scarf it all down in one sittingLet it cool and serve.

Bon appétit!

BBQ Mozzarella Black Bean Burger and Oven-Fried Potato Chips

27 Jun

Vegan junk food lives.

Vegan junk food lives.

As is the case with many recipes, this one was born out of a need to clean my refrigerator. I had some barbecue sauce leftover after making a dish of tofubacue, and an almost-empty bag of Daiya mozzarella shreds that didn’t get used up when I last made Alfredo sauce. What was I to do? Squeeze them into a burger, of course.

The result is a sweet, tangy burger (no cow required) that pairs nicely with a toasted bun or bread and a topping of  baby spinach or kale. Added plant-based bonus: black beans are a low-sodium, low-fat source of protein, and they contain bunches of essential minerals, including iron. Get wise to some more rad black bean benefits here.

Plus you can also make a bunch of these and freeze them (uncooked) for postponed munching (like say perhaps at a July 4 shindig, my fellow Americans).

BBQ Mozzarella Black Bean Burger
Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup vegan mozzarella cheese shreds (I use Daiya), plus a wee bit  more for sprinkling
  • Rolled oats, or breadcrumbs, as needed (probably 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup)
  • 1/4 small to medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 4 drops Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • A dash of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 4 tsps dried cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh, minced)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegan BBQ Mozzarella Black Bean Burger Patty

An uncooked patty awaits its fate.

Ready? Set? Patty!

  1. Combine your liquid smoke, herbs, spices, cheese shreds, onions and black beans in a large mixing bowl, and smush the lot together until they’re combined, but the beans aren’t completely broken down.
  2. Add breadcrumbs to the mixture until it’s firm enough (and not too sticky) to shape into three patties.

To cook these little guys, you have two options. You can either go low-oil and bake them, or add a little bit more oil to the equation and fry them. Either way, your last step is to sprinkle a bit more cheese on top for the last couple minutes of cooking. I find they get much crisper when you fry them, but they taste great no matter the method.

Bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper (foil will  aid crispiness more so than paper).
  3. Spray the patties lightly with cooking spray (I use olive oil), and bake for 7 to 10 minutes on each side (be sure to spray them again when you flip), until they’re slightly crunchy on the inside and warmed through.

Fry

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add the patties to the pan and fry them over medium-high heat until their bottoms are browned and crispy (should take about five minutes).
  3. Flip the patties and cook them for another three to five minutes until they’re crunchy on either side and warmed through.

And what good is a burger without a side of chips or fries? If you muttered “worthless” to your computer monitor, you’d be correct.

Not-Yet-Oven-Fried Potato Chips

Not-Yet-Oven-Fried Potato Chips

Oven-Fried Potato Chips
Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium sized potatos
  • Oil spray
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How to Chip

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a mandolin, food processor, or your own skilled hand, slice your potato into thin chips (pick a thickness you like. I prefer mine to be about 1/16 of a inch thick. Note that skinnier chips will cook faster, so keep an eye on them).
  3. Place the chips on a baking sheet, spray them lightly with oil, and bake for about 10 minutes on each side, turning half-way through (yes, this part is a beyotch). Keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not burning.
  4. Transfer the cooked chips to a paper-towel covered plate to cool off for a moment or two before you start chomping away.

Bon appetit!

The fastest chili mac casserole in the west, plus dairy-free chocolate milk

22 Jun

Delicious. No cows required.

Delicious. No cows required.

If you’re responsible for feeding one or more finicky children (or child-like adults), listen up, because these recipes are made for you.

My chili mac casserole and chocolate milk are omnivore requested, tested and approved, and possibly my most kid-friendly recipes to date. Plus, they both have the added benefit of being stupid easy to throw together, whilst harboring zero animal products or gluten. And, oh yeah, they taste fantastic. Amazing, I know. (Full disclosure time: I grabbed the gluten-free pasta off the store shelf on accident. But, you know what, it turned out yummy. So, there you go).

But before I launch into the recipes, allow me to drop some knowledge about one of the star ingredients in both.

Mmm...HFCS!When people find out someone in their vicinity no longer eats animal products, one of the most common concerns they feel the right need to voice is, “but where oh where do you get your calcium?!” (Because it makes complete sense to pipe up with nutrition advice when a fellow human is noshing salads and tofu, but when they watch you scarf down McGarbage on your way to a triple by-pass at 30, your diet is totally none of their business…) “Never fear,” I tell these folks, “well-rounded plant-based diets contain plenty of calcium. And one of my favorite sources is almond milk.”

It’s creamy, can be used exactly like you’d use cow’s milk in any recipe, and is devoid of lactose (an enemy of many tummies), growth hormones, cholesterol, and sneakily hidden sweeteners. Plus, unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E, as well as selenium, and manganese. And calcium-fortified, unsweetened almond milk has 50 percent more calcium per serving than regular cow’s milk — yet only 30 calories per serving, compared to 90 calories in skim cow’s milk and 150 calories in fat cow’s milk.

Now, some of you might be wondering why I didn’t just drop a blob of Hershey’s chocolate syrup into my milk and call it a day. Because I think high fructose corn syrup is the devil’s sweetener, that’s why.

So let’s all calm down, eat some calcium-rich casserole, and wash it down with a nice, frothy glass of calci-yummy, better-than-moosual chocolate milk.

Chili Mac Casserole
Serves 4-5

Mmm. I wish I could embed scents. You're missing out.

Mmm. I wish I could embed scents. You’re missing out.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans vegan chili (I used Amy’s, medium-level spice. But if you’re less lazy than me, you can use about three cups of your homemade chili)
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped (you could use kale here, too)
  • 8 oz. pasta (I used gluten-free penne, but really, whatever floats your boat will work)
  • 1 batch of Aunt B’s Cheese Sauce (recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumb topping (optional)

‘Role it Up

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Follow the package instructions to cook your pasta (gluten-free pasta usually has a shorter cook time).
  3. While your pasta is cooking, mix up all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender or food processor.
  4. Dump your drained pasta back in the pot and pour in the cheese sauce, chili, and spinach, and stir until combined.
  5. Pour the whole mixture into a lightly greased (I used olive oil spray) casserole dish.
  6. If you like, top with breadcrumbs for an added crunch factor.
  7. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
  8. If you can drum up enough patience, allow the casserole to cool a bit before serving. Or let the kids burn their tongues out of their skulls. That’ll teach ‘em!

Non-Dairy Chocolate Milk
Serves 2

Thirsty?

Thirsty?

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsps organic, pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 drops vanilla
  • 2 heaping tsps pure cocoa powder

Simply blend all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge. If you don’t have a blender of food processor, you can use it whisk, but it might take a while.

Bon appetit!

The vegan fried, dippity egg

15 Jun

Dip away, my dears. Dip away.

Dip away, my dears. Dip away.

This is real. And I'm so happy for all of us.

This is real. And I’m so happy for all of us.

I was wandering through a book store in Astoria not long ago, when I happened upon this gem: “Betty Goes Vegan” by Annie and Dan Shannon. Now, on account of recently moving across the country and having to re-buy pretty much everything a house needs, I’m broke. So I didn’t actually purchase the book just then (but I assure you all, I certainly will).

However, I did, while flipping through its magical pages, discover a dish I thought was out of my grasp forever when I gave up animal bits: the dippity fried egg.

You may know them as simply “over easy” or “sunny side up” eggs. But when I was growing up, on the rare occasions when my father would cook the only meal he ever cooked for us (breakfast), he usually made us fried eggs with ever-so-slightly pink yolks — perfect for little rugrats to dip toast into. We loved them and dubbed them dippity eggs. And dippity eggs they will forever be.

As you can probably imagine, I was beyond stoked to find this recipe. I may or may not have skipped across the shop, shoved the book up to Miles’ nose and said the phrase, “lookey lookey!” Despite my lack of funds, I had to get these non-eggs into my belly ASAP.

And so I did.

Ron Popeil sold me through quite a few bouts of insomnia once upon a time.

Ron and his rotisserie got me through quite a few bouts of insomnia once upon a time. Not pictured: Flavor injector.

Annie and Dan’s recipe calls for a flavor injector, a slightly wacky device that some of you might recall from the late-night countertop rotisserie commercials starring Ron Popeil. I know I do. Only instead of pumping a bird’s carcass full of marinade, the Shannons use this little doohickey to pump their yolk replacement (a vegan cheese sauce) into the middle of a tofu block. Ingenious.

Unfortunately, while I’ve placed an order for my very own flavor injector (of course), I was not patient enough to wait for it to arrive before attempting these tofeggs. Instead, I scraped out a couple little craters in my pressed tofu blocks, and filled them with my own yolk sauce (recipe and instructions below). And, my friends, I was not disappointed.

I think the key to the yolk sauce success is black salt. While not aptly named (it’s really more of a reddish brown), it’s eggy, sulfurous smell and taste are pretty much perfect for this application. I got mine off of Amazon, but you might be able to unearth some at an Indian market or health foods store.

In fact, my little dippity tofeggs were amazing, and now that I have a ready supply of yolk sauce, I plan to make them all the time. I hope you like ‘em too!

Vegan Dippity Fried Eggs
Makes 4 Eggs

Mmm. Eggy salt.

Mmm. Eggy salt.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 16-oz. block of organic, extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • Four spoonfuls of vegan yolk sauce (below)
  • A pinch of black salt

Vegan Yolk Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsps vegan butter (as always, I rock the Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp black salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free)
  • A dash of turmeric (or until it’s as yellow as you like)

To make the sauce, place all the ingredients (minus the tofu, naturally) in a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a smooth liquid. You’ll have some left over. Store that in an airtight container in the fridge for your next batch of fried dippity eggs.

Two little tofeggs, getting ready for the skillet.

Two little tofeggs, getting ready for the skillet. And, also, a little bit of my thumb. My bad.

Get Ready to Get Dippity!

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut your block of pressed tofu into thirds, set one third aside for other use, and then cut the leftover two blocks in half, length-wise. What you want in the end is four rectangles of tofu that are roughly the size of a fried agg and about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Take a spoon and carve out little yolk craters on each of the tofu blocks. Be careful not to dig through the tofu, or your yolk sauce will escape!
  • Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a cast-iron skillet until it crackles when you toss a drop of water in. Then fry your tofeggs, flipping over occasionally until they start to brown and crisp.
  • Sprinkle the tofeggs with a pinch of black salt.
  • Now, spoon some of your yolk sauce into crater of each egg, and place the skillet on the bottom rack of the oven for about three minutes to set the “yolks” up.
  • Scoop them out of the pan and onto a plate, and serve with some toast for dipping!

Bon appetit!

Pretty Purple Potato Salad

11 Jun

It's purple picnic time, ya'll!

It’s purple picnic time, ya’ll!

Mondays always suck. When I can finally bring myself to pry open my eyes in the morning, I find they are usually fixed into a Mr. Potato Head angry stare for the better part of the day.

No. I don't want to edit the TPS reports.

No. I don’t want to edit the TPS reports.

But, speaking of potatoes, Mondays now blow slightly fewer chunks. At least for me. You see, the first day of the work week is now also my delivery day from Organics to You. They’re a local Portland company that gathers up fresh, organic produce from farms in the area, and then drives around town in their bio-diesel vehicles delivering them to people like me who try to interact with other humans as little as possible.

So that helps.

Along with an assortment of other from-the-ground goodies, this week’s maiden delivery brought a bunch of potatoes and two lovely ears of sweet corn from the farm to my counter.

So I decided to cook up a summer feast: tofubacue, corn on the cob, and a new invention of mine — the pretty purple potato salad.

In case I haven’t been 100 percent clear where I stand on the subject of taters, I LOVE THEM MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE. Indeed, I possibly love them more than my favorite (fictional) person, Harry Potter. (But probably not a whole lot more, because Harry is the fixed point around which my universe revolves. But you know what I mean).

They’re yummy and comforting and come in so many versions: tots, twice baked, mashed, curly fries, hash browns. The list is endless and awe-inspiring. And, you guys, the purple ones are even better.

The tater is way better for you than that purple ketchup every kid freaked out over in the 90s. Man, that stuff was cool...

The tater is way better for you than that purple ketchup every kid freaked out over in the 90s. Man, that stuff was cool…

First of all, they’re purple. I think we can all agree that’s rad. AND precisely because they’re purple, these colorful spuds contain four times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes. Anthocyanin, the pigment that makes them so prettyfull, is a antioxidant that can strengthen your immune system and help prevent certain heart diseases and cancers. Recent research has also shown they can help lower blood pressure.

FYIzzle, be sure to leave the skin on the taters when you cook them to reap the most nutritional goodness.

And now, the loveliest potato salad you’ve ever eaten.

Pretty Purple Potato Salad
Serves four

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound potatoes, diced or sliced (I used two purple potatoes and two russet potatoes)
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons vegan mayo (recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Salad Away

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, dump your potatoes in. Then cook until soft enough to poke with a fork. Usually around 6 minutes.
  3. Immediately rinse the potatoes with cold water, strain them, pour them out into a mixing bowl, and then let them sit for a bit to completely cool off.
  4. Once the taters are room temperature, add all your ingredients to the bowl and mix, being sure to coat the spuds well.
  5. Pop the lot into the fridge to chill before you serve.

Vegan Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of silken tofu (half a package)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or plain white vinegar)
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • A few drops of agave nectar

Make Some Mayo

  1. Blend the tofu and vinegar together in a food processor (or by hand with a whisk) until you have a smooth, creamy mix.
  2. Add the lemon juice and agave nectar to taste, and blend, until the flavor is up to par with your standards.

Bon appetit!

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