Tag Archives: baking

Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper

25 Feb

A skillet meal the gloved one would be proud of....Lefty, not Michael Jackson. But I bet he'd like it too.

When I was a kid, the sight of few human beings made me as happy as a vision of Betty Crocker’s anthropomorphic meal-time-in-a-box mascot, Lefty the Helping Hand, hanging out on our kitchen counter. Because that meant only one glorious thing: Helper was coming!

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom is not a fan of the kitchen. So Helpers were a common sight in our house — much to the joy of little Bridget. They were so gooey. So noodely. So salty. So yum.

In particular, I adored the 1990 version that featured Lefty wearing a Russian hat:

The Berlin wall is down! Creamy noodley goodness for all!

Anyway, that was 24 years ago. Flash forward through slap bracelets, Tamogotchis, Britney and Justin’s matching denim ensembles, MySpace and the resurgence of all things Apple, and while 29-year-old Bridget no longer eats animal foods, I still cherish the hell out of some Helper memories.

So, not too long ago, I decided I was going to turn this most-dear childhood staple into something a little healthier. The first step? Way less salt. And, obviously, no artificial preservatives. Easy peasy.

Now, your typical stroganoff sauce consists of sour cream, oil, butter, beef broth, onion, garlic powder and salt and pepper. As you know, I don’t play with those first four items. So I improvised. I traded out cashews for the artery-clogging trifecta of cream, oil and butter, added apple cider vinegar for the sour tang, and replaced the beef with a combo of vegan, meatless soy crumble and vitamin-D-packed mushrooms. Mmm, shrooms.

I also felt the need to squeeze some green into my ode to a healthier Lefty. I went with a cup or so of frozen peas, but spinach or kale would be a good plan, too.

The results did not disappoint.

Before I give you the play-by-play on how to whip this up, here’s a little info on why cashews are so awesome:

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

While they’re not fat free by any stretch of the imagination, cashews certainly kick butter, cream and plain old olive oil’s asses. First of all, they’re actually less fatty than some of  their other nut brethren, and they boast unsaturated fat (the kind that’s good for you).  They’re also made up of a bunch of minerals, which make your skin, hair and nails all pretty-like. Plus, cashews provide B vitamins, and they contain several antioxidant compounds regarded as anticancer agents. Also, they’re actually a seed (Mr. Seed to you). Who knew?

And now, let’s pig out!…

Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper
Serves ~4

Ingredients

Sauce (makes about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A generous shake of dried parsley
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Everything else
  • 6 oz. non-egg noodles
  • 6 oz. vegan meatless crumbles (I used Gardein)
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or other veggies, such as kale, spinach, etc.)
Directions
  1. To make them as creamy as possible, soak your cashews for at least a half an hour. If you are lucky enough to own a Vitamix or similarly turbo-powered blender/food processor, then you can skip this step.
  2. Combine all your sauce ingredients in your blender/food processor, and whiz until smooth.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, combine noodles, sauce, mushrooms and peas and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  4. When mixture bubbles, turn heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Dig in!

Bon apetit! 

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Cheesy quinoa and awesome stuffed peppers

15 Jan

Cheesy quinoa and black bean stuffed peppers

Colorful and also freaking yummy cheesy quinoa and black bean stuffed peppers.

Because I like you guys, I’ll be honest. I’ve made quinoa stuffed peppers before, and they’ve rated a solid “meh” on the flavor scale. But these little guys? On top of being super easy to make, they’re cheesy, they’ve got a little kick, and they will put a smile on your face. And if (for some unforeseeable reason) they fail to accomplish that last bit, try this.

When I first made these, I had a few cups of the extremely filling filling leftover. What was I to do?

Well, piggy enterprising as I am, I figured the filling would make a good dip, and grabbed a handful of tortilla chips to get my appetizer on, fooling myself into thinking I could eat just a few bites and save the rest.

Ha.

Of course, I ended up scarfing down all of it, and wasn’t even hungry for the peppers when they emerged from the oven. No worries, they fed me for the next week, aaaaand I found my new favorite dip recipe, in addition to my new favorite stuffed pepper recipe. And hopefully yours.

That same night, I also ended up spilling an entire glass of wine and a can of black beans on the floor and nearly severing a toe when I lost my grip on my veggie-dicing knife…but that’s another (cautionary) tale of trying to cook whilst clumsy.

Anyway, I believe the credit for how fabulously scrumptious these peppers are goes to the addition of Daiya mozzarella cheese in the stuffing. And maybe the cayenne pepper should get a little nod. But you be the final judge.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (or you could use rice. But then you don’t get to say “keeen-wah”!)
  • 2 cups + 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I heart Daiya)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 ounces frozen spinach
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots (I threw a few handfuls of baby carrots in a food processor)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Make it so!

  1. Cut your peppers in half, and pull out the seeds and ribbing (the light-colored stuff).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a  saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms, cumin and garlic, and sauté the mix for another 2 minutes.
  4. Break up your frozen spinach as well as you can (I achieve this by slamming the bag against my kitchen counter like a psychopath), and toss that in the pot.
  5. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  6. Add in your black beans, quinoa, carrots, and about 2 cups vegetable broth (enough to cover the whole mixture).
  7. Cover the pot and bring your mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  8. My favorite step: Stir in the vegan cheese.
  9. Add in your salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
  10. Stick your face as close to the mixture as is safe and take a giant whiff. Yummmmm.
  11. Preheat your oven to 350.
  12. Spoon a heaping helping of filling into each pepper half, and carefully place them in a casserole or baking dish.
  13. Pour about a half cup vegetable broth into the dish, then cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  14. Sprinkle each pepper with more cheese, if you like, and then bake uncovered for about 15 minutes more, or until the tops are browned.
  15. Nomnomnom.

In addition to the fact that they taste like joy, another lovely character trait of these peppers is that they keep really well. If you plan to scarf them down in the next few days, just pop them in a fridge-suitable storage container and, when it comes time to nosh, wrap them in tin foil and bake them in the oven at 350 for 20ish minutes.

Or, if you want to make a bunch for a rainy day, place each pepper in individual freezer bags (make sure you get as much air out as possible) and they’ll keep in your ice box for months. Just defrost in the fridge before cooking, and give it the same tin foil and baking treatment.

Bon appetit!

Heaven is a place with blueberry walnut banana bread

7 Jan

Vegan blueberry walnut banana bread.

I will make your kitchen smell divine

Has a bite of food ever made you want to weep with joy? No? Well, in that case, I feel bad for you. And also, I recommend you make my world famous (okay, my garden apartment famous) blueberry walnut banana bread.

Even if you don’t bawl from sheer tastebud delight, you’ll probably at least want to give yourself a hug after you taste your first slice.

I like to think it’s the addition of maple syrup that vaults this loaf from merely “yummy” to “I’ll punch a room full of babies for another piece” status.

On that note…Bon appetite, my future fellow would-be baby punchers!

Ingredients

Photo Jan 05, 6 31 21 PM

Get ready to mush.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup pastry flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup organic, raw sugar
  • 2 Tbsps ground flax, plus 1/4 cup hot water (this here is our egg replacer)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 big ole’ cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp organic, pure maple syrup
  • A smidgen of love and dollop hope and a dash of dreams (Just playing. Use as much of these as you want).

Get your loaf on…

Photo Jan 05, 6 44 54 PM

Just try to resist eating me with a spoon.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a bread loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the ground flax with the hot water to make a “flax egg” and pop the mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This helps it thicken up for its egg duties.
  4. In another small bowl, mash the bananas before stirring in the almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla. If the thought of biting into warm banana bits as you enjoy your bread sounds as yummy to you as it does to me, leave a few lumps.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just combined. Note: If you over-mix your bread it will get tough, and not in the good Chuck Norris sense.
  6. Fold in the walnuts and blueberries.
  7. Resist the urge to just say “to hell with it,” and eat all the batter with a spoon. Instead, pour the mixture into the bread pan and shake it a little to even it out.
  8. Pop it in the oven for an hour to 75 minutes.
  9. To make sure the loaf has cooked through, poke the middle of the loaf with a toothpick or knife. If it comes out clean, you’re golden. Now stay that way, pony boy.

Warning: This bread is highly coveted and disappears quickly in my household. In fact, I’m off to hide the remainder of my latest loaf in a locker at Union Station. Later.

Stupid-easy chips and guacamole

3 Jan

Chips and guac

Dig in.

Eating vegan isn’t complex seitan shenanigans and quinoa schemes all the time, you know. Sometimes I just want a simple snack: chips and dip.

For years, I bought packaged tortilla chips, always kind of assuming in the back of my mind that the science behind the tortilla chip was so far beyond me that I should thank the gods of chip manufacturing for relieving me of the burden of figuring it out.

But, as it turns out, you can make them yourself — in less than 15 minutes, mind you — and they’ll be much tastier and a lot cheaper. Plus, you can control your portion sizes by only making as much as you (should) want to eat. This is really helpful for gals like me who like to drown their sorrows in party-size bags of salty snacks on the regular.

Anyhoo.

Here’s how you make tortilla chips…

Tortilla chips

Just pop me in the oven.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350
  2. Grease a cookie sheet (I like organic olive oil spray because I’m super lazy)
  3. Slice up as many tortillas as you wish like pizzas (I do two usually, of Ezekiel 4:9 brand)
  4. Place your little chips-to-be on the cookie sheet
  5. Spray/brush the chips with olive oil
  6. Sprinkle on a little sea salt if you like
  7. Bake for no more than 10 minutes, just until crispy (keep an eye on them, these little guys can burn fast)

Yeah, that’s it. 15 minutes will get you warm, restaurant-grade tortilla chips just begging for a dip in the best guac you’ve ever eaten (says me).

Now, make yourself some guacamole…

I adapted this recipe from acclaimed Food Network star Alton Brown, based on the ingredients I had on hand.

Ingredients

  • 3 peeled and pitted avocados
  • 3 Tbsps lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

To the prep!

  1. In a large bowl, coat the avocado goo with the lime or lemon juice (this helps save it from turning a fairly disgusting, yet harmless, shade of brown).
  2. Drain the lime juice into a small bowl and save it (we’ll add it back in later).
  3. Mix in the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash with a fork until desired consistency (I like my guac a little chunky, but keep on mashing if you like yours smooth).
  4. Fold in the onions, tomatoes, and garlic.
  5. Add 1 Tbsp of the lime or lemon juice you saved earlier.
  6. Enjoy — and share with no one! I mean, you can if you want…but why would you?

See, wasn’t that easy? If you can handle the spice, throw in a diced jalapeño pepper, like Alton recommends, and let me know how that goes for ya.

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