Thursday, September 26, 2013

African Peanut Stew

It was the kind of day that merited a warm hearty stew: crisp and cool with the scent of autumn in the air. We spent the better part of the morning apple-picking as a family. I think my three-year old ate more than he picked, but that's to be expected! :-) We loaded bushels of apples into our car, turned on the heater, and headed home for some lentil soup. Later that afternoon, though, my daughter wanted to help me make something for dinner. She's actually been begging to make a really spicy salsa for her daddy, but we've put a delay on that project due to some jalapeño juice in the eye. But, I digress. She did a fantastic job carefully slicing and deseeding two jalapeño peppers for this fantastic stew.

The flavors are quasi African, and oh so delicious together. Especially when served over brown rice. There are many variations to this stew but this is the one I really enjoy. 


1 Tb. olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1/2 green or red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (see below for substitution ideas)
32 oz. vegetable or vegetarian chicken style broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut milk
Handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (opt.)


Saute sweet potato, garlic, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno peppers in olive oil over medium high heat until vegetables begin to soften. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, cumin and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes and quinoa are completely cooked. Add peanut butter and carefully stir to incorporate. It should melt into the stew and begin to thicken slightly. Add coconut milk and cilantro and continue to cook for just a few minutes more. 

Serve and enjoy! This yields about 4 healthy servings. 

Substitution / Add-in Ideas:
My aunt Carol gave me a similar recipe that included diced zucchini. You would just add it at the beginning with the rest of the vegetables. 

She also uses prepared salsa instead of jalapenos and canned tomatoes. I've used a can of Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies and eliminated the jalapenos, but it was really very spicy. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

BBQ Season ~ Vegan Style {Overload Alert!}

Oh me, oh my. It's been far too long! Have you been enjoying this summer holiday? It's been a bit cooler than I'd like, but weather can be very unpredictable. I was looking forward to cookouts with neighbors, picnics at the beach, and all the other joys that warm weather brings, but alas, it has been wet, cold (60's) and windy. I guess I'll just have to content myself with INDOOR outdoor fare. 

Earlier this month, I was invited to share some plant-based recipes for our local Living Healthy Supper Club. It was right after the 4th of July, and being rather in the mood, I chose to go with a BBQ themed dinner. Our menu was:

Appetizer ~ 

Sides ~
Israeli Cous Cous Salad
Roasted Brussels and Asparagus
Baked Mac and Cheese 

Main Course ~
Coleslaw Condiment

Dessert ~
Very Berry Shortcake
Soy Whipped Topping

I thoroughly enjoy this food. Seriously. I want you to be able to enjoy it as well. I don't have photos of all of the recipes, but if you'll click on the links provided, you'll get a sneak peak of some of the dishes. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip
(adapted from Chef Chloe Coscarelli)
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 onion, finely chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced  
a few pinches crushed red pepper (optional) 
2 cups chopped spinach 
1 (14-ounce) package soft tofu, drained 
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
1 Tb. fresh basil, torn or coarsely chopped 
½ - 1 teaspoons sea salt 
1 Tb. Good Seasons Garlic Herb Dry Salad Dressing Mix
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained (can also use marinated or frozen) and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped 
Pita or tortilla chips and fresh crudites for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 1-quart baking dish. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions until soft. Add garlic and red pepper and let cook a few more minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add spinach. Let cook, stirring gently, until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and add chopped artichokes and water chestnuts.  In a food processor, blend tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add artichokes and spinach mixture, and pulse about 15 times. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Let cool slightly, then serve with pita or tortilla chips and vegetables. Can also be served cold. 

Herbed Red Potato Salad 
(adapted from Taste of Home)
3 lbs. Red potatoes, washed well
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tb. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about one lemon)
2 Tb. fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tb. whole grain mustard (opt.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/3 of a large red onion, finely chopped

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender but still firm and skins split slightly. Drain and set aside. 

In a small bowl whisk together oil, lemon juice, herbs, lemon peel, salt and whole grain mustard (if using). 

Dice slightly cooled potatoes and place in a medium bowl; add red onion. Drizzle dressing over potatoes and onion and toss to coat. This salad is best if served the next day to allow the flavors to deepen.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad
2 cups dry Israeli Cous Cous
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, quartered, and chopped
1 large red tomato, diced
2 Tb. diced or thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup, fresh basil, cut into ribbons (julienned)
Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup olive oil

Pour water into medium sized pot, salt generously, and bring to a boil. Add cous cous and once again bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 8-10 minutes. (Check to make sure cous cous has not absorbed all liquid and is sticking.) Remove from heat, pour into a colander, and rinse with cold water. 

Peel, quarter and dice cucumber. Wash and dice tomato and onion. Wash and slice basil into ribbons. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1/4 cup olive oil. 

In a large serving bowl, combine cooled cous cous, vegetables, and dressing. Stir well to break up any clumps of cous cous and incorporate all of the zesty, fresh dressing. Season to taste with salt. Serve!

Optional add-ins: 
Kalamata olives
Tofu feta (You’ll want to reduce the amount of dressing in the salad if using)

BBQ “Chicken”

4 cups Butler soy curls

1 Tb. chicken style seasoning

1 Tb. dehydrated onion
Olive oil
salt, to taste
2/3 cup prepared barbecue sauce of choice

Place dry soy curls in a medium bowl. Add chicken seasoning and dried onion to soy curls and stir to combine. Boil enough water to completely cover soy curls, and rehydrate for about 5 minutes. 

Heat about 1 Tb. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Drain and squeeze excess water from soy curls and transfer to pan. Season with a little salt, to taste. Sauté curls for a minute or two until they begin to dry slightly and turn light golden brown. Add 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce and stir to incorporate. Turn down heat and continue to sauté, adding the last 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce when it looks a bit dry. 

Remove from heat, toast some burger buns, heap some BBQ Chicken on your bun, layer some fresh coleslaw on top and you’ve got a delicious main course for your vegetarian outdoor cookout. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Abundance: Rhubarb

Summer is one of my favorite least early summer is. I'm not sure that early summer is considered a season, though. The breeze is warm, not stifling. Grass is rich and green. Growth in the garden is just beginning, and there's a wonderful smell in the air. 

We just happen to be the grateful beneficiaries of our friends summer (over) abundance. We haven't been able to plant our garden this year, but we've been blessed with cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, and rhubarb from other's zucchini yet, but I'm sure it will come! {Insert smily face here}

I was experimenting with rhubarb combinations the other day, and while strawberry with rhubarb is still my favorite, apple and rhubarb pair nicely, too. The texture of the fruit, the sweetness of the apple balancing out the tartness of the's a perfect match. 

I made a rhubarb betty....that wasn't a big hit. My next try was crisp. Mmmmm. We all agreed that it's a keeper. 

3 cups rhubarb, washed well and sliced into chunks
1 cup apple (of choice), peeled and diced
1/2 cup strawberries, washed and sliced
3/4 cup sugar (or cane juice crystals)
1 Tb. flour
2 tsp. instant tapioca
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

Streusel Topping:
1 scant cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine prepared fruit with sugar, flour, instant tapioca, lemon juice and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.

In another bowl, combine dry streusel ingredients, then add margarine. Using a fork (or your fingers), crumble and cut the margarine into the flour mixture until it resembles large peas. 

Pour fruit mixture into a lightly oiled or Pam-sprayed 8 x 8 baking dish. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over the fruit. Place in stove and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until topping is beautifully golden and fruit is tender. 

Juices will be bubbling in the baking dish, and you may want to have a cookie sheet under it...just in case! :-)

Serve warm with non-dairy vanilla ice cream, whipped topping, or enjoy it plain. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tortilla Soup

This is our family's favorite new soup. A few months ago, I was asked to present some vegan recipes for a Supper Club in our neighborhood. (I posted the "chicken" enchilada recipe from that presentation previously on the blog.) We absolutely love the tortilla soup at California Pizza Kitchen, and since the supper club theme was American Southwestern, I decided to try to recreate that delicious soup. There are lots of copy-cat recipes online, but this is one of the closest I've been able to find. I've modified a recipe from

As the soup bubbled on the stove, my daughter moaned and groaned, "You're killing me, Mom!" I was alarmed. "Why?" I asked. "That soup smells soooo good! And I'm hungry." Whew...if that was all... :-)

3 Tb. light olive oil
6 corn tortillas, cut into squares
3 Tb. minced garlic
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups frozen yellow and white corn, divided
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup tomato paste
2 Tb. ground cumin
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vegan chicken seasoning (McKays)
1 tsp. chili powder
6 cups water
2 cans diced mild green chiles
blue tortilla chips (opt. garnish)
fresh cilantro (opt. garnish)
fresh avocado, diced (opt. garnish)

In a large pot, sauté corn tortillas in olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and continue to sauté, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Cook for perhaps a minute. Add 1 cup of corn and all other ingredients (except garnishes, of course) and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. With a stick blender, blend soup until it's the consistency of a thick puree. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can process in a regular blender, but be careful to just pulse it a few times to break up the corn tortillas.

Return soup to heat and add the rest of the corn, plus the two cans of green chiles. Bring to a brief boil, then serve immediately with garnishes of choice.

This is a large amount of soup, but I promise you, it won't be around for long! :-)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

{Not quite} Nutrigrain bars...

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but as a busy family always on the run, breakfast sometimes needs to be portable. Enter Nutrigrain bars: one of the quintessential grab-and-go breakfast foods. I've been wanting to make my own breakfast bar, modeled after the soft, chewy, fruity Kelloggs brand. As I searched online, I couldn't find very many recipes that were not crumb top. While those are delicious, they don't travel well! 

I can just imagine driving in the car, crumb topped breakfast bar in one hand, steering wheel in the other. As I begin to unwrap my breakfast bar, crumbs fall off onto my shirt and lap, jam oozes onto my hands. I reach behind me into the diaper bag to retrieve a wet wipe, still holding onto the bar and steering the car with my knees...More crumbs in my lap and jam on my pants. 

These are a much safer option. :-) And! They don't contain high-fructose corn syrup, which I'm very pleased about. 

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 Tb. Earth Balance Margarine
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (you can also use soured soy milk - see directions below)
1/4 cup chia gel
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Reduced Sugar Strawberry Preserves (or desired fruit jam: fig, blackberry, raspberry, cherry)

*Soured soy milk: 1 Tb. lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of soy milk. Stir and allow to thicken slightly. Use as needed. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with Pam and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (first seven listed). Add margarine and cut in until smallish pebbles form. In another small bowl, whisk wet ingredients together, then pour into dry ingredient mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms and all flour is incorporated. It should feel like biscuit dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, adding a bit more flour to dough to make it kneadable. 

With a rolling pin, form dough into a rectangle shape that is approximately 8 x 10"  and 1/4-1/2" thick.  Divide this into smaller squares--about 4 x 4. Spoon about a tablespoon of fruit preserves into the center of the square. Fold other side of dough over the jam and slightly press the seams to close. 

Transfer bars onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top. 

Yield: 10 bars

Monday, April 29, 2013

Apple Spice Baked French Toast

This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity, from running errands all day Friday to spending Sunday with our church's Adventurer Club at the state-wide annual Fun Day. Last year before Fun Day, we made a quick stop at a fast food chain to grab breakfast on the fly -- I hadn't planned very well that morning ;-). Well, I've turned over a new leaf this year and wanted to make sure that my children weren't fueled by a package of deep-fried tater-tots and deep-fried french toast sticks. I whipped up this apple spice baked french toast based on a recipe for pumpkin streusel baked french toast by Two Peas and Their Pod. I've thoroughly enjoyed every recipe I've tried from their blog (veganized, of course!)

This french toast is more of a casserole and is wonderful if you are short on time. I make it the night before and either bake it that night to reheat in the morning for a super-fast meal or bake it in the morning while I am getting ready for the day. Either way, it's very tasty. 

You'll want to use a whole grain or whole wheat baguette or other crusty bread for this to turn out well. 

1/2 of a long whole wheat baguette
6 Tb. chia gel or 3 Tb. flax gel
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup apple butter (made by cooking applesauce down until a thick spreadable consistency - like a thick puree)
1/4 cup brown or natural granulated sugar
1 Tb. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
pinch ground allspice
1/2 a Fuji or other apple of choice, peeled and diced
1/4 cup Craisins or dried tart cherries

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (opt.)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup margarine, cut into pieces

Spray a 2-qrt. glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear or cut baguette into large bite size pieces and arrange evenly in the pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, chia or flax, apple butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and diced apple. Whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Pour evenly over bread pieces and press bread down a bit into the milk mixture. Sprinkle dried cranberries or cherries over the french toast.  Cover casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. {Usually allow overnight or several hours for the bread to absorb the liquid.}

In a small bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, walnuts, salt and cinnamon or cardamom. Cut in margarine pieces with your fingers or a fork until the mixture looks like small peas. Pour streusel into a plastic baggy and store in fridge.

When ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 365 F. Remove casserole and streusel from refrigerator. Spread crumb topping evenly over french toast and bake for 55-60 minutes until casserole is set and crunchy golden brown on top. 

Serve with vegetarian sausage or tofu scramble for a amazing breakfast. 

Yield: 6 large pieces

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kale Salad with Toasted Pepitas

Yet another delicious variation on a kale theme. Kale is one of the powerhouses of nutrition; a dark, green, fiber-rich bunch of health. I am somewhat new to the juicing/green smoothie scene, and kale is a staple in most green juices and smoothies for its nutrient dense properties. See my previous post on White Bean Kale Soup {click here} for more detailed information on what kale provides. 

My best friend from high school sent me a recipe for one of her new favorite addictions, Massaged Kale Salad from Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network. The original salad contains diced mango and toasted pepitas with a lemon-honey vinaigrette. I didn't have mango, so substituted the next best thing...sweet bell peppers. I know, I know... no where near mango. 

You really have to massage the kale to work the fibrousness (is that a word?) out. It might seem like a little work, but it's really so much better that way. 

1/2 large bunch kale, washed and deveined
1/2 fresh lemon
8 black olives, sliced
1/3 cup diced red and yellow sweet peppers
2 handfuls toasted pepitas (try sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts, too!)
Salt, to taste

1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 tsp. honey
pepper (opt.)
scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Roll kale leaves into small bundles and thinly slice into ribbons (this is called chiffonade). Place into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the greens, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over, and sprinkle with salt. With your hands, massage kale for perhaps one minute, until the fibers have broken down and greens are slightly wilted. 

Add black olives, sweet peppers and pepitas (or other seeds) to green mixture and stir to combine. 

In a small bowl, combine juice from the other half of the lemon, 2 tsp. honey, and black pepper (opt.) and whisk. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, until a emulsion forms. Pour dressing over kale greens and toss to mix well. 

Taste salad and adjust for seasonings.

Yield: 2 1-cup servings, or 4 1/2-cup servings
100 calories per 1/2 cup (slightly less if you don't use all the dressing.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anytime Pancakes {Apple Cinnamon Cranberry}

Sunday mornings are lazy. It's a time when my children can sleep in, I can get caught up on my laundry mountain, and make something a little more special for breakfast than the typical cold cereal. Lately I've been experimenting with do-it-ahead recipes such as baked oatmeal and over-night french toast that I just have to heat up in the morning and it's ready to go. One time-saving plus about this recipe is that it can be made into a mix that's super quick to throw together. Breakfast can be on the table in no time!

My good friends, Stephanie and Sarah ( published the original recipe for these pancakes in their cookbook Give Them Something Better, and they've given me permission to post it with my adaptations. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/3 cup water
2/3 cup soy, almond, or coconut milk
1/4 cup oil
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
Dried Cranberries (opt.)

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (including grated apple and brown sugar). Stir together wet and dry ingredients to form a batter. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat (you can spray the pan with cooking spray or drizzle a small amount of oil on the pan, too). Using a ladle or 1/3 cup measurement, pour batter onto skillet, sprinkle a few dried cranberries decoratively over the surface, and cook until the pancakes are golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes. 

Yield: Varies depending on desired size of pancake! :0) I made 9-10 medium sized pancakes. 

If you have any leftovers, pop them in a ziploc bag and refrigerate them. When you are ready to use, simply place 1-2 on a plate and microwave them for about 20 seconds on each side. Optional Toppings: margarine, peanut butter, pure maple syrup, applesauce, thickened fruit, etc... The possibilities are endless. 

Enjoy this hearty breakfast.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pumpin' Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Every once in a while I get an urge for something pumpkin. Lately it's been pumpkin pie oatmeal and pumpkin bread. While trying to decide what to make for breakfast yesterday, I spied some leftover pumpkin puree in my refrigerator....right next to some leftover coconut milk. Oh, the possibilities! What emerged from my imagination was so smooth and creamy, so delicious, I had to share it with you. 

1 frozen banana, broken in chunks
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 heaping Tb. brown sugar or sweetener of choice
1 Tb. chia gel or ground flax seed
1 capful vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. 

Yield: 2 cups
Calories: approximately 194 per 1-cup serving

Try this! A dollop of fat-free non-dairy whipped topping and some artfully crushed graham cracker sprinkled over the top for a guilt-free dessert.

Mmmm. I'm gonna to go whip me up some breakfast now... :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baked Doughnuts...Need I say more? :-)

I really always wanted to make doughnuts. When I was a little girl, there was an elderly gentleman who lived up the road from us and he was famous for his delicious (fried) doughnuts. I've always thought the raised doughnut making process would be difficult: making the batter, waiting for the oil to reach just the right temperature, making sure it doesn't get too hot and incinerate your doughnut, frying batch after batch...Wouldn't it be nice if there was an easy baked recipe that didn't require the wait? I've found one! 

I modified a Pinterest recipe from Shugary Sweets, and found that it was very easily made vegan and CHOCOLATE! Be careful with this's rather addicting, and if you're watching your weight, well...


Vanilla Variety
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla 
1/4 c. vinegar (or egg replacer to equal 2 eggs)
1 cup soy, coconut, or almond milk
2 Tb. soy margarine, melted

Chocolate Variety
Simply add 1/3 cup carob or cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to dry ingredients listed above. 

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a doughnut pan with cooking spray (or lightly grease with Crisco) and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In a separate small bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Add wet to dry ingredients and gently mix just until all the flour is incorporated. You'll have a fluffy thick batter. Spoon batter into a piping bag (or a Ziploc style plastic bag) and snip off the corner so that it is about the same size as the width of your doughnut pan indentions (?). Squeeze batter into each doughnut form, filling about 3/4 full. 

Slip doughnuts into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes. You'll want to check them and if the cake feels firm and bounces back when you touch it, they're done! YAY! Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then turn the pan over to release them. I place them on a wire mesh cooling screen. When they are cool, they are ready for your favorite glaze.

Here is the one I used from Chef Chloe Coscarelli:

Chocolate Glaze
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
2 Tb. plus 1 tsp. soy milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar 

Combine chocolate chips and soy milk. Process in microwave for about 30 seconds or until chocolate chips have become melty and it becomes a sort of ganache. Stir in powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. 

Dip your doughnuts head first into the glaze, swirling your wrist around to evenly coat the top of the doughnut and twisting the doughnut as you remove it to give it a nice finish. Decorate with your favorite toppings: nuts, sprinkles, etc. 


Yield: 9-10 doughnuts

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Broccoli "Cheddar" Soup

This soup is rich, creamy, and wouldn't guess that there isn't a shred of cheese in it! The cheddar-like color comes from some very secret ingredients: cooked potatoes, carrots, and onion. Pretty much guilt-free, right? Just the way I like it. 

I first tasted this soup in academy and searched high and low to find the recipe after I graduated. I honestly can't say who to give credit to for this family favorite. I'm glad they developed it, though! I have made a few modifications to suit my family's taste. 

2 carrots, washed and cut into medallions
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup cashews
1 Tb. Tahini
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
3 cups fresh or frozen, thawed broccoli florets, cut rather small

Place carrots, potatoes, onion and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cook until the carrots and potatoes are softened (not the consistency of mashed potatoes, though) and easy to blend. Pour into a blender base and add cashews and salt. Blend until very smooth and creamy. If you have a conventional blender, this might take a little while. Add liquid if necessary to get the smooth texture and consistency you'd like. 

Meanwhile, steam broccoli florets until crisp-tender in a small amount of water. Drain and set aside. 

Pour "cheese" sauce into a large pot, add broccoli and bring to a light boil. Serve hot with crackers. 

So easy, and perfect for a cold winter day! Enjoy

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Layered Chicken Enchiladas {Southwestern Style}

I was invited to share and demonstrate some of our favorite recipes at a Living Healthy Supper Club recently. When I consulted with my husband {we have too many favorite recipes and I had to narrow it down}, he suggested a New Mexican theme. We lived in Los Lunas, New Mexico for a summer...just long enough to fall in love with the food of the American Southwest. I found that a traditional and easy enchilada recipe --New Mexican style--didn't include laboriously rolling tortillas, but simply stacking them! That instantly became my go-to process. I rarely make rolled enchiladas anymore. It's just too easy to layer them and pile the filling high!

The first dish I'm presenting to you from my New Mexican-themed Supper Club demonstration is Layered Chicken Enchiladas. I wanted to showcase some easy ways that meatless, dairy free substitutions could be made for typical recipes. 

Layered Chicken Enchiladas
Prepared Enchilada sauce (recipe to follow)
1 bag Daiya Cheddar Cheese or a batch of my Nacho Cheese Sauce
18 Corn Tortillas
Prepared Soy Curls (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour a ladle of enchilada sauce in base of 9 x 13 casserole dish. Lay 6 corn tortillas evenly over surface of sauce. Spoon prepared chicken substitute over first layer of tortillas. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of Daiya Cheddar cheese over the chicken. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce over the filling. Repeat layers of tortillas, filling, cheese and sauce until you reach about an inch from the top of casserole dish. Smother the final layer of corn tortillas with enchilada sauce, sprinkling Daiya over the top. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 35 minutes or until sauce and cheese is bubbly. Serve and enjoy with salad, spanish rice, and crockpot beans. 

Enchilada Sauce:
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup flour
1 T. chile molido powder (New Mexican style) 
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried onion
1/2 tsp. garlic
1 1/2 - 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup tomato juice
2 cups water
Pinch of oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Whisk together canola oil and flour in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. When it begins to brown slightly, add chile and spices. Continue stirring and add rest of ingredients, water first, then juices, oregano, and salt. Stir until it begins to thicken slightly. If it is too thick, add a little more water. 

Prepared Chicken Style Soy Curls
(from Give Them Something Better by Sarah Frain and Stephanie Howard)
4 cups boiling water
3 cups Soy Curls
1 Tb. oil
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup vegetarian chicken seasoning
Salt, to taste

Soak soy curls in water for about 10 minutes. Drain. Sauté soy curls, onion, and chicken seasoning in a small amount of oil until golden brown. 

This recipe makes a large 9 x 13 casserole. We cut it into 12 equal servings. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Favorite Mac and Cheese {By Request}

Mac and Cheese is considered ultimate comfort food...right along with pizza and chicken noodle soup. It's hard to find a really GOOD vegan Mac and Cheese. The sauces are either too cashewy, too lemony, too pimiento-y, or too yeasty (in my opinion) ;-) I asked a friend of mine if she had a good one to share. When I tried it, I loved it. My husband loved it...and my children really didn't. But they like it now! 

I must admit, this isn't an original recipe. I wish it was, but it's been circulating for years. Jim and Neva Brackett developed this recipe and published it in their cookbook, 7 Secrets {a great resource, by the way!}.

We enjoy this dish two ways: just as pictured, or dressed up a little bit with a nice "buttered" breadcrumb top.

1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pimientos
1 T lemon juice
Scant 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp dried or granulated onion
2 1/4 cups water
1 lb. desired pasta (shells, tubes, or elbows work well)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Remove from heat and drain.  Meanwhile, begin cheese sauce. 

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until very, very smooth. If you have a blender other than a VitaMix or BlendTech (sp), you may want to blend the ingredients with only half of the water, adding the rest as it becomes more smooth. With conventional blenders, you will need to blend the mixture for about 5 minutes or so until the cashew pieces are completely pulverized! 

Pour cheese sauce into a large sauce pan and, stirring frequently, bring to a low boil until it begins to thicken. Pour sauce over noodles and stir to combine. Serve immediately, or cover with seasoned bread crumbs and bake at 375 degrees until bread crumbs turn a lovely brown. 

We enjoy this dish with steamed fresh broccoli and a protein such as veggie hot dogs or burgers.

Oat Burgers {With a twist!}

When I was in high school, I worked in food service. Our cafeteria was strictly vegan and we made everything from scratch...for 55-70 people. I will never forget making huge batches of cookies or burgers, peeling 50 lbs. of potatoes, cutting pounds and pounds of onions. One of the recipes I remember most was a sunflower seed burger, smothered in a special sauce and baked. I think of it sometimes when I'm forming veggie burgers by hand. 

Recently I began experimenting with my own veggie burger. I love Morningstar Farms or Boca products, but when I realized how much money I could save by making my own...I was hooked. Now, if only I could come up with a really good substitution for Morningstar Farms Breakfast Strips! :0)

These burgers combine oats, white beans, and brown rice and are celiac friendly if you make sure that your oats are gluten free. One batch makes 18 patties.

3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos (or light soy sauce)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tb. oil
2 Tb. dried minced onion
1 Tb. maple syrup
2 Tb. Italian seasoning (I made mine from a mixture of crushed rosemary, thyme, and basil)
1 1/2 tsp. garlic
1/4 tsp. cayenne or pinch of red pepper flakes (opt.)
3 1/2 cups quick oats
2/3 cup white beans, pureed slightly (still small chunks visible)
2/3 cup brown rice, cooked 
1/2 cup ground pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line several baking sheets with foil or bake-able parchment paper.

In a large pot, combine first nine ingredients (water + spices, oil and syrup) and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in oats, bean puree, rice, and pecans and combine well. You may want to grab a pinch of the mix and taste to adjust for salt if needed.Allow mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. It will become very thick.

Using a large ice cream scoop (about 1/3 cup), spoon mixture onto prepared sheets and flatten into patties with your hand. I made mine about 3/4-in thick. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes on one side, then turn patties with a spatula and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before storing. 

These freeze amazingly well. I wrap mine in foil and place into a gallon size freezer bag. When I'm ready to use them, I take out however many burgers I need, microwave them for 15 seconds on each side, or until they're completely warm. I serve them on a bun layered with red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, ketchup, mustard (or) our favorite BBQ sauce. 

Enjoy! :0)

I modified a sausage recipe from Mary Bernt's "Best of Veggies".

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fruit and Nut Bars

I love Lara least the Cherry Pie flavor. I rarely buy them, though, because they're so expensive. So yesterday I got out my food processor, flat blade, gathered some of my favorite nuts and dried fruits and surfed the web. I found several recipes, so obviously I'm not the only one who loves the idea of whole food fruit and nut treats! :0)

The first one I made was Cherry Almond. I modified a recipe found on DamyHealth.

Cherry Almond Bars {Our personal favorite}

1/3 cup Dried Cherries
1/4 cup Seedless/Pitted sliced Dates
1/3 cup almonds 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful of coconut
1/16 tsp almond extract

Instructions {For all recipes}
Place all ingredients in food processor base with blade attachment. Process until very finely ground, maybe two minutes. Remove from base and pour mix onto foil. Flatten "dough" by hand into an even 5x5 square about 1 inch thick. Slice into four equal rectangles or smaller bite size chunks. Wrap in plastic wrap to keep fresh. 

Cashew Chocolate Chip, Cherry Almond, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Cashew Chocolate Chip. I wasn't a fan of it at first. The cashew flavor was a bit strong, but it mellowed overnight and was delicious this morning!

1/2 cup salted cashews
1/3 cup dates, pitted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 Tb. vegan chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip 

1/3 cup dates
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup cashews
handful coconut
capful of vanilla
1 Tb. vegan chocolate chips
pinch of salt

I encourage you to experiment with your favorite seeds, nuts, and dried fruits ~ Save some money and do your body good with a healthy treat.

PB & J Oat Bars

An early morning conversation with my husband inspired these delicious stick-to-your-ribs breakfast bars. He woke up craving a Bob Dylan bar. When he used to work for Wild Oats market (prior to Whole Foods merger, of course) he'd eat one of these layered bars nearly every day. A somewhat dense peanut butter "blondie"-type base, smothered with strawberry preserves and topped with a crunchy oat, coconut, and chocolate concoction. Could I reproduce a healthier version? I was up for the challenge!

I started with the base. I found a recipe for a peanut butter brownie in my go-to baking book. I tweaked it here, and tweaked it there. Used coconut oil instead of butter, cut down on sugar, substituted whole wheat flour. Voila! It worked. Next, the topping. My first attempt needed a bit more time to toast. The second time, I added a little more oil and roughly chopped pecans joined the mix. It was just about right. 

Now for assembly. While the base was still a little warm, I smoothed the preserves over, then placed the bars into the fridge to cool a bit more. After about 5 - 7 minutes, I removed the pan, sprinkled even handfuls of the oat mixture over the top and lightly pressed it down into the jam. Cutting six equal pieces, I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and placed them high up on the counter where my pre-schooler couldn't reach them. ;-) 

Would it pass the true test? Later that day, my husband unwrapped his "Bob Dylan" bar (by Beth) and took a bite. His nostalgic look told me everything I needed to know. The slight smile and nod of head as he looked at me? Awesome! Nothing could make me more happy. 

Now YOU can create these treats for an on-the-go breakfast or mid-day snack. ;-)


Peanut Butter Base
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tb. Chia gel (or equivalent for 2 eggs) 
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup flour (1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup wheat)
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Jam Layer
1/3 cup strawberry preserves (or jam of choice)

Oat Topping
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Kirkland brand from Costco)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss rolled oats, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans with 2 Tb. oil until evenly coated. Place on baking sheet and toast until nicely golden brown (maybe 10-12 minutes or more - you'll  want to keep checking on it to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool, add chocolate chips

Cream coconut oil, sugar, and chia gel in a medium bowl with a hand mixer. Add peanut butter and continue to mix until incorporated. In a small separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Add to peanut butter mix and combine well. Pour into a lightly sprayed 8x8 -in casserole dish and smooth evenly with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the base appears set and the edges are slightly brown. (I have a gas range, so baking times may vary). Remove and cool for 10 minutes or so. 

When cool enough to touch the surface, spread an even layer of jam over the top. Sprinkle oat topping over the surface and press lightly into the preserves. Cut into desired serving size (you don't have to go as big as I did) and enjoy!