Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Broccoli "Cheddar" Soup

This soup is rich, creamy, and delicious...you 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 Bars...at 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!