Completely Board Post #9: Walnut-Mushroom “Meatball” Sandwich

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

 

I posted a pin for a walnut-mushroom meatball sub 2 years ago.  It was finally time to try it out.

I had one dilemma. Finding vegan, gluten-free, soy-free sub rolls.  In the last couple years I discovered Schar burger rolls so I decided to check their sub rolls and similarly shaped products.  They all have soy in them.  In fact, they’ve changed the burger rolls and they have soy now too.

So, what’s an industrious gluten-free girl to do?  Make my own!

For 7 years baking my own yeasted bread attempts have been disastrous. (did you ever see this post from Thanksgiving 2007?)  I don’t try it much because I just can’t take the disappointment.  But, I was determined to give it a go.  I found a recipe for a beautiful gluten-filled roll and set out to deglutenize and make them for myself.  It was a disaster.  They were flat, crumbly, and didn’t even taste that good.  Into the trash they go.

It was time to drop back and punt.  AREPAS!  I love them with pretty much anything you can fill them with.  So, instead of a meatball sub, I had a meatball sandwich, but it was delicious! (The recipe I use is in this post – I used the yellow Doñarepa this time)

With the addition of dates into the meatballs, they were a tiny bit sweeter than I would prefer.  I think I would add some onion powder and maybe a little red pepper to it next time especially if I’m going to use the meatballs in another application.  The texture wasn’t like a real meat meatball, but it wasn’t mushy and completely held up in the sandwich even when I pushed down the top half of the arepa a little.  They seemed way too soft when they came out of the oven, but let them sit for just a couple minutes and they are great.  Seriously, they look so much like the “real” thing.

Walnut Mushroom Meatballs

When paired with those balsamic vegetables and a little bit of soy-free Vegenaise (my addition), the sweet totally worked.  Those balsamic veggies pretty much rocked.  It surprised me completely.  I almost even just used fresh veggies because I’m not typically a huge fan of balsamic.  But, caramelized a little on those sweet onions, peppers and tomatoes, they were quite possibly my favorite part of this dish.  I have a feeling I’ll make them a lot with or without the meatballs.

Last but not least, anytime you can top anything with fresh parsley, I’m there.

Just two little notes on the prep:
1. My food processor is big so when I got the mushroom-date mixture about halfway blended, I had to add the walnut mixture in to get the dates chopped up enough.  Because of there being a small amount of mushroom-date mix, my blade was throwing it all up the sides.  Adding in the walnut mixture made it stay down by the blade, and that worked perfectly.

2. Since I was putting them in an arepa (which I cut open all the way and ate like a sandwich to accommodate all the fillings), I made the meatballs smaller.  I got 17

All in all, the recipe was easy to follow and the finished product was beautiful and delicious.  Another winning pin.

Walnut Mushroom Meatball Sandwich

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Get the original recipe over at Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes by clicking on the image of my pin below.  (Look at that photo.  Is it any wonder that I had to pin that one?)

meatballSubPin

 

Completely Board Post #8: Coconut Mocha Frappe

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

 

You thought I was bailing out on MoFo didn’t you? Well, I’m not.  I’ve been cooking up a storm and have dishes for a full week of posts.  I just have to sit down each day and write said posts.

It’s late in the day here in NC, but here ya go…

I’m just going to come out and admit it.  I like the frou-frou coffee drinks.  I like them cold.  I like them flavored with things other than coffee.  I like them sweet.  So when I saw the pin for this Coconut Mocha Frappe*, I couldn’t resist pinning it immediately.  (*Vegan post, non-vegan site).

I changed a couple things right away because I knew they wouldn’t quite do for my chocolate/coconut lovin’ heart: I doubled the cocoa and I added multiple drops of coconut extract.

I followed the instructions and they worked great.  (If you leave it for more than a couple hours without scraping, it will get frozen solid and too hard to scrape…I was on the verge of this being a problem). By the way, to get the calorie count she uses, the “coconut milk” is the coconut milk beverage in the box/carton, not the coconut milk in a can.

The frappe had a great consistency.  It was creamy and cold without being icy.

I did take exception to a few things in the taste department though:

1. It was a little bitter. At first, I thought that was from the stevia, but I concluded it was from the instant coffee.  I think I’d half the coffee next time or at least reduce by 25%.  (Can that happen just because my instant coffee is old?)

2.  Not even close to enough coconut flavor.  I added a half teaspoon of the extract and could still hardly taste it.  Some real coconut milk or more extract  would help with that.

3. Not sweet enough for me.  And, that’s saying something.  It doesn’t take a ton of sweet to be sweet enough for me.  I added a couple teaspoons of agave and that helped.  It also counteracted the bitter a little.

4. It could still use more chocolate :D

That sounds like a lot of complaining, but really, a few tiny little tweaks will make it perfection. It will also blow that 120 calorie claim out of the water, but I’d rather walk or cycle a little longer and get the frappe I want.

I seriously can’t wait to try a version of this with almond extract.  Yum yum yum.

One of the best things about it for me is how darn pretty it is.  Filling up my fancy dollar store mug, it just makes me smile.

frappe

 

I obviously need to work on the rim thing.

Completely Board Post #7: Cheesecake-Filled Strawberries, the “nailed it” edition – or Strawberries and Daiya Cream Cheese Creme

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

 

You know those photos floating around the web labeled “nailed it.”?  In case you don’t, it’s usually a photo of an absolutely beautiful dish and then someone’s *completely* flubbed attempt at that gorgeousness.  That’s what this was for me.

The original wasn’t a vegan dish, so I won’t post it here, but you can see the photo and recipe here if you want.

Herein lies part of the problem:  The pin boasted a cheesecake-filled strawberry.  The filling was fluffy and creamy while having enough body to stand up in the strawberry.  Perfect party finger food.  But, when I clicked through to the pin, it was an almond/heavy cream filling.  I wanted cheesecake filling.  So I set out to do it on my own.

I made a concoction of Daiya cream cheese, lemon juice, powdered sugar, and a little almond milk.  It was too thin.  I added more powdered sugar.  It was now bordering on super-sweet.  It was still too thin.  I put it in the freezer for a little while.  It was still too thin.  I added some arrowroot.  I added more powdered sugar.  It was still a little thin.  And super sweet.

At this point I was thinking, if only I had more cream cheese that wasn’t already earmarked for the jello pretzel salad.  I let it sit a little while and decided it was thick enough to put through the pastry bag and into the strawberries.  As you can see, it wasn’t.  Well, I mean, it went in.  It just didn’t stay there.  It was an ooey gooey mess.

Strawberries and Daiya Cream Cheese Cream

 

So, I just put the creme all over the strawberries and surrounding it on the plate.  It was messy.  It wasn’t particularly pretty.  But at least it tasted good.  I think it tasted better to the super-sweet-eaters at my house. I could have just called them strawberries and Daiya Cream Cheese Creme and they’d have been fine.  But compared with the fluffy yet substantial filling I was shooting for, I “nailed it.”

I realized there wasn’t much I could do about them (besides help to eat them), so I put them aside and went to the refrigerator to get out the peppers for the stuffed peppers that were next on my list.  I found the other half of the carton of Daiya I hadn’t actually used despite the fact I wrote down that I had.  ::sigh::

Completely Board Post #6: “Feta” Stuffed Mini Peppers

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

Vibrant mini peppers + Feta = not even a choice.  I had to attempt the recipe from this pin.  The original recipe was from the (non-vegan site) The Clean Dish.

Her recipe called for both feta and cream cheese, but since I already have a wonderful feta substitute that is a little milder and creamier than the typical dairy feta, I just replaced both cheeses with that.  This is pretty fast once the cheese is ready, but don’t forget the almond feta is a process that needs to be started ahead of time.

Simple, creamy, spicy (from optional crushed red peppers).  Definitely a winner.  Really…how could you not love peppers that are wearing teeny, tiny hats?

In the future, if I’m likely to have leftovers, I’ll prep the peppers each time I want them and just keep the filling in a piping bag in the fridge until I need them.  Peppers tend to get a little yucky in the fridge once they’re cut.

Almond Feta Stuffed Peppers

Almond Feta Stuffed Mini Peppers (adapted from The Clean Dish)

NGREDIENTS
  • 15 mini sweet peppers
  • 1 recipe Almond Feta (recipe follows)
  • 4 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Wash peppers, cut off top and enough of the bottom so the pepper will stand upright and carefully carve out the inside. Set peppers aside.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. (I used a stick blender with the whisk attachment, but I think a wooden spoon would work with just a little more effort)
  3. Using a pastry bag and tip (I used a 12) start filling peppers and top of with matching “hat”. (you could fill with a spoon but it would be messier)
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve! Enjoy!

 

Almond “Feta”

    • 11/ cup slivered almonds (these are already blanched)
    • ¼ cup lemon juice
    • ½ cup cold water
    • 3 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (or 1 fresh garlic clove)
    • 1 ¼ tsp. salt

1. Place almonds in medium bowl  and cover with cold water. They will soak up some of the water so give it an inch or two of water above the almonds.  Let soak 12 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.

2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor until VERY smooth and creamy, at least 6 minutes.  Probably more like 10.

3. Place strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. If yours isn’t very liquid-y, don’t squeeze much or you’ll lose valuable cheese :)

4. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Put the cheese, strainer and bowl in the refrigerator and chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid.  I rarely have any excess liquid beyond a few drops, but the chilling/aging time is important for the taste of the “feta”

5. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-8 inch round about between 1/2 & 3/4 inch thick. (I prefer the larger, flatter round unless I’m going to serve it without crumbling)

6. Bake 80 minutes, or until the cheese has a nice little crust to the top and starts to crack.  Cool.  Then crumble into a container and chill.  I’ve kept this in the refrigerator for about 5 days with no problem.  It may keep longer, but it has never lasted that long at my house!

Completely Board Post #5: Jello Pretzel Salad

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

 

You know how are there some foods that you think probably should disgust you, but for some reason you just can’t make yourself not want them?  They’re usually born out of the 60s and 70s, the decades of all things processed being thrown into a casserole dish together.

For me this Jello Pretzel Salad falls into that category.  I feel like I shouldn’t have wanted it.  I tried not to want it.  I couldn’t stop wanting it.  I wanted it so badly that even though the pin I pinned initially went to just a photo, I hunted down the recipe that went with the photo.  I found it over at The Girl Who Eats Everything (consider this your non-vegan site warning).  She posted the recipe noting a source of Lisa Poulsen.  There was no link to her site if she has one.

As in Septembers past, I like to have a little something sweet for my veggieversary (7 years today!).  I was initially planning on making a cake for today and saving this post for later in the week, but plans change and I just didn’t get to the cake yet.  It will be coming later in the month.   But for now, let me introduce you to a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free “jello” pretzel salad.

Vegan "jello" pretzel salad

We’ve had some nasty weather this week, and it’s already not the most photogenic of dishes so the picture isn’t as pretty as I wish it were. But, let me tell you, the photo does not do the tastiness of this dish justice.  My lovely testers had seconds the first night and there have been third (and possibly fourth helpings since then).  It’s kinda labor intensive and pricey, but it’s a great treat that will show up again.  Our household of three gives it six very enthusiastic thumbs up.  We decided it would be perfect to take to a pot luck or cookout.

The real difference between the original and this one is that I didn’t have anything to use for Cool Whip (although I hear that So Delicious is coming out with one soon).  So, I made a homemade vanilla pudding/filling that I’ve made before and mixed that with the cream cheese and sugar.  Instead of a fluffy center, this one had a cream cheesy-custardy center.  Honestly, I think I liked that better than I would have the other anyway.

So here ya go…

Vegan “Jello” Pretzel Salad

Ingredients

  • 1  – 8 oz bag of gluten free pretzels (i used the little round ones from Ener-g. It’s the only one I know that’s soy-free), chopped/crushed
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy free earth balance
  • 1 pkg Simply Delish strawberry dessert jel  (I found it at this great little local store that carries a lot of gluten free & vegan items.  I’ve seen similar items at my local Asian market)
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, washed, capped, and sliced
  • 1 carton Daiya plain cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Filling (recipe follows)

Instructions

  1. Combine pretzels, brown sugar, and melted Earth Balance and press into a greased 9 X 13 pan. You can use more EB if the crust isn’t sticking together and make the pretzels more crushed than I did. Bake @ 350 for 10 minutes.  (those instructions about not sticking together came from the original recipe, but even though mine didn’t look like it would stay together, it did…i like the slightly bigger pieces of pretzel for crunch – you can see the size i used in the photo)
  2. Make vanilla filling (recipe follows). Let cool for a minute or two but not so long that it starts to set more.
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in vanilla filling. Spread mixture over cooled crust make sure you spread completely to the edges to create a seal so your jello doesn’t leak through. Cover the filling layer with a piece of parchment paper so it doesn’t form a pudding skin. Refrigerate.  (it will need to set about 30-40 minutes before you add the strawberry layer)
  4. Make dessert according to directions and stir in the strawberries. Refrigerate until partially set (mine took about 30 minutes) *If it is not set enough it will leak through your cream cheese layer and make your pretzels soggy.
  5. Pour/spread strawberry layer over the vanilla layer.  Refrigerate until completely set.

 

Vanilla Pudding/Filling

3 cups almond milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, combine 1 cup of almond milk and cornstarch with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved.

Whisk in the remaining milk, the sugar and salt.

Whisking occasionally, bring mixture to a boil over medium heat.

As soon as the mixture boils, reduce heat to low and begin whisking continuously until it filling has thickened. This should take about 7 minutes.

Stir in vanilla.

 

Completely Board Post #4: Pumpkin Spice Latte Quinoa Casserole

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are good for Saturday morning brunch.  So when I saw this beautiful Pumpkin Spice Latte Quinoa Casserole, I was so there.  Seriously…pumpkin, coffee, and a sweet crumble crust all wrapped up with the protein-y goodness of quinoa.  How could it be a miss?

pumpkinQuinoaCasserole

The author of original recipe over at Healthful Pursuit said she liked it even better the next day cold.  So, I set out Friday night to whip up this bad boy.  I’d have a little snack of it on Friday night and then look forward to it cold for part of Saturday morning’s breakfast.  Mmmm…so excited.

The directions were easily followed and it cooked pretty much as expected (I had to add 5 minutes cooking time to the first cook of the quinoa).  I got out my little bowl and dug right in.  And? Meh.

It wasn’t bad.  And I could see where other people might like it, so don’t let me completely discourage you.  But, I didn’t love it.  I couldn’t even put my finger on what I didn’t like.  I couldn’t tell if it was too much spice or too little, or something completely different.  That sounds strange, I know, but that’s what happened.

Not willing to give up on a casserole based on a pumpkin spice latte (sounds amazing, right?), I had another helping for breakfast on Saturday.  I ate it cold as suggested.  And? Still meh.

My two lovely Vegan MoFo testers (my mom and my sister) had basically the same reaction.  My mom even liked it less because she doesn’t generally like quinoa anyway.

On the upside, I did learn that you could cook quinoa in the oven in a casserole dish.  I see this having some yummy, savory applications (vegetable broth, quinoa and mushrooms, anyone?)

So there you have it.  This pin is one that I’ll just delete once I get the quinoa to liquid ratio required for baking quinoa.  Not a total miss I guess, but not one I’d bother with again.

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You can find the recipe by clicking on the image of my original pin below

Pumpkin Spice Latte Quinoa Casserole

Completely Board Post #3: Endurance Crackers

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

I’ve always been competitive.  I like to play.  I like to win.  I can lose with grace, but I don’t like it. So when I saw a recipe for “Endurance Crackers” that asked the question “Whose butt do you want to kick today?” I was all in. Because, obviously, the answer to that question is “everyone’s!” I like seeds and I like crackers, but what I liked the best was the promise to crush the competition.

The problem was when I originally pinned this recipe over a year ago, there was no competition. Somewhere in my early teens, I quit playing sports. Sure, I took classes in high school and college, and I was always competitive about it, but I never played on a team again. My body quit, but my heart never has.  I’ve always had this woman inside of me, no matter how much I tried to shut her up and told her she wasn’t good enough, who is inspired by athletes and had a fire to be one herself.  So, earlier this year, in an effort to break out of my comfort zone and feed that woman, I started taking tennis classes.  I haven’t had any real competitions yet, but it looks like I might be on my town’s 2.5 tennis team this fall.  I’m nervous and excited about that.  I’m far from calling myself good, but I’m improving every week, I’m working hard, and I’m having so.much.fun.

While I realize these crackers aren’t going to be a magic potion to help me win anything, they are full of healthful seeds that can easily fit into a nutritious diet.  I’m highly affected by what goes in my mouth, so any healthful food choices will definitely affect my game.

Endurance Crackers

I have to say the Completely Board project is 3 for 3 so far.

I like the lightly toasted flavor of the seeds and the light (but not too light) onion, garlic and salt flavors.  For additional flavor, I used Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning.  This had a super strong smell coming out of the oven, so I expected the taste to be super strong and almost avoided trying them.  But, when they cooled, the smell and the flavor was really mild.  It’s an optional ingredient, so leave it out if you don’t like it.

I also like the fact that this is a way to eat the smaller seeds like chia and sesame without them being dropped all over the floor.  These crackers stayed together really well.

One little thing I did differently that I think made it easier than the original recipe was this: I cut the sheet of crackers into just two pieces before flipping them.  Then, I cut them into smaller pieces after flipping.  The other way would certainly work, but this just seemed easier.

I have tennis class tonight and had a couple of these this morning.  I’ll get back to you on whether they help me kick butt. ;)

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For the original recipe on Oh She Glows, click on the image of my pin below   Click Pin Image to see original recipe for Endurance Crackers

Completely Board Post #2: Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, I did some menu planning testing earlier this year. One of the things I became fond of (read: addicted to) during that was chia pudding. Before that, I had always been a little afraid to try it. Little did I know it would become one of my favorite breakfasts. So, when I started looking through my Pinterest boards to decide what to try for MoFo, I jumped at this one. I pinned it from Don’t Get Mad, Get Vegan last year during MoFo and, like most of my other pins, I kinda forgot about it…until now.

If you’ve been afraid to try chia pudding before, fear no longer. It’s really super simple and it’s delicious. If you’re afraid of the texture, try taking MamaChandra’s advice to run it through the blender after setting…it really does give a creamy pudding texture. I actually don’t mind the texture, but the look of the black chia seeds in a white pudding is a little gross to me. I can usually find my way past it, but the blender took care of that problem too.

My favorite chia pudding up until now has been a chocolate one with strawberries, nuts, and coconut, but this banana maple walnut pudding may have knocked that one off its pedestal. Sweet, but not too sweet. Creamy with a little crunch from the walnuts (and the few cacao nibs I added). It’s like banana nut bread in a glass. Nom nom nom.

Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding

The only thing I think I would do differently next time is a little more chia or a little less milk because it was just a little thinner than I like.

In case you are wondering, yes, I do always put my chia pudding in a cocktail glass. What better occasion to break out the glasses than a healthful breakfast on a brand new day?

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To get the original recipe from “Don’t Get Mad, Get Vegan”, just click on the image of my pin below.

Banana Maple Walnut Chia Pudding

 

Completely Board Post #1: Nacho Seasoned Roasted Chickpeas

In case you missed the introduction yesterday, Veg-am will be “Completely Board” this month as I attempt to cook through some of my ignored Pinterest boards.  Some Pins are already vegan/gluten-free/soy-free, some are going to get a conversion by yours truly.

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

I’ll be starting off with a few simple recipes for two reasons.  One – I wasn’t home this weekend to begin preparing.  And, two – the simple ones are more likely to end up in my regular menu rotation and I want this month to be helpful to me too :).  But don’t worry, there will be some desserts, some recipes that need converting, and probably even a couple that will make me ask “what I was I thinking?” because really, it wouldn’t be a real MoFo for me if I didn’t ask that at least 2 or 3 times.

And with that, it’s time to get “Completely Board”…

Earlier this year, I did some menu planning testing for Cara over at Fork and Beans.  While doing that, I made my first attempt at  roasted chickpeas.  It was love at first bite.  Not long after that, I saw this recipe on Vega’s website for nacho seasoned roasted chickpeas.  I immediately put it on my Pinterest board with the caption “Yes, Please.”

Nacho Seasoned Roasted Chickpeas
I didn’t have to change a thing in the ingredients and these were super simple to throw together.  They weren’t exactly nacho flavored, but they were a nice lightly spiced, salty replacement.  I see a lot of these in my future.

Notes:
1. I cooked these for 50 minutes.  Even at that, they weren’t all crunchy, but some of them were.  Any longer and some would have been burned.   I still wonder just how they get the store bought roasted chickpeas crunchy like a chip.

2. Bear in mind that chili powder (which is called for here), is not the same as chile powder.  Chile powder is just ground peppers.  Chili powder is a mixture of chile powder along with some other spices that cut the heat (often cumin & garlic).

3. While I like roasted chickpeas as a snack, I like them even more as a salad topping.  I can’t wait to sprinkle these on one tomorrow.

For the original recipe, just click on the image of my original Pin below.

nachoseasonedchickpeapin

Happy Vegan MoFo 2014!

It’s so hard to believe it’s September already! I am traveling home today and i won’t get in for several more hours so, I won’t get a new post done today. But, i wanted to check in via my phone and give a little introduction to Vegan MoFo here at Veg-am.

It seems that I have subconsciously renamed my food boards on Pinterest to “pins to ignore.” No more. This month I plan to make (at least) 20 items from my food boards. Some will already be vegan and gluten/soy free and I’ll just make and review them. Other posts will be converted recipes. I’ll try to post a warning if the original has non veggie photos.

Even though I don’t have a new post today, I did convert a recipe last year that I found in Pinterest for this yummy pumpkin roll, so I’ll just do a little throwback link

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Pumpkin Roll | Veg-am

Click for last year’s post

Looking forward to spending this MoFo with you as Veg-am becomes “Completely Board”