vegan mofo 2012

Smoothie a la Avocado

This is quite possibly the most perfect avocado that I’ve ever cut into.  The color and texture were just right.  What made it even better was that my sister bought it and left it at my house for me!

Since my dad has been home from the hospital and started treatment, he’s been doing a great job of eating mostly veg and tries pretty much anything I make him.

He’s even been drinking carrot-apple juice and a green smoothie every day!  So so proud of him for trying new things.

Today’s smoothie was blueberry, apple, banana, part of this avocado, almond milk and kale.  He mentioned it was a little thicker so he couldn’t just “toss it down” like usual. (I thought it was great.  He’s still adjusting)I’m sure it was the avocado, but I’m not sure I’m going to tell him that 😉

By the way, Dad’s favorite things have been a version of the Unfried Rice from Appetite for Reduction (chock full of broccoli, chickpeas, carrots, peas and topped with toasted almonds) and the Black Bean Brownies from Super Immunity.

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Classics are Classics for a Reason: Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the tv world, the classics are in re-runs. Really…what could be better than Wally borrowing the Beav’s “turtle dirt” to make it look like they had taken a bath?

Today has just been one of those days.  I had three different options of what I wanted to post today (which means you get at least 3 more classics when I get them done) and none of them worked out for today.

So in true classic style,  I’m going to do a re-run from 2008.  It’s one of the few things I made in 2008 that I haven’t really changed.  They are a staple in my party attendance, party hosting and Christmas cookie baskets.  Besides, what discussion of food classics would be complete without a chocolate chip cookie?

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For the last couple months I’ve been desperate for a good chocolate chip cookie. It’s not that chocolate chip cookies are really a need, but when you haven’t had one in over a year, it surely seems that way. I finally found a recipe I thought I could work from! The 
original recipe was posted by Isa on the ppk

I deglutenized and changed a couple other things to meet my needs/preferemces. I usually have to try a recipe a couple times before I get the flour substitution just right, but I hit a winner first time with this one. My friend Sherry is often very hesitant about trying my cooking for fear that I will make her try something weird. When she tried these, she told me she didn’t really care what was in them and not to change a thing. Then she packed up a few and took them home.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about two dozen two inch cookies (I actually got 21)



















Flour mixture:
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup garfava (garbanzo and fava bean) flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum

3/4 cup turbinado sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened rice milk
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life chips – they are vegan and soy/gluten free)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two large metal baking sheets.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour mixture with a whisk or a fork. Be sure to combine them really well so the xanthan will be evenly mixed through. Set aside.

Mix together sugar, oil, milk and 1 Tbsp tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, for about 2 minutes, until it resembles smooth caramel. There is a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collide, so it’s important that you don’t get lazy about that step. Mix in the vanilla.

Add 1 cup of the flour mixture, the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough is a little sticky, so you’ll probably have to use your hands to get the chips really mixed in. For most of the cookies I’ve made, the gluten free version is much different from a “regular” cookie dough (less stiff, gooey-er) — they will still work.

For about 2 dozen two inch cookies roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes* until they are just a little browned around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

The only little tweak I’ve made since 2008, is that now  I flatten them a little before they bake.  It’s more of an aesthetic thing, so it’s not necessary, but they look more like a classic chocolate chip cookie and less like a little pillow. 



Classics are Classics for a Reason: Potato Salad

Still visiting the classics…

At the age of 11, I had a favorite restaurant that was chosen almost entirely on its ability to produce the best potato salad ever (sorry, Mom…but admit it, you liked theirs too).  Although I have been cooking for almost as long as I can remember, I think I was in my late 20s before I realized that making potato salad isn’t magic. ( Well, theirs might have been because I’ve never quite been able to recreate it.  Or maybe I just can’t recreate it the way the 11 year old inside me remembers it.)  It’s not even hard. In fact, when you’re accustomed to cooking most of your food at home, it’s one of the easiest things around.

Fast forward several years, when I went vegan and there was no such thing as soy-free vegan mayo, I mostly gave up on potato salad again.  (Though it does even work with beannaise if you don’t have access to a store-bought mayo you can use.) But now, we live in a world where a classic, soy-free vegan potato salad is no longer a mythical potluck dish.

D’s Favorite Potato Salad
(a variation on the Better Homes & Gardens Classic Potato Salad)
makes about 12 side dish servings

Ingredients:

2-1/2 pounds potatoes (about 6 yukon golds – my potato of choice, red potatoes would be good too)
1-1/4 cups soy-free vegenaise

1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
black pepper to taste

1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish or sweet pickle cubes



Directions:
Peel and cube potatoes. In a medium saucepan place potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Cool slightly

While potatoes are cooling,  in a large bowl combine mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and pickle relish or cubes.

Stir in the celery and onions.

When potatoes are cool enough (slightly warm is ok, you just don’t want them hot), add them to the dressing mix and toss lightly to coat.

Cover and chill at least 6 hours.

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If you’d like a variation on the classic, Dreena Burton’s Potato Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Vinaigrette is a good option.   I like it chilled and I leave out the black olives because I don’t like them.  Usually I leave out the artichokes too because I don’t notice much difference without them.  

Classics are Classics for a Reason: Potato Salad

Still visiting the classics…

At the age of 11, I had a favorite restaurant that was chosen almost entirely on its ability to produce the best potato salad ever (sorry, Mom…but admit it, you liked theirs too).  Although I have been cooking for almost as long as I can remember, I think I was in my late 20s before I realized that making potato salad isn’t magic. ( Well, theirs might have been because I’ve never quite been able to recreate it.  Or maybe I just can’t recreate it the way the 11 year old inside me remembers it.)  It’s not even hard. In fact, when you’re accustomed to cooking most of your food at home, it’s one of the easiest things around.

Fast forward several years, when I went vegan and there was no such thing as soy-free vegan mayo, I mostly gave up on potato salad again.  (Though it does even work with beannaise if you don’t have access to a store-bought mayo you can use.) But now, we live in a world where a classic, soy-free vegan potato salad is no longer a mythical potluck dish.

D’s Favorite Potato Salad
(a variation on the Better Homes & Gardens Classic Potato Salad)
makes about 12 side dish servings

Ingredients:

2-1/2 pounds potatoes (about 6 yukon golds – my potato of choice, red potatoes would be good too)
1-1/4 cups soy-free vegenaise

1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
black pepper to taste

1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish or sweet pickle cubes



Directions:Peel po
Peel and cube potatoes. In a medium saucepan place potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Cool slightly

While potatoes are cooling,  in a large bowl combine mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and pickle relish or cubes.

Stir in the celery and onions.

When potatoes are cool enough (slightly warm is ok, you just don’t want them hot), add them to the dressing mix and toss lightly to coat.

Cover and chill at least 6 hours.

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If you’d like a variation on the classic, Dreena Burton’s Potato Spinach Salad with Pine Nut Vinaigrette is a good option.   I like it chilled and I leave out the black olives because I don’t like them.  Usually I leave out the artichokes too because I don’t notice much difference without them.  

Classics are Classics for a Reason: Banana Puddin’ Pie

Continuing with the thought that classics are classics for a reason… While it’s true that we like things that have stood the test of time, it doesn’t hurt to mix it up.

Take “10 Things I Hate About You” for example. Same basic ingredients as “Taming of the Shrew”, but with a new spin on it.

It was no longer Shakespeare, but a classic in it’s own genre.

With that in mind, I give you …

Banana Puddin’ Pie

I don’t know if banana pudding is a classic in the rest of the world, but in the American south it is everywhere. So whip up this pie the next time you’re serving up burgers and slaw (more on those later in the month) or take it to your next picnic or potluck.  And if you’re in the south, by all means, drop the “g”.

Crust (using the instructions from the Old Fashioned Chocolate Pie at the ppk)

1-3/4 cups Vanilla Wafer crumbs (about 24 of the cookies)
4 Tbsp melted soy-free Earth Balance
3 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 Tbsp almond milk

Combine all and press into a 9″ pie plate>  (I used a deep dish so there would be room within the crust for the cream topping, but a shallow dish would work too.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.

Filling
2 cups almond milk, divided
2-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a couple dashes of turmeric, optional (just for color)
2 large, ripe bananas – sliced

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 (and turmeric if using).  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 the filling has thickened.  this should take about 7 minutes.
Stir in vanilla.

Form a layer of bananas in the bottom of crust, pour in half of pudding filling.  Then repeat with another layer of bananas and the remainder of the pudding.

Let cool for about 15 minutes, then top with a circle of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming on the pudding.  Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.

Serve with your favorite whipped topping .

I used the sweetened coconut cream from Vegan Pie in the Sky – though this batch didn’t thicken like usual.  Ideally, it would have been thick and I would have just spread a layer of it on top of the pie.  Either way, it was delicious!

Classics are Classics for a Reason: Pasta Bake

Entertaining Thought #8:

Classics are classics for a reason.  They have stood the test of time.  No matter what has come after them, people still keep coming back for more.

That goes for music  like What a Wonderful World (quite possibly the best song of all time)

It also goes for food.  Classic dishes are good when you’re having friends over for dinner.  They’re good for potlucks, picnics, meetups and socials. They’re even good when you just want to eat at home all by yourself.  They’re especially good when the folks you’re entertaining aren’t quite as open to trying new things as you are.  Pretty much the only time I wouldn’t recommend most of these dishes is when you’re hosting an appetizer/finger food party.

So for the next few days, I’m going to stick with some classics or variations of them.

Today, I’m going to start with one of my favorites: the pasta bake.

If you can make spaghetti in marinara, you can throw it in a casserole dish, top with a little Daiya mozz or breadcrumbs (or both!) and bake it. It’s probably the easiest and most popular pasta bake there is.  But today, I’m going to tell you how I make my favorite pasta bake.


It’s the Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Carmelized Onions and Sage Breadcrumb Topping from Veganomicon (click for original recipe)

When I first saw this recipe in Veganomicon, I was pretty sad because it was so gluten-y and soy-filled.  So in case that’s where you’ve been, be sad no longer!  A couple easy fixes and all this autumnal goodness can be yours.

1.  Replace the pasta with a gluten free pasta.  I use brown rice pasta for this one.  This particular time I used the Tinkyada spirals, though usually I use Trader Joe’s penne.

2.  Replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free bread crumbs.  I’ll be the first to admit the Food For Life Brown Rice Bread isn’t the best straight out of the pack.  But, it’s great for breadcrumbs (and croutons, and stuffing).  It knows how to get its crisp on.

3.  Use soy-free Earth Balance in the breadcrumb mixture(or other non-dairy soy-free butter replacement).  This is something that didn’t exist when I went soy-free so I know what it’s like to do without.  Thankfully, we don’t have to any more.  If you don’t have access to it though, a little oil in the mixture would work too.

4. For the cashew ricotta replace the tofu with 1-1/2 cups (a standard can amount) of cooked navy beans and 1/2 cup of water.  I soaked the cashews for an hour or two beforehand too, just to help with the creamy factor (but you don’t have to – just blend until smooth)  A side note – if you’re making the ricotta for another use, you might want to use a bit less water, but for this it’s perfect)

All I can say is that my mom and sister, while sad for me, weren’t all that disappointed when they found out my cancelled dinner meant they got to eat this.

You Don’t Always Get What You Want (but you can have soup)

Entertaining Thought #7:

Be flexible.  In case no one has ever told you this, let me be the one: things don’t always work out the way you planned.  Sometimes your last can of tomato paste is messed up and you have to substitute tomato sauce and figure out a way to work around it.  Sometimes you forget to buy oregano.  And sometimes, you or someone you love gets sick.  Sometimes you AND someone you love get sick.

Well, that’s what’s happened here.  I had a casual dinner and game night planned with a couple friends for tonight, and have had to cancel it.  It seemed awful to me to have to do it, but I know they want me better and I know they don’t want what I have!  So cancelling seemed like the best thing to do. (Reminding myself: Things don’t always work out the way you planned.)

I’m still going to finish prepping some of the food I had planned for tonight because I pushed through for a while yesterday and started. I will post it later in the week, but today I’m going to step back and punt.  I apologize in advance for any extra rambling/incoherence…

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I’m at home with a fever and my dad is still in the hospital.  By the way, thanks for the well wishes and prayers on that.  We’re still waiting for results but are certain it’s liver related.

Thankfully, my dad’s doctors are glad to let us fix him food that is known to help the liver.  My sister whipped him up a green smoothie this morning (I’m only allowed to touch his food that will be cooked after I’ve touched it).

But I did have enough energy this morning (though it’s gone now) to throw on a pot of  Lotsa Veggies Lentil Soup from Appetite for Reduction.

I added a tsp of turmeric (it’s extra good for the liver) and used no-salt broth/left out the extra salt because dad’s retaining fluid.  In my own bowl, I added a little garlic salt.

It’s delicious!  You don’t have to be sick to eat it, but it sure does feel good to have a hot bowl of soup when you are.

Here’s hoping you’re all well.

Remember the Kids (with vanilla wafers)

Entertaining Thought #6:

If you’re having a party that involves littles (like that Christmas open house or that family reunion), don’t forget that their tastes may be totally different from yours. Rather than focus completely on grown up fare, remember to give the kids something they’re familiar with.  It’s more comfortable for them and better for your cooking ego.

One of my favorites growing up was vanilla wafers.  Here’s a gluten-free, vegan version.(using Alton Brown’s recipe as a guide) You can serve them straight up, or make minis (reduce the cooking time) and make little peanut butter sandwiches.

Vanilla Wafers

Makes approximately 34 cookies

1 cup sorghum flour
6 Tbsp tapioca flour, divided
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soy-free Earth Balance
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
3 Tbsp almond milk
1-1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract  (yes, that’s TABLEspoon)

Using a fine mesh sieve, sift together the sorghum flour, 5 tbsp of the tapioca flour, xanthan gum and baking powder.  Set aside.

Cream the earth balance and sugar using a hand mixer on high speed for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp tapioca flour and the almond milk.  Continuing to scrape down sides as necessary, beat on high for about 1 minute until it is well blended and looks creamy (sugar granules are ok).

Add the vanilla extract and blend on low for about 15 seconds until well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.

Chill mixture for about 30 minutes.

While mixture is chilling, line 2 pans with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F

After chilling, roll dough into equal sized balls (about 1/2 Tbsp each), place on parchment paper and flatten with the palm of your hand.

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the pan then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Bring on the kids!

Breakfast always wins. Especially if it’s waffles.

Hi all!  I’m sorry I missed posting yesterday.  That was not the plan.  But when your dad unexpectedly ends up in the hospital, plans change.

But, today I am back and oh so excited about this post.

Entertaining Thought #5:

Breakfast always wins.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 am, 6pm, or 1 am, people love breakfast.  I’d serve breakfast food for almost any occasion at any time of day.  Nothing says “I’m glad you’re here” to a house guest like a leisurely breakfast in the morning.  And what’s more leisurely than waffles? I can’t think of anything unless it’s waffles while still in your pj’s.

It’s time to break out your waffle iron, some fresh fruit and the juice glasses because being gluten-free is no longer a hindrance to having amazingly good waffles.  I’ve tried the recipe for buckwheat waffles in Vegan brunch.  And they’re amazing using this gf flour mix.  But, I’ve really missed “regular” waffles for a long time. And I’ve found out (though I don’t understand it) not everybody likes buckwheat.  So here is my answer…

Classic Breakfast Waffles
Makes 4, 6″ Belgian-style waffles

First, I’ll be honest about 2 things…

1. The 4 waffle sections in the picture were not from one single waffle.  I was learning to get the iron filled right and had a couple empty edges.

2. I did not make these for company.  Although I could and would.  I made these for me.  Then I sat down to eat them while watching this week’s episode of Parenthood.  I’m glad I did because I may have been feeling really deprived when Jasmine broke out those gluten-y waffles for Jabar’s breakfast.

  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil + extra to oil the iron
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp turbinado sugar

In a small bowl, mix the milk, water & vinegar and set aside.

Using a fine mesh sieve, “sift” all the dry ingredients except for the sugar into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar to the flour mixture and combine.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture and the oil.  Whisk until smooth.  Let batter rest for about 10 minutes.

While the batter is resting, preheat your waffle iron.

Oil the waffle iron with a light brushing (most sprays have soy) and cook the waffles according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Although you don’t have to with all waffles, it was helpful to spread the batter around the iron to get full edges in the Belgian iron. Each iron is a bit different, so you might need to experiment with exactly how to get yours filled just right.


Dishing It Up

Entertaining Thought #4:

Sometimes the right dish can set the tone for your event.  Pour a soft drink into a martini glass instead of a solo cup for a party feel, use your grandma’s tea plates for finger sandwiches to fancy up a tea party, use a mason jar to serve iced tea for a square dance.  You get the idea.

They don’t even have to be expensive.  My martini glasses came from the dollar tree.  If you don’t have vintage plates, you may be able to find them at a second hand shop.  Or you could borrow dishes from a neighbor or family member.

One of my favorite mood-setting dishes are my plastic popcorn boxes. I got them from the dollar tree in packs of two.  They were perfect for my friend’s slumber party bridal shower.  They’re great for a casual movie night.  They just say “Welcome. Now, kick off your shoes, watch a movie and relax”.  (Unless you want to sit really close to someone on the couch.  Then you need to break out the share-able movie-theatre-style popcorn bucket instead. But I digress…)

I’ll be honest. I’ve never met a popcorn I didn’t like. Salty, sweet, spicy, cheesy – all Dawn-approved.  Then when I realized I could make different flavors at home, it was game on.

Lately, my two favorite popcorns have been going back and forth between:
a) earth balance, smoked salt and nutritional yeast
and
b) earth balance w/Texas Pete hot sauce mixed in and some garlic salt.

But, today there’s a new player in town and he might push someone out of the way. This is my version of an herbed popcorn I bought at Trader Joe’s.

Herbed Popcorn
serves 2-3

1/2 cup organic popping corn
2 Tbsp canola oil

1 Tbsp dried dill
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 Tbsp onion powder

3/4  tsp sea salt*

Mix all the seasonings in a small bowl with your fingertips.  Air pop the corn.  Put the canola oil in a gallon zipper bag.  Lay the bag flat and smooth the oil out in the bag so it’s not all pooled at the bottom.  When the corn has cooled a little, put it in the bag, close it (leave some air in for shaking room) and shake to get the oil on the popcorn.  Sprinkle in the seasoning mixture and shake until well distributed.  You wont get it all, but as long most of it sticks to the corn, you’re golden.  Grab a couple of friends, put in your favorite dvd and enjoy!

*Note: You may want to start out with a little less salt and taste.  You can add it, but you can’t take it away.  I actually made it with 1 tsp and it ended up being too salty in spots, so the 3/4 would be good, but still salty.  If you like a lighter salt taste, take it down even more.

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