Monthly Archives: June 2013

Gazpacho: The Perfect Summer Soup!

Who knew Gazpacho was so yummy?!  Who knew it would turn into my favorite summer soup?!  Not me, until now.  When I think “soup,” I think hot, and when it’s hot outside, who wants soup?!  I was requested to make a soup for a recent gathering.  A gathering that took place on a near 100 degree day.  I JUST COULDN’T bear the thought of soup.  As luck would have it, said gathering happened just after this blog went to 35,000 views, and a friend had suggested Gazpacho as a celebration recipe.  I searched for recipes, altered one for things I had on hand, and it turned out GREAT!  No cooking at all!  Look how pretty–wanna bite?

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So simple; a couple of cans and a few fresh things:

ingredients

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeded, cut into small dice
  • 3 TBSP red onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (just the yellow part–the white part is bitter!)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley (I like flat-leaf Italian parsley)

Puree both cans of tomatoes in a blender and transfer to a bowl.

tomatoes in blender

Peel, seed and chop the cucumber.

seed and cut cucumber

Chop the yellow pepper.

cut pepper half

Mince the onion.

mince onion

Zest the lemon.

lemon zest

Stir them into the tomatoes, cover and chill for at least 25 minutes, or up to overnight.

all veggies in

Just before serving, season with parsley, salt and pepper.

add parsley salt pepper

Ladle into serving dishes, I used juice glasses my Mom bought for me in Mexico–perfect!

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So, so yummy!  So much flavor and NO FAT!!!  Perfectly spiced, wonderfully chilled.  JUST the soup for a hot summer day!

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Filed under dairy-free, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, Vegetarian

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Just before this blog went over 35,000 views, I posed a question on Facebook asking what I should make to celebrate the big number.  One friend suggested Gazpacho, one suggested something sweet and another suggested these very cupcakes as she perused my newest cookbook purchase, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  (A must-have if you’re vegan, for the recipes, tips and snarky commentary.)

vegan-cupcakes-take-over-the-world

Here’s the description from the cookbook: “Our favorite warm and toasty drink made into a cupcake-able form.  These have a subtle, crunchy top and a very moist interior with a delicate crumb thanks to the addition of coconut milk.  The corn flour and almonds give it an interesting texture that’s a lot like the drink (Mexican hot chocolate has pleasantly gritty bits in it), and just a little bit of cayenne gives it a spicy kick.”  Ummmm…exactly!

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Mine sank a bit in the middle, possibly due to expired baking powder or uneven heating (info from the troubleshooting portion of Vegan Cupcakes!), but not to worry–they really DO taste like Mexican Hot Chocolate!  Gather ingredients and see for yourself!

ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 TBSP ground flaxseed (find in the bulk section of a natural foods mart)
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP corn flour (I used masa harina.  Corn meal is way too gritty!)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (found with specialty flours in some bigger grocery stores, for sure at natural food stores)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (up to 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

For topping:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners (recipe makes 12 cupcakes).

Whisk together coconut milk and ground flaxseeds and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

flax and milk

In another bowl, sift together: all purpose flour, corn flour, almond meal, cocoa,baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

dry ingredients

Whisk sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract into the coconut mixture.

wet ingredients

Gently add wet to dry and fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  I use an ice cream scoop sprayed with cooking spray to do this.  Bake 22-25 minutes–until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a rack.

divide into pan

Sift a layer of confectioners sugar on the tops of the cooled cupcakes, then sift on cocoa, keeping more to the center, then cinnamon.  TADA!  Keep ’em in the fridge for a nice cool “hot chocolate.”  😉  A totally yummy way to celebrate 35,000 views!

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Broccoli Rice Cups

The other day, a friend posted a recipe for broccoli rice cups on her Facebook timeline.  They involved cheese and eggs, which reminded me of the tofu mixture in a recent gratin recipe.  Could I somehow combine the two ideas and come up with Somethin’ Yummy?!  I tried it out on my usual test subjects, and the verdict came in like this:  vegan hubby sez yummy, non-vegan son sez I’d like a couple for breakfast with an over-easy egg and some cheese.  I thought they were mighty fine.  Have a look:

broccoli rice cups

I could have eaten them all.  I didn’t take a bunch of pictures like usual, but wanted to share this idea, because now I’m thinking of all sorts of “cups,” as individually portioned breakfasts and side dishes.  Let’s brainstorm those in a bit.  First, here’s how it all started today.

I made rice before I went to work today–1 cup brown rice, 2 cups water; boil and simmer covered 50 minutes.  When I got home, I cut up a “head” of broccoli, mainly the floret part, and steamed it for 5 minutes.  A head in this case was the amount packaged together by the grocery store.  I set my oven to 350F, and sprayed a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Then, I made the tofu mixture from the Potato, Spinach and Summer Squash recipe, adding enough non-dairy milk to make it somewhat pourable–1/2-3/4 cup total.  I mixed the steamed broccoli, cooked rice and tofu mixture together, divided it evenly into the muffin pan, and discovered I needed room for a couple more.  I sprayed a couple cups in a second pan, filled them with my remaining mixture and popped ’em in the oven for 35 minutes.

Ta-Da!  I was lucky enough to have a couple ripe tomatoes in the garden today and sliced a few for the tops, along with a fresh basil leaf.  Perfect flavor combination! The baked cups lifted cleanly out of the pan without needing to cool at all.  I thought they needed a bit of salt and pepper after the first taste; an easy fix.

broccoli rice cups

So what do you think?  I have a vegan chorizo that’s just screaming to be a part of a breakfast cup, along with some green onion and green pepper?  How about turning the potato squash gratin into little cups?  Asparagus!  Black beans and chorizo!  Potato, green pepper, red onion and mushroom!  How about cooked macaroni and frozen peas to make little mac and “cheese” cups–maybe with a few bread crumbs baked on top!  What flavors will you try?

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, lunch, Potluck, recipe, side dish, snack, Vegetarian

Thai Peanut Veggies with Pasta

Pressed for time and tired of take-out?  Want somethin’ yummy using stuff you already have on hand?  Love the hot nutty wonderfulness of a Thai peanut sauce?  Look no further, my vegan friends; dinner will be chopstick-ready in no time.  (And for you non-vegans, stir in some rotisserie chicken if you like, but I’m thinking you ought to try it as written here–you won’t miss the meat!)

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This is another fabulous recipe from The Fat Free Vegan.  If you’re vegan and not following her blog or Facebook yet, go do that now!  (I’ll wait here until you get back.)  I’ve altered the recipe slightly, dropping the oil, adjusting to veggies I had on hand, and adding peanuts and cilantro for toppings/garnish.

ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta, prepared according to the package (I used udon noodles)
  • 4-5 cups mixed, chopped veggies (I have red onion, broccoli, two kinds of cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots here)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder or 1 tsp fresh grated
  • 2-3 TBSP natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky  (I used chunky)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8- 1/4 tsp cayenne  (I used 1/4 tsp–we love spicy!)
  • 2-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Start heating water for your pasta and chop veggies into similar sizes.  Drop the pasta into the boiling water and saute veggies in a large pan, using veggie broth to keep them from sticking.

saute veggies

As the veggies and pasta cook, saute garlic and ginger in a bit of veggie broth for a minute or two–until aromatic.

saute garlic and ginger

Stir in peanut butter and cook until heated through and combined.  This will start sticking quickly; not to worry–the next step will release it from the bottom of the pan.

add peanut butter

Stir in water, soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne.  Mix until smooth–as smooth as you can get with chunky peanut butter, that is!  Add more water or more peanut butter to adjust the thickness to your liking.

add liquid and cayenne

Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

toss with pasta

Stir/toss in the veggies.

toss with veggies

Serve with sliced green onions, peanuts and cilantro.  How easy was that?!

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Perfect for a busy weeknight, fabulous for company, special enough for date night.  Delicious and more spicy for lunch the next day!  Yummy!  We love to use chopsticks for Asian foods…do you?

 

 

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Filed under dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian

Potato, Spinach, and Summer Squash Gratin AND Becky’s Famous Roasted Asparagus!

My non-vegan friends are often curious about what I can and can’t eat.  “I’d miss eggs!”  “I couldn’t do without cheese!” are the most common responses.  I admit, the first month of being vegan, I did miss both.  But now with recipes like this, those cravings are a thing of the past.  I found myself drooling just now while editing the images for this post.

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Today’s post is based on this recipe from The Fat Free Vegan.  A few weeks ago, I made it very similarly to the original, subbing broccoli and kale for the broccoli rabe (because that’s what was in the fridge!).  It was love at first frittata-y, gratin-y, quiche-y bite, and I knew I’d found more than a recipe; I’d found a method I could apply to many of my former egg custard type recipes.  Oh stratas, how I’ve missed you!  Anyway, if you’re already vegan, you probably have what you need in your fridge.  Sub in whatever veggies you like/have on hand.  The potatoes make it hearty and filling, so I’d recommend keeping them to serve this as a main dish.

ingredients

For the Gratin:

  • 1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste for each layer
  • a small package of baby spinach, blanched
  • 1 smallish yellow squash, cut into half-moons and steamed
  • 1 smallish zucchini, cut into half moons and steamed
  • 1 (12 oz) package extra firm tofu, drained but not pressed of all its liquid
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 heaping TBSP potato or corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil or 2 tsp fresh chopped basil

For Becky’s Famous Roasted Asparagus:

  • 1 pound trimmed asparagus
  • cooking spray
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F, and spray a 2 qt casserole or gratin dish.  Wash and cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and arrange in a single layer on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside until ready to assemble your gratin.

chop and bake potatoes

While potatoes bake, cut squash into half-moons and steam until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.  Blanch the spinach in boiling water until just wilted and drain.

slice and steam squash

In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and pourable, adding additional non-dairy milk as needed.

tofu etc in blender

Assemble the gratin, starting with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

layer potatoes first

Next, layer on the spinach, season with salt and pepper.

layer blanched spinach

Then layer the squash on top of the spinach.  Separate by color if you like or mix them.  Again, sprinkle salt and pepper.

layer steamed squash

Pour the tofu mixture over the top, and using a spoon, gently move the veggies around without mixing the layers to allow the tofu mixture to get in between.  Smooth the top.

pour tofu mixture

Bake 40-50 minutes, until the liquid has thickened, feels firm and is golden brown on top.  Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

bake til firm and golden

While the gratin bakes, prepare Becky’s Famous Roasted Asparagus.  Lay trimmed asparagus in  single layer on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt.  While the gratin rests, bake the asparagus for 10-15 minutes–until you can smell it and the tips start to brown.

spray, salt and roast asparagus

Serve up wedges of gratin with roasted asparagus on the side.  OMGosh, so, so yummy!  The smooth, gooey, almost cheesy texture and consistency of the gratin is very reminiscent of those eggy, custardy favorites.  The asparagus is a favorite around here, especially in the spring when it can be stalked and harvested in the wild in the fields between Becky’s and my house.  Her method also works with green beans (I added pressed garlic–yum!), and Brussels sprouts.

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My son, currently not-vegan, thought the squash version was better than the broccoli version and suggested it would also be yummy for breakfast.  And it was!  He had his with an over-easy egg and cheese on top, Michael and I enjoyed it as is.  (Michael’s with hot sauce, as usual!)

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What will be in your gratin/quiche/fritatta/strata?!

 

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, Gluten-free, lunch, Potluck, recipe, Vegetarian

Middle Eastern Feast

Fattoush, Falafel and Hummus!  Oh my!  Oh yummy!

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I bought garbanzo flour a while ago for some reason…don’t remember what the original plan was, but since, I’ve used it in spicy black bean burgers (yum!) and when I did, noticed a recipe for falafel on the side of the package.  Then I found a recipe for fattoush, a chopped Middle Eastern salad, in a magazine.  I always have chick peas in the pantry, so a feast was hatched!

the feast

The ingredient list is somewhat lengthy, but has everything you need for the entire fattoush, falafel and hummus feast:

ingredients

For the Fattoush:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP white wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 sp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups chopped romaine ( I used baby greens from my garden)
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into half-moons
  • 1 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

For the Falafel:

  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes (or 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp round coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup hot water

For the Hummus:

  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained, reserve the liquid from one can
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp chili powder ( I used chipotle powder for the heat and the smokiness)

For serving:

  • pita breads, warmed

Start with the salad.  Place the greens in a large bowl.  Prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, and mint; add them to the greens and toss.  Whisk the dressing together in a pourable container like a measuring cup: olive oil, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Set aside to dress just before serving.

set salad and dressing aside

Now the falafel patties.  Mix the dry ingredients (garbanzo flour, salt, baking soda, cumin, coriander, garlic and onion powders) in a medium bowl.

mix dry ingredients

Add lemon juice and hot water, stir until combined and let rest for 10 minutes.

add wet and let rest

While the batter rests, make the hummus.  Combine all the ingredients (garbanzos, garlic, lemon juice, chili powder) in a food processor except the bean liquid.  Process until smooth, add enough bean liquid to achieve the texture you like, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a bowl, garnish with chopped parsley and set aside.

hummus

Back to the falafel.  Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Drop batter by tablespoons into the pan and flatten slightly.  Work in batches–the pan I used was big enough to only have two batches–about 14 patties total.

drop by tbsp and flatten

I used a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop–makes this process even easier!

use a cokie scoop

Turn, cooking each side to a pretty golden brown.

fry til golden on both sides

Heat pitas in the microwave, toaster, or grill them (yummy!).  Cut into wedges.

Dress the fattoush and assemble the rest of the feast.

the feast

Eat each thing separately, or dip the pita wedges in the hummus, or open the wedges and spread with hummus, adding a falafel patty and make little sandwiches….or any combination.  Go with your yum.

yum2Relax with some minty iced tea and have a comfortably casual and yummy feast.

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I cut the salad ingredients in half and ended up using only part of the halved dressing.  Flavor the hummus to your liking–wasabi (thanks, Chris!) is awesome, smoked paprika gives a milder heat, roasted red pepper is classic.

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, Gluten-free, lunch, recipe, salad, Vegetarian

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

I’ve always loved cookbooks, something I get from my Mom.  Becoming vegan was not only a lifestyle change, it was the perfect reason to collect a few more cookbooks!  One of them, Veganomicon, was recommended by a vegan friend for both “the great recipes and the snarky commentary.”  An unbeatable combo, indeed.

veganomicon

The other day, my neighbor told me how she wanted to make a summery meal and decided on black bean burgers.  She made her beans from dried, cooked in a crock pot with veggies and mashed them all together with some flour and voila, yummy vegan burgers that held together and were, well, burger-y!  Being a last minute sort of person, and a person who occasionally shares recipes and therefore needs specific measurements, I went looking for a similar-sounding recipe that started with canned beans.  Veganomicon to the rescue!  I stayed fairly true to the recipe, just changing out gluten-y parts for gluten-free.

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ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked or 1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup chick pea/garbanzo flour
  • 1 tsp chile powder (I used ground chipotle chile powder–smoky, hot, wonderful!)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional, but if you love cilantro, definitely put it in!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1/2 small onion, grated using the large holes of a box grater
  • cooking spray
  • buns (I used whole wheat, use gluten-free buns to keep the completed burger gluten-free)
  • toppings of your choice–black beans always remind me of Mexican food, so that’s the direction I went: whole green chiles, avocado, red onion, tomato, lettuce.  Think burrito on a bun.  🙂

Drain and mash the beans in a bowl with a fork or potato masher until mostly smooshed with a few half-beans left.

mash beans

Put all the other ingredients into the bowl, mixing with a fork, and then kneading with your hands until uniformly mixed.  Add a bit more chick pea flour if the mixture is unbearably sticky.  A little sticky is OK.

add everything

Divide into six equal pieces and roll each into a ball.  Place the balls onto parchment or wax paper and flatten with the palm of your hand.

divide into 6

flatten into patties

Spray a large fry pan with cooking spray and pre-heat over medium heat.  The patties will want to stick to the paper–rip the paper around each patty and use the paper to transfer them to the pan.  Cook 3 patties at a time, 5 minutes each side.  Patties should be very firm when cooked.

cook 3 at a time

Slather a warmed or toasted bun with the spread of your choice and dress your burger with however many fun condiments you wish.  OMG sooooo yummy!

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The recipe says these burgers freeze well once cooked:  pack them in a resealable plastic bag with waxed paper between each patty.  Reheat in a 350F oven for 25-30 minutes.  (I’m gonna try microwaving them like pre-packaged frozen veggie burgers.)   Bring on the summer BBQ meals!  Let’s have another look at this uh-maze-ingly yummy burger…

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This recipe is soooo yummy, I marked up the page with 5 stars and the small changes I made.  Do you make notes in the margins of your recipe books?

notes

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Filed under dairy-free, dinner, Gluten-free, lunch, Potluck, recipe, Vegetarian