Easy Play Date Snack

Queenie had a friend over the other day.  A friend who happens to be gluten-free.  Here’s what we whipped up:  home-made hummus, a variety of heirloom carrots, and some gf (rice-based) crackers.  Queenie also said her friend likes coconut water, so we had some on hand.  Easy and yummy.

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Enjoy!  xo

Oh She Glows, Indeed!

If you haven’t already discovered it, I want to recommend a wonderful blog called “Oh She Glows” by Angela Liddon.  It’s really fun, well done and chock-full of terrific recipes.  There’s even an Oh She Glows Cookbook that came out in March.  I don’t have my hands on it yet, but I certainly will at some point soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a recent recipe from the blog because it was insanely good.  So good that Queenie and I are wildly craving it all the time.  Since it’s a big, delicious salad bowl, this is a very healthy addiction!  It’s called “The Nourish + Glow Miracle Bowl,” and all of the particulars can be found here:  http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/24/exciting-news-plus-the-nourish-glow-miracle-bowl/

I did a slightly abbreviated version, and I set it up salad bar style.  We did mixed greens (I’ve been loving the Organic Girl “Super Greens” these days), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, julienned carrots, avocado and hemp seeds.  In addition, I made Liddon’s Sun-dried Tomato Hummus (SO good and super easy) and her Creamy Lemon Dill Dressing (YUM!!!).  This all came together in a divinely tasty and, yes, nourishing bowl.  The addition of the hummus elevated the usual salad (nothing against usual salads) and made it even more filling.  Queenie and I both polished off huge vats of it, and it’s going to be in our regular rotation for sure.

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Enjoy!  xo

Open-faced Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper Mayonnaise

I have been making this recipe for many years.  Since July 2000, to be exact, which is when I pulled it from the pages of Bon Appetit magazine and veganized it.  It is easy to make and REALLY tasty, and it always pleases vegans and omnivores alike.  You can make it in your home, in your oven or on a stove-top grill pan; you can make it on your BBQ; and added bonus:  it’s great to make while camping!  The one time I went camping (no, I’m not much of a camper), I just made the red pepper mayo ahead of time, and everything else came together easily at the camp site.

To make the heavenly mayo, blend 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (from a jar), 1/4 cup vegan mayo, 1 garlic clove and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a processor until smooth.

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Next, prepare your BBQ or heat your oven.  In this particular case, I simply baked things at 400, but you can experiment to see how you prefer it (you can’t go wrong with an outdoor grill when it comes to portobellos!).  This recipe makes four servings, so you will want at least four mushrooms.  In this house, we prefer a ratio closer to 1-1/2 mushrooms per person, but just use the amount you prefer.  I remove the stems and gills of these mushrooms to make sure there’s no hidden grit.  Once you’ve done that, just wipe them down quickly (again, an anti-grit measure), then spray them on both sides with olive oil spray and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Cook until they are tender and meaty, turning them over about half way through the cooking process.  Depending on your heat source, it can range from about 10 minutes to closer to 20.  When done, they will be fork tender and delicious.  For serving, I cut them into strips.

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The original recipe calls for four thick slices of crusty country bread.  It also calls for placing one whole (unsliced) mushroom on top of each slice of bread.  I’ve amended that a bit, not only by increasing the mushroom amount per serving and slicing them, but by doubling, yes doubling, the amount of bread involved.  We don’t eat this kind of bread at home very often, but when we do, we go crazy.  We use ciabatta, which I recommend.  However much bread you end up using, slice it thickly and spray both sides with olive oil spray.  Toward the end of the mushroom’s cooking time, add the bread slices to the grill or oven.  You want them to get a bit toasted and crispy on the outside, but still be tender and luscious on the inside.  This should take no more than 5 minutes.

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While the mushrooms and bread are cooking, prepare your greens.  You need about 4 cups of greens.  I usually use baby spinach (what the recipe recommended), but this time I used a mix of baby “super greens,” baby kale, tatsoi, spinach and various other tasty things.  Prepare a dressing by transferring 2 tablespoons of your red pepper mayo to a large bowl.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, add the greens and toss to coat.  Divide the greens among your dinner plates.

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Place bread slice(s) on top of the greens.  Put the mushrooms on top of the bread.  Spoon red pepper mayo over each and serve.  The flavors and consistencies are wonderful, and the mayo sauce will soak into the bread in just the right way.  Yum.

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Enjoy!  xo

Soba Bowl with Shiitake Dashi and Greens

For breakfast this morning, I made a new recipe from the Vedge cookbook by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby.  If you’re not familiar with Vedge, it is a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia owned and operated by husband-and-wife team, Landau and Jacoby.  From what I’ve heard, it’s quite swoon-worthy.  I’ve never been, but I did get my hands on their cookbook – yay!

When I came upon this soba bowl recipe, I thought it sounded tasty, but I wasn’t thinking of it for breakfast until I read that the authors have it for breakfast most mornings.  Sounded worth trying.  I’m happy to report that it was delicious and a great way to start the day.  Queenie loved it so much that she put the extra portion in a thermos and took it as part of her school lunch.  Success!

The first step is to make the shiitake dashi.  It’s very simple and well worth doing (as opposed to buying some kind of mushroom broth).  I made it yesterday so it would be ready to go this morning.  SImply simmer dried shiitakes, tamari, kombu and water for about 20 minutes, during which time it will look like this:

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Once it has cooled, strain it and you will end up with a beautiful broth.

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Next step, prep and cook your greens.  Whatever greens you have on hand should do the trick.  I happened to have kale, so that’s what I used.

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A quick note:  the recipe suggested chopping the greens first, which I did.  However, since you’re going to blanch them and then remove them from the water (with either tongs or a sieve), I recommend chopping after you’ve removed them to make catching those little bits easier!  Now, on to the blanching…

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The greens will be done very quickly, in just a couple of minutes.  Once they are ready, take them out and set them aside.  Now pop the soba in to the same pot and cook according to package directions.

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I happen to like this brand, because it’s 100% buckwheat; it takes 8 minutes to cook.

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While the noodles cook, heat your dashi.

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Once the soba are done, drain them and assemble the dish:  drizzle a bit of sesame oil in the bottom of your dish and then place greens on top.  Put some soba on top of the greens and then ladle the dashi over everything.  Garnish with sesame seeds and little strips of nori (and scallions, if you’ve got them, which I did not – next time).  Voila!

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A really lovely, warming, clean, delicious plate of food, good any time of day!

Enjoy!  xo

Veggie Delight

Sometimes I structure a meal around a main course, but sometimes I’m in the mood for an assortment of veggie dishes, more of a “side plate sampler.”  Yesterday, that’s what I whipped up for lunch and we all devoured the results.  Lots of simple dishes came together for one delicious feast.

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There was broccoli with garlic and red pepper flakes…

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… zucchini with fresh mint…

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… and for a contrast of color and a blast of sweet flavor, roasted yams.

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The star of this plate, for me anyway, was the roasted asparagus with wasabi mayo.  The asparagus is simply roasted with a little salt and pepper:

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It’s the wasabi mayo that elevates the dish.  I love this sauce so much I can pretty much put it on anything and be happy.  All you do is mix together Vegenaise, wasabi powder, soy sauce, lemon juice and a dash of something sweet (agave or sugar) to taste and voila – creamy yumminess.  I used about a cup of mayo, 2 teaspoons of wasabi (I love wasabi, so start with less), a few teaspoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and a quick drizzle of agave.

Enjoy!  xo

Muffin Mania

One of the most thoughtful, kind, wonderful people I’ve ever met happens to be one of my new Pacific Northwest friends, a woman I will dub Princess Kat (or Kat, for short).  Needless to say, I feel quite fortunate to have made such a terrific friend.  My gratitude for this connection deepened recently… when Queenie and I were stuck at home with a terrible case of the flu, Kat showed up on our doorstep with a warm, home-cooked meal at precisely the moment we needed it most.  It was incredibly delicious and centering and all-around lovely, just like its creator.

Once I was healthy again (thanks in part to that aforementioned meal!), I wanted to express my gratitude by baking Kat and her family a batch of muffins.  I turned to a healthy recipe (whole grain flour, no processed sugar) for pear ginger muffins, a recipe that I’d used successfully in the past.  As I made it, things seemed to be going well.  It’s a thick batter:

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and it yielded muffins that looked good and smelled good:

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I was in a rush and did not sample the muffins before dropping them by Kat’s house.  When I got home, I tasted one and was quite mortified by their consistency, which was more than a bit rubbery.  Not the thank-you that I was trying to create!

So this morning, I made what I dubbed the Redemption Muffins, otherwise known as my Banana Chocolate Almond Coconut Muffins (adapted from the Banana Carob muffins in Laura Matthias’ ExtraVeganZa book).  Thankfully, these turned out better.

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The dry ingredients for these muffins: spelt flour, baking powder and soda, sea salt and cinnamon.  The wet ingredients:  oil, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla soy milk, mashed bananas.  The extra tasty ingredients folded in:  chocolate chips, coconut flakes, chopped almonds.  These muffins are for when you want to pull out all the stops, as they say.

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This recipe creates a delicious, moist, flavorful muffin that should make just about anyone who eats it happy.  I’m hoping that Princess Kat loved them and that they captured just a little of how fabulous I think she is.

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Enjoy!  xo

 

Baked Ziti Heaven

Well, technically, this is Baked Penne, but it’s the same concept:  Yummy, melty, Italian-inspired goodness.  This recipe was created by the very talented Allison Rivers Samson, a vegan alchemist!  It originally appeared as part of the wonderful column that she used to write for VegNews called “Veganize It,” specifically the May/June 2009 issue.  If you don’t happen to have that issue sitting around, you’re in luck – all of her Veganize It recipes are on her website.  Every single one that I’ve ever made has been delicious, so I urge you to spend some time exploring.  In addition, this is the same Allison of Allison’s Gourmet fame, maker of wonderful sweets to enjoy and give as gifts.  Mint patties and fudge and cookies and salted caramels – oh my!

There are a few components to this dish.  First, you will combine cooked penne with a tomato sauce.  I made the sauce in Allison’s recipe, because it is just perfect with this recipe, but if you’re in a hurry, you can substitute a jarred sauce.  I would suggest looking for one that is simple in its flavors and a bit on the thick side.

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Another component is the divine macadamia nut ricotta.  It is light and fluffy and truly fabulous.  I use it in other dishes where a dose of ricotta would be nice, so it’s great to have in your repertoire.  If you have a nut allergy, however, you could use a tofu-based ricotta, but it won’t be quite as light and will be missing the hint of sweetness that the nuts impart.

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The final component is Allison’s cashew cream.  Yum!  It has a nice acidity that balances the sweetness of the tomatoes and the macadamia nuts.  Delicious.

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Mix them all together and what do you have?  Magic!!!

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Here is the complete recipe:  http://blog.allisonsgourmet.com/2013/03/11/saucy-cheesy-vegan-baked-ziti/

Enjoy!  xo