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

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Ice Cream Sandwiches!!

We are going to dinner at the home of some friends tomorrow, and I was asked to bring a dessert.  A fun and tasty assignment!  I decided to go with ice cream sandwiches.  While these are admittedly more of a summer dessert, they are also pretty darned pleasing any time of year.

For the cookie, I went with the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from the original Babycakes cookbook by Erin McKenna.  This book is chock-full of delicious gluten-free, vegan recipes, and if you haven’t already, I recommend checking it out.

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For the filling, I used several varieties of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, specifically Mint Galactica (mint chip), Salted Caramel & Chocolate, and Vanilla.  Obviously, you can use whatever flavor appeals to you.  Whatever flavor you end up choosing, let it sit at room temperature long enough to soften and become spreadable, but not so long that it’s dripping all over the place.

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Try to pair up cookies that are as close to the same size and shape as possible, and then spread the ice cream on one side.  The trick here is to strive to have the same amount at the edges as you do in the middle.  Not a big deal, but it looks nicer and ensures that you maintain an even cookie-to-ice cream ratio throughout the eating experience.  Top with the second cookie and press down gently, smoothing out the edges and wiping off any drips.

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The final step is to put them in the freezer to firm up.  For this reason, I usually make them the day before I plan on serving them.

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Correction – the final step is to savor them!  Enjoy!  xo

Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For breakfast, I made waffles today and topped them with fruit compote.  They turned out delicious, and I liked how the fruit juice’s pale pink hue was perfect for a day centered around pink and red.

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I usually make waffles from scratch, generally from the terrific book, The Global Vegan Waffle Cookbook by Dave Wheitner.  However, today I was feeling lazy, so I just used this mix and it was simple and yummy.

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For the compote, I just dumped a bag each of frozen strawberries and frozen peaches into a sauce pan and heated until bubbly.  To assemble:  place your waffle on the plate, put a little vegan buttery spread on the waffle (optional), slather some compote on top (be sure to let some extra juice saturate it a bit), and then drizzle a bit of maple syrup over it.

Enjoy!  xo