Back to Basics: the old stand-bys and my, how far we’ve come

Sometimes, I think, I bite of more than I can chew. And I know exactly what that looks like, since my 2YO regularly has so much food shoved in her mouth that she can’t close it. Not only is it bad for digestion, it’s downright unattractive. Anyway, I digress.

“When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be….One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.”

So, I’ve done it again. This time though, it’s not at all food related. Well, not really. I’m just extra busy with my kids. It’s wonderful and I am so grateful we’ve made the choices we have, but it’s putting pressure on areas that previously had a little wiggle room. Throw in teething (two in three days – really?) and a traveling husband with funerals to attend to and soccer for my 5YO, and well, something had to give.

I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.

What had to give, sadly, has been my creativity and fancifulness in the kitchen. Dinner has become more of a 50-yard dash (and I use 50 because that’s totally a kid race and I’m totally falling back on kid food) than a loping 10K. (Marathons are pre-kid, let’s be fair.)

“My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”

                                                                                                                    ~”Of Things that Matter Most“, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

So we’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal at breakfast (my kids actually cheer when we do, so I don’t feel guilty), I’ve been baking this bread (I know it’s not vegan – can you still love me?) and making fresh vegetable sandwiches with garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and onions and carrot butter – YUM!, eating Chef AJs dressing on plain Costco greens day in and day out, putting a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker and calling it soup (and then throwing it out when it’s terrible), and shoving more and more green beans from the garden into the fridge with a prayer that I’ll eventually deal with them.

And then on a whim, I resurrected these flautas. But I made them better. And had fresh tomatillo salsa (I’m sure that post is to come…someday). And then we had them again three days later. Quite simply, they were happy, healthy, kid-friendly, and super-fast if you use canned beans. And if you cut things small, you can shove a lot of veggies into them without anybody caring. Mind you, the recipe is totally loose on how you put together your filling. I think the most important part is baking at 425 for 12-17 minutes.

Baked flautas:
Bean filling:

2-3 cans black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed OR 4-5 c. cooked beans

½ c. diced onion

½ c. water

A splash of whatever salsa you have on hand

Add to small saucepan and cook down until creamy and beans start breaking down (help them along with a bit of mashing – you’ll feel better as you do it too.

1-2 c. diced vegetables (peppers, onions, summer squash, carrots)

In another pan, quickly sauté your diced vegetables in a bit of oil or water, just so they’re tender. Then add vegetables to the bean mixture with ½ to 1 c. leftover cooked grains if you have them, and let it all cook until it’s nice and mashy.

Divvy the filling up between 8 tortillas and roll them up. Put them on a cookie sheet, brush lightly with oil, and bake at 425 for 12-17 minutes, depending on how big they are.

Enjoy with guacamole (the best!) and salsa.

And now, I’m going to bed.

Carrots, as you’ve never had them before (unless…)

Unless … you’ve been to Sage’s Cafe in downtown SLC.

The first time we went to Sage’s we had no idea it was a vegan restaurant and we were, quite honestly, relatively unimpressed with one exception. This was many years ago. We have been back many times now, and while the food is always tasty and we try something different every time (or the same thing we had before but forgot how we liked it), we always go back for the same thing. And every time I recommend Sage’s or someone asks what is good, I always say they must, MUST, get the Carrot Butter.

And what’s the deal? Apparently, it’s pick your favorite animal week here at GCF. We have two rat-bags and a “green” frog. This totally works though, because in my house, my five year old insists that we always choose an animal to be for the daywhen we wake up in the morning. So, today I pick a copy-cat (love your creations Chef Ian – I just need them family-sized!). So, with a bit of internet searching and a little tweaking, I’ve mastered this beautiful, NEON ORANGE creation. I sent my husband a picture of the Vitamix full of orange stuff, and he told me it might freak people out to know this was food. When he got home and saw the Vosen’s seeded baguette, he knew dinner would be amazing. At least for the grown-ups. (This is not a kid-approved recipe, which I totally don’t get because it’s sweet. And neon orange. What’s not to like?)

Then I brought some down to Somer’s for her post-birthday bash. It seemed to go over pretty well. (Her text tonight said this: Can’t. Stop. Eating. Carrot. Butter.) Erika was a bit thrilled with it as well, and told me I HAD to post it soon. I sorta wish I’d taken pictures today since we made lovely open-faced sandwiches with fresh garden vegetables on crusty bread. So, so good.

So, here is the scoop:

Sage’s Carrot Butter

1 ¼ lb. (about 6-7 medium) carrots, peeled, small dice
¾ c. macadamia nuts
¼ c. safflower or canola oil
2 T. maple syrup
½ T. salt
½ – 1 t. vanilla, to taste

Directions:

  • Steam carrots until very tender, 20-30 minutes depending on how small you dice them. Reserve about ½ c. of your steaming water
  • Place carrots, nuts, oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and ¼ c. reserved water in blender or food processor. Let it rip until the texture is very smooth, almost the consistency of fluffy frosting. A Vitamix or Blendtec will do the job handily, but I make no claims to the performance of other apparatuses – consider soaking your macadamias if you’re ripping without super-blender.
  • Serve on crusty seeded baguette with cucumbers, or on a spoon. It also makes a delicious sandwich spread or cucumber spread (that’s how Erika ate hers since she’s giving wheat the crusty eye these days).

ETW: Cafe Supernatural & my copycat recipe!

The night before my birthday we got a babysitter and hit the town. I sometimes forget how awesome life is with just two until three seems more awesome than five and I wonder what the two of us alone would be like…

I digress. Upon hitting the town, or rather just after we walked out the door, we did as all good married couples do and looked at each other and said, “Huh, what do you want to do?”

“I dunno, leaving the house was a good first step. You hungry?”

“Come to think of it, yeah. Did I eat yet today?” (That was me, if you couldn’t tell – the bottomless pit.)

And then we ended up (after wandering around Trolley Square for 15 minutes) at Cafe Supernatural. Just FYI, so as to spare you the random phone call asking where they are – it’s on the west side, outside of the main building adjoining a yoga studio.  Cafe Supernatural is Chef Ian Brandt’s fourth plant-based venture, following after Sage’s Cafe, Vertical Diner, and Cali’s Natural Foods.

The atmosphere was pleasant, though it made me wish I was going to a yoga class as people came and went. It’s a walk-up and order, sit down and wait kind of place, nice enough without being too pretentious. The menu is relatively small, probably half cooked and half raw, but the brevity didn’t help me decide. So, after telling her I was starving and a nursing mom, upon the recommendation of the girl behind the counter for heartier options, we got the Machu Picchu and the Mesa Azul, and a ginger lemonade. We ordered our Machu Picchu with potatoes AND quinoa (I know, we’re rebels), just so we could try them both. From the menu:

Machu Picchu

Steamed potatoes or quinoa served with steamed seasonal vegetables and roasted chili cashew cream sauce 8.75

Mesa Azul

Two blue corn winter squash tamales with pumpkin seed-tomato mole and baby greens 9.75

Like any good food paparazzi reviewer, we snapped a few shots with the phone. (Why do I always feel so dorky when doing this?) And we were about to eat when the girl behind the counter stopped by our table to mention that I shouldn’t eat the husk on the tamale. Come again? And she was dead serious, and I thought that was hilarious. She was sincerely concerned that I might try to eat the dry papery thing on the outside of sweet succulent goodness. Did it often happen that people tried to eat the husk and she hadn’t warned them and felt bad? Had they been sued? You laugh, but I went to law school and that’s not too far fetched.

Anyway, back to the food. It was fantastical, delicioso, and marvelous – the kind of food that just feels good to eat. But, it had the same problem that Omar’s had, that I was still very, VERY hungry afterward. Two small tamales and a salad (both extremely delicious, mind you, and I would eat them again in a heartbeat) did not a sufficient meal make. Nor did a bit of quinoa, veggies, potatoes and a luscious cream sauce. I wish my meal had been 50% bigger. So, again, we found ourselves elsewhere – Whole Foods this time – looking for a second dinner.

I’ve heard that as we get older, our need to eat reduces (my neighbor told me that today), or maybe we’re supposed to order an appetizer and dessert too, or maybe I’m just so accustomed to “other” restaurant’s meals that I want MORE! Either way, I’ll still probably go back and order those tamales with that amazing mole again. I think about them in my sleep.

But, after what I did tonight, I probably won’t go back for the Machu Picchu, because I recreated it for a fraction of the price and I can eat until I’m full.  And it made enough to feed our new plant-based neighbors (score!). And it will go into the regular rotation because, even with my kids, I think it took me just over 30 minutes to make (plus cashew soaking time), everyone ate it and loved it, and it felt so, so good to eat.

The Machu Picchu Knockoff

  • Assorted Seasonal Vegetables, steamed
    • I used 4 carrots, 1 summer squash, half a bunch of broccoli
  • Thinly sliced potatoes, steamed (I used those ever-present garden ones, probably 10 or so, not quite 1/4″ thick)
  • 3 + c. cooked Quinoa (I started with 1 1/2 c. uncooked and used the open pan-1/2 to 1″ of water above-simmer until cooked method)

Cashew Chili Cream Sauce

  • 1 to 1 ½ c. raw cashews, soaked in water for at least a few hours
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 ½ c. veggie broth (I used 1 t. vegetable base + 1 ½ c. water)
  • Salt, to taste

Drain the cashews, tossing out the water. Place all ingredients in blender and rip until smooth. Cook over medium heat to thicken for a few minutes, stirring regularly or it will burn. Taste, adjust seasonings, and try to not to eat it all. I found that enough salt was the key to making it ever so amazing.

To serve: top cooked quinoa, vegetables and potatoes with cashew chili cream sauce and eat. And eat. And then as you’re putting it away, lick the spoon, scrape the bowl, etc. And you’ll still have enough for lots of leftovers.  Or for the neighbor that just moved here from another continent whose stuff hasn’t arrived yet and is hardcore plant-based. I am SO excited to get to know them.

My Farm to My Fork: Herbs – they’re really not that scary (Herby Potato recipes!)

I love my herbs. I love the first tender spikes of chive that sneak up through the snow in the Spring, I love the masses of mint that take over our neighbors side-yard (which we use a few times a week for frosty mint (black/rasp/strawberry limeade), and the huge heads of dill that start tipping too early for my cucumbers that I started too late. This is all awesome, you say, because I have a huge garden, right? I do, but that garden is 2 1/2 miles from my house behind a church. It isn’t so very convenient for herb use unless one is really organized with perfectly planned meals. That, I am not.

But! I have a tiny patch of ground in the front yard of my two-bedroom townhouse (I like to throw that in there to feel like more of a martyr) and three planters with herbs in them. In my tiny space I have marjoram, thyme, sage, peppermint, pineapple mint, lavender, tarragon, coconut thyme, oregano, chives, unrelenting lemon balm, and rosemary – and I use them all the time. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow other edibles out there, but to no avail. It all dies. It’s like it knows I have another garden and gets jealous. But my herbs are content to grow and be and bring me great joy – except for my rosemary which must hate me (or Utah winters – more likely).

But what in the world do I do with my herbs? Everything. And you can too. Because they’re not that scary and unlike spices, they’re really, really hard to screw up using if you use your nose.

How do you know what to use? First, consider what you’re making or what veggies you have are or what you want! Does it hail from the Mediterranean? Asia? Middle East? South America? Think about what herbs you’d find used there. Are you in the mood for potatoes or a salad – or both (I make a killer herbed potato salad)? Can you throw a handful into a loaf of bread or stirred into your quinoa after cooking?

Second, what do you have? Does your neighbor have mint growing like crazy (it’s the only way it grows), or can you dig out a start from your friends thyme or oregano or chives? Most people I know are more than willing to share herbs. Use what you have and it can turn any vegetable into something you’ve never dreamed of.

Third, smell your herbs. They’re most pungent first thing in the morning or if you’re doing a big harvest just as the flowers bloom. If you want to mix herbs, crush a few of them together in your hand – do they smell good? Excellent – use them! If not, try another combo, or just use one. You will quickly learn that lavender and curry plant DO NOT go well together, but that thyme and chives and mint do!

Fourth, don’t be scared to try them!!! I’ve screwed up meals that had perfectly good recipes to follow, so I’m willing to screw some up that don’t too. Odds are good that you won’t be disappointed, but if you are, the loss is usually bearable.

Fifth, and very importantly, don’t add them too early! Spices need to be exposed to high heat to bring out their flavors (blooming them), but herbs just want to be warmed to release their very fragile oils.

If you don’t have herbs growing, now is a good time to find them cheap or to dig out a start from a neighbor’s plant for the perennials (oregano, thyme, dill, tarragon, lavender, rosemary – if it doesn’t die like mine, and mint).  If you don’t get them growing this year, they’ll grow like crazy next year. Dill, cilantro, and parsley still elude my growing skills (I haven’t tried that hard), but they can be pretty cheap (except for the dill) at the store.

If you’re not sure where to start, start with my favorite use of them, especially right now as we’re up to our eyeballs in potatoes. I love the smallest potatoes for this dish cooked whole, and a variety of colors makes it ever tastier. I try to use four or five varieties, last night using chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, and mint (which is the most surprising and amazing addition). With leftovers or if you want to make an extra big batch, my Herbed Potato Salad recipe follows.

New Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

(portions are per person – multiply per serving)

¼ – ½ pound baby new potatoes per person, scrubbed

2 T. chopped fresh herbs (mixed is the best way)

1 T olive oil, or butter, or butter substitute

Salt and fresh ground Pepper – to taste

Scrub your potatoes, cutting larger ones into smaller pieces to ensure uniform cooking. Boil or steam until fork tender. While cooking, stem your herbs and roughly chop, tossing into your serving bowl with the oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Drain your potatoes and toss with herb mixture. Serve!

(if using rosemary, chop it finer since it’s a bit tougher than others, and be careful with some of the stronger flavors, like sage)

Herbed Potato Salad

Unlike most potato salads that have a lot of other “things” in them, I keep this one simple so the herbs can show off.

1 4-person batch of New Potatoes with Herbs

or

2 lbs cooked new potatoes (yukons, reds, blues, whites – just not russets)

½ to 1 c. chopped herbs – mix it up

3-4 stalks celery, sliced thin

¼ to 1/3 c. chopped red onion, if you have it

Dressing:
¼ – ½ c. vegan mayonnaise

2-4 T non-dairy milk, I like almond milk best

1-2 T balsamic vinegar

1-2 T dijon or spicy brown mustard

1-2 T lemon juice

Salt and fresh ground Pepper (so much better fresh, especially in simple dishes like this)

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk them up. Use your blender if you like, I usually just toss it all in a bowl cause I’m lazy like that. Adjust seasonings to your liking – does it taste yummy and is it strong enough to flavor the potatoes without overpowering them?

Toss ALL the ingredients together, and chill until ready to eat – that means the salad AND you.

My Farm to My Fork: Herbs – they’re really not that scary

I love my herbs. I love the first tender spikes of chive that sneak up through the snow in the Spring, I love the masses of mint that take over our neighbors side-yard (which we use a few times a week for frosty mint (black/rasp/strawberry limeade), and the huge heads of dill that start tipping too early for my cucumbers that I started too late. This is all awesome, you say, because I have a huge garden, right? I do, but that garden is 2 1/2 miles from my house behind a church. It isn’t so very convenient for herb use unless one is really organized with perfectly planned meals. That, I am not.

But! I have a tiny patch of ground in the front yard of my two-bedroom townhouse (I like to throw that in there to feel like more of a martyr) and three planters with herbs in them. In my tiny space I have marjoram, thyme, sage, peppermint, pineapple mint, lavender, tarragon, coconut thyme, oregano, chives, unrelenting lemon balm, and rosemary – and I use them all the time. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow other edibles out there, but to no avail. It all dies. It’s like it knows I have another garden and gets jealous. But my herbs are content to grow and be and bring me great joy – except for my rosemary which must hate me (or Utah winters – more likely).

But what in the world do I do with my herbs? Everything. And you can too. Because they’re not that scary and unlike spices, they’re really, really hard to screw up using if you use your nose.

How do you know what to use? First, consider what you’re making or what veggies you have are or what you want! Does it hail from the Mediterranean? Asia? Middle East? South America? Think about what herbs you’d find used there. Are you in the mood for potatoes or a salad – or both (I make a killer herbed potato salad)? Can you throw a handful into a loaf of bread or stirred into your quinoa after cooking?

Second, what do you have? Does your neighbor have mint growing like crazy (it’s the only way it grows), or can you dig out a start from your friends thyme or oregano or chives? Most people I know are more than willing to share herbs. Use what you have and it can turn any vegetable into something you’ve never dreamed of.

Third, smell your herbs. They’re most pungent first thing in the morning or if you’re doing a big harvest just as the flowers bloom. If you want to mix herbs, crush a few of them together in your hand – do they smell good? Excellent – use them! If not, try another combo, or just use one. You will quickly learn that lavender and curry plant DO NOT go well together, but that thyme and chives and mint do!

Fourth, don’t be scared to try them!!! I’ve screwed up meals that had perfectly good recipes to follow, so I’m willing to screw some up that don’t too. Odds are good that you won’t be disappointed, but if you are, the loss is usually bearable.

Fifth, and very importantly, don’t add them too early! Spices need to be exposed to high heat to bring out their flavors (blooming them), but herbs just want to be warmed to release their very fragile oils.

If you don’t have herbs growing, now is a good time to find them cheap or to dig out a start from a neighbor’s plant for the perennials (oregano, thyme, dill, tarragon, lavender, rosemary – if it doesn’t die like mine, and mint).  If you don’t get them growing this year, they’ll grow like crazy next year. Dill, cilantro, and parsley still elude my growing skills (I haven’t tried that hard), but they can be pretty cheap (except for the dill) at the store.

If you’re not sure where to start, start with my favorite use of them, especially right now as we’re up to our eyeballs in potatoes. I love the smallest potatoes for this dish cooked whole, and a variety of colors makes it ever tastier. I try to use four or five varieties, last night using chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, and mint (which is the most surprising and amazing addition). With leftovers or if you want to make an extra big batch, my Herbed Potato Salad recipe follows.

New Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

(portions are per person – multiply per serving)

¼ – ½ pound baby new potatoes per person, scrubbed

2 T. chopped fresh herbs (mixed is the best way)

1 T olive oil, or butter, or butter substitute

Salt and fresh ground Pepper – to taste

Scrub your potatoes, cutting larger ones into smaller pieces to ensure uniform cooking. Boil or steam until fork tender. While cooking, stem your herbs and roughly chop, tossing into your serving bowl with the oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Drain your potatoes and toss with herb mixture. Serve!

(if using rosemary, chop it finer since it’s a bit tougher than others, and be careful with some of the stronger flavors, like sage)

Herbed Potato Salad

Unlike most potato salads that have a lot of other “things” in them, I keep this one simple so the herbs can show off.

1 4-person batch of New Potatoes with Herbs

or

2 lbs cooked new potatoes (yukons, reds, blues, whites – just not russets)

½ to 1 c. chopped herbs – mix it up

3-4 stalks celery, sliced thin

¼ to 1/3 c. chopped red onion, if you have it

Dressing:
¼ – ½ c. vegan mayonnaise

2-4 T non-dairy milk, I like almond milk best

1-2 T balsamic vinegar

1-2 T dijon or spicy brown mustard

1-2 T lemon juice

Salt and fresh ground Pepper (so much better fresh, especially in simple dishes like this)

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk them up. Use your blender if you like, I usually just toss it all in a bowl cause I’m lazy like that. Adjust seasonings to your liking – does it taste yummy and is it strong enough to flavor the potatoes without overpowering them?

Toss ALL the ingredients together, and chill until ready to eat – that means the salad AND you.

My Farm to my Fork: Grill Roasted Root Veggies

So, when the thermometer from my backyard hits 104 degrees in the summer (like today), my first dinner thoughts are generally not of potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, rutabagas, what-have-you root vegetables. HELLO Winter Staples, right? But see, that’s where I am wrong. And so are you. Deal with it – you’re wrong. Well, you’re wrong if have some foil, a grill, and some super fresh, super tasty veggies. And more than that, if you’re lucky with your varieties, they are absolutely GORGEOUS. That’s really why I’m posting this, because this was too beautiful to keep to myself.

This is an unrecipe, but since we make it at least once a week and the contents vary based on what’s coming out of the garden, you’ll indulge me. And if you don’t, I’m none the wiser. Right now, it’s beets (Chioggia, Golden, Cylindra, Bull’s Blood) and potatoes (yukon gold, blues, reds) season in our garden. We can’t grow early carrots thanks to the gophers (we’ll try some in the fall), and our onions didn’t take so well this year, probably because we planted them at the wrong time (I was having a baby, okay? I can’t do everything!) But since we buy our carrots and onions in bulk at Costco, we’re always ready for this one. This is definitely more of a METHOD than a recipe and totally adaptable.

Grill Roasted Root Veggies

Servings: as many as you want, but I’ve listed what I have in the picture

  • 8-9 Beets, peeled and chopped
  • 8-9 New Potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 5 Carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 Onion, halved and sliced
  • Fresh Herbs – I grab what looks good, this time it was Tarragon, Thyme, and Oregano
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Get a very large piece of foil, large enough to hold your veggies without being too thick – think tinfoil dinner thickness – doubled, so you can fold it in half over itself. Prep your veggies and lay them out (beautifully) on the foil. I generally like the onions on the bottom so they can caramelize, but it doesn’t really matter since if you flip it right, everything gets tasty. It’s nice to keep them in separate sections in case your eaters (like mine) have preferences. Lay your herbs on top of your chopped vegetables, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and a hefty amount of salt and pepper, and wrap it up by folding the top over and curling the sides around each other. I usually double layer since I’m bound to puncture it or fail to seal an edge on the first layer.

I throw mine on the grill with all four burners at medium for about an hour – and no, I don’t preheat. The temperature gauge – right or wrong – usually says about 450. The temp varies once I start throwing other stuff on and leaving the lid open, so it’s tough to burn (unless Matt gets home late from work and our house has collapsed into insanity). About halfway through cooking, flip it if you remember, or not if you don’t. After that, either take it off or put it on your top rack to keep it from burning too much. There is a fine line between caramelized and burned. Open foil, admire, eat.

I’ll be honest, I generally over-pepper and under-salt, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from preferring these to the Scott Jurek veggie burgers 9 times out of 10. ZJ wouldn’t eat anything but these (and grilled pineapple because she has human weaknesses too) tonight, especially preferring the beets and carrots (scary diaper to come…).

 

Thin Crust Sriracha BBQ Tofu and Moxerella Pizza

It’s Somer Saturday and I’m really REALLY obsessed with Annie’s Cashew Cheez. Ever since she emailed me a demo recipe, vegan life has changed as I know it. I thought I was over cheese, and was starting to be a little snobby, even shunning the likes of Daiya, Teese and Sheese since they are all refined and made of ….I don’t know what…. vegan garbage?

 I read through Annie’s ingredient list, no artificial anything, no weird fillers, no hydrogenated oils, no artificial colors or flavors. Then I read her post – oh man, the cheez looked so beautiful.I was pining away after it. I had to make it. I had to eat it.

And now I’m going to share with you the best recipe I have made with it to date.

 Thin Crust Sriracha BBQ Tofu and Moxerella Pizza

1/4 recipe of the Moxeralla Cashew Cheez, grated

1 recipe Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust

1 recipe Sriracha BBQ Sauce

1 recipe Sriracha BBQ Tofu

1 recipe Caramelized Onions

2 T. Chopped Cilantro

Recipes Follow….

First do these things the day before: 1- Make the cheez (adaptation below). 2- Drain a block of extra firm tofu, stick it in a ziplock and chuck it in the freezer. Freeze tofu overnight, then defrost on the countertop the next morning.

It’s Business Time

Moxerella Cashew Cheez

adapted from anunrefinedvegan.com

Ingredients: 1 Package Pamona’s Pectin (you can find it at Whole Foods and other Health Food Stores), 2 C. Ground Raw Cashews, 3 C. Water- divided, 3 T. Lemon Juice, 1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast, 2 t. sea salt and 1 clove minced garlic

Method: Lightly oil a loaf pan or small round casserole dish. In a small lidded jar, mix 1/2 C. of the water with the small calcium packet from the pectin package, set aside. Heat the other 2.5 cups water til nearly boiling. Pour water into power blender. Add pectin, and all other ingredients except calcium water. Blend until smooth. QUICKLY add calcium water and pulse til incorporated. Immediately pour into the prepared pan or dish. Let set uncovered for a minimum of an hour. Remove cheez from the mold and place upside down on a plate. Return to fridge uncovered for a minimum of 4 more hours until firm enough to grate.

Next, make Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Sriracha BBQ Sauce

 Combine: 1/2 C. organic ketchup, 2 T. agave nectar, 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, 1 t. molasses, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 t. liquid smoke, 1/2 to 2 t. Sriracha Hot Sauce (to taste) and a few grinds of pepper.

Next make Sriracha BBQ Tofu

Sriracha BBQ Tofu

Half of this recipe never made it to the pizza. It is so good! Method: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain as much water from defrosted block of tofu as possible with paper towels. Slice into pieces and then drain again with paper towels. Put tofu in a bowl and drizzle with 1/4 C. above sauce. Put some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and arrange tofu on it. Bake for 10 minutes or until it starts to get lovely little crispy bits.

Next make Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

 Ingredients: 1 jumbo sweet onion, thinly sliced (or 2-3 regular sized onions), 2 t. molasses, 1 t. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Method: Heat a skillet over high heat, add a cup of water and all of the above ingredients, occasionally stir and replenish water if skillet gets dry before the onions are completely translucent. Total cooking time can take 15-20 minutes. This recipe makes about 2.5 to 3 C. caramelized onions.

Next make Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust while the onions are caramelizing.

Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust

Ingredients: 1.5 C. white whole wheat flour, 3/4 C. warm water, 1 t. active dry yeast, 1 T. vital wheat gluten, 1 t. salt. Method: in your favorite kneading apparatus (perhaps a bowl, and then your hands) combine all the above ingredients. Knead until elastic. Let rest 10 minutes. Roll with a rolling pin into the shape of a baking sheet, crust should be VERY thin. Press crust into lightly oiled baking sheet. Set aside.

Assemble: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush remaining sriracha BBQ sauce over the thin crispy crust, layer caramelized onions over the sauce, next arrange pieces of the BBQ tofu over the onions,  sprinkle the moxerella cashew cheez over the whole pizza, sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes or until cheez starts to brown.

Still following me? Phew, I thought I was getting a little long winded.

Oh, you’re still here and you want that salad dressing recipe too?

Miso Cashew Ranch Dressing 

Ingredients: 1/2 C. Raw Cashews, 1 1/4 C. unsweetened almond milk, 1 heaped T. white or yellow miso, 3 t. chia seeds, 1/2 t. sea salt, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 t. onion powder, 1 t. dried dill, 2 T. fresh parsley 1/2 t. ground black pepper, dash cayenne. Method: Blend all ingredients except dill and parsley until completely smooth. Add dill and parsley and pulse until just mixed in.

Tasty Tuesday Series Part III – The Vegan Mother’s Day Feast

It’s still Tasty Tuesday, sick of me yet? Well you won’t be when I give you the recipes from our Mother’s Day Feast at the end of this post ;)

Vegan Mother’s Day Feast

Frosty Blackberry Lemonade with Mint

Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Slivered Almonds (Inspired by this dish at the VVP)

Handmade Artisan Boule

Baked Millet Risotto

Sauteed Green Beans with Radishes (not pictured)

Maple Glazed Seitan Almond Neat Loaf

Orange Infused Chocolate Truffle Tart

Sounds good doesn’t it? This Mother’s Day I wanted to treat myself a special celebration feast. Not just a celebration for being a mother, which is notable on its own, but a celebration of self. You see, I switched my family to a whole-foods-plant-based diet in January, 129 days ago. My first post describes why I went plant-based. Here is a short re-cap. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an Autoimmune Inflammatory Bowel Disease 6 years ago. Since that point I have been sick, sometimes so sick that I would have 30 or more bloody bowel movements a day. I couldn’t leave the house without an adult diaper or make it to a bathroom in the house on time. I had constant stomach pain, it would hurt so bad I would often cry.  I was on all kinds of medications, many of which were very damaging to my body and had horrible side effects, including a 100 lb weight gain. In addition to that I also had developed some auto-immune skin conditions including facial swelling called angioedema.

Now for the good part of the story. Since switching to a 100% vegan diet, I have completely resolved all my health issues. I am not currently taking any prescription drugs of any kind and my disease is in complete remission. I was only reminded that I even had an autoimmune disease last week when I didn’t sleep enough and had way too much stress going on. My stomach rebelled a little, but nothing at all like it used to.  Diapers and prescriptions did not get involved! There is an important health trio of eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress in check.

My quality of life has drastically improved. I had forgotten what it felt like to feel well, it’s a wonderful feeling. So I wanted to celebrate that, cause I’m pretty dang proud of myself for making myself well.  Here is the plant-based feast I created for myself. (My husband usually prepares the Mother’s Day meal, but was a bit daunted by a plant-based feast, so he watched the children while I spent the afternoon cooking. It was divine (really). The reason some of the photos are in the back of a car is that when we were about to sit down to eat (and I was about to take some photos of said feast) is that I found out there was someone who needed a little mother’s day feast on their table too, so I split our meal in half and did a delivery. Good thing I always make too much food!

Frosty Blackberry Lemonade: from my post for the VVP, using fresh blackberries that were blended with water then strained to remove seeds) instead of strawberries, recipe here

Green Salad with Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado and Slivered Almonds

2 Sweet Potatoes

2 Beets, tops removed

1 Diced Avocado

Beet greens from above beets

4 C. Romaine or baby lettuces

Red Wine Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt  & Pepper

Garlic Clove

1/4 C. Slivered Almonds

Method: rinse and scrub sweet potatoes and beets. Leave skins on, Bake on a tray lined with parchment paper in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until soft. Let cool. Cut garlic clove in half and rub clove all over the inside of your salad bowl, save clove for another use. Pull skin from sweet potato (it will fall right off), dice sweet potatoes and beets into 1/2 inch cubes. Place lettuce, beet greens, beets, sweet potato, avocado and slivered almonds in salad bowl. Drizzle with a quick drizzle of the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and serve.

Handmade Artisan Boule: recipe here

Baked Millet Risotto: click here for my recipe

Sauteed Green Beans with Radishes

1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

1 red onion, cut into slivers

1 bunch radishes, washed with greens removed

1 garlic clove minced – from above salad, saved for another use ;)

Method: Water saute onion and green beans over high heat, adding a couple of tablespoons of water as needed, add radishes and garlic, cook until for a few more minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste

Maple Glazed Seitan Almond Neat Loaf: click here for my recipe

Orange Infused Dark or “Milk” Chocolate Truffle Tart

1 bag (or 2 cups) dairy free dark chocolate chips

1 cup canned coconut milk, warmed till steaming

1-2 packages shelf stable mori-nu lite silken tofu

1 drop wild orange essential oil or 1/2 t. orange extract

6 graham cracker sheets (omit or use substitute for gluten-free version)

2 T. tahini

Method: Process graham cracker sheets with tahini in food processor. Press into bottom of 8 inch springform pan. May be a bit dry and crumbly, that’s okay! The moist filling will adhere to it nicely! Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Pour steaming coconut milk over chocolate chips. Stir until melted. In the blender, put 1 or 2 blocks of mori-nu silken tofu depending on your chocolate intensity level, 1 block makes a super intense dark chocolate truffle dessert. 2 blocks makes a more mild “milk” chocolate truffle dessert. Pour melted chocolate over tofu, add 1 drop orange essential oil or the orange extract. Blend until thoroughly combined. Pour over graham cracker crust. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving. Remove from springform pan and garnish with chocolate shavings and orange zest strips if desired. Makes 8-16 servings depending on your tolerance for an ultra-rich dessert.

I don’t know about green eggs and ham, but I do. not. like. millet.

I tried this cozy millet bowl with mushroom gravy recipe on ohsheglows.com I didn’t really like it, as I have decided I don’t really like millet. So that is all I will say about that.

I did make up a chowder recipe that was pretty tasty though. I didn’t mean to make chowder, but that is what it most reminds me of. I was trying to make a tasty version of an Amish potato soup my sister makes. It is sooooo yummy, but requires milk and cheese. My vegan version (tastes nothing like the original). I liked it, but the cauliflower gave it kind of a bitter “bite.” My sister LOVED it and wanted the recipe. As she wolfed it down she wondered if her husband would like it—he never even got a taste. My son did not like it  (but he doesn’t like much) He insisted there was a grain in it (so did my sister) but it is the cauliflower, when it is lightly blended, it has the texture of a grain. I will try this one again, but I think with broccoli next time.

Creamy Vegi Chowder

 Creamy Vegi Chowder

Ingredients:

½ c diced celery

1 c diced carrots

4 diced medium potatoes

1 med head cauliflower

2 cups chopped kale

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes, this gives it a bite, so leave out if you don’t want so spicy)

Low-fat vegan cheeze sauce, divided (see below for recipe)

1/2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

1 tsp onion powder, to taste

Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, plus more to garnish

Smoked paprika for garnish

Add everything to large pot, simmer for about 15 mins, until potatoes are tender to fork, but not soft. You can leave in big chunks, but I pulsed mine in the vitamix, a little. (Do it in 2 batches) then mix cheese sauce with blended veggies. Garnish with smoked paprika

Low-Fat Vegan Cheeze Sauce (double batch)

Found this on OhSheGlows. Here is the link.

Ingredients:

1.5 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk

3/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a skillet or pot, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup milk until all clumps are gone.

3. Whisk in the remaining milk (1.25 cups) as well as the milk and flour mixture into the pot. Now whisk in the nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to low-medium.

4. Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently over low heat until the sauce thickens up, for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat once thick.

Andrew’s favorite because he doesn’t know it is good for him. Even as I make it, he tells me how much he hates spinach, but he loves these:

Peanut Buttercup shake

 Peanut Buttercup Shake

Servings: 2

½ cup chocolate almond milk

¼ cup peanut butter

1 heaping tsp cocoa

2 tsp agave (to taste)

½ c spinach (yup, weird and gives it a weird color, but can’t taste it. Warning: do not let child see this part)

2 cups ice

Blend on high in vitamix. Top with vegan whip cream (optional).

Nutritional info per serving: calories: 250, Fat 15, Carbs 17.5, fiber 2, protein 9

I found several other shakes in Chef AJ’s book that I am going to try this week.

Bread sticks

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I used my kamut sour dough bread recipe to make bread sticks. Andrew LOVES these!

In my quest to get nutrition into my vegan son who does not like vegetables, or protein—he just likes carbs really, I am always looking for ways to hide them in the food he likes. I hide them in EVERYTHING. I discovered the trick in “Deceptively Delicious” it is a cookbook by Jessica Seinfield,  it isn’t vegetarian or vegan, but I adapt the recipes. I puree veggies in bulk and put them in ziplock bags in the freezer.

One of his favorite foods is mashed potatoes and ranch. I modified my original concoction to be vegan. He loved them.

Complete Meal Mashed Potatoes created by me approved by my vegan son

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1 cup pureed cauliflower (steam it and add a little water to puree)

1 cup navy beans pureed (you will need to add a little water to get these to puree)

4-5 cups mashed potatoes (I leave the peels on if the potatoes are fresh)

4 eggs (optional)

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp Italian seasoning

¼-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (just depends on how thick you like them)

Salt to taste

1 cup ranch dressing (I used this vegan dressing)

½ cup melted earth balance butter (sometimes I sub with olive oil, but the earth balance does add flavor)

1 cup dayia shredded cheese (optional, for top)

1 bag French fried onions (for topping, this is the piece de resistance for my son, he loves these on top)

Method: mix everything in a big bowl except cheese and French fired onions. Place in 9×13 pan, cover,  bake on 350 for 30-40 mins. Top with cheese and French onions.

Another staple at our house are homemade noodles. Andrew went vegan for moral reasons, so he will eat things I make with our chicken’s unfertilized eggs, and milk from our goats.

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Homemade egg noodles (vegetarian—I don’t know how to make egg noodles without eggs)

1 cup white unbleached flour     (these started with 2 cups white flour, but trying to wean him off white flour, so I replace 1 cup with kamut and pastry whole wheat)

½ cup kamut flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup semolina flour

1 tsp  salt

4 eggs

2-3 Tbs olive oil

Mix everything in Bosch adding a little hot water until dough forms (1-2 Tbls). Mix for 10 mins. Cover dough and let rest 20 mins. Divide into sections,

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roll out (this part is Andrew’s job, I have a pasta maker I got for last years birthday, thanks sisters and mom) but you can do it by hand. Hang to dry. If you want to cook immediately bring broth to boil, cook noodles for 3-4 mins. Once noodles are dry cook 6-7 mins.

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