VVP: Cranberry Maple Compote

It’s that time again, bring on the VVP!
Who’s coming to the table:  The bright and beautiful cranberry.

Through the years, cranberry sauce has gotten a pretty bad wrap.  Give thanks to the trusty can o’ cran that plops out a gelatinous cylinder of cranberry goo with a nice, big “schluup.”  Great entertainment, but just not appetizing.

A couple years ago I discovered this little recipe.  No, big recipe.  It is chock full of goodness!  Made with fresh cranberries, pecans, fresh and dried fruit and the fabulous fall flavors cinnamon and nutmeg.  One taste and I was in love.

The only problem with the recipe is the large amount of sugar, especially being on an alkaline vegan diet.  So this year the cranberry compote recipe has gotten a facelift.  Welcome maple.

Cranberry Maple Compote

12 oz fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and pureed in the blender
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
1 c water
1 c chopped dried fruit (mix it up and have fun!  we love dried pineapple, cherry, cranberry if you’re sticking with the theme, I think a little crystallized ginger could be good for an added kick)
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
maple syrup, to taste (I used 1/4 cup but my sweetness sensor is pretty low these days.  You could add anywhere from 1/4-3/4 c maple)

Bring water to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and add all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the cranberries burst.  Remove from heat and let cool.

I made a double batch this time around, measured it into 1 1/2 c portions, and stored it in the freezer.  Great to pull out for the holidays.

Some other ways to use your super delish cranberry sauce:

Eat it with a spoon!
Make a parfait with your favorite plain yogurt and granola
Layer on top of crackers and vegan cream cheese for finger foods
PB+Cranberry Sandwich?  Potential…
I’m thinking a ginger graham cracker crust with vanilla bean vegan ice cream topped with cranberry sauce.  Mmmmmm.
Mix in your morning oatmeal
Use as a topping for pancakes or filling for crepes
A tart spread for a savory sandwich

So there you have it.  Cranberry Maple Compote.  Love it.

Go Back

The previous VVP dish is found in Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen here:
http://kellisvegankitchen.com/

Go Forward
Cook to Love is the blog next in the potluck.  Visit it here:
http://cooktolove.com/

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chili

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chili

2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers, diced (rainbow colored!)
1 jalepeno, diced (keep seeds for more heat)
1 large yam, peeled and diced
4 cups water
1 Tbl veggie bouillon
1 can tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cans beans, drained and rinsed (we did 2 black and 1 kidney)
2 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oil in large pot with onion and saute until start to turn clear.  Add peppers, chili powder and sea salt.  When softened but not mushy  throw in garlic for 30 seconds.  Add water, sweet potato, tomato paste, tomatoes, beans, bouillon, and cinnamon.  Cook until yams are done.  Enjoy the healthy deliciousness!

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

Why pat-a-cakes?  Because I love playing pat-a-cake with my daughter and I LOVE these pancakes!  Not kidding, best “baked” good I’ve eaten in the last 4 months of veganism.  A perfect start to a cool fall morning.

Bonus points:  they are alkaline, gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan and just plain awesome.

Banana Pat-a-cake Bliss

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 c coconut oil, plus more for greasing skillet

2 Tbl ground flax plus 6 Tbl. water, stir together and let sit for a few minutes
2 c unsweetened almond milk plus 2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbl maple syrup

2 over ripe bananas, mashed

Mix dry ingredients together.  If you don’t have oat flour, just throw some oats in the food processor and make your own.

If your coconut oil is in a solidified form, cut it into the dry mix.  If it’s liquified because your house is nice and warm, mix it into the wet ingredients.

Mix liquid ingredients together and combine with the dry.  Add in banana.  I like to keep some banana chunks for happy flavor bursts, so if you’re like me, don’t mix the batter too well, just until combined.

Heat skillet to medium.  Melt 1/8 tsp coconut oil in skillet (I did this before each round, the bananas like to stick.)  Scoop 1/4 c batter per pancake (any bigger and they got moody about flipping.)  Cook until golden on each side.

Top with your favorites!  We love applesauce, apple butter, yogurt, or frozen mixed berries cooked down with a little cinnamon and sweetener.

Amended from a recipe found on this site.

Off the Beaten Path & Happiness in a Cookie Bite

Maybe I’m crazy… maybe I’m strange… but I have to say that this morning, I was unimpressed with the local morning news show. In fact, I was about ready to throw a shoe at the tv screen. But THAT would have been crazy, and destructive.

On the news roll:

Diet Coke: For 10 minutes I was told about the miracles of diet coke and the genius of new flavorings. Since EVERYBODY drinks it, now I will want to drink it even more because of said flavorings. The speaker even went far enough to compare this diet coke with a refreshing glass of cold water after a long run. Say what?!?

Party Decorations: Cut up a ton of plastic tablecloths to make tassels for balloons, the more tassels the better. Sure, a waste of plastic, but that’s not what irked me. They then went into the helium shortage saying that I need to search all over to find the helium and then use the VERY LARGEST balloons I can find because they are all the rage. So shortage= increased consumption. Awesome.

Diet coke: again! Every report included more comments about the miracle of diet coke. Over and over. Best part, the name of the recipe was the “DIRTY COKE.” Go figure. If only it were for the right reasons.

How to fill small empty spaces in your home: if you have an empty corner, fill it! Must have more stuff!

Eat more hotdogs: Garnishes. Where to buy the best ones. How to cut them creatively. Not a huge deal, people eat meat. But once again, not applicable to me.

I don’t drink diet coke. I would rather use fresh cut flowers than super-size helium balloons. And I am always on the hunt for more things to purge from our home in the name of simplicity. And hot dogs? Bleh.

I know I am not “normal.” But am I really THAT strange? So I’m mormon, vegan, running, nature loving momma. Honestly, I’m ok with that. In fact I feel like I am living true to myself and what I believe. It’s a good thing. No regrets.

Now for a recipe!  My fantastically talented step-mom Kim is a kitchen wiz and found a version of this recipe (she has an eye for a good recipe.) I switched to unsweetened coconut, added cinnamon, used almond instead of peanut butter and added sea salt (since we use unsalted nut butters.) I know we have other no-bake cookie options on this site but this is our family’s new favorite. It has been perfect for the kids cold lunches and a great way to get extra protein and omegas into their growing little bodies. The kids happily eat them up in moments, though I may help a little. 🙂

Happiness in a Cookie Bite

1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond butter
1/4 c. liquid sweetener of choice
1 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. chocolate chips (best if chopped into smaller pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch sea salt (to taste)

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Chill one hour. Add a little water or extra almond butter if too dry. Roll with wet hands into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

Garden Fresh Sweet Potato Chili with Creamy Polenta

Hello friends! I have to start by saying THANK YOU for sharing your wisdom, expertise and inspiration last week in the midst of my baking crisis. We have been cooking up a storm in our kitchen all week and have had some great success.

First, a couple favorites:
Oh She Cooks lovely Banana Bread– It was sweet, golden and beautiful.  I squealed with glee when we pulled it out of the oven!  And I love that she takes the bread one step further to make french toast.  I think next time we will add some cinnamon and berries.

The Double Chocolate Espresso Almond Cookies from Brandi at The Healthy Flavor tasted DIVINE.  They tasted even better than any “regular” brownie plus I got to eat the dough without any egg-related fears.  I substituted ww pastry flour instead of all purpose and Cafix (powdered chickory root) for espresso.  Oh, and I forgot the chocolate chips when gorging myself on the cookie dough…. oops.  I still need to play with the leavening for the right thickness due to the altitude, but regardless, this recipe is a keeper.

Lastly, tonight’s oh-so-tasty sweet potato crockpot chili, adapted from a recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie.

Garden Fresh Sweet Potato Chili

1 large onion, diced (or half of a monster walla walla, like I had)
2 medium sweet potatoes (or yams, whatever you like to call them)
3 cups zucchini, diced
3 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I did 1 can kidney, 2 cans black)
4 tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper
3 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
3 c water with 3 tsp veggie boullion

Put it all in the crockpot and stir together.  Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

15 minutes before dinner, cook up some Creamy Polenta.

1 c corn meal
3 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp salt

Bring milk and salt to a boil.  VERY SLOWLY pour and stir in corn meal (or it will clump up, promise.)  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir until it is a smooth consistency.  Let stand for a couple minutes.

Scoop a few spoonfuls into the bottom of individual dishes and top with chili.  Garnish with lime and cilantro.  Delish!

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip and Dreamy Agave Cornbread

I have to be honest.  I can’t sugar coat things and say I have had a lovely week of vegan bliss.  This week was challenging, in a knock the wind out of your sails kind of way.  It was HARD to be vegan.  Get togethers didn’t have vegan fare, restaurants had limited options, everything I made at home for 2 days was a flop (grey mush, doughy bisquits, the list goes on) and I can’t even tell you how many people gave me “the look.”  You know the one.  The are-you-kidding-me-you-crazy-non-conforming-health-nut-why-don’t-you-just-eat-like-a-normal-person one.

So I press on, determined to stay positive and 0n track.  I feel healthier and lighter as I eat a plant based diet.  When I have slipped and eaten something with processed sugar or have had more carbs than produce, I feel heavy, weighed down.  I know I am on the right path.  I know without a doubt that my health is worth it, for me and for my family.

Now I share  with you my go-to dish.  All ingredients are stocked in my pantry at all times, minus the produce, but those are staples in our kitchen anyways.  If there is a last minute company coming, I always know I can pull out a colorful batch of Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip.  Add tortilla chips, roll it up in a tortilla, serve with cornbread, or eat as a side.  A very versatile dish.  And loaded with nutrients.

I had to show you the separate ingredients, so pretty!  Here it is all stirred up:

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip

3 cans of beans (or 6 cups cooked) rinsed and drained well
3 varieties- black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, be creative!
1 can (2 c. fresh) corn, drained
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 pepper, diced (green, red, jalepeno, mix it up)
1 jar salsa (homemade is best, but whatever you’ve got)
1/2 packet favorite seasoning packet (fajita, guacamole) or individual seasonings to taste
1 avocado, cubed
1 lime

Important:  Save avocado and lime until just before you serve!

Combine all ingredients except avocado and lime.  Gently toss.  Right before serving, drizzle lime juice over avocado and add to other ingredients.  You’re done!

Like I mentioned, this dish is super versatile, so play with it, it’s a tough one to mess up.  That’s saying a lot coming from me. And I have to ask- what’s your go to dish?

Up next, Dreamy Agave Cornbread found on Allrecipes.  I have been craving a moist, delicious baked good lately and finally found one that hit the spot.  They were gobbled up by the family in minutes, next round will need to be a triple batch if I want leftovers!

Vegan Agave Cornbread Muffins

This Kitchen Approved Recipe has an average star rating of 4.8 by 87 voters! a good sign- now 88 🙂

Original Recipe Yield 6 muffins-I made 10 and they were a perfect single serving size for little hands

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I did closer to 1/3 to adjust for altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (we had homemade in the freezer, the little apple chunks were a nice addition)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (I used coconut oil, yummy substitute, worked great especially since our house is so warm it was already melted for ease of use!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin pan.
  2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir in the applesauce, soy milk, and agave nectar. Slowly add the oil while stirring. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick or small knife inserted in the crown of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

We topped ours with strawberry freezer jam- delightful.

And finally we put together this little number for dessert, thanks to Aijay at FreeFlowFoodie only hers was much more lovely seeing as I had three hollering, very hungry children needing me to hurry up.  Beauty had to be sacrificed a bit.  We served the fruit with a yummy berry yogurt and it was a hit.  Aijay, my family gives you props for presentation!

Greek Spinach Rice Balls

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Jen here.  I wrote earlier about my new-to-me Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook.  I just realized that, in spite of my screaming two-year old, it’s time to share (Dad’s home so I’m not totally neglecting my son – he’s preferring dad two-to-one during active melt-downs).

One of my goals is to eat what I grow, and I want to grow more greens, so I  need to eat more greens.  I saw this recipe and thought it would be a great place to start (eating, not growing).  Plus I love lemon and dill together.  We bought a big bag of spinach from Costco (2.5 pounds) and used most of it.  Both kids ate at least a couple of these apiece, but I ended up eating the rest over a couple of days, and they held up well.  I’ll post the recipe as written, with my notes in [brackets].

Greek Spinach Rice Balls, page 35

Makes about 24 Ping-Pong-sized balls; Total time: 40 minutes

These tasty rice balls are fun to make with the kids for an everyday meal or a snack.  They also make good finger food at parties and are a welcome contribution to dish-to-pass suppers.

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and large stems removed
1 cup chopped scallions (about 6 scallions) [I used green onions]
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill (2 teaspoons dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup plain or herbed bread crumbs [throw slices of fresh bread in the blender/food processor until you have enough; if you have extra, you can store them in the the freezer]

In a large covered pot, steam the spinach in the water that clings to the leaves until just wilted, 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain and chop the spinach and set it aside.  In another pan, lightly saute the scallions in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. [Okay – after spending a lot of time with the spinach, next time I will buy frozen, chopped from Trader Joes, thaw it and drain it really, really well.  I’d probably use about 2-3 cups of spinach.  If you do use the fresh, plan on either using a really big pot, or steaming it in a couple of batches.  2 pounds of spinach take up  a lot of space until it cooks down.  For the scallions, I harvested what few green onions I could find in my garden.]

Working the spinach

Working the spinach

Half the spinach

Half the spinach

Garden fresh green onions

Garden fresh green onions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mixing

Mixing

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, scallions, rice, dill, and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well, mashing the rice mixture against the sides of the bowl with the back of a large spoon until the mixture holds together.

Prepare a baking sheet or large baking dish with cooking spray or a very light coating of vegetable oil.  With dampened hands, pack a heaping 1/4 cup of the rice mixture into a firm round ball (like making a snowball). [I found that I didn’t drain the spinach well enough – so my hands were definitely damp.  I squeezed a lot of extra liquid out as I was shaping the balls.  Also, I used closer to a heaping 1/8-cup since my first 1/4-cup ball was as huge as a $1.49 jawbreaker.  I wanted something I could actually fit in my mouth, and so aimed for the recommended ping-pong ball.]

Drain well

Drain well

About the size of a ping pong ball

About the size of a ping pong ball

Roll the ball in the bread crumbs and place it on the baking sheet.  Continue making balls until all of the rice mixture is used, arranging the balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the balls are heated through and crisp on the outside.

VARIATION: Add 1 cup of grated feta cheese to the rice mixture.