Beggin For Brownies…..

18 03 2012

I’ve been on a quest to find the best Vegan brownie recipe in the world. Well, after a number of failed “experiments” I pretty much gave up! My dog even stole one set (that was harder than a hockey puck) out of my kitchen trash. Suitable to be a dog cookie? Enough said! ImageBecause of all of the dry ingredients, the dough just needs some help rising to be edible.

After taste testing a few recipes, I came up with this version of gluten-free goodness! They do have eggs in them, so they would not be considered Vegan. These are great, and you don’t need a very big piece to get a chocolate fix.

The base for the dough is arrowroot. It’s a starch that’s gluten-free and is used in place of flour most frequently to firm up puddings, custards, and in our case here, brownies. The walnut oil is a little pricey but it’s really high in your Omega 3 and 6, so I’m sure that makes it safe to rationalize having a second piece! Both the walnut oil and the arrow root might be hard to find in a traditional grocery store, but you should be able to locate them in a more “health oriented” stores.

Best Brownie Ever

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecans

6 Tablespoons walnut oil, plus extra for the baking pan

½ cup agave nectar

2 whole omega-3 eggs

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup arrowroot

Sunspire chocolate chips and toasted, chopped pecans (unsalted) for “frosting”

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Oil an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with the walnut oil. In a food processor, grind the pecans to the consistency of meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the 6T walnut oil, agave nectar, eggs, cocoa, and arrowroot. Stir to blend. Pour into an oiled 8x8x2 inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately put some of the Sunspire chocolate chips on the top of the brownies just when you pull the pan out of the oven. When melted, use a small spatula to spread. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top. Let cool, then cut into 1 inch squares.

Variation: I used ground almond flour in the dough rather than 1 cup raw pecans; you can purchase the ground almond flour in the baking section at Trader Joe’s.

You could also lose the chocolate chips and dust the top of the cooked brownies with a dusting of powdered sugar.

These are not “vegan” due to the incorporation of eggs, but they are gluten free and dairy free depending upon the type of chocolate chips you use for the frosting.

Adapted from: The UltraMetabolism Prescription, Dr. Mark Hyman available from: http://www.amazon.com/Ultrametabolism-Simple-Plan-Automatic-Weight/dp/0743272560





Classic Comforts

26 02 2012

I had a craving this week for a macaroni salad my Mom used to make when I was a kid, you know the one with the elbow macaroni, peas and onions? One of the challenges of being Vegan is how to get the taste of the comfort foods you remember but in a healthier, vegetable based way. 

Here’s my take on Pea and Onion Pasta Salad – brown rice based elbow macaroni by Tinkyada Pasta Joy (gluten-free), canned organic peas, a little finely diced red onion and Veganaise. Mix and refrigerate for a bit to allow the flavors to blend. Yum! 

That got me on a kick of trying to figure out how to make Vegan Enchiladas. I used corn tortillas (check the label because many brands have some gluten, etc. incorporated) and fried them in a bit of olive oil to soften them, added a mixture of rice and almond based “cheddar” cheeses, and sat them in a bed of homemade enchilada sauce from a wonderful recipe I found online (see: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/easy-enchilada-sauce-recipe/index.html – I just modified this to vegetable broth rather than chicken stock and used organic versions on the canned goods). Place the “cheese” filled rolled tortillas in a baking pan that has some of the homemade sauce in the bottom, cover with a little more sauce, a little “cheese” and place it in a 350* oven for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Eat and enjoy! 

Tabbouleh is a wonderful staple for lunch. In this version I’ve added up about 2 cups (cooked) couscous (not gluten-free! You can substitute cooked Quinoa for the couscous if you are trying to lose the gluten) according to the package directions. The version I used today had some brown rice, lentils and spices already in the mix. I chopped up one bunch of fresh parsley finely. Make sure and dry it thoroughly before trying to chop it up or you will have a big mess! Two Roma tomatoes finely diced and a little bit of red onion diced. Put all of these ingredients in a large bowl with the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and tossed to mix up. 

I’ve been packing up all my food in single serving sized containers so that I can just grab them and throw them in my lunch bag so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking during the busy work week!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Have you experimented with making it more vegetarian friendly? Post your comments below!





Green Goo Goblin Stew

29 10 2011

No boos for you!Ohhhh my lordie! Is this ever good! No boos around the dinner table for you (if you can get past the whole green thing)!! Your friends will be positively green with envy at your culinary skills! Ramp up the scary and put some roasted fingerling potatoes in the bowl before serving! They look just like scary fingers emerging from the goo!

Seriously, this is a fun stew that tastes similar to a Thai green chili base. It is so flavorful. I got the recipe when I attended a recent cooking demonstration at Native Foods given by Chef Tanya Petrovna. She shows you how to have fun and flavor that is beyond measure. One of my favorite restaurants! I haven’t had much experience with Thai cooking and I was surprised at how easy it was to recreate those flavors at home with her recipe. Soul satisfying green goo!

Try to use organic products wherever you can. Be good to you.

 Ingredients for Paste:

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 jalapeno, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, finely chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger (about a 2” piece)

Zest from two limes

2 Tablespoons lime juice

 

Ingredients for Goo Stew:

1 cup chopped spinach

2 cans coconut milk (I use light, just make sure there is no sugar in the one you buy)

1 cup water

1 zucchini, medium, sliced in ¼” half moons

¼ pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces

12 ounce package firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¼“ chunks

1 ½ cups whole cashews (raw, unsalted)

¼ maple syrups (use the real deal, no Aunt Jemima here!)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup fresh basil (for garnish)

Lime wedges (for garnish)

 

First, make the green goo paste:

In a small skillet (no oil) hit the coriander, cumin and whole black pepper to toast slightly.

Grind the freshly roasted spices with a mortar and pestle (get creative with a meat tenderizer or something if you don’t have a mortar/pestle).

Add the salt, jalapenos, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, ginger, lime juice, zest and continue to mash the mix with the mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. Set aside.  This makes enough paste for a couple of batches of the stew. You can freeze half of the paste for use another day.

 Turn the paste into a stew:

In a blender put in 6 Tablespoons of the paste, 1 cup chopped spinach, and one can of the coconut milk and puree.

In a stock pot, pour in the spinach coconut milk puree, the second can of coconut milks, water, zucchini, green beans, tofu, and cashews and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and sea salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

I pureed a few cups of the goo, then added it back to the pot to thicken it up a bit.

Serve over a little rice or pasta and garnish with fresh basil and lime wedges…..and maybe those roasted fingerling potato “fingers”……Boo!  

Get creative! Any green veggies will do in the goo!

 

This recipe isn’t available in Tanya’s book, but she’s got lots of other great, healthy options. It’s available from:  Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook

Try one of Tanya’s restaurants:  www.nativefoods.com  





Sassy Soup

20 09 2011

(AKA Chickenless Noodle Soup)

What always makes you feel better? A bowl of hot soup, no? How can you make this in a vegetarian format while maintaining all the flavor? Why, with my latest discovery….Shirataki noodles….of course!

They are tofu based, but they look, taste and feel like pasta. They are low carb, low-calorie, sugar fee, gluten-free miracles!  You can find them in next to the tofu in the refrigerator section. They may not be in all grocery stores yet, but you can find them in your natural stores for sure.

Yield should be about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (organic) carrots peeled and sliced (or 12 mini carrots sliced lengthwise)
  • 2 stalks (organic) celery, diced
  • 1 (organic) yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1  8 ounce package shirataki noodles (I used the “spaghetti” shape)

Directions

Heat oil in a large soup pan and sauté the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) for 3 to 4 minutes until veggies are just barely beginning to brown on the edges. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

While waiting for the soup, empty a bag of shirataki noodles into a strainer and rinse thoroughly. As the bag I used stated, “to reduce the authentic aroma.” A statement like this and you know I’m going to be encouraged to sniff, of course, and all I can say is learn from the error of my ways! You should rinse the noodles thoroughly! Drain them well! When the stock is ready, add the noodles, give it a quick stir, and boil for about 3 minutes more. Check for flavor and adjust seasonings as necessary. Portion into bowls, include a side of crusty bread, a little salad, or cornbread and then eat and enjoy! 

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the shirataki noodles! They have a great flavor without all the calories.  For more info on the noodles, here’s a link to the website for the brand that I used:  http://www.house-foods.com/tofu/tofu_shirataki.aspx

Mmmmm! Just what Docktah Mom ordered! Enjoy!

      





Tofu Taco Tuesday!

16 08 2011
Tofu Tacos

Tofu has some great benefits. It is an inexpensive source of good plant-based protein, fairly low-calorie, with some calcium and iron to boot! Check the specific package for additional info.

Now if you’re not a tofu lover, please do try to keep an open mind. It really is a good and simple recipe. I promise! There’s something about draining the water out of the tofu that makes it crisp up really nice. A little slice of heaven!

 Yield should be about 8 tacos

  • Ingredients

1 Extra Firm Organic Tofu, 12 ounce package

1 package taco sized tortillas (about 5”)  (I used La Tortilla Hand Made Style White Corn Tortillas today)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Shredded green cabbage

Gringo Salsa (recipe follows)

1 can Pickled Carrots (carrots pickled in a vinegar brine with jalapeños, in the international aisle)

Fresh Cilantro

Directions 

Open the tofu and drain the extra liquid. Slice the block of tofu into 8 equal slices along the long side of the block (so they fit the length of the tortillas best). Drain the tofu slices on paper towel. Blot on all sides to remove as much moisture as possible. This is a really important step! 

Preheat a frying pan with the olive oil. When hot (don’t let the oil steam, that’s too hot!) then place the tofu slices in the pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and place on paper towel. 

Warm the tortillas, either in the drained frying pan or in the microwave for a few seconds.

Place a slice of tofu on each of the tortillas, top with the shredded green cabbage, gringo salsa, and pickled carrots, top it off with some fresh cilantro leaves…..and enjoy! 

The ingredients store really well for use the next day as long as you package all of the items separately so nothing gets soggy. 

For the Gringo Salsa

Dice:

  • 2 tomatoes (I used some organic heirloom tomatoes today)
  • ½ of a red onion
  • 1 T. fresh cilantro leaves

Mix and enjoy! You may want to add some diced jalapeno to taste if you prefer more of a kick. 

And you know the minute I took this taco picture, I added about 10 more carrots to each taco before eating!  Craving satisfied! 

P.S…..my dog Sadie seems to have developed a fondness for the pickled carrots as well. She was taking them right and left! Good chow!

Hey…..What’s something odd you’ve craved? Post yours in the Comments section below!





Sweet Potato Turnovers

30 07 2011

Ingredients

2 pounds sweet potatoes, whole and unpeeled

1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

1/4 cup organic brown sugar

1 lemon, zested

2/3 cup almond meal/almond flour (ground almonds, available from sources such as  Trader Joes or Red Mill)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (2 packages)

1 egg, beaten

Powdered sugar, for dusting

 Directions

 Preheat the oven to 400*F.

 Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over medium heat and cook until soft, approximately 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. Place in bowl and mash with a fork. Add the sugars and mix thoroughly. Stir in the lemon zest, ground almonds, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and honey.

Unfold the puff pastry and using a 3 to 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles of the dough as possible. If you don’t have a cutter, use a small bowl or glass and cut around it with a knife. Put about a tablespoon of sweet potato filling on each circle, then fold the circles in half. Press the edges together and then crimp with a fork to seal. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush the top of each turnover with beaten egg.  Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Watch it carefully! Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes then dust with sifted powdered sugar.

 Yield should be about 20 turnovers

For an extra treat, bake up the extra scraps of puff pastry. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar before baking.

I came up with quite a bit of leftover filling. I put it in a small springform pan (6”) and then covered the top with puff pastry pieces and then sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar. I baked it up for 15 minutes for a crustless sweet potato pie! Yummy!

Recipe adapted from “Outta Sight Sweet Potato Turnovers,” Aaron McCargo, Jr., Food Network.





Wanton Whispers

17 07 2011

I was out at the pool in my homeowner’s association today working on my daily dose of Vitamin D.  There’s something about that summer sun that soothes the soul.  I had a tall bottle of water, a new magazine, beach towel perfectly draped on the lounge chair. I set the 30 minute timer on iPhone to remind me when it’s time to flip over. I was perfectly poised for wonderful possibilities!

When I laid down near the spa, which is in a partially enclosed area with a curved wall, it was suddenly as if I had been transported through space to the whispering gallery in St. Paul’s Cathedral; the church home that was the place where Prince Charles and Lady Di married. The cathedral that I’ve had the opportunity to visit and happen upon an eventide service with stunning voices echoing throughout the halls; This massive place of worship, designed by Christopher Wren has a not so secret gallery up in the dome. After a few satisfying steps, you alight to a walkway that rims the dome, something like 100 feet above the ground floor, and when you whisper against the wall, anyone near the wall at any point around the dome walkway, can hear precisely what you are whispering about.  <travelus interruptus!>

Only what I was hearing out at the pool was not echoes of sweet prayers and heartfelt songs of praise.  It was……a bunch of cats engaging in some vicious gossip about another. Now my intent is not to sell my gender down the river, and I’m not here to suggest that I’ve never engaged in gossip myself, dear reader. It was just one of those teachable moments I had the opportunity to participate in which I’m choosing to take as a personal reminder why I shouldn’t gossip. I’m sure they had no idea that I could hear all they were saying as the sound secretly traveled around every inch of that curved retaining wall. I’d like to think they would be embarrassed if they knew that I could hear every wretched word, as I would have been if it had been me.

I don’t know the gaggle of gals and I’ll never know the identity of the one of which they were speaking.  But I did just lay there for a minute thinking about the person they were speaking of.  I would venture to guess we’ve all had days here or there that we’ve felt like the world was against us. How are we to respond when life drops unavoidable negative circumstances in our path?

“All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me…”  Psalm 41:7 (NIV)

We know that Jesus experienced the same whispering issues in Galilee. John 7:12 says, “Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”  There was a mixed bag for him too. We can tell that people had strong reactions to him and it’s only natural that there would have been a fair amount of gossiping going on about him behind his back. We know for sure that Jesus felt the weight of the world on the cross.

“Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer.” Isaiah 26:16 (NIV)

All this to say, dear ones, your Savior knows what you’re going through when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. He’s been there too. Cry out to him, even when you don’t have the strength to. Cling to him. He’s trustworthy. He’ll rescue you.  He can calm the storms and rough seas in your life, if you let him. He wants you to cry out to him. He’ll bring you the peace that passes all understanding. He’ll stand beside you while you face those pesky pessimists.

 “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”  Psalm 107:29 (NIV)

He’s waiting for your wanton whispers.

**Let’s get a conversation going. What do you do when you have times of distress and you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders? What are some ways that you walk through the storms? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Catty Corny Chowder

On the menu this evening is the now officially titled catty corn chowder in honor of that gaggle of girlies! Fast and easy summer supper….with leftovers!

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 large potatoes peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
8 cups of water (or low sodium chicken stock is an option)

Directions:
In a stock pot, heat the oil and add the onions. Fry about 5 minutes until they are translucent. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about 30 minutes. You will now puree the soup. If you are using a blender, please make sure and cool the mixture before pureeing. Learn from my mistakes. Hot food in a blender, with the top on, makes the glass explode from the pressure. Physics 101 lecture now completed and it’s too pretty a day to have to mop up a mess. You may also use a stick blender if you have one. Now you have a choice here. You may puree it all if you prefer is smooth, or only half if you like a few chunks of corny potato goodness. Plate and serve. This works for leftovers too!

Serving Ideas:
I made up a little gringo salsa with some fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro to put on top. Pretty! Pair it up with a crisp green salad or a hot crusty roll (or both!) and you’ve got yourself a nice little meal (and lunch tomorrow!)








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