Vegan Chesapeake Bay Seafood Boil Chex Mix
Non-Vegan Mom and Teen Son Approved

I love the idea of a “seafood” boil…if it just weren’t for the seafood.

Give me a big sea salted pot of red potatoes and corn on the cob seasoned with Old Bay, steamed, drained, and dumped out onto newspaper- covered picnic tables in a sandy setting near sunset and I have would be perfectly happy.  Forget the shellfish.

And that is exactly what this iteration of my beloved global- and Americana-inspired Chex Mix evokes.  I use potato sticks–sold on the snack food aisle–as a nod in the direction of the small red potatoes and both corn nuts and Bugles to be reminiscent of corn on the cob.  But, if you can’t find corn nuts–I can find them at Whole Foods and sometimes Kroger–you can substitute more Bugles or some Corn Chex Cereal.  Oyster crackers remind me of every seafood restaurant I have ever dined in while adding texture and helping extend the mix, as do the Cheerios with their irresistible shape.  And I include pecans just because they seem so Southern, I love them, and every snack mix worth it’s, um, salt needs nuts.  Peanuts would be a less expensive and still very tasty and southern substitute.

From where, you may ask, does that kiss of the sea come?  Ah, that’s easy: roasted seaweed sheets.  I use Gimme brand sea salt or toasted sesame flavored organic sheets which I find at Whole Foods.  But a grocery store variety of Nori will work just great.  Gently crumbled and torn with your fingers, roasted seaweed is absolute perfection in this mix.  Plus, into the vegan butter base, I blend vegan tartar sauce–I use a tofu-based homemade variety, but a commercial brand would be just fine–lemon juice which I associate with seafood, and soy sauce which, for some reason, seems much more “seafoody” and less Asian in this mix.  I promise that the tartar sauce does not make the mix heavy. Quite the opposite: the end product emerges from the oven crispy and lightly toasted snack-worthy perfection.

My omnivorous friend and her seventeen year old omni son with whom I gifted it yesterday (she had agreed to let me feature her “Mom Cave” in a freelance story) thought it was outstanding and I hope you do.

Vegan Chesapeake Bay Seafood Boil Chex Mix

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan tartar sauce (purchased or homemade; mine is homemade)

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (sometimes called Chesapeake Bay seasoning)

6 cups Cheerios

10 ounces oyster crackers

1/2 7.5 ounce bag Bugels

4 ounces Potato Sticks

2 cups corn nuts (or 2 additional cups Bugles or 2 cups Corn Chex Cereal)

6 ounces pecan halves

.35 ounces roasted seaweed sheets (I use Gimme brand sea salt or toasted sesame), crumbled and/or torn into coarse pieces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place vegan butter in a large roasting pan and place pan in oven for a few minutes until butter is melted. Remove pan from oven and whisk in vegan tartar sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, and Old Bay seasoning. Then, in the order listed, gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Place the pan back in the oven and bake mixture for 45 minutes, gently stirring every 15. Let cool completely and then package in airtight containers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan (Outrageous!) Loaded Tater Tot Chex Mix
without the Chex

I guess you could call this “hunker down” food, as I seem to get a powerful urge to get my Chex on when temperatures drop and snow is in the forecast.  With snow predicted to start falling yesterday at around 4 p.m. and an early release from the high school where I teach art, I found myself in Whole Foods and Kroger buying “necessities.”

A few years back, I went on a Chex bender creating half a dozen or more delicious flavors, some with actual Chex cereal and some just inspired by that original Chex Mix recipe that my Texan mother always referred to as “Texas Trash.”  (You can find them all here–Tex-Mex, Indian, Thai, Italian, and more–just search “Chex mix.”)

That same craving was starting to play around the corners of my mind and belly again but, honestly, I have created so many of these recipes that there didn’t seem to be much uncharted territory left in the savory world that is.  Sweet Chex Mix just doesn’t do it for me, though I might create a Moroccan flavored one with dried apricots.  Stay tuned.

This cold weather–okay, pretty much any weather–ignites my appetite for Tater Tots: that crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside-ever-so-slightly-greasy goodness.  And, recently, on the Whole Foods “hot bar,” they were serving “Loaded Tater Tots,” which, of course, I couldn’t eat, as they were piled with bacon, cheddar cheese, and sour cream, along with fresh, bright green onions. But I could certainly fantasize; and, in the process, I realized I could easily translate all of those flavors to a Chex-less Mix.

The tots themselves became Potato Sticks (sold on most snack aisles) and fried onions in a can (you know, the kind used for green bean casserole topping) to capture the crispy fried goodness of the Tot exterior while also imparting the onion flavor.  The bacon became smoked almonds–and I threw in lots of pecan halves just because I love them–and the cheese Earth Balance Cheddar Flavored Squares.  (Here in Virginia, I find them at Whole Foods, where the cashier and I had a conversation about what a dead-ringer they are for Cheez-Its.)   To lend the tanginess of sour cream, I actually whisked some vegan sour cream into the melted vegan butter base.  It does not make the mix soggy–far from it.   And, finally, I included Cheerios because they are neutral in flavor, a cute shape, deliciously crunchy, extend the volume of the mix, and are one of my favorite ingredients in the original Chex Mix.

So, there you have it.  This ain’t no vegan health food, so don’t even start, but for the occasional splurge or gift from your kitchen?  Oh yea!  However, having second thoughts about being snowed in with all of this high-calorie goodness, I decided to gift it to neighbors.  After I walked the dogs late in the afternoon as the beautiful snow began to come down, I went for my own walk.  Before I set out into the deepening snow, I tucked a late gift for one of our dog walkers and a huge canister of mix into one plastic bag and a casserole dish that I needed to return to someone else filled with the rest of the mix into its own snow-proof bag.

I love bundling up and experiencing the world when it is hushed and still, wrapped ’round with a frozen white cloak.  It was even more satisfying for my muffled footsteps to be taking me on a solo mission that would bring a little tasty joy into the cozy homes of friends at opposite ends of our neighborhood.

Vegan Loaded Tater Tot Chex Mix

1/2 cup vegan butter
4 tablespoons vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon garlic powder
12 ounces pecan halves
6 ounces smoked almonds
6 cups Cheerios
6 ounces Earth Balance vegan cheddar flavor squares
4 ounces Potato Sticks
6 ounces fried onions in a can

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place vegan butter in a large roasting pan and place pan in oven for a few minutes until butter is melted. Remove pan from oven and whisk in vegan sour cream, Liquid Aminos, and garlic powder. Then, in the order listed, gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Place the pan back in the oven and bake mixture for 45 minutes, gently stirring every 15. Let cool completely and then package in airtight containers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Salad Burgers
with My Secret Binder: Brown Rice Cakes!
Leftover Bean Salad Never Looked or Tasted So Good!

If you have one of “those” bean salads hanging around in your refrigerator–you know, tasty enough, but not exciting enough to eat over and over again–STOP!  Don’t throw it out or force yourself to eat it as is.

Instead, make my newest “burger” creations.  These could not be quicker, easier, nor tastier.

With a salad similar to the lovely one below in the fridge leftover from my mother’s New Year’s Day tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck–it was good, but unremarkable enough that I didn’t photograph and post (such salads are a dime a dozen)–it suddenly occurred to me that I could use it as the basis for a bean burger.  But I didn’t want to use the traditional high calorie binder of nuts or flour or even oatmeal because I didn’t have any.  But I did have brown rice cakes (vastly superior in flavor and texture to the white rice ones, as  I recently discovered).

Hattie B's Black Eyed Pea Salad | Life, Love, and Good Food

(photo credit: Sheila Thigpen on Epicurious)

Perusing my pantry, it occurred to me that rice cakes might be just the perfect moisture-absorbing binder I sought.  It turns out that one rice cake per one cup of salad binds perfectly, lending a lovely–I’d say ideal–texture.  Of course, it will depend on the moisture in your salad, so be prepared to add more or perhaps even less.

And for an exterior with an irresistible crusty crunch, I experimented with plain, unseasoned yellow cornmeal.  It was perfect.

Regarding presentation, more Snow Days, courtesy Winter Storm Grayson, than we have had since I begin my teaching career 15 years ago meant that my weekday lunches looked a little different than they do on my art room desk at school.  For the nicest presentation, go for height and color contrast.  I made my cakes small-ish and thick-ish, akin to a crabcake.  And I stacked two on a nest of fresh baby spinach, topping them with a little vegan sour cream and cranberry relish–red is the complementary color of green–leftover from Christmas, finishing with a sprinkling of roasted and lightly salted pepitas.  The combination earns an A+ according to my stringent rubric.

(Note: certainly, you can serve this burger on a bun if you choose, but I prefer mine open-faced, as bread just provides too many calories and not enough nutrition in my diet of around 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day.  Keeps me in fighting form!)

I hope you agree.

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Burgers

Yield: 4 patties

2 cups black-eyed pea or any bean salad

2 brown rice cakes crumbled (may require more or less depending on moisture in your salad)

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

Vegetable oil

Optional accompaniment: baby spinach or your favorite greens

Vegan sour cream or your favorite sauce

Vegan relish or salsa (I used cranberry relish leftover from Christmas)

Optional garnish: roasted and lightly salted pepitas or your favorite nut or seed

In a food processor, pulse bean salad until it is finely minced and just starting to hold together.  Crumble 1 1/2 rice cakes into the processor and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together almost like a cookie dough, but with lots of texture and flecks of color.  Add the remaining rice cake or more if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Remove mixture to a bowl and, using a scoop or spoon, compact 1/4 of the dough into a patty about an inch tall.  Set on a plate.  Repeat with remaining mixture to make 4 patties.  Place yellow cornmeal in a shallow bowl and lay each patty on top, patting the cornmeal onto all the surfaces, flipping for a nice even coating top and bottom.  Heat a very thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium (or at whatever temperature gives you a nice sizzle).  Carefully place each patty into the pan, cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned on the first side, flip, and cook 3 more minutes or until lightly browned on the reverse.  Serve on a bed of baby greens, drizzle with vegan sour cream or a favorite sauce, top with a dollop of relish or salsa, and sprinkle with the nut or seed of your choice.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Riced Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole
Quick-and-Easy

I think I have just invented legal crack!  I am a little late to the “riced” vegetable party, as I like my fried rice with, well, rice.  But, this casserole has made me a believer.

My Vegan Riced Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole has it all:

  • The entire casserole is vibrantly healthy and only 535 calories. That means you could eat the whole thing and still be under the typical number of calories for an entire meal.  Of course, you might have buzzard breath and a little abdominal gas, but that’s a small price to pay, no?
  • It goes together, stove top, in about 20 minutes plus 15 minutes of optional oven baking.
  • It is an ideal side for a host of main dishes, but you could also stuff an enchilada, spread it on toasted bread for crostini or on pizza, include it as a layer in lasagna, or serve it as a dip, just for starters.

Note: I purchased the broccoli and cauliflower already riced at Whole Foods, but you can make your own simply by pulsing chunks of both vegetables in a food processor until very finely minced.

1 tablespoons olive oil (125 calories)

4 green onions (both the white and green part), thinly sliced (20 calories)

2 large cloves garlic, minced (10 calories)

Pinch of sea salt and freshly grated black pepper

16 ounces (approximately 4 cups) riced broccoli-cauliflower combination (125 calories)

1 cup vegetable broth or stock (20 calories)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or a scant 1 teaspoon fresh, minced

2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese, e.g. Tofutti brand (60 calories)

4 + 1 tablespoon vegan shredded Parmesan; e.g. Follow Your Heart brand (125 calories)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but I like the flavor and health benefits; they don’t call it “nutritional” for nothing) (50 calories)

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I love nutmeg in creamy savory dishes, but only the fresh)

Optional (but recommended): Zest of one-half medium lemon

(Note that my new Samsung gas range cooks with a lot of power.  What I used to cook at medium-high, I now cook at medium-low or low.  Seriously.  So, adjust accordingly.  I am going to recommend “medium” as a, well, happy medium.)

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add green onions and garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and saute, stirring, just until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add riced vegetables and saute, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Add broth and thyme.  Stir well to combine and simmer for 10 minutes or until moisture is released into cooking liquid and then almost entirely evaporated.  Stir in cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, optional nutritional yeast, and nutmeg, and heat until melted.  Stir in optional lemon zest.  At this point, you can either sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan and serve, or transfer mixture to a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan, and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Pre-Baked

 

Baked
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Buffalo Roasted Butternut Fries

Yield: 2 servings

My latest Buffalo-flavored obsession needs little introduction.  It’s the traditional bar food with a side of compassion.

2 tablespoons melted vegan butter

.75 to 1 ounce dry Buffalo mix (I prefer mild)

20 ounces butternut squash cut into fries

1/4 cup vegan sour cream or Daiya brand blue cheez dressing

1/4 cup shredded vegan parmesan (I like Follow Your Heart)

1/4 cup finely diced celery

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in a rimmed baking sheet.  Add squash fries and gently toss to coat.  Sprinkle with Buffalo mix and gently toss well again to evenly coat. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occssionally. Or until golden and slightly caramelized. Cool slightly.  Divide in half and top each serving with half each of the sour cream or dressing, parmesan, and celery.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Cheese,
Maple Syrup & Sriracha
4 ingredient, quick & easy, super sexy appetizer

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t enjoy Brussels sprouts for breakfast. However, southeast Virginia, where I live, just experienced “Snowmageddon,” aka The Blizzard of 2018, and the light is absolutely breathtaking.

So I knew I wanted to do a photoshoot this morning to take advantage of the glorious glistening out the window.  And I certainly wasn’t going to allow these beauties to go to waste.

If you are in need of a quick, drop-dead gorgeous, and delicious appetizer–or breakfast (just kidding)–look no further.
Simply top crispy roasted Brussels sprouts halves with a dollop of softened vegan cream cheese or nut cheese, homemade or prepared like Treeline brand, a drizzle of maple syrup from a spoon going in one direction, and a drizzle of sriracha straight from the bottle going in the other direction–almost like handwriting–and finish with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. (Note: I am impatient and like my Brussels sprouts practically charred, so I roast them at 500 degrees with just a hint of nonstick spray or olive oil and coarse sea salt, stir them a couple of times, and watch them carefully.)

Voila! You will impress your guests and satisfy both their eyes and their appetites.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Cheesy Buffalo Chickpea-Tater Tot Casserole

Bob and I hosted our 2nd Annual Christmas Day open house again this year. It is amazing how many people are available on Christmas afternoon. We started at 3:30 and went on for hours. 35 people graced our home with their love, laughter, and warmth, creating such a special holiday.

Oh, and they also graced it with lovely and delicious vegan food. Last year, because we were hosting Christmas dinner for Bob’s family afterwards, I just did sweets and cider. This year, generous guests wanted to bring much more food and I didn’t turn them down on their gracious offers.

Our good friend, Juan Gelpi, loves my hot buffalo chickpea dip, so I made some in my never before used deluxe stainless steel Crock-Pot, and I will definitely do that again.

With some leftovers and a house guest for the week who we ended up taking out for most every finner, I didn’t want any spoilage and waste, so I decided to make Juan and his wife, Barbara, both excellent vegan cooks, a casserole out of the leftover dip.

Let’s just say that these two serious foodies gave it a big thumbs up.  And I hope you do too. Honestly, there i nothing not to like about this intensely comforting and satisfying casserole.

1-20 ounce package white or sweet potato tater tots, baked according to package directions ( I used Alexia brand Sweet Potato Puffs)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cup celery, diced

3/4 + 1/4 cup cup sliced green onions

3 cups Vegan Cheesy Baked Buffalo Chickpea Dip, at room temperature

(http://www.thebloomingplatter.com/vegan-appetizers/vegan-baked-buffalo-dipbetsys-best)

1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese or cheddar cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and saute, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 3/4 cup green onions and continue sauteing a couple of minutes just until slightly wilted. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine sauteed vegetables, baked tater tots, and dip.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with grated cheddar and remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Cheesy Garlic and Herb Snack Crackers
quick and easy perfection

Every year of my life, until my mother passed away, I was in my parents home for Christmas. And every night before I was due to fly home, my mother would be up late–me often with her, though I tended to give out earlier than her even more intrepid and tenacious self–in the kitchen making a treat for me to take on the plane. It was either Chex Mix, which she called Texas Trash, or her famous almond butter toffee.

After Mama died, my father and sister were supposed to come to Virginia to celebrate Christmas with me, and both times there plans fell through. The first year, which was 2 years ago, they both got sick. This year, they got snowed in.

But, Tammy Wells, my best friend since 3rd grade, who was, like me, also recently widowed, came on Christmas Day to attend Bob’s and my open house for 35 beloved people in our lives, and spend the week. It has been a glorious will we end up hiking in the freezing cold, happy hours and tea with friends, dinner with Bob’s family, yoga, and more.

She is leaving at 6 this evening, flying back to Mississippi, so I had to uphold the tradition of my dear Mama, whom one of my friends dubbed the Genius of Christmas, and make Tammy  a treat for the plane.

I love Chex Mix and almond butter toffee, but I needed something even quicker. So I devised this tecioe in my mind, whipped it up, and even Bob the Omni who, for the most part, does not care for my food, loved them.

I will be making this quick and easy treat over and I can throughout the holidays and beyond.  Feel free to experiment with different types of dry seasoning mixes and nuts.

Recipe

1 6-ounce box Earth Balance Cheddar Flavor Squares

1/4 chp roasted and sakted almonds

1/4 cup really good olive oil

.70 to .75 ounce package dried garlic and herb seasoning mix

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a 9 x 13 -nch metal baking pan, combine crackers and almonds. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together olive oil, seasoning mix, and paprika. Drizzle over crackers and almonds, stir gently to combine well, place in oven and bake for 7 minutes.  Stir and bake for 7 more minutes. Let cool and store in airtight containers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Nutella and Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

I can’t see Santa’s Forest for these adorable trees.

Apparently they are all the rage this year, but I was evidently a little late to the pastry tree party.  Make yours with pizza dough or puff pastry and spread with the sweet or savory filling you most crave. Just be sure to include a creamy base to adhere the layers together.

My version is sweet–but not too–uses only three ingredients and, after the pastry thaws, is ready to devour in under 30 minutes.  I left a Middle Eastern dinner and this tree last night for our dog sitters (yes, we are those dog owners) while we joined friends for their Christmas Eve Eve tradition: a salad and sip of wine followed by a Christmas light-lit walk over to the Naro, an independent film house, to see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The twins left some of the tabouli salad but not a crumb of the pastry. It was a huge hit with these 19 year olds.

My take on this new classic was inspired by its key ingredient: Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Oraganic Dairy-Free Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread, generously sent to me for product review purposes. With a deeply nutty and chocolatey flavor–its richness undiluted by dairy–and a thick and creamy–but spreadable–texture, this product is tops in my pantry (it needs no refrigeration).  It is also gluten- and palm oil-free.

Recipe

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions

4.5 to 5 ounces vegan Hazelnut-Cocoa spread (1/2 jar Nocciolata)

1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On baking stone or parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, stack the two pastry sheets.  With a sharp knife, cut into a triangular tree shape with a 1-inch or so wide trunk at the bottom. Remove top sheet, spread bottom sheet with hazelnut-cocoa spread, replace top sheet, lining up edges, and press down gently.

Cut 1 star from scraps and whatever other shapes you like fir nibbling or to serve as croutons on salads. Place pastry shapes on a separate stone or lined baking sheet.

Make 3/4-inch wide horizontal cuts from outer edges of triangle toward the center, stopping even with outer edges of trunk leaving a 1-inch or so wide trunk up the center. Twist each long cut strip twice and the shorter ones once, pressing tips firmly against baking stone or sheet.  Brush very lightly with non-dairy milk, press star onto top point, and brush star with a tiny bit more non-dairy milk.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, but remove shapes cut from scraps after 10 or 15 minutes or they will burn. Remove baking sheet with pastry tree from oven, cool slightly, and slide tree onto serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Roasted Za’atar Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

If, like me, you find yourself in need of quick, no-fuss holiday gifts from your kitchen, you and your recipients will love my twist on a classic. The Middle Eastern flavor of za’atar curls up next to a hint of smoked paprika, garlic, and tamarind syrup for an intoxicating savory and slightly sweet flavor combination that is tantalizingly exotic, but not odd.

Za’atar is an aromatic Middle Eastern herb blend of earthy-lemony sumac, oregano, thyme, savory, and sesame seeds.

Package these seeds in pretty canisters or jars…or enjoy them warm right off the baking sheet.

Note: adjust spices if necessary to suit your palate.

4 cups raw pumpkin seeds (I purchased sprouted seeds at Whole Foods)

Non-stick spray

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons za’tar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tamarind syrup (sold at Middle Eastern markets)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray (so that less oil is needed).  Spread seeds out in an even layer. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with remaining ingredients except tamarind syrup, and roast for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown, stirring half-way through. Remove from oven, drizzle with tamarind syrup, stir well to distribute evenly, cool on wire rack, and package in airtight containers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email