The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--horizontalYield: 6 to 8 servings

(If you want to skip the backstory and product review, just scroll down a little bit to the creamy-cheesy recipe!)

Recently, I received a big box of Go Veggie! vegan products to test.  If your preferred grocery store, like mine, only stocks Go Veggie! vegetarian products (made with casein and such) and you thought it wasn’t the brand for you, I have good news: they make quite a range of vegan cheeses and, so far, I have found them very tasty with beautiful melt-ability.  Look for the purple packaging and click here for a store locator.

Just prior to receiving the bountiful box, I had seen two unrelated shows on the Food Network in which the hosts made mac-n-cheese, so that seemed the perfect dish in which to test several of the products all at once.  Both recipes were made with a veloute sauce instead of a bechamel.   Of this pair of French “mother” sauces, bechamel is a classic white sauce and veloute exactly the same, only made with stock instead of milk or cream.  I liked the idea of a veloute since so much “dairy” is used for mac-n-cheese anyway.  But if you are a non-dairy “Dairy Queen,” then, by all means, substitute your favorite non-dairy milk for the vegetable base/bouillion and water.

So, this morning, having literally not cooked all week–we dined out for dinner a lot with a guest in town, meaning there was also plenty of leftovers for my school lunches–I eagerly woke up  and dove into what turned out to be my very simple and satisfying project.  Since the cheddar-like package of “shreds” I was sent was called “Mexican Flavor,” I decided to nudge my recipe slightly west of  the Missisippi River without making it overpoweringly Mexican.

The award-winning Go Veggie! Dairy Free Cream Cheese Alternative added just the right amount of body to my veloute, which is definitely a bit thinner than a bechamel, due ot the lack of butterfat.   Their cream cheese has a pleasantly mild flavor and creamy texture, though a little liquid had separated, which may have been due to shipping and really didn’t present a problem, regardless; I simply poured it off before using.

The Go Veggie! Dairy Free Mexican Flavor Shreds melted beautifully, though I could barely detect any Mexican spices in the mix of both Cheddar- and Jack-style shreds, which is probably just as well because that allows the cook to better control the spices and resulting flavor.  I chose a mere half teaspoon of ground cumin and a quarter teaspoon each of chili powder, dried oregano, and smoked paprika, along with onion, garlic and roasted poblano peppers.

For the topping, the Go Veggie! Dairy Free Grated Parmesan Style Cheese was tasty–nutty, pungent and appealingly dry–and browned just perfectly mixed with vegan butter and Panko bread crumbs.  I could have used crushed corn chips, but I was trying to merely suggest the Southwest, not hit anyone over the head with a sombrero!

Speaking of heads, I am head-over-heels for this one, and hope you are too!  My finished dish is just perfect to me: not a thick, “gloppy” cut-it-with-a-knife mac-n-cheese, but pasta noodles bathed in a rich, silky, deeply flavorful and golden sauce with plenty of cheesiness, though far less cheese than many recipes call for.

6 tablespoons vegan butter

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

2 rounded teaspoons powdered vegetable base (or 2-3 bouillion cubes; not the extra large ones for 2 cups of liquid)

Pinch sea salt

2 cups water (or your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk)

1/4 cup Go Veggie! Dairy Free Cream Cheese Alternative

1-8 ounce package Go Veggie! Dairy Free Mexican Flavor Shreds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chili powder (mile or hot, your choice)

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon freshly gound black pepper

2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded, halved, roasted under the broiler until skin blackens (about 5 minutes), skin removed, and finely diced

8 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained, rinsed, and drained again

Crunchy Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.   In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onoins are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook and stir for another minute.  Whisk in flour to make a roux, cooking and whisking for a couple of minutes to remove raw flour taste.  Slowly whisk in vegtable base and water.  (Note: you may substitute vegetable stock for vegetable base and water.)  And cook for about 7 or so minutes or until sauce is quite thick.  Add cream cheese alternative and whisk until melted, followed by shreds and all spices.  Check for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.  Stir in poblano peppers and then fold sauce into pasta and spoon lightly into prepared dish.  Sprinkle topping evenly over the surface, covering completely, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to reabsorb back into the pasta.

Crunchy Topping:

1 tablespoon vegan butter

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup Go Veggie! Dairy Free Parmesan Style Grated Cheese

In a small saucepan, melt butter overmedium high.  Remove from heat and stir in crumbs and cheese until all ingredients are well combined.

Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--vertical

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Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer

Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer

Yield: 6 serving

Necessity was definitely the mother of invention with this soup: I was hungry for dinner and there was a can of diced tomatoes and pureed pumpkin in the pantry, and lemons and Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese in the fridge.  Voila: soup!  I was drinking a glass of wine while I was cooking, so in went some of it and, honestly, not a whole lot more save some aromatics, spices, and veggie stock.

The results received raves from three friends who were recipients: my yoga teacher (who is a foodie and cooking instructor in her own right), and two others who are nursing some kind of bug that is going around, both also excellent cooks and, as it happens, artists, one of whom took the photo at right before she and her husband tucked into it. Her photo has an artist’s touch no?  She said I should describe this recipe as, “The soup that briangs you back!”

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry red wine

4 ounces vegan cream cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest (do not omit–adds such a lovely freshness!)

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high.  Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and spices and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, for another minute.  Add tomatoes and pumpkin and stir until well combined.  Whisk in stock, 1 cup at a time, followed by red wine.  Heat through and then add vegan cream cheese in pieces, whisking until completely melted.  Stir in lemon zest and serve.

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Go Veggie Smoky Cheddar SpreadI haven’t used Go Veggie products in years, ever since I discovered that the Go Veggie products sold at the Kroger where I shop are not vegan.

So, I had no idea that the brand produces quite a selection of vegan products, including slices, shreds, and cream cheese in a variety of flavors plus parmesan style sprinkles until they contacted me and asked if I would like to sample some of them.  Yes, please!

A big box arrived last week and today, a holiday in honor of MLK Day, I am home from school with a little extra time to experiment.  So I did.  A girl’s ‘gotta eat, right?

Having seen a couple of different preparations for Mac-n-Cheese on the Food Network this weekend–both made with a broth-based veloute style sauce and only a little dairy–I decided that I would use the Go Veggie Mexican Flavor and Mozzarella-style Shreds for my own rendition using veggie broth and soymilk.  That left the Cheddar Flavor Vegan Rice Slices for the Smoky Cheddar Spread I had in mind.  I could have used the shreds in my spread and the slices melted into my sauce this evening, but I wanted to see if the slices would shred since I really don’t make sandwiches or other recipes that call for slices of cheese.  And they shred nicely…keep reading!

First, I broke off a strip of one of the slices to taste.  The mild flavor was very pleasant and the texture quite nice.  The slightly damp and slippery exterior was a tiny bit off-putting, but not a big drawback.  With the rest of the strip, I performed a quick melt test, simply laying it on a plate and microwaving it.  It was beautifully melted in less than 10 seconds.  Brilliant!

Next, I fitted my food processor with the grater attachment, stacked the eight unwrapped slices together, folded them in half, fit them down into the feeder tube, flipped the switch, and pressed them down with the plunger.  In seconds, I had lovely shreds.  The cheese is quite soft, but it didn’t “mash” except at the very end as the last little bit went through the chute.  No problem.

I made my Vegan Smoky Cheddar Spread by adding chopped smoked almonds, a little bit of vegan mayo, a pinch of garlic and onion powder, and a hint of smoked paprika.  But the grated slices would make a beautiful pimento cheese spread as well.

Go Veggie is not paying me to endorse their products(!), but I would definitely purchase and use these Cheddar Flavor Vegan Rice Slices again.  Very low in calories and fat, but high in calcium, they are a keeper.

For the vegan versions of Go Veggie products, look for the purple packaging.  To find them at a store near you, click HERE.

Stay tuned for more Go Veggie taste tests and recipes.  And thanks Go Veggie for enlightening me!

 

Vegan Smoky Cheddar Spread

Yield: 1 1/2 cups spread

8 ounces Go Veggie Cheddar Flavor Vegan Rice Slices, unwrapped, stacked, and grated (I used a food processor with grater attachment)

1/2 cup smoked almonds, finely chopped

Optional: 2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

Optional Garnish:  whole smoked almonds and a sprinkling of smoked paprika

Lightly combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until completely combined.  Serve immediately with crackers or celery sticks or refrigerate in an airtight container until serving time.  Garnish if desired with whole smoked almonds and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

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Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fritter Cakes--with ForkThese savory fritter-cake hybrids are made from a trifecta of favorite, healthful, colorful and plentiful ingredients: chopped fresh kale, shredded sweet potato, and black beans.  Green onion adds a fresh, pungent, herb-y kick.

A food processor made short order of  finely chopping the kale and, with a quick blade switch-out, creating beautiful, consistent shreds of sweet potatoes and no scraped knuckles.  For efficiency, I used canned black beans, rinsed and well-drained, mashing about half of them with a potato masher to help the fritter-cakes hold together without  a lot of additional ingredients.  However, I did use a little flour and soymilk (use the nondairy milk of your choice) plus some baking powder and soda for a hint of lift, but not enough to create a “batter.”  The finished consistency of these is somewhat similar to a latke with a bit more body.

For spices, black beans would suggest Mexican or southwestern flavor notes.  But, for some reason, I wanted to nudge these fritter-cakes in a slightly Middle Eastern direction.  So I did invite cumin, coriander and lime zest to the party, but also smoked paprika and sumac which lends a lovely earthy lemony profile.  It is widely sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, just order it online or leave it out.  However, it has been one of my favorite kitchen companions of the last few years.

For cooking, I tried both oil and nonstick spray and found that the calories in the oil were worth achieving a crispier crust, but see what you think.

I love a savory and ever-so-slightly sweet balance, so for a topping, I whisked a little lime juice and tamarind syrup into vegan sour cream.  Tamarind syrup lends a heavenly, subtle and distinctively Middle Eastern floral note tempered by the sweetly acidic lime juice.  Again, the syrup is sold at Middle Eastern grocery stores and online.  But you could substitute pomegranate syrup which is fruity without being floral or just leave out all together and go with a citrus sour cream which would be delicious too.

A little spoonful of the sauce, a thin slice of lime, a few pine nuts and a sprinkling of smoked paprika created a beautiful presentation of these delectable disks, perfect for breakfast brunch, lunch or even dinner, perhaps with a side salad.

3 cups shredded sweet potatoes (slightly over a half-pound potato)

4 cups coarsely chopped or torn kale, finely chopped (I used a food processor)

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and well-drained; half of beans mashed with potato masher

6 green onions, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste + a small amount more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1/2 cup soymilk (or an nondairy milk)

Tamarind-Lime Cream (recipe follows)

Garnishes (optional): thin slices of fresh lime, a few pine nuts, dusting of smoked paprika

 

Kale, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fritter Cakes--Uncooked

Mixture Before Frying

Line a baking sheet with paper towel and set aside.  Set oven to lowest temperature.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together with your hands sweet potato, kale, green onions, and unmashed sweet potatoes.  In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed beans, flour, baking powder, baking soda, all spices, including salt and pepper, and soymilk.  Spoon in roughly even dollops over vegetable-bean mixture and combine well with a fork.  The mixture will be very textured and moist, mounding nicely, but will not form a batter.

Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil (or a combination of vegetable and olive oil) in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Divide mixture into 1/12ths and, using a spoon or scoop, place 4 evenly-spaced mound into the sizzling oil pressing to about 1/2-inch thick with a metal spatula.  Cook for about 2 minutes, flip and cook 2 more minutes, lowering temperature if necessary to prevent scorching.  They will turn a rich nutty brown (as opposed to a light golden brown).  Remove fritter-cakes and drain on prepared baking sheet, sprinkling each with a few granules of sea salt.  Keep warm in oven.  Repeat twice more with remaining mixture.  Serve immediately topped with Tamarind-Lime Cream and garnished as desired.

 

Tamarind-Lime Cream

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

1 teaspoon tamarind syrup (or pomegranate syrup)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Sea salt to taste

 

 

 

 

 

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Smokey BBQ Chex MixAfter creating my Vegan Asian Chex Mix (read: culinary cocaine–sorry!), I was on a roll!

If you’re interested in how this amalgamation came about, keep reading.  If not, just skip straight to the addicting recipe below.

Scanning my spices for one that would be delicious but that I hadn’t seen used in a Chex Mix–which is not to say that it hasn’t been–I lit upon smoked paprika, an all-time favorite.

That led me in a BBQ direction (but not like BBQ potato chips of which I’m not fond).  Not wanting the flavor profile to scream BBQ, I chose not to add any BBQ sauce to the melted butter, but I thought that maybe an ingredient used in BBQ sauce might be the ticket, deciding upon mustard as a nice substitute for the tanginess of Worcestershire Sauce, which is not vegna but is one of the traditional ingredients in the vintage Chex Mix recipes.

And that, in turn, led to Corn Chex because corn cakes are so delicious with all things BBQ. But I combined the Corn Chex with Rice Chex because, I don’t know, it sounded southern?  Ditto the pecans.  As for the Cheerios, I added them because they are a traditional part of the mix, so to speak, and a nice shape and flavor contrast.

And, finally, I decided to provide a little contrast to all of the tangy, salty deliciousness with just a hint of maple syrup because BBQ sauce often has a hint of sweetness for balance, and maple syrup is so delectable with corn cakes.

In my mind and mouth, it all ties together beautifully.  See what you think…I ended up having to package it and give it as some belated New Year’s gifts today lest I founder myself.  See this post for a pretty packaging idea.

 

6 ups Corn Chex

6 cups Rice Chex

2 cups Cheerios (not the whole grain variety which are fairly highly sweetened)

1 cup smoked almonds

1 cup lightly roasted and salted peanuts

1 1/2 cups lightly roasted and salted chashews

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 cup vegan butter, melted

2 tablespoons Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon mustard (I used stone ground)

1 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (I use Lawry’s brand)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large roasting pan.  In a medium bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients except maple syrup (avoid adding it during the baking period, as it will cause the mixture to burn because of the sugars).  Drizzle evenly over dry mix and combine, using your hands, trying to coat every piece with the butter mixture.  Place pan in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring really well from the sides and corners to the center, every 1o minutes.  Remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup, and stir well to combine.  To cool, spread mixture out in a thin layer on kitchen counter or baking sheets lined with paper towels or brown paper grocery bags. Cool completely.  Store in airtight containers or in ziplock bags inside airtight containers for extra protection for about a week.

 

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I receive lots of vegan–and other–news via email every week and ararely, if ever, share it here.  But this press release was of particular interest to me and I thought, perhaps, you…

 

Formation of the Vegan Trade Council Announced

Group to Represent the Interests of the Vegan Product Industry

 Washington, DC, January 5, 2015 – The formation of the Vegan Trade Council, an industry association to represent the interests of vegan product manufacturers, was announced today.  Alan Nemeth, a professor of animal law at the American University Washington College of Law and the University School of Law is leading the formation of the trade group.

Nemeth said that the vegan industry is at the point in its maturity where it can join together in a trade association to provide assistance to members of the industry and to promote its products broadly, and that the establishment of a trade association for the vegan industry will provide further support to the growth and mainstream acceptance of vegan products, through both advocacy and public relations.

He stated, “The dairy, beef, pork, poultry, and seafood industries all have trade associations and high-powered lobbyists to represent their interests legally, legislatively, in the development of regulations, and in the promotion of their products in the press and in the marketplace. These trade associations are effective, because they represent the views and dollars of their entire respective industries. The vegan food industry currently has no such trade association and subsequently has no coordinated representation to help build public relations and promote plant-based interests nationwide. As such, the animal-based product industry has no vegan trade contemporary to argue the vegan industry’s positions with regard to issues such as public health, the environment, the Farm Bill, agricultural livestock, school lunches, dietary alternatives, and so on. It is time that the vegan industry gets a seat at the table.”

The recent legal issues faced by Field Roast and Hampton Creek further highlighted the need for an industry-wide organization to speak on behalf of an industry that is rapidly gaining traction.  When Pinnacle Foods purchased Gardein, a maker of plant-based meat, poultry, and fish alternatives earlier this year, its CEO Bob Gamgort said, ” [w]e believe that plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream.”  And as the industry grows, the importance of a trade association grows in tandem.

Outreach to the vegan community has begun as the Vegan Trade Council begins to build its membership and support base. The organization will be based in the Washington, DC area. The Council can be contacted through www.vegantradecouncil.com.

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Pringles Can PackagingI’m all about recycling, reusing, and reducing, so this idea of unknown origin–maybe Pinterest?–for packaging edible gifts really appealed to me.  It’s ingenious!

Not much of a Pringles fan myself, I taught a student last year with an obsession.  So, she would give me her cans when finished, which I would rinse before using, sometimes packaging food gifts inside food storage bags tucked into the cans or, in the case of cookies, just stacking them inside in a neat column.

In need of such a can this morning, I found that I had one left over which I used for the gift depicted here.  Inside the wrapped Pringles can is Vegan Asian Chex Mix for Angela Phillips, one of the best yoga instructors around.  But anything cylindrical will work, e.g. coffee cans or, what my husband and I seem to generate plenty of:  cardboard oatmeal cartons and nut tins.

Be advised that, though scrapbooking paper seems ideal, it is not tall enough for a Pringles can.  So, use wrapping paper or even a wallpaper scrap as I did here.  To wrap, simply cut the length of paper you need (be sure to measure, as it takes more than you would think), secure one edge from top to bottom with cellphone tape, wrap the paper tightly around the can (I lay it down and roll it), and secure the opposite edge top to bottom with more tape.

Then decorate any way you like.  Wrapping ribbon around the can would be the easiest, but the lids aren’t particularly attractive, so I tied a bow and then taped the ends on the underside of the lid.  The bow is snugly secured when the lid is snapped onto the can.

The gift tag I made using card stock I had on hand–heavy weight scrapbooking paper actually does work well for this–and a bird template that I had cut to make bird ornaments.  You simply trace, cut, punch a hole near the back of the neck, write your message on the reverse, and thread ribbon through to tie it on to your package.

Never again be left with only expensive “specialty store” options for edible gifts from your kitchen!

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Vegan Lemon Spice Bundt Cake

Lemon Spice Bundt CakeI don’t know about you, but I am still in gift-giving mode; just didn’t get it all done before the holidays due, in large part, to the passing of our dearly beloved Great Dane, Huff.

In fact, some of the important people who were still on my list were the docs and staff at Independence Veterinary Hospital.  So, I woke up this morning and made this luscious Lemon Spice Bundt Cake whose batter is almost as delectable as the baked cake.

No sugar?  No problem.  I make this cake with molasses, maple syrup, and cola (choose an organic brand) for extra moisture and depth of flavor.  Love the caramely-y hnotes of the cola.

If you don’t keep pumpkin pie spice on hand, which I do, as I think it’s balance of spices is hard to beat, just combine ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg to equal the amount of spice called for in the recipe, using more cinnamon and ginger than the other two.

My husband, who is not much of a sweet eater, thought it smelled heavenly lying in bed.

 

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I actually use white whole wheat)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (that sounds like alot, but this is a deeply spiced cake)

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder (for a hint more complexity of flavor)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup vegetable oil (a nuetrual flavored one, like canola)

1 cup maple syrup

2/3 cup molasses

1/2 cup soymilk

1/2 cup cola (organic)

Zest of 1 large lemon

Preheat oven to 350.  Oil a bundt pan.  (I use a non-stick bundt pan sprayed with nonstick spray and no flour.  But if you are a “greased and floured” kind of baker, go right ahead.  The ridges in my heart-shaped bundt pan make flouring a chore and it works fine without.)  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  make a well in the center and add all wet ingredients plus lemon zest.  Whisk just until smooth.  Transfer batter into prepared pan, gently smooth top, and bake in the center of oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert onto rack and cool completely or serve slightly warm.  Wrap well to store.
Lemon Spice Bundt Cake--Removed from Pan

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Asian Chex MixSomewhere, deep in south central MS, my mother is feeling a sharp pain in her side.

From her perspective, in matters as important as food, tradition should rarely be tampered with, and that includes her “Texas Trash,” aka Chex Mix.  But, alas, her daughter is an endless culinary tinkerer and so, having had my annual fix of Mama and Papa’s vintage “Trash” over the Christmas holiday, I came home wanting to give some food gifts to my treasured local freelance clients and wanting just as much to try a new Chex Mix riff I’d been fantasizing about.  Airplane travel lends itself to such ruminations.

Though there are some four or five bastardizations–to my mother’s way of thinking–on the back of the Rice Chex box, I had in mind an Asian-inspired version that would borrow the ground Nori sheets from my delectable Vegan Hurricane Popcorn with a Twist.  Not knowing how the recipients would feel about seaweed in their Chex Mix, I went easy, creating just a subtle hint.  But if a pronounced flavor is more to your liking, use an extra sheet–or two–of Nori.

Consider yourself warned: this stuff is habit-forming.  Even my husband–who prides himself on not eating snack foods, yet his normal non-vegan diet is far from anything to brag about–loved it.  And its addictive qualities cannot be traced to one ingredient; rather to the contrasts of textures and shapes and, most especially, to the way the seasoning seeps into and adheres to certain tidbits more than others–creating a buttery richness here and a tangy saltiness there–so that no two bites taste quite the same.

Note that, as with all baked goods, the cooling process is just as important as the baking itself, so be sure not to shortcut my quick and easy instructions.

Once cool, the mix can be beautifully stored for keeping or giving in cans–coffee, nut, Pringles, etc.–wrapped in decorative paper.  For the uncoated cardboard-lined cans, like the Pringles ones that students give me, I like to place the mix in a resealable sandwich bag first.  Actually, I do it for all for extra insurance.

Go ahead, just try and resist!

 

12 cups Rice Chex (1-12 ounce box)

2 cups Wheat Chex

5 cups “Sesame Nut Mix” (I use this Kroger brand mix of sesame sticks and roasted and salted peanuts and cashews; if your grocery store does not sell something similar, just combine roughly equal amounts of the three key ingredients; substitute crispy noodles from the Asian food aisle or even thin pretzel sticks of you can’t locate sesame sticks, and add a drop or two of sesame oil to the butter mixture if desired.)

1 cup vegan butter, melted (I use Earth Balance, but this is a good opportunity for me to tout my vegan friend and fellow blogger and cookbook author, Bryanna Clark Grogan’s, homemade palm oil-free “Buttah”)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (feel free to use a “lite” variety)

2 to 3 sheets Nori, one sheet at a time torn into small pieces and ground in a spice grinder until very fine, but not quite a powder)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

3/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I use Lawry’s brand)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Optional: pinch of red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 3oo degrees.  In a large roasting pan, combine cereal and sesame nut mix.  Stir soy sauce, Nori, nutritional yeast, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and optional red pepper flakes into melted butter.  Drizzle evenly over dry mix and combine, using your hands, trying to coat every piece with the butter mixture.  Place pan in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring really well from the sides and corners to the center, every 1o minutes.  To cool, spread mixture out in a thin layer on kitchen counter or baking sheets lined with paper towels or brown paper grocery bags. Cool completely.  Store in airight containers or in ziplock bags inside airtight containers for extra protection for about a week.

 

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Black Eyed Pea ChiliHappy New Year, all !

You still have time to shop for groceries and make this simple and simply delicious chili for dinner…and you’ll be glad you did.

When I was visiting my parents and sister in MS over Christmas, they were enjoying a batch of legendary chili shared with them by our longtime family friend, Anne Crumbley.

The base looked delicious–a little less “tomato-y” than some–so, though it was made with meat, I sampled just a little of the base and knew I had to have the recipe, which my mother happened to own in her impressive files.

The secret ingredient?  Picante sauce!  My secret ingredient for even more mellowness?  Tofutti cream cheese!  But, you can omit if you prefer.

Yesterday, for my New Year’s Eve post, I shared some of my black eyed pea favorites from the past, but I wanted a new black eyed pea recipe–not to mention lunch–to celebrate 2015.  Considering lots of options, from some kind of fritter to gumbo to black eyed pea sausage–all of which I still want to try–it suddenly occurred to me that I could substitute black eyed peas for Ann’s black beans.  Holy Moly!

I tweaked her recipe only slightly in order to add a bit more “umami” depth and richness since I would most certainly not be using meat, and I hope you love the results as much as I do.

Top your chili with whatever you choose.  I like sour cream and sliced scallions; but Ann also recommends Fritos.  I cannot be trusted with an open bag of those, so I never buy them.  But if you can, more (will)power to you!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

Sea salt

2 large cloves minced garlic

12 ounces soy crumbles, tempeh, or your favorite ground “round” substitute (tempeh is typically sold in 8 ounce packages so use 1 or 2 for 8 or 16 ounces; don’t feel you need to split a package)

1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika (or chili powder; Ann’s recipe calls for the latter, but I was out of it

and I loved the smoked paprika)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked black eyed peas ( 1 used frozen, thawed, but you can substitute an approximate 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained, or beans cooked from the dried state)

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup picante sauce (I used Pace brand)

Optional but recommended: 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

Recommended toppings: vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream), sliced scallions, sliced black olives, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced jalapenos, etc.

In a large heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) or even a wok, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high.   Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.   Add garlic and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.  Add soy crumbles, smoked paprika nutritional yeast, cumin, oregano, sugar, Liquid Aminos, and pepper, and cook, breaking up crumbles, until heated through and all ingredients are well combined.  Add black eyed peas and heat through, stirring frequently.  Then add broth and picante sauce.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and reducing heat as necessary to insure that chili does not stick on the bottom.  During the last 2 minutes, melt in the vegan cream cheese.  Serve chili in mugs or bowls, topped as desired or allow guests to top their own from a toppings bar.

 

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