The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

I am so sorry not to have yet posted any Christmas Cheer but, alas, our beloved Great Dane, Huff (of Doritos Crash the Super Bowl fame) passed away on Saturday.  Joe and I are so sad and preoccupied.  My apologies.  I promise to share some good stuff for the holidays soon.

On the upside, his passing was a profound reminder of what is really important during this magical season and beyond:  living gratefully for all we have and all those we are privileged to love, whether human or animal.

Obituary

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Starburst Silverware WreathFor the last three years–ever since my mother-in-law, sadly, passed away and we no longer receive an LL Bean wreath from her–I have made my own for my “DIY Décor” column in the “Home” section of the Virginian-Pilot.

The first year, I made it from a ceiling medallion I painted silver.  The second year, from paint stirrers, painted silver and dipped in apple green paint.

And this year from thrift store silverware glued (with E6000 adhesive) to a wooden clock face from the craft store painted green.

My projects are always simple, straightforward, stress-free, and pretty self-explanatory, mostly due to little time or desire to fuss around with things.  So, choose one–or adapt one–and make your own!

Happy Holidays!

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Hurricane Popcorn--CroppedI am obsessed with this popcorn!  479 Degree brand popcorn makes a Toasted Sesame and Seaweed variety to which I developed an addiction. Then, sadly, our Kroger quit carrying it.  I guess my addiction wasn’t very widespread.

So, I decided I would have to learn to make my own, but before beginning to experiment, I did a little internet research and learned that there is something very similar that hails from Hawaii called “Hurricane Popcorn.”  It is made with a Japanese spice blend called Furikake, which often contains fish and MSG in addition to seaweed, sesame, sugar and salt.  I quickly decided to make my own.

Following is my easy and addicting recipe that includes a little soy sauce, sesame oil, Sirachi, and dried orange peel.   I recommend making it as instructed, taste, and then alter any ingredient amounts according to your own palate.

I think it is perfect as is, having halved the amount of sesame seeds with which I starated, as I felt their flavor overwhelmed the other ingredients.  But you may want to tweak.  For instance, I love the bold taste of seaweed, but if you’d like just a hint of the sea, use only 1 sheet of nori.

It is best if the popcorn is just popped and warm when you season it up.  But it is darn good made with pre-popped popcorn in a bag and almost as good the next day if leftovers are stored in an airtight container.  Leftovers?…ha!

16 cups popped popcorn

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sriracha

2 sheets nori (roasted seaweed as for making sushi), torn into pieces, and finely chopped in spice grinder (avoid making a powder)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (dry toasted in skillet over medium high about 2 minutes), finely chopped in spice grinder (avoid making a powder)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon dried orange peel

1 teaspoon tubinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic poswer

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

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Stack of Pumpkin Bars 1

These bars are the perfect amount of creamy vs. crunchy!

Find the easy recipe HERE at Tofutti!

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Savory 3-Layer Mashed Sweet Potato and Kale Pesto Cheesecake

Yield: 8 servings

This elegant-but-easy (stupid easy!) dish is the perfect way to use leftover mashed sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving or any time.  Though leftover sweet potatoes are almost unheard of in our house, we did have a little remaining after a recent dinner party, and this luscious cheesecake was the result.  It is perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, or sliced thin for an appetizer.

 

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Chip Crust:

1 1/2 cups sweet potato chips “crushed” in food processor to yield 1/2 cup or slightly more crumbs

2 tablespoons melted vegan butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using a fork, combine the crumbs and butter in a small bowl until butter is completely incorporated. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over bottom of the pan, and then gently press to mostly cover the bottom. Refrigerate while you prepare filling.

Ingredients:

Filling:
12 ounces extra firm tofu, gently pressed (not silken)
8 ounces 
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mashed and seasoned sweet potatoes (be sure these have the full complement of vegan butter, sour cream, sea salt and pepper)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups chilled kale pesto (use my delicious Kale, Pepita, and Sage Pesto recipe below or one of your own)

Topping: 1/2 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, 1 tablespoon per each of 8 slices

Garnish: Roasted pepitas

Optional Sidecar:  Small clusters of red grapes

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except pesto, topping and garnish in the bowl of a food processor, and process until thick, smooth, and completely combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

Gently spread half of filling evenly over crust, being careful not to disturb the crumbs. Top with pesto, spreading evenly, and finish with a final layer of remaining filling, spreading gently to seal to edges of pan.  Bake cheesecake in center of oven for about 35 minutes or until edges are set and top appears dry; some minor cracking is to be expected.  (If your mashed sweet potatoes were very moist, you may need to cook up to an additional 5 minutes.)  Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate.  Remove from refrigerator about an hour before you plan to serve (or heat slices about 30 seconds in microwave), as it is best at room temperature or with some of the chill removed.  Loosen edges with a thin knife blade before removing outside ring from spring form pan.

Slice and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a few roasted pepitas.  Alternatively, spread the sour cream over the top of the cheesecake and sprinkle with the pepitas before slicing, especially if presenting the entire cheesecake at the table.

Serve, if desired, with small clusters of grapes on the side.

 

Ingredients:

Kale, Pepita, and Sage Pesto:

6 cups roughly chopped, lightly packed fresh kale

3/4 cup lightly roasted and salted pepitas

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons rubbed sage

Sea salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)

Juice of 1/2 small lemon

2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup

3/4 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil in bowl of food processor and pulse until very finely chopped, almost a paste.  With motor running, drizzle in olive oil until all ingredients are completely combined, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary.  Adjust seasoning if desired and chill, covered.

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Kale-Salad-with-Pomegranate-Balsamic-Marinated-Figs-and-Dates-Topped-with-Smoked-Almonds1When I was imagining what to serve with my “throwback Thursday” Thanksgiving main dish of  Vegan Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping, I reviewed the recipe and just about the only one of my favorite Thanksgiving ingredients that was missing was sweet potatoes.

However, because the entree is a pretty all-inclusive one-dish wonder and very creamy-chewy-crunchy, none of the sweet potato dishes I could dream up would provide the necessary contrast.  Instead, a salad seemed the perfect fresh, raw burst that was needed for a beautiful and bountiful meal.

So, I’m bringing back my Kale Salad with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette from last year.  Dried figs marinated in Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette and smoked almonds combine with the fresh kale for a light fall salad bursing with flavor and texture.

If you love cranberry sauce, it would be a lovely addition in terms of both color and sweet-tart flavor and delicious alongside the casserole.  I recommend my sister-in-law’s Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce.

For dessert, it has to be my Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced-Espresso ganache!

If you want to spend more time relaxing and less time in the kitchen, yet still present a meal to truly be thankful for, this year’s 3-course mostly-make-ahead menu is for you.

But feel free to peruse The Blooming Platter for many more options from Thanksgiving pasts.  Just search “Thanksgiving” or your favorite ingredients.

I am so thankful for all of you and I hope you have a very special holiday, with plenty of friends, family and fun on the menu!

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole with Sweet Potato Chip Topping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce

Cranaberry-Clementine and Walnut Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Spiced Espresso Ganache

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Mexican Migas CasseroleNo, this isn’t part of my Thanksgiving Countdown–the last dish of my 3-course feast is coming up tomorrow!–rather, this is just an outrageously tasty and satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs-without-weighing-you-down dish for any night of the week.  And heated leftovers are crave-worthy for lunch.

 

Yield : 6 servings

 

I call this delightful mash-up of everything Mexican “migas” because of the tortilla chips.  Real migas, of course, calls for eggs, which are absent from this dish, as well as torn up tortillas–my favorite part!  A partial bag of leftover chips and company coming for dinner inspired this dish, as I knew the chips would absorb moisture from the other ingredients and plump up like tortillas.

 

1 tablespoon  olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 ounces chopped kale

1-15.5 ounce can beans,  e.g black or pinto, rinsed and drained (I use a tri-bean variety)

1-15.5 ounce can diced roasted tomatoes, drained

1-12 ounce package frozen yellow corn, thawed

1 1/2 cups sliced sautéed mushrooms

2.5 ounce can (dry weight) sliced black olives, drained

4 ounces canned diced green chilies

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 cups white corn tortilla chips + 1 cup finely crushed

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper

Garnishes: dollops of vegan sour cream, a little salsa or chimichurri, and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil.  Add onion and salt, and sauté, stirring frequently for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add kale and sauté for another 3 minutes or until softened and slightly wilted.  Transfer mixture to a very large bowl and add all remaining ingredients, except finely crushed tortilla chips, in order given, lightly crushing the 4 cups of tortilla chips with your fingers as you add.  Fold all together until will combined.  Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, lightly smoothing top.  Sprinkle with finely crushed tortilla chips, spray top lightly with nonstick cooking spray (a canola or olive oil variety) to promote browning, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream, a little salsa or chimichurri, and some roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Pumpkin, Kale, Mushroom and Tempeh Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

This creamy fall casserole is special enough for a Thanksgiving feast but easy enough for a weeknight meal.  The sweet potato chip topping is an updated nod to the vintage “church cookbook” casserole genre.

Though it is a balanced one-dish wonder–full of delicious, colorful and nutritious vegetables and tempeh–I will share a sweet potato side to round out this year’s three course Thanksgiving repast.  Be sure not to miss dessert which I served up first: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bundt Cake with Espresso Spice Ganache!

 

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

4 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and then finely diced

Sea salt

8 ounces tempeh, cubed

10 ounces fresh chopped kale

1 cup roasted, cooked fresh pumpkin

1 cup sliced, sauteed mushrooms

1 cup (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1-4 ounce jar pimentos, drained

1 tablespoon salt-free multi-purpose seasoning

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces sweet potato chips (*I use Terra brand Beets and Sweets), crushed (I roll a sturdy glass across them right in the bag)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a large casserole dish.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion, celery, and a pinch of salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until beginning to soften.  Add tempeh and saute about 3 minutes more.  Add kale and cook, lowering heat if necessary and stirring fairly frequently, until tempeh is softened and partially wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes more.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add pumpkin and mushrooms, and toss gently to combine.  In a small bowl, fold together sour cream, mayonnaise, flour, pimentos, multi-purpose seasoning, sage, and pepper. Spoon over vegetables and tempeh mixture, gently fold together until well-combined, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly mound into into casserole dish. Sprinkle evenly with crushed sweet potato chips, and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, covering if edges begin to brown too quickly.  Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

 *Note: the first time I made this dish, I only had a half a bag of chips, so I combined 3 ounces chips with the same amount of panko bread crumbs, sprinkled the mixture over the casserole, and sprayed lightly with non-stick spray before baking.  It is delicious with either topping.

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Pumpkin-Spice Chocolate Cake with Spiced Espresso GanacheOur Thanksgiving tradition is in transition this year. For over 20 years, Joe’s and my families have gathered at our home in VA Beach to celebrate my favorite holiday.

Birth, death, illness, divorce, and distance–the stuff of life–altered the guest list from year to year, but essentially our culinary tradition remained intact, alternating between traditional-with-a-twist and very non-traditional thematic feasts: Cajun, Thai, American Diner, and more.

Finally, though, my parents have gotten to the age (81 and 86) where neither the drive nor the flight from MS is comfortably manageable, though my father still works part-time as an engineer and just drove them to and from Texas where my mother’s siblings live.  

Last November, Mama took a spill in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in North Carolina on their way home–I told them that place was dangerous!–and they ended up in the local hospital.  She was fine, if shaken, but the writing was on the wall.

So, though it made all of us a bit sad–as my mother said, “You think things will always be the same”–I suggested that we meet in New Orleans, an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from their home and a not-too-terrible flight from here.  Grateful and enthusiastic, my folks booked us into the Chateau LeMoyne, a family favorite, and I made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at Broussard’s, another family favorite since childhood.  Joe is game–he thinks it’s the right thing to do– if a little skeptical, as it’s not “his” city in the way that it is ours; my sister and I were weaned on The Big Easy.  And, though the decision was made too late for them to be with us this year, Joe’s sisters and our niece are hoping to join us every other Thanksgiving if our NOLA tradition continues.

Wherever you will be, whoever you will be with, and for whatever reason, my sincere hope is that you will find yourself deeply grateful for life’s gifts, even if, like us, they represent a “new normal.”

As a gesture of gratitude, over the next three weeks, I will serve up three new recipes–one per week–for a perfect, if slightly non-traditional, vegan feast.  And I’m starting with dessert!  Enjoy this moist, richly autumnal, and complexly flavored cake.  It was a hit for a friend’s recent birthday and I’ve made it again for a small dinner tomorrow night for two girlfriends.  Were we going to be at home, it would certainly be on our Thanksgiving menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake

 

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk

1 tablespoon vinegar

1  3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Spiced Espresso Ganach (recipe follows)

Garnish: chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray and set aside.   In a small cup, whisk together soymilk and vinegar and allow to curdle and thicken.  Place all dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl in the order given, and whisk to combine.  Add remaining wet ingredients including soymilk mixture and whisk 50 strokes or until lumps disappear.  Avoid overbeating.  Transfer into prepared bundt pan and bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   (65 minutes is perfect in my oven.)  Allow to cool completely in pan, loosen around edges, top with serving plate, and and invert.  Spoon ganache around the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the inside and outside edges and sprinkle with walnuts.

 

*Spiced Espresso Ganache

1/2 cup plain non-dairy creamer (soy or  coconut)

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

1/48to 1/4 teaspoong round cinnamon (adjust to suit taste)

Heat creamer to barely bubbling.  Add chocoate chips.  Allow to sit a couple of minutes and then whisk together until smooth and completely combined.  Whisk in instant coffee or espresso powder and cinnamon.  Allow to cool until a thick pourable consistency.

*I like to double the recipe, using the whole bag of chips, and save half for another decadent purpose!

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Vegan Waldorf Panini

Waldorf PaniniA favorite cold, creamy, and crunchy salad from childhood made into a warm, toasted, grown-up sandwich, popular with all ages.  
Why?  Yesterday was National Sandwich Day and Tofutti Brands requested a new sandwich recipe made with one of their tasty ingredients.  You can see my guest post HERE.  Note that I use the Tofutti products made without transfat; be sure to read the labels.
Waldorf Panini
Yield: 1 sandwich
3 tablespoons Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (toast for even more flavor)
1 celery heart, sliced lengthwise into quarters, and finely chopped
1 date, finely chopped
Pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch no salt all-purpose seasoning
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons minced fennel fronds
1/4 apple, cored and sliced very thin
1 bagel or sandwich roll, halved, or 2 slices whole grain bread
Preheat panini grill.  In a small bowl, using a fork, combine all ingredients except apple and bread.  Spread on bottom slice of bagel, roll or bread.  Stack evenly with apple slices and top with remaining slice of bagel, roll, or bread.  Grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.  Halve and serve immediately.  Note:  if you have no panini maker, just prepare as a grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet using  a little vegan butter or oil in the pan.
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