Vegan Buffalo Chex Mix
Perhaps the Richest Yet

I guess I need to stop calling these creations of late Chex Mix because many of them contain no Chex. Still, they are in the spirit of Chex Mix and you could certainly substitute some Chex Cereal, say the corn variety, for Bugles if the recipe calls for that childhood favorite, as this one does.

I have experimented with this recipe three times. The first time, which was delicious, I made it with a prepared dried Buffalo mix.  I had bought two packages, so I made it again because I couldn’t remember exactly the proportions I had used the first time.  That second time, I made it with slightly sweet Cheerios thinking that I could substitute those for the maple syrup. It wasn’t nearly as good, si scratch that.

The third time, yesterday, preparing a batch for Bob’s and his business partner’s Easter baskets, I reached in the cabinet for the last package of Buffalo mix forgetting that I had purchased two and had already made the recipe twice. Not wanting to return to the grocery store after a 13 mile hike(!), I had to make up my own spice and vinegar mixture and I loved it even more. I hope you do.

For the liquid part of the mix, I used the vegan butter because butter is very much a part of Buffalo sauce for wings. I also used vegan mayonnaise to create the tangy flavor of the blue cheese sauce into which many wings are dipped.

The vinegar, Liquid Aminos  (Worchrstershire in typical Buffalo sauce) and hot sauce are also part of standard Buffalo wing sauce mixtures. And since the wings are often served with celery, I added some celery salt.

While it is true that most wing sauce recipes don’t call for paprika, I added some for color. And, because many wings are grilled and have a bit of a smoky flavor, I chose the smoky variety of paprika.

The maple syrup was to balance the mayonnaise and vinegar and I think it is perfect even though it is not part of a traditional Buffalo wing sauce recipe.

The same goes for all of the cereal and crunchy snacks.  They really aren’t found in wing recipes of cours, but the Crispy Onions and Potato Sticks reminded me of onion rings and french fries such as you might find in a restaurant that would serve wings. The pretzels seem like bar food and, likewise, the Bugles reminded me of corn nuts  which I associate with bar food.

The pecan halves are included because all snack mixes need nuts, I love them, and pecans seem particularly appropriate, even though I associate them with southern food & Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo New York.

The Cheerios, in my mind, just have to be part of the mix because of their neutral flavor and the way they absorb all of the other flavors, not to mention their cute little shape.

So there you have it, the rationale for this deliciousness. Enjoy.

1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Frank’s RedHot, Sriracha (my choice) or your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups Crispy Onions (sold in cartons or cans, often near the green beans because they are so often used to top green bean casserole)

3 cups Bugles

3 cups Pecan halves
3 cups Potato Sticks
3 cups Pretzel Sticks
4 cups Cheerios (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut butter into chunks, place in a large roasting pan, and place in oven to melt. Remove pan from oven and whisk in all remaining wet ingredients and spices. Then stir in the remaining ingredients one at a time in order. Place roasting pan in oven and roast for one hour, stirring well after every 15 minutes. Cool and store in airtight containers.

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Betsy’s Best Vegan Blondies

Yield: 16 bars

Wanting to try a blondie or cookie recipe with the white beans in my pantry, I searched and searched online but couldn’t find a recipe that quite suited me: they had to look beautiful, contain basic wholesome ingredients, and be the ideal texture. So I decided to create my own.

These blondies are truly fabulous–everything you would want in the perfect Blondie–and get my very picky “omni” partner’s two thumbs up of approval.

I substituted 1/4 cup of mashed white beans + 1/4 cup of Bailey’s Almande liqueur, along with baking soda and baking powder, for an egg. But feel free to use another liquid, even non-dairy milk, or a different liqueur.
8 tablespoons vegan butter

1 cup demerera or lightly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup drained and mashed white beans

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

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

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup liqueur (I like Bailey’s Almande)

1 cup vegan chocolate chips (white or dark)

1 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, black walnuts, pecans, or cashews)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch metal pan or spray with nonstick sray. Line in one direction with a 4 or 5-inch strip of foil or parchment paper folded over top edges for ease of blondie removal.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until blended. Add the beans, vanilla, and almond extract, and continue to beat until  smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and liqueur, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.  Do not over beat. Add chocolate chips and nuts and blend on low speed to evenly distribute.

Spread the batter evenly in lined pan and bake 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean. Cool completely and then cut into 16 bars.

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Next Level Vegan Ramen

This is not your mama’s Ramen.

And it is also not so much a recipe as an approach…

A few weeks ago shopping at a local Asian market, the checkout person generously tucked four packages of Ramen-type dry noodle soup packages into my box of purchased items. And the soup turned out to be vegan. On its own, it is flavorful, if a little salty, and a bit one-note in color and texture, not to mention of questionable nutritional value.

But, stay tuned…

Yesterday, hungry for lunch–I turned out not to need dinner–and with a fridge full of fresh ingredients left over from a dinner party, I changed all that.  The dinner party meal was Southwestern, but the raw ingredients could have just as easily been Asian.

To kick up a basic bowl of Ramen into a truly beautiful, vitamin-packed, and hydrating dish–company-worthy even–as I did, just follow or adapt my quick and easy formula:

To a basic Ramen package consisting of dry noodles and seasoning packets calling for 2 cups of water:

Double the water, add seasoning packet(s), loosely cover, bring to a simmer, add noodles, and simmer for 3 minutes. During last minute, add 2 big handfuls of greens (tender baby kale, spinach, etc.) and stir to combine.

To serve, ladle into one or two pretty bowls and top with any or all of the following:

  • Several good shakes of vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian)
  • Shredded raw purple cabbage
  • Shredded raw carrot
  • Thinly sliced raw radish

Thinly sliced rae yellow, orange, or red bell peppers

  • Raw bean sprouts
  • Sliced raw green onions
  • Lightly roasted and salted cashews or peanuts
  • Fresh cilantro, mint, and/or Thai basil sprigs
  • Fresh lime wedges

Serve with chopsticks for the most satisfying quick meal ever.

 

 

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Betsy’s Vegan Sea Salt and Coconut Oil Scrub

It has been a very long time since my schedule as a high school art teacher and freelance writer has allowed me to do something completely decadent for myself.

So on Saturday, with Spring Break having just commenced, I decanted oils and even mouthwash into these pretty glass bottles. Oh, and we took the Christmas Tree down–my grandmothers 1960s tinsel tree in its original box–because, yep, that is how busy we have been.  And because a two-month kitchen reno commenced right after Xmas.

While I had the food processor out to make the soup for our guests last night (the recipe for which will be on The Blooming Platter by popular demand soon), I made Bob, whose hands take a beating at his company, this amazing hand scrub.

After trying this, you will scoff at any other, often high-priced, exfoliating scrub in stores. . Bob is very discriminating about all products and we had run out of the “Seacret” salt and oil scrub my sister in law had given me. We were going to order more, but I decided to try my hand and Bob can’t say enough good things about it. That is really saying something I can assure you.

You will love my recipe’s perfect balance of exfoliating and softening power plus protection from the built-in emollient.  It is a little price brcsuse of the coconut oil, but lovely for gift giving decanted into canning jars.

1 1/2 cups coarse sea salt (I justbuy the Kroger brand, but experiment)

3/4 cup coconut oil (quite solid at room temp)

1/4 cup agave nectar

Optional: a drop or two of essential oil

Combine in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Or mash with fingers. Scoop into wide-mouthed lidded jars. Embellish jar as desired and give as a gift with a little card of instructions or hoard for yourself.

To use: scoop out about 2 teaspoons of sakt scrub and gently or vigorously rub all over dampened hands, feet, or elbows. Rinse with tepid water and gently blot dry with a soft towel.

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Vegan Red Curry Popcorn with Cashews and Cabbage
(I know this sounds a bit odd,
but it is outrageously declicious)

Yield: 2 servings.

This recipe defies both description and categorization; hence, I didn’t know whether to tag it as a vegetable side dish, snack, slaw, or ???  I suppose it could even be a main dish.

But, no matter.  Whatever you call it or whenever you eat it–I was starved, so I invented it on the fly and devoured it for “brunch” today, as I am home on Spring Break with a bit more time to experiment–you will love it, odd as it sounds.

Be sure to serve it in a pretty Asian bowl with chopsticks to make a mouthwatering presentation that is as fun to eat as it is pretty.

1 tablespoon vegan butter

3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (you could use mayo or the thick part of coconut milk that separates in the can, but I wanted less calories)

1/4 teaspoon prepared Thai Red Curry Paste (feel free to add a bit more if you desire a more pronounced flavor and more heat)

1-2 tablesoon vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian in Asian markets), lime juice or half of each

6 cups popped kettle corn (slightly sweet and salty)

1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage (I buy it shredded in the bag; the type with some shredded carrot mixed in would be delicious too)

1/4 cup lightly roasted and salted cashew halves or peanuts + a couple for garnish

1 tablespoon pinched fresh cilantro leaves (feel free to chop but I was to impatient) + 2 sprigs for garnish

In a medium-large bowl, melt butter with sour cream in microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.whisk in curry paste and fish sauce.  Fold in remaining ingredients, except garnishes.  Pile into two small Asian-style bowls, garnish with cilantro sprigs and cashew halves, and serve immediately with chopsticks so that popcorn doesn’t become soggy.

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Vegan Chesapeake Bay Chex Mix

 

 

 

 

 

This Chex Mix contains no Chex…details, details.  Here’s why.

I wanted to create an “Old Bay” flavored snack mix with hints of a crab boil–ick, sorry–like corn and potatoes. So here is my thinking on ingredients: upon learning yesterday that original Bugles are vegan–yes!–I decided to use them in place of Corn Chex. Potato sticks and oyster crackers were no brainers.  As for the Cheerios and pretzels, well, I love them in traditional Chex Mix for their shapes, textures, and flavors. Peanuts and pecans were my choices of nuts becsuse they are just so darn southern.

My stroke of genius–if I do say so–was the vegan mayo and pickle juice whisked into the butter mixture.  I LOVE (vegan) tartar sauce and these ingredients lend just the right flavor notes.

I gave away all of this mix as gifts…but writing this post is making my mouth water and I wish I had just a tiny bit to satisfy my craving.

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

2 tablespoons sweet or dill pickle juice

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or vegan Worchestershire Sauce

2 tablespoons Chesapeake Bay Seasoning (or Old Bay Seasoning)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

6 cups Cheerios

2 cups original Bugles

2 cups potato sticks

2 cups pretzel sticks

2 cups oyster crackers

1 cup lightly salted and roasted peanuts

1 cup lightly salted and roasted pecsn halves and pieces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Place butter in large roasting pan, slide pan in oven, allow butter to melt, and remove pan from oven. Whisk in mayo, lemon juice, pickle juice, Liquid Aminos, and spices. Then stir in remaining ingredients, in order, coating evenly with butter mixture. Roast for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, remove from oven, cool completely,  and store in airtight containers.
Continue reading “Vegan Chesapeake Bay Chex Mix”

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Vegan Greek Chex Mix

It’s official. I am obsessed. This is my 6th or 7th version of Chex Mix this year, each one–if I do say so–a flavor sensation.

Picking a favorite is akin to picking a favorite puppy.   So, my favorite is whichever is in front of me.

This iteration was inspired by Juan Gelpi’s vegan gyros. I could not get those flavors out of my mind after seeing his Instagram photo, even during Saturday morning yoga. I was mindful alright. Mindful that I was stopping at Whole Foods on the way home and procuring ingredients. (That is where I find vegan tapenades.)

Admittedly, this Chex Mix contains no Chex. That wasn’t my intention; it just didn’t seem to need more crunch. Or more anything. It is lemony, garlicky, nutty, Greek perfection. Hope you agree.

I made this for one of my late husband’s paralegals’ birthday with the surplus going to others at the firm. I had to get it out of the house quickly…before I consumed it all.

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup olive oil

Zest of one large lemon

1/4 cup (generous) vegan artichoke and garlic tapenade or something similar ( I used Seggiano brand)

1/4 cup (generous) vegan olive bruschetta or the like (I used Delallo brand)

2 tablespoons Greek (or Italian) seasoning (dried oregano and rosemary are key ingredients)

2 tablespoons Za’tar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Sea salt to taste

8.6 ounces Cheerios (I used Canadian Farms organic Purely Os)

8 ounces pretzels

9 ounces pita chips

7 ounces walnut halves and pieces

9 ounces shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place butter in large roasting pan, slide into oven, and allow µbutter to melt. Remove and whisk in lemon zest, tapenade, bruschetta, and all spices.  Stir in remaining ingredients, one at a time until evenly coated. Roast mixture for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, and package in airtight containers.

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Vegan Mini-Tater Tot Waffles
with Savory or Sweet Tot Toppings

Yield: 4 mini-waffles (recipe easily multplies)

[At bottom, I include instructions for one large waffle.]

Last week, eyes wide, a colleague brought down to my classroom a culinary magazine featuring a San Francisco restaurant specializing in Tater Tot Waffles.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Basially, anything is better atop a Tot it seems, so while this chef’s toppers tended to be fish-and meat-centric, I figured a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside potato base would be irresistable with anything–or nothing–on top.  And I was right.

I looked up a recipe pretty sure that Tater Tot Waffles are a thing–and they are–and followed it to the letter using Alexia’s Potato Puffs with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper.  I have nothing against good ‘ole Ore-Ida, but I found myself at Whole Foods, and Alexia’s the brand they stock.  But it took almost one bag–or 5ish servings–to make one waffle, which Bob and I split 3/4 to 1/4, and that’s a bit too much of a good thing.

So, tonight, with him out to dinner with his brother and me craving more of this crisp-and-slightly-greasy goodness, but not very hungry, I wondered if I could make Mini-Tater Tot Waffles.  Indeed!  They cook up brilliantly, are easier to remove from the waffle iron, and lend themselves to party fare or to the tapas-style meals I prefer.  Plus, just last night I had sent out invitations to the Starlight Supper Club gathering that Bob and I are hosting on March 4 and included Mini-Thai Tater Tots, so I figured I better make certain the concept actually worked.

Boy does it!  Having gone out for Ethiopian food on Saturday night and brought home leftovers, I decided to top mine with a tiny spoonful of the collard greens and a little piece of cooked tomato with a dab of vegan mayo for color and creamy contrast.  Wow!  But top them with anything you choose, savory or sweet..

Mini-Tater Tot Waffles

16 tater tots (I used Alexia brand Potato Puffs with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper)

Nonstick cooking spray

Savory or sweet toppings of choice (vegan greens, cheeses, spreads, salsas, tapenades, syrups, citrus curds, nuts, etc.)

Spray electric waffle iron with nonstick spray and preheat.  Meanwhile, place tater tots in a bowl and place in microwave on full power for a minute to two to thaw.  Place 4 tater tots, 2 sides of each one touching, in 1 layer of each quadrant of the waffle maker.  Close lid, gently press, and cook for about 5 minutes or until crispy and golden.  Carefully remove each waffle to a serving platter or plates, top as desired, and serve immediately.

Note: to make one large waffle, follow directions above except thaw about 4 to 5 servings of Tater Tots and use them to completely cover the surface of the waffle iron.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes.  You can check after about 5 minutes and fill in any holes with additional thawed tater tots if desired.

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Vegan Mustard Maple Chex Mix
This is Chex on Steroids!

If anyone’s counting, this is my 7th iteration of Chex Mix of 2017.  After some unsuccessful experiments adulterating my mother’s hallowed “Texas Trash” recipe (aka Chex Mix) years ago, I let it go for a number of years because all of the ingredients are expensive and the batches big.

But I’m back with a vengeance, and think I have discovered the way to make magic.  Hope you agree.

Though the weather is warming up, it is still February and I think the aroma in the air from someone’s fireplace on a recent cool night planted the seed for a maple-mustard iteration, a flavor combination that I associate with winter.

This may not be my most colorful version, but it may well be the richest.  Just try staying out of this one…it should come with some kind of warning.

3/4 cups vegan butter

3 tablespoons pommery mustard

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1-6 ounce can roasted pecan halves

1-5 ounce packages potato sticks

1-6 ounce package crispy onions (like old timey cooks use to top their green bean casserole; French’s is a popular brand)

2 cups crunchy corn kernel snacks (I found these in the grocery store packaged in a clear plastic carton with other crunchy snacks like sesame sticks, pepitas, etc.)

3 cups Cheerios

2 cups wheat Chex cereal

Optional (but delicious) 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Place butter in large roasting pan and place pan in oven for a few minutes or until butter is melted.  Whisk in mustard, maple, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Then stir in all remaining ingredients in succession, gently stirring after each addition to coat with the butter mixture.  Roast for 1 hours, gently stirring up from the bottom every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir well, allow to cool completely–it will crisp even more as it cools–and package for eating or giving.  Note: I don’t find the mixture too buttery for an indulgent snack, but if you prefer to absorb a little of the oil, spread the mixture on brown paper bags or paper towels to cool.  

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Vegan Chex Mix Italiano

Photo Credit: Juan Gelpi

I just can’t stop. This is Chex Mix # 6 of 2017 and it is only February.

I gifted it to a couple who took me to dinner last night, as Bob had had to work late on a major project.  Dear friends and gourmet vegan cooks, Juan and Barbara Gelpi, wanted to introduce me to Ethiopian food at a small, charming cafe in VA Beach called Mesob.  (A mesob is a  a large colorful woven basket with a tall pointed lid and hole in the center; people sit around a mesob at mealtime with the food on a gebeta or large platter in the center.)

The Gelpis were veterans, but it was a new experience for me.  I discovered that I would eat just about anything scooped up in Injeri–so unbelievably bubbly and spongy–and will go back many times.

In the meantime, I will keep making one delicious batch of Chex Mix after another and sharing it with you, though warm weather is coming and I will probably curtail my experiments for the spring and summer.

After last night’s Ethiopian immersion experience, you can expect a berbere spiced batch.  For now, please enjoy my Chex Mix Italiano.

3/4 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan basil pesto

1/4 cup vegan artichoike tapenade or pesto

5 cups wheat Chex Mix

4 cups Cheerios

1 1/2 cups Marcona almonds

1 1/2 cups veggie sticks

1 cup small rosemary and sea salt crackers (use any brand you love; mine came from Whole Foods)

1/3 cup pine nuts

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: red pepper flakes to taste (for a little bit of heat)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place butter in large roasting pan, slide into oven, and allow butter to melt.   Stir in both pestos or pesto and tapenade.  Then stir in remaining ingredients, one at a time, in order, to coat evenly with butter mixture.  Roast for 1 hour, stirring well up from the bottom every 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, allow to cool, and package mix in airtight containers.

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