Vegan Maple-Mustard Roasted Tri-Color Roasted Carrots
with Lemon

Yield: 8 servings

This Christmas, one of new traditions, I didn’t make a single recipe for Christmas Dinner that I had ever made before.  All turned out to be new favorites, and none prettier than this delightful dish of roasted tri-color carrots (photographed pre-roasting).  Everyone knows that maple and mustard is a winning combination, but I think the secret ingredient is the sliced lemon that gets roasted right along with the carrots.

2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 pounds rainbow carrots, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, and then cut into two-inch pieces
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed

Preheat oven to 450° and lightly oil a large roasting pan. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, cumin seeds, salt and pepper.  Place carrots and lemon in prepared pan, drizzle with oil mixture, and toss to coat.  Roast, gently stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and lemons are caramelized, about 35 to 40 minutes.  You may roast the carrots several hours ahead, let them cool, cover and chill them.  About a half hour before serving time, bring them to room temperature and reheat for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven or in microwave.

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Vegan “Old School” Creamy Green Bean, Lima Bean,
and Green Pea Casserole

Yield: 4 servings (easily doubles)

This is a bit more old school than my typical fare.  But, this Christmas, I was joyfully cooking for Bob’s family, some of whom–including him–have less adventurous palates than I do.

And, I have to admit that I enjoy this kind of “comfort food” from my childhood.  What I wanted to prepare was a dish that my late mother made whenever she and my father grilled flank steak–eek!–but my sister couldn’t find the recipe in her recipe files

The dish contained all of these vegetables, but no mayonnaise or cheese.  I can’t recall whether her recipe called for onion, nor whether there might have been a hint of Worcestershire or soy sauce in the dish; I might be remembering those ingredients from the marinade.  Regardless, this is a delicious and creamy–if not terribly low calorie–trip down Nostalgia Lane.  And everyone loved it as the perfect green element on our pretty dinner plates.

1-10 ounce package frozen green beans

1-10 ounce package frozen lima beans

1-10 ounce package frozen green peas

1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese (in a bag, not a can)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook frozen vegetables according to package directions and drain.  I like to use the microwave.  Drain vegetables. Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil over medium-highheat  until tender. Stir in sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and drained vegetables.  Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

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Vegan German Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

I hope my sweet, stubborn, late paternal grandmother, Mam-ma, is not “rolling over” at what I’ve done to one of her four iconic Christmas cookie recipes, mailed to us wherever we might be if not with her and Pap-pa, packaged in waxed-paper lined tins with the faint aroma of mothballs.

It is hard to improve on perfection and her roll and slice cookies were indeed perfect.  So, my version is not better, just different.  If you want to make Mam-ma’s, simply dispense with the chocolate, topping, and garnish, and enjoy plain, buttery, almond-infused cookies, perfect with tea.

Cookies:

1 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

Vegan Coconut, Pecan and Dried Cranberry Filling (recipe follows)

Pecan halves or large pieces

 

Cream together in an electric mixer butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Turn off mixer and add extracts, and 1/2 cup flour, and incorporate into butter mixture on low speed.  Gradually add remaining flour on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Divide dough into fourths, roll into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for 20 minutes or until firm.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into 1/4-inch diagonal slices and place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, preferably lined with Silpat or parchment paper.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (my family likes them a little more “done.”)  Remove the cookie sheets to a wire rack and cool completely. Top each cookie with a teaspoon of filling and garnish with a pecan half.

Vegan Coconut, Pecan and Dried Cranberry Filling:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain, vanilla or vanilla lite would also be good)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cognac or bourbon
Juice of one lemon
½-1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 ½ cups pecan pieces or chopped pecans
½ cup (generous) dried cranberries

In a medium saucepan, mix the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, extracts, cognac or bourbon, and lemon juice and zest. Whisk the cornstarch together with the water and add to soy milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cook and stir for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, pecans and dried cranberries. Cool to almost room temperature before spreading on layers.

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Vegan Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
One of My Better Homes & Gardens
Test Kitchen Winning Recipes

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

Well, I blew it in terms of posting these not-too-sweet rubry red cookies for Christmas.  But, they would be just as lovely for Valentine’s Day. So, Happy Whatever!

Back in the day, when Better Homes & Gardens Magazine ran monthly reader recipe contests, these cookies won an award.  I brought them back tthis year for our Christmas Cheer Open House with a drizzle, instead of a dip, of white chocolate.  I think they are magically beautiful…add silver or gold nonpareils if you desire some sparkle.

 

1 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1 ounce bottle red food coloring (choose an organic, vegan version)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

8 ounces melted vegan white chocolate (I order white chocolate chips online)

Optional: silver or gold nonpareils

Cream together in an electric mixer butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Turn off mixer and add food coloring, extracts, and 1/2 cup flour, and incorporate into butter mixture on lowest speed so as not to splatter.  Gradually add remaining flour on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Divide dough into fourths, roll into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for 20 minutes or until firm.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into 1/4-inch diagonal slices and place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, preferably lined with Silpat or parchment paper.  Remove the cookie sheets to a wire rack and cool completely.  Drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate (I use a pastry bag fitted with a small round tube for this task.)  Decorate with nonpareils if desired.

 

 

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Vegan Starbucks Look-Alike Cranberry Bliss Bars
‘Gotta Love Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg!

So sorry this is too late for the just-passed holidays.  But there is always next year’s celebration…or no celebration at all, just a craving for a delicious, beautiful sweet. Thanks to one of my newest creations, I need no longer stare longingly at these bars in the bakery case at Starbucks every morning on the way to school:

While I have found that most of my baked goods don’t require an egg substitute, something told me that these might in order to get just the right texture.  And something told me to try Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg.  I think the results speak for themselves.

BLONDIE LAYER:

3/4 cup vegan butter, melted and still warm
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg (powdered substitute)
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
6 ounces vegan white chocolate chips

FROSTING:

8 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces vegan white chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Combine warm melted butter and both sugars in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Let cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, whisk together egg replacer and water. Beat into butter mixture on medium speed, along with vanilla, just until combined. Beat in half the flour, just until combined, followed by the remaining half of flour, plus baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate chips (the batter will be thick). Spread the batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 18 to 21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add half the melted white chocolate, beating until well-blended. Frost the bars, sprinkle with cranberries, and drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. I use a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip for this task.

Store, covered, in refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving. Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit, uncovered for about a half hour. Cut into squares and then triangles to serve.

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Vegan Taco-Fajita Chex Mix
It’s Dangerous!

I love healthy whole foods as much as the next gal, but I do have my guilty pleasures.  And my late mom’s “Texas Trash,” the 1960s version of “Original Chex Mix,” is one.  But I can never leave well enough alone and, over the years, I have experimented with various flavored iterations.  This Taco-Fajita version is worth sharing.  I can’t keep this stuff in the house, so I made it for contractors renovating my kitchen to thank them for helping beautity my home.  But I had my share of tastes to satisfy my craving before I bagged it up for gift-giving. The fajita seasoning adds a nice citrusy lime flavor, but if that’s not your jam, just use two packages of Taco seasoning.  However, don’t even think about omitting the “cheese” crackers.

6 cups (about 12 ounces) Chex Cereal: wheat, rice or corn (I actually used Cascadian Farms Organic Whole Grain Squares–wheat, rice and corn combined–from Whole Foods so that I didn’t have to buy several boxes of cereal and have leftovers, as I am not a cereal eater)

 

2 1/2 cups vegan butter (it sounds like a lot BUT this recipe makes a lot and this amount is needed)

5 to 6 cups pecan halves (a bit over a pound)

1-1 ounce package Taco seasoning (be sure it’s vegan)

1-1 ounce package Fajita seasoning (be sure it’s also vegan and substitue another taco seasoning packet if you prefer)

1-14 ounce box Cheerios

8 ounces pretzel sticks (any shape is fine, but I like this shape for contrast)

1-6 ounce box Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavored Squares (purchased at Whole Foods)

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.  Stir in seasoning packets followed by pecans and toss well to coat.  Add remaining ingredients in succession, gently stirring after each addition to coat with the butter mixture.  Roast for 45 minutes, gently stirring up from the bottom every 15 minutes.  Turn off oven, leave door closed, and let the mix sit for a final 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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Crispy Vegan Fan Potatoes (Faux Hasselback Potatoes)

Not to be cliche, but I am not quite sure where the time has gone since Christmas when I intended to post a number of scrumptious new recipes.  I guess snow storms, work, new love (!), and just life intervened.

As most of your know by  now, my husband unthinkably passed away July 30, 2015, and my dog and mother–all adored–within the next two months.  I have been figuring out a lot of things–including the holidays–since then.  And, I’m grateful for the new insights and perspectives gained.

To celebrate Christmas 2015, I suggested that I meet my father and sister–who live together in MS–in New Orleans, a richly idiosyncratic city passionately loved by my family.  And we did.  I was as blissfully content as I could have bee, wandering the streets of the historic French Quarter.  But my father and sister, both more sedentary than me–as an octogenarian, he has a good excuse–were restless and a hint malcontent, only leaving the room in our favorite hotel with its exposed brick walls, lovely courtyard, and newly renovated interior for meals (some disappointing) and a modicum of site seeing.  We visited the Roosevelt hotel with its magical Winter Wonderland of a lobby.  And the Monteleone Hotel–where my parents honeymooned and where we hosted their 50th wedding anniversary–with it’s slowly rotating bar.

So,while it wasn’t entirely a bust, I didn’t feel we should attempt a repeat.  Plus, in September, Bob and I feel in love and wanted to spend the holidays together.  He went with me to a wonderfully warm Thanksgiving in MS and LA (at close friends’ gracious home in Covington, just outside of New Orleans), so I felt we should spend Christmas in VA where much of his family lives.  I invited Papa and Gin, they readily accepted, and then they both took ill, my father, too ill to travel.  So my sister, of course, chose to stay with him, as I encouraged her to do.  It was nothing too serious; just a combination of maladies that, together, didn’t lent themselves to plane travel.

Before we realized they wouldn’t be making the trip, I had quickly set about planning our celebration, having not spent Christmas in my own home for the entire 26 years I have lived here.  Joe and I had always hosted Thanksgiving but then, without children, went to spend Christmas with each of our families, he in PA, me in MS.  With no frame of reference, I was so surprised at how many of our friends were available over the Christmas weekend and, pretty soon, a restaurant brunch was planned with friends for Christmas Eve Day and invitations were sent for a Christmas Cheer Open House on Christmas afternoon followed by Christmas Dinner with Bob’s and my families at  my house on Christmas Night.

Shortly thereafter, I was suddenly faced with wrapping my arms around the fact that my family wouldn’t be here–the first time in my entire life I had not been with them on Christmas–so I threw myself into merry making of a different sort, keeping all of our plans in place, just with a bit of a void created by the absence of Papa and Gin.  I had done my usual minimal, but sparkly and special, decorating with the help of my beloved friend and house guest, Donna Reiss, for my annual Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party in mid-december.  That left concentrating on friends and food for Christmas weekend.

Here I share a favorite dish from Christmas Dinne 2017.  These potatoes are as delicious warmed and served the next day as when fresh and crispy out of the oven.  But don’t expect many leftovers.  And don’t wait for a holiday.  These spuds are striking, but easy enough for a weeknight provided you use a mandolin for slicing.

All of my recipes were easy this year, as I was all about low-stress, high times in the form of a tasty and festive new traditions. Though I cooked all day on Christmas–both the open house cookies and the dinner dishes had to be finished before the open house began–it was a very comfortable, perfectly balanced, unharried pace.

Crispy Vegan Fan Potatoes

2 pounds baking potatoes, scrubbed, and sliced about 1/4-inch thick (I used a mandolin for this purpose and microwave the small ends for gnoshing or potato salad)

1/4 cup (or more!) melted vegan butter

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 taspoon sea salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspooon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Smoked paprika

Spray with nonstick cooking spray a 9 x 13″ pan or therabouts.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place the melted butter, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, and add the potatoes, a handful at a time, tossing as you go to coat them completely.  “Shingle” or “fan” the potatoes in rows in the prepared pan, overlapping them fairly closely. No one will tell if you drizzle just a hint more butter over the top.  Cover the pan tightly with foil or an oven-safe lid and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the foil–potatoes should be cooked through (the tip of a paring knife should easily pierce the potatoes)–and roast, uncovered, for another 25 minutes or more, until potatoes are golden and crispy on the edges.  Even, or maybe especially, a little overly brown is scrumptious.  Sprinkle the top with a bit of smoked paprika and let the potatoes cool for about 5 minutes before serving with a spatula.  Use the knife-edge of the spatula to cut into sections, and then lift each section out with the flat surface.

 

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Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chocolate Chip,
White Chocolate Chip, & Dried Cranberry Cookies

gluten-free-chocolate-chocolate-chip-white-chocolate-chip-and-dried-cranberry-cookiesYield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

Just in time for the holidays are these handsome and festive cookies appropriate for even the most gluten intolerant on your guest list.

I am not a gluten-free baker but, occasionally, I make treats for my high school art students.  And, in my large Advanced and AP Studio class of 31 students, I learned that I have one girl with a gluten sensitivity.  So, feeling badly about her not being able to indulge in the treats I shared with them, I decided to experiment.

A few years back, I created a recipe for gluten-free cookies made with white bean puree and chickpea flour. They were delicious, but not as handy to make as if they didn’t call for the white beans.  And, I recently learned that my small neighborhood Kroger no longer carries chickpea flour, though they seem to stock every other kind of flour imaginable.  So, I chose one that was less expensive than most and that I thought might have a similar texture to the chickpea flour, namely brown rice flour.  Good decision.

Whie some gluten-free baked goods call for special flour blends, xantham gum, egg substitutes, and the like, I wanted mine to be straightforward and absent of ingredients that most bakers wouldn’t have on hand.  As a result, these absolutely delicious and beautifully-textured cookies were born.

I had found, trhrough previous experiments with gluten free cookies, that adding almond extract, in addition to vanilla extract, helps mellow any “off” taste that results from using flours that are stronger tasting than all purpose white or white whole wheat.  But, it occured to me that a teaspoon of espresso powder might further counteract those sharper flavors of some of the alternative flours without lending a pronounced coffee flavor.  And I was right.

As for texture these are a little crispy and ever-so-slightly sandy in texture–like the commercial “Pecan Sandies” of my youth–which everyone who has tasted themhas  found very appealing.  And I hope you do.

I served these with Prosecco to guests who stopped by after a concert.  It was lovely pairing and a special way to end the evening.

 

1/4 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup demerera sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almon extract

1 teaspoon espresso powder (or coffee/instant coffee ground to a powder in a spice grinder)

1/8 teaspoonsalt

1 cup brown rice flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (or up to 4)

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips (I ordered these online) + 1/4 cup additional (optional)

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I found a bag of pre-chopped ones) + 2 tablespoons additional (optional)

Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper; set aside.  Preheat oven to 3530 degrees.  Beat butter and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in sugar and continue beating until well creamed.  Add extracts, espresso pwder, salt, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix on lmedium-low speed just until well-combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Mix in the non-dairy milk, adding an additional tablespoon or two if necessary, as the brown rice flour is very absorbant.  On lowest speed, mix in both typs of chips and dried cranberries.  Using a tablespoon or small scoop, arrange mounds of dough about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Flaten with your middle three fingers to abotu 1/2-inch thick.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until desired doness is reached.  Remove baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before removing to a serving platter.  If desired, drizzle with 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted; I use a pastry bag for this task.  If more color is desired, press a couple of tablespoons of dried cranberries into drizzled white chocolate, distributing among cookies.

 

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Vegan Pumpkin Ale Spice Cake
with Salted Pecan Caramel Glaze

pumpkin-spice-cake-with-salted-pecan-caramel-plus-slice

If gingerbread and pumpkin cake got together on a booze-infused evening, this “baby” is what they would conceive.

Moist and deeply spiced, it is a carnivore-approved hit with one and all, regardless of dietary preference.  I adapted a favorite spice cake recipe of mine that called for natural cola, substituting pumpkin ale, adding pureed pumpkin, and otherwise tinkering.  I enjoy it with a little dollop of Coco Whip as a fluffy contrast to the richness of the cake.

Pumpkin Ale Spice Cake

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

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup granulated sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup molasses (dark or light, but not blackstrap)

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain would also be fine)

1 15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin

1 cup canola oil (or other mild vegetable oil)

1 cup pumpkin ale or hard cider (I used Harpoon Pumpkin cider)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

Salted Pecan Caramel (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt pan.  In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except baking soda, make a well in the center, and add all wet ingredients, except ale.  Whisk to completely combine.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk soda into ale.  It will fizz up.  Quickly whisk into batter until completely incorporated.  Transfer the batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack, and cool for about 15 minutes.  Loosen around all edges with a knife, being careful not to slice into the cake.  (I use a plastic knife, as my pan has a non-stick surface, but I still grease and flour it!)  Place serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate.  Let cool and then glaze if desired.  I recommend letting the glaze soak into the cake overnight before serving.

Salted Pecan Caramel

 1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons vegan butter

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

1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

Optional: 1 tablespoon rum, brandy, favorite liqueur

1/2 cup pecans

In a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high.  Whisk vigorously as it begins to melt.  Once the mixture is boiling and amber colored (if you use demerara, it starts out amber colored), whisk in butter until melted.  Remove pan from heat, count to three, and slowly whisk in the soy creamer, salt, and optional alcohol.  When smooth, allow the caramel to cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a small cup or bowl and let cool until a thick pourable consistency.  Drizzle or spoon over the cake.  You may either stir the pecans into the mixture before drizzling or sprinkle them over after the cake is glazed.

pumpkin-spice-cake-with-salted-pecan-caramel

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Vegan Smoked Cheese Grits
(with the topping of your choice)

cheese-gritsYield: approximately 4 modest servings

The last couple of months finds me joyfully experimenting with vegan dishes my new partner, Bob–a meatatarian–and I can share.  Though there are some dishes with which we enjoy tinkering together, these grits were a hit, though Bob topped his with something we will not mention on this site. 😉

Bob is very into balanced flavors and it was his idea to drizzle with the maple syrup, though though this is a savory dish. His suggestion was genius.

As for cheese, use any you prefer for a total of 8 to 9 ounces.  I love the smoky flavor, but it’s not necessary for a delectable finished dish.

Vegan Cheesy Grits (with the topping of your choice)

4 cups water
1 ccup stone ground yellow grits
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
*2 ounces grated vegan Parmesan
*3 ounces vegan cheddar
*4 ounces vegan smoked gouda
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Accompaniment: Sauteed vegetables of your choice (I sauteed shredded zucchini and yellow squash and a little kale in olive oil with minced garlic)

Garnishes: maple syrup and roasted and lightly salted nuts or seeds, e.g. pumpkin seeds

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring lightly salted water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and stir in grits and garlic. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes or so, stir in remaining ingredients except sauteed veggies and garnishes. Serve topped with those veggies and the optional drizzle of maple syrup plus a sprinkle of roasted nuts or seeds.

Note: I purchase the cheeses at Whole Foods.

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