Vegan Mesquite BBQ Chex Mix

As I confessed in a previous post, I am darn near obsessed with rolling out new iterations of Chex Mix.  My adored late mother is, no doubt, doing her own share of rolling–as in rolling over–because she prefered classic, unadulterated versions of virtually all recipes, including her hallowed Texas Trash (aka Chex Mix) which made its annual appearance only at Christmas.

With new traditions the focus this Christmas, the second without her or my similarly adored late husband, I never made the Chex Mix, but I have been making up for it ever since with the creation of recipes for Taco-Fajita Chex Mix, Asian Chex Mix, Thai Chex Mix and, now, Mesquite BBQ.  The latter is COMPLETELY different from BBQ potato chips of which I am not a fan, as I find the flavor overpowering.  My Chex Mix is more subtle and complex.

If you are a purist when it comes to whole foods, fresh herbs, and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store–as I usually am–allow me to introduce you to the spice mix aisle where the McCormick brand rules in my local Kroger, though there are others.  It is a treasure trove of inspiration for, in my case, Chex Mix.

Perhaps my greatest contribution to the world of Chex Mix is the addition of ingredients not typically found in these mixes, e.g. Earth Balance “Cheddar” Crackers, French’s Crispy Onions (of green bean casserole fame), and Potato Sicks (my Asian versions include the likes of Chow Mein noodles, sesame sticks, and wasabi peas).  For this variety, I chose Corn Chex, as cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to (vegan) BBQ; Cheerios and pretzels because I love the contrast of shape and texture; “cheese” crackers, potato sticks, and crispy onions because, when I was a vegetarian in Nashville, I loved a potato, onion and cheese side dish with a crispy topping at the local BBQ joint; and pecans because I associate them with Texas and the south where BBQ rules.  But, I added some smoked almonds too because there is no such thing as too many nuts and because the smokiness is perfect in this BBQ-inspired iteration.

Choosing spice packets was challenging because of the many options.  Select whatever sound good–just check the ingredients list for whey and the like–but I ultimately decided on the combination of a mequite and a brown sugar-bourbon variety for a balance of spices, flavors–including tomoato–,smokiness, and just a hint of molasses-y sweetness.

Have fun playing with tastes and textures.  I would love it if you would share your results.  Here is mine:

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

2-1 to 1.25 ounce packets of vegan BBQ or grilling spice mix (I used one mesquite and one brown sugar-bourbon vareity)

6 ounces smoked almonds

6 ounces 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)

1-6 ounce box Earth Balance “Cheddar” Squares

1-8 ounce bag pretzel sticks

1-14 ounce box Chex Corn Cereal

1-14 ounce box Cheerios (NOT the sweet ones)

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 spice mix.  Then stir in all remaining ingredients in succession, gently stirring after each addition to coat with the butter mixture.  Roast for 60 minutes, 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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Blooming Platter “Vegan ‘Pulled’ Spaghetti Squash Barbecue” Featured on KitchenTreaty.com!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi all!  I’ve been on vacation for 5 days and have missed cooking and posting.

But I was delighted to return home and find a pingback related to my Vegan “Pulled” Spaghetti Squash.  Evidently, it had been featured by Karen Troughton on KitchenTreaty in 2012.   I don’t know much about this site other than what the tagline says “Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters CAN Live Together.”  But, regardless, thanks Karen!

As it happens, I found my mouth watering at the aroma of barbecue in the Houston International airport yesterday on our way home from (fabulous!) Aspen.  So, it seems that the universe is telling me that I need to remind readers about this recipe for summer BBQ enjoyment!

If you visit the KitchenTreaty post, you’ll see a couple of things:

1) That Karen created her own sauce recipe.  It contains a far shorter list of ingredients than mine but, trust me, I tweaked the flavor profile so that, at least to my palate, it is perfect!  And the only extra time involved is opening a few more spice jars.  The resulting sauce is well worth a tiny bit of extra effort.  So I wouldn’t tinker with my recipe unless you have a BBQ sauce that is your absolute favorite.

2) It appears, at least from her photograph, that her final dish ended up very moist. I like it much dryer, as in my photograph, so that the pile of “pulled” barbecue stands up nicely on it’s own, much like it’s non-vegan inspiration (see my photo above)–rather than sitting sort of puddle like on the bun. 🙂

But, however you like it–wet or dry–enjoy!  (Oh, and you’ll love my corn cakes and slaw in my recipe too!)

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Vegan "Pulled" Spaghetti Squash Barbecue with Vegan Cole Slaw on Vegan Creamed Corn and Chive Cakes–Appetizer Version

I thought that my vegan version of “pulled” barbecue plus tradition-trimmings-with-a-twist looked so pretty as an appetizer that I wanted to share this photo. For the recipes, just type this recipe title in the search box or scroll down four posts.

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Vegan "Pulled" Spaghetti Squash Barbecue with Vegan Cole Slaw on Vegan Creamed Corn and Chive Cakes

Yield: 4-8 servings (depending on how hungry you are)

My pal, Katherine Jackson, requested a veg version of pulled pork barbecue. When I told her she had me stumped (because I wasn’t sure how I could shred something like seitan in a home kitchen), she suggested spaghetti squash. I thought that was a brilliant idea. And I hope you agree.

But, for me, no barbecue meal is complete without the counterpoints of crispy-creamy cole slaw and tender “buttery” corn cakes, so I added those to the mix. I think you’ll love this trifecta of tastes. Here’s to you, Katherine, for providing great inspiration!

Vegan “Pulled” Spaghetti Squash Barbecue

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 spaghetti squash, roasted (see recipe below)
Bloomin’ Barbecue Sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high just until simmering and carefully swirl to coat the bottom. Stir a few spoonfuls of sauce into the squash until well-coated, but not not saturated. Add squash to heated pan and gently press into one layer, filling the skillet. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes. You want it to char just slightly in some places on the bottom but not stick and burn. Stir or loosen from bottom if necessary. Turn the squash over one spoon- or spatula-full at a time and cook for another 3-5 minutes to achieve the same light char in places. Serve with additional sauce, heated, with Vegan Cole Slaw on warm Vegan Creamed Corn Cakes. (All recipes follow.)

Spaghetti Squash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a baking pan. Split spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and stringy pulp and discard (compost!). Place squash halves face down on the baking pan and roast in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack, let sit until cool enough to handle and then scrape flesh out of shell in a flaking motion using a fork creating “shreds.”

Bloomin’ Barbecue Sauce

Optional, but recommended: 1 small onion, finely diced and sauteed in a little olive oil over medium-high heat until golden and slightly caramelized
1-15 ounce can tomato puree
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Amino Acids
5 tablespoons sweetener (I like 1 tablespoon each of the following, but use what you have: maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, brown sugar)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1-3 teaspoons prepared mustard
pinch of coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
pinch of freshly ground black pepper to taste
a dash or two of Liquid Smoke to taste

Stir all together and heat gently until simmering. Simmer for just a few minutes to let flavors combine. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

For the Vegan Cole Slaw recipe and some 170+ more,

I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:

A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press

Spring 2011

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Vegan Backyard Barbeque

Memorial Day will be here before we know it. For a vegan menu that is cause for celebration, check out this link to a feature I wrote for The Virginian-Pilot:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/05/host-vegan-backyard-barbecue

The article includes the following recipes:
-Grilled Basic Vegan Burgers, Soy Cheese Burgers
– Vegan Cowboy Steaks
-Grilled Corn on the Cob with Soy Herb Butter
-Grilled Veggie Kebabs

For the grilled pound cake, try the pound cake recipe at http://aveganfordinner. blogspot.com/

Photo Credit: Bill Tiernan
Photo Styling: Betsy DiJulio

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