The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes

Recipes for 'Vegan Christmas/Chanukah'

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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Corn Maque-ChouxHaving stayed in the New Orleans French Quarter with my family over Thanksgiving, I returned home with Corn Maque-Choux on my mind.  None of the versions that tempted me on menus there were vegan, so I was obsessed with giving it a try in my own kitchen.

Though corn is quite the summer vegetable, I was craving this Cajun mainstay, so I used frozen corn, and it was delish.  Many versions of this recipe abound so, after consulting several, I just started cooking from memory.

I rather like my take on this standard: slightly spicy from dried pepper flakes and a hint of smoked paprika, in addition to the requisite fresh thyme.  Plus, with it’s flecks of red bell pepper and green onion, it looks very festive for the holidays.

Plannig to make it a while ago–but becoming sidetracked–and having already purchased the produce, I realized I still had it on hand, yet I am heading out of town on Monday.  So, I had to use it up and, in a flash, realized that the Maque-Choux packaged in small glass canning jars that I happened to have would make a very festive food gift for guests at a luncheon I was privileged to attend at noon.  (Stay tuned for recipes from close friend Trish Pfeifer’s inspired meal.)  So, I went into high gear, also making a Vegan Fresh Fennel and Cranberry Chutney and bird ornaments from recycled Kleenex boxes–tucking all three with alittle tissue inside holiday gift bags–before going to yoga at 9:30 (okay, I was late: 9:40!).  Thank goodness Minnie wakes me up early!

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 bell peppers, diced (I used a red and an orange, but both red or 1 red and 1 green is nice too)

Sea salt

4 celery hearts, diced

6 green onions, sliced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

2-12 ounce packages frozen corn (about 5 1/3 cups)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plain coconut creamer

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell peppers and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occastionally, for about 3 minutes or until softened.  Add celery, and do the same.  Stir in green onions and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for another minute or two.  Add corn and cook, still stirring occasionally, until defrosted and heated through.  Sprinkle with pepper, smoked paprika, dried pepper flakes and flour, and stir to combine.  Drizzle creamer and soymilk over the top and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until flour no longer tastes raw and mixture is thickened.  Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve or spoon into an airtight container(s) and refrigerate.

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Fresh Fennel and Cranberry RelishToday, I woke up and suddenly realized that–having been preocupied for the last week–I had a little leftover fresh produce in the fridge, but I’m headed out of town for a week, and it would spoil before I returned.

Invited to a Christmas luncheon at noon, I decided to whip together a couple of things to give as gifts to the other guests.  Fortunately, I had a set of 4 ounce canning jars that were perfect filled with the chutney, tucked into small gift bags with an additional jar of Vegan Corn Maque-Choux, a little tissue, and simple little bird ornaments that I also whipped together using recycled Kleenex boxes with beautiful patterns.

It was a busy morning, as I still got to yoga at 9:30 (well, 9:40!), and to the lovely luncheon at the home of close friend, Trish Pfeifer!  (Stay tuned for some of her delcious recipes!)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cups diced fresh fennel (1 bulb + a little bit of the stalks)

Sea Salt

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion, fennel, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 mintues or until softened.  Add garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add cranberriesa and sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Add water and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until most of moisture is evaporated, or about 10 minutes, lowering heat if necessary.  Stir in wine, and let simmer, still stirring frequently, for anoter 10 minutes or until thick and pulpy.  Adjust salt, sugar or vinegar if desired.  Remove from heat, let cool, place into an airtight containers(s), and tie with ribbon and a star anise, if desired.

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Cranberry TartsMy dear artist friend, Sheila Giolitti’s, cranberry tarts were delicious at an intimate Christmas luncheon I was privileged to attend yesterday. Try these festive two-bite desserts at home: the filling was basically homemade cranberry sauce–just use the recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries–with orange zest and spices–use ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves or whatever you liked–spooned into purchased and baked phyllo shells (buy them frozen; most brands are vegan, but check the ingredients). Flaked coconut was the perfect snowy topping.

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Bird OrnamentYesterday, I made “tweet,” I mean sweet little recycled bird ornaments for some friends who would be at a Xmas luncheon, and wanted to share my so-simple-it-is-embarrassing approach with you.  You still have time before Christmas and they would make great gift tags too.

Nowadays,  cardboard Kleenex boxes have the most beautiful patterns, so I purchase ones I love (even though they don’t show in the aluminum tissue box covers I put them in), and then save them once the last Kleenex is used.

Remembering I had some lovely ones in my paper drawer, I simply cut-out a bird template, traced it onto the inside (the non-patterned side) of the tissue boxes–flipping it over so that I had a front and a back–glued them together, weighted them to dry (next time I’ll try double-sided tape), trimmed any edges that didn’t match up, punched a hole near the neck, and knotted a piece of twine through the hole.  Done!  Everyone loved them, and they truly are charming.

The one depicted I gave to our host and hostess, Ken and Trish Pfeifer; Trish photographed it and sent it to me.  You’ll notice that it’s little beak is solid gray.  That was dumb luck!  That particular Kleenex box had a band of solid color around the edge and I just happened to lay the template on the backside so that it lined up perfectly.  But even if such things don’t happen, the results are still delightful.

Have a Happy DIY Holiday!

~betsy

 

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Focaccia with Red Grapes, Acorn Squash, and Kale Pesto--SlicesYou can top this focaccia with anything, but I have to say that my combination of red grapes, roasted acorn squash and kale pesto is a keeper.  And it’s so pretty for Christmas.

The simple focaccia dough recipe is only slightly adpated from one in a culinary magazine that I cut out years ago, but failed to credit.  Sorry!  My only change was to add a little bit of olive oil and to correct the number of ounces in the yeast package.  The recipe calls for 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, but that is a 3/4 ounce package, not a 1/4 ounce package.  Details, details!

 

3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)

3/4 ounce (2 1/2 teaspoons) package fast-acting yeast (like Rapid Rise)

1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar

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

1 teaspoon sea salt + more for sprinkling

1 tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling

Red grapes, halved (in amount you choose to space about 1 inch apart)

Roasted acorn squash, cut in thin slices (enough to alternate with grapes)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Kale pesto (use your favorite or one of mine)–amounts may vary– brought to room temperature

Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast, and sugar and let stand until foamy or about 5 minutes.  Gradually stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil followed by flour and salt to form a soft dough.  On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough with floured hands for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.  Shape into a ball, rub with remaining teaspoon of olive oil, and invert bowl over the top.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Then, roll out dough into a 13 x 9 inch rectangle and transfer to baking pan, pressing gently into corners.  Let dough rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Arrange grape halves and acorn squash in an attractive design over the top, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake in center of oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool focaccia in pan on a metal rack.  Dot with pesto, slice, and serve.

Focaccia with Red Grapes, Acorn Squash, and Kale Pesto

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Since I published the “First Day of Christmas” post yesterday to allow a little grocery shopping time, I wanted to leave all you Blooming Platter supporters a cheerful post on Christmas, albeit one without a recipe, as I assume the menu is set and the cooking begun.

Have a lovely, healthy, tasty and “conscious” Christmas!

DiJulio Holiday Card

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Merry Christmas a day early everyone! 

This recipe is a three-fer and may require a quick nip into the grocery store, so I wanted you to have a time to procure the ingredients before Christmas arrives because this little nosh packs big flavor and is exactly how my family prefers to eat on Christmas Day.  Or you might even want to serve it tonight for Christmas Eve with your favorite beverage or imbibement.

Back in the day, my family loved a big feast.  Now we nosh.  But, regardless, this tri-level treat will be lovely alongside whatever else you serve.

My special Toasted Pumpkin Seeds don’t absolutely have to go on top, but I love nuts and seeds, so if a (wal)nut plus a (hazel) nut is good, a nut plus a seed is even better.  Therefore, you can just put out a bowl of the seeds for nibbling, then stand back and watch them disappear.

Along those lines, any one of the three parts of this stacked appetizer has a multitude of uses, so let your imagination and the rest of your menu be your guide.

May you have exactly the kind of holiday you need!

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I wanted to re-publish this recipe today, so that you could procure any of the few ingredients you don’t have on hand, as this tantalizing breakfast treat–like bread pudding for breakfast–with the healthful base of oatmeal needs to sit overnight.

It goes together in a snap, bakes up beautifully every time, and is a proven hit with men and non-vegans.  Everyone in your house will wake up to the aroma of Christmas personified and your oven will do all the work while you enjoy your family around the tree.

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It is supposed to chill down today through at least Christmas in much of the US that isn’t already frigid or frozen, so my Pumpkin Pie Espresso seemed the perfect way to start this morning, Christmas morning, or any winter morning!

(Please note: when you click on the link, it will take you to the recipe that I posted in 2011 with a cookbook giveaway but the giveaway is not a current offer.  Sorry!)

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