Best Hot Vegan Crab Dip (baked)

How can healthy and quick taste and feel so decadent and delicious?

12 ounces silken tofu
4 ounces vegan cream cheese
Optional (but recommended): 2 teaspoons vegan fish sauce, sold as vegetarian fish sauce at Asian markets
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Optional (but recommended):1 teaspoon Dulce flakes
Zest and juice of one medium lemon
Optional: 1 to 2 drops hot sauce
1 can hearts of palm, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 bunch or about six to seven green onions, thinly sliced
Optional: 1/4 cup + 2 T. shredded vegan parmesan (I like Follow Your Heart brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a medium ceramic or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Process first 9 ingredients until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in hearts of palm, green onions, and optional parmesan.  Transfer to baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan, if desired, and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with toast, crostini, crackers, or raw vegetables.

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Day 15: Indian Saag Dip–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Indian Saag Dip(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

I thought I would try a little Indian cooking today so I chose the Indian Saag Dip. I read through all of the ingredients (and there are a lot of them!) and checked through my spice cabinet to see what I needed. Well this led to a complete reorganization of my spices because I couldn’t find anything I was looking for even though I could have sworn it was there.

So I lined them up in alphabetical order and was surprised to see what I really had. I needed turmeric and cardamon so I went shopping. Turmeric was no problem to find but cardamon was a whole different story. Since starting this challenge I find myself seeking out spice aisles searching for spices I have never heard of. I firmly believe that some can only be found in a secret vegan underground to which I am not invited. Well I finally found cardamon but the price – wow! I kept searching til I found what appeared to be buds of it for $5 on the Asian food aisle. Jackpot! I will simply grind it down myself. I must say it did look a bit sketchy grinding buds down in my kitchen.

The recipe goes on to tell me to get my piece of crap food processor out again – please can I have a break from this for just one night? I throw in the tofu and soy milk (yes I broke down and bought the soy milk) and it says to scrape down the sides as needed. Well with my processor once you are lucky enough to lock it in, you don’t unlock it til it’s done. My friends don’t believe it can be this bad. They insist I am being a total drama queen about this so I videotaped it tonight. Once you see it you will understand.

Oh and by the way if any of you run into my husband please tell him I would like a food processor for my birthday. Now he will look at you with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look but that is just because buying women appliances or cleaning equipment is prohibited in this household. He will think this is a trick. I have taught both my boys (and my husband) that unless the woman specifically asks for it, you do not offer it as a gift. This became a hard and fast rule after my younger son let it slip that they were going together to get me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas one year. They really didn’t understand my reaction to this. Needless to say I did not get a vacuum. But just tell my husband this time I really am asking for one ok?

Now moving on…once all the ingredients were in the pan, the aroma was fantastic. The flavors came together so well – it was a nice variation from the dips we usually make. I will definitely try this one again.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 10: Blooming Broccoli Dip–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Blooming Broccoli Dip(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today I decided to try the Blooming Broccoli Dip to set out as a serve-yourself lunch option. I read that this could also be served as pita sandwiches so it sounded like a perfect choice.

My kitchen was undergoing some repairs this morning but I found a small space to set out a cutting board and start chopping up the veggies. Funny thing – no one thought it was weird that I chose this particular moment to start cooking – I guess that’s a good thing!

My son was was watching all the healthy vegetables going into the bowl and then he saw me pull out the mayo and says dryly, “Well there goes the healthy part.” Not true! Though I didn’t make the vegan mayo in the book, I still use a healthier option, so no worries.

This recipe turned out looking so pretty! Since I didn’t have to serve it immediately I was able to take some time to get a proper photo. Thankfully everyone was so busy doing their own thing that they didn’t see me with my fingers in the dip trying to face the broccoli florets up and wiping some of the mayo off the red pepper so the color would pop. It was definitely not normal looking!

Once I started shooting though, I did get some remarks like “Jeez, you’re taking pictures of food now??” Is that really so weird guys? I take pictures of lots of things, but then I started explaining that food photography was a new area for me and it’s big business now. My friend in California is doing it and she’s doing well. I look up from my viewfinder and no one is even there listening to my lengthy explanation. Seriously I get no respect!

But that’s ok because I was really stretching to come up with something to throw them off of what I’m really doing! We really loved this recipe. We ate it as a dip at lunch and then made wraps out of it for dinner. I even heated it with some leftover steak and shredded sharp cheese for my son’s wrap. I really like the versatility and the beautiful look of this one. Definitely a hit with our family.

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan Tropical Hummus–Hummus Just Got a Boost of Flavor AND Texture!

Tropical HummusYield:  approximately 2 cups

As most of you know, since my darling husband of 25 years passed away on July 30, 2015, my relationship to food has been profoundly impacted.  I no longer cook or eat as much as I did before.  And when I do, its meaning has been transformed.  You can read the long version here in an essay published by Alimentum, a literary and art journal devoted to food.  [Scroll down under “Throw Tradition to the Wind” (though you might enjoy it too) to “‘Til Death or Dinner Do Us Part.”

The short version is simply that, though I love and respect food–perhaps more than before–I now think of it as somewhat of a sacrament, as an outward sign of inward grace, more spiritual than it once was.

When this began to happen–which was, actually, almost immediately–I jokingly proclaimed this the year of the “mini meal.”  In that spirit, I offer this recipe, though it is really more of a formula, and a simple one at that.

It was inspired by a bite of something I tasted, coincidentally, at a Celebration of Life for a dear friend who passed away just before Christmas.  Called Tuscan Hummus, it was creamy, but with appealing chunks of tomato, basil, and ???  I have long been a fan of a layer of tapenade spread over hummus, but I found the idea of a “chunky” hummus ultra appealing.

Wanting to make this new creation quick and easy, I thought a salsa would be a fun twist and the tropical pineapple salsa at Whole Foods was their most enticing.  So, I stired a cup of it, drained, into a cup of their plain hummus and voila!  For extra crunch, I served it garnished with the little crispy bits and pieces at the bottom of the container of their vegan kale chips.  A brilliant lunch with a dab of lentil soup on the side.

Of course, you could make your own hummus and your own salsa.  But, after Christmas, I started teaching a 6th class and a 4th prep–AP Art History (a super-rewarding but time-consuming course)–so quick and easy without sacrificing flavor or nutrition earns an A+ in my book.

1 cup plain or garlic hummus, homemade or preapred

1 cup tropical pinapple salsa (or your favorite type), homemade or prepared, drained

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish: crispy kale chip bits

Accompaniment: cracker or pita chip of your choice

 

Stir together hummus, salsa, sea salt and pepper.  Serve on crackers or pita chips garnished, if desired, with crispy kale chip bits.

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Festive and Heart-Healthy Vegan Red Beans and Greens Dip + How to Host a Holiday Swap

Serves: 25 or more as part of an appetizer buffetBeans and Greens Dip

Last Tuesday night was my 15th annual all-girls Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party and Swap.   This beloved fete is one of the most cherished of the holiday season.

This year, twenty-two of my nearest and dearest gathered for a tasty and festive vegan spread, including this dip, lots of conversation–and wine–and lively swapping of enticing items (home, garden, fashion, etc.) in excellent condition for ourselves and for holiday gift-giving.

If you’ve never hosted a swap, here is my easy formula:  set up a table near your entrance outfitted with clothespins, markers, and index cards.  As your guests arrive with their items, invite them to write a description on a card for each item (so that swappers will know what is yours and what is up for grabs) and place it with the item in the designated area.  In my case, that’s my living and dining rooms (I serve the food on the peninsula in the kitchen).

Then, for each item a guest brings, she receives a token in the form of a clothespin on which she writes her name with marker.  I save them in zip-lock bags, one per person, from year to year so as not to be wasteful.  When each guest finds an item she wants, she clips one of her clothespins to the card or the item.  If an item only garners one clothespin, that person gets to take it home.  If more than one, the clothespins go in a basket or bag and someone draws the winner with the other person or people allowed to continue shopping.  Anything left over at the end of the night is either donated to charity or, if someone is out of tokens and covets another item, can be purchased with the proceeds also going to charity.

Because most all of us have more than we need, it is an excellent time to shop for gifts.  Just remind guests that the party is a “swap,” not a “drop” so that no one says, “I really don’t need anything, so I’m not going to shop…”  Otherwise, the hostess ends up hauling lots of stuff to the thrift store and it’s not nearly as much fun.

 

Vegan Beans and Greens Dip

16 ounces vegan sour cream

8 ounces vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise or Just Mayo from Whole Foods)

2-16 ounce bags frozen mixed greens or spinach, thawed, and squeezed out (I purchased organic 365 brand at Whole Foods)

2-14 to 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

Approximately 2 tablespoons of your favorite spices or blends (I used a blend from Spice Ace in San Francisco, a gift from a friend, but use what you like; it’s hard to go wrong)

Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together, chill, and serve with crackers or toasts.

CCC&C--Betsy and Jonell
Hostess, Betsy DiJulio (in her hat from the swap), with Jonell Walthall, who brought a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook to be signed.
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Vegan Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach Dip

Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach DipThis luscious-but-healthy dip with sea salt pita chips was a hit at a recent wine tasting (for my husbands posthumous 57th birthday party, as he, sadly, didn’t quite make it).  Afterwards, the leftovers were scrumptious as a quesadilla filling.  I topped those golden beauties with vegan sour cream, shredded purple cabbage and carrots, and fresh cilantro leaves.

 

8 ounces vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

2-15 ounce cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

Approximately 1 cup sauteed spinach, coarsely chopped

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced)

1/2-1 teaspoon rubbed sage

Zest of 1/2 lemon (good without; better with)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt to taste

Accompaniment: pita chips or other crackers

Mash together vegan cream cheese and mayonnasie until well combine.  Add beans and coarsely mash.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir together until well combined.  Serve chilled with your favorite chip or cracker or use as a filling for quesadillas or enchiladas.

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Vegan Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Greens, Mushrooms, and Water Chestnuts (made with GO Veggie! cheeses)

Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Greens, Mushrooms and Water ChestuntsYield: approximately 6 cups

Baby, it’s cold outside!  At least it is here in Eastern VA where we are expected to experience the southern edge of the winter storm headed for New England.  A warning is scheduled from 7 p.m. this evening until 4 p.m. tomorrow.  Yippee….Snow Day!

When snow is on it’s way, there is only one thing to do: make sure there is delcious, nutritious, body-and-soul warming food ind the house.  And this dip (which is darn tasty in a baked potato) fits that bill.

Inspired by the Super Bowl–you have to have dip during that game of games, no?–and by a bountiful box of GO Veggie! vegan cheeses kindly sent to me to test, I incorporated three kinds of cheesiness to achieve the flavor and texture I was after.

I am a new fan of GO Veggie! cheeses, having only discovered that the company makes vegan products (look for the purple label) when they contacted me recently, as the Kroger where I shop only stocks the vegetarian varieties.  With nice mild flavor, texture, and meltability, all they lack is “stretch,” and I can live with that.  Find a store near you.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced (or 1/2 medium onion)

Sea salt

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-8 ounce carton GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Chive and Garlic  Cream Cheese

1/2  to 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or dried oregano)

2-14 ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained well, and chopped

3 cups coarsely chopped and lightly packed fresh mustard greens (feel free to use the greens of your choice, e.g. kale, spinach, Swiss Chard, etc.)

1-7 to 8 ounce cansliced  mushrooms, drained (I almost always use fresh everything, but canned are perfect for this)

1-8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained

1-8 ounce package GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Mozzarella Shreds

1/2 cup GO Veggie! Dairy-Free Parmesan Grated Topping, divided

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Garnish: smoked or plain paprika

Accompaniments: chips  or crackers of your choice (I bought the beet tortilla chips in the photograph in T. J. Maxx–tasty and such a pretty contrast with the green dip!)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add, garlic and saute, stirring, for about 30 seconds.  Add the cream cheese and Italian seasoning and stir until melted,lowering heat at any point if necessary.  Stir in artichoke hearts followed by greens, one cup at a time, allowing each cup to wilt before adding next cup.  Then stir in mushrooms, water chustnuts, mozzarella shreds, and 1/4 cup parmesan topping, stirring until mozzarella is completely melted.  Season to taste with additional sea salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper.  At this point, you may transfer into a greased casserole dish if you like, but I baked it right in the skillet.  Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan and sliced almonds.   Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with smoked or plan paprika and serve hot with chips or crackers.

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Vegan Pumpkin, White Bean and Kale Dip–Crazy Easy, Nutritious and Delicious!

Pumpkin, White Bean, and Kale DipYield: approximately 3 1/2 cups

This recipe is throw-together easy, highly nutritional, and delicious to boot.  It was inspired yesterday by what was in our pantry and fridge when an impromptu post-yoga, haven’t-yet-been-to-the-market, quick lunch was in order.

1-15.5 ounce can white beans like cannelini, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

2 cups loosely packed chopped raw kale

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew pieces

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon rubbed sage (or 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves)

1/2 teaspooon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: fresh sage leaves or rosemary sprigs

Accompaniments: toasts, bagel chips, pita chips, or crackers (I like melba toast as depicted)

 

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well-combined, but not pureed.  It should be creamy but with some nice texture and flecks of color.  Serve slightly warmed atop your favorite crunchy accompaniment.

 

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Vegan Smoked Almond and Spinach Spread (or Pesto)–Great Made with Farm Stand Swiss Chard and Kale Too!

Vegan Spinach and Smoked Almond Spread

Yesterday, at the farm stand, gazing lovingly at the fresh greens grown right on the property, I suddenly remembered that I had never posted this recipe. I made it with spinach, but it would be just as good with Swiss Chard or kale.

Fondly dubbed by one guest as “the green thing” at my friend, Jo Grice Barrows’, potluck appetizer birthday party, this dip was a hit!  And it was by NO means a vegan crowd!

I came home from school on a Friday after a busy week near the end of the academic year, the day of the party, and it started pouring.  I thought to myself, “I REALLY don’t want to get out; I wonder if we have ANYTHING on hand from which I could make an appetizer?”

A scan of the pantry and fridge yielded smoked almonds and fresh baby spinach.  Voila!  Vegan Smoked Almond and Spinach Spread was born.  And its consistency makes it also perfect for a pesto.

This crowd-pleasing appetizer could not go together more more easily or more quickly.  I whipped it up and still had time to walk both dogs their typical mile each once the rain stopped.  When I told my husband I created the spread from what we had in the house, he said with mock incredulity, “You made it out of dog food and Pill Pockets?”  Funny guy.

You will love this spread even if you have LOTS more ingredients on hand.

2 cups smoked almonds

4 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons water

2 large cloves garlic, halved

2 teaspoons fresh fresh lime  juice (lemon is tasty too)

1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon natural sugar

Optional pinch sea salt

Accompaniments: crackers, toasts, bagel chips, fresh vegetable “dippers,” etc.

Place smoked almonds  in a food processor, and pulse until nuts are finely chopped.  Add spinach, and pulse a few more times until spinach is finely chopped and mixture just begins to hold together like a paste.  Add remaining ingredients and continue pulsing until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture reaches a thick, slightly textured, spreadable consistency.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time.  Serve in a bowl surrounded by the accompaniments of your choice.  I tucked a little yellow parasol on the side since the weather was warm, but you can garnish however you please.

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