Vegan Lunch Hack
Southwestern Butternut Squash Bisque

An easy, elegant, low calorie and, of course, vegan lunch hack…

Southwestern Butternut Squash Bisque
Yield: 2 generous servings, app. 200 calories each (including garnish)

Every so often, I go on what I only half-jokingly call an “austerity program,” limiting myself to what’s in my pantry or freezer combined with a few fresh ingredients rather than giving in to whims and cravings that would require more purchases.

I have had some Dr. Mcdougall’s brand organic, vegan Butternut Squash Bisque hanging around in a 17.6 ounce box for a while. I opened it, tasted it, and found it lovely in its sweetness, earthiness, and velvety texture.  But I felt it needed a little boost.  Incidentally, the whole container was only 240 calories.

I also discovered some Frontera brand Green Chile Enchilada Sauce with roasted tomatillo and garlic in an 8 oz package.  This whole container was only 80 calories and it, too, was tasty and silky on its own.

I simply stirred them together, heated the mixture, put a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprig of fresh cilantro on top, and garnished with a little side salad of mixed lettuces, halved cherry tomatoes, and a wedge of lime. In a very few minutes, lunch was served.

Honestly, I would order this dish in a restaurant and tip generously with compliments to the chef.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip or Sauce
The BEST Hot Vegan Cheese Dip or Sauce
Get Your Super Bowl Game On!

This is the old school recipe my way…

And hopefully I am not posting this too late for your Super Bowl festivities.

Recently, a local vegan bakery advertised their vegan “chick-un” nugget platter with “cheese” sauce for the Super Bowl.  I was curious about the sauce because, fairly recently in researching vegan cheese sauces online, there was a baffling array of sauces made with potatoes, eggplant, cashews and more.  But I was highly skeptical and  wondered to myself at the time, “Why not just melt some vegan cheese?”   And I shied away from experimenting.  But, Friday, I purchased some of the advertised sauce on the way to school to enjoy with my lunch at my desk.  It was a nice texture and lovely color, but it tasted oddly of garlic and mustard, ingredients I have used in vegan cheese spreads, but better camouflaged than that. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste convincingly like cheese.

So, I looked up the old recipe from my childhood–10 ounces of Ro*tel tomatoes and 1 pound of Velveeta–and purchased some Ro*tel yesterday on my grocery store run.  The cheese I had on hand.  Velveeta is so processed that it always reminded me of what would happen if orange vinyl were sold in blocks, so I figured that vegan cheese would be a shoe-in.  This morning I melted it in the microwave with the So Delicious vegan shredded cheeses I had on hand–both cheddar and cheddar-jack–and I was right!  I needed look no further for my go-to cheese sauce.  And, shamefully, I fantasized almost all the way through my yoga class, buying some jalapeno-lime corn chips on the way home and diving in.

Granted, this is not health food folks.  It is an occasional splurge.  And with the price of vegan cheese, it’s not cheap.  But it is super simple, lightening fast, and delicious.  It contains no nuts as some cheese sauces do, but it does contain soy.  However, soy is not even a whisper of a problem for me and hopefully not for you.

Plus, I can think of a million ways to use it.  It is hard to beat, plain, as a hot dip for chips.  But why not add corn, black beans, green chilies, vegan sausage, cooked diced potato, or some of all and enjoy it as a chunkier dip, as a sauce for nachos, a filling for enchiladas, or even as a base for a casserole, say potato and Poblano?  Or simply kick it up with some cumin, coriander, chili powder, or lime juice?

While your wheels are turning, why not make a batch and munch on it with some crispy chips?

Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip

1 10-ounce can Ro*tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, mild or spicy

1 pound shredded vegan cheese (I like So Delicious cheddar and cheddar-jack sold in 8 ounce packages)

Optional garnish: chopped fresh garnish

Place in a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler and heat until melted, stirring frequently, approximately 8 minutes.  Whisk for a smoother finished product.  Serve warm with chips and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan 4-Ingredient Thai Chicken and Cream Cheese Roll-ups
Quick-and-Easy

These simple retro-contemporary apps are like cute little packages, and they are so quick, easy, and satisfying.  Though they are best warm, they are even delicious cold.  I know because I have brought them to school for lunch 3 days this week and my days don’t leave time to heat my lunch.

I am not sure why I even had Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in the fridge–vegan Pigs-in-a-Blanket?–but I did and I was craving my Vegan Thai Chicken Bites.  However, I had no puff pastry and no cashews.  So, I adapted.  I used the same sesame-garlic Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick’n and a dab of commercial Thai peanut sauce in both, but added a layer of vegan cream cheese to the roll-ups, and omitted the cashews.  Delish.

For presentation at home, I arranged them on a leaf of kale and sprinkled coconut shavings over the top.  But, believe me, they are also irresistible out of a Tupperware carton.

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Approximately 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese, softened

1 box sesame garlic Tofurky Roasted Chick’n

Approximately 3 tablespoons commercial or homemade peanut sauce + extra for dipping

Optional: fresh kale leaves and coconut shavings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat (silicone baking sheet) or spray with nonstick spray.  Unroll crescent roll dough and separate triangles, laying them a couple of inches apart on baking sheet.  Spread with about 2 teaspoons of vegan cream cheese, top with about 1/8th of the chick’n, drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of peanut sauce, and roll up beginning with wide side of dough triangle opposite point.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool enough to handle and then serve immediately on an optional bed of kale sprinkled with coconut shavings and a dish of extra peanut sauce for dipping.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Salad Burgers
with My Secret Binder: Brown Rice Cakes!
Leftover Bean Salad Never Looked or Tasted So Good!

If you have one of “those” bean salads hanging around in your refrigerator–you know, tasty enough, but not exciting enough to eat over and over again–STOP!  Don’t throw it out or force yourself to eat it as is.

Instead, make my newest “burger” creations.  These could not be quicker, easier, nor tastier.

With a salad similar to the lovely one below in the fridge leftover from my mother’s New Year’s Day tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck–it was good, but unremarkable enough that I didn’t photograph and post (such salads are a dime a dozen)–it suddenly occurred to me that I could use it as the basis for a bean burger.  But I didn’t want to use the traditional high calorie binder of nuts or flour or even oatmeal because I didn’t have any.  But I did have brown rice cakes (vastly superior in flavor and texture to the white rice ones, as  I recently discovered).

Hattie B's Black Eyed Pea Salad | Life, Love, and Good Food

(photo credit: Sheila Thigpen on Epicurious)

Perusing my pantry, it occurred to me that rice cakes might be just the perfect moisture-absorbing binder I sought.  It turns out that one rice cake per one cup of salad binds perfectly, lending a lovely–I’d say ideal–texture.  Of course, it will depend on the moisture in your salad, so be prepared to add more or perhaps even less.

And for an exterior with an irresistible crusty crunch, I experimented with plain, unseasoned yellow cornmeal.  It was perfect.

Regarding presentation, more Snow Days, courtesy Winter Storm Grayson, than we have had since I begin my teaching career 15 years ago meant that my weekday lunches looked a little different than they do on my art room desk at school.  For the nicest presentation, go for height and color contrast.  I made my cakes small-ish and thick-ish, akin to a crabcake.  And I stacked two on a nest of fresh baby spinach, topping them with a little vegan sour cream and cranberry relish–red is the complementary color of green–leftover from Christmas, finishing with a sprinkling of roasted and lightly salted pepitas.  The combination earns an A+ according to my stringent rubric.

(Note: certainly, you can serve this burger on a bun if you choose, but I prefer mine open-faced, as bread just provides too many calories and not enough nutrition in my diet of around 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day.  Keeps me in fighting form!)

I hope you agree.

Vegan Black-Eyed Pea (or Bean) Burgers

Yield: 4 patties

2 cups black-eyed pea or any bean salad

2 brown rice cakes crumbled (may require more or less depending on moisture in your salad)

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

Vegetable oil

Optional accompaniment: baby spinach or your favorite greens

Vegan sour cream or your favorite sauce

Vegan relish or salsa (I used cranberry relish leftover from Christmas)

Optional garnish: roasted and lightly salted pepitas or your favorite nut or seed

In a food processor, pulse bean salad until it is finely minced and just starting to hold together.  Crumble 1 1/2 rice cakes into the processor and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to come together almost like a cookie dough, but with lots of texture and flecks of color.  Add the remaining rice cake or more if needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Remove mixture to a bowl and, using a scoop or spoon, compact 1/4 of the dough into a patty about an inch tall.  Set on a plate.  Repeat with remaining mixture to make 4 patties.  Place yellow cornmeal in a shallow bowl and lay each patty on top, patting the cornmeal onto all the surfaces, flipping for a nice even coating top and bottom.  Heat a very thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium (or at whatever temperature gives you a nice sizzle).  Carefully place each patty into the pan, cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned on the first side, flip, and cook 3 more minutes or until lightly browned on the reverse.  Serve on a bed of baby greens, drizzle with vegan sour cream or a favorite sauce, top with a dollop of relish or salsa, and sprinkle with the nut or seed of your choice.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Cheese,
Maple Syrup & Sriracha
4 ingredient, quick & easy, super sexy appetizer

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t enjoy Brussels sprouts for breakfast. However, southeast Virginia, where I live, just experienced “Snowmageddon,” aka The Blizzard of 2018, and the light is absolutely breathtaking.

So I knew I wanted to do a photoshoot this morning to take advantage of the glorious glistening out the window.  And I certainly wasn’t going to allow these beauties to go to waste.

If you are in need of a quick, drop-dead gorgeous, and delicious appetizer–or breakfast (just kidding)–look no further.
Simply top crispy roasted Brussels sprouts halves with a dollop of softened vegan cream cheese or nut cheese, homemade or prepared like Treeline brand, a drizzle of maple syrup from a spoon going in one direction, and a drizzle of sriracha straight from the bottle going in the other direction–almost like handwriting–and finish with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. (Note: I am impatient and like my Brussels sprouts practically charred, so I roast them at 500 degrees with just a hint of nonstick spray or olive oil and coarse sea salt, stir them a couple of times, and watch them carefully.)

Voila! You will impress your guests and satisfy both their eyes and their appetites.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Cheesy Garlic and Herb Snack Crackers
quick and easy perfection

Every year of my life, until my mother passed away, I was in my parents home for Christmas. And every night before I was due to fly home, my mother would be up late–me often with her, though I tended to give out earlier than her even more intrepid and tenacious self–in the kitchen making a treat for me to take on the plane. It was either Chex Mix, which she called Texas Trash, or her famous almond butter toffee.

After Mama died, my father and sister were supposed to come to Virginia to celebrate Christmas with me, and both times there plans fell through. The first year, which was 2 years ago, they both got sick. This year, they got snowed in.

But, Tammy Wells, my best friend since 3rd grade, who was, like me, also recently widowed, came on Christmas Day to attend Bob’s and my open house for 35 beloved people in our lives, and spend the week. It has been a glorious will we end up hiking in the freezing cold, happy hours and tea with friends, dinner with Bob’s family, yoga, and more.

She is leaving at 6 this evening, flying back to Mississippi, so I had to uphold the tradition of my dear Mama, whom one of my friends dubbed the Genius of Christmas, and make Tammy  a treat for the plane.

I love Chex Mix and almond butter toffee, but I needed something even quicker. So I devised this tecioe in my mind, whipped it up, and even Bob the Omni who, for the most part, does not care for my food, loved them.

I will be making this quick and easy treat over and I can throughout the holidays and beyond.  Feel free to experiment with different types of dry seasoning mixes and nuts.

Recipe

1 6-ounce box Earth Balance Cheddar Flavor Squares

1/4 chp roasted and sakted almonds

1/4 cup really good olive oil

.70 to .75 ounce package dried garlic and herb seasoning mix

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a 9 x 13 -nch metal baking pan, combine crackers and almonds. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together olive oil, seasoning mix, and paprika. Drizzle over crackers and almonds, stir gently to combine well, place in oven and bake for 7 minutes.  Stir and bake for 7 more minutes. Let cool and store in airtight containers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Nutella and Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

I can’t see Santa’s Forest for these adorable trees.

Apparently they are all the rage this year, but I was evidently a little late to the pastry tree party.  Make yours with pizza dough or puff pastry and spread with the sweet or savory filling you most crave. Just be sure to include a creamy base to adhere the layers together.

My version is sweet–but not too–uses only three ingredients and, after the pastry thaws, is ready to devour in under 30 minutes.  I left a Middle Eastern dinner and this tree last night for our dog sitters (yes, we are those dog owners) while we joined friends for their Christmas Eve Eve tradition: a salad and sip of wine followed by a Christmas light-lit walk over to the Naro, an independent film house, to see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The twins left some of the tabouli salad but not a crumb of the pastry. It was a huge hit with these 19 year olds.

My take on this new classic was inspired by its key ingredient: Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Oraganic Dairy-Free Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread, generously sent to me for product review purposes. With a deeply nutty and chocolatey flavor–its richness undiluted by dairy–and a thick and creamy–but spreadable–texture, this product is tops in my pantry (it needs no refrigeration).  It is also gluten- and palm oil-free.

Recipe

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions

4.5 to 5 ounces vegan Hazelnut-Cocoa spread (1/2 jar Nocciolata)

1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On baking stone or parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, stack the two pastry sheets.  With a sharp knife, cut into a triangular tree shape with a 1-inch or so wide trunk at the bottom. Remove top sheet, spread bottom sheet with hazelnut-cocoa spread, replace top sheet, lining up edges, and press down gently.

Cut 1 star from scraps and whatever other shapes you like fir nibbling or to serve as croutons on salads. Place pastry shapes on a separate stone or lined baking sheet.

Make 3/4-inch wide horizontal cuts from outer edges of triangle toward the center, stopping even with outer edges of trunk leaving a 1-inch or so wide trunk up the center. Twist each long cut strip twice and the shorter ones once, pressing tips firmly against baking stone or sheet.  Brush very lightly with non-dairy milk, press star onto top point, and brush star with a tiny bit more non-dairy milk.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, but remove shapes cut from scraps after 10 or 15 minutes or they will burn. Remove baking sheet with pastry tree from oven, cool slightly, and slide tree onto serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Mini-Chutney & Cocowhip “Pies”
Ready in a (Ginger)Snap

These pretty little mini-pies make holiday pie “baking” a snap. A gingersnap.

I am so happy to share this cheater “recipe” with you, the brain child of my good friend, Mary Beth Watson. It is really just a 3-ingredient lickity-split process.

After one bite, no one will care how little time you spent laboring in your kitchen.

Ingredients:

Anna’s or your favorite brand crispy scalloped (preferably) vegan gingersnaps

Chutney (apple-pecan or, for Christmas, cranberry-orange-walnut “sauce” works nicely)

So Delicious brand Cocowhip or your favorite vegan whipped cream

To make each mini-pie, top one gingersnap with a spoonful of chutney followed by a dollop of Cocowhip. That’s it! Make as many or as few as you need just before serving time.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Cream Cheese Ricetini

Yield: 4 servings

When you need a meal that is more like a snack, you need my Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Cream Cheese Ricetini, a play on crostini (not a martini!).

It’s a little bit open-faced sandwich and a little bit pretty appetizer, so it seems special–and it is special enough for a party–but it is so quick and easy.  And it is low-fat and low-calorie but, shhh, don’t tell anyone.  Each serving is less than 200 calories!  (Ten ounces of spiralized butternut squash is only 128 calories.)

10 ounces spiralized butternut squash (spray roasting pan and squash with a little nonstick spray, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and roast for 25 minutes at 450 degrees, tossing half way through)

4 rice cakes

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds.

To make each ricetini, spread one rice cake with 2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese.  Mound 1/4 of the roasted butternut squash on top and garnish with 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds.  Serve immediately, perhaps with a small salad.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email