Vegan Chesapeake Bay Seafood Boil Chex Mix
Non-Vegan Mom and Teen Son Approved

I love the idea of a “seafood” boil…if it just weren’t for the seafood.

Give me a big sea salted pot of red potatoes and corn on the cob seasoned with Old Bay, steamed, drained, and dumped out onto newspaper- covered picnic tables in a sandy setting near sunset and I have would be perfectly happy.  Forget the shellfish.

And that is exactly what this iteration of my beloved global- and Americana-inspired Chex Mix evokes.  I use potato sticks–sold on the snack food aisle–as a nod in the direction of the small red potatoes and both corn nuts and Bugles to be reminiscent of corn on the cob.  But, if you can’t find corn nuts–I can find them at Whole Foods and sometimes Kroger–you can substitute more Bugles or some Corn Chex Cereal.  Oyster crackers remind me of every seafood restaurant I have ever dined in while adding texture and helping extend the mix, as do the Cheerios with their irresistible shape.  And I include pecans just because they seem so Southern, I love them, and every snack mix worth it’s, um, salt needs nuts.  Peanuts would be a less expensive and still very tasty and southern substitute.

From where, you may ask, does that kiss of the sea come?  Ah, that’s easy: roasted seaweed sheets.  I use Gimme brand sea salt or toasted sesame flavored organic sheets which I find at Whole Foods.  But a grocery store variety of Nori will work just great.  Gently crumbled and torn with your fingers, roasted seaweed is absolute perfection in this mix.  Plus, into the vegan butter base, I blend vegan tartar sauce–I use a tofu-based homemade variety, but a commercial brand would be just fine–lemon juice which I associate with seafood, and soy sauce which, for some reason, seems much more “seafoody” and less Asian in this mix.  I promise that the tartar sauce does not make the mix heavy. Quite the opposite: the end product emerges from the oven crispy and lightly toasted snack-worthy perfection.

My omnivorous friend and her seventeen year old omni son with whom I gifted it yesterday (she had agreed to let me feature her “Mom Cave” in a freelance story) thought it was outstanding and I hope you do.

Vegan Chesapeake Bay Seafood Boil Chex Mix

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan tartar sauce (purchased or homemade; mine is homemade)

Juice of 1/2 medium lemon

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (sometimes called Chesapeake Bay seasoning)

6 cups Cheerios

10 ounces oyster crackers

1/2 7.5 ounce bag Bugels

4 ounces Potato Sticks

2 cups corn nuts (or 2 additional cups Bugles or 2 cups Corn Chex Cereal)

6 ounces pecan halves

.35 ounces roasted seaweed sheets (I use Gimme brand sea salt or toasted sesame), crumbled and/or torn into coarse pieces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place vegan butter in a large roasting pan and place pan in oven for a few minutes until butter is melted. Remove pan from oven and whisk in vegan tartar sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, and Old Bay seasoning. Then, in the order listed, gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Place the pan back in the oven and bake mixture for 45 minutes, gently stirring every 15. Let cool completely and then package in airtight containers.

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Vegan Roasted Za’atar Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

If, like me, you find yourself in need of quick, no-fuss holiday gifts from your kitchen, you and your recipients will love my twist on a classic. The Middle Eastern flavor of za’atar curls up next to a hint of smoked paprika, garlic, and tamarind syrup for an intoxicating savory and slightly sweet flavor combination that is tantalizingly exotic, but not odd.

Za’atar is an aromatic Middle Eastern herb blend of earthy-lemony sumac, oregano, thyme, savory, and sesame seeds.

Package these seeds in pretty canisters or jars…or enjoy them warm right off the baking sheet.

Note: adjust spices if necessary to suit your palate.

4 cups raw pumpkin seeds (I purchased sprouted seeds at Whole Foods)

Non-stick spray

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons za’tar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tamarind syrup (sold at Middle Eastern markets)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray (so that less oil is needed).  Spread seeds out in an even layer. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with remaining ingredients except tamarind syrup, and roast for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown, stirring half-way through. Remove from oven, drizzle with tamarind syrup, stir well to distribute evenly, cool on wire rack, and package in airtight containers.

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Pringles Can Packaging–Perfect for Edible (Vegan) Gifts

Pringles Can PackagingI’m all about recycling, reusing, and reducing, so this idea of unknown origin–maybe Pinterest?–for packaging edible gifts really appealed to me.  It’s ingenious!

Not much of a Pringles fan myself, I taught a student last year with an obsession.  So, she would give me her cans when finished, which I would rinse before using, sometimes packaging food gifts inside food storage bags tucked into the cans or, in the case of cookies, just stacking them inside in a neat column.

In need of such a can this morning, I found that I had one left over which I used for the gift depicted here.  Inside the wrapped Pringles can is Vegan Asian Chex Mix for Angela Phillips, one of the best yoga instructors around.  But anything cylindrical will work, e.g. coffee cans or, what my husband and I seem to generate plenty of:  cardboard oatmeal cartons and nut tins.

Be advised that, though scrapbooking paper seems ideal, it is not tall enough for a Pringles can.  So, use wrapping paper or even a wallpaper scrap as I did here.  To wrap, simply cut the length of paper you need (be sure to measure, as it takes more than you would think), secure one edge from top to bottom with cellphone tape, wrap the paper tightly around the can (I lay it down and roll it), and secure the opposite edge top to bottom with more tape.

Then decorate any way you like.  Wrapping ribbon around the can would be the easiest, but the lids aren’t particularly attractive, so I tied a bow and then taped the ends on the underside of the lid.  The bow is snugly secured when the lid is snapped onto the can.

The gift tag I made using card stock I had on hand–heavy weight scrapbooking paper actually does work well for this–and a bird template that I had cut to make bird ornaments.  You simply trace, cut, punch a hole near the back of the neck, write your message on the reverse, and thread ribbon through to tie it on to your package.

Never again be left with only expensive “specialty store” options for edible gifts from your kitchen!

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Vegan Texas Trash–the Original Chex Mix (Veganized)

No, this isn’t a new reality T.V. show. (Ouch!)

Rather, it’s my mom’s “old school” recipe for what most folks now call “Chex Mix.” She makes it every year at Christmas and stores it in the big plastic bin that you see pictured. I have to ration myself daily or I would eat the whole thing. And I’d be in good company. I tell myself it’s healthy; after all it’s made from nuts and cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals. There is the small issue of all the (vegan) butter, but…

Nowadays, what people think is the original recipe isn’t, but it’s the only one they’ve known. If you’ve searched for Chex Mix recipes in recent years–even on the Chex website–you’ve likely turned up versions with all kinds of ingredients that weren’t in the original: cheese crackers, chocolate chips and more. I’m hardly ever dogmatic about recipes–I love iterations and permutations–but this one is an exception. I only like it the way my mama prepares it. And I hope you will too.

16 ounces Wheat Chex
12 ounces Rice Chex
10 ounces Cheerios
10 ounces pretzels (sticks are best or the small ones)
10 ounces (or a little more!) mixed nuts
10 ounces peanuts
12 ounces vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
1/4 cup Amino Acids or vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 tablespoon celery salt

Melt vegan butter in small sauce pan; stir in Amino Acids or vegan Worchestershire sauce and seasoning salts. Let stand. Meanwhile in two roasting pans, divide the nuts, cereals and pretzels. Divide vegan butter mixture between both pans, pouring over cereal and mixing lightly. Bake uncovered at 225 degrees for 2 hours stirring gently every 20 minutes. Spread out on brown paper or paper towel-lined baking sheets to cool. Store in air tight container. Will keep for a long time.

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Vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake–Beautiful for Holiday Gift-Giving

Yield: 12 servings

My annual Christmas Curry & Cakes all-girls party–an almost 10-year tradition dubbed by one of the husbands as “CC&C”–was this past Wednesday evening. Though everyone is encouraged not to bring gifts, they always do. My lovely friend Susan Kaplan presented me with the “sugarplum” in the photograph. I thought she had purchased it, not because she’s not a talented cook with great decorating taste, but because it was packaged so professionally. However, inside the card was the recipe which, of course, I couldn’t wait to share with you. Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups freshly brewed coffee
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulates sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8- or 10-inch bundt pan. Heat the coffee in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Turn heat down and whisk in the cocoa powder until it has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to bring to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, oil, applesauce, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch dissolve, about 2 minutes. Mix in the extracts. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, stir that in as well. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat until the batter is relatively smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for about 20 minutes. Then invert the pan onto a serving plate to remove the cake, and cool completely. Once the cake is cool, sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top and serve.

Source: Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero as published in Yoga Magazine via Susan Kaplan

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