Vegan Asian Chex Mix

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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Vegan Black Eyed Pea Chili–For Good Luck and Great Taste!

Black Eyed Pea ChiliHappy New Year, all !

You still have time to shop for groceries and make this simple and simply delicious chili for dinner…and you’ll be glad you did.

When I was visiting my parents and sister in MS over Christmas, they were enjoying a batch of legendary chili shared with them by our longtime family friend, Anne Crumbley.

The base looked delicious–a little less “tomato-y” than some–so, though it was made with meat, I sampled just a little of the base and knew I had to have the recipe, which my mother happened to own in her impressive files.

The secret ingredient?  Picante sauce!  My secret ingredient for even more mellowness?  Tofutti cream cheese!  But, you can omit if you prefer.

Yesterday, for my New Year’s Eve post, I shared some of my black eyed pea favorites from the past, but I wanted a new black eyed pea recipe–not to mention lunch–to celebrate 2015.  Considering lots of options, from some kind of fritter to gumbo to black eyed pea sausage–all of which I still want to try–it suddenly occurred to me that I could substitute black eyed peas for Ann’s black beans.  Holy Moly!

I tweaked her recipe only slightly in order to add a bit more “umami” depth and richness since I would most certainly not be using meat, and I hope you love the results as much as I do.

Top your chili with whatever you choose.  I like sour cream and sliced scallions; but Ann also recommends Fritos.  I cannot be trusted with an open bag of those, so I never buy them.  But if you can, more (will)power to you!

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

Sea salt

2 large cloves minced garlic

12 ounces soy crumbles, tempeh, or your favorite ground “round” substitute (tempeh is typically sold in 8 ounce packages so use 1 or 2 for 8 or 16 ounces; don’t feel you need to split a package)

1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika (or chili powder; Ann’s recipe calls for the latter, but I was out of it

and I loved the smoked paprika)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked black eyed peas ( 1 used frozen, thawed, but you can substitute an approximate 15 ounce can, rinsed and drained, or beans cooked from the dried state)

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup picante sauce (I used Pace brand)

Optional but recommended: 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

Recommended toppings: vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream), sliced scallions, sliced black olives, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced jalapenos, etc.

In a large heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) or even a wok, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high.   Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.   Add garlic and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.  Add soy crumbles, smoked paprika nutritional yeast, cumin, oregano, sugar, Liquid Aminos, and pepper, and cook, breaking up crumbles, until heated through and all ingredients are well combined.  Add black eyed peas and heat through, stirring frequently.  Then add broth and picante sauce.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and reducing heat as necessary to insure that chili does not stick on the bottom.  During the last 2 minutes, melt in the vegan cream cheese.  Serve chili in mugs or bowls, topped as desired or allow guests to top their own from a toppings bar.

 

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New Year’s (Vegan) Blackeyed Peas Three Ways–A Trifecta of Flavor!

There’s nothing wrong with a big pot of–if you’ll pardon the pun–garden variety black-eyed peas, or Hoppin’ John, for that matter.  Tried and true.

But if you’re looking for something a little different to do with your blackeyed peas, making them into more of a meal, try this trifecta of flavor from The Blooming Platter, all of which elevate the humble pea to a glorious meal.

First up is a whimsical vegan take on crabcakes and tartar sauce from my Blooming Platter Cookbook, generously published by One Green Planet.  It hardly gets more festive or tasty than this.  Look at all of that red and green yumminess!:  Vegan Black-eyed Pea and Spinach Cakes with Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce.

 

Next up is a little kicked up southern comfort and colorful whole grain extravaganza including good luck and good-for-you greens: Vegan Blackeyed Pea Pilaf Over Collards with Green Tomato Salsa and Roasted Pecans.

 

Finally is another “southern” dish–southern Indian!  The title is a mouthful, so to speak, but I wanted to reference all of the ingredients that make this dish addicting:  Vegan “Southern” Indian Cilantro-Scented Cardamom-Coconut Cream Blackeyed Peas, Peppers & Spinach.

 

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Happy New Year!

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