Dinner time arrived last night before I had a plan. Suddenly, I was famished.
While Bob deep fried pita triangles–only 30 seconds at 375 degrees–I opened the fridge to discover we had 3 cobs of grilled corn and sweet chili aioli: approximately equal parts commercially prepared sweet chili sauce and vegan mayo (I use Walton Farms no-calorie mayo…so I can have deep fried pita triangles) with a little fresh lime juice. So I whipped this together in a couple of minutes.
Grilled Corn Dip with Sweet Chili Aioli
Grilled corn cut from 3 cobs
6 Tri-color cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters or sixths
2 tablespoons, thinly sliced green onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
Approximately 2 tablespoons sweet chili aioli or to taste (or 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise plus 1 tablespoon prepared sweet chili sauce and a squeeze of lime juice)
Sea salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, start together with a fork, and serve with fried pita triangles, chips, crackers, or the vegetables slices and sticks of your choice. If not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Yield: serves four as a side dish, two as a main dish
I love anything creamy, particularly if it also has a little bit of texture and layers of flavor. But I am quite a calorie counter and avid exerciser, so the wide availability of riced cauliflower and the fairly new availability in our area of Silk brand half-and-half inspired this dish. That and a powerful appetite on this Father’s Day Sunday at midday. This dish is filling, but light and bright, quick, easy, and so pretty,. Just perfection.
2 cups water, divided
1 small onion finely chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon vegetable base
1 bulb roasted garlic or two to three cloves raw garlic, minced
10 ounces riced cauliflower
Zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup Silk brand vegan unsweetened half-and-half (Ripple brand is nice too, but if you can’t find either or another brand of unsweetened vegan half and half, use coconut milk)
1/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella
2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan
Garnishes: minced parsley, slivered almonds, toasted or not, a few nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan shreds, fresh lemon slices, wedges, or more zest (in the photo, I used nutritional yeast flakes, parsley, and toasted slivered almonds)
In a large iron skillet over medium-high, bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer, add onion, and sauté/simmer until virtually all water is evaporated. Add remaining water, bouillon cube, garlic, and cauliflower, and simmer, stirring frequently, until virtually all of water is once again evaporated. Add remaining ingredients, lower heat if necessary, and stir until cheeses are melted and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve immediately topped with the garnishes of your choice.
The trick with vegan or plant-based skillet-fried cakes, fritters, and even burgers, is how to get them to hold together without a lot of breading or filler.
These rice cakes, made with leftover cooked rice, hold together beautifully with just a flax egg and cornstarch.
They are ready to devour in minutes with the topping of your choice or by themselves because they are quite tasty.
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup leftover cooked rice
1 green onion, green part only, thinly sliced or snipped with scissors
In a medium bowl, whisk together flaxseed meal and water. Set aside for just a few minutes until it thickens, whisking occasionally. Whisk in cornstarch, sea salt, and onion powder. Then stir in rice and green onion with a fork. Heat a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray over medium to medium high heat. Divide mixture into four even mounds, pressing into a disc about 1/4-inch thick. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown, adjusting heat if necessary. Serve alone or topped as desired.
Tuesday was my “day of rebirth” as my dear friend, Iona Drozda, refers to birthdays.
My partner, Bob, said he would make my birthday cake BUT it had to come from a box. He thought that would be a deal-breaker, but nope!
A little research revealed that one can transform any box mix into a moist and delicious–and very tender–vegan cake by simply adding 1.5 cups of the chilled soda of your choice!
We chose Betty Crocker yellow with 1 teaspoon vanilla and sprite because it’s lemon+lime notes sounded delicious with the lemon curd filling and creamy white frosting I was craving. The layers rose beautifully with fairly flat tops!
I recommend oiling cooling racks, as this cake is quite tender. I also recommend wrapping and freezing the layers before frosting for the same reason. Plus, it is a well-known fact that freezing cake layers makes them even more moist.
The curd was spot-on and came from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. I only tweaked a tiny bit by adding a 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Whisk and simmer together for about 5 minutes: 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soymilk), zest of 1 large lemon, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/8 teaspoon turmeric for color. (It will thicken even more as it cools.)
The creamy vanilla frosting was from a can (eek!), and Bob piped it on like a pro with very little instruction, saying it was like caulking!
The cake was perfection, though we guilded the lily with softened dairy-free vanilla ice cream.
For the 18th (!) Annual Christmas, Chanukkah, Curry, and Cakes Party & Swap for some 25 of my girl tribe, I kept the menu simple, healthful, beautiful, and delicious.
This one time buffet dinner morphed into a cocktail party-swap a few years back and then, last year, into a moveable feast and swap featuring curried pumpkin soup. Soup is self-serve from the stove, but I make it festive with a buffet of toppings. This year’s tasty accompaniments were vegan blue cheese-chutney cole slaw, quartered persimmons, and vegan sugar cookies. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine.
This year’s soup creation was superior to last and I am pleased to share it with you, as I wouldn’t change a thing.
Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup
Yield: 10 cups
1- 29 ounce can pureed pumpkin
1-15.5 ounce can lite coconut milk
1-30 gram package Jaswant’s Kitchen Chana Masala seasoning packet or the equivalent (you may prefer less–it is spicy)
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
Toppings bar: grated coconut, sliced green onions, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries or cherries, etc.
Whisk together all ingredients except toppings in a large soup pan or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Serve topped as desired.
I think I have just invented legal crack! I am a little late to the “riced” vegetable party, as I like my fried rice with, well, rice. But, this casserole has made me a believer.
My Vegan Riced Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole has it all:
The entire casserole is vibrantly healthy and only 535 calories. That means you could eat the whole thing and still be under the typical number of calories for an entire meal. Of course, you might have buzzard breath and a little abdominal gas, but that’s a small price to pay, no?
It goes together, stove top, in about 20 minutes plus 15 minutes of optional oven baking.
It is an ideal side for a host of main dishes, but you could also stuff an enchilada, spread it on toasted bread for crostini or on pizza, include it as a layer in lasagna, or serve it as a dip, just for starters.
Note: I purchased the broccoli and cauliflower already riced at Whole Foods, but you can make your own simply by pulsing chunks of both vegetables in a food processor until very finely minced.
1 tablespoons olive oil (125 calories)
4 green onions (both the white and green part), thinly sliced (20 calories)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or a scant 1 teaspoon fresh, minced
2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese, e.g. Tofutti brand (60 calories)
4 + 1 tablespoon vegan shredded Parmesan; e.g. Follow Your Heart brand (125 calories)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but I like the flavor and health benefits; they don’t call it “nutritional” for nothing) (50 calories)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I love nutmeg in creamy savory dishes, but only the fresh)
Optional (but recommended): Zest of one-half medium lemon
(Note that my new Samsung gas range cooks with a lot of power. What I used to cook at medium-high, I now cook at medium-low or low. Seriously. So, adjust accordingly. I am going to recommend “medium” as a, well, happy medium.)
Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add green onions and garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and saute, stirring, just until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add riced vegetables and saute, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and thyme. Stir well to combine and simmer for 10 minutes or until moisture is released into cooking liquid and then almost entirely evaporated. Stir in cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, optional nutritional yeast, and nutmeg, and heat until melted. Stir in optional lemon zest. At this point, you can either sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan and serve, or transfer mixture to a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan, and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
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.
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.
.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.
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.
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.