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 (Outrageous!) Loaded Tater Tot Chex Mix
without the Chex

I guess you could call this “hunker down” food, as I seem to get a powerful urge to get my Chex on when temperatures drop and snow is in the forecast.  With snow predicted to start falling yesterday at around 4 p.m. and an early release from the high school where I teach art, I found myself in Whole Foods and Kroger buying “necessities.”

A few years back, I went on a Chex bender creating half a dozen or more delicious flavors, some with actual Chex cereal and some just inspired by that original Chex Mix recipe that my Texan mother always referred to as “Texas Trash.”  (You can find them all here–Tex-Mex, Indian, Thai, Italian, and more–just search “Chex mix.”)

That same craving was starting to play around the corners of my mind and belly again but, honestly, I have created so many of these recipes that there didn’t seem to be much uncharted territory left in the savory world that is.  Sweet Chex Mix just doesn’t do it for me, though I might create a Moroccan flavored one with dried apricots.  Stay tuned.

This cold weather–okay, pretty much any weather–ignites my appetite for Tater Tots: that crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside-ever-so-slightly-greasy goodness.  And, recently, on the Whole Foods “hot bar,” they were serving “Loaded Tater Tots,” which, of course, I couldn’t eat, as they were piled with bacon, cheddar cheese, and sour cream, along with fresh, bright green onions. But I could certainly fantasize; and, in the process, I realized I could easily translate all of those flavors to a Chex-less Mix.

The tots themselves became Potato Sticks (sold on most snack aisles) and fried onions in a can (you know, the kind used for green bean casserole topping) to capture the crispy fried goodness of the Tot exterior while also imparting the onion flavor.  The bacon became smoked almonds–and I threw in lots of pecan halves just because I love them–and the cheese Earth Balance Cheddar Flavored Squares.  (Here in Virginia, I find them at Whole Foods, where the cashier and I had a conversation about what a dead-ringer they are for Cheez-Its.)   To lend the tanginess of sour cream, I actually whisked some vegan sour cream into the melted vegan butter base.  It does not make the mix soggy–far from it.   And, finally, I included Cheerios because they are neutral in flavor, a cute shape, deliciously crunchy, extend the volume of the mix, and are one of my favorite ingredients in the original Chex Mix.

So, there you have it.  This ain’t no vegan health food, so don’t even start, but for the occasional splurge or gift from your kitchen?  Oh yea!  However, having second thoughts about being snowed in with all of this high-calorie goodness, I decided to gift it to neighbors.  After I walked the dogs late in the afternoon as the beautiful snow began to come down, I went for my own walk.  Before I set out into the deepening snow, I tucked a late gift for one of our dog walkers and a huge canister of mix into one plastic bag and a casserole dish that I needed to return to someone else filled with the rest of the mix into its own snow-proof bag.

I love bundling up and experiencing the world when it is hushed and still, wrapped ’round with a frozen white cloak.  It was even more satisfying for my muffled footsteps to be taking me on a solo mission that would bring a little tasty joy into the cozy homes of friends at opposite ends of our neighborhood.

Vegan Loaded Tater Tot Chex Mix

1/2 cup vegan butter
4 tablespoons vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon garlic powder
12 ounces pecan halves
6 ounces smoked almonds
6 cups Cheerios
6 ounces Earth Balance vegan cheddar flavor squares
4 ounces Potato Sticks
6 ounces fried onions in a can

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 sour cream, Liquid Aminos, and garlic powder. 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 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.

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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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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.

 

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Vegan Buffalo Chex Mix
Perhaps the Richest Yet

I guess I need to stop calling these creations of late Chex Mix because many of them contain no Chex. Still, they are in the spirit of Chex Mix and you could certainly substitute some Chex Cereal, say the corn variety, for Bugles if the recipe calls for that childhood favorite, as this one does.

I have experimented with this recipe three times. The first time, which was delicious, I made it with a prepared dried Buffalo mix.  I had bought two packages, so I made it again because I couldn’t remember exactly the proportions I had used the first time.  That second time, I made it with slightly sweet Cheerios thinking that I could substitute those for the maple syrup. It wasn’t nearly as good, so I scratch that.

The third time, yesterday, preparing a batch for Bob’s and his business partner’s Easter baskets, I reached in the cabinet for the last package of Buffalo mix forgetting that I had purchased two and had already made the recipe twice. Not wanting to return to the grocery store after a 13 mile hike(!), I had to make up my own spice and vinegar mixture and I loved it even more. I hope you do.

For the liquid part of the mix, I used vegan butter because butter is very much a part of Buffalo sauce for wings. I also used vegan mayonnaise to create the tangy flavor of the blue cheese sauce into which many wings are dipped.

The vinegar, Liquid Aminos (Worcherstershire in typical Buffalo sauce), and hot sauce are also part of standard Buffalo wing sauce mixtures. And since the wings are often served with celery, I added some celery salt.

While it is true that most wing sauce recipes don’t call for paprika, I added some for color. And, because many wings are grilled and have a bit of a smoky flavor, I chose the smoky variety of paprika.

The maple syrup was to balance the mayonnaise and vinegar and I think it is perfect even though it is not part of a traditional Buffalo wing sauce recipe.

The same goes for all of the cereal and crunchy snacks.  They really aren’t found in wing recipes of course, but the Crispy Onions and Potato Sticks reminded me of onion rings and french fries such as you might find in a restaurant that would serve wings. The pretzels seem like bar food and, likewise, the Bugles reminded me of corn nuts which I associate with bar food.

The pecan halves are included because all snack mixes need nuts, I love them, and pecans seem particularly appropriate, even though I associate them with southern food & Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo New York.  Go figure.

The Cheerios, in my mind, just have to be part of the mix because of their neutral flavor and the way they absorb all of the other flavors, not to mention their cute little shape.

So there you have it, the rationale for this deliciousness. Enjoy.

1/2 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Frank’s RedHot, Sriracha (my choice) or your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cups Crispy Onions (sold in cartons or cans, often near the green beans because they are so often used to top green bean casserole)

3 cups Bugles

3 cups Pecan halves
3 cups Potato Sticks
3 cups Pretzel Sticks
4 cups Cheerios (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut butter into chunks, place in a large roasting pan, and place in oven to melt. Remove pan from oven and whisk in all remaining wet ingredients and spices. Then stir in the remaining ingredients one at a time in order. Place roasting pan in oven and roast for one hour, stirring well after every 15 minutes. Cool and store in airtight containers.

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Vegan Red Curry Popcorn with Cashews and Cabbage
(I know this sounds a bit odd,
but it is outrageously declicious)

Yield: 2 servings.

This recipe defies both description and categorization; hence, I didn’t know whether to tag it as a vegetable side dish, snack, slaw, or ???  I suppose it could even be a main dish.

But, no matter.  Whatever you call it or whenever you eat it–I was starved, so I invented it on the fly and devoured it for “brunch” today, as I am home on Spring Break with a bit more time to experiment–you will love it, odd as it sounds.

Be sure to serve it in a pretty Asian bowl with chopsticks to make a mouthwatering presentation that is as fun to eat as it is pretty.

1 tablespoon vegan butter

3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (you could use mayo or the thick part of coconut milk that separates in the can, but I wanted less calories)

1/4 teaspoon prepared Thai Red Curry Paste (feel free to add a bit more if you desire a more pronounced flavor and more heat)

1-2 tablesoon vegan fish sauce (sold as vegetarian in Asian markets), lime juice or half of each

6 cups popped kettle corn (slightly sweet and salty)

1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage (I buy it shredded in the bag; the type with some shredded carrot mixed in would be delicious too)

1/4 cup lightly roasted and salted cashew halves or peanuts + a couple for garnish

1 tablespoon pinched fresh cilantro leaves (feel free to chop but I was to impatient) + 2 sprigs for garnish

In a medium-large bowl, melt butter with sour cream in microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.whisk in curry paste and fish sauce.  Fold in remaining ingredients, except garnishes.  Pile into two small Asian-style bowls, garnish with cilantro sprigs and cashew halves, and serve immediately with chopsticks so that popcorn doesn’t become soggy.

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Vegan Chesapeake Bay Chex Mix

 

 

 

 

 

This Chex Mix contains no Chex…details, details.  Here’s why.

I wanted to create an “Old Bay” flavored snack mix with hints of a crab boil–ick, sorry–like corn and potatoes. So here is my thinking on ingredients: upon learning yesterday that original Bugles are vegan–yes!–I decided to use them in place of Corn Chex. Potato sticks and oyster crackers were no brainers.  As for the Cheerios and pretzels, well, I love them in traditional Chex Mix for their shapes, textures, and flavors. Peanuts and pecans were my choices of nuts becsuse they are just so darn southern.

My stroke of genius–if I do say so–was the vegan mayo and pickle juice whisked into the butter mixture.  I LOVE (vegan) tartar sauce and these ingredients lend just the right flavor notes.

I gave away all of this mix as gifts…but writing this post is making my mouth water and I wish I had just a tiny bit to satisfy my craving.

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

2 tablespoons sweet or dill pickle juice

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or vegan Worchestershire Sauce

2 tablespoons Chesapeake Bay Seasoning (or Old Bay Seasoning)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

6 cups Cheerios

2 cups original Bugles

2 cups potato sticks

2 cups pretzel sticks

2 cups oyster crackers

1 cup lightly salted and roasted peanuts

1 cup lightly salted and roasted pecsn halves and pieces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Place butter in large roasting pan, slide pan in oven, allow butter to melt, and remove pan from oven. Whisk in mayo, lemon juice, pickle juice, Liquid Aminos, and spices. Then stir in remaining ingredients, in order, coating evenly with butter mixture. Roast for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes, remove from oven, cool completely,  and store in airtight containers.
Continue reading “Vegan Chesapeake Bay Chex Mix”

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Vegan Greek Chex Mix

It’s official. I am obsessed. This is my 6th or 7th version of Chex Mix this year, each one–if I do say so–a flavor sensation.

Picking a favorite is akin to picking a favorite puppy.   So, my favorite is whichever is in front of me.

This iteration was inspired by Juan Gelpi’s vegan gyros. I could not get those flavors out of my mind after seeing his Instagram photo, even during Saturday morning yoga. I was mindful alright. Mindful that I was stopping at Whole Foods on the way home and procuring ingredients. (That is where I find vegan tapenades.)

Admittedly, this Chex Mix contains no Chex. That wasn’t my intention; it just didn’t seem to need more crunch. Or more anything. It is lemony, garlicky, nutty, Greek perfection. Hope you agree.

I made this for one of my late husband’s paralegals’ birthday with the surplus going to others at the firm. I had to get it out of the house quickly…before I consumed it all.

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup olive oil

Zest of one large lemon

1/4 cup (generous) vegan artichoke and garlic tapenade or something similar ( I used Seggiano brand)

1/4 cup (generous) vegan olive bruschetta or the like (I used Delallo brand)

2 tablespoons Greek (or Italian) seasoning (dried oregano and rosemary are key ingredients)

2 tablespoons Za’tar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Sea salt to taste

8.6 ounces Cheerios (I used Canadian Farms organic Purely Os)

8 ounces pretzels

9 ounces pita chips

7 ounces walnut halves and pieces

9 ounces shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place butter in large roasting pan, slide into oven, and allow µbutter to melt. Remove and whisk in lemon zest, tapenade, bruschetta, and all spices.  Stir in remaining ingredients, one at a time until evenly coated. Roast mixture for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, and package in airtight containers.

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