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American Comfort Food

This is the first vegan brownie I’ve made that I feel can stand up to the original.  A crispy crust and fudgy middle, all achieved without any added fats!

The recipe can be found here.  My substitutions/selections/changes:

  • maple syrup (1 1/4 cup, but I bet you could use just 1 cup) instead of date syrup
  • whole wheat pastry flour instead of barley flour
  • omitted the chocolate chips
  • I also highly recommend pressing down on the cake after it cools to make it denser, as it does fluff up a bit when it’s cooked.
  • I also recommend serving this right away, because the crispy exterior gets soft after it’s stored… (this has always happened with oil-free baked goods I’ve made in the past).

Eating these kind of reminds me of what it used to be like eating ribs… messy but delicious.

This was a delicious, smoky, and spicy alternative to plain corn on the cob.  I think the only thing I will do differently next time is to grill the corn.  From tips online, I gathered that you should first soak the corn in their husks for 30 minutes to several hours.  Then you can grill the corn, still in the husks (and wrapped with foil if you are worried about burning them), for about 20 minutes on the grill and they’re done.

Since we didn’t have the time, we just boiled them.

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

(inspired by this recipe)

Shuck the cobs of corn and place in boiling water.  When the water comes back to a boil, wait a few minutes until the cobs are cooked and remove from the water.  Should take about 10 minutes.

Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well.  Add enough lime juice so that the mixture is the consistency of a rub (thicker than a marinade, but not as thick as a paste).  Spread on corn… a little goes a long way (in the picture above I actually ended up removing some of the rub because it doesn’t need much to taste delicious).

I would rate the spice level of the rub somewhere between mild-medium.  If you like a kick that doesn’t kick you over, you will like this.

Let’s just say my search for the perfect vegan grilled cheese is over.  And I will say the same for this tomato basil soup.  Although, if you’re making the soup for yourself, cut the recipe in half as it makes a lot!  The vegan grilled cheese is based off of VegNews mac and cheese sauce here. The tomato soup is a simplified and veganized version of Ina Garten’s Tomato Basil Soup here.  I have to say, I really love these two together!

I’m not sure if this is three pounds, but it worked out perfectly!

Purchased at Whole Foods… it has a lot of salt in it, so if you’re avoiding that, just use water.

I’m not someone who has cravings for potato salad… but this recipe looked interesting enough for me to try, and it is delicious!  Click here for the recipe from Cathy at StraightUpFood.com

I only used half the lemon juice, and that was plenty for me.  I also only needed the 1/2 cup soy milk, and my avocado wasn’t ripe, so I left it out.

Sprouts sells this soy milk that only has two ingredients: water and soy beans…. which I love b/c it takes away the argument behind the latest “got milk” campaign.  🙂

This was really tasty… although just like my pizza, I have to say this had one too many ingredients and less would have been more.  I think I’d save the pear for a side salad, and this sandwich would be perfect. The idea came from here, but as usual, I wanted to remove the 67% fat Daiya and 100% fat Earth Balance!  The jam does have sugar, so I probably won’t buy it again, but I do love that it has a spicy kick to it.

Ingredients:

To serve, top the toasted bread as shown above, although I suggest omitting the pear. Gently smoosh both slices together and warm on a non-stick pan for a couple minutes or in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Slice with a serrated bread knife and eat!

The “Hot Pepper Raspberry Preserves came from AJ’s Fine Foods.  The first time I tried this jam, it was served with cream cheese and crackers… wow was that good!  I think I may have to combine it with Miyoko’s Vegan Brie  and make it “en croute” for a Christmas Day appetizer.  Definitely for special occasions only.

Tempeh Bacon

(inspired by this recipe)

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp hickory liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • vegetable broth
  • 8 oz tempeh
  • sea salt (optional)*

Combine all ingredients except broth, tempeh, and salt in a 9×13 pan.  Add enough vegetable broth so that that a layer of thinly sliced tempeh can be covered (about 1/2 -3/4 inch high).  Stir with a fork to mix ingredients together.

Slice tempeh into long, thin strips with a serrated bread knife.  Aim for 1/4 of an inch thickness or smaller.  Coat each side of each slice with marinade until all strips are coated as in the picture below.  Marinate for at least an hour or overnight.

Next, gently move a slice of tempeh at a time to a non-stick frying pan.  Brown both sides over med-high heat.  It takes a little longer without oil (just a few minutes) so be patient!

*If you are eating this bacon by itself, I suggest sprinkling some sea salt on this after it is all cooked.  I sprinkled some on just before I put it in my sandwich and I don’t think I would have been able to tell if I had left it out.  

Vegan two cheese pizza: Parmesan Spread and Creamy White Cheese with broccolini, roasted corn, sun-dried tomatoes, and red onion. No Daiya, Teese, or added oils here!

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

I really wanted to make something extraordinary for Vegan Pizza Day… Generally when I make pizza, it’s on a pita, doesn’t have any cheese, and is really just a quick, easy meal for a weeknight.

So I thought I’d try out a few homemade cheeses for this one.  I have to say, it makes this pizza pretty rich and filling, and I almost think I should have made two smaller pizzas… one with the cheeses and the other with the veggies.  Less is more.

The veggie combination is inspired by California Pizza Kitchen’s Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant Pizza.  I think omitting the eggplant is the only change I made.  But seriously, these veggies don’t need cheese to be delicious… next time I will use them on their own!

Okay.  Now for the components:

The Crust

Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough.  Made with a mix of whole wheat and regular flour.  I wish it were 100% whole wheat, but hey… it’s delicious, quick, and cheap ($1.29).

The Sauce

3 ingredient pizza sauce…. does water count?

I don’t need a fancy sauce. I added about 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and water to a can of tomato paste… and really, that’s all it needed! For this pizza, the sauce is like the skinny models on the runway. They can’t be too pretty or voluptuous or they’ll distract people’s attention from the clothes. Same thing here. I just wanted the other components to shine.

Cheese # 1: Parmesan Spread

I’m not sure the name does it justice.  This stuff tastes like parmesan.  It was inspired by a bunch of recipes I found online and this one in particular that made a spread out of the sprinkle stuff.  I made mine oil-free by using cannellini beans.  These beans are awesome… they are light, creamy, and don’t have a strong flavor, so they were perfect for mixing with this parmesan.

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans (if from a can, then drained and rinsed)

First make some vegan parmesan.  My new favorite way of making it is using a cheese grater, another great tip from Cathy Fisher of StraightUpFood.com.  First, use the grater to grind the nuts.  Then, in the little barrel where the grated nuts are, mix in the nutritional yeast and salt.  This is one recipe where I would not leave out the salt… parmesan is a particularly salty food, so without it, I just don’t think it tastes right.

This grater is great because it has a little adjustable window. You can reduce the window to a crevice and it’s perfect for sprinkling parmesan at the table!

You can mix this up in a blender just as easily. Just make sure you get the nuts chopped up pretty fine. Blend parmesan and cannellini beans in a blender with 1/4 cup water. If the mixture is not moving, continue to add 1 Tbsp of water at a time, scraping down the sides of the blender, until you get a consistency a bit thicker than a hummus but not as thick as a paste.

Since this spread has a pretty strong flavor, I decided not to put a whole layer of it on top of the pizza sauce. I opted instead for these circles:

Cheese Sauce #2: Creamy White Sauce

This sauce is so creamy and based on my go-to mac and cheese sauce.

Chop the following veggies and steam in a steamer basket in a covered saucepan or pot (filled with about 1-2 inches of water) on med-high heat, until veggies are soft.

  • 1 cup yukon potatoes (if using russet, you will need to peel)
  • 1/3 cup red onion
  • 2 Tbsp shallots or more onion

While the veggies are steaming, blend in your blender:

  • – 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • – 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • – 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • – 1/8 tsp or a few drops of yellow mustard
  • – a few cloves garlic (depending on personal preference)
  • – 1 Tbsp lemon juice

When steamed veggies are soft, add to blender and process.  If mixture isn’t moving/gets stuck, then add 1 Tbsp of water at a time till mixture gets going.  The goal is to add as little water as possible so you aren’t pouring soup on your pizza!

The Veggie Toppings

Under the Creamy white Cheese:

  • broccolini / broccoli raab / baby broccoli, lightly steamed
On top:
  • Trader Joe’s roasted corn (or you can roast your own kernels on a non-stick frying pan)
  •  red onions, chopped
  • sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted a bit

I put most of the veggies underneath the cheese and they kind of got lost, so that’s why I recommend putting most of them on top.

I made this delicious chili a few days ago and man does it go far!  This quinoa cornbread goes amazing with it… it’s moist, savory, and and the quinoa gives it a bit of a nutty flavor that’s really nice.  Both recipes are from Cathy Fisher at StraightUpFood.com.

Both of these recipes are gluten-, oil-, sugar-, and salt-FREE!

A couple modifications and tips:

For the cornbread (click here for recipe)

  • Don’t use the banana unless you want to taste it in your bread.  I subbed out 1/2 cup applesauce (one of those little containers) for the banana and it worked perfectly.
  • I also left out the cinnamon, because I thought that was weird for cornbread.
  • If you want a sweeter cornbread, you are either going to have to add a few more dates to your soaking liquid (discard any additional liquid you use to soak) or use sugar.
  • Use a coffee grinder to grind your whole flaxseeds, oats, and cornmeal.  I just bought this one recently, and I LOVE it!  I put it next to my 13-inch macbook so you could see how compact it is.  Click the photo for an amazon link to purchase it. 

For the chili (click here for the recipe):

  • Use Pomì Tomatoes (pictured above and can be purchased here in bulk on amazon, or in Arizona at Sprouts or Whole Foods).  Then you don’t have to worry about what’s leeching from the cans.
  • Don’t leave out the celery.  In her cooking demonstration at True North, Cathy said that celery gives the impression of saltiness… and it really does work in this chili.  I ALWAYS miss salt when they are left out of soups and stews, but I don’t miss it here.
  • If you like your chili spicy, then add come chipotle chili powder and some cayenne.  I also doubled all the spices she listed.
  • I heard this great tip about beans that I haven’t tried yet… If you want to avoid canned beans, but don’t want to be soaking and cooking dried beans every week, cook them in larger batches, then store in plastic sandwich bags or small jars in 1 1/2 cup portions in the freezer.  Most canned beans equal about 1 1/2 cups, so if a recipe calls for canned beans, you just pull out a bag or jar from the freezer!  I’m so doing this.