Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheezy Potato Zucchini Pie

I've been cooking a lot of quick one-offs lately, so I really wanted to sit down and create a solid dish, a meal that would provide leftovers for a couple meals.  I found myself thinking, "If only I had potatoes I could do..." - and then I realized I HAD potatoes.  Beautiful red potatoes from my CSA, and the rest is history.  Combined those with leftover red pepper scallion spread that I had used for my stuffing recipe, and a star was born.  This smelled amazing coming out of the oven, and tasted just as good.  I was blown away by how cheesy and creamy it is, and had to actually remind myself that no, I cooked it my very self and know for a fact that it's vegan.  I wish I had more to say about this one, but I just want to get it out there and share!

Cheezy potato zucchini pie

olive oil
One small red onion, diced
8 red potatoes, on the small side
2 T olive oil
1 green pepper, seeded and cubed
1 medium zucchini, cubed

1 t sea salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
2 T lemon juice
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C red pepper scallion spread

1 C frozen spinach, thawed enough to stir into mixture - optional (Can also use ripped up kale or any greens.  Will change the flavors some but will give you extra greens!)

3/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour (can use all AP if you need, but I like getting some whole grains in there instead)
1/2 C crisco
4-6 T cold water

1. If you don't already have it leftover from using for other recipes, prepare the red pepper scallion spread in advance.  The recipe prepares a solid 2+ cups of spread, so think of creative ways to use the rest!  I recommend stuffing.  Or just enjoy on veggies and crackers.  :)

2. Poke potatoes, microwave for 6 minutes to soften.

3. Preheat oven to 450.

4. Heat olive oil in skillet.  Once hot, add onions to pan and saute over medium to medium low heat.  Cube 4 of the potatoes and add to the skillet.  Saute until onions are soft and translucent and potatoes are soft, approximately 10 minutes.  Add the 2 T of olive oil and heat until mixed in.  Remove from heat.

5. While things are sautéing, cube other half of the potatoes, and add to a baking dish with the cubed green pepper and zucchini.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, making sure to keep an eye that nothing burns.  

6. Place the mixture from the skillet in a food processor.  Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and red pepper spread, and process until smooth.  Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides while processing if needed.  

7. Place the mixture from the food processor in a large bowl.  Add all of the roasted ingredients from the oven, and the spinach or other greens if using.  Stir until well combined.

8. Turn the oven down to 375.

9. In another large bowl, combine the flours and cut the crisco into the flours until reaching an even crumble consistency.  Add water as needed, slowly, until reaching a dough consistency.  Pat into a glass 9" pie pan.  (Yes, no need to grease the pan.)

10. Fill the crust with the potato mixture and smooth out so the height is even all the way around.

11. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until filling starts to brown.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in August. Thanksgiving EVERY DAY.

So I have a confession. I may have a small addiction. To carbs. I love my bready, doughycakey foods ever so much.  I can't help it; it runs in the family! There were always cookies at grandma's, and my mom can nibble at a pie crust with the best of them.  Sometimes there's no point in even baking the cookies - there's nothing better than cookie dough right?

Umm, yeah, anyways ... sorry, got distracted, I can ramble about these things for quite a while.  Where was I?  Carbs.  Right.  Along with all the desserts and breads and pastas, there's stuffing. Oh, fabulous, wonderful stuffing.  Who cares about the turkey on Thanksgiving (even before I went vegan), when I can just stuffing alllll day?  I would like to claim I never bought boxes of stuffing just to mix it up and eat as a snack, but that would be a lie.  The thing is, most of those stuffing mixes have chicken or turkey flavor in them, and aren't vegan, so I haven't done that in quite a while.  Today I discovered the answer to my love.  Yesterday I made the creamy red pepper scallion spread from a ppk post from a few months ago.  I'm not sure how well it actually works on flatbread (more on that in another post), but it has some really great flavor, and when I saw the needing-to-be-finished bag of stuffing in my cabinet, I got to thinking....  I haven't been able to successfully make great, moist, flavorful vegan stuffing - maybe this could be the key.

Success!  I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I ate this whole serving in one sitting.  But, as previously mentioned ... that's kinda what I do, and I'm just going to own it and love it.  :)  And now I get to share with you!  I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving in August as much as I do.


2 C vegan stuffing mix - some of the plain Pepperidge farm bags are pretty much just bread cubes and maybe some spices.  Check labels carefully and you will find some.
1 C water
2 T olive oil
1/2 - 2/3 C red pepper scallion spread (You will have extra - use as directed in the original recipe or have some fun, experiment!)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix all ingredients together.  Be careful to mix as little as necessary to get fully mixed; you don't want to end up with paste, but to still have cubes to stuffing.

3. Bake uncovered in a casserole dish for approximately 30-40 minutes.  Exact timing will depend on how moist / dry you want your stuffing to be, and how deep your dish is.  You can also bake covered if you don't want the crispy top that I like.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Chik'n Scallopini ... + KALE

Yes, I am continuing the love affair with kale.  (And continuing the love affair with blogging - twice in one day!!)  This was a quick toss together dinner and I have zero idea of the proportions, so ... not an official recipe.  But it was so delicious (like everything lately!), that I wanted to get it out here.  Give you an idea of what I did, and you can play with it.  Love to encourage eating more greens, and really to encourage getting creative, getting comfortable being in the kitchen and throwing things together - you can come up with great dishes if you just start.  :)

Look at those greens!

This started out with a Gardein basic frozen chik'n patty.  They won't fool an omnivore, but they are really tasty, juicy and with a great, poultry-like texture.  I know I just wrote about not using analogues all the time, but I highly recommend Gardein products when you really need a substitute.

So ... heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium heat.  When at temperature, saute the patty 2-3 minutes on each side and remove from pan.  Remove from heat while you add 2 patties of vegan butter.  Let brown briefly, then add some white wine (1/4 cup?) and lemon juice (3 T?).  Once everything has mixed together, add 3 leaves of kale, ripped into bite size pieces, and stalks removed.  Leave for about a minute or so, long enough to just slightly wilt the kale, turning from a dull green to the bright green you see above.  Add the patty back into the pan and make sure it gets coated with sauce on both sides.  Serve over noodles for a "fancy" meal.  Delish!!

Ok, maybe that kiiinda turned into a recipe.  Kinda sorta.  Let me know if you have any questions, and if you come up with anything fun in your own adventures in the kitchen.  Highly encourage you to get in and play, see what you can come up with, especially when you're just in need of a quick and easy meal.  :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crackers! Or ... I can do anything. Plus bonus product review: Rosie's Scape-A-Moli

Ok maybe it's silly, but a success in the kitchen can totally turn my mood around and make me feel like I can conquer the world.  In this case, even following someone else's recipe versus the incredible pride of making up my own.  It's been a challenging couple weeks over here, but I must be doing something right since I am blogging for the third day in a row (today with scotch in hand on this lazy rainy day), and loving everything I make.

So today's triumph?  Crackers.  Something I've been wanting to attempt for a while now, but always been scared off by thoughts of large time commitments or just the seeming impossibility, somehow, of making my own.  Don't ask.  I don't know why they seemed so hard.  But they did, and having succeeded, and succeeded in making absolutely delicious ones ... makes my day.  Top that with having perfect, local, fresh farmer's market spread to put on them....  WIN.

No recipe this time, since I followed the recipe here, but I'll add a few of my own notes.
  • These are delicious cheesy crackers (I was craving Cheez-Its!), but the pepper is noticeable, so I would go easy on it next time.  Unless I really want a cracked pepper version, in which case I would add more in order to really emphasize it.  :)  
  • I found that rolling between parchment paper was unnecessarily complicated.  Just flour a surface and your rolling pin, and you should be good to go.  Add a little extra flour if your dough is too sticky, or a little extra liquid (I needed about an extra 1/2 tablespoon) if not sticky enough.
  • Roll THIN. 1/4" is way too thick for crackers, and even 1/8" was a bit thicker than I would like.  I highly recommend poking with a fork as she tries out, to keep thinner and less puffy.  The thinner they are the more cracker-y, and the more likely to be crisp rather than still having some chewiness.  
Lastly... I snacked on them with this:

Image from the Six Circles Farm website

Rosie'e Scape-A-Moli, from Six Circles Farm.  Garlic scape pesto.  Yum.  I tasted this at the Ithaca Farmer's Market in May when I was moving my mom into her new house, and I had to take some home.  As I begin to finally unpack the boxes her moving left me with, I uncovered the jar and seem to be about to finish the whole thing in one sitting.  Or maaaaybe two.  So perfect. Wonderful reminder of the perfect bright flavors of real, whole foods, and why I love them so much.  

Have you ever made your own crackers?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  Let me know what I should try next!  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grilled Cheeze. Yup.

I'm all about whole foods at this point, and making great dishes with real ingredients rather than manufactured analogues to their non-vegan equivalents.  BUT - sometimes you get hit with a dose of nostalgia, and you just want to recreate those favorite foods of your previous life.  (Like chocolate chip cookies and pot pie. :) )  And I am totally ok with that, and making small deviations from the whole foods path where necessary to fulfill those emotional needs while still sticking to this plant-based diet I believe in.  And what could be more nostalgic than a good old grilled cheese sandwich?  I didn't think that was possible anymore, but Daiya has proved me wrong.  I haven't yet found another brand that melts as well to fulfill that gooey, melty, cheesy, feeling.  But there's a trick.  See below.  :)

Oooey, gooey, cheesy, crispy, perfection.

Perfect Grilled Cheese

2 slices hearty whole wheat bread (You can use old-fashioned white bread if you really want to get back to your childhood, but the flavors are so much richer and more perfect with something with some depth to it.)
1/3 - 1/2 C Daiya cheddar cheese, depending on the size of your bread slices - use enough so that a solid layer in the pan looks like it would more than cover one piece of bread, as it shrinks up
1-2 T vegan butter of your choice (Earth Balance coconut spread is my favorite, lending a buttery flavor and the perfect crispiness)

That's it for ingredients!  You can easily add extra fillings to fancy up your grilled cheese - tomato, kale, anything that sounds good to you, go for it!  But for just the basics, you only need those 3 items.

1. Add Daiya to a small saute pan, and turn heat to medium-low.  Stir frequently, noticing as it starts to melt.  Let it melt enough to start melding together.  (This is the trick mentioned above! Get the cheese oooey gooey and melty before adding to your sandwich.)  Remove pan from heat.  

2. Spread the melted Daiya on one piece of bread.  Add any desired fixings, and add your other piece of bread to make your sandwich.

3. Place pan back on the burner, turning up to medium heat.

4. Generously "butter" both outsides of your sandwich.  It's the butter that will give your sandwich the richness and crispness that makes for a perfect grilled cheese.

5. Add sandwich back to pan, and grill on both sides, flipping after 2-3 minutes.  Flip back again if necessary.  Grill long enough to get perfectly crispy, but be careful to check on it and not let things burn.  Unless you like that!  Like my mother.  :)

Remove from pan and enjoy!!

Note: To round out my meal, I served my grilled cheese with a side of guacamole. Weird but true, and it worked wonderfully! Glad I happened to have those ingredients around....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Potato eggplant curry

I wasn't sure how to start this post ... so I gave up and ate the leftovers instead.  And oh my god.  I had packed them up in a takeaway container that's useful as Tupperware, and eating out of that container I had a very hard time convincing myself that I wasn't *actually* eating leftover takeout Indian food!  So proud.  Especially since I have NO real idea how to cook Indian.  Or rather, I haven't learned how to cook Indian authentically, but I did a wonderful job convincing myself that I do actually know how, because man did I feel with every bite that I was back in one of my favorite restaurants here.  (Indique Heights - they have this wonderful all-vegan section of their menu. :) )  Another one that's wonderful with a glass of chilled white wine - the cool slight sweetness to counter the curry.  Perfect.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tomatillo-fingerling Pizza, with Thyme

I don't have lots to say about this one, other than YUM.  I wasn't sure how tomatillos would do as a replacement for regular tomatoes for pizza sauce, but they worked out absolutely perfectly.  The flavors blended together smoothly, and the tomatillos led to a nice subtle tanginess underneath the light freshness of the thyme.  Goes perfectly with a nice glass of chilled white wine, as you can see in the picture below.  :)  This one disappeared way too quickly....

Friday, August 3, 2012

Have your cake and eat your greens too

...cake donuts that is.  Made with kale. Yup. Kale donuts. It happened.

[Sidebar edit: For those stumbling upon this post here, come find me and this same post over on my new site: A,B,C,Vegan. Adventures will be continuing over there, and the donuts are now for sale!  Check that out, with other goodies, here. :) ]

I know you all know how much I love kale (seriously), but I don't think even I knew that I loved it enough to make it into dessert.  And then this conversation happened.  And my life changed forever.  (My friend posting and commiserating with this picture is what inspired my first comment.)  After the idea of kale donuts was placed into my head I couldn't. stop. thinking. about it.  I googled it and didn't find a single recipe, so while this scared me off a bit, it also made me want to make it happen that much more.  I had just read about making spinach ice cream the day before, so I decided it had to be doable. And taking on the totally absurd and seemingly impossible makes it just all the more satisfying when you succeed.  (Check out the Blog of Impossible Things for more on that idea!)

So I set out to make it happen, and I am damn proud of the results.  Mission. Accomplished.

Want to eat your greens but really just want to eat dessert?  Now you can.  All in one confusingly delicious package.  These are reminiscent of zucchini bread, but different.  A rich earthiness, but blended with warm spices and sweetened just right.  Oh and of course they're vegan.  Obviously.  :)  With the benefits of drinking a green smoothie for breakfast ... how about a green donut instead?  :D

If you're interested in ordering, please go to my donuts (and other goodies) page here.  I can make them with plain glaze, bourbon, lemon, sriracha, chocolate, unglazed... gluten free... thinking of making a pumpkin variety for the fall... the sky's the limit!  Let me know what you'd like, and we'll experiment with making it happen!

Kale donut. Strange but true.

Really dark picture - but look at those beautiful ingredients.  Do all those greens look like they are making dessert?? 

Alien donuts?