Monday, May 31, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

The other morning Noodle Nose asked me if I was going to bake something. I wasn't planning on it but I said sure and asked him what he wanted to make. His answer? 'chocolate chip raisin cookies'. Ok. Well, I have never made chocolate chip raisin but how hard can it be?

I didn't get any pictures of Noodle but he was so stinking cute! Whenever he 'helps' in the kitchen we have special rules :) He gets his chef costume, hat and all and I let him sit on the counter and make his own creation which usually consists of lots of flour and salt, chocolate chips and soy milk... or anything else he can get his hands on. Delicious.

So we're making cookies and I am kind of winging it, but they turned out to be crunchy and chewy and sweet... definitely addicting.


Need:
4 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer
4 Tablespoons soy milk
1 cup Earth Balance
3/4 cup sugar (I use the raw organic kind)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup while whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 to 1 cup raisins

Do:
In a small bowl, combine egg replacer and soy milk and whip with a fork until combined and frothy.

In a Kitchenaid, combine the Earth Balance, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. When mixed, add the egg replacer mix.

From there, add the flour in small batches. When almost nearly combined, add the chocolate chips and raisins. When just combined, turn off the Kitchenaid and put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Drop dough in rounds on to a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

When they're golden brown and lovely, remove and let cool on parchment paper on the counter... that's what I do. Note: when you take them off the tray, they are verrrryy soft. Do this carefully and then you can reshape, if needed, once you get them on the parchment paper; then commence eating.

Serve:
They are pretty sweet; not really a 'breakfast' thing, but they are great on their own or with Purely Decadent for dessert!


Enjoy!

Bell Pepper Bowls

Happy Memorial Day! With all the fun of the weekend I have been slow on the posts. This delicious little morsel was dinner a few nights ago. Remember the pasta made from our 'refrigerator goodies'? This one is similar; it is made up of some things from post past... and future! Goodness, I have so many meals to get up here!

Remember the mushroom pate I made as a test for the french cocktail hour? I couldn't let it go to waste.... ok, it wasn't; I have been munching on it with crackers and veggies since I made it. But it makes quite a lot so I had this fantastic idea for a new use.


This recipe is really easy and a great 'make ahead' meal that looks like you spent hours slaving in the kitchen. Guests will be impressed and your family will devour it. It would also make a great 'ladies who lunch' meal!


Need:
1 recipe mushroom pate (see post)
Two bell peppers
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, very thinly sliced (like, use a mandoline!)
Goat cheese gouda
Truffle salt
Pepper
Arugula
For the dressing:
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoos extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt
Pepper

Do:
Make your mushroom pate... so easy and nutty and filling.

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut the bell peppers vertically, de seed them and lay them on their side. Think pepper bowl vs. stuffed pepper. Scoop the mushroom pate into your pepper 'bowl'. Pack it in all around the sides and all the way to the top. Pack it down... I mean, really get a lot in there. So good.


Slice your sweet potato. You want them to be pretty darn thin. If you have a mandoline, use it. I love my mandoline. I think everyone should have a mandoline! If you don't have one and you don't want to get one... do your best to slice them thin. You're going to bake it so you don't want the sweet potatoes to be hard discs on top.

Put your first layer of sweet potato on top of your stuffed pepper bowl. Do a thin layer; the middle will over lap but just make sure the pate is covered.


On top of your first layer, sprinkle a little truffle salt and pepper, then crumble some of the goat cheese gouda. Just a little bit... don't go overboard. On top of that, start another layer of sweet potatoes. On top sprinkle truffle salt and pepper again and then more cheese. Repeat this one more time, ending with just a little cheese on top.

Put your bowls on a baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until brown and crispy on top, melty cheesey, softened bell pepper. mmmm.


While your pepper bowls are baking, make your salad dressing by combining vinegar, oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a mason jar or other shaker aparatus. Put the lid on it and shake the heck out of it... turn some music on and really go for it. You want it to be emulsified.

In a large bowl, toss arugula with salad dressing. I love arugula because you can toss it and it 'stands up' to the dressing.

Serve:
When your peppers are perfecto, get a plate and put some salad in the middle. Top with your pepper(s). If you're a girl, one will probably do. If you're a boy, you might want two. Honey can eat three if I put them on his plate.


The pate is hearty and filling, the pepper is a fun, creative 'holder', the greens are crunchy, the cheese is flavorful without being overpowering and the truffle? Oh... 'nuff said.

Enjoy!


Enjoy!

Yellow Bell Peppers

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pasta Prima with Herb Pesto

The other night was grab bag dinner night, but I didn't have some of the ingredients that I pulled so I made grab bag dinner night 'use what's in the fridge, dinner night'. Those nights are good too, right? I must say, there is something really satisfying about heading in to the kitchen with not a clue what you're going to make, pulling out 'what you have' and coming up with something extraordinary.


It really was that good. This is definitely on our list of 'must have again'. Honey has been eating the left overs for lunch and raving about it every time. It's super simple and really flavorful with the yummy herb pesto.

Need:
1/2 pkg fusilli pasta
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin strips, then 1 inch bites (think thicker than a matchstick)
1 zucchini, sliced into thin strips, then 1 inch bites
1 red onion, peeled and halved, then sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, de-seeded and stemmed, sliced into thin strips, then 1 inch bites
Olive oil
Truffle salt
2-3 cloves garlic
1 pkg cherry tomatoes
For the pesto:
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 packed Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Do:
In a pot of salted water, cook pasta al dente, then drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450.

While pasta is cooking, prepare your veg, then spread them out on a roasting tray, or trays. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with truffle salt. Put in oven and roast for about 10 minutes then turn oven off and let veg sit until you need it (in a minute).


Prepare pesto (can be done ahead of time!) by putting thyme, sage, salt, pepper, walnuts and evoo in food processor. Blend until completely smooth. It's really that easy... and the thyme is a great pesto base!


In the same pot you boiled your pasta, heat a little olive oil on med/high heat. Add smashed or chopped garlic and let cook for about a minute. Add in fresh cherry tomatoes and let cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

When tomatoes are just barely soft, turn heat down to low/med, more low and add roasted vegetables and toss. Then add pasta, by hand, stirring occassionally to make sure the pasta/veg ratio is good.


Add pesto sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Now is the time to taste this masterpiece! Add salt and pepper as you desire. Note: I had pesto sauce left over. I just popped it in the fridge for later. I say this because don't be shy in 'under-saucing'. Less is more in my book.


Serve:
On a plate or in a bowl. I put it on a plate, piled in a neat little haystack in the middle. Garnish with a dash of truffle salt, if you so desire, and devour. So good!



Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good info on 'alternative' diets

My sister-in-law forwarded me this link from passionatevegetarian.com.

http://www.passionatevegetarian.com/vegetarian_types.htm

I am posting this because people frequently ask me what my 'view' on eating is since I cook mostly vegan but I'm not a vegan.

Sometimes I use cheese in my recipes and sometimes I even cook with seafood; but the seafood is mostly reserved for when I eat at people's houses or at restaurants. I choose to do this because I am very aware and sensitive to people 'going out of their way' for me and my eating habits. In my eyes there is a limit and I would never 'expect' anyone to cook specifically for me and my personal intentions. That and I don't necessarily think that creatures of the sea have feelings like people or chickens or cows, etc... I'm just saying.

Check it out and pass it on... you could teach someone something too!

Fig, Walnut and Chevre Salad

I feel kind of bad posting this because it's ridiculously easy; nonetheless, I am going to post it because everyone should have these ingredients on hand for just this purpose: to make a simple salad that looks really fantastic.

I'm sure there are many variations of this salad out there and I'm sure they're all fantastic, but this was really really good! It's also a really simple 'make ahead and take'. We went to some friends' house this weekend and I brought this salad basically prepared but not 'put together'. When we got there it took me two minutes to toss and prep. So fantastic.



Need:
For the salad:
1 pkg arugula (I used organic girl... I think it was about 5 or 6 cups, lightly packed)
About 20 dried figs, sliced thin
About 1 1/2 cups walnuts (note: I didn't measure; also, I used the 'halves and pieces' from Joe's)
1 pkg chevre (the small package), crumbled or 'chunked' since you can't really crumble chevre
For the dressing:
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon (ish) dijon mustard (I used spicy brown)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp truffle salt
about 1/4 tsp pepper



Do:
In a mason jar, or other 'salad shaking' aparatus, combine both vinegars, mustard, olive oil, truffle salt and pepper. Cover the jar and shake the heck out of it.

If you're taking this to another destination: put sliced figs and walnuts into a ziploc bag or other carrying aparatus. Get out a handy dandy reusable shopping tote and put in it: a large plate (to serve the salad on), the arugula, still in its original container, your mason jar of dressing, your bag of figs/walnuts, bottle of wine and a hostess gift.


When you get to your destination (or if you're serving the salad at your house), pull out the plate. Get a large bowl and put the arugula in it. Note: I had to do two batches because we had so much arugula. Pour some dressing over the arugula and toss. Additional note: when it comes to dressing, less is more; I will say it again... less is more!!! Guests can always add more of their own later on, but don't make that decision for them. I find it very offensive when my salad is swimming in dressing.

Transfer the tossed arugula onto your beautiful serving plate. On top of the arugula, artfully scatter the figs and walnuts across the top. Then 'chunk' the chevre into small bits and scatter on top.

Voila, you're ready to go. The nice thing about arugula is that it's hearty enough to stand up to dressing so you can dress it fairly early (don't do it too early) and it won't wilt. Also, it keeps fairly well if you have left overs and you didn't over dress.

Serve:
Pop the beautiful plate of salad on the table with some tongs and you're ready to go. Goes great with fish, soup, tofu, bbq... you name it.


Enjoy!
Figs

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sushi 'Roll-less' Salad

I admit, I heart sushi; I heart it with all my heart strings! This past weekend I couldn't get out of the house so I decided to make a version of sushi that is much easier and user friendly. Side note: I can actually roll sushi, and I'm pretty darn good at it if I can toot my own horn for a minute. Once, many years ago, I rolled sushi for a party of almost 500 people!

Avoiding digression and back to my salad... I just thought it would be fun to take another route on the sushi roll so I made a salad. This particular version does not have any fish in it but you could very easily add your favorite!


Need:
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown rice
4 Tablespoons sushi rice vinegar (or do rice wine vinegar with about 1 Tablespoon sugar, mixed together)
2 Tablespoons tamari
1 english cucumber, sliced lengthwise in thin strips then cut on the diagonal in about 1 inch pieces
1 cup matchstick carrots
4 scallions, chopped
1 sheet nori, toasted and crumbled
About 3-4 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Do:
Preheat oven to 375.

In a pot, boil the water, Earth Balance and Salt. In a covered baking dish (or dish you can cover with tin foil) put the dry rice. When water mixture is boiling, turn off stove and pour water over rice. Stir quickly and immediately cover with lid or tin foil. Put in oven and bake for 1 hour.


Note: This is Alton Brown's way of cooking brown rice and it is truly genius! I love it! This is the only way I cook any kind of rice... thank you Alton, and p.s. I love your show!

In a small bowl, combine sushi rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar and sugar) and tamari and mix to combine. Set aside.

While rice is cooking, prepare your cucumber, carrots and scallions. Note: I bought pre 'matchsticked' carrots. You can also thinly slice your own.

On a flat pan, griddle or skillet, gently toast the nori sheet on low. I let it toast on one side for about a minute on low heat, then flipped it and did the same on the other side.

When rice is done, remove from oven, take lid or foil off and fluff with a fork. Transfer into a bowl (or use the same pan) and add the carrots and scallions. Stir together then add vinegar/tamari mix; stir again. To this mix, add the cucumber and stir again.

Crumble nori on top and lightly mix it. Note: you don't want it completely combined... the nori will give it some color contrast.

If serving family style, transfer to serving bowl and top with sesame seeds. If serving individually, transfer into individual bowls and top with sesame seeds.


Serve:
This dish would be great as a side or main dish. It is filling from the chewy brown rice and healthy with all the veggies and good carbs. It would also be great with some kind of fish incorporated, if you so choose. It's a great choice for a ladie's lunch or summertime picnic... any way you have it, it's yum!


Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We went over to our friends' house this weekend and I was in charge of bringing salad but I thought I'd whip up some cookies for dessert too. Child or adult, no one can resist a fresh homemade cookie! Instead of my good old standard chocolate chip, which I lurve with all my heartstrings, I decided to branch out and try something new. Honey's favorite thing on earth is peanut butter and chocolate; think Reese's, etc.. so I decided to go that route.

Good thing I did because they were a hit with everyone, including me! I couldn't keep myself out of the dough... and the cookies? Fuhgedaboudit. (that was for you Honey) :)



Need:
2 teaspoons egg replacer
2 Tablespoons vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated peanut butter (think the kind that you have to mix. Costco's Kirkland even has it)
1/2 cup Earth Balance 'butter'
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup nondairy chocolate chips

Do:
In a small bowl, combine egg replacer and the 2 Tablespoons soy milk and whip with a fork until mixed and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, combine both flours, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine.

In a Kitchenaid, or another bowl, cream together brown sugar, peanut butter and Earth Balance. Once combined, add the 1/2 cup soy milk, vanilla and egg replacer mixture.

I heart my Kitchenaid :)

When just combined, begin to add the flour mixture in parts and finally, just before completely mixed, add the chocolate chips.

Put dough in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375.

Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Note: I know this is a little 'un chef like' but I totally use the disposable aluminum baking sheets. I pop parchment or tin foil down and can use them over and over again. I find that although thin, the heat is amazingly even; maybe it's just my oven, but it works!

Drop chilled dough in even balls onto the parchment paper and use a fork to create the peanut butter cookie 'criss cross' on top. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

Serve:
These are great by themself; they are also fantastic with ice cream and make a great bribery item for anyone age 4 to 30. Ok, they'll work for any age, that's just specific to Noodle Nose and Honey; hey, sometimes those boys need bribery!


Enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

International Food Blogger Conference

I am so excited to say that I signed up for Foodista's International Food Blogger Conference in August! The conference will be in Seattle at Theo Chocolate... what could be better!



Things I am looking forward to:
Sur La Table goodies
Speaker Morgan Spurlock ('Super Size Me' documentary)
The art of recipe writing
Writing with all five senses
Food and wine live blogging lunch... taste, review, blog, tweet about the food and wine; fun!
Winemaker's dinner keynote speaker James Oseland, Editor in Chief of Saveur
Food blogging for specialized diets

What makes it even more fun is that my fantastic mother, from whom I have learned what I know, will be coming with me. I am looking forward to soaking up all I can from these fantastic speakers and fellow bloggers!

Mushroom Pate (vegan!)

Back in the kitchen after a little time off; the weekend. This weekend was crazy busy and crazy fun! We actually ate out one night and then had two fantastic dinners at friends' houses which was a treat in more than one way. First, it's always fun to go to someone else's house to see what they do in the kitchen and second, the food on both accounts was fantastic!

In preparation for the Aperitif French cocktail hour party that is coming up I thought I'd better 'try' my theories out before I attempt to feed it to my guests. I'll try the crepes soon too but for now it was just the pate.

This idea came from a wine tasting we did recently. Their appetizer was a trio of bites, one of them being a mushroom pate. The one I made turned out pretty good! I'm thinking for the party I will make tartlets and put it in there but for now, it's darn good on crackers and cucumber.

It is super rich and flavorful making it a hearty appetizer, especially on crackers.


Need:
Olive oil to sautee
3 cloves garlic, 'smashed' through a press or diced
About 30 to 40 crimini mushrooms, sliced (note: I bought the big package from Costco so I'm totally guessing. Also, you could use any type of mushroom you want)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 cup walnuts, chopped

oh thyme from the garden... how I love you!

Do:
In a pan, heat the olive oil and sautee the garlic for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and continue to sautee on med/high heat. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add thyme and a little salt and pepper. (You can add more later when you taste the paste... ha!) Let everything combine and cook for about 5-6 minutes until mushrooms are pretty soft but not completely mushy.


Turn off the stove and pull out the food processor.

In your food processor, put walnuts and hot mushroom mixture. Pulse and blend until mixture is completely incorporated and mashed together. Taste it now and add salt and pepper as needed.

When done, scoop it out into a refrigerator container and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


Serve:
I put it on whole wheat flat bread for lunch; I also had it on crackers and cucumber. The beautiful dark color looks great against the green of the cucumber. This spread is really versatile and flavorful. As I said before, I think I will put it in tartlets for the party... more on that.

However you serve it and whomever you enjoy it with, it's a hit even with meat eaters.

Enjoy!

Mushrooms
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