Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegan Cupcakes

Or 'The Perfect Cupcake', as I have ever so rightly dubbed them.

I realize that my last few posts have been sweets. I do have some fantastic meals ready for post but I wanted to get this one up in case someone you know is having a birthday and you want to make some fantastic cupcakes for them :)

This weekend was Noodle Nose's 5th birthday party. His actual birthday is on February 2nd but we celebrated early. I still can't believe my little Noodle is going to be five in just a couple days... wow.

So for his birthday, instead of buying one of those nasty, nauseatingly sweet and pumped full of who knows what birthday cakes, I made him cupcakes. Perfect for a gaggle of five year olds to eat, relatively messless and 100 percent delicious.

For Christmas, Noodle got me Alicia Silverstone 's book, The Kind Diet. I have been wanting it for a while so I was super excited to get into it. These cupcakes are from Alicia's book. She calls them 'My Favorite Cupcake' and I can see why it is... no refined sugar, light, flavorful and very simple to make. I did change a few small things, as per usual.

I'm keeping this post short because of the searing migraine that I have had for the last few days. It has subsided just enough for me to stare at the computer for a minute but it will be back, I'm sure.


Adapted from Alicia Silverstone's 'My Favorite Cupcakes' in The Kind Diet.
Yield about 12 cupcakes

Need:
2/3 cups soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup safflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch fine sea salt

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (4 oz) Earth Balance
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup soy milk powder (note: I did not add the soy milk powder to my frosting and it turned out just fine. I will add it next time though, to thicken it up a bit)

Do:
Preheat oven to 325 and line muffin tin with liners

In a medium bowl, combine milk and vinegar, stir and set aside.

In a Kitchenaid or other bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine.

After your milk/vinegar mixture has set for a while it should bubble. At that point add agave nectar, oil and vanilla and stir together.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined and no lumps remain.

Pour batter about 1/2 to 3/4 way full in each tin. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove and let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
Use a mixer to cream butter and agave nectar. When smooth, add vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Continue mixing until smooth then add the soy milk powder and beat on high until fluffy.

Scoop frosting into a ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour to give it time to set up.

To frost your cupcakes:
Remove frosting from refrigerator and cut a small hole in one of the edges of the ziploc bag. Start in the middle of your cupcake and pipe the frosting around the top. Repeat for all cupcakes.

Serve:
Noodle Nose is obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so I decorated with TMNT rings, a few sprinkles and adorable little 'A's... Decorate as you choose :)

Thanks Alicia, for a super great and very simple cupcake recipe... they are also my favorite now too!


Enjoy!

Vanilla Extract

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vegan Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins


I came home from boot camp yesterday morning and felt all energized and domestical so I decided I should definitely make muffins. That and I had four bananas that were five seconds from being tossed into the stinky pit also known as the garbage can. And I hate doing that.

Editor's note: beginning this delicious blog with a sentence that includes the term 'stinky pit' might not have been the greatest idea.

Those bananas were oh so thankful and they proved it in these muffins. The whole house smelled delicious and I just couldn't help it... I may or may not have eaten three of them. In a row. Hunched over the kitchen sink like a guilty dieter (because technically I am).

And I got caught. Honey walked in with a look of astonishment and rolled his eyes as I weakly tried to explain that I had to 'test' them before allowing other people to eat them. Makes sense, yes?


The bananas were in perfect quantity compared to the rich flavor and contrasting crunch of the pecans. That partnered with the buttery flavor and unique texture of the coconut? Winner!

This recipe was adapted from the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe out of my favorite vegan baking book: The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goodreau. Colleen, queen of vegan baking, provided a great template and I made quite a few changes from there!


Yield: 19 muffins

Need:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (preferrably raw)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 ripe bananas mashed
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole pecans and/or pecan pieces
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with muffin/cupcake liners. You can also spray the pan if you don't have liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir and set aside.

In a larger bowl, mix sugar and oil together. To that, add your mashed bananas. Note: I didn't want to dirty another bowl so I peeled each banana and squished them individually with my clean hands right into the bowl. This 'technique' makes for a chunkier banana consistency, which I like for a breakfast muffin. If you do not like that, mash the bananas in a separate bowl then add to the sugar/oil mixture.

To your wet mix also add soy milk and vanilla, stirring so everything is thoroughly combined.

Add flour mixture to to wet mixture and stir lightly, then add pecans and coconut. Stir until everything is just combined. Note: the batter will be fairly thick.

Spoon batter into muffin tins about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until muffins are golden brown on top.

Serve:
These are fantastic for breakfast, served alongside a lovely fruit assortment and coffee. They would also be an impressive addition to brunch or a playdate. To get really wild, serve them for dessert alongside some Soy Delicious coconut vanilla ice cream.


Enjoy!

Muffin Pan on Foodista

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Zesty Tomato Pepper Soup - A Pell Yeah! Guest Post!


Today I am very excited to introduce a new guest blogger! After I twisted her virtual arm and e-stalked her through every avenue I could think of, Miss Lindsey, aka mommy blogger extrordinaire over at Pell Yeah! is taking over the wheel today.

Alright, that's a stretch since we were both super excited about this little venture. Miss Lindsey and I have known each other since our five-year-olds were just a few months old. We spent a lot of quality time together in our self made 'new mom' group. Since then she has not only moved out of town but moved town to town with her sweet family. She's a trooper moving that much!

She is a wonderful mother, hilarious blogger and great cook. I hope you enjoy her recipe... I know I'm making it soon, for sure! And do head on over to her blog. Not only is it a great read, she takes awesome pictures!

___________________________________________________

 
I was super excited when La Pure Mama asked me to do a guest post on her blog. I used to be a just-get-it-on-the-table kind of cook. Now I’m realizing how fun and challenging cooking pure, healthy meals can be. I’ve always loved baking, but my creative juices are newly flowing in the area of cooking. So a big thanks goes out to lapuremama for giving me inspiration and practical ways to do this.

This, being my very first guest post AND my first foodie post, was a nerve wracking process. I’m totally fine unabashedly bragging about how cool my husband and boys are and airing out all my dirty laundry on my Mommy Blog. But coming up with a title for my latest soup creation? That’s pressure, people.

My first attempt was A Nightshade Lover’s Spicy Bisque-Like Salsa-Like Soup. Obviously, that one got virtually crumpled and thrown on the floor. The next few titles followed the same suit. I settled for a boring, yet accurately descriptive name. Despite the dull nature of its name, this souper creation is packed with a tangy punch.

So this soup is my latest obsession and I’m pretty sure it will become yours. I’m trying to figure out how many times it’s appropriate to incorporate it into our meal calendar without inducing overkill. I’m also pretty proud of the fact that my veggie-resistant husband raves about it. He asked if I could make this AT LEAST once a week. Score!


4-6 large heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and quartered
2 tomatillos, halved
1 red onion, quartered
1 green Anaheim pepper
6 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Raw sugar
½ bunch of cilantro
3 limes, zested and juiced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the prepared veggies in a roasting pan. Generously drizzle EVOO over the veggies, and then sprinkle sea salt and raw sugar over them. Go light on the sugar. The veggies are already sweet but a little sugar boosts their flavor. Roast in the oven for an hour.


Put cilantro, lime zest and lime juice in your blender. Carefully scoop roasted veggies into the blender. Make sure all the olive oil and juices are put into the blender as well. You may have to do a couple batches depending on the size of your blender. Blend on the highest setting for a few minutes until the texture is fairly smooth.


Empty the contents of the blender into your crock-pot. If you want a smoother texture you can pour it through a strainer, but I love the bisque-y texture AND I want to make sure I eat every part of the veggies. Stir in as much water as you want in order to get the consistency you like. I poured in about a cup of water and swished it around in my blender so I wouldn’t waste any part of the veg-goodness. Let it simmer in your crock-pot for several hours.
I like to do all the prep work during nap time (yes, my 3 and 5 year old still nap and I’m hanging onto this for dear life) then our dinner is ready whenever we are, even the moment we step in the house after soccer practice. Realistically, you could do all the prep work, roasting and blending the night before, stash it in the fridge overnight, then cook it on low all the next day. If you want to do it all in one shot, you can skip the crock-pot all together, and just bring the soup mixture to a boil and then simmer for around 10 minutes before serving.

Not only is the prep work versatile, you can also add your favorite protein to the soup to round it out into a one-bowl-meal. Since this is a vegan blog, I won’t mention the protein we use in this soup, but you can also add some cooked brown rice and black beans. Some optional garnishes are fresh cilantro and/or crispy tortilla strips. But really, this soup is great even when it stands alone.
Enjoy!

Spanish Onion

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Oh yes, you heard it right. And. They. Are. Amazing.


While randomly 'conversating' with my good friend Google about black beans, I saw a random blurb about brownies. Something blah blah black bean brownies. What? So I tracked my way back to where I had witnessed this brownie unicorn, as I like to call it, and low and be-darn-hold there it was. Like a rainbow with a real pot o' gold and non-scary leprechaun dancing around.

Now, the first page I found the brownies on were regular egg filled brownies. Simple enough, sure... baking with chicken ovum is a no brainer. But can it be veganized? Well, yes! I was going to go off on my own on this one but then I found the No Meat Athlete and I thought 'why reinvent the wheel?' Well, I did make some small changes... just a bit. Side note... the No Meat Athlete? Awesome site... definitely check it out!


These brownies are high in protein, from the beans, dense like fudge and beautifully decadent to look at and eat.

You can't taste the black beans at all but you will definitely feel better eating bthem knowing you're getting your protein at the same time. Honey was astounded when I told him they contained black beans. They are also super easy to make so go, make them. Impress your friends.


Need:
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed, returned to can and filled with fresh water
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/4 cups raw sugar
1 1/4 cups dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
About 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (maybe a little more)

Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 9x13 baking pan with a bit of Earth Balance or vegetable oil.

Open beans and do the rinse then return to can and refill with water. Pour all that into a blender, along with the additional cup of water. Blend until completely liquefied.

In a Kitchenaid or bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, mace, cinnamon and cayenne, if you're adding it. Mix to ensure everything is well combined.

With the Kitchenaid on low, add black bean puree and vanilla to dry ingredients.

To that add walnut pieces and chocolate chips. Mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan 1/2 way through. You will know they are done when the edges are crusty and just pulling away from the pan.

Definitely do not overbake... they will continue to cook outside the oven. Also, the consistency is very fudge-like so definitely pull them out, even if the middle seems soft. I thought it seemed soft but they turned out perfect!

Serve:
They are literally like fudge, so the pan will go far. Share with friends. Serve by themselves, topped with a little cherry reduction sauce or alongside a scoop of Soy Delicious ice cream. You can't go wrong.

Enjoy!

Black Bean

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Southwestern Salad

It's not summer but I feel like the 'Salads of Summer' section of La Pure Mama is as neglected as a red headed step child, and it's one of my favorite sections so I bring you a salad. In the middle of winter.

I find myself severly lacking in the fresh fiber department lately so I have been making a conscious effort to make it a pre-requisite for our meals. Fresh fiber first; that's what Dr. Chestnut says and Dr. Chestnut is not only really really ridiculously good looking, he is also a very healthy (or 'normal' as he would say) and intelligent man.

This delicious little jewel of a salad came about rather randomly, as most of my dishes do. We were headed to a dinner get together last week and my charge was salad. And wine...

Of course, originally I was going to make an actual green salad just like the one Miss Victoria brought over for dinner with the Peens a while back; man that was a good salad. But as I got started, it morphed into a cool 2011 version of a classic coleslaw. Only better. And way more interesting. And much healthier. And funner!


Our dear friends were making empanadas so I conjured up some southwestern inspiration and threw together this simple, yet fun and colorful dish bursting with fresh vegetables, black beans, roasted corn and a tangy cumin garlic dressing. Serve it with homemade tortillas if you like, because they make awesome 'scoopers'.

Need:
For the dressing:

1/4 cup, plus a little more extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup, plus a little more apple cider vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced fine
1 Tablespoon cumin (add more or less depending on your taste... I love cumin)
pinch red pepper flakes (add more or less depending or your spice habit)
pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

For the salad:
1/2 red onion, diced
2-3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
3/4 english cucumber, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bag shredded cabbage
1 to 1 1/2 cups roasted corn (you can roast yourself or get the frozen roasted corn from Joe's and defrost it)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Optional add ons:
Queso fresco (I added it to the non-vegan's salad)
1 batch fresh homemade tortillas

Do:
In a shakeable jar, aka mason jar, old olive jar, etc... combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Seal jar and shake really well. Let the dressing sit for a few minutes then shake again. Repeat this process while you chop your veg/prepare the rest of the salad. The longer you let the flavors marry, the happier you will be with the dressing.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine onion, tomato, cucumber, cilantro, cabbage, corn and black beans. Stir gently to combine. Don't smash the beans.

If you are going to serve this right away, go ahead and dress it; if not, take it with you or set aside until you are ready to serve. We traveled with our salad so I brought everything with me and dressed it 8-10 minutes before we were going to eat. This salad is hearty enough that you can dress it a little early without fear of wilting.

Serve:
If you are going to use queso fresco, top salad (or individual portions) with crumbled queso fresco. Serve homemade tortillas on the side for easy scooping.

This salad goes perfectly with empanadas, tacos, etc.. It would also be a great filler for tofu tacos or the like. The tang of the cumin dressing is the perfect partner to the crunch of the cabbage, fresh flavor of the vegetables, sweetness of the roasted corn and heartiness of the black beans.



Enjoy!

Black Bean

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Have You Noticed Foodielicio.us?

Before we get on to our regularly scheduled programming... and boy do I have some programming for you, I wanted to take a moment to point out the (fairly) new and ever changing content beneath each of my posts. Go ahead... take a look.... I bet you want to :)

Foodielicio.us focuses on food and lifestyle. The 'food engineers', as they have have ever so rightly dubbed themselves, have created a fantastic widget that analyzes each post for cuisine, restaurants, themes, products, stores, etc... then they match that content with your general location (general is great because we all know readership location can vary) and come up with specified advertisements, deals, etc.. that match your content.

The fantastic team at Foodielicio.us contacted me a while back about trying out their fantastic widget. After learning more about it I knew I definitely wanted to give it a try. And it's been great; for both me and my readers.

Also, the team at Foodielicio.us is just great. They are very friendly and prompt in answering emails. It is definitely nice to work with a team that responds to you quickly with the answer you are looking for.

So what's the bottom line?

I have had a great response from my readers about the customized deals and information they find on the Foodielicio.us widget. Best of all... they are customized based on my content, which means it will be of interest to those that read La Pure Mama vs. some random advertisement for an all you can eat beef restaurant (hello, no!)

For me, having the ability to offer yet another helpful avenue of information, etc. to my readers is what is most important.

My goal with this blog has always been to provide a place of 'reference', if you will. Somewhere people can go to learn about cooking simply and deliciously. If I can offer one more way to make it easier for people to do that, why not?

And...

Well, it's free and very simple to install which means no added work for me and I get paid for hosting the advertisements!

That being said, I am not being paid by Foodielicio.us to write this little blurb. I am doing it because I like their service, enjoy their team and have had a positive response from readers and bloggers alike.

It's like nothing else that is out there and I am happy to get the word out there that it is there and definitely benefits you in many ways, whether you are a reader or blogger, or both!

If you have any questions about it you can email the team; click this link and then the 'contact us' button at the top right. As I said, the staff is super helpful and very prompt. You can also email me at lapuremama@gmail.com, even if you just want to say hi!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Breakfast Sandwiches from Vegan Yum Yum

I failed miserably in my plan to post whilst in Vegas. What was I thinking? I'll tell you what I was thinking: I was thinking I'd have some spare time to write while Honey was in class. I was wrong. Partially.

I had spare time but I filled it with other things like a little shopping, a little drinking, a lot of eating, a dash of gambling... you get the point; I filled my time with everything but writing.

Now that I'm back though, I wanted to share this delicious post with you. It can be considered a review, of sorts, since the recipe came from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.

The Vegan Yum Yum cookbook... one of my favorites, indeed. Lauren Ulm, the author has created some fantastic and fun recipes. And the pictures in the book are straight amazing. Her blog, http://www.veganyumyum.com/ is also lovely and chock full of recipes, some of which are also in the cookbook.

So I ordered the cookbook and of course immediately began tagging the pages that intrigued me. This is one of them. We don't do a lot of 'breakfast', persay, in our house but these little breakfast sandwiches were too fun to pass up.


The biscuits were lovely, light and fluffy; a perfect compliment to the 'meat' of the sandwich. They were also quite simple to make. The maple soy tofu's perfect combination of salty and sweet was the perfect 'fake meat' addition.

On that note I will say this: the tofu 'eggs' are not for the faint of heart. Although delicious, boasting a nutty, earthy flavor, they are a pain in the (pardon my french) ass to make. The cookbook doesn't warn you that preparation of these 'eggs' will most likely lead to a fair amount of cursing, frustration and wasted tofu. And I'm pretty patient in the kitchen. Also, they take a long time to cook so the timing was off, we were all starving and I was drenched in fake egg mixgture. I ended up making one small batch and gave up after that.

Now, that's not to say that you shouldn't try them, because as a whole the sammies are delicious. Yum to the maple soy tofu, the biscuits are fluffy and versatile and if you can get the 'eggs' down right, you sure will impress some people with your fake eggs.

Also? I think the sandwich needs some green: avocado, sprouts, lettuce, anything. Green for the color and green for the crunch. So when you make them, get creative and add some color.

In the end, I did end up changing a few things here and there but all in all, I'd make them again but I sure would be a heck of a lot wiser going into that 'egg' process.

Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum, By Lauren Ulm
Yield: 12 biscuits, 8 sandwiches (biscuits can be used for other fun things)

Need:
For the 'eggs':
1 package firm tofu
5 Tablespoons soy milk
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Bragg amino acid
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Extra olive oil for cooking

For the maple soy tofu:
1 block firm pressed tofu
4 Tablespoons Bragg amino acid
4 Tablespoons maple syrup

For the biscuits:

1 cup plain soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance
2 Tablespoons vegan shortening

Note: I changed the order and directions because I found the cookbook's version hard to follow and the timing wasn't correct for me.

Do:
Press both tofu blocks (1 for 'eggs' and 1 for maple soy tofu). To press, remove tofu from package and drain all excess water. Wrap each block individually first in a paper towel then wrap that into a dish cloth. Put a heavy pan, like a dutch oven on top and let sit for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove tofu and proceed with the following:

For the maple soy tofu: Cut one block of tofu in half then cut each half into about 1/4 inch thick pieces. You should have 8 pieces.

Place pieces in a shallow bowl or pan and add Braggs and maple syrup. Let soak while you prepare your 'eggs' (see below)

For the 'eggs': Combine tofu, soy milk, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, tahini, mustard, cornstarch and baking powder in a kitchenaid or other blender type aparatus. Blend until smooth. Note: it will be very thick.

To cook your maple soy tofu: Preheat oven or toaster oven to 475.

Transfer to a small baking sheet lined with tin foil, generously covering each piece with the remaining liquid. Bake in oven for approximately 10-12 minutes then flip each piece and return to oven for another 10-12 minutes. Note: the oven will need to be at 475 for the biscuits too.

For the biscuits: Keep oven at 475 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine soy milk and vinegar then set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut in Earth Balance and vegan shortening using a fork or pastry cutter, to create a crumbly mixture.

Add the soy/vinegar mixture to your dry mix and stir until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press carefully until about 1 inch thick. Using a mason jar ring or biscuit cutter if you're really fancy, cut dough into circles and place on a baking sheet so the biscuits touch each other.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown, then remove.


While your biscuits are baking, cook your 'eggs'.

To cook your eggs: heat a nonstick skillet (use non stick otherwise it will be an even bigger mess) to medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Pour about 1/3 cup of your 'egg' mixture  into the pan.

Using a spatula, carefully spread the mixture over the pan like a thin pancake. It is sticky as all get out so be prepared. Let the mixture cook on one side until brown and rather firm. I found this took forever. About 15 to 20 minutes on med/low heat. I had to reduce the heat to prevent it from burning.

Flip 'eggs' to cook the other side. When done, it is time to prepare your sandwiches.

Serve:
Cut biscuits in half lengthwise. Top bottom biscuit with a portion of your 'eggs'. On top of that place a piece of the maple soy tofu.

If you are adding green (or another color), add it to the top of your maple soy tofu. Top with the other half of the biscuit. Eat.


As I said, these are truly delicious and definitely impressive. I just want you to know what you're getting into though. If you were to make these for an event, or even a Sunday breakfast, I suggest preparing the biscuits ahead of time, then you can focus on the 'insides' of your sandwiches.

Enjoy!
Tofu

Pressing Tofu

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vegan Cornbread

As I prepare for my mini vacay, I am also trying to prepare some blog posts for y'all, knowing that in approximately twenty-four hours I will most likely be far too busy with my very important vacationly duties (remember when I tried blogging in Italy, only to learn that 'internet access' isn't as clear of a statement as you might think?).

My upcoming vacationly duties shall include, but are not limited to: a couple pre-planned spa services, some shopping, drinking fantastical yet overpriced drinks, a little blackjack perhaps, showgirls, drinking, slots, The Thunder From Down Under, drinks, a naughty hypnotist and probably a little* shopping.

I will also make an effort to include some exercise in order to prevent, as best as vacationly possible, canceling out my amazing four pound weight loss. That and I don't want to suffer the wrath of my boot camp coach when I get back. Once, when he 'caught' me drinking wine on Facebook he made me do twice as many push ups the next day. Yeah.

So, where does all this happen you might be asking? Ah... Las Vegas, the city of sin (which, by the way, I think it a totally dumb 'theme'), and the last time I was there I was pregnant with Noodle Nose so it totally didn't count.

Ok, In reality, Honey has a conference and I'm tagging along like the rest of the wives. I'd have mentioned that in the first place but I decided it sounds way better my way.


So, in catching up with all the fantastical posts I have for you, I bring you the cornbread. Or shall I say, The Cornbread From Heaven. Straight from the top, yes indeedy, you heard it right.

It's so good: light, moist, hearty and virtually irresistible. Aside from being delicious with the collard greens and white beans I served it with, it also makes an amazing breakfast, either by itself with a little Earth Balance and agave nectar or stacked with some maple baked tofu. Ah. The things dreams are made of.

And no, I did not make it up. I did make some very minor changes but the recipe originally came from one of my favorite vegan baking books: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goodreau or, as I call her: The Goddess of Vegan Baking. Uncle Kelly had the book first (and made the cornbread for me too) and I lurved it so much he gave me the book for Christmas a couple years ago. If you don't own it, I highly recommend you pick it up.


Need:
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup frozen whole corn kernels

Do:
Preheadt oven to 425 degrees and prepare a square baking pan by oiling with olive oil or Earth Balance.

In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar. Stir and set aside.

In a Kitchenaid or a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine.

Add milk/vinegar mixture and olive oil and stir to combine.

Add corn kernels, continuing to stir until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 25-28 minutes until top is golden brown. Note: do not over bake; it happens easily, as I have done before. The original recipe says 25-30 minutes. I do just 25 minutes and it i perfect; this probably depends on your oven though.

Serve:
Slice into 9 or 12 cubes. Serve hot with Earth Balance and agave nectar or by itself. You will see, it's just plain delicious.


Enjoy!

*little, meaning a lot. A LOT.


Corn Flour

Monday, January 10, 2011

Collard Greens and White Beans

After all the debauchery of the holidays, also known as all the wrong type of carbohydrates, refined sugar, alcohol and all that 'other' general bad food that everyone* partook in, I was craving something basic, nutritious and delicious. For some reason [southern roots] collard greens always come to mind when I am in this state. They are hearty, packed full of fantastical vitamins and just tasty.

The traditional dish is black eyed peas and collard greens. Yes. Traditionally it is also served on New Years Eve. I served it two days after New Years Eve and I made it with white beans instead of black eyed peas. There was a reason for the latter.

Contrary to what I thought while I was at the store, I apparently did not have 'a bag of black eyed peas' in the pantry. Refusing to believe that I didn't have the little buggers stashed somewhere, I proceeded to tear apart the entire pantry and then came to the conclusion that, with the exception of my ipod, there was not a black eyed pea to be found in the house.

So while I sat on the floor, amongst the rubble that used to be my perfectly organized pantry, heaving from my efforts of totally annihilating the neatly stacked rows, I uttered a cursory 'well sh*t'. Then I got up, carefully stepped over the gi-normous heap of pantry whatnot, plucked a bag of white beans out of the mess** and got started.



*Just me? Perhaps...

**Initially I was going to leave the giant mess for Honey to clean up; then I realized that would be completely rude so I left it for him to marvel at when he came home and then I cleaned it up.

Note: Plan this meal 24 hours in advance.. to soak the beans
Yield: about 6 servings (with leftover beans... stay tuned for what to do with those leftover beans)

Also... so so good when served with the amazing Vegan Cornbread (recipe coming soon)

Need:
2 cups dry white beans (you can use black eyed peas if you're awesome enough to have them in the pantry)
Water to soak beans
3-4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons oregano
1 Dried New Mexico Chile (Mine came from an amazing sample pack from Marx Foods... check them out!)
1 teaspoon(ish) salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh collard greens
Sea salt
Pepper

Do:
Soak beans in plenty of water overnight. I use the crockpot bowl that I will then cook the beans in the next day.

Once soaked, drain beans and return to crock pot. Add vegetable broth, oregano, chile, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.

If you're home, you can stir occassionally; if not, no worries. That is one of the joys of this meal... it basically cooks itself.

When beans are al dente, turn the crock pot off but leave the lid on.

Fold each collard leaf in half lengthwise so the stem protrudes from one side. Using your knife, run it alongside the stem, down the leaves, removing the stem and leaving the two leaf halves. Repeat for each leaf.

In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the onion. Saute on med/high heat for 2-3 minutes then add the chopped garlic. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

While onions and garlic are cooking, pile two or three leaves at a time on top of one another and slice horizontally into about 1/2 inch strips.

Add collard strips to onion/garlic mix and stir to combine. Reduce heat to med/low, cover and let cook for 3-5 minutes then open stir and add salt and pepper. Return lid, reduce heat to low and let cook another 3-5 minutes until fully wilted.

Serve:
To plate, start by piling some greens onto your plate or into your bowl. On the side, spoon a good portion of beans. Finish with hot sauce, if you so choose and, of course, the fantastic vegan cornbread.



The spice from the chile is perfect; not too spicy but just enough to give you something. Along with the coolness of the collards, it's a perfect pair. Add the cornbread with some Earth Balance and Agave Nectar on the side and you have a completely fantastical meal.


Enjoy!

Collard Greens
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