Betty Goes Vegan with a Big Greek Salad

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

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I swore I wouldn’t give in to temptation – I have more than enough vegan cookbooks to keep me busy clear through Vegan MoFo 2015, yo! – and oh, how quickly I caved. I did it. I bought a copy of Annie & Dan Shannon’s Betty Goes Vegan. With FIVE HUNDRED “classic” comfort food recipes, veganized. At first glance, it’s kind of like Vegan Junk Food, but hella thicker. Vegan junk food heaven, here I come.

In my defense, Amazon had a great discount on it, and I needed to buy a second book to get the free shipping deal, so there you go. (The other purchase? A boxed set of The Uglies, also on deep discount. Five books for under $40, yay me. In all seriousness though I miss the public library something awful. Our small town doesn’t have a library – it keeps getting voted down, boo! – and once Shane started working at home full-time, the KCMO library became more of a drive than it’s worth. I keep joking that his new boss oughta give him a book allowance. Le sigh.)

Somewhat ironically, the first recipe I tried was on the healthy side: Greek Dressing, enjoyed on a bed o’ spinach, black and Kalamata olives, carrots, and red bell peppers. Impromptu lunch, I guess I’m doing it right?

Tasty, though the lemon pepper wasn’t as strong as I expected. I ended up topping the salad with an extra 1/8 teaspoon of the stuff.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go drool over the pizza and pasta sections.

Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce & Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

 

The song: “Gimme Pizza” (Slow Jam) by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (original)

The foodstuff: Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce (recipe below)

The connection: P.I.Z.Z.A.

 

Y’all, I’ve been wanting to incorporate pizza (my favorite!) into these Iron Chef challenges for some time now – but tragically, none of the ingredients have really screamed “pizza.” (Which is weird because pizza, much like ice cream, never fails to make me scream. And cry and moan and a few other things that are too obscene to mention here.) Until this weekend, that is!

Two words: potatoes and sesame.

 

Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0021)

 

Two more words: potato pizza!

To start, I made a basic white pizza dough (my go-to recipe!), with a little garlic powder mixed in. The crust is dusted with a bit of rosemary-infused olive oil, then stacked high with several layers of paper-thin, salty Yokon Gold (or, in my case, red skin) potatoes, also seasoned with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and, voilà, an Iron Chef inspired pizza for four!

Since this is all so basic it feels rather like cheating, I also made a Garlic Sesame Sauce: silken tofu, blended and dressed up with sesame seed oil, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and a few other things. I used the Sour Cream recipe found in Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food as a jumping-off point, testing and adding ingredients until I had something that was a little bit sesame, a little but garlicky. Not half bad, if I do say so myself!

It’s meant to be drizzled (or plopped, as the case may be) on the pizza post-baking

 

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or served on the side as a dipping sauce,

 

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but you could easily use it like a more traditional pizza sauce. Cut the olive oil in half and add the sauce first, followed by the potatoes, olive oil, and optional sesame seeds. Easy as pie! (Because it is a pie!)

The pizza’s pretty great on its own, but I like the sauce because it helps to add a little moisture to what can sometimes be a dry pie. (Mashed potatoes work wonders too!) Got leftovers? Don’t fret! The sauce also makes for a tasty dressing, dip, or sandwich spread.

We also made a pretty epic Bruschetta Pizza, a slice of which you see on my plate. (When we make pizza, we ALWAYS make two. One for everyone!) And yup, I’ve got a recipe for that too!

You’re welcome.

(More below the fold…)

Vegan Junk Food Up the Wazoo!: Creamy Ranch Dressing

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

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So here we have a batch of the Creamy Ranch Dressing from Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food. Super-yummy, and very close in taste to its dairy counterpart – or so the husband tells me. (This is the first ranch dressing I’ve tried, vegan or otherwise. Look out Thousand Islands, you’ve got competition!)

The name of the recipe is a little deceptive, actually, as Gold gives you options for creating both a dressing and a dip. You begin by making a sort of “spice packet” with garlic, onion, chives, and other goodies. (This, in turn, makes about 6 batches worth of dip/dressing.) Next, the base: one part vegan mayo to one part vegan sour cream. (There’s also a recipe for the latter, fyi. I thought I saw one for mayo, too, but I can’t seem to find it now!) Mix in a tablespoon of the spices and voilà! – you’ve got dip! Prefer dressing instead? Simply water it down with some soy milk.

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The taste of the dressing pairs especially well with sundried tomatoes and bacon bits, imho. I’ve got to find a way to work these into the recipe. I’m inclined to add the bacon bits to the spice packet, so they get nice and pulverized; but the sundried tomatoes might fare better when added at the last minute, when you’re actually making the dip/dressing. I wonder how well the base will soak up the flavor of the tomatoes if it’s allowed to sit for several days? THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT. I smell an experiment!

The dressing, though? Still makes for a nice dip, especially when chilled:

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(If you’re wondering why there are so many damned saltines around, it’s because they’re an ingredient in the spice. Seriously!)

Last night, having depleted my salad reserves, I was snacking on some potato chips and ranch dressing over the kitchen counter* when suddenly a few of the dogs started barking at me. Out of nowhere! “Put down the chips, fatty, it’s eleven o’clock!” I’m pretty sure that’s what they were saying; they’re super-rude like that. Mags especially.

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True story!

* While watching – shhhh! don’t tell! – Toddlers & Tiaras. Two of the prizes in the featured pageant? PUPPIES! Freaking PUPPIES! Gifting animals with the advantage of advanced planning is bad enough, but handing them out as door prizes? WTF! How do you know whether the winner even wants a dog? I mean, the kids do, obvs – the temper tantrums and cryfests from the losers were evidence enough – but what about their parents? You know, the ones who will actually (hopefully) be caring for these living, breathing, sentient creatures? Just when you thought the train wreck couldn’t possibly get any more twisted. Oy.

Iron Chef #3: Vegan Chicken Cashew Salad with Coconut Lime Dressing

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

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Upon setting eyes on this week’s Iron Chef Challenge ingredient – coconut! – my mind immediately went to sweets. Coconut ice cream! (Talk about your no-brainers.) Raw coconut balls! Chocolate chip cookies coated in coconut shreds! Chocolate coconut candy, à la Almond Delights! Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Oh, the possibilities!

And then reality set in and I opted for practicality – which, for someone with two bags of salad in the fridge set to expire soon, equals salad dressing. Coconut and lime are a natural pairing, so coconut and lime it was. Silken tofu and coconut milk form the base of this dressing, while lemon and lime juice give it that sweet tropical kick. Add in a splash of coconut extract for a little extra coco-nuttiness, and you’re good to go!

You can either use this as a salad dressing – in the picture above, it’s nestled on a bed of leafy greens, along with some shredded carrots, cashews and vegan chicken strips (Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips, leftovers from the Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup I made on Thursday – recipe coming soon!) – or as a condiment, e.g. on a vegan chicken sammie. For a thinner or thicker consistency, tinker with the tofu-to-coconut milk ratio before adding the seasonings. (As written, the recipe makes a dressing similar in consistency to ranch.) This particular configuration yields about three cups worth, which I’m guessing you can divide and freeze for later use. But I haven’t tested that idea out yet, so experiment at your own risk!

Major props to the husband, who helped with the taste testing. I’m not all that adventurous, so it helps to have a partner who has all the fussiness of a garbage disposal!
 

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“Put the Lime in the Coconut” Salad Dressing

Ingredients

12 ounces silken tofu
1.5 cups coconut milk, room temp
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons parsley

Directions

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the silken tofu and coconut milk and process until it’s smooth and creamy.

If you’d like to tinker with the consistency of the dressing, add the coconut milk a half a cup at a time; the more milk you add, the thinner the dressing will be.

2. Add in the lemon juice, lime juice, coconut extract and parsley and process until well blended. Most likely you’ll need to stop once or twice to scrape off the sides of the bowl as you go.

Since this dressing is suited to my husband’s tastes – and your preferences may differ – you may want to add the seasonings in smaller increments, adjusting the amounts to your liking!

3. Enjoy drizzled on a colorful salad or spread on a vegan sammie! Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container and consume within several days.
 
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