Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Cashews are one of my favorite nuts, if only because they pop up in so many vegan cheese recipes. And with their rich, savory, vaguely cheesy flavor, it’s no wonder why. (Gawker even rated them the Second-Best Nut of All Time. “Cashew: A crescent moon of flavor / In the night sky of nut jars.”)

In addition to some pretty rad dried strawberries, Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit also provided me a five pound bag of raw cashews to play around with.

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Naturally, I made cheesy pasta!

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So I was first introduced to the concept of Spaghetti Pie by Tami Noyes, by way of her most excellent cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen. (Seriously, this is one of a handful of cookbooks that I can’t recommend highly enough.) Since then, I’ve encountered variations on this theme in a number of places. (See, e.g., Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater.) Over time, I’ve plucked elements from each recipe and smooshed and mashed and cobbled them together to create a version that’s a) easy; b) mostly sticks to ingredients that I’m likely to have on hand; and c) is still super freaking delicious.

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Spaghetti pie (or cake, or whatever you want to call it) typically has a bottom layer of pasta (either plain or lightly coated with sauce), followed by a tofu-based, ricotta-like cheese (this is where the cashews come in!), and then topped with pasta sauce and either vegan mozzarella cheese or some other bake-able topping, such as breadcrumbs mixed with nutritional yeast. You can get as complicated as you want; for example, by hand-roasting red peppers and then simmering them in your own special red sauce for a full day beforehand. One of my favorite things about this recipe is its versatility: sure, you can go all gourmet when time allows – but if you’re in a pinch, swapping out the special sauce for store-bought stuff saves time time without sacrificing quality (well, not too much, anyway).

Without further ado, I present: Kelly’s Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie. (Yeah, I know it’s hot out. Still worth it.)

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Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

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A page from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, just because.
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When the folks at Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit offered me some goodies for review, I jumped at the chance to try their dried strawberries. Along with the smell of wet dogs and chlorinated pools, nothing says summer quite like berries. Specifically, strawberries. And while these bad girls aren’t summer fresh, I thought they might just be perfect for baking.

The first thing I noticed upon their arrival is that they look much plumper than expected – kind of like the candied strawberries, minus all the extra sugar. They have a nice consistency, vaguely reminiscent of the fruit leather I make every fall.

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Since strawberry-banana is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations – and I just so happened to have three brown bananas chilling on the counter – I decided to whip up a loaf of my crowd-pleasing banana bread. In addition to diced dried bananas, it also has a wee bit of strawberry extract (totally optional but also totally yummy). For something different, swap out a few tablespoons of the sugar for strawberry syrup. Or just add it in to satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s pretty great either way!

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Fwiw, the strawberries also go quite well in oatmeal – they’re a nice change of pace from my usual dried cranberries, and make an otherwise boring breakfast feel a bit more like junk food. (Remember those instant oatmeal packs you ate as a kid, with the dinosaur eggs? Yeah, like that!)

 

Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

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Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plain or vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon strawberry extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
a dash of cinnamon
a handful of dried strawberries, diced

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8″x4″ bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.

2. Pour 1/4 cup soy milk into a small glass measuring cup. Add the 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugars. Add the wet ingredients – mashed bananas, soy milk, and vanilla and strawberry extracts – and mix well. Add the salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and sift in the flour, mixing until the batter is smooth and (relatively) creamy. Mix in the diced strawberries; toss in a second handful if desired.

4. Pour the batter into a prepared bread pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula. Bake at 350F for 50 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf and your oven’s own quirks. You can check the bread’s progress by inserting a toothpick or knife into the loaf’s center; when it comes out clean and the top of bread attains a nice golden color, you’ll know it’s done.

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Not-Quite-Vichyssoise with Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Monday, December 19th, 2016

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It’s been a while since I shared a shiny new recipe, or even just a photo or two or twenty of my latest donut haul from Ronald’s. (I am currently up to my elbows in fritters and bear claws, let me tell you!) With everything going on in the world/with my family, I just haven’t been feeling it. But I’m coming out of hiatus long enough to tell you all about this awesome, carbalicious soup I came up with.

So I’ve wanted to try a potato soup with roasted potatoes for quite some time now; I think the Loaded Baked Potato Soup from American Vegan Kitchen first gave me the idea, and I blogged about that four years ago!

Roasted potatoes are one of my favorites; I enjoy them with everything from Beast Burgers to tofu scrambles. Plus they’re so darned easy to make, just pop ’em in the oven and rotate, flip, rotate. I’ll never fry them on the stove top again!

Anyway, for this recipe, I used the Fancy Schmancy Vichyssoise from The Cheesy Vegan as a starting point. According to Wikipedia, Vichyssoise “is a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold but can be eaten hot.” For his version, Schlimm replaces the cream with tofu and swaps out chicken stock for the vegan version. I call mine “Not-Quite-Vichyssoise” because I skipped the leaks and added some chunky goodness in the form of roasted potatoes.

It’s actually pretty easy to make, especially if you have an immersion blender and can puree the soup right there in the pot. While the soup is cooking, roast the potatoes. The cook times are pretty similar and they should finish up about the same time. When serving, you can either dump the roasted potatoes right into the soup pot and mix, or sprinkle them on top of the soup like croutons or some other garnish. Mixing the potatoes right in with the soup will soften them up, especially with time, while sprinkle them on top will preserve their crispy goodness. I’m all for option b, personally.

As for the leftovers, you can throw any extra roasted potatoes in the pot and make a fresh batch to serve with the leftovers. You can never have too many potatoes, you know?

Pro tip: We had a little leftover Thanksgiving gravy hanging out in the fridge, the first time I made this. Not really even enough to serve with a plate of fries, but enough that I felt bad just tossing it (or eating it by the spoonful). So I had the genius idea to serve it with the soup: I heated it up, spooned the gravy into the bottom of my bowl, poured a heaping serving of soup on top, and then garnished with roasted potatoes. The gravy really took this dish to the next level. Definitely give this a try when you’re in desperate need of comfort food, okay?

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Monday, February 8th, 2016

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I’m not 100% sure of the genesis of this particular ice cream flavor, but I think it had something to do with carrot cake ice cream. As in, I really wanted to give it a try, but was one tub short of plain cream cheese for the icing swirl. Plain Tofutti cream cheese got me thinking about Daiya’s amazaballs strawberry cream cheese, one thing led to another, and – huzzah! – strawberry cream cheese ice cream. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

(Actually I made this way back in October of last year, but held the post back so that it would be more timely. You’re welcome!)

Initially I thought that a cream cheese swirl/chunks of cream cheese a la cookie dough would be the ticket, but not so much! Solid cream cheese doesn’t freeze as well as ice cream batter and besides, I think the cream cheese flavor tastes better when evenly distributed throughout the ice cream rather than concentrated in little bites. Luckily my ice cream maker did such a thorough job of mixing the cream cheese with the batter – even when added near the end of the cycle – that I ended up with very few chunks.

My advice is to add the cream cheese as soon as the batter’s poured. 6 ounces (or 3/4 of a tub) will give you a nice flavor, but if you’d like your ice cream extra cheesy, maybe try a full 8 ounce tub for maximum effect. If you’re really feeling adventurous and want to give chunky a try, add the cream cheese during the last few minutes of the cycle.

 

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Orange Marmalade Nice Cream

Friday, October 30th, 2015

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In the vein of purging the cabinets for that move we’re planning next decade, I give you Orange Marmalade Nice Cream. (Because “Orange Marmalade Banana Ice Cream” just feels like too much of a mouthful.)

I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought a jar of Orange Marmalade – I’m strictly a raspberry jam and peach preserves gal when it comes to my bagels – so I figured this was as good a use as any. And the end product was pretty tasty. I’ll call this one a win.

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Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

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Now that I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve tried nearly every dream ice cream flavor I can think of, it’s time to get creative – like, cleaning out the cabinets creative. Also, Shane and I are thinking about moving some time in the distant future, so it’s probably best to start lightening the load now. If you could only see my pantry, you’d understand. Out of control doesn’t begin to describe it. My skepticism re: expiration dates doesn’t make things any easier on the hoarding end.

Exhibit A: the custard mix I bought roughly four years ago, back when I was reviewing Vegan Junk Food and wanted to try the Boston Cream Pie. It never materialized and so the custard powder sat. When I went rooting around in the cabinets for inspiration, I thought that surely someone must have tried to make ice cream with it. And they have! Usually with eggs and cream, but we can’t all be awesome, okay?

Anyway, this is my vegan version. I’ve never had custard before, so I can’t rate the accuracy of its flavor. What I can say it that it tastes delish: a little vanilla-y, but with a little extra something that I can only assume is the custard talking.

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Raspberry Green Tea Ice Cream

Friday, September 18th, 2015

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So this recipe required way more raspberry extract than I expected! The matcha powder completely overwhelms the raspberry flavoring, necessitating two teaspoons instead of one. I bet fresh or frozen raspberries (two cups, maybe?), cooked down into a jelly, would work even better, but then you’ve got a Seed Situation on your hands. So if it’s a smooth ice cream you’re looking for, best stick with raspberry extract.

This flavor pairing isn’t my all-time favorite, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. And if you eat a ton of green tea ice cream, it’s a fun way to mix things up without relinquishing the matcha.

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Red Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

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I wasn’t entirely sure how well this experiment would turn out; after all, raspberries are only like my third favorite berry, after blueberries and strawberries. They taste wonderful, but ALL! THOSE! PESKY! SEEDS! And seeing as the batter contains both raspberry extract and just the tiniest bit of preserves for added flavor, yeah. I worried that the seeds would ruin it. I like my ice cream like I like my doggy bellies – smooth and soft.

As it turns out? This recipe is amazaballs. For the smoothest base possible, feel free to omit the preserves (and maybe even bump the extract up to a full 2 teaspoons) – but all told, the seeds are dispersed enough that they don’t entirely disrupt the silky smoothness of the ice cream.

And then there’s the raspberry swirl, which is THE BEST. For a chunky, high impact feel, stir it in ever so gently; but for a more consistent vibe, be a little more vigorous when mixing. I usually eyeball the add-ins, and give you a range that you can adjust to your own tastes. Anywhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup ought to do it though. Maybe even 3/4 cup if you’re feeling adventurous.

I used red raspberry preserves, since I had a jar on hand, but you can always swap it out for your own homemade raspberry sauce. Just toss a few cups of berries in a medium-sized saucepan and cook on medium until jelly-like in consistency. The less moisture, the better! Remember this maxim and you can’t go wrong. At least when churning vegan ice cream, that is.

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Strawberry Lemonade Ice Cream

Monday, August 17th, 2015

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After the awesomeness that was my Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started experimenting with various flavors of lemonade ice cream. I started with Strawberry Lemonade, because a) strawberries are my favorite and b) they are totally seasonal and c) bursting out of my fridge. I mean, strawberries! Hello! BEST. Just ask the Strawberry Shortcake bedsheets from my childhood.

Okay, I’m meandering. The heat is totally frying my brain.

Anyway, this recipe is pretty rad and you should totally give it a try. It’s extra-handy for those times when you went shopping with your stomach at the farmer’s market and “accidentally” bought more strawberries than you could possibly hope to eat.

Pro tip: For a smoother ice cream, you can always process the cooked strawberries in a food processor or blender (using a splash of soy creamer or milk if too thick) prior to making the ice cream batter. However, I didn’t bother, assuming that the paddles on my machine would do a good enough job breaking up any remaining strawberry chunks. And they totally did!

Alternately, if you like a few chunky bits o’ berries, hold a few tablespoons of the cooked strawberries back and add them to the machine about fifteen seconds before dispensing. Or mix them in by hand as you transfer the finished ice cream to a storage container.

 

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Lemon Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

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This particular flavor is inspired by a crazy delicious (and crazy expensive!) artisanal lemon blueberry jam I found on Mouth.com. (I won a certificate, so.) It last for all of two and a half bagels (tiny jar is tiny), which wasn’t nearly enough crush my craving. So what better remedy than ice cream?

I wasn’t entirely sure how much lemon juice concentrate I should use; I turned to Wheeler Del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop for reference, and he only uses three tablespoons in his one and only lemon ice cream recipe (lemon basil, if I’m not mistaken). That seemed on the low side, so I doubled it. And then some.

Right off the stovetop, it appeared I’d made a horrible mistake: the lemon flavor was over-the-top and way too tangy. But. After the batter cooled and was processed, the lemony taste mellowed somewhat. Plus the blueberry jam draws a little attention away from it. I think this configuration is perfect, but feel free to swap out 1/4 cup of the lemon juice for soy milk if you’d rather play it safe.

When picking your blueberry jam, try to find a brand that has little chunks of blueberries inside. These frozen bits of goodness catapult the finished product from delicious to out of this freaking world.

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Creamy Maple Pecan Ice Cream

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

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Recently it occurred to me that I’ve never made my own maple pecan ice cream – outside of banana ice cream, that is, which is delicious but doesn’t count. (You can always taste the bananas, so it’s not a true maple pecan ice cream – more like banana maple pecan ice cream. Good but NOT THE SAME.) This is weird because I’ve always been a fan of Tofutti’s Better Pecan ice cream.

The good news is that it’s really easy to make; you just need maple syrup and pecan flavoring/extract for, well, flavoring. You can also mix in some roasted, crushed pecans if you’d like, but I opted to use them for garnish instead. Nuts added directly to ice cream can get a little soggy and lose some of their crunch over time. Thanks, but no.

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Making Not-tella with Hazelnut Flour and a Recipe for Vegan Nutella Swirl Ice Cream!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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Behold: Hazelnut flour!
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Along with a giant honking bag of red quinoa, the nice people at IFS Bulk also gave me 48 ounces of hazelnut flour to play around with! Prior to this, it didn’t even cross my mind that hazelnuts might come pre-ground, flour style, similar to almonds, cashews, and the like. But they do! And of course I used the flour to make my absolute favorite: vegan nutella!

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My precious!
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So far the only recipe that’s worked for me is the Not-tella from Veganomicon – which, you might recall, I rocked to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a few VeganMoFos back. Anyhow, it’s the only version I’ve tried that actually results in a readily spreadable, creamy nut butter. And while it can be a little tough on ye ole food processor, it’s 1000% worth it.

Still, I wondered if maybe swapping out the whole hazelnuts for hazelnut flour might make the process a wee bit easier? After all, it’s the whole filberts that really make my food process jump and dance and just generally send me into a panicky tailspin. Once they’re processed, things go much more smoothly from there.

And you know what? Hazelnut flour FTW!

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Ooey, gooey, and spreadable at room temp.
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I made a couple of batches of Not-tella – one for ice cream, one for licking from the spoon – and each time the process was pain-free. I didn’t even have to take a break to let the motor rest. From now on it’s nutella with hazelnut flour for this girl.

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Buying in Bulk, White vs. Red vs. Black Quinoa, and a Recipe for Savory Red Lentil and Quinoa Bolognese

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca

Red and Yellow Quinoa, Lago Titicaca; CC image via twiga_269 on Flickr.
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You guys know how much I love ye ole bulk food stores, right? Back when I started that “frugal vegans” series a few VeganMoFos ago (which sadly turned out to be fairly short-lived, since I exhausted all my ideas in under a month), buying in bulk was one of my top/most popular tips.

Whether you’re prepping for the apocalypse or just trying to save some money, buying in bulk can be a great option. Don’t have an underground bunker in which to store all those tubs of extra goodies? Pair up with a friend or two and split your haul!

So when Alexa from IFS Bulk got in touch, I jumped at the chance to try out some of their products and create a few original recipes.* With everything from black chia seeds to dried currants and mammoth pecan halves (my favorite!) to choose from, it was hard to whittle it down. In the end, I went with red quinoa and hazelnut flour. We’ll discuss the hazelnut flour another day (spoiler alert: there will be vegan Nutella!); today it’s all about the quinoa.

Prior to this, I wasn’t even aware that quinoa came in different colors – red and black in addition to the more popular white. What’s the difference?, you might be asking. Good question! I wanted to know too, so I did a little research, and here’s what I found.

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Blueberry Coconut Pancakes (And a GF pancake FAIL!)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I recently received a whopping five pounds of coconut flour for review, so I finally broke out that copy of The Paleo Bread Bible I scored through Goodreads. Nearly every recipe calls for coconut flour, yo! I’ve been meaning to try it for ages, but haven’t done a whole lot of baking lately.

I decided to start with something simple – you know, a real can’t-eff-this-up recipe – and, spoiler alert, it was an epic fail.

I give you: Blueberry Pancakes.

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Since he’s the designated pancake-flipper in the house, Shane was stuck making these, and I tweeted halfway through the ordeal my prediction that these GF Paleo Pancakes would have him in tears before the night was done. He didn’t cry, but it was close. There was a lot of cursing and several areas of burned skin. (Never cook while you’re angry, folks.)

The problem? The pancakes just didn’t hold together very well. Even after he added some wheat flour to the almond/coconut-flour batter, it spread out like whoah after he ladled it onto the griddle. And while they got nice and crunchy on the outside, the insides remained a gooey mess, as you can see in the bottom pic. We even tried oven-baking some of the batter into a giant pancake, like so, to no avail.

Now, all of these recipes use eggs – so it could be that the egg replacer we chose just wasn’t up to the task. It was ye trusty old Ener-G, though, so I don’t think that’s it.

I was planning on trying the banana bread, but I’m legit afraid at this point. This is why I rarely give cookbooks a negative review: I don’t feel comfortable rating a cookbook unless I’ve tried multiple recipes, but I refuse to throw good money after bad if the first two or three are a disaster. It’s a conundrum.

Anyway.

A few nights later, he tried swapping out some flour in a regular carby recipe for coconut flour, with much better results;

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you can find the recipe under the jump. He was feeling lazy, so he just went with Bisquick – but you can try this trick with your own favorite recipe, too. We also added some coconut extract for double the coconutty flavor, and it tasted amazing with blueberries.

All in all, not a total loss.

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St. Patrick’s Day Spinach & Seaweed Superfood Ice Cream

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

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Okay, so this ice cream sounds a little sketchy, but it’s actually not half bad! Probably you’ll opt for a dessert drenched in booze for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday – not that I would blame you; may I suggest this Kahlua ice cream? – but with the festive green color, I just couldn’t pass on the fortuitous timing.

The seaweed powder is another superfood that I received for review from Kazu, hence the odd recipe. I only used a teaspoon and a half, though, so the taste is very subtle. It pairs surprisingly well with bananas, and the shocking green color provided by the spinach cuts down on the cognitive dissonance you might otherwise experience.

Plus it’s hella healthy, so there’s that too. And if you use a raw seaweed powder and leave out the sugar and nondairy milk, I do believe that this recipe is a-okay for raw foodies. So…eat up?

P.S. I am seriously considering changing my name to Ice Cream Star. Or maybe Unicorn Pizza Star. Something along those lines. Thoughts?

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My Current Favorite Fast Food

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

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I go through cycles where I absolutely cannot stuff enough of a particular food into my face, and right now that food is tofu scramble. Bonus points if it’s served with a side of semi-greasy baked potato pieces slathered in ketchup.

A friend on FB asked for tips on eating healthier, which got me thinking. One of my favorites is this: make up a giant batch of a well-loved (but healthy) food so that I can live on the leftovers, if not for a week, then at least a couple of nights. That way I won’t be tempted to eat a quick junkie meal (pizza, you know I love you but…) on those nights when I don’t have the time or desire to cook something from scratch. For those who live in places where vegan takeout is an option (I don’t; it’s both a blessing and a curse), having healthy leftovers in the fridge may discourage you from choosing this path of least (but most delicious) resistance.

I especially love tofu scrambles for this, because they’re so versatile and easy. Just reheat leftovers on the stovetop for five or ten minutes (it doesn’t require a ton of adult supervision, which is all the better!) and dinner is served. Don’t have enough leftovers for a proper meal? Bake a potato, steam some carrots, toss in a cup or two of extra frozen veggies. Anything goes in a scramble; it’s the perfect cleaning out your fridge/freezer meal.

Or use the scramble as a filling in a sammie, loose “meat” style. The bread makes an excellent filler, and the mode of delivery magically transforms it into brand new meal.

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Tofu scrambles be banging on sourdough bread slathered in Vegenaise and garnished with spinach and a few tomato slices.

Lately I’ve been making a double-batch of tofu scramble at a time. Sure, it takes about a half hour extra, but I have enough scramble left over for three or more additional meals. Plus I can press both bricks at the same time, and I end up with fewer dishes to wash overall. Win.

Under the jump is my from-memory recipe for this particular scramble – we’ll call it the Vegetable Spectacular – but I’ve made it so often that I’m pretty confident of the formula.

For the potatoes, preheat the oven to 425F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper (one large cookie sheet per potato). Clean the potato and then dice it into bite-sized pieces; uniformity is more important than size here. Place the pieced in a large bowl and add two tablespoons (give or take; again, per potato) of olive oil and some salt and pepper; mix well. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (or until crispy), rotating the sheet(s) and flipping the potatoes halfway through.

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Cacao Banana Ice Cream (Now with Nibs!)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

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Last week I received a packet of sample goodies from Kazu; nestled among the quinoa, matcha powder, and goldenberries were cacao powder and cacao nibs. As usual, when faced with food items for review, I went with my first instinct: make ice cream! I even happened to have a few quarts of sliced bananas in the freezer, just waiting on me; serendipity, anyone?

So what’s the diff between cocoa and cacao powder, you might be wondering? While both begin life in the pods of the Theobroma cacao plant, the difference lies in the processing: cocoa beans are roasted before being cracked, deshelled, and ground into a powder, while cacao beans are not. (The shells, by the by, are where we get nibs.) Cacao is raw; cocoa is not. It may also contain more antioxidants than its processed counterpart.

Neither cacao nor cocoa should be confused with carob, which comes from an altogether different plant (the carob tree) and is the only one of the three that’s suitable for canines. Both cacao and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to dogs.

Since cacao and cocoa powder can be used almost interchangeably, the recipe was a no-brainer. I only used 3 tablespoons of cacao, but feel free to increase it to a full quarter cup if you’d like a stronger flavor. And as long as you omit the sugar and soy milk (hopefully you’ll need neither – ’tis the goal with banana ice cream, after all), this recipe is suitable for those on a raw food diet.

Bon appétit!

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Cashew Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar Chunk Ice Cream

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

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Like many of my recipes (especially ice cream recipes – though usually banana-based), this one was borne of a desire to clear out the fridge/freezer. (Spring cleaning, it’s about that time!) I had about a quarter of the messed-up Cashew Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar I made (or tried to make, rather) for Christmas sitting in the freezer, and I decided what better way to finish it off than mixed with ice cream? You can’t go wrong with ice cream. It’s just not possible.

So basically I just chopped the leftovers up and stirred stirred them into a batch of vanilla ice cream post-processing: easy peasy! You can do this with pretty much any baked good you’ve accidentally-on-purpose made a little too much of: cookie batter, cupcakes, granola bars, truffles, you name it.

While certain layers caught my attention more than others (namely the cashew cream and chocolate topping), the finished ice cream proved tasty enough that I’m thinking about turning these flavors into their own honest-to-goodness ice cream, no nanaimo bar required.

2015-02-07 - Cashew Cappuccino Nanaimo Bar Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

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Kelly’s (Formerly) Super-Secret, Slow-Simmered, Slightly Sweet and Very Savory Pasta Sauce

Friday, February 20th, 2015

2015-02-15 - Sweet & Savory Pasta Sauce - 0007 [flickr]

Back when I published my review of The Oh She Glows cookbook last March, I may or may not have bragged about my super-awesome, oh-so-secret, perfected after years of slow-simmering and taste-testing, epically awesome pasta sauce from scratch. The internet may or may not have begged me to publish said recipe. Okay, so several people requested it.

Since it’s something I usually whip up on the fly, I wanted to actually make a batch, writing down the steps as I went, rather than guessing at the amounts of ingredients and such. Fast-forward eleven months and I’m just now getting to it.

It’s been the perfect storm of events conspiring against me: for one, I just haven’t been eating pasta as much. And when I do make sauce from scratch, it’s the frozen tomatoes in the fridge that get the first priority, ingredients-wise; problem is, they’ve already been run through the food processor, cooked and seasoned, such that they’d totally throw off the recipe. Also, the recent preponderance of cookbook reviews means I haven’t had as much time for original experimentation.

And then there’s Peedee, aka cancer boy: diagnosed with lung cancer last March; chest cut open and tumor (seemingly successfully) removed in April; and now, after nine months of screening, with x-rays in three-month intervals, it seems the cancer’s back. He started chemo yesterday (which, at the time of this writing, is actually still several days away; ’tis the magic of the queue! Insert a quick wish for minimal side effects here.) So yeah, it’s been a pretty hectic year.

Okay! I didn’t mean to go so dark there! Let’s talk pasta sauce, shall we?

So the key to me dream pasta sauce is three-fold. First, simmer, simmer, simmer! This sauce takes at least two hours to make, preferably more. The longer you can keep it on the stove top, the richer and more nuanced the taste. This definitely isn’t a weeknight/work night meal dealio.

Secondly: don’t be stingy with the sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, garlic, basil, and/or oregano (those last two should always appear in a 3-to-1 ratio, by the way). These bad girls make the sauce.

Last but not least: conduct plenty of taste testing along the way. Re-season as necessary. Love your pasta sauce, and it will love you back.

Wait! I lied. There’s a fourth rule that I just realized should be a bona fide rule, on account of it’s uber-important: you simply MUST add the red peppers in two batches. The original ones cook so long that they break down a little and become one with the sauce, whereas the second batch stays nice and chunky and results in tiny explosions of sweet, tangy, and occasionally charred flavor. So, so good. My mouth is watering as I write this.

SO. In summary: no two of my sauces are exactly alike, but what follows is my best stab at a standard recipe. Enjoy!

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Matcha Cookies!

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

2015-01-28 - Matcha Cookies - 0002 [flickr]

I needed to think of something to make other than green tea ice cream to test this new brand of matcha I received for review, so I had pretty much the best idea ever: Matcha Cookies! Or St. Patty’s Day Snickerdoodles, if you prefer.

The recipe is modeled on the Snickerdoodle cookies in The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. You can find the recipe after the jump, but basically I just swapped out the cinnamon flavoring for matcha powder (two tablespoons, to be exact).

I was a little stumped on the coating – Snickerdoodles are rolled in cinnamon sugar prior to baking – but I decided to use almond flour in place of cinnamon, because I love the pairing of almond with green tea. White on green lacks the visual punch of brown on white, but it’s pretty tasty nonetheless – and that’s what really counts, yeah?

If you don’t have any almond flour, just use plain sugar instead! Or reduce the vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon and add a teaspoon of almond extract to get your fix.

2015-01-28 - Matcha Cookies - 0008 [flickr]

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