Wonderfully Walnutty Banana Bread, Two Ways

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

What’s a gal to do when suddenly she finds herself in possession of a ten-pound bag of walnuts? (Thanks, Gourmet Nuts & Dried Fruit!) Make banana bread, of course! (Bananas + walnuts are my favorite.)

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I started out with the classics: soft, spongy banana bread laced with a generous helping of chocolate chips and walnuts. Delish!

I could have stopped after polishing off that loaf in record time, but a) I still had a half of bunch of rapidly blackening bananas and b) I wanted to try a loaf out on Mags, the littlest and oldest of my dog-kids. Over the past few years, she’s slowly been shedding weight, to the point that she now looks almost painfully thin. Thankfully, I think this is more a result of her fussy eating habits than a health problem. I thought I was doing good by letting her eat as much as she wanted and not pushing her – so as to not make mealtimes a horror show – but apparently not. My new strategy is a mix of good cop/bad cop: cajole her to eat a set amount at every mealtime, but also mix things up with new and exciting foods.

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The result? Five different kinds of kibble in my cupboard, not to mention a bunch of canned food, and specially prepared dishes like roasted sweet potatoes, tofu battered in nutritional yeast, and sweet and sour soy curls. She is so spoiled, you guys.

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Mags is especially fond of baked goods, including banana bread. Since walnuts are a big no-no for dogs, I kept the batter kind of basic, without any add-ins. Instead, I dressed things up in the form of a topping, borrowed from the Big Boat Banana Bread from Laura Dakin’s Cookin’ Up a Storm. That way, I got the top half, Mags the bottom, and we were both as happy as clams in a vegan ocean town.

Recipes after the jump!

(More below the fold…)

Baked Pears with (Gourmet!) Walnuts and Agave

Monday, September 25th, 2017

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Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit offered me some more goodies for testing, and who am I to turn my nose up at free food? It’s just not in my skill set. And so it was that I came into possession of two whopping ten-pound bags of walnuts and dried blueberries.

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I also just so happen to have a ton of pears and apples from my fruit trees. The first one is a bit of an exaggeration – I only have one pear tree, which maybe gave me twenty-five pears this year (sad!) – while the other’s a lot closer to the truth. I have peeled, sliced, and frozen so many apples that my chest freezer is stuffed nearly full. At this point I estimate it’s 40% pita bread (other things I cannot pass up: a $1/loaf sale on pita bread!), 40% apples, and 20% other (read: french fries and the bowl for my ice cream maker).

Anyway, long story short, I started Googling recipes involving walnuts, blueberries, pears, and apples – in any and every conceivable combination – and one of the first ones to catch my interest was this recipe for Baked Pears with Walnuts and Honey at SkinnyTaste.

The recipe is pretty simple, and I pretty much followed it to the t, with one obvious exception: I swapped out the honey for agave nectar. I also used a little less cinnamon, sprinkling it on the pears to taste.

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Pro tip: I kind of stuffed the hollows in the center of each pear half with the walnuts, instead of sprinkling them on top. Overall I dug the effect, but found that the ones on the bottom didn’t get browned as nicely. If you go this route, maybe lightly toast the chopped walnuts first?

Pro tip #2: Carving a small sliver out of the bottom of each pear half really does make them easier to work with!

Pro tip #3: The leftovers taste great warmed in the microwave and served with your favorite cereal. I usually eat baked apples this way, paired up with bran flakes. If you really want to get wild, throw some generic Life cereal or homemade granola on top of the whole shebang.* Very tasty!

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For my next trick, I may or may not turn some of these walnuts into a strudel topping. Stay tuned!

* Baby Kelly would be horrified at this mixing of various foodstuffs. Middle-aged dogs really do learn new tricks.

(Not Exactly Gluten Free) Tomato Walnut Pasta

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

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Though this Tomato Walnut Pasta is from Daniel Nadav’s 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes, it’s hardly gluten-free, on accounta I didn’t bother using GF noodles. Since I’m not GF, I really just bought this book for the pasta sauce and pizza combos. And it was just 99 cents. And it’s only the third vegan Italian cookbook I’ve heard of, gluten-free or otherwise. So there’s that.

The sauce, which is a combination of tomatoes, walnuts, spinach, and basil, is pretty tasty. Nadav didn’t include any garlic (blasphemy!), so I thew some in there. A little too much, actually – I added several tablespoons of garlic to the saucepan before I realized that the tomatoes I’d picked, cooked, and frozen last October also had garlic in them. No harm no foul. Well, maybe a bit of foulness. Breath-wise, that is. Whatever.

As I’ve been flipping through this cookbook, I’ve found a ton of mistakes. Most are aesthetic – inconsistent font styles, for example – and merely offend the perfectionist in me. But this particular recipe calls for 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast…and then doesn’t tell you what to do with it. (Sniff it? Trippy!) The options are pretty limited: add it to the food processor with the spinach, basil, and walnuts, or mix it right on in with the sauce. I went with the former, although I don’t think it makes much difference in the end. It all ends up on one plate.

Anyway. Good recipe. If you’re half as into Italian food as I am, and willing to wade through editing errors and such, 101 Gluten Free Vegan Italian Recipes might be worth a try. It goes on sale for zero (that’s free!) every once in awhile, so you can always add it to your wishlist until then.

Review coming…maybe.

Fusilli with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts & Green Beans with Walnut Sauce

Friday, February 8th, 2013

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This one’s for the walnut lovers in the house: Fusilli with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts and Green Beans with Walnut Sauce; both recipes from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano.

The pasta’s really quite delicious, though it’s by no means the kind of dish you can throw together on the fly. Caramelizing onions takes forever, yo! Luckily, the rest is super-easy: just cook the pasta and toss it in the skillet along with walnuts, veggie broth, and some basil, and you’re good to go.

I used a little more fusilli than the recipe calls for – a full pound versus ten ounces – so the dish didn’t come out quite as onion-y as Klein intended. Still yummy though.

As for the beans, sadly I was unable to find fresh beans anywhere (the refrigeration unit at our local Piggly Wiggly-esque grocery died, and they were out of fresh produce all week!), so I had to sub in canned. Which, as it turns out, wasn’t a total loss – I was able to microwave the beans, which is totally easier than cooking them in the stovetop. Just combine the beans with the sauce in a microwavable dish, cover, and nuke for four minutes. Done and done.

The walnut sauce is so ridiculously good that I might start using it on the regular: Pasta. Bagels. Salad. Pizza (duh!). Waffles, even. Word on the streets is that they can be savory too, yeah?