Caponata with Eggplant + Red Peppers

In the spirit of recipes I used to make, but haven’t made in awhile, I made this delicious Caponata recipe.  While not my Grandma’s recipe (which is AMAZING!), it’s very, very good – sweet and savory.  The original recipe calls for putting it on a sandwich and melting mozzarella with it in a panini.  In lieu of the cheese, we opted for making gluten-free rye toast, rubbed with garlic, and topped with the Caponata.  It’s the perfect light dinner and even tastes great with mini rice cakes (just found these and they’re delish!)IMG_4017.JPG

Caponata with Eggplant + Red Peppers

serves 6, more as a dip

adapted from this recipe

INGREDIENTS

3 tbsp olive oil

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 medium size eggplant, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 sweet onion, diced

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp capers, drained

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tsp sugar

sea salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and eggplant and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and oregano to the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Season, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed.

If serving with bread, toast or heat in the oven.  Once heated, use half a garlic clove and rub over the bread.  Top with caponata and enjoy!  You can also serve as a warm or cool dip with crackers.

Vegan Black Bean + Roasted Zucchini Enchiladas

Several years ago, I used to LOVE making (and eating) these Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Enchiladas.  Now that I don’t eat dairy or wheat, I finally figured out a way to enjoy the same great recipe, just with a few tweaks. I also finally found a great enchilada sauce, making this recipe one of the best I’ve made in a long time.  I will say there’s really no great vegan alternative for goat cheese, but even without that extra creamy layer, this is a great enchilada recipe, that I think even your dairy-loving friends will enjoy!

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Vegan Roasted Zucchini + Black Bean Enchiladas

adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

makes about 26 mini size enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

2 zucchini, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

1 1/4 tsp lemon pepper

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for brushing enchiladas with (about 1/2 tsp)

15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup Daiya shredded cheddar, plus Daiya Cheddar wedge hand grated for top of enchiladas

16 oz. Enchilada sauce (I really like Frontera)

24-26 Mission Street Size Corn tortillas

Cilantro, chopped finely for topping

Avocado, cubed for topping

Lime juice, fresh or bottled (I like Santa Cruz Organic)

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Preheat oven to 425.  In a medium sized baking sheet, lay out chopped zucchini.  With your hands toss with 2 tsp of olive oil and the lemon pepper.  Lay flat in a single layer and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Once done, let cool.  Reduce oven heat to 375.
  2. While the zucchini is roasting, in a medium mixing bowl, toss together the black beans and red onion.  Gently mix in 1/4 cup of the Daiya shredded cheddar.  Once the zucchini is cooled for about 5 minutes, mix in with the rest of the mixture.
  3. In a large baking dish (9×12) lightly greased with Canola oil*, pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Using a warmed griddle pan, carefully warm the tortillas one by one.  The process I like to use is after I warm a tortilla, I put about 3/4 tbsp of the filling on the tortilla and roll tightly, like a taquito.  Place it seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat until all tortillas are filled.  I got 26 when I made it last.  I also had about 1/2 of the bean mixture leftover.
  5. Once all the enchiladas are rolled, brush the tops of them with the remaining olive oil.
  6. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas to cover them.
  7. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of daiya cheddar shreds over the enchiladas.  Because they melt differently, I also grate some of the Daiya Cheddar wedge on top.
  8. Put enchiladas in the oven for 20 minutes.
  9. When enchiladas come out of the oven, squeeze a lime over the tops of the enchiladas. If using bottled lime juice (I like Santa Cruz Organic), I use a medicine dropper to drip it over the enchiladas.
  10. Serve warm, topped with cilantro and avocado.

*To grease the baking dish I spilled a little bit of canola oil in the dish, and then used a paper towel to spread it all over the dish.  Most of it gets soaked up in the paper towel, but the dish gets oiled a bit to make it less likely the enchiladas will stick to the pan.

A Few Good Recipe Cheats

I love making sauces and recipes from scratch.  The order and process that goes with it, is so therapeutic for me.  That said, I also love a good cheat – especially when it comes to sauces and baked goods.  I thought I’d share my latest set of favorites, and attempt to make your time in the kitchen a little easier too.  What are your favorites?

Dairy-Free Pesto

HOPE Kale Pesto Hummus

This tastes nothing like hummus, and everything like pesto.  It’s great as a dip with tortilla chips, if you want that spinach-artichoke dip taste – and even better as a pasta sauce.  We mixed 1/2 tbsp in for each serving of our favorite gluten-free pasta. (I’ve also heard their Sriracha Hummus is great)IMG_3784.JPG

 

Chocolate Birthday Cake (Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Nut-free)

King Arthur Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Mix + Minimalist Baker Chocolate Frosting

Celebrations can be tricky when catering to friends & family with mixed dietary restrictions, and if you’re like me, want to include everyone.  The King Arthur Gluten-free chocolate cake mix is SO good.  It makes great cupcakes and great cake.  I’ve been experimenting with it as a layer cake, with this amazing Vegan chocolate frosting recipe, and it’s really good.  The cake has baked egg in it, so the combination of cake + frosting won’t work for our vegan friends, but I imagine the cake mix that is part of the Minimalist Baker’s recipe is equally delicious, so you can have an entire vegan cake too if you want.

Cake mixKing Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

Frosting  (recipe below)

1 cup vegan butter, softened (I use Earth Balance soy-free buttery sticks)

2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (I use Enjoy Life)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

~1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk, if nuts are OK for your company – I’ve made both ways and it comes out tasting the same; my favorite brands are So Delicious boxed coconut milk and Califa Farms Almond Milk)

DIRECTIONS

With a hand mixer, or stand mixer, beat together frosting ingredients until light and fluffy, adding the powdered sugar in small amounts until you reach your desired consistency and sweetness.  I usually start with the butter, then slowly add the sugar and cocoa powder, followed by the melted chocolate and vanilla extract.  Once all beaten together, I add the coconut milk 1 tbsp at a time until it’s my desired consistency.IMG_3779.JPGIMG_3755.JPG

Chickpea, Cauliflower + Old Bay Burgers with Vegan Lemon Mayo

In an effort to make dinner more interesting, I recently browsed through some recipes on Pinterest and Instagram, and found a new (to me!) Vegan blog, The First Mess.  I literally want to make almost everything she posts.  These Chickpea veggie burgers caught my eye because they include Old Bay seasoning, which I rarely use, and steamed cauliflower is part of the base. I made the mixture in the morning, and instead of forming the patties and letting them chill an hour, I used a technique I picked up from other veggie burgers I’ve made, and just chilled the mixture in a container during the day, while I was at work.  Using an ice cream scoop, I made mini burgers and pan-fried them (with very little oil).  I got 4 times as many burgers as her recipe, and they also tasted pretty good!  I’m still not sure I love the flavor, but Scott thought they were great. Extra bonus – they’re kid-approved!

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Chickpea, Cauliflower + Old Bay Burgers with Lemon Mayo

adapted from The First Mess

makes 16 slider size burgers

BURGER ingredients
2 cups cauliflower florets, steamed until tender
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and rough chopped
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour
3 tbsp oat flour*
1/3 cup chopped chives

*you can make oat flour by grinding rolled oats up in the food processor

VEGAN LEMON MAYO ingredients

1/3 cup vegan mayo, like Hampton Creek Mayo-light

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp lemon juice

salt, pepper to taste

splash, white wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

After cauliflower is steamed, rinsed with cold water, and patted dry, place into a large food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Add garbanzo beans, garlic, Old Bay, olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice.  Pulse until everything is ground up, but you can still see some of the garbanzo bean pieces.  Turn out into a medium size mixing bowl, and stir in garbanzo flour and oat flour.  Then stir and combine in the chives.  Put in a covered container, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Heat a large nonstick pan on media-high heat, and add 2 tsp olive oil.  Using an ice cream scoop, form slider size patties and brown on each side.  About 4- 5 minutes on each side.  This will last for about 8 patties.  For next half of burgers, add 2 more tsp of olive oil and repeat until all are cooked.

Rest burgers on a plate lined with paper towels.

To make Lemon mayo, combine all ingredients together and mix well.  Adjust lemon juice and seasonings to taste.

Serve on a bun of your choice, with sliced tomato, lettuce, and red onion.

Blondies with Chocolate Frosting

My favorite cookies are from a Los Angeles-based baker, Coco Bakes.  When we go to the Farmer’s Market, and she’s there, it’s the ultimate treat for me.  Some of her recipes were recently featured in GOOP, and I’m so glad I tried this Blondie recipe – they are SO good. It’s amazing how just orange zest can flavor these perfectly.  Next time, I’ll make them in a bigger pan, because I think I’d like them thinner. These are sure to be a hit with your friends, and you can also keep this recipe for Passover (they’re gluten free & dairy free) – win-win!

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Blondies with Chocolate Frosting

adapted from CocoBakesLA via GOOP

serves about 20

BLONDIES

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut shortening*

1 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of 1 orange

2 eggs

1 ¾ cups almond flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1 cup pitted dates

¾ cups water

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ cup cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS

1. To make the blondies, preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch x 8-inch pan with parchment paper.  If you want to make them thinner, use a rectangular baking dish.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat together the shortening, coconut sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Then add the eggs, mixing to combine.

3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth batter forms.

4.  Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

5.  To make the frosting, soak the dates in warm water for at least 7 minutes.  Once soaked, put all frosting ingredients in a blender or a small food processor and blend until completely smooth.

*The original recipe calls for Coconut Shortening and I used a vegetable (palm oil) shortening, and that could also be why they turned out a bit more cake-like.

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Go-to Frittata

Tis the season where there’s a ton going on and it’s a challenge to cook dinner I’ll actually enjoy eating, especially after a busy work day and wishing someone could just bring me my own homemade cooking.  We hit the jackpot when I discovered this great frittata recipe from a cookbook, one of my favorite food bloggers, Phoebe Lapine, recommended.  Even Scott kept saying, he couldn’t believe how little time it took to make and tasted great.  (Also, who else rejoices when a frittata recipe doesn’t include milk or cream?!)  If you want make this meatless, just sub the sausage for mushrooms.

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Go-To Frittata

adapted from The Dude Diet

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

6 large eggs

1/2 tsp hot sauce of your choice (optional)

pinch of kosher salt

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 link sweet chicken sausage OR 4 oz. chopped mushrooms

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

 

  1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, hot sauce, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the broiler on high.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet (or castiron)*, over medium heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the mushrooms or sausage and cook for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggs are beginning to set.
  5. Place the skillet under the broiler.  Broil for 1-2 minutes** until the top of the frittata is puffed up and very lightly browned.
  6. Loosen the frittata from the pan with a spatula and slide it onto a cutting board. Slice in quarters (or eighths), and top with salsa and cilantro if you like.

*If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, finish the frittata on the stovetop.  Simply lower the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and cook until the frittata is completely set.

**For the frittata to cook completely, this took more like 6 minutes, checking in every 1-2 minutes to make sure it wasn’t burned.

Walnut + Chickpea Tacos w/Lime Aioli

This recipe is about as easy as it gets.  It’s practically no-cook, but you wouldn’t know it when eating the final product.  Scott was impressed with how similar the walnut and chickpea taco “meat” tasted in flavor and texture.  And, for it to be a win in the texture category, is my favorite kind of vegan win.  I don’t eat soy, so other meatless taco “meat” alternatives aren’t an option for us. However, I think once you make this recipe, you’ll hardly miss the other vegan options, or meat ones for that matter.  TBD how this tastes the next day, but I’m guessing it’s just as great as it did tonight.  Taco Tuesday, anyone?

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Chickpea + Walnut Tacos with Lime Aioli

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking

serves 4-6, makes about 10-12 tacos

INGREDIENTS

1 cup walnuts

1 cup garbanzo beans, drained

2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 tbsp cumin (or a little less for a milder flavor)

2 heaping tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegan low fat mayo

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

small corn tortillas

grape tomatoes

micro greens or green cabbage

avocado (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1.  In a small food processor, combine walnuts, garbanzo beans, coconut aminos, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Pulse until spices are well combined and texture is chunky (though parts may be smooth – that’s OK).  Pour contents into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vegan mayo and lime juice.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tortillas and toppings.
  4. Heat the taco “meat” in the microwave for 1 minute
  5. Spoon about 1 -1 1/2 tbsp of taco “meat” onto each tortilla.  Top with toppings you like, and finish each taco with a drizzle of the lime aioli.

Forest Bowl

Looking for something that feels like Fall, and also feels “healthy” after Thanksgiving? Look no further than this Forest Bowl.  The beauty of this dish assembled is reason enough to try it.  Admittedly, this is the kind of meal that takes awhile to prepare, but once you have the cooked ingredients, it’s really easy to take for lunch and/or make for a quick weeknight dinner.img_2329

Forest Bowl

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking

serves 4

INGREDIENTS – BOWL

1 cup quinoa, uncooked & rinsed

2 cups water

3 small sweet potatoes, diced

Wild arugula & chopped romaine

1/4 cup dried blueberries

2 tbsp chopped walnuts

2 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds

INGREDIENTS – BLUEBERRY BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

1/2 cup fresh or frozen & thawed (wild) blueberries

1/4 cup quality balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (I prefer agave)

Pinch of kosher salt

Dash of ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover; cook for 15 – 20 minutes.  Once done, the water should be evaporated and the quinoa tender. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. Steam the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes, until fork tender, while the quinoa cooks.
  3. While the quinoa and sweet potatoes cook, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor; blend for about 30 seconds on high until smooth.  Transfer to a small pitcher or measuring cup.
  4. You can serve this as one big bowl or individual bowls.  Either way, divide the bowl (see picture above for reference) so that one half has a handful of arugula, while the other top half has the sweet potato, with the quinoa below it.  Top with dried blueberries, walnuts and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Drizzle vinaigrette on top, 1 tbsp for each serving.

NOTE – For individual servings (like in a lunch box below), I like to use the following measurements – 1/3 -1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/3 cup sweet potato, 1/2 tbsp dried blueberries, 1/2 tbsp walnuts, 1/2 tbsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and a few handfuls of arugula or chopped romaine.

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Vegan Thanksgiving Sandwich

My (vegetarian) high school Spanish teacher, annually drew a very lifelike picture of a turkey on a platter, with a speech bubble “¡Salvame!” which was pretty much the end of my eating turkey at Thanksgiving.  And if opposites attract, wherever we go, a Thanksgiving Sandwich is without fail, Scott’s favorite to order if it’s on a menu.  When I recently saw a recipe for a vegan version, I jumped at the chance to make it.  Scott loved it (even without the turkey), and I could enjoy all the flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner, without the turkey.  The best part, it’s SUPER easy to assemble.

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Vegan Thanksgiving Sandwich

adapted from Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

serves 1

INGREDIENTS

2 slices bread (we use Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White) or 1/2 pita pocket

2 tsp hummus (store-bought is fine)

1 tsp cranberry sauce, store-bought (I like Nature’s Direction Organic)

2 tbsp Sweet Potato Mash

Leafy greens

chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toast the bread or pita
  2. Layer one side of the bread with the hummus, followed by the cranberry sauce, and then the sweet potato mash.
  3. Sprinkle with parsley and top with lettuce.
  4. Put the bread top on and enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato Mash

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious Thanksgiving side, this Sweet Potato Mash is it! The most tedious thing about the recipe is waiting for the sweet potatoes to cook – after that, this recipe is quite simple.  I was skeptical, because you don’t actually cook the vegetables in the mash with the sweet potato, but somehow it all comes together and is SO good – the texture and flavors are spot on.  I also like that it has some hummus mixed in, making it a little more hearty and savory for the vegetarian/vegan diner, who may not be eating turkey at Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I’m posting a recipe of a Thanksgiving Sandwich you can make with it too.  Bon apetit!

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Sweet Potato Mash

adapted from Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

Serves about 6

INGREDIENTS

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes

1 large carrot, chopped

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup garlic hummus, store-bought (I’ve used both a garlic and a garlic/chive hummus)

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp grade B maple syrup

pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  After washing the potatoes, poke a few holes in the potato using a fork.  Bake the sweet potato until sticky-sweet and very tender, about 55-60 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 200°F.
  2. Carefully take the sweet potato and cut it down the middle, to spoon out all the insides and place into a large mixing bowl*.
  3. Add  the rest of the ingredients to the bowl with the sweet potato, and mash together.  It will be a course texture.  Pour the mixture into an oven-safe serving bowl and warm in the oven until ready to serve.  You can also store covered in the refrigerator to use in other recipes.

*While you may want the potato to cool for a few minutes, don’t let it cool completely because the warmth of the potato will help soften the other vegetables in the mash