I Blessed The Rains Down In Africa

These last few days have been gray, rainy, and chilly. I guess fall is officially here. It’s been multiple days now and when that happens I get in the mood for soups and stews. There’s nothing like a good hearty stew to warm you up on a cold crappy day. I picked this one from Plant Pure Nation because it sounded really really really good and luckily we had most of the ingredients. I am so happy I made it. It was really easy to prepare, cooked in the crock pot so there was nothing the cooking aspect either, and tasted absolutely amazing. It’s full of great veggies and really has a ton of flavor from the coconut, curry, and peanut butter. I served this bad boy with a big chunk of french bread and a glass of Chardonnay and boy oh boy did it hit the spot. Here is the recipe from the cook book with my slight adaptations.

Creamy African Stew

2 onions, sliced into half rings

1 carrot, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

2 tsp minced garlic

2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes

1 cup low sodium vegetable stock

one 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 Tbs curry powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 cup all-natural peanut butter (I didn’t go to a specialty store and used 90% peanuts instead of 100% and it didn’t make a difference to me)

1 cup coconut milk (they called for lite, I used regular)

one 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 cups chopped frozen spinach

This is the original directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a pot and cook over high heat until bubbly, 10-15 minutes
  2. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Under hints from Kim she suggested making it in a slow cooker which is what I did because it’s easier and I love when a stew cooks for multiple hours for all the flavors to really come together.

I put all ingredients into my crock pot and cooked on high for 3 hours, then turned it to low for another hour or so until the wife got home from work. By far one of my new favorite stews.

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Again this recipe was taken from Plant Pure Nation by Kim Campbell

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Forget the “Blue Box Blues”

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We all grew up on that amazing fake taste of Kraft mac and cheese but as you become an adult you realize how much better homemade is. There is a lot you can do and tons of variations to make amazing cheese sauces to top your favorite pasta. This is the first recipe we made from my new favorite cook book “The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook” by Kim Campbell. This recipe uses Butternut Squash and OMG I think this is my new favorite way to make mac and cheese. The recipe only uses half a squash so we made it twice last week and decided to do it two ways. The first we stayed true to the full recipe and made baked mac and cheese. The second time it was after a work day and I wanted to save some time so rather than baking it I just tossed the pasta in the cheese sauce and used shells which I like because they hold in extra sauce. Both were awesome and I encourage everyone to try this. You can pick your favorite way or do what we did and make it both. You can never have too much mac and cheese in a given week.

Macaroni and No Cheese

1 cup cooked and mashed butternut squash

1/4 cup raw cashews

1 1/2 cups nondairy milk

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

12 ounces macaroni noodles

1 cup peas

1/2 panko bread crumbs

Hints: using frozen butternut squash is a time saver however if you’re like us and prefer fresh then allow yourself time to bake (40 minutes)

If you do not have a high powered blender, presoak your cashews for a few hours or boil for 15-20 minutes to soften

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place cooked squash, cashews, milk, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until thickened, if you prefer thinner add water.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions
  5. Combine the pasta, sauce, and peas in a casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  6. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

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If you are skipping the baking step, simply add your cooked pasta to the sauce in the saucepan and toss to coat.

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Enjoy!

-Chef Drew

Recipe brought to you by this amazing plant based book and documentary

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When The Moon Hits Your Eye…PIZZA. I made pizza.

So I was looking for a vegan blue cheese recipe yesterday and stumbled across a recipe for buffalo cauliflower wings and vegan blue cheese.  I’ve seen plenty of recipes for buffalo cauliflower wings, but we haven’t tried any yet.  I thought, why not put it on a pizza with the blue “cheese”!

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The original recipe for the “wings” can be found here.  Also, the dough was packaged pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. We looooove their pizza dough! I used the whole wheat variety for this pizza.

On to the pizza…

INGREDIENTS

For the Wings:

1 Head Cauliflower (I used a pre-cut package from Target’s Archer Farms line)

1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

3 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

1 Cup Frank’s Red Hot (Original)

2 Tablespoons Earth Balance

For the Blue Cheese:

1 Cup Just Mayo

1/4 Block of Extra Firm Tofu (drained)

1 Teaspoon Tahini

Splash of Lemon Juice

Splash of Rice Vinegar

Dash of Garlic Powder

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

While the oven is heating, cut your head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.  Even though mine was pre-cut, I still broke mine up into smaller pieces than I would to make “wings”. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, flour, and garlic powder.  This batter should end up fairly thick, like pancake batter.  If yours is too runny, add a little more flour. Put the cauliflower pieces in the bowl and coat with the batter, I used my hands for this.

Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and transfer the battered cauliflower pieces. Be careful you don’t get to much extra batter in the dish. (It is not fun to pick out the hot pieces later!) Bake for 18 minutes.

While the cauliflower is baking, make your hot sauce and blue cheese.

For the hot sauce, melt the Earth Balance in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat.  After the butter has melted, add the hot sauce and stir.  I kept my sauce on low as I made the blue cheese, stirring periodically with a whisk.

In a medium bowl, mix the Just Mayo with tahini, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and garlic powder. Taste for “tang” and adjust to your liking.  Once you have the flavor down, crumble the drained tofu and mix again.  The tofu gives it that blue cheese texture!

After the cauliflower finishes its first round baking, remove it from the oven so you can add the hot sauce! Transfer the battered cauliflower pieces to a bowl and pour on the hot sauce. Mix it well so all the pieces are coated. I used parchment paper when I baked my cauliflower so I was able to toss the used paper and put the cauliflower back in the same dish. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

While the cauliflower is finishing, prepare your pizza dough (or skip this step and use a pre-baked crust.) We roll ours out on a floured surface and put on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. When the cauliflower is done with it’s second round of baking, adjust your oven temperature according to the directions on your pizza dough/crust.  If it’s raw, I suggest pre-baking it most of the way before topping the pizza.

Once your crust is ready and the cauliflower has finished baking, assemble your pizza! I put a thin layer of the hot sauce from the bottom of the baking dish on the crust first. (Since there was no raw chicken in this recipe there is no worries about germs.) Then top it with a layer of the cauliflower and blue cheese on top.  Since you’re using a ready-to-use crust or pre-baked dough, you only need to pop it in the oven for a few minutes to heat it thoroughly. Enjoy!

Melissa

Why cheat just because it’s a holiday….

A lot of people use the excuse that it’s a holiday to cheat. Summer holidays are always hard because everyone wants to enjoy BBQ or have a cookout. Becoming vegan has been a little bit of a struggle particularly with the cookout category. I love hotdogs and hamburgers but let’s face it, the vegan options at the grocery store are still terribly processed and bad for you. So how do you enjoy cookout food and still eat healthy food? The answer is taking some chances and venturing to make your own. I made a great Labor Day feast this weekend by taking taking some risks and learning some more great new tricks. I was not disappointed at all by the outcomes. Our menu consisted of Mac salad, baked beans, and hotdogs (or in this case carrot dogs.) An entirely plant based meal and had me thinking I was enjoying all the cookout foods I used to, this time a lot healthier and with no meat or dairy.

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Carrot Dogs:

8 large carrots

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbs Liquid smoke

1 Tbs canola oil

8 gluten free hotdog buns

  1. Peel the carrots, cut off ends and cut them to bun length. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the carrots until the are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain them and run them under cool water to stop the cooking.
  2. In an air tight storage container, mix the soy sauce, water, vinegar, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Marinate the carrots in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove the carrots from the marinade and arrange them in the skillet in a single layer. Add a few spoons of the marinade and cook until they begin to caramelize. Rotate often.
  4. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.

My toppings were Red Onion Sauce and Pickle Relish

Red Onion Sauce:

1 cup water

1 tsp corn starch

3/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbs brown sugar

1 tsp hot sauce

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs canola oil

2 large onions thinly sliced

1 tsp garlic powder

  1. In a bowl combine the corn starch and water. Whisk until it’s smooth
  2. Add in the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and hot sauce
  3. Mix in the cinnamon, chili powder, salt, pepper. Whisk until smooth
  4. In a large skillet, heat the oi over medium high heat
  5. Add the onions to the skillet. Add the garlic
  6. Cook the onions until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes
  7. Add the sauce to the pan and toss to coat
  8. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the onions are tender, about 25 minutes

Pickle Relish:

1 large cucumber

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 cup cane sugar

2 tsp salt

1 green bell pepper

1 small white onion

  1. Trim the ends of the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, seed, and finely chop.
  2. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the cucumber and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until it is just starting to lose color and is tender but still crunchy.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the cucumber out of the vinegar and set aside. Add the mustard seeds and coriander seeds to the vinegar and bring back to a boil. Stir in the sugar and salt and reduce heat to simmering.
  4. Finely chop the pepper and onion. Mix with the cooked cucumber. Pour the vinegar over the vegetables and stir to combine.

Vegan Macaroni Salad:

1 pound of your favorite pasta

1/4 cup iced celery

1/4 cup minced onion

2 carrots, shredded and chopped. (I used 1 yellow and 1 purple for color)

Vegan Mayo (recipe to follow)

1 Tbs mustard

1 1/2 tsp cane sugar

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool off.
  2. In a large bowl add pasta, celery, onion, and carrots.
  3. Mix in mayo, sugar, salt and pepper

Vegan Mayo:

1/2 cup soy or almond mild (unsweetened)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground mustard

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp agave

1 cup canola oil

  1. Place milk, sea salt, ground mustard, garlic powder, vinegar, and agave in a food processor. Place lid on and turn to slow.
  2. Take the middle part of the lid out while blending and slowly pour in oil.
  3. Place lid back on and blend until thick and creamy.
  4. Allow to sit over night

Slow cooker baked beans:

1 lb dried beans

1 large onion finely diced

1 cup water

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (if you care make sure it is a vegetarian version)

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

  1. The night before, soak beans with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak overnight
  2. In the morning, mix together all ingredients except beans and onion.
  3. In the bottom of your slow cooker layer the diced onion then top with beans.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the beans then add up to an additional 3 cups of water until the tops of the beans are just submerged.
  5. Cook the beans on low for 12 hours or on high for 6-8.

That way my meal and I loved it. If your feeling adventurous I suggest trying one or all of these. Enjoy!

-Chef Drew

One word……Brinner, ’nuff said!

In the words of the great Turk Turkleton, “It’s kind of hard to beat brinner.” You all know brinner, breakfast for dinner. Whoever thought up this idea was a genius. The unfortunate thing about breakfast food is they all seem to focus around meat and eggs, which as a vegan can be difficult to replace. I have found some great recipes and after some experimentation am learning how to make some great things. This is my take on the classic chicken and waffles. Now vegan chicken is typically built around tofu as the base. If you’re not one to experiment with tofu I would still highly recommend making these sweet potato waffles with the hot sauce syrup. They are absolutely the best thing you will ever have.

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Fried Tofu Chicken with Sweet Potato Waffles and Franks Syrup

The Fried Tofu

1 package hard tofu, frozen, thawed, drained and pressed

3 cups almond milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

vegetable or coconut oil for frying

Batter

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 cup of the almond milk used to marinate the tofu

Seasoned Flour

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp celery salt

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp oregano

To make

  1. Whisk the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside to thicken. Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces and submerge them into the milk. Marinate for 2-3 hours, or longer if you have the time.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the batter in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the ingredients for the seasoned flour in a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat about a cup of vegetable oil in a fry pan. Dip the tofu in the batter coating it liberally. Then coat in the seasoned flour and drop into the hot oil. Cook for a few minutes and then turn over to cook both sides. Remove and drain.

The Waffles

1 1/2 cups pealed and cubed sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp flax seed soaked in water

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup vegan butter, melted

vegetable oil for waffle iron

To make

  1. Boil Sweet potatoes for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Mash cooked potatoes and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  3. In another bowl combine the sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, and butter. Stir sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture and thoroughly combine. Stir in flax seed. The batter will be thick. Place batter onto a preheated, oiled waffle iron and cook until lightly browned.

Franks Maple Syrup

1 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup Franks Red Hot

Mix in pot and heat until warm

Batter makes 3 Belgian Waffles

Top each waffle with 2 chicken pieces and drizzle with syrup

Enjoy!

-Chef Drew

Who’s ever heard of a Greek vegan?

I know I never have. A lot of Greek foods and flavors are centered around meat. Growing up Greek food was one of my favorite culinary cultures. We used to always go to our local Greek fest every summer and I have a lot of great memories of it. And let’s face it is there anything better than a fine Greek restaurant? Nope there isn’t. Last night I really didn’t have a plan for dinner and with our work schedules I knew I wanted something fairly quick and easy to put together but with a lot of great flavors. I knew what we had in the fridge and started thinking of ideas. Who knew that I’d settle on vegan eggplant gyros? I think I found a new favorite here.

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Vegan Eggplant Gyros with Hummus Sauce

1 very large eggplant, cubed

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp Oregano

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

salt/pepper

1 large tomato, sliced

1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 cup cucumber, chopped

4 pita flatbreads

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place the eggplant in a large ziplock bag. Add oil, close and toss to coat. Add oregano, paprika, and nutritional yeast. Close, toss to coat.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread out eggplant. Bake for 30 minutes until soft.

While roasting, make hummus sauce and marinade onions in vinegar (drain before serving)

Hummus Sauce

2 cans lima beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 lime juiced

1 clove garlic chopped

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 large lemon juiced

2 tsp dried dill

Cook lima beans with 1/2 cup water for 6 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, let stand for 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Puree lima beans with oil, lime juice, and garlic in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and add mint. Blend to combine.

Add 1/3 cup of the hummus to a bowl with the lemon juice and dill. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. If lemon taste is too strong, add more hummus to taste.

Take pita, spread hummus sauce, top with tomato, onion, cucumber and eggplant.

Enjoy!