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Friday, September 27, 2013

Vegan 'Crab' Cakes

Tonight I started to come up with a recipe for no-meat balls to serve with some spaghetti. I started to fry up some of the balls, but once they were golden I realized that they were still soft. I decided to bake the fried ones, as well as the ones that I had not cooked yet, just to see which type would result in a better 'meatball' texture. After some time in the oven, the balls that were fried before baking had formed a cake shape and became crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The taste of this new creation was amazing! I immediately thought of crab cakes because of the look and texture.

This recipe is easy, vegan, and so delicious! The recipe is flexible enough that you could add other veggies, if desired.

RECIPE
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 medium carrots, well-washed
1 small onion, diced
1/4 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 c fine corn meal (make sure it is not extra fine)
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
Seasoning(garlic salt, paprika, black pepper). 

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven at 400 degrees F.

Roughly chop the carrots, put in a blender/food processor, blend until finely shredded, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Crumble the tofu into the bowl and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and flour. Season the mixture accordingly. Mix the ingredients well. 

For mini cakes, roll balls into meatball sized balls(as seen). For larger cakes, roll larger balls. Deep fry the balls, or fill a pan with oil and fry both sides, until golden. When done put on an ungreased baking sheet and pop them into the oven. After about 15-20 mins, when the bottom is darker and crispy, flip the cakes over and let the other side crisp up for another 10-15 minutes. When done, remove from oven, let cool, and serve. ENJOY!

TIPS

  • Serve on a bed of arugula, topped with a creamy thousand island type sauce and some cilantro.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lentil Carrot Soup

With the season transitioning from Summer to Fall, you may not realize it, but the foods start changing too. Soup season has arrived! During the Fall and Winter seasons, soups become more popular due to their warming and soothing properties. More pumpkin and other squash recipes start to pop up everywhere, and not to mention the desserts! This recipe is just the first of many to come for this lovely Fall season.


This soup recipe is super simple, vegan, and has only 110 calories in a cup!

RECIPE
4 large carrots
1 c dry lentils
3 1/2 c water
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
seasoning( liquid aminos, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika)

INSTRUCTIONS
Add all of the ingredients, except the seasoning, in a pot that is at least 2 quarts. Allow the ingredients to cook on medium heat for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Check the pot and stir every ten minutes to make sure the pot does not boil over. Once the lentils are cooked, empty the contents of the pot into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pot and season accordingly. Salt definitely enhances the flavor, but if you are worried about your sodium intake use liquid aminos. The seasonings can be as simple as just garlic powder and paprika. NOTE: For a thick, hearty soup use less water. For a thinner soup, add more water. Enjoy!

TIPS
  • Feel free to top the soup with herbs and spices. I topped the soup with some crumbled tofu and cilantro 
  • For a hearty meal, serve soup with some bread.
  • Experiment with other vegetable pairings for the lentils. Parsnips, beets, squash, pumpkin, etc.
  • Add 3 tbsp of ginger and some sriracha for a delightful asian twist!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vegan Blondies

I wanted to make a dessert that would complement the awesome dinner I had made, but realized yet again that I had hardly any baking ingredients. This is all how this wonderful "accident" came to be. I know that these blondies have the potential to be so much better if I had more ingredients, but considering my situation these turned out awesome!

This vegan sweet treat is very simple, requires few ingredients, and pairs perfectly with fruit or ice cream.

RECIPE
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c + 2 tbsp oil (this was all I had, but you can use melted vegan butter or coconut oil)
1/3 c milk alternative
2 tbsp raw agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt



INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking powder, and in a bowl. Add sugar, oil, milk alternative, agave/syrup, and vanilla. Mix until well blended. The batter will have this in between texture of cake and cookie dough. Transfer the batter into a baking dish, evenly cover the dish with the batter, and allow it to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow the blondies to cool and enjoy!

TIPS
  • Best served warm.
  • Serve a slice of blondie underneath a scoop of your favorite ice cream
  • Serve the blondie with a blueberry/strawberry compote (I took fresh berries and cooked them down in a pan with a little water and a tad bit of sweetener).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cauliflower Hot Wings

Cauliflower is such an amazing, versatile vegetable. I have made rice, mashed potatoes, pizza crust, and even wings! I made some wings from cauliflower a while ago with  friend and was shocked at how amazing they were. The other day I was craving those wings and decided to put together a batch.

This recipe is easy, scrumptious, and vegan. You can use favorite hot wing sauce, BBQ sauce, or any sauce for that matter.


RECIPE
1 head of cauliflower 
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/3 c cold water
1 1/2 c your favorite sauce
1 tbsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt or garlic salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a greased baking sheet and set aside. Cut the stem from the cauliflower, wash, pat dry, and cut into wing sized pieces. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix in cold water. Make sure to use a blender to smooth out the batter. 

Dip cauliflower pieces in the batter, make sure that they are well coated (shake off excess batter), and place on the baking sheet. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden and puffy.

Remove the cauliflower pieces from the oven and coat each piece in the sauce that you have picked out (I used buffalo wing sauce and added black pepper). Remember to shake off any excess sauce. Place the wings back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When done, let the wings cool and enjoy.

TIPS

  • Serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks and ranch/blue cheese dressing 


  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vegetarian "Fish" Tacos

The inspiration for this recipe is the fact that I have never had a fish taco, even when I did eat meat. I love cabbage AND tacos, so I had to figure out some sort of substitute. 

This recipe is healthy, light, and delicious. Due to oven "frying", rather than deep frying, the battered "fish" is healthy and uses little to no oil. This recipe can easily be veganized (just use vegan sauces)!


RECIPE
Battered "Fish"
1 small zucchini squash(approximately 7 inches)
3/4 c fine corn meal
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cold water
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic salt

Taco Fixings
8 small corn tortillas
1 c cabbage, shredded(red or green)
1/3 c carrots, shredded
1/2 small onion, finely sliced or diced
1/4 c mayo, light mayo, or Veganaise
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar or agave nectar
seasoning (garlic salt, pepper, etc.)
tartar sauce or thousand island dressing, optional
cilantro, as much as you desire
lime slices, optional 

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

To prepare the battered "fish", cut the zucchini in half width-wise and cut each half into halves length-wise. Take one of the four halves and cut into fourths length wise, then do this to the other three portions. Once sliced, the pieces need to be breaded and battered. Place the corn meal into a bowl. Combine the flour, baking powder, and garlic salt into a separate bowl. Mix well, add the ice cold water, and mix well again. Take a stick of zucchini, dip into cornmeal, dip into batter until covered, then dip into cornmeal one last time. Place the piece on a greased baking sheet, and repeat with the fifteen other pieces. Allow the battered "fish" to get golden and crispy in the oven (about 20-30 minutes).

While the oven is going, it is time to prepare the cabbage slaw. Add cabbage, carrots, and onions into a bowl and combine well. In a small container combine mayo, vinegar, sweetener, seasoning  and stir until well blended. Loosen up the sauce with a little water. Add just enough water to thin the sauce out, but not too much that the sauce becomes watery. Pour the sauce onto the cabbage mixture, incorporate the sauce in thoroughly, and let it sit to soak up the flavors.

Once finished, remove the zucchini from the oven and set on the counter. Start to heat up a pan on medium-high heat for the corn tortillas. The tortillas should be flipped back and forth until they soften up. Now, you are ready for taco assembly.

For each taco, lay a tortilla flat on a plate, place two pieces of battered "fish", a few dabs of tartar sauce or thousand island on top(if desired), scatter cilantro pieces, spoon on about two spoonfuls of cabbage slaw, and squeeze some lime juice over the finished product. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!  

TIPS

  • If you would like a less-healthier version, once the zucchini pieces are breaded and battered you can fry them in oil instead of oven frying.
  • For variation, the battered "fish" could be eggplant, sweet potato, or any other starchy vegetable you think could work (leafy and watery veggies would not work).    


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Baked Seasoned Cornmeal Encrusted Tofu

This is a very simple recipe for that block of tofu you have just hanging around. If you have never had tofu before, or just curious, than this recipe is easy enough to try out.

RECIPE
1 pkg extra firm tofu, pressed 
1/2 c coarse cornmeal
combination of seasoning (I used paprika, garlic salt, and black pepper)

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make sure that the tofu is pressed. This means that the excess liquid is pressed out of the tofu. To do this, open the package, drain the liquid, and place the tofu into a sealed zipped locked bag. I put the tofu in the fridge and placed a container of some beans I was soaking on top of the tofu. You can use anything heavy enough to press the tofu. Once the excess liquid has been pressed out, you are ready to encrust the tofu.

Add the cornmeal and seasoning into a bowl. Make sure the cornmeal is very well seasoned because the tofu does not have much flavor. Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/8" thick and cover each slice in the mixture. Place tofu on a greased baking sheet and put in oven. Bake in the oven for twenty minutes, flip each piece, then bake for a little longer. That is it...ENJOY!

  
TIPS
  • Serve with a sauce for dipping for a quick snack.
  • Cut up the slices into cubes to use as a topping for salads.
  • For a healthy Soul Food meal, serve the tofu with beans and rice, sweet potatoes, and steamed cabbage.

Egg-Free Black and White Cheesecake Bars (Vegan version available)

I wanted to use the silken tofu I had in my fridge for a dessert, but was not really sure what to make. I had only ever made smoothies with silken tofu, so I decide to do some research on the interwebs. I came across everything from pies to puddings, but did not find anything that would satisfy my craving in the moment. Additionally, most of the recipes would require me to go shopping for ingredients I did not have. Using what I already had at home, I came up with this recipe for egg-free cheesecake bars.

RECIPE
Crust
1 box Graham cracker crumbs (or take Graham crackers and crush them into crumbs)
1 stick butter, melted (for vegan version, use 1/2 c of a non-dairy margarine like Earth Balance)
1/4 c agave nectar

Filling
2 pkg 12oz silken tofu, soft
2 pkg 8oz low fat cream cheese (for vegan version, use non-dairy cream cheese like Tofutti)
1 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the Trader Joe's brand, about half a bag)
1 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, mix together the Graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sweetener. Pat down the crust into a baking sheet (make sure the sheet has some depth). The bigger the baking sheet, the thinner the bars will be.  

For the filling, blend tofu and cream cheese, then transfer to a mixing bowl and add white sugar. Transfer half of the mixture into another mixing bowl. For the "White" portion of the bars, add vanilla and brown sugar to one half of the mixture. 

For the "Black" portion of the bars, you will need to melt the chocolate chips. Bring a cup of water in a saucepan  add the chocolate chips to a heat-resistant bowl (glass Pyrex or metal mixing bowl), and place the bowl on the sauce pan. Make sure the bowl has a greater diameter than the saucepan so it does not fall in. Constantly stir the chocolate chips over the heated water until melted. Make sure that water DOES NOT mix with the melted chocolate because it WILL ruin the chocolate. Add the melted chocolate to the other half of the cream mixture.

Now comes the layering! Take the "Black" mixture and spread evenly over the crust using a spatula. Once covered, do the same with the "White" mixture. Make sure the layers DO NOT MIX! Pop this into the oven and let bake for 30 minutes or so. When the top layer forms cracks, the bars are finished. Take the bars out of the oven and let chill. Once cooled, slice the cheesecake into bars, store in a freezer safe container, and freeze. Once the bars are frozen, feel free to enjoy!


TIPS
For Coconut Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars, spread peanut butter on slices of the cheesecake bars and top with toasted sweetened coconut flakes. NOTE: To toast flakes, empty the amount desired into a pan that has been heating on the stove at medium heat. constantly stir the flakes until they are evenly golden and toasty.   




Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thin Vegan Banana Pancakes (Crêpes)

Good Morning, fellow readers! This morning I woke up craving something sweet and filling. That is when I remembered the very, very ripe banana that has been hanging out in my kitchen. As the list of the few ingredients in my pantry ran through my head, that is when it hit me...some delicious banana crêpes were definitely in order.

This recipe is simple, requires few ingredients, and animal-free. YAY! The best part is that no syrup is needed because the thin pancakes have enough flavor on there own. Regardless, feel free to dress them up as you please.

RECIPE
1 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup milk alternative, or even water (too lessen calories)
1 ripe banana
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS
First things first, mash up that ripe banana with a fork in a separate bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the mashed banana, liquid, salt to the dry mixture and mix until smooth.
You will need a medium sized, non-stick sauté pan (similar to that pictured). Heat up the pan at medium heat and spray some PAM to cover it (if you do not have PAM, put a little oil on a paper towel and wipe the pan with it). Add about 3/8 cup of the batter into the pan, grab the pan, and make sure the batter fully covers the bottom of the pan by moving around the pan to make sure every niche is covered.

Little holes will start to form, as the number increases that means that it is time to flip. Take your spatula, loosen up the edges, and when you feel comfortable...flip it! It should not take more than two minutes for the other side to cook. You can use your spatula to peak underneath.

When it is done, place it on a plate, and do it all over again. REMEMBER to spray with PAM or grease with your oil-dipped paper towel before putting batter into the pan.

This recipe will make approximately 7 crêpes.

TIPS

  • For a sinfully sweet dessert, spread a thin layer of Nutella, roll up the crêpe, and ENJOY!  
  • For savory vegan crêpes a few adjustments need to be made. Omit banana and vanilla, and lessen the amount of sugar to 1 tsp. Use an original flavored milk alternative, and add about 1/4 tsp baking powder. Top with cheese, eat with veggies, use them however you want.        



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Garlic White Bean "Alfredo" Sauce

While I was sitting there one morning enjoying some baked beans, something came over me. No, not flatulence. The smooth, almost creamy, texture of the navy beans struck me with inspiration. All of the sudden, the idea of translating this creaminess into a sauce dawned on me. I asked myself, "What kind of sauce is smooth, creamy, and white?" The answer was simple: Alfredo.

Here is an original recipe for Garlic White Bean "Alfredo" Sauce. This is a much healthier alternative to Alfredo sauce and on the plus side it is vegan. 



RECIPE
1 can of white beans, drained (Cannellini, Navy, etc)
1/2 onion, diced (red, white, or yellow)
1 cup original flavored milk alternative, vegetarian broth, or water
1 tbsp minced garlic (approx. 5 cloves)
seasoning of choice (I used garlic salt and black pepper)

INSTRUCTIONS
In a blender combine garlic, beans, and liquid. Blend ingredients until the consistency is very smooth and set aside. Sauté onions in a heated pan with a little oil or a couple sprays of PAM. When softened, add the sauce, and let simmer on low while it is being seasoned. Constantly stir until the sauce thickens to your liking (more time on the stove allows for more liquid to evaporate causing the sauce to thicken). Serve over cooked pasta, vegetables, or whatever your healthy heart desires. 

TIPS
  • For a light, filling meal serve the sauce on your favorite pasta/ pasta alternative, then top with fresh diced tomatoes and green onions.
  • Add your favorite brand of meatless chicken strips, for a healthier alternative to Chicken Alfredo.
  • Add vegetarian/vegan bacon for a less-artery-clogging version of Carbonara sauce.