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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Trumpet Mushroom Chowder

This was my first time attempting to make vegan chowder, and boy was it successful! The rich creaminess of the cashews, sweetness of the roasted sweet potatoes, the brightness of the thyme, and earthiness of the dark dried mushrooms make this soup an explosion of flavors. Trust me, those that eat this will not be able to tell that this dish is based on cashews!

This cholesterol-free, dairy-free, gluten-free chowder is easy and worth the time put into the recipe. Just remember, seasoning is the key to this wonderful concoction.


RECIPE
12 oz raw cashews (unsalted and NOT roasted) 
1 large sweet potato(peel left on for more nutrients), cubed and tossed with a little oil and salt. 
4 oz MarxFoods.com's dried black trumpet mushrooms
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 c soy creamer
1 tbsp vegan butter (or butter for the non-vegans)
1 1/2 tbsp Bragg's liquid aminos, or soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
seasoning (1 tsp thyme, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tsp pepper)
water, to thin out chowder
imitation bacon bits, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Place the raw cashews in a container and cover with hot water (just enough water to cover the cashews) At the same time, soak the mushrooms in a small bowl hot water for 30 minutes as well. While waiting for the ingredients to soak, roast the sweet potatoes on a greased baking sheet for 25 minutes and remove when finished.

Remove the mushrooms from liquid and chop finely. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a coffee filter and handheld strainer. Place the strained liquid in a blender with the cashews and its soaking liquid (at least 4 cups total). Blend on high until very smooth and creamy.


Place a saucepan (at least two quarts) on medium-high heat. Add butter, onion, mushrooms, and salt and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the carrots. After a few minutes, turn down the heat to low-medium. Add the creamy cashew mixture, Bragg's, and creamer. Season very well. Stir constantly as the soup thickens, and thin out to desired consistency with water. Cook until the carrots are tender and then add the sweet potatoes. Once cooled to a consumable temperature, serve, and top with bacon bits.  


TIPS


  • Add any type of vegetable you would love to your chowder.
  • If you do not like sweet potatoes, then feel free to roast any kind of potato.
  • Toppings for the soup can include fresh herbs, green onions, etc.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Panko Breaded Eggplant

I always had a huge dislike for eggplant, that was until I had eggplant parmesan. I love how soft the eggplant becomes and how crunchy the outside stays. I decided to experiment with breaded eggplant. I tested out both cornmeal and Panko breadcrumbs and personally choose the latter, but it is all about preference.

This recipe makes a great base for eggplant parmesan! Whether you serve this with pasta or use this in a sandwich, your meal will be comprised of delicious eggplant goodness!

RECIPE
1 large eggplant
4 c Panko breadcrumbs or cornmeal (seasoned with 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil and 1 tbsp garlic powder)
1 1/4 c cold water
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder


Sauce
roma tomatoes, diced (or 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 small onion
1/2 c tomato paste
1/2 c water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, etc)

INSTRUCTIONS
Slice eggplant into 1/4" slices. Mix flour, baking soda, seasonings, and water in a bowl. Place seasoned breading in a separate, shallow dish. Dip slice in wet mixture, then dry breading. Once the slices have been breaded, prepare your pan for shallow frying.

Heat a pan at medium heat with oil. Do not fill the pan. Instead, have enough oil to fill only a quarter of the pan. Shallow fry the slices until golden on each side and soft in the middle. Place finished slices on paper towels or stale slices of bread in a strainer, in order to remove excess oil. 

For the sauce, combine all the ingredients into a saucepan on medium heat. Season to your liking. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. Once at the desired consistency, serve with breaded eggplant slices. ENJOY!

TIPS

  • Serve with pasta for a filling meal
  • Use slices in a sandwich for a quick lunch
  • Bake the slices in the oven at 450 degrees F until the eggplant is soft, for a healthier version of this recipe
  • Layer slices with cheese (or vegan cheese) and sauce for eggplant parmesan. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vegan Cinnamon Roll Casserole

My forte is definitely not in baking. I do not know what it is, but when I bake, things just do not come out as I had planned. So lately, I have decided to experiment more with baking so that I can develop my skills. The other day I was craving cinnamon rolls, but wanted to put some sort of twist on it. That is when it hit me....LAYERS! Layers of sweet dough and cinnamon sugar topped with a cream "cheese" icing. MMMMMMM!

This is a vegan twist on cinnamon rolls. Get ready for an easy, scrumptious dessert recipe!


RECIPE
Dough
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c soymilk (or any milk alternative)
1/3 c + 1 tbsp oil (vegetable, coconut, etc.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Yeast
1 packet yeast
1/2 c warm water
1 tsp sugar

Filling
1 c sugar
1/8 c cinnamon powder

Icing
8 oz cream cheese alternative (or cream cheese for non-vegans)
1/4 c soymilk (or milk alternative)
1/8 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
Prepare the yeast by mixing the contents of the packet, water, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.


To prepare the dough, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Once mixed well, add the soymilk, oil, vanilla, and yeast mixture. Make sure to mix all the ingredients well, then use hands to form well mixed dough into a ball. Place the dough in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap for one hour. 

Prepare the cinnamon sugar by simply combining the cinnamon and sugar.

When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and divide the dough into four even parts. On a clean, flat, floured surface roll out one portion of the dough to fit the size of your casserole dish. Place the rolled out dough into your greased dish. Spread some oil on the dough and top with as much cinnamon sugar as you want! Repeat the steps until you have completed the last layer. Place the casserole, covered with foil, in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and allow to bake for ten more minutes, or until a knife comes out clean after inserting. When done, allow to cool.

To make the icing, combine all the ingredients in a blender (add more or less sugar depending on your preference) and blend until smooth. Once the casserole has cooled, serve a slice and top with icing. Enjoy!  

TIPS

  • Add raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips to the filling for  variation.
  • Add a ripe banana to the icing for a creamy banana icing.