Chilled Creamy Corn Soup

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This might be my new favorite soup. It’s creamy, it’s corny and it’s so summery! I like it chilled but it is great right off the stove too. And get this – there is  nothing in it to thicken it up except for corn.

No potoates.
No cashew cream.
No soy creamer.
Just corn.

A friend of mine shared that if you grate corn on a box grater, you can capture all of the corn’s natural milk. Cook it up with some onions and garlic and you have the easiest and best corn soup ever.

It’s a little messy but if you use the biggest bowl you have and grate the corn on the grater in the bowl, it will be fine!

Makes about 4 servings

4 ears of corn
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups filtered water
Pinch of salt
Avocado and tomatoes, for garnish
Fresh pepper, garnish

Set your box grater in a big bowl. Cut the cobs in half and then cut a small piece for garnish. This is optional!

Grate the corn down to the cobs. (Save the cobs for homemade veg stock!)

Rough chop the onion and add to a soup pot. Add a few tablespoons of water and sauté until just softening. Press the garlic into the onions and stir around, cooking until fragrant.

Add the corn and all of the milk and pulp into the pot. Add the water and a pinch of salt.

Reduce the heat and cook for 7 to 10 minutes so the flavors have time to meld.

Carefully pour the soup into the Vitamix (or blender, or use a hand blender) and blend until combined very well. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Serve chilled or reheat when ready to serve. Garnish with the extra piece of corn, avocados, tomatoes and/or fresh pepper. Enjoy!

Mini Chickpea Quiches (or Frittatas)

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I’ve been trying to work out a quiche (aka frittata) recipe for a long time. I started with tofu but didn’t like that at all. Then I tried cashew chz. That didn’t really hold together although the result was delicious anyway.

And then I read “A Plant-Based Life” by Micaela Karlsen. In that book, there is a recipe for a Florentine Frittata using chickpeas as the base. I changed up the recipe a bit but it’s the idea of the chickpeas as the base that is brilliant.

So, here is my version which is technically called a frittata because it is a crustless quiche. But personally, I am going to keep calling these mini quiches!

I like to make these in cupcake form. The original recipe uses a pie plate, but I think this is more fun and easier to serve, especially for a party. Also, this is just a template. Try any flavors you like for seasoning. And I am already tinkering and trying these with zucchini and broccoli.

Makes 12 mini quiches using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scooper

1 overflowing cup cooked chickpeas (or 1 can of chickpeas, drained)
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 tablespoon chickpea miso
1/2 cup diced onion, about 1/2 a regular size onion
1/2 cup diced mixed bell peppers or whatever color you have on hand, about 1/2 a pepper
1/2 cup packed frozen spinach, defrosted and drained *
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, a pinch
3 or 4 small Roma tomatoes or 1 big tomato about the size of a cupcake, for topping
Nutritional yeast (Nooch), for sprinkling
1/2 to 1 whole lemon, for serving

*Prep the spinach beforehand according to the bag/box.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Blend the chickpeas, flax and miso in the food processor. Process until the chickpeas come together and are no longer crumbly. Think paste.

Turn out into a mixing bowl. Add the spinach and mix well.

Dice the onion and peppers and add to the bowl. Add the garlic powder and a pinch of salt and mix until completely combined.

Scoop the mixture into each cupcake cup and then press them flattish and to the edges.

Slice the tomato(s) and place a slice (or two) on top of each mini quiche. Sprinkle nooch on top of each one and bake for 35 minutes.

Let the quiches cool for 10 minutes or so to set. Gently lift them out of the cupcake tin and plate.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze just a bit of fresh juice over top of each mini quiche just before serving. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Gratin

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Cauliflower is the new kale! Everything cauliflower is happening all over the vegan world and this is my new go-to cauli dish. It was accidental but it is fantastic and so maybe it will become your go-to too.

I was trying to make cauliflower wings but it didn’t work out. The hot sauce we used was too spicy and so I ended up diluting it with cashew cream. And this recipe was born. So, I’m still working on my own wings recipe but until then…

1 small head of cauliflower
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup filtered water
A few shakes each of onion powder and garlic powder
1 cup cashew milk *
A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
Paprika, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.

Whisk the chickpea flour, water and onion and garlic powders together until there are no lumps.

Cut the head of cauliflower into bite size pieces, sort of big but not too big. Drop them into the flour mixture and use a big slotted spoon to stir and cover the pieces well.

Pick each piece of cauliflower and shake off the excess flour mixture and gently place them onto the baking sheet. Bake until they brown, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Mix a few dashes of hot sauce into the cashew milk and pour it over the cauliflower. Sprinkle paprika over the top and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes to make sure the cashew milk is heated through.

Enjoy as a side dish with tofu, tempeh or whatever else you are making!

Sautéed Wax beans with Scallions & Jalapeños

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My husband loves spicy food and I have to admit that I don’t make it for him very often which is why there is always a lot of hot sauce on his plate. But I whenever I do happen to have a jalapeno, which is usually every summer when we harvest my friend’s garden, I make this dish, which is a variation on my green beans and red pepper recipe.

Big bunch of wax beans
1/2 jalapeno
2 scallions
1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

This is the amount of beans I usually make for two of us.

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For this amount of beans, I use half of a jalapeno. That is the little guy on the right. I love taking pictures of food. And I thought this was cute. I am going to paint their portrait in my art class in the fall!

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Set up an ice bath by filling a bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut off the ends of the beans.

Cook the beans in the boiling water for 3 minutes (exactly 3, set a timer) and drain immediately. Drop into the ice bath to stop the cooking. Lay the green beans onto a kitchen towel to dry.

Cut the jalapeno pepper into a small dice and thinly slice the scallions.

In a pan with sides, heat the oil. Add the jalapeno and scallions and sauté until bright and fragrant. Add the beans and toss well. Enjoy!

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash with Fresh Summer Corn, Basil & Pecans

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I got two of the cutest little patty pan squashes at the farmer’s market. And here is what I did with them. This combo is so summery and delicious, there is more stuffing than space inside the patty pan, so I ate the overflow with a spoon!

But, first just take a second to look at Mother Nature’s handiwork. I just love taking pictures of gorgeous food like this!

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2 patty pan squash
Olive oil, for brushing and sautéing
1 big clove of garlic
2 scallions
1 ear of corn, about 1 cup
1/2 cup pecans
Basil, a few leaves
Salt, a pinch

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.

Slice the top off the squash, but not too much. I like to keep it as an edible decoration and really utilize the as much of the squash as I can.

Use a melon baller, or a small spoon, to hollow out the squash. Try to get as much out as you, and get close but not too close to the edges. Also, don’t go through the bottom! Set the insides aside for a second while you prep the squashes to roast.

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Brush the squash, including the little top that you cut off, with olive oil and place cut side up on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, you will flip them over so the cut side is down. Set the timer again for another 10 minutes.

While that is happening, make the stuffing.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and press the garlic right into the oil. Let it cook on low until it starts to smell great.

Run your knife through the squash insides and really dice it up. Add to the pan with the garlic and raise the heat to medium. Mix around to coat the squash with the garlic.

Thinly slice the scallions and add to the pan. Cut the kernels off the cob and add into the pan. Chop the pecans and add them too. Toss around and turn the flame to low just to keep the stuffing heated.

Chiffonade a few leaves of basil and toss in at the last minute.

Take the squashes out of the oven and gently place them on a plate. Use a spoon to fill the squash with the stuffing. There will be plenty. Let it overflow.

Serve and enjoy!

Book Report: Healing the Vegan Way + Bonus Recipe

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It is becoming more and more obvious that a vegan, plant-based diet is optimal for our health. And of course, for the animals and the planet. In this new book, Healing the Vegan Way: Plant-Based Eating for Optimal Health and Wellness by Mark Reinfeld, we learn why.

In collaboration with some of my heroes, like Dr. Michael Greger, this book lays out exactly what we need to know about how a plant-based diet can prevent and heal diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers in addition to obesity and emotional and mental issues.

From Mark’s “Precepts of a Healthy Life” – following a healthy plant-based diet, exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, getting adequate rest and practicing meditation, doing periodic cleansing, and engaging in the world – to meal plans, template recipes and tips and tricks to make things quick and easy, Mark has written a must read book for anyone who is considering, transitioning to or already living a plant-based lifestyle.

To shore up his argument, Mark reviews several popular diets that people follow in the world including the Standard American Diet (SAD), the Zone, the South Beach Diet, and SOS (No Salt, Oil Sugar) and offers inspirational healing stories from everyday people whose lives have been forever changed by this lifestyle.

To educate us, Mark dives deeply into what foods we should be eating and why they are the most nutrient dense – from vegetables to fruits, to nuts and grains, legumes and grains, herbs, spices and superfoods.

As for the recipes, Mark is true to his concept of Fusion cuisine – celebrating culinary traditions from all over the world. With information on the key nutrients in each dish as well as nutritional information and suggestions for variations, this style of cooking is accessible to everyone.

Probably my favorite thing about the book is the concept of the “template” – a way of viewing a recipe not just exactly as written but breaking it down into it’s component parts – the base, the main, the creamy component, the herbs and other vegetables. It is Mark’s way of saying that one recipe can equal thousands. This approach has very much inspired me to continue to flesh out my idea for my own cookbook which is based on this very idea.

I have been following Mark for years now and I will say that this is one of his best works. If you have questions about the health aspects of a plant based diet then this book is for you!

I received permission to reprint this recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho. It’s easy, summery and a real show stopper served in a watermelon bowl!

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Watermelon Gazpacho

Yield: 5 cups gazpacho
Prep time: 15 minutes, Total time: 15 minutes,
Serving size: 1 cup | Number of servings: 5

Watermelon soup? Why not? It may sound unusual, but watermelon is a wonderful addition to this traditional chilled soup of Mexico. A delicious and very refreshing idea for the hottest of summer days, as watermelon is so incredibly hydrating. Enter jalapeno, jicama, cilantro, and Mexican spices, offsetting watermelon’s sweetness somewhat, and you have a unique twist on tomato-based gazpacho. Serve immediately, so it doesn’t separate, and enjoy with other Mexican favorites, such as fajitas and horchata.

Ingredients:
6 cups chopped watermelon (1-inch cubes)
½ cup water or coconut water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder or Mexican spice
Mix (page 106)
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Pinch of sea salt
¾ cup seeded and diced cucumber
¾ cup peeled and diced jicama
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. Place the watermelon, water or coconut water, lime juice, jalapeño, chili powder, chipotle chile powder, and salt in a blender and blend well.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well before serving.

Variation: replace the cilantro with fresh mint, and replace the cucumber and jicama with blueberries and chopped strawberries.

Excerpted from Healing the Vegan Way: plant-based eating for optimal health and wellness by Mark Reinfeld. Copyright © 2016. Available from Da Capo Press | Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Roasted Scallions

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If you have never roasted scallions, you are in for a treat. Roasting brings out the sweetness in all vegetables, and I think it is a great and different way to prepare and serve scallions. It is so easy – a brush of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. That is the whole recipe! I like to eat these with a nice piece of tofu or tempeh and potatoes in any form!

Scallions
Olive oil
Salt

Preheat the oven to 400.

Gently peel off the outermost layer of the scallions and cut the hairy end off. Cut off just the very ends of the green tops.

Brush with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Roast for 20 minutes. Check out the gorgeous caramelization on the underside of these little babies! And the crispiness of the greens. Enjoy!

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Tofu Scallopine with Shallots, Peas & Asparagus in White Wine Sauce

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I love making different variations of tofu and vegetables. This happens to be one of my favorites. Thinly cut pieces of tofu, called scaloppine, are dredged in seasoned chickpea flour and pan fried to perfection.

I have to admit that I usually make this when I have an open bottle of Vegan Vine chardonnay, which, when cooked with the shallots, reduces down into a nice, very light sauce. And then I add peas (that kind of shriveled up!) and fresh asparagus finish it off.

Serves 2

1/2 block extra firm tofu *
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 big shallot
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
6 stalks of asparagus
1/2 cup white wine
Water, as needed
S and P, to taste
1 teaspoon sunflower oil, for sautéing the tofu

*I use extra firm tofu that I have pressed for at least a day. Press it for as long as you have time for but I would suggest buying a tofu press and using it to press the tofu in the refrigerator.

Peel and slice the shallot. Add to pan with sides and add the white wine. Bring to a slight boil and cook until the shallots are starting to soften. Add water if the pan seems dry, but the wine will mostly evaporate and kind of thicken up.

Cut off the tough end of the asparagus. One way to do this is to bend back each stalk and let it snap off. Discard the tough end side and cut the rest into small pieces. Add to the pan with the shallots. Add a touch of water to ensure that the asparagus have liquid to cook in. Add the peas right before you are ready to serve and heat them through.

Thinly slice the tofu into 4 pieces.

Season the chickpea flour with a pinch of salt and a turn of the pepper mill. Dredge the tofu in the chickpea flour and shake off the excess.

Heat a nonstick skillet and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Gently place the tofu scaloppine in the oil. Shake it around just slightly so that the tofu doesn’t stick. Flip over after a minute or two and cook on the other side. It should be golden and hot.

To serve, top the tofu with the vegetables. Enjoy!

Book Report: The Easy Vegan Cookbook + Bonus Recipe

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I recently found this fun cookbook – The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless by Kathy Hester. Food blogger at healthyslowcooking.com, Kathy is famous for recipes made in a slow cooker. But since I don’t have a slow cooker, I found this book to be more up my alley.

This book is a winner just on simplicity. That doesn’t mean simple – it means it is appealing and accessible. The photos are not overly staged, they are all on white backgrounds focusing on the dish itself, and the recipes are easy to follow and prepare.

Another thing I love Kathy for is spending time talking about how amazing the freezer is – she says use your freezer for the power of good, like an extension of the pantry! We are on the same page with that. She even offers a pantry freezer list which includes chopped vegetables, precooked beans and bread and pizza dough. It is like she had an x-ray into my freezer.

From make ahead staples like gravy and granola, to soups, stews, pasta, main dishes, sides sandwiches and desserts, this book lives up to its title! So, if you are looking for a low key, fun, and creative easy cookbook, check this one out!

And if that doesn’t get you to buy one, check out the recipe for Surprise Walnut Brownies.

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I have added these brownies to my regular baking rotation because we really like the texture. Here is a picture of mine!

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Surprise Walnut Brownies (Soy & Oil Free)
Makes 12 Brownies

2 tablespoons (14 g) ground flaxseed mixed with 4 tablespoons (56 ml) warm water
2 medium avocados
1 cup (145 g) coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (150 g) whole-wheat pastry flour (or use gluten-free baking mix)
1/2 cup (43 g) baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (117 g) walnuts (or nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Prepare an 8″ x 8″ (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan by covering with parchment paper. It’s okay if it bunches up in the corners. If it comes up a bit over the top of the pan, it’ll help you remove the brownies.

Add the flaxseed mixture, avocado, sugar, vanilla and salt to your food processor and process until silky smooth.

Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Stir in the avocado mixture until you have a thick batter. Add the walnuts, mix, then scrape into the prepared pan.

Spread the batter as evenly as you can in the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. You want to slightly underbake these to keep the fudgelike texture, so pull them out before a fork comes out of the middle completely dry.

Per brownie: Calories 212.6, protein 5.0 g, total fat 11.7 g, carbohydrates 31.9 g, sodium 26.1 mg, fiber 4.7 g

TIP: Allergic to nuts? Swap them for chocolate chips for extra-chocolaty brownies.

Recipe reprinted with permission.

Carrot Dogs

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Oh yes I did! There is a trend going on in the vegan world. Put a carrot in a hot dog bun and top it with all of the usual toppings and call it a carrot dog! I wasn’t sure about this…but it is such a great idea!

I roasted the carrots in a little oil seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. And then whipped up my own purple cabbage relish slaw inspired by my deli-style cole slaw. Loaded up on sauerkraut and relish and we had us some carrot dogs!

Note: if you have a grill, these would probably be amazing. I don’t have one so I don’t know how long you would need to cook them but I am sure you can figure it out!

Carrots, enough for how many people you are serving or maybe two each…
Salt, pepper and paprika
Oil, for roasting
Buns, enough for each carrot
Toppings: sauerkraut, relish, purple relish slaw (recipe below), scallions, pickles and whatever else you like!

Preheat the oven to 400. Clean and peel (if you prefer not to, don’t) the carrots. If they are way longer than the buns, cut the skinny end a bit but not too much, there will be some shrinkage.

Drizzle some oil (not too much) over them and coat well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of paprika, just enough to cover and coat the carrots.

Place onto a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Don’t go too long, you want the carrots to be al dente.

Toast the hot dog buns and top with your fave toppings. Enjoy!

Purple Relish
1/2 a big red cabbage or 1 small one
1/4 cup vegan mayo (make your own or use a store bought brand)
1 tablespoon vegan cane sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small container that has a top, mix the dressing ingredients. Shred the cabbage in the food processor or cut as thinly as possible. Drop the cabbage into the container and seal it. Shake it around. Refrigerate for several hours. Enjoy!

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