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Friday, December 28, 2012

Coconut Corn Chowder

I made this soup for Christmas.  Not that corn chowder exactly screams "traditional Christmas food" to me, but I had a can of coconut milk and an idea.  I'm going to be honest- I didn't really measure out the ingredients I used, so the recipe below is a guess. 
I like using frozen veggies when I cook, because it saves a ton of time that you would otherwise be wasting on chopping.  So really, this chowder came together in less than 30 minutes, which is usually my goal.  I really liked the combination of corn and coconut milk, and I'm pretty sure I'll put the two together again in the near future.  In the meantime, try this one out and see what you think.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk (I used full-fat, because that's what I had on hand, but I may try low-fat next time)
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen potatoes (I used the kind that also had peppers and onions)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
1 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup water on medium-high, about 5 minutes or until onions are soft.  Add broth and coconut milk, and stir to combine.  Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.  Turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until veggies are cooked through.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chickpea Melt

It's cold and snowy and dark out, so that can only mean one thing- it's time for comfort food!  Also, it's December in Michigan.
If you've never had chickpea salad, you need to stop what you're doing and make some immediately.  (OK, well maybe finish reading this post and the attached recipe first.)  When I decided to go vegan, one the first books I read was "Breaking the Food Seduction" by Dr. Neal Barnard (I still want to marry that man).  The nutrition information in that book is awesome, and I recommend that you read it, but the recipes in the back are even awesomer. 
The recipes, provided by Joanne Stepaniak, are easy to follow for a beginner vegan.  Her chickpea salad recipe is what I loosely based this one on.  However, I rarely make this salad the same way twice.  So consider the salad recipe sort of a template for you to follow and add to in any way you please.
Chickpea salad reminds me of a mayo-based chicken salad.  I usually eat it cold as either a sandwich or a wrap.  But seeing as it was already cold and dreary out, I thought I'd make it hot.  I suppose a traditional "melt" would have some sort of cheese on it (which would make it even more of a comfort food) but I didn't have any.  If you're feeling fancy, you should definitely add a slice.

Chickpea salad:
15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
3 Tbsp vegan mayo (I used Nasoya brand)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional additions:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Curry powder

8 slices bread
More mayo
Spinach or lettuce
Cooking spray

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas leaving very few whole.  This is easiest done with a potato masher (weapon of mash destruction!), preferably metal.
Stir in the remaining salad ingredients, jazzing it up in any way you see fit.
To make the sandwiches, spread two mayo on two slices of bread.  Scoop sandwich filling onto one of the slices of bread.  Add spinach or what have you, and top with remaining slice of bread.  Heat a small skillet to medium heat.  Spray one side of the sandwich with cooking spray, and place it sprayed-side down in the skillet.  Now spray the not-yet-sprayed side, and cook on each side about 3 minutes, or until browned, not burned (unless that's your thing, then yay go you).
Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Since I was in the mood to comfort myself with food, I also made these awesome mini banana muffins!
I used a recipe from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  I made several substitutions, though.  I used whole wheat flour instead of white flour, 1/4 cup less sugar, applesauce instead of oil, omitted the chocolate chips, and added walnuts and pumpkin pie spice.  So they're almost healthy!  (I totally put butter on mine, for added comfort.)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festive Fettuccine Florentine

Inspiration for new recipes comes from all different places.  As with many of my recipes, the inspiration for this pasta dish was necessity.  Not so much necessity in the fact that I have to eat to survive, but more that I had  to find a good vegan alfredo recipe because I was craving it like crazy.
While this recipe is far from fat-free, it is cholesterol free and amazing.  Since cholesterol is only found in animal foods, vegan food is naturally cholesterol free.  Now, that's not to say that everything vegan is healthy, including this dish, as I would never normally put 1/2 cup of vegan butter in anything.  But hey, it's Christmas.  I'll get to posting fat-free goodies in a few days.
During the holidays, most of us take on the task of consuming all of the delicious, rich, comfort food that we can get our hands on.  Cookies, egg nog, fudge, casseroles, rolls with butter, anything drenched in gravy.  So maybe cholesterol-free is a good thing.

*Note:   I'm pretty sure you can buy roasted garlic at the store, but it's probably way cheaper to do it yourself.  Here's how:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel as much of the papery skin off the bulb as you can while keeping the bulb intact.    Slice off the tops of the bulbs so the cloves are just exposed.  Place garlic bulbs on a sheet of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap the bulbs in the foil and bake 45-50 minutes.

Festive Fettuccine Florentine

1 lb fettuccine

1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
12 oz firm silken tofu
2 Tbsp white cooking wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
3 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 heads roasted garlic, skins peeled

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz artichoke hearts, quartered
5 oz fresh baby spinach

Fill a large soup pot with water and bring to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine all sauce ingredients and blend until well combined and smooth.
Pour sauce into a medium sauce pan and heat on medium-high, whisking almost constantly for about 6 minutes.  Do not let the sauce boil.  When sauce has thickened, add the tomatoes and artichokes, and heat through, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the spinach and heat for another 3 minutes.
When pasta is done, drain and return to pan.  Pour in the sauce and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.