Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Mock Meatballs and Maple Coconut Kale with Champagne Vinegar

As I've noted before, spaghetti is a family favorite--especially for Abiline and Daddy (who share many food preferences--who knew taste was so much a function of genetics?). I have tried out many a homemade meatless meatball recipe to accompany our beloved noodles with red sauce, but I have found that the tofu and beans used as the base make most of them too mushy.  I wanted my spaghetti to have a  slightly crispy, chewy counterpart to complement it, so I experimented around and found that the combination of quinoa, chia seeds, and wheat gluten in addition to some beans made for a more toothsome texture.  Anthony said that these meatballs were "awesome," Sawyer ate them without complaining, and Abiline scavenged for little morsels amidst her finely chopped noodles. We will definitely be making these again.

The meal was rounded out nicely by this magical kale, which I have been eating nonstop since I picked up some Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar at Trader Joe's and ventured to splash it on my greens. Combined with maple syrup and coconut oil, this kale has Abiline and I battling for the last bite.

This recipe is also posted on Whole Foods Wednesdays :o)

Mock Meatballs

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked kidney beans
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
dash of pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 375 and oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.  In a food processor combine all of the ingredients except for the water, starting with just 1/4 tsp. salt. Process until smooth, and then taste and add additional salt if desired. If necessary, add the water 1 Tbsp. at a time to get everything well-incorporated; you want the mixture somewhat firm like cookie dough, but not runny like batter.

Form the dough into about a dozen small balls and bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, then flip and bake for 8 minutes more, until lightly browned on both sides.

Maple Coconut Kale with Champagne Vinegar

1 bunch kale, washed, stemmed, and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (If you don't live close to a Trader Joe's you could probably sub some OJ and regular champagne vinegar.)

Preparation Method 1: Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale, and saute for a minute. Add the maple syrup and vinegar, stir to coat, then cover the pan and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the leaves have cooked down and are starting to caramalize.

Preparation Method 2: Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave, then toss the kale leaves in a large bowl with the oil, maple syrup, and vinegar. Spread the kale out on the prepared pan so that no leaves are overlapping and bake until crispy, 5-10 minutes. Check the kale after five minutes and then keep a close eye on it if not yet crisp, as it can burn quickly.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blueberry Poppyseed Streusel bars

As a general rule, Abiline appreciates food more than Sawyer does. He's just not a big eater, although he has gotten better over the past few months, as he has been recognizing more when he is hungry and even saying that he "loves" certain foods. This is big progress. Yesterday when I fed these blueberry bars to the kids for breakfast, he actually asked for seconds. I tried to stay cool, but inside, I was having a party.  This was monumental--the only other time I can remember him asking for more of anything was for plain pasta or bunny pretzels.  Ironically, I had made these bars with Abiline in mind, since she loves Kashi cereal bars, and they are a similar formulation of crust with fruit filling. Not a hit with her, though. You just never can tell what they will like, which is why I'm always trying new foods with them.

This recipe was the result of a recipe gone awry, actually, as my initial intention was to try to make vegan blueberry jell-o, aka kanten, according to a recipe I found in the Clean Food cookbook.  Abiline doesn't really appreciate fruit, so I thought I may be able to sneak some in her jell-o.  However, I think the recipe called for too much agar, as the blob set even firmer than jell-o wigglers. After it was set, the recipe called for taking the whole pan of kanten and blending it, which just made a grainy mush.  I try to never let a cooking failure stay that way, so I turned the kanten into a creamy filling for these breakfast bars by adding some no-soy tofu. 

For the Filling:
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 tsp agar powder
pinch of salt
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 c. no soy tofu (or, if no soy allergy, silken tofu)
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds 
2-3 Tbsp. coconut sugar (optional, to taste)

For the crust/streusel:
1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. coconut sugar
1/4 c. poppy seeds
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
1/4 c. brown rice syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. To make the kanten, in a medium pot, boil the apple juice, then reduce the heat and stir in the agar powder, salt, and lemon juice, just until the powder is dissolved. Remove from heat, add the blueberries, and refrigerate until set (about 45 mins.).
2. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a nine inch square pan. Prepare crust by combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the oil, non-dairy milk, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. Stir together with a fork until evenly moistened and crumbly.
3. Prepare the filling by breaking up the kanten and placing the pieces in a food processor or blender along with the tofu, and poppy seeds. Blend until smooth. Taste and add sugar, if desired.
4. Press about half of the dough into the prepared pan, cover with a layer of creamy blueberry filling, and then crumble the remaining streusel on top of the filling. Bake for 22-25 mins. just until slightly browning on top.  The bars taste best after cooling completely in the fridge.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Soy Tofu

***Please see my update to this recipe. ***

So many vegan recipes call for tofu, and Anthony and I do love the wonderful soybean curd, but all those recipes became pretty useless to me once I suspected the severity of Abbie's allergies: tofu for cream pies and sauces, tofu for mayonnaise, tofu as an egg replacer, even tofu used for ice cream and vegan cheeses.  What was I going to do without tofu?  I was seriously set back when I realized that I had to banish it from my cooking.  Part of me was hoping to wait it out, wishing that Abiline would soon outgrow her soy allergy, since Sawyer seems to have, but the other night she touched an edamame pod and got a rash, so that is not looking too hopeful. But that's ok because now we have soy-free tofu in our arsenal.

I did an online search a while back for tofu without soy, and found a few recipes for Burmese tofu, which apparently is made with chickpea flour.  Basically, it is prepared in a manner similar to polenta, where you boil the liquid and gradually stir in the flour, whisk constantly for about 20 minutes until it firms up, and then refrigerate it until fully set.  The texture of chickpea tofu softer, not chewy like soy tofu--not surprising considering the difference in preparation--but it can be eaten as a protein source in its own right. I have had success dicing it and roasting in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and then using it in soup like croutons.

However, when I tried putting it in sauces,  the chickpea flavor wasn't melding quite right. And then there is the problem of the yellow color that just doesn't work in some desserts, sauces, etc. in which one would normally use soy tofu. So I ventured to make no-soy tofu using white bean flour, which I found handily available on The result has been quite useful in the past week, as I have used it in creamy sauces, desserts, and veggie burgers calling for both silken and firm, water-packed tofu, since the texture is in between the two traditional tofu varieties. The flavor of the white bean tofu is not as pronounced as chickpea tofu, and it is white, so it doesn't discolor the dishes to which it is added. So far, this is a success. I am looking forward to trying it in the many tofu-based recipes I have been sighing over for the past year! 

**Update: It is great in my soy-free vegan cheesecake!

1 1/2 cups white bean flour
5 1/2 cups water

Oil a bread loaf pan. Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed pan.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, whisk the bean flour with the remaining 2 1/2 cups water to make a thick, goopy paste. Once the water is boiling, start whisking in the bean flour paste, a little bit at a time (about 1/4 cup) so as to avoid lumps. An easy way to do this is to mix the flour and water in a  blender and just use the blender pitcher to gradually add the mixture to the boiling water. Once all of the bean mixture is whisked into the water, keep stirring continuously until the mixture reaches a really thick, glutinous consistency--to the point that you can barely stir it any more. This should take 15-20 minutes (yes, it is a workout).  Pour the mixture into the oiled loaf pan and smooth out the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 24 hours before slicing.  

In other great news, everyone loves Daddy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Curry Chickpea Soup

We had soup three times in the past week, since it is cold--at least at night--as far as Southern California standards go. Plus it is a good way to get a balanced meal into the kids in one shot: you can get your veggies, beans, and grains, all in one blended bowl.  I made this particular soup to accompany a samosa recipe from the new Big Vegan cookbook (which is overall outstanding, but the crust on the samosas was too dry), and they paired well together. Usually I shy away from recipes that call for curry powder because the spices you buy under that label taste nothing like the Indian food you eat in the restaurant, so I am almost always disappointed with what I make.  However, Abiline loves foods with lots of spices, and has shown a preference for curry-flavored foods, so I thought I would experiment. This soup was a pretty big hit; the apple chutney that I adapted from Big Vegan really finished it off well, so I will include that recipe here, too.

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 medium apple, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup raisins
heaping 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (could use 1/4 cup dry and then up the water by 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
About 3 cups water (enough to cover the veggies when simmering), plus more to thin out
3 Tbsp. minced cilantro

For the chutney:
1 medium apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar or sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas, sweet potato, curry powder, salt, and ginger, stir to coat the chickpeas and sweet potato with the spices and saute for 5 mins. Add the apple, spinach, raisins, coconut milk, and water (also add the dry quinoa, if using). Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 mins, until the sweet potato is tender (and the quinoa is cooked).
2.  While the soup cooks, prepare the apple chutney and refrigerate.
3. Let the soup cool for a few minutes before transferring to a blender. Add the cooked quinoa (if you didn't cook it in the soup) and the cilantro and puree. Taste for spices and salt and add more if desired. Thin with additional water as needed. Serve with about 2 Tbsp. chutney on top of each portion.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Vegan Yogurt: Rice, Hemp, Coconut, or Oat Milk

I took to making my own yogurt when I realized how much I was spending every week on soy yogurt for Sawyer and coconut milk yogurt for Abiline. So Delicious coconut milk yogurt is true to its name, but $4 for two cups worth of it is pretty steep.  It is really simple to make your own, plus then you can use other non-dairy, non-soy milks and can better control the amount and kind of sugar added.  The one trick was that I had to buy a yogurt maker (about $30) to keep my yogurt at the correct incubation temperature (between 120 and 110 degrees).  However, if you have a decent crock pot that does not overheat on the "warm" setting like mine does, or--better yet--that has a temperature control, you can use that to incubate the yogurt.  I have had success with making yogurt from coconut milk, hemp milk (the combination of the two is perhaps the best), homemade oat milk, and rice milk. Non-dairy yogurt is really thin because non-dairy milks are in large part water; I have seen agar powder and tapioca starch as recommended thickeners, but I have not had success with either one(UPDATE: I recently did find a good formula for tapioca and agar-thickened yogurt!), and instead have been using guar gum or xantham gum. (Xantham gum is usually corn-based so if you have a severe corn allergy, stay away from this.) Here is the basic formula, plus some of my kids' favorite flavors.

Equipment: Medium-large sized pot, candy thermometer, large glass jar with lid and crockpot or a yogurt maker
5 cups non-dairy milk of choice
2 Tbsp. already prepared plain yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch of homemade

1. Pour milk into the pot and place the candy thermometer in so that it is touching the milk, not the bottom of the pan. Heat over high heat until the thermometer reaches 185 degrees. This kills all of the bacteria that you don't want to culture.  Be sure to watch it so that it doesn't boil over.
2. Take the already prepared yogurt that you will use as a starter culture out of the fridge. If you are using your crock pot, warm it up to 115. Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool until it reaches 115 degrees. Once it does, stir in the yogurt and either place the mixture in a glass jar with the lid just placed on top, not screwed, and place it in the crockpot with the crockpot lid on and a towel wrapped around the jar, or pour the mixture into your yogurt maker. Allow to incubate for 8-10 hours. The longer it sits, the tarter it gets!
3. Once the yogurt is done, place in the fridge for a few hours to cool down. Then follow one of the recipes below by placing all of the ingredients in a blender and blending until thickened.

Basic Vanilla Yogurt:
One batch plain homemade yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. xantham or guar gum
1/4 c. honey, agave, or coconut sugar
1/8-1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Yogurt:
Follow recipe for vanilla, but add 1/4 cup cocoa powder. It is also delicious if you add 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter as well.

Mango Coconut Yogurt:
One batch plain homemade yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. xantham or guar gum
2 Tbsp. coconut butter/manna
1/4 c. coconut sugar, or desired sweetener
1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1 1/2 c. mango chunks, fresh or thawed frozen
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

Basic Preserve-Sweetened Fruit Yogurt:
One batch plain homemade yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. xantham or guar gum
1/4 c. all-fruit preserves
1/2 cup fruit
1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In more exciting news, there was a terrible wind storm here last week, and a tree down the street got pulled up by its roots, which the kids thought was pretty awesome.  It was hard to get a good picture because Abbie and Sawyer were jumping around so much on the poor tree. It became a favorite play spot for a few days, until this morning when someone finally came and cleaned it up, to Sawyer's great disappointment.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creamy Sweet Potato-Carrot Miso Soup

This soup that pairs root vegetables, tahini, and miso was inspired by a recipe that  I copied from a Moosewood cookbook a few years ago, which called for more than a cup of tahini and peanut butter. How could it be bad, eh, with that much nut butter in it?  I simplified the flavors and reduced the fat significantly in this recipe, but the soup is still plenty creamy.  This is a great fall soup; you could sub whatever root vegetables you have on hand, and I even think it would be tasty with some greens added in--I just didn't happen to have any on hand the day I made it.  Abiline LOVED this and ate it with gusto for quite a few days. Sawyer would never freely admit that any soup is good, but he did eat it with less drama than usual. We served the soup to some friends who brought vegan sushi over for dinner, and it went quite well with the rest of the meal.  I made rice balls rolled in gomasio (crushed sesame seeds mixed with salt), and put one ball in the middle of the soup bowl and ladled the soup around it.  The leftovers were also good with just some brown rice mixed in.

 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into roughly 1/2 in. dice
4 medium carrots, cut into roughly 1/2 in. dice
1 small yellow or sweet onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 cups water
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. chickpea miso (or other light miso if no soy allergy)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos (or tamari/soy sauce, if no soy allergy)
1 cup cooked brown rice  (optional)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent and starting to brown. Mix in the sweet potatoes and carrots and saute in the oil for about 5 more minutes. Add the water (enough to cover the vegetables) and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat a bit and simmer for about 20 mins., until the vegetables are very tender but not totally falling apart.  Puree all but about 1 cup of the vegetables in a blender along with the tahini, miso, vinegar, and liquid coconut aminos. Stir the pureed soup back into the pot and add the rice if desired.  

In other Fall treats, we actually did venture out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving to get this chalkboard easel that was on sale at Ikea. We use it to write our words of the day, which Sawyer then promptly erases. Apparently erasing is more fun than drawing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soy-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie

I have been contemplating how to make pumpkin pie without using the typical tofu as dairy and egg replacement, since I wanted Abiline to be able to eat some. "What could I use to add the creaminess?" I wondered? I then saw the jar of coconut manna (aka coconut butter) on sale at Whole Foods, and it all came together--the perfect tofu, evaporated milk replacement.  This pumpkin pie is a bit creamier than your traditional pumpkin pie, but it is not quite pumpkin cheesecake status.  It may sound like there are a lot of coconut-based ingredients, but it doesn't have a strong coconut flavor, really.  For the crust, I just made my favorite oatmeal cookie dough, and that turned out tasty, but too thick.  I think it would have been better with a regular pastry or even graham cracker crust, so use whatever suits your crust fancy.

For filling:
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Ener-G egg replacers or 4 Tbsp. arrowroot powder mixed with 4 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or more to taste
1/3 cup coconut manna
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut sugar (could sub brown sugar)
3 Tbsp. coconut milk or coconut creamer

For whipped topping:
1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled fully in the fridge
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla 

1. Prepare crust, but do not bake it.  Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place all filling ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
3. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set. This filling didn't jiggle like regular pumpkin pie does, but it was perfect. Cool 30 mins. on a wire rack, and then transfer to the fridge to cool down completely.
4. While the pie is cooling in the fridge, prepare the whipped topping. Place a metal mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for 15 mins. (It is best to use a stand mixer like Kitchen Aid, but the beaters from a hand-held mixer would probably work, too.) Take them out of the freezer, and remove the coconut milk from the fridge. Skim the solid part of the coconut milk off the top of the can and put it in the cold bowl, leaving the liquid part. Whip on high for about 5 minutes, until it is starting to get thick. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip, 5-10 minutes longer until it is about the consistency of Cool Whip. Spread over cooled pie and serve.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blueberry Bean Pudding

 "What could sound less appetizing than pudding made out of beans?" you may be wondering.  I first saw the idea for bean pudding on Celine Steen's Have Cake, Will Travel blog, and that was pretty much the reaction I had.  I eventually just had to try it, though, as I have been searching for more soft foods for Abbie's sore mouth.  I found, once again, that it's amazing what you will find tasty when you venture to eat outside of the box.  Abiline has been chowing down this pudding as her after-dinner bathtub dessert all week, and I have been enjoying it for breakfast. You could easily experiment with using different fruits, and I plan to do so as soon as this batch is gone!

3/4 cup berry-flavored yogurt
2/3 cup steel-cut oats, soaked in water overnight and then squeezed dry
3/4 cup oat milk (squeezed from the steel-cut oats)
1 cup cooked beans (I used 1/2 c. cannellini and 1/2 cup garbanzo)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. maple syrup (I had blueberry maple syrup on hand, but regular should do just fine.)
pinch of sea salt
1 generous Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance margarine
grated zest of 1 orange
1 small ripe banana (optional-I made it without the banana and liked the flavor, but Abiline preferred it with a little mashed banana mixed in.)

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 9 inch round or square pan. Puree all of the ingredients in a blender, pour into the pan, and bake for 40 mins. It will still be jiggly in the center. Cool for 20 mins. on a wire rack and then transfer to the fridge to cool completely before serving.

We've been seeing a lot of this face lately. Poor, Abiline. The tooth fairy is not being kind to her. And  poor us, too. This isn't just a bad picture of Sawyer; we all look pretty wasted on days when our dear dudette wakes up crying so many times during the night due to the pain. I cannot wait until teething is over!

Pumpkin Broccoli Sauce

As I've mentioned before, my kids eat a lot of pasta.  If Sawyer had his way, it would always be "cold pasta with no sauce," but I only allow that if he is eating his plain pasta with soup. Otherwise, we need a sauce to get some more veggies into the meal.  Marinara sauce is yummy from time to time, and the kids love tahini-miso sauce, but after a while, we need more options. So, in keeping with the abundance of pumpkin recipes I have been posting lately, I made pumpkin sauce for the pasta wheels that Sawyer had been begging for all week.  He enjoys "crashing" the wheels by smooshing them to bits before shoving them into his mouth.  Perhaps I should be telling him not to play with his food, but I am just happy to see him excited about eating.

Here is Sawyer demonstrating the face he likes to make whenever I offer up a new sauce. 95% of the time he ends up liking it despite the dramatics.  He just has an image to keep up of being a picky eater. 

2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I prefer hemp, coconut, or oat milk)
2 Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance margarine
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
dash of black pepper
1/2 cup well-cooked broccoli florets
1/2 cup white beans, such as cannellini or great northern
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional, but good and adds B vitamins)
1/2 tsp agave nectar (optional, to taste)

1. Whisk together the  pumpkin, non-dairy milk, Earth Balance, basil, salt, onion powder, and pepper in a small saucepan over med-high heat and heat until warmed and well combined.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the pumpkin mixture with the broccoli florets, beans and nutritional yeast, if you are using it. Puree until smooth.  Taste and add the agave if you desire the touch of sweetness. This makes about 1 cup, which was enough for about 1/2 lb. of pasta.   

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cinnamon Rolls

Yes, the cinnamon roll munchies strike again. This is actually a recipe I first made up a few years ago when Sawyer was still a tiny baby, at which time I made it with peanut butter. If there are no nut or peanut allergies in your family, feel free to sub PB or almond butter. Now that I have stopped eating peanut butter for the most part, I find that I prefer sunflower seed butter, though.

For the bread dough:
¾ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. non-dairy milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar (I like coconut or hemp)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup maple syrup

5 c. whole wheat flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. salt

¼ c. soy-free Earth Balance, softened

For the filling:
1  1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

For the Icing (Optional, but good):
4 Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance
¼ c. sunflower seed butter
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ c. cocoa powder
½ c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp.non-dairy milk

1. Fill a mug or small bowl with the water and gradually sprinkle in the yeast, constantly stirring with a fork to dissolve.
2. Whisk together the non-dairy milk plus vinegar, OJ, and maple syrup in a medium bowl.
3. Sift together flour, salt, and cocoa powder in large bowl.
4. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Add additional water or flour to form a kneadable consistency.
5. Knead for 12-15 minutes, working in Earth Balance about 1 tsp. at a time as you go.

6. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl to rise in a warm place with a damp towel covering the bowl for 1-2 hours, until a wet finger poked into the middle of the dough leaves an impression without filling in. If the dough sighs, it has risen a bit too long. (I turn the oven on to 400 for a few minutes, turn it off, open the oven, and place the bowl on the door. Once the oven cools down a bit, I place the bowl in the oven.)
7. Once the dough is ready, wet your fingers and gently deflate the dough. Using a rubber scraper moistened with water, dislodge the dough from the sides of the bowl. Reform it into a ball and let it rise for another 45 mins. to an hour, using the same finger poke test to determine when it is ready to be deflated again.
8. Grease either both a 9x 13in pan and an 8x8 in pan or one 11x 17 inch pan. Deflate the dough again, form it into a ball, and cut the ball in half with a slightly damp knife. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle, about 9x13 in. Keep the other half of the dough covered while you deal with the first half.  Spread 3/4 c. sunflower seed butter evenly over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ c. chocolate chips.  Roll up tightly starting on one of the short sides. Cut into rolls about ½ inch thick and place close together in the pans. They should all be snug with no space in between. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
9. Let the rolls rise again, covered with damp cloths, for about 45 mins. After about 30 mins., turn on the oven to 400. When the rolls are puffy and sagging at the edges, pop them in the oven for 18 mins.
10. Cool on wire racks. While cooling, if you would like to ice them, prepare the frosting by whipping together all ingredients with an electric mixer. Frost cooled rolls and enjoy while still a bit warm and melty. Freeze extras; they don’t stay fresh for long if left out on the counter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Treats: Fried Brains (Spaghetti Fritters) and Green Goo (Avocado Pudding)

This Halloween post is two weeks late because we have been fortunate to have both my parents and Anthony's parents visiting over the past two weeks. While the day is past for goulish-themed meals, I hope you can still enjoy the recipes and pictures.

My kids love spaghetti, but the individual noodles are so slippery that there are always more noodles sliding out of their mouths than are wriggling their way in.  This frustrates all of us, as they zealously dig in to their meal, but end up dropping most of it on the floor.  I decided to make the spaghetti more finger-food friendly by pulsing it in the food processor, forming it into patties, and making a pasta pancake of sorts. This worked well for Sawyer, but when Abiline saw me slurping my own full-length spaghetti, she still wanted mine. I think she just likes sucking off the sauce and discarding the noodles.  The measurements are approximate on this one, as you can of course use whatever ratio of sauce to noodles that you like, or whatever leftovers you have on hand.

1 cup cooked spaghetti
1/3 c. marinara sauce
1 Tbsp. tahini
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 c. cannellini or  garbanzo beans
Olive oil for frying

Place the beans in a food processor and puree. Add the noodles, sauce, tahini, and nutritional yeast, and pulse to combine, just until the noddles are in bite-sized pieces.  Heat 1-2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat (enough to coat the whole pan), and fry until browned and crispy, 3-5 minutes per side.

While the spaghetti fritters were more popular with Sawyer, Abiline is the number one fan of the green goo. This pudding has been part of a rebirth of her love of baby-food consistency dishes. When Abbie was first trying solid foods, she loved bananas and avocados, but then she quickly decided that she would prefer to eat the food off my plate rather than any baby mush.  Now, with numerous teeth coming in, the avocados and bananas are back in her good graces, along with oatmeal, yogurt, and soggy cereal. But you don't have to be a baby to enjoy this--just adventurous enough to pair avocados with sweet instead of salty.

1 medium, fully ripe avocado
1/2 medium banana
1/4 c. plain non-dairy yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. spirulina powder (for a deeper green color, which I think is more appealing)
1/4 tsp. coconut extract (optional)

Blend all in a food processor or blender until completely smooth. Serve chilled.

And now, finally, some cute Halloween pictures. If you are wondering why there are no pictures of Sawyer in his costume, that is because he decided that he doesn't like wearing costumes. Anthony was thrilled to wear the super-hero costume instead--along with Abiline's ladybug antennae, which I think hurt her head.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carrot Cake Soup

I've already posted recipes for low-sugar carrot cake, carrot cake pancakes, and now carrot cake soup.  What can I say--carrots and pineapple are in abundance in our house? This recipe may sound improbable, but it truly is tasty, and it was a blessedly simple meal solution for lunch today. Sauces and soups are the best way to get Sawyer to eat his veggies, but a new soup usually still meets with some suspicion. I admit, I can see how a pureed mush of vegetables would look unappealing to a toddler.  I certainly remember as a young girl wanting to put my head down in despair when vegetable soup night rolled around. However, my kids are already much more easily persuaded than I was as a child when it comes to food, as they usually bravely eat their soup with minimal dramatics once I get them to try a bite. This soup was actually deemed "yummy" by Sawyer, which is high praise indeed.  I certainly enjoyed it; I know I've made something good when I finish my meal, and I'm already looking forward to eating the leftovers tomorrow.  This is a small recipe, as I was unsure how it would turn out--it makes two large or three smaller servings.

3 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped into large chunks
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 c. oat milk, or other non-dairy milk
1/2 c. light coconut milk (You would only need 1/4 c. if using regular, full-fat milk.)
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. canned pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp. pumpkin seed butter or tahini
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
dash of nutmeg
1 tsp. maple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in large pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the carrots are super-tender and melty. Let the mixture cool a bit, and then transfer to a blender and puree. Taste if additional salt is necessary, and then enjoy with some crusty bread and a green salad.

This is a good meal for when you know you are going to need lunch in a hurry. Just prep it before you leave the house, then let it warm in the crock-pot until you get home for lunch. As you can see, the kids are sure cute before they go to church, but by the time we get home, they are "hangry" and want lunch pronto, so I have to plan ahead.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Soy-free White Bean Ricotta and Other Discoveries

When Anthony and I first got married, for Christmas my mom gave me the Vegan Planet cookbook by Robin Robertson.  We were vegetarian at that point, but once we tried one of the recipes for lasagna made with tofu-ricotta filling, we never went back to dairy ricotta. The tofu ricotta was so much lighter, not leaving that intense, heavy feeling in our stomachs that can come from cheese-laden Italian food.  When we had kids with soy allergies, though, I had to come up with a new dairy-free replacement for ricotta that was also soy-free so that our family could still enjoy lasagna. Pureed white beans and cauliflower seemed like they would create the right texture, but my first attempt was too dry and low-fat tasting. I gave it another go last week and got it pretty spot on, I think, creating a delicious filling that I could have even used as a dip.  I paired the filling with lasagna noodles slathered in leftover miracle rice sauce and marinara that I had on hand.  This recipe made enough ricotta for a huge lasagna--an 11x17 pan, or a 9x13 plus a 9 in square pan.  My lasagna was yummy enough to share with friends, but take my advice and remember to use a ton of sauce when you make lasagna with the no-boil noodles. They just suck up so much liquid that the lasagna wasn't saucy enough for my taste.

2 cups well-cooked white beans (cannellini or great northern work well)
1/2 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets and steamed until very tender
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 c. shredded vegan cheese (I used homemade from the Uncheese Cookbook, but Daiya would work)
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast**
2 Tbsp. vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance, since the original kind is soy-free)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tahini
1/3 c. non-dairy milk
1 1/2-2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place all of the ingredients in your blender and puree until mostly smooth, with a little bit of texture from the beans and cauliflower. Start with just 1 1/2 tsp salt, and then taste and add more if necessary, depending on the type of vegan cheese you use.

**I have had a few people ask me what nutritional yeast is, as it is not an ingredient usually known to those who are new to a dairy-free diet.  See this Wikipedia article and trust me that it is a fabulous ingredient that I wouldn't live without.

Vegan soy-free ricotta was a pretty thrilling discovery, but so was finding this ultra-cute smock in the closet, which my good friend made for Abiline when she was an infant, and now finally fits. I wish I could wear it, too.

 I was also overjoyed to find out that Sawyer was just joking with me when he exclaimed that his favorite blanket was eating him. Phew! We survive another day of fun in the Holden household! (Now we know why the laundry basket is in shambles, eh?)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gooey Triple Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin in the bread dough. Pumpkin in the filling. Pumpkin in the frosting. Oh, yes, friends, these are so scrumptious, and surprisingly low in fat as well, since the pumpkin takes the place of the butter/margarine normally lavished on cinnamon roll dough. It all started with that impulse pumpkin butter purchase at Trader Joe's last week. I didn't know how I would use it, but I rationalized that I had to buy the butter now since it is a 'seasonal' product and thus would only be around for a limited time. I took it out of the fridge a few days later to see how it would taste on my pancakes, and the random thought came to me that pumpkin butter would probably be delicious in cinnamon roll filling. As soon as the kids lay down for their naps, I hurried to the kitchen to realize my vision, congregating all things pumpkin on my counter-top: pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin butter. "Oh, yes, this is going to be good!" I quietly rejoiced. I decided to wait for Sawyer to wake up so that he could be my trusty baker-boy assistant. He loves to knead and roll, and, most of all, eat the dough. Sawyer is my toughest palate to please, and often he is not so hot on the finished baked good even when he devours the dough, but he eagerly dug into one of these luscious rolls the next morning. So hooray for impulse buys and seasonal treats--I think a Holden Fall tradition has been born!

For the dough:
3/4 c. lukewarm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (I used home-made hemp/rice milk yogurt) 
2/3 c. canned pumpkin puree 
5 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (could sub white flour)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance soy-free margarine

For the filling:
1 cup pumpkin butter
1/4 cup coconut sugar (could sub brown sugar)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)

For the frosting:
2/3 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. coconut oil (could sub. margarine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I used rice milk. Coconut milk would probably be best, but I didn't have any on hand!)

1. Mix water and 1 Tbsp. maple syrup in a large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in the yeast until dissolved. Let proof for 5-10 mins., until the yeast bubbles and shows signs of life.

2. Add the remaining 1/4 c. maple syrup, yogurt, pumpkin puree, salt, and pumpkin pie spice and mix until well combined. Add the flour a cup at a time, stirring with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, until the dough is thick enough to be turned out for kneading and no more flour can be added by hand. 

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 mins. Every few minutes smear some of the  Earth Balance on to the dough and work it in while you knead. Add flour a little bit at a time if it gets too sticky, but keep in mind that you want it to be moist and pliable, not hardened by excessive flour. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and lustrous, like this:
4. Turn your oven on to 400 for 2 or 3 mins., then turn it off. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place the dough in the warm oven to rise for 1 1/2- 2 hours.  The dough should double in bulk, and a wet finger inserted into the dough should leave an impression without filling in. (If the dough makes a sighing sound when poked, it has risen a bit too long. Just hurry to the next step.)

5. Grease an 11x17 in pan, or a 9x13 plus a 9 in. square pan. Gently deflate the dough with damp hands, form it into a ball, and turn the ball out onto a large, lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a huge rectangle. Spread the pumpkin butter evenly over the rolled out dough with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon, and the chocolate chips, if desired. Roll up tightly, starting on one of the short sides. Cut into rolls about ½ inch thick and place close together in the pan(s). The rolls should all be snug with no space in between. 

6. Let the rolls rise again in a warm oven, covered with damp towels, for about 45 mins.-1 hour. After about 40 mins., take the rolls out of the warm oven, and turn the oven to 400 degrees. When the rolls are puffy and sagging at the edges, pop them in the oven for 6-18 mins., until just lightly browning on the tops.  Let them cool in the pan on a wire rack.

7. While the rolls bake, make the frosting by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor and blending until the coconut is finely ground and the mixture has a spreadable consistency.  Once the rolls have cooled for about 20 mins., frost them and serve. They are great both warm and cold!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creamy Teryaki Stir-Fry Sauce

We went to the pumpkin patch on Saturday night, and had loads of fun crawling around the play area, scampering up spooky trees, and finding the perfect pumpkins to represent our family.

On the way home, Anthony turned to me and declared that he suddenly had a craving for seitan and broccoli stir fry with Soy Vay teriyaki sauce.  Too bad for him, since I had already made black bean rice salad for dinner and didn't even have any Soy Vay on hand.  He had to make do that night, poor guy, but for lunch the next day I whipped up this version of teriyaki sauce that gets its creaminess from sunflower seed butter.  I had intended to take a picture of the finished stir-fry, but lunch was totally chaotic with the kids that day, and when Anthony got home from church he indulged his craving in a big way by filling up one of our biggest bowls with almost all of the stir-fry left. So there was a measly portion left to photograph, and Anthony insisted it would make a terrible picture. If he was just trying to get me to make it again, it worked; I made this dish again tonight, since it was so quick and yummy. As you can see in the picture, we ate this sauce over seitan, broccoli, carrots, red peppers, pineapple, and brown rice, but you can pour it over whatever suits your stir fry tastes. It makes about three servings worth.

For the sauce:
3 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
3 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos (or soy-sauce if no soy allergy)
3 Tbsp. pineapple juice
1 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. chickpea miso (or regular soy-based miso if no soy allergy)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp umeboshi vinegar (or just sub another tablespoon rice vinegar)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. arrowroot  (could sub corn starch if you don't have a corn allergy)

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth, or just put them all in a small mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until well combined. Cook your stir fry veggies as desired, and then pour this sauce over them and heat for a few minutes to thicken it up.

Whole Grain Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes

We don't eat a lot of cereal for breakfast in our home because it's just not filling enough after not eating for 10-12 hours. Also, we get tired of our limited corn-free cereal selection. So we do a lot of granola, waffles, oatmeal, and at least once a week we whip up some pancakes, as they are great finger foods for the kids.  This particular recipe was formulated with Abiline in mind, as the whole grains produce a more crumbly texture, which makes the pancakes easier to chew than when made with all flour, since that often gives them a more chewy, gummy texture. Also, Abbie loves chocolate. (She also loves vegetables, so I rationalize that the two balance each other out.) Unlike some chocolate chocolate chip pancake recipes I have seen, these don't have loads of sugar, so they are a bit indulgent perhaps, but not too desserty for a good breakfast. I like to top them with sunflower seed butter and banana slices, and I recently discovered that they are extra-delicious with homemade chocolate sunflower seed butter on top.

1 c. cooked short-grain brown rice or quinoa
1 c. steel-cut oats, soaked overnight and squeezed dry
1 cup cooked beans 
1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I used homemade oat milk.)
2 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. agave nectar or maple syrup

2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4-1/3 c. chocolate chips, roughly chopped (or mini chocolate chips, if you have them)

1. In a blender mix the brown rice or quinoa, steel-cut oats, non-dairy milk, sunflower seed butter, canola oil, vanilla, and agave nectar. Don't liquify it completely; there should still be some texture from the grains.

2. Preheat and grease a frying pan or pancake griddle. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. When well-combined, stir in the chocolate chips. Then make a well in the center and pour in the liquid from the blender. Stir just until all the dry ingredients are moistened and then pour on the griddle. I made mini-pancakes for the kids by pouring just 2 Tbsp. batter on the griddle for each pancake, but make them as big as you like. Flip when the edges begin to bubble after 3 or 4 mins., then cook the other side for about 2 mins. more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Miracle Rice with Creamy Green Sauce

Abiline woke me up at 3:40am last Tuesday; she went back to bed, but I just hovered on the edge of sleep until I finally got out of bed at 5:30. No fun. Since becoming a mom, I have had many a day when I've had to run on less than 5 hours of sleep, but it is never pretty. (Literally not pretty: my face looks greyish-green on those days.)

On this particular sleepless day, we had nothing in our fridge that would pass for dinner, so instead of sleeping during the kids' nap-time, I had to cook. (I almost always cook dinner during nap-time because it is just too stressful, not to mention perilous, to juggle boiling pots, blenders, and hot ovens while Abiline is tearing at my heels begging to be held and Sawyer is braying for help finding misplaced toys.) Under these conditions, I was not too hopeful about the end result of any culinary efforts fueled by my addled brains. But I said a prayer, and, lo and behold, it was answered when the "Miracle Rice," as my husband calls it, was born. This dish truly was a miracle; I was so out of it that day that I could barely spell my name let alone make up a delicious recipe. The sauce sounds improbable, perhaps, but you really have to try it.  Everyone happily ate this baked rice dish for dinner three nights in a row--another miracle. It's a great meal for babies and toddlers, since there are no big chunks and can even be easily eaten with just fingers.

For the Creamy Green Sauce:
1 cup oat milk, or other non-dairy milk
1 c. water
2 tsp. vegetable broth powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt, depending on saltiness of your broth
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. onion powder
2/3 c. nutritional yeast
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard (I used stone ground)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. jalapeno jelly
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tahini
3 c. fresh spinach leaves
1 roasted red bell pepper (jarred kind)
1 1/2 c. or 1 can cooked chickpeas or white beans

For the rice:
2 cups short or long grain brown rice (I used a mix of both)
4 cups water

For the veggies:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn
3 large carrots, in 1/4 in. dice
1 large sweet potato, in 1/4 in. dice
1 red bell pepper, in 1/4 in. dice
1 yellow bell pepper, in 1/4 in. dice
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos, or soy sauce if no soy allergy
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
dash of salt and pepper

For the topping:
roughly 2/3c. pita chips or your favorite crackers (Could be made gluten-free)
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds

1. Prepare the rice on the stove-top by bringing the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot, then adding the rice, returning to a boil, lowering the heat, covering the pot, and simmering for 40-45 minutes, until all the water is absorbed, and the rice is tender.
2. While the rice cooks, prepare the vegetables and sauce. In a large skillet, heat the 2 Tbsp. olive oil and add the diced veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the kale leaves, liquid aminos, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, salt and pepper, stir around to combine, and then cover and steam for 7-10 minutes, until the kale is wilted and the veggies are tender. You can leave the veggies as they are, or, if you are catering to a toddler audience, pulse them in a food processor to get the pieces really fine.
3. Steam the spinach in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, and then combine with all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
4.  Pulse the pita chips or crackers and sunflower seeds in a food processor until crumbly.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 and oil a 11x15in. baking dish. When the rice is done, combine the rice and veggies in the pan, and then pour the sauce over the top. Mix it all together with a spoon to make sure everything is evenly moistened.  Sprinkle the cracker topping evenly over the rice and bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 10 more to get it a little crispy on top.

P.S. This is what I see when I call the kids in for dinner.  Cute, huh? Sawyer is now a superhero most days, and Abiline just wants to be like Sawyer. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Padeedledunk with Apple Butter Frozen Yogurt with Sunflower Seed Butter Praline Swirl

My mom's family has a family recipe for apple crisp for which my Grandpa Langlois made up the name "Padeedledunk."  The original recipe consists of lots of butter, white flour, white sugar, and some oats baked over apples or canned peaches. While Padeedledunk is totally delicious in its original form, I have updated the recipe a bit to better fit the diet of my immediate family, which is much heavier on the whole grains and lighter on the sugar and saturated fats.  We served this version to company for dessert this past weekend with some homemade apple butter frozen yogurt with sunflower seed butter praline swirl. (The name for the yogurt makes it sound way more complex than it is, so please don't be put off by that.) While it is a great dessert when paired with the frozen yogurt or just some vanilla coconut milk ice cream, I have been known to let Sawyer eat my Padeedledunk for breakfast. I know, I know; I am just not a sugar-free mom. I believe in treats--that they can be wholesome but still yummy and that in moderation they are an essential part of a healthy, satisfying diet.

For the Padeedledunk:
1 ½ c. rolled oats, ground fine in food processor (a bit chunkier than oat flour)
¾ cup rolled oats
1 cup white whole wheat flour or spelt flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ c. brown rice syrup or maple syrup
¼ c. agave nectar
1/3 c. melted coconut oil or canola oil

4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely sliced
1 Tbsp. liquid sweetener
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 in. pan. 
2. Combine apples, sweetener, and cinnamon in the oiled pan and press them down.
3. In a medium mixing bowl mix together oats, flour, and salt. Add brown rice syrup, agave, and oil and mix together with a fork until you have evenly moistened crumbs. 
4. Evenly spread the oat topping over the apples. 
5. Bake for 25-30 mins. in preheated oven, until top is slightly browned.

For the frozen yogurt:
½ c. coconut milk
1 ½ c. oat milk
½ c. apple butter
6 oz. plain non-dairy yogurt
2 Tbsp. melted soy-free Earth Balance margarine

¼ c. sunflower seed butter
¼ c. agave nectar
punch of sea salt
¼ c. candied sunflower seeds*
  1. Combine the coconut milk, oat milk, apple butter, yogurt, and melted earth Balance in a blender and puree until smooth. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. In a food processor combine the sunflower seed butter, agave, sea salt, and sunflower seeds and pulse to combine, leaving the seeds in tiny bits.
  3. Once the yogurt is frozen, scoop it into a large container for storing in the freezer, pour the sunflower seed butter praline on top, and swirl it in with a spoon. Quickly place in the freezer and re-freeze for about an hour to firm it up before serving.
* To make candied sunflower seeds:
1/2 Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance, coconut, or canola oil
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Melt the Earth Balance in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds and stir around for a few minutes until they start to smell toasty and are browning a bit. Add the agave, salt, and cinnamon and stir around for a few more minutes; be careful they don't burn. Remove the seeds from the heat and allow to cool.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Savory Black Bean Pumpkin Pie with Brown Rice Pastry Crust

Anthony asked me the other day why I keep making pies for dinner, in a curious not complaining way, and the answer is, of course, that pies are delicious.  Doesn't everyone appreciate a pastry crust? The kids sure do, which is the main incentive for me exerting my kitchen efforts in this direction. Ingredients that they might otherwise snub are relished when encased in flaky pie crust. The crust here is my favorite part of this pie; this is a great way to use leftover rice, and since the rice makes up most of the crust rather than flour, it is not heavy like many pie crusts are.

The black bean filling is a good way to get the kids to eat their beans, as these legumes and their tough exterior are not always smiled upon in my house when served whole. Sawyer happily gobbled up this pie, and Abiline really liked it, too, once I broke up the crust and smooshed it all together with a fork for easier chewing by someone with only six teeth. Anthony and I ate this with a salad of spinach, mangoes, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, and the cinnamon vinaigrette from Peas and Thank You, and they paired nicely together. (I am yet to entice Sawyer to eat salad. So far Abiline will suck the dressing off the leaves and take a few nibbles, but for the most part she just takes the fork and feeds the salad to me.)   

For the brown rice crust:
1 1/2 c. cooked short grain brown rice
1/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (could sub rice flour for gluten-free crust)
1 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. melted soy-free Earth Balance, coconut, or canola oil
2-3 Tbsp. cold water

For the black bean filling:
2 cups cooked black beans
2 Tbsp. chickpea miso (or standard white soy-based miso if you don't have a soy allergy)
3 Tbsp. apple butter
2 Tbsp. pumpkin seed butter (You could sub additional sunflower seed butter or ground pumpkin seeds)
1 Tbsp. sunflower seed butter
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. agave nectar

For the pumpkin topping:
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy-free vegan mayo, such as Earth Balance or Vegenaise makes
1 Tbsp. melted soy-free Earth Balance or coconut oil  
dash of ground black pepper

For the pumpkin seed garnish:
1/2 Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance, coconut, or canola oil
1/3 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and oil a 9 inch pie plate. Finely grind the cooked brown rice and pumpkin seeds in a food processor; don't let them turn into a paste--you just want them crumbly. In a medium bowl combine the ground rice and seeds with the flour and salt and stir to evenly combine.  Add the melted Earth Balance or oil and stir with a fork until crumbly. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed into a ball. Place the ball in the oiled pie plate and press it into the pan and up the sides.  Set the crust aside while you make the filling.
2. To prepare the filling, place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and fully combined. Scoop the filling into the prepared crust and smooth it out.
3. Stir the pumpkin topping ingredients together in a small bowl and then spread it evenly over the black bean filling.
4. Place the pie in the preheated oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. The topping will look a bit browned, but still a little unset in the middle, just like with dessert pumpkin pie.  While the pie is baking, prepare the pumpkin seed garnish by melting the Earth Balance in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir around for a few minutes until they start to smell toasty and are browning a bit. Add the agave, salt, and cinnamon and stir around for a few more minutes; be careful they don't burn. Remove the seeds from the heat. Once they are cool, transfer them to a food processor and pulse into small bits.  After removing the pie from the oven, sprinkle with the seeds before slicing and serving.