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.