Friday, September 30, 2011

Oatmeal Pudding

My mom has a number of champion signature creations for which she is well-known, the most original probably being her cottage cheese pudding. I still embrace its deliciousness, even though I can no longer eat it. The pudding is made from a pint of cottage cheese, 2 cups of milk, 1/2 c. flour, cherry, lemon, or orange extract, 2 eggs, and a not insignificant amount of sugar, which are all pureed together in the blender and then baked for 50 minutes.  It has a light cheesecake-like consistency.  My mom told me once that the pudding was one of few recipe successes she had back in her teenage dieting days when she experimented with a number of "healthy" creations that were better-suited for use in a game of tennis than for food. (I think any honest kitchen-experimenter would admit that we've all had our share of insipid rock-like creations!)

When Sawyer was a baby, before soy allergies were a concern, I tried to make a dairy-free, egg-free version of Mom's pudding using tofu instead of cottage cheese, but the texture was not dense enough, and it just had too much of that tofu taste--perhaps because I wasn't willing to add the gobs of sugar necessary to mask it.

I had given up on making a vegan version of the much beloved baked pudding until I stumbled upon a replacement a few days ago. I was trying to make some flour-less blender pancakes and the batter turned out way too thin. Once I had doctored it up, I knew that I no longer had pancakes on my hands, so I turned on the oven, poured the batter into a pan and baked it for 50 minutes. When I unveiled it from behind the oven door, by George I had an oatmeal pudding with a cottage-cheese pudding-like consistency! I am the first to admit that, no, it is not the same, but it is delicious in its own right. I hope that it will hold the same fond place in my children's hearts when they grown up as cottage cheese pudding does in mine.

2 cups rolled oats, soaked overnight and then squeezed dry
1 1/2 c. cooked white beans, or 1 can drained
1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1/3 c. pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. shredded, unsweetened dried coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. canned pineapple
1/2 c. pitted dates, soaked in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until soft
1 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I have used oat and hemp)
1/4 tsp. stevia powder (optional, for a bit of extra sweetness) 
1 tsp. imitation almond extract, coconut extract, or orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 in. square baking dish. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. It will be jiggly, but will become more firm upon refrigeration. 

My kids have liked it both warm and cold, so go ahead and try it both ways! A sprinkling of raisins is a good addition, as well as sliced banana smeared with sunflower seed butter.  Be sure to not leave your child alone with the sunflower seed butter if you decide to go that route (See right. And, yes, I let my kids eat honey. I believe we need to cultivate bees to avoid their extinction and that of our crops.) It would have been good with raspberries as well, but Sawyer ate them all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Delectable Mango Raspberry Bars with Sherbet

I was going to make lemon bars for our guests, but I wanted to make ice cream, and I just don't fancy eating ice cream with lemon bars. They are a stand-alone treat in my mind.  I knew I wanted a fruity dessert, not chocolatey, and once I saw the mangoes and raspberries in our freezer, the idea for this recipe hatched in my mind. The bars are a cross between cake and cookie, as they are moist like cake, but dense like a cookie. This is my first time experimenting with using stevia powder in my baked goods. It worked nicely in combination with some 'real' sugar to create the right amount of sweetness without it being overbearing.

Sawyer and Abiline liked the sherbet the best; they don't usually go for cookie/ cake desserts because they are too full for it once dinner is over. While most adults have developed a separate stomach for dessert, when my kids are full, that's it--it doesn't matter how tantalizing the treat is that I place before them. Ice cream seems to be the one exception, though. I think since it melts as they lick the cone, the ice cream just slips between the cracks and doesn't require much belly room.  

For the cookie bar base:
1/4 c. coconut butter (You could probably sub. vegan margarine)
1/2 c. mangoes (I used frozen)
1/4 c. evaporated cane juice, or your choice of dry sweetener
2 Tbsp. coconut milk
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp. orange juice (Squeeze all the juice out of the orange. You should get about 3 Tbsp. Use 1 Tbsp. in the base and the rest in the topping.) 
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

For the raspberry topping:
1/4 c. frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp. soy-free Earth Balance
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. orange juice (leftover from orange used in the base)
1/4 c. evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp. stevia powder
1/2 tsp. agar powder

1. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a 9 inch square baking pan.
2. Puree the coconut butter, mangoes, evaporated cane juice, coconut milk, and the zest and juice of the orange in a food processor until smooth.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the puree from the food processor and stir until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Spread in the prepared baking pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
4.  While the bars cool, prepare the topping. In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, Earth balance, coconut oil, orange juice, evaporated cane juice, stevia, and agar powder. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until the margarine melts, all is well combined, and the mixture is bubbling around the edges. Allow to cool a bit before pouring over the bars. Place the bars in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the topping to set. Serve with the sherbet below for a real treat!

For the Mango Raspberry Sherbet 
1/2 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. frozen mangoes
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1/4 c. agave nectar
1/4 tsp. stevia powder, or more, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and then transfer to your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. This stuff hardens a little too well once frozen more than a few hours (I think because of the fruit), so you will need to leave it on the counter for a few minutes before you can scoop it once it has been in the freezer for a while.

This sherbet really helped Abiline cool off--that cool dudette!
This is the face Sawyer makes when his ice cream is too cold. The winter cap seemed a bit dramatic, but maybe he got a brain freeze.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Best (So Far) Uncheese Pasta Sauce

You may be aware of the delicious (or so I hear) cashew-based cheese sauce that is served at Real Food Daily here in the Los Angeles area. The recipe is in the restaurant's cookbook, and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau put it in her Color Me Vegan cookbook as well because it is just that good.  I decided to adapt the recipe to suit those with nut allergies, so I replaced the cashews with sunflower seeds, and found it to be super-delicious with the addition of 1-2 tsp agave nectar to compensate for the fact that cashews are much sweeter than sunflower seeds. This recipe can hardy be called my own creation, but I wanted to share with those of you who may not have tried this sauce because of the cashews. My kids LOVE it on their pasta.

1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 1/2 c. oat milk
1/4 c. full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp. arrowroot powder
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbsp. chickpea miso
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tsp. agave nectar

1. Finely grind the sunflower seeds in a food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and pulse to combine.
2. In a saucepan, combine the oat milk, coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and oil and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and stir occasionally until thickened.
3. Add the milk mixture to the sunflower seed mixture in the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the miso, lemon juice, and 1 tsp. agave and blend again.  Taste and add additional agave if needed.

Cheesy Sweet Potato 'Bacon' Calzones

We invited our friends over for dinner on Labor Day, but when I did the grocery shopping on Friday, I hadn't planned for anything fancy, so I had to get creative. Sometimes it can be foolish to experiment with new recipes when you are having guests, since the results do have the potential to be inedible, but I had to take the chance and dream up some calzones (calzoni?).  Our friends said they were delicious, and it must be trues since there was only one left over. While I was munching on it for lunch the next day, Abiline grabbed it from me and finished it off.  It's like she was lying in wait for me to eat enough of it so that it could be small enough for her to hold. But I was so thrilled she liked it that I didn't mind my lunch being pilfered.

The directions look really involved, but the recipe really didn't take that long overall--the dough instructions just makes it seem complicated.  

For the dough I just adapted the recipe for basic pizza crust in the revised version of Feeding the Whole Family.
 2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 c. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
4-5 cups white whole wheat flour

For the filling:
2 lb. sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos, or soy sauce if you don't have a soy allergy
2 Tbsp. coconut manna/butter
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 c. white beans, or one can, drained
3 pieces seitan bacon, or tempeh bacon if you don't have a soy allergy
1 1/2-2 c. shredded Diaya vegan mozzarella  

For kale "parmesan" sprinkles:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. shelled pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds 

For the creamy tomato sauce:
3 Tbsp. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
1/2 c. plain non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
1 c. marinara**

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water and stir in the yeast. Let stand 5-10 mins., until the yeast bubbles up and shows signs of life.
2. Add the salt, olive oil, and 2 cups of flour and mix together. keep adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is solid enough to knead, but still pliable. At this point, I use  the dough hook on Kitchenaid stand mixer to knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until smooth and supple, adding flour 1 tbsp at a time as necessary if it is getting too sticky. You could also knead by hand for 8-10 mins.
3. Pour about 1 tsp. oil in a large bowl, form the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl, and turn the ball to coat in the oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk and a wet finger poked into the middle leaves an impression without the dough filling back in. (I put my dough on top of the oven while I was making the calzone filling, and that was plenty warm.)
4.  Make the calzone filling while the dough rises. Preheat the oven to 350 and liberally oil a large baking dish. I used my 11 x 18 in Pyrex. Place the diced sweet potatoes in the baking pan; in a small bowl combine the tahini, marmalade, coconut butter, coconut aminos, pepper, and onion powder until well blended (if necessary heat in the microwave for a minute to soften the coconut butter) and then pour over the potatoes. Stir to thoroughly coat all the pieces, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for 45-60 mins, until the potatoes are very soft and falling apart when poked with a fork.
 5. About halfway through the sweet potato cooking time, combine the kale, olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes, until the kale is crispy and just starting to brown. Place the kale, nutritional yeast, and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse until you get a parmesan-like consistency.
6. Once out of the oven, scoop the roasted sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl, and add the beans, crumbled seitan bacon, and kale parmesan. Mash it all together with a potato masher, leaving it a bit chunky.
6. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heating over medium heat, stirring frequently until it thickens.
7. Once the dough has risen enough (see finger-poke test above), gently deflate the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and use a wet knife to cut it into 8 roughly equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball and cover with the damp towel to rest for about 10 mins, until the sides of the dough start to sag. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 450 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Take one dough ball at a time, place it on the parchment paper, and use damp fingertips to spread it out into a circle, about 5-6 in. in diameter. Spread about 2 Tbsp. sauce on the dough, top with a bit of Daiya vegan cheese, and then place  about 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling on one side of the circle, fold the other side over the filling, and crimp the edges together. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. You should be able to fit 4 calzones on each baking tray. Place the trays in the preheated oven for 6 mins, and then switch the trays so that the one one the bottom goes on the top rack and vice versa, and then bake for 6 mins. more. Let cool for a good 15 mins. before serving, as the filling is quite hot.

**The calzone recipe is already involved enough, but if you prefer to make your own marinara like I do because it's cheaper and tastier, here is my recipe. I make huge batches of this and keep it in the freezer.

Hearty Marinara
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, preferably) or 4 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. unrefined sugar
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. dried basil
¼-1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Dash of pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  1. If using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil and drop tomatoes in to boil for 30 seconds. Drain and place tomatoes in cold water for a few minutes. Once cool, peel off skins, squeeze out seeds, and coarsely chop.
  2. Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse until mostly smooth.
  3. Place tomatoes, olive oil, sugar, agave, basil, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a large pot and bring to a boil over med. heat. Lower heat as low as it will go and simmer for about 30, until sauce has reduced. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ultimate Black Bean Cake Brownies

I know, there are numerous black bean brownie recipes out there, but you really have to try mine. These are cakey brownies, for sure, and very good bare, but the frosting takes them to the next level.  The frosting came about when I noticed a package of Mori-Nu Pudding Mates that I had purchased before we found out Abiline was allergic to soy.  I didn't want it to go to waste, so I decided to try to make the pudding with beans instead of tofu, and my audacity was rewarded with delicious results that surprised even me, as, to be honest, I was skeptical of my own creation.

To make a full confession, I feed the brownies to my kids sometimes as part of their lunch; they are full of beans, whole grains, and are low-sugar--what more could you want! With the frosting on, though, I admit that they become more of a dessert. To make a full, full, confession, I have been known to eat both the brownies and frosting for breakfast with banana and sunflower seed butter layered on top.  Anyone who has read my pumpkin bar post would perhaps think that this decadence confirms that I am my mother's daughter--and I would proudly say that you are right!

For the brownies:
2 c. rolled oats, soaked in water overnight and then drained and squeezed dry (save the oat milk and use it in recipes!)

1/2 c. dates, covered in boiling water, and allowed to soften for 10 minutes and then drained
1  c. black beans
1/2 ripe, medium banana
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. canola oil
2/3 c. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. chocolate chips, ground finely in a food processor

For the frosting:

1 1/2 c. or 1 can white beans
1 package chocolate Mori-Nu Pudding Mates
2 Tbsp. coconut manna/butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 in. square baking pan. Ina  food processor, combine the soaked oats and dates, black beans, banana, vanilla, agave, applesauce, and oil and puree until smooth.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder, and then stir in the ground chocolate chips. Add the wet ingredients from the food processor to the bowl and mix just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 28-32 mins, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  let cool on a wire rack before enjoying with or without the frosting.
3. To make the frosting, combine the beans, Mori-Nu Pudding Mates, and coconut butter in a food processor and buzz until smooth.

Lemon Poppyseed Summer Squash Bread

A few days ago our friend next door brought us over some extra yellow squash, which I gladly accepted, but I wasn't sure how best to put it to use. I had heard of using yellow summer squash in bread instead of its close cousin zucchini, but I just don't have a good zucchini bread recipe--or, rather, there are plenty of good-tasting recipes out there, but they are more like cake and aren't what I'm looking to feed my family on a regular basis. So I made up this recipe that is just sweet enough without overdoing it. The yellow squash gives this lemon bread a nice yellow hue and also makes it super-moist. Abiline was probably the biggest fan of this creation, actually pointing to the loaf in the fridge and grunting for more. 

Makes two loaves
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 scant tsp. salt
1/2 c. evaporated cane juice or other dry sweetener
1/4 c. poppy seeds
1 1/2 c. finely grated yellow squash
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. lemon extract

1/4 c. lemon juice
1 1/4 c. lemon-flavored non-dairy yogurt (I used home-made coconut milk yogurt)
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
1/2 c. canola or coconut oil (I used 1/4 c. of each, since coconut oil gives that extra richness, but it is just so expensive!)

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease two loaf pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and evaporated cane juice. Stir in the poppy seeds and then the grated squash and lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the lemon extract, lemon juice, yogurt, maple syrup, applesauce, non-dairy milk, and oil, and stir just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Divide the dough evenly between the two pans and bake in the preheated oven for 55-65 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 mins. on a wire rack, and then run a knife along the edges and turn the bread out of the pan onto the rack to cool all the way down before slicing.