Creamed Kale…oh my!


I have been blogging about vegan food for over a month now, and one ingredient I have not yet used is ‘nutritional yeast’. I have asked the downstairs publix twice to order it for me, but for some reason, the request has failed to come through! On my way home from my second job at Sylvan Learning Center, I decided to stop into a Whole Foods and find the elusive nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is a ‘deactivated’ yeast, yellow in color, and cheesey/nutty in flavor. It is a source of protein and vitamins, and a cup of it cost me $0.78. While in Whole Foods, I logged into Pinterest on my phone and found a recipe that included my newly acquired yeast. I settled on a Creamed Kale Dish found here:

I love kale. I am sure I have said that somewhere on this blog before. If I haven’t, kale is amazing! Full of vitamins, great taste, and is generally a happy green leafy vegetable. The creamed kale dish called for the following:

4-6 leaves of Kale (I used 4, but should have used 6, it really boils down!)
Olive oil
1/4 cup soaked almonds (she suggests cashews, I had almonds at home! Soak them in water to make them easier to blend)
2 tbs honey mustard
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp garlic salt/seasoned salt
a few shakes of red paper flakes
prepared quinoa

I varied the recipe a bit. I did without the onion powder, added seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes.

Cut up the kale leaves and saute in olive oil. Placing the lid on the frying pan quickens this process.

Next, drain the almonds, and add the lemon juice, salt, milk, yeast, mustard, and red pepper to the blender and blend until smooth. Taste to make sure it is alright! Add ingredients where needed.

Once the Kale is wilted, add the blender mix, and cook until the sauce thickens. (I placed the lid back on for this). Serve over warm quinoa!

Vegan, healthy, and an amazing dish!

Thanksgiving leftovers? Amazing!

For the Thanksgiving break, my school gets the entire week off. Being that I was on vacation mode, I completely neglected the blog. Kristina has a similar excuse. While I feel that it is my history teacher duty to tell of the real story of Thanksgiving, this is a food blog and not a history blog and I will spare you the details.

Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday. She loves cooking and feeding people and is quite phenomenal at both. Because of this, I did not really cook the week I was home in Tallahassee. I also declared vegan amnesty during the week. I had once watched an interview with Bill Clinton (who is a vegan!), and he stated that he does eat a little bit of meat and some dairy during this holiday. I consider this close to a presidential pardon, and although I ate with caution, I did eat non-vegan food. I am really lucky and grateful to have such a supportive family during this dietary change, they altered some of the meals to help me! My mom cooked many of the dishes with EarthBalance vegan butter, and there were plenty of veggie based options throughout the weekend!

One of the things I did cook during the week was a post Thanksgiving dinner lunch. Inspired by the Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving sandwich at the Orlando sandwich shop PomPoms (if you are reading from Orlando, I highly recommend them!) I created a Thanksgiving Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 pieces of bread (I used sourdough because that was what was in the house)
stuffing
cranberry sauce
collards (my new FAVORITE leafy green veggie)

Place the leftovers on the sandwich.

Place delicately into the george forman and press down…cook until the top is crunchy!

Enjoy and bask in the awesomeness of a Thanksgiving left over sandwich. *Please do not feel limited by the ingredient list…the original sandwich has stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, turkey, and cream cheese…be creative!*

A rare lunch post! Mashed potatoes and veggies…


Kristina’s birthday is coming up! Last night we started the weekend birthday celebration with dinner out at Shipyard Brewery in Winter Park. (I recommend the flatbread pizza without goat cheese for a vegan meal, but can also speak highly of their meatball sub, Kristina’s favorite, which I had quite some time ago.) Kristina ordered mashed potatoes with her meal, and it inspired me to make some of my own!

I realize, of course, that I cannot only eat mashed potatoes for lunch, so I pulled out my vegetable drawer in my fridge, grabbed zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and mushroom, and tossed them onto my counter. While I contemplated their fate, I turned my attention to two small potatoes.

A few years ago my mom gave me a potato cooking pouch for Christmas. While I had used it before, it had been ages since I had potatoes in the house, and I forgot about the awesomeness of its power.

I washed, dried, and put two raw potatoes in the bag. I then microwaved the bag for 4 minutes, and the potatoes were completely cooked. MAGIC!

I then cut up the potatoes, put them in an oven safe bowl, added Earth Balance Butter, Plain Almond Milk, Mozzarella Daiya, black pepper, and rosemary, and stirred like crazy. This recipe can obviously be made non vegan with regular milk, butter, and cheese. The amounts vary depending on how creamy you desire your potatoes to be. I set the bowl aside and turned to the neglected vegetables.

My first step was to wash and chop. I then placed all of the veggies in a zipbloc bag (my new favorite cooking tool! Other than the potato pouch, of course.) I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the bag, sealed and shook. This allowed for all of the vegetables to become equally doused in the dressing. The now marinated veggies were spread out on a tin foil lined baking pan and placed in the oven on ‘broil’ which my oven states is around 500 degrees.

I left the vegetables in the oven until slightly crispy and very warm. During the last 3 minutes, I placed the potatoes back into the oven to reheat.

Half of my veggies are being saved for dinner (and are not pictured), the potatoes are all gone!

Vegan Caesar ‘Chicken’ Wrap


Last night I made the most amazing tortillas from scratch for wraps. IF you haven’t read that post, I highly suggest it! 🙂

Tonight I decided to use one of the tortillas to make a ‘caesar chicken’ wrap. In quotes because it is not dairy based caesar dressing, and is definitely not chicken. This meal, however, can easily be converted to a non vegan dish!

My grandpa makes the most amazing caesar dressing from scratch! At my grandparents house, dressing is either oil and vinegar, or homemade caesar! My parents took that tradition, and growing up we almost always had a small salad after dinner. For a few years, I was in charge of making the salad…and the caesar dressing. (We did also have store bought dressing, but there were a few years we were mainly making out own!). The recipe is simple and delicious. Since the recipe varies greatly depending on the number of people eating, and the size of the salad, I will use proportions in the recipe.

at least 2 cloves of garlic pressed
3 parts olive oil
2 parts dijon mustard
1 part lemon juice
black pepper to taste

My grandpa adds anchovies on occasion… Stir the ingredients together, and mix over the salad!

I used Morning Glory’s “Chick’n strips” which are soy and veggie based. While the taste is a little bland, they look like real chicken!

Of course, if you prefer real chicken, you can use that too! I cooked the fake chicken in a frying pan with some seasoning until they were warm and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, I combined spinach, chopped mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, and Daiya mozzarella cheese (you can easily sub regular mozzarella or parmesan)

in a sandwich sized plastic bag.

I added the dressing, and the now cooked chicken (which I chopped into small pieces). I then sealed the bag, and shook it rather vigorously. The goal is to coat everything with the dressing! This also is an easy way to not use a ton of dishes. The plastic bag is disposable, and everything is evenly coated. This method also works when marinating food.

I microwaved the tortilla, emptied the contents of the plastic bag onto the warm tortilla, rolled, and ate!

I am so happy with this meal, that it is going to become a regularly occurring lunch item for me! Hooray for wraps!

Veggie Hummus Wrap in a Homemade Tortilla!

Hello readers! The past few days have been busy and quite hectic, leaving me and Kristina to eating leftovers or hurried meals not worthy of blogging. I have maintained a vegan diet during these days (which, I will admit was slightly difficult!) Tonight though, I decided to clean out some of the vegetables in my fridge and dine on a healthy wrap. Since I had all of the inside ingredients at home, I ventured briefly to Publix to acquire tortilla wraps.

My eating style has led me down some weird paths. I am constantly reading labels, and making decisions based on whether or not I can pronounce the ingredients. I was deeply disappointed when I started to read the labels on the tortilla packages. While many did not have dairy, they had a ton of chemicals that did not sound at all appetizing. I remembered that I had once successfully made homemade pita bread, and I whipped out my iphone and searched for homemade tortillas. A long list of recipes and ideas came up! I finally settled on one that only had four ingredients.

Home Made Tortilla Ingredients:

2 cups of flour (I used unbleached organic flour that was on sale!)
3/4 cup of water (warm, almost boiling)
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (I used seasoned salt)

Mix the flour and salt together. Add the olive oil and mix. Slowly (and carefully!) add the water. Stir together until the spoon becomes cumbersome, and then knead with your hands. Once the dough is smooth (add more water if necessary) let it sit for 10 minutes.

After the dough has had time to rise a bit, and consolidate, it is time to roll it into tortillas. A rolling pin would be useful in this scenario. I unfortunately do not own one, so I used a bottle of wine. Flatten out the tortillas until a desirable size and thickness, make sure to add flour to prevent sticking!

The original recipe said to fry the tortilla, I was not successful in that adventure. I tried using a George Foreman, but it came out with funky lines. The best method so far is to place it on a lined baking pan, and cook on broil until bubbles start to appear in the dough.

The Fillings

If you have read the blog, you know that I love hummus…to the point of obsession. I have included several hummus recipes on here, so I am going to just outline the ingredients.

Hummus


Chickpeas
3 garlic cloves
Olive Oil
Lemon juice (a tiny tiny amount)
Cumin
Coriander
Black Pepper
Seasoned Salt
Parsley
Water (a tiny amount!)

Add all to blender, blend, enjoy!

Now for the cleaning out of the kitchen. This meal (and the various left overs) used:

1/2 zucchini (diced)
1 yellow squash (diced)
4 baby bella mushrooms (diced)
1 cup fresh spinach
5 cherry tomatoes (chopped)
handful of cooked black eyed peas
handful of cooked quinoa (if you have never tried quinoa go to the store immediately. It is a grain, packed with protein, and it will change your life!)

I lightly sauteed the zucchini, squash and mushrooms in olive oil until tender.

I then took my tortilla, slathered it with hummus. Placed spinach leaves on top, added quinoa, black eyed peas, the sauteed veggies, and tomatoes,

and attempted to roll into a burrito styled wrap. I got half way there. After the first bite though, it hardly mattered what shape it was in, I was in food heaven!

Broccoli and “cheese” soup… with potatoes!

One of my absolute favorite dishes growing up was broccoli cheese soup. There was just something about the glowing warmth of the broccoli coupled with the strong taste of cheddar that made me enjoy broccoli at an early age. My mother also made the most amazing soup, thick and creamy (she used half and half!), with a side of sourdough bread it was hard to want to eat anything else!

When I first tried going vegan three years ago, broccoli and cheese soup was the only thing I really missed. I could not find a decent substitute! My feeble attempts at broccoli and cheese vegan style were too watery, the ‘cheese’ was weird, and the mixture was just…bad. If I recall correctly, real broccoli and cheese soup was one of the first dishes I went to when I “fell off the wagon”. For the record, this is my third time trying to be a vegan…so far, so good.

With this history, you can only imagine my joy when I found a recipe for “cheesey broccoli and potato soup” on pinterest. I admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. But after trying this out, and making a few additions, I am pleased to announce that I have found a replacement!

To counterbalance the watery feeling of this dish I used potatoes, almond milk, and earth balance butter! Daiya cheese, both mozzarella and cheddar, made up the delicate cheese taste, and I spiced the sauce using red pepper flakes and black pepper. Perfect!

Ingredients

3 medium-ish potatoes
1 bag of fresh broccoli (or one head)
3 garlic cloves
1 cup of broth
1 cup of almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup of daiya cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of daiya mozzarella
3 tbs of earth balance
black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
sea salt for the water

I garnished with daiya cheddar, tomatoes, and green onions.

First boil a pot of water, peel and cut the potatoes, and add them to the water. After about five minutes, add the broccoli. Cover and let the vegetables boil until soft. Once soft, drain the vegetables, and put them in a blender (1. careful,they are hot! 2. hooray ninja!), add one cup of broth, garlic, and one cup of almond milk. Blend. Add earth balance, daiya cheeses, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Blend again. Blend until the entire mix is creamy (taste to see what you need more of!). I transferred the blended mixture back into the pan to heat as the broth and milk cooled the mixture considerably.

Once the soup is an acceptable temperature, serve, garnish if desired, and enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms

as all of you may know, Jenni and I have a love for mushrooms that is endless. Almost as endless as Jenni’s love of Chickpeas, Hummus, and Broccoli. Except, Jenni can actually get me to eat mushrooms without an earth shattering battle, me screeching about devil vegetables, and threatening to damn her to the deepest pits of the world while trying to feed me the foul tree like object.

Meeting on the grounds of our mutual love, we decided to make Stuffed Mushrooms. Normally I’d make them with marscapone cheese, but with Jenni being vegan and me respecting her food choices when we eat together I went a different root.

For this recipe you will need:

10-15 medium to large sized mushrooms, we used white mushrooms.
1 cup breadcrumbs (vegan breadcrumbs, if you cook like us)
1 small onion
3-4 cloves garlic
Fresh Parsley
Fresh Basil
olive oil

First step is to carefully remove the stems of the mushrooms, but do not discard them you will be using these for the stuffing. After you’ve removed all of the stems, chop the stems up nice and small along with the garlic, onions, basil, parsley and put it in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Cook it all down until soft and then mix it in with the bread crumbs. Make sure it is mixed good, when it is you will need to carefully stuff the mushrooms with the mixture. Like I said make sure you do it carefully, because when stuffing the mushrooms can break. Bake in the oven at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

These came out fantastic, I love mushrooms and frankly it tastes like thanksgiving stuff made home inside one of my favorite veggies.

Enjoy!

Guacamole Hummus Dip (or as Jenni called it Bipartisan Dip)

I do not own a television. This has led to quite a peaceful life, particularly during election season! The lack of tv was a bit difficult during the debates (I streamed everything!), but I wanted to be with friends on election night.

When feeding a group, particularly during a tense atmosphere, it is important to have food that appeals to multiple parties. Tonight I present bipartisan dip! Instead of the infamous seven layer dip, this one is two layers, hummus and guacamole. This dish was not only a hit with Kristina, but with her roommate Dale and his girlfriend Natalie. Dale: “You can taste the freshness of the avocados! It was fantastic!” Natlie: “This is delicious!”

Hummus

1 can of chickpeas (used a can since I was not cooking at home and needed something quick!)
1/2 lemon
1 tbs water
3 tbs olive oil (or until creamy)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 tbs corriander
a few shakes of red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a blender (or ninja!) until creamy. Season to taste. I had to add a little more water to ensure a creamy consistency. Place the hummus in a container and wait for the guacamole.

Kristina here! I made the guacamole using:

1 tbsp cilantro (I used flakes because it was cheaper)
3 avocados
3 small tomatillos
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a blender, we prefer ninja blenders, until it is creamy, I tasted it after it seemed well blended and added a little bit more garlic, but that is just my preference.

Spread the guacamole over the hummus, garnish with cilantro (I would have used tomatoes if we had them) Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy this dual dish!

Guest Post: Collin’s Strawberry ice cream with honey-balsamic swirl

Dan “Collin” Miranda is one of my lovely friends from High school, over the summer I kept seeing his posts and pictures of all these amazing looking icecream creations. I knew that I had to ask him to guest blog, I hope you all enjoy this post. Thanks again Collin 😀 -Kristina

I’m not much of a dessert guy. I’d take savory over sweet, hands down, any day. Ice cream is my exception to this. I’m of the firm belief that any dessert worth its salt — pie, cake, muffin, waffle, doughnut, whatever — is only complete with a scoop of ice cream.

Despite a life of love, I only started making ice cream two summers ago. My girlfriend and I, on a night nearing the end of my senior year, were having a discussion about our greatest common interest: making and eating food. Ice cream inevitably entered the conversation, and we started naming any crazy flavor that entered our imagination. We came up with 102 flavors, our imaginations ending on peanut butter curry.

I requested an ice cream machine for my graduation present, and my mom, fellow ice cream enthusiast, obliged. After several unimpressive or outright failed attempts, I got the hang of making it. I began taking custom birthday requests from friends and co-workers; the experience from doing this has been invaluable and has led to such awesome creations as avocado ice cream with bits of candied bacon, and the following recipe.

The strawberry ice cream base itself is a modified adaptation of a Jeni Bauer recipe. She has an understanding behind the chemistry of ice cream that rivals Walter White’s understanding behind the chemistry of meth, and much of what I know I’ve learned through her recipes.

Yield: ≈1 quart

1 ½ pints sliced strawberries (and a few extra as a garnish or if you enjoy frozen strawberry chunks)
1 ⅓ cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons & 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 ¼ ounces softened cream cheese
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup buttermilk
2 cups balsamic vinegar
honey (I used orange blossom, but your favorite kind of honey should work just fine)

1) Put strawberries in a glass baking dish and stir in ⅔ cup of sugar. Allow to macerate for 15-30 minutes while preheating the oven to 375°F. Roast strawberries until soft — about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

2) Blend strawberries with the lemon juice until pureed. Set aside.

3) Using a fork, mix the cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4) Also with a fork, mix the cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of milk in a tiny bowl or ramekin. It’ll be a bit tough and gummy at first, but should become totally liquid in no time. Set aside.

5) Put milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in a pot. You’ll want a rather large pot to prevent the mixture from boiling over. Using a rubber spatula, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves completely. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Immediately set a timer for four minutes and continue stirring.

6) Take the pot off the burner. Stir your cornstarch mix with a fork a bit more, then pour it into your milk mixture while stirring vigorously with a whisk. You don’t want the cornstarch to settle at the bottom of the pot; it will burn.

7) Put the pot back on the burner at medium-high heat and continue stirring using a wooden spatula. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir to dislodge any settled cornstarch. Return the mixture to a boil.

8) Every 30 seconds or so, use your finger to swipe a line horizontally on the back of your wooden spatula. If the line stays clear, your mixture is thick enough. Take the pot off the burner.

9) Slowly pour a little bit of the milk into the cream cheese. Whisk until you’ve gotten as many lumps out as possible. Repeat this step until you’ve poured all the milk into the cream cheese and the mixture is lump-free.

10) Whisk in the buttermilk and ½ cup of the strawberry puree. Taste. Continue whisking in strawberry puree in ½ cup increments until desired taste is reached, but be careful! If the ice cream base gets too watery, you’ll get an icier texture in the end; find a balance that works for you.

11) Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic makes contact with top of the mixture — this prevents the milk from forming a film. Store in the refrigerator overnight, until chilled.

12) Pour the balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and cook over medium/medium-low heat. You’ll want to turn on your kitchen vents and open a window for this part; the fumes can get pretty harsh. Stir occasionally until the vinegar has been reduced to about ½-¼ of the original volume. Be patient; this could take a good while. Allow vinegar reduction to cool. It should become syrupy.

13) Mix small amounts of honey into the balsamic until desired taste is achieved. I personally enjoy mine more on the tart side; it contrasts nicely with the sweet strawberry ice cream.

14) Once your strawberry ice cream base is well-chilled, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you like frozen chunks of strawberry in your ice cream, you should throw them in about 5 minutes before you’re done churning.

15) Now it’s time to pack your ice cream! Alternate between putting a few spoonsful of the honey-balsamic and a few scoops of the ice cream into your container, creating the swirl as you go. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and a drizzle of honey-balsamic. Cover with parchment paper, then the lid. Pop it in the freezer for a few hours, and it’s ready to serve!

Dan “Collin” Miranda plays video games, writes and makes food (especially ice cream). He often tries to combine these three interests with varying success. He is the founder of Sidequester.com, which he swears he’ll actually start updating again one day, OK?

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Nikki Guest Blog: Funfetti Cookies


Today’s post comes from my dear sister Nikki. Yesterday afternoon she surprised me with photos of something she baked…and the instructions to take the night off. Being that last night ended in tremendous failure, I should have probably heeded her advice (how could she have known??)

Her recipe is for Funfetti Cookies, a baking feat that is easy, but looks incredible.

Ingredients

1 box of funfetti cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup of oil
1 can of frosting

If I were to cook this for myself, I would substitute a can of sprite for the eggs and oil (it works! I promise! Just not on cake pops…do not substitute this in a cake pop recipe). I could also suggest using two tablespoons of milled flax seed mixed with six table spoons of water to create a “binding agent” aka eggs. However, if you are ok with eating eggs, you should not mess with a good thing!

Mix the ingredients together and round into little balls. Cook at 365 for 7 minutes. Remove from baking sheet immediately and set to cool. Wait 10 minutes before putting icing and sprinkles on. Amazing!