Category Archives: Entrees

Kim’s Magical Blackberry Salad

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Kim is no ordinary hostess. When you dine with Kim and her husband Henry, you’re in for an evening of fine entertaining. We were treated to just such a meal. And dang it, we didn’t have a camera along. The decor, the tablescape – every detail was considered and lovely, yet casual and non-intimidating.

Not to mention the food. I wish there were images to share. We did save the printed menu card… check it out below the recipe. Yeah, that was dinner!

After the feast, Kim was kind enough to share her amazing Blackberry Salad recipe with me. It’s really special – you’re going to want to make it for someone you’d like to impress. Maybe a date or SO, perhaps a parent or neighbor or co-worker. Maybe you just want a special meal for yourself. You deserve it.

Kim’s Magical Blackberry Salad

Dressing:

1/3 cup pomegranate juice

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. agave nectar

juice and zest of one lime

salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:

1 bunch leaf lettuce, chopped

1 cup fresh kale, chopped and masssaged

1 avocado, sliced

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced

1 cup fresh blackberries

2 green onions, chopped

 

Combine pom juice, red wine vinegar, oilve oil, agave nectar, lime juice, lime zest and salt/pepper in a jar with a lid. Shake well until combined.

Toss the leaf lettuce, kale, avocado, kiwi, blackberries and green onion with the dressing and serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: Kim made this extra special by tossing pom seeds into the salad, but we couldn’t find any. If you got ’em, add ’em. Other optional additions she suggests include apple or pear slices, or make this a main dish salad by adding a protein like chickpeas. We love the dressing so much, we often make a triple batch and use it on our daily lunch salads. It keeps in a fridge for about a week – if it lasts that long!

 

Kim’s Menu ~

 

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

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In our non-blog life, the Dirty Hippie and I are commercial photographers, and for the past seven years, we’ve had a great assistant named Jess. She’s been much, much more than any one else affiliated with our little photo company. Over the years, Jess has become a close friend and annually, we celebrate the day she started working for us with a special meal. Eggplant is her favorite veggie, so this recipe is a healthier version of the Chinese-takeout classic Jess adores. Thank you Jess! It’s been a wonderful seven years working with you!!

Try Jess’ new fave at home served over steamed rice. It’s vegan and gluten-free. Serves about 4 to 6 for dinner with rice.

 

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

2 lbs. Asian eggplant, sliced and sweated

1 cup fresh red peppers, chopped

1 cup white onions, chopped

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

1 Tbs. peanut oil

Sauce:

6 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

6 Tbs. tamari sauce

2 Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot

4 Tbs. coconut sugar

4 to 6 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

4-5 Tbs. peanut oil

hot pepper paste (to taste)

1 tbs. minced hot pepper, such as jalapeno (optional)

To garnish:

chopped scallions

chopped cilantro

sesame seeds

chopped peanuts

To sweat your eggplant, slices them into long pieces and place on paper towels on a cookie/baking sheet. Sprinkle salt over all cut sides and sit aside to rest for about 30 minutes. By then, sweating process will make the eggplant less bitter. Blot off and get going on the rest of the recipe. We usually start this and then start the steamed rice, so everything is ready at the same time.

In a bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Stir well and set aside.

Add eggplant, chopped onion, chopped red pepper, and cubed tofu to a large pan or wok. Toss with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and lightly saute over medium heat, stirring often, until onions begins to wilt and tofu lightly browned. This will be about five to seven minutes.

When veggies are warmed through and tofu is getting crispy, pour in the sauce and fold to coat evenly. Lower heat and stir occasionally, allowing veggies and tofu to take on the flavor of the sauce. As it cooks, sauce will thicken and reduce. Leave on heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is at desired texture.

Serve warm over steamed rice. Garnish with chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds and/or chopped peanuts.

 

Oh, and this is Jess. She’s stealing a smooch from our hound Valerio…

 

Carly’s Cucumber Hummus

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Our friend Carly was faced with a task – use up a LOT of cucumbers. We loved her cucumber salad, her cucumber lemonade and then… she made this incredible cucumber hummus.

It’s surprising, refreshing and downright addicting! Before we knew it, we had munched through the entire batch. Good thing our garden yields loads of cucumbers. Step outside the usual dip this summer and give Carly’s Cucumber Hummus a try. It’s gluten free, SOS-free and easy to make! Oh – and make sure you have plenty of crackers and carrot sticks. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself eating this with a spoon.

 

 

Carly’s Cucumber Hummus

3 14-oz. cans of chickpeas

1 cucumber (skin on)

4 to 5 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/3 cup of fresh basil

1 1/2 Tbs. light miso

 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve chilled with veggies, crackers or whatever you like to eat with hummus! Also makes a tasty sandwich!

Springtime White Bean and Fennel Soup

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Our local farmer’s market is up and running, and already there are loads of gorgeous greens . This week, we tried something different (or different to us) and went with fennel. Sure, we’ve used fennel a handful of times and it’s a nice crunchy, surprise in salads or as a pizza topping.  There have been a number of cool, rainy nights in our area though, so we opted for soup. Also highlighted – another spring green, spinach! This recipe is gluten-free and SOS-free. It makes about ten portions.

 

 

Springtime White Bean and Fennel Soup

 

1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 cups chopped fennel bulb and stalk, a few fronds reserved

1/2 cup plus 8 cups vegetable broth/stock (store bought or homemade)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

1/2 tsp. ground sage

1 bay leaf

1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

2 15-oz. cans of white beans, rinsed and drained

pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup fresh spinach, cut into ribbons

 

In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute chopped red onion, chopped fennel bulb/stalk and 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  Saute, sitrring often, until onion is soft and wilty, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups remaining broth, minced garlic, dried thyme, white pepper, ground sage, bay leaf and canned tomatoes with all juices. Cover soup pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until all fennel is very tender and flavors have combined to create a fragrant soup.

Remove from heat, take out bay leaf, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove soup in batches and blender until smooth in a regular blender or food processor. Be sure to vent regular blender/processor, lest the steam from the hot soup builds up.

Once the soup is smooth, add chopped tofu cubes, rinsed beans and optional red pepper flakes. Simmer over low heat an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir in spinach ribbons and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

Cook’s Note: This soup is even better the second day!

GF Vegan Mac n’ Cheese & the 2nd Annual #MacSmack

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Gooey, creamy mac ‘n cheese goodness. You know, it’s funny how often people assume that mac n’ cheese is not on the vegan radar. But WHY? Vegans love mac n’ cheese. And we’ll line up for it. Like at an all vegan mac n’ cheese cook-off. Yeah, there’s one coming up in Baltimore on February 18. It’s the 2nd annual Vegan Mac N’ Cheese Smackdown, produced by Baltimore Vegan Drinks and PEP Foods as a fundraiser for Thrive Baltimore, the new all-vegan community center.

You may want to go ahead a buy a ticket now, cuz this thing is epic. Last year more than 1000 people showed up to partake in the vegan cheesy goodness!

2016 Smackdown

The 2016 Vegan Mac and Cheese Smackdown!

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Alas, we can’t throw our hats into the ring in 2017 because we’re helping with the event. But gosh… it would be so much fun to compete! One of these days. If anyone would like to compete FOR us, I’m going to put it out there. This is our latest vegan mac, made entirely gluten free too.

Anyhow, hope we see everyone on February 18. Can’t wait for all the amazing vegan mac and cheese!!

 

 

Gluten Free MacGF Vegan Mac N’ Cheese

1 16-oz bag gluten free pasta (we used Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta)

2 Tbs. olive oil (or Earth Balance or coconut oil)

3 to 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 cups shredded vegan cheddar-style cheese (we used Follow Your Heart)

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (we used almond milk)

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 cup corn flakes (we used One Degree Veganic)

 

Preheat oven to 425.

Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and place back in cooking pot. Stir in one tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Place corn flakes in a zip top bag and crush into crumbs using your hand or a rolling pin. (This is really fun and a great way to blow off stress!)

While the pasta cooks, saute minced garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until just fragrant. Add to the bowl of a blender or food processor with white beans, vegan cheddar shreds, nutritional yeast, non-dairy ilk, Dijon mustard and turmeric. Puree to a thick liquid.

Pour cheesy-garlicky sauce onto cooked noodles and fold to coat all pasta. Turn cheesy pasta into an oven-safe casserole dish and sprinkle with crushed cornflakes and smoked paprika. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes until vegan cheesy sauce is melted and gooey. Serve hot.

 

Bite of Gluten Free Mac

 

 

Cabbage Pad Thai

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Time to trade in your take-out! Everyone wants to lighten up after the holidays. Our Cabbage Pad Thai will get the job done. It’s gluten-free and very filling because of a high fiber content from all the veggies.  We took out the noodles and dramatically lowered the fat and sugar content from traditional Pad Thai. Go ahead – have a second plate! All the veg is so good for you!

Cabbage Pad Thai
Cabbage Pad Thai

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

Sauce

2 Tbs. coconut sugar

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

2 Tbs. peanut butter

1 Tbs. tamari sauce

2 tsp. powdered ginger

2 limes, juices, 1 zested

1 tsp. green curry paste

pinch red pepper flakes

2 cloves minced garlic

Stir Fry

2 bags pre-shredded cabbage

2  whole carrots, peeled and shredded

2 bell peppers, seeded and slivered

4 green onions, white and green, chopped, plus more to garnish

1/2 cup chopped peanuts (garnish)

1/ 4 cup fresh cilantro (garnish)

 

First make the sauce by stirring all the sauce ingredients together in a shallow dish. Add cubed, drained tofu to dish with the sauce. Toss and allow to marinate for 30 minutes or up to several hours.

To prepare stir-fry, toss tofu and all extra sauce into a wok or large pan. Saute over medium-high heat for several minutes until tofu cubes are lightly browned. Then add cabbage, shredded carrots, slivered bell peppers and green onions.  Saute, stirring often, about 8 to 10 minutes, until veggies are soft.

Serve with chopped peanuts and cilantro and extra green onions, as desired. Serves six as a main course.

Cook’s Note: If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can sub in sunflower butter or soynut butter in the sauce, as well as sunflowers, pepitas or soynuts for the chopped peanuts.  Want extra chewy tofu? Freeze and thaw tofu ahead of time, it will retain it’s shape and have a firmer bite.

 

Mom’s Gazpacho

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August means the garden is in full bloom. And there are loads and loads of tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. No garden? Try the Farmer’s Market. Once, we were at the Farmer’s Market when they were closing up and a vendor literally gave us a huge basket of tomatoes simply because she didn’t want to carry them home!

When tomatoes and cucumbers are in season, you’ll almost always find a batch of my Mom’s gazpacho in our fridge. On a hot August day, a bowl of chilled gazpacho is so refreshing! And it reminds me of my parents’ garden being flush with tomatoes too. I used to love wandering the backyard, between tall tomato cages and bushy herbs just before the start of school. This soup brings back all those memories!

The recipe makes about 6 portions and comes together really fast in a blender or food processor.  Ours is processed to be fairly smooth, but feel free to leave your veggies chunky if you like. We usually eat it with crackers or a slice of toast. Serve cold and sure, you can drink it from a mug – we do sometimes!

Mom's GazpachoMom’s Gazpacho

2 pounds fresh tomatoes

1 cucumber

2 stalks celery

1 red onion

1 cup tomato juice

4 Tbs. fresh basil

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. lemon juice plus zest of one lemon

1 Tbs. vegan worcestershire sauce (such as Annie’s Organic or Wizard- please note, both contain gluten)

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. Old Bay-style seasoning

salt/pepper, to taste as desired

 

Core and roughly chop tomatoes. Trim cucumbers and celery, roughly chop. Peel and trim onion, roughly chop. Add all veggies to a food processor or high speed blender with tomato juice, fresh basil, vinegars, lemon juice and zest, Old Bay and Worcestershire sauce. Process together until as smooth a desired.

Scott & the Not-Crabby Cakes

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Over a lifetime, there are few forever friends. I’m lucky to have Leslie as one of mine. During the 20+ years we have known each other, we’ve seen much of life’s roller coaster. College, jobs homes, pets, parents. And of course, there are the guys who were part of our lives .

For Leslie, THE guy was Scott. They knew each other in high school, but the sparks didn’t happen until later, in their thirties. When I met Scott, he and Leslie recently reconnected. The group of us went to a  former Miami hot spot called BED. (Yes, you ate in a bed – it was in South Beach, of course. It’s now closed.) Scott was from Baltimore and what struck me about him wasn’t his fast, witty sense of humor or encyclopedic knowledge of all things sports & politics, though that was impressive. It was how Leslie was with him. She was happy, she was herself – and more than ever.

Leslie and Scott

Leslie and Scott, 2009 in West Palm Beach FL

After you’ve loved a friend for decades, you want so much for her. No…you demand more for her. Not just any guy was going to be acceptable for Leslie, at least not to me. He needed to do more than impress her or adore her, the right guy needed to meet her on her intellectual level, to understand and support her hectic career, really get her quirks – and love them more than me. Honestly, this was the top of my list; there were more criteria. And Scott surpassed them all.

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Leslie and Scott at their wedding at The Colony Hotel in FL

Last July 29 the unthinkable happened. I remember with total clarity. Nathaniel walked into our room at the B&B in New York, we were on our annual Watkins Glen trip. He told me Scott died overnight. At first I thought he was wrong, or confused. Scott was only 44! Scott and Leslie had a little boy! No, this was a mistake. Simply not true. Except that Nathaniel spoke true. Scott passed in the night, quite suddenly, in their home in Lake Worth, Florida. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried, then tried to compose myself before reaching out to Leslie.

When you love someone, you become wrapped up in their happiness. You invest in seeing their dreams come true and watching them live their way into fulfillment. It’s more than “wanting the best” for them. You want to see them live long and full. You never entertain that anything less will happen.  So it was for me with Leslie. Scott became a huge part of her world in the five years they were married.  Scott wove into her dreams of everyday life – little things like trips to the grocery store, and big ones, like trips to Maryland with family. Leslie’s heart grew because of Scott’s love. And I loved her all the more for it.

Leslie and Scott fun

Leslie and Scott being silly at Havana Hideout

Today, a year has passed since Scott died. I don’t have the words to really mark this anniversary. Sometimes the acknowledgment that time has passed is what matters, and I believe that to be the case. Nothing I write can replace the time Leslie and their son won’t share with him. No phrase or words will ever pluck out the pain…

A true Baltimore guy, Scott’s fave food was crab cakes. In his honor, we made a vegan version of the recipe. If he were here, I have no doubt he’d try it. He was always game to try new things and whatever project someone was attempting, Scott cheered them on. I loved that about him. The supportive, optimistic outlook.

Leslie, you are in my heart forever. We are thinking of you…

crabbycakes_lrNot-Crabby Cakes, in memory of Scott

2 zucchini, shredded and drained

1 16-oz. can artichokes, drained and shredded

1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (we used Metropolitan Gourmet Gluten-Free)

1/4 cup flax seed meal

3 Tbs. lemon juice (about one lemon)

2 Tbs. Old Bay seasoning

1 Tbs. parsley, dried

3 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (such as Wizard’s or Annie’s Naturals)

pinch dulse flakes

salt & pepper, to taste

 

Using a food processor fitted with a grating blade, shred two zucchini. Alternatively, grate zucchini by hand using a traditional box grater. Using a standard blade, pulse drained artichoke in a food processor three or four times, until the stems are broken down, but the petals aren’t pureed. Alternatively, roughly chop artichokes by hand, until there are uneven size pieces, but nothing is too large for a patty.

Place zucchini shreds and shredded artichokes into a colander over the sink, press down and allow to drain thoroughly, about 30 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.

While veggies drain, add 1 cup breadcrumbs, flax seed meal, lemon juice, Old Bay, parsley, dijon mustard, garlic powder, vegan Worchestershire and dulse flakes to a mixing bowl. Combine, then add drained zucchini and artichokes. If mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Allow mixture to rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge. It will take a little time for the flax meal to create a strong bind.

Form into patties, 6 to 9, depending on size desired. Smaller cakes will hold together better. Pack cakes together tightly.

Lightly coat with remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Place patties on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip to other side. Bake an additional 15 minutes, until sides are crisp and patties are hot throughout. Alternatively, these Not-Crabby Cakes can be pan-fried in a little oil for about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve hot – with vegan dipping sauce (ours is vegan mayo with a little mustard and relish stirred in, like tartar sauce).

 

Scott

We miss you Scott… thank you for taking such excellent care of my Leslie!

Lemongrass Risotto

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The lemongrass in our garden is already tall and ready to cook with. Love that! Lemongrass is frequently used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, but for this dish, we added its exotic, bright flavor to an Italian meal: risotto. This fusion is a match made in heaven, combining the Asian tastes of lemongrass and coconut with Italian arborio rice, white wine with garlic.

Don’t have lemongrass in your garden? (It’s easy to grow by the way. Try it, lemongrass loves container gardens, too!)  We have found it locally at regular grocery stores with the fresh herbs in the produce section and any Asian grocer will definitely have it! Try something different for dinner – lemongrass is refreshing and also makes a wonderful tea that can be served hot or cold.

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Lemongrass Risotto

2 cans coconut milk

2 stalks of fresh lemongrass

2-3 cloves garlic

2 cups arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup dry white wine

2 shallots, finely minced

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish (optional)

 

Start by making lemongrass infusion. Combine 2 cans coconut milk with chopped lemongrass and mashed garlic in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and turn off. Allow to sit at least one hour, or store in fridge overnight to maximize flavors.

To make risotto, two large cook pots are needed.

Start by draining lemongrass infusion liquid into a saucepan and add vegetable broth and dry white wine. Discard lemongrass and garlic solids. Warm gently over medium heat.

In a second saucepan, toast arborio rice over medium-low heat until nutty-smelling and lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add 2 cups of the coconut milk-vegetable broth-wine combination and stir into rice. Add chopped shallots. Stir frequently and continue to add more liquid by the 1/2-cup as it is absorbed. When all the liquid is in the rice, and the texture is thick and stick,  it’s done!

Serve warm and garnish as desired with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.

 

Easter “Egg” Pastry

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All Easter brunches need a great meal centerpiece. Growing up, my family usually placed either a ham or lamb in the spotlight. But that was another lifetime. Nowadays, our Easter celebrations are a bit kinder.

This year, we decided to that it was time for a new, elegant spin on the Easter brunch. We hit Roots Market and picked up some stuff from Follow Your Heart – vegan cream cheese, vegan cheese slices and VeganEgg. And here’s what we baked up – an “egg” stuffed bread with vegan cheese and veggies. This beauty tastes as amazing as it looks and – surprise – it’s not that hard to make! Not doing an Easter brunch? This is great for breakfast or brunch anytime of year!

eggbread3_lrEaster “Egg” Pastry

2 oz. vegan cream cheese, room temperature (we used Follow Your Heart)

1 Tbs. Italian seasoning blend

1 box of Follow Your Heart VeganEgg

1 tsp. black salt (aka kala namak)

1/4 cup finely minced onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh spinach

1/3 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper (from a jar)

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. dried oregano

2 tubes “Crescent” style bread

4 slices vegan cheese (we used Follow Your Heart American)

 

Begin by preheating you oven to 350.

Mix together the vegan cream cheese and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. Set aside for flavors to combine.

Prepare entire box of VeganEgg according to box directions using ice cold water and a hand mixer. Add black salt. Cook following directions to make scramble. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan, saute onions and garlic until soft. When lightly browned, add to scramble. Add chopped spinach, chopped roasted red pepper, black pepper and oregano to scramble and fold to combine.

To assemble the Pastry, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Open both tubes of Crescent-style rolls on the cookie sheet and lay the dough together, to make one large piece of pastry. Using your fingers seal all edges together.

Smear the seasoned cream cheese down the middle third of the pastry sheet. Top with the slices of cheese, and then add all the VeganEgg/veggie mixture. Be careful to stack the VeganEgg upwards, keeping it all in the middle third of the pastry.

Using a knife, cut twelve slits on the two sides of the pasty sheet, making what looks like fringe on either side of the VeganEgg-third. Criss-cross the pastry strips back and forth to cover and seal the VeganEgg middle. Fold the ends upwards and tuck them under the pastry “weaving.”

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350, until pastry is golden brown and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to set-up before slicing. Serve warm; makes twelve portions.

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Below, this is the VeganEgg product from Follow Your Heart. This little box of powder makes incredible, well, vegan eggs. You can use it for omelettes, scrambles, quiches and more. We wanted to state for the record – FYH did not give us product or money for this post. We just really liked the VeganEgg and wanted to make something yummy with it to share with you, and our family, for Easter.

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