Creamy Vegan Mushroom Sauce with Gnocchi

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It was a lazy Saturday afternoon–well, at least it would have been if I could sit still for more than two minutes without wanting to cook, create, or do .  I had most of the ingredients for this mushroom sauce and made a spur of the moment decision to finally photograph and blog this recipe, since it’s become one of the Mister and I’s favorites in our dinner rotation for the past few months.  I just needed a couple things.  No need to consult the recipe.  Besides, it’s all in my head…Mind like a steel trap!  I left, went to the store, came back.  Oops, forgot the mushroom broth.  Ummm, that’s okay, I’ll use the tiny amount of mushroom broth I have and fill in with veggie broth, which I always have on hand.  Okay, we’re good!

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Cooking, cooking, photographing, destroying the kitchen…  I pulled up my recipe, and read through my notes.  Oh yeah, I normally add cashew cream.  Dang it! Cashews haven’t been soaked, because I don’t actually have any in the pantry.  Oh no!  It’s almost sunset!  I have maybe another 45 minutes before this baby needs to be made, plated and photographed in the already waning light.  You don’t have time to go to the store again, self!  Wait self, you mean to say that you didn’t even read your own recipe before going to the store?!  Hey, hey now self, I thought I had it all under control.  Well next time, maybe you’ll –I know I know, I just thought it was all up here, in the brain!  Steel trap, my–Okay, okay!  Maybe next time!  A sage word of advice:  always read the recipe first.  I think I secretly like flying by the seat of my pants.  I love finding solutions for a problem when option one isn’t possible.  Limitation inspires creativity.

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These recent years have been an exercise in limitation.  The last almost 8 years have been an improvisational dance of give and take with cancer.  It has changed or taken many things important to me,  giving some things back after a while, taking some things forever.  If I thought I only had one option in life, that there was only one way to do things, I would be plumb out of options.  Limitation inspired me to adapt and get creative when I felt like I was losing all the things I loved to do.  At my worst point, and for about a year, I experienced constant debilitating spasms in my neck and back caused by radiation treatment to my spine. In addition, the chemo caused a chronic cough that sent zaps of pain throughout my back, so intense they eventually broke a rib. The medicines that made that spasms slightly bearable made my stomach extremely ill, taking away my enjoyment of many of the things I loved most, including food!

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During those days, you could find me laying in a yoga class listening to the teacher and imagining the poses, doing the very few I could muster.  Food and I had a precarious relationship, so I developed as many variations of broth and rice soup as I could think of, and dove into my favorite cookbooks and food blogs, trying to find things that would appetize me.  I fell in love with writing and lettering in my journal, because it was something creative I could do with very little movement.  I still live with cancer every day, but I’m grateful to say that my latest treatment regimen has been kinder on my body, and I’ve been climbing mountains in Thailand, gaining strength in my yoga practice, and am able to eat food that excites me again!

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No matter your limits, let them inspire you to dream of all the things that are possible and not get bogged down chasing all the things you’ve lost.  Know which things to pursue and work toward, which things to wait patiently in hope of a reunion, and which things to let go the best you can.  There are things I will never get back, and every day is a balancing act, but I’m here now, each new day an opportunity to turn limitation into new possibilities.

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The kitchen is a fun playground for this exercise.  I’m the most creative when I have to find a way to create with what I have on-hand instead of running to the store for all new ingredients.  Recipes are guidelines, and the recipes I post here are often snapshots in time of my latest version.  They constantly undergo little tweaks and additions based on what I have, what I’m craving, or a wacky idea I think just might work.  Don’t be afraid to make your own additions!

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The Mister loves this recipe.  My in-the-moment adaptations worked well, and the sauce kept the same character;  creamy, rich, savory and chock full of mushrooms.  We like to have it over gnocchi paired with something lighter and more nutrient-dense on the side like my brussels sprouts salad, since the gnocchi is pretty starchy and filling.  This sauce would make a great mushroom gravy over mashed or roasted potatoes, whipped cauliflower, a cauliflower steak,  salmon or piece of seared chicken for the non-vegetarians.  It also makes a great pasta sauce.  We have options, people!

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Creamy Vegan Mushroom Sauce

This sauce is extremely versatile, and can be served over gnocchi, pasta, or as a gravy.  

makes 3-4 servings as a main dish sauce

  • 3 tablespoon vegan butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3  shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces  cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 3-4 cups mushroom broth
  • ¾ cup  white wine
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose or gluten-free flour
  • ¼ to ½ cup cashew cream (see below) or full fat coconut milk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 24 oz gnocchi or pasta for serving, cooked according to package directions (Delallo makes a great gluten-free gnocchi)

 

Heat 2 TB of the butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Saute shallots until they soften, 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste.   Sauté, stirring occasionally,  for about 6 minutes until softened but still retaining some firmness.  Add the white wine and stir to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan.  Cook the wine down for a couple minutes then add mushroom broth and thyme  Bring to a high simmer to concentrate and thicken the broth for 6-8 minutes.

Melt remaining TB butter in another nonstick pan.  Whisk in flour to form a roux.  Whisk the roux into mushroom mixture.  Whisk in the cashew cream or coconut milk to taste.   Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot over the gnocchi or pasta, garnished with fresh thyme.  

Cashew Cream

Process adapted from Beard and Bonnet.  See their detailed tutorial here.

Cashew cream makes a great dairy-free substitution for heavy cream in recipes such as soups and sauces.  This recipe makes more than you will need for the mushroom sauce, but is much easier to blend in a larger quantity.  Leftovers can be drizzled on a soup, on Mexican dishes, or on a hearty quinoa bowl.  Cashew cream can also be used as a base for a creamy salad dressing.

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup filtered water, plus more for soaking
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with the filtered water by an inch.  Allow to soak overnight (or, if you forget to soak ahead of time, cover the cashews with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes).  Drain and rinse the cashews.

Blend the cashews, water, lemon juice and salt in a high powered blender or food processor until very smooth, adding more water if needed, for 1-2 minutes.  If using a regular blender, immersion blender, or food processor, you will need to blend it for longer.

Leftovers will keep in a sealed container for 3-4 days, or can be frozen up to 6 months.  If you choose to freeze the cream, run it through the blender again once defrosted to smooth out the texture again.

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts

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I’ve returned from my adventure in Thailand (more on that coming soon!), and am slowly readjusting to normal life again.  The contrast was stark; in just two very long travel days, I went from 80˚ weather, new colors, foods and experiences, to the all too familiar snow, holiday traffic and the Christmas mania!  No bah humbugs intended, but it was kind of nice trading a couple weeks of the inundation of holiday advertisements and rush to buy presents for trekking, climbing, caving, hanging out with elephants, and connecting with an amazing group of cancer survivors in Chiang Mai.  Can you really blame a girl?  

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Today’s recipe involves a vegetable that the Mister grew up hating.  It’s funny how when you’re a kid, you can’t imagine how the steamed vegetable you can’t stand could have any other incarnations other than the way it’s been prepared on your dinner plate.  I’ve always liked brussels sprouts any which way, but I’d never thought to eat them raw.

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My first dalliance with a Brussels sprouts salad was at a friend’s dinner party this summer.  Although quite simple, with lemon juice and zest, good olive oil, toasted walnuts and parmigiano on the side, it contained the perfect balance of flavors.  I love the simpler lemony version to serve as a side to a rich pasta such as the vegan mushroom stroganoff I seem to make weekly these days (will share the recipe soon!).

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I’ve jazzed up this version of the Brussels sprouts salad to make it complement traditional  holiday dishes.  This latest version is jeweled with dried cranberries, tossed with a lemony maple-dijon vinaigrette, and topped with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts leaves.

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The adventure continues, this time in the kitchen!  I hope you have a wonderfully happy holiday!

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Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

This festive salad makes a great side to any rich winter dish.  The roasted Brussels sprouts leaves are a fun garnish, but can be omitted if time is limited.

For the salad:

1 ½ pounds brussels sprouts

¾ cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup dried cranberries

For the dressing:

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from a large lemon)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from a large lemon)

½ teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 -¾ tsp salt, to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

For the roasted Brussels sprouts leaves (optional):

Reserved outer leaves from 1 ½ lb Brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Cut off the bottom stem of each Brussels sprout, and pull off the outer layer of loose leaves, reserving the crisp ones, discarding any that are wilted brown.

Toast the chopped walnuts in a frying pan over medium heat, until they begin to sweat and smell toasty.  Supervise closely and stir often, as they will burn quickly.  Set aside to cool.

Toss the outer leaves with a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove any leaves that are crispy and turning golden brown, stir, and bake for another 2-3 minutes, until all the leaves are crispy and golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel covered plate.

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise, then slice very thinly.  Toss the sliced Brussels sprouts, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries together in a large bowl.

Make the dressing:

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream to incorporate.  Adjust salt to taste.  

Toss the dressing with the salad.  Garnish each individual serving with the crispy roasted Brussels sprouts leaves, if using.

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Buckwheat Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Walnut Topping (gf, v)

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Oh my goodness, it has been way too long!  The past couple months, I’ve been working away on a fundraising project for First Descents to pay it forward to other young adult cancer survivors.  Every day after work, I’ve been a maniacal little crafty elf, hand making custom journals and sketchbooks.  Almost all of the books have been delivered, and I am so excited to say that I’ll be going on a grand adventure to Thailand in exactly three days with First Descents.  The trip will include trekking, climbing, caving, ziplining, spending a day taking care of elephants and of course partaking in delicious Thai eats in the city of Chiang Mai with a group of other cancer fighters and survivors.  Needless to say, my mind has been a bit distracted, and I’ll be so excited to share pictures when I return!  

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The past couple weeks, I have been baking, and tweaking this recipe I based on my blueberry buckwheat banana bread.  I love the texture of baked goods made with buckwheat flour.  The texture is similar to wheat, and the taste is slightly more earthy than an all purpose flour, and despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free and doesn’t actually contain wheat.  I was extra motivated because a dear friend brought me a beautiful bag of buckwheat flour ground in an Amish mill in her hometown in Illinois.  She knows me well!

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The Mister was jazzed at first.  Ooh, pumpkin bread!  He was even jazzed on the second attempt.  I like that with a little more sweetness!  I knew it still needed a couple more tweaks.  By the third attempt, he looked at me skeptically, but agreed to taste it and give feedback.  This is really good!  I think it’s fine like this.  Something inside me said, we can do just a little bit better.  The fourth time, he said, Well, I guess we won’t need to make pumpkin bread for a while.  Point taken, Mister, point taken.  Both of us were happy with the final result, and my colleagues were even more thrilled when they got to partake.

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Besides being gluten free, they’re also vegan, and sweetened with coconut sugar and maple syrup. They are crowned with cinnamon and coconut sugar dusted walnuts which emerge from the oven toasty and fragrant.  If you’re still in pumpkin-frenzy mode, these muffins will fit the bill, and why not have them hot from the oven with a cup of my favorite spiced healing tea (yeah, yeah, I know they’re supposed to cool before I eat them, but I just can’t help myself!)?  

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I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I’ll report back after my adventure!

Buckwheat Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Walnut Topping (gf, v)

Makes one loaf or 12 muffins

  • 15 ounce can  pumpkin puree
  • ¼  cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1.5  tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 ¼  cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup real  maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup  applesauce
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½  tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • ½  tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp of cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

 

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup  walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1 1/2  tsp coconut sugar,
  • Additional coconut oil and sugar for dusting loaf pan

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  Grease the loaf pan or muffin tins with coconut oil or use paper muffin cups.

Make the flax egg: Stir the ground flax with 3 1/2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.  Set aside for 5 minutes to allow it to gel.

In a large bowl, place the pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, flax egg , coconut sugar, maple syrup,  applesauce, almond milk,  vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (or the pumpkin pie spice).  Stir well to combine.  Add the buckwheat flour and stir until just incorporated.  Pour the batter into muffin tins or a standard loaf pan ( ⅓ cup measuring cup works well to fill the cups in a standard muffin pan).

Make the walnut topping: Crush the walnuts with a rolling pin or sturdy glass.   In a small bowl, mix the crushed walnuts, coconut sugar and cinnamon together.  

Distribute the walnut mixture evenly over the loaf or muffins.  

Bake 25-32 minutes for muffins, or 50-55 minutes for a loaf, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes before devouring.

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Jenita’s Calabacitas

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To my friends, family and the Mister, I’m Jenny, and sometimes Jen.  My cousins, aunts and uncles throw in a childhood nickname, Jen-Jen, every now and again.  To my cancer survivor friends from First Descents, I’m Flip Flop.  To my Grandma Maria, I will always be Jenita.   My grandma moved to the United States from Veracruz, Mexico when she was a young girl.  

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Calabacitas soup, although New Mexican in origin, has been a staple comfort food in my grandma’s, mom, and aunts’ kitchens for as long as I could remember.  This recipe has evolved in my own kitchen as I’ve made it, and I’ve finally settled on a version that satisfies my taste memory of the soup I ate growing up, and has my own touch, which is why I call this recipe Jenita’s Calabacitas!

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My family has always made calabacitas with a plethora of colorful vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, corn, carrots, green beans, onions and tomatoes cooked down with salsa to create a flavorful broth.  Mom and the aunties always add a couple pieces of monterrey jack cheese which form cheesy, melty goodness in the bottom of the bowl.  My version uses vegetable broth as a base, and is seasoned with fresh herbs and spiced up with green chili.  I like to heat up corn tortillas until they’re soft and dotted with little golden spots, roll them up and use them to scoop up the tender flavor-soaked squash and veggies.  

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When the smell of fire roasted green chilies wafts through the air at the farmers’ market, I know it’s time to make a big batch of Calabacitas, my ultimate summer and fall comfort food.  

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I hope it makes its way into your kitchen while the produce is so beautifully colorful!

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Jenita’s Calabacitas Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini and yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • kernels from 3 ears corn (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, diced (or 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 ounces roasted hatch-type green chilies, chopped (choose spice level carefully)*
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat.  Add the onion and sauté for 4-6 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour until the squash is very soft and has soaked up the flavor of the broth.  Season again to taste with salt and black pepper.

This soup makes great leftovers, as the flavor improves when refrigerated overnight and also freezes well.

 

*If using hot chilies, start with less, and taste for spiciness before adding more.

 

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Roasted Barbecue-Spiced Potato Wedges with Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip

 

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I was trying to squeeze the last bits of daylight into my photos, taking pictures on the back patio.  It was close to sunset, and the dusky blue light sat cool and muted on my (finally) ready to photograph potato wedges.  I briefly glanced up and looked toward the back of the yard, near my garden.  The choir in my mind sang a glorious major chord as I saw honey-colored beams peeking over the fence, bathing the far half of the yard in a deliciously warm glow.  Oh brother.  I knew what I had to do.  One large wooden photo background, a cutting board filled with herbs in progress, bowls, measuring spoons, and the like, all needed to make it, stat, to the other side of the yard.  The neighbors probably question my sanity.  In my twenties, I cared about this a bit, but not so much anymore.  I’m beginning to understand the reason for the sequined hats and carefree attitudes of those twice as old as me–at a certain point, one just can’t take as much time to care about appearing foolish when it is magic is happening on the other side of the yard!  I balanced all my props, food and accoutrements on my photo background and carried them topsy turvy style to the prime location. 

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Liz Gilbert, although I was already well on my way to the deep end, this is partly your fault.  You wrote a little book about creativity and inspiration called Big Magic that has only served to amplify my spontaneous and wild creative urges.  I heard your voice in my head saying,  “If inspiration is calling from the other side of the yard, get thee to the other side of the yard!”  When seduced by inspiration, I create big messes, almost unknowingly and frenetically.  When I wake up from my altered state, I see my creation, and all the creative shrapnel, and almost don’t know what happened.

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In my last post, I shared a recipe for the Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip I’m utterly addicted to.  I love to dollop this dip on everything– breakfast hashes, crackers, veggies, and even eat it by the spoonful (don’t judge me!).  I must make a confession.  I’ve been withholding the recipe that this dip was created for–these Roasted Barbecue potato wedges.  I love this dip so much on its own that I thought it deserved its very own post.  

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These spiced potato wedges come together very easily, and make a great side or party appetizer.  I love the combination garlicky, smoky wedges with the cool herby dip.  Do you have smoked paprika in your spice cabinet?  I love to add it into my spice mixture for anything I want to add a savory smokiness to–veggie crumbles for taco meat, corn on the cob, pan fried tempeh, and many other things.

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It might be inconvenient at times, but I believe it’s infinitely worth it to say yes to the magically golden light on the other side of the yard, yes to the frenetic messes that appear as a side effect of creative reverie, yes to deciding to photograph a recipe at 6 pm when daylight hours are melting away, yes, yes, yes to the cheap little thrills that make life more colorful and exciting, and by all means, yes to roasty potato wedges with dip!

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Roasted Barbecue-Spiced Potato Wedges with Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip

  • 2 pounds medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip for serving (optional), recipe here

Preheat oven to 425˚.

On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, spices, salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are golden and crispy.  Use a stiff spatula to pop the potatoes off the pan using a firm scraping motion.  Serve while hot with the dip.

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Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip (v, gf)

 

 

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Lactose intolerants and L.I sympathizers, gather round!  This is the holy grail of creaminess for all who can’t eat dairy yet still crave dip.  Sour cream, oh, how I’ve missed you these past few years!  I came across this recipe for the “best damn vegan sour cream” on Gluten-Free Vegan Pantry, and I thought to myself, we’ll see about that. I felt like I was anticipating a blind date (which is how the Mister and I met, by the way).  Don’t get your hopes up too high.  This could be really good, but it could also end up like all those other train wrecks.  I’ve been holding out hope for a sour cream substitute that a) doesn’t taste like cashews, b) doesn’t taste like plastic, c) has the texture of sour cream, and most importantly, d) Is made with real, whole ingredients, not chemicals.  Is that asking too much?  To say the least, I was very pleasantly surprised (both by the sour cream and the man)!  The Mister and I are celebrating our 9 year wedding anniversary on Thursday, and I’ve got my 9th batch of vegan sour cream in the fridge.  I’d say things are going quite well!  

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When cashews are soaked, something magical and ethereal happens.  See their halo?   Soaking the cashews softens their flavor, and most importantly, makes them blendable and transformable.  If you read my last post, you know the name of the game for me right now is to eat, eat, eat.   My strategy is to devour as many nutritious, calorie-dense whole foods as possible.  Whether you’re trying to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain, I am convinced that there is no fad diet or quick fix better than just eating real food.  Enter, delicious herby dip.  

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What is the history of dip?  Is it an american thing?  Or did we just create a blanket term for any kind of thick sauce scooped up by a vehicle such as a veggie or a cracker?  David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria  exhaustively researched the subject, and I can sum it up with the following: the 50’s, the invention of potato chips, the emerging American couch potato class, and the need to deliver food to one’s mouth while watching the glowing box…  Another proud example of American ingenuity.  Americans loved dipping so much that we changed the word from a verb to a noun.  The emergence of the first recipe for crudité also emerged in France around the same time.  Crudité sounds so much more sophisticated than dip, but it’s a means to the same end: Use something delicious and crispy to deliver something saucy and flavorful into your mouth. Repeat if needed. 

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Luckily, dip doesn’t have to be that packet of processed powder that we have probably all stirred into sour cream and devoured at some point or another.  Although admittedly addictive and tasty, the first three ingredients are maltodextrin, salt and monosodium glutamate.  That doesn’t sound like food to me! I like to whip up a batch of this real food dip to snack on throughout the week (or, let’s be honest–over the course of a few days).  It’s cool and herby with hints of garlic and onion, creamy, and smooth.  The hardest part is remembering to get those cashews soaking.  The rest comes together quite quickly!  I’m looking forward to the tenth year sharing life’s crazy adventures with the Mister, and I’m sure my 10th batch of vegan sour cream will be close to follow!  Enjoy your maiden vegan sour cream voyage!  

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Lemon-Herb Cashew Sour Cream Dip

This cashew sour cream has become a staple in my house.  One of my cookbooks has a rule:  Always be soaking.  I agree, it’s best to be ready to whip up this dip when the craving strikes!  I use my high-powered (Vitamix) blender to achieve an extra- smooth texture.  Any blender will do, but just make sure to scrape down the edges as you go, and add a little extra water if needed.   This dip can be made a day or two ahead of time, and the flavor improves when chilled overnight.  If you would like to make plain sour cream, which has an infinite number of uses, just omit the dip ingredients!  

For the sour cream:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked 8 hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TB fresh lemon juice (finely grate and reserve 1/2 tsp zest)
  • 1/4 cup water (plus additional if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the dip:

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced dill leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Additional minced herbs to garnish

Make the cashew sour cream:

Drain the soaked cashews, and put them in a blender with the lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast and salt.  If it is too thick and won’t blend, add additional water, a tablespoon at a time.  Blend for about 3-5 minutes until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the edges if needed.  Chill for 2 hours or more (or, in a pinch, put in the freezer for 20 minutes until cold and slightly thickened.

In a medium bowl, mix the cashew sour cream with all of the dip ingredients.  Season with salt to taste and garnish with the herbs.

 

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Filed under Appetizers, Condiments, Sauces, Snacks, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

E.A.T Sandwiches with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

 

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)-6

E.A.T–Egg, avocado, tomato…  Three things I haven’t been able to enjoy for a while now.  I’m at the tail end of a month-long break from a chemo drug that made me lose a crazy amount of weight, and decreased my appetite and tolerance for many of the foods I love–you can imagine how hard this has been based on my clear obsession with food.  Right now, food tastes absolutely magical.  Every time I eat, I feel like I’m in some sort of kaleidoscopic hippie dream.  Whoa man, these flavors are for real!  A month ago, I got down to my lowest weight ever (not a good thing), and I keep a chipper face, because whatever the “normal” of the hour happens to be, I’m going to make it the best damn normal I can.  I’m nervous to be off the medication that has helped me so much, but all I can really worry about is right now; and right now my job is to eat, be, and enjoy the technicolor tastes of all my long lost food friends.

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

I eat like Van Gogh painted; crazed and unapologetic, making up for lost time.  I’m eating for my life and my health, to add some extra strength and pounds.  My soft-coated wheaten terrier has felt the inconvenience of my increased food intolerances.  She looked on eagerly as I prepared her favorite food, which she hadn’t eaten in a very long time.  Luca, today is a special day, I told her as I fried up the egg with some cracked pepper and fresh thyme.  I found some positively juicy heirloom tomatoes, and layered it all up on toast slathered with sundried tomato aioli, with buttery sliced avocado, fresh arugula, salt, pepper, the egg of course, and a drizzle of tuscan olive oil given to me for my birthday.  

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (3 of 19)

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)-4

I crunched through the bread, and when the combination of tomato juices, peppery olive oil, and egg yolk hit my mouth,  it got audible.  Hunched over my counter top, I mumbled expletives between bites, messily devouring in my exploded kitchen (maniacs don’t have time to clean as they go). Luca looked up at the spectacle, waiting expectantly for me to sprinkle a few bits of egg on top of the uneaten food in her dog bowl.  We both ate voraciously, and gratefully.  I don’t know what will happen when I go on my new medication.  I don’t have to care about that right now.  Right now, food is my hot crush and psychedelic escapade, and I’m going on an unapologetic magic carpet ride.

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)
You can swap ingredients to fit your dietary needs of the moment–use gluten-free bread, or just serve it right on top of the greens like a salad.  You want some cheese?  Slap on some white cheddar, vegan cheese, or whatever will give you your technicolor egg sandwich experience.  You may customize to your heart’s desire, but promise me this: You will eat this E.A.T sandwich voraciously and unapologetically, as if rediscovering something you’ve gone years without.  Knowing that will make my day!  

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (17 of 19)

E.A.T Sandwiches at Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

E.A.T Sandwiches with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

This recipe can be customized as you wish, and easily scaled up.  The aioli is easier to blend when made in a larger quantity, and will keep for about a week in the fridge.  It can be used for sandwiches and wraps, or my favorite, on this rosemary tortilla española.  If you’d like to make less,  chop and smash the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and salt into a paste and mix it by hand into the mayonnaise.  It will not be as smooth or deeply colored, but will still taste delicious!

For the aioli:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo
  • 3 TB finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or sherry vinegar if you have on hand

For the sandwiches:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • leaves from a few sprigs thyme, roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • sliced tomato
  • sliced avocado
  • baby arugula/baby spinach mix, or your choice of greens
  • 2 slices sprouted grain bread, or your favorite sandwich bread
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  1. Make the aioli: Blend all aioli ingredients in an immersion blender, blender, or small food processor until smooth.  Adjust salt and pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
  2. Cook the egg: Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle a bit of salt, and pepper onto the pan, then crack the egg on top.  Sprinkle the top with the thyme, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Cook for about 4 minutes for over-easy, or 5-6 minutes for over-medium.
  3. While the egg is cooking, toast the bread.  Spread the aioli on the toast, then layer the avocado, tomato on one side, and the  arugula-spinach mix on the other.  Drizzle the olive oil over the greens, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the fried egg on the bread, and serve while hot.

 

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Filed under Breakfast and Brunch, Main Dishes, Sandwiches and Burgers, Sauces, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan