Chive Blossom Vinegar and Inviting the Hamster off the Wheel

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

I’m fixated with the expressive community of purple puffs that reside outside my back door. My chives are the first to wake up from winter, and right now, their blossoms are at their peak.  I’m off work for the summer (one of the big perks of being a teacher), and need a little structure for my days.  If I boil it down, my needs are as follows: nature, time to think and create, time to be productive, a little social interaction, and time to just be.  Unchecked, I always have so many ideas about how to spend my energy, I become a neurotic hyper hamster trying to conquer the world by running in a circle.  I make to do lists and to don’t lists, and on the days that are the seemingly most free of duties, I fret over getting enough meaningful things done.  I have decided to structure my time in a purposely unstructured way.   

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

I’ve always fallen into the trap that nature, thinking, creating, feeling productive, being social, and even just being, have to be a big deal.  I have to pack up A, B, C and D, and drive to X location to be in awesomeness.  Only when I’m there, if I get there at all, after a lively internal debate about where to go, I think, am I sitting in the right spot?  Am I missing out on something else I could should would be doing?  Opera performances at the Met are a big deal.  Foreign policy negotiations are a big deal.  Brain surgery is a big, big deal.  This is not a big deal, but it’s hugely  important.  

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

Lately, I’ve been inviting the hamster off the wheel (you know, the one who spins and spins and says, “Do this, do that, think-think-think your way into trouble, out of trouble, if only you could just thiiiiiiink a little harder!”).  I’ve tried forcibly removing the little guy at times, but he is often like a 3 year old.  The more I try to force him off, the more he wants to run.  Coaxing is the key.  Hamster, you know I love you, right?  You are so motivated and you consider things from so many different angles!  Why don’t you take a break while I go out into my garden?  Let’s keep it simple.  I might pull a few weeds, or I might just sit and admire how nature takes its own path even if we try to tame it.  I might stay out for 2 minutes, or 2 minutes might turn into two hours.  Here’s a cool glass of whatever hamsters like to drink, wiith an umbrella on top.  Even hamsters need to breathe.

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

These beautiful little blossoms are part of my purposely unstructured-structured morning routine.  There they are, three steps from my back door, a representation of nature.  Spears of green, shades of purple, lavender, and pink.  Dried remnants of the wrappers they grew too big to fit into.  The damp coolness that hovers over the grass, and the sideways hazy morning light, beaming warmth onto my groggy face.  Noticing nature in its many forms has become step one of my morning routine.

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

Purple is the color I associate most with spring–crocuses, lilacs, and chive blossoms.  Purple reminds me to wake up, step outside, and be mindful.  The heat will ramp up soon, and bleach the color away from our crazy headed plant companions. Luckily, we’ll have beautifully fuscia-tinged jars of liquid spring to perk up our favorite dishes and to remind us to take a moment to invite the hamster off the wheel to breathe, see and notice.

ChiveBlossomVinegar|Spoonwithme.com

Chive Blossom Infused Vinegar  

  • Chive blossoms, enough to fill your chosen jar
  • Vinegar (white wine or champagne), enough to fill  your jar(s)

 

Wash and dry the chive blossoms.  Stuff the chive blossoms, 2/3 full into clean and dry jars.  Heat the vinegar to an almost simmer, and then pour it over the chive blossoms.  Push the blossoms down gently to submerge them (they will still want to pop up, and that’s okay).  Put a lid on the jar and place in a dark cupboard to steep for about a week.  The liquid will be a bright fuchsia color, and taste lightly oniony.  Pour into another clean jar through a fine mesh strainer.

4 Comments

Filed under Canning and Preserving, Condiments, Edible Gifts

Spring Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic-Cauliflower Whip

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (18 of 25)

This is comfort food with a surprise nutritional kick!  Bam!  Just when you say, “oh I’d better not eat very much of that”, I say “gotcha!”.  There is NOTHING “bad for you” in there.  B-b-but….where’s the heavy cream?  No buttah?!  And that is where I smugly tell you that you can, rather must, eat more and be comforted, without the cloud of self-inflicted guilt over too much of this or that.  These are vegetables people!  Eat, drink and be merry!  My house, my rules.

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (5 of 25)

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (3 of 25)

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (2 of 25)

These little pies would be perfect for a holiday meal,  Sunday dinner with the family, or any other time you want to see a vegetarian turn helplessly giddy.   This recipe is sans the lamb, of course.  If you have the kind of person at your table that doesn’t consider it a meal without meat, you could go one of two routes: First, entrance them with the balanced flavors of the white wine and tarragon vegetable stew and see if they even give a second thought to the “missing” ingredients—I play this game all the time.  If I’m intently staring at you while you take your first bite, it’s usually because I’ve tricked you in one way or another into eating something healthier and better than you ever expected.

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (6 of 25)

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (7 of 25)

If you’re really sure your dinner companion isn’t going to be happy without some meat on his or her plate, you could add a little to the mix. Traditional shepherd’s pie is topped with fluffy mashed potatoes.  My version is crowned with a golden whip of roasted cauliflower and garlic.   Have you ever whipped cauliflower?  To me, it tastes like a more flavorful version of garlic mashed potatoes.  I have nothing against potatoes.  I know some would argue with me on this, but I don’t stress excessively over the naturally occurring starches, sugars, etc in fruits and vegetables.  Obviously, I’m not advocating to eat a truckload of potatoes and nothing else.  The key for me is to vary the types of foods I eat throughout the day and week to make sure that I have a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, and a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (9 of 25)

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (8 of 25)

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (12 of 25)

I’ve been thinking about this because a couple weeks ago, I went to Cancer Con, a young adult cancer conference put on by Stupid Cancer.  I spoke on a panel to 700 people (yikes!) about how I support my mind and body through cancer with nutrition, meditation, yoga and other physical activity.  I also attended a talk with an integrative oncology nutrition specialist.  The speaker, Mark Cohen (a clinical oncology specialist) advocated for eating a diet of a diverse variety of foods that are warm, whole, and cooked.

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (13 of 25)

I know some are convinced of the benefit of a raw diet, but I know that my body digests foods better and therefore absorbs nutrients more readily when I cook them.  If you eat real food, you don’t need rules, Michael Pollan explains in his book Food Rules.  This philosophy feels right in my gut (pun intended).  It’s not a new idea, but with so many fad diets, with lists of dos but mostly do-nots, it’s easy to get confused.

Spring is officially here, and when the weather inevitably swings toward the cold and damp, I hereby invite you to “indulge” in this veggie loving shepherd’s pie.

VeggieShepherd'sPie|Spoonwithme.com (25 of 25)

Spring Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic-Cauliflower Whip

Stew adapted from Feasting at Home

Makes 4 to 6 Servings (Four two-cup pies or one 8×8 casserole dish)

For the cauliflower whip:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, broken into 1 1/2 inch florets
  • 3 large cloves garlic, in their skins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2  cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons regular or vegan butter

For the stew:

  • 1 lb diced waxy potatoes (yukon gold, red or fingerling)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion or pearl onions
  • 4 cups any combination of the following: diced carrots, celery, fennel and crimini mushrooms (*see footnote for more details)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free (or regular) flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (or use additional flour)
  • 4 cups flavorful vegetable or chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled green peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Special Equipment Needed:

Immersion blender, blender, or food processor

2-cup pie dishes or 8×8 casserole

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Cover the potatoes by 1 inch water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add a tablespoon salt to the water.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are on the firmer side of being tender.

Make the Cauliflower Whip:

Toss the cauliflower and garlic in the olive oil, salt and pepper on a large sheet pan.  Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and deep golden in places.  Pop the garlic out of their skins into a large bowl with the roasted cauliflower (or into a food processor or blender if not using an immersion blender).  While hot, add the vegan butter and stir until melted.  Add the stock and blend using an immersion blender until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Make the stew:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until translucent.  Reduce heat to medium and add the carrot, celery, fennel, mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, cooking for about 3 minutes until most of it evaporates.  Add the potatoes, nutritional yeast, and arrowroot starch and flour.  Stir to coat.  Add the stock and mustard, and stir until it comes to a boil and thickens.  Add the peas, tarragon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Fill the pie dishes or casserole dish with the stew.  Spread the cauliflower whip in a layer on top.

Reduce the oven to 400˚F.  Bake the pies for 20 minutes.  Turn oven on low broil, and cook an additional 5-6 minutes until the top is spotted a deep golden color (watch closely while broiling to avoid burning).  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Freezing directions:

Spoon the stew into an oven safe, freezer safe dish and top with potatoes.  Cover with saran wrap and put inside a large freezer bag.  When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator for 2 days.  Bake in a 400˚oven for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbling.  Broil the top over low for 5 minutes to achieve a speckled golden top.

 

*Note: I used 3 large carrots, 2 large ribs celery, 1 medium fennel bulb and about 3 oz crimini mushrooms.

3 Comments

Filed under Main Dishes, vegetarian, Vegetarian and Vegan

Lemon Berry Custard Pies (GF +Vegan, No Added Sugar)

 

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (13 of 15)

I’m quickly becoming a dessert activist.  The little people in my head are marching around with picket signs and chanting Vegans are sweet too!  Dairy-free treats are fun to eat!  Mo dairy, mo problems!  Gluten-free sweets are great for me!  Desserts ain’t just for the iron-clad belly!Sensitive belly?  Oh welly!  Sweets and peace for everyone!  Make vegan bellies happy!  This month, I celebrate 7 years as a cancer warrior.  Cancer has taught me to be creative and adaptable, to live well in the face of challenges.

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (2 of 15)

I created this recipe for a fellow cancer survivor who eats a diet completely free of added sugars.  At first, my brain drew a blank.  I love stevia as a sugar free sweetener, but normally use it in combination with another sugar source such as honey, agave or coconut sugar to round out its slight bitterness.  What’s sweet but not processed?  I tossed in a few soaked dates, which added the deep sugary roundness I was looking for.  Even the Mister, a self-proclaimed stevia hater, approved.

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (3 of 15)

Within the strict parameters of the sensitive belly’s diet, the sugar cravers get creative!  Just because you can’t indulge in the typical milk, sugar and gluten-laden treats doesn’t mean you have to sit in a corner eating a piece of fruit, or worse, nothing, while everyone else indulges in a creatively and deliciously concocted dessert.  Nobody puts Baby in the corner!

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (4 of 15)

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (5 of 15)

These little desserts come with a salty sweet crust made with toasted coconut, nuts, dates, and sea salt.  This is a versatile crust that can be used with any dessert or pie that doesn’t have to be baked after filling.  The creamy custard-like filling will make you question everything you thought you knew about vegan desserts.   When layered together, it’s salty-sweet, nutty, and creamy, with a lemony zing to wake up the tastebuds from a their long winter’s nap.  On top, a colorful burst of flavor from berries.

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (6 of 15)

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (1 of 15)

These little guys would be equally suited to a small informal event such as a dinner party or baby shower, and a fancier event like a wedding.  I always get the most gratification when people who think that the dessert couldn’t possibly fit their dietary needs’  eyes light up when they they discover they can partake along with everyone else.  Eating dessert is such a sensory experience, a way to share something enjoyable with those around us.  When I have the occasion to eat dessert, it’s because I’m with friends.  We’re having fun!  We’re spoiling ourselves, and even the belly-challenged among us need spoiling every now and then.

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (7 of 15)

Phew!  Now that we’ve found dessert peace and harmony, we can commence rock-starring our way through life’s other challenges!

Vegan Lemon Custard Berry Pies @Spoonwithme.com (1 of 1)

Lemon Berry Custard Pies   (vegan + Gluten-Free, no added sugar)

Makes 6 quarter-pint mason jar pies

For the “custard”:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for an hour, or in cold water overnight
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserve the zest to garnish)
  • 1 cup chilled coconut cream (see note)*
  • 3/4 tsp powdered stevia
  • 3-5 pitted dates, soaked in hot water for an hour
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

For the crust: 

  • 1/2 c cup roughly chopped pitted Dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cups cups mixed raw nuts, toasted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toast in dry pan for about 2 min, or until slightly golden and fragrant
  • 1-2 pinches of sea salt, to taste

Garnish:

  • 2 cups berries, sliced or chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • zest from 1-2 lemons

Equipment Needed:

  • Quarter pint jars, ramekins or muffin liners for serving
  • Blender
  • Food processor

Blend the filling:

Blend the cashews, lemon juice and chilled coconut cream very thoroughly in a blender, pushing down the sides with a spatula as you go.  If needed, add a very small amount of the coconut liquid to loosen it up if it won’t blend.  Blend in the stevia.  Add the dates, one at a time, tasting after each addition (I used three).  Blend in the vanilla.

Make the crust:

Blend nuts with coconut in a food processor.  Add the non-soaked dates gradually and pulse until they are incorporated.  Blend in the salt to taste.

Press 2 tablespoons of crust mixture into the bottom of each mason jar or muffin liner in a muffin tin.  Spoon some of the cashew custard mixture over top.  Chill in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, or quick chill in freezer for 20-30 minutes (the texture will end up firmer than a pudding but not as firm as cheesecake).

Top with the chopped berries and garnish with lemon zest.

*When using coconut cream to make into pie fillings, whipped cream, etc, it is important to use the white cream and avoid the clear liquid.  If you can’t find coconut cream, you can use 2-3 cans full-fat coconut milk.  The cream should be at the top after chilling.  Just scoop it out and discard or reserve the clear liquid for another use.  I like Trader Joe’s and Thai Kitchen brands.  I have also found good quality coconut cream at Asian grocery stores. 

4 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Vegetarian and Vegan

Mexican Veggie “Super Bowls” with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com-13

What was I doing on Sunday, you ask?  Well, I was making a super bowl, of course!  Superbowl Sunday is always a great day for three things.  Yummy food, socializing, and knitting on the couch for extended periods of time.  Oh, and I suppose I left out the football!  Don’t get me wrong, I wore my orange and blue for the occasion.  I am a Denver-ite after all.  I daresay I actually watched and enjoyed the game between knits and purls (GASP, a personal first)!    There’s hope yet!  On Sunday morning, while the Mister was excitedly watching the pre-game, my mind was on the food.  I made some gluten-free samosas with chickpea flour wrappers to take to the game, and these “super bowls” for lunch.

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com-7

The previous day, my friend Karissa and I created these bowls together, and then proceeded to chow down.  I just had to make it again on Super Bowl Sunday so I could record the recipe and share it!  I’m always looking for healthy, colorful lunch ideas.  For me, a mostly raw diet is not a good fit.  In ayurveda, my body constitution is “vata”.  I’m always cold and need warming foods to keep my system in balance. If you’re unfamiliar with ayurveda, here’s a good explanation.

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com-8

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com-15

This lunch (or dinner) bowl is easy, healthy, lime-y, spiced and colorful.  It’s a great warm lunch for these winter days, and you can add or subtract ingredients as you like, change up the sauce, and add raw greens or other veggies.  If you like to eat your veggies raw, scatter the rice and veggies over a bed of greens to create a salad.    You can also roll everything into a tortilla or wrap.

Every good get-together needs good food.  If you bring the football enthusiasm, I’ll bring the eats!  I hope you enjoyed your Super Bowl.  I sure enjoyed mine!

Veggie Super Bowls at Spoonwithme.com-12

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-20

I’m a savory breakfast kind of gal.  Most mornings, I sit across the mister, him with his English breakfast tea, piece of fruit, bit of granola and peanut butter toast.   Me, hunched over a big steaming bowl of brothy rice soup made with chicken stock, homemade herb salt, green onions, spinach, fresh ginger, and liquid aminos.  The mister just can’t muster the tastebuds to try my brothy creations early in the morning.  To me, breakfast pastries fall into the dessert category, and I just don’t have the taste for them in the morning.  I suppose I’m the odd one in this equation.

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-2

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-13

This latest breakfast creation falls very loosely into the breakfast category, which is just how I like it.  While volunteering as a sous chef on a First Descents camp, one of my favorite breakfasts was chef Curly Kale’s tofu scramble.  I adopted the technique of crumbling and pan frying the tofu to imitate the texture of scrambled eggs.  I’ve toyed with different variations on this theme, changing it up depending on what ingredients I have on hand.  The basic idea is to pan fry your tofu until crispy and golden, and set it aside while you saute the rest of your veggies.  Add spices and seasonings to complement the veggies, and voila!

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-15

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-9

 

This version is filled with crispy roasted diced potatoes, golden scrambled tofu, kale, and a smattering of colorful veggies, scented with cumin, coriander and garam masala.  If I have the ingredients on hand, I like to whip up a simple raita-like yogurt sauce to drizzle on top.

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash at Spoonwithme.com-24

Whether you have a morning sweet tooth like the Mister, or you are firmly in camp savory, I do hope you enjoy this breakfast, brunch, or any time of the day dish!

Vegan Indian Breakfast Hash

Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb potatoes, 1/2 inch dice, red, yukon, or other 14 min
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 block organic extra firm tofu, drained, moisture pressed out, crumbled
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped, 1  red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small tomato or 5 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small bunch lacinato “dino” kale, leaves chopped, large stems discarded
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric, more to taste if desired
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • juice from 1 lemon, to taste

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Toss potatoes with 2 TB of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes, or until the bottoms of the potatoes are golden brown.  Don’t flip them until they are golden and crispy on bottom.  Use a stiff wooden spatula to firmly scrape them off the bottom of the pan.  They should pop off the pan.  Toss them around a bit, then return them to the oven to cook another 5 minutes.  Scrape and toss again.  Bake for 5 more minutes, or until they look golden and crispy (not all sides of the potatoes need to be evenly golden).

Heat 3 TB oil for the tofu over medium-high heat.  Cook half of the tofu, waiting to turn it  until the bottom is golden brown.  Try to acheive a relatively even golden color, but it’s okay if there are some white spots.

Wipe out the oil and crumbly tofu bits in the pan.

Heat an additional 1 1/2 TB olive oil.  Saute onion and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Grate the garlic over top and saute another 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes, kale and spices.  Sprinkle a few pinches of salt over top.  Saute for a couple minutes until kale is softened and tomatoes are beginning to break down.  Add the browned tofu, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala and vegetable broth.  Cook uncovered for a few minutes until the broth reduces and absorbs into the tofu.  Add the roasted potatoes and toss to combine.  Squeeze w/ lemon juice.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Tangy Spiced Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Yogurt
  • 1/2 TB lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a couple pinches garam masala or chaat masala

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Spinach Artichoke “Ricotta” Bites with Marinara Dipping Sauce

 

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-22

My mom is the entertaining queen.  When the mister and I arrived on Christmas Eve, we were greeted by a winter wonderland.  A perfectly decorated Christmas tree, a beautifully set table, and appetizers set out in holiday dishes.  They seemed to smile cheekily, like “Look at us!  Don’t we look cute in our festive little bowls”.  Angelic music played.  All kitchen surfaces gleamed in their cleanliness.  Magic sugarplum fairy dust glistened in the air.  That is, until I walked in.

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-3

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-7

My excitement for what I’m creating must override my ability to cook in an organized fashion.  There’s a madness to my method, and my mise en place starts under control, then takes on a life of its own.  I become so absorbed in the cooking process that I often look at the kitchen in awe once the food is done.  Who made this mess?!?

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-16

If you’re looking for tips on how to create a flawless dinner party, my mom’s your gal.  If you want dinner to be on the table promptly at 6:00, you got it—at my mom’s house.  If you want to know how to cook up some delicious hot spinach artichoke bites to bring to mom’s next dinner party, do keep reading!  Mom always knows, I may create more chaos than has ever been seen in her kitchen, but the food will be worth it!

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-4

Spinach-Artichoke %22Ricotta%22 Bites at Spoonwithme.com-6

These little hot spinach-artichoke bites are one of my favorite appetizers to whip together for a party. They cook up golden on the outside, creamy on the inside.  Think creamy spinach-artichoke dip in a portable, dippable little bundle.  The edges remind me of the coveted toasty cheese along the edges of a lasagna pan.

If you’ve never made tofu ricotta before, you must give it a try!  It makes such a close substitute, not even the cheesiest cheese-loving guests will have the slightest clue that they aren’t eating rich, ricotta-filled goodness.  If you know there will be vegans or dairy-intolerant people at the party, you’ll be an instant celebrity.

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread at Spoonwithme.com-16

You can make the mixture a day ahead, so that you can clean up your kitchen shrapnel before your guests come to the door.  In fact, I have a batch safely tucked away in the fridge, waiting to be popped in the oven before the New Year’s Eve festivities begin.  And speaking of, I wish you a incredibly happy and healthy New Year’s, full of the best and messiest culinary shenanigans!

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread at Spoonwithme.com-17

 

Spinach-Artichoke “Ricotta” Bites with Marinara Dipping Sauce

Makes 16 mini-muffins

For the Tofu Ricotta:

  • 1 (14-ounce) block extra firm tofu, drained, pressed w/ paper towels
  • 1 tablespoon hummus (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mellow white miso (soy allergy use chickpea miso)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herb mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 TB arrowroot starch

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced, about 1/4 cup
  • 5 oz spinach (1 clamshell), chopped
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup canned Artichokes in water (whole, quartered or hearts), drained and chopped
  • olive oil or vegan butter for greasing
  • Marinara dipping sauce, homemade or store bought (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Generously grease the cups of a nonstick mini muffin tin with the butter or oil.  If making marinara, start it now so that it can simmer while you prepare the ricotta bites.

Break the tofu into smaller chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor with all ricotta ingredients.  Blend until smooth (the texture of ricotta). Set aside.

Saute the shallot in 1 TB olive oil for about 3 minutes, until soft.   Add spinach and season to taste with a  couple pinches salt and black pepper. Saute 3 minutes until it softens and shrinks.  Stir in the chopped artichokes and Set aside to cool.

Mix the spinach mixture with the tofu ricotta, and season to taste w/ salt and pepper.

Drop the ricotta mixture into the muffin tins by the tablespoonful.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are dark golden, and tops are darkened in places.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  The ricotta bites should lift easily from the pan.  If they feel stuck, use a butter knife to coax the edges and bottom out of the tins.  Serve hot with Marinara sauce.

Marinara Dipping Sauce

This is a simple, herbed marinara sauce.  This recipe will make more than you’ll need for dipping.  The leftovers make a great pasta sauce, and can be frozen for later use.  

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried italian herbs
  • salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste (optional)

Saute garlic 1 min, add tomatoes, herbs, crushed red pepper (if using), and salt to taste.  Bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Lower to a high simmer, cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and lowering heat if it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread (gf, v)

 

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread at Spoonwithme.com-15

Have you ever thought about what banana bread and blueberry muffin’s love child would taste like?  Yeah, me too.  This new love connection has caused quite the stir.  Mac and cheese are in the corner burning with envy.  Peanut butter and jelly viciously gossip over coffee.  Eggs and bacon get misty eyed as they reminisce about the beginnings of their long-lasting union.  In the meantime, banana bread and blueberry muffin have boarded the love boat, and are slow dancing in the moonlight to Lady in Red.  MFEO.  Made for each other.

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread at Spoonwithme.com-3

Blueberry Buckwheat Banana Bread at Spoonwithme.com-2

More miraculous than the fully blossomed love affair, is the fact that these two managed to make things work without the normal requirements of most steamy oven romances.  No wheat— Wait, wait!  Buckwheat doesn’t actually contain wheat?!  Nope.  It’s a seed that comes from a plant similar to rhubarb and has much more protein than processed wheat flour.  No egg?!  Enter my new favorite flax “eggs”, which work perfectly in quickbread substitutions.

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized