Friday, October 12, 2012

Vegan Stuffed Shells

This recipe is so tasty!  You will never know that it is vegan.  Typical stuffed shells can be loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat from cheeses and cream.  This recipe takes out all of the animal products resulting in a lighter, healthier dish for your family.  The added tofu is so nutritious, adding tons of healthy protein (much more than the traditional recipe made with ricotta cheese), and no one will ever know that there is tofu in this dish.  I have fooled many non-vegan, non-vegetarian people with this recipe!  It is an added bonus that my toddler loved it and ate every last bite!   Just give it a try...You will be glad you did.

1 box of dried jumbo pasta shells
1 large container of pasta sauce, preferably low sodium
Tofu Ricotta:

  • 2 packages (14oz each) water-packed tofu, firm or extra firm
  • a few handfuls of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup soy sour cream (Tofutti brand is good) or soy mayonnaise (Vegenaise brand is good) or Aioli sauce (recipe at bottom of page)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used cane sugar, since it is less refined)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
Daiya dairy free mozzarella style shredded cheese (optional)

(All these ingredients are regularly available at my local Kroger store in the organic/health foods section, so they are not difficult to find ingredients)

Cook shells until al dente, drain and cool.
Meanwhile prepare tofu ricotta as follows:
  • drain excess water from tofu.  Mash tofu with potato masher.  Add remaining ingredients to tofu and mix well.  
Prepare a 13 x 9-inch pan by spraying with cooking spray and lining the bottom with a thin layer of pasta sauce.
When shells are cool to the touch, spoon tofu ricotta mixture to fill each shell.  Place shell seam side down into prepared cooking dish.  When dish is full, pour remaining pasta sauce over the top of the shells, making sure to coat all of the shells. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for ~25-30 minutes.  If desired, remove after ~20 minutes and place Diaya dairy-free cheese on top of shells and return to the oven, uncovered for ~5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve with a tossed salad or steamed green veggies for a complete meal.  Enjoy!

If you do not have any Dairy-free sour cream or mayo on hand, you can make something similar as follows:
Recipe for Aioli (a creamy condiment similar to dairy free mayo or sour cream):
1 cup soymilk
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Place milk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder in blender.  Blend on high, slowly drizzle in oil with machine running (drizzling slowly is the key.  It should take ~1 minute to add the oil).  Pour mixture into a bowl.  Gently fold in lemon juice.  Refrigerate until thickened.  This recipe makes 2 cups.

Recipe taken from: Give Them Something Better by Sarah Frain & Stephanie Howard.

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Mmm...nothing says fall like flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon, and spices in the kitchen!  These were a perfect treat for a chilly, cloudy fall day.  And since they are vegan, I had all the ingredients at home in my pantry for a spur of the moment baking lesson with my son (no having to run to the store for eggs!).  So much fun...but even more fun was his gooey cinnamon smile as he said "Mama, this is gooood!"  Warms my heart to see him enjoy this treat we made together!  I hope that this recipe warms your family's heart as well this fall season.  Enjoy!

For the dough:
2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp chia sees (or ground flax meal) + 3 Tbsp warm water (This is the "egg" substitute)
1 (1/4 oz) packet of dry yeast (~1 Tbsp)
2 cups all purpose flour (next time, I plan to try to use whole wheat pastry flour and see how it turns out for a healthier option)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread, softened

1 cup powdered sugar
2+ Tbsp almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the almond milk and the Earth Balance together in a small pan on the stove over low/medium heat until the butter melts and the milk is warm to the touch.  Remove from heat, let cool a little (temperature should be like warm bath water.  If it is hotter than that, the yeast won't rise).  Sprinkle the yeast and stir so yeast will dissolve.  Let yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes (it should foam and look creamy after a few minutes).

Meanwhile, combine chia seeds/flax meal with water and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then, combine with pumpkin. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.  Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and pour in yeast.  Mix together.

Knead dough by hand for about 10 minutes or with an electric dough mixer with either a paddle attachment or dough hook on medium speed for 6 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and elastic when you're done.  

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a dishcloth and set in a warm area to rise for 1 hr 15 min.  While the dough is rising, mix together softened Earth Balance, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Remove dough and punch dough on a lightly floured surface.  Ross out to a large rectangle and spread brown sugar mixture on top, keeping 1 inch bare around the sides.  Gently roll up dough so it resembles a log.  Slice dough into 1/2 -inch slices and placed on a greased 9-inch casserole dish.  Cover with a dishcloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake rolls for 25 minutes.  Let cool while you make the glaze.

For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, almond milk and vanilla.  If glaze seems too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.  Place glaze in a small plastic bag and snip the tip off.  Make swirls over the cooled rolls and serve.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tortellini with Pumpkin "Alfredo" Sauce

Picture of Tortellini With Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce Recipe

18 ounces of cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
Pinch of nutmeg
Chopped fresh parsley
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional) (or dairy free variety)

Cook and drain tortellini per package directions, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat the Earth Balance in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 2 min.  Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 min.  Stir in the coconut milk creamer and bring to a low boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 min.  Stir in the cheese and cook until thick, about 1 more minute.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tortellini to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen if needed.  Divide among bowls and top with parsley.  Serve with steamed green beans for a complete meal.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Love Your Heart Butter

Love Your Heart Butter

A healthy butter alternative

1 cup corn meal mush (or 1/2 fine corn meal cooked with 1 cup water)
1/4 c water
1/2 c raw cashew pieces
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp butter flavoring

Blend cashews and wter in blender until very smooth.  Add coconut milk.  Add remaining ingredients and continue blending until smooth.
Yields: 1 pint, 32 servings


30-Minute Chili Mac recipe

A quick weeknight meal that the family gobbled up.

1 lb vegetarian beef-style crumbles (I used Yves brand)
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cup water
1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans, rinsed
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup elbow macaroni, uncooked, preferably whole-grain

Brown burger crumbles with chili powder in a large saucepan.
Add all remaining ingredients; mix well.
Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover,  and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring after 8 minutes.

Serve with tossed salad or fresh, cooked green beans for a complete meal.

Recipe adapted from:

Vegan Carrot Cake

Post image for Carrot Cake

As the days are getting colder and fall is fast approaching, I have had a hankering for fall flavors...and a fall-spiced carrot cake has been on the list.  I try to bake vegan for the health reasons, plus the added bonus is that it usually includes ingredients that I have on hand already in my pantry.  No need to run out to buy butter or convenient!  I tried this vegan carrot-cake recipe and it was delicious!  I made a cake out of it (like the one pictured above) for a friend's birthday which turned out beautifully.  It smelled so good and I had some extra ingredients left over so I decided to make a batch of cupcakes for our family.  My son had a wonderful (and educational) time helping me make it...and of course helping me eat it :)  Try this recipe out today.  You will LOVE it!

2 1/2 cups flour 
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp egg replacer (I used Ener-G brand.  You could also probably use a chia or flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal/chia seeds + 3 Tbsp warm water, mix and let sit for 5 min then put into recipe)).
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup almond milk (or soy)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 pound of carrots, finely grated (I had a bag of already shredded carrots that I used instead of grating my own.  I used 3 cups of shredded carrots and I chopped them up a bit more.)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 cup seedless raisins (I used golden and regular raisins)
unsweetended coconut for decorating top of cake (optional)

For convenience, I used Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting (it was dairy/egg free.  I used about 1 and 1/4 cans of the icing and I did not ice the sides of my cake), but here is a recipe I found for a DIY dairy-free cream cheese frosting:
12 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread, chilled and cut into pieces
1 1/2 lb soy cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans; set aside.

For the cake, put flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and egg replacer into a mixing bowl and whisk together to blend.

Put sugar in a separate large mixing bowl and whisk in oil, almond milk, and applesauce.  When fully combined, add almond milk mixture to flour mixture and mix just until smooth.  Fold in carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the center springs back gently when pressed.  Remove from oven and transfer to racks to let cool completely.

If you wish, you can make your own frosting at this time.  Beat margarine in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Add cream cheese in pieces and mix until thoroughly blended.  Slowly add sugar and vanilla and mix until blended.  Increase mixer speed slightly and continue mixing for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Place a cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake plate or pedestal.  Spoon one-quarter of the frosting onto the top and spread it evenly.  Place a second cake layer, bottom side down on top of the first and spread with an equal amount of frosting.  Place the final cake layer, bottom side down on the top of the others and frost the top (and sides if you wish) with remaining frosting.  

For decoration, top the cake with some toasted coconut.  Take a few handfulls of unsweetened coconut and place in a non-stick skillet on low-medium heat.  Stir frequently until coconut begins to lightly brown.  Careful, coconut will burn quickly.  Top cake with a sprinkle of the toasted coconut.

Cover and chill until ready to serve or set aside to let set for 30 minutes.  Slice and enjoy!