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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Homemade Gnocchi
2 lbs russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of well-rinsed spinach
1 1/2 to 3/4 c all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Poke four or five holes all over the potatoes. Bake them (you don’t need a tray or foil, right on the oven rack is fine) for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Do a test after 45 minutes; they should be very tender (mine took closer to an hour). Use tongs to remove them; place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. This could take half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach finely, and cook over medium heat in about 1/4 cup of water until it is completely wilted. Place in a strainer and press all the water out.

Remove the skins from the cooled potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and mash very well. You don’t want to puree them, that will make the gnocchi sticky, just mash them until they have very few lumps. Fold the spinach in. Add the flour in handfuls and incorporate it into the potatoes. Once you’ve added half the flour you can turn the dough onto a floured countertop to work it there. Keep adding flour and lightly kneading the dough until a smooth, unsticky but not dry dough is formed.

Divide the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope that is about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pizza wheel or a knife to cut the ropes into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Now comes the fun part- flour your hands and use your thumb to roll each piece of gnocchi gently down the tines of a fork. Each piece should be able to do about half a roll before reaching the end of the fork so the final result should be that one side of the gnocchi has an indent from your thumb and one side has ridges from the fork.

At this point you can sprinkle with flour and freeze any gnocchi you aren’t using. To cook them immediately bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water liberally and cook the gnocchi in three batches. Within 2 minutes they should rise to the surface; let them cook just under a minute longer and remove them with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a large plate so that hey aren’t putting any weight on each other, and sauce them as soon as you can. I like them with either a simple tomato sauce or sauteed briefly with pesto and veggies.
Serves 6-8

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
1/2 c tightly packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 c water
1/4 c almonds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
a few dashes fresh black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat off and let soak for about 15 minutes, until soft.

Grid the almonds in a blender or food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (with the water), garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and puree.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This was a really rewarding dinner for a day that I felt like challenging myself in the kitchen. Normally I don’t like something that’s so fussy, and I totally got frustrated with the tine-rolling segment (SO NOT THE FUN PART, ISA), but it was very much worth the while, especially when I was able to pull some out of the freezer a few weeks later for leftovers! I was a little uncertain about the texture of the dough and wondering when I should stop adding the flour, but I did pretty well with 1 3/4 cups of it. Kneading it was fun, and I felt like the spinach made my gnocchi a bit more festive, as well as healthy.
Let’s talk texture. Gnocchi isn’t for those who don’t like doughy things. These are SO DOUGHY, so toothy. So satisfying. I want to make all of the variations, but I try to save potatoes for special occasions- they just go down too easy. The texture of the pesto was a nice partner to the gnocchi- with a faint crunch of almondy goodness. Total perfection, this meal.
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from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook by Cathe Olson

1 c chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/4 c maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar
1/4 c oil
1 c apricot soak water
1/4 c orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 c wheat germ
1 c walnuts, chopped

Place apricots in heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over apricots and let sit about 15 minutes. Drain apricots, reserving 1 cup of the soak water.

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a loaf pan. Beat together sweetener, oil, apricot soak water, orange juice, and vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir in wheat germ. Stir in liquid ingredients until just mixed. Gently fold in apricots and nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until tester inserted in center of loaf comes out dry. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. For added flavor and moistness, wrap loaf and let sit overnight. Makes 1 loaf

Here’s one for the health nut in you. The sugar addict in you might have some trouble with it though, as might the fat addict. This is a really good breakfast bread. Topped with coconut oil (a THICK layer, mind you), it’s a cozy way to get your day going, alongside a cup of coffee. I do recommend wrapping it though; it needs all the added moistness it can get. The chewiness of the apricot along with the soft crunch of the walnut is what I enjoyed most about this dense bread. The orange juice gives it a little touch of sweetness, though I’d definitely be disappointed if you served me this for dessert. Unless it had a big scoop of Coconut Bliss on top of it.

My husband won something recently…

He’d entered his name in a raffle at Cornbread Cafe, to benefit SARA– Shelter Animal Resource Alliance here in Eugene. I had no idea that he’d entered the contest, until he got all excited while checking his email. When I asked what all the fuss was, he said “I won something!” It just so happened to be a catered dinner for TEN! We were blown away by his luck.
He worked out the logistics with the super-sweet owner, Sheree. He was allowed to choose from their generous menu two proteins, some sides, and two desserts!  Since HE was the winner, I let him have most of the say… though I did insist that we have their Mac unCheese, because it’s one of my favorites.
Here’s what he chose:

Green salad with vegan ranch dressing that was TO DIE FOR.

BBQ pull-aparts, drowning in sweet and sticky sauce. I had to be careful with these because they go down so easily. There were just a few left over.

Southern Fried Tofu, which was surprisingly crispy as leftovers. This was a menu item I would have insisted on had Mike not already chosen it…

Mac unCheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy. That gravy was magic. And I don’t even care for gravy. Much.

Here’s Cleo’s dish. What a lucky girl! She was all over the croutons dipped in the ranch before Sheree and Kristy even had the rest of the food unveiled in our living room. She cleaned up the rest of it pretty well. Then I swooped baby off to bath and bed, so that we could continue gorging ourselves:

And here we have the the perfect end to a perfect evening: Frozen peanut butter bars. OH MY LAWD. Our guests were all set to roll out our door when I remembered dessert… They were like frozen pudding pop meets Reese’s Pieces meets ice cream on top of a crumbly chocolate cookie. And vegan to boot! We were all having multiple mouthgasms as we ate. After this, we released our friends, and were left to moan and groan as we discussed our favorites, with our guts pressing against our stretchy pants that we’d been exiled to for the rest of the evening (make that week. We had a LOT of leftovers).
There was also a sweet potato pie awaiting us, but it was impossible. We couldn’t. It was something that Mike and Cleo and I would have to take care of on another day… the next day. For breakfast. What a relief when a friend and her son came to visit us from the coast; she was able to offer her assistance.
This was such a treat, and we feel so lucky that we were given this wonderful meal, as well as the opportunity to show some of our meat-eating friends just how delicious and filling vegan comfort food can be. And the fact that it benefited a wonderful charity made it all the tastier.
Cornbread Cafe is hoping to expand the catering side of their business  (they are REALLY GOOD AT IT- especially considering we were their first job!), as well as the distribution their food at several local stores. You can find their products here in Eugene at The Kiva, Red Barn, Sundance, and New Frontier Market. Currently, they are looking for a new restaurant space, but seem to be doing pretty well with the wholesale distribution of their goods. They do have a Facebook page– Like them and stay in the know about where and when you can find some of this food. It really is something you should treat yourself to- whether you’re vegan or not. Thanks Sheree and Kristy! xo!

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 c soy cream (I used Silk plain coffee creamer)
3/4 c rice or soy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c vegetable oil
3 tbsp finely grated (blood) orange zest
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a measuring cup, combine the soy cream, rice milk, and vinegar, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the rice milk mixture, oil, and orange zest; mix until just combined; the dough should be clumpy and not sticky. Even if there is still a light dusting of flour it’s okay.

Divide the dough in two. Knead one portion a few times, then form into a 6-inch disk. Cut the disk into six slices, pizza-style, and place each slice on the prepared cookie sheet. Do the same with the remaining dough. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly browned on the bottom and firm on top. Transfer to a cooling rack.

When cool (if they are still only slightly warm that is okay) transfer to parchment paper. Pour about 2 tablespoons Orange Glaze over the scones; let the tops set before eating. If you simply can’t wait, prepare to have sticky fingers. Makes 1 dozen scones.

Orange Glaze
1 c confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine, melted
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a mixing bowl; add all the other ingredients and mix until smooth.

Biscuit, meet cake. These are SO GOOD! Instead of using regular oranges, I used blood oranges, hoping to get a bit of color. I am so pleased with the delicate pinky hue that the glaze has. This is not a dry scone. Oh, no. It’s light, with just a little bit of chew (ok, so I might have added an extra 1/2 cup flour. The dough was really sticky when I went to form those disks!), and they are sooooo good. The orange flavor isn’t over powering, and they aren’t too sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee and a little chit chat. Even after the glaze is set, they’re still likely to give you a sticky finger. So if you can’t handle a sticky finger, let me have your scone.

from The 4 Ingredient Vegan by Maribeth Abrams with Anne Dinshah

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c vegan mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp sweet or dill pickle relish
salt and ground black pepper

Put the chickpeas in a food processor. Pulse 6 times, or until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, celery, and relish. Stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 3 servings.

You might remember the saga of the stove, and how it died. Well, for a while we were restricted to microwaved, rice-cooker-cooked, or raw foods. Or takeout. Here’s a recipe that I found for one of the NINE dinners we didn’t have a stove/oven to use…
It’s a little creepy how closely this resembles a tuna salad sandwich. Who would’ve thought? I used a potato masher to smoosh the beans up (who wants to pull out the food processor for beans? You could also use a fork…) That caused our two cats came running over, circling me just like they used to in the height of our tuna eating days. The only way this sandwich differs from the fishy original is the lack of stringiness that the tuna brought, and the need to use a TON of mayo to cover up the fishy taste and dry texture. And not only to beans have protein, they have fiber! This recipe was so amazingly tasty and easy that I am making it again this week!

 

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c oat flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds for garnish (I opted for chunky sea salt instead)

First, reduce the pumpkin. Place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Keep the heat low enough that it doesn’t boil, but it should appear to be steaming. Stir often. After about 30 minutes, spoon the pumpkin into a liquid measuring cup to check on how much it has reduced. It should be down to around 2/3 cup at this point. Return the pumpkin to pot and cook until it has reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the cooled pumpkin and vanilla.

Sift in all remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon onto cookie sheets in rounded tablespoons of dough, flattening the tops with your hand. Arrange a few pumpkin seeds in the centers, if you like (or just give them a sprinkle of big salt chunks, if you prefer, like I did. NOM!).

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin is something that my pantry is never without. So when I decided to make cookies on a whim one morning, these were an obvious choice. And the fact that I had to spend some time reducing the pumpkin meant that there would be no cookie dough for my mid-morning snack. I don’t know if I’d quite sell my soul for this cookie though. Maybe the intro for the recipe just built up my hopes so high that they were impossible to fulfill, but there just wasn’t enough pumpkin to them. I was hoping for something a bit more autumnal, really… and I think throwing some molasses in there somewhere might have given me what I was looking for. As far as cookies go, yes, they’re really good, especially with the delicate salting I gave them to bring out the sweet. They texture- firm, and not crumbly at all, is what really made this cookie win for me. I might have enjoyed just a bit more chew (hello, molasses?). But really, tasty little bites of yumminess, these were. About the reducing business- it actually took more like an hour for me to get to the desired half cup. But, perhaps I was being a bit conservative with the heat on the stove, as I didn’t want to come back from chasing my toddler around to find scorched pumpkin. The rest of the can of pumpkin made for a delish snack for the two of us, sprinkled with cinnamon. Another win for VCIYCJ!

from The 4 Ingredient Vegan by Maribeth Abrams with Anne Dinshah

Barbecue Tempeh
1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, cut in half
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 to 2 c barbecue sauce

Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down slightly to maintain a simmer. Add the tempeh, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Cut the tempeh into 1-inch cubes and add it to the vegetables. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes, or until the tempeh starts to brown, adding up to 1/2 tablespoon more oil if it starts to stick.

Stir in 1 cup of  the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, adding more barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup at a time, if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

New-Fashioned Greens and Black-Eyed Peas
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 large bunch collard greens, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
2 cans (15 ounces each) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c vegan worcestershire sauce
salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the collard greens and cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until bright green and slightly tender. Add the black-eyed peas and worcestershire sauce and mix well. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the greens are tender to your liking. Season generously with salt and pepper before serving. Makes 3 servings.

I must admit, I kind of thought that being limited to four ingredients per recipe would make the recipes easier, and they do, just a bit, as far as prep work is concerned. I also thought that it might compromise the yumminess of the dishes. NOT SO. This was one of those meals where a sadness set in as I started to feel full. The texture of the tempeh was really good. I’ve never boiled it before! I think I might try it next time I make curry- it softened it up a lot, and seemed to make it more friendly toward the sauce. I used Annie’s BBQ sauce, and their worcestershire sauce is a staple in our fridge. Served atop a toasted mini-baguette, this was a heavenly sandwich.
Now, about those Greens and Black-Eyed Peas… they could become a regular in our house, but I’d always miss the BBQ tempeh partner in crime. I’ve never made collard greens because I was always afraid that I’d overcook them, but this recipe came out perfectly. The instructions have you seeking out a boil, and there’s not much in the way of liquid to boil, so just clear some greens and peas out of the way to see that shallow liquid in there, and you’re good.
Basically, of the two recipes I’ve tried from this book, we have two winners. So far, so good!

from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c “milk”
faux chicken (recipe follows)
3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used canola)

In a shallow dish, stir together the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, pour “milk” and set aside. Dip “chicken” into flour, then dip in “milk,” and then into the flour again. In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, fry “chicken” in oil until well browned on both sides. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Faux Chicken
1 recipe basic instant gluten
Broth:
2 c water
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tamari
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed

In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice gluten into 4-6 pieces. Drop carefully into broth. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Let simmer 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced completely.

I’ve been eyeballing this recipe ever since I made my first batch of “wheat meat.” This was the type of recipe that really got me going for chicken when I was little- it is so reminiscent of the baked chicken my mom made as an alternative to fried. But it’s fried! This is probably the second thing I’ve fried- in my 30-plus years here on this earth; the first being a batch of donuts my sister and I cooked up on the d-low while my parents were out of the house. Naughty! Fried food was saved for special occasions, so it’s generally off my radar. I don’t even know how to properly dispose of the oil! I went easy on it for this batch, so that I could just send it down the drain with suds. There was definitely a resting period on some paper towels to eliminate the excess oil between frying pan and plate. Once it got to my plate, I couldn’t photograph it fast enough. Good thing it retained its heat! As I was eating it, I made sure to slow down and really savor every bite- it was DIVINE. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside… it’s going to be tough to resist making this each time it’s faux meat making day.
Now- about the recipes. I like to make my faux meats in big batches. Spending a few hours in the kitchen is a big commitment, so I want to get a lot out of it. I made eight batches this time! In two pots. I had a pot of “beef” and a pot of “chicken.” I’ve also tried the “ham” from this book, and it’s really REALLY good. Smoky and authentic. The faux “turkey” was really good in a Shepherd’s Pie that I made a while back.  The “fish” I didn’t much care for, but Mike liked it. (BTW of all my cookbooks, I’d say this one gets the most use. Really, if you’re going vegan cookbook shopping, this is the one for quick and easy yummies.) It’s pretty easy to divide up the basic instant gluten recipe among a few pots of broth, and I highly recommend doing it. You save SO MUCH money over buying seitan in the store, and the taste and quality is so much better.
Once you have your “chicken” breasts all ready to go, the fried “chicken” recipe is really easy, and fast. And to think I was always afraid of frying food. Just make sure you have some greens to balance out the guilt!

from Gluten-Free Goddess

You’ll find the recipe here!

And with this recipe, we wrap up my Holiday 2010 Baking Marathon. I didn’t make a single savory item- not from scratch anyway. It was all about sugar and flour and fruit this year for Wootie. After making this pumpkin cake (like 6 times) from The Gluten-Free Goddess, I thought I would try out another of her recipes for Christmas dinner with my family. You might recall that my sister has trouble with gluten and soy, so again I turned to the source of what has become one of my favorites. This cake was really good, but it was almost too reminiscent of the pumpkin bundt- I think due to the buckwheat flour. Still a really tasty, moist and satisfying cake! Spicy and weighty, with little fruity chunks of heaven. I’ve never used cranberries in the kitchen, so there’s another item to cross off my list of things to try. I have some leftover, so we’ll see what else I can come up with. Any suggestions?
One of my favorite things about this cake is how pretty it is. The colors are so festive, and the way that sugar glistens on top is quite fetching, if I do say so myself. Topped with some Coconut Bliss, and things became REALLY FETCHING. It was a really nice way to wind down our busy Christmas day.

from Apron Strings

You’ll find the recipe here!

I’ve had this recipe printed out and lurking next to my grocery list for the longest time. But then the holidays got in the way, and then I wasn’t in the mood for cauliflower… but finally, the time came. It was a super cold day, and I felt a bit like I was coming down with a cold. Thankfully I didn’t- perhaps because of this soup? I busted out my big soup pot, as this was a recipe to be doubled. Again, so glad that I did! What a hearty bowl of soup to cozy up to. Mike had seconds, but one bowl was super filling for me. Perhaps it was the rice? I used a brown and wild rice mix, which was super yummy- adding some texture to this smooth soup. The funny thing about this soup is that it isn’t overly sweet potato flavored, nor is it cauliflowery. I’d say it’s mostly a savory curry veggie flavor, very mellow. I might even guess that there were garbanzo beans in it, if we were playing such a game. It’s pretty thick- I ended up needing extra broth to cover the veggies before I could simmer them, but that was easy enough. And Daiya cheese? Heaven. I didn’t have enough of the mozzarella style, so I did a mix of both mozzarella and cheddar style. Ungh. So glad there’s still some in the fridge; I know what we’re having for dinner tonight. Thanks for the great recipe, Lana!