Peppermint Patties (vegan)

Yes!

A slight experiment, tweaked from the original recipe…

You’re going to love it. It tastes exactly like a peppermint patty.

Vegan Peppermint Patties

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon agave nectar + 1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 capful peppermint oil + 1 capful peppermint oil

2 tablespoons raw cashew butter (soak some cashews in water, food process until ground)

two teaspoons water

Mix the melted coconut oil (mine was liquid at room temperature in this hot summer heat; or, microwave until clear) and mix with 1 tablespoon agave nectar and 1/8 capful peppermint oil.  Mix in cocoa powder until thick. (It will be a dark, peppermint chocolate coating, on the more bitter side.) Taking a tiny spoon, put about a teaspoon into mini silicone muffin cups, coating both the bottom and sides of the cup, and freeze until hard.

In a separate bowl, mix the cashew butter with water, 1 capful peppermint oil, and 1 tablespoon agave nectar until combined. Spoon a bit into the frozen chocolate, and top with more chocolate, and freeze again… if you can stand the wait. Any leftover chocolate can be pressed between sheets of wax paper and frozen to make frozen peppermint chocolate bark.

These were so delicious and a perfect little portion. Cashew butter might seem weird but it really worked well in this recipe–I swear it tastes just as good or better (you know, because of that whole TLC thing) than a store bought peppermint patty. Super refreshing and perfect for these warmer days!

Note: They do melt fast. So eat right away! Not that that will be a problem, I assure you.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Latest ingredient in surplus: cauliflower.

Recent motivating recipe: cauliflower pizza crust.

 

With a little pesto, fresh mozzarella, and grape tomatoes, cauliflower crust pizza is as delectable as it is nutritious!

And there’s lots of cheese. I’m loving cheese lately, for some reason.

ANYWAY…

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Adapted from Eat. Drink. Smile.

1 cup cooked, grated cauliflower (directions follow)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic powder
olive oil (optional)

pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of pre-cooked toppings

Take a fresh head of cauliflower, wash and cut into chunks, and grate it by hand (messy and time consuming) or if you are so lucky to have a food processor, pulse until you have a grainy-like texture. Don’t over-process as to create cauliflower puree. We’re making a crust, not cauliflower mash (which is also delicious). Remove and place in a large microwaveable-safe container.

Microwave on high until you get about half the volume. If 3 cups worth of grated cauliflower, microwave about 5-8 minutes. My cauliflower actually made 8 cups… so it took quite a bit of time. Stir occasionally and don’t let it burn! Don’t add extra water either.

Once cooked thoroughly (my 8 cups became 4), proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or place a pizza stone in the oven to let it warm up.

Stir together 1 cup of the cooked cauliflower, the beaten egg, and the shredded mozz. Add the oregano and garlics and stir.

Pour onto cookie sheet or pre-heated pizza stone and using a spatula, spread out into a 9″ round. Brush olive oil on top to help with browning. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes–it should be browned and delicious-looking.

Remove, add sauce, toppings, and cheese, and place in oven again for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted (or broil under high heat).

The edges of the crust brown the most, and thus are the most delicious because the grated cauliflower becomes caramelized, lending a nice sweet flavor, contrasting with the savory saltiness of the cheese.

At least for me, the pizza did not need any additional toppings (parmesan, dried basil, etc) — the crust was so flavorful in itself, unlike pizza dough crust which is basically just … bread. Or, I guess it can be stuffed with cheese (which grosses me out) but why have that when you can have… crust with mozz baked into it throughout!

Surprisingly, the crust (I made it a thinner crust) held together pretty well. It stuck a tiny bit on the stone, but after a bit of (agonizing) cooling time, came off pretty easily. Plus, it was super easy to slice with a pizza-cutter.

It was a bit of an experiment but successful. And I still have 3 cups of cooked cauliflower to go. My dad requested a “deep dish” pizza.

For the three of us, we divided it up into 3rds and it was NOT enough!! So I would plan on making more than one, or that each should be a personal pizza (happily, the pizza is not as filling–thus, eat more!) for a filling dindin.

Totally will try again.

Pecorino-Crusted Turnip Bites

Turnips are sweet, dense root vegetables that, when baked with a dusting of pecorino and spices, become amazingly addictive.

Magical things happen when cheese is browned and the sugar in the veg becomes caramelized. Mm, mm, mm. Yum hot or cold — just ask my dad.

Pecorino-Crusted Turnip Bites

Adapted from this recipe

1 package of peeled, pre-diced turnips (I would say about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or evoo

1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)

1 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 425°F (or 400°F if feeling lazy and using convection oven). Line a baking sheet big enough to house the turnips in an even (can be crowded) layer. Spray with PAM or grease lightly.

Place turnips in a large bowl, toss with vegetable oil to coat. In a gallon-sized ziplock bag, mix together the rest of the ingredients and shake to mix. Add oiled turnips to the bag and shake-a-shake-a-shake until the turnips are evenly coated. Awesome method.

Spread turnips out on baking sheet — dump any extra un-adhered topping in too — and cook until crispy outside and tender inside (~20 minutes) and serve immediately… Also good cold.

So yummy! Delicious on a salad or just by themselves. The browned parts, of course, are the best. And as in the original recipe, you can use whole turnips and cut them into longer sticks to make “fries” … which unlike potatoes, are extremely low in calories for the amount of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber you get. I’m not saying potatoes aren’t healthy–they totally are, just not when deep fried to oblivion or slathered in sour cream/butter, cheese, or … shudder… Bacon Bits. Cough.

But back to the turnips! This is a snack that, when using pre-cut turnips, is very quick and easy to make and delicious to eat. Sweet and salty. What’s not to love?

Mochi!

Who likes mochi on fro yo?

*Raises hand wildly*

After much scouring on the internet (hey, it’s summer after all) I found a recipe to mimic the Mochi fro yo topping at Pinkberry… and also at Red Mango, it seems and probably other fro yo places. Mochi is a soft, gummy-like topping (like gummy bears, but much softer and without unnecessary coloring) that is covered lightly in corn starch to prevent sticking. It’s made from rice flour mixed with water and sugar and heated until gelatinous, spread to cool, and then cut into pieces.

It might sound like a weird and unorthodox topping for frozen yogurt but it actually offers a nice texture contrast… and a light, subtle sweetness.

Anyway, yum.

Mochi

Adapted from this recipe

1-1/2 cup of water + 1/2 cup water

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of Mochiko rice flour (I used white rice flour)

Cornstarch for dusting

Baking pan covered in a sheet of wax paper and sprinkled heavily with cornstarch

In a saucepan, mix the “+ 1/2 cup” of water and the sugar together over low heat and allow it to dissolve; keep on low heat. While you’re waiting, in a large microwaveable bowl, stir and mix the flour and remaining 1 1/2 cups water together–it will look like thick glue.

Cover the flour/water mixture with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Remove and mix mix mix with a wooden spoon–it will be thick but will give you your bicep workout for the day.

Add the hot sugar mixture and mix it in. I mixed it for a while and still had lumps… but just go with it. A lump here and there won’t kill anyone. Mix until as homogeneous as possible.

Pour into the prepared cornstarched-wax-papered-baking-pan and spread out into a nice even layer. Sprinkle with more cornstarch and allow to cool and firm up. I let it cool for an afternoon and it never became as firm as Pinkberry mochi, but it was still yummy!

Once it’s firm, spread out that cornstarch and cover shiny areas. Flip it onto a cutting board and remove the wax paper, make sure that’s coated with cornstarch as well. Cut into small squares and continually coat with more cornstarch to avoid stickage.

Store in fridge for one week or freezer for a few weeks.

Serve with homemade froyo, banana ice cream, raspberry banana ice cream with greek yogurt (as shown here). And add, of course, other treats… e.g. chocolate chips, whipped cream, etc…

Yummy! And also delish eating plain. The cornstarch coating doesn’t detract–it is reminiscent of powdered sugar when combined with the sweet gummy. (Powdered sugar is just sugar and cornstarch, anyway.) Making it once yields a LOT of mochi–so while it was a bit time consuming to let it cool and painstakingly cut them (I just ended up pulling them apart anyway, it was so soft), I got a large reward. Not sure if I’ll have the motivation to make again, but it’s fun to have homemade mochi on homemade froyo!

Crumb Cake (vegan)

Sam: “Mom, what’s your favorite desserty-type thing?”

Mom: “Well, I do like crumb cake.”

BAM.

And a vegan crumb cake at that! Delicious moist cake paired with crunchy crumbs–which are, in fact, the best part.

Crumb Cake

Adapted from VeganYumYum

Crumbs
1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
2/3 cup raw sugar
1 tsp molasses
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Cake
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup unsweetened soymilk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 tablespoon corn starch + 1/4 cup water, mixed
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Whisk warm, melted Earth Balance with sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and salt; add the 1 3/4 cup flour and mix until a thick dough forms. Let it cool for 10 minutes while you put together the cake.

Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil and spray with PAM. Combine 1 1/4 cup flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oil, soymilk mixture, cornstarch mixture and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth (do not overmix).

Add the batter to the lined pan. It’ll be thick, spread it out with a spoon or your fingers.

For the crumbs, break apart any larger pieces (although in my opinion bigger the crumb the better) and squeeze together tiny crumb particles in your hand to form bigger masses to break apart. (See the original recipe for good step-by-step instructions!) Evenly cover the cake with crumbs–use all of them even if it seems like too many (there’s never too many crumbs on a crumb cake.)!

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the crumbs are slightly browned and a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Use the toothpick to push over a crumb or two in the middle an make sure the top doesn’t look gooey. Grab the aluminum foil and gently lift the cake out to cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack. Give it a nice dusting of powdered sugar, slice and serve. (I forgot to powder-sugar it–but it was super delicious and the step wasn’t necessary, here, at least!)

This cake was so good! Unlike store-bought cakes, the actual cake part remained quite tender and moist, the crumbs were nice and crunchy on the outside. I wish the crumbs and the cake had more of a contrasting color difference but in the name of health I used whole wheat pastry flour for both, and it was totally delicious, especially with some coffee. I always wondered how the crumbs for crumb cake were made; wonder not I anymore.

Eggs Florentine

First off, Happy Mother’s Day!

Second off, best brunch food after a walk through Brookdale Park and a quick trip to Shop Rite to get some eggs (among other things… since we never leave with only the items we came for)?

Creamy, lemony hollandaise sauce dripping down the sides of poached eggs, a bed of sauteed spinach, and a crispy toasted English muffin. Yum.

Eggs Florentine (to serve four)

Adapted from this recipe

3 1/2 oz butter (a little over 3/4 of a stick), cold, cut into cubes

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon cold water

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

s&p

4 English muffins, split in half horizontally, toasted

4 large handfuls spinach

4 free-range eggs

Melt 2 1/2 oz of butter (eyeball it-ish or weigh) in a small saucepa, melt it slowly, and then remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer, and place a bowl on top (don’t let the bowl touch the simmering water) and beat the two egg yolks in this bowl until pale and thickened. Add water, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and black pepper and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Mine scrambled a tiny bit but it was okay–just keep whisking and it should turn out fine.

Add half of the remaining (non-melted) butter to the egg mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes until the butter melts and thickens the mixture. Remove from heat and beat in the rest of the butter.

Slowly pour in the melted butter while whisking, until the sauce thickens.  Taste and season with lemon juice, pepper, and salt as needed. Keep the hollandaise warm by letting the bowl sit in lukewarm water.

Bring a large, shallow pot/pan of water to boil (to poach the eggs). When it hits a simmer, add a capful of white vinegar. This keeps the egg white from spreading too much. Add your eggs carefully one by one, dropping them in close to the surface of the boiling water. Let them cook for 3-6 minutes. Drain them on paper towels.

Meanwhile, in the empty pan you used to melt the butter, add the spinach 1 handful at a time and keep a lid on it to let the steam wilt the spinach. It’s amazing how much the spinach shrinks! The butter helps the spinach not stick and gives it some flavor. Add a bit of lemon juice if you desire.

Halve and toast the English muffins. Add some spinach, a poached egg, and drench drizzle hollandaise (mine came out kind of thick; not sure what I did wrong). Serve with pineapple, or strawberries, or a small garden salad!

This came out really yummy, a perfect Mother’s Day treat. The hollandaise was lemony and bright, and my dad even scraped out the bowl and ate it with a spoon. (Not telling him just how much butter went into that.) I love getting eggs Benedict at restaurants, but don’t think I’ve ever tried to recreate it at home.

I love eggs Benedict with spinach, and once I had it with lump crab meat at the Mad Hatter in Cape May–that was amazing. There’s something about breaking open the yolk, watching it slowly make its way down the egg and allowing the bread to sop it up that makes eating eggs Benedict as entertaining as it is delicious!

It may not seem like a lot to eat, but this meal is actually very filling. So delicious. And I learned to make a hollandaise sauce (for the most part. I could use some more practice!) and how not to poach eggs (uh… the liquid needs to cover the top of the eggs… hence the yolk visuals in these pictures. The lemon in the sauce adds a nice brightness to the sheer richness of the butter and yolk, contrasted with the crunchy-yet-chewy muffins and the tannin bitterness of the spinach.

My brother tried it and ate the whole thing, even after he thought the eggs would be scrambled (not a fan of the runny yolk) and is not usually into eating what I make. An accomplishment in itself!

Chickpea Pot Pie (vegan)

Yes, you read that right. Chickpea pot pie!

Carrots, sweet potatoes, peas and chickpeas all kept piping hot under a delicious cornbread crust.

Chickpea Pot Pie

Adapted from Eats Well With Others

2 cups chopped sweet potatoes (I used 5 small)
1/2 cup chopped carrots (2 medium/large)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup white flour
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, rinsed)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
1 tsp kosher salt
cracked pepper
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water and allowed to soak for a few minutes (or 1 egg yolk)
Instructions

Boil the potatoes and carrots until tender, set aside. Grease 1 small casserole pan and two smaller ramekins with cooking spray or earth balance.

Heat a large nonstick saucepan and then cook onions in olive oil until soft (5 min, ish). Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of white flour and mix; slowly whisk in veggie stock (it should thicken up as you pour). Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the veggies, salt, and pepper and cook about 3 minutes or until nice and heated through. Spoon evenly into the dishes.

Combine the cornmeal, 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl; in a smaller bowl combine the milk, oil and flax mixture and mix with the dry ingredients until just mixed. Spoon batter on top of each filled ramekin and spread evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 22-25 minutes for a larger casserole and 10-12 minutes for the smaller ramekins.

This came out so delicious! Ultimate comfort food. The veggies were all cooked perfectly, and the cornmeal crust had a lovely crisp surface and was nutty and tender inside. The flax added both visual interest and further flavor. Cornbread complements pot pie filling so much better than pastry crust. To add to the delectability, this meal is completely vegan and whole wheat. Let’s just say the chicken (or turkey, or beef) was NOT missed. Nor was the frozen-slash-“boiling-lava-hot”-excitement of microwaveable pot pies I consumed back in the day (quote by Jim Gaffigan).

I fed this to me and two others and we devoured almost the entire recipe for dinner (along with a side of cranberry sauce, which has tartness that contrasts perfectly with the creamy sweetness of the pot pie). We scarfed it down. It’s pretty easy too–the majority of ingredients are all items that are in your pantry or freezer. All you need is an open mind and willingness to try something new.