Cooking Light

This weekend we saw the movie Lincoln. It was fantastic, even if it was a good fifty minutes over my ideal movie time.

I am kind of a history nerd.

Back in high school AP U.S. History class, when I wasn’t eye rolling over my boyfriend saying my new hairstyle made me look like Sigourney Weaver (he meant it as a compliment – all I could see was Alien), I was soaking up every detail about historical figures like President Lincoln.

One detail I always remember – Lincoln’s supposed great sense of humor.

This movie showcases that sense of humor and storytelling, among other things. Daniel Day-Lewis was excellent (when asked in an interview how he found Lincoln’s voice, he answered with “you don’t know what he sounded like either…”).

Seems he shares that humor.

There were several times through the movie when Jason and I turned to each other and smiled with the choices in actors – Sally Field as Mary Todd, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens and an awesome James Spader in a delightful political operative role – I won’t say any more, but Spader has a great line when he first meets Lincoln, and Lincoln has a great response.

chocolate bourbon caramel truffles

inspired by Bourbon-Caramel Truffles

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

makes 17-20 truffles 

6 large Medjool dates, pitted
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting 

In saucepan over medium heat, combine pitted Medjool dates with bourbon. As the dates warm, continually stir with bourbon and mash into a paste, adding water by the tablespoon as needed until a smooth paste forms. Reduce heat to low, add vanilla and chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate melts to a smooth consistency.

Let chocolate date mixture cool, transfer to covered container and refrigerate several hours to overnight. Once cool, spoon small amounts and roll into balls, just under one inch in size. Roll through cocoa powder, return to refrigerator to cool.

These truffles are incredibly decadent – rich chocolate and smooth date caramel with a perfect hint of bourbon. Sometime this week I will be making somewhere around eleventeen batches of these, to include with holiday gifts and cookie plates.

…and a batch for us to enjoy at the movies.

History fan?

Last great movie you saw?

 

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I was invited by Cooking Light and The Chew to make one of the holiday recipes from the show (I was actually invited to join a taping of The Chew last week, and rats Rats RATS I could not go).

But did I want to put my own spin on one of The Chew’s holiday recipes or crafts? I absolutely did! I am not too incredibly into crafts (I do have some fun house projects going on right now…), but we all know I love to cook. I chose one of their desserts and I veganized it.

Actually, the dessert I chose was also kinda crafty…

Just look at those cute pastry cornucopias! These were made with sugar cones – wrapping the cones in foil and then wrapping in pastry dough.

Just a piece of advice from someone newly experienced in this cone wrapping? Do not skip the cone. Do not think you can fashion a cone shape from foil and make that work. Well, it works exceptionally well until you want to take the cone out of the cooked pastry. Trust me, I’ve been other candles I’ve used both methods. For this part of the recipe, follow the original.

You then fill the pastry with a delectable mousse and drizzle caramel over the top…

The original recipe uses a pudding mix, and while most common instant pudding mixes are accidentally vegan, that wasn’t enough of a “change” for me. I made my own pudding.

The caramel sauce is unconventional as well – but every bit as delicious.

praline pumpkin mousse cornucopias

recipe adapted from praline-pumpkin mousse cornucopias

makes six desserts

pastry cones

1 package vegan puff pastry (or this, also vegan), cut into 1 cm strips
coconut sugar 

Wrap six ice cream sugar cones in foil, beginning at pointed end and wrapping around, folding excess over into cone. Spray with cooking spray (I used spray coconut oil). Wrap puff pastry strips around cone, beginning at pointed end and wrap up, overlapping slightly. I used 3 – 4 strips for each cone. Place cones on prepared (parchment, silpat) baking sheet, dust with coconut sugar, bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

pumpkin mousse

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup maple whipped cream (recipe follows)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup 

In food processor, pulse cashews to a fine crumb. Add maple whipped cream, pumpkin puree and maple syrup, combine completely to a smooth mousse.

maple whipped cream

1 can full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup 

Chill can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight. When chilled, separate the solid from the liquid, saving liquid for another recipe. Using hand mixer (or stand mixer fitted with whisk), whip coconut solids into fluffy cream, adding maple syrup as you whip.

praline caramel sauce

adapted from chai pecan butter sauce

1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted
3+ tablespoons water

In food processor, blend pecans and dates until crumbly. Add water by the tablespoon and continue to blend until smooth and desired consistency is reached.

to assemble

Transfer pumpkin mousse to piping bag, pipe into pastry cones. Plate and drizzle with praline caramel sauce, garnish with chopped pecans.

I made these three different times they were so good!

 

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I am loving the cold smoky winter evenings, the cooler temperatures, the fact that the holidays are coming.

The one thing I miss this time of year are the fresh and bright summer fruits.

I am so so happy to be finding the most amazing fresh raspberries right now! These are so good – so sweet.

The holidays have pretty much started in my life, and holidays mean more get togethers, more entertaining, more imbibing. More rich foods, more delectable desserts, more cheersing and celebrating.

So sometimes a break is needed. A fresh dessert. Even if it is spiked.

This is fresh and refreshing, light and sweet tooth satisfying at the same time. Instead of straining the fruit and just using the flavored liquid, I made a puree and froze it – a bit heartier than a traditional granita. I think I like the full fruit version even better.

This makes a large amount and we will happily enjoy it for many desserts – I made half without the vodka so I could share with anyone… or eat for lunch.

sparkly spiked cran-raspberry granita

adapted from cranberry whiskey sour slush

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

1 pint fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup club soda
1/2 cup vodka
3 tablespoons agave
juice of 1 lime

In food processor, puree raspberries and cranberries until smooth. Add club soda, vodka, agave and lime juice, combine completely. Transfer to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze. When solid, scrape with fork to make ice granules. Garnish with lime.

or whip cream:

Cheers!

 

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I am still cooking dinners for my Dad. Sometimes I just double the recipe of what I am making us for dinner, sometimes I make something ahead of time and bring to him for reheating, and sometimes I ask him what he would like?

A couple weeks ago, he requested stroganoff.

Since I know he is not a big pasta fan, and I vaguely recall stroganoff being served over pasta, I asked if he would like rice, or even better, quinoa.

Dad loves the quinoa.

The protein in the quinoa makes up for the … lack of meat. Didn’t even miss it.

baby portobello stroganoff

used this recipe for inspiration, reference

dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan

serves four

1 cup dry quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter (Earth Balance soy free) or olive oil
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 pint baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup vermouth (or wine)
3 tablespoons flour (gluten free all purpose)
splash almond milk
salt and pepper  

In medium sauce pan, combine vegetable broth and (rinsed) quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover, cook for 10 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes, cooking time varies between 10-15 minutes for all liquid to be absorbed). When all liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and set aside with lid on.

Meanwhile, melt butter in pan, cook onion until caramelized. Add portobello pieces, cook until softened (a few minutes). Add vegetable broth and vermouth, continue to cook until liquid reduces by half, stirring frequently. In small bowl, combine flour and milk, stirring until smooth, add to onion/portobello mixture, stirring until thickened. Add salt + pepper to taste.

Serve over warm quinoa.

Also? Spell-check wanted to change stroganoff to strongman. The other day it changed mirepoix to firepower.

 

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My birthday isn’t until next week, but I have gotten a couple gifts early.

One of them I am so SO excited about I had to use it right away – my new spiralizer!

I have wanted one of these for years, and now that I have one, I have no idea why I waited so long to get one. Veggie pasta will be the new house specialty, I think.

I was able to use a spiralizer and a mandoline during my vegan and raw fusion class over the summer, and have really wanted one ever since then. I have a list of ideas to use this for – I cannot wait to share them all with you!

This is light and summery, using the summer’s zucchini, and has a hint of fall with the sweet potato. I know, I can have them year round, but sweet potatoes are a cool weather thing for me. They kinda go along with all the autumn and winter squash.

roasted sweet potato and asparagus pasta

inspired by Tomato and Asparagus “Carbonara”

dairy, egg, soy and gluten free, vegan

serves four

3 small zucchini
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
2
 sweet potato, peeled
salt
olive oil

2-3 ounces jack cheese (I used this – vegan)
1/3 cup wine (I used dry vermouth)

Slice zucchini into pasta (using spiralizer, mandoline, julienne peeler), set aside. Slice asparagus into bite size pieces. Chop sweet potato into cubes. Toss asparagus and potato with olive oil, arrange on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt. Roast in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

In pan over low heat, combine olive oil (1-2 tablespoons), cheese and wine – stirring until it melts into a sauce. Remove from heat, add zucchini pasta and toss to coat with sauce. Plate the pasta and top with the roasted asparagus and sweet potato.

Have you ever made pasta noodles from vegetables?

 

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Are you guys tired of my “I love fall” talk?

I know I’ve been talking about fall a lot, and how much I am looking forward to it…  I really have enjoyed this summer – summer in Portland is generally good and this year has been perfect. We still have very warm days (yesterday’s temperature was 90!), but I am loving the cool evenings that have that smoky scent in the air. Fall is coming.

But! We are still loving summer, still loving grilling. We have enjoyed several varieties of veggie and bean based burgers this summer – and here is another.

Lentils and mushrooms make a deliciously savory and juicy burger. I may have used extra garlic. and I think I used a bit more olive oil. I definitely used a flax egg. Which resulted in a perfect burger.

I made a cheese sauce to top the burgers, following that recipe but using Jack cheese. and we used gluten free buns from this local company. We liked them, we grilled them.

The recipe I followed, from Cooking Light –> mushroom lentil burgers.

We paired these burgers with some fresh pineapple and some crunch, in the form of Plentils

Yes, I made lentil burgers and the chips we ate with them? Made of lentils. It works, right?

Well yes – yes it does. These are our new favorite chip, for real. The ‘margherita pizza’ and the sea salt are my favorite flavors, but I loved all of them. Those sea salt chips? Five ingredients total. All the flavors? Free of gluten, dairy, and all of the common allergens (as the Enjoy Life brand always is).

Your favorite chip? Are you clinging to summer or welcoming fall?

 

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Backpacking through Mexico last year, I ate all kinds of tacos. It was always easy for me to find things to eat – if the restaurant or street stand did not have a veggie taco on the menu, it was easy enough (with my limited Spanish) to have one made.

The street food was by far the best I’ve ever had, anywhere. One night we convinced a cab to drive us around until we found the cart we were looking for – then made him park the cab so we could buy him dinner!

Amazing tacos filled with fresh vegetables, with that artful flick of the pineapple from the top of the al pastor stand – caught in midair into the taco and handed over to me.

Yum.

Since that trip, I have been more adventurous and creative with my own tacos at home. No, I don’t have the vertical spit in my kitchen, and I’m not wielding my knife at the whole pineapple perched atop.

These tacos? Miso? Flavors far removed from the street food of Sayulita and San Pancho (San Francisco, Nayarit).

These tacos are what I look for, though – creative and colorful, simple and flavorful.

Seeing that it is zucchini season, that one is a given for me – I love zucchini. Onions are always good, and mushrooms – I cannot resist those baby ‘bellos.

Use your favorite vegetables – just chop/slice them all in a fairly uniform size for even cooking, and you cannot go wrong.

miso roasted vegetables

adapted from this Cooking Light recipe

dairy and gluten free, vegan

2-3 tablespoons miso paste (I used red)
1 tablespoon water
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 zucchini (depending on size), sliced in rounds
1 pint baby portobello mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced
salt + pepper 

In a small bowl, whisk together miso, water and lemon juice. Add olive oil, whisking to combine. Set aside. Chop all vegetables. Place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet, pile all vegetables in middle of foil. Gather sides and corners of foil, creating a bowl with the foil, and pour miso mixture over vegetables. Crimp foil to close, cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

veggie taco assembly:

corn tortillas
1 recipe easy tomato Spanish rice
miso roasted vegetables
miso sauce 

Warm the tortillas in a skillet over medium heat. Spread a layer of Spanish rice down middle of tortilla, top with miso roasted vegetables and drizzle with miso sauce.

Taco Tuesday? Taco every day.

 

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I am a highly animated person.

I am not a good poker player, my face generally gives away what I’m thinking or feeling.

I talk with my hands. I gesture, I draw, I point and I direct. I can tell half the story with my hands – which is good because I am also very detailed and sometimes long winded…

A friend recently challenged me to go through one day without using my hands to talk. “Try sitting on your hands” she said. “Describe something with words in place of gestures” she said.

I gave her an Elaine-style “Get Out!” shove and shook my fist at her.

No, not really (well, I may have shook my fist, I love to shake my fist!)

…and I did try.

I failed within the first few minutes when stopped in the middle of the Whole Foods parking lot to be asked directions. I saw the road they were looking for and immediately started pointing and sweeping my arms…

I’m okay with being animated, gesturing and emoting all over the place. I am colorful and I like colorful.

When I first started working with Cooking Light, I kicked my leg WAY up in the air, high above my head (this always makes Jason laugh). I have been enjoying their recipes, inspired to make them my own, gesturing wildly the whole time.

This pasta certainly brought the gestures, the smiles, the Mmm noises. Inspired by a recipe in the August issue of Cooking Light, I went in a different direction with the cream sauce, and with good results. While I was saying it will make an excellent fall and winter comfort dish, Jason declared it “light enough for summer”.

Jump, spin, fist pump, high kick.

tomato basil pasta with kalamata cream sauce

inspired by Cooking Light’s Fettuccine with Tomato-Cream Sauce

dairy, egg, soy and gluten free, vegan

serves four

1/2 pound gluten free penne pasta
salted water for boiling pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons butter (Earth Balance soy free)
1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of choice), divided
1 cup raw cashews
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper
bunch fresh basil, rough chopped
4 roma tomatoes, rough chopped
handful (1/2 cup) kalamata olives, pitted and rough chopped, divided

In medium pot over high heat, bring salted water to boil. Add penne, boil 9-10 minutes, no longer. 

Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt butter in large pan. Add 1/2 cup milk, cashews, garlic, salt and pepper and 5 or 6 kalamata olives, stirring occasionally. While this cooks down, chop basil, tomatoes and olives.

When the pasta is cooked, remove from heat. The milk will have reduced, and can be removed from heat as well. Transfer milk-cashew mixture to blender, add remaining 1 cup milk and blend on highest speed until smooth. Pour back into pan, add penne, tomatoes, basil and kalamatas, stirring to combine. Serve and garnish with additional basil and olives.

*waves hands in air* please make this, so we can jump around and high kick together…

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