An Allergen-Friendly Birthday: Blueberry Grunt

This weekend we’re celebrating my roommate’s birthday.  But, we’re an allergen-sensitive duo.  Between the two of us, we need food that is gluten, dairy, egg, cruelty (yes, I’m allergic to cruelty), soy, and peanut-free.  At the same time, as two first-year grad students in a new town, I want to give my roommate a taste of her native Nova Scotia for her birthday away from home.

So here goes!

Allergen-friendly Blueberry Grunt:

For this stove-top dessert, the hardest part is finding a soy-free all purpose gluten-free flour, but thanks to the careful eye of my mother, we found some! Thanks Mom!

After that, it’s pretty much smooth sailing.  Heat 4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries in a heavy-bottomed or cast iron pot with 1 cup water (less if frozen fruit) and bring to a boil.  Stir in 1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup agave syrup) and the juice from one lemon.  Let simmer 15-20 mins until the blueberries are cooked down and ooey gooey good.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together 1.5 cups flour, the zest of the lemon, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tsp baking powder.  With a fork, mix in 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut or almond milk.  Then plop the dumplings into the skillet full of blueberry sauce.

Cover with a tight lid and simmer over medium heat 10-15 mins until the dumplings are puffy and test done with a toothpick.  Serve hot in a bowl with cold almond yogurt or ice cream.

Happy birthday to my Canadian co-denizen!!   

Savory Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini

Here’s what I had:

  • A beautiful heirloom round yellow zucchini
  • 4 ears of white sweet corn
  • 1 pt of fresh shelled lima beans
  • 1 lb. of baby purple-skinned potatoes
  • A few red onions
  • Leftover fresh baby spinach
  • Various pantry odds and ends

Here’s what I made:

Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini with Roasted Baby Purple-Skinned Potatoes

 

Here’s what I did:

I sliced the potatoes thin, coated them with oil and some Spike’s Veg Magic and baked them at 425F for 15-20 mins.  Wanted to get the taters done first so I could snack on them while cooking the rest!

While the potatoes cooked, I scooped out the middle of the zucchinis and mashed up the insides with 2-3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast and some Kosher salt.  I sauteed 2 small red onions and a clove of garlic in some coconut oil and then added the limas.  I put a lid on the pot and left them alone until the lima beans were bright green and tender (about 3-4 mins).  Once the limas were tender, I added the cheesy squash and the corn.  I let that get happy for another 2-3 mins before tearing up some spinach and letting it wilt in.  The zucchini and corn were both sweeter than I was feeling for dinner, so I had to taste and adjust the seasonings a few times.

Suffering Succotash! …Couldn’t help myself

Meanwhile, I gave the round zucchinis a massage in some evoo, Kosher salt, and black pepper.  I reduced the heat on the oven to 375F (the potatoes were long-since done and already being snacked on).

It’s like they were calling my name!

I baked the zucchini for about 15 mins, or until just short of tender.  Then, I stuffed the zucchini halves and baked them for another 5-7 mins, or until the squash were tender and juicy (but not at all mushy).

Little heirloom boats of awesome waiting for the oven

At the end, I layered the leftover potatoes in a casserole dish and topped them with the juicy leftover succotash.

 

What would you have made with these ingredients?  Do you prefer to plan out your meals or just jump in the kitchen and see what happens?  Does your cooking style change from season to season like mine?

 

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagna

I don’t make that many lasagnas.  I don’t know why.  They’re the perfect way to eat GF pasta (which can often turn out less than stellar).  I’m not sure if it’s that they intimidated me, or if I thought they were too much work.  But!  Nevertheless with my success with this recipe, I’ve got a new regular dish to add to my rotation, and I’ve found my lasagna mojo!  I made this lasagna using a creamy white wine tomato basil sauce that uses ground roasted cashews to replace the cream, and it came out absolutely fantastic!  Because I haven’t had much time these day to head to the market, I’ve had to focus my cooking efforts to include convenience without sacrificing quality.  So for this recipe, I used both fresh and frozen ingredients, allowing me to maximize flavor, health, and convenience.  A homemade sauce, fresh herbs, and high-quality store-bought products made this dish healthy and easy.  This recipe is great for a busy weeknight but still satisfying and impressive enough to share with friends on the weekend.   A new favorite!

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagna:

Oh lasagna, I'm so glad we're friends now.

Equipment:

  • Medium casserole dish, food processor, medium saute pan, large stainless steel pot with lid, colander, wooden spoon, spatula

Ingredients:

For the sauce

  • 3 fresh tomatoes, 1 chopped into big chunks, the other 2 diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 heaping cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ~10 big fresh basil leaves, cut into small ribbons
  • 1/4 evoo
  • Dry white wine (to taste)
  • Water (as needed)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

For the lasagna

  • ~10 fresh basil leaves, whole
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach
  • 6 oz roasted red peppers, in water/vinegar brine (not oil), cut into strips
  • 1 box (GF) lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 block soft tofu, sliced thin
  • Spike’s low-sodium vegit magic
  • (GF, Vegan) Breadcrumbs (mixed with 1-2 tsp of dried parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

For the sauce

  1. Add the cashews, tomato that was roughly chopped, tomato paste, 2-3 Tbsp of water and a big pinch of kosher salt to the food processor.  Blend, scrape down the sides, and keep blending until the mixture is silky smooth.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion.  Saute 2-3 mins until softened and then add the chopped garlic.  Saute another 2-3 mins, or until the garlic and onions are just starting to brown.  Add a big pinch of salt, pepper, the diced tomatoes and the cashew-tomato mixture from the blender.  Let cook 1-2 mins, or until simmering.
  3. Once the tomatoes are starting to get hot, add 2-3 splashes of a dry white wine (to taste) and/or a few Tbsp of water.  Without extra liquid the sauce is very thick and creamy.  I wanted mine a little thinner, so I ended up adding probably 3-4 Tbsp of wine and the same amount of water.  Add the basil and let simmer together 5-10 mins or until all of the flavors are deliciously incorporated.

For the lasagna

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease the casserole dish with evoo.  Lay down one layer of lasagna noodles.  Then, lay down a thin layer of roasted red pepper slices (just dot the bottom with 10-12 pieces. It doesn’t need to be a continuous layer).  Top the pepper slices with a thick layer of spinach, and then spoon on a generous layer of 1/3 of the sauce.
  3. Top the sauce with another layer of lasagna noodles.  Then, lay down a layer of the sliced tofu (should use the whole block).  Top the sliced tofu with a generous sprinkling of Spike’s seasoning, a sprinkle of salt, and a generous layer of the fresh basil leaves.  Top the tofu-herb layer with spinach and then another 1/3 of the tomato sauce.
  4. Add the last layer of noodles.  Top once again with a layer of roasted red pepper strips, a thick layer of spinach and the last 1/3 of the sauce.  Sprinkle on a generous topping of the seasoned (GF Vegan) breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 mins, or until the top is crunchy and the sides are bubbling.  Broil for 1-2 mins if needed to toast the breadcrumbs (I’ve found that some GF breadcrumbs don’t toast easily unless under direct heat).
  6. ENJOY!!

Vegan Tamale Pie

What’s Tamale Pie?  I’d never heard of it until I saw this video recipe on YouTube.  I instantly saw that recipe full of ground beef and white flour and thought “Yeah, I can make that GF vegan.”  It turns out that Tamale Pie is one of the most delicious Tex-Mex casseroles I’ve had in a looong time.  It’s a layered casserole of spicy veggies and homemade cornbread that is very freezer-friendly.  I’ve been keeping pretty darn busy over the past few months, so I’ve had to maximize my time by taking advantage of my stock of pre-chopped frozen veggies.  I could also see this casserole lending itself easily to using up leftover roasted veggies.  Of course, I’d prefer fresh veg, but hey, if using frozen veggies means I get a hot homemade meal in the middle of the work week, then I’m all about it!

Vegan Tamale Pie: 

Fresh cornbread and spicy veggies are a magical combination.

Equipment:

  • Heavy-bottomed/Cast-Iron skillet with lid, liquid & dry measuring cups, measuring spoons, large casserole dish, medium mixing bowl, wooden spoon, spatula, knife, cutting board, range

Ingredients: (makes a gigantic casserole for a week+ of eats – feel free to cut the portions down!)

  • 1 16 oz bag of assorted frozen veggies, thawed – I used a mix of organic carrots, broccoli, green beans, spring peas, lima beans and onions.  But when I make this again with fresh veggies, I’ll probably go for peppers, broccoli, and summer squash
  • 12 oz frozen corn
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 “can” of kidney or black beans
  • 1/2 cup TVP
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin (more to taste)
  • Dried or fresh cilantro to taste (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup GF AP flour
  • 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored soy milk
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp raw vegan sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sunflower or other neutral oil
  • Vegan cheddar slices (I used this time, but I really don’t think it’s necessary if you’re not into substitute cheeses. I’ll probably leave this out next time.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Combine the GF flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the oil, soy milk, and water to the bowl and mix with a fork.  Batter should be runny and still somewhat lumpy.  Don’t worry about getting it smooth. Set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, saute the fresh onions for 1-2 mins and then add the fresh garlic.  Saute another minute, or until the veg are starting to soften.  Add the beans and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir and heat 1-2 mins or until the beans are heated through.
  4. Add the thawed veggies, the jar of salsa, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 Tbsp cumin, the textured vegetable protein, and the veg stock.  Stir, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Then cover and reduce the heat.  Let the veggies simmer 5-10 mins or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and re-season as needed.
  5. Grease the bottom of your casserole dish.  Pour in half the cornbread batter and then evenly sprinkle a layer of corn kernels over the cornbread batter.  Carefully spoon the hot veggie mixture over the cornbread batter.  Because the batter is runny, you want to prevent it from just running up the sides of the dish.  If you’re using vegan cheese, grate or shred your cheddar into the other half of the cornbread mixture and then pour the cheesy cornbread batter over the hot veggies.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45-60 mins at 425 F, or until the top cornbread is a deep golden brown and the contents are bubbling hot.
  7. ENJOY!!

Curried Veggie Fried Rice

I’ve had a pretty busy couple of weeks, which for me usually means two things: 1) I don’t have time to cook and 2) as a result, I spend way too much money on quick eats (and believe me, gluten free, vegetarian fast food is pricey!).  Now that things have calmed down a bit and I’ve got some time off to recover, I’m stuck with the carry-over money shortage.  And so, this fried rice was really a “what do I have?” version of what it could be (produce-wise).  In desperate need of a fresh veggie infusion, I coughed up a couple bucks on a pound of green beans and some zucchinis.  And holy crap does this simple recipe deliver!  I love it when new recipes go as planned 🙂

Granted, this veggie fried rice will be soooo much better come Spring when the spring onions, baby corn, asparagus, and carrots come back.  But for now, adding curry paste to a more traditional fried rice, gives this recipe a nice spicy Thai kick that was exactly what I needed.  I foresee the beginnings of a long love-affair between myself and homemade fried rices!

Simple Curried Veggie Fried Rice:

Best GF, vegan fast food I've had all week!

Equipment:

  • Large ss pot with lid, slotted spoon, wok/round-bottomed pan, knife, cutting board, stove-top, couple of medium and small bowls

Ingredients: (as shown in photo; add/replace veggies by availability)

  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and sliced length-wise (because I had the time!)
  • 2 zucchinis, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, strained if needed and chopped into small cubes (could replace with a scrambled egg if desired)
  • Sunflower or peanut oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (optional)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 Tbsp red/green/yellow curry paste (whatever you’ve got/prefer)
  • 3 Tbsp liquid aminos (or other GF soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp siracha sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp raw sugar
  • Dried or fresh cilantro (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Fill your large stock pot with water, cover and bring to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt, and then blanch the green beans for 30-60 seconds.  Scoop them out with a slotted spoon.  Repeat for the zucchini, but blanch them a bit longer, maybe 1-2 mins.  Set the veggies aside.  Don’t discard the blanching water yet!
  2. In a small bowl, combine the curry paste, soy sauce, chopped garlic, salt, and siracha.  I typically dislike cilantro, but I like what it does to balance out soy sauce in some sauces, so I added a hit of dried cilantro here too.  If you’re a cilantro enthusiast, go for fresh and go wild.
  3. Heat the wok over med-high heat.  Drizzle a couple of Tbsp of oil and throw in the onions.  Stir-fry 1-2 mins, and then add the tofu cubes.  Stir-fry and additional 2-3 mins.
  4. Add the rice.  Stir-fry the rice with the onions and tofu cubes 2-4 mins, or until the tofu and rice are starting to brown.  Pour in the curry mixture and then stir-fry another minute.
  5. Pour in the veggie stock or two cups of the blanching water you used for the veg.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer 10-12 minutes, adding more water as needed and simmering until the rice is cooked.
  6. Add the veggies.  Top with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds or crumbled peanuts, and/or fresh cilantro if you’re feeling fancy.
  7. ENJOY!!

Ramen Noodles with Dignity!

I don’t know how ramen is treated in other countries, but here in America, ramen noodles are strictly associated with college students and last resort, cheap, quick-fix meals.

As a college student who more often than not needs both cheap and quick food, I love me some ramen.  But, as a gluten-intolerant college student, my ramen noodles are considerably more expenisve than the 19-cents a pack variety.  $2 doesn’t sound like a lot for a meal, but it is a tough sell for a pack of ramen.  The plus side?  My ramen noodles are whole grain, sodium free, and organic.

So, where’s the pride?  Why does ramen have to be so bad for you and the “he thinks we’re friends, but we’re really not” resident in the American kitchen?  It doesn’t.  And at $2/pack, I’m out to get my money’s worth by adding just an extra 10 minutes to the rip open and boil routine.  I’ve used only pantry staples to jazz up my ramen to keep it convenient, but you could make it really fancy with some fresh scallions and edamame.  Believe me, it’s worth the extra few minutes!

Ramen with Dignity:

Sorry about the bad photo, but it's late and I'm in a rush - the perfect time for some delicious ramen!!

Equipment:

  • Small saucepan, knife, cheese grater, cutting board, stove top

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 block firm silken tofu, diced
  • 1 pack buckwheat or brown rice ramen noodles, whatever flavor you prefer (I can’t give enough props to King Soba’s GF ramen!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Evoo
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Heat a small drizzle of evoo in the saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the onion with a big pinch of salt.  Stir and saute 1 minute and then add the tofu cubes.  Stir and saute 2-4 minutes or until the onions are soft and the tofu is warmed through.
  2. Add the grated carrot and peas.  Heat for 1-2 minutes and then stir in the seasoning packet from the ramen.  Make sure everyone’s coated, and then add 1 1/2 cups tap water.  Taste test your broth and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.  Add the ramen and boil 4-6 minutes, or as recommended by the package.
  4. ENJOY!!