CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!


Now food blogging over at http://www.southoaklandkitchen.tumblr.com.

Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole


I made this macaroni casserole a couple of weeks ago to satisfy an urge for comfort food.  It hit the spot!  Although I will not claim that it is exactly like it’s non-vegan equivalents, it is pretty darn good all the same.  I served it with my Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup for the ultimate cozy Sunday afternoon meal.  Recipe below!

Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cooked Macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat and it tasted fine in the casserole!)
  • ½ c raw cashews, processed into a powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 c non dairy milk
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1 tbsp oil/earth balance
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t tumeric
  • ½ t onion powder
  • ¼ t black pepper
  • 1/8 t cayenne
  • dash of soy sauce
  • **Garnish:  Paprika, bread crumbs, ground almonds
  • **Optional:  Peas and halved cherry tomates

Instructions:

  1. Grease a large casserole pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook your macaroni noodles according to the package instructions and drain.  Put in casserole pan and set aside
  3. In a food processor, blend the raw cashews with the carrots, potato, and garlic, and process until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the macaroni, the garnish, and the optional ingredients) to the food processor and process again until a smooth “cheese” sauce forms.
  5. Pour the “cheese” sauce directly onto the macaroni noodles and toss to coat the noodles evenly.  If you want to add optional ingredients to your casserole, now is the time to do it!  I added a bag of frozen peas and some spare, halved cherry tomatoes for color and nutrition.
  6. Top with paprika (for a little kick), bread crumbs, and crushed almonds (for some crunch).
  7. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve!  This recipe makes enough to serve about 4-6 people, depending on how hungry everyone is.

-Dominique

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup


We’ve had a couple of cold weekends in Pittsburgh lately, so I decided to throw together some tomato soup out of two cans of plain tomato sauce I had in my pantry (which is actually just my dining room floor…college kitchens are tiny!).  In my pre-vegan days, I would have let heavy whipping cream give this tomato soup it’s comforting creaminess, but I veganized it with some full fat coconut milk and added thickness by blending it with carrots and potatoes.  I wouldn’t skip the the Herbs de Provence, they really elevate the flavor, adding an air of French sophistication (maybe?)

Anyways, the result is a thick and creamy tomato soup that even my tomato soup hating boyfriend and roommate really enjoyed.  Recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 t Herbs de Provence
  • 1 t basil pesto
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 23 oz (for me, one small can and one regular-sized can) of plain tomato sauce
  • 4 T full fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste (wait until the end to add)

Instructions:

  1. Coat a medium saucepan with olive oil and sauté garlic on medium heat until fragrant.  Add the onion and carrots and turn heat to low.
  2. Add the spices and combine, and cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and tomato sauce.  Turn the heat to medium, and wait until the soup starts gently bubbling and potatoes are tender (for me this was conveniently the same time).  Take the soup off of the heat and allow it to cool down a bit.
  4. Put the soup in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Pour it back into the saucepan and heat on low.
  5. Slowly add the coconut milk while stirring the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

Enjoy!

-Dominique

3 Commercial Break Snacks with Avocado


A small Italian market near my house always sells avocados (not really Italian, right?) for a dollar each, so I can never resist buying at least two a week.  Avocados are really filling and are loaded with fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, and they add a delicious creaminess to almost anything (soups, smoothies, spreads, pasta, and more!).  Plus, they just look cute, kind of like the Weebles of fruit.

All three of these yummy snacks can be thrown together in under 5 minutes.  I actually made the guacamole and soft serve during commercial breaks!  Can’t beat those quick, healthy, and delicious  snacks when you’re a college student.

Easy Guacamole

1. Cut one avocado in half, remove pit, and scoop flesh into a bowl.

2. Add spices and a few drops of lime juice. I used onion and garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand! My mom uses Old Bay seasoning, which is always delicious in guac.

3. Add a couple of spoonfuls of salsa (yes, from a jar)! If you want to make homemade salsa and add that, that’s awesome, but I didn’t have time. Jar salsa works great in a pinch to add more flavor and texture to your guacamole.

Avocado-Banana Soft Serve

Inspired by Averie’s Vanilla Avocado Banana Ice Cream

Throw a chopped banana, the flesh of an avocado, half a can of full fat coconut milk (this is what made the soft serve, in my opinion), a few drops of vanilla, some almond milk, a pinch of salt, and sugar (to taste) into your food processor or blender.  Blend, transfer into a tupperware container, and freeze overnight.

You Don’t Need a Recipe to Make Toast…

…but this toast made an amazing study snack.  I toasted some whole grain bread, and then layered three tasty, savory spreads.  First, homemade paprika hummus, then half of a mashed avocado, and finally some hot pepper jelly (from local company The Berry Patch, find them at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip if you’re in the area!).  So delicious and filling.

Those are just a few of the easy avocado snacks I’ve been eating in the last couple of weeks…what’s your favorite way to use avocado?

-Dominique

Birthday Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World


Thursday was my friend Ian’s birthday, so I made some vegan cupcakes to celebrate!  Baking often intimidates me (lots of exactness and food chemistry) so I googled “basic vegan cupcakes” and came upon a recipe for Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero’s vegan baking book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You can find the recipe online here,

Other than substituting almond milk for soy milk, I followed the recipe exactly, and they cupcakes were perfect!  Light, “butter”-y, and fluffy.  Everyone loved them!

I iced them with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting (also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, recipe is online here).  Again, I substituted almond milk for soy milk.  I also added cocoa powder and cinnamon to give the frosting a little color and pizzazz.  I was really impressed with the frosting!  It was dense but easily spreadable, and so creamy!

Overall, these cupcakes were a hit, and I would definitely make them again!  Two things I would note about the recipe is that the batter yields 12 cupcakes…maybe 13 if I had been more conservative with my batter sampling😉.  The frosting recipe made more than enough too give each cupcake a very thick layer of frosting (not a problem for me because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want extra frosting in the house?).

-Dominique

Do any of you own Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World?  What are your opinions on vegan baking?

Quick and Easy Indian-Inspired Chili (Vegan) with Coconut Basmati Rice


Last night I had a bunch of produce that had just about outlived it’s fridge time so I decided to cook up an Indian-inspired chili to use it all up! The only part of this recipe that is time consuming is the veggie chopping, other than that you just throw everything in the pot and let it simmer away. It ended up being pretty spicy because I was a little heavy-handed with the crushed red pepper flakes (oops! I adjusted the recipe afterwards as to not kill anyone), so I paired it with some mellow coconut basmati rice.  It was really yummy and really filling!

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Spicy Indian-Inspired Chili

Yield: About 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  each of garam masala, cumin, & turmeric
  • ½ t each of cayenne, nutmeg, ginger, & cardamom
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (I did green, yellow, orange, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 3 small or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ jar of marinara sauce
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • olive oil

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat.  Add the chopped onions along with all the spices and sauté until your kitchen smells like magic!
  2. Add in a little more olive oil (to cover the bottom of the pot) and toss in the chopped zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, and beans.  Toss it around with a spoon so everything is combined.
  3. Add the marinara sauce and vegetable broth and mix.  Heat until the entire mixture boils, then turn down the heat to low.
  4. Simmer the chili on the stove for about twenty minutes (or more if you want, I just used this time to make the rice) to let the flavors meld.  FLAVA FLAVVVVE!!!
  5. EAT!

Notes:

  • If you like your chili to be spicier, add crushed red pepper flakes along with the other spices.  BE CAREFUL THOUGH! Once you put them in, you can’t take them out. (If you don’t heed this warning and your chili ends up being too spicy, salt it a bit and it will tone the spice down).
  • You can essentially use any vegetables or beans that you want in this recipe, or leave them out entirely.  I just used what I had on hand!  This is why chili is awesome.

Coconut Basmati Rice

Yield:  About 3 cups (6 servings, 1/2 cup each)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c basamati rice, rinsed and drained until it doesn’t make the water cloudy (this took about 4 rinses for me)
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 ½ c water
  • ½ t turmeric
  • pinch of salt
Instructions:
  1. Put everything in a rice cooker and mix so the turmeric and and coconut milk are well combined with the water.
  2. Turn the rice cooker on and let it do it’s rice cooker magic!
  3. EAT!
Notes:
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker (I actually don’t, but my lovely roommate Abbey let’s me use hers [and all her spices (THANKS ABBEY!)]) then you can easily do this on the stove following these basic cooking instructions.  Just use the same ingredients/water and coconut milk ratio above.
  • You can easily do this with another kind of white rice, I just had Basmati in my pantry.

Happy cooking🙂

-Dominique

Spicy Homemade Falafel Recipe


Today, after I took my first final, I needed to relax and forget about studying for a bit!  For me, relaxing usually means whipping something up in the kitchen.

I wanted to make something that I could enjoy now, but also freeze and eat throughout the next week.  I was craving Middle Eastern food to go with some hummus I needed to use up, so I figured I’d try my hand at making falafel.  This isn’t the most traditional of falafel recipes; I usually find falafel to be pretty bland so I added extra cayenne and red pepper flakes to give it a little kick!  If you don’t like spicy food, omit the red pepper flakes and cut down on the cayenne to mellow it out a bit.  Also, I had a bell pepper that I needed to use, so I threw that in the food processor too!  Yum.

Spicy Falafel

Yield:  Between 18-24 falafel balls, depending on how big you make them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) of rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 1/3 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used an orange pepper, but whatever you have on hand is fine!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 7 T flour (or more, if it isn’t forming a doughy enough texture)
  • 2 T tahini
  • 2 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t baking powder
  • hot pepper flakes, to taste
  • oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor.  Pulse until it turns into a wet “dough”.  Some chunkiness is fine, depending on how you like your falafel.
  3. Put vegetable oil in a skillet and heat at medium.  While oil is heating, grease a large oven pan and flour an area next to the stove (you’re setting up your little falafel factory’s production line!)
  4. With some flour on your hands, start scooping falafel out of the (unplugged!) food processor and shaping it into patties or balls.  Set on floured surface.
  5. Drop falafel balls into the oil, cooking for about 2 minutes on each side to make the outside nice and crispy.  Don’t worry about cooking the falafel through, you’ll do that later!
  6. Transfer cooked falafel to lightly greased pan, and put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove falafel from pan, and use a towel to absorb excess grease.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If your falafel isn’t sticking together in the oil, add more flour to the “dough”.
  • If you have extra time, you can refrigerate falafel balls before frying them.  This may also help them stay together.  (I was impatient and took my chances, but it worked fine anyways)
  • If you don’t like to fry foods (it can be scary in a multitude of ways, hot oil freaks me out sometimes), feel free to bake these falafel balls or patties in your oven!  10 minutes on each side should do it.

Enjoy!

-Dominique