Rainbow Baked Potatoes

rainbow-baked-potatoes-vegan-high-carb-lifestyle-st-patricks-day-potato-easy-vegan-cheap

Rainbow baked potatoes are a comforting, colorful dish that’s easy to fall in love with. Kale, beets, and carrots bring an extra dose of veggies and vibrance to this dinnertime classic.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some beloved folks. I usually do  bit of restaurant recon before dining out, but it was an impromptu meal. As it turned out, the only thing on the menu that I could have was a plain baked potato. I thought I didn’t like baked potatoes, so I figured I could just eat when I got home. After all, I was there for the people, not the food.

My mother, sitting next to me, hissed that I was being rude and insisted that I order the potato.

Don’t you just hate it when your mother is right? It was the most amazing baked potato ever.  The outside was an oily dark crust, flecked with coarse salt. The inside was filled with pillows of butter-soft carbs, all but melting beneath my fork. Mercy.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

 

I guess I like baked potatoes after all. Who knew? (ahem, they whole world, Annie. The whole world knew of the classic awesomeness of the baked potato)

After that meal, I tried to remember why I thought I didn’t like the tuber in its foil-wrapped form. The only answer I could come up with it that I have an occasional aversion to foods with uniform textures and flavors. And the baked potato can sometimes fall into this category. But not this dish.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

It’s bright and colorful. The outsides are delicately crisp; the insides fluffy and steamy. The moods change from bite to bite — sweet carrots, bright grassy kale, deep earthy beets.

One of the reasons that baked potatoes are so popular is their reliable thriftiness, and this pied meal is no different. You’re just having your veggies in the potato instead of on the side. I mean, there’s nothing stopping you from having them on the side as well, you veggie-freaks, you.  ❤️

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

 

Rainbow Baked Potatoes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup unflavored almond milk
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium beet, or two smaller beets (about 6 oz)
  • 3 cups packed kale
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 3-4 springs of thyme
  • coconut oil, optional

Instructions

  1. Wrap each potato in a wet paper towel. Put them all in the microwave and nuke on high for 10 minutes. You can tell they're done when a fork pierces effortlessly through the flesh. Some older microwaves will take more than 10 minutes, some newer models will take less than ten minutes.
  2. Throw the potatoes in the freezer for about 5 to cool them down quickly, so you can handle them without burning yourself.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. Cut each potato in half and scoop out the soft middles, and lay the potato skins out on a large baking dish. Optional-- oil the baking dish with melted coconut oil
  5. Blend the middles with the milk and garlic till smooth, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the thyme
  6. Mentally divide the potato puree into 4 parts.
  7. Scoop one of the parts into a piping bag and randomly pipe into the skins.
  8. Take the second part and throw it in a blender with the carrots.
  9. Repeat step 7 with the carrot-potato mix
  10. Take the third part of the puree and throw it in a blender with the beets.
  11. Repeat step 7 with the beet-potato mix
  12. Take the last part of the potato puree and toss it in a blender with the kale.
  13. Repeat step 7 with the kale-potato mix.
  14. Sprinkle a little more thyme over top, and brush tops of potatoes with melted coconut oil if desired.
  15. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and crispy.
  16. Serve with love.

Notes

*I got my roasted garlic recipe from Real Simple. It doesn't taste quite as mild as long roasted garlic, but it's still good and only takes about ten minutes. What you do is, chop off the top of the head so that all the cloves are somewhat exposed. Put in in a bowl with olive oil and two tbsp water. Cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave for 7 minutes on 50% power. Leave the plastic wrap on for about three more minutes and then you're good to go. you can make batches of this and keep the cloves in the fridge in the oil they were cooked in, so they are ready for use whenever.

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Savory Oats with Turmeric Roasted Carrots, Kale, and Cranberry Ketchup

savory-oats-kale-cranberry-ketchup-turmeric-carrots-vegan-vegan

Savory oats are a satisfying and pocket-friendly dinner. These get an extra dose of veggies from kale and turmeric-roasted carrots.

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Jason and I spent the holidays at my mother’s home in Delaware. The cat protested during the long drive over, but once we got there, she was delighted at all the new hiding spaces and places to jump on. It was so cute. Nana’s place is always best, I guess. Jason likes it too because my mom always stashes all kinds of muffins and cookies for him.

A few days after Christmas, we drove out to Cape May on the Jersey shore. My aunt lives there and manages a farm. It had been at least a year since I’d last seen her, and I’d never gotten to see the farm.

There’s a little converted barn on the property that serves as a rotating produce shop, lunch counter, and event space. And of course everything that’s served there comes right out of the earth only a few yards away. On New Year’s, they dropped a huge sparkly egg from the rafters in place of a ball.

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Although the lunch counter was closed when we got there, the chalk-dusty remains of their latest menu were still on display. One item in particular drew my eye ….butternut squash steel cut oats and toasted walnuts.  Does that sound amazing or what? Even though I didn’t get to sample a bowl of the stuff, it became the inspiration for this post. The squash became carrots, and I added some handfuls of kale for some green lovin’. And some cranberry ketchup because I love the color. And taste, obviously.

My favorite part of this dish was the turmeric-roasted carrots. Guys, they were so good. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing they were. Toasty and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. Warm. I could eat turmeric-roasted carrots for every meal for the rest of the season. Only, I promised myself that I was going to do other things with veggies besides roast them. So maybe every other meal then?

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

I sprinkled sesame seeds over the carrots, which made them nutty and wonderful. If you don’t have sesame seeds in the house, you can totally leave them off because this dish is supposed to be a budget meal. To that end, I used quick oats because that is what I had on hand. You can totally used rolled oats or steel cut, if it pleases you.

Even though the name of this dish is super wordy, it’s quite simple. The ketchup requires very little effort, and roasted veggies are always easy. The cranberry ketchup makes a huge batch, way more than you’ll need for this dish. As is the nature of ketchup, it goes on many things. Just scoop it into jar and keep it in the fridge for whatever.

Hey, one last thing. As you can see, I gave the blogaroo little makeover. Do you like it? Hate it? Any constructive feedback or improvements? Lemme know what you think. Thanks! <3

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Savory Oats with Turmeric Roasted Carrots, Kale, and Cranberry Ketchup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2-3

The carrots and ketchup have similar cooking times and can be made simultaneously.

Ingredients

    cranberry ketchup
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cranberries (one package)
  • 8 dates
  • 2 cups chopped purple onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • salt to taste
  • carrots
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 3-4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp microplane grated garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • other
  • 4 cups packed kale
  • 1 cup of quick oats, plus water to cook them in
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

    for the ketchup
  1. Combine the water, the cranberries, the dates, the onions, and the bay leaf in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Uncover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  3. Add the mustard and cider vinegar and stir constantly for 5-7 min, until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and puree till smooth
  5. for the carrots
  6. Preheat oven to 450
  7. Cut the carrots onto 4-6 pieces lengthwise. Set aside.
  8. Combine the coconut oil tsp, garlic, pepper, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice.
  9. Toss carrots in tumeric mix, coat well.
  10. Lay carrots in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  11. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.
  12. Roast for 18 minutes.
  13. for the rest
  14. Wilt kale in microwave for 3-4 minutes
  15. Bring 1 1/3 cup water to a boil.Add quick oats and stir till water is absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste
  16. Divide kale, carrots, and oats among serving bowls. Drizzle cranberry ketchup over top.
  17. Serve with love.
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cranberry ketchup recipe slightly adapted from taste of home

Patterned Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Roll (gluten free & vegan)

gluten-free-vegan-cakel-roll-avett-cake-four-thieves-gone-cake-chocolte-peanut-butter-cake-roll
how-to-turn-an-album-into-a-cake-roll-pattern-avett-cake-roll-four-thieves-gone-cake-gluten-free-cake-roll-chocolate-peant-butter-cake-roll-patterned-cake-roll-patterned-cake-roll

aka Four Thieves Gone cake

Patterned cake rolls are fun any time of year, but are especially welcome at the holiday table. This one is filled with creamy chocolate peanut butter frosting.  Gluten-free and vegan.  

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

A few weeks ago, I found myself at a rare but happy juncture: all my short-term projects were complete, and I didn’t have to start any new ones just yet. I knew exactly what I wanted to unexpected bounty of time: I wanted to tackle the patterned cake roll. A task that requires focus and precision, careful planning, strict attention.  All qualities that I’m no good at.

My faults are many, but there are some that stand out among others. I’m spacey. My mind wanders and rambles. I get overwhelmed and lost in details of planning. I’d like to say that I’m constantly working to liberate myself of these shortcomings, but that would be a lie. Life is messy for everyone, and sometimes I’m so busy that I forget that I want to be better.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

The classic method of self-improvement is practice. If you’re a slow runner, you do sprints. If you’re a clumsy dancer, you stretch and repeat steps until you find grace. When you’re unfocused, you practice precision.  And since I love to bake, I chose to practice precision through cake.

To make a pattered roll cake, you must first select your pattern. You can choose anything you like, hearts or Christmas trees or cats. I picked the album cover of one of my most beloved records of all time, Four Thieves Gone, by The Avett Brothers. They’ve been my favorite band for over a decade, and have affected my life in an ineffable way. But I’m getting distracted. Let’s talk about cake some more.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

Once you’ve picked out & prepared the pattern (details in and below the recipe), it’s time to start piping. You whip up a stiff batter and scoop it into plastic zip-seal bag. Cut an infinitesimal corner off the bag. Don’t use a frosting tip — even that will be too large. Make a few practice doodles and then start piping over the prepared pattern. Take your time, catching as many lines and curves as you can. Take breaks when you get tired, don’t rush. You can even make the pattern one day and then bake the following day. Once the pattern is complete, freeze it to prevent warping. Then whip up the cake batter and carefully pour it over the frozen pattern.

Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can frost it. Even though I’m not a big frosting girl, I feel in love with the gooey middle of this cake. It’s creamy and dark, with none of the grittiness that is present in buttercream. Gently roll up the cake.

To serve, pour a big glass of milk and cut the cake with a serrated knife. Share it with someone who loves you, flaws and all.

gluten free vegan cake roll patterned cake roll chocolate peanut butter cake roll avett cake how to patterned cake roll four thieves gone cake

Pattern printout is below the recipe. You will need to print out three pattern pieces. I’ve also included patterns from other albums, as well as instructions on how to make your own pattern

Patterned Chocolate Peanut Butter Roll Cake

I always use Bob's cup-to-cup GF flour and I love it. (not sponsored) If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I'm a stickler for sifting gluten-free flour. Sift while you measure, not before or after. It always yields better results, so don't skip it. For this recipe, I recommend sifting three times. This will avoid a gummy cake texture.

This recipe calls for bananas. Traditionally, bananas used in baking are the over-ripe, super soft kind. For this recipe, you want to do the opposite. Use bananas that are firm and still have a light green tinge.

You will need a10.5 x 15" jelly roll pan

Ingredients

    batter for the pattern outline (dark)
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba*
  • 1/4 cup of vegan butter, like Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • batter to fill in the pattern outline (white)
  • Copy outline batter, subbing 1/2 cup flour for the 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • for the cake
  • 2 flax eggs**
  • 1 cup of mashed banana, from firm bananas (about 2 of them)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or spiced rum
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups very well sifted gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • creamy frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milkfat***
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

    for the pattern
  1. Mix the batters for the pattern outline and pattern filling. Scoop both into little zip-seal bags and cut an infinitesimal bit of the corner off the bag. It's essential that your cut is super tiny so that you can get as much detail out of the pattern as possible..
  2. Place a strip of parchment over your pattern printout and loosely affix with tape.It also helps to place it on a piece of cardboard for stability (like from a cut-up cereal box). Carefully pipe out the pattern outline with the darker batter. Place the parchment strip in the freezer until the batter hardens.
  3. Repeat with the other two pattern strips.
  4. Once the outline is hardened, pipe the fill-in pattern batter over the top, and then allow to freeze again. Leave in freezer until baking time
  5. for the cake
  6. Preheat oven to 350
  7. Combine the flax eggs, the bananas, the vanilla, the cinnamon, the salt, and the sugar, until well blended and smooth.
  8. Add the almond milk and blend again.
  9. Add the flour and the baking powder and blend again till smooth. Do not over blend
  10. Remove the pattern pieces from the freezer and line them, batter side up, in the jelly roll pan. Add plain parchment to line the rest of the pan. Tip: rubbing the pan with coconut oil will help the pieces stick and stay flat
  11. Carefully pour the batter into the pan
  12. Bake at 350 for 20-22 min.
  13. Remove from oven and immediately flip out onto a flat surface. (pattern side is facing up) Peel away the parchment. Once it cools some, move it to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
  14. For the icing
  15. Combine coconut milkfat, peanut butter, and salt till smooth. Add the almond milk.
  16. Add the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder in a little bit at a time. Combine till smooth.
  17. to assemble
  18. Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper down on your work surface. Carefully turn the cake back over (so that the pattern is face down) onto the paper.
  19. Spread the icing all over. Tip- if the edges are super crusty, slice them off for easier rolling.
  20. Using the paper to help you lift the corners, gently begin to roll the cake up. Make sure that you start rolling at the blank, non-patterned end.
  21. Once it's rolled up, you can either serve it right away or wait for it to chill. If you wait for it to chill, the roll will hold better.
  22. Serve with love.

Notes

* aquafaba is the leftover liquid from canned chickpeas. If you are not a vegan, you may use an egg white, should it be more convenient.

**One flax egg = 3 tbsp water+1tbsp flax meal

***coconut milkfat is the creamy solid from a can of coconut milk. Chill the can for a few hours, allowing the fat to separate from the water. Scoop the fat cleanly off the top.

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sources

pattern printouts 

I made the pattern printout in Photoshop. If you don’t want to use the Four Thieves Gone pattern or any of the other albums listed above, you can create your own pattern. Here’s how:

  1. Create a new file in Photoshop. (File – New) It should be 1050 pixels wide and 325 high. This will make it the width to fit in a jelly roll pan
  2. Pick an image that you want to turn into a pattern and open it in Photoshop. If can be square or rectangular. Crop or scale it down to 325 pixels high. You can also desturate it if you wish. clover3
  3. Click control+A followed by control+C to select the photo
  4. Paste your photo into your blank canvas as many times as it will fit. clover4
  5. Then flip the image so that it’s backwards. This ensures that it will be forwards on the cake (image…image rotation…horizontal flip) clover5

And then print it out and you’re ready to go! 🙂

 

Vegan Gluten Free Party Snacks: A Chive and Tahini Mini Twist

Gluten free + vegan mini braids make a fun and tasty finger food for any holiday party.

gluten free vegan twists appetizer twists chive twists braids

Tis the season for holiday gatherings.  The time of year that brings strangers and friends into a glowing living room, rife with Crock-pots and appetizers.  There are different kinds of party people – the social butterflies, dosing each guest with stories and laughter. There are the awkward significant others, gripping their wine glasses till they feel lubed up enough to make pleasant conversation. There are the pet-and-child people, those tho prefer to spend their time on the floor, playing with the kiddos in lieu of discussing dreary affairs with real grown-ups. The list of party-types goes on.    What type are you?

vegan gluten free party snacks

No matter what kind of party-goer you are, I feel like there is one unifying element among them all. THE FOOD. Everyone loves the food. My favorite used to be puff-pastry goodies. Spinach pockets and nutty chocolate tarts and cheesy pepper straws.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a bundle of gorgeous Nera chives in the produce section at the Kroger. I threw then in my basket, along with a package of pizza dough mix that was on sale.  I had no real plans for either one, but by the time I got home, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them. Straws.

 

chive

 

Even though these little guys look fancy, they are super easy to make. Chop up the chives blend them up with some tahini and lemon juice. The tahini really gives them a cheesy quality, just like with traditional party straws. Take the chive-tahini paste and spread it onto some dough circles.  Then braid up the pastry bits (method shown below) and bake them up. Serve them warm or room temp, with some wine and friends and love.

vegan gluten free party snacks

 

Chive and Tahini Mini Twists

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 24

Serving Size: 1 twist

Ingredients

  • 1 ball of vegan GF pizza dough, approx 2 lbs (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped Nira chives
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
  • olive oil
  • gf flour for dusting
  • sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the chives, lemon juice, tahini, and salt in a blender. You should end up with a thick, green paste that is slightly coarse. Taste and add more salt as needed. Set aside.
  2. Roll out the prepared pizza dough to 1/6 inch. Dust with flour
  3. Using a 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or large can) cut out circles of dough. Re-roll and cut as needed. You should end up with about 24 rounds.
  4. Preheat oven to 425
  5. Spread a layer of chive-tahini paste over each circle.
  6. Roll up each circle tight, like a burrito. Cut each roll in half lengthwise. Twist each half back together, around each other. See photo for better description
  7. Place twists on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush tops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden and toasty.
  9. Serve with love.
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Pizza Dough

  • 1 package of Bob’s GF Pizza dough (not sponsored content)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal plus 6 tbsp water)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • yeast packet that comes with the dough
  • 2 tsp baking soda

Prepare dough according to package directions, substituting the flax eggs for the regular eggs, and the coconut oil for the olive oil. Add the baking soda and allow to rise per package directions.

gluten-free-vegan-party-snacks

 

Vegan Artichoke Dip (Artichoke Baba Ganoush)

This super easy vegan party dip only has five ingredients.

easy artichoke baba ganoush vegan eggplant dip

 

This is my final entry in the Friendly Beasts series. Today’s animal is the “dove from rafters high.” This one gave me a little trouble. I originally  envisioned the dove to be a white cranberry and apple fruit leather, perhaps folded up into a origami bird. Turns out that white cranberries are rather hard to find, even when your uncle is the produce manager at a local grocery chain. So I moved onto the idea of a bird nest. Fried noodles are visually closest to a dove’s nest, but I didn’t want to fry something when there are so many Christmas cookies hanging around.  I settled on an easy baba ganoush, nestled with olives, like eggs, with artichoke hearts added for extra festivity.

 

easy artichoke baba ganoush vegan artichoke dip

“I” said the dove from rafters high/ “I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry/ We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I/ I” said the dove from rafters high

Baba ganoush, made with roasted eggplants, is one of my favorite dips. I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. It requires less work than almost any other dip. Salsa needs endless chopping, and good guacamole requires a certain degree of precision. But Baba is easy. You salt and roast an eggplant and then chuck it in a blender with a few select ingredients. What you get is a earthy, creamy dip, hearty and slightly smoky.

This recipe makes a huge dish, wonderful for a holiday party. Serve it up hot or room temp, with lots of crunchy chips and veggies.

vegan artichoke dip artichoke baba ganoush

Vegan Artichoke Dip (Artichoke Baba Ganoush)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • A large eggplant, approx 2 lbs
  • 12oz bag of frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup Jubilee olives, with oil*
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Get the artichoke hearts out to thaw.
  2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into quarters. Generously salt the quarters and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes. This will draw out any bitterness.
  3. Preheat oven to 450.
  4. Gently blot the eggplants with a paper towel.
  5. Lightly tent the eggplants with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Score the eggplant flesh, replace the foil tent, and bake for 20 more minutes.
  6. The eggplant flesh should peel right off the skin with no effort. Discard the skin.
  7. Puree the eggplant, the defrosted artichoke hearts, and the garlic cloves.
  8. Add half of the olives with the oil to the puree and blend again.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Place in a serving bowl and top with the remaining olives and oil. Serve with chips or veggies.

Notes

* I love olives Jubilee with their decadent olive oil. You may substitute your favorite olive in oil from the deli counter. Don't use canned or jarred olives.

For a lighter version of the dip, omit the olives. Instead, defrost a 10 oz package of chopped spinach. Puree along with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle in some sriracha.

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Other posts in the Friendly Beasts series:

vegan-artichoke-dip

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parsnip Croutons

Creamy vegan cauliflower soup with crispy, mustard-roasted parsnip croutons.

creamy cauliflower soup vegan parsnip croutons

Welcome to the part 3 of the Friendly Beasts blog series. Today’s friendly beast is the “sheep with curly horn.” To reflect our woolly pal, I chose a rough, pebble-headed cauliflower.

Creamy soups are conflictive to my palate. I enjoy their richness, their comforting nature, and their easy preparation. But I also favor foods with many textures, and creamy soups fail here. Don’t get me wrong — I will eat any creamy soup you got, any day.  But I guess I feel far more satisfied after a bowl full of multiple characteristics. To me, a straight up creamy soup is like a dip without a chip. Would you eat guacamole with a spoon?  What is velvetty hummus without a complimenting crunchy carrot?

creamy vegan cauliflower soup

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn/ “I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm/ He wore my coat on Christmas morn/ I,” said the sheep with curly horn

So I had to have a crispy element to the soup. I found out last year that I really like parsnips.  Turns out, their lightly sweet and nutty notes make the perfect crouton. I dressed them up in my favorite stone-ground mustard, Inglehoffer (not sponsored), for an extra kick. And the mustard seeds added another layer of texture.

Quick aside – I promised myself that this winter, I would be more adventuous in my vegetable preparation. Meaning, I wasn’t going to roast everything like I usually do. And these croutons were the first thing I’ve roasted since the weather turned cold. Small changes, people.

The parsip croutons were tasty, but I wanted another element of texture and color.  A sprinkling of grassy microgreens took care of that. I also tried to break up some French endive to use as “spoons” for eating the soup, but that didn’t turn out so well. But I added the endive to a salad later on in the week, for, um…extra texture. And it was good.

creamy cauliflower soup

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parsnip Croutons

Yield: 4 starter, 2 main

Croutons and soup have relatively similar cooking times, you can make them simultaneously

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped (about 20 oz)
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 3/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tbsp finely diced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • handful of kale microgreens
  • croutons
  • 1 pound parsnips, cubed
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp stone ground mustard*
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Place the white onion, the bay leaf, the sage, the garlic, and the celery seed in a medium saucepan. Add just enough broth to cover.
  2. Placed pot, with lid, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until onions are very soft.
  3. Add the cauliflower and more broth to cover. Replace lid and continue to cook until cauliflower softens, about 12-18 min. Add the remaining broth, if any.
  4. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and the puree. Set aside.
  5. for the croutons
  6. Preheat oven to 450
  7. Combine the coconut oil, lemon juice,mustard, brown sugar, black pepper, and salt.
  8. Toss the parsnips in the mustard mix.
  9. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 8-10 min.
  10. To serve, divide soup among bowls and add croutons. Add a handful of microgreens.

Notes

* I love love love Inglehoffer stone ground mustard. Yes, it's vegan. And addicting. And I don't know what the croutons would taste like with other mustards. Inglehoffer isn't paying me to say any of this. I just really like it.

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Other posts in the Friendly Beasts series:

creamy-vegan-cauliflower-soup-with-crispy-mustard-roasted-croutons

Braised and Pickled Watermelon Raishes

Watermelon radishes are milder and nuttier than he more common cherry belle radish. Once braised and pickled, they made a wonderful salad topper or sandwich layer.

braised and pickled watermelon radishes

Our town farmer’s market is shrinking, winding down for the season.  I’m doing a lot of my produce shopping at the supermarket now, but I can still get all my root veggies locally.  I recently picked up a bounty of watermelon radishes from the Sunbeam Farm stand. I’d never had them before and was so pleased with their mild and slightly nutty taste.  I discovered that I liked them best raw, with a few drops of lemon juice and a flicker of salt.

watermelon radishes

But this is a blog, and I can’t just be like, “hey, y’all, eat these with lemon and salt and that’s my recipe for the day okay byeeee.” So I’m presenting you with this puckery pickled version instead. These watermelon radishes landed in my market bag at just the right time. This is the second post in my Friendly Beasts series. Today we honor the “cow, all white and red.” I originally planned to use regular cherry belle radishes for this, but once I saw the watermelon variety, I was gone. So even though they’re not technically white and red, they’re white and red-ish. White and red rad-ish? Haha redish radish get it? Okay I’ll stop now.

a-2

“I,” said the cow, all white and red/ “I gave Him my manger for his bed/ I gave Him my hay to pillow His head/ I” said the cow, all white and red

Once pickled, these radishes became tangy and pungent. They start out a pale pink immediately after pickling and then darken to a deep red.  They’re briny and garlicky, with gentle notes of rosemary. They’ll pepper up even the plainest sandwich. Um, a quick word of warning. They are a little stinky, but I promise the stink does not linger. I chose to braise and pickle as opposed to just pickle because you get the pickles right away, instead of waiting for the brine to set. I also liked the minor hints of olive oil.

These last about 3 weeks (or longer if you have the proper sanitizing equipment), but taste best within the first two weeks.

braised pickled watermelon radishes

Braised and Pickled Watermelon Raishes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs watermelon radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Get out a wide skillet and let it get warm over medium heat. Add the olive oil in a light layer and let it begin to shimmer.
  2. Add the rosemary and garlic to the pan. Give them a turn or two.
  3. Add the radishes and let them get a little toasty on the bottom. Stir every once in a while, so that all the radishes get a turn at the bottom of the pan. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Add the pepper and the liquids. Lower heat just a tad and cover.
  5. Continue to cook until radishes are soft but not mushy, about 15-20 min.
  6. Stir in the salt and remove from heat.
  7. Enjoy right away, or serve as a piquant side on your next family meal. Taste wonderful on sandwiches, salads, or eaten, all drippy over the sink.
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lightly adapted from here

 

Chocolate Stuffed Gingerbread

Soft gingerbread cookies stuffed with a dark chocolate fudge. Gluten free and vegan.

soft gingerbread chocolate stuffed gingerbread vegan gingerbread gluten free gingerbread

Isn’t holiday baking just wonderful?!  The house brimming with sweet and spicy scents. Poring over Christmas lists to decide which cookie to send to which friend. Licking the fringes of dough from the mixing spoon.

These cookies were inspired by the carol of The Friendly Beasts. It’s the start of a four-part mini series, each recipe  dedicated to a different beast in the song. There is a Tomie DePaula book based on the carol. My mother says I recited the book for my family when I was little, but I have no such memory. The tune has its roots in 13th century France, and has many versions — English and French and Latin and German. My favorite is the one by Sufjan Stevens.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread vegan gingerbread vegan ginergread

“I”, said the donkey, shaggy and brown/ “I carried His mother uphill and down/ I carried her safely to Bethlehem town/ I” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

I’ve called these cookies “shaggybrowns” after that donkey. They are a bit raggedy and coarse in appearance, but are hearty and spicy and comforting. And who doesn’t enjoy chocolate-stuffed cookies? My little 8 year old niece loved them, and my she’ll-kill-me-if-I-tell-you-how-old-she-is mother loved them, and everyone in between did too.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread gluten free gingerbread vegan gingerbread

The cookie base is a little less sweet and spicy than traditional gingerbread. I didn’t want the sweetness or pungency of the cookie overwhelm the wonderful fudge filling. This version has no ground cloves or allspice, and less molasses than usual. I also swapped out the butter for unsweetened applesauce. The dough will be rather sticky but still manageable. Just make sure you chill the dough and dust it before rolling.

They bake up all puffy and chewy. They stay chubby as they cool, which makes it easy to slice and stuff them. As I mentioned in some earlier posts, I’ve recently taken to a lazy-but-efficient way of melting chocolate. Simply fill a thick freezer bag with chocolate +maple syrup and immerse in hot water till melted. Snip off the a corner of the bag to pipe the chocolate onto the cookies. I wouldn’t try this method with chocolate that I wanted to look shiny and tempered, but it works very well here.

I added these to the list of must-makes at holiday time, and I hope you will too.

soft gingerbread cookies chocolate stuffed gingerbread cookies gluten free gingerbread vegan gingerbread

 

On Thursday, I’ll be posting the next part in the series, “the cow all white and red.” Don’t worry, it’s not beef!!

Chocolate Fudge Stuffed Gingerbread

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Yield: approx 45 cookies

I like to use Bob's Red Mill cup-to-cup GF flour (not sponsored). But I have found over many trials, that even the finest GF flour needs to be very well sifted in order to yield the best results. I like to sift at least twice. So take your time sifting, and you will be rewarded.

Oh...I forgot to tell you! This is a one-bowl kinda thing. Isn't that the best? Less dishes, hurrah!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of very well sifted gluten free flour (just under 12 oz)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp vanilla or rum
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • more flour, for dusting
  • filling
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Combine brown sugar, molasses, applesauce, ginger, vanilla/rum, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Stir.
  2. Gradually add the flour to the molasses mix and stir till combined. Dough will be sticky.
  3. Cover dough with plastic and allow to chill for at least two hours.
  4. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350.
  5. Roll some parchment paper out on the counter or table, and dust it with flour.
  6. Place the dough on your prepared surface, add more flour to the top of the dough, and a second piece of parchment. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Use a biscuit cutter (about 2.5 inches) to cut out the cookies. Re-roll and cut as needed.
  8. Place the cookies on the baking sheet. You can crowd them (they can even be touching), as they won't spread a single inch.
  9. Bake for 9 minutes, or just under. They will have puffed up wonderfully.
  10. Allow cookies to cool and then gently slice each cookie in half.
  11. Put the chocolate chips and maple syrup in a big plastic freezer bag. Let them melt, but not too drizzly. You want the chocolate to be stiff enough to pipe without melting all over the place.
  12. Pipe just under a tablespoon of chocolate onto each bottom cookie half. Top with other cookie half.
  13. Serve and enjoy! Store in an airtight container for up to a week, but are best within the first three days. These freeze very well.
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cookie base adapted + modified from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

gluten-fee-vegan-chocolate-stuffed-gingerbread-vegan-gingerbread-gluten-free-gingerbread

Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

These rustic millet cakes are warm and filling. Paired with sweet peas and a rich and spicy sauce, they make a wonderful winter meal.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cooked of course, but I also goofed around with my nieces and nephews and relaxed a lot.   I was really nervous that the T-word was gonna come up (the one that rhymes with chump), but nobody even mentioned it.  😌

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can start in on the Christmasy goodies. I’m so happy to start it out with this humble dish. It’s homey and warm, just like the holidays should be. Comforting.

At the outset, the simplicity of this dish is deceiving. But the flavors and textures at play here are not to be undermined. The cakes are flaky and crispy on the outside, and fluffy and soft on the inside. And the sauce. It’s hearty but not cloyingly so, with a spiciness that compliments the gentle notes of the millet cakes. The sweet little peas are nestled in all of it, like bright little Christmas balls.

Easy Millet Cakes Garlicky Millet Cakes

You start out with making millet porridge. Literally just water and millet, like you were making oatmeal or polenta. When the porridge gets big and fluffy, pour it into a baking dish to set. Pour some nice olive oil on a cookie sheet and let the oven get good and hot. Then cut out the cakes with a biscuit cutter and bake them up all warm and crispy. The sauce is a breeze, three ingredients and very little work. Spoon it into a bowl with the golden cakes and sprinkle a generous hand of peas over top.  Serve it with a nice jammy red wine, and plenty of love.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

P.S. On Monday I’m starting a 4 part mini-blog series that I’m kind of excited about. Be sure to swing by and check it out!

Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 main or 4 side

Ingredients

  • 1 cup millet
  • 4 cups water
  • hefty pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium cloves of microplane grated garlic
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canned adobo pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour the millet in a big flat pan set over medium heat. Shake the pan back and forth over the burner so that the millet gets a little dark and toasty, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the millet to a big pot along with the water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Stir very occasionally. Continue to cook for 25 minutes. If water is not absorbed at the end of cooking, raise the heat and stir until the porridge is good and thick, and all water is gone.
  3. Add the pepper and the garlic to the millet.
  4. Pour millet into a large baking pan. Spread it out so that it's 3/4 inch thick. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Preheat oven to 450. Pour a nice layer of olive oil over a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Using a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (approx 2.5 inch diameter), cut out millet cakes. You should get about 16-18.
  7. Place the cakes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and then bake for 10 more minutes.
  8. While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. Use a food processor to blend up the crushed tomatoes, the adobo pepper, and the sweet potato. Move the sauce to a pan and heat, adding salt if needed.
  9. Defrost the peas.
  10. Divide the sauce, the peas, and the cakes among plates. Serve.
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Vegan Thanksgiving Meatballs and Vegan Thanksgiving Burger

These festive vegan meatballs and burgers are created from the same easy recipe.

vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs-vegan-thanksgiving-burger

A while ago, I made an incredibly easy vegan burger. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to make a cozier version of that burger, something for people who liked side dishes well enough, but needed a heartier meal. These meatballs (and burgers!) are filling and protein packed and absolutely delicious.

When I was thinking about what to put in these, I was inspired by the traditional poultry-rub herbs that are used at Thanksgiving: thyme, sage, tarragon. Soon the air was filled with nostalgia. Our home smelled precisely like Thanksgiving dinner at my Auntie Maryl’s house. Food is truly a time machine. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was always held and Auntie Maryl and Uncle Eddie’s house. Auntie Maryl had a talent for holiday decorating, her vast family room bright and inviting. She passed four years ago, and I can’t think of Thanksgiving without also thinking of her.  The sharp, clean scent of every towel in her home. The way she always insisted that everyone congregate in the family room, post dinner, to hate-watch White Christmas. The way she made folks feel understood.vegan-thanksgiving-burger

And even though she was a big meat eater, I feel she would have appreciated this dish. Especially because of how simple it is. Yes, the toppings take a little work, but the burgers and meatballs themselves are rather effortless.  All you need to do is chop up some herbs, and the blender does the rest of the work.

I topped these burgers with sweet potato noodles, but if you don’t have a spiralizer, thinly chopped sweet potatoes are just fine.

vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs-easy-vegan-thanksgiving-burger

 

Vegan Thanksgiving Meatballs and Vegan Thanksgiving Burger

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 20 meatballs OR 8 burgers

This recipe yields 20 meatballs or 8 burgers, whichever strikes your fancy. The ingredients include nutritional yeast, which is quite salty itself. However, I strongly recommend tasting the mix before you bake it and add more salt to taste.

This recipe freezes very well, so you can make them well in advance.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 2 cups of tightly packed kale
  • 1 big shallot
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 heaping tbsp flaxmeal
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • hearty dash of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • toppings
  • cranberry sauce (recipe below)
  • sweet potato noodles (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Blend all burger ingredients in a food processor or blender until you get a coarse paste. Depending on your blender, you may need to do this in batches (I did).
  3. to make the meatballs:
  4. Form mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on parchment-lined pan and bake for 8.5 minutes. Yields 20. Serve aside sweet potato noodles and cranberry sauce. They also taste good with ketchup, no shame.
  5. to make the burgers
  6. Form the mixture into 1/2 inch thick, 3 inch wide burgers. Place on parchment lined pan and bake for 12 minutes. Flip and bake for another five minutes. Yields 8. Top with cranberry sauce and sweet potato noodles.

Notes

cranberry sauce: Place 2 cups of cranberries, 1/2 cup of water, and 4 tbsp of brown sugar in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil, and the reduce heat. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until thickened.

sweet potato noodles: spiralize a 1 lb sweet potato on medium width. Nuke in microwave until desired texture is reached (anywhere between 2 - 8 minutes). Frozen noodles will only need 3 minutes to reach a pleasant, al dente texture.

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you can also try these with cranberry tahini sauce

incredibly-easy-vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs