Monday, February 24, 2014

Vegan Cranberry Apple Mini Pies

The sweetness of apples mixes so well with tart cranberries in these vegan mini pies. They can be fried for a special treat or baked in the oven for a lighter version. Any filling can be used in these; peach, blueberry, cherry. Whatever you want!

For the filling:

1 1/2 cup diced apples
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine apples, cranberries, sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes until soft. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Let cool.

For the crust:

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, cubed. (very cold)
3 tablespoons ice cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, add flour and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add cubes of cold Earth Balance. Pulse 12-15 times to incorporate the butter into the flour, careful not to over-mix. Add the water while pulsing. The dough should still appear quite crumbly even after adding the water. Squeeze a handful of the mixture in the palm of your hand. If it holds together, you have added enough water. If it doesn't hold, add another tablespoon and then check again.

Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out as many circles as you can using a biscuit cutter. You need an even number, 2 for each pie. Any size will work. Place 1-2 teaspoons of apple cranberry filling onto the center of half the dough rounds. Brush the edges with water or soy milk. This will help the top and bottom rounds stick together. Place the other dough rounds on top of the filling. Gently press the dough rounds together, making sure no filling seeps out of the sides. Using your finger, a fork, or the back of a spoon, firmly press the 2 edges together. Using a toothpick or fork, poke a few holes in the top of each pie.

If frying, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry each pie for about 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

If baking, preheat oven to 350 degress. Brush each pie with soy milk. Bake pies for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

For both, let cool slightly first. Right out of the heat, the filling is like lava!!! 

*These can easily be made gluten free. Just substitute the regular wheat lour with your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour, like Bob's Red Mill.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vegan "Cheezits"

These little crackers pack a surprisingly cheesy punch. I have made these in the past using soy or other types of vegan cheddar cheese which gives that classic bright orange color. But I do try to avoid the artificial vegan cheeses and don't often have them on hand. This recipe is quick and easy. Perfect for when you have a craving for something salty and crunchy. The only part that is mildly time consuming is cutting the dough into 1-inch squares. You can totally make these into large squares to make it easier! But making all those tiny little crackers is quite satisfying if you have the time.

Cashew "parmesan cheese" is something I always have on hand. I put it on anything from pasta, to vegetables, to pizza. I use 4 oz. of this cashew parmesan as the cheese element in these crackers, and the rest can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Cashew Parmesan Cheese

2 cups raw unsalted cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Roughly chop cashews in a food processor. Add nutritional yeast, mustard, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the cashew are finely chopped and ingredients are well combined. Careful not to over mix, you are not looking for a paste here. 

Vegan "Cheezits"

4 oz. cashew parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, room temp. (I use the soy free, but any vegan butter works)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2-4 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cashew cheese and butter. Mix on medium for about 1 minute. Slowly add flour. Mixture will be dry. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough is formed. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thin "cheezit" thickness. These won't rise too much. Using a knife or fluted-edged roller, cut into 1 inch squares. Place on baking sheet, careful not to overlap. Poke a small hole in the center of each cracker. Spray with a thin coat of olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. These can go from done to burned very quickly so keep an eye on them. You want them slightly browned for a nice crunch. Let cool completely.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vegan Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw and Cilantro Lime Sauce

The taco "meat" is a mixture of diced potatoes, ground nuts, and spices. Homemade tortillas, cilantro lime cashew cream, and a tangy red cabbage slaw come together to make a fresh and delicious taco.

Corn Tortillas

1 3/4 cups organic masa harina
1 1/8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Combine masa harina, water and salt until a smooth dough forms. Wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Form into equal sized balls, 10 to 15 depending on size you would like.  Place  dough balls between plastic wrap. Using a tortilla press or the bottom of a bowl or pan, flatten the dough balls.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with oil. Cook tortillas 1 to 2 minutes on each side. You don't really want to brown these. They should still be soft and pliable enough to pick up and fold without breaking.  

Taco "Meat"

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 small potato, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup water
1.5 cups raw unsalted cashews
1/2 cup unsalted walnuts
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 lime, juiced

In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or so, careful not to burn the garlic. Add spices and potatoes. Add water, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cashews, walnuts, soy sauce, mustard, nutritional yeast, and lime juice. Pulse until the mixture becomes the texture of ground beef. Add the nut mixture to the potato and onion mixture. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt, pepper, or more spices. Keep over low heat.

Red Cabbage Slaw

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 jalapeno, mined (keep the seeds for heat, remove them for a mild flavor)
2 to 3 radishes, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, and salt. Whisk. Add cabbage, jalapeno, radises, and cilantro. Toss to coat.

Cilantro Lime Cashew Cream

1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight in cold water (30 minutes in hot water if short on time)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a blender or food processor (Vitamix works best), blend cashews with enough water to form a sour cream like consistency. Add lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Lightly blend. The Vitamix tends to heat up the mixture, so blending in a few ice cubes at the end helps to cool it down and thin it out further.

To Assemble:

Spread a layer of cilantro lime cashew cream on tortillas. Add a few tablespoons of taco "meat". Top with red cabbage slaw, avocado, diced tomatoes, and jalapeno. Finish them off with hot sauce and more cashew cream.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vegan Granola with Mulberry, Chia Seeds, Cashew Cream, and Bananas

Cashew cream is one of the most versatile and awesome weapons in the vegan kitchen. It can replace sour cream, yogurt, even cream in your coffee. In this recipe I use it 2 different ways. One is flavored with mulberry jam and thickened with organic chia seeds. The other is flavored with crystallized ginger, banana, and orange zest. Both are layered between homemade granola, chock full of nuts and fruit.

(based off of Alton Brown's basic granola recipe)

1/2 any sweetener of choice (brown sugar, maple syrup, agave, etc.)
1/4 cup mild flavored oil of choice
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped cashews
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup unsweetened large coconut flakes
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Combine oil and sweetener of choice. Mix together the oats, nuts, and coconut flakes. Pour oil mixture over oats mixture and toss to combine. Clean hands work best for this. Spread granola evenly among 2 baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until the granola is lightly browned and crispy. Toss every 15 minutes or so to cook evenly. Once cooled, toss in cherries, cranberries, and cocoa nibs.

Cashew Cream

1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked overnight
3 to 5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoons mulberry jam
1/2 banana, smashed
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest

Combine cashews and water in a blender. Mix on high until very smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary. You are looking for a thick yogurt like texture.

Divide cashew cream in half. 

To one half, add chia seeds and mulberry jam, Mix well and let sit 15 minutes.

To the other half, add banana, ginger, and orange zest.

To assemble, layer granola with mulberry chia cashew cream, banana ginger cashew cream, and fresh banana slices.