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Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

Ginger Peach Ice Cream

Summer’s here, and so is ice cream season!

Ginger Peach Ice Cream

I recently became the proud owner of an ice cream maker, thanks to a Craigslist acquisition that also got me a crock pot and a waffle iron. Seriously, if you need kitchen appliances that are a tad on the expensive side, take a look at Craigslist – you’ll often find perfectly good items that are only slightly used, and cost much less than going to the store. Recycling! Anyhoo, with summer upon us in full force, I wanted to break out the ice cream maker to whip up a batch of refreshing, fruity, seasonal vegan ice cream. Enter Ginger Peach Ice Cream!

This is actually a slightly-modified recipe from Cathe Olson’s Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love, which was recommended to me by a friend. The recipe is a simple peach ice cream recipe which calls for fresh peaches, coconut milk, sugar or agave nectar, and vanilla extract. So simple, and without a miles-long ingredient list that many ice creams, vegan or otherwise, tend to boast in the store. I got a little lazy though, as the recipe calls for four cups of fresh peaces sliced and peeled; and instead used 1-1/2 16 oz bags of sliced frozen peaches from Whole Foods. Because of this, I also omitted the optional cooking step for the peaches in the book’s recipe. I defrosted the peaches before using, just to make it easier to blend; but you can keep them frozen if you have a strong blender (as opposed to a $20 blender from Target).

Mm, peaches

First you blend together the coconut milk, choice of sweetener (I did an even blend of agave nectar and granulated sugar), and vanilla; I also added a tablespoon of ground ginger to this step to give the ice cream a bit more zip. Plus, peaches and ginger go insanely well together. I would recommend using ground ginger as opposed to fresh ginger root, since the former has a slightly sweeter taste (as opposed to being all spice) and, perhaps more importantly, blends really well with the liquids since it more easily dissolves. However, if you’re a fresh ingredient purist, I’m sure you could use minced or grated ginger root as well. After these ingredients were blended, I added one bag’s worth of peaches to the blender and blended completely, as instructed by the book. I liked that the fruit is pureed to become a part of the ice cream, as opposed to this being a vanilla ice cream with peach chunks; the latter is cheating! But I do also love peach chunks in my ice cream, so once the peaches were blended with the coconut-ginger mixture, I added the remaining half-bag of peaches and pulsed them until they were chopped finely in the mixture.

Up next comes the longest part – letting the mixture cool. The book instructs you to let the mixture cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours. This is very important, as a mixture that’s not cold enough will not freeze properly in an ice cream maker. Once three hours passed (wherein I watched old B-movies and surfed the web), I simply started up my ice cream maker, poured in my ginger peach mix, and 30 minutes later, had delicious homemade ice cream!

I like this recipe because of both the minimal ingredients and the large use of less-processed products like organic coconut milk (the coconut milk I bought had three ingredients as opposed to the encyclopedia often found in other nondairy milks). Yes, it’s still a treat (especially with the sugar), but it’s definitely a better alternative to both dairy-based ice creams and expensive store-bought vegan ice creams. I definitely want to make more of the recipes soon!

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins

It’s easier to get your vegetables when they’re inside a muffin!

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins

Last week I bought yellow zucchini at the Farmer’s Market, a variety I’ve never had before. The seller described the zucchini as having a “buttery flavor.” Well, my Southern side got inspired and decided to try mixing this zucchini into some vegan corn muffins!

To start, I measured out some almond milk and added a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, whisking both together in the measuring cup. This will give you vegan buttermilk! I’m not going to make a corn muffin without buttermilk; that’s crazy talk. Anyway, I always do this step first because it gives the milk a little time to curdle before I add it to the batter. I then grated the zucchini with a microplaner. This allows the zucchini to be very fine and therefore melds more smoothly with the muffin. I grated about one medium yellow zucchini, which totaled about 1 cup.

A bowl of grated zucchini sunshine!

I then prepared my corn muffin batter as normal. I always sift in the dry ingredients first, but then usually just put the liquids in with the dry (as opposed to mixing them  in a separate bowl first) and mix everything together, depending on the recipe. You can use this technique with these corn muffins; just be sure not to overmix! Once the batter is nice and smooth, you then fold in the zucchini and some corn kernels for extra oomph. Then you bake these bad boys for about 25 minutes, then boom! Vegetables for breakfast – who knew?

These muffins are lightly sweetened with some agave nectar, so they flirt with savory as opposed to being a super sweet corn muffin (these aren’t Jiffy cakes). The zucchini adds a nice golden color and yes, a light buttery flavor to these muffins. Definitely give them a try!

Yellow Zucchini Corn Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

1 cup nondairy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 cup grated yellow zucchini

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernals

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a measuring cup, whisk together milk and vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together flours, corn meal, baking powder, and salt. Add the liquid ingredients (including the milk) and stir well. Fold in the zucchini and corn kernels.

Fill paper liners about 3/4 full. Bake muffins for 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Serve warm, or allow to cool and reheat later.

Potato Angels (Deviled Potato Eggs)

What’s a vegan to do when she wants deviled eggs? Use plants, of course!

Potato Angels

Full disclosure – I am not a vegan, even though the focus of this blog is largely vegan food. You know how some meat-eaters will say they are semi-vegetarian because they eat vegetarian most of the time, but occasionally have meat for dinner? I like to say I’m semi-vegan, or “veganish,” as Kathy Freston called it on Oprah’s vegan show a few months ago. I keep a vegan fridge, make vegan baked goods, don’t drink milk, and eat no animal products about 75% of the time; but the other 25% of the time I may have some eggs or cheese. I’ve been trying to lessen my intake of animal products year by year, but every now and then I’m swayed by a caprese salad or a deviled egg.

Enter Potato Angels!

I found this recipe for mock deviled eggs on VegWeb, a great resource for free and easy vegan recipes. So much of my vegetarian experience these past fives years has been due to this website. I had actually seen some vegan deviled egg recipes before, but they involved putting a seasoned tofu mixture into a carved block of unflavored tofu. Now, I like tofu – even cold and unseasoned, occasionally, if it’s in a salad or whatnot. But eating this tofu deviled egg of sorts just sounded … well, really unappetizing. As someone who grew up eating delicious deviled eggs my mom would make, that was a tough sell. I wanted a cruelty-free option to deviled eggs, but I didn’t want it to be one I choked down at a party, with the only pleasure coming from the fact that it didn’t come from an abused hen. I mean, that’s a great source of satisfaction, but when it comes to food, you want the source to taste good too! Thus, a recipe with potatoes came to save the day!

Baby potatoes replace baby chickens. Victory!

The recipe starts with having you roast new potatoes which are cut in half. They also recommend peeling them, but I chose not to because all the good stuff is in the skin. Deviled eggs are not health food, and neither are these potato angels; but I wanted to maintain as many good properties of the original potato as possible. You then coat the potatoes in olive oil and roast them face down for 40-45 minutes at 350 F. This may seem like a long time, and I was skeptical; but 40 minutes made them perfect. Just keep an eye on them; I removed mine when the peel started to get really wrinkly.

While you roast the potatoes, you can start preparing your filling. In a bowl, you mix vegan mayonnaise (I love Follow Your Heart – best taste and texture, hands down), yellow mustard, finely-chopped onion, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt/pepper, and turmeric. The recipe cites the turmeric as optional, but I highly recommend it because it adds the bold yellow color that defines deviled eggs. Plus, turmeric is good for you, so it adds some more healthy properties! Mixing these ingredients with a fork is the way to go. I mixed until the mixture turned yellow, signaling the turmeric was fully-incorporated. Usually this means everything else is mixed as well.

Now, let’s assemble these bad boys. To start, take a sharp knife (I used a dicing knife) and carve a hole into your potato half so as to make a bowl or cup shape. You can also finish the job with a butter knife so you can scrape out excess potato without slicing and dicing your “egg” base.

Throw the filling you’ve carved out into the mayo/mustard mixture and mix well. Then, scoop it into your hollowed-out potatoes! I started to get fancy and do this with a frosting pumper to create pretty stars, but the onions and potato pieces made this difficult; so I just scooped in the filling with a teaspoon. Then you just sprinkle on the key ingredient: paprika! And you’re done! You can chill in the fridge, or serve at room temperature – your choice.

Now, for any egg enthusiasts out there, this is not meant to be an exact replica of deviled eggs as far as taste. While potatoes and eggs both have relatively neutral flavors, they are distinct enough to where yes, there will be a difference; and this isn’t an exact mock. However, if you are craving something in the style of deviled eggs, but want something simple, whole plant-based, and relatively-free of excess processing (the most processed ingredient is the vegan mayo), then these Potato Angels are for you. The vegan mayo, mustard, and onion are the most prominent flavors, but everything melds together to create an excellent deviled egg substitute that’s perfect for a picnic, cookout, or other gathering.

All packed up and ready for an outdoor lunch!

2 for 1: Strawberry Basil Jam and Strawberry Arugula Salad

As I mentioned on Monday, last week I loaded up on strawberries which were on sale. This week I came up with some strawberry-based dishes: Strawberry Basil Jam and Strawberry Arugula Salad!

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Slivered Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

The first thing I made was the salad, a delicious and refreshing Spring salad which was great for lunch. I started by cutting up some fresh arugula which came on the stem, then quartering some strawberries to go in. I love the way greens and fruits go together, and strawberry with arugula is no exception. It almost makes a salad taste decadent or dessert-y (or it could just be because I love fruit so much).

While fresh arugula only lasts about 5 days, it still holds up better than the bagged varieties!

I also threw in some slivered almonds for a protein and healthy fat punch, then topped it off with balsamic vinaigrette. This simply involves me putting 2 parts balsamic vinegar, one part olive oil in a bottle and shaking it to emulsify before pouring it on a salad. After tossing everything together, I topped the salad with a blend of black and pink cracked pepper for a little extra zip.

But I still had lots of fresh strawberries left, as well as a craving for some fresh jam. Enter Strawberry Basil Jam!

Strawberry Basil Jam

Homemade jams, I’ve discovered, are a food item that seems way more complicated to make than it actually is. Fortunately I found a recipe a few years ago which had you make jam in under ten minutes by using corn starch as a thickener instead of pectin. Brilliant! I’ve been making jam this way ever since, and I don’t taste a difference.

Similar to my love of fruit in salads, I love basil with fruit. Basil and strawberries make an excellent combo in smoothies, popsicles, and sorbet; so I thought, why not add some fresh basil to a homemade jam? So Marvin lost a few more hairs and I got an amazing Spring/Summer jam made from scratch in ten minutes.

I started by pulsing the strawberries and basil leaves in a blender until well-chopped. You can mash the strawberries if you want, but since you have to chop the basil anyway, I just prefer to chop them all together in a way that gets them really pulsed down for proper jam texture. Once pulsed, I put the mixture in a small saucepan and added agave nectar, heating it on medium to get it bubbling.

Not the prettiest photo but it shows the bubbly goodness of the jam mixture

Once the mixture started bubbling I added some arrowroot powder (a good sub for corn starch) and a bit of water, then lowered the heat to low and simmered for about six minutes. It got nice and thick really quickly; I simmered for this long to let the flavors cook and meld. Now it’s sitting in the fridge chilling away!

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Slivered Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette (Serves 1)

2-3 cups fresh arugula, chopped or torn

1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered

2-3 TB slivered almonds

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Cracked black and/or pink pepper, to taste

Toss the arugula, strawberries, and almonds together in a bowl. In an empty bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid, shake the vinegar and olive oil until emulsified. Pour over the salad and toss. Add pepper and serve.

Strawberry Basil Jam (makes about 1/2 a cup of jam)

1 cup fresh strawberries

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1 TB agave nectar

2 tsp arrowroot powder

1 TB water

Pulse the strawberries and basil in a blender or food processor until well-chopped and almost smooth, like a sauce. Transfer to a small saucepan and stir in the agave nectar. Heat on medium until bubbling.

Dissolve the arrowroot powder in the water, then add the mixture to the jam and stir it in. The jam will look white-pink but the color will deepen as you cook it, so don’t worry. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 6 minutes. Transfer to a jar and allow to cool a bit before putting in the fridge to cool completely.