Chocolates – quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan

Chocolates

chocolate daleksBack when my kids were eating dairy-free as well as gluten-free, most candy was off-limits for them. So for Halloween and Easter, we made our own chocolates. Even now that they can eat dairy, we still make our own chocolates. It is super easy!

The fun part is choosing candy molds to make the chocolates. I used to use plastic candy molds, but I worried about chemicals that might leach into the chocolate. So I replaced the plastic candy molds with silicone ice cube trays. There is an amazing variety of ice cube trays available. We have smiley faces, creepy Easter Island statues, peace signs — even Lego minifiguresDaleks, and Tardises (Tardii?) ! Also my local Meijer store sells seasonal silicone ice cube trays for about Minifigs and penguins$2 each. That’s where I got pumpkins, bats, musical notes, hearts, strawberry-shapes, and lots more.

I thought melted chocolate would be scary-hot, but actually if you think about it, chocolate melts at about body temperature, and that’s about as hot as you want to get it — so it is really more just warm than actually hot. To make chocolates, my kids and I melt allergy-safe chocolate chips in the microwave (some dairy-free vegan brands are Equal Exchange chocolate chips and EnjoyLife), pour into silicone ice cube trays, refrigerate for a few hours, and voila — adorable chocolates that were super easy to make.

Holiday Chocolates - quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan
 
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Cute, easy, homemade chocolates. Great for Halloween or Easter with allergic kids.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 cup of chocolates
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Microwave the chocolate chips for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in a microwave-safe cup or bowl. (I use a Pyrex measuring cup.)
  2. Stir with a spoon.
  3. If the chocolate chips aren't fully melted, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until they are all melted.
  4. Pour into silicone ice cube trays.
  5. Gently tap the silicone trays, or vibrate them, or wiggle them, to get any bubbles out, and to get the chocolate into the farthest corners of the design.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  7. To unmold, spread out a dishtowel flat on a table or counter. Pop the chocolates out of the mold onto the dishtowel. The dish towel will catch any chocolate scraps.
  8. Tip: You can wrap the chocolates in aluminum foil, and maybe add a sticker for decoration. If you do that, I recommend that you tear the foil with your hands, not with scissors. Cutting foil with scissors will quickly dull and ruin the scissors -- I found this out the hard way!
  9. Tip: Some of the chocolate shapes (such as peace signs) break easily when you remove them from the mold. If you need a certain number of chocolates, make extra to account for breakage.
  10. Tip: If you have silicone trays that are very floppy or very wide, you may wish to put them on a cookie sheet to make it easier to get them into the refrigerator without spilling.

 

Falafel – gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!

Falafel

falafel ingredientsI discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!

When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to unbaked falafelus forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.

This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.

This recipe is my adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s falafel recipe in the cookbook Vegan with a Vefalafel after bakingngeance.

I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will falafel for dinnerpost my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.

Anyway, onward to falafel!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Falafel - gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!
 
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Baked orbs of chickpea dough, with a creamy vegan tahini sauce and lots of fixings. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: serves 5-6 people
Ingredients
Falafel ingredients
  • 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • a little black pepper, ground
Toppings
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • chopped avocadoes
  • tahini dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
  5. While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
  6. To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!

Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tahini Sauce
 
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A creamy tahini sauce that is great on falafel or anything else!
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Serves: 1 1/4 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
Instructions
  1. Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
  2. If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve warm on falafel or other food.

 

virtual vegan potluckThis recipe is a part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Here are the links to the next and previous recipes in the loop:

Stay Calm and Go Back

Stay Calm and Go Forward

Pancakes – gluten-free, vegan, and delicious!

Pancakes

These pancakes have no gluten, dairy, or eggs, but they are big, thick, real, satisfying pancakes. My kids’ favorite weekend breakfast.

When my family went gluten-free, I converted a lot of our old favorite recipes so that we could keep them.  But my favorite old pancake recipe from Betty Crocker didn’t work with gluten-free flour. After much experimentation, I used a version of a pancake recipe from the cookbook Food Allergy Survival Guide, then heavily modified it into the recipe here.

These pancakes are great topped with my super-quick and easy homemade applesauce.

pancakes, cookingTip: You can make lots of pancakes much faster if you use several frying pans at once. I usually use three pans at once — two ten-inch pans and a twelve-inch pan. I have had good success with T-Fal non-stick pans that I got from Amazon and at a local hardware store.

Tip: If you don’t have the flours I used, you can replace any or all of them with your favorite gluten-free flour mix.

Pancakes - gluten-free, vegan, and delicious!
 
Prep time
10 mins
Cook time
25 mins
Total time
35 mins
 
These pancakes have no gluten, dairy, or eggs, but they are big, thick, real, satisfying pancakes. My kids' favorite weekend breakfast.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 1/4 cups teff flour
  • 1 1/4 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 1/4 cups potato starch or tapioca starch
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 tablespoon baking soda + 1 tablespoon cream of tartar)
  • 3 3/4 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • optional: chocolate chips (my kids' favorite!) (note - do not mix these into the batter)
  • optional: 2 cups of assorted chopped fruit (such as bananas and blueberries)
  • optional: 1 cup of chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans
  • optional: 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat one or more nonstick frying pans on low heat.
  2. Use a whisk to mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Check the bottom carefully for pockets of dry ingredients that need to be stirred in.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  4. Use a big spoon to make puddles of about 2-3 tablespoons of batter on the frying pan.
  5. When bubbles appear in the batter, turn the heat down to medium, and keep it there for the rest of the pancakes.
  6. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown. You can use a spatula to peek underneath to check the color. The first batch always takes much longer than the later ones.
  7. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes to the other side.
  8. Remove the pancakes to a plate and cook more.
  9. My kids don't like fruit in their pancakes, while the grownups at my house think that that's the best kind. So usually I cook several batches of plain pancakes, then six pancakes where I sprinkle on chocolate chips, which the kids love, and then I stir fruit and nuts and cardamom or vanilla extract into the remaining batter and make several batches of fancy pancakes. Oh, so good!
  10. Serve with maple syrup (which my kids like) or homemade applesauce (which our grownups like).
3.2.2807

 

Scrambled Tofu

scrambled tofu with potatoes, broccoli, and red bell peppers

A quick and addictive recipe for scrambled tofu — with cubes of soft browned potatoes, broccoli, and pieces of red bell peppers. Yum!

potato ringThis recipe is based on a recipe called Tofu Skillet Scramble, from the cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson.

The secret to this recipe is to let the tofu brown on the side that is on the bottom of the frying pan. It picks up the other flavors in the recipe and tastes great that way.

The other secret is smoked paprika — smoked paprika adds some magic to practically anything.

Note that the recipe makes 2-3 servings, so you may want to multiply it if you are feeding more people. This recipe is somewhat addictive, so make lots!

mash the edge firstThe second picture in this post shows the ring of potatoes for microwaving.

The third picture shows mashing just the edge of the block of tofu first, which is much easier than trying to push the whole masher through a solid block of tofu.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The final picture shows what the tofu looks like after mashing.

The tofu picks up the flavors of the salt and other ingredients and ends up tasting scrambled and not tofu-y at all. Even if you are hesitant about tofu, I encourage you to try this recipe, because the tofu comes out delicious — all salty and flavorful. It combines with the potatoes to be very satisfying.

tofu after mashing

 

Scrambled Tofu
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
A quick and addictive recipe for scrambled tofu -- with cubes of soft browned potatoes, broccoli, and pieces of red bell peppers. Yum!
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2-3 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 small potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, either ground or whole is okay
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • optional: shredded lettuce
Instructions
  1. Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Shape them into a big O on a microwave-safe dinnerplate. Microwave for five minutes. (The O-shape of the ring lets the potato cubes cook more evenly.)
  2. In a big bowl, mash the tofu. You can mash it with a potato masher or with your hands. Tip: If you use a potato masher, it is easiest if you start by mashing just the edge of the block of tofu and work your way inward gradually. Stir in the soy sauce, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large (12 inch) nonstick frying pan. Add the potatoes and tofu. Heat until the potatoes are soft and everything is starting to turn a gorgeous golden shade of brown.
  4. While the potatoes cook, put the frozen broccoli into a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water on top, then some salt, and drizzle on a tablespoon of oil. Microwave for 8 minutes. Stir well, so that the salt gets well distributed. Drain. Add the broccoli to the potato-tofu mixture.
  5. While the broccoli cooks, chop the red bell pepper and add it to the potato-tofu mixture.
  6. Stir in the fennel seed.
  7. Serve either on lettuce or solo.
3.2.2807

 

Oriental Salad – My kids’ favorite pasta dish. May create tofu lovers!

Oriental Salad

This is an Asian-style noodle salad — with tofu so good that it has been known to convert a non-tofu-eater into a tofu lover.

This recipe is based on a recipe from The Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan. It has some of the most addictively delicious tofu I’ve ever eaten. The tofu from this recipe is excellent used as an ingredient in other recipes too.

Two of my kids specially ask for this recipe as their very favorite dinner.

I usually double this recipe when I cook it, for leftovers.

Oriental Salad - A pasta dish that may convert a tofu-hater into a tofu lover
 
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This is an Asian-style noodle salad -- with tofu so good that it has been known to convert a non-tofu-eater into a tofu lover.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Vaguely Asian
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari (good soy sauce San-J has gluten-free options)
Salad
  • 1 pound of extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 12 ounces pasta (I like Field Day Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (the brown “toasted” kind) (do not substitute any other oil)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1/2 lemon)
  • 6 scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced in half on an angle, or two stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, or 1/8 to 1/4 cup of dried parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut the tofu into half-inch cubes. Place it in a watertight container with a lid that fits well. Add the marinade ingredients. Put the lid on the container. Gently turn it over, to mix the marinade with the tofu, then turn it right-side up again. Let it sit for a few minutes while you start the pasta, occasionally turning the container over to mix the marinade with the tofu (but leave the container standing right-side-up to prevent leaks).
  2. Start heating water to boil for the pasta.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu from the container and put it into a nonstick frying pan on the stove. Heat the tofu along with the ginger, stirring regularly to brown the different sides of the tofu. When the tofu is brown and crispy, pour 1 tablespoon of tamari over it and stir for 1 minute more.
  4. Cook the noodles in boiling water as directed on the package.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and put them into a big serving bowl. Juice the lemon and set aside the lemon juice.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl. Immediately stir in the sesame oil and lemon juice. Toss well and serve.
  7. Everything else tends to burrow beneath the noodles, so when you serve this you should dig down in the bowl to get some of everything.

 

Apple-Blueberry Crumble with Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream – gluten-free, vegan, and decadent!

Apple Blueberry Crumble with vegan Vanilla Cardamom Ice Cream

The other day, I picked up a huge container of Honeycrisp apples, and another huge container of blueberries. I brought them home and browsed through cookbooks, looking for something good to do with apples and blueberries. In Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health I found a recipe for an apple-blueberry crumble. It had oats in it, so I converted it to be oat-free. Then I made a frozen-banana vegan ice cream recipe to serve on top of it, with a trace of cardamom. The result was gorgeous and delicious!

The perfect bananas for this recipe are very ripe but not overripe. They should have brown freckles but the skin should not yet be solidly brown. Peel them, break into chunks, and freeze.

Apple-Blueberry Crumble with Cardamom Ice Cream
 
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This gluten-free vegan apple-blueberry crumble with banana ice cream is healthy, beautiful, and delicious!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Fruit Filling:
  • 3 cups sliced apples
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch or 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
Crumble Topping:
  • 2 tablespoons quinoa flour (or other gluten-free flour)
  • 2 tablespoons teff flour (or other gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
Ice Cream:
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled, broken into chunks, and frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of cardamom (about 1/32 teaspoon)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the fruit filling ingredients into an ungreased 8 or 9 inch square pan.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. While the fruit bakes, combine the crumble topping ingredients in a bowl.
  5. When the fruit has baked for 30 minutes, remove from oven. Stir it well.
  6. Break the crumble topping into small crumbs, about the size of grains of rice, and sprinkle them all over the fruit.
  7. Return the crumble to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  8. While the crumble bakes, put all of the ice cream ingredients into a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  9. Serve scoops of cold ice cream on top of the hot crumble. Delicious!

 

 


virtual vegan linky potluckI submitted this recipe to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In last week’s potluck, my recipe for Chocolate Nanaimo Pumpkin Pie was an editor’s pick – neat!!

Potato Salad Deluxe – warm, nutritious, and satisfying

Potato Salad Deluxe

This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner.  You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.

This recipe is loosely based on the version in a long-ago edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

I add lots of veggies to potato salad each time I cook it, so it is never exactly the same food twice. Some nice items to add are herbs and spices, chopped vegetables (raw or cooked), cashews, and veggie dogs.  You can also vary your varieties of potatoes — Yukon Gold or Yellow Finns are great!

This potato salad can be served cold or warm. I like it better warm! The original Betty Crocker recipe says to chill potato salad for 2 hours before serving, but I usually serve it as soon as all the ingredients are mixed together. It makes a good winter dinner that way.  Though it’s lovely served warm in the summertime, too.

Last night when I cooked this, my twelve-year-old daughter, Kendra, said, “Mom, I really like that you are doing this blog. You are making all of my favorite dinners, like potato salad.”  Yum!

Potato Salad Deluxe
 
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Cook time
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This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner. You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5 or more, depending on how many optional extras you add
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 pounds potatoes (about 8-10 medium potatoes -- Yukon Gold are great here)
  • 1 batch Beannaise - a quick homemade mayo replacer, or use 1/2 cup of mayonnaise -- but this recipe tastes much better and is healthier with Beannaise
  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • Optional: 1 cup cashews
  • Optional: cut-up tofu dogs
  • Optional: quartered artichoke hearts
  • Optional: asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Optional: olive slices
  • Optional: cabbage, chopped small (uncooked is fine)
  • Optional: spinach
  • Optional: summer squash / zucchini
  • Optional: spices, herbs, fresh parsley, dill weed!
  • Optional: chopped pickles
Instructions
  1. Put eggs in a pot of cold water. Heat to boiling; lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour out the water, add ice cubes and cold running water. Peel the eggs. Chop them, or slice them twice with an egg slicer, slicing in two different directions.
  2. While the eggs are cooking, chop the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Put in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Heat to boiling. Boil 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, make the beannaise.
  4. Put all of the ingredients into a big bowl. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Serve right away, or chill it for several hours before serving.

 

Umeboshi Calling – a quick vegan pasta dinner with a slightly addictive creamy cashew sauce

umeboshi calling

little umeboshiThis quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free variation that replaces the cashews with tofu), with spinach and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.

Umeboshi paste is made of pickled umeboshi plums — though it does not taste at all like pickles. It is salty and sweet and creamy, making the recipe’s sauce a little addictive.

If you can’t find umeboshi paste, you can replace it with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. That works okay and comes out tasting lovely, but if you can possibly use umeboshi paste, this recipe is much yummier for it.

I originally made this recipe with the kind of pasta that looks a little bit like a telephone cord. That’s how the recipe got the name Umeboshi Calling.

Nut-free version: Replace the cashews with 10 ounces of tofu, and reduce the water to 1/2 cup.

Variation: You can add 1-2 cups of your favorite protein source, such as Butler soy curls (rehydrated before adding!), seitan (note that seitan is not gluten-free), baked tofu, etc.

Tip: If you anticipate leftovers, you may wish to keep the sauce and the pasta separate, so that you can store them separately, so that the pasta doesn’t absorb all the liquid from the sauce in the refrigerator.

Umeboshi Calling - a quick pasta dinner with creamy cashew sauce
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
This quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free tofu variation), spinach, and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pasta, preferably something curly such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Fusilli
  • 1 package frozen spinach (anything from 10 to 16 ounces is OK)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • 1-2 bell peppers (any color is OK; red is especially good in this)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Defrost spinach, but don’t drain it.
  3. Blend cashews, water, and umeboshi paste in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it thickens and starts to look about the consistency of sour cream. Make sure you blend the mixture for long enough that it is really smooth.
  4. Chop the bell pepper.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Stir, but don't worry if the spinach stays somewhat clumpy.
  7. Serve. Yum!
3.2.2807

 

Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake

chocolate decadence mug cake

chocolate decadence mug cakeMany years ago, after eating dinner at Seva restaurant, I ordered a dessert that was the most dense and chocolatey confection that I had ever tasted. I loved it — but didn’t remember its name! After that, I spent ten years ordering desserts at Seva, wondering what it was, hoping to some day solve the mystery of what the amazing dessert had been. Finally, it did come up again. I found out that the amazing dessert was called Chocolate Decadence.

Later, I found the recipe for Narsai’s Chocolate Decadence on the Internet and tried making it myself.  (Tip: If you make the original recipe, “bake” it in a glass pie plate in the microwave for six minutes, rather than in the oven, to cook it fully without risking any burned bits.) It came out wonderfully and is a birthday favorite at my house.

Last year my partner gave me the very much fun cookbook Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth. I enjoyed baking the creative, original, tiny cake ideas from that cookbook.  When you are making a cake the size of a coffee mug, it is easier to take risks and bake something that you might not want to try a full-sized version of, such as a Sesame Ginger mug cake — which, by the way, came out great!

Anyway, I came up with the idea to try making a Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake.  This recipe is the result.  It mixes up in about five minutes, then needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight, and voila!

The night before the first day of school after a long break, I make each of my older two kids a Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake. The next morning, if they get ready for school expeditiously, they can have it. It’s a fun way to motivate them to get moving in the morning. They each stretch out their mug cake to last all week. My son Arlo says that high school is way too early in the morning, and that the only thing that keeps him awake through his classes is Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake!

Anyway, this is a really wonderful recipe, and very easy to make. I hope you will try it!

Some notes on the recipe:

If you mix up the batter in the mug, it is hard to get all of the ingredients stirred through evenly.  It works better to mix it up in something bigger, such as a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup, and then pour the batter into a coffee mug for baking.

I like Equal Exchange semi-sweet chocolate chips in this recipe, because they are organic, fair-trade, and vegan.  (The link goes to a 12-pack of chocolate chips on Amazon.)

Use at least a 12-ounce mug. The batter gets a lot taller during baking, then sinks back down again, so the recipe needs the full twelve ounces of space to expand into. American coffee mugs are usually twelve ounces.

You can also divide up the batter into ceramic ramekins and bake it in there.

 

Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An incredible chocolate cake, adapted to coffee-mug size.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 mug cake
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch or flour
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Put the chocolate chips and canola oil into a two-cup microwaveable bowl or cup, such as a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Stir.
  4. Microwave another 30 seconds.
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients. Use the fork to stir thoroughly. Be detail-oriented with the stirring, so that the egg gets blended very thoroughly with everything else.
  7. Pour into a 12-ounce coffee mug.
  8. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  9. Let sit until cool.
  10. Refrigerate overnight.

 

Black Bean Tostadas

Black Bean Tostadas

This quick and delicious meal has a story behind it.

Many years ago, when I was a young single person, my friend Rob and I were discussing what to do for dinner. It went something like this:

What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know. What do you want to do for dinner?
I don’t know.
Too bad Ann Arbor doesn’t have vegetarian restaurants like Ithaca.
Yeah. Ithaca has great vegetarian restaurants.
Too bad we can’t eat dinner there.
Yeah. It would be neat to eat dinner in Ithaca.
We couldn’t go there, could we?
Well, maybe we could! Want to go to Ithaca for dinner?
Okay, let’s go have dinner at the Moosewood!
Are you serious?
Yeah! Let’s go!

washing black beansThat was on a Saturday in the late afternoon. We hopped in the car and drove eight hours to Ithaca, New York, stopping for a few hours of sleep in a tiny motel somewhere in Canada. We reached Ithaca in time for Sunday dinner — which I thought was really the perfect day to be there because I loved the cookbook Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. I had never been to Ithaca before, but I loved reading cookbooks from the three vegetarian restaurants there, especially the Moosewood.

The meal we ate at Moosewood was Black Bean Tostadas.

It was worth the trip.

Afterward, I discovered that the recipe for Black Bean Tostadas was in the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. So I tried cooking it. It came out well.

beans for tostadasOver the years I have adapted it in many ways, and made it my own. I am not sure that anybody at Moosewood would recognize this recipe the way I make it.

That trip to Ithaca was twenty five years ago. I am sorry to say that I have lost touch with Rob.

Ann Arbor now has several excellent vegetarian restaurants — but I still think fondly of that crazy weekend road trip to the Moosewood.


The original version of this recipe was served on a crispy round corn tortilla. I’ve always found tostadas very hard to eat without having food go flying in all directions. So I changed this recipe to use crushed corn chips instead of a tortilla. I’ve played around squashed corn chips for tostadaswith the ingredients to meet my family’s food needs. And I have speeded it up, so that the whole meal can be cooked in 30 minutes.

My kids like this meal served with the corn chips on the side and all the parts of the meal in separate piles. I like it all heaped together, with avocado and salsa strewn throughout.


This recipe is dedicated in memory of Sue Talbert, who liked this recipe. Sue passed away last year, far too young.

Here is Sue’s version of this recipe.


Jan Wolter says that when he eats this recipe, he tries to put lots of liquid on the corn chips. Normally soggy corn chips don’t taste so good, but in this recipe they are transformed into something altogether different and very yummy. I know soggy corn chips sound really awful — and some brands are — but I hope you will trust me that the right corn chips are transformed in this recipe.

Black Bean TostadasSome brands of corn chips work better than others in this recipe — they have to mesh with the sauce in just the right way, and some brands do that better than others. I like Guiltless Gourmet blue or white corn chips, but the last time I checked, Guiltless Gourmet could not guarantee that their chips were gluten-free, so I don’t buy that brand anymore. Whole Foods white corn chips are good in this recipe too.

Tip: At our house, we don’t always have fresh orange juice on hand, but we keep some frozen concentrate in the freezer. For this recipe, I mix up a micro-batch of orange juice from concentrate, just enough to use in this recipe: six tablespoons of concentrate plus one cup and two tablespoons of water makes exactly the amount of orange juice needed for this recipe.

Black Bean Tostadas
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Black beans and orange juice taste surprisingly good together. In this recipe they are served on top of crushed corn chips, with avocado, lettuce, and other toppings.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: vaguely Mexican
Serves: serves 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 3 cans of black beans (4 1/2 cups, cooked), rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • EITHER 2 tomatoes, chopped, or 2 red or yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • corn chips (blue ones are good here)
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • optional: grated cheddar or Monterrey Jack or mozzarella cheese
  • optional: unsweetened yogurt or sour cream
  • salsa
Instructions
  1. Put the beans and orange juice in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil, cumin, coriander, and tomatoes or bell peppers, and stir.
  3. While the beans warm up, wash the lettuce.
  4. Mash the avocadoes into a very simple one-ingredient guacamole.
To serve:
  1. Put two handfuls of corn chips on a plate. Crush the corn chips with your hands, into pieces about an inch wide or smaller.
  2. Put a big scoop or two of the bean mixture on top, taking care to get the corn chips wet.
  3. Add lettuce, salsa, guacamole and other toppings.
  4. Serve!