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.

 

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.
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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
 
Prep time
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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.

 

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
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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!
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