Friday, November 10, 2017

White-Bean, Green-Chile Chili

Once Upon A Time...
There was a chili cook-off.
And I won.
The end.

I admit I haven't been blogging much lately, and here's the thing:
I still love creating new things and cooking vegan awesomeness for people, but often I feel like I've run out of interesting or unique recipes to share. The vegan blogging world has grown exponentially since I started scratching out recipes that my kids liked, and posting tacky little photos to go with them. My kids are grown, my kitchen has downsized, and my recipes are usually just for ME. But every now and then I DO get inspired, and feel I have something worth sharing, so keep checking back if you're the one person still following along....

So. Back to my story:
"Sky's The Limit" is a wonderful local animal sanctuary (mostly chickens!) and when they announced they were having a fund-raiser vegan chili cook-off, I decided to improve on my (2nd-Place, 6 years ago) winning chili recipe and compete again...

 Since I struggle with pretty crazy arthritis in my hands, my knife grip isn't that great, so I enlisted the help of my best-best friend Sherrill, to help with the slicing and dicing and general goofing off in the kitchen... She was also a great taste-tester because, as most of you know, I don't even LIKE chili!!

Well, we had a blast, because cooking with your best friend is always awesome and and I think we cooked up the BEST batch of chili EVER!
To make a long story short, we won "Best Overall Chili" and "Most Unique Chili" at the contest.
And, winning or not, it was SUCH a fun event and I hope they continue to hold this contest every year!
But, should you want to re-create the chili, here you go!
My basic "winning" recipe NOT a secret; but it feels long and complicated when I write it all down, so good luck with all these steps! And just know, I don't follow recipes well, and do a lot of taste adjustments, so if it doesn't win you any prizes, it's not my fault.


  • 3 cups dry white beans of your choice.
I used ½ small white beans and ½ Mayacoba (or “Peruano” or Canary) beans (found in the Mexican Food Section)

COOK THE BEANS AS FOLLOWS: (Credit for this bean cooking/flavor method goes to JL Fields and her book Vegan Pressure Cooking, which you really should have in your library):

  • 3 cups dry beans soaked overnight
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 cups water (or part broth)
  • 4 tsp red miso
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Rinse and drain the beans. 
In an uncovered pressure cooker, heat oil, then cook onion and maple syrup for 10 minutes until well browned but not burned. Stir frequently – if they start to stick add a bit of water – you want them caramelized

and soft, but not burned. 
When onions are done, add all remaining ingredients except soy sauce, stir and cover pressure cooker.
Bring to high pressure, cook for 10 min and then do a natural release.
Beans should mash between two fingers or on your tongue. If not soft enough, simmer a while until they are.

Stir and taste beans, if too salty, rinse JUST A LITTLE. 
If too bland, add soy sauce, bullion powder or broth to taste.
Set aside 1 cup cooked beans with some liquid.
Drain remaining (aprox) 4+ cups beans very well.

Rest of ingredients - - 

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen white corn kernels
  • 4 cups good vegetarian chicken (or vegetable) broth
*I use powdered “Seitenbacher” brand bullion powder + water, and and mix it slightly less than full strength to keep salt levels down
  • 1 13 oz. container BUENO® Autumn Roast Frozen Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles (available in New Mexico and at some Whole Foods).
(OR equivalent amount fresh roasted, peeled and chopped poblano or Hatch peppers; just don’t use canned green chiles!!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried, crushed oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 7-oz. packages Beyond Meat® Chick'n Strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ white onion, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, minced finely
  • 1 habanero pepper, minced VERY fine (ONLY if you want more heat!!)
Drain the home-cooked beans that you made above.
In crock pot or in a heavy pot on the stove, combine the 4 cups drained beans, green chile (and liquid that’s with it), corn and broth. 
The secret here is to get a broth you REALLY like, it'll make or break the end resulting flavor of your chili.
Add bay leaf and oregano and bring to simmer. 
Let simmer while preparing Beyond Meat® "Chick'n".

To prepare Beyond Meat® Chick'n:
Coarsely chop (cut strips aprox. In quarters) the strips and sautee in a bit of oil just until cooked and firmed up. Set aside, let cool a bit and then "shred" randomly with your hands or two forks. This will take a while!
Spread shredded-crumbled chick'n out on a cookie sheet and place in a low oven (250°F) for about ten - 15 min or until slightly "dried out" just a bit (NOT crispy dry!) and starting to get a bit of light toasty color. This step helps the chick'n hold it's texture in the chili and not disintegrate into mushiness.
Add chick'n to simmering beans.
Taste and add another cup of broth or water (depending on how salty it is) if too thick.
In a frying pan, add oil and then sauté bell pepper, garlic, onions, and jalapeño (and as much of the habanero you want, if using) over medium heat until soft.
When vegetables are soft, add to bean mixture and continue to simmer on medium-low for about an hour, (or longer in crockpot) checking often to make sure it doesn't stick – add water or broth if needed.

Take the remaining cup of beans that you set aside earlier and puree in VitaMix (or other blender) until very smooth, and a consistency like sour-cream (add broth as needed). Add creamy blended beans to the cooking chili mixture.
Taste and adjust flavors!
I adjust to my liking with a tiny bit of salt, pepper, lime juice, hot sauce, tamari, and/or miso. Use whatever you think it needs here.
Remove bay leaf.
Serve now, or, (PRO TIP HERE) it’s much better better if cooled overnight and reheated the next day!!
Garnish with a spoonful of Cilantro Pesto…

Jalapeño-Cilantro Pesto
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed well
  • 3 jalapeños as needed (taste them, you want SOME "heat" but adjust to your tastes)
  • juice from five limes
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seed
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
If you have time, soak the cashews and pumpkin seeds several hours or over night.
Then, blend everything in your food processor until smooth (though still slightly "grainy" is fine). Drizzle/dollop a couple teaspoons on each bowl of Chili.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vegan Whole Wheat Carrot-Cake Muffins

Wooops! I'm back. Again.
Don't mind me and my shameful lack-of-blogging... No excuses.
And it's a bummer that I haven't kept up, because I have SUCH a backlog of awesome recipes to share!!

Without further excuses or rambling though, let me just jump in with this recipe because I'm super-excited about it.

As I may have mentioned, I am NOT a breakfast-eater, but I know I SHOULD be, so I started looking for a muffin or bar recipe - something marginally healthy that I could grab and and eat on the run. Additionally I wanted it sort-of spicy and dense and "carrot-cake" like.

I didn't have a lot of luck however, for several reasons; First of all, I LOATHE bananas and it seems every vegan muffin recipe out there uses bananas.
Now, I know I can substitute applesauce, pumpkin puree or other things for the bananas, but problem number two... I am NOT a baker. So I was looking for a recipe I could make exactly as written, at least the first time I attempted.
Additionally? I am not gluten-free and (apologies to all of you who are) since my baking skills are minimal, I didn't want to attempt something with ingredients I'd never worked with before.

Finally, after finding about five recipes that seemed *almost* close enough, I chickened-out on tackling them myself (we vegans can "chicken"-out, right? That's OK, isn't it?) and I forwarded all the recipes to my long-suffering boyfriend, along with my criteria, and said "HELP ME!".
And he did, of course, because he's awesome that way! He's also a great baker and has infinitely more patience for measuring and weighing and kitchen science voodoo than I do. And he knew I hated bananas!

So he threw the recipes out, did a little mixing and stirring and measuring and tweaking - and MAGIC! Big, beautiful, dense, spicy, carrot-y muffins with NO oil, very little (or no) sugar, and lots of awesomeness! Long story short - this recipe is really his. But he said I could publish it here on my blog. So I am.
Because I think everyone should have access to awesome carrot-cake-inspired breakfast muffins!

There are *optional nuts, seeds and sugar you can add, if you prefer, it's up to you. Either way, these are super-crazy-healthy good-for-you (I know, I don't post a lot in the "wow-so-healthy" category, but these are really healthy and really good!)

One note, this recipe makes 24 muffins. Halve the recipe if you want.
There are 4 people in my house though, and these disappear quickly!!! They'll keep for at least 4 days on the counter (maybe longer? We always eat them!).
I also keep some in the freezer. Either way, they're now a breakfast staple, everyone grabs a couple, they defrost quickly and are quite filling. They're very dense and moist and even though they're oil-free, they don't dry out much. Personally I sorta like them after a few days when they've dried just a slight amount on the outside, but the interior is still soft and cake-y.

Vegan, Whole-Wheat,
 Carrot-Cake Muffins

- Dry
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

- Wet
3 medium-to-large carrots, shredded
1 1/2-inch chunk of ginger root (or less if you aren't a ginger fan), finely shredded
2 cups unsweetened (or not) applesauce
2 8 oz cans of unsweetened crushed pineapple, NOT drained
1 cup raisins
*1/2 - 1 cup pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts
*1/2 cup dried cranberries, or other finely chopped, dried fruit of choice
*3/4 cup brown sugar packed (optional, use less, or none, if you want)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Put muffin papers in standard-size muffin pan, or spray with cooking spray.

Get out two bowls: one for wet ingredients and one for the dry. 
Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk.
Shred carrots and ginger in a food processor.
Combine carrots and ginger with other wet ingredients in another bowl and mix well. 
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until ingredients are all wet, but don’t overmix. The batter is pretty thick

Fill each muffin cup almost full with the batter (it doesn't rise much). 
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until muffins are fully cooked through the center. (Check with a toothpick, they might be moist but shouldn't be gooey).

Let cool for about 15 min and then remove from pan to wire rack.
Store loosely covered at room temp. or freeze in individual ziploc baggies.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Pulled-Pork-Style" Shredded BBQ Mushroom Sandwiches

This is an oldie, but a goodie; one of my recipes that people ask for over and over...
I realize BBQ-saucy, shredded "pulled-pork-style" jackfruit is the darling of the vegan recipe world right now (and believe me, I LOVE me some jackfruit!!) but I much prefer this style sandwich with shredded .....mushrooms.
Yep. Mushrooms.

I use gigantic King Oyster Mushrooms and shred them on a mandoline slicer. (A coarse food processor shredding blade also works, you want long strands, not finely minced mushroom mush!)

This really won't work so well with other mushrooms, you're going to need the firm, but easy-to-shred, texture of the giant King Oysters.
If you've never worked with them, they're great big things - roughly the size and shape of a chicken drumstick, usually found in your local Asian Market or better-stocked grocery stores.
Seriously? Prep takes a little while, (i.e., lots of wordy directions), but follow along, I promise, it's the EASIEST way to impress non-vegans ever!

(And, they're are a great source of protein, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, dietary fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, and copper too, in case that part's important to you!)

And did I mention, they're ridiculously CHEAP!

When it's all cooked up, the texture is a little softer than chicken, but seriously, who's comparing things that closely? Even the DIE-HARD meat-lovers I know will happily gobble up an entire pan full of these!
The umami caramelized-mushroom and BBQ flavor and hearty texture ends up looking and tasting deliciously shreddy-meaty-BBQ-y.

"Pulled" Mushroom BBQ Sandwiches
4 King Oyster Mushrooms, (they're mostly a big stem - the size of a large chicken drumstick or larger (sorry for the comparison but that's what they remind me of!!)
2 Tb. vegan margarine
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 large sweet onion, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 cup water
Finely shred the mushrooms using the finest shred, matchstick or julienne blade on your Mandoline Slicer; You want toothpick-thin slices.
If you have a food processor with a feed chute and shredder blade, you can use that too.
Melt margarine in a large skillet, add shredded mushrooms, onions and salt; Saute on med-high (as high as you're comfortable with) until the mushroom and onion get bits or brown on them. Add a bit more margarine if needed so things don't burn.
Reduce heat, and cook, COVERED over medium, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release liquid and become juicy, about 10 - 15 minutes.
Continue to simmer, covered, until vegetables are soft and tender, about another 10 minutes. (Add a couple Tbsp. water if it isn't still a bit "juicy").
Stir in BBQ sauce and water, remove cover and simmer another 10 minutes or as long as needed to evaporate sauce a bit.
When sauce has thickened, turn heat to high and stir frequently/watch closely until extra moisture evaporates and mixture becomes thick and sticky.
Allow to "stick" and caramelize a bit, but scrape pan to prevent mixture from actually burning.
Serve over hot sourdough toast, burger buns (or try with a hearty, non-sweet, rustic raisin bread like I did.) Coleslaw is a nice touch here too!

Monday, April 25, 2016

"Fried-Chicken-Style" Vegan Mushroom Drumsticks

Maitake Mushrooms
I'm on a mushroom kick lately - all shapes and sizes are readily available at our local Farmer's market, Tacoma Food Co-op and many Asian markets (when I venture into the city).

Lately, I've seen beautiful pictures where fancy vegan chefs take mushrooms and make "fried-chicken-style" mushrooms, or crispy brown "mushroom drumsticks" - making us all drool on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
And I thought... "How hard can it be?"
Well. Let me tell you. It's NOT very difficult at all. (As long as you don't mind frying stuff. In oil. Hot oil.)

If you can get your hands on a bunch of mushrooms like hen-of-the-woods or small clumps of oyster mushrooms, you break them apart into pieces and batter and fry in little 'drumsticks' of mushroom deliciousness.
The results are off-the-chart (fried things + mushrooms. What's NOT to love?).
Crispy coated, with a look and 'bite' that is very much like chicken while still keeping the umami mushroom taste -  very satisfyingly "meat-y" for the omnivores in the family too.This is NOT diet food, gluten free, low sodium or oil free. (Surely you've read my blog enough to know those just aren't my focus.)

I've only made these about four times so if my directions are a bit vague, it's because the recipe is still in it's beta version. Feel free to let me know how yours turn out.
I brought leftovers to work and my co-workers genuinely FREAKED out, thinking I had jumped WAY off the vegan boat!!

"Fried-Chicken" Style 
Mushroom Drumsticks

2 lbs. mushrooms that grow in "clumps", like oyster, trumpet, maitake or hen-of-the-woods 
Dry Mix 
Mix together the following:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp "chicken-type flavor" vegan broth/bullion powder (I used Massel granules, but use whatever you have, or just use 3/4 tsp Seasoning salt)
1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika 
Wet Mix
Whiz in food processor or blender until smooth and about the consistency of ranch dressing, add a little water if needed:
1/4 cup vegan mayo (your choice, any brand)
1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk
1/4 cup water
2 tsp flax meal
1 tsp lemon juice
several dashes hot sauce 
Put Wet Mix in a deep bowl, and Dry Mix in a pie plate or flat dish.
Brush any debris from mushrooms, wipe with damp paper towel if needed.
Cut or break apart lengthwise, keeping part attached to  main stem, into small, roughly "drumstick" type pieces. (If smaller pieces fall off that's OK, they can be fried up too!).
Heat 1 inch of oil to med high (I prefer refined-flavorless coconut oil but canola oil is just fine) in a small cast iron skillet. (Any size is fine but a smaller pan uses less oil).
Dip mushroom pieces into Wet Mix until well coated, let excess drip off.
Then dredge in Dry Mix, patting a bit to get it to stick if needed.
Lay several pieces carefully in hot oil. Don't crowd pan. Working in batches, fry the mushrooms in the hot oil for about 2 to 3 minutes each side, turning occasionally with tongs, until the surfaces are golden brown. (If they brown too fast, turn heat down a little).
Remove immediately from oil and set on paper towels to drain.
Place in low oven to keep warm.
Continue with the rest of the pieces.

Serve with vegan ranch or hot sauce to dip -  or make a full on "chicken dinner" with veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy!!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mushroom "Clam Chowder"

So, supposedly it's "spring" here in the blustery Pacific Northwest, but no matter what the calendar says, it's still soup weather. And tonight, in an inspired fit of freezer-organizing, I decided to make my vegan clam chowder to use up a package of sauteed-and-frozen mushrooms I'd saved from last fall, AND make a dent in the stash of potatoes I seem to have stockpiled in my garage.

Tofu-Mom's Chowdah
(I call it that only to irritate my offspring, they tell me my accent is terrible - and it is. 
The soup's good though!!)

I wrote this down one night as I was making the recipe up, so the directions might be a bit scattered...
Follow along and it makes sense though.

1 Tbsp. margarine
1 cup chopped king oyster mushrooms (or regular white mushrooms are fine, the oyster mushrooms just have a lighter color and GREAT texture for this, and they're super cheap at Asian markets)
1 cup halved and sliced leeks
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 chopped carrots
1 tsp powdered dulse or kelp (a kind of seaweed - or use crumbled Nori)
1 tsp. smoked salt
Saute the above in a stock-pot until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Cover to steam a bit as they cook if you want, they'll cook faster.
It'll smell pretty smoky and fishy for a bit - not to fear, the finished soup is much milder!

Add these next 4 ingredients and cook at a low boil until potatoes are pretty soft - about 15+ min.

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 bay leaf
3+ cups vegetable broth (I usually do 1/2 broth and 1/2 water)
6 med red or white or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into smallish chunks,

When potatoes are very soft, remove bay leaf, mash everything a bit with a potato masher, so there's some chunks still but the potatoes are making it a bit creamy.

Stir in these next 3 ingredients and heat on low, stirring frequently, until heated thru. About 7 - 10 minutes.

1 cup soymilk
1 cup coconut milk (the kind in a can)
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (yes, cream cheese, it works, trust me)
Season to taste.
I add a splash of Tabasco, a grind of black pepper or some fresh chopped parsley or dill.
(My kids get picky about too many green flecks floating around which is why you'll see the bowl pictured is pretty free of green...).
Serve with lots of saltine crackers.
We tend to LOVE those little round "oyster crackers".

Enjoy, and have a GREAT weekend!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kale Salad With Thai Peanut Dressing

Kale seems to be the ubiquitous "vegan" ingredient found in almost everything these days. Chips, crackers, soup, smoothies. I have to admit I'm NOT a green smoothie fan but I DO love kale in salads and many other recipies!
 Kale is one of the items that comes back in my garden every spring, and I can't wait until I have enough leaves to make my first "garden" meal.

This combo is my go-to when I'm craving a super-flavorful salad or just some raw, dark greens. I love the way the curry and peanut flavors blend and mellow the bite of the kale.
This is a great recipe to get kids helping in the kitchen too, "massaging" the kale leaves is completely messy and fun!

Kale Salad with Thai-Peanut Dressing

1/3 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 inch piece ginger, shredded
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, agave nectar or honey
1 tsp. Thai curry paste* or more to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne or to taste
pinch of salt, or to taste

1 large bunch kale or as much as you want for the amount of dressing (I prefer the Tuscan kale also know as black, dinosaur, or lacinato)
1 carrot finely shredded
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 - 2 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
1 bunch green onions, sliced
sesame seeds or crushed peanuts for garnish

To make the dressing:
Whiz first nine ingredients in food processor and taste. The dressing will be thick. Add a Tablespoon or two of water if needed to make it blend smooth. Adjust taste to your preference. (I usually add a little more peanut butter and curry but go with what you like).

To make the salad:
Wash and remove the thick “stem” from the center of the kale leaves and discard. Cut the kale into thin ribbons. Place the kale in a large salad bowl and pour about 1/4 of the dressing on it.

Mix well (this part is messy) using your HANDS to "massage" or (as my kids say "smush" ) the dressing into the kale leaves for two-to-three minutes. This step breaks down the leaves and makes them nice and tender.

*Wash your hands, they'll be a mess, and then proceed*
I don't always use the entire amount of dressing on my salad, add as much as you prefer after "massaging" kale.
Add shredded carrots, cabbage, cilantro and green onions.
Stir well.
Let the salad sit for about 10 - 15 minutes... if you can stand it.
Garnish with sesame seeds or chopped peanuts.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Creamy Cashew-Garlic Alfredo

This is one of the first successful vegan recipes I "wrote", years ago when I was first struggling into veganism, It was a hit then, and it's still my family's first choice when I ask them what they want for dinner.

All my non-vegan friends love this recipe as well, and I'm pretty sure most of them don't even realize it's vegan. Some of them have been known to call me in the middle of the night, begging me to bring some to work the next day.

The sauce is great because it's simple, you probably have the ingredients in your pantry, and it was written to work in your average Target-variety food processor; that's how I've always made it.
However, I recently got a Vita-Mix and I have to tell you, *WOW* it's quite lovely for sauces like this too! I do have to double or triple the sauce to make it mix well in the larger Vita-Mix container. Not a problem...We've been enjoying a LOT of Alfredo lately!!
Use whatever machine you have, it will be delicious...

Cashew Garlic Alfredo Sauce
1/2 cup raw cashews (not roasted)
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (I don't measure, just a good squeeze)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tb. nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Pulverize raw cashews in the food processor until very fine but do NO turn them into cashew butter. 
  • Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water. (*The BEST way to do this, is to make the sauce while the pasta cooks - scoop out 1 1/2 cups of lightly salted pasta-cooking water and use it - the starch from the pasta-cooking water thickens the sauce PERFECTLY!)
  • Add water to cashews and process until smooth... this will take several minutes.
  • Add nutritional yeast (optional - I love it, but my kids prefer it without), garlic cloves, olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice.Process again until smooth, another couple minutes, it'll start to thicken a bit!
  • Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon, salt, pepper or garlic to your tastes. Makes a decadently creamy sauce! Serve over hot pasta, rice, potatoes, whatever!
This stuff is wonderfully simple and tastes SO very good. I often add sauteed mushrooms, chives, chopped olives or sundried tomatoes, depending on my mood.