Macinsquash.

12 Mar

There is a restaurant near me that I’ve been to a couple times who serves a “cheeseless” mac ‘n cheese. They are by no means a vegan restaurant – not even vegetarian – but this dish seems to be a staple and a favorite among many.  Not surprisingly, because it is DELICIOUS.  Recently, I decided I wanted to try and recreate it.  All I knew was that it contained butternut squash… and pasta… so, I briefly browsed through recipes online for vegan mac ‘n cheese, to see what people were using to give it the “cheese-like” consistency.  I came to two conclusions: nutritional yeast, and daiya vegan cheese.  Ugh.  Since I refuse to use overly processed vegan “cheese”, and something about nutritional yeast weirds me out… maybe it’s the name, maybe I should start calling it by it’s ethiopian name “yeshi”… or maybe I should just (wo)man up and use it… but either way, the point is I didn’t want to use it in this recipe.  So, off to my own drawing board!

I just decided to wing it, and see what would come of it!

….first step, roast the squash!

Since I was making this dish vegan, I used almond milk (hoping it would give a little nutty creamy flavor), and thickened it with arrowroot powder, adding a little turmeric for color (and anti-inflammatory benefit!).  Onions and garlic? sure… might add a nice touch…I suppose I’ll sauté those together…  now it’s time to turn to my ever-so-handy cuisinart and blend everything into oblivion. tasty oblivion.  cook pasta. mix together. bake….. voila!

Ok ok, but let’s back up, and go over those ingredients and process in list form :)  Also, you can totally still add cheese if you just want a healthier mac ‘n cheese and don’t need/want this to be vegan.  I tried it both ways, one dish as just the squash mixture, and the other I added sharp cheddar cheese. Both were really good! Have fun with it, adjust the ingredients to your own taste, if you wish. Also, this recipe is gluten free if you use a gluten free pasta!!

Ingredients:

makes an 8×14″ baking pan, 6-8 servings

  • 16 oz pasta of your choice (I like shells! and next time I will use quinoa pasta…gluten free!!)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 3 cups, once roasted/mashed)
  • 1-1/2 + cup unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • +/- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional, if you don’t want it vegan)

Process:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F, cut squash in half, remove seeds, brush lightly with olive oil, and roast for 40 minutes or until done (should be very soft). You can also peel the squash and cut into cubes, and roast the cubes if you are short on time (they’ll roast faster).
  2. Spoon the squash out of the peel (unless you peeled it and cubed it already), discard the peel. You should get somewhere between 2 and 3 cups of squash mash. Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta, set aside when done.
  4. While the squash and pasta are cooking, dice the 1/4 onion and garlic.  Saute onion and garlic together with a little olive oil for 5 or 10 minutes until onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups almond milk to a simmer (not boiling), add arrowroot powder and turmeric.  Stir continuously until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Now, hopefully you have a cuisinart! If not, you can do this in a blender.  Throw everything you just made into the cuisenart MINUS the pasta. The squash, the onion/garlic, and the almond milk mixture. Blend it all together, scraping down the sides to make sure everything fully incorporates together.  Now is the time you have to use your judgement…. you might need to add a little more almond milk if the mixture seems too thick (this will all depend on how much squash you got out of your squash), so add almond milk and keep blending until the mixture is more like the consistency of yogurt.  Also, add salt to taste! I probably added about 2 teaspoons.. but I didn’t measure. Just add a little, blend, taste, add more if needed.. repeat.
  7. When your mixture is satisfactory to you, put the pasta into a big mixing bowl, and pour the squash mixture over it. mix mix mix! Now’s the time to add cheese if you are going to.
  8. Spoon the mixture evenly into a 8×14 baking dish (or similar), and bake for 30 or so minutes at 375 F, until the top starts to brown a little. Remove from oven, and serve right away! Enjoy!!
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Cranberry Walnut Flax Biscotti

7 Mar

Biscotti are so versatile. They can be made with almost any of your choice ingredients… a couple of combinations I’ve been thinking about doing next are apricot+almond, pistachio+chocolate, plum+cashew, chocolate+espresso… mmmm so simple, yet so delicious.  This recipe in particular is packed full of tasty healthy ingredients.. I originally set out to do just plain cranberries and walnuts, but at the last minute… I got crazy.  Not only did I decide to throw in golden flax seeds, I also threw in poppy seeds and chia seeds! yum yum yum.. I love chia. It’s incredible to me that so many nutrients can be packed into such a tiny seed…

My intention was to half dip these in dark chocolate after they baked, but they disappeared too fast! Maybe the next batch….

Anyways, no matter what ingredients you decide to throw in, stick to the base recipe, and you’ll be set! I came up with this recipe because I wanted a lower fat (or, should I say, one that contains only healthy monounsaturated fat), less guilt biscotti recipe that was still delicious, of course! Plus, lots of omegas. I love omegas. Enjoy them crunchy, or coffee dipped!

Ingredients:

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 to 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup lightly chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp poppyseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seed
  • 2 tbsp flax seed (whole, not flaxseed meal)

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder; then gradually stir into egg mixture.
  4. Mix in cranberries and nuts and seeds (you might have to use your hands).
  5. Divide dough in half. Form two logs (about 12×2 inches) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, and flatten the logs slightly. (Dough might be sticky, you can wet your hands with cool water to handle dough more easily if you need to).
  6. Bake for 35 minutes at 300 F, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes (cooling is important, it helps keep them from crumbling when you cut them). Reduce oven heat to 275 F.
  7. After cooled for about 10 mins, cut logs on a diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry.
  8. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Peach Ricotta Soufflé

4 Mar

The other morning I decided I wanted to try and re-create a recipe that I had come across a while back… though the problem was, I couldn’t remember for the life of me where I found that recipe, nor could I remember exactly what was in it.. all I knew was it had ricotta.  SO, I went to the drawing board… err… kitchen… yesterday morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, and started whipping together some eggs, ricotta, a little agave syrup, folded in some whipped egg whites, threw some cubed peaches on top and stuck it in the oven. Fast, simple, only 4 ingredients plus a peach (or whatever berries are in season). It couldn’t not be good… I mean, I was basically making a soufflé.  Well what I found out when I stuck my fork in and took a bite, was that it was definitely not the recipe I was trying to recreate… but it was TOTALLY delicious! So even through a “failed” attempt, I came out on the other side with a new recipe to share. It’s healthy, not too sweet, fluffy, and the bottom even has an almost flan-like texture (I think because some of the agave sank to the bottom and settled as it baked).  Needless to say – pretty amazing. :)

Ingredients:

Makes about 4 servings (8″x8″ pan)

  • 3 eggs (2 whole, 1 separated)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (I used skim)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup (maple syrup or honey would work, too)
  • 1 peach

Process:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat two eggs, ricotta, vanilla and agave together in a small mixing bowl, set aside
  3. Cut up peach, set aside
  4. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat just the egg white of the 3rd egg (discard the yolk) until it forms soft peaks. After you’ve accomplished soft peaks, right away pour the egg white into the ricotta mixture, and gently fold it in with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is just barely fully incorporated (don’t over do it).
  5. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 cake pan, sprinkle the peaches over the top, and place in the oven.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center feels like it’s set (should be soft but slightly springy, and the edges will have puffed up and started to brown). Remove from oven and serve hot! You can drizzle a little maple syrup over the top if you like things on the sweeter side. Enjoy!

 

No-Knead Roasted Garlic Olive Bread

3 Mar

One of my favorite parts of bread making is getting your hands dirty (and by dirty, I mean covered in doughy goodness).  BUT, there comes a time when you want to just mix some ingredients together with a spoon, forget about them, come back a day later and put the bowl in the oven. BAM. Bread.  This, my friend, is where no-knead bread comes in handy! Not to mention it’s delicious, and has great texture. Like most breads, make sure you think ahead… this bread needs to rest for at least 14 hours, but I let mine rest for about 20.  You can keep the bread plain and simple by not adding olives or roasted garlic, but I just love olive bread… and add roasted garlic to the mix? yum.

After it’s been resting/rising for about 15 hours (now you have to touch it for the first time.. oooooo ahhhh)

 Fresh out of the oven!

crunchy crisp crust, soft fluffy insides!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 heads of garlic (depending how garlicky you like things)
  • Olive oil for the garlic roasting
  • 3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups cool water

Note: It really helps to have a cast iron pot (about 9″-12″ diameter, at least 10″ tall), with a lid.  …if you don’t, you can bake your loaf on a baking sheet BUT, you will need to create steam in your oven – you can do this by adding a cup of water to a baking pan and putting it on the floor of your oven, right as you put your bread in the oven.

Process:

  1. Break up the heads of garlic and peal the cloves. Toss them with olive oil in a bowl and make sure they are each thoroughly coated, then put the cloves in a baking pan and into the oven at 375 F for about 20-30 minutes, or until slightly browned (not burnt) and soft but not super mushy. Remove the garlic from the oven when done and set it aside to cool.
  2. Roughly chop the olives and make sure none of them have pits (If you’re using canned olives, drain them and lightly pat them dry first).
  3. Mix the yeast, flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Toss in the olives and garlic (make sure it’s cooled a bit), then the water and mix it all together using a large spoon (I used my hands).  After a minute or so of mixing, you should have a fairly wet but thoroughly combined dough.
  4. Leaving it in the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with a cloth or towel and let it sit at room temperature for 14-18 hours (more won’t hurt, though). After it’s sat, it should have expanded quite a bit and look a little bubbly.
  5. Now, scrape your dough out of the bowl onto a well floured surface and fold it just a few times, adding more flour to the surface if it gets sticky. Don’t fold it too much, and don’t add too much flour… you want to add just enough that you can pick it up without it sticking to your hands.
  6. Form the dough into a ball (doesn’t have to be perfect), and place it seam side down onto a large piece of parchment paper and place it back into the mixing bowl.  Cover it again, and let it sit for 2 – 6 hours to let it proof. The longer it sits, the bigger it gets! It’s allliiiiiiiveee!  The parchment paper isn’t mandatory, but I find that it helps..
  7. After your bread has been resting and proofing for at least 2 hours, preheat your oven to 500 F (yes, HOT!).  Transfer the dough to the pot, by picking up the four corners of the parchment paper and placing it in the pot (don’t worry, the paper won’t burn, and it will ensure the bread doesn’t stick in the pot).
  8. Place the pot into the oven and make sure you PLACE THE LID on the pot.  Cook with the lid on for 30 minutes, then remove the lid (be careful of escaping steam! it will burn you!) and cook for another 20 or so minutes without the lid on until the crust is a deep brown color. You can tap the bread with your fingernail to test it, it should make a hollow sound when it’s done.
  9. Lift it out of the pot by grabbing the parchment paper corners, let it cool, and then slice and enjoy!!

Sweet Cornbread

1 Mar

It’s been almost a year since my last post… I guess you could say I got lazy… I’ve still been a baking/cooking machine, but I just haven’t posted anything on ChowVida. Sad.  Needless to say – I missed it.  So I’m welcoming myself back :)  I will try to be better about keeping up with my postings, but to start… a year off blogging means a year of backlogged recipes I need to post!! Ahhh!!! I definitely didn’t keep track of them all, but I will start by posting the winners that stick out in my mind…. and will kick off with a delicious (yet slightly altered) staple – CORNBREAD! yum yum yum.

How can you not like cornbread? Whether it’s slightly savory with a hearty veggie chili, or on the sweeter side slathered with honey… it’s just mouthwatering.  These fluffy muffins have fresh sweet white corn in them, which really makes them stand out. I also decided to add a little more cornmeal than usual, because I prefer my cornbread to have that very soft grittyness of the cornmeal, rather than tasting like it’s just flour based.  I always use grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil because it has a mild flavor, but is much healthier than the latter… and high in omegas! The best part? these muffins are SUPER easy to make… throw all the ingredients in just one bowl??  yes please!!!  Also, you could easily make them in bread form, rather than muffin, or reduce the sugar and add some chives or dill to make them more savory.  Yum.

Ingredients:

(yields ~12 muffins, or one 9″ cake pan)

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (medium grind)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 ear of fresh white corn

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch cake pan or muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and grapeseed oil until well combined. Shave kernels off the raw ear of white corn with a sharp knife and gently but thoroughly mix into the batter (no need to cook the corn!).  Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, (less if making muffins, 10-15 mins) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. It won’t brown much at all on top, so keep an eye on them and make sure you take them out before they start to brown too much.  Let cool, and enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

17 Mar

Not in a million years would you guess this cake was vegan AND healthy!! Nor will anyone you feed it to. It’s so moist and chocolatey, fluffy but not cakey… I’m not usually a fan of cakes, but this one… amazing.  I’ve fed it to vegans and non vegans alike and everyone gives rave reviews.  It’s excellent served with ice cream when it’s right out of the oven (well, coconut bliss ice cream for the vegans).  Frosting, strawberries, fruit compote… all would go wonderfully.  It has become my staple, go-to cake recipe, and I can’t wait to try different variations on it! Stay tuned :) Alex

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (olive oil works too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp apple vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Process:

    1. Heat oven to 375 F
    2. Sift together all dry ingredients except the sugar and chocolate chips (sifting is important).
    3. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil and other wet ingredients. Blend until well combined and no sugar chunks appear.
    4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and stir well until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
    5. Pour into a greased cake pan (I like to use a 9″ springform bundt cake pan, but a simple 8″x8″ pan works fine too), and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until done. Check often after 20 minutes by inserting a knife and seeing if it comes out clean. Clean means done! Don’t overcook it or it will become dry.
    6. Enjoy!

Makes one cake, serves about 10-12

 

Beer Bread

16 Feb

Traditionally done with fontina cheese, I thought this recipe was lost to me until I discovered a sheep cheese (pecorino primosale) that I enjoyed in its stead. Guinness stout is my beer of choice, but an amber ale might also be nice! ~ Paula

ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 cup flour (all-purpose is fine)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sale
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 (12 oz) bottle of beer
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

process:

  1. Preheat oven to 375; grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add onions and saute until tender (about 6 minutes); set aside and cool
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl, making a well in the center
  4. Add cooled onions, cheese and beer; stir until moist
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan
  6. Drizzle with half the butter, bake 35 minutes
  7. Drizzle with remaining butter and return to oven for 20 minutes (this is a good time to rotate the pan for even baking) or until a toothpick comes out clean
  8. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes; remove from pan to complete cooling