Roasted Beets with Toasted Walnuts and Dill Vinaigrette

IMG_3979I’ve been cooking up a lot of warm and cozy comfort food at work lately and popular every winter with clients are root vegetables of all kinds. Today I made this easy, versatile beet side dish. It’s super flavorful and would be good with different menus year-round. Try it with warm, freshly roasted beets or room temp at a BBQ in the summer.

Ingredients:
• 4 large beets, about 1 pound
• 1/2 to 1 c. walnuts, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. lemon juice
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
• 6 Tbsp. olive oil
• salt and pepper
• gloves, unless you want purple hands for the next few hours

1. First order of business is roasting your beets. Preheat the oven to 400. I roast them this way all the time — to put on salads, to eat plain or with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper and for other recipes. Rinse beets. Cut off tops and tails and wrap individually in foil. If the beets are really large (bigger than a baseball) I usually cut them in half and wrap each half in foil.

Place a sheet of foil on the middle oven rack. As the beets roast, they will leak juice (especially if they are cut in half).  Do yourself a favor with the foil — nobody wants to spend the night scrubbing burnt beet juice from the bottom of the oven.

Arrange beets on foil and roast for 1 hour. Leave wrapped when they come out of the oven. I usually leave them until I’m ready to wrap up everything else that I’m cooking (so they might sit there on the counter for another hour sometimes). More on that later.

2. Place walnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they become fragrant (about 4 minutes).

3. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, dill and oil together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Time to get back to the beets. By the time you unwrap them when you’re ready to put things together the peel will usually slide right off. If they don’t, grab your trusty vegetable peeler. Slice or dice or rough chop them — what you feel like. I often go for 1-inch cubes.

5. Toss dressing, beets and walnuts together in a medium bowl and dig in!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pie

IMG_3668I have made this pie three times in the last couple of weeks and it has been universally loved by everyone from vegans to meat-eaters. Full disclosure: I actually don’t like chocolate. I know, I know. But even I had a small slice that I enjoyed. I won’t be revisiting chocolate again soon, probably, but I see the appeal… :)

This recipe is really, really fast and easy (especially if you buy a store-bought crust). Once you buy the ingredients the first time, you should have enough on hand (except for almond milk) to make several pies. I got the recipe from the lovely ladies at The Post Punk Kitchen, to whom I first turned when I started eating vegetarian about a decade ago.

This is the perfect thing to make this weekend if you want a little homemade something special for your valentine. And, really, it’s mostly almond milk — it’s practically health food! Since my Valentine has had this quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, tonight I’ll be dipping back into the archives and making what I made last year for V-Day — vegan coconut cream pie.

I took the photos the first time I made it and didn’t have any whipped cream or berries or anything on hand. It got good reviews on another night topped with strawberries.

Enjoy!

Ingredients
•  1 9-inch cookie crust, store-bought or homemade (instructions below)
• 3 c. almond milk, divided
• 1/3 c. sugar
• 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
• pinch salt
• 3 Tbsp. dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Though they don’t always have the best ingredients, it turns out store-bought crusts happen to be vegan. I’ve used a chocolate cookie crust and a graham cracker crust, as well as made my own crust. You can use any type of cookie you like. (Side note: Did you know Oreos are vegan?)

To make your own crust, use 1 3/4 c. cookie crumbs, add 4 Tbsp. oil or melted vegan butter (my preferred is Earth Balance), 3 Tbsp. sugar and 1+ almond (or other non-dairy) milk until it’s just moist enough to press into the pie plate. Pop into the oven for the 10 minutes and proceed with the recipe!

2. In a small (2-quart) saucepan, combine 1 c. almond milk with cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved — it doesn’t take long. Whisk in remaining milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. It’s OK if it’s a little clumpy at first. It will all work out eventually. At first it will have the color of chocolate milk.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Keep a close eye because once boiling you want to lower it to a slow rolling boil. If you have an electric stove, you may want to switch it to another burner you have on low or lift it off the burner for a minute as it cools so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Whisk consistently until the mixture is thickened and pudding like, 7 to 10 minutes.

IMG_3644_24. By the end it should be a darker, classic chocolate pudding shade of brown. Add chocolate chips and whisk to melt. Stir in vanilla. Pour the pudding into the pie shell and let cool for about 15 minutes on the counter, until it stops steaming like crazy.

5. To keep a skin from forming, place a circle of parchment paper over the filling. (I do this by inverting the pie plate before I start, or using the lid to the store-bought crust and tracing, then cutting). Refrigerate and let set for at least 3 hours. If you don’t have quite that much time, use a bigger pie plate/crust and it won’t be as thick and should set up a little faster.

Spotlight On: Drought Juice

I first met various James sisters at a health expo a few years ago, where I was tabling for my personal chef business, Fresh Chef Detroit and their big logo mirror for Drought struck me from across the way. Relatively new to juicing at the time, I made it a point to head over and have a chat.  We’ve continued to cross paths in the years since and they have done nothing but impress me — as sisters (who clearly work well together), women and entrepreneurs. They’re doing it right.

My family cannot get enough of their juice. We moved dangerously close to Drought’s Royal Oak location right about the time it opened.

They released a video today. Check it out, then check out their juice. (And when you do, post a picture on Instagram, tag them and hashtag it #DROUGHTout for a chance to win a free juice every Friday!)

Here’s the video, produced by Gentlemen.

Spotlight On: Door to Door Organics

IMG_2264A few years back I attended a screening of the movie May I Be Frank and Door to Door Organics had a table there. I had heard of them but never used them — the discount code I was given that night made me give it a try. I’ve used them on and off since (you can suspend your order anytime — one of the many bonuses to using them).  I’ve recently started up the service again and I’m so glad I did — it makes my Mondays so much easier!

If you’ve never heard of Door to Door, you should visit their site to see if they deliver to your area. You pick what size box you want, whether you want fruits, vegetables or a mix and how often you would like to receive a box. I used to get a small mixed box every other week. Now I get a “bitty” mixed box every week.

Here’s how it works. A few days before your delivery day, you get an e-mail with your weekly order. If there are things on there you don’t like or know you won’t use, you can swap them out! You can also add all kinds of things to your order in addition to produce, including items from local bakeries and businesses, meats (if you’re into that kind of thing), fish, dairy, crackers,  Almond milk and so much more.

The website has recipes that are really helpful and they regularly have little coloring contests for kids and other fun things they do. Customer service is amazing. When I was pregnant I went through a mango phase. My box showed up and my mangoes were all brown and funky inside. Not only did they immediately e-mail me back when I contacted them, they threw an extra mango in my next box for good measure.

I know it sounds like they must be paying me, so I must say I have zero affiliation with them other than being a customer. It’s just a solid business that makes my life so, so much easier. My box comes on Monday. I have until noon Sunday to add to or change my order so I just try to brainstorm about what I want to make for dinner before then. I scrape by eating whatever we have at home on Saturday and Sunday (and avoid the dreaded weekend grocery store trip!) knowing I can get any essentials I need on Monday from Door to Door. So, tomorrow I will put out last week’s empty box and wait for it to get swapped out with a full one.

I mention them often in my posts and photos so I thought I would explain for anyone who may not be familiar. As a current customer, I can send you a code for $15 off your first box! Send me a message via my Facebook page (HERE) with your e-mail address and I’ll have a code sent to you ASAP. Have a good week!

Vegan Corn and Black Bean Cakes

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Every once in a while, the stars align — I get a recipe in my Inbox I think the whole family might enjoy and I happen to have all the ingredients. That happened recently with my weekly e-mail from Forks Over Knives. If you’ve never seen it, FOK is a documentary examining the belief that eliminating animal-based and processed foods from your diet can control or reverse most, if not all, degenerative diseases. Even if you don’t want to jump in 100 percent to a vegan diet, it’s a great film that might help you make better choices from time to time.

I have no idea if this recipe is in the FOK cookbook, which remains packed up in my garage, where it’s been since I moved to a new home four months ago. Yet another reason I’m glad I took the time to open this e-mail.  I’ve really enjoyed the recipes I’ve made from the book (including this Cheesy Baked Ziti I posted a year and a half ago) and will definitely make this one again.

Next time I think I’ll jazz it up a bit — more spices and maybe even a diced fresh jalapeño. The original recipe has zero spices in it. I try not to mess with other people’s recipes too much until I’ve tried them, but I saw the blandness coming. I put just a dash of a few spices in. Next time, I’ll start with 1/2 teaspoon of each and likely go up from there. I’ll include them in the ingredient list below. Also, I’m sure you could easily substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour in this and it would turn out just fine.

We topped ours with salsa and a little avocado. Next time I think I’ll definitely pick up some vegan sour cream. I served it with spiced roasted sweet and russet potatoes.

Ingredients
• 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/2 c. cornmeal (I used a finely ground cornmeal)
• 1 Tbsp. aluminum-free baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 c. unsweetened, unflavored plant milk (I used almond)
• 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce (next time I might add a little more to try to moisten it up a little)
• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
• 1 10 oz. package frozen corn kernels, thawed
• 1 c. cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
• 6 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced (I only had two…)
• 1/2 tsp. each cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic powder
• sour cream, salsa, guacamole or avocado for serving
• chopped cilantro for serving, optional

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. I was roasting the potatoes, so I didn’t do this. Since you can only fit 2-3 cakes on the griddle at once (they are large) it might have been nice to keep them warm in the oven until we all sat down to eat. Really, wasn’t a deal-breaker though.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and spices until well combined.

3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, applesauce, pepper, corn, beans and onions. Gently fold the ingredients together until just incorporated. Don’t over mix.

4. Heat a griddle or large nonstick pan over medium heat until a few droplets of water jump in the pan and sizzle. You can always use oil, etc., but it’s really unnecessary if you have a nonstick pan. The key is to not touch them once added for a few minutes and you’ll be fine!

5. Spoon 1/2 c. of batter for each cake onto the pan, making sure they don’t touch each other. Cook until the undersides are crisp and they can be flipped easily without falling apart — about 4 minutes.

6. Using a spatula, turn the cakes over and cook until the other side is lightly browned and crisp — about 4 more minutes. The cakes are quite thick — I patted mine down a little, though I don’t know if it was necessary.

7. Transfer to an oven-proof platter or pan and keep warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve. Top with whatever you like and enjoy!

Vegan Hollandaise

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Hollandaise sauce has been a bit of a vegan kryptonite for me. I love it. I grew up eating it on asparagus and I’ve been known to eat just that for dinner in the summer when asparagus is at its best. My veg honeymoon (You can read Part 1 HERE. Sadly, Part 2 is yet to be written. Soon!) included a stay at Stanford Inn vegan resort in Mendocino, CA, where I had two amazing vegan meals each day. More than once this included vegan Hollandaise and I decided it was time I find a version I like.

Well, it took two and a half years, but here you go. I’ve been making this version, from Vegetarian Times, for a few weeks now. I’ve made various versions of tofu benedicts and paired it with tofu and capers as part of an entrée. The original recipe calls for 1/2 c. silken tofu, but I triple it, which uses one whole package of it, then use it throughout the week. I’ve got a new addiction and I love that instead of eating butter and egg yolks, it’s tofu and other healthier deliciousness.

Ingredients
• 1 16 oz. package silken tofu
• 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (the sauce gets a little spicier as the week goes on!)
• 3/8 tsp. turmeric
• 6 Tbsp. oil (original recipe calls for corn oil, I’ve used olive and grapeseed)

I make it a little differently than the original recipe called for. Puree the tofu until smooth in the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients except oil and puree, drizzling in the oil as it’s running.

Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over low/simmer until it’s just warmed through and serve. Enjoy!

TLAT — My New Favorite Sandwich


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I LOVE the TLT at Om Cafe in Ferndale (and now Traverse City too!). I developed a bread/sandwich thing while pregnant and certain aspects of it have not yet left me. I still crave that sandwich regularly, but haven’t had it in several weeks.

Today I got the babe down for a nap and found myself starving — I only had juice I made this morning. What I really wanted was that TLT. Then I realized, I had the ingredients to make a pretty good rip-off myself.

I started with organic tempeh. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a bunch of fermented soybeans smashed together into a brick. It’s really high in both fiber and protein and also has good amounts of iron and calcium.

I started by cutting the brick in half, then cutting each half into three thin slices. I browned the slices in a sauté pan in a little bit of oil and seasoned them with Miracle Blend from Michigan’s own Alden Mill House.

sandwichI popped a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and sliced a small tomato and an avocado. My favorite method for that is to cut the avocado into two halves, use your knife to make slices while still in the shell, then use a large spoon to scoop them all out at once.

I grabbed my Organic Girl 50/50 blend and a jar of Follow Your Heart Pesto Vegenaise I picked up a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t tried yet.

In about 5 minutes, I built this sandwich and I have to say — DELICIOUS. This will definitely be a go-to when I’m having a TLT craving. Don’t worry, OM. I’m still your biggest fan.