Tag Archives: Walnuts

Walnut, Mustard, and Cilantro Pasta à la American Chop Suey

22 Jan

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine made a delicious brunch that included this very simple topping of crushed walnuts and cilantro over a bed of steamed kale. I’d never had anything like it and weeks later, it’s been hard to forget it. So, I started to think of other ways to incorporate it into a meal and, one late night after work when I was too hungry to go grocery shopping and had to make do with what was already in the house, this is what I came up with. This recipe has definitely replaced my standard, too-lazy-to-cook-”pasta and sauce”-go-to and is now living comfortably next to my smoky mac and cheese recipe on the list of easy, quick, comfort meals.

I love the unique flavor of this dish, how filling it is without being overly heavy like most pasta dishes, and how easily and quickly it’s put together. The flavor isn’t overly powerful, but it’s present, if that makes sense. It’s pleasantly delicious, somewhat creamy without using cream, and sure to hit the spot if you want to make a pasta dish that isn’t your standard red sauce and grain meat and cheese variety, but is still comforting.

All the ingredients are healthy, vegan pantry basics and easily found in your standard grocery store. They are also easy to substitute for a gluten free version. Even better yet, this recipe is a two for one deal: the walnut, mustard, and cilantro mixture itself would make a nice dip for crackers, if you’re so inclined. Personally, for that purpose I’d go with a cracker that’s just a simple base–like a rice cracker–to highlight the flavor of the dip.

Enjoy!

Raw ingredients and final product!

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Homemade Stuffing with Chestnuts, Walnuts, and Fresh Herbs & Thanksgiving 2011 Recap

16 Dec

Garlic and herb mashed potatoes with mushroom, onion, and leek gravy; carnival squash stuffed with savory homemade walnut and chestnut stuffing; sweet potato casserole with maple and brown sugar pecan topping; Gardein stuffed turk'y, arugula salad with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, roasted squash seeds, grape tomatoes, and fresh heart persimmons served with an agave-lemon vinaigrette; vegetables (parsnips, carrots, butternut squash, onions, green beans) slow roasted in an apple cider, herb, and nutmeg baste; and of course, whole berry cranberry sauce.

Hello, friends! I’ve been away from the blog world for a while since Thanksgiving and the break was much needed. My family’s Thanksgiving dinner came and went with much success. As you may have picked up, my family, despite not all members being vegan, celebrates all holidays with vegan food. Thus, since I’m the most enthusiastic of cooks in my family, it falls on me to plan the menu and make it. This year, thankfully, I had the help of my mother. Usually, I’m no fun to be around in the kitchen, but she stuck with me and proved to be a much needed skilled assistant and taste tester!

I like Thanksgiving dinner because it requires very little planning. I already know what I’m going to make: potatoes, stuffing, gravy, veggies, pies, and either a homemade turkey substitute (last year it was a meatless bean meatloaf) or a prepackaged one, if the option for a good one (like Gardein not Tofurky) exists. So, it’s not the planning that worries me (unlike Christmas) but the logistics of physically carrying out a huge meal by myself or with only one other person. Especially, when I cook this meal any place but my own kitchen.

This year, I was able to make my holiday pies, Pear and Apple Pie and the Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Apricot Crust, in advance and freeze the former over two nights and prepare the latter the night before. For the record, many a warm slice of pear apple pie was had with vegan coconut based vanilla ice cream! I arrived at my mom’s house at 11 AM and began prepping around noon. I didn’t leave the kitchen once until we ate, which was around 6 PM. So as you can see, there’s been good reason for my absence on here. I’ve spent enough time in the kitchen for the rest of the year! And yet, I was back at it a week later to bake cakes, quickbreads, and brownies (for fun!) for my coworkers and friends and a birthday cake for my lovely mom. The eating never ends around here.

I’m currently in the works of coming up with ideas for our Christmas menu. Last year I made pizzas for lunch, lasagna for dinner, cookies and cheesecake for dessert, and vegan eggnog. I’m looking to simplify my life this Christmas. But a vegan pecan pie has been requested and so complexity is in order, I take it.

Anyway, back to Thanksgiving. My family was very happy to be full. The highlight of this meal was the gratitude and happiness on my non-vegan brother’s face when he realized he was eating “real food” and the grace with which he went back for seconds and thirds and then took home leftovers. My other brother, who couldn’t join us for dinner, called me the next day to tell me how blown away he was by the meal and the pies and how they succeeded in “knocking him out on the couch” as a proper Thanksgiving meal should. The hours on my feet, the back pain that ensued…it was all worth it just to hear that.

I’ve included here the recipe for my homemade stuffing. I made a similar nut-less version last year, but I think the new changes take the cake! It was definitely the most popular item this year as was, oddly enough, the impromptu salad dressing I made. I will write up the gravy dressing as soon as I get a chance, but until then, please enjoy the stuffing! Continue reading

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

18 Oct


I’m still here, still alive, still in MoFo mode. But, it’s been a tremendously busy few weeks. Moving and working full time and MoFo-ing? What was I thinking?! I think I’m still in this. I think I can, I think I can! Anyhow, I finally finished packing and after a 13 hour move out of state, I’m finally settled in and in my new kitchen. So of course after all the cleaning and organizing and attempts to find the perfect lighting for photographing food, I put myself to work on one of my favorite recipes.

My roommate’s boyfriend who works on a farm, graciously bestowed us with a bounty of winter squash. Among them, my favorite — the acorn squash. If you haven’t noticed already, I really like stuffing food into more food (stuffed peppers, stuffed pasta, stuffed apples, stuffed summer squash).  Maybe someday I’ll invent a vegan version of TurDuckEn. So of course, seeing the squash, I felt the need to stuff it. It just had to happen.

This is a recipe I first tried out last year at thanksgiving time and really enjoyed. It went over really well with my family too. It’s very easy to make, has a lot of fall flavor to it, and is very comforting. You can adjust the spices as you wish. If you want it to be more spicy, add more chili powder; more cinnamon-y, add more cinnamon. There’s really no way to make this “the wrong way.” Also, I like to play around with other ingredients. Sometimes I use raisins or dried apricots, this time, I used dates and cranberries. Usually, I like to make this with red quinoa because it looks really beautiful against the orange squash, but I had only white quinoa on hand and that worked well too. If you’re all about presentation come vegan harvest (thanksgiving), then I’d definitely go with the red!

‘Til tomorrow! Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

3 Oct

Alright, MoFo‘ers, recipe number three features the all-time Fall favorite: pumpkin. I went through hell and high water to get my hands on canned pumpkin just to make this. It begs the question, is there a shortage of pumpkin this year? The stores were wiped clean! I had to seek out this golden gem from a small, relatively unfrequented natural foods store. I know what you’re thinking. “Buy a pumpkin and make your own damned puree!” I would, but I just don’t have the patience to cut and especially peel my own pumpkin. I’m going to have to get over it if I’m going to want to make use of this fabulous gourd.

Ok, so let’s talk quickbreads! We only need to say that they’re like cake without the frosting. And for me, that’s pretty much heaven. Up until I had pumpkin bread, I didn’t think I’d ever love anything more than banana bread. I think it has to do with the fact that pumpkin spices are just crazy delicious and, at least for me, they evoke a certain sort of longing for and comfort from Autumn. I think that’s why a lot of places exploit ‘pumpkin spice this’ and ‘pumpkin spice that’ around this time of year. Doesn’t it just make you want to throw on a flannel and go for a foliage hike? Is that just a New England thing? Maybe.

Anyway, this quickbread is all sorts of fabulous. It’s easy to make, it’s moist, but not too soft and cake-like, as a quickbread should be. And it’s heavy on the pumpkin flavor (just like I like it). It also features the almighty chocolate chip, which only heightens its awesomeness by giving it a sweet chocolate crunch. I like the way the orange color and chocolate chips contrast one another — it’s very Halloween-y. This bread went over so well with my family that there was barely any left for me. My only regret is not having made two loaves!

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Nanaimo Bars

3 Jul

On July 1st, 1867 the three British Colonies to the north of the United States (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada) united to form the country we all now know and love called, Canada. On July 1st of every year, the anniversary of Canada’s birth is celebrated all over Canada in a similar fashion to how the United States celebrates their Independence from the British: food, fireworks, parades and sensational nationalism. This day, formerly known as “Dominion Day,” is now simply called, “Canada Day” or, if you’re French Canadian, “Fête du Canada.” Whatever you call it, it’s an excuse to throw a party, eat, drink, and generally be merry — even if, like me, you aren’t the tiniest bit Canadian.

Canadians are great at many, many things. Don’t ask me what those things are, though because I haven’t the slightest clue — I’m American. I’m a New Englander. We are basically raised to think that English speaking Canada isn’t really a “big deal.” But here’s what I do know about Canada: they are better at providing healthcare for their citizens, many great bands are from there, they are good at hockey even though they lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins this year. Most relatedly though, their cuisine is somewhat of a hodgepodge of the beauty of French cuisine, the drabby goodness of English cuisine, and the “whateverness” of American cuisine.

Over the past few months I have been fortunate enough to befriend some real live Canadians. Well, I mean, as “real” as one can be when they’re from Niagara Falls, which is practically upstate New York. I’m just being cheeky. Jokes about their hometowns and funny accents aside (they actually really do pronounce things properly – PS: that’s a word they seem to like to say a lot), these Canadians are pretty great and proper folks. And lucky for me, they’re all vegan! So, when I was invited to a small, impromptu gathering centered around celebrating this wonderful country’s birth with authentic persons, I gladly accepted. And I agreed to do something pretty scary — feed Canadians something Canadian. I thought, “Well as long as I center the dish around sugar, nothing can go wrong.” And so that’s what I did. I baked, rather — un-baked, because Nanaimo bars, one of Canada’s most famous desserts, don’t require baking.

I’m not sure I can tell you very much about Nanaimo bars other than that they are easy to make, fun to make, fun to eat, deliciously messy (see photos) and very hard to resist. Basically, they’re a three layer bar of glorious unapologetic indulgence. The bottom layer is a chocolate, cookie, coconut, and nut base, the middle is a layer of sweet vanilla pudding, the top is just all-out chocolate. Yeah, it’s like celebrating Canada Day in your mouth. The best part is, you don’t even have to be skilled at Canadian cuisine to make them or enjoy them and it doesn’t have to be Canada Day! I can’t really testify to much else about how amazing these bars are so, you’ll just have to make them and see for yourself! I can say this though: there were six of us and less than half were left after 5 minutes. You do the math.

Because vegan graham crackers are hard to find, I used vanilla snaps that happened to be vegan. You could use ginger snaps, but the flavor might be a bit too overpowering. I adapted this recipe from the Joy of Baking website. There is a helpful video there that walks you through the process (pronounced “PRO-cess” if you’re Canadian). Don’t be misled that this is “hard to make” because there’s a video. It’s quite the opposite. Happy un-baking! And an extended Happy Canada Day to all!

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Agave Sweetened Strawberry Banana Bread

12 Jun

It’s rare for me, but it actually happened — I had leftover bananas, too ripe to eat raw. Now, if you already couldn’t tell from all the banana-centric posts, I absolutely love bananas. I especially love it when they stealthily infiltrate traditional treats like chocolate chip cookies or brownies by way of being a replacement for eggs. This time though, I decided to be a little more traditional. And this time, the strawberries decided to foil my plans of tradition. I also decided to use agave instead of sugar. There’s no fancy reason for that other than that I am baking in someone else’s kitchen and so I didn’t have any unrefined (vegan) sugar to work with. I actually really liked it better this way because the bananas are sweet enough as it is. Sugar may have been overkill. So this is it: a sweet and tasty take on a classic — perfect for summer berry picking season.

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Blueberry Walnut Waffles

31 May

I recently acquired a vintage waffle iron courtesy of my lovely, encouraging mother. I don’t recall ever having waffles that didn’t come frozen in a box so, this is pretty exciting! This weekend my friend and I decided to put ye ol’ iron planks to good use. It was quite hilarious watching us trying to figure how to use the waffle iron to make the waffles “just right” and there were several attempts made before we finally got it right. When we did, the result was thick, toasty, delicious waffly goodness. The best part about waffles is that you can freeze them and eat them later! These are so delicious and convenient, I’ll be making a whole batch of these this weekend to take on my two week stay in Boston this month.

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