Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

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On my way back from winter break in January, I made a list of all the foods I wanted to learn to make (and blog about), and finally I’ve started to make my way through that list.  When I first heard of making mashed “potatoes” out of cauliflower, my reaction was , “Ew gross, that sounds way too healthy and doesn’t involve nearly enough potatoes.”  BUT I was wrong, guys.  I was wrong.  

Making mashed “potatoes” out of cauliflower creates a dish that does actually taste surprisingly similar to the real thing, but is much less heavy and doesn’t render you incapable of moving after you eat a huge bowl.  I used steam-in-the-bag cauliflower, but you can also be ambitious and steam an actual head of cauliflower like this person.  Also, apologies, I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of the process because I was so hungry, but you’re smart you can figure it out.

CAULIFLOWER “MASHED POTATOES”

(makes 3 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 10oz packages steam-in-the-bag cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter (you could probably use less, but I was finishing off a container)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • Salt, to taste (I used  a liberal amount…I mean, we’re already cutting out potatoes, let’s not cut out everything)

Directions

1) Microwave/steam the cauliflower according to the directions on the package (I microwaved mine for 4 minutes).

2) Dump all ingredients into a food processor while cauliflower is still hot, process until smooth.  You may need to open the lid and stir the cauliflower around a bit so that it all gets processed.  Also, if you don’t have a food processor, you could maaaaybe use a blender, but you really should get a food processor, it’s such a useful appliance.

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That’s all there is to it!  I paired mine with some seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten that can usually be found by the tofu in your grocery), mushrooms, and green peppers–about 1/3 cup of each, sauteed for 5 mins with 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Broccoli also makes a tasty side dish. Image 

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Spaghetti Squash with Cashew Alfredo

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Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite things because it is super easy to cook and is a guilt-free substitute for pasta.  Normally I am not one to refer to foods as being “guilt-free,” but I have been known to waaaaay overindulge in pasta, and spaghetti squash kinda saved me last year.  One squash typically yields at least 6 servings depending on size, and can be frozen for later consumption.  Cashew alfredo, meanwhile, is as easy to make as pesto: you just toss all the ingredients in a food processor and voila! Tasty, tasty sauce.  I adapted my sauce recipe from this website.  As you can see in the above image, I also added some sauteed spinach, tomato, and tempeh to my dish.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH

(yields about 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • One spaghetti squash (duh)
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

1) Cut your spaghetti squash in half.  This is the hardest part because those buggers are tough to saw through.

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2) Scoop out the seeds and the goopy stuff in the middle, being careful not to scoop out the harder inner flesh (this will become the “spaghetti” part once you cook it).  I may have let mine sit for a little too long after purchasing it, as the inside had started sprouting…

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I used this fancy ice cream scoop to scrape out the insides:

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3) Pour your water into a glass baking pan, and set two scooped-out halves in the pan face-up (so the round part is in the water).  I discovered that my microwave was smaller than I realized, so I had to crowd my squash into a glass pie pan.

4) Cover the pan with ceran wrap, and microwave for 10-12 minutes.  If squash is larger, you may need to add a few minutes.

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5) Remove the squash from the microwave and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes.  Once squash is cool enough to touch, use a fork to gently scrape the pulp from the sides.  It will come off in stringy, spaghetti-like pieces.  It may also help to use a second fork to hold the squash in place.

6) Toss spaghetti squash with sauce of your choice (see below!), and store the rest in a plastic container.

CASHEW ALFREDO

(yields about 2 1/2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp non-dairy butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth.

2) Toss with spaghetti squash (or other pasta)

I like my sauce a bit thicker, but if it seems too thick you can add more milk.  This sauce has a distinct, cheesy flavor and tastes quite rich.  It can be stored in the fridge for several days, and may need to be blended, reheated, or have milk added if stored overnight because it will thicken considerably as it settles.  It pairs very nicely with the spaghetti squash, or is a great way to flavor up some of those boring old vegetables hanging out in your fridge.

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Gnocchi with Pesto

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My friend sent me a picture of gnocchi that she made last week, and I decided I just had to try it.  I don’t cook Italian food that much, but potatoes in any form (except raw…) do happen to constitute one of my favorite food groups, so I thought, why not give it a whirl?  I will be honest: the process took some time, and because I’m a slob I covered my whole kitchen in flour.  BUT it was totally worth it.  And then the pesto is super simple to make, you just throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend it (process it?).  

HOMEMADE GNOCCHI

(you can adjust this recipe to make as many servings as you need. i used 4 medium-sized potatoes, which made roughly 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • Flour
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Heat potatoes until they are cooked.  You can do this the hard (but probably better) way by boiling them or baking them in the oven, or use the cop-out method like I did and stick ’em in the microwave for 12-15 minutes. It’s very important not to let any moisture get into the potato, though, so if you do boil them just be sure the skins remain intact. 

2) Wait until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm, then peel them.

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3) Mash the potatoes until they are as smooth as you can possibly make them.  Many recipes that I checked suggested using a ricer.  I do not know what that is (nor do I possess one), so I just used a potato masher, a fork, and my hands. 

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4) Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and flour.  Add in the flour GRADUALLY by the 1/4 cup and knead with your hands until the mixture forms a dough ball and isn’t crumbly/falling apart.  Meanwhile, have a large pot of water boiling on the stove.

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5) Once you think you have the correct consistency, tear off a small piece and drop it in the boiling water.  Wait about 2 minutes, and the piece should float.  Remove it from the water with a slotted spoon shortly after it floats, let it cool, and taste it.  If the gnocchi doesn’t float, falls apart, or has a chewy/gummy texture, add a bit more flour to your dough. Test again if necessary. 

6) Break off a fist-full of dough, and, on a floured surface, roll the dough into a rope about the thickness of two fingers.  

7) Cut the dough into small (about 1.5in) pieces, and form them into small balls.  I tried to get fancy and use a fork to make little indents like this person, but then to be honest I got lazy and just balled the rest of them up.  They still tasted fine. 

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8) Drop your little raw gnocchi into the boiling water, being careful not to drop them from too high up and splash boiling water on yourself like I did.  Wait about 2 minutes until they float, then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander to drain.  While the gnocchi are cooking, you can be rolling/cutting the next batch.

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9) Remove gnocchi from colander once you’re ready to remove the next batch from the water, and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Note: I did not do this, I just dropped them all into a plastic dish, and then they stuck together and it was a mess.  So learn from my mistakes and keep them separated. 

Once all your gnocchi are made, you can use them in any recipe you’d like, or freeze them for later use.  But again, freeze them on the baking sheet first and then transfer them into a dish or they will freeze into one giant gnocchi.  They tasted great sauteed with mushrooms, spinach, and a can of navy beans, and then tossed with pesto (see below). 

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HOMEMADE PESTO

(makes about 4 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (a staple in any bougie vegan diet)
  • 1 cup pine nuts (or other nuts, but pine nuts taste best I think)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor. 

2) Blend until ingredients are well-mixed, but pesto is still chunky.  Add more olive oil or some non-dairy milk if pesto is too thick.

That’s it.  Mad simple. 

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Quinoa and Bean Veggie Chili + Cornbread with Creamed Corn

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Since I can remember, my dad has complained about winters in the midwest–specifically, winter in Chicago–but I never knew what he was talking about until I experienced it myself.  It is COLD here, you guys, and this polar vortex isn’t helping.  In fact, my mom even sent me a picture from the Asheville newspaper of a man skiing down my street:

Needless to say, I don’t plan on leaving my apartment for the next three months unless I absolutely have to.  Anyway, enough about me, you’re here for the food.  I was going to make my first post a pie recipe in honor of my friend Deena, who convinced (read: demanded) me to start this blog, but I didn’t feel like making a pie so I made chili instead.   It’s warm and hearty and just what I need while I hibernate until spring comes.

When I cook, I generally just add things “to taste” (a cooking term which just means “put as much in as you like until it tastes good to you”), and the nice thing about chili (and soups/stews in general) is that you can kind of just toss in whatever you want and it usually turns out okay.  I put quinoa in mine because Pinterest told me to and because I feel like it’s one of those foods I’m supposed to be obsessed with (being a vegan and all), but you can make this recipe your own.  Add pine needles to it for all I care (don’t add pine needles though that sounds gross).

Here’s an approximation of my recipe (and again, feel free to add or subtract whatever you want):

QUINOA AND BEAN VEGGIE CHILI

(serves one person for like a week)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (I bought pre-chopped onion because I’m lazy and used about half the package)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I buy jarred garlic, also because I’m lazy, and used about a spoonfull)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 15oz cans black beans, partially drained
  • 2 15oz cans red beans, partially drained
  • 2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s ready-to-eat steamed lentils
  • 1 4oz can Trader Joe’s diced green chilies
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or use canned corn, or fresh, or none at all, whatever you want)
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water (or however much water your quinoa calls for…)
  • Whatever spices you want, to taste – I used salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder

Directions

1) Fill a pot with quinoa and water, bring to a boil

2) Once quinoa is boiling, lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is firm and all water has been absorbed.  Little white spirals will magically appear on the little quinoas.  Do NOT ignore your quinoa while it is boiling or it will boil over and you’ll make a mess:

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3) Add canola oil to a separate pot, heat on medium heat.  Once oil is hot, add onion, garlic, and bell pepper, and saute (move it around in the pan while it heats up) until onions begin to become translucent (about 5 mins).

Peppers and onions

4) Add beans, tomatoes, corn, and green chilies into the pot, mix well so that all ingredients are combined.  Be careful not to drop the cans into the chili:

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5) Add spices as you mix, tasting frequently to get the right flavor.

6) Gradually stir in the quinoa, and continue to add spices as the quinoa will soak up some of the flavor.  My pot wasn’t big enough to fit all of the quinoa, so add as much as you have room for.  Mine looked like this (please excuse weird photo quality, I was playing with the settings on my camera):

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7) Cover pot, turn heat to low, and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes (or until your cornbread is done–see below), stirring occasionally.  Make sure you stir from the bottom so that the chili heats evenly.

While your chili cooks, you can prepare your cornbread!  I used this recipe but took out a few things.  I like cornbread with creamed corn because it makes it really moist and delicious.  Sorry if you hate the word moist but there it is so let’s just move on.

CORNBREAD WITH CREAMED CORN

(yields approx 9 pieces depending on how big you cut it)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15oz can creamed corn
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I just did about 4 twists on my salt grinder)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Grease an 8×8-in baking dish with cooking spray

3) Combine almond milk and vinegar, let stand for 5 minutes.  Sometimes I’m one to skip steps and just add everything to one bowl at the same time, but this one is actually important because the vinegar will cause the milk to curdle after a few minutes:

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4) Stir in corn and oil, set aside.

5) In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until your batter is well mixed.  Mine looked like this:

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6) Pour batter into greased baking dish, place in oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.  Be careful not to get distracted by your phone when you are pouring the batter though or you’ll end up with corn all over your leggings like I did (I mean what, that never happened…).

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Once the cornbread is done, you should probably let it cool for a few minutes, but I got excited and only let it sit for like a minute.  It tasted SO GOOD with the chili.  You can garnish your chili with shredded soy cheese (I use Daiya brand), avocado, salsa, or whatever.  Enjoy!  And stay warm!!