Blog of the Belly Biter:

Some plant-based, some unhealthy, some super healthy but ALL good. Kid tested and mother approved!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Texas Governor's Mansion Sweet Potato Muffins.

I actually remember the very first time my Mom made these muffins. I was home from college, sitting on the bench at the kitchen table in our old house, entranced by the smell of these things... bit into it and thought... I told her they were awesome and she said she found the recipe in the paper and they were served at the Texas Governor's Mansion. If they were good enough for George W., they were good enough for me. I think I ate 4 of them. Good thing my brothers weren't there and there were 4 to be had.

I thought about them the other day and was bummed that the original recipe called for buttermilk, egg and oil. That didn't discourage when I remembered how I can sour even soy or almond milk with a little bit of apple cider (or lemon juice) like I do in Our Favorite Cupcakes. The egg I have already experimented on with flaxseed. I did use coconut oil, because of all my reading with GreenSmoothieGirl.

Now it is on.

They were amazing... and really took me back to that kitchen bench. Yum. You don't have to love sweet potatoes to think these are awesome. Even Shayne liked them - and he hates sweet potatoes. (Although I think I'm slowly breaking him of that hatred)

I did all my calculations doubling the batch. Just do it and freeze half. There's nothing like pulling out some already to eat muffins out of the freezer for a snack, lunches or another dinner.

4 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cloves
2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons water
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
4 cups sweet potato, shredded & lightly packed

Preheat oven to 350*.

Sift in a bowl together the flour, baking powder (4 teaspoons), baking soda, salt and cloves. Set aside.

In a small measuring cup combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl mix and let congeal the flax meal, baking powder and water.

Add all wet ingredients; milk mixture, flax mixture, maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut oil and applesauce. Combine with dry ingredients and fold in the shredded sweet potatoes.

Fill in lightly sprayed muffin tins and bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Make sure they're cooked through by inserting a fork. I like it better then a toothpick because there's more prongs so it tests more of it :). Without any egg, it takes a little longer for them to set. Cool in tins.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Dried-Cherry Vinaigrette.

snagged from bon
This recipe was in the Thanksgiving issue of my Bon Appetit magazine. I was in charge of a side for the big day and figured I'd give it a try, along with the maple-braised butternut squash with fresh thyme. I know they say not to try new recipes for such a big day... but after looking at the ingredients and making it in my mouth... I knew they'd both be awesome. And they were. They're both super easy and super healthy.

The very first time I make a recipe I follow it exactly, then as I make it more often I play with it a bit. What's here is the exact and in parenthesis is my additions. It's so easy and so, so yummy.

By-the-way, can I just say how much I love bon appetit? When I first got into cooking Shayne got me a subscription. I thought it was mighty sweet and very ambitious of him to do so. But he had more faith in me then I had in myself at that time... and I'm glad he did. I never thought that I would have actually cooked stuff out of it... I just thought it'd be some good eye candy for me. So, thanks Babe - for believing in me!

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup... and next time I'll try my oil-free substitute)
1/3 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint {omit!! I save mint for my gum}
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar (agave nectar)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus additional for sprinkling
1/3 cup dried tart cherries (craisins are just as good in this)
1 1/2 pounds trimmed slender green beans
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Whisk first 6 ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Mix in dried cherries; set aside. (I like to blend in my blender so it's more of a dressing and I don't have chunks of cherries/craisins) DO AHEAD Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature; rewhisk before using.

Fill large bowl with water and ice; set aside. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. (I do it for 5-8 minutes since I don't really like my beans crispy) [For crisp-tender vegetables, boil them quickly, then dump them into a bowl of ice water. The rapid boil cooks the veggies just enough; the ice water stops the cooking and intensifies the color of the vegetables.] Drain. Transfer to bowl with ice water; cool. Drain. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in paper towels; enclose in resealable plastic bag and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Toss green beans, walnuts, and vinaigrette in large bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Transfer to platter and serve.

Maple-Braised Butternut Squash with Fresh Thyme.

snagged from
Here's my other new fave that I discovered for Thanksgiving dinner from bon appetit. The flavors are so yummy together. The 3 stores I went to were out of fresh thyme so I had to use dried and it was really good still! Yeah for dried herbs.

3 tablespoons earth balance "butter"
1 3 - 3 1/2 pound butternut squash, cut lengthwise in half, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (or more) black pepper

Melt earth balance in heavy large deep skillet over high heat. Add squash; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, syrup, thyme, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until squash is almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer squash to large bowl. Boil liquid in skillet until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Return squash to skillet. Cook until tender, turning occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with more pepper, if desired.

THE TECHNIQUE: BRAISING: sautéing, then cooking low and slow in a bit of liquid) is most often associated with meat, but it's also a great way to cook veggies. Fibrous vegetables like butternut squash are the perfect candidate for braining. The braising liquid infuses the squash with flavor and makes it very tender.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mexican Millet.

We love this, Shayne loves this, and use as a side for fajitas, sweet potato black bean burritos or any other latin flared dish. Easy and I love using different grains.

1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup millet
1 small yellow onion, diced finely
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup finely diced tomatoes, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
freshly squeezed lime juice, for garnish

Heat the a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and steam-fry the garlic - about 1 minute. Add the onion and jalapeno, and fry, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and slightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. dd the millet, stir to coat, and saute for 4 to 6 minutes, until the millet is lightly golden. Pour in the vegetable broth and add the tomato paste, salt, cumin, and diced fresh tomato.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stir once, and cover. Lower the heat to low and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit, covered, for 0 minutes, then sprinkle with copped cilantro and fluff the millet with fork. Garnish each serving with a little fresh lime juice and diced tomato, if desired.

{{The original recipe calls for using 2 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil to fry the garlic, onion and jalapeno in.}}

page 118
serves 4
time: 45 minutes

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Garden Bounty Tortilla Soup.

I got this recipe from Jami, who got it from her Peacocks on My Porch cookbook (read this if you're interested in what the name means... a clue: I loved it being the wife of a cyclist and somewhat of a cyclist myself). And I just veganized it. I love all the vegetables in here... but didn't quite understand why it was tortilla soup (maybe I copied it down wrong). Either way, next time I'm going to do the crisping and pureeing of the corn tortillas like I did in Brooke's soup next time (and probably take out the potatoes). I just love that flavor in the back of it. It's got a pretty sweet kick to it too, which Shayne loved.

8 cups vegetable broth
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2-4 potatoes, peeled and dice
1 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoon canned chipotle in adobo (sliced)
1 teaspoon jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced
1 can corn, drained
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
garnish: avocado, limes & toritlla strips

In a large stockpot over high heat, combine broth, onion, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, chipotle in adobo, jalapeno, oregano and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. 

Add the salt and white pepper, zucchini, squash, bell peppers and corn. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cilantro, lime and orange juice. Stir well and remove from heat. Garnish with fried tortilla strips, diced avocados, and lime wedges if desired.

If you don't like things very spicy, go easy on the jalapeno’s and chipotle peppers. If you find this out after making it - just add more broth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies.

Love these cookies I adapted from Veganomicon. I made the already vegan cookies into naturally sweetened ones and used the healthier coconut oil instead of canola and swapped out most the white flour for whole wheat. Love the texture of the raspberry seeds in the soft cookie.

1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1/2 cup maple sugar (or 1 cup sugar)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (sift if clumpy)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350*. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the raspberry preserves, sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract.

In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the other ingredients. Add the dry to the wet in three batches, mixing well with a fork after each addition. When you get to the last batch, you may need to use your hands to work the batter into a soft and pliable dough.

Roll the dough into walnut-size balls and then flatten them with your hands into 2 1/2-inch-diameter disks. Place on cookie sheet (they need be only 1/2 inch apart because they don't spread out when baking). Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

adapted from Veganomicon
page 234
makes 2 dozen
time: 35 minutes

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Artichoke Pesto Pasta

I made this for the first time back in May (which feels like worlds away with how far I've come on all this foodstyle thing)... and have revamped it a couple of times. Every time it got better and better. Because my kids weren't big fans of eating the actual artichokes, I now puree them, and it turns them into this thick, cream-like stuff. Yum. Which has made this amazing pasta even yummier because now it's just full of yummy, creamy goodness. One of my most favorite recipes - by far.

Other then the taste, it's also my favorite because it's amazingly easy too. When I make it, I always double the pesto and freeze half of it. It's the best on-hand meal you could have on your shelf (artichokes) and in your freezer (pesto). Yum.

1/2 pound spinach or whole wheat pasta1 medium-size red onion, sliced into thin half-moons
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white grape juice, veggie broth, or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Basil-Cilantro Pesto (see below)
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and pureed

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Once you've added the pasta to the water, proceed with the recipe.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and steam-fry the onion until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Puree in blender the rinsed artichokes. Add the garlic to the skillet and saute for a minute more. Add the white grape juice, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute or two. Lower the heat to low. At this point, the linguine should be done.

When the pasta is ready, don't drain it. Use a pasta spoon to transfer it to the pan in batches. This is a good method because you can use the pasta water to thin out the pesto and make sure that everything gets evenly coated. When you add one batch, add a bit of the pesto, too, and using the pasta spoon, saute to coat. Proceed with the rest of the pasta and pesto until you've added all of it. Stir in the artichoke heart puree. If it seems dry, add extra splashes of pasta water.

Cook gently over low heat just until all is heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately!

adapted from Veganomicon
page 191
serves 4
cook time: 35 minutes

Basil-Cilantro Pesto

In the book they say this is their "cheapskate" pesto because they're using a cheaper nut, almonds, instead of the traditional pine nuts. I guess "cheapskate" translates to awesome in my book, because that's what this stuff was... awesome! I could eat it by the spoonful. And with using my fat-free oil substitute instead of oil - I could... and did...
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1/3 cup slivered  or sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fat-free oil substitute

Place the basil, cilantro, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and blend until pasty, scraping down the sides occasionally. With the food processor on, slowly drizzle in the oil substitute. Blend until relatively smooth and no large chunks of almonds are left. If you don't have a food processor and are using a blender (i did this so i didn't have to get out the big food processor), then just add the olive oil at the end, since many blenders aren't equipped with and opening to drizzle into.
Veganomicon, pg 214
makes about 1 cup
time: 10 minutes