Blog of the Belly Biter:

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vegan Berry Shortcakes with Lemon and Thyme Scones.

It was high time to veganize one of my favorite desserts... these yummy shortcakes. And I done gooooood! The combo of thyme and lemon with berries still floors me that it actually tastes good - but it does. And the crust the raw sugar makes on the scones is yummy!

4 cups fresh berries (21 to 22 ounces), rinsed, drained well
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups nondairy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon raw sugar
whipped cashew cream

Berries: Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until berries are slightly softened and syrup coats spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium glass bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Biscuits: Preheat the oven to 400*F. Grind the oats to a fine meal in a dry blender. Pour into a medium bowl and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Mix the milk, agave, lemon juice, lemon zest and thyme in a small bowl. Pour into the dry mixture and stir briefly with a fork, until just combined. Drop by large spoonfuls onto 2 nonstick baking sheets (or baking sheets lined with parchment paper), making 12 mounds. Smooth the tops a bit with wet fingertips. Sprinkle with raw sugar. 
Bake for about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly. 
Using serrated knife, carefully cut scones horizontally in half. Place bottom half of each biscuit on each of 6 plates. Spoon berries syrup over, dividing equally. Cover with biscuit tops. Place scoop a dollop of whipped cashew cream ontop each and serve.

***A merge of the bon appetit shortcake recipe with the oatmeal drop scones from Reversing Diabetes.

Ultimate BBQ Burger with Chipotle-Ranch Sauce.

After Shayne ate these burgers, he said, "This is probably the best burger I have ever had. Ever." Not bad coming from a chick who's only cooked meat a handful of times in the last year and a half. On the other hand - you may say that Shayne's opinion is scewed because he's a plant-based man now... but I've got family and friends that will back these babies up too!

It's a Rachael Ray... I saw it on a rerun from her show... have made and tasted them in my mouth many, many times. And just waited for the perfect time to try them. Enter Memorial Day, 4th of July and for the first dinner guests in our new house (I'm typing this up in mid-September).

They get better and better each time... I've made them 6 times now. And each time I can't believe that I made something so good.

I get more convinced, each time, that I'm going to turn them into a bean burger the next time I try them - I've already veganized the sauce.... so stay tuned.

I've always entertained with them, so I always forget to get a picture. The picture above is when we had them a couple days later as leftovers. I cute them in half, side-to-side, and broiled them to warm them up and they were just as good. Yum.

1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 pounds lean ground sirloin
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 slices cheddar cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (eyeball it)
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato, sliced
Red onion, sliced into rings
Deli-size pickles, sliced lengthwise

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, steak seasoning, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and allspice. Add the ground meat to the bowl and give everything a good mix with your hands. Press the meat down in the bowl and score it into four portions using the side of your hand. Scoop out one of the portions and shape it into a burger that's about an inch thick. Press down into the center of it with your thumb while you're shaping it to keep the burger from expanding during cooking. Shape the remaining portions to give you a total of four burgers.

Grill them or place a large skillet over medium high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Cook the burgers in the pan for 3-4 minutes on one side. When you flip them over, lay 2 slices of cheese on each burger and let it melt while the other side cooks for another 3-4 minutes (if you want to cook these guys on a grill, go right ahead! Just preheat your grill on medium-high heat, cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes on one side, then flip them and cook them 3-4 minutes on the other side with 2 slices of cheese laid down over each burger).

While the burgers are cooking, combine the buttermilk, sour cream, chipotle, adobo sauce, dill, parsley and chives in a small mixing bowl. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and reserve.

When the burgers are ready, load them up onto the toasted Kaiser buns with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and a big dollop of the chipotle-ranch sauce.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Penne with Grilled Summer Squash and Sweet Corn.

I saw this beaut in my Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine... and the picture sold me. I seriously laid it on my nightstand and would just look at it before I went to bed. Did I really just disclose that!? Anyhow... then when I remembered the cashew ricotta recipe I saw on Crysta's blog - I had to make it. 

SO good!! The flavors worked so good together... and with the creaminess of the ricotta - I just felt naughty.

1 lb. penne pasta
4 yellow summer squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.) halved crosswise and each half cut lengthwise into 2 thick slabs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn) or frozen
15 oz. cashew ricotta (almost 2 cups)
1 clove garlic, grated
2 teaspoons thyme

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, brush the squash pieces with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning once, until nicely charred, about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. 

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, corn and olive oil. Add the squash, ricotta, garlic and thyme' toss well. 

Add the pasta and stir in about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Season to taste with salt and pepper; add more cooking water as desired.

***I roasted my squash and corn because I didn't want to go out in the 100*+ weather. I lightly sprayed  them with olive oil and sprinkled the thyme on them and roasted at 450* for about 15 minutes.

Sidenote: Just now finding the link on the magazine's website to give credit where credit is due, I read the comments. Most were not in favor of this recipe... but I think with the cashew ricotta it adds SO much more flavor then just regular.

Cashew Ricotta.

I saw this cashew ricotta on my friend Crysta's blog... and totally wanted to try it - for 2 reasons. It looked good and was another new technique to making something animal based into plant based. I'm loving these little challenges. Plus, it's a Tal Ronnen recipe... so I knew it'd be good. And if it worked, it could open up the door to sooo many, now vegan, meals.

It worked. I had to wait to find the perfect recipe to try it on... and then I had to get some probiotic powder (which, I'm still needed to look for other uses for). And someday I'll work up the nerve to try the beet ravioli she used it in... the balsamic maple syrup vinaigrette looked so good.

Tal Ronnen's Cashew Ricotta Cheese
2 cups raw cashews
1 teaspoon probiotic powder (from 6 capsules - I use the All-Flora brand) dissolved in 1 cup of warm water.
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper

Put cashews in a bowl, add cold water to cover them, and refrigerate 12-14 hours. Drain and rinse them under warm water.

Place nuts in a blender with the probiotic powder and water mixture, and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a clean, glass bowl, and let sit at warm room temperature (I leave the oven light on in the closed oven) for 14-16 hours to culture.

Transfer to a medium bowl, and stir in remaining ingredients. Cheese will keep for a week under refrigeration.

Now, I'm on the search for some good ricotta recipes...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ranch Lentil Taco Salad.

I remember having taco salad growing up and my mom would mix everything in this big ole yellow Tupperware bowl to feed her family of 7. I loved to put ranch on mine... maybe that's weird, but I'm a ranch girl. So when I found the vegan ranch recipe, I knew I had to try it in the taco salad. Oh wow... SO yummy!

It's now Ava's favorite because she helps me make everything and then "plates" everyone's plate. She seriously says, "I'm ready to plate it now Mom." I love it. Maybe it's a bit too many Rachael Ray's, or Food Network Star or Master Chef's... but it's awesome. She also calls it her "birds nest" because of how she "plates" and lays out her lettuce.

romaine lettuce, chopped
tortilla chips

Taco Seasoning.

Packets of Taco Seasoning have milk products in them (whey solids) and sugar - which is totally not needed. Pus some have MSG. No good. I got this recipe from Mandy, and it totally works. It's awesome. You know what everything is... and it's not loaded with salt. It's perfect. Especially when you don't have a taco seasoning packet, but always have these spices on hand... and have a hankering for lentil tacos. Yum.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt

This is the equivalent of 1/4 cup taco seasoning, or 1 packet, or 1 recipe of lentil tacos.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vegan Ranch Dressing & Dip.

Ranch dressing was and will forever be one of my most favorite condiments. Plant-based living I had to say good-bye to Hidden Valley and was on the search for an awesome vegan one. I found it. And it's like magic. 

Magic because anything it's over, my kids eat. SO awesome. They dip all sorts of veggies in it, on baked potatoes, over lentil taco salad, regular salad... Magic, right? Mama thinks so.

1 cup vegenaise (if you haven't tried this stuff... you really should. Better then mayo and SO much better for you!)
1/4 - 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 tablespoon of parsley, dill and chives, chopped (or 1-2 teaspoons dried)

Whisk all ingredients together - except milk - until well combined.Then slowly add the milk until you get the consistency of dip or dressing you like. It will thicken some after it's chilled. (You can always add more milk too before using.) Chill and let flavors combine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Veggie Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce.

I've been meaning to try this for about forever. First dilemma, I couldn't find them - I'm blind. They're basically in every grocery store. Second dilemma, needed a good dipping sauce -- not from a jar. When I went to my friend Kelly's baby shower - her sister (Crysta) had this awesome spread of yummy food. And there were her spring rolls. I knew she'd have my back, since she's a crazy healthy eater, and so she posted it up where she got her recipe for the yummy peanut dipping sauce (lovesveggiesandyoga). These are so... sooo... sooo... SO good. 

Inside Veggies... whatever you like, I like...
carrots, julienned
cucumbers, julienned
peppers, sliced 
avocado, sliced

Averie’s 2 Minute Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup/agave nectar blend
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
1 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)

Whisk all together. (I try to chill it before I use it...just a preference.)

Soak rice paper wrappers in warm water for 15 seconds. Put on a flat surface like a cutting board. Fill with veggies and wrap up like a egg roll folding in the sides. And dip. Yum.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vegan Reeses PB Cups. aka "Hockey Pucks"

This is another from Chef AJ in her book, Unprocessed. I totally agree with her on using dates as a sweetener... it's totally my favorite. The date paste makes the filling for these so creamy and sweet. SO yummy!! And with only 5 ingredients, can't beat it.

This recipe almost made 48 mini cups... I think it was a few shy of 2 full pans of them. The original recipe in the book she has you make the filling put it in a 24 piece silicone brownie pan, freeze, and then mold the filling around it. Hence the hockey puck name. My mom made them first and didn't like the 2 different steps and waiting time. So I changed it up. I think they're much cuter!

1 cup date paste (below)
1 cup peanut butter, unsweetened and unsalted
1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup raw cacao powder/cocoa powder (or to taste)
2 cups pitted dates
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, process crust ingredients until crumbly and all nuts are broken up. Fill mini muffin tins with liners and scoop 1 tablespoon of crust in and smoosh down and up the sides to form a crust. Kinda like a mini pie mold. Finish with the rest of the cups.

Wipe out the food processor and add the filling ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy. Put in a zip-lock and cut off the tip and fill each cup.

Freeze until firm or eat now... either way? Yum....

Date Paste
1 pound of pitted dates
1 cup of liquid (water, unsweetened non-dairy milk, unsweetened juice)

Soak dates in liquid overnight or for several hours until much of the liquid is absorbed. In food processor fitted with the "S" blade, process dates and liquid until completely smooth. Store date paste in the refrigerator.