Category Archives: Meatless

Breadcrumb Alternatives – GF, Healthier Complex Carbs

When I started this blog, I had hoped to help people know that they are perfectly capable of cooking and entertaining,but to also help those faced with family and friends who need special diets. I was not aware of how many of my own recipes called for breadcrumbs, how many people need to go gluten-free,(including one of my sons), and how easy it is to add complex carbs and protein to recipes by using alternatives to breadcrumbs.

Grains and legumes also turn some vegetable sides into vegetarian or vegan entrees.
Grains can be very pricey at the grocery store. I suggest that you look for these in bulk, which can be less expensive in some stores, in bags at international markets or online. If buying online, read the lowest reviews, not just the ratings. There are great deals out there, but the quality can vary. A low price is not a bargain if the product is inferior.

When cooking the foods listed below to semi-soft, place the grains/chickpeas in a crockpot, place in a covered pot and bake, or cook simmering on the stovetop with more water, testing for the degree of doneness you need. Use less water than you would do to cook them completely soft. Normally most would call for 3 parts water to 1 part dried item. Err on the side of caution and start with equal parts water and legume or grain. If they are too hard when the water is gone, you can always add a a bit more and cook it longer.
(On the stovetop, you’ll need more water for evaporation, less if you keep a lid on the pot.)

To substitute grains for breadcrumbs is easy. I simply cook them as above. The grains will be semi-softened and ready to absorb the liquid or moisture in your meatloaf, veggie loaf, baked tomatoes,stuffed peppers, (or other vegetables), for in-meat or stovetop, vegan stuffing, you name it.You can add a bit of salt, olive oil, salt-free herb blend, any favorite herb, lemon, or perhaps a little garlic or onion while precooking any of the alternatives here.

Use the semi-soft grains while warm. The release of heat will aid in the absorption of the moisture of the rest of the ingredients, which is what the breadcrumbs would do.

The nature of the grains will not allow the foods to be made into very stiff loaves and balls, so treat them gently. Pre-browning balls will help,(in oven or on stovetop). Higher heat and little sauce over loaves is the best way to get them to hold shape.


I have previously mentioned using quinoa in some recipes and is my go-to when I am not using breadcrumbs. Commonly, quinoa comes in white, red or mixed versions.I prefer the mixed or white for breadcrumb substitutions.

QUINOA


I really like to use chickpeas for toppings, as you would with breadcrumbs containing butter and possibly herbs, as topping a casserole or vegetables. They add a nice texture, really dress up vegetables and again, add protein. These and the grains give potato dishes and all vegetables flavor and a truly polished look. Sprinkled over pasta,(GF or regular), they add so much.
These need to be treated differently than grains
You can cook dried chickpeas in a crockpot until soft, then lower the heat and let them dry out, or take them, baked, simmered, or canned chickpeas, and dry them on a baking sheet in the oven, or in a dehydrator.

(Drain canned chickpeas under running water before drying them out.)

As with the quinoa you can add spices or herbs while cooking, or sprinkle what you would like over the drained, canned ones before drying.

CHICKPEAS


When the chickpeas are dried hard, whirl them in a blender, food processor or place them in plastic bag, between paper or a clean towel and crush them any way that you can,(rolling pin, mallet, a heavy pan. Add whatever you would like to them and sprinkle away.

Millet is very small, and many find it grainy, but I like it. I add it to vegetable dishes and some soups to add substance and protein. Use this where there is plenty of liquid, (soup or vegetables that produce a good deal of liquid, such as tomatoes and squash), and cook for a short time. If you opt to cook it to use as a topping, use 1 part water to 3 parts millet,(it cooks that quickly). Millet is usually available in red or white, which tends to be a little larger.

MILLET

Buckwheat, despite the name, is not wheat and does not contain gluten, whereas Barley, Bulgar and Soft White Wheat do, so bear that in mind. All are good breadcrumb substitutes when cooked semi-soft to absorb and strengthen stuffings, meatloaf/ veggie loaf , or when cooked until soft and dried for toppings. Buckwheat has a stronger flavor than barley, bulgar and the soft white wheat, so adjust additions or amount to your own taste. I like to use pearl barley instead of whole groats, as it cooks more quickly, it is easier to use. It also has a milder flavor and absorbs more.
Course bulgar is best for breadcrumb-like uses.

BUCKWHEAT; BARLEY, BULGAR and SOFT WHITE WHEAT

Clockwise, starting top left: Pearl Barley, Buckwheat,Soft White Wheat, Coarse Bulgar

Personally,I have found SORGHUM to be a little sweet and cooks up a bit pasty for my taste, but feel free to experiment.

I hope that you will try some of these suggestions, even if you do not need to go gluten-free.

Make your meals healthier.

Vegan Tomato Gravy (Gluten-Free)

I first heard of tomato gravy on a writers’ Facebook page, (Flavor The Moments), but it was made with chicken broth. I still eat poultry, but I have been looking into more and more vegetarian and vegan alternatives, so I put my hand to it. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do.



Vegan Tomato Gravy over homemade biscuits or prepared tri-colored quinoa

Tomato Gravy

1 Tbsp  olive oil (not extra virgin or ‘robusto’)

¼ cup minced onion

¼ tsp+ salt

dash of finely ground pepper, (preferably white)

1 28 lb can of whole tomatoes, or 1 ½ cups of tomatoes, blanched and peeled*

½ strong vegetable broth**

¼ tsp celery salt

½ tsp.  thyme, or ground/rubbed sage

½ cup tomato sauce, (if not using canned tomatoes or ¼ cup if using weak broth)

1 Tbsp corn starch, (mixed just before adding into 1 Tbsp water) or

1/8 cup cooked quinoa or millet (GF)

*Do not use canned diced tomatoes; they are too tough for this recipe

** Place commercial broth in a pan and simmer to condense and reduce it by half, or make strong vegetable bouillon. You can also make your own vegetable broth. Recipe:

Add butter or oil to a saucepan and heat.  Add the onions and cook slowly until they are just soft, not translucent or browned.  Chop the tomatoes and add to the onions. Add the salt and pepper, ½ cup of the liquid from the tomatoes, (and tomato sauce if using), and the broth.
Simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Add the celery salt, sage or thyme and simmer for 5-8  minutes. Add the cornstarch and stir gently until thickened. Remove from the heat and let rest. If using prepared quinoa or millet, omit cornstarch mix and   let sit over low heat for 12 more minutes, occasionally stirring gently, until thickened. (Taste and add more seasonings or herbs if needed.)

Serve traditionally over biscuits, or try over cornbread, or prepared rice, grits, quinoa or buckwheat to be gluten-free and add protein, or add protein by serving over prepared cracked-wheat or barley.

Broths: Meat or Vegetable; (Vegan,Vegetarian, GF, Keto)

 

I find it hard to believe that after all this time I have never done a post of broths.

Broths are the basis of most good soups, sauces and gravies.  You can make tastier rice and other grains, (like quinoa, barley, etc.), by cooking them in broth instead of water.  Broths are extremely healthy and versatile, plus they are a wonderful way to stretch your food dollar.  Frankly,  I feel better making the most of the sacrifice of the meat that I eat.

I always trim meats and vegetables, put them away little by little, into freezer bags and when I have enough, I make broth. I may mix chicken and turkey, but I keep all others separated.

I am eating less and less pork and beef, but the way to make any meat-based broth is simple and the same:

Meat Broths

Use scraps, no matter how fatty, and (hopefully) bones with meat, (at least 2 lbs-worth); bones add extra body, flavor and  a good amount of calcium; the fat will come off later.

1 large onion (whole or cut into quarters)

2 large ribs of celery, cut into halves or quarters (preferably with leaves)

1 Tbs salt (to taste)

½ tsp pepper or 4 peppercorns

2 Tbsp. dried parsley (it makes a real difference in taste, and is a ‘superfood’ a powerhouse of nutrients)

 

(if using a slow-cooker, cook on high with less water; cook for 6-8hours). Add all to a large pot, (3 quart). Fill within 2 inches of the top with cold water. Put on a burner on high until it starts to boil, then turn down to a mild simmer; DO NOT BOIL. Allow 4-6 hours to simmer, (after 3  hours of cooking, you can taste for strength). Thoroughly cool and you can skim off all of the fat that will have risen to the surface.  Strain and discard all meat and vegetables, which will be depleted of taste and most nutrients. (The one exception to this is when I make turkey/chicken broth and use giblets; I use extra meat to make the broth strong quickly and then chop the giblets for dressing.)

Now you can use this for the basis of sauce, gravies or any other types of soups, (many recipes are found in previous posts, with more to come.) Some ideas include: adding precooked meats, (meatballs), or sausages and vegetables. The meats can be barbequed, or spiced, (Asian, Mexican, Italian). You can add vegetables alone in any combination; let your imagination and personal tastes inspire you. You can add noodles, pastas, or barley, or go gluten-free with quinoa, rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, cooked beans and legumes and/or beaten eggs.

Today I have made Egg-Drop Soup with Fresh Spinach and Parmesan. I made it with chicken broth, but often make it with vegetable broth:

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1/8 cup minced onion

2  1/2 cups chopped , fresh spinach or 1 cup cooked/canned spinach

1/4 cup chopped Parmesan cheese -or-
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

4 beaten eggs

salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the broth. Add spinach, cook.  Add  eggs; stir until just cooked. Add cheese; let it melt and serve hot.

 

Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth varies much more than my meat-broth recipes depending on the season. I cut the ends from tomatoes, spinach, carrots, green beans, the tops of celery and bok choy,  over-ripe onions, garlic, weak leaves and cores of cabbage, and lettuces, the peelings of quashes, the inner core and pith of bell peppers, you name it. (I avoid outer peelings of onions, and don’t use red ones, shallots or red cabbage as it makes the broth dark purple and unappetizing.) I put them in zip-bags in the freezer and when I have enough, I add salt, white pepper and some dried parsley and, as above, bring it to a boil in large pot of cold water and simmer for 5-6 hours. If using a slow-cooker, I add less water and cook on high for 4-5 hours If you need ideas, here are pictures of some of my gatherings, ready to be simmered into nice vegetable stock:veg stock

 

Any of the additions listed in the recipe for meat broth can be used. To go low calcium, low cholesterol, vegan, you can use plant-based meat substitutes to give your soups more protein, make the substitutes tastier and get more for the money out of them, since they are still generally quite expensive.

 

I hope that you give these recipes a try.  You will find that canned broth or those in aseptic containers pale by far in comparison.

Stovetop or Baked Stuffing: Standard, Gluten-Free and/or Vegan

 

 

Thanksgiving is here in America and with all of the holidays coming up, I find it hard to believe that I have never posted recipes for stuffing/dressing. Call it what you will, even if you need to go gluten-free or are vegan, you can enjoy this traditional side dish.

 

My family traditional dressing is made with bread cubes and turkey broth, often with giblets.  I make a vegan version without the giblets, and with vegetable broth. Although you can use bread cubes, I go gluten-free and use quinoa.

 

Stuffing/Dressing, Baked or Stovetop

3 cups of bread cubes – OR- 1 1/2  cups of cooked quinoa, (prepared with ½ of the recommended amount of water);
set aside

¾ stick of butter or margarine

1 ½ cups minced celery

1 cup minced yellow onion

3 Tbs marjoram

3 Tbs. sage (rubbed)

½ tsp celery salt

(Or the equivalent in poultry seasoning of the last 3 ingredients)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. ground pepper (any color)

2 Tbs milk, (cow or plain nut)

1  ½  + cups broth

 

In a heavy, large pan melt the butter or margarine

Add the celery and onion
Add the seasonings

sauté until the onions and celery are soft;
add milk.

Simmer for 15 minutes until the milk is absorbed.

Add the broth, (and giblets if using), and simmer for ½ hour

Place the bread cubes or quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the cooked dressing mix over while it is still hot, and stir until it is mostly absorbed into the bread. (If the bread seems too dry, add more broth; the quinoa will not absorb the mix until it is baked or cooked)

At this point, you can:

  1. place in a well-buttered casserole dish and bake uncovered at 325F for an hour or until it is browned at the edges and fairly dry in the middle
  2. cook on the stovetop, in a large, heavy-gauge pan, (preferably with ceramic or other non-stick coating),  stirring often, until fairly dry
  3. stuff dressing made with bread into a chicken; double the recipe  to stuff a turkey

I hope that you find this helpful, especially for those of you who find yourselves with family or friends who cannot enjoy traditional dressing.

Chicken[Tofurkey,Quorn] Paprika(GF, DF)

Yes, it’s me. I have not forgotten you. I had my promised series on antipasti ready and my computer crashed taking all of the recipes with it…and that was just the beginning!
I have pix of most of what I created and will try to sort out what was what, but in the meantime, here is a recipe I have been asked for by a few people.

wp_20170126_002

The best way to make this is with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Done right, they will not be dry. You can use boneless, skinless thighs, if you really prefer dark meat. There is no reason why one could not use thick slices of Tofurkey, (any brand of like product), or Quorn roasts to make a vegan or vegetarian version. I will add directions for alternatives below. I also, as usual, have short-cuts to make the recipe simpler.
The recipe will serve two big eaters. Simply multiply the ingredients to serve more.

Chicken Paprika
2+1 Tbsp Butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped,(or 1 Tbsp dried, minced garlic)
1 ½ Tbsp paprika,(regular or half can be smoked)
1 ½ lbs of boneless chicken breasts or thighs
Salt
1 ½ cups strong chicken broth…(if you are using canned or from a carton, cook over high heat to reduce and strengthen. If you want to use bullion, make it double-strength)
1 cup crème fraiche, or sour cream
1 Tbsp plain flour , 1 ½ tsp corn starch or rice flour

Melt the 2 Tbsp butter or margarine. Quickly brown the chicken on both sides, (it will raw in the middle). Remove from the pan. Lower the heat, add the extra butter, onion, garlic , paprika and salt to the pan and cook just until the onion is wilted. Add the broth and the chicken, and cook on low heat just until the chicken is cooked in the middle. Again, remove the chicken and keep it warm. Mix the flour into the crème fraiche or sour cream and mix until smooth. Add slowly to the broth, (a whisk is helpful here). Raise the temperature and stir until the mixture is thickened. Lower the heat to warm. Add the chicken, turning once, until the chicken is rewarmed throughout and has absorbed some of the sauce. Serve over rice, couscous, boiled or mashed potatoes. Be generous with the sauce.

Tofurkey or Quorn Paprika
2+1 Tbsp margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped,(or 1 Tbsp dried, minced garlic)
1 ½ Tbsp paprika,(regular or half can be smoked)
1 ½ lbs of thickly sliced Tofurkey or Quorn roast
Salt
1 ½ cups strong vegetable broth…(if you are using canned or from a carton, cook over high heat to reduce and strengthen. If you want to use bullion, make it double-strength)
1 cup vegan sour cream or silken tofu
1 Tbsp plain flour , 1 ½ tsp corn starch or rice flour

Melt the 2 Tbsp margarine. Quickly brown the meat substitute on both sides. Remove from the pan. Lower the heat, add the extra margarine, the onion, garlic, paprika and salt to the pan and cook just until the onion is wilted. Add the vegetable broth and heat to boiling. Mix the vegan sour cream or silken tofu with the flour until smooth and add slowly to the broth, (a whisk is helpful here). Raise the temperature and stir until the mixture is thickened. Lower the heat to warm. Add the Tofurkey or Quorn turning once, until it is rewarmed throughout and has absorbed some of the sauce. Serve over rice, couscous, boiled or mashed potatoes. Be generous with the sauce.

An Audio Cookbook Giveaway!

I hope 2016 is a great year for all of you! And as the first post for the new year, I have a prize to give away: An audio cookbook!

Dump Dinners Cookbook, by Daniel Cook, read by Diane Davis

Dump Dinners Cookbook, by Daniel Cook, read by Diane Davis

Dump Dinners Cookbook:30 Most Delicious Dump Dinners Recipes For Busy People, by Daniel Cook,(apt name!). This is a perfect book for those who are insecure in their ability to cook, for those who are just plain busy and fun for those who cook often.

It’s a good time of year here in North America for slow-cooker stews and soups, but I have found that in the Summertime,(for those of you in the southern hemisphere), slow cookers are indispensable as an alternative to heating up the house with your oven or and more comfortable than standing over a hot stove.

The recipes contained in this audio book are so simple, yet so complete! This is real food, real cooking, real easy! It is perfect for the theme of this blog, which strives to let you know that anyone can cook and entertain without a great deal of effort.

After the introduction, the recipes only last a few minutes each They are completely uncomplicated, and often contain suggested garnishes and a few other options,(of which any reader of my blog know I am very fond of sharing!) However easy, the recipes have often sophisticated flavors and are not only wonderful for yourself and your family, you would be proud to serve them to any guests you may want, or need, to feed. There is something for every taste, All-American, Latin, Asian, Italian and others, (including Hungarian and Russian.)

Although most are heavy on meat, it does contain vegetarian recipes. Anyone used to eating and working with recipes that include Quorn, tofu, seitan, ‘Tofurkey’ or vegetable-based meat substitutes can adjust most of the recipes by cutting back the cooking times, (usually by1/2- 3/4), and adding the meat substitutes near the end.(Dairy substitutes can be used for cheeses).
Many recipes are Gluten-free or can be adjusted easily.

The many delightful and inspiring recipes in this book are read in a clear, delightful voice, that of my long-time friend, Diane Davis.

Diane is a woman of many talents. She is a singer-songwriter who can rock you with pop, rock, country and jazz. She is an actress who has been in several feature films and TV shows. She is frequently featured in ads that cross the U.S. and into other countries. She has had several radio shows that were not only popular in her market, but were broadcasted internationally over the internet. She continues to do podcasts and interviews, which I never miss. Her voice talents have been utilized a very short time ago in one major motion picture, and more recently, in audio books, such as this. I know you will find her easy to listen to and to follow in the directions.

The contest is open world-wide, so I hope that some of you from the other 50(!) countries who visited me here at Food, Friends, Family in 2015 will stop to comment. That’s all it takes. Leave a comment and an email address where I can reach you if your name is drawn. In two weeks, February 4, 2016, I will place your names in a hat and have a family member of mine draw one out.
[If you are uncomfortable leaving an email address opened on the blog, please leave a comment below and then private message me on the blog Facebook page : Tonette Joyce:Food, Friends, Family with your email address, where no one else will see it.]

I am sure any of you would truly enjoy this cookbook. I bought it, ($2.99-3.99USD), and I am ready to cook!

Please enter!

(Diane is also an expert in needlework and sells her creations. She recently recreated in crocheted form the ‘star’ of a popular mystery book series, a cat, for its author. If that isn’t enough, she is a computer expert, a realtor and blogs on casinos!n

Easy Gourmet withLeftovers-Vegan/GF/Nut Alternatives

When I went to my family reunion this Summer, my gentleman cousins treated me to dinners at a fine restaurant near where we stayed.(We also had a great lunch at a barbecue joint that looked like a barn, but I digress.)

At one of the meals I chose a dinner salad that came with glazed chicken and walnuts…it was wonderful. And when they offered me their raspberry vinaigrette for it, I was blown away! I had to go home and reproduce it as well as I could.

Since then I have been experimenting with glazes and meats, plus meat substitutes! I found that Tofurkey is amazing glazed and chilled and so is Quorm,( a vegetarian,but not vegan, meat substitute. Seitan can also be used and I have made it with Tempeh).

I don’t remember what they charged for the salad at the restaurant, but even using leftovers, you can recreate the taste at home for your own enjoyment, and even impress any guests you may have, for a fraction of the cost!
(If you are using raw boneless chicken, beef or pork, sear it at a high temperature on the stove with your glaze, then lower the heat, add a few Tablespoons of water and cover until they are fully cooked in the middle).

If using leftovers, Tofurkey or Quorn,(ground Quorn is good here) , simply sear on medium-high heat on the stove and turn as soon as it is seared on each side. Then chill. I have used slices of roast pork,(including commercially marinated pork roasts), chicken, (including rotisserie chicken), slice turkey and roast beef, (although the latter does not work as well, except for my leftover Sesame Beef…strips of beef dredged in salted corn meal and fried in a little sesame oil with sesame seeds.)

The glazes that I have used are honey with butter or margarine; Apricot, Plum, Blackberry and Raspberry preserves or ‘all-fruit’ spreads, or , if you can find it, Pomegranate Molasses.

Pomegranate molasses, ( or sauce), is not very sweet. It has a wonderful flavor, but I like to add a little honey, syrup or sweetener of some sort, even stevia. You can even mix it with any of the fruit spreads, or with a little sesame oil.

If you are daring, you can use commercial Asian Sweet Chili Sauce instead of a fruit glaze.

Toss in walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, or pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds with the meat or substitute. You might want to use a little sesame oil to fry the meat/meat substitutes if you are using sesame seeds, (it is strong and a little goes a long way). If you have any nut oils, you can also use a small amount of them to sear the meat/meat substitutes; it makes them even more special. See my post on Oils in the October 6, 2013 archive.

[Do you have someone with nut allergies or want to stretch out your budget? You can get a fantastic result from roasting chickpeas, (garbanzo beans). Use canned, left over or cook them until soft but firm, (see one of my first posts on beans in the August archives August 24, 2012), then roast them in your oven, turning them occasionally, until they are browned and dry. When cooled, crush them. You can place them in a closed container in the refrigerator or a zip-close bag in your freezer to use when needed. It adds a nut-like flavor and texture, and puts an extra protein punch, as do the nuts.]

Add a very little water to ‘degaze’ the pan in which you have cooked by heating it to boiling and scraping what remains in the pan into a container with your meat/meat substitute. What is comes from the pan will keep your meat moist and add extra flavor when added to the salad, along with the dressing.

There are some lovely commercial Raspberry vinaigrettes on the market and some beautiful infused vinegars to make your own dressing, ( I love pear-infused vinegar!). Again, you can use nut oils to make it extra special, but peanut, grapeseed or regular olive oil are really all you need.

I eat so much of this that I have prepared meat and meat substitutes in the freezer, ready to be thawed and used when I am hungry, or for guests. I often grab leftovers and glaze them before others can make a sandwich (Don’t worry; no one goes hungry here!)

Here’s how one of mine looked:

Gourmet dinner salads:easy, inexpensive, impressive!

Gourmet dinner salads:easy, inexpensive, impressive!

I prefer to use green salad, with any combination of :
Iceberg/bib/Romaine/leaf lettuce
Kale
Spinach
Onion, scallions/leeks
Bok Choy/cabbage
Celery/celery root
Broccoli
Fresh String/Sugar Snap beans /Snowpea pods

Feel free to add carrots, sliced peppers, cucumbers or
Roasted Cauliflower

I generally add chow mein noodles or croutons to round out the meal and add a carbohydrate. I sometimes use prepared wild rice or even hash brown potatoes cooked very dry, and you may want to use these if you are wheat sensitive.

I hope you try this. It is healthy, easy, inexpensive, gourmet-quality food and you can even use up your leftovers making it! Impress yourself and your guests!

Dress Up Leftovers

Another (not so funny) thing happened to me on the way to continuing my last series; my husband was hurt. It was not a life-threatening injury, but one that literally knocked him off of his feet for three months. Unlike many men who malinger, I had to basically hold him down so that he could recover. (He does hit the bed when he has the sniffles, however!) Much went neglected, including this blog.

We will revisit with more antipasti and on to more party foods, but since this is Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.A., I thought I’d start talking about not only using, but improving, on leftovers.

Ham and turkey, and for some, “Tofurkey” and Quorn “roasts”, were what was on the table last Thursday. My family enjoys another plate like the basic one, but let’s face it, too much is too much! And when the leftovers are small, or chunks, or scraps, you just need something different to do with them.

Here is what I made today:

An easy casserole to update your leftovers!

An easy casserole to update your leftovers!

It is made with leftover ham, mashed potatoes and vegetables, but it can be made with any combination of meat or meat substitutes and vegetables, or just vegetables. Substitute whatever you have that might fit and no one thing or measurement is absolute…this cooking, not rocket science. Gluten free, it can be adjusted to be  vegan.
“Leftover Casserole” just doesn’t sound right to me. How about :

Post-Feast Casserole”?
Pre-heat oven to 350F
1 +cup leftover ham, turkey or meat substitute
1 ½ cups mashed (or other) potatoes [Hash browns, (hash brown casserole),cubed and boiled with green beans, etc.]
½ cup sour cream or vegan sour cream [Do you have dip left over? Use onion, spinach or ranch]
1-2 cups leftover cooked vegetables, [I used broccoli and cauliflower. Green beans, (green bean casserole),Brussels sprouts, spinach,(spinach balls),carrots, etc. Increase the amount if you are only using vegetables]
Gravy,or sauce, optional [Did you make cheese sauce or a sauce for your Tofurkey or Quorm roast? Use what you have left]

Mix the potatoes with the sour cream or dip. Place half in the bottom of the casserole or baking dish. Add a layer of each vegetable you chose to use. If you have gravy or sauce, pour in about a 1/2  cup now. Cover with the rest of the potatoes and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

If you cool this completely and wrap well, it will keep in your freezer for at least 3 months. It will be either a nice break now from the regular leftovers, or a quick, warm, comforting meal on a cold night in the coming months.

I have been waiting to post an easy, very easy, upscale dinner salad recipe, but I think I will add it next, using leftovers as an option.

I hope you will continue with me.

Appetizer Finale/Cream cheese and Vegan Alternatives/Liver and Mock Liver Pâté

Hello all! Despite the order in the name of this blog, family comes first, hence the long hiatus since my last post.
I nearly simply ended my series on appetizers, but since the last was ready and the most simple, I decided to go with it.

I personally prefer to use Neufchatel, which is “light” cream cheese, but you can use any cream cheese or ‘vegan cream cheese’ made of tofu, “Go Veggie” and “Follow You Heart” which is a mix containing soy, “Daiya” brand non-dairy, non-soy alternative, (to name a few). Any of these can be easily used for any of these recipes, or in any ideas of your own to make vegan or gluten-free appetizers.

Commercial cream cheese spreads come in very many flavors. You can find sweet versions mixed with strawberry, honey, honey and nut, pineapple and even chocolate. Savory versions include chive, dill, garden vegetable and salmon, which is more versatile than you might imagine.

Along with prepared cream cheese, dips, such as spinach and bacon-and-horseradish, can be used sparingly in appetizers. These have a looser consistency and must be contained within an appetizer or spread thinly.
Of course, you can mix any flavors of your own preference into a plain base, or use the pre-made ones on their own. However, these are so simple, a little imagination added along with a few unusual flavor combinations will make a big hit with family and guests.

Cream cheese and vegan cream cheese based appetizers are so easy and versatile!

Cream cheese and vegan cream cheese based appetizers are so easy and versatile!

Pictured above are:
Salmon Cream cheese on toast round with sliced olive, dried cranberry and a pear wedge
[Dip white-fleshed fruit, such as pear and apple, in lemon or other citrus-based soda, or pineapple juice to slow discoloration]
Salmon cream cheese in mission figs topped with smoked almond, pear piece and dried cranberry
Chive cream cheese on crackers, topped with sliced, jarred sweet pepper and nut (A candied walnut is shown, but a pecan, hazelnut or almond, whether plain , spiced or candied would work)
Chive cream cheese in celery topped with black olive, cranberry, nuts
Pepperoni roll with chive cream cheese or spinach dip
Baby spinach leaves with spinach dip, with or without nuts,(plain almonds, walnuts or pecans)

A recipe that was requested but that I hesitated to add was for my Liver Pâté. I will also add my vegan Mock Liver Pâté recipe. These can be a nice addition to any appetizer plate, be they spread on crackers, (topped with sour cream, cheeses or vegan alternatives, put into fresh spinach or romaine leaves slices of apple or stuffed into mission figs! Try it!)

Liver Pâté/Mock Liver Pâté
8 oz chicken liver, sautéed until just done OR 10 oz walnuts simmered until tender, either cooked with ¼ cup sliced onion
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp garlic granules or powder, (NOT garlic salt)
Adjust all flavorings to taste. Chill before use.

One final word on appetizers: remember to keep the few hot appetizers I mentioned in the series as warm as possible, on a hotplate or in an electric skillet if possible. Keep all cold appetizers as cool as possible. Place some out at a time while leaving other refrigerated, or place them on plates or trays on larger trays of ice.

I do so hope this series has whetted your appetite for appetizers and that you will serve them with confidence, whether they be some of the recipes or suggestions that I offered, or some that you were inspired to make on your own.

Do you have any questions?

Appetizers VIII; Custards,HUmmus, Couscous/Vegan

After too long of a break, we continue our series on appetizers. I have saved some of the most impressive ones for these last two post for the time being. I will give you a few unusual flavor combinations to try, or to spark your imagination for other combinations.

Although the next and,(for this series, the last), posts will feature possibly the easiest, the ones here today may take a little more time, but can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s necessary.

We have already discussed making or buying hummus [December 13, 2014 Archive ] and polenta [January 4, 2015 Archive ], which are contained in the appetizers pictured. I have not discussed couscous, which is made of granules of semolina, (wheat), and can either be steamed or boiled to a softened-but-still-firm consistency. I often buy it made with vegetables, much like garden pasta, which makes a tasty and colorful alternative side dish to potatoes, rice and pasta. More couscous recipes will be in upcoming posts.

Some of the appetizers you see here today contain custard. Simple custard is made by a ratio of 1 large egg to 1 cup of milk (of any type, cow, almond, etc.), and baked in a slow/moderate oven, (325F), in glass or ceramic baking vessels. These need to be surrounded by water halfway up their sides , placed in a larger vessel of any oven-proof material.

Since simple custard is very “eggy”, other ingredients must be added. For a sweet custard, sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener must be added, and can be made with many other flavorings. Most often, vanilla extract is added, but lemon or orange zest, coconut, nutmeg or almost any flavor that will not dilute the egg-milk ratio will work. Too much more liquid, and your custard will not “set”, which is to become firm. On the other hand, adding pre-cooked rice, (which is also good in the sweetened versions), will have little effect on the texture. Ground nuts, seed or coconut are also acceptable additives.

However, for savory recipes, you want your custard to noy

After too long of a break, we continue our series on appetizers. I have saved some of the most impressive ones for these last two post for the time being. I will give you a few unusual flavor combinations to try, or to spark your imagination for other combinations.

Although the next and,(for this series, the last), posts will feature possibly the easiest, the ones here today may take a little more time, but can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s necessary.

We have already discussed making or buying hummus [ ] and polenta [ ], which are contained in the appetizers pictured. I have not discussed couscous, which is made of granules of semolina, (wheat), and can either be steamed or boiled to a softened-but-still-firm consistency. I often buy it made with vegetables, much like garden pasta, which makes a tasty and colorful alternative side dish to potatoes, rice and pasta. More couscous recipes will be in upcoming posts.

Some of the appetizers you see here today contain custard. Simple custard is made by a ratio of 1 large egg to 1 cup of milk (of any type, cow, almond, etc.), and baked in a slow/moderate oven, (325F), in glass or ceramic baking vessels. These need to be surrounded by water halfway up their sides , placed in a larger vessel of any oven-proof material.

Since simple custard is very “eggy”, other ingredients must be added. For a sweet custard, sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener must be added, and can be made with many other flavorings. Most often, vanilla extract is added, but lemon or orange zest, coconut, nutmeg or almost any flavor that will not dilute the egg-milk ratio will work. Too much more liquid, and your custard will not “set”, which is to become firm. On the other hand, adding pre-cooked rice, (which is also good in the sweetened versions), will have little effect on the texture. Ground nuts, seed or coconut are also acceptable additives.

However, for savory recipes, you want your custard to not be sweet, so you will add salt and then, again, any herbs or dry, (or dry-ish), vegetables that strike your fancy. Sautéed onions or shallots are a good choice, or dehydrated peppers or tomatoes. Maybe you’d prefer herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme, (I don’t recommend them together!), or lemon zest. You can also add a little cheese before baking, but cut back just a bit on the milk.

Test for doneness as you would a cake. Insert a knife into the middle of the custard. When the knife blade comes out clean, your custard is done. The time depends on the size of your containers. One-cup capacity can be done in as little as 40 minutes; a large container can take up to an hour and a half. But never go by time alone.

I have not yet experimented with these myself, but I am assured that quite good vegan versions of custard can be made in several ways, at any level of cooking expertise.

Easy: Silken tofu or heavy, canned coconut milk * blended with a small amount of coconut oil, then chilled

Moderate: Almond or coconut milk blended with tapioca powder or arrowroot ,( plus flavorings), baked as above.

Nuts, (especially cashews), puréed with a little coconut oil or heavy, canned coconut milk*

Advanced: Pastry cream made of coconut or nut milks. This is cooked by whisking over a double boiler with water, salt, flour and cornstarch.

[* NOTE: Coconut milk in cartons is too thin for the quick custards which have this notation. Several types and brands of canned coconut milk are available. Although I generally choose the types that ‘slosh’ when I shake the cans, you want the ones that seem solid when you shake them. Do not use “Cream of Coconut”, as this is far too sweet.]

For the appetizers here, I used cooled custard, and put them together easily with purchased, premade filo cups and rye flatbread.

Filo custard cups, which are vegan, sometime come in grocery freezer cases, but if you will be using them quickly, refrigeration is not necessary as they are prebaked and ready-to-fill. Flatbread, which is also vegan, comes in packages in the cracker aisle. It comes in several flavors made from several types of grain. It also come in long pieces which I just snapped off with irregular edges. Since there is no way to cut them evenly, let’s say that it lends a certain handmade charm to the appetizers.(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) You can use any type of non-sweet cracker, gluten-free cracker or even corn chips.

Appetizers featuring Hummus, Couscous and Custard make an imaginative and impressive array

Appetizers featuring Hummus, Couscous and Custard make an imaginative and impressive array

Pictured are :

Pepper-Jack cheese melted over polenta in filo cup, feel free to use vegan ‘cheese’

Pepper-Jack cheese melted over couscous in filo cup, topped with a slice of black olive

Herbed rice custard in filo cup topped with an herbed tomato slice

Hot Pepper custard in filo cups with salmon cream cheese, topped with apple and bacon; vegan “bacon” can easily be substituted.

Hummus in filo cup topped with sautéed mixed vegetables

Hummus with toasted coconut in filo cup topped with toasted sesame seeds

Hummus with pistachio on flatbread

Hummus with coconut on flatbread

Herbed custard rice with herbed tomato on flatbread

Salmon cream cheese with cashew and apple on rye flatbread
(More on using cream cheeses in the next post.)

Of course, you should know by now that none of these combinations are absolutes. Try mixing and matching textures and flavors, herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and anything that strikes your fancy. If you like it, try serving it!

Any comments?

be sweet, so you will add salt and then, again, any herbs or dry, (or dry-ish), vegetables that strike your fancy. Sautéed onions or shallots are a good choice, or dehydrated peppers or tomatoes. Maybe you’d prefer herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary OR thyme, (I don’t recommend them together!), or lemon zest. You can also add a little cheese before baking, but cut back just a bit on the milk.
Test for doneness as you would a cake. Insert a knife into the middle of the custard. When the knife blade comes out clean, your custard is done. The time depends on the size of your containers. One-cup capacity can be done in as little as 40 minutes; a large container can take up to an hour and a half. But never go by time alone.
I have not yet experimented with these myself, but I am assured that quite good vegan versions of custard can be made in several ways.
Easy: Silken tofu or heavy, canned coconut milk * blended with a small amount of coconut oil, then chilled
Moderate: Almond or coconut milk blended with tapioca powder or arrowroot ,( plus flavorings), baked as above.
Nuts, (especially cashews), puréed with a little coconut oil or heavy, canned coconut milk*
Advanced: Pastry cream made of coconut or nut milks. This is cooked by whisking over a double boiler with water, salt, flour and cornstarch.
[* Coconut milk in cartons is too thin for the quick custards which have this notation. Several types and brands of canned coconut milk are available. Although I generally choose the types that ‘slosh’ when I shake the cans, you want the ones that seem solid when you shake them. Do not use “Cream of Coconut”, as this is far too sweet.]
For the appetizers here, I used cooled custard, and put them together easily with purchased, premade filo cups and rye flatbread.
Filo custard cups, which are vegan, sometime come in grocery freezer cases, but if you will be using them quickly, refrigeration is not necessary as they are prebaked and ready-to-fill. Flatbread, which is also vegan, comes in packages in the cracker aisle. It comes in several flavors made from several types of grain. It also come in long pieces which I just snapped off with irregular edges. Since there is no way to cut them evenly, let’s say that it lends a certain handmade charm to the appetizers.(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) You can use any type of non-sweet cracker, gluten-free cracker or even corn chips.
Pictured are :
Pepper-Jack cheese melted over polenta in filo cup, feel free to use vegan ‘cheese’
Pepper-Jack cheese melted over couscous in filo cup, topped with a slice of black olive.
Herbed rice custard in filo cup topped with an herbed tomato slice
Hot Pepper custard in filo cups with salmon cream cheese, topped with apple and bacon; vegan “bacon” can easily be substituted.
Hummus in filo cup topped with sautéed mixed vegetables
Hummus with toasted coconut in filo cup topped with toasted sesame seeds
Hummus with pistachio on flatbread
Hummus with coconut on flatbread
Herbed custard rice with herbed tomato on flatbread
Salmon cream cheese with cashew and apple on rye flatbread
(More on using cream cheeses in the next post.)
Of course, you should know by now that none of these combinations are absolutes. Try mixing and matching textures and flavors, herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and anything that strikes your fancy. If you like it, try serving it!
Any comments?