Gluten-Free Mexican Pizza

August 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

mexican pizza with guacamole, corn, and peppers from Cooking Con Sal

This fast, fresh, healthy dish is so easy to make and completely satisfying! I used Udi’s frozen gluten-free pizza crusts. I’ve been trying to cut out gluten completely – very hard as a vegan! – so in this case they do have egg and thus this isn’t a vegan recipe. To make it vegan just use regular pizza crust, corn, or flour tortillas. I really like these pizza crusts – they are thin and crispy and don’t leave you feeling so heavy – even when you eat the whole pizza!

Mexican gluten-free pizza from Cooking Con Sal

Just pop the pizza crust in the oven according to package directions. When it is done cooking, add the toppings. I topped mine with guacamole (2 avocados, 1 minced garlic clove, chopped red onion, juice from 1/2 lime, salt, pepper), fresh non-GMO corn cut right off the cob, diced tomatoes, sliced mini-peppers, chopped red onion, and jalapeno – no extra cooking required! I love the crunch of the crisp veggies against the smooth, cool guac.

Salsa, cilantro, lime, and even black beans would also make great toppings. Cut up into smaller pieces, this would make a great little appetizer – or line everything up assembly line style for a fun dinner party. Enjoy!

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Five Vegan Recipes for Your July 4th Barbecue

July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s almost July 4th! You know what that means – fireworks, friends, and… not much vegan food! Here’s some quick tips on how to enjoy the holiday cruelty-free.

First off, get prepared. DO NOT plan on attending a July 4th celebration without bringing a vegan dish – whether or not you were asked to bring something. I can almost guarantee that aside from the fruit bowl and chips and salsa, there won’t be much to eat. I’m not saying this to discourage. I’m saying it as reality. There are so many wonderful vegan BBQ foods that could fill a whole table – but if your attending a party at an omnivore’s house, you’re unlikely to see any of these goodies. Plus, this is a great chance to show all those partygoers how delicious vegan food can be. So take advantage, and enjoy!

Here are some of my favorite vegan recipes that would make a great addition to any July 4th BBQ.

vegan bean salad, white bean salad, asparagus

Cannellini Bean Salad – you can make this with fresh or canned beans. Any white, light bean will work. Chickpeas would also be good here. Just throw together beans, onion, red pepper, and asparagus (or green beans) and toss with a vinaigrette and you’ve got a hearty, filling salad.

tomatoes and chickpeas with zucchini noodles

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Chickpeas and Tomatoes – This is one of my earliest vegan creations and remains one of my favorites. Absolutely perfect for a hot day and travels well as the longer it marinates, the better.

Vegan pigs in a blanket

“Pigs” in a blanket –  The 4th just screams hot dogs. But you don’t need to harm any little piglets for you to enjoy this classic. Pickup the hot dogs from Lightlife Smart Dogs at the grocery – bonus: my Publix carries these so no special trip to Whole Foods required. Wrap in Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (yes they are vegan!) and bake until golden brown. Even my meat eating sister loves these.

colleen patrick-goudreau

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Tantalizing Thai Slaw from The Vegan Table – I brought this to our July 4th party last year and couldn’t get enough of this crunchy, peanuty salad. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

vegan, vegetarian, dairy free

Hearty Vegan Chili – Every BBQ needs a good pot of chili and this vegan version loaded with peppers and topped with tobacco leaves nothing to be desired.

None of the above catching your eye? Check out these vegan July 4th BBQ options:

Happy 4th ya’ll!

July 4th Vegan BBQ

July 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

I was a bit surprised when my mom said she wanted to have people over for the fourth. It was only two months prior, May 4, that my dad died. Some people probably find this odd to have a party so soon. I did at first. But I have to say, having the house full of our close friends made it somehow feel like he was there. Afterall, there’s nothing my dad enjoyed more than a full house, BBQ going, and margaritas blending. So with the party looming, I set out to find what I was going to make.

Last year when July 4th rolled around, panic struck. I’d been vegan for a whole day. A whole day! July 4 was going to be the second day of my 30 day vegan challenge and I was determined to stick with my challenge and not let the July 4th spread get the better of me. I entered the party and had everyone telling me to start on the 5th so I could enjoy all the food that day. But I was determined to stick with it.

I remember I brought a salad – just in case there wasn’t anything else I could eat. Well, I ate that salad all afternoon at the party. It was literally the only thing there I could eat. So, when the 4th rolled around this year, I knew I needed a better game plan.

I did some research and settled on three items to bring. I also wanted to make recipes I’d never made before. I think we all get in a rut of making the same things over and over again so a little change would be good.

Scouring the web, I found Chef Chloe’s mexicali sliders. Holy moly these were tasty. Everyone at the party liked them and several told me they wanted the recipe. Not bad for sliders on the 4th at a meat-eaters party!

These sliders weren’t hard to make but they weren’t exactly easy either. The tricky part is they are quite delicate so forming the patties just takes a little patience. I promise it is worth it though! Coupled with the spicy mango sauce and cooling guac, it makes for the perfect bite. One note: this recipe makes about double the guac and mango sauce you need so you could definitely cut those in half if you wanted to, although extra guac at a party is never an issue.

The second item I brought was Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s tantalizing thai slaw from The Vegan Table. This slaw was another winner! It’s a fun spin on the classic coleslaw you usually find at a BBQ. There’s a bit of heat with the addition of red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger. And my favorite bites were those with peanuts so I may add more next time. (If you don’t own it yet, The Vegan Table is a definite winner!)

colleen patrick-goudreau

Lastly, I brought rellenitos. These are a Guatemalan specialty and something my husband fondly recalls from his home. They were quite messy to make, and I need to perfect the recipe a bit more before sharing here, but they’re essentially just black bean stuffed plantains. They’re a bit sweet and can be eaten like a dessert.

black bean stuffed plantains

This spread sure did beat my lonely salad last year! And as my mom has adopted a no-dairy lifestyle, there was a bit more I could eat this year including cous cous, veggie pasta salad, and a marinated broccoli salad (my fav that I need to get the recipe for!).

vegan entertaining, vegan bbq recipes

What did you bring to your July 4th celebration? Any suggestions for vegan friendly BBQ’s?

Hearty Vegan Chili – Healthy Game Day Food

February 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

vegan, vegetarian, dairy free

A year ago I posted a chicken wing recipe for the superbowl. My how things have changed!

I’ve never made chili. To be honest, I’ve never liked chili. I was never a big beef eater so a meaty bowl of beef and beans was not on my to-do list. Becoming vegan has made me have a new appreciation for beans too. I’ve really tried to explore new ways of eating and cooking beans, expanding my palate. Everyone talks about how easy chili is to make, so this week I figured I’d give it a try. It was one of those long work days and I was craving an easy, healthy, and warming bowl of yumminess. Boy did I find it! This recipe makes a lighter chili focused on the tomatoes and beans and finishes with a nice heat from the tabasco.

What I love about soups is that you don’t need a hard fast recipe. You can experiment or work with what you’ve got on hand.  You can definitely add more beans or other veggies depending on your tastes. If you like spicy, go for it with the tobasco. If you’re not sure, add it gradually.

vegetarian chili, vegetable and bean soup, recipe, superbowl food, party food

Hearty Vegan Chili 
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed well – I used Navy beans
  • 1/2 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, optional
  • 1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes – I used diced tomatoes with onions and garlic but you could use fire roasted, plain, basil, whatever you like
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • several dashes of tobasco to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saute/stock pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook several minutes until onions are tender. Add cumin, chili, and bay leaf and cook another few minutes.
  2. Turn heat to high and add rinsed white beans, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Add vegetable stock if desired for a more “soupy” chili. Reduce to low-medium once boiling.
  3. Cook another 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add several dashes of tobasco depending on taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with remaining minced onion, green pepper, and optional extra dash of tobasco.

Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”

January 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

vegetarian, yellow rice, arroz

I think this might have been the first time I’ve ever made a version of arroz con pollo which is surprising given that it is one of my all time favorites. Even before going vegan I was never a huge meat eater. Chicken was about it for me when it came to meat. So whenever we would go to a cuban restaurant, I always opted for arroz con pollo. My mom would often make it at home too.

rice, peas, onion, green pepper, red pepper

In simple terms it is basically rice with chicken – but it was so much more than that. Tender moist chicken, creamy yellow rice, and sweet peas cooked together to create a comforting bowl of yumminess. Since becoming vegan I never thought about eating this again. I figured surely without the chicken and chicken stock it would be no good. No way could it have as much flavor.

But I was wrong! I poured myself a glass of sangria (amazing by the way) and sought out to try and make a vegetarian version. It proved to be just as satisfying as a meat version, maybe even more!

This is an easy one pot meal. Always good for a busy night’s cleanup 🙂 And, if you prep your veggies over the weekend, this actually cooks in about 35 minutes total, making it an easy weeknight dinner.

yellow rice, vegan rice recipe, vegetarian

I opted to keep this traditional and stuck with onions, red and green peppers, and sweet green peas. I don’t know what it is about the smell of onions and peppers cooking but it has got to be one of the best combos out there. You can definitely get creative with what you have on hand, adding other veggies to the mix – mushrooms and asparagus would make delicious additions.

Also, I used Vigo yellow rice which already has the saffron and some spices mixed in meaning you don’t have to worry with buying saffron separately which can be expensive and hard to find.

I’m calling it Vegan Arroz con Pollo because let’s face it, Arroz con Vegetales just doesn’t have the same ring to it 🙂 Pour yourself some red wine or sangria and get to cooking! Enjoy!

vegan vegetarian arroz con pollo

Update: Sadly, I must report this is not a fully vegan dish upon discovering that Vigo rice uses chicken. You can continue with the recipe as is for a meat free dinner. If you want to ensure it is full vegan, use 2 cups long grain white rice instead of the Vigo rice and add 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads to the vegetable stock while heating up.

Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s “Essentials of Latin Cooking”
Makes about 6 bowls

Ingredients

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Vigo yellow rice (note update above)
  • 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • lime or lemon wedge (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes together and set aside. Note: if you like spicy, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper. If you like salt, go ahead and add it in. If not, wait until the end and add salt to taste.
  2. Heat stock in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling then reduce to simmer. (If you’d rather not wash another pan, you can definitely just add the cold stock to the rice later).
  3. Heat oil in a large heavy deep saute pan that allows for lots of stirring (I use my all-clad 6 quart). Add chopped onions, red and green peppers for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add in rice and stir until rice absorbs all the liquid from the veggie mixture – several minutes. Add in the vinegar garlic mix.
  5. Add in heated stock, mix, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Let sit for about 25-30 minutes until rice absorbs all liquid. You’ll need to stir several times as the rice will begin to stick to the bottom. If it does, just aggressively scrape the bottom with a steel spoon to remove.
  6. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas and cover. I like my rice on the wet side. If you prefer your rice dry, keep the lid off here and stir until rice reaches consistency you’re looking for.
  7. Serve with a lime or lemon wedge and diced jalapeno if desired.

A Vegan Christmas Eve Feast

December 28, 2011 § 8 Comments

I think I’ve just had the best Christmas ever. It was definitely the best Christmas of my adult life. One reason it was so special is it was the first time that my mother-in-law spent Christmas with us. To have her here and share the holiday with us meant so much.

We played up the Christmas celebration with non-stop gatherings and food. While most Americans celebrate Christmas day as the holiday, my husband’s family celebrates Christmas Eve. For whatever reason, my family always celebrated both. Since being married, we’ve hosted Christmas Eve at our house and always do Christmas day at my parents. This Christmas Eve started with a wonderful surprise though. We got to have our good friends from Miami over for brunch. Starting Christmas off with my friends at the table, enjoying pancakes and coffee was definitely the way to kick off the celebration.

I gave my friend two options – pumpkin waffles or orange pancakes. She chose the latter so I prepared this recipe. I followed it exactly with the exception of throwing in  sliced almonds instead of grinding them which added a really nice crunch. These pancakes were very cake like, and almost had a muffin texture. Everyone at the table was impressed to know they were vegan.

When all was said and done, I figured I could take a nap. But alas, I still didn’t know what I was making for dinner. I can sometimes be the ultimate procrastinator and the holidays are no exception. I didn’t make up my mind until about 2 hours prior to dinner. Sure, I’d spent countless hours picking out recipes but couldn’t actually decide until the last minute. Searching for vegan Christmas recipes was no small task, and the outlook was frankly grim. But I’m pleased to say we had a delicious feast – fit for vegans and omnivores alike!

To start I prepared these amazing butternut squash empanadas. They might have been my favorite food all night long, I’ve since enjoyed them as leftovers and they are equally delicious. Crusty pastry on the outside and a sweet and savory butternut squash filling. The thyme and caramelized onions add lots of depth and cut the sweetness. I love anything yummy inside pastry, don’t you?

The only changes I made to this recipe was almond milk instead of dairy and vegan butter instead of regular. I also was able to find empanada discs that were vegan friendly at my grocery store. Next time, I’ll definitely be doubling the recipe and putting half in the freezer to make at a later date – yum!

Along with our empanadas, we had vegan stuffed mushrooms for a starter. I have to admit the mushrooms were tricky to stuff – perhaps I should have used larger caps. Without egg or cheese its challenging to get the stuffing to stick together, but they were delicious and delicate. If I make them again, I’d brush the mushrooms with a bit of garlic infused olive oil before stuffing to give them a bit more flavor.

As for the dinner, the one certain item I knew I’d prepare was roasted potatoes at the request of my husband. We picked up a lovely variety full of vibrant colors. What to put with them was the question. In the end I decided on Smitten Kitchen’s mushroom bourguignon without pasta since we’d have the potatoes. I added roasted onions and carrots to bulk it up. Alongside, I served it with some nicely roasted asparagus.

No one, I repeat no one at the table said anything about the lack of meat. They were too busy dishing up seconds of savory mushroom bourguignon. The dish was full of dense flavors from the wine, thyme, and vegetable stock. The one problem I had with this recipe is it says to sear the mushrooms. Mine didn’t sear but rather released all their liquid immediately. I was a bit worried I’d ruined the dish but it turned out great. And what was better – with my carrots and onions already roasted, I was able to prepare this while everyone finished their appetizers. With the exception of cutting the mushrooms, I think it qualifies as a 30 minute meal. I was more than happy with the flavor given the short cooking time.

As if all this wasn’t enough, dinner was completed with the most decadent vegan cupcakes my sister brought and trembleque. I’d never made this dish before but a friend brought it to my mom’s Christmas brunch a few weeks earlier. When I learned it was vegan I was in love. It’s made with coconut milk and cornstarch and almost is like a flan but with a lighter flavor – it is simply divine.

After our never ending meal, we all relaxed and watched Christmas Vacation, a family tradition. To sit with both sides of our family laughing together was the best gift.

We all slept like babies that night, with full bellies and not a care in the world…Until the next day, when we woke up and ate even more! 🙂

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Giving Thanks…Never Say Never

December 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve been on a big journey the past few years…

Once upon a time, I never thought my husband and I would be able to be together – but we figured out a way to make it happen and have been married 3+ years. 🙂

It wasn’t too long ago I was in the midst of a huge company downsizing, lost my job, and after months of searching was told if I wanted to get hired, I’d need to remove my MBA from my resume. Talk about depressing… Needless to say I never saw my career taking off the way it has – and it did so beyond my wildest dreams.

I never thought I’d be able to travel on my own, something about lonely hotel rooms and solitary dinners made me nervous – but this year was spent taking more trips than I can count, mostly alone, and I did just fine.

I never thought I’d be able to manage a dog with my job – I do, and splendidly I may add thanks to my husband. How we ever managed before her is beyond us.

I never thought I’d spend the holidays with my in-laws, no matter how hard we tried, it just never worked out – but my mother-in-law arrives this weekend and will stay through the Christmas holiday and I can’t wait!

And lastly…I never, never, never thought I’d be a VEGAN (hah!) at our Thanksgiving table. That’s possibly the biggest surprise of all.

OK, surely becoming vegan isn’t the best of this list – but for me it’s pretty remarkable considering I’ve never had any self control in my life when it came to food. If I wanted it, I ate it. So to sit and eat a fully vegan Thanksgiving meal was pretty amazing. And you know what? It wasn’t bad at all – in fact, it was pretty great.

There was no shortage of food – my mom cooked, which means we had way too much food as usual – and all that food was vegan (minus the turkey :))

I feasted on Carrot and Parsnip Osso Buco (recipe info below) which I prepared after looking through my Thanksgiving vegan menu options – carrots, parsnips, pearl onions and porcini mushrooms are slowly braised in red wine, mushroom broth, and curry spices. This atop fluffy mashed potatoes was as delicious as my turkey alternative.

I enjoyed traditional sides of stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, sauteed apples, and lastly some scrumptious pumpkin garlic knots – yup all vegan! Amazing that many of our favorite foods can be made vegan just by swapping chicken stock for vegetable stock. I couldn’t even tell the difference!

It was a Thanksgiving to remember, that’s for sure. Watching my mom prepare everything with her new vegan ingredients (which she doesn’t mind using!) made me really proud – we are changing our lives one bite at a time.

Cheers to more festive dinners, compassionate eating, healthier lifestyles, and making a conscious effort to remove the word “never” from our vocabulary.

Now I need to figure out what I’m cooking for that Christmas feast!

Carrott & Parsnip Osso Bucco 

If you’re interested in trying out the Carrot Osso Buco, the recipe can be found here. I added a few cloves of garlic – because honestly, how can you cook anything without garlic? 😉 And I had parsnips on hand so I decided to throw them in as well. Honestly though I enjoyed the carrots more than the parsnips. One last note on ingredients – the recipe calls for porcini mushroom powder. At $10 for a small box of dried mushrooms, I’m not sure this was even necessary. I think the curry and mushroom stock give it plenty of flavor so feel free to forgo the expensive dried fungi 🙂

After sauteeing the veggies, I decided to slowly braise them in the slow cooker to leave my stove clean which worked nicely. The resulting veggies are complex and bold. The curry and wine offers tremendous depth and flavor. And the sauce is really delicious over  mashed potatoes – with or without the carrots. I had some sauce left and spooned it over my leftover mashed potatoes for the next few days – yum.

Pumpkin Garlic Knots 

The pumpkin garlic knot recipe can be found here. As this blogger points out, you can’t taste the pumpkin much and I agree. However, it does give the knots a festive gold color and let’s face it – at the holidays it is fun to say they are made of pumpkin! But seriously, you simply can’t beat the buttery garlic spread – yummmmmy. It’s simply five finger lickin’ good! 🙂

Update: See the vegan mushroom bourguignon I made for Christmas. 

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