Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cajun Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Since visiting New Orleans last year, my husband and I look for ways to veganize favorites that will remind us of our vacation. This one was so easy and tasted delicious. Plus, this recipe makes enough so that no one has to go without seconds. This is thick enough to work as a hearty stew, or it can be served over rice for a hearty New Orleans favorite.
Cajun Slow Cooker Jambalaya 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 large onion, diced 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced 3 ribs celery, diced 3 Tablespoons minced garlic 2 links vegan smoked sausage (I used Field Roast’s Smoked Apple Sausage which tasted delicious with this) 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes 1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes 1 cup vegetable broth 2 teaspoons file powder 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning 1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add to slow cooker and add remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.

Saturday Night Widows

Every memoir involves a little tragedy, but few involve it as in such an inspiring manner as Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives. This book begins when its author, Becky Aikman gets kicked out of the local widows support group; her husband recently died, and she has had a hard time finding her place in the world of widows and widowers. As a young widow, Becky can’t seem to find anyone in a similar situation, and after exploring grief and healing, she becomes determined to create a group of her own. One that will allow her to heal with other young widows who still have adventures and life ahead of them, yet will focus on transformation, not wallowing in sorrow and self-pity. Obviously the tragic part of the memoir is not the focal point, and Becky soon has a group of five other women who within the past few years have become widows. Their stories are as diverse as they are: one is struggling financially, but reluctant to give up the apartment that was a project she and her husband devoted years to, another is recovering from her husband’s suicide and trying to still enjoy life. These women, however, share strength, and are incredibly inspiring in their resolve to heal and recover. Navigating their way through relationships, solo adventures, and numerous hurdles, these women help each other to overcome the tragedy that struck them. Through monthly adventures, these six grow closer, becoming a solid support system for each other. This book is incredibly inspiring and is such a powerful story. I loved watching these women grow stronger and learn more about themselves and what they can overcome. This book is a reminder of what it truly means to be a friend and that tragedies of all sizes can be overcome, and is all the more meaningful because it is true.

Jamaican Sweet Potato Wraps

My husband took me out to lunch the other day so that we could try a vegan restaurant that we had heard a lot about. It was quite a drive, but I am so glad that we went – we ended up trying different things and loving every bite of it. This one, was one of the most unique menu items. I didn’t replicate it exactly, but it is pretty darn close and just as delicious. These are really easy to throw together for dinner, especially if you already have the sweet potatoes steamed and the coleslaw marinating.
Jamaican Sweet Potato Wraps 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled 2 cups thinly sliced seitan 2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 Tablespoon Jamaican Jerk seasoning (or Jamaican seasoning with pepper), plus 1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon smoke seasoning or liquid smoke (optional) 1 large tomato, diced 1 cup shredded cabbage 1/4 cup shredded carrots 1/4 cup green onions 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper 1 package lavash wraps or Flat Out wraps 1. Place sweet potatoes in an electric countertop steamer and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Allow to co0l slightly, then slice into 1/8 inch slices. 2. Place seitan, olive oil, Jamaican seasoning, and smoke seasoning into a glass container with a lid. Shake so that seitan is covered. Allow to marinate for at least 5 minutes. 3. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, onions, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Add 1/2 teaspoon Jamaican seasoning and mix. Allow to marinate together. 4. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add seitan and cook until golden and fragrant, turning once during cooking. Remove from heat. 5. To assemble, place sweet potatoes on the right side of the wrap. Layer with seitan, tomatoes, and cole slaw, adding additional seasonings as desired. Roll tightly to seal wrap, and cut in half if desired. Enjoy!

Popcorn Bar

At book club last week, one of my friends had a wonderful idea. Since we would be discussing the book, then watching the movie version of it, why not have a popcorn bar so that we wouldn’t have to worry about appetizers. It was perfect. She was in charge of the popcorn and I was responsible for the seasonings. It was so easy that it can be done with guests of all ages, or in a classroom. Just scoop the freshly popped popcorn into a bag, drizzle with olive oil, add the seasoning and shake. Easy, fun, and super quick to clean up!
Cinnamon Sugar Seasoning: Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 5 teaspoons cinnamon Apple Pie Seasoning: Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 4 Tablespoons apple pie seasoning Lavender Sugar: Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons food-grade lavender Tex-Mex Seasoning: Mix 3 teaspoons each smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, plus 1 teaspoon each salt, pepper Italian Herb Seasoning: Mix 4 Tablespoons Italian seasoning with 1 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Creamy Rosemary White Bean Spread

I love hummus as a dip for veggies and pita chips, but my husband is not a huge fan of garbanzo beans. As a result, I had to try to mix it up and was thrilled with this dip. It is so easy and is delicious.
Creamy Rosemary White Bean Spread 1 (15 ounce)can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed 2 Tablespoons grape seed oil 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained of juices 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika A pinch of crushed red pepper (optional) 1. In a food processor, blend beans and olive oil until smooth and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and process until completely mixed. Spoon into a bowl and top with sea salt and additional rosemary and paprika if desired.

Mango Fruitcakes with Citrus Glaze

I realize that the name is a doozie – no one really likes fruitcake after all. Calling this humble little delight a cupcake, however, just didn’t seem right – especially because it has a glaze on top, not traditional icing. Whatever you want to call this, know that this tropical little treat is fruity, light, and delicious.
Mango Fruitcakes with Citrus Glaze Mango Fruitcakes 2 cups pastry flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted 1 cup mango puree (made by pureeing 1 peeled mango in a blender) 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 Tablespoons flax powder mixed into 9 Tablespoons water 1 cup diced mango 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup pecans 1/2 cup flaked coconut 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 muffin pans with liners. 2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Mix coconut oil, mango puree, vanilla and flax mixture in a small bowl. Add liquids to the large bowl and incorporate completely. Gently fold in diced mango, apple cider vinegar, pecans and coconut. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before spooning into prepared muffin pans. 3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffin tops are light brown and a fork inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out cleanly. Allow to cool before topping with citrus glaze. Citrus Glaze 3/4 cup powdered sugar 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice 2 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated 1/2 teaspoon melted coconut oil (optional) 1. Whisk all ingredients until incorporated. The glaze will be light orange in color. Drizzle over the cooled fruitcakes and either allow to cool (which will produce a shiny glaze kind of like a glazed donut), or serve immediately for a lightly sweet topping. Don’t worry about dripping over or spilling off; these fruitcakes are delicious regardless of what they look like.

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

With St. Patrick’s day coming this weekend, I knew that I had to share this book. I realize that it has been out for a while, but Tomie dePaola’s Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland is such a great read that it is worth exploring (especially for those of us who hadn’t read this book before). DePaola, known for other classic children’s books and his unique artistic style, has created a book that revolves around the life of St. Patrick. Enslaved as a young man, St. Patrick went on to do amazing things for the people of Ireland, and dePaola does a wonderful job exploring this side of the famous saint. The illustrations are beautiful, with bright colors and vivid details. The story is also told in a manner that is approachable for all ages. Plus, after the biography of the saint, dePaola details several of the miracles associated with St. Patrick. I loved this book and knew that I had to share it for the 17th. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s day!