Yummy pot pies

Just a quick little update with a recipe for these amazing individual pot pies. They’re so yummy, so easy and darn cute too. I could probably eat them for every meal  (I totally had one for lunch and one for dinner today). This is the sort of thing where you could add pretty much any vegetable your heart desired and they would still come out well. This version is the clean out the freezer edition.

These pies are savory and rewarding. They’re not too big so it would be great to serve with some greens or fresh bread. They have a full flavor without being too heavy. I used a lot of corn and carrots so it was fairly sweet but was offset by the saltiness of the seitan. Also, just for the record, this was my most successful batch of homemade seitan of record.

Seitan Pot Pie

makes 4 servings

1/2 onion, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp Safflower oil

2 cups mixed vegetables frozen or fresh (corn, peas, edamame, carrots etc.)

1 1/2 cups chopped seitan

2 cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp flour

1 package vegan puff pastry

First and foremost, take your puff pastry out of the freezer to defrost. It can take up to 40 minutes, so be patient. It does not need to be completely soft, but rather just pliable enough to unfold and cut. For me this is the hardest part, even though technically it is the easiest because you literally just have to do nothing. I’ve found a number of vegan puff pastries, both generic and healthy, so just make sure you check the label.

Next, heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and add the onions. Sautee on medium until they are soft and lightly browned.

Preheat the oven to 400°

At this point, add your vegetables. If you are using frozen ones, it’s fine if they aren’t defrosted. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes at which point the vegetable should be tender.

Add in the seitan and flour and stir thoroughly. Continue to stir for a few more minutes to let thicken. Spoon the filling into individual pie dishes.

Now, assuming your puff pastry has defrosted, it’s now time to cut out the tops. Unfold the pastry onto a flat surface and cut out circles slightly smaller than your pie dishes. Simply lay the circle on top of the filling. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool just enough to eat and serve.

While I made individual servings, you can easily make one single pie, the small ones are just a bit more fun.

Spring Eggs

I’m gonna first put out the disclaimer that I’m not a fan of Easter. I’m not religious and most of the related celebrations just don’t excite me. On the other hand, I am a fan of springtime and bunnies. I also like having an excuse to experiment and make new treats. Here’s to trying to make something great out of something you’re not into.

After having a taste of some vegan Cadbury creme eggs made by Vegyogini of Hugger Food, I couldn’t stop thinking about making some of my own. I think this is a pretty strange obsession considering that I didn’t even like Cadbury eggs when I wasn’t vegan. While I tried to put the idea out of my head, I found myself reading all about the fondant filled eggs. When the topic of Easter baskets came up, I finally decided it had to be done, along with some peanut butter eggs.

I started out with the peanut butter eggs, as I’ve made peanut butter cups before and thought it would be easier to try out the egg molds on something I was familiar with. I melted some chocolate chips in a double boiler and thickly coated the insides of the mold. The mold I used was made of silicone and was super easy to just pop the hardened eggs out when they were done. Another option would be to use plastic eggs and line them with aluminum foil. The important thing is to make sure the top edges of the eggs are well coated in the mold as this is the area that will seal to the other half of the egg. I let the chocolate set in the fridge for about half an hour while I prepared the peanut butter filling.

Peanut Butter Filling

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla

Simply mix the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla together to form a smooth sweet peanut butter filling. If your peanut butter has been sitting around for awhile, refrigerated or just otherwise dry, add peanut oil back into the mixture to soften it.

I filled the hardened chocolate shells with the peanut butter filling and refrigerated again for about half an hour until they were firm enough to handle easily. Next came the experimental part. I popped the eggs out of the mold onto a cookie tray. I then took a knife and heated it on the oven. I then melted the outer edge of the chocolate egg with the hot knife and pressed it together with another egg half. The key to this process is keeping your hands clean and the eggs cool.

For the creme eggs, I went with a basic poured fondant recipe. There are a number of different ways to go about this: cooked fondant, food processor fondant, quick fondant… Ultimately I went with the one I thought would have the right semi-liquid consistency. I prepared the chocolate shells as above, making them slightly thicker to accommodate the warm fondant filling.

Poured Fondant

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 Tbs corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the sugar, corn syrup and water together in a small sauce pan over high heat, stirring constantly. Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture just above 90 degrees but do not let it get to 100. The fondant should be smooth and pourable but not too thin. Remove from heat, add extract and stir to combine fully. Let cool slightly and spoon into the chocolate shells. Refrigerate to harden and assemble the same as the peanut butter cups.

The consistency of the fondant creme eggs came out surprisingly like the actual thing, but perhaps a touch firmer. They were sugary sweet chocolate treats, and if you like the original, you’ll definitely like the veganized version. I personally liked the ones made by Vegyogini better as they didn’t have a pure sugar taste because of the Earth Balance. The peanut butter cups came out wonderfully though. Next time I might make them half eggs as it’s quite a lot of sweetness.

Despite my initial disclaimer, I really enjoyed making these and there may be some more Easter treats on the way. Happy springtime!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

First of all, welcome to the new home of Cute and Delicious! I’m really excited to start this off with a great recap of some Saint Patrick’s Day feasting.

For Shawn’s birthday this year, I gave him a number of tokens to be redeemed for favors or treats including meals and bike rides. Despite the fact that he has had a few months to use them, he has yet to come up with anything to trade them in for. That is, until Saint Patrick’s day. The first token was used for a full Irish feast day.

We started off the day with beans on Irish Soda bread toast and some smoked apple sage Field Roast Sausage . I’m not usually one to eat particularly hearty breakfasts (although I am a huge fan of toast) but this was a very satisfying way to start the day. The first time I had ever had beans on toast was actually in Belfast, and I’ve only had a it a few times since then. The beans were just slightly sweet and went really well with the soft, dense bread. We’ve tried other flavors of the grain sausages before and, previously, I have not been a fan. The apple sage sausage was perfect though. It had a very light flavor and a subtle sweetness to it.

For lunch, we had a picnic, since I only had a bit of spare time on my lunch break. I tried out the recipe from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen for Colcannon Puffs. I was very excited about mixing kale and potatoes, two of my favorites, and making them into adorable little toasted bites. I was so excited, in fact, that threw the kale in the food processor and blended to a puree instead of chopped leafy chunks. When I mashed it together with the potatoes, I had truly green potato puffs. I loved the texture of these, soft in the middle and slightly crispy on the outside, with a noticeable lightness. My only problem was that they were extremely salty, which is saying a lot coming from me, because I love salt. I didn’t even use salt in the water to make the potatoes so I would definitely cut down the seasoning a bit next time around.

We enjoyed these in the greenery of Griffith Park, along with some leftover beans, toast and sausage from breakfast. Shawn also made a great nutritional yeast cheese sauce to top everything off.

For dinner I busted out my crock pot and made an Irish stew. Sometimes I forget how amazing crock pots are. It’s great to be able to throw all the ingredients in and just let it cook away all day without having to do a thing. This stew was hearty and filling. All the vegetables were soft and flavorful. The other great thing about this stuff is that it’s even better the next day, it thickens up just a bit and makes it even more wonderful. The recipe is kind of a hodgepodge of things but you can check it out below. The only change I would probably make is to make sure the seitan is cut into small pieces so that it doesn’t overshine the vegetables. I would also recommend grilling the seitan a bit before adding so it has a little extra flavor.

Finally, for dessert we had apple bread pudding. The last of the Irish soda bread was put to use in the making of this recipe found in The Almost No Fat Holiday Cookbook. Since the slices of bread were a bit thicker than some pre-sliced bread, the top layer did not come out so much like pudding but a bit more like french toast.  Even still, it was amazingly tasty. A squishy bread pudding on the bottom with a layer of soft green apples, then a firmer flavored bread layer topped with a caramelly brown sugar sauce. I’ve actually never had bread pudding before, which I’m finding hard to believe myself, considering how much I love bread, and I was highly impressed with the way this came out.

At the end of the day I was so full I can’t even tell you. So full of bread and potatoes. The soda bread was by far the best part, especially considering how simple it is to make. I’ll definitely be trying out the stew again, and experimenting with some more crock pot recipes.

Hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patty’s!

Irish Stew
3 cups vegetable broth

1 can potato leak soup

1 package mushroom gravy mix

16 oz sliced mushrooms

1 cup seitan chunks

1 cup burger crumbles

4 small potatoes peeled and cubed

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 cup peas

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2  tsp rubbed sage

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp olive oil

Throw all the ingredients in your crock pot, stir and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.

Kitchen gadgets

vegan spritz cookies

I have a weakness for kitchen toys. While some people crave new electronics I like to fawn over kitchen supply catalogs. There’s always that one thing that would make the coolest dessert or the best presentation. I mean doesn’t everyone secretly want a sauce drizzler? Luckily I’m fairly good at keeping myself in check and not spending away my life on gizmos.

Over the holidays though, I did manage to acquire some neat toys in gift exchanges that I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased for myself. Since they’re definitely specialized, I hadn’t even busted them out till now to test them. The first test was a cookie press for making those adorable spritz cookies. I really had no occasion to try this, despite my desire to see how the tiny cookies would come out, until a late night sweet craving took me over and they just had to be made.

Using the cookie press is definitely one of those processes that must involve some sort of technique; one that I definitely don’t know. While about half of the cookies that came out were adorable, the other half were a bit more blobular. The main problem I had was making the dough stay on the pan ones it was squeezed out of the press. In the end, I usually just arranged the pieces together with my fingers. Luckily, no matter what each cookie looked like, they all tasted amazing. Absolutely perfect little treats that would be perfect for a party or gifts (or a late night snack). I can’t wait to incorporate some fruit or jams into the recipes, or of course, chocolate. Recipe for vanilla spritz cookies can be found below.

chocolate fondue
Another product I got to try out was a ceramic fondue warmer. Ok, so perhaps fondue is a little out of style, but it seemed like a tasty idea to me. The warmer is only heated by a small tea candle, so I thought it probably wouldn’t really keep the fondue that hot at all, instead it made the chocolate I pre-melted bubble even more than on the stove top. Amazing what conductive surfaces can do.

The great thing about making chocolate fondue for a dessert is not only how easy it is, but how amazingly satisfying. I simply cut up some apples and nectarines, and melted some semi-sweet chocolate with a dash of soymilk and it was ready to go. The result was fantastic. It’s easy to forget how sweet and tasty fruit is when there are so many prepared desserts out there, but combined with the dark chocolate it was absolutely divine. In fact, I’m craving it now, just writing about it. The important thing is just to have fresh ripe fruit and good quality chocolate.

While I would have to say that having the fondue warmer increased the fun factor by at least 10%, it’s totally not necessary to enjoy this simple dessert, just put the melted chocolate in a bowl or mug and it will stay warm for quite awhile. Another option would be to dip the fruit in the melted chocolate and refrigerate and harden for a cool treat later on.

spinach pesto pizza
Of course I had to include at least something savory, and of course, it’s pizza. In an attempt to make a simple but different (sort of) dinner one night, I collected some remaining ingredients in my kitchen to come up with a spinach pesto. To my surprise, it turned out insanely good. I’m generally the type that is good at following recipes, but when I just throw things together, there is a high risk of things going horribly wrong. I suppose it’s not hard to get it right when you combine such tasty ingredients though. I tried to keep the pizza uncomplicated and left off any other toppings besides vegan mozzarella. The result was a crispy, garlicy, spinach extravaganza. The pesto recipe is below.

Vegan Spritz Cookies
adapted from Wilton

3/4 cup earth balance
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tps egg replacer mixed with 1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder.

Cream sugar and earth balance. Add egg replacer and beat till slightly frothy. Add soy milk and extracts to combine. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Slowly add liquid mixture and mix until smooth.

Put mixture into cookie press and press cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Spinach Pesto

1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Put the almond, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and blend till you have a coarse meal. Next add the spinach, oil and salt and blend until combined. Spread on pizza dough and bake away!

Since this recipe has raw garlic, I recommend using it for baked items. Otherwise, roast the garlic beforehand and add to the blend.


Vegan Benedict – AGAIN!

I just can’t help it, vegan benedict (tofu florentine, whatever you like to call it) is just one of my favorite breakfasts. It is in fact one of my favorite prepared meals altogether. If there is a vegan restaurant that serves this dish for breakfast I always order it, even if there are other delicious breakfast options. It’s just that good. Obviously, one cannot just go out to breakfast all the time, especially for such a basic dish. I’ve tried a couple different versions in the past but this is by far the closest to the real thing, not to mention it was super easy.This attempt came out really well. Satisfying and yummy all at once. The cayenne gives it a bit of a kick and all the flavors compliment each other wonderfully. I suppose that is the nature of the dish. Definitely a perfect way to start the morning. I ended up having a bit of hollandaise leftover and just mixed it with some tofu to make a tofu salad sandwich, which was also excellent.

I really love how this recipe came out but I think I’ll continue to experiment.

Vegan Benedict

sourdough english muffins
tomato (I used roma), sliced
olive oil
hot sauce
garlic minced
onion powder
vegan hollandaise (recipe follows)

To prepare the tofu, slice into 1/2 inch slabs. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan and warm over medium heat. Add minced garlic and let brown a bit before adding the tofu slabs. Sprinkle the onion powder, salt and pepper onto the tofu to taste. Pour a bit of the hot sauce on the tofu as well. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until slightly browned and flip carefully onto other side. Again season the other side of the tofu with a bit of hot sauce and let cook until brown. Flip one last time and lower heat. Add the spinach, a large bunch, into the pan and stir until softened.

Vegan Hollandaise

1/2 cup vegenaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
lemon juice from 1 small lemon
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
approx 1/4 tsp turmeric (for color)

Mix all the ingredients until combined.

Toast the english muffins and spread with a bit of Earth Balance. Lay a slab of the tofu on top, then a slice of tomato, then spinach and top with the hollandaise.