Savory Bites

My cousin has been living in the city all summer and goes back to Texas this week. I have been lucky enough to see him almost every week. Last weekend, I invited him and other family over for dinner so we could all share more time before he leaves.

My apartment, like many apartments in NYC, is small, so a sit-down dinner is a challenge. I decided, instead, to have a finger food meal to make things easier and normalize the idea of sitting on the couch while eating. The dinner went great and I invented a new yummers finger food for the occasion, Savory Bites.


The idea comes from using filo dough, but I dislike using that dough. It can be a lot of work and my approach remains easy cooking. Instead, I used crescent rolls. The kind that come in tubes.

I made two different kinds. One that was like pizza and another with pesto. To do the exact same thing, you will need:

  • Two rolls of crescent roll dough, in the tube, check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan
  • Spaghetti sauce, I used a garlic heavy one
  • Black olives sliced into thin circles
  • Shredded vegan mozzarella 
  • Vegan pesto
  • Small onion, diced into small pieces 
  • Small red bell pepper, diced into small pieces 
  • A few button mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • Tablespoon of olive oil

Start by sautéing the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Sauté on medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Take the first roll and open onto parchment or wax paper. This will let the dough be more easily removed later. With your fingers, mash together all the seams to make one sheet of dough. Using a rolling pin (or label-free and cleaned wine bottle), roll out the dough a couple times in each direction to flatten and even everything.

For the pesto bites: Use a spoon to add a thin layer of pesto to the dough, then a thin layer of the cooked veggies, and a thin layer of cheese. There will be left over filling. The layers should be thin because the dough is delicate and won’t roll well if too thick.


Looking at the longest edge of the dough, begin to roll that edge towards its opposite edge. Don’t be afraid to help the dough off the parchment paper. If the original seams reappear, this is okay. Try to carefully mash them together again and keep rolling. Soon you will have a long roll of dough with filling. Take a sharp knife and slowly cut into circles of about an inch thick. I got about 12 circles from each roll. Place each circle on a pan with at least one inch between each.


They won’t look perfect, and this is okay. Flavor is most important.

For the pizza bites: Follow the same dough preparation process of making into sheet. Add a thin layer of speghetti sauce, a thin layer of black olives, and a thin layer of cheese. Follow the same roll and cut process.


Cook the bites at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

So yummy! Everyone ate as many as they could and kept going back to grab another one. The process can easily be used for other savory or sweet ingredients.

I hope you try these and let me know how it goes, especially if you try different ingredients. I will absolutely be making these again.

Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is currently my go-to fast meal. Takes as long to make as it does to cook the pasta. And hubby loves it every time! I have been buying pesto at my local farmers market, but any pesto will do great. What you will need:

1 box of favorite pasta, I have been enjoying quinoa penne pasta

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half. Can use regular tomatoes, but the juice will make the dish a bit watery

1 container baby spinach

1 block mozzarella cheese, diced or torn into smaller pieces. I usually use Miyoko’s mozzarella, but any will work. If using Daiya, the flavor is stronger and thus less than the entire package might be good

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

4oz of pesto, more if you love pesto like I do

Cook pasta according to package directions. Place beans, pesto, cheese, and spinach, with the spinach on top, in a large microwave safe bowl and cook for 90 seconds to wilt the spinach. Stir in pasta and tomaoes. Serve immediately. Yummers!!

What To Do With Rainbow Chard


I’m sad I haven’t been able to post any new recipes recently. I have been cooking, just nothing new. Life has been keeping me happily busy. Then I got inspired at the farmers market, again.

Lots of people are unsure what to do with chard and can find it bitter. I think the leaves are incredibly beautiful and the stems stunning. I buy it every time it looks yummy.

This dish is very simple, as follows my entire approach to cooking. And not at all bitter. Just put everything in a pot and cook. What you will need:

One bunch of rainbow chard, cleaned and chopped into ribbons

One onion, diced

2 tbs garlic, minced

Polenta, one tube cut into bite-sized pieces

One can white beans, drained and rinsed

Pepper to taste

Chili powder, three shakes

1 tsp liquid aminos, more to taste

Smokey Parmesan cheese, shredded, or other flavorful vegan cheese, for topping

One pint baby yellow tomatoes, rinsed and sliced into halves

Put everything but the cheese and tomatoes in a large pan. I use a wok shaped pan to easily hold everything. Cook on medium to medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the onions are soft. The polenta will break up a bit and make the dish creamy. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes. Serve with cheese sprinkled on top. Yummers!

Not Quite Lasagna

  
I love lasagna, but it always takes me forever to make and the noodles are usually my biggest frustration point. One night I decided to use very different ingredients and layer them together like lasagna. We scarfed this down!

  
It was so good we didn’t even have leftovers. And it’s gluten free!

What you will need:

4 good sized red potatoes, washed and pricked with a fork. Red potatoes are usually small, so I picked out the bigger ones

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into desired size

1 big jar vegan spicy spaghetti sauce

1 batch of Alfredo sauce

Preheat oven to 450. Place potatoes in a microwave safe dish with lid, cook on high for 10 minutes. While cooking, begin making the Alfredo sauce. When microwave dings, use an oven mit to make sure the potatoes are soft/done. If done, set potatoes onto a cutting board to cool. If not done, cook another 2 minutes and check again.

Using the same microwave safe dish with cover, place all kale and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water in dish and cover. Cook in microwave on high for 5 minutes to steam. Set aside to cool.

Finish Alfredo sauce and pull out lasagna dish. Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, use a sharp knife to gently slice into 1/2 inch circles.

Layers-

Spaghetti sauce

Potatoes

Kale

Alfredo sauce

Spaghetti sauce

Potatoes

Kale

Alfredo sauce

Spaghetti sauce

Place in oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbling. Yummers!

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg Frittata

  
Woo hoo! Finally found the VeganEgg at a local grocery. Now what? It has been almost two decades since I cooked with eggs. Also, I have read reviews that this product will mimic the texture of eggs, but not the full flavor. Okay. So make something with egg that has its own personality. Frittata!

  
I had never made a frittata, but knew they are considered simple. A quick search of recipes gave me confidence I could pull this off. But, first, I had to make sure my pan could go from stovetop to oven without melting. An important piece of the recipe. Another quick internet search. Luckily, mine can. I based the recipe on the size of my pan that is not super big. What you will need:

1/2 an onion, sliced thin in half circles

1/2 a red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed and sliced thin to match the onion

4 mushrooms, sliced thin

2 kale stalks, stems removed and torn into smaller pieces

1/2 tsp avocado oil

1/2 tsp liquid aminos

2 shakes pepper

4 eggs worth VeganEgg; 8 TBS and 2 cups water, follow package instruction

Preheat oven to 450. Sauté at medium all but the VeganEgg until soft. Add VeganEgg and stir together. Make everything flat and raise burner heat to medium high. Let cook until the sides are pulling away from the pan. Move pan to oven and cook until top is browning.

After pulling from the oven, I decided to sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

  
I was not disappointed. I think next time I will add some nutritional yeast. It was good, but from the veggies. The VeganEgg will benefit from more spices. This was Yummers though!

Peanut Stew

  
Okay, this is one of the yummiest things I have ever made. Especially in my standard sized crockpot. I adapted from what is often called West African Peanut Stew, but I changed several things and this is not really the same thing. What you will need:

2 cubes low sodium vegetable bouillon 

1 medium red onion, diced

Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peel with a spoon edge and mince

2 TBS minced garlic

1 tsp sea salt

1 bunch red or rainbow chard, stems removed and torn into pieces

2 medium yams, diced

¾ cup smooth peanut butter

8 oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp hot sauce

16 oz can small red beans, drained and rinsed

Optional: Serve with brown rice

Place everything in a crockpot, add enough water to cover contents, five to six cups. Cook on low for at least eight hours. Add more hot sauce if wanting more spice. Yummers!

Cauliflower Mash

  
Mmm… Looking for an alternative to mashed potatoes? This is an easy and tasty one. This cauliflower mash was a perfect compliment to macaroni and cheese and avocado oil sautéed red chard with garlic and pine nuts. What you will need:

1 small head of cauliflower, leaves removed and diced

4 TBS water

1 TBS margarine

1/8 cup of vegan sour cream

1/8 cup vegan shredded mozzarella

Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl with water and cover. Microwave until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes. Spoon out water. Add margarine, sour cream, and cheese. Using a submersion blender, blend until smooth and serve warm. If a submersion blender is not available, place all but the water in a food processor and process until smooth. Yummers!

Sugar Cookies

  
Hubby said he missed his mom’s sugar cookies at the holidays, so I decided to try my hand at them. They were a hit! We both gorged and had to drink lots of water to soften our sour stomachs from too much sugar.

Hubby likes his cookies soft and chewy and the recipe below does that. If you like yours more crunchy, bake the cookies longer. Also, I no longer have any cookie cutters for fun shapes and instead created a log to cut off pieces. Similar to the tubes of cookie dough from some grocery stores. If using cookie cutters, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper after letting thicken in the fridge. What you will need for the cookies:

1/2 cup Whole Wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup unbleached flour

1/2 c. sugar 

1/4 t. baking soda 

1/2 c. vegan buttery margarine, I use the sticks from Earth Balance

2 TBS  water 

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

For icing (makes enough for two batches of cookies):

1 cup powered sugar

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1 oz almond milk (or other milk alternative) + more as needed 

1 container decorating sugar or sprinkles

Sift dry cookie ingredients into a large bowl and stir. Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or two knives until the dry ingredients look wet. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir and add the water. Stir more. Will be sticky. Move batter to a piece of parchment paper to make the log. You get to decide how wide you want your cookies. They will expand while baking. Mine was about two inches thick.  

Place parchment paper rolled up batter log in the fridge for about two hours. This will give the margerine enough time to thicken again. If not doing a log, cover the mixing bowl that holds your dough and place that in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I needed two baking sheets, but it all depends on the size of your sheet and the size of your cookies.

Unwrap dough log and slice off the width of desired cookie. Place cookies on sheets and bake about 10 minutes. This amount of time allowed my cookies to stay soft and chewy. Remove parchement paper with cookies on it from baking sheets to cool a couple minutes.

Sift powdered sugar into a bowl, add vanilla extract and the first ounce of almond milk. Here you can decide the thickness of the icing. Using a spatula, stir everything and add more almond milk as needed. I used my icing as glue for the sugar and thus made it very thin. I wanted to make sure my soft cookies didn’t break. Pour decorating sugar or sprinkles onto a plate. After icing each cookie, turn it over and place icing side on the sugar. The icing will act as glue for the sugar. Turn back over and ta-da! Yummers!

Rice & Beans Stew

  
Get it? I took the rice and beans that I love to make and turned it into a stew. I had to give up my large crock pot when I moved to NYC. Luckily, I was just given a new one that is NYC apartment sized, four quarts. This means that the recipe will fit standard sized crock pots. What you will need:

10 oz frozen diced butternut squash

1 onion diced

1 can navy beans, drained

28 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 cup brown rice

1 cup coarsely chopped, stems removed, kale

1 not-chick’n bouillon cube

4 cups water

Vegan sour cream (optional)

Avocado (optional)

Place everything but the sour cream and avocado in a crock pot. Cook on low for eight hours. Ladle into bowls and top with avocado slices and a scoop of sour cream. Yummers!

Tortilla Soup

  
When I lived in New Mexico, my favorite season was chili season. The time of year when all the chilis were harvested and roasted in the open air. My entire city would smell of roasted chilis. It was wonderful. Everyone would pick out their favorites, watch them be roasted, and freeze in smaller containers to enjoy all year. I miss it.

One of the things I learned to make with fresh chilis was tortilla soup. With Hatch chilis available in most cities, I still get to enjoy the yummy. Of course, I make my soup a bit more hearty these days. What you will need:

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBS olive oil

28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

16 oz can small red beans

4 oz can mild green chilis, diced

2 not-chicken bouillon cubes

6 cups water

2 cups baby spinach

Shredded vegan mozzarella, I used Daiya

Vegan sour cream, I used Tofutti

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Tortilla chips

Sauté onion, chilis, and garlic with olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, bouillon, and beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the burner and add spinach. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes to wilt. Stir. Ladle into a bowl and sprinkle cheese on top to melt. Layer a couple slices of avocado and dollop of sour cream on top. Serve with tortilla chips and crumble the chips on top just before beginning to devour. Yummers!