Winter is real and therefore, we need soups that are hearty and have deep, rich flavors to warm us back up. I have felt the chill of this winter to my very core. Biking around in the freezing cold everyday at 5am probably isn't helping, but that's life. This winter has actually been pretty mild here in Philly. Not much snow, mild temperatures, spots of warmth scattered through the past few months. But.. it's always cold at 5am. And what we have lacked in snow we have made up for in rain, which is probably worse. I've worked while soaked through my clothes too many times in the past couple of weeks and my [vegan] Doc Martens smell like dirty city rain. But enough about me, thank goodness for mushrooms, amirite?
Unlike me, mushrooms love all things cold, moist, and dark. Which is the one, ironically, bright light shining through all of this wintery gloom: I get to eat so many mushrooms. I really do enjoy and adore mushrooms more than most foods, but they are so especially delightful when it's cold out. They have a deep, earthy flavor. They're rich in flavor and texture. Which is what makes them so perfect for this creamy, pureed soup. As for the mushrooms used, I chose to use a blend of dried porcini and fresh cremini and shiitake mushrooms. You can use whatever combination you'd prefer. Dried morels, portabello, etc.
The other stars of this soup are caramelized onion and parsnips. The sweetness of these two vegetables will add some contrast and deepen the flavor of this soup. The parsnips will also add a creamy texture when blended. As for seasonings, we're going to rely mostly on salt and pepper with some thyme and garlic. There are already a lot of really lovely flavors going on here, we don't want to overcrowd it. To brighten things up a touch, consider using chopped fresh parsley to dress this soup when serving. I would also suggest reserving a few of the mushrooms to sauté separately and top the soup, drizzling with an herb infused oil, topping with fresh cracked pepper, or serving it with thinly sliced and toasted baguettes.
Creamy Mushroom Soup with Roasted Parsnips and Caramelized Onion
This recipe is dedicated to my friend, Olivia, for a number of reasons. Firstly, she recently switched from vegetarian to vegan. A while back, she wanted to make this switch and asked me about cheese substitutes. I didn't really have an answer for her other than the obvious ones like Daiya, because most of the time, I just go without. Cheese was never a big deal for me. Secondly, Olivia told me I need to post more because she needs recipes now that she is officially vegan. (Do we have a membership pin I can give her?) So, here is a creamy, cheesy, delicious baked mac and 'yease' recipe for Olivia (and all of you.)
I know I just said cheese was never a big deal for me, but there was a short period of time prior to going vegan that I was making a lot of baked mac and cheese. Some had butternut squash, sweet potatoes and chipotle, some with a kick from goat cheese.. so, I got pretty good at making a béchamel. This sauce starts out like any cheese sauce, with a roux. To the roux, we'll add milk, nutritional yeast ('yease') where you would normally melt in cheese, and some seasonings. I then blend in a potato to help thicken it up. That's where this sauce becomes one of those 'weird vegan foods.' Ah, this cheese? Yes, it's made with potato.
You can actually completely skip the baking part of this recipe and simple toss the cheese in the sauce and eat it as is, regular old mac and cheese. I may have done that myself with a spoonful or three before baking the rest.. What? Quality control. For me, it's the bread crumb topping and scooping out a solid chunk of macaroni that really brings this dish home. It reminds me of my mom's baked mac and cheese, which was one of my absolute favorite things she cooked. Mostly, though, I just want to eat bread crumbs. What's a carb casserole without bread crumbs?
Baked Mac & Yease
Well, it has been a solid two months since you've heard from me. The holidays are a crazy time for bakers. More orders means longer days, combine that with having a second job and working a full seven days a week and you won't have much time to eat, let alone good a website-worthy meal at home. Now, it's finally January. The holiday craziness is over, it actually feels like winter outside, and I bring you some tummy-warming recipes.
Have you ever attempted to look up vegan chili recipes and just find that they are just packed with too many ingredients? In my mind, chili should be simple. Something you should be able to cook in a big batch and keep in the fridge, heating up small portions to quickly warm you from the cold of winter throughout the week. When a chili recipe calls for four different kinds of beans and way too many veggies, it kind of loses all of it's chili qualities for me. What are these qualities, you ask? Pretty standard.. Chili should have a lot of kidney beans, a thick red base of diced tomatoes and their juices, pepper and onion (and maybe some corn), a nice kick of heat, and a whole lot of flavor.
Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of delicious variations of chili. However, if you're going for a standard vegan chili, you should keep it.. pretty standard. Which is exactly what I have here for you! This chili has been made so many times over the past few years, but hasn't been physically written down as a recipe until this past week. When I used to live with my ex, I made chili all the time. It was his favorite meal. His only complaint was that it always tasted different. So, I made a giant batch of this chili and actually measured everything I put in it, tasting it, and recording all of my changes meticulously. I ended up making way too much, though, and packed some up for a couple friends and my roommates. All of which have thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, Bren, I finally figured it out!
Damn Good Vegan Chili (GF)
When I was a bread baker for a living, the first thing I would do every morning at 5am was make the scones for the day. I still am not totally sure why, but it was one of my favorite things to do. Something about pressing the dough flat with my hands and cutting them out was so calming. I probably cherished this slow moment every morning because it was before the bread shaping and croissant rolling craziness began. So, now, making scones is a great way for me to relieve stress.
Another reason I really enjoy making scones is they are a nice, blank canvas. They require few ingredients to make the base, most of which you will probably have on hand. Then, all you need to do is add a bit of flavor. Fresh or dried fruits and berries are always a solid choice. Herbs, spices, and tea flavors also work wonderfully. Of course, combinations are always best, which is why I chose to go with cranberry orange. It's also a great flavor combination for this time of year.
As for creating that blank canvas, veganizing scones is a fairly easy task compared to other baked goods. There is no egg in traditional scones, so the only things needed to substitute are butter and buttermilk. Both of which are incredibly easy to swap out with some Earth Balance and vinegar in soymilk, respectively. Not only are these easy to eat, but they are easy to eat as a quick morning option with your coffee or tea compared to a muffin or a flaky pastry as those tend to be a little messier. However, these are also wonderful for a brunch style get together, a morning after a long night with friends, or just for relaxing with yourself, tea, and a book.
Cranberry Orange Scones
This carrot salad is something that we have on our salad bar at my second job, which is an all vegetarian falafel spot. It's one of my favorite items that we offer. This recipe that I'm sharing with you is not the recipe used there, but it was fairly simple enough to figure out the ingredients and toss it together at home. The carrot salad has ties originating it to Morocco, but it is also frequently used in Israeli and Middle Eastern mezze platters.
This dish is simple and contains few ingredients. It still has plenty of flavor. though. The sweetness of the carrots contrasts nicely with the pungent, earthy flavor of the cumin. This salad still manages to retain a light, fresh quality with the use of parsley and lemon juice. This blend of aromatic spices makes it a perfect companion to any late summer or fall meals. Of course, it's traditional use as part of an appetizer spread with hummus and other pickled, mediterranean vegetables is also lovely. However you choose to pair this salad, I hope you enjoy it! It's one of my personal favorites
Moroccan Carrot Salad (GF)
This banana nut granola was made on a total whim. I wasn't totally sure how it would turn out, but it ended up being fantastic! Both roommates tried some and both of them enjoyed it. As for me, I've been snacking on it everyday since I made it. It stores nicely for about a week in an airtight container on a countertop. I'm very excited to share this recipe as it is not only delicious, but contains no refined sugar. While I did use some maple syrup for flavor, the overripe bananas are the main reason why this granola contains no refined sugar. When bananas are overripe, they have a stronger flavor and also become sweeter. This lessens your need for added sugars, which is why bananas are so awesome in baked goods. And in general. I generally just love anything with bananas.
Last weekend, I went camping in upstate New York with my sister and a friend of ours. Let me diverge from food talk for one moment to tell you how beautiful it was: It was BEAUTIFUL. We went to Watkins Glen, Taughannock Falls, and Robert H Tremans State Park, which was my personal favorite. So many water falls, trees, and other incredible sights to take in.. I loved it. The reason I bring this up, though, is because I had bought some oats to bring along so I could eat them for breakfast. I ended up bringing him about half the container, so I knew I had to do something involving oats when I returned and I had been meaning to do a granola. Then, I noticed that one of my roommates had some forgotten bananas in the fridge. While most people may see a blackened banana and deem it inedible, my eyes light up.
As for the add-ins, I went a non-traditional route. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of walnuts. I do like banana walnut muffins and I do have a banana walnut french toast recipe, but they just aren't my favorite nut. Bananas also pair well with so many nuts, so why stick to something that we see time and time again? I chose to go with pecans, because they're my favorite nut, as well as some hazelnuts.. mostly because I saw them in the store and thought they'd be a fun addition. You can keep things classic with walnuts, do walnuts and pecans, just pecans, almonds, or no nuts at all! This part I would definitely cater to your personal taste.
Banana Nut Granola (GF)
I might be jumping the gun on the fall recipes here, but it's still a nice, crisp salad so I think it's an acceptable transition recipe! Of course, we're very much in between seasons, but every day is some weird hybrid of summer and autumn. I wake up in the morning and I need a light hoodie to walk to work. I leave work and I would be dying if I were still wearing that hoodie. Thus draws my inspiration for this changing of seasons salad.
The bed of this salad is a mix of arugula and spinach, tossed with thinly sliced fennel and shallot to add some depth in flavor. While the pears are sauteed to soften their texture, they still lend this salad a light, crisp feel. While flavor is, of course, the most important element in creating a dish, I also admire the subtle beauty of pears. They may be neutral in color, but there is just something so elegant about their appearance. Of course, being vegan and consuming a diet of mostly produce, it would almost be a challenge to put together a plate that isn't beautiful. With the abundance of color and organic shapes available in nature.. but I digress..
My favorite element in this salad is the dressing. There were actually a few last minute changes made to the dressing which took it above and beyond. Originally, I had made a simple balsamic vinaigrette, which was fine. In the end, though, it just fell a little flat. To give credit where it is due, it was actually my chef at work who helped me perfect the dressing. I told him all of the components of my salad and he suggested a honey and thyme balsamic vin. Of course, honey is a no-go, so I chose to sub it with maple syrup. I'm actually really pleased with the end result. It pairs so well with the salad and.. maybe makes it a little more autumn than 'transitional' but that's alright because it's delightful.
Sautéed Pear and Fennel Salad with Maple Thyme Balsamic Vinaigrette
Happy September! Have ya'll noticed I got new dishes? This is just one of the many things new in my life right now. I just moved into a new place, have two new and astoundingly kind roommates, and started a new second job! It's been hectic, but I managed to find the time to sneak in one more super summer-y recipe with a nod to the upcoming fall season. I personally love soup, so it's a little upsetting that it's usually far too hot for soup in the summer. Thank goodness for gazpacho. This one is delicious and really simple to make.
I really enjoy veganizing traditional meals or finding interesting ways to make substitutes for non-vegan ingredients. It really can be fun. What I really love, though, is making a delicious meal that is naturally vegan and can be enjoyed by anyone without being scared away by 'weird' ingredients. This soup would be one of those fresh, delicious, naturally vegan meals. The base of this gazpacho is watermelon and tomatoes. Not only does this give the soup a very light taste and feel, but it also gives a marvelous pink color. For this soup, you really want to use good tomatoes and juicy watermelon. Any gritty fruits will, unfortunately, take away from the texture. To add to the refreshing quality of the soup, we're also using cucumber in the base. To add some depth to the very delicate flavors we have going on here, I also added a shallot and a habanero. You can adjust the spice level as desired, by adding more or less of the pepper. I like adding one entire habanero, but you can use half of one, or even two!
If you're timid of heat, fear not. We're going to balance out the spice with cilantro and lime. These two citrusy ingredients will also be incorporated into our watermelon-cucumber garnish. Aside from helping tone down the heat, this garnish will also add a bit of texture to the soup. This gazpacho is very light and can be served as an entree, but I would suggest a side. Personally, I think that some ciabatta with oil and herbs for dipping is a really lovely pairing. If you would like to keep things gluten-free, you could opt for a simple bean salad using navy beans or chickpeas. To keep things raw, but bulk this gazpacho up, consider adding some hemp seeds to the garnish for protein. I would recommend keeping your side on the fresh and simple side, nothing too heavy. Make this for a date, and bring a bottle of white wine! That's a side right? Regardless of what you choose, I would love to hear your pairings! Be sure to let us know in the comments. If you Instagram, tag us in your photos with @cookitkind or #cookitkind. I love seeing what you come up with!
Watermelon Habanero Gazpacho
Happy Taco Tuesday! I've been working like a dog as of late, but I finally found the time to develop this summery, tangy, slightly spicy taco recipe that I've been dreaming of. For me, these were devoured with some much needed tequila. In my last taco recipe, I made a mock pulled pork using jackfruit. (Can you tell I have a love for Mexican fusion?) While it looked quite a lot like pulled pork and absorbed flavor wonderfully, it didn't really offer much in the way of texture. This time around, I chose to use cauliflower, which turned out excellent.
I broke up the head of cauliflower by hand, breaking it all into large florets, then smaller, then tearing all of those into bite size pieces. Once you have them all broken down into small florets, you can certainly chop them; I just prefer using my hands. The first time I made these tacos, I steamed the cauliflower very lightly. I felt that softening it up would allow it to lend itself to absorb the barbecue marinade more easily. The next time, I didn't steam them. Honestly, I couldn't find much of a difference in the flavor, but I do think they had a better texture when steamed, so I will include it in the recipe as an option.
The barbecue marinade I made for these tacos is tangy and sweet with a hint of spice (or more if you prefer!) To really give that island feel, I topped them with a pineapple salsa. Very fresh, light, and summery to contrast the saucy and chewy cauliflower. It's especially nice if you choose to add more heat to the cauliflower. Though, I like all things to be spicy, so I added a touch of sriracha to my salsa as well. I haven't included it in the recipe, but if you're a fan of heat, I would definitely suggest it!
For color and texture, I chose to add red cabbage to these tacos. I love cabbage and basically any member of the brassica family. I was snacking on the cabbage, not the pineapples or anything else, while making these tacos. I just really love the pungent flavor. I went with red mostly for color, but I feel it really completes the dish. With all of these components combined, I was very satisfied with the way these tacos turned out! I hope you enjoy them as well. Don't forget to post any of your pictures of our recipes with #cookitkind I love seeing your creations!
Hawaiian BBQ Cauliflower Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
"Shania hates mayo all right, and she can't eat chicken salad, thats no joke."
Any I Heart Huckabees fans? If so, you'll understand my very funny name for this recipe. Well, I think it's funny.. So in the movie, Shania Twain can't eat chicken salad. According to Brad Stand, it's because she hates mayo. Towards the end of the movie, she makes an appearance and reveals that it's because she's a vegetarian (props, Shania) but we're gonna stick with the whole 'no mayo' joke because that's what makes my chickpea salad unique.
If you've been a vegan (or vegetarian) for even a minute you probably know that you can make a delicious sandwich by mashing up some chickpeas, mixing them with mayo, and throwing some tomato and lettuce on there. Everyone has a vegan chickpea salad recipe. It's easy. It's so easy, you probably don't even need a recipe. I'm here to show you that you can up your chickpea salad game by swapping that oil-laden and potentially processed mayo for a whole food! If you've been following our recipes, you could probably guess which whole food it is as I have time and time again expressed my love for this green goddess. I'm talking about avocado, of course. A healthy fat, hella delicious, and super easy to turn into mayo, ranch dressing, or whatever creamy condiment your heart desires. By using a whole food instead of mayo, you can ensure that this recipe is essentially allergen free! No cashews or other nuts, no soy, no added oils or thickening agents needed.
This also makes a great side dish. Just be sure to at least double the recipe if you plan on taking it to a summer barbecue because I promise you people are going to eat it up. It's delicious! I'm totally guilty of eating an extra spoonful while making it.. and while making sandwiches.. oops. Just be warned that it will turn a slightly brown color when saved as it is made with avocado.
Oil, Gluten, & Soy-Free Chickpea Salad
My name is Ellen Jane and I spend my free time doing vegan experiments in my kitchen so you don't have to. Take a look around.