Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lighter Version of Luscious Bread Pudding

I love the bread pudding at Golden Corral.  It's rich and decadent and I am sure thousands of calories.  I found a copycat version and subbed out some ingredients.  While it isn't the exact same thing, but it's delicious and very rich.  And excellent for reheating the next day.

3 cups hawaiin sweet bread, cubed
1/2 cup melted margarine of choice (I used smart balance)
2 cups fat free milk
2/3 cup of egg whites/beaters
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar (dark)

White Sauce
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons margarine of choice

1 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scald milk with butter in a saucepan, let cool.  (Don't skip this step)  Once cool add rest of ingredients except bread.  Mix well.  Spread bread cubes in a well greased pan, pour milk mixture over it.  Smoosh it down a bit to ensure it's all soaking up.  You should have liquid in places which is fine.  It will absorb.  Place in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes till it's absorbed and looks almost dry on top. Don't overbake.  While it's baking, prepare the white sauce.  Make a roux with the margarine and flour till just incorporated over medium heat.  Let it cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour flavor.  Stream in milk and whisk briskly till slightly thickened.  Add sugar and whisk till all smooth.  Take off heat and add vanilla and stir through.  When bread pudding is out of the oven, pour white sauce over top.  Serve warm. 

*To make this more friendly, you can sub out the sugar for Splenda or other substitute.  You can taste for sweetness to gauge how much or how little you need.  You can use any breads you like as well.  I have used french bread to parker house rolls.  I like the hawaiin sweet rolls the best for this.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vegan and Fat Free Dishes

I recently had the pleasure of my aunt's company this week.  She made a radical lifestyle change in her diet several months ago to address several health concerns all at once.  She eats no meat, no oil and no dairy.  I offered to host her for dinner and she tried to mention that she would bring her own foods as to not put me out.  I told her she was silly and it would be an adventure to cook for her.  Remembering our conversations over the last several months about her "journey" as a Vegan, I know she missed having sweets and eating certain comfort foods.  So I did a ton of research and trial and error and came up with several dishes.  Interesting about these dishes that my entire family ate these same dishes.  So it isn't full of "fake" meats etc.  All natural ingredients and very easily adaptable.

Eggplant/Squash Lasagna with homemade marinara and garlic "cream" sauce.

Eggplant, 2 large ones
Zuchini, 2 regular sized
Yellow Squash, 2 regular sized
Salt/Pepper to taste

Marinara Sauce:
1 cup of vegan red wine OR vegetable stock
1 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 or 3 garlic gloves, chopped OR smashed to aid in easy removal later if wished
2 tbsp of basil leaves, ripped
1 bay leaf
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1 tbsp of agave syrup OR vegan safe sweetener
More basil for ending tasting
Salt/Pepper to taste

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 package of silken tofu
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
Salt/Pepper to taste

Add wine or stock to large dutch oven/pan.  Add everything UP to the tomatoes.  Let it simmer over low heat till all softened.  (this is the step you would normally saute these aromatics, this is a workaround)  This took about 15 minutes or so and over a low heat.  If the wine or stock reduces too much, add a touch more.  Once softened, add can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and agave syrup.  Stir through and simmer for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Longer is best.  When ready to assemble lasagna, add basil and salt/pepper to taste.  Don't bother salting earlier as tomato "eats" salt.  The salty taste will disappear but not the sodium.  It's often why jarred tomato sauces are so high in sodium but don't taste salty.

Wbile sauce is simmering, peel eggplant and zucchini.  Slice lengthwise in half the eggplants and then again.  Slice thinly lengthwise in long strips.  Line cookie sheets with non stick foil OR parchment paper (or you can oil pans)  and salt/pepper the eggplant slices as you lay them side by side on the cookie sheet.  I used 4 cookie sheets for everything.  Slice the squashes in thin medallions and salt/pepper as you lay them on the cookie sheets.  Bake in oven at 325 for 15 minutes or till soft.  Remove from oven and let cool.

In a food processor, puree the garlic with salt/pepper.  Then add the tofu and basil and puree till smooth.  Set aside.

In a deep lasagna pan, spoon a bit of sauce to cover bottom.  Layer eggplant slices in a single layer as if they were pasta.  Add a bit more sauce, cream sauce, squashes medallions, sauce.  And then do it all over again.  The last layer should be of the tomato sauce and any remaining garlic cream sauce.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread.

Vegan Desserts

Fudgey Brownies
Any brownie mix, I used a vegan organic one
A can of black beans, drained and rinsed.

Puree black beans with 1/4 cup of water in a food processor till really smooth.  About 5 minutes.  Scrape into a big bowl and add brownie mix.  Stir well, it will be thick.  Scrape into a pan and bake for 30 minutes or till a toothpick comes clean at 325. 

Chocolate pudding
1 package of Silken Tofu
Agave Syrup, Maple Syrup OR liquid sweetener of choice, about 1/4 cup or so to taste
1/4 cup of cocoa powder or to taste

Toss everything in the food processor and pulse till smooth and mixed well.  Spoon into pretty dessert bowls and chill for at least one hour.  Serve.

Apple Cider Carrot Cake with Apple Cider Glaze

  • 2 cups finely grated carrots

  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
    1 cup of Apple Cider or Apple Juice
    1 cup of water
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3 cups All purpose Flour
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 cup of powder sugar (I found vegan safe one at the organic store)
    3 or 4 tbsp of apple cider or juice
    In a sauce pan, cook together carrots, sugar, cider/juice, water till hot.   About 5 minutes on medium. Then remove and let cool.  In a bowl, mix rest of ingredients.  When cooled, add sugar/juice mixture and stir well.  Spoon into a parchment lined cake pan OR non stick bundt cake pan.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean.  In a small bowl, mix sugar and juice and pour over hot cake.  Serve.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    Vegan Lime Cilantro black bean patties/hamburgers

    Trying to eat healthier, I made these bean patties that is influenced by my Cuban heritage.  Hope you enjoy!

    A can of black beans OR 2 cups of cooked black beans
    A small onion, chopped finely
    1 garlic, chopped finely
    1/2 red pepper, diced finely
    About 1-2 tbsp of cilantro, chopped finely OR parsley if you don't like cilantro
    Packet of Goya seasoning, con azafaron
    1 tbsp of Badia Complete Seasoning
    1/2 tsp of smoked spanish paprika.
    1 tsp of Oregano
    1/2 tsp of Cumin
    Salt/Pepper to taste
    Juice of one lime
    Plain bread crumbs, about 1/3 cup

    Saute onion and pepper till just softened, set aside.
    Get all the ingredients and mash together.  (I did mine in a food processor).  Taste for seasoning.  I tended to add a touch more salt sometimes.  Form into patties and place in fridge to firm up a bit.  Meanwhile you can heat up a touch of olive oil and cook on medium heat till crispy on both sides.  About 3-5 minutes.  Serve on soft crusty cuban bread with avocado and tomatoes.

    Easy and utterly delish Barbecoa or "Mexican Shredded Beef" Crockpot

    I know real Barbecoa is a whole head simmered till tender and shredded out of it and put into tacos etc.  I am so not doing all that. But instead I have found a ridiculously easy recipe using the crockpot.  There are of course endless variations but here is mine with a bit more of a bent to healthy.

    3 pound bone in chuck roast.  (I have seen sirloin, flank etc.  Chuck is best for this)
    1 cup of beef stock
    1 chopped onion
    5 cloves of garlic smashed
    1 tbsp of chipotle powder OR chili powder
    1 tbsp of cumin
    1 tbsp of oregano
    salt/pepper to taste
    1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar OR red or white vinegar will work fine.
    A few sprigs of cilantro, optional.

    For freezing sauce:
    Chipotle in adobo sauce
    2 tbsp or so of chopped cilantro (optional)
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/2 cup of mojo (bottled or homemade)
    3 peeled cloves of garlic
    1 small chopped onion
    1 small tomato, chopped
    1/2 cup of water

    Rub the meat with the spices on both sides, add to crockpot with rest of the ingredients and set cooker to low.  Let it cook for 10 hours.  Now here is the hard part, you HAVE to do the next steps exactly as written here to get best results.  I have tasted it with and without and let me tell you it's a huge difference in taste/yumminess.

    When ready, turn off heat and let it cool as you make the freezer sauce.  In a sauce pan, put enough oil to cover bottom, saute onions till soft.  Add garlic and cook till fragrant.  Then add rest of ingredients.  I put in one pepper and a spoonful of the adobo sauce.  You can add more to taste.  Let it simmer on medium till slightly reduced.  About 5 minutes.  Let cool.  Then with a stick blender or put in a blender, puree till smooth.  Set aside.

    Remove meat, discard juice.  Shred meat into a large baggie.  Leave off bones, fatty tissues etc.  Pour the freezer sauce you just made and massage it through.  Seal well and place in freezer. YES, you must do this step.  Let it completely harden, about 6 hours to overnight.  Then let it thaw in refrigerater all day.  You can then put into a sauce pan and bring it up to temperature.  I also used a microwave as well. 

    I served it on lightly charred corn tortillas with avocado, red onions and a squeeze of lime.  You can eat it straight out of the pan.  However you want, but it's so good.

    I have been slacking so badly.  But now I will promise myself to post at least a recipe a day.  I discovered a few new ones and will be adding them today.  My apologies!