January 28, 2014

Vegan Taco Chili Layer Dip


It's the end of January, and that means it's time for my annual Super Bowl recipe post! 

For the past two years, I've posted new versions of layer dips because that's my favourite thing to eat while watching the big game (or maybe I just like having an excuse to eat chips and dip for dinner!).

This year I tried a new spin on my usual layer dip by making a chili version inspired by a recipe in the Vegan Planet cookbook. This chili taco dip has four main layers: leftover vegetarian chili on the bottom, salsa, mashed avocado, and a vegan "cheese" sauce made with nutritional yeast instead of regular shredded cheese, plus some pickled jalapenos as an extra topping. 

If you can manage to get your chip through all the layers at once, you get the perfect combination of flavours and textures - chunky beans and veggies, smooth salsa, creamy avocado and cheese sauce. There's a bit of spice in each layer too, from the chili to the kick of the jalapenos, but I found it to be just the right amount of heat!

This is a pretty easy dish to whip up if you've got leftover chili already sitting in the fridge, like I did from this veggie black bean and lentil chili recipe. Then all you need to do is mash an avocado, make the cheese sauce (which really only takes a few minutes), and then the fun part - putting all the layers together!

If you're watching the Super Bowl this weekend, what do you plan on making? Last year I contributed baked pickle chips, buffalo cauliflower wings, and monkey bread to our game day menu but I haven't decided what I'll be having yet this year (besides layer dip of course!). If you're looking for more ideas, feel free to check out all of my other Super Bowl recipes!

Vegan Taco Chili Layer Dip
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 cup vegetarian chili
1/2 cup salsa
1 ripe avocado
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
Ground pepper
Dash of taco seasoning
1 recipe nacho cheese sauce (recipe below)
Handful of pickled sliced jalapenos, chopped

Place the chili in the bottom of a small dish (I used a 20 oz, 5" square ceramic dish). Note: if there is liquid in your chili, try to drain it out first so that your dip doesn’t get too runny. Reheat the chili in the microwave until it reaches room temperature.

Next, layer the salsa over the chili, spreading it out into an even layer with a small spatula.

Scoop out the insides of the avocado (remove the pit) into a bowl and mash until it is fairly smooth. Add the lime juice, salt, some freshly ground pepper, and a dash or two of taco seasoning. Stir to mix. Spread the avocado mixture over the salsa layer.

Spread the nacho cheese sauce evenly over the avocado layer. Finally, sprinkle some jalapeno slices over the top (use as much or as little as you like). Serve immediately, or cover and store in the fridge. Bring to room temperature (or reheat slightly) before serving.

Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are!)

Nacho "Cheese" Sauce

1 tbsp chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp tex-mex or taco seasoning
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp almond milk

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chickpea flour and toast, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast and spices. Add almond milk and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly for a few minutes, until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Makes about 1/3 cup

January 22, 2014

Brussels Sprout Slaw

As my cookbook collection grows, I'm trying to make more of an effort to actually try more of the recipes in them. It's easy to make recipes from other blogs because they're easily accessible from anywhere (laptop, phone, etc.) and they come with reviews, comments, and most importantly, pictures so I can see how the finished dish is supposed to turn out!

Some of my favourite recipes, however, have come from the many cookbooks on my shelves, which makes sense when you think of how much work and testing goes into perfecting those recipes before they're published!

The latest cookbook that I got for Christmas was Pure Vegan, a gorgeous book with recipes divided into time of day rather than the usual categories. Since I wanted to make sure I tried some of the recipes, I chose my first one to make last week and it was this simple brussels sprout slaw.

The original recipe called for just raw brussels sprouts with walnuts and a minimal dressing of olive oil and lemon juice with some nutritional yeast added for a bit of cheesy flavour.

For my version, I used toasted pecans instead of walnuts, and added tahini to the dressing to thicken it up a bit, because I like creamier dressings for slaws.

I loved the method of preparing the brussels sprouts since you end up with whole leaves that act like little cups to scoop up the nuts and hold in the dressing really well! The dressing had a nice balance of nutty, lemony and cheesy notes to it, which was perfect for covering up any bitterness remaining in the brussels sprouts.

While you may not win over brussels sprouts haters with this dish, it's a nice simple salad that would also hold up well for lunches or potlucks without getting soggy.

Hopefully I'll be able to try more recipes from Pure Vegan soon, and if you have the cookbook, let me know if you have any recommendations!

Brussels Sprout Slaw
Adapted from Pure Vegan

1/2 lb brussels sprouts
3-4 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/8 tsp salt
Ground pepper

Wash brussels sprouts well. Slice off the bottoms and remove the outer layers of leaves (discard them). Carefully separate the remaining leaves, trying to keep them whole as much as possible (I found it easier to first cut out the core from the bottom and then pull apart the leaves). Transfer leaves to a bowl.

Heat a small skillet on the stove over medium heat. Toast the nuts for a few minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and add to the bowl.

Stir together the remaining ingredients until you get a smooth sauce. Pour over the brussels sprouts and toss well to mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 1-2 servings.

January 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Roasted Chickpeas

With both awards show season and football playoffs having started this month, it's the perfect time to load up on snack ideas for evenings in front of the TV with friends and family (or even if you're not into sports and awards shows, which I'm sure a lot of people aren't, hopefully you can still use some more healthy snack ideas!).

Last weekend, I watched the Golden Globe Awards in addition to some football (but only because my sister's favourite team was playing). And with the bigger events that I always look forward to - Super Bowl and the Oscars - coming up soon, I spent my Sunday testing out some new snack recipes!

The first snack that I came up with were these peanut butter roasted chickpeas. I've seen a lot of recipes for roasted chickpeas where the chickpeas are coated in various combinations of spices and baked in the oven until crispy, and I've tried them once myself and liked them as a different snack option than usual.

Instead of a savory snack this time though, I wanted to try a sweeter variation. I considered coating the chickpeas in chocolate, like the Nourishing Gourmet did, but since I'm not a huge chocolate lover, I thought that peanut butter would make an even tastier coating!

These were super simple to whip up - all you need to do is toss the chickpeas in a bit of coconut oil, add cinnamon, agave, and vanilla for flavouring, and roast them in the oven until they get nice and crispy. Once they're done, you toss the warm chickpeas in a peanut butter and coconut oil mixture until each one is coated.

Sprinkle on some salt and sugar and you have a slightly sweet and salty snack to munch on that's still pretty nutritious too!

Peanut Butter Coated Roasted Chickpeas

1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp melted coconut oil
1/2-1 tbsp agave nectar (I used 1/2 tbsp and they weren't too sweet)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 tbsp peanut butter 
1/2 tsp coconut oil*
Salt and sugar to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chickpeas in a small bowl and add the melted coconut oil, agave, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly. Spread chickpeas out on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring once, until toasted and crispy. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl.

Place the peanut butter and coconut oil in a small microwavable bowl and microwave for 10-20 seconds, until coconut oil is melted. Stir to mix well, then pour over the chickpeas. Stir until chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread coated chickpeas onto a plate and place in the refrigerator (or freezer if you're in a hurry) to cool. Once the peanut butter is a bit hardened, remove from fridge and bring to room temperature. Sprinkle with salt and a pinch of sugar if desired (I added both because my peanut butter was the natural kind without added salt and sugar).

Store in the fridge and eat cold or at room temperature. Best eaten on the day of, but they will last one or two days in the fridge.

Makes 1-2 servings (depending on how hungry you are - double the recipe if you're making these for a group)

*Note: the coconut oil in the peanut butter coating is what makes it firm up in the fridge (since coconut oil is solid at cool temperatures). I have not tested this with other types of oil, which may not harden as well. 

January 13, 2014

Veggie Black Bean & Lentil Chili with Stout

I know that my last post was a soup recipe and here I am again with a recipe for chili, but it is the season for warm bowls of comfort food, so hopefully you don't mind!

I've been wanting to make a chili ever since the temperatures first dropped in the fall, but I didn't get around to it until last week, and I ended up with enough servings to last me the full week - something I always appreciate!

Chili is something you can't really go wrong with in my opinion - there are so many different versions of it and as long as you include some beans (although I know many people would disagree with me on that point), veggies, and lots of spices then you'll end up with a hearty vegetarian chili perfect for warming up with on a January night!

For this version, I added sweet potatoes, carrots, and green pepper for the main veggies, and instead of the more traditional kidney beans, I used a combination of black beans and lentils. I loved the mix of textures and the way the lentils kind of dissolved into everything else to create a thick and chunky base.

To build extra layers of flavour, I also added a dose of cocoa powder and used a dark stout as the liquid. The chocolately notes in the beer combined with the hint of cocoa powder added a nice depth and richness to the chili without being too detectable (as in, you probably wouldn't guess that they're in there if you didn't know).

Serve this with a piece of cornbread and add your favourite chili toppings (I ate mine with crushed tortilla chips), and you've got a filling meal perfect for those nights when you want some comfort food that's still on the healthy side!

Veggie Black Bean & Lentil Chili with Stout
Adapted from Appetite for Reduction (as seen here) and Minimalist Baker

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato (~3/4 lb), peeled and diced
1 large green pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
12 oz dark stout beer
2 cans (398mL/14oz each) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno, then stir in carrot, sweet potato, and green pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Add spices (chili powder to salt) and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add cocoa powder and beer and let simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beer has reduced slightly.

Stir in tomatoes, lentils, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Let sit until chili is cool enough to eat.  Serve with your favourite chili toppings if desired (I recommend coarsely crushed tortilla chips!).

Makes  4-6 servings

January 07, 2014

Curried Cauliflower Potato Soup

I know most of you are probably sick of hearing people talking about the cold weather lately, so I'll try not to complain about it in this post! But with the wind chill bringing temperatures to below -30 all day in my area, all I'm craving is a nice comforting bowl of soup (and some hot chocolate)!

I actually made this soup last week when we were in the middle of another extremely cold spell and it was the perfect dinner to warm me up from the inside out - not only from the temperature of the soup but also from the spices that were just hot enough to make my nose start to run!

This recipe is actually very similar to one that I made a couple of years ago, but instead of pumpkin this time, I used potato to help thicken it. I love pureed vegetable soups that are thick and creamy, and this is definitely one of those soups! I also left some of the cooked cauliflower pieces separate and stirred them in after pureeing the soup to add some texture throughout.

A bowl of this warm curry spiced soup with some naan bread to scoop it up is my idea of a comforting meal for this winter weather! Hope you're all staying warm too!

Curried Cauliflower Potato Soup
Slightly adapted from my Cauliflower Pumpkin Soup

2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp curry powder
Dash of cayenne
4 cups vegetable broth
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt to taste
~1 tsp lemon juice

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add about 1/4 to 1/3 of the chopped cauliflower pieces to the pot (I chopped these pieces even smaller first) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is browned. Remove from pot and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in the saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring often. Add onion, curry powder, and cayenne and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened.

Add vegetable broth, remaining cauliflower pieces and potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Transfer soup to a blender in batches and puree until smooth. Stir in the reserved cauliflower pieces.

Taste and add salt if desired (I didn’t add any because my vegetable broth had enough salt in it). Stir in lemon juice.

Makes ~4 servings.


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