Crisp Rice Treats – Familiar but Vegan

O.K. so everyone calls these Rice Krispies treats even though they are made with other rice crisp  cereal and vegan marshmallows.  I guess it’s like calling a tissue a Kleenex.  Anyways, I thought these would be fun to make and package for my daughter’s soccer team snack.  My box had a peanut butter version, so I went online to look up the original.  This was a fun one to do with my kids.  Super easy.  I realized I hadn’t made these in quite a while when my son looked into the pot with an amazed face and said “Wow, these are cool looking!”

 

How can 3 little ingredients add to so much fun, ease and taste?  The thing is we don’t buy Rice Krispies Cereal (high fructose corn syrup) or regular marshmallows.  No worries.  We used Trader Joe’s Puffed Rice cereal (Ewewhorn makes one too – no GMO’s and organic) and found vegan, gelatin free marshmallows  (Dandies’ or Sweet & Sara).  Of course once my vegetarian daughter found out what was in regular marshmallows (gelatin is made of hides and  bone) she wasn’t haven’t any.  I don’t blame her – yuck!  I bet you could even make this recipe with vegan sticks, but no need to go there if you don’t have to.  The expense of the marshmallows alone is twice that of the regular gelatinous ones.  The funny thing is even one of my daughter’s friends who apparently rejected one of these earlier in the day at Starbuck’s, ate this version after the game.  Maybe we’re on to something.  Of course most people didn’t know about the vegan marshmallows so when another family made Rice Crispy treats another game my daughter passed and said they weren’t vegetarian and told the dad all about what’s in marshmallows.  Oops!  We need to work on simply saying “no thank you” without a political or nutritional statement.

 

Here’s the recipe, which may not be on the box of other  rice cereal.

Crisp Rice Treats

3 Tbl unsalted butter

10 oz. vegan or regular marshmallows

6 cups crisp/toasted rice cereal

Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add  cereal all at once. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into prepared 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan while warm. (Be careful if children are helping) Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. (Best if served the same day.)

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Gazpacho! – God Bless You

My kids never remember the word gazpacho, but think it’s funny when I say it and  and remind them it’s cold veggie soup.  While it isn’t their favorite, it is mine.  Making it for me means summer.  I’ll make a batch and serve it for dinner with salad and/or sandwiches and then enjoy the left-overs for lunch during the week.  It’s great to make in summer too because of the delicious tomatoes in season.  You can really add just about any veggie here.  You just throw it all in the blender with some beans (good protein) and spices and you’re done in 5 minutes from start to finish.  This also makes a nice appetizer to put in small teacups or shot glasses to have ready for summer outdoor gatherings.

 

Gabby’s Gazpacho, from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Three year old Gabby called this soup “punch”, because it couldn’t be soup, since soup was hot”.  I think it’s a good way to give your family a powerful “punch” of vegetables full of folic acid and fiber.  It’s a refreshing meal on a hot summer day.

5 medium vine-ripened organic tomatoes, quartered (about 4 ½ cups)

½ medium organic cucumber, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

½ cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans

1/8 cup chopped organic red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable broth

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Garnish (optional)

½ cup chopped avocado, tomato and/or peeled cucumber

 

Blend all ingredients except optional garnish in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not Eating…Due to Spite

I have a sassy, stubborn and dramatic 5 year old girl.  She is also cute and smart, thankfully.   You too?  Well I’ve written that mine is vegetarian.  Lately she has decided if she isn’t getting the meal she wants, she just won’t eat.  Is the name for this diet a spitetarian or a stubbornarian?

 

After a big 3 hour hike (yes, her too) we went with friends for lunch.  We were all very hungry.  My daughter wanted pasta and I said no because she had pasta the previous night.  There was a huge variety of foods, many even vegetarian.  She said she wasn’t eating then.  O.K. fine.  I really am o.k. with my kids not eating a meal, and they’ve even gone to bed hungry.  I know they won’t starve.  I don’t think that makes me a bad mom.  I’ve done my job and presented a healthy meal and it’s their choice to eat it or not.  I’ve met enough parents who have become short order cooks, offering their child meal after meal (usually gets down to pb & j or cereal) because they need to see their kids eat something.  However in a restaurant I’m kind of stuck.  I haven’t presented her with anything.  Her brother’s burger comes with a side salad, so we (my son agrees too) decide that can be her’s if she changed her mind.

 

When I wasn’t looking she ate a few bites.  She didn’t ask for anything until dinner, but she put it away then.  Just like a Spitetarian…

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Peas and Thank You – New Family Meatless Cookbook Review and Give Away

Sarah Matheny, author of the popular blog, Peas and Thank You has written a new cookbook, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, after changing her family’s diet to one without meat products.  She has an easy and witty style about her writing and this book is peppered with food photos as well as her little “peas” (aka girls) enjoying her recipes.  This book has stories, tips and recipes from a mainstream family that takes on a not-so mainstream diet.

 

This book is a good one for those looking to make a diet switch and eat less animal products, as well as someone just looking for new meatless ideas.  I know I am.  Sarah has recipes from morning to night.  There are fruit smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches and salads (Hugh Jass Salad is just for mom) for lunch and hot meals (curry, jambalaya) for dinner.  Plus a few retooled desserts without the use of dairy (carrot cupakes).

 

My family made the homestyle chocolate chips cookies with sea salt, the thai veggie burgers and the homestyle spaghetti sauce.  While the cookies were good, I did notice they were missing something…butter.  But good to have a vegan recipe for such a popular treat.  Also the veggie burgers were good, but needed some sauce to lend moisture.  Luckily Sarah has a versatile almond ginger recipes that did the trick for me.  The spaghetti sauce was rich and easy (see below).  We used it on pasta as well as sauce for homemade pizza.

Review

Pros: good variety of meatless dishes, some simple and quick, fun writing style, good photos, nutritional info on each recipe, pea points on each recipe give helpful hints

Cons: some dishes require special ingredients (tempeh, non dairy cream cheese) that may be hard for some to find, some recipes are time consuming and need many ingredients

Give Away!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Sarah’s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, please send a comment on this post, with the name of your family’s favorite meatless recipe.  One winner will be chosen at random on Thurs. November 10, 2011 and notified via email.

 

Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce, pg. 142 from Peas and Thank You

It’s almost as easy as opening a jar, both with the added joy, if you wish, of letting it simmer for hours, rubbing garlic behind your ears, smearing a few splatters on your apron and bringing your thumb and teo fingers together to emphasize, “Now attsa some tasty sauce!”  You’d be right.

2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender ot food porcessor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 

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Camping Cookout 101 – Go Veggie

My family just got back from a camping trip with extended family and friends to Lake Millerton, CA.  We had a great time boating, swimming, visiting, reading and cooking.  I must admit our camping meals were pretty great.  No simple hamburgers and hot dogs at this campsite.  We had everything from sausages, to grilled veggies, to homemade chili (my sister’s prize winning),  to scratch scones (pumpkin and lemon poppyseed, thank you), to grape leaves and hummus wraps, to orzo salad, etc… Did I mention pretty much everything was vegetarian, or vegan?  My sister organized the trip and she and I divided meals and shopping.  Since she is vegan and other family members are vegetarian (my daughter of course) we went with what would be easy and satisfy everyone.

Surprisingly, the most beneficial part of the vegetarian cook outs was no bees.  There are so many times I dread eating outdoors because I think the bees are going to come eventually.  Do you eat fast?  Or buy something to keep them away?  I’ve heard everything from citronella candles to dryer sheets (not what I want to breathe when I’m eating).  Now we know, just don’t cook meat.  Ah ha!My extended family sat quietly enjoying our camp dinners, while our friends at neighboring tables were running and screaming from yellow jackets.  Not fun.  Especially with little ones.

There is a great spread about camping, cookouts and favorite chef recipes in this month’s Sunset Magazine.  Ironically, I read it while camping.  I plan to make this fire-roasted veggie salad at home on the grill for Labor Day and keep the pests away.

Fire-Roasted Vegetable Salad

(by Russell Moore of Camino in Oakland, CA)

1 garlic clove

  • 2 tablespoons high-quality red wine vinegar
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2 in. thick
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silks removed
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • About 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 2 whole onions, unpeeled
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1. Build a wood fire* in a camp grill or fire ring, using about 4 logs and some kindling; let burn to medium (you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds), about 1 hour. Adjust fire so there’s a thick area of embers and smaller logs in the middle and larger logs to the sides.

    2. Smash garlic, put in a small bowl with vinegar, and set aside. In a large bowl, toss zucchini, corn, and tomatoes with 2 tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

    3. Place onions in embers between some smaller logs and cook, turning every 10 minutes or so, until completely black and soft when squeezed with tongs, 25 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, set peppers on embers and cook, turning every few minutes, until completely charred, about 20 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a board and let cool.

    4. Set cooking grate in place, if using a portable one. Grill zucchini, corn, and tomatoes (in batches, if needed), turning occasionally, until grill marks appear, 5 to 35 minutes, depending on distance from fire.

    5. Pull off blackened outsides from onions and peppers. Cut corn kernels from cobs into large bowl. Cut remaining vegetables into slices or strips, discarding seeds; add to bowl.

    6. Stir remaining 6 tbsp. oil into vinegar with remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Toss gently with vegetables, add mint, and more salt and pepper if you like.

    *Or cook all the vegetables over (but not in) a medium (350° to 450°) charcoal fire, adding 8 briquets every 30 minutes.

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    It’s Father’s Day…Go Grill the Crap Out of Something

    I saw the message above on a greeting card and think it’s very funny.  I don’t believe it’s an accident that Father’s Day is at the begining of summer and dad’s are ready to cook and eat outside.  I guess it’s like getting back to nature and feeling like you’re living off the land and providing food for the tribe.  Or maybe it’s just to get out of the house and away from the kitchen where most of the usual action (good and bad) happens.

    Whether your dad is a BBQ guy or not, celebrate everything he does (or did) for you and your family.  I sure miss mine.  I’ll make sure my husband feels appreciated and loved by our kids and even let him watch some golf (before he grills our dinner).

    Happy Father’s Day Dad’s, Grandad’s, and Husband’s!

    Speaking of grilling, I received a copy of the new Cookouts Veggie Style, 225 Backyard Favorites – Full of Flavor, Free of Meat., by Jolinda Hackett.  This has some great inspiration for using the grill without the meat.  Note this is a vegetarian cookbook and not vegan (although there are many recipes) as there are many dishes with cheese (grilled Haloumi – yum).  Putting on a steak is always good and easy, but what if you want to grill something lighter?  Or you have a few vegetarians for dinner guest?  Or your daughter doesn’t want to eat meat today? (yes, that’s speaking personally).   We discovered putting tofu slices on the grill with our steak suits her just fine (and the rest of the family too sometimes).  See recipe below.

    Review

    Pros – Lots of great sounding recipes, with simple instructions for a variety of tastes and flavors.  A few mouthwatering photos.  Good grill basic intro.

    Cons – Serving sizes and yields seems very large on some recipes (4 people eat an entire head of cabbage for slaw? 1/2 cup of butter for 4 ears of corn!).

     

    Easy Herb-Marinated Tofu

    3 tablespoons lemon juice

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

    1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

    1 package, firm or extra firm tofu, sliced

    salt and pepper to taste

    Whisk together juice, oil and garlic until emulsified, then add in basil and rosemary.  Marinate tofu for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight – the longer the better.

    Remove the tofu from the marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place on a well greased grill over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes on each side.

    (Make etxra for left overs.  Grilled tofu is great for salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes)

     

    tofu in marinade
    Tofu on grill - oops I forgot to slice first

     

     

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    Kitchen Confessions – Cookbook Contest

    So there are a few things regarding cooking, eating and the kitchen (and beyond) that I’m not always proud of.  We all have these things right?  Nothing crazy, just things we’d rather not share with our kids, spouses and friends.  But here goes.  I have to tell someone.

    1. When my kids aren’t looking I take a lick of batter.  I do share the spoon/beater with the kids if there are no eggs in the batter.  But I tell them it’s not safe if it has egg.  The message is correct, but I risk it for myself.

    2. I forget to set or listen for timers.  My biggest mistakes in the kitchen are because I’ve overcooked something.

    3. I used to eat Taco Bell breakfast burritos frequently.  Mind you this was 20 years ago.  I also ate Pop-Tarts as a kid.

    4.  I’ve told my family a particular food was gone and I actually hid the very last of it for myself.  Specifically with a homemade chocolate sauce.

    5.  I am secretly screaming inside when my kids are served (and eat) a birthday cake from Safeway.

    6. I do not have a slow cooker.

    7. I do not like raw oysters.

    8. I am not fond of paper plates, plastic utensils and paper napkins (especially if you invite me for dinner).

    9. I’ve turned off a burner with my toes.  I know other moms have done this while holding and/or nursing a baby.  Fess up.

    11. I don’t like to be “out-ordered”.  This is when you go out to eat and your dining companion’s meal is better than yours.

    12. I eat many lunches standing up by myself in the kitchen, bewteen pick-ups, while checking phone messages, searching cookbooks, and making to do lists.

    13. I often cook to get out of doing something else, like cleaning.

    14. I put rosemary salt on just about everything.

    15. I don’t always sift, when instructed to.

    So let’s have our first contest here.  I’d love to see if anyone else does some of these things and any other confessions they’d like to share.  These should be G rated please.  The top 3 answers will receive a copy of one of the new Idiot books (and no I didn’t call you one): Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Baking and Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Freezer Meals.  Simply blog a confession or agree with one of mine.  I’ll choose the top 3 funniest and most honest.  Winners will be contacted via email for their addresses (and must respond within 72 hours, or I’ll make a new pick).  Must be in the continental US and blog here between Friday June 17th and Friday July 8th.

     

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    Cookbook Review – Raw Food for Real People

    I have to admit while I like a challenge in the kitchen sometimes I am indimidated by certain kinds of foods and cookbooks.  This was the case when I received Raw Foods for Real People; Living Vegan Food Made Simple by Rod Rotondi.  Raw foods are not new, it’s what most humans ate for centuries – nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains etc.  Basically whole foods not cooked above a certain temperature (118 F). 

    My family eats vegetarian and even vegan sometimes, but when I think of raw I think of salads and veggies (good of course as a snack or on the side, but not a regular diet).  There is a thoughtful foreward for people like me that are not quite comfortable with the whole co cooking thing.  I mean I write cookbooks, not non-cookbooks.  He talks honestly about his road to raw (living and traveling all over the globe) as well as the health benefits and history of raw foods.

    Of course I can do anything in moderation, which is Rod’s point.  He doesn’t necessarily set out to change everyone’s diet to raw, he’s giving the info and recipes and hopes you incorporate more raw food in your meals.  So I started off by making a few of the smoothies.  The Tropical whip with bananas, dates, pineapple and coconut milk was declared by my son as “the best smoothie I ever made”.  And we make a lot.  Some other things weren’t so off our usual like vegetable slaw and guacamole.  I made the Hale Kale salad to varying criticisms, but mostly a problem with texture (my daughter) and sour (my son).  I rather liked it and will experiment next time by adding tomatoes and olives and maybe feta, and less lemon juice. 

    I like having this book in my collection.  It gives me some good inspiration and also rounds out my books to be something for everyone.  You never know when a raw enthusiast is coming to dinner.  And it may be the perfect gift for someone thinking about a diet change or in need of more healthy inspiration.

    Pros: Healthy recipes and good diet information.  Some quick and easy such as dressings, salads and smoothies.  Using whole and organic foods, not only good for the body but for the environment as well.

    Cons: Some recipes just too time consuming and not simple, such as soaking nuts to make “cheez” and require some unique pantry items such as “nama shoyu”.  Also can make more recipes if you have the right equipment such as a hydrator (I don’t have). 

    And here’s a link to a TV interview / cooking demo (kale salad) that Rod did about the book when the hardcover came out last year:  http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=view_from_the_bay/food_wine&id=7077899
    Note: the author is also a dad and has stuck to his prinicipals by feeding his daughter only raw foods – she’s 4.
    (Hopefully he’s working on an interesting follow-up book once she starts going to school functions and birthday parties.  Those outside influences are tough.)
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    Vegetarian Cookbook Review with Cheese Fondue Recipe

    When I was offered a look at the new cookbook, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Over 200 Delicious Recipes by Judith Finlayson, I was intrigued.  As you may know I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a slow cooker.  Read about my hesitations in my blog.  My family is also doing Meatless Mondays and I am always looking for new vegetarian dishes.  And my sister is vegan and while many of the recipes use dairy, there are some which note how to make them vegan, which I find helpful.  Anyways the cookbook arrived and the recipes looked great.  I wanted of course to make something, but still am not sure I want another appliance (especially to store).  The great thing is, I can and have made some of these recipes without a slow cooker with great results.  Of course some dishes (those with beans) need extra work (soaking) not required of the slow cooker, but it can be done.  Also some of the dishes can be cooked in a braising pot for a few hours (which I already have) – but no I wouldn’t leave the house.  The convenience isn’t there without the slow cooker.   The author does give info about various slow cookers and use, which is helpful if I do buy.

    So while I didn’t buy a slow cooker I did buy a retro 70’s fondue pot.  Why?  Because it is lovely and orange.  Seriously my friend put a photo of this fondue pot on her blog and I immediately bought it on Etsy.  Who knew Etsy had kitchenware?  I’m in trouble now.  I’ve had it over a month and it’s only been a display item on the open shelf in the kitchen.  The slow cooker wouldn’t have such a prominent place.  Not sure what I was waiting for to use it.  However the perfect opportunity came with the arrival of the The Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  There are some inspiring dishes that are from all kinds of food flavors and origins and then I saw the section on fondues.  One in particular is a new favorite at my house… Kid’s Fondue.  This is like a bowl full of rich gooey pizza.  I am not kidding.  So while the recipe said to cook in the slow cooker for 1 hour, I simply heated and cooked low on the stove and then poured it into my fondue pot.  Super simple.  My family loved it.  My son was quite skeptical at first.  He likes fondue and is not a huge tomato lover.  When he saw it he said he wasn’t going to eat it.  However after dipping a piece of baguette and red pepper he exclaimed “This is the best fondue I’ve ever had!” 

    And really I think the whole book is straight forward and pretty simple.  It may end up putting me over the top to buy a slow cooker…  But for now I’m enjoying the book without it.  I think making a recipe your own is what cooking is all about, and me wanting to use the book not as intended means the book is interesting.  So whether you are vegetarian or not, or have a slow cooker or not you can make this book yours too.  Here’s the recipe…

    Kid’s Favorite Fondue

    (page 108, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

    Need: small (max 1/2 quart slow cooker)

    fondue forks

    1 can 28 ounces tomatoes (I used Pomi)

    1 tsp dried oregano

    1 tsp. salt

    1/4 tsp. black pepper

    3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

    sliced baguette, celery sticks andsliced red pepper to serve and dip

    Process tomatoes with juice.  Transfer to cooker.  Add spices and cook on high for 1 hour, until hot and bubbly. (I used a pan on the stovepot on low for about 30 minutes)

    Add cheese in handfuls, stirring to combine.

    Reduce heat to low and serve.  Dip bread and/or veggies into fondue.

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