Monday, February 20, 2012

Cauliflower Pie

And my love affair with the flower continues. I really can't help it. I feel like this once dreaded vegetable has been cropping up the interwebs with all sorts of new surprise ideas. Surprise ideas are totally fun. They stimulate your brain cells and your taste buds.

Brownie covered cookies? Check.

Berry beer cocktail? Future check.

Cauliflower pie? Well, compared to the first two links, this may as well be slug stew. BUT...if you look at it as a balanced, healthy meal (instead of as a delicious, meal combing beer + vodka) then you're doing all right.

We ate this with crispy, roasted broccoli, which was filling if you have two portions of each. However, if you are feeding a meat-eater (meater?) then I bet you could bulk it up by adding a nice layer of ground hamburger or crumbled sausage on top of the potato layer before you add the cauliflower in. This definitely leans more towards a casserole than a pie, so feel free to adapt this to your liking. (However, the spring-form pan cooking method makes it very fancy, so we'll continue to call it a pie. Give it some integrity, people.)

Cauliflower Pie
loosely adapted from Branny Boils Over
feeds 4

Potato Crust Stuff:
3 cups peeled, grated russet potato
1/2 t. salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup grated onion

Cauliflower Topping:
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 medium cauliflower, broken/processed into small, biteable chunks
1 cup broccoli, same size pieces as the cauliflower
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 dash thyme
1/2 t basil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t curry poweder
1/2 t garam masala (optional, but I liked it)
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. For the crust, combine the potato, salt, onion and egg in a medium bowl.

3. Press the mixture into a greased spring form pan and bake for 35 minutes until browned and solid.

3.5 Have some you time! Read your new magazine, eat a couple chocolate chips, try to guess the Jeopardy questions knowing it will be a complete fail (or is that just my life?)

4. Remove the potato crust and turn the oven down to 350.

5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese over the potato crust.

6. In a large bowl, combine the second egg with the seasonings and the milk.

7. Add the cauliflower, broccoli, and cheese to the milk mixture and mix it all together so everything is coated.

8. Pour this into the spring form pan on top of the potato crust and bake for 40 minutes until tender.

9. Let the pie cool 5 minutes before digging in.

**If you want to roast a side of broccoli, just add it in (tossed with EVOO, salt and pepper) the last 20 minutes while the pie bakes. Then while the pie is cooling for those 5 minutes, turn the oven off and the broiler on for about 3 minutes to get those broccolis nice and crispy on top.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Apricot Snack Bars

As a girl on the go, I am always looking for satisfying, tasty treats that are easily portable that I can eat on the ferry or in the car. It's an unfortunate circumstance when I find a Quaker granola bar in the bottom of my purse, chow it in 3 bites, and I'm end up even hungrier than when I started because it only wakes my stomach up even more.

As the wife of a gluten-intolerant husband, I also need to be aware of how many quick and easy snack we have on hand in the house. If there are slim pickings, the bag of shredded cheese will be gone. Or the most recent cookie batch. Not that there's anything unbalanced (cough) with those selections....but it's nice to throw in some variety sometimes.

That's where these babies come in. I've experimented with making date bars lately, using flavors based off the popular brand of Larabars. They're good, but easy to get sick of. Dates are great (ooh dang, she rhymes) but the flavor is strong.

Dried apricots, on the other hand? TOTALLY the way to go. These taste like cake. I think it's a mixture of the sweetened fruit combined with the salty cashews that just throw a big delicious party in your mouth.

Apricot Snack Bars
adapted from Shutterbean
Makes 8 bars (although I strongly encourage you to double this recipe)

1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried coconut
1/3 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons flaxseed (not ground)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Line your 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor, chop the cashews until they are in small pieces. Take out and set aside in a bowl.

3. Process your apricots until they are jelly-like - this took me about 2 minutes. They all just kind of turned into a sticky, orangy ball that twirled with the blade and I called them good.

4. To the apricots in the processor, add in the coconut, oats, syrup, olive oil, flax seeds, ginger, and salt; process it all together.

5. Add in the cashews and process until it's all thoroughly combined.

6. Press the mixture into your parchment-lined dish, using the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten it out. Place in the freezer overnight, or at least an hour to harden. Take out using the parchment paper and cut into bars.

7. Repeat, because they'll be gone before you know it.

*Store these in the fridge so they maintain their shape.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza

January came and went, and I survived yet another year of Vegan-O-Con. That's 30 days of eating a Vegan diet, which excludes cheese, dairy, honey, Eggo waffles, hot chocolate packets and countless other food products that I hold near and dear to my ticker. Given that it sounds generally strange for me to suddenly embrace such a dark, twisted world (a lifestyle that millions of other people adhere to regularly), here me out.

All through December, I continuously trash my body. I'm not necessarily an unhealthy eater, but I definitely have a difficult time saying no to all the holiday treats and eats that are constantly orbiting around my vicinity. I truly have zero self-control when it comes to December. And it works, because I know that when January rolls it's enlarged belly around, I will pay. And I will regain my personal standard of healthy by cancelling out the butter, sugar and grossly portions of chocolate with absurd amounts of kale chips, nutritional yeast, and grape tomatoes.

It's strange, but this is totally a system that works for me. Yes, I had two cheat instances (heelllo Tony's pizza and mini-cupcakes) but I didn't beat myself up for it. I got right back on track and dedicated myself to plant-based foods the next meal.

I also find that it sets the tone for the remainder of the year. If I eat super clean in January, I enter February with a strong mindset of what healthy meals should consist of. Meals that make me feel good and leave me with energy. Meals that will include cheese and milk, but will still include veggies and healthy protein. I also find that my cravings for sugar dwindle almost down to nothing. This is saying a lot, given that I am a human female.

Oddly enough (psych) I was completely counting on a nice hearty slice of PIZZA this first week to initiate my non-vegan diet. Quite coincidentally I came across this recipe that used veggies in a way I've never imagined before. As pizza crust. It had to happen.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
adapted from Eat.Drink.Smile.
makes 2 medium pizzas

3 cups riced cauliflower (one small cauliflower - read Beth's ricing instructions)
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups shredded cheese (I used half mozzarella, half cheddar)
1/2 cup almond meal
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
any toppings you want!

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease your baking sheets

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, eggs, cheese, and flax meal.

3. Once fully combine, add in the oregano, garlic and S&P. Stir stir stir!

4. Once all the ingredients are fully incorporated, divide into two equal-sized balls and flatten onto the baking sheets to a 1/4 inch width.

5. Place in the oven on the middle rack for about 20 minutes. These babies will begin to smell heaaaavenly, and will make you so excited to see how they turn out. Is cauliflower crust truly possible?

6. Once the crust is hardened but not burned, take them out and turn off the heat and the broiler setting on.

7. Add your toppings - we went with a Mediterranean themed pie, complete with sundried tomatoes, olives, caramelized onions and capers with a pesto sauce. The second was marinera-based, with a bean-puree, onions and cheddar sauce.

8. Place under the broil until the cheese begins to bubble - about 5 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and let sit for about a minute. This may be the hardest things you've ever done.

I really dug this! It's not quite pizza, as the crust IS made of cauliflower, so a fork was required for some bites. The flavor was excellent though, and i felt just as satisfied as if I had eaten real pizza. This will be happening again!