Category Archives: Other People’s Food

Other People’s Food 7: The Comfort Food Edition

Slow-Cooker ChiliIf you had to pick the ultimate comfort food, what would it be?  Pot pie?  A spicy curry?  Macaroni and cheese?  Or maybe hot cocoa (hot cocoa sounds more comforting than hot chocolate) or a warm brownie topped with ice cream?  Winter is just around the corner – though some days it feels as if it’s already here – so my cooking changes from quick and cool to hearty, warm and comforting.

Chili, in almost any form but the ones including meat, is one of my favorite comfort foods.  You can put it together quickly and let it simmer gently for hours – and it tastes better the next day.  I recently made the version from In Vegetables We Trust (Slow-Cooker Chili) which includes a hint of unsweetened cocoa to mellow and deepen the beany, peppery flavors.

Double Chocolate Coconut Pecan CookiesWhat’s comfort without cozy chocolate?  If you didn’t see this recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, then you must be hibernating.  And I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you were.  I mixed up a batch of her Double Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cookies and my belly and I felt contented, satisfied and downright happy despite the flurries blowing outside.  In fact, I laughed at them between bites.

Kalamansi Coconut RisottoFor me, rice is one of the most comforting foods around.  This may be because when I was a kid my mom made the most delicious rice on the planet – buttery and creamy and heavy on the ground black pepper.  When I was a young lass living on my own there were evenings when it was me, the TV and a big bowl of steaming, hot rice.  This is why I included AstigVegan’s delicious Kalamansi Coconut Risotto recipe in my comfort food hall of fame.  It’s got all the things I love: creamy rice, coconut milk, lemon zing and mushrooms.  (Sorry, Richa, I couldn’t get kalamansi here in Utah so I made due with lemon juice and some orange zest!)

Maple Coconut Coffee ChocolatesIf there’s anything more comforting than chocolate, it’s…more chocolate.  I made these babies one Sunday afternoon when I needed a heavy dose of comfort.   Big fat flakes of snow were flying outside.  The foothills of the Wasatch were barely visible in the fog of white.  Ike had wisely tucked himself back into his doggy bed and Paul Westerberg provided background music with one of his most plaintive tunes, Here Comes A Regular.    The enticing smell of melted chocolate takes the cold edge off of any winter day.  I got the original recipe from  Things My Belly Likes (Maple Coconut Chocolates), and I hit the print button before you could say Give me a Mounds bar!  I messed around (i.e., made it more complicated than it needed to be) with the recipe and have included it below.

One year ago today: Pesto Pasta e Fagioli
One year and one day ago: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cherry-Apricot Compote

Maple Coconut Coffee Chocolates with Add-ins
Makes ~30 (using small muffin cups)

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 heaping tbsp. Dandy Blend (herbal coffee substitute), optional
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/8 cup sweet cacao nibs (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (with a little extra for sprinkling on top of the chocolate)

I lined up my paper and silicon mini muffin cups on baking sheets and got all of the ingredients ready to go before I melted the chocolate and coconut oil.  Mise en place.  It’s a good thing.  Sprinkle the pecans into the bottoms of 1/3 of the muffins cups; sprinkle the cacao nibs into the bottoms of 1/3 of the muffin cups.  You’ll be stirring the flaked coconut into the remaining 1/3 of the melted chocolate/coconut oil mixture – so hold off on sprinkling that into the bottom of the cups.

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and chocolate over low heat  Whisk occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract.  They’ll sizzle so watch your eyes.  For really smooth chocolate, put the cocoa powder and Dandy Blend through a sieve and add to the melted chocolate.  Whisk until smooth and melted.

Carefully pour the chocolate into the pecan- and cacao nib-fille cups.  Now, stir in the 1/3 cup flaked coconut into the rest of the chocolate and pour into the remaining muffin cups.  Sprinkle the tops of the chocolate cups w/ the corresponding add-in so that later you know which chocolate you are popping into your mouth.

Chill the cups until firm.


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Other People’s Food (6): Life is Sweet

Zucchini Bread, Glass

Slices of Zucchini Bread on Plate

What to do with that 5-pound behemoth of a zucchini that eerily resembles a lethal weapon wielded by an ogre in a Grimm’s Fairy Tale?  Grate that puppy up and make zucchini bread.  Lots of zucchini bread.  Call it fate, kismet, destiny, luck or simply that it’s summer and everyone has at least one or two zucchini cudgels hanging about the kitchen, the recipe mentioned over at The Bear and the Blackberry for zucchini bread came just at the right moment.  My tweaks were to reduce the oil by half and add unsweetened applesauce; reduce the sugar from 2 cups to a 1/2 cup (and I used maple sugar) plus stevia; add chocolate chips and change out the walnuts for pecans.  This cake is absolutely addictive.  It’s so good I’m looking around for an ogre who wants to unload an outsized zucchini or two.

Slice of Cheezcake

Whole CheezcakeThe little beauty of a recipe  above for dairy-free, no-bake cheezcake comes from Somer at Good Clean Food.  Pure friggin’ genius.  Never a traditional cheesecake fan, I tried this simply because it fascinated me – and I ended up loving the results.  The secrets are cashews and Pomona’s Pectin.  Soft and creamy with a little bit of lemony tang and then sweetness from the blueberries – you get the true cheesecake experience without a ton of sugar and scary dairy.  I messed with the crust, using pecans instead of almonds and adding chia seeds and orange zest, but the only change I made to the cheez (other than coming close to complete disaster because I tried using a food processor for the whole thing rather than my Vitamix…) was to reduce the maple syrup by half and add a little bit of stevia.  When you visit Good Clean Food to get the recipe (and you simply must get the recipe), note how much thinner Somer’s slices of cheezcake are.  Oops.

Next, I offer up these beautiful bars inspired by breakfast #217 from Desayunos Veganos 365:

Cut Bars

Wrapped Bars

I followed Nihacc’s link to this easy recipe and played around with it a little bit, changing out some of the ingredients and adding some here and there.  My take on it is below, but I encourage you to check out Nihacc’s mouthwatering breakfast blog (imagine: something different each morning!) as well as the blog she cites (The Sunny Raw Kitchen).

Date-Cherry-Ginger-Orange-Coconut Bars…with Cacao & Chia
Makes 12 or so bars

1 cup almonds
1 cup dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. cacao nibs
1 tbsp. chia seeds

Line a 9″ x 9″ pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, finely grind the almonds.  Add the dates, cherries and ginger and process a few times just to break everything down.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until everything is in small bits.  If the mixture is not coming together, add a tablespoon or two of water.

Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and gently spread and pat it out until it reaches all sides and is fairly even.  Place in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing.  I wrap mine in parchment paper and store in the refrigerator.

Just so I don’t neglect the beverage side of things: here’s a fruity-sweet peach and black tea drink from Compassionate & Passionate Cuisine.  Since I just happened to have a boatload of fresh peaches hanging about, I couldn’t NOT make this (immediately) after reading her post.

Peach Black Tea

Peach Black Tea

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