Spinach and Mushroom Tarts

Spinach and Mushroom Tarts -- Epicurean VeganI was inspired by Veggie Test Kitchen’s Mini Pizza Tarts back in November and bought some 4″ tart pans. Well, I finally got around to making some tart pizzas and they were a huge hit! I love that these are so versatile—you can make pizzas, savory or sweet tarts, or even breakfast quiches. I have some leftover dough, so I think I know what I’ll be making for New Year’s Day breakfast. :) The recipe is for about 9-10 tarts, so feel free to halve the recipe, or freeze the leftovers for future, fabulous tarts!

3 C flour
1-1/2 C Earth Balance margarine
1/2 C ice water

The rest: (optional)
Sliced mushrooms
Potatoes (I nuked 3 small red potatoes, then diced them up)
Tomato, diced
Almond feta
Vegan mozzarella, shredded

Preheat oven to 350. For the dough, place the flour and margarine in a food processor and pulse several times until the dough is crumbly. While the machine is running, pour in the water and combine about 30 seconds until the dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into about 9 equal pieces and roll out thin. I lightly sprayed the tart pans with cooking spray, then line the inside of the pan with the dough.

Spinach and Mushroom Tarts -- Epicurean Vegan

Press down along the edges to cut the dough and pull away from the pan.

Spinach and Mushroom Tarts -- Epicurean VeganStick each crust with a fork a few times, then bake for 8-10 minutes. For mine, I spread on some pesto, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, almond feta. The guys added some potatoes and vegan mozzarella to theirs.

Spinach and Mushroom Tarts -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 22-25 minutes and enjoy!

Boca Enchiladas

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean VeganWhen we first went vegan, the thought of having Mexican (or Italian) food again seemed like a pipe dream, but I think that some of my favorite meals have been just those—thanks to yummy meat and dairy alternatives. Lucky for me, too, because the Husband loves enchiladas and if I didn’t come up with a veg-based one, he wouldn’t be fun to live with. 😉 I’ve also made a seitan version, and these Boca Crumbles ones are pretty darn delish, too.  I made a pretty big batch so feel free to halve the recipe for a smaller crowd.

1 Tbs olive oil
1-12 oz bag Boca Crumbles
1 medium green bell pepper, diced small
1 small onion, diced small
1-4 oz can diced green chilies (I used mild)
3-10 oz cans enchiladas sauce (I used Old El Paso–mild)
20 LaTortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas (Love these!! They’re a cross between a corn and flour tortilla and come in white and yellow corn—see below)
1 pkg Vegan Gourmet Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded + 1/2 C Daiya cheddar, shredded, mixed together
1 C black olives, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced (both green and white parts)
Optional garnishes: Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, diced avocados

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and onions; saute until softened. Add the Boca crumbles and cook until heated through; stir in the green chilies.

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean VeganI think it helps to steam the tortillas first, but only do a couple at a time, as the bottom ones will stick if there are too many on top. In a 15″ pan (I made the mistake of using a smaller pan, so I had to use 2 pans) pour 1-1/2 cans of the enchiladas sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place 2-3 spoonfuls of the Boca mixture into the steamed tortillas; add some cheese on top.

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean VeganTightly roll up the tortillas and place, fold down, into the baking dish.

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean VeganOnce each tortilla is rolled, top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Sprinkle the olives and green onions on top.

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean VeganCover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro and/or any of the optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Boca Enchiladas -- Epicurean Vegan

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean VeganLove onions? You’ll love this dip. Caramelizing the onions brings out a rich sweetness in them and are ideal for a dip—served hot or cold. Serve with potato chips, veggies or crackers.

2 lbs yellow onions (about 3 large onions) sliced thin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbs Earth Balance
1 Tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
8-oz Tofutti cream cheese
1/2 C Vegenaise
3/4 C Tofutti sour cream
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean Vegan

Over medium heat, melt the Earth Balance in a large skillet. Add the onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean VeganCover and cook for about 12 minutes, then stir in the sugar and increase the heat. Cover and continue to cook another 20 minutes, or until the onions are browned and caramel-y.

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean VeganRemove from heat and let cool. Transfer the onions to a large cutting board and chop them up. You can also use a food processor.

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean VeganIn a small saute pan, heat the oil and garlic until the garlic begins to brown, then remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Vegenaise, sour cream, nutmeg, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the onions and thyme. Puree half of the dip, then stir back  into the other half.

Caramelized Onion Dip -- Epicurean VeganCover and chill or put transfer to a baking dish and warm. Enjoy!

Pesto and Almond Feta Pizza

Pesto and Almond Feta Pizza -- Epicurean VeganAfter the craziness of the holidays, a quick, easy meal is a welcome reprieve. I usually have homemade pesto in the freezer, so it paired perfectly with the almond feta I made a few days ago. I had one flat bread left and a loaf of French bread which made the perfect pizza “dough.” You’ll love the softness of the cheese and the absence of all grease–this is probably my favorite kind of pizza.

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 pizzas)
3 flat breads or 3/4 of a loaf of French bread
1 C basil pesto
1-1/2 to 2 C almond feta
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 C black olives, sliced
Shredded vegan mozzarella, optional

Preheat oven to 400.  On each piece bread, layer 1/3 C of the pesto, then equally divide the rest of the ingredients among the pizzas.

Pesto and Almond Feta Pizza -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the feta begins to brown. Enjoy!

Pesto and Almond Feta Pizza -- Epicurean Vegan


It’s A Cheeze Extravaganza!

It's a Cheeze Extravaganza! -- Epicurean Vegan

Well, first of all, Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has had a wonderful, fabulous holiday full of family, friends and happiness. Even Moe-Dog is having a happiness hangover:

And apparently, he’s a little embarrassed about it:

My mom surprised me with a copy of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and I have had uncheese on the brain since.  For Christmas Eve, we typically do drinks and appetizers, games and movies, so I made three different cheezes from the recipe book and one from Vegetarian Times. A few of the cheezes will require a couple days’ worth of time—but rest assured—they’re easy and worth it. You will need to blanch almonds, something I had never attempted before, but found it to be quite an easy process.

First up:

Port Wine Uncheese

This is super simple to throw together. The pinto beans give it that dry cheese taste and texture and even if it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, it still has excellent flavor. I recommend adding some nutritional yeast–maybe a 1/4 C for more of a cheesy flavor if you feel it needs it. Otherwise, it’s fab on its own. The recipe calls for nonalcoholic red wine, but I went with an actual port.

2 C (1-15 or 16 oz can) pinto beans
1/4 C nonalcoholic red wine or port wine
3 Tbs sesame tahini
1 Tbs light or chickpea miso (I used light miso)

Throw it all in a food processor then let it chill several hours or overnight. You could then roll it in roasted walnuts or pecans for extra flavor, if desired.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

Incredible Almond Creme Cheez

This one has a fluffy, lemony flavor that pairs really well with herbed crackers. The taste is very mild, so herbed crackers work great with this one. You will need to blanch the almonds for this, which is very easy: place almonds in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain and allow to cool. Pinch the skins between your finger and the skins will slide right off. Dry them off well.

1/4 C blanched almonds
1/2 C hot water
1/2 C cold water
2 Tbs  lemon juice
2 Tbs kuzu, arrowroot, or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt

Grind the almonds to a fine powder. Transfer to a blender (I did as the recipe said, but I’m sure just using the food processor is fine) and add the hot water; process until thick and creamy. Add the cold water and remaining ingredients; blend until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it thickens, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly for another minute. Let it cool. Fluff with a fork or whisk and transfer to a storage container.

Chill for a few hours. Before serving, beat again with a fork or whisk.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

Onion, Dill and Horseradish Cheez

If you like cheese with a kick, you’ll love this one. The horseradish is perfect in this and makes for a great sliced cheese. I’m not crazy about dill, so next time I will go easy on it and not add the full two teaspoons, but aside from that, it’s a great addition to any cheese platter.

1-1/2 C water
5 Tbs agar flakes
1/2 C chopped raw cashews
1/4 C nutritional yeast
3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs tahini
2 Tbs white horseradish (not creamed)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp dried dillweed

Lightly oil a 3-cup plastic (I used glass) container and set aside. Combine the water and agar flakes in a saucepan and boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently 5-10 minutes, or until flakes are dissolved. Transfer to a blender and add the cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini, horseradish, mustard, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Process until smooth. By hand, add the onion flakes and dillweed. Pour into the prepared container and cool uncovered in the fridge. Once it is completely cooled, cover and chill several hours to overnight. Before serving, slice thin.

Source: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

Almond Cheese: Spreadable and Feta-Style



Now this is probably my favorite. This one comes from Vegetarian Times and despite the time and effort, I’ll be making it over and over again. I doubled the recipe because it can be made into a spreadable version and a feta-style. The only difference is that the feta-style requires baking—a very simple step.

INGREDIENTS: (undoubled)
1 C blanched almonds
1/4 C lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled (I used minced)
1-1/4 tsp salt

Place almonds in a medium bowl and cover with 3″ of water; soak for 24 hours. Drain and rinse twice with running water.

Puree the almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs olive oil, garlic, salt and 1/2 C of cold water in a food processor until smooth.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon mixture into cheesecloth.

Bring the corners and sides of the cheesecloth together and twist around the cheese, squeezing out any excess moisture. Secure with a rubber band.

Chill 12 hours or overnight. Discard any excess liquid—I squeezed a little more out. One half I left in the fridge and for the feta-style: Preheat oven to 200. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and unwrap cheese and transfer it from the cheesecloth to the baking sheet. Flatten to a 6″ round with a  3/4″ in thickness on the sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool. I then transferred it to a bowl and used a fork to break it up into feta-like chunks. Place in a storage container and refrigerate for several hours.  Add to salads or soups—you’ll love it! Enjoy!

I’m sure Moe will recover from his Christmas overload soon . . .

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean VeganAvocado and chocolate? Absolutely! You can’t taste the avocado, but it takes the place of eggs, as well as some of the oil. These cupcakes are so rich, moist, fluffy and decadent. Even the Husband said, “Oh man, these are dangerous.”

1-1/2 C flour
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 C pure maple syrup (I used light pancake syrup)
3/4 C plain soy milk (I used almond milk)
1/3 C canola oil
2 tsp vanilla

1/4 block soft silken tofu (from a 14-oz container), drained and patted dry
3 Tbs pure maple syrup (again, I used light pancake syrup)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips, melted

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Puree the avocado in a food processor until smooth. Add the maple syrup, almond milk, oil, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Whisk into flour mixture.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups. I wasn’t sure how much to fill them because you never know with muffins, but as long as you evenly divide the batter among the cups, you’ll be fine.

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 25 minutes.

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean VeganTo make the glaze, blend the tofu, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in the food processor. Add the melted chocolate and blend thoroughly.

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean VeganTransfer to a bowl.

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean VeganDip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze, pulling up straight to form peaks. Enjoy!

Glazed Chocolate-Avocado Cupcakes -- Epicurean Vegan

Recipe: Vegetarian Times

Swirled Mint Cookies

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganThese cookies were always a classic Christmas treat growing up—they seriously date back to 1987. They’re from an old school Better Homes and Gardens cookie cookbook.

I just had to veganize the recipe by using Earth Balance and egg replacer. They remind me of my childhood and are now a fav with the Sixth Grader.

2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 C Earth Balance margarine
1 C sugar + plus some for sprinkling
1-1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg replacer + 2 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
10 drops red food coloring
10 drops green food coloring

Whisk together the egg replacer powder and water; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together margarine until softened. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add “egg,” vanilla, and peppermint extract and beat well. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, then mix it into the butter mixture. Divide the dough into thirds. Stir red food coloring into one third, green in another third, and leave the last third.

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganCover each and chill about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Divide each dough into fourths. Roll out each fourth into a 1/2″ diameter rope. You’ll need just a tad of flour–mostly just for your hands.

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganPlace each one side by side and twist together. Pour some extra sugar into a bowl and set nearby.

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganSlice into each rope:

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganYou can carefully roll into balls, or just place the cut pieces 2″ apart on a cookie sheet.

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganUsing a flat-bottomed glass dipped in the sugar, flatten the dough to a 1/4″ thickness.

Swirled Mint Cookies -- Epicurean VeganBake for 7-8 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 72 cookies. Enjoy!

Swedish Tea Cookies

Swedish Tea Cookies -- Epicurean VeganThese treats are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies, but growing up, they were known as Christmas cookies around my house. I suppose since I’m also a fraction Swedish, I’ll go with the Scandinavian title. The recipe is my mom’s and all I had to do to veganize them was to use Earth Balance.

1 C Earth Balance Margarine
2 C Confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 C almonds, chopped

Place the oven rack in the middle—maybe a bit higher, otherwise the bottom of the cookies will get too brown. Preheat oven to 400. Cream together butter, 1 cup of the Confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and nuts; add to the butter mixture. Combine well until the dough holds together.

Swedish Tea Cookies -- Epicurean VeganForm dough into 1″ balls and place on a baking sheet. Once you get down to the last 1/2 dozen, the dough will be crumbly, but just squeeze it together—works great.

Swedish Tea Cookies -- Epicurean VeganBake 10 minutes.

Swedish Tea Cookies -- Epicurean VeganOnce the cookies are cooled, roll them in the remaining cup of Confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Epicurean VeganThese are one of my favorite things to make, especially since the the filling can be changed to suit your tastes and what you have lying around the kitchen. I used Field Roast’s Chipotle flavored sausages which has great flavor and seasonings, that there was no need to add any spices. These were creamy, spicy and filling. The recipe is for 4 bell peppers, but I had 3—luckily, the stuffing makes a great breakfast burrito filling.

4 bell peppers, any variety
1/2 C arborio rice
1 C vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Field Roast sausages, chipotle-flavor, crumbled
1 medium onion, diced
1-1/2 C mushrooms, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 C vegan cheddar, shredded
1/4 C Tofutti sour cream

Preheat oven to 375. In a small saucepan, combine the vegetable broth and arborio rice; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Slice the very tops off of the bell peppers and clean out the innards; set aside.

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Epicurean VeganIn a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and Field Roast and saute until the onions start to soften and brown, then add the mushrooms and tomatoes. In a small bowl, combine the cheese and sour cream and then stir it into the Field Roast mixture.

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Epicurean VeganSpoon the Field Roast mixture into the peppers—firmly pack it in. Place into a 8″ baking dish.

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Epicurean VeganCover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5 minutes and enjoy!

Field Roast-Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Product Review: Tofurky Vegan Cheese Pizza

For the Sixth Grader, finding a tasty vegan pizza is a must. Pizza parties are a thing of the past for him, so I think it’s important for him to have this treat every now and again.

Tofurky claims that this is the “1st Non-Dairy Cheese That Really Melts”. Well, they use Daiya cheese, just like Amy’s Mac and Cheeze so that is promising!  The 12-oz frozen pizza will cost you $6.79 at Vitamin Cottage Grocers, but $8.99 at Whole Foods (gee . . .big surprise). I certainly don’t think that’s right to pay that much for a frozen pizza. Unfortunately, I think that’s one of the reasons why vegan food gets a bad rap as being more expensive. But I think the more people eat vegan, the cheaper the products will become.  (The Sixth Grader, of course has no problem with the price . . . 😉 )

You bake it at 420 for 11-12 minutes (10 was perfect). It was quite good! They don’t skimp on the cheese and like they claim, it melts beautifully. Very impressive.

A third of the pizza contains 240 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, NO CHOLESTEROL, and less sodium than regular cheese pizza.

Overall, this is a great choice for a vegan pizza, if you don’t mind the price tag.