Vegan Super Bowl Sunday aka Puppy Bowl!!!! (also: Day of Eating)

I’ll be real honest with you. I’m not a huge football fan, and I don’t get excited about the Super Bowl or even the supposedly awesome commercials. Or the halftime show. I would rather watch the Puppy Bowl and Kitty Halftime Show on Animal Planet. But one thing I like about Super Bowl Sunday is…the food. Super Bowl Sunday is the 2nd biggest eating day in the US, second only to Thanksgiving. Seriously! And I did my part.

Let’s go through each item…

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Soaking some cashews overnight for a cashew “cheese” spread.

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After draining them, I put them in the food processor with fresh lemon juice, a few tablespoons of leftover liquid from fermented sauerkraut, and salt.

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Get it nice and smooth, adding more lemon juice and water as necessary. You can see the rest of the instructions here.
Next…

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I cooked up some peruano beans (nevermind the photo bombing lime).

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I did a quick soak (thanks, BFF), bringing them to a boil and then removing them from the heat, covered, and letting them sit for an hour. Then I simmered them for about 2 hours.

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When the beans were nice and soft, I drained them…

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and added them to a pan where I had onions & garlic sauteing in olive oil.

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Added a little salt, then mashed about half the beans…

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added a little water…

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stirred and cooked the water down until it had a nice “sauce” to it.

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Then added some orange bell pepper, paprika and pepper.
Next:

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Buffalo tofu. I started by freezing this water packed tofu, then thawing it in the fridge (it does take a long time to thaw in the fridge, give it a couple days). Drain the tofu.

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Freezing water packed tofu changes the texture and gives it a spongy, somewhat meaty texture instead of the usual mushiness. You can kind of see in the picture here, the edges are no longer shiny and smooth.

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Press as much water out of the tofu as possible. I do it by pressing each piece between two small plates over the sink. It’s okay if the tofu breaks a little, but try not to smash it flat.

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Another thing about the spongy texture, it actually soaks up liquids – and flavor – like a sponge. Of course I use a tahini sauce for mine. This is the basic sauce: tahini, lemon, salt, garlic & water. Then I added Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and turmeric for color. Make it as hot as you like. I kept the sauce pretty thin.

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Pour the sauce over the tofu…

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enough to cover. I let mine marinate for a few hours, but even if you only have 15 minutes or so it should be okay.

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Pop it in the oven around 400. Keep an eye on it and turn it every so often to it can get crispy around the edges, and preferably a nice crust all around. This stuck to the pan like crazy, so you may want to use parchment paper. Either way, it’s going to be a bit of a mess.
And then…

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I found a wonderful recipe for coconut bacon on FettleVegan.com.

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2 Tbsp liquid smoke, 1 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce (I used soy sauce), 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup, 1 Tbsp water. Pepper optional.

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Add 3 1/2 C flaked coconut, and toss lightly with a wooden spoon to coat. I accidentally only used 3 cups, but I’m glad because the flavor turned out just right, in my opinion.

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I also used my hands to mix it, the spoon is just for show. I love sticking my hands in food.
Spread the coconut on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, turning with a spatula about every five minutes to keep it from burning. She says in the original recipe it will burn fast if you don’t watch it – she’s right!

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The first bite I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The second bite, I thought, “Okay, it’s not so bad.” By the 10th or 12 time I caught myself picking in it, I realized…I really like this stuff. A lot.
And now:

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Time to get into the hardcore faux stuff. The original recipe is my dad’s, and is not vegan at all. He calls it Mexican dip, but I don’t think it’s really Mexican. And…we all call it Mickey dip (he hates that!).
I usually use Tofutti cream cheese for this, but I decided to try Follow Your Heart. I got one of each in case the Follow Your Heart wasn’t as good. Guess what? It wasn’t.

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You can kind of see in this picture there is a difference in color and texture. The Follow Your Heart brand is on the left, much softer in texture and darker in color. It has the sort of slight graininess and “off” aftertaste that give vegan dairy subs a bad name. The Tofutti brand has the same thick texture as “real” cream cheese, is nice and smooth, and a lot closer to the real deal. I used most of the cream cheese from each container, but saved a little to have on toast or whatever later.

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Tofutti brand sour cream. I think the cashew cream could also be used here, but I didn’t have enough cashews for all that. Again, I used most of the container, except a couple spoonfuls for a snack.

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You can mix it by hand, but I used the hand mixer because I was in a hurry.

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Add salt, pepper and garlic, to taste. I use A LOT. You can play around with other spices, but everyone I serve this to is used to it this way, and I’m afraid to change it.

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Spoon the mixture into your serving dish and smooth it out. I like to use a glass dish so you can see the layers.

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My dad makes a hot sauce with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and tomato paste, but…I just use Frank’s. Use whatever hot sauce you want, and as much as you’d like.

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Finely chop onion, tomato and bell pepper. Again, pretty much as much as you want…

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Enough to cover.

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Vegan cheddar by Follow Your Heart. This is something the brand does get right.

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Shred enough cheese to cover the veggie layer.

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The Layers.
Next…

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Kale. For kale chips.

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Tear the cleaned kale into pieces (not too small, they really shrink!), toss them in a very light drizzling of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

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Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 325, turning them about every 10 minutes, until they are nice and crispy.

Okay, we’re almost finished. Here’s what we’ve made so far:

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Oooh, I forgot to mention, Z was kind enough to make the guacamole for us.

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Here is our dip…

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barely enough time to get a picture of it before we started to dig in.

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We had corn tortillas (hidden under the paper towel) for the guacamole, beans and walnut taco filling. Where was the walnut taco filling recipe??? Take a look at this post from Worldwide Vegan Taco Day 2012.

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Here’s my little guy.

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The buffalo tofu, a favorite.

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And beautiful, shiny green kale chips.

So, that was great. But the meal isn’t complete without a dessert, right?

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I chopped and froze three bananas.

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This was my first time trying Amande Cultured Almondmilk.

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I liked it.

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I added about 3 Tbsps to the frozen bananas, along with a few Tbsps of plain unsweetened almond milk.
Why yes, that is a Blendtec. Isn’t it nice when friends let you use their fancy stuff???

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After I started blending it, I thought of one more thing I wanted to add. Carob syrup! Add to taste.

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You could also use a food processor for this, maybe it won’t be as fast or as awesome or as expensive, but it will do the trick. Just get everything nice and smooth.

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I divided the mixture between three glasses. Each glass got a nice thick layer of banana smoothie, topped with a spoonful of the savory cashew cream, and sprinkled with the coconut bacon. Then I drizzled a little extra carob syrup over it. I was nervous about the flavor combinations, but it worked!!

What is your favorite vegan Super Bowl snack?

lenten cupcakes & smoothies

So I spent my Friday night baking cupcakes and watching Battleship. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the movie, but…at least it was funny. We’re having a Lenten bake sale at church tomorrow, and I’d like to have at least four things to donate. So far I have peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and these cupcakes:

My old cooking journal. As you can see, I’ve used this recipe a lot.

The basic half recipe is:

1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 C oil
1 C cold water

I usually use full fat canned coconut milk in place of both the water and the oil, making it oil free for fasting periods. It also makes the cake really moist and dense, and just wonderful.

The recipe is one I found in a Lenten cookbook years ago, I think it’s a depression-era recipe used when eggs and dairy were being rationed. The original is for chocolate cake, but this time I switched it up a little to make cocoa & spice cupcakes and vanilla coconut cupcakes with chocolate specks. I just like saying “specks”.

I did two half recipes so I could quickly make both kinds at once. For the spice cupcakes, I decreased the cocoa and added 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then decreased the sugar by 1/3 C and replaced it with 1/3 C molasses. For the coconut cupcakes, I omitted the cocoa, added an extra tsp of vanilla, added 1/2 C unsweetened coconut and chopped up a little bar of dark chocolate “with crunchy bits of cocoa nibs.”

I’ll frost the spice cupcakes with vanilla frosting and the coconut cupcakes with chocolate…unless I can come up with something more exciting.

Then this morning I decided to try out my PB2 for the first time, and make a peanut butter banana smoothie. I keep frozen chopped bananas in my freezer all summer because when it starts getting really hot, I can’t stand to eat anything but smoothies and popsicles. I hope there aren’t many days like that this year….

For those of you who don’t know, PB2 is powdered peanut butter. They roast the nuts and then press most of the oil out, so it has about 85% less fat than regular peanut butter. You can make it into a spread by adding water to it, but I don’t think it would taste very good that way. It seems to be good for baking, and perfect for smoothies! The package is really cute, but the design sucks. That whole part that says PB2 is sealed together, and you can’t pull it apart. You have to cut it very near to where the product is in the bag, and there’s no good way to close it up again. There was barely enough room for me to fold it over, but I was kind of able to and put a rubber band around it, then put it in a plastic bag. Maybe I’ll buy a canister to keep it in.

Anyway, the smoothie is just some frozen banana, 2 Tbsp PB2, a little agave and some grape juice. I forgot to buy a non dairy milk sub, but next time I’ll probably add almond or coconut milk.

If you don’t have PB2, just use regular peanut butter.