This past weekend we celebrated Easter. For me, as a non religious person, it’s just another food holiday, which are my favorite! I love making new and special meals to share with family. After a backyard Plastic Easter Egg Hunt for the kids I got to work in the kitchen preparing 2 dishes to bring to my Mother In Laws house.
First up was a Gluten Free/Soy Free/Nut Free-Vegan Carrot Cake. We have some allergies in our family (!) and as the only vegan in the family I wanted to make sure we had a dessert that everyone could eat. I’ve never made a full size Gluten Free cake before so I was a little nervous at how it would come out. As is my nature I tend to not test new recipes out before hand for holidays or events. Its a terrible habit but one that I’ve been able to get away with and managed to get away with again…phew! The cake was a huge success! It was full of hand shredded carrots and a ton of spices. The spiciness of the cake was everyone’s favorite part of it. It was loaded with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
To decorate the cake I made a peachy pink vegan buttercream that I spread out as smooth as possible and piped some little decorations around the edge of the cake. I found some unsweetened coconut in my baking cabinet and sprinkled that on top.
Just before serving the cake my daughter and I added some handmade decorations that she made for the cake earlier in the day to make it more festive. It was adorable. I highly recommend letting your kids help decorate a cake with some of their drawings taped to long wooden skewers.
My husbands Aunt declared that this cake will be her new birthday cake. She loved it that much and I will be happy to make it for her again.
Seitan and Mushroom Roulade
For the vegetarian main entree I made a Seitan and Mushroom Roulade. I only had half a plan for this part of the meal. I know I was going to saute onions, seitan, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and spices and then deglaze the pan with tamari and red wine and then do something with filo dough. First I was going to make individual “cigars”. Then I was going to make individual wrapped pockets. In the end I didn’t have time for anything “individual” and a roulade was just to thing to speed things up! I saved some of the seitan simmering broth and we used that as a jus sauce. It was a nice a festive main entree.
On my plate next to the roulade were Thyme Infused Spring Vegetables and Asian Sauteed Asparagus, both made by my mother. I didn’t eat a lot because I was saving room for the cake! Which we served with Trader Joe’s Soy Vanilla Ice Cream. It was the perfect Holiday Meal.
Mediterranean Pesto Seitan Wrap
Cashews are hands down one of my top 5 favorite foods. Not just favorite nut but favorite FOOD’S! I love eating them raw, roasted and salted. I add them to stuffings, chili’s and stir-frys. Forget tofu ricotta I make cashew ricotta. My favorite morning cereal is a store bought granola with cashews in it. The big container of mixed nuts we buy is all out of cashews long before we reached the halfway mark of the container to the annoyance of many. I’m surprised I don’t make my own or even buy already made cashew milk. I might have to try that!
Whenever I feel a meal needs a creamy condiment I whip up a fast Cashew Cream. Since I use a Vita Mix I don’t need to soak my cashews first so this is often a last minute type of thing for me. The table is usually set with the dinner on it and by the time I get the other 3 people in my family at the table and ready to eat I can hop back into the kitchen and have this ready in less then 1 minute.
Seared Mushroom, Black Bean and Rice Burrito w. Cashew Cream
I use this Cashew Cream on wraps, sandwiches, soups, stews and chili’s. I even make a batch of it the night before we leave for our annual summer beach vacation to use while in our rented beach house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Simple Cashew Cream
makes about 1 1/4 cups
1 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add all of the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more water a teaspoon at a time if needed.
Chocolate Coconut Pudding
I mentioned a month ago how my darling husband gifted me with a machete for my birthday. Just so I can open young coconuts for him and the kids. How sweet of him to be thinking of me. The whole machete thing has been working out though. Once every week or two he takes it out of the closet and hands it to me to open our latest coconut that the kids begged me to buy at Whole Foods. The thing cuts through coconuts like a dream. Drinking the coconut water from an actual coconut instead of the tetra packs of them is 10x better tasting. My problem has been what to do with the young coconut meat that is left inside. I don’t like it as is. It has to be turned into something and my first though was why not a pudding? We love pudding and most of the time I made a chocolate coconut pudding out of canned coconut milk so why not use this fresh coconut meat? I set out one night to make it and it was perfect. The second time I made it it was perfect again. The kids get so excited now at the though of this Almost Raw Chocolate Coconut Pudding. Here is our recipe!
Almost Raw Chocolate Coconut Pudding
1 cup fresh young coconut meat
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
coconut water to blend. I start with 1/4 cup.
pinch of sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it against the pudding so it doesn’t create a skin on top. Place in the fridge for a few hours or over night until thoroughly chilled. Serve and enjoy.
My post yesterday reminded of this one day, a weekday no less, that I went crazy and made 3 side sides for our weekly Rice and Beans meal. I’m not sure what got into me that day. It took crazy long and made a complete mess but it was worth it. Here is what I made:
Rice and Beans with hidden zucchini and carrots.
Sauteed Kale with Apricots and Almonds, this was amazing!
Sweet Potato Fries.
Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale
Now that I’m feeding a family of four I’ve realized how important side dishes are. It used to be that a pound of pasta would be enough for us. That’s not the case anymore. Reno and Miles can easily eat more then 1/2 a pound combined, especially if there is pesto involved! My husband is also a big eater so the 1 pound isn’t cutting it anymore. There have been many nights where I haven’t made enough food!
I’ve never been a side dish maker. My dinners are generally a one pot meal type of thing. Its easier that way and less to clean up. But now I have to make more food for my always hungry family. One of my favorite, recent, side dishes was a Mushroom and Kale saute. It was a last minute type of thing and it was perfect. Garlic and red pepper flakes sauteed with mixed wild mushrooms and kale. That’s it. I even used pre cut and washed kale which saved time and even more dishes.
It went perfectly with some brown rice pasta covered in homemade pesto. I never want to eat pesto pasta again without some kale and mushrooms on the side.
What are some of your favorite side dishes to make?