Monday, April 14, 2014

Southwest Spaghetti Squash: Three Ways to Cook A Spaghetti Squash

Southwest Spaghetti Squash and Three Ways to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

I am such a hypocrite. Here I am writing a post about this wonderful and healthy vegetable, Spaghetti Squash, and guess what I am munching on? Chocolate chips. I just can’t keep them in my house. They don’t last. Its my new rule (starting… tomorrow). No buying chocolate chips until right before I need to bake with them. No stocking up when there is a sale. It’s a problem, people. But, oh, how I wish I had a big cold glass of milk to go with them.

Ok, moving on to healthier things. Spaghetti squash. I know, I know. It’s a winter vegetable and winter is behind us! Well, I just looked at the weather and the high in Columbus tomorrow is a whopping 38 degrees F. with a 60% chance of snow. I also went sledding and cross country skiing in Houghton, Michigan for spring break. (I have never seen so much snow in my life, and I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho!) And I just watched Frozen for the first time. I have also been drinking apple cider all week because I have had a sore throat and I still have a ridiculously high heat bill. So, forgive me if I am still in winter mode. Spring, you can tease me and get my hopes up, but I don’t trust you.

 

I hope you all don’t mind too much that I am posting about this lovely squash out of season. You see, I cook with it all year long. It’s a great substitute for pasta because of its spaghetti like strands. Its so good smothered in marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, butter and herbs, in tacos…I have even hidden it in muffins! Check out these super easy spaghetti squash and Portobello stacks.

Today I have a recipe of spaghetti squash tossed with beans, corn, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and lots of spices. But first, here are some tips on how to cook a spaghetti squash:

OVEN ROASTED: Takes a little more time, but results in the best flavor.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut off the ends of the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Place both halves face down in a pan with just a small layer of water in the bottom of the pan. Cook for 45-60 minutes. The time is going to vary a little because the size of the squash will vary. Check it at 45 minutes. You should be able to pierce the skin with a fork and easily pull away the flesh. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. You can also do this before cooking, its just a little harder to scrape it out when its raw. Once the seeds are out, use a fork to pull the squash away from the rind. It should separate into strands.

MICROWAVE: For those of you who didn’t plan ahead (me!).

Poke holes all over the squash and place it an 8x8 glass dish or a bowl. Set it inside the microwave and cook for about 12 minutes. Again the cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash. Rotate the squash every couple of minutes so it cooks evenly. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds and pulpy stuff in the middle. Pull the squash away from the rind with a fork.

If you would rather, you can cut it in half before microwaving it. Just scrape out the seeds and place it face down in a microwavable dish with a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish.

CROCK POT: A Great option if you are making dinner ahead of time.

Poke a few holes in the squash and place it in the crock pot, along with a cup of water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, depending on the size. Last time I did this, it took about 4.5 hours to get nice and soft. When its done cooking, slice it open and scoop out seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull the squash away from the rind.

A few more spaghetti squash tips:

  • If you are cooking it whole, poke a few holes, so it doesn’t explode.
  • If you are slicing when it is raw, use a really sharp knife and be really careful not to let any stray fingers get in the way.
  • If it is too hard to slice, you can soften it for about 3 minutes in the microwave before slicing.
  • Use a fork to pull out the flesh of the squash to make it stringy and noodle like.
  • Sometimes the squash can produce a lot of liquid if it is used in a casserole or pasta dish, so it helps to let the flesh drain in a mesh sieve for awhile before adding it to you dish. If you are just eating it right out of the oven with some salt and butter, don’t worry about this.

Southwest Spaghetti Squash

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 small spaghetti squash, cooked
  • 1 TBSP. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 C. corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with diced chilies
  • 2 heaping TBSP. cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne (more if you want it spicy)
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 lime, juiced (about 1 TBSP)
  • 1/4 C. crumbled cotija cheese (A  white Mexican cheese with a taste similar to feta. If you can’t find this cheese, you could use feta or really any cheese you have on hand).

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

2. Add the corn, beans, and tomatoes and cook through.

3. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.

4. Cut open the hot, cooked squash and use a fork to separate the strands and remove the flesh. Leave the skins intact and set aside. Transfer the squash to a mesh strainer set over the sink or a bowl to drain some of the moisture. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, pressing the squash lightly with the back of a rubber spatula at the end to get a little more juice out.  After draining, move the squash to a large mixing bowl.

5. Add the bean and veggie mixture from the pan to the bowl with the squash. Add the spices mixture, lime juice, and cheese. Toss together until combined. Taste and add salt as needed.

6. Transfer the mixture back into the skins of the squash. If you worked quickly, you can serve it at this point. If the ingredients have cooled down, place the filled squash rinds on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 or just until its heated through.

Happy Winter Spring..?

Recipe by Edible Experiments

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mango, Coconut, Banana Muffins with Toasted Coconut Streusel

Mango Banana Muffins with Coconut Streusel

I love baking, but I don’t get to bake nearly as much as I want to. The majority of my time in the kitchen is spent trying to make healthy dinners or lunches. I don’t mind it, but often when I am sautéing onions or chopping veggies, I’m secretly wishing that I was making cinnamon rolls or a big pretty cake. Every once in awhile, I quench my thirst for baking with homemade buns or pitas, but most of the time what I really thirst for (or should I say hunger for) is baking cookies or cupcakes. The way to my husbands heart is through veggies and beans, not sweets and I end up eating all the baked goods by myself. 

Mango Muffins with Toasted Coconut Streusel

I have made it a rule in my house that I only get to make desserts if I have someone to give them to or an event to take them to. I jump on the opportunity to help with a baby shower or make something for a friends birthday. And every once in awhile my husband asks me to make something for his team at the hospital. He is a medical student and works under residents and attending physicians . He moves to a new specialty with a new team every month or two, and sometimes he likes to bring in a treat to say thank you before he moves on. The other day he asked me to make muffins to take to the residents who had been on call all night so they could have a nice breakfast. And lets face it, muffins are pretty much toned down cup cakes. True, there are recipes for healthy muffins out there. I don’t consider this one all that healthy. It has two cups of fruit, but it also has sugar and butter. I am ok with having muffins for breakfast every once in a while. Especially if they are as delicious as these!

Yummy Tropical Muffins

These muffins are filled with pureed mangos and bananas, with a hint of coconut. They are topped with a sugar streusel and fragrant toasted coconut. If you don’t have coconut extract, feel free to just use vanilla extract, but it just wont have as much coconut flavor. I would say these muffins definitely scratched my baking itch!

Mango Coconut Bananas with Toasted Coconut Streusel

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Makes 15-17 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C. butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 3/4 C. pureed mangos (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 C. pureed bananas (2-3)
  • 1/4 C. coconut milk (you can use light or full fat)
  • 1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Streusel:

  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 3 TBSP. flour
  • 2 TBSP. cold butter, chopped into small pieces
  • sweetened toasted coconut to sprinkle on each muffin

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. and prepare two muffin tins with paper muffin liners or by spraying the muffin tin with baking spray. You wont use all 24 spots. You will fill between 15 and 18 muffins. If you haven’t toasted your coconut yet, you can do it now by spreading an even layer of sweetened shredded coconut on a baking sheet and baking for 5-7 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden. Let it rest on the pan for a couple minutes after taking it out of the oven and it will become crispy.

2. In a blender, puree the mangos and bananas. I used about a cup of cubed mangoes (frozen and thawed from Trader Joe’s) and that made around 3/4 C. of pureed mangos. To that I added two bananas and after blending, the whole mixture was around 1 3/4 cups. I added coconut milk until the whole thing was at 2 cups. The important thing is that the fruit/coconut milk mixture is two cups. It doesn’t really matter if you have a little less banana and a little more mango. If you blend together the mango and banana and its two cups before adding the coconut milk, feel free to add it in anyway. These muffins are pretty forgiving.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, coconut extract, and fruit puree and mix until combined.

4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix, just until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, stop mixing! If you over mix, the muffins will have a dense, unpleasant texture.

5. In the same bowl you mixed the dry ingredients, add all the streusel ingredients, except the coconut. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to mix together the ingredients, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter should be in little tiny pieces and the whole mixture should be crumbly.

6. Fill each muffin liner about 2/3 full and sprinkle on the streusel topping. Be generous and use up all the streusel!

7. Bake the muffins for 10 minutes, sprinkle on the toasted coconut and cook for another 9 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. These muffins are best eaten warm or soon after they are made, although they are still delicious a day or two later.

Recipe by Edible Experiments

Monday, March 24, 2014

Easy Baked Tempura Veggies

easy tempura veg

Sometimes I go a little crazy at the grocery store and buy too much produce. My favorite method of using up produce before it goes bad is to make baked tempura veggies. You can use almost any vegetable and it is really easy. I used to make more traditional tempura veggies where I mixed a batter and dipped each vegetable in the batter, but over time I started making it super simple by just giving the veggies a good shake in a ziploc bag with some corn starch, another good shake in a bag with some beaten eggs, and a quick roll in a bed of panko bread crumbs. It is so fast and easy and I think it tastes just as good.

Some of my favorite veggies to use are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and, summer squash. You could also do asparagus, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes. You could even do avocado, just decrease the cooking time to to about 15 minutes. I like to chop all my veggies the night before or during my daughters nap to make dinner time go smoothly. Just make sure all your veggies are the a similar size.

veggies

A yummy dipping sauce is a must with these crispy beauties. My very favorite is spicy mayo, you the orange sauce that comes with sushi. You can buy it in the Asian section of most grocery stores, or make it by combining mayo and sriracha sauce. Click HERE to see a recipe. Here are some other sauce ideas: Thai sweet chili sauce, fry sauce (ketchup and mayo), BBQ, honey mustard, ranch dressing, roasted red pepper dipping sauce, tzatziki, peanut sauce. Need more inspiration? Check out my Dips, Sauces, and Spreads board on Pinterest.

Tempura Vegetables with Spicy Mayo

Note: This recipe is for one gallon ziploc bag almost full of veggies. This usually fills one rimmed baking sheet. I usually double it and fill two bags because these veggies are addicting

Easy Tempura veggies

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • a variety of veggies, chopped into chunks all the same size
  • 3-5 TBSP. corn starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop all your veggies and place them in a gallon sized Ziploc baggie.

IMG_9029

2. Add the cornstarch and shake the bag until all the veggies are coated evenly. Use more or less cornstarch if needed, just make sure all of the veggies have a nice white coat.

3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and transfer to another gallon sized ziploc baggie. Use tongs to transfer all the powdered veggies to the bag with the eggs. Close the bag and shake vigorously until all the veggies are well coated in the egg.

temp veggies

4. Pour half of the panko into a 9x13 cake pan. Use tongs to transfer half of the veggies into the panko crumbs. Give the pan a good shake and use the tongs to flip them so all sides are coated.

panko

tempura veg

5. Transfer the veggies onto the baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the veggies.

6. Sprinkle the veggies generously with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400F. or until panko is golden and veggies are cooked through.

tempura veggies pre baking

7. Eat hot, dipping in your choice of sauce.

Tempura Veggies Baked

By Edible Experiments

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crock Pot Spinach Daal

crockpot daal

When you hear the word comfort food, you probably think of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies. I do too. I also think Indian food with fresh, hot naan bread. Sundays are curry day in our house. Almost every Sunday my husband throws together a curry while I read to him. We also love to go out to eat at Indian restaurants. Many happy memories are associated with Indian food. Perhaps that is why Indian food warms my heart so.

crock pot spinach daal

Daal is basically a stew of lentils. It can be eaten like a soup or served with rice. I prefer it with brown basmati rice and some hot naan bread. I have a killer naan bread recipe and you can see it HERE. The best thing about this daal recipe is that it is made in the crock pot. I am obsessed with my crock pot. My daughter is cutting 3 molars and has been really clingy lately and in order to get dinner on the table, I do as much dinner prep as I can during her morning nap. I love it when I can get dinner completely ready and cooking away in the crock pot during that time. My husband is also a medical student and in a trauma surgery rotation and I never know when he is going to get home in the evening. I love having a hot meal waiting in the crock pot for when he gets home. If he isn’t home when its done, I just flip it to warm until he gets home.

Spinach Daal Crockpot

This crockpot recipe requires whole spices. I buy large quantities of spices at an Indian market near my home, but you can probably find these spices at most grocery stores. When I lived in Idaho in a town without an Indian store, I was able to find a lot of whole spices at a Mexican import store or in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. Spices in their whole form keep for a lot longer ground spices. We have a little coffee grinder that we use solely for grinding spices. There is nothing better than toasted whole cumin, mustard seed, and coriander. Best smell in the world.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. dried lentils
  • 4 C. water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1 or 2 Serrano chilies (depending on how spicy you want it), seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 3 big handfuls of spinach
  • 1/3 C. whole milk (you could easily make this vegan by using soy, almond, or coconut milk. Or just leave out the milk.)
  • fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Directions:

1. Rinse lentils and pick out any deformed lentils or little stones. Place them in the crock pot with the water. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, until lentils are soft. While the lentils are cooking, prep all the other ingredients for later use. 

2. In a pan, heat the butter or oil. When its hot, add the onions and cook until the they are soft. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, chilies, curry powder and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes longer. Add the tomato and cook for a few more minutes. You can do this step ahead of time and refrigerate until later, or do this prep work at the end right before adding it to the crock pot.

3. Once the lentils are tender, add the sautéed onion and spice mixture to the pot. Add the spinach, salt, and milk. Stir and let cook for at least 15 minutes, but up to an hour longer. You really just want to heat all the ingredients through, but it wont hurt it to cook a little longer. Taste one last time and add more curry powder and salt if needed.

4. Serve hot over rice with warm naan bread.

Recipe by Edible Experiments

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Healthy St. Patrick’s Day Dinner: Asian Green Veggie Cakes with Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce

 

Mean Green Veggie Cakes

My husband and I are pretty different personalities in the kitchen. I often cling to a recipe for dear life, never straying. He almost never uses a recipe. I have always admired the way he takes whole spices and grinds them himself to make curry, never peeking at a recipe. Its different every time, but most of the time its delicious.

There is something rewarding about following the directions and creating a masterpiece. Kind of like paint by numbers. Its fun to follow the directions and use the pre determined colors. But perhaps I feel this way because I am not very good at painting. I could paint a pretty decent stick figure, but that’s about it. I think if I could do it more skillfully, I would rather paint an original master piece on a blank canvas.

Since I have started this blog, I have greatly improved at creating original recipes all of my own. No “adapted from” or “inspired by”, but completely from my own head. Sure, maybe someone has made something similar. I doubt my recipes are completely unique. But I have grown increasingly better at starting with a blank canvas and adding ingredients bit by bit until I like the result. I still use recipes a lot, but I have really come to enjoy experimenting with flavors and ingredients.

green veggie cakes with sriracha sauce

These cakes are one of those recipes. I had the veggies out on the counter and I just started chopping, not knowing what I was creating at first. I really wanted something that my 13 month daughter could hold and munch on, but I wanted it to include lots and lots of green veggies. These cakes are loaded with broccoli, edamame, spinach, zucchini, and green bell pepper. Kale salads and green smoothies don’t have to be the only way to get your greens! These cakes have an Asian flare and are especially yummy dipped in spicy mayo or spicy sriracha cashew cream. The sauce is basically a knock off of that divine creamy orange sauce that comes with many sushi rolls. I have included the recipe for both variations. They are very similar, but one is made with mayo and one is made with cashew cream. You could easily make the entire meal vegan by making the cashew cream variation of the sauce and omitting the egg from the cakes. It may not hold up quite as well, but it will still work. If you are wondering what in the world cashew cream is, check out my post about it HERE.

Green Veggie Asian Cakes

These green veggie cakes would be a perfect, healthy St. Patricks Day dinner! I like to just eat these cakes as they are and dip them in spicy sauce, but they would also be great as the patty for a veggie burger.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped very fine
  • 2 C. broccoli florets, steamed (fresh or frozen both work)
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 C. frozen edamame, warmed
  • 1 C. spinach
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded or grated (I used the shred setting on my food processor)
  • 3 TBSP. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 C. panko, plus more for coating the cakes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 C. flour (whole wheat or all purpose both work)
  • olive oil or sesame seed oil for cooking cakes

Directions:

1. Prepare all your veggies. Start by putting the broccoli florets in the steamer or in a pot on the stove. In a separate small pan steam the frozen edamame for about 5 minutes. While they are cooking, chop up the onion, garlic, and green pepper. I threw these three straight into the food processor and gave them a couple good pulses until thee pieces were very small. You can use a knife, but a food processor definitely makes quick work of it all.

2. Add the ginger, edamame, broccoli, and spinach and pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Shred the zucchini with the food processor or a a box grater. Add it to the bowl and mix with a spoon or clean hands until all the veggies are combined.

3. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice, panko, beaten egg, celery salt, black pepper, and flour. Mix again until well combined.

4. Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil or toasted sesame oil over medium high heat. While the oil is heating, sprinkle a layer of panko crumbs on a plate. Using clean hands scoop out a ball of the veggie mixture and place directly into the panko crumbs. Press flat and flip to coat the other side. While still in the crumbs, shape into a patty. It may seem a little loose right now, but it will hold up better once you get it into the pan. Repeat with 3 or 4 cakes. Using a spatula, transfer the cakes into the hot oil and dial the heat down to medium low. Use the spatula to reshape the cakes if needed. I like to press the spatula against the edge of the cakes to smooth out the rough edges.

5. Let the cakes cook until crispy and browned. Flip the cakes and let them continue to cook until the other side is browned and crispy and the cakes are cooked through. While the cakes are cooking, prepare another round of the veggie mixture, replenishing the panko on the plate as needed. Continue this process until all of the veggie mixture is gone.

Spicy Mayo: Mix mayo and sriracha sauce at a 3 to 1 ratio. For example, 3 tsp. mayo and 1 tsp. sriracha sauce.

Sriracha Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C. raw cashews
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. lime
  • 1 TBSP. sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar (optional)

Directions:

1. Cover the cashews with hot water and let soak for at least 30 minutes, but up to 8 hours. If you have a really good blender, like a vitamix, you can soak them in cold water. I have a pretty piddley blender, so I like to soak my cashews for an hour or two in hot water.

2. Drain the water and pulse cashews in a blender with the 1/2 C. water, garlic, lime juice, sriracha sauce, and sugar. Blend until smooth and silky. It will take a couple of minutes, so don’t give up until its smooth. If it is still too thick or gritty, add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired texture and consistency.

NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with Sriracha sauce, you need to become familiar because it is amazing. It’s the yummy red stuff in the squeeze bottle with the green lid and the white rooster on the front. You can find it at most grocery stores. Its basically chili pepper paste, garlic, vinegar, and salt.  For both of the sauce recipes, feel free to increase the Sriracha sauce if you would like it more spicy. And decrease it if you would like it less spicy. We like spicy food in our house, but this sauce was mild enough for my one year old to love dipping her veggie cakes in it.

Asian Green Veggie Cakes

Here are some more St. Patrick’s Day recipe ideas:

By Edible Experiments

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Southwest Eggrolls with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce (Vegan)

southwest egg rolls with Roasted red pepper dipping sauce

What happens when you really want to make enchiladas or burritos, but you are fresh out of tortilla’s? You make due with egg roll wrappers! That is what happened to me the other night. I had to get creative!

These egg rolls are super tasty. They are filled with all sorts of healthy stuff like beans, tomatoes, corn, and chilies. They are baked instead of fried, too! I guess you could fry them if you wanted to. For me, frying food is a special occasion thing. Like a once or twice a year thing. But these egg rolls are going onto my rotation of healthy, quick, vegetarian (they are actually vegan, too) week night dinners, so baking was the best option for me.

South west eggrolls with roasted red pepper sauce

I wanted to post this recipe back to back with my delicious stuffed sweet potato recipe because it calls for the same creamy roasted red pepper sauce. You could make up a batch to serve with the sweet potatoes, and then use the rest to go with this dinner the next day. Best dipping sauce ever! Click HERE to see the loaded sweet potato recipe and to read more info about CASHEW CREAM. Just to give you a heads up, the sauce is really easy and quick, but it does take some advanced planning to allow time to soak the raw cashews.

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream

Southwest Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
  • 1 C. corn kernels (frozen or canned)
  • 2 large tomatoes (I used vine ripened)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lime juice (plus more to taste)
  • egg roll wrappers
  • olive oil
  • 1 batch Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

Directions:

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot throw in the onions and cook until soft.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until all the ingredients are soft and cooked through.

3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Fill egg roll wrappers with 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling. Fold wrappers and seal with water using fingers or a pastry brush. Like this:

IMG_8669IMG_8671IMG_8673IMG_8674

4. Place the egg rolls on a cookie sheet. Lightly brush or spray the egg rolls with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 5-10 minutes more. The egg rolls should be golden brown and crispy.

By Edible Experiments

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Vegan)

 

Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Red Pepper Crema

I need to take a minute to gush, here. And I mean gush and rave and jump up and down with excitement. What could get me so excited? CREAMY ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE!!! Oh. My. Goodness. This stuff is amazing and addicting and I think I am drooling on the key board. Can I just say that roasted red peppers make everything better? Not to mention this creamy dipping sauce is vegan.

What makes it so creamy and silky? Cashews! Now, I’m not vegan, but I do get excited about delicious vegan meals because I am trying to limit the amount of animal based foods in my diet. I don’t care if you are the strictest of vegans or the biggest milk guzzling, meat eating soul out there…this stuff is good and you have to try it.

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream

Lets talk for a minute about cashew cream. It is basically raw cashews that have been soaked and softened in water, and then blended with fresh water until smooth. You can use it in any recipe that calls for heavy cream, whole milk, mayo, sour cream, etc. I have been going crazy with it lately. Once you have your smooth cashew cream, you can season it up any which way you want. I have done roasted red pepper, spicy Sriracha, cheese sauce, lemon basil and spinach. I have plans for a cilantro lime sauce and a sun dried tomato sauce. There is just something decadent and delicious about cashew cream.

If you are vegan or can’t eat dairy, you probably already know about this and love it. If you are not vegan, don’t look at this as a dairy replacement, but as its own delicious ingredient. I think there is a big difference between a dip made with sour cream and one made with cashew cream. They are just different and good in their own different ways, although still both creamy and smooth. My 12 month old daughter is allergic to dairy and is now completely weaned, so I find this the perfect vessel for healthy fats and protein, not to mention antioxidants and lots of minerals. She loves this stuff!

Here are a couple hints for experimenting with cashew cream:

  • Give your cashews a rinse and then cover them in water and let them soak. Before you blend, dump out the soaking water.
  • If you have a weak blender, soak the cashews overnight or in boiling water for about an hour. If you have a powerful blender, like a Vitamix, you will probably only need to soak them for about 30 minutes.
  • If its still chunky, just keep blending on high. Don’t give up. It takes a couple minutes. It should be silky smooth. If it is still chunky, try adding a teaspoon of water at a time until it is smooth.
  • A little lemon juice and salt can brighten up most cashew cream sauces.
  • 1 C. cashews will need 1/3 to 3/4 C. of clean water. It will depend on how thick you want your sauce.
  • If you can help it, use whole raw cashews. The cashew pieces are cheaper and they still work, but they tend to be more dried out and less creamy. And they really need to be raw, not roasted.
  • To give a sauce a cheesy, savory flavor, try adding a little bit of nutritional yeast.  
  • Although you can get raw cashews at many grocery stores and in bulk food sections, my favorite place to get them is at an Indian foods market. I can always find big bags for really cheap!

Ok, now we need to talk about these loaded sweet potatoes. They are so simple and SOOOOO good! I am kind of picky about my sweet potatoes. I don’t really love them on their own. But loaded with black beans, avocados, and this red pepper sauce, and I will eat them everyday for the rest of my life. My husband and daughter love sweet potatoes, so we buy a couple bags at a time. On Sundays, my husband will throw a bunch in the oven and roast them and then throw them in his lunch to take to school. In an attempt to help use up and excess of roasted sweet potatoes in our fridge, I pulled one out and started loading it up. I was blown away by how delicious it was! I quickly made myself another one!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. raw cashews
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3/4 C. water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBSP. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wash and deseed the red bell pepper. Place on a pan and roast for 25 minutes or until it is soft and the skin starts to shrivel.

2. Place the cashews in a container and cover with water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes, but up to 8 hours. If you are like me and don’t have a very strong blender, use hot or boiling water.

3. Drain the water from the cashews and discard. Place the nuts in the blender with 3/4 C. of fresh water and the garlic and blend until creamy. Add the whole bell pepper, lemon juice, salt, and spices and blend on high speed until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides and blend again. It should be silky smooth.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 batch roasted red pepper cashew cream (recipe above)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and poke the sweet potatoes. Place on a baking sheet and roast until they can be easily pierced with a fork. About 30-45 minutes.

2. Split open the roasted sweet potatoes and mash up the insides a little bit. Dump about 1/4 C. of black beans on the open sweet potato. Layer on some sliced avocados and generously drizzle on some roasted red pepper sauce.

You probably wont use all the sauce for this, so stay tuned for my next post and I’ll give you another recipe idea to help use up the sauce. Although, eating it with a spoon right out of the jar like peanut butter is a tempting option.

Recipe by Edible Experiments