Monday, February 18, 2013

Did you ever put yourself out there?  Try something out of your comfort zone?

I did that twice last week.  (And though it was a little nerve-wracking, it felt really good.)

First up was Soup & Bread at the Hideout in Chicago.   This is a pretty inspirational event.  Several soup makers from different backgrounds (artists, home cooks, chefs, bloggers, etc.) donate soup that they've made, and a couple of bakeries donate bread, and folks make a donation to try lots of yummy soups with the proceeds going to different charities.  The charity for our night was our local food pantry (coincidentally, for whom I also do a little volunteering), Common Pantry.

This year, each of the soup nights has a theme.  Our theme for the day before Valentine's Day was Love, Lust and Hate.  I made my soup with the super-talented Helen Tsatsos, jewelry designer behind Rock Candy by Helen.  (If you're looking for creative, unique jewelry check out her creations!)

We made a tomato soup (love in a bowl, right?!) with the secret ingredients of coconut milk (kinda lusty) and Marmite -- the British yeast spread (hated by most Americans -- except for those who love it, like Helen!).  We also had spiced cashews that people could sprinkle on as a topping, but it was allergen-free without the nuts.

Of course the soup was vegan.  Of course it is delicious!  Who knew that combining Marmite with coconut milk would create a rich, flavorful soup base?

tomato soup with coconut milk

The next night, a group of my friends and I participated in a mini-flash mob as part of One Billion Rising during a figurative art show that benefited the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace, Inc.   The show was entitled em|body|peace, and it was also very inspirational to see how talented my neighbors are.  

If you're looking for a delicious and loving vegan cream of tomato soup to warm up a February night, give this recipe a try!

Love Conquers All Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup
Makes 4 servings (cup-of-soup size serving)

1 cup light coconut milk
2 teaspoons Marmite yeast spread (if Marmite isn't available, you can substitute miso paste.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes


In a bowl or measuring cup, mix together coconut milk and Marmite.  Set aside.
In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions, cook until soft.
Add tomatoes and coconut milk mixture.  Stir to combine.  Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until heated through.
Transfer soup to blender and blend until smooth.
Reheat blended soup in pot.
Serve topped with crushed spiced nuts or seeds (optional)

Happy Cooking!

My new book Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Vegan, Gluten-free Pop-Tart recipe

What are you having for Valentine's Day?

I made some really easy (but kinda impressive looking) heart-shaped toaster pastries.

You can easily do it, too.  Really.

I shared this post with Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love, Allergy Free Wednesday and Gluten-free Fridays.

Raspberry-Strawberry Toaster Pastries
(Yield depends on the size of your cookie cutter)

One batch of pie crust dough (I used the recipe from Welcoming Kitchen, but you can use whichever dough works for you.) 
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1-2 tablespoons sugar (evaporated cane juice, palm sugar, maple sugar)
1-2 tablespoons ground chia seed (I used my spice grinder to grind them up, but you can use whole seeds, too.  It will just have a little more texture.)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine fruit (no need to defrost it), add water to come about halfway up the height of the fruit, sprinkle on sugar.  
Stir intermittently while cooking until fruit softens up enough to break up easily with a spoon.
Stir in one tablespoon of chia and let sit for 10 minutes.
If the filling is too loose, add more chia, stir and let sit again.
Roll out your dough and cut with the shape of your desire.
Spread a little filling on the center of a dough shape, top with another and crimp with edges of a fork.
Once all the pastries are assembled bake for 25 minutes if serving immediately, or 20 minutes if you are going to store them and re-toast them.

Happy Cooking!

Find more tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pasta with Spinach and Herb-Roasted Tomatoes

Not only is switching to a special diet overwhelming in the beginning, it can cause some serious sticker shock.  If you've been used to buying traditional packaged or prepared foods, trying to replicate that with specialty goods can be quite costly.

What can you do?

First, you can start cooking from whole food ingredients.  Making your own treats and snacks can be less expensive and more wholesome than buying ready-made options.

Another thing you can do (depending on your restriction) is to search out ethnic markets.  To read more about it and check out a recipe for an easy pasta recipe, check out my post today on The Balanced Platter today.

Happy Cooking!

Find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.