Friday, September 21, 2012

Zucchini Soup with Quinoa

Earlier this week I picked up a big basket of various veggies at my local Farmers Market. This was one of those "special" baskets where they had combined a bunch of things that they need to get sold. There was enough stuff in this basket to fill an entire grocery bag. When I got it home and went through it, I found that about half of what I'd gotten was zucchini. This wasn't a bad thing since I really like zucchini. Unfortunately, my hubby won't touch the stuff. That said, I typically just saute it in some coconut (or olive) oil with some salt and pepper. Or, if I'm feeling lazy throw it on a baking sheet and roast it.  However, with this much zucchini I knew there was no way I was going to eat it all my usual way.

First off I tried juicing it. Since, I juice A LOT I figured I should try it. I looked online and in my big book of juicing and found a few recipes. From what I found it seemed the best bet was mixing it with apple, or using it in my green juice in place of the usual cucumber. I did both of those and both were quite tasty.

As I sat awake at 5am this morning for no apparent reason I started to wonder what a zucchini soup would taste like.  A year ago I never would have considered it, but with all the juicing and diet changes in the last 8 months a lot of things sound good now that never would have before. So, I went online and found this recipe on the NY Times website. It sounded pretty tasty and I had everything on hand to give it a go.  And that is how my husband found me cutting up zucchini at 6am.

Of course, I wouldn't be blogging about this if I'd actually followed the recipe to the tee. It all started off ok, until I realized that there was rice in that recipe. I don't know how I missed that when I initially read it, but as I was following the directions I realized this little fact.  I don't eat rice, it doesn't like me.  Luckily, I had picked up a bag of Quinoa last week. I've never made quinoa, and I've really only had it maybe twice. So, this was totally foreign to me. It didn't help that I could not find instructions on the bag for how to cook it. There were recipes for things to make with it, but no basic instructions. So, I figured it must be pretty much like rice and just added it to the soup mixture where the recipe said to add rice.

So, my actual recipe looked a bit like this:
2tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 Onion - diced
3 cloves garlic
2 med-large zucchini (peeled & diced)
2 tsp curry paste (cuz I didn't have curry powder)
maybe 6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 c Quinoa
salt (lots)
pepper (lots)

Saute the onion in the coconut oil, add the garlic, add the zucchini and saute for a few more minutes. Add the curry paste, veg broth & quinoa. Add salt & pepper. Bring to boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.  I really didn't want my soup to be pureed. So, I just mashed the zucchini with a potato masher.

As it cooked it thickened and became almost a poridge.  I added more salt & pepper.  All in all, it quite tasty. I couldn't help but think that if I was feeling sick this would be the perfect alternative to chicken soup.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pintest: Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Going gluten & dairy free has been interesting, but not nearly as interesting as it will be in about 2 months when I start trying to figure out how to make Thanksgiving dinner.  So, when I saw DAMY's recipe for vegan Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, I thought I'd try to get a head start.  And, when I showed it to hubby, he let me know (with that look in his eyes) that I was going to have to test this recipe sooner rather than later.

Note: I had taken all kinds of great pictures during the process of making this, but evidently my phone ate them.

Now, I'm all about some substitutions, and I still say this could be made with almond butter, but he let me know that wasn't going to happen. So, while at Earth Fare (the closest thing we have around here to Whole Foods) I picked up a $10 jar of Cashew Butter. Man, is that stuff expensive!  And since I couldn't seem to sit still last night and needed a distraction from an upset tummy and boredom, I figured I'd cook instead of eat.

So, as instructed, I mixed up all the ingredients (a word I evidently can't spell) for the filling. Doing so, used about 1/3 of a jar of the Cashew butter and about 1/2 the can of pumpkin.  Seeing this, I just said screw it and doubled the entire recipe. Call me crazy! For the record, I used 4Tbsp honey & 2 packets of Stevia (ok, Truvia) for the entire (double) filling batch.

When it came time to make the crust, my substitutions started showing. I only had a handful of pecans in the house, so I decided to try making the crust with almonds instead (something we always have on hand). Since I'd already doubled the filling, I figured I'd go ahead and double the crust recipe too. Looking back, that might have been either a mistake or a genius idea.  I probably didn't need as many almonds as I used, as I ended up adding a few extra dates just to get everything to mix good enough to form a decent crust.  It never did form that dough-like consistency that Amy had mentioned in her recipe. I finally just gave up and decided to work with what I had and it did press together well enough to form into the bottom of the dish, like a good crust should. However, I didn't take into account that I was still using the same size baking dish. So, I had a lot left-over.

Finished Product
After pouring in the filling, I topped it all off with a little left-over crust mixture, some coconut and a few pecan pieces. Hubby was sadly disappointed to find out that it had to sit in the freezer all night before he could try it. I did, however, let him taste the filling and we both agreed that it tasted great and should make for an excellent Pumpkin Pie substitute once it reached the proper consistency.

I figured I had to do something with all that left-over crust mixture and it seemed like the perfect base for some Larabar like snack bars. So, I combined it with the remnant of filling mixture that remained in the small processor bowl and mixed it all together. I mashed that out into a flat pan and stuck it in the fridge.

This evening when he came home, he found me taking pictures of the finished product (since my phone ate all the pics I took last night).  The bars on the left turned out really good. There was just enough pumpkin filling left in the processor when I added the left-over crust to give a perfect pumpkin pie flavor to the "larabars".  They got his seal of approval with a "I hope you wrote down the recipe".  Well, I did. Kind of. The problem is that in order to make those, I have to make the whole pumpkin pie thing (and that is a little spendy).  He said he was ok with that. Then he tried the actual "cheese"cake.  He commented that he felt like it was missing something, but could'nt quite figure out what it was. My thoughts were the only thing it could be missing was whipped cream. That said, it was better than any real pumpkin pie without whipped cream, and as good (or better) than any pumpkin cheesecake.  We definitely have a win here (substitutions and all).
Tip: This is best closer to the frozen consistency. The longer it sat in the fridge the closer to a pudding texture it got.