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Sunday, December 27, 2015

'Happiness is a Warm Elf'

(The Elf in the Kitchen wishes to acknowledge the tornado devastation over the past few days. We love having fun with our BLOG but recognize that lives have been lost and changed forever. Please keep these folks in your hearts.)
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O.M.G but do we have a plentiful BLOG today!!
BUT, firstest and foremostest, we in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen hope you’ve had your best holiday EVER. Now, let’s ‘git all up in it!’
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Our FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for this week was Susan’s yummy rendition of a pear upside down cake. When we saw the recipe on her site, 
 we KNEW this was the recipe of the week for us. We LOVE pears, we LOVE cake and we love SPICY. And it’s the holiday season when smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger just permeate GOODNESS GRACIOUS thought out the house. This cake was not only delicious, it was practically fat free and no ‘sugar’ (we used a combination of maple syrup and agave) AND it was easy to make. So, there…a ringing endorsement of this recipe.


For our recipe this week, we are looking, for course, for a traditional New Year’s Eve or Day menu that has been revised to be plant-based. We ALL know that black-eyed peas, hog jowl, hoppin’ John, cabbage or some kind of greens are the order of the day. SO, we are going to prepare a different black-eyed pea dish—Black-eyed Pea Hummus.
We are hummus aficionados, so this will be an interesting spin.  Now, that won’t be our only New Year’s elf-fort. We will most certainly prepare the typical black-eyed peas and collards and will use The Gentle Chef’s Porq recipe as well as (Susan, close your eyes) his recipe for ‘bacun fat’, which is quite tasty as a matter of fact). It’ll be fun to report that out next week!!
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We’ll kinda fly through this week because it was so jam packed with cookin’. Nothing detailed but an overview of some of the dishes we prepared. Plus the fact, that we weren’t terribly handy with the camera.
For our family Christmas dinner, we prepared Red Beans and Rice with The Gentle Chef’s Andouille sausages. It was a hit and we were tickled with the response from a non-plant based crew. The Spice Pear Upside Down Cake was also a hit. You’ll see pics of the sausages, the beginning sauté of celery, onions, peppers and garlic that transformed the Blue Runner Creole Style red-beans into a ‘real’ dish. And you’ve already seen the cake, so no need to show that again. We did prepare vegan cornsticks but those were gone before the camera was thought of.
 
On Christmas morning, we’ve had long-standing tradition of going to the Grandkids house for Santa. Though they’re older now and Santa is but a ‘remembery’, we enjoy the delight of watching them with their presents and, of course, Christmas morning mimosas.
We prepared a tofu scramble with broccoli, onions and vegan sausages as well as biscuits. This time, we used The Vegg in our scramble and it’s a very nice addition. We are very pleased with that product!

Christmas afternoon found us once again at the lovely home of out Besties, The Dees, for our annual Christmas Pajama Dinner. While everyone dined on lobster, filet mignon and assorted stuffs, The Elf brought Cauliflower Fried Rice. Jesse outdid himself with some lovely additional vegan offerings of a squash casserole and a nice rice dish. Mary Evelyn is the QUEEN of salads and has been extra sensitive to make them vegan. Olive oil rather than butter was used, so all dishes ('ceptin' the animal stuffs) were Elf friendly. Pictured is the Cauliflower Fried Rice, which is one of the Elf’s FAVORITE dishes http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/cauliflower-fried-rice/ 
AND our group shot…pajamas and all. From left to right—Mary Evelyn, Jesse, The Elf and Big Solid. 


 Finally, we cooked a LOT of stuff to carry to an event originally scheduled for Saturday; however, the weather was totally uncooperative, so the event was postponed. Let’s just say thank goodness for a freezer (for Red Beans and Rice) and for others who might enjoy cookies. One of the dishes we prepared is a vegan sausage roll. 
We don’t make them the size the original recipe calls for but much smaller, which turns them into nice little appetizers. We used a mustard/agave dipping sauce. These little things are awesome!!


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And, last but by NO MEANS least, ‘Cluck You’ has a message for the coming year…so enjoy!! He’s been practicing all morning.

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Our latest addition to the Kinky Elfery Kitchen is from the Taylor family (step-daughter, son-in-law and the grands) and we LOVE him!  His name is EL-FRED and he will no doubt be a good addition to the Elf-pack!

And so we round out 2015 with our continuing wish for you to laugh, love, live and stay (or become) plant-based. And, oh yeah—‘DO EPIC’!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

DOIN’ “ELIF-IC”



In a brief departure from pulling our blog titles from Beatle songs (we ran out of movie titles), we want to offer The Elf’s spin on the phrase DO EPIC©, the copyrighted phrase from the marvelous book Brightside by Kim Holden. BECAUSE, we’ve had a truly EFLF-IC week in the Kinkey Elfery Kitchen. And what better week to do that than the week before Christmas when everyone’s heads, hearts, hands and nerves are spinning in a million different directions. So, let’s get on with it and re-live this week of “Doin’ ELF-IC”.
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This week’s The Expert (that would be Susan Voisin) and The Elf’s recipe selection from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen was Dreena’s No-Fu Love Loaf. An odd title but we thought we’d give it a whirl.
Well, it was delicious and not labor intensive at all. We are firmly committed to the ‘mis en place’ concept of getting all your stuffs together before commencing to cook. First we got all the dry ingredients together 

We had already cooked the lentils and, in our case, the steel cut oats. 

So next we took our wet ingredients, combined them with lentils and remaining dry ingredients. We then squished it all up til it was ready to go into a loaf pan that we were careful to line with parchment paper (too many experiences with stuck loaves to disregard that instruction!)

And then our loaf was oven ready. This picture does not show a topping of ketchup and ho’made vegan Worcestershire sauce that we spooned over the top of the loaf before putting in the oven. 

Alas, we were on another planet when it came time to take a picture of the final version, which we served with cauliflower mashed potatoes and Cole slaw. We actually polished the loaf off last night as an adjunct to our ELF-IC FAIL that we will share with you momentarily. It’s a terrific recipe!
Our FatFree Vegan recipe for this week of Christmas is going to get a workout as we have more than one opportunity to prepare it. And, given Susan’s most recent post to her FFVK site, it’s a no-brainer. The Pear Spice Upside Down Cake looks wonderful and doesn’t contain a lot of fat to weigh us down. Can’t wait to try this one! 
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Last Sunday, we gathered at Kevin and Gigi Carter’s for our THIRD FINAL vegan gathering and we ended like we started…the original FOUR. We each brought crowd favorite dishes to celebrate our time together and wish Kevin and Gigi the best as they being new lives in Dallas (maybe). So, we had Gigi’s awesome black bean and sweet potato enchiladas.

Leslie’s awesome stuffed mushrooms

Misty’s balls (well, that’s what they are!) and her yummy pinwheels

 
The Elf’s Ethiopian Cabbage
 

And her signature crème filled cookies, this time including mocha filling

The evening was lovely, if not nostalgic and we closed it out with our final (maybe) group shot. From left to right, Misty, Gigi (our hostess with the mostess always), The Elf, and Leslie.

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Two things we prepared this week that we wanted to share. We were so impressed with the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas at Gigi’s, we decided to make them for ourownselves. So, we did. The recipe comes from an awesome cookbook called Oh She Glows 
We combined our sweet potatoes, small red beans (as Big Solid doesn’t tolerate Black Beans), and coarsely chopped spinach for our filling.

Got all that all nice and cooked down.

 And baked in whole wheat tortillas. They were AWESOME!!

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Having a Daddy who was from New Orleans, we naturally grew up eating great food, not the least of which was/is gumbo. The Elf’s preference was a good hearty duck and Andouille Sausage gumbo with a rich dark roux. We have been trying to veganized that for a while now with the main issue NOT being the meat alternatives but the actual roux itself. It’s an epic process of slowly turning flour and oil into a deeply colored base WITHOUT burning the flour first. And those of you who have toiled over an iron skillet with a wooden spoon (and ultimately expression), KNOW that the tipping point between just the right depth of color and BURNED is a millisecond. So, we opted to try a store-bought roux to see if it would work. Well, the answer is clearly NOT! That being said, we thankfully only made half a recipe and are now tinkering with ways to address the bitterness of the roux. Thanks to many of y’all for making some good suggestions that we will try. But the bottom line is that we will not use a store-bought roux again…our best elf-fort will be to strap on that apron, grab that spoon and skillet, put a book in our ears and commence to stirrin’. We used The Gentle Chef’s Chikun Shreds and Andouille Sausage recipes for our meat analogues and must say that they are worthy of making a first class vegan gumbo.

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Next up, we made vegan cottage cheese for use in a recipe that we will long remember as a complete catastrophe (coming up next). This is from The Gentle Chef’s cookbook titled The Non-Dairy Formulary. I don’t have his permission to share the recipe at this point but will ask him. In the meantime, here’s the link to his site. He has an amazing talent for making plant-based alternatives for dairy and meats. You’d never imagine!
In any event, here’s what the final version looked like. It tasted darn good on its own.

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And, at last, the ELF-IC FAIL of the week! A few weeks back, we saw an amazing looking recipe for Vidalia Onion Upsides Down Broccoli Cornbread.
Several vegans online also saw it and between everyone, figured out a way to veganized it (hence the vegan cottage cheese). Others tried and made it look great. The Elf, however, was NOT one of those. We did what we thought was the right things, see? We got our dry ingredients together...

We prepared the onions in the iron skillet with the vegan butter...

We combine our dry with our cottage cheese and broccoli...

And that’s when things began to fall apart. When we combined the dry/wet ingredients, the wet wasn’t NEARLY enough and there was an abundance of cornmeal/flour that just could not be incorporated into any kind of batter. So we whipped out the non-dairy milk and tried to add just enough to get a batter that we could spoon into the now nice and hot skillet. And we did.

It LOOKED good but in the back of the wee Elf’s wee mind was a little nagging concern. This ain’t gonna cook right. It baked and it baked the suggested time but we KNEW that wasn’t enough. So we baked a bit longer and let it sit the suggested time. When we turned it over, it was quite lovely.

And then, we sliced it only to find NO CRUMB at all but a mushy mess. Interestingly enough, we had some extra ‘batter’ that we spooned into a prepared iron corn stick thingie. Those were really good although the crumb was still not, well, a good crumb. It’s a sad time to have to toss such an elf-fort away but alas, we had to. It was, frankly, awful. So, we are re-grouping and gonna do it OUR WAY next time…’cause it’s a really great concept. In fact, we may even do it TONIGHT!!
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So there  you have our DOIN’ ELF-IC week! We are looking forward to a big week ahead…my goodness, it’s THE WEEK of Christmas and we have much to anticipate. Dinner with the kids and grand kids on Wednesday, Christmas morning vegan breakfast and mimosas at Santa’s house, our traditional Pajama Christmas dinner with the Dees and one other event that I’m sure will be a blast. So, while ‘Cluck You’ wanted to say a few words this week, he’s been shelved for a bit. We at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen wish you and yours the very best of holidays and we also remember our military who are not able to be home. Think of them and wish them out of harm’s way.
Until next week, our last week of 2015, we share our hope that your will DO EPIC© every day and bring joy to your universe.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"From Elf to You!"

Well, my goodness but the week does go by—especially during the holiday season. It’s been so unseasonably warm down here in Dixie that’s ALMOST been hard to get in that cozy, snuggly spirit. HOWSOMEVER, the joy of the season prevails, decorations go up (sometimes REALLY EARLY), traffic gets really weird and families make plans to unite. It can be a stressful time of year as well, bringing out the Grinches in us all – what better way to deal with all that emotional upheaval than TO EAT SOMETHING GOOD! Well, you’re in luck because our Expert (that would be Susan Voisin and her FatFree Vegan Kitchen site) and The Elf (that would be moi) teamed up this week for yet another superb rendition of one of her great recipes. So, here we go!
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Our recipe this week was Spaghetti Squash Santa Fe Casserole and boy, did we pick a winner.
As we told Susan, it did not come without some tense moments but, hey! What’s the Kinky Elfery Kitchen without a tense moment or two? First we got our ‘mis en place’ with our ingredients. The Elf wants to thank Chef Skye Michael Conroy for insisting via his recipes that this concept be a staple practice in food preparation. When The Elf fails to get the ‘mis en place’ in place, there is invariably and ‘elf-up’. A quick word about the ingredients…the original recipe calls for the use of black beans, a traditional bean in southwestern cooking. But, black beans and Big Solid are NOT A GOOD MIX, so we substituted navy beans.

We sautéed our peppers and onion, such a colorful sight. We were already happy.

And then, we added the beans, spinach and ground chili pepper. We used HOT chili pepper and tossed in a bit of Chipotle ground chili pepper as well

That was followed by the squash that we’d pre-cooked in the microwave and already scraped out. We must admit to slightly over-cooking the squash but the microwave sure does cut the time it takes. Next time 8 minutes on high will be sufficient instead of the 9 we actually did.

This is just a closer view of the previous picture. We like to show the stuffs up close and personal.

We made a slightly larger amount of the cornbread topping just to be sure we covered the casserole nicely and threw it in the oven.

The final version from the oven…and this is where we got a little tense. The topping wasn’t browning like The Elf thought it should so we left it in a bit longer. It did crisp up around the edges but we were still worried it would not be done. Oh, what fools we were. It turned out great…probably because we let it sit for just a few minutes after taking from the oven. In any event, we loved it!! And we highly recommend it. It is easy and excellent. So, thanks to the Expert for a recipe well done.
Next week’s recipe will be “Dreena’s No-Fu Love Loaf”…whew! That’s a mouthful! Looks like comfort food to The Elf which means side dishes of cauliflower mashed potatoes and other good stuffs!
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Tonight is our Vegan Gals night at Gigi’s. We’ve been havin’ a LAST NIGHT there for the past couple of months. Seems like Gigi and Kevin’s plans to move were put on hold for a bit so we have ONE MORE time together. We have agreed that instead of presents, we would all make donations to charities on behalf of each of us. So, we’ll gather yet again and have a wonderful evening of great vegan food and mellowship J. We are making recipes that have been group favorites so tonight The Elf is making Ethiopian Cabbage.
Here’s a previous picture of the Ethiopian Cabbage


and Oatmeal Crème cookies (aka Little Kiki’s).  


These are veganized versions of a crème filled oatmeal cookie…will try to post the recipe soon.
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And last, but not least, two of our ‘friends’ from last week have something to share with you this holiday season…at least we hope they do. “Cluck You” wants to wait to have the airways all to herself.

In the meantime, breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and ‘DO EPIC’. And speakin’ of “Doin’ EPIC”, does The Elf have a surprise for y’all soon!!
T. Elf