Sunday, November 26, 2017

How The Elf Stole Christmas

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, we just couldn't resist. Well, we hope that Your Elf still knows how to even WRITE a blog after this imposed hiatus. We STILL don’t have closure on the kitchen but have sucked it up and moved ahead in hopes that we will find someone to patch up and finish up what was left undone. We had a MAGNIFICENT Thanksgiving and managed to put together a vegan feast (of sorts) to take to our BFFs, the Dees, on Thanksgiving Day. From left to right, Mary Evelyn, Jesse, Your Elf, and Big Solid.
We found the majority of our recipes on Facebook via the site called Delish and one from of our favorite Plant-based cooker people, Kathy Hester. So now that we are back in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen saddle, let’s get on with it!!
First off, we made a dish we saw on Delish called Cauliflower Stuffing…now anyone who lives below the Mason-Dixon line NEVER says STUFFING (and if we did, it would be ‘STUFFIN’). While we are not into the low-carb trend, we do like cauliflower and all the cool things that one can do with it. So, this was particularly appealing.
A head’s up, you do have to endure a commercial before the recipe video plays. We prepped all our veggies the night before so we wouldn’t be all wrought up with too much to do in one day. And then we commenced to cookin’. First off, we busted out our NEW Cusinart Food Processor to help chop our cauliflower.
We had chopped a combination of shiitake and oyster mushrooms the night before. What  you see here is just a BIG OLE Pan of mushrooms to be sautéed and frozen for future use…we’d already put aside our chopped portion of these and sautéed them.
We then sautéed our onions, celery, and carrots in some vegan butter (Miyoko’s Creamery).
To the sautéed veggies, we added our cauliflower and ‘shrooms
and let those cook a bit to just slightly soften.

Next up was the parsley to sorta pretty it up a bit and add that tangy parsley-ness. We let this cook a wee bit more in some ‘chiken’ bouillon to which we added about a half teaspoon of Gravy Master and let that simmer until most of the liquid was absorbed. EASY PEASY!! And really tasty. The seasonings of the sage and rosemary certainly added that ‘dressin’ taste and the texture was just right! All the flavor and a LOT healthier!
Next up was to prepare a luscious looking (yet not so good sounding) Mashed Potato Crusted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Tofu Pie from Kathy Hester.
The key to this recipe, as so many, is preparation so you're not caught needing to chop, dice, slice or otherwise take time to do when you're into the recipe knee-deep! The first thing we did was to make the 'pie' crust out of cooked diced potatoes that we riced/mashed and combined with nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. This was pressed into a 9" pie pan
and baked until the crust began to brown. Next up was the veggie part of the filling. We diced butternut squash and baked with a bit of sage, salt and pepper. We have the before
and after pictures.
Then we sautéed the shredded/sliced Brussels sprouts and onion with a bit more sage and EVOO. We plumb forgot to take a picture, though. The Tofu filling was made with silken tofu, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and water, if too thick. Threw all that in the VitaMix and blasted it until very smooth and creamy. We added the Tofu mixture to the Potato Crust and topped with the veggies. Here you can see some of the fillin' as we began to spread the veggies across it.
And here's the pie just as it was oven-ready.
This was then baked for about 40 minutes until the filling was set.
This looked amazing!! When we bake this again, and we will, we will most likely try a different crust, such as Brown Rice. We'll also combine the pie filling and the veggies instead of using the veggies as a topping, AND we'll 'hot it  up' with some heat like cayenne or other spiciness.

Our final recipe was a dessert offering in the form another Delish recipe. We started out with their Buckeye Pie but realized we’d be better off with making Buckeye Brownies.
We found a ‘store-bought’ brownie mix that was vegan (Duncan Hines is usually a good go-to brand) and just substituted vegan chocolate chips and Calista Coconut/Almond Milk creamer for heavy cream to make the ganache. We baked the brownies using flax egg substitute.
We then made the ‘buckeye topping' with Creamy Peanut Butter, Confectioner’s Sugar, Vanilla, Vegan Butter, and Almond Milk. We topped the cooled Brownies with that and then topped the Buckeye layer with the Ganache made with really hot creamer and vegan chocolate chips
Listen, this stuff was so good and so rich, only very small pieces could be consumed at once.
For our ‘Turkey’ we opted to try the Gardein Cranberry Stuffed Turkey…all we had to do was bake. You can see our vegan offerings along with some of the other great stuff on the buffet.
Left to right, rice and vegetable dish prepared by the Dees (along with a great ratatouille and squash casserole, not pictured), the Cauliflower dressin’, the Sliced Stuffed Gardein Turk’y, the Vegan Gravy that came with it, there’s some real bacon in the middle dish (tempting but a no-no) and the ‘Pie’ at the top. Believe us when we say we did not go home hungry. It was a most magnificent day and we are always and forever thankful for Jesse and MaryEvelyn for sharing their home with us.
So there you have the Return of The Elf! We sure hope to be back in significant action from here on out. In fact, we have some really cool stuffs to share with you soon and a new recipe or two! We also hope that you and yours have had a most marvelous holiday weekend and shopping extravaganza as well.

Now Y'all!  Until next Sunday, we always hope you will Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can.’  Happiest of days to everyone.

Your Elf

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Elf's New Clothes

WELL, Y’all! It’s about time, for sure!! Thanks for your patience during this extended absence from the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We are not COMPLETELY finished but enough to where we were able to COOK a real recipe yesterday. And it was a recipe worthy of a newly painted kitchen and cabinets! We'll share some pictures later, but right now, we need to COOK!! The recipe we prepared yesterday was REALLY REALLY good! Vegan Wild Rice and Mushroom soup. We first saw it on the Simply Vegan Facebook page
compliments of Andrea Karsch’s post. We are HUGE fans of  both wild rice and mushrooms, so we had to make it. We looked up the original recipe and went from there.
So, we got our ‘mise en place’. Left to right, we had a mixture of coarsely chopped Baby Bella and Shiitake ‘shrooms, chopped carrots, chopped celery, soaked cashews, Thyme, Bay leaves, Cannellini beans, and the ever present chopped onions.
Though the recipe calls for Vegetable stock, we always use The Gentle Chef’s vegan Golden Chicken Bouillon, so that’s what you see here.
After that was nice and hot, we added our vegetables along with the wild rice.
Just a cautionary note here, if you try this recipe, it’s a good idea to read through the instructions a couple of times to make sure you get the order of things. We almost didn’t, so just a head’s up. This cooks, covered, for about 30 minutes. As that thirty minutes is winding down, we prepared our ‘vegan cream’ from drained cannellini beans, soaked cashews (is there anything a cashew can’t do?), and a cup of our ‘chicken’ bouillon. That gets blended to smoothness which takes about 2 minutes.
Next time, and there WILL be one, we’ll blend it a bit longer just to assure additional creaminess, but this worked quite well. The cashew cream mixture is added to the cooking veggies and rice along with the mushrooms.
This cooks for another 15 or so minutes until the rice is done and the soup is nice and smooth. We did tweak things a bit for our tastes. For example, we are not huge fans of an intense thyme flavor and this recipe calls for a TABLESPOON of thyme leaves. We only added 1/2 T and it was ‘perfectly thymed’. We also snuck in a bit of a kick to it by adding (incrementally so as not to explode our mouths) some Scorpion Pepper salt; probably about a teaspoon.
The result was quite a lovely soup. Very creamy, tasty, with great texture and substance.
We have already decided on a couple of new tweaks for the next batch, which will be soon. In addition to the extra time in the VitaMix for the cream mixture, we will use the same mushroom mixture chopped even coarser AND sautéed prior to adding to the soup (which means adding later in the cooking routine since they are already cooked).
We already have them prepared, sautéed with EVOO
and deglazed with Pinot Grigio.
And finally, we are going to go out on an herbal limb and substitute tarragon for the thyme.

Y’all, you have NO IDEA how happy Your Elf was/is to get back in the kitchen. We were like a fish out of water, an Elf without a country, a dog without a bone, and a elephant without a trunk. Completely discombobulated! Not to mention the canine upheaval that occurred with people going in and out all day long. But now we are heading toward normalcy. Take a peak. The stove area,
the other side of the kitchen area,
and a big ole cabinet area.
We even splurged on a new Keurig. It’s actually a gray lavender color that doesn’t quite show up in this picture.
AND, last but not least, even your Elf got a new look!
A GREAT new Elf hat compliments of Angel “Myth Hattie” Trott. She and her husband Toby are ProgDay buddies, so ‘hat’s off to Angel’. Your Elf loves her new ‘clothes’!

So, that does it for today…we apologize for being a day late but will get back on track for next Sunday. Until then, remember always to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can.’ DO EPIC and evil will never win!

Your Elf