Air Fryer Experiments

Hi!

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought an air fryer on sale. What is an air fryer, you ask? Well, it’s basically a healthier version of a deep fryer. It fries food with hot air instead of oil.

Personally, I am still figuring out what works and doesn’t work with it and trying to perfect temperatures and cooking times. I have found that using a lot of liquid batter without any kind of dry coating over it does not work so well. It says you can make donuts in it, but I have no clue how that’d work. I have not tried cooking french fries yet, but I really want to, just haven’t yet.

So far I have fried some soy curls using this recipe here. Those came out excellent, I think I cooked them at 350 for about 10 minutes. I also tried defrosting some Gardein chicken scallopini, coating it in watered down Neat egg substitute coated with vegan/gluten free rice crispy-esque cereal. That was okay, but not that exciting even though I had high hopes.

Then, when I botched a bunch of battered cauliflower, I came up with a splendid idea. But I didn’t have any more cauliflower, so I tried it with tofu. It’s supposed to be like coconut coated fried shrimp, but is made with tofu (and someday I need to try it with cauliflower, too!)

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Here is the recipe for it:

Coconut Crusted Air Fried Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vodka or unflavored soda water/seltzer
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • one bag sweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • sweet chili sauce for dipping
  • 1 block tofu, preferably frozen, thawed, then pressed for 20 minutes

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the water, vodka/soda water until a liquid, medium thickness batter forms. Water it down if necessary to be the desired thickness, but it should stay fairly thick.
  3. Cut tofu into smallish rectangles.
  4. Place some of the sweetened coconut into a dish.
  5. Dip the tofu in the batter, then into the coconut.
  6. Delicately place in the air fryer tray.
  7. Air fry for 10 minutes, 350 degrees F or slightly lower if you don’t want it as browned as I did. May take some experimentation as I believe air fryers can vary quite a bit.
  8. Use sweet chili sauce to dip in, and serve with a generous helping of veggies!

I’m sure I’ll discover some new tips and tricks about air fryers soon!

So check back here for those.

Until then, or until another recipe creation strikes!

Take care! xo

 

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Gluten Free and Vegan Elvis Panini Sandwich!

I have been trying to eat more healthfully lately. In fact, ever since I went gluten free I have found it hard to make up the ridiculously delicious recipes I was used to creating in the past. But today I dreamed up an idea for an amazing unhealthy sandwich that at first I was skeptical of being able to pull off to meet my needs. As I continued to think about it, I devised the methods that could make it healthier, and is the perfect combination of delicious, ridiculous, healthfulness, and satiety level!

This sandwich is a peanut butter and nanner sandwich, with baked vegan rice paper bacun, made with light tapioca gluten free bread, grilled in a panini maker. This definitely is not a very original idea, I’ve seen many a vegan version of this sandwich on blogs and in cookbooks, but this is my version!

It came out so well, that my panini maker has been given a new life outside of sitting in my basement!

Let me walk you through the steps, in picture form. It’s easy!

Bake the rice paper bacun. I did this recipe’s marinade, minus the ground coconut, soaked the rice paper strips in cold water, then in the marinade, and put them on a cookie sheet sprayed with coconut oil. Then I baked them in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes, checking and flipping every 5 minutes (some got done sooner than others, when that happened I took the ones that were done out and put it on a plate while the rest continued to cook)IMG_9197

Set aside.

Take two pieces of Ener-g gluten free light tapioca loaf bread and spray coconut oil on one side of both slices of bread. Put the coconut oil side down on a plate.

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Take out the peanut butter. This is a locally made, all natural, salt and sugar free peanut butter. It’s so good!

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Place one tablespoon of peanut butter on each slice of bread.

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Cut half a banana into slices. Place on one slice.

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Layer the rice paper bacun you made earlier on top of the bananas. Put the peanut butter slice down on top of the bacon to make the sandwich.

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Place the sandwich into a pre-heated panini grill on medium high for about 5 minutes, more or less depending on your device (check on it).

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Ready to go!

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Enjoy!

Baked Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese Bun Sliders–I am sharing the recipe!

I have so much I want to say about what went into creating this recipe. I have broken them up into sections so that if you do not want to read a ton of text before you get to the recipe, but some of my ideas and advice may be of interest to you, you will be more apt to read the pertinent ones.

My Inspiration

First of all, this was an attempt to recreate and veganize this recipe that I was originally alerted to on Pinterest. I had been saving it for a long time, waiting for the right moment in time to do it, and I decided the other day to try.

Nutrition Information

I was recently doing poorly with my B-12 intake food-wise (I take a vegan B complex vitamin but typically also try to get enough from nutritional yeast added to my food as well. As vegans the food we eat does not naturally have this essential vitamin in it, so it is crucial that we take a supplement and/or eat fortified foods in order to be able to do the awesome work we vegans do for our health, animals, the environment, etc. Not doing so can cause many health issues, such as Anemia.) and my nutrient tracking showed me I needed to improve on that (I use sparkpeople.com to track my food and other health/wellness/goal related things). So I decided to make this, because I knew it’d have a lot of nutritional yeast in it, and it definitely does. It helps me meet that goal exceedingly well!

I also did not want to further bread with flour and breadcrumbs and then deep fry the mac and cheese buns for my recipe. If you want to, go ahead! But I feel this fits with more with what I wanted and that step is unnecessary. It is still sinfully delicious (albeit maybe a bit less crispy and might not stay together as well).

The calories (if that concerns you) can vary a lot. I definitely don’t recommend attempting to fry the mac and cheese buns if you are concerned about them. I used a calculator to determine and tweak the amount of servings and such, but it will vary a lot most likely for everyone depending on how big you choose to make the burgers, the mac and cheese buns, etc. The way I made it, though, It comes out to be approximately 465 calories.

Making it gluten free

It has the potential to be gluten free if you use certain substitutions. I think a whole grain gluten free elbow pasta would work fantastically, as I think it might lend itself to being a bit more thick and sticky which will be pretty helpful in the long run for getting the buns to stay together more. Use a gluten free flour instead of the whole wheat pastry flour that I used. I think the rest of the ingredients I used should be gluten free, but please make sure you check further with people more knowledgeable than I am about gluten free ingredients if making it for yourself or others who have sensitivities or allergies.

This recipe is really kid friendly (not just because of the taste!)

I had a lot of fun making this recipe, not just to create conceptually, but also to prepare. When I was setting up the mac and cheese buns, and making the burgers, I felt like a kid again. It is ooey and gooey in certain parts, you can use your hands a lot to touch slimy and fun textures, can make some funny noises, and get dirty. When I was a kid, these were all qualities that made me interested in helping my mom with cooking, as well as the characteristics of a task that made me want to do it (my earliest “culinary” experience involved me making “mud cookies,” putting them in my outdoors “oven” and then proceeding to convince my younger brother they were actually edible…) so you may really want to have your kids help at certain parts of the preparation! I would recommend having them help you especially while making the mac and cheese and laying it out in the pan, and also making the burger mix! Unless they’re much older, I would say that setting up the mac and cheese buns after they have set and need to be shaped into the buns will be much safer, and less frustrating and wasteful if an adult does that part. It takes a bit of finagling, craftiness, dexterity, and a lot of patience to do that part.

Some other helpful tips:

Do not make this at the last minute. You will need to make the macaroni and cheese at least the night before so it sits for awhile and sets really well in order for the buns to stay together. I probably let it sit in the fridge for more than 24 hours though.

Adjust the burger servings to the amount of buns you make. This may require making the burgers bigger or reducing the ingredients, or just plan to have lots of leftover burgers!

Making them into the buns requires a bit of patience and skill, don’t get frustrated, it will still taste just as delicious with falling apart buns or even just as a side to the burgers with some ketchup on it.

My non-vegan brother was a bit thrown off by the taste of the Mac ‘N Cheese. If this is something you want to make for someone who is not vegan, and is unfamiliar with vegan cheesy tastes, it may not go over so well. I thought it was delicious because I love vegan Mac ‘N Cheese, and I haven’t had real cheese in ages.

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The recipe!!!!

(Makes anywhere from 5-10 complete burgers, depending on how large you want to make the veggie burger piece, you will have leftovers. I made 18 veggie burgers for a small slider size and it worked really well. I recommend saving the leftovers, maybe even freezing them for later, and putting them in other types of buns, or doing this again! Or you could just half the recipe for the burgers…)

Ingredients:

For the Mac ‘N Cheese (it’s great as a stand-a-lone or typical baked Mac ‘N Cheese if you want to eat it by itself and not make it into the buns!)

  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute gluten free flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 2 slices Daiya cheddar cheese (what I used) or 1/4 cup Daiya cheddar shreds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 box elbow macaroni (you can substitute it with gluten free or whole wheat elbows if desired)

For the Burger sliders:

  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unflavored veggie-based protein powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke (if you can’t find a gluten free brand, maybe use extra smoked paprika and use gluten free tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead)
  • 1 tbsp ketchup or chili sauce (the kind that’s sort of like ketchup, I used it and think it tastes a bit better than ketchup)
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or regular if not available…I buy my smoked paprika at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tsp salt-free italian herb blend
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Salt, to taste (optional…I try to cook with no added salt lately)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat (or gluten free) bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (can omit if necessary)

Directions:

For the Mac ‘N Cheese buns:

  1. Prepare the elbow macaroni according to the directions on the package. Note: I would suggest you don’t drain it immediately, and let it sit a bit to get a bit stickier, but don’t wait horribly long. You can definitely start the cheese sauce while you are cooking the pasta, and then let it sit until you are almost done with the sauce.
  2. Prepare the cheese sauce by pouring the almond milk into a large sauce pan.
  3. Place the margarine  into the pan, and turn the heat to medium.
  4. Stir somewhat frequently until the margarine is melted, and the almond milk is hot but not fully boiling.
  5. Add in the flour, and stir with a whisk until smooth.
  6. Stir the nutritional yeast until combined.
  7. Add the cheese, stir until melted.
  8. Continue to stir if possible, and fold in the salt, onion powder, paprika, turmeric, and mustard.
  9. Pour the drained elbow macaroni into the sauce, mix until every bit of pasta is completely covered.
  10. Spray a large casserole dish or baking sheet (it needs to have sides, though…) with a small amount of oil.
  11. Place the mac and cheese on top. If you are working with kids (see my note about kid friendliness up top) I would say it would be really  fun to use your bare (clean) hands. But if you do not like making funny squishy noises and getting your hands really messy, then take a piece of plastic wrap that covers the pan completely, and squish down, making it as compact as you can.
  12. Place in the fridge to set, at least 6 hours, preferably overnight or longer.
  13. When set, preferably after you have cooked the burgers (see below for instructions), preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  14. There are several ways to make the bun shape. I used a drinking glass. But you could also use a biscuit cutter, or a ramekin, or whatever else you think may work like that.
  15. In my case with the drinking glass, I pressed the opening lip into the mac and cheese, wiggled it in a circular motion a bit, and pulled up. It might (and did for me) get stuck inside the glass (that is actually a good thing for the final product, I believe!) What I did to correct this is to take a knife and un-wedge the pasta circle by sliding the knife around the edge between the glass lip. Work slowly and carefully, and be ready to place it down onto another baking sheet sprayed with a small amount of oil before you get it unstuck.
  16. Repeat until you are out of Mac ‘N Cheese to make into buns. Or you can save some of it to eat on it’s own, along with the potential mangled reject mac buns which are very likely to end up existing.
  17. Place in the oven until crispy. This takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your buns and also your oven.

For the slider burgers:

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil along with the chopped veggies until soft, somewhere around 5 minutes in a large frying pan. Let sit for a bit to cool before placing into a food processor. Do not discard the pan as it will be used for cooking the burgers.
  2. In the food processor, blend the beans along with the condiments, spices (except for mustard seeds), and protein powder until they are no longer resembling whole beans, and the other ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  3. Add in the veggies, blend until combined, but not to the point where they are complete mush.
  4. Take out the mixture and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add the bread crumbs and brown rice, and combine with a spoon or (better yet) use your hands to mix it really well.
  6. Add the mustard seeds and follow the same procedure as the last step, making sure they’re spread evenly throughout.
  7. Spray the frying pan with a lot of oil so it is heavily coated. Heat on medium.
  8. Place the burgers into the pan carefully, in batches if necessary.
  9. Heat each side about 3 minutes, or until completely cooked and lightly browned.

To assemble the whole burger:

  1. Take one Mac ‘N Cheese bun, place the smooth side up.
  2. Place the burger on that side.
  3. Add any desired condiments, it tastes delicious with just some chili sauce or ketchup on top, and some salad on the side.
  4. Carefully place the other bun on top,  smooth side down. You may want to use a toothpick in the middle to help it stick together.
  5. It’s going to be a bit difficult to eat the whole way through in tact, but definitely take a few bites out of the Mac ‘N Cheese Bun burger before it falls apart!
  6. Eat, enjoy, and have fun!

 

 

 

 

Foodie (Photo) Friday! I made a lot! Especially from the cookbook Isa Does It!

This week was a big week for my cooking. Not only did I create my own original recipe for a favorite, typically very non vegan appetizer, but I also tested tons of other people’s recipes.

I mostly tried a bunch of recipes from the Isa Does It cookbook though, which I have not found a single recipe that wasn’t amazing or really yummy yet. My only complaint is that the recipe names are not easy to remember because they are usually named after the ingredients and not that creative/specific so I feel like I sometimes write about them and name them different than what is in the cookbook. So apologies if I am not using the actual recipe names to a T, I am currently too tired and somewhat lazy to go get the book and double check! Woops. How unprofessional of me…

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Brussels Sprouts and Tarragon Cashew Cream Sauce

The most impressive recipe  I have tried  so far was definitely the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Tarragon Cashew Cream and Brussels Sprouts. I have made my own gnocchi from recipes before, but it seemed so difficult and was such a long process. Maybe my cooking skills have drastically improved over time and I just do things faster and in a more organized time saving manner, but I still think this recipe is by far an easier and simple way of making you own vegan gnocchi from scratch than the previous recipe I tried. It only really takes awhile because you have to bake the sweet potato (or potatoes…but I found a 1 lb sweet potato that worked out very well). The sauce is also simplistic yet has a very fancy flavor/touch to it with the tarragon. And a cashew based sauce makes almost any pasta recipe rich and luxurious. The Brussels Sprouts were the perfect finishing touch, and add to the dish to make it a complete healthful meal.

I love the bowls so far in this cookbook. I think I forgot to post about the cucumber ranch tofu bowl I made New Year’s Eve? Well that was pretty good. Even better was the pizza bowl, though.

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Not the prettiest looking pizza bowls

I used tofurky italian sausages (Which, to my delight, do not contain soy protein isolate in them which I am really trying to avoid as much as possible now.  My nutritionist said she believes that it is that form of soy that causes the most problems for our hormone balance, and it is very highly processed (and typically g.m.o I think?) so it is good to avoid or eat irregularly. Tofu is fine unless you have digestive/other sensitivities to it, whIch I do not.

Anyways, this was absolutely delicious and comforting. The sauce is really, really good. It reminds me of pink (or vodka cream) sauce, which was one of my favorite sauces before I went vegan and I have found difficult to replicate as a vegan despite trying . Actually now this gives me an idea to try and make an even more authentic version of it! Yay!

Paired with the kale (which I actually seemed to cook right for the first time ever…I typically only eat it raw), rice, sausage, garlic, red onions, olives, etc it is just so wonderfully filling and tasty!

My pictures of it are not the prettiest, but believe me, it is so yummy!

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edamame hummus tofu wraps…before I wrapped them 🙂

I also made the tofu wraps with edamame hummus. It somehow tastes kind of like a Japanese-inspired egg salad wrap to me which I thought was pretty cool. I will definitely be making the edamame based (instead of chickpea) hummus on it’s own again multiple times. The tofu was really good too though! I love anything with sesame oil in it, and it crisps the tofu perfectly. Isa Chandra Moscowitz doesa really good job through writing her recipes teaching people the proper methods of cooking her dishes without having them fail horribly. Hopefully I can get there myself too!

I did not use sprouts because when I buy them they seem to go bad too fast, instead I used greens. When I use up the leftovers tomorrow though, I am probably going to use baby arugula. Yum!

Aside from cooking from Isa Does It, I found this recipe on a facebook group I belong to and was intrigued so I gave it a try. Behold, Green Pancakes!

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not the prettiest again but behold green pancakes!

They look kinda gross, but I felt really good about eating them for my breakfast and do not taste too different from unhealthy versions of pancakes…especially when you add some maple syrup, ha, ha. I kept thinking of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and thinking this would make a good vegan story like that, especially for kids while eating these. So it was fun, healthy, and fed my belly all at once.

Finally, I made a really delicious salad today.

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my delicious salad with chickpea “bacon”

The centerpiece of the salad was the Chickpea Bacon recipe from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Gosh do I love that book!

I put 2 cups chopped romaine, 1/2 cup baby arugula, 1/3 cup sliced cucumber, 1/3 cup chopped hearts of palm, 1/4 of the chickpea recipe, a slice of red onion that I chopped into smaller bits, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 2 tbsp Organicville Non Dairy Ranch! I made a similar version for my dad and he really liked it too! He was trying to refuse eating it because of the non-dairy ranch, but now he says I have to make him a salad every day! (Though fat chance…but I will make an extra for him when I have one from now on!)

Ta da! And now you know what I cooked up this week!

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can follow me on these social media outlets where I post related (and unrelated) things to my blog.

Banana Curl, Vegan Girl’s Facebook Page

Follow me on Pinterest (the blog has it’s own board if you just want to follow that)

Twitter

And I think that’s everything for now! I will be adding these to the end of my blog every so often for new people to click on and explore. Also, I love comments and feedback and love it when people spread and share my work I am doing here, so do not be shy about that!

Peppermint Patty Green Smoothie!

ImageI’m pretty sure this is not too unique of a recipe or idea. But I made it myself and it was so good (and simple!) that I wanted to share it here (though I already shared it on the Banana Curl, Vegan Girl Facebook page).

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 whole banana (broken up into smaller chunks)
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp vegan unflavored protein powder
  • Liquid stevia to taste
  • Peppermint extract (just a tiny amount, probably less than 1/8 tsp)
  • Ice (2 handfuls but use whatever amount you want)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a full size blender. Depending on your blender’s strength and other factors, you may need to scrape down the sides halfway through blending. 

Enjoy!