Showing posts with label nutritional yeast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nutritional yeast. Show all posts

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Vegan Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Soup with Tempeh "Bacon" Crumbles for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was craving a baked potato soup, fully loaded of course with those all-important toppings, but I wanted a healthier and preferably vegan version so I put this one together. I used both russet and Yukon gold potatoes and leeks and combined frozen cauliflower, coconut milk and nutritional yeast--blended up with some of the soup to thicken it and to give it a cheesy vibe. 

For toppings, I went with non-dairy sour cream, Diaya cheese-style shreds, green onions, and bacon, or rather 'fake-on' crumbles. I have been wanting to experiment with making my own vegan bacon crumbles and was torn between tempeh (a fermented soy product) and coconut flakes, but tempeh won out in the end.

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and green parts only, cleaned and sliced
1 small bunch green onions, white parts separated from green
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1  tsp celery salt
1 bay leaf
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 to 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth of choice (I used Better Than Bouillon non-chicken paste)
1 package frozen cauliflower, cooked
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper to taste

To Serve: sliced green onion tops, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, tempeh bacon crumbles (recipe below)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks and saute for about 10 minutes--until leeks are soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the dried parsley, celery salt, bay leaf, potatoes and broth. Bring the mixture to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaf. 

Take two ladles of the soup and puree in a blender with the cooked cauliflower, coconut milk, nutritional yeast and coconut milk until smooth. Add the blended mixture back to the soup and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes until heated through. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve garnished with the non-dairy cheese, non-dairy sour cream, green onions and tempeh bacon crumbles. Enjoy!

Tempeh Bacon Crumbles
Inspiration from from this recipe and this recipe

1 (8 oz) package plain organic tempeh (I used Lightlife brand)
1/3 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp roasted garlic powder
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 scant Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp black pepper

Slice the block of tempeh in half lengthwise, then into thin strips and then into small cubes, crumbling slightly with your fingers and them place in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Mix the other ingredients together and pour into the bag. Gently shake and 'massage" the bag so the tempeh is evenly coated with the marinade.  Allow the tempeh to marinate for several hours.

When ready to cook, drain the tempeh with a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large skillet over medium high, add crumbles and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes until the pieces get crispy around the edges. 

Use warm or allow to cool and keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes/Results: I liked this soup--thick and velvety with a definitely cheesy vibe going on. I liked the different textures of the two kinds of potatoes and using the cauliflower to add nutrients, flavor and thickening. I think it has good flavor on its own, but add those toppings and we are in business. I need to experiment a bit more with the tempeh bacon. Flavor-wise I thought it was fairly spot on but I would have liked a crisper texture. I actually fried it a second time and that helped a bit but I may try to get the tempeh a bit drier the next time (why I recommend draining and patting it dry in the recipe notes.) I plan to play around with it and also try a coconut flake version to see if I like the texture better. But overall a success and it definitely hit the spot for my baked potato craving. 

Obviously I liked it! ;-)

We have some great people and dishes awaiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look.

The Bearded Hiker joins us at Souper Sundays this week with Chili Cheese Dog Chili and said, "My wife was on Pinterest, looking at food. Typical. She spots this slow cooker chili cheese dog chili from Hot dogs are not her number one food. Not even her #1000 food, but she knows how I love hot dogs. She shows it to me, reads the ingredients, and I’m so down. Let’s do this. So yeah, the original recipe is done in the slow cooker. Perfect! Just not for me, not on this day. I wanted it and I wanted it now!“No worries,” she says. “I’m gonna throw it in the pressure cooker and see what happens.” Rock on, so that’s what we did."

Kim of Stirring the Pot tried Ina's 16 Bean Pasta e Fagioli but didn't have a great result. She said, "This soup takes forethought, quite a bit of work, and results in lots of dirty dishes. No problem, right? After all, I love all the ingredients and this soup is definitely going to be great. Wrong. So wrong. I wish I didn't have to say this, but my soup was really mild. Way too mild. In fact, my husband's comment was "this has no flavor at all." I had to agree with him. ...this recipe is a no go for us. Don't be afraid to give it a try though because I know a few others who have really enjoyed it! But, do me a favor, soak your beans overnight!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Eggplant Sliders and said, "The lunch was meant to be eggplant sliders but I didn't' get to the grocery store for Hawaiian rolls. Those little things are so good. (Putting it on the list to look for a copycat recipe) We usually take our lunch as it's preferable to fighting lunch time crowds and also it's cost effective. Plus there are crazy holiday shoppers out there now and the traffic is maddening. Our workplace break rooms are blissfully quiet and empty this time of year."

Mahalo to everyone who joined me at Souper Sundays this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

(Vegan) Lasagna Soup with Herbed Macadamia Ricotta for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Coming across But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! by Kristy Turner at the library and seeing the recipe for Lasagna Soup, I knew I wanted to try it. I own Turner's first book, But I Could Never Go Vegan! and wanted to try out this book before purchasing. Plus, my friend Stephanie linked up a lasagna soup to Souper Sundays a few weeks ago and I have been thinking about it ever since.

Turner's version uses chickpeas in place of any vegan meat substitutes and has a topping of Herbed Macadamia Ricotta. I made a couple of tiny changes to the recipe--upping the garlic and the tomatoes--mainly because the only no-salt crushed tomatoes I could find was in a 28-ounce can and I didn't want to bother with freezing/storing the leftovers. I upped the dried spices a bit too. My changes are noted in red below.

Lasagna Soup with Herbed Macadamia Ricotta
Slightly Adapted from But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan by Kristy Turner
(Serves 6)

1 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 5 cloves)
1 1/2 cups cooked, or 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano (I used 1 Tbsp)
1 tsp dried parsley (I used 2 tsps)
pinch of cayenne (or crushed red pepper)
1 (15-oz) can no-salt added tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can no-salt added crushed tomatoes (I used 1 28-oz can)
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
12-oz lasagna noodles, broken in half
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste
3 cups loosely packed chopped fresh spinach
1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
Herbed Macadamia Ricotta (recipe below)
Fresh basil to garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

In another large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic and saute until the onion turns translucent. Add the chickpeas, mushrooms, squash, and dried herbs and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables start to become tender. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and broth and bring soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are mostly tender.

Meanwhile, cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions--until al dente. Drain the pasta and add them to the soup. Stir in the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste. Add the chopped spinach and basil and remove soup from heat.

Serve immediately topped with a scoop of the Herbed Macadamia Ricotta.

Leftover soup will keep in a container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Turner notes not to let the soup simmer for too long after adding the noodles or while reheating as they will absorb more liquid and break apart. Add more liquid if needed when reheating. 


Herbed Macadamia Ricotta
From But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan by Kristy Turner
(Makes about 1 Cup)

1 cup raw macadamia (or cashew or almonds), soaked in water for at least 1 hour, drained with water reserved
3 Tbsp + extra reserved soaking water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white miso

Combine the macadamia nuts, 4 teaspoons of the reserved soaking liquid, lemon juice, herbs, salt and miso in the bowl of a food processor. Process mixture until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the cheese is not moving smoothly, add more soaking water a teaspoon at a time until it moves smoothly. Note: ricotta is usually a bit grainy so you don't have to get the mixture completely smooth. 

Leftover ricotta can be kept tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week.  

Notes/Results: This soup has good flavor and hit the spot. The herbed macadamia ricotta is just the right touch and even with the addition of the chickpeas--a bit unusual for lasagna, it has all of the taste of the dish. Very creamy and satisfying--even without the meat. The lasagna noodles are a little unwieldy to eat with their size but they cut pretty easily with the spoon. For the ricotta, I soaked my macadamias over night but had a hard time in getting them very smooth in the food processor--adding quite a bit of extra soaking water. Then I thought about it and decided that ricotta usually isn't completely smooth and decided not to worry about it. It ended up melting into the soup as I ate it and was delicious. Next time, I may make it in my high-speed blender instead just to see what it does to the texture. All-in-all it was a relatively quick and easy soup to make and tasted great--I think it would satisfy vegans and meat-eaters alike. I would happily make it again.  

We have some good friends with delicious dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen from last week--let's have a look!

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen made Simple Roasted Beetroot and Carrot Salad and said, "As the beetroot and carrots roasted together, the beetroot infused some of its colour into the carrots almost making it look like almost like rainbow carrots.  the red onions became soft and silky and the small potatoes, golden and crisp."

Melynda of Our Sunday Cafe shared Mediterranean Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar and said, "Looking for ways to eat more vegetables, led me to this salad. It is delicious and can be made at a moments notice from ingredients on hand. Paired with some whole grain bread and a piece of fresh fruit, it will also make a wonderful lunch or light supper."

Terri of Our Good Life is here this week and brought Indian Style Carrot and Tomato Soup. She said, "Recently I learned I needed to reduce the acidity of my stomach, and my doctor recommended that I use tomato powder instead of fresh tomatoes.  Here is a version of tomato soup using tomato powder. I love fresh tomatoes and while this soup was good, it would be best with fresh tomatoes.  Still, in a pinch, I would not hesitate to use the tomato powder!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor has been suffering with a head cold so she doctored up a pack of Indian-spiced lentils and made a quick Bombay Lentil Soup. She said, "It seems like 2 weeks that this head cold has been with me but the reality's only been a few days. It drains your energy level something awful so an easy fix for a hot comforting lunch was a convenience food from Tasty Bite. I doctored this packet of lentils up with some vegetable broth and it was wonderful."

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Restaurant Critic's Wife" by Elizabeth LaBan, Served with (Vegan) Stove Top Mac and Cheeze & a Giveaway! {#FoodiesRead #TLCBookTour}

If you have ever read a restaurant critic's review and thought "I could do that!" or dreamed of being paid to eat (a lot) at exclusive or expensive restaruants on someone else's dime, you may want to read The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan on today's TLC Book Tour stop. Being a critic isn't as easy or glamorous as it sounds and it's even less so being the restaurant critic's significant other. At least that's Lila's experience as a mother of two and the wife of Sam, Philadelphia's newest restaurant critic. Sam's obsessive need to remain anonymous is cramping Lila's style and driving her crazy and it's a funny and food-centered ride. Accompanying my review is a bowl of (Vegan) Stove Top Mac & Cheese inspired by one of my favorite parts of the book. And, there's even a chance to win a copy of your own at the end of this post...pretty great for a Monday.

Publisher's Blurb:

What could be better than being married to a restaurant critic? All those amazing meals at the best restaurants…pure nirvana, right? Well, Lila Soto, the heroine of Elizabeth LaBan’s charming new novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife (Lake Union Publishing; January 5, 2016), might tell you otherwise. Sure the food is heavenly, but the downsides are considerable—especially being married to a man who is obsessed with his job and paranoid to the point of absurdity about being “outed” from his anonymity. Add to the scenario the fact that Lila has given up her own career to follow her husband’s job to a new, unfamiliar city, and that she is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom—a gig she never aspired to, despite loving her kids—and you begin to see why Lila is doubting every life decision she’s ever made.

Though it is not an autobiography by any means, it can’t be overlooked that Elizabeth LaBan is herself married to Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan. “This book wouldn’t exist without my husband,” she says, “who brings excitement, adventure, love, and great food into our lives every day, and has always been open to my writing a novel about a woman who is married to a wacky restaurant critic. For the record, Craig is not obsessive or controlling like Sam—and Craig did not tell me to say that.” But, even if her main characters are fictitious, there is no denying that Elizabeth draws on aspects of her own life to lend a delicious verisimilitude to the novel.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is a charming portrait of the complexities of life that many women face when dealing with their marriages, their children, their friendships, and their careers. All the talk about exquisite food is merely the icing on a one-of-a-kind cake.

Paperback: 313 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 5, 2016)

There's a lot to love about this book--especially if you are a foodie who likes to alternate some tasty food descriptions with snorts of laughter. Sam is so over the top sometimes with his *rules* for keeping his identity a secret that it is a wonder that Lila doesn't kill him! He drove me crazy. From his disguises, to skulking through restaurant garbage cans, to not talking to the neighbors (or anyone who may have any association to anyone even remotely connected to a restaurant), it is easy to understand why Lila feels so isolated. She's in a new city, with a toddler and a new baby, missing her high-powered job managing hotel crises, and her only friend in her new hometown owns a restaurant with her husband that Sam is set to review. Even though I don't have kids or a beyond quirky husband, it was easy to relate to Lila because who doesn't have those moments of questioning your life choices and the path you seem to be on?!

The Restaurant Critic's Wife manages to be both funny and poignant. I had the opportunity to join in a TLC Readers Facebook chat with Elizabeth LaBan and asked her about her own experiences as the spouse of a restaurant critic (it was apparent that we all found it fascinating with the many questions she was getting about her husband's job!) and although she says he isn't nearly as wacky as Sam, there were many little nuggets of truth in there. It keeps the book feeling real and makes it a great read for the January doldrums and for my first TLC Book Tour of the new year. (Don't forget to enter below to win your own copy!


Author Notes: Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages. 

 Connect with Elizabeth on her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Food, food, food, there was enough of it in The Restaurant Critic's Wife to make it difficult to choose something to make inspired by my reading. Sam's newspaper had a quirky rating system of swans (instead of forks or stars) to review restaurants and there were some four swan dishes that tempted my palate. In the Facebook chat with Elizabeth on her release day, she mentioned that she prefers simpler fare then her husband does. Since I like to cook and eat simply, those were the dishes I was most drawn too--the duck gumbo that same recommended Lila try when they met in New Orleans (and the Sazerac cocktail and banana pancakes he made for her there), her favorite sour cream coffeecake from a restaurant Sam reviewed, countless pasta and spaghetti dinners (including one hilarious scene where the glue from Sam's beard disguise prevents him from talking clearly, causing the waitress to treat him like he has some special needs), fondue that Sam declares has hidden American cheese (egads!) and a tasty sounding shrimp and chick-pea curry--were all on my "short-list" for this book. 

Ultimately it was macaroni and cheese that won the day. On a spring trip to the Jersey Shore, Sam devises the "Mac and Cheese Test"--bringing boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to the restaurants they dine at to see how/if each restaurant will deal with the request to make it for their daughter Hazel. I thought it was pretty funny and kind of ingenious (since I didn't have to see him do it or eat it like poor Hazel who eventually had, "Too much macaroni.") I forgot to ask Elizabeth if this test really happened but I hope it did. ;-)

My goal was to make a Kraft-like stove top mac and cheese but I am clearing wheat/gluten, dairy, and added sugar out of my system for a few weeks to see if it helps my breathing. No matter, I am a big fan of trying different vegan mac & cheeze recipes and I found one that a blogger created to get her daughter over the boxed variety. With a dairy-free base and gluten-free pasta, I could still get a bowl of simple, creamy comfort. 

Easy, Cheezy Vegan Macaroni 
Slightly Adapted from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
(Serves 6)

1 pound pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used gluten free quinoa pasta)
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup plain, non-dairy milk alternative (I used almond milk)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
a pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp tahini (optional, but lends creaminess and flavor)
1 tsp mellow white miso
ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta (al dente) according to the package directions. Meanwhile, blend water and remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste sauce and add additional flavor (mustard, onion powder, lemon, salt) as desired.  

Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water. Return drained pasta to pan and add the sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens, adding pasta water as needed for additional moistness. Once sauce is thick and creamy to your liking, serve immediately. 

Notes/Results: Not my favorite vegan mac and cheese ever but I liked the list of healthy ingredients and a bowl of cheeze-ish pasta is always welcome. This one makes an ultra-creamy sauce that stayed fairly thick even when I added all of my reserved pasta water. People not used to non-dairy cheeze options or nutritional yeast will argue it doesn't taste like "real" cheese (but does boxed macaroni truly taste of "real cheese" anyway?). I am sure Sam would hate it--hah! But for me, it hit the spot. (BTW: One other thing about vegan mac and cheeze is that you have approximately 3 minutes once it is dished up before it starts to cool and look gloppy so pardon the pictures--it tastes better than it appears.)  You can thin out the leftovers with a little extra non-dairy milk when reheating. 

The Restaurant Critic's Wife is my second entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the January Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month. 


The publisher has generously offered a copy of this fun foodie book to one of my readers as part of this TLC Blog Tour. (Open to US/Canada addresses)

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, you must leave a comment (Basically because I like to read them!) ;-) based on the subject of the book:

As a food critic, Lila's husband Sam used the newspaper's quirky rating system of swans to evaluate the restaurants. Leave a comment telling me about a restaurant or a particular dish that you loved and would give 4 swans to (the highest rating). (If you don't eat out or can't think of a restaurant dish, you can tell me about one of your own dishes that deserves a 4 swan rating!)

There are a couple of other optional ways to get entries 1) Tweet about this giveaway (you can do this once per day if you like!) or 2) follow me on Twitter (@Debin Hawaii).

The Giveaway runs until 1/25/ 16. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: A review copy of "The Restaurant Critic's Wife" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bubbling Cauldron Popcorn (Cheezy Kale & Nori-Dusted) with a few Mozzarella 'Dead Man's Toes' for Food 'N Flix October: Hocus Pocus

This month's Food 'N Flix selection is Hocus Pocus, hosted by Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook. (You can see her announcement post here.) Although not particularly food-filled, it is the classic Halloween movie and a perfect choice for October.

I had not seen the full movie in years so it was a pleasure to put on the DVD, grab some popcorn, and head to Salem Massachusetts. If you don't know the film, the Sanderson Sisters (Winifred, Mary and Sarah) are three witches who back in 1693, lured young Emily Binx away from her home as part of a spell to regain their youth. Her brother, Thackery Binx, tries to stop them and save Emily but fails. Emily dies and Thackery is turned into a cat--forced to live forever with his guilt and sorrow. The witchy sisters are caught and hanged, but a spell is cast that will bring them back if a virgin lights their black flame candle. Three hundred years later, the Dennison Family is new to Salem and teenage Max and his little sister Dani go to the Sanderson's cottage--a derelict museum--with Alison, the girl Max likes. Max (a virgin) lights the candle which brings the sisters to life and they promptly set out to finish casting their youth spell using Dani and the children of the town. Of course much mayhem ensues. ;-) It's fun, has a pretty good family vibe, and a great cast--especially the sisters played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker.     

I took my food inspiration from the Sanderson Sister's bubbling witch's cauldron which glowed green from the spell Winifred cast. There are so many sweet treats around for Halloween that are hard to say no to and so I was craving something on the savory snacking side instead. I decided to fill my witch's cauldron with green-ish popcorn to mimic the bubbling. To keep it on the healthy side, there were a few different options to consider for coloring and flavor like matcha (green tea) and spirulina (blue green algae), but then I saw a popcorn post that used powdered kale (from ground up kale chips) and I was hooked. A nice way to work some greens into a favorite snack food. ;-) Since the spell included a dead man's toe (a 'fleshy" one), I made a few edible toes from mozzarella string cheese and sliced almonds to add that Halloween gross-out factor. (I had some superball eyeballs in my Halloween stash and added them to the photos because if you were a witch you might happen to have a few eyeballs sitting around with your stash of dead man's toes just in case! And, they filled in space and got me out of sacrificing more than one string cheese to ugly toes...) 

This popcorn is as easy as making your own kale chips in the oven, or buying a bag at your favorite grocery or natural food store and grinding them up in the blender or food processor. Since kale on its own would be a bit boring, I added nutritional yeast to mellow the slight bitterness from the kale and to give the popcorn a cheezy flavor, and toasted nori seaweed for umami. There are various ways to make popcorn--microwave, kettle, popcorn maker. I have an air popper than I like to drag out now and then for movie nights. Since the air popper doesn't use any oil, I sprayed my popcorn lightly with coconut oil spray to help the seasoning stick.

Witch's Cauldron Kale-Dusted Popcorn
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, Inspired by Organic Authority
(Makes about 8-10 cups of popcorn)

1 1/2 cup *kale chips
2 large square sheets of nori (like the kind you would roll sushi in), torn into pieces
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
sea salt and black pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes
8-10 cups popped popcorn (plain), warm
coconut oil spray (I use a pump oil spray mister similar to this one)

Pulverize kale chips and torn nori sheets in the bowl of a food processor, until finely ground. Add nutritional yeast, a pinch of sea salt, and pepper (to taste), and a pinch of red pepper flakes and pulse a few times until thoroughly mixed together. 

Put warm popped popcorn into a very large bowl. Lightly spray the popcorn with the coconut oil spray and gently toss to ensure it is distributed. Sprinkle on the seasoning powder and carefully keep tossing until the popcorn is evenly coated with the seasoning mixture. Serve and enjoy!

*Kale Chips: You can either buy a package of kale chips (faster, simpler) and grind them or make your own (cheaper, better) and grind them. For this popcorn, I am having a busy week so I used about 1 1/2 cups store-bought kale chips. (When I make my own have found Oh She Glows recipe to work the best for me as it always generates crispy chips--you can find it here. I usually get about 1 1/2 cups of chips from one large bunch of kale.)

For my dead man's toes: I used string cheese, slicing it into thirds, flattening it out slightly and shaving a little indentation off of one end for the sliced almond toenail to rest in. For the slight decay and blood look--and to hold the almond in better, I used a combination of a little black food coloring and harissa paste (you could use tomato paste if you prefer) drawn on with a toothpick.

Notes/Results: I really love this popcorn as it has layers of great flavor; it's nicely savory, slightly cheezy, has a little salty brine from the nori, and just a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes. Definitely moreish. With just a little coconut oil, it's pretty healthy too, with lots of nutrients and minerals. It's not quite as green as I was originally going for with the yellow nutritional yeast, but there is a slight green tinge that you can see better up close than you can in the pictures. The mozzarella dead man's toes are more for effect but are also edible. For the toes, I had an open tube of spicy harissa paste, so I used it for a spicy kick but you could just use tomato paste or even ketchup. (As mentioned, the eyeballs are fake and just added for fun.) Pretty quick and easy fun and great for snacking when you have had too much candy. I will happily make this popcorn again--Halloween or not. 

The deadline for this month's Food 'N Flix event is tomorrow, Thursday, October 28th. Elizabeth will be rounding up all of the entries on her blog shortly after. If you missed this month and love food, films and foodie films, join us for November when Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be hosting The Hundred-Foot Journey. (Bonus! Camilla and I are doing a optional tie-in between Food 'N Flix and Cook the Books, where our October/November book pick is the novel on which the movie is based. Come join the fun--film, book, or both!


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Love is Red" by Sophie Jaff, Served with Penne with (Vegan) Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Love is Red, and so is the Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce that I am serving up today, inspired by this unique and completely absorbing new novel by Sophie Jaff. So pull up a fork and get ready for a book review and a recipe for today's TLC Book Tour stop.

Publisher's Blurb:

This electrifying, addictive, and hypnotically beautiful debut spins suspense and literary fantasy into a stunning epic—the first volume in the Night Song Trilogy—ablaze with fear, mystery, and possibility.

Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she isn’t aware that this future awaits. However, there is one man who knows the truth: A killer stalking the women of New York, a monster the media dubs the “Sickle Man” because of the way he turns his victims into canvasses for his mesmerizing, twisted art.

Unleashed upon Manhattan after lying dormant for centuries, the Sickle Man kills to harvest the precious hues of his victims. As his palette grows, so too does his power. Every death brings him closer to the one color, and the one woman, he must possess at any cost.

While the city hunts the Sickle Man, Katherine must decide what to do about two men who have unexpectedly entered her life: handsome and personable David, and alluring yet aloof Sael. Though she’s becoming increasingly torn between them, how well does she really know them? And why is she suddenly plagued by disturbing visions?

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Katherine and the Sickle Man, Love Is Red is a riveting thriller that unfolds into an intense story of obsession and control, desire and fate. Katherine may not realize it yet, but with this haunting novel—as arrestingly original as Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, Patrick Süskind’s Perfume, and Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls—her moment of awakening is here. And soon she will find herself fighting a battle at the edges of our world, among forces more dangerous than we can possibly imagine

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 12, 2015)

My Review:

Love is Red is such a unique book--a combination of mystery/thriller and romance along with a sprinkling of fantasy and paranormal. The story is told by Katherine, a young woman living in New York City with her roommate Andrea and Andrea's young son Lucas, and she has just begun seeing two very different men. David is sweet and attentive and his friend Sael is mysterious, cocky, and somewhat distant. Alternatively, we get the chilling perspective of the Sickle Man, the serial killer who is terrorizing the city with his macabre murders. The Sickle Man sees emotions as colors ("Love is red. A little green, a little gold, but love--real love, true love, divine love--that love is red.") As he murders young women (and leaves their bodies with intricate carvings--yikes!), the Sickle Man is "collecting" their different colors while waiting for Katherine, his ultimate conquest, to be ready for him. It is difficult to explain too much more about the book without giving spoilers, and trust me, you will want to read it for yourself.

Love is Red had my pulse pounding from the start, and it occasionally had me scratching my head while I was trying to figure out just what was happening with the many plot twists and the weaving in of a tale of a mysterious medieval maiden. I had forgotten until I was finishing the book that Love is Red is the first book in a trilogy. That being said, it thankfully doesn't end on an annoying cliffhanger, but it did leave me with plenty of questions and wanting more. If you want a book that is intriguing and a bit different, with a story that will draw you in quickly and not let go, grab a copy of this one.

Author Notes: A native of South Africa, Sophie Jaff is an alumna of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and a fellow of the Dramatists Guild of America. Her work has been performed at Symphony Space, Lincoln Center, the Duplex, the Gershwin, and Goodspeed Musicals. She lives in New York City.
Find out more about Sophie at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Gruesome murders don't often inspire thoughts of food for me, but there was actually a fair amount of food mentions in Love is Red. Different restaurants, the description of the items in a gourmet grocery store that one of the Sickle Man's victims loved, and the food that Katherine makes all brought inspiration. In the end, I chose to make a tomato-based pasta--both for its red color, and because Katherine cooks a dinner for David, her roommate and her son, and Sael, who David brings along. It is a happy and normal evening, so different from most of the book. 

"Mismatched bowls on place mats, the sauce, tomato-based and basic, steaming, pasta and some bread. A good smell, a cheerful smell. There's still a bottle of wine to go. There is candlelight. Talk is easy. I laugh. I feel my shoulders descending. It's a wonderful evening. Four adults and a child, content a Saturday night. We do not talk of how many women they've found, or Andrea's job. We speak of broad general things, the weather, movies, books, past summers, and memories. David is kind, Seal is attentive, and Andrea is delighting in their company. 

And just in this moment I am happy."

I wanted something simple but indulgent so I turned to Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli and a recipe for a creamy pasta dish I have had tagged to make for a while now. It's a great pantry recipe and quick and easy to make.

Chloe says, "If there was such a things as fine-dining comfort food, this would be it! It's addictive and crave-inducing like macaroni and cheese, but it's elegant and classy with the slick penne and flecks of sun-dried tomatoes. Fit for all occasions, this will be your new "it" pasta."

Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen
(Serves 4)

1 lb penne (or gluten free pasta)
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour (or gluten free all-purpose flour)
3 1/2 cups almond milk (I ended up using 4 cups total)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
pinch of crushed red pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Right before draining, add 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes to the boiling water. Drain pasta and return to the pot.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, make a roux by whisking the oil and flour over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add almond milk, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt, garlic powder, basil, and red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low, add the remaining 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Add sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Season to taste and serve immediately. 

Cooking Note: If sauce thickens too much as it sits, reconstitute by adding a little bit of nondairy milk. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Notes/Results: This pasta tastes so much more decadent than its ingredients would lead you to believe. The thick sauce is smooth and very silky. I did need to add extra almond milk to thin it a bit. I liked the slightly tangy sweet flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes and it also has a a very cheesy essence--a bit surprising since it only has a a quarter cup of nutritional yeast. Just a good and simple dish that hits the spot when comfort food is needed. I would make it again.

Note: A review copy of "Love is Red" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.