Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Italian Apple Cake

Italian apple cake

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I know I said it earlier, but you have seriously got to pick up one of Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbooks!  I finally had a chance to sit down and peruse through two of her cookbooks:  Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, and everything looks amazing!!  I know I’ve probably said this before about other cookbooks, but for a vegan cookbook, everything does seriously look phenomenal.

Chloe's vegan italian kitchen

But does it taste amazing?  I can enthusiastically say “YES!!” My family,  a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarians, whole-heartedly agrees.

So far I’ve tried the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from her desserts cookbook.  I made those this past Saturday morning for the company we had that spent the night.  They were a big hit and they held everyone over until I finished making breakfast.  I wish I had a picture to share with you, but I wasn’t thinking that morning and they didn’t last long.  But everyone, guests and all, loved them.

Then last night for dinner, I made the Pasta in Pink Sauce, or more authentically, Pasta Con La Salsa Rosa, from her Italian cookbook.  I got more compliments and thank you’s from everyone than I can ever remember getting from cooking.  Everyone thanked me over and over for making it, and went on about how great it was!

Now, I did tweak this pasta recipe a bit – I wanted a little more substance so it wasn’t just pasta and sauce.  So I sautéed some mushrooms, onions, red pepper and broccoli, and added it into the sauce at the end.  I think what made this so good was the “cream” sauce that was added, which of course, is not cream, but a mixture of cashews and water blended in the Vitamix.  What would also be great with this particular dish would be to add the vegan meatball sliders.

I think another thing that made it so good was that, since I eat gluten free, I used the Jovial brand of brown rice pasta, which I hadn’t used in quite a while.  I actually really like the texture of these noodles better than the corn-based Farmo brand.

I was on a roll with Chloe’s recipes, so for our Monday night “Dancing with the Stars” party, I thought I would try her Italian Apple Cake, or again, more authentically, Torta di Mela.  I thought it would make a perfect fall dessert and a perfect ending to a great Italian meal.  And, once again, she did not disappoint!  Click here for the recipe for Chloe’s vegan apple cake.

But you know what I’m really excited about?  Her books and recipes have inspired me, and a new spark has been ignited for cooking again.  Quite honestly, I felt like I was going through a bit of a slump, and I wasn’t being too creative.  My family was being very polite, but there were probably only so many sautéed vegetable dishes they could take!

What I also love about Chloe is that she doesn’t push a vegan way of eating on everyone.  She is a vegan and that works for her, but she doesn’t make  you feel bad if you aren’t a vegan.  She just says to maybe give some of her recipes a try and see what you think and how you feel.  Or maybe just try one vegan dish a week and see how you like it.  Everyone is different, and her way of presenting is so lovingly non-judgemental.  We could all learn from that.

Chloe has also got me thinking about all of the creative ways to make substitutions.  I’ve tried a ton of Paleo recipes where they have made substitutions for dairy or sugar or some other ingredient, but the Paleo world, in my opinion, hasn’t quite figured it out yet (the exclusion being, perhaps, Julie Bauer and George Bryant’s “The Paleo Kitchen”).  The substitutions Chloe has made for vegan dishes and desserts work amazingly well.  So much so, that you don’t even miss the ingredient that is being substituted.  I think her victory on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” is a testament to that.  If the judges on that show awarded her the winner (the first vegan chef to enter), then I think it’s safe to say, most people would find her creations to be winners as well!

So a big thank you to Chloe Coscarelli for all of her hard work testing and re-testing recipes, adapting her family recipes to fit the vegan lifestyle, and for putting herself out there and sharing all of this wonderful food with the world.

And, if you know anyone who is a vegan or vegetarian, or is just looking to maybe start a Meatless Monday program with their family, her cookbooks would make great gifts – for a hostess gift, holiday gift, thank-you gift, or even a just a “thinking about you” gift.

Maybe even give yourself the gift – especially if you are looking for some different options as we move into the holiday season.

Try some of her recipes and let me know what you think!

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Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Meatballs!

Vegan meatballs

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

Today is Tuesday, which means it’s Q&A Tuesday on Marie Forleo’s Marie TV.  Today, she interviewed Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan chef who, at the age of 22, won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and was the first vegan to ever enter the competition.

I pretty much love all of the stuff Marie Forleo posts and writes about, and I always look forward to her videos – especially her interviews.  Today Marie and Chloe talked about how she got started in cooking

Her third cookbook, “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics,” came about because, of course, she’s Italian.  Everyone said she couldn’t possibly eat Italian as a vegan, because of all of the cheese and meat.  So, she set out to “veganize” some of her family’s traditional Italian recipes.  And the results are Marie approved!

On today’s interview, they brought out these vegan meatball sliders and they looked like real meatballs.  So I clicked on the link for the recipe to check out the ingredients, because I couldn’t believe that they would actually come close to real meatballs.  And when I saw the ingredients, I thought these might actually work – brown rice, mushroom, and onion, were the base of the recipe.  So I got right to work on making Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs.

First off, everyone loved the smell that cooking these created in our house.  So that was a good sign.  Then, as I prepared everything and shaped them into balls, they were really impressed how they actually looked like meatballs.

Then came the true test.  After cooking them in olive oil in the pan (rather than canola oil), Lindsey and Frankie (who are both vegetarians) tried them and they couldn’t believe how good they were!  A still bigger test was Mike, since he loves regular meatballs.  And they won him over too!  And of course, for me, they are one of my new favorite recipes.

Here’s the link to the recipe for vegan meatball sliders. Check out how easy they are to make!

Instead of pasta, I chose to “grill” a piece of gluten-free bread in the pan I used for the meatballs, which had some leftover olive oil.  It was amazing!

Now that I know her recipes work – meaning they are easy and they taste great – I am definitely going to order her book so I can play around with her other vegan recipes.  And, this will definitely be my go-to gift for my vegan and vegetarian friends.

Try it our for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Asian Stir Fry With Gluten-Free Pasta

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

As promised on Instagram last week, is the recipe for a really easy Asian Stir Fry.  I made it for the first time a week ago and I’ve made it four times since!  That tells you one of two things:  either I’ve gone completely brain dead in terms of coming up with ideas for meals, OR this recipe rocks!

Although, admittedly, one of the nights I was lacking in meal-planning creativity, the remaining nights I made this stir fry, it was per request of my family – ‘cause it’s just that good.

The fun thing about this recipe (and which adds a little variety) is that although the sauce part of the recipe stays the same, you can add and switch out what you choose to put in with the sauce.  So if your family isn’t paying too much attention, they may think the same basic recipe is two totally different meals.

As an example, one night I made this recipe using mushrooms, red peppers, onions, cabbage, and some leftover pulled pork.  Then another night I used tofu, broccoli, purple cabbage, brussels sprouts, and onions, giving it a totally different feel.

Use your own imagination and tailor the recipe to your tastes and whatever you feel like that particular night!

At any rate, here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup orange juice

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce (gluten free)

1 to 2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger

3 gloves garlic, chopped

3 Tbsp. honey

3 tsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. corn starch

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Add to the sauteed vegetables when they are almost done.

Here’s what I used for the vegetables:

1 bunch broccoli, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 red pepper sliced long and thin

2 cups purple cabbage sliced thin

2 cups brussels sprouts cut in half or fourths

I sauteed the vegetables in olive oil until done to desired tenderness, adding the sauce when almost complete.

I then cooked some pasta according to the package.  I used one package of Farmo spaghetti pasta (as it’s made in Italy from corn with no gluten), and added it to the vegetables and sauce and tossed everything together for a couple of minutes to make sure everything was coated nicely with the sauce.

Sometimes I have some sauce leftover for another meal or snack, and sometimes I end up using it all.  It just depends on how many vegetables and pasta I use.

Other options to add:

Organic extra firm tofu, chopped into small squares

Zucchini

Chicken

Pulled pork

Mushrooms

Cauliflower

“Stupid-Easy” Spaghetti Squash

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By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

Lately I’ve been trying to expand my food palate while also cutting back on my meat intake… which has lead to some interesting kitchen experiments, some of which I might file under “complete failure.”

Others, like Curried Carrot Soup, have been awesome. I’ve been passing that one along to anyone looking to try something a little different.

One of my big efforts to branch out was to try spaghetti squash for the first time. I was pretty confident I would hate it, because I’m just not a squash girl by any means. I won’t even eat pumpkin pie.

Frankly I don’t even like spaghetti that much, but it’s quick and easy so I figured I’d suck it up and give it a shot.

To my surprise I absolutely loved it. I simply replaced the cooked squash for noodles, put a little organic pasta sauce on top (with some additional parmesan cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and onions of course), and I was practically waxing poetic over my bowl. It didn’t taste “squashy” at all, and I loved the texture! To me it tasted way better than regular noodles.

Thus began my love affair with the spaghetti squash.

I wanted to try something different with the other half of my squash, and this time try to keep the mess down as much as possible. I concocted this one-pan recipe (well, two pans, if you have to prepare the squash) as I went along, playing it by ear and hoping for the best.

I destroyed the entire thing for lunch, and it kept me satisfied for the rest of the day. It was fantastically buttery and sweet – and stupid-easy to make.

I would suggest, if you want to give it a go and you’re not too much of a veggie eater, that you try it as a side-dish first; I eat mass quantities of vegetables every day, and a (admittedly large) bowl of this was enough fiber to make even my stomach a little gurgly.

It’s so good for you! It’s gluten-free, low in calories (even lower if you cut back on the butter and olive oil), high in fiber and vitamins, and it still tastes great.

Ingredients:

1/2 prepared spaghetti squash

1 cup chopped cabbage

1 handful (3-5) organic mini-portobello mushrooms

1 Tbs. chopped garlic

1 red onion, sliced

1 cup chopped baby spinach

1/2 cup chopped organic firm tofu

Coconut oil

2 Tbs. Butter

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

Preparing the squash: Cut the squash in half length-wise. Use a spoon to core out the seeds and pulp. Place the halves rind-up on a lightly greased baking pan, and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes. Let cool enough to be handled while preparing other ingredients.

Like I said, this is a one-pan wonder. Add enough coconut oil to your pan to lightly coat the bottom, and sauté the cabbage for about five minutes.

Add in the tofu, mushrooms, spinach, onion, garlic, butter and spaghetti squash, stir together well, and sauté on low heat for about 15 minutes.

When all of the vegetables are soft and caramelized, drizzle a little bit of good olive oil on top, season with salt and pepper, and serve!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!