Saturday, June 27, 2015

Klunker's Potatoes Au Gratin

 Klunker's Potatoes Au Gratin

Before today, my whole experience with Au Gratin potatoes has been from a box.  But today I wanted to try and see if I could make some, and plant based, no oil.  
I was very impatient waiting for the things to bake.  I wanted to try them now!  I am glad I waited though, because I am very happy with the results.  I would serve this as a side for a nice dinner.  Preparation is pretty easy, the hardest part is waiting for cooking. 


5 medium yukon gold potatoes
6oz. silken firm tofu
1 1/4c soy milk or any unflavored/unsweetened plant milk
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2-1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4c nutritional yeast
1/2c favorite breadcrumbs 

Preheat oven to 350*.  You will need an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and a large bowl full of water.
Wash your yukon golds and peel if you want.  Slice into rounds about the thickness of a nickle.  (1/4 inch)  As you slice them, put into the bowl of water.  This will keep them from browning.
After you have sliced all of them, let them soak for about 10 minutes.
While they are soaking, make the sauce.  In a blender, combine the tofu, plant milk and spices along with the nutritional yeast.  Blend until very smooth.
Drain your potatoes and pat them dry with a paper towel.  You can be as creative as you want, but you need to stack them in the pan.  I like to overlap them in rows.  I usually end up with two layers on top of each other.  
After you are happy with how they are layered, pour the sauce in.  I like to lift a few of the potatoes to make sure the sauce gets all over.  It gives you a lot of sauce, but the potatoes really soak it up.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top evenly, and place the pan in the oven.  I place a baking sheet under mine just in case. 
Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Watch it close.  If it starts browning too much, you may want to cover the top.  You want a nice crunchy top.
After 1 hour and 20 minutes, check one of the potatoes to see if they are tender. If not, let it go a little longer (10-15 minutes)
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then serve right away.  Great as a side dish for a barbecue or for a big salad.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Eggplant Parm with basil garlic aioli

Eggplant Parm with Basil Garlic Aioli

Challenge #3 today.  Come up with a version of eggplant parm.  This challenge was given to me by my McDougall friend Catherine.  I have to be honest, I am so glad that she gave me this challenge.  I absolutely fell in love with this recipe.  
It comes in three sections, but don't be put off, it is super easy.  The basil garlic aioli that I made for the recipe is so simple and yet will explode with such a great flavor in your mouth.


For the eggplant
1 large eggplant, top and bottom cut off, and eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch steaks.  I got about 5 out of one large eggplant.
2c Italian style breadcrumbs.  I found some great ones at Kroger® today.  They were Italian panko breadcrumbs with no oil.  But you could use any type of Italian flavored breadcrumbs.
1c unflavored plantbased milk.  I used soy.

For the tomato sauce
1 14.5oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried basil

For the garlic aioli
6 oz. silken firm tofu
1/2 cup packed fresh basil, washed and dried
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Heat oven to 425*.  Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone pad (recommended).
Pour your breadcrumbs onto a large plate, and your plant milk in a large bowl.  Dip each eggplant steak into the milk, making sure to cover all sides.  Remove from milk and put into breadcrumbs.  Make sure to cover the top and bottom well.  I use my hands and really press them in.  Place each breaded slice on the baking sheet, and repeat until all pieces are breaded.
Place in hot oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  No need to turn.
While the eggplants are cooking, place a small pan on the stove and combine all the ingredients for the tomato sauce, stir well, cover and turn heat on to medium.  It will slowly cook for about 20 minutes.  Check it every so often and stir.
Now for the aioli.  combine all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until very smooth and creamy.  If you don't eat soy, you could make this with your favorite cashew cream.  Pour into a squeeze bottle or a bowl and cover.  Place in fridge until everything is ready.
When the eggplant is ready, remove from oven and plate them.  (I ate the whole recipe for dinner, and I don't feel guilty at all)
Place a line of tomato sauce on each one, and then top with the basil garlic aioli.  Serve right away.  
It seems like a lot to do, but its mostly instructions.  It will actually all come together very fast.
If you prep everything as instructed, you can be done in less than 45 minutes.  My son even loved it.  I hope you do too! :)


Easy Spanish Rice

Easy Spanish rice

I used to only have Spanish rice from a restaurant or from a box.  So when I was asked by my McDougall friend Dina to make a good homemade version, I was thrilled.  I mean, I should know how to make this, and I am happy to report, I can now.  The recipe is so simple.  

3c long grain rice (I used white)
3c water
3 10 oz. cans of RoTel® (tomatoes and chilies) Mild, Medium, or Spicy.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

In a large pot, add the rice, and rinse several times.  You want to swish the rice around in the pot with your hand.  Dump the water carefully out, and rinse again with lots of running water.  Rinse until the water is no longer cloudy.  Drain carefully, and set on stove.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir very well.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  
After 30 minutes, turn the heat on to medium high and bring to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, stir one more time and cover.  Turn the heat to low and don't take the lid off again until it's done.  
Let cook for 15-20 minutes, covered.  Check the rice after 15 minutes to see if it is done.  You don't want mushy rice, but still kind of firm.  If it isn't done, cook for 5 more minutes.  Turn the heat off and let sit covered for another 5 minutes.  
Uncover and fluff with a fork.  Serve right away.  Goes great along beans and maybe taco's. 


(White rice)
3c long grain white rice, rinsed several times, until water runs clear
3 cans RoTel®, mild or spicy
1c water
1T chili powder
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

After rinsing rice, drain and add to Instant pot.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Stir well, close, and seal up.  Make sure the knob is in the pressure position.  Set to manual, and 8 minutes.  
After timer is done, let naturally release for 12 minutes, then manually release the pressure.  
Fluff with a fork and serve.

((**For Brown rice, increase water by 1/2 cup and increase time to 22 minutes, let naturally release for 15 minutes, then release manually**))

Veg-Traditional Hungarian Goulash

 Veg-Traditional Hungarian Goulash

I was super excited to make this recipe today.  I have not had goulash in many years, and I didn't know if I ever would have it again to be honest.  So when my friend Claudine asked for me to make some, well, I couldn't turn that down.  She is an amazing person.  Full of compassion and a great example of independence and a lover of animals.
This recipe makes a lot, so make it with your family, or freeze some for later.  


3 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 large red bell pepper, washed and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
1 large green bell pepper, washed and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large roma tomatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika 
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf 
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4c good veggie stock

2 tablespoons corn starch 
1/4c water

Prep work is key here.  Make sure you chop and dice all your veggies ahead, and it will come together much better.
In a large pot, add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat.  You will want to saute for about 10 minutes, or until they are starting to get translucent.  Add the paprika's and bay leaf and stir well.  Cook another minute, then add all the rest of the veggies.  Stir them well and cook for 5 minutes more.  Add the salt and pepper and add the veggie stock.  Stir again well, and allow to come to a simmer over medium heat.  
When it comes to a simmer add the tomato paste and stir until it is mixed in good, then cover and reduce the heat to low, and walk away.  
Cook for 30 minutes.
When it is done cooking, combine the corn starch and 1/4c water into a slurry.  Turn the heat to medium high, and let the goulash come to a simmer.  Add the slurry and stir well.  Allow to thicken for 1 minute.
Serve hot, with some plant based sour cream.  
You could serve over rice or noodles too.  :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My version of "Tin Roof Brussel Sprouts®"

My version of "Tin Roof Brussel Sprouts®"

This recipe was a request by my McDougall friend Cyndi.  She is a lover of brussel sprouts and was very excited about those made by Tin Roof.  Here is a link to the original recipe:
Now, I will be the first to tell you how much I am not a fan of brussel sprouts, so when I took this challenge on, it was with some reluctance.  Little did I know that I would stumble upon a recipe that made me feel different.  I LOVED THEM!!!!  That is saying a lot too.  I used to eat brussel sprouts all the time.  So much in fact, I got sick and tired of them.  So I decided to exclude them from my diet.  
With this recipe, I will now add them back in, because I enjoyed them that much.


1 lb. brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
4 tablespoons aqua fava (chickpea liquid from the can)
1 tsp. nutritional yeast (this with the aqua fava is your butter replacement) 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, chopped fine
1 tablespoon water
1 tsp. white miso (this is the anchovy replacement) 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tsp. whole capers

Preheat oven to 450*.  Clean all the brussel sprouts, cut in half and place them on a lined cookie sheet, face up.  When the oven is heated, place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Make sure to watch them, as everyone's oven is different.
While they are in the oven, place a small, nonstick pan on the stove and add the chopped garlic and the 1 tablespoon water.  Saute the garlic until it just starts to brown.  Add the aqua fava, nutritional yeast, miso, and lemon juice.  Whisk until the miso is blended in well.  Remove from heat, and add the capers.  Set aside.  
Remove the brussel sprouts when they are nice and brown on top.  With a large spoon, place them in a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over them, and mix well.  Let sit for 5 minutes and serve right away.  
I didn't need salt and pepper in this, but you can adjust that as needed.  
Most of all, ENJOY!!

Simple sauce for grilled veggies

Simple sauce for grilled veggies

This was a request by my McDougall friend Lina.  She wanted to have some good skewered veggies on the barbecue. 
Knowing that you need a good sauce, that is what I focused on.  You could make this with any veggies you wanted.  Today I used mushrooms, tomatoes and red bell peppers.  I did them individually because I wanted to know how each one tasted with the sauce, separate from each other. 

One thing to note, the best way to skewer veggies for grilling on the barbecue is with two skewers.  It makes it easier to turn the veggies.  Also, soak them in some water for an hour before you cook.  It keeps them from burning too much.


3/4 cup good balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons maple syrup

In a small, nonstick pan, pour the balsamic vinegar.  Set on the stove over medium heat.  Allow to come up to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.  Take off the heat and add the maple syrup, and stir well.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
While it is cooling, you can skewer your veggies.  Take your time, if you try and do them fast, they will oftentimes split in two.  
Place on your barbecue grill over medium heat.  After 10 minutes, turn carefully, and brush on some of your balsamic glaze.  
Let go another 10 minutes, and turn again.  Brush again with the glaze.  This time turn every minute for another 5 minutes, brushing each time.  This should use all your glaze.
Remove from heat, and let cool for a couple minutes, remove from skewers and enjoy with rice or potatoes.

Black Bean Soup

 Black Bean Soup

I was thrilled to get this request my my McDougall friend Sharon.  She wanted a recipe for black bean soup that was close to the one served at Panera®.  I had to do a lot of exploring to find what the ingredients were, obviously the quantities wouldn't be there, and they wouldn't list all the ingredients, but this recipe was almost spot on.  I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I did.


1/2 red onion, peeled and diced small
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced small
1/2 red bell pepper, washed and diced small
1 stalk celery, washed and diced small
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups good veggie stock
2 15oz. cans black beans, do not drain
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp. oregano 
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried celery

1 tablespoon corn starch with 2 tablespoons water, stirred into a slurry

In a medium saucepan, add the first 4 ingredients and place on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons water and saute for 10 minutes, stirring often.  
After 10 minutes, add the tomato paste and veggie stock and mix until the tomato paste is dissolved in the liquid.  
Bring to a simmer, and add one can of the black beans and it's liquid.  Stir well.  Take the other can of black beans with its liquid and blend until smooth.  Add to the soup and stir well.  
Add the lemon and spices and stir well.  Cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, increase the heat to medium high and pour the corn starch slurry in.  Stir well, let thicken for 1 minute.  
Serve right away.  Garnish with some more parsley and some sprigs of cilantro.

Thursday, June 18, 2015



I have to be honest, I am so glad I was asked to make this recipe.  I have never had pierogies 
before, and I don't know if I would have made them if not asked.
It is a little time consuming to make these, but the recipe makes over 50, and you can freeze them as cook as you like.  So it is definitely worth the effort.  A little effort now, a lot of easy meals later.  


For the filling:   

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks
8-10 cups water
6 oz. extra firm silken tofu
1/4c nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1/4c plant based milk of choice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4c freshly chopped chives

For the pasta shell:

3c unbleached flour (plus about 1/2 cup extra for dusting later)
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 tsp. baking low sodium baking powder
1/4c plant based sour cream (I used Dr. McDougall's recipe)
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3/4c water  

 To begin, lets make the mashed potatoes.  Start by putting your cut potatoes into a large pot and cover with 8-10 cups of cold water.  Place on the stove over medium high heat and partially cover the pot with a lid.   Allow to come to a soft boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tip of a sharp knife easily slides in and out of potato.
Drain in a colander and allow to sit and dry for a minute.  After about 2 minutes, add the potatoes back to the pot and add the remaining ingredients.
With a potato masher or with a hand mixer (recommended) whip the potatoes until smooth and creamy.  Scoop into a large bowl and cover.  Place in the fridge while you make the dough.
For the dough, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with a kneading attachment.  In a smaller bowl, combine the sour cream, applesauce and water until well mixed. 
Turn the mixer on medium, and slowly add the liquid in.  Let it mix until a dough forms.  It should not be too dry, but also not sticky.  If you need to add more flour to do this, do it 1 tablespoon at a time.
Turn the mixer up to medium high and knead for 6 minutes.
Turn off and remove dough.  It should be soft and not sticky.  Wrap in plastic wrap for 30 minutes to rest.  This will give you time to clean your area.
After 30 minutes, dust a clean counter top with plenty of flour, and place dough in the middle.  With a rolling pin that has also been dusted, roll out the dough.  Go slow so you don't make the dough tense up.  You will roll out until the dough is thin, about 1/8 inch thick.  
With a glass or big round cookie cutter (approximately 3 inches in diameter) cut circles out.
When you have cut out all you can, move the circles to the side and bunch the dough up again, and roll out.  Keep doing this until you have used all of the dough. (you should get about 50 circles)
Cover the circles with a clean kitchen towel, and work in batches.  I did 15 at a time.
Lay the circles out on the dusted surface, and take the mashed potatoes out of the fridge.  With a small 1 tablespoon scoop, or just a regular spoon, scoop out the mashed potatoes and put in the middle of each circle.
Get a small cup of water, wet your finger and dampen one half of the circle along the edges.  Work one at a time. 
After wetting the edge, fold over and press the edges down.
When all of the dumplings are folded over and edges pressed, get a fork and press along the edges to seal and to make pretty. :)
When the first 15 are done, place onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel and add more as you finish.  You can freeze at this point.  Just place the whole baking sheet in the freezer and freeze all of the perogies for 1 hour.  Then remove and place in plastic zip bags.
For those that are going to be cooked right away, you will want to bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.
When the water has come to a boil, lower about 8 pierogies down into the water.  Stir very gently to make sure they don't stick to the bottom or each other.  Cook for 10 minutes over a gentle boil.  
Remove to a strainer, and run cool water gently over them to stop the cooking and prevent sticking.  Allow to drain for about a minute and then place on a lined baking sheet until all the pierogies are done.
To serve, heat up a large nonstick pan over medium heat.  Place pierogies in the hot pan, making sure they don't touch.  You will have to work in batches.  Cook on the first side for about 5 minutes, or until golden.  They shouldn't stick.  Turn and cook another 3-5 minutes.
You can eat as is, or add your favorite gravy.  Might I suggest some mushroom gravy from this site?  Look up crock pot mushrooms. :)
You can also freeze after browning, and just microwave to heat up.

Most of all, and as always, ENJOY!!



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Klunker's simple hummus

Klunker's simple hummus

There is one food I could eat every day, every meal, and that is hummus.  I love the way it tastes, feels in my mouth, and satisfies me!  I schmear this stuff on baked potatoes, on sandwiches, on a spoon!  It really doesn't matter.  I also will put different things on top.  Most of the time is hot chili paste.  But grilled red peppers are another favorite.


2 15oz. cans of chickpeas, drained, but reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt (optional)

Place all of the ingredients, including the liquid you reserved into a food processor or high speed blender.  Blend for 5 minutes.  I have found this to be one of the ways to make the hummus smooth and creamy.  I have never blended that long before and it made all the difference in the world.
Half way through the blending, stop and scrape down the sides.
You can serve right away, or store in the fridge for the flavors to really come together.
Experiment with different toppings.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Baked Tofu

Dry aged, baked tofu

I don't eat tofu a lot, but when I do, I want it to be good.  I have bought some really good baked tofu, but until lately, unable to replicate it.  So, I have spent some time in my test kitchen, and finally came up with a recipe for baked tofu.  You will need paper towels for this too.
There are two ingredients:
1 block of firm or extra firm tofu, packed in water
low sodium soy sauce, tamari, braggs (you decide)

Day 1:
Bring the tofu home.  Take out of tub (if any of you can peel back the plastic top, I give you much credit.  I cannot, so I cut along the sides with a sharp knife.
Drain and then wash the tofu brick carefully under cold water.  Pat dry with some paper towels.
Now, wrap the tofu with 4-5 sheets of paper towels.  Then place this in a kitchen towel and put in the fridge.  Leave it alone now for a few hours.
After several hours, unwrap.  The paper towels will be very wet.  Toss them.  Now you will do the same, but this time wrap in 8 sheets of paper towels.  I put in a tupperware container with a lid.  The lid just barley fits on, which puts pressure on the tofu.  Now leave it overnight.

Day 2:
Take the tofu out of the fridge and unwrap.  It should be very wet again.  You will basically do the same thing on day 2.  You will go through a few paper towels.  I buy a roll of the cheap stuff for this.  Wrap, press and repeat.  I usually change every 4 hours, but you could do every 6.  Keep in the fridge and make sure there is pressure on it at all times.  I wrap in the paper towels and then a tea towel for the overnight part.  The goal is to have paper towels that are no longer wet.

Day 3:
Do the process one more time.  After 4 hours, remove from paper towels and on a plate.  Heat oven to 350*.
Brush all sides of the dry tofu with soy sauce (or sauce of choice) and put in a baking pan. (I used silicone) 

You will bake uncovered for one hour total.  Set your timer, and every 10 minutes you will brush with soy sauce (or sauce of choice).  Turn it also and brush the bottom.  Do this for one hour.  
Remove from oven and let cool to room temp.  Set in a covered container and put in the fridge overnight.  Finally, on day 4 you can use it.  Slice it, cube it, do what you want with it. :)
This is a long process, but anyone who has read my recipes knows that I don't rush when it comes to good food. :)  ENJOY  

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Easy waffles

Easy waffles

With my family transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, I needed to come up with recipes that were close to some of the standard American diet in taste and texture.  I figure this will make their transition a little easier.  
Today I decided that waffles should be on the menu for breakfast.  I already have a pancake recipe, but they never seem to turn out well when I put them on the waffle iron.  So, I came up with this recipe, and I must say that they turned out super good, and were very kid approved.


1 3/4c water
2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons warm water, let sit for 5 minutes)
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar of choice 
1c unbleached flour
1c whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
pinch of salt 
3 tsp. baking powder (I use reduced sodium)

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients and whisk well.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the wet, and whisk the dry into the wet until it forms a nice smooth batter.  
Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.  
While it is sitting, heat up your waffle iron.
After 10 minutes, scoop about 1/2c of batter (depending on size of waffle iron) onto the waffle iron and close the lid.  Let cook until golden and crispy on the outside.  My waffle iron has an indicator light that lets me know when mine are done.  I found it was about 6-8 minutes.
Remove from iron and serve with fresh fruit or maple syrup.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Keegan's easy French bread

Keegan's easy French bread

My son wanted to make bread with dad, so I decided I needed to write a recipe that was just for him and I.  He was pretty excited that it was a special recipe that I wrote just for him.  
He was very involved in the whole process, and was thrilled to eat it after it was done.  I told him I would name the recipe after him. :)
You could make it with just white flour if you want, I really enjoyed the taste of whole wheat flour cut in.  


1 1/2c unbleached white flour
1c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon raw sugar (or sugar of choice)
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1c very warm water (not too hot, but hotter than luke warm)

Preheat your oven by turning it to 180* and let it warm up for about 2 minutes, then shut it off.  Don't open the door.

In a mixing bowl (or stand mixer if you have it) combine the first 5 ingredients.  With a wire whisk, mix all the dry ingredients well.  With the kneading attachment attached, start the mixer and slowly add the very warm water.  Mix until it forms a dough.  When it has formed a dough ball, turn the mixer up and knead for 3 minutes. (you can do this by hand also.  If you do it by hand, mix the water in, stir until you get a nice dough, then mix with hands until a dough ball is formed.  Then remove onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes).  
When you are done kneading, put into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Put into your warm oven and let rise for 30-35 minutes.  While it is rising, clean up your mess! :)  
After the dough has doubled, remove from oven and punch down.  On a lightly floured surface, press the dough down until it forms a rectangle shape (about a 6x12 inch)  I like to cut the edges to make it pretty.  From the end closest to you, roll up loosely so it forms a nice log.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone pad.  With a very sharp knife, slice some slats in the top (5 or 6).  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place on top of stove to rise for 20 minutes.
While the bread is rising again, preheat the oven to 400*.  
After 20 minutes, remove the towel and carefully brush the top with water or I used the liquid from a can of chickpeas.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, or maybe some oats.  
Place in oven carefully and bake for 20-23 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and place loaf on a cooling rack to cool.
Get creative with this recipe.  You could add seeds on top, or even to the mix.  Most of all, Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Creamy mushroom cauliflower soup

 Creamy mushroom cauliflower soup

There are many recipes out there for vegan/plant based mushroom soup.  I thought it would be fun to make my own though, mainly to see if I could.  I was at work last night and decided to write this recipe.  I tried it when I woke up this afternoon and I am so happy with it.  It is thick and creamy, and a good base for additions.  One addition I am going to try, is adding two cups of cooked wild rice.  I think it would make a wonderful contributor to this soup.

Before you begin, you will need to soak some raw, unsalted cashews.  You are going to blend this into a cashew cream.
1 1/3 c unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, overnight is even better
1c water
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and broken down into medium florets
1T chopped garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 T mushroom powder (see notes to make)
5c veggie or mushroom stock
1 lbs of sliced mushrooms.  I use 8oz. button and 8oz. of cremini, but any combination will do.

Preheat oven to 400*

In a large stock pot, combine the cauliflower, spices and mushroom powder with 5c of stock.  Stir well and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  When it comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until cauliflower is very tender. 
While the cauliflower is cooking, bake the mushrooms.  Place all the cleaned mushrooms on a lined baking sheet, I use a silicone pad, but you can use parchment too.  Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their juice.
When they are done, remove from oven.
When the cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat and let cool just a bit.
While the mushrooms and soup are cooling a bit, lets make some cashew cream.  Drain and rinse the cashews, and pour into a high speed blender.  Add 1c water and blend on high until smooth and thick.  You may need to scrape down the sides.  Set aside.
When the cauliflower and liquid have cooled a bit, blend in the pot with an immersion blender until very smooth.  Add the mushrooms and any juice that may be with them, and stir well.  Place back on the stove over medium heat, add the cashew cream and stir well.  Do not boil, just heat up, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and if you are adding cooked rice, add now.  Stir one more time and serve.  

Note:  To make mushroom powder, just purchase some dried shiitake mushrooms, usually available in the Asian stores or Asian section of most grocery stores.  Place in a coffee grinder or a high speed blender and blend until a fine powder forms.  Store in an air tight zip bag or glass jar.  You can use for soup bases, in veggie burgers etc.