These Baked Zucchini Fries have started making a regular appearance on our family’s menu . When they cook, the zucchini gets soft and almost buttery, but the outside creates a crunchy shell. It’s a little like biting into a nutty chocolate truffle. You have to bite down with a little force to get through the crunchy exterior and then your mouth gets a surprise as your teeth quickly sink into the pillowy soft middle.
Sorry if I just took you from craving zucchini to craving chocolate in one paragraph. Come back! You won’t be disappointed. In fact, I’d pick a box of zucchini fries over a box of chocolate truffles any day. Unlike a box of chocolates, I know exactly what I’ll get in each bite…and it’s delicious.
I like serving them instead of garlic bread on pasta night. The bread coating gives you a little carb crunch, but unlike garlic bread, it also sneaks in a serving of veggies. I also paired them with The Gluten-Free Vegan’s Falafel recipe. I don’t recommend making both on one night, as that would be a labor intensive evening, but the falafel freeze wonderfully and can re-heat right in the oven with the zucchini fries.
Baked Zucchini Fries
I didn’t do exact measurements here. You can do as few as one zucchini or as many as you want. I usually do three to four for our family of three. Simply refill your dredging station as you run out. If you can’t fit them all on one pan, add another pan and bake at the same time.
Zucchini Squash (cut like steak fries) (Yellow squash works too)
Olive Oil Baking Spray
Unsweetened Almond Milk (or your choice of milk)
Panko Bread Crumbs
Smoked Paprika (or regular paprika)
Italian Seasoning (you could also use a steak seasoning or any other favorite spice blend)
1.Preheat oven to 400.
2. Line cut squash on a bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
4. Make dredging station: Put flour in a bowl, milk in a bowl, and bread crumbs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and Italian seasoning into the bread crumbs (about 1/2 teaspoon each seasoning to 1 cup of bread crumbs).
5. Pat the zucchini dry.
6. Dredge: Dip them one or two at a time into the flour. Tap off excess flour. Dip into milk. Dip into bread crumbs. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until all zucchini are dredged.
7. Spray zucchini generously with olive oil baking spray.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until coating is crispy and brown and the inside is soft and buttery.
People often ask me how I cook with Jackson around. In We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, I wrote about how cooking with him was kind of like cooking on an obstacle course. For a long time, that was what it felt like. But recently, I realized at this stage–the two’s–cooking with him is one of the easiest things on my to-do list to accomplish with him around. Not easy…but it’s something he’s come to feel at ease around. It’s kind of “our” thing.
I left him with a friend the other day for a few minutes and when I returned she shared this little conversation they had.
Sarah: Do you have a dog?
Jackson: No, I have a mommy.
Sarah: Oh, well that’s almost as good as a dog.
Jackson: Yeth, I cook with mommy.
Well, there you have it. Dogs don’t make very good cooking companions for kids, but mommies are very good for that.
My other to-dos don’t have the same smiley affect on him. Writing with him around. Yeah right. Phone calls. Let’s just say, the last conference call I was on with our editor, I had to muffle the phone while I hollered, “Jackson, don’t stick your head through the fence” and then again while he hollered, “Noooooo! Don’t wipe meeee!” as I was trying to discreetly potty train mid-call.
Cooking is mostly a piece of cake…because he can participate, he can be a helper. And even when he can’t help with something like chopping onions, he’s still content because we’re together and I’m talking to him, not somebody else on the phone or looking at a computer screen.
And with a little creativity, there’s almost always a way to get a child involved in the cooking if they want to be.
I don’t cook every day, but the days I do, the moments we are in the kitchen together, are often the moments we enjoy the most. The kitchen is a place where our lives intersect, where my almost 30-year old female joys and interests cross with my two-year old little boy’s interests. I don’t have to pretend that the lego tower we just built is the tallest most amazing piece of architecture I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t have to be patient with me as I make a quick call or pick up groceries. The smells of cloves and cinnamon, the colorful block puzzle from butternut squash, the sound of the blender engine purring excite us both. We don’t have to pretend. We just have to be. Together.
Roasted Butternut Squash Mole Enchiladas
5 cups diced butternut squash
1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, grapeseed)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8-10 corn tortillas
1/2 cup raisins, soaked for 10 minutes in warm water and drained (optional)
2 cups Mole Sauce (I used this easy recipe from Vegetarian Times)*
Preheat oven to 400. Toss butternut sqaush with canola oil, brown sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Resist temptation to eat all the squash now.
Reduce oven temp to 350. Ladle 1/2 cup mole sauce into bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds, just enough to warm them up and make them pliable. Dip corn tortilla into mole sauce. Fill with about two tablespoons of butternut squash and a sprinkle of raisins. Roll up. Repeat. Ladle a generous amount of sauce on top. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Serve with black or wild rice. The nuttiness from the black rice went perfectly with this dish.
*I blended half of the sauce this time. I think I’d leave it unblended next time though, because it was a lot prettier unblended.
Jackson is 22 months old now and at that stage where he’s learning new words every day and starting to string together words to make phrases and sentences like these:
“Hoo Hoo” (Whoohoo whith his hands thrown in the air.)
“Cool man” (I don’t know where he picked up this phrase, but it’s super cute.)
“Yayyy, I did it!” (Even if he didn’t actually do whatever IT is, he celebrates every little effort with such enthusiasm. It’s contagious.)
“Leeeeeet’s GO!” (That combined with “Run momma” is turning him into a little personal trainer!)
“Yes.” (Finally, he is saying “yes,” instead of always “no,” in the most adorably assertive and confident way.)
Of course, with this precious phase, also comes the less than adorable phrases, like “Chur turn” (Your turn…which actually means my turn. And it’s always “chur turn”) and “Miiiine!”
My favorite phrase of late, though, is “Tank choo ma ma.” He emphasizes each syllable and I can tell he really has to work to say it. It’s a sweet labor of love and it’s reserved for his truly most satisfying moments of deep gratitude, like when I served him chocolate “ice cream” made of bananas and cocoa for a morning snack last week. “Choc! Tank choo ma ma!”
This idea for banana soft serve has been circulating for years. It’s not new, but I’ve turned a few people toward it this week with my Instagram picture of Jackson enjoying his morning ice cream treat and thought maybe some of our readers have yet to try it as well. The basic recipe is just frozen bananas processed in a blender. It’s magical! The bananas just whip right into a thick creamy soft serve that is delicious on it’s own. You can make all sorts of flavors: chocolate peanut butter, strawberry banana, cinnamon and sugar…wherever your taste buds take you. This version is one of my favorites. You can use peanut butter instead of peanuts, but I really love the texture and flavor from the whole peanuts.
Ready in under five minutes, it makes the perfect healthy summer snack, or even breakfast. You’ll earn some serious cool mom or dad points putting a bowl of this in front of your kids first thing in the morning!
Banana Nut Soft Serve
2 frozen bananas, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons peanuts (I used organic unsalted)
sprinkle of sea salt (unless peanuts are salted)
Put ingredients in a food processor and blend, stopping and scraping the sides as needed until it turns to the texture of a thick soft serve ice cream. Then stop. You don’t want to over blend or it will have more of a melty soft serve texture (not bad, but not as good either).
For this portion size, I use the smallest bowl on my food processor so I don’t have to stop and scrape the sides as often. (It will be very loud at first, that’s okay, just be prepared.)
Serve immediately with a few extra peanuts and another sprinkle of sea salt on top for some extra crunch. I’ve heard this does not refreeze well, though I’ve never had any left to try. 🙂 You can buy yourself a little time keeping it chilled in the freezer, but it’s best to serve right away.
Have you made Banana Soft Serve?
What are your favorite flavor combinations?
What are your favorite toddler phrases and phases?
Zondervan, our publisher, has been so supportive of our book (coming out August 6). We’re having such a great publishing experience! They just decided to do an audio version of We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and invited my mom and I to record it. One of us will be recording in the studio most of the week, each of us having two 5-7 hour days in studio. Prayers for good health appreciated. The following week I’m heading to Colorado (with Jackson in tow) to join mom for a photo shoot for a major Christian publication. We’re so grateful for all the encouragement and support we’ve received…and for our fabulous readers at the blog.
We also got all of the endorsements in for the book. Wow! We are floored by the generosity of our fellow authors. Click on the picture of the book above to read the endorsements and find lots of knew authors to friend and follow.
(Rachel, the daughter)
Jared, Jackson and I went to the Texas State Veggie Fair this weekend. I’m a terrible blogger and didn’t take any pictures of my food. I blame my hungry toddler. We scoped out all the food trucks and booths and contemplated fresh squeezed juice or mac-n-cheese and a barbeque sandwich, but our eyes kept venturing to the long line behind the Corn Dogs and Fried Cinnamon Rolls. When in Rome, right? What’s a fair without fried food? I stood in the 20 minute line while Jared took Jackson to play on the playground.
Finally, I returned to my boys juggling two corn dogs, a fried cinnamon roll and a handcrafted root beer. We sat on the lawn and indulged. If you’re having trouble imagining how good it was, here’s Jackson’s face after his first bite of fried fair food.
I think this picture says it all. Yum.
That deep fried cinnamon roll was worth every glorious calorie, but as soon as I got home, I whipped up a big kale salad for dinner. My body felt like it was shutting down from all the grease, sugar, and processed fake-meat products I had consumed. Sometimes you just have to give your body what it wants and then deal with the consequences.
For months after going vegan, I continued to crave eggs. I couldn’t get them off my mind. One night, after a wedding with nothing vegan on the menu, we went with some friends to a bar with a midnight breakfast burrito buffet. I was so hungry and finally caved and ate an egg and potato breakfast burrito. My stomach was in knots for two days, proving wrong the myth that if we are craving something our body must need it.
Lucky for me, I finally discovered a breakfast burrito that satisfied my craving for eggs without sacrificing my vegan diet or my stomach lining. Tofu scramble looks and feels just like pale scrambled eggs and with a little seasoning tastes eerily similar. Jared has been nagging me to make this all week. It’s truly crave-worthy. If you’re curious about tofu or have had bad experiences with it before, try out tofu scramble.
Tofu Scramble Tacos
2-4 T. Olive Oil
2 small red potatoes, diced (or any veggies of your your choice — onions, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini…)
1 clove of garlic, minced or chopped
1/2 c. frozen corn
1/2 block of tofu
1 t. salt (divided)
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. onion powder
2 c. baby spinach
8 tortillas (I really like the new Artisan Corn & Whole Wheat Blend by Mission)
16 oz Black Beans
1 avocado, sliced or diced (optional garnish)
salsa (optional garnish)
cilantro (optional garnish)
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet, use enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Pan-fry potatoes (or any other veggies) with 1/2 t of salt on medium heat until they are tender, stirring often. I covered the potatoes to help them cook quicker, other veggies may not need to be covered though. Bring heat down and add the garlic. Stir continuously to keep garlic from burning.
As soon as the garlic is translucent, crumble the tofu into the pan (just squish it up in your hands and break into little crumbles). Add smoked paprika, onion powder, pepper, and remaining salt. Return heat to medium and stir and cook for about five minutes. Add corn and cook until corn is heated through ( a few more minutes). Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted.
Serve in tortillas with black beans, avocados, cilantro, and salsa.
(Becky, the Mama.)
I went to visit my daughter Rachel in September, just as the days began to cool with the promise of Fall. Though, in Texas where she lives, this means the temperatures were in the low 90’s rather than over 100. .
Still, every Starbucks on our route from Denver to Oklahoma to Texas was advertising their famous Pumpkin Spice Lattes which always puts me in the mood anything made of pumpkin, ginger and cinnamon. I know that by January 1, I’ll be declaring, “I never want to see another pumpkin as long as I live,” because I will have overdone the nonstop parade of pumpkin lattes, breads, muffins, waffles, cookies and pies through the holidays.
But for now, I can’t seem to get enough of the plump orange gourds. I created this vegan pumpkin mousse pie for the Two Texas Rachels in my life (My daughter and my sister) with a crust of crushed gingersnaps and salted roasted almonds, a filling of whipped coconut cream, canned pumpkin and spices.
May I just say, ever so humbly, this may be my favorite of all pumpkin desserts? Ever.
I make an amazing traditional pumpkin pie, which I thought was the best pumpkin dessert in the universe, and I promise to share that recipe on this blog before Thanksgiving. But I like this pie even better. It needs to be served very cold, and when you do that, it slices like a dream – like chiffon mousse, like a cloud made of pumpkin.
I love it when a plan comes together. And I love it even more when I can create a recipe that people with special dietary needs can enjoy alongside everyone else. This recipe has no eggs or milk. If you use gluten-free cookies, your gluten-free guests can also dig in without worry.
Update from Thanksgiving 2013: Served this pie to a big family gathering. Off all the desserts on the table, this one disappeared first and was voted the best — and most of those in attendance were not vegan or on special diets.
Luscious Pumpkin Mousse Pie (Vegan)
1 16 oz. can chilled can of coconut milk, cream only (Thai Kitchen full fat ORGANIC brand always separates and works well for whipping. When I see it, usually at Whole Foods, I buy a few cans and keep them in the fridge. If in a hurry you can pop a can in the freezer for a couple of hours.) You want to have at least 2/3 cup of the cream (which will look like Crisco shortening when you remove it from the can), and more if there’s more in the can.
1 1/2 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. ginger
¾ t. salt
¼ c. brown sugar (or coconut sugar) (more if you prefer it a bit sweeter, do a taste test)
2 T. maple syrup
16 Gingersnap cookies (or crumbs to equal 1 c.)
1 T. sugar
1/3 c. roasted whole almonds
3 T. Earth Balance butter (or regular butter if you aren’t vegan)
Whip the coconut cream in a mixer until light and smooth.
Add pumpkin, spices, brown sugar and maple syrup.
Microwave butter until melted in an 8 inch glass pie pan. (You can use a 9 inch pan but the pie will not be as thick.)
Put cookies, almonds and sugar in a blender or food processor and blend until they approximately as fine as graham cracker crumbs. Reserve 2 T. for garnish. Add cookie/almond mixture to melted butter in the pan, mixing with a fork until the crumb mixture is evenly moistened with butter. Using the back of a spoon, create a pie crust shell in the pan. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely before filling.
Using a large spoon, gently spoon pumpkin-coconut mixture into the shell. Smooth the top. Sprinkle with bit more cinnamon. Swirl gently with a knife. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least two hours before cutting and serving.
Hint: This is best served the same day as it is made, as the crust is crunchiest then.
Optional Additional Garnish: ¼ c candied ginger, ground in blender to texture of course salt; 3 T. toasted pumpkin seeds
Variations: Rather than make a pie, you can make individual mousse desserts by alternating layers of pumpkin filling with crumbs and candied ginger bits.
Use chocolate or lemon cookies instead of gingersnap cookies if you prefer.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Luscious Pumpkin Mousse Pie (Vegan)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Jf
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
(Becky, the Mama.)
About a year and a half ago my daughter Rachel was in town, pregnant, and craving Tomato Basil Soup. The trick was to find a place that served a vegan version so she could indulge but still avoid dairy or meat-based broth. I think we drove to three restaurants before we finally found the place that served the soup she had in mind. And yes, she and her unborn child were absolutely worth it. But I determined that day to come up with a creamy vegan version of Tomato Basil Soup that we could make at home.
I, too, adore Tomato Basil Soup, especially the thick creamy version served at La Madeleine’s, a favorite French chain restaurant in the Dallas area. Alas, it is loaded with cream and butter and thus, with calories. The problem with trying to make any tomato-based soup with milk instead of cream (to cut calories), is that the acid in the tomatoes curdles the milk yielding a yucky mess you’ll have to sigh heavily about, just before you put it down the disposal. (Ask me how I know this.)
So I experimented with a can of coconut milk in place of cream and butter. Perfection. You really can’t taste the coconut flavor at all; it fades to neutral when paired with the strong tastes of the ingredients in the rest of the recipe. Even if you use the full fat can of coconut milk, this soup only about a 100 calories a cup. But you will not believe it when you taste it! On top of being delicious and easy, it is also vegan-friendly and nutritious. Pretty much the Perfect Recipe to keep in your Go-To Classic Recipes file.
I threw this soup together for a friend who dropped by unexpectedly for lunch one day, and she swore it was the best soup she’d ever tasted. Could not believe I whipped it up in just a few minutes. Plus it was ready to serve by the time our grilled cheese sandwiches came off the stovetop.
P.S. I hurriedly planted basil in a big pot on the porch this summer and it is still yielding oodles of leaves, which I used in this recipe. Greg spent a full day, in June, putting together three Topsy Turvy upside down tomato plants (as “Seen on TV”), put them on a fancy planter, then hooked them up to a complicated irrigation system. God bless him, the tomato you see in this picture is the one and ONLY tomato we’ve harvested, picked yesterday. But it sure was a pretty one.
Easy, Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Vegan)
Yields about 10 cups of soup
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (with basil, if you can find it)
1 c. very lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a good generous hand full) — I sometimes use 2 T. of jarred pesto instead of fresh basil if that is all I have on hand
¼ c. onion
2 garlic cloves
3 c. veggie broth (or chicken broth if you aren’t vegetarian and prefer this)
1 can coconut milk (Full fat version makes a creamier soup, but lite will also work. If desired, reserve a little for garnishing soup once it is in a bowl. You’ll find cans of coconut milk in the Asian section of almost all grocery stores now.) Note: You can also make a the more traditional soup by omitting coconut milk and add 1/2 cup of regular cream, at the very end of cooking the soup
1 ½ t. salt
1 T. sugar (or brown sugar or coconut sugar)
1 t. pepper
Put ½ the can of crushed tomatoes into a blender or food processor. Add basil leaves, onion and garlic. Blend until basil leaves are still individual but tiny specks of green.
Pour this mixture into a soup pot. Add the rest of the can of tomatoes, veggie broth, coconut milk, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Check to see if it needs more salt. Serve in bowls, and garnish if desired with a “squiggle” of reserved coconut cream.