E2 Week: BBQ Pizza

I will say that someone thinking they want to try the Engine 2 Diet should carefully examine if they like bell peppers. Because I’m pretty sure bell peppers figure into every single meal, in varying amounts. I’m not super fond of them myself, but on this pizza they were fantastic. I think the trick is to make those really fine slices, so the flavor isn’t so intense.

I learned two things from making this pizza: 1) mixing tomato paste with BBQ sauce makes the best pizza sauce EVER. EVER. I think I’m going to make all of my pizza sauces tomato paste based. 2) You can totally make pizza crust out of sweet potatoes. That’s right, sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust (enough for 1 large pizza):

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 4 T applesauce
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 T unmilk

Mix all of the wet ingredient except the unmilk in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, add the salt, baking powder, flour and cornmeal, and stir until barely combined. Now, douse it with the unmilk, adding more if it seems too dry.

This is the trickier part–getting it spread out into dough. I’m still not sure my technique is awesome, but here’s what I did: I put a sheet of parchment paper over my pizza pan (you can use a cookie sheet, don’t worry), plopped the dough in the middle, then placed another sheet of parchment paper over that. Then, using my hands, I spread the dough around until it was flat and reached the edges of my pan. However, this did result in some areas being not as thick as others. I think in the future I’ll strategically place the dough so that I can get a more uniform crust. Also, if you can, flip it over. The bottom parchment was very wrinkly, where the top was smooth. So–smooth out both sides.

Then, parbake the crust in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. It shouldn’t be all the way cooked, but should peel easily off of the parchment when finished.Here was my mistake number 2: I think I should have greased the pan, and peeled off both sheets of parchment before putting the toppings on. I left the bottom sheet of parchment paper on, and the crust came out slightly damp, and not as firm on the bottom as I would have liked. Either that, or I could have placed the crust on the bottom of the oven (in the pan, of course) like Vegan with a Vengeance recommends. So, that part is up to you.

The best part is that you end up with a very healthy crust with no added oil, but with some delicious fat from the flax seeds. And it tasted perfect with the BBQ sauce topping. I might use something like actual potato if I didn’t want a sweet crust for my pizza, or even a rutabaga. I’ll let you know about those experiments as they progress!

E2 Week: Sweet Potato Bowl

You have to admit, even if this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet didn’t taste good, it looks beautiful. Also, I got to eat an entire half of an avocado! I haven’t had that much avocado in one sitting in ages…so good. I partially decided to make this because it sounded so strange. Mango? Sweet potato? Balsamic Vinegar? Lime juice? Cilantro? It was a weird mishmash of different textures and tastes–mostly sweet and sour–that ended up working really well together. The only problem–too much cilantro. Normally I love the stuff, but it fought with the other flavors. Still–for a dish with no seasoning–this was amazingly flavorful. I’d for sure make it again, but I’d cut back on the pepper (so much bell pepper!) and, of course, the cilantro. Nice job, E2!

 

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

These may, in fact, taste better than they look. Is that even possible?

From the November issue of Vegetarian Times (who lately can do no wrong) come the most amazing cinnamon rolls! They’re like a magical hybrid of all things delicious: maple, cinnamon, pecans, sweet potatoes…and sugar. SUGAR.

Were I to make these again (and I WILL) I found that using vegan cream cheese to make the icing didn’t add to the flavor much, but did add naughty naughty transfats. I think I’d just try to make a thinner icing with almond milk, or even mix it up with some sweet potato to get even more sweet potato flavor.

Okay, two changes: the dough was a little tough to work with. I’m not sure why, but I think it needed a little more liquid, or more something. I like the feel of the Vegan Brunch dough better, so I’d probably hybridize between those two recipes. When all was said and done, the rolls themselves weren’t tough, so…who knows?

What I do know is that I have about 5 of these bad boys in my freezer right now! LUCKY!

Chorizo Stuffing

This is Happy Herbivore’s Chorizo Stuffing (and a little sweet potato in the background. Hi, you!). I made this from UBER SCRATCH. That means I made both the cornbread and the bread. And of course the chorizo, which I make using TVP, not quinoa. My husband won’t eat quinoa, because he likes to make me sad. What kind of vegan doesn’t eat quinoa? Me. *pouty face*

Like all stuffing, this tastes better the second day, too. It would probably also taste better if I had bothered to cook both of my breads all the way through–so this was a little on the dense-and-doughy side. I will still make it again–and I think it would be great filling for something else. A stuff squash of some sort? A stuffed roasted bell pepper? I think you see where I’m going here. Stuff this stuffing into some stuff.

 

 

Sweet Potato Pizza

Did you know you can use sweet potatoes as sauce? You can, and you should.

I accidentally invented this, because I was too lazy to make pizza sauce. I ran out of the big batch I had in the freezer, and just wanted something simple for dinner. I’d already planned to put sliced sweet potato on the pizza, and then a genius idea came into my head: just use it as the sauce!

I layered on the teese (good grief, that stuff is amazing), caramelized onions, garlic, fake bacon (facon), and sprinkled on a little parsley for color. Dinner is served.

Here are the steps you’ll need to make it–

Sweet Potato Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 sweet potato (of average size–about as big as two fists)
  • 1 tsp earth balance (or something buttery tasting)
  • 1/4 cup unmilk
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • dash of rubbed sage, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg

Wrap your sweet potato in foil and bake in an oven (or toaster oven) for an hour at 425 degrees. When it’s done the potato should be very soft and the peel should come right off. Mash the potato with the spices, nutritional yeast, and earth balance. Gradually add the unmilk until you have it at a saucy consistency (thinner than mashed potatoes, but not runny like a liquid). If you accidentally add too much unmilk, add a little more nutritional yeast until you get it to where you want it to be.

Now, make your caramelized onions. You can follow the link above, or you can make them this even easier way:

  • 2 regular vidalia onions, sliced into half-moons
  • 4 cloves of garlic

Put all of the onion and garlic in your cast iron (or other, boo) skillet and heat at low. Put in a few tablespoons of water, and cover closely with foil. Now, periodically check on them for 15 minutes, adding water as needed so they don’t burn. At 15 mins, spray with a little cooking spray, and continue to cook until the onions brown, once again adding water as needed. They are slightly less flavorful when you cook them this way, but since there are lots of other ingredients going on the pizza, they don’t necessarily need to stand out as much. Anyway, take your pick of recipes.

Assemble the pizza:

  • 1/2 recipe of pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance
  • Your sweet potato sauce
  • 1/3 cup of mozzarella-style teese
  • 2 T of bacon bits from the Happy Herbivore
  • 2 T fresh parsley, minced
  • Caramelized onions and garlic

Stretch your pizza dough as much as you can, in the best circle you can get it. Put the dough on your pizza pan, making sure to apply cooking spray and cornmeal to the pan. Spread your sweet potato sauce in a smooth even layer–it shouldn’t be super thick or super thin. Next, add on the teese, then the onions and garlic. Place in a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pizza and place on the very bottom of the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the bottom crust gets a little crispy. Now, remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle on the bacon bits. Return to the oven and let them crisp, keeping a close eye that they don’t burn. When the pizza is finished, take it out of the oven and sprinkle with your minced parsley.

I put salt and pepper on my slices before I ate them, which was really terrific. My husband put hot sauce on his (of course) and he loved that, too. God bless teese, I think I may love it more than daiya. I feel weird saying that.

*Update!* You should totally put a little BBQ sauce on this. You can thank me later.

Breakfast Sampler

I had some leftover tofu, leftover onion, leftover sweet potato…and some experimental sausage. This is what happened:

I made the basic tofu scramble from Vegan Brunch, but I halved the amount of cumin, and replaced it with onion powder. Gentle reader, do not do as I did. Let this be my word of caution to you: it will be bland. Oh, yes, so bland. Use all the cumin, even if you think it’s too strong. Yikes!

The sausage was Gimme Lean. I’ve been trying to think up a meatless alternative to the breakfast sandwiches I make for my husband, and I wasn’t sure if I was up to making breakfast sausage patties myself. I’ll say this–it does taste JUST like sausage. The texture is ever-so-slightly off, but come on. How close do you need it to be? The price at our grocery store is the only hard part: $5.88. Sheesh! So, I think I’m going to glance lovingly over the internet and see if I can’t figure out how to make something like this on my own. Any suggestions?

As for the sweet potatoes–those were my great triumph!

Sweet Potatoes & Onions (serves 2):

  • 1 largish sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Prepare a steamer for the sweet potato, and steam those chunks! They should be ready in 10 mins, or when easily pierced by a fork. When cool enough to touch, mix all the ingredients together with your hands (I like to do this directly on the baking sheet). Bake at 400 degrees until everything looks a little browned (probably about 10 to 15 mins, but check on it). Could this be any simpler? But it tasted SO GOOD. I usually really sweeten up my sweet potatoes, so it was nice to get a little hint of the savory.

Chorizo, Grits & Sweet Potato Biscuits

Oh, man, was this breakfast spicy. I actually couldn’t finish all of it, because my mouth was burning a little. I have to admit, that was slightly my fault, as I decided to take the extra step of dousing my already fiery chorizo with hot sauce. Still, tasty tasty. The chorizo had that distinct seitan flavor, which can be off-putting if you aren’t really used to it. But the texture was great–soft and squishy but not greasy. And the flavors were there, though I think most of the chorizo I’ve had had more of a kick to it. I’ll work on that.

Grits! I could write a love song to grits. Look at them, all fluffy yellow. The garlic (6 cloves!) was perfectly mellow, and the jalapeños weren’t too spicy. I did forget to add the salt while cooking, but just sprinkling it on at the end worked out perfectly. I also added more than the two tablespoons of nooch, because I freaking love that stuff. How could anything as weird as nutritional yeast taste that good? It looks like fish food. Ooh, I love it.

I’ve made the sweet potato biscuits about a million times, but this time I used whole white wheat flour. I bought a bag of it, thinking it was white flour, and now I’m trying to use it all up. I hate the texture of it. It’s very heavy and coarse, and everything I bake with it comes out grainy. So I mostly just use it for stuff like this, when I’m making a side dish and don’t really care if it’s perfect or not.

Recipes for sausages and grits are from Vegan Brunch, and the biscuits are in Appetite for Reduction.