Friday, November 14, 2014

Creamy Italian Stuffed Summer Squash

Ok, so technically summer ended a while ago, but I had this HUGE squash from my mom's garden that needed to be eaten and I also had a craving for something Italian.  Plus it's never a bad thing to reminisce about how warm and cozy the world used to be before winter came along (For those of you who don't know, there are only two seasons in Utah, winter and summer).  The only problem; how does one make something Italian with no garlic, no onion, no tomatoes, no pasta, and no dairy?  Due to my daughter's allergies, pretty much every ingredient that makes Italian food amazing was out.  I also had to make the recipe corn free as if this wasn't going to be a big enough challenge on its own. 
I was determined to overcome this challenge, however, since I really want to have more meals that both taste good to me and agree with my daughter's allergies.  Currently the list of meals that meet both those requirements is quite short.

Despite it's lack of many things that make great Italian food, this stuffed squash doesn't disappoint.  I kept the ingredient list short so as not to overcomplicate things.  I was actually surprised by how much flavor I was able to pack into this dish with just a few ingredients.  It's savory, but not overwhelming, which makes it the perfect dish for someone who is sensitive to strong flavors or who has allergies to garlic and onions.  Unfortunately my daughter didn't care much for it, but I feel like it's progress nonetheless.   I wasn't sure if I could learn to cook without garlic and onions.  To be honest, most of my garlic and onion free recipes still come out tasting not quite right, but I now know that if I put some serious thought into it, I can make good things happen.

Creamy Italian Stuffed Summer Squash
½ cup uncooked millet
1 pound ground pork or chicken
½ Tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 large yellow squash or 2-3 small squash
1 cup mushrooms
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon Tahini
Salt to taste
Vegan Cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a medium saucepan, roast the millet over medium heat until it begins to pop and turn golden brown.  Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Try to resist the urge to lift the lid.  The millet will cook up fluffier if you leave it alone.  You can also add a little oil to the boiling water if you wish but it isn't absolutely necessary.
  3. While the millet is cooking, combine the pork, vinegar, salt, sugar, and Italian seasoning in a frying pan or skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat until the pork is cooked through.  Drain off any excess grease or liquid.
  4. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and hollow it out using a spoon or ice cream scoop.   Chop the squishy squash insides into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Place the hollowed out squash shells on a baking sheet and set aside.
  5. Chop the mushrooms and add to the pork mixture along with the squash insides. Continue cooking until the squash and mushrooms are tender.
  6. Add the milk, tahini, and cooked millet to the pork mixture.  Cook a few more minutes until the liquid has thickened slightly.  Add salt to taste.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out squash, lightly pack the mixture down as you go.  (I had a lot of extra filling so I piled it as high as I could without it falling all over the pan.)
  8. Sprinkle vegan cheese on top of the stuffed squash (if using).  I thought it tasted great both with and without the cheese.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the tops are slightly browned.  Serve with salad and bread if desired. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kamut Graham Crackers

This recipe came about as sort of a necessity.  There is an Oh She Glows vegan pumpkin pie recipe with graham cracker crust that I've wanted to try for like a year now.  However, when you are a single mom with a 6 month old baby that has multiple food allergies, making such things becomes too much of a hassle.  Now I have a 16 month old who LOVES graham crackers and snacks in general.  In fact, she is getting to the point where she has to have snacks to get through the day.  Usually we just have dried fruit or Arrowhead Mills Kamut puffs, but those get old fast, even for a toddler.  Sometimes as a special treat we have plantain, potato, or lentil chips but those are expensive and are not very fulfilling as snacks.  My daughter is also in daycare now that school is back in session, which means she gets to watch all of the other kids have snacks while she has none.  It only seemed right to expand our snack repertoire. 

 I almost never make snacky stuff because it's all I can do to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table, but when she got a hold of a wheat and corn filled graham cracker at daycare the other day, I figured what the heck; why not make some for her and have some for my vegan pumpkin pie recipe as an added bonus. Win, win!

This recipe worked out quite nicely with the Kamut flour and it's pretty easy to make.  I went from start to putting it in the oven in under 20 minutes which is another win since that's about how long I can keep my daughter from going into hysterics because I'm cooking and not giving all of my undivided attention to her.  It ends up being worth it though because these delightful crackers are 100% kid approved.   

These crackers are mildy sweet with a light, airy crunch and they are healthier than your traditional store bought graham crackers, which is yet another win.  I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure they would also taste great with a glass of non-dairy milk or with some melted chocolate and marshmallows.  I can't wait to try them out on my pumpkin pie recipe.  I'll let you know how that goes.
Kamut Graham Crackers

½ Tablespoon ground flax seed meal
¼ cup coconut oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 ½ Tablespoons water

1 cup Kamut brand flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal, coconut oil, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and water.  Let sit for a few minutes while the flax meal sets.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots.  The dough should be slightly crumbly but should stick together if you mush it with your hands.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil (I didn't have much success with wax paper).
  6. Place another piece of parchment paper or saran wrap on top of the dough and roll the dough out until it is fairly thin (approximately 1/4- 1/8 of an inch).  The baking soda will make it puff up a bit so rolling it thinner will help make the crackers crunchier. 
  7. Cut the crackers into your desired size and shape using a pizza cutter, cookie cutter or pastry slicer and poke a few fork pricks into each cracker.
  8. Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown.  The crackers will be slightly spongy when you first pull them out of the oven but they will crisp up as they cool down.
  9. Store the crackers in an air-tight container or zip lock bag to keep them fresh.

Note: If you prefer not to use coconut oil you can sub another oil, preferably a light oil in its place.  You may need to make some adjustments to cooking time and wet to dry ratio, however, to get the same light crisp that the coconut oil provides.