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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sandwich Stuff - Olive and Pimento Cheese

All dressed up and ready to go!

I'm kind of a sucker for pimento cheese. It's always been a favorite of mine, but the tubs the commercial stuff comes in are either too small or too expensive, although I have been guilty of buying the giant size Prices' Pimento Cheese when I could get it. Hardly anyone sells it or understands pimento cheese up here in the Pacific Northwest, so I have been reduced to making it myself. This is one of my experimental version with which I am pleased.

It's kind of an "all-in" / clean off the cheese shelf kind of versions of this popular (at least in my neck of the woods it's popular) sandwich spread.  Every wedding has to have little triangular tuna sandwiches and little triangular pimento cheese sandwiches, so if you're doing a sandwich supper for the potluck gang, here's the first of several really good sandwich fillers.  I've already given you Sheila's vege-chicken salad. This goes great as a partner on the buffet board.

Ingredients:
  • Medium Cheddar Cheese (more of this than the others - you need that cheddary flavor)
  • Velveeta Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Swiss or American Cheese or whatever other cheesy oddments you have left on the cheese shelf in the fridge. The more the merrier I think.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Green olives (stuffed with pimento)
  • Black Olives
  • More Pimento if you like lots of pimento
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Pineapple (alternative to olives and pimento)
Directions:
  1. Cut up the cheeses into cubes and place them into a food processor with the chopper blade set. Don't fool with the grater attachment. It's messy and unnecessary.
  2. Chop the cheese into chunky bits.
  3. Add a spoon or two of sweet pickle relish and bump the "pulse" button
  4. Add pimento and olives and bump the pulse button until everything is chopped. .
  5. Add Mayonnaise and bump the food processor a few times till it's blended in.
  6. Scrape it all into a nice Tupperware bowl (I like the glass ones best), put the lid on it and you're ready to take it to potluck with your vege-chicken salad.
  7. You can pretty much leave the rest of the recipe the same only leave out the olives, pimentos and pickle relish and substitute pineapple chunks and you have Pineapple Cheese. It is a little more sweet than your usual pimento cheese spread. It's a little different taste, but I really like the pineapple variant of this recipe. Warning! Don't mix pineapple and olives. The chemistry of the two doesn't mix well. I tried it. It's kind of bitter.
Serving Suggestions:

This is really good on those triangular sandwiches all made up in advance or you can just take the tub along and let folks make their own sandwiches with it.  It also makes a nice dip kind of spread to put in the center of your vegetable and chips tray next to the French onion dip. I personally use Wheat Thins or tortilla chips to steal bites of pimento cheese out of the fridge even before we get to potluck.

As soon as I get me a can of Vege-links, I'll post my Vege-Weenie Sandwich Spread. It's really good stuff and makes a nice companion sandwich spread to pimento cheese. Meanwhile fool around with the recipe till it works just the way you wanted to. I knew a lady once who bulked her pimento cheese up with some kind of Jello. Not sure what flavor or whether it was unflavored gelatin, however she did it, it was really good stuff! So experiment yourself and come up with your own secret recipe.

Then don't forget to share it with me.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vege Chicken Wings



This was an experimental dish I tried with some Morningstar Farms Chicken Strips. It's pretty simple and my head chef tasted it and approved, so you know it's good. The MSF strips are pretty small, but you could adapt the recipe to use cut up strips of Fri-Chik or pretty much any other vege-chicken substitutes including both canned or frozen types. The trick is how you prepare it.

Ingredients:
  • Vege-chicken strips or cut into strips
  • Two eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Martha White cornbread mix (no lard in that one)
  • 1/8 cup flour 
  • Pinch of salt (to taste)
  • Vegetable oil
Directions:
  1. If frozen, thaw the chicken strips
  2. In Fry-Daddy or deep pan, heat vegetable oil - enough to cover the strips
  3. Set out two wide flat bowls 
  4. In the first bowl mix two eggs and the milk - stir with a whisk
  5. In the second bowl, pour the box of cornbread mix and flour and salt if desired
  6. Lay out the vege-chicken strips or cut up the vege-chicken pieces into strips 
  7. Set the vege-chicken strips into the egg wash bowl. Coat the pieces evenly with the egg wash. I cover the bowl with a plate and shake it so everything gets covered.
  8. Put the strips into the cornmeal mix and flour mixture and coat the strips evenly.
  9. Place the strips into the hot oil and fry them till they are golden brown. 
  10. Drain the cooked pieces on layers of paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Serving suggestions:

Eat them like you would chicken wings. They make a nice appetizer or part of a snack tray or as a main course. I even got to try out an odd bottle of wing sauce somebody gave me. Hot but tasty. You can also make dipping sauces with those little cups like they give you at the Mexican restaurant. You can buy them four for a buck at the Dollar Store.  They go great with ranch dressing, barbecue sauce (Bull's Eye or KC Masterpiece is the best), sweet and sour sauce or wing sauce.

See, even vegetarians can have fun foods!

© 2017 by Tom King







Monday, June 12, 2017

Vegeburger Marzetti




Vegeburger Marzetti


This recipe comes from Sandy Hancock Weir who comes from my little Adventist college home town - the home of many an excellent vegetarian recipe. I'm going to make this one soon and I'll get back to you on my personal opinion, but in reviewing the ingredients and preparation techniques, I see no way this won't taste absolutely wonderful. Sandy says this one is a family favorite and you can hardly go wrong with someone's family's favorite Adventist potluck recipe. Sandy thoughtfully sent along photos of the stages of the Marzetti-making process. I love Adventists cooks. No one prepares food with more love and enthusiasm. Don't you just love living in America where a Texas Adventist gal of English lineage is an expert cook with an Italian dish as her specialty? Now THAT is how the melting pot works!

Ingredients:
  • 1 Medium onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 can Worthington® Burger
  • 2-14.5 oz can Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes with
  • Rosemary & Oregano or Basil, Garlic & Oregano (I use one of each)
  • 1-2.25 oz can Black Olives - sliced
  • 1-6 oz jar Mushrooms - sliced
  • 3 cups Cooked Barilla® Thin Spaghetti
  • 1-32 oz bag Grated yellow cheese
Directions:
  1. Use a Dutch oven to cook the spaghetti. When done drain and set aside. 
  2. Using the same pan, add the onion and celery and simmer in oil until soft. 
  3. Add burger, tomatoes (and juice), mushrooms, black olives and spaghetti. 
  4. Fold mixture together until well mixed. 
  5. Spoon ½ of mixture in a large baking dish and cover with a layer of grated yellow cheese. 
  6. Pour remaining mixture over cheese and top with another layer of cheese. 
  7. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. 
  8. Let sit for 5-10 minutes after you take it out of the oven to let the cheese harden. It is hard to get out of the dish otherwise.
Serving Suggestion:

Serve with a salad, Italian dressing, garlic toast or French bread, and a drink.
Serves 12-15 at potluck - (Less if served at home, and using larger portions)

©  2017 by and with thanks to Sandy Wier, San Antonio, TX for the recipe. 





















Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pizza Ring



Here's a kind of spectacular dish that looks really good on the potluck table.  It's not terribly hard to make and just requires a few basic ingredients and some very simple tools.  I've included a link to a video showing a version being prepared. The one I did is healthier and lacto-ovo vegetarian. Really it's just a pizza crust wrapped around some tasty stuff in the middle. Here's how it goes.

Ingredients:
  • Pizza crust  (Here's the basic recipe - I use 1 1/2 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour in my variant of the dough recipe).  If you've got a stand mixer with a dough hook, it's really easy. You don't have to let the dough rise.
  • 1 pkg. - Cream cheese (I like Neufchatel myself)
  • 1/2 pkg - Morning Star Farms Vege-Steak Strips®
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper chopped or cut in strips
  • 1/2 large sweet onion chopped or cut in strips
  • 1/2 jar pizza sauce
  • 1 cup Mozarella (vary according to your taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Cheese sauce or your favorite marinara
Directions:
Ready for the oven

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Roll out pizza dough on pizza pan or stone
  3. Cut three 4 inch cuts in the center of the dough with a pizza cutter. The three cuts should cross at the center and make six wedge shapes with the points at the center.
  4. Place a dollop of cream cheese in each of the wedges halfway between the center and the edge of the dough. Spread it with a spoon or spatula to make a ring of cream cheese.
  5. In a skillet, brown the vege-steak strips and spread evenly over the cream cheese circle.
  6. Caramelize the onions and peppers on low heat in the skillet and then spread them over the vege-steak and cream cheese evenly around the circle.
  7. Spread pizza sauce lightly over the top of the mixture around the ring.
  8. Cover the ring of filling with mozzarella cheese.
  9. Fold the outside edge of the dough up over the filling and let the dough make a large flute opposite the base of each center cut. 
  10. Lift the tips of the inner wedges as shown in the video up and over the outside dough and press into the dough. Press the flutes down against the wedges to help hold the ring together firmly.
  11. Make an egg wash with an egg and milk. Whisk till smooth, then spread the egg wash over the top of the dough to give in that golden brown color you want.
  12. Bake 20 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden color.
  13. Make up the cheese or marinara sauce you like best.
Serving suggestions:

It's a ring. Put something in the middle. Serve it on the pizza pan or a pizza stone. Place a bowl with a nice sauce in the center as shown above.  It can be reheated, but I wouldn't recommend the microwave for the job or the dough gets rubbery.  Provide guests a sharp knife for cutting a slice of the ring and a spoon for the sauce. 

The pizza ring is pretty impressive for the work involved, and it's tasty too and, of course, we don't make this kind of thing to show off at church potluck.  Do we?

Click on this link to see a video of how this is made. I changed the recipe some to suit me, but once you see the basic steps you can easily adapt it to your personal tastes.

© 2017 by Tom King

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wilted Spinach Salad




Here's an old fashioned recipe with fresh spinach, boiled eggs and a vegetarian substitute for bacon drippings. Worthington Stripples or Morning Star Veggie-Breakfast Bacon Strips and the oil you cook them in make an excellent substitute for bacon drippings such as our grandmothers used in their "salad".  It can be partially prepared the previous day and all you need is to heat up the dressing just before serving. It's actually quite good and an unusual salad for potluck.  

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups spinach, washed, drained very well and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced green onion
  • 3 hardboiled egg, coarsely chopped
  • 5 slices Stripples, cooked and chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup red vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
Directions

  1. Combine spinach, onions and eggs in a large salad bowl.
  2. Cook Stripples/Breakfast Strips in skillet until crispy; remove and drain on paper towels.
  3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of oil you cooked the Stripples in.
  4. Add vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the oil and heat to boiling, while stirring to blend evenly.
  5. When ready to serve, pour over spinach mixture and toss gently.
  6. Sprinkle salad with Stripple/breakfast strip crumbles. 
Serving Suggestions:

Put the eggs, fresh spinach and green onions in a large Tupperware bowl and seal it up.  Set aside the cooked vege-bacon and go ahead and boil the sauce. Set it aside in a small sealed container. When you get to potluck, open up the greens, heat the sauce in the microwave until warm and pour it over the greens, onions and eggs mix. Crumble the crisp vegebacon over top of the salad and serve.

It's actually quite good and worth the effort of doing the last minute prep work.

© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ten Layer Mushroom Lasagna



You could call this a "Dump" Lasagna, as it is made with a lot of stuff I had lying around the house and is loosely adapted from a Campbell Soup label recipe. It's actually pretty good right out of the oven and probably will taste better after it sits overnight in the fridge and is reheated. If you are not a mushroom fan, there are plenty of ways to substitute the elements of this recipe (see "Variations" below). It's not as hard to make as you think and doesn't take very long to put together. And most of us vegetarian cooks have most of this stuff already in our pantries.

First three layers - noodles, cottage cheese and sauce
This recipe is an equal opportunity offender. The recipe uses milk, mozzarella, provolone, and cottage cheeses (which upsets the anti-dairy Vegans), pasta with gluten (which sends the anti-gluten crowd into low Earth orbit), and sets off the anti-mushroom folk with it's use of mushrooms and mushroom soup (which sets off the anti-salt faction). It uses vegeburger which sets off the anti-soy crowd. One would think I set out to make a dish that is certain to draw criticism. Actually, I just like lasagna and don't care what the food Nazis think. It's healthier than lasagna with hamburger or Italian sausage in it, so I am content.

Lasagna is a fun dish to get creative with if you have any head at all for substitutions. You could, for instance, substitute fresh spinach for fresh mushrooms. You can take out the cottage cheese if you want and just use the mushroom soup sauce or do it the other way round. You probably shouldn't substitute chocolate chips for the vegeburger, though. That would be silly.

Have fun with this and see you at potluck!

Ingredients:
Layers 4 & 5 - Sliced Provolone & slice mushrooms

  • Sliced black olives
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 bag Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped Bell Pepper
  • 1 can Mushroom soup 
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 9 Lasagna noodles 
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms or small jar of mushrooms drained
  • 2 slices Provolone Cheese (or more mozzarella)
  • 1/2 large carton cottage cheese  
Directions:
Layer's 6-9: Mushroom sauce, noodles vegeburger
and spaghetti sauce

  1. Heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. If the lasagna noodles you use are not "oven ready", you'll need to prepare the noodles according to the package directions. I used both oven ready rice gluten-free rice lasagna noodles and regular whole wheat lasagna noodles because that's what I had. I put the oven ready noodles on the bottom of the casserole dish and put the wheat noodles on to boil.
  3. In a skillet put a little olive oil and heat. Add Griller Crumbles, onion and bell
    Griller crumbles, onion and peppers sauteed in olive oil.
    pepper and brown the crumbles and soften the onions and peppers. 
  4. First layer - In a large casserole dish, cover the bottom of the casserole with lasagna noodles.
  5. Add second layer - Spread cottage cheese over the noodles.
  6. Add third layer - Spaghetti sauce over cottage cheese, spreading evenly.
  7. Add fourth layer - Provolone strips or mozzarella strips laid flat on top of what you have so far.
  8. Add fifth layer - Mix can of mushroom sauce and 1/4 cup milk and pour over mixture.
  9. Add sixth layer - Slice fresh or canned mushrooms and spread sliced 'shrooms over the top of the cheese slices.
  10. Add seventh layer - Spread lasagna noodles over the top of the 'shrooms.
  11. Add eighth layer - Spread vegeburger crumbles, onions, and pepper mixture over the top of the noodles.
    Layer 10: Cheese and olives - ready to pop in the oven
  12. Add ninth layer - Spread spaghetti sauce over vegeburger layer
  13. Add tenth layer - Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over all and sliced olives over that. I count them as one layer, though technically those few olives might make it eleven layers. I just like the symmetry of ten layers.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees till sauce bubbles and cheese is melted.
  15. Switch oven to "broil" and broil at high for 2 minutes. Watch closely or it will burn on top. This helps brown the cheese a little bit and looks nice.
Serving suggestions:

Set the casserole on a hot pad to cool and cover with aluminum foil or the casserole lid if you have one. Once it reaches room temperature, you can put it in the fridge overnight, which will allow the flavors to spread throughout. Heat it to 170 degrees in the oven or warmer about an hour or so before potluck.

Variations:

You can actually leave out any of the layers you want to. If you hate mushrooms, leave 'em out or substitute something else. You can make a basic cream sauce or use another cream sauce with any flavor you think suitable. This recipe uses less cheese, so you can substitute extra cheese for the mushroom soup sauce if you want. You can leave out the vegeburger or substitute Loma Linda or Worthington vegeburger, with or without the onions and peppers. You can even substitute spinach for the fresh mushrooms if you want. It works pretty well any way you want to (except, of course, with chocolate).

(c) 2017 by Tom King


Friday, May 19, 2017

No Sugar Added Apple Pie



This is an experimental Apple Pie which hopefully doesn't send my blood sugar into low Earth orbit. It's made with 100% white grape juice and a sprinkle of Stevia in place of sugar. The apples are fresh. I peeled them with my handy dandy apple peeler and corer machine, a bit of kitchen tool self-indulgence I picked up a year or two ago. The pie is tasty, but not overly sweet. Here's how I made it.

Ingredients:
  • 5 apples peeled, cored and sliced.
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup white grape juice
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. margarine or butter
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 pie crusts
  • Spray oil
Directions:
  1. Place water, grape juice, allspice, cinnamon, corn starch, flour, in large pot and heat till blended.  
  2. Add apples to the mix and bring to a low boil.
  3. Spray the pie pan with oil and spread bottom pie crust over the pie pan.
  4. Fill the crust with the apple mix.
  5. Sprinkle the apples mix with Splenda or Stevia. Spread small dots of margarine or butter over the top of the filling.
  6. Spread the top crust over the bottom, flute the edges to seal the top and bottom.
  7. Cut 5 evenly placed slits in the top crust to vent while baking
  8. Bake at 350ยบ until the crust edges and top crust begin to brown
  9. Cool for an hour
Serving Suggestion:

It's really good pie, warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream (sugar free for me).  It's lightly sweet and the cinnamon and butter makes it pop.

© 2017 by Tom King