Vegan Red Pepper Cream Rice [gluten-free]

Creamy and cheesy red pepper sauce covering nutritious brown rice and plenty of vegetables makes for a satisfying vegan lunch or dinner.

Remind me to expect good when creating impromptu dishes on a whim or at least keep pen and paper on the kitchen table at ll times? Because that’s when true magic can happen.  That is, if you consider super easy, fast and satisfying meals magic.  I know I do. As much as I like fancy meals sometimes [read: in 90 per cent of the cases] I’m ravenous by the time lunch rolls around and just want to eat. Like, ten minutes ago.

Red pepper cream sauce_2

The creation of this dish started with a mad craving for bell peppers. Actually, that began roaring while I was running errands already. Or else I wouldn’t have found myself with a bag of peppers at hand in the first place – you might remember my sensitivity to them? It seems to be better these days but I’m still very careful in terms of amounts.  Anyway, another characteristic of meals I was longing for – or constantly am – is creaminess. Red pepper cream sauce?  Cheesy? Yes, please.

Red pepper cream sauce_3

While there’s a time and place for actual cream and full-fat cheese-filled dishes it’s not on a regular weeknight for me. This version might not fool a die-hard cheese fan. Nevertheless, cauliflower, almond milk and nutritional yeast team up creating an addictive sauce that will make you wish you’d prepared a double batch. And why not, really? I may or may not have eaten this as a soup at some point.

Red pepper cream sauce

There are two key ingredients to the sauce: coconut oil for just the right amount of richness [don’t omit this!] and nutritional yeast. I’ve been going nuts about nutritional yeast lately.  Oddly enough,  I wasn’t a huge fan when I first tried it years ago but as of late have found I actually prefer its taste to that of real cheese. Strange but really good for me, however, was the impromptu add-in of actual [vegan if desired ] melty cheese. Crazy when there’s the nutritional yeast already?  Trust me on this one. The yeast for flavour, the cheese for that stretchy [is that even a word outside of the world of yoga pants?] cheesiness. More of that, please.

Vegan Red Pepper Cream Rice

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped finely*
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp frozen or fresh chopped parsley
  • 1-2 tbsps nutritional yeast  [I will be honest and let you know I didn’t measure but just kept adding it to taste – at least 1 1/2 tbsps, though]
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • Coconut oil, about 1/2 tsp

 

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 2 small red onions, sliced into rings
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, sliced thinly
  • 5 brown button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice  [I used short-grain]
  • [vegan or regular] shredded cheese** – I used a small handful but the more the merrier
  1. Add the bell peppers and cauliflower to a small sauce pot and add just so much  water so they’re not fully covered.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Let simmer until the vegetables are tender.  There shouldn’t be a lot of water left.
  3. Pour in almond milk and add the seasonings. Blend until smooth.
  4. Sauté the onions until caramelized.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  6. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have realeased most of their liquid. Stir in kale and let it wilt.
  7. Stir in the rice, chickpeas and sauce. Just before serving sprinkle in the cheese, stir and let it melt into the sauce.

Notes:

  • * This tastes even better if you roast the pepper in advance. I just went the very lazy route adding everything to a pot and letting it simmer until tender.
  • ** If using vegan make sure to use a kind that melts well. I like Daiya brand.

Red pepper cream sauce_5

I’m linking up with Gluten-Free Tuesdays, Strange but good, RecipeFriday, Lean Lena’s Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Recipe of the Week, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Real Food RecipesTasty Tuesdays, Healthy Vegan Friday and #glutenfreefridays.

Happiness-inducing today: Today [January 6th] is the birthday of this fabulous lady and long-time blend right here. Happy Birthday, Emily!

Stay in touch!

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Do you like nutritional yeast? If so: what are your favourite uses for it?

How do you create recipes: plan them in advance or go with the flow and trust in brilliant results?

Back on [the Pinterest] food track

It’s been a while since my last Pinterest-inspired What I ate Wednesday post – too long. For some reason I tend to put unneccessary pressure on myself to create own recipes rather than follow others‘.  Ridiculous much? Absolutely. But this is me and I never claimed to be normal.  Anyway,  as an attempt to fall into good habits I tried a few dishes by fellow bloggers. And  put my own spin on them . Don’t tell me you were surprised by that bit.

wiaw fall into good habits button

Inspired by Khushboo who created a chia pudding like no other I finally broke my snack rut. With December and all things Christmas right around the corner I [obviously] couldn’t follow her recipe but had to tweak it. Can you say Coconutty Cocoa Gingerbread Pear Chia Pudding?  It looks like mush but tastes so good – a recipe coming your way soon. I’m not a fan of regular chia pudding because while a staple in my oat bran for me the texture of the gelled seeds isn’t appealing in large amounts .  Here,  my dear favourite coconut flour is the main player with the chia seeds as a pleasant side kick.

 Gingerbread chia pudding

We’ll get a little sweeter again in a minute but first I have to proudly say I tried another dish featured in my very recent good good links. I wasn’t kidding when I said Hannah’s hash was totally up my alley.  The only problem I had when adding the recipe to my post was not having any butternut squash on hand.  Yet I couldn’t get over how delicious the dish looked. Enter zucchini aka summer “squash” jumping in.

Kale_chickpea_lentil hash

That’s a huge stretch because I never think of zucchini as a member of the squash family. But it was what I had at hand so I followed Hannah’s instructions loosely. Here are my changes : zucchini and cauliflower instead of squash,  chickpeas for the kidney beans called for, canned lentils. Also, I turned this into a casserole for my work day lunches so added tomato sauce, poured the “stew” into a baking dish and topped it with creamy polenta post-picture. What will I not casserole-ify*?

*[That should totally be a word because it’s so true for me these days. It’s cold, soup won’t cut it, so casserole-ifying it is.]

Casserole_beans

Do you feel the urge to spread the Christmas cheer with others when the temperatures drop and cozying up inside becomes a lot more appealing than setting foot outside? Just me?? Either that or I’ve just been bitten by the baking bug. After last week’s no-bake sweet action  I felt like turning on the oven for the first Christmas cookies of the season – and the first time playing my favourite Christmas tunes. These so-called Traumstücke were  a hit with everybody last year so I knew my first pick was going to be a success. Honestly,  it’s unbelievable how a recipe this simple can be so incredibly amazing.

Lebkuchen-Traumstücke

My neighbours also accepted several packages for me lately because I’m at work when the postman rings.  I’m glad they saved me the trip to the overcrowded post office on Saturday morning so cookies seemed like the perfect thank you gift. And because they – like all of my meals in this post – are vegan, too, I’m joining Vegan Wednesday, too. Whether you’re stopping by from there or WIAW these cookies should totally make it onto your baking list.

Happiness-inducing today: My first Yogi wisdom of the day becoming reality.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
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Have you started baking Christmas cookies yet? Which ones?

What’s the latest recipe you pinned and tried?

Lucky Scatterbrain [Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake]

Cheesy creamy polenta topping a mix of flavourful fall vegetables. Vegan comfort food boasting with vitamins.

Two secrets to getting out of a cooking rut: getting yourself into troubles and being scatterbrained.

Polenta casserole 3

The Farmers’ Market is a dangerous place to go for me so that’s where the trouble part comes from. Even if I meant to pick up just one ingredient with a recipe using it in mind it never happens. Never. I don’t even know why I’m still trying to fool myself into believing it. The second I set foot onto the market I’m lost. Or should I say: my salary? In my defense, walking past a dozen stalls brimming with the freshest produce, most delightfully scenting breads and local honey [ even of the very rare kind!] until you get to the one you’d originally settled on is torture.

Long story short I didn’t just finally (!!) pick up the first kale of the season – can you believe it had been unavailable since the end of January? – but also lots of other autumnal produce.

Polenta casserole

About that scatterbrained part: Do you ever swear you had an ingredient at hand not even needing to check because you definitely know it’s there? Until you actually need it. Turns out you’d better have checked earlier than Saturday night with stores closed already. And when your heart’s set on a balsamic kale and butternut squash phyllo pastry it hurts just a little to notice you’re out of balsamic vinegar.

Polenta casserole 2

But lack of ingredients has the potential to boost creativity and variety is the spice of life after all. Old but true.  In hindsight I’m -very- glad I strained from my original plan because this might just be my new favourite.  The sweeteness of the soft parsnips, slightly bitter taste of the kale covered and meaty mushrooms once more mingling in a silky sauce and topped with creamy cheesy polenta? And did I mention chickpeas? Sign me up. Okay,  I guess I need to sign myself up or better yet get cooking but I recommend you do, too, for full fall flavour enjoyment. You’re welcome.

Polenta casserole 4

Also note that this is super fast and just right for lazier days because we’re preparing the polenta in the microwave.  Yes! Trust me it’s the surefire way to perfect polenta. It also saves you another dish to clean because you can eat right from the bowl you used for the polenta. I’m not going back to stovetop corn meal any time soon.

Name-wise I was torn with this dish. It’s autumn to me but I know the majority of you are used to the term fall so that’s what I ended up choosing.

Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake

  • one medium Parsnip,  cut into half moons
  • one medium red onion, sliced into rings
  • Brussels sprouts (90 g) – 1/2 cup
  • Kale (50 g cleaned) – about 1 cup
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove of garlic,  minced
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • 100 g chickpeas [1/2 cup + 1 tbsp]
  • A generous 1/4 cup passata/tomato sauce (70 g)
  • 3 tbsps soy creamer, divided
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika and thyme
  • 1/4 cup polenta
  • 2 tbsps nutritional yeast

As involved as it might look or sound this comes together really fast.

  1. Start by sautéing the onion rings until caramelized at mediun heat. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices.
  3. Deglaze the pot with some water and add the Parsnip.  Cover the pot and let cook for about three to four minutes or until the parsnip is tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms,  sauté until the release some water. Then stir in the kale and let it wilt.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce and two tablespoons of soy creamer. Stir to combine.
  6. Mix in the chickpeas.
  7. Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.
  8. Top with the polenta and bake at 300 °F for about 20 minutes or until set.

 

  1. For the polenta: Place the polenta and 3/4 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt. Stir and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.  Microwaves vary so stay close by to avoid boiling over.
    Remove, stir in the remaining tablespoon of soy creamer and pepper to taste. Microwave for another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave,  stir in nutritional yeast, salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of coconut oil.

I’m sharing this lucky byproduct of scatterbrainedness with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, The Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, Tasty Tuesday and Gluten-Free Fridays.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: My main work assignment for the day. It involved visiting a daycare facility and the little ones were too adorable.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Scatterbrain, going produce-buying crazy at the Farmers’ Market, …: What are your best ways out of food ruts?

What are your top three seasonal vegetables in autumn?

Do you prefer saying autumn or fall? I’ll admit ‘feeling fall-ish‘ has more of a ring to it but still, in my heart it’s all about autumn [and alliterations].

Winner, winner, kale for dinner [Kale Surprise Pastry]

Trust me I’ve spent quite a while pondering what to tell you about this dish only to come to the conclusion that a) nothing will do it justice in anyway [yes, I’m that excited to share it], b) it [hopefully] doesn’t matter in anyway as you’re going to skip right down to the recipe in anyway [why are you still reading??] and c) a glance at the time tells me I should finally get writing :D.

with sauce

Until now my  simply when I couldn’t stop thinking about it resulting in multiple repeats in a short amount of weeks. Take the Hummus Bake for example: I can’t even remember how often I’ve had it the first time after coming up with the recipe let alone in total. The downside of living alone was that I had no additional taste testers. But on the upside I didn’t have to worry about disappointing others when a recipe idea didn’t work out. Now that I’m temporarily back at my parents’ and take over dinner responsibility once a week it’s a new level of difficulty. My parents have no worries voicing their disapproval of any dish I prepare especially regarding its vegan-ness.  Note that my parents are far from big meat eaters but actually eat a lot of accidentially vegan food like vegetable stir-fries or … Conclusion: it only turns into dangerously vegan food once it comes explicitly labeled as such.

Kale Pastry

same would be true for nutritious food coming under the guise of being healthy. Needless to say I’m not advertising my dishes touting the high Vitamin C content of kale, singing the protein praises of chickpeas or proclaiming the anti-inflammatory benefits of onions. For all of you interested in these facts, though, rejoice that this dish isn’t just absolutely tasty but you can feel virtuous eating it if that’s how you roll ;).

Pastry

There wasn’t any need to worry with this dish, though. As soons as they’d had one bite of the flaky pastry, smoky spicy filling and creamy sauce they were won over. The kale was a surprise hit with my parents hence the name of the recipe. As mentioned in my What I ate Wednesday post my parents are only now discovering the versatility of kale through our family dinners. Does that make up for my bad blogger behaviour in terms of neither being fond of snack bars nor salads? I hope Gigi won’t mind me applying as a spokesperson at the National Kale Board ;).

kale_dinner

Kale Surprise Pastry

  • 5 sheets phyllo dough
  • 6 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, then mashed
  • 2 heaped tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soy creamer [I used Alpro Soya; might work with any other kind of unsweetened non-dairy creamer or real cream]

For the sauce:

  • coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp soy creamer [100 ml]
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Sauté the onion in coconut oil until slightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped kale and sauté until wilted.
  3. While the kale is cooking arrange the phyllo dough sheets in a greased springform pan so they’re overlapping.
  4. When the kale is wilted, stir in the mashed chickpeas, raisins, lemon juice and spices.
  5. Mix in soy cream and adjust seasonings if needed.
  6. Transfer the filling into the springform pan and enclose the pastry by using the parts of the dough overlapping on the sides of the pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 375 °F/175 °C.

For the sauce: Sauté the bell peppers in  coconut oil in a small pot. Add some water or broth and simmer covered until soft. Blend with the soy creamer and season to taste.

with sauce

I’m not entirely sure how many this would serve. Served with  three of us easily polished it off with no crumb left behind but if we all have pretty big appetites so I guess it’d serve four ‘normal’ people. Or two kale fiends …

If you’re not keen on kale [but also if you are] visit Kierston’s blog for more Recipe Friday deliciousness.

Happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: A pleasantly busy day at work.

 

Tell me about your favourite kale recipes!

What’s your surefire sign a newly developped recipe has passed the ultimate taste test?

Edible lessons in satisfaction

If giving actual hugs via internet was possible I’d send one to each of you. For now, though, a simple thank you will have to suffice. When posting yesterday I didn’t know what to expect but reading all of your kind, understanding and supportive comment just makes me have to say it once more: my heart feels so full. All of you are awesome!

Like I said the initial struggle turned out to be a learning experience. Any kind of ‘slip-up’ I had used to be a fail in my eyes and made me feel I’d never make true progress in recovery. These days, I notice what happens, occasionally still feel disappointed by setbacks or repeatedly making the same ‘mistake’. But I also acknowledge them as lessons – and some need one or several repeats to fully sink in, right? At least I can say it took me multiple revisions to finally understand the citric acid cycle or analysis in school, too, so why would recovery be any different ;)?! Sorry for the lengthy intro. What I’m getting at was to say I’d share some more of my recent lessons [in satisfaction] while also loving my veggies on this What I ate Wednesday – and a side of chickpeas knowing Jenn will appreciate them. There we go!

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Starting off with another recipe from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean found its way into my lunch box [and onto a plate for prettier pictures]. The Skinny Puttanesca jumped right at me when looking through the pasta chapter because I’m a huge fiend of green olives. Black ones? Keep them. Green, however, yes! Once more I tinkered the recipe to use what I had on hand. No storebought marinara but my usual quick from scratch recipe, kale instead of spinach. And though Lindsay lists chickpeas as an optional ingredient you know they are most definitely not optional for me.

Light & Lean_puttanesca

Two things about this recipe. First, if you read Carly’s [great] post on words that shouldn’t be used to describe food you’ll know that skinny is one of them. I’m using this here as it’s the original recipe title and that’s fine with me. Secondly: I honestly don’t like giving bad reviews. So let me start out by saying that yes, I did think the dish tasted good and I’ll probably have it again [given I’ll be able to locate another spaghetti squash – why, oh why is their season already over?]. However, I took it to the office with me where it served as a cold lunch. As mentioned before I’m not fond of cold main meals so this played into my rating. Also – and this once more might just be a subjective feeling – I wasn’t satisfied after finishing. Spaghetti squash is great but it’s not pasta. Next time I’d either add even more [and there already was half a cup in there] chickpeas or add some ‘real’ pasta/rice for a more satisfying dish.

Light & Lean_skinny puttanesca

Not all of my own creations are completely satisfying, either. More often than not a lack of creative cooking juices combined with special produce anxiety facing the question of how to use a new-to-me-ingredient best. Note that this was not the best way to try sunchokes for the first time. But it still was strange but good due to using a [vegan] cheezy broccoli sauce/soup as a base layer, topping it with all kinds of vegetables and – yes – cereal. Don’t knock it till you try it – they’re a great replacement for breadcrumbs when you’re out of the latter. And when the final dish wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped? Simple solution: eat more cereal. It was yet another sign I hadn’t eaten enough before and no reason for despair.

Strange but good_cereal topping

Making up for the unsatisfying – or: yet to be perfected – experience of that dish, however, was our last family dinner. With only a vague idea in mind and no recipe I simply hoped for a somewhat edible outcome – and was more than pleasantly surprised by the result. Some might assume I was on an ‘Eat more kale’ mission when serving my parents the blog world favourite at almost every family dinner. Actually, though, I’m not. Just being savvy when it comes to using up produce. Okay, maybe there’s a little newfound fondness for my parents had never eaten kale in any other form than as part of traditional German “Grünkohl” [kale stewed to mush with pork chop ribs and a specific type of sausage]. That’s why I was wary serving it to them as the main ingredient of a dish I created myself [read: that hadn’t gotten the approval of another blogger and his readership before].

Family dinner_kale pastry

I’m excited to share the recipe for this one with you on Friday. If you have yet to get into kale: this is the recipe for you. It’s approved by my dad and trust me when I say that says something.

Another sign of approval was received by this cake as my contribution to the buffet on New Year’s Eve. Though I was breaking two major rules of serving guests here: trying a new-to-me recipe and it being not just vegan but low-fat, too. It’s the Chocolate Cake from Light & Lean. Again an occasion of keeping my fingers crossed for the best but I didn’t expect getting rave reviews. Don’t you like when your expectations are exceeded?

HH Light & Lean_Chocolate cake

Seeing how long my post has already become I’ll leave it at that and wish you a very happy Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Treating myself to something I’d been eyeing for ages [will share it soon].

 

What were some of your latest recipe hits and misses?

Are you wary of serving guests healthier fare?

Kale: yay or nay?