Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Creamy Cucumber Dressing or Dip

As I mentioned on Monday, this is the original recipe I was on my way to making when the Better Than Kraft Ranch Dressing happened. 
I've been thinking about making a Creamy Cucumber dressing for a while now, but this dressing isn't inspired by the familiar Tzatziki sauce -- no siree. It's inspired by another Kraft dressing! Can you believe how horrible I am?! I have no shame, and I'm proud to admit that I grew up loving the Creamy Cucumber dressing that only Kraft made (now I think it's called creamy cucumber ranch). Hey, at least I was eating a lot of salads!
Even though this isn't technically a Greek inspired recipe, you can most certainly pair it with Mediterranean foods. In fact I recommend it! An extra squeeze of lemon juice and a garnish of fresh Dill would certainly be a wonderful addition.
At the moment I'm having a difficult time not shoveling this dressing into my mouth by the spoonful...
Important Note About This Recipe
There is a certain amount of prep and wait time involved, but it's really not that bad! If you think there's even the slightest chance that you're going to fall head over heels for this dressing I suggest doubling the batch.
Why do we dry the Cucumbers and Onion?  When the minced Cucumber and Onion are warmed/dried their flavor is intensified because you're removing some of their natural water content. This also helps extend the refrigerator shelf life of the dip to over a week. If you don't dry your Cucumber and Onion you won't have as much of a flavor packed dressing, and that's just sad. 
AtV Creamy Cucumber Dressing or Dip
Yields a little more than 1 cup
Step 1. 
Beforehand prep
Step 2.
Making and drying your veggie mix
1 c Cucumber - seeded and finely chopped
1/2 c Green Onion //or// Chive finely chopped
Dry your veggies for 1.5 hours, afterwards they should look like this:
Just a little shriveled but not completely dried. There should still be some moisture left in the Cucumber and Onion. 
Your veggies should not amount to roughly 1/2 cup packed.
Step 3.
Making your Creamy Cucumber Dressing!
Remember the AtV Ranch Dressing from Step 1?
Add all of your veggies to it...
Mix everything together nicely...
Now transfer this dip to the fridge and let it chill/sit for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can build
This dip would also be amazing in a sprout salad, stuffed into tomatoes, or with apple wedges. Try it!
In case you're wondering, those are my most recent cracker creation (featured alongside the cucumber slices): 
Savory Onion Pumpkin-Flax Crackers...recipe coming soon!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Better Than Kraft Ranch Dressing

Happy food accidents often occur when I'm on my way to completing a recipe. In the case of today's post I had a different dressing in mind, but upon tasting it "half-done" my jaw nearly hit the kitchen counter... 
I finally (and accidentally) re-created one of my all time favorite guilty pleasure foods: Ranch dressing!
I'm not going to say this "kind of tastes like ranch". No siree, I'm going to say with complete and utter confidence that this dressing is better than anything kraft or hidden valley has yet to put in their preservative laden bottles -- it's almost too good. So pace yourself Ranch lovers, while this recipe may not look like much it'll be gone before you know it and you'll be making it again, and the bucket loads. 
Try it out on your real-Ranch loving friends, see what they think. And of course, let me know!
Important Note About This Recipe
I've decided to dub this dressing a "staple recipe" because it's what I consider to be an all-star raw vegan condiment. I plan on having it readily available for certain moments like; entertaining friends, late night snacks, picnics and BBQ's, even travel food. Stick around to see its versatility expanded upon in future AtV recipes, there may even one happening week...
AtV Ranch Dressing
yields roughly 1 cup
1 c AtV Sour Cream //or// AtV Mayo (sour cream would be a lower fat version)
2 tsp Date Paste
1/2 tsp Onion powder
1/2 tsp Nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp Garlic Granules
1 tsp plus 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt 
1/4 tsp Pepper (maybe a tad more)
In a bowl whisk together the above ingredients until smooth...
Want to know how to turn this into a Creamy Cucumber Dressing?
I'll be back on Wednesday with more info...


Friday, February 24, 2012

Strawberry "Sugar" Cookies & Pink Powdered "Sugar"

These cookies are dedicated to all of the wonderful Pinterest users who have made and loved my Coconut-Lemon Meltaways. You have no idea how much the outpouring of your enthusiasm has inspired me. Thank you from the bottom of my veggie loving heart! 
This is also a personal dedication to my bestie, Nachos of Appetite Affliction, who like myself has an affinity for Strawberries...and cookies (biscuits) too. Lovelovelove you girlie!  
As much as I wanted to call these "shortbread" cookies the texture just doesn't compare to that of an actual shortbread. Instead I wound up with an incredibly moist, soft and decadent cookie with a very subtle flavor of fresh Strawberries. I can't complain about I stuffed them into my face making happy food noises.
There's one added bonus at the end of the cookie recipe....
While it's not necessarily for these specific cookies, it's especially for those of you who want to dust your cookies with pink powdered sugar! 
Important Note About This Recipe
About the Agave: 
Something I don't use very often in my kitchen is Agave, but where these cookies are concerned you need to use it, or another liquid sweetener of similar sweet-potency. I recommend Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Blue Agave. I've actually taken the time to contact Wholesome Sweeteners, inquiring to whether or not their product is truly raw. They were gracious enough to respond to my email, confirming that they do not heat their Organic Raw Blue Agave above 118 degrees. 

If you'd rather not use Agave then see the recipe for my other liquid sweetener suggestions.
For Extra Strawberry Flavor:
Chop/mince 1 cup of dried strawberries (you should be able to find them in the bulk dried fruit section of your grocery store). 
Simply mix the minced dried strawberries into your dough before shaping the cookies.
If I had dried Strawberries on hand I totally would've done this!
Raw Vegan Strawberry "Sugar" Cookies
Yields approximately 30 cookies
Step 1.
Dry Ingredients
4 cups Almond Flour (you can make this, or buy it - however most store bought Almond flour is not raw)
½ tsp of Salt
In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients together - set aside and move onto the next step.
Step 2.
Wet Ingredients
In food processor/blender combine the following:
1/3 c Agave//or//Grade B Maple Syrup//or//Raw Organic Honey
3/4 c chopped Strawberries
1/4 c AtV Sour Cream
Puree together all of the above ingredients.
After you’ve pureed you will have 1 cup of liquid
Step 3.
Adding your Dry and Wet Ingredients together
While your mixer is on:
Pour your Wet ingredients into your Dry Ingredients
Proceed to mix together your Wet and Dry ingredients evenly
Now that your batter is made you get to shape your cookies!
Be sure to keep them no thicker than 1/2'' otherwise your drying time will be longer
Final Step
Warm your Cookies for 2 hours  
Your finished Cookie will be dry on the outside and moist on the inside
Store your cookies in an air tight container in your fridge (if they last that long)
Don't be alarmed by the fact that your cookies aren't pink in appearance. Their flavor makes up for what they might lack in Strawberry "color".
Raw Vegan Pink Powdered Sugar (!!)
This is a fun option for those of you who own a spice grinder (my spice grinder is actually a coffee grinder)
Beet Powder is a fun ingredient to play around with. It's sweet with a very subtle hint of tang and earthiness. When ground up with Coconut Crystals/Palm Sugar it makes a very convincing powdered sugar. Plus, it's pink! Use beet powder sparingly in desserts because a little goes a long way. 
4 Tbsp Coconut Crystals
1 tsp Beet Powder (I found this in the bulk spice section of my grocery store)
Grind the above ingredients into a fine powder
Store this "sugar" in an air tight container in your pantry
The only thing left to do from here is gently dust your Strawberry "Sugar" cookies with your Pink Powdered Sugar...and of course eat them!
Happy Friday!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creamy Spinach Dip

A note of thank you to Allen of Eating Out Loud for the recipe inspiration in today's post!
Want to know a random fact? I've never actually tried "real" Spinach dip. 
This is amusing to me now, because a bulk of the recipes I make are deeply rooted in the non-vegan world but come across convincingly like the real thing. Thankfully I have some wonderful non-vegan taste-testers to back this up, and I'm excited to have a new recipe to add to the their testing plate! If it were up to me I'd find a way to send this dip to every single one of you, it's just so good! 
There's only one simple trick to getting the very most out of this dip - it's all about the veggies.
 If you plan on making it for a party or appetizer I would recommend doubling the recipe because (at the risk of sounding presumptuous) it's going to be popular, especially among people like myself who are squeamish about real mayo or sour cream. You also get the added bonus of knowing you made this entire dip from scratch...and maybe bragging about it just a little bit too
Important Note About This Recipe
Why do we massage the Spinach? In the first step of the recipe you're instructed to massage the spinach leaves. This is important because massaging the spinach is like a quick wilting process and it helps to gently break the cell walls - in turn you're helping to enhance the flavor of the spinach. 
Why do we dry the Spinach and veggies? When the wilted spinach and veggies are warmed/dried their flavor is intensified because you're removing some of their natural water content. The end result is a flavor-packed veggie mix that makes one heck of a dip! Try this technique using other veggies too.
Raw Vegan Creamy Spinach Dip
Makes roughly 4 appetizer servings...unless you're eating it alone...
Step 1.
Spinach & Veggies
1 c packed Spinach leaves
Place your Spinach in a large bowl and begin to gently massage it by grabbing handfuls and pushing it through your hands with your thumb and index finger:
Spinach pre-wilted
Spinach after it's been massaged/wilted
Now transfer your wilted Spinach to a cutting board and finely chop it up:
I recommend finely chopping your spinach, but not mincing it
In a mixing bowl combine:
All of your wilted/chopped Spinach
2 Tbsp finely grated/minced Carrot
1 Tbsp minced Red Bell pepper
1 Tbsp minced Sun-dried Tomato
2 tsp minced fresh Dill
a dash of Salt and Pepper 
Step 2.
Drying Your Veggies
If you love this dip as much as I do you might end up making batches of the above mixed spinach and veggies and keeping it in your fridge for those moments where you just want to eat an amazing dip with some crackers and carrots. If you do make this spinach and veggie mix it will keep in your refrigerator (after it's been dried) for at up to 2 weeks. 
Proceed to dry your Spinach & Veggies for 1 hour, or maybe a bit longer.
Your finished veggies should look like the above photo. Not completely dry, but shriveled and even more wilted. 
You're almost done!
Step 3.
Making your Raw Vegan Creamy Spinach Dip
In a mixing bowl combine:
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Date Paste
1 tsp Onion powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 tsp Nutritional yeast (optional)
1 pinch ground Celery Seed
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
Mix all of the above together until creamy.
Now add your Spinach and Veggie mixture from Step 2!
Holy yummy!
From here there's only one thing left to do (don't hate me):
Place your dip in the fridge and let it sit/chill for 1 hour so the flavors of the spinach and veggies can develop -- and believe me, they will!
It's totally up to you how you want to eat your Creamy Spinach dip, but I've always loved the idea of Cucumber cups - especially if you're entertaining! 
Happy munching!