Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vegan Beef (Mushroom and Walnut Meat)


As promised, here's my recipe for vegan beef so you can make my Vegan Beef Nachos. And just in time for the Super Bowl.

It's such an oxymoron, right? Vegan beef. Kind of like same difference or sweet sour.

But how do you have beef, that's meat, become vegetarian, which is a plant based diet, you ask?

Easy peasy! It's made by combining baby Bella mushrooms with walnuts and seasoning it with spices so it not only resembles ground beef, but it tastes similar to it too.

Notice I say "resembles ground beef" and "tastes similar to beef" and not "exactly like beef" because you cannot get vegetables to have the exact same texture and taste of beef. So if you're expecting that, you will be disappointed. Let's just say, it's as close as you can get to beef with mushrooms, walnuts, and spices.

And because it reminds me so much of ground beef, I'm calling this mushroom and walnut meat, vegan beef. And I've seasoned it so it goes along perfectly with any Mexican dish calling for ground beef.

This vegan beef is to ground beef what coconut milk is to cream and milk. The taste and texture is so close, it's amazing! It even looks similar, as you can see from the photos.

Even one of the carnivorous males I work with liked it. He will remain nameless since he's afraid it will ruin his reputation as a carnivore. Men {shaking my head}.


You can use this vegan beef in any recipe calling for ground beef, such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and even on top of pizza. However, I'm not sure how it will hold up in soups or gravy. But if you do use it in that matter, please let me know how it worked for you.

If you're vegan or just want to eat healthier, be sure to stop by regularly because I will definitely be using this vegan beef in more recipes to come because I'm loving it and it's so easy to make.

Let me know how you like it and what recipes you plan on using it in.


Vegan Beef (Mushroom and Walnut Meat)


Recipe by Julie Murphy @ Sweet and Spicy Monkey
A vegan "beef" made with mushrooms and walnuts that can be used in any recipe calling for beef. Especially flavorful in burritos, tacos, beef nachos, quesadillas, and on top of pizza.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked in water overnight
  • 1/2 cup dry walnuts
  • 10 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, washed under running water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Cooking Directions
  1. After mushrooms are washed, dry them with a paper towel and slice. Set aside.
  2. Add dry spices into a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Drain water from walnuts that soaked overnight and add to food processor bowl.
  4. Combine sliced mushrooms, dry walnuts, onion, and garlic to food processor bowl.
  5. Pulse on High until mushrooms and walnuts are processed into small pieces. You might have to remove pieces stuck to sides with a spatula in order to process all ingredients. Be careful not to process too long or your mushrooms and walnuts will be formed into a paste. We don't that. We want small, crumbly pieces.
  6. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil.
  7. Once oil is heated, add contents from food processor and spices. Stir together. Continue to stir occasionally while cooking mushroom and walnut mixture for about 5 minutes or until mushroom & walnuts are heated.
  8. Remove pan from heat.
  9. Can use in a recipe immediately or can be stored in airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Inspired by ~ Michelle at Pure formulas recipe site, Green and Delicious.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Vegan Beef Nachos


Lately I've been crushing on these Vegan Beef Nachos I made last week. They're full of good for you stuff like black beans, red onion, tomatoes, avocado, and jalapeƱo. You get it, they're full of veggies that pack a punch to your taste buds!

But the one thing that sets these apart from other vegan nachos is the vegan "beef" I added to them. Yes, vegan beef made with mushrooms and walnuts. Those vegetarians are a resourceful bunch because this vegan beef comes awfully close to beef in taste and texture.


Notice I say "close to beef" and not "exactly like beef" because you cannot get vegetables to have the exact same texture and taste of beef, so if you're expecting that, you will be disappointed. Let's just say, it's as close as you can get to beef with mushrooms, walnuts, and spices.

I absolutely love this stuff and you can be certain it will show up in more recipes from me. I'll be sharing my recipe for vegan beef next week, so be sure to stop back by because this stuff is delicious!


Anywho, back to these nachos, so flavorful and filling you can eat them for dinner. As a matter of fact, YES, you can eat these for dinner!


Your kids (and your main squeeze) will think you're such a cool mom serving up nachos for dinner! Little do they know, they're eating healthy and getting their recommended daily allowance of veggies at the same time.

Chalk up another win-win meal.


Vegan Beef Nachos

Recipe by Julie Murphy @ Sweet and Spicy Monkey
Flavorful beef nachos, vegetarian style.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 minute
Total time: 11 minutes
Yield: 2
Ingredients
  • 1-16 ounce can vegetarian refried beans
  • 17.6 ounces vegan beef (mushroom and walnut meat)
  • 1-15 ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed, and warmed
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • plain Greek yogurt
  • fresh salsa
  • tortilla chips
Directions
  1. In a small saucepan, heat refried beans over low to medium heat until warmed. Set aside.
  2. You can place all ingredients in separate bowls and let everybody customize their own nachos.
  3. Or if you're assembling the plates of nachos, start by spreading tortilla chips over the plate. Followed with a large spoonful of refried beans, spreading an even layer over tortilla chips (as even as you can over the chips).
  4. Spread a spoonful of vegan beef over the refried beans.
  5. Add a large spoonful of black beans over the top of the vegan beef.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over the black beans. Place plate into microwave (about 1 minute) to melt the cheese.
  7. Once cheese is melted, remove plate from microwave and sprinkle remaining ingredients over the top: avocado, tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeno.
  8. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and salsa.
  9. Garnish plates with chopped lettuce and serve with tortilla chips.


You're welcome!

*Recipe for Vegan Beef can be found here.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scottish Shortbread Cookies


Have you ever just got back from the store after buying all the ingredients for something you had planned for weeks to make, only to discover you bought salted butter instead of unsalted butter? Yep, that happened to me the other day.

I have been eyeballing this recipe for so long now and when I went to make it (finally), when I discovered that I bought salted butter instead of unsalted butter. Funny thing is, I never, let me clear that up, N-E-V-E-R buy salted butter.

Yes, I was wearing my glasses at the time too. I knew you were about to ask that!

How something so bizarre could ever happen, I can only figure I was so excited to be buying the European butter that I accidentally grabbed the salted butter. Oops!

Butter failure.

Ha, that's what I initially thought too! But instead I decided to give it a go with the salted butter and see how it turned out. A baking experiment of sorts, you could say, for inquiring minds. Because I'm sure there's a lot of you out there, besides myself, who have wondered "can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter in this recipe?".

The answer for me was yes.


Since the recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of salt, I used the salted butter and added two pinches of salt to make up the difference, which was pure luck in my case.

Recently, Food52 did a post on using salted for unsalted butter in recipes and they actually did the math, (yes, actual math equations) to figure out the amount of salt to use when substituting salted for unsalted butter in recipes. Crazy, right?!?

If you want to do the math, check out Food52's post on the use of salted for unsalted butter or vice versa in recipes here.

Like I said, I just winged it and it worked out fine as my shortbread cookies did not turn out mushy or pasty.

Now I would not recommend using regular butter over European butter because I could just tell by the feel of the European butter how much creamier it is than regular butter. Just think of comparing itchy wool to plush velvet, no comparison at all.

That's the comparison between regular butter and European butter, no comparison.

These cookies are amazing as you can smell the butter in them. And that buttery, melt in your mouth cookie pushes them over the edge. Of course you can always drizzle chocolate or caramel over the top, if that's what you fancy.

But for me, I love them exactly how they are, buttery, melt in your mouth cookies.


Why mess with a good thing?


Scottish Shortbread Cookies

Recipe by Julie Murphy @ Sweet and Spicy Monkey
A subtly sweet, buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread cookie.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen shortbread cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted European butter, chilled and sliced into chunks, about Tablespoon size
  • 1 to 2 pinches sea salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Butter one 10" x 9" pan. You can also use two 5" x 9" pans, instead of the one pan. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl portion of food processor. Pulse to blend.
  4. Add in chunks of butter and mix on High speed for approximately 1 minute. Dough will resemble a sandy texture and clump when squeezed together.
  5. Spoon into prepared pan. If using 2 pans, place half of mixture in each pan.
  6. Press dough mixture down firmly with your hands, flattening it. You can also use the bottom of a glass to get a smooth, even surface.
  7. Using a knife, trace light cuts into surface of dough, about 1" x 2" squares. These will be your "cookie cuts" after baking.
  8. Place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until shortbread is lightly browned around the edges.
  9. Remove from oven.
  10. Using a sharp knife, immediately cut where you traced lines before baking, cutting the cookies all the way through.
  11. Allow shortbread cookies to cool completely, for at least 1 hour in pan(s).
  12. After cookies have cooled, using a fork or knife, remove cookies from pan and serve. Best served with milk, tea, or coffee.
  13. Can be stored in an airtight container for at least 1 week.

Inspired by ~ Nicole at Baking Bites.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


You ever have one of those days where you feel like doing absolutely nothing? I have. Well, I did, last Saturday. I didn't feel like doing anything. I mean just going into the kitchen to fill up my glass of water was too strenuous for me that day.

I just wanted to melt into my chair and watch me some football. Thing is, there was no football on last Saturday. I think the broadcasting channels were having the same kind of day I was because there was absolutely nothing on TV last Saturday.

Seriously people, next time snow is expected, put something worth watching on TV. Is that a little too much to ask? I didn't think so either.

And since I didn't have anything to entertain me that required no energy, I immediately thought of making cookies. Why? Well because I'm one of those people who (even though I don't want to do anything) need something to do or else I become fidgety. So making cookies was it!


Not just any cookie, but these Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now you can say I made these because I was too lazy to add in the flour, but that's not the case. With my healthier eating diet this year, these cookies were the perfect choice for me.

No white sugar added, no flour (which is great if you're gluten-free), and sugar-free chocolate chips. So you don't feel guilty eating them as you melt into the chair and channel surf.

How could I say no? You're right, I couldn't!


Plus, they're easy to make and you can make them under 30 minutes. BAM!

These are definitely my kind of lazy day cookies! I think you'll agree.


Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Julie Murphy @ Sweet and Spicy Monkey
A healthier flourless and white sugar-free version of the classic peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter, creamy (can also use chunky)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 and 1/2 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar-free chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Cream together peanut butter, egg, vanilla, and honey in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in baking soda, salt, oats, and chocolate chips.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. You can either leave them as is or press with fork tines to make criss cross design on top of cookie.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-8 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack where they can cool completely.
  8. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

English Muffin Skillet Bread


No more "no carb" diets for this girl. Well, I wasn't actually on a "no carb" diet, but I did cut down on breads in my diet.

However, I found myself eating carbs by munching on crackers and pretzels (yes, I'm guilty of this) because my body needs carbs. Actually, we all need carbs in our diets, just not an enormous amount and not the processed foods like we've become accustomed to, like store bought crackers, pretzels, or chips.

By cleaning up my diet, I'm going to start making my own breads and maybe soft pretzels, because those are another baking bucket list food for me, so I can control how much sodium, salt, or sugar goes in my foods without all those preservatives.

Ok, I had my say and I'll step down from my soapbox now. Please forgive me, I can be really passionate about my food.

Now don't y'all be holding me to this on all my sweets! I will make some healthy dessert recipes, but I'm not guaranteeing all of them will be healthy. A girl's gotta live some!


Lately I've been experimenting with making homemade breads and this recipe is one of them. I love English muffins! With their crispy crusts and soft texture.

So you can only imagine how happy I was when I saw this recipe for English muffin bread by Merissa at Little House Living. I couldn't wait to make it!

And while I was making it, a fleeting thought crossed my mind as I was moving my skillet, "what if I made this in my  skillet?". I broke out in a happy dance right there! English Muffin Skillet Bread!

If you've been keeping up with me, you know how much I've been cooking with my iron skillet! Rosemary and Sun Dried Tomato Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread, along with last week's Vegetable Frittata to name a few. And now this English Muffin Skillet Bread.

It's soft and airy inside with a crisp crust that's reminiscent of the beloved English muffin. It's perfect with just butter and jam, or you can serve it with soups, or make sandwiches with it. Really you can use it like you would any other bread, it's just that good.


And it's easy to make so don't let the yeast scare you from making this bread. This is one of the easiest breads I've made with little kneading. No kneading if you own a stand mixer because it does all the work!

And keeping true to what I mentioned earlier, I used honey instead of white sugar in this recipe. Yes, honey works just the same as sugar to help activate the yeast.

If you notice, I don't add in the salt until after the yeast is initially activated. This is because salt slows down yeast activation. That's a little tip I learned along the way in my journey of making homemade bread.

Just remember, the milk and water for this recipe need to be between 90 and 110F degrees to activate the yeast. A food or candy thermometer will help you get the right temperature.

I know you're going to absolutely love it as much as I do because there's nothing like homemade bread!

Let me know how you like this English Muffin Skillet Bread and what you eat it with.


English Muffin Skillet Bread

Recipe by Julie Murphy @ Sweet and Spicy Monkey
An easy English muffin bread baked in your iron cast skillet.
Prep time: 30 minutes (includes rising time for dough)
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf skillet bread
Ingredients
  • 5 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add warm milk, water, and honey. Sprinkle both packets of yeast over the top and mix together with a fork. Cover with a dish towel and let sit for 10-15 minutes as yeast activates.
  2. After 10-15 minutes, mix in by hand 2 and 1/2 cups of flour. Cover with towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. While yeast is activating, you can preheat oven to 375F degrees and prepare skillet.
  4. Prepare 12" skillet by greasing with shortening or olive oil and sprinkling about 2 Tablespoons of cornmeal on bottom of skillet. Set aside.
  5. Using a stand mixer, mix in remaining flour and salt to yeast mixture, about 5 minutes. Dough will be sticky.
  6. Shape dough into a ball and place into skillet. Spread dough out to cover bottom of skillet.
  7. Cover with a clean, dry dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
  8. Once dough has doubled in size, remove towel and sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons of cornmeal over the top.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is lightly browned.
  10. Remove from oven and serve warm with butter and jam.

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