Vegan Caramel Popcorn

Too often that salty sweet treat is off the table for my lactose intolerant husband. When my son asked if I could make a batch that Daddy could eat, how could I refuse?

Vegan Caramel Popcorn

This recipe is loosely based on one I found at Cooking Light. It includes many of those ingredients you would expect to find: brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. I added some hand harvested French sea salt (Sel de Camargue) and substituted coconut oil for the butter. Coconut oil has a lovely flavor and is my go-to substitute for pistachio brittle. That is, when I'm not using bacon grease for my bacon pecan brittle!

Cooling the hot popcorn before we dig in.

Cooling the hot popcorn before we dig in.

Vegan Caramel Popcorn

Serves 8, recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1 cup popping corn
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

Pop the popping corn according to the directions. 1 cup of un-popped pop corn, will make approximately 16 cups of popped popcorn. Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 250 F. Lightly grease a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup and sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Mixture will bubble vigorously.

Pour the hot mixture over the popcorn, coating thoroughly. Pour the popcorn on the greased sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes to ensure even coating.

Once cooked, pour the hot popcorn onto parchment paper and let cool for 15 minutes. Will keep for up to a week when stored in a cool, dry place.

 

Sesame Maple Tofu

This one is a breeze of a recipe to pull together on a weeknight. I usually press the tofu during the day while I'm at work, then slice and marinate it for 15 minutes before searing. It's awesome with rice, or noodles, or even just served with an easy salad and a green veg. I love the subtle sweetness provided by the maple syrup. In a pinch you could use agave or honey as a substitute.

An easy weeknight tofu dish that everyone in the family will enjoy.

An easy weeknight tofu dish that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Sesame Maple Tofu

Adapted from Book of Yum

serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of firm tofu 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for cooking tofu)
Sesame Maple Tofu is great over rice or bean thread noodles.

Sesame Maple Tofu is great over rice or bean thread noodles.

Directions

Remove tofu from packaging and drain water. Line a plate with paper towels, place tofu on top of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and place a second plate on top of the tofu. Weight the second plate with canned goods or other heavy (stable) items. Press tofu for at least 30 minutes (un-refrigerated is fine), or up to 10 hours refrigerated. I do this before I head out to work. Pressing the tofu removes excess moisture, allowing the tofu to suck up the flavorful marinade.

In a wide dish, mix together marinade ingredients (soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic). Cut tofu block in half length wise, and diagonally in the center to create 4 large triangles (see pictures). Place tofu in marinade in one layer and marinate between 15-30 minutes. Preheat a nonstick skillet with vegetable oil over medium high heat. Gently dry off the tofu with another paper towel to ensure a good sear. Sear tofu on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot or warm. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. Just remember not to "crowd" the pan. Sear in batches so you get it right!

Cauliflower "Rice" Perfected

All the testing is done. I've made all the mistakes that you might have and now you can follow my tips and this recipe and get it right from the start. 

cauliflower rice

1. Use your food processor's shredding blade.

I started my recipe testing using the S-shaped blade (Sabatier blade, apparently that's what it's called). I had to process the cauliflower in small batches, pulse each one, then pull out the leftover larger chunks and scoop out the riced cauliflower. Then do it all over again for the next batch. It was tedious. When I switched to the shredding blade, all I did was cut the cauliflower in chunks that fit into the feeder tube, then put them all through the shredder. It was a breeze!

2. Don't let your cauliflower sit.

I'm a big fan of any do-ahead prepping. In the case of cauliflower, the less time before you cook it, the better the flavor and texture. I also found that when I "riced" the cauliflower too far in advance, I lost quite a bit of volume. Even more so than just your normal cooking-veggies-loss-of-volume. 

3. Double the recipe.

Mostly because it's so delicious, but also because like most vegetables, this cauliflower will cook down. See number 2 above.

4. Get creative.

I know you've seen the cool recipes. Cauliflower can handle some strong and interesting flavors, think buffalo cauliflower bites, cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower cheesy tots. This cauliflower "rice" can morph into fried rice with a little chicken, some peas, carrots, onion, garlic and soy sauce. Or, a pilaf, by adding some chopped dates and toasted pine nuts. 

cauliflower rice

Cauliflower "rice" pilaf with toasted pine nuts and chopped dates.

Cauliflower "Rice" (Vegan and Gluten-free)

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large head, fresh cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Cut cauliflower into small florets (sized to fit through your food processor's feeder tube). Attach the shredding blade to your food processor and feed the head of cauliflower through to "rice" it. Preheat a large non-stick saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the "riced" cauliflower over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kosher salt and check for seasonings. Serve hot or warm.