Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birthday Love

On the first of September was my wonderful friend Angela's birthday and her cake of choice was simply a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Although, this lady is not vegan... I am, so Angela got a vegan cake atop my great grandmother's cake stand. I surmounted to this vanilla cake recipe and was quite impressed with the texture and density of the cake. We nibbled away at this cake slowly, bearing in mind that we had just finished a deluxe lasagna dinner.
Secondly, was my dear sister, Emily. Considering it was a Swedish themed joint birthday with a friend of hers at a bar, Emily decided on cookies. Easy to share and tasty too! I prepared a Lemon Currant Sugar cookie, along with a Cardamom Chocolate Chip cookie. The Swedes are definetely big on their cardamom and currants. The birthday girls enjoyed these tasty bits of goodness over beer and more beer. Cheers!
Lastly, my man Jonathan. I'm always super excited to make his birthday treats because they are a huge challenge and some of my favorite flavors too. He likes peanut butter, chocolate, nuts, cookies, ice cream, cake, mousse and just about anything that contains sugar. So really I can't go wrong with Jonathan's dessert. I was planning on making a cake, but looked at the time and quickly re-strategized. I whipped up a Chocolate Peanut Butter Salty Caramel Cookie Tart. Did I get it all? I started off with a cookie crumb crust, followed by layers of peanut butter mousse, chocolate chunks, chocolate caramel ganache and salted mixed nuts. Our friends enjoyed this over a couple of whiskey drinks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recipe Organization

So I have organized my recipes that I have invented over the past 8 months and I have over 60! So excited, to send them off to someone whom can publish them...I can't decide whether to do an ebook or a regular book. Although the ebooks are offering so many options and ways to be "green", I really love my stack of cookbooks too. Hmmm. The tech industry contributes so much to waste and regular books use many trees. So I will investigate further and someday you all will see my book whether it's on a tiny screen or right on the bookshelf. If any of you have ideas or opinions on what I should do, please let me know!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hempalicious!

The beloved hemp plant known for so much more than it's exquisite protein concentrate, is one of my new favorite additives. If you haven't noticed I'm a bit of a health nut and like to add nutrition where ever I can, even if it is in a cookie! Yes, thats right I have been adding hemp protein powder and hemp-seeds to my favorite cookie recipes for some extra substance. This way I can eat a cookie for breakfast and who doesn't love to do that. I would way rather have a cookie for breakfast, than a cliche protein shake.
Hemp is a plant-based protein that stays with you for hours so you can keep on, keepin on. I enjoyed a Cocoa Ginger cookie for breakfast recently that I had replaced 1/2 of a cup of flour with hemp protein powder. It has a certain grainy/nutty flavor to it, but can barely be tasted. After eating these cookies and a cup of coffee I was ready to combat the world! Don't worry I didn't, but I could have :) If you are new to hemp protein I would start by substituting 1/4 cup flour for protein. It is an acquired taste, but you will definitely reap the benefits. Remember your strong body needs protein and carbs to build muscle and sustain energy, so enjoy this tip. See you in the kitchen!

Delicious Lemon Blueberry Tart

The more I cook for myself and friends at home the more it occurs to me how I really love making my own food. This tart was recent discovery... I have been to many a restaurants and have been endlessly disappointed with vegan desserts. Especially, traditionally egg based desserts, such as lemon curd. I love tofu, but it is never a good thing when you can taste it in your slice of pie. Ewww. I do believe that there are some things that just shouldn't be vegan, but after this recipe Lemon Tart is not one of them
So this perfect for summer recipe boggled my palate with it's intense lemon flavor and oh so smooth not-tofu-ee texture. Hope you enjoy and Happy Summer!


Luscious Lemon Tart

Crust:
1 1/2 cups whole grain flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cold water

Mix flour, salt and sugar together. Cut coconut oil into the dry mix until crumbly. Gently work in cold water until the dough comes together. Roll out, and place in pan(s) and put in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, while you make the filling.

Lemon Filling:

1 cup silken tofu
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
2 1/2 T. cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup lemon juice

In a food processor or blender puree tofu until smooth, about 1 minute. Add your powdered sugar and granulated sugar and process for another minute, scraping down the sides when needed. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into cooled tart shell and place in you pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. The filling should jiggle like jello when it is ready. Add your favorite berries on top and let cool. Serve with a dash of powdered sugar and maybe a couple more berries. Enjoy and see you in the kitchen!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pico de Gallo



Summer is always the best time to munch on chips and salsa. Whether it's poolside, at a BBQ or sharing a drink with friends this snack always satisfies. Here is my recipe for Pico de Gallo, it's simple, fresh and sure to please. Serve it with multi grain chips and it's a winner!
Pico, Pico, Pico!

Chop:
6 Roma tomatoes
1/2 a large white onion
1/2 a jalapeno
1/2 a bunch of cilantro
Add:
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. minced garlic

Mix it altogether and enjoy! Don't forget to wash your cilantro thoroughly, since sand gets trapped in the leaves. Also, use the stems of the cilantro as well as the leaves. They pack a lot of flavor. If you don't have time to chop all these ingredients, just simply throw them in the blender or food processor. Ahh, so easy! See you in the kitchen.

Pan Fried Cilantro Rice Cakes with a Creamy Chipotle Sauce

This experiment was not only vegan, but gluten free too! The rice cakes were delicious as an accompaniment to a salad and as a base in a sandwich. Hope you enjoy the picture! See you in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Super Easy Bean Dip!




Here is a seriously easy white bean dip to prepare for your next party. You can also spread it on bread for bruschetta! Enjoy!

To start:
2 onions, roughly chopped
10 small leaves of sage
1- 15oz. can of white beans, drained
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Cook: Heat a medium skillet on med-hi heat with 1 T. oil. Place chopped onions in the skillet and stir/flip onions until caramel in color. You may turn the heat down to medium, be sure not to burn the onions. Also, adding a bit of water will help accomplish color. Place all ingredients including the onions in the food processor. Pulse, pulse, pulse and blend until smooth. Add more salt and pepper if you like. Just remember if you are preparing this for a crowd, they might be sensitive to salt and pepper taste. The following mixture tastes simply scrumptious on top of this dip.

Tomato Topping: 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup roasted red peppers

Roughly chop the tomatoes and peppers together and apply as garnish. Enjoy and see you in the kitchen!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spicy Cuban Black Beans and Cilantro Coconut Basmati Rice

A few nights ago I made this wonderfully spicy dish and invited my sister over. Luckily, she likes spice. I was a bit worried after I added my 3 chipotle peppers to my beans. OOoeee they were hot! Fortunately, the mango puree and coconut rice balanced it all out. To add a little crunch I made a Tahini dressed Napa Cabbage Coleslaw. Add some ethnic flare to your favorite grain or legume for an excellent treat.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Sweet Brandy Apple Hazelnut Tart!


On each of my days off from work I wake up and think of what else then...food. I even dream about food! So, last Wednesesday I woke up to the thought of my silver square tart pan given to me by my grandparents this last Christmas. I love it, but definitely forget about it cooped up in my oven side cupboard. Then I closed my eyes again, rolled over and thought of sweetening a pie dough with raisins, then came my brandy thought :) Yes, brandy thoughts at 8 am. What goes well with the sweetness and dense flavor of raisins, and not to mention the soft yet deep notes of brandy? Apples of course!
I began with the making of the crust. I enjoy putting flaxseed meal in pie doughs to add more fatty flavor and to ensure the dough stays together. Also, it is just a healthy additive. I don't like using vegan margarine because of it's excessive amounts of un-sustainably harvested palm oil and Crisco is filled with GMO related products and icky hydrogenated oils. So, instead I used properly harvested coconut oil and a blend of raisin puree and flaxseed meal. The dough came together very well, even with the large ratio of hazelnut meal. I blind baked it for 17 minutes then cooled and awaited the arrival of the delicious apple filling.
Yes I realize apples are not in season, but luckily Washington apples keep very well through to the spring. Despite the price of the 2 giant apples I got, they were the perfect choice. There was no way I was gonna buy a Chilean apple for cheaper! Anyways, I sauteed the peeled and cored Fuji apples in coconut oil, brandy and molasses. When tender I neatly layered them on my previously blind-baked crust. Popped it in the oven and voila! Ready to serve! My house smelled of toasted hazelnuts with hints of raisin and molasses. I shared this tart with my sister, Emily and boyfriend, Jon. Emily liked it so much she came back for seconds the next day. We topped our servings with coconut cream. I do have to say the next night we ate it with chocolate and coffee soy ice cream and that was a great accompaniment as well.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Whoa! Lots and lots of Garlic!


For my friday night dinner alone I decided on Italian food. I wanted something with tomato and garlic, of course. I made myself a creamy sauce consisting of potatoes, cauliflower and garlic. It looked much like an alfredo sauce, until I added the tomato paste.
First, I placed roughly chopped potatoes, onion, cauliflower and garlic cloves in a pot with boiling water. After all the contents of the pot were softly cooked, I strained them, saving the liquid, and placed them in my food processor. Pulse, pulse, pulse, then blended till smooth and silky. I added small amounts of the remaining water throughout the blending to produce the right consistency. Next, I added a bit of tomato paste and a couple more garlic cloves, along with a dash of rich olive oil. There it was a steaming smooth and oh so garlicky sauce ready to lay atop my bed of spinach and quinoa linguine. I added the sun-dried tomatoes to the sides and I was finished. Hope you enjoy the idea and see you in the kitchen!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chana Dal




On this fabulous rainy day in Portland I decided to warm up with some Indian spice. I purchased a bag of Chana Dal from work not to long ago, and it has been sitting in my pantry screaming at me to use it. Chana Dal is sort of like a small chickpea. Actually it is a black chickpea with the skin removed, then split. They look like yellow split peas, but have the texture of a chickpea. Unlike split peas, this legume does not boil down to mush, which is why I like them so much. Chana Dal does stay whole after fully cooked, but releases starches that thicken the soup.
Chana Dal beans take from 20 minutes to an hour to cook, depending on if you soak them beforehand. They are available wherever Bob's Red Mill products are sold, as well as at Indian groceries. You may also find them in many stores bulk bins. They have a whopping 17 grams of fiber per serving and not to mention 19 grams of protein. They are high in complex carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C. For all you diabetics, Chana Dal has a very low glycemic index too, considering how many complex carbohydrates and grams of protein they have. Check out this guys diabetic story. Why wouldn't you want to eat these lucious legumes.
To cook Chana Dal I started by measuring out my spices. This consisted of black mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne. With coconut oil hot and ready in the pot, I added the mustard seeds and let them start popping. No they don't make popcorn, but they do sound like it. Mustard seeds must pop to release their delicious flavors and aroma. After they stopped popping I added the rest of the spices then the beans. Stir, stir, stir. Then I submerged them in water and let it all boil and come together. After about an hour, give or take, I lifted the lid of the pot and was amazed at the color and aroma. MMmm smelled so good. To accompany my Chana Dal I made Saffron Brown Basmati Rice with Green Peas. Lastly, I topped the two with chopped tomatoes and onions. This was very comforting on this dreary rainy day. Hope you all have a great day and see you in the kitchen!



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Balsamic Quinoa, Black Olives, Italian Kale, Toasted Salty Pepitas and Coarse Ground Pepper


Yes it's been a while and I'm sure y'all are sick of looking at that damn Beet Carpaccio. I have been making recipes, just haven't found the time to post them. Here are two other blogs I am contributing to: The Foodie Foursome and Bob's Red Mill Bakery Blog. I hope you enjoy them all! Here is a dish I enjoyed the other night while watching the pouring rain from inside, where I was cozzily wrapped in my faux fur blanket.
It all started with a cold walk to the store to pick up some black olives. I knew I wanted something with Mediterranean flavors, as well as, some protein fortified quinoa. Why not cook my quinoa with tangy balsamic! I cooked 2 cups dry quinoa with 1 3/4 cups water, 1/4 cup balsamic vineagar and about two tablespoons olive oil. Cooked for 20 minutes, just like rice, and there it was fluffy and oh so fragrant! I then steamed the kale and prepared my other ingredients. A bed of steaming quinoa topped with ground pepper, a bit of salt, kale, black olives and lastly, salty pepitas! If you haven't tried quinoa yet, I highly suggest you do. Let me know if you need any suggestions on ways to prepare it. See you in the kitchen!

Friday, May 7, 2010

$$$$$

I feel like an old woman saying this, but I cannot believe the price of food these days. I almost always buy organic and am just appalled by how much a crown of broccoli or a head of lettuce cost. It is understood that once the demand for organic produce goes up there will be more supply, making it easier on our wallets. I repeatedly tell myself that I am doing a good thing by purchasing organic for the earth and for my body. I want to be part of the "change" that is evolving. I definitely would rather fill my body with naturally grown produce, then pesticide laden fare anyways. Even if you wash a piece of fruit the influence of the chemicals is still prevalent in the fruit and the toll it took on the dirt. So as I sit on my couch devising my dinner menu for the next 2 weeks, I ensue the idea of a food budget as well. I have always heard, "write a list", and yes this is important. More often then not you will buy significantly less if you have that god forsaken list handy while shopping. I also like to shop with a calculator. My love of numbers combined with my love of food makes a trip to the market quite fun. I find myself punching in the $11.00 bottle of wine, then biting my lip and sighing and simply putting it back. When you see the whole picture/total bill you might think twice about those un-needed items. I'm not saying give up on all your loves, whether it is chocolate, wine or for me, olives. All I am saying is that your afternoon glass of vino will taste just as good the next day, if not better, if you moderate your intake. It goes hand and hand with weight loss, a chocolate brownie fudge sundae will taste just as good if you eat it once a week, rather than daily. The impulse and spontaneity naturally excites us humans, but to survive you have to learn to moderate.
Right now is a good time to learn to budget your food with the price of food expected to soar another 5% by next year. Plant a garden, go to the farmer's market, buy local, stock up on dry goods, cut coupons, look at ads, go where the sales are and don't forget your list! I want all to recognize that buying local or organic is the way to go. When you think about it, what sense does it make flying food hundreds or thousands of miles to get to us. We need farms surrounding citites and the people of the city supporting the farms. Though organic and local foods are not considered the cheapest, if you take part in this food revolution that is happening today, then maybe they won't be. Another idea for lowering your food cost is to simply put your portion size in check. It is loudly known that America has giant portions. Sometimes I get a bit irritated by this stereotype, but it is what we make it. Food is our nourishment, it was made to support our bodies and give us the vitality we need to live. So when you are planning a meal think of that. A classic example is the food pyramid. Remember, serving sizes are the size of your fist, not your plate. Check this: a serving of whole grains is equal to one slice of bread of a 1/2 cup of pasta. You might not need as much grub as you think. If you are overweight think of how much your food bill is and slash it by a 1/3 and thats what it would be like if you were a couple pounds lighter. Dr. Oz just had an episode showing how expensive it is to be overweight. Just based on the food intake and medical bills due to illness connected with obesity.
Lastly, I must say something about the price of meat. Vegan shopping is much cheaper than omnivore shopping. I have forgotten what the cost of a brick of cheese is, let alone the unknown price of a T-bone or a pound of chicken breast. I've looked and know that those items wouldn't fit into my budget. When you buy whole foods such as brown rice, french lentils or pinto beans you open up many possibilities and save a lot of money on your protein. Dried legumes also have a very long shelf life. I have also found buying some vegetables frozen, particulary ones that are not in season, can lower your bill too! Not only are they cheap and offered in organic, but are often found to be more nutritious. I can proudly say our 2-week grocery bill for 2 was just $98.00. We shopped around and even bought beer!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beet Carpaccio


Carpaccio(kahr-PAH-chee-oh) is an Italian originated appetizer usually consisting of thinly sliced raw beef filet and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. So, naturally I cheated and used a vegetable, such as beets, that looked sort of like the traditional dish. It's normally plated on a larger plate, layered and all spread out. Instead using small plates, I constructed it a bit taller. I figure I am already offending the Italians by using beets, so might as well make it look completely different. Anyways, I love the rich color and distinct flavor of beets. Many say that they taste like dirt and I might have to agree with them, but I must just love dirt flavor. My favorite way to eat them is pickled with olive oil and salt. For the Carpaccio, I par-cooked one giant beet bulb in a blend of pickling spice and lemon rind. I then drained the liquid and cooled the beet quickly with cold water and ice. Thinly sliced and layered with a sprinkle of kosher salt, a drizzle of olive oil and finished with finely zested orange and lime rind. Served up as part of the salad course, this Beet Carpaccio is sure to impress. I even got Jonathan(once a beet hater) to eat it and even tell me he that he enjoyed it. I followed this dish with a Mixed Green Balsamic Salad, then an entree of Coconut Walnut Crusted Tofu with Brown Basmati Coconut Rice and Braised Baby Bok Choy and ended with a delicious dessert of Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Ice Cream.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

~It's a Soup Day~



HHmmmm what kind of soup to make.... I have thought all day about minestrone soup, but do not have all the ingredients or the desire to leave my abode in a thunder storm such as this one. So what is there lurking in my pantry. Aha! Tonight's dinner is a Kidney Bean Tomato Potato Broccoli Soup. How it began: I cooked off kidney beans last night, broccoli florets in the freezer and one lonely russet potato on the counter. I love tomato based soups, so call the boyfriend for a canned tomato pick up. He is on his way. As you can see above, this soup started with olive oil, a julienne onion, chopped garlic, diced potato and garden-picked rosemary. One thing that makes this soup different from others, is the yellow mustard. The heat of the mustard goes great with the acidity of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the kidney beans. Try it in your next soup, you might just love it! Save a trip to the store and hopefully you can rummage up something delicious from your pantry. Use what you have and see how creative you actually are.

A couple of fun history facts about soup. The first type of soup dates back to 6,000 B.C. Then, the soups were not boiled. It wasn't until about 9,000 years ago that soups were boiled and they were cooked in animal skins or clay. MMmm animal skin flavor, my favorite! Very thankful for my stainless steel pot. So the soup night was successful and I didn't even have to skin an animal. Hah! Enjoyed a bowl of warm soup with toasted homemade whole wheat olive oil bread and a cold beer. See you in the kitchen!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cinnamon Nutty Buns


These delicious little buns were made for my family at our Easter brunch. They were such a big hit I thought I should post the recipe for all of you to enjoy. The best part about this recipe is that it can be done and in the oven in 15 minutes or less!

Here is what you need:
  • 1-1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
Combine in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

  • 3/4 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 package dry active yeast= 2-1/4 t.
  • 1/3 cup oil
Mix together and let sit for 3-4 minutes. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until you can knead on the counter. Knead for about a minute, folding the dough into itself. When dough is combined and still pliable, with a rolling pin make a foot long by six inch rectangle. Now you are ready for the filling!

  • 1/4 cup oil
Pour and rub evenly over dough rectangle.
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup your choice of chopped nuts
  • zest of 1 lemon (save the juice)
Sprinkle brown sugar, chopped nuts and zest over the oiled dough. Now that all your ingredients are on the dough begin to roll tightly length wise. You should get 8-10 rolls out of this. Place in an oven safe pan with a ridge so the juices won't drip down. A cookie sheet with small sides works great. Place pan in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. They will feel particularly soft, so if you are unsure check the middle to insure doneness. After pan is out of the oven, coat with the following glaze.
  • Juice of leftover lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Whisk together until there are no lumps and drizzle over hot rolls. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and enjoy! These rolls stay soft and tasty for up to 4 days.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Experimental Vegan

After a great night out, there is nothing better than that certain someone making you breakfast. My boyfriend Jonathan made a hearty array of panfried tempeh, corn grits and toast. Coming from Alabama, he is the master of corn grits. We accompanied this meal with a spirulina berry smoothie and super-antioxidant green tea. He has been experimenting with the vegan diet the past 2 weeks, mainly to see if he can loose weight and just to see how he feels. Being a pastry chef, this diet has certainly cut back on the sweet snacks at work being that they all have animal by products in them. Although he admits most of his curiosity stems from my energy about the vegan diet, I think a lot of his interest comes from hearing individual's overall health success on this particular diet. It really is quite amazing the way the vegan diet can add years to people's life. Check out the meat- eating cowboy turned vegan! Awesome and interesting!

Not having a scale, we are unsure of the pounds that he has lost, but Jonathan has noticed his pants are starting to fit a bit easier. He has defenitely come to fathom the art of healthy snacking. His favorite snack is popcorn seasoned with nutritional yeast and salt. Although, I have seen Jonathan as a popcorn addict for our entire relationship, he has emphasized his excitement for this yeasty snack. Nuts and dried fruit are also a perfect snack to keep you going through the day. Protein and fat from the nuts provide long term energy and the sugar in the fruit gives you a quick raise in your blood sugar. I hope you can start snacking well with these tips. I get really excited for people's curiousity and wish I could feed everyone delicious and nutritious vegan food. Hope your day has been beautiful! See you in the kitchen!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

~HaPpY HoUr~


Since moving to Portland I can now fully understand my love of happy hour. Not only do you get to eat cheap food, but you get to start drinking right after work. Portland being known for it's bars, strip clubs and great food, naturally have killer happy hours. Luckily, with the high vegan population I usually have a wide variety of snacks to choose from. The one thing I don't enjoy about this hour of fun is the check at the end. Yeah, you saved a buck or two on those martinis you crushed down, but the point is... you did buy 5? Hmmmm.

So after spending dollars at area eateries I did what I usually do; go home and make it myself. Not only can it be cheaper, but healthier and sometimes even more festive. Today, my happy hour consisted of whiskey gingers, sweet potato fries with a pickled onion aioli, roasted garlic stuffed zucchini bites and bbq triple bean burgers. Be creative and social and invent a happy hour of your own flavor! See you in the kitchen!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Broccoli, Tofu and Potato Curry with a side of Onion Chapati


Tonight was a grand adventure into South Indian cooking. I made a traditional vegetable curry stew but with an uncommon use of broccoli, in place of the commonly used cauliflower. I seasoned and baked the tofu to make a chewy, yet tender texture and left the potatoes with the broccoli on the stovetop imersered amongst tumeric, tomato paste and coriander.While I tended to the main dish, Jonny constructed a sensationally satisfying onion chapati. Also known as, "roti" which is bread, chapati is normally made of whole meal or whole grain flour. We used whole wheat flour, with roughly chopped shallots and rather than ghee, olive oil. Many Indian breads are made yeast-free, which is great if you have a yeast allergy. After about 20 minutes of stirring, starring and tasting, I had a fabulous curry served atop a bed of quinoa.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Things to Look Forward To...

~Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

~Beet Carpaccio

~Veg- Happy Hour

~The boyfriend going vegan...?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Salad Toppers with a Protein Punch!

Lately, I have been craving just about every raw veggie known to man, dressed with a homemade vinaigrette and topped with some flavor and substance. Yes this does sound quite cliche coming from a vegan , who does only eat plants... but I don't normally eat salads for every meal. I promise. So my sudden excitement for salad has brought me to experiment with proteins amongst my salad bowl. There are plenty of proteins to place atop a fiasco of greens ,such as seared tempeh, baked tofu, braised seitan, or simply beans. On the contrary, I have been enjoying the quick no-cook kind. My favorite has been my very own trail mix. The peanuts, pepitas and cashews pack protein, vitamins and healthy fats. Oh, and the dried pineapple, raisins and pretzel bits add a good "chew", and salty crunch. Here are a couple more quick salad fixers: sunflower seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, soynuts or flax seeds. Jazz up your next salad with these favorites and see for yourself the fabulous punch of energy and satisfaction! Please share with me your favorite salad toppers. See you in the kitchen!

Tangy Cilantro Salad Dressing

Why buy dressing at the store when you can make one at home with no weird additives. Yes I understand the convenience of salad dressings at the store, but if you can find the time just make it yourself. You will find them to be delicious and the greatest part is you can add whatever you want. You get to construct the flavors and calorie content. Here is a great recipe that not only goes well on greens but on beans and corn or even used as a dipping sauce!

You will need:
1/2 a bunch of cilantro (chopped, stems and all)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or other blending device and puree till smooth. With blender on low, slowly add olive oil until completely combined and shiny. This method emulsifies the oil into the dressing making it not separate. If you are using a closed top device you may add the olive oil all at once, then blend together. You just will have to shake it before serving. Keeps for about 2 weeks in refrigerator and makes about a cup.

Modifications: If you are trying to cut back on your sodium you may completely omit the salt. You will still have a delicious dressing!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Veggie Tamale Casserole


Growing up I was weirdly jealous of other children's casseroles. I don't remember ever really having a casserole. The closest we came was an array of flavors and colors in a cast iron skillet. Is that considered a casserole? A casserole is described as a large deep serving vessel filled and baked in the oven. The idea being that you don't have to transfer the food to a different dish before serving. So mom's cast iron creations were sort of like a casserole? I was always envious of Tater Tot and Macaroni casserole, with the crushed saltines on top. Quite hilarious for me thinking about this now, I don't know why it was so interesting. So now here I am writing about casseroles and just made an awesome recipe for a Veggie Tamale Recipe. I was so excited to make a "One Pot Wonder" in my grandmother's old Swedish beans casserole dish. I started by making my polenta, while that was cooking I sautéed green and red peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, broccoli and jalapeno. After this was finished I layered polenta, veggie mixture and black and pinto beans and popped it in the oven. My friend Natsumi showed up to my house starving and just in time for the casserole to hit the table. I served it up with some lime cilantro coleslaw, salsa and sliced avocado. My first official casserole done and quite nice!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eat with Chopsticks


After a night at a friends house, I found that eating with chopsticks definitely makes me eat slower and really think about every bite. It is nice to savor every morsel and not to mention recognize the complexity of flavors. Also, they come with so many pretty patterns to choose from. So there I was standing in the Asian market with a basket full of goodies. I had walked in planning to make some sort of broth- based Thai soup and left with close to that, but better, lemon grass spicy veggie rice noodle soup fix-ins. I was tantalized by the tiny key limes, giant fresh stalks of lemon grass and frugal bouquets of fresh Thai basil and mint. I was so excited to slurp up some spicy broth and tong some yummy noodles with my pretty new chopsticks. Asian clear broth based soups are usually served by placing the cooked noodles, seasoned and pan-fried tofu and steamed or stir-fried veggies in the soup bowl, then topped with the steaming broth. This makes for perfect portions of the variety of vegetables you will be using and plenty of noodles and tofu. I served this steamy soup with a condiment plate of quartered key limes, sweet crunchy peanuts and fresh basil and mint leaves. There was something amazingly comforting about this meal. Loved it! I even ate this soup cold the next day for lunch, it was really good.

Friday, February 26, 2010

RRRuuuummmm Balls


My first experience with rum balls was working at the Davenport Hotel. I saw my chef roughly crumbling last weeks german chocolate cake into the mixer. Old cake did nothing for me, but then, came the pouring of rum and grand marnier, this definetely caught my attention. My 18 year old illegal nostrils needed to know what the heck was going on in that mixing bowl. I stopped what I was doing and curiously moved closer, suddenly he poured melted dark chocolate and orange zest in. A... yumm?! So, there it is rum balls consist of dry old cake, rum, sugar, chocolate and sometimes butter. The cake crumbs soak up the alcohol and chocolate, becoming the perfect moldable substance to roll into truffle-like balls. You may finish them by rolling them in cocoa, sesame seeds, chopped nuts, dipping them in chocolate or my favorite, toasted coconut. For my version I used spiced rum, melted margarine, orange essence, cocoa, a touch of cinnamon, powdered sugar, cake crumbs and then finished with the toasted coconut. They are best if they sit for a couple hours so the flavors can really soak. This is such a great thing to do with those leftover cake edges. See you in the kitchen!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Breakfast of Champions!


Lately, I have been loving Buckwheat Pancakes. The light nutty flavor and slight bitterness pairs excellent with crunchy peanut butter and dark amber maple syrup. Contrary to it's name, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, but a sort of weed that flowers. It started being cultivated in Northern Europe and Asia in the 10th century. Then China and Russia began to mass produce and finally buckwheat was introduced to the United States in the 17th century. In it's native countries buckwheat is commonly cooked as a porridge or in place of oatmeal. Also known as, "Kasha." You may have tried a buckwheat honey, coming from the bees that pollenate the ever so attractive flower. Most recipes using buckwheat are mixed with other flours to compromise a more familiar flavor. Instead, for my pancake recipe I used all buckwheat flour, considering it's extensive health benefits and intriguing flavor. So come on give it a try next sunday morning. You will feel delightfully full and not be in a pancake coma. Yeah!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rosemary Au Gratin Potatoes



For Valentine's Day I wanted to make something rich and creamy to accompany our meal. After a couple laps around the grocery I was obsessed with massive yellow potatoes. I thought, "Yum, when is the last time I had au gratin potatoes?" I think it was at a wedding in a tired chaffing dish that just didn't have enough sterno-power underneath it to be good. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, undercooked or cold potatoes. Really awkward to chew and just plain old nasty. So undoubtedly, I was determined to make a dreamy vegan au gratin potato dish with potatoes that were all the way cooked! Exploring recipes I realized that most dishes are started with thinly sliced raw potatoes and just baked. I'm sure this works great, but I just haven't experienced it yet. So instead to ensure doneness I let the thinly sliced potatoes cook shortly in salted boiling water. After about a minute I strained and finished my vegan roux based creamy rosemary sauce. I layered the potatoes neatly in a cast-iron round and seasoned and sauced every layer. Topped with sliced onion and baked at 400 for about 45 minutes it was pure bubbly goodness! I let it sit for about 10 minutes, then sliced into it like a pie. My valentine and I enjoyed this together. Yeah!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


When my family moved up to the country, I also got moved closer to one of my best friends. Her mother was a great baker and I loved eating her french silk pie, cornbread and my favorite, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Sorting through my millions of unmarked recipes I found this exact cookie recipe. I was so excited to turn it vegan and omit all white flours. So here it is, I used the amazing chia seeds for the egg replacement and whole wheat pastry flour in place of the white flour. Not only does this replacement make for a lower fat cookie, but a jump in the amount of fiber. If you have not experienced chia seeds yet, it is time. If it is so unfortunate that you cannot find chia seeds you may use any egg substitute equal to 2 eggs. Hope you enjoy the recipe, see you in the kitchen!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup margarine(non hydrogenated and non dairy)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 T. chia seeds mixed with 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups WW pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. scant baking soda( just short of a teaspoon)
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 package chocolate chips

First off measure your chia seeds and water and stir. Set aside, as you will see them form tapioca like orbs around each seed. Meanwhile, cream the sugars and margarine together with your paddle attachment. Scrape down sides of bowl a couple times incorporating completely. You should see little or no evidence of sugar crystals in the margarine. While mixer is stopped add chia seed mixture and vanilla. Mix on medium for about a minute and scrape down twice. Add all your dry ingredients except for chocolate chips and combine on low speed. Scrape down sides and mix again. Feel free to give a quick jolt of speed to shake flour off of paddle. Add chocolate chips and voila! Ready to scoop, drop and lightly press down on a cookie sheet in your preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 7-11 minutes, cookies should look a bit domed and not shiny. This recipe makes 3-4 dozen cookies and freezes well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nacho Mama!


Since I have been a vegan I have longed for some cheesy nachos. The kind you can find as an appetizer at a Mexican restaurant or those mounds of goodness you find at happy hour. Experimenting with different sauces and flavors I have found that the creaminess of a fusion of nuts, the tanginess of apple cider vineagar and the "cheesiness" of nutritional yeast hits the spot. This sauce does kind of look similar to that mystery hue of Tang substance that siphons itself out of a bag at many of your local gas stations. Definitely not my favorite, thank goodness you can pronounce the ingredients that are in mine. Made much like the pasta sauce that I posted you simmer and soften the ingredients and puree till smooth. For the protein, instead of just beans I used a mixture of a chipotle vegan sausage pan-fried with whole pinto beans and finished with cumin and lime. Smothered and layered salty corn chips, cilantro, black olives and a side of steamed kale, it was to die for. The best part was I didn't feel like I gained 30 pounds after I ate it. I was sincerely satisfied!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wasabi Truffles


So for my friend Nastumi's birthday party I made truffles. She loves spicy chocolate, but I am a little over red chilies and chocolate right now. What is more Japanese than wasabi! A man once explained wasabi's spice to my mother and I as it warming your face rather than burning your throat. This is very true, it slowly rises through your sinuses. Mmmmm. Love it. One memory always comes to mind when talking about wasabi. The family was down at Disneyland for our annual family vacation and my uncle had picked up some sushi for a picnic. All of us crowded around the table excited to finally eat after a long day in amusement world. Me scarfing in silence peered over to my mothers cherry red face, eyes looking as if they were gonna fall out onto the table. She started breathing loudly and sticking here tongue out and hoarsely said, "whoooaa, not guacamole." Her first bite after opening the rectangular container had been the half inch cube of wasabi properly placed on the nori rolls. Everyone started laughing till tears, but still engaging my mother with concern. It was hilarious.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Braised Tempeh beside Mixed Greens with Balsamic, Carmelized Onion and Pear



Tempeh is made from cultured and fermented soybeans that naturally form a cake. The fermentation process allows the soybeans to stay whole, in turn providing a higher protein and vitamin content than tofu. My favorite is the five grain and flax. You can find it right next to the tofu in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. My favorite way to cook tempeh is to simply pan fry both sides then immerse in broth and place in a preheated oven until the liquid is soaked up into the tempeh. I have found this method to be easy on digestion as well as just delicious and flavorful. Hope you all will give it a try!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mush, Mush, Mushrooms!!


I never really appreciated mushrooms until recently. I think it's the texture that has always pushed me away. They are normally described as "meaty," which for some reason has never appealed to me. Hmmm? Anyways, there I was last night munching on raw criminis. Oh how delicious they are! I made a Mushroom Sherry Thyme Sauce to go over my Braised Tempeh and mashed Rosemary potatoes. This was served up with roasted brussel sprouts tossed in olive oil and fresh herbs. I was very satisfied with the sauce and the wonderful flavor that the sherry gave the criminis.
As versatile as mushrooms are I think the most irritating thing is the infamous Portobello Mushroom Sandwich that is offered to vegans and vegetarians at many esablishments. When in doubt feed the vegan mushrooms! Don't get me wrong they are sometimes delicious, but very unimaginative. I do think that this is the reason I steered clear of mushrooms for so long, because I thought they all tasted like a portobello. There is such a variety and so many to be tried, so think outside the box next time you are in the produce section. You will be surprised what you come up with. Remember mushrooms work like a sponge when cooked so you can pick what you want them to taste like. See you in the kitchen!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup


After a long day at the bakery I came home and was in the mood for more soup. The rain pelting down on the skylight above the stove confirmed my craving. Opened the cupboard and what did I see red lentils staring back at me. Lentils are great because they are ready in an hour or less! Here is the recipe that I concocted today! If these spices are not readily available, use curry powder or make your own mixture.

Begin with:
  • 1 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/2 T. red chili paste
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1- 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. ground fenugreek
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. coriander
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
Directions: In a medium sized pot combine lentils, chili paste, water and milk. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add spices and whisk to combine completely. Keep heat on low until lentils are fully cooked and soup has thickened, about 25 more minutes. After that the soup is ready to be served. Serve with drops or swirls of coconut milk on top and maybe a few green onions. Makes about 3 cups. See you in the kitchen!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Black Bean Soup


Black beans are probably one of my favorite beans. They are so diverse to use and have such great texture. These luscious legumes are the staple of cuisines around the world including Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Brazil.
Did you know that one serving of black beans has 10 times the antioxidant value in that of an orange? Black beans also give you vital energy, stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, replenish iron storage and lower your risk of heart attack! Not only are they healthy but delicious too! The soup that I made began with sauteed onions and garlic, then I added flavors of cumin, dill and cinnamon and finished with pureed and whole black beans. I will post this recipe soon I just have a bit of editing to do. Hope this makes y'all want to cook up some beans!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Cashew Sauce

You will need:
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes(unsoaked, dry)
6 oz. roasted and salted cashews
1/2 of a yellow onion, roughly chopped
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
Water

Directions: Place sun-dried tomatoes, onion and cashews in medium sized pot. Cover with water until water is 1 inch over ingredients. Bring to boil and let simmer for 15 minutes or until sun-dried tomatoes are softened and cashews are plump. Take away from the burner and let cool for about 10 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes. Use an immersion blender, blender or food processor to puree till perfection! Be careful when blending warm liquids in the blender. Do not fill too full. You should not see any chunks of cashews. Add water to desired consistency and seasonings to your pleasing. Serve over your favorite pasta with a handful of spinach. Keeps for 4-7 days.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Have any questions?? Need ideas??

I will post recipes soon and feel free to ask questions. I am also good at throwing out ideas for meals if you have some ingredients lying around that you don't know what to do with. In addition, if you need help with egg replacers, vegan baking advice or flavor pairings I'm here!

Pizza with Dad



This last Tuesday my dad arrived in Portland to go to the Steve Earle concert and to work on his pizza skills. My boyfriend Jonathan is an excellent pizza maker, so he taught him the ropes. They made a whole wheat pizza dough with an assortment of toppings. Me, being the only vegan present made a delicious and almost overstuffed calzone. Inside consisted of sauteed crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, tangy tomato sauce, crumbled and seasoned herb tofu, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and lastly, fresh basil. Heavily brushed with olive oil, this crispy calzone was officially awesome. Good job dad you made some good looking pizzas!

Last Night's Fiesta!



Had a fabulous taco night last night. I made Cilantro Lime Brown Basmati Rice and Refried Red Pepper Garbanzo Beans to accompany our taco topping platter. Mmmm I love Mexican food!

Protein?

Being a veg for life I have heard a lot of, "Well what do you eat?" Especially in elementary when mom would pack seaweed snacks and a bean burrito. Back then it was more, "Ewwwh, what's that". A bit different from my classmates handi-snacks(which I was always jealous of until I tried one). Anyways, the most popular question is often said with quite concern, "What about protein?" This is a common concern among all humans not just vegans. One needs to plan meals and be able to diversify proteins for adequate health. For example, today's protein consisted of pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans and rice, sprouted bread and tempeh. I also ate green leafy vegetables which when paired with another, become a complete protein. The Vegetarian Resource Group has great tables and charts on their website. I understand everyone is busy and might not have time to plan meals, but try to put your health first. The easiest way to eat healthy is to have the right foods accessible. Keep this in mind on your next trip to the grocery store!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Cabbage Rolls



So when making these funny little things I didn't realize the lack of beauty they possessed when finished. I re-plated multiple times until I looked at every picture I could find of cabbage rolls and realized that I wasn't gonna be satisfied with the plating. Oh but they tasted good! The cabbage leaves became perfectly pliable after exactly 3 minutes in salted boiling water. They did not crack at all.
Mainly prepared in Eastern Europe, cabbage rolls are filled with some sort of beef and rice mixture. After researching I found that cabbage rolls are an international treat! Found in Japan with pork and shitake, China, Turkey and even Sweden served with potatoes and lingonberry jam. For a delicious vegan version I used a mashed garbanzo beans, seasoned rice and stewed tomato mixture. A tomato based sauce is preferable, so I made a thin zesty sauce made from pureed tomatoes and seasoned with fresh basil and thyme. With a dollop of vegan sour cream... oh yeah! All my wheat-free peeps this is gluten free too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eggplant Rolls


Last night, I made Seared Eggplant Rolls stuffed with basil, roasted pecans and garlic aioli. I served them atop a Carmelized Onion Polenta Cake and Braised Lacinato Kale. Not only was this dish vegan but gluten free and delicious!

Hello to all and welcome!

So for the next ten months I will be experimenting and refining my very own vegan recipes for my first cookbook. I will post recipes a couple times a month and sometimes upon request. The past month I have been creating recipes just about every night, so expect a lot of pictures! I am doing my own photography and my own food styling for this book so any advice is appreciated. I hope you enjoy all my blog has to offer and I hope all is great in your life. Lastly, please feel free to ask me any questions about vegan cuisine or diet. I'll see you in kitchen!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Agave and Orange Cake


Ooooo, I made a warm and chewy cake consisting of absolutely no refined sugars! I was so excited to dive into this steaming dome of goodness. I baked them in my pretty blue ramekins and un-molded them shortly after the bake was done. Topped with agave sweetened chocolate syrup and berries, oh my!