Today is Sunday, September 29th. Today is a very very special day. Or should I say tonight? Yes, tonight is a very very very special night. Tonight is the season finale of Breaking Bad. It is when three (four?!) years of pain-stakingly frustrating tension is finally resolved (or at least we hope it will be). There is only one problem: we don’t have cable. How did we watch all the other 61 episodes then, you ask? Well you can stream them on the network’s website the followig day after an episode has aired. Which I am usually totally fine with. But this is the season finale of the whole series. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to go into work tomorrow and have to keep my ears shut the whole day. Or spend the next 24 hours avoiding my newsfeeds on facebook and twitter. I want to experience it along with the rest of America.
So, how will I do this, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. But I sure as hell want to be prepared with baked goods when I figure it out. I’m thinking…bribing frineds with these muffins? Or the bartender to turn it to AMC with these little handheld cakes. Or maybe even going over to our new neighbors house and using these muffins as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ peace treaty right when the show is starting (that way I can peep in the door and see if they are watching it. ‘OH! You guys are watching Breaking Bad?! We were just about to put it on. Maybe we should all watch it together. I also have some local cider and whiskey I can bring over, if you’d like….’). You know, those kinds of things.
Oh no. This post was supposed to be a distraction from thinking about Breaking Bad. Okay, what were we talking about before I so rudely changed the subject to a drug-ring-themed-pop-culture-television-drama? Oh yeah, muffins. And not just any muffins – muffins exploding with nutritional benefits like dates (fiber, iron, calcium), bananas (potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C), nutmeg (iron, magnesium, calcium), and carrots (vitamin A). These are nutritional enough for breakfast but satisfying enough for dessert. And even scrumptious enough to bribe your friends with.
This past week has been wonderful. It was my birthday on Wednesday and I’ve been spoiled silly by so many wonderful people. Packages in the mail, trips to the city, visits from my mother, late night dinners. All this positive attention reminded me that I can also spoil myself a little -I decided I was entitled to as much sangria and shortbread as I please during this week. I whipped up a big batch of sangria and peach shortbread last Sunday and spent the week picking away at it. Heck, I even ran out of shortbread by Wednesday and whipped up another batch; this time I whipped up these fig shortbread bars.
Sometimes you are kind of nervous about getting older and the only cure is large amounts of butter and sparkling wine. Oh and having amazing people in your life.
There is so much fall going on around Pinterest these days; I find it to be both appalling and kind of exciting. Maybe it’s this streak of 90 degree weather or my longing for copious amounts of curry in my stomach or the desire to wear knee high socks but I am feeling ready for it. [Heck, maybe I even already bought a can of organic pumpkin for vegan fall baking].
My brain feels so fried from this heat that I’ve managed to stumble into a mundane food routine of salads for lunch and veggie sandwiches for dinner. That is about it….Well, almost it. The other summertime food that has been a regular lately is greek yogurt and homemade granola. So much so that I am starting to think we may need to take some time off from each other soon or we may not be able to stay friends.
Thus, in an attempt to keep yogurt off my long list of hated foods (right next to beets and jello), I decided to try cashew cream in my breakfast parfaits. I originally made the cashew cream to lather on eclairs (…more on that in the coming days) but haven’t looked back at yogurt in weeks.
The cashew cream only takes a few minutes to whip up and usually lasts me 3 to 4 servings of breakfast. It’s sweeter than yogurt but not so much that you feel guilty about enjoying it for breakfast. Feel free to enjoy with whatever granola you have on hand but I highly recommend trying out this quinoa version. The toasted quinoa gives the granola a crunchy texture unlike any kind of granola I’ve had before. And it’s a complete protein so you’ll be really ready to start your day right. ‘Nuff said?
For the granola:
For the maple cashew cream:
Submerge cashews in water and let soak overnight.
Remove pits from dates and let soak with the cashews 30 minutes prior to making the cream.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine the quinoa, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the vanilla bean seeds in a mixing bowl. Fold in the oil, maple syrup, and honey. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out as much as possible. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to keep from burning. After 30 minutes, add 1/4 cup crushed pistachios to granola and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Drain cashews / dates and place in a food process or blender. Add the maple syrup and 1/4 cup water. Blend. If too thick, gradually add more water a tablespoon at a time until a desired consistency is reached (I like mine at the consistency of greek yogurt – thick and sustainable but a little fluffy).
To assemble: Layer the cream followed by the cooled granola followed by blueberries and garnish with crushed pistachio and cinnamon.
I’m all about playing around and inventing new cocktails (see: Loaded Hibiscus Arnold Palmer, Blueberry Basil Peach Fizz, etc) but sometimes you just need to go with a traditional cocktail. And NOTHING (I mean NOTHING) is better than a fresh squeezed Bloody mary during peak tomato season. It’s savory and spicy and elegant and just darn right delicious.
There is this AWFUL local sports bar that we used to go to on Sundays because it was right next to our old house. And when I say awful..I mean awful. Big screen TVs so loud that you can’t hear the person next to you, bland bar foods that leaves the one vegetarian option of french fries, and snooty blonde waitresses that pay you no attention knowing they’ll get bigger tips from the table of men across the room. But despite the terrible service and atmosphere, I became addicted to their signature Bloody Mary’s. I didn’t even know I LIKED Bloody Mary’s before I had one here. It was like a meal in a glass…savory, peppery, and full of spice. This is what got me hooked.
This takes quite a few tomatoes to make a decent amount of juice so this is a recipe you’ll want to make at the peak of garden season. Plus, this cocktail will taste the best with in-season, right off the vine, tomatoes. None of the ‘recipes’ below are exact. Unlike baking, making cocktails is all about experimenting and working in your personal preference. Like it spicy? Add more sriracha. Like it strong? Up the vodka ratio.
Also, I recommend not wasting the leftover tomato skins – I just put mine in the freezer for the next time I make some vegetable broth but you could also use them to make tomato paste or even just chop up and throw in a salad.
Combine vodka and rosemary in a clear glass jar and seal. Stick in the fridge and let infuse for several days (I did mine three days ahead of time). Shake once a day. Strain rosemary and use the infused vodka in all your favorite drinks.
Mash the goat cheese with a little salt and pepper. Stuff the peppers with cheese. (Yup – that’s it).
Squeeze the tomato insides into a blender and do a quick puree until smooth. Add in the vodka, lemon juice, lime juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, sriracha, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust with more salt / pepper / sriracha to your liking. Fill a glass with ice and pour cocktail into glass.
Garnish with celery, rosemary, and goat cheese olives.
I don’t know about you but the term ‘enchilada sauce’ doesn’t exactly conger up fresh and summery images. It mostly makes me think of that dark, musky isle in the already dingy international grocery store where you have to brush the dust off the can before picking it up and throwing it into your cart. This off-putting imagery doesn’t happen with all mexican food. In fact, tamales conger up wonderful memories of watching my step-mother whipping up several dozen in our kitchen when I was little. And tacos make me think of fresh grilled pineapple and strong margaritas. But I don’t know – there’s something about that enchilada sauce…something about the old-fashioned design on the cans that make me think it’s been on the shelf since that art was in style in the 80s (maybe even 70s?).
That was until I decided to start making my own. And everything changed in the enchilada world for me. It doesn’t taste like the enchilada sauce from the can…it taste so much fresher. And though it’s not the flavor your tongue is expecting at first, you will glow with the realization that this is how enchilada sauce is supposed to taste. Fresh and spicy. A little tomatoey, peppery, and full of heat. Of course, the amount of heat you’d like to create is up to you. Different peppers will result in different spice levels so go ahead and get acquainted with what peppers work for you (okay, so maybe that link is a little over-kill but it’s sort of fun to realize that all these peppers exist..)
This recipe isn’t challenging but there are lots of little steps – mostly simple ways to remove the outer peels from the tomatoes and peppers to create a creamier sauce. Don’t feel discouraged by the wordy directions below – it won’t take long and you’ll have deliciously fresh enchilada sauce in no time!
PS – Oh…and it’s vegan!
Add vegetable broth to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat but DON’T drain the broth. Set aside.
Chard the jalapeños by placing them directly over a gas burner flame until blackened on all sides (or broil in your oven). Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plastic sandwich bag. Let steam in the bag for about 15 minutes and peel the skins right off. Cut in half and remove seeds. Set aside.
Bring another saucepan full of water to a boil and get a bowl full of ice water ready. Add tomatoes and blanch for a minute or two or until the skins peel right off. Remove from heat and transfer tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Peel tomatoes and then dice.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent (about 7 minutes). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chillis with the vegetable broth liquid, jalapeño, oregano, and cumin. Let simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
Use right away or store in the fridge for up to four days.
Anyone who is familiar with raw “cooking” will find the ingredients in this recipe as no surprise. But for those of you who aren’t, stay with me. I’m looking at people like you, Mother. The kind of people that scoff at green smoothies and kale salads (“Ew. You don’t actually drink those, do you?” my mother ALWAYS says when green smoothies are brought up.) The reason this recipe may seem weird is because the word ‘fudgsicle’ usually congers up images of pre-packed, ice cream laden, milky wonderfulness. But what if I told you that we could achieve that creaminess without the ice cream? Without even the milk. In this recipe, we use avocados as the “cream” base but still load it (of course) with chocolate and [natural] sugar (delicious delicious agave).
The cocoa does a wonderful job of taking over the flavor AND color so you don’t have to worry about trying to force feed your friends a weird greenish looking ice pop. In fact, they probably won’t even be able to taste the avocado at all if you don’t mention it!
Oh… and did I mention that these little pops are HEALTHY?! Forget that post-dairy bloatedness that often comes with consuming a pint of ice cream. These little pops are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, and vitamin E (just to name a few wonderful things found in avocados). So instead of feeling guilty about reaching for that popsicle in the fridge after dinner, you can get excited about getting an extra punch of nutrients while eating your dessert!
I rolled my popsicles in coconut, chopped pistachios, and sprinkles but feel free to have fun with it. Use whatever nuts you have on hand or roll them in something you know your boyfriend will love (butterscotch chips? chopped hazelnut? dried blueberries? potato chips?).
Use a mixer to blend together the avocados, cocoa powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract, and water. Blend until light and fluffy – if stiff then add a little more water. Divide among popsicle molds and let set in the freezer for at least 5 hours (I let mine sit overnight… just to be safe).
Enjoy once frozen or roll slightly softened popsicle in nuts, coconut, or both.
Did everyone have a fantastic Father’s day? What wonderful thing did you do for our Father? I drove eight hours to see Fleetwood Mac in Chicago with my Father on Friday (although…he paid for the ridiculously over-priced tickets so we are probably even). My father ALWAYS had a Fleetwood Mac album on in the car when I was little and it’s one of the rare moments I remember singing and dancing with him. It was awesome growing up on Fleetwood Mac, I’ve always wanted to see Stevie Nicks in person and she did not disappoint.
Here’s a simple hummus recipe for you. I decided to put the ‘flavoring’ in the top and keep the hummus itself super basic (mmmm garlic garlic hummus). You don’t HAVE to peel the chickpeas but I read about doing it over at Smitten Kitchen a few months back and am totally hooked. I’ve ruined 2 blenders by overheating them when making hummus and this takes the majority of the work off the blender. Plus, it leaves your hummus so smooth that you’ll never need the store bought stuff again.
Peel the chickpeas by lightly pinching the bean and the outer shell should come right off in one big peel. Repeat with the rest of the chickpeas. Transfer the beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, water, and olive oil in a blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt, pepper, or more lemon juice. Transfer hummus to a big bowl.
Place the coriander seeds in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir constituently for about two minutes or until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle to crush. Sprinkle crushed coriander seeds over the hummus followed by sprinkling the cilantro.
Serve with pita and fresh veggies.
Somewhere down the line I picked up this habit of “loading” my drinks with fruit and herbs. I could probably link this on my mother for exposing me to sangria at such an early age. Or blame it on drinking the same boring glass of soda water for lunch for over a year that I was bound to start throwing extra things into it. Either way – I’m hooked. There is something so elegant and fancy about adding a little bits of color and infusion into your everyday drinks. And it’s a great way to use up fruits and herbs leftover in your fridge – wilted herbs will perk up when placed in water so no need to waste your good ones on this drink!
This Hibiscus Arnold Palmer is summer in a glass. Not only is it full of homemade lemonade and fresh iced tea but it’s also chocked full of lemon slices, blueberries, and mint leaves. Heck, if I would have had cucumber lying around then I could have thrown that in there too!
Do you drink hibiscus tea? 99% of tea that I drink is in the winter and hibiscus is one of the few I reserve for iced tea and summer picnics. If you don’t have much experience with hibiscus tea then I would recommend the Republic of Tea’s Natural Hibiscus – it’s wonderfully delicious and makes a mean iced tea. And no, I’m not endorsed by them (other than that fact that I buy their product) so feel free to give me suggestions if you have a better hibiscus tea to try! There are supposed to be many health benefits links to this tea as well – ranging from lowering blood pressure to being chocked full of antioxidants.
I do hope to make my own hibiscus tea from scratch in the near future for you guys but until the flowers bloom like crazy on my plant – store bought tea will have to suffice. I do, however, make the lemonade from scratch in this recipe to guarantee a fresh and dizzying lemon punch. The following recipe uses agave as the sweetener in the simple syrup but feel free to use equal parts sugar if that is what you have on hand. Also, I keep mine pretty tart so if you like it sweeter than up the agave ratio or add more agave at the end to adjust flavor.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water with 1/3 cup agave syrup. Bring to a boil, stir until combined, and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a pitcher.
Juice the 4 lemons and transfer juice to the pitcher. Add the extra 3 cups of water to dilute the lemonade. Pour in the prepared hibiscus tea and garnish with lemon slices, blueberries, and mint leaves.
Serve over ice at your next cookout or picnic adventure.
It’s finally time! After five loooong, cold months – fresh produce is back! And I’m not talking about those root vegetables that taste like dirt (sorry, beets. You just don’t do it for me). I’m talking about spinach that was picked earlier that day and strawberries that were carried on a truck from down the street.
This salsa is great in it’s simplicity. It’s wonderful when produce is so fresh that you don’t need a ton of added ingredients. Dip this salsa in tortilla dips or use as a topping for tacos, veggie burgers, or anything else that sounds delicious!
Combine the mango, pepper, cucumber, cumin and mint in a bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the salsa and stir until everything is coated. Season with salt and sriracha.
I had making a pie on the mind all week. I don’t get this urge very often (mostly because making a pie for two is just plain irresponsible) but decided to let myself indulge this time. My original thought was a blueberry basil pie but I was going to be open to whatever the farmer’s market would supply me. The only fruit I ended up finding at the market were strawberries and I knew I had to get them. They were petite and had the irresistible rustic appearance that wild strawberries often times have. This led to an internal struggle though…what other flavor combination would I use with strawberries? There was no basil at the market so that was out. I knew that rhubarb was the right choice (being in season and because strawberry rhubarb makes everything taste like a fruit roll up – in a good way) but I didn’t want to admit it at first. The ground breaking culinary discovery that rhubarb and strawberries were made for each other happened long before VV came around. What would make my pie different from the 100 million other recipes out there?
After racking my brain & running through every spice and herb imaginable in my head, it clicked. Ginger. Ginger had become my BFF over the winter (when I was constantly warding off a cold with Ginger Lemon Tonics). I immidetely imagined a gingerly zing hitting the tongue moments after the strawberry rhubarb kicked in for a second layer of flavorings. And you know what? I was right. I am SO glad I was right. Thank you, ginger. Strawberry Rhubarb pies will never be the same.
Adapted from Vegan Pie in The Sky
For the Crust:
For the Filling:
For the Crumb Topping:
For the crust: Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or your clean hands) cut in the shortening to the mixture until coarse crumbly dough as formed.
In another small bowl, combine the ice water with the vinegar. Drizzle 1/3 over the water over the flour mixture and stir. Drizzle another 1/3 over the mixture and stir again. Drizzle the rest of the water over the dough and form a soft dough ball. If the mixture hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let sit in the fridge for an hour.
For the filling / crumb: Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. For the crumb, combine the flour, sugar, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Drizzle in the butter with one hand and swish around the mixture with a spatula with your other hand. Mix until large crumbles form.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the dough out on floured parchment paper (this will help you transfer it to your pie to the pan). You’ll want to make a 12″ circle with the dough. Quickly flip the dough into your pie pan and remove parchment paper. Add filling over dough and then spread the crumble evenly over the top.
Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes to let steam escape. Bake for 20 minutes and then lower heat down to 350 degrees. Remove foil and let cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping has browned.
Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
As spring approaches, I get the “grilling craving”. You know what I’m talking about – where not only the smell of blooming flowers is in the air but also the smell of charcoal and kabobs. This is usually also the time of year that I get the urge to make a new condiment. For me, condiments will always be associated with summer outdoor cookouts. A veggie dog is just not the same without relish, ketchup, and mustard. But woah, have you seen all the preservatives that reside in your standard ketchup bottle? Its a sight for sore eyes!
This is usually why I like to make a few batches of homemade condiment to last me through the summer. Two years ago I posted about Ketchup, last spring was Barbecue Sauce, and this time around I am trying my hand at Mustard. The idea, for me, is that if I make it in the spring then I’ll have the condiments around in the fridge for grill outs and social gathering all summer long.
I’m pretty excited about this mustard because it will last in your fridge for up to 3 months. That means months of veggie dog toppings and Brie Grilled Cheeses! In addition, it makes plenty to share and you get to show off your fancy cooking skills to all your friends. What’s a better conversation starter than ‘Oh, here is where I put that homemade mustard. Yup, I said homemade’ ?
The trick for these recipes is to use enough vinegar that you get a bit of tang with each bite but also don’t use so much that the vinegar becomes overpowering (which can happen pretty quickly). Also, another thing to note, is that whole mustard seeds are super spicy. Like…way more spicy than most people ever realize. This means that you may need to add LOTS more sweetener at the end to get the desired flavor profile you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to mix in some more honey or agave to make it sweet. Or even more curry powder or thyme if you aren’t tasting the added ingredients as much as you’d like. Homemade cooking is all about experimenting so play around with this recipe and figure out what works best for your taste palette.
For both or either recipes: Place all ingredients for each recipe into two separate bowls (or just use one bowl if you are only making one of the mustards). Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.
The next day, transfer everything to a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached (I like to keep a few mustard seeds whole but do whatever fits your fancy). Taste to season and add more honey if it’s too spicy or salt/pepper to help bring out the flavors.
Eat right away or transfer to an airtight jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
*Please note that the mustard seeds are like a sponge and will absorb any liquid around them so if your mustard becomes dry from sitting in the fridge, just add a few teaspoons of water to reach your desired consistency again
Good morning! I am thrilled to introduce you all to my friend Leanne from Healthful Pursuit!
Leanne Vogel is a holistic nutritionist and the girl behind the healthy living blog, Healthful Pursuit. Whether youíre sensitive to dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, grains, or sugar, or are just interested in eating healthy, Leanneís fun and simple healthy recipes; of which she has more than 550 on her blog, are a great resource for everyone.
Thanks for the introduction, Shelly – and a big hello to all of you!
Do you like cheese sauce?
I do. On pasta, veggies, nachos, a spoon… I’ll take it any way that I can. But… I’m allergic to dairy.
I know, it’s tragic.
Dairy gives me headaches, bloating, ear infections, sinus infections, weight gain and acne. As much as I love it, it’s evident that it just doesn’t love me back. So, I live a life without the good stuff.
Once I removed dairy out for good about 10 years ago, I replaced my infatuation with dairy with a major reliance on expensive store-bought replacements like artificial, soy-based sour creams, cheeses, yogurts and milks. I was spending a lot of money on groceries and had a sneaking suspicion that the artificial dairy products weren’t so good for my health. So, I started figuring out ways that I could make my own yogurts, creams and dips that were made from real food, saved me money, and made me feel great… and that’s how my Done with Dairy Toolkit was born.
My Done with Dairy Toolkit is the ultimate (free) guide to living dairy-free. It’s loaded with dairy-free recipes, tips and recommendations on how to thrive on a dairy-free diet - love every meal, snack, and dessert you prepare yourself without feeling limited in your options.
To give you a little taste of the types of recipes you’ll find in the handy-dandy guide, I’ve created a nut-free, vegan cheese sauce for you!
Add water, sesame seeds and lemon juice to the jug of your high powered blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes, until smooth. Set aside.
Add oil to a medium saucepan or frying pan and melt on medium-low.
Add nutritional yeast and stir with a fork until all yeast is covered in oil.
Pour in sesame seed mixture and stir until it comes to a boil.
Add in remaining ingredients: mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
Cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in your favorite cooked pasta or serve warm with veggies.
Feel free to replace the coconut oil with whatever oil you have on hand. The great thing about using coconut oil is that, when heated, the sauce is runny and perfect “cheese sauce” consistency. But when chilled, it is similar to a cheese spread. If another type of oil is used, this may not be the case.
Are you rockin’ a dairy-free life or know someone who is?
Do you get overwhelmed with all of the substitutions you have to make to a recipe to make it dairy-free?
Author bio: Leanne Vogel is a holistic nutritionist who has chosen to celebrate her allergies, overcome her food restrictions, release her negative relationship with food and live freely. You can find her living out her journey as she documents her latest adventures on her blog, www.healthfulpursuit.com.
Connect with LeanneÖ
Every winter, I become less into making oatmeal for breakfast than I had been the previous winter. Truth is – it’s just too time consuming (I know, I know – Ms. Lazy) in the mornings and I end up quickly going back to my granola. The transition to year round granola has urged my need to get creative with the stuff. Eating the same thing ever day? Booooring.
And let me tell you…oh my goodness. I can not remember the last time I was this obsessed with a granola. Bringing quinoa into the equation changes everything. It adds a texture depth that goes beyond anything I’ve experienced in granola. Even if your cinnamon oats end up soggy then you are still left with crunchy and toasted quinoa bits. This recipe can, of course, be adapted to your liking. Add more fruit or spices depending on what you are into.
I’ve played around with quinoa dozen of time (see: Southwestern Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Nuggets, or Fall Quinoa Salad) but have never been as excited about it as I am with this recipe. Toasting quinoa? Who would have thought! And the extra protein quinoa brings into this breakfast will help you feel full longer [which means no more 10:45 munchies runs to the vending machine in need of some Cheetos].
Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa SUPER well – you want to make sure all of that bitter outer coating is removed for maximum indulgence potential. This recipes makes about 3 cups so store leftovers in an airtight container. Or be a good friend and share a bag. Or even freeze the stuff if you won’t use it in a timely fashion. Love granola but hesitant about this quinoa business? Then maybe you should start with this Spiced Pumpkin Granola instead.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Cook for 30 minutes and stir 3 times throughout the cooking process. Remove from oven and let cool completely before moving to an airtight container.
Serve over yogurt, milk, or fruit. Or just eat it by the spoonful.
This is usually the part of winter where I get fed up. At this point, I am over root vegetables and kale salads and chili and stews. At this point, I’m usually throwing in the towel and ordering take out, frozen pizzas, or milkshakes for dinner. It’s that last leg before spring food hits the produce isle and I can’t help but find it hard to stay inspired after four months of the same thing being in season.
Not this year. This year I was determined to not get bored with dinners. This year, I constnaly have been reminding myself how much I long for minestrone or curry when it’s 90 degrees out. This year I’ve added fun new techniques to my winter routine – like my tagine and slow cooker. I’ve added things into my soups to make them more interesting – like those insanely delicious goat cheese croutons.
And now I’m back with another soup recipes with a fun addition: spiced chickpeas. These chickpeas are…woah. It was hard to save them for dinner because there was so much munching I should have been making the soup. Wash the vegetables, eat a few chickpeas, simmer, eat a few chickpea, season, eat a few chickpeas. You get the idea. So addicting.
I’m pretty excited to start adding these chickpeas to my afternoon snack routine. It will be a nice change from greek yogurt or nuts. I found this great resource of different seasonings for your chickpeas over at MPMKs – cannot wait to try them all!
To make the chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the ingredients together and put in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.
To make the soup: Heat olive oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until translucent (about ten minutes). Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes. Pour in the stock, coconut milk, ginger, and curry powder. Cover and cook for about ten minutes (or until the carrots are soft).
Once all the vegetables are soft, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt, pepper, and maybe a little hot sauce (if you like a kick). Top with feta and chickpeas.
I don’t have a very sophisticated palette when it comes to alcohol. When sampling something, I would know the difference between red and white. Between gin and vodka. And between spiced rum and whiskey. That is about it. It’s not by choice…I love the idea of knowing how to tell where a wine is from based on the type of grapes that were used. Or being able to predict how old a whiskey is based on the bite it gives. It’s just not a skill that I have activity seeked out [ yet? ].
So I was pretty excited when Wyatt received a nice bottle of Pisco as a birthday gift (Thanks, Ma!). Pisco?! What’s that you ask? It’s a Chilean (or Peruvian) grape brandy that is usually clear or yellowish in color. How sophisticated does that sound? I can already sense my alcohol knowledge expanding as I type this.
We’ve tried a couple cocktail recipes and this one is by far my favorite. It’s very alcoholic yet mild tasting (if that makes sense). I like to add a splash of sparkling water because I’m a wimpy drinker (which my Mother likes to remind me every time we have a family gathering. Thanks, again, Ma..) and I like a bit of fizz in my cocktail. Wyatt prefers the drink without the water so feel free to adjust depending on how strong you like your cocktails.
Whip these up for guests next time you feel like showing off to your guests. “Ohh, I just can’t get over how much I’ve been into this Peruvian grape brandy lately…”
Add Pisco, Campari, sweet vermouth, and bitters to a shaker. Shake well. Fill 2 glasses with ice and add Pisco mixture. Add a splash to sparking water and garnish with cherries and an orange peel.
These are what I call the ‘I just did my taxes and need some chocolate’ cookies. They were a little ‘guilt free’ reward that was needed after sifting trhough document and papers and receipts and bank statements. It’s a shame really…I went to yoga right before sitting down to do my taxes in hopes that it would leave me in a state of calm. But after all questions after questions about loans / checks / wages…I needed some chocolate.
I decided to go the healthy and lazy (no bake) route with these. A whole lot of protein with a bit of sweet (from the dates) and some natural fats (from the nuts). They are totally indulgent but not in a ‘oh shit, I’m going to have to spend an extra 3 hours on the treadmill’ sort of way. They are rich and gooey but also filling and…dare I say, practical? As a vegetarian, I can pretty much convenience myself that anything with 5+ grams of protein is an acceptable snack / breakfast / lunch / dessert.
Throw everything into a food processor and pulse until a thick dough forms (if its crumbly then add a tiny bit of water). Roll dough into tablespoon size balls and place on waxed paper. Smash the dough balls down slightly with clean fingers or a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt . Stick in the fridge for an hour or enjoy them right away [in their prime gooeyness].
The title of this post is a bit misleading. These biscuits are not actually stuffed with real vegans…unlike how you probably read it the first time. There was just no easy way to throw a title together for this. I could have put ‘Stuffed Breakfast Biscuits’ but then people would have wondered where the eggs and sausage was? Or I could have wrote ‘Tofu Scramble Scones’ but that would have seemed like the tofu goes along side the scones… which is not correct either. What I really wanted to put was ‘Peppered Gravy & Tofu Hash Scramble Stuffed Biscuits That Are Vegan’ but oh goodness…look at how long that title is. I don’t think that title would have fit on one line…and maybe not even on two. So I settled for ‘Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits’…I am sorry if it’s misleading and you conjure up thoughts of cannibalism instead of wonderfully flaky, warm biscuits oozing with peppered gravy and filling tofu goodness. See!? Do you see why it took me 20 minutes to settle on a title for this post?
I guess it makes up for the fact that it took about 20 seconds to know that I wanted to make these. I love the Morningstar breakfast sandwiches as a treat every now and then but couldn’t help but wonder…could I make fresh ones that are probably 10000xxx times better? After searching around on the web and failing at finding any recipes that matched the vision in my head, I decided to make it up myself. This recipe is a mutant product of my favorite tofu scramble recipe and tomato scones recipes found in Isa’s Vegan Brunch. And a simple peppered gravy recipe that we often times to turn when we need some thick and flavorful gravy in a hurry. And then I threw in some hashbrowns because…welll…what is breakfast without hash browns?
So…in turn, this recipe is Delicious? Yes. Freezable? Yes. Easy to prepare the night before? YES. Portable? YES. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a breakfast rolled into one pocket of deliciousness? YESSS. Why would you not make these for a vegan potluck or freeze a batch for a quick breakfast on the go?!
For the Gravy:
For the Tofu Scramble:
For the Biscuits:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in the potatoes. Cook until they are soft but not mushy (about 10 minutes depending on how small you diced them).
To make the scramble: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute. Next, crumble the tofu and add into the skillet along with the cooked potatoes. Saute until the tofu has browned and add in the water, tumeric, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and cumin. Saute for another five minutes or until the water has evaporated (if the tofu seems dry then add a bit more water and let it cook down). Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes.
To make the gravy: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened (about ten to fifteen minutes). Season with more pepper (if necessary) and pour over the tofu scramble. Mix until everything is combined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
To make the biscuits: Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add wet ingredients. Fold dry into wet until a soft dough has formed. Flour a surface and roll out half of the dough into an inch thick (make sure to keep everything very well floured because the dough is super sticky). Cut out desired biscuit sizes using a biscuit cutter and then flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch (you can use your rolling pin or your hands here). Place a heaping tablespoon of the tofu/gravy mixture in the center and fold the edges into each other until you’ve made a sealed round ball. Transfer to a greased cooking sheet. Roll out the rest of the dough and repeat.
[This is where you can wrap them in an airtight container and stick in the fridge overnight if you are preparing ahead of time]. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are firm and the insides are warm.
Enjoy hot or freeze for later breakfasts!
The fascination with my Tangine has really morphed my cooking this past month. I didn’t even use the tagine for this recipe but was drawn to it since the recipe is so similar to the other Tunisian dishes I’ve been playing around with. Who knew 2013 would be the year of preserved lemons, harissa paste, and spicy stews? Well, the first few months of 2013 at least. Can’t predict past that.
I am sooo in love the contrast that is created when you mix spicy harissa paste with sweet honey and lather it all over vegetables / beans. Oh my goodness! Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you should. And here is a perfect starter recipe for it. Harissa paste is super easy to make (check out the recipe here) or you should be able to find it at any international market store. As for preserved lemons? It took me a long time to come around to them and I would recommend slicing them VERY thin until you get use to their intense flavor. But with that said, they really do add a depth of flavor that could not be achieved by this simple stew without them.
Simmer the chickpeas in the vegetable broth until heated through. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin salt, and harissa paste in a small bowl. Fold in the capers, lemon, and red pepper to the dressing.
Tear the bread into large chunks and divide between two bowls. Spoon the chickpeas and broth over the bread and top with dressing / lemon mixture. Serve right away so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
If close up pictures of french fries doesn’t make you want to ditch your soup dinner plans and run out to the nearest diner then I do not know what does. Sorry that I just ruined your diet with this photo. Don’t worry, you can start again tomorrow.
I grew up a firm believer that ketchup was for eggs and barbecue sauce was for french fries. Although I’ve grown out of lathering ketchup all over my morning scramble, I still cannot resist a big side of tangy barbecue sauce to accompany my french fries and tofu nuggets (yes, I am guilty – I do enjoy those processed fake chicken nuggets that you can find in you organic freezer section at Kroger).
Although I am known to still down the occasional fry or chicken-less nuggets, I do try avoid the processed and high-fructose packed condiments that fill our grocery stores. Have your REALLY looked on the back of that condiment jar in a while? It’s a rather upsetting sight. Instead, I usually whip up a batch our this barbecue sauce and it usually holds me through all summer (and I participate in A LOT of grill outs every summer).
I decided to mix it up and try a new bbq sauce this time around. It’s definitely not the traditional bbq sauce you are used to (I’d suggest using this recipe if you are looking for that) but it’s a great sauce to use for special occasions. It’s a wonderful way to add new flavor to your condiments or to fancy up a side of fries at a party. The bourbon gives it the inevitable and sophisticated alcoholic aroma while the honey helps sweeten and tone it down.
I made this in my slow cooker so I could walk away and not worry about it. But it would probably be made just as easy in a saucepan by throwing in all your ingredients and letting it simmer down to your desired consistency (bet it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes!).
Heat the olive oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent (about five or so minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and turn the slow cooker on low. Let cook for 8 hours. If the sauce is too thin after 8 hours, remove the lid and let cook down to desired consistency.
Use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth sauce or leave the small chunks of onions (they are delicious!).
Serve right away or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you’d like to keep it longer, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy access to later.
Because Nobunny is both saucy and probably a bit alcoholic (yeah - not really sure what that means either):
Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? I didn’t start my work week until Wednesday so this week kind of feels like cheating…did I really earn weekend already? I could get use to this 3 day week thing! As for my weekend? The only thing I have planned to to make some homemade ravioli (now if I could only decide on ONE filling option…).
Continuing with my New Years resolution to eat less processed food, I decided to make my own harissa paste instead of heading to the specialty market to pick up a bottle of it. I needed some harissa paste because I received a beautiful Tagine for Christmas and have been cooking in it non-stop. It’s such an easy, delicious, and ridiculously healthy way to whip up a batch full of hearty veggies drenched in flavorful Middle Eastern or African spices.
So what exactly is harissa paste? It’s a condiment made out of chiles that will have varying ingredients depending on location. It’s been known to be used in African, Moroccan, and several other Middle Eastern countries. I added a few teaspoons of it to a butternut squash, raisin, and shallots combination I made the other day and it was delightful. I plan to use the leftover paste as a condiment on sandwiches (adding a little bit of honey bring the spice level down without compromising the wonderful flavor). I’ve also heard of peopling dipping fresh bread into it or adding it to cooked couscous.
This recipe can also be made with fresh chiles (just omit the soaking process). I am eager to grow some in my garden this summer so we can experiment more!
If you live in the Midwest (like myself), you may be bracing yourself for the big Draco Storm (when did they start naming thunderstorm? I get naming hurricanes and tornadoes but T-storms?) that is planned to hit within the next two days. We had our first wave last night with constant rainfall all night long. What does this mean? It’s time to lock myself in the kitchen and get Christmas baking!
This is the first time I’ve ever made sugared peels and I was pleasantly surprised with the process. Yes, it takes awhile but it’s not labor intensive at all and is a super easy project to have on the side while you bake up other Christmas goodies.
I made these to go into a little gift box that I’m making for Wyatt. He loves getting an Old Fashioned cocktail when we go out for fancy dates so I thought it would be fun to make him a little kit for home. I’ve included a nice bottle of bourbon, bitters, some fancy maraschino cherries, and now these homemade orange peel. Even if these peels are too sweet for him to put in his cocktail, I’ll enjoy the extra touch of sugar when he makes mine!
I highly recommend using organic oranges for this. Since you are using the peel any sort of pesticides used to grow the fruit will have seeped onto the peel…better to be safe than sorry!
Start by cleaning and scrubbing the oranges very well to scrap off any dirt. Next, cut through the orange in four different sections by slicing into the peel and pith but not going all the way through. Peel the oranges and set the insides aside for a different use (my “different use” was munching on them for an after dinner snack and again for breakfast).
Add the orange peels to a saucepan and fill with water until they are all covered. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the water and let the peels cool until they are okay to touch.
Okay, this is the trickiest part! It’s time to remove the pith from the peels (the white part) or the end result will be tart. I used a spoon and scrapped off the pith as much as possible (don’t feel like you have to get the white part COMPLETELY gone but the more you scrape away the sweeter they will be). Cut the orange peels into long, thin strips.
Next, add 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir often until the sugar has dissolved (about five minutes). Add in the orange peels and let simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let the peels cool in the sugar water (I let them cool for about an hour so they could continue to absorb the sugary syrup).
Once cooled, combine 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a shallow dish. Using a fork or slotted spoon, remove the peels (one at a time) and dip in the sugar mixture. Transfer to wax paper and repeat with the rest of the peels. Let them sit out at room temperature overnight to harden.
Enjoy as a snack or dessert or in your next fancy cocktail!
Okay, I have a confession to make. I grew up on Shirley Temples. Any fancy occasion that I was out with my family and my Grandma would order her ‘Manhattan’, I would proudly announced my ‘Shirley Temple’ drink order. They would bring it out in a fancy cocktail glass and it would be garnished with a few cherries. Ah, I felt like such a sophisticated ten year old.
But this is where my confession comes in. I went the first 23 years of my life thinking that grenadine was cherry flavored syrup. Wrong. How can you blame me? After all, they did always garnish those Shirley Temples with cherries! It’s actually pomegranate syrup! Who would of thought I was so health trendy in my tweens? If only I knew French then I would have known that grenade means ‘pomegranate’. Ah well. Silly me.
Anyhow, so I’ve been on a drink kick lately. More specifically, I’ve been on a booze kick (see Boozy Stout Brownies, Cranberry Mojito, etc). And my fascination with simple syrups started this summer when I first whipped up that delicious Sparkling Blackberry Lemonade. And then the Rosemary Lemonade. and then the Lemongrass cooler. and so on. You get the point. So when I found out that grenadine was just an over-produced, over-sugared version of pomegranate simple syrup….I knew I had to try my own.
If you are use to making your own simple syrups, you will notice that this process is a bit different because we are starting off with pomegranate juice instead of having the fruit boil and steep into a juice. But anyhow, it’s not complicated and more on that later. Oh! And last thing – don’t wear white while making this. The juicing part is both fun and messy.
First, the fun [and messy] part! Making the juice. I used a citrus squeezer and sliced the pomegranates into quarters to juice them. You could use a hand held squeezer if you have it or even a zip lock bag (break the seeds up as much as possible and then strain out the seeds). The goal here is to get as much juice out of the pomegranate without 1. breaking the tiny white seeds within the red seeds because they will release a bitter flavor (hence why a blender wouldn’t work) and 2. separating the juice from the tiny seeds and whites of the pomegranate. If you don’t have a juice squeezer, this may take some creative thinking on your part but it’s not impossible. Using my citrus squeezer yielded about 2 cups of juice from 2 pomegranates so try to achieve around that amount.
Next, transfer the juice to a small saucepan and add the desired amount of sugar (I started with a cup and a half). Bring to a boil over medium heat and then immediately remove from heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved (if it has not dissolved already). Let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
Annnnd, in case you were wondering what MY favorite ways are to use grenadine are…
Place the grenadine and cherries in a glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with ginger ale / soda and enjoy!
Place grenadine and tequila in a cocktail glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with orange juice. Garnish with cherries or orange slices.
So I curated (doesn’t that sound so much more important than planned?!) 90 percent of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner menu this year. The only thing I did not pick out was the Wild Rice Stuffing which my aunt made. And it was probably my favorite thing that was served that day. I don’t really have much experience with wild rice and I was blown away by the added texture it gave to the stuffing.
And so this experience made we realize I want more wild rice in my life which led to me making these stuffed squashes. And let me tell you….this stuffed acorn were great but I probably ended up eating 50% of the wild rice mixture before I could even get around to sticking it in the acorns. It was chewy and savory and sweet (thanks to the maple syrup!) and oh so addicting. I’m already dreaming of quick winter salads that are really just a healthy (throw the term ‘salad’ at the end of anything and it becomes guilt-free) way to talking about this wild rice mixture!
Anyhow, this is great as a side dish or even as a main vegetarian entree at your next dinner party (which, according to The Kitchn, are dead these days)!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and place squash cut side down. Cover the squash with tin foil and roast for 40 minutes or until cooked all the way through.
In the meantime, prepare the inside. Heat oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, wild rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the stock has evaporated/ been absorbed (about 20 to 25 minutes).
Remove from heat and fold in the pecans, scallions, cherries, maple syrup, and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Once the acorn squash is finished cooking, stuff with the wild rice mixture and enjoy warm!