Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekly Vegan Eats + Recipe for Bright Blueberry Banana Bites

Stir-fry noodles! Eggplant, extra firm tofu, green onion, orange bell pepper,
carrots, cabbage, purple corn and rice noodles, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar,
and crushed red pepper flakes.
A very simple and healthy snack: bright blueberry banana bites.
Some groceries: seasonal strawberries, Silk unsweetened organic soymilk,
Sabra roasted pine nut hummus, and discounted coconut chocolate chip Clif bars.
Raw veggies (zucchini, red bell pepper, carrots, celery)
for dipping in pine nut hummus.
Whole wheat zucchini muffin topped with roasted almonds.
Breakfast of champions! Whole wheat strawberry waffle,
via the 'Sinfully Wholesome Waffles' recipe in Isa Does It.
I know, the alliteration is a little much, but I'm full of endorphins from walking around in the beautiful spring sun. These 'bites' are a great light afternoon snack - perfect for sharing with a friend or two and dipping in your favorite yogurt.

Bright Blueberry Banana Bites :: Makes 12 bites
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp lemon zest 
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mash banana very well with a strong fork. Mix with oats, cinnamon, and lemon zest until combined. Fold in blueberries.

Scoop the mixture onto your baking sheet using a tablespoon to measure each portion. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the undersides of the bites are golden brown. These are best served warm (a few minutes after you take them out of the oven) and best eaten the day you make them.

P.S. Sometimes I think I've been converted from a 'cat person' to a 'dog person'...but really I'm just an 'animal person'. Anyway, this week I enjoyed watching these two have some quality playtime together:

My Padfoot.
Penny! My brother's hound.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekly Vegan Eats

Rustic strawberry hand pies; sticky strawberry juice spilling out everywhere!
Recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky.
Great with a tall glass of almond milk.
Strawberries and cream bread pudding!
Recipe from Isa Does It.
Silk vanilla cultured soymilk (yogurt) with homemade toasted coconut pecan granola.
I used 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut in place of the puffed rice cereal, reduced
the agave nectar to 1/4 cup (4 tbsp),  replaced almonds with pecans, used 1/2 tsp
almond extract + 1/2 tsp lemon extract in place of vanilla, and omitted the raisins. 
St. Patty’s Day Dinner 2014: Irish soda bread (recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking), cornmeal-crusted tempeh
(recipe from The Vegan Table), garlic red and russet mashed potatoes with parsley, roasted cabbage and carrots.
On St. Patrick's Day, I went out to bars in downtown Fullerton with Erika and Keith :]

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vegan King Cake, Californian Soyrizo Red Beans and Rice


I know I'm over a week late, but here's my 1st vegan king cake! I utilized Kittee’s recipe for the dough and icing, using a tub of Silk blueberry cultured soymilk as my yogurt. You can really taste the orange zest in the cake! For my filling I combined brown sugar, cinnamon, margarine, and chopped mixed nuts (cashews, macadamias, and almonds). I made my own sprinkles using white sugar and food coloring - which is why my purple came out as a dark lavender. I also added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the icing for that extra kick. So good!



For dinner I created Californian Soyrizo Red Beans and Rice (my own invention). Roasted sweet potato, brown rice, red onion, garlic, green bell pepper, soy chorizo, kidney beans, dried thyme, and some frozen green peas. Bright and spicy! Great with some avocado or guacamole on top. I also wouldn't hesitate to eat this in a tortilla...


I hope your Fat Tuesday 2014 was stupendous!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mardi Gras Recipe Round-Up! (or Potential Menu Options for Fat Tuesday)

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I won't pretend to be very familiar with Cajun, Creole, or traditional southern cuisine - I'm not. I'm 100% Californian, raised largely on Mexican food, garden tomatoes, and In N Out Burger. Back in late January I visited the south for the first time and explored food in a different way; I realized how veg-friendly California truly is and how incredibly challenging eating out can be for southern vegans and vegetarians. That being said, I also ate a bowl of amazing red beans and rice in New Orleans and beignets from Cafe Du Monde (totally not  vegan, but a French Market coffee stand with powdered sugar everywhere?!  As a future pastry school student, how could I resist taking that sweet bite out of American history??). 

I have very fond memories of my time in Louisiana, so I thought I'd celebrate Mardi Gras by sharing some Fat Tuesday and American South inspired dishes. This year's Fat Tuesday is approaching quickly (March 4th), so why not take the time to make your first pot of vegan gumbo or bake one of Kittee's king cakes?

Red Beans & Rice
Jambalaya
Gumbo
Black Eyed Peas
Sandwiches
Other Good Stuff

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meaty Beany Chili & Corn Muffins - PPK Recipe Review

"Isa, the master of vegan cooking (and jalapeno butchering with a leopard print pairing knife) will show you how to defend your honor at your next pot luck dinner. No longer do you have to be the odd one with the vegan dish. Proudly stand behind this fabulous vegan chili and corn muffins. Perfect for every event, from Super Bowl to Puppy Bowl." (Source.)
Back in October, only a few days before the release of her 8th vegan cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz posted the above video and recipe on her Post Punk Kitchen blog. I watched the video, fawned over my favorite vegan chef, and longed for her new cookbook.

A few weeks later, I poured over the beautiful hardcover of Isa Does It at my local Barnes & Noble and decided to buy it for my best friend as a holiday gift. Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend bought me a copy for my 25th birthday. I've already made several of the recipes, some of which were posted on the PPK blog months before, and Isa doesn't disappoint. To be absolutely truthful (and somewhat reluctant for fear of sounding obsessive), it's my favorite cookbook. The photos are gorgeous, the commentary is wonderful, and the recipes are deliciously unfailing - and I will probably buy it as a gift for several more people in the future.


My boyfriend's father is a very kind man, which is why I decided some time ago that I wanted to cook him dinner; I wanted him to come home from a day spent working at his hearing aid center to a tasty, satisfying, healthy, home-cooked meal. I asked my partner something along the lines of, "What's your Dad's favorite food to have for dinner?" After a slight pause, he replied, "Probably chili." My mind instantly recalled Isa's Meaty Beany Chili & Corn Muffins and I knew what we would be eating.

I've cooked up many a big pot o' chili over the last handful of years and there are a few things that set this recipe apart... For one, the use of lentils. Excellent. Then there's the perfect blend of chili powder, cumin, oregano, and ground cloves. Great. What really tips the scales, however, are the additions of lime juice and maple syrup at the very end. The resulting chili has the ideal amount of heat, a very slight sweetness, and an enticing depth of flavor that keeps you coming back for more.

The corn muffins were a wonderfully toothsome accompaniment; the recipe was also very simple. I made a few substitutions for the muffin batter but nothing that would change the overall taste very much - I swapped 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to be a touch more healthful and I used melted margarine in place of the coconut oil because I didn't have coconut oil on hand. Also, in the chili, I used a red bell pepper instead of green and a can of diced tomatoes in place of crushed.

Overall, my partner and his father (both omnivores) seemed to really enjoy the meal - I absolutely loved it. This will definitely become one of my go-to dinners when entertaining meat-eaters and veg*ns alike. Hearty - familiar, yet intriguing - and ultimately gratifying.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Birthday Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

My Padfoot when she was just a baby...
...a few months later...
...and today, her 1st birthday.

Less than a year ago, I received a picture text from my Dad of the sweetest black puppy - and I couldn't get to her fast enough. Before I even met her I knew I wanted to spoil her and go on silly adventures - and that's exactly what we've done. 

I give her a warm bath once a week. She sleeps on my bed when my boyfriend isn't around (she's a great cuddler). I taught her how to play frisbee. She goes on a walk nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. She loves every other dog she meets and wants nothing more than to play with them. She's afraid of the vacuum, garbage bags, and water hoses. Her favorite hobbies include looking out windows, sunbathing, swimming, chewing, leaping over things, getting in the way of whatever you're up to, and running free in the desert.

It's hard to believe that she's already a year old, but at the same time, it's more difficult to imagine life before having her around. Even though she has bitten up many a household item in her puppyhood (reading glasses, cell phone chargers, pillows, rugs...), I wouldn't trade one second of our time together. She even destroyed her birthday present this morning (a harness for our walks) and I literally can't be mad (only mildly annoyed). My Paddycakes is an incredibly energetic, friendly, funny, loving animal companion - so I made her these sweet potato and peanut butter dog treats in celebration of all that.


Note :: When it comes to dogs, not all 'human' foods are created equal! I made sure all of my ingredients were dog-friendly and included some links with information about the benefits of each ingredient.

Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Dog Treats :: Makes 1 dozen
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, applesauce, and nut butter. Fold in 1 cup of the flour until thoroughly mixed. Add the last ½ cup of flour, the oats, and the cinnamon and combine well. You should have a soft, pliable dough.


With a rolling pin (or something that can be used as one), roll your dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut out desired shapes. Knead and roll out your 'excess' dough as many times as you need to in order to use it all up. Evenly space your treats on the baking sheet - but don't worry about the treats bleeding into one another because they hardly spread, only puff up a tiny bit. Bake for 20-30 minutes, based on the size of your treats and desired firmness (I baked mine for 20 minutes and they seem pretty chewy). Allow the treats to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a plate or wire rack; let them cool completely before offering one to your furry friend! These should last for about a week in a tightly sealed container.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Wondrous Vegan Microwave Muffin

Vegan Microwave Muffin goodness.

So easy. So versatile. So satisfying. I really wish I would have implemented single-serving 'baked' goods into my life when I was still at UC Santa Cruz; I feel like my quick meals before class and during late night homework sessions would have been that much more satisfying had I the perfect warm and comforting snack to nosh on... Alas, here I am now, over a year and a half after graduation, celebrating the fact that - between brewing a pot of coffee and reading about unsafe foods for dogs - I can enjoy a simple blueberry muffin that took me less than ten minutes to make from start to finish. Wonderful.

What I like about this recipe is that it truly is a blank canvas with a plethora of possible combinations. Just use whatever happens to be in your kitchen, get creative, and savor the results!

Edit/Notes : If you use all oats, your muffin will come out tasting like über delicious oatmeal and not really like a muffin. If you have sweet mix-ins, you may want to omit or reduce the amount of sweetener used.

Notice the heat fogging up the camera lens...

The Wondrous Vegan Microwave Muffin :: Serves 1

You'll need:
  • 1 mug, ramekin, or small bowl
  • 1 tbsp nondairy milk of choice (add a little more by the teaspoon if your batter seems too thick)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract or both
  • 1 tbsp canola oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, well-mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce, nut butter, sweet potato purée, or pumpkin purée
  • 1 tbsp white sugar, brown sugar, liquid sweetener (agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.), or a packet of sugar substitute
  • 3 tbsp flour (white, whole wheat, gluten-free, spelt) or 3 tbsp rolled oats or a combination
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Healthy pinch of salt
  • About 2 tbsp mix-ins of choice: raisins, chopped nuts, finely shredded carrot, berries (fresh or frozen), chopped apples, chopped peaches, chocolate chips or chunks, shredded coconut, carob chips, grated zucchini, etc.
  • Optional additions: 1 tsp ground flax, 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, dash of ground cinnamon, dash of ginger, dash of pumpkin spice, poppy seeds, lavender, pinch of lemon zest, orange zest...
In your mug or ramekin, mix together your wet ingredients - milk, extract(s), oil or oil replacer, and sweetener. Add your dry ingredients and combine well - flour and/or oats, baking powder, and salt. Fold in your mix-ins and optional additions. Microwave for a minute and check to see if your muffin appears done. You should know when it is ready when the muffin begins to peel away from the sides of the mug. Microwaves vary, so you may want to cook it a little more in increments of 15-30 seconds. My muffin took 1 minute 45 seconds in the microwave.

I used unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract, unsweetened applesauce,
maple syrup, 2 tbsp whole wheat flour + 1 tbsp rolled oats, frozen blueberries,
1 tsp lemon juice, and a touch of cinnamon. 

I could meditate on different combinations all day long, but here are some muffin variations that quickly came to mind:
  • Oatmeal Raisin : 1 tbsp flour + 2 tbsp rolled oats, raisins, additional cinnamon and ground nutmeg
  • Banana Nut : well-mashed banana, chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Carrot Cake : finely shredded carrot, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, maybe a little powdered sugar on top
  • Peanut Butter Cup : peanut butter, chocolate chips or chunks
  • German Chocolate Cake : coconut oil, chopped pecans, shredded coconut, chocolate chips or chunks, cocoa powder
  • Almond Joy : almond milk, almond extract, almond butter, chocolate chips or chunks, chopped almonds, shredded coconut
  • Classic Blueberry : canola oil or coconut oil, white sugar, flour, blueberries, lemon zest
  • Banana Split : mashed banana, chopped nuts, chopped cherries, chocolate chips or chunks
  • Apple Brown Betty : applesauce, brown sugar, chopped apples, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly : peanut butter, sliced strawberries or Thomcord grapes
  • Dirty Hippie : hemp milk, coconut oil, agave nectar or brown rice syrup, gluten-free or spelt flour, grated carrot, grated zucchini, cinnamon, ginger, ground flax, sunflower seeds on top
  • November Morning : sweet potato or pumpkin purée, maple syrup, cranberries or dried cranberries, chopped pecans, pumpkin pie spice, orange zest

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day: Part 3

Champagne for two: redneck wine glass for her, Guinness pint for him.
So fancy, right?

Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu, made with organic brown rice spaghetti.
Recipe from Isa Does It.

A warm Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffin split in two,
accompanied by Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Vanilla ice cream
and cherries warmed up in a saucepan with a shot of amaretto. 

I hope your V-day was just as tasty as mine! I decided to make Isa's Pesto-Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu for dinner partially because of all the preparation I could complete in advance; I wanted to be able to stay mostly out of the kitchen that night and have my options open for any impromptu plans that may have popped up. I blended the oil-free pesto, butchered the cauliflower, and threw together the breadcrumbs for the tofu breading during the day and basically just assembled everything when dinnertime began rolling around (that tofu is seriously SO GOOD). I also baked our chocolate-y dessert in advance and warmed it up a little when we were ready for some sweetness so the chocolate chunks could be nice and melt-y. The 'cherries on top' of the Cherry Chocolate Chunk Muffin and soy vanilla ice cream is simply 1 cup of thawed frozen pitted cherries and a shot of amaretto, heated on the stove top until the desired temperature was reached (unfortunately it isn't cherry season, otherwise I would have used fresh). My beau and I were still pretty full from dinner so we ended up sharing the above dessert instead of each having our own...tres romantique, no?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

4 Ingredient Vegan Banana Pancakes

4 Ingredient Vegan Banana Pancakes with a few pecans and maple syrup.

So, y'know, I have a confession to make: I've started doing Blogilates.

This is unlike me. I'm usually such a skeptic of 'healthy living' communities, and I'm always a skeptic of calling your eating habits 'clean' (no one should ever be pressed to feel guilty or inferior because they eat foods declared 'dirty' by online health and fitness enthusiasts) - but I can look somewhat past those implications because Cassey Ho actually makes me feel excited about exercise. Cassey's intentions seem genuinely wholehearted and her positivity is infectious. I've been in a bit of a rut, doing the same yoga practice sequences over and over for the past year and a half, so actually getting myself onto my mat had become something I felt I should be doing and not something I actually wanted to do. Of course this mindset led to me not doing much of anything other than walking the dog - and as a result, I felt incredibly sluggish. Cassey's bubbly attitude, her unrelated anecdotes while making your muscles burn, and her unbridled enthusiasm for her work has reignited my hankering for a good sweat and that sweet rush of endorphins. For that, I am grateful.

I am not grateful for fat talk, or lists that include 'the best ways to shed those pounds', or 'before and after' photos, but it's incredibly difficult to enter any new exercise community on the internet that doesn't have a dark side to it. I support people who want to pursue healthy lives, physically and mentally (whatever that individually means for them), but I don't support stark contributions to diet culture. The Blogilates community, for me, is an annoying dilemma wherein I know much of the website's content is potentially problematic - but fortunately I have the tools to enjoy it, regardless. It all goes back to being able to earnestly consume a product while remaining acutely aware of its faults...(Also: hallelujah for eating disorder recovery!)

So, now that I've got that out of the way, how about some easy-peasy quick vegan pancakes?

I've been following a Blogilates exercise calendar, and on the calendar it suggests trying these two ingredient pancakes that include eggs. I don't cook or bake with eggs, but the idea of such an easy pancake really appealed to me - and thus the 4 Ingredient Vegan Banana Pancake was born.


What I like about these pancakes :: 4 ingredients! No mussing and fussing to get every ingredient out of your pantry and ending up with flour all over the counter. This recipe makes you feel like you can easily have pancakes any day of the week. They filled me up (thanks to the nut butter addition, I'm sure) but didn't make me feel heavy like I tend to feel after eating traditional pancakes (not knocking traditional pancakes! I love me a good puffy pillow). You have the hot pancake experience without a potentially arduous recipe.

What not to expect :: Traditional pancakes. While these are ultimately satisfying, don't expect the cake-y confection you'll find at a local diner. These pancakes are mostly banana, after all.


4 Ingredient Vegan Banana Pancakes :: Serves 1, makes 3-4 pancakes
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed well
  • 3 tbsp ground flax (also known as flax seed meal)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp nondairy milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1 tbsp nut or seed butter of choice (I used creamy peanut butter)
In a cereal-sized bowl, whisk together flax and nondairy milk with a fork until 'gloopy', 30 seconds to a minute.

In a small bowl, make sure your banana is well mashed (a few small chunks are fine). Mash the nut/seed butter into the banana. Add banana mixture to the flax mixture and combine well.

The batter!

Preheat a pan over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or add a touch of oil or margarine so that your pancakes don't stick (this may not be necessary if you're using a non-stick pan). Use the ¼ cup measuring cup you used for the nondairy milk to measure out and pour the batter into the pan; you should make 3-4 pancakes, depending on your size preference (you could also make little dime pancakes, I'm sure). Cook until the edges of the pancake appear dry and the underside is sufficiently browned. Flip and cook for a few more minutes until the second side is golden brown.

Freshly in the pan.

Cover with your favorite toppings and eat!



Optional additions ::

  • An extra tbsp of nut/seed butter to the batter
  • Sprinkle cinnamon, ginger, or pumpkin pie spice on top of the pancakes while the first side is cooking
  • Sprinkle a few berries or chocolate chips on top of the pancakes while the first side is cooking
  • Add a tbsp or two of your favorite flour to the batter for a heartier pancake
  • ¼ tsp vanilla, almond, or lemon extract
  • ¼ tsp of baking powder for a fluffier pancake

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day: Part 2

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Whatever you plan to do for Valentine's Day, why not spend a little additional time in the kitchen creating something decadently delicious? A handful of months ago I created a Tumblr in order to generate personal motivation and stimulate fresh ideas while collecting photographs and recipes of vegan food. In an effort to help with any V-Day (or G-Day, or Friday night, or anniversary, or whatever) menu planning, I looked through a few of the tags on Cooking-Vegan and was able to compile the following lists. Why would you want to leave the comfort of your home to go out to a loud busy restaurant when you can create an impressive meal yourself for a fraction of the price - with a bottle of wine (or beer, or lemonade, or whatever) in hand? Just clicking through these recipes made me want to go to the grocery store and break out the fancy plates and a pink tablecloth. Homemade croissants? Roasted cauliflower steaks? A cookie made with purple potatoes? Count me in.


Breakfast inspiration::




Dinner ideas::




Dessert enthusiasm::