Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mom's Garden Birthday Dinner

It was my mom's birthday last month. In my mind, my mother is ageless. She seems to get more fit, active, beautiful, happy and in touch with herself and her surroundings as each year passes. She is an incredible inspiration as a woman and as a friend. I am endlessly grateful to have such a rock solid support system in my life and I recognize how drastically different a person I would be without her. 

With all that in mind, I am always thinking of ways to do unique and memorable things for her - especially on her birthday! Last year, we went to the fabulous Summer's End Vegan Dinner but as the dinner is being put on later this year, I decided to do something similar with my own personal touch. Basing the menu around seasonal veggies that I pulled from our garden, I utilized Pinterest to create a 5-course vegan menu that I prepared from our kitchen for my mom and her boyfriend. 

I even made my own cute little menu! And I decorated the table with flowers from our garden and candles and a homemade little center piece. It really was such a joy to set up. All in all, I spent about 4 hours straight in the kitchen, but it was well worth it! We all had a blast.

Naturally, everything I cooked had my own twist and I didn't really utilize any of the Pinterest recipes in their entirety, choosing instead to utilize what I had on hand. Also unusual, however, is that I didn't really pay close attention to my recipe amounts so instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I did, I am going to post the original recipe, the link to my inspiration, and my general modifications for each dish.

Starting with the "cheese" nut and fruit plate:

I provided two different kinds of vegan cheese alongside two varieties of crackers, figs, grapes, and a small bowl each of marcona almonds and these bomb Thai Chili Lime almonds from Trader Joe's. 

The first cheese was the Daiya Jalapeno Havarti wedge cheese that I cut into small slices. 

The second was inspired by this recipe for "Raw Vegan Goat Cheese" from Fork and Beans:

For Nut Cheese:
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours, drained
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For Basil Pesto:
  • 1 c. basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • In a food processor, combine all ingredients together.
  • 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
  • extra pine nuts to top with
  • Take both small glass ramekins and line with plastic wrap. Don’t skip this step. Trust me. I learned the hard way.
  • In a high-speed blender, blend all of the nut cheese ingredients until smooth. Place part of the mixture into lined ramekins.
  • Add pesto layer on top. Top with sun-dried tomatoes. Layer with remaining cheese.
  • Refrigerate for several hours until set. You can also freeze it.
  • Line a small appetizer plate with olive oil and dust with dried basil. Set 1 cheese block onto place, take off plastic wrap carefully, drizzle with oil and herbs, and top with pine nuts.
  • Pairs perfectly with rice crackers.

For my cheese, I followed the top part of the recipe pretty closely, but incorporated some nutritional yeast and some garlic salt. I made pesto from the basil in our garden, adhering to my normal MO of using frozen (slightly thawed) peas and cutting waaay back on oil. Then, instead of using sun dried tomatoes, I chose to cover the top with a good layer of fig compote that I had in the cupboard. I'd been looking for a good use for it and I thought it would pair perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese and savory flavors of the pesto. And it did! 

My mom's boyfriend--NOT a vegan and learning day by day what vegans can actually eat :)--absolutely loved this cheese. There was a bunch left over (it was a massive amount) and he proceeded to eat it the next day for breakfast. I'd call that a win.

Next on the menu (not pictured) were the crispy quinoa zucchini flowers. I actually really had no idea what I was doing here but I'd heard somewhere that you could pan or deep fry stuffed zucchini flowers and since we had a bunch in our garden I figured I would give it a try. Basically, I used these Quinoa Cluster snacks that I had in the cupboard, pulsed them briefly in my food processor, stirred them in with Daiya's cream cheese and carefully spooned the mixture into the center of each zucchini flower. After heating about an inch of coconut oil in a heavy bottomed skilled, I briefly fried each one before serving it. I chose not to batter them because I was lazy but they actually turned out perfectly anyway so I was left with the impression that they don't need to be battered. So that was (mini) course #2!

Next on the menu, with our overabundance of zucchini, was this GORGEOUS Zucchini Ribonette salad with a miso vinaigrette. The original recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver's Zucchini Salad, but I basically made my own dressing with ingredients I had on hand.

The original recipe looked like this:

  • 4 courgettes, (mixture of yellow and green)
  • 1–2 fresh red chillies
  • 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • sea salt
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil, leaves picked

Using a speed peeler, peel the courgettes lengthways into long thin ribbons, then finely chop the chillies and add both to a bowl. 

In a small jug, add the juice of the lemon and top up with double the amount of extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the mustard powder and a pinch salt, then mix well and pour over the salad. Toss to coat, then scatter over the basil leaves and serve immediately.

My salad looked similar in its final form, but I used my spiralizer to ribonette the zucchini and then I made a dressing using white miso, pure maple syrup, lemon, coconut vinegar, cilantro and garlic salt. It was delish! A GREAT use of zucchini - slicing it thinly and putting a kick-ass dressing on it makes raw zucchini much more palatable than it otherwise is.

For the next mini course, the frozen lime apertif, I just blended ice, fresh squeezed lime juice, a pinch of salt and agave nectar to taste in my vitamix until it had a nice sorbet-like texture. I served it in a little bowl with a tiny spoon to cleanse the palate before the main course!

Which was this! Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Primavera! Inspired by this recipe from Lexi's Clean Kitchen. I liked this recipe because it was really simple but also a unique way to utilize spaghetti squash and LOTS of veggies. We had (still have) so much spaghetti squash in our garden that I am running out of ways to use it. This recipe was flavorful, fun and simple. Heeellloooo love!

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground garlic
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 handfuls of organic spinach
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • OPTIONAL: protein
  • OPTIONAL: other veggies (zucchini, broccoli, grape tomatoes, asparagus)
  • OPTIONAL: Garnish with fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Roast spaghetti squash
3. Prepare protein of choice (I grilled 2 organic chicken breasts and shrimp)
4. In a medium-size pot add oil, garlic, and onion and sauté for for 3-5 minutes
5. Add in spaghetti squash and mix well
6. Add in sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and any other vegetables of choice
7. Add in protein and mix well to combine
8. Top with fresh basil (optional) and serve hot; taste and add Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

I followed this recipe, at its core, pretty closely. I basically just added a ton more veggies (cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes) and arranged it a little differently. Like I said, this is a great, simple and flavorful recipe that is easy to build on and highlights spaghetti squash perfectly!

Last but not least!!! DESSERT:

These are rainbow carrot cake cupcakes! I actually made these in the photo above for a friends birthday and then saved the batter and made tiny carrot cakes in these adorable Le Crueset ramekins that I have. The cupcake photos turned out better though so I chose to use those :) 

These cakes were inspired by this recipe from The Green Forks. I didn't use the cashew frosting part of the recipe but rather I chose to make a simple vegan buttercream frosting with maple syrup and then toasted up some coconut to top them off!

Oh, also! They are rainbow because I used purple and yellow and orange carrots from the farmers market to make them. So colorful!!

Carrot Cake:
  • ¼ cup spelt flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly shredded carrots (on small holes of grater box)
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FOR THE CAKE: In a small bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In separate a small bowl, mix together carrots, milk, oil, and vanilla.
Pour wet ingredients into dry; stir with a rubber spatula until no flour bits remain.
Pour into two greased 4-ounce ramekins, two mugs, OR 2 cupcake cups.
TO BAKE: At 350°F for 18 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool 10 minutes before removing.

I followed the recipe pretty closely but used applesauce and only a baby scoop of coconut oil. I also added some cloves and used brown sugar instead of straight regular sugar. 

That's the menu! And that's all for now lovers! 

Live long and prosper, and don't ever be afraid to do what you love as a way to show others that you love them! Your passion will not go unappreciated :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Hello blog world! 

Did you miss me?

I've had some things going on as of late. Namely, this little test called the Bar exam. It was probably the least exciting and most stressful 3ish months of my life, but it's over over over and I'm back to cooking up a storm. That being said, I am super stoked on all of the people who continued to follow my blog, contact me and repost recipes while I was gone. It was a nice surprise to come back and check my views! Y'all didn't forget about me!

Now that I'm back, I've got a lot of fun stuff coming your way - starting with this magnificent recipe that was made by request for one of my besties. 

I cook for my friends often and normally I just make whatever I feel like making, but sometimes I ask for their opinions and on occasion I oblige their requests. This was one of those times.

Eggplant parm is a dish that runs the spectrum from easy to complicated and from super healthy to fried and gross. Obviously, my take on this Italian classic (is it an Italian classic? I don't even know. Maybe it's just an Italian poser dish that Olive Garden and the Food Network picked up and branded as "authentic") is going to be on the easy, healthy sides of the spectrums (is that the plural of spectrum? There are a lot of parentheses in this blog post; I apologize. Sort of.)

I rarely take the time to make my own pasta sauces for dishes like this (because it's supposed to be easy and fast and a good jarred pasta sauce is so good, right?!) but I had a bunch of tomatoes and fresh herbs and things at my disposal so I just went ahead and made my own marinara sauce which was surprisingly easy. You basically just put a bunch of fresh tomatoes, about half a can of tomato paste, a little veggie broth, whatever italian herbs you have on hand (dried or fresh), about a tablespoon of either sugar or agave (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, it won't make the sauce sweet, I promise) and some coconut oil in a big pot and then put it on low heat for like an hour and voila! Marinara sauce. You could puree it if you were being super serious but I like mine chunky!

OK! Enough talk! Here is the recipe:

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
  • 3 small eggplants, cut into rounds (I had eggplants from my garden, they were so petite!)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (I used really awesome gluten free ones but you could also use panko or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I actually used 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, pepper and italian seasoning, to taste
  • Marinara sauce (jarred is totally fine or you can make it yourself - see the above tips)
  • 1 cup Daiya or other nondairy cheese
  • Fresh basil for garnishing

Start by salting the eggplant rounds in order to "sweat" them.  Basically, you just want to rub them down with salt and let them sit for 30 minutes to an hour. They will literally develop beads of sweat as the salt draws the water out. It's pretty neat.

After you sweat the eggplant, rinse the excess salt off. At this point, some people like to peel the eggplant skins off but I'm lazy and stuff so I just salt and sweat em' and throw em' into the batter with the skin still on.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Prepare your batter by whisking the nondairy milk, mustard, vinegar and spices in a shallow bowl.

Dip each piece of eggplant into the batter and then into the breadcrumbs and place on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Bake the slices for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Top with warm marinara and sprinkles of Daiya cheese (I put mine back in the oven for an additional couple minutes to melt the cheese a little). Garnish with fresh basil.

That's all for now!

Live long and prosper, and remember to sometimes listen to your friends :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Easter Brunch

Coming in a close second behind Thanksgiving, Easter is easily one of my favorite holidays. And since all of my favorite holidays are defined basically by the food I get to cook and eat, Easter is one of my favorite food days of the year. 

I always seem to bite off more than I can chew on Easter for some reason, so this year I wanted to keep it really simple. Spent the entirety of the morning trail running and then came back to cook for 8 people, so I needed an easy and relatively fast menu.

Here's how it shook out:
  • Tropical Fruit Salad
  • Egg Bake (using chickie eggs but not pictured because not technically vegan - which is actually a shame because it was DELICIOUS and one of my favorite things that I've made in a while. Inspiration here!) 
  • Strawberry Coconut Scones
  • Mixed Potato + Kale Hash
  • Grilled Asparagus w/Caramelized Onions
  • Roasted Beet + Hazelnut Salad

So simple and yet so satisfying! Also got up early Easter morning to fresh squeeze a pitcher of orange and a pitcher of grapefruit juices to make mimosas! That was a highlight, for sure. There are few things I love more than fresh squeezed grapefruit mimosas.

For the scones, I had left over strawberries and always have coconut in the freezer, so I essentially just used ingredients I already had with a simple scone base, utilizing coconut oil as the fat. You could easily make these with blueberries or raspberries or even marion berries. So many berries. So many options. 

Strawberry-Coconut Scones
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut 
  • 1/2 cup fresh sliced strawberries
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, make sure coconut oil is softened (either in the microwave or stove if it's not a warm day) and whisk in the coconut milk and maple syrup.

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just combined. Gently fold in the shredded coconut and strawberries.

These scones have a moister batter than some, so they are more suited as a drop-scone (vs. forming and cutting them). That was fine by me since my whole goal was to keep em' easy. 

Drop a spoonful of scone batter onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-14 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. 

Moving on! Hash time! The thing that I love about hash is it is probably one of the easiest, most difficult to screw up dishes ever and I have yet to meet a person who doesn't like a good hash. Hash is traditionally made using left over ingredients (greens, potatoes) and re-vamped with onion, garlic and spices - but then again hash is also traditionally made using meat so I'm just getting crazy here with my rendition. 

I never use or follow a recipe to make hash because it's always different and I always just make it to taste.

Essentially, I boil the crap out of a bunch of potatoes (I used a combination of white and red fingerlings and sweet potatoes) that I don't even bother to peel (the skins are the healthiest part!!) and then, in a large sauté pan or skillet, combine onions, leeks, garlic, carrots and whatever other base-veggies are accessible and cook them together with some earth balance and half a can of tomato paste for a few minutes. Then throw in some chopped kale and let that cook down for a minute or so. Drain the potatoes (they should be on the verge of mushy so that you can easily mash everything together) and chop them coarsely. Throw them in the pan and add some fresh herbs (I used cilantro and basil) as well as garlic powder, turmeric, thyme, lots of salt, fresh ground pepper and a tsp or two of liquid smoke. 

Mix everything together over low heat and viola! Hash. 

(Note: you could also add any of the following: beans, peppers, broccoli, lentils, field roast, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado... The list goes on!)

Next on the simple but delicious docket was the asparagus. Caramelized some onions in the oven for a good 15 minutes, tossed the asparagus (out of our garden and a friend's garden!!!) in a light coating of oil, drizzled some fig-balsamic vinegar over the top and then salt and peppered the crap out of it. Roasted in the oven for 25 minutes or so (just keep an eye on it and sample every so often). 
You can roast the beets at the same time. Just peel and chop them, coat them in oil and throw them in the oven as well. Toast up some (local) hazelnuts and toss everything together with some fresh cilantro and a balsamic reduction. 

You can't go wrong, really. As long as you know how to roast vegetables and you can get the right combination of spices and herbs, you are golden.

Easter brunch. Simplified.

Also. This happened on easter:

Thanks, Easter inventory.

Live long and prosper, loves. And don't let holidays too complicated.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo

A few weeks ago, I saw this blog post on Oh She Glows. I was sort of in disbelief when I saw it. How have I never heard of such a thing?! How have I been an avid vegan blog reader, pinterest pinner and foodie for five years and did not know that Cauliflower Alfredo sauce existed?!

I am still unsure of the answers to these fundamental life questions, but I do know that since discovering Cauliflower Alfredo was a thing, it has become a major part of my life. The first time I made this recipe, I made it for myself (because I was still skeptical that it was as good as I wanted it to be) and I was smitten. Since then I have made it 2 or 3 more times--always for friends--and they keep on wanting more. I've utilized a few different techniques and ingredients and picked up a couple tricks and tips along the way.

Without further adieu, I present:

Cauliflower Alfredo

  • 1 small/medium cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk (unsweetened, unflavored) (note: I use either soy, coconut or hazelnut because I find rice or almond to be too watery)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or other acid like a vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp prepared mustard (I used Dijon but any yellow mustard will be just fine!)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 small onion, roasted
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, roasted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes, diced 
  • 3 small/medium zucchini, spiralized

To Prepare

Lightly steam the cauliflower with just a touch of sea salt in a large steamer. Place all of the ingredients except the sun-dried tomatoes and the zucchini in a Vitamix (or other blender or food processor, whatever you have). Process until smooth and creamy. I like to leave mine in the Vitamix for 5-10 minutes until it just starts to get warm.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and cauliflower alfredo together. Serve immediately.

So simple and so absolutely delicious! I cannot believe how creamy this dish is, and because it is so healthy, you can feel free to chow down! Also pairs well with a nice bottle of red :)


Live long and prosper! And never underestimate the versatility of even the most familiar veggies. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cookies and Cinnamon Rolls

The title of this post says it all. Cookies and cinnamon rolls comprised a large portion of my winter "break" (I put break in quotes because between working on my final law school paper, working and finishing finals it didn't feel like much of a break - which probably explains why I baked so many sweets). Normally, I'm not a huge sweets-eater but winter break was unusually sugary this year.

I like to think others benefited from my baking - I gave away a LOT of cookies this year :) I also ate a lot of them. Then I had to do a sugar fast because I got to the point where I felt like I was craving sugar all the time! No bueno! It really only takes a week to cutting way back on processed sugars to get back on track though :)

All of the recipes I made were from Chloe Coscarelli's newest book Chloe's Vegan Desserts. Chloe did a book tour when she was promoting this book and stopped in Portland. My dad and I had planned on attending but I was unable to at the last minute. My dad, being the awesome dad and best friend that he is, decided to go to her presentation on his own. After she was done speaking, he went to get this book signed for me and ended up talking to Chloe for 15-20 minutes.  This is my book:


Isn't that just the best? Haha apparently they got along famously (jealous!)

And Chloe really is the best. She is a phenomenal baker (obvi. - she won "Cupcake Wars" AND "Cupcake Wars Champions" with her vegan creations). Every single thing (which is most everything in the book at this point) that I have made out of this cookbook has turned out absolutely incredible. I don't even want to use any other recipes. 

I'm tellin' ya, Chloe knows her stuff. 

Alright, first on the docket: CHLOE-O's

They are delicious, healthier, homemade Oreos! The best! This recipe makes about 16 sandwich cookies.

Chocolate Cookie

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 3 Tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cookies

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda until combined. Add margarine, milk, and vanilla. Process until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Chill the dough in the refrigerator, covered, for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper (I used a Silpat). Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and place onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each ball. Evenly flatten the dough with the palm of your hand so that it is about 1/4 inch thick and bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan. 

For the Filling

Using a mixer, beat shortening and margarine until smooth and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

To Assemble
Spread a layer of filling on the flat bottom side of a cookie. Place the flat bottom side of another cookie on top of the filling. Lightly press the cookies together. Repeat with remaining cookies.

So, technically, the next recipe is for "Pumpkin-Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing" but I made them sans cranberries and they turned out just beautifully. I just wanted to hit the maple/pumpkin hard and while I do love cranberries, I decided to keep this recipe just slightly simpler.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/Maple Icing

For the Dough

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or cooked fresh
  • 1 cup soy, almond or rice milk
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided (also some extra for rolling!)

For the Filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon (or 4 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice)
  • 4 Tbsp vegan margarine, melted

For the Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1-3 Tbsp non-dairy milk

To make the Dough

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk pumpkin purée, nondairy milk, 1/2 cup sugar, margarine and salt over low heat until combined. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let it cool until very warm to the touch, about 110 degrees.

2. While the pumpkin mixture is cooling, place the warm water, remaining 1 Tbsp sugar and yeast in a glass measuring cup. Stir for a second or two and set aside for about 10 minutes. The yeast will become foamy, double in size, and reach the 3/4-cup line. If it does not do so, then the yeast is dead or the water was not at the proper temperature, so make another yeast mixture before proceeding.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin mixture and the yeast mixture, and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, and add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat until incorporated and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat for 1 more minute. The dough will be somewhat wet and sticky. Change to a dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed for 2 minutes, or place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes by hand. If needed, add more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

4. Transfer the dough to a large well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough, so that it is completely covered with oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen. Let it sit until it has doubled in volume (about 1 1/2 hours).

5. Remove the kitchen towel and punch your fist in the center of the dough, so that the dough deflates. Take the dough out and put it on a floured surface, cover with the kitchen towel, and let rest for about 10 minutes.

To make the Filling + to Assemble

1. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch pan. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 20- x 13-inch rectangle. Brush or spread the melted margarine over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. 

3. With the long end toward you, roll the dough up evenly. With the seam side down, use a sharp knife to cut the log in half. Then cut each half into 6 equal pieces. You will have 12 cinnamon rolls. Place the rolls, cut side up, into the prepared pan, in 4 rows with 3 rolls in each row, leaving some space between them. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen until the rolls have risen again and expanded, about 1 hour.

4. Once the cinnamon rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned on top. You can poke inside with a toothpick to make sure they are fully cooked through before removing them from the oven. Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes before glazing.

To make the icing:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin puree and 1 tbsp milk at a time, until smooth.

2. Drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I also made Chloe's basic chocolate chip cookie recipe! Except I made them mini. Mini cookies (like the size of silver dollars) with mini chocolate chips. This is my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe! It's a win every time (you will have to buy the book to get it, though! I can't include everything on here ;)

Live long and prosper, lovers! And enjoy all things sweet <3 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thanksgiving 2013

Woah. It is already January and I haven't done my annual Thanksgiving post yet! IN MY DEFENSE, Thanksgiving was really late this year!

Sorry, lovers. It was a mighty busy end to the year but I have a little more flexibility time-wise for the next couple weeks so I will have a slew of posts comin' atcha!

This past Thanksgiving was my 5th Thanksgiving as a vegan. As per usual, it was full of delicious food, great company, and stellar wine. I feel incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful network of family and friends who are, at the very least, open to veganism on Thanksgiving and who gladly accommodate my enthusiasm for cooking and preparing vegan meals.

The menu this year included (but was not limited to):

  • Quinoa stuffed baby bell peppers
  • Cashew Cheese Ball 
  • Brussel Sprouts with Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms
  • Cornbread and Kale Stuffing
  • Mojito-Lime Fruit Salad
  • Tabouli salad (made by a friend)
  • A slow-cooked Cashew and Roasted Vegetable Rice Dish (made by a friend)
  • Spiced Cranberries
  • Grilled Asparagus (made by a friend)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Soft Dinner Rolls
  • Tofurky w/ Roasted Root Vegetables (made by a friend)
  • 2 types of gravy: mushroom and a nutritional yeast 
  • Pumpkin-Caramel Cheesecake with a Caramel Drizzle 
Anyone who ever said it would be difficult to be vegan on Thanksgiving has clearly never met me. Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. Probably because eating is my favorite past-time and it is just such a wonderful time to show all the people in your life how much you appreciate them. Also, it is a great time to spread the word about the treatment of animals through food and love. 

Get outta here turkey, we don't need ya on our dinner plates!

In general, I tried to keep it super simple this year. I didn't use a whole lot of recipes (aside from the pumpkin caramel cheesecake which was totally new and turned out delightfully), rather I focused on techniques and flavors I was familiar with. Lots of onions and mirepoix, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, good healthy oils (mainly avocado), herb rubs and salt blends and flavorful, robust, seasonal vegetables that were roasted, sautéed, pureed, and cooked in an assortment of different ways.

For example, for the brussel sprouts, I simply drizzled a massive stalk of sprouts with a bunch of avocado oil, seasoned with good salt and herbs and roasted until the outer layers were crispy. I didn't even set a timer; I just let them roast and made minor adjustments until they tasted good to me:) Then, I sautéed up a bunch of baby portobello mushrooms with some soy sauce, avocado oil, salt and pepper and then tossed the brussel sprouts and mushrooms together as one dish. So simple yet so incredibly satisfying! The crispy outer layers of the sprouts contrasted beautifully with the soft, succulent mushrooms and the flavors complemented each other nicely.

Cornbread made night before for the cornbread stuffing
For the cornbread-kale stuffing, I made up a batch of the Trader Joe's boxed cornbread mix (this stuff is the BEST EVER - make it with a flax egg!) in my cast-iron pan the night before and left it out overnight to stale out a tiny bit. Then I basically just sautéed a onion and celery with a bunch of fresh herbs (see: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) w/a big ol' glob of Earth Balance in my le creuset pan. I added in the kale and let it wilt down slightly and then crumbled the cornbread straight into the pan, added a cup or so of bread crumbs and about a cup of good veggie broth. Then I popped it in the oven until the top was nicely browned. It was hands-down my favorite stuffing ever.

Quinoa-spinach stuffed baby bell peppers

Cashew "Cheese" ball

Brussel Sprouts + Mushrooms

Cashew, vegetable rice dish

Tabouli Salad

Mojito Fruit Salad

Cornbread kale stuffing

Roasted asparagus

Homemade cranberry sauce

Tofurky with roasted root vegetables

My Plate! (Well, the first one at least)

I made the pumpkin-caramel cheesecake with caramel drizzle the night before, as well. This thing was AMAZING and I would absolutely definitely for-sure make it again.

Pumpkin-Caramel Cheesecake

Adapted from Namely Marley

For the Cookie Crust
  • Most of a container of Trader Joe's cinnamon cat cookies
  • 2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil, melter
Preheat oven to 350ᵒF. Spray springform pan w/cooking spray

Toast the walnuts to bring out their flavor by spreading walnuts in a single layer in a large skillet or sauté pan and toast briefly until just beginning to brown and fragrant.

Pulse cookies and walnuts until course. Add the spices and brown sugar and pulse again to combine. Add melted coconut oil and pulse until incorporated.

Spread into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Combine sugars and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. 

Cook for a minute or two until the sugars dissolve. Increase the heat slightly to allow the mixture to come to a boil. Continue to cook until the caramel thickens to a desired consistency.
Remove from heat, add the vanilla and coconut oil and stir until the oil is incorporated into the caramel. Set aside to cool.

For the Pumpkin-Cheesecake Filling
  • 1 tub vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya's new cream cheese and it is SO GOOD. The best I've had)
  • 1 package 14-15 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups white Sugar
  • 1 can  Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
Combine all filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and fully combined (about a minute).

Assemble the Pumpkin Cheesecake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Remove crust from fridge. Spread dollops of the caramel sauce over the crust. Spread about half the filling evenly over the caramel sauce. Spread more dollops of caramel sauce (save some for the topping though!) Spread the second half of the cheesecake filling over that caramel layer! Top with remaining cheesecake filling, reserving some caramel sauce for topping.

Bake for an hour and 20 minutes or until the top looks slightly browned and the center of the cake looks relatively firm (a little jiggly is OK). Set the cheesecake on a rack to cool. Then top with topping ingredients (extra chopped walnuts, crushed cookies, caramel sauce). Refrigerate for AT LEAST 4 hours before serving. I put mine in the refrigerator all night and most of the next day and it was just perfect :)

So concludes my annual Thanksgiving post! If you have questions about any of the other recipes feel free to comment or contact me!

Live long and prosper. And cook tasty food for your loved ones during the holidays!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

Another pumpkin recipe! Not out of the ordinary at all for me this time of year, as I tend to put pumpkin in everything, but exciting nonetheless.

You can never have too much pumpkin! I always say...

But really, there is an abundance of this nutrient-dense, widely applicable squash this time of year, so get it while it is in season! After Halloween, many places practically give pumpkins away (the pumpkin I last bought was from a farm stand at the market where every pumpkin was $1, regardless of size). Plus: when you buy pumpkins, not only do you have the flesh with which you can make innumerable pumpkin baked goods or add to any assortment of things such as smoothies, oatmeal, risotto, pasta (the list goes on and on) BUT YOU ALSO HAVE THE SEEDS. Roast them! Snacks for days!

It's such a magical squash. I absolutely adore pumpkin.

For this particular recipe, I used pureed pumpkin that I made by simply roasting a large, de-seeded and cut-up pumpkin in the oven at 425 for about 30-40 minutes (or until the flesh is soft), removing the outer skin and then pureeing it in my vitamix for about a minute. I then distributed the pumpkin puree among 3 containers, leaving on in the fridge and placing two in the freezer for later use.

You could theoretically roast up as much pumpkin as you liked and place it in freezer safe containers and have pumpkin puree all year! And all from a $1 pumpkin! Your yield will be about 10X that of canned pumpkin and for a fraction of the price. So neat.

Pumpkin Scones w/Maple Glaze

I made these scones on the smaller side (mini scones!) but feel free to make them larger if that suits your purpose :)

For the Scones  
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold Earth Balance
  • 1 cup homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Almond milk, for consistency
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir together until fully mixed.

Using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut the cold Earth Balance into the dry mix until crumbly.

Mix in the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and almond milk until a thick dough is formed.

Form the dough into 2 circles (3/4 - 1 inch in depth). Use a super sharp knife to cut into 8 equal wedges (per dough - 16 wedges total).

Place the scones in the oven and cook for 13-14 minutes (for little guys) or 16-17 minutes (for larger guys).

After the scones have cooled slightly, top them with maple glaze and chopped walnuts. 

For the Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp high quality salt
  • 1 Tbsp melted Earth Balance
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup 
  • Almond milk, for consistency (I made my glaze a little thinner but it's totally up to you!) 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely
Whisk together all ingredients except almond milk and walnuts in a medium bowl. Add almond milk until you reach desired consistency.

Using a large spoon, drizzle and smooth glaze over scones evenly. While still sticky, top with chopped walnuts. 

These are so pretty and a GREAT choice for use of pumpkin. They are relatively low in sugar and all around a great fall snack. Pair with a chai tea latte and you have exemplified the season in food-form.


Live long and prosper. And put pumpkin in everything. Tis the season.