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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seasonal Weeknight Eats

Despite the fact that we are still having summery weather in Portland, the produce that is in season is definitively autumn-y. I always think I am going to be so sad when the summer bounty is gone, but there is still so much bounty being produced by all of the wonderful farmers who make their living in Oregon that it is difficult to feel anything but grateful.

This week, I picked up:

Kale (2 kinds)
Collard Greens
Baby Bell Peppers
Purple Cabbage
Zucchini (late season)
Delicata Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Butternut Squash
Apples (3 kinds)
Pears (2 kinds)
GF Bread from Happy Campers
Hops Honeywine from Nectar Creek
White Radish Kimchi from Choi's Kimchi

 I mean, look at that list! What an incredible amount of beautiful foods are still available, in this unseasonably sunny and dry October. So in love with my local food community right now!

In celebration of these autumn veggies (and fruits!) - I have a couple quick, fresh and easy to prepare weeknight recipes to share that really maximize these seasonal-veggie goodness.

Raw Collard Wraps with Zucchini-Cashew Cream 

For the Wraps
  • 2 large collard leaves
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 small head of purple cabbage, chopped
  • 6-8 florets of broccoli, chopped
  • 6-8 florets of cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2  avocado, chopped
Remove the stems from the collard leaves so they are pliable and foldable. (If you need to briefly steam them, feel free - I did and it made them easier to work with!)

Layer all chopped veggies on top of leaves and top with Zucchini-Cashew Cream!

For the Zucchini-Cashew Cream
  • 1/2 small zucchini
  • Small handful of cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Small handful basil + small handful of cilantro
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of salt
Place all ingredients in the Vitamix or other blender and blend until smooth. Pour on top of collard wrap and fold up like a burrito!

Delicata Squash, Kale and Purple Cabbage Scramble
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 small delicata squash, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 head kale, chopped
  • 1/2 small purple cabbage, chopped
  • Veggie broth/white wine, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp garlic salt
Saute onion and garlic in the coconut oil for 5-7 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Add veggie broth or white wine if they start to stick.

Add chopped delicata squash (you can leave the skin on! It tastes delicious) and saute for another 3 minutes. Continue to add broth/wine as needed. 

Add chopped cabbage and saute for another 5 or so minutes

Add kale and garlic salt and saute for a final 3 minutes or until kale is wilted

Raw Pad Thai

For the Noodles
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced 
Spiralize zucchini and carrot with a spiralizer (or use a veggie peeler or mandolin to make "noodles"). Combine zucchini, carrot, and bell pepper in a large bowl. Set onion and avocado to the side. 

For the Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp raw almond or peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup 
  • 1 tsp Trader Joes Thai Spice Blend
  • Water, as needed
Place all ingredients in Vitamix or other blender and blend until smooth! Pour over veggies and toss until completely coated. Top with avocado and green onions!

That's it, loves! Hope you got some inspiration for all that beautiful and bountiful farmers market produce! Don't let it go to waste!!

Live long and prosper! And nourish your body ALL week with simple, fresh meals :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

My absolute favorite part of this time of year is pumpkin. Hands down, pumpkin things win my heart in terms of fall favorites. Pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie, pumpkin candles, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin seeds, and dogs dressed up as pumpkins (of course Wyatt has a pumpkin costume). Yes, falling leaves are beautiful; yes, scarves and boots are a nice change of pace; yes, crisp, clean mornings and dynamic trail runs are much appreciated; but pumpkin takes the cake.

Speaking of cake, I decided to exemplify this love of pumpkin into my favorite food-form: cupcakes.

These pumpkin cupcakes are heavy on the pumpkin flavors. Using canned pumpkin in conjunction with the pumpkin pie spice and the sweet molasses from the brown sugar (not to mention the pumpkin pie frosting) mean these cupcakes are pure fall happiness in cake form.

I chose to use flax eggs in this recipe, but I am assuming vinegar+soymilk (buttermilk) or egg replacer would work just as well. You can also use roasted pumpkin - just puree it and sub it in for canned pumpkin. Also, if you are looking to cut down on the oil - sub out 1/4 cup oil for 1/4 cup applesauce. Whatever floats your boat.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • 2 "flax eggs" (2 tbsp. flax + 6 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, prepare your flax eggs. Place flax in bowl and then whisk in cold water. Leave in fridge for 10 minutes or so to thicken.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. When flax egg is prepared, fold in wet ingredients, including canned pumpkin. If batter is too thick, add a little bit of non-dairy milk until smooth.

Line cupcake tin with liners and pour batter into liners until about 1/2 - 3/4 full.

Place cupcakes in preheated oven and bake for 17-19 minutes, depending on your oven.

While the cupcakes are cooking, prepare your frosting!

Pumpkin Pie Frosting
  • 1/2 cup vegan nonhydrogenated shortening  
  • 1/2 cup vegan nonhydrogenated margarine (i.e. Earth Balance - I used the whipped) 
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3-4 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Splash of nondairy milk, if needed 
 In a stand mixer (preferably kitchen aid), beat the margarine and shortening together until fluffy.

Slowly add in powdered sugar and continue to beat for another 4-5 minutes.

Add pumpkin, spices and nondairy milk (if needed - add this last) and continue to beat for another 5 or so minutes or until light and fluffy and frosting-y!

Pipe frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes and be ready to get hit with fall flavors!

Ah! Wonderful :) Feel free to pair with a Hot Toddy, mulled wine or - best idea, yet - Pumpkin beer!

Live long and prosper! And enjoy this wonderful season we call fall. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Summer's End Vegan Dinner

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who reads/has read/lives by/occasionally browses my blog. As of yesterday I reached 100,000 views which seems like a ton to me. I have received so many comments, questions and pleas for advice since beginning this blog and I really hope that, whatever your interaction with it, you have gotten something out of it! I really love being part of the blog world, so thanks!

OK! Onto the food!

For my mom's birthday, I made two reservations at the 3rd annual "Summer's End Vegan Dinner" hosted by Chef Greg Gourdet of Departure and Blossoming Lotus.

My general impression of the entire evening was basically that I was blown away. Seven courses of beautifully and articulately crafted vegan and paleo food complied by a couple of the best chefs Portland has to offer. I mean what could be better? This was the type of experience that is (yet another) reminder that vegan food can do pretty much anything "other" food can do. It can be just as complicated, flavorful, delicate, fine and diverse (in terms of flavor, texture and experience) as any other "fine dining" type of food. And it can do it better. And by harming the animals and the world less. Aaaand healthier.

I could go into complete detail about each course but I was so overwhelmed by the amazing-ness that I think my feelings got all mushed together and overlapped. So I'll just leave you with these photos along with a brief description of each course :)
Wanted to start with this photo because it is my favorite :) I mean, really. Look at that! It's spiced tamari glazed lobster mushrooms, purple potato dumplings, truffle-coconut broth with roasted heirloom veggies and lotus chips. The mushrooms were PERFECTLY cooked and the truffle-coconut broth complimented the delicacy of the whole dish quite well but honestly my favorite part of the whole thing was the potato dumplings. I don't have any idea how they were made or what else was in them but I literally could eat those dumplings every day. They were melt-in-your mouth delicious. I think they might have been my favorite part of the whole meal.

Taking a real quick step back, I am not generally a big hard-alcohol drinker and I started with a glass of wine when we were sitting on the back deck of the Nines before our reservation (see amazing photo of the view below!) but when I saw this on the menu, I had to have it. I do NOT like cloyingly sweet mixed drinks, but simultaneously spicy, salty and fresh-fruity drinks are on the top of my list.

And, of course, this drink has Jacobsen Salt on it (gets me everytime) so, naturally, I ordered it.

Let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed! Fresh jalapeno and fresh raspberry? Absolutely. This drink was perfectly balanced and complimented the meal delightfully.
The view that I mentioned :) The Nines is SUCH a beautiful hotel.

My mom and I, pre-meal <3
This first course was, as waitstaff informed us, was "not on the menu." It was just an extra little bonus appetizer (you know, just in case the six other courses weren't enough). There were little rice balls, a raw ravioli and sushi rolls with a couple purees on top. That is about  all I can tell you (remember - mushy emotions and thoughts about the food all blurred together because of the wonderful-ness)

Don't worry! This part WAS on the menu :) Official course #1 - charcuterie board. On it was (drum roll, please!) 

Part 1 (the cheeses)
1. Brie with a pear mostarda (which, I learned because I had to look it up, is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup)
2. Pepper jack with a red pepper jam
3. Apricot ginger chevre with apricot chutner

In terms of these cheeses, the cherve was both my mom and I's favorite. They were all so unique and had a shocking breadth of flavor and texture, but I do remember we agreed on the pairing of the cherve and apricots as the clear favorite. 

Part 2 (the other delicious things)
1. Broccoli and marinated tomato terrines
2. Shiitake mushroom mousse with blackberry glaze
3. Chia and pumpking seed crackers 

The crackers were BOMB. The broccoli was perched on top of a little broccoli pudding that was so fresh and smooth. The Shiitake mushroom mousse I really liked but my mom didn't. I thought it was a little much to have both the mushroom mousse and the broccoli pudding thing; they were too similar in texture and with everything else on the plate, I thought one or the other would have been sufficient. 

Seriously glowing with happiness :)
Course # 2/3 (depending on if you count the first appetizers...which I do. We'll call it #3) was the "End of Summer Fruit and Vegetable Trio"

From left to right:
Corn custard with grilled sweet corn, tomato syrup and sea beans
Smoked eggplant curry and roasted chile stuffed eggplant
Fig and walnut tart, ginger-onion marmalade and  beet vinaigrette

Each of the components on this place made me so excited. Sea beans! Fig tart! Smoked eggplant! That's sort of like what my reaction was like. I LOVE sea beans. Just love them. They are so real and fresh tasting - they really taste straight from the sea which I adore.
I am obsessed with figs. Can't ever get enough. So a fresh fig tart is obviously a win by my standards. 
The EGGPLANT. I don't know how they made the smoked eggplant but it was definitely one of my favorite bits of the night. I think that smoked eggplant would satisfy any meat-eater - it was so smokey and hearty. Just wonderful.

Soup course! Look at my mom...isn't she cute?

Soup! Celeriac and Macadamia Nut Soup to be exact. With an apple fritter (in the center), Asian pear, maple nam prik and thai basil. The beauty and delicacy of this soup speaks for itself. It was just as pleasurable to eat as it was to look at. Some serious culinary art right there. Plus I got to explain to my mom what celeriac is. And she liiikes it.

The mushroom/potato dumpling course, discussed above

Did I mention there were TWO dessert courses? No? Well there were.
Dessert course eins (pictured above): 

Grilled zucchini cake, triple peach ice cream, curry carrot curd with pomegranate syrup and candied carrot.

Edible flowers! And moist, fluffy zucchini cake, accented intelligently with the curry/carrot flavors. I love vegetables for dessert. Especially when they are so sweetly paired with a complex array of flavors.

Last but not least: Mignardises. Ginger beet lollipops. dark chocolate nut clusters, coconut caramels and raspberry pate de fruit.

I'm not going to lie, I was so full by this point that we had to take these desserts home. But since then I have snacked on them every night and that caramel is probably one of the greatest creations ever. I hadn't had caramel in so long and I forgot how good it is. Sigh.

So that concludes the summary of our wonderful evening! What an amazing experience. Can't wait to do it again next year. And if YOU'RE in the Portland area, you should definitely attend. You won't be sorry.

Thanks Chefs!!

All right beautiful people: as always, Live Long and Prosper. And thank you for all the love.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vegan Things I'm Loving

Life's craziness and my relative absence from the blog-scene does not mean I'm not still experiencing awesome vegan-related things on a near daily basis.

I am continually overwhelmed by how much incredible vegan stuff and amazing vegan people exist in our world.

As much as I love sharing my own personal cooking adventures, I want to give some props to some of the super vegan things I have encountered in the last couple weeks.

First stop - this beautiful dish that was crafted for me by the chef at Chow in Bend, OR.

I had heard great things about Chow and convinced my mom to go there with me during our recent mini-vacation to Bend. When we got there, I noticed several vegan or vegan-friendly options on the menu, but I really wanted something, I don't know, inspired. So I asked our waitress to have the chef make something raw (which their menu specifically stated they specialized in) and vegan, more in the savory realm, and to take as much creative license as they wished. When my waitress brought out this avocado, walnut, mushroom stack over greens with blueberries and vinaigrette, paired with markedly fresh avocado and tomatoes, I wanted to hug her. It was so perfectly suited to the moment (and my appetite - I was starving after a full day of cycling) and oozed care and creativity.

In the vein of care and creativity, Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure has put forth some pretty epic vegan offerings in recent weeks. Aside from being a bad-ass ultra runner, Greg has been strikingly influential in bridging the gap between the culinary/foodie world and the vegan one (worlds which, at times, seem mutually exclusive). Aside from creating bomb vegan and gluten free menus at Departure, Greg continually pushes the vegan edge in a variety of otherwise traditionally gourmet contexts, from events like his Electric Summer Bash (which was one of the more fun events I've ever been privileged enough to attend), to his coconut milk-based, chef-inspired flavor created for Portland Ice Cream behemoth Salt & Straw, to his frequent collaboration with vegan trendsetters like Blossoming Lotus and Sizzle Pie Pizza, Greg is doing some pretty cool stuff.
Aside from eating an entire pint of his ice cream over the course of two nights, I am blindly chasing after (stalking? ...maybe) yet another of Greg's creations - his Summer's End Vegan Dinner. For the third year in a row, Greg is teaming up with Blossoming Lotus to host this incredible vegan + paleo five-course meal at Departure. It's September 25th (at the tail-end of Portland's more meat-based Feast festival) so no insight yet to this food experience, but I can almost guarantee it will be magical.

 And on a completely different note, vegan bars are probably my favorite scene. This Sriracha filled love fest was photographed at NE Portland's totally vegan bar, Bye and Bye. This bar is always such a blast. We always end up chatting with some really interesting people, and although the lines can be long and the place can get super crowded, it's a quintessential Portland place to hang out with food good and strong drinks. Oh and the bar tenders are attractive - always a plus ;)

Jumping back to myself for a minute (sorry, couldn't resist posting this picture), I have been LOVING buying up the most random and unique looking produce I can find at the Farmer's Market (produce so beautiful it almost seems like artwork I could never create/grow) and finding the simplest ways to enhance the flavors for my own consumption. That being said, I had to post this picture of a seriously incredibly heirloom tomato paired with a steam purple carrot over market greens, topped with flake salt (of course).

Next in the line-up, I have to give a shout to to Sizzle Pie. With nine vegan pizzas on the menu, I always assumed the owners and staff of this super hip pizza joint cared about animal issues, but I really had no idea how incredibly awesome and caring they were until I emailed them about an event that my group, the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, was putting on. I emailed them asking if we could potentially get a discount on purchasing a fairly large order of vegan pizzas from them and they almost immediately emailed me back and said they love supporting animal rights groups and would donate 12 pizzas, no problem. I mean, seriously! How awesome is the world we live in sometimes? It's that kind of generosity that makes you appreciate life a little bit more :) AND these pizzas are good. It is so nice to have such a variety of different vegan pizzas (not that they lasted long). How awesome, Sizzle Pie. If you are in the Portland area, go support them.

I've also been doing some vegan entertaining at my house which is always a total blast. Last weekend I had a potluck at my place for SALDF where I baked peanut butter cookies, made veggie gyoza, a spicy purple-cabbage slaw and put together a veggie tray. People showed up with a whole myriad of fresh fruits, veggies, hummus, salads and tons and tons of desserts. Plus lots of beer, wine, and good company. I love leading such a motivated, dynamic and compassionate group of people. Again, another one of those "so grateful" moments :)

Ignore the law school text books in the background :)
Speaking of wine and hummus. A couple girlfriends texted me last weekend and asked if I wanted to go out. I had literally been out with college friends all day (there was body paint and beer pong involved - yikes!) and so I suggested that they come over and bring wine and I would cook them dinner instead. It was beautiful - we all hung around in comfy clothes and talked and drank wine (they brought 4 bottles and we had 4 kinds of hummus - that's how I party) and had a super perfect evening. I made a kale and Beyond Meat chicken hash over sprouted brown rice and quinoa paired with roasted delicata squash and olive ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. They loved it - neither of them had eaten Beyond Meat before and it was fun cooking with it. Speaking of which, in other vegan news, Alton Brown wrote a review of Beyond Meat for Wired Science which is pretty badass. I like seeing stuff like Beyond Meat gaining popularity and edging its way a little bit more into mainstream society. 

So those are a few of the vegan things I'm loving lately. In general, I'm just trying really hard to stay balanced and appreciate the small things in life. When you work two jobs, go to school full time, run an awesome group and have a dog-child, life can feel overwhelming. But everyone has their battles and at the end of the day, the more we can appreciate the beauty in the world and follow the things that make us happy, the better of this planet of ours will be.

So that's it, lovers. Do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who contribute something to your life. Don't sweat the negatives and appreciate the positives. You only have one life so, as always, live long and prosper. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Savoring Summer

I cannot believe we are already into the first week of September!

Summer in Portland always seems to fly. I wait all year for this beautiful season and then it fades before I can even settle into it. On the bright-side, the fleeting nature of summer compels me maximize the incredible wealth of seasonal bounty that Oregon provides.

I don't think I've gone more than a meal or two without incorporating some kind of local or homegrown produce. From blueberries on my almond butter toast in the mornings to kale in my smoothies to huge salads made with fresh greens to spiralized zucchini and carrot pastas with fresh pesto and cherry tomatoes - I am literally in produce heaven. Makes me feel so fortunate to live in such an incredible community of farmers, growers and other locavore-foodies.

I was invited to some friends' house the other night and, with no real meal plan, we pillaged from their garden and used the goods in order to craft an extra-fresh dinner. We started with a melon-tomato gazpacho. And by "we" I mean my brilliant friend Kristina used the orange watermelon I brought over and vitamixed it with tomatoes, spices and magic to make this amazing cold soup.

I wish I had the recipe for you but I don't. She whipped it up so fast I barely even had a chance to ask what the general ingredients were, let alone take down the full recipe. 

But don't worry - while she was crafting her magic-soup, I was throwing together this bruschetta which is one of my go-to summer dished that always seems to be a crowd-pleaser

Backyard Bruschetta
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes or a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 2 medium lemon cucumbers
  • 1 large handful of basil
  • White balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • High quality olive oil, to taste
  • High quality salt (like Jacobsen Salt), to taste
Chop tomatoes and cucumbers and combine in a medium sized bowl.

Chiffonade basil and toss with the veggies. 

Add olive oil, vinegar and salt and stir until combined. Continue to adjust until you get the right balance of acidity and smoothness.

Spoon on top of a toasted, locally baked baguette and enjoy.

In terms of the rest of our dinner, we simply picked veggies straight off the vine (tree, plant etc...), slathered them in various sauces and tossed them on the grill. Add a bottle of Rose' and it's difficult to imagine a more perfect summer night.


Another bounty-inspired summer meal that I made recently was this one of collard wraps and my take on a Catalonian Romesco sauce.

I adore greens in all forms, but there I especially love greens that can be used to make wraps. Between green wraps and spiralized-veggie noodles, I am getting more than my fair share of fresh summer vegetables. To make these wraps, I used Collars which I have found are the best in terms of shape and texture to make wraps out of. Any heartier green will work, however, so it's really up to you.

I stuffed these wraps with steamed sweet potato, black beans, pan fried padron peppers from Viridian Farms, spinach and carmelized onion. Like I said, though - you can put pretty much anything in them. Despite not being the prettiest or most photogenic topping, I spooned a romesco-type sauce over the top which I thought complimented the flavors of the wraps nicely :) I didn't use toasted or stale bread in my romesco as is traditionally done - I used roasted eggplant instead for a thicker texture. 

Collard Wraps(Serves 2)
  • 8-10 large collard green leaves
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, chopped and steamed
  • 10-12 padron peppers, roughly chopped
  • Large bunch fresh spinach
  • 1 medium Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
Start by heating a tablespoon or so of coconut oil in a fry pan over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the chopped padron peppers and pan fry until crispy (you can add more oil depending on the size of your pan). Remove the peppers from the pan and set aside.

Add the second tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan and bring up to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and begin to saute. After 5 or so minutes, add the balsamic vinegar and cotinue to caramelize for another 10-15 minutes. Add the black beans and steamed sweet potatoes and saute everything for another 3-5 minutes. Add spinach, fried peppers, fresh herbs and spices and saute until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat immediately.

Next, fill up a large sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Chop the thickest part of the collard stems off. Using tongs, submerge an individual collard leaf in the water for 10-15 seconds or until pliable. Remove from water and set on a flat surface. Spoon filling into the center of the collard leaf and roll up like a burrito. Repeat until all leaves and filling are used up! 

Lightened-up Romesco
  •  1/4 cup raw hazelnuts (preferably from Freddy Guys)
  •  1 medium eggplant, roasted and skinned
  •  2-3 cloves of garlic, roasted
  •  1/2 red onion, roasted
  •  2 medium red peppers, roasted
  •  1 large heirloom tomato
  •  1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (could also potentially use red wine)
  •  1 tsp red pepper flakes
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
I roasted everything in my oven (the peppers I then broiled to scorch them to make it easier to remove the skin) but you could easily do it in the BBQ if you have that baby up and running. Once roasted, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chunky and blended. If necessary, heat over the stove for a few minutes until warmed through.

Top collard wraps with sauce and enjoy! Pair with steamed broccoli and flake salt if it suits you.

In other news. I've also been baking pies. With blackberries from my back yard. I don't have a recipe for this guy either because I literally used what I found in a family friend's kitchen to make it. Hadn't made a pie in a while (let alone on a whim, without a recipe) but I will say it turned out pretty well. Add enough sugar and shortening to anything and it will turn out just dandy. Vegan, yes. Healthy? Not so much. But DELICIOUS.

Also sometimes I put wine on Wyatt's head. He loves to go wine tasting with us :)

What a trooper.

Live long and prosper, lovers. And enjoy the rest of this stunning summer.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fresh Cabbage Salsa

Happy Summer!
Tis' the season of BBQ's, potlucks, celebrations and outdoor entertaining.
Tis' the season of farmers' markets, garden abundance and colorful veggies a'plenty.
In my opinion, this is the easiest time of year to be vegan because there are SO many beautiful plant-based options everywhere you go. I am giddy with excitement every time I pass a farm stand with a stunning selection rainbow of fruits and veggies.
From this plethora of incredible abundance come recipes like this fresh cabbage salsa.
I swiped the idea from a friend of the family who created something similar at an outdoor concert-potluck we went to in White Salmon, WA a few weeks ago.

 I absolutely LOVED the recipe at the concert and thought it would be a perfect recipe to make for the July 4th potluck we were going to.

The morning of July 4th, I raced the Sauvie's Island Flat half marathon with some friends, and the stars aligned when we got to  hang out at the market on the island after the race.
Half Flat Marathon with two of the greatest girls alive. Seriously, you should meet these two.

I specifically brought my wallet to be able to buy some island-produce to bolster the wealth from our own garden. The result? This beautifully colored fresh cabage salsa.

You could also use green cabbage and/or a red tomato, but I thought the yellow heirloom tomato paired with the purple cabbage, white sweet onion and green peppers/herbs would be a lovely combination. This salsa is SO easy and uses so much delicious freshness!

Fresh Cabbage Salsa

Makes a HUGE bowl
  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1 large sweet onion (preferably a walla walla!)
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 2 large or 4 small heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro
  • 1 medium bunch of basil
  • Juice from 4-5 limes (I did 5 because they were little and I loooove limes)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp agave (to counter balance the acids from the lime and vinegar - shouldn't add too much sweetness)
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (I used Jacobsen salt. That stuff is like baby angel flakes)

Assemble all ingredients. Have a LARGE bowl within arms reach.

Chop the cabbage and onion and toss them in the bowl.

Finely dice Jalapeno peppers - either remove or leave the seeds depending on your spiciness preference.

Dice heirloom tomatoes with a sharp or serrated knife and toss them in.

Chiffonade the basil and cilantro together if possible (or just chop the crap out of em') and throw those in the bowl.

Squeeze limes over the top and add vinegar and agave. Add your first round of spices before tossing the whole thing together. Taste and season further if necessary.

You can serve this right away, but it is advisable to wait at least an hour or so for the flavors to blend together. It's also great made a day ahead of time and will stay fresh and delicious for several days in the fridge. Just make sure to cover it because it will overpower everything else in your fridge!

If desired - save several large cabbage leaves and serve in those, as pictured :) Pair with fresh squeezed margarita for a balanced afternoon snack.

Don'tcha just love summer?!

Live long and prosper. And savor the season's bounties while you can!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

California Lovin'!

A few weeks ago, I flew to LA to visit a college friend who lives in Long Beach.

I had no agenda; I simply wanted to get away from the endless Portland rain that seemed to occupy the entire month of May. And I'm SO glad I did. There is nothing like catching up with an old friend and exploring a new town. Long Beach is absolutely adorable, the beach is serene and there were TONS of fun vegan spots. Not to mention the weather was BEAUTIFUL every day (while it rained non-stop back in Portland).

Every morning I ran on the beach and every day we had a new adventure. From kayaking to wine tasting to visiting the Getty museum to just throwing the frisbee on the beach - every day was total bliss!

On one lovely afternoon, we decided to compile a vegan appetizer tray to pair with the beautiful Rose' I purchased at the wine shop where we wine tasted.

Thanks Brad and Angie!
This Rose was super special - lemme tell ya. Apparently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt bought the Chateau Miraval estate in Provence and teamed up with one of the most famous winemakers in all of France to produce this absolutely stunning Rose. I'm a huge Rose fan in the summer, and this wine did NOT disappoint. To celebrate it in all of its glory, we paired it up with some Jalapeno Garlic Harvati Daiya, grapes, carrots, asian pear, Back to Nature Stoneground Wheat crackers, and Trader Joe's crunchy curls.

Talk about an amazing summer snack. The Daiya wedges are incredible - even if you don't like the shreds, I highly recommend the slice-able stuff. It has a great flavor.

The first day that I got into town, Davis and I walked around to all the adorable shops and checked out the bar/restaurant scene at the main strip of Long Beach near his house. As we walked by an unassuming looking bar/restaurant, Davis remarked that it had his favorite brussel sprouts dish of all time. That's a big claim and since there are few things in the world I love more than brussel sprouts, I insisted that we stop and see what these sprouts were made of.

Drenched and roasted in oil and balsamic vinegar and tossed with fresh herbs, capers, salt and (what tasted like) a bit of maple syrup, these sprouts definitely lived up to Davis's hype. They were perfectly crisped and so flavorful. We split the appetizer and it was the perfect amount for a mid-morning snack. My first vegan food in California did NOT disappoint :)

I'm not in California very often but when I am, I always make sure to indulge in one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures is In-N-Out.

I can honestly say I haven't eaten fast food (with the exception of Subway maybe once or twice) since I was last in California and ate In-N-Out.

I know what you are thinking: " are can you possible find anything to eat and In-N-Out."

I know it sounds crazy, but I just order the "veggie burger" sub ketchup for sauce, add extra tomato and onions. And fries of course. I don't know how, but I promise this fast food combo still satisfies! Davis, the friend I stayed with, and Colin both thought I was nuts but agreed to try the patty-less vegan option instead of the regular burger and both were shocked by how much they liked it. Plus it's like...a dollar (instead of 4)...meaning you can even have 2 or 3 if you are really hungry and it is still much healthier (by fast food standards I suppose) and cruelty-free! Everyone wins!

Speaking of guilty pleasures...I almost never drink hard alcohol, but every once in a while I love a good Bloody Mary. Especially in California where - I swear - hard alcohol is as cheap or cheaper than beer (and where they don't truly understand what an IPA is), I think drinking a mixed drink is appropriate (even while watching a soccer game - near blasphemy!)

I was worried about finding a bar in the vicinity that was playing the match, but fortunately for me, a bar within walking distance of Davis's house was not only playing the match but also had this mind-blowing BLOODY MARY BAR.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen bloody mary bars before. And I've loved them. But this was a new level of Bloody Mary goodness. The bar was about 15 feet long and covered with every assortment of tomato-based bloody mary concoction in addition to various hot sauces, lemons, limes and other citrus, a plethora of pickled vegetables and at least 10 different varieties of olives. There was also a large plate of fresh veggies and herbs. It was like a delicious, alcoholic salad in a glass.

Now I know why they give you mini pitchers...gotta have enough room to hold all that stuff!

And, naturally, I went back to get seconds of veggies and pickles. Looove me some pickled green beans!

Wonderful :)

I would be doing all of my readers a huge disservice if I didn't mention Paradis ice cream.

Portland has a bevy of amazing vegan frozen yogurt places, but sometimes I just want an ice cream cone. And as much as I love Coconut Bliss, I get a little tired of the hardened, coconut-milk based ice creams.

So when I saw this adorable little ice cream shop's sign that said "Vegan flavors!" I was a little skeptical. But let me tell you, whatever Paradis is doing behind the scenes is pure magic. This was hands-down the best vegan ice cream I've ever had. Smooth and creamy and light and fluffy, it tasted like frozen baby angels.

We went down to this shop every night that I was here because I just couldn't get enough. The flavor (badly) pictures was the strawberry chocolate chip. They also provided a regular chocolate, banana, banana chocolate chip, and a couple of other flavors but the banana and strawberry were my favorites.

If you are in Long Beach or anywhere near a Paradis, you need to get on this vegan ice cream, STAT. You won't be disappointed.

Those were the vegan highlights of my trip! I love being able to travel and explore new vegan options. Everywhere I go it seems like I don't have enough time to explore all of the amazing vegan options available. It's so exciting!

Like here, eating some edamame and vegan sushi and drinking Sake at a sushi restaurant in Hermosa Beach.

Another amazing experience - thanks in large part to my wonderful friend, Davis. Can't wait to go back for more!!

Live long and prosper. And travel vegan.