Sunday, December 26, 2010

apple cider cinnamon donuts!

Donuts! These apple cider cinnamon donuts are WAY better than the bland farmer's market fare. The key is to reduce the apple cider to a rich concentrated sweet sauce. This adds a much more pronounced apple taste. And of course dousing them in cinnamon sugar glaze couldn't hurt either. 

Donut Recipe: 

1 cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to soymilk and let sit for 10 min) 
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
oil for frying 

Glaze recipe: 

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon of sugar


Reduce apple cider first. Boil one cup of apple cider in  a small saucepan until it is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 8 to 10 minutes.) Set aside to cool. 

Prepare glaze. Add the cider and cinnamon to sugar and mix well, until it resembles a thick glaze. 

Cream the sugar with the margarine. Add eggs, mix well. Add buttermilk and reduced apple cider. Mix. 

Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. 

Add dry to wet ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Dough should be sticky, not dry. 

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and pat to 1/2 inch thickness. Form into donut shapes or donut holes. 

Prepare fryer. I added a standard vegetable oil to the deep fryer. Heat oil to 375 degrees. 

Add about two to four donuts at one time, depending on size of donuts and size of fryer. Turn once. Donuts only take about a minute to fry. 

Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Cool for a couple minutes, then dip in glaze or slather glaze on top. Enjoy!! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

boerenkool stamppot

Boerenkool. This translates from the Dutch to "farmer's cabbage." And stamppot means "mash pot." Pretty obvious what this dish is. A staple winter recipe in Holland. It's a simple blend of mashed potatoes and kale, with an option of some sort of smoked sausage. My vegetarian version has veggie bacon (Morningstar brand) . Usually I'm not a big fan of the fake meats, but this one is pretty good when you bake it in the oven till it gets super crispy and bacon-like. And mixed in with this warming potato hash, it adds a lovely salty crispy bite. 

There really isn't a recipe for boerenkool. You kinda just make it up as you go along. A couple pounds of potatoes, boiled til mash-worthy, a large bunch of kale, chopped finely (which you can either saute lightly with olive oil or add raw to the mashed potatoes), and a good amount of olive oil or butter to bring the hash together. Optional bacon or bacon-like product added at the end. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

orange glazed tempeh with onions and yellow peppers

Tempeh can be really bland. It's just fermented soybeans, after all. But it can be so amazingly good if you marinate it in orange juice, agave nectar, ginger and garlic. Chop up some chives, red onion and yellow peppers and throw it in a tortilla, and you got yourself an awesome burrito! 

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2 cloves of garlic, minced
one 12 oz package of tempeh
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Mix orange juice, ginger, agave, coriander and garlic in a small bow. Set aside. 
Cut tempeh into small bite-sized pieces. 
Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan and add tempeh when hot. Cook for five minutes on each side or until brown. Pour orange juice mixture in pan and simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thick. 

Serve tempeh drizzled with remaining sauce. Squeeze lime and add chopped cilantro. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

sunday brunch

Sunday brunch time. Breakfast burrito with eggs, thyme* and paprika. Sauteed potatoes with a sprinklin of cumin seed gouda cheese and parsley. 

*parsley, thyme and potatoes courtesy of my dear friend Ellen. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

sesame balsamic bok choy with brown rice pasta

This took about 10 minutes to make. Bok choy is a mellow, simple and accessible green. I just diced them (stems and all) and sauteed with garlic and deglazed with some balsamic vinegar. Deglazing is just a culinary term that simply means adding a liquid (most often a vinegar or wine) to loosen and dissolve the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan that form during cooking. It really brightens up the dish and gives it a lovely sweet flavor. I used a brown rice pasta that also adds a nice nuttiness and bite. 

2 heads of bok choy
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 to 10 oz brown rice pasta
salt and pepper
sesame seeds

Fill a pot with water. Add salt and heat until boiling. Add pasta and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. While pasta is cooking, chop bok choy into bite sized chunks and add to a heated pan with garlic and olive oil. Saute for a couple minutes and deglaze with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped chives, add to the drained pasta and serve. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Some seasonal autumn goodness. I didn't have any white sugar, so I used a combination of sorghum syrup, barley malt and brown rice syrup. All of these sweeteners are super high in minerals and don't give you such a sugar rush like regular ole cane sugar does. Of course, the chocolate chips in here definitely have sugar, but really, sometimes we just need a little extra chocolatey sugar high. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup mixed sorghum syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup canned pumpkin 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets. 
Mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, mix together the syrups, oil, pumpkin, vanilla and flaxseeds until well combined. Add the wet to the dry, slowly. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a couple minutes on a wire rack. Then eat it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

homemade crackers!

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil/parsley or other greens/herbs can be added to dough 
garnish with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or any dried herb that's handy!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
2. Put the flour, salt, oil and optional added greens in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add about 1/4 cup water and let the machine run until the mixture holds up and is not sticky. 
3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick or thinner. Add flour as needed. Score lightly with a sharp knife into rectangles or any shape you desire. 
3. Transfer dough gently to prepared sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, seeds or dried herbs. 
4. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tuscan tastes

Here's just a couple photos of my food adventures in Tuscany: 

Katherine and the amazing produce

The menu cover 

Monday, July 12, 2010

garlic scape pesto

Garlic scapes are the long, thin curly shoots that spring from the tops of the garlic plants. They have a mellow garlic flavor and can be used in place of scallion, garlic or even onions. They are only in season for June and a bit of July. So get em quick! I made a simple pesto with these ones.  Adding some walnuts and parmesan and a bit of olive oil and salt. That's it. Barely a recipe really. And so good. I added the pesto to pasta one night, a frittata the next and on toast for breakfast the following day. So versatile and lovely. 

8-10 garlic scapes
1/4 cup parmesan 
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts or almonds or any nuts really! 
sea salt

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until pesto-like. Taste test and see if it needs more salt or olive oil (depending if you like a thinner or thicker pesto) 

Yields about 1 cup and can be stored in an air-tight container for a couple of days. Or frozen for a couple of months. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

banana cinnamon date bread

You know when you buy bananas and you don't eat them fast enough and they become past the point of eating raw, but you're too lazy to make banana bread right away? Well, freeze 'em! I had three bananas in my fridge for well over two months. They were perfectly fine. Super frozen, but fine. Run them over cold water to loosen the skin and then you're ready to make bread. I used olive oil because that's what I had on hand, but canola, vegetable oil or butter would work fine, too. For the sweetener, I used barley malt syrup which is made from soaking barley in water and then heating to prevent from sprouting, which is similar to the process of creating beer. Thus, this bread has a rich tasting, almost stout beer taste, like Guinness. 

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 barley malt syrup*
3/4 cup dates, chopped
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (for dusting on top of loaf)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until very much mashed. Add lemon juice, oil, barley malt and dates. (Tip: Use the same measuring cup for the oil and barley malt. The oil will help the barley malt come out easily, because that stuff is damn sticky.) Mix. In a separate large bowl, stir together the flour, wheat germ, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix together until just mixed. Pour into oiled loaf pan. Dust with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Test with a knife to see if done. Makes 1 loaf. 

*You can buy barley malt syrup in any health food store. It's pretty reasonable and much less labor intensive than actually soaking your own barley and making syrup. Because seriously, who's going to do that? 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

quinoa burgers with lemon and dill yogurt sauce

These quinoa burgers are just adapted from a recipe I found on the Whole Foods website. They turned out quite well and the lemon/dill yogurt sauce is just so good.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained 
2 cups water 
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic 
2/3 cup grated carrots 
2/3 cup seeded and grated yellow squash 
1/2 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 
Zest of 1 large lemon 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 egg 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 
1 1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt 
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium pot. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and set aside to let cool. 

In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with onion, garlic, carrots, squash, spinach, zest, flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper. Form mixture into eight (4- to 5-inch) patties and arrange on an oiled baking sheet. Bake, flipping halfway through, until lightly browned and just crisp, about 25 minutes. 

Stir together dill, yogurt and lemon juice in small bowl, then spoon over warm quinoa cakes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

beet, daikon, fennel and carrot slaw with mint

This refreshing and light slaw is a variation on a cole slaw. No cabbages or mayonnaise though! Instead, I used beets, daikon radishes, carrots and fennel. Daikon radishes look like overgrown white carrots and have awesome detoxifying qualities. The sweetness of the carrots, beets and licorice-y fennel help to offset the sometimes bitterness of the daikon. Also, having a food processor  with a grating option makes this a hell of a lot easier. (Grating all of these root vegetables by hand is a major pain in the ass!) 

3 red beets, peeled and grated
2 daikon radishes, peeled and grated
1 fennel bulb, grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T honey or agave
1 bunch of green onions, minced
2/3 cup of mint leaves, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
a sprinklin of sunflower seeds

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Grate beets, daikon, fennel and carrots in a food processor and add to bowl. Toss to coat. Add chopped mint leaves and a sprinklin of sunflower seeds. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Done and done. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peanut stirfry with broccoli, tofu, leeks, orange peppers and caraway seeds

This is something I just made up on the spot. I looked in my fridge and just grabbed what I had. It took less than 10 minutes to make. So quick and easy on a warm spring day. The buttery leeks are complimented by the earthy, almost licorice taste of the caraway seeds. And the peanut sauce really brings all the ingredients together quite well. 


1 package of tofu (drained and patted dry)
1 orange pepper (small diced)
1 trimmed leek (washed and thinly sliced)
1 head of broccoli (cut into little florets)
1/2 cup peanut butter ( I used a natural, no chunk kind)
3 T soy sauce
2 T butter or oil (peanut would be great)

Heat a large saute pan. Add butter. When hot, add leeks. Let soften for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, whisk the soy sauce in a small bowl with the peanut butter. Taste and adjust salt, if you like. Add broccoli and tofu to saute pan, as well as the peanut sauce. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the tofu and broccoli have absorbed some of the sauce. Serve atop brown rice or any kind of grain really. Quinoa would be good too. Or eat it as is. Top with diced orange pepper. 

Serves 4

Thursday, May 20, 2010

blueberry smooooothie

Blueberries are an insanely high nutritional powerhouse. Vitamin A, C and loads of anti-cancer properties. I'm a fan of mixing my blueberries with soymilk and a bit of honey for a lovely beat-the-heat drink on this 80 degree day. You could even add some yogurt (or soy yogurt) to make it more substantial. 

Blueberry Smoothie: 
1 cup washed blueberries (make sure there's no little irksome stems)
2 cups soymilk
2T honey 

Mix together in a blender with a couple cubes of ice and serve. 

Yields about 2 servings

Monday, May 10, 2010

lavender shortbread

Butter. How I love thee. I try to limit my butter intake, but sometimes you just gotta make a recipe that is basically all butter. And sugar. And lavender. This recipe is a fancy take on shortbread. But it's super easy to make. It's kinda like making a pie crust. You just press the dough into a cake pan, fork it, bake it and eat it! It's just so good. 

Lavender Shortbread 
1 1/2 cups butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons very finely chopped lavender florets (fresh or dried)
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Butter two cake tins that have the removable bottoms and fluted edges. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lavender with an electric mixer. Mix until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes.) Add flour, cornstarch, and salt and beat until well incorporated. Divide dough in half. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for about 20 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out each disc to a thickness of  about 1/2 inch. Press into cake tins (including up the sides). Prick the dough a couple times with a fork. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until pale golden (do not brown). Cool slightly, then transfer to a rack. Cut into triangles. If you're feeling high class, serve with tea. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Red Quinoa with Swiss Chard and Seitan

Okay, back to the healthy stuff. While I was in PA, I made this super easy red quinoa dish for my mom. This particular quinoa has a more earthy flavor than it's white counterpart, but is just as insanely high in proteins, which is great if you don't eat meat. I pair it a lot with coconut milk and curry dishes, but I wanted something a bit lighter this time of year. I sauteed it with some swiss chard (I find that if you finely chop greens like kale, swiss chard and collard greens, they are easier to eat even if they're barely cooked, AND people who don't normally like eating greens will especially like this because you can barely taste it!) I added a yellow pepper for some color and vitamin C, sliced up a package of seitan and added a bit of lemon juice to perk it up. 

Red Quinoa with Swiss Chard and Seitan

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 pepper (any will do, I had yellow)
1 bunch of swiss chard (finely chopped leaves; save stalks for another recipe)
1 package of seitan
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Put quinoa in a medium sized pot and add the water. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan, let it heat up and then add the swiss chard with a pinch of salt. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the yellow pepper and quinoa. Cook for a couple more minutes to meld the flavors and then sprinkle with a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and ground pepper. 

In the picture below, I added the quinoa dish to a split pea soup I had made as well. The flavors went really well together and I'll post the recipe for the soup next time. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

vegan peanut butter blondies

I'm back. No more wisdom teeth woes. It's time to get down to business and do some cooking. Well, baking to be exact. Last week, I went home to see my mom in Pennsylvania. Along with the obligatory healthy soups and stews, I knew I had to make her something sweet. She's always had a sweet tooth and although you're really not suppose to eat too many sugary foods when you're battling cancer, really, sugar in moderation is awesome. If I was going to do something sweet, I figured it might as well be rich and have some good fats in it. Hence, peanut butter blondies! It's basically the same recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but with dark chocolate chips added. I used all natural peanut butter that literally has nothing in it but peanuts and salt. They're so rich and fudgey, it's hard to believe they're vegan. This particular blondie is topped off with some soy delicious mocha fudge ice cream and a bit of soy whipped cream. 

Peanut Butter Blondies: 

3/4 cup all natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1/3 cup canola oil 
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Non-dairy Milk
1/2 tsp Salt 
1/2 tsp Baking Powder 
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8X8 metal baking pan. Whisk peanut butter, oil & sugar in mixing bowl. Add vanilla & non-dairy milk (I used rice, unsweetened). Now, add flour, salt and baking powder and knead it with your hands until well-mixed. It will hold together and not spread. 

Place in pan and pat to fit evenly. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if you so desire, and press lightly into surface. Bake for 22-25 minutes, only until edges begin to brown slightly. Set on rack and cool thoroughly. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

wisdom teeth woes

I haven't posted on my blog in over a month. It's been a treacherous month, food-wise. I've had my bottom two wisdom teeth taken out and eating has been a less than a enjoyable experience. I mean, I love me some peanut butter and banana soy milkshakes. But, when you're in pain, nothing tastes good. 

My point being, is that I have literally been living on smoothies, soups and mashed potatoes for too long. I'm ready to get back in the kitchen and cook up somethin tasty and maybe even crunchy! 

I'm off to PA this weekend to hang with my mom and I'm going to do my best to create healthy dishes that she can eat that won't cause her pain either. I'm thinking about braising lots of spring time vegetables and making mellow soups and stews. And of course a fair share of not-too-sweet desserts and breads! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

vegan pumpkin chocolate cupcakes with cinnamon icing

My baking rampage continues....And I also wanted to let everyone know that my former culinary school classmate and friend Eileen Botti and I will be selling our vegan cakes and cupcakes starting in the next couple of months. We're still figuring out the logistics of it all, but we hope to get started real soon. In the meantime, I will be posting more photos of vegan sweet treats for everyone to start drooling over. 

carob date cake

Here's another version of the carob cake recipe. This one had chopped dates and a vanilla bean cake soak as well. It came out a super dark morbidly black color. I think it's a bit halloween-esque. If only I had had orange sprinkles..

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

vegan carob cupcake with coconut and hawaiian sea salt

I'm continuing on my poor girl's culinary journey of trying out new dishes with random ingredients that I've had sitting in my cupboard in need of attention. It really forces you to be more creative in this hard economic time. ( I'm in the process of making my own mustard and mayonnaise-so easy and cheap-which I'll write more about later) It's also so therapeutic creating a tangible item and clearing space in the kitchen.

I adapted this recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Instead of using cocoa powder, I used carob. Carob tends to give baked goods more of an earthy flavor that can be a bit on the dry side. Therefore, I  made a vanilla bean cake soak that adds moisture to the cupcake and gives it an awesome vanilla/sugary kick without being too over-the-top-frosting sweet. Using an actual vanilla bean makes all the difference. They're a bit pricey, but way worth it when you wanna make something special. Adding the sea salt plays well with the sweetness. (I had some leftover from when I went to Maui, but any coarse sea salt will do) Who doesn't love sweet and salty combined?! Think of a more refined chocolate-covered pretzel!

Carob Cupcakes: 

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vinegar ( I used apple cider, don't use balsamic!)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup carob flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Or use ceramic ramekins and simply oil with a bit of canola oil. Whisk soy milk and vinegar and let sit in a small bowl for about 10 minutes to curdle and get a bit thick. Meanwhile, sift flour, carob, baking soda and powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add thickened soymilk and sugar, canola oil and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly until all large lumps are gone and spoon into paper muffin liners until 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick is inserted in center and comes out clean, or about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack for a bit. 

Vanilla Soak: 
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 vanilla bean

Put 1/2 cup water, the sugar, and the oil in a small pot. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds into the pot. Add the pod as well. Cook at a slow bubble, whisking mixture frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, then remove and discard the pod. 

Pour the soak over the individual cupcakes and let sit for an hour. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

sweet potato and coconut soup

Sweet potatoes are insanely high on the nutrition scale. They have high levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, B6 and tons of fiber. I made this soup a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting my mom in Pennsylvania. It's a creamy and nourishing one, with a simple blend of sweet potato and coconut milk. The secret ingredient is lemongrass, which imparts a lovely lemony flavor that really ties the sweet potato and coconut together nicely. Lemongrass' essential oil is actually a natural form of an anti-cancer proponent that causes apoptosis, which is the process of killing cancer cells. I'm sure you need to be eating a hell of a lot of lemongrass to really make it potent, but it's nice to know that it's helpful in the fight against cancer. 

Two sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
One can of coconut milk
Two stalks of lemongrass (bruised and cut into chunks)
olive oil
One onion (diced)
Two cloves of garlic (minced)
Four cups of veggie stock
chopped mint (optional)
coconut flakes (optional)

Heat a stock pot on medium flame. Add olive oil, diced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add the diced sweet potatoes, lemongrass, veggie stock and coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for about twenty minutes. Check to see if sweet potato can be easily pierced with a fork. If so, you're done! Ladle into soup bowls and top with chopped fresh mint and a sprinklin of coconut flakes. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

olive oil date cookies

I made these cookies simply because I wanted to get rid of the bag of chopped dates I've had sitting in the fridge. You know how sometimes you have something in the kitchen and you know you should do something with it, but you're just too lazy? Well, this bag of dates has been staring at me for far too long. It was about time I ate 'em.

I didn't want to make a cookie that was too sweet either. So, instead of using bland ole canola oil, I substituted olive oil. This gives the cookie a cakey inside and a crisp outside. And turns the cookie batter a creepy green.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk or soy milk
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup chopped dates 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Beat the eggs, olive oil and milk. Add wet to dry and mix until thoroughly combined. If the mixture seems too tough, add a bit more milk. Fold in chopped dates. 

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

sauteed red cabbage with caraway seeds

Cabbage is the poor woman's vegetable. It's insanely cheap, versatile and oh so easy to prepare. Let me tell you some fun facts about cabbage: it's super super high in vitamin c and has anti-inflammatory properties and is a rich source of calcium. Cabbage gets a bad rap because it tends to give off a strong odor when cooked. But guess what? That's only when you cook it for awhile, like, longer than 10 minutes. And you boil it. Well, that's gross. The idea of boiled cabbage just sounds so unappetizing. There's a much better and simpler way to go about cookin up some cruciferous goodness. Saute it! Really, all you need to do is thinly slice the cabbage head. Heat up a pan with olive oil, throw in some caraway seeds (which have a lovely almost licorice sweet flavor to them) and add the cabbage with a pinch of salt. Saute for maybe 2 to 3 minutes. That's it! So simple! So fast! I placed the sauteed cabbage in a tortilla with my obligatory mayonnaise. Cause that's how I roll. Cabbage burritos are awe-some! 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

paprika spiced adzuki beans with spinach and lemon zest

So, I'm still on this cheapskate spree. I have this jar of dried aduki  beans that has been sitting on a shelf for well over six months. Dried beans do last awhile though. But the problem with them is that you really have to plan ahead. Most recipes call for letting beans soak for eight hours. I think that idea is bogus. A faster/sorta spontaneous way is to add beans to a pot, cover with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil. Then let the beans sit for two hours on the stovetop with the heat off. Then cook. That sound a little better, right?

Aduki or adzuki or whatever the hell you wanna call them beans are truly awesome. They hail from North-East Asia and are mostly present in sweet dishes, like red bean cakes. (I just read that Pepsi created a aduki bean flavored pepsi drink. Now that sounds gross!) They're commonly boiled with sugar and made into a paste. Well, I thought that idea sounded none too interesting and I'm trying to consume less sugar anyway. So I decided to make a spiced bean concoction that would go nicely in a tortilla, giving it a bit of a mexican-asian theme. I think it works nicely. The touch of sweetness from the beans is complemented by the smokiness of the paprika and a bit of lemon juice and spinach is added to perk up the nutritional value. 

Many recipes call for a pound of beans, which is equal to two cups dried beans. Which, when cooked, makes about six cups of beans. On average, dried beans only cost about a $1.20 a pound. That's super cheap! Much cheaper than canned. But if you're gonna do canned, then one 15 oz can is equal to 1 1/2 cups cooked beans. So the measurements get a bit confusing. But the basic idea is that dried beans are tastier and cheaper (but more time consuming!) Since this recipe makes 6 cups of beans, you could easily freeze half the beans in its cooking liquid and they'll stay good for six months. In the fridge, they'll last about a week. It's so convenient to have beans already cooked in the fridge! 

2 cups dried aduki beans 
1 onion (chopped into small dice)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
sea salt
olive oil
sesame seeds
freshly ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

After soaking the beans for two hours on the stovetop, turn the heat back on and cook for about 40 minutes. Times vary according to the bean. So it's best to check every 10 minutes to see if they're done. If they are getting a bit cooked through, but not quite, add a pinch of salt to help bring them to doneness. (I added the salt about 20 minutes in) When done, drain beans (but remember to keep the cooking liquid!) I used about 2 cups worth of cooked beans and froze the rest. 

Warm a saute pan with olive oil. When hot, add onion, garlic, salt and spices. Cook until onions are translucent. Add cooked beans (without cooking liquid) to the pan. Saute for about 10 minutes and then add spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. 

I like to toast tortillas directly on the stove top for about 10 seconds on each side. Then, place tortilla on plate ( I added a dollop of mayonnaise) and add spiced aduki bean filling. Top with sesame seeds, zest/juice of a lemon and freshly ground black pepper. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

banana coconut and pecan vegan pancakes with sweet accoutrements

Lazy sunday mornings are the best. I'm on this poor lady rampage where my goal is to only consume food from my fridge that desperately needs to get eaten or has just been in my pantry for awhile. I figured pancakes were a good way to go. I always have all purpose unbleached flour in my cupboard. I also have this random package of unsweetened coconut flakes, a half bag of pecans and three small bananas that were just too spotty for me to eat whole. Well, there ya go: Banana, coconut and pecan pancakes. The recipe is super easy and vegan! (I adapted the recipe from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook) By adding vinegar to the soymilk, you get a buttermilk-like consistency that helps the pancakes rise well and give it a great fluffy texture. I added a teaspoon of almond extract mainly because I just love almonds. 

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups soymilk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (let sit for 5 minutes)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 small bananas, well-mashed with a fork
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup pecans

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. In a separate small bowl, mix bananas and other wet ingredients. Do not overmix. Fold in the coconut and pecans. 

Heat a large non-stick pan, coat with canola oil. Working in batches of three, scoop about 1/4 of a cup of batter into pan. Cook until sides start to bubble. Check to see if golden brown, and then flip 'em.  Cook for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a large plate and loosely cover with foil. Coat pan with more canola oil in between batches. 

The pancakes aren't very sweet, therefore, my roommate and I had many sweet accoutrements on hand: 

From left: crunchy peanut butter, a nutella-like spread from Holland, a orange peel and elderflower marmalade from Ikea, a blueberry syrup, maple syrup and sorghum syrup from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. 

Finished Product: 
(oh, and you can see the hagel slag* in the background)

*Puur Chocolade Hagel Slag literally translates to 'chocolate hail storm.' These dutch chocolate confectionaries are simply way better than any ordinary chocolate sprinkle. They taste awesome topped on pancakes.

braised white turnips with spiced peanut sauce and the beauty of leftovers

I'm really trying to be good and stay on budget. I have so many random ingredients in the fridge that I just let sit there and rot. It's simply no good. I cannot afford to do that. So, my goal this month has been to use up as much as I creatively can.

My friend Ellen had made this lovely African peanut soup for a little get-together we had a couple of weeks ago. She kindly gave me a tupperware of it to take home. And let me say, I've never been a fan of leftovers. I hate eating the same thing two days in a row. I don't know what it is. I get bored easily. Food or otherwise. Well, the next day I had a soup potluck to go to and I decided I should regift the soup that was given to me. Problem was, I didn't have enough of it to generously give to anyone. Then I remembered I had this random plastic container of pureed peanuts that I had made using my juicer. The consistency didn't come out exactly like peanut butter, therefore, I let it just sit in my fridge hangin out. Well, it looked find. No mold to be seen. I sauteed it with some paprika and cayenne and then added some veggie broth and the rest of Ellen's leftovers. Well, now I had too much. So I took most of it to the potluck and kept the rest for myself. 
Long story, kinda short. A coupe days later, this thick re-adjusted soup is still sitting in my fridge. I was sick of soup at this point and had a couple of white turnips in my fridge that looked so bland, but I knew they needed to get eaten. I hate wasting food. So, I thinly sliced the turnips. Added them to a heated pan with olive oil, sprinkled with paprika, cumin and hot pepper flakes. Sauteed for a couple of minutes. And added the peanut soup. I let it reduce in volume, till is resembled a thick creamy peanut sauce. Topped it with a bit of crushed black pepper and I had myself a great leftover of a leftover. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

chickpea stir fry with spinach and garam masala

Chickpeas are fantastic little legumes that are super high in protein and have more calcium than yogurt. Amazing. And they're so cheap. Of course it's preferable to buy your own dried chickpeas, soak them overnite and then cook for one to two hours, but really, canned is just so much faster/easier. I made a simple stir-fry with them. Just adding spinach and a garam masala mixture that the family I work for brought back from India recently. Garam masala is a combination of black/white peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaf, star anise and coriander seeds. I'm not sure of this exact mixture, but it's pretty potent. Not spicy, but just full of strong strong spice. So lovely.

chickpea stir fry with spinach and garam masala
1 can of chickpeas
about two cups of spinach
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt

Heat up saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Then chickpeas and garam masala. Saute for about five minutes or until chickpeas look a bit brown. Throw in spinach and let wilt just a little (you really only want it to get coated in some olive oil and spice). Done. Serve it up with a side of rice or whatever grain you wanna mix it with. I just had it by itself. It would also be super good stuffed in a pita. Like a healthier variation of a falafel.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

homemade bouillon

In my last post, I went off about the labor-intensive practices of making your own stock or broth. And then I found this post on Heidi Swanson's blog about making your own bouillon:

She adapted this from another cookbook and it simply seems like an awesome idea. The problem I have with making stock, is I hate straining all the vegetables, therefore loosing all the fiber and having to throw away all the nutrient depleted components. It seems like such a waste. This technique uses a food processor to simply chop up all the veggies until they're basically a paste. You can add cilantro, parsley, dried herbs and spices. Once again, the variations are endless. And you can freeze it!  I love this idea. I'm definitely going to try this out real soon.

mushroom tofu soup

Here's another nourishing soup I had made for my mom when I was home for the holidays. This one consisted of crimini mushrooms, tofu, pinto beans, vegetable stock, onions and chopped chives. That's it. So simple. Many food writers talk about the blandness of store bought broth or stock. Or that it tastes a bit musty. I've never noticed that before. I think I add enough other components that that's never an issue. I usually buy the Trader Joe's organic broth and it tastes pretty good to me. Sure, homemade stock is way more nutritionally valuable and flavorful, but many people are not going to chop onions, carrots and celery and simmer for an hour and then strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. Please. People are lazy and want food fast. That's why I really have no problem with ready made stock or broth. If you can just get people to eat a little healthier, that's a big step. Of course, I wouldn't buy the ones that have MSG in them, high fructose corn syrup or even the ones in cans. Your best bet are the organic ones. The bouillon cubes are pretty good, too. Rapunzel is a good brand for that.

Anyway, back to my soup making technique. All I did was chop some onions and add the different components until the soup was thick and flavorful. There are endless variations on this. Any bean, vegetable, spice or herb you have on hand will totally make this soup awesome. Mushrooms are great because they're really easy to prepare. It's best not to wash them because they soak up water like a sponge. Simply remove the stem and wipe any excess dirt from the caps. And really, what's a little dirt anyway? By the way, never eat raw mushrooms. They're not going to kill you, but they're hard for your body to digest. Cooking them breaks down the fungal cell walls and releases more readily acceptable nutrients anyways. Mushrooms have more potassium than bananas, contain selenium, niacin and riboflavin. All awesome nutrients that help boost your immune system, deter cancer cells and fight infection.

Mushroom Tofu Soup

4 cups mushrooms (any will do, I used crimini)
1 block of tofu (drained of water and pressed dry with tea towel)
1 onion (chopped)
1 can pinto beans (drained)
1 12 oz container of veggie broth or stock
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt

Saute chopped onions in a large stock pot over medium heat with a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have sweated out most of their moisture. Add veggie broth or stock and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Taste test and see if you need to add more salt. Finally, add can of beans and cook just until beans are warm. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Serves 4 to 6