Monthly Archives: April 2016

Baking Mindfulness: Chocolate Doughnuts Frosted Two Ways

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

I hear the word “mindfulness” being tossed around a lot lately, but what does it actually mean? According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” I find that baking is a good way to practice mindfulness. The focus required for measuring ingredients, following the sequence of a recipe and perfecting different techniques allows me to be in the moment. It’s somewhat meditative and very relaxing. My mindfulness time of the day is usually from six to eight o’clock in the morning — before any interruptions like phone calls, a frolicsome puppy or someone looking for breakfast can crash my party. It’s just me, a counter full of ingredients and equipment and an open mind. This morning I had a very gratifying mindfulness session that resulted in chocolate doughnuts that are gluten free, low fat and very tempting. The doughnuts are delicious right out of the oven, but I wanted to have an icing option. As I was whisking together maple syrup and cocoa powder for chocolate icing, the thought of peanut butter-topped doughnuts crossed my mind. Actually, I was thinking about Funny Bones, a peanut butter filled chocolate cake that was a childhood favorite of mine. Now where did that come from? Well, that’s how mindfulness works — it frees your mind and opens you up a whole world of possibilities. Bake up a batch of Chocolate Doughnuts and start your mindfulness practice today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chocolate Doughnuts

Makes 8 doughnuts

  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat doughnut pan with coconut oil

Place milk, sugar, pumpkin, almond butter and vanilla in small mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender, process into a smooth puree. (You could alternately use a blender or food processor.)

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, fill doughnut pan ¾ the way full. You should have enough to make 10 doughnuts. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Doughnuts should spring back when surface is touched with your finger.Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Prepare icing and drizzle or spread over top of doughnuts.

Chocolate  Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder until smooth. You can add more syrup or cocoa powder to achieve desired consistency.

Peanut Butter Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoon of peanut butter until smooth.

 

30 Apr 2016

Sweet Dreams: Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Bruce told me about this dream he had the other night. In his dream he and a childhood friend were eating Butterscotch Krimpets. He thought it odd to dream about Butterscotch Krimpets because he hasn’t had one in decades. I remember that one of my best friends loved Butterscotch Krimpets and would have one every day after school. It’s funny how certain foods can kindle happy memories and make for sweet dreams, so I wanted to come up with a recipe to hold onto a piece of our childhood. I looked at a few vegan recipes for Krimpets, but they were nightmarishly loaded with a lot of refined sugar, refined flour and non-dairy butter. Yes, these were vegan, but too far off from being whole food that they were definitely off the table for us. I still wanted to pursue a butterscotch treat and decided to take a different approach. I wanted to come up with a bar that had some flavor worth dreaming about yet not too complex to eat first thing in the morning. I used my Chickpea Blondie recipe as a starting point. The main flavor components in butterscotch are butter and brown sugar, so I turned to macadamia butter and maple syrup instead. To compensate for the extra liquid from the syrup I increased the amount of oat flour in the recipe. There were no add-ins like chocolate chips or nuts, so it’s a pretty scaled-down recipe. The Butterscotch Breakfast Bars came out tender, not too sweet with a “buttery” mouth-feel. These are things that dreams are made of. Sweet dreams and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Makes one 8″ square pan

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • ½ cup macadamia butter
  •  1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats, processed into flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 8×8” baking pan with coconut oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In bowl of food processor or in container of high-speed blender, process chickpeas, macadamia butter, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Add liquid ingredients and stir to combine. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the sides start to pull away from the pan and the bars look firm. Cool completely before cutting.

 

28 Apr 2016

Grilled Bok Choy with Sweet n’ Spicy Sesame-Siracha Sauce

Sesame-Siracha Grilled Bok Choy

Sesame-Siracha Grilled Bok Choy

I had a few adorable bok choy in our CSA share this week. Typically I would make bok choy as a stir- fry, but the warm weather has been coaxing me out of the kitchen. I grill a lot of different vegetables, so why not bok choy? Since I don’t use oil when grilling vegetables, I wanted to come up with an Asian-inspired sauce to drizzle over, not drown, the bok choy. The sauce is easy — garlic, ginger, soy sauce, maple syrup, tahini and Siracha sauce. (You can find a recipe for a no-salt-added soyless sauce here.) The bok choy is even easier — slice them in half and grill over a medium-low flame until slightly charred and crisp-tender. While I was out there, I threw on a handful of robust scallions as well. I served the grilled vegetables over steamed rice and drizzled them with the sauce making sure it made contact with everything on the plate. What a delight! The sweet and spicy sauce would go nicely with other grilled or steamed vegetables like asparagus, fennel or zucchini. Great for a weeknight dinner or a weekend lunch. This meal comes together quickly so you can get out of the kitchen with plenty of time to get in some fresh air and sunshine. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sweet & Spicy Sesame-Siracha Sauce

Depending on how much you reduce the sauce the recipe will yield about 1/3 cup of sauce, so you might want to make a double batch.

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger root
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Siracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tahini

Whisk ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and reduce until desired consistency is reached. Do not reduce too much as this will increase the salty taste of the sauce. Store any leftover sauce in refrigerator.

 

26 Apr 2016

Tasty Thai Curry Red Lentils

Thai Curry Red Lentils

Thai Curry Red Lentils

Don’t judge a lentil by its color. Every time I make red lentils they come out with a greenish hue making them look like every other lentil dish ever made. But once you close your eyes and taste the exotic flavors of Thai Curry Red Lentils you’ll see past its color. The ingredient list for this recipe looks a little daunting, but it’s really not a lot of work once you have the Red Thai Curry Paste done. In fact, the curry paste is so potent that you could probably skip the ginger, onions and garlic. You could certainly use a store-bought curry paste if you like. Thai curry paste is available in green, yellow (Massaman), panang and red. Have some fun and try using a different one each time you make this recipe and see which one you like the most. I like lentils that have the consistency of porridge, but you can add more water to make lentil soup. The lentils cook in about 20 minutes, so this is perfect for a weeknight dinner with plenty of leftovers. I served it over fresh baby spinach and Jasmine rice. These spicy and flavorful lentils are certainly an eye-opener. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Thai Curry Red Lentils

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon  minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils, not split lentils
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk
  • fresh spinach for serving
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Cooked rice (optional)

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to color, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir in ginger and garlic. Cook one minute, then add curry paste, stirring constantly. Add broth, curry paste and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer about 20 minutes until lentils are soft. Add coconut milk and cook another five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Place a handful of spinach in bottom of soup bowl, then place a ladle-full of lentils on top. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. If you opt to serve the lentils with rice, place a spoonful of rice in bowl, then the spinach and lentils.

 

24 Apr 2016

Some Like It Hot: Thai Red Curry Paste

Red Thai Curry Paste

Red Thai Curry Paste

Curry Paste Ingredients

Curry Paste Ingredients

I’ve developed quite an appetite for Thai and Indian food since I began my plant-based journey.  What I like about food from Asia is that many of the dishes traditionally have more focus on vegetables and grains and less on meat and dairy. One of my favorite meals is vegetable Thai curry made with curry paste and coconut milk. There’s something about these aromatic flavor components that is oh so savory and seductive. In an effort to support Bruce’s effort to eliminate sodium from his diet and still be able to enjoy Thai curry, I was determined to come up with a no-salt-added recipe for Thai curry paste. (All of the ones I have access to have a lot of sodium.) There are different types of Thai curry, ranging from yellow to green to red — red being the hottest. My first attempt at the red turned out too green and I didn’t care for the flavor. Not one to back down from a culinary challenge, I tweaked the recipe and came up with one I can be happy with. Actually, it’s hard to “tweak” Thai curry paste since the main ingredients are hot Thai chilies that can overpower the other ingredients. A few words about the other ingredients: You can find fresh lemongrass at an Asian market (I’m trying to grown some this summer) and some markets may even sell frozen, minced lemongrass. Galangal is a root that looks like ginger, but has a bite to it. The galangal and dried lime rind can be purchased on-line. You can slice the galangal into 1/4″ slices and freeze it for several months in a freezer bag. It’s not necessary to peel the galangal when you’re ready to use it. Can you omit the galangal or use fresh lime rind instead? Probably, but there are certain recipes that I try to keep authentic as possible and this is one of them. You can refrigerate the paste for about one week or freeze in ready-to-use portions (1 to 2 tablespoons) for future enjoyment. So, now what do you do with your very own Thai curry paste? Find a recipe for vegetable Thai curry (I like the one from The Vegan Table cookbook). Or you can try my recipe for Thai Curry Red Lentils that will appear in my next post. Until then, thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Thai Curry Paste

  • 40 (2- to 3-inch-long) Thai dried hot red chiles, halved and seeds discarded
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted in a non-stick skillet
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a non-stick skillet
  • 1 fresh lemongrass stalks, 1 or 2 outer leaves discarded (1/3 cup)
  • ½  teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh or thawed frozen galangal
  • Dried lime rind (processed in spice grinder to yield 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

Place all ingredients in a mini-chopper and process on high, adding water (about 4 to 6 tablespoons) to desired consistency.

 

23 Apr 2016

It’s All Good: Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

You know the saying, “you have to take the bad with the good?” Well the bad thing is that I had several winter squash hanging around the garage that were, literally, going to go bad. The good thing is that it’s still cool enough to turn on the oven. I also have a small convection oven on my pseudo-outdoor kitchen (aka covered patio) that makes warm-weather baking do-able. I have one squash that looks like a small basketball, a few buttercup squash and one spaghetti squash. I baked the basketball and buttercup squash and finished them off with maple syrup and Chinese Five Spice seasoning. Keeping with the Asian theme, I used the peanut sauce recipe from the Forks Over Knives cookbook for the spaghetti squash which calls for the sauce to be tossed with broccoli and rice noodles. Roasting the spaghetti squash with minced garlic just adds another layer of flavor. Oh boy! This dish turned out great. This is a nice way to add more veggies to my plate and still enjoy one of my favorite sauces. If you want to have more room on your plate for something like sauteed greens, you can fill the buttercup squash with the spaghetti squash. Anyway you serve it, it’s all good. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Makes 2 servings

  • One spaghetti squash, about 2 to 2-1/2 lbs.
  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Lightly coat cut surface of squash with olive oil, if using. Sprinkle the minced garlic on surface. Place in large baking pan, cut side up, and bake until tender, about 1 hour.

While squash is baking, prepare the sauce. Combine coconut water, peanut butter, syrup, soy sauce minced ginger and red pepper flakes in small saucepan. Heat over low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

When squash is ready, scrape out the flesh with a fork, working from the stem to the blossom end of the squash. Place into shallow serving bowl and toss with sauce. Garnish with cilantro.

19 Apr 2016

Easier Than Pie: Caramel Apple Waffles

Caramel Apple Waffles

Caramel Apple Waffles

I was in the mood for some waffles this morning. Traditionally (and out of necessity for working folks) the weekend is a time to make a special breakfast. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could start out every morning as if it were Saturday or Sunday? With that wish in mind, I came up with this recipe for Caramel Apple Waffles. I caramelized some apples, added cinnamon, toasted a few waffles, drizzled on warm maple syrup and sprinkled the top with candied walnuts.This is one of those “have-it-your-way” recipes where you can improvise to your heart’s content. I used a Fuji apple; you can use any apple you have on hand. I didn’t peel the apple; you might want to do so. The walnuts are candied in maple syrup. You can skip the candying process and simply toast the walnuts or leave them out completely. I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free waffles, not because I’m gluten intolerant, but simply because they’re vegan, taste great and crisp up nicely in the toaster. You can make the apples and candied walnuts ahead of time to make it even easier to get out the door on a weekday. Caramel Apple Waffles are certainly easier to make than pie, yet sure to make any morning feel like it’s the weekend. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Warning: The following information is my thought process, not necessarily a recipe that’s cast in stone.

Caramel Apple Waffles

  • Maple syrup, as needed
  • One handful of walnut or pecan pieces
  • 1 large apple, cut into ½” chunks
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 4 waffles

Toast walnuts or pecans in a non-stick skillet. Add about 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and stir until the syrup coats the nuts. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

Add apple pieces and a little water to the same skillet. Cook on medium-high heat until apples are tender and lightly browned, adding more water to prevent sticking. Remove from heat when done.

Assembly:

Toast waffles, spoon apples on top, drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle the top with candied nuts.

17 Apr 2016

All Wrapped Up: Moo Shu Brussel Sprouts Burrito

Mu Shu Burrito

Mu Shu Burrito

Sometimes I get myself all wrapped up in coming up with a recipe, and today was a perfect example. I don’t even know where to begin with this one, so I’ll just re-trace my steps. It all started with a bag of Brussel sprouts left over from last week’s CSA box. Brussel sprouts are a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, which includes cabbages. So I tried to think about some of my favorite cabbage recipes and there really aren’t a whole lot of them. However, I do love Chinese Moo Shu, a stir-fried cabbage filling (usually containing pork and eggs) that gets wrapped up in a thin pancake.  Mom and I went to our favorite ethnic market to pick up the remaining ingredients, the most important one being the Moo Shu wrappers. Moo Shoot! They didn’t have the wrappers. No big deal though, as Wang’s Oriental Market in town would surely have the wrappers. Moo Shoot, again! By now I’m resigning myself to Plan B — Moo Shu without the wrapper. And then I remembered those huge flour tortillas left over from a burrito bender I was on a few weeks ago. How bad could they be? Aren’t all wrappers made with flour and water any way? Back to Plan A. The filling came together quite nicely. I sauted the aromatics (scallions, ginger, garlic); stir-fried the vegetables (mushrooms, red peppers, Brussel sprouts, cabbage); added in the liquid condiments (sherry, mirin, soy sauce). I warmed the tortilla, smeared on some plum sauce, piled on the Moo Shu and wrapped it up. I couldn’t come up with a number of servings for this recipe as it depends on what size wrapper you use and how generous you are with the filling. All I can say is that it makes about 2 quarts of scrumptious Moo Shu filling. What I like about using the tortilla is that it’s way bigger and actually neater than the usual Moo Shu pancake that’s served in a Chinese restaurant. So go with the Moo Shu Burrito — one and done! I’d say that’s a wrap. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Moo Shu Vegetable with Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts

Notes: You can leave out the Brussel sprouts and use all cabbage. If you can’t find the black fungus mushrooms, simply add a few more shitakes.

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 dried black fungus mushrooms, re-hydrated with hot water and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 oz. shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. Napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 10 oz. Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons dry Sherry
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Mu Shu wrappers or flour burritos
  • Plum sauce

.Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok (you can omit the oil and use a few tablespoons of water). Add scallions, ginger root and garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Add shitakes, bell pepper and black mushrooms to wok and saute until vegetables start to soften. Add water, 2 tablespoons at a time, if necessary to prevent sticking.

Add Brussel sprouts and cabbage and continue to stir fry until softened. Add Sherry, mirin, soy sauce and liquid smoke and cook for another minute or two.

Assembly:

Spread a small amount of plum sauce on moo shu wrapper or burrito. Add moo shu filling and wrap or roll up.

16 Apr 2016

Rebuilding: Creamy Mushrooms & Leeks for Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Mushroom-Leek Saute

Creamy Mushroom-Leek Saute

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe for mushroom, leek and potato soup that looked very tasty. There were two problems, though. First, I really don’t care for soup all that much. Soup always leaves me wanting more  — and that something more is usually bread or dessert. When I do make soup, it’s more like stew — loaded with vegetables and grains and not much broth. Second, this recipe called for two cups of heavy cream. (Wow! I shutter to think that I probably would have made this in my previous life.) If I substituted cashew cream for the dairy cream, it would be rich-tasting, but it would also be too rich in fat and calories. Life can be full of compromises, but I don’t like to settle when it comes to food. So this recipe was on the back burner until I could come up with one that would satisfy my craving for creamy mushrooms and potatoes that’s rich in flavor, not in calories. What I cooked up was a “deconstructed” version of that soup. I rebuilt the recipe by sauteing leeks, garlic and mushrooms, added a splash of red wine and a healthy dollop of cashew cream, then spooned it over mashed potatoes. This dish is uncompromisingly creamy, savory and hearty and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Creamy Mushroom & Leeks for Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 large leeks, rinsed and sliced thinly
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (cremini, white button, shitakes, etc.)
  • ¼ cup red wine (optional)
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth (or 1 cup if not using wine)
  • ½ cup cashew cream

Mashed potatoes

Coat a non-stick skillet with olive oil (or heat up 2 tablespoons of water) over medium-high heat. Saute leeks until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add mushrooms and saute until brown and most of liquid has cooked out. De-glaze pan with wine or ¼ cup of the broth. Add remaining broth and cashew cream and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat. Serve over mashed potatoes.

 

 

14 Apr 2016

Hard to Beet: Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beet Centerpiece

Beet Centerpiece

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beets have always been one of those “I’m-sittin’-on-the-fence-about” vegetables. I’ve tried boiling, roasting and pickling beets to serve as a side dish or as an addition to salads. I’ve even burgerized them. (Oh, I should share that recipe with you soon.) They’re labor intensive, even a little messy and take a long time to get fork-tender. And after all that, they’re rather bland. I received a beautiful trio of beets in my CSA share last week and figured if nothing else they’d make a nice table arrangement. Then Bruce mentioned that his friend likes to eat raw beets. Really? I never thought of that. I tried a little sliver and it was quite tasty, so I tossed a handful of beet matchsticks into the salad. Not bad at all. Since I had three beets available, I decided to come up with a recipe that would put more focus on the beets. As I usually do with chickpeas that are destined for a salad, I marinated cubed beets in the dressing before adding some greens. As long as I was marinating beets I might as well add some chickpeas to take this salad from side dish (or centerpiece) to main course. I went with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey.  I wanted a dressing that could stand up to kale and give a flavor boost to the beets. This is one hearty and healthy salad that’s hard to “beet”. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 1 cup drained chickpeas
  • 1 medium beet, cut into chunks the size of chickpeas
  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and chopped (4 cups)

In large salad bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard and garlic powder. Add chickpeas and beets, stir and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Add kale and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. You could add sunflower or pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries/cherries and chopped nuts.

 

11 Apr 2016

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