Friday, October 25, 2013

Spinach Miso Soup with Tempeh Croutons

I've made some recent posts bragging about the lovely Indian summer in San Francisco.  Apparently, it's now over because it's been freezing cold here!  I know San Franciscans are notorious for complaining about cold weather that would be considered warm in other parts of the world, but still.  It's cold and all I want to do is eat soup.  So, here's a quick and easy soup recipe for the cold fall/winter days to come.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cups of water 
2 bouillon cubes
4 cups of spinach, coarsely chopped (I used Bloomsdale spinach; you can use any leafy greens)
2 tablespoons miso paste (I used brown rice miso)
1 8-oz. package of tempeh, cubed
Shredded red cabbage, for garnish (optional)
Cashew cream, for garnish (optional) -- I used this recipe and thinned it out with some water so that it could be easily drizzled.
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and soft.
  2. Add the water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the spinach, cook for 2 minutes or so, and then stir in the miso paste.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (I did this in batches)
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh cubes and sauté for 2 minutes or so, until crispy and browned on all sides. 
  6. Add a few pieces of shredded red cabbage to the tempeh and sauté for a minute, until soft.
  7. Pour some of the soup into bowls, drizzle with cashew cream, and top with the tempeh croutons and red cabbage.  

I suppose this soup doesn't really have to be blended, but I preferred the texture that way.  It also creates a soup thick enough to prevent the tempeh croutons from instantly sinking to the bottom of the bowl.  The cashew cream didn't really add much flavor here, since the soup is super savory.  But it made for a nice presentation and color contrast.  And as I mentioned above, you can use any leafy greens that you have on hand...Swiss chard, bok choy, or the ever popular kale.

I really loved this soup.  It would make a great base for other soup creations.  Try adding in some rice, pasta, lentils, etc. to give it some more bite.  I ended up drinking most of it out of a cup.  So, I guess we can call this a warm and savory green smoothie. :)

Ok, maybe not.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

White Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was super excited when I got my pressure cooker last year.  Within a week of getting it, I had made almost every bean dish that exists in the world.  And then for some reason, I fell out of love with my handy little pressure cooker and didn't touch it for months. It's a sad thing when kitchen gadgets lose their novelty. :(  Of course, this is total crazy talk because pressure cookers have been around forever and they make cooking dried beans so darn easy.  So, I pulled out my pressure cooker and went a little overboard with the white beans this week.  I'll be eating white beans for a while, which is a good thing in my book.  

Luckily, white beans can be used in so many dishes, including dessert!  I decided to play around with my previous lima bean cookie recipe.  I just thought I'd make a few small adjustments.  Don't you ever look back at one of your recipes and think, "What was I thinking?"  I thought the lima bean cookies were great, but I probably didn't give it due diligence in terms of recipe testing. I still don't know if this iteration is ready for prime time, but here it is anyway.  :)

Makes 1 dozen cookies

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup cooked white beans (I used navy beans)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups spelt flour (or other whole grain flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced or chopped almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the oil, sugar, maple syrup, beans, and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and almonds.
  6. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place them on the baking sheet. Flatten each ball slightly using your fingers.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  8. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
As you can see from the ingredient list, these are basically your standard chocolate chip cookies, but with white beans added to the mix.  These were cakey cookies, which is the opposite of what you'd expect from cookie dough that's partially made of beans.  I didn't increase the amount of beans used in the original recipe, so I'm still curious to see what will happen if I do.  A third of a cup of bean purée isn't really much...but then again, we're not trying to make bean burgers here.  :)

I know half a cup of sugar, in addition to maple syrup, for only a dozen cookies may seem like a lot of sweetness, but coconut palm sugar isn't really that sweet. If you make these with another type of granulated sugar, you can probably decrease the amount to 1/4 cup.

The verdict? These cookies were a delicious and near guilt-free treat.  I love the fact that white beans are included because I'm a big fan of using typically savory ingredients in desserts.  Texture-wise, these may not satisfy chocolate chip cookie connoisseurs who swear by the crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside combo.  But all in all, I'd definitely make these again, especially since I've fallen back in love with my pressure cooker and foresee an abundance of beans in my kitchen. :)


Monday, October 7, 2013

Raw Kiwi Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

I know autumn is the time for pumpkin baked goods and I usually try to cook with the seasons.  However, it was such a hot Indian Summer day in San Francisco yesterday, there was no way I was turning on the oven!  Plus, I was in the mood to make a raw cheesecake.  It's so fun figuring out which fruits to use, the color combos, how many layers, the shape and size, etc.  If you're in search of a flexible dessert, this is it.

This time, I went with a kiwi topping since I thought the dark seeds would match well with a chocolate crust. Cooking is like choosing an outfit, you know. :) And who doesn't love a burst of green in desserts?  At first glance, you'd think these were minty green grasshopper pies. But alas, these are tiny bites of cashew creaminess topped with cool and refreshing kiwi purée.

Makes 12+ pieces 

12 mini silicone muffin cups (like these) or a 12-cup mini muffin pan lined with paper baking cups

1/2 cup raw almonds (or other nuts such as pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins (or pitted dates)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao powder)
1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional -- if you want a sweeter crust!
A pinch of salt
  1. Grind the almonds in a blender or food processor for a few seconds. Not too long, just enough to break them down a bit.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a sticky mixture forms.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly among the bottoms of the mini muffin cups and press down well to form a crust. Set aside.
Cheesecake Filling
Heaping 3/4 cups raw cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour or overnight, and then rinsed)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
  1. Blend all the filling ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Place the mini baking cups on a large plate or baking sheet. (if using the silicone cups)
  3. Spoon the filling evenly over each crust, making sure to leave some room on top for the fruit topping.  Use the back of a spoon to flatten out the tops.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes before adding the fruit topping.
Fruit Topping
2 kiwis, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional -- my kiwis were a little tart, so I added some maple syrup.
  1. Purée the chopped kiwis and maple syrup (if using) in a blender or food processor until smooth. 
  2. Spoon the kiwi purée over the top of each cheesecake.  Use the back of a spoon to flatten out the tops.
  3. Cover again with foil and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.
--> Let the cheesecakes thaw in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Depending on the crust to cheesecake ratio that you used, there will likely be some leftover crust and/or filling.  For immediate gratification, eat the leftovers as is (that's what I did!). Or if you have some extra molds or mini tart pans, you can probably squeeze out a few more little cheesecakes.  It's up to you! Alternatively, you can also use an 8-inch square pan and use this recipe to make one large cheesecake, which will look just as pretty cut up into squares. Just remember to line the pan with foil or parchment paper for easy removal.

No kiwis? Try fresh or frozen mango, pineapple, or berries for the fruit topping. Or leave the fruit out completely and top the cheesecakes with chopped nuts, shaved chocolate, raw caramel, or nothing at all.  Sometimes, simple is best! :)


Friday, October 4, 2013

Tempeh, Avocado, Tomato, and Dill Croquettes

I left the farmers' market this week with an abundance of cherry tomatoes and dill.  I think dill has got to be my favorite herb.  Eating it is like biting into a vegetable garden. :)  Since I had so much dill on hand, I thought I'd use it instead of nori in the Tempeh Avocado Nori Cakes recipe that I previously posted.  For more color and flavor, I also added chopped cherry tomatoes.  I'm realizing now that these should be called croquettes instead of cakes.  Similar to potato croquettes, they're soft and mushy inside, but crispy on the outside.  The best of both worlds!

Makes about 8 croquettes

1 8 oz. package of tempeh, crumbled (I used Lightlife)
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped or ripped by hand
1/2 cup tomatoes, finely chopped (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the tempeh and avocado together until well combined. (If it looks too wet, like it won't hold together, add a few tablespoons of bread crumbs)
  2. Fold in the dill and tomatoes. Season with salt, to taste. 
  3. Place the bread crumbs on a plate or shallow bowl.
  4. Form the tempeh mixture into 8 patties (or more or less, depending on your preferred croquette size). Dip each patty in the bread crumbs, covering all sides well. Set aside.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Fry the croquettes for about 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. (I did this in 2 batches of 4)
  7. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately.
There's nothing that really has to be cooked here.  The bread crumbs just have to brown, which doesn't take long.  I haven't attempted a baked version, but if you have or plan to, please report back!  

Tomato-wise, the cherry tomatoes worked well since they don't contain much pulp.  Other meaty tomatoes, such as Roma tomatoes, would also work well here. You can also leave the tomatoes out completely if tomatoes aren't your thing. Between the avocado and dill, these are loaded with flavor. 

I originally thought that I'd stick these in mini slider buns, but I don't think they'd stand up well as a burger. They're fantastic served alone, topped with your favorite sauce, or eaten on top of salad greens.  The crunch is the best part!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Miso Lime Green Tea Noodles with Tempeh, Kale, and Watermelon Radish

Have you ever meandered through a grocery store, not really looking for anything in particular, and with no clue what to make for dinner? I'm sure you have. :)  Sometimes, I just buy ingredients based on their 'wow' factor, but have no idea how (or if) the pieces will fit together.  The other day, I picked up two interesting looking ingredients:  green tea noodles (cha soba) and a watermelon radish.  I hadn't cooked with either ingredient before.  I just thought green and pink would look really great together! I knew kale and tempeh would also be involved, because kale and tempeh are always involved these days.  As for the sauce, I wanted something creamy and proceeded to throw a bunch of things in my personal blender.  Freestyle cooking at its best!

These Hakubaku green tea noodles really smell like green tea once you open the package.  But after boiling them, they taste pretty much like regular noodles...that happen to be green.  They're made of wheat flour, buckwheat flour, green tea powder, and water.

Here's the inside of a watermelon radish.  Beautiful, eh?  I'm so amazed by the vibrant colors of some fruits and vegetables!  Eaten raw, watermelon radishes taste similar to regular radishes...very peppery, but milder. They're also as big as beets.  Although raw watermelon radishes taste just fine to me, I thought I'd steam them to buffer some of the peppery-ness in this dish.

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup raw hemp seeds
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon tamari
2 teaspoons (or more) sriracha sauce (or other chili sauce), optional
1 7 oz. package of green tea noodles
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced
1 small bunch of kale, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil, for frying
1 8 oz. package of tempeh, cut into cubes
Black sesame seeds, for garnish
  1. Prepare the sauce:  Blend the hemp seeds, water, lime juice, miso paste, tamari, and sriracha sauce (if using) in a personal blender or mini food processor until smooth.  (You can heat the sauce if you'd like, but I just ate it at room temperature)
  2. Boil the noodles according to the package instructions (about 4 minutes or so).  Drain the noodles in a colander and set aside.
  3. Place the radish slices and chopped kale in a steamer basket/pot over boiling water, cover, and steam for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  4. While the vegetables are steaming, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh cubes and fry on each side until golden.
  5. Plating:  Place 2 to 4 radish slices on a plate.  Add a layer of noodles, followed by some kale, and then some tempeh cubes.  Drizzle everything with the sauce (I like to use a squeeze bottle for this). Garnish with black sesame seeds.
If you're an Instagram user like me, you'll take about a million photos of the dish before digging in.  When you're ready to eat, just mix everything together on the plate and go for it!  I ended up cutting up the radish slices so that I could have a piece with each bite.  The radish will bleed into the sauce and noodles, so be prepared for a little pretty in pink action. :)  The sauce was reminiscent of some peanut-based and cashew-based sauces that I've made.  Hemp seeds are great because there's no need to soak them beforehand and because they're so small, you'll have hemp seed butter within seconds to add creaminess to your homemade sauces.  

I thought the green tea noodles were tasty, but no different from other soba noodles.  They make for a great presentation, for sure.  I love creating colorful meals, so I see myself using green tea noodles again in the future. As for the watermelon radish?  I'm in love.  Pink is the new yum. :)


Monday, September 30, 2013

VeganMoFo 15: Collard Rolls with Sunflower Seed Pâté

Sooooooo, I was aiming to get at least twenty VeganMoFo posts up, but as you can see I'm five short!  It was a busy month, I suppose.  In any case, I still have one September post left in me and this is it.  The first raw pâté I ever had was at the wonderful Que SeRaw SeRaw in Burlingame.  It was a mock tuna pâté made with almonds, sunflower seeds, tahini (among other things) and flavored with kelp powder.  I find myself dreaming about it often.  My version isn't a mock tuna, but it's just as delicious.  I think the fresh dill is the most important ingredient here.  The flavor is so refreshing and I think it compliments the tahini perfectly.

These are a great snack, or in my case, a great dinner.  The food processor basically does all the work, while you get to have fun rolling up beautiful collard green leaves.  And when it's time to eat, just pop them in your mouth. No chopsticks required. :)

Makes 2 servings

1 cup raw sunflower seeds (soaked for at least an hour)
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons white miso
2 teaspoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 -1/3 cup water
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
6 small collard green leaves

  1. Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds.
  2. Chop the sunflower seeds and carrot pieces in a food processor (it will still be chunky, but that's a good thing!).  
  3. Add the green onions, dill, tahini, miso, tamari, salt, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of water.  Blend until everything is combined.  You may have to add some additional water to help the blending process.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Place the collard leaves in a steamer basket/pot over boiling water, cover, and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the leaves are tender.  
  5. Transfer the leaves to a large cutting board.  The stem should be the closest end to you.  Cut out half of the rib from each leaf (not the entire rib, just the thick part).
  6. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto the center of each leaf. Place a few shreds of cabbage on top.
  7. Fold the left and right sides towards the center and then the bottom flaps up towards the center to enclose the filling (burrito style).  Then roll tightly away from you until you have a nice dolma-type roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
  8. You can eat them as is.  But for a fancy presentation, you can cut each roll in half (or in thirds, depending on how wide your leaves are), stand them up like sushi (as pictured) and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. :)

One thing to note is that I used really small collard greens that I found at my local farmers' market.  They were like baby collard leaves and of course I couldn't resist them. :)  So, I didn't need much filling.  Mine were more like dolmas than burritos.  So feel free to double the recipe if you have normal-sized collard leaves on hand. Now that I think about it, I should always double the recipe because with these rolls, I know I'll always want seconds. 

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

VeganMoFo 14: Coconut Tomato Black-Eyed Pea Soup

San Francisco has a lovely Indian Summer from September to November.  Since it's so nice and warm outside, it's not exactly my idea of soup-eating weather. Nevertheless, I was craving coconut tomato soup after recently having it for the first time at Gaia's Garden in Santa Rosa.  Coconut Tomato Soup, where have you been all my life?

Tangy tomatoes and creamy coconut milk is a combination made in gastronomic heaven.  But as far as soups go, I prefer to also have something to sink my teeth into...cubed potatoes, carrots, kale, lentils, beans, etc.  I decided to keep it simple and added only black-eyed peas.  Their color matches so well with the soup, it was an easy choice.  :)

Makes about 2 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Ground pepper, to taste
2 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (I used Rapunzel bouillon with sea salt and herbs)
2 cups of tomatoes, diced (or a 16 oz. box/can of diced tomatoes)
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, canned (or cooked via pressure cooker; 10-11 minutes unsoaked)
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the diced onion and cook for about 10 minutes until soft.  Season with black pepper, to taste.
  2. Combine the cooked onions, water, bouillon cube, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, and tomato paste together in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into a blender (no more than half full). Holding the lid down, blend the mixture until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. (You can also use an immersion blender to do this)
  4. Transfer the soup back to the pot.
  5. Rinse the cooked black-eyed peas in a strainer and then add them to the soup.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

I garnished the soup with some coconut milk and fresh basil leaves.  The carboholic in me needed some type of bread to go along with the soup, so I spread some homemade cashew cheese on a toasted Ozery OneBun.  What a meal!  I should stick some of this soup in a commuter mug and drink it all day long.

Warm weather or cold weather, who cares?  This soup convinced me that soup should be eaten whenever you're in need of a nourishing and satisfying meal. Plus, if it's hot outside, you can always have ice cream for dessert. :)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

VeganMoFo 13: Ube (Purple Yam) Buns

I can't let VeganMoFo 2013 pass without a post devoted to one of my favorite ingredients:  ube!  It's also known as a purple yam and is common in many Filipino desserts.  Here are my previous ube recipe posts:

Ube Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Oatmeal Coconut Ube Cookies

Whenever I cook with purple yams, I have to resist the urge to eat it all immediately after steaming.  Similar to garnet yams, they have a subtle natural sweetness...I can eat them like pudding. :)  I wish I took a photo of the purple yams before I peeled, steamed, and mashed them. You can take a look at them here.  As you can see, they look like regular old yams on the outside. But once you cut into them...put on your's a beautiful vibrant purple inside.  There's no food coloring used in these buns, just fresh purple yams.  You can sometimes find purple yams at Asian grocery stores. I get them at 101 Super Mart on Clement Street in San Francisco.  You can also get them frozen or in powdered form, but fresh is best!

These buns are modeled after a purple sweet potato bun recipe posted on the lovely Abusymom's Blog.  I came across it after doing a Google search for "purple yam buns" (thank you, Google!)  Even though I do have a kitchen scale at home, I was too lazy to weigh out all the ingredients (I know that's a no-no for many bakers).  Instead, I decided to use a standard vegan cinnamon roll recipe for the dough.  My buns aren't as pretty and delicious looking as hers (uh...that didn't come out right...), so I'm considering this a work in progress. She has a number of photos showing the steps for the recipe, so check out her blog. Her photos are absolutely gorgeous  :)

Makes 8 large buns

1/4 cup water
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons vegan butter (i.e., Earth Balance buttery sticks)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer
3 1/3 whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for kneading
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  1. Heat the water, almond milk, sugar, vegan butter, and salt in a sauce pan over low-medium heat and stir until the butter is fully melted. Stir in the egg replacer and remove from heat. 
  2. Place the flour and yeast in a large bowl. 
  3. Once the liquid mixture has cooled, but is still warm (110°F - 115°F), add it to the flour mixture.  Mix together until a dough forms.
  4. Turn the dough out onto well-floured work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add flour while kneading if the dough is too sticky.
  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.
  6. While the dough is rising, make the purple yam filling.
1 1/2 cups purple yams, steamed and mashed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
  1. Scrub and peel the yams. Cut them into 1-inch long chunks.
  2. Place them in a vegetable steamer over boiling water.  Cover and steam for 20-25 minutes, or until the yams are soft when pierced with a fork.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and mash while they're still hot.  (You can use a blender or food processor for this, but I think a potato masher works just fine, if you have one)
  4. Stir in the maple syrup.  Set aside to cool.
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  1. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of each step of the dough shaping process.  I followed the method on Abusymom's Blog, so please refer to her post for the photo instructions.  As I said before, her photos are gorgeous and you're much better off looking at them for inspiration!
  2. Moving right along...Place the shaped buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish cloth and let rise again in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.
  3. After the buns have doubled in size, brush them with almond milk and sprinkle sesame seeds on them.
  4. Bake the buns in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they're nicely browned.
  5. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.

And taa-daa!  Here's what one of the buns looked like fresh out of the oven. The texture would have been much lighter had I used white flour, but I was happy with the whole wheat pastry flour results.  These were so good warm! They weren't terribly sweet, probably due to the fact that I used a cinnamon roll recipe and didn't use any icing.  You can add icing, but then it might be too sweet.  Up to you!

As always, I got a little heavy handed with the black sesame seeds.  These look like bagels!

I'm only now getting the hang of baking with yeast, so I was just happy that I didn't kill the yeast in the beginning. :)  I'd like to thank Abusymom for inspiring me to bake these and for allowing me to link back to her post.  I'll make these again and will keep you updated with my purple yam bun progress!


Monday, September 23, 2013

VeganMoFo 12: Chocolate Hemp Seed Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting

If you asked me what my favorite cake is, I'd give you an emphatic "all of the above!"  If you kept pressing, my answer would have to be carrot cake. Admittedly, one of the main reasons why I love carrot cake so much is the cream cheese frosting that often accompanies it.  I also love how moist carrot cakes usually are, although I've had many a dry carrot cake (store-bought and by my own hands).  I've seen chocolate carrot cake recipes here and there and thought I'd give it a go.  Carrot cake plus chocolate?

Let's do this.

I'm all about cashews these days, so I used the Creamy Cashew Icing recipe from the lovely Detoxinista blog.  There are a number of cashew-based "cream cheese" frostings out there, but this one comes pretty close to the real thing.  I don't have a high-powered blender, so my frosting didn't turn out that smooth.  But it sure was delicious!  From these photos, I know it kind of looks like this is a raw cake, but the cake is baked.  Let's call it rustic, shall we?  For the cake, I used a combination of carrot cake recipes and added some unsweetened cocoa powder. Hemp seeds make an appearance because I didn't have any walnuts on hand.  Do what you gotta do, I say. :)

Makes one 8-inch round (or square) cake

Raw cashews (soaked in water for a few hours)
Coconut oil, melted
Maple syrup (I used maple syrup instead of agave nectar)
Vanilla extract
Fresh lemon juice

The measurements and instructions are posted here.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup evaporated cane juice (i.e., sugar)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup raw hemp seeds, plus more for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour an 8-inch round (or square) baking pan.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk together to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, applesauce, sugar, almond milk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. (try not to over-mix)
  5. Fold in the grated carrots and hemp seeds. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Smooth out the top using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  9. After frosting, garnish the cake with hemp seeds and bits of carrot.

I brought this cake to work and based on the feedback I received, it was a huge success. I thought that it could have used more of the traditional carrot cake flavor, but I guess it's hard for carrots to compete with chocolate in baked goods. :)  The cake was extremely moist due to the water from the carrots.  The frosting was creamy and not too tart or sweet.  The hemp seeds added some texture, but you don't really taste them at all here.

I'd probably classify this as more of a chocolate cake.  Next time, I might decrease the amount of cocoa powder.  I still thought it was delicious and apparently, everyone at work did too.  It's definitely something different...different in the best way possible. :)


Friday, September 20, 2013

VeganMoFo 11: Sweet and Spicy Maple Tempeh Cashew Cheese Pizza

I really wish I was good at making pizza dough from scratch.  I probably haven't practiced enough.  It's definitely something on my 'things to master' list. :)  In the meantime, I'm relying on store-bought pizza crusts for my semi-homemade pizza creations.  Trader Joe's sells an awesome pre-baked garlic and olive oil flat bread pizza crust.  All you do is add your toppings, bake it for 10 minutes, and voilà! That's what I used here and I thought the pizza turned out great.  The sweet part comes from the smokey maple tempeh and the spicy part comes from, you guessed it, sriracha sauce!  So quick, so easy, and so good. I should also mention that I used store-bought Pomi pizza sauce.  I repeat: So quick, so easy, and so good.  :)

Makes 1 pizza

Cashew Cheese
1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour-- this is optional, but it will make the cheese creamier)
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves of garlic
  1. After soaking the cashews, drain and rinse them well.
  2. Blend the cashews, water, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Maple Tempeh
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 8 oz. package of tempeh
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Using your hands, crumble the tempeh into the skillet and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and nutritional yeast. Sauté for another minute or so.  (not too long because the tempeh will brown some more in the oven)
1 store-bought or homemade pizza crust
1-2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce (depending on how much heat you like!)
1 cup store-bought or homemade pizza sauce
Toppings:  sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, etc. (I only used mini bell peppers)
Fresh basil, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place the pizza crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the pizza sauce and sriracha sauce together in a small bowl. Spread the sauce evenly on the pizza crust.
  3. Using a spoon, drop dollops of cashew cream over the sauce.
  4. Spread the tempeh crumbles and toppings evenly over the sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake according to the package instructions (about 8-10 minutes, or 10-15 minutes if using a homemade crust)
  6. Garnish the pizza with fresh basil before slicing.

I really love sweet and spicy combinations.  But if you don't, you can season your tempeh any way you'd like or leave out the sriracha sauce.  I also loved the creamy cashew cheese. Even though it's a little different from the traditional stretchy cheese that one expects from pizza, it's very flavorful and filling.

Someday, I'll finally perfect my homemade pizza dough skills (fingers crossed), but in the meantime, I'm more than happy to get by with creations like this that are so quick, so easy, and so good.  (3rd time's a charm)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

VeganMoFo 10: Jujube Cardamom Muffins

Have you ever had a fresh jujube?  I'm not talking about the movie theater candy. :)  Jujubes are also known as Chinese dates and can usually be found at Asian markets.  I was lucky enough to find some at the Twin Girls Farm stand during my weekly stroll through the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers' Market.  I had seen them there before, but had never bothered to try them (shameful, I know!).  Well, I'm glad I finally tried them.  They're crunchy and sweet and very addicting. They have a similar texture to apples or pears, but with the sweetness of dates.

Jujubes are wonderful when eaten as is, but I thought it would be cool to bake with them (surprise, surprise).  I didn't have enough to make a pie, so I went with muffins.  Cardamom baked goods are my new obsession and I figured jujubes plus cardamom would be delicious together.  Yum!

Makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, minus 1 tablespoon (see instructions for why)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (i.e., sugar)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh jujubes, pitted and chopped 
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Place the vinegar in a small liquid measuring cup.  Pour in the almond milk until it reaches the 3/4 cup mark.  Set aside. (This is vegan "buttermilk")
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut oil, applesauce, and sugar. Add the "buttermilk" and stir until everything is well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. (try not to over-mix)
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Top each muffin with a few pieces of the chopped jujubes.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  8. Let the muffin pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool some more.

I was really happy with the outcome.  The muffins were super moist and not too sweet.  The jujubes retained their shape and a tiny bit of their crunch.  I debated whether or not to fold the chopped jujubes into the muffin batter, but I'm glad I used them as a topping instead.  It's like the muffins are screaming, "Welcome to fall!" :) 

If you can't find fresh jujubes, apples or pears would be awesome in this recipe too.  I brought the muffins to work and everyone was very intrigued by the jujubes (and of course by the FREE FOOD).  It's always exciting to try new produce and to share that excitement with others.  From now on, when I see something new at the farmers' market, I'll be all over it!


VeganMoFo 9: Avocado, Hummus, Kale, and Sauerkraut Panini

I came home from work today and was feeling super lazy, but super hungry. When that dangerous combination hits me, I usually turn to my little George Foreman grill (a.k.a. panini press).  I probably use it more to toast wraps and sandwiches than to grill tofu or veggies.  It can be a real lifesaver when you want something hot to eat, but are in a hurry...or are just lazy. :)

Unfortunately, this VeganMoFo post doesn't include a fancy recipe for you to share on Pinterest.  It's more of a 'concept'...a wonderfully delicious concept. :)  I originally set out to make (almost) every vegan's favorite quick and easy meal:  avocado toast. Instead, I added hummus, kale, and sauerkraut to the mix.  And in a matter of minutes, I was feasting on this:

As I said, there's no recipe, but here's what I used to make a single panini:

  • Beckmann's German Farm Bread (2 slices)
  • Whole Foods label roasted garlic and chive hummus, spread on both pieces of bread (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • Half an avocado, sliced
  • 2 medium-ish leaves of kale, torn into small pieces and steamed for a few minutes until soft
  • Gundelsheim sauerkraut (about 2-3 tablespoons)

The bread slices were pretty wide, so I had to cut the sandwich in half and grilled each piece separately.  The top lid of the countertop George Foreman grill isn't heavy, so I pushed it down gently with my hands while grilling to ensure that these beautiful grill marks would appear.  I didn't butter or oil the need!

All in all, the sandwich prep and grilling time took about 10 minutes.  And in the end, I was both happy and full.  This is the first time I've ever combined sauerkraut with hummus.  I'm not sure if that counts as fusion food (ha!), but whatever it was, it tasted fantastic.  A delicious and healthy dinner in 10 minutes?  Yes, please. :)


Monday, September 16, 2013

VeganMoFo 8: Edamame, Oyster Mushroom, and Caramelized Onion Tartlets

I love anything in a crust.  Sweet or savory, I'm all over it.  The other day, I was looking for a simple pie crust recipe that used oil instead of vegan butter or shortening and decided to try this one from  As for the pie/tart filling, I knew that caramelized onions would be involved.  I winged it with the rest.  Do you really need anything more than caramelized onions though? :)

And this is totally optional, but I topped the tartlets with crumbles of Kite Hill's truffle, dill, and chive nut-based cheese.  Ah-mazing.  They make several variations of vegan cheeses, which are available exclusively at Whole Foods.  Look for it in the cheese department along with the dairy cheeses. The cheese added wonderful flavor to these tartlets. If you can't get your hands on Kite Hill cheese, you can also use dollops of the homemade cashew cheese from my previous post.

Makes 3 tartlets 

1 tablespoon olive oil, for sautéing
1 large onion, sliced into half moons
1 cup shelled edamame (fresh or frozen/thawed)
1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté for about 30 minutes until caramelized (instructions here)
  3. Transfer the caramelized onions to a bowl and set aside.
  4. To the same skillet, add the edamame and mushrooms. There should be a small amount of leftover oil from sautéing the onions.  If not, add a a few drops of oil to the pan.
  5. Season with the thyme and salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté briefly for about 1 minute, then remove from heat and set aside.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons cold water
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  2. Add the oil and stir until combined.
  3. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until just combined (try not to over-mix)
3 tartlet pans (4.75 inch)
3 tablespoons Kite Hill cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Divide the pie dough into 3 equal sized balls.  Using your fingers, press the dough into the bottoms and sides of the tartlet pans.
  3. Fill each tartlet with a layer of onions, then a layer of the edamame-mushroom mixture, and then top with crumbled cheese, if using.
  4. Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until the crusts are golden.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

This is what the tartlets looked like fresh out of the oven.  The mushrooms shrank in size.

I probably should have made larger crumbles of the cheese because as you can see, they kind of evaporated in the oven.  So, I added more cheese crumbles on top of the finished baked tarts.  I also thought that they needed a little more color, so I added some sautéed chopped orange bell peppers on top as well.

And there you have it!  I could barely wait for the tartlets to cool before devouring one of them.  I give this dish two enthusiastic thumbs up, although I may be biased. :)  Even though there's no puréed tofu, beans, or nut-based cream in the filling, the onions stayed moist and did a nice job holding everything together.  In another iteration of this recipe, I may add some sort of "glue" to the filling, but I honestly don't think it's needed.  I'd say that the caramelized onions are absolutely necessary here though.  There's something magical about caramelized onions in combination with a crust.  It's heavenly.

I know three tartlets is a weird number of servings for a recipe.  I suppose if I tried harder and made the crusts thinner, I could have squeezed out four tarlets instead of just three.  Also, if you don't have tartlet pans, I'm sure this would work in a larger 8-inch pie/tart pan too.  Or even a muffin pan. :)

I was amazed at how flaky the crust turned out, given that room temperature oil was used instead of cold vegan butter or shortening.  Even better, the crust was just as good the next day.  I think this will be the only crust I make from now on.  No rolling pin, pastry cutter, or chilling time needed? I'm sold.


Friday, September 13, 2013

VeganMoFo 7: Cherry Tomato Lentil Bolognese Pasta

I went a little crazy at the farmers' market this week and bought a ton of cherry tomatoes.  I was so happy that they were still available even though summer is coming to a close.  Even though I love eating them like grapes, I wanted to cook with them too.  I also had some leftover lentils on hand. Zing! Lentil bolognese sauce sounded fabulous and it's something that I'd never made until now.

Many lentil bolognese recipes include carrots, celery, mushrooms, or zucchini, but I just went with what I had on hand (lots of cherry tomatoes!).  You can't tell by looking at the photo, but I added Swiss chard to the sauce, which instantly disintegrated when I turned the blender on. (Note to self:  Keep the greens out of the blender, unless making a green smoothie)  I think it still turned out great.  It was sweeter than expected since I used cherry tomatoes, but that made this dish even better in my humble opinion. :)

Makes 4 servings

1 cup brown lentils, uncooked and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
1 16 oz. box of short pasta (I used whole wheat gemelli)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes, stems removed and rinsed (or store-bought unsalted chopped tomatoes)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil, for garnish
  1. Cook the lentils:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils and stir.  Boil the lentils for 8-10 minutes or until soft.  When the lentils are done, drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water well and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions (8 minutes or so), stirring occasionally. When the pasta is done, drain in a colander.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, chop the garlic and onion.
  4. Set aside a handful of cherry tomatoes for later.  Blend the rest of the cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar in a food processor or blender until smooth.  
  5. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato mixture and the cooked lentils and stir. Add the oregano and salt and pepper, to taste.  Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes, if using.  
  7. Add the cherry tomatoes that you set aside earlier.  Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Place some pasta in a bowl.  Scoop some of the lentil sauce over the pasta. Garnish with fresh basil.
This sauce looks eerily like ground beef, doesn't it?  It's definitely very "meaty", but I love that lentils are used instead of a faux meat product. For a kitchen shortcut, you can use pre-cooked lentils (Trader Joe's sells them). And if you use store-bought chopped tomatoes, there's no need to use a blender. Just add the chopped tomatoes as is to the sautéed garlic and onion, along with the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.  You'll end up with a chunkier sauce that way too.  I only used a blender because I was too lazy to chop 3 cups of tiny cherry tomatoes.  :)

The lovely cherry tomatoes that I used aren't in this photo that I took at my local farmers' market, but they were just as vibrantly colored.  I'll miss seeing them at the farmers' market, but I'm also excited about autumn and the return of persimmons and pumpkin baked goods!  Until we meet again, cherry tomatoes...

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

VeganMoFo 6: Chocolate Chip Espresso Almond Quinoa Crunch Cookies

I know the name of this cookie is a mouthful.  A tasty mouthful. I've been on a rampage trying out as many simple (yet wholesome and delicious) chocolate chip cookie recipes that I can get my greedy little hands on.  In my fury, I came across a wonderful recipe on the lovely Vegan Housewives blog.  The cookies are aptly called "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!" and they certainly live up to their name. I made a few modifications, but can't take credit for this awesome recipe.  Check out their blog for more vegan deliciousness.  :)

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup coconut oil (solid)
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
3/4 cup almonds (sliced, chopped, or slivered)
3/4 cup sprouted quinoa (dehydrated; I used Organic Traditions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut oil, sugar, almond milk, and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips, almonds, and quinoa. (try not to over-mix)
  6. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the baking sheet.  
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  8. Transfer cookies to a wire wrack to cool.

The cookies themselves are tender and chewy. The "crunch" part comes from the sprouted quinoa.  I used store-bought sprouted quinoa that was already dehydrated and ready to eat as is.  You can make homemade sprouted quinoa by following the instructions here and using a food dehydrator if you have one.  Sprouting grains makes them easier to digest and more nutritious (details here).  The sprouted quinoa definitely brings more bite to these cookies.  You really have to chew on those little quinoa bits!  If crunchy cookies aren't your thing, you can omit the sprouted quinoa.  These cookies will still be delicious.

These cookies aren't super sweet, which I love. I find that coconut palm sugar is not as sweet as brown sugar or evaporated cane juice.  It also adds a hint of caramel to baked goods.  I love it.  It can be pretty pricey, but if you have a Costco membership, you can get a huge 4-lb. bag of Madhava organic coconut palm sugar for $10 vs. a 16-oz. bag for $7 elsewhere. Pretty good deal, I'd say.

The addition of espresso powder does three things:  1) it gives the cookies a nice coffee/mocha flavor; 2) it enhances the flavor of the chocolate; and 3) it balances out the coconut oil taste that I've found to be sometimes overwhelming in baked goods (that aren't meant to taste like coconut). I usually add a teaspoon of espresso powder to all my chocolate baked goods.  In cakes or brownies, the espresso flavor isn't noticeable at all.  But in these cookies, I definitely tasted it, which was my goal.  :)

And just because I love this little bowl so much, I had to take this photo:

These cookies are quick and easy to make.  I made them this morning before getting ready for work.  Some might call that procrasti-baking.  And they would be correct.  :)


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

VeganMoFo 5: Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea and Swiss Chard Stuffed Baked Potatoes

There's something so comforting about baked potatoes.  But I really don't make them enough.  In fact, I think I've only made them once in my entire life. Wow.  Well, I'm here to add a second baked potato dish to my cooking repertoire. :)

What's another food that I associate with comfort?  Beans! Black-eyed peas, to be exact.  Oh, and cheese. Lots of cheese...

Makes 2 servings

Cheese Sauce
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight or for at least an hour
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 to 1.5 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  1. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Blend the cashews and water in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and turmeric. Continue to blend everything together until smooth.
  4. Taste the mixture and adjust it to your liking by adding more nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, or salt.
  5. Transfer to a saucepan and heat for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and cover.
2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Bake potatoes for 45 to 60 minutes on baking sheet, or until tender. 
  3. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so.  Do not turn off your oven.  (You'll be using it again after you fill the potatoes)
  4. After the potatoes have cooled, slice off the top 1/3 of each potato lengthwise and save for another dish. (or discard, but why waste food?)
  5. Scoop potato flesh out of each potato and transfer to a large bowl.  Try to remove as much flesh from the potatoes as possible without ruining their shape. 
  6. Set the potatoes and potato flesh aside.

Filling (you can start on this while the potatoes are baking)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
3 cloves or garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas, canned (or cooked via pressure cooker; 10-11 minutes unsoaked)
2 cups Swiss chard, packed (stems removed and coarsely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the garlic for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes
  4. Add the cooked and drained black-eyed peas and chopped Swiss chard and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the liquid smoke and cayenne pepper and stir.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Add the black-eyed pea mixture to the bowl with the potato flesh (from above) and mix well.
  7. Stuff the mixture back into the potato skins.  Place potatoes back on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden.
  8. Remove from oven.  Using a spoon, drizzle each potato with the cheese sauce. (reheat the cheese beforehand, if necessary)
I'm now realizing why I rarely make baked potatoes.  I never have the patience to wait for them to bake!  But the wait wasn't so bad here, since I was busy prepping the filling.  I'm looking at the ingredients and think this would also make a great cheesy potato hash.  No need to bake, just chop the potatoes into cubes and sauté with the filling ingredients.  Smother with cheese and voilà!  But for the sake of having a nice little compact baked potato to look at, stick with the original recipe.  :)  

Oh, and remember the top 1/3 of the potatoes that were lopped off in the beginning?  I added them (skin and all) to the leftover filling and made this:

I shoved the leftovers in a whole wheat wrap with some sriracha sauce, toasted it in my George Foreman Grill, and served it with guacamole.  No more leftovers!

I really enjoyed the comfort and warmth of this baked potato.  Summer is gone and autumn is here, so there's no reason to avoid turning on the oven.  I foresee more baked potatoes in my future and I hope there are some in yours too. :)


Monday, September 9, 2013

VeganMoFo 4: Wheat Bran Crusted Tempeh Loaf with Roasted Red Pepper Almond Gravy

When I was little, one of my favorite cereals was Raisin Bran.  Weird, huh?  I mean, how many little kids crave fiber?  Don't get me wrong, I also loved Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms, but Raisin Bran was always at the top of the list.  Eating it was like finding a little raisin treasure in every bite.  As you can see, this recipe is a far cry from Raisin Bran.  But I'm still rocking the wheat bran and loving it.  :)

Makes 2 servings

Seasoned Tempeh 
2 cups water
1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)
1 small onion, cut into quarters
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 8-oz. package of tempeh, cut into squares (I used Trader Joe's 3-grain tempeh and cut it in half)
  1. Combine water, Liquid Aminos, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the tempeh squares and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Cover, remove from heat, and let tempeh cool in the broth.
2 roasted red bell peppers (use jarred roasted peppers if you're short on time)
1/2 cup almond meal (or whole raw almonds)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot (or 1/4 of a small onion)
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Purée the roasted peppers, almond meal, olive oil, shallot, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 10 minutes.  Cover and remove from heat.
2 small zucchinis
1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow -- or a combo of them all!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Finely dice the zucchinis.  Remove the cores and seeds from the bell pepper and finely dice them as well.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Turn off heat and leave pan on burner. (you may want to quickly re-heat the veggies right before plating)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  1. Drain tempeh from the broth.
  2. Place the flour, coconut milk, and wheat bran in 3 separate bowls.  Add the Old Bay and thyme to the wheat bran and stir together.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Dredge the tempeh in the flour and shake off the excess.  Dip it in the coconut milk and let the excess drip off.  Lastly, coat it with the wheat bran.
  5. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes until browned.
  6. Transfer to a wire wrack to drain before plating. (as pictured)

It's true, there are many steps to this dish, but nothing too involved (I hope).  Seasoning the tempeh with broth is a technique I learned from from Vegetarian Times.  This dish was a lot of fun to make...and of course fun to eat too.  It would be a fantastic meal to serve to your family and friends for Thanksgiving.  No need for the annual Tofurky this year!

When all is said and done, you'll likely be hungry as a bear.  Worry about the mountain of dishes in your sink later. Dig in, and whatever you do, don't let that glorious wheat bran get soggy.  :)


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

VeganMoFo 3: Cashew Cheese Bagel of Wonder

Three words:  lazy blog post.  One word:  deeeeelicious.  That's what I thought about my breakfast this morning.  I know posting photos daily meals is more of an Instagram thing (yes, I do that!), but I just thought I'd devote an entire blog post to the makings of a wonderful vegan breakfast bagel. Breakfast is my favorite meal (tied with lunch and dinner).  I think it sets the tone for the rest of the day, for better or for worse.  I always make time for a sit down breakfast, even if I'm only seated for 5 minutes and sipping on a green smoothie.

This particular breakfast really brightened my day.  It was pretty to look at and even better to eat.  For a long time, I avoided bagels completely.  I thought they were dense little gut bombs.  And while that may be the case for some, I've come to enjoy bagels every now and then.  I think the fun part is coming up with the toppings.  Bagel decorating party, anyone?  :)

The ingredient of interest here is the cashew cheese.  Or perhaps it's more like a cashew dip or spread.  There are tons of recipe variations out there for cashew cheese.  Some get fancy with rejuvelac culturing.  Some include nutritional yeast.  Like most people, I'm drawn to the recipe with the least amount of ingredients and fewest number of steps. Sometimes, that combination leads to diminished flavor, but fortunately that's not the case here.  It's simple, yet versatile. And did I mention deeeeelicious? :)

Makes about 1 cup of cheese

1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for at least an hour-- this is optional, but it will make the cheese creamier)
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cloves of garlic

Your favorite bagel (I used a pumpernickel bagel from the House of Bagels in SF)

Toppings:  Mini bell pepper slices, capers, fresh basil, black sesame seeds (as pictured) or whatever you want...sliced tomatoes, onions, dill, hemp seeds, etc.

  1. After soaking, drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Blend the cashews, water, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. You can spread the cheese on your toasted bagel immediately, or store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for a few hours.  (it firms up nicely this way)
  4. Add your toppings of choice and dig in.

The amounts listed here for the cashew cheese recipe are flexible. Try it out and then make it your own. I usually just eyeball it and make flavor adjustments as I go.  You can also add your favorite herbs, such as dill or chives.  Since I only wanted to make a small amount of cashew cheese, I used my Tribest personal blender for this.  If you've got a Vitamix, Blendtec, Magic Bullet, or other high-powered blender, soaking the cashews beforehand isn't necessary.  (Secret:  I didn't soak my cashews and my little Tribest blender still yielded a pretty smooth cheese)

I think the capers are a must for any bagel enthusiast.  A little goes a long way, but feel free to pile them on.  Sure, it would've been easy to bust out the Tofutti cream cheese, but you'll never go back to store-bought cream cheese after this. :)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VeganMoFo 2: Raw Chocolate Blueberry Hazelnut Crumb Cups

I absolutely adore raw desserts.  The first raw dessert I ever tried was the coconut cream pie from Cafe Gratitude.  Yowzah!  So rich and creamy.  After that one slice, I was hooked.  Nowadays, you can find ready-made raw cheesecakes at Whole Foods or other natural foods stores.  I've also tried my hand at making raw desserts at home such as:

Mini Mango and Chocolate Cheesecakes
Brownies with Avocado Cashew Frosting
Chocolate Hemp Seeds Balls and Cashew Cream Thumbprints
Chocolate Hemp Seed Ice Cream

The most common ingredients in raw desserts are nuts, dates, and coconut oil, which can sometimes cost a bundle.  I chalk it up to the 'you get what you pay for' philosophy.  These are natural, wholesome, and minimally processed ingredients.  In fact, most of the processing is done by you.   It's true that a blender or food processor is required for most recipes.  I've been getting by with my trusted KitchenAid food processor and handy Tribest personal blender.  The Tribest blender is awesome for making small batches of cashew cream, raw sauces, and of course green smoothies. It also comes with a mason jar attachment that's super cool.  I love it!  I haven't taken the plunge to invest in a food dehydrator yet, but that's another piece of equipment often required in raw dessert recipes.

The assembling of raw desserts is pretty quick, however time is required to soak the nuts beforehand and to wait for the dessert to set in the freezer or refrigerator. All in all, I love making (and eating) raw desserts.  I firmly believe that they're worth the time and money.

This recipe is adapted from the Raw Desserts cookbook by Erica Palmcrantz Aziz and Irmela Lilja.  It's a wonderful cookbook with creative recipes and beautiful photographs.  I mainly changed the crust ingredients and also added the crumb topping...because who doesn't love crumb toppings?  :)

Makes 12 pieces

2 cups raw hazelnuts (or pecans, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts)
1 cup pitted dates

  1. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
  3. Add the dates and continue to blend until a sticky mixture forms. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to help the blending.
  4. Set aside about 3/4 cup of this mixture in a small bowl. (for the crumb topping)
  5. Divide the rest of the mixture evenly among the bottoms of the muffin pan and press down well to form a thin crust. 
{clean out your food processor or blender at this point}

1 cup frozen wild or regular blueberries, defrosted 
1/2 cup pitted dates
  1. Blend the blueberries and dates in a food processor or blender until there are no large chunks of dates left.
  2. Divide the filling evenly among the crusts in the muffin pan.
{clean out your food processor or blender again}

Chocolate Layer & Topping
1 cup coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
  1. Blend the melted coconut oil, cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder, and maple syrup in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Using a spoon, pour the chocolate over the blueberry filling in each muffin cup.
  3. Sprinkle each cup with some of the crust mixture that you set aside earlier. (I also sprinkled each cup with hemp seeds)
  4. Cover with foil and let the cups set in the freezer for about an hour or until firm. Allow time for them to defrost before serving if you let them chill overnight.  

I loved these. The natural sweetness from the blueberries was well matched with the rich chocolate.  The size of each cup was perfect. I think I'll try this with raspberries and almonds next time.  The chocolate will sort of melt in your hands if you hold on to it long enough, but I guess that gives you good reason to quickly  inhale each piece without stopping.  Just kidding. Kinda. :)


Sunday, September 1, 2013

VeganMoFo 1: Raw Chocolate Hemp Seed Ice Cream

I can't believe a whole year has passed since the last VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food)!  I participated for the first time in 2012.  It gave me a chance to resurrect this little blog, which I first initiated in 2009, but let fall by the wayside for a few years.  Oops.  I was pretty exhausted after last year's VeganMoFo, but also thrilled to read so many creative vegan-themed blog posts from around the world on a daily basis.  It also gave me an opportunity to connect with other bloggers via blog comments, Instagram, or Twitter.  It truly is a special month.  Like last year, I don't have a VeganMoFo theme...unless "anything goes" counts as a theme. :)

To kick off VeganMoFo 2013, I thought I'd post something sweet and simple: ice cream! Autumn is right around the corner, but before I go crazy with pumpkin-mania, here's a cool and refreshing four-ingredient dessert in honor of the warm and sunny days of summer.

Makes about 4 servings

3 bananas
3 tablespoons raw hemp seeds
3 tablespoons cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup

  1. Peel and slice the bananas into about 1-inch thick pieces.  Place in an airtight container and freeze for about 3 hours.
  2. Blend the frozen bananas, hemp seeds, cacao or cocoa powder, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for another hour or so until firm.

Okay, so that was almost too easy.  I said it would be sweet and simple!  The irony here is that I'm not an ice cream person at all.  I rarely eat it.  But I had to try the frozen banana technique.  I'm so glad I did because this was such a delightful treat...creamy, not too sweet, and healthy.  You can omit the hemp seeds if you don't have any.  It's just that my new obsession is to put hemp seeds in and on everything. :)

Enjoy!  And let the VeganMoFo games begin!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (courtesy of Instagram!)

I'm an avid Instagram user.  I can't lie.  I use it solely to share vegan food photos.  It's so much fun connecting with like-minded food-obsessed people. How else would I be able to see the delicious meal that someone in Singapore had for breakfast?  :)  The other wonderful aspects of Instagram are the instantaneous recipe sharing and continuous encouragement to create artfully delicious meals.  One of the recipes that I had to try was for these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from Instagram user @yvonne_deliciously_vegan. They're made with garbanzo bean flour, coconut palm sugar, and coconut oil (I added walnuts). The recipe is simple and quick, but the outcome is amazing.

(I have to add mint leaves to everything for aesthetics)

Although I don't avoid gluten, I've tried my hand at gluten-free baking with mixed results.  What's great about this recipe is that there's no need to combine multiple flours together and no need to add xanthan gum, which are common in many gluten-free baking recipes.  I guess you could use a store-bought gluten-free all-purpose flour mix and call it a day, but the garbanzo bean flour works wonderfully here.  The cookies are moist, and unlike some of my previous gluten-free baking fiascoes, they aren't crumbly or gummy!  

The recipe is posted on Yvonne's lovely blog My Eclectic Kitchen, along with many other fabulous gluten-free and vegan recipes.  She also has a chai chocolate chip cookie recipe that I'll be trying soon.  Insta-yum!  :)