Lately..

Hello again blog world! I’m writing this from my iPhone which I hate typing on so imma keep this short. Though I haven’t been posting much lately, rest assured I’m cooking up lots of good food! I recently began creating brunch and dinner specials for the restaurant I work at and am really loving it. Im feeling like everything is falling into place for me, and it’s awesome. Unfortunately I’m not able to make only vegan dishes but I make sure I sneak vegan stuff into everything I make, and to always give vegan alternatives!
Anyway, here are some photos of yummy goodness I’ve been munching lately!

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MEALS, LATELY

 

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This last one is VERY exciting. amirite?

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CARROT PULP BURGERS WITH A SECRET INGREDIENT

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Sarah, who blogs at My New Roots posted this recipe awhile back for a bread made with psyllium husk.  Which I saw about a million times on Pinterest.  She titled it ‘The life-changing loaf of bread”, so after checking it out I tried a rough version of her recipe.  The bread was totally gluten-free and made without flour, and super dense.  I’m not a huge fan of psyllium but I was intrigued by her use of it as a binder.  So I made the bread and it was everything she promised it to be, life-changing.  Well, kinda.  While it was super delicious and nutty, it was so rich and tasty I couldn’t stop eating it.  Fresh baked bread from the oven with a pat of coconut oil?  Yum.  I decided though that I probably wouldn’t make it again just because it didn’t last long in our 2 person house.  However, the idea of using psyllium as a binder stuck in my head and I’ve gone through a few different variations of her bread in my notebook using zucchini or carrot to lighten it up a bit.  Though I never made any of them.  Till now.  And it’s not bread.  I decided to try her binder method for a veggie burger patty made with carrot pulp.

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But here’s the lame part.  I have my recipe, and I tried it- look, pictures.  Before baking, John and I were crazy hungry so we decided we should just fry up a couple of the patties and have a quick burger before we bake them and freeze.  Well, while they were tasty, they needed something more in there, they were just too soft.  Don’t worry though, we ate them.

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I figured they would firm up after a quick bake and I could review them again at that point.  No such luck.  I forgot about them in the oven and they are now very, very firm.  Rock hard.  Anyways, Ill try this recipe again sometime when I am smart enough to use an alarm. But, if you approach this method with the psyllium, let me know how it went!

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SPICED DATE CASHEW MILK

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For about a couple of months now ive stopped drinking coffee.  Which kills me because I adore coffee and am somewhat of a coffee snob.  However, being prone to anxiety and  lacking sleep I decided it probably would be a good idea to give the stuff up.  What else kills me, if I want an almond milk latte I would have to ask for decaf!  Since I fell in love with coffee I’ve talked so much shit on decaf, and now im forced to drink it?  No, I refuse order decaf in public.  So I’ve been drinking LOTS of tea lately and if I’m out, an almond milk chai hits the spot.  If your ever visiting Santa Barbara, Handlebar coffee makes the best one in town!

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Anyways, this drink isn’t a chai, but it is reminiscent of a good spicy chai.  The ginger and spices are warming and the cashews so creamy, which makes it a lovely drink on a rainy or cold day. This drink would be equally delicious blended up and then warmed on the stove, but I served mine at room temperature just a little warm from the blender.

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for the milk

  • 1/2 c. cashews, soaked 2 hours
  • 4 medjool dates or 7 deglet noor dates
  • 1/2 ounce ginger juice
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t.  vanilla extract

to garnish

  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne

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The cracked pepper and cayenne really make the drink.  I wasnt initially planning on the garnishes but last minute I decided to switch from a dusting of cinnamon to something bolder.  It was a good call, after first sip John and I were hooked.

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If you make homemade almond or cashew milk regularly, this would be a good option if you were looking to mix things up.  I bet if you blended the cayenne into the milk, it would be awesome over a chocolate-y (vegan) cereal!

Do you make homemade nut milk?  Whats your favorite variation?

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RAW RASPBERRY-HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE TART

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Is that title long enough?  I made this tart for my Dads birthday and it was a major hit.  Unfortunately I was working like a mad woman to get this tart finished.  So between doubles at my job and shopping/making the tart, I did not write down the ingredients and amounts I used.

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I will be making this again and will definitely get a recipe up here for you!  It was pretty incredible, not gonna lie.  The crust was a chocolate hazelnut, which tasted like nutella!  The filling was a light chocolate mousse and I topped it all off with a bunch of raspberries and chocolate ganache.

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These photos are pretty weak, but it was my family with John’s family and I didn’t want to break out the big camera to take photos, so I just snapped a few pictures with my iPhone.  I still think they are drool worthy.

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JUICY WATERMELON AND VEGAN-FETA SALAD

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I wasnt sure what to expect from this salad.  A long time ago I created a recipe for tofu feta, which I posted here.  So with that around, I figured I would give this watermelon salad a go.  I had no idea what to expect but I’ve been seeing feta and watermelon salads plastered all over the internet, so finally I went for it.

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serves 2

for the salad

  • 3 small cucumbers, sliced
  • 1/2 watermelon, large dice
  • 1/4 c. red onion, sliced in half rings
  • 3 spears hearts of palm, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
  • pinch of salt

topping

  • 1/2 c. tofu feta

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Toss all salad ingredients in a bowl with olive oil and lime until throughly mixed.  Transfer to plates and top with the tofu feta.

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This salad was seriously delicious, so much that both John and I were speechless while eating.  It was sweet (but not too sweet) and savory, with a whole lotta freshness and crunch!  The flavors melded together perfectly and neither of us were expecting this dish to be THAT good.

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I have no idea what the actual feta and watermelon salads taste like, but vegans- don’t feel left out.  While I’ve never had the real thing (nor do I plan to) I’m just gonna go ahead and say this version is better.  Better for your health, the environment, and for the animals.  Oh yeah, and your taste buds!  That too!  If your thinking fruity salads aren’t your thing, just try this.  I despise fruit in salad but this made me a believer.  I can’t wait to make it again.

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TANGY TOFU FETA

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I dont remember liking feta that much as a child; a little too salty, a little too tangy.  But a few years ago when I set out to make a vegan tofu-feta my mind was changed.  This stuff is addicting, and good luck not shoveling it in your mouth as soon as its prepared.  Thats what I do, no shame.

If you eat dairy, you should try this recipe just because.  You might find that you enjoy it more than the real deal (a stretch?  Im going there).  This recipe is so good you will always want it around.  Not to mention it’s quick and once you have all the ingredients they will last you for quite a few batches!

For the tofu

  • one block extra firm tofu, pressed

If you don’t have a tofu press (I don’t) you can use the book/anything heavy method.  You sandwich your block of tofu between two plates, using a smaller plate on the top and a larger plate with a lip on the bottom.

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You will get a lot of liquid out of the tofu so the a plate with a lip is a good to ensure it doesn’t overflow or spill when you walk with it.  Then, stack books or anything heavy on top of the small plate and leave for at least a half hour.  The longer you leave it the more liquid that will come out.  I left mine for a half hour but should’ve left it longer or piled more stuff on top.  There was still a little too much water in it.  If you want, you can by already pressed tofu at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  I like Wildwood’s tofu best!

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An ingredient your going to want to find for this recipe is the ume plum vinegar.  Touted for its many medicinal qualities in Japan, umeboshi (the pickled plums) can be pretty expensive.  At whole foods its nearly 20 dollars for a small box of them.  You can definitely find them at asian markets but many of those varieties have MSG or sugar added.  If you do find some affordable ume plums, get them!  They are great with a little rice or mixed into sauces.

This is from Wikipedia

This Japanese style traditional pickle is considered good for digestion, prevention of nausea, and for systemic toxicity, including hangovers. Green ume extract is even used as a tonic in Japan. The citric acid is claimed to act as an antibacterial, help to increase saliva production and assist in the digestion of rice. Additionally, umeboshi is claimed to combat fatigue (historically given as part of a samurai’s field ration) and protect against aging.

While the plums might be expensive, the vinegar is not.  I think I paid 3 or 4 bucks.  Its the tastiest vinegar ever.  Tart and salty, which I love because then I dont have to add extra salt.  It’s the liquid from the fermentation process so I like to imagine theres something good there for you as well.  If you see it, pick it up.  You’ll want to put it on everything, and it’s what makes this tofu feta delicious.

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For the marinade

  • 1 T. ume plum vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 t. chili flake (optional)
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 t. trader joes 21 seasoning solute

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In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade. After your tofu has been pressed, use your fingers to crumble it into a bowl.  If you prefer, you can just cut it into small cubes, but I like crumbles.  Next, pour the marinade over the tofu and stir until all of the tofu is covered.  Transfer to a tupperware or jar to keep.

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CARROT PULP BOWL WITH FRIED LEEKS

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Ever since we got our juicer going again, I’ve been throwing carrot juice pulp in everything.  I used it in carrot cake and veggie burgers.  Most of the time though, if I want something quick I’ll grab some carrot pulp and saute it with greens, beans or some other vegetables.

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Lately though, I’ve been really feeling leeks, as seen here.  They’re just so goddamn tasty!  They add so much flavor like onion or garlic, but their taste a lot more mellow.  Almost buttery when cooked.  Or maybe that’s because I cook mine in coconut oil :)..

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Anyways, there’s no need for a recipe for this one.  I fried the tofu until browned on each side, and set it aside while I chopped my leeks.  I then dusted them in corn starch and fried them up as well!  Corn starch, though it might not be the healthiest of foods, does wonders for making stuff crispy.  I wanted crispy leeks, and I’m glad I went for it.  Though they look burnt in the pictures, they tasted magical.  The carrot pulp was simply sautéed with crimini mushrooms in some Braggs and coconut oil, with cumin seed.  I love cumin seed.

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All together this was a super satisfying dish, filling but light.  This would be equally tasty wrapped up in a tortilla as a taco or burrito.

Bye for now!

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RAW STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

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I wish I was one of those people who did not care about Valentines Day, because deep down in my heart I know it’s a stupid holiday, just a ploy to get consumers to buy more crap and really, who needs a holiday to express their love for someone special.  Well, you’re looking at her.  At her… words… webpage?  Ehh….

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Ok, that’s better.  Yer looking’ at ‘er!  Note: you cannot tell but we had drinks in our hands so that’s why this photo turned out blurry…

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Anyways, I love all holidays and I love John (my boyfriend who will eventually make an appearance with some food stuff of his own) and any opportunity I get to celebrate anything I am going to take!  There will be bells and whistles.  There will be booze.  There will be something delicious to munch.  Sometimes friends are involved but not always so it’s extra special when they are.

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So Valentine’s day is coming, and it’s looking like I’ll have to work that night, which is good ($$) but also bums me out a bit.  In an attempt to still manage to celebrate this holiday that I love so dearly I made this raw strawberry cheesecake that we will hopefully have after a delicious dinner.

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Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

makes one 5″ springform pan

For the ‘jam’

  • 5 strawberries, left in the sun for two days (were having a very hot winter in Santa Barbara).  This is a pretty dumb way to dehydrate fruit because it takes so long, so if you choose to use your brain (unlike myself) you can dehydrate them in a dehydrator if you have one, or for a half hour in the oven.  You just want them to get wrinkly.

To make the jam just blend the dehydrated strawberries up in your blender, if there are chunks that’s ok.  Set this aside.

For the crust:

  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 3 dates (pitted)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Throw these ingredients in your food processor and leave it on until it resembles a Larabar.   Take the chunks and smoosh them into the bottom of your pan to form the crust.  When I did this my mixture was pretty oily (damn walnuts) so I put it in the freezer until my filling was ready.

For the filling

  • 4 dates, pitted
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. soaked cashews
  • 1 T. coconut oil

Blend everything up in your blender until smooth.  My mix was a little thick so I added a shot of hot water to facilitate blending.  Hot water always works best if your ingredients are sticking.

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At this point you want to pull your crust out of the freezer and cut a few fresh strawberries in slices and line them around the sides of your pan.  Pour in your filling until a little less than halfway and put it back in the freezer until it sets.  Once you can tell that the filling has set or if its only slightly tacky and not goopy you can spread your jam-carefully- over it.  Pour the rest of the filling up to the edge of the pan and cover with a sheet of parchment paper.  I left mine in the freezer for about 2 hours and then refrigerated it over night.  Before serving, take a knife to make sure none of the filling sticks to the edges of the pan and then loosen the sides of the springform.

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to finish

  • 3-4 strawberries, chopped with some lemon juice and a touch of agave
  • cashew frosting (recipe found here)

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Before serving, I piled my strawberries on top of my cheesecake and then using a pastry bag, made little stars around the edges.  The result was lovely!  I only wish I hadn’t left my cheesecake in the fridge for so long so my strawberries on the sides would have kept their color a little better!  Oh well, I guess I’ve learned my lesson for next time.

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What are your valentine’s day plans?  What are you cooking!?

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