Saturday, September 18, 2010

Green Bean-Tofu Stir Fry w/ Rice Noodles

I was inspired to cook tofu again! I had a few ingredients I needed to use up in my kitchen and I wanted something simple and tasty that I could make from them all. I found half of a chopped onion, half a bag of frozen green beans, a block of extra-firm tofu and a large bag of rice noodles. A little chopping, sauteing and mixing along with a few spices and sauces and voila! I created this wonderful meal:

Green Bean-Tofu Stir fry with Rice Noodles

It was mighty tasty if I do say so myself! I gobbled it all up.

I must say that I'm really enjoying cooking with tofu. It used to intimidate and scare me but the more I attempt to incorporate it, the more I find it super simple and so versatile! I love that it can complement just about anything you mix it with because it absorbs the flavors of the foods around it. Yum!

What are some of your favorite ways to cook tofu?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Banana Everything Cookies

Another favorite from Isa and Terry's Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

Banana Everything Cookies

I love oatmeal and chocolate. I love them even more together. It's just one of those combinations that when you put together the result is just an absolute good. Now throw in a little mushy banana and you've got yourself a real treat!

These were very tasty and really helped get me into the mood for fall. Seriously I can't believe it's almost here!!! I'm SO ready for apple picking, pumpkins, bon fires, hoodies, hayrides, crunchy leaves and Halloween! YAY!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Pepperoni" Pizza Scones with Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce

So I finally got around to making the vegan pizza scones that I mentioned a few weeks ago. And boy let me tell you: these did NOT disappoint. The final recipe is truly a hodge-podge of various scone recipes adapted and bastardized into this lovely form:

I have never baked my own scones before and I have to say that they are a lot easier than I had anticipated. I will admit that time is a factor when making these but the rewards are completely worth it. Yum!

~ ~ ~

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Scones with Spicy Tomato dipping sauce:
Yields 8 large slices

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup chilled nondairy butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups shredded nondairy cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegan pepperoni, diced
3/4 cup Vegan Buttermilk + 1/4 cup (recipe below)
Vegan Egg-wash (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Gradually add the cold butter and mix until the texture starts to feel crumbly.

Add the pepperoni, onions and 3/4 cup of buttermilk. Mix the dough by hand while adding a as much of the extra buttermilk as needed 1 tablespoon at a time or until the dough is pliable. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will become light and tender when you bake it.

Place the dough onto a floured surface and pat into a ball. Roll the dough into an 8 inch circle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into 8 sections.

Place the slices onto on ungreased baking sheet and lightly brush the tops of each with the egg wash mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges become brown and the center is no longer wet. Remove from the oven and let the scones cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Serve immediately with Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce.

Vegan Buttermilk

1 tbs lemon juice
1 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)

In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients. It should curdle just slightly. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes before using.

Vegan Egg-wash

1/2 tsp cornstarch

In a small microwaveable bowl, mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water until it thickens. Add 1/2 cup water and whisk briefly.

Place bowl in the microwave for roughly 1 minute.

Spicy Tomato Dipping Sauce

15 oz Organic Tomato Sauce (or 1 can)
1 tbsp Basil Olive Oil (regular olive oil works too, but I *heart* the flavor of Basil Olive Oil)
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vegan pepperoni, diced

In a small saucepan, briefly heat the tomato sauce and olive oil while gradually incorporating the spices.

Add the pepperoni just before you remove the sauce from the heat.

Serve immediately.

~ ~ ~

I just love how scones are so totally portable! They are a grab and go lunch and the possibilities for both savory and sweet scones are boundless. I will definitely be trying my hand at some other variations in the near future. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tofu Spring Rolls

Tofu Spring Rolls

I love spring rolls! They are such a light but filling treat. The idea for spring rolls had manifested in my mind weeks ago. And the other night, I was sitting at home doing homework when I was suddenly overcome by the sudden urge to cook. (SHOCKER!) Knowing that I had ample supplies with which to work from (I had just gone shopping), I immediately set up my workspace in the kitchen to whip up a few of these babies.

My workspace included: A large, shallow bowl for dipping the rice paper rolls into, a pot of water for the rice noodles, and a pan for sauteing the tofu block that I had already pressed. The rice noodles take only minutes to prepare. They only cook for about 6 minutes in the boiling water and then you can just drain the water out and set them aside until you're ready to use them. Next up: the tofu: Into the pan went a marinade mixture of soy sauce, toasted sesame seed oil, a pinch of ground ginger and a splash of EVOO. The tofu, which I had already sliced into long, thin strips, was next in the pot. A few minutes on each side and then into a dish with a paper towel to drain off the excess liquid.

As for the rice paper rolls, all you need to do is make sure you have a dish that is large enough to hold whatever size your wrappers are. I happened to use a glass pie dish with about a 1/4 inch of water. The sheets of rice paper only need to sit in the water for about 45 seconds to a minute. Careful though: If they sit too long they will become mush! After you soak the wrapper, you should remove it from the water and lay it onto a flat surface. Now you're ready to add the stuffing and roll it up.

The insides of a spring roll are entirely up to the chef making them and also whatever happens to be at his or her disposal. In my case, I happened to have a bag of shredded broccoli, red cabbage and carrots, as well as a small head of lettuce. Into the spring roll it went with a few strips of the marinated tofu, a small handful of the rice noodles and a few pieces of lettuce. I rolled it all up and that was it! SUPER simple!

As for a dipping sauce, I simply seasoned some Hoisin sauce with some chili oil until it was just spicy enough and I was good to go. Seriously it was THAT easy.

Alright folks, that's all I have for you for now. Stay tuned...more vegan goodies to come!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Walnut Chocolate Fudge

Today I made fudge! I have never made my own fudge but I had the sudden urge to try it today and I am quite pleased with the results:

Yum! It was SO easy! In fact the hardest part was probably being patient since the cooling time takes a couple of hours. Other than that, it's a snap!

~ ~ ~


Yields 2 to 3 dozen fudge squares

12 oz nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons of non-dairy butter plus 1/2 tbsp for greasing the pan
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 non-dairy milk
1 cup chopped walnuts or any other nut that you prefer

Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nondairy butter.

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a double boiler. (If you do not have a double boiler, you can easily create your own by placing a small saucepan inside a larger pot that's filled with a small amount of water.)

Heat the mixture on medium heat. Stir constantly so that you do not to burn the chocolate. Keep heating until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the nuts and briefly stir once more.

Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly for several hours in the refrigerator.

After thoroughly chilled, remove the pan from the fridge, cut the fudge into small squares and enjoy with friends!

~ ~ ~

This recipe was very simple. It definitely made me think about other fudge variations that I could try. Perhaps something with coconut or peanut butter? Hmm... What are some of your favorite fudge flavors?

Aloo Do Piaza & a Mango Shango

My oldest sister and her family came down from Michigan to stay with us this past weekend. On their last night here, we decided to go out to a local Indian restaurant called Spice Xing. I don't have much experience with Indian cuisine, but I've been there once before and really enjoyed their food. Some of their foods are a little bit spicy for me but the few things I've tried have been absolutely delicious. I love that their menu even has vegan items marked with a "v" right next to the prices. It's wonderful to know that I can order so many things without having to "special request" anything. All you other vegans out there know what I'm referring to. ;)

To start with, I ordered this fruit beverage called the Mango Shango:

It was AMAZING! I didn't get the full breakdown of everything they put in this, but I do know it had mango juice, pineapple juice and a few other fruit juices along with a swirl of raspberry coulis. It was so refreshing and the little cherry on top was a more than welcome garnish! It should be no surprise that this definitely came in handy when I received my spicy entree:

Aloo Do Piaza

The menu describes it as "cumin tempered potatoes with scallions and bermuda onions." I am a big fan of potatoes and an even bigger advocate for onions. This meal was a perfect blend of both. I would certainly order it again!

As I mentioned before, I haven't had much in way of Indian cuisine but based on my few experiences, I would certainly be open to trying other things. What are some of your favorite dishes? What would you recommend?

Alright folks! That's it for now. I must return to my stack of homework. Ugh! On a good note though: I'm currently in the process of cooling some fudge that I made this morning. Pictures and post to come so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Broccolini with Spicy Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce

Today I went to my first graduate school class for this 2-year education program that I'm doing. (Woo Hoo!) Today's class was an all day seminar where we discussed (at great length) the classes, requirements, schedules, projects, etc of the program and also got to meet the rest of our 17 person cohort. It was a long day for sure.

After class, I finally made it home around 4:15. Exhausted and worn out after such an intense class, I found myself with a sudden hankering for a filling and tasty snack that would be easy to whip up quickly. I grasped the handle to my fridge, looked around inside briefly and stopped when I spotted the Broccolini on the shelf that I had been meaning to cook since Saturday. I decided steaming it would be an easy cooking option and then I could just cover it with a tasty sauce. I immediately thought of the Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce recipe and ran to get my very worn out copy of Lauren Ulm's Vegan YumYum. That stuff is liquid YumYum! =) You can click here to get to the recipe for this sauce from Lauren's blog.

Broccolini with Spicy Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce

This recipe is very simple to throw together in a mini food processor and it tastes great on just about anything. Mine is a little bit more orange than Lauren's because I added a heaping scoop of red chili sauce to the mix to lend some spiciness to the dish. Steaming the broccolini required minimal additional effort so it was the perfect duo for a super speedy and healthy snack. It goes without saying that this snack really hit the spot! Alright kids, that's all I have for now. Off to do homework. Wish me luck!

What's your favorite vegan snack to whip up in a hurry?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Almond and Peanut Butter Truffles

My mom's birthday was this weekend and I wanted to make an extra special treat for her. My brother had already baked a 2 layer red velvet cake with fondant icing so I needed to come up with something else that would delight her just as much. Behold tantalizing Almond and Peanut Butter Truffles!

Flavors include: Peanut Butter with Cocoa Powder, Peanut Butter with Toasted Sesame Seeds, Almond Butter with Cocoa Powder, and Almond Butter with Unsweetened Coconut and Almond Meal

These were super easy to make and definitely tasty! Looking at the picture, they kind of look like mini doughnuts. Despite my love for good ol' chocolate, surprisingly my top favorites were the coconut and toasted sesame seed ones. Deee-lish! Def try these if you can. You won't be sorry!

Truffle Recipe:

1 cup of nut butter
1 tablespoon Soy Protein Powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Different ingredients to coat the truffles in

In a medium-size bowl, mix together the nut butter and the soy protein powder. I actually used my hands for this bit to get it really well blended. Add in the sugar and continue mixing thoroughly.

Roll the mixture into 3/4 inch balls and place on a piece of parchment paper and set aside for rolling.

Roll the truffles in any assortment of coatings. Some suggestions include: toasted sesame seeds, unsweetened coconut, almond meal, or cocoa powder. Since I made both almond and peanut butter truffles, I also added either an almond or peanut to the top of the truffles respectively so that tasters could easily distinguish which flavored treat they were about to enjoy.

If you aren't going to serve these immediately, I suggest putting them in the fridge to firm up for a bit. If you absolutely can't wait though, go ahead and dig right in! I won't tell. =)

~ ~ ~

Before I go, I will leave you with this photo from my mom's birthday dinner:

These are the rather awful fortune cookies my family received after we finished dinner at a local Chinese food restaurant. My dad got the "You look pretty" one & my mom got the "if your desires are not extravagant..."
Um, all I have to say is EPIC fail and Happy Birthday Mom! =)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In which I learn to cook tofu

So I had fun in the kitchen again...Yay! Summer is nearly over and I'm about to embark on an intense 5 semester-long graduate/internship program along with working part time in a 1st grade classroom. I worry that this program will completely consume my life so I'm scrambling around trying to cook as many of the "Big Deal things that I've dog-eared in my cookbooks" as I can while I still have a bit of free time to work with. When I say Big Deal, I'm referring to recipes that might take a bit longer in time to make but I know that I want to try my hand at. Since I have the time to tackle some of these now, I figured I should have a go because I may not have as much free time in the coming months.

This week I decided I wanted to find a recipe for cooking tofu. Having been a vegan for just about 3 years and a vegetarian for almost 8 before that, it is almost unbelievable that I have never cooked my own tofu! Don't get me wrong, I do like tofu, but I just never took it upon myself to actually cook it for myself. I would order tofu from restaurants or settle for putting them in baking recipes and ricotta recipes. I figured it was high time to attempt a recipe where the tofu truly shines. I found just that when I consulted Lauren Ulm's Sweet & Sour Almond Broccoli Tofu with Wild Rice in her Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.

Broccoli Almond Sweet-&-Sour Tofu with Wild Rice

Boy! She wasn't kidding about the Yum Yum part. This dish was amazing! Since I had never fried my own tofu, I was careful and went about the whole cooking process very slowly. I was in the kitchen for well over an hour and a half before I could sit down and enjoy this. No regrets though because it was well worth the wait.

For the rice I used Lundberg's Wild Rice Blend. This stuff is great because it has such a nutty and rich flavor. Not to mention that it makes the house smell wonderful as it cooks! Seriously, if you haven't tried this stuff, leave your house right now and go buy some. You won't regret it.

I must say that cooking tofu was really easy and I can't believe I haven't done more of it over the years. I simply can't wait to try other tofu recipes of my own!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fruit at the Beach

I'm pretty much in love with this video right about now.

Chocolate Dreams Smoothie & the Fair

Last night, I got home from my last day of my summer job and immediately headed into the kitchen to whip up a cool and refreshing treat. My dad and youngest brother were coming over to pick up my sister and I to go to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. We've been going pretty much every year for as long as I can remember. So without a whole lot of time and knowing that Fair food is not really something that I can count on to have a lot of vegan option, I wanted to make something quick and satisfying. Behold the Chocolate Dreams Banana Date Smoothie that I concocted:

Chocolate Dreams Banana Date Smoothie

This was truly divine! With a good dash of protein and a bit of fruit and maple syrup for sweetness, this is definitely a treat I'll be returning to again and again.


* 1 ripe banana, frozen
* 3 dates, chopped
* 2 tablespoons of chocolate peanut butter
(I used Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter)
* 2 cups of almond milk
* 1 tablespoon of molasses
* 1 dash of cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
* 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
* chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

1) Place chopped dates and bananas into a blender and blend until creamy.
2) Add the peanut butter, molasses, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla. Continue blending until thick.
3) Add the almond milk and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
4) Garnish with a bit of chocolate shavings.

Enjoy! I know I sure did!

* * * * *
At the County Fair we saw a good deal of farm animals. Below are some of my favorites:

Did you ever notice that when Alpacas eat, they almost look like they might be talking...

What a handsome rooster this guy was

I really wanted to take him home!

These two looked like friends posing together.
I think they were.

Oh hello there!

Truthfully, I'm torn by the idea of the fair. Of course I love the chance to see the animals, but it's also heart wrenching to know that the majority of these animals are destined for slaughterhouses. Not to mention the stress that this environment must be for them. I'm sure many of the animals are treated wonderfully but at the same time strings still tug at my heart when I see their big brown eyes looking up at me from confined crates and pens. Alright, I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Of course we waited in the 45 minute line to ride the Ferris Wheel like we do every year. Tradition is worth the wait and I was clearly in good company though so I didn't mind. =)

Oh and in case you were wondering, I was able to find vegan food at the fair! There was a tent selling Spanish foods and among their menu was mango on a stick (or slices in a plastic sealed bag if you preferred). Although I opted for the mango in a bag option (less mess) I must tell you that I found this little gem absolutely fascinating. It should be renamed the mango rose. I only wish I had snapped a picture but it was late in the night and pretty dark already. Do a google image search if you're curious. It was just the right choice for a healthy pick-me up snack!

I think fruit should be sold on a stick more often. I think I'll look into that...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to my roots...recreating the Ecuadorian Empanada

Empanada: it is a Spanish pastry filled with all sorts of delicious fillings that are either baked or deep fried to perfection. Empanadas are made in many countries and each country has their own special fillings, doughs, etc... Most commonly enjoyed with a sprinkling of sugar on top or a special dipping sauce, they are simply divine. I have recently been on a quest to recreate my family's non-vegan Ecuadorian empanadas and can quite happily say that I have finally succeeded! My family has only ever made meat and cheese stuffed ones, (though I hear people get a lot more creative with fillings these days) and I figured that it's high time, I try veganizing the family recipe so that I too can enjoy their deliciousness once again!

I still remember many long Saturdays of my youth spent in the kitchen slaving away with my family. When your living in a house with 4 other siblings, in which everything needs to be categorized in a "fair-share" manner, the only solution for preventing petty arguments over the empanadas is to make sure you cook more than enough! Indeed we did. It was often a whole day affair but worth every minute of our time. You'd think with all of the extra hands in the kitchen it would be a quick task, but for us, making empanadas was a labor of love that required supervision at every step of the way. Someone to help cook the fillings, someone to help mix the dough, someone to roll out and press the dough in the tortilla maker, someone to fill each pastry, someone to seal each one (in the special way that only my mother and grandmother could do), and then of course someone to cook the empanadas. It goes without saying that there were always enough hands and mouths to help eat, no wait, devour the empanadas once they were finally cooled. Yum!

In our various family adventures in making empanadas we have baked and deep fried them. Both are delicious cooking methods, though not surprisingly the latter offers an unrivaled crispy crust flavor with the drawbacks of higher calories. Once in a while though, everyone deserves a deep fried treat. ;) Today, I decided to stick to baking for the sheer fact that I think it is a heck of a lot easier to simply put a large tray in the oven rather than to heat oil and dip the pies into it only a few at a time.

As for the fillings, I decided to go with two very different flavors. The first being a vegan recreation of the traditional beef filling that included a medley of vegetables and beans with some veggie crumbles. (Um, so can I just let you know that I definitely spent a few minutes just eating this stuffing right out of the bowl after I cooked it. Yes it was THAT good. Want to know another secret? Apparently, so did my omnivore sister! If that's not proof to the deliciousness of this filling, then I don't know what is! Haha.) The second filling I created was a vegan spinach, onion and ricotta mixture. Also very tasty!

Here's a shot of my prep station including: the dough, beef filling, spinach & ricotta filling, and the tortilla press. Now feast your eyes on the finished products:

Vegan Beef Empanadas

Vegan Spinach, Onion & Ricotta Empanadas

All in all, today was definitely a success! I'm happy to say that these tasty treats were enjoyed by vegans and omnivores alike! Definite win! I will certainly revisit the vegan empanada as there are a whole host of other fillings I'd like to try out. Perhaps a fruit flavored filling or maybe even something with chocolate?! I'll keep you posted... =)

Cookies & Cornbread!

Here's a few photos of some things I've made recently. I'm also in the middle of whipping up a couple of kinds of empanadas. Literally, they are in the oven at this very moment! I'm pretty stoked! Stay tuned for those! Yum! For now, please enjoy photos of the following:

Cornbread Muffins
(Courtesy of Bob's Red Mill Cornbread Mix-I know, I know...I only used a mix because I was feeling EXTRA lazy that day but was totally craving cornbread...)

Rocky Road Cookies
(Recipe from VCIYCJ- Terry and Isa, these are pure genius!)

Espresso Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
(Another recipe from VCIYCJ- Oh Isa and Terry, what would I do without your amazing cookbooks!!! Haha!)

Be back soon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This is NOT what I was going to cook today...

In fact, I left work this afternoon with every intention of coming home and creating a recipe for pizza scones! On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up pizza sauce and flour but somehow got a little bit sidetracked when I saw plantains for sale. I do like plantains but I have not eaten them in almost 2 years. This is likely due to the fact that 2 years ago when I was in Nigeria with a friend, many of my vegan food options were limited with the exception of this lovely fruit. Oh the joys of vegan dining in other countries!!! Haha. Truthfully, the trip was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed various vegetable dishes while I was there. But plantains were among the things that were ALWAYS available to me throughout the trip. Needless to say, after a few weeks of eating them at least once a day, they kind of lost their charm. Perhaps that is why it has been so long since I've wanted them. Well, until today that is... So home I went to whip up my own batch!

Fried Plantains:
(serves 2-3)

1 Plantain
Vegetable Oil
Salt or Sugar to season with (whichever you're in the mood for--salty or sweet)

Heat a skillet on medium heat and add the vegetable oil. The oil should be about 1/4 inch deep. While the oil warms, chop the plantain into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick. Add these to the oil. Be careful for any potential oil splattering as you do this! Fry the plantains for about a minute on each side. Using the back of a spatula, press down gently onto each plantain slice. Remove from the oil promptly thereafter and transfer to a plate that is covered with a paper towel. The towel should soak up excess oil as they cool. Season the plantains with either a dash of salt or sugar and then let them cool completely before enjoying.

* * * * *

What better accompaniment to fried plantains than black beans with spinach and a side of rice?! It was a simple thing to throw together and I tried to incorporate a rainbow of colors. What do you think?

Black Beans with Spinach, Avocado, Rice, & Fried Plantains

Black Beans:

1/2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Small Yellow Onion Diced
1/2 Cup of Corn
1 Can of Black Beans
1/4 Cup of Juliened Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Pinch of Italian Seasoning
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves (A couple of handfuls)

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they become slightly browned. Add the corn and sun-dried tomatoes and mix evenly. Stir in the black beans. Add the Italian Seasoning and Red Pepper flakes. When beans are almost done, add the spinach leaves and stir for a few minutes. The idea is not to really wilt the spinach but rather to heat it just slightly as you mix it into the beans. This way it will still keep it's color and still taste extra yummy!

* * * * *

Needless to say, after a meal like this, I was completely stuffed!!! And while I didn't make the pizza scones just yet, have no fear! They are still in my mind and therefore still to come! ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family Style Dinner & A Banana Dessert!

Yesterday afternoon, my family (which included my parents, 2 younger brothers and 1 older sister) and I, along with my aunt, uncle and their 3 sons got together to go to lunch at an Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo. It's an Italian family-style restaurant that offers anything from your typical sit-down atmosphere. Bizarre (but definitely intriguing) imagery adorns the walls of not only the dining area but also the bathrooms! Red checkered table cloths clash incredulously against the various chotskis and Christmas lights composing the rooms. And here, when they say family-style dining, they mean FAMILY-style. The portion sizes are MAMMOTH. Good thing their food is pretty amazing! Below is a photo of the very tasty selections I was able to order with only minor accommodations needed:
From left to right, you can see a bit of the side salad, a slice of bruschetta (sans the Parmesan cheese) and a heaping pile of spaghetti with marinara sauce. A very classic meal but incredibly delightful nonetheless. The excited expression on my face pretty much sums up my experience at this wonderful restaurant. =)

* * * * *

After lunch, we all piled back into our vehicles and headed over to my house where I played host and baked a tasty evening treat. Behold the...
Banana Walnut Coffee Cake!

What began as a simple vegan coffee cake, transformed into a heavenly banana dessert when I realized the very ripe banana sitting on the counter practically begging to be used. After a quick mashing, into the batter it went! And what banana dessert couldn't use some chopped walnuts in the batter? Certainly not this one! A quick chop with the food processor and the walnuts were also ready for action!

After a brief wait in the oven and then a bit more on the counter, the dessert was finally ready to go. I sliced it up, served it on little plates and then we dug right in. Boy oh boy was it good! The texture of the bananas, the handful of crunchy walnuts baked inside the soft cake along with the crumbly topping was a perfect combination of flavors. Deee-lish! Not surprisingly, this cake was gobbled up in record time.

Alright, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Obligatory First post: Here it goes...

For starters, I won't bore you with a lengthy discussion about why I created this blog because there's a very good chance you already know why: I like cooking vegan food and wanted to share my culinary adventures with wonderful people like YOU! I boil, steam, chop, bake and yes, sometimes burn (ack!), all kinds of fancy and sometimes not-so-fancy vegan treats! Regardless of the outcome, I enjoy every minute of it. Well...except for the cleaning up aspect...blah! That I could do without!

How's that? Succinct enough? Good. On to the food then...

* * * * *

Up first, photos of 3 tasty things that I've baked lately:

1) Check out these YumBerry Cupcakes! Freshly picked blueberries and strawberries as well as a handful of frozen raspberries make this a refreshing summer treat. The light swirl of frosting on top is a homemade citrusy blend of flavors enhanced by a splash of dark rum. Definite Yum!

2) Just in time for summer and the Fourth of July:
Vegan Hamburger Cupcakes! These little babies were a labor of love, but in the end, truly worth all of the effort. And bonus: no animals were harmed in the process. ;)

3) Last but certainly not least: Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, & Chocolate Chip Cookies! A single cookie with so many irresistible flavors all rolled into one! Can life get any better?! I submit that it cannot!

* * * * *

First Watch Daytime Cafe
Restaurant Review (sort of...)

So a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to try this restaurant in the local Town Center by my house. I had heard good things about First Watch Daytime Cafe from friends but had not yet had a chance to visit it myself. We rolled out of bed around 11:30am on a lazy Sunday morning, decided we were in the mood for a late breakfast/brunch and so off we went!

Boy oh boy! Let me tell you: it did not disappoint! I'm always a little bit leery of breakfast restaurants where the potential for a lousy fruit cup or dry toast is about all I can order. Not here! At First Watch, I was treated to a fabulous sandwich wrap called the:

Not Guilty Your Honor ©

An explosive combination of flavors and textures made this meal both tasty and satisfying. The Not Guilty Your Honor © comes on a wheat tortilla filled with cucumber, spinach leaves, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, tomato slices and feta cheese. It's served with all of the following sides: hummus, potatoes, a small signature salad and a cup of mixed fruit.

I am pleased to note that the staff was very accommodating to my dietary needs and a quick swap of avocado instead of the feta cheese as well as the omission of the red peppers (I don't like them) yielded a wonderfully tasty meal! In fact, it was YUM*TASTIC! (Oh, c'mon. I had to use that word at least once in my first post! Haha!) Needless to say, Tom and I will definitely be trying this place again!

* * * * *

Alright folks, that's all I've got for you today. Stay tuned. There's loads more to come!
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