Uncategorized · What's Cooking

Love and Unrest

Unless you live in a cave underground, I’m sure you all know what’s been happening lately. The murder of George Floyd. The protests. The riots. All over the world people are fighting for equality and against racism and police brutality. There is so much heaviness, sadness, and anger that I just don’t know what to say. Every time I read another headline in the news I can’t help but ask myself “How did we get here? How did we let it get this bad?” While I don’t consider myself racist by any means, it’s hard not to feel guilty for all the injustice that has happened in this country for hundreds of years now.

It is not okay.

I’ve been doing my own part in helping to spread awareness of the issue, donating money, and speaking out whenever I can. You don’t have to be in the middle of the protests to take part in the action. (If you aren’t sure how, click here for some ideas.) It’s been mentally draining, to say the least, because no matter what I do it feels like it will never be enough.

I took the day off work on Friday to get some things done at home and to try to relax. As I often do during stressful times, I decided to bake something. I had some frozen berries hanging around in the freezer, so I pulled them out and decided to make scones. The recipe I used came from The Curious Chickpea. It’s a simple, yet reliable one. The only differences I made to the recipe was that I used both raspberries and blueberries and created a beet glaze to drizzle over the top. The flavor of the beet powder didn’t come through too much, but it did add a beautiful color to the finished product.

Baking always gives me a sense of peace and happiness, which is why it is one of my favorite hobbies. Every time I step into the kitchen to bake something I pour a lot of love into whatever I’m making. I know plenty of you can relate.

Can you imagine what kind of world we could live in, how much better off we would be, if we all poured that same love and energy into supporting others?

#blacklivesmatter

Uncategorized · What's Cooking

Lazy Meal Inspo

Considering how much time I’ve spent at home the last two months I’ve obviously spent a lot of time preparing my own meals. Sometimes I get incredibly excited to cook and don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen. Other times, I feel like a lazy slug and the thought of even trying to come up with another meal idea makes me want to cry. I’m sure some of you can relate. For those latter type of days I have learned to rely on quick, one pan meals and new ways to utilize leftovers. It’s easy to create satisfying dishes without forcing yourself to slave away over a stove all day. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Need a little of your own inspiration? Here are a couple of “lazy” meal ideas that I’ve turned to in the last few weeks.

Leftover grain & veggie bowls – I love coming up with interesting ways to use up cooked grains. There are a million combinations you can come up with depending on what beans (or other plant protein), veggies, nuts/seeds, and condiments you have on hand. I make a lot of Asian fried rice-type dishes often with cooked grains because I love Asian flavors, but it’s nice to branch out and try new things occasionally, also. A recent favorite that I came up with was this cheesy quinoa and white bean bowl.

Cheesy Quinoa and White Beans: Cooked quinoa, garlic, white beans, zucchini, shredded carrots, and leftover cashew “cheese” sauce. All I did for this one was cook up the garlic and veggies for a few minutes until softened, then threw in the quinoa, beans, cheese sauce, and a little salt & pepper until everything was heated.

Tacos, Tacos, Tacos – I love throwing random things together and making tacos or burritos out of them. I made these spicy shiitake and grilled potato tacos a few weeks ago that were the BOMB.com. Another go-to that I make frequently is chickpea and cauliflower tacos. Both versions are pretty adaptable, since you’re just using up whatever you already have on hand.

Spicy Shiitake and Potato Tacos: Leftover grilled (or roasted) potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, kale, and avocado. I cooked up the shiitakes with garlic, a little coconut aminos, and smoked paprika until they were soft, but still chewy. Then I added in the kale and leftover potatoes and cooked until everything was warm. I spread a little mashed avocado on each tortilla before filling with the remaining ingredients and squeezing a little lime juice on top.

Chickpea and Cauliflower Tacos: Leftover chickpeas and roasted cauliflower, shredded carrot, pickled onions, and fresh cilantro. (These are great with tahini drizzled on top!)

Comment below and tell me about some of your favorite lazy meals!

Dessert · Recipes · What's Cooking

A Sudden Burst of Nuttiness

All this cooking from home is starting to make me crave random things. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already exhausted my usual repertoire of recipes, so now my tastebuds also have to get creative so as not to get bored. When looking through the pantry the other day I noticed half a bag of walnuts and pecans that have been hanging around for a while. Instantly I thought of pecan pie, even though I usually only make pecan pie around the holidays. Be that as it may, who am I to deny a sudden bout of baking inspiration?

Instead of making a full pie, I went the easier route and made these cute mini nut tarts. I kept things pretty simple with a press-in crust and using one bowl for everything. Using maple syrup instead of corn syrup adds a nice touch of sweet, maple-y goodness that I just love. (Personal tip: When you have the option to add maple syrup, just do it.) Despite their small size, these really aren’t all that time consuming to make. You can easily use all pecans here or swap one type of nut with another. (Adding some chopped hazelnuts would be good.) If you decide to give the recipe a try, let me know how you mixed it up!

Mini Nut Tarts

(Makes approx. 2 dozen)

Crust:

1 cup white flour

1/2 cup oat flour

Pinch salt

4 TBSP vegan butter, melted (I use Earth balance)

2 TBSP maple syrup

Filling:

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 TBSP coconut oil, melted

2 TBSP oat milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1.5 TBSP flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cavities of a mini muffin tin. (Make sure to grease well!)
  • In a large bowl combine flours and pinch of salt. Add melted butter and maple syrup. Mix until everything is well combined and the dough is crumbly, but holds together. (I usually start mixing with a wooden spoon, then switch over to using my hands to really knead everything together well.) If your dough feels a little too dry, you can add 1-2 tsp water to help moisten it.
  • Press clumps of dough into the greased muffin cups, pressing gently onto the bottom and about 3/4 the way up the sides.
  • In the same large bowl whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.
  • Add flour and salt. Whisk until no lumps of flour remain.
  • Fold in chopped nuts.
  • Spoon filling into prepared tart shells, filling them almost to the top.
  • Bake approximately 15-18 minutes, until tarts look golden brown and the filling is mostly set.
  • Let cool completely before removing tarts from muffin tin. (The best way to remove them is to slide a thin knife around the edge of the tarts to loosen the crust.)
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
Dessert · What's Cooking

Fudgy Wudgy Vegan Brownies

Have you ever taken a bite of a dessert and thought “Wow, this is way too chocolatey and ooey gooey?”

Yeah, neither have I.

Earlier this week I came across a recipe that Hannah from the Bittersweet blog shared on her Instagram. It was a recipe for brownies that use aquafaba. If you are new to veganism or have somehow just missed the memo: aquafaba is the magical juice that you get from a can of chickpeas. (Yes, that stuff you normally strain out and dump down the drain. Stop doing that, alright?) Aquafaba has some similar properties to egg whites and can be whipped up like meringue or folded directly into batters to create all kinds of desserts that are normally difficult to veganize. I’ve even seen some people using it to create mayonnaise, but I haven’t personally tried that one yet. This was my first time using aquafaba in brownies before and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

If Fuzzy Wuzzy had a brother named Fudgy Wudgy, he would love these brownies.

What are some of your other favorite uses for aquafaba? Even more importantly, are you a fudgy or cakey brownie person?

What's Cooking

A Day of Happy Food

Life is extra chaotic for some people right now as they try to juggle the stress of working from home and trying to take care of kids. For some, it’s stressful because they’ve lost their jobs and are feeling super depressed. Wherever we fall on the spectrum, I think you’ll agree that we all need to take more time to do nice things for ourselves. Earlier this week I decided that I needed to have another “happy foods” day as a nice, fun little way to treat myself. (You may have seen me do this on Instagram a few times now.)

What is “happy foods” day, you ask? It’s simple: You spend the whole day eating and preparing foods that make you super happy. Because why not? We all deserve a little happiness and what better way to bring a smile to your face than to eat meals we enjoy?

My day started like most others, with a huge mug of green tea and a creamy bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit, nut butter, and a little dark chocolate. Oats are one of my favorite things to eat (any time, not just at breakfast), so I always try to start my day with a big bowl of this healthy, happy deliciousness.

Lunch was a quinoa-veggie bowl from my favorite local deli. It was packed with layers and layer of quinoa, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, tofu, greens, and eggplant “bacon.” This is one of my favorite things to order when I go there because everything is so fresh and flavorful. (Plus, they give you enough for like 2 meals.)

As an afternoon snack I decided to play with my new NutriBullet and try a recipe I found on Pinterest for vegan Snickers bars. I had to modify the recipe a bit and ended up making mini candy bites instead of full bars. It was a messy project that I probably won’t repeat, but I was still happy with how they turned out.

For dinner, I made noodles…again. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been hitting the noodles pretty hard these last few weeks. (Carbs = love) A staple of mine is to make soba noodles and toss them with tofu and veggies cooked in a spicy Korean sauce. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s always comforting.

Overall, it was a pretty nice day. There were plenty of things outside of my control, but at least I had a full belly and a few reasons to smile.

Do you guys ever have “happy foods” days? If so, what does the day look like for you?

Dessert · Recipes · What's Cooking

Cookieception (aka Vegan Cookie Dough Balls)

Now that I’m working mostly from home I am finding myself wandering to the kitchen to graze more than usual. I mean, it’s just too easy when your home office (and by office, I mean couch) is literally 15 feet away from the refrigerator. And you know what? It’s fine. We’re all living through a stressful time right now. There’s no point in beating myself up over something like too many snacks, especially considering how much I love snacks. 🙂

I’ve been doing my best to keep a good balance in my diet lately. It’s fine to crave and eat junk food, but I know that if I just sit around eating Oreos all day that I’m probably not going to feel great. That’s where all the healthy snack and dessert recipes that I’ve been hoarding for years on Pinterest have come in handy.

Several versions of vegan cookie dough ball recipes have shown up in my feed lately, meaning that some great higher power is telling me that I need to eat raw cookie dough. (Which I did a few days ago…not the healthy version, like this recipe, either. Just straight up cookie dough out of the freezer. Don’t judge me.) This afternoon I decided to play around a bit and make a “healthier” cookie dough recipe that I can snack on throughout the week. I used the recipe posted recently on Sweet Simple Vegan for my starting point, with some tweaks here and there. Instead of using all nut butter, I actually used a mix of peanut butter and Biscoff spread to give it more of a cookie-like taste. (Since I used a cookie spread inside a cookie dough recipe, is that cookieception?) The spreads I used were thicker than a lot of nut butters, so I had to adjust the amounts of some of the other ingredients I used. For a first time attempt I am super happy with the way these turned out.

Now…how do I actually make them last until the end of the week? 😛

Cookieception Balls (aka Vegan Cookie Dough Balls)

3-4 TBSP maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like things)

2 TBSP peanut butter

2 TBSP Biscoff spread

1 tsp melted coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup oat flour

1/4 tsp maca powder (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

Water, as needed (I used about 1 TBSP)

Chocolate chips (About 1.5 – 2 TBSP. Just measure it with your heart.)

  • Combine maple syrup, peanut butter, Biscoff, coconut oil and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk until wet ingredients are well combined.
  • Add oat flour, maca (if using), and salt to the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined and a soft dough begins to form. If your dough is thick, you may want to knead the flour in by hand to get it well incorporated. Add water, a little at a time, to moisten dough if it’s too dry or crumbly.
  • Stir/knead in chocolate chips.
  • Roll into small balls (I got 10) and place on parchment paper.
  • Pop in the fridge for at least half an hour to chill. (Keep store in the fridge, if you don’t eat them all in one sitting.)

What's Cooking

Eating During the Time of Quarantine

Hello, friends! Thanks for checking out my blog and my first post. Originally, when I decided to create this blog, my first post was going to be about my journey back to veganism and a more eco-friendly lifestyle. But, we can talk more about all of that later, I guess. It feels somewhat inconsequential to talk about any major lifestyle changes at the moment, given everything going on in the world with COVID-19. For now, let’s just talk about some of the things I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen during quarantine.

I was cooking quite a bit before COVID hit, but I’ll admit that I ordered takeout food at least 2-3 times a week, usually on days I didn’t pack anything for lunch. Being the busy people that we are, I’m sure a lot of you were in the same boat. When we had to start staying home, I half expected myself to get sick of cooking pretty quickly. “At least I can still order food to-go or get food delivered to the house,” I thought. Surprisingly, I’ve only ordered takeout a handful of times in the last 5-6 weeks. Every weekend Boyfriend and I try to pick a local restaurant that we like and support them by ordering takeout. My daily tea/coffee runs have diminished to once a week, which has probably been an even bigger adjustment for me than cooking all my meals at home. I’m finding that I don’t even mind it that much. Staying in has forced me to be more creative, not only because ingredients are limited, but so I don’t run out of ideas and end up eating the same thing day after day.

I’ve been trying out lots of recipes from my favorite food bloggers, YouTubers, and cookbooks. Lately, I’ve been really into cooking Korean-inspired meals, as Korean food is one of my favorites.

There’s also been plenty of baking happening, as well. I bake a lot as it is, but considering everything that’s been going on, I’ve ramped things up. (Anyone else stress baking like crazy?) There have been cookies, breads, cakes, cobblers, and candies appearing on my counter at least three times a week…which is why I’ll be calling my quarantine memoir, Land of a Thousand Carbs.

What kinds of things have you all been making lately? Are you sick of cooking yet?