Simple Summer Dinners

#1. Mac

Vegan mac is easier to make than I would have guessed. I think because I grew up making mac and cheese from a box; so any other method seemed more challenging. But it’s easy! Soak some cashews, add some NOOCH and you got yourself some mac!

There are a ton of great recipes out there. Some you make a simple rue, others involve nuts. I don’t show prejudice, I love em all.


Mac and Cheez is a great summer dinner, mainly because its so easy to make. Try this recipe for chipotle mac from theppk.com. Our grocery store didn’t have chipotle peppers so I went with roasted red peppers instead. Still good!

I’m not dead.

It’s officially summer which means I can blog again!!

I’m starting small though.

This past week, I’ve made two decent recipes. Both from the PPK.

This site is always a good choice.

I made the Tempeh Orzilla and the Sanctuary Dip.

Both excellent. I used the dip as a dip but am also going to drizzle it on some baked potatoes and (duh) pizza :)

Check out these fabulous recipes at theppk.com.

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

If only they were SUGAR free and then they’d be perfect!

This recipe is pretty great- I’m surprised I haven’t posted it yet.

(Also- I swear I’ll take pictures with an actual camera someday and not my iphone..I’m just lazy)

These cookies turn out great every time and are especially good when they come out of the oven a little early. Check out the recipe at Cake and Commerce.

I made them for my husband’s client today who is allergic to gluten and she approved! So let it be known that if you hire my husband (stillmusic.com) to shoot your wedding, I will bake you cookies in accordance with your dietary restriction ;)

More Sweet Potatoes..

I swear I’m not on a sweet potato kick or anything.

But these looked so good! The recipe is from Chloe’s kitchen, one of my favorite cookbooks. This recipe is very simple and even quick, aside from baking the sweet potatoes. I toasted some walnuts and tossed them in with the gnocchi and sage butter. The sage butter is so simple but packs a distinct and delicious flavor.

This recipe makes a lot so it’s perfect for having friends over or freezing some of the batch for another night!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter

  • 2 large red skinner sweet potatoes (2lbs)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup earth balance
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 450.

Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until fully cooked, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of each sweet potato into a medium bowl. Thoroughly mash the sweet potatoes while they are still warm, then set aside or refrigerate to cool completely.

Add salt, nutmeg, and pepper to the sweet potatoes. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well to combine, I used my hands. Once a soft, slightly sticky, dough has formed, divide it into six portions.

Generously flour the work surface and your hands. Roll each portion of dough into ropes about 1/2 inch in diameter. Each rope will be approximately 7 to 9 inches long. Dip a sharp knife in flour and cut each rope into 1-inch long pillows.

Fill a medium saucepan with heavily salted water and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, heat earth balance and sage in a large skillet (I used cast iron) until the margarine begins to bubble.

Toss chopped walnuts in a small skillet and toast on low until nuts become fragrant.

When the water is boiling, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and gently drop in the gnocchi, about 20 at a time. The gnocchi will float to the surface in about 4 minutes. Continue to cook about 30 seconds more. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the gnocchi to the skillet of butter sauce.

Let cook, turning frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes. You will have to do this in several batches, until all the gnocchi are cooked. Serve immediately, topped with additional freshly ground black pepper and walnuts.

A Change of Scenery.

Oh hey.

Remember me?

I used to have a blog..

and then I fell off the face of the planet!

But I’m back!

And now I live in beautiful Santa Cruz, CA.

Living in such a beautiful place has definitely inspired me to cook more. I’ve tried cooking with almond meal recently and I love it! Check out this recipe from oh.she.glows. These almond thumbprint cookies are SO good…I did not miss the white flour at all! I also made these chocolate chip cookies with almond flour. Not as chewy as a regular chocolate chip cookies but still very delicious.

Some other favorites of the last month have been these beautiful lettuce wraps from theppk.com.

Some homemade wild plum jam.

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Falafels from 101cookbooks.

And a grilled cheese sandwich made with a homemade grilled cheez spread.

This recipe is from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. It delivers a deep cheezy taste and is very simple to put together. Add a slice of tomato or apple and enjoy!

Gooey Grilled Cheez

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs flour of any kind (chickpea works great but regular flour is fine)
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1 1/2 Tbs ketchup
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder, turmeric, dry mustard and sea salt
  • bread

Combine all ingredients, except bread, in a medium saucepan, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until mixture is very thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Spread on bread and grill like a regular grilled cheese.

Let Summer BEGIN!

Tonight we enjoyed a beautiful day in Portland and a delicious dinner in the backyard.

Marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms, sweet potato coconut mash, green goddess kale and a fresh baguette (made by my huz). It was so nice to sit together and enjoy a delicious meal. These recipe are simple and easy. The mushroom and green goddess dressing recipe (which is my new favorite dressing) is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’sAppetite For Reduction. These recipes are light, healthy and incredibly flavorful.

The sweet potatoes are a cinch. I peel, cut and steam the potatoes until tender then mash with a few tablespoons of coconut milk. They are delicious and really simple.

For Dessert I made a fabulous (if I do say so myself) Peach & Basil pie. It was so flavorful and so sweet. In my opinion, fruit pies are one of the easiest things to veganize- thanks to Earth Balance!

Try this twist on a traditional peach pie and surprise your friends!

pie crust:

  • 3/4 c earth balance
  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 to 5 tbsp ice cold water

The key to a good crust is COLD “BUTTER”, so keep your earth balance in the fridge until the very last second. To make crust, whisk together flour and salt. Mix in the earth balance by cutting it into cubes and mixing the cubes in. Here’s a tip: you can also grate the cold butter on a cheese grater into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, rub the flour into the butter until there are very few large lumps of butter visible. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and work it into the dough until it forms a soft dough. Cut the dough into two mounds and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
pie filling:

  • 4 c peeled, pitted, and sliced yellow peaches
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 handful basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs earth balance

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and allow them to sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Roll out first dough ball and place in pie tin. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Pour the filling into the pie pan and begin rolling out the other dough mound. You can make a traditional top or a lattice top which I did.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400° and then turn the oven down to 350°and bake for another 20 or until the crust is golden brown.

Serve with vanilla soy ice cream and enjoy!!

Vegan Mimosa Cupcakes

This weekend we celebrated our friend’s 30th birthday. He is a huge supporter of cocktails and merriment so I decided to make some cocktail themed cupcakes. My favorite of the night were these mimosa cupcakes. (I know my pictures are terrible but I normally don’t have time to take a nice picture of food…or I start eating it and realize half way through that I should’ve taken a picture!)

Whenever I bake for a large group I tend to use some shortcuts. One shortcut I’ve used on several occasions is Trader Joe’s Vanilla cake mix.

It always turns out moist and has vanilla bean speckles in it so people think you’re fancy (when in reality you are the opposite because you used boxed cake).

To make the cake, I subbed champagne for milk and ener-g for the eggs. I also zested a little orange into the batter. I considered using orange extract but thought it might be too strong. My advice is to allow the cupcakes to cook a bit longer than the directions suggest.

For the frosting I modified a traditional buttercream frosting recipe. My frosting turned out with a stronger champagne flavor but you could use more orange juice and less champagne (or none at all) if you want a brighter orange flavor.

Mimosa Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup earth balance
  • 3+ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs orange juice
  • 3 Tbs champagne
  • orange zest

Cream the butter and sugar together until it forms a paste. Slowly add in your orange juice and champagne. You may need a little less or a little more liquid depending on the amount of sugar you wound up using.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with zest.

Sugar Free Fruit Tart

It’s been over a month since I began my sugar fast and I am a new woman. This last week I wasn’t quite as religious about it but I still made every effort to avoid sugar. Over the weekend we hung out at the park with friends and I brought this tart for dessert. It’s so delicious and simple. I made mine the night before and let it chill over night.I felt that the amount of filling was lacking so I doubled it for the recipe below.

One tip I have for making this tart is toshop in bulk.These ingredients can be pretty pricey but you can find several of them in the bulk section of whole foods. Slivered almonds, dates and dried mangoes are expensive but you can cut your cost by only buying what you need for this dish.

I also saved some money by buying the packaged mixed fruit cups in whole food’s produce section. Grab a container of mixed berries with kiwi or whatever fruit you’d like for the top. it’s cheaper than buying several packages of each individual fruit.

Enjoy!

Sugar Free Fruit Tart

  • 9” pie pan
  • 2 1/4 cups slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups mangoes (4 yellow mangoes).
  • 1/2 cup dried mangoes, cut into pieces and soaked for 10 minutes
  • your favorite fresh fruit

In a food processor pulse slivered almonds, dates and sea salt until it forms a grainy consistency.

Using your hands or a rubber spatula, press the mixture into the 9” pie pan to form a crust. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Blend the soaked and fresh mangoes in a food processor. (Here is a site that explains how to cut a mango if you need help getting the most out if your fruit=> http://bit.ly/13Wbmh)

Pour the filling into the crust and arrange the fruit on top. Chill for at least an hour.

Sugar Free Fruit Tart

It’s been over a month since I began my sugar fast and I am a new woman. This last week I wasn’t quite as religious about it but I still made every effort to avoid sugar. Over the weekend we hung out at the park with friends and I brought this tart for dessert. It’s so delicious and simple. I made mine the night before and let it chill over night.I felt that the amount of filling was lacking so I doubled it for the recipe below.

One tip I have for making this tart is toshop in bulk.These ingredients can be pretty pricey but you can find several of them in the bulk section of whole foods. Slivered almonds, dates and dried mangoes are expensive but you can cut your cost by only buying what you need for this dish.

I also saved some money by buying the packaged mixed fruit cups in whole food’s produce section. Grab a container of mixed berries with kiwi or whatever fruit you’d like for the top. it’s cheaper than buying several packages of each individual fruit.

Enjoy!

Sugar Free Fruit Tart

  • 9” pie pan
  • 2 1/4 cups slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups mangoes (4 yellow mangoes).
  • 1/2 cup dried mangoes, cut into pieces and soaked for 10 minutes
  • your favorite fresh fruit

In a food processor pulse slivered almonds, dates and sea salt until it forms a grainy consistency.

Using your hands or a rubber spatula, press the mixture into the 9” pie pan to form a crust. Cover the crust with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Blend the soaked and fresh mangoes in a food processor. (Here is a site that explains how to cut a mango if you need help getting the most out if your fruit=> http://bit.ly/13Wbmh)

Pour the filling into the crust and arrange the fruit on top. Chill for at least an hour.

A little update.

Here are a few of my favorite meals I made during my sugar free fast. The first is an asparagus stir fry from 101cookbooks.com. It’s fresh tasting and a bit spicy. I served it over quinoa and it made the perfect meal for a beautiful summer evening.

The second is a Caribbean bowl recipe from Chloe’s kitchen. Fried plantains with seasoned yams, tofu, broccoli and kale served over brown jasmine rice. I loved this recipe! A lot of steps but pretty simple and very filling.