Potato Cupcakes

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It’s still Chanukah and here is another way to have some potato fun without the frying. (If you have made latkes, you know how your kitchen is going to smell for a while…not to mention your hair and clothes!)

I was inspired to make these by Mayim Bialik’s recipe for mini potato kugels. They are easy to prep and because I call them cupcakes, kids seem to find them fun to eat! For the kids, I made them plain and jazzed them up with a hint of rosemary for the adults.

4 Russet potatoes
1 onion
1 tablespoon Arrowroot (or potato starch)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, optional

Peel and grate the potatoes on a box grater or in the food processor with the grater attachment.

Drop the potatoes into a big strainer and run water over them until it runs clear. Let them sit for a bit to let any remaining water drain out. 

Dice the onion into a small dice and cook in water until soft.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix the potatoes and onions together. Sprinkle the arrowroot powder over the mixture and add a pinch of sea salt. Mix well. Add the oil and mix well again. If using rosemary, chop it, add it, and mix it in.

Spoon the mixture into each muffin tin using your fingers to press them down. Brush the tops with a little oil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden. Enjoy!

Spritzgeback (Christmas Spritz Cookies)

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Spritzgeback! Say it with me. Spritzgeback!

It’s the official name for what we call spritz cookies. Spritzen is German for “to squirt” and these cookies are made by extruding (or squirting) the dough through a cookie press fitted with special patterns like Christmas trees, menorahs, and snowflakes.

We decided to start a new family tradition, baking spritz cookies for the holidays! So, my husband and son gave me an early present this year – a cookie press with 12 cookie designs. We love it!

Our recipe is super simple and based on a shortbread from Terry and Isa’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I got 108 snowflakes out of these measurements.

Note: Use nonstick, light colored baking sheets. Don’t use parchment paper because as you squirt the cookies out they will stick and lift up the paper and it will be quite difficult to manage the whole situation.

1 cup of Earth Balance shortening, room temperature
2/3 cup vegan cane sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water, room temperature
Powdered sugar, for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350.

Use a hand mixer to cream the shortening, sugar  and salt together until nice and fluffy. Add the vanilla and keep working until it is all incorporated.

In another bowl, sift the flour and cornstarch together. Then take about half the flour mixture and add it to the sugar mixture. Use a spatula to work it in so that it won’t fly all over when you put the hand mixer back in. Work it all together and then do the same with the rest of the flour. Add the water and mix until a nice dough forms.

Use a spatula to fill the cookie press and spritz out the cookies onto the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

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Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then dust with powdered sugar through a small sieve. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Package up into little gift bags or store in the refrigerator and eat whenever you want a deliciously light treat. Enjoy!

Carrot Potato Latkes

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I’m getting ready for Chanukah over here and was thinking about how much I love my mother’s now vegan latkes. I taught her how to replace eggs with ground flax and that’s how we have been making them since I became vegan. This year, I was curious to try quinoa flakes as the egg replacer as Nava Atlas suggests in her recipe. And of course, it worked great.

As Nava says in her recipe, it is hard to give exact measurements because potato and carrot sizes vary so here is a picture of the little beauties I used today. With this amount of carrot and potato, I didn’t have to add any extra quinoa flakes but if yours are too loose, you may have to cook up more to hold them together.

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I also like to fry up the latkes and then let them sit on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Then, when I am ready to serve them, I place them on a baking sheet, cover them, and heat up in a 350 oven for 20 or so minutes. You can also freeze them and then reheat the same way.

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons quinoa flakes
3/4 cup boiling water
2 russet potatoes
1 big carrot
1 small onion
Salt, a big pinch
White pepper, a pinch
High heat oil, for frying

Boil the water. Pour over the quinoa flakes and let stand until totally absorbed.

Grate potatoes, carrot and onion and combine. Stir in the wet quinoa flakes and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Heat oil in a nonstick pan. Using an ice cream scooper drop the latkes onto the oil and cook until the first side is nice and brown. Then flip carefully, press them down, and cook the other side.

Serve with homemade applesauce and enjoy!

Carrot Cashew Croquettes

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And speaking of our trip to North Carolina in September…Remember how I raved about these carrot cashew croquettes from Whole Foods/Greenlife Grocer? Well, I figured them out in my kitchen and they are fully in the regular rotation.

I tinkered with the ingredient list and figured these proportions based on other burgers and croquettes I make. I also omitted the basil and swapped in quinoa flakes for the bread crumbs to make it gluten-free.

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The man behind the counter gave me a great tip. He said that the key to making a great veggie burger or croquette is to pan fry them until both sides are browned and then let them rest before baking them in the oven for a crispy outside and full flavor integration on the inside. Thanks dude!

makes 4 croquettes/burgers

1 cup carrots, 4 to 5 carrots
3 scallions (or 1/2 small onion)
1 big clove of garlic
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1 tablespoon maple sugar
1 tablespoon tamari
The juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Salt, a pinch
Grapeseed oil, for pan frying

Dice the carrots and slice the scallions or chop the onions. Water or oil sauté the carrots and onions until just softening. Add a pinch of salt. Chop up the garlic clove and add it to the sauté  pan for a minute or two.

Place the cashews into the food processor. Add the parsley, cilantro, quinoa flakes, maple sugar, tamari, lime juice, cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Pulse a few times to get the mixture chopped a bit.

Pour the carrot mixture into the processor and process until everything is well ground up.

Let cool for a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

I use my 1/3 cup measuring cup to form 4 croquettes. Heat oil in a skillet and pan fry until both sides are browned. Place on the baking sheet and let cool.

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When ready to eat, bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Freeze leftovers. Enjoy!

Eating Vegan in Charlotte, NC: Luna’s Living Kitchen

We went to North Carolina in September and I’ve been meaning to post this review ever since.

We flew into Charlotte and our first priority was lunch. I googled “eating vegan in Charlotte” and Luna’s Living Kitchen came right up. Only 15 minutes from the airport, we headed over and enjoyed a fantastic lunch.   

The restaurant has a great open atmosphere. It has a sort of industrial space vibe, with high ceilings, brick walls, and big windows.

For an appetizer, we took this chia seed pudding out of the to-go refrigerator because we were starving. It was creamy and delicious and very cinnamon-y which would normally bother me but I actually liked it. It came with a little raspberry sauce on the side.

IMG_5504We couldn’t order everything on the menu (I wish!) but we tried several amazing dishes.

First, this arugula salad which came with with avocado, pears, candied walnuts and cranberries and a scoop of homemade cashew-basil cheese.

IMG_5505Then we tried the Lunasagna, layers of mushrooms and zucchini with sun dried tomato sauce and the cashew-basil cheese. It was good but I have to say that I am over raw lasagna. Remind me not to order it anywhere again. It is too filling.

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And check out this quinoa-kamut veggie burger on multigrain bread! This one was called Fire and Brimstone because it was spiced with chipotle sunflower hummus, onions, cucumber, salsa verde and house hot sauce. Phenomenal.

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I also had to try the zucchini bolognese which was made with walnuts. Loved this version of “noodles” and sauce. Very tasty.

IMG_5508And on the side, this gorgeous beet and carrot salad. Light and refreshing. We also got a great broccoli Waldorf salad but sadly I didn’t get a shot of it. It had walnuts and cranberries. Or maybe raisins.

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The little side salad on the Lunasagna plate was tossed with this amazing dressing which I am so going to make myself.

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And of course, dessert. A raw chocolate cake. Yum!

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For the road, we grabbed a couple of bottles: Luna’s almond milk which was made with coconut nectar, almonds, water, vanilla, and salt and the Pura Vida juice which was carrot, apple, orange and lemon.

We left totally full and totally satisfied, but wanting more! Luckily, we went back for brunch on our way home a few days later.

We all ordered this psychotic “Biblical Breakfast” which was 3 warm slices of freshly baked cranberry-walnut bread topped with organic peanut butter, almond butter, and coconut butter. Then they added a layer of fig preserves. Then they topped it with bananas, maple syrup and a sprinkle of white chia seeds. Holy heaven!

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We also got the El Luchador smoothie which was made with hemp milk, banana, peanuts, raw cacao and agave. Delicious!

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If you are in Charlotte, you have to go to Luna’s!

Ice Cream Shmice Cream #16: Vanilla Peanut Butter

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And speaking of peanut butter… (see my last post)

Always have your ice cream maker thing in the freezer so that you can whip up ice cream ANY time. Especially when peanut butter inspiration hits like it hit me this week. If you like chocolate peanut butter ice cream, just add 1/2 cup of raw cacao powder.

Just because it is December and raining outside, doesn’t mean a cone is not in order!

2 cans organic coconut milk
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup organic smooth peanut butter, room temperature

Combine the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and peanut butter. Whisk it all together and get it as smooth as possible. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Pour the coconut milk mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 10 minutes.

Turn out into a Tovolo ice cream tub or a freezer safe container with a piece of wax paper on top. Freeze, and enjoy!

Super Easy Peanut Sauce

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I love peanut butter. In any form, in any meal, even right out of the jar. I found a version of this recipe by the No Meat Athlete and adapted it to work for us. These measurements make about a cup which means 2 meals this week!

Today for lunch I made a big bowl of brown rice and topped it with sautéed onions, red peppers, broccoli and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for good luck. Carrots, pea pods, green peas, scallions, tofu, tempeh and chickpeas work great too.

The deal with this sauce is the balance of garlic and ginger, the more the spicier, so it is up to you to make it work for you.

1/2 cup water, plus more for thinning out the sauce
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon vegan coconut sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 cloves of garlic (or garlic powder, to taste)
A piece of ginger (or ground ginger, to taste)

Place all ingredients in the blender. Let it rip and then add a few tablespoons of water to thin out the sauce to your liking. Store in an airtight container and toss into your meal when ready. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Blondies

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Not exactly a traditional Thanksgiving recipe but hey, let’s start a new tradition! These blondies are super delicious and decadent…this photo does not even do them justice! I used my macadamia nut blondies as the base for this recipe. If you can find mini Dandies then you don’t have to cut up the marshmallows and save a step.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raw vegan sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2 flax eggs
1 cup Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels
1 cup Dandies Marshmallows 

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the marshmallows into 4 pieces each and set aside.

Sift flour in a big mixing bowl and add baking powder, vanilla powder, salt, baking soda and sugar. Mix with a fork. Add the marshmallows and chocolate morsels and mix well to cover. Add the coconut milk, sunflower oil and flax eggs. Mix really well until a dough forms.

Turn mixture out into 9×9 brownie pan and spread out with a spatula until the pan is filled.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost dry. Let the blondies cool and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Rainbow Vegetable Saffron Millet Croquettes & How to Make Perfect Millet Every Time

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I love the way this millet looks and smells. Beautiful fluffy millet, mixed with a rainbow of vegetables, and the secret scent of saffron. Yum!

But I have made some bad millet over the years. Too crunchy, not done. Eeeew. So I have discovered a way to perfect millet every time. I use a large skillet that has a cover so that the millet has a large surface area over which to toast!

Perfect Millet Every Time Cooking Method
Heat the skillet over medium heat. Pour the cup of uncooked millet into the skillet and toast the millet for a few minutes, mixing it around a bit, until it is fragrant and getting brown. But don’t walk away, millet burns easily so watch it! Pour in the water, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed. When the water is absorbed, turn the flame off and let the millet sit covered for a few minutes. Then fluff with a fork.

Now to today’s rainbow vegetable saffron croquettes. Just so yum! The outside gets crispy and the inside stays soft. In love with this creation! Today, I served these alongside a salad of chopped Romaine with a light dressing made with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

To make these croquettes for an appetizer, make 12 croquettes using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scooper!

Makes about 4 cups / 6 croquettes
1/2 red onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 zucchini
Big pinch of saffron
1 cup uncooked millet
2 cups filtered water
Pinch of salt
High heat oil for sautéing the croquettes

Cook according to the Perfect Millet Every Time Cooking Method adding the saffron when it’s time to reduce the millet to a simmer. Crush the saffron in your palm and drop it into the millet.

In the meantime, organize your mise en place: dice the vegetables and mince the garlic. Water or oil sauté the vegetables until they are soft, starting with the onion, adding the garlic and a pinch of salt, then the carrot and parsnip and lastly the zucchini. Only cook the mixture for a few minutes more so that the zucchini stays bright green.

Mix the vegetables into the millet. Stop here to enjoy as a side or main dish.

To make the croquettes, place the vegetable millet mixture into the food processor and let it rip until the vegetables are finely processed. Form six equal sized croquettes. Heat up a non-stick skillet and add a small amount of oil (like one turn of the pan.) Cook until the first side is nicely browned. Flip carefully and cook the second side. Let the croquettes rest on a towel to drain the excess oil and then serve. Enjoy!

Romanesco & Romesco

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Romesco sauce may be my most favorite sauce ever. If you love roasted red peppers you will love it too! It works with tofu, on crostini, or as a dipping sauce for this gorgeous Romanesco cauliflower which is just coming back into season.

Romesco is a sauce from Spain that is made from roasted red peppers and almonds. Super easy to make; only a few ingredients in the processor. Don’t tell me this sounds difficult to make like my Aunt just did when I told her I was having it for lunch. It’s only a few ingredients! Make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Then heat it up.

Romanesco is a sort of broccoli/cauliflower combo. It is has little light green cone shaped florets that easily cut apart. It has a crunchier texture than cauliflower and a sort of nutty flavor.

So these two together equal deliciousness for a side or snack.

Romanesco Cauliflower
1 head of romanesco
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Salt, a pinch

Cut the romanesco into florets and cut any really big ones in half. Toss with oil and salt. Turn out onto a baking sheet, cut side down for the bigger pieces, and roast at 425 until browning on the edges and bottom, anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

Romesco Sauce (makes about 1 cup)
3 roasted red peppers
1/3 cup raw almonds
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste

Toss the garlic and almonds into the food processor and pulse until finely ground. The finer the almonds, the smoother the sauce. I like a little texture myself. 

Add the peppers, paprika, sherry vinegar and pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and salt and process until combined. Taste and adjust spices.

Serve and enjoy!

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