Monday, November 29, 2010

Fire Roasted

Every time I go to Whole Foods, I seem to meander down the tomato isle. I'm not a huge fan of cans, nor plain tomatoes, but Muir Glen Organic seems to do both right. I really appreciate that their packaging no longer contains BPA (see this article), and that their tomatoes are both organic and delicious.

I've used their No Salt Added Tomato Sauce and No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes before, and I'll admit I haven't been very adventurous. Until now. After wondering what exactly is a "fire-roasted tomato," I finally tried some for myself. I wish I could describe the smoky, but not spicy, and sweet, but not candy-like flavors that are included in every bite. In fact, when I tried a bite of my first meal using them, I actually said outloud, "This is sa-weet!"

Indeed, I devoured every little bit of my Curried Cauliflower Stew with Chickpeas. Oh, and don't worry, the roasted eggplant, delicata squash, and yellow squash weren't left behind either.

This recipe actually came from my new cookbook, Clean Start by Terry Walters. Since I already loved her first book, Clean Food, I immediately ordered this new-release when it became available last month.

Clean Food was really influential with teaching me confidence in my kitchen intuition and enjoying the simplicity of whole foods. Actually, that shows in my meal preparation for this because I was confident enough to substitute fire-roasted diced tomatoes for the regular ones called for in her recipe. Well if this recipe (my first from Clean Start) is any indicator of how much I will love this new cookbook, then I am sure this is going to be a lovely relationship.

But back to the tomatoes. While I really enjoyed the fire-roasted tomatoes in Clean Start's stew, tonight's dinner definitely stole the show. My channa masala was full of sweet tomatoes, soft chickpeas, and warming spices.

It was a nice accompaniment to some steamed veggies.

A dollup of creamy hummus really finished it off right.

And of course, it didn't stay pretty for very long...

But after studying Calculus for much longer than I would like, but this meal definitely reenergized me. It was the perfect ending to a lovely Thanksgiving vacation.

Luckily, it will not be completely forgotten tomorrow. I still have a VERY large bag of frozen veggies that I will be enjoying with many other meals to come. I love Costco :D.

But I love my Nanny (grandmother) who indulges my vegetable habit even more :D.

Sadly, though, she hasn't been feeling very today. Since I had the day off today, I was able to take care of her. When she asked for toast with butter, I even recommended Earth Balance instead because I've heard dairy products aren't good for an upset stomach.

I am happy to report that she enjoyed her little vegan meal :). She is feeling a bit better, but not quite 100%. Please pray that she will get better soon!

Which cookbooks have been the most in influential for you? And what do you do for your loved ones when they are sick? Tea and toast seem to be nursing Nanny back to health slowly but surely. I guess it's our English roots!

Have a lovely day!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast (Vanilla Pumpkin Pie Pancakes)

Pumpkin pie and I go waaaay back.

...Back to the cafeteria in lower school with lots of whipped cream in hopes of hiding the actual pie.

...Back to every double Thanksgiving (divorced parents) where family members would hand me a piece, lovingly urging me to show my thanks by devouring it.

...Even back to every special winter dinner at our club where its beautiful looks were deceiving.

If you can't tell by now, pumpkin pie and I don't have such a great history. Try as I may to hide it, taste it again without reserve, and even just eat it for the "sake of the holidays", I just did not like pumpkin pie. Every time I ate it, I seemed to be left with a sugar coma. Not to mention I had a tummy and head ache to accompany it. And to be honest, it didn't really taste all that great to me anyway.

I suppose you can see now why I thought for the longest time that I was allergic to pumpkin. (Let's just take a moment to think about how random an allergy that is anyway.... and for any of you that have a pumpkin allergy, I'm sorry; I feel for you.) Well lucky for me, I tried pumpkin again last year (thank you blogsphere for encouraging me!) and nothing terrible happened. In fact, I discovered that I actually ADORE winter squash. It is now definitely my favorite food (kabocha specifically, of course :D).

After that, I finally reconciled my relationship with pumpkin pie this year. Since I'm not a big fan of sweets anymore, and the sheer thought of pumpkin pie still turns my tummy a little, I decided to have my pumpkin pie in pancake form.

Looking back, it was probably the combination of too much sugar, cream, eggs, etc. that really set me off. No worries now because these pumpkin pie pancakes are completely vegan, and even flour-free (with gluten-free option) and refined sugar-free. Not only is the idea of pumpkin pie for breakfast much more fun, but these pancakes also have the added bonus of keeping you satisfied and full of energy with the help of some power-packed ingredients.

Now who wants some pumpkin pie for breakfast?

Vanilla Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
serves 1 (makes 8-10 mini pancakes)


  • 1TBS ground flax seed + 3 TBS hot water
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats 
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (I <3 Libby's!) 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best!)
  • dash of vanilla powder (can substitute ~1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4+ drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia Concentrated Extract or sweetener to taste
  • ~1/4-1/2 cup water or non-dairy milk 

     Heat a non-stick pan (sprayed with cooking spray or oiled, if desired) over medium high heat. Pour hot water on flax seed and whisk with a fork. Set aside to gel.
     Once the "flax egg" resembles the consistency of an egg, combine it in a food processor (minis are great for this) with oats, pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla powder, and vanilla stevia drops. Process until well-mixed. Next add the water or non-dairy milk, starting with 1/4 cup and adding a little more until it reaches a thick pancake batter. (*Note: the batter will continue to thicken as it sits, so make sure to add accordingly.)
     Use a mini ice cream scoop to place batter on hot pan and cook until the batter bubbles and becomes firm. Flip and cook until golden brown. Enjoy with toppings galore!

P.S. It should be noted that I was not the only one who had pumpkin pie for breakfast. My family was so stuffed after Thanksgiving that they actually feel asleep before having any pie. However, this pie void did not last for long. They devoured half of my homemade vegan pumpkin pecan pie for breakfast the next day. While I may not be a big fan of pie myself, it seems like my vegan pecan pumpkin pie was pretty well received. Recipe to come! (*The pie and vegan "whipped cream" pictures from the beginning of the post are from the dessert I made for my family this year.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Hey loves! Are you getting excited for Thanksgiving? I have already been baking up a storm, perfuming my house with notes of tart cranberries and citrus orange.

I am currently working on a new recipe for cranberry orange muffins (as per Nanny's request), but if you are looking for another holiday treat to make for dessert or just to have with coffee now, why not try my vegan cranberry orange scones? They are definitely grandmother approved!

But for now, let's talk about fueling for the big day. I don't know about you, but my favorite part about the Thanksgiving meal is the roasted veggies. Around them, I usually just turn into a bottomless pit. Never mind that I'm full, I just want more vegetables!

To better prepare for this feast this year, I've started the festivities early. While runners are known for eating lots of spaghetti before their races, I prefer speghetti of a veggie variety for my "training."

Enter Squashetti. While I do not think of spaghetti squash as a replacement for normal pasta, I do like eating it in a similar way. Spaghetti squash's sweet strands make it the perfect base for natural candy (aka roasted veggies), chickpeas, and a blanket of marinara sauce.

In fact, one of the wonderful things about Squashetti is that it just keeps giving! Depending on the size of your squash, you could get as many as 2-6 servings out of just one.

However, I am "in training," so I only got two. Ah, the life of a veggie-lover!

Squashetti (aka Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Roasted Vegetables)


  • 1 spaghetti squash 
  • roasted vegetables of choice (directions for eggplant, yellow squash, brussels sprouts, and green beans are below)
  • chickpeas 
  • pasta sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 400*F. 
  2. Prepare the spaghetti squash by cutting it in half lengthwise. Either bake in the oven or steam in the microwave. 
    1. In the oven: Place each half facing up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, if desired (I don't). Bake for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender and the strands come lose when scraped with a fork. 
    2. In the microwave: Place in a large covered dish and microwave for about 8-10 minutes, or until tender. 
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted veggies. (Examples are below.) 
    1. Cut eggplant and yellow squash into thick slices and cut brussels sprouts in half. 
    2. Place on a tinfoil-lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. 
    3. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, if desired (I don't). 
    4. Bake for 20 minutes. 
    5. Flip the eggplant and yellow squash, and add the green beans to the cookie sheet. 
    6. Bake for another 20 minutes. 
  4. To assemble Squashetti: 
    1. Use a fork to remove the strands of the spaghetti squash. 
    2. Cover strands in pasta sauce. 
    3. Place chickpeas ontop. 
    4. Garnish with roasted veggies. 
  5. Mix and enjoy!


  • This recipe is perfect for busy nights, too. It can come together in a pinch if you already have some roasted veggies on hand (or just use steamed ones, or even microwaved frozen) and decide to microwave your squash. A delicious veggie-filled meal in only 10 minutes! 
  • I recommend tenderizing your eggplant slices before you roast them. To do this, simply salt the slices and put them aside while you prepare the other parts of your meal. Depending on time, you can wipe them with a paper towel (to remove the moisture that is released and the salt) in as little as 10 minutes, though I recommend about 15-20. The resulting roasted eggplant slices will be soft and very flavorful. 
  • If you can, please use cooked beans (as opposed to cans). You can read my thoughts on canned beans here. Trust me, the flavor of cooking your own is SO worth it! 
  • I used pasta sauce from Whole Foods. While I love making my own in the summer with the bounty of fresh vegetables, this version was great in a pinch. It is very flavorful and would be a lovely dip for any kind of vegetable fry (like yummy eggplant fries!) 

All of those delicious roasted veggies definitely have me all geared up for tomorrow's festivities. Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? And what are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Have a lovely day! 


P.S. The name "Squashetti" is curtosy of my creative grandmother, Nanny. Too cute!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Cranberry Orange Scones

My great grandmother was the quintessential english lady. She was always proper in her conduct and witty in her manner. However, what she was most famous for was her daily ritual of tea drinking that she encouraged her children, and later grandchildren, to observe. Four o'clock tea in "Nonny's" household consisted of hot tea, friendly conversation of the day, and of course, scones. Though I was never lucky enough to partake in this affair with Nonny, the tea-drinking gene has most definitely been passed onto me. 

Nowadays, my grandmother, Nanny, and I partake in this ceremony in our own way. Nanny supplies the cinnamon tea for me and I bring homemade cranberry orange scones for her. While these vegan scones may seem like a far cry from their English butter-laden counterparts, Nanny can attest that they are every bit as flaky and delicious. 

So from my kitchen to yours, I hope that Nanny's favorite cranberry orange scones will warm your hearts this holiday season as much as they do ours. 

Vegan Cranberry Orange Scones 
Makes 8 to 10 scones 

  • 1 TBS Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer (*see note)
  • 3 TBS water 
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread 
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/2 cup orange juice 
  • 2 tsp orange extract (substitute a bit of orange zest if you do not have orange extract)
  • 2 to 3 TBS nondairy milk


Preheat oven to 425*F. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. 

In a food processor, whip together the egg replacer powder and water until thick and creamy. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the Earth Balance to the dry ingredients and cut it into small pieces using two knives. The texture should remain coarse and crumbly, resembling bread crumbs (leaving some of the butter pieces as large as peas will result in flaky scones). Stir in the cranberries. 

Add the orange juice and egg replacer mixture, and mix until just combined (mixing too much will result in tough scones). The dry ingredients should be just moistened, but the dough will not be completely smooth. 

Gather the dough into a ball (adding just one more teaspoon of water or orange juice if needed), and place on a lightly floured surface or pastry Silpat. Pat or roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch-thick rough, and cut into 8 or 10 pieces---triangles are the traditional shape. Place them 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet, brush with nondairy milk, and sprinkle with some sugar. 

Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack or serve warm. 

***Please note: I use Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer because I have found it to be more reliable than the popular Ener-G brand. I like it especially because it remains stable when you need to refrigerate the dough or are not able to bake everything all at once (aka there is sitting time in between batches). 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes 
...because sometimes you really can have it all: cookie dough, cookies, cupcakes, and frosting.

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (soy milk is best for curdling) 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/3 cup canola oil 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose-flour 
  • 2 TBS arrowroot 
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • dash of cinnamon

Cupcake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F and line a muffin tin with cupcake holders.

Whisk the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Once curdeled, combine the non-dairy milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl.

Sift in the flour, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Mix until no large lumps remain.

Stir in mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

Remove cookie dough (recipe to come tomorrow) from the freezer and place one ball in the center of each muffin cup.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full with batter.

Bake for 22-24 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile prepare the frosting (recipe to come tomorrow).

[Until then...]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet Monday

Heya, my little cupcakes! How was your weekend?

I am currently blogging live from Starbucks, aka my favorite place to relax. Unfortunately, my purpose for being here tonight is not to stop to smell the roses coffee; instead, I am here to study for my tests this week. I am still thankful, though, because testing week means Thanksgiving break (1 week off!) is only a few days away. Having a hot Tazo Vanilla Rooibos tea to keep me company helps as well. ;)

What do you order at Starbucks? I know lots of people like to order fancy drinks with this, but without that, only two pumps of this, etc., but I just keep it simple with my grande hot tea with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!

However, I couldn't just leave you hanging after I gave you a teaser about baking in my last post. I am all about savoring the natural sweetness in life, and for me, baking is just that. While I don't enjoy eating baked goods, the actual act of baking and giving them to happy recipients couldn't make me happier. So until I post the recipes (which should hopefully be up by Saturday), here is a little taste of what I've been up to:

First I made Vegan "Oreo" (but really Newman O's) Cupcakes

and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

After, I used the leftover cookie dough (there is some actually inside the cupcakes!) to bake up some simple vegan chocolate chip cookies.

Today, I brought them into school for my English class to enjoy. There is nothing better than seeing people smile when they receive something you baked from your heart. It was a nice treat for my friends on what was otherwise a stressful Monday, and it truly made my heart sing to see them enjoying the fruits of my labor (of love).

Oh, and I might have also used some of the leftover frosting to make vegan chocolate chip cookie sandwiches.

Now that really is a sweet Monday! But who were the cupcakes for? Well, I guess you'll just have to wait until my next post to find out. I'll give you one hint, though: the recipients are very sweet themselves!

What was one "sweet" thing that you did today? And what is your favorite kind of cupcake?

Have a lovely day!


Saturday, November 13, 2010


I have been gone much longer than I like. I really love blogging (and blog reading!), but sometimes other things just will not stop calling my name. Trust me, when those things include papers, studying for tests, and cleaning the house, you can be sure that my MIA-status is not of my own accord. Now the papers are turned in, the tests are taken (well, except for the ones next week, but let's not talk about that now...), and the house is sparkling (temporarily), I am hear and ready to chat it up. Now let them eat cake!

...Or banana soft serve?

After last Saturday's little debacle, I decided to be nice to my teeth by eating soft foods. I am quite the fan (understatement alert) of creamy and smooth kabocha, so if nothing else, I was happy that would be on the menu. Naturally, I could have just eaten that with coconut butter allllll day long. However, I controlled myself for the sake of my orange complexion, and instead I opted for another sweet and creamy treat: banana soft serve. First, I had it au natural with strawberries.

But then I did a little experimenting. I learned an important lesson: banana soft serve's amazingness exponentially increases with the addition of a warm, gooey vegan brownie (I absolutely adore the chocolate brownie bar made by Vegan Pure N R G in this).

I think it was better than an ice cream sundae (or ice cream wednesdae haha), vegan or not. Oh my. I have no words.

Oh, and my little secret? That would be this baby:

Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Powder. It is a little pricy, but I can assure you, it is worth every penny (not to mention it is a great investment because a little goes a long way). Vanilla extract is mostly alcohol, but vanilla powder is nothing but ground vanilla beans. It smells heavenly, and the taste is almost unimaginable. I love adding it to things like oatmeal and banana soft serve to give it that little extra something.

But let's get real. I needed some veggies! Not to worry, I managed to get my mamoth-sized veggie quota filled with the help of lots of salads. A little extra steaming made for veggies that were kind to my mouth and yummy for my tummy.

Hello, Salad, old friend. I have neglected you far too much with the cold wether. But now that you are back, I know you will not be leaving any time soon.

My trick: use steamed or roasted vegetables on winter salads to make the foods warming as opposed to cooling. Choosing stimulating root veggies over more summer varieties works well, too. Eat with the seasons and your body will be better adjusted to the temperature.

I also love adding beans to salads. They are a great source of vegan protein and taste great! Don't believe me? Try making beans yourself (as opposed to eating them from a can). After deciding a few months ago to forgo canned beans, I have been cooking a lot of big batches from dried beans. In an attempt to do some fall cleaning, I am trying to use up some of my extra canned ones that I had on hand. There is no comparison! Taste and nutrition wise, dried beans win hands down!

Thanks to this lovely lady, I have had a hankering for fries lately.

...Tofu and veggie fries, that is! I used my Tofu Xpress to press my tofu, and it could not have gone better. I pressed it for only a few minutes (probably 5ish), but it still turned out extremely dense and chewy.

I simply cut my tofu and vegetables (red bell pepper, kabocha, and eggplant) into fry-like shapes, seasoning the tofu and eggplant (with paprika and garlic powder), and roasted them all at 400*F for 40 minutes (flipping halfway through).

When everything was done, I was extremely pleased, especially with the firmness of the tofu. Is it weird I almost mistook them for chicken nuggets? Not enough that I was grossed out (afterall, they did not taste like chicken---no thanks!) and could not eat them, but just enough to recognize the power of the awesome spice rub and almost miracle-working Tofu Xpress. Maybe it was more of a texture thing?

I loved this meal so much that I made it two nights in a row. For the second go-around, though, I added roasted purple cabbage to the mix. (Speaking of which, is it purple or red? I think it was called red cabbage, but it definitely looked purple to me!)

Roasting cabbage makes it so amazingly sweet and delicious. Many thanks to Sarena for inspiring me to try this. I have actually been eating it as a snack as of late because I enjoy it that much. Call me crazy, but I am serious about my veggies!

Another meal including my newly-found roasted cabbage love was this:

I served it along side vegan white bean cheeze (cheese/cheeze?) and other roasted vegetables.

I added a little water to the cheeze in order to make it more dip-able. When I warmed it up and sprinkled it with some BBQ seasoning (I could not find my smoked paprika), it was all hot and gooey. Yum!

From soft foods to salads to fries, I always seem to have a little trick up my sleeves. I think the ability to experiment and play in the kitchen is what makes cooking so much fun. And of course it is always fun to say that there is a secret ingredient or method to what we do. That is what makes grandma's cookies the best, right?

Do you have any tricks or "secrets" in cooking? 

Although vanilla powder, steaming vegetables for salads, and roasting have become standard in my kitchen, I think my favorite secret is adding love. Making food with love makes any food taste its best.

I cannot wait to show you what sweet treats have been baking in my oven this weekend. Have a lovely day!