Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting with the Times

I am trying to get with the twitter and youtubes. Today's 21st century social media device I tackled is The Facebook. Oh, did I just date myself by calling it THE facebook? Oops.

Anyways, please head over to Facebook to like Veggie with a Cause's new facebook page!

http://www.facebook.com/VeggieWithACause

Also, I know these pictures aren't the best... or really very good at all, but I thought you should know that this happened in my kitchen the other night:


I recently acquired Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and wanted to try all of the recipes ASAP, so I started with testing out S'Mores, Coconut Lime, and Peanut Butter... all in one night. Let's just say my roommates were not upset. Ok, R did get a little ornery when I didn't bake cupcakes every night this week. So demanding!




We are hosting a BBQ at our house on Sunday, for which I will be making bigger batches of these bad larries, so expect the recipes then. And perhaps some other delicacies that we treat our guests with.... until then, ci vediamo presto! And don't forget to like my facebook page!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Raw Taco Salad

Remember that raw phase I went through? Ya, i'm trying to forget it too. But sometimes I accidentally eat completely raw meals.


This was one of those nights. I had read somewhere about using walnut "taco meat,"but the post I read it in used it to be raw. I immediately closed the window and moved on with my life. Now I know I have talked about my cravings before, but the weirdest habit of mine is craving things that I have never eaten. And well, that happened. I was craving this "raw taco meat" made from walnuts. On my way home from work that day I picked up some walnuts and guacamole to adorn the rest of the salad ingredients that I already had at home.


Another element that I am going to bring into this salad is massaged kale. Every time I told someone I made a massaged kale salad, I was greeted with confused stares. But man oh man, everyone needs to hop on the massaged kale salad train. Basically, it is exactly what is sounds like: you coat it lightly with some olive oil, lemon juice (but tonight I used lime juice, since it was a taco salad), salt, and pepper and then get to massaging. You get the benefits of it being cooked almost, meaning it is much more palatable and you pre-break it down for your digestive system, but you also get the benefits of it being raw, meaning all of the precious nutrients are left untouched.

And finally, I have also been playing a lot with using peaches in savory dishes. Peach or mango or pineapple salsa? Yes, please! I also had some peaches, so onto the salad they were going.


Anyways, this raw taco salad of sorts was phenomenal and an absolute synch to throw together! Literally I was raving about the salad after every bite that I took. And then I made it for lunch each of the following days. It packs really well since you don't have to worry about the kale wilting. The salad doesn't need much of a dressing since the walnuts are flavor packed as well as the guacamole brings its Mexican goodness to the party. Raw food, you win this round... in the tastiest of ways.

Raw Kale Salad
Inspired by Roost Blog

Materials:
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup your favorite guacamole
  • 1/2 peach, diced
  • 1/8 cup red onion, diced
  • juice from 1 lime
Methods:
  1. Place walnuts, spices, soy sauce, and lime juice in a food processor and process until the walnuts take on the consistency of taco meat.
  2. Toss kale in lime juice and olive oil with a few shakes of salt and pepper and then massage, as if you were kneading dough, until kale has wilted and taken on a supple texture.
  3. To assemble: Place kale in salad bowl, top with scoop of guacamole, sprinkle walnut taco meat around, top with diced peaches and red onion, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  4. Enjoy!
    • Probably audibly. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cupcakes galore

It is the weekend (or it was while I typed out this post), and that means baking and leisure cooking. I kicked off my Saturday with this awesome Harissa spiced zucchini and tofu "frittata" and then continued on with some Chocolate Orange Ginger Cupcakes.


I know that I am going to be a little late/completely miss the cupcake bandwagon, but I made 2 batches of cupcakes this weekend, and have plans to make many more this week because I. Can. Not. Stop.  This has it's pluses and minuses. A plus is that I really enjoy baking, and I am looking forward to getting creative with cupcakes. However, I am going to Hawaii next week... so maybe eating 2+ cupcakes a day isn't an awesome pre-bathing suit plan?


I loved many things about these cupcakes. First of all, they rose so nicely and had this beautiful domed top that was perfect on its own and didn't need frosting. And I actually really don't like frosting, so I just put a smear of the recommended glaze and sprinkled on some crystalized ginger for the win. They were chic, classic, and completely delicious.


The coffee ended up being a pretty prominent flavor, so I may recommend water instead if you don't want the coffee thing going on. Also, feel free to up the orange zest and ginger for an even more in your face flavor punch. Either way, they were totally moist and fluffy and delicious and everything you want a cupcake to be. I will warn you though, I did eat maybe 4-6 of these bad boys within 24 hours of making them. Ya...


Chocolate Orange Ginger Cupcakes
Adapted from Kohler Created

Materials:
For the Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, ground up
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the Topping
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • crystalized ginger, roughly chopped 
Methods:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together all dry ingredients.
  3. Add coffee through orange juice and thoroughly mix.
  4. Slowly, while mixing, add in vinegar.
  5. The batter will foam a bit a turn white, set aside until mixture darkens again.
  6. Divide batter between 12 cupcake liners and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, cool in pan for 5 minute, and then move to cooling rack.
  8. To Decorate: Mix together the powdered sugar and orange juice until fully dissolved, brush tops of cupcakes with the glaze, and sprinkle on crystallized ginger.
  9. Enjoy!
    1. You will probably want to eat 1 or 2 immediately, you know, to test them out. 





Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

My guess is that it is that time of the summer when everyone is getting pretty sick of zucchini. When you think you can't possible find another way to use it and these little green gems are haunting your dreams.


As I was watching my zucchini plant take over my life earlier in the summer, I planned ahead. I gathered an arsenal of recipes and spaced them out throughout the summer. While many probably skip straight to the zucchini bread to use up this abundant summer time crop, I strategically decided to save it until last. And the day finally came for my first loaf of zucchini bread. I had been making chocolate zucchini cookies all summer, and have fallen in love with the combination of chocolate and zucchini. Therefore chocolate chip zucchini bread it was.


I have had a bit of a rough week, and therefore my garden was being a bit neglected (i'm sorry, garden!), but when I finally got out there the other day, I discovered this HUGE zucchini which was hiding behind some foliage. Oops.

But that is ok, because it gave me the prompt I needed to bust out this amazing zucchini bread. The timing was perfect, seeing as macho M was returning home the following day, and would most likely consume the bread. In its entirety (well, the half that our new roommate K and I didn't finish). The zucchini and applesauce means it is ├╝ber moist, the whole wheat flour gives it a hearty edge, and the chocolate chips means it is just plain delicious! Awesome A was quoted as saying "this is seriously the best thing I have ever eaten." While she was probably just being nice because I was having an awfully rough night, it was some pretty seriously good eats. So try out this twist on zucchini bread for your final zucchini harvests!


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Eating Clean Recipes

Materials:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini, squeezed and drained of extra liquid
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Methods:
  1. Grease 8x4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together almond milk and vinegar and let set for about 2 minutes, until thickened. 
  4. To the milk mixture, add the sugar, oil, applesauce, zucchini, and vanilla and stir just until moist. 
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spread batter evenly into loaf pan.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
  8. Remove and let cool.
  9. Enjoy!



Friday, August 17, 2012

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas for Mediterranean Tacos

My lab has developed this lovely tradition of a lunch club, where once or twice a week one person cooks lunch for everyone. So far our menu has ranged from a spiced wheat berry salad to Indian food to zucchini glory. And part of the reason you haven't heard from me in a couple of weeks is due to a lunch club related kitchen disaster that happened last week. I don't want to talk about it.

Ok, if you insist. I tried to make pita bread. Ended up with pita hockey pucks. I tried to made dolma. Ended up with a pile of torn grape leaves and an abundance of super tasty filling. I tried to make falafel. Ended up with a soupy unpalatable mess. I e-mailed my labmates at 9:30 after 4 hours in the kitchen telling them I hated strongly disliked them and I wasn't bringing them lunch.


But alas, I wasn't going to be defeated and I was still stuck on the idea of a Mediterranean lunch... but I decided to simplify it. I bought the hummus and some flat breads. And instead of turning the chickpeas into falafel, I decided to roast them and enjoy them in all their chickpeay glory.


Holy moly. I am going to roast chickpeas all the freaking time now. I had to do everything in my power to not eat all of them directly off of the baking sheet. It killed me to transfer the contents to a tupperware container and have to wait 18 hours to eat them. BUT, after those 18 hours... I got to smother them with garlic hummus, adorn them with fresh veggies and a squeeze of lemon juice, and wrap it all in some fluffy flat bread. And then I put it all in my mouth. And it was glorious.


I kept the flavors pretty standard Mediterranean with some cucumbers, garden fresh tomatoes, olives, red onion, mint, and lemon juice. My Danish labmate gave me a 5.3 out of 6 (silly Danish scale)... but only so that I would keep trying. This was some seriously good lunch time eating and so simple. Save your tastebuds from the work week lean cuisine monotony with these yummy Mediterranean Tacos!


 Roasted Chickpea Mediterranean Taco

Materials:
For the Roasted Chickpeas
  • 2 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • juice from 1 lime

For the Rest
  • 1 package flatbread
  • Your favorite hummus
  • 2 small cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup lettuce, torn apart
  • assorted olives
  • 1 lemon


Methods:
To make the Chickpeas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss the chickpeas with the remaining ingredients and allow to marinade for about 30 minutes.
  3. Spread out evenly in 1 layer on baking sheet and place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

To assemble the tacos
  1. Smear flatbread with hummus, top with remaining ingredients as desired, top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  2. Enjoy!



Friday, August 3, 2012

Frozen Friday: Cherry Chocolate Chip


Even though the Bay Area weather is trying desperately to convince us otherwise... it is, in fact, summer and definitely ice cream season... so it is ice cream that I bring you, as promised. Since it is Friday, and I am feeling a little less eloquent that usual (does she think she is normally eloquent? I would give it high school English capability at best)... I am going to give you my assorted thoughts on ice cream and the like in bulleted form.

- I want to master the basics of ice cream before getting too crazy. I had some charming chocolate, I did the banana business... but I still need to master a solid fruit ice cream (solid as in quality, not solid as opposed to liquid fruit... umm i'm not sure liquid fruit exists...)

- Reckless R has gone and left me for a week. It has been horrible. He is never allowed to leave again. On the bright side, he left 14 bags of cherries in the fridge to rot. Thanks R. I had it in my head all week that I was going to use these cherries to make cherry ice cream. Unfortunately, by the time I got to them... many of them were covered in a lovely white fuzz. I sort of went through and picked out the ones that were still ok. Normally, this isn't something I do... because even though I can't see it, I know that the seemingly fine cherries have mold spores on them. Yuck. But I did it, because I was dead set on cherry ice cream, and I tend to do the things that I become fixated on. It was happening.


- I made these amazing cookies earlier this week. I didn't even get to photograph them because they went that fast. But I will absolutely be making them again. They were amazing. Anyways, I had chocolate chips left over from the cookies, so the cherry ice cream just became cherry chocolate chip. This is a decision I was pleased with.


- I left work at 4 yesterday, and I was eating this ice cream by 5. In that hour, activities included (but are not limited to): cursing R for leaving so many rotten cherries, making this ice cream in its entirety, feeling bad about cursing R, cursing my drier for not drying the pants I wanted to wear last night, accepting it and just wearing wet clothes out last night, and photographing this ice cream.


- With ice cream making being so easy and quick, i'm not sure I will ever go out for ice cream again (blasphemy)! I can have homemade ice cream that is quicker than standing in line at Ici.

- This ice cream was so delicious. It was creamy and fruity and decadent. Cherry chocolate chip, i'll have some right now.


Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Material:
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped cherries
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Methods:
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a blender and blend until fully blended and it takes on a nice and solid purple color.
  2. Mix in chocolate chips.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacture's instructions (mine churned for 15 minutes).
  4. Transfer to freezer for roughly 30 min to an hour to finish firming up.
  5. Enjoy!
    • Despite the fact that you may live in SF and are currently wearing a sweater.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

BBQ Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza

Remember when I went bananas over this sauce? Well it has made another appearance in my kitchen. This past weekend my advisor kindly held a lab summer get together at his house and the theme was vegetarian, so I was stoked. Therefore being the resident vegetarian, I had to bring my A-game. I thought long and hard about what to make, and in the end decided that a BBQ pizza would be perfect: I was thinking I could cut it up into smaller pieces, making it good finger food, and I would make it interesting and vegan so that I could blow people's minds. But really, at a summer time gathering, who doesn't love BBQ sauce and pizza? 



Well, I am lucky I made it as "gourmet" as a did... because when I rolled up to the gathering in some ripped jeans and a T-Shirt, I realized it was more of a summer cocktail party than a summer BBQ (which is due to my poor reading skills, the invite never actually said BBQ). My boss had put out quite the spread of fancy hors d'oeuvres and the wine was flowing, so I snuggled my pizza in between some veggie lasagna and Vietnamese salad. 

Speaking of flowing wine, we had a friendly wine tasting competition. He had us blind taste 4 under $15 red wines. We had to identify the grape type, rate it (according to NIH guidelines), and give other general notes. Now, a couple of things you should know about me before I continue the story: 


1) I am really not a huge wine person.
2) Since moving to California, I have tried hard to become a wine person.
3) I have been wine tasting in Napa/Sonoma twice in the last 2 months alone. 
4) When I lived in Italy I could (and often did) take an entire bottle of wine to the face. 


Ok, now that we have all of that clear, I would like to proudly gloat that I WON! While I am sure a lot of it was luck, let's pretend there was a little bit of skill to it too :-). What put me over the edge to win was when he tried to sneak in a bottle of 2 buck Chuck, I just drew a big sad face on that line. So anyways, it is usually a good idea to impress your new boss with your drinking skills, right? 




But back to my cooking skills! I have made this pizza before, and enjoyed it immensely. It is a little spicy from the chipotle in the sauce, a little sweet from the sweet potatoes, and a little crispy and garden fresh from the kale. I finished it off with a cashew cream drizzle to cool down the spice and tie everything together. I thought it was great, every bite of pizza was gone, and people kept telling me they loved it (but then again, maybe they just wanted me to share my newly won bottle of wine with them ;-)). 



BBQ Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza


Materials:

  • 1 ball of your favorite pizza dough
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/4")
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 batch smoked onion and chipotle sauce
  • 1/4 cup cashew cream (but leave out the chipotle quoted in this recipe) 

Methods:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the sweet potato slices with the olive oil and give a shake of salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange sweet potato slices on baking sheet in 1 layer and roast for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
  4. Toss the chopped kale with the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Turn oven up to 450 degrees.
  6. Roll out pizza dough to about 12", and pre-bake for about 10 minutes.
  7. Spread sauce on the hot crust, neatly lay sweet potato slices, and then cover with kale.
  8. Place back in oven for about 15 minutes. 
  9. Remove from oven and drizzle with cashew cream before serving.
  10. Enjoy!
    1. Best served with friends and coworkers with a full glass of wine. Talking about science is totally optional. 

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