Thursday, October 22, 2015

Heat Advisory Fajita Bowl

Heat Advisory Fajita Bowl

4 servings as an entree, 6-8 as a side dish

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
2 cups tightly packed fresh spinach, stems removed, chopped after measuring
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved and sliced thinly*
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 recipe Creamy Chipotle-Lime Dressing (see recipe below)
1/3 cup pepitas
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
Avocado and chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together black beans and quinoa. Top with spinach but do not stir in.

In a 12 inch iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, jalapeños and brown sugar and saute, stirring occasionally until onions become caramelized, about 10 minutes. Place hot onion mixture on top of spinach to wilt it slightly. While spinach is wilting, make dressing.

Add dressing and pepitas to the bowl and stir well to combine. Gently toss in cherry tomatoes. Serve over more spinach leaves if you like or just as it is in a bowl. You can serve immediately, but I recommend refrigerating for a few hours to let the flavors develop. I prefer this one room temperature. Garnish with avocado and cilantro if you like.

Creamy Chipotle-Lime Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegan mayo
2 chipotles in adobo sauce*
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch ground coriander

Place all ingredients in small food processor or magic bullet and blend until smooth.

* If you are a little heat sensitive, halve the amount and remove seeds.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sugar and Nice and Everything Pumpkin Spice

Fall would not be fall without a barrage of pumpkin themed everything. Last night I was at the home of a dear friend of mine for her 50th birthday party. She and her husband and many of our group of friends wait all year long for the Great Pumpkin season to come. While we don't wait in the pumpkin patch for his ornageness to show up, we do anticipate with glee the arrival of winter squash and the Dali Lama of fall food season: the pumpkin.

During the party, my lovely friend Daph and I got to chatting about restaurants, food and cooking. She shares my great passion for trying new places and recipes. It has been far too long time since my foodie spirit went into hybernation. After our conversation, I felt it begin to awaken from it's deep slumber. That and the fact that by the end of next month, I will have a beautiful newly remodeled kitchen made me want to get cooking and blogging again.

At such party, my honey mentioned not so casually that he thought it would be a great idea for me to make him his favorite Banana-Pecan Pancakes for breakfast in the morning. I knew there were no bananas to be found in the house and after a late night of wine tasting, a trip to the grocery store was not sounding at all appealing. As fate would have it, I had some pumpkin puree in the pantry and these pumpkiny nutty pancakes were born.

I want to share this profound pearl of wisdom from Linus Van Pelt of the Peanuts with you: "There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin." Linus, thank you for sharing your wisdom, as a token of my gratitude I share this Great Pumpkin inspired recipe.

The Great Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, cooled if heated or 1 tablespoon mild oil such as grapes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if you prefer toasted walnuts, feel free to toast and cool completely

In a two cup measuring cup (to save yourself an extra dirty bowl) or bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar and set aside to let curdle slightly. In another small bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and make a well in the center.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract and almond milk mixture until well combined and smooth. Pour the liquid mixture into the well in your dry ingredient and whisk with a fork. Be careful not to over mix. It's OK to have a few lumps. Fold in walnuts.

Spray a large iron skillet (or non stick skillet) with coconut oil or other neutral tasting oil. Heat over medium high heat until skillet is hot, being careful not to let it smoke. Using a 1/4 cup measure (I like to use an ice cream scoop). Drop batter onto hot pan and spread slightly using a circular motion to maintain the round shape. Cook on first side until batter starts to bubble and cakes are nicely browned. Top with a pat of Earth Balance and maple syrup. Serve immediately.

These actually freeze well. You can reheat them in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 350.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with a Giant Portobello

I have to admit, my time in the kitchen over the last year has been pretty minimal. My body and my wallet can attest to the fact that eating out has been the norm. Today I vowed to myself that I would work very hard to cook and eat at home far more often. It really doesn't take that much more time than going out if you make simple stuff, it sure costs less and I like having control over what goes in my belly. Ah kitchen of loveliness, how I have missed you so.

Fred has been a mustard fiend the past several months. He craves it and can't get enough. I thought it would be nice to make something I knew would help him get his mustard on while using up some leftover quinoa I had in the fridge. 

I don't know why, but while I was shopping yesterday, for no reason in particular, I picked up a package of Tofurkey Kielbasa. Food in the shape of links and mustard go together like peanut butter and jelly. Oh and let us not forget the perfect accompianament of caramelized onions. 

Normally I would fire up the grill and pop all of it on a bun. However, I'm trying to cut back on the bread intake, so instead of doing the bun thing, I decided to get a little more creative and use portobellos for the vessel of my creation. It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish, so this would be a great weeknight dinner. The tang and spice of the mustard is a tasty compliment to the meaty kielbasa and portobello. The caramelized onions lend a welcome hint of sweetness. 

Try this one out on your hard core tailgaters and grillers. It is a fun departure from the typical grilled sausages. I'm betting this will be a hit during football season!

Kielbasa and Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Mustard Sauce

Makes 4 Mushrooms

4 large portobello mushrooms, fins and stems removed (dice stems and set aside)
2 teaspoons tamari
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

2 vegan Kielasa, sliced in 1/4 inch half moons
1 tablespoon olive oil divided
1/2 cup yellow onions, medium dice
1 large clove garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 vegetable stock
2 tablespoons yellow mustard*
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a  9 x 13 baking dish lightly with olive oil. In a small bowl, combine tamari and olive oil. Brush thin coating of mixture on mushrooms. Place mushrooms in baking dish with a small amount of water. Cover with foil and bake for 12 minutes. Remove mushrooms from oven. Let cool enough to handle. Pour out extra liquid. 

While the mushrooms are baking, to a 10 inch non-stick or iron skillet over medium hight heat, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and kielbasa. Sauté until nicely browned, turning over one or twice to prevent burning. Set aside on a small plate. 

In the same pan over medium low heat add 1/2 tablespoon oil . Add diced mushrooms and onions and sauté until onions start to caramelize/brown slightly. Add garlic, sage, black pepper and salt. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. whisk in vegetable stock and mustard until mustard is dissolved. Add parsley and sauté for about 30 more seconds. Stir in browned kielbasa and quinoa and cook until heated through. 

Gently spoon 1/4 of the mixture into each warm portobello cap. Serve immediately or if you like a slight crunch on top, return to the oven uncovered for 5-7 minutes. Garnish with parsley leaf if desired.

It is important to note that the filling is more like a pilaf than a stuffing. 

*The quinoa filling is delicious on its own. If you decide to forgo the mushrooms, reduce the mustard to 1 tablespoon. Feel free to use spicy mustard if you are a spicy food fan. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Schnepf Farms Peaches - Peach Walnut Crisp

It seems that most years I somehow miss out on a tradition in our part of the world…the Schnepf Farm Peach Festival. It looks like I may miss out on the actual event again this year because I keep over-booking myself, but I am not missing out on some of the best peaches on the planet. This week I was given a gift of some of these luscious, succulent, sweet beauties.

I am usually kind of on the fence about peaches, but I think I have realized that this is only because I wasn't getting them fresh off of the farm. I bit into one and was amazed at how juicy and flavorful it was. It was hard for me to cook them, because they were so good in their natural nekid form. But cook them and I did. I want to share my creation with you. It's a little twist on tradition with the walnuts, but I think you will agree that this was a delicious call.

I am not always up for making things super labor intensive. Most of the recipes I found for peach cobbler required peeling the peaches. I wanted to skip the peeling for two reasons, I wanted to get this in the oven faster and I just feel the skin has to offer additional fiber and nutritional benefits. While this recipe still has plenty of sugar, I tried not to go crazy on the amount so the peaches natural sweetness would come through. The rolled oats add a nice texture as well. I hope you enjoy this wonderful peach season and give this a try!

Peach Walnut Crisp

6 servings


5 large peaches, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt


1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
5 tablespoons cold Earth Balance vegan margarine (non-hydrogenated), cut into very small cubes

1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 425 F

Toss the sliced peaches and sugar together in a medium sized bowl. Place peaches in a strainer and let sit for half hour. This will help draw some of the liquid out of the peaches so the crumble isn't goopy. Set the bowl aside.

In a clean medium sized bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. When they are well combined. Add cubed margarine and cut in with your fingers until the mixture until it is evenly mixed and crumbly.

Grab your peach mixing bowl and add peaches and remaining filling ingredients. Gently toss until it is evenly mixed. Spread the peach mixture evenly in the bottom of a 8" X 8" glass baking dish. Top evenly with crumble mixture. Then sprinkle evenly with walnut. Press walnuts into crumble.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

We ate this plain, but it would be wonderful with some vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How Did I Celebrate Pi Day? "Grand" Strawberry Pie

I kept hearing all the scuttle butt about Pi Day. I am not usually a big pie maker or baker, but I love when I have time to participate in any kind of food themed day. I figured I better get turning the oven on out of my system soon too. It's going to heat up here very quickly and I will not want to go anywhere near that stove when it is above 100 degrees. So Pi day was a tasty excuse to fire it up.

A Four Leaf Clover for St. Patty's Day

I was going to make one of Julie Hasson's no bake pies originally as I had a organic pre-made pie crust in the freezer. Then I found huge containers of fresh organic strawberries at Costco and the stage was set. I am kind of embarrassed to admit, but I have never made a strawberry pie. I decided I wanted to make a double crust baked version, but kept finding recipes for single crust non-baked version. So I kind of mixed ideas to come up with this lovely creation.

The "Grand" comes from the fact that I used fresh orange juice and orange zest from our tree for subtle flavoring. Years ago, I fell in love with the strawberry Grand Marnier flavor combination and thought it would be delicious in pie. Oh yeah, I was right. I brought the pie to a friend's house for dinner and it was demolished. Not a scrap left. I think this pie would be lovely with a nice Prosecco or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon if you are not a drinker.

"Grand" Strawberry Pie

Make One 9-inch pie

2 pounds fresh strawberries, quartered if large, halved if small (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 raw pie crust rounds (your favorite recipe, my favorite to use is the Basic Pastry Crust from Veganomicon).

Spray coconut oil (or any other neutrally flavored oil)
Sugar for sprinkling on the top crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray 9 inch pie pan with oil.

Place 5 cups fresh strawberries in a large bowl, reserving 1 cup.

In a blender, combine 1 cup strawberries, orange juice, sugar, arrowroot, zest and vanilla until smooth. Place in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until thickened, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Pour thickened mixture over fresh strawberries and stir until they are evenly coated.

Roll out one pie crust (don't forget to use flour and parchment paper to make rolling a breeze) to about 1 inch larger than the pie pan. Gently press to the bottom of pie pan. Fold edges under and pinch gently to shape edges. Spoon in Strawberry mixture. Roll out second pie crust. Using cookie cutter of your choice, cut out fun shapes and place evenly over the top of the pie. You want to cover at least 2/3 of the pie surface. As an alternative, you can make lattice. I am too impatient for that, so I cheat. Spray top pie dough with a light coating of oil. Sprinkle with a touch of additional sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the crust is slightly browned.

Remove from oven. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least three hours until completely cool before serving.

Watch it disappear!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vegan Tacos - The Interview with Jason Wyrick

Jason Wyrick was kind enough to grant me this interview months ago when he and his lovely bride were expecting their first bundle of love. I wasn't able to post it during vegan MoFo then time and motivation to blog got away from me. The book is a true treasure of information on Mexican food and more importantly Tacos. Tacos for every meal and for every taste. Tacos for breakfast, hell to the yes! Tantalizing side dishes, you know it. Oh and margaritas, si! Not to mention Jason provides tequniques and tips to make you cook like abuela (Mexican for Grandma).

Not that the interview isn't awesome enough; but to make the deal sweeter, I'm going to be giving away a copy of Vegan Tacos to one lucky amigo or amiga as the case may be. Read on, the giveaway is at the bottom of the post. Enjoy the interview and a few pictures of the mouth watering tacos I made from the book!

Tacos with Chorizo and Fresh Shiitakes in a Chipotle Tomato Stew(pg. 102)
With Wilted Chard (subbed kale) with Mojo de Ajo (pg. 199)
Crushed Red Salsa (pg. 212)

Your heath tranformation story is quite amazing. What finally made you take charge of your health and why vegan?
I'll be blunt. I used to be fat and diabetic. It was a pretty traumatizing experience. I had all the symptoms of diabetes. Joint pain, failing eyesight, spikes and crashes, having to sleep for way too long, cloudy thinking, neuropathy, and chronic infections, all by the time I was in my mid-twenties. A pretty drastic change from being a high-school athlete. The thing is, obesity and diabetes feed on themselves, so both got worse quickly. I eventually had a life-threatening infection and after being treated for it, I was told I had to take medication for the rest of my life. I thought first, I never want to go through that particularly painful treatment again, and second, it's ridiculous that I was being told to take meds and I wasn't even thirty. So I did the best thing that I could. I switched my diet after discovering Dr. John McDougall's work.
Did you go vegan cold turkey or was it a gradual shift?
I was vegan, except on Wednesdays, when I would go to my favorite restaurant and get all-you-can-eat enchiladas. After a while, I would go every other week, then once a month, and finally, I realized the enchiladas didn't taste good anymore and I felt horrible after eating them. I also learned about factory farming during that time. One day, I simply stopped eating them and then I was fully vegan.
You kicked diabetes single handedly. With so many Americans being diagnosed with diabetes and other degenerative diseases, what suggestions do you have for those who want to live a healthier lifestyle?
Make as many changes as you can, but don't make so many that you end up feeling a high level of stress about a lifestyle change. The more changes you make, the more you will want to make. Give yourself some time and don't let anyone tell you to go from 0 to 60 and make you feel bad when you can't.
If you could cook for and dine with anyone in history, who would it be and why? What would you make for them?
Heh, I have an interesting answer for that. I'd dine with Socrates and make him a meal with chiles and coffee. Maybe a chilaquile with coffee chile sauce. Coffee and chiles act as stimulants and therefor antidotes for hemlock. Once I mitigated the hemlock poison, with a fine meal I might add, I'd try to smuggle him out of Athens. A vegan meal to save one of the great philosophers of ancient Greece! Ok, it might be best not to ask me questions like this, lol.
Jason, you and I met several years ago. At the time you were the only vegan caterer in the Phoenix area. You catered both my bachelorette party and my wedding. Not only was your food incredible, but as my non-vegan friends ate it, they thought it was delicious. Have you seen a change in the vegan food scene here in Arizona? Do you have some suggestions for Phoenicians looking for good vegan friendly restaurants?
There are a few more restaurants, and a couple less. A few of the more popular ones here have problems, but I always recommend Fresh Mint to people. It's on Scottsdale and Thunderbird Road. 
I often get the question "What do we feed you people?" from friends and family. How do you handle social events as "The Vegan"?
I just make food with bold flavors and hearty textures if I am cooking for others. When serving non-vegans, you need something that cuts through all the rich foods they are used to eating. It's as simple as that.
Tell us about your new book Vegan Tacos.
This book isn't just a book about vegan tacos, it happens to be one of the most comprehensive book of authentic Mexican tacos published in English, regardless of being vegan. I love real Mexican food. It's complex, bright, bold, spicy, and soulful. A true taco encapsulates all of those aspects into a handheld bite. I went to Mexico to find as many authentic tacos as I could to bring back to the vegan community, and I found an entire book's worth of them! You'll learn about the different styles of tacos, plus Vegan Tacos has entire sections dedicated to salsas, how to make your own tortillas, and various toppings for all the taco recipes in the book.
It's also filled with historical and anthropological information because I think the story of food is fascinating. To me, it's not just what is on the plate. 

Enchilada-Style Tacos (pg.118)

You have been writing, creating and teaching for a long time. What did you find most challenging about writing a book compared to you digital publications?
Print photography is a lot more exacting than photography for digital publications. The other challenge is that once it's printed, it's set in stone. With digital publications, you can update them as needed. There are also space limitations with a physical book, although kudos to my publisher, because the book was slated to be much smaller than it ended up being, but once Vegan Heritage Press saw all the material, they upped the page count instead of cutting the content. Overall, I think digital products are more versatile and pack more information if done well, but they're not considered as legitimate as having the information printed on a page. Hence, why I switched to writing books.
I'm a lover of southwestern fare as you can probably tell by many of my blog posts. What recommendations can you make to those who do not live in the Southwest as far as finding the chiles and spices that give life and bold flavor to your recipes?
If it's a dry chile, order them from Amazon! They're not expensive and you can get big bags of dried chiles shipped right to your door. For fresh chiles, you should at least be able to find jalapenos so you can get some heat in your tacos. I travel around the country a lot teaching vegan cooking classes and it is rare that I find a place where I can't find decent Mexican ingredients.
What is your favorite recipe from Vegan Tacos?
Right now, it's the Grilled Lime Margarita with Mesquite Smoked Salt. Did I mention that there is an entire section on drinks in Vegan Tacos? Now I want to make another margarita...
What's next? Do you have another book in the works?
I do have a few more books in the works, although I can't talk about them yet. I'll be traveling around to various vegfests doing taco demos and showcasing amazing vegan Mexican food to people everywhere! I can't wait.

Thanks for the great interview Jason!

And now…the winner is…#9. Elizabeth! Congratulations. Get ready to have a delicious fiesta!

Now for what you have been drooling over! I will be giving away a copy of Vegan Tacos to one of you loyal readers. Leave a post about what you dream about having in a taco or your favorite Mexican food or spice by this Friday, March 6th by midnight MST. The winner will be drawn at random on Saturday the 7th. US only please. Muy Bueno! Good Luck! *****PLEASE MAKE SURE TO LEAVE ME A WAY TO CONTACT YOU, THANKS****

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Answer to the NFL Invasion of Phoenix - Buffalo Cauliflower - Just in Time for the Big Game

My fellow Phoenicians, if you are like me, you want to stay away from all of the craziness of the NFL fan craziness and traffic in our fair valley. I'm going to be staying close to home and making my own game day tailgating style fabulousness. If you are staying home or going to a house party for the big game, here is a twist on wings that will be sure to disappear quickly.

I've been seeing quite a few pictures of Buffalo Cauliflower floating around in cyberspace. I tried one recipe that was baked and although it was probably a fairly healthy alternative, the texture just wasn't working for me. So I decided that mine need to be fried! Yes, some days I just throw caution to the wind and fire up that pot of hot oil. I love the crunch of deep fried yumminess. You will love these crisply cruciferous nuggets of glorious Louisiana heat. You will get some fiber and antioxidants along with a little fire for the taste buds. They can be made gluten free by substituting gluten free flour. These are the perfect snack for the football or puppy bowl game.

Louisiana Heat Cauliflower Wingz

4 Servings (can double)

1/2 cup Louisianna Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional for suicide wings)

1/4 cup flour (can use rice flour for GF option)
1/4 cup non-GMO corn starch
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

1 medium head organic cauliflower, cut into approximately 1/2 - 3/4 inch florets (not too big)

Oil for frying (must be at least 1/2 inch deep in pan). Heated in an iron skillet or heavy bottomed skillet to 350.

Whisk hot sauce and olive oil in large bowl (and crushed red pepper if using). Set aside.

Whisk flour, corn starch, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, granulated onion, smoked paprika, salt together until batter is smooth. Dip cauliflower into batter, making sure to gently tap off extra batter. Note: You don't want the batter to be too think or the nuggets may not have that crispy awesomeness. Carefully place battered cauliflower into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon draining as much of the oil as possible. Add to bowl with sauce mixture. Toss to coat. Serve with your favorite ranch dressing and carrot and celery sticks.