Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lentil walnut veggie burgers

Hello, blog world! It's been awhile.

Michael and I spent 2 weeks abroad in New Zealand for a belated honeymoon and we had an amazing trip! Here are a few of my favorite photos...

Kayaking in Abel Tasman.
I was super excited about seeing the Tasman Sea!
Rainbow over Franz Josef Glacier. 
Michael and me on a pull off point on the Queen's Crowne Road between Wanaka and Queenstown.

A ripple distorts the mirror image in Doubtful Sound. 
Sunrise in Queenstown.
The Remarkables. We also saw these with a rainbow from our plane on the last day.
Everything was beautiful and I highly recommend a trip to NZ if you ever have the chance to go. We are already planning our next adventure there:)

But onto some food. When we returned all I wanted to do was eat some non-processed food. My parents were in town and we made a delicious dinner of recipes from Let Them Eat Vegan! and we sat outside and it was a wonderful spring evening. The recipe I'm sharing is Dreena's "Lentil Walnut Burgers". These burgers come together quickly once the lentils are cooked and are really savory and delicious. My beef with veggie burgers is that a lot of them try to imitate meat which just makes them taste rubbery and awkward. My favorite veggies burgers showcase the ingredients themselves and are not meat substitutes. This cookbook has a lot of wonderful options for burgers and after making almost all of them I still can't pick a favorite - they all have come out really well.

So here's the recipe:


1 Tbs olive oil (optional, omit by cooking onions and garlic with lentils)
1 1/2 c chopped onion
3 medium to large cloves garlic
1/8+1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 c cooked green lentils
1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tbs mild miso
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 c rolled or quick oats
3/4 c raw walnuts (toast to enhance the flavor)
1 c peeled and diced apple tossed with a squeeze of lemon juice

1. Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/8 tsp salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the onion has softened.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, Worcestershire sauce, miso, thyme, sage, basil, and 1/4 tsp salt and blend. When the onion mixture is ready, add this to the food processor and puree again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the oats and walnuts, and pulse a few times to break up the walnuts. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the apple and mix well.

3. At this point, you can refrigerate the mixture until ready to fry (this will make it firmer and easier to shape). To cook, take scoops of the mixture and form into patties with your hands. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat some olive oil. Add the patties, flatten gently on the pan, and fry for 6 to 9 minutes on each side, until golden and a crust has developed, flipping them over only one or twice, working in batches as needed.

Roasted butternut squash, Kale Slaw and Lentil Walnut Burger. Homemade ice cream for dessert. Yum!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jerk chickpeas

I'm procrastinating. I should be studying for my German test but I loved this recipe and wanted to share it with all of you today:) I've been meaning to make it for awhile- I love the mix of spices in jerk seasoning and also have been craving chickpeas lately. Michael was busy at work this week (and he doesn't love chickpeas) so I decided to finally make this for my lunches during the week. The original recipe is in Let Them Eat Vegan!  and Dreena shares the recipe on her blog "Plant Powered Kitchen". Here is a link to the recipe.

Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list - this dish comes together really quickly and once it's in the oven you can get the rest of your meal together. Jerk chickpeas would be really tasty over rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes, sautéed greens or stuffed into a pita or tortilla.

You can use canned chickpeas but try it at least once with home-cooked chickpeas. They have so much flavor! Cooking your own beans is really easy, it just takes some planning with the soak and cook times but it is still doable even with a busy schedule.


3-4 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice (see directions)
2 Tbs tamari (I used Bragg's liquid aminos)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves (I completely forgot to add this and it was still tasty without it)
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger root
2 large garlic cloves, grated
Few pinches red chili flakes (the more the spicier)
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
3/4-1 cup chopped or sliced red bell pepper
3/4 cup green onions, sliced (white and green portions - reserve 1-2 Tbs for serving)
2 Tbs fresh cilantro or parsley (for serving)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a baking dish (I use an 8 by 12-inch), combine all the ingredients (starting with 3 Tbs of the lime juice) except the chickpeas, red bell peppers, green onions, and cilantro. Stir until well mixed. Then add the chickpeas, red peppers and green onions and stir again.

Before stirring the sauce.
Before stirring the chickpeas, red pepper and green onion in the sauce. Pretty colors!
3. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, stir, and bake uncovered for another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring again about halfway through, until the marinade has partially absorbed into the chickpeas.

Our house smells so good right now!
4. Taste - if you'd like more tang, add another 1/2 to 1 Tbs lime juice, and stir well, along with any reserved green onions and fresh cilantro. Serve with sliced avocados and with extra squeezes of lime juice, if desired.

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm with the snow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Peanut butter banana oatmeal

A.k.a. "creamy, gooey, comforting oatmeal that's perfect on a cold morning"

I'm battling a cold and the semester is plugging along and there's snow in the forecast (finally!). That means it's time to bring back the hot breakfasts. I've been eating a lot of hot quinoa lately with a spoon of almond butter and it's been a nice way to get the day going. This morning I woke up and decided I wanted something more exciting so I went on one of my favorite blogs "Oh She Glows" and found this recipe. It's a single serving recipe but very, very filling and you can probably share it with a friend with some sliced fruit on the side. Or if you're really hungry like I was you can just about finish it up by yourself. You might not even be hungry later for elevenses or "smoko". As you can tell, I'm getting ready for our upcoming trip to New Zealand:)

Here's a link to the original recipe.

1 very ripe banana, roughly chopped
1 tsp non-dairy butter or coconut oil (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 Tbs natural peanut butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2-1 tsp chia seed (or ground flax)
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8-14 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
toppings: heaping 1/2 Tbs peanut butter, nuts, cinnamon, pure maple syrup

1. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, cook the banana and non-dairy butter or oil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Stir in 1/2 Tbs peanut butter, add the oats, chia, milk, spices and a pinch of salt. Whisk/stir well until combined.

3. Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring often for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

4. Scoop into a bowl and top with peanut butter, nuts, cinnamon and maple syrup. I used crunchy peanut butter so I didn't add any nuts because there was already a nice crunch in the mix.

On another note- yesterday was Estes' first birthday!!! We got her a new collar and she spent the day doing what every 1-year old dog does- she slept and played with her new toys.

Grandma in PA sent her this sweet card:

She kept me company while I was reading:

We've been busy lately and trying to get outside as much as possible. Last weekend we went snowshoeing and it was beautiful:

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Well, it's the weekend before classes start again. This means: filling the freezer with food to eat on busy days and nights when I have no time to even sit down for a cup of tea, let alone eat dinner. I know you are all busy too, so here's a great recipe for delicious food on the go. Tamales may take a long time to make, but future you will reap the benefits of your labor. You can freeze them and then reheat in a steamer or in the microwave. I bought the ingredients to make tamales (at least the cornhusks and masa harina) last summer with the intention of making them just for fun. That didn't happen. Don't wait to make these like I did! They're not as hard as you think, just time consuming.

I got the recipe for these is from Veganomicon and it's posted online here. I'm not sure how "authentic" it is, but I think there are probably many ways to make the traditional tamales. These are the vegan version and they're not filled with lard and cheese but trust me, they are so tasty!

Here are my changes to the original and the commenter's recipe: 

1. I doubled the entire thing. You really need a big pot and giant bowls if you want to double it but other than that it was easy.
2. I used regular beans instead of refried - I think the original calls for regular too, but you can definitely do it with refried. Keep in mind the spice and sauce mixture with the beans and veggies is pretty tangy and flavorful even with just regular beans.
3. Since I doubled the recipe, I used one can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans, just for variety.
4. The original recipe calls for a clove of garlic, minced and can you believe I ran out of fresh garlic (I know!!!) so I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder x2 instead.
5. The original calls for 1 cup of frozen corn added to the mix. I don't love corn so I just did whatever was left in a bag I already had in the fridge - about 3/4 cup for the double batch. You can definitely omit the corn or add more if you really like it.
6. I have this weird problem where I don't want to eat something if it doesn't have any green in it. I added a handful of chopped baby spinach to the other veggies in the sauté and felt much better about the whole thing.
7. I also added a diced carrot which is in the original recipe.
8. The original calls for 3 Tbs of tomato paste which I also added (6 Tbs for the double recipe).
9. I used kitchen string for most of the tamales and tried my last one with the corn husk ties. I have a blister on my finger from tying all those strings - the corn husks were more gentle on the fingers and look pretty neat. There are many ways to tie/fold these up but since it was my first time making them I just followed what the recipe said to do, tightly securing the ends with string or strips of cornhusk.

Some tips on tamale making:

1. Be patient. Put on your favorite Pandora mix and enjoy the process. Or better yet, make them with a friend or friends! This would also be a great kid activity because you can get your hands messy.
2. Feel free to experiment with the veggie/bean mix.
3. You can probably find cornhusks, masa harina corn flour and chiles in adobo sauce at your local grocery store in Colorado, or in an ethnic or specialty store.
4. A good way to test if the tamales are done steaming is to pull one out and carefully open it (caution - very hot!) and if the masa harina mixture doesn't stick to the cornhusk then it's done. If it sticks, wrap it back up and steam a bit longer, checking again when you think they might be done.

Pictures of the process and finished products:

The masa harina mixture, ready to be put into tamales. 
The cornhusks, soaking and ready to be made into tamales.
Some of the ingredients that went into the veg/bean mixture, waiting to be made into a mixture to go in tamales.
Cooking it all up. 
Looks like it's almost ready!
All the stuff is in, ready to get rolled up and tied.
The cornhusk ties. Pretty!
These guys are almost ready to go into the steamer.
A batch of  finished tamales! Success!
I did taste test one before I put the rest in the freezer but didn't snap a picture. Sorry. It was pretty tasty though! A friend recommended this site for some good sauce ideas for serving with the tamales. Also, another friend spoke of sweet tamales - with pumpkin and spices in the mix. I think this is something I'll have to experiment with in the future. Please feel free to comment with any questions. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Blueberry oat bars

What a crazy past few weeks! I was so busy staring at my computer screen and writing, writing, writing, as the semester wound down that the last thing I wanted to do was get back on here to write something else. I'm very happy to report that I've successfully finished my first semester of my program! I'm enjoying this short and much needed break by visiting with friends and family, baking stuff for the freezer, working on a knitting project, reading the Hobbit, and basically just hanging out with Estes in my pjs.

Today I left the house to pick up some groceries and something exciting happened - blueberries were on sale at Sprouts! Four packs for $5! This was hard to pass up, even though I know blueberries aren't in season. Of course I bought them and then came home to browse the web for good blueberry recipes.  I quickly found this one and decided to make it this afternoon. I like the use of oats in the recipe because it's something that would be really good for breakfast as well as for snack or dessert. Michael and I have been trying to eat more oatmeal for breakfast and sometimes the regular bowl of oats just doesn't cut it, I get bored. This morning for example, I made Dreena Burton's "Breakfast Cookies" from Let them Eat Vegan! and they definitely covered the wholesome oatmeal breakfast I was looking for but with the shape and taste of a cookie. Yum! I'm also trying to do more oat things or less flour things so I can pass along recipes to my gluten free friends! I like these blueberry bars because there is no flour, just oats and ground up oats. If you're gluten-free just make sure the oats are certified gluten-free. Anyways, here is the link to the original recipe, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. The nutritional facts won't stay the same for my version because I added and took away things - I tweaked the recipe based on the ingredients I had and didn't have at the house.

1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs cornstarch, mixed with enough water to make a smooth paste
3 cups oatmeal (regular, not instant), separated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 pack apple sauce
3 Tbs olive oil (or oil of your choice - I really like the taste of olive oil in some sweet recipes. Give it a try!)
1 tsp lemon zest
6 more Tbs agave nectar
6 Tbs water
1 more tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Oil an 8x8-inch baking pan (I think mine was 9x9 because the batter was a little bit of a stretch to fit in the pan but it worked out anyways).

2. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, agave nectar and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir in the vanilla and cornstarch mixture. Continue to stair as the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Put 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a food processor and grind it to a fine powder. Pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the remaining oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce, olive oil, agave nectar, water and vanilla, and mix well.

4. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing well to cover the  bottom of the pan. Spoon the blueberry filling over the batter, and cover the blueberries with the remaining batter. I did this with spoonful drops of the batter that I spread as I went so it stayed on top of the blueberry layer.
The white in this picture is the sun shining in from the west. Another sunny day in Colorado:)
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

You can enjoy these for teatime or for breakfast and they would also make a delicious dessert with some vanilla ice cream!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Well hello, blog world! It's been a long time! As you can probably guess I've been extremely busy with my PhD program and I haven't made the time to do any blogging (or even really a lot of cooking!) these past few months. I assure you, I'm not giving up on the blog. Just needed a break to get used to being back in school. Also, for an awkward amount of time I was only making recipes from Oh She Glows and I didn't want you guys to get sick of recipes from the same place (even though they are delicious and you should all try them anyways).

I have a  new cookbook and I'm kind of obsessed with it. It is a little on the hippier side of the hippy spectrum but by that I mean it has a lot of wonderful, whole grain and whole food "healthier" recipes. Do not let this deter you from purchasing a copy. It is a fabulous cookbook and everything I've made out of it so far has been delicious. The cookbook is Dreena Burton's "Let them eat vegan!". Really, just go out and buy it. It's one of the few cookbooks I would recommend with no hesitation. For those of you who are gluten free, nut free, and/or soy free she has a lot of recipes in the book that are friendly for you! Also, she gives a proper substitutes that would make the non-gluten/nut/soy free recipes that way. Before getting on with today's recipe, here is a list of what I've made in her cookbook: "Steel-Cut Oats in an Instant!", "Whole-Grain Chia Pancakes", "Cocoa Almond Jumbles", "Spinach Cashew Pizza Cheese Spread", "Beans 'n' Greens Soup", "Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew", "Corn Chowder Quinoa Casserole", "Festive Chickpea Tart", "Sugar-Free Chocolate Cake", "Chai Peanut Butter Ice Cream", "Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream" and maybe a few others I can't remember. I respect this cookbook because it has a substantial dessert section. Anyways, if you have any questions about it just shoot me a comment!

So the stromboli recipe doesn't come from this cookbook, but part of it does, which is why I mentioned the cookbook. I actually made this one up and I'm pretty proud of it. Sometimes, on a Friday evening, after a long week of classes, right before vacation, magic can happen in the kitchen.

I was planning on making a pizza and using up the leftover red pepper we had from something else and I thought that maybe I should do something a little more exciting. I remembered the "Spinach Cashew Pizza Cheese Spread" from Dreena Burton's cookbook and thought that it would be a good base for the pizza. Then I thought, why stop at pizza when you could make STROMBOLI?? So I did a little research and found an easy pizza dough recipe* (I wanted a dough that had to rise just to test out a new recipe, sorry mom) and a how-to stromboli recipe.

OK, here we go:

Spinach Cashew Pizza Cheese Spread recipe (from "Let them eat vegan!")
I halved the original recipe and added a few things so this is not the original recipe, just my version of it.


- 1/2 cup soaked raw cashews plus 1/4 cup soaked raw almonds, drained (soak for about an hour, that's fine)
- 1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup (packed) spinach leaves
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 - 1 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp onion powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1-2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional)
- a few spoons of tomato sauce of your choice. (I used my mom's homemade tomato sauce that was in our freezer from her last visit an we used the rest of the frozen batch for stromboli dipping)

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients until smooth. This will take a minute or two of processing, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times throughout. Once smooth, use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. With the almonds, it has almost a ricotta texture.

Stromboli recipe:

1. Get your dough ready. I made the recipe posted above and added some garlic powder, dried basil and oregano, just for extra flavor.

Dough, right before punching it down.
Estes got flour on her face awwww
2. Since the dough has to rise for an hour, get your other ingredients ready, make the spinach cashew spread and hang out until the dough is ready.

I chose caramelized onions and diced red peppers (and olives - not pictured)
The spinach cashew spread - it's not the prettiest green color but it tastes wonderful, so trust it!
3. When the dough is ready, put your pizza stone** in the oven and preheat oven to 450ºF.

4. On a floured surface, roll out/stretch the dough into a rectangle.

5. Spread the spinach cashew spread on the base, leaving a little room around the top edge. Then add your other toppings (again, we used caramelized onions, red peppers and diced olives).

6. Carefully roll up, pinching the seams and folding the sides under.

7. Place on a cornmeal-dusted pizza board (or pan if using) and brush with olive oil.

8. Pop in the oven and turn down the temperature to 400˚F.

9. Keep a close eye on the stromboli. It's done when lightly browned on top. This took us about 25 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes then cut with a serrated knife and serve with tomato sauce for dipping.

I was worried it would be too dry in the middle but it was so perfect. I promise you won't miss the cheese in this. Michael said that next to his favorite stromboli from Gettysburg High School (don't ask), this is a strong second. I'll take it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

*I used 2.5 cups white all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.
**I used a pizza stone, but you can use a regular baking pan- adjust the baking temperature and time as needed. If you have a pizza stone, definitely use that because it makes the crust nice and crispy on the outside but soft in the middle. Plus, your entire house will smell like a pizzeria and who doesn't want that!?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Testing testing

1 2 3! Just trying out a blog post from my new smart phone! I have finally evolved with technology and jumped on the smart phone bandwagon:)