Watermelon You Waiting For?

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Hi, friends!  It’s been a coon’s age since I’ve written a post, but now that the whole graduate school thing is over, I have a little more time to do the things I used to do enjoying, like making fancy food and taking pictures of it.  I was elated when I found a discount watermelon at the co-op, and could not to make one of my favorite summertime treats when I saw it:  watermelon gazpacho!  This recipe showcases all the bounty of summer and warm soil, namely the sweet heirloom tomatoes, the bold basil, the spicy garlic, all elevated by a little salt and the tang of lime.  The amounts of all the ingredients are simply a guideline.  Feel free to experiment to please your particular palate.  Enjoy!  

Watermelon Gazpacho:

Serves 8-10

  • 1 small sugar baby watermelon (or 5 c. watermelon puree)
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes (or 4 c. tomato puree)
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 c. loosely packed basil
  • 1 c. lime juice
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked pepper 

1)  Put all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend to desired consistency.  

2)  Enjoy!  

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Spring has Stung!

Ahh…Springtime in the Northwest…Aside from asparagus and strawberries that will soon grace your plates, there are also treasures to find in the fields and forests during spring.  I’m talking about foraged delights such as morels and stinging nettles!  Stinging nettles are not only absolutely delectable, but they’re also chockfull of protein, vitamins A & C, potassium, calcium, manganese, and iron!  They taste similar to spinach for those of you poor souls who have not tried them (yet).  PLEASE wear gloves when harvesting and preparing them as they, as the name implies, sting.  Stinging nettles have little hollow barbs full of irritating chemicals that will give you a stinging burning sensation that will last for days.  (I speak from experience!)  Here is a recipe that celebrates the stinging nettle.  HAPPY SPRING!

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Stinging Nettle Fritters:  

Makes 6-8 small fritters

  • 1 1/2 cup of stinging nettles, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp – 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp lemon balm
  • 1/2 tsp lovage
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Olive oil

1) In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water.  Set aside.

2)  In a medium sized bowl, mix nettles, herbs and spices, and salt.

3)  Add flax meal mixture.

4)  Mix in flour.

5)  In a skillet over medium with about 1/4″ of oil, (skillet is ready when small bit of batter bubbles when added to the hot oil) add fritters by heaping tablespoons and flatten with spatula, flipping until golden brown on each side.

6)  Cool on rack.

7)  Enjoy!

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The Seaweed’s Always Greener

For some strange reason, I began craving seafood when I became vegan, although I wasn’t really big on seafood in the first place.  (NO. It’s not because I’m vitamin and mineral deficient.)  I found seaweed quells my craving.  Down by the shore in Joisey, and I’m sure in a lot of other seaside places, “surf tacos” (fish tacos) are ubiquitous.  This is what I imagine a surf taco would taste like, without all that fish!  I know the ingredients are pretty non-seasonal, but the half-off damaged produce bin was bumpin’ at the co-op!

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Seaweed Sliders with Mango Lime Salsa:

(Makes about 10 sliders)

  • 1 12 oz package of tempeh
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, roasted
  • 1/2 cup of pistachio, finely chopped & roasted
  • 1/4 cup dulse
  • 2 Tbsp berbere (make your own here if you can’t find it, but use berbere peppers if possible)
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 2 Tbsp white miso
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste

1)  In a bowl, finely crumble the tempeh into small pieces (I used a potato masher).  Add water and flaxmeal until a wet mixture, that looks like something you could form burgers with, forms.

2)  Add remaining ingredients and mix very well (You don’t want any pockets of decidedly tangy or salty ingredients to remain!).

3)  Form into patties using a 1/4 cup of mixture in each patty.

4)  Place patties on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, (flipping the sliders halfway through) in a 350 deg F oven, until each side is lightly browned.

Mango Salsa:

1 ataulfo mango, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

2 small Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

2 green onions, finely chopped

2-3 Tbsp finely chopped onion

1 jalapeño, finely chopped

Juice of one lime

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Cilantro (optional), to taste

1) Chop all ingredients and combine in a small bowl.  Easy, breezy!

Truly Crunchy-Granola Type

Are you sick of spending $4 or $5 per pound of granola from your local bulk section?  Have you ever tried making your own?  It’s soo easy and you can fill it with whatever your heart (& your stomach) desires!  This granola is more like a template, so feel free to add or leave out whatever you’d like from this recipe.  This makes A LOT of granola, so you might want to make only half, but you’ll be set on breakfast for a while if you make it all at once.  Enjoy!

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Hemp Cherry Nut Granola:

  • 10 cup of oats
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 c. maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1-2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup tart cherries
  • 1/2 roughly chopped shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

1)  Mix maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, flax meal together in a small bowl set aside.

2)  In a large bowl, mix oats, salt, coconut, fruit, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, and orange zest in a small bowl.

3)  Add liquid mixture from the small bowl to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix until well-combined.

3)  Bake in batches, spreading each batch out evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 25 minutes in a 300 deg F oven.

4)  Cool on baking sheet before transferring to containers.

5)  Enjoy and be thankful you won’t be ripped off by the granola in your local bulk section!

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Bananarama!

What happens when to Jersey gals get together on a Friday night and bake rather than go out to see the goings on of First Friday?  Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut cake!  I’ve had a lovely week of seeing a few friends amid my homework-, meeting-, interview-filled Spring “Break.”  One of the best things about seeing friends and cooking is getting out of whatever rut you’ve been in with your cooking as I did this week.  One friend showed me how to make a lime, tamari, ginger, garlic, olive oil, maple marinade.  We combined this with sweet potatoes, leeks, shallots, kale, and onions and threw it over some quinoa and ohh my goodness!  My friend Kim came over tonight and brought some ingredients and I used whatever I had. With our powers combined, we had tofu scramble, cabbage soup, sweet potato fries, and banana chocolate chip walnut cake!  I’m not sure how long it took to bake this cake as I sort of lost track, but I would say between 30-40 minutes will do.    Enjoy!

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Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Cake with Chocolate Icing

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 banana, mashed

3/4 cup oil

1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water

1 1/2 – 2 inch piece of vanilla bean, or 1-2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 cup coconut milk beverage

1/4 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips, depending on your preference

1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, depending on your preference

1)  In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

2)  In a small bowl, add lemon juice and coconut milk beverage and mix until curdled.  Add  oil, brown sugar, vanilla bean (cut lengthwise and scrape out black grainy stuff into bowl) or vanilla extract, flax meal mixture, and mashed banana.  Mix until well-combined.

3)  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no lumps remain.

4)  Add to a greased and floured 9″ round cake pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (or until sharp knife inserted into center of cake comes out clean) in 350°F pre-heated oven.

Icing:

Not positive of ratios, but I think it was something like this:

1 1/2-2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 – 1 cup cocoa powder

3 Tbsp Earth Balance, softened

2 Tbsp coconut milk beverage – start with 2 Tbsp, add more if need be

1 tsp vanilla

I often forget to write things down when I make them, but I think this is about right.  I will correct this soon!

I Wanna Live With a Cinnamon [Bun] Girl

You would be happy for the rest of your life!  Neil Young would agree.  One of my favorite fans noticed I haven’t posted in some time…Sorry, friends, I have been piled with graduate schoolwork lately!    I hope you find this post (& its title) satisfactory, J.  🙂

This is the first time I’ve impromptu’d with yeast breads and I’d say it was a success.  These big ol’ buns were for a birthday brunch of a dear friend of mine.  Happy Birthday, Kim!  The cinnamon filling was a bit thin, so I’m upping the amount in the recipe.  Let me know if it works!  I also didn’t have any vanilla extract, so add it where you see fit.  Also, Happy Spring, everyone!  It’s (almost) warm enough to not wear long underwear here in MT!  Happy baking!

IMG_3202Cinnamon Buns!

Makes 10 buns

Dough

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, cold
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 6 Tbsp of warm water (110 – 115 °F) + 1  Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups “milk” (I used coconut milk)
  • 6 Tbsp of warm water (110 – 115 °F) + 1  Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Filling:

  • 2-3 Tsp of  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 Earth Balance

1)  “Proof” the yeast, to make sure it’s active.  In a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp sugar and 6 Tbsp warm water until sugar is dissolved.  Add yeast and set aside for 10 minutes.  If the yeast mixture is foamy and has a head like a good beer, it’s good!

2)  In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and Earth Balance.  With a pastry cutter (or your hands), cut the cold Earth Balance into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.

3)  In a medium bowl, add flax meal, milk, and 1/2 cup sugar.

4)  Add yeast mixture, once done proofing, to large bowl of flour mixture.

5)  Add medium bowl of milk mixture to large bowl of flour mixture.

6)  Mix until just combined.  A slightly sticky dough will form.  DO NOT OVERMIX.

7)  Cover bowl with clean towel and set in warm, draft-free area, and let rise for about an hour, until doubled in bulk.  Make filling in meantime.

8)  To make filling, melt Earth Balance over low heat.  Add sugar and cinnamon and sugar and whisk until combined.

2)  Remove from heat and set aside.  Back to the dough!

8)  Punch dough down and transfer to floured surface.

9)  Knead dough just until workable (DO NOT OVERKNEAD) and no longer sticks to the work surface or your hands.

10)  Divide dough in two heaps.  Set one heap aside.

11)  Make each head into a long rectangle.

12)  Spread filling on dough and roll lengthwise and pinch the edges where one end of the dough meets the other in the last roll as to not let the filling spill out.

13)  Cut log of dough into 5 equal pieces

14)  Repeat with other heap of dough.

15)  Place buns into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan (it’s okay if the buns touch, they will).

16)  Bake in 350 °F oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Icing:

  • 1/2 cup “cream cheese”, softened
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I just used a piece of vanilla bean)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

1)  Beat cream cheese and Earth Balance until smooth.

2)  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth, a glaze that’s ideal for drizzling over buns should form.

3)  Drizzle over cool or slightly warm buns.

ENJOY!

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Wrap your truffles in dreams…

These truffles ARE dreams and…you can eat them for breakfast!  These little numbers are packed full of protein, good fats, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and just a tiny touch of sweetness that will keep you satisfied for hours without a sugar crash.  This recipe is partly inspired by the delicious carob-almond butter squares I used to get at Whole Earth Center, a wonderful natural foods grocer in Princeton, New Jersey, when I lived in that area.  It is also partly inspired by the brief time I followed the raw diet and often made coconut haystacks from raw chef Matt Amsden’s book, RAWvolution.  Mmm.  Get creative with this recipe!  Perhaps add some slivered almonds, and a bit of fresh orange peel if you want to make these for a fancy dessert?  Dust these babies in a bit of smoked salt, chili, and cocoa powder?  Have fun!  Yum.

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Breakfast Truffles!

Makes 16 truffles – serves 4

Ingredients:  

–  1/4 cup cocoa powder

– 1/4 cup carob powder

– 1/4 cup peanut butter

– 1/4 sunflower butter

– 1/4 cup coconut oil

– 1/4 cup flax seed meal

– 2 tbsp water

– 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

– 2 cups of rolled oats

– pinch of salt, or to taste

– cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

1)  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended.

2)  Make each truffle by rolling two tablespoons of mixture into a ball.

3)  Optional:  In a small bowl with a bit of cocoa powder, roll truffles lightly until coated.

4)  Chill until firm.

5)  Enjoy!