Chickpea, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

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I love soup in the winter. I also love it in spring or summer. I’m a huge soup fan. I used to eat at panera bread really often and order the “you pick two” with a bacon turkey bravo and a bowl of the chicken and wild rice soup. Then I moved to Okinawa, went vegan, and making a veganized version has been on my to-do list. So the other day when my husband offered to make dinner, I have him a list of instructions and ingredients and sent him off to do the dirty work. The end result? Magic. In my opinion this is better than the panera bread soup. It certainly has more nutritional value, and no animals were harmed! Take notes, Panera Bread!

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Ingredients
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 &1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil

3/4 cup of cashews
1 cup of water (seperate from boiling water)

1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of cooked wild rice

Instructions:
Firstly, cook your rice according to the package instructions. I personally used Bobs red mill wild & brown rice mix.

Next, lightly sauté the carrots and celery in the oil for about five minutes. Then add the broth, seasonings and the rest of the veggies. Leave it to cook on medium heat.

While the soup is cooking, add your cashews to a small pot full of water and boil for about 20 minutes. After the time is up, strain the nuts and add them to a blender with 1 cup of water. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to the soup.

Add the rice and chickpeas to the soup and heat through. Serve immediately. I recommend eating this with some garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Vegan Monster Cookies

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My mom makes the BEST monster cookies. I decided to do my best to recreate her cookies vegan style, and I think I did a pretty bang-up job of it. Sadly vegan M&M’s don’t exist yet but when they do, I’ll be adding them to the recipe!

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
1/4 cup organic white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 flax egg (1TBS flax meal mixed with 3 TBS water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees and grease a baking sheet.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add in the peanut butter, flax egg, and vanilla and mix. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl and add the baking soda and then add in the flour 1/4 cup at a time, mix in the baking soda and flour. Using your spatula to mix in the quick oats and chocolate chips.

Rolls balls of dough about the size of a golfball onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork or spatula.

Bake them for 13 minutes, or until the edges are browned and crisp.

Enjoy!

Vegan fried fish & mango avocado salsa

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Lately I’ve been using a lot of nori. I love nori. Nori is the reason for that ocean-y taste of fish. So it’s perfect in imitating that same flavor without actually eating fish. And I know some people think tofu is gross, but if you treat it correctly it’s going to be your best friend. As a vegan self-taught home cook, I’m pretty well versed in the ways of tofu. I’ve used it to make scrambled “eggs”, vegan fish, nuggets, “turkey” thanksgiving roast, cheesecake, creamy soups, and more. Tofu is your friend. Don’t be grossed out by it, embrace the versatility!

Tofu fried “fish”
Feeds 2, but can be doubled easily
Ingredients
1/2 of a 14oz block of tofu, drained
Nori sheets

2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable or any other mild oil

1/8 cup flour

1/4 cup soy milk

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions
Drain the water from the tofu package.
Sliced tofu width wise into 1/2 inch slices. Since I make this for two people I make four or five slices and save the other half of the tofu block in the fridge for another recipe (usually tofu scramble). Press the slices of tofu between two clean towels with something very heavy on top, such as multiple cookbooks or a large glass casserole dish. Press for at least 30 minutes, or as long as four hours.

Cut the nori sheets into strips to fit one side of each tofu strip and press until the nori sticks to the strips. You don’t need to have nori on both sides of the tofu. One is enough to get the fish effect.

Mix your seasonings/soy sauce/oil in a shallow bowl. It will turn into sort of a paste. Coat each tofu strip in about 1 teaspoon of the paste, then set the strips aside. There will be excess paste when you are finished. Add the 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk to the excess and mix.

Dust each strip with flour. You probably won’t use all of the 1/8 cup, and that’s fine. Just dust them, not fully cover them.

Dip strips in the paste/milk mixture, then coat them in panko (it’s easiest to have your panko in a bowl and make a factory line, so to speak. Dust with flour, milk marinade, panko). Make sure they are evenly coated.

Once all strips are coated, fry them in a pan with about 1/2 inch of oil on the bottom. Fry about three minutes on each side, until golden brown but do your best not to burn them. I always make my husband do the frying for me. I’m terrible at it.

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Serve these puppies up with vegan spicy tartar sauce and mango avocado salsa. Recipes below!

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Spicy tartar sauce
Makes about 1/4 cup
Ingredients
1/4 cup plain vegan mayo (or cashews that have soaked overnight and then been whipped up in a blender)
Juice and zest of 1/2 a large lemon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder or girly minced white onion

Mango and avocado salsa
Makes about 1&1/4 cups
Ingredients
1/2 of a large ripe mango, diced
1 medium avocado, diced
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon finely minced white onion
Juice and zest of half a lime or lemon

Voila! I serve all of this up together over some brown rice in a bowl for myself, while my husband prefers his taco-style. It’s good no matter how you do it. Try it out! And thanks for reading!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

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Vegan fudge. What a concept! I remember looking at the different kinds of overpriced fudge at Disney and begging my mom to buy it for me. There were so many different kinds! My favorite was always chocolate peanut butter. So since going vegan it’s been my mission to recreate things I loved in my non-veg days into cruelty free treats that make me both fat and nostalgic.

Ingredients
1 cup canned coconut milk, chilled
3 cups carob or vegan chocolate chips. I used a mix of both.
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons sea salt
Kosher salt for topping (optional)

Instructions
In a sauce pan bring the coconut milk to a low boil on medium heat. Add the carob/chocolate chips one cup at a time. Stir in peanut butter, sea salt and vanilla. Turn off the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Sift your powdered sugar into a bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix together using a hand mixer.

Once smooth, pour the mixture into a 8×8 dish coated with wax paper or tin foil. Sprinkle with kosher salt if desired. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

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Deconstructed Vegan Sushi Bowl

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I’ve tried to make sushi. I even took a class with my husband last year. But when I try to do it at home… Failure.

My favorite kind of food to make is bowls. Bowls of a bunch of different things thrown together. This is perfect for the kind of person who wants to eat sushi but is a sushi rolling failure like myself.

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That’s about as fancy as my sushi abilities will ever get. So, without any more rambling, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
2 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon mirin
*see note if you’re unable to find the rice ingredients

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar or sugar
1 clove of minced garlic

1 medium avocado, cut in half and then sliced thinly
1/4 cup sprouts
3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 sheet of nori, cut into thin strips
Other optional additions: carrot, cucumber, tofu, cabbage, eggplant

*NOTE- You can make the rice without the vinegar and other ingredients, but keep in mind it won’t taste like sushi rice. It’ll still be delicious if you add some salt though.

Instructions
Cook your rice first and set it aside to cool, it needs to be room temperature when the food comes together.

In a small sauce pan mix together the vinegar, salt, mirin, and sugar. Cook on medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cut up your veggies. I like to use avocado, tomato, sprouts, and add some tofu. But I’ve listed other options for you as well. Anyway you go, it’ll be delicious.

When that’s done, whisk together the soy sauce, garlic and agave in a small bowl. Set aside.

Mix together rice and the vinegar mixture. When thoroughly mixed, divide equally between two bowls. Drizzle the soy sauce mixture on top. Then pile on your veggies and nori. You can also top the whole thing with sesame seeds, which I totally forgot to do.

Enjoy!

Spicy yellow veggie curry

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Happy Monday from Japan! Today I have a curry recipe for you that stems from the woman who makes the best curry on the island, Kiwa from dechibica. Kiwa and I have become friends in my time here. I often bring her baked goods from home and she gives me gifts as well. One of her gifts that she gave me is a bottle of vegan curry paste, and a recipe of how to use it. She is truly the kindest, most generous person I have met here in Okinawa. I cherish her friendship and every gift she gives me.

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My husband LOVES when I make this recipe. It’s his new favorite. I make a delicious curried sweet potato soup, and it’s delicious. But this is his new favorite. And I think it’s mine too. He’s thankful for Kiwa as well, since it’s really her recipe. She’s like the culinary Dumbledore. One of her curries takes TWO DAYS to make. She impresses me with her skill and the depth of flavor her food has. So I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted this curry I made at home and was just as taken back by the deliciousness. Isn’t it fun being in awe of your own food?

Since I don’t always have a jar of the curry paste she buys on hand, I’ve learned to make my own in a pinch that mimics the one Kiwa gave me. I don’t even know the name of the one she gave me, honestly.

If you haven’t tried curry, today is a great time to start! Mondays are usually everyone’s least favorite day of the week, so I recommend making this your Monday meal. That way you have something delicious and comforting to look forward to.

Spicy yellow curry
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are. We always have leftovers.

Curry paste ingredients
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Curried potato ingredients
1 large white potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons oil
1 & 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion powder

Everything else
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms of choice, I use Enoki mushrooms
1 carrot, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
Soy sauce, to taste

Brown or white rice, or quinoa, for serving

Instructions
In a small bowl, mix curry paste ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

Mix together the ingredients for the curried potatoes. Bake at 450 on a greased baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Sauté the veggies in the coconut oil on medium heat. Sauté until they are cooked through but still have a bit of a bite to them, you don’t want mushy veggies. That’s sissy stuff. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to medium high. Once it’s bubbling rapidly, remove from the heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon.

Serve the curry on top of your grain (or pseudo-grain) of choice, and top with the curried potatoes.

The next day take the left overs to work and watch your coworkers stare at your food in envy.

Enjoy!

Chocolate peanut butter thumbprints

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I’ve seen lots of recipes on Pinterest for things made from black beans instead of flour. I am not a huge fan of black beans. I eat them, but I don’t actually like them. So I set out to use them as a dessert, and mask the flavor with the things that are most delicious in the world- chocolate and peanut butter. The end result? A crazy delicious cookie that is not at all black bean ish.

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Ingredients for the cookies
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
7 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of ground golden flax seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons non dairy milk (I used vanilla soy)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for the chocolate center
1/3 cup of non dairy chocolate pieces (I use Enjoy Life brand)
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the black beans and melted coconut oil in a bowl and mash with a fork until they become a purée. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spatula or with your hands. Separate the dough into ten equal pieces. Shape the cookies with your hands, and make a small dent in the middle for the chocolate to go in later. I used the back of my teaspoon to make uniform dents in all of the cookies, but you can use your thumb (which is why these cookies are normally referred to as thumbprints). Line the cookies up on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes. No longer than 13 minutes, or they will burn. Let cook on a wire cooling rack or, if you don’t have one, a pizza pan with holes on the bottom works well too. If you can tell, that’s what I did. While they’re cooking, microwave the chocolate, salt and coconut oil for about half of a minute. Mix until smooth. Using a spoon, drop some of the chocolate into the dent of each cookie. Let sit for a few hours until the chocolate hardens. And that’s it! They are delicious and healthy, and I ate 9 of them in the past 36 hours. Ah, gluttony. Enjoy!