Tag Archive for 'vegan'

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars & Other Musings

As I post this long overdue note, I am reminded how quickly life can change – and it has. Week One of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in my part of the world saw the initial lockdown expanded from local pockets in the Bay Area to all of California. It has us all looking for ways to stay connected. Virtual is the new every day- and respectful in-home space is a necessity for the new work and study from home evolving culture. I’ll be sharing more recipes and thoughts but for now, let’s get back to a day, not oh, so long ago when this Black Swan event wasn’t even a blip in our consciousness.

Written on January 2, 2020.

Heading into a new decade- the roaring ’20s carries with it a lot of Gatsby-esque lore. But things have changed. A lot. Not just on a personal level but as a nation. In the ’20s a nation was separated by their limited transportation or financial options. Now we are isolated by choice. By the option to do things in our own desired timeframe, creating our own moments. I am feeling a definite nostalgia for the monoculture of yore. The last decade was riddled with one word across multiple experiences- overload. Practically a sanity-endangering overload that took hold in 2000 and by 2020 manifests in a liquidity of information in excess – original content, streaming music, algorithms of your preferences served like a dessert buffet, less thinking involved and less time for shared group experiences. It’s no wonder that I now cling to things that foster a shared sense of unity in our small circles like watching The Godfather on TV at Thanksgiving, complete with annoying commercials, or trying to find a movie that we all like to watch together vs all sitting in one room, on our devices doing different things. In the last decade, it has become easier to be alone, and simultaneously feel stretched. Even despite all of the things we lost, in the rubble and ashes of our collectiveness is the interest to work together as a team. And from the ashes rise the phoenix. New things we never thought or dreamt of like mimes, podcasts and binge-watching are now creating their own communities. AI themes are becoming a reality, yet somehow shared temporality continues to exist. The world is full of change and possibility.

This last decade was not to be taken lightly on the personal front either. In it all, thanks to modern technology, I cheated death. Well, technically, I did it twice. I’ve discovered my ability to find humor, treat myself with less seriousness and that when I am stressed, I find myself in the kitchen. Simplification is my talisman. #GetWhatYouWant is my 2020 motto and the more I say it, the more it becomes true. And that is exactly what I’ve set my sights. From cars to getaways to special moments to spending time with those I adore to rediscovering fun again in my art of words and strategy. For the first time, it feels as if the sky is the limit. The culmination of life and love and dedication and persistence.

One of my constants is people. Good people make the special moments memorable, the important professional milestones less difficult / more rewarding and are IMO the true testament to who you are – your sense of humor, ability to handle stress and find your happiness. Lately, I’ve found a lot of incredible moments. This one leads to a recipe. The reader’s digest version is that in January some good things happened, and I found myself in London at a meeting in a drop-dead gorgeous spot, way too early to be having breakfast and then this unassuming ‘bar’ turned my head. I ate one and followed it with another, then sheepishly asked for the recipe. ACCESS DENIED. They did offer to let me take a few of these bars home. Then the real fun began as I attempted to deconstruct and reconstruct this magic.

These bars, filled will nuts and seeds, make a tasty snack. Toasted seeds and oatmeal give this bar extra flavor, and the addition of gingery/chocolatey goodness makes for a great blend of textures and flavors. This super easy granola bar is what says it is. Super easy, seedy and amazing! Other flaked grains like quinoa or rice flakes can be used. Substitute nuts with more seeds to make them nut-free. So many possibilities! Added bonus, these bars are both vegan and gluten-free.

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars

Ingredients

1 cup old fashioned oats, certified gluten-free if necessary

1/4 cup toasted/roasted pumpkin seeds pepitas or sunflower seeds

2 TBS sesame seeds or hemp seeds

2 TBS chia seeds

3 TBS raw cashews

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

3 TBS chopped candied ginger

pinch of salt (optional)

protein powder (optional)

1 TBS sugar (optional)

3/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate

2 tsp coconut oil

Directions

Toast the oats on a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and the color changes slightly which is approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the oats and set aside. Add the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until they start to change color; approximately 4- 5 minutes. Then add in the chia seeds and continue to toast for a minute longer; add it to the bowl with the oats.

Chop up cashews, walnuts, and candied ginger into small pieces and combine. Mix in a pinch of salt. If using protein powder, you can add it in now and mix until well combined.

In a double boiler or the same skillet over medium-low heat, add chocolate and coconut oil and continue mixing until most of the chocolate is melted. Add 1 TBS sugar if you tend to like sweeter bars. Remove from heat and continue to whisk until smooth. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Next add the toasted oats, seeds, nuts, candied ginger to the skillet.

Transfer the mixture to parchment-lined 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Using another piece of parchment on top, press the mixture down evenly.

Chillfor 15 minutes. Slice and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been in hibernation mode. Taking a planned break to just have fun cooking and spending time with people I miss engaging with regularly. I remember as a child looking at my grandparents in awe of how many friends and acquaintances they had. The list of contacts seemed endless and my daughter made a comment over the weekend that reminded me of that feeling. I understood her perspective and the sheer awe of the network.

The last few years have taught me one thing loud and clear- spend time only with those that are worth your time. Laugh and smile and make everyday fun. There is a lot we have to be grateful for…don’t waste a minute of it wishing your life could be otherwise.

When I was sick a few years ago, one of my good childhood friends was also sick. Separated by great distances I remember he called me from his hospital bed while I was in mine. We laughed and cried and while our conditions were vastly different our mindset was indeed similar. This past week, after years of only being able to connect by phone and text, we met for a coffee, a walk, and a very long talk. While our lives are incredibly different, our views on life were nearly identical.

1) Never taking one conscious moment of any day for granted; we were given a second chance. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a second chance. How we both managed to get so very lucky I’ll never know. For now, it really doesn’t matter how or why, just that it isn’t squandered.

2) Never say no to opportunity, no matter how crazy it may seem.

3) Spending time with those you enjoy.

4) Appreciating the beauty around us.

5) The fight is better than the alternative. Fight for life. You can live every day- you can only die once.

This is a recipe I played around with this past week—low in glycemic sugar, gluten-free, and just the right hint of sweet. It was the perfect sweet cheat for a few people in my life that don’t often get to indulge in sweets! Need to make it vegan? Well, that is easy as swapping in your favorite vegan butter. We joked that these cookies are practically “free”; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free (if you so choose)! Need to make them nut-free? No problem, substitute in your favorite spread.

As a connoisseur of peanut butter and jelly desserts, I’ve long been searching for a recipe that would combine peanut butter and jelly in a cookie. These cookies take their flavor cues from the lunch-box favorite or at least my version of it where chocolate is included! This thick chunky cookie is not overly sweet, and if you are a fan of the PBJ (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich then it will be a recipe you want to keep close at hand. Any jam or jelly can be substituted for raspberry.

PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/3 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter, softened

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut sugar

2 TBS almond milk

½ fresh raspberries, well mashed

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add butter, peanut butter, vanilla sugar, and milk into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is fluffy.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. And combine with peanut butter mixture by hand. Then fold in chocolate chips and raspberries.

Drop walnut-size cookies (2 TBS) onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Sweet & Spicy Simple Vegan Chili

There is a quiet Saturday morning space that I’ve discovered. I find it in the alcoves of the sun trying to push its way through the slatted blinds on a cold winter morning. The house is asleep; the neighborhood farm animals are tucked into the cozy spaces, and aside from the humming of the heater as it takes the chill out of the house, there is absence of sound.
Continue reading ‘Sweet & Spicy Simple Vegan Chili’

Lentil Soup

There are just certain facts about yourself that are known entities. For example, I’ve always hated mushy cooked carrots (unless they are sweetening up a soup). I function most effectively with everything in its place. My favorite drink is a Negroni; I refuse to pick a favorite color. Chocolate is my favorite food group. Spending time with people I enjoy is always an option. And I have a passion for photos that cannot be satiated. It’s just a fact. I love pictures; I always have. And if you were to scroll through my photo roll on my phone camera you would find that nearly 1/3 of them are food photos.
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Cherry Berry Campari Spritzer

I’ve changed

The thing about having been ill is that you do things differently, maybe not right away, but then you look back and realize that you’ve changed. I’ve changed.

You laugh harder, live larger, love more deeply, and take more chances. The focus is on living and doing so memorably. Continue reading ‘Cherry Berry Campari Spritzer’

Acquafaba Chocolate Coffee Coconut Mousse

About a week ago, I was having dinner with my family when my daughter shared a conversation that she had with one of her friends about my food blogging that was spot on. We laughed until tears streamed down our cheeks. It was a moment that still makes me laugh. Because when you explain this recipe, and well, maybe a few of my others, it fits into the category of intriguing and bizarre (and down right delicious!). Continue reading ‘Acquafaba Chocolate Coffee Coconut Mousse’

Spicy Tahini Squash Bisque

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All I want right now is comfort food, a cozy blanket and a few hours to Netflix binge on some new popular show that I haven’t had time to see. >Okay, and if I am being honest then maybe I’d like to add a swanky cocktail to this fantasy.< It makes sense I suppose, animals hibernate in the winter and store their fat, why should we miss out on all that fun? We are meant to slow down and take it easy. Continue reading ‘Spicy Tahini Squash Bisque’

Warm Chai Coconut Koloa Coffee Rum Mylk

chai mylk down shot

There is some sort of strange energy that prevails once the end of the year hits. It’s as if we think we have to somehow squeeze everything into those remaining months. It feels like a continuous time crunch with no apparent end in sight. Yet, somehow I am happy to have this experience this year. I’ll take every last bit of it. I don’t want to miss a beat. Last year I could only wish to be going to parties and seeing family and friends, so I am reminded to manage the swells of activity that exist and to find the fun in the little moments. Continue reading ‘Warm Chai Coconut Koloa Coffee Rum Mylk’

Island Guacamole

top down island guac

This island has a way of enveloping all of your senses; it is a slice of magic on the map. From the wafting sweet floral and fruity fragrances to the contrasting aroma of its salty ocean water Kaua’i captured my heart from the first moment I laid eyes on it some eight years ago. I wish I could claim that I lived here – we visit as often as is possible, as soon as we save up enough for our airplane tickets, we return with smiles on our faces.

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Red Pepper Unicorn Hummus

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I’ve been blogging since 2008 and yet it seems like I just started recipe writing yesterday. It has gone by in a blink. I never really planned on blogging. When I started this blog it was a way to promote my first cookbook. Just for fun. Years later, I can easily admit that it has been more fun than I ever expected. There are a few times that I wondered if I could maintain it, especially in the past six months. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled to post. Behind the scenes I am still on the mend; I feel great, but my stamina has not returned. There are days that I wonder if it ever will come back, but those that have gone before me assure me it is only a matter of time. >tick, tock<

Despite my lack of posting, I certainly have not stopped enjoying my love of food – whether it is my cooking or someone else’s food I remain passionate about flavors. A few months ago while at work, I ordered a mixed hummus plate for lunch. It was so delicious I couldn’t get it out of my mind. In fact, I obsessed over it. I went back and ordered it five more times. Eventually I asked to meet the chef, and told him how much I loved it. He was so pleased to know how much I relished this recipe that a smile grew across his face. While he didn’t have a recipe to give me he eagerly shared his ingredients list. I left confident that I could crack the code on this recip-mystery.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my family was invited over to our friend’s home for dinner. >Something that you may not know about me is that as much as I enjoy cooking and creating in the kitchen I ADORE when other people cook for me. It’s something special that holds a great deal of significance to me and I wanted to bring something special that I made.< After much contemplation, I decided to try to recreate this recipe. My daughter was stunned, she knows that I NEVER entertain or prepare something to serve for the first time that I have not previously tested. And yet, I wondered if perhaps this was my recipe unicorn. Despite her reminders of my prime cooking directive, I had to take a risk and make this recipe without an official test run. And I am happy to report that Red Pepper Hummus turned out spot on. I was thrilled! I still am. I can’t wait to make it again. It is just-that-good! And yes, I do think it is my recipe unicorn.

Red Pepper Unicorn Hummus

Ingredients

1 (16 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, reserve remaining oil

1 cup walnut pieces, plus 2-3 halves to use for decoration

1 TBS sugar

3-4 cloves garlic

½ lemon, juiced and seeds removed

3 cloves garlic

½ cup gluten free bread crumbs

Optional Serving Suggestions:

pita bread points

baguette slices

crackers

vegetables: cucumbers, celery or carrots

Directions

In a small pan, over medium high heat, add all of the walnuts and sugar. Stir regularly until sugar melts and nuts are coated and sugar is an amber color. Transfer from pan to a plate to cool.

In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients EXCEPT 2-3 decorative candied walnuts and blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add oil from the jarred bell peppers, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Place hummus in a decorative bowl and decorate with 3 decorative walnuts. Serve with vegetables, crackers or toast.

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