On a balmy late spring evening last week, my dear other half made me a delightful dinner. On the menu: the ever popular slider, inspired by a burger she used to make when working as a cook.
When she proposed this dish to me during our weekly pre-grocery-shopping-menu-planning session, my one stipulation was that they needed to be “healthy.” To me, this means minimally processed, with ingredients that I can pronounce and recognize, and vegetable rather than soy or gluten heavy. I think it’s both interesting and inspiring when a company uses veggies in a fresh new way. The sprouted chia and quinoa gave these little burgers a great texture and there were recognizable chunks of sweet potato in each one. We used our grill basket — a little mesh clam shell with a handle — inside our chiminaia to grill these up. If you have a real grill, I recommend using it for these! If not, perhaps the broiler or cooking them stove top to brown each side would do the trick!
This past weekend was glorious. We decided to have a picnic and went to the local Eno River. I packed a feast that included some herbed pita bread and homemade hummus, olives, veggie sticks, and my first go at home made vegan chik’n salad.
We ate our little feast on a large rock that overlooked the water.
Veganland Chik’n Salad
1 package soy chik’n patties
1 celery stalk, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Tofutti sour cream or Veganaise (I steer clear of veganaise, always hated mayonaisey things)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch dried dill
Thaw your chick’n patties (if frozen) then cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and add sour cream, mustard, celery, and herbs. Stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, in a wrap, sandwich, with crackers, or pita bread.
We definitely fought over the bowl of this stuff–it’s almost too good to share!
Our leftovers didn’t last long either! The made the perfect lunch the next day…
A rainy day off from work left us craving the warm comfort of pho. We made some a while back, and revisited the recipe, making this go round simpler while using some of the same flavors.
1 teaspoon red miso
5 cups water (4 to add to the pot, 1 to mix the miso in)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 cups frozen broccoli
1 package rice vermecelli noodles
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste
2 baby bok choys, ends removed and washed
4-6 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Toppings: 1 scallion (thinly sliced), handful fresh basil and cilantro, sriracha, soy sauce, mung bean sprouts, diced jalepeno, lime wedges
In a deep soup pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and cook onion until translucent. Add in mushrooms and sauté until softened. Add in broccoli and garlic, stir to incorporate. When the broccoli has begun to cook slightly, pour 4 cups of water into pot. In a bowl, mix miso with 1 additional cup of warm water. When contents of soup pot has begun to simmer, add in miso mixture, soy sauce, and chili paste. Soak rice noodles in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes. Lower heat and add in bok choy, place lid on pot, and allow bok choy to cook until soft but still bright green. Add in rice noodles, serve immediately with a variety of toppings.
Our pho was the perfect meal on a cool rainy spring day. The bok choy gives the perfect crunch, and the homemade broth is warm and satisfying. The mushrooms and broccoli paired with all of the garlic and onions give the broth an earthy taste, and almost silken texture on the tongue.
One of the things I love most about pho is the ability to customize your bowl as you eat. We topped our with fresh basil and cilantro, I added a squeeze of lime, and a touch of sriracha and soy sauce to finish. Maddie made us some pineapple orange and coconut rum cocktails, and it was like a little getaway in our own home. Followed by episodes of Arrested Development of course!
He had me at “Jedi-mind-trick-two-finger wave.” Brian Patton‘s hot-off-the-presses book is witty, intelligent, sharp, and hilarious. Written in menus instead of the standard chapters, Patton has created themed groupings of small dishes to consume during that all important “happy hour.” Not only are these plates brilliantly grouped and inspiringly imaginative, but each is paired with an original cocktail or other drink suggestion to maximize enjoyment.
Each of the 20 (yes 20!) menus Mr. Sexy has designed consists of 2 or 3 tapas-inspired dishes that serves 4. (or in our case, two. And we had leftovers, giving us 2 meals for the price of 1!) The menus range from “papadillas” or quesadillas with potatoes instead of vegan cheese to globally inspired menus centering around Italy, Tokyo, India, and Great Britain.
Each of Patton’s menus features fresh ingredients with “shortcut” options. Instead of making your own pizza dough for his Holy Stromboli, you can purchase your own. To prepare the Hearts of Palm Ceviche, make it in advance to shave off prep time when you’re gut wrenchingly hungry and give your ceviche more flavor. He also has a “WTF?” section to explain peculiar and rare ingredients, often including information on where and how to procure them.
Each menu has a fresh focus, highlighting and exalting vegetables while incorporating classic vegan loves like veg mozzarella and tofu. Happy Hour menus also feature lots of grilling, and the innate expectation that happy hour occurs out of doors, only after sweater season has been laid to rest for the year — each recipe is perfect for summer.
When I received my copy of Happy Hour in the mail, I had a fantastic time reading through Patton’s delightful writing and gawking at each carefully crafted menu. Together, Maddie and I decided on a menu to try: Menu #2 “Be Still, My Hearts of Palm” and make a dish (Maddie’s request) from Menu #1: “Holy Stromboli” — the stromboli of course. Another of the book’s strengths is the shopping list that goes with each menu. This makes it easy to see what ingredients you have and which ones you’ll need to buy, making it easy to decide upon a menu based on local/seasonal availability and what’s in your farmer’s market, back yard, pantry, or fridge. This wasn’t a deciding factor for us, however. I knew the second I laid eyes on it that the ceviche would be mine. Oh yes, it would be mine.
And it was FANTASTIC! I prepped it the morning before and left it in the fridge to marinate all day while we were at work. I bought some organic blue corn chips to scoop it up with, and served it with some homemade salsa and the menu’s Chile-Cilantro Garlic Bread, which was divine.
We ate our meal on the front porch, pic nic style on a blanket. To wash it down with, my partner juiced up some golden beets and oranges to make The Solid Gold, a refreshing little cocktail. The other recommendation was a Witbier, a Belgian wheat beer, and we got that too. Hard to choose which drink worked better with this menu, but if I were entertaining, I’d have both to offer for sure.
A few days later, still in a ceviche-blissed daze, we made the Holy Stromboli. The dough (I used the dough recipe in the book) was the best pizza dough I’ve ever had, let alone made myself. I loved the use of broccoli in the pizza tube, and the way the veggies complimented the ooey gooey vegan mozz inside. Cooking them before stuffing the stromboli gave the sliced onions a brilliant flavor, and made the mushrooms soft and delightful.
Each of the recipes we tried was easy to follow, well written, and had a well-proportioned dose of humor. This book is as fun and fresh as the ingredients its recipes call for — a delight to read and use. Not only does Patton supply us vegans with a fun way to spend summer evenings, but also with a food-philosophy that I find both inspiring and enthralling. The tapas-style meal is something that I’ll be sure to incorporate into our diets much more frequently — several small dishes, enjoyed slowly and luxuriously — each appreciated for its own qualities and tastes. Happy Hour is not only about the food, but about appreciating each dish and each ingredient for its individuality and unique vegan gleam. That my friends, makes for a very happy appetite.
You can purchase The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home here. To learn more about vegan chef Brian Patton, be sure to visit his website and check out his cooking videos. You can also follow him on Twitter and Instagram by searching @thesexyvegan
Squee! What’s more lovely than cake for breakfast? A cake that’s just for breakfast, that is! Fresh lemon zest and juice combine with poppy seeds in a traditional combination that makes my heart and palate sing!
I’ve always loved lemon poppy seed muffins, but thought I’d combine my adoration for coffee cake with a traditional muffin flavor combination. A quick trip to Whole Foods, a few squeezes at the citrus juicer later and…
Lemon Poppy Seed Breakfast Cake
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup coconut, date, or raw turbinado cane sugar
3/4 cup vegan milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminium free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds + more for sprinkling on top of the cake batter
In a measuring cup, mix together vegan milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle. (I used coconut milk this time, and it makes great big curdles!) In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, poppy seeds, and salt. Set aside. Add oil, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest to curdled milk, stirring to combine. Add to your dry ingredients, stirring until well incorporated. Pour into a greased baking dish, and sprinkle batter with poppy seeds. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when pressed into the cake’s center.
This cake was a surprise for the Bear, so I also bought a small cantaloupe and some vegan breakfast sausages. She was thrilled, and cooked up our soysauge into beautiful, golden brown little patties.
I also surprised her with some jam to spread atop the fresh, warm cake. Everyone knows that Bears love berries, so she was thrilled beyond belief.
I often make these types of fancy breakfasts on Saturday mornings as I always wake up earlier than Maddie. (talk about a cranky, sleeping Bear!) By the time I’ve had enough coffee and blog reading time to function at a normal human level, it’s the perfect time to make a funky little brunch. There was something so perfectly spring about this one.
I used my new sewing table for the first time tonight. It’s heavenly. The perfect size and height, and for the first time ever, I’m not cutting fabric on the floor. It feels so adult of me, somehow. This past weekend, we ventured to the biggest global foods market I’ve ever seen. I was so enchanted by most of the things there–the noodle aisle especially. We came home with several different types. Then ordered out for dinner and got cocktails while we waited–mine was a lemony wonder and my first taste of limoncello. A recent trip to the thrift store yielded a lovely skirt that I hemmed to just above the knee, along with the idea to alter another I haven’t often worn. The fabrics are so rich and tantalizing–they’ll serve was islands of cool in the impending summer heat. On Memorial Day, we planted little rainbow chard plants, watered each one, then sprinkled them with diatomaceous earth to keep the buggies at bay. They look so odd out in the garden, as if a miniature snow storm has landed on each tiny plant. I’m thrilled to see what the season holds for these little boogers, as well as for the four tomato plants we put in the ground. They’re each flowering with those sweet, downward faced little yellow blooms that seem to whisper of large, ripe tomatoes to come. I can hardly wait for what the garden holds…
It’s verging on Summer in Durham. Everything is a bright, radiant green and leaves abound in every nook and cranny of the yard. I think we’ll plant today–chard and tomatoes. I’m over the moon to have those raised beds out there, and have high hopes for what will come from them. I finally got a big, sturdy table for the studio! Now sewing will be easier than ever–no more lugging my Singer around the house and coordinating how many board games I need to stack under it so it’s at the right height.
The light in that room is incredible. An artist’s dream, especially after the cavernous darkness of the loft studio we had in the mountains. For once, this little room has but one purpose–to foster my creativity and serve as a happy space for me to putz around and create. The opportunities are so endless that I’m almost intimidated to start. I feel that I’ll need to get organized–make lists and write things down, think of upcoming birthdays (the Bear’s for sure) and holidays (father’s day) and who will receive what gift–but that almost seems too fussy. The Bear’s brother’s partner requested a change purse, and I’m dreaming up cute ideas for one. I’m also pondering over this week’s menu.
I received a review copy of a new vegan cookbook in the mail (review coming soon!) and am loving going through it and deciding what menu we’ll make. The possibilities seem endless this time of year. So many ideas and potential, so many different foods circulating the farmer’s market scene, and the perfect weather to eat them outside.
What’s more delightful than a powdery outside and a limey shortbread cookie interior? Not much! I had such a great time making these cookies! They sing of summer and give off that key lime pie-like tang with out the pie of course!
I made these “thumbprint” cookies by rolling them into a ball, dusting them with powdered sugar, and pressing them down with my thumb.
The recipe is simple, and agave sweetened, leaving a honey-like glow in place of the usual sugar. The fresh lime makes them taste so light and airy, and the sugar coating just adds the right hint of sweetness.
Key Lime Thumbprint cookies
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup raw agave
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil or melted Earth Balance
1/4 cup nut milk
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, combine four and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine agave, nut milk, lime juice and zest, oil, and vanilla. Slowly add to the dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms. (You might also want to use your hands to help the dough form) Form into balls roughly the size of a walnut, then roll each in powdered sugar. Use your thumb to flatten each and make an indentation in the middle. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool and serve immediately, or store in an air tight container for up to 5 days.
These summery little cookies are sure to please! They’d taste great with some iced tea or even a fresh summer cocktail.
Remember my cat fabric? Well! This is what happened to some of it!
An avid crocheter with many hooks, but no place to keep them, I’ve been through all the stages of losing, misplacing, find after the fact, and hunting for hooks imaginable. While putzing around on a sewing and craft blog, I saw a photo of a similar but much larger hook holder and decided to make one of my own!
Did I mention the cat fabric?
There are THREE KINDS OF CAT FABRIC.
Heaven. I loved the classic Victorian-inspired florals juxtaposed with kitties. It’s my dream in three prints.
There’s a little tie to keep it closed!
And something about all my hooks in a row just makes me smile…
Oh little artichoke, how I do love thee. I’ve always adored this little flowers, from their taste when encased in oil and eaten right out of the jar, atop a pizza, on some pasta… there’s just something so quintessentially summer about these little gems. I love their French translation perhaps even more than I love the English spelling, l’artichaut.
One hefty little artichoke made our day recently when we steamed it up and ate it petal by petal. It was so lovely to see how this little flower changed as we ate our way to its center. From spiky scales to soft fluff and fuchsia-kissed center, it was just as beautiful to behold as it was delicious to eat.
I was so inspired by this post, that I simply couldn’t wait to get my paws on a little green flower of my own. The step by step instructions and photos finally made eating an artichoke (fresh! Not from the can/jar this time, though they’re lovely.) easy. I remember growing these as a child living all tucked away in the mountains. The plants are fantastic looking.
The leaves are a silvery green and watching an artichoke form is just like watching a rose bud open–breathtaking and magical at the same time! I remember eating steamed artichokes and dipping the leaves in a rich, warm, butter sauce. To go along with our little artichoke, I recreated the sauce using Earth Balance and fresh herbs.
Butter Herb Sauce for Artichokes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Earth Balance, or vegan butter of your choice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, sage, oregano, and/or basil (I just used parsley)
Melt the Earth Balance over low heat. Add garlic and herbs. Stirring occasionally, allow everything to meld together until garlic is golden and parsley is slightly crunchy. Pour into a small dipping bowl and serve immediately with your freshly steamed artichoke.
I stuffed slices of fresh garlic in between many of the leaves, and squeezed half a lemon on top. This really helped with flavor and made the artichoke so tender and divine.
Heaven on a plate. This was a perfect appetizer for two. It was like a perfect first date, peeling off those leaves, and dividing the artichoke heart to share together. We also feasted on some of the most decadent olives from the Whole Foods olive bar and some flat bread dipped in apple infused balsamic and oil, sprinkled with herbs. This is what summer is all about for me–enjoying the earth’s bounty, lots of olives, and lots of fresh food eaten slowly and luxuriously.