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.
This past weekend, while the Bear was sleeping in, I had an inkling to bake something for breakfast. I do love a good slice of coffee cake, but something about the drizzly Sunday morning made me want an ooey gooey sticky cinnamon roll like my mom used to make when I was a kid. An avid bread machine user (she used the same one for over 15 years until kaboom it exploded) she’d prep her dough the night before, have it on a time and by the time she woke up, all she’d need to do was roll out the dough, add her filling, and slice and bake the little boogers.
I’m not so advanced, especially in the bread department. But I did manage to not only veganize but also whole foodsidize this delicious breakfast classic. I was running out of coconut sugar, so I only had enough to use as my filling. The other bit was raw cane sugar, but I want to try the recipe again with all coconut sugar to get that dark, almost caramelized taste that I far prefer to the simple sweetness of regular sugar. (I do love you though, regular sugar! You’re perfect in my cake!) You might also use agave here, as I did for the caramel drizzle.
Heating the agave makes this wonderful, frothy sauce that really does taste like caramel. A pinch of salt gives it a twist and some tang. It’s the perfect alternative to the frosting my mom used to make!
Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel Drizzle
For the rolls:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw turbinado cane sugar or coconut sugar + 1 Tablespoon to activate yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the filling:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
For the salted caramel drizzle:
1/4 cup agave
3 tablespoons almond milk or vegan milk of your choice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
salt to taste
powdered sugar to sprinkle (optional)
To activate yeast, combine with 1 Tablespoon sugar and mix with warm water. Set aside and allow to foam. In a large mixing bowl, combine baking powder and soda, flour, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside. When yeast mixture is frothy on top, pour into flour mixture, then add oil. Stir to incorporate, then knead with your fingers. You might need to add a bit more flour at this step if your mixture appears too thin. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cover the entire surface with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll up into a long log. Slice into 2-3″ slices. Arrange in a greased baking dish at bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until puffy and golden. To assemble the drizzle, use a whisk combine agave and almond milk over low heat until creamy and well incorporated. Add in salt and vanilla, allow to reduce slightly, and when bubbly, drizzle over rolls immediately. (Note: I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk for my caramel drizzle. If you’re using plain vegan milk, you might want to increase the vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon)
Another lovely addition would be some fresh whipped coconut whipped cream. Don’t forget a dollop for your coffee. Heaven.
this little bandit had surgery this week//our yard (and house) were filled with wild roses//local vegan donut//Bear boots and iced coffee//the world’s peskiest rabbit//building up our record collection
Our little Stumpy Skellington got spayed on Tuesday. She’s eating lots of nasty-smelling wet cat food and snoozing in her rabbit-hole cat cave. Poor little bandit. Beans has been enjoying hopping around her new home, though we do close off more doors than we have at previous residences. Her favorite thing to do is hide under the bed the entire time she’s out instead of hopping around like she’s supposed to. Sigh, she’s the world’s peskiest rabbit. We’ve discovered a used record store just a few blocks from our house and often walk up there to spend a few dollars and walk away with as many albums. Our recently purchased record player is getting lots of use!
When I was little, my dad (an avid and very er–uh creative cook) would often make chicken cacciatore–one of his specialities. I used to think it was something that he made up until…
Oh Parks and Rec… (He also makes a really good point about eggs. Hidden animal activism? I think yes. The point about tortillas is also great.)
But Tom Haverford of all people inspired me to recreate and veganize chicken cacciatore. It tasted just like I remembered it, only better because there was no real chicken on my plate! Instead I used some chick’n soy patties and cooked up a rich sauce that tasted even fresher and more decadent than I remembered. What gives chicky catch its unique taste? A secret ingredient! Cinnamon! Cinnamon is the secret ingredient.
1 package mock chicken soy patties (4-5 patties total)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1-2 Tablespoons oil for sautéing
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
several sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 package (whole wheat) linguine
Cook linguine per package instructions. Heat oil over medium heat, then add garlic and onion. Sauté until translucent, then add mushrooms and pepper pieces. Continue to cook until the veggies become slightly tender, then add tomatoes, soy sauce, herbs, and spices. Simmer until bubbly. Add your chicky patties, cover each with sauce to submerge it, then cover pan with a lid. Lower heat, and simmer until patties are cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Place one patty and ladle a bit of sauce over a nest of noodles and serve immediately.
The Bear loved this dish and we had so much fun making it together. She was on pasta duty, while I assembled the sauce. We served our chicky catch alongside some local hydroponically grown butter crunch lettuce with my favorite vinaigrette on top. Stay tuned for that one, it’s a treasure for sure!
Trying to post and share more and more of the things I’ve made lately. For Mother’s Day, I made my mom a tiny needle book. She’s a weaver and uses hand sewing a lot to finish her work. I was really proud of the way this patternless piece turned out. Though I’m still a novice sewer and I’m barely mastering the basics, the amount of fun I have behind my little sewing machine is incredible. It’s such a cathartic activity for me to make all sorts of delightful items to wear, share, and use. Sharing my little projects is my was of giving back to the creative energy of the internet. I glean so much joy, inspiration, and motivation from looking at other people’s blogs, art, crafts, and of course there’s Pinterest, that being able to show where all that’s going is quite rewarding. Stay tuned for some more things off the sewing machine soon!
A recent trip to the farmers market left us with some of the most lovely edibles I’ve seen in a long time.
I couldn’t resist this little bunch of young broccoli greens, complete with little yellow flowers and all tied up in twine.
Another grower had some of the biggest and loveliest shiitakes I’ve ever seen. Of course several came home with us. As soon as I saw these lovelies, I knew just what I’d make…
A lovely, light, luscious pasta flavored with garlic and lemon. It’s a simple dish that allows for the farmers market finds to shine through in all of their home grown glory, while adding a little citrusy tang and some richness from the Earth Balance that coats everything. This dish has simple ingredients that yield complex tastes and really don’t need too much work from you.
Shiitake and Broccoli Rabe Pasta with Lemon Infused Butter Sauce
2 cups whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked
water for cooking pasta
2-4 Tablespoons (depending on taste) Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1 bunch broccoli rabe/greens
5 large shiitake mushrooms
juice of 1/2 lemon (save the other half to cut into wedges to squeeze on top of your finished pasta)
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
vegan cheese to garnish (0ptional)
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Roughly chop your broccoli greens, and thinly slice the mushrooms, set aside. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic and mushrooms when melted. Sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown and caramelize into crispy golden glory. Add greens, toss to incorporate. Cover with a lid and allow greens to brighten, then remove lid, add rest of butter and lemon juice. By this time, your pasta will likely be done. Drain and rinse, then return to its cooking pot. Add in mushroom/green mix and toss to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
I added some little cubes of Daiya’s jack wedge on top of each plate and included a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top. The Daiya added this creamy tangy flavor to the pasta that complimented the lemon flavor so well.
It really doesn’t get any better than this. This is absolutely one of the freshest, most delicious things we’ve eaten lately. There’s just nothing like picking out your produce, buying it directly from the person who grew it, then taking it home and immediately making something incredible with it. So undeniably spring, this dish. There’s nothing like a seasonal pasta to augment the joys of the season. In fall, I’ll take some squash for added richness–a deep dark ratatouille in winter will do just fine. Summer is all about tomatoes and basil, but lemony things are just right for spring.
This cat has been quite the character lately. Hiding in bags, under the bed, under the covers, and joining us at the table. (And yes he does have this leg through the middle of the chair in that picture…) Our kitties love their new home and show it with their playfulness and by staying near our sides often. The Wonder Rabbit is happy too. She has her own little area in my studio and gets to hop about and chase her feline siblings. We love cooking and baking together in the largest kitchen we’ve ever had. So much space, and so many wonderful things that come out of it.
I realized the other day that suddenly I’ve gotten everything I’ve dreamed about for many years. A lovely little house of my own–shared with someone I love and filled with laughter, radiance, and cats. The month of May has been about gratitude in many ways–appreciating being settled in and resting after our move and the difficult couple of months involved in it. Working, creating, cooking, and walking out in a backyard filled with clovers and wild flowers. This month has been like catching my breath after the marathon that has been the last year. So many things have happened! Several moves, finishing my degree and thesis, Boone, living in an in between state for a month until we could move into our dream home. It all left us gasping for breath at the end. May has been perfect–soft, lovely, and filled with light.
There’s something so undeniably spring about blueberries. Paired with vanilla their flavor takes on a tart decadence that’s the perfect compliment to soft, moist cake and a creamy frosting.
This cake was the perfect thing to celebrate spring. It was delicious served cold (it’s best to store in the fridge because of the Tofutti Cream Cheese in the frosting) with a hot cup of coffee as an indulgent breakfast on these warm springy days we’ve been having.
Vanilla Blueberry Cake with Dream Cheese Frosting
For the cake:
1 cup plain soy milk
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and flour your baking dish(es). (I used my large casserole dish to make a long, somewhat thin cake that would be proportionate to the amount of frosting I wanted on top, while allowing enough room for the blueberries to really shine, but you could easily make a layer cake out of this recipe.) In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, combine soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk oil, lemon juice, water, and vanilla into the soy milk mixture. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well, until there are no lumps. Pour into the prepared baking pan, then sprinkle blueberries on top of the cake batter, so that the entire surface is covered in berries. Pop into the oven and bake until a tooth pick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
Now, while your cake bakes, prepare the frosting!
Dream Cheese Frosting
1 tub Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Spread
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar, depending on desired texture and consistency
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
I let my Tofutti sit out while I prepped the cake so it would soften slightly at room temperature. Scoop Tofutti out into a large mixing bowl, and whisk in melted butter. Add in lemon juice and vanilla, then slowly begin adding the powdered sugar. I used about a cup and a half because the Bear insisted on having the frosting really taste cream cheesy, but you can use up to 2 cups, depending on how sweet and/or thick you want your frosting. Remember, you’ll be storing your cake in the fridge, and this will help with texture.
Allow cake to cool for at least 1 hour before frosting. Frost away and enjoy! You can chill your cake before eating, or dig right in! Store in the fridge (covered) for up to one week.
This frosting was fantastic, and to add to the decadence I also whipped up a can of coconut cream!
Trader Joe’s has some fantastic coconut cream that I love to use for baking and whipping. I usually chill it in the fridge over night, then scoop it out of the can and let it sit for a minute to soften.
This is when my fabulous little whisk is so very helpful! I whip it up to frothy glory (arm workout for sure!) and add just a hint of vanilla.
I used the cream on the cake and plopped a dollop in my coffee until before I knew it, it was gone!
We ate our cake right away, but I decided I like it cold much better. It’s funny how temperature impacts things like this! I never think about cold versus hot or room temperature cake, but most of the cake slices/cupcakes I purchase at bakeries and the like are from cold cases as well! Our initial cake tasting samples were garnished with a bit of fresh lemon zest and a huge dollop of coconut whipped cream, but this one I photographed in the nude to give you a good sense of what the plain cake looks like! Perhaps next time (or for the Bear’s upcoming birthday) I’ll make this cake into a layer cake. I can just imagine it topped with fresh blueberries and lemon zest…
I’m still on that baking bandwagon! Last week, I made 2 dozen muffins to eat and freeze for future breakfasts and snacks. They’re a tweaked version of the classic blueberry muffin–said muffin with a rich, dark undertone. Dark chocolate chips and the dark decadence of coconut palm sugar and whole wheat flour made these a slightly tangier version of the original.
Each muffin is topped off with a cinnamon/coconut palm sugar mixture that baked right into each muffin’s top. Paired with the ooey gooey blueberries and chocolate, it was a win-win-WIN situation.
Chocolate Chip Blueberry Muffins
For the muffins:
3 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup coconut palm sugar (or sweetener of your choice. Agave would work, but you’d need to adjust the liquid ratios)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup melted vegan butter
1 and 3/4 cups vegan milk of your choice
1 heaping cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/2-1 cup (depending on how much you like chocolate!) vegan chocolate chips
For the topping:
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl/measuring cup combine butter, vegan milk, and vanilla (and liquid sweetener if you’re using that instead of sugar). Make a crater in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in liquid ingredients. Combine, then fold in blueberries and chocolate chips. Some lumps are ok, be sure not to mix too much or your muffins will get tough! Pour into your muffin cups, then sprinkle some of the topping on each muffin, pressing it down slightly. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes.
We ate our first batch of muffins hot, right out of the oven and nestled alongside some fresh strawberries. It was the perfect spring breakfast, and I’m so excited to have an entire bag of additional muffins to enjoy in coming days!
There are so many crafty things on the internet that make my heart sing. Maybe it’s just this time of year, but inspiration is around just about every corner. I made a little baby blanket for a family friend who is expecting. It’s out of recycled chenille yarns pulled from thrifted sweaters.
It’s soft, vegan, and snuggly. Perfect for a tiny babe to be all snuggled up in.
Have you created anything lately?