August 22, 2012

Blueberry Oat Bars

Bars are a big deal at our house. We love them and we go through a ton of them every week. Honestly, I don't try very hard to make my own, even though I KNOW how much better homemade tastes. In any case, I am inspired now with blueberry season here and my parents' enormous blueberry bushes to make bars. Blueberry bars. These were a big hit and are low in sugar (I skipped the strudel top) and high in energy (oats and almonds!). Jaden thought it was cake, but then, he's always looking for cake and ice cream lately. These are perfect for breakfast, for afternoon snacking, or dessert.

Makes about 12 bars
Good for about 3 days if sealed in a container.

  • 2 cups oat flour (you can make this by processing oats in the food processor). 
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almonds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large banana (ripe)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond mil
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Mix four, oats, baking soda, almonds, and cinnamon in large bowl. 
  3. Mix banana, oil, honey, milk, and vanilla in a food processor until smooth. Add to four mixture and mix well. Gently stir in blueberries. 
  4. Transfer mixture to greased baking dish (8x8 works well). Bake 30 minutes, until top is golden. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. 

Roasted Carrot Sandwiches with Carrot Top Pesto

The garden is bursting with amazing treats - this is my favorite time of year! I foresee about three weeks of diner fresh from the ground coming up and I'm so excited! The boys and I spent a few hours today playing in my dad's giant garden, pulling weeds, munching on peas and raspberries, and playing with the hose. It was magical. We were filthy and happy and tired by the end of today.

I made this sandwich on Sunday and it was super-duper delicious. While I want to make a big variety of dishes from our fresh veggies, I have a feeling that we'll end up making this sandwich several times with the baby carrots. Our carrots are baby carrots because we forgot to thin them the carrot section is jam-packed with with little tiny treasures and there are a ton of greens. The kids think that they're especially for them. I am in heaven. So, while this sandwich requires more effort than PB&J, the payoff far exceeds the workload. We roasted our carrots for about 10 minutes so that they would still be crunchy - a perfect match with the creamy avocado and carrot top pesto.

Makes 4 sandwiches
Probably packs well in a lunchbox, but likely not overnight.

  • 8 slices of your favorite whole-grain bread (we used Dave's Killer Bread)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 8 tablespoons carrot top pesto
  • 1 bunch carrots (about 20 mini carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • Freshly ground sea salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash and trim your carrots. Slice them long ways into thing strips. Toss with olive oil and arrange on baking tray (I like to use foil on my trays to help with clean up and sticking). Season with salt and pepper. Bake/roast for about 10 minutes, until sizzling and beginning to brown. You want them to still be crunchy. 
  2. Meanwhile, make your carrot top pesto.
  3. Arrange peso, avocados, carrots on bread, cut into halves and serve. 

August 14, 2012

Carrot Top & Almond Pesto

I had in the back of my mind that carrot tops (the greens) are edible, but I'd never used them. When my mom brought some beautiful carrots home from the farmer's market and chopped the greens off last week, I grabbed them and put them in a jar of water, exclaiming that I planned to use them. The next day I got around to checking recipes out online. I didn't look long - I really just wanted to see if you could actually eat carrot tops.

You can. And they are super good for you (high in potassium). I didn't see any recipes that I wanted to use in the three seconds I spent looking and marched into the kitchen determined to make a make-shift dip. What a treat it turned out to be! I thought the greens would be a tad bitter and was planning to even the dip out with some honey - but they were perfect on their own. No sweetening needed. This recipe makes a really delicious and nutritious dip to use on sandwiches, as a pesto with pasta, a sauce with rice, or as a dip for crackers. We devoured this marvelous vegan, raw wonder with enthusiasm. 

Makes 1.5 cups
Does not save well - might freeze better, but we didn't test it. Best if eaten the same day. 
  • 1 bunch carrot tops
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons favorite balsamic vinegar (I used 18-year mango)
  1. Roughly chop your greens. 
  2. Process everything together in a food processor until well ground. Taste, adjust seasoning as desired. Would be good with some red pepper flakes if you like a little heat. 
  3. Serve immediately or within a few hours. 

June 8, 2012

Risotto Cakes

Here is a magnificent trick to using up leftover risotto as shared with me by the ever-talented and awesome Enrico (who, by the way, is authentically Italian and knows what he's talking about when it comes to risotto). Risotto is a deliciously creamy and yummy way to eat rice. It takes a little more time and attention to prepare, but with a glass of wine the time flies by. Additionally, risotto recipes tend to make a huge portion of food -  great to make for a crowd and you'll still likely have leftovers. Amazingly, I haven't posted my favorite risotto recipe ... I promise to do that someday. In the meantime, find a recipe you like and then try this out the next day. Serve with white wine and a big green salad for optimal happiness.

These leftovers make great leftovers!
Best served warm.

  • Olive oil 
  • Leftover risotto
  • 1/2 Corn meal in a saucer
  • Italian herbs 
  • Mayo (or some other kind of saucy/dippy thing)
  1. In a heavy fry pan, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/8 inch) to medium. 
  2. Form risotto into patties, about 1/3 inch thick 
  3. Pat the patties into the cornmeal like you're breading it. No need to worry about how much to get on the patty - risotto is sticky and you're simply aiming to get an even coat. 
  4. Set patties into fry pan and fry until golden and crispy - about 4 minutes per side. 
  5. Transfer from pan to plate, sprinkle with Italian herbs, add a dollop of mayo, and serve! 

April 10, 2012

Fresh Zucchini and Olive Stuffed Tomatoes

Joseph and I hosted Easter brunch this year. Well, actually, what really happened is that I decided that I wanted to have a vegan holiday - it just seems so reasonable to pair this diet with joy and renewal of Easter time. So, I announced that I would be hosting a brunch and that friends and family were welcome to join. I figured a few people would show up...not over 30 people! Thankfully, we had the best weather ever so no one had to be crowded in our bite-size house and we had tons of wonderful, delicious, healthful food. I was in heaven. We are so doing it again next year. 

The idea for these little tomatoes came from a dinner party that I had a couple of years ago. No cooking involved - just chopping. These are totally raw and super fresh and tasty - perfect for any spring or summer gathering. 

Makes 24 appetizers. 
Does not keep well overnight. 
  • 12 small tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 jar green or Katamala olives 
  • Italian seasoning 
  • Rice wine vinegar 
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil 
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper 
  1. Gut your tomatoes: Slice off the top and carefully 'cut' out the insides with a spoon (use a grapefruit spoon if you have one). You can either use the whole tomato for larger servings or, as pictured above for smaller servings, cut them in half lengthwise to make little cups. Reserve tomato guts for future use in another dish or to make a sauce. Set gutted tomatoes aside. 
  2. Chop zucchini and olives into small pieces. 
  3. In a large bowl combine zucchini, olives, Italian seasoning, a splash of vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss well. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste. Season again as needed. 
  4. Stuff each tomato with zucchini mixture and arrange on serving plates or platter. 
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 hours ahead of time. 

April 7, 2012

Roasted Potato and Radish Salad

I have a tendency to buy radishes because they are so beautiful and then not use them. These poor little radishes pictured here sat in my fridge for more than a week before I finally found a use for them in my lovely Potato cookbook. Amazingly, they were still in crisp and crunchy condition. 

This is a wonderful spring recipe and an excellent use of radishes. Although the radishes take center stage upon first glance, it's the potatoes that actually steal the show for me; I confess to being a roasted potato lover. And the dressing is also very good. In fact, it's wonderful because it overcomes the need to use catsup with the potatoes. (Everyone knows roasted potatoes normally go with catsup, right?) The combination of crispy potatoes, fresh radishes, and crunchy walnuts makes for some great texture and wonderful flavors. Aside from the time it takes to roast potatoes, this dish comes together quickly and is a lovely twist on brunch, lunch, or supper side dish. 

Serves 4. 
  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Olive oil 
  • Powdered garlic 
  • Italian seasoning 
  • Sea salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper 
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 teaspoon agave or honey 
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and generous sprinklings of garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning until well coated. Arrange potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until golden and slightly crispy - about 40 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and agave/honey. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as needed. 
  4. When potatoes are done, place them on a platter or plates. Top with radishes, and drizzle with dressing. Finnish with walnuts. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

April 4, 2012

Saffron Scented Pear Upside Down Cake

I've had this recipe in my 'to be tested someday' book for about three years. Since I had a whole bunch of pears lying around, I figured I'd better give it a try. I modified the original recipe (not sure where it came from by now; probably Martha Stewart) to be diary and wheat-free. It turned out well - I was totally surprised by it, since I so rarely make any upside down cake. It really is fun to pop the cake out and see how the top turns out. When it came out, it really reminded me of a tarta one might find in Spain. They don't have many tall cakes - and they are often more earthy and imperfect, as this one is. They also rarely frost their cakes, much to my liking. 

This cake is dark, rich, and dense. It would make the perfect dessert for a more formal dinner or afternoon tea/coffee. You could even add it to a brunch. If you don't have saffron, make it without and it will still be very good. However, the saffron adds an exotic kick that elevates it from 'nice' to 'wow', if you know what I mean. 
  • Pinch of saffron 
  • 1 cup sugar (I used organic raw brown sugar - you can use that or regular white)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I used Earth Balance), softened 
  • 4 small pears, thinly sliced 
  • 1 1/3 flour (I used Bob's Red Mill all- purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cups organic soy milk 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons water (combine and set aside for at least 2 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with vegetable oil. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix saffron and 1/4 cup sugar together. Add the butter and combine well (I used my KitchenAid for this part). Spread mixture into the bottom of your loaf pan. 
  3. Arrange pears over the sugar mixture in your pan. 
  4. In a large bowl (or your cleaned out mixer bowl), whisk together flour, remaining 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt. 
  5. In a separate bowl, combine milk, flax seed mixture, vanilla. Slowly add to flour mixture and mix gently until combined. Spread over pears in your loaf pan. 
  6. Bake until set - 40 - 45 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Run a knife along the edges to loosen it. Place serving platter onto loaf pan and flip over so that cake comes out of loaf plan directly onto serving platter. If it doesn't pop out immediately, give it a minute or two. Still not out? it back back. 
  7. Serve.