new blog and recipe


It's been so long without a peep from me here at the blog. I want to apologize for my long, long absence and hopefully offer any of you readers left a chance to see what I've been up to. I've always wanted this blog to slowly bridge some gaps and become a lifestyle blog of sorts but really struggled with doing that seamlessly, and I've decided that this blog in particular might not ever be the place for that. I still can't decide if I'll be posting my recipes here anymore, but I will definitely be posting them (and more) over at my other blog: Black Oak Vintage. There I'll be talking about more of the things I love, rather than just one. It'll include vintage clothes and housewares, updates to my shop, food and drink recipes, DIY how-to's and projects, and just an overall better glance at my life and what I've been filling it up with lately. I hope you'll all follow me there.




These Spicy Tofu Tacos were one of the recipes I recently posted at the new blog, which you can find here.

My best to you all!

baked eggplant burgers


It took me a long time to get into Pinterest, but now I'm really into it.  It's such a fun, and pretty, way to organize my bookmarks and gather everything in one place.  Rounding up recipes that I want to eventually make has always been a sort of messy and futile project until now, and I'm excited at the prospect of finally getting it under control.  The photo above is from one of my first successful pin-to-kitchen projects that's come to fruition.  And, oh how happy I am that it did.  Thanks to The Tolerant Vegan for these delicious Baked Eggplant Burgers!

Anyone else as into Pinterest as I am? Share your boards; I'd love to see what you all are pinning.

mocha peanut butter mousse pie


This pie is so easy to make. So so easy.

I suppose it's mostly in part because I'm giving you a recipe today using a pre-made pie crust. While I do urge you to try this filling in your own crust recipes should you have the time, in a pinch using the pre-made variety can really be life-saving and just as tasty. But trust me, I was in a pinch. This past week has been a blur, and kind of like a motion-sickness blur because I've been sick the whole time. At some point in the middle of it all, my dear boyfriend had his birthday. I had to think of some way to treat him to something sweet that would be quick and easy to whip up without him catching on (as he was essentially waiting on me hand and foot, the angel).

This definitely fit the bill, and (I think) even impressed!  It's rich and decadent and a little bit fancy when you add the espresso whipped cream to top.  I'm filing this away for future parties, for sure.  It requires a bit of pre-planning because the filling needs to chill about 3 hours to set, but it's so simple to make otherwise that you'll have plenty of down time to do anything else you might have to prepare.

You'll Need:
a pre-made graham cracker pie crust

1 cans full fat coconut milk
1 bag vegan chocolate chips
2 tbsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
4 tsp Earth Balance
2 tsp almond milk
1/4 tsp sea salt

for Espresso Whipped Cream:
1 can full fat coconut, chilled
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder, dissolved in a bit of water

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, add your chocolate chips, espresso powder and vanilla extract. Over medium-high heat, pour one can of coconut milk into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and pour the hot coconut milk over the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well until chocolate is melted and everything is incorporated. Cover and let rest in refrigerator for 3 hours.

In another medium mixing bowl, mix or beat together the peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, Earth Balance and salt.  Add almond milk and mix.  Set mixture aside.

After your chocolate mousse has set, you're ready to assemble.  You can either layer the peanut butter mixture on the bottom of your pie crust and add the chocolate mousse on top, or you can fill your pie crust about 3/4 full and marble the peanut butter mixture into the mousse.  Let pie chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Either way you prepare your pie you will end up with extra chocolate mousse.  Just transfer the remaining bit to a small mason jar and enjoy later in bed or spooned on top of some fruit.

To make espresso whipped cream, open your chilled can of coconut milk (do no shake the can to mix). Scoop the top layer of cream out into a bowl, leaving the remaining coconut water for another use. Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and espresso to the cream and use a hand mixer (or a diligently used whisk) to whip the mixture for about 5-8 minutes, until light and airy.  Serve on top of a slice of the pie and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.

tomato and roasted red pepper soup


I've been itching for a slight change around here style-wise and was happy to brighten things up around the blog.  I'm in the process of doing a rehaul in all things in my life right now, big and small, and it seemed appropriate to doing a little something different to the layout here while I'm at it.   You might've noticed my Etsy store linked around the blog before as well, but I haven't quite talked about it before -- I'd like to, maybe eventually, but in a way I like how this has became kind of strictly food-related here.   Either way, my shop is another of those things I'm rehauling and I'm having a lot of fun doing it (and shopping for it, hehe) but it has been taking up a lot of my food, or food blogging energy I might have.

So, while it's no change to my diet as of late, I'm sharing with you today a soup I made that was inspired by a recent outing to Milkboy, a bar and venue in Philadelphia.  They had some really delicious drinks (made by an exceptionally nice bartender), and a couple vegan options on the menu!  I got myself The Handsome (Makers Mark, ginger & thyme) and The R5 (Bulleit Rye, blood orange).  Both were great, though I think I might have to make the former a regular of mine; I can't get enough thyme in anything.  And then I warmed myself up with a bowl of this soup, or something like it.  Obviously I liked it enough to want to try to make a batch at home, and although it didn't come out quite the same, it sure came out tasty.

You'll Need:
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 cup chopped shallot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4-1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1 tbsp thyme
2 tsp paprika
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt Earth Balance in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add shallots and cook 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant and shallots are tender.  Add chopped tomatoes and dried spices and stir.  Cook an addition 10 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down, careful to stir to keep from sticking.  Add extra Earth Balance or oil if you feel like you need to.  Add the roasted red pepper and let cook another 5 minutes.

Add broth and let soup simmer another 15 minutes.  Add basil and stir; lower heat and allow to cook another 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Top with Almond Parmesan, if desired.

oyster mushroom stew


I've mentioned here before that I work in Reading Terminal Market, but I don't often have much to say about it here -- in part because the food I work with is some of the most non-vegan items I can think of: we serve lots and lots of seafood.  But lately, I've been thinking about ways to vegan-ize the menu items that I've come to know so well.  This soup in particular seemed to be the easiest way to start trying, and it was certainly one that has intrigued me since my start there.  We constantly have customers sharing with us their long history of serving similar stews at home and it seems its rich traditional ties are part of what make this dish really special. 

You'll Need:
1 package (about 8 oz) oyster mushrooms, trimmed
1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced and quartered
2 stalks green onion, chopped
2-3 tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup mushroom broth (I used pre-made from Whole Foods)
1 1/2 - 2 cups almond milk
salt and pepper, to taste
paprika for garnish

Directions:

Gently heat the Earth Balance in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sweet onion and saute until soft and slightly browned.  Add mushrooms and most of the green onion, reserving some for garnish.  Saute another 5 minutes until mushrooms are softened.  Lower heat slightly and add the mushroom broth, almond milk and salt and pepper.  Be careful to heat the milk slowly.  Add more Earth Balance if desired.  Allow stew to gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve with green onion and paprika for garnish.




The simplicity of this recipe is surely part of its appeal, but the rich flavor is what really makes it a treat.  I have to admit that I wasn't always a huge fan of mushrooms, but I'm starting to learn more about how versatile they can be and their wide range of textures and flavors.  The oyster mushroom here is a new favorite of mine and works perfectly with this recipe as a stand-in for shellfish.  The consistency is so similar that I'm already imagining ways to use it in some of my old favorite seafood recipes (or perhaps more vegan-ized versions of what we serve at work).  I've seen an oyster mushroom po' boy around before and I'm thinking that might be up next.

apple fennel coca



I have to admit that I'm not quite certain that this can count as a traditional Catalan style coca, but using puff pastry as the base was my first introduction to the world of cocas when I was cooking alongside a native Catalonian.  Either way, the nature of coca (like other types of pizzas and flat-breads) allows for such experimentation and this is among my favorite variations.  As much as I often miss the nice cheesy pizzas of my past, when it comes to making vegan alternatives, I don't even bother with imitations.  I love the simplicity and complex flavors you can achieve by mixing fresh vegetables and herbs with just a touch of oil.  It's so simple and beautiful on it's own that I wouldn't dare add anything else.


Lately, I've had so much fennel on my mind.  It's so funny to realize the amount of time I spend daydreaming about recipes and the next thing I'm going to cook.  It almost seems silly, but I guess I choose to believe I'm just enjoying the finer things in life, ha!  Anyway fennel, if you knew how much I've been thinking about you lately, you'd probably blush.  I had plans for a salad, I wondered about soups.  And maybe I settled on the easiest route, but I had spent so much time thinking about it that when it was time to get working, I wanted something fast and easy.  Good thing fennel does magical things when roasted simply.

You'll Need:

1 sheet puff pastry (recipe to come, but there are many out there to reference)

1 bulb fennel, white pieces thinly sliced and fronds reserved
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1/2 of a yellow squash, sliced into thin coins
1 carrot, sliced into ribbons
1/2 of a sweet onion, thinly sliced and halved
olive oil
fresh sage
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Line one sheet with the fennel and squash, and the other with apple and carrot.  Drizzle both with a bit of olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  Bake the apple and carrot tray for about 10 minutes, and check for browning.  Remove from oven when just soft and lightly browned.  Continue to bake the fennel and squash for another 10-15 minutes, until just browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the meantime, heat a medium sized saucepan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add your onions and saute for 5 minutes until soft.  Add a dash of sugar and mix well.  Saute another 8-10 minutes, or until onions have caramelized.  Remove from heat.

Using one the same baking sheets (just transfer your roasted veggies to one tray) and parchment, lay your puff pastry down.  Brush with a bit of olive oil and top with caramelized onions.  Layer on the rest of your roasted vegetables as you wish.  Finish with salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes in your 400 degree oven.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Garnish with fennel fronds and fresh sage.


The puff pastry here counts for a lot, and can be fairly time consuming to make from scratch, but it's well worth the effort if you have the time for it.  If need be, check your natural foods stores for a vegan pre-made puff pastry--I know they're out there and plenty delicious!

pasta-less lasagna


There are a few things that my boyfriend really prides himself in cooking, with good reason, and pasta sauces are one of them.  But we're both rarely in the mood for the pasta itself, surprisingly.  Ever since I got my new vegetable spiralizer, I've been thinking about ways to create some our favorite pasta dishes using vegetables instead.  This lasagna recipe uses thin slices of zucchini and sweet potatoes in place of the pasta, which was beautiful and low maintenance enough to easily file this recipe into our repertoire.  Eggplant is another great addition to the layering here, but we opted to skip it to save time on having to prep/sweat it before baking.  My favorite part of this recipe is that it means I've got all hands on deck with my boyfriend in charge of the sauce, and it comes together so quickly with two sets of hands working together.  We're currently obsessed with zucchini noodles, and I think I could get used to this way of cooking together :)


You'll Need:
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 handfuls of fresh spinach


For the Sauce--

2-3 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 c chopped onion
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp each rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram
fresh chopped basil
red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Basil-Lemon Tofu--

1 block tofu
juice from half a lemon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

For the Almond "Parmesan"--

1/4 c sliced almonds
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
dash of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Arrange sliced zucchini and sweet potatoes in one layer on the sheets and drizzle with enough olive oil to thinly coat each side.  Bake about 30 minutes or until just soft.  When finished remove from heat and lower oven temperature to 350.

Over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan.  Add garlic and onion and cook until soft.  Add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes to develop flavors.

In a mixing bowl, crumble tofu into small pieces using your hands to gently break it all down, about 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.

To make Almond "Parmesan," add your ingredients into a food processor and blend into a fine mixture.  Set aside.

When reading to start assembly, add enough sauce to the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Lay down your sliced sweet potatoes.  On top of that layer, add half of the tofu mixture, trying to spread as evenly as you can.  Next, layer one handful of fresh spinach.  Now add more sauce, then your layer of zucchini.  Repeat another layer of the remaining tofu mixture, then the remaining spinach.  Add a final layer of sauce and sprinkle generously with almond mixture, reserving some for garnish.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool somewhat before serving with fresh basil.