Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

spicy sweet potato kale

I threw together this dish using a few ingredients I had on hand.  Simple. Spicy. Earthy.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 baked sweet potato, skin removed and cubed
  • 2 large handfuls of shredded kale, spines removed and washed before shredding
  • chili powder
  • ginger powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Add the sweet potato cubes and kale.  Add the spices to your taste, I just put a few dashes of each, enough to dust the surface of the vegetables.  Hold off on the salt until the kale it wilted and crispy.  Add the sesame seeds to an empty corner of the pan to toast lightly before stirring into the kale and potato.  Plate immediately.  I had also fried courgettes in the same pan to eat along with the kale and sweet potatoes.


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My love of kale in smoothies has returned, like Luke Skywalker coming to save me from the hollows controlled by the Dark Side. Yes, I’ve eaten a burger recently. Yes, I enjoyed it. The funny thing about food and your diet is that everyone is different and you are in control of what goes into your belly.

Nom Nom Nom

You know, now that I think about it, how many characters in Star Wars do we actually see eating besides Jabba? Great, there goes my weekend, I’ll be watching all six episodes to find out if you’re looking for me.

red kale strawberry smoothie midnitechef.wordpress.com

Learning more about dealing with the kale portion of a smoothie, for instance, start blending the kale with orange juice FIRST. Wait until this is silky and free of leafy bits. You can use a strainer if you are going to be picky, or if this might be a kid’s first kale smoothie. I can handle some kale flakes, see the failure post.

I should be measuring to provide you exact amounts for you to replicate this sweet brown smoothie, but anytime before 8:00am is not my best time to be putzing around with measuring cups and spoons. Just open the fridge and grab a handfull of red kale, orange juice (just pour some in the blender, silly), strawberries, and a fat slice of fozen pineapple. Start blending the kale and juice first. Drop in the berries (tops removed) and finally the frozen pineapple, pulse until smooth. You can add a little crushed ice but I found the frozen pineapple was enough today.

Keep playing with your food. Find something new to taste. Like Gabrielle Hamilton says in the interview featured in this post: “Food, pleasure, and guilt should never be in the same sentence.” Have fun!

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I made some Carrot Muffins and Chocolate Cookies for the bake sale organized by Lazy Smurfy.  I hope there was a good turn out!  It was nice to meet some of the writers behind redhotvegans.com!

I also met Liz from Farm Sanctuary.  Liz is looking for walkers this Saturday (Oct 27th), as of this writing they have 83% of their $5K goal.  If you don’t want to walk, sponsor someone who is!  Go here to register or donate today.  There is also a need for vegan bites at the end of the walk at Pease Park, if I can swing it I could make more of those yummy carrot muffins for the walkers.

 …the donations you raise help us rescue, feed, administer urgent care, and provide permanent homes for farm animals!

If you are in Austin and want to help, please click on the links.

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I bought a used copy of the cookbook written by Erin McKenna, owner of Babycakes in New York City.  It’s aptly named Babycakes:Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About BakeryThere were several pages dog-eared by the previous owner, I wonder if they tried all the recipes they marked for later.  There are plenty of beautiful glossy photos to drool over as you decide which recipe to try first.

My first attempt was the Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cake (shown above), and I broke Erin’s first rule: I didn’t follow all of the directions.  And the cream cheese frosting/glaze was made with xylitol (a sugar alcohol) instead of leaving the cake bare.  The cake was very moist, with a good amount of sweetness to counter the tart lemon zest and juice.  If I didn’t tell you it was gluten and sugar-free you wouldn’t have noticed.  That’s what Erin McKenna strives to achieve in each recipe in her book and at her bakery.  Her shop is on my to-see list if I ever get to visit NYC!

The second recipe was an adaptation of the Cherry Cobbler.  The filling was rhubarb and Granny Smith apple instead of cherries.  I was planning to make a pie but this seemed like it would work with the spelt flour lattice topping.  I didn’t have evaporated cane juice and used brown sugar instead.  I should have baked this a little longer as the underside of the crust became soaked with the juices of the fruit and turned into a sticky mush.  Best to bake and serve immediately, as with any pie or crumble.  I liked the flavor of the spelt topping though, it had a light nutty flavor and reminded me of oatmeal.  Paired with the cinnamon-apple-rhubarb filling this could be eaten for breakfast or dessert, heck anytime!

Next up: Chocolate Cake!  I made the same rookie mistake of baking this fella a little longer than I should have.  As soon as the middle is set you should take it out of the oven.  The original recipe calls for a crumb topping to be added half way through baking.  Instead I left the cake alone and added roasted cherries that I washed, seeded and quartered.  That’s a great thing I learned from this cook book: roast your fruit to amplify their natural flavors so less sweetener is required.  Then I made a vanilla cream sauce to top it all off.  This is my version of a black forest cake.  A splash of Kirsch over the cake would have made it closer to the real thing, but it was tasty nonetheless.

Last on my first round of tests were the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Oh the chocolate!  I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder and Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips for this recipe.  A couple of notes: regular sugar was used instead of evaporated sugar cane in the same measurement called for, I added 1/4 cup rice flour and a little more Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free all-purpose flour to absorb the oil.  They still came out on the oily side but I guess they will stay moist longer that way, I’m not a fan of greasy cookies though.  The cookies are tender (I didn’t over bake them, yay!) and very delicate with a brownie-like texture in the middle.  With a bit of engineering, these will be perfect doppelgängers to gluten-laden cookies.

My overall conclusions about gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free baking from this book are these; use lower temperatures and the least amount of time possible, buy the best ingredients possible on your budget (and shop around, Sprouts puts GF baking stuff on sale %25 off, try on-line at Amazon.com or BobsRedMill.com) and most importantly READ the recipes first.  With entrepreneurs like Erin blazing the trails of alternative baking and better access to the squirrely ingredients necessary for vegan baking, it’s easy to make the switch.  Whether you cannot tolerate gluten anymore, want to cut down on refined white sugar, or for the animal lover in you – this is a great book to help you on your journey!


This review was solely out of my own curiosity and wanting to share my thoughts on the book.   Recipes were respectfully omitted to honor the copyrights of the author.

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Take a break from the heat of summer with a cool and refreshing salad.

Just a few ingredients before you can put those aching feet up.

  • seedless watermelon, cubed
  • jicama, peeled and sliced into match sticks
  • 1/2 the juice of a lime (or use a whole key lime)
  • fresh mint leaves, chiffonade

Toss the watermelon and jicama in a bowl.  You want less than half of the salad to be jicama, you can change it to your taste though.

Lime juice is poured over the salad, toss gently.

Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy!

Doing anything for the 4th of July?

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Update: I tweeked the recipe a little more, enjoy!

I made these raspberry bars for a friend to make her feel better.  Who wouldn’t smile at this?

Since neither of us can eat tree nuts, and gluten-free oats are not always gluten-free, I modified the original recipe to the following:


  • 1  cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (toasted)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups quinoa flakes
  • 3 Tbsp cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 c coconut oil


  • 3 cup frozen raspberries (two bags organic frozen raspberries), thawed and drained
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Toast the shredded coconut as the oven warms up, just until lightly golden, about 5-10 minutes.  Set the berries to drain in a colander (save the juice to make fruit syrup for your waffles!  Also good added to seltzer or ginger ale.).  Line a square (preferably metal) 8×8″ pan with parchment paper, this will make it super easy to get the bars out later.

Combine the dry ingredients of the crumb mixture with a whisk.  Add about 1/2 cup of the coconut oil and work it into the flours and spices.   Using your hands, rub and mash the mixture until it resembles a coarse damp sand.  Add a tablespoon of the coconut oil at a time until you like the texture of the crumb.

Pat about 2/3rds of the crumb into the pan.  You want it to stick together but hold yourself back from compressing the bottom layer too much.

Take the raspberries to a bowl, keep the juices collected in a clean jar in your fridge until you can make something with it.  Don’t waste anything!  Stir in the other filling ingredients.  Spread the berry filling evenly over the bottom crust in the pan.

(option: add a bit more cinnamon to the remaining crumb mixture and some honey)  Lightly sprinkle the remaining crumb on top of the filling.  Bake for 30 – 45 minutes (it will depend on the type of pan and your oven).

Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan, you can put the whole pan in the fridge to cool the pan before picking up the parchment ends to remove the bars.  Cut into squares or bars and keep refrigerated up to 3 days (if they last that long!).  Best served the day you make them.

Chef’s Notes: With the quantities of quinoa and coconut listed in this version, it seemed like there wasn’t enough of the crumb to go around.  Next time, I will use 2 cups of quinoa flakes and 2/3 cup shredded coconut.  The toasted bits of coconut give hints of a nutty flavor and crunch that is missing due to the absent oats.

Pepper was eyeing herself a raspberry bar too.

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Apart from the bacon garnish, this soup was prepared 100% vegan.  I’m not a vegan but sometimes have dairy issues, this is a warm comforting dish made without dairy, meat or MSG.

Start by making a vegetable stock with any leftover bits of veggies you have hanging around, if you have been paying attention you will have a small store of frozen end-of-veg ready for this occasion.  Add a garlic clove and pinch of salt, then barely cover the vegetables with water in a pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the dark green tops off 2 – 3 leeks (use the greens in the stock).  Clean and finely slice the white ends of the leeks.  Slice a spring onion.  Crush and mince a garlic clove.  Dice 2 – 3 yellow potatoes.

Strain the veggies from the stock.

In a second pot, melt a spoonful of coconut oil.  Begin with the leek and onion, stirring to coat each slice.  When they are translucent add the garlic.  Cook until everything gets a hint of brown but be careful not to burn them.  Add the potatoes and stock.  Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper.  Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft.

Blend the soup to a smooth texture.  If you prefer some chunks of potato in the soup then blend half to 2/3rds of the soup.  Return the soup to the pot and keep warm until ready to eat.  Garnish with chives and bacon (isn’t there vegan bacon?)

Makes 4 servings.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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