Rice and Beans Stack

rice cakeI make rice and beans all the time.  Usually I use either Indian spices or Mexican spices and it always tastes great.  You just can’t ruin rice and beans.  Tonight, however, I wanted to try something different, both in taste and in presentation.  I wanted to elevate rice and beans to a new level, because as good as it is, you have to admit, it is not the most visually appealing meal.  Until now, that is!  I added some refried beans so it would have a creamy texture and could be molded into a pleasing shape.  What took me only a few extra minutes of time made the meal infinitely better!  Maybe next time I will try layering grilled veggies in the middle… so many great ideas for the old standy-by of rice and beans!

  • 2 15 oz cans beans, drained (I used one can pinto and one can kidney)
  • 1/2 15 oz can refried beans (I used Whole Foods organic refried black beans)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 vegan “beef” bouillon (I used edward and son’s “not beef”)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 5 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add the bouillon cube and stir well as it melts into the onions.  Add the refried beans and stir to combine.  Add the beans and gently mix together.

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Cook until heated through.  In a large bowl, combine the rice with the bean mixture.  Press into any shape object you like.  I used ramekins.  Then just turn it out onto your plate.

Serves 6

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

date bar These bars are the new favorite dessert in my house!  When I was making them I was planning to call them chocolate chip bars, but they taste so much like cookie dough that I had to revise the name.  I saw it as a challenge to create something incredibly delicious without any white sugar or white flour and with only 1 tablespoon of oil.  Success!!!  I added 2 tablespoons extra chocolate chips because my family likes their desserts extra gooey and chocolatey, but they are just as wonderful without the extra chocolate.  I know I will be making these again soon because they’re already almost gone!  Yes, they are that good!

  • 1/2 c soft, pitted dates (about 6 medjools) – if the dates are not soft, microwave them with 1/2 c water in 30 second intervals until softened, and drain.
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/3 c brown rice syrup
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 T ground flaxseed mixed with 5 T water (let sit for about 5 minutes before using)
  • 1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T coconut oil, room temperature
  • 3/4 c (+ 2 T optional) vegan chocolate chips, divided

double date

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease an 8×8” pan.  Puree the dates and the vanilla in a food processor.  Add the brown rice syrup and maple syrup.  Process until smooth.  Scrape into a large bowl.  It will be very sticky.

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Add the prepared flaxseed and mix well.

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Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.  Stir in the coconut oil and mix well, making sure there are no lumps of oil.  Stir in 1/2 c (+ 2 T) chocolate chips.

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Scrape into prepared pan.  Smooth the top with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 c chocolate chips on top.

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Bake 18 – 20 minutes.  Let cool a bit to firm up.  Cut into 16 bars.

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Tuscan Salsa Verde

DSC_0144One of the best vacations I have ever had was in Tuscany!  I think if I were to move from the United States, that would be my destination of choice, although in all fairness I have not travelled to enough destinations to be fully equipped to make that decision.  In any event, I just love Tuscany; I love everything about it.  We stayed in the tiny village of Gaiole in the Chianti region, where the rolling hills are breathtaking and as we walked along exploring, the smell of fresh tomatoes, parsley, basil, and garlic was intoxicating.  The food we ate there was among the best food I have ever had.  That is why as soon as I returned home, despite jet lag and tons of laundry, I couldn’t wait to recreate this sauce, which we enjoyed on pasta, on pizza, and even drizzled over grilled veggies.  I think I did a really good job of replicating the sauce, and it even makes me feel a little like I’m back in Tuscany, at an outdoor cafe, under the stars, sipping a nice glass of Brunello di Montalcino.  Ahhhhhhhh Tuscany.

  • 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 2.4 oz. jar capers, drained (capers are actually sun-dried pickled flower buds that are salty and delicious and quite nutritious)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t red wine vinegar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

ingreds

Process all ingredients in a food processor, or in a large bowl with an immersion blender.

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Tonight I put the salsa verde on linguine and added some halved cherry tomatoes.

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I also made some with whole grain rotini for lunch tomorrow, since this recipe makes enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta.

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Crispy Coconut Tofu with Orange Sauce

cocoThis was such a huge hit with my family that I know I will be making it again and again,  especially since it was quite easy to make!  I have to give a shout-out to my neighbor Diane, the most lovely and incredible neighbor!  She told me about her coconut tofu with orange sauce and it sounded so amazing I knew I had to make it.  In my pre-vegan days I loved coconut shrimp and I couldn’t wait to capture some of those flavors again.  This is what I created from her guidelines and I can’t thank her enough!  It was also the perfect recipe in which to incorporate kuzu, my favorite thickener. To learn a little about kuzu, click here.  I hope you love this recipe too!

  • 1 16 oz package extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 T ener G egg replacer with 4 T warm water
  • 1 T coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1-2 T coconut oil (not needed if baking)

sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 1/2 T orange zest
  • 1 T vegan butter
  • 1 T kuzu root starch (or cornstarch) mixed with 3 T water
  • 1 T chopped cilantro for garnish

Press the tofu, either with a tofu press, or if you don’t have one, by placing the tofu on a plate, covering with some paper towel and another plate on top, and then piling heavy items on top of that, such as a large pot or some heavy books.  Let sit for 20 minutes and this will release a lot of the liquid from the tofu.

Next, cut the tofu in half lengthwise, and then into 8 rectangles.

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In a small bowl, combine the panko, coconut, brown sugar and salt.  Mix well.

In another small bowl, combine the egg replacer and the coconut aminos.

Dip the tofu pieces in the liquid, then into the crumbs.  Really press the crumbs into the tofu on all sides.

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Heat 1 T coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat and sautee the tofu until golden on both sides.  You may need to add the second T coconut oil once you flip the tofu.

If you prefer to bake the tofu, it is just as delicious, but a bit less golden brown. 

baked coconut tofu

baked coconut tofu

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tofu on a lightly greased baking sheet and spray it with oil spray.  Bake 10 minutes per side and then broil on high for 3-5 minutes, watching so it does not burn.

For the sauce, bring the orange juice and brown sugar to a boil in a medium pan.  Let boil for 3 minutes.  Decrease the heat to low and add the zest, salt and vegan butter.  Stir in the kuzu.  Remove from heat.  Add cilantro and serve immediately.  The sauce will start to congeal if using the kuzu, but this may be an added bonus.  My family loves it because it is like a marmalade.

serves 4

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Cashew Cookies with Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds

cookieMmmmmmmm – I love these cookies!  They taste very similar to a peanut butter cookie, but with a slightly more subtle flavor!  And since cashews are much less of an allergen than peanuts and most other nuts, I hope this recipe will allow those who have never been able to enjoy a peanut butter cookie to finally do so.  And with the cashews and sunflower seeds, each cookie has a whopping 2 grams of protein!!  They are also gluten-free.  You can make them plain and even press them down with a fork to make them look just like peanut butter cookies, or you can also add mix-ins for texture and taste.  They are an incredibly versatile cookie!   I love adding cranberries and sunflower seeds as shown here, but I also love them with chopped dates and peanuts, and also with raisins and chocolate chips.  I’m sure you can think of some other incredible combinations!

plate

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cookienuts

  • 1 cup cashew butter (if you cannot find ready-made cashew butter, you can make it yourself by using one of the many recipes online, or you can use peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup sugar *see adjusted recipe below if you do not do white sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed mixed with 3 T water
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t maple syrup
  • 1 T brown rice flour

optional

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I prefer salted, but unsalted is fine too)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients except cranberries and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Depending on the softness of the cashew butter used, you may need to use a hand mixer on low.

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Stir in the cranberries and sunflower seeds if using.

With slightly wet hands, roll into balls about 1 T dough each and place 2” apart on two lightly greased baking sheets.

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You can either leave them in balls, or press down a bit with a fork to flatten, depending on if you want them crunchier (flatten) or chewier (leave as balls).

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Place your oven racks so one is in the middle and one in the top third.  Bake for 6 minutes then switch the trays and bake another 6 minutes.

Let cool.

If desired, top with melted chocolate and cashew nuts.

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Makes 2 dozen cookies

*To make these uber healthy – substitute 1/4 cup + 2 T agave for the sugar and add an extra 2 T brown rice flour.  They will still be delicious but will not have as much of a nutty flavor.

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