Tag Archives: vegan

butternut squash soup + food blogging thoughts

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Brooklyn had its first snow last week! The snow was brief, but beautiful. Since I grew up in Florida, this was my first “first snow.” I may have been a bit too enthusiastic about it (I’m sorry everyone who got my crazy emoji text messages). It’s officially cold and people are preparing for the holidays. There are so many beautiful Christmas trees in Manhattan. And I’m filled with love and excitement for this time of year.

That is, until I realized my heat hasn’t turned on today. So the novelty is wearing off. And this is only the beginning. I have another five months of cold weather. So, I did what any person preparing for a long winter would do. I went out and bought tons of scarves and booties. Then I made this soup.

It’s no secret that I love butternut squash. It is the superior squash. And while I may have a minority opinion on this, I still believe pumpkins are best left for carving. Not eating. So, when I saw a recipe for butternut squash soup, I went for it, lamenting that I don’t have an immersion blender. Ladling soup into a food processor is just such a mess.

butternut-squash-soup-2

 

This soup is creamy, sweet, and full of spice. It’s perfect for a cold day. Top it with raisins and pecans to add some crunch.

butternut squash soup
 
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This butternut squash soup uses creamy coconut milk, roasted red pepper and apples to give it a sweet and savory, creamy taste.
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Yields: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 red pepper, roasted
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed and diced
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tbsp tumeric
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
Instructions
Roasted Red Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the red pepper in half and remove the seeds
  3. Rub the pepper with olive oil.
  4. Place the pepper face down on a baking sheet covered with aluminum
  5. Cook on each side for about 10 minutes, or until the skin starts to turn brown.
Butternut Squash Soup
  1. Heat the coconut milk and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the yellow onion and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
  3. Add add the chopped butternut squash,apple, curry, turmeric, cumin, salt, garlic, and cinnamon to the mix.
  4. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash and apple are soft.
  5. Mix in the the peanut butter and let it cook for another five minutes.
  6. Ladle the mix into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Or alternately, use an immersion blender.

 

Truthy Stuff:

I made this soup two weeks ago but was very reluctant to put it on my blog. I don’t talk much about my efforts to be a better writer or a better photographer on AWFT, but feelings of “not good enough” are certainly a major reason why I don’t blog more. And while I’ve absolutely come a long, long way in my photography, (I can’t believe I’m even showing you those), I still feel like it’s not good enough. If the food tastes great, but the photos are ugly, who’s going to want to cook it?

I always feel uninspired when I photograph anything in bowls. I just don’t know how to make it come alive. Sure, I could buy a bunch of interesting, colorful bowls, but I struggle to maintain some type of minimalist lifestyle, which doesn’t exactly jive with food props. You may notice that all of my bowls and plates are white. I like to eat off of white plates, exclusively. So, it never really makes sense to buy anything else. But, growing my food photography craft is important to me. And I wonder how much is it suffering because I practically refuse to buy cute props. Does anyone else have this problem?

Anyway, now that I’ve realized this, I’m going to try not to let it hold me back, or keep me from posting. My goal for this blog has never been to feel inferior because of financial logistics or lack of consumer goods. Indeed, when I first started blogging, I would never have known what to do with a food prop.

And I have gotten better. Loads better. Not only has my photography improved leaps and bounds, but my recipe writing, blog writing, and even social media engagement are also more developed . And that makes me happy. After all, I do this because it’s fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of cooking, of styling food, and the challenge of  improving.

I enjoy connecting with people, with other bloggers. Most importantly, I like learning from other bloggers and being able to share recipes and my life with you. So, thank you for your continued support and visits to my blog. You make it all worthwhile.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash with pecans and raisins

Are you freezing yet? It has been in the 50’s all day. The cats are sleeping in the weirdest places, trying to stay warm. It’s so cold, all I can think is climbing under the covers with a book (Ender’s Game). Oh, and eating, of course – eating lots of warm things. This quinoa stuffed acorn squash does not disappoint. This dish is filled with warm, whole grains mixed with pecans and raisins, served in a roasted acorn squash bowl. It leaves your belly full and body warm. It’s also easily made into a vegan dish.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

I will be the first to admit that I blew it on these photos.  The lighting couldn’t have been worse. It was dark out, my overhead was yellow, and lest we forget, my walls are puke green. (sigh). Also, someone call Dexter, because I clearly don’t know how to photograph vinegar.  In the few seconds it took for me to adjust my camera, post-drizzle, my plates started to look like blood splatter. Don’t believe me?

The Horror, The Horror

I’m sorry I showed you that. Appetizing, I know. But, if you can look past the camera work and desperate Photoshop touch ups, I promise you these were incredible.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pecans and Rasins
 
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Use the acorn squash as a warm bowl to eat the savory mix of quinoa, pecans and raisins.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Yields: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 2 teaspoons of butter or vegan margarine
  • 2 cups of quinoa, cooked
  • ¼ cup of pecans, chopped into chunks
  • ¼ cup of raisins
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • balsamic vinegar to drizzle
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the acorn squash in half, removing all of seeds and stringy insides.
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  4. Rub the butter on the inside of the acorn squash, including the top rim (basically any part that is yellow).
  5. Place the acorn squash, open side facing up, in the oven.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender and easily punctured with a fork.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa, if you haven't already cooked it.
  8. In a small bowl, create the quinoa mixture by combining the quinoa, raisins, and pecans.
  9. Add salt and pepper to the mixture.
  10. Once the acorn squash is done, scoop a cup of the quinoa mixture into each acorn squash.
  11. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

stuffed-quinoa-2

 

The vinegar was infused with pumpkin pie spice. I found it at Scarborough Fare Oil and Vinegar Tap Room. They have a tasting bar, where you can sample a variety of flavors, including fig vinegar and truffle infused oil. If you’re ever in the cute little town of New Paltz, Ny, stop by and check them out.

tofu spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce

Hey everyone, I’m participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck. It’s a fun opportunity to connect with blogs from all over the world and share our favorite vegan recipes.

If you’re stopping by for the potluck, welcome!

For this potluck, I’m bringing these fresh tofu spring rolls and some peanut dipping sauce.

Tofu Spring Rolls

These spring rolls use rice paper, and I don’t fry the whole spring roll, although I did fry the tofu. You can find the rice paper, rice noodles, tofu, and Thai basil at your Asian grocery store.

Prepare the Tofu

First, press the tofu for about 15 minutes to prepare it. To press tofu, drain it, wrap it in a few layers of paper towels, place it on a plate and put something heavy on it. In my case, I use my cast iron.

Once you’re done pressing the tofu, pat it dry and place it on a cutting board to slice it. I sliced mine on the thin side, a little bit bigger than your finger.

Pour your flour into a bowl. The flour helps give the tofu its golden color when frying. Place each piece of tofu into the flour and cover it well on each side.

In a skillet, heat about a half-inch of oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Place the tofu in the skillet and cook until golden-brown, or about five minutes on each side.

When it’s done, drain the oil on a paper towel.

Prepare the Rice Noodles

Rice noodles take very little prep. You’ll be amazed. Pull apart about a cup of dry rice noodles. Place them in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover the noodles completely with hot water. I heated up some water in a tea kettle, but don’t bring it to a boiling. Let them set for about five minutes, and they’ll be perfectly soft.

Prepare the Rice Paper Wrapping

Ok, so rice paper is a tricky thing. You’ll need patience and delicate fingers. Be prepared to lose a few wrappers in the process. I lost two. You’ll need something that’s large, round, and flat. I used my skillet (do not heat up the skillet). Fill it with about a half-inch of warm water and place the rice paper in it. Let the rice paper rest in the water until it’s completely soft and you can no longer see the textured pattern. This only takes a few seconds. It may try to curl up on you, simply push it down.

Once the rice paper is soft, gently pull it out of the water and give it a shake. Try your best to prevent it from folding up on itself. If it does, you can probably still rescue it, once you put it on a plate. Only soak one rice paper at a time.

The plate can be your best friend. I found using a plate that’s smaller than the paper, and one that has a dip in it can be very useful for helping you straighten out your rice paper. I also let my rice paper dangle on the edge of the place, so I could smooth it out.

Assembly

The trick to assembling these is to avoid over stuffing them. Just remember, less is more. The delicate rice paper can’t handle a lot of stretching, so they’ll either tear, or you won’t be able to completely wrap them. The amount of filling depends on the size of your rice paper, but I try to keep my fillings about the size of my palm.

You can assemble however you’d like, but I put the lettuce first, since it helps keep everything contained. Place your fillings about 1/3 of the way down on the plate.

Rolling it up

Lightly fold the top 1/3 over the fillings, and then fold over the right and left sides one at a time. Once you have three sides folded, you can begin to roll it.

These are severed with the peanut dipping sauce, which can be found at the recipe below.

tofu spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce
 
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Author:
Yields: 11
Ingredients
Spring Rolls
  • 1 16 oz. package extra-firm tofu
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dried rice noodles
  • 11 pieces of rice paper
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 5 leaves lettuce
  • Thai basil and/or mint
Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 heaping tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ c hot water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Instructions
Prepare the Tofu
  1. Press the tofu for 15 minutes, until well drained.
  2. Slice the tofu into ¼ inch thick pieces.
  3. Pour flour into a small mixing bowl.
  4. Place tofu in flour until well coated.
  5. Pour vegetable oil in a skillet. Warm over medium-high heat.
  6. Fry tofu in oil until golden brown, or 5 minutes on each side.
  7. When it has a nice golden brown color, place on a plate with a few napkins, to drain.
Prepare rice noodles
  1. Place rice noodles in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Immerse the noodles in hot water. Let set for 5 minutes, or until tender.
  3. When the noodles are tender, drain the water.
Prepare the rice paper
  1. Place the rice paper in a shallow pool of warm water for about 20 seconds, or until soft.
Assembly
  1. Place the lettuce, tofu, noodles, carrots, and herbs in the middle of the rice paper, about ⅓ of the way down. The spring roll filling should not be larger than your palm. Do not over stuff. Carefully fold the rice paper around the fillings and roll it up.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce, peanuts and sugar, until smooth.

 Thanks again for joining me for this potluck. Please check out the rest of the blogs participating today.

low carb pad thai with tofu

After my roommate and I signed our lease on our new place in Crown Heights, I invited her over to my rental room for an experimental lunch of low-carb pad thai. After all, broker’s fees make me ravenous. I was really concerned about how lunch would taste. I even prepped her, “I’ve never made this before… It might not be good… There’s always pizza if it doesn’t work out.”

So, clearly, I’m a nervous wreck about cooking something new for someone. But this low carb pad thai turned out great. And it only has 13 carbs per serving! The secret? I substituted cabbage for noodles. The carbs were not missed. It was still oily and peanut buttery, which is all I ask for in my pad thai.

pad thai

low carb tofu pad thai
 
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Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: thai
Yields: 5
Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 16 oz. block of extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 cups, or ¼ head of large cabbage, shredded
  • 5 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 2 green onions, chopped
Extra Delicious Options
  • Scrambled Egg
  • Sriracha
Instructions
Fry the Tofu
  1. Press the tofu for about 15 minutes to drain all water
  2. Cut the tofu into triangles or cubes
  3. Pour oil into frying pan, until it covers the whole pan and is about ¼ inch deep
  4. Warm oil over medium-high heat
  5. Add the tofu to the oil and cook on each side for about five minutes, until all sides are a nice tan color, appx. 25 minutes.
  6. Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil
Pad Thai
  1. Chop the cabbage into long, thin pieces
  2. Pour 4 Tbsp. oil into pan and warm it over medium heat
  3. Once the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion and sautee for five minutes, or until soft.
  4. Sautee in the cabbage and top with the soy sauce
  5. Continue to cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a noodle-like consistency
  6. After about 10 minutes, toss in the garlic and peanut butter and give it a stir.
  7. Once the cabbage is completely cooked down, add in the tofu and green onions and let it simmer for a few minutes.
  8. If you want, now is a good time to crack an egg in the mixture and scramble it.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 320 Fat: 27 Carbohydrates: 13 Protein: 12

Felicite was in charge of the photo taking that day. Here’s are some shots of the the cooking.

There’s nothing more satisfying than eating tofu in a triangle shape.

This is the light, golden color you want your tofu to be. On the left, you can see the long strips of cabbage.

Adding the soy sauce. 

This is about mid-way through the cooking process. I would normally cook something like this in my wok, but it’s in storage.

The waiting. This is really an excuse to show off that apron. P.s. That is my entire kitchen. It’s why I haven’t been cooking much since I moved.

Here’s a better view of the kitchen. Things get crowded fast.

And finally adding in the tofu.

Some other, non-food related pics. Kevin, the house cat. The king. I will miss him so much when I move out. 

Felicite took a selfie on our dirty mirror. And I am playing with Kevin in the background.

And this sweet guy. I love him.

vegan banana chocolate chip cookies

A black cloud in my baking repertoire is my lack of experience baking vegan. It’s my dirty little secret. Frankly, vegan baking terrifies me. I get how certain ingredients like eggs and butter work within a recipe. They’re safe and uncomplicated. But when you start replacing eggs with oils and butter with margarine, I’d rather have someone else prepare my desserts for me, which is why I started simple.

vegan banana chocolate chip cookies

My bestie sent me this recipe a year ago, so with her seal of approval, I tried it.

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from this recipe; yields 24; prep time: 10 min; cook time: 13

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 large bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Then mix in vanilla, almond butter, brown sugar, and sugar until well combined. I didn’t use an electric mixer, just the good old arm.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture a little bit at a time, until well combined. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, pour in the chocolate chips. Let’s face it, this is my favorite part.

Once they’re good and covered, time to scoop about a tablespoon of batter onto a baking sheet lines with parchment paper. You’ll have to squish them down into cookies sized shapes, since they don’t bake down or out. I baked 12 at a time. Bake for 13 minutes.

cookies

And, yum.

I was so happy with how tasty these were. And how easy the prep was – probably due to fewer ingredients.

The bananas kept these from drying out like my normal association with vegan baked treats. The original recipe called for peanut butter, which I would have preferred. But I didn’t have any, so I subbed almond butter instead. Yes, I’m the freak that has a house without peanut butter.

cold lentil salad recipe [vegan]

Sorry, but no weekender today. Instead, a yummy recipe that I’ve been munching on all week.

Cold Lentil Salad

Ingredients:


-1 lb brown or green lentils, rinsed
– 1 tsp salt
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-1 bay leaf
-1/4 large onion
-1 clove garlic
– 1 cup chopped celery
– 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
-4 Tbs sesame oil
– 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
-1 Tbs lemon juice

Cook the Lentils:

Rinse the lentils and place them in a pot with the salt, pepper, bay leaf, a quarter of a large onion, and the clove of garlic. Cover with about two to three inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, once you’ve reached the rolling boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain any remaining water and discard the onion, bay leaf, and garlic clove.

Meanwhile,
Chop the celery and parsley and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice and whisk them together. After the lentils have cooked, you can combine the lentils, celery and parsley mixture, and oil mixture in a large bowl.

Cold Lentil Salad Recipe

Sure, this doesn’t look too sexy. But it tastes great. Serve cold and you’ve got lunch for the next week.

coconut curry soup recipe

I really wish they made scratch and sniff blogs, because my house smells amazing right now. It’s been cold and drizzly all day, so I made soup to perk myself up. Hello, dinner.

coconut-curry-soup

It’s a coconut curry soup. It originally started out as The 30-Minute Vegan’s Thai Coconut Soup, but once I realized it lacked curry, I decided to make it my own. Plus, I really didn’t have all of the ingredients to make it “Thai.”

Coconut Curry Soup

Yields: 6
Prep & Cook time: 30

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable stock
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk
2 Tbs. curry powder [I probably added a lot more than this, I love curry.]
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 pkg. (8 oz) firm, chopped tofu
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. agave nectar
2 Tbs. chopped, fresh basil
3 Tbs. soy sauce [to taste]

1. Combine the veggie stock, coconut milk, and spices in a stock pot over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil.
2. Add the yellow onion and garlic. Let simmer for five minutes. While this is simmering, you can prepare the next ingredients.
3. Add in the broccoli and chopped bok choy as they are chopped.
4.  Add the tofu and lemon juice. Let this cook for about fifteen minutes. Vegetables should be tender.
5. Finally add in the agave, basil, and soy sauce [to taste].

Soup for dinner isn’t exactly considered filling, but this is a very hearty soup. It could also be served over basmati rice.

Enjoy!