Spring Dumplings

I have this weekend tradition with a close friend from college: every Sunday (except for race days), we get brunch together and try to find a new restaurant in NYC every time.

Lately, things have been kind of crazy for both of us. With us both being grad students, it isn’t always easy to make time for brunch. Add in our love for running races (and my new-found appreciation of duathlons) that tend to occur on the weekends, we’ve really been slacking off on our tradition. So to change it up a bit, we decided to cook together last night and, if I may say so, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked. He’s vegetarian, so adding in the dairy-free limitation left us with mainly vegan recipes, but they turned out so amazingly, I wanted to share at least one with everyone!

We decided to make garlic eggplant with cashew nuts (he was in charge of that, so I won’t be posting that recipe here), and we served them with homemade spring vegetable dumplings. This is not quick recipe since chopping the vegetable and wrapping the dumplings did take a while, but other than time wise, it was a super easy recipe!

The great thing is you can use basically any veggies you want to – we opted for asparagus, mushrooms, and scallions, but I’m sure carrots, cabbage, broccoli, … would work just as well! The recipe made about 30 dumplings and we guestimated a lot and may have gone overboard on the ginger, but luckily we are both huge ginger fans (so you may want to scale down if that’s not the case for you). Anyways, long story short, here’s the recipe for our spring dumplings!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms (we used shiitake and white button mushrooms)
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1.5 cups soft tofu
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/3 cup chopped ginger
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • dumpling wrappers (we bought premade ones, but there are plenty of recipes online on how to make your own!)
  • salt to taste

Chop up all the veggies and the tofu. Heat up about half of the sesame oil in a wok or large pan, add the garlic, ginger and scallions and stir fry for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and continue to stir fry for about 3-5 minutes. Add the tofu and salt and cook until desired consistency is reached.

Let the veggie mix cool down and then pulse it a few times in a food processor (you don’t want to make a slush, so don’t overpulse it). Put some water in a bowl, lay out the dumpling wrappers and add about a teaspoon of the veggie mix to each wrapper. Wet your fingers with the water, trace along the out edge of the wrappers and close up the dumplings. Repeat until all of the filling is gone.

Heat up the rest of the sesame oil in a large pan, add as many dumplings and fry them for about 2 minutes. Add a small layer of water, cover, and let them steam for another 2-3 minutes.

We ate our dumplings with soy sauce and Sriracha which went perfectly with the ginger in the dumplings, but I’m sure a nice rice-wine vinegar/sesame oil/soy sauce mix would also taste delicious!

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Shakshuka

… or as I found out yesterday, the same as eggs in purgatory!

This may be my first non-vegan recipe I post, but it is still dairy-free. I also realize this is a very easy, straightforward recipe and that people have their own ways of making this dish, but I also love looking at other people’s recipes for inspiration. Shakshuka is such an easy, quick, and yet oddly satisfying dish to make. It fills me up, I can add whatever I want to it, and it’s actually pretty healthy. Plus the colors – looking at the red of the tomatoes, mixed with the bright yellows of the eggs and the fresh green of the spinach just makes me so happy.

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So if you are looking for a quick, filling, and healthy dinner, here is my take on Shakshuka! Since I am ~single and ready to mingle~, this recipe is for one person, but it’s so easy to scale!

Ingredients:

  • one small (14.5 oz) can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • handful of spinach (can be easily replaced with kale)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs

Heat up the olive oil in a medium frying pan (a slightly deeper one is good), add the garlic and onions at medium heat, cook for about a minute (don’t burn them!). Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika, and cook again for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the diced tomatoes, let the sauce simmer for a few minutes, and once it comes to a boil, crack in both eggs near the middle. Cook the eggs for about 3 minutes, add the spinach around the edges, cover and let cook until the egg whites turn white.

This is usually enough food for me, but if you are craving carbs with this dish, quinoa and/or bread go really well with it. Before serving it, let it cool for a couple of minutes and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Smoothie

Today’s breakfast smoothie is a combination of my current non-stop craving for chocolate, some creativity, and a smoothie suggestion from a dear college friend that she called “Black Forest cake inspired.”

I changed it up a bit from her recommendation, made it dairy free and added some extra carbs since I was planning on going swimming today.

I try to make all of my breakfast smoothies filling and usually hit between 350-400 calories (for those of you counting), and this one fits right in! So if you are a fan of chocolate, cherries, and delicious smoothies, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cold green tea or water
  • 1/2 cup coconut-almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 cup ground raw oats
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • handful of fresh spinach if desired
  • dash of cinnamon

Blend it well, sip it or down it all in one, and most importantly: enjoy!

Chocolate, Red Wine, Blackberry Cake

Hm… Chocolate, wine, and dairy-free? What’s not to like about this cake!

I’ve been busy procrastinating on a pretty important report that is due in a bit over a week, and what better way to procrastinate than to bake! A friend of mine recently asked me to bake something chocolaty (and flourless, but I sorta ignored that request), and when I stumbled upon a vegan red-wine chocolate cake recipe, I knew I had to try it!

The cake itself is surprisingly fluffy, not too sweet, and you can definitely taste the wine in it (so I recommend paying that extra dollar or two for some higher-quality wine. Nothing wrong with some three buck chuck, but you may want to use slightly better quality here).

I decided to bake this cake without any toppings, and if/when I should make this again, I think I will add a vegan chocolate ganache and some berries on top. It also tastes amazing with some jam (actually, my breakfast this morning was a piece of this cake with blackberry jam and my vanilla turmeric latte).

But before I keep on talking and make everyone even more hungry, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients (inspired by http://www.lovefoodeat.com/red-wine-chocolate-cake-100-whole-wheat-vegan-refined-sugar-free/ ):

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 5 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup blackberry jam
  • 1 cup red wine

Preheat your oven to 300 F. Sift the flower. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and all the wet ones in a separate bowl. Add the two mixtures together, mix well and pour into a greased round-pan (I used olive oil to grease the pan). Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Let cool on a cooling rack and enjoy. Quick, easy, and yet so yummy!

Lavender Cashew-“Cheese”cake

Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts – be it chocolate, strawberry, or just New York style – and giving it up when deciding to go dairy free has been one of the toughest choices I have made food-wise.

So imagine my delight when I came across this amazing dairy-free lavender cheesecake recipe! It’s a bit on the pricey side (who knew cashews were so expensive!), but let me tell you: it is more than worth it. I made it last night for a friend’s birthday and can’t stop telling people about it. Especially now with spring finally hitting the East Coast, it’s the perfect dessert with a subtle hint of lavender over a background of lemon.

I decided to make a graham-cracker crust instead of the originally suggested date-nut one because I wanted to get the truest cheesecake feel possible, and I tweaked the ingredients a bit since I found the original recipe too lemony. And I must say: I think it turned out quite well!

 

Ingredients (inspired by http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2012/01/lavender-cheesecake-with-lemon-honey.html) :

Crust:

  • 8 Honey Graham Crackers, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Filling:

  • 3 cups cashews (soaked for several hours)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 small lemons)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp lavender extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 F. Blend all the ingredients for the crust together, and press the mixture into a round cake pan. Bake in oven for about 12 minutes and let the crust cool off.

Meanwhile, drain the cashews and add all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth mixture. Once the crust has cooled off, spoon the filling into the crust and put into the fridge over night (and yes, feel free to snack on the batter. It is amazing!).

I almost drizzled some chocolate on top to decorate, but didn’t want to take away from the lavender. Let me know in the comments if you decide to give that a try!

Zucchini Fries

I somehow stocked up on zucchinis last week and have been wracking my brain as to what to do with them. Frittata? Nah, wasn’t feeling that tonight. Zucchini pasta? Not really in a tomato mood. Turkey-zucchini chili (recipe soon to come) – sounded great, but I didn’t have any turkey at home.

Then I remembered this recipe I found a few weeks ago and had been planning on trying for a while: zucchini fries! Looking like a healthy, no-fry and quick dinner, I gave them a try tonight and must say: a great, low-ingredient and fast way to use up any zucchini laying around!

Ingredients

(inspired by http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2013/05/28/crispy-healthy-baked-zucchini-fries/) :

  • 2 small zucchinis, washed and cut into fry-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I loooove garlic, so you may want to reduce this)
  • 1/2 cup coconut-almond milk (the coconut really went well with the fries!)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut up the zucchinis in fry-sized slivers. Mix the flour, salt and garlic powder in a bowl, and mix the bread crumbs with the nutritional yeast in a separate bowl. Pour the milk in a third bowl and place them all close to each other. Put a cooling rack on top of a baking pan and put it near the bread crump bowl.

Dip each zucchini sliver first in the flour mix, then the milk, and then roll it in the bread crumbs. Place it on the cooling rack and once the rack is full, back the fries for about 20 minutes.

The fries are on the dryer side, so I would recommend serving them either with ketchup or a tomato sauce of a kind. I ended up mixing some tomato paste with soy sauce and Sriracha, which really complemented the garlic-cheese flavor of the fries!

 

Relaxing Lavender Smoothie

Hello, hello!

The week is almost over with, and if yours has been anything like mine, then you will love this relaxing night-time smoothie.

I tend to go to evening yoga classes and usually am not very hungry afterwards, so a smoothie is usually my go-to dinner on yoga nights. Sometimes I’m in a chocolately mood (I’ll post an awesome mint-avocado-chocolate smoothie soon!), but tonight I just wanted to unwind. I just recently purchased some edible lavender oil and have been dying to try it out. I also LOVE adding bananas to my smoothies (if you haven’t noticed yet) and I know that they can help you sleep.

Since this is a post-workout smoothie, I – as per usual – added some protein powder, but in case you want to skip that, doubling up on the vanilla extract could do the trick (I haven’t tried this though, so I’m not sure how good that will work).

Anyways, here are my ingredients for my relaxing evening lavender smoothie! Add in a hot bath with candle light and there shouldn’t be anything in your way to a good night’s sleep.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I prefer fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup coconut-almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup green tea, cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lavender extract (use sparingly; I put too much in on my first try and it ruined the entire smoothie)