Feb 12, 2014

Lasagna Costume Birthday Party Fun

Spontaneous costumes surprise birthday parties with wildly fun people are always a great decision. Adding lasagna and vegan cookies takes them to the next level. Fine organic red wine is optional but recommend.


1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise & sliced
16 oz super firm tofu, crumbled
8 oz prepared TVP (recipe in this post)
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
50 oz pasta sauce (2 jars)
16 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained.
4 oz Daiya Cheese

In a large saucepan, skillet or pot combine zucchini, mashed tofu, TVP, nutritional yeast, salt, cayenne and 35 oz of pasta sauce. Heat on low and simmer for approx 5 min. Remove from heat and set filling aside.

In a lasagna pan put a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom. Add an overlapping layer of noodles. Add a generous layer of filling. Add another layer of noodles, filling and a final noodle layer. Top with remaining sauce and Daiya Cheese.

Heat in oven or toaster oven at 400F for 5-8 mins, until cheese is melted.

Serves 6-8

Easily made Gluten Free with gluten free lasagna noodles.  Ancient Harvest brand Shells or Veggie Curls would be a fun to use too. When it comes to GF noodles I prefer the quinoa ones over the rice ones.

Serve with garlic bread and side salad.

Prepared TVP

TVP (textured vegetable protein) is the go to ingredient I often use to bulk up a chili, round out a pasta sauce, top a nacho plate, combine with rice for stuffed grape leaves or roll into sushi.

You could save time by buying any of the various ready made ground soy crumbles/beef available in stores but I haven't found a brand I like. Even when flavored they've never tasted good enough or had the right texture for the dish.

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) & Maki Sushi
Prepared TVP
(textured vegetable protein)

8oz TVP (Bob's Red Mill is easy to find)
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp coconut sugar or cane sugar
3 tbsp tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
2 cups water

Combine TVP, oil, salt, pepper, sugar in bowl and mix well. Brown in non-stick ceramic pan til lightly browned/toasted or bake in toaster oven til browned, approx 5 min. Stir in water and tamari and heat on low til liquid totally absorbed. If there is any slight crunch on tasting, add another 1/4 cup of water and heat further.

Jan 9, 2014

Celebrating the New Year with Curry & Cranium

Here's to a new year and new habits.
On too many occasions in the past, I've not had a recipe for a dish that I've shared or posted about. Thankfully Heather, my wife Tiffany's BFF, had us over for new year's and she asked if I could show her how make a curry. Usually, like a lot of cooks with favorite recipes, you add a little bit of this and then a little bit of that until the cooking is done. This time, I took the time to make measurements while Heather wrote them down. Adjustments were made along the way as I tasted.

The curry I made is one I've been making for years, it's one of the many variations I enjoy, I hope you'll have fun making it.

Pineapple Curry

3 russet potatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
5 carrots, cut into medallions
1/2 cup green peas
1 cup of pineapple chunks
1 cup of pineapple juice
1 1/2 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 oz tomato paste
2 tsp salt
2 cups of potato broth/water
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 lb super firm tofu (optional)

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to boil then add potatoes. Lower heat to avoid boiling over. Cook til potatoes slightly break apart on poking. Remove from heat and set aside 2 cups of water from pot. Drain potatoes and set aside.
While potatoes are boiling, add oil to a separate pot, set to medium heat and add garlic, carrot and onion. Stir gently and cook til onions are translucent and carrots are softened.
Lower heat and add peas, pineapple, juice, curry powder, cinnamon, tomato paste, salt and potato water. Heat another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add peanut butter and potatoes to curry and cook another 3 minutes, stirring gently.

Serve over basmati rice or with naan bread.

Feel free to omit any ingredients or add your own vegetables. Make your own signature curry.

Consider these:
coconut milk (use the thick version that comes in a can & buy organic to ensure BPA free lining)
red Thai curry paste or green Thai curry paste and/or Thai basil
any of the cabbage family like broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage!
bring on the squash with butternut, Kabocha, pumpkin, zucchini or summer squash
bell peppers are classic
bulk it up with chick peas, red lentils or green lentils

The last step is to let your meal digest and then play games with the wittiest people you can find.

Happy New Year!

Sep 6, 2013

Beat the heat with a slice of Ice-Cream Cake & Why I do what I do

As a child  I spent a lot of time wondering what I should do for a living. From a young age I never saw myself working in an office or being a company man. I did like to draw, that was for sure. Creativity was fun, pure and simple. It took me a long time to figure out that fun is definitely at my core. Growing up I had very few friends and thought I was an introvert. Today life is much different, I'm around lots of super people and I've learned that laughter is food to me. Unfortunately, I have a hard time clicking with someone if I can't figure out their sense of humor. Anyway, going back to making a living, when I was younger I truly believed that as an artist I would have a tough time making a living. How would I make money as a painter or by drawing sketches? I'm sure I would have thought differently if I had grown up today. Back then, no one had computers and successful animated movies were rare.

Alright, it's time for another dessert recipe. This time it's a raw fruit sweetened sauce. Oddly, I make a lot of desserts, but if you've spent time with me, you'd know that I don't crave sweets at all. I'll enjoy an ice-cream sandwich or a slice of cake, but I usually stick to savory eats.

Ginger Spice Caramel Sauce
8 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Combine all in high speed blender and blend til smooth.
A food processor will work too, but it'd be more of a chunky topping than a sauce.
The sauce will be thick and firm up a bit when refrigerated. Allow to warm up out of the fridge for ease of pouring.

As I got older pursuing romance took priority over a choosing a career. This went on for decades. During that time vegan happened, the coolest thing ever. But what to eat? Overtime the food got better and the art of it all came about. Who would have guessed that what I made in a kitchen could bring such joy.

Pictured above is a slice of petite ice-cream cake with the caramel sauce. Use it yourself on pancakes, with oatmeal, on a sundae or as a dip for fresh fruit. The ice-cream cake recipe is here. Pour it into a spring pan for a large ice-cream cake or into a baking cup (typically used for cupcakes or muffins) for a petite cake.

I opted for a modest sized dessert since both the cake and the sauce are ultra decadent and rich. I set aside some slices in 3oz portion cups for later. A portion cup fits easily in the palm of your hand, perfect for the beach or a picnic. 

As a fun question, who here can relate to this smoothie? I don't like waste, so I add a cup of water and some protein powder to the Vitamix to make use of all of the sauce still stuck to the sides of the pitcher. Ginger date protein smoothies are awesome!

Sep 2, 2013

White Chocolate Ice-cream OMG Yum Nom Nom

Chocolate or raw cacao desserts are standard crowd favorites, but just for the sake of variety here's a quick raw recipe using raw cacao butter and orange. This dessert is different than most of my first raw ones, which had to be kept frozen and then allowed to thaw since they were too hard to eat out of the freezer. This hard ice-cream is fridge stable. Since there is fresh fruit in it, keep it in the freezer if you aren't going to eat it within a couple days.

White Chocolate Orange Ice-cream
1/2 cup raw cashew
1/4 cup raw cacao butter
3 tbsp coconut sugar or 1/4 tsp powdered stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, peeled or 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed OJ
zest of half an orange approx 2 tsp
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Combine all in a high speed blender and work til smooth. Pour contents into your vessels of choice and let set in freezer.

For a simpler white chocolate ice-cream, replace the OJ with water and leave out the zest. Triple the vanilla for vanilla ice-cream.

Any fresh fruit or fresh squeezed juice, whether it be kiwi, pineapple, raspberry, durian, goji, acai berry or pear, can be substituted for the OJ.

Of course if you feel that it's not dessert without chocolate, who's to stop you. Just in case you missed the post on why fair trade chocolate click here and scroll to the bottom for the fun vid and link.

Desire a little more wow factor or you happen to have a bit more time on your hands, try this one.

White Chocolate Truffle
In eight silicone mini cupcake cups, pour in the white chocolate layer using the recipe above. Place in freezer to set for at least an  hour. You can also use mini cupcake baking pan.

Remove from freezer and pour white chocolate orange layer on top. 
Set in the freezer.
Top with your favorite fruit or sauce.

Want some more fancy in your life? A quenelle will add that bit of French to your life you've always wanted.
What you'll need is two spoons and some time to practice. Alternate a spoonful of ice-cream between spoons until you achieve the desired football shape.

Plate as it's own dessert with sauce, fruit or garnish or accent another dessert like cake or crepes.

This quenelle was made with mango ice-cream.

Throw a party with your elite group of friends and wow them with your skills. The kind of party where you dust off your nice table ware, use cutlery you need to polish and break out your good set of wine glasses.

Jumping back to an older post, my friend Ioanna submitted a pic of a dessert she made using this recipe for the gluten free choc chip oatmeal cookies.

Awesome job Ioanna!

Jul 25, 2013

Sprouting 101, Mung Beans and Raw Sushi

The whole raw food movement or diet can be a little daunting. But don't be stressed out, you don't have to go as far as buying a whole new set of  strange kitchen tools like dehydrators, spiral slicers, nut butter grinders or high powered juicers. There are some simple foods you can add using what you have laying around. If you have a shallow bowl, jar or plate you can definitely sprout mung beans. Mung beans have a decent amount of fiber and protein, as well as Vit K and folate, B vitamin good for your skin, blood, bones...

Day 1 - add water
Day 2 - drain, rinse well, add enough water to cover halfway (twice during day)
Day 3 - drain, rinse and eat
If storing, use airtight container and keep in fridge.

Great topper for salad, in maki sushi or as a snack.

For the salad I used the Raw Pecan Ranch from an older post. Modify the ranch dressing for sushi by leaving out the lemon and sweetener. Add a teaspoon of dry wasabi powder if you want the extra kick.

For the raw maki sushi I did modify the pecan ranch and used the raw miso mayo.

Raw Maki Sushi
raw or toasted nori - cut into one inch strips
jicama - skin removed and cut into strips using a vegetable peeler
cucumber or zucchini - strips using a peeler
raw miso mayo - line down center
Layer nori, jicama, cucumber and mayo.
Roll into sushi. 
A variation uses the mung beans mixed with the raw miso mayo and diced red peppers. You can do it with or without the nori. To make room for the filling, the roll has a larger open center with butter lettuce to keep it from falling through.
For a shortcut you can also use a store bought Miso Mayo.

If you want to take on some more challenging sprouts, get your hands on alfalfa, broccoli, radish, garlic or red clover seeds. For those a sprouting jar, made using a mason jar and a square of cheese cloth, is easy enough to put together. Seeds, kits and info at Mumm's.

For more raw meals and desserts, the vibrant and inspirational Ani Phyo has a great site with some recipes and books available.

Jul 9, 2013

4th of July Vegan Style, with Sushi Bowls of course

fresh to the table
There's something very therapeutic about making food for loved ones.
Every step deserves close attention.
From the planning of the perfect dish,
to the care taken choosing each ingredient,
to the prepping of the produce - chop? scallop? julienne? grate?
to the cooking of each component
and to the presentation.

farmer's market treasures
I understand that this much attention to each stage of cooking is not everyone's cup of tea. Different people are drawn to different activities like gardening, crafting, hiking, knitting or running. But for me, when I cook for people I care for, it's not work, it's not a drag, it's a joy. For me it's about fully immersing myself in the moment.  Giving myself a break from the regrets and fears that fill my head. Taking the opportunity to create and put on a grand performance.

I remember a cloudy stretch between sunny days when I decided I didn't want to cook anymore.
Being in a kitchen had become too tied to memories best forgotten. Fortunately, I was blessed with friends that helped to bring me out of that place.

Clean up is the step that I would be happy to do without. Other than that, having people over for dinner is such a win win for everyone. I like eating out for new culinary adventures but there's no place home.


How about this for a non-traditional 4th of July diner?

I thought it would be fun for people have a sushi bowl.
The base of the bowl was 2 parts jasmine rice and 1 part forbidden rice. Black/purple rice, reserved for royalty in the past, has the same nutrition as brown rice plus extra antioxidants. I prefer the texture too, less of a husky chew. The forbidden rice, serving for 6, was seasoned with 4 sheets of finely shredded roasted nori and 1/4 cup of soy sauce - using a gluten free shoyu easily makes the bowl gluten free. 

The grand selection of fine topping included black bean nori, sauteed shitake mushrooom, crispy ginger, minced soy beef, hass avocado, cherry tomato and seasoned nori snacks.

Black Bean Nori
1 cup of organic black beans - canned or soaked and cooked
1 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 sheet of roasted nori, finely shredded with kitchen scissors
1 tbsp shoyu or tamari sauce
heat all in a pot on medium heat til bubbly, stirring occasionally

Sauteed Shitake
1 cup of fresh shitake, sliced in strips or soaked and drained from dried mushrooms
2 tsp refined coconut oil - neutral taste and aroma
1 tbsp shoyu/tamari sauce
1 tsp coconut sugar or agave
heat oil in a pan on medium
cook mushrooms til slightly browned
lower heat, add sauce and sugar, heat another 2 min

Ginger Crisps
4 oz fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp refined coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
heat oil in a pan on med/high
place ginger in a single layer in pan
heat til slightly browned, turn over once, brown

There was also a salad that turned into an interesting tell of people's personalities. Some had the salad as a starter while others mixed the salad with the rice in varying proportions. The salad had romaine lettuce, dinosaur kale and parsley. The dressing was a tangy pecan ranch.

Tangy Pecan Ranch Dressing
massaged kale salad
1/2 cup raw cashew
1/4 cup raw pecan
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice or juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt or 1/8 to1/4 if less desired 
1 tbsp yellow miso
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 fresh clove
2 tsp coconut sugar or agave
Combine all in high speed blender til creamy

2 tbsp of nutritional yeast in place of miso
2 tsp unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in place of lemon juice
just pecan or just cashew
make it nut free with sunflower seeds

The dressing is fun on any salad. Use it in a wrap or in a sandwich. Flavor punch a pasta by leaving out the lemon and combining it with marinara sauce.

The raw dressing also helps fight inflammation and has a low glycemic index.
One serving boasts significant amounts of the minerals magnesium and manganese ( magnesium benefits, manganese for your health). 

For dessert we had organic fair trade chocolate chip brownie cupcakes with choc icing and a peanut butter cream. Curious about why fair trade, jump to older post.
If cupcakes are your thing check out this magic book of goodness.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
or order some up from this Wizard of sweet delights
Clara Cakes

And now a dance break!
Just in case you haven't visited yet, here's a new restaurant in LA Rawsheed Fusion Chef.