Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cake With Cashew Coconut Cream Frosting

A deliciously moist chocolate cake covered in cashew coconut cream frosting both enhanced by the tart flavor strawberry butter provides.
I had heard of strawberry butter for quite a while.
In whispered vegan circles, primarily starting from an animal rights activist friend residing in California, she spoke of this fancy brunch that featured chef geniuses whipping a concoction made from strawberries, a rich sweet butter that made Belgian waffles so tasty that she barely touched the maple syrup. 
So conducting research, dismayed to find that strawberries alone cannot make a butter without help (jam, marmalade or preserves for the straight strawberry), the next best thing seemed to blend the fruit with oil- I used melted coconut, but added no sugar for cake was on the agenda!
Now this recipe is just an updated version of my traditional, flat chocolate cake.
The addition of strawberry butter gave an appetizing moist richness and addictive sweetness that made it impossible to stop at one slice (when it comes to chocolate willpower is just not reliable) and with the thick cashew coconut cream frosting also containing the butter the relationship ended well on the taste buds.
This is also my first cashew cream! Yay! Finally made some and looking forward to creating other yummy sauces/frostings/icings/everything with the versatile cashew.
That can be checked off my Vegan Try It List!

Vegan Chocolate Cake Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup strawberry butter*
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients.
Combine wet separately.
Stir wet and dry together.
Place batter into a greased/floured 8" or 9" round cake pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Vegan Strawberry Butter

2 1/2 cups strawberries
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
(blended together)

Cashew Cream Frosting Ingredients

2 cups cashews, (soaked in 2 1/2 cups water for an hour & drained)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup strawberry butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Blend ingredients into blender, pureeing and whipping until satisfactory creaminess.

Once cake is cooled, spread and layer frosting, being careful not to lick the spoon or eat the cake. :D
Sprinkle extra shredded coconut, cinnamon, & cocoa powder if desired.

Frosting just oozes right off the thin chocolate cake.
Ready for a little decadence?
Cake must always be enjoyed with a beverage, right? Had a mug of green tea at ready!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vegan Quinoa, Chickpea, & Walnut Salad W/ Cucumber Yogurt Salad

A salad consisting of delicious flavors- protein rich quinoa blended with chickpeas, a kiss of lemon, sweet cucumber yogurt sauce, & crunchy walnuts. 
Quinoa has become my latest addiction.
A treat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this very pretty edible grain is just as versatile as oatmeal, taking added ingredients with a commendable stride worthy of palatable applause- morning Strawberry Almond Milk Quinoa & Pumpkin Quinoa are just some yummylicious upcoming posts. :D
Everyone knows that I despise salad, especially icy chilliness with lackluster greens and bland dressing offerings typical at some restaurants devoid of vegan options. So whilst making evening quinoa, a warm, inviting idea came to mind- chickpeas, cucumber yogurt sauce, and meaty walnuts just dying to jump right in the skillet and it had to be allowed.
The taste is sheer creative brilliance.
Another delicious experiment done right- chewy quinoa flavored by spices, a pinch of lemon, and enticing textures by chickpeas and walnuts make this salad far from boring!

Vegan Quinoa, Chickpea, & Walnut Salad W/ Cucumber Yogurt Sauce Ingredients

2 cup water
1 cup quinoa (used Ancient Harvest's Traditional)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 half small white onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cucumber yogurt sauce (recipe here)
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Prepare quinoa according to packaged directions.
Stir in the chickpeas within the last 3 minutes of the quinoa's cooking time. Cover again.
Uncover, turn off heat, & stir in the ingredients.
Creamy salad that can be eaten warm or chilled if desired.
Perfect little dinner served with Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness. These 32 oz. juices are on sale buy 1 get 1 free at Kroger's for 2 weeks, my bargain hunting vegan grocery friends!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vegan Maple Orange Glazed Cinnamon Pretzels

These sweet citrus infused pretzels will make anybody's day!
Last night's mood called for a sugary induced treat, especially when a beloved show is going off the air, yes Private Practice, Shonda Rhimes' second television venture, a spin off to her hit, Grey's Anatomy was leaving the airwaves forever in quite a short but bittersweet thirteen episode season.
Pretzels take time to make and this batch had to be special commemoration to the staff at Oceanside Wellness Center.
With orange and maple blended with warm notes of cinnamon and ginger, delectable baked twisted dough caused a stir on the taste buds, all hot and appealing, making fingers sticky and lickable as a river of tears coursed down my cheeks.
It's like hot crossed buns, but in pretzel form! So delicious!
One doesn't have to watch sad series finales to enjoy them. :D

Maple Orange Glazed Pretzels Ingredients

3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
3 tablespoon almond oil
2 tablespoon orange juice (used Tropicana Orange Juice)
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cup flour

Maple Orange Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ginger

Baking Soda Bath

2 cups water
1 tablespoon baking soda


Extra cinnamon
Valencia Orange Peel Seasoning

Mix water, sugar, and salt.
Sprinkle on the yeast.
Let sit for five minutes.
Add the ingredients save for flour.
Gradually mix in the flour 1 cup at a time.

Cover and let rise for an hour.
This didn't rise very high, but it'll do. Bring baking soda water to a boil while cutting, rolling, and creating pretzel shapes.
Lay each pretzel into boiling baking soda bath.
Marinate in maple glaze- flipping over. This should be a minute or so.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Some of the maple orange glaze created a brown caramel onto the baking sheet. Scraped what could be saved and brushed onto pretzels.
Extra cinnamon love.
With Valencia Orange Peel Seasoning scattered atop, mimicking traditional salt crystals.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts W/ Apples & Onions

Brussels sprouts, apples, & onions coated in a delightful maple glaze!
With simple ingredients like Brussels sprouts, apples, and onions drenched in a yummy maple drizzle, Camera Phone Vegan's highlighted post on Vegan Bloggers Unite was worth trying! Though Dijon mustard wasn't on hand and frozen Brussels sprouts were used, it was a very intriguing myriad of flavors coming together in this quite creative dish!
Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts With Apples And Onions

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts W/ Apples & Onions Ingredients

2 12 oz bags frozen Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoon coconut oil
2 chopped apples
1/2 chopped white onion
3 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring the Brussels sprouts to a boil while sauteing apples and onions in coconut oil inside a separate medium heat skillet for 7-10 minutes.
Drain sprouts and place into a shallow baking pan.
Stir in the apples and onions mixture.
Mix maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Drizzle atop the glaze and bake the dish for 20-30 minutes.

FYI: The final step was supposed to be broiling which was why my dish didn't get to be browned and charred, but since there's plenty leftover, will broil it for dinner tonight and hopefully post the dish to look more similar to CPV's original conception. :)

A different spin on Brussels sprouts. Very appeasing with the apples & onions.
Loved how browned the apples became. Now that was satisfactory.
Brussels sprout heaven. Mmmmhmmmm.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vegan Avocado Grilled Cheese W/ Caramelized Onions & Garlic Hummus Sandwiches

Crisp grilled "cheese" sandwiches with a lovely twist & a glass of almond milk!
One of my favorite sandwiches growing up- the almighty grilled cheese!
My sister and I used to make ours extra fancy, sprinkling the bread with garlic and onion powders, and a splash of green pickle juice from the Vlasic jar! Yes, pickle juice. That strange ingredient brought out something special.
Well, now more grown up and of course vegan, I've been crafting all sorts of phenomenal grilled cheese centers- portabella mushrooms, spinach, Roma tomatoes, onions, and everything in between that makes the cheese and bread not be so alone in their greasy relationship.
Today's recipe is one helluva winner!
With olive oil and seasonings toning up crisp wheat bread and cheddar melting perfectly, it's the added benefit of smashed avocado, Trader Joe's amazing mellow garlic flavored hummus, and caramelized onions blended together that brings forth a unique concoction that would make any lunchtime a memorable one.  
Though no pickle juice has ever set surface again, that doesn't mean that it won't!

Vegan Avocado Grilled Cheese W/ Caramelized Onions & Garlic Hummus Sandwiches Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 thin slices white onion
4 slices 100% whole wheat bread (or any desired gluten-free variety)
2 tablespoon Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic Hummus
1 ripened avocado
2 thick slices Daiya Cheddar Style Wedges
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Getting the ingredients together.
While the onions are caramelizing in a small amount of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons or less), prep the sandwiches. Start off by spreading hummus on 2 slices of bread.
Cut the avocado in half, remove seed, & smash each onto the bread right on top of the hummus, smoothing with a knife.
Layer the finished onions & top with a slice of cheese each.
Drizzle each side lightly with olive oil, Italian seasonings, & garlic powder. Place on a medium heat skillet (making sure it's really hot when the first sandwich is laid right in), flatten with back of spatula for a few seconds & cover. Each side takes about 3-5 minutes to brown.
Caution- filling will be hot!
Crisp & "buttery."
Tastes just like a fancy Italian style garlic bread with an ooey gooey creamy rich inside.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vegan Deep Dish Tofu & Vegetable Casserole

A savory baked dish stuffed with tofu cubes, vegetables, & cauliflower cream.
As good as any frozen Amy's pot pie, last night's dinner was a special and memorable challenge.
My original intention to make a real pie turned into a deep dish casserole that fulfilled every last taste bud hope. Yes, my taste buds actually have hopes though hard to believe and fathom. Heehee.
With firm cubed tofu bits, lovely medley of carrots, broccoli, green peas, and chunky portabellas surrounded by cauliflower cream in a delightfully tantalizing crust, this makes the winter time blues something to savor in the cold lonely evenings as the cat nibbles on orange ribbon.
The crust recipe is inspired from here: World's Easiest Vegan Pie Crust

Shamefully promoting that I got Almond Breeze milk for a whopping 49 cents after using this amazing check out coupon from Kroger's. They are selling 64 oz. for $2.99 all week! Can I have another one please???

Crust Bottom

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon almond milk or any other dairy free alternative (used Almond Breeze Unsweetened Original)


1 half block extra firm tofu, diced in small cubes (marinated for 2 minutes in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, & a pinch of salt)
2 cups portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup small finely chopped white onion
3 cups cooked mixed vegetables (used frozen broccoli, green peas, & carrots)

Cauliflower Cream

1 1/2 cup cauliflower, cooked (again frozen)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Crust Top (just half of the bottom recipe)

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

First make the crust bottom.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Fork all ingredients together and press the batter onto a 8 or 9 inch deep dish pan.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.

Preheated crust ready for filling!
After marinating tofu cubes, toss into skillet & cover.
5-7 minutes later, add in the mixed vegetables.
Lower heat and continue stirring evenly.
Turn off the stove 3-4 minutes later & pour in the cauliflower cream. Add additional salt & pepper if needed.
Fill up the shell!
Doesn't that look yum?
After forking up the crust top mixture, shape onto a flat surface, making a flat cookie almost the size of the pan, & carefully lay it on top.
Pop this bad boy (or girl) into the oven for 23-25 minutes.
Ready to be cut.
A crumbly, flaky crust with a sweet bite and a flavorful filling with tofu's chicken like cubed texture simply amazing all on its own!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vegan Orange Balsamic Tofu

Tofu in a delicious marinade of orange juice, balsamic vinegars, & spices atop of a fresh, semi-wilted spinach bed.
Yum yum tofu!
One of the most versatile ingredients a vegan can use for the savory, the sweet, and the in between, tofu is more than a simple white solid soy block- it's a mold waiting for magician's magic to transform it into worthy palatable innovation!
And I try not to eat so much of this addicting divinity, once a week, maybe less, but when tofu is on the menu, it's imperative that it be prepared in a uniquely crafted manner.
For this recipe, orange and balsamic vinegar kiss each other in sweet greeting, give the plain, devoid flavor of tofu a delicious lightly crisped coating and a meaty interior tenderness irresistible in each bite.
This very easy pan fried recipe can also be baked too and if the citrus flavor is found compelling add a sprig of orange zest atop to heighten that desire.

Orange Balsamic Tofu

1/2 block tofu, drained and sliced into 6 rectangles
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoon Simply Asia Ginger Garlic Seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoon olive oil for frying

In a small bowl, place tofu slices into the mixed marinade, getting each slice evenly coated and allow to soak in the flavor for 2-3 minutes.

On medium heated skillet coated with olive oil, toss the tofu slices one at a time and pour the sauce over top.
Uncover and flip the tofu over if it's browned crisply which will take approximately 3-5 minutes, especially if pan is hot and the cracking sizzling action can be heard loud and clear.

Once finished, serve atop of desired dish.