Monday, June 30, 2014

Gluten Free Garlic Spinach Pancakes With Cauliflower Cream Sauce

Spinach pancakes are met with cauliflower creaminess.
Gluten free pancakes are a wonderful closing to June. It has been a stormy, rainy, very hot Dayton vacation thus far. The only cure is to stay indoors drinking ice cold tea and writing/drawing in front of the A/C.
Fall registration has also arrived. I have to make sure that each class is worthy and won't cause easy distraction. I become sidetracked and procrastinate a lot more than necessary. For two years of MFA, I have to be more focused and organized. Quite thankful that the graduate office included course descriptions and websites to critic faculty's work.
Now back to pancakes.
I do enjoy Maple Groves Pancake/Waffle Mix. It's definitely something to keep on hand and makes cooking pancakes a much more simpler exercise. Spinach and garlic are the key ingredients to a savory breakfast (lunch or dinner) and though the mix has a bit of sweetness, it's not overwhelming to overall flavor. My maddening desire for cauliflower cream returns and covers crisp, browned perfection in a manner that is almost sinful. Not the chocolate kind of sinful. Almost. But not quite.
Makes about 5-6 cakes and must be shared.

Gluten Free Garlic Spinach Pancakes With Cauliflower Cream Sauce Ingredients And Preparation

1 cup Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake/Waffle Mix
1/4 cup spinach, steamed
1/3 cup almond milk
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cauliflower Cream Sauce

1 cup cauliflower, cooked
1/4 cup almond milk
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Heat skillet with oil or nonstick spray.
Whip together Maple Grove Farms Gluten Free Pancake/Waffle Mix with cooked spinach, almond milk, olive oil, garlic, turmeric, salt, paprika, and black pepper.
Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into hot skillet.
Wait for edges to brown and flip over.

For Cauliflower Cream Sauce, simply place cauliflower, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, and white pepper into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning sprinkled obsession.
Thick cauliflower cream inserted between spinach pancakes.

Another closeup.
Nothing says "Welcome Back to Dayton" like the latest Dayton City Paper.
Beautiful interior.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Family Togetherness And Fond Memories At Wheat Penny's Oven And Bar

Two sweet gals ready to chat and chow down.
National Vegan Pizza Day isn't complete without an unseen chef making pizza for me.
My aunt and I had a great time catching up on life at the Oregon District's popular pizza joint Wheat Penny- formerly the location of Coco's Bistro.
It was her first time at Wheat Penny. I knew it would be special. 

The first Wheat Penny experience with sweet Aussie pal Anna! <3
I first visited the new restaurant back around December. Muted lights and charming atmosphere lured me back through its wooden doors today. Figured it would be perfect background for a lunch date. The outside architecture is pretty awesome to marvel. I used to walk by last year, watching it being constructed. Nice job! Colored bricks, light grays, and natural woods give a rather rustic charm. Interiors only add to earthy radiance. Plus music isn't too loud. Occupants can still have a nice conversation without shouting.

Charming building right?
After our photo session (heehee! thanks family guy outside), we were greeted by various friendly staff. Marissa, our waitress, performed above duty, making sure everything timely brought out to us. I love lemon water. It's what I always drink on restaurant outings. Lemon slices were bright yellow and fresh tasting. A waiter always seemed to be nearby with water pitcher ready to pour. Gotta love that attentive service.
I did wish to have one of the lunch specials- the broccolini and cherry tomato pizza sounded appetizing. Unfortunately, specials couldn't be made vegan. Like last visit, Build A Pizza ingredients available were Daiya cheese, caramelized onions, garlic braised mushrooms, and spinach. I ordered Daiya cheese, garlic braised mushrooms, and spinach.
Funny thing- large pizzas are served atop large Sam's Club sized tomato cans. Personal pizzas don't need that much height. Heehee!
The California style crust, proofed over several days and baked inside a 700 degree deck oven, is thick and well browned- great crunchy and chewy combined textures. On their site it's simply described: "our slightly chewy, air-pocketed crust complements our delicious toppings." My aunt teased me about eating pizza with a knife and fork, but that's how I like it. It's not overly greasy and not too saucy. No need for extra salt. Although I did crave nooch and crushed red pepper.
Vegan ice creams featured were coconut milk based vanilla, almond milk based chocolate, soy milk based strawberry, and soy milk based cherry chocolate chip. Of course, I went for two scoops of the latter. 
Overall, delicious food and amazing company!
Hoping that the next visit has a more versatile array of vegan options. Even if they don't, I know what to order anyway!
Spinach, garlic braised mushrooms, and piping hot Daiya Mozzarella Style Cheese top marinara sauce! Doesn't it look mighty familiar? Yes. Same exact pizza as December. Still delicious and highly recommended.
Dessert was two generous scoops of cherry chocolate chip soy milk ice cream! Heavenly. Like the Trader Joe's version.Next time, sneaking in a can of Soy Whip. Don't tell anyone!
Our magical day didn't end at Wheat Penny. We visited Aunt Rhonda- who's in the strongest, greatest spirits right now!!!! Yippee!!! :D

Happy National Vegan Pizza Day! Broccoli & Pumpkin Pistachio Cream Pizza

It's National Vegan Pizza Day! Nom! Nom!
It's the last Saturday in June and every vegan knows what that means- National Vegan Pizza Day! Yippee! I've seen a lot of wonderful, creative pies today that have my mind spinning for next year (okay actually far earlier than that!). Gotta love our little glorious holiday to delight on warm crust piled high with various fixings!
I'm an avid lover of broccoli- well known fact about me. So it's no surprise that for National Vegan Pizza Day broccoli steals the show. Almost. Remember the amazing pumpkin pistachio cream from weeks ago? It serves as the perfect sauce to nooch drenched broccoli. The flavors are downright gratifying and rich- very a gourmet deliciousness.

Broccoli & Pumpkin Pistachio Cream Pizza Ingredients and Preparation

pizza dough
1 cup broccoli, steamed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup red onion
2 tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup pumpkin pistachio cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease baking sheet any way desired - olive or coconut oil or nonstick spray.
Mix warm broccoli with nutritional yeast, red onion, almond milk, garlic, salt, black pepper and paprika.
Lay out pizza dough onto baking sheet however way desired (mine is all funky) and layer pumpkin pistachio cream on top.
Add broccoli and red onions. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Doesn't look like much difference- but broccoli is brown and pumpkin pistachio cream is a deeper orange shade.
Sprinkle crushed pistachios for extra texture and prettiness.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Creamy Roasted Walnut Butter

Walnut butter- bringing pleasure to all walks of life from pancakes to smoothies.
There is absolutely nothing like making homemade nut butter! Then again, I like to think homemade any kind of vegan food to be a wonderful. Blood, sweat, and tears go into making a good, quality recipe worth sharing. Creamy Roasted Walnut Butter blends together the amazing flavor of roasted yumminess with agave and a pinch of salt. So simple and so delicious.
I haven't made a nut butter since Nutella- circa 2012 (wowza!). Peanut Butter & Company's Dark Chocolate Dreams and Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Peanut Butter keeps me happy. That isn't a good enough excuse to not be experimenting. Exploring other kinds of butters beyond peanuts glitters up meals beyond sandwiches. Almonds, cashews, and pecans are all the rage right now and will perhaps be part of my future. For now, we got walnuts- which are not bad! I've been using them a lot lately- a garnish here, taco "meat" there.
I loved the taste of Creamy Roasted Walnut Butter, but the next batch will be a lot thicker.

Creamy Roasted Walnut Butter

1 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked overnight
2 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon walnut oil (peanut, coconut, or olive is fine too)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Drain walnuts, but conserve some of the walnut water (about a tablespoon or two).
Lay flat onto baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

Kind of an art.
Blend roasted walnuts with water, agave nectar, walnut oil (or other alternative), and salt, tasting to see if at desired taste. Puree and puree until it's a smooth consistency. Add a pinch more agave for extra sweetness and salt for saltier flare. Pour into container and keep refrigerated.

Perfect on these delicious Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Earth Balance Curbs Away Cheez-Its Desire With Fantastic Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares

A happy gal and orange beak companion enjoying a new box of Earth Balance's Vegan Cheddar Awesomeness!
When I first became vegan (oh so long ago), I had a craving. A huge craving. I could make "cheesy" squares (crackers actually) of my own, but was much too lazy to take on the task. Funny right? Considering that some meals take an upwards of three hours to prepare. The cravings would persist and I would look at Cheetos and Cheez-Its, saying to myself aren't these composed of fake cheese anyway? Of course I never gave in. Nonfat milk, whey, and cheese "cultures" being primary ingredients turned the stomach just a bit.
I have Earth Balance's White Cheddar Puffs and Vegan Buttery Popcorn to keep me company, but alas they have perfected a Cheez-Its victory. Yippee!! Vegan Cheez-Its are here!
For weeks, they advertised on Facebook.
I went to Whole Foods anticipating to try their latest- Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares.And.....

THEY WERE ALWAYS OUT! You too would be pulling out afro hairs if you saw this week after week. Oh the angst!
I waited for them to stock. With great patience. Greatest patience ever mustered for a vegan product. The desperation making pores drench out sweat long before stepping outside in the heat. Alas, I gave up and headed towards another Whole Foods location (the one that doesn't sell Earth Balance's Aged White Cheddar Puffs). They had three full facings of much desired crackers. THREE FACINGS! Sorry for the exclamations and caps, but how else could you all understand my excitement, my hype.
I picked up a box, hugged it against my chest, and sang "Hallelujah."
Okay. Not really.
I placed it in my reusable grocery tote and fought the urge to stuff my face on the bus.

Yummiest little squares ever concocted. And no animal harmed. Gotta adore that.
As soon as I returned home, propriety flew out the window! I was on the crackers like a raving Cookie Monster on a cookie rampage. Nom nom nom nom nom nom. ;)
Earth Balance has once again swept in with its superhero dynamics- rescued us vegans from our withdrawals of beloved childhood favorites. These squares are incredible! The shape, the minute dots- perfection! They perfected art of the Cheez-It. Oh my goodness! I scarfed like crazy- pretending that a serving size of 35 squares an achievable goal. Maybe went overboard. Never counted.  Who does?
Anyways- let's talk flavor profile. What a terrific cheesy blast- a real delicious punch to the buds. Earth Balance comes out on top once again. I love this company to death. They always recreate childhood favorites and Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares do not disappoint. Sharp notes of sheer genius. It wasn't too salty. Tasted like an exact replica almost. Plus got the infamous orange "cheese" hands and mouth. Not bad.
Highly recommend this for snack time zip lock baggies. Definitely worth putting on grocery lists.
However, don't be astonished when stores are out of stock. The maddening craze for Earth Balance related anything is real. I nickname the company- Vegan Insanity for a reason.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chickpea Coconut Patties & Lemon-Tahini Oat Bran

This is not fried chicken. Only looks like it.
Great news! AfroVeganChick is now on Foodie Blogroll! Woo hoo! I don't know how the following/friendship adding works, but just know that the blog has been approved after a two week wait. Pretty soon, it'll be finally hitting the .com territory too. So excited about that!  
Now this is the first of two chickpea-coconut related recipes debuting this week. Yesterday, I created an amazing "filet" that I cannot wait to share with you all! 
Most of these crafty innovations are from "All That I Have On Hand." It's something we all are famous for- not desiring to trek towards grocery store. Refrigerator and cabinets can have some amazing ingredients to work with.
The lemon-tahini oat bran was to mimic a hummus like consistency while providing a "grain" component to complete the meal. I loved the creaminess and cannot believe how amazing it tastes without annoying lumps. I don't like oat bran lumps- not good tasting at all! Coconut Chickpea Patties, on the other hand, are crispy on the outside (and for some reason cannot fathom why these photographs make it look like friend "chicken") and tender on the inside. Very impressed with this dish. Then again, I only share what succeeds. Heehee. :D

Chickpea Coconut Patties & Lemon-Tahini Oat Bran Ingredients and Preparation

olive oil or coconut oil
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (used Ian's Italian Seasoning Panko Breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oat bran (used Trader Joe's Toasted Oat Bran)
1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoon lemon juice
lemon zest from one lemon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat skillet with an inch of oil.
Mash the chickpeas until oblivion. Use a blender or food processor if necessary.
Mix with coconut, breadcrumbs, flour, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
Form into four patties and carefully drop one in the skillet at a time, cooking each side for 5-7 minutes and be wary of hot grease!
These are fragile babies- flip them over with tender care. Lay on a towel to douse excess oil.
For oat bran- bring water to a boil and stir in oat bran to prevent lumps. Turn off heat after two minutes.
Add tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

Steamed veggies would also make a great side component- broccoli, carrots, or Brussels sprouts especially.
Delicious close up.
Yum. Yum.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Easy Garlic Nooch Bread

Not your mama's garlic bread.
I am a sucker for garlic bread. It has all these great functions when paired alongside a pasta meal. Mainly to lap up tomato sauce. Yes. Garlic bread is great for dipping. And for a tomato and Beyond Meat's Beefless Crumble, the garlic bread had to be just right to be worthy of such.
Now without active yeast, this small loaf won't rise above the bread pan, but can be a great, generous portion in the manner you slice it. A much better option than grocer's freezer garlic rolls. Enticing garlic (feel free to use roast minced garlic) flavor is met with the "cheesy" taste of nutritional yeast- our good friend nooch. I recommend eating straight after cutting. It's hot and moist, bursting with deliciousness. Wheat flour makes it look rustic and sea salt crystals sparkle between bites. That is if your find yourself looking at garlic bread as an art like me! ;)

Easy Garlic Nooch Bread Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (aka nooch)
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (olive oil would be splendid too)
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift flour, baking soda, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, salt, and black pepper together.
Add coconut oil and water, mixing evenly.
Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.

This perfect loaf comes out- hot and ready for immediate devouring.
Ready to be lapped up with "meaty" tomato sauce.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fun Times, Animal Love, And Cooking Lessons At The First Philadelphia VegFest

After a week of nonstop rain, the weather turned out nice and bright for Philadelphia's first Vegfest.
A lot of amazing events took place at the Shambles today.
On 2nd and Pine, the very first vegan festival happened in Philadelphia, even bringing a load of curious carpooling New Yorkers like that of Demetrius of Vegucated fame.
It's so funny to be recognized. He asked me if I was a blogger and I looked at him, seeing his familiarity....
"Afro Vegan Chick?"
"Yes! That's me."
Oh how freaking awesome to be recognized and greeted by one of the producers of Vegucated. Unbelievable! The world between Philly and New York gets smaller and smaller.

Great meeting Demetrius! Apparently NYC has this wonderful ice cream called Lulu's Sweet Apothecary. Sounds like a must eat.
I woke up at 8AM, started walking from home a little after 9AM, and got there just before 11AM- Vegfest starting time. Yup. Nothing like a wonderful two hour "work out" to get the excited body even more enthusiastic! Felt pumped and eager to check out vegantastic festivities!

Goodies galore! SO spoiled. And it's not even a holiday.
Modestly crowded by the time of my arrival, I received two sweet gift bags from Vega and Mom's Organic Market. Treats like Brad's Raw Crunchy Kale, Lundberg's Rice Chips, Runa tea bags, and Raw Rev bars. Scored coupons from my favorite brands (Daiya, Tofurkey, and I've never tried Upton's Naturals!). Finally acquired Crazy Rumors balm. The flavor is limeade- perfect summer lip treat! I gotta say, however, those free organic fair trade bananas at Mom's Organic Market booth captivated me. Never ate a banana so good.
There were buttons, jewelry, radical t-shirts/tanks, books, brochures, 100% natural fruity popsicles, Soy Cafe sweets, and vibrant, spirited energy all around. Just an overall positive vibe. Music played by a band called Evan Cline covered my Goo Goo Dolls "Name" in an impressive way. Good indie acoustics and soothing mellow ballads. Made a new fan out of me today.
Spoke to a representative of Farm Sanctuary around the NYC area. They rescue farm animals like pigs, horses, ducks (OMG DUCKS=CHICKS!!!). I must schedule a time to go out there. It would be such a rewarding experience.  

This fashion truck had everything.
Chic transportation dress definitely up my alley!
Whole Foods Market gifted Beyond Meat coupons and handed out generous samples of a rather refreshing salad that feature Beyond Meat's chickenless strips topped with a mango salad dressing. Did wonders to my tongue. Both cool and satisfying amongst the heat.

Beautiful free sample of Beyond Meat Chicken Salad from the Whole Foods booth.
Sip N Glo Juicery gave everyone mini shots of One Love (cucumber, spinach, apple, pineapple, and ginger juice)) and Sweet Freedom handed little squared dessert samples. I tried the chocolate coconut with a chewy maple tasting bottom. Mmmmhmmmm.

Yummy chocolate coconut and maple goodness.
I took a lot of important information out of the cooking demonstrations. More than the foods that were "magically" finished without aided ovens and fast cooking skillets. Heehee.
Our first lesson came from Certified Natural Chef Sara Glassman of Fine Dining. She made bean burger sliders with a simple carrot and cabbage slaw. Now I know how to chop cabbage. So happy about that! She suggested that cooking beans are better than canned- more nutrients. I have never made my own beans- time consuming for one thing, but I'll look into that in the near less lazy future.
Dijon mustard, tahini, water, and brown rice syrup make the dressing. No bread required.

Sara posing with an easy dinner that will please anyone.
Rachel Klein of Miss Rachel's Pantry takes the stage...
She sprays with grapeseed oil.
She sears seedless watermelon on each of its six sides.
Watermelon filets are topped with a simple horseradish sauce, pumpkin seeds, and an edible leaf.
Never considered using watermelon in a savory dish before. Rachel stands by its incredible flavor one hundred percent. Gotta try that!
A tip- eat right away. Taste starts to become unappealing if left sitting out too long.
Smelled inviting just like all the other prepared meals. Loved that gentle wind blew all the cooks' aromas into the crowd. Pleasant fragrances had my mouth watering all afternoon.

Super cool Rich Landau- a winner of Food Network's Chopped and co-owner of Vedge gives us valuable tidbits about summer grilling. Like cutting the skin off zucchini so the marinades don't make skin "boil and bruise." Also: Wet herbs in the last seconds of cook time- dry herbs before. Well, that explains a lot. Plus the hotter the skillet gets, the less one needs to depend on oils. Vegetables and tofu will not stick so badly if the skillet is heated up enough. Great advice.
Finished grilled zucchini. Man. I wanted a bite.
Rich's wife- Kate Jacoby introduces the couple's latest venture V Street opening this summer/fall in the Rittenhouse Square location. She creates an interesting ice cream parfait layered with black eyed peas (weird yes), fruit, cream, black eyed peas, and more cream. Too bad the grated shaved ice didn't work out.
Red sauce is added to the parfait. Voila!
My excitement tripled as energetic Christina of the popular PBS show- Christina Cooks took the stage. Turning vegan at age fourteen, daughter of a butcher, she mentioned that thirty years ago, there weren't that many vegan food options available. She's right. The world has now evolved with great product lines such as Beyond Meat, Gardein, Daiya, and So Delicious. Every few months, new items emerge with the latest innovative flavor profiles. One day I'll make it out to test the latest vegan foods at the expo and bring back all the juicy scoop. Have been dying to attend for ages.
She prepared Wardolf Salad. Inwardly I clapped, seeing another person break out red onion and talking about its sweetness compared to yellow and white. I adore red onion y'all. I really do. Granny Smith apples bring a sour component to the red onion sweetness and added raisins and chopped fresh parsley help body digest the proteins (pea protein that is) founded in diced Beyond Meat Chickenless Strips. Of course it isn't Wardolf Salad without walnuts- more protein for the vegan to consume. So don't ask that silly question my meat eating friends. We do get enough of the "P" word.
I enjoyed Christina's responses to questions about gluten and soy. A lot of people have been jumping on gluten-free who don't even have celiac disease and soy isn't this big baddie responsible for causing breast cancer in women. Still, it's best to consume organic and Non GMO based wheat and soy products.

Catching the speed of Christina's amazing energy!
Posing with the finished Wardolf Salad- Beyond Meat Chickenless Strips, Granny Smith apples, red onions, parsley, raisins, walnuts, and vegan mayo.
I relished Philadelphia's break into the Vegfest bandwagon, hoping that this becomes an annual tradition.It got a packed house hopping, revved up curious people's interest in vegetarian/vegan living, and gave them a sample of plant based life as well as what this symbolizes to animals and environment. I do hope the bill passes here that gives us the opportunity to have GMO "foods" labeled. What a huge, giant step that would take in slapping Monsanto's face. We have every right to know what food is real and what's genuine garbage! How programmed do they want us to be in America? Sheesh. I think it shouldn't be such a big deal, but they're so terrified that they want no such laws to pass. They don't want people to get smart. Instead it's "easier" to remain in ignorance about where food comes from. While other countries actually give a care.
Anyway, sorry to rant.
Philadelphia Vegfest made for a perfect Saturday morning.
And it should happen again next year and the year after.
Thanks to all the vendors, sponsors, guest speakers, and IG/Twitter pals who made this event great! Had a blast!