Sunday, July 29, 2012

Maple Walnut Energy Bars

What NOT to do when you have a bat trapped in your apartment:

Don't attempt to capture the bat by throwing a blanket over it while it's flying around your head. You will never catch that sonnabitch. It also may pee or poop on you. No fun. I don't even know what bat poop looks like and I never want to find out.

Don't let your dogs in the same room as the bat. The dogs will think it's a chew toy and will chase after the bat like it's life depended on it. For HOURS.

Don't try to remove the bat from the corner of a window with a pair of kitchen tongs. You will get bit and have to go to the ER for a rabies shot.  You may also turn into a vampire.

Don't stare into it's beady eyes. The bat will secure total mind control over you.

What TO DO when you have a bat in your house:

Put as many layers of clothing on as possible, including gloves and a winter hat, despite the fact that it's 92 degrees in your apartment. Carefully open the window, run out of the room and shut the door behind you.

While you wait for the killer vampire bat to quietly leave get the hell outta your bedroom, make some maple walnut energy bars. They take about 10 minutes to throw together, just enough time for the bat to realize that it's out of it's element and that it needs to reck-onize and fly back into the night.

You give the bat an extra 20 minutes, you know... just because, which is exactly how long it takes for these energy bars to firm up in the freezer.

You slowly open the door, in case the bat, in your absence, gave birth to 72 baby bats, and they are waiting on the other side of the door to kill you.

You peek around, realize the bat is gone and slam the window shut.

With all that energy expended you go enjoy yourself a shot of whiskey and an energy bar.

You deserve it.

Maple Walnut Energy Bars (makes 12 bars)
Slightly adapted from Muffin Tin Mania

1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. chopped pitted dates
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. raw cashews
1/2 c. walnuts
1/3 c. sunflower seeds
2 T. ground flax seed
2 T. hemp seed
2 T. sesame seeds
couple pinches of sea salt
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
1/4 c. raw cacao nibs (optional)

Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin with a little coconut oil (or any other neutral tasting oil).  This method will give you pretty decent sized energy "cups". However, you can skip this step and form the mixture into small bars or balls and then proceed with the recipe.
Place all ingredients except the peanut butter and maple syrup in a food processor and process until oats and nuts resemble fine crumbs. Add the peanut butter and maple syrup and blend until the mixture clumps together. Divide the mixture between the greased muffin cups and press down to firmly pack contents.
Place tray in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden up, then unmold and store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you made bars or balls, simply freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to an airtight container or wrap individually in saran wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Socca with Leeks and Herbed Almond Spread

There is nothing more rewarding than making a delicious meal out of the little odd's and end's kicking around the kitchen.  Although I work in a health food store and can easily pick up whatever I want after work, sometimes I like to challenge myself by using up whatever I have at home. Now, I'm not one of those people that has a well stocked pantry, mainly because I tend to avoid pre-packaged and canned food and I only buy fruits and vegetables, as needed for a recipe. I could probably tell you everything in my fridge and cupboards, meaning the list isn't very long.  So, the challenge of making something out of nothing isn't always easy.

It's especially not easy when you didn't make it grocery shopping last weekend, pulled your back out, have been out of work for several days and can't make it to the store.  The challenge of cooking is also there.  It has to be made it less than 20 minutes, and not involve any heavy lifting. 

Luckily, I had some farmers market loot leftover from the weekend so I was able to throw together a couple of decent salads. I'm still thanking sweet baby Jesus that I remembered to pick up some eggs at the market because they probably saved me from near starvation. Poached, scrambled, fried or hardboiled, served with some toast, and you've got one hell of a half assed meal.

When I attempted to throw something together last night, things were looking slim. REALLLLL slim.  Of course my husband volunteered to get me whatever I wanted at the store, but I was cranky and indecisive and told him I would find something around the house. He ended the call with a reluctant ohhhh kayyyyy, knowing there wasn't a dang thing in the house to eat.

So, I accepted this challenge, and dammit I won.

I wanted something high in carbs. You gotta coat your stomach with starch when you're downing pain killers and muscle relaxants like it's your job. All I had kicking around was a stale loaf of sourdough and I had already had toast for breakfast.

Then a lightbulb went off.... SOCCA!

Huh, you say...

Socca is a chickpea flour pancake cooked in a skillet, much like a crepe.  Basically, you combine chickpea flour, water, salt, pepper and a little olive oil to make a thin batter. Let it rest, then pour it into a hot cast iron pan and bake until lightly browned. It's kinda chewy, kinda crispy, and really delicious. 
I usually eat socca straight up, cut into pieces drizzled with olive oil with flurries of black pepper and flaky salt, but I've also seen it used as a "pizza crust" all over the internet, so I figured I would try something new.

Since I primarily follow a vegetarian diet, I always have a variety of nuts or seeds in the house, for snacking, adding to salads or for making my own nut butters or nut cheeses. Inspired by this recipe from Love and Lemons, I decided to whip up a quick almond spread to use as a base. Almonds, garlic, lemon, a little miso and nutritional yeast and some fresh herbs.  

I topped it with some quickly sauteed leeks that were lodged in the back of my fridge and the last of the pea shoots from the farmers market and I had dinner.

Socca with Leeks and Herbed Almond Spread (serves 2-4)
Slightly adapted from from Love and Lemons


1 c. chickpea flour
1 c. lukewarm water
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cracked pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the socca
1 clove garlic, grated

Mark Bittman will talk you through making socca here.  You can see I used his recipe, but omitted the onion and rosemary and added garlic. This will either make one thick 12" round or two thin 10" rounds.

 Almond Herb Spread:

1 c. almonds, blanched or soaked overnight, skins removed*
1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 t. miso paste
Juice and zest of one small lemon
2 t. nutritional yeast
1/2-3/4 c. water (less water if you soaked your nuts, more if you blanched them or used them raw)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. mixed chopped herbs, I used scallions and parsley, but I inagine dill or chives would be good too
salt & pepper, to taste

To blanch almonds, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add almonds, cook for 30 seconds and drain. When cool enough to handle, slide the skins off with your fingers. If you are planning on making this the following day, you can also soak almonds overnight in enough water to cover, drain and rub the skins off. 
Place all ingredients (except the water and herbs) in a food processor and blend. Slowly stream in water (you may not use all of it) until the mixture is well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/4 c. herbs, saving the remaining 1/4 c. for topping the socca.


2 Small leeks, sliced into rounds

Heat a little olive oil in a sautee pan. Add leeks, a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper and cook for a couple minutes until soft.

After your socca has cooled a bit (about 5 minutes), slather on some of the almond herb spread (you won't use all of it). Top with the sauteed leeks, some fresh herbs and pea shoots or your favorite sprouts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pasta Salad with Roasted Fennel, Artichokes and Arugula

Pasta salad usually conjures up memories of mayonnaise laden elbow macaroni (with a dusting of paprika for color.. it was the 80's.. paprika was HUGE) that was served at every picnic, party or family reunion that I attended as a child. 

For all of you that know me on a personal level, store bought mayonnaise skeeves me out.  I don't know what it is about the stuff, I can't go near it with a ten foot pole.

Maybe its the fact that it jiggles when you shake it. 

So you can imagine how I feel about pasta salads made with mayo.


Then in the early 90's some random relative (or maybe it was my mom... sorry, mom) started making a vinaigrette based pasta salad.  I think it contained tri colored pasta, feta, black olives, and tomatoes.. maybe cubed ham (random), and it was oh so good. It instantly became one of my favorites.

A vinaigrette based pasta salad is a great thing to take to parties, potlucks and picnics. It's quick, easy and usually sits well at room temperature for awhile, which is probably why previously said unknown relative made this salad year after year.

Although I usually opt for a gluten free and vegan salad to bring to potlucks (thank you, quinoa), pasta salad is one of those familiar dishes that everyone seems to love. So I make it... and people eat it.

It's a win-win situation.

This pasta salad has alot going on...  Artichoke hearts, gigande beans (giant white beans packed in oil), roasted fennel, fresh herbs and some arugula all tossed with a simple vinagrette. Bring it to your next party or eat it in an air conditioned apartment watching back to back episodes of breaking bad.  Either way this salad is delicious.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Fennel, Artichokes and Arugula (makes enough for a parrrr-tay)

4 c. dry penne pasta
1 can artichokes, drained and rough chopped
1 fennel bulb, cut in 1/4" half moons
2 large handfuls baby arugula
1/2 c. gigande beans (opt.), chickpeas or cannelini beans would be a good substitute
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked pepper

6 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 cloves grated garlic
4 t. dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cook penne in boiling salted water till al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again, then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and toss with a spoon to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

Place sliced fennel in a small bowl. Toss with 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Transfer to a sheetpan and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until fennel is soft and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Add the roasted fennel, artichokes, red onion, gigande beans, dill and parsley to the penne.
In a small jar combine the ingredients for the vinagrette. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds until well combined.  Pour the dressing over top and sprinkle with sea salt and lots of cracked pepper and toss to combine. 

Just before serving, gently fold in the arugula.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blueberry Apricot Crisp

Blueberry season is in full swing! Just last week I made it out to a pick your own farm and walked away with nine pints of berries for a mere twelve bucks. I love blueberries in my morning yogurt or just noshing on them straight up, but the best part of fresh picked berries is making crisp.  I've made crisp with apples, strawberries, blackberries, and peaches, but blueberry crisp is where it's at!  I decided to switch things up a bit by throwing in some apricots (mostly because I had some in my fridge that needed to be used ASAP), and now I can officially say that blueberries and apricots are BFF's.

I have a go-to vegan crisp topping that I have used for years with much success, but wanted to switch it up and try it with butter instead of oil, because really, sometimes a little butter makes everything a little better.

The recipe for the topping is loosely adapted from a crisp recipe from this recipe from Nourish Your Roots.  It's bonkers good.  So good that my sister and my two little nieces ate the whole pan for breakfast within a half hour of coming out of the oven.  Yeah, we all burned our tongues on scalding hot blueberries, but it was oh so worth it.

...Homegirls are WEARING those blueberries!

Blueberry Apricot Crisp

1 pint blueberries
8 small apricots, pitted and chopped
2 T. white spelt flour
3 T. organic brown sugar

1/2 c. white spelt flour
1/2 c. organic brown sugar
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 t. salt
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place blueberries and apricots in a 9 by 9 inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with the flour and brown sugar.
To make the crumble, combine the white spelt flour, brown sugar, oats, salt and butter in a small bowl. Work the mixture with your hands for a couple minutes until crumbly.
Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the apricots and blueberries.
Bake 40-45 minutes until the blueberries are nice and bubbly.

Serve straight up or with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Raw Brownies

It's hot and sticky.  The AC has been running for three days straight and you've been craving brownies.  Not popcicles, or ice cream or anything else that would actually COOL you down. Brownies.

But.. making brownies means turning on the oven, and that ain't gonna happen.
You consider just eating a handful of chocolate chips, but really... how is that going to satsify a craving for brownies.

It's not.. and you will end up with melted chocolate all over your hands.

So then, you put two and two together.  Why not make a RAW brownie?  An ultra fudgy, gulit free, super healthy, gluten and refined sugar free, vegan raw brownie. They look like brownies and taste like brownies but require no oven, just a food processor and five minutes.

These sweet treats are packed full of walnuts, dates, raw cacao, and dried cherries. They are high in protein, fiber, rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  They're sinfully rich and dense, curbing the desire to devour the entire pan(which I've done many a time with regular 'ol brownies).  Enjoy as a sweet treat after dinner, or crumble some on top of ice cream for a more decadent dessert. Dessert that's actually GOOD for you....

Raw Brownies (makes 9- 2" brownies)
From my dear friend Jane, via " Raw For Dessert" by Jennifer Cornbleet

1 1/2 c. walnuts
small pinch of sea salt
8 dates
1/3 c. raw cocoa powder
1/4 c. raw cacao nibs
1/4 c. dried cherries
1 t. water

Place walnuts and salt in a food processor and pulse until they resemble fine crumbs. Add dates and mix until it comes together  Add cocoa powder, cacao nibs, dried cherries and water and mix until well combined. Press into a pie plate or small baking dish (I used a tupperware container) and cut into small squares and refrigerate until firm. 
Keep refrigerated.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Green Drank

As much as I love sitting down to a big 'ol bowl of greens, sometimes it's not always practical. As someone who is always on the go, a liquid lunch is an easy way to consume a large amount of fruit and vegetables, but without all of that dang chewing.

Now.. the difference between fresh juice and a green smoothie is the fiber content.  Juicing, removes all the fiber, but leaves you with a nutrient dense, power packed beverage that is easliy assimilated by the body, giving you a quick boost of energy. Smoothies on the other hand, retain their fiber, which is why they will leave you full, longer. I'll usually reach for a juice when I feel a cold coming on, or haven't been eating as healthy as I should, whereas a smoothie can take the place of lunch when I'm running around and need something to keep me going.

I like packing my smoothies with lots of goodness.  Fruit, greens, nuts and seeds, and superfoods like maca, spirulina and raw cacao.  Not only are these great for you body they can give you a serious boost. Throwing some greens in your smoothie is a great way to sneak some vegetables into your diet.

If you are new to the green smoothie phenomenon, start out slow. Add a small handful of spinach or chard to your next blended drink and then work your way up to heartier greens like kale. Most smoothies contain a good amount of fruit which easily masks the bitterness of most greens.

The green drank is the new purple drank. Jump on the bandwagon and get your green on!

Green Drank (makes one drink, approximately 16-20 oz.)

2 bananas
1/2 c. frozen mango
3/4c.-1 c. coconut water
3 leaves of kale, finely chopped
1 T. ground flax seed
2 T. hemp seeds
2 dates, pitted
2-3 ice cubes

Place everything in a blender. Blend until smooth and drink it up!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Roasted Fennel and Tempeh Sausage Pizza

It all started with a bunch of fennel from the farmers market.... and an intense craving for something with cheese.. and bread... and more cheese.

I love the savory/sweet taste of fennel, probably because it tastes like a black jelly bean flavored vegetable.
For those of you that have never experience the deliciousness that is fennel, it tastes like licorice and pairs well with several foods. 

Fennel is great thinly sliced and added to a salad, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy this vegetable is to toss it with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it up, 'till it's soft and slightly browned around the edges. You can then toss it with pasta (either hot or cold), add to a sandwich or use it as a pizza topping.

I could have kept this pizza simple... a little roasted fennel, some caramelized onions and a bit of cheese, but I wanted something with a little more substance.  I had a brick of tempeh hanging out in my fridge and decided to make some sausage crumbles to go on top.  Now, for those of you that eat meat, you're probably all like.. tempeh on a pizza.. gross, and tempeh that tastes like sausage, yeah right.

But whatever... This stuff is DANG good...and GOOD for you.  I've had many a meat eater impressed with these crumbles, and really, it's all in the spices.  Fennel seed, garlic, sage, crushed red pepper.  All in sausage.  The texture is a little different but once blanketed under a layer of cheese, you would never know the difference.  All you taste is savory, cheesy, bready goodness.

And thats's all that matters.

So, anyways...

Make this pizza.

It's good.

Roasted Fennel and Tempeh Sausage Pizza (makes 2 10" pizzas)

1 batch pizza dough
1 medium sized fennel bulb, halved, cut into 1/2" thick slices
2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano
1 batch tempeh sausage crumbles (recipe below)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

4 oz. organic tempeh
1/2 T. fennel seed
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t. sage
1 t. garlic, minced
1 T. tamari
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 t. lemon juice

In a sautee pan, crumble tempeh and add just enough water to cover. Over high heat sautee tempeh until most of the water has been absorbed.  Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until tempeh is browned, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place fennel in a bowl, drizzle with 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes (stirring fennel halfway through), until soft and lightly browned. Set aside.
Meanwhile, make your tempeh sausage crumbles. Set aside to cool.
Now, make the caramelized onions. Heat 2 T. olive oil and a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook the onions, stirring every five minutes, until golden brown. Set aside
Now.. let's make some pizza!
Place a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and increase heat to 500 degrees.Roll out your pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper. Place on the bottom side of a large metal sheetpan (you'll use this to slide the pizza onto the stone) and drizzle with a very thin layer of olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the crust.  Scatter on a layer of onions, some mozzarella, roasted fennel, the tempeh crumbles and top with a little more mozzarella. Carefully slide the pizza on to the stone.Bake for 5 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is melty.  Slide the pizza off the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and top with grated pecorino. Repeat with the remaining crust.