Dec 28

mexi burgers

We beat the blizzard on Sunday by a couple of hours and woke up yesterday to this:

My husband and I had already taken the day off as a vacation day and we spent it playing in the snow, taking photos of the neighborhood and joining our fellow Brooklynites at the movies.

The theater decided to show all movies at 2:30 and I was surprised to see the line for tickets winding around the block behind us.

We got in, snuggled up in a corner and forgot all about the 20 inches of snow outside.

Even though I love snow and I’d rather have a 20 degree day than an 80 degree day, the blizzard had me longing for something warm and just a little bit tropical.

The remedy?

Mexi burgers.

I eat a lot of veggie burgers.

I love them because they’re full of protein, easy to throw together and it’s acceptable to eat them with your hands.

My current favorite veggie burger is a combination of beans, veggies and bread crumbs, fried to perfection and crowned with a generous heap of guacamole.

Let’s do this.

Mexi Burgers
Burger recipe from Chef Cloe
Makes 4 burgers

For the burgers:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • buns of your choice

For the topping:

  • 3 ripe avocados or one 8 oz. pouch of Trader Jose’s Avocado’s Number Guacamole
  • 2 tablespoons fresh salsa
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

I was feeling pretty lazy, so I bought some shredded carrots and chopped the shreds into even smaller pieces.

Sometimes dicing a carrot is just too much work, you know?

Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 20 minutes, until caramelized.

Combine the caramelized onions, carrots, black beans, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, sea salt and chili powder in a large bowl and stir.

Add in the water and use your hands to form patties.

The water should act as a binding agent, so if your patties feel too loose, add a little more water.

Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a non-stick skillet and fry the patties over medium/high heat. These burgers are best when they’re crisp, so let them fry for around 3 minutes before flipping. Add more olive oil to the pan with each new burger to prevent sticking.

While your patties are frying, whip up some guacamole.

Combine the avocados (or TJ’s guacamole), fresh salsa and lime juice into a large bowl and stir.

Toast your buns, plop the patties in between and spoon on a generous serving of guacamole.

If you like a spicier burger, throw some chipotle salsa in the mix. I recommend Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.

Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.

A little taste of Mexico to go with my polar bear pajamas.

Dec 25

stay warm in the storm, kids!

My husband and I are supposed to be snuggled up in our pajamas in my parents’ living room tonight, sipping cocoa and eating our weight in desserts. Instead, we are here:

Ta da! A hotel in Roanoke, Virginia!

We’re trying to get home to NYC before this storm hits

We left Kentucky as soon as we saw the weather forecast this afternoon. We made it to Roanoke before it got too dark out and we decided to stop.

As sad as we were to have our family time cut short, we were feeling super lucky to have found a hotel with a full kitchen. I had been in charge of making a few vegan recipes for Christmas dinner, and before we left I packed the ingredients I’d need to whip up a couple of dishes and a dessert for us to enjoy in our room.

Look at these goodies!

And these yummy sweet potatoes, ready to be transformed into Fat Free Vegan Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole

We had thrown together a few dishes and we were feeling so proud of ourselves. We’d managed to pack up our things and hit the road within 30 minutes of realizing we needed to leave. We’d remembered to grab apples and cinnamon and oats. We’d made it safely to the hotel, thrown the ingredients together quickly and were ready to bake some delicious food.

I picked up a pan, turned around to preheat the oven and then realized…

Wait for it…

THERE IS NO OVEN!

If this were The Office, this would be the moment when Jim Halpert gives the camera a blank stare.

How did we miss that? I have no idea.

That pan on the sink is full of a vegan version of Joy the Baker’s Sit and Stay Awhile Apple Crisp. It was going to be super yummy, I just know it.

There was really nothing left to do but laugh at ourselves and then salvage what we had left of Christmas dinner.

Luckily, my mom had given us a can of baked beans before we walked out the door (thank you, mom!). We had a few rolls and the sweet potatoes that fortunately had not yet been mixed with the other casserole ingredients.

Include some Ale-8-One and we have ourselves a party!

Honestly, we’re just happy to have food, shelter and each other. We’re going to try to drive the rest of the way tomorrow before the worst of the weather hits. Stay safe and warm, fellow travelers! I can’t wait to get home to snuggle this guy

 

Dec 19

rainbow cake with vanilla buttercream frosting

Have you ever told someone that you’re going to bake your own birthday cake, and they give you a pathetic look that says, “oh that’s so sad, she has to bake her own birthday cake” before covering it up with a forced smile and actually saying, “Oh that’s great!”

That happened to me a few times this week.

I understand where they’re coming from, though. Unless you love to bake, the idea of spending your birthday in the kitchen must not sound too appealing.

But today I turned older, and I celebrated the best way I know how. By baking and devouring my favorite cake in the world.

White cake with vanilla frosting is my favorite dessert. I know, I know. It sounds pretty boring.

But this particular cake has a secret.

Rainbow Cake

Vanilla Cake recipe adapted from VegWeb

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 cups vegan refined sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups plain soy milk
  • 2/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract (note: if you are going for a more vanilla taste instead of almond, only use 1/2 tbsp)
  • Up to 7 different shades of food coloring

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Recipe adapted from The Vegan Chef

  • 1 cup Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup plain soy milk
  • 6 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

This cake is very moist, so if you want to stack more than a couple of layers, you might want to search for another recipe. I think that this cake would also be great as a pineapple upside down cake, but we’ll save that one for another time.

To bake the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease two round 8″ pans.

Mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then combine and stir by hand until all lumps are gone.

Now is the time for the fun part! Are you ready?

Divide your batter evenly into smaller bowls. Grab your favorite bottles of gel food coloring and get excited because we’re going to rainbow swirl this baby!

I chose to use my 5 favorite shades of blue and purple, so I needed 5 bowls. If you’re using more colors, use more bowls, and vice versa. Add the food coloring to the batter…

and stir

I took the method for this rainbow cake from Omnomicon.

In one of your pans, pour the colors in one by one, using the most batter (about 3/4 of the total dish of that particular color) for your first pour and lessening the amount with each color you add.

Reverse the order of colors for the second pan, so that the color you used last in the first pan is the first color that you pour into pan number two.

Place both pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until done.

Prettiest mess ever?

Once your cakes are done, place them on a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine all ingredients and mix with a hand mixer on low speed for about a minute.

Don’t panic when your cakes come out looking much, much darker than you had expected.

I promise it will be okay.

Is it your birthday, too? If so, throw some candles on there! Or just throw some candles on there anyway. Celebrate how awesome you are for surviving the holidays!

Now is the time to slice into it and marvel at the pretty colors!

Oooohhh!

I’m already on my third slice.

I probably won’t be around for a while since my husband and I are Kentucky-bound soon. I wish you all the best during this wonderful holiday season, and for those of you with December birthdays, I wish you very Happy Birthdays and many, many more!

Dec 13

vanilla caramels with sea salt


I admit, I never thought that vegan caramels could be as good as their heavy cream and butter-filled counterparts.

I’m such a fool sometimes.

I made these dairy-free treats for some very special people that I am grateful to have in my life. They’re the kind of people that make you laugh so hard you find yourself unable to catch your breath. They’re the kind of people that you miss the moment they walk out the door. Hopefully they’re also the kind of people that eat caramels, because I didn’t ask before I mailed these tiny bits of awesome their way.

Vanilla Caramels with Sea Salt (or without sea salt, it’s totally up to you)
Ingredients from The Glad Cow Cookbook
Makes 100 caramels

You’ll need a candy thermometer, a large pot (around 4 quarts) and a 8×8 square pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 2 cups vegan granulated sugar
  • 2 cups plain soy milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making caramels requires a bit of patience. It’s worth it, I promise.

Grease your square pan with Earth Balance and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients except for the vanilla into a large pot (around 4 quarts)

Set heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Don’t let it boil too quickly. It should take around 10 minutes.

As soon as the liquid begins to boil, turn down to low-medium heat and clip on your candy thermometer. Allow the liquid to bubble, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 250 degrees (firm ball stage).

This should take around 35-40 minutes. If it hasn’t reached 250 after 40 minutes, increase the heat gradually until it reaches the desired temperature.

Once it hits 250, remove from the stove, stir in the vanilla and pour into the 8×8 pan. Don’t scrape the sides of the pot, just let whatever caramel remains there to stay.

Allow your caramel to cool to room temperature. It’s best to place the pan on a wire rack to speed up the process.

Once cool, remove the parchment and caramel from the pan. Cover a sharp knife with Earth Balance and slice your caramel into pieces.

If you choose to use sea salt, now’s the time to salt your caramels. You can use any kind that you’d like.

This day, I chose to use Himalayan pink salt…

and some coarse sea salt from Trader Joe’s.

Special people deserve a salt-shaped heart, don’t you think?

The sweet and the salty together make my mouth so very happy. Wrap your caramels in some wax paper and you’re ready to go!

Keep an eye on the remaining salt, or this might happen

Can you see what he’s sitting on?

Sigh.

I promise I didn’t use that salt. But I did let him sit on it for as long as he wanted. In return, he let me use his tummy as a pillow while I watched The Office.