Jun 30

salsa verde sliders with avocado mayo

Who’s got big weekend plans?

Not me. I’m so excited about that. Honestly. After being out of town for a while I’m very much looking forward to three straight days of chilling with my cats and avoiding the stifling humidity that’s scheduled to engulf this city’s streets.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? I feel that way almost every time I travel.

One thing I will be doing this weekend is eating veggie burger after veggie burger. I’m not going to a bbq or anything special, but I’ll be busy in the kitchen, slapping burgers between buns, eating and repeating. I’m on a burger kick (well actually it’s more of a permanent way of life since my constant cravings have lasted several years now) and my latest favorite creations are these little fat salsa verde sliders.

I took the recipe for Mexi Burgers, threw in some extra veggies, replaced the water with salsa verde, added in some avocado inspiration from Rachel Ray, and ta-da!

Salsa Verde Sliders with Avocado Mayo
Mayo adapted from Every Day with Rachel Ray
Makes 12 mini burgers
Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 12 slider buns of your choice
  • 1 avocado (pitted, meat only)
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise, such as Veganaise
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • mini heirloom tomatoes for topping (optional)

To make the burgers, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 20 minutes, until caramelized. I like to chop my vegetables while the onions are cooking.

Combine the caramelized onions, black beans, carrots, corn, bell pepper, spinach, cornmeal, breadcrumbs and sea salt in a large bowl and stir.

Add in the salsa verde and use your hands to form patties.


Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet and fry the patties over medium heat. They should cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until they begin to brown. Cook longer for a crispier burger, and add more olive oil each time you add new patties to the skillet.

While the burgers are cooking, whip up the mayo by placing the avocado, Veganaise and garlic in a bowl and stirring with a fork until combined.

Place the burgers on the buns, top with mayo (and put mayo on the bottom if you’re like me and you love a mess) and tomatoes.

One definite plan that I have for this weekend is to try my best to distract Court Kitty from the sounds of fireworks outside.

He hates them so much.

Jun 28

chocolate potato cake with raspberry buttercream frosting

I hadn’t planned on making anything special while on vacation with the exception of my aunt’s non-vegan peanut butter pie recipe for my husband’s birthday.

But when I saw the open and airy kitchen in our cottage, which is such a drastic change from the dark, cramped box that I’m used to cooking in, I felt inspired.

The view from the sink

A couple of days went by and I was still on the fence about what to make until I found this recipe while flipping through a PEI travel brochure.

I’d never made a potato cake before and I was so excited. I told Biff all about it and he was super stoked!

I’m kidding. He didn’t care at all. He just wanted to fetch.

Biff belongs to the property managers and we couldn’t get enough of him.

We had gone on a drive along the Central Coastal Drive the day before, and we stopped at the PEI Preserve Company in Hunter River.

They have samples galore and we chose the raspberry champagne preserves to take home

and a cake was born!

This potato cake is so moist that I might just have to make it my go-to chocolate cake from now on.

Chocolate Potato Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
Recipe adapted from Flavours of Prince Edward Island Cookbook

Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes, no seasoning (any baking potato will work)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, softened
  • 2 cups vegan refined sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two 8” round cake pans.

Stir together the mashed potatoes and water in a small bowl.

It’s okay if there are some lumps left in there.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, coffee granules, baking soda and salt.

In a third bowl, mix the refined sugar and 3/4 cup of Earth Balance on low speed for 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and the applesauce and continue to mix until just combined, approximately 15 more seconds.

Increase the speed of your mixer to medium/high and slowly add in the dry ingredients and the potato water, alternating between the two until all ingredients are well combined.

Stir in the vinegar and pour the batter into the two cake pans. The batter will be thick, so use a spoon to spread it out evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.

This cake bakes for roughly twice the amount of time it takes to drive across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to PEI.

2 lanes. 8 miles. Not really that scary until you realize that the toll costs you $43.25.

This is what most all roads in PEI look like.

Many of the roads lead to the ocean,

to postcard-perfect towns

with busy harbors

and a house that inspired stories.

Some roads offer lupins for sale (pay what you like, all on the honor system).

Others lead to great falafel sandwiches

and souvenirs marking the upcoming visit of some snazzy folks.

I suggest passing the time playing with snuggly pups

and watching early summer storms roll in.

After the cake has completely cooled

make the frosting by placing the preserves, powdered sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of Earth Balance into a large bowl and mixing on medium speed until fully combined.

We ate this cake in celebration of some exciting stuff happening back home

Jun 21

PEI state of mind

This is what life is like here on Prince Edward Island. The people are so nice that when they have to close their shop early, they leave an apologetic sign WITH THEIR CELL PHONE NUMBER ON IT in case you want something from them after hours.

I can’t wait to go back to the Evergreen Cafe and Wellness Studio in Souris when they’re open and munch on some healthy treats made by the nicest people on earth.

This pretty much sums up the trip so far.

Our front yard for the week.

I want to go back to NYC, grab the kittehs, bring them back up here and then never ever leave.

Jun 17

baked berries with pistachio cream

I fell in love with this recipe the first time I laid eyes on it. It comes from Issue 11 of Jamie’s Oliver’s magazine and even though I tried to forget about it because mascarpone cheese plays such a big role in it, I haven’t been able to get those bright, bubbly berries out of my mind.

Luckily, last week I came across this recipe from Vampituity, and after a few tweaks I have what I believe is a delicious alternative to mascarpone. I plan to use it on everything from crackers to cakes.
The original recipe calls for brandy, but I didn’t have any so I substituted water instead and I didn’t miss the alcohol one bit. This dessert is light and creamy, and the cheesy tang compliments the sweet and tart berries beautifully.

Baked Berries with Pistachio Cream
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver
Cream recipe adapted from Vampituity
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup pistachio kernels
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons vegan brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Start by stirring the Tofutti, lemon juice and agave nectar together.

Take your pistachios…

and place them in a food processor and blend until the kernels turn into a fine powder.

Add the pistachio powder to the Tofutti mixture and stir until well combined.

It’s going to look kind of gross, but just go with it. Once it’s combined, place it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it again.

In a large bowl, stir together the blueberries, raspberries, water and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Pour the berry mixture into a small baking dish or cast iron skillet. Spoon the pistachio cream blend and the remaining brown sugar on top of the berries, distributing evenly.

Bake for 35 minutes until it begins to bubble. Oven temperatures can vary, so keep a close watch on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Remove from the oven and serve warm.

In non-berry related news, my husband and I are leaving tomorrow for a 12 day jaunt around Halifax and Prince Edward Island! I plan to nap, frolic in the chilly waves, nap, eat all of the vegan food I can find, nap, blow kisses at seals, oh and also nap. Luckily we’re getting out of there just before Prince William and his lovely bride arrive. I bet that’s going to be madness!

I hope you have a great weekend! Expect photos from Atlantic Canada soon!

Jun 09

baked salt and vinegar potato wedges


If you are a potato lover like I am, one of the easiest things you can do to cut down on the chemicals and preservatives found in your food is to make your own fries, tots and wedges. It’s a healthy and inexpensive alternative to pulling your fries from the frozen foods section or ordering from a fast food joint. Heck, even if you don’t give a rat’s bum about any of that stuff, you should still do it. Know why? Because potatoes are tastier when you make them yourself. You have control over size, crispiness and seasonings when you are the chef.

I was inspired to make these wedges by a glorious bag of salt n’ vinegar chips that I munched on recently. I always have distilled white vinegar in the kitchen because I use it so often when baking, and the salt and olive oil were also hanging out in my cabinet, so all I had to buy were two potatoes. And then the next day, two more potatoes. And then two more. Yeah, we ate these three days in a row.

Baked Salt and Vinegar Potato Wedges
Printable Recipe
Makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste

These are all the ingredients you’ll need to make some pretty bangin’ potatoes. I don’t normally use the word “bangin’” but these potatoes deserve it.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit and slice each potato in half. Take each potato half and slice it into 4 wedges, so you’re left with 16 wedges total.

Toss the wedges in a bowl with the olive oil until they are fully coated.

On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, arrange the wedges on their sides and sprinkle with salt. The amount of salt is totally up to you, but I used a pretty heavy sprinkle. If you decide to go the less salty route, the wedges will still taste great.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and flip the wedges onto their other side.

Bake another 15 minutes, remove from the oven again and use tongs or a fork to stand the wedges up, skin-side down. Brush the wedges with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and put back in the oven for another 3 minutes.

If you look in on the wedges and decide that you want them to be crispier, let them bake a little longer.

Once done, brush the wedges with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar and sprinkle lightly with salt again.

I like to dip mine in ketchup. I’m predictable that way.

Jun 06

wine-soaked cherries

 

I have a love/hate relationship with cherries. I love them 99% of the time. They’re sometimes sweet and sometimes tangy and oftentimes both. They’re cute as heck. I mean come on, a darling little ball of fruit hanging from a stem, attached to one of the prettiest trees you’ve ever seen? You can’t beat that.

But then there’s that 1% of the time when I’m walking down the frozen foods aisle at Trader Joe’s…no big deal, just minding my own business on my way to the frozen berries…and I’m coming up on the ice cream selection but I’m not really craving anything so I’ll just keep moseying along towards the healthier foods when…BAM! Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip! Right in my face. Calling out to me.

“Nikki! Ooohhh Nikki! You could normally pass up dairy-free ice cream with chunks of chocolate but this time we’ve also thrown in giant pieces of thick, irresistible cherries into the mix and we know you can’t resist that! Come eat me!”

And I do. Almost every time. Stupid cherries and their deliciousness. They own me.

Anyway…cherries…

These cherries in the photo up above all of this rambling are my friends. They’re soaked in a wine/sugar/orange/cinnamon concoction that makes them perfect both on their own and as an ingredient in other dessert creations. They’re super simple to make and they’re so portable, you can take them anywhere.

Maybe on a boat?

Or a bike ride?

Or on a picnic?

Maybe to meet up with your pal, Mr. Raspberry Sorbet?

The possibilities are endless! This recipe is from Good Housekeeping and I didn’t change a thing.

Cherries in Red Wine
Recipe from Good Housekeeping

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup vegan refined sugar
  • 2 strips of orange peel
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 pounds of cherries (the recipe says to use dark cherries but I think any kind would work)

Directions:
Place all ingredients, except for the cherries, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, transfer to a storage container, add in the cherries, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I put mine in the fridge overnight and they were perfect.

Strain the cherries and save the wine to drink. Eat up! It’s that simple.