BBQ Chickpea Sliders

Last month I hosted a small Grammys watch party. There were chips and vegan cookies. But thinking that my loved ones may be in need of a little more substance, (let’s remember that the Grammys graces us with at least three hours of awards and performances) I decided to make a small meal for everyone.

I’ve yet to attempt a homemade veggie patty or burger substitute, so I made BBQ chickpea sliders. Chickpeas are extremely affordable (you can buy a can for less than a dollar). BBQ chickpeas are delicious and can really resemble the taste of a pulled pork sandwich. I topped the sliders with an avocado pineapple homemade garnish, and the flavors really complimented each other.  The Grammys are over, but the Oscars are around the corner and there are plenty of reasons to host year round. BBQ chickpea sliders are a great dinner option for yourself, and they are a super cheap and easy way to serve those you love.

Ingredients: makes 5 sliders

  • One 15 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • salt (to taste)
  • slider buns

For the pineapple avocado topping:

  • 1/2 an avacado
  • 1/3 cup crushed pineapple
  • One lime
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Step 1: Drain and rinse.

Step 2: Add chickpeas, BBQ sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder to a sauce pan and cook over medium for 10-15 minutes.

Step 3: Stir the chickpeas and crush half of them.

Step 4: Juice the lime and add to smashed avocado, apple cider vinegar and crushed pineapple. Stir until a chunky sauce is made.

Step 5: Salt and pepper both chickpeas and avocado pineapple topping to taste.

Step 6: Assemble chickpeas on sliders and top with avocado pineapple sauce.

 

While a slider of any kind doesn’t scream “health,” chickpeas are a great source of protein, fiber, iron, and B vitamins. These simple sandwiches are a great alternative even if you eat meat. They are easy on the wallet, but create an exiting combination of flavors for the taste buds. This recipe can easily be made vegan and gluten free if you choose the slider buns accordingly. I served them with roasted vegetables and chips but soup or potato wedges are another great option.

Regardless of what they are paired with, BBQ chickpea sliders are bound to be a hit.

Vegan Chocolate Walnut Brownie Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day! In the name of love for all things sweet, I’m starting off the semester with a rich, vegan dessert recipe. Chocolate walnut brownie cookies combine the best of two classic desserts. These treats are vegan, gluten-free, and worthy of indulgence. Dive into the splendor of these simple brownie cookies; you deserve dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 cup sugar (USDA organic, raw or unrefined sugar is vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (or most dark chocolate baking bars are nondairy)

Step 1: Mix oil, sugar and vanilla

Step 2: In a separate bowl mix flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda

Step 3: Add mixtures together and stir until evenly mixed (batter should resemble brownie batter).

Step 4: Add walnuts and chocolate chips

Step 5: Cover mixture and place in fridge for two hours

Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 7: Line baking sheets in parchment paper and place tablespoon sized dough balls an inch apart

Step 8: Bake for 10-12 minutes

Step 9: Let the cookies and enjoy (:

The recipe is simple. It values your time, and your taste buds will cherish it. Enjoy on your own or spread the love and grace those special to you with these vegan goodies!

Vegan Nogg

 

 

Athens has been blessed with warm weather this past week, but believe it or not, the holiday season has begun. No sign of snow, but December first came and went, and somehow we are less than a week away from finals. My hope is that in the chaos, we are all taking some time to take care of ourselves. That may mean a study break before tears begin to flow. It could mean calling home to talk to someone we love. Or it may be a simple as intentionally reminding ourselves that our finals and grades are not accurate representations of the fullness we embody.

This is a celebratory recipe for celebrating the holidays, passing an exam or making it through the week.  Maybe you’re vegan or maybe the idea of drinking egg has never sat well with you. Regardless, this spiced vegan eggnog recipe this recipe will delightfully warm up your evening or spice up your gatherings.

Ingredients: (Four large servings)

  • Four cups of dairy free milk (I used a combination of coconut and almond milk but cashew and soy work well too)
  • 1/2 cup spiced rum (or to your liking)
  • Four tbs sugar
  • One tsp nutmeg
  • One 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Pour nogg into a blender and blend until slightly frothy
  3. Serve cold and top glasses with an extra dash of cinnamon or nutmeg and a cinnamon stick or candy cane for an added festive touch.

 

Enjoy your well deserved breaks with this heart-warming holiday drink in hand. (:

 

Thai Coconut Curry

 

Last week, a friend of mine asked if anyone else considers coconut curry as comfort food.

I’m not sure that it’s one of the first things to come to mind when I think about comfort food (mac and cheese, Ben and Jerry’s, french fries), but after a little thought, I decided it’s definitely one of my favorite out-to-eat comfort meals. To maximize comfort, I set out to make this meal at home.

It was simple, required few ingredients, and I got it all done within a half hour- while in my pajamas.

The weather is changing, school deadlines are overlapping and the holidays are coming. It’s time for comfort food. Just follow the recipe below.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 of a white onion
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons red curry paste
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Pour both cans of coconut milk into a deep sauce pan and bring to a simmer
  2. Once the milk is simmering, whisk in four tbs of red curry paste and bring to a soft boil for 5 minutes
  3. Dice the the onion and chop peppers into 1/2 inch pieces
  4. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper (adjust cayenne pepper to preferred level of heat)
  5. Add vegetables to curry mixture and let the mix simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies are soft
  6. When veggies are soft pour curry and veggies over prepared Jasmine rice and enjoy (:

Last night my roommates and I curled up on the couch, under layers of blankets, with bowls of warm coconut curry in hand as we rewatched season three of Sex & the City. Seconds were had and bellies were filled. Delight in small comforts, and give this warm vegan dish a try.

Black Bean Brownies

Black bean brownies are exactly what they sound like they are. Brownies made of black beans, among other tasty ingredients. I know, I know, it sounds a little weird. We are using a savory protein-filled ingredient to make a classic dessert.

So why do people make black bean brownies? Easy. They taste good! Brownies have never ranked high on my favorite desserts list.  Black bean brownies do! They are richer, denser and super satisfying. Black bean brownies don’t use flour so they are also gluten free. They’re better for you, can easily be made from scratch and taste nothing like black beans. They cook twice as quickly as regular brownies and won’t leave you feeling weighed down. Be courageous and cure your chocolate craving with a pan of these warm, fudge like brownies.

Ingredients:

  • One can of black beans
  • 2/3 cup of chocolate chips (use dairy free chocolate to make this recipe vegan!)
  • 1/2 cup of gluten free quick oats
  • 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup, agave or honey (I used a combination of maple syrup and local honey)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (if you don’t have it, vegetable oil will work too!)
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor or blender until beans are well blended and substance resembles a batter
  3. Hand stir in 1/2 – 2/3 cup of chocolate chips
  4. Pour batter into a well greased 8×8 in pan (I used coconut oil to grease me pan)
  5. Optional: Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of batter
  6. Bake for 18 minutes and let sit at least 10 minutes before cutting
  7. Serve with powdered sugar (:

The secret to serving black bean brownies is not telling your guests, roommates or friends that you used black beans. Let them indulge before letting them in on your clean little secret, and be sure to treat yourself. Black bean brownies will turn the skeptic into a fanatic and are sure to go quickly.

Tofu Scramble

Last weekend my apartment housed lots of friends. Sunday morning my roommate and I woke up bright and early to cook a big breakfast for everyone.

My average morning consists of a strong cup of coffee and gluten-free oats made with nut milk. It’s quick, healthy and gives me the energy I need to take on the day. This weekend reminded me of the pure magic to be found in waking up early, cooking a full breakfast and eating at your leisure with your loved ones- a glimpse of joy.

A full hearty breakfast isn’t for everyday, but it’s definitely for some Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Quick fact about me: I’m currently slowly transitioning to a vegan diet. I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over three years, and non vegan foods started making me feel ill. Like I said, I am slowly transitioning to a vegan diet. This transition has included buying only vegan groceries and cutting out milk, yogurt and eggs all together. Eggs were the first to go, after researching the amount of water it takes to produce an egg (approximate 50 gallons!).

I say this all to say, that Sunday morning breakfast was a little less complete without eggs. Which lead me to look into all of the tofu scrambles I’ve been seeing on my Instagram feed. I was a little hesitant, but after reading great reviews from vegans and non vegans, I gave it a try this morning and was pleasantly surprised.

So if you’re a vegan missing breakfast, or someone looking for a healthy breakfast alternative, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients: (serves two)

  • 8 ounces (or half a package) of extra firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup freshly diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric

Directions:

  1. Wrap tofu in paper towels and pat to absorb moisture (you can leave it wrapped in paper towels and place a frying pan on top to enhance the drying process while you prepare the veggies)
  2. Cut tomato and onion.
  3. Place onion in a skillet with olive oil, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Then add tomatoes and let the veggies cook for an additional two minutes.
  4. While veggies are cooking, combine all spices into a small bowl and add just enough water to make a sauce.
  5. Use a fork or potato masher to crumble your tofu block until it resembles the consistency of scrambled eggs
  6. Cook tofu in a frying pan with olive oil for five to seven minutes
  7. Combine tofu and veggies in one pan and continue to cook until tofu browns
  8. Add sauce to the pan and stir to completely cover the scramble.
  9. Remove from pan and enjoy (:

I ate my scramble on toasted rosemary and olive oil bread (from Kroger). You can serve the scramble with salsa, avocado or potatoes. Feel free to add your favorite veggies to your own tofu scramble. Tofu scramble can be prepared and enjoyed in a variety of ways and this recipe can be easily customized for your pallet. Get creative. Throw in whatever veggies you have and need get rid of. Feed your guests or treat yourself to a hardy, healthy breakfast.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers were a favorite of mine when I was still eating meat. Good news: I can still have them! Quinoa and veggies are a great alternative stuffing for stuffed peppers. Quinoa has more protein and fiber than brown rice, which makes it not only more nutritious but more filling as well. This vegan dinner is packed with Mexican inspired flavors. You can use any color bell pepper. I used yellow bell peppers because they are milder and don’t work against the flavors in the filling. This is a great meal to share and left overs can easily be reheated. Give this favorite dish with a new twist a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • Small tomato
  • Can of black beans
  • Can of corn
  • 6 bell peppers
  • Lime
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • 4 ounce can of green chiles
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut tops off of bell peppers and remove seeds.
  3. Add dry quinoa to one cup of water and bring to a boil. Then cook on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. Combine cooked quinoa, 1/2 a cup of corn, 1/2 a cup of black beans, small diced tomato, 4 ounces of green chiles, 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro, teaspoon of cumin, teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of chili powder in a large bowl.
  5. Scoop mixture evenly into the 6 seeded bell peppers.
  6. Place bell peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for 25 minutes.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with a lime wedge.

Enjoy with guacamole and chips and a nice margarita for a complete and satisfying meal!

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps are a great option for vegans, those on a gluten free diet or those simply trying to cut bread and carbs from their regular diets. These lettuce wraps are inspired by PF Chang’s tofu lettuce wraps, which are one of my favorite excuses to go out to eat. With the nearest PF Chang’s being more than an hour away (in Columbus), I decided to attempt to recreate one of my cherished comfort foods. This was more than a year ago, and tofu lettuce wraps have been a regular dinner of mine ever since.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)

  • One package of extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • One lime
  • 1/5 cup of peanuts
  • Soy sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Rice vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • White sugar
  • Ketchup
  • Spicy mustard (optional)
  • One garlic clove
  • Water
  • One head of lettuce

PAUSE: If you are looking at this list and checking out due to its length, remember that many of these ingredients are likely to already be in your home (sugar, brown sugar, ketchup etc.). And those that aren’t (like rice vinegar) are a one time purchase that can be kept and used to make the lettuce wraps for future meals. When all staples are purchased and kept, the only thing you will need to buy to continue to make a meal for two to three people (or to keep for yourself as leftovers) is a package of extra firm tofu (less than $2 at Kroger) and a head of lettuce (also less than $2 at Kroger). This is a cheap and clean dinner option!

Directions:

  1. Remove tofu from package and wrap in paper towels to squeeze moisture out.
  2. Cut tofu into half inch cubes, continuing to use paper towels to remove excess water from the tofu.
  3. Place tofu cubes in a Ziploc bag for at least one hour (you can also leave tofu in the freezer over night if you want to prep in advance. If you do this, microwave the tofu for one minute after removing it from the freezer so that it is east to work with).
  4. Cut and dice 1/4 of an onion.
  5. Combine 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar and 1 diced garlic clove. Mix in a small bowl and pour over tofu.
  6. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a medium sized skillet on medium-high heat.
  7. Put tofu, remaining liquid in bowl and onion in the frying pan and let it cook for 12-20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stop cooking when majority of tofu has browned around the corners.
  8. Rinse lettuce and pull apart leaves for wraps.

Making the sauce:

  1. Combine 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of spicy mustard (thinned in hot water) and 1 teaspoon minced garlic.
  2. Cut lime into 4 wedges to serve with wraps
  3. In a blender, blend peanuts and serve as a garnish to be sprinkled on lettuce wraps

Scoop warm tofu and onion mixture into individual lettuce wraps. Serve with lime, peanuts and sauce for personalized flavoring and enjoy (:

Roasted Chestnuts

 

Last spring I studied abroad in Spain. I lived in Sevilla, Spain for just shy of four months. I got to travel a lot, mainly big cities throughout Europe. Europe left me with many things, including a love for roasted chestnuts.

I first tried them in Zurich, Switzerland. The aroma caught me from across a busy street. I made my way to an open fire where the tiny treasures were being roasted and tossed into brown paper bags as purchased. This was the same experience I had in Paris, Rome, and even once in Sevilla.

In the states I think chestnuts are mainly eaten around the holidays and are street roasted in big cities when it starts to get chilly outside. The good news is you can easily roast your own chestnuts. They are actually falling from trees in Ohio right now, and you can even find them at the local farmer’s market in Athens.

Chestnuts are packed with fiber, B vitamins and vitamin C. This means they aid in digestion, promote healthy skin and brain function and boost your immune system. They also contain copper, which helps the body absorb iron, creating strong bones. Chestnuts are composed of complex carbs which provide you with a stable energy flow.

This is a snack that sustains, a warm conscious treat, a gift from the chestnut tree to be harvested and enjoyed.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Rinse chestnuts
  3. With a small, sharp knife, cut a small X into the shell. The shells are hard so place the nuts on a towel when cutting to prevent slipping.
  4. Place chestnuts in a greased baking pan, X side up.
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes

When they are still warm but cool enough to touch, crack, peel, and indulge in these flavor-filled nuts.

Gluten Free Apple Pie

Happy October! With the temperatures cooling down (a little) this past weekend, it’s beginning to look and feel like fall in Athens. Getting into the fall spirit, I decided to make a homemade gluten free apple pie.

If you’re like me, you’re not a gourmet chef. You lack baking experience, and the task of making any pie from scratch seems daunting, intimidating and like a genuine recipe for disaster. I made this apple pie with unsure hands and a hesitant but hopeful spirit. I’m here to tell you that if I can do it, truly anyone on earth can do it.

So cast your fears aside and feel the full force of fall with this gluten free homemade apple pie recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Five medium to large apples (I used a combination of honey crisp and melrose)

For the crust:

  • Two tbs of honey
  • One tsp of salt
  • Two 2/3 cups of gluten free baking flour
  • Three and 1/2 sticks of butter
  • Two cups of water

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Two tbs lemon juice
  • One tsp of cinnamon
  • One tsp of nutmeg

Directions:

Making the crust:

I know this may be the intimidating part, but this recipe uses few ingredients and steps to make a flaky and buttery gluten free crust!

Step 1: Combine gluten free flour, salt and honey in a mixer. Mix for 10 seconds.

Step 2: Cut the butter into thin slices and add to blended dry ingredients. Mix until butter clumps are pea sized or smaller. Don’t let the mix become totally blended. At this stage it should still look very powdery and not like dough.

Step 3: Stir in water by hand, using a fork to fluff the mixture.

Step 4: Remove from mixer and place on a flour dusted counter. Use your hands to kneed the dough into two equally sized balls.

Step 5: Flatten the dough balls, and wrap in plastic wrap. Put in fridge for one hour.

 

Preparing the filling:

Step 1: While dough is chilling, peel your apples.

Step 2: Coring the apples: Simple cut around the apple core and thinly slice apples.

Step 3: Place apples in a large bowl and coat them with lemon juice.

Step 4: Bring sugar, brown sugar and water to a boil.

Step 5: Add cinnamon and nutmeg to filling and let simmer for two minutes.

Step 6: Coat apples with the filling.

 

Completing the pie:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Step 2: After dough is chilled you will need to roll each ball out on a flour dusted counter top to be about 1/4 thick.

Step 3: Use one of the rolled dough balls to form the bottom pie crust by placing it in the bottom of the pie plate and forming the crust around the edges.

Step 4: Dump your coated apples into the pie plate.

Step 5: Cut the second half of your rolled dough into one inch strips to create the lattice top. Then drape the strips over the pie, half vertically and half horizontally, in an over and under fashion to create a beautiful lattice top.

Step 6: Pinch the edges of the pie to form a crust before placing it in the oven to bake for 40 minutes. Let the pie sit for at least an hour so that the inside can solidify.

And there you have it! An apple pie from scratch made easy (and slightly healthier with the gluten free crust). I topped my slice with a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s new non-dairy caramel almond brittle “nicecream” and a pinch of cinnamon. Top to your heart’s desire and enjoy your warm, fall inspired masterpiece (: