I love to cook…
I am horribly guilty of picking apart everything I eat at restaurants. There are not many dishes I do not pick apart. When I do pick something apart, I will usually figure out how to make it taste all the more divine on my own.
I won’t name the restaurant for this one, but this restaurant serves a wood oven roasted seasonal vegetable dish. Honestly, in my opinion, people hardly ever cook spaghetti squash well. It is a bland vegetable that tastes amazing with the right applications. This restaurant served theirs over a tomato sauce that only tasted okay, to me.
My husband loves spaghetti squash… I decided to try my hand at an improvement of the restaurant dish at home and I definitely hit the nail on the head
The sauce adds the perfect amount of flavor and tanginess needed while still letting the spaghetti squash shine in all its seasonal glory. This recipe does not require a lot of ingredients, but it is enhanced in just the right way to let all the elements shine.
1 spaghetti squash (about 4-5 cups), seeded and cooked.
1/2 cup Follow Your Heart Mozzarella (Seriously, I will stab you if you use Daiya.)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 – 1/2 cup or toasted pine nuts
2 tsp dried thyme
4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped and separated
Salt and pepper, to taste
1- 3.5 ounce bag of ready to eat sundried tomatoes
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Blend all sauce ingredients until smooth. Taste and ensure it is salted and peppered to your liking.
Set aside 2 tbsp of chopped basil. In a large bowl, toss spaghetti squash and olive oil. Toss with spices, the other 2 tbsp of basil, and vegan cheese.
Pour sauce into a 12″ cast iron, or oven safe pan, over medium heat, until just warm. Top with the spaghetti squash mixture, top with the pine nuts (I like to use more) and pop into the oven for 15 minutes, or enough to melt the cheese and brown the top slightly.
Depending on your oven, you may have to broil it for the last 5 minutes to get the full effect.
Top with remaining basil and serve.
So, I am already a monster. I love food (my thighs may not). I dream about it, I think about it, I watch it on TV, I constantly consume reading materials for ideas of how to create anything in the kitchen, and to improve on my current cooking abilities.
I decided to test the Food Network on my daughter, in the form of watching Paula Deen’s sons make a gorgeous – and decidedly more dishy – looking chocolate custard with butterscotch whipped cream. It ended in having no choice but to head to the store to buy chocolate and other various supplies for chocolate custard, at the demand of my child. I had never made a vegan custard before, much less a non-vegan custard. However, I have eaten plenty in my life in various forms.
I began to fantasize about a custard I had years ago at a restaurant called Cork, in Chandler, AZ. In talking to the pastry chef, she was inspired by various ideas of the classic combination of chile and chocolate. I had been kicking around the notion in my mind of a healthier custard, anyway, and making a cream like she did. The dessert I had at Cork featured a beautiful custard topped with an unsweetened chile whipped cream. The point of it was to make sure you had both the chocolate and cream in one bite.
It’s been at least 4 years since I had this and I still have wet dreams about it. Now that I am vegan and allergic to dairy, there is simply no chance of having that exact same dessert again. Not to mention, they probably don’t even make it anymore.
While I haven’t attempted a vegan chile whipped cream yet – I haven’t decided on the right chile for it – this custard definitely rivals the custard I had there that day. I topped this version with coconut whipped cream. However, it tastes beautiful with Soyatoo whipped cream as well (they make a rice version!).
When I come up with a chile whipped cream, I will make an addendum. Until then, enjoy this bowl of heaven – or custard. Whichever you prefer to call it. I prefer the former.
Vegan Chocolate Custard
Yield: 6- 4 oz servings.
No-bake method: Combine milks, vanilla, salt, and chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir slowly until all chocolate is melted. Add in sugar and potato starch. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened. IMPORTANT: Work quickly at this point, or tapioca starch will become gummy. Remove pan from heat and let cool for one minute, whisk in tapioca starch quickly. Pour into ramekins and let cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Baked custards: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Work with two bowls and one sauce pan. In sauce pan on medium-low heat, warm coconut milk and vegan milk with vanilla. While this warms, measure 1 cup of chocolate chips into a medium bowl. When it is warmed completely, pour milk over the chocolate and stir until melted and fully incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (tapioca starch, potato starch, sugar, salt) and mix well. Whisk gradually (about 1/3 at a time) into the chocolate/milk mixture until fully combined.
Set ramekins into a solid roasting pan. Pour enough warm water into the pan to come up about halfway around the ramekins. Pour custard mixture into ramekins, and cover with foil. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes.
These will not set like traditional custards. They will look firm in appearance but they will jiggle entirely, a bit like partially set jello. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours.
Whipped Coconut Cream:
Work with cold beaters, and a cold mixing bowl (I stick them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes). Remove cans from the fridge, and you will see that the coconut cream has risen to the top. Scoop it out, draining the coconut water in the process. Try to get as little of this in your bowl as possible. Start to beat in your mixer on medium for approximately 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and vanilla. Continue whipping until soft peaks form.
When it is as whipped as you would like it, add in the sweetener. Serve immediately.
Most Mexican restaurants will have huge jugs of gorgeous horchata, jamaica, and if you’re lucky – melon. They serve them to you with big ladles, and into big cups and you can drink away the summer heat.
As much as I love sweet, sweet horchata this oppressively hot Phoenix Summer has me craving more refreshing flavors. Agua de Flor de Jamaica or melón are enough to make me feel better about living in an oven.
Today, I set out to make my own. Hibiscus flowers may be hard to find, unless you have a Mexican grocer nearby.
Agua Frescas are a great alternative to the typical American punches, and are delightfully more healthy than high-fructose corn syrup laden “juices” many will serve. They can be made with virtually any fruit for an incredible array of flavors!
These can be a festive, delicious contribution to your summer cookouts and picnics. Or, just some sweet relief for the oppressing Summer heat!
Agua de Flor de Jamaica
Steep flowers in boiling water for 10 minutes. If you’re using dry sweetener, stir it in as they steep. Serve over ice, and garnished with a stick of canela and a lime slice.
Agua de Melón
Also very refreshing made with watermelon for auga de sandía.
Blend until smooth, 2-4 minutes, and serve over ice. Garnish with lime.
I always feel like a good verde salsa has a bit of a lime flavor to it. I never see it in the ingredients, but love to make sure I have an extra zest in my salsa. This definitely has an extra tang of lime for a hot summer treat.
I had never made my own salsa. My mom always made a version of regular ol’ red salsa I thought was okay, but never loved. I grew up watching her blend a slurry of raw tomatoes, jalapeños, and tomato sauce that was questionable compared to the gorgeous restaurant salsas I usually ate. I’m a snob – so be it.
I have always intimidated myself away from making salsa. That is, until my fiancé requested that I try my hand at verde salsa. He loved my cooking, and I did not want to admit I was afraid to make salsa! So, what did I do?
I ran to the Mexican market and picked up the freshest, most beautiful ingredients. Serrano chiles, savory cilantro, and beautiful, papery tomatillos.
The first batch was perfect. It was beautiful! Lime-y, garlicky and full of flavor. However, in my first batch ever, I added 6 serrano chiles. While it tasted amazing that first evening as we paired it with our meal, he brought it with him to lunch the next day, and it rendered his food inedible.
I have since continued making verde salsa – with less chiles. Make sure that you realize that the heat will increase the next day, as the salsa has time to sit overnight.
Lime Infused Verde Salsa
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prep your peppers and tomatillos: Peel off the papery husk, and wash tomatillos well – they will be sticky. Cut out the stems.Prep your peppers by cutting out the stem. (I leave the veins and seeds in, but that is a personal preference.)
Lay them all in a roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until browned/blackened. Add tomatillos and peppers directly to a blender, and begin to blend until smooth. Add in all remaining ingredients and blend. Let cool, or serve warm with perfect tortilla chips.
Or on tofu scrambles, with beans, with tacos… You name it.
Makes about 2.5 cups.
I first found out about strawberry bread 5-6 years ago, and tasted it. I got the recipe, but decided to take my own twist on it for a healthier and tastier version than I had that day. Now I can share it with you.
Sorry for the lack of process photos. For some reason they ALL just came out horribly…
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil down two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
Since it is Winter, I used frozen strawberries. I mashed them up like so, in my handy dandy stand mixer (not with my feet). Fresh is always better. Swearz.
Zest your orange, and drop in the zest, the vanilla, and some sugar. Give it one more whirl and let it set for a minute. This will draw out some of those wonderful strawberry juices!
Mix your flour, oats, salt, and baking powder in a separate (but equal!) bowl. Go ahead and add the applesauce and eggs to the strawberry mixture at this time.
Then add the flour mixture, and walnuts. Oh…. Did you toast your walnuts? You’re gonna want to toast your walnuts. Don’t ask questions; just do.
Pour into your NOT-loaf pan, because you lost yours the last time you moved. Now just where did those go?
Bake for 1 hour.
Slice, and delight.