Day 26 of vegan recipe challenge: cooking with friends

Perhaps “Cooking with Friends” could be the “Words with Friends” for the new year. Less wordy, less competitive, and the outcome literally puts food on the table.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Jessi and I took on our own culinary friendship date. During the process, we touched on our own challenges when cooking with our partners: the improv chef versus the stick-to-the-recipe, the “this is how I do it” mindset [totally guilty of this one], so for a friend to be willing to chop, simmer, and saute along side you, I chalk that up to a pretty big deal.

We started with Angela Liddon’s Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.. I showed some self-restraint and allowed the chickpeas to cook longer than I had previously, giving them even more crunch (and subsequently keeping fewer on the baking sheet as I snuck a couple each time I walked by – oops!). Below, find the recipes from the Oh She Glows blog for both the salad and the roasted chickpeas.

Bowl2You will be quenched, my friends.

Thai-Inspired Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: about 3 portions


  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt


  • 2 medium field cucumbers
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas (recipe follows)

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and adjust to taste. Feel free to add more sweetener if you prefer. Set aside.

2. Peel cucumbers, slice off the ends, and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a small spoon (see photo in post if necessary). Slice halves into 1/8-inch “half moons” and toss into a large bowl. If your cucumbers are really big you can slice the half-moons in half as well.

3. Dice the red pepper and red onion and add into bowl. Roughly chop cilantro and add into bowl. Pour in all the dressing and toss to combine. Let this salad sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, tossing every 10 minutes or so to help the dressing soak in.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted chickpeas (if desired). Recipe follows.

5. Portion into bowls and top with peanuts and roasted chickpeas (optional). Serve immediately.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: 1.5 cups chickpeas or 3 (1/2 cup) servings


  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a medium baking sheet with a couple pieces of paper towel.

2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place onto paper towel. Add a couple paper towels on top and roll the chickpeas around until completely dry. This helps them crisp up in the oven.

3. Add the chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated. Now stir in the rest of the seasonings.

4. Discard paper towel and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Add chickpeas back onto the baking sheet.

5. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. I roast for a full 40 minutes because I like them on the crispy side, but keep an eye on them as oven temps vary.

6. Cool for 5 minutes or so and then top on your salad. They will lose their crispness quickly so these are best enjoyed immediately. If need be, you can freeze them once fully cooled, reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes or so to bring back the crispiness.

But, that’s not all!

That was just the starter set. We jumped over to Isa Does It for the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale. Recently, I reveled in my love for peanut butter. If you have the same lust in your heart, you will MELT over this sauce. After making it, I would put it on anything (even a bird):

No, not really a bird. But as pizza sauce? Yes. On salads? Yes. Over a bowl of quinoa and veggies? Yes. On ANYTHING? Almost yes.

Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale
Serves 4
Total time: 25 minutes; active time: 25 minutes

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used peanut)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce and kale:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (!!!)
2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (can sub soy sauce)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
Pinch of salt

For serving:
4 cups brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles
Sriracha (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Note: Isa recommended S&B Oriental Curry Powder. I could not find it so I used a traditional curry powder. If you can find the S&B brand, the star anise in it supposedly really shines. It’s on my list!

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan, or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, apply the oil in a thin layer. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with the salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot pan; otherwise, turn up the heat. Cook for about 7 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the sauce:
Preheat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil. Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the water and deglaze the pan, then turn up the heat a bit. Once the water is warm, add the peanut butter, curry powder, rice vinegar, tamari, agave, and sriracha. As the ingredients heat up, the peanut butter will blend smoothly into the water as you stir. It should take 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Taste for seasonings, especially to see if you like the level of curry, and add more if you like.

Prepare the kale:
Get your steaming apparatus ready. Place the kale in the steamer and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Steam for about 5 minutes, until soft but still with a little spring to it.

To assemble:
Spoon the rice into bowls. Add the kale, then the tofu, and smother in the peanut sauce. Top with sriracha and cilantro, if you like.

How differently our three bowls turned out:



Bowl1Katie’s…and the worst photo (le sigh)

Have you cooked with any of your friends? Was it a success? Or is it still something we don’t talk about?

Day 25 of vegan recipe challenge: everyday I’m Brusselin’

Starting this post on a slight homage to Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks led by resident good-guy Russell Wilson. Still with the bitter taste of defeat on my tongue, I’ll still root for the Hawks since cheering for New England is not an option.

After the previous Sunday’s long run of 14 miles causing quite the mental consternation for me, I am happy to report yesterday’s 15-miler proved quite the opposite. Breaking my vow of no headphones, I donned a pair for the 2.5 hour journey, listening to two NPR Ted Radio Hour shows and one Pop Culture Happy Hour. Two things I learned:

1) Japanese bakeries in the United States actually invented the fortune cookie. During World War II when fear-monger and hate from the rest of the country led to Japanese internment camps, the Chinese ended up picking up the cookie market, forever cementing in the short-sighted minds of Americans that these treats were part of the traditional Chinese food experience.

2) The story of David and Goliath isn’t as epic as first told (or, repeatedly told). David was a skilled slinger, and the stones found in the particular region were much denser than traditional rock. Based on calculations, the force of the rock coming from David’s slingshot was likely equivalent to a .45mm bullet. Additionally, there is evidence Goliath had acromegaly, a form of giantism caused by the growth of a bengiun tumor on one’s pituatory gland.

Andre the Giant had acromegaly

Shifting from giantism to giantly good eats, I was surprised to find a recipe in the January/February 2015 Health magazine that: 1) was vegan; and 2) was simple. I have seen a shift to include more recipes in publications that are plant-based, which is great. I also received the latest Cooking Light in the mail:

It might be time for us to part ways, CL. It’s not you; it’s me.

So, Health magazine earns a win on this Brussels Sprouts salad. The instructions call fr you to break the sprouts up into thin ribbons. You may certainly do that. I got out the ol’ food processor and shredded away. Or, if you’re really short on time, you can purchase Brussels Sprouts pre-shredded from stores like Trader Joe’s.


Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Mustard Seeds
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 cup raw pecans
16 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I substituted red wine)
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey (I substituted agave nectar)
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds (I used mustard seeds)
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet-tart red apple such as Braeburn or Pink Lady, cored and diced


1) Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast, shaking pan once or twice, until golden brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a cutting board for 5 minutes and then coarsely chop.

2) Thinly slice Brussels sprouts crosswise in 1/4 inch rounds. Remove any woody stems that remain and using your fingers, break up Brussels sprouts into thin ribbons. (Or, use your food processor to shred away).

3) Make dressing: whisk cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, shallot, salt and pepper to taste.

4) In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add shredded Brussels sprouts: saute, stirring, until soft but still retaining some crunch, about 5 minutes. Add dressing and cook, stirring to combine for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Toss apples and pecans with sprouts. Serve immediately.


Oh yes, this is a warm salad. Great texture, tang, and crunch. I really cannot get enough B. sprouts in my life, and this will be a go-to, especially to complement a heartier protein or grain dish. Like this:


The vegan Hoppin’ John recipe to come. Until then, reflect on the reason why many of us have today off: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his historic contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. I have Selma on my must see movie list. After watching 42 and 12 Years a Slave already this weekend, I still can never claim to have a full understanding or even comprehension of what transpired (what still transpires) in our world. But, I must stay present in it, must continue to learn, and then must continue to do what I can to transform the institutions and cultural norms that feed this vicious cycle of powerlessness, of fear, and of hate.

Day 23 of vegan recipe challenge: Houston, we lost a day

After spending one-and-a-half days steeped deep in a workshop on white privilege, race, and equity, it didn’t seem that important to me to post a recipe last night in the grand scheme of things.

Renewing my commitment this morning, I want to return to the coveted protein-filled grain that is quinoa. It’s such a versatile cooking ingredient, and it is JUST so good for you. I won’t dive into the economic and environmental repercussions that Americans have created (as we tend to do) on quinoa-producing countries by hyping up this superfood in our mainstream diet.

From the good folks at Cooking Quinoa, please enjoy this tangy, simple salad for any meal of the week. I did make the mustard from scratch – it is worth it.

Honey Mustard Quinoa Salad
Serves four

mustardSo, so, so good


  • 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Honey Mustard Dressing (bottled or see below)

In a medium bowl combine quinoa, cranberries, celery, carrots and almonds. Toss with dressing and serve at room temperature or chilled. Drizzle with additional dressing as desired.

Honey Mustard Dressing


  • ¼ cup honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder OR 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

Booya. That’s it. Happy Friday, all!

Day eighteen of the vegan recipe challenge: brought to you by Michelle

Time is of the essence today. And, essentially, I don’t have time to pen a thoughtful post (or even a thoughtless one at that!). So, I’m inviting you to check out the recipes of my friend Michelle, who took her own vegan challenge in 2014. She is super talented, so I promise: you will NOT be disappointed with whatever dish(es) you opt to try in your own pursuits:

tofu scramble black beans green pepper cilantro corn tomatoesTofu scramble? Check!

Black Eye Pea Portobello Spinach Patties with Chipotle Pimento Cheese and Roasted Salsa Verde
Black Eye Pea Portobello Spinach Patties with Chipotle Pimento Cheese and Roasted Salsa Verde

Last, but not least for now, one of my new go-to salads:

Avocado, Corn, Tomato and Brussels Sprout SaladAvocado Corn Tomato Brussel Sprout Salad_2

Happy Friday, all! What vegan meals do you have planned for this weekend?

Day fourteen of vegan recipe challenge: it’s Monday

[Author’s note: Due to events out of my control, day fourteen has turned into day fifteen. Think of it as a two-for-one Tuesday!]

Not only is it the first Monday of 2015, it’s the first day back at work for many, including myself. While I didn’t take the full two weeks off over the holiday, work only two days each week spoiled me. There was much whimpering to be heard this morning when the alarm rang out in the cold darkness.

Back to work means less time for cooking, which could mean a harder time sticking to good eating habits. Like many others, I’m a big believer in whipping up larger batches on the weekends and using that freezer to make life easier for the rest of the week. But, I know some people don’t believe in reheating food (I can’t say I understand this mentality). Or, maybe you just don’t have time on the weekends either to be holed up in the kitchen. And that’s ok.

Enter: the quick weekday salad. I made this during the holidays in 2013, and I raved about it back then. Pomegranates are still in season – SO LOAD. UP. I forget how much I like pomegranates until I use them in a dish.

I share with you the delicious brainchild of Angela Simpson from her blog Eat Spin Run Repeat [bookmark it!]:

My super blurry rendition from December 2013

Holiday Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Serves 2
Prep time: 15 minutes; cook time: 30 minutes


  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each dried sage and crumbled dried rosemary
  • 1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups arugula or mixed baby greens
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

For the Apple Cinnamon Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tbsp each extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, toss the squash cubes with olive oil, sage, and rosemary. Pour the pieces out on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice the apple. Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
  • When the squash has roasted for 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and add the apple slices. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes.
  • In the same large bowl you coated the squash in, toss the arugula with the dressing. Divide the greens between 2 serving bowls.
  • Evenly divide the roasted squash, apple slices, pomegranate pieces, and chopped pecans over the arugula and serve

A much prettier version by Ms. Simpson!

 What are your favorite salad add-ins for weeknight meals?

Day ten of vegan recipe challenge: bringing back the “salad” sandwich

Why did the lettuce blush?

Because it saw the salad, dressing!

Popsicle jokes do stick with you. It’s amazing. And with that, happy New Year!

So, while I did go on a slight salad-rant in a previous post during this campaign, salads are so much more than the days of iceberg lettuce + sad cucumbers + one lonely cherry tomato topped (likely) with a pound of ranch dressing.

Cast any salad assumptions aside, and behold! A take on a classic salad…sandwich. This one comes with the promise that no animals were hurt in the process. Put that between two slices of bread and dive in!

Any dish that can bring together the hues of sweet, tart, crunch, and salt, will be a winner in my book. Fortunately for us, Julie at The Simple Veganista dished one of these beauties up in her Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich recipe.

cranberryPhoto courtesy of The Simple Veganista – WHAT A SANDWICH!

Props much do for this savory concoction that is no fuss but all taste. I have even tossed the “salad” onto a bed of greens for a salad-salad. A duplicative dinner, if you will.

Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Serves 6

3 cups cooked or 2 cans (15oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries (chopped fresh would be great too)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup scallions (green onions), thinly sliced, white & green parts
mineral salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon each)

6 tablespoons (1/3 cup) tahini or vegan mayo – KT note: I used vegan mayo
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) champagne, white wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water (only needed if using tahini)
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup – KT note: or agave nectar

To serve
leafy lettuce of choice
bread of choice

Start by mixing your dressing. In a small bowl combine tahini/mayo, vinegar, water and maple syrup. Set aside so the flavors come together. This can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add a tad more water, or vinegar if you’re a vinegar lover, to thin out dressing as desired. If using vegan mayo, you may like to add 2 more tablespoons.

In a medium to large bowl, add your garbanzo beans and roughly mash with a strong fork or potato masher. Add in celery, cranberries, nuts, scallions, salt, pepper and dressing, mix well. Serve at room temp or let chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Serve on your favorite bread as a closed or open faced sandwich, or on a bed of leafy greens. You may even opt to simply enjoy the salad as is.

[Note from Julie: For the dressing, I have only made this using tahini since I do not use any kind of store bought vegan mayos. If using vegan mayo, adjust accordingly adding more mayo as needed, maybe 1/2 cup instead of 1/3. I do recommend trying this recipe with tahini…it is seriously so good that you would never know and it is much better/cleaner for you than the store bought mayos!]

So, with that, it’s officially day 1 of #Veganuary challenge. Are you taking the plunge? Please share what items are on your menu for the next few days, or something you might be curious to try.

Day six of vegan recipe challenge: what the kale

In 2014, what has been hotter than Nicki Minaj, selfies, and the podcast Serial?


Kale is still reigning as the “it” food. Will it be resigned to the “so last year” list in 2015? I doubt it. No only is the vegetable packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it’s versatile enough when someone says something ridiculous like – “I don’t like kale” – you can say: “But you haven’t tried it like this yet.” Maybe they still won’t like kale, but at least you’ve hit them with your best shot.


Behold! A kale salad of wonder that christened our dining room table this Thanksgiving. No surprise: it’s another Angela Liddon masterpiece found in her first and latest cookbook – “The Oh She Glows Cookbook.”

The splotch marks of the pomegranate juice in my cookbook show that while a mess may occur, it’s so worth it. Who wants a clean cookbook?

splotchThe war of cooking takes its toll

Festival Kale Salad with sweet apple-cinnamon vinaigrette & pecan Parmesan
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 20 to 25 minutes; Cook time: 7 to 9 minutes
gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free

For the pecan Parmesan:
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh peeled ginger

To Assemble:
1 bunch kale, destemmed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1.4 cup dried cranberries
1.2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1/2 pomegranate)

1) Make the Pecan Parmesan. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Spread the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

2) In a mini food processor, combine the toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process until crumbly and combined. (You can also chop the pecans by hand and mix everything in a small bowl.) Set aside.

3) Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, oil, applesauce, and ginger until combined.

4) To assemble the salad, place the kale in a large salad bowl and pour on the dressing. With your hands, massage the dressing into the kale leaves until fully coasted. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. The kale will soften slightly during this time.

5) Top the kale with the apple, cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Spring the Pecan Parmesan over the salad just before serving.

Voila! Easy, delicious salad with a nice healthy crunch, some sweetness – and it’s so pretty!