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from Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo

Coconut Breakfast Cakes
2 c whole flax seeds, or 3 c flax seed meal
2 tbsp liquid coconut oil
1/2 c agave or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 c water

Put flax meal, coconut oil, agave, salt, and water in a large bowl and mix well. Form four balls and flatten into a “pancake” shape, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

To serve, top with Cashew Coconut Pudding (recipe follows) and fresh fruit.

Batter will keep for four to five days in the fridge. Makes 4 servings

Cashew Coconut Pudding
2 c cashews
1 1/2 c water
1/4 c pitted dates
1/2 shredded dried coconut or fresh coconut

Blend the cashews and water until smooth. Add the dates and coconut. Blend until smooth.

Will keep for three to four days in the fridge. Makes 4 servings

We recently had some friends visit who are pretty into raw food, so I was more than happy to bust out this cookbook in order to whip up a breakfast treat. I chose these two recipes because not only did I have all of the ingredients on hand, but Cleo has been totes gaga over cashews lately. And pancakes. She doesn’t seem to mind the other ingredients either.
We ended up making these the night before; I say we, because I put my guests to work forming the pancakes. They were huge! (the cakes, not the guests). We ended up making 5, and had plenty. So much actually, that none of us were able to finish our servings. Except for my husband, who has a hollow leg- he ate the biggest pancake, and probably the most pudding, before we even got up. He did have an early morning that he needed fuel for. Not that I’m complaining… The recipe for the pudding made enough for me to bring a bunch to share with my co-workers, several of whom are interested in raw food. I think they were pleasantly surprised (here’s the recipe, as promised, RF!)
I mostly followed the recipe… I might have added just a pinch extra salt (and it might have been divine) to the pancakes, and we chose to go with the maple syrup. Be sure that you measure out the coconut oil after you melt it (if it isn’t already melted in your cupboard…); the measurements are different when solid and liquid. And if your ingredients are cold, like mine were, the oil will solidify again. Mine did, since I keep my flax meal and seeds in the fridge, as well as the maple syrup. I just popped it in the warm oven for a few minutes to warm it up enough to melt it. You don’t want to cook it though! That wouldn’t be fitting of a raw food adventure at all.
This was a breakfast that I was really surprised by. I kind of thought I’d be hungry when I got to work, but I actually stayed full for most of the day. It was actually a little creepy how unhungry I was.
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from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

Salad
1/4 lb green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 radishes, finely diced
Agave nectar
1/4 English cucumber, finely diced
12 red and yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
Kernels from 2 ears raw sweet corn
1 avocado, diced
1 c baby arugula
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp minced fresh basil
1 tsp minced fresh oregano
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 30 seconds, then chill in an ice bath. In the same boiling water, blanch the radishes for 20 seconds, then chill in an ice bath sweetened with a touch of agave nectar.

Place all of the ingredients except for the Vinaigrette and lemon juice in a large bowl. Drizzle with the Vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Vinaigrette
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp agave nectar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the vinegar and agave nectar in a small bowl, then, whisking constantly, slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I love a hearty salad, and this cookbook really delivers when that’s what I call for. The recipe is prefaced with a note- that the salad can get soggy if it sits for a bit; but I did prepare it ahead of time, but waited until I was ready to serve it before I added the arugula, avocado and lemon juice. It traveled well, and our extended family loved it! The sweet corn is such a treat, and it’s so good this time of year, especially if you can get local veggies. I could see how kids would really enjoy this dish, but mine is still at the tender age where she’s skeptical of anything that is combined, mixed, or tossed. She might love each ingredient, but won’t trust me when I tell her she’ll LOVE this. Oh well, more for us.
I didn’t have white wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar. Perfect! Other than that, I stuck to the recipe. I’ll have to make this salad at least once more before the corn disappears from the farm we like to go to.
Here’s Cleo helping to harvest some oregano. Hopefully her thumb is greener than mine:

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Homemade Gnocchi
2 lbs russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of well-rinsed spinach
1 1/2 to 3/4 c all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Poke four or five holes all over the potatoes. Bake them (you don’t need a tray or foil, right on the oven rack is fine) for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size. Do a test after 45 minutes; they should be very tender (mine took closer to an hour). Use tongs to remove them; place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. This could take half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach finely, and cook over medium heat in about 1/4 cup of water until it is completely wilted. Place in a strainer and press all the water out.

Remove the skins from the cooled potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and mash very well. You don’t want to puree them, that will make the gnocchi sticky, just mash them until they have very few lumps. Fold the spinach in. Add the flour in handfuls and incorporate it into the potatoes. Once you’ve added half the flour you can turn the dough onto a floured countertop to work it there. Keep adding flour and lightly kneading the dough until a smooth, unsticky but not dry dough is formed.

Divide the dough into thirds and roll each portion into a rope that is about 1/2 inch thick. Use a pizza wheel or a knife to cut the ropes into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Now comes the fun part- flour your hands and use your thumb to roll each piece of gnocchi gently down the tines of a fork. Each piece should be able to do about half a roll before reaching the end of the fork so the final result should be that one side of the gnocchi has an indent from your thumb and one side has ridges from the fork.

At this point you can sprinkle with flour and freeze any gnocchi you aren’t using. To cook them immediately bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water liberally and cook the gnocchi in three batches. Within 2 minutes they should rise to the surface; let them cook just under a minute longer and remove them with a slotted spoon. Transfer them to a large plate so that hey aren’t putting any weight on each other, and sauce them as soon as you can. I like them with either a simple tomato sauce or sauteed briefly with pesto and veggies.
Serves 6-8

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
1/2 c tightly packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 c water
1/4 c almonds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
a few dashes fresh black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a low boil, then turn the heat off and let soak for about 15 minutes, until soft.

Grid the almonds in a blender or food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (with the water), garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and puree.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the basil. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This was a really rewarding dinner for a day that I felt like challenging myself in the kitchen. Normally I don’t like something that’s so fussy, and I totally got frustrated with the tine-rolling segment (SO NOT THE FUN PART, ISA), but it was very much worth the while, especially when I was able to pull some out of the freezer a few weeks later for leftovers! I was a little uncertain about the texture of the dough and wondering when I should stop adding the flour, but I did pretty well with 1 3/4 cups of it. Kneading it was fun, and I felt like the spinach made my gnocchi a bit more festive, as well as healthy.
Let’s talk texture. Gnocchi isn’t for those who don’t like doughy things. These are SO DOUGHY, so toothy. So satisfying. I want to make all of the variations, but I try to save potatoes for special occasions- they just go down too easy. The texture of the pesto was a nice partner to the gnocchi- with a faint crunch of almondy goodness. Total perfection, this meal.

from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook by Cathe Olson

1 c chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/4 c maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar
1/4 c oil
1 c apricot soak water
1/4 c orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 c wheat germ
1 c walnuts, chopped

Place apricots in heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over apricots and let sit about 15 minutes. Drain apricots, reserving 1 cup of the soak water.

Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a loaf pan. Beat together sweetener, oil, apricot soak water, orange juice, and vanilla. In separate bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir in wheat germ. Stir in liquid ingredients until just mixed. Gently fold in apricots and nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until tester inserted in center of loaf comes out dry. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. For added flavor and moistness, wrap loaf and let sit overnight. Makes 1 loaf

Here’s one for the health nut in you. The sugar addict in you might have some trouble with it though, as might the fat addict. This is a really good breakfast bread. Topped with coconut oil (a THICK layer, mind you), it’s a cozy way to get your day going, alongside a cup of coffee. I do recommend wrapping it though; it needs all the added moistness it can get. The chewiness of the apricot along with the soft crunch of the walnut is what I enjoyed most about this dense bread. The orange juice gives it a little touch of sweetness, though I’d definitely be disappointed if you served me this for dessert. Unless it had a big scoop of Coconut Bliss on top of it.

from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet; douse with the olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add the chopped garlic, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, using tongs and toss to coat. Return to oven, roast for 5 more minutes. Before you remove the Brussels sprouts from the pan, rub them into the garlic, and, when you serve them, sprinkle them with whatever toasted garlic remains in the pan. Serves 6

This was one of THREE recipes I tried from this cookbook in one weekend. It was so simple, and so divine. That last step- the sprinkling of the toasted garlic? Genius. After the weekend of amazing eats that Isa provided the road map for, I just had to order her new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. I have all of her other cookbooks, so I thought I didn’t need another one. BUT I DO. Because this woman is responsible for so many of our good meals, a few pounds I’ve gained. And maybe this book will help take a few off. But I doubt it, because I can’t control myself around good food.
If you don’t have any of her cookbooks, I’m telling you, you’re missing out. She’s never failed me. EVER.

from The Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein

6 (10-inch) flour tortillas (I chose whole wheat)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion (about 6 ounces), sliced into thin half-moons
1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tbsp chili powder, or to taste
1 c rinsed, drained canned pinto beans
6 tbsp prepared tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro (Ich don’t think so)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, the mushrooms, garlic, and salt; cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to release their liquids, about 4 minutes. Add the chili powder and cook, stirring, until the liquids from the mushrooms have evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, salsa, black pepper, and cayenne (if using); cook stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro, stirring well to combine. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if necessary.

To assemble, place one heated tortilla on each of 6 dinner plates. Spoon equal portions (about 1/2 cup) of the mushroom mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up each tortilla from the edge nearest you, tucking in the sides as you roll. Serve at once. Makes 6 servings.

Burrito night happens about once a week in this house. This was a really nice departure from our typical black beans with red salsa-laden go-to. I was intrigued by the mushrooms, as well as the green salsa. I found a locally made one, that has such a great flavor. It will definitely be making a regular appearance on burrito (as well as Daiya cheese nacho) nights to come. The mushrooms weren’t as weird as I’d expected them to be in a burrito. They went really well with the garlic, and lent themselves well to the wrappage. Red peppers were nice and mellow, and almost brought a sweetness to the burritos. I might add more garlic next time (I’ve been trying to take it easy on the garlic, especially when trying a new recipe). Of course, using cilantro is going to add another dimension of flavor to this dish, one that I need not explore. But if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it.
Oh, and about using the oven to heat those tortillas, why not save some energy and wrap them in a tea towel (or large cloth napkin like I did), set them on a plate, and zap them for 30-45 seconds? Works like a charm.

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c oat flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
a handful of shelled pumpkin seeds for garnish (I opted for chunky sea salt instead)

First, reduce the pumpkin. Place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Keep the heat low enough that it doesn’t boil, but it should appear to be steaming. Stir often. After about 30 minutes, spoon the pumpkin into a liquid measuring cup to check on how much it has reduced. It should be down to around 2/3 cup at this point. Return the pumpkin to pot and cook until it has reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the cooled pumpkin and vanilla.

Sift in all remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon onto cookie sheets in rounded tablespoons of dough, flattening the tops with your hand. Arrange a few pumpkin seeds in the centers, if you like (or just give them a sprinkle of big salt chunks, if you prefer, like I did. NOM!).

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin is something that my pantry is never without. So when I decided to make cookies on a whim one morning, these were an obvious choice. And the fact that I had to spend some time reducing the pumpkin meant that there would be no cookie dough for my mid-morning snack. I don’t know if I’d quite sell my soul for this cookie though. Maybe the intro for the recipe just built up my hopes so high that they were impossible to fulfill, but there just wasn’t enough pumpkin to them. I was hoping for something a bit more autumnal, really… and I think throwing some molasses in there somewhere might have given me what I was looking for. As far as cookies go, yes, they’re really good, especially with the delicate salting I gave them to bring out the sweet. They texture- firm, and not crumbly at all, is what really made this cookie win for me. I might have enjoyed just a bit more chew (hello, molasses?). But really, tasty little bites of yumminess, these were. About the reducing business- it actually took more like an hour for me to get to the desired half cup. But, perhaps I was being a bit conservative with the heat on the stove, as I didn’t want to come back from chasing my toddler around to find scorched pumpkin. The rest of the can of pumpkin made for a delish snack for the two of us, sprinkled with cinnamon. Another win for VCIYCJ!

from Gluten-Free Goddess

You’ll find the recipe here!

And with this recipe, we wrap up my Holiday 2010 Baking Marathon. I didn’t make a single savory item- not from scratch anyway. It was all about sugar and flour and fruit this year for Wootie. After making this pumpkin cake (like 6 times) from The Gluten-Free Goddess, I thought I would try out another of her recipes for Christmas dinner with my family. You might recall that my sister has trouble with gluten and soy, so again I turned to the source of what has become one of my favorites. This cake was really good, but it was almost too reminiscent of the pumpkin bundt- I think due to the buckwheat flour. Still a really tasty, moist and satisfying cake! Spicy and weighty, with little fruity chunks of heaven. I’ve never used cranberries in the kitchen, so there’s another item to cross off my list of things to try. I have some leftover, so we’ll see what else I can come up with. Any suggestions?
One of my favorite things about this cake is how pretty it is. The colors are so festive, and the way that sugar glistens on top is quite fetching, if I do say so myself. Topped with some Coconut Bliss, and things became REALLY FETCHING. It was a really nice way to wind down our busy Christmas day.

from Apron Strings

You’ll find the recipe here!

I’ve had this recipe printed out and lurking next to my grocery list for the longest time. But then the holidays got in the way, and then I wasn’t in the mood for cauliflower… but finally, the time came. It was a super cold day, and I felt a bit like I was coming down with a cold. Thankfully I didn’t- perhaps because of this soup? I busted out my big soup pot, as this was a recipe to be doubled. Again, so glad that I did! What a hearty bowl of soup to cozy up to. Mike had seconds, but one bowl was super filling for me. Perhaps it was the rice? I used a brown and wild rice mix, which was super yummy- adding some texture to this smooth soup. The funny thing about this soup is that it isn’t overly sweet potato flavored, nor is it cauliflowery. I’d say it’s mostly a savory curry veggie flavor, very mellow. I might even guess that there were garbanzo beans in it, if we were playing such a game. It’s pretty thick- I ended up needing extra broth to cover the veggies before I could simmer them, but that was easy enough. And Daiya cheese? Heaven. I didn’t have enough of the mozzarella style, so I did a mix of both mozzarella and cheddar style. Ungh. So glad there’s still some in the fridge; I know what we’re having for dinner tonight. Thanks for the great recipe, Lana!

from The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld and George Minot

1 medium spaghetti squash (2 pounds)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place the whole squash on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Halve the squash lengthwise and discard the seeds. Then use a fork to remove the stringy flesh.

Heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Add the squash flesh and salt and toss together until heated through. Serves 4 to 6.

I have a confession to make: I’d never before used spaghetti squash. I’d never even tasted it. I was tired of living in shame and needed to remedy it, and this looked like a simple recipe to free myself of this baggage I’d been carrying around. And it was! My dear friend sent me this book for Christmas, and though I really wanted to try the crepe recipe that she’d sent the book to me for in the first place, I needed something simpler to work into the kitchen between cookie baking and present making. It really was simple to make; I can’t think of how one could mess it up (ok, I could have burned the garlic. I’m no stranger to that…), but really, this recipe was EASY. And very tasty. Spicy and sweet, and healthy. And baby loved it. Triple win! I can see myself changing up the flavors to work with other dishes, the spaghetti squash no longer a stranger to my shopping cart. Thanks Christie! xoxo!