Pasta with Charred Cherry Tomatoes, Broccolini and Vegan Parmesan

Pastaaaaa. I have been craving pasta for quite some time now. I don’t know why. Probably because carbs = love.

Vegan Pasta with Brocollini Charred & Tomatoes Parmesan

Pasta has always been one of my favorite foods. I grew up with an Italian grandma and her penne arrabiata with charred peppers was the best.thing.ever. It has ruined almost all other pastas I’ve had since. Nothing like what Oma cooked up. Somewhere I have her recipe for her sauce. I can never make it quite like she did though…must be that Italian grandma magic.

I decided to make some pasta with some leftover veggies I got to take home from an event. I roasted up some cauliflower, broccolini, and tomatoes on Friday, and while I was eating them, the deliciousness of the roasted tomatoes just called for pasta.

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I was too lazy and hungry to make it at the time, but today I cooked up some whole wheat noodles, paired it with steamed broccoli, a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, salt & pepper, a bunch of Vegan Hemp Parmesan, and the real MVP, the charred tomatoes.

Super simple, very flavorful, and far from over-complicated. The way Italian-inspired food should be, as far as I’m concerned.

Vegan Pasta Brocollini with Charred Tomatoes Parmesan

Let’s talk pasta for a minute, shall we? At some point society demonized the glorious stuff. The thing is, there is nothing inherently significantly worse about pasta than many other forms of carbohydrates, especially when it’s whole grain.

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Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars

Today I was craving some comfort. The past few weeks I’ve felt uneasy, and I can’ quite figure out why.

Easy Vegan Almond Butter Strawberry Seed Jam Bars with Crumb Topping

Perhaps it’s a combination of stress of an 18-credit graduate school load, figuring out my summer practicum, some pressing family issues, or the mundaneness I sometimes feel after working on something (whether it be school work, work work, projects, or applications for practicums) from morning til evening with little relief.

Once I cross one thing off my list, it seems, 6 more pop up.

VEGAN Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal crumb bars

Yesterday I took a break and got brunch at Mathew’s with my good friend Raag. The outing provided not only a delicious meal and good conversation, but a much needed break, some peace of mind, and a fleeting moment or two of comfort.

But today, I was back on the grind. And today, comfort came in the form of Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars.

Vegan Strawberry Chia Jam

I love a sweet but not-too-sweet breakfasty nibble, filled with oats, nut butters, and sometimes fruit to snack on in the afternoon with tea and to have to pack for snacks during the school week.

I wanted something with a soft bottom, a yummy fruity center, and a scrumptious oatmeal crumb topping. Crumb toppings are one life’s finest pleasures, as far as I’m concerned.

Almond Butter Strawberry Chia Seed Jam Bars Spread 2

I was trying to decide what to bake when I remembered the clearance frozen strawberries I purchased at the store yesterday, and the idea for a Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Bar with an oatmeal crumb topping came to me. And just like that, I knew I had to make some.

Easy Cegan Almond Butter Strawberry Seed Jam Bars + Crumb Topping

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Vegan Hemp Parmesan

True story: I grew up with a tiny Silician grandmother (“Oma” who loved to feed me lots and lots of yummy food. My favorite forever and always was her pasta with homemade sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. The lady also made the most amazing salads. No other food has ever tasted as good.

Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parmesan

The woman had a gift: she could make the simplest ingredients taste phenomenal. No recipes, just all by look and feel. Bless her genius culinary skills.

Oma always had Kraft parmesan out on the table. Yup, the totally American, shelf-stable stuff in a blue shaker jar. According to my mom, it was the ‘only game in town’ for a long time before importing foods became more mainstream and better options were available. Regardless, Kraft parm will always remind me of her.

Hemp Hearts

I was never big on melted cheese, but I always did love me some parm on top of pasta or salad. Since going dairy-free, I’ve ventured into the world of making my own parm.

For a very long time, I’ve pulsed up walnuts or cashews and added nutritional yeast as the base for parm. While this works well, I recently brought a bag of hemp seeds and thought the shape, size, and nutty flavor would work perfectly for vegan parm. Turns out, I was right.

Nut-free Vegan Hemp Parm

Hemp seeds/hearts have recently entered my life and I can’t get enough. And they’re one of those hype foods that’s actually quite good for you. 3 Tablespoons packs 10 grams of protein, 20% DV iron, and 3 grams of fiber.

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Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Helloooo my favorite snack ever! If you’ve known me for any length of time you probably know that my favorite food on earth is the wonderful sweet potato. Regular. Japanese. Red. Purple. I’ll take ’em all. Carb me.Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

I am a sweet potato maniac. When I was a kid I would walk around with a baked sweet potato in my hand, eating it as if it were an apple. I was cool. Between that and being the only elementary school kid drinking soy milk (because milk did and does give me the worst gas ever) I had a lot of friends. I promise.

Easy Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is with almond butter. Something about the nuttiness of almond butter plays so well off the savory sweetness of sweet potatoes.

Baked Cripsy Sweet Potato Wedges with Almond Butter

Lately I’m very into making sweet potato wedges. For years, I pretty much exclusively made baked sweet potatoes and ate them whole. But lately I’m on a wedge kick. Bonus: sweet potato wedges are perfect for dipping, in my case in AB.

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Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

Don’t you love it when you turn on the oven, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, hope for the best, and the result turns out amazing? Same here. And that’s exactly what happened with these Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies today.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

So this blog post is rather spontaneous. To be honest I’m in the middle of a few others that are more intensive in terms of scope and research required (think nutrition and sustainability).

But I’ve done so much grueling brain-sucking work this weekend I decided to take a break and make some cookie muffin things and they turned out so yummy I decided I’m extend said break by snapping a few phone photos (I need to get out my real camera…I’ve just been so damn busy the past few weeks) and toss them (figuratively) on the blog.

Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies

The plus of spending so much time on the grind this weekend for work/school is that I suppose I learned a lot. Including that school is hard, I have a lot of self-reflection to do with professional development/relationships, having a working kitchen is very therapeutic to my existance and that people definitely notice dog hair in jam photos. Oops.

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Easy Homemade Chia Jam

I love me a PB&J. Or an almond butter and J. Both are wonderful. And something I feel I appreciate more as an adult than as a child. Anyone else? Okay, maybe just me.

Easy Homemade Chia Jam

While I’m a nut butter fiend, I also appreciate a scrumptious jam or jelly. The issue, I find, with many at the store is that they’re so darn sweet.

Chia Jam Recipe

I’m all about desserts, but when it comes to breakfast foods like yogurt, jams, and oatmeals, I’m very turned off but overly sweet things. Hence, I seek out sweetened-with-only-fruit jams (Crofter’s Organic is my favorite brand, and Trader Joe’s has some good options, as well) or I make my own homemade chia jam.

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Chia seed jam is the easiest thing ever. All you do is add chopped up fruit, chia seeds, and a hint of lemon juice if you’re feeling fancy. If you want to up the sweetness factor, go ahead and add a tablespoon or two of sugar, honey, or syrup.

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Easy Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese

On Saturday I stopped into the most adorable Italian bakery (Prato) and bought myself a giant loaf of still-warm multigrain bread. It was so fresh and so tasty and it was the best $3.80 I’ve spend in a while.

Easy Vegan Tofu Cream Cheese Recipe

Naturally, everything I’ve eaten since purchasing said loaf has revolved around things to eat with bread. I didn’t have any avocados (boo), nor vegan cream cheese (double boo) and wanted something savory to eat with my bread.

tofu

So I decided to use some tofu to make a plant-based whipped cream cheese spread. I figured, if delis can make cream cheese out of tofu, so can I. So there.

homemade vegan cream cheese

Now. I whipped this cream cheese up with a whisk because I don’t have my food processor with me in NJ yet. I keep forgetting to bring it out here and am setting a reminder to do so when I come back from spring break.

whipped tofu

Anyways, whipping the tofu gave me a whipped fluffy texture, like a whipped cream cheese.

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Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Bark with Sea Salt

Last night I was cleaning out the fridge/freezer/pantry (party) and started making a bunch of random things to use up odds and ends to help the organization process along.

Easy Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

I whipped up some dark chocolate hazelnut bark with sea salt and was SUPER thrilled with the result. Chocolate + nuts + salt = my favorite. So obviously, I was into this.

Easy Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

It was a spontaneous creation, but so good, and so simple, I decided to snap some phone pics today to put it on the blog in case anyone needs some #inspo for an easy yet impressive homemade chocolate treat.Easy Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

This is basically a no-recipe recipe. You can use whatever nuts you fancy. Or you can add in some chopped figs/dates if you like. You really can’t mess it up.Easy Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

No matter what you add, you’ll end up with delicious, rich, chocolate bark. It’s impressive to put on a plate at gatherings (so long as you keep it elevated if you have doggos) and/or bring to a party or dinner. It also takes minimal effort and is perfect for using up odds and ends in your baking pantry.

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I hope you make this bark and I hope you love it. Let me know if you do! Tag or DM me on Insta (@katherinebaker4) or leave a comment below.img_0427

Peace, love, and salty nutty chocolate!

Easy Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Barki

Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Bark with Sea Salt

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Freezer Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1-4, depending on how much you like chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped dark chocolate (or one bag dark chocolate chips) – I used Dark Chocolate Lover’s bar from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted or raw (based on your flavor preference, I used raw) whole or chopped hazelnuts, plus additional handful chopped for topping (about 1 3/4 cup total)
  • 1-2 tablespoon flakey sea salt

Method:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl using medium-high heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted. This will take about 90-180 seconds, depending on your microwave.
  3. Stir in 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Chop additional handful for garnish and set aside.
  4. Spread mixture over prepared baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and sea salt over the top of the hazelnut bark.
  6. Place bark in freezer for at least 20 minutes or refrigerator for 60 minutes to set.
  7. Break bark into rough pieces with hands.
  8. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Spicy Sweet Potatoes and Plantains

Carbs, carbs carbs. We all know I love carbs. And potatoes (sweet potatoes in particular) have always been one of my favorite foods.

Last fall when I lived in Minnesota I was exposed to several varieties of sweet potatoes I’d never had before. I’m sure I walked by them in grocery stores in the past and overlooked them in search of regular, but now that I’ve discovered the likes of purple and Japanese sweet potatoes, I truly enjoy mixing up my potato game.

Then, a few months ago, the plantain obsession started, and now these babies have become a routine part of my starchy vegetable parties.

And the best part about these parties is that I can mix and match my starchy carbs to my liking.

A lot of people ask me how I eat potatoes and plantains since I eat them so frequently. This (along with plain baked with salt and almond butter) is one of my favorite ways.

Simple, spicy roasted sweet potatoes and plantains make a the perfect side dish to your meal (try alongside a tofu scramble!), or topped with avocado, beans, and/or pico, can easily become a meal.

All you need is a couple potatoes, a plantain and some spices, and you’ve got a yummy nutrient-packed starchy vegetable treat on its way.

I hope you try this dish, and if you do let me know! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes & Plantains

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 1-3, depending on if you eat as an entree or side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large purple sweet potato (can sub Japanese sweet potato, regular potato, or additional regular sweet potato)
  • 1 large very ripe (brown) plantain
  • 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • heafty sprinkle of salt
  • avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cube sweet potatoes into equal sized cubes or coins. Place in a bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds – 2 minutes to soften slightly, as potatoes will cook more quickly than plantains otherwise. Slice plantain into 1/4 inch thick coins and add to bowl
  3. Drizzle oil on potato cubes and plantains. Add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Spread potatoes/plantains onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender and browned. Remove from oven and serve with avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro.

Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites

Look! A recipe that isn’t dessert! Oh JOY!

EASY vegan BAKED tofu buffalo bites

Haha I’m not sure why I wrote that…I’ve posted many non-desesrt or non-baked good recipes in my day. It just seems like lately desserts have been the kbaked.com trend (other than these nom nom baked plantains).

tofu prep

Back to the topic at hand: Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites. I made these after mentally toying with the idea for a few weeks now. Personally, I love any food or dish that is essentially a vehicle to eat an excessive amount of hot sauce. And while I do love cauliflower wings, I wanted to play around with buffalo sauce + tofu.

buffalo tofu

Anyone else just really love tofu? My theory is that if you don’t like tofu, you haven’t had it prepared well.I love it so much I can literally eat it plain with salt. That’s a little extreme for most people, but I am a tofu fiend for sure.

buffalo tofu marinating

The tofu and hot sauce lover that I am, I finally decided to pair them together. The result was stellar. So good, in fact, after testing only once, I immediately declared them blog-worthy, grabbed my camera, and just a few hours later here we are.

Vegan Baked Tofu Bites

These bites are blissful. Crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. And oh, so tangy and good!

Vegan Dipping Sauce for buffalo wings

To get the texture and flavor I desired, I first drained and pressed the tofu for about 4 hours before marinating overnight. This is optional and something I only did because I happen to be on break from school and have more time than usual on my hands.

EASY Vegan Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites

Skipping pressing the tofu and marinating for an time longer than an hour will totally work. You could even skip marinating all together if you wanted to, and simply drench the baked tofu in the marinate after baking.

marinating buffalo tofu

Another new tofu technique I toyed around with for these was the addition of a coating of cornstarch on the tofu cubes. I had read that lightly coating tofu in cornstarch enhances the crispness of the tofu’s exterior. What I read was correct. Highly recommend this technique if you’ve never tried it.

Easy VEGAN buffalo tofu bites

I also used what I had on hand to whip up a quick, cooling dipping sauce by combining plain unsweetened vegan yogurt (I used KiteHill Greek Style unsweetened yogurt) + some seasonings. You could also simply use vegan bottled ranch or regular ranch if you’re not vegan. Or a blue cheese dip. I personally hate blue cheese-flavored things, but you do you.

Easy Cool Vegan Dipping sauce

If you like hot sauce, even just a little bit, you should really give these a whirl. They are so, so easy, and so SO good. Crispy, tangy, chewy, creamy, spicy, addicting little bites of heaven!

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Easy Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites

Prep Time:  1 hour
Bake Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients:

Buffalo Bites:

  • 1 16-ounce container firm tofu (I used Organic firm from Trader Joe’s – the one in the pink package)
  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegan butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Dipping Sauce (OR sub Vegan Ranch):

  • 6 ounces unsweetened Greek-style non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning blend like Ranch seasonings (I used Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute)

Method:

  1. Remove tofu from package and drain excess liquid.
  2. If pressing, place tofu block between two plates and place 2-3 cans on top. Place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours and drain additional water. You can skip this step if short on time.
  3. Cube tofu into 1 inch cubes and place in a Tupperware container or baking dish large enough that cubes are close but not stacked.
  4. Prepare marinade by combining 1 tablespoon melted non-dairy butter with 1/2 cup hot sauce + 1/4 cup water. Mix. Pour over tofu. Cover tofu.
  5. Place tofu in the refrigerator for 1-8 hours (or overnight).
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove tofu from refrigerator and transfer to a bowl. Add cornstarch and gently toss until all tofu is lightly coated.
  7. Line a baking sheet with a Sil-pat or parchment paper. Transfer tofu to baking sheet, spaced evenly.
  8. Bake tofu for 30-45 minutes, until crispy on the outside, flipping halfway through.
  9. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce + 1 teaspoon melted non-dairy butter. Use to drench tofu immediately after removing from the oven.
  10. Serve immediately.