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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anyways, whipping the tofu gave me a whipped fluffy texture, like a whipped cream cheese.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Freezer Time: 20 minutes Servings: 1-4, depending on how much you like chocolate
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
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
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.
Stir in 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Chop additional handful for garnish and set aside.
Spread mixture over prepared baking pan.
Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and sea salt over the top of the hazelnut bark.
Place bark in freezer for at least 20 minutes or refrigerator for 60 minutes to set.
Break bark into rough pieces with hands.
Store in refrigerator in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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
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)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
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
Drizzle oil on potato cubes and plantains. Add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and toss until evenly coated.
Spread potatoes/plantains onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender and browned. Remove from oven and serve with avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro.
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).
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.
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.
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.
These bites are blissful. Crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. And oh, so tangy and good!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Sometimes people are like “oh, you don’t have to bake me anything,” and I’m like “Please just let me I live for excuses to bake.”
So here we are. I halved the recipe below and put it in a mini pie dish since Sarah is leaving to go back to China tomorrow.
I am sad to see Sarah off. I have a lot of friends (well, not really but let’s pretend) from all different stages of life but there is just something about those friends you did stupid shit with in basements and backseats of mini-vans high school.
The filling is more than ordinary peanut butter. Since true Reece’s have more of a frosting-like filling, I tried to channel my inner candy maker and copy it. You can totally just fill it with regular peanut butter if you’d like. That works too.
This broke coming out of the pan (hence the broken pics; do me a favor and pretend it’s artsy, okay? thanks). So grease that puppy good and allow it to come to room temp before trying to remove from the pan.
18 ounces dark chocolate or non-dairy chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup non-dairy butter, softened
1-1 1/2 cups powder sugar
sea salt (optional)
Grease a pie dish. Set aside
Combine peanut butter and non-dairy butter and whisk together (or use an electric mixer) until smooth. Melting the non-dairy butter may help. Using a hand whisk or electric mixer (preferred) whip in powdered sugar. Use as much or as little as desired until a frosting-like consistency is achieved. If you want it looser, use less powdered sugar. If you want it thicker, use more.
Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until melted, stirring between each increment. When melted, stir in the coconut oil.
Pour a layer of melted chocolate in the pie dish.
Layer peanut butter frosting in the center of the pie dish. Spread.
Pour remaining chocolate over the peanut butter layer.
Place in the freezer to set, at least 20 minutes. Allow to adjust to room temperature slightly before cutting.
Our department has a lunch meeting every Wednesday where first year students sit and eat while a faculty member tells us about their research how they got where they are, and sometimes their life story, etc. it’s a nice time / I’m all about free food.
Delivery options are limited around the Columbia University Medical Center campus. Hence why every single week lunch ends up being one of 3 options: pizza that smells like burnt Chuck E Cheese kitchen grease and is paired with a salad cloaked in sad cold deli meat (and one plain salad, but that goes fast), Dominican food, or on a good day, sandwiches on really strangely delicious fluffy crusty white hoagie bread.
Dominican food days are frequent, and I don’t hate it. The buffet has enough veggie options (salad with avocado, rice, beans) that I can finagle a decent meal out of it.
The star of every Dominican week is, of course, the fried plantains. Sticky sweet gooey goodness, the fried plantains have become a cherished and familiar treat.
It dawned upon me this week that I’ve never actually made plantains at home which considering bananas and potatoes are my favorite foods and plantains are essentially the potato of bananas (as in not sweet and rather starchy), is quite odd. So over the weekend I decided to change this. I picked up some plantains, 3/$1, at my local grocery store.
A kind woman was also picking out plantains when I was sorting through them. I asked her if she had any advice for a new plantain cook, and she told me to wait until the plantains were “soft like sponges.” Noted.
Now onto cooking. I don’t love frying things and my stomach doesn’t love eating large quantities of fried food. Hence why I after doing some googling to confirm it was possible, I opted to bake mine.
I did mine skin-on because the method sounded intriguing to me. You can totally peel them and cube them, coat them in oil and seasonings, and bake them that way (just for a shorter duration, 20-25 minutes until tender rather than 40-45).
If you are curious about the skin-on method as I was, I am happy to report that it totally works. Just take it out of the oven when the foil-wrapped plantain gives to a squeeze.
Next comes topping. I played around with topping these babies. One I coined and ate with melted vegan butter and brown sugar.
Another I drizzled with almond butter, cinnamon, and a dash of sugar. The last I ate with leftover black bean soup and cilantro. I decided they would also taste great with guacamole. All were solid options, and it was a very plantain-filled day.
Speaking of filled, I found plantains quite filling. I plan to keep this in mind since they are a cheap starchy piece of produce aka something I desperately need to befriend.
I hope you give these a try. If you do, please let me know, and let me know how you topped or are them.