Need a little inspiration for some Summer snacking?
The weather finally got hot here and I think it’s going to stay that way. I say at least for the following months. It’s alright with me though. I know all too well that the cold will return soon enough. As you know, one of my favorite ways to take advantage of each season is to make something delicious.
So if you caught my recent posts you may know that I’m doing this little self-challenge. My goal is to start expanding my normal vegetable choices to things I don’t use as much (or never). Eggplant is not something I’ve tried before but rarely, if ever, use. When I was trying to decide what to make with it, I came across a beautiful appetizer board online and immediately baba ga-knew-sh what to do. (Rofl, I know it was such a corny line.)
Baba ganoush is a dip with a name that’s fun to say but sounds a bit fancy and complicated, right? Well, the great news is that it’s not at all. In fact, it’s very easy to make and only takes a few minutes of hands on work. You simply roast an eggplant first (a step I like to accomplish while I’ve already got my oven on for baking other things anyway). After that you peel it, throw it a blender with the other ingredients, and press go. That’s all there is to it.
Oh, and I’ve been loving sharing some little insides to how I sometimes use my recipes. I made this dip a few days ago on the same day I made this borscht soup and decided that this would make a great salad dressing so I had some corn on the cob and some greens.
You can also serve this as a warm dip for parties or events you might like to take it to. Either way, I think a variety of colorful veggies, chips, and crackers make a great presentation.
As always, I’d love to know what you think if you decide to make it and feel free to ask any questions. 😉
Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Dip "Baba Ganoush" (Vegan+GF)A fancy yet simple dip that is great with chips, crackers, and veggies.Prep Time 10 minutesCook Time 40 minutesTotal Time 50 minutesServings 4 - 6 servings
- 1 medium-large eggplant washed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- sea salt & black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200C) and line a baking tray with foil or parchment. Bake the eggplant whole for 30-40 minutes until the skin begins to look wrinkled and darkens. Remove from oven and cool until able to handle it.
Peel off the skin of the eggplant and cut off the stem. Then place the rest into a blender or food processor and add the other ingredients. Pulse until smooth and it's ready to serve.
Store in an airtight container if saving.
Today we’re talking about Ukrainian red borscht, have you heard of it? It’s a European favorite, specifically in Russian and obviously Ukraine.
This post is all about Ukrainian Red Borscht
Haha, I have to reference a children’s movie and prove my inner kid here. If you’ve seen the Dreamworks animated movie Madagascar 3 then you might remember the Russian tiger mentioning his love for this soup. I also have a special love for this recipe because it was one of the very first ones that I shared here on my blog. Due to it being a popular post I felt it was long passed time to update it.
So in case you’ve never heard of this soup, it’s a traditional soup that is very common in many European countries. Honestly, I only know this because in 2006 my family became part of a hosting program. We had the pleasure of hosting two beautiful little girls from Ukraine during their visit to the states. We knew right away that God had planned for them to be part of our family all along. In 2007 they became my sisters and have been ever since. You would never know that they were not born into our family if you met them. People tell us all the time that we look so much alike and I can’t imagine life without them.
Let’s talk about Ukrainian Red Borscht:
This recipe is something that they both enjoy for it’s nostalgic memories. You could just call this “A Whole Lot of Red Soup” I can see why it is such a traditional dish in Europe. It is so cheap and easy to make and so healthy.
This recipe may not be as welcome in households with picky eaters. Mostly because of the color. I don’t know about you and your family but in my house there are a lot of visual picky eaters. Meaning that they will only try things that good to them, regardless of what it tastes like. My youngest siblings will decide whether or not they like something prior to tasting it. It is so frustrating!
I keep saying that I am going to get blindfolds to cover their eyes before they taste things because then they would eat way more things. This soup is really good and I think my entire family would like it but I won’t sugarcoat it and tell you they do. I did, however, get my little sister to try it when I told her about the sour cream that goes on top. You see, she has this thing for sour cream. I think she would eat a bowl of it by itself if we let her. She loved the fact that it turned the soup pink when you stirred it in.
Anyway, this is has become a favorite for some in my house and I’d love to know what you think of it if you decide to give it a try. One thing I highly recommend is to have a great soup pot to make this recipe. It’s hugely important in my opinion.
Take it home for yourself and give it a try!
This post was all about Ukrainian Red Borscht Soup
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Traditional Ukrainian Red Borscht Soup (Vegan+GF)A classic soup in Eastern Europe, this borscht can be prepared a number of ways. This version is vegan and gluten free. So healthy!Prep Time 20 minutesCook Time 1 hour 20 minutesTotal Time 1 hour 40 minutesServings 10 servings
- 6 cups homemade vegetable broth/ or organic bouillon
- 3 medium beets washed well and cubed
- 3 large potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes
- 3 medium carrots thinly sliced or shredded
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 head red cabbage cored and shredded
- 1 5 oz can tomato paste
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar or to taste optional
- salt and papper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- coconut cream or unsweetened plain coconut or cashew yogurt for topping (optional) optional
Wash and chop all of your veggies and place them in a large pot. Pour in the vegetable stock and cover the pot. Place over medium high heat and bring to simmering boil. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until the beets and potatoes are very tender.
Add the tomato paste, sugar, dill, salt, and pepper then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot with desired toppings.
I think I’ve discovered my favorite new Summer side salad!
So I know I totally dropped the ball on getting a red, white, and blue themed recipe up for all my friends here in the States.
I don’t know, I just had so many recipes lined up before the 4th that I had to share. The good news is that this salad is perfect for a picnic on a hot Summer day. In fact, all the bursting colors sort of remind you of fireworks, no?
I’ve had a spiralizer for a while but because it’s not a tool I keep in plain sight I tend not to use it as much as I’d like to. This salad though, it may have changed that and the key component is the pesto. It’s made with just a few simple ingredients and they’re all just thrown into the blender. Done.
Now I know there are some that would argue zucchini noodles are nothing compared to regular pasta and you know what, I couldn’t agree more. The point of the zoodle is that it’s just the most fun, and for me enjoyable, way of eating zucchini (or possibly tied with zucchini bread 😉 ).
Like I said, the pesto is simple. Just a handful of ingredients pulsed together and tossed with zoodles, red onions, pine nuts, and cherry tomatoes. If you would rather use a nut instead of pine nuts, go for it. Also, to be completely honest, cherry tomatoes aren’t one of my favorites so if I made this just for me I’d use some red bell peppers in their place.
Guys, guys, this salad is way better than it even looks. I know the sight of so much green might be off-putting to anyone who doesn’t eat a lot of veg, but if you have any curiosity about this one, try it. And by the way, it’s also gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and requires no cooking at all!
One last tid bit I should add is that this salad’s only weakness is that it doesn’t save well. No worries though, you can still make it ahead and just keep the pesto separate from the veggies. When you’re ready to serve, just toss it all together and you’re all set.
Creamy Avocado Pesto Zoodle Salad (Vegan+GF)Show the world that "salad" doesn't have to be a boring pile of lettuce with these epic avocado pesto zoodles!Prep Time 20 minutes
- 2 medium zucchini spiralized
- 1/2 medium red onion diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves washed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast plus more for topping
- 1 ripe avocado pitted
- 2 teaspoons fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Combine the ingredients for the pesto in a blender or food processor and blend until nearly smooth, but still slightly textured.
Toss the pesto with the zoodles, onion, and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Top with the pine nuts and some more nutritional yeast and serve immediately.
This salad is best served fresh. If you need to prepare it ahead, simply store the pesto in an air-tight container separate from the veggies and toss together just before serving.
This vegan egg rolls recipe is simple and versatile. Great for a plant-based dinner party or to bring to your family’s next holiday dinner. No one will know they’re vegan.
What do you do when the craving for egg rolls hits? And what if, on top of that, you’re just not in the mood to leave the house?
This post is all about Quick and Easy Vegan Egg Rolls Recipe
Just make them yourself! Besides, they’re way better that way in the first place. I think there are some foods that people assume have some secret complicated process. They’re definitely one of those, but they can honestly be so simple. Of course, these rolls don’t actually have any eggs involved (calm down vegan police).
In the past I’ve even made them by rolling out the wrappers by hand. That was back when I was living internationally and I couldn’t find anywhere to buy wrappers. I’ll admit, that doing them from scratch is a bit time consuming when you have perfectionist tendencies like I do. Even still though, there really isn’t any magical secret to them. Basically, they’re just like little Asian versions of burritos that get fried. If you do happen to want to try these from scratch and make homemade egg roll wrappers you can use the wrapper recipe from this Southwest Egg Roll Recipe.
Even if you don’t decide to never get egg rolls from your local Chinese place again, it’s still a really great recipe to have under your belt I think. Maybe it’s just me, but for some reason I really like to try making everything at least once. That usually involves me making a handful, or sometimes a lot, of tweaks to the basic recipe. That’s definitely been the case every time I’ve made egg rolls.
I’ve tried quite a few flavor variations for egg rolls in the past but I thought it would be nice to keep these rolls minimal. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t very easily change them or add in your own ingredients. Just don’t skip the toasted sesame oil because it adds so much flavor. Like I’m always saying, there are no rules in cooking that aren’t made to be broken.
Well, okay you probably shouldn’t break every rule out there (please don’t put foil in the microwave!) but I think you catch my drift, right? The bottom line is that homemade egg rolls are nothing to be intimidated by and definitely something you should try for yourself.
This post was all about Quick and Easy Vegan Egg Rolls Recipe
Quick and Easy Vegan "Egg" RollsForget ordering takeout, you can make it at home and these egg rolls are just the thing for curing those Chinese food cravings!Prep Time 25 minutesCook Time 25 minutesTotal Time 50 minutesServings 18 rolls (about)
- 1 18-count package of square egg roll or wonton wrappers (check ingredients if vegan)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 large carrot julienned
- 2 cups green cabbage shredded
- 1 small onion diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic paste
- 1 quart oil for frying
Optional for serving:
- Asian dipping sauces like this sauce
- fresh chives
Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200C) and line a baking tray with parchment or foil. Combine carrots, cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, and rice vinegar then stir to combine.
Fill a small bowl with water and use your fingers or a small brush to wet all of the edges of each wrapper. Spoon about 1/4 cup of filling onto 1 corner of wrapper then start rolling towards center. Fold in sides and wrap tightly. Add a little more water to seal the tip if necessary. Repeat until all of the rolls have been filled. (Note: you may not need all of the wrappers depending on how much you put in each roll.)
Heat oil to 350 degrees F (180 C) in a wok or deep fryer and fry the rolls in batches (of about 4) for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Place them on prepared baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden
Serve hot with your favorite Asian dipping sauces. (We like this sauce)
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Need a change from your typical veggies and dip for an appetizer? These vegan ranch fried cauliflower bites are here for you! They’re crispy, delicious, easy, and gluten free.
Coming at you guys with another recipe.
This post is all about Ranch Fried Cauliflower Bites
You know that age old question about desert islands and a single food? The one that goes “If you could only choose one food to live off of on a desert Island for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
So I get the point of it, a fancy way of deciding what your favorite food is, but I’ve always felt this question was still too vague. I mean, I like specifics. Are there any other people on the Island? Does the island have anything edible on it already? Like, if we’ve got some coconuts and pineapple then we’ll make some spears, catch some fish, and be all set right? I’m just saying, details would be nice people.
Whatever the case, I’m a very indecisive person so this question has always been a real tough one for me. Now if I had to make this decision on other’s behalf, like for my family, I think it would be easier. I’d go for something crunchy, salty, and deep fried. Yes, those are probably the most popular kinds of foods in my family, even if not the healthiest. The boys are especially huge fans of any form of fried food. That’s why coming up with a slightly healthier version seemed like a great idea.
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE RECIPE FOR VEGAN RANCH FRIED CAULIFLOWER BITES
I recently made some new friends that have some pretty restrictive allergies with certain foods,. I love a culinary challenge and they’ve inspired me. I’ve recently been playing around a little bit with more alternative ingredients just to get some fresh ideas.
This version of cauliflower can either be baked, pan-fried, or air-fried, depending on your preference. I wanted to try coating them in a simple coating that would be gluten free without needing any hard-to-find ingredients. That’s why I used almond flour and unsweetened shredded coconut. These still aren’t the most common ingredients, but I’ve noticed them both becoming more popular on the shelves at more than one local grocery so I’m hopeful you can find them as well.
If you can’t find them the almond flour it can be made at home using raw almonds. Besides the fresh cauliflower and vegan yogurt you can order all of the ingredients online. I also shared a recipe for homemade vegan ranch dip but you can buy vegan ranch online.
Coconut Almond Ranch Fried Cauliflower Bites (Vegan+GF)Need a change from your typical veggies and dip for an appetizer? These cauli bites are here for you! They're crispy, delicious, easy, and gluten free.Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 25 minutesTotal Time 40 minutesServings 8 - 12 servings
- 4 - 5 cups fresh cauliflower florets
- 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
- 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 1 cup vegan ranch dressing recipe follows or store-bought
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 1/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- peanut oil for frying or preferred oil
If making the ranch homemade, mix ingredients for the ranch in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Mix almond flour, coconut, pepper, and salt; pour into pie plate. Pour cornstarch into a separate pie plate and milk and ranch in a small bowl.
Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces and dip first into cornstarch, then milk/ranch, then breading and place on parchment lined tray.
Fill a large saucepan or deep fryer with a few inches of oil and heat to medium high. Fry chicken in batches for 1 to 2 minutes per side until done through. I like to test by cutting the largest piece to make sure it is completely cooked. Remove to paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. (Alternatively you can bake at 400 degrees F for about 12 minutes or until crispy)
Serve immediately with hot sauce or extra ranch..
This post was all about Ranch Fried Cauliflower Bites
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How about a taco Thursday? So my taco Tuesdays sort of got a little side-lined during my traveling but that doesn’t mean we can’t still go Mexican today, right?
So my sister and I were in Southern California for over 4 days and we just barely managed to eat Mexican food once. Okay, I know, I know, Mexican food is the thing there. People come from all over the world and know that it’s the place to get the authentic stuff. It’s just that ironically, out of a huge family that all love Mexican food, my sister and probably like it the least. For her it’s that she doesn’t enjoy spicy food much, but for me it’s not so much that I don’t like it, it’s more that I just enjoy so many other kinds of cuisine just a little bit more so I rarely choose Mexican.
While we were there, we had a pretty open schedule and I think we did ourselves a favor by not setting any strict plans for each day and just going with the flow. However, there was one thing we really wanted to do and that was visit a place called Ruriberto’s Taco Shop because it’s literally my dad’s favorite food on the planet and we knew it was a must. It’s this little unassuming, hole-in-the-wall type of place, but oh my gosh!
It’s also the source of a funny story in my family. You see, my dad grew up nearer to the East Coast and my mom was a Cali-girl so when they met my dad wasn’t very familiar with the flavors of authentic Mexican food. Haha, don’t tell them I said this but this was back in the dark ages before chains like Chipotle had swept the country and the internet was bombarded by avocado toasts. I’m pretty sure my dad had never even had avocados. Anyway, he once told us this story of the first time my mom introduced him to this taco place and as he was describing it my mom walks into the room and barely catches Dad so fondly saying the words “….and that’s when I met………….” Unfortunately for my dad, he finished the sentence not with “you’re mom” but with “….cilantro!!!!”, and my mom has never let him live it down. Haha, so whenever someone says cilantro we all laugh.
Like I said, we don’t even consider ourselves big fans of Mexican food but this was amazing. Yes, if you’re ever in San Diego you have to go there. It’s pretty casual dining so they served the food with plastic forks and, not even joking, the chicken was so tender you could cut it with the flimsy plastic forks. I have to find out how they make it. So about now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with this recipe. Well, I guess what I’m getting at is that my dad might have forever converted me into a Mexican foodie by recommending that place. That’s why I thought I’d share something Mexican today and this soup seemed perfect.
It’s really fast and easy to make and it’s perfect for weeknights when you want something quick and easy. I actually made it in the crock-pot once and it turned out amazing. Most of the time I’ll lighten it just a little by using coconut yogurt instead of full-fat coconut milk. Also, feel free to spice it up if your family likes it hot. Top it with some “sour cream”, fresh chives, and maybe a little guac if you like, and then serve it with tortilla chips for dipping. Also, don’t forget the cilantro!
Cheesy Quinoa Fiesta Taco Chicken Soup (Vegan+GF)Bring all the flavors of Southwestern and Mexican food that you love and throw them together and that's what you'll have is this creamy, cheesy taco soup that's the perfect easy dinner.Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 35 minutesTotal Time 50 minutesServings 6 - 8 servings
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 8 mini sweet bell peppers or 3 regular [and they can be any color], seeded and diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 medium tomatoes diced
- 1 lime medium juice and zest
- 1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 ounce can sweet corn, drained
- 1 8 ounce can diced green chiles
- 1 package taco seasoning
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup non-dairy plain yogurt such as coconut or cashew
- 2 teaspoons sriracha or you're favorite hot sauce, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra non-dairy plain yogurt or non-dairy "sour cream"
- tortilla chips
In a large non-stick skillet, add about 1/4 inch of water and the peppers, garlic, and onion. Cook for 3 - 4 for minutes until starting to brown, then add the quinoa and stir over heat to toast for about 2 minutes.
Now add in the broth, tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, lime, taco seasoning, corn, and beans.
Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender.
Now stir in the "yogurt", hot sauce, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste, then stir well. Adjust spice level if you want it spicier, then simmer until heated through. Turn off heat and serve soup hot with desired toppings.
You guys, this salad!
Omg, in case the name didn’t give it away, this salad is inspired by both my trip to California (which as I write this I’m about to pack but if your reading it I’m probably chilling in San Diego by now) and all things Springtime as well. It’s basically a little celebration in a bowl about the approach of warm weather and longer daylight hours. I can’t wait to share my trip with you later this week. I can guarantee I’ll have way too many pictures.
I’ve heard a lot of you guys saying that it’s been really cold where you live in different places across the US and even Europe, so obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but up here in the Northwest the groundhog must not have seen his shadow because the weather has been really unusually warm. After a few months of pretty cold weather and snow, I’m pretty okay with this. As you can see I’m totally gearing up for Spring.
So I have this really big problem when I start to plan out a salad, there are no rules. Now I can see how this would be a problem in an opposite way for many people because they don’t even know where to start. For me though, I can hardly find where to stop because when I start on all the colorful veggies and toppings I just get too inspired and want to add literally EVERYTHING!
It’s alright, I just make it a rule for myself to not put more than with fit into a large bowl. good news for you because that means if there’s an ingredient you don’t have or don’t like it can be easily left out and you’ll still have plenty of flavors going on.
The key player on this salad is definitely the dressing. I know it’s not completely an original idea to use nut butter as the creamy factor in a sauce (hello Thai Peanut sauce) or dressing but almond butter was a first for me, and wow, YUM! The cliantro with the citrus adds a ton of deliciousness too, so the final dressing is one you’ll be going back to over and over.
The rest of the ingredients were partly just what I had in my fridge that I wanted to add. Because if that I honestly had the hardest time choosing a name for it. I think that, other than the dressing of course, the best part might have to be the roasted asparagus and chickpeas. Oh, and if you’re ever think that somehow my kitchen is perfect, well just know that I have real life moments too. For example, I’d planned to have a beautiful sliced avocado for the photos, but you know, sometimes avos decide to ripen faster than you use them. Hence the choice to go with guacamole.
I also love these type of easy and fast salads because they can be made into a meal by adding some extra protein and even cheese if you like, or served as a side as is. The recipe as it is is vegan and gluten free, so that’s a plus.
Springtime Vibes Salad+Cilantro Almond Butter Dressing (Vegan+GF)A fresh and fruity filled salad topped with a dressing that's super creamy without any dairy. This is a great one for Spring and Summer!Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 45 minutesTotal Time 1 hourServings 4 - 6 servings
Roasted Chickpeas & Asparagus:
- 1 bunch asparagus woody stems cut off and chopped
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup strawberries stemmed and sliced
- 2 nectarines sliced
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup miniature sweet peppers or bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup guacamole optional
Cilantro Almond Butter Dressing:
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup raw almond butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons sriracha optional
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Roasted Chickpeas & Asparagus:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200C) and toss the asparagus and chickpeas with olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until the chickpeas are golden brown and the asparagus tender.
Toss together the spinach, cilantro, onion, peppers, strawberries, and nectarines in a large salad bowl. Top with guacamole, slivered almonds, dressing, and roasted chickpeas and asparagus.
Cilantro Almond Butter Dressing:
Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Store in an airtight container until ready to store.