• Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Sesame Pomegranate Cauliflower & Veggie Fried Rice

    Hey again,

    Can I just take a brief second to talk about pomegranates? I feel like they are pretty seriously under-appreciated where fruits are concerned. Most people don’t even know how to eat them. Actually, you know what? I feel like I could say this about so many other fruits too.

    When did the general population become so unimaginative with the produce section? There’s more to life than apples and bananas people. I genuinely love just eating the arils as they are, but even if that’s not your thing I still think the juice is as good, if not better, than any citrus or berry juice.

    So the sauce for this cauliflower, it’s really not that different than your typical Chinese Orange or General tso’s sauce when you think about it. I feel like this is what would happen if General Tso had a pomegranate farmer for a neighbor and started getting Winter cabin fever. The tartness of the pomegranates give this sauce a sort of berry flavor so it’s perfect for summer, but because pomegranates are a Autumn/Winter thing this is also great for weeknights during the cold seasons. See, it’s a win win situation for everybody!

    The sauce is made with both fresh pomegranate juice and a product that you should be able to find in your local grocery store wherever they have the exotic ingredients; pomegranate molasses. It’s a Middle Eastern thing and I’m totally hooked on it now! If you can’t find it there I’d check the closest natural food market for it or you can order it online.

    On the pom juice, I juiced fresh pomegranates in my blender and strained the juice, but since that is a little time consuming you could just buy pomegrante juice to keep things simple. Oh, and you can’t forget about the sides either. I served this with a really simple fried rice with lots of veggies to try to balance the fact that (let’s be honest) the entree is pretty much a doughnut version of your veggies. You could also throw some steamed broccoli or other veggies on your plates for some color if you want.

    Now a little note to the cook; I personally love to make this version the baked way. I find it faster, easier, and (obviously) healthier. However, if you’re wanting to make this to impress the guests, frying is always a fun option for special occasion. The pictured version is fried. Other than that I can only say that you need to give this cousin version to your favorite Chinese food item a shot!

    Sesame Pomegranate Cauliflower & Veggie Fried Rice (vegan)

    Instead of having to go out to get takeout, try this homemade version of your favorite Chinese food classic. 

    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
    Servings 6 servings

    Ingredients

    Cauliflower Coating:

    • 1 head fresh cauliflower cut into florets
    • 1 1/4 cups unflavored almond milk
    • 1 1/4 cups cornstarch
    • 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs *see note
    • salt & pepper to taste

    Sesame Pomegranate Sauce:

    • 1/4 cup cold water
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds plus more for topping
    • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari if gluten free
    • 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
    • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
    • 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste or more to heat preference
    • about 2 quarts peanut or sunflower oil for frying optional
    • pomegranate arils for serving optional

    Veggie Fried Rice:

    • 4 cups cooked brown rice or white
    • 3 cups stir-fry vegetables of choice
    • 4 heads garlic minced
    • 2 tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil divided
    • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    • sea salt to taste

    Instructions

    Sauce:

    1. Whisk cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and set aside. Saute garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds with sesame oil in a saucepan or wok over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until browned. Add remaining ingredients from broth to chili garlic paste and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Continue boiling until the sauce is just starting to thicken a little, about 10 minutes. Pour in water/cornstarch while stirring and stir until thick. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

    Cauliflower: Fried Version

    1. Combine cornstarch, almond milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cauliflower and stir to coat. Place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours or just while you make the sauce.

    2. Heat a deep fryer filled with recommended amount of oil (alternatively you can use at least 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven or wok instead) to 350 degrees F (180 C). Remove chicken slurry from fridge and drop a few pieces at a time into hot oil. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Continue until all caluiflower is cooked.

    Cauliflower: Baked Version

    1. Heat the oven to 350 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the flour, almond milk, salt and pepper. Pour the panko bread crumbs into a shallow bowl or pie dish.

    2. Dip the florets into the batter, so they're completely coated. Then roll them in the panko bread crumbs. Lay the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet. Don't put them on top of each other. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

    Finish Cauliflower:

    1. Toss cauliflower in warm sauce and serve immediately topped with pomegranate arils and extra sesame seeds along with the rice.

    Veggie Fried Rice:

    1. Add 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and vegetables to large skillet or wok and cook until veggies are starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add broth and continue stirring until most of the liquid is evaporated. Now add soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice and toss to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to darken and gets hot. Remove from heat and serve with cauliflower

    Recipe Notes

    If frying the cauliflower simply skip the panko. If you'd like to make this recipe gluten free you can simply replace the panko bread crumbs with a gluten free brand. 

    The pictured recipe is the fried version but personally I prefer the baked. 😉

  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Tahini Cashew Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

    Please tell me you’re as nuts about nuts as I am because otherwise I just can’t see out relationship working out.

    Speaking of nuts, I feel like I’ve been going a tiny bit crazy and I’m trying to remember how I survived the last few winters without turning into an icicle. It’s only just starting to get cold and I feel as if my mind has totally dumped all instincts for self-preservation to stay warm and I can’t remember how to weather the cold.

    It’s pretty ridiculous too, because where I live now in Patagonia is so mild compared to where I lived in the mountains of northern Idaho for a few years prior to moving down here. I mean, we used to get buried in double digit feet of snow and now we don’t even get snow. Clearly I need to suck it up and figure out that I should just wear more clothes. I’ve already broken down and pulled out my warmest house-wear.

    At some point I know that I’ve mentioned to you guys how I’ve become a pretty un-materialistic person over the past few years. Like, say there was a fire and I had to grab the most important things to me, I wouldn’t have to spend much time considering what to take because I don’t let myself get overly attached to just stuff anymore. Okay, but if there is one silly thing that I have a weakness for, something that I would be a little regretful of losing if my home was engulfed in an inferno of flames, it would be my fuzzies.

    Have I told you guys about my HUGE little tiny addiction to fluffy pajamas (and all wearable things that are fluffy for that matter)? Well, it’s pretty bad. Yeah, I’m kind of thinking the world needs to declare a national holiday for staying at home and spending all day in plushy jammies and bunny slippers (I actually don’t have any bunny slippers but I seriously need them.) I do however, have quite a lovely collection of fluffy socks that I love and adore wearing all through the cold seasons and I’m currently wearing as I type this post.

    Maybe that’s a huge part of what started drawing me into the kitchen for so many hours at a time, it’s always the warmest room in the house. In fact, I’m always really sad on days when I don’t have something that needs baking or boiling any time from autumn to spring because it helps warm the room so much. See, so baking is not only a passion for me, it’s also a great way to not freeze to death. Not to mention that everyone seems to be a lot hungrier during the winter. I’ve even heard that restaurants purposefully keep the temp down because it’s been proven to cause people to eat more food. Dude, it takes a lot of energy to stay warm so that totally makes sense.

    Sorry, I know that it’s totally the wrong time of year to be talking about cold season for most of you because so many of you live in the opposite hemisphere, but Springtime can also have plenty of cold spurts. Plus, I’m not saying that these can only be enjoyed during when your cold. I guarantee that they’ll be just as delish on a hot summer day, and also a great way to fuel up for warm weather activities. Don’t you love recipes that aren’t limited to any season, I do!

    Yep, these cookies are so good! It’s seems like tahini has been becoming more and more popular over the past few years and I totally see why, it’s so YUM! I was thrilled a few days ago when my mom came home with armfuls of random new and exotic ingredients because our local grocery was basically clearancing all of their imported section. Tahini was only one of the items she brought but I think it was the one I got most excited to see because I’ve had a hard time finding it in my area.

    These were cookies were inspired by nutter butters of course, but instead of crunchy cookies I wanted soft cookies with the added crunch of nuts inside, and that’s where cashews come into the picture. So these are super yummy cookies but unlike the original they don’t actually have peanuts at all, which should be good news for those of you with allergies. The dunk into the chocolate is completely optional but you know I just couldn’t resist and, let me tell ya, neither should you!

    Tahini Cashew Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

    Ready for something a little bit extravagant? These sandwich cookies are reminiscent of nutter butters but so much softer and thicker! 

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 55 minutes
    Servings 30 cookie sandwiches (about)

    Ingredients

    Cookies:

    • 1/2 cup raw tahini
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew butter
    • 1/4 cup coconut cream
    • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2/3 cup roasted cashews chopped
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour

    Frosting:

    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons almond milk
    • 3 cups powdered sugar

    Chocolate: (optional)

    • 1/2 cup dairy free semi-sweet chocolate bar or chips
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

    Instructions

    Cookies:

    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Beat the tahini, cashew butter, coconut cream, and sugars together in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with beater attachment. Mix in salt, baking powder, vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix just until the dough comes together and is evenly mixed. Fold in the cashews until combined.
    2. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Use a fork to press down and make criss cross marks on them. Bake for 10 -12 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and leave on pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

    Frosting:

    1. Stir together the cashew butter, vanilla extract, and almond milk in a medium mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and mix it until combined. (Add more powdered sugar or almond milk if needed) Spread about a tablespoon of frosting in between sets of cookies to make sandwiches.

    Chocolate Coating: (Optional)

    1. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil over low heat in a double boiler. Dip then as desired and place on a parchment lined tray to dry.
  • Dairy Free,  Dessert,  Recipe,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Black Sesame Cupcakes (Vegan)[Try the Gray Stuff It’s Delicious]

    ……don’t believe me, ask the dishes! They can sing, they can….okay somebody stop me before I sing the whole song.

    I don’t expect a lot of you guys to know this, but black sesame is sort of a fad right now. I’ve tried to keep my curiosity at bay for a while, but I finally had to try it and see what all of the hype was about because I just didn’t get it.

    I get it now, black sesame is the bomb you guys! I mean, you’d think it’s going to taste weird or gross, but then it doesn’t. It gives this depth of nutty-ishness (my new word of the day) that is so intriguing at first and then it just gets better and leaves you craving more. I may have started something dangerous by discovering it for myself.

    The only drawback to using black sesame that I can think of at the moment is that it took me forever to grind the seeds, but that’s because my poor food processor is very well used and the blade’s getting dull. It took forever too, and you have to keep scraping it off the sides every five seconds. But trust me, it’s worth it. I’ve seen many recipes that call for blending it into a completely smooth paste but the closest I got personally was a grainy puree akin to wet sand. Hey, it worked and I actually kind of liked the graininess in the frosting.

    What didn’t work though, was my genius plan to do a makeshift mini cupcake pan. I have a bunch of these awesome silicone molds and pans that are perfectly oven safe and I love them. I use them all the time, like everyday, and there was this star shaped one that I’ve had for a while but never used in the oven. Well, apparently it isn’t silicone……or rather, it wasn’t silicone. Nope, I’m pretty sure it was rubber. Regardless of what material, I totally melted it in the oven into what is now an unrecognizable blob. Ooops. The funny thing is that I wasn’t actually baking anything in it, I was just using it to prop up something else. I’d try to explain but it wouldn’t make sense unless you had seen it. Moral of this story, I clearly need to find myself an actual mini cupcake pan.

    Anyway, yeah black sesame cupcakes. You have to try them because they’re amazing. I was trying to describe them to my little brothers and the first thing that popped in my head to tell them was that they are the cupcakes that anime characters would eat, assuming anime characters like cupcakes. I guess my head is in Japan this week or something. First the sushi on Tuesday, and now these lovelies. I think I’m just gonna go with it.

    Black Sesame Cupcakes (Vegan)[Try the Gray Stuff It's Delicious]

    These cupcakes are inspired by the classic tale as old as time and will be sure to surprise everyone by their unique flavors.

    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Servings 12 - 14 cupcakes

    Ingredients

    Black Sesame Paste:

    • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
    • 1 - 2 tablespoons water

    Cake:

    • 1/2 cup 1 stick vegan "butter"
    • 1 cup organic cane sugar
    • 1/2 cup coconut cream *see note
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • 1/4 cup black sesame paste

    Frosting:

    • 1/2 cup 1 stick vegan "butter"
    • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • remaining black sesame paste about 3 tablespoons

    Instructions

    Black Sesame Paste:

    1. Place the sesame seeds in a blender or food processor and blend for about 1 minute then scrape down the sides. Repeat last step, adding as much water as necessary to achieve a smooth-ish paste. (Mine was like wet sand when I got fed up and called it good.)

    Cupcakes:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and beat sugar and "butter" together in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in coconut cream and milk until combined, then add baking powder, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of your sesame paste. Mix in flour until batter is smooth.
    2. Divide batter into greased or paper lined cupcake pans and fill each cup all of the way full. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes (if using a mini pan cut the bake time in half) until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool completely before frosting.

    Frosting:

    1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream butter with 1 cup powdered sugar. Add sesame paste, vanilla, milk, and salt and mix until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar a little at a time until incorporated. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute until light and fluffy.

    Recipe Notes

    If you have trouble finding coconut cream at your local grocery store it's completely fine to use full-fat coconut milk and scrape the cream off of the top. Just be sure that it's cold enough to separate.