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Weekend in Seattle

I was lucky enough to get to visit Seattle recently. While this is always a fun city to visit, it was even better because I saw my cousin, met his girlfriend, as well as spending the weekend with my sister and her husband! We had a great time together.

view of seattle

Emily and I started off by wandering in Pikes Place Market where we spotted this hilarious sign. funny sign 

After exploring some art, book, and trinket stores, we of course gravitated to the flower and food section of the market. 

tulips 

The flowers there are always amazing, and it was definitely tulip season! Next we found a pasta stand with amazing shapes and flavors (chocolate pasta, anyone?). pasta

 pasta in bins

And of course there were Brussels sprouts, aka “little green balls of death!” brussels sprouts

I love how all the tomatoes and carrots look together. So pretty! tomatoes  

carrots

That night, we met up with Tim for a yummy Ethiopian dinner at  Queen Sheba. We had lots of fun catching up over dinner and the frozen custard that followed.

Saturday morning started off with brunch at Julia’s, where we got to meet Rachel. It was really fun chatting with her and getting to know her a little bit! After brunch we wandered to the Seattle Public Library, which is an amazing building. seattle public library

 seattle public library
Next, we took a ferry over to Bainbridge Island. On the ferry we got this great picture of the cousins! 

There were tons of great views from the ferry, and we even managed to avoid most of the rain once we were on the island. seattle waterfront

We had dinner that night at a fun Mexican restaurant, following it up with ice cream. The ice cream was delicious but I was especially impressed by the massive T-Rex painting on the wall. Of course, T-Rex is my favorite dinosaur! (You know you have a favorite dinosaur!) 

 My visit wrapped up Sunday morning with a visit to an amazing overlook in Queen Anne, and breakfast and coffee at a little coffee shop. 

 

It was so much fun to see Tim, Rachel, Emily, and Rob, and I think we all had a great time together!

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Vegan French Toast

This is one of my favorite and most surprising vegan versions of a recipe. Jon was finally back after traveling way too long for work, so he asked for a breakfast treat. French toast seemed like a good option!

 Vegan French Toast
The batter for the toast is very easy to make. All you need is some almond milk, a little sugar, and your preferred flavorings.

 Cooking the toast
I like to include some type of fruit topping. This time I used blueberries warmed with a little sugar and vanilla extract, but you could use fresh fruit, jams, or even just powdered sugar.

 Blueberry Topping

 

Paired with some of Jon’s homemade espresso, this breakfast was a great way to celebrate his return home.

 Vegan French Toast Topped with Blueberries

Vegan French Toast with Blueberry Topping

Serves 2

4 pieces sourdough bread
1 cup almond milk
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup blueberries (frozen is ok)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 Tbsp vegan butter
In a flat dish, stir together the almond milk, 1.5 Tbsp of sugar, 3/4 tsp vanilla extract, and the almond extract.
Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, adding the vegan butter once it is heated.
Quickly dip each piece of bread in the almond milk mixture, flipping to ensure both sides are coated.
Cook until golden brown on both sides. Don’t try to flip the bread early because you’ll end up tearing it.
While the bread is cooking, make the blueberry sauce. Combine the blueberries, remaining sugar and vanilla in a small pot and cover over low heat until the berries have released their juices. Remove from heat and add the lemon zest.
Top the French toast with the blueberry sauce, and serve with maple syrup.

   

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Spicy Peanut Pasta

When my mom asked me for the recipe for this spicy peanut pasta dish, I realized that I never really posted the recipe. Considering that this is one of my favorite dishes, I thought that needed to be remedied!

One of my favorite things about it is how the spicy peanut sauce gets collected in the broccoli, so I tend to include what might seem like an excessive amount of broccoli.

broccoli

This is also the first dish where I learned how yummy broccoli stems could be…as long as you peel off the tough outer stem! Plus you can feel very virtuous for not throwing out the broccoli stems.☺️

broccoli stems, onions, and carrots

Sautéing the carrots, diced onion, and broccoli stems in peanut oil helps infuse an extra layer of peanut flavor.

sauteing veggies in peanut oilUsing an immersion blender to mix together the sauce makes it a lot easier. This sauce has evolved over the years I’ve been making this dish to include ginger, garlic, and of course red pepper flakes. It is also a really good dipping sauce to serve with spring rolls.

blending the spicy peanut sauce The red peppers and broccoli florets don’t need very long to cook. You really want them to remain somewhat crisp in the final dish.

steaming broccoli Sometimes the hardest part is mixing the sauce, veggies, and pasta together!

mixing pasta, sauce, and veggies

Once everything is combined, it is ready to serve. You can include red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce on the side for anyone who wants it spicier (usually me)!

spicy peanut pasta served with chopsticksSpicy Peanut Pasta

1 onion, diced
4-6 heads of broccoli (I recommend more because the broccoli is amazing with the peanut sauce)
1 red pepper, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 can (4-6 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 can (4-6 ounces) bamboo shoots, drained (optional)
5 green onions, chopped with white and green parts separated
1/4 cup shelled peanuts
12 ounces whole wheat fusilli, cooked
1 cup pasta cooking water reserved
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced (about 1.5 Tbsp)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 cup freshly ground peanut butter
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Sriracha sauce, to taste (optional)
First, prepare the broccoli by removing the crowns and separating into bite-size florets. The florets should have as little stem as possible. Remove the bottom of the stems as well as the tough outer peel, then dice the stems.
In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the white parts of the green onions and saute until softened and slightly browned.
Next, add the broccoli stems, water chestnuts, and bamboo stems, if using. Cook for a few minutes until the broccoli stems start to softened. Add the carrots, followed a few minutes later by the red peppers and cook until the carrots soften slightly. You want the carrots and peppers to be cooked through but still slightly crisp in the final dish.
Add the broccoli florets and 1 Tbsp soy sauce. Stir to combine with the other veggies, then cover to allow the broccoli florets to steam.
Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce together. I find it easiest to mix with a hand blender, but you can mix manually as well. Add a small amount of the pasta cooking water to lighten the consistency, if needed. You want the sauce to be thick, but not clumpy. Taste and adjust soy sauce or lime juice to add saltiness or sharpness. If you want the sauce to be spicier you can add either more red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce.
After the broccoli is cooked but still bright green, add the sauce and stir to combine with the veggies. You may need to add pasta water if it is still too thick to mix well. Finally add the cooked pasta, stirring to combine. Reduce heat, then cover and allow the pasta and sauce to heat through.
In a small dry saute pan, toast the peanuts over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Serve the pasta topped with the toasted peanuts and the green parts of the green onions.
Serves 6, and reheats extremely well for lunch the next day.
Butternut squash ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Jon and I have been saving our yummy wine from Italy, and decided to splurge and open a bottle for dinner on Valentine’s Day.🙂Montecucco 2009 Wine from ItalyTo go along with the wine, Jon requested homemade ravioli. I decided to make butternut squash ravioli since this dish is one of the few ways I can convince Jon that he wants to eat butternut squash. I started off by sauteing some diced shallots and onion, adding salt, pepper, and fresh sage.

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After the shallots and onion were soft and flavorful, I added frozen butternut squash. The frozen butternut squash works just as well as baking your own, especially since you don’t have to attempt to cut up the squash! Once the squash is cooked, just mash it up with a spoon, and your filling is ready to go.

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Whenever I make ravioli, I am almost always “lazy” and use wonton wrappers (or eggroll wrappers) for the dough.

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After placing the filling, I sealed the ravioli together with water and then trimmed the edges to make them look extra pretty.

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Assembled Ravioli

My herd of assembled ravioli!

I usually let the ravioli dry a little bit before cooking them to go into the pasta sauce.

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The ravioli only need to cook for a few minutes, and then they are ready for the sauce.

While the ravioli dried, I started the sauce by sautéing onion and sage in some olive oil. I had a little bit of filling left over, so that went in the pot as well.



Once the onions were soft and flavorful, I made a roux by cooking a little flour, and then adding some veggie stock, almond milk, and white wine to the pan.

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Once the sauce is thickened, the ravioli gets mixed in (gently!) and it is ready to serve. Some freshly grated pepper or nutmeg is a perfect topping.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

4 shallots, minced

1 small onion, minced
1 onion, finely diced
20 fresh sage leaves, in a chiffonade
16 ounces butternut squash, diced (frozen works well)
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
24 ounces vegetable broth
6 ounces white wine
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 package wonton wrappers
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp flour
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil/butter is heated, add the shallots the minced onion and a small amount of sea salt. Sauté the onion until it is very soft and slightly caramelized. 
Add half the sage, along with the allspice, nutmeg, and some freshly ground pepper. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, then add the butternut squash. Add a small amount of veggie broth then cover. Cook until the squash is very soft and then mash the squash with the onion/spice mixture. Taste the squash mixture, and adjust seasoning if needed. 
Remove the squash mixture to a bowl. In the same pan, start the sauce by heating the remaining vegan butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté with a little salt until it is caramelized. Add the flour and sage, and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a low simmer to thicken the sauce. 
Meanwhile, start forming the ravioli. Place a wonton wrapper on a cutting board or plate, and add about 2 tsp of the squash filling into the center of the wrapper. You may need to use more or less filling depending on the size of your wrappers. Brush water on the edge of the wonton wrapper, then fold in half and pinch to seal the edge together. You can also use a ravioli cutter to help seal the edges and make the ravioli extra pretty.
Continue forming ravioli until you have used either all of the wonton wrappers or all of the filling. If you run out of wrappers before filling, you can add the extra filling to your sauce. 
By now your sauce should be thickened slightly. Add the white wine and vinegar, then cook for another minute. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 
Cook the ravioli in well-salted boiling water in batches of 10-12. They will only take 2-3 minutes to cook, and will float to the top of the water when they are done. Gently remove the ravioli from the water and add to the pan with the sauce, stirring gently as you add each batch to keep the ravioli from sticking to each other. Serve in shallow bowls topped with freshly grated pepper and a little vegan “Parmesan” cheese (of course, you can use the real stuff if you prefer!). 
Makes 4 generous servings.
Semolina Dumplings with Stuffed Mushrooms

Semolina Dumplings with Stuffed Mushrooms and Arugula Salad

Continuing my love of pasta, I’ve discovered a way to make a pasta-type dish but without all the kneading, rolling, and cutting of dough. These semolina dumplings take a little while, but involve nothing more than sprinkling water over semolina flour. Plus, they are sturdy enough to stand up to a spicy tomato vodka sauce!

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I started off by placing the semolina flour in a shallow dish. Then, I just drizzle water over the flour, shake the pan, and scoop out the dumplings.

Semolina Flour

After drying slightly, the dumplings need to boil for just a few minutes, and then are ready to add to the sauce.

Semolina Dumplings

This sauce is spicy and almost a little bitter from the vodka, but it is a great combination with the chewy semolina dumplings!

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Semolina Dumplings with Tomato Vodka Sauce

3 cups semolina flour
1-2 cups of water
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces), preferably San Marzano
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup vodka
1/4 cup almond milk or vegan cream
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Start the sauce by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a wide sauce pan, then adding the onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned. Add the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute then add the vodka. Cook for about 3 minutes. Next add the crushed tomatoes, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes, or as long as it takes you to prepare the dumplings. Just before adding the first batch of dumplings, add the cream and adjust salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if you’d like a spicier sauce.
  2. Put the semolina flour into a shallow dish or plate, and have the water in a glass or measuring cup.
  3. Make small wells in the semolina flour, and then dribble a small amount of water (maybe 1-2 tsp) into each well. Allow the water to sit for about 5 seconds, or until absorbed by the semolina flour.
  4. Shake the dish lightly, then scoop out the dumplings and place on a sheet pan to dry. Repeat until the semolina flour is gone.
  5. Cook the semolina dumplings in batches by gently adding them to well-salted boiling water. Stir once to make sure they aren’t sticking, and then scoop out with a pasta spoon or strainer, placing immediately into the sauce and stirring to coat the dumplings.
  6. Continue until all the dumplings are cooked, and serve with a fresh green salad.

I always feel like I should have a little extra veggies with the dumplings, so I like the combination of a nice arugula salad and stuffed mushrooms.

First, I remove the stems from the mushrooms, and place the caps in an oiled baking dish.

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The stems get minced up, and sauteed along with some minced garlic.

Mushrooms sauteing

I love fresh parsley, so I usually chop that up to add to the mushroom mixture. You could also use fresh basil, or of course dried parsley or basil.

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Next, I added some white wine, followed by some bread crumbs.

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After the breadcrumbs absorb all the liquid, the filling goes into the mushroom caps.

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The mushrooms are baked until they are browned and the stuffing is crunchy. These are perfect as an appetizer, or even an entire meal.🙂

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For the arugula salad, I love mixing lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper, then tossing the simple dressing with fresh arugula (or spinach).

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Stuffed Mushrooms

8 ounces whole button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 cup bread crumbs, plus extra if needed
2 Tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (or real, if desired)
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Brush a baking dish with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, then place the mushroom caps into the dish, stem side up. Mince the remaining mushroom stems.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, being sure not to brown it too much. Add the minced mushroom stems and 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is softened and fragrant. Add the parsley and cook for another minute.
  4. Next add the white wine. Bring to a light simmer, then remove from the heat.
  5. Mix in the Parmesan, if using, and about half of the bread crumbs, stirring to combine. Continue adding bread crumbs until you have a moist mixture that holds together if pressed into a ball. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed.
  6. Use a small spoon to place a scoop of the mixture into each mushroom cap, pressing as needed to hold the mixture together and in place.
  7. Cook the mushrooms for about 15 minutes, then check for browning. You want the mushroom caps to be browned and the stuffing to be crusty on top.
  8. Serve as an appetizer or with an entree as a side dish.

Simple Arugula Salad

One small container of fresh arugula
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Coarse sea salt
Optional, 1/4 cup shredded vegan or real Parmesan cheese

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice and olive oil over the arugula. Next, add lots of freshly ground pepper and about 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (use less if you have a finely grained sea salt). Add the cheese if using. Toss to combine, and taste to adjust salt and pepper if needed.

This simple salad pairs perfectly with any pasta dish or vegetarian pizza. Serves 4.

Pasta with Broccoli and "Chicken"

Pasta with Broccoli and “Chicken”

This dish is an adaptation of one I remember my mom making when I was growing up that I referred to as “white chicken”. Of course I don’t eat chicken anymore, but I thought Jon’s family would enjoy it so made it for them over the holidays.

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I started off by chopping up onions and shallots, along with the stems of the broccoli.

Next, I sliced up some mushrooms, then sautéed until golden brown in about 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Once they were cooked through, I set aside the mushrooms and their juices in a dish.

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Next, I heated up the remaining olive oil and added the onion, shallot, and broccoli stems.

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These all got sauteed until they were softened and starting to brown.

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Finally, I added the broccoli and “chicken” chunks, along with some almond milk and white wine to help make the sauce. The dish got covered so the broccoli could steam and the “chicken” could cook.

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To serve, I combined with wagon wheel pasta. I’m such a kid when it comes to pasta shapes–I love wagon wheels, stars, and any other shape that is fun to look at and eat.🙂 Optionally, you can top the pasta with shreds of parmesan cheese.

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Pasta with Broccoli & Chicken”

1 onion, finely diced
3 large shallots, finely diced
3 heads broccoli
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1.5 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine (or white cooking wine)
1 cup almond milk
6 ounces vegan “chicken” pieces
12 ounces pasta, cooked (use a fun shape with texture such as wagon wheels, shells, or penne to help catch the sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Remove the stems from the broccoli heads. Remove the tough outer stem, and chop into small pieces. Chop the broccoli florets into small bite size pieces.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. Saute the onions and the broccoli stems with about 1/2 tsp salt until both are softened and slightly browned.
  3. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes to remove the raw flour flavor. Next, add the white wine and almond milk. Bring to a light simmer and cook the sauce until it is slightly thickened. Add the “chicken” and simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli florets to the sauce, stir to combine, and then cover. Reduce the heat to medium low. After about 7 minutes, check the broccoli florets for doneness. Ideally, the broccoli is cooked through but still slightly crisp and bright green.
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper, then stir in the pasta to coat well with the sauce. Serve topped with freshly ground pepper, and cheese if desired.
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Less-Spicy Pad Thai

Jon and I were lucky enough to have both of our parents together over the holidays, and this was one of the dishes they requested I make. Normally, my Pad Thai involves lots of chiles and spice, but I toned it down so it would be less spicy for our families and everyone could enjoy it.
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First, I sliced up green onions, peppers, and carrots. I love all the colors together!

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I started off by stir-frying the green onions along with some water chestnuts in toasted sesame oil until the water chestnuts started to brown.

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Next, I added the carrots and peppers to the pan.

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While the veggies were cooking, I cooked the rice noodles and rinsed them in cold water.

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After the veggies were done, I poured in the sauce of lime juice, soy sauce, and other seasonings along with the noodles.

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I like topping the noodles with more green onions as well as some toasted (and maybe slightly burned!) peanuts.

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There were plenty of red pepper flakes so that everyone could add as much of as little heat as they wanted. It was great to enjoy a meal with everyone!

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Less-Spicy Pad Thai
1/2 package rice noodles
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cans water chestnuts, sliced and drained
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
4 medium carrots, julienned
1 lime, sliced
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup lime juice, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted
Red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce, to taste

Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. After they are done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water, then set aside.

In a wok or wide skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat. Add the white and light green parts of the onions along with the water chestnuts. Stir fry for several minutes, then add the carrots.

Cook for several more minutes, until the carrots are cooked through and beginning to brown slightly.

Add the pepper slices, and cook for several more minutes. All of the vegetables should be beginning to brown on several sides.

While the veggies are cooking, mix the brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce in a separate bowl. Taste the sauce, and add lime juice if you want a sharper sauce.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Add a few slices of lime to the pan and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, until you can smell the lime. I will often add a handful of the peanuts to the pan at this point, leaving the rest for serving.

Add the sauce to the veggie mixture. Once the sauce and veggies are combined, add the rice noodles and toss to combine. Cook the noodles long enough to heat through, then serve the Pad Thai topped with green onions, toasted peanuts, and pepper flakes to taste, with a slice of lime on the side.