Monday, March 31, 2014

Split Mung Bean Barley Soup and End of Days

Do not be alarmed! End of days for me right now equates with graduating in 4 weeks with a Master's Degree. I did not think I could do it given my doubts and such...I will share these struggles with you another time.

While I am unable to look beyond graduation right now, considering current school work and all the stress that it entails, I feel the wave of uncertainty and change rushing towards me. 

Although it is easier to be swept over, I choose to ride this wave out, but I fear my lack of having a surfboard. I should TOTALLY get one DUDE! Gnarly...

Split Mung Bean Barley Soup
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small leeks, cleaned, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (any type will work)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon or more)
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup barley (any type will work)
1 cup peeled, split mung beans
7-8 cups vegetable broth, depending on soup consistency preference
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Need a soup hug? I certainly do! 
In a large soup pot, sauté the leeks, and carrots in olive oil, over a medium heat, for about 6-10 minutes. Add a splash of water, if necessary, to prevent from sticking. Stir often. Add garlic, and all the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Don't burn the garlic and add another splash of water, if necessary. I use the water trick all the time!

Add barley, mung beans and 7 cups of vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 35-45 minutes, until the beans are creamy and the barley is fork tender. If the soup gets too thick for your liking, add another cup of vegetable broth while cooking.

Taste for salt and pepper and season according to your taste. Garnish with parsley and serve with a 'hunk' of bread. I did not have a hunk, so I went hunk-less. No worries though, the soup was great without.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chickpea Pizza Crust For One. Eat The Entire Pie! I Did!!!

I love pizza! Although I appreciate the standard dough recipes for pizza crust, I like to try something new once in a while. I have used chickpea flour before to make flat breads, crepes, omelets, and french toast with good results, so why not try pizza crust?

I am not re-inventing the wheel; recipes for pizza crust made from chickpea flour have been around for a while. If you haven't tried cooking with chickpea flour yet, I highly recommend it. Aside from the dishes I mentioned above, you can also use chickpea flour as a thickener in sauces instead of using corn starch or all-purpose flour. Look for chickpea flour in local Indian grocery stores. Most likely the cost will be less in comparison to other markets.


Chickpea pizza crust. Easy and quick! 
Chickpea Pizza Crust (Makes One Serving)
*Double the recipe when cooking for two. 

1/2 cup chickpea/besan flour
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon olive oil
Dash of sea salt (about 1/4 teaspoon or less)
1 teaspoon dried basil or spices of choice (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F.

Make the dough batter. Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside for about 15 minutes, to allow dough to thicken. While the dough is resting, prepare pizza toppings of choice. I used sautéed mushrooms, and also added as toppings: kalamata olives, tempeh, tomato sauce, and vegan cheese from Trader Joe's. Be sure not overload the pizza. This dough may not survive and break when a mountain of toppings is placed on it.

Once the toppings are ready, set them aside. Now fry the pizza dough batter to make a pancake type crust. I used non-stick pan, coated with non-stick cooking spray. Pour dough batter into pre-heated medium size pan, over a medium heat and spread it 'evenly' with a spatula. Fry on each side for about 4-5 minutes.

Once the dough is ready, place it on aluminum foil. Add tomato sauce (about 1 teaspoon), if using, and toppings of choice. Place pizza in the oven for about 5-6 minutes until the crust is crunchy on the edges and the vegan cheese has melted.

Serve immediately. Eat it with a fork and a knife (Fancy Pants!) or cut it into slices. I also like to top my pizza with arugula.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Apple Sauce Millet Breakfast Cake - It Has Four Ingredients!

Do you know Millet? If not, I would like to introduce you to this powerful grain. My history with Millet goes back to childhood. I grew up eating Millet in soups mostly, as a kid, growing up in Poland.

Millet has been around for quite some time, and has not changed in terms of providing powerful dietary superheroes such as manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Millet is also gluten-free and although only a small percent of people is actually gluten intolerant (this is my way of saying: I am tired of gluten-free hype), it is a great option for all.

I can't take credit for this recipe - darn! - as my mom is the source, however, I have made a few improvements, and that must count for something. Right?

Apple Sauce Millet Breakfast Cake
Apple Sauce Millet Breakfast Cake 

1 (24-oz) jar unsweetened apple sauce (about 3 full cups)
2 cups millet, uncooked
1 cup dried apricots, chopped or raisins, whole (I used unsulfured dried apricots)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add 1/3 cup of maple syrup or even a mashed banana or both, to make this cake sweeter. I like mine less sweet, and did not use maple syrup or mashed banana. 
Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine apple sauce, and cinnamon. If using mashed banana and maple syrup, add it now. Add millet and dried apricots or raisins and mix.

Coat a baking pan of choice with non stick-cooking spray, place the cake batter and spread it evenly with a spatula. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, and appears dry.

Allow to cool off completely, before removing from the baking pan, and cutting. I used a round baking pan with removable sides, and did not have difficulties with removing this cake.

Store in a closed container, with paper towel on top to absorb the moisture. It will keep for 3-4 days.

Unsulfured apricots are darker, and therefore do not feature the artificial orange color we are accustomed to seeing. 
Things to consider:

  • Make this cake into breakfast bars and bake them in a square pan instead. Use any dried fruit and spices of choice. Add coconut flakes or nuts and seeds for additional variety. 
  • Do not use a glass baking pan for this recipe. The cake will not brown, and will steam instead.
  • Make it sweeter by adding mashed banana, maple or even agave syrups (about 1/3 cup) in addition to the ingredients stated. 
  • Remember that the more liquid you add, the more millet you will need. For example, if planning on adding 1/2 cup of maple syrup in addition to the stated ingredients, I would add about 1/3 cup additional millet, so that the cake will be solid, and not runny. 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

4-Ingredient Mushroom Potato Pancakes - Rock on!

I was talking to my mom the other day, and she told me a very fascinating story (I mean it!) about her new potato pancake creation. It went something like this:

Mom: While I was about to make kopytka tonight, your brother flew into the kitchen, and mentioned that he was not feeling it. While I was appalled, and half-way through preparing the kopyka, I had an idea of frying the dough, and adding other ingredients to it instead of boiling them plain (the usual way to do it). I added ......[ingredient has been left out due to vegan censorship by VKP], but you can add whatever you want. Mushrooms would be great.

VKP: Mom, that sounds fantastic! I can't wait to try it out and share your brilliance with some peeps.

Mom: Are you going to put it on your blog?

VKP: I will mom.

The conversation continued on, and I also got another cool recipe involving some cool stuff, but I have to try it our first before sharing. To be continued...


4-Ingredient Mushroom Potato Pancakes. Cheers! 
4-Ingredient Mushroom Potato Pancakes 

3 pounds of gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 large onion, finely diced
1 (10-oz package) cremini or white mushrooms, chopped
Up to 1 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

*Don't be alarmed, but there are more ingredients. These live in your kitchen already, so don't worry. So I mislead you? What are your thoughts about that? 

Additional Ingredients

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Great topped with vegan parmesan or mushroom gravy.  I also like dipping these in soy sauce. 
Place peeled and quartered potatoes in a medium/large pot, cover completely with water, add about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, leave uncovered slightly for the steam to escape, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. Drain well. Place in a large bowl, and mash well with a potato masher. Do not use a food processor for this or you will have a rubbery mess.

While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the onion and mushrooms in about 1 tablespoon of oil (or use non-stick cooking spray to save some calories), in a large non-stick cooking pan, over a medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the onion slightly caramelizes and the mushrooms no longer look raw.

Now, you have two choices: 1) wait a bit until the potatoes and onion/mushroom mixture have completely cooled off  or 2) add the onion/mushroom mixture to the potatoes right away. I chose the latter although it is best if you go with choice number one. Why? Your hand will thank you, AND...and you will not need to add as much flour. What will it be?

Moving on. Prior to adding the flour to the potato, onion, and mushroom mixture, be sure to mix the dough well with a spatula, and taste for additional seasoning. You may need to add more salt and pepper. Now, gradually add the flour starting with about 3/4 cup at first. Mix well and add additional flour, if necessary. The dough will be sticky, which is what you want, but not overly sticky. The more flour is added, the tougher the dough will be. This is not what we want.

Preheat a large non-stick cooking pan with 1-2 tablespoon oil. Shape the pancakes with your hands by tearing a piece of dough (about 3 tablespoons), and shape into a flat, but not too thin or too thick pancake. When placing in oil, flatten each with your fingers to make the appropriate shape. Wet your fingers with cold water to prevent the dough sticking to your hands.

Fry 4-5 pancakes at a time, for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Continue doing so until all the dough is gone, and be sure to add more oil with each new batch. This is not diet food, and you deserve to have it, at least once in a while ;) Do not use non-stick cooking spray to fry these as the result will be disappointing. Been there, done that!

Serve with a GIANT salad first of all, and sprinkle with vegan parmesan  cheese. I like them with mushroom gravy, but I was too lazy to make it tonight, so I went for the next best thing: soy sauce and vegan parmesan.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf or Veggie Cakes?

I was organizing my pantry and spice cabinet yesterday. I was alarmed by putting "quinoa in the corner" - Dirty Dancing reference, sort of - and taking too long to get to it. I have also observed a pattern related to my spice cabinet usage, which goes something like this: buy spices, put spices away, any spices living behind the first row go sadly unnoticed. I have lots of Indian spices that I haven't cooked with in a while, and that is how this recipe came to be. 

I realize you may not have all the spices listed, but that's ok. If you skip a few, the flavor should be just fine. Additionally, if you are not feeling the Indian theme, use your own blend of spices. For example, Italian spices would be great in this recipe. Just add oregano, basil, thyme, crushed red peppers or even paprika while sautéing the vegetables. The possibilities are endless. 

Leftovers are great cubed and pan-fried and served over vegetables. Easy and nutritious lunch. 

Speaking of endless, if you are too hungry to wait for the Quinoa Loaf to bake, use the batter to make veggie cakes instead.  You can also make both: use some of the batter to make vegetable cakes and the remaining part to make the loaf. 

If you decide to use the batter for vegetable cakes, shape them up as you see fit, make the cakes as thin or thick as you like. Fry each cake in oil on each side for about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Also, add more chickpea flour for a firmer consistency if that is what you fancy. I like mine more delicate. 

Have fun and cheers! 

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf

Indian Red Lentil and Quinoa Loaf

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 bay leaves
4 cups strong vegetable broth

Vegetable and Spice Base Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (vegetable oil may be substituted)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups shredded carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
3/4 to 1 cup chickpea/besan flour

*Note: Don't worry if you don't have all the spices listed above. You can omit a few, and still have great Indian flavor. 
Place quinoa, red lentils, vegetable broth, 2 bay leaves, and turmeric in a medium sized pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the vegetable broth has been absorbed, and the lentils and quinoa are creamy. Remove bay leaves when ready.

Preheat oven to 375F. While the quinoa and red lentils are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a a large non-stick cooking pan over a medium heat. Add coconut oil, and all the spices listed. Fry for about 1-2 minutes stirring continuously. Be sure not to burn the spices or you will have to start over. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and tomato and continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent from sticking.

When ready, use an immersion blender or a food processor to blend the vegetables. Leave some chunks for texture. Skip this step if you are not feeling up to it, just be sure to chop the onion and tomato finely.

Combine cooked quinoa and red lentil mixture with sautéed vegetables, and add chickpea/besan flour. Add the flour gradually to make sure you have the desired batter consistency. Mix well.

Coat well a medium/small baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and fill it with the batter. Smooth over the top with your hands or a spoon. Coat with more non-stick cooking spray, and bake in the oven at 375F, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Allow 10-15 minutes rest time before removing from the baking pan. When cooled, flip over the pan on a cutting board, and cut to desired slices. Serve with favorite gravy, chutney or plain. I know it sounds weird, but I like mine with hummus in a wrap.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week in a closed container.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Vodka Sauce with Cashew Cream

I had both of my wisdom teeth removed today. Given I am less wiser now, I fear that I may not survive the remaining two months of what is left of the school semester. Hopefully I will not be affected that much ;-)

Well, I am still up for posting a recipe today, and this one is really good. There is a finicky eater in my household who is not vegan or vegetarian, and he liked this recipe immensely. Cheers! 

Vodka Sauce with Cashew Cream. 
Vodka Sauce with Cashew Cream 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded carrots (you don't have to be exact about this amount)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil (if using fresh basil, add it at the end, once the sauce is ready)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 teaspoons raw cane sugar (I like my sauce tangy, and used 2 teaspoons of raw cane sugar)
1 (28-oz can) crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 3/4 cup vodka of choice (I used 1/2 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cashew Cream
1 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked in water overnight or longer (I soaked mine for 2 days)
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened plant milk of choice (I used soy milk)

* Don't forget the pasta. I used 1 (16-oz package) of whole wheat penne pasta and cooked it according to package directions. Use pasta of choice for this recipe. 
The longer the cashews are soaked, the creamier they get when blended. 
Preheat a large pot or sauce pan over a medium heat. Add olive oil and onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and carrots and continue sautéing for another 3-5 minutes. Add a splash of water to prevent from sticking to the pan, if necessary. Now add crushed tomatoes, all of the spices including sugar. Mix well. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, add vodka, and cook for about 30-45 minutes.

Stir once in a while. You may have to lower the heat a bit more if the sauce bubbles too much. The longer you cook the sauce, the better the flavor, however, it taste good at the 30 minute mark as well.

While the sauce is cooking, make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews, add them to a high speed blender or food processor along with the plant milk. Blend until very smooth. The longer you blend it, the smoother and thicker it becomes. You don't want it gritty, thus blend for at least 2-3 minutes.

Prepare pasta of choice according to package directions about 10-15 minutes before the sauce is ready. 

Once the vodka sauce is ready, turn off the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce before adding the cashew cream. You can use food processor or regular blender for this task as well. Be careful about transferring the sauce to a blending tool as it will be very hot. If you don't have any blending gadgets, that's ok. There will be some chunks from the onion and carrots, but so what?

Add the cashew cream to the sauce and mix well. The sauce looks like this when blended and once the cashew cream has been added.
Taste for seasonings. You may want to add more sugar, salt, or pepper if needed. Serve over cooked pasta and enjoy. 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Pancake Day! and Easy Crepes with Hazelnut Spread and Sliced Bananas Recipe

Easy Crepes with Hazelnut Spread and Sliced Bananas. 
Hey there,

So apparently today is Pancake Day, and it is very fitting that I post this recipe now. Although Pancake Day sounds awesome, my inspiration for making these came from....

I found these wonders at my local supermarket for .99 cents each, and I felt compelled to utilize this hazelnut spread/butter blend somehow. 
If you are familiar with non-vegan hazelnut spread, which by the way I used to eat with a spoon as a kid, you will love this brand!

Let's cook. Cheers!
Lucky me! 
Easy Crepes (Makes about 15-20 Crepes)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups water, cold
1 cup unsweetened plant milk of choice (I used soy milk)
1 teaspoon almond (any flavor will do) extract
1 teaspoon unsulphured molasses, maple syrup or agave syrup (I used molasses)

*Note: If you are planning on making savory crepes or don't have molasses or almond extract on hand, then skip both or one of these altogether.

Crepe Filling
4-5 sliced bananas
vegan hazelnut spread/butter

*Note: You know what? What? Peanut butter, fruit preserves and bananas would be great as a potential filling too. Now I have to try this combination. However, if you are feeling SAVORY, then use whatever leftovers you have in your ice-box as the filling. These may include: veggie burgers, tofu scramble, sautéed vegetables and so forth.

Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend your heart out, but not for too long.

Don't have a blender? Use a whisk instead. Be sure to whisk the batter until all the lumps are gone. You can do it!

Preheat a skillet (large or small) on a medium heat, coat it well with non-stick cooking spray, and pour in the batter. Depending on the desired size of the crepe, you can use 1/4 or 1/3 cup measurement for each crepe. I used 1/3 cup measurement.

When pouring in the batter, quickly wiggle the pan back and forth until the batter spreads 'evenly.' The first crepe is never wicked-hot, but it tastes just as good :)

Fry each crepe for about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown or crispy. This time, I wanted mine crispy, so I fried each side longer than stated. Continue doing so until all the batter is gone. Use non-stick cooking spray as needed.

Spread the hazelnut spread on each, place about 5-6 slices of bananas, fold it in half and then another half. You can also fold each into a cigar or an envelope shape.

Sprinkle with organic powdered sugar, douse with maple syrup, vegan butter or whatever strikes your fancy. Yeah! you fancy pants you!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Buttermilk Banana Chia Seed Pancake Muffins and Happy March 1st!

Buttermilk Banana Chia Seed Pancake Muffins - cheers! 
Hey there,

I have not posted in a-wHile. It is about time to resurface, don't you think? This semester has been tough, but I can see the finish line on the horizon saying: GRADUATED! with Master's of the Universe Degree - He-Man!

Enough about that, whatever that was. This morning I wanted to make some some pancakes since I haven't been cooking all that much lately due to paper-writing marathons. Although I wanted to make traditional pancakes, I was still too unmotivated to stand over the frying pan, and wait for the pancakes to do their THANG. I baked the pancakes instead.

I wonder why I haven't thought of this sooner since this hands-free idea worked out so well.



Great with organic powdered sugar, additional banana slices and fruit preserves. 
Ingredients (Makes about 8 Servings)
1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plant milk of choice (I used soy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons organic powdered sugar (raw cane sugar may be substituted)
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional but recommended)
1 teaspoon almond extract (any flavor will do)
1 banana, sliced thinly (add at the end)

*Non-stick cooking spray and one muffin baking pan. 

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl combine plant milk and apple cider vinegar. Allow for 5-10 minutes resting time, so that it curdles.

In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl using a whisk. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated well, add the banana slices and the curdled plant milk. Mix well.

Coat the muffin baking pan well with non-stick cooking spray, and pour the batter all the way to the top in each. Depending on the size of your muffin pan, you should have about 8-10 pancake muffins.

Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes until the pancake muffins rise, and are golden color. Serve with maple syrup, fruit preserves, or anything you like.