Category Archives: comfort food

Coconut Chai Cake

Last month I was putting together an Indian-inspired dinner with friends and wanted to make a little somethin’-somethin’ sweet for dessert.  I wanted it it to compliment the spices I was using, and be quick and easy.  A few days earlier, The Fat Free Vegan had posted the perfect little cake recipe! She makes it for breakfast, and indeed it would be heavenly for first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, but I also found it to be the perfect not-too-sweet bite after an evening meal.   Whips up and bakes in a flash; so moist it needs no frosting.  The only problem is waiting to eat it until guests arrive….

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Gather up your ingredients!

ingredients

  • 1 cup strong chai tea ( I used a coconut chai–perfect!)
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quick (not instant) oatmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (use more for a spicier cake)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, 2 TBSP reserved  ( I used an unsweetened, large-flaked coconut I usually have on hand for making granola.)

Preheat oven to 350F, spray-oil an 8×8 pan, and make a strong cup of tea by steeping 2 bags in 1 cup of boiling water until it is cool/room temperature.

tea

Combine the dry ingredients (oats, flours, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and sugar) in a medium bowl.

mix dry

Add the wet ingredients (tea, applesauce, vinegar, almond and vanilla extracts and all but 2 TBSP of the coconut.  Mix until just combined.

add wet

Pour into the prepared pan and top with reserved coconut.

pour into prepared pan

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a pick comes out clean when inserted near the center, and the coconut topping is nicely toasted.  The scent that will envelop your kitchen is just heavenly! Good luck not touching the cake until your guests show up!

bake

Cut into pieces and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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So easy, so yummy.  I might just need to bake another one for tomorrow’s breakfast….

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, recipe, snack, vegan

Easy Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

Yesterday we ate a late lunch, so I scrapped my planned dinner menu and searched around for something lighter.  I looked around my pantry for what I already had and decided to make lentil something.  Using vegan lentil soup as my search term, I came across this recipe.  I didn’t have greens of any sort and made the soup without them.  The soup fragranced my house with exotic curry and in short order, we were enjoying little bowls of this soup.  The original recipe says it freezes well, so if you’re making soup for one, this is a winner!

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I had most everything on hand–subbing ground ginger for fresh.

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced, or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups No Chicken broth
  • 1 (140z) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry lentils
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  • rice for serving

Add a splash of No Chicken broth to a large stock pot and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onion garlic

Add ground ginger, tomato paste, curry powder, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and cook for another minute.

add spices tomato paste

Add broth, coconut milk, lentils and diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.

add broth coconut milk tomatos

Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender and soup is thick.

cover and simmer

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper) to your taste.

taste and adjust seasoning

Spoon prepared rice into bowls and add the lentil curry.  Garnish with cilantro.

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Quick and easy enough for a weeknight, yummy and comforting.  I think we’ll have the leftovers tonight rather than freezing them.  Mmmm-mmmm-mmm!

 

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan

Tofu Veggie Tikka Masala

I’m one of those people who can be convinced to try a new grocery item with a coupon for it.  Recently, I had a coupon for one item from a certain brand.  The shelf-safe Tikka Masala sauce caught my eye.  It sounded exotic and flavory.  A perfect compliment to my veggies and tofu.  So I bought it without checking the label–I was shopping my local health food store, what could be a problem?  Dairy.  Turns out this particular sauce has dairy.  In reading recipes for Tikka Masala sauce, yogurt seems to be key.  Sigh.  Oh well, I had it, why not go ahead and cook with it?  This yummy recipe is therefore vegetarian rather than my preferred vegan.  Have a look–you can make this in no time.

garnish with cilantro

I cruised the Google and found quite a few vegetarian and vegan versions of Tikka Masala, which is traditionally made with chicken chunks (tikka).  I combined ideas from these two: Tofu Masala and Vegetarian Tikka Masala, made all the easier for the premade sauce.  Here are the ingredients:

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  (the pic shows little garlic ends leftover from roasting whole garlic heads)
  • 1 (14 oz) extra firm, organic tofu
  • 1 (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • premade Tikka Masala sauce
  • cilantro for garnish
  • prepared rice
  • naan or pita bread for serving

Drain and then press the tofu.  Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and set something a bit weighty on top of it.

press tofu

Saute onion and pepper in a bit of veggie broth until onions are translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onions and peppers

Add garlic and saute until fragrant–30 seconds to a minute.

add garlic

Remove the saute to a bowl.  Set aside.

remove saute

Cube the tofu by cutting through the center of the flat side, then cut into sticks and then cubes.

cube tofu

Spray your pan with a bit of spray oil and saute the tofu cubes until mostly browned.  I do this by stirring occasionally–I’m too lazy to turn each cube for perfect even brownness.

brown tofu

When tofu is sufficiently browned, add saute back to the pan, along with drained chickpeas. Stir to combine.

add saute and chickpeas

Add the sauce and stir to coat.

add sauce

stir to coat

Scoop rice into a bowl, add the tofu tikka masala, garnish with cilantro, and serve with naan or pita.

serve with rice

serve with naan or pita

So yummy!  I’m currently looking around for a truly vegan masala sauce recipe.  I’ve found a few so far, some using coconut yogurt–a flavor that sounds yummy with the rest of the ingredients here.  I’m also thinking about marinating the tofu ahead of time and grilling it to more closely recreate a traditional Tikka Masala.  Do your recipes evolve like this?

 

 

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, lunch, recipe, Vegetarian

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Nearly everyone I know loves banana bread.  And chocolate.  And who isn’t fascinated by a marbled baked-good?!  When I saw this recipe on the PPK (Post-Punk Kitchen) the other day, I actually started wishing my bananas would hurry up and get over-ripe.  Which for me, is when the spots start to appear.   My beautiful slightly green bananas granted my wish and soon became spotted and then became delicious work of (vegan!) baked art.

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Grab those over-ripe bananas and a few other ingredients and create your own edible art.

ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana  (about 3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 TBSP boiling water, divided

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a 4×8″ loaf pan.  Put water on to boil.

Peel and mash bananas.  Measure before placing in a mixing bowl.

mash and measure the bananas

Add milk, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.

add vanilla sugar milk oil

Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix until JUST combined.  If you still see a bi of flour, that’s ok.  Be careful to not over-mix.

add dry

mix til moistened

Measure and scoop out one cup of this mixture and transfer to another bowl.

remove 1 cup

In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder with 3 TBSP boiling water.  Stir vigorously with a fork until smooth.

dissolve cocoa

Add the dissolved chocolate into the one cup of banana mixture.  Mix until completely smooth and combined.

add cocoa to 1 cup mix

Add 3 TBSP boiling water to the original plain banana mixture.  Mix until mostly smooth.

add boiling water to plain mix

Scoop alternate “1/2 cupfuls” into the oiled loaf pan.  I used a large “spoonula” to mix each batter and just used those to scoop out each mixture.  Have fun and place the two different batters into the pan in a random fashion.  The randomness will help you make the groovy swirls!  Here are my layers as they built up.

layer 1

layer 2

layer 3

layer 4

layer 5

When all the batter is in the pan, use a butter knife or wooden skewer to swirl through the batter in a circular motion for about 10 seconds.

swirl

Bake 55-65 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a skewer or butter knife into the center of the loaf.  It’s done when a few moist crumbs cling to the skewer.  Cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle the pan without an oven mitt, then turn the loaf out to cool completely.

bake and cool

Now comes the oooooooo-ahhhhhhh part:  Cut 1/2 inch slices and watch the ever-changing, swirled banana bread art present itself.

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No need for a spread–moist and flavorful on its own.  Freshly cooled, this bread has a nicely crisp crust; after storage, it softens.

I went to the store today looking for bananas past their prime.  Alas, none to be had.  I bought the least ripe ones which are now in a paper bag on the counter.  Can’t wait to make another one of these beautiful and yummy breads!  I highly recommend you make one for yourself and keep the recipe in mind for the next potluck or food-gifting occasion.  Perfect!

The PPK is my go-to site for fabulous vegan recipes.  The recipes are easy to follow and written with just the perfect amount of humorous snark.  Isa Chandra is not your Mom’s Betty Crocker.  Click on over and see for yourself!

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Potluck, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Easiest Beer Bread Ever!

It seems like every time I decide soup for dinner is a great plan, it’s too late to start a yeast bread to go with it.  Wah.  Fresh bread is so yummy with soup!  What to do, what to do?!  If you have an hour, beer bread is what you do!  It’s quick!  It’s easy!  It’s very much like “real” bread!  Yum!

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I Googled this recipe, which says it’s the most popular beer bread recipe on the internet.  It IS super easy and super fast.  Now that I’ve made it, I do have one recommendation not mentioned in the original recipe–the beer you use will have a huge impact on the flavor.  I used an IPA–very hoppy–which gave that same hoppy flavor to the bread.  For my taste, I’ll be using a more mellow beer next time.  That being said, this recipe is a keeper!

ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or margarine)

Preheat oven to 375F and oil a standard loaf pan.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) together–very important to keep the bread light and fluffy.  Use a flour sifter or a fine mesh strainer.

sift dry ingredients

Add the beer.  Stir until just combined.

add beer

mix until moistened

Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

pour into loaf pan

Pour melted butter over the top.  (Sounded weird to me, but resulted in a wonderful crunchy, buttery crust!)

pour melted butter

Bake for 1 hour, and cool on a rack until you can handle the pan, then remove from the pan and cool for a total of 15 minutes.  This will make slicing a LOT easier!

let cool on rack

remove from pan

Slice, spread on your favorite buttery spread and enjoy!

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I was making potato soup when I realized I needed a bread to go with it.  Yummy combo!

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Now that I’ve made this once, I’m thinking of all the other things that would be yummy to include–like a whole wheat, oats and stout combo, or a light wheat ale and jalapeno combo, or roasted garlic or ????!!!!  Oh yeah, lots of ways to make this easy, yummy bread a bit more “gourmet!”  Have fun with your favorite combos!

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Filed under appetizer, comfort food, lunch, Potluck, recipe, side dish, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

A Sweet Valentine’s Day Collection, Part 2

Here’s last year’s Valentines Post with new vegan options to make for your sweetie!

Remember making valentines in grade school?   Hearts made from doilies, pink and red construction paper, stickers, some Elmer’s glue and a bit of glitter.  Valentines are still fun to make–the paper kind and the chocolate, or decadent ice cream kind!  I’ve gathered up a yummy collection of recipes from Somethin’ Yummy for you to make for your valentines, including yourself.  ❤

Vegan Valentine Truffle-O-Rama

Serve these yummy vegan truffles frozen!

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Rich and silky.  A house favorite!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-y and spicy.  A lovely tender and yummy vegan cupcake for your sweetie.

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Vegan Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Almost brownie-like, let a few mini chocolate chips melt on top instead of frosting!

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Easy Chocolate Truffles.

Your valentines will love the rich, melty chocolate and the cute, cute toppings!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes, Poppers and Trifles

Such a classic flavor and the perfect color for Valentine’s Day!

cupcakes poppers trifles

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free version, with instructions to adjust for regular flour.)

These melt-in-your-mouth cookies have a wee bit of pepper in the batter.  OMG, so, so yummy!

perched on coffee cup

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This rich, dense cake is simple to make and quite the “Ta-Da” dessert.

pwdered sugar

Decadent Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Chocolate bliss spiced up with ginger.

chocolate tart

Sweetheart Chocolate Waffles

A perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast, and super yum with ice cream in a Sweetheart Sundae!

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Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

A bit of effort, but so, so worth it!

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Carol’s Frozen Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Mosaic

A superbly yummy treat if chocolate just isn’t your Valentine’s Day desire.  Drizzled in raspberry liqueur for extra valentine-y-ness!

carols mosaic

Still not finding something to your liking?  Type dessert or cookie or cake in the search window for more sweet ideas!  Have a yummy Valentine’s Day!  Be my Valentine?!

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe

Celine’s Aebelskivers

Have I mentioned how great it is to have been brought up Norwegian?  My son, who is even less Norwegian than I am, is as pleased as I’ve always been to enjoy the special yumminess found in Scandinavian holiday treats.   Mom started it all.  She adored all things Scandinavian, baking all kinds of traditional holiday recipes, including these light little pillows of yumminess from Denmark, aebelskivers. yum1

Here it is almost Christmas, and I have piles of cookies and breads and candies and nuts to keep me happy for months, but still I felt compelled yesterday to add to my dragon’s horde and make aebelskivers.  Especially after reading that they freeze well and then reheat beautifully in the oven for a traditional Scandinavian Christmas breakfast.  Aebelskivers originally had bits of apple or applesauce inside–aebel means apple.  They are also made plain, like my Mom’s recipe, and served with applesauce or a berry jam on the side.  I like lingonberry–a Scandinavian cranberry-esque fruit.  Find lingonberry in your natural foods market or at IKEA.  Yup, IKEA.  You can also buy pre-made mixes from places like Williams Sonoma.  (Mom bough these for me.)  They are yummy, but are pretty much the same in prep time as scratch-made.

mixes

The manufacturer of my glass-top range says cast iron is a no-no because it could damage the glass.  I pouted for a year over this because I knew it meant no aebelskivers for me.  Traditional aebelskiver pans like mine are cast iron.

traditional aebelskiver pan

William Sonoma has a variety of electric and stove-top pans and accessories.  I wasn’t quite ready to spend sixty bucks plus shipping for a treat I generally make only once a year.  I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it and nearly ordered one when…

Cake pops became all the rage and electric cake pop makers began “popping” up all over.  They make little spherical cakes, and aebelskivers are spherical.  Could a cake pop maker be used for aebelskivers?!  Between a coupon and a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, I procured a Babycakes cake pop maker for about $15 and set out to find out.  YES!  The abelskivers are smaller, but just as yummy.  Good news for those of you already in possession of a cake pop maker!

All you need are a cake pop maker and a few ingredients:

ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom, optional
  • powdered sugar
  • applesauce or berry jam to serve

If you don’t keep buttermilk around, measure any milk (I used regular, unsweetened almond milk) and add the lemon juice to it and allow it to “curdle” a bit.

add lemon juice to milk

Meanwhile, separate the eggs, making sure the whites get into a clean glass or metal bowl for better whipping results.

separate eggs

Lightly beat the yolks and add the milk, sugar and salt.

egg yolks milk sugar and salt

Then add the flour, soda, and baking powder.  Add cardamom here if using.  I completely forgot the cardamom until I was nearly done baking the aebelskivers!  Sorry Mom!  I’ll put it in next time for sure!

add flour and soda and baking powder

Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites to a stiff peak.

beat whites to stiff peak

Gently fold in the whites in two batches.  This takes a while–be patient to maintain as much fluff as possible.  This fluff is what will make your aebelskivers so pillowy.

add half of whites

fold in second half

Spray the cake pop maker lightly with spray oil and wipe away any excess to avoid smoking up your kitchen as the appliance heats.  Yup.  Know this from experience.  Heat the cake pop maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then fill the wells brim-full with batter.  My cake pop maker has 1 tablespoon-sized wells which are conveniently filled with a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop!

fill wells full

Fill as quickly as you can and close the lid to bake.  I baked mine for 6 minutes.  Your cake pop maker may take more or less time.  If you use a regular aebelskiver pan, wait for the tops to get bubbly–like you do for pancakes–and then gently turn them over in their wells using a wooden skewer or knitting needle or little tools made specifically for this purpose.  If you’re feeling adventurous, fill the wells only 2/3 full and add a wee bit of applesauce or jelly before adding the last 1/3 of batter per well.  I use a 1/4 tsp measure to add jam for my tiny cake pop-sized aebelskivers.

close lid and bake

Use the little prong thingie that comes with a cake pop maker or a thin wooden skewer or knitting needle to remove your perfect little aebelskivers.  Place them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Use a small sieve for this or purchase a powdered sugar shaker from a kitchen store–worth the money!  (Look around, I know mine wasn’t as pricey as the one linked to.)  They have lids, so powdered sugar can be stored in it, making it ready to use whenever you need it.

sprinkle with powdered sugar

This recipe makes 6 or 7 dozen one-inch aebelskivers.

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While a batch is baking, get out a pretty plate and some lingonberry jam and do a taste test.   Dip each pillowy bite in the jam and enjoy.

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Keep adding to your mountain of aebelskiver wonderfulness, sugaring each layer.

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If you plan to freeze your aebelskivers for later, let them cool completely before placing in a freezer bag.  The aebelskivers will freeze separately from one another, allowing you to take out only how many you want. Then when you’re ready, bake them in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Sugar them again and serve with applesauce or jam.  Oh, yum-yum-yummy!

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Christmas traditions always make the season cozy for me.  I find myself reaching back into the past to bring some of that childhood Christmas magic to my adulthood.  This year, I found a wee, tiny tinsel tree that reminded me of the big one my grandparents had.  I selected ornaments that are reminiscent of the time and lit it with battery-powered color-changing LED lights.  The sun made it sparkle yesterday.

tinsel tree1

tinsel tree 2

Back in the day, these tinsel trees were lit with a color wheel aimed at the tree.  The wheel turned, bathing the tree in a progression of colors–red, blue, yellow, and green–that were at their most wonderful at the juncture between colors.  It was like waves of color moving across and reflected by the tinsel.  Spectacular, and pure Christmas magic.  I hope your holidays bring you some of the magic from your childhood.  Merry Christmas!

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dessert, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe, snack