Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Hurtling towards the holidays and the end of the year, I’ve barely had time lately to stop and smell the gingerbread cookies. Before it all passes me by in a big, hazy blur, I plopped down in front of my remote controlled fireplace with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Now, it’s beginning to taste a lot like Christmas.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Makes about 8 ounces

3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup soy milk creamer
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 ounce peppermint stick candy or a few drops of peppermint extract
Couple drops of vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
Vegan marshmallows for garnish

Crush the peppermint stick if using. In a saucepan, heat the milk and creamer to a simmer over medium heat. Do not allow to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the sugar, cocoa and peppermint, stir until dissolved.

Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon, stir to combine. Serve immediately with marshmallows.

Black and Blue Cookie From Eclair Bakery

Black and Blue Cookie From Eclair Bakery

Ever heard of a black and blue cookie? Me neither.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I got one when I was down south visiting family. It’s from Eclair Bakery, a cute little place in the downtown village of Arroyo Grande (a small Central Coast town about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles).

I stopped in to see what they had in way of vegan treats and on that day it was a cupcake (I don’t remember the flavor) or a black and blue cookie. Deciding between the two, the cookie sounded much more interesting than the cupcake. The black part is a chocolate chocolate chip cookie; the blue part is blueberries. Together, it’s a black and blue cookie (I love the name).

I enjoyed every last crumb of it. The edges were a little on the crisp side but soft in the center. I’ve always liked the combo of blueberry and chocolate. It reminds me of my blueberry brownies but in a yummy cookie form.

It’s so nice to know I can pop in for a vegan treat whenever I’m in town visiting. If you ever find yourself cruising up or down the Central Coast, it’s an easy exit off of the 101. And if you give them advance notice, they can whip up other vegan treats too. I can’t wait to be back later this month.

Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y

Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y

It seems like every year there’s something new out for Thanksgiving, this year I dined on Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y. I got it on sale at Whole Foods for $5.99, 2 cutlets in a package. If you like their other stuffed cutlet type of products, you’ll probably like this latest one.

After cooking in the oven for 30 minutes, the bread crumb crust is crisp and flavorful. The cutlet itself has a subtle turkey-like kinda taste and was stuffed with bread crumbs, onions, celery and cranberries. It comes with quite a bit of gravy too, enough for the two cutlets plus extra for whatever else happens to be on the plate.

Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y

It’s similar to what Whole Foods had offered in their prepared vegan Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. Back then, I liked the cutlet but the sides that came with were only so-so. I had wished I could have gotten just the cutlets by themselves, now it appears I can.

Asian-Styled Chickpea Cutlets

Asian-Styled Chickpea Cutlets

I’ve been busy cooking up a batch of my favorite foods in preparation of the Thanksgiving weekend. I try to eat as much homemade food at the beginning of the week as possible since I know I’ll be dining out a lot during the holiday weekend with traveling and all. It’s my little attempt at trying to keep a balance.

Today, I made Vegan Menudo in the morning, Roasted Tofu with Leeks and Black Bean Sauce and the Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon in the afternoon. And then it happened, I didn’t mean to do it.

The bowl of leeks in black bean sauce was just sitting there innocently (I was going to combine it with the roasted tofu later). I had finished the cutlets earlier and left them out to cool. Looking at the two items side-by-side, I thought maybe that sauce would go well with the cutlets.

I usually eat the cutlets plain straight out of the oven or later with bbq sauce or gravy. But why not a stir-fry topping for a nice Asian flavor?

The sauce recipe is basically the same with the addition of fresh ginger and Chinese dried mushrooms. Next time I would also add a bit more water for a little more sauce for use on the cutlets.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Related Links
Roasted Tofu with Leeks and Black Bean Sauce
Chickpea Cutlets From Veganomicon

Mango Nectar Dressing From Savory Raw Dressings & Sauces

Mango Nectar Dressing From Savory Raw Dressings & Sauces

Delicious salad dressings without oil or vinegar.

Nuh-uh, you say.

Yeah-huh, I say, after receiving a review copy of the ebook Savory Raw Dressings & Sauces by Andrew Perlot.

I tried the very first recipe, the Mango Nectar Dressing. Since it’s only two ingredients, it’s ridiculously easy and simple. But the taste is so light and refreshing, I didn’t miss the oil or vinegar at all.

Mango Nectar Dressing From Savory Raw Dressings & Sauces

As there’s no salt or any other seasonings to hide behind, the ingredients have to be of the very best quality. Fortunately there’s still some great produce to be had at the farmers market. In keeping with the lightness of the dressing, I made a salad of jicama, baby romaine lettuce, cilantro and sliced almonds as a garnish.

The ebook starts out with an introduction of why no oil or vinegar, then moves on to how to make your own healthy dressings. There’s eight low-fat, salt-free recipes to get you started. They require only a minimal of fresh ingredients and a quick blend for a nice healthy dressing.

Disclosure: I received the cookbook free of charge from the publisher to review. The opinions and experience with the cookbook expressed herein are my own. There was no pay to say.

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari

I love fried foods. But I could never bring myself to actually fry anything at home. It’s much too messy and in the back of my mind I know I’m much too lazy to want to clean up after frying.

Then I came across a recipe for King Oyster Mushroom “Calamari” in Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. It looks just like fried calamari but it’s really king oyster mushrooms (also called king trumpet) that have been dehydrated. But alas, I didn’t have a dehydrator and I didn’t want to leave the oven on low for hours.

Inspired by the raw recipe, I made a baked version. Fresh out of the oven, the mushroom calamari came out nice and crispy. Easy, healthy and so good for satisfying that fried food itch.

Baked King Oyster Mushroom Calamari
Serves 2 as an appetizer

3-4 large king oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 small lemon
Sea salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon ground flax meal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Wash and slice the mushrooms crosswise into 1/8″ slices. Using a small round cutter, cut out a hole in the center to make a ring. Save the centers for some other use.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add the mushroom rings and toss, leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the water and flax meal in a small bowl and let stand for a few minutes until the mixture becomes slimy and somewhat sticky. In a separate plate or pan, combine the breadcrumbs, spices and salt to taste.

Dip a mushroom ring into the flax seed wash and then into the breadcrumbs, covering well. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip over the rings and bake another 5 minutes on the other side until crispy. Serve immediately. It’s good plain or with tartar sauce.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Related Links
Spicy Mushroom Cocktail
King Oyster Mushrooms with Snow Peas
King Oyster Mushroom Salad

Spinach Bolani

Spinach Bolani

Walking around the farmers market, minding my own business, some guy calls me over for some samples. Sometimes instead of a hasty no-thank-you, I weasel out of trying samples by asking if it’s vegan. Usually it’s not. But sometimes, it’s like hitting a vegan food jackpot – like the bolanis and sauces from East and West Gourmet Afghan Food.

Bolani is a traditional Afghani thin flatbread stuffed with either spinach, potato, lentil or pumpkin and baked. Even though it’s low-fat, low-cal and low-carb, it’s very tasty as well as filling. One serving of the spinach bolani is just 103 calories.

Top with any one or a combination of their many sauces and spreads for a delicious layering of flavors. For the spreads, I got the Lentil Curry and Cilantro Pesto. The curry is not really spicy hot but it’s got plenty of taste. The pesto is also very nice and light as it’s made without any oil.

Spinach Bolani

Available at numerous farmers markets throughout Northern California and a few in Southern California, they’re very generous with their samples. They’ll just keep handing you sample after sample after sample. The only item that isn’t vegan is the Garlic Mint Cheese, but it is vegetarian.

Two bolanis come in each package for $6, the sauces and spreads are also the same price. But if you buy a few items, you’ll get a deal. I got 3 things for $15. Also available at NoCal Whole Foods, Andronico’s and Mollie Stone’s. But if you like to taste before you buy, the farmers market is really the way to go.

While shopping at Whole Foods recently, I see that the bolanis there are $5.79, the spreads were $4.99 and the sweet jalapeño sauce was also $5.79. So it seems to be cheaper at Whole Foods if you just want to buy one or two items.

Banana Cream Pie From Raw For Dessert

Banana Cream Pie From Raw For Dessert

Banana cream pie, another must-try recipe from the cookbook, Raw for Dessert by Jennifer Cornbleet. It’s the same cookbook that I’ve reviewed before when I made the Chocolate Candy Cups.

Banana cream is the pie of choice for our family gatherings, I was thrilled to find a version that’s 1. healthier than the average pie and 2. it’s simple enough for a baking idiot like me to make (no baking involved).

Instead of the more commonly used tofu in such pies, young coconut meat is called for to achieve that creaminess. I’ve seen young Thai coconuts at Whole Foods and at Asian supermarkets (where it’s a little cheaper). But up until this point, I’ve never gave them a second thought, let alone try to open one up. Fortunately, the cookbook gives excellent directions on how to do it.

Banana Cream Pie From Raw For Dessert

After cracking open the coconuts, it’s smooth sailing. The graham crust is just a quick blend, as is the filling, just blend the ingredients together and that’s it. Assemble the pie and then stick it in the fridge to chill. Just before serving, I added a ring of freshly cut bananas to the top.

I’m really starting to love raw desserts. They’re easy enough for me to make, don’t have to be baked and I’m learning about all sorts of new ingredients. Best of all, they taste amazing.


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Disclosure: I received the cookbook free of charge from the publisher to review. This post also contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Related Links
Chocolate Candy Cups From Raw For Dessert

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