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Vegan Thai Chopped Salad

June 23, 2014

Thai Chopped Salad (2) | Espresso and Cream
Last month I developed a Thai Chicken and Kale Chopped Salad recipe for the Tasteseekers Kitchen blog at work that I’ve since made a handful of times. Big, colorful salads are one of my favorite things to make for lunch and dinner, especially when the salad is substantial enough to keep you full and satisfied hours later.

This past weekend Joe helped one of his friends paint his house. It was a two-day ordeal that involved quite a few hours out in the sun so when they got done on Saturday night and headed to our house for a late dinner, I was in charge of preparing a side dish to go with their very large grilled steaks. Steaks and a vegan salad: It goes together, right? I didn’t exactly set out with the intention of making this recipe vegan, but as I chopped and tossed things together, I realized that’s just what I did.

Don’t be intimidated by all the ingredients, chopping and making of your own dressing. I promise that it really is quite simple, and the flavors of all the fresh veggies paired with the thai peanut dressing is nothing short of amazing. The recipe itself serves quite a bit, enough for four main-dish portions or six to seven smaller side-dish sized salads. I highly suggest chopping all the ingredients in advance and making the dressing, then tossing everything together just before you plan to eat. And since the ingredients in this salad are heartier than, say, a Romaine lettuce salad, dressing the salad a little early won’t leave your salad soggy.

Thai Chopped Salad (1) | Espresso and Cream

Vegan Thai Chopped Salad
Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 10 cups finely chopped kale, stems removed
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix
  • 4 miniature red sweet peppers, thinly sliced (or ½ cup chopped red sweet pepper)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  1. In a very large bowl, combine the kale and olive oil. Work together the kale and olive oil with your hands until kale is evenly coated with the oil. Add the remaining salad ingredients to bowl.
  2. To make dressing, whisk together the peanut butter and hot water until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until well combined. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss until well combined and salad is evenly coated.




Berry Breakfast Cobbler

June 11, 2014

berry breakfast cobbler 4 | espresso and cream

I love breakfast more than any other meal of the day. We’ve been over this before, right? I tend to get pretty protective of my mornings, especially slow and lazy weekend mornings when Joe and I can watch the morning news and drink a pot of coffee together and eat breakfast with the sun shining through our big picture window. Although I love waking up early, even on the weekends, I don’t like to be rushed into action first thing in the morning. I’m all about having a little time to wake up and settle into the day.

If you’ve eaten dinner at my house any time in the last year and a half, the chances are pretty good that I’ve served you berry cobbler for dessert. This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen is one of my absolute favorite recipes because it’s easy, slightly healthier than a traditional cobbler and I always have the ingredients on hand. Usually I use frozen mixed berries in place of the blueberries and whatever Greek yogurt we happen to have in the fridge.

The other day I found myself thinking about that dessert and how fun it would be to have berry cobbler for breakfast. Since the base of any fruit dessert is, well, fruit, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make a slightly indulgent yet totally breakfast-acceptable dish. And you know what? I was right.

berry breakfast cobbler 2 | espresso and cream
This Berry Breakfast Cobbler is going into regular rotation at our house, I can just feel it now. It’s perfect for breakfast, but Joe and I have also been eating it after dinner as a healthier way to ward off that need for something sweet at the end of the day. It’s packed with antioxidants from the berries and whole grains from the flour and oats, which add a hearty, earthy taste and texture in the best possible way.

Although I’m not one to typically use a lot of low-calorie sweeteners in my baking, I did sweeten the berry mixture with stevia instead of sugar to keep the calories in check and prevent this dish from becoming a morning sugar bomb in disguise. If you don’t want to use stevia, I would suggest swapping 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for the stevia in this recipe. I’m sure it would be every bit (if not more) delightful.

Berry Breakfast Cobbler
Recipe type: breakfast, dessert, snack
Serves: 6
  • Cobbler Topping
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (6 oz) Greek yogurt (plain or some type of berry flavor - I used Greek blueberry)
  • Berry Base
  • 6 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and baking powder together until well-combined. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the butter is in very small pieces and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in the Greek yogurt and stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy.) Set aside.
  3. Toss together the berries, stevia and 3 tablespoons flour. Transfer mixture to the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle topping over berry mixture.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until berry mixture is bubbly and topping is browned and crispy. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.



10 Grain Banana Muffins

May 27, 2014

10 Grain Banana Muffins (3) | Espresso and Cream

Yesterday afternoon Joe and I returned from Kansas City where we spent the weekend with Joe’s brother, Jason and his wife, Ali. Since it’s a seven hour car ride for us to get there, we don’t see them nearly as often as we would like, so it felt like a treat to have a long weekend to spend with them. The guys got to golf and go to the driving range while Ali and I ate at a great vegan/vegetarian restaurant and did a little shopping. And I finally got that start-of-summer pedicure I’ve been talking about for the last month.

Before we left on our little road trip, I made a bunch of healthy snacks for the car ride. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into in order to save money on the road and prevent myself from getting hangry while we are traveling. Trust me, snack are always a good idea. And it’s even better when those snacks are healthy.

10 Grain Banana Muffins (2) | Espresso and Cream

These muffins are much lower in sugar than a traditional muffin, and I could easily see them being served alongside soup or roasted veggies when spread with a little butter and sprinkle with salt. However, my preference for these muffins is to serve them with sweeter toppings, such as almond butter or a drizzle of honey. In addition to being packed with bananas, they’re also made with 10-grain hot cereal, rolled oats and almond milk. They would make a great breakfast or a snack in lunches throughout the week!

10 Grain Banana Muffins
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 15
These 10-grain muffins are just slightly sweet and so good for you, too! I like to make a batch at the beginning of the week for snacks and quick breakfasts, especially slathered with peanut butter or almond butter for a boost of protein!
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup oil (I used canola but for a more savory flavor, you could use light olive oil)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups uncooked 10-grain hot cereal (I tested with Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 15 standard-sized muffin cups with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Stir in the 10 grain cereal, followed by the almond milk.
  4. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to 10 grain cereal mixture. Stir until just combined.
  5. Spoon about ¼ to ⅓ cup batter into the 15 prepared muffin cups. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and just baked through in the center. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Serve with almond butter, peanut butter, butter or jam, if desired.




Bran Snack Cake

April 3, 2014

Bran Snack Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream
I know, I know. The whole “bran cake” probably doesn’t have you dashing to the kitchen to make this recipe, does it? Hang with me for a moment and let me explain. I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before how much I love hearty, healthier, one-bowl cake that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. This cake is all that and more.

Growing up I remember buying the most amazing bran muffins at the local grocery store. They were made by the local Dutch bakery (we grew up in a very Dutch town) and were pretty much the best things on the planet. They were huge muffins, not in paper liners, and the bottoms of the muffins were gooey and covered in some sort of caramel glaze that soaked into the muffins and kept them moist. At the time, I thought I was eating something healthy. I mean, they’re bran muffins for crying out loud. Now I realize they were more than likely loaded with sugar and butter and calories only being disguised by the bran as a better-for-you treat.

Bran Snack Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream
So last week when the urge to bake hit me hard I decided to try and recreate those muffins with a healthier twist. This bran cake is made in an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan, though you could certainly use a round cake pan if that’s what you happen to own. Instead of being loaded with sugar and butter and all those bad-for-you ingredients, I made a light glaze to go on the cake and drizzled the cake with a couple tablespoons of honey right after it came out of the oven.

Joe, who is not one for healthy desserts and cakes, was a huge fan of this cake! Although I had to warn him about portion control. One slice of cake a day is really all you should think about eating, if you know what I mean. We’re talking about bran, after all.

Bran Snack Cake 3 | Espresso and Cream

Bran Snack Cake
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Serves: 9 to 12
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 100% bran cereal (such as All Bran)
  • 1¼ cups milk (I used 2% but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square (or 8-inch round) cake pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, melt butter. Add brown sugar to butter and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into bottom of pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt until well combined. In second bowl, combine bran cereal, milk, egg, oil and sugar until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake immediately onto serving platter. Drizzle with the honey. Cut into squares to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Homemade Vanilla Coconut Butter

February 23, 2014

I go in waves with all things homemade. Deep down inside, I love making everything by scratch. If I had the time, I would make my bread and my peanut butter and my pasta by scratch every week. Tonight I had a little extra time in the kitchen, so I made enchiladas with homemade flour tortillas and homemade enchilada sauce and I felt so accomplished knowing that I could name every ingredient in the food we were eating.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I just don’t have the time or energy to make everything from scratch all the time, no matter how much I might like to do so. My time is worth a lot, and I try to strike a healthy balance. Sometimes I go weeks on end making hummus by scratch or making my own peanut butter. Other times I simply find it worth it to purchase those items from the store.

The only time I regularly make things my scratch is when it’s vastly cheaper. I just can’t resist saving a little money and learning a new kitchen skill. I’m a big fan of coconut butter (not to be confused with coconut oil or coconut milk) which has a creamy, melty texture and great coconut flavor. But buying coconut butter can be pricey, so I set out to make it myself. I’m not sure what took me so long! I just had to share how easy it is to make coconut butter at home.

Because I prefer a little sweetness, I added some sugar to the recipe below, though you certainly don’t need it for the recipe to work. Since I’m not a huge jam or preserves person, I find that this coconut butter is a great substitute. It’s slightly sweet, creamy and tastes great on toast or drizzled on a morning bowl of oatmeal. The coconut butter will get hard at room temperature (especially in the winter when it’s colder in the house) but you can bring it back to spreading consistency by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds before you use it!


Homemade Vanilla Coconut Butter
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe by Ashley from Edible Perspective, which I found on Food52. You can find her recipe here. It's incredibly versatile and I can see myself making lots of variations of this basic recipe. The sugar isn't necessary in this recipe, but I like the sweetness it adds and the way it brings out the coconut and vanilla flavors.
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  1. Place all the ingredients together in the bowl of a large food processor. Blend 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Coconut butter will get hard in cooler temperatures. To soften, microwave 20 to 30 seconds or until desired consistency for spreading on toast.



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