Summer Tomato Marinara Sauce

Heirloom Brandy wine tomatoes are my favorite!

Heirloom Brandy wine tomatoes are my favorite!

Ingredients:

8-10 ripe tomatoes of your choice chopped and seeds removed

8 cloves of fresh garlic minced

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1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbl light brown sugar (this can be omitted depending on preference)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer California Olive Ranch Brand)

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In a large shallow saucepan heat half of the olive oil over medium heat and add the minced garlic. Saute until fragrant and then add chopped basil, stir for another minute and then add the tomatoes, the rest of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium until bubbling, turn heat to low and simmer for 30-45min until tomatoes are cooked down and color deepens. Taste the sauce and add brown sugar if desired.

Cool and blend with emulsion blender or table top blender if you want smooth sauce! This sauce freezes well and is wonderful for lasagna, pasta, stuffed peppers and so much more!

Chai Tea Concentrate

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I've been a chai tea lover for years and I've tried all the store bought concentrates which tend to be pricey and filled with sugar, not to mention they often lack the real spicy flavor I'm craving in a good chai. Despite being obsessed with hot drinks all year round the hot New England Summer has left me wanting something cool. I looked at a bunch of recipes for chai concentrate before concocting my own version which leaves out the controversial star anise. Let's face it, anise is a love it or hate it flavor and my hubby hates it so I left it out of this recipe.  If you love it, skip to the bottom for *suggestions. This recipe makes about 6 cups (or 3 pint sized mason jars full) and can easily be halved, but why bother when it keeps in the fridge for several weeks or makes a great hostess gift for a summer soiree! 

Ingredients

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10 cups water

2 inches fresh ginger peeled

8 cinnamon sticks

16 tsp loose black tea

16 whole cloves

10 cardamom pods

24 black peppercorns

30 allspice berries

3/4 - 1 cup coconut sugar

muslin bag OR cheesecloth and cotton cord OR strainer

Put the 10 cups of water into a large pot and boil while you prep the ingredients for steeping the tea. I used a piece of cheesecloth folded over several times into a 8"x8" square to make a large teabag for this recipe but you could just add everything to the water and strain it with fine mesh when you're done. 

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Crack the peppercorns, allspice, cardamom and cloves with the back of a heavy knife and add them to the cheesecloth.  Slice the vanillla bean lengthwise and use a knife tip to scrape out the seeds adding them to the cheesecloth. Add the loose tea to the cheesecloth and lift up the corners and twist to make a large tea bag, secure the sachet with cotton cording.  Peel and rough chop the ginger and set it aside.

Once your water comes to a boil add the loose ginger, cinnamon sticks and the sachet with all other ingredients into the water and turn heat down to simmer uncovered for 20 min or until the liquid is reduced by 2 cups. Remove the sachet if using one and add your coconut sugar to taste, I used approx 3/4 cup. Stir to dissolve. Strain the remaining liquid and jar when cooled.

To use your concentrate:

I use 1/3 concentrate to 2/3 almond milk. It depends on how spicy you want your mixture. You could also do a 50/50 ratio.

Suggestions:

  • This is great cold OR hot!
  • For a decaf version, use Rooibos loose tea instead of black
  • Add a cinnamon stick to a hot version for a bit more spice
  • Try it with coconut milk or soy milk!
  • Add in 1 or 2 Star Anise (no need to crack these just toss them in)
  • Add in 1-2 tsp cacao nibs for a chocolate chai!
  • Make your own version of dirty chai with 1/3 coffee, 1/3 chai, 1/3 milk of choice
  • Add seeds from a second vanilla bean for smoother/sweeter tones
  •  

Tofu Breakfast Scramble

tofuscramble

This is a quick and easy recipe that is adaptable for any flavor profile (mexican, indian, italian etc) When you live with an omnivore who loves eggs for breakfast like I do, you want to make something just as easy and that involves similar ingredients so that you can both enjoy a lovely Sunday brunch together. This is a great way to use up leftover veggies too!

Ingredients:

1 package extra firm tofu, drained

2 Tbl olive oil

1/4 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh spinach

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

2 Tbl nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika

In a large frying pan heat the oil over medium heat. Crumble the tofu into the hot oil and sprinkle with turmeric, salt,pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and paprika. Toss and cook until the tofu dries out and begins to brown. Push the tofu to one side of the frying pan and add the onions and red peppers to the other side and toss until the veggies heat through. Mix tofu and veggies together and toss in the spinach. When spinach turns bright green, turn off the heat and serve while hot.

* Make it Mexican: add 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 1 Tbl diced jalepeno

* Make it Indian: add 1/2 tsp curry powder and 1/4 tsp garam masala

* Make it Italian: add 1 Tbl of Herbs de Provence and 1/4 cup diced tomatos

Corn Salsa

Looking for the perfect dish to bring to a summer picnic, pot luck or backyard BBQ?  This is IT!  It's quick, easy, delicious and will be a hit with vegans and omnivores alike! Scoop it up with corn chips or enjoy it like a salad or side! It's great leftover on top of rice too!

Ingredients

It is easiest to make the dressing first and let it cool while you do the rest of the recipe.

For dressing, bring to a boil:

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 Tbls. water

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute

Cool before pouring over beans/corn/veggie mixture below.

Combine in large bowl:

1 can black eyed peas (drained and rinsed)

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 small orange or red pepper chopped

1 cans of corn, drained

1 small red onion chopped

1 small green pepper chopped

1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

1 jalepeno pepper chopped (optional)

Vegan, Gluten Free Mac & "Cheese"

vegan glueten free mac and cheese

What's better than comfort food in the Winter? When you're looking for a hearty and tasty easy one pot wonder, this yum yum will do the trick!  Despite the fact that this dish clearly takes center stage at any meal, it's the 'right thing to do' to add veggies and a protein, so I served up a side of roasted brussell sprouts and marinated pan fried tempeh. Nom, nom nom!

Ingredients

1/2 lb gluten free pasta (i used shells but it works fine with any shape pasta)

6 Tbl melted Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread

6 Tbl Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

2 Tbl Mustard Powder

Salt / Pepper to taste

1/3cup Nutritional Yeast

1 1/2 cups Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs

First get your water boiling for your pasta. Add a pinch of salt and a Tbl of olive oil and while you're waiting make your "cheese" sauce. (keep an eye on your water and toss in the pasta once it boils).

Preheat your oven to 350. On the stove top, over low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan and add flour and mustard powder. Whisk quickly and add almond milk continue to whisk until mixture begins to thicken. Add yeast and cheese and continue to whisk over low heat until the mixture is smooth, (do not boil as you will boil out the nutrients in the yeast!) add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover and set aside until your pasta is cooked.

Drain your pasta and add it to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat. Pour the mixture into a casserole, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake for approx 30 min or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!

 

 

Lentil Butternut Squash Soup

I love soup all year round but there is nothing like a homemade bowl of scrumptious hearty soup on a chilly Fall day. When I'm creating a new recipe it's usually in part due to having ingredients I need to use and this one included a home grown butternut squash my Dad grew this past summer that had been sitting on my counter for quite some time. (thankfully winter squash lasts forever!) I love to add fresh toppings to warm soup as well and this one is the perfect candidate so make sure to check out all the options in the ingredients list and let me know if you come up with your own ideas too!

vegan lentil butternut squash soup

 

Ingredients

2 Tbl olive oil

13 cloves garlic - 3 minced, 8 whole

3 carrots diced

1 sweet onion diced

1 red pepper diced

1 small butternut squash

2 cups french lentils (the small black ones, they are actually speckled but these are the best kind because they hold their shape and don't turn to mush!)

3 cups thinly chopped fresh spinach

1/4 tsp ground mustard

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1/4 tsp ground sage

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 chipotle powder

3 Tbl *no chicken soup base bullion (or sub the water for veggie broth)

10 cups water* or veggie broth

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

**Optional toppings: diced fresh avocado, sliced scallions, fresh squeezed lime, tortilla chips

First up, roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 425. Slice the top and bottom of the squash off and then slice it long ways down the middle, remove the seeds and turn them face down onto a baking pan. Place 4 cloves of garlic in the well of each half of squash and add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Roast the squash for 30 min. If a knife tip easily pierces the squash, it's ready, otherwise roast for an additional 10-15 min. Let cool and peel off the skin. Some will easily peel by hand, other parts are easily removed with a pairing knife. Diced into small pieces once peeled and set aside in a bowl

In a large soup pot saute the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot and red pepper until onion begins to turn translucent. Add all the spices and stir well for 1-2min. Add the lentils, water and bullion (or veggie stock if substituting).  Bring to a boil and add squash. Simmer for 30 min or until lentils are cooked through.  Add fresh chopped spinach and simmer another 5-10min.

Serve hot with toppings of your choice or a side of fresh baked bread!

Announcing the Tumbler Club!

It's been a long time coming....and it's time to stop over-thinking and just take the leap!  Today I'm launching my first monthly subscription in the form of a Tumbler Club!  Here's how it plays out:

1. Choose your subscription (4,6,8 or 12 months) FREE SHIPPING IN THE USA!

2. Your tumblers will be sent out the first week of each month (starting with April) .

Sneak Peek of April tumblers. Click to shop!

Sneak Peek of April tumblers. Click to shop!

3. Look forward to receiving really cool clay cups in the mail and at the end of your subscription you'll have an eclectic collection of one of a kind hand made pottery tumblers!

This is the perfect gift for:

  • YOURSELF : if you love getting packages in the mail as much as I do
  • A FRIEND: who loves handmade pottery
  • YOU & A FRIEND or 2! : who says you have to keep all the tumblers for yourself! 

What keeps it interesting is you never know what that clay cup will look like!  (although I'm giving you a sneak peek at April........) As the potter, this 'surprise' element will allow me the artistic freedom to continue to be inspired by nature and the world around me so that each tumbler is infused with creativity and love!  I can't wait to see what comes out each month!

For those of you who read all the way to the end of this post, I've got a special offer just for you!  Use Code: FRIEND at checkout and receive $15 off your subscription! (offer good through March 31, 2016) Click the bunny tumbler pic to zip over to our Shopping page. So what are you waiting for?