Date Night!

If we were living in a perfect world (and by perfect world I mean a world where every kitchen appliance and gadget was free) I would absolutely, 100% stock my kitchen with just about everything that Viking makes. If I had one of their GORGEOUS gas ranges in my kitchen (instead of my tiny hotplate!!) I don’t think I would ever leave…you could find me glued to my perfect (18,500 BTU) gas range!

Isn’t it amazing!! Ok, enough dreaming- on to the date night! Some of our best friends, Chris and Michelle invited us to join them at one of the best dinner parties I can possibly think of- a date night at the Viking Cooking school, put on by some friends of theirs. Of course, when I heard the words “Chris and Michelle” “Viking” and “date night” in one sentence, I got extremely excited about the night ahead- and for good reason! *side note- we temporarily halted our vegan eating for this wonderful extravaganza!

Our night started with a lovely display of wines, cheeses and Pellegrino (one of my favorite drinks-all natural, no added anything-but still fizzy and special) and then quickly moved in to the appetizer portion of the meal- seared scallops with an apricot-horsradish sauce. Scallops are one of my favorite proteins…and though I got a little nervous when they called the audience up to cook them (scallops are super hard to cook perfectly) they were amazing. Crispy on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside. YUM!

The scallops were definitely my favorite part of the meal- but the most fun part came next! Michelle and I got to help prepare the salad!

It was a light and crisp Mediterranean panzanella. I have tasted panzanella before and honestly not loved it. It was far to bread-y and soggy for my taste- but this one was different. If was FULL of fresh veggies.

We chopped cucumber, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, green onion, fresh mint, basil and parsley. Then we added perfectly toasted pieces of pita (much better than the bread I am use to) and dressed it with a simple lemon juice and olive oil. It was finished with salt and pepper and topped with feta.

Next was Gavin’s turn to play chef. He was asked to help with the main dish- steak with horseradish cream, sautéed spinach and mushrooms and crispy potato wedges.

His job was the spinach and it was unbelievably good!! Why? you might ask…well, it had 2 sticks of butter in it…(way to take one of the world’s most nutritious foods and cover it in saturated fat) but as a special treat- it was totally worth it!!

The meal was followed by not one but two desserts- creamy delicious tiramisu and over the top bananas foster. We got a lesson on flambé and then enjoyed amazing sweets!

All in all, it was a perfect night full of great friends, great conversation, and yummy food!

Posted on January 30, 2012 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
Baked Goods Breakfast Dessert Recipes

Experiments in Vegan Baking

Gavin and I decided to start the year off with a challenge- a cleanse of sorts. We have cut all animal products and sugars out of our diet for 3 weeks- and it has been pretty eye opening! We quickly discovered that our bodies were totally addicted to sugar (the pounding headaches were the give away) and I realized how much I depend on animal protein to make a meal.

I was so excited going into this little adventure. The idea of having to be create meals that Gavin and I both love with absolutely no animal products seemed like a fun challenge- and it has been! Never did I think that my meat loving husband would be so excited about a veggie and tofu scramble or a bowl of slow cooked black beans and rice…but he has been loving it! And I have been loving the wonderful world of vegan cooking blogs.

We are both finding this no-meat way of living to be easier and more enjoyable than expected…but the no added sugar part has left me craving chocolate like a crazy person- so I pulled up two of my favorite vegan blogs and started looking for sweet treats that I could tweak and re-work to fit our dietary perameters.

I made a great adaptation of a recipe from Oh She Glows and another from Chocolate Covered Katie. Maybe its the fact that I haven’t had sugar in a while- but I loved both of the concoctions that were inspired by these two lovely vegan ladies.

Frozen Truffle Bites:
Adapted from these Frosty No-Bake GloCakes

1 large banana, mashed
2 T date butter, recipe below *If you are not concerned about added sugar you can sub this for 1T agave or honey
1 T creamy peanut butter
1 t unsweetened coco powder
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 C quick cook oats
1/2 C puffed brown rice, I use Arrowhead Mills
1/8 C shredded coconut

In a medium bowl combine the mashed banana, date butter, peanut butter, coco powder and salt. Mix until almost smooth. Now, add the oats, puffed rice and coconut. Fold together until everything is covered in the banana mixture. Now, cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil. Make 1 inch (truffle sized) balls of the mixture. Cover the cookie sheet with foil or plastic wrap and place in the freezer to set for about an hour. Once the truffles have set, store them in a zip lock baggie in your freezer.

These little truffle bites turned out amazing! The perfect sweet treat with no added sugar! Of course, if you don’t want to make date butter you can definitely sub it for agave or even honey.

Date Butter:

1 C pitted dates
1 1/2 C water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the water and dates. Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Now, pour the dates and water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Since my frozen truffle bites turned out so yummy, I decided to make another sweet vegan treat courtesy of Chocolate Covered Katie. I found this recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies on her blog…and since they meet our new requirements- I decided to whip up my own version! They have turned out to be the perfect mid-day snack for times when our sweet tooth starts flaring up :) They are more of the consistency of baked oatmeal…so they feel hearty and nutritious at the same time.

Baked Oatmeal- Raisin Cookies
adapted from this recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

1 C quick cook oats
1 C unsweetened apple sauce
2 T peanut butter
2 T date butter
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 C raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large owl, combine the apple sauce, peanut butter, date butter, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Now, gently stir in the oats until moist. Next, fold in the raisins. Place the dough in tablespoon sized dollops on a cooking spray coated baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

Posted on January 27, 2012 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
Main Dishes Recipes Salads Winter

Lentil Salad with Curry-Citrus Vinaigrette

I have said so many times that food allows you to cross cultures and experience the world in just one bite. Traveling and seeing the world first hand is an obvious passion of mine-but, jetting off to the far corners of the earth is not a luxury that everyone has, though I wish that I could do it every day! Gavin and I have had the blessing of being able to see some pretty amazing places and eat some pretty amazing food (and some terrible food) but the world is SO big and SO full of fabulous cultural dishes, that we will never be able to try them all. So- I try to mix it up in the kitchen and bring the world to our table!

Now, this dish is DEFINITELY not a traditional Indian curry dish…or a traditional Ethiopian dish, BUT it is inspired by the flavors of Indian curry and the richness of Ethiopian lentil dishes that I have had recently. It is full of bold flavors and full of nutrition!

I not only love lentils for their meaty texture and versatility (you can cook them forever into a lentil-y mash or boil them until they are slightly al dente and eat them in salads) but they are a nutritional powerhouse!

One cup of lentils has less than 1 gram of fat, only 230 calories 16 grams of fiber (wow!) and 17 grams of protein! They are FULL of folate, magnesium and vitamin B- they help your body to stabilize blood sugar, produce iron and prevent heart disease. (If that’s not a great, food, I don’t know what is)!

So, to spotlight the lentils, and allow them to really shine- I topped cooked them and then topped them with a light and crisp curry citrus dressing and then added the bold flavors of red onion, shaved fennel, fresh oranges and sweet dried cranberries.

This salad highlights the beautiful produce of winter while also leaving you full and satisfied!

Lentil Salad with Curry-Citrus Vinaigrette
serves 4

2 C black lentils
2 t salt
6 C water
1/2 C red onion, shaved thin
1/2 C fresh fennel club, shaved thin
2 navel oranges, peeled with a knife and then segmented
1/4 C dried cranberries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Citrus-Curry Vinaigretta

1 T curry powder
2 t dijon mustard
1 t agave or brown sugar
1 orange, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t tumeric

In a medium pot over high heat, combine the lentils, salt and water. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes (until the lentils are chewy- not mushy!)
Drain all of the water off of the lentils and set aside to cool.

Now, make the vinaigrette. Put all of the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until incorporated.

Pour the dressing over the lentils and toss. Now top the lentils with shaved red onion, shaved fennel, orange segments, cranberries and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Posted on January 25, 2012 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
Baked Goods Recipes

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Around our house, perfectly ripe bananas are like gold! When they reach that optimal level of ripeness- perfectly sweet and easily mashable- its on! Gavin and I race the the fruit bowl in the morning…I want the ripe banana for baking- he wants it to flavor is morning bowl of oats.

This morning, I won! But, being the oh-so-loving wife that I am- I used my prize to whip up one of Gavin’s favorite muffins- Banana Oatmeal Muffins (Basically his banana oats in muffin form!) He tops them with a spread of peanut butter and occasionally a little swirl of honey. YUM!

These muffins are really easy to prepare- really good for you- and can also easily be made into bread (just pour the batter in a greased (with coconut oil) bread pan!

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
makes 12 muffins

2 C oat flour (just grind your oats in the blender)
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 C brown sugar or evaporated cane juice
1 egg
2 T coconut oil
1/2 C milk of choice
1 large very ripe banana
1 small not as ripe banana for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray or rub with coconut oil.

In a large bowl combine the oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, egg, coconut oil and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Now, gently fold in the banana.

Pour the batter into prepared muffin tins. Now, slice your not as ripe banana very thin and top each muffin with a slice of banana.

Bake for 14-18 minutes.

Posted on January 23, 2012 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
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