Last call for the summer sun and last call for the 2-smoothie-a-day summer we will soon be putting behind us. (I think, will this heat ever end??) But before the summer sun sets, and my blender gets a little well-deserved R&R, there's still time to raise a smoothie glass to this heatwave summer to remember and celebrate the cool fall days ahead of us. My Photo Summer Smoothie Tribute...
The term 'heatwave' has new meaning to me after the triple-digit-heavy summer we've been having here in NYC.
As a girl from the cool coast of Northern California, I'm usually pretty amused by the twisting, turning seasonal weather of the east coast. One flint of snow flurries and I start skipping down the street like I've never seen snow before. One bolt of lightening and my eyes become wide with wonder. Triple digits on my Mac dashboard weather monitor and I sink into my chair in a over dramatic melting motion.
But this past year has dragged me out of the 'seasonal weather' kiddie pool and pushed me off the high-dive board and straight into the deep end of the 'weather pool'.
After a crazy winter of snow up to my waist and this summer which I lovingly refer to as the "two smoothie a day" summer. I am ready for a cool, crisp fall filled with brisk apple/chestnut-pumpkin scented breezes, muffins baking in a warm stove, hot soy cocoa and forecasts where puffy sweaters, boots and scarves are the 'heavy duty' preparations needed to head out into the mild, refreshing air.
But fall is still a month away, so why not soak in the summer sun while you can. Soak it up and sip a few smoothies or ogle my smoothie photos below. Get my vegan smoothie IPhone App and stay cool and healthy.
Summer speeds on by. But instead of grabbing a MrSoftee treat (pic below), why not grab a smoothie. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you. (My Smoothie Photo Tribute below)
HHL Summer Smoothie Tribute...
*All smoothie recipes can be found on the Smoothies IPhone App or in the Smoothies recipe index*
Acai Soy Blueberry:
Peachy Lychee Daiquiri:
Pink Cashew Juice Smoothie:
Calm Chamomile Tea Smoothie:
AM Kickstart Wild Blueberry Acai Smoothie:
Chocolate Strawberry Banana Shake:
Totally Tropical Citrus Smoothie:
Frosty Pink Lemonade:
Almond Banana Energy Shake:
Red White Blue Smoothie:
AM Kickstart Wild Blueberry Acai Smoothie:
Ever wonder what it's like to try out for Food Network's Next Food Network Star reality TV show at an Open Call?? Find out! My timeline, commentary and pics from today's NFNS Open Call in New York City...
I am a big fan of Food network. My one wish: more vegan programming. So why not take matters into my own hands, right?
Is it time for a Food Network Star to be... dare I say ... vegan? I think this Subway platform speaks for itself...
...Step aside Giada. Move over bobby. Watch out Rachel. Vegan foodie on a mission here!
I am a loyal NFNS watcher. I even live-blogged it the season that Melissa d'Arabian won. I even posted blogs commentating on Melissa's recipes. Melissa was listening. She emailed me and we even met up for a few sit down meals at one point. I went with her to Pure Food and Wine (raw, vegan, ahem) .. she loved it!
See my Breakfast with Melissa here. So awesome to meet her! She is truly a star. I want that to be ME! ..a little voice inside me said. But first you have to try out...
So why the cheesy pasta cover image? Well, my point: what person (vegan or not) wouldn't want to taste this Cheesy Vegan Pasta w/ Harissa Cashew Cheese spread on sprouted grain toast?...
And vegan food can be elegant too. Check out my Cashew Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Saffron Rice.
NYC NFNS Open Call Aug 30 2010 - 10am - 3pm
5:30am I awoke startled in my bed to a very vivid dream...
...I was late for the NFNS Open Call and when I finally arrived Bobby Flay, Bob Tuschman and a few other Food Network big wigs were having brunch upstairs at a restaurant. I ran up the steps and Bobby said "You're too late! We've already decided!" He tossed his head back and he laughed and laughed his bright Bobby chuckle. I pleaded with him, but he ignored me and they all just kept laughing! Then I woke up...
Just a dream. Whew! I squinted at the clock which said only 5:38am. Woo Hoo, I'm up! So instead of going back to sleep and risk having my dream become a true nightmare - I got up and took my time getting ready.
6:30am Ready. Should I leave now? The auditions start at 10am. Hmm. I decided to leave at around 7am. My bag was ready and packed. Last year I left the audition early (well after waiting 2-3+ hours) read that sad story here. So this year I was prepared for the worst: a long day. In my NFNS Essentials audition bag...
-Coconut Water? Check!
-Vegan cupcake? Check!
-Raw Cashews. Check!
-Ginger Chews? Check!
-Book to read? Check!
-Big "Vegan Food is Fun" Smile? Check!
I actually only ended up chugging the water, a ginger chew and a few cashews. I never even grabbed my book or IPod. But better safe than sorry.
7am Kissed my husband and kitty a groggy early morning goodbye, ran out the door and walked a few long blocks to Union Square where I hailed a cab to get me the rest of the way uptown.
The Open Call was around 53rd st, East side...
I arrived at Sutton Place, a bar, where the Open Call was held. Last year the Open Call was at a cramped CBS studios. Everyone sprawled out on the floor. At least here there were bar stools!
Hopped out of my cab, and I didn't even have to look at the sign (which was covered by scaffolding) - I knew this was the place by the staggered line of folks. Not too long at all. I cheerfully hopped in line and glanced at the clock. 7:45am. Wowsers. Over 2 hours to go! Pace yourself Kathy.
My view as I waited in line outside...
8am-9:30am Waiting was not fun. But thank goodness the first 20 or so of us in line were under scaffolding so it was super shady and cool. It is predicted to be a 95 degree day here in NYC.
So I stood and leaned against the metal columns with only my blackberry and bag of goodies by my side. A few of the other applicants brought friends, family and even chairs. Smarties. I had my Blackberry - and was able to Tweet and Facebook to my heart's delight.
THANK YOU to everyone who sent me an @reply on Twitter with words of encouragement. I read every single one and they really helped my confidence as I stood there in line dreaming up my "Vegan Pitch" for the interview. Really, thanks guys. Made my morning worth it.
I know it is a one in a million shot that I will get a callback let alone get on the show - but I'm glad I pitched a vegan *POV* point of view to someone special on the Food Network staff.
My goal: I want FN to know that the demand for veg*n recipes is alive and well! Vegan is a healthy, happy choice for kids, adults, families, college students and the planet and the animals on it. *Hops off soapbox*
Many of my HHL blog readers are not and may never be 'vegan' and that's OK! I know in my heart that so many people are vegan curious or as Alicia Silverstone says, "Vegan Flirts". So lets give those flirts what they are craving: easy vegan recipes to give a try. It never hurts to try...
Food Network is ready too. Last night I watched VEG Iron Chef.... a few weeks ago a vegan cupcake won on Cupcake Wars .. and now I hope there is soon a vegan NFNS contestant. *hops off final soapbox*
9:30am OK, so after many minutes of rambling in my head about what I was going to say in the interview - finally we were let inside. I then realized I was #16 on the list. Yippee! 16 is great. I should be home by noon! Glad I arrived early.
I sat down at a stool and overheard the girl in front of me say she worked at Candle 79 at one point. WHaa?!! Am I hearing things? I looked her straight in the eye with a smirk on my face and said...
"Are you vegan?" I asked.
"Excuse me?" she said.
I spoke up, "Are you vegan?!" I may have shouted just a little I was so excited.
"Yes!" She looked at me with big happy eyes.
"Me too!" I replied.
It was total kismet. Her name was Tracy and we were BOTH vegans. Nice. We chatted about vegan dining, vegan reality shows (and lack of them) and all about how we 100% believe a vegan needs to be on the NFNS show. Either one of us would do. Tracy, if you are reading this, I hope your audition went well and I hope they pick us both. :)
So that was fun. There were a few other fun people in line - all with a definite passion for food. And dogs, mind you. Animal lovers and food lovers. I love that.
10am In groups of three, they started calling folks in. Yikes!
10:25am My vegan friend Tracy went in. My group of three was next.
10:30am Called in. up the winding stairs I climbed to a large room where 2 girls sat - both on opposite ends of the room. I was told to walk over to a cheery blonde girl with a big smile and bright eyes.
"Hi!" She said. I sat down, and so it began...
Basically we chatted. My voice was shaking and I started ranting about my website. Then I decided to just take a deep breath and talk from the heart. I did. So no matter what, I hope my passion for vegan food, teaching people and bringing vegan recipes to mainstream kitchens came through. We will see.
At least my voice was heard.
And as quickly as I walked up the stairs, I was out in a flash. Out the door and it was only 11am. Wow. As I left I heard someone by the door say they had #68 and then a #81. And there was still a looooooong line outside wrapping around the building.
My post-Open Call treat?
A smoothie at Pure Food and Wine takeaway of course. I hopped on the 6 train, got off at Union Square and strolled over to OLD for my treat. I also bought some spicy cashews and Cheesy Quackers. Both soooo good. Spicy cashews were new to me. Loved them. Big chunky bag. Bliss.
Best Strawberry Blonde smoothie ever. I think it was gulped down before I even crossed the street.
Moi, well deserved treat smoothie...
Last stop, the Farmer's Market at Union Square...
I grabbed a few goodies at the Farmer's Market, which was bustling. Then I treated myself to a cab home - ran up the steps to my apt and started writing this post.
Good. Busy. Long Day.
Thanks again for sharing in my adventure everyone. I love my blog, my readers and the big wide vegan world ahead of me.
Kathy, NFNS... (a girl can dream, right?)
Dessert Special this evening... "Watermelon Custard." Oh yes.
For the first time this summer I indulged in a big bowl of watermelon - and the first thing that came to my mind: why didn't I do this sooner?! How did I wait until the last month of summer to munch on this red, juicy, hydrating seasonal fruit treat?
...I'll blame the idea of having to hull a giant heavy watermelon home to my walk-up apartment. Thank you Trader Joe's delivery!
Watermelon Custard. As I nibbled on chunks of chilled watermelon from a giant bowl I decided that if I didn't do something with it soon, it would all end up in my tummy. So feeling creative, and still on my "summer custard" kick, I decided to try Watermelon Custard. Lets see how it goes, shall we...
Why Watermelon? Nutrition Facts! Watermelon is very low in calories and incredibly hydrating. One cup of watermelon contains only 46 calories and about 20% RDA of vitamins A and C. One cup also contains 5% RDA of potassium. Watermelon is sweet yet mild. Hydrating, yet big on chew/juicy crunch appeal.
Summer Watermelon is Lovely. Watermelon wedges crisp and chilled in the fridge after a long day in the sun = ultimate refreshment. Eat watermelon raw, marinated with lime and mint, in a cashew cheese salad or juiced into a glass! Or you can try this...
Vegan Custard. This is a silken tofu pudding that I added agar agar flakes to so that if firms up into a custard-like texture. This recipe could easily be poured into a pie shell - or eaten as a parfait. You could even stick it in the freezer for 'frozen custard'.
...Since this custard is so light and healthy - you could easily eat this for breakfast with some muesli, granola and/or raw nuts and seeds folded in. Yum!
Taste Test: Yes this custard was super light. I served it with some crumbled crusty vanilla cookies for a parfait-ish feel. I loved the hint of zesty citrus. The maple syrup was light and delicate. If you want an intenser sweetness, add in 1/4 cup of dry sugar to the boiling mixture.
And as I tasted, I knew how exactly what my "breakfast bowl" would be the next day... watermelon tofu custard, vegan granola, raw cashews, pumpkin seeds and some chopped fresh peaches on top. Can't wait.
vegan, makes 5 cups
3 cups pureed seedless watermelon (about 6 cups chopped)
1 pack of silken tofu (16 ounces)
3 lemons or 4 limes, squeezed
2 tsp sea salt (I used pink salt)
1/3 cup soy milk or water + 2 Tbsp agar agar (opt'l but end texture will be thinner)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread, coconut milk OR coconut oil (opt'l)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract (opt'l)
Sweeter version: add in 1/2 cup of dry sugar
1. Puree your watermelon in a food processor until smooth. Measure out about 3 cups.
2. If using agar agar: Heat your water or soy milk in a large pot. Dissolve your agar agar in the liquid. This should take about 2-3 minutes of boiling.
3. Pour 1/2 the watermelon mixture into the pot (heat still on) and the other 1/2 back into the food processor. Add the silken tofu into the food processor and blend on high until smooth. Add in the maple syrup, salt, lemon or lime juice, cornstarch and vanilla.
4. Stir the heated liquid continuously - bring to a boil. Then add in the tofu/watermelon mixture. If using, add in the vegan butter or coconut oil. So now everything will be well blended and boiling in the stove top pot over med-high heat. Continue heating for 2-3 minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Pour into your serving container - or re-puree in your food processor one last time for a silky-smooth texture.
6. Chill in fridge for at least a few hours. Serve chilled.
Last night the sunset in New York City was amazing! I was sitting in my living room when the windows in the building across the street suddenly turned a glowing pink color - I turned to my husband and said "Is that the sunset?!"
Like any good photographer, I grabbed my camera and ran up to my roof. Here are my pretty pink and glowing orange NYC sunset photos.
NYC Photography Break. And no, this post has nothing to do with food. But who doesn't enjoy a pretty NYC sunset? If you need a food-quip, I was munching on my baked cashew cheese mid-sunset. Nice. See my photos..
Two sets of NYC Sunset Photos below.
UPDATED 8/28/2010: More Sunset Pics! These are taken seaside! Well, Hudson-side.
"Sea-Side" Sunset NYC
PART TWO "Roof Sunset NYC" below..
Photos below taken on downtown NYC rooftop on Aug 18th 2010
Downtown Rooftop Sunset, facing west, NYC:
I wanted to make a Spinach Dip that I felt good about eating. And most classic Spinach Dip recipes contain a lot more than just spinach. And most of the "other ingredients" would make Popeye cringe, cover his squinted eyes and shout "Whoa!" in his rusty Popeye voice.
Lets make Popeye proud, shall we?...
Spinach Spinach Dip. I love the "spinach" part of spinach dip. Lots of spinach means lots of nutrients. And lots of guilt-free snacking. Just think: one giant 16 oz. bag of frozen spinach has only 125 calories and is packed with iron, potassium, vitamins, 15g of protein and 15g of fiber.
So how do I put the spinach back in the Dip???
Can a "Vegan Spinach Dip" recipe still be creamy, chunky, dippable and party-worthy? Oh yes it can...
Classic Spinach Dip isn't so vegan-friendly. As I perused the google-sphere of spinach Dip recipes the main ingredients of note were:
*spinach (thank goodness)
*cheese (lots of it)
*mayo (gobs of it)
*bread bowl or crusty bread blended into dip
*assorted veggies: scallions, water chestnuts, artichokes
So I played in the kitchen all morning on a quest for my perfect spinach dip recipe. After many tweaks here is my end result. Well actually three end results. My three "Spinach Dip" variations are:
1) Bean-y Spinach Dip: This route keeps my basic recipe in tact - only you add in a can of white kidney beans, aka cannellini beans. The beans add a creamier texture and a savory smooth flavor that cuts the brightness of the original spinach dip recipe. Plus the beans add protein, fiber and other healthy nutrients. You can use the "bean-y" method for any of the methods below.
2) Easy: For the "I need this dip in 5 minutes" crowd. No baking required. Simply blend, sprinkle on some vegan cheese and pop in the microwave for a minute or two to heat the dip and melt the top cheese. Easy. Delicious. Yes you can add beans - but you don't have to.
Quickie "Easy" Method:
3) "Cheez"-y: For the cheese lovers out there. You simply fold in another handful of cheese to your finished dip. Then heat in micro or bake. Your dip will be extra decadent and cheesy.
4) Slow Baked/Broiled: For that bubbly brown crusty cheese top. You can use cheez-y, bean-y or classic dip versions, add the cheese on top and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven on broil for 3-4 minutes to broil the top cheese layer. Super gourmet-looking and oh-so-yummy. The baked spinach dip is my favorite.
Spinach Sandwich. You could easily add this dip to a pita, kind of like you would hummus. Or spread it on sandwich bread. Call is a spinach dip sandwich. Add in some crunchy shredded carrots, diced tomatoes and a yummy spinach sandwich pita is served!
Yes! I think I put the "spinach" back in spinach dip...
Recipe Note on Optional Ingredients. A spinach dip is very easy to customize. So I basically achieved a basic recipe then added various flavor accents to the dip. You don't need to add all the optional ingredients - and you may want to toss in a few of your own ideas like water chestnuts, scallions or artichoke hearts. My version was quite bright, spinach-y and tasty.
For my optional ingredients, I added in the red pepper flakes and worchestershire sauce for a nice hint of flavor/heat. I also added in a small handful of rice crackers to thicken my dip just a tad. These are optional though.
Vegan Spinach Dip
vegan, makes about 5-6 cups
16 oz. organic frozen spinach, thawed
3 cloves of garlic and/or 1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or more lemon juice)
1 cup 'quick-soaked' raw cashews
1/2 cup raw parsley
1 cup raw arugula
2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1-2 Tbsp Vegenaise Spread or drizzle of EVOO (opt'l)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Topping: Sprinkle of Vegan White Cheese (Daiya)
More on Variations:
**My Favorite is adding the beans --> Bean-y: Add 1 can cannellini beans, drained
Cheez-y: fold in 1/4 cup Daiya vegan white cheese
Spicy: 1-2 Tbsp red pepper flakes, harissa or 1-2 tsp cayenne
Kicked up: 1 Tbsp vegan Worchestershire sauce
Thickener: Add a handful of rice crackers to thicken the texture a bit. Baking will also firm up the texture a bit by drying it out.
1. Thaw your spinach. I do this quickly by soaking bag in warm water.
2. Quick-soak your cashews in hot salted water - for about 20 minutes. This will soften them a bit to ease the blending process.
3. Add all your ingredients (not beans or cheese) to a food processor. Blend until smooth. You can then pulse in the beans (if adding). If adding additional cheese, fold that into the dip. Do a taste test and adjust seasoning to suit your preferences.
4. Pour spinach dip into a heat-safe serving dish. Top with a sprinkle of cheese (this is optional, cheese-free is perfectly delicious too). If you are in a hurry you can use the microwave "heat and serve" version. Otherwise, I recommend the slow bake/broil version as described above.
5. Heat/broil in oven as described above and remove to cool for a minute. Serve warm with veggie sticks, bread squares and rice crackers.
Serve! Many more photos below. Dive in and get inspired for spinach!...