Red Hot Bruschetta!


Last night I made this Red Hot Bruschetta for my "Red Carpet" Oscar Party. Spicy sweet flavors in vibrant color tones of red. Roasted red peppers, fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, spicy red harissa, healthy extra virgin olive oil and a hint of zesty lemon juice.

Bruschetta is an easy elegant appetizer that you can whip up in a snap. Add a platter of this bruschetta to your coffee table and turn your casual night at home into something swanky...

This Red Hot Bruschetta is spicy-sweet with tons of flavor. Plus this bite is quite healthy since it is made with fresh ingredients, lots of garlic and heart-healthy olive oil. Dive in!

Red Carpet Ready Red Hot Bruschetta
makes 6 pieces

2 cloves garlic, peeled/sliced thin
5 baby or cherry tomatoes, diced
1 large roasted red pepper, sliced thin
handful of fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp spicy harissa (or sub with red pepper flakes or cayenne)
dash of ground black pepper
dash of salt
1/4 a baguette, sliced into 3/4″ rounds (enough for 6 slices)
olive oil for toasting bread

Directions:

1. Toast the bread in a splash of olive oil until the edges crisp and brown. Set aside.

2. Chop your ingredients. Combine in a bowl.

3. Plate your bruschetta by spooning a Tbsp of mixture over each bread slice. Serve! Pour extra mixture in a separate bowl with a spoon or make a few more rounds.

More of my bruschetta recipes to try:
Mango Pepper Bruschetta (tomato free!)
Sunshine Bruschetta
Shiitake Balsamic Mushroom Bruschetta




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Academy Awards Nominee-Inspired Menu. Yay Movies!


Here is my Academy Awards Nominee-Inspired Menu. Black Swan Cupcakes, The Social Network Spicy Appletini and more. Find out which recipes I pair with my favorite nominated flicks..

I adore the Academy Awards! I am a huge fan of film. Movies not only entertain us, but transform the way we see the world and interact in it. It's just a movie. But it's so much more. You could actually say the same thing about food! It's just food. But it's so much more.

So in tribute to my favorite nominees this year, I give you a few recipe selections - and a dash of my film commentary..

Academy Awards Nominee-Inspired Menu

*pick and choose from the movie-inspired recipes below to add some fun to your Oscar viewing party!*

Beverage: "The Social Network" Spicy Appletini
Appetizer: "Inception" Avo-Beet-Pea Shoot Salad
Entree: "True Grit" Spicy Vegan Chili paired with Buttery-Maple Cornbread
Entree: "The Kids Are All Right" Broccoli Cheese Pizza
Soup: "Rabbit Hole" Carrot Ginger Soup
Side: "Fighter" Savory Roasted Crispy Taters
Fun Snack: "Toy Story 3" Sticky Sweet Popcorn Balls
Dessert: "Black Swan" Cupcakes
Post-Meal Hot Bevie: "Winter's Bone" Minty Creme Cocoa

1. Black Swan, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Black and White Black Swan Cupcakes
Thoughts: I adored this ballerina-gone-bad, edgy, artistic flick. My prediction is that Natalie has the "best actress" category in the bag. Natalie probably didn’t gobble up cupcakes while she was training for her role. Tights, tutus and toe shoes don’t always mix with butter-cream frosting. But now that Natalie is a glowing, pregnant, mom-to-be, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind grabbing a few of these frosted delights – she deserves it!

2. The Social Network, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Spicy Appletini
Thoughts: I loved this movie because it is so timely. My favorite lines: "Mark, you're not an asshole. You just try so hard to be." and "Mark, dating you is like dating a Stairmaster." I hope The Social Network wins best picture. And in the movie, there is a memorable scene where it's "Apple-tinis all around" - thus my inspired bevie.

3. The Fighter, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Game-On Savory Roasted Taters
Thoughts: I've never actually been to a fight. But I imagine that at fights, they serve fried, crispy, finger foods. French fries, onion rings and such. Well here's my version of those eats. These savory crispy oven-roasted potatoes are full of spicy/savory/bold/fight-worthy flavor.

4. True Grit, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Vegan Chili paired with Buttery Maple Corn Bread
Thoughts: Though I haven't seen True Grit yet I can only imagine the cowboy-influenced western fare they dine on in the movie. And hearty slow-cooked beans get my vote here. This spicy, chunky vegan chili is perfectly gritty fare.

5. Inception, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Avocado Beet Pea Shoot Salad
Thoughts: Inception was a fun movie. Definitely a little dizzying with the special effects - but I love anything with Leo. This salad is a little "3D" inspired itself with its jutting green avocado and beet edges, laced with whimsical pea shoots.

6. Toy Story 3, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Sticky Sweet Popcorn Balls
Thoughts: If you are watching a movie - there must be popcorn. And instead of a giant tub of popcorn, for your Oscar party lets make these sticky sweet popcorn balls. Dainty and delicious. You can nibble a popcorn ball in even the sparkliest of Oscar dresses. This recipe is very kid-friendly - thus why I paired it with Toy Story 3. And btw, who knew animation could be so tragic (yet lovely and hilarious)? I was a mess when watching this flick. Waterworks. Fabulous movie.

7. Winter's Bone, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Minty Creme Cocoa
Thoughts: Have yet to see this film. But the title just sounds so chilling that an icy Peppermint Hot Cocoa mug seems like the perfect pairing.

8. Rabbit Hole,
Best Actress Nominee
The Recipe: Spicy Ginger Carrot Soup
Thoughts: Rabbits, carrots. ..Perfect. This twisted tragic tale deserves a warm, cozy, carrot, bunny-inspired soup.

9. The King's Speech,
Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Biscuits
Thoughts: Crumpets, digestives, scones, biscuits. These remind me of jolly old England. Thus why I added these tasty biscuits to my menu. Soft and tender with a hint of peppery spice. And I'm still on the fence about seeing The King's Speech. Anyone want to convince me??

10. The Kids Are All Right, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Cheesy Broccoli Pizza
Thoughts: Pizza is a perfect entree for your Oscar viewing party. But why not choose a kid-friendly pizza like this easy broccoli-cheese combo.

11. 127 Hours, Best Picture Nominee
The Recipe: Cheesy Spinach Dip
Thoughts: I want to see 127 Hours. But my movie-watching companion (aka my husband) won't see for it. It's the whole arm-chopping-off thing that terrifies him. I can't imagine why!.. So yes, hiking reminds me of healthy foods like spinach. So here is a lovely cheesy vegan spinach dip to add to your menu.

..or try my Red Carpet Ready Red Hot Bruschetta!!

Happy Oscar Night!! Which film are you rooting for??..




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Coconut-Maple Cream Cashew-Chai Pancakes!


Up early, like watch-the-sunrise early, I made these amazing Coconut Cream Cashew-Chai Pancakes.

..because when one wakes up early on a Saturday, One must make pancakes. I think it's a rule.

No boring pancakes today thank you. These are luscious, coconut-maple-cream-filled, pillowy-stacked, cashew-studded, chai-essenced, coconut-dusted, kamut pancakes.

I used a Kamut grain vegan pancake mix - I adore kamut. And these are easy! Lets put it this way, I got out of bed at 8am and was photographing these babies by 8:30. Fast and yummy for a happy Saturday morning feast...









Kamut. I am in love with kamut pasta - so I decided to try kamut pancake mix. It has the same texture and consistency as a buckwheat pancake - perhaps a tad lighter. I was very impressed with the nutty sweet flavor of the pancakes. You can use any pancake mix you'd like. The one I used (Arrowhead Mills) basic ingredients: kamut flour, baking powder, dry soy milk powder, salt. 6g protein and 2g fat and good stuff like 8% RDA of iron and 20% RDA of calcium per 1/4 cup mix.

Then comes the coconut-maple cream filling. I used light coconut milk and made a stove-top thickened creamy sauce. A generous dose of maple syrup and cinnamon and suddenly my basic kamut pancakes become dessert-inspired and dreamy.

Speaking of inspiration..
I must say the reason I came up with this creation was because I had been ogling Steamy Kitchen's Tiramisu Pancakes post for quite some time now. Fluffy pancakes stacked high with a creamy tiramisu filling - dusted with cocoa. So I decided to do my own vegan version of stacked and cream-filled pancakes.

Get my recipe..

Coconut Cream Cashew-Kamut Pancakes

Pancakes
1 cup Kamut Pancake Mix
1/2 cup almond milk, plain
1/2 cup chai tea concentrate (or sub with more almond milk + 1 Tbsp sweetener)
2 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
dash of cinnamon
1/3 cup roasted/salted cashews
2 Tbsp oil (I used grape seed, canola works well too)

Coconut Cream
1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
dash of salt
1 Tbsp corn starch
4-5 Tbsp maple syrup

dusting: raw unsweetened coconut shreds

Directions:

1. Make your coconut sauce by dissolving corn starch into the light coconut milk. Add in the cinnamon and maple syrup as well. Heat in a soup pot - constantly stirring until thickened. I like to run a beater through my sauce to make it extra light and silky. Pour into a dish and chill in the fridge until needed. I like my sauce to thicken up a tad in the fridge - but still stay loose enough to drizzle nicely on the pancakes.



2. Next up you need to mix your pancake mix in a large bowl. Fold int he nuts. Then grease a sauce pan and start cooking your pancakes over a medium flame. If your pan is too hot the pancakes may burn more than you'd like. Transfer pancakes to paper towel to cool for stacking.



3. Assembling your stack is fun! First do a light dusting of coconut shreds. I use raw unsweetened organic coconut shreds. Then add one pancake, a dollop of coconut cream from the fridge and repeat until three layers have been created...





4. Top with coconut. Serve warm!


















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The Best Vegan Lunch Sandwich in NYC?..


I've searched all over downtown NYC and to me, the "Vegan Angelique" from Cafe Angelique in NoHo is one of the best vegan lunch sandwiches to be found. I simply had to share this sandwich inspiration with you guys. See what's in it and how you can try and replicate it in your own kitchen!..

I skipped over to Cafe Angelique today. Not even the windy rain could get between me and my vegan sandwich craving.

I've tried and tasted a wide variety of lunchtime sandwiches here in NYC. A few faves include the Hummus Sandwich from Murrays, the Smokycado wrap from Blossom du Jour, the Cauliflower Chickpea wrap from *Snice, the Mushroom Health Sandwich from Aroma, the Black Bean Hummus Tartine from Le Pain Quotidien, the "Vegan Sandwich" from Think Coffee, the vegan BLT from Teany, my fave vegan dosa food cart guy and I could go on and on. But hands down, my favorite vegan lunch sandwich (well, for today anyways) is the "Vegan Angelique".

It's like a giant salad stuffed into a sandwich.

I love it because it is stuffed with good stuff! Avocado, sprouts, a huge handful of baby greens, tomato, olive tapenade, olive-oil fried/breaded eggplant, zucchini and a hint of basil pesto spread. (And yes, I've asked several times to make sure the pesto is vegan. They always say yes.) All the ingredients are piled between two soft slices of Seven Grain Bread. They always make my sandwich fresh and lightly toast it for me. Yum!

I always get my sandwich at the NoHo location. So I can't vouch for the sandwich from the other locations.

Make it! You can easily make this sandwich at home. Start off with good, fresh 7-grain sandwich bread. Add whatever veggies you'd like then those two secret ingredients seem to be the olive tapenade and the pesto spread. Also, that thinly sliced and sauteed breaded eggplant and zucchini.

Try making it with my vegan Cheesy Walnut Pesto Spread.
Or my Lemon-y Pesto Spread.
Or my Spicy Rockstar Pesto recipe.

This vegan sandwich just rocks.



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Black Swan Cupcakes! Vegan Chocolate and Vanilla.


I'm loving my vegan Black Swan Cupcakes I created to celebrate the upcoming Academy Awards festivities. Because real ballerinas eat cupcakes.

Black and White. Good and Evil. Dark and Light. Which swan/cupcake are you? Double chocolate for the black swans out there and double vanilla for the gentle white swans. Or maybe you are feeling a bit twisted like Natalie did in the movie. Go with a choco-vanilla swirl. I dare you.

Black and White Cupcakes
vegan, makes one dozen

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1 1/4 cups vanilla hemp (or soy) milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Add-in for cocoa cupcakes:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp instant coffee

Vanilla Frosting:
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup soy cream cheese
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Add-in for chocolate frosting:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp instant coffee
1/3 cup melted chocolate chips

toppings: coconut and white sprinkles, chocolate shreds/sprinkles

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or thoroughly grease your cupcake tin.

2. Cream together your vegan butter, cream cheese, vanilla, salt and coconut milk for your frosting. Add in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. Divide the white frosting into two separate bowls. Add the chocolate add-in ingredients to the second bowl – (gently melt the chocolate chips before folding in). Place both frosting bowls in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

3. Mix up by hand, your white cupcake batter. Divide the batter into two bowls, and in the second bowl, add in the chocolate batter additions (cocoa powder, coffee). Fill your cupcake tine. You can do swirled colors, straight-up colors or a fun mix of all.

4. Bake your cupcakes at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Or until the edges start to brown.

5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

6. Frost cupcakes, add cocoa shreds and coconut shreds as you’d like.

Enjoy more photos below!..
























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Vegan Lemon Curd on Lemon Poppyseed Muffins


It's a lemon-lovers party as I dot deliciously creamy Vegan Lemon Curd on lovely Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.

Every time I wander into a gourmet store and see a tiny sweet jar of Lemon Curd, I grab it and read the ingredients label hoping that by some miracle, someone will have invented vegan Lemon Curd to be sold in stores. But alas, the butter and egg-filled delicate lemon-y spread is never, ever vegan. Until now! And if I would've known how easy vegan lemon curd could be, I would've made it a long time ago and saved myself the longing.

Oh, and I've paired this spread with a delightful batch of Lemon Poppyseed Muffins!..

Lemon Curd Goes Vegan..


lemon poppyseed muffins..




Lemon Extract recipe note: you'll notice that each of my recipes calls for an optional dash of lemon extract. This adds an extra boost of lemony flavor - but is totally optional. I like it in the muffins, but for the curd it is very optional.

Vegan Lemon Curd Spread
makes 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup soy milk, plain
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp corn starch (updated amount)
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
5 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
pinch of salt
optional: 1/8 tsp lemon extract

Directions:

1. In a soup pan, dissolve the corn starch in the cold soy milk and water.

2. Turn heat to medium-high and continuously stir the mixture. Add in the buttery spread, lemon juice and sugar and continue to stir until mixture starts to bubble and thicken.

3. Reduce heat to low and beat with a hand-held beater for about 90 seconds.

4. Transfer mixture to serving dish and refrigerate until chilled.

5. Store in fridge and eat in 2-3 days.

Serving Suggestions: Spread over muffins, pancakes, waffles, dollop onto oatmeal or wheat porridge. Spread over toast or fill freshly baked vanilla cupcakes.



Lemon Ginger Poppyseed Muffins
vegan, makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup vegan buttery spread OR canola oil + 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 cup plain soy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2/3 cup sugar + some for sprinkling on top
1/4-1/2 tsp lemon extract (opt'l)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients. Fold well by hand.

2. Pour batter into lined or greased muffin tins.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. Cool. Serve!








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Vegan Lunchbox: Easy Hummus Spiral Wraps.


These Easy Hummus Spiral Wraps are the perfect lunchbox filler to pack for yourself, your kids or your spouse. I call these snazzy spirals "lunchbox lavash" because they are made with lavash wrap - a type of roll-able, thin wheat flat bread.

And this recipe doesn't get any easier. Just spread, roll and slice your way to a happy lunchbox.

Fun Finger Food. These dainty spirals remind me of being at a party or a wedding (remember how trendy these were back in the 90's?) I do! But back then they were filled with turkey, creamy cheese or mayo spreads and maybe a few veggies. So I've veganized. Get this easy recipe and make it your own!..







Like I said, make this recipe your own! The basic concept is that the hummus bean spread is your "glue" and your filling ingredients make the recipe! You can add anything and everything your hungry tummy desires: lettuce, carrots, avocado, peppers, onions, edamame, spinach, fennel, radishes, corn, tahini, olive oil, a splash of vinegar or lemon juice, thinly sliced tofu or whatever you want.

You can keep the roll long if you'd like, but really the fun part is slicing it up into little bites - they kinda remind me of veggie-Americana sushi rolls.

Healthy too! Each lavash wrap has 220 calories, 8g protein and is fat free. Fill them with healthy veggies and legumes and you are "on a roll" ..sorry, I had to.

Super easy, just toss those ingredients on, roll and slice!..


The last time I made these wraps I did Bullseye Spiral Wraps (soy cream cheese and roasted red peppers) super yummy. And here's the recipe I used today..

Today's Easy Hummus Spiral Wrap Ingredients:

2-3 Tbsp Roasted Red Pepper Spread
handful of shredded carrots
handful of baby spinach
splash of lemon juice/olive oil
fresh ground pepper
edamame soy beans
avocado slices

How To:

* Spread the hummus.

* Add the ingredients in a thinly spread layer - distribute evenly.

* Roll up your lavash bread wrap - tightly. Slice into 1 inch thick rounds. Serve.










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