Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Raisins and Cinnamon (Two Steps)

I guarantee that you haven’t made oatmeal this way before. Since you’re cooking the raisins and the bananas thoroughly but barely cooking the oats, you’re bringing out and developing the natural sugars of the fruit without letting the texture of the oats get mushy and gruel-like. The result is non-pasty oatmeal that doesn’t even need any sweetener.

This oatmeal is warming, flavorful and will leave you full and powered up until lunchtime. It has come through for me ever since I was a busy and newly vegan undergrad who needed a filling breakfast but had zero dollars. Now that it’s chilly outside again, this is the comforting breakfast that I come back to more than any other. 

If you ever buy bananas and they get overripe before getting eaten, just peel them and throw them in the freezer so that you can take them out whenever you want to make this.

Yield: 3 medium or 2 large portions

  • 2 over-ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 cups old fashioned (not quick) oats*
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, sunflower butter, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, optional
  • Optional add-ins/garnishes: chia seeds, hemp hearts, dried coconut, berries, chocolate chips, whatever your heart desires

1. With a potato masher, a fork or your hands, mash the banana up in a small pot. Add the raisins, almond milk, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in peanut butter thoroughly. Then stir in old fashioned oats, optional vanilla extract and any desired add-ins. Cook for just about 30 more seconds, or for a few minutes longer if you like the oats softer.

 

*you can make this with steel-cut oats and it’s delicious, but it takes much longer to cook and requires extra almond milk and more stirring to keep from burning

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Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

A lot of people have heard me talk about this stew. This was the first dish I made when I went vegan, and it helped me go from “I’m probably not going to stick with this life choice, realistically” to “Wow, maybe I can do this.” I wasn’t a chef yet- I was a music teacher and had no idea what I was doing in terms of vegan food.

Since that first time I made this nearly seven years ago, I’ve served it to all kinds of people. I made it to impress the parents of various partners (shoutout if you’re one of those parents or ex-partners) and I made it in my interview with the chef who ended up giving me the prep cook job that lead to be become a chef myself.  It’s always been a crowd pleaser, including among folks with very limited exposure to international foods (let alone West African foods.) It’s just so hearty and soulful and fresh, and it covers all your major food groups (except the tequila food group and the french fry food group), so it feels really filling and nourishing.

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or water + bouillon)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1.5 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced (aprox. two medium sweet potatoes or one huge one)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, washed and torn
  1. Place the rice in a small , covered pot on high heat with one cup of the broth.  Once it’s boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice is about two thirds of the way done (about 25 minutes)
  2. Sauté your onions in a large pot on medium-high heat until they are deeply golden-brown and caramelized. Once the onions are about a minute from being done, add garlic and saute until just beginning to brown
  3. Add the remaining broth, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and par-cooked rice. Cover and cook on medium heat until the rice is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft. It will take a while- about 20 minutes or longer- but this allows everything to really soak in the flavors.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce and peanut butter. Add it into the pot and add the kale in as well. You may need to add a bit more broth/water.
  5. Taste and adjust the levels of lemon juice, peanut butter and soy sauce to your liking
  6. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the kale is wilted

The Miracle Brownies

The Miracle Brownies

I made these brownies last week for the Creatrix Certification and Training event I catered. The phrase “multiple orgasms” was used more than once to describe the experience of eating them.

 

I feel like these are a little too good to be true because they contain no animal products, no refined sugars, no grains and they’re quick and easy to throw together, and yet they’re by far my favorite brownies of all time. Including all the brownies I ate back in the days before I even knew what the word “vegan” meant.

  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (or sunflower seed butter, hazelnut butter, a combination of all of those, etc. You can do up to 1/4 cup of peanut butter and still not have it end up tasting like peanuts)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder or cacao powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks, melted (I melt them in a DIY double boiler, stirring constantly with a little almond milk or coconut oil)
  • Optional: chopped walnuts, coconut, etc. for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper or grease it well
2. Wisk applesauce together with vanilla, melted chocolate, nut/seed butter and maple syrup/agave
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, coconut flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly
4. Smooth batter into pan and sprinkle on any toppings if desired
5. Bake for 30 minutes (closer to 35 at high altitude), then let cool fully

PRO TIP: if you omit the baking soda and refrigerate these instead of baking them, this recipe makes amazing fudge! I can’t tell if I like the fudge version or the brownie version better.

Pizzapalooza: Buffalo Jackfruit, BBQ and Margherita

Pizzapalooza: Buffalo Jackfruit, BBQ and Margherita

All photos by Samantha Bliss 

 

When was the last time you had pizza that was vegan, gluten-free and actually good? Yeah, me neither. I set out last week to change all that; I wanted some damn pizza, and I wanted it to be good. I mean lord, it was about time.

Of course, this pizza doesn’t have to be gluten-free; if you do well with gluten, please go ahead and make or buy a regular crust. But even the gluten-free version got rave reviews by my very non-vegan, non-gluten-free kickball team who volunteered to taste test.

Bear with me, there are multiple components to these three pizzas. It looks more intimidating than it is. For shortcuts, you can get pre-made versions of many of these components. You can get a good vegan cheese like Miyoko’s, Treeline or Kite Hill (maybe even Chao? Don’t quote me on that.) You can get BBQ sauce from a jar. This only has to be as scratch-made as you want it to be.

Buffalo Chkn (Jackfruit) Pizza

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 2.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2.5 tsp mellow white miso
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • 1-2 Tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) or water
  • 1/4 cup soaked, drained and rinsed cashews (optional)

1. Blend all of the above together

Buffalo Sauce

  • 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Kroger generic brand is vegan)
  • 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste
  1. Simmer all of the above in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally with a whisk

Jackfruit

  • 2 cans young/green (not ripe) jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Drain jackfruit into a colander and with your hands, squeeze out as much excess water as you can
  3. Shred: each piece generally has a top part that’s stringy and easy to separate into shreds, and then a denser bottom part that you can shred with your (clean) fingernails or a knife and fork. There will be little seed pods here and there as well- those are edible and can also be shredded up
  4. Toss jackfruit with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Spread jackfruit out onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper- make sure it’s not too overcrowded
  6. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until beginning to get golden and crispy at the edges

Stretchy Cashew Mozzarella– adapted from Carrots and Flowers

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • tbsp nutritional yeast
  • tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Blend all ingredients together

  2. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until it becomes a sticky ball in the center of the pan

Crust

Feel free to just buy a pre-made one from the store if you want (there are gluten-free  pre-made versions too.) If you want to make your crust from scratch and have no issues with gluten, this recipe is classic.

If you want to make gluten-free crust from scratch, this flatbread recipe is delicious and works beautifully, albeit it’s a pain to roll out. To make your life much easier, go ahead and roll each crust out directly onto a piece of parchment paper (as thinly as you can) so that you don’t have to transfer it from the table to the parchment and run the risk of it inevitably ripping. One recipe will give you three crusts.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 Fahrenheit (yes that high)
  2. Mix the jackfruit in with the Buffalo sauce. If you have extra Buffalo sauce, drizzle some over your pizza at the end
  3. Spread a thick layer of blue cheese sauce onto your unbaked pizza crust, then sprinkle your Buffalo-sauce-smothered jackfruit on top, then finally spread that stretchy mozzarella on top of all that
  4. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  5. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top
  6. Serve with some of the extra blue cheese dressing on the side for dipping

 

Barbecue Chkn (Jackfruit) Pizza

bbq

  • Crust (see above)
  • Cashew mozzarella (see above)
  • Roasted shredded jackfruit (see above)
  • BBQ sauce (store-bought OR recipe here)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sliced red onion, optional
  • Chopped curly parsley, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit
  2. Toss jackfruit in BBQ sauce
  3. Brush or drizzle a little olive oil over the crust, then spread your BBQ-sauce-smothered jackfruit on top. Add your cheese, then some slices of red onion if you’re into that
  4. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  5. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top
  6. Garnish with parsley if desired

Margherita Pizza

margherita

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pizza sauce (you can get it store-bought from a jar or make it from scratch)
  • Salt
  • Fresh basil
  • Cheese (see above)
  • Crust (see above)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit
  2. Brush or drizzle a little olive oil over the unbaked crust, then spread a layer of pizza sauce over that
  3. Spread your cheese over the sauce
  4. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and lightly press some basil leaves into the cheese
  5. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  6. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top

 

 

Acknowledgements: Major shoutout to all the Buffalo natives and Rochester friends – particularly my friend Alexis Dent– who helped me understand crucial things like 1. buffalo chicken pizza does not have tomato sauce on it and 2. buffalo chicken pizza does not have ranch on it. I would almost definitely have made those mistakes otherwise.

 

Pastelón de Platano Maduro: Dominican Lasagna

Pastelón de Platano Maduro: Dominican Lasagna

Usually when I think of casseroles, I think of things like tuna, mayonnaise, cream of mushroom/chicken/celery/Satan soup… I can’t say I’ve ever heard the word “casserole” and thought “yum.”

(I probably just offended the entire Midwest and everyone who has ever been to a church picnic- my apologies.)

But every once in a while I’m reminded that there really are delicious dishes out there that are technically casseroles: Palestinian maqloubeh, Ashkenazi kugel, and this beauty known as pastelón. This is essentially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic’s upgrade of lasagna; with alternating layers of ripe plantain, creamy cashew cheese and a lentil-walnut “ground beef” filling sautéed with onions, garlic and tomato sauce, it’s the ultimate combination of sweet and savory.

pastelon 1

Important note: there are two ways you can prepare the plantains: boiled and mashed or cut into thin strips and pan-fried. The mashed version gets spread into the pan in layers and the pan-fried version gets layered into the pan like lasagna noodles. It’s up to your preference.

Pastelon (Puerto Rican Lasagna)
photo from http://thenoshery.com/pastelon-sweet-plaintain-lasagna/
Masa-para-juju
photo from http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/juju-green-plantain-and-cheese-balls

Yield: 7-9 servings

For the filling:

  • 1.5 cup raw walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, drained
  • 1.5 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
  • 3 cups water+ bouillon (I highly recommend this stuff and this stuff, both of which you can both find in many grocery stores) or 3 cups veggie broth
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2.5 cups tomato sauce (from a jar is fine)
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)

For the cashew cheese*:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, drained
  • juice of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the plantains:

  • 6 ripe plantains
  • If pan-frying: Canola, soybean, vegetable or refined coconut oil
  • If mashing: 3 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, etc.) or olive oil
  • If mashing: 1 tsp salt for boiling
  • If mashing: Water for boiling

To garnish:

  • Chopped cilantro

 

  1. Cook your lentils. Throw the lentils into a covered pot on high heat with in 3 cups of broth or water with bouillon. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Set aside to cool
  2. If mashing your plantains: peel them, chop them into large chunks and place them into a large pot of boiling water with 1tsp salt. Allow them to boil until they’re very soft and mash-able. Drain, mash in a large bowl with butter and 1tsp salt platano 2
  3. If pan-frying your plantains: Heat a large skillet or a griddle to medium-high. Peel your plantains, slice them in half and then into long, thin strips. Coat your skillet/griddle with a thin layer of oil and fry until they just begin to brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, adding a little more oil if necessary
  4. Make your cashew cheese: blend cashews, salt, water, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender or with an immersion blender. If you have a Vitamix, you may not need to add all that water, but if you have a mediocre blender you may need more water in order to get a smooth consistency
  5. In a food processor, pulse your walnuts until broken up into crumbles. Add your lentils and pulse until broken into crumbles as well
  6. Make your filling: Saute your onions like so until they’re golden-brown, then add your garlic. Once your garlic just begins to turn golden, add your bell peppers and saute until soft. Add the lentils, walnuts, tomato sauce, raisins, olives (optional) and mix thoroughly
  7. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and preheat your oven to 375 (350 if your oven runs hot and/or you’re at lower altitude)
  8. Layer everything: Spread or layer a third of your plantains on the bottom of your pan. Cover with a third of the filling mixture. Spread or layer another third of your plantains on top of the filling, followed by half of your cashew cheese and another layer of filling. Add your final layer of plantains and top with the rest of your cashew cheese. Bake until golden-brown on top
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve

*If you want a shortcut, you can use a storebought vegan cheese like Miyoko’s, Treeline, Kite Hill or Chao. Just don’t use Daiya because it will ruin your food.

pastelon 3