Zucchini is one of the more popular veggies in the Watkins house and it’s one of my all time favorites. It also happens to have been one of the few vegetables I liked to eat as a kid! Part of why zucchini is so easy to love is because of its mild flavor, nice texture, and the many ways you can prepare it. It’s also easy to grow at home. I remember my mom always growing these massive zucchinis in our garden that we would feast on for days. Thankfully zucchini is in season now and I can buy as much as I want at a great price!
My latest zucchini obsession is baked zucchini fries! I seriously have a problem, I can’t stop making them and eating them! I don’t feel too bad though because these are super healthy. Unlike normal zucchini sticks or fries that you get at a restaurant, these are baked and not fried. These turn out light and crispy and are not dripping in grease because no oil is involved. The trick to getting these fries crispy is using a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet in the oven. The cooling rack allows for all sides of the zucchini to get crispy without having to rotate them in the oven every 10 minutes!
This recipe is quite simple and can be whipped up in no time. The only messy (and fun!) part is dipping the zucchini in batter. You can also play around with the seasonings to taste to make your perfect zucchini fry. These make for a perfect snack, appetizer, or side dish to your favorite veggie burger or BBQ Tempeh Sliders. These are absolutely perfect for summer!
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cut your zucchini into fries about 1/2-by-4-inch sticks. Try to cut them all as evenly as possible.
Mix up the flour, nutritional yeast and water in a bowl until well combined and no lumps remain. Gently mix the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and salt on a plate or a shallow dish.
Now you’ll need to create an assembly line! Spray the cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray. Have your cut zucchini ready next to the batter and breadcrumbs. Also have your cooling rack close at hand. Dip the zucchini in the batter using a fork and your fingers and gently tap some of the batter off before transferring to the breadcrumbs. Gently cover the zucchini completely with the crumbs and place on the cooling rack. Once your cooling rack is full, put it on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with ketchup, BBQ sauce, or marinara sauce. Enjoy!
When it comes to guilty pleasures, my all time favorite snack food is chips and salsa. I could seriously eat tortilla chips and salsa everyday and not get tired of it! And if I could eat chips and guacamole everyday, I would do that too. Since I met my husband, I’ve also acquired quite a love for hummus. So, as you can see, I have quite an affinity for dips! That is why I was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe from one of my all time favorite blogs Namely Marly.
This southwestern hummus is a beautiful combination of two of my favorite things: salsa and hummus! I’m kicking myself for not trying this recipe sooner! When I first made this recipe, my husband tried and said it was the best hummus I’ve ever made. Adding the salsa and the southwestern flavors really elevates this hummus to a new level.
This hummus is incredibly easy to mix up when you’re in the need for a snack or for entertaining. And if you’re like me, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry! This is also the perfect dip for summer. If it’s too hot out you don’t feel like cooking, just whip some of this up in your food processor and you’re good to go! Now, if I could just find some avocado to add to this I would have all my favorites in one bowl
I made a few changes from the original recipe. I left out the oil and reduced the amount of tahini to keep the fat down. Enjoy!
1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 tablespoon tahini
1 cup salsa
lime juice, to taste
freshly chopped tomatoes, for garnish
dried red pepper flakes, optional for garnish
Pour all of the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse for a few seconds.
Use a spatula or spoon and scrap down any ingredients trying to escape. Pulse until the consistency is nice and smooth.
Garnish with the chopped tomatoes and red pepper flakes, if using.
Serve with chips, pita bread, or pita chips!
Today is a very good day. First off, today was my last day of teaching and I am officially on summer break! Hallelujah! Secondly, I’m super excited to be sharing a few recipes from the brand new cookbook The Sexy Vegan Happy Hour at Home: Small Plates, Big Flavors, and Potent Cocktails. For those of you who are not familiar with The Sexy Vegan, aka Brian Patton, you are in for a real treat. Brian Patton is a really fun guy who has a hilarious personality and a passion for cooking delicious vegan food. Or, as he likes to say, extraordinary food from an ordinary dude!
I love the background for this cookbook. When Brian began dating his soon-to-be wife, he offered to entertain her with Friday night Happy Hours at her apartment or his. It didn’t take long before their friends started begging for invitations after hearing about the amazing appetizers and cocktails. Overtime, Brian created so many recipes that he decided to put them all in one handy-dandy cookbook, and thus the The Sexy Vegan Happy Hour at Home was born!
The thing I really love and appreciate about this cookbook is that is so much fun! The book is divided into 20 different menus each with 3 or 4 recipes. His creativity as a chef really shines through with super fun themed menus like Quesome Mucho, Satay-Day Night Fever, Be Still My Hearts of Palm, and Holy Stromboli. Honestly, now that I have this cookbook, I’ll never have to stress or worry about entertaining again! The recipes in each menu compliment each other and make for a perfect evening with friends and family.
It was so hard deciding what recipe I wanted to try first! But after long deliberation, I decided to try out some of the recipes from the Polenta Party menu! Italian sausages and peppers with creamy polenta?! Yes please! Both of these recipes were a huge hit and paired perfectly with a big glass of wine. And since today was my last day of teaching before summer break, my husband celebrated by making a Punchy Pineapple Cocktail!
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons vegan margarine*
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 garlic clove, grated
pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
*I left the margarine out and it still tasted delicious and extremely creamy!
In a medium pot, bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and begin whisking the water in a circular motion.
Slowly pour the cornmeal into the boiling water in a steady stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Whisk for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the polenta begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low, and whisk in the vegan margarine, nutritional yeast, and garlic. Simmer, stirring often, for 25 minutes. The finished product should be thick, yet pourable. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, pour the hot polenta into a wide plate with high edges or a large oval serving bowl. I used a Pyrex cake pan and it worked perfectly. Let the polenta set for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Top with Italian sausages and peppers (recipes below) and enjoy!
Italian Sausages and Peppers
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil*
Three 3-ounce store-bought vegan sausages or 3 Pretend Italian Sausages (recipe follows), sliced on the bias
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
1 cup red wine
2 cups marinara sauce
*I omitted the olive oil and used high-heat cooking spray instead
To brown the sausages, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the sausages in the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on one side, then flip and repeat.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, toss the bell pepper and onion with the oregano, basil, the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a small baking dish, pour in the wine, and cover. Braise in the oven for 20 minutes, then uncover and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the marinara, and top with the sausages. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes, or until it’s all warmed through.
Pretend Italian Sausages
1/2 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup vital wheat gluten*
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds**
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of ground sage**
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds**
1 tablespoon chickpea flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup low-sodium tamari
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup (1 15-ounce can) drained and rinsed canned white beans
*A note to my Malaysian friends: I have NOT been able to find vital wheat gluten here in Penang. I brought a ton back with me from the UK.
**Another note to my Malaysian friends, I was not able to find these spices…but don’t worry, they still tasted amazing anyways!
In a small pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chunks easily fall apart when you put a fork through them. Drain the potatoes well and while they’re still hot, gently mash with a fork until there are no chunks left, or pass through a potato ricer. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, bouillon powder, pepper, celery seeds, thyme, sage, chile flakes, fennel seeds, and chickpea flour.
In a food processor or blender, puree the tamari, water, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and beans. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, add them and the bean mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mash it all together with your hands to form a soft dough, making sure there are no dry parts remaining.
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes before using. You can also wrap it in plastic and store it in the refrigerator for later use. It will last for 5 days.
Form the dough into a loaf-like shape and cut it in half. Then cut those halves in half. Finally, cut the halves of the halves into five- sixteenths…just kidding, cut them in half. Now you’ll have 8 portions. Roll them into cigar-like shapes, 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Loosely roll each portion in foil and twist the ends of the foil to seal the packets. Remember to leave some room for expansion. Using a steamer basket, steam for 1 hour. Now they’re ready to be browned or grilled in a pan.
If you don’t use all 8 sausages right away, store the remaining ones in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Greetings from Malaysia! If you follow my Facebook page or Instagram, you know that I spent the last week in the UK! It was my first time to England and I had a blast. Although, it was freezing compared to Penang! I chowed down on a bunch of yummy vegan food and I hope to share with you all more about my trip later.
In other exciting news, I have had quite a few family and friends wanting to go vegetarian or vegan these past couple of months. It has been really encouraging to my husband and I and we love sharing information and recipes with our new veg friends! Giving up meat can be challenging and there is a transition period while you learn to make new foods and create new food memories. And it can be hard if you’re working full-time with a family to feed!
Here’s one of my quick and easy go-to recipes that I make when I don’t feel like cooking. It’s perfect to make during the week when you’re short on time. You can serve these taquitos with rice, salad, or some veggies and you’ve got a complete meal! You can also enjoy these with all of your favorite dipping sauces like salsa, guacamole, or my favorite easy vegan cheese sauce. These are also guilt-free because they are baked and not fried like traditional taquitos!
8-10 whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 15-oz can vegetarian refried beans or black beans (drained and rinsed)
1-2 cups warm water
optional: dried red pepper flakes, cumin, cilantro, finely minced garlic and purple onions, nutritional yeast, or vegan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
Have your beans, tortillas, and warm water ready. The key to perfect baked taquitos is warm to hot water. The warm water makes the tortillas stick together while they bake!
Pour the warm water into a pie pan or skillet. Dip one tortilla into the water for about 15 seconds, make sure each side is wet. Lay the tortilla on a flat surface and scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of beans onto the tortilla. I like to put the beans on the left side (helps me to roll them up!) and I am careful not to put the filling too close to the edges because they’ll ooze out while baking. Roll the tortilla up tight, they’ll look like cigars not burritos. Place the taquitos crease-side down on the cookie sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy. Serve with salsa, guacamole, or easy vegan cheesy sauce. Enjoy!
I have always loved scones. They compliment a hot cup or tea or coffee so perfectly. But for some reason, I never had the courage to try and bake some myself. They seemed too fancy and advanced for my level of baking. I also could never find a good recipe. Most of the vegan scone recipes I could find online called for margarine or Earth Balance. Since I don’t cook with margarine and there are no vegan butters available here in Malaysia, I couldn’t even try any of these recipes if I wanted to.
Thankfully, I have found a solution to my scone problem: coconut milk! Cold coconut milk is the perfect replacement for butter and adds a great taste to the scones. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this little dandy of a recipe, but I am so glad I did. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times already and they always turn out great.
I have used both dry and fresh cranberries and both are delicious. You could also use blueberries and substitute lemon zest for the orange zest.
These are great on their own or with a bit of jam or jelly. My husband prefers his with a simple glaze that I whip up with orange juice and powdered sugar. You can also make a tasty glaze out of leftover coconut milk and powdered sugar
Orange & Cranberry Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from 1 orange (at least 1 teaspoon)
1 1/4 cups cold canned coconut milk
1 cup dried or fresh cranberries
orange juice, coconut milk or other non-dairy milk
makes 8-12 scones
Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in coconut milk. Gently mix just until everything’s combined, don’t over mix. Dough will be thick. Gently add in cranberries.
Transfer dough onto a floured surface and shape into a disc about 10 inches in diameter and about 3/4 inches in thickness. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 8 or 12 wedges. Place onto prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately or store them in an airtight container after they have completely cooled. Enjoy!
(adapted from Art of Dessert)
As much as I hate to admit it, not all of my adventures in the kitchen are successful. I have had quite a few epic failures. While living overseas, I have struggled making Spanish rice…or maybe Mexican rice? I’m not even sure what the difference is! Anyways, there are tons of easy stovetop recipes for Spanish rice out and I have given some a try. But alas, all my tries resulted in either a pot of undercooked rice or mushy overcooked rice.
A few weeks ago I was making a batch of our favorite enchiladas when I wished we could enjoy some rice with them. I remember thinking that I wish I could just cook up some rice in my rice cooker like I usually do. That’s when it hit me! Why don’t I just try making Spanish rice in my rice cooker?! And bingo, that’s how this recipe was born!
I have been playing around with this recipe for a couple of weeks and am really excited to share it with you. This rice is so easy! You literally throw everything into your rice cooker and that’s it! I make a big batch and eat it as a side, in burritos, or as enchilada filling and we enjoy it throughout the week.
I know back in home there are a lot of packaged box mixes for Spanish style rice, but those are filled with weird preservatives and artificial ingredients. This recipe is not only easy, but it’s fresh, natural, and good for your family. Also, I like to make this using brown rice!
2 cups rice
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (I like the kind with the bell peppers & onions)
1/2 cup of your favorite chunky salsa
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups water*
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
*Use 4 1/2 cups water if using brown rice
Put the rice at the bottom of your rice cooker. Add in the can of tomatoes with the juices, salsa, water, onion, garlic, and spices. Stir everything a couple of times to ensure that the cumin and salt gets dissolved in the water. Turn your rice cooker on and let it cook away!
Check the rice once it’s almost done cooking, add a bit more water if needed. Once the rice is done cooking, taste for salt. Let the rice cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
I know as a vegan, this may sound horribly cliché, but I love salads. I really do. I feel like I’m Elaine from Seinfeld…I’m always craving a big salad! The really nice thing about salads is that they can be prepped ahead of time. I like to go grocery shopping for the week ahead on Sundays. And I usually spend Sunday afternoon or evening prepping all my fresh produce for my lunches for the week. Remember folks, they key to a successful and delicious salad is prepping ahead of time! It also helps to have a healthy option in the fridge and ready when you’re hungry or having a craving for something not as healthy!
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what dressings I use on my salads now that I’ve given up oil. Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet and Pinterest, I have found many delicious oil-free and low-fat dressing recipes. There are so many vegan salad dressings available on the internet, but unfortunately most are not oil-free. So I have rounded a few of my favorite recipes to share with you all today! It’s good to have a plethora of dressing recipes on hand so you never tire of eating salads! And with summer fast approaching, these will be great to share with your guests at get togethers and BBQs!
(Recipes for photos listed from left to right)
As many of you know, I am an elementary school teacher and this week was my spring break. I love having time off to spend around the house, relax, and hang out with my husband and our crazy cat Maeby. We also have been munching on all sorts of yummy food this week! One of our favorite things that we have enjoyed this week has been this delicious and refreshing Thai cucumber salad.
Cucumbers are incredibly popular here in Malaysia and, thankfully, very affordable! I don’t know why I never ate more cucumbers back in the States, but out here I can’t get enough. Did you know that they are super good for you too? The nice thing about cucumbers is that they are so refreshing! Especially in warm weather!
Here is a quick salad that can be thrown together in 15 minutes. It’s full of refreshing Thai flavors that will please everyone’s pallet. This salad makes for a perfect side dish or starter to your favorite Asian meal. It also packs up perfectly for lunches!
For the spice in this salad, I like to use the traditional Malaysian chili padi. Chili padis are also called Thai chilis or bird’s eye chilis and you should be able to find them in your local Asian grocery store. If you can’t find Thai chilis or would prefer something with less heat in your salad, you can use red bell peppers instead.
3 cups diced or chopped cucumbers, about 2 cucumbers (wash and peel if using non-organic cucumbers)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
4 diced chili padis (more or less to taste, depending on the variety and harvest, they can get spicy!)
1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon raw sugar
In a mixing bowl, combine cucumbers, red onions, chilis, and cilantro. Mix well.
In a small bowl, mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar together until the raw sugar has been dissolved.
Pour the liquid mixture onto the cucumbers and mix until combined. Serve at room temperature of chilled, enjoy!
Easter is just around the corner! I can’t believe how March has flown by so quickly! Thankfully, the weather is warming up, spring is here, and it’s the perfect time to gather with friends and family and eat some yummy food!
For my family, Easter centered around egg hunts and a huge meal. The weather in Southern California was always so nice and allowed us to relax and eat outside. We would have a BBQ and every family member would bring their favorite dish to share. What are some of your traditions for Easter and this time of year?
No matter what your family traditions are this time of year, you are going to need to be armed with some delicious vegan recipes! Especially if it’s your turn to host the party! Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered! Here are 10 amazing vegan recipes ranging from dips, salads, to sweets. Everything you need for a happy, healthy, and cruelty-free vegan Easter!
Check out these delicious recipes from the links below and send these bloggers some Easter love. Enjoy!
(Recipes and links listed from left to right)
Happy Easter Everyone!
I hope you all have liked having my husband around here on the blog! He really been enjoying the Vegan 101 series and will have a lot more to share with you soon. In the meantime, I have a great little recipe from one of my favorite vegan chefs The Happy Herbivore.
I had mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I are trying to eat less fat in our diet. Fat in a vegan diet? Yes, it’s true. As vegans we do not consume meat which full of saturated fat and cholesterol, but there can still be plenty of fat in a vegan diet. The largest sources of fat in a vegan diet are oils. You can also include margarine in this conversation (yes, even Earth Balance!). Oil is a high-calorie and high-fat food that provide little to no nutrition. Oil is basically empty calories. What about olive oil, you ask? You can read more about that here and here from Dr. McDougall. As full-grown adults, our bodies need very little fat to function properly. The key is to consume foods rich in unprocessed fats (nuts, seeds, coconuts, avocados) sparingly, no need to over do it! Make those foods a treat and not an everyday staple in your diet.The Happy Herbivore is a wonderful resource of vegan recipes that are made without oil and added fats. Lindsay Nixon now has three cookbooks, you should check them out! If you are looking for even more yummy low-fat vegan recipes, I highly suggest the Forks Over Knives cookbook as well as Dr. McDougall’s cookbook!
These chocolate zucchini muffins really hit the spot! Plus, they’re healthy and vegan, almost completely fat-free, and full of good things for you. You may be thinking that zucchini and chocolate make an odd pair, but after baking you can hardly notice the zucchini at all! These are perfect for any picker eaters you may have around the house! These are a great way to sneak in some vegetables into your kid’s diet. And they are great for lunch boxes!
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa or unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole ripe banana, mashed
1/2 to 1 cup raw sugar*
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce**
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 vegan chocolate chips (optional)
*Use 1/2 cup of sugar for a less sweet muffin and 1 cup of sugar for a more dessert-like muffin!
**It’s nearly impossible to find applesauce here in Penang. If you are out of applesauce or can’t buy any like me, simply chop up an apple and add a teaspoon or two of water to a blender and blend until it’s like the consistency of applesauce. Presto, instant applesauce!
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a muffin pan and set aside. If using paper liners, lightly spray inside of liners with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium size bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream mashed banana with applesauce and sugar. Add in non-dairy milk, vanilla, zucchini and chocolate chips, if using. Stir until evenly combined. Add flour mix to wet mix in 3-4 batches and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan and bake 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cooled, enjoy! These keep well in both the fridge and freezer.