Tag Archives: vegan

best ever beet burgers with goat cheese spread (aka best veggie burgers, ever! )

beet burgers - brown rice and beet patties topped with chived goat cheese

In Boulder, there was a spot  downtown that we’d frequent all.the.time for lunch or a casual supper that made the most delicious beet burgers.  I never got around to trying my hand at them at home, because any time I had a chance to zip down the hill on our Vespa and enjoy my lunch al fresco on an inevitably sunny Colorado afternoon (and someone else was doing the cooking) I was going to take it.

beet burgers, raw beets sliced

Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve yet to find a place in San Francisco Santa Barbara that has a beet burger on their menu.  I guess I understand….beets, after all, seem to be a pretty polarizing root veggie, and I may be in the minority in the fact that these days I almost always default to a ‘veggie’ burger option when given the option.*

*And that is not to say I won’t absolutely-but-only-occasionally crush a double-double-animal-style.  Cause I’d be a liar if I said otherwise. 

beet burgers, shredded in processor

But this isn’t really a beet burger so much as just a really awesome veggie burger.  Yes, you can taste the beets – their earthy sweetness cuts straight through the other more mild binding components – but when combined with brown rice, lentils, chopped onion, fennel, and just a bit of almond butter, their in-your-face dirt-y-ness is mellowed out and complimented juuuuust right.

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spaghetti & meatballs with a vegan (and gluten free!) twist: zucchini spaghetti and beanballs with fresh marinara + vegan ‘parmesan’ cheese

zucchini spaghetti and vegan beanballs

I came home the other week with a book called “Raw Food Detox Diet,” and I’d be lying if I said that James didn’t look just a wee bit petrified.

No, I am not on some fad diet (nor do I think the raw ‘movement’ is a fad, but I digress), but you may have noticed I’ve again been slightly scarce around here lately, and that’s because now that we are settled in to our new-ish house and hometown, we’ve been up to our usual hijinx of visitors, entertaining, eating, and drinking. We had visitors staying with us for a solid 4 weeks straight (not all the same ones, mind you), and when people arrive to your new spot the last thing you want to do is go to bed early and eat salad.

No. You’ll want to go wine tasting, and while we’re at it — toss in a cheese plate. You’ll have a hankering to make baby back ribs (3 separate times!), throw marinated flank steak, spatchcocked chicken, and lamb burgers on the grill, and whip up a ‘vodka bolognese’ (with beef and pancetta) as a birthday dinner for a dear friend. There will also be cake at said birthday dinner, and a morning spent mixing up fresh bloodies to enjoy poolside. There will be a lot of indulgences, and not much restraint. The Diem will be Carpe’d, every single day, to the absolute very fullest extent.

So after lots of meat, cheese, wine, beer, and bread (because I failed to mention the brick oven pizza place down the road we’ve been hitting up on the reg), I was left feeling a bit bleh. I, by all natural inclination, am not a huge meat eater, and after feeling like I consumed more animal products in a month than I have in some entire seasons passed, I began to feel a bit queasy.


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after those treats: vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, sweet grape tomatoes, broccoli, and avocado

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce

Because it’s Sunday, because we’ve got a blissful extra hour to kill, and because if you ate even close to the amount of candy corn that I managed to consume in the last 48 hours, I present to you, the vegan rice bowl.

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, fresh broccoli

(Cue sad trombone.)

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, wild rice medley

I know.  It’s Fall and we’re supposed to be braising meats and roasting squash and baking sweet cakes with things like apple and cinnamon and pumpkin in them!

vegan wild rice bowls with garlic tahini sauce, ripe avo

These rice bowls will neither fill your house with a cozy smell nor stick to your ribs like most comforting Autumnal fare.  They will, however, negate the queasy feeling that is inevitably setting in as the costumes hit the ground, the face paint wears off, and those fist-fulls of fun-sized snickers/butterfinger/crunch/dots/almondjoy/nerds/whatchamacallit start to set in in full effect.

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simple equation: coconut braised chickpeas and spinach with spaghetti squash, zucchini, red pepper, and crispy tofu

coconut braised chickpeas and spinach with spaghetti squash, zucchini, red pepper, and crispy tofu

You guys —  stand up paddle boarding was a total success this past weekend, and I absolutely loved it.  Minus one very minor incident where Danielle and I over-confidently tried to leave the safety of our little training-wheels lagoon (and nearly got blown by some aggressive tailwinds straight into some legit boat yacht traffic while squealing and paddling directly over a rather large, red, and very tenticle-y jellyfish), we totally rocked it.

half moons of zucchini

I didn’t tank it sideways off the board (hooray!), and we both felt very virtuous for getting up early and getting our fitness on after some mutually late bedtimes the evening before.  I totally forgot that the Kentucky Derby was on, but since it was gorgeous out (85!! Sunny!!!), we decided to keep our delightful little day going, and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying lunch in the sunshine and toasting the race with a couple obligatory mint juleps.

fresh grated garlic and ginger

After a wonderful but busy day spent out and about, the last thing I ever feel like doing is cleaning up the kitchen after making a meal – much less actually cooking a meal that requires a lot of clean up.

But I’m going to let you in on a little (not so) secret equation.

rings of fresno chili

Coconut milk + ginger & garlic + vegetables + tofu = simple supper Nirvana.

fresh lemongrass

This is the exactly the kind of thing we have when I open the fridge and am met with a panicked wave of what-the-{insert explicative}-are-we-gonna-have-for-dinner;  usually when I already have my hole-y and publicly inappropriate pajama pants on and the husb has already poured me a glass-o’-vino, and there’s absolutely zero chance I feel like running out to the store.

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sum of it’s parts: roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce

roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce and sesame seeds - eatandrelish.com

Roasted cauliflower….again?

cauliflower florets chopped up and ready to be roasted

I know. It’s boring, it’s bland, it’s the last man standing on the sad veggie tray in the corner, always.

“Caulifower is my favorite vegetable” said no one, ever.

I know all of this.


And yet I’m still forcing cauliflower recipes upon you! What can I say….I’m sadistic like that.

black and white sesame seeds, for flavor and color

Truthfully I’ve been making cauliflower a lot around here lately. I’d say it’s in season, but I don’t think it is for most of the country – apparently, in California, everything is in season all the time. (I tell ya – it’s really rough living here.) So I’ve been scooping it on Sundays from the Fort Mason Farmer’s market, and trying to use it’s meatiness in vegetarian dishes that need a little bulking up. I’ve roasted it in thick slices like steak, tossed it with arugula and shaved parmesan, and even dusted it with cumin and tucked it into tiny corn tacos – perhaps my favorite thus far, actually.

lemons from a friend's garden

But after overzealously purchasing three heads last week, I had cauliflower-mental-block. I was perfectly fine slicing up the florets and roasting them (yet again….), but was looking for a simple spin that would fool us into thinking we had something other than roasted cauliflower on the side of our plates. Again.

crispy cauli!

By the power that is Google, a quick search returned a deceptively simple recipe for my same roasted cauliflower equation only doctored up with a quick pan sauce of garlic, tahini, and lemon. I should mention I’ve not only been on a cauli-kick as of late, but am also in the midst of a mean homemade hummus streak (that’s normal, right?), so given the fact I had about a gallon of tahini in the fridge and a sun-ripened lemon freshly picked from a friend’s yard right here in the city, this cauliflower just had to be made.

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a shift in the tide: carrot + ginger soup with yogurt and cilantro

As if one needed any further proof that a woman can truly change a man, over here in this household I’ve got one husband who is not only eating vegetarian this and vegan that because it’s what is put in front of him, but because he actually enjoys it.

Imagine that?

And this is the same husband that just a couple of short years ago was still a boyfriend, and one that I had to beg and plead to try a fantastic vegetarian joint I stumbled upon on Eighth Avenue, one that I’d attempt to pull the wool over his eyes and direct straight into the West Village outpost of a popular falafel ball restaurant, and one that gave me nothing but the dreaded wrinkled-up-nose-of-displeasure when I’d get caught secretly trying unload a block of tofu from my tote bag.

Back then, in our house (err…apartment), a meal simply wasn’t a meal unless it had some type of animal protein, and a sandwich that contained anything along the lines of tempeh, tofu, or any other manner of that vegetarian mambo-jambo nonsense was for the birds.

(Specifically the hordes of bedraggled pigeons that just love to congregate on every street corner in New York.  Blech.)

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not in kansas anymore: vegan almond oat thumbprint cookies with jammy middles

When I lived in the city, being awoken in the middle of the night was a regular occurrence; there was always a cacophonous drunken melee spilling out of White Horse Tavern or the screech of a lover’s quarrel ping-ponging off of the Meatpacking District’s cobbled streets.  These were the types of things that a city mouse became used to; a discordant melody of almost constant noise that coursed through the city’s veins and into the windows and ears of it’s snoozing dwellers.  Now that we have swapped our townhouse for a real house and the city sidewalk for a backyard, I’ve become accustomed to the gentle symphonies of crickets and the (very pleasant) general lack of any real noise whatsoever.  Until lately, that is.

As I am sure you can identify with, there are few things more dreadful than being jolted out of a deep slumber by a foreign crash or terrifying thud.  That type of heart-thumping moment where you’re sent shooting out of bed, cell phone queued up to 911, sure that at that very instant there is a knife-wielding-mass-murderer lumbering through your kitchen coming to kill you.  Of course after a bit of cautious inspection, all of my ‘close encounters’ with ‘intruders’ have turned out to be slippery shampoo bottles crashing in the shower, or strong summer breezes toppling picture frames onto the floor – hardly anything alarming.

Although the things that woke me in the city were generally benign in nature and thankfully outside the confines of our double-locked doors, I am finding a slightly more twisted version of events here in ‘peaceful’ Colorado.  It all started at two-thirty in the morning three weeks ago: just a few days before our wedding I was in the throes of an already fitful nights sleep (dreaming of forgotten dresses and toppled cakes), when I awoke to what surely was a psychopath breaking down our basement door.  I sent a half-dressed and one-eyed James off to investigate with the only dinky flashlight we owned, and assumed a three point stance, ready to bolt, pug football-tucked under my right arm.  Of course, as it has been each time before, this wasn’t a murderer, or a psychopath, or a even deviant of any human variety – oh no.

It was a BEAR.

A! BEAR!  Not forty-feet from our house! Holy Moses!  Being that we live at the base of a state park I’ve heard tales of wild animals ambling down the mountain and into people’s yards to snack on trash – or worse, pets – but I had not expected to be throttled awake in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning by a bear rooting around violently through the neighborhood’s recycling.  Although I was relieved we were not about to be kidnapped by  a maniacal loony toon, I could not fall back asleep — all I could think about were the cookies that I left out in plain sight on the kitchen counter.  Do bears like vegan almond-oat cookies with jam in their middles?!  Me thinks they might.


Unfortunately (or fortunately, rather) this story does not have a dramatic ending.  The bear did not break down our front door to get at my treats, and the morning sun arose to little fanfare – other than a dozen or so bashed about trash receptacles.  Since this episode however, this little wildlife reign of terror has anything but subsided; two weeks ago a mountain lion was discovered lurking in a tree on CU’s campus (less than a mile away), I’ve had multiple startling showdowns with a raccoon the size of a hog (who fancies our plum tree), and just last weekend a squirrel ran into – yes, INTO – our house and and river danced in the living room before scurrying back out the door and into the great wild yonder.

Clearly I am not in Kansas anymore; the only wildlife I had previously encountered in Manhattan was of the 4am-West-Village-club-hopping variety, and I have been all but unprepared for the veritable episodes of National Geographic that have been playing out in our new digs.

Now when I walk outside, I carry a giant spotlight and tap my feet whilst making awkward and loud noises to fend off the unwanted critters – the neighbors must be getting a real kick out of it.  But enough of my wildlife complaints and back to those cookies – they are the real stars of the story here.  They are chewy, dense, just a touch sweet, and a total cinch to make with ingredients you most likely already have squirreled away in your cupboard (pun definitely intended there folks).  In short – these cookies are ahh-mazing.  Though there are a bunch of recipes floating around the interwebs for very similar things, the one I first saw for them referred to them as “life-changing vegan thumbprints,” and I must admit….that’s not too far off.  They totally rock – they are the type that with a cup of coffee or milky tea make a fine breakfast, and don’t make you feel like cookies for breakfast is something that is unreasonable.  (Is it?)  As  a bonus these cookies are also vegan – which is great if you are into that sort of thing – but even if you’re not, they are still just plain delicious.

“Life-Changing” Vegan Thumbprint Cookies
makes about 4 dozen 2-inch cookies
Adapted only Slightly from thekitchn.com

These are so easy to make and come together in as much time as they take to bake – 15 minutes.  I like to use lots of different fillings to keep things interesting; here I used fig jam, blueberry preserves, orange marmalade (and topped a couple of this variety with candied ginger), pomegranate jelly, and some local pumpkin butter I scooped up at our farmer’s market.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe spot on, except for subbing in whole wheat flour for the called for white; I like the extra nutty flavor that it adds, and also gives you even more reason to think cookies for breakfast is a perfectly reasonable notion.
2 cups whole almonds (I used raw & unsalted)
4 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour, but use whichever you like)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup
Assorted jams and fillers – see above
Preheat your oven to 350F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are chopped into smallish pieces – I like to leave mine slightly chunky, but grind yours however you like (just not all the way to almond flour).
Place the ground almonds aside in a large bowl.  In the same food processor bowl, grind the oats with the salt into a fine meal and add into the large bowl with the ground almonds.  Add in the flour.  Measure and pour the canola oil and the maple syrup into the bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.  The dough will seem sticky & soft, but allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so; the flour will absorb some of the liquid ingredients and it will stiffen up a bit.
Form the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball; I found the best way to do this was using two spoons to scoop up a ball with one and help slide it off with the other.  The dough will be slightly wet and a bit sticky, but thats ok.  Take the dough-ball in your hands and push to compact it.  Then, while keeping your hand around the ball to prevent it from cracking and falling apart, press it onto the cookie sheet, and use your thumb to create a little dimple on the top – this is where your filling will sit.  After you make a few, you will get the hang of it.  The cookies can be fairly close together – they will really not spread at all.

When all of the cookies are formed and on the baking sheets, fill each cookies indentation with the filling of your choice using a teaspoon.  I like to use different fillings as this makes a good bit of cookies; suggestions are fruit jams (fig, raspberry, quince, pomegranate, blueberry, or red currant), marmalades (orange, grapefruit, or lemon) or fruit butters (apple and pumpkin are both nice).

Once filled, bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until they are to browned slightly.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool further – they will be very crumbly and fragile at first, but after cooling they will have set up nicely, like a soft granola bar.

Cookies keep, in a sealed container, for at least a week.