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Purple Vegetable Sushi (vegan + gluten-free)

March 14, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello there! Sorry for disappearing again…I tend to do that a lot. You may file a complaint with my AP Chem teacher if you require more Yes to Yummy in your life. ūüėČ

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I love sushi. I love how all of the flavors and textures blend together in a few wonderful bites that just make me smile with delight. I love how fun and colorful sushi can be, and who¬†doesn’t love eating pretty food, anyway?

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I don’t make sushi often, not because I don’t love it, but rather because rolling and slicing the sushi just takes time. To be totally honest, it took be over an hour to prepare six rolls, which isn’t too bad other than the fact that it’s completely hands-on time and the rice you have to use is very,¬†very sticky.

But again, all of the colors and that wonderful bite where everything squishy and crunchy blends together into sushi euphoria is all worth it. And sometimes you just need food to give you a little shove of sunshine and happiness in your life.

For the record, healthy food does fill me with joy. When I’m stressed or anxious, I crave something like this sushi filled with fresh veggies, not a greasy burger or processed sugary snacks. ūüôā

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This time, I used cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, mango, and avocado inside the sushi, but you can of course use whatever vegetables (and fruit) you like. I’ve actually had sushi with strawberries in it and it’s pretty darn tasty…I’d recommend it.

The steps involved are actually pretty simple! First, you prepare the rice and cut up the fillings…

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…set up your sushi rolling station with nori sheets and a bamboo mat…

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…then add fillings and get rolling!

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Anyway, onto the recipe. Time for this chica to recover from her first SAT–five hours of bubble-filling hell! (WOHOO not.)

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Purple Vegetable Sushi (vegan)

Yes,¬†YOU can successfully make sushi at home, I promise! You can of course use regular sushi rice here, but I love how the deep purple contrasts with the greens, reds, and golds of the fillings. I’m no sushi samurai, but these wound up being both beautiful and delicious…and if I can do it, you can, too!

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 6-8 servings

FOR THE RICE:

1 bag of Thai Sticky Purple Rice, or 2 1/4 cups of sushi rice

4 1/2 cups of water

1/3 cup of rice vinegar

3 tablespoons of sugar

3/4 teaspoon of salt + a pinch extra

FOR THE SUSHI:

2 large avocados, thinly sliced

1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

1 mango, peeled and thinly sliced

6 sheets of nori (seaweed paper)

A bamboo sushi mat, which can be purchased here

Directions

FOR THE RICE:

Pour the rice into a collender and rinse well with until the water becomes clear. Dump into a medium saucepan, add the water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook until most of the water has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Warm for 5 minutes, or until both the sugar and the salt have been dissolved completely. Pour into a measuring cup with a lip and set aside.

Once the rice has finished cooking, let it stand for ten minutes before fluffing with a fork¬†and transferring to a large bowl. Slowly add the rice vinegar mixture to the rice–JUST a little bit at a time–while fiercely stirring the rice with a wooden spoon or spatula. This will help the rice get properly sticky while cooling it down at the same time.

After all of the rice vinegar mixture has been used, set aside the prepared sushi rice and set up your sushi-making station.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Set out a bowl of water mixed with a little rice vinegar. You’re going to need this to wash your hands, because things are about to get, er, sticky.

To make a roll of sushi, place a piece of nori on the bamboo mat shiny-side down. Place a large scoop of the prepared sushi rice on top and, using damp hands, spread it out all over the nori sheet, leaving about an inch free on the end farthest from you and just a little space around the edges. The rice should form a layer approximately 1/2-inch thick all over the nori sheet and spread evenly throughout.

Now it’s time for the fillings! Place a couple of slices of each filling about 1/2 inch from the edge closest to you, keeping everything as tightly packed together as possible. You don’t want too much or else your roll is going to explode, so go light on fillings, especially for your first roll.

To roll the sushi, fold over the bottom of the bamboo mat on the edge closest to you over the fillings, picking up the nori sheet with you as you go. Give it a good squeeze to secure and continue rolling, using the mat to fold the nori over itself and applying gentle pressure every so often to keep things together.

Once you’ve completely rolled up the sushi, pull out the bamboo mat and use a sharp, damp knife to slice the sushi into smaller pieces. Repeat the process with the remaining rice, fillings, and nori.

Serve immediately with tamari or coconut aminos, and give yourself a big pat on the back for being a sushi ninja.


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What is your favorite sushi filling combination? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Purple Vegetable Sushi (vegan)

March 4, 2015 Print this page

Yes,¬†YOU can successfully make sushi at home, I promise! You can of course use regular sushi rice here, but I love how the deep purple contrasts with the greens, reds, and golds of the fillings. I’m no sushi samurai, but these wound up being both beautiful and delicious…and if I can do it, you can, too!

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 1 hr 30 min
Yield 6-8 servings

FOR THE RICE:

1 bag of Thai Sticky Purple Rice, or 2 1/4 cups of sushi rice

4 1/2 cups of water

1/3 cup of rice vinegar

3 tablespoons of sugar

3/4 teaspoon of salt + a pinch extra

FOR THE SUSHI:

2 large avocados, thinly sliced

1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

1 mango, peeled and thinly sliced

6 sheets of nori (seaweed paper)

A bamboo sushi mat, which can be purchased here

Directions

FOR THE RICE:

Pour the rice into a collender and rinse well with until the water becomes clear. Dump into a medium saucepan, add the water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook until most of the water has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Warm for 5 minutes, or until both the sugar and the salt have been dissolved completely. Pour into a measuring cup with a lip and set aside.

Once the rice has finished cooking, let it stand for ten minutes before fluffing with a fork¬†and transferring to a large bowl. Slowly add the rice vinegar mixture to the rice–JUST a little bit at a time–while fiercely stirring the rice with a wooden spoon or spatula. This will help the rice get properly sticky while cooling it down at the same time.

After all of the rice vinegar mixture has been used, set aside the prepared sushi rice and set up your sushi-making station.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Set out a bowl of water mixed with a little rice vinegar. You’re going to need this to wash your hands, because things are about to get, er, sticky.

To make a roll of sushi, place a piece of nori on the bamboo mat shiny-side down. Place a large scoop of the prepared sushi rice on top and, using damp hands, spread it out all over the nori sheet, leaving about an inch free on the end farthest from you and just a little space around the edges. The rice should form a layer approximately 1/2-inch thick all over the nori sheet and spread evenly throughout.

Now it’s time for the fillings! Place a couple of slices of each filling about 1/2 inch from the edge closest to you, keeping everything as tightly packed together as possible. You don’t want too much or else your roll is going to explode, so go light on fillings, especially for your first roll.

To roll the sushi, fold over the bottom of the bamboo mat on the edge closest to you over the fillings, picking up the nori sheet with you as you go. Give it a good squeeze to secure and continue rolling, using the mat to fold the nori over itself and applying gentle pressure every so often to keep things together.

Once you’ve completely rolled up the sushi, pull out the bamboo mat and use a sharp, damp knife to slice the sushi into smaller pieces. Repeat the process with the remaining rice, fillings, and nori.

Serve immediately with tamari or coconut aminos, and give yourself a big pat on the back for being a sushi ninja.


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Boeuf Bourguignon

February 28, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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This winter has been¬†brutal¬†for us Northeasterners. I think this month was the third coldest February on record, I believe? The combination of sub-zero temperatures, blustering winds, and piles and piles of snow has been hard both on the mind and the body, so I’m honestly happy to be kissing February goodbye.

Warm food has been an absolute necessity the past few weeks. And this Boeuf Bourguignon…well, it’ll pretty much comfort you through any amount of wintry precipitation.

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As a self-confessed (and sometimes obnoxious) francophile, I adore a good boeuf bourguignon, otherwise known as a delicious beef stew made with bacon, tons of carrots and pearled onions, and red wine. After seeing Julie and Julia when I was in sixth grade, I pretty much forced my dad to make the infamous dish for me, and I make a habit to order it at least once every time I visit Paris.

This was the first time I actually made the dish myself, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the results, even though any good French chef would probably guillotine me if he discovered I used neither flour nor butter in my rendition.

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The tricks to making a really outstanding boeuf bourguignon are to use good-quality ingredients and let all of the ingredients braise for¬†A LONG TIME. Most recipes will suggest cooking the dish for an hour and a half or so; I’d say at least two and a half hours are needed to get the beef tender and meld all of the wonderful flavors together.

Don’t fret, though! This extra time needed only means you’ll have a few more hours to laze about and breathe in the wonderful smells. And I promise that waiting will make it taste¬†even more delicious.

I don’t want you to get intimidated by the French name–I want you to be confident and cook this dish, because it’s really not that difficult! You won’t break a sweat and your family, friends, and cats will be impressed that you can make something so¬†chouette.

First, you chop up your bacon into not-too-big cubes…

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…crisp it up, then brown your stew meat…

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…saute the veggies for a while, then add back the bacon and beef along with broth, tomato paste, and wine…

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…and stick it where the sun don’t shine (AKA the oven) for a couple of hours before adding…*drumroll please*…

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…THE MUSHROOMS!!!!!!!!!!!! (Can you tell I like mushrooms a lot?!)

OK, there’s enough fungus among us. Onto the actual recipe.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

I am such a Francophile sometimes, especially when it comes to French food. This is a classic dish from the Burgundy region of France, and while it sounds complicated, it’s not as hard as you might think! I made a few adaptions to lighten the dish up a bit, and I promise you won’t miss any of the butter or flour.¬†

In the words of Julia Child, the inspiration for this recipe,”BON APP√ČTIT!”

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

Prep Time 30 min
Cooking Time 2 hr 30 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 8 servings

8 ounces of slab bacon, roughly diced (I used beef bacon, but pork is fine too)

2 1/2 – 3 lb beef stew meat, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1 lb carrots, washed well and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 large onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of cognac

3 cups of good red wine

3 cups of low-sodium beef broth

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb mushrooms, roughly sliced

1 lb frozen pearl onions

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder + 4 tablespoons of water

Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot on the stovetop over medium heat, then add the diced bacon. Cook until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon has been browned, about 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Toss the stew meat with 1 teaspoon of salt and add half of the pieces to the remaining bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Cook until the beef has been browned, about 5-6 minutes, rotating the pieces once or twice to ensure even browning. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, then repeat the same process with the remaining pieces.

Pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons of the accumulated fat and add the carrots and onions. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened and golden-brown, about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Slowly pour in the cognac and red wine. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a boil. Let cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol, then stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, bacon, and stew meat pieces. Bring to a boil once more, then cover the pot with a lid and place in the preheated oven.

Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. You’re ready to move onto the next step when the beef and carrots are tender.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook until starting to brown and becoming soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

When the beef and vegetables are ready, add the mushrooms along with the frozen pearl onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of cool water. Pour the mixture into the stew, reduce the heat to low, and stir well. If needed, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot powder with 2 more tablespoons of cool water and add to the stew to thicken further.

Let cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with smashed potatoes, your favorite grain, or over a bed of roasted vegetables.


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What is your favorite comfort food when the weather gets super cold? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Boeuf Bourguignon

February 15, 2015 Print this page

I am such a Francophile sometimes, especially when it comes to French food. This is a classic dish from the Burgundy region of France, and while it sounds complicated, it’s not as hard as you might think! I made a few adaptions to lighten the dish up a bit, and I promise you won’t miss any of the butter or flour.¬†

In the words of Julia Child, the inspiration for this recipe,”BON APP√ČTIT!”

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

Prep Time 30 min
Cooking Time 2 hr 30 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 8 servings

8 ounces of slab bacon, roughly diced (I used beef bacon, but pork is fine too)

2 1/2 – 3 lb beef stew meat, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1 lb carrots, washed well and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 large onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of cognac

3 cups of good red wine

3 cups of low-sodium beef broth

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb mushrooms, roughly sliced

1 lb frozen pearl onions

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder + 4 tablespoons of water

Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot on the stovetop over medium heat, then add the diced bacon. Cook until most of the fat has been rendered and the bacon has been browned, about 10 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Toss the stew meat with 1 teaspoon of salt and add half of the pieces to the remaining bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Cook until the beef has been browned, about 5-6 minutes, rotating the pieces once or twice to ensure even browning. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, then repeat the same process with the remaining pieces.

Pour off all but about 1-2 tablespoons of the accumulated fat and add the carrots and onions. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened and golden-brown, about 15 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Slowly pour in the cognac and red wine. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a boil. Let cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol, then stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, bacon, and stew meat pieces. Bring to a boil once more, then cover the pot with a lid and place in the preheated oven.

Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. You’re ready to move onto the next step when the beef and carrots are tender.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook until starting to brown and becoming soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

When the beef and vegetables are ready, add the mushrooms along with the frozen pearl onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons of cool water. Pour the mixture into the stew, reduce the heat to low, and stir well. If needed, whisk together the remaining tablespoon of arrowroot powder with 2 more tablespoons of cool water and add to the stew to thicken further.

Let cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot with smashed potatoes, your favorite grain, or over a bed of roasted vegetables.


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Falafel (gluten-free + vegan)

February 1, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Happy February, everyone! We’ve survived the first month of 2015…only eleven more to go before the year I graduate, the year I become an adult, the year where¬†the rest of my life begins arrives.

That’s a while away, though. I’m still getting used to writing the number fifteen so frequently on my papers for school, and I still have so many recipes I want to try and share with all of you, too!

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These falafel–or Middle Eastern crispy chickpea balls–are a dinner staple in my house. I get bored making the same thing over and over again, so for something to be¬†a staple, it must be particularly special. And while it may look plain and simple, this dish is really anything but.

What I love falafel is that they can be made using very little kitchen equipment, require only about ten minutes of hands-on time, and usually yield a ton of leftovers, which are great for lunch and making people jealous. (Though I have brought in falafel for my friends and teachers, too, because I am just oozing with coolness. ūüėČ ) The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful, and everything on the plate is bursting with nutrition, from the protein in the chickpeas to the healthy fats in¬†the sesame seeds to the vitamins in all of the fresh vegetables.

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Usually, falafel are deep-fried and served in pita bread. Sure, you can opt to do one or both of these routes, but I prefer my falafel baked and served over a bed of veggies for a lighter meal and less mess.

Don’t worry, though. I promise all of the crunch is preserved in the oven! Just follow my advice and you will wind up with a deliciously crispy final meal.

Most bean burgers or fritters call for cooked beans; falafel, however, use dried beans that have been soaked. So, for your first step, make sure you soak your chickpeas in a water bath overnight and up to 24 hours to soften them up.

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The next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and invite all of your remaining ingredients–including herbs, spices, onions, and garlic–to the party in the food processor and blend everybody up to get well-incorporated.

Then form into balls and place on a prepared baking sheet…

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…and off to the oven they go! (It’s about to get hot in here.)

After thirty five minutes of baking, let the falafel cool for a few minutes before serving with carrots, lettuce, bell peppers, cucumbers, and a tasty tahini sauce. It’s as easy as that! (I promise.)

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Falafel

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min (plus soaking overnight)
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 45 min
Yield 25-30 falafel (about 6-8 servings)

FOR THE FALAFEL:

2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours

2 large handfuls (about 2 cups) of parsley, mint, basil, or spinach

1 small onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

The juice of 1 small lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

A pinch of cayenne (optional)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, to serve

FOR THE SIMPLE TAHINI SAUCE:

1/2 cup of tahini (roasted sesame paste)

The juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)

A generous pinch of salt

Water

Directions

FOR THE FALAFEL:

Before you do anything, make sure you soak the chickpeas in water overnight. This helps get the beans soft enough to go in the food processor and get mostly broken up, which is what you want.¬†DO NOT use cooked beans–that will make your final falafel too mushy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. This provides a nice base so the bottoms of the falafel will get super crispy.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients for the falafel with the exception of the remaining olive oil. I have a strong machine, so I don’t need to do much in the way of chopping/pushing the ingredients around. If you have a smaller/weaker device, make sure you chop everything up a little bit before adding it. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things moving. Try not to do this, though, because you want the falafel¬†DRY so it’ll reach¬†maximum crispiness in the oven.

Once everything is a uniform texture, get out a large ice cream scoop and form the falafel into balls. Use your hands to make them spherical, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You should wind up with 25-30 falafel.

Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish and, using a brush, gently top each ball with a coating of oil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (or until golden-brown on the bottom), then flip over and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. Serve with a variety of yummy veggies and tahini sauce (instructions below).

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

To make the tahini sauce, simply combine the tahini with the lemon juice and salt, and slowly add water until a smooth, slightly-runny texture is achieved. Tahini is just weird, so be patient and keep stirring.


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What is one healthy dinner staple in your house? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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