Thursday, September 29, 2011

My first vegan dessert and adventures in the country side

Shol-e-zard
Persian Rice pudding(?) 

This one was my mother's idea actually -- a craving struck and the kitchen was again open for business.

Ingredients


1 1/8 cup Mahatma brand white rice
3/4 -1 cup sugar ( depending on your sweet tooth)
1/8 cup vegetable oil
6 1/4cups water
1/4 cup Rosewater
1/2 tsp Saffron steeped in 2 Tbsp hot water
Almonds, slivered and pan toasted
Pistachio, ground for decoration
Cinnamon, for decoration

Directions


Preheat the oven to 225F


Rinse the rice thoroughly once. Then place the rice and the water in a big pot and bring it to a boil. Once it begins to boil stir the mix regularly allowing for the rice to expand and the excess water to evaporate. It will begin to resemble Congee. Once the mixture begins to thicken and adopts a uniform opaque color add the sugar, oil, rosewater and saffron.

Continue cooking for another ten minutes, allowing the ingredients to mix together and thicken.

Finally, place the mixture into a glass serving platter, cover it with foil and place it in the oven. Turn off the preheated oven and let the rice stay there for a good thirty minutes so it will set.

Finally, after the time has elapsed, removed the Shol-e-zard and let it cool down. Once it is cool to the touch decorate with the almond, cinnamon and pistachio.

Tastes best when served cold. 

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Last week I took my annual trip up to my best friend's home/vineyard for a their harvesting of the grape festivities.  As usual, it was an amazing time with friends and family-- something I look forward to every year.

I brought back these gorgeous beauties with me:


My good friends Candy and Joey Bedoya also joined us on the trip this year to take engagement pics for my BFF and her Fiance.  All the pics aren't up yet, but I can't wait any longer -- I have to share. 




Friday, September 16, 2011

Impatiently waiting

For Fall and Winter.

For cool breezes and rainstorms.

For the comfort of bundling up in a warm winter jacket and accessorizing with scarfs, hats, gloves etc.

For holiday decor and cinnamon spice.

Last but not least.

Oatmeal.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Recipe here

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Oatmeal
Recipe here

Choco-nana oats
Recipe here

Slow-cooker Steel Cut Oats
Recipe here

I can't wait to come up with some all new, vegan oatmeal concoctions this year !!



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIAW: some days are just RAW

Breakfast: Oranges, Kiwi and Pluot

Every once in a while I have one of those days where I want to KNOW, with confident peace of mind, that I'm putting all natural pure goodness into my body for nutrition. On those days, I choose to eat mostly raw. This WIAW represents one of those days.




A salad of mushrooms, tomato, carrot, celery, avocado, cucumber, green onion, dill and cilantro ( salt, pepper and lemon juice)
Fresh homegrown tomatoes, avocado and my take on Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas


1 Large Russet Potato, Diced
1/3 large onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Serrano Chile, about 3 cm worth, diced
olive oil
Sea Salt
Pepper

Coat the bottom of your sautee pan with olive oil, once warm add the potatoes and let the diced potato cook on all sides till it is golden brown.(Medium heat or low heat works best) This is when patience will be rewarded.  Once the potatoes are done add in the garlic, onion and serrano. Mix the potatoes every few minutes , letting the added ingredients cook thoroughly and flavor the potatoes. Lastly, turn off the pan add the cilantro, salt and pepper and toss. 


This would go great with an addition of cheese like pepperjack but I was keeping it vegan :)


I may have snuck in a spoonful of Nutella.... a girl has chocolate cravings. It's ok to give in once in a while. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to make your own Almond milk

....even if you don't have " everything" you need.

If I had my way, I 'd make everything from scratch. In fact, I'd like to grow most of my fruits and vegetables in my own backyard. That would be perfection.


So, when I switched to a vegan diet I bought Almond Milk as a milk alternative. But lets face it, they have so many other items added in and they are processed if they have such a long shelf life. 

Here is the ingredient list of various Almond Milk's created by Blue Diamond:

Original

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)

Vanilla

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)

Chocolate

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, cocoa (dutch process), calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, natural flavors, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)

Unsweetened Original

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2 and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)

Unsweetened Vanilla

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2 and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E)


Yes, they add a few vitamins to the mix -- true. But nearly every vegan I know take precautionary vitamin supplements anyways -- so do we want a multivitamin mixed into our almond milk?? I do not. 

I like things pure and simple. 

After a bit of research I set about to making my own small batch of almond milk. Now, most people say you need a cheese cloth and another recipe suggested using dates to sweeten the mix  which sounds amazing but I didn't have any. 

Did I let these little hiccups get in the way? Nope! I worked around them and was happy with the result. 

Many middle easterners will often soak their almonds in water at least overnight before eating them. (Soaking them in the water makes it easy to peel as well)

We happened to have a tiny container of almonds soaking in the fridge and I decided they would fall victim to my experiments in Almond Milk making. 


It turned out to be about 3/4 cup of almond.

I added about 1 3/4 cold water to the blender, but if you add less you will get a much more creamy consistency. I've read that if you keep a 1:1 ratio you will get more of an "almond cream" instead of an "almond milk"


Anyhow, blend away I did -- adding a dash of vanilla an pinch of sweetner. Then, since I didn't have a cheese cloth, I just put it through a sieve. Pushing the liquid through, leaving me with this almond pulp which is begging to be used in a recipe. 


Rather than pour the milk into my jar and save it for later like a good girl I decided to consume it for breakfast.
Note the creamy almond milk foam on top

I  poured it back into the blender along with a bit more vanilla, frozen bananas and a teaspoon of peanut butter and breakfast was served!

Shortly thereafter I made my way over to the gym for a yoga class and the funniest thing happened during the Savasana  pose -- one of my classmates fell asleep and started snoring!  I know that pose is supposed to be about ultimate relaxation but you can bet that her snore jolted me out of whatever " lala land" I had managed to drift off to.

Have you had any yoga bloopers?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pico De Gallo



A simple sequel to the Guacamole. 

Pico De Gallo is one of my favorite salsas. It's simple -- I can see all the ingredients and I can taste all the ingredients distinctly and together.  

Whether you serve it with tortilla chips, use it to dress up some spanish rice or add color to a fresh baja style taco this Salsa is sure to satisfy. ( Wow that sounds like advertisement kinda)

Pico De Gallo

1 box of sugar plum tomatoes ( from Trader Joes) , diced
1/2 a large red onion
3 cloves of garlic
3/4 of a jalapeno, seeds removed
1/3 -1/2 cup of cilantro ( I love the stuff so I was generous)
1 lime, juiced
sea Salt 
fresh cracked pepper

Prepare this dish about an hour ahead of time so the ingredients can marry well and marinate. 

...Speaking of Marriage :p

I attended my good friend's beautiful wedding this weekend.


I picked the most anonymous picture I took from the weekend. so that the privacy of individuals has not been disturbed.  

The bride wore a beautiful lace dress and the groom a white tuxedo. It was a night full of laughter, dancing and celebration . I hope to be a part of this couple's lives and future celebrations for a long long time :)


I did my best with my makeup and my littlest sister took control of curling my hair and did an amazing job for a 12 year old. 

Next event on the horizon is my annual trip to my BFF for their celebration of the harvest of the grapes.

I'm VERY excited!  Nothing better than friends, family, love and tradition....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guacamole


After a week of eating mostly stuffed grape leaves, grilled eggplant salad and hummus I need a change of scenery -- specifically, a change of ethnicity.

Immediately, I thought of Guacamole and Pico De Gallo. What better to much on than Guac and chips when the thermometer outside registers 105?

Guacamole


2 Hass Avocados
1/3 of a large red onion
1 large clove of garlic
2/3 of a jalapeno
1 medium tomato
1/2 a juicy lime
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

The rave reviews:   "Ahh--mazing", " so delicious" " I want more"


---
In other news:


Life has been occupied by working out, job hunting, spending time with good ol' mom and prepping for my friend's wedding.

Is it just me or is there an insane amount of prep work involved in being a female guest to a wedding??
-- find a dress,  matching shoes, matching accessories ( jewelry, clutch , hairpiece etc), get your hair done, makeup done....

I'm opting to do my own hair and makeup this weekend, hopefully it stands up in comparison to all the girls who will be getting it all done professionally.

Summerade






 There is nothing quite like an ice cold drink to bring a sense of refreshment on a three-digit kind of day in Southern California.

Summerade


1 whole lemon, peeled
1 whole orange, peeled
1-2 tablespoons of honey
4 frozen strawberries
5 frozen berries ( ie: raspberries)
LOTS of Ice
1/2 cup of water

Blend and enjoy a guilt free icy refresher on a hot summers day.