Properly Full

Today marked the opening of yet another all-vegan food cart in Portland! I am forever lost in the numbers of vegan-friendly dining options here since Tim and I rarely go out to eat. But, we were lured by the opening of this new cart, Kitchen Dances, because the owner used to be a partner at Proper Eats, one of our most favorite places to dine in Portland. We impulsively decided to take a quick bike ride over to the new cart for lunch:

The cart is located in the Good Food Here cart pod on SE Belmont and 42nd Avenue (surprisingly, Tim and I had no idea this cart pod even existed! See? We don’t eat out much!). It’s tucked away in the back, but you can’t miss the bright red exterior or lovely aromas wafting from the inside. For their first day of business, Kitchen Dances had a non-stop flow of customers, which makes me insanely happy because I want this cart to stay firmly planted right where it is! The menu boasts super-fresh cooked and raw items:

After a few moments of pondering the menu, the woman working there offered us a free sample of their homemade basil-hazelnut pesto spread on some awesome chewy bread:

I was seconds away from darting off with the entire plate of samples because (1) I love bread; (2) I love pesto; and (3) I love free samples. While we were waiting in line to order, the gentleman behind us asked if we had ordered yet. I told him that we had not and when it was our turn to order, he cut in front of us and placed his order first! What? If ever there were a time for me to exercise my desire to punch someone in the face, this would have come close. Don’t fret, I’m not violent and I pretended not to notice.

I ordered the Raw Hummus Wrap for $5.00 and Tim ordered the Roasted Eggplant Sandwich for $7.50. The prices are fair considering the amount of food you get and the quality of ingredients. The food is so clean and so good for you – there’s no guilt! Kitchen Dances also offers desserts, primarily from Black Sheep Bakery. We didn’t get any desserts because I overdosed on chocolate yesterday… Maybe next time though!

Our food:

Tim’s Roasted Eggplant Sandwich consisted of: roasted eggplant, caramelized onion, and tomato with a garlic-herb aioli and a side salad. He said it was really good. I was proud of Tim because when we go to Proper Eats, he ALWAYS gets the Tempeh Reuben (which is on the menu at Kitchen Dances too) and he tried something new today!

My Raw Hummus Wrap: this was a chard leaf filled with raw hummus, carrots, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, and quinoa tabouli. I was a bit disappointed because there were no carrots or beets (two of my favorite veggies) and the tabouli was loaded with lots of onions (which I’m not a fan of, sadly). The hummus was delicious and so was the chard leaf, but I couldn’t finish my wrap due to all the onions. Tim devoured it though, even after cleaning his own plate.

I will definitely be riding my bike back to Kitchen Dances because there were other items on the menu that looked incredibly yummy. I should have known better about the onions, but I was too excited and didn’t think before I ordered.

Yay for even more vegan food options in Portland!!!

And hey, if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, you should! I keep adding more fun items to the prize!! I hope everybody’s week is off to a good start.

Coconut Mango Rolls

Yesterday the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafted through my kitchen window. I don’t know where it came from, but it was a wonderful aroma. It made me crave a warm, drippy-glazed roll. Unfortunately, I was out of several ingredients required to make cinnamon rolls. What did I do? I improvised with the stock in my pantry and created Coconut Mango Rolls – a nice farewell to summer treat! These rolls are iced with melted white chocolate, which is a lovely complement to the mango and coconut.

Coconut Mango Rolls

For the dough:

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut milk (room temperature)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup sucanat (or light brown sugar)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 cups light spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1/2 cup tightly packed, chopped dried mango (soaked in warm water to soften and drained)
1/2 cup coconut butter* (see note), softened
1/2 cup sucanat (or light brown sugar)
zest from one small lemon

For the icing:

1/3 cup vegan white chocolate chips
2-3 teaspoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

1. Line the bottom of a 9×13″ cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together water, yeast, and agave nectar. Set aside until frothy, about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk, coconut oil, and sucanat. Stir to dissolve sucanat.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), add the flours and salt. Pour in yeast mixture and knead with the dough hook (or your hands if you don’t have a stand mixer) until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

5. Lightly oil a large bowl (or use the same mixing bowl the dough is in) and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl, put in a warm, draft-free place, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume, about 1-1.5 hours.

6. Once risen, punch down the dough and let it rest for a few minutes.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12×18″ rectangle. Spread the dough with the coconut butter. Sprinkle sucanat over the coconut butter. Sprinkle chopped mangoes and lemon zest on top of the sucanat. Roll the dough (tightly) into a log (I rolled from the short end, but either way will work just fine) and pinch the seams with your fingers to seal.

8. Slice dough into 10-12 pieces (depending on how fat you want your rolls to be). I found that using a long piece of dental floss is easiest for this task. Simply slide a piece under the log and bring the ends together at the top, criss-cross them, and cut through the dough. Repeat until you have desired number of rolls (10-12). Place rolls into your prepared pan.

9. Cover pan with a dish towel and allow the rolls to rise for about 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees during the last 20 minutes of rise time.

10. Place pan, uncovered, into the oven and bake for about 19 minutes. The rolls will be golden on top.

11. Once the rolls are out of the oven, combine the white chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Cook at half power until melted, stirring in 30 second intervals.

12. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the rolls and sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top. Allow to cool slightly (it’s hard to wait long, but just don’t burn your mouth like I did!) before eating – these are best when served warm!!

*If you don’t have coconut butter and don’t want to spend a fortune on the Artisana brand, you can make your own! Put 2-3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes in your food processor and process until you have coconut butter (my machine takes about 8 minutes or so)! Make sure to stop your machine and scrape down the sides a few times to ensure a smoother coconut butter. This is much less expensive that store-bought coconut butter and tastes equally yummy.

Grahamy Mallow Brownies

You don’t need a campfire to enjoy the delicious trio of chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows. While it is less official to make s’more-like treats in your kitchen instead of the wilderness, your happy tummy won’t know the difference. These treats are definitely not the healthiest indulgence, but who cares? Sometimes you need a decadent, sweet, melt-in-your mouth dessert. And besides, these brownies are loaded with whole grains (from whole wheat pastry flour and oat-based graham crackers), hemp seeds (if you use hemp milk), flax seeds, and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. So there.

Recently, Chicago Soy Dairy sent me two bags of fluffy, puffy Dandies marshmallows as part of a promotional project: folks who received the Dandies agreed to create recipes and post them on their social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, a personal blog, etc). Since I am working on writing a vegan brownie book, I figured I’d use some of the Dandies for a brownie recipe. Yes, I realize that s’mores brownies are not a new idea, but nonetheless, they are yummy and fun to make.

Grahamy Mallow Brownies

For the graham cracker layer:

1 cup vegan graham cracker crumbs (such as these)
3 Tablespoons vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance), melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

For the marshmallow layer:

1 1/2 cups vegan marshmallows (such as Dandies)

For the brownie layer:

2/3 cup chocolate non-dairy milk (I used Tempt hemp milk)
3 Tablespoons finely ground flax seeds (the finer, the better)
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup organic dark chocolate chips
1 cup unrefined sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure chocolate extract (optional)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Extra graham cracker crumbs for sprinkling on top of finished brownies (about 1-2 Tablespoons)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper (bottom and sides). You could also lightly grease the pan but parchment paper makes removing the brownies from the pan MUCH easier, especially if you want clean slices once they cool.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, first measure of margarine, and cinnamon (if using). Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan and set aside.

3. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the chocolate milk and ground flax seeds. Set aside to thicken.

4. Place second measure of margarine and the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. On medium power, cook the mixture until melted, stirring in 30 second intervals.

5. Add flax mixture, sugar, and extract(s) to the chocolate mixture and stir well.

6. Add whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and stir until all ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be very thick.

7. Sprinkle marshmallows over the graham cracker crust. Pour brownie batter on top and gently spread with a spatula to evenly distribute. Don’t worry if some of the marshmallows end up on top of the batter.

8. Place pan in the oven and bake for 28-30 minutes. The marshmallows will puff up to at least three times their size while baking, but once out of the oven they will be a nice, melted gooey layer in the pan. There is no need to test for doneness with a toothpick. The brownies will still be a bit jiggly in the middle, but they will set up properly while cooling. Place pan on a cooling rack.

9. Sprinkle the warm brownies with extra graham cracker crumbs. Once completely cooled, place pan in the freezer for a few hours to finish setting the brownies. Then, carefully lift brownies out of the pan (if you used parchment paper to line the pan), slice into squares, and enjoy! Store brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. They taste delicious right from the freezer – no need to thaw!

Makes 16 small or 9 large brownies.

Many thanks to Chicago Soy Dairy for the Dandies!!

The Heat is On…

…It’s on the street… And in my oven! Jeepers, it is HOT in Portland this weekend. I keep psyching myself up for cooler weather and then in rolls a heat wave. I have a system down for staying sane (cool) though. My essentials: (1) A spray bottle filled with water and kept in the fridge; (2) Lots and lots of cucumbers to eat; (3) a Japanese folding fan; (4) Barley iced tea; and (5) Window blinds pulled down and shut to keep out the melting heat. Of course, I suppose a trip to a cold river would be nice too (anybody want to teach me to swim?)!

Anyways, the heat in my oven was on this morning because I was baking another batch of brownies! This particular batch has been on my must-attempt-soon list and I finally got the necessary ingredients to give them a try:

Rice Crispy Treat Brownies!!! The recipe for these delightfully fudgy, chocolatey, crispy, gooey brownies will be in my book! I am stowing them in the freezer for a cold, sweet dessert after dinner.

In other funky-fresh news, I finally opened my Etsy shop! It took me forever and then some extra forever because I am admittedly lazy. My shop name is Chirp Cards and I make cards (primarily with an animal theme because I LOVE animals!)! Please take a peek and spread the word!

I even take custom orders for cards and will eventually be adding photography cards too!! Yay!

I hope everybody is keeping cool and having a super rad weekend.

Cook, Photograph, Clean, Rep(eat)

Wow, summer is quickly fading into the forgotten world isn’t it? I am totally okay with that considering fall is my most favorite time of year. I realize summer will be sticking around a bit longer, but I’m still excited for cooler temperatures, clouds, and local apples.

It’s been awhile since my last post – with good reason… I’ve been mighty busy!! Amidst writing and testing brownie recipes for my book (and eating them too!) I had the absolute dandy pleasure of working with Isa Moskowitz for the last two weeks. My job was to prepare and cook recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, and then help with setting up photo shoots and lighting, cleaning up afterward, and eating a bunch of the food that was photographed. It was hard work but also immensely enjoyable. I learned a lot about food photography from an obvious expert and also gained a fondness for her three kitties! You can check out the photos Isa took here and get psyched up for her book!!!! Everything I made was delicious. I am hopelessly addicted to the Green Goddess Garlic Dressing, the Tamarind BBQ Tempeh, and the Caulipots. Curious? Well head over here, and pre-order the book!!!! You can look forward to filling your tummy with goodness!!

With all the business in my life, I have found myself becoming increasingly tired despite healthy eating and exercise. I am getting plenty of sleep and cannot figure out why I am so drained of energy. I’ve taken to napping during the day which I used to avoid in the past. It’s frustrating! Any thoughts or advice?

Let’s see… What else? Oh! How about a sneak peek at a gluten-free brownie that will be in my book?

These are Gluten-Free Coconut Brownies. They are for serious coconut lovers only. It would probably help if you liked chocolate too!

What would your ideal brownie be? I’d love to know!