Tag Archives: basil

Holy Yum Yum

It’s about time I give a shout out to one of my new favorite cookbooks, which I finally got a chance to cook from over winter break. The funny thing is, this book is so beautiful and its recipes so inventive, that it became one of my favorites from the moment I bought it, months before I could actually whip up any of its crave-worthy recipes. If it’s not obvious from the title, I’m talking about Vegan Yum Yum (I’m linking to it so you can buy it right now! It’s that good…) by Lauren Ulm, author of the beloved Vegan Yum Yum blog.

As I flipped through the book, I quickly realized that my usual post-it note system for marking “must make” recipes was not going to fly. My post-it notes were running low, and what’s the point of marking every single page anyways? With a beautiful color photo (taken by Lauren herself!) for every single recipe – recipes that are not only mouthwatering, but healthful and easy – can you blame me? Plus, sweet potatoes and chickpeas abound in Yum Yum’s recipes, which pretty much sealed the deal.

My first venture into the book was before I even had the book. Let me explain: the Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta has been on Lauren’s blog for more than a year, and one chilly frigid night in Scotland, I decided it was the only thing that could warm me up, heart and soul. Incredibly simple and “super quick” indeed, this recipe has become a staple for both lazy nights and dinner parties. It’s that darn good.
The first recipe we tried from the book once it was actually released were the Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Cream, a.k.a the cutest appetizers in the world, which my mom assembled for a good friend’s birthday party. If you don’t have the book, the recipe’s here.

With preparing the eggplant, cutting all the veggies-to-be-roasted into uniform circles, and stacking everything up, these are superrr labor intensive (hehe, good thing it wasn’t me doing the labor!), but totally worth it. We had to tweak the eggplant cream a little (I think we added extra cashews, lemon juice, and salt), but once it was tweaked, it was damn good. :) These were a huge hit at the party, so make ’em if you’re looking to impress and have some free time.

This is the Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad atop some romaine lettuce. This salad was bursting with fresh, simple flavors, and the crushed toasted almonds gave it a nice crunch. I think it’d be better on its own though, but it was my decision to serve it on romaine, so can’t fault the book there. And, yes, that is an artichoke bowl.

Another recipe that really caught my eye was the Delicata Squash Stuffed with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. Obviously, a beautiful presentation…

I used this roasted brown rice couscous from Whole Foods, and I really liked its earthiness paired with the sweetness of the apples, cherries, and squash. A drizzle of agave-mustard sauce brings it all together. Since I prepared this meal with my good friends Allison and Vince, it was all the more special!

Okay, so the next two meals may not be quite as beautiful as the former (though they’re still pretty nice looking), but they were hands down two of the best meals I’ve ever made. So just prepare yourself.

I’m serious. Are you preparing?


Italian Rice and Beans. A modest name for a scandalously good dish. This is why having a photo for every recipe in a cookbook is valuable–if I hadn’t seen the wonderful burst of color and texture in Lauren’s photo, I may have skipped this recipe!

It’s just brown rice, spinach, Great Northern beans, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest with a few seasonings, but, holy yum, is this good. Let’s just say I fully attribute my half marathon performance the next morning to this carbo-loaded dish’s excellence. I know everyone hates this expression (and I do too!), but this was a party in your mouth.

Aren’t the colors gorgeous? Nature is an artist.

Another colorful and unbelievably delicious recipe in Vegan Yum Yum is the Creamy Sweet Potato Bake.

Sweet potatoes, kale, and pasta (I used TJ’s brown rice fusilli), drenched in a tangy, cashew-based alfredo sauce, topped with bread crumbs (I used brown rice ones–noticing a trend here?), and baked until crispy on the outside. Comfort food at its finest.

I would make this dish again, and again, and again. And maybe again.

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How We Love Zee Pizza!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of my caring readers for being so supportive of me in my half marathon! Your words meant a lot to me, and for those readers who said that my race had inspired them to consider training for one, I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you to inspire yourself! In other running news, I’ll most likely be doing the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at home in January! I guess once you start, you can’t stop! I wanna get under 2 hours!

Now to the main point of business. So, um, Zpizza is the bomb.

Recently having discovered that there’s a Zpizza in Upland, just 20 minutes away from Pomona, my vegan friend Stephanie and my gluten- and dairy-free friend James decided to have a study party with pizza pizza party (to be fair, we maybe did homework for 15 minutes…)

The only pizza I’ve had since being vegan, not counting ones I’ve made myself at home, was at Viva Herbal in NYC and at Green in Tempe (will be posting about that soon!), but NEVER before have I had delivery pizza. Classic, greasy, delivery pizza with a real crust and melty “cheese.”

I’m pretty sure Stephanie and James were in a similar boat, because we were all really freaking excited when these boxes finally arrived (we were also excited that delivery was free…)

Zpizza is unique in that, not only do they have vegan cheese (they used to have a non-vegan soy one with casein, but now they use Daiya, which is soy-free – and free of most allergens, at that – and made of cassava root! They haven’t updated the site yet, so just call your local Zpizza to make sure they now use Daiya), but they also offer whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, and organic tomato sauce. And that’s not to mention their more than extensive range of fresh and healthful toppings! Some of which toppings you’re about to get a nice little preview…

Steph and I split a large pizza (we ordered whole-wheat, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what we got…oh well). My half was roasted garlic sauce, Daiya cheese (duh), spinach, caramelized onions, roasted yams, pineapple, and fresh basil:

Steph’s was the same, but with eggplant instead of the pineapple, and with tomato sauce as well:

And Jamesie got a nice little gluten-free personal pizza. He wanted his to be a traditional cheese pizza, so he stuck with tomato sauce, Daiya, and basil. Can’t blame him, though. Look at it!

Yeah, I know you’re waiting for the delightfully greasy, mid-bite money shot…

Daiya tastes best hot, so be sure to reheat your slices if they cool down – it really makes a difference in your Zpizza experience, I promise.

Next time, I think I’m getting tomato sauce, Daiya, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and cilantro. Oh, and actually on whole wheat this time.

Back to the pizza party. You didn’t think we could end it without dessert, didya?

What flavor? Why, only the best ice cream known to vegankind – and mankind! Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough!

It’s gluten-free, which I had forgotten until I saw the labeling at the store, and then I just knew I had to get it to round out our night. See picture below for humongous chunk of said gluten-free cookie dough.

Happy kids, finally feeling like typical, unhealthy college students.

Sweet Potato Soup, White Bean Hummus, Pretty Pasta, Fruit Tart, and Pudding Cake

Sometimes there’s just no way to group the subject of your post into anything more than an eclectic title. This post is kinda just a buildup of the past couple days, so you’ll just have to deal with it!

A couple days ago, I made the Nutty Sweet Potato + Kale Soup from Kath Eats Real Food after seeing La Belle Vegan enjoy it! :) I followed the recipe except I added a Tbs of PB into the actual soup because, well, why not?!

This soup is insanely wonderful. It’s really thick and creamy, and it has so many yummy ingredients–sweet potatoes, peanut butter, vanilla, raisins, kale, garam masala–what’s not to like? Don’t let the fact that vanilla and kale are in the same recipe scare you! Also: it tastes way better the next day!

Next up are a few things I made for a dinner party for our friends, the Levenbergs (This is a little shout out to you guys if you read this! We had so much fun last night!). For an appetizer, I made the White Bean Hummus with Thyme and Basil from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan (and Dreena just posted the recipe on her blog. Coincidence?), and my sister and I made homemade whole wheat pita chips for dipping (just cut up some pita into triangles, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder, and bake at 350ish for 20 or so minutes, flipping halfway through).

It comes out a lovely pale, almost sea-foam, green color, and it tastes as good as it looks! Bursting with the flavor of fresh herbs.

The main course was Whole-Wheat Shells with Asparagus, Peas, Feta, and Mint from the April issue of the Vegetarian Times. I’m always a bit skeptical making magazine recipes because I feel like they’re not as tried ‘n true as cookbook ones and I’ve had a couple so-so magazine meals, but I’m glad I went for it here because this dish came together beautifully. I used Sunergia Mediterranean Herb Soy Feta (I wanted to make my own–there’s a recipe for almond feta in the same issue, but I neglected to notice that it had a shiitake load of prep time until the day of, so that was a no go). On a quick side note, I can’t recommend Sunergia enough! Their feta is possibly the best soy cheese I’ve ever had in terms of how well it resembles the real thing. It has a nice salty, tangy bite to it, and the same crumbly texture. Definitely try it out if you can!

My favorite part of this recipe was that every ingredient was green. Asparagus, peas, basil, mint, green onions. The varying verdant shades were really gorgeous, and the dish was light and fresh.

For dessert I made the Fruit Tart from the Joy of Vegan Baking. It has a Shortbread Crust (with only 3 ingredients!) that is brushed with jam (I used strawberry), topped with Pastry Cream (I made the banana variation, which I highly recommend), decorated with fresh fruit, and finally, glazed with more jam. Here she is half naked:

And fully clothed:

You almost don’t want to cut it up. Almost.

Last, but not least, and from a completely different night, Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake! I know, I know, calm down. Try to resist jumping up and down with excitement. This is a recipe that will be in Dreena Burton’s new cookbook that she was kind enough to let me test as a veganversary present of sorts. Thank you so much, Dreena! I wasn’t able to make it for my veganversary because of school work at the time, but I made it last night to celebrate my 21st birthday…3 weeks late, haha. It probably seems weird that I made my own birthday cake, but I love baking so much, that it would have been torture for me to sit back and watch someone else make it! I’d never made a pudding cake before, and the concept of pouring boiling chocolate water over a pan of cake batter just prior to putting it into the oven was intriguing to me.

Here it is fresh out of the oven:

You’d never know there was any pudding-y goodness lurking under there, would you? At least until…

Wha-BAM!

God bless you, Dreena. My mom said this may have been the best vegan dessert she’s ever had–and with me as her daughter, she’s had A LOT–and I just might have to agree.