Tag Archives: squash

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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Kabocha Is Taking Over My Life

…And that’s totally okay by me.

If you made the Kabocha Soup from my last post, you probably have half a squash or so left over. Or maybe you don’t–but don’t let that deter you from making the dish I’m about to describe!

Maple-Cinnamon Squash Ringlets
(Scaled down from the Candle Café Cookbook recipe)

1/2 kabocha squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch crushed pepper
Pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

With a sharp paring or vegetable knife, carefully cut the squash into 1-inch circles, then halve into semi-circles Lay them side by side on baking sheet. Whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, pepper and salt together in a small bowl. Brush the oil over the squash rings and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is just tender.

I served my squash ringlets with…no, that’s not hummus! (Though I do love to eat roasted squash with hummus…) It’s Swell Vegan’s Vanilla Lemon Pine Nut Cream! I don’t know what made me think of this luscious raw cream as an accompaniment to my squash, but I’m glad I did! Together, they made for a perfect treat. The only change I might make is to slightly lessen the amount of agave in the pine nut cream because I found it a tad sweet. It’s really lovely though – even made with vanilla extract instead of fresh beans, and omitting the acidophilus. (Because, really, who has acidophilus in their pantry?)

It really does look like hummus though, doesn’t it?! I swear I’m not tricking you.

Kabocha Soup

Want something cheery to fill up your belly in these cold winter months? Okay, well, it was actually about 70 degrees here in Tempe today, but still–for most of you, I’m sure this sunshine yellow soup would hit the spot.

Plus, it’s made with the king of all squash: kabocha!

Sherried Kabocha Soup with Spiced Pepitas
(from The Vegetarian Times, January 2009)
Serves 6

Spiced Pepitas:
½ cup pepitas or shelled pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. agave nectar
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1½ pound kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

To make Spiced Pepitas: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss together pepitas, olive oil, agave nectar, paprika, and salt in small bowl. Spread on prepared baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool. Break pepitas apart, and toss with cilantro.

To make Soup: Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in garlic, smoked paprika, and bay leaf. Cook 1 minute more. Add sherry, and cook 2 minutes. Add squash, vegetable broth, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 25 minutes, or until squash is tender.

Remove bay leaf, and purée soup in food processor or blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve sprinkled with Spiced Pepitas.

This recipe is soup-er easy to make, but with its vibrant colors and fancy pepita-cilantro garnish, everyone will think you’re a culinary genius. The leftover spiced pepitas would be delicious atop salad too!

Sick Days

As it often happens, my rainy day was followed by a sick day, or two (maybe three–we’ll see how I feel tomorrow). Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that my current bout of sickness has a lot more to do with my sick–yet wonderful!–suitemate and extreme levels of stress than it does the rain, but I like having a natural sequence to my posts. :)

I have a super sore throat, and last night I was running a bit of a fever, as far as I could tell. I hate, hate, hate taking conventional medicine unless it’s absolutely necessary, so I’ve been doing what any antibiotic-weary, holistically-minded vegan would do: loading up on vitamins and stuffing my face with ridiculously healthy food.

When I first woke up yesterday morning, I knew I’d need a fresh veggie juice. I basically asked for everything except for fruit, and ended up with kale/spinach/dandelion/parsley/garlic/ginger/lemon/bell pepper/cucumber/carrot juice! Whoa! Lotsa great cold/virus-fighting ingredients in there–especially the garlic, ginger, and lemon!

I followed that up with a Raw Greens Salad, to go.

It’s almost like my juice, deconstructed! Dandelion, kale, collard greens, cucumber, green onion, carrot, lemon, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt. Fresh and invigorating.

I really miss not having my leafy greens in the dining halls, so every once in a while, it’s nice to splurge on an overpriced salad like this.

I also picked up some Amy’s Split Pea Soup, because who wants anything but liquefied food when it feels like your throat is being shredded from the inside out? Even my raw salad was a bit hard to get down.

Anddd, more garlic and ginger. I’ve been taking garlic in the form of minced raw cloves for its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, and making lots of fresh ginger tea for its anti-inflammatory properties. Wow, can you tell I worked for Dr. Weil much? I’ve also been drinking more than my fair share of coconut water (vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes!) and hot water with lemon.

Finally, I couldn’t resist buying a kabocha squash at the health food store. Besides soup, roasted squash has to be the perfect sick day food. Comforting, warm, and filling, but still light and easy to digest.

I sliced it up, slathered it in coconut oil, sprinkled it with sea salt, and popped it into a 400 F oven for exactly 40 minutes. It came out perfectly.

And yeah, the only thing better than roasted vegetables is roasted vegetables with hummus! (Well, peanut butter is better than everything, but that’s besides the point).

I just puréed some chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon, cumin, sea salt, and a splash of water in my Magic Bullet, and voilà! Fresh hummus! (I stopped eating the hummus in the dining hall when I found out from my friend who did a “Real Food” assessment of our school for her thesis that its ingredients include a ton of weird additives and modified food starches–blech!)

If you haven’t tried roasted vegetables (especially squash, sweet potatoes, and potatoes) with hummus, you’re seriously missing out. It’s one of those food combinations that I wouldn’t mind living off of. I just love the contrast of the warm, chewy veggies and the cool, creamy hummus. Broccoli and cauliflower also rock with hummus because the florets soak it all up!

The last delicious bite.

Three Completely Random Eats

So, I know I went a little crazy in the kitchen for Thanksgiving, but my foodie exploits didn’t stop there. You see, I miss cooking and baking so much when I’m at school, that when I finally have a well-stocked kitchen and the entirety of my cookbook library at my disposal every break, I literally can’t stop! It’s my favorite de-stresser, and that’s what breaks are for, no?

As I was sitting in front of my laptop at the kitchen table the Saturday after Thanksgiving, struggling to find a new way to procrastinate on my thesis, a solitary squash on the counter caught my eye. My mom had accidentally purchased an extra butternut squash for T-day, and I had a feeling that if I didn’t take charge, that plump little guy would just languish there until my parents got sick of looking at it and threw it away. Sorry, mom–I know you can roast a squash, but I could just tell that, post-holiday chaos, it wasn’t going to happen.

500 Vegan Recipes to the rescue! I’d just ordered Celine and Joni’s newest book a few weeks before, and had brought it home with me, itching to try it. The butternut’s fate was decided: Curried Butternut Squash Hummus.

Oh my curried God! This hummus was amazing. But what else would you expect when you blend an entire roasted butternut squash with chickpeas, a tablespoon of curry powder, and other yummy things? The sweet & savory combo at its finest! Great texture too–I’m a thick, chunky hummus fan (except for when I’m not, and I want smooth, creamy hummus, but whatever).

I also made another tester recipe for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. The ridiculously simple, but according to my mom for whom I made it, equally delicious, Cinnamon French Toast.

Can’t give away the recipe since it’s a tester, but I think it speaks for itself.

Finally, I made the Peanut Apple Pretzel Drops from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar for our dear friends, the Hillebrands. I think these are so adorable.

According to someoneee in my family, they’d be better with chocolate, but I disagree. Chocolate and apples? I donno. I mean, I’m sure it’d still be good, but I like them the way they are. Yes, chocolate is possibly the best thing ever in any dessert, but does that mean it should be in every dessert? I don’t think so. Sometimes, we need to let other ingredients shine. :) I’m not a sweetist!

Second Thanksgiving, 2009

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally gotten around to my actual Thanksgiving post! So here it is–Thanksgiving, Part II.

I drove back to Phoenix from LA with some friends on Wednesday, and stayed until Sunday night, so not only was it a lovely holiday, but a nice mental vacation from school as well (Yeah, I worked on thesis at home, but it just didn’t feel as painful…)

I didn’t get a chance to plan my menu until Wednesday night, which kind of stressed me out (not the least because I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sugar for digestive problems), but I eventually got a good group of recipes together!

First, my sister and I made Dreena’s Festive Chickpea Tart. Well, Liv made the filling, and I attempted my first gluten-free pie crust to go with it. I used the Cornmeal Pine Nut Crust from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, which I acquired recently. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil, but besides that stuck to the recipe. It was delicious, with a delicate, crunchy texture, and, surprisingly, the corn/coconut/pine nut flavor combo really complemented the chickpea/spinach/cranberry/walnut mixture. Sadly, we burned the outside of the crust and had to scrape it off, but it still looks pretty, I think. Kind of? Maybe?

I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance. Prior to these babies, my mom actually had the nerve to think she didn’t like Brussels sprouts. and Liv hadn’t even had them before! I was glad to be able to remedy both of these unfortunate situations.

I loved the crispy, just-burnt enough-to-be-amazing stray leaves–kind of like mini kale chips, no? Liv ended up liking them, I guess. :)

I also made two tester recipes for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. Pumpkin Sage Bread “Rolls” and Green Beans with Toasted Pecan Gravy.

I wasn’t able to taste these “rolls,” but they were very well received! The pecan gravy for the green beans was delicious though. You can see the green beans next to the mashed potatoes a few pictures down.

An entire wall of our living room is a sliding glass door, which connects it to our backyard and pool area, so, given the lovely mild weather we had in Arizona that evening, we had a slightly alternative table set-up. Half in, half out!

Here’s the spread! (Oh, did I mention that we had 9 people over besides the 4 in my family? That explains the giant table above and the buffet style arrangement below). Our entire Thanksgiving was vegan except for the turkey and gravy (oh, and my mom’s pumpkin pies) that our friends brought for the omnis. Of course, it sucked to have a turkey there, but I count it as a win that every single side dish was vegan–and that there were THREE vegan gravies! (two that I made and the Tofurkey one).

Here’s my poorly lit plate! In front: Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (my mom made ’em) with Rich Brown Gravy (that I made) from Vegan Vittles.

We had a wonderful time–as usual, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, and then we dug in! Here’s my dad enjoying the company:

Even though I couldn’t have dessert, I still had to make some vegan ones for everyone else! I chose the Pecan Pie from Real Food Daily and the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV.

Pre-baked:

Not as pretty baked, but still:

What’s the BEST part of Thanksgiving though? Um, leftovers! Brunch next morning:

In the front you see the Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon, which was definitely my favorite thing I made (I didn’t mention it earlier because there were no good pictures of it on my actual T-day plate). I followed the recipe, using gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs for the topping! This dish was kind of heaven on earth. Just pure comfort food. I think I ate like 1/3 of it myself. I’ve never had chestnuts either–it was really quite fun to roast my own! One of them actually exploded in my mom’s hair, and she made a gross joke about it. ;)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, squash.

Anddd, obligatory sister shot. My dress = thrifted. Score.

Roasted Acorn Squash (+ Seeds!)

I picked up an acorn squash at Trader Joe’s a few days ago for $0.99! Sure, it wasn’t organic (so I didn’t eat the peel), but still! Under a dollar for a pound or two of sweet, decadent bliss? I’ll take it.

I just cut it in half, scooped out the guts and seeds, sliced it into crescents, then very liberally drizzled it with extra-virgin coconut oil. A few big pinches of sea salt, some black pepper, and crushed rosemary sealed the deal and into the 400 F oven it went for 40 minutes or so! I’ll tell ya, coconut oil might be even better than olive oil for roasting squash or sweet potatoes…

Is there any pleasure in life greater than slightly charred on the outside, creamy on the inside roasted orange/yellow-fleshed veggies? Maybe roasted orange/yellow-fleshed veggies spread with peanut butter, but that’s all I can think of.

Waste not, want not! Roasted squash seeds!

Spritzed with canola oil and sprinkled with sea salt, cinnamon, cumin, and mesquite powder. Toasted 20 minutes or so at 350 F.

And thennnnn, I had way too much fun:

Don’t judge me?