Archive | December, 2013

Bake the World a Better Place: Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake

Vegan meyer lemon cake

What could be better than seeing the look of pure joy on someone’s face when you bake them an awesome, beautiful, delectable Meyer lemon cake? Well, the fact that it took you only about 35 minutes start-to-finish makes it better. And for me, what makes the moment even sweeter is when I get to serve this yummy cake to a die-hard carnivore, knowing that in just moments when they’re moaning with joy, I get to see their jaws drop when I tell them that this cake is vegan…and healthy, and good for the environment, and good for animals!

That’s right, this moist, delicious, lemony heaven-cake has no animal products at all.  And since it uses olive oil to make it moist (which has a host of benefits, from helping to prevent strokes and heart disease to protecting cells from damage), and agave nectar as a sweetener (which means your blood sugar level won’t spike), it’s a healthy dessert. Without traditional animal-based cake ingredients, like eggs, milk and butter, it saves some chickens and cows while also being better for the environment.

So bake the world a better and happier place by making this easy, super yummy crowd-pleaser that will make both carnivores and vegans smile. Happy holidays!

– Cimeron

Meyer lemon cake with berries

Cimeron’s Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake
From pantry to table: about 35 minutes
Serves: 8

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour *
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
Zest of one Meyer lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mixed berries to serve on top

* I like baking with whole wheat pastry flour since it makes desserts lighter and fluffier. I get mine at Whole Foods, but you can find it at most high-end grocery stores or health food stores.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a Bundt pan lightly with oil.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl, blend the olive oil, agave nectar, water, lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend just until the lumps are gone. Pour into your Bundt pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake, invert, dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh mixed berries or a simple compote. (To make a compote, toss the berries in a bowl with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and agave nectar to taste – let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the berries soften and release some juices).

This cake is definitely best when served on the same day it’s baked. Be sure to ziplock and refrigerate the leftovers to keep it moist. Enjoy!

How is it possible that my pencil-thin Meyer lemon tree produced approximately 8000 lemons this year? And how is it still upright?!

How is it possible that my pencil-thin Meyer lemon tree produced approximately 8000 lemons this year? And how is it still upright?!

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Play with your nuts: Mexican Chili-Lime Peanuts, Spiced Maple-Glazed Pecans, Wasabi-Soy Almonds

Welcome to the third and final installment of the Great Spiced Nut Series! How about we play with our nuts today and dress them up with some yummy international flavors?  (Hey, is that your mind right there in the gutter? Okay, I sort of lead you there, but still!) So today we’re off to Mexico for Chili-Lime Peanuts, to the American South for Spiced Maple-Glazed Pecans, and Japan for Wasabi-Soy Almonds. These are all so addictive and delicious that you’re going to proclaim to one and all the joys of playing with your nuts. Enjoy, and please let me know which ones you like best!

Mexican Chili-Lime PeanutsMexican Chili-Lime Peanuts
From pantry to table: about 45 minutes
Chili + lime + peanuts + salt = heaven. Seriously, need I say more? Just imagine these classic flavors together – if you cannot taste them on your tongue right now, I’m sorry to tell you this, but I think your taste buds are dead.

3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp smoked sea salt
1 cup roasted but unsalted peanuts

Heat oven to 250. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients except peanuts. Then add peanuts and toss to coat. Toss all of this onto a parchment-lined pan and roast for 30-45 minutes, until toasted and the liquid is fully absorbed. Be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so. Serve once they’re cooled.

Spiced Maple-Glazed Pecans

From pantry to table: about 15 minutes
These nuts are slightly sweet, a little sticky, a teeny bit spicy, a touch smoky, and totally delicious. They’re especially fantastic on salads, but they’re also great on their own.
 IMG_1519
1 cup raw pecans
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cumin
generous pinch of allspice
pinch of cayenne
¼ tsp smoked sea salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp maple syrup
 
Heat oven to 350. Toast pecans for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a metal bowl, combine the spices. Add in the maple syrup and blend well. When nuts are done, toss them in the syrup/spice mixture for a few minutes until fully coated. Spread them in a single layer on parchment paper and cool completely.

Wasabi-Soy AlmondsWasabi-soy almonds
From pantry to table: about 16 minutes
If you like things a little spicy and crunchy, this recipe is for you! The rich flavor of soy and the clean-hot flavor of wasabi are a match made in heaven, and the smoky flavor of toasted almonds brings it all together to make a perfect snack. 

1 cup raw almonds

sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
generous dash of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
dry rub:
1 1/2  tsp wasabi powder
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Heat oven to 350. Toast almonds for 10 minutes. While that’s happening, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Toss the hot, toasted almonds in the sauce and coat well. Then roast the almonds for another 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes so the sauce doesn’t burn.  (The nuts will be a little bit damp when you take them out, but that’s fine – it’ll help the dry rub stick to the nuts.) While that’s happening, in a dry metal bowl, mix together the dry rub ingredients. When the nuts are ready, toss them vigorously with the dry rub ingredients until coated. Enjoy!

Thai-Spiced Peanuts and Smoky Spanish Cashews

Welcome to part two of the spiced-nut recipe series! Today we’re visiting Thailand and Spain with our taste buds. And special bonus: scroll down to the bottom to learn how to make these cute mini chalkboard clips, which are really great for labeling party food. It’s also great for freaking out your friends who will be convinced that a deranged person is running loose in your house and labeling things with chalk. (Please do not tell me that you write beautifully with chalk because this will thwart my efforts to convince my husband that everyone looks like they have maniac  handwriting when they write on chalkboards.)

Thai-Spiced Peanuts

Thai-Spiced Peanuts
From pantry to table: about 35 minutes
If you’re a fan of Thai red curry, you are going to love these nuts, which feature the rich, slightly spicy, aromatic flavors of Thailand. Plus, these spiced nuts are super unique. Nummy!

1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp lime juice
2 1/2 tsp Thai red chili paste (available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores) (add more paste if you want angry nuts and/or you want to be a fire-breathing dragon)
½ tsp smoked sea salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp dried basil

Heat oven to 250. In a small bowl, blend together all but the peanuts, then add peanuts to coat. Pour into a parchment-line baking pan and roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minuets. Cool completely, then watch them disappear.

Smoky Spanish Spiced Cashews Smoky Spanish Spiced Cashews
From pantry to table: 11 minutes
These nuts are pretty much my new addiction. The combination of smoky paprika with rosemary, brown sugar and salt is just flipping ridiculous. People go nuts (sorry for the pun) when I serve these. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s The New Classics.

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
2 tsbp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp smoked sea salt
1 tbsp Earth Balance spread

Heat oven to 350 and toast the cashews for 10 minutes until golden. Meanwhile place all the other ingredients in a metal bowl. When the cashews are ready, mix them vigorously with the spice mixture until the Earth Balance melts and the cashews are fully coated. Cool and don’t even bother serving – just spoon them directly into your gullet.

How to make mini chalkboard clips
You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to make these cute little chalkboard clips. They’re super quick and easy to make. Just head down to (or go online to) Michael’s Craft Store and pick up any shape of wood cut-out you like. Here are a few that I picked out:

wood cut-outs for chalkboards

Next, buy some wooden clothespins, chalkboard paint (it comes in a variety of colors) and chalk – all available at the craft store. I also bought a $2 glue gun and some glue sticks to make this project go even quicker. Clip the clothespins onto something so they’re suspended off your work surface, then glue the wooden cut-outs onto the ends of the clips. chalkboard clips in the makingOnce dry, apply three coats of chalkboard paint, waiting until the paint is totally dry between applications. Then try like hell not to write like a serial killer on your new mini chalkboards.

Go Nuts with These Easy Spiced-Nut Recipes

Spiced nuts

The holidays are here, so it’s time for that annual freak-out-festival of “Oh My God, what am I going to make for all those people coming over, and gifts for the neighbors, and snacks for shopping, and and and… akkkk!” Never fear, my friends, for I am about to blitz you with a ton of spectacular, tasty and easy spiced nut recipes straight from my kitchen. Featuring flavors from around the world, there’s something here to suit every palate: Indian curried cashews; Truffled-honey hazelnuts; Mexican chili-lime peanuts; spiced maple-glazed pecans; Thai-spiced peanuts; smoky Spanish cashews. I don’t want your heads to explode, so I’ll dish out two of these recipes at a time over the next few days.

These nuts make elegant appetizers, they’re tasty snacks, and they’re fantastic as gifts. Plus they’re high in protein, and did I mention that they take no time at all to make? In short: they kick ass.

But before we get to the nuts, exciting news: have you heard that Jay Z and Beyonce are going to try being vegan for the next 21 days? This is great for them, but even better for us! Next time you’re at a restaurant without vegan options on the menu and you ask the chef to make you a plant-based dish, if the waiter gives you that look – you know the one I’m talking about – you can now throw some attitude back at him: “Would you give that look at Jay Z or Beyonce?! Hmm?” (You may also want to follow that with: “Please don’t spit in my food.”)

Why are Beyonce and Jay Z doing it for just 3 weeks? No, it’s not because they’re special guests at a Fresh Meat Festival at the end of the month. (By the way, there really is such a thing…but I think it might disappoint some carnivores. Google it!)  According to some psychologists, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. So if you know some carnivores who want to convert, tell them about Jay Z and Beyonce’s 21-day vegan challenge and see if that helps. If that doesn’t work, maybe try giving them that look and spitting on their meat? 😉

In honor of all converting carnivores, the holidays, and everyone with taste buds, here are the first two recipes in my 3-part installment of super easy and extremely delicious spiced nut recipes. Enjoy!

(Oh, and how do you like my mini-chalkboard clips?  They’re great for labeling food for parties. I’ll show you how to make these yourself in an upcoming post, so start channeling your inner Martha Stewart and stay tuned!)

Huh, when using chalk, my handwriting looks like that of a serial killer. (Why is my husband hiding the knives?)

Huh, I just recognized that my handwriting looks like that of a serial killer. Hey, why is my husband hiding the knives?

Indian Curried Cashews
From pantry to table: 11 minutes

If you like the flavors of India, you’re going to love these cashews. (And if you don’t like Indian flavors, what is wrong with you?!) These are crazy-easy to make and when you toss the hot nuts in the spice mixture, it unleashes intoxicating aromas that make your house smell heavenly.

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
1 tbsp curry powder (personally, I like doing ½ tbsp of curry powder and ½ of garam masala – yum!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 350. Roast the cashews for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium metal bowl, mix all the spices and oil. When the nuts are ready, immediately toss them with the spice/oil mixture for a couple of minutes to coat completely. The nuts are HOT, so it’s important to use a metal bowl instead of plastic (which will melt) or glass (which may crack). Cool completely, then watch people vacuum them up.

Truffled-Honey Hazelnuts*Honey truffled hazelnuts
From pantry to table: about 15 minutes

Mmm, these are so addictive!  The beautiful, elegant flavor of truffles compliments the earthy flavor of the roasted hazelnuts and the slightly sweet taste of honey just perfectly. Serve this to guests you want to impress…or just hoard them all for yourself.

1 cup hazelnuts (preferably with skin removed)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp truffle salt

Heat oven to 350. In a small bowl, microwave honey for about 15 seconds, until it becomes a little more liquid. Toss the hazelnuts in the honey and coat well.

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and pour out honeyed nuts in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, then remove from oven and immediately sprinkle on the truffle salt. Cool completely – the honey coating will harden upon cooling. Then break them up and serve, or store in an airtight container. Oh who are we kidding? Just scarf them down and screw everyone else – you deserve it!

*Please note that I did not call these “filberts.” Because that is just wrong. Whoever is behind the evil plot to change the beautiful name of hazelnut to the dumpy hick name of “filbert” (probably some nut farmers named Phil and Burt – we’re onto you!), we must resist!