Author Archives: luminousvegans

Going Rogue on these Crazy, Sexy Crab Cakes

I was working really hard at home. On a Saturday no less. I was hungry. But that was okay, because I knew what I was going to make for lunch. Vegan crab cakes! I had pinned this recipe for it from Crazy, Sexy Kitchen a few weeks ago and knew from the combination of ingredients, which includes things like hearts of palm, Old Bay Seasoning, nori and nooch, that it was going to be something I liked.  crabcakes-6649

It was already 1 o’clock and my stomach was growling slightly as a cautious warning to avoid getting too hungry.  But I pushed myself to finish one more task because I had glanced over the recipe and knew I’d be eating in no time.  How much time could it take to mix some hearts of palm in a food processor, stir in some stuff, form into patties and fry?

So I grabbed all the ingredients, propped up the recipe on my iPad and started actually reading the directions—crap, I got sliced hearts of palm not the whole stalk, oh well probably not a big deal…wait, what? toast the nori sheets?  I scanned some more— let the mixture sit for 30 minutes in the fridge…and then another HOUR?!! Reading is fundamental people. There was no way my stomach was going to make it another hour. I was already feeling borderline hangry.

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So, I went rogue and took some shortcuts.

  • I didn’t toast the nori sheets
  • I only let the mixture sit in the fridge for like 5 minutes while I cleaned up the kitchen
  • I messily fried the patties as I formed them, totally getting rid of the step of letting them firm in the fridge for an hour.crabcakes-6658

And surprisingly, they came out okay! A few fell apart (* see footnote) and the kitchen looked like someone had massaged all the counters, faucet handles and surfaces with crab meat mixture. But aside from that, my “ain’t nobody got time for dat” shortcuts went well. I ate mine with sweet relish mixed with mayo.

What are your time-saving shortcuts in the kitchen?

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*I learned that not flipping the patties allowed a nice crusty outside to form on one side helping to keep it together and prevented breakage. Also, squeezing firmly on the mixture while forming patties for frying also seemed to help.

Still Happily Redeeming My Yearly Trips Around the Sun

Alright, real talk. When I was a teenager, I used to think that I would never make it to my 30’s due to some terrible, random accident. I had no legitimate reason for thinking that. It was just a strange premonition I had that I’m sure wasn’t helped by teenage angsty broodiness and a feeling of not belonging. Thankfully, I suck at being a psychic and I gratefully (and happily) enjoy my yearly trips around the sun with good food. And lots of cake! Come on, did you really think this post was going in any other direction?

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A stroll around the hood resulted in some indulgent pre-birthday dinner cupcakes at Dulce Vegan - caramel, chocolate, orange cardamom and lemon.

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Next, we had an early dinner at Cafe Sunflower.

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Since we don’t eat here very often I usually end up getting some of the same dishes that I know I love.

For apps we got the “Supreme Vegan Nachos”- organic corn chips, Daiya, homemade chili, shredded romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, jalapeno and fresh guacamole.

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and “Mushroom Ceviche”- shiitake, enoki mushroom, jicama, mango, onion, garlic, cilantro, smoked paprika, lime, orange and avocado.2013bday-7364

We each got a “Green Tea Chai”-green tea, soymilk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and agave.2013bday-7360

For the main course, Neal got his usual, “Fiesta Enchilada with Corn Salsa”- Marinated soy chicken, sauteed onions, red bell peppers, and granny smith apples wrapped in a flour tortilla topped with shredded romaine lettuce and corn salsa.

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and I got the “Garden Loaf”- veggie loaf, herbed mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, spring rolls with organic mushroom gravy.

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Despite having a plethora of leftover cupcakes at home, I had to get a slice of strawberry cake!2013bday-7377

After dinner, I scared myself silly by watching The Conjuring. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday!

How do you celebrate your birthday? Big blowout or low-key affair?

Smoky Orzo with Brussels Sprouts and Tomatoes

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Lately I’ve been lazy about making grocery lists and end up going to the store empty-handed. Me going to the store without a plan is not good. I need a list or at the very least, meal ideas. Otherwise, I walk around aimlessly in circles thinking—what am I here for? Then I come home with a bunch of random produce and whatever else I happened to find on sale or that looked good while wandering around willy-nilly.

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As such, we seem to be perpetually stuck in this state of not having the right combination of foods to make a logical meal yet having too much food to justify another trip to the store. And I’m no good at playing Iron Chef in my kitchen—maybe if I mix this half used can of chipotle peppers with this half of a cucumber and some quinoa…hmm, what would Morimoto do?

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Occasionally, the pantry and produce stars align and our dwindingly food supply magically dwindles down into a non non-sensical meal.  This dish used a two-for-one orzo deal I nabbed during an unplanned grocery haul.  I channeled my inner Iron Chef and mixed it with smoke seasoning, leftover cherry tomatoes and brussels sprouts. The result was a meal that looked and tasted like it was planned, like I meant it! In addition to it tasting good, it was easy to prepare and required only one pan and one cutting board.

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Smoky Orzo with Brussels Sprouts and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

3-4 servings

  • about 30-40 brussels sprouts (halved)
  • 1 diced scallion
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil
  • about 20 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 3/4 cups veggie broth (+ up to one cup extra as needed)
  • half a box of orzo (about 1/2 pound or 227 grams)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 3-5 tsp of a smoky seasoning mix (I used East Nashville Spice Company’s 37206 smoke mix. If you don’t have a pre-mixed blend, consider using paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and liquid smoke)

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Directions

  1. In a large pan, saute the scallions and brussels sprouts in the olive oil on medium heat for about 8 minutes. The brussels sprouts should be mostly cooked before adding the orzo.
  2. Add the tomatoes and saute for another minute.
  3. Add the 2 3/4 cup of veggie broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the uncooked orzo, lemon juice and seasoning mix and give everything a good stir.
  5. Turn the heat down and let this simmer for about 20 minutes, until orzo is tender. Stir every now and then to make sure there is enough liquid to keep the orzo from sticking to the pan. If this happens, add veggie broth. Only add a little at a time because the excess liquid should be absorbed by the time the orzo is cooked.

So in the words of the Iron Chef’s chairman’s uncle…Allez Cuisine!

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Crispy Ranch Flavored Chickpeas

I know I was professing my undying love for kale chips just the other day. But I think I’ve found a new love! It’s like in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo moves from Rosaline to Juliet and was all–who’s Rosaline? Kale chips are my Rosaline and roasted chickpeas are my Juliet.  But let’s get one thing straight here. Both snacks are equally delicious in their own way.  I’ll still enjoy kale chips. It’s just that roasted chickpeas are so much easier to make yet still satisfy my need for crispy, savory snack foods. Could Romeo say the same things about Rosaline and Juliet? Ummm……maybe? Who really knows what Romeo was up to when he was apart from Juliet.

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Romeo’s questionable promiscuity aside, this easy vegan snack food has been around for a while.  I only recently discovered them on Cadry’s Kitchen.  The texture and taste of my first batch (mixed with just salt, pepper and oil) reminded me of corn nuts.  You know, those crunchy, salty snack foods from 7-11 that were Heather’s last dying words (Hey 80s kids, thanks for getting my references). Corn nuts come in all different flavors so I thought I would try jazzing mine up ranch-style. I used the same herbs from Isa’s Sanctuary dip. My only regret. Not making a bigger batch.

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Ranch Flavored Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 14 oz can of chick peas
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp veggie broth powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt (to taste)

IMG_6848-3Directions

  1. Rinse, drain and dry chickpeas. I lay mine out on a towel.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl- this will be thick and pasty due to the herb to oil ratio.
  3. Add the dried chickpeas to the herb-oil mix and stir well to coat all chickpeas thoroughly.
  4. Spread chickpeas on a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (until crispy).

The possibilities for this easy-peasy addicting snack are endless.  Check out this tasty looking Sriracha version from Becky at Glue and Glitter.  Or try having it as a crouton alternative on a salad like Andrea’s Easy Vegan Cooking.  I’ve done it and it’s tasty!

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How do you eat your roasted chickpeas?

Tales from the Vegan Army

This original image was originally posted to Flickr by isafmedia. (click)

Original image was posted to Flickr by isafmedia (Creative Commons). (click)

When we first moved to Atlanta, we lived within walking distance to a very hip, happening place called Little 5 Points. In said hip area, was a small Thai restaurant that we ambled into one day hoping against hope that there might be some vegan offerings. There were! But they came with something extra…

NEAL: [opening the menu after being seated] Oh, they have tofu. That’s promising.

ME: Yeah, they have a lot of tofu options actually.

WAITRESS: [walking up to our table] You guys ready to order?

ME: I think so, but we have a couple of questions. Do you know if these dishes have eggs or fish/shrimp sauce in them? [points to menu items]

WAITRESS: [looks at the menu items I am pointing to] Ummmm, I dunno. Lemme check with the cook. Are you guys like vegetarian or something?

NEAL: Actually, we’re vegan.

WAITRESS: [starts nodding head up and down and eyes get all knowing] Oh, ok. Lemme see.

After a couple of minutes, she returns.

WAITRESS: Those dishes are fine. I made sure they didn’t have any animal stuff in it. [looks really pleased with herself]

NEAL: Wow! That’s great! Thank you so much for checking! [smiling and grateful]

ME[nodding and smiling in gratitude] 

WAITRESS: Yeah, well. I know how you vegans can be. [rolls eyes]

Awkward silence.

ME: Uh. [looking confused]

….

wait for it…

….

wait for it…

WAITRESS: You know!! All ANAL and stuff.

The end.

It was strange being insulted and yet nicely accommodated (food-wise) at the same time.  We never ate there again. The food wasn’t that great. The business in that building has since changed like three times.

Expect more tales from the vegan army* in the future where I’ll share those oh-so special moments that we’ve experienced (either recently or way long ago like in this post) that only a vegan can relate to.

*The title of this blog post is inspired by a friend who described my blog as being about “that vegan army stuff”. Thanks guy. The resistance is here.

Going Old School: Portobellos with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Before Beyond Meat, before Gardeins and even before Boca….there were portobellos. This old-school fungi is straight-from-the-ground “meat” for vegans due to its thick and hearty texture. What makes these portobellos special is the savory roasted red pepper sauce drizzled on top. Served with some lemony smashed red potatoes, this is the compassionate version of  “steak and potatoes”.

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Portobellos and a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3-4 large portobello caps (stems removed)
  • olive oil
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper (I roasted mine on the stove top like this, but store-bought should work just as well)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 sun-dried tomato
  • 2-3 tablespoons veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped chives for garnish

Directions

  1. Slice portobello caps into strips. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  2. To make the sauce, blend the roasted red bell pepper, cashews, garlic clove, sun-dried tomato and veggie broth until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste and blend again. This recipe makes about 1 cup of sauce.
  3. Drizzle sauce over roasted portobellos when they are done and garnish with chives.

While I do enjoy all the great vegan meats in the supermarket, this delicious but easy sauce renewed my taste buds for this classic meat substitute.

What’s your favorite way to have portobellos?

Happy Birthday Dough Bakery!

What do you do when you turn one year old? Eat lots of vegan food ’till you have to unbutton your pants and celebrate with a gaggle of nice folks? Sounds like a good plan to me.

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This past Sunday, Holly from Traveling Pink Lips  threw a plant-based potluck to bring ATL vegans together and celebrate Dough Bakery’s first year of awesomeness in Atlanta. For the past year, this vegan bakery along with Gutenfleischers (the vegan deli inside Dough) has been satiating my needs for whoopie pies, chocolate chip cookies, soft serve ice cream, ginormous deli sandwiches, queso, pimento cheese, milkshakes and more. The pups even get a fix with their peanut butter treats.

Here’s the event-planner extraordinaire greeting us. She’s about to let us loose on the food.

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Everybody brought a dish + I brought my camera = vegan food porn. Here are a few highlights.

Mac and cheese with coconut bacon. This was Holly’s dish. Check out that rad spatula!

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Peanut butter tofu. Yes.

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100 % organic tabouleh.

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Raw cheese dip (with chia seeds!).

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Dill and sour cream potato bites. Nom.

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“Goat” cheese. I love cashew cheese and I’ve made something very similar before.

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Mini loaded potato bites with tempeh (recipe on Glue and Glitter).

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Candied jalapeno with cream cheese. So creative!

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Squash casserole.

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Quinoa sweet potato balls with Daiya mozzarella!

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My final plates. Yes plates! My eyes were far hungrier than the size of my stomach. I tried to get one of everything but I’m sure I missed some dishes as some arrived later while I was stuffing my face. Everything was delicious! I brought a black bean and corn quinoa salad (recipe here), but forgot to get a pic of it because I was too enamored with everybody else’s dish. It’s on the bottom of the circular plate.dough1yr_mixplate

Holly also surprised everybody with a gift!

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I was so excited to finally get my hands on some coconut bacon. I was also thrilled to get a Crazy Rumors lip balm (that balm is my jam) and a vegan key chain from Jeanette Zeis Ceramics.

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There was a raffle to win the big bag of vegan swag.  All the raffle proceeds went to Animal Action Rescue.

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And boy were there sweets!

Brownie cookies. We split the second to last one.

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Chocolate chip and walnut cookies.

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Vegan gelato from Revolution Gelato. We’ve had this creamy-dreamy vegan gelato before but it’s not for sale yet, so it was a real treat to have some. I tried the new flavor, Hatch Chili Chip. I can not wait until this stuff goes on sale for realsies.  According to Jared the owner/creater this will hopefully happen sometime in the fall.

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And no birthday is complete without cake. Check out these fun decorated cakes made by Dough! Nom nom and nom nom nom!

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I’m so happy that Holly put this event together. She did an incredible job bringing together an awesome and diverse vegan crowd where I got a chance to talk to old friends and make some new ones. And big ups to Dough and Gutenfleischers for hosting and basically being ‘da bomb!