Thai Vegetable Curry

I grew up hating coconut milk and anything coconut flavored, despite being Southeast Asian myself.  The idea of coconut milk mixed with anything savory was enough to make me want to barf . . . not to mention the soupy consistency of coconut curries and strong spices, and I could never bring myself to try it.  It wasn’t until two months ago, actually, when I was on a trip to Indonesia; being stuck with limited vegan options in restaurants, I dared myself to take the plunge and try it for the first time – after all, our taste preferences do change as we age.

. . . annnddd I’ve been obsessed ever since I tasted that first spoonful.

I’m still not a fan of coconut milk, but something about it being combined with the curry spices made it different.  After I came back from the trip, I knew I had to start making my own.  It was surprisingly easy to recreate with a good quality store-bought curry paste, and I’ve tried simmering it with different vegetables such as eggplants, potatoes, and carrots, all with great results.  So simple, so delicious, and so nutritious!

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A few days ago, Ms. Taavi (@healthienut) and I decided to get together for another collaboration, just in time before things start getting busy for us very soon.  We wanted to choose a few ingredients to work with as we each create our own recipes with those ingredients, and when she mentioned cauliflower and lemon/lime, a good ol’ Thai vegetable curry immediately came to mind.  We agreed to throw in bell pepper into the mix, too.

And we all know what goes in a good veggie curry – okra and fried tofu, for a variance in textures.  Mmmmmm . . .

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Served this beauty in a bell-pepper-shaped mini pot.  How adorable is this?

Besides from being healthy, easy, and delicious, this curry is also very versatile.  Throw in any veggies you fancy!

Alright, fasten your seatbelt, continue reading, and brace yourself for a spice-loaded recipe that is every bit as feisty as your soul.

(Also don’t forget to check out Taavi’s blog as well for her take on these ingredients!)

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Caramelized Peaches and Vanilla Bean Custard

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe on here – I’ve been feeling quite unmotivated, but sometimes it’s just a matter of getting back into it, right?

Anyway, Taavi (healthienut) and I have been talking about collaborating for a while and it’s finally happening.  Finally!  A year ago I met up with this girl in Seattle and found out that besides being talented and kind, she is also extremely sweet and fun to be around.  Definitely would love to meet up again soon, hopefully in one of our kitchens . . .

We decided to pick two ingredients to work with – peaches, since it’s in season, and vanilla bean, since . . . well, it’s vanilla, how can anyone go wrong with it?

Not going to lie though, this recipe did take me some serious brainstorming and work.  I knew I wanted caramelized peaches and vanilla custard, but I’ve neither come across nor been able to come up with a vegan custard recipe that was anything close to decent.  The heavy cashew flavor kills it, but without cashews, the custard would not contain enough fat to stop it from being an icky, gelatinous consistency due to the amount of starch.  My solution?  Decrease both the amount of cashews and starch, and use white vinegar to aid in thickening.  The consistency and mouthfeel came out perfect!

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Gosh, I can never get enough of those cute little specks of vanilla.

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The peaches are sweet and refreshing, while the custard is rich, creamy, vanilla-y, and luxurious.  The two go so nicely together, like a pair that was meant to be.

Read on for the recipe!

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Light and Pillowy Whole Wheat Bread + Bread Baking Tips!

When my quest to conquering the mighty yeast beast began three years ago, at fifteen, I was somewhat stunted by the notion that bread was a very difficult item to master as an amateur home baker.  I have come to realize that wasn’t true at all – and although it definitely took me a while to come up with a perfect recipe, much of it was due to lack of proper instructions and tips on the recipes I’ve read.  So, in this post, I have included my perfected sandwich bread recipe and summarized for you some trouble-shooting tips I wish someone had told me three years ago.

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I had posted a recipe for a fluffy bread earlier on on Instagram.  Now, the real challenge for the creation of this recipe was to produce a bread with the same light, fluffy, pillowy texture of white sandwich bread that was whole-wheat-only.  Whole wheat breads tend to be dense and tough; while the heartiness is appreciated, the density of a black hole certainly isn’t.

Then, how do bakeries achieve that amazing texture?  Let’s take a look.  First of all, many use white flour for more than half the weight of the total flour composition.  Ingredients uncommon in home pantries are included, such as dough improver, whey powder, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, mono- and diglycerides, and ammonium chloride, which help tweak the texture and mouthfeel to perfection.  Preservatives, such as calcium propionate, are also used to preserve the softness of the bread for days.

If you are a little overwhelmed at this point, do not worry; you do not need to stock up on all of these mysterious ingredients.  Substitution is possible.  Instead of whey, nondairy milks can be used; instead of dough improver, potato flour can be used to hold moisture and provide lightness to the bread.  I’ve still included lecithin in this recipe, as it is one of those versatile ingredients that really does wonders.  Lecithin is an emulsifier that can integrate the oil into the rest of the ingredients more evenly, thus providing a fluffier texture; it is also used in making vegan butter, and isn’t unreasonably priced (I recommend purchasing it online).  Moreover, soy lecithin is actually a healthy supplement – did you know that our brains are 60% lecithin by mass?  😉

With just a few simple aforementioned ingredients added to the traditional sandwich bread recipe, you’d be surprised at how soft and fluffy this whole wheat bread stays, even after a day or two.

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Now, onto the tips:

  1. DO follow the recipe as closely as possible on your first attempt.
  2. DO weigh your ingredients, if possible.
  3. DO proof your yeast to make sure it is alive – you don’t want to waste all your other ingredients, just to find out that the yeast you were using wasn’t active!
  4. DO knead the bread enough before rising; you want the gluten to be developed.  It should be very stretchy.
  5. DO remove the loaf from the pan within less than 10 minutes of removing from the oven, or condensation will turn the bottom soggy.
  6. Do NOT use an aluminum pan again if your bread turns out pale after a try (the pale color of the pan may have deflected heat and stopped the surface from caramelizing, and thus, discouraging browning).  In fact, I recommend a dark-colored loaf pan if you can find one, as it will help with even browning.
  7. Do NOT sub in white flour – if you want a white bread recipe, look for one, or message me (@sinfullygreen on Instagram).
  8. Do NOT exert pressure while slicing, especially when the bread is still hot!  (It will easily get deflated . . .)

I think we’re ready to proceed to the next step!  Read on for the recipe.

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Best Thin-Crust Pizza Ever with Homemade Vegan Mozzarella!

I’m a thin-crust gal.

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Call me snobby, but I have a theory that those who prefer it Dominos-style just haven’t tasted REAL pizza.  The type you get in a roadside ristorante in Italy, nothing but flavorful goodness baked to crispy perfection.

The type I was eating in the picture below, when I visited Rome in 2012.  (Excuse the brows . . . I was thirteen and couldn’t work a tweezer.  Nor did I care, really.)

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I really missed the food I had in Italy, and rarely do you find a reasonably-priced ristorante that serves something quite like it.  So is it really a surprise that I’ve decided to create my own in my kitchen?

Long story short, I got to work and came up with this recipe.  The crust baked at a high temperature browned beautifully.  I’ve created a cheese that is like no other; in my opinion, cashews have such a distinct “cashew” taste that just does not feel like cheese to me.  Macadamia nuts are used in this recipe instead to give it a more authentic flavor, fine tuning with just enough nooch, sugar, and salt to meld in perfectly with the pizza sauce.  (If you can’t get macadamias, tips are down below!)

If you’d like to make it in advance, feel free to leave it in the fridge for up to two days.  You can have a pizza for dinner and leave half of the dough for a quick meal the following day!

Dollop on your prepared mozzarella in random blobs . . .

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. . . they will spread and brown in the oven . . .

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. . . and end up beautifully on your plate.  (The crust looks white because I coated it with too much flour, but trust me, it is well-browned!)

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Without further ado, here are the recipes for the crust and the cheese!

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Vegan Tiramisù that Tastes Legit

A few months ago I ranted on Instagram about how raw “cheesecakes” are just not it.  They are insanely overrated and just taste nothing like the real thing, and the same goes for raw “tiramisù” cakes.  So, if you fear that this recipe will be one as such, fear no more!

I’ve always been a big fan of Italian cuisine, and this dessert was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE before going vegan.  Something about the coffee- and rum-infused ladyfingers that just fall apart in your mouth, layered with a creamy, slightly cheesy, sweet vanilla dream . . . just had my heart.  The phony, frozen “healthy makeovers”, featuring a date-and-walnut base with an overwhelming coconut flavor just did not do it for me.

As with many, if not most of my recipes, this is one that required a lot of research, problem-solving, thinking, and trial-and-error.  Being determined to come up with a recipe that will convince a purist like myself, I knew I wasn’t going to stop until I was satisfied with the result.  One that tasted like the real thing, contained the “forbidden”, “toxic” liquor and caffeine, and didn’t have the mouthfeel and temperature of an ice block.

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I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details of how I came about with this recipe, but let’s just say that math is more useful than we give it credit for.  Really.

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And here we have it ❤

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A close up of the texture . . .

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It holds up beautifully refrigerated, it’s creamy, it’s delicious . . . this really is a trip to heaven.  This vegan tiramisù defies odds and makes you think twice about the fact that all vegan is made from grass.  (Not)

Alright.  Without further ado, let’s get into the recipe!

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Very Vanilla Cake (vegan, basic, easy!)

As much as I fancy interesting, complex flavors, sometimes the simplicity in blonde vanilla is what wins me over.

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Many have also asked me for a basic vanilla cake that is easy, forgiving, and easily customizable.  Preferably also not drenched in oil through and through.  After lots of research and experimentation, I’ve come up with a recipe that I now use to customize for all!

I like my vanilla very vanilla, and if you do, too, I assure you that this is IT.  The flavor is so pleasantly and satisfyingly robust that no one will be able to set it down after a bite, because it is that good.  With that being said, I strongly discourage you from using imitation vanilla or stevia in here.  Trust me, the result is well worth the extra buck.

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I’ve recently purchased a silicone mini bundt pan; this is a much easier way of making your cakes appear appetizing without having to worry about making a frosting if you don’t feel like it.  Yep, I’ve got my sneaky ways of getting around things.

Anyway, here’s a close up:

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Boy, I mean, seriously . . . just look at that texture . . .not only extremely flavorful (and not to mention, vegan), but also with the texture similar to that of a traditional butter cake?

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Moist and absolutely delicious – and customizable!  Here are just some ideas:

  • coffee: substitute some of the water with espresso, omit vanilla bean, and add 2 tsp. of cocoa powder
  • citrus: use lemon extract in place of vanilla extract, omit vanilla bean, and add lemon or orange zest
  • earl grey: omit vanilla bean and add 2 tbs. earl grey tealeaves to the dry ingredients

You can also easily turn this into cake pops by crumbling the cooled cake and mixing it with your frosting of choice.  The possibilities are endless!

So, keep reading for the recipe. ❤

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Blue Pixie Cupcakes

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of creating blue food, just because it isn’t common in nature and looks very cool.  But no matter how cool something looks, to me, it just isn’t worth eating chemical-filled artificial food colorings for.

Thus I looked into naturally blue foods that could be used as a colorant.  I wish blue spirulina and blue matcha were a little cheaper, but unfortunately, they are not.  Many can’t afford them in large quantities, and naturally-derived food colorings are either difficult to find, expensive, or non heat-tolerable.  Or all three of those.

Enter the magical vegetable – the red cabbage.

Although it looks like another ordinary vegetable, its juice is actually a natural pH indicator.  When a neutral element is added, the juice’s color stays the same; when an acid is added, it turns into varying shades of pink; when a base is added, it turns into varying shades of blue.  And when a base is added and heated, it turns into various shades of a teal-green color, as seen in the cupcakes below.

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In fact, you can even use red cabbage juice to test how alkaline your body is!  Simply mix some diluted red cabbage juice and a little of your urine and watch the color sway one way or the other (or stay the same).

For our purposes of achieving a blue color, we need the batter to be alkaline.  As we know the pH of baking powder is 7, that of lemon juice is less than 7, and that of baking soda is greater than 7, a balance of lemon juice and baking soda is critical to achieving the color we want.  Too much lemon juice will result in a light pink, or too much baking soda will temper with the taste and texture.

Most cupcakes come out of the oven beautifully browned.  However, this isn’t desired in our case, as we want to showcase the beautiful turquoise color, as well as preserve as much of the blue as possible (and not have it turn green); to achieve this, the temperature is lowered, and little tanning marks appeared on those cupcakes.

So, after much trial-and-error, I’ve found the perfect pH balance and oven temperature to create a beautifully blue (or rather, turquoise) cupcake.  It looks so magical that I named it the pixie cupcake!

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After all these paragraphs of explanation (that, frankly, my chemistry teacher should be VERY proud of), I’ve put together a recipe that is surprisingly simple and ticks all the boxes:

✓ a gorgeously blue-green color

✓ an amazing texture

✓ a MAGICALLY ENCHANTED FLAVOR.  I don’t know how to describe it, besides the experience being like biting into a ball of pixie dust and unicorn poop.

✓ made from simple, cheap, easy-to-find ingredients!

I promise, this is one you’ll absolutely love if you give it a try. ❤

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Fluffy Strawberry Rolls

It may very well surprise some when I say I’ve never made cinnamon rolls before, especially since I’m a big fan.

But I’ve decided that this ridiculous needs to stop . . . and I need to jump on the bandwagon.  There’s a twist, however, since it’s spring and I can’t be more thrilled for strawberry season!

Enter these fluffy STRAWBERRY ROLLS . . .

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. . . featuring a homemade strawberry compote made from fresh strawberries, which are rolled into a heavenly blanket of fluff and baked to perfection.  As always, I’ve made these wholesome by using a secret ingredient to replace oil or butter.  I’ve also made them sugar-free for my diabetic father.

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Man, this looks like a bloody massacre.  But they turned out so delicious, I promise . . .

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See?  Beautifully browned!

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I drizzled on some tahini, since I’m not a big fan of sugar glaze.

Yum!  Are you ready to roll up your sleeves for some fun?  (terrible pun intended)

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Maple Nut Granola

Sometimes, as they say, simplicity does it best.

This is an all-time classic in my breakfast and snack pantry, a variant of the vanilla hazelnut granola that I posted on YouTube a while ago.  As of now, it has gotten over 1,000 views, so I thought you guys would like this too.  🙂

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It was derived from my basic granola recipe, which I don’t remember how I came up with.  As I talked about in my pizza-flavored granola recipe post, there’s nothing like having a scrumptious, healthy snack you can bring anywhere.  Or, in this case, have for a quick breakfast too.

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However, what makes me love this granola is its purity and trueness in flavor.  Those who are familiar with my style of cooking know that I’m not a big fan of piling on the flavors; I prefer richness, complexity, and depth, using herbs and flavorings only when they subtly compliment the featured flavor.

This granola is exactly what the name suggests – very maple-y with a sidekick of nuts, and no overdose of distractions.  To keep the flavor profile clean, I’ve decided to add only a meager hint of cinnamon (and leave out the fall spices often associated with maple), and only used one nut – raw almonds.  The slow roasting of raw almonds infused in a maple flavor gives it an almost-toffee touch.

My inner maple purist is satisfied.  ❤

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Creamy Mushroom Alfredo Rice (vegan, healthy, and GF!)

I know it may not seem so, because I absolutely love creating sweets, but I’m more of a savory foods person.  Especially when it comes to comfort foods – hot, starchy, creamy, and rich in flavor . . .

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This is one that I came up with randomly when my mom was panicking one night, because she had a potluck to go to the next day and didn’t have anything to bring.  Seeing as there were a lot of mushrooms in the fridge and some leftover cashew cream to use up, I quickly whipped this up.  After tasting a bite, I was amazed.  (I brought it for lunch to school the next day and ate it during class . . . and the people who sat around me all commented on how scrumptious it smelled!)

So were my parents!  They tried it and eagerly asked me to make it again the following weekend.  And I did.

The second time round, I made it with almonds and macadamias; however, I found the consistency and mouthfeel of the first batch (with cashews) much more palatable.  So this is the recipe I’ll stick to from now on.

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This is an easy recipe that you absolutely have to try.  It is so rich, creamy, and flavorful, yet light on the stomach and without any of the dairy!  Guys, this is how delicious vegan cooking can be.  😉

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