January 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
After my somewhat slumpy start to 2013, the week picked up and I finally feel the rush of new activity, new beginnings, and possibilities. As I said in my last post, I really wanted to start the year with some vegan inspiration for y’all. Well, today I’ve got it: vegan, dairy-free, egg-free pancakes!
I still remember the first vegan pancake I ever made. I was getting a little frustrated with my vegan diet – having one of those moments where I was thinking, maybe this wasn’t for me. It was a weekend and I wanted my comfort food: brunch food to be exact. All it took was a good pancake to turn me around. I find this to be true time and time again. Just when I think the going gets tough and I may want to call the quits, it’s something quite small and unexpected that turns me around. Those pancakes are still my go-to as they are loaded with healthy ingredients. But while delicious, they aren’t the fluffy, airy, buttery bites that a pancake is known for.
Enter Candle 79′s Homestyle Pancake recipe. I’m truly ashamed to admit I’ve had this cookbook for a year – a year! – and this is the first recipe I’ve made from it. Oh I’ve spent hours reading it and gazing at the photos like a love-sick teenager, but why I never just broke out the ingredients in the kitchen and made something is beyond me. Sometimes for all my good intentions I can really be quite lazy.
This recipe was the one that immediately caught my attention when I first got this cookbook. What stopped me for so long from making it was the Ener-G Egg replacer. This is an easy pick-up from Whole Foods and there is no excuse for me not buying this ingredient sooner. Shame on me! But alas, I finally had it in my pantry as I needed it for a few Thanksgiving recipes so there were no more excuses. I finally cracked open this cookbook to get it dirty with specks of flour and vegan butter stains.
Boy was it worth it! These pancakes do not disappoint. They crisp up perfectly just as a good pancake should, resulting in a nice crusty outside and fluffy cakey inside. I’ve made them both with white flour and whole wheat flour and both ways are great – the white flour does give them just a bit more fluffiness. The cinnamon in the recipe is a bit strong which is fine by me as I love cinnamon, but if you aren’t a big fan you may go light on it.
These cakes are delicious with just a hint of maple syrup but I like to serve with warm berries. I always have frozen berries in my freezer for my smoothies so I just pop some in a glass container in the microwave for a minute or so to heat them up. If I have time I’ll let them cook on the stove a while to become like a compote. While it is visually lovely to serve the berries over the pancakes – they quickly absorb all the liquid – so if you’re like me and your favorite part of a pancake is that buttery crust, serve the berries on the side. Another lovely, albeit less healthy, option is to top these with some chocolate chips and sliced bananas if you’re really feeling decadent.
Last but not least, if you’re making these just for you – although I’ll forewarn you that whoever smells them cooking will want them, diet resolutions and all – go ahead and make the full batch. The batter keeps well in the fridge and then you can have pancakes day or night in a jiffy. The only downside: you can have pancakes day or night! You’ll find yourself whipping up a cake or two for no other reason other than you can!
So whether your New Year’s resolution is to do a vegan challenge for health or ethical reasons, or you’re just trying to cut back on dairy and eggs in general – I hope you’ll give these pancakes a try!
Get the Candle 79 Homestyle Pancake Recipe here.
July 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
I woke up this morning thinking about breakfast and destiny. What on earth do these two things have in common? Well, read along.
This week has been pretty tough. I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, but as my friend told me last night, it’s probably going to be tough for a very long time. I think she is right…
We spent last week in DC. I’m proud to say my dad has received numerous honors and recognition for the work he did, a true testament to his hard work and dedication to Orlando. Last week was a tribute event put on by several travel and tourism organizations to honor my dad. I was nervous the entire week leading up to it. I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel to go through all these public testimonials again. Certainly it was hard enough the first time.
While I did tear up at numerous times, overall the event was just beautiful. Not only did the steering committee completely outdo themselves in putting on a lovely event, but the testimonials were amazing. Having been several weeks removed from his death, I was able to listen this time and actually absorb what was being said. At the funeral, everything was a fog. I really can’t remember much of it at all. Plus I had time to talk to people and everyone said the same thing: “Your dad was truly special. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have been able to _____.” Stories abounded regarding dad’s generosity. His desire to help others succeed and be their best selves.
I had to speak again, as I did at the funeral. While I wrote a completely new piece for this event, I kept one thing I had in the original – my dad’s life lesson to my sister and I: Choose Wisely.
That was it. That was the message that he pounded into our heads day in and day out. I used to find it silly that he would always ask me, “Now Vanessa, what’s my motto? What will you always remember I said when I’m gone?” And on queue, I’d say “Choose wisely” and roll my eyes. How thankful I am now that he was always making sure we knew the lesson he most wanted us to learn. As I said last week:
“My dad felt that if you chose wisely, you could live an incredible life and realize your full potential. He chose wisely every single day:
He chose the best life partner.
He chose to live each day to the fullest.
He chose to never say “I can’t” and always say “I can”
He chose to dream and create what others said couldn’t be done.
He chose to embrace challenge.
He chose to greet life with a smile.
He chose to always put his family first.
I hope that my dad’s life will serve as inspiration to others. I hope that you whom he called friends and colleagues will never forget his zest for life. I hope that you will remember that he was a man of ideas – that this is a life where we are supposed to dream big and go for it – as he would say, ‘Why not?’”
As I was thinking of what to say for this event and crafting those words, I spent a lot of time thinking about destiny. What is our destiny? What life will we choose to live? What I will choose and where I will go is still unknown. But in light of everything, I want to make sure I’m the one making choices. Not just drifting by aimlessly.
So, you’re probably wondering what breakfast has to do with this? Well, I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, ready to start the day. This isn’t something that has happened often in the past 58 days so it was cause for a little celebration – waffles to be exact. I’ve yet to make waffles since turning vegan so this was my first shot. I found this recipe. (Although these were a bit too dense for my liking, Luis loved them and cleaned his plate. That’s a banana sauce of sorts on top in case you’re wondering. Just bananas, a little brown sugar and coconut oil on top the stove. Yum!)
I promise this story is all coming together! Breakfast makes me feel optimistic. There’s something about starting the day with a little indulgence and eating lazily, sipping coffee while the minutes tick by without a care in the world. As I ate, I recalled writing about French Toast on my blog here. I re-read this post and could not believe that in it was my dad’s motto: Choose Wisely!
As I read it, I could feel the hope and excitement I had at the start of 2011. How optimistic everything looked when now much in my world seems dim and grey. I could feel the conviction of my words.
Don’t be scared. Go for it. Do it.
Re-reading that post, I felt a little piece of myself returned. A little scrap of hope to hang on to. I remembered a stronger self. And how funny that today would have been so different if I had not woken and thought of waffles…if I’d not eaten those waffles and in turn thought of my french toast post…if I’d not read those words full of conviction and strength.
I guess sometimes to find inspiration we just need to celebrate, even if it’s just a batch of waffles. You never know what may be revealed…
January 20, 2012 § 3 Comments
Ok, first things first, the fact that we can even call this breakfast – and a healthy one at that – is crazy. But I kid you not. What you’re looking at is a scrumptious, chocolatey, nutty, and yes, healthy, bowl of oats that will start your day off right.
We all know the health benefits of oatmeal but I had never really cared for it. I spent my whole life thinking I didn’t like oatmeal but now I realize that I just never had it prepared properly. Now I literally can’t wait to get up and have my morning oatmeal.
In general, I mix it up and make what I have on hand. A few staples include vanilla flavored almond milk and chia seeds (If you’ve never had chia seeds, they are loaded with omega 3 and essentially tasteless). Other than that, it’s free game. I throw in fresh cut apples, bananas, pear, berries, nuts, and my secret ingredient: peanut or almond butter.
One day I decided to try and add in some raw cacao and that’s how this concotion came to be. It is my absolute favorite combo yet and provides a super powerful, nutrient dense breakfast. The raw cacao creates not only a dense chocolatey delight, but provides powerful antioxidants and minerals.
(Bonus for the ladies: if it’s that time of the month, make this for breakfast! The minerals in the raw cacao are essential for your body and help reduce cramping.)
Caution: eating such a delicious, nutritious breakfast may make you abnormally sweet for the day
Chocolatey Banana and Oats
A note on this recipe: this creates a velvety rich chocolate bowl of oats. If you aren’t as big a fan of the chocolate, just use less. Try a few times and find what amount you like. The below isn’t hard fast measurements. Just throw in what works for you. If you want your oatmeal drier – add more oats, for a wetter oatmeal, add more milk.
- 1/2 cup vanilla flavored almond milk
- several dashes cinnamon
- 1 tbsp almond butter or peanut butter
- 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp raw cacao
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- nuts of your choice – I like raw walnuts and almonds
- Heat the milk on high with several dashes of cinnamon in a small saucepan several minutes until steaming. Once steaming, turn the heat off and stir in the nut butter.
- In your breakfast bowl, pour in the oats, chia seeds, and cacao. Top with the milk mixture and stir. Add banana and nuts and serve.
August 7, 2011 § 5 Comments
Sure, I’ve missed the variety I had before this challenge, but can’t really say there’s any one thing I have really craved – except for waffles and pancakes. Weekends and waffles/pancakes just go hand in hand, and the thought of never having another weekend morning with the sweet aroma of buttery pancakes filling the air was just too hard to bare. So, last night I was googling and came across this blog which is adorable by the way. And I found a very promising vegan banana oat pancake recipe. (Warning – objects in pictures are more delicious than they appear! Luis has been telling me I need a better camera for these pictures and on this recipe, I agree)
I was eager to see how these were truly vegan and discovered the “chia egg”. This blogger used a flax egg and reading that in the ingredients section I stopped and thought, what the hell is a flax egg??? Did I somehow miss some non-animal eggs at Whole Foods in a special vegan section? Haha no. A chia or flax egg is made by soaking one tablespoon of seeds in three tablespoons of water for a few minutes. I bought chia seeds several weeks ago with their promise of energy and antioxidants and have been putting in my oatmeal each morning. So, luckily I had the chia seeds on hand and who knew, it really does work! It quickly becomes an egg-like consistency and I’m so excited to try this in other baking recipes.
This recipe is super easy and delicious. Using the basics, the combinations are endless. I decided to make it as-is but top it with a blueberry compote as I had some fresh blueberries that needed to be eaten. To make the compote I just heated the blueberries over medium heat with a little water and agave syrup.
The dense hearty pancake with just a hint of sweetness from the agave and vanilla contrasted beautifully with the tart blueberry sauce. Even Luis who hates pancakes, was so jealous when I plated mine (mind you I asked when I started if he’d want any so I could double the recipe and he said no) that I had to serve him half which he gobbled down and even still took a few bites from mine. Who would’ve thought – a vegan pancake better than a real egg and dairy-filled pancaked.
I’ll definitely be making these again. A few tips and tricks. I didn’t have wheat flour and used white instead – not as healthy but worked just fine. I also was at the tail end of my old fashioned oats so only had about a quarter cup instead of the half the recipe calls for – I compensated with steel cut and it worked beautifully. I made the mistake of not using a non-stick pan. These are more delicate so you really can’t have any sticking or they fall apart. Lastly, the recipe says this will feed one very hungry person or two slightly hungry people – I was starving and could barely finish my half. They fill you up quickly but you’ll enjoy every bite!
Update: Check out these orange spiced vegan pancakes I found.
May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
There’s something about freshly made waffles and pancakes that transports you right back to childhood. I always loved weekend mornings growing up. My family liked to make a big deal out of breakfast – whipping up fresh pancakes, French toast, or eggs and bacon to start the day off right. We’d all be in the kitchen working together and then sit at the table lingering long after the last piece was eaten. Now off and married, I realize these weekends were very much the result of my mom. She was the one who would get this ritual started most times.
Now I’m off and married and similar to my mom, it’s me carrying on this ritual in my home. I haven’t made waffles often – partly due to effort and partly due to calories. Yes, we grow up and have to pay attention to calories and making waffles suddenly isn’t such a good idea anymore. But once in a while doesn’t hurt. My husband hasn’t ever really developed a taste for sweet breakfasts so when I make them, I’m cooking for one. So I mostly reserve my waffle cooking for special occasions when I can feed many like recently on Mother’s Day. However, some mornings you just wake up and have an itching for something delicious. That was me Sunday morning. As I sat having my morning coffee, I decided I deserved a little indulgence of happiness, even if it was just for me. Plus I had the last few cups of buttermilk in the fridge and figured I might as well put it to good work. Buttermilk waffles it was!
As I was cooking for one, I cut the recipe in half. To be fair, I would have made even less but dividing the recipe by anything other than 2 was too complicated for a Sunday morning. (I have a handy dandy recipe divider magnet at Crate and Barrel which is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. It helps do the math for you and is a big help.) Recipes with an odd number of eggs as this one are always tricky. What I find best is just mix the eggs separately as the recipe calls for and divide it after. Trying to “cut” an egg yolk in half is challenging. You could always make the full recipe and put the remaining in the freezer for another day. Just make sure you freeze them or pack separately and don’t put them straight into a bag or they will freeze together.
The star of this recipe is the buttermilk which makes these waffles rich and decadent. Egg whites are beaten and folded in to create a light and fluffy batter which balances out the rich, buttery flavor. These would also be great with any fruit you choose or chocolate chips if you want to really have a treat. Equally a little orange zest would be delicious in the batter and lighten it up for Summer. Today I topped my waffles with fresh strawberries and just a small drizzle of syrup – the syrup was preference. These waffles are equally delicious on their own. If you’re up to it you can whip up some fresh whipped cream with a little sugar and vanilla to top them off with – that’s what I did for Mother’s Day and they were simply divine.
I should warn you – if you don’t want to eat more than 2, quickly put them away after you serve yourself. If you make the mistake I did of leaving them on the counter, one or two more may just disappear at the result of your fingers, no fork needed.
If you like waffles and don’t have a waffle maker, you should definitely look at All-Clad’s waffle maker. It makes the perfect waffle each and every time. This recipe actually comes from All-Clad as well. It calls for you to sift the dry ingredients but honestly, I’ve never done this and never missed it. The egg whites ensure a light batter so unless you’re a perfectionist, save yourself the trouble and just enjoy Sunday morning by throwing it all together in a bowl and call it a day.
Recipe from All-Clad
Makes twelve 4-inch waffles
3 eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
8 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
Maple syrup and fresh fruit for serving
- Preheat waffle maker on medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 200°F. (the oven is to keep the waffles warm and crisp them slightly. If you like them softer and plan to serve right away you can skip this and just keep them warm on a plate with a paper towel and some foil).
- In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar until smooth (sift if desired).
- In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter.
- Pour about 1/3 cup batter into each well of waffle maker. Cook until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to baking sheet and oven if desired to keep warm.
- Serve with fruit and syrup.
Update: See the vegan pancakes I’m whipping up on weekends these days.
January 2, 2011 § 4 Comments
Yesterday was the first day of 2011 which I welcomed with a mixture of emotions – mostly excitement of what’s to come. I’m very much looking forward to see what this New Year has in store for me and my husband, though honestly, I can’t imagine it being better than 2010. Let me rephrase – I can’t imagine it being better than the second half of 2010. The first half of the year was a tough one. My mom was living indefinitely in Kansas City taking care of my dying grandfather who sadly passed despite our hopefulness. This sad beginning of the year led to months of organizing the closing of my grandparents home and my grandmother moving to Florida. By mid-year, our family was reunited and things started looking up. My husband and I enjoyed a fantastic two week vacation to Spain in May which unbeknownst to us at the time, started a magical trend of good things to come for the second half of the year. We both have gone through more than our fair share of trials and tribulations so to have things suddenly click in place was a beautiful thing. Among other things, we both got unbelievable job opportunities, and after almost two years of searching, we finally purchased our first home. In all this too, it was a year of taking risks – risks that are paying off beautifully.
Thus why I say it will be hard for 2011 to top all that. But I’m remaining optimistic. And most importantly, I am remembering that the life we live is the one we choose. My dad has some pretty good advice he’s drilled into my head – just two words – “Choose Wisely”. I realize now more than ever that this goes beyond what I took it to mean – its not just about choosing the right path, the right job, the right friends, etc. Rather, its about choosing to be happy each and every day, choosing to live with integrity, to define the life you want and not be afraid to go and get it. As Marianne Williamson said “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” For me, 2011 is about going for “it”, giving it all I’ve got, not settling, not giving up, and definitely not doubting myself (both in the kitchen and out )
To start off the year with this great energy, I wanted a little celebration and decided to make French Toast for breakfast. I don’t know when I got out of the habit of making French Toast – I rarely make it anymore but it used to be a regular weekend event in my house growing up. I think French Toast was the first dish I really learned to make (and make well) on my own. The best was when my dad would eat it – he’s not a “sweet” breakfast guy, he’s more of a practical low-carb egg-white omelet guy, so days he’d go so far as to request my French Toast were a pretty big deal.
I was at Whole Foods the night before shopping for our New Years Eve dinner and had seen mascapone cheese. I remembered a special French Toast I had a few years ago with mascapone and blueberry and decided I’d make that as our jumpstart to the New Year and it turned out really fantastic. The French Toast had a nice crunch from the sugar coating. The mascapone adds an unexpected twist against the tart berries and eggy bread. At the last minute I added some lemon zest to the mascapone which lightened the entire dish and gave a fresh flavor. Don’t even think of adding syrup to this before tasting – its so good on its own it doesn’t require anything further. It certainly felt like a celebratory breakfast and a promising start to the New Year – Cheers!
I used a hearty French country bread from Whole Foods which I sliced fairly thick (a bit too thick in fact as the egg didn’t get all the way through the slice). I made us a generous portion – two big slices each which I soaked in the egg mixture.
I use vegetable oil for my French Toast and I like to add cinnamon both to the egg mixture as well as a sprinkle while its frying in the pan. Once the slices were done on the bottom I flipped them over to fry on the other side. At the end, I add a small sprinkle of sugar to each slice and flip for just a minute to get a nice caramelized finish. Don’t add the sugar until the very end as it will burn if left in pan too long.
Meanwhile mix some mascapone cheese with a little bit of sugar, blueberries, and fresh lemon zest. The amount of mascapone depends on how much you like – I like just a hint of it so a thin layer is enough for me. Also, the sugar is optional as I like my mascapone sweet.
Once the toasts are done cooking, remove to a paper towel to remove any excess oil and spread the mascapone blueberry mixture to one side. Top with the other slice (be sure to put it sugar side up) and add more berries such as blueberries and raspberries.
French Toast with Mascapone and Fresh Berries
Yields 2 stuffed slices
4 thick slices French or Challah bread
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp mascapone cheese
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
- Beat eggs, milk, and cinnamon until well combined. Dip bread in egg mixture ensuring both sides are well coated.
- Coat large pan with vegetable oil and warm over medium heat and add egg-dipped slices. Cook until golden on the bottom.
- Sprinkle more cinnamon if desired on un-cooked side before flipping and cook until golden.
- Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over slices, flip, and cook for just a minute until carmelized. Remove to paper towel to drain.
- Mix mascapone cheese, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup blueberries and spread mixture on two slices. Top with other slice ensuring sugar coated side is on outside.
- Top with fresh berries and serve.