Super Seed Breakfast Porridge


This year is all about filling, delicious and nutrient packed breakfasts, which means it has to have a healthy amount of protein, fat and fiber in it! This breakfast is just exactly that and the perfect way to kick-off a Monday and is what I like to call chia pudding but all grown up!

The main ingredients you will need are a protein powder of your choice ( I like using Nutiva plant based, vegan protein powder which also has some veggies in it, I get mine from Thrive Market), hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and for an extra bonus, pumpkin seeds to use as your topping!

I like to have my porridge warm and topped with blueberries, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs for that extra crunch and flavor that wont put you in a sugar come (hellooo blood sugar balance)! This is definitely a versatile dish and I think coconut chips would be great with the blueberries or even warmed apples sautéed in cinnamon and coconut oil! I’d love to hear what topping combinations you come up with! This can also be prepped in advance to have later in the week. Simply let it cool completely and store in the refrigerator and enjoy cold or warm it back up! 


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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk/milk of your choice
  • 1 scoop of high quality protein powder
  • 1.5 tbsp flax meal
  • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Toppings

  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Fresh fruit of choice

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan whisk together your almond milk, protein powder, vanilla and cinnamon. 
  2. Whisk until the protein powder has dissolved.
  3. Add in your chia, flax, and hemp seeds.
  4. Whisk together for 5-6 minutes over low-medium heat. The mixture will begin to bubble and thicken up. Continue whisking.
  5. After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes. The porridge will thicken up a bit more.
  6. Pour into your bowl and add your toppings! Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Already planning on having all the chocolate this Valentine’s Day? This bread would be the perfect addition to your v-day spread! 🙂

Sweet Escape Kitchen

Whenever I make this double chocolate banana bread I can’t help but think that somehow I have won the day and I’ll get to snack on the most decadent tasting bread ever yet most of the ingredients could also come together to make a tasty health bowl of oatmeal. So yes, when I go back for my second or third slice I do tell myself it’s okay, it’s like I’m eating oatmeal. Except its super delicious moist double chocolate banana bread that has the most delicious gooey chocolate chunks studded throughout the entire loaf.

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I first made a variation of this recipe a couple years ago but made a few tweaks and I think it’s perfect now. Lately I’ve been loving adding plain greek yogurt to my recipes. I feel like all the breads I have made with it come out super moist and delicious. Secondly, I have been…

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Gingerbread Banana Bread (Oat Flour)

In the spirit of the holiday season, here is a delicious banana bread recipe but this one comes with some holiday flavors! I wanted to make a special banana bread that blended in the winter spices and flavors of gingerbread.

The addition of molasses, ginger, allspice, and the Wild Friends gingerbread peanut butter makes this banana bread extra special. If you don’t have that flavor peanut butter feel free to sub in regular peanut butter or almond butter and just add a few extra shakes of the spices. I also made this with oat flour – if you are gluten free make sure to check that your oats are certified gluten free! This bread comes together super easily and makes a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert! 

Tip: Oat Flour

  • Oat flour can be easily be made by whizzing up rolled oats in a blender if you don’t have the flour on hand. Simple run the oats until they are a fine flour.
  • If the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour blend 2 cups of oats.

I love topping it with some extra peanut butter! Feel free to add in your favorites mix-ins into the batter to make it extra special- dark chocolate chips or walnuts would be great in this!


Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice 

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 bananas 
  • 1 ½ tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tbsp gingerbread Wild Friends peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. 
  2. In a small little bowl/mixing saucer mix your ground flax meal with water, set aside for a few minutes to allow it to thicken. 
  3. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients together : oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. 
  4. In a separate bowl mash your bananas. Then add in flax mixture, egg, molasses, peanut butter, vanilla, and coconut oil (melted). After well combined using a hand mixer, add in the coconut sugar. Mix again. 
  5. Then add in your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients. Using a hand mixer just until well combined, do not over mix. 
  6. If you’d like to add in any additional fun ingredients like chocolate chips, walnuts, cranberries- fold them in at this point. 
  7. Then add the batter to your lined loaf pan and bake for 45- 50 minutes, until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. This bread is pretty moist and I recommend storing in the refrigerator. 

Tip: If you only have plain peanut butter that is fine, just increase slightly the spices. 

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Fall has always been a favorite season of mine for so many reasons – from the weather, fall colors both in nature and in outfits, and of course for all the fall root veggies, abundance of apples, figs, squashes and of course pumpkin! I often find myself whipping up pumpkin baked goods year round – definitely not limiting myself to one season!

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With that said I was so bummed when I recently went to TJs and saw most of the pumpkin items were gone – I strongly believe they should be out at least until the end of November! But fear not, I’m here to drop more pumpkin goodness.

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to share this Vegan Pumpkin Bread recipe. This is made with whole wheat flour, pure pumpkin puree, flax eggs, and slightly sweetened with maple syrup. I’ve added a yummy oat topping but feel free to leave off or add a simple cinnamon or maple glaze (just mix water, powdered sugar, cinnamon/maple syrup together!). 

TIP:

I love using binder clips to hold my parchment paper in place while I pour my batter in. I always keep a few of these in my kitchen drawer!

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I hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did! This is also the perfect consistency for some pumpkin french toast!

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I also love topping my bread with almond butter, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon or more pumpkin spice!

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Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour                                               
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon                                                           
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Wet Ingredients

  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal mixed with 5 tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ½ banana mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil

Topping

  • 3 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F and line your loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, make your flax egg by mixing together 2 tbsp of flax meal and 5 tbsp of water. Give it a slight mix and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients until well combined.
  4. In a separate large bowl, mash your banana. Then add in the rest of your wet ingredients: maple syrup, flax eggs, vanilla, almond milk, pumpkin puree, and melted coconut oil until well combined.
  5. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix until just well combined. You don’t want to overmix.
  6. Pour into your prepared loaf pan.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix together the oat topping and then sprinkle on top of your loaf pan. I then like to slightly press it into the batter to make sure it sticks.
  8. Bake for 50 -55 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing and then enjoy!!

Apple Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies came about due to my love for my favorite cookie – Oatmeal Raisin Cookies– and I think they may be the ultimate FALL COOKIE!

I wanted to play around with my go-to recipe by adding some apples to it because apples, cinnamon and oats are such a great combo. While I was setting up more baking area and prepping my ingredients, I found a can of pumpkin puree in my pantry and I knew I had to add it to the mix. I have never had an apple-pumpkin baked good, but I knew these two classic fall flavors would make a delicious oatmeal cookie and it did not disappoint.

Pumpkin adds some great nutrients to these cookies like vitamin A, antioxidants, and extra fiber! Since I knew adding the pumpkin would add some extra moisture to these cookies, I decided to cut down the amount of butter in these and they turned out perfect! 

These come together quickly and also go just as fast. You’ll get about 18 cookies in a batch and I originally only baked 9 of them and they were gone in 24 hrs. I like to only bake half the batch and freeze the rest of the dough to have on hand and easily pop in the oven for fresh baked cookies whenever I’m in the mood. 

Freeze and Bake Later
  • To freeze cookie dough, scoop your cookie dough into your desired sized  portions. Line a plate or cookie tray with parchment paper that will fit in your freezer and place the pre-portioned cookie dough scoops on your tray/plate.
  • Freeze your cookie dough for at least an hour. Once they have set/are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer safe container!
  • By following this step your cookie dough won’t stick together and you’ll be able to pull out individual cookie dough balls!
  • You can bake them straight out the freezer, just add a few minutes to the baking time. You can also let them come to room temperature and bake as directed!

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I hope you give these cookies a chance and add them to your fall baking round up! Let me know what you think! 


Ingredients

Wet Ingredients
  • 1 egg – room temperature 
  • ¼ butter – room temperature
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree (not sweetened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp cornstarch 
  • 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 scoop of vanilla/cinnamon protein powder (optional)

Mix-ins 

  • ½ cup chopped apples
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Peel and cut your apple. You want your apple pieces to be about the size of a raisin. If the apple pieces are too big they may release too much liquid/moisture into your cookies.
  3. Cream together your butter, brown sugar and white sugar.
  4. Add in your egg, pumpkin puree, and vanilla and continue mixing until it comes together.
  5. In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients together: oats, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt. If you are adding in protein powder mix it in as well.
  6. Add in your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Gently fold in your apples, raisins, and walnuts.
  8. Let your dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Scoop your cookie dough onto your prepared baking sheet. I like making scoops about 1 ½- 2 tbsp big. Gently press down on the dough with the back of your scoop/spoon.
  10. These cookies will not spread a lot so you do not need a lot of space in between.
  11. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until just golden brown. Since they are a big orange because of the pumpkin, you can check the bottom of the cookies to see if they are a golden brown.
  12. Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes on a cooling rack and enjoy! Store in an air-tight container for up to four days or you can freeze part of your cookie dough for later!

Philippines Night!

Narrowing down what dishes to make for this international dinner was really a challenge. There were so many options and they all sounded equally as delicious! I also found that so many could easily be plant based which made it even harder. Originally pancit and adobo was on the menu but having made similar dishes for Guam and Samoa dinner night’s I knew I had to branch out.

Regardless this was a super exciting country for me for two reasons:

1) I have loved so many Filipino dishes I had tried before going vegetarian that I was excited to make a vegetarian version one of my favorites – lumpia – that I haven’t had in so long and are like Filipino spring rolls

2) this was the perfect excuse to go to one of my favorite Chicago bakeries, Jennivee’s, that is Filipino owned and has AMAZING Ube Cake.

This night was a true success that consisted of lumpia two ways – pork and vegetarian, tortang talong, tortang giniling, ube cake and a sweet ube stuffed brioche bun to hold us over while we cooked.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Something you absolutely need is dipping sauce for your lumpia. There are many variations of this sweet chili sauce and I’m sure any of them will do but this is the one I got.sauce

Any local Asian market is sure to have it and if not check out the “ethnic” aisles in your grocery store- most will carry at least one variation of this sauce. This one is “Mae Ploy” brand it is very reasonably priced!

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At my local Asian market, I was also able to purchase the lumpia wrappers, carrots, eggplants, and the other produce I needed – really a one stop shop!


Menu

Vegan Lumpia with Tortang Talong
Pork Lumpia with Tortang Giniling


Recipes

Vegan Lumpia 

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb “meat” crumbles
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal, 6 tbsp water)
  • 1 8oz can of water chestnuts
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup green onions or regular onion
  • 1 sheet of nori
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos/soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • lumpia wrappers 
  • Oil for frying
  • Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce 
Find the full recipe from Sweet Simple Vegan Here

Make your lumpia filling:

  1. First prepare your flax egg by adding your flax meal and water in a small bowl, give it a gentle mix, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

2. In a food processor add your filling ingredients: water chestnuts, carrots, nori, garlic, and green onions

3. Pulse until everything is finely chopped

4. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in your “meat crumbles,” coconut aminos/soy sauce, salt and pepper and flax egg. Mix until well combined.

Filling and Rolling your Lumpia

  1. Make sure your wrappers are thawed out and not frozen stuck!

2. Clear a space for you to roll your lumpia. When you take the wrappers out of the package they may be stuck together, so although tedious, go through the process of peeling them apart now.

3. Then take one wrapper and along the edge, add about 2 tbsp of filing and then spread it out along the edge. Tightly roll your lumpia up like a cigar.

4. Once you get to the other end, you may need to wet the edge with water to get the wrapper to “stick” to itself. You can also make a cornstarch “glue” to help with this, which is outlined in the full recipe here. Using water was sufficient when I made them.

4. Cut your lumpia either in half or into thirds. You can simple snip them with kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter.

5. Repeat the process until you have used all your lumpia filling or run out of wrappers.                                                                                         

6. Prepare your oil and heat it until it is about 350F. You should have about 2-3 inches of oil. Gently drop your lumpia in, seam side down. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side. You’ll see them turn a beautiful golden color. As you continue cooking your lumpia, keep an eye out on the oil temperature and make sure to turn the flame down, as it can quickly get too hot and burn the outside of your lumpia while keeping the inside uncooked.

7. Place your cooked lumpia on a paper towel lined plate and enjoy with lumpia dipping sauce!!

Notes:

  1. You can freeze your lumpia before cooking them for a later day! Simple take your cut lumpia pieces and place on a cookie sheet to freeze for an hour. After that you can transfer to a freezer safe bag and store them in the freezer. You can fry them straight from the freezer, no need to thaw out, they may just take an extra minute or two to cook.
  2. I recommend heating up leftovers in the oven to ensure they are crispy and don’t become “soggy” in the microwave.

Tortang Talong

Tortang Talong is a filipino dish that can be described as a whole eggplant omelette and works best with Chinese eggplants. I used the recipe from this video however I kept it vegetarian. Instead of using ground pork, I used the Pure Farmland meat crumbles. I also found that one egg was enough to coat each eggplant, so I only needed 2 eggs for the recipe rather than 4 as the recipe lists. This also tasted great with the Sweet Chili dipping sauce!

Step 1: Broil your eggplants (brushed with olive oil) for about 10 minutes on each side, until the skin gets nice and charred. IMG_3800

Step 2: While the eggplant cooks, prepare your “meat” crumbles. In a hot pan, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/2 lb of crumbles, 1 tbsp coconut aminos and cook until the crumbles have cooked through. Set aside in a bowl.

Step 3: Peel the skin off the eggplant once it has cooled down and “mash down” with a fork. IMG_3801

Step 4: In a wide bowl, scramble 1 egg and add a splash of coconut aminos. Place one smashed eggplant and coat thoroughly. Then scoop some of your filling on top of the eggplant and cover with egg. To a preheated oiled pan, you will then slide everything out the bowl to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes until egg on bottom has cooked and then gently flip it. Cook for another few minutes and serve immediately!

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Almond Banana Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Oat Mug Muffin

Raise your hand if you are ready for a delicious 5 minute recipe!!! I’m all about being efficient in the mornings and getting the most done with my time BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a delicious breakfast! AND that’s where this mug muffin comes in! I’ve seen many recipes for mug muffins/mug cakes but so many of them are full of ingredients that I know will leave me feeling sluggish and have minimal nutrients.

I set out to make a healthier mug muffin that can be enjoyed as a healthy breakfast but that can also be dressed up to satisfy a sweet tooth craving! I also polled on my Instagram for flavor combination requests and chocolate was a clear winner so that inspired me to make this almond-banana-sea salt-chocolate chip oat muffin! 

I loved how quickly this came together and how versatile I know this recipe can be. I plan on making more with fun combinations and also a mug muffin with a plant based protein powder – stay tuned! PLUS this may be the best part – it can all be mad in just one mug – that’s just one dirty dish to clean! If that’s not a sure win, I don’t know what is!

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Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey/maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • pinch of flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Spray your mug with nonstick spray. 
  2. Mash the banana in the mug and then add the egg white.
  3. Give it a good whip with a fork.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and give it a good mix. 
  5. Microwave for 2 minutes, at 30 second intervals. You will know it is ready when you see the sides pull away from the mug. 
  6. Top with a pinch of sea salt.
  7. Eat it straight out the mug or flip it on to a plate.
  8. Add your additional toppings! I topped mine with almond butter, greek yogurt, almond slices and banana slices! 

Notes

  1. A wide set mug works best for this recipe. 
  2. Best enjoyed the day that it’s made!
  3. I opted for just the egg white in this recipe because I didn’t want it to taste too “eggy” but it would still turn out if you use the entire egg. 
  4. If you don’t have quick oats, you can just pulse your rolled/old fashioned oats in a blender/food processor for a few seconds – no need to make them into an oat flour for this. 

Creamy Overnight Oats

Overnight Oats (ONOs) are nothing new around here. I first started making them while I was in college. They were the perfect breakfast to prep ahead of time and that I could easily grab on my way out and even enjoy while in class (yes of course, while voraciously taking notes)! My oats recipe back then was made up of your common ONO ingredients: oats, chia seeds, almond milk, fruit, nut butter. Nothing wrong with that but since then I have had MANY servings of overnight oats and I think I have perfected this recipe so I’m so pumped to share my go-to base recipe!

These ONOs are so creamy, taste indulgent, so versatile AND they are protein packed so they actually leave you satisfied and full until your next meal comes around! Because of its high protein it makes the perfect breakfast after a morning workout. The protein from the yogurt and powder along with the carbs from the oats and fruit also make for great fuel for a busy afternoon! Since most protein powders have a sweet flavor to them (usually from monk fruit or stevia extract) I find that the protein plus the banana that is mixed in makes these sweet enough without adding in any additional sweetener like honey or maple syrup.

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I love topping my oats with nut butter and fruit! My favorite nut butter is absolutely WILD FRIENDS – it is a must if you’re looking for the best drizzle and for pure, clean ingredients in every jar! Adding granola on top of ONOs is also delicious and adds a great textural element. These are some great combos:

  1. Banana, hemp seeds, and cacao nibs
  2. Blueberries/mixed berries, sliced almonds, and almond butter
  3. Mango and unsweetened coconut shreds
  4. Apples, raisins, and nut butter
  5. Dark cherries and almond butter
  6. Kiwi, hemp seeds, and peanut butter
  7. Caramelized banana and extra cinnamon 
  8. REALLY ANYTHING PLUS NUT BUTTER 🙂

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Ingredients 

serves 1; base overnight oats recipe 

– 1/3 c rolled oats
– 1 tsp chia seeds
– 1 scoop plant based protein
– few shakes of cinnamon
– 1 cup almond milk
– 1/3 – 1/2 of a banana – mashed
– 1/3 c plain greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together except for the Greek yogurt and let it sit in the fridge overnight in a mason jar/tuppeware/almost empty jar of nut butter.
    1. You can also make it early in the morning and have it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  2. Once you’re ready to eat, top it with the greek yogurt and additional toppings like fruits and nut butters! 
    1. If you’ll be enjoying this on the go you can add your yogurt and fruit/toppings the night before, just don’t mix it in!

Notes

  1. Overnight oats can also be prepped in advance and can last at least 3 days in the fridge!
  2. I don’t have the complete nutritional breakdown but this oats recipe packs around 25g of protein that will keep you satisfied all morning long!
  3. To caramelize a banana, slice it in half lengthwise and sprinkle that side with cinnamon. Place it on a preheated skillet that has been sprayed with coconut oil and place it cut side down for a few minutes. You’ll notice it begins to smell sweet as it caramelizes and browns!

Lemon Chess Pie

With a Mixed Berry Sauce

Lemon Chess Pie is somewhat new to me but it was a special birthday request so I was feeling the pressure to make sure it did not disappoint. So what exactly is it? To be honest, I think of it like a giant lemon bar – it has a smooth sweet, yet tart lemon curd filling but with a flaky pie crust.

Lemon Chess Pie is also considered to be a traditional southern dessert and it seems like the jury is still out in regards to how this pie got its name but some attribute it to the southern accent on the phrase “just pie” which sounds like “chess pie.” Regardless of the name origins, it makes for a delicious bite of lemon pie!

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I wanted to make this extra special so I wanted to make the crust fun and knowing lemon and berries go well, a berry sauce would need to accompany it. While thinking of the crust I was reminded of a cheesecake slice I had from The Cheesecake Factory a few months back that had coconut in its crust. It was absolutely amazing and went well with the mango cheesecake. Since this pie would have similar bright fruit flavors like the cheesecake did, I decided to make it with a shredded coconut flaky buttery crust. The coconut flavor is not as strong but it adds a nice textural element to this pie. If coconut is not your jam, feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe in its place.

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Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flourimg_2253
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ⅓ cup cold butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tbsp of cold water

Filling

  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • juice of 1 large lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 6 medium eggs (or can use 5 large eggs)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal 
  • pinch of salt 

Mixed Berry Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cup frozen mixed berries 
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp water

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and make sure you have a 9-inch pie dish handy.
  2. First prepare your dough for the pie crust.

  3. In a food processor combine the flour, shredded coconut, and salt. Mix until the coconut shreds and flour are well combined.

  4. Dice up your cold butter into cubes and then add to the food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together. It will first look like pieces of wet sand, once it gets to that stage, you can dump out the contents onto a lightly floured surface and knead it together until it forms a ball. 

  5. Gently roll out your dough, starting from the center outwards, applying even pressure. You will want to rotate your dough clockwise after every couple of passes to keep a circular shape. Keep turning and rolling your dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick or about the thickness of two quarters stacked on top of each other.
  6. Once you have the dough at the desired thickness, gently roll it onto your rolling pin to transfer it to your pie pan. Gently lay the dough onto your pie pan and press it into the bottom and the edges of the pan.
  7. Prick the bottom of your pie crust with a fork 5-6 times. This will help keep the crust from puffing up too much. 

  8. You can cut off any excess dough that is hanging off the side. You can crimp the edges or simply leave it as is, or make a decorative border by gently pressing the edges of a fork around the dish.

  9. Bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is a light golden color. 

  10. Take out the oven and turn down the heat to 325F. 

  11. While the pie crust is baking you can begin to prepare your filling by whisking together the following ingredients until well combined and smooth: eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, cornmeal, and salt. 
  12. Pour the filling into the pie crust. 
  13. Bake for 40 minutes. The center will not be completely firm when you take it out. The top should have a light golden color but the center will still jiggle a bit. It will completely set as it cools. 
  14. Cool on a wire rack for 3 – 4 hours and then refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. 
  15. While the pie bakes, you can prepare your berry sauce. 
  16. In a small saucepan, combine your berries, water and sugar. Once the berries begin to pop, add in the dissolved cornstarch. Mix well and keep heat at a simmer. Add in lemon juice.
  17. Keep the berry sauce at a simmer until it has reached your desired consistency. If needed add more water, 1 tbsp at a time.
  18. Can be served warm or cooled and stored in the fridge. 
  19. Serve your lemon chess pie after it has completely cooled. Can be served on its own or with some dusted powdered sugar. Serve the berry sauce on top or on the side, also great with whipped cream!

Kazakhstan


This meal is brought to you from Kazakhstan! Besides knowing that the controversial film Borat was about a character from Kazakhstan and that it is located geographically caucasus_cntrl_asia_pol_2003next to Russia, I knew very little about this country. After doing some research I rounded up some interesting facts: 

  1. Kazakhstan became its own country on December 10, 1991. 
  2. Over 100 different nationalities make up the population of Kazakhstan – this totally transfers over to the cuisine.
  3. It has a population of over 18 million 
  4. There are three different “New Years” that are celebrated in Kazakhstan – January 1, January 14, and March 22.
  5. It is the largest landlocked country! It is bordered by  is bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the landlocked Caspian Sea. 
  6. It is the ninth largest country in the world!
  7. It is believed that this is the first place where horses were domesticated and rode on.
  8. Not surprising after fact 4, but Kazakhstan also has more horses than women.
  9. We can thank this country for apples – it is were they were first cultivated! 
  10. Russian is the official language. 

This Kazakhstan meal was so much fun to make – it was definitely a time consuming meal but it was well worth it. While researching the various foods of Kazakhstan I did IMG_2349find that many were meat heavy, however, I think this may have led to one my favorite rice dishes – a jeweled vegetarian rice plov– it is definitely the most beautiful rice dish I have ever made. Traditional plov usually contains meat, lamb being a popular choice and most don’t have such a medley of dried fruits but I can’t imagine this dish without them!

The other vegetarian dish that I made were vegetarian manti. Manti are like Kazakhstan steamed dumplings, again usually stuffed with a meat filling but I opted for  a mushroom kale filling. They were so good! I served them with a tomato and yogurt sauce and that really took them to another level. I was surprised by how such simple ingredients came together to make such a tasty meal!

The third component of this meal was an impressive feat – Beshbarmak! This is a traditional meal that kept coming up in all of our research and the name of it directly translates to “Five Fingers.” The dish is composed of meat, potatoes, veggies, homemade pasta, and broth. The “five fingers” translation originally made me feel some kind of way, but I read that it got its name because it was traditionally eaten with one’s hands and the broth component was served on the side like a soup- which now makes the name make so much more sense. However, many in Kazakhstan now eat the  meat, veggies, pasta with the broth so it is no longer eating with one’s hands.


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Beshbarmak

The Beshbarmak recipe was followed as written out in the recipe linked above. It was definitely a dish that required lots of different skills and time to make but nonetheless it was a cooking experiment! Although I did not try this dish, it was fun making the dough and I loved how colorful the dish turned out. 

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Fresh dough ready to be boiled and cooked!

 

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Finished Beshbarmak topped with crispy onions!

Vegetarian Rice Plov

Recipe 
  • 2 cups of basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 inch knob of fresh ginger, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper 
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup diced prunes
  • 1/4 cup cranberries 
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • Approx 3 – 4 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp oil (avocado, olive or coconut oil)
  • sliced almonds for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish 

Directions: 

  1. Rinse your basmati rice well and let soak for at least 30 minutes
  2. Prep your veggies -finely chop your onion, peel and grate/chop the ginger, and shred the carrots.
  3. Chop your dried fruits so they are all around the same size – this may only be necessary for prunes and raisins if they are large. 
  4. In a large pan (pick one with a lid) heat up your oil and then add onions. Let them cook for a few minutes. 
  5. Add ginger, ground coriander, black pepper, turmeric, shredded carrots and 1 tsp of salt to cooked onions. Saute for 5 minutes until carrots soften.
  6. Add your dried fruit to the pan and cover with just enough water to cover the fruit/carrot mix. Let cook for 5 minutes and then add 2 tsp of salt and mix well.
  7. While the fruit softens, drain the rice and rinse through one last time.IMG_2329
  8. Add the rice to the pan. DO NOT MIX!!!
  9. Make 5 – 6 holes/wells in the rice. This can be done with the end of a wooden spoon. Add in 1 tbsp of oil and water to cover the rice. You’ll want to try to add the water and oil in the holes you have created. You will want the water to fully cover the rice and rest 1 – 1 1/2 inches above the rice.
  10. Cover the pan – if you have a clear lid that will work best. Turn the heat to med-low and let cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are unsure if you added the right amount of water check around 25 minutes. If the rice looks like it has soaked up all the water add about 1/2 cup of more water. 
  11. After 40 minutes check to see if the rice is done. It should be light and fluffy. If it is still under-cooked – cook for 5-10 more minutes. After the rice is done cooking let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes with the lid on. IMG_2337
  12. This next step is optional but HIGHLY recommend it- you’ll transform this dish from a tasty side to a showstopper. 
  13. Grab a flat serving dish that is larger than your pan. You will flip your rice pan onto the serving dish, like you would flip a cake. 
    1. Cover your rice pan with your serving dish.
    2. Holding the serving dish tightly over the rice pan, quickly flip the pan over.
    3. Place your serving dish on the counter/table with the pan over it.
    4. Gently tap on top of the rice pan to loosen up the rice. 
    5. Lift your pan and you should have your beautiful plov – the dried fruits and carrots should be on top.
    6. Garnish with almonds and cilantro!

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Recipe adapted from here.


Manti

I followed this recipe when I was making the manti. I added kale and garlic powder to my filling just to make it a little more robust. The recipe also calls for oven roasting the mushrooms but I just sauteed them in my pan they turned out great. I also added some paprika to my finished tomato sauce and dish. While grocery shopping I could not find specific dumpling wrapper but so I used wonton wrappers and they turned out great steamed!

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Added kale to my onion and mushroom filling to make them a little more robust. 
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Add about a tablespoon into the center of each wonton/ dumpling wrapper. Dab the edges with water to help them stick when making the seal.
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You can shape them however you see best but I found this shape to work best!
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Steam for 10 minutes and serve with yogurt and tomato sauce and a little extra paprika! Enjoy!