Valentines Day

strawberry lemon rice crispies

Yesterday was World Cancer Day.

Yesterday was the day I spent the morning with my dad and the head of oncology at our hospital. Hearing a new cancer diagnosis, with an accompanying recommendation of a laryngectomy. Dad will have his voice box removed permanently, and with it, the cancer. Hopefully permanently.

Surgery is scheduled for this Thursday. Which is a good thing, because I will not be able to think of anything else until then.

strawberry lemon rice crispies

I want to say Thank You, again. Thank you to all of you who continue to pray and send good thoughts, ask about Dad and ask about me. You all have made this experience much more bearable. Sometimes, even happy.

I think it is appropriate that I originally made this recipe as a Thank You for someone who has been a huge lifesaver to me.

My strawberry lemon rice crispies are dessert number two in my [click to continue…]

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salted toffee crunch truffles

If there is something I like as much as the classic pairing of chocolate and peanut butter, it is chocolate and toffee. Chocolate and toffee and salt.

Welcome to Day One of spabettie’s Vegan Valentines – I made you some truffles.

Another thing I love? Mixed textures. The ganache filling in these truffles is cool and rich and velvety smooth. The toffee pieces mixed in have a warm creamy flavor while being crunchy sweet.

While these truffles have [click to continue…]

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this Valentines, Jason and I celebrated at one of my favorite places, Blossoming Lotus. they had a special Valentines menu, with two options for each course. as we normally do, we each chose one and shared.

we had a cheers with cocktails. mine:

White October – vanilla infused vodka, Averna, Cafe Lolita, coconut milk, ginger sugar, maple syrup – served up

this was amazing. mildly sweet, strong coffee and maple flavors. deliciously warming.
I had two.

Wintry Mix Manhattan – Bulleit rye, cinnamon-ginger infused Vya vermouth, orange bitters, barrel-aged bitters

Jason loved his Manhattan - enough that he talked about recreating his own version at home. sounds like someone I know…

the amuse:

Seasonal marinated and pickled vegetables

we each had our favorites with this plate – I loved the cauliflower, radish and the chili seasoned carrots! Jason liked the green beans and the beets.

the salad course:

wild arugula salad with preserved Meyer lemon and za’atar vinaigrette, roasted red and gold beets, pear

the arugula was deliciously nutty and spicy, and the pear was an inventive addition. we both loved this.

winter citrus salad with shaved fennel and basil, pomegranate, white balsamic

you know I love my vibrant colors in food – visually, this was my favorite of the evening. the bright flavors and the basil earned a place as my favorites in taste as well.

marinated king trumpet mushroom nigiri with parsnip rice, collard green maki roll with cucumber and avocado, salad of kale and wakame, burdock-carrot kinpira, pickled ginger

almost every visit to Blossoming Lotus includes me enjoying their collard rolls, or taking an order to go. I was very happy to see they made a roll for one of the choices – Jason and I both loved this course. I could eat these every day.

cornmeal and herb encrusted portobello, garlic chive mashed potatoes, braised chard, red wine demi glace

straight up comfort food.

I’m not even hungry right now and thinking of this plate just made my stomach growl and my mouth water… I could so eat this right now (yeah, it’s 4:38 in the morning…)

the portobello was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. a bite of portobello with a pouf of mashed potato blanketed in chard and dunked into the glorious demi glace…
I think that would satisfy any omnivore. completely.

raw chocolate torte with cashew crust and banana sorbet

this was gorgeously smooth and perfect. the banana sorbet (with shreds of mango!) was a wonderful light pairing to the rich chocolate.

deliriously decadent.

Meyer lemon polenta cake, cara cara orange curd, almond lace cookie

as much as I loved the chocolate, I loved this one just as much if not more. I love a polenta cake that is very mildly sweet, and the orange curd was bright and beautiful,
tart and sweet.

I loved sharing both of these desserts with my Valentine.

…and if that was not enough, there were surprise truffles at the end. three flavors, two of each, one eaten with a perfect cup of coffee, two enjoyed on the way home.

we were both happy with our Valentines choice of Blossoming Lotus. After an uncharacteristic and slightly weird start (the door was locked until seating time, when we were asked to enter single file for our seating assignments), my favorite Portland gem quickly recovered and we were delighted by course after delectable course. We had some great conversation with the very talented and informed mixologist, talking cocktails, coffee and bitters (we will return in the spring for the rhubarb bitters!).

 

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

 

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I have told you about the time we were able to get almost the whole first class cabin of a flight to change their drink order to Baileys and coffee. Baileys and coffee was also a standard mid morning indulgence when we were snowed in for three weeks a few years back. We’d go on walks in the snow, come back home, start a fire and enjoy a coffee.

I have a new favorite Baileys drink!

Baileys and black tea.

Served in the ceramic version of my favorite New York deli cup. Everything tastes better in the New York deli cup.

Very easy, really. Not even a recipe.

I brewed my favorite black tea. I added a couple shots of my homemade Baileys to it.

Mmm, this is my newest obsession. I may have to wait until Saturday to enjoy this as a Valentines breakfast… and I’ll have to wait until my nursing shift is over, but we will have this with breakfast.

We will also have french toast.

 

You can just go ahead and make an extra cup of Baileys and tea, then use part of it for the french toast batter. Then, you know, enjoy the rest. Cheers!

baileys and black tea french toast

dairy, egg and gluten free, vegan

makes six pieces

1/2 container (6 ounces) silken tofu
2 shots Baileys Irish Cream*
1/3 cup steeped black tea
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla
6 pieces your favorite gluten free bread 

*substitute Baileys (and tea) for your choice of milk – I have made this with coconut milk

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Thin with more liquid as necessary (silken tofu varies in consistency). Pour into shallow bowl, dip bread pieces into batter and cook on a griddle over medium heat, a minute or two on each side, until cooked through and golden.

Serve with coconut spread (or butter), maple syrup and fresh fruit. Earth Balance coconut spread melts just like butter, and is so tasty good.

Being mainly gluten free and vegan, I used to think french toast was just not going to be. Oh how I love french toast – and it’s one thing that reminds me of great breakfasts shared with Grandpa Z.

I can once again make french toast – this is as good as any I’ve ever had. Great for a Valentines, or the Saturday following…

Happy Valentines Day!

 

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I made several flavors of peanut butter cups for Valentines Day. For a step by step photo tutorial (and to see some detailed Earth chocolates), click here. For the following recipes, refer to that method when reading directions.

Peanut butter cups are easy to make, using very few ingredients, and can be made tonight, in time for Valentines Day! Making up surprise middles is the best part.

The new favorite peanut butter cup in our house? Wasabi.

wasabi peanut butter cups

After the second layer of peanut butter, dot wasabi on top or if you are adventurous and like spicy heat, spread a layer atop peanut butter. Yum. Continue and complete with final layer(s) of chocolate.

I was generous with the wasabi:

Wasabi and peanut butter are a surprisingly good pairing. Nestle that perfect pairing into dark chocolate? Happy Valentines Day, indeed.

graham peanut butter cups

Prior to the second layer of peanut butter, add a layer of graham crumbs to the first layer of chocolate. Top with peanut butter layer and continue with final layers of chocolate.

dark chocolate ginger cups

Get rid of the peanut butter altogether in this one! Replace with generous chunks of crystallized ginger, cover with final layer of dark chocolate. Mmm – such a delicious combination!

…and then? I covered them in Valentines decor! Remember how I told you my first try with vegan white chocolate didn’t quite work this year? I was able to salvage it, and I made it into fuchsia fondant hearts. Hearts that topped each and every flavor of peanut butter cups.

Well, the ones that didn’t have swirled chocolate and pink glitter or rainbow sprinkles.

Happy Valentines!

 

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Yep, you read that right, Oreo.

Do you know there are vanilla Oreos now? I may like them even more than the original. Although I know either choice would be good in this crust, I went with Golden.

This time.

I’m going to add to the conversation about Oreos being vegan, and throw my hat into the “yes they are” side of the ring. Healthy? Not at all. Tasty? Sometimes. Always.

As a crust for cheesecake bars? Absolutely. Throw them in the food processor, filling and all. I still added melted butter, but reduced the amount. This crust is good.

You may want to throw a few extra cookies into into the processor, if you taste test like me.

raspberry cheesecake oreo bars

dairy and egg free, vegan

crust:

one half package Golden Oreos
1 tablespoon butter (Earth Balance), melted

Process Oreos in to crumb; add melted butter and combine. Press into 9×9 baking dish, bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

filling:

2 packages cream cheese (8 oz Tofutti), room temperature
2 tablespoons Ener-G egg powder
3 tablespoons NuNaturals More Fiber Baking Blend
2 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons agave, divided
1 pint fresh raspberries 

Combine cream cheese, egg powder, baking blend, almond milk and 1 tablespoon agave. Divide in half and set aside. In saucepan over medium heat, combine raspberries and remaining 1 tablespoon agave. Stir until raspberries make a syrup, leaving some berries intact.

Combine berries with half cheesecake batter. Pour ‘plain’ batter over crust, top with ‘berried’ batter. Bake at 375 for 37-42 minutes or until set. Cool completely on counter before cutting; store covered in refrigerator.

This is one of the last in my series of Valentines desserts – although it also works for a random Saturday.

Cuteness for the daya sheep-herding rabbit.

Happy Saturday!

 

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Today I bring you yet another Valentines treat (I think I declared it Valentines Week?). As rich and flavorful as this recipe is, it is also very easy, and no bake.

Even if you do not make the bars heart shaped, it is already appropriately colored for Valentines. Naturally and vibrantly colored.

If you do make heart shapes? You get many little scraps to snack on. This is another positive in my book.

pomegranate cranberry bars

sesame cashew crust:
 

2 cups raw cashews
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Pulse cashews and sesame seeds in food processor; add coconut oil and blend until dough forms. Line 9X9 square baking dish with parchment, spread crust in even layer.

pomegranate cranberry filling:
 

6 oz (1 bag) dried cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/3 block tempeh (7 ounce package)
1 tablespoon agave

Pulse cranberries, pomegranate, lime juice + zest, and tempeh, add agave. Spread filling in even layer atop crust.

Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting in squares. Makes 9-16 squares, depending on serving size.

 

Are you baking, cooking or crafting anything for Valentines? Please share links, I would love to see!

Speaking of creative Valentines crafts, I am spending Friday night making these. I have friends, family and a bunch of ICU nurses to give Valentines to.

 

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Here I am with another pink and yellow dessert.

I have had the flavors of this doughnut in my head for a while. I couldn’t wait to taste it, and I have to say, they are as good as I imagined they would be.

These will be a unique and decadent Valentines breakfast or dessert option. Well, one of them. It’s Valentines Week around here, I cannot limit myself to one pink dessert.

I love the complex flavor saffron brings, and pairing it with a subtle rosewater is simply meant to be. I love these flavors, I love these doughnuts.

saffron doughnuts

dairy, gluten and soy free, vegan

makes 6 doughnuts

1 cup flour (gluten free ap)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup coconut milk (carton)
3 large pinches saffron strands (or 1 teaspoon powdered)
1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil 

Pour coconut milk into mixing bowl, pinch saffron strands between fingers to break strands, stir into milk.  Add maple syrup, vinegar and oil. In separate bowl*, combine flour, baking powder and salt, add to liquid mixture. Fill doughnut pan between 1/2 – 3/4 full (or use muffin tin). Bake at 375 for 12 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes clean. Allow to cool before icing.

*the way my mom taught me when I was 5: mix all wet ingredients; add flour on top of wet  but do not mix – add remaining dry ingredients to the flour, mix into just the flour, then mix into wet ingredients. Save a bowl!

rosewater icing

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons* coconut milk
1 drop rosewater essence
coloring, optional (I used Seelect Tea – vegan + organic) 

Sift powdered sugar into mixing bowl. Whisk in coconut milk, *adjusting amount for desired consistency. Mix in a drop of rosewater essence and color if using.

Do you cook with saffron? What kinds of dishes do you make with it?

 

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