Sunday, November 22, 2015

Peanut Butter and Jam Freezer Cups

These cups really are my jam! They're sweetened with nothing but a little maple syrup and coconut sugar.
Here we go! More peanut butter action, this time in peanut butter cup form. I used the same recipe for the chips/magic shell I posted a few days ago, but formed them into bite-sized cups and filled them with chia jam.

Stuffed with strawberry chia jam from the brand new DIY Vegan (by Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman),
which I'll be reviewing and hosting a giveaway for on December 7th! 

They're blogs are wonderful, and this book is proving to be a gread addition to my hoard.
These cups look fancy, but they only take about 15 minutes from start to finish. I hope my neighbors don't read this, 'cuz I'm making some for them for the holidays. Also! If you're running late to a potluck, these win! Everyone will be happy, and they're maybe even faster than hummus to blast out of the kitchen. Unless it's a nut-free potluck, in which case--hummus always wins.
Peanut Butter and Jam Freezer Cups
Makes 9 small cups

You can make these cups using a mini cupcake pan and wee paper liners, or just the papers by themselves on a plate or tray. Serve these out of the freezer, since the coconut oil will start to melt as soon as it hits your skin.

What You Need:
  • 1/4 cup melted, unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, room temperature or warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of jam 
  • 27 peanut halves for decoration, optional
What You Do:
  1. Into a small bowl, add all of the ingredients except the peanuts, and stir to fully combine. If your maple syrup is cold, throw it in the microwave for a few seconds so it'll be easier to get smooth (otherwise the coconut oil will start to chunk up).
  2. Using a small spoon, place about a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into the bottom of 9 mini cupcake/candy liners. Spread it around so the entire bottom of the paper is covered and brush it a little bit up the sides of the paper. Throw the cups into the freezer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cups from the freezer and add a very small dollop of jam into each paper. spread and flatten it out a little, and try to keep it from touching the sides of the paper (using a chopstick or dull knife for this task, makes is easiest).
  4. Divide the remaining peanut butter mixture amongst the papers and top each cup with three peanut halves.
  5. Return to the freezer until solid. They should be ready to go in 10 minutes, but will get even firmer after an hour or two.
These were seriously fun to photograph (and eat) around my yard.
My neighbors probably rank me quite high on their entertainment scale.
Obviously, you can fill these with whatever you want, it doesn't have to be chia jam or even jam at all. Although, I sorta think jalapeno pepper jam could be really great in these, or chocolate ganache with puffed rice cereal, granola, date caramel, dry fruit or even ice cream!

PBJ cuppers posing in a vintage Blue Heaven dish. Why do I never find these at the thrifts anymore?
And onto a different subject 
Mostly I blog because I enjoy sharing recipes, photos and being part of the vegan blog community. I also love having my favorite recipes in one easy to access place, where I can refer back to them easily. This space is like a personal diary, and sometimes when I'm feeling nostalgic, I come back to read old posts about what I was up to years ago, or when we lived in New Orleans, or when we first moved to Portland (I've been blogging here since 2007, so there's lots of stuff lurking about!) 

My spirit apple.
I try my hardest to keep Cake Maker to the Stars as non-commercial and awesome as possible. However, competing with professional bloggers with fancy cameras, who get paid for their work (via commissioned content and ads), is really hard.
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If you like my writing and/or my recipes, you don't even have to leave a coment! All I ask in return is for you to please consider sharing my posts (by linking back here), following me online, and being my friend when you bump into me at Food Fight. Building an audience with actual numbers makes it easier for me to offer you more and more content. Thank you for visiting my little crumb of the internet!

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

LaRitzy's Vegan Beauty Box

I've never subscribed to any sort of monthly box before. For lots of different reasons, but mostly because I'm way too cheap to spend money on surprises I might not like. I'm sorta a really picky one, which is why I usually beg for gift cards or cash around my bee-day. 

Recently, two companies offered to send me a free box to review, and I thought it'd be fun to see what the hubbub is all about--I agreed to post a review of each. 

The first box to land on my doorstep was from the vegan beauty box company LaRitzy
Makeup boxes have always intrigued me in a way that snack box subscriptions don't. On one hand, I'm afraid to spend money on cosmetics I might not like or know how to use, but on the other hand I LOVE the idea of a curated box that someone else has vetted to be cruelty-free and vegan. I find searching and researching for vegan body care products to be an unholy, frustrating and challenging chore (parent companies who test can suck it), so if someone is willing to do the hard work for me, I'm game as long as I like the products.

The LaRitzy November box came filled with four different products, plus info cards (some with pretty good discounts for ordering more, in case I get attached), all packaged in easy to recycle, compostable materials.

Ritzy LaRitzy: the products I received were generous portions.

Here's what was in the November box I received:

I was happy to find the products I received to be really high quality and generously sized, although I have a learning curve to overcome with the pressed blush and setting powder, since I don't have brushes for those (and haven't worn blush since high school/1985 ((not joking)). I'm most excited about the face scrub and collagen booster since they're products I can start using right away, with or without makeup.

I only wish LaRitzy was more inclusive and didn't push the "girly" so much. Their mission "to show women that cruelty-free beauty products are the way to go," is a great message, but could easily (and I hope will be) changed to include everyone who enjoys beauty products, not just those who identify as a lady.

According to their site, LaRitzy is $24.99 a month (or, if you subscribe for longer periods the price per month drops a bit), and I was told the November box I received is valued over $100. They're also on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, if you want to check out more about them.


If you like my writing and/or my recipes, please consider sharing my posts (by linking back here), following me online, and being my friend when you bump into me at Food Fight. Building an audience with actual numbers makes it easier for me to offer you more and more content. The black buttons above work for the clicking.

Thank you for visiting my little crumb of the internet!

Disclaimer: I received a free November vegan beauty box from LaRitzy. However, no other compensation or gift was exchanged for this review, and the fierce opinion posted here is my own.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Freezer Peanut Butter Chips or Magic Shell

Oh look! A small bowlful of peanut butter heaven in chip form.
While in DC this past spring, I started playing around with raw chocolate--mostly in the form of peanut butter cups. It's SO EASY and can be whipped up lickity split to satisfy all devilish moods. Plus, since it's made with maple syrup, it doesn't affect my arthritis.

So lately, I've been playing around with a peanut butter version that can be used as a magic shell for ice cream (or nice cream for any Banana Girls lurking about), or as chips. They're intensely reminiscent of peanut butter chips from the '80s. I've no idea if those are still around, but I used to scarf up cookies made with 'em on a regular babysitting gig, back in the day. They're truly one of the only things I miss as a vegan.

The only caveat with these (besides that they're basically fat pills), is they need to be eaten cold, and will not hold up to heat without melting. I usually just eat these out of the freezer, but they'd also be perfect in raw desserts. You could even pour a batch on top of a raw cheezecake for an amazing top layer.
Freezer Peanut Butter Chips
Makes about 3/4 cup of chips.

I've only made these with vanilla extract, but I have plans to make the next batch with butterscotch extract, for--surprise--butterscotch chips. To use as a magic shell, just pour on top of the frozen dessert of your choice.

What You Need:
  • 1/4 cup melted, unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, room temperature or warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
What You Do:
  1. Line a round cake pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients, and stir until smooth. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and place in the freezer for ten minutes, or until just solid. 
  4. Chop into desired sizes and keep frozen so they get really firm.
Fancy Mineral Fusion mani, as per usual.
My plan is to add this batch to some raw chocolate cookie balls, but I have to make up the recipe first, and they might not survive that long. I'll report back on that project, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy.


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Monday, November 9, 2015

Cuban Mojo Black Bean Soup and Marinated Rice a la Anthony

Anthony's not sure of the original source of this recipe, but thinks he may've gotten in from a newspaper column.
With the weather change and rain, I've been interested in exploring soups lately, and since I'd just cooked up a big batch of black beans, I decided they needed soupifying.

A crazy thing about me -- my veganism not only predates the internet, but it predates my first computer, which means I have a couple of three ringed binders full of hand written and photocopied recipes. When I first went vegan about 25 years ago, my very good friend Anthony passed down to me a few really good recipes, and I remembered I've been holding onto a black bean soup recipe he gave me that was really tasty.

I made it, loved it and decided to share, 'cuz that's what friends do.
AKA Anthony's Cuban Black Bean Soup and Marinated Rice

I found this soup very easy to make, while I watched TV and hugged Vee. I halved it, because I'm a party of one this week, and it gave me three very large meals. Make sure to read the recipe through before embarking, and check my notes at the end.

Marinated Rice Needs:
2 cups cooked long grain rice, white or brown
3 green onions, diced, OR 2-3 tablespoons diced onion
1 tomato, diced
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons wine/sherry vinegar
1-2 tablespoons minced basil or cilantro, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Black Bean Soup Needs:
4 tablespoons EVOO or organic canola oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium bell peppers, diced
5 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
About 3-5 cups vegetable stock, or water
6 cups cooked black beans
2 tablespoons sherry/wine vinegar
Salt to taste

What You Do For the Rice:
Put all of the ingredients into a small bowl, and stir well to combine.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper, cover and refrigerate until cold.

What You do For the Soup-ing:
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and a pinch of the salt and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent and the peppers have softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the cumin and oregano, and cook for one minute, then add 3 cups of the stock or water, and beans.

Simmer covered for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary to thin to your desired consistency, until the soup is very soft and has come together in a soup-like way. Add the vinegar and season to taste with more salt, if desired. See Notes!

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous amount of marinated rice. Serve with cornbread on the side if you have it, or flame-toasted corn tortillas stuffed with salted avocado.

♥ I sorta had my way with this recipe and changed it up a little bit. After I cooked the soup for a good while and added the vinegar, I decided to puree it a bit to make it creamier. I used an immersion blender, but if you're using a regular blender, I'd suggest scooping out about half the soup and blending very lightly so the soup remains chunky.

♥ Important info to know -- acid will keep beans from getting soft, so cook the soup all the way through until the beans are very tender and plump, before adding the vinegar!

♥ The original recipe says to serve the rice at room temp, but I liked it cold on top of the hot soup. It also said to use white rice, but I used brown rice, 'cuz I prefer whole grains.

♥ Thanks Anthony!

Avocado on top, yep. Yep, yep, and yep.
I hope you make this and love it, and if you've any soups you're really into, please feel free to point me in their general direction (they don't need to be 25 years old).


If you like my writing and/or my recipes, please consider sharing my posts (by linking back here), following me online, and being my friend when you bump into me at Food Fight. Building an audience with actual numbers makes it easier for me to offer you more and more content. The black buttons above work for the clicking.

Thank you for visiting my little crumb of the internet!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Quick No-Cook Vegan Yogurt and Fancy Kitchens.

My fancy yogurt smoothie in my fancy kitchen.
Frozen banana, blueberries, and spinach, a date, a sploosh of EFA oil, a squirt of stevia and yogz.
Even though I don't celebrate Hanukkah, and have never celebrated Hanukkah, the Hanukkah fairy (AKA Dazee's mom) usually pays me an annual visit. A couple of years ago, a dehydrator landed on my front steps, and I said, "Yes please, thank you. I love you Hannukkah."

Anyway, I know not everyone has a decked out kitchen the way I do, but if you do happen to have a blender and a dehydrator, I've stumbled upon the fastest and easiest way to make soy yogurt ever. It requires no cooking, and is thick and tangy in about THREE hours. I win at yogurting.

My naturopath wants me to cram all the probiotics in that I can, and I've been obliging. Yogurt smoothies have sorta changed my life, they are SO GOOD. I'm not much of a fan of yogz in a chocolate or carob smoothie, but with fruit it melts my heart and freezes my brain, all at the same time.

No Cook, Super Fast Vegan Yogurt
This recipe is adapted from Miyoko Schinner's yogurt in Artisan Vegan Cheese, but incorporates the cashew reducing tip I learned from smart Amey. I use a power blender, so soak your nuts if you don't. And if you don't have a dehydrator, just figure out a way to keep your yogurt warm, and it'll work. This makes a thick yogurt that does separate a bit, but blends easily with a spoon.

What You Need:
32 oz unsweetened soy milk (I use West Soy unsweetened, which contains only soybeans, water and salt)
1/3 cup "raw" cashew pieces
1/4 cup vegan yogurt (buy any vegan yogurt that has live cultures, and then save a little from one batch to make the next)
Contents from one vegan acidophilus capsule.

What You Do:
Put everything into a blender and process until creamy, then blend a bit more so the milk warms up a tiny bit. Pour into a quart jar and cap tightly. Wrap in a towel and *dehydrate around 110F. Check it every hour or so, mine's usually thick and tangy around hour three.

*NOTE* My dehydrator has a yogurt setting on the temperature dial, but I've found it's a bit too warm and curdles the yogurt. Check every hour or so until thick and tangy--it'll thicken up even more in the fridge.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Winner Winner Jackfruit Dinner! CONTEST!

I'm proud to disclose Brian is my age inappropriate Vegan Crush (R). 
Being the internet tool that I am, I've been loving on Periscope lately. It's an app you use on your phone, tablet or whatevs to watch and interact with other people in real time. 

If you're really into peepin' into other people's living rooms you'll love it. There are all sorts of things to watch, like pageant girls showing off their gowns, or 20 somethings getting ready for bed and applying face masks, or guys laying in bed with their wives chatting with you while you look at their bedroom wall. It's an internet miracle. 

Free Beyond Meat coupons. Good in tacos.
But! Some folks are using it for really cool stuff. My favorite broadcaster is Brian Patton from The Sexy Vegan Radidio (you can listen to me talk about Teff Love on his podcast here).

For the last many weeks, Brian AKA The Sexy Vegan, has been running a vegan trivia gameshow on Thursdays at 7:45PM PST called Flex Your Foodie, where he's been giving away lots of prizes! I'm a FIVE TIME WINNER! I realllllllly like the show. If you wanna get in on the action, just download the app, and follow The Sexy Vegan. Be sure to set your notifications to alert you when he goes live, so you don't forget like I did for two weeks in a row.

The cutest packaging of all time. On sandwiches! Salads! Tacos! Even over rice.
I know you wanna know what I've won so far:
1. A Beyond Meat tee-shirt and lots of coupons for free Beyond Meat products.
2. All the Go Max Go chocolate bars (that was a fun week).
3. Dandies PUMPKIN marshmallows!
4. And boxes and boxes of Upton Natural's brand-new Jackfruit Carnitas and BBQ.

In fact, I've won Upton's twice now, on two separate oaccasions. 
Once for me and once for you!!! 
If you live in the U.S. and you wanna try some for yourself, leave me a comment below and tell me something I don't know. Or make me feel good about something. Your pick.

Brian needs to let Upton's know who the winner is by this coming Monday, so I'm giving you jokers until midnight PST on Sunday October 11th to comment below. I'll pick my favorite comment, and Upton's will send you my prizes, which I believe are a box of each flavor.

Shelf stable bar-b-que, for when your inlaws pop in unexpectantly.
Or for your earthquake preparedness box of worry.
I don't think I have any disclosures to share. I won some prizes from Brian via Upton's Naturals, and I'm offering them to one winner here. Nothing shady going on, just the funz.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mac 'n' Squeeze Me.

Mac 'n' Squeeze. Hopefully,  it'll get you some hugs.
I had some steamed acorn squash lefties in the fridge the other day and turned 'em into a really fast cheezy sauce that hit the spot tossed into a bowl of warm pasta elbows. I didn't even heat up the sauce, it went straight from the blender into the bowl of hot pasta.

Squeeze Me Sauce zoomed on top of brown rice, pintos, romaine and 'kraut.
Since I made the sauce on the run the other day, I hadn't bothered to write down how much of what I put into the sauce. I wanted more today, so I reenacted the scene again, but with a trusty pen and the back of an old medical bill.
Squeeze Me Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

A coupla things to note about this sauce:

  • I used a high speed blender, if you don't, be sure to soak the cashews beforehand so it'll be easy for you to get the squeeze sauce smooth. 
  • If you don't want to use pickled jalapenos, be sure to add a little acid like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead.
  • This sauce will work with whatever steamed or baked squash lefties you have around, but keep in mind that acorn squash isn't super sweet. If you use something like butternut or kabocha, you'll probably have to tweak the spices a bit to get the balance right.

What You Need:
1/2 cup Acorn Squash puree (mine was steamed, baked will be fine too)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup raw cashew pieces
1/2 red bell pepper (I used 2 small peppers about the size of a medium jalapeno)
5 slices pickled jalapeno (to taste)
2 teaspoons white miso
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 clove garlic
pinch salt

What You Do:
Place everything into the the jar of a blender and whiz until smooth. Eat with hot pasta or zoom over your favorite bowl.

Also, if you're not following me on Instagram, you're missing out on the hashtag gold.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dottie's Spaghetti Squash Nation

Chartreuse is one of my favorite colors. It's so pretty with the kidneys and hydrangeas!
Eat with toasted corn tortillas and avocado. Mmmmrrrzz.
Spaghetti squash always sound appealing so I buy them and they languish on my counter until they're almost dead. Then I fix them in really boring ways out of desperation. The spaghetti squash cycle of life at Team Bernskerns is sad business.

And still I buy them. You know why right? Scraping baked squash out of their shells and into those magickal spaghetti shreds is fun and worth repeating over and over again. So the other day, I got the idea to put the spaghetti squash looming on my counter into my favorite rice and bean salad instead of the rice. Oh boy--eureka good!

This salad is really tasty on its own (especially after a day or two in the fridge), but I found I really loved it in super simple tacos. Toast some corn tortillas over a gas flame on the stove and then smoosh with salted avocado and a few big forkfuls of this salad. If you're not into the EFA oil listed in the ingredients, then just use all EVOO.
Dottie's Spaghetti Squash Nation 
Makes about 8-10 cups--a biiiiig bowlful or a good amount to bring to a potluck.
Dress the salad judiciously, 'cuz squash sizes vary, and the sauce is schpicy!

What You Need:
1 medium spaghetti squash, baked until tender
1 can pinto beans, 15oz
1 can red kidney beans, 15 oz
2-3 green onions, minced (white and green)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley for haters)
1/2 sweet red pepper, diced

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons Seven Sources or Udos Oil (or more EVOO)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
pickled jalapeno--to taste (I used several slices)
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

What You Do:
1. In a large bowl, combine the warm shredded spaghetti squash, beans, green onions, cilantro, and red pepper.
2. In a blender, whiz together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing.
3. Dress the rice (you might only want to use 3/4 of the dressing) and EAT!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recipe! Spicy Celery Ranch!

Spicy Celery Ranch looking beeyootiful in some vintage Orchardware. (I grew the dill!)
Today I present to you a recipe for a spicy celery ranch dressing/sauce I've been making in one form or another for a few months now. It's pretty great, and it riffs very well, so feel free to play around with it. I think the miso really makes it pop, but if you don't have any I suppose a little bit of nooch might help round it out.

I've only ever made it in my high speed blender, so if you don't have or use one, be sure to soak the 'shews and mince up your garlic and celery so you're able to get this smooth--texture is everything.

I like this best with fresh dill, but dry works really well too, as do other herbs like cilantro, parsley, green onion, and fresh basil. 

Living on some kale chips in a little Glasbake chili bowl.
I even use this as a sauce to make dehydrated kale chips! Just reduce the water a bit and add in about 2-4 tablespoons of nooch as you see fit. I also love adding shredded carrot to mine, which I wouldn't use if you're planning to try baking these.

Besides chips, this stuff is super-yum zapped on top of bowls, and of course on salad. I've also used it for Baked Buffalo Cauliflower dunking purposes. I'm tempted to add celery seed for next time, 'cuz celery sorta wins in my mouth these days--especially with extra spicy stuff.

Atomic cashews.
Cashew based dressing like this one, thicken a bit in the fridge. When I make this I usually add the water judiciously, until I reach the desired thickness for whatever I'm making.

Spicy Celery Ranch
Makes 1/2 cup (plus a smidge)

This dressing is great on salads and bowls, and if you add a bit less water and some nooch it makes killer kale chips. I use a high speed blender, so if you don't, be sure to soak your 'shews and mince the veggies. 

What You Need:
1/3 cup unroasted cashews
1 heaping teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1/2 lemon
4 slices pickled jalapeno
1 6-7" celery stalk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
A tablespoon or so of fresh herb (see my comments above--dill, parsley, basil, cilantro, green onion, etc.)
Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired

What You Do:
1. Put everything but the fresh herb into a blender and process until smooth.
2. Add the water judiciously, until you get the desiredness thickness.
3. Pulse in the herbs, or mince by hand and stir them in.
4. Season to taste with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, if desired.



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Abundance Diet and My Couch. And Snacks!

Somer's beautiful book--The Abundance Diet. 
I'm really proud of you and your hard work, Somer!
Splashy dashy beautiful photos, by Annie at the Unrefined Vegan.
I'm not sure what my deal has been this summer. Maybe it's been the record heat, my arthritic woes, or just my regular bad attitude, but I've been super unmotivated to do much of anything besides whine and bounce around from couch to couch like a big blah-blah ball. Cooking has been mostly a bad word--I've been eating a LOT of peanut butter. 

But. When your super-amazing friend comes out with her very first cookbook, which just happens to be vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and simply gorgeous, you pull yourself up by your vegan-straps and make stuff. Even if it takes you weeks longer than you meant too, and even if you stick to ALL THE SNACKS. Remember: snacks have feelings too.

Happiness in a Cookie Bite. I Believe in the power of balls!
This is an awesome recipe, because you can use 
whatever sort of nut butter and add-ins you have around.
Happiness in a Cookie Bites are real. They're also rilllly easy to make, and super pantry friendly so if necessary, you can get happy very quickly! I added dried blueberries to mine, with cashew butter I got on closeout. Just like Somer suggests, I added an extra pinch of cinnamon, since mine were chocolate-free. Which is why I'm not sure why mine tasted just like chocolate chip cookies? In the best sort of way. Also I ate all four servings in a few hours, minus one for Dazee, and one I saved for breakfast the following day. All the happy for meeeeeee. 

These would be just GRAND with chocolate chips and peanut butter. Which is my plan for next time--with homemade raw chocolate chunks since these balls hang out in the fridge and the chill will keep the chocolate from melting, and me from crying (I'm avoiding store chips because of the flippin' sugar).

ChocoNana Green Smoothie.
All the good stuff: cacao, bananas, spinach, stevia.
I may have added a little organic peanut butter powder, too.
Then just this afternoon, I was texting with Somer and complaining about my couch status, and she suggested chocolate. So-smart! I went into the kitchen and manifested this delicious green smoothie, because hoozah! The pantry friendlieness can't be beat. So yummy, filling and hydrating. I made half, because all of Somer's smoothies make a full quart. Obviously, I'm not in need of unbridled delirium, just a little pick me up.

Nacho Cheese Kale Chips! I sprinkled some with hemp hearts for extra lovin'.
Fancy mani by moi: Mineral Fusion is great 5-free nail polish.
Kale chips go well with couch-time, so I've been eating lots. You know how when you scroll through a new cookbook, certain recipes just pop out at you? This was actually the first recipe I made from Somer's book--it poked me in the eye as I was flipping through it the first time. When I blended up the nacho sauce, the flavor sorta made me go goo-goo, so I actually made this recipe twice in quick succession. I dehydrated my chips, but if you don't have a dehydrator, Somer gives detailed instructions on baking these in the oven. 

Nacho sauce all up in this taco salad.
Pro Tip 1: Add pickled jalapenos before you blend.
Pro Tip 2: 
 For the fancy effect, save mustard squirt bottles and zoom sauce all over the top.
The kale chip nacho sauce will also serve your bowls well. Or your nachos. Or your taco salad. Because even if you have a lazy summer attitude, people still have birthday parties and potluck performance is key. I'm not a huge fan of Beyond Meat chicken strips, but I really like the Feisty Crumbles. I added a packet of taco seasoning to some with a little sauteed onion, then added taco salad-y things like chips, romaine, jicama strips, peppers, cucumber, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, and lots of nacho sauce zaps.

I call this wung salad with Somer's Pad Thai Sauce.
My salad dressing repertoire always needs a bit of work, so I was happy to see so many sauces and dressings in Somer's book. Salad idea fodder is always a great thing. This Pad Thai sauce is super easy to whip up (I cheated on the date paste, and just added a pitted date with a little water). And for a case of the lazies like me, you can use whatever you have in the fridge. Mine was romaine, jicama, cucumber, carrots, with basil, roasted peanuts, and zaps of Somer's zippy-creamy-gingery pad thai sauce on top (see pro tip 2 above). I fed this to Dazee, who ate it happily. Very great, and undoubtedly even better made properly with broccoli.

BBQ Roasted Chickpea Snack, or as we like to say ,"wee Somer-balls."
Somer and her publisher are letting me share her roasted BBQ chickpea recipe. I loved these too, because I'm all about the smoky and these chix had both liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Plus I added smoked salt on top, because c'mon! Pro tip 3: mine almost scorched at the shortest cooking time at 450, so next time I'm-ma cook these a bit longer at a little lower temp. Too bad I ate these all for lunch, 'cuz they'd make tasty salad accoutrement. Apparently, the wasabi chix are very good too, since my friend Jackie keeps making them and texting me about her Somer-Yums.
BBQ Roasted Chickpea Snack
Makes 4 Servings

Recipe from The Abundance Diet, (c)2015 by Somer McCowan.
Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press LLC.

1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained, well rinsed and then blotted dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Preheat the oven to 450F. In a medium bowl, stir together the liquid smoke, sesame oil, black pepper, smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, sherry, tamari, onion powder, and garlic powder. This is your marinade. Add the chickpeas to the marinade and stir to coat.

Transfer the chickpeas and marinade into an 8x8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Bake the chickpeas for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. The chickpeas will get crispier as they cool. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator. these are even better, if possible, on the second day.

My only regret with The Abundance Diet--I wasn't able to pull myself together enough to make Somer's infamous Moxarella AKA Foxy Moxy. Not because the recipe is difficult to make, but because what to put the cheese on I can easily whip out of my armpit? For sure, it'll be the first thing I make as soon as the weather makes me want to be cozy, because PIZZA BAGELS!

So there you have it friends. Somer's The Abundance Diet offers many yummy, indulgent tasting goodies to be had, even for a non-dieting lady like myself. Go get yourself a copy, and while you're at it, don't forget to make some cheesie balls from Somer's blog Vedged Out.


P.S. Happy Vegan MoFo! It starts today and runs all September. ♥

Disclaimer:  Somer McCowan is my friend (in real life even!), and I received a free review copy of The Abundance Diet from Vegan Heritage Press. However, no compensation or gift was exchanged for this review, and the fierce opinion posted here is my own.