Vegan Lemon-Blueberry Scones

The other day, I bought a vegan date & oatmeal scone from Whole Foods, and it was amazing. I used to think that you HAD to bake with butter to achieve that desired texture, and I never was into those baked goods that used applesauce in lieu of the fat. But seriously, this was so good, and since it is a snow day this morning, I set out to make my own vegan scone, with some frozen wild blueberries studded in the dough.

While my husband and kid were playing (sort of shoveling) in the snow, I was inside my warm kitchen, happy as can be. I made the scone dough (kind of like a biscuit dough) with Earth Balance vegan butter, and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. After I made the dough, I gently pressed the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, to firm up the dough and prevent it from spreading too much in the oven. After it was done baking, I drizzled a lemon drizzle on top.

Let me tell you – the scone was buttery and flaky, tender, and just SO SO GOOD. Perfect with coffee, and watching my loved ones laugh and fall in the snow outside!

Vegan Lemon-Blueberry Scones
makes 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cold Earth Balance vegan butter, cut in tablespoon – sized pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup almond milk, original flavor
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries (pea-sized; you don’t want huge blueberries here)

canola oil spray
1 teaspoon flour

for the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
juice from 1 lemon


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, ground flaxseed, kosher salt, and baking powder. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the vegan butter, until the butter resembles pea-sized pieces with the flour mixture. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, almond milk, vanilla extract, and zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and fold with a spatula, until dough just comes together. Add frozen wild blueberries, and continue folding until incorporated. It’s okay for the dough to be lumpy; you WANT those pockets of butter to make a tender, flaky dough when it bakes.

In an 8-inch cake pan sprayed with canola oil spray and sprinkled with flour, gently pat down the dough (not too hard!) so that it conforms to the cake pan. Stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up a bit; in the meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take the scone dough out of the freezer, and cut 8 pieces (like pie slices). Place the individual scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You might have to re-form some of the scone dough when you place it on the baking sheet; that’s okay, because it means that since your scone dough isn’t too hard, it’ll turn out flaky and yummy!

Bake for about 26 minutes, until golden brown on top. Take them out when done, and let cool for 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the lemon drizzle on top of the scones. Enjoy!

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Coconut tapioca pudding cups

I’ve always loved tapioca, because I grew up eating it in Vietnamese che and slurping down boba teas in college. I like the bubbly, chewy texture, and this pudding is great, because it has a great amount of tapioca pearls in it!

I made these yesterday as an experimentation – we’re eating a lot of vegan foods these days, for multiple reasons, and it’s basically our way of life now. I love being creative with plant foods, and never liked butchering meat (but I love to do some tofu butchery!). We’ve been eating really well, and yesterday, my 4-year-old helped me with these. A few midshipmen came over later in the day, to use our kitchen and study, and they were my coconut tapioca pudding testers. These were a hit! I’ll definitely be making these soon – probably next week!

Coconut-tapioca pudding cups
serves 6

1 cup coconut milk (full-fat)
1 cup almond milk, original
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup small tapioca pearls
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

to garnish: black sesame seeds

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, whisk the milks, sugar, agave nectar, extracts, salt, and tapioca pearls. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to low, about 10-12 minutes, until tapioca pearls become clear, soft, and chewy. In a small bowl, whisk the water with cornstarch. Mix into the coconut-tapioca mixture, turn the heat to med-low, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Divide pudding into 6 4-oz ramekins. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with black sesame seeds.

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A Veggie-packed Buddha Bowl

What is a “Buddha bowl?” To be honest, in my research, I haven’t found one concrete definition on what it is, but basically it’s a bowl of leftover vegetables and grains packed into a bowl. The appearance is full and meant to resemble a Buddha belly (you’d probably have one too, if you ate a huge bowl of meats, but this is vegetarian/vegan, and the food here is meant to sustain you, energy-wise – not weigh you down). A lot of the recipes out there have some sort of sauce that accompanies the Buddha bowl, but I just found that a few dashes of soy sauce in the rice were enough, because I made sure to flavor each vegetable before putting it into my bowl.

Surprise, surprise – I don’t have a recipe for this, because you just season each component as you go, and throw it together in the end. I would have one grain, one protein, and a couple vegetables in my Buddha bowl to promote satiety and fullness. Vary up the components whenever you make this – you can have broccoli, butternut squash, bok choy, roasted bell peppers, and whatever else you have on hand! I would say the rule of thumb would be not to add too many ingredients – you don’t want the meal to become muddled with too many flavors. With vegetarian food, in my opinion, the last thing you want to do is throw a bowl together with all steamed veggies. At least, that’s a “dislike” for me. I like to heighten the nautral sweetness of some vegetables by braising or roasting, so if you have a little time, do that! This was such a hit – my little one asked for seconds of green beans and sweet potato!

My Buddha bowl: white rice, roasted sweet potato cubes (olive oil, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of brown sugar), sauteed haricot verts (olive oil, veggie broth, salt, pepper, garlic), and fried tofu cubes (tossed with a bottled peanut satay sauce that I doctored up with sesame oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar). I topped off the bowl with fried shallots and seasoned the rice with a few dashes of soy sauce.

Variations of Buddha bowls:

Brown rice
Sushi rice
Wild rice

Bok choy
Sauteed spinach
Broccoli (sauteed or roasted)
Haricot verts or green beans
Braised endive or cabbage
Roasted bell peppers
Sauteed carrot slices
Roasted asparagus spears
Roasted eggplant

Starchy vegetables:
Roasted sweet potato or butternut squash
Braised parsnips (excellent when braised in a bit of olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar)
Sauteed plantains
Roasted acorn squash or pumpkin

Vegetarian/vegan protein:
Tofu cubes (in whatever sauce you like)
Sauteed seitan in soy sauce and sesame oil
Broiled tempeh (I don’t like tempeh, but this is an option if you do)
Lentils or braised beans

Happy Buddha bowl-making!

Posted in grains, main entree, vegetables, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam-Buttercream Frosting

Happy New Year! The holiday season has been a flurry of travel, family, friends, and activities for us, and now it’s time to slow down and breathe. Inhale, EXHALE! We chose to ring in the New Year with our friends, Grace and Justin, this year, along with their daughter and our family this year.

It was the best way to spend our day – good conversation, laughs, and to the parents out there, if you can carry on a conversation with another adult, while your kids run off and play nicely, that’s definitely a good visit!

Our girls made us proud by finishing their chicken, green beans and rice, so I gave them a New Year’s treat – homemade vanilla cupcakes with a buttercream frosting made with strawberry jam. Knowing how these girls love the color pink, I thought that adding strawberry jam would be more natural then adding food coloring. It was really good and didn’t taste as sticky-sweet as those packaged, pre-made frostings that you’ll find in a can out there. Sure, it takes a tiny bit more work (but that’s what a stand-up mixer is for), but I woke up at 7am because I fell asleep before midnight. HA!

Vanilla cupcake recipe found here, from The Little Kitchen blog (I halved the recipe to make 12 cupcakes)

Strawberry Jam-Buttercream Frosting
makes about 2 cups (can frost about 8-10 cupcakes)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup organic strawberry jam
3-5 cups sifted, confectioners sugar (more or less, depending on desired texture)
2-3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a stand-up mixer, mix the butter and jam together, on medium speed, until incorporated. Add about a cup of confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla extract, then additional confectioners sugar, beating until incorporated. Continue adding more confectioners sugar until you have the desired thickness of the frosting.

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Hoisin Meatballs: A Party-Perfect Food!

I’m still getting over how crazy-fun this weekend was. I’ve been teaching cooking classes at Whole Foods Annapolis for a few months now, and on Saturday, I had the ultimate privilege of teaching a staff retreat/cooking class/team build with Revolution Annapolis, the leaders from my church, at Whole Foods.

We did a team build similar to a lot of cooking competitions you see on television. I had them split up into four teams of 3-4 people and distributed mystery bags to each team. Team A had a carrot, dates, and chia seeds; Team B had an orange, olives, and gouda; Team C had couscous, broccoli, and buffalo mozarella ; and Team D had a turnip, salsa, and red quinoa. I thought they would all give me grief after seeing all those random ingredients, but they were all so creative! There was a “free” tables with limited cooking equipment and extra ingredients, like maple syrup, kosher salt, a few eggs, butter, olive oil, and random spices. Even though they had to work with their small teams, the staff had to work with EVERYONE in the room, sharing the limited equipment and other ingredients. I was really surprised that Team A made a relish out of grated carrots, dates, and chia seeds that went on top of a sunny-side up egg. It looked a little questionable, but the flavors were really good, so they were the winners. Congrats Team A! Woohoo!

After the fun team-building activity, we prepared a 3-course meal, perfect for entertaining, since that was the theme of the class. Vietnamese garlic noodles with arugula, hoisin meatballs sandwiched between brioche rolls and red cabbage slaw (like this one, but without peanuts, edamame, and carrots), and caramelized onion/tofu/red bell pepper served in endive cups. With everyone working so well together, we got the full menu FINISHED in ONE HOUR (a team who can do that is a good team in my book!). The whole point was to make entertaining stree-free, seamless, and use ordinary ingredients that work well together, with limited runs to the grocery store. Here is one of the recipes that I developed for this menu: hoisin meatballs. Hoisin can be used like an Asian barbeque sauce when seasoned with other ingredients, and is a perfect savory/sweet barbeque-y combo. Love this dish!

Hoisin-Glazed Turkey Meatballs
Makes 12 meatballs

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 egg
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

For the glaze:
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Thinly sliced green onion
Roasted white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Roll about 2 tablespoons of mixture in your hands; space meatballs evenly on the pan to make 3 rows of 4 meatballs (12 total). Bake meatballs for about 17 minutes, until no longer pink in the center.

As the meatballs are baking, whisk all ingredients for the glaze in a medium bowl. Once meatballs are done and cooled, take meatballs and dip them in glaze mixture, then place on serving plate. Sprinkle with sliced green onion and roasted white sesame seeds, place a toothpick in each meatball, and serve (or, you can sandwich between small brioche or King’s Hawaiian rolls, and top with cabbage slaw).

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