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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A green summer smoothie in winter weather

I woke up the other day, and the weather was already in its 20s. How did it suddenly become winter, and yet, winter doesn’t officially begin for another month?!

And because my little one has watched the movie, Frozen, SO MANY TIMES, the song popped in my head when Olaf sings how summer would be. He’s stuck in an eternal winter, and I kinda feel like it’s going to be a long one here on the East Coast!

So think of pina coladas when you make this, but stick a Christmas-like straw in it, because the holidays are here!

Green smoothie with coconut milk
serves 2; makes 1 2/3 cup

1 banana, sliced
1 cup baby spinach
2/3 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until evenly green throughout.

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Caesar-ish vegan orzo

The other day, I stumbled across a recipe from Minimalist Baker for vegan Parmesan cheese. What?! I had all the ingredients on hand, and made it the same day I saw the recipe. So easy and simple, requiring just four things – raw cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt.

Even if you’re not vegan, I urge you to make this, because you can sprinkle some nutritional yumminess onto roasted vegetables, pasta, or salad. I sprinkled this on to the veggie pizza I made yesterday, and put a whole bunch of it into some orzo salad that went alongside it for dinner. It provides the right amount of savoriness that Parmesan cheese provides, but also a nice little crunch to add to your dishes. Why the name Caesar-ish orzo? It’s kind of like orzo with Caesar dressing, with lemon juice and olive oil, but the Parmesan is vegan, and there are no anchovies in there. Still a totally satisfying side dish!

Caesar-ish vegan orzo
serves about 4-6

1 1/2 cups orzo, boiled and drained, according to package directions
1 cup finely chopped, flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon (throw in some zest for more lemony flavor, if you like)
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan, recipe from Minimalist Baker
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir to incorporate and season to taste. That’s it!

Posted in grains, salads, vegan, vegetables | Leave a comment