Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Tartlets

A rainy Wednesday here in Boston. I’ve always loved the rain!

I apologize for constantly bringing up the weather. I know I talk about it a lot but I’ve always been fascinated by it. When I was in college I remember sitting in our house senior year (the house that we swore was haunted but that is another story entirely) and obsessively watching the weather each morning. I went to school way up in Northern California and during the summer months there is only one weather report, 100 and hot! I don’t know why I was so interested.

Maybe because the weather brings on moods and sets the tone for the day.

Take today for example, the rain makes it feel gloomy and quiet. The kind of day good for reading and introspection, a little self yoga practice, maybe a sweet treat.

And this is the perfect sweet treat.

peanut butter chocolate tartlettes

I’ve been craving peanut butter and chocolate and ran across a peanut butter pie the other day that seemed divine. However, Michael doesn’t eat dessert and making a whole pie for myself seemed absurd since I know full well that I’ll eat a slice, maybe two and then throw the rest away.

So instead I experimented with a recipe for tartlets that combines a bunch of different recipes I looked at for pies, tarts, mousses, etc. It’s super easy, quick and on the healthier side. The measurements make a manageable 2 tartlets instead of a full pie. But I have the measurements for a the full pie if you’re interested.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Tartlets (vegan, gluten-free, no bake)

For the vegan chocolate crust:

1/4 cup almond meal

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted

1/8 tsp salt

For the vegan peanut butter mousse:

1/8 block tofu, drained and patted dry

3 tbsp natural peanut butter

2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

1 tbsp rice milk (or whatever milk you prefer)

————-

Make the crust first. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until a paste forms, about a minute.

gluten free chocolate crust

Take sections of the dough and press into cupcake tins. Set cupcake tin aside.

tart crust

Clean food processor before making mousse.

Drain tofu and press between some paper towels. The tofu doesn’t have to be super dry.

peanut butter mousse

Add tofu and ingredients through salt to processor. While food processor is running add milk. If the mixture is too thick add a little bit more milk.

Once mousse is combined pour over individual crusts.

peanut butter chocolate tarts

Place tarts in freezer for 30 minutes to set.

To remove from pan, run a knife along side the edges. The tartlets should slide right out.

Top with shaved chocolate.

DSC_0033chocolate peanut butter tarts

Enjoy and Exhale!

Kale, Potato and White Bean Soup

Last night I had a dream that I looked out the window to see the trees blooming with a million pink buds. Then I woke up and all the branches were still bare and surrounded by piles of gray snow.

I’m pretty sure I’m making it up but I feel an almost imperceivable shift toward spring. It’s coming, oh please oh please let it be coming.

I was telling my sister yesterday that I’m feeling uninspired in the kitchen lately. This is likely because I’m sick of winter vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet potatoes and carrots and parsnips but what I’d really like to eat are some lovely green asparagus stalks that don’t cost $5.99 a bunch! Or some sweet, red tomatoes that haven’t been imported from Brazil.

Guess we’ll have to make do with what we have right now. And what we have are white beans and kale! The pairing of white beans and kale seems almost as natural as peanut butter and jelly.

Actually it doesn’t at all but it does sound good together. So we’ll make another soup with hopes that it’s one of the last of the season and that soon we’ll be turning our attention to fresh salads and fruit.

Until then…

kale and white bean soup

Kale, Potato and White Bean End of Winter Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, cut into ribbons (optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2-1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups of water and two no salt bouillon cubes (or 8 cups of no salt veggie stock)

6 red potatoes, diced

2 cans of white beans with juices (I used a combo of great northern and white kidney beans)

3 cups chopped kale (I used curly but lacinato would work well here too)

————

White Bean and Kale Soup Ingredients

Slice onion, carrot, celery and potatoes.

vegetable assembly line

Heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until lightly soft. Add garlic and basil. Saute for another minute.

sauteed veggies

Add thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and bay leaf. Mix with veggies.

Next add water and bouillon cubes. I always use no salt bouillon cubes but it’s especially important here because I’m not draining the beans and the juice of the beans adds extra salt.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Add beans and potatoes cook for 25 minutes.

Lastly, add kale. Cook until wilted.

Adjust salt to taste and remove bay leaf before serving.

I turned the burner off and left the soup covered on the stove while I taught my noon class and went to the gym. When I ate it a couple of hours later it reminded me very much of the soups my dad used to make, which made it taste that much better.

kale and white bean soup kale and white bean soup

If we have to eat more soup, might as well be good soup right?

Enjoy and Exhale!

All Things Yoga

I did zero cooking this weekend. Usually I’ve done something worthy of sharing but I wasn’t feeling inspired to do more than toast some bread and spread on some jam. I’m pretty sure you’re not interested in that recipe!

Unexpectedly the weekend became all about yoga instead. My weekends are often part yoga but this weekend it seemed to dominate.

On Friday afternoon I took a workshop with Nikki Vilella. She is co-owner of Kula Yoga in Brooklyn and I immediately loved her. She was so knowledgeable and personable. The workshop focused on hands on assists. For those yogis reading you know how wonderful and amazing assists can feel during a practice. My ultimate goal is to get much more comfortable and confident giving them in all types of poses. Those of you regulars in my classes (Joeli!) I hope you don’t mind being guinea pigs while I test what works and what doesn’t.

The workshop definitely didn’t feel long enough but I got plenty of good starters. I also bought this book a couple of weeks ago so I’ll be taking pointers from it as well.

Extra Love: The Art of Hands-On Assists

Saturday morning I taught my Power Yoga class and then headed to another of Nikki’s workshops. This time it was all about back bending. I’m teaching my own back bending workshop next month (March 30th at All One Yoga, join me) so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get some new ideas. It was an amazing! I came home right after and jotted down so many notes my hand started to cramp.

yoga notes

That woman is a wealth of knowledge. I wish I lived close enough to take her classes all the time.

Saturday night we headed to Coolidge Corner for sushi. We tried out FaGaKyu which turned out to be a huge restaurant right off the T. The sushi was good but I don’t think we’d go back. I had a sweet potato and pineapple roll (front) that was really tasty. The second was a garden roll that was okay. Michael had a bunch of unpictured tuna rolls.

veggie sushi

Sunday morning we took a long rainy walk to the Commons with Eli. We both forgot our phones so there are no pictures to share.

We spent the afternoon watching more Dexter and reading while the rain turned to snow. I’m attempting to read one for fun book and one yoga book at a time. I just finished Eastern Body Western Mind which took me months to get through, it was dense! I’ve now moved on to this book my mom bought me for Christmas.

the science of yoga

In the evening I went to a Weekend Warrior class taught by the lovely Kaileen at All One. I’ll be taking over her Sunday classes while she’s on maternity leave so I wanted to get a sense of her style. Wow, her class was so fun! In about 2 minutes she made me realize that I’ve been taking my teaching way too seriously. I need to allow for more joy and celebration. I think I’ve been so worried about getting everything perfect that I’ve forgotten how fun it can be to just move and play on your mat (and off your mat really). Thank you Kaileen for the wonderful reminder.

After class we watched the Oscars and had dinner. Pasta for him, taco salad for her, our individual versions of comfort food. 🙂

I spent this morning with an old work friend in town from Korea so now it’s time to log off and get cooking.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Cilantro Stem Dressing…say what?

Sometimes my own nerdiness takes me by surprise. I’ve never claimed to be cool but I never thought myself to be someone who would dance around the kitchen after tasting a salad dressing. Eli cocked his head to one side perplexed as he watched the scene take place.

I just couldn’t help it. After years of project managing creatives and allowing myself to believe that I personally was not “creative” it still amazes me that I can concept and actualize ideas of my own. It’s a lovely feeling that the swirling and pondering of a thought can become a tangible recipe I get to share with others. Another benefit the world of blogging has allowed me.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

Being in New York last weekend and not having a chance to get to the grocery store this week we’ve been eating what we have. We, of course, have more than enough food to pick from but our veggie supply is getting low. Our vegetable drawer currently consists of brussels sprouts, a 5lb bag of carrots, spinach and the ends of a bunch of cilantro.Cilantro

I eat a lot of cilantro, usually a bunch a week. I will greedily eat up all the leaves, pushing the stems to the back of the crisper to wither and die until I buy the next bunch.

A few days ago I had what is now annoying referred to as an Aha moment. I ran across this Veggie Belly post that used the cilantro stems in a soup and it suddenly hit me that I was wasting a flavorful part of the cilantro.

I quickly dug out those stems and got to work on a what I hoped would be a delicious salad dressing. It was honestly better than I could have imagined and avoids wasted food and money. Win win.

Cilantro Stem Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

1 bunch of cilantro stems, chopped finely

2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

————

Wash cilantro stems thoroughly, the stems tend to hold a lot of dirt, don’t skip this step.

Chop stems finely and place in a food processor with remaining ingredients.

Blend until well combined. I ran my processor for over a minute.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

cilantro salad dressing

Makes 1-2 serving depending on salad size.

I massaged the dressing into 3 cups of spinach and topped with slivered almonds. I think it would be wonderful with avocado and baby tomatoes as well.

spinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressing

Happy Friday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Triple Ginger Smoothie

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. Sorry about that. This one was worth the wait!

ginger smoothie

A few weeks ago my aunt and uncle requested a smoothie recipe made with the candied ginger I used in these.

My first thought was a cherry ginger combo but I only had dried cherries and that didn’t sound particularly appealing. I may revisit this when fresh cherries are in season or if I think to pick some frozen ones up.

Then I played around with the idea of a chocolate ginger smoothie but I just made this Chocolate Peanut Butter version and they seemed to similar.

Finally I spotted a bag of dates and figured, why not? I’ve never used dates in a smoothie before but I’d seen it done on other blogs. All I can say is, wow! You’ll be seeing a whole lot more dates around here. They added the perfect amount of sweetness and a creamy texture that blew me away.

I couldn’t take the pictures fast enough and quickly gobbled up the entire thing before the photos had even finished downloading to my computer.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but if you like ginger…Make. This. Smoothie. The fresh, powdered and candied ginger all add a different kind of kick. It was so delicious and refreshing. I’m seriously contemplating making a second one.

Triple Ginger Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 dates, pitted

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely minced

4 ice cubes

————

Cut the skin from the fresh ginger. Chop fresh and candied ginger into small pieces.

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Top with more candied and powdered ginger if desired.

ginger smoothie ingredientsminced ginger DSC_0184triple ginger smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

New York, New York Part 2

If you missed part 1 click here.

After an event filled Saturday we took it a little slower on Sunday.

We had a late breakfast at a little diner by my sister’s house. I had a bagel which wasn’t worth photographing but I will say the service was exceptionally good. It made up for Saturday’s brunch and then some.

In the afternoon we met an old co-worker and friend for a walk in Central Park. She is pretty much Eli’s favorite person in the whole world so we couldn’t let the opportunity to meet up pass us by, despite the very cold day.

We walked around in the park for a while as Eli nearly passed out from happiness. He LOVES Christine!

Eli and Christine

After our walk we headed home to meet up with Sarah and discuss dinner.

We knew that after eating out all weekend we would want to cook on Sunday night. I perused the blog-a-sphere and offered up a few options for dinner.

We settled on veggies burgers with fries.

I used this Oh She Glows recipe. They were very tasty but not perfect. They didn’t hold together very well and were missing some seasoning. I’m going to make some adjustments to hopefully perfect them. In the meantime here are a few pictures of the process.

veggie burgersveggie burgers mixingsveggie burgers mixforming veggie burgersveggie burgers on the grillveggie burgers

In full disclosure, Will lit and set up most of the above shots. He was also kind enough to give me an idiot’s photography 101. I haven’t totally master the tutorial. You should see last night’s dinner photos, bleh.

photography tutorial

Please excuse my awesome outfit.

After dinner we decided to play Jenga. Everyone was a little skeptical but it was ridiculously fun and intense, even if I lost…both times.

jenga

Thank you for the lovely weekend NYC. We’ll be back soon.

Times Square

Enjoy and Exhale!

New York, New York Part 1

I really love New York. Partly because my sister is there but also because of the energy. That city really is like no other.

We had an amazing visit and were really sad to see it end yesterday. I wish we could have birthdays all the time!

I’ll do my best to swiftly recap the weekend without boring you all but we crammed a lot in the two days so this may seem like a photo bomb.

We drove down on Saturday morning. I’m so used to the long state of California where you drive for 4 hours and are still in CA that it always surprises me when we cross state lines so quickly. It’s like you blink and you’re in Connecticut.

We quickly headed to brunch after dropping our stuff and Eli off at my sister’s place. I would show you brunch photos but to be honest that food was sub par and the service was even worse. We left the meal hungry and disappointed, not a good start.

We were on the Upper West Side so we explored that area for a bit and then stumbled on the Empire Hotel. Considering we’re all huge Chuck Bass fans and we were right there, we stopped in for a drink.

I loved this bar, classy, ornate and relatively quiet. Maybe that’s because it was 3 in the afternoon 🙂

Empire Hotel

Here’s the birthday girl showing off the new watch her beau gave her.

birthday girl

Couple shot.

Michael and me

And a pic of the good company I was in! The conversation was just so exciting. Can’t you tell?

Phone Obsessed

After a drink we decided to go bowling down at the Port Authority. I thought it would be ghetto but it was super swanky! The lanes were really nice and they played top 40 hits with coordinated neon lights and huge screens playing music videos at the end of the lanes.

bowling sisters bowling

I managed to lose best out of two against Michael and am now washing a weeks worth of dishes. 😦

I wish I had taken a picture of the snacks we had. The menu was great for being a bowling alley. We had a huge bowl of hummus with carrots and pitas and some edamame fritters.

We headed back to my sister’s after bowling to get gussied up for dinner. We had dinner at Monument Lane in the West Village. The restaurant was adorable. Loved the decor and the vibe. The food was hit and miss. The brussel sprout appetizer was amazing (you can kind of see it in the background), I hope to recreate it somehow. Michael’s fish was apparently very good and my veggie hash was fine but very expensive for some parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes. It also reminded me of something very familiar…this!

vegetable hash

The company was lovely, of course.

Sarah and Me at dinnerMichael

This post is getting a little long so I’ll recap Sunday tomorrow which includes a delicious veggie burger and Jenga. That’s right you read correctly, Jenga!

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Happy Birthday Sista!

We are currently on our way to NYC for a very special weekend.

My little sister, Sarah, is turning the big 3-0 today! Welcome to your thirties sister dear.

May there be many, many, many more years of ‘making memories’.

Thank you for being my first best friend.

IMG_3869

For dancing on the bed to Rod Stewart with me.

IMG_3871

For teaching me humbleness while showing me up on the soccer field, even though you were two years younger.

IMG_3857

Thank you for being the co-conspirator and co-host to all of our high school parties.

IMG_3859

For picking on Teddy so much that I am and always will be the favorite sister!

IMG_3863

For missing me when I went away to college.

Sarah

Then coming to see me all the time! (However, shame on you for not telling me that my hair and shirt were so AWFUL.)

IMG_3858

Yet amazingly, never missing the chance to call me out on my ugly photo face.

IMG_3864

Thank you for the inside jokes.

Spain

For making me laugh so hard it hurts.

sisters

For loving food as much as I do.

Falafel Eating Spain

And lastly, thank you for being so wonderfully, unapologetically you!

Bay to Breakers 2010

How lucky I am to have my best friend, greatest confidant and biggest fan all wrapped up in one person.

I love you, yo my sista!

Sisters

Enjoy and Exhale!

Love: In All Its Forms

hearts

I’m not one for the forced gift giving or expensive dinners of Valentine’s Day but I do like the sentiment behind it.

Love.

I looked up love in the dictionary today and this was the definition that resonated most strongly with me.

Love: (noun) an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

Because at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about?

When we strip away the roses and the cards and the candles and the huge heart-shaped mylar balloon I saw a college student walking out of the grocery store with yesterday, we can see love for what it really is: selfless concern for others. The hope that good happens to those around us, whether we know them or not, that their load isn’t too heavy to bear, that their hearts feel surrounded by warmth, that no one has to walk alone.

It isn’t about a singular day on the calendar and it isn’t just about romantic love.

May we know love in all its forms.

Be it a phone call from a good friend. The taste of a thoughtfully prepared meal. The enthusiast greeting of a dog after a long day at work. The unconditional support of family. The hand of a small child’s in yours. The sound of an old favorite song. The kindness of a stranger. The forgiveness of a long-held grudge. The legacy left by those no longer with us. The softness in the eyes of your beloved. The allowance of some tenderness toward yourself.

Today we are reminded to open our hearts more fully, appreciate love in its non-traditional sense and know that in the end, it is indeed all around us (thank you Love Actually), if we care enough to see it.

Continuing to spread the love this afternoon. 12:15 and 7 at Sangha Yoga Boston, 4:30 at All One Yoga.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy and Exhale!

 

Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry

First let me say that I wish these photos had turned out better. This was such a tasty meal but I was hasty with the photography. What can I say, it was late, there was good TV on and I was hungry!

These photos really don’t do this meal justice. It was so good that it was actually meant to be yesterday’s post but the blueberry muffins stole the show (or post). It will have to settle for second in the posting schedule but not in flavor.

vegetable tofu stir fry

To be honest, l’m actually not a huge fan of stir fries but they are one of Michael’s favorites and I owe it to him to make it from time to time. This recipe was so simple and tasty that it may just have changed my opinion on the lowly stir fry.

I love how incredibly versatile this recipe is, consider this the jumping off point. How you mix and match is totally up to you. I already have a dozen new sauce and veggie combos in my head, one of which will likely become dinner tonight. Lucky Michael!

Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry (vegan, gluten-free)

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 onion, sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 carrot

2 tbsp garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1 package of firm tofu, pressed and sliced into cubes

1 tbsp tamari

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar, vegans can omit

dash of cayenne pepper

1/2 tbsp paprika

Toppings:

1 tsp sriracha

2 tbsp slivered almonds

1 tbsp cilantro

———–

Slice onion, pepper and carrot.

onions and peppers

Heat oil in a large wok. Make sure the wok is really hot. Peanut oil is best for stir frying because it has a high smoke point, meaning it can be heated very high before it starts to break down and taste bitter. The hotter the oil and the pan, the better tasting the stir fry.

Once oil is hot, throw in the sliced veggies. Stir fry for about 5 minutes or until veggies start to get soft but still have some crunch to them. Add garlic, cook for another minute.

healthy stir fry

Next add the tofu. I put my tofu in and then immediately added my liquids but next time I’ll give the tofu a few minutes to brown.

Add tamari, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and paprika. I used regular paprika but I think smoked paprika would add an excellent flavor to this.

Stir fry for a few more minutes until veggies and tofu are coated.

tofu stir fry

Serve with sriracha, slivered almonds and cilantro on top.

Michael would have preferred this over brown rice. I’m not the biggest rice fan so I liked it as it was but could also imagine it being tasty over rice noodles.

The perfect, fast, easy weeknight meal.

tofu vegetable stir fry tofu vegetable stir fry

Enjoy and Exhale!