Raspberry-Lime Iced Rooibos Tea

I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce Rooibos – from what I could surmise from google, it’s “Roy-boss”. Rooibos is a red tea made from “South African red bush” – it’s really quite delicious. If you’re interested in trying it, you can purchase some at Equal Exchange (a fantastic Fair Trade company) right HERE!

Speaking of Equal Exchange, they’re also where I found this recipe for Raspberry-Lime Iced Rooibos Tea. Raised in a family of adventurous eaters (you’re talking to the girl whose father regularly sprinkled bone meal powder on his food), this seemed like a really fun recipe to try out, particularly since I’ve never had Rooibos Tea.

The Recipe Card – Raspberry Lime Iced Rooibos Tea

  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries, crushed with juice or a few teaspoon raspberry preserves or 1/4 cup frozen raspberries (As the fresh raspberries were out of season, my mom donated a jar of her homemade raspberry preserves, which I used in the tea. Turned out fantastic!)
  • 4 Tablespoons simple syrup (Stir 1 part sugar into 1 part hot water (just off the boil) until it is dissolved.)
  • 4 lime wedges
  • 3 rooibos tea bags
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 cup seltzer water (raspberry flavored or plain)
  • ice

Directions:

  1. Steep rooibos tea bags in 4 cup hot water for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bags, squeezing out excess tea water into the cup. Let cool.
  3. Add ice, raspberries and juice, simple syrup, and seltzer to cup.
  4. Squeeze limes and add to drink.
  5. Mix well.

I used plain seltzer, but I still felt like the tea had enough flavor… that could have been because of the raspberry preserves, so if you make this with fresh or frozen raspberries, let me know how it turns out! It was a really, simple, delicious drink, with a rich fruit flavor, underscored by the strong taste of the red tea.

Served with: Hot & Sweet Glazed Tofu with Noodles and Almond Cookies with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe coming soon!)

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 – refreshing with a nice citrus note!

Music: Jon Foreman’s unreleased song “Collide”, “Slow” by Grouplove and “So Light Is Her Footfall” by Air

Advertisements

Hot & Sweet Glazed Tofu with Noodles

I absolutely LOVE Asian food, and you can almost always find some great vegetarian dishes. This recipe for Hot & Sweet Marmalade Glazed Tofu from VeggieBelly.com  is no exception. I HAD to try it!

The Recipe Card – Hot & Sweet Glazed Tofu

  • One 15 oz packages of firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • Oil
  • For the glaze
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons orange marmalade. Substitute with brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon or to taste sriracha or any other hot chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint or cilantro for garnishNoodles
  • Rice or linguine noodles
  1. Slice the tofu into small triangles. (The thinner the better!)
  2. Whisk together the marmalade, soy sauce, lemon juice and sriracha and set aside
  3. Heat a few drops of oil and large, flat non-stick skillet. Place the tofu slices on the pan in a single layer.
  4. Cook the tofu on medium heat, till it is browned on both sides. Gently press on the tofu using the back of a wide spatula to release any excess water, as the tofu cooks.
  5. Prepare the noodles as per the instructions on the box.
  6. When the tofu is browned, reduce heat to low and pour the glaze all over the tofu
  7. Let the glaze bubble and thicken, while stirring gently and flipping the tofu slices. This will happen quickly, so make sure you keep the heat on low to prevent the marmalade from burning. When the glaze has thickened and the tofu is well coated, about 1 minute, turn off the heat.

It’s important to get the FIRM tofu, not the silken tofu (that’s more for desserts!) and make sure you drain it well. I sliced my tofu like so:

I think I’ll slice it even thinner next time, so that the tofu will get a bit more crispy! After the tofu was sliced, toss it in the skillet with a bit of oil and cook until browned – this might take a bit of time, but be patient, because it will be worth it!

While the tofu is cooking, it’s time to start the sauce.

^ Don’t skip on the sriracha sauce, that stuff MAKES this! It’s absolutely amazing.

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well – I used a fork!

Whisk well. Then taste it. Because it’s ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

While the tofu is cooking, start cooking the noodles. Once the tofu is ready, lower the heat and pour the sauce onto the tofu, letting it glaze the tofu, stirring gently. I cooked mine about 2 or 3 minutes!

Drain the noodles and place in a bowl. I actually made up a bit more of the sauce to drizzle over the noodles – so that I could get those flavors all throughout my dish. If you decide to do this as well, toss the noodles in the sauce so that they’re well coated.

Serve! I served the tofu on a separate platter so that people could add how ever many pieces they wanted to their noodles.

My favorite part of this dish was DEFINITELY the glaze on the tofu – it was absolutely DELICIOUS. I’m already thinking about other dishes that I could use that sauce on… maybe I could just eat it with a spoon?

Served with: Raspberry Lime Iced Rooibos Tea and Almond Cookies with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe coming soon!)

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10 – we thought the dish would have been improved if the tofu had been sliced thinner!

Music: The Rosebud’s “Loud Planes Fly Low” CD

Peach Coconut Freeze

I like to balance out a heavier meal with a light desert (and vice versa), so I decided to make Peach Coconut Freeze to top off my Chipotle Cheesesteak Meal. I found this recipe on WholeFoods.com, and just tweaked it slightly to my preference!

The Recipe Card – Peach Coconut Freeze

  • 5 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 1 cup white grape juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  1. Place frozen peaches in a food processor. Add coconut milk, juice and sugar and process until fairly smooth (a few chunks of peach for texture is nice). Transfer to your ice cream maker and freeze per makers instructions, OR transfer to a tupperware bowl and place in freezer for an hour. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with coconut.
  2. Serves 8 to 10

It literally took about 5 minutes to make – which is always a plus!

After your blend up the fruit, liquids and sugar, you might want to taste the freeze to see if it’s sweet enough – add more sugar to your taste! I used an ice cream maker to freeze and churn my freeze, but if you don’t have one, sticking the mixture in the freezer for an hour will work just fine!

I garnished the freeze with some shredded coconut – I think it would have added a nice touch to toast the coconut slightly or to have whipped a warm fruit sauce. The freeze was delicious, but the coconut flavor was much more mild than the peaches. Maybe next time, I’ll add more coconut milk!

Served with: Chipotle Cheesesteak & Coconut Coffee Smoothies

Overall Rating: Another 10 out of 10 from the family! (Either they were feeling generous or everything was really good)

Music: “A Million Parachutes” by Sixpence None The Richer

Coconut Coffee Smoothie

Nothing goes with a sandwich quite like a smoothie or a milkshake! A few days ago, I received an e-mail from one of my favorite fair trade companies, Equal Exchange, with this recipe for Coconut Coffee Smoothies – it was a perfect compliment to my Vegetarian Chipotle Cheesesteaks!

The Recipe Card – Coconut Coffee Smoothies

  • 1  and 1/2 cans lite coconut milk (blend first to even texture)
  • 3 cups coffee (using a homebrewer, brew with one and a half amount the grinds, let sit 2 hours, chill in refrigerator or freezer. I used Fair Trade Mai Thai Coffee – this stuff is SO good)
  • 1  and 1/2 cups chocolate ice cream (or vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. I went the vanilla ice cream route with chocolate syrup, so I could ensure that I was using ethical chocolate. Check out Ah!Laska Organic Chocolate Syrup!)
  • 4 frozen bananas
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • Chocolate, for shavings
  1. Blend together coconut milk, iced coffee, ice cream, bananas and vanilla extract until frothy. Pour into glass and top with chocolate shavings.

This is a really quick recipe. You literally just have to toss everything in the blender and hit the power button! I garnished the glasses by using a Microplane zester to shave some Chocolove Toffee & Almonds Milk Chocolate on top of the drinks. Unfortunately, I was so busy cooking everything else, that I wasn’t able to get any photos of the blending/mixing/zesting process, but take a look at the finished products!

The dominate flavor notes in this drink were the chocolate, the creamy-ness of the vanilla and then a smooth coffee finishing note. To make any of the flavors stand out more, simply add more of that ingredient – i.e. 2 cans of coconut milk, or and extra cup of coffee. Customize it to your taste!

A decadent, cool summer drink.

Served with: Chipotle Cheesesteak & Peach Coconut Freeze

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 from all 3 of my present family members. (Whoohoo! Scoring big here.)

Music: Paper Route’s “You Kill Me” from their “Are We All Forgotten” EP

Vegetarian Chipotle Cheesesteaks

For dinner tonight, I wanted to do a different take on the traditional “Sandwich, Milk Shake, Ice Cream” diner dish, so I made Vegetarian Chipotle Cheesesteaks, Coconut Coffee Smoothies and Peach Coconut Freeze. It was one of most fun meals that I’ve made recently!

Vegetarian Chipotle Cheesesteaks — The Recipe Card

  • Oil
  • 3 packages Lightlife Steak Style Strips
  • 3 cups bell peppers and onions
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoon2 all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pounds sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in abodo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon abodo sauce
  • Artisan bread
  1. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Thinly slice peppers and onions cook until peppers are softening, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and cook the steak strips, following the directions on the package. When finished, set aside and keep warm
  2. For cheese sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, whisking constantly until bubbly, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in black pepper, cheese, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce.
  3. Divide steaks and pepper-and-onion mixture among slices of artisan bread. Top with cheese sauce.
  4. Makes about 12 to 16 servings.

I originally picked up this non-vegetarian recipe from delish.com, but the great thing about vegetarian meat substitutes is that you can still make some of these “meat dishes”. In the 12+ years since I’ve been a vegetarian, my family and I have tried just about every soy substitute under the sun – from the delicious (like Boca’s Flame Grilled American Burger or Morning Star’s Bacon) to the mediocre (Soy Ice Cream) to the terrible (Never eat soy cheese). I think we can safely say the trial and error is over now, and we’ve settled on what substitutes are the best. (Maybe I’ll do a blog post on that someday!) The steak strips are some of my favorite – they have a FANTASTIC flavor and I love their chewy texture.

I started with multi-colored bell peppers from the garden. After you wash them, slice them in half and scoop out the stem and seeds. Rinse them again, to remove any seed residue, then slice them thinly.

Peel and slice the onions thinly, then toss the peppers and onions in the pre-heated skillet with a bit of oil:

Add your steak strips to a separate skillet (pre-heated with oil):

While everything is cooking, take the time to start the cheese sauce! First in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, then add in the flour, whisking until the mixture bubbles.

Add in the milk – now the recipe says to stir the milk until the mixture thickened, but mine never did. Since family was awaiting dinner, I didn’t really want to take the time to wait for it, so I went ahead to the next step. To the best of my knowledge, it didn’t change the taste or consistency any.

Next, add in pepper, cheese, chipotle and sauce.

Let cook (stirring occasionally) until the cheese is melted. The sauce might have a light froth on top. It will thicken and darken in color once you have removed it from heat.

While everything is cooking, slice and prepare your bread! If you can get your hands on it, definitely use artisan bread for this recipe. (HEHE!!) A local bakery or health food grocery store might have it. Fortunately for me, not only does my favorite coffee shop sell artisan bread, but my mom makes it herself. She generously baked me two loaves for this recipe.

^ Isn’t it beautiful? With the most perfect crackly crust imaginable, I assure you! For this recipe, I took advantage of my dads grilling skills and put him to work slicing the bread, drizzling it with oil and grilling the slices:

Dang, my parents are talented.

Once everything is cooked, you’re ready to serve! I wanted everyone to be able to construct their own sandwich, so I served everything on platters and let the family “build their own”.

Ta da!

These things were DELICIOUS! (They even scored a rare 10 from my Dad! Gives out 10’s very judiciously, that one) The spicy cheese sauce was a nice balance to the savory meat and the bell peppers added just the right amount of sweetness. The only downside was that they were a little difficult to eat neatly. Of course it could be argued that messy food = delicious food.

I thought this was a great quick and tasty take on the classic steak sandwich – it’d be great to serve if you’re having a friend over for lunch.

Served with: Coconut Coffee Smoothie & Peach Coconut Freeze

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10 from all 3 of my present family members.

Music: Delta Spirit, Deerhunter and a bit of Bon Iver

Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris

If you’re on a moderate kick, but want a delicious drink to spice up your dinner, then this is the recipe for you!

This is a recipe that is sort of my own creation – I googled a bunch of different daiquiri recipes then just took a few ideas from each, and made up my own measurements to taste. It took a bit of trial and error, but the end results were worth it.

The Recipe Card:

  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 5 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or to taste)
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Ice

Add lime juice, strawberries, vanilla extract and sugar to food processor. Blend until smooth. Add ice and blend again. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Serve immediately.

I started out using a blender, but it just did not have the power to blend all that frozen fruit. A food processor did the job ever so much better. I also put the glasses in the freezer for about half an hour so that they were cold before I poured in the daiquiris. (That also gave them a nice frosty look). The consistency of the drink should be thick – almost like a smoothie – very cool and refreshing. It wasn’t too sweet, and the lime gave it a nice kick. The vanilla added a more sophisticated layer to the flavors.

BONUS: It’s a very versatile recipe; a few days ago, I remade it and stuck it in the ice cream maker to see what that would do, and ended up with a delicious Strawberry Lime Sorbet.

Served with: Pizza Potatoes (recipe coming soon!) and Fresh Fruit & Cream Mini-Tarts

Overall Rating: My family gave it a 10 out of 10

Music: Mew’s magnificent “Frengers” album with a bit of Switchfoot’s “Vice Re-Verses” remix CD

Fresh Fruit & Cream Mini-Tarts

Hello readers! Yes, yes, I know, I have shamefully neglected this blog lately. I hope you weren’t waiting with bated breath for the rest of my mini-tart recipe… or with dough in the freezer, unable to complete your dessert, because I had failed to post. I would feel horribly guilty.

Today I’m going to give you the filling recipe for these Fresh Fruit & Cream Mini-Tarts. The recipe for the shortbread crust is in my last post, which you can read right over HERE. I’m happy to report that crust baked perfectly. I had no problem removing the tarts from my pan, but again, I emphasize freezing the dough overnight and oiling and flouring your pans WELL.

I cooked my dough at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. I let them cool in the pans, on a wire rack for about a minute, then removed them from the pans.

They turned out perfect – there was some minor bubbling on the crust, but poking the dough with a fork before baking it would have taken care of that.

Now for the filling! There was a slight glitch, the original recipe called for use of a microwave, which I do not have. (…seriously.) You can make this filling much quicker in a microwave, but I prefer the tried and true stovetop method, which I’ve written out in the recipe card below.

The Recipe Card

  • 2-3/4 cups milk (I used 3/4 cups Silk Very Vanilla Milk + 2 cups whipping cream)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (Wholesome Sweetners Fair Trade Certified Organic and Natural Sugar)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Frontier Herbs Fair Trade Vanilla Extract)

Add milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks, (in that order) to blender. Blend for 10 seconds, then transfer to a small sauce pan. Heat at medium low, whisking occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy. (20 to 30 minutes). Add butter and vanilla, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I taste tested the filling when it was finished (I’m a firm believer in tasting whilst cooking) and oh. my. goodness. Cream filling, custard-y heaven. It had the consistency of pudding, but the rich, cool, light taste of a custard. DELICIOUS. I could (and did…) eat it with a spoon as a pudding.

I could have assembled the tarts a few hours before my meal, but I was afraid the crust would get soggy if I did. So I simply poured it into a mason jar and stuck the filling in the refrigerator until it was closer to dinner time. I put the crusts in a tupperware container and set aside.

This + a spoon = a great “Welcome to the Neighborhood” gift

Assembling the Tarts

I used a small cookie scoop (the kitchen’s greatest asset) to put just the right amount of filling into the crusts. I wanted them slightly heaping but not overflowing.

I rinsed some fresh blueberries and blackberries, patted try and then garnished the tops of the tarts. You could use any type of fresh fruit, though I think strawberries, kiwis and raspberries would be particularly delicious. Right before serving, I zested some lemon peel over the tarts to give them a nice bright, citrus note.

These little guys were seriously amazing. My family (who know that I cook on Tuesday nights and always seem to be around then) absolutely LOVED them. They got a 10 star rating from my dad, mom and older sister. I saved some for my brother, whose comment was “Good.” (He’s a man of few words) We agreed that the blueberry tarts were better than the blackberry. The shortbread crust was light and delicate, with a delicious flavor that complimented the cream filling well. The fresh fruit kept the desert light and summer-y. This was my first time trying this recipe, but it’s definitely going into the favorites file.

Served with: Pizza Potatoes & Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris (Recipes coming soon!)

Overall Rating: Crust – 10 out of 10. Filling – 10 out of 10.

Music: Some Arcade Fire, a bit of The Civil Wars, “Sugar” by Paper Route, Wye Oak’s “Civilian” album

Shortbread Crust for Mini-Tarts

For dinner tomorrow, I’ll be making Pizza Potatoes, Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris and Fresh Fruit and Cream Mini-Tarts. (It might sound somewhat impressive, but really, I only have time to make an interesting meal like that once a week). Sometimes a recipe allows you to cook ahead, and such was the case with the shortbread crust for the Tarts. This is a new recipe, one I swiped from the Salad In A Jar website, but so far, I like it a lot.

The recipe card:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt. Pulse for 20 seconds. Cut the butter into chunks and pulse until the mixture is coarse.

Mix the egg yolk and heavy cream. Add to flour mixture and mix until all the ingredients are combined, but have not formed a ball. Lightly press ingredients into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grease and flour tart molds.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap.

Cut out a circle the size of your molds and gently press into molds. Freeze overnight. Place frozen tart shells on cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Unfortunately, when I started this recipe, I neglected one of the cardinal rules of cooking – which is, of course, making sure you have all your ingredients before you start. Which I did not. Of course, it was the powdered sugar missing. Fortunately, my mom had taught be a nifty little trick for making your own powdered sugar – simply place the amount of regular sugar you need in a blender (I used a magic bullet) and blend. It’s super easy and I was able to use my favorite sugar – Wholesome Sweetners Fair Trade Certified Organic and Natural Sugar (Try saying that saying THAT 5 times fast) – instead of overly processed white sugar. Not only was it a healthy alternative, but it was cheaper to running to the store and purchasing more.

While you may be skeptical that the small amount of liquid ingredients will adequately provide the dough with the right consistency, don’t doubt the recipe. The dough felt perfect when I finished. After the required refrigeration time, I rolled out my dough, but I had some problem with the dough sticking to the board and rolling pin… probably because I neglected to read the part of the recipe that instructed me to roll out the dough between plastic wrap. I wouldn’t suggest skipping this step; doing so made rolling out the dough EXTREMELY difficult. I used a “shot glass measuring cup” to cut out my circles, which fit my well greased and floured mini-muffin pans perfectly.

Don’t worry if your tart crust doesn’t look perfectly, it’s the little imperfections that make a dish look truly homemade! It’s off the freezer with these guys now, so check back later this week to see how the tarts turned out, as well as to get the recipe for the filling, Pizza Potatoes and Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris. See you then!

1.0

Hello! My name is Jeanna. Photography is my passion. I love to travel. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies.

My three siblings and I were born in California to (as my sister puts it) a recovering hippie and an organic gardener. We’ve always ate healthy, but when I was 12, we, corporately as a family, became vegetarians. Health food and cooking have been an integral part of our family life as long as I can remember.  Growing up, we’d plan trips around Whole Food’s locations. We couldn’t go anywhere new without sampling at least SOME of the local fare. Vacations were remembered not with stories of activities and sights, but with the food we ate. These habits have followed all of us into our adult lives.

I’ve never in my life had a Coke. I hate marshmallows. I firmly believe that if cheese hasn’t been aged in a barrel in a cave for 2 years, then it’s not real cheese. I actually like tofu. I thoroughly enjoy being a vegetarian… though it’s not without it’s annoyances.

Any fellow vegetarians, I’m sure, have, at some point in their lives, heard the following comments: “What do you eat?” “So… you’re a vegetarian? Do you eat… fish?” “You must really like vegetables.” “What do you eat?” “We want to have you over for dinner, but we don’t know what you’d eat.” “What do you eat?”

We’re such a misunderstood bunch.

Still, my mother, an excellent cook, taught us that eating vegetarian doesn’t HAVE to be boring. A vegetarian diet does not have to equal brown rice for breakfast, a salad for lunch, broccoli for dinner and beansprouts for desert. So why blog? A recent trip to Ghana, Africa inspired it. Necessity had me cooking a lot in Ghana, more than I do at home, and I realized how much I missed it. Now that I am back, I have resolved to get back into the kitchen. Since I cook to a soundtrack of nothing but indie music, my father has jokingly called my workspace “The Indie Kitchen” – hence, the name of this blog.

All that to say, my purpose for writing this blog is twofold: 1) To further explore cooking and food photography and 2) To hopefully show any future readers that eating healthy and vegetarian is actually delicious.

Come back soon for food posts and recipes!

– Jeanna