Coconut-lime refresher drink: a recipe

I don’t know about you, but where I live, we’re in a heat wave. It’s so hot right now that I have no desire to do anything but lie in front of the fan sipping an ice-cold beverage. Luckily, the (non-alcoholic, though you could easily add your liquor of choice) drink recipe I’m sharing with you today is pretty much the BEST summer drink ever. It’s also great to drink after you work out (or, at this point in the summer, anytime you go outside) and replenish some electrolytes! It’s cold, sweet, creamy, coconutty, and oh-so-refreshing.

I have to give all the credit for this drink to Bombay Food Junkies, an incredible vegan Indian-fusion restaurant and food truck in my former home of St. Louis, Missouri. I have thought more than once about going back to St. Louis for the food, and Bombay Food Junkies is one of the city’s best. If you’re ever in the area, you have to check it out!

BFJ used to serve this drink, or their version of it, and I have fond memories of sipping it on similarly sweltering St. Louis summer days. I don’t know their exact recipe, but if memory serves, they used the same simple ingredients of coconut water, coconut milk, and lime juice, and it all comes together into a beautiful beverage. I couldn’t find any information online about the origin of this drink, other than maybe a lighter variation of a coconut lassi (which is traditionally made with yogurt), but if you know anything about it I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Please let me know if you make this coconut-lime drink to cool down on a hot day, and I hope you enjoy it!

Coconut-lime refresher

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 5 minutes
The drink in question with its three ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1/4-1/2 cup canned coconut milk/cream
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (~ 1 lime)
  • Ice (for serving)

Instructions

  1. In a blender, add the coconut water, coconut milk, and lime juice and blend to combine. Start with the lesser amounts of coconut milk and lime juice; you can always add more to enhance the flavor.
  2. Taste the mixture and adjust as needed, adding more coconut water for sweetness, more coconut milk for creaminess, or more lime juice for tanginess.
  3. Pour into ice-filled glasses, garnish with an additional lime wedge if you wish, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Depending on the brand of coconut milk and type of lime you use, the “intensity” of these ingredients may vary, which is why I include a range of measurements. For example, my coconut milk ended up being mostly cream, so I could get away with using less of it in this drink; another brand of coconut milk might take more to get the same level of creaminess. Of course, you can adjust based on your personal preferences for the flavors, too.
  • I think this would also be DELICIOUS with some fresh mint—I haven’t tried it that way, but please let me know if you do! And, as I mentioned above, it could be a great cocktail, too—maybe with some rum?
  • If you don’t have a blender, you can simply shake up the ingredients in a closed mason jar, making sure the coconut milk (if solidified) gets fully combined. Or, you can melt the hardened coconut milk/cream in the microwave to make it even easier to mix together by hand. I am too warm already to put in the effort of shaking, so I used a blender; plus, I like how it makes the drink frothy.

Grapefruit brown sugar pound cake: a recipe

Grapefruit with brown sugar was one of my favorite snacks growing up. I remember watching my my prepare it for me with love, then later emulating the steps myself: Slicing the grapefruit in half, carefully sawing around the outer edge of the flesh and loosening the wedges between each segment, and finally, sprinkling on a thick layer of brown sugar that instantly became a delicious sludge as it half-dissolved into the grapefruit juice. Looking back, I’m not sure why it was always brown sugar, specifically, or why we even had a collection of tiny, pointy, serrated grapefruit spoons in our otherwise standard cutlery drawer. But this flavor combination always brings back the memories for me; plus, it’s just delicious.

A few grapefruits recently came into my possession, and I wanted to recreate my nostalgic snack in a new format. I looked around online at recipes for grapefruit pound cakes (drawing the most from this one) and swapped out white sugar for brown and a confectioners-sugar icing for a crispy glaze. The grapefruit flavor is delicate, the cake itself heartier and darker than it might be otherwise due to the extra molasses in the sugar. Olive oil makes itself known flavor-wise in the batter, but mellows out once it’s baked. There’s no egg or egg substitute, so this cake can be a bit delicate; just handle with care and you’ll be golden. I hope you enjoy it!

Vegan Grapefruit Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup nondairy milk
  • 150 grams (¾ cup) brown sugar, + 2 Tbsp for topping
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained, + 1 Tbsp. for topping (about 1 grapefruit’s worth of juice)
  • 2 tsp grapefruit zest, + 1 tsp for topping
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 212 grams (about 2 scant cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt, + a sprinkle for topping
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan with neutral oil.
  2. To a large mixing bowl, add milk, 150 g brown sugar, olive oil, 1/2 cup grapefruit juice, 2 tsp grapefruit zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined, then add the rest of the ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda and powder) and mix again until combined.
  3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  4. While cake is baking, prepare brown sugar glaze topping: mix together remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp grapefruit juice, 1 tsp grapefruit zest, and a tiny sprinkle of salt, until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  5. Remove cake from oven and use a pastry brush to apply the glaze to the the top of the cake, then return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
  6. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, carefully take it out of the loaf pan and allow to cool completely before slicing (if you can be patient enough).

Notes

Recipe adapted from this one by Short Girl, Tall Order.

Vegan cream cheese frosting (no cream cheese required): a recipe

Cream cheese frosting, as a concept, is so far removed from cheese itself that it really only has a few attributes in common. Creamy? Yes. Tangy? Yes. Umami? No. Salty? No. Funky? Definitely not. Vegan cream cheese frosting, dare I say, is even further away.

So it never made sense to me to buy a pre-made vegan cream cheese to make cream cheese frosting. Can’t you replicate the qualities of a good cream cheese frosting without any…cheese, vegan or otherwise?

As it turns out, you can!

For my purposes, lemon juice is the secret ingredient. Adding just the right amount transforms a basic buttercream frosting into a tangy, cream-cheese-y, ready-for-carrot-cake delight.

I also like to use some coconut cream in my frosting to add richness in a different way than just vegan butter.

Check out my recipe below, and please let me know if you try it out!

Vegan cream cheese frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream*
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (from about half a lemon, but definitely measure it)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-2.5 cups powdered sugar
  • If needed: A splash of plant milk

Instructions

  1. If you haven’t already, soften your butter by microwaving it at 50% power for 15 seconds at a time until soft to the touch.
  2. Combine your butter, coconut cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and mix with a hand or stand mixer until well-combined, smooth, and fluffy.
  3. Add powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, and continue mixing until the frosting has reached your desired sweetness level and texture. (You want it to be soft enough to spread, and thick enough that it won’t fall of your cake once you frost it.)
  4. If your frosting is too stiff, you can add a splash of plant milk and re-blend. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it’s not cheesy/tangy enough for you, you can add a little bit more lemon juice, but be careful! It’s a fine line between “cream cheese frosting” and “straight up lemon-flavored frosting,” and you can’t really go back from the latter.
  5. Ideally, cool/set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes before using it to frost a cake. Then, enjoy!

Notes

  • This recipe was adapted from Minimalist Baker‘s buttercream frosting.
  • *For coconut cream, you want the solid stuff in a can of coconut milk. Sometime these cans are already separated, but if not, you can stick it in the fridge the day before you’re going to use the coconut cream. Then, when you’re ready, open the can without shaking it and scoop out the solids. That’s coconut cream!
  • You could probably substitute more of vegan butter or coconut cream for each other in this recipe, if you have a preference for one of the other, but I haven’t tested the recipe this way. Let me know how it goes if you do, though!

Scrumptious maple-mustard vinaigrette: a recipe

This is probably my favorite salad dressing—and I don’t even eat that much salad!

It’s inspired by the Love & Magic dressing at SweetArt, an incredible vegan restaurant and bakery in St. Louis. I went to college in St. Louis and whenever I needed a pick-me-up treat, I biked to SweetArt and got myself a cupcake (only $2 on Wednesdays!). When I wanted to be a bit more nutritionally responsible, I indulged in their burger—still the best veggie burger I’ve had to date—and a side of the kale salad with Love & Magic dressing.

I was obsessed with figuring out the secret to their dressing, and I never did, until a couple years ago when a Thanksgiving recipe called on me to make a marinade with maple syrup and Dijon mustard. I tasted it and it was delicious…and it reminded me of that elusive, magical dressing. Since then I’ve honed in on a recipe that may not contain all the same Love & Magic as SweetArt’s, but it’s still pretty damn great.

Tl;dr: Make this dressing, and whenever you’re in St. Louis, get a burger, a salad, and a cupcake from SweetArt—you’ll be glad you did.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a jar, combine all ingredients. Screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Taste the dressing and if desired, add a bit more maple syrup for sweetness, vinegar for acidity, mustard for tang, or soy sauce for saltiness/depth of flavor. Enjoy!

Note: Recipe adapted from this one from the Food Network.

Really good greens: a recipe

If you or a loved one blanch at the mere mention of kale, you may be entitled to this recipe for Really Good Greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch lacinato kale (or other dark leafy green)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced into thin rings
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 0.5 tsp vegan chicken-flavored bouillon paste (I use Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Base)
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash your greens and tear or chop them into roughly bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat a large, tall-sided pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then add shallot. Once shallot is softened, about 3-4 minutes, add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
  3. Add chopped kale to the pan and top with soy sauce and bouillon paste. Mix to combine, and keep over medium heat until kale has wilted and bouillon paste has completely dissolved. (If you prefer your greens more saucy, place a lid on the pot while the kale wilts; otherwise, leave it uncovered.)
  4. Once kale is wilted, add black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Spring ephemerals (ramps!) and hearty pantry staples: a recipe

In the gentle slopes of the Appalachian mountains, spring is synonymous with ramp season. Or at least a small sliver of it, anyway—these cheery yellow-green leaves spring up from the forest floor for just about a month. Their impermanence makes them feel special. But due to overharvesting, slow-growing ramps may become elusive in a more permanent way. It’s important to treat these special plants like the special treat that they are. Here is a great resource for ramp identification and sustainable harvesting. Enjoy responsibly.

A friend clued me in to a patch of ramps growing by a nearby pond, and I made the trek to grab a few leaves. I’ve made ramp pesto before, which is delicious, but this year I decided to blend them into a creamy sauce with some white beans I had in the pantry. The light, savory ramp flavor shines through here, with just a few other ingredients to round out the sauce.

RAMPS! just the leaves, of course.

I used sweet potato “noodles” for no reason other than that I was out of pasta and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store, but I’m sure regular wheat pasta would be just as delicious, if not more so (shh, don’t tell sweet potatoes, one of my great loves, that they just don’t hold a candle in this form to the original). Kale was the green veg I had on hand, but if I made this again, I would probably roast up some broccoli instead. Basically, the star of this recipe is the ramp sauce, and the supporting elements are pretty much interchangeable.

Please let me know if you make this recipe, and I hope you enjoy. Happy ramping!

Sweet potato noodles with creamy ramp sauce and crispy kale (vegan)

  • Serves: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (~1.25 lb.)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch red kale, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1 pack Field Roast apple sage vegan sausages

For the ramp sauce:

  • 1 handful sustainably foraged ramp leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 cups cooked white beans
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Spiralize sweet potatoes. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a regular vegetable peeler to create fettuccine-like strips.
  2. Wash and roughly chop the ramp leaves and peel and crush the garlic clove. Sauté the ramps and garlic in 1 tsp olive oil on low-medium heat until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the ramps and garlic to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding more water if you want a thinner sauce.
  4. If needed, add another tsp olive oil to the same pan. Cook chopped veggie sausage (if using) for ~3 min. on each side until browned. Then, add kale, salt, & pepper and cook for several more minutes until kale is wilted and crispy in places. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. In the same pan, sauté the sweet potato noodles (swoodles? let’s go with it) on medium heat, adding a bit more oil or water as needed to keep them from sticking to the pan. After 3 minutes or so, cover the pan to steam the swoodles until al dente, about 6-7 minutes total.
  6. Add sauce, kale, and veggie sausage to the swoodles and cook on low heat until sauce is heated through. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • The sweet potato noodles can get soggy if they are left saucy for too long, so if you’re saving some of this recipe for later, keep the uncooked sweet potato noodles separate from the sauce and saute+ combine them immediately before eating.
  • Recipe somewhat inspired by this one from Minimalist Baker.

The best tofu feta: a recipe

I should maybe stop adding “: a recipe” to the end of my recipe posts, huh? Maybe there’s a better system?

Anyway, this is the best (in my humble opinion) tofu feta recipe! I’ve shared it quite a few times on my Instagram stories, but now I’m immortalizing it on my blog. The texture of tofu is not quite the same as that of feta, but the flavor is perfect: creamy, cheesy, tangy, salty, herby. What’s not to love?

This feta is super quick to prepare, but it does require chilling in the fridge for 24 hours. That wait time is not optional—it makes the feta immeasurably more delicious once all the flavors have had ample time to mingle and infuse into the tofu. Patience is a virtue!

Use this recipe to top pastas, salads, roasted vegetables…it makes pretty much anything more delicious.

Again…I’m really not a photographer. But trust me, this stuff is delicious!

My best tofu feta

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 25 hours (but only 15 minutes active prep)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1 lemon (~2 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Optional: fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Press your tofu: drain the excess liquid from the tofu package, then wrap the block in a clean kitchen towel. Sandwich it between two cutting boards/baking pans/other flat kitchen tools and place several heavy cans or cookbooks on top to squeeze out excess moisture. This improves the tofu’s ability to absorb the feta flavors. Press for 20 minutes.
  2. Once pressed, use your fingers or a fork to crumble the tofu into smallish chunks in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the tofu and mix well to combine. Then, sample it. The flavors will develop while it’s chilling, but at this point you can add more of whatever you feel might be lacking: nutritional yeast for cheesiness, lemon juice or ACV for tanginess, etc.
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  5. Enjoy! Some optional add-ins to make it even more delicious: Fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes.