Blondies with Chocolate Frosting

My favorite cookies are from a Los Angeles-based baker, Coco Bakes.  When we go to the Farmer’s Market, and she’s there, it’s the ultimate treat for me.  Some of her recipes were recently featured in GOOP, and I’m so glad I tried this Blondie recipe – they are SO good. It’s amazing how just orange zest can flavor these perfectly.  Next time, I’ll make them in a bigger pan, because I think I’d like them thinner. These are sure to be a hit with your friends, and you can also keep this recipe for Passover (they’re gluten free & dairy free) – win-win!


Blondies with Chocolate Frosting

adapted from CocoBakesLA via GOOP

serves about 20


¼ cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut shortening*

1 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

zest of 1 orange

2 eggs

1 ¾ cups almond flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda


1 cup pitted dates

¾ cups water

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ cup cocoa powder


1. To make the blondies, preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch x 8-inch pan with parchment paper.  If you want to make them thinner, use a rectangular baking dish.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat together the shortening, coconut sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Then add the eggs, mixing to combine.

3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth batter forms.

4.  Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

5.  To make the frosting, soak the dates in warm water for at least 7 minutes.  Once soaked, put all frosting ingredients in a blender or a small food processor and blend until completely smooth.

*The original recipe calls for Coconut Shortening and I used a vegetable (palm oil) shortening, and that could also be why they turned out a bit more cake-like.


Go-to Frittata

Tis the season where there’s a ton going on and it’s a challenge to cook dinner I’ll actually enjoy eating, especially after a busy work day and wishing someone could just bring me my own homemade cooking.  We hit the jackpot when I discovered this great frittata recipe from a cookbook, one of my favorite food bloggers, Phoebe Lapine, recommended.  Even Scott kept saying, he couldn’t believe how little time it took to make and tasted great.  (Also, who else rejoices when a frittata recipe doesn’t include milk or cream?!)  If you want make this meatless, just sub the sausage for mushrooms.

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Go-To Frittata

adapted from The Dude Diet

serves 4


6 large eggs

1/2 tsp hot sauce of your choice (optional)

pinch of kosher salt

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 link sweet chicken sausage OR 4 oz. chopped mushrooms

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced


  1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, hot sauce, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the broiler on high.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet (or castiron)*, over medium heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the mushrooms or sausage and cook for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggs are beginning to set.
  5. Place the skillet under the broiler.  Broil for 1-2 minutes** until the top of the frittata is puffed up and very lightly browned.
  6. Loosen the frittata from the pan with a spatula and slide it onto a cutting board. Slice in quarters (or eighths), and top with salsa and cilantro if you like.

*If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, finish the frittata on the stovetop.  Simply lower the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and cook until the frittata is completely set.

**For the frittata to cook completely, this took more like 6 minutes, checking in every 1-2 minutes to make sure it wasn’t burned.

Walnut + Chickpea Tacos w/Lime Aioli

This recipe is about as easy as it gets.  It’s practically no-cook, but you wouldn’t know it when eating the final product.  Scott was impressed with how similar the walnut and chickpea taco “meat” tasted in flavor and texture.  And, for it to be a win in the texture category, is my favorite kind of vegan win.  I don’t eat soy, so other meatless taco “meat” alternatives aren’t an option for us. However, I think once you make this recipe, you’ll hardly miss the other vegan options, or meat ones for that matter.  TBD how this tastes the next day, but I’m guessing it’s just as great as it did tonight.  Taco Tuesday, anyone?


Chickpea + Walnut Tacos with Lime Aioli

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking

serves 4-6, makes about 10-12 tacos


1 cup walnuts

1 cup garbanzo beans, drained

2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 tbsp cumin (or a little less for a milder flavor)

2 heaping tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegan low fat mayo

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

small corn tortillas

grape tomatoes

micro greens or green cabbage

avocado (optional)


  1.  In a small food processor, combine walnuts, garbanzo beans, coconut aminos, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Pulse until spices are well combined and texture is chunky (though parts may be smooth – that’s OK).  Pour contents into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vegan mayo and lime juice.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tortillas and toppings.
  4. Heat the taco “meat” in the microwave for 1 minute
  5. Spoon about 1 -1 1/2 tbsp of taco “meat” onto each tortilla.  Top with toppings you like, and finish each taco with a drizzle of the lime aioli.

Forest Bowl

Looking for something that feels like Fall, and also feels “healthy” after Thanksgiving? Look no further than this Forest Bowl.  The beauty of this dish assembled is reason enough to try it.  Admittedly, this is the kind of meal that takes awhile to prepare, but once you have the cooked ingredients, it’s really easy to take for lunch and/or make for a quick weeknight dinner.img_2329

Forest Bowl

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking

serves 4


1 cup quinoa, uncooked & rinsed

2 cups water

3 small sweet potatoes, diced

Wild arugula & chopped romaine

1/4 cup dried blueberries

2 tbsp chopped walnuts

2 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds


1/2 cup fresh or frozen & thawed (wild) blueberries

1/4 cup quality balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (I prefer agave)

Pinch of kosher salt

Dash of ground black pepper


  1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover; cook for 15 – 20 minutes.  Once done, the water should be evaporated and the quinoa tender. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. Steam the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes, until fork tender, while the quinoa cooks.
  3. While the quinoa and sweet potatoes cook, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor; blend for about 30 seconds on high until smooth.  Transfer to a small pitcher or measuring cup.
  4. You can serve this as one big bowl or individual bowls.  Either way, divide the bowl (see picture above for reference) so that one half has a handful of arugula, while the other top half has the sweet potato, with the quinoa below it.  Top with dried blueberries, walnuts and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Drizzle vinaigrette on top, 1 tbsp for each serving.

NOTE – For individual servings (like in a lunch box below), I like to use the following measurements – 1/3 -1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/3 cup sweet potato, 1/2 tbsp dried blueberries, 1/2 tbsp walnuts, 1/2 tbsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and a few handfuls of arugula or chopped romaine.



Vegan Thanksgiving Sandwich

My (vegetarian) high school Spanish teacher, annually drew a very lifelike picture of a turkey on a platter, with a speech bubble “¡Salvame!” which was pretty much the end of my eating turkey at Thanksgiving.  And if opposites attract, wherever we go, a Thanksgiving Sandwich is without fail, Scott’s favorite to order if it’s on a menu.  When I recently saw a recipe for a vegan version, I jumped at the chance to make it.  Scott loved it (even without the turkey), and I could enjoy all the flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner, without the turkey.  The best part, it’s SUPER easy to assemble.


Vegan Thanksgiving Sandwich

adapted from Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

serves 1


2 slices bread (we use Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White) or 1/2 pita pocket

2 tsp hummus (store-bought is fine)

1 tsp cranberry sauce, store-bought (I like Nature’s Direction Organic)

2 tbsp Sweet Potato Mash

Leafy greens

chopped parsley


  1. Toast the bread or pita
  2. Layer one side of the bread with the hummus, followed by the cranberry sauce, and then the sweet potato mash.
  3. Sprinkle with parsley and top with lettuce.
  4. Put the bread top on and enjoy!


Sweet Potato Mash

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious Thanksgiving side, this Sweet Potato Mash is it! The most tedious thing about the recipe is waiting for the sweet potatoes to cook – after that, this recipe is quite simple.  I was skeptical, because you don’t actually cook the vegetables in the mash with the sweet potato, but somehow it all comes together and is SO good – the texture and flavors are spot on.  I also like that it has some hummus mixed in, making it a little more hearty and savory for the vegetarian/vegan diner, who may not be eating turkey at Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I’m posting a recipe of a Thanksgiving Sandwich you can make with it too.  Bon apetit!


Sweet Potato Mash

adapted from Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen

Serves about 6


1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes

1 large carrot, chopped

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup garlic hummus, store-bought (I’ve used both a garlic and a garlic/chive hummus)

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp grade B maple syrup

pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  After washing the potatoes, poke a few holes in the potato using a fork.  Bake the sweet potato until sticky-sweet and very tender, about 55-60 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 200°F.
  2. Carefully take the sweet potato and cut it down the middle, to spoon out all the insides and place into a large mixing bowl*.
  3. Add  the rest of the ingredients to the bowl with the sweet potato, and mash together.  It will be a course texture.  Pour the mixture into an oven-safe serving bowl and warm in the oven until ready to serve.  You can also store covered in the refrigerator to use in other recipes.

*While you may want the potato to cool for a few minutes, don’t let it cool completely because the warmth of the potato will help soften the other vegetables in the mash

Butternut Squash Hummus

This hummus is amazing, and, this recipe may end up being an all-time favorite.  (What else would I expect from Ina Garten?!)  It does take a bit more time to make than traditional hummus recipes, but trust me, you will be happy you took the extra time to prepare this.  There’s something so interesting (and addicting) about the butternut squash roasted with cinnamon, and then blended together with tahini and yes, even sriracha.  Sweet, savory, and an ever so slight kick.  The hardest part is figuring out what to eat it with, because this recipe makes A LOT of hummus!  If you’re looking for something to bring for Thanksgiving, try this – we think it’s sure to be a hit (and even Vegan friendly).


Butternut Squash Hummus

adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey

serves 6-8 according to cookbook, but I think it’s more like 12-18


1 1/4 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp kosher sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, liquid reserved

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 cup non-dairy plain yogurt* (I used Forager brand)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

3/4 – 1 tsp Sriracha (depending on preference)

Pure Grade A Maple Syrup, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon.  Toss with hands, and arrange in a single layer on a half sheet baking pan.  Cook for 25 minutes, until tender.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a food processor, fitted with a blade, add all ingredients except the liquid reserved from the garbanzo beans and the maple syrup.  Once butternut squash is cooled, set aside 1/4 cup of the squash and add the rest to the food processor and pulse everything to combine.  If you want it smoother (I like it this way), add the liquid reserved from the garbanzo beans in small increments until you reach your desired consistency.  Be careful not to puree completely – it should have some texture.

Finish by putting hummus in a medium sized serving bowl.  Top with reserved butternut squash and drizzle a little maple syrup if desired.  It should last up to 3 days in the fridge.

*You could also use traditional dairy plain yogurt.  The recipe calls for plain whole-milk Greek yogurt.  I don’t eat dairy, so I subbed for an equitable vegan option.  If using a vegan option, I like nut-based plain yogurts, and make sure they don’t include “carrageenan” in the ingredients – not only is it questionable in my research if it causes digestion problems, but I’ve also found with it, the texture of the yogurt can be off too.  My favorite non-dairy plain yogurts to use in recipes are Kite Hill (almond yogurt) and Forager (cashew yogurt).  I also don’t eat soy, so I’m not sure how soy yogurt would taste, though I’m sure as long as it’s plain, it could be easily substituted.

S’mores Pie

Baking is typically a little more challenging for me.  I love the preciseness required, and how it’s one big science experiment, but somehow it usually takes me a few tries before I make something that tastes like it was intended.  This S’mores Pie however, is one of the few things I’ve made that was good on the first try. The hardest part was figuring out a gluten-free and soy-free alternative for the graham cracker crust – by the way, Honey Nut Cheerios ftw!


S’mores Pie

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking


1 1/4 cup Honey Nut Cheerios, finely ground in a food processor

2 tbsp semisweet vegan chocolate chips

1 tbsp vegan stick butter

3 tbsp canned, full fat coconut milk*

2 mejdool dates, pitted and chopped

1/4 tsp salt


2 cups semisweet vegan chocolate chips

2 tbsp vegan stick butter

1 1/4 canned, full fat coconut milk (about 2 cans)

1 1/2 tbsp instant freeze-dried coffee (optional)**

1/4 tsp sat

1 tbsp agar agar flakes***

15-20 vegan marshmallows, halved


Place the honey nut Cheerios in a food processor until very finely ground.  You need 1 1/4 cup of the Cheerios ground up, so you may need more to yield this amount.

Put the 2 tbsp chocolate chips and 1 tbsp butter in a small microwave safe bowl and zap for 30 seconds on high.  Remove from microwave, and whisk together until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Add to the food processor along with the remaining crust ingredients until the dates are incorporated and very well combined.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable base coated with a nonstick cooking spray/lightly greased (or springform pan will also work).  Press with your fingers to form the crust until it evenly coats the base and sides of the pan.  Place in fridge.

Place all of the filling ingredients into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low just until the chocolate chips are melted.  Take crust out of the fridge and pour into the crust and place back into the fridge on an even surface.

While the pie chills, slice the marshmallows in half, then arrange on top of the pie. (Don’t worry, the marshmallows won’t sink).  Place the top rack in the oven at its highest setting and place the pie on the rack.  Broil (not bake!) until the marshmallows are golden brown to ensure they don’t burn.  (We have a separate broiler drawer, and this process took less than 1 minute).  Alternatively, you can use a torch if you’re super fancy.

Remove from the oven and place in the fridge.  The pie won’t be warm at all, although the marshmallow is toasted.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 3 hours prior to serving.  Keep refrigerated.


*Place canned coconut milk in the fridge the night before so the cream can separate from the liquid.  To yield 1 1/4 cup, you’ll need the cream, carefully removed, from about 2-3 cans. I’ve researched that Thai Kitchen and Trader Joe’s have the best canned coconut milk to yield the best results. Canned coconut cream is also an option and has more cream:liquid ratio. 

**Since this is a no-bake pie, I omitted the coffee to make it kid-friendly. 

***This is the first time I’ve used this ingredient. It’s what makes the pie set, to have an almost fudge like texture. It looks like a cornstarch slurry would also work to thicken this too, but I haven’t tried it yet. 




Lasagna Roll Casserole

We’ve been on a role lately with make-ahead meals. These lasagna rolls are so good and I’m still having a hard time believing they’re gluten-free, vegan, make-ahead AND taste great. A quad-fecta?  Scott and I also noticed that the cashew cheese recipe for this dish tastes like “pizza” more so than in the Pumpkin Lentil Lasagna we also like. Don’t eat vegan and gluten-free?   Just swap out the cashew cheese for Ricotta and the brown rice lasagna noodles, for traditional ones.  Enjoy!

Lasagna Roll Casserole 

Adapted from The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook

Serves 8


1 tbsp olive oil

8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup Cashew Cheese (recipe follows)

12* lasagna noodles (we used brown rice lasagna noodles)

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

8 oz. fresh baby spinach (though you’ll probably use less)


In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Cook the lasagna noodles al dente, according to the package directions.  Set aside.

To assemble the rolls, spread 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of  a 8×8 casserole dish.

Lay one noodle lengthwise on the counter in front of you.  Spread about 2 tbsp of the cashew cheese down the center.  Add about 6 mushroom slices, zig zag style, down the center of the cashew cheese.  Next, snap any hard stems of the spinach leaves over the mushrooms, overlapping each other by a little bit.

Roll the lasagna noodle upward, evenly and tightly.  Set the roll, seam side down, in the prepared casserole dish.  Repeat the steps so there are 8 rolls total.*

Spread the rest of the cashew cheese sauce and marinara over the top of the rolled noodles.  Mix the cheese sauce and sauce and smooth out with the back of a spoon.  At this point, you may refrigerate or freeze the lasagna rolls; otherwise, preheat oven to 350.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

 *Some of my lasagna noodles broke after they were cooked.  I could salvage some, but I definitely suggest making more than you need, just in case.

Cashew Cheese


1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours to overnight

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tbsp (fresh) lemon juice

1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable broth

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Drain the soaked cashews.

Place the garlic in a food processor.  Process until finely chopped.  Place everything in the food processor and process until smooth.  You will need to scrape down the sides of a bowl with a spatula every once in a while.  Add water, 1 tbsp at a time if you want the texture smoother, though note this will thin it out, so I wouldn’t add more than 4 tbsp.

Dill’ish Slaw

When I think coleslaw, I think of either Kentucky Fried Chicken’s version or my Grandpa’s – both delicious. (Does anyone else ever wonder how KFC packs so much coleslaw in such a tiny container?!) And while coleslaw is associated with many childhood memories for me, it’s a side dish I rarely eat as an adult. I mention that as a disclaimer because this recipe from The Yiddish Kitchen is quite good, but I have no idea if it tastes like coleslaw because it’s just been so long since I’ve had the real thing. All of you coleslaw conneusiers will have to let me know how it stacks up!

Dill-ish Slaw

Adapted from The Yiddish Kitchen


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup low-fat vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek)

2 tbsp honey

1-2 tsp dried dill (or 1/4 cup fresh)

1/4 tsp celery seed (I omitted)

1 medium head cabbage, shredded (I used 2 bags of pre-shredded red and green cabbage)

2 large carrots shredded (I used about 3/4 bag pre-shredded)

1/4 onion thinly sliced


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except cabbage, carrots, and onion.

Once dressing is well combine and smooth, toss in cabbage, carrots, and onion. With clean hands, you can also combined with your hands to really help the flavors and juices marry.

Enjoy right away or, for the best flavor, let sit overnight covered in the fridge.

NOTE – This is not a mayo heavy slaw, so don’t be afraid to use the mayo here. If you’re worried about that though, you can add more cabbage or carrots to have the slaw be less saucy