The key to good alfredo is pepper! Lots and lots of pepper!

I found a bunch of recipes for vegan alfredo online and mixed them up for this:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1.5 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • lemon juice (1 lemon) – I didn’t have this so I substituted with apple cider vinegar, and it was fine.
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper.  One can never have too much pepper in alfredo sauce.

I don’t remember where I got the idea or learned that alfredo requires mucho pepper.  The first time I had it was from a local Kentuckian chain Italian restaurant and a strong pepper flavor stuck out to me.  I know.  Kentucky, Italian.  This was a memorably good alfredo pasta though.  I think I ate an entire family sized bucket of it in a couple of days.  And it was over a decade ago and I still have fond memories of that bucket of pasta.  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice bucket of pasta?

  1. Stir fry the garlic and onions with a bit of salt and oil. Onions and Garlic
  2. Cut up the cauliflower into big chunks and poach it in maybe an inch of water with some seasoning.  I used a vegetable broth powder, but regular salt and pepper is fine.Cauliflower
  3. In a blender, blend the ingredients together.
  4. Cauliflower Alfredo SauceI added more nutritional yeast at the end to have a richer flavor. I also added about a tablespoon of cracked black pepper. I would have added more but my wrists were tired from the grinding.
  5. Simmer the sauce over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir the entire time and cover it with a lid.  Keep the lid over the pot as you move a spoon around in there because this thick sauce tends to spurt bubbles all over the place.

I like to serve it over pasta with green peas. It’s rich and creamy without the after effects of eating rich and creamy. I could eat a bucket of this sauce.

Tomato Rice

Picked up this neat trick on YouTube.

Prepare rice like you normally would (in a rice cooker).
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I like to add red lentils in my rice.
Add one whole tomato in the middle.
Add pepper.
Add a drizzle of oil.
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Once cooked, break up the tomato and stir it in the rice. It’s easy and delicious!
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Nice Cream

I’ve known about using frozen bananas to make (n)ice cream for a long long time, even before I stopped eating dairy. The first time I heard about it was on a TV show where Jerry Seinfeld’s wife said this is how she makes healthy treats for their kids. I filed it away in my brain but never made it because I’m not a big fan of ice cream anyway. And why have frozen bananas when I could just get store bought?

People, this is not your average ice cream. It’s better.

First, I recommend using organic bananas.
Ripe bananas
Let them ripen until they have spots.

Freeze the bananas: Wash and remove the stem and end, leaving the rest of the banana peel on.
Frozen bananas
Cut into quarters, then freeze them.

In a blender, add almond or some other dairy-free milk, the frozen bananas, and an avocado if you want it extra creamy and rich.
Frozen bananas and plant milk

For flavoring, I’ve had good luck with cocoa powder (use a lot! Then add more), cinnamon (a little), and liqueur (optional) and peanut butter.
Nice Cream
The cocoa powder and peanut butter are essential in my opinion.

Blend it up then put it in a bowl and freeze it again.
Nice Cream
Now you have nice cream. It reminds me of Chunky Monkey.

Kimchi Rice Bowl

Since I made kimchi last month, I’ve been having it all the time. I’ve already finished 2 big jars of it – one napa and one cubed radish.

Here’s how I enjoy it sometimes.

I cook beans in the steamer cooker (my rice cooker) and then I cook them again with rice to get:
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Rice and beans.

I add any kind of vegetable side dishes I have.
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This time it was mung bean sprouts.

In goes the kimchi and also a cut up avocado. Mmm-mm! A filling and delicious meal.
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The kimchi and kimchi juice provides all the flavoring.

If I don’t have cooked rice ready to go, I’ll boil noodles which takes no time and make a noodle bowl instead.

Baked Ripe Plaintains

I’m not sure what this is. A snack? A dessert? It’s anything. It’s good. My coworker told me this is how she eats plantains, but she emphasized that they must be ripe. Like spotty black ripe!

I washed the plantains first.

Then sliced them in half lengthwise.
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Then baked at 350 fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
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That’s it!

Is this even a recipe?? It’s like boil a potato. Or boil water. 1 ingredient. Add heat. Enjoy.

Everyday-for-the-rest-of-my-life chili!

It’s really just called white chili. Or maybe it’s white bean chili? There’s no tomato sauce or chili powder so it’s not one big pot of spicy hot redness. But it does have a kick to it.

This is so freakin’ easy to make and addictively tasty that I’ve already made 3 batches in the course of 2 weeks. We served it to guests, packed it for lunch, and are now enjoying it for dinner. It’s so flavorful!

The star guests:

  • Great Northern beans (5 15 oz.-cans or roughly 4 cups of dried beans or a little less than 2 lbs, cooked)
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves
  • 2 large onions diced
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 cans of diced green chili
  • Vegetable broth – one box
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne powder (or more)
  • 2 cups dried TVP (texturized vegetable protein) (or use a package of frozen)
  • 2 chopped Jalapenos (optional)
  • 2 diced tomatoes (optional)

I use cannellini beans because I couldn’t find dry great northern beans. The original recipe calls for great northerns. I used to think they were the same but they are not. Cannelini’s are a little bigger.
IMG_0324-001I soak before cooking beans if I plan ahead. Otherwise I just cook the shit out of it without soaking. This time I did the latter. Stir fry the onions, garlic, and fresh jalapenos until the onions are soft. IMG_0326

Add tomatoes if you want (it won’t turn the chili red). And canned green chilies.
IMG_0336Add the spices. IMG_0345

Add the TVP.
IMG_0348And the beans. IMG_0349

Basically put everything into the pot.
Simmer for 30 minutes.
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The beans make the chili thick and the vegetable broth and canned green chilies are enough to salt the whole dish.

Serve with nutritional yeast, diced avocados, and corn chips if you want.

If you have a slow cooker, this works really well. After browning the onions, just dump everything into the cooker and leave it all day. My slow cooker is too small to fit everything so I just cook it on the stove.

Fall Squash Simmer

I love fall squashes. When the season comes around, I always end up buying 2 or 3 at a time and then woefully regret my greed when I’m hauling them home because they are heavy.

  • 2 Acorn Squash (or any fall squash) – peeled and cubed
  • 2 big onions – diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic – chopped/minced/whatevered
  • Salt/Pepper – easy on the salt, generous with the pepper
  • Turmeric – generous
  • Water (2-3 cups)
  • Oil

Stir fry the onions, garlic, and salt in oil for a few minutes.
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Add pepper and turmeric. IMG_9878

Add the squash.
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Add the water

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Simmer until the squash is soft.

Sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Another microbiology project in my kitchen. This time, I made sauerkraut. It was surprisingly easy. Easier than kimchee. I love kimchee but it’s more involved, so after a few rounds of it, I stopped doing it. Then I went on to kombucha which is super easy. And now, I introduce to you, red cabbage sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

  • Sea salt
  • Filtered water
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1 red onion – Optional
  • 6 or so cloves of garlic – Optional
  • 3 carrots – Optional

I chopped and rinsed the cabbage.

Chopped the onions

Flattened the garlic cloves a little (just to break them)

Cut the carrots into sticks.

 

Massage the cabbage in 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Crush it a little as you work the salt in.  You can let it sit out after massaging it to see if you can get some water out of that.  I was too impatient.  I just packed it all in the jars and added extra salt water to cover up all the vegetables.  Don’t oversalt or it’ll taste too salty.  Leave it in a dark place covered with a paper towel or something and then let it ferment.  I thought it would take weeks but one week was enough for me to smell the sourness.  The top layer started to get moldy because it floated above the water.  I just scooped it out.  The stuff in the brine is perfectly fine and it tastes tangy and delicious.  Then after a week, when it smelled sour, and I took care of the moldy pieces, I put the lids on and refrigerated them.  They are very crunchy and delicious and bright pink!!

So next time you get yourself a head of cabbage and aren’t sure what to do with it, ferment it.  It’s easy to make and very easy to eat.  I just ate a bowl of it by itself just now.

Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast

My kitchen has been sort of a microbiology laboratory with random fermentation projects that I get in and out of. I haven’t made any kimchi or natto in a while, but am currently growing a SCOBY and making kombucha.

A crunchy granola coworker brought me a bottle of fermented tea drink called kombucha, that she made at home. It was fizzy, mildly sweet, and a little fragrant. Very delicious. Then she told me how she grew her own SCOBY at home and provided me with a couple of jars to serve as my mother. And now I have my very own baby SCOBY.

First Fermentation
Here’s what I did.
Brew black tea.
Add a bunch of sugar. (I didn’t measure, but it was more than I would add to my tea if I’m drinking it myself. This is food for the yeast)
Wait for it to cool.
Rinse a clean glass jar with white vinegar. Pour out the vinegar.
Add the black tea and mother kombucha in the rinsed out glass jar.
Cover it with a paper towel and rubber band it on.
Put it in a dark area (warm part of the house).

Mine are sitting in a cabinet above the fridge. And even after a few days I could already start to see little wisps of the yeast. After a week, I had a thin layer of SCOBY. And at week 2, I started my second ferment.

Second Fermentation
Pour some of the kombucha into a jar (I’m using an old kombucha jar from the store), add a little fruit juice (maybe a ratio of 5 to 1 or so). Leave a little room for it to expand (fizzy air from the yeast). Put the lid on tight. Stick it back in the dark warm shelf for 2 to 7 days. Refrigerate and then done!

I’m currently at the second fermentation stage. I just have 1 jar. If this works out, I’ll be sipping on some by this weekend.

Furikake

I’ve been making this Japanese rice seasoning for my lunch boxes for the past couple of weeks and now I can’t not have it! It’s super easy and very flavorful over rice. It’s salad dressing for your rice basically.

  • Nori. Many sheets of nori. The kind you get to make sushi. I usually do 12 sheets at a time, and a batch will get me through a week.
  • Lots of roasted/toasted sesame seeds. I’d say for 12 sheets, I probably used 1/2 to 3/4 cup of seeds?
  • Salt. I think I put in a teaspoon.

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Roast the nori over your stove. Electric or gas is okay. Just toast the nori on both sides.

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Cut the sheets into quarters or eighths or whatever, enough to get them into your food processor (a blender would work too I think). Add the sesame seeds and salt.

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Blitz.

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Pour them in a glass jar to store. I keep the jar in my freezer as well as my packages of nori.

Sprinkle it over rice. I like to add (apple cider or rice) vinegar to my rice too for more flavor. I look forward to lunch everyday so much now, I generally eat it by 10.