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by Claire

Tempeh-Lentil Sloppy Joes from the Slow Cooker

February 6, 2015 in Burgers-Sandwiches, Main Dishes, Recipes by Claire



Heya! I’ve missed you! Yep, you! I’ve missed blogging, I’ve missed reading blogs, and I’ve missed all my readers, even if there are probably only twelve of you at this point.

This past year was a year of ups and downs. In July, my grandmother passed away. She was ninety-nine, and while I’m grateful for all the years I had her in my life, I miss her so much. She was a huge role model in my life, especially when I was in elementary school. She was a school teacher for most of her life and a natural at it. She taught third grade and her special talent was teaching kids to read. I credit my lifelong love of reading to her. Growing up during the depressing, Grandmother naturally learned to be quite frugal, but she was always generous where it mattered. She might’ve torn paper towels in fourths and saved tiny tablespoons of leftovers, but she’d never deny a loved one something they needed. I’m pretty frugal, too, and I learned most of my money-saving skills from her.

Jim and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It was amazing. We traveled from Paris, to rural France, the Swiss alps, Munich, Venice, the Italian Riviera, and Rome. We are definitely going back. I especially loved Italy, and I want to visit Greece too. I have some family in the north of England I haven’t seen in decades, and Jim has been wanting to see where his ancestors came from in Scotland – apparently there is a family castle – so that gives us another reason to go back.

A feral cat that had been hanging around my yard last spring had kittens before we could trap her and have her fixed. We thought we were in the clear when we fixed her, but discovered kittens a month later – which she promptly hid from us and the neighborhood dogs. By the time we caught the kittens, they were extremely wary around humans. I trapped them and brought them inside to try to socialize them. We were lucky with one, but the other two were too aloof or aggressive. As of today, the mamma Hazel and two of her kittens, Basil and Java, are neutered, ear-tipped, have had a rabies shot, and live outside. We feed them and let them in the garage when it’s cold or raining. Kitten Bean is inside with our five-year-old boys, Nutmeg and Nilla. Pics to come.

Also, if I may whine for a moment, in April my camera shutter fatally seized up while I was working on a blog post, in June I sprained my foot, and in August, Jim’s job got suddenly stressful and extra-time consuming, which has had me stressed in sympathy. (Obviously it’s ten times worse for him.)

One last whine and then I’ll shut up – my blog has been getting slammed so hard with spam. I made it to the big leagues, I guess? It’s better now, but if you don’t see your comment after a short while or it’s there and disappears, email me (email’s on the contact page) and I’ll rescue it from the spam folder.

As you can imagine, I didn’t cook a lot of new recipes last year. Instead I relied on old favorites. Nearly all of the recipes that end up on my regular rotation are either quick and easy, or they freeze well so that I have a ready-made meal for another night. Some, like these sloppy joes, hit both points.

This recipe is a lifesaver when times are busy. Since it makes eight servings, you can put lots away in the freezer, and it reheats beautifully. With a stash of burger buns, you can thaw some sloppy joe filling out, make some baked sweet potato fries, and dinner is done. (Or serve it with tater tots from a bag – I won’t tell.) With this in the slow cooker on the first day or thawing on the kitchen counter later, you have more time to try to get scared kittens to come see you, or to plan trips of a lifetime, or talk to your family on the phone when they need you – all of which are more important than spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to note something I’ve learned about flavors from slow-cookers. As you can probably guess from the recipes here, I adore big, bold flavors. In the past, I never enjoyed Crockpot dishes as much as their quicker-cooking counterparts. I figured out that it’s because so much of the spice flavor dissipates during cooking. It makes your house smell wonderful, but dinner – not so much. As a result, I’ve taken to measuring out the spices when I’m prepping the dish, but keeping them aside in a spice jar or a small, covered bowl, and then adding them sometime during the last thirty minutes of cooking. At last, big flavor from a slow cooker!

Tempeh-Lentil Sloppy Joes from the Slow Cooker

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

I've also included stovetop cooking instructions, in case that works for you better.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for stovetop version)
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced (optional)
  • 1 poblano or green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I like Stubbs original flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder, such as ancho
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Combine onion, garlic, carrots, pepper, tempeh, lentils, tomatoes, BBQ sauce, mustard and water in a slow cooker. Combine chili powder, salt, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in a spice jar or small bowl and set aside.

Cook for 4 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the seasonings. If the mixture is too soupy to pile on buns, remove the lid and stir occasionally until thick. Cover and turn heat to low until ready to serve.

*Stovetop Instructions

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart or larger pot. Sauté onion, carrot, and pepper until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for a minute.

Add tempeh, lentils, tomatoes, mustard, BBQ sauce, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove lid and add chili powder, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne. If mixture is too soupy to serve on buns, remove lid and cook, stirring frequently, until thick.

by Claire

Blog Hiatus

September 19, 2014 in Uncategorized by Claire


The whole summer seems to have slipped by without me writing a single blog post. There hasn’t been one big reason, just a lot of little ones that added up. When I realized about mid-summer how long it had been, I started to feel guilty about it. Guilt, though, is a terrible inspiration. So, more time went by. And here we are.

It’s going to be a while longer, I’m afraid. Right now, I’m really wanting to cook some dishes created by other people without the pressure to perfect them and make them my own. For now, I just want to cook and learn. I’ll be back when I have something unique to offer.

See you in the kitchen!

by Claire

Israeli Couscous Fruit Salad with Basil

June 5, 2014 in Recipes, Salads, Sides by Claire


Every year in early summer the craving for a picnic hits. Unfortunately, in south Texas, that’s when the extreme heat, humidity, and mosquitoes show up, too.

This year, I got smart and got my act together in February. I found a cute picnic cooler and I was ready when the nice weather hit at the end of the month. Then when my birthday came around in April, I was able to throw together a picnic at the last second for the beach.

For a picnic last week, I put together a big grilled veggie sandwich on ciabatta and made some brownies.  To round out the meal, I wanted a pasta salad, but I also wanted to have some of the gorgeous summer fruit that’s just hitting the market. I didn’t know if a fruit and pasta salad was possible, but then I remembered that I had seen Israeli couscous salads with fruit in them a time or two. And tomatoes are fruit, right? So I thought they belonged in this salad too. With the basil, yogurt, and lemon, the whole thing was quite refreshing.

I promise you that this combination of ingredients is not weird at all once you have a taste. However, if you’re feeding kids or picky eaters, the yogurt dressing makes a great dip for plain fruit, and it would be easy to make some extra dressing and slice some extra fruit just in case.

Oleanders are in bloom.

Oleanders are in bloom.


So are magnolias.

So are magnolias.


And I'm drinking Pinot Grigio from my husband's shoe. All is right in the world.

And I’m drinking Pinot Grigio from my husband’s shoe. All is right in the world.

Israeli Couscous Fruit Salad with Basil

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 6.

  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 (6-ounce) carton plain coconut milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 2 peaches, peeled and diced
  • 10-12 strawberries, stemmed and diced
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, cut into thin slices

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until water is absorbed. Fluff couscous with a fork.

Stir together the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and agave nectar. Combine with the couscous, peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, and basil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


by Claire

Roasted Cauliflower-Millet Burgers

May 15, 2014 in Burgers-Sandwiches, Main Dishes, Recipes by Claire


My husband Jim is the best recipe taste tester. There are very few foods he doesn’t like and he’s willing to try just about anything I’ve cooked. But if I have a really odd culinary experiment in mind, I wait until he’s out of town. Usually the experiments don’t work out exactly as I want, but I always learn something, and the next time I try to create a similar recipe, it isn’t such a stretch.

Last February on a long weekend, I tried a handful of things. One was so bad I don’t even remember what it was (but I’m sure learned something!) and another experiment was tasty but it stuck to the pan. But I also made some tofu-cashew paneer that I was really happy with (more on that later). Finally, I made these cauliflower millet burgers, something I had wanted to make for ages. I was really happy with them and wondered why I had waited so long to try them. So when I told Jim on the phone what I had made for dinner, I was surprised when he said, “That sounds weird. I don’t know if I’d want to eat those.” Luckily, he was a good sport when I made more, and he soon changed his mind. Yay for being married to an adventuresome eater! I promise you these aren’t weird at all, just savory and delicious.

I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to add curry powder to these or not. So, I left it out and then stirred curry powder into mayonnaise along with some mustard for a spread. This way each diner gets to decide whether they want curry flavors or not; these are delicious either way.

Roasted Cauliflower-Millet Burgers

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 burgers

Serving Size: 1 burger

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, about 5 cups
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder (ancho or Kashmiri)
  • 3/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, whole, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Curry spread
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (I used spicy brown mustard)
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder

Preheat oven to 425 F. Oil a large baking pan. Toss cauliflower florets and onion slices in olive oil. In a small bowl, mix together the coriander, chili powder, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seed, salt, and red pepper flakes. Toss spices into the cauliflower and onion. Transfer to the baking pan. Wrap the garlic cloves in a small piece of aluminum foil and place in the corner of the pan. Roast for 15, remove the garlic, and stir the remaining vegetables. Roast the remaining vegetables for another 10-15 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and starting to brown.

Transfer the cauliflower and onion to a food processor. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the roasted garlic out of its peels into the processor. Pulse to finely chop the vegetables, but don't grind to a smooth paste. Transfer about 3/4 of the vegetables to a large bowl, leaving the remainder in the food processor. Add the cilantro the bowl.

Bring millet and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-18 minutes, until water is absorbed. Transfer about 3/4 of the millet into the large bowl with the vegetables and the remainder into the food processor. Add the tahini, turmeric, and 1 tablespoon water to the processor. Grind this mixture to a smooth paste. (This is what will hold your veggie burgers together.) Spoon this mixture into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Wipe off the baking pan and oil again. To form the burgers, pack the mixture tightly into a 1/2-cup measuring cup. Wet your hands and tip out the burger mixture. Flatten to the size of a burger bun, shaping the edge with your thumb. Transfer to the baking pan and repeat to form 6 burgers. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the burgers over and bake for another 10 minutes until golden.

Mix together the curry spread ingredients. Serve burgers on buns with the spread, lettuce, and tomato.

by Claire

Happy Birthday, Chez Cayenne!

May 14, 2014 in Uncategorized by Claire


It was five years ago today when I made my first blog post.  I had been waiting until my kitchen was remodeled and was excitedly snapping photos of my gumbo as the remodelers came up the walk to do the last few finishing details. It was just over ten years ago when I started sharing recipes online for the first time, originally on a couple of message boards. It may be clichéd to say so, but the day I posted that first recipe, on a now-defunct message board, really does seem like a lifetime ago.

There’s a tendency, for me anyway, to reach certain milestones, look back, and feel a little sad and nostalgic for the past and think of people and places I’ve lost. The weather today as I write this isn’t  helping. It’s gorgeous and unseasonably cool and reminding me of past times. But blogging has only brought life to me – I haven’t lost a single thing. I’ve met so many great people and learned so much over the last five years.

I can’t wait for the next five.

by Claire

Fluffy Mostly Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns and Hotdog Buns

May 6, 2014 in Bread, Recipes by Claire


I love baking my own bread, but there are a couple of bread recipes that I wasn’t completely happy with. One was burger buns, and the other was crispy French rolls – I’d really like some homemade rolls to make banh mi at home.  Once I took a look at the recipes I’ve been using, I realized why – they’re all versions of the same recipe. The recipe makes a decent, if a bit soft, pizza crust and good small loaves for soup. But, it’s not as soft as I’d like for burger and sandwich buns, and it doesn’t produce the crispy crust that’s characteristic of a good French roll.

In an effort to level up my bread making, I bought Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, read nearly every word, and started making the recipes. I was wowed by the pain à l’ancienne, impressed by the poor man’s brioche (a veganized version), and adored the Pullman loaf (again a veganized version). I made some lovely sandwich buns with it. I thought I was on my way.

Then I got completely sick of making white bread, especially after my blood sugar crashed two hours after eating French toast made with the Pullman loaf. I started yearning for the heartiness of the bread I made before, so I bought Whole Grain Breads by the same author. I made the whole wheat bread that was the cornerstone of the book, and while I loved the flavor, we both thought the texture was dry and heavy. Most of the bread I’ve been making the last few years has had about one third white flour and two thirds whole wheat. I decided to return to that ratio; however, it’s kind of a pain to calculate and measure for every recipe.

So here’s what I did: I bought a five pound bag of whole wheat flour and a two pound bag of white flour and mixed them together. Next, I opened both books and wrote down the whole wheat and the pullman bread recipes, with my vegan  alterations, side by side in a spiral notebook. And then I mashed them up, DJ Schmolli style. I liked the new recipe so much I doubled the recipe the next time and made three variations, a loaf, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns. And I’m making more this week, trying hoagie buns this time.

Peter Reinhart does everything he can to coax as much flavor from flour as he can and nearly always requires that you refrigerate at least part of the dough overnight to deepen the flavor. With his whole wheat bread, he makes two mixtures. I kept this method. To make it easier, I started weighing the flour. However, I’ve continued to use volume measurements for the rest of the ingredients, given their tiny quantity. Flour can vary in density quite a bit depending on how it’s handled, but salt, yeast, and water don’t much, meaning that volumes are reasonably accurate.

The next yeasty frontier for me is a roll for banh mi. Then I’d like to tackle multigrain bread – I’m looking forward to making one that has oats, quinoa, and millet in it.




Fluffy Mostly Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns and Hotdog Buns

Yield: Makes 24 burger buns or 32 hot dog buns or 2 1-pound loaves or a combination.

What I'm calling bread flour in this recipe is 2 parts King Arthur White Bread Flour and 5 parts King Arthur White Whole Wheat.

  • 1 lb/450 g/3-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons golden flax seed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3/4 cups almond milk
  • Biga
  • 1 lb/450 g/3-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk
  • To complete the loaf on the second day
  • All of the soaker
  • All of the biga
  • 1/4 lb./110 g/3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine or coconut oil, melted
On day one

Combine the ingredients for the soaker and biga in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate until the next day.

On day two

Remove the soaker and biga from the refrigerator for at least two hours before you plan to assemble the bread to warm up.

Flatten the soaker, then spread the biga on top. Cut into 10 to 12 pieces. Add the pieces to the bowl with a stand mixer with the remaining ingredients. Knead with dough hooks for 4 minutes. Allow the dough (and your mixer) to rest for 10 minutes. Then knead again until the dough comes together in a smooth ball, 3 to 4 minutes.

Drizzle a teaspoon or two of oil in a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and roll it around to coat it in the oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Tip the dough out onto a work surface and divide into the desired number of pieces: 2 for loaves, 24 for burger buns, or 32 for hotdog buns. (This go-around I made 1 loaf, 6 burger buns, and 8 hot dog buns.)

For loaves, oil one or two 8-1/4 by 4-1/2 loaf pans. Shape the dough and place in the pans.

For buns, oil one or two jelly-roll pans. To shape the burger buns, roll each piece into a smooth ball, then flatten into a 4-inch disk. Set each bun 1 inch apart on the pan. To shape the hot dog buns, roll each piece into a rope 6 inches long, then flatten each rope to be 2 inches wide. Set each bun 1 inch apart on the pan.

Set the buns and loaves aside to rise for 45 minutes or more.

Bake buns at 375 F for 15 minutes. Bake the loaves at 350 F for 35-45 minutes.

If you're baking buns and a loaf, bake the buns first and turn down the temperature to 350 before you take them out of the oven. Leave the oven open while you remove the buns and pick up the loaf and that will cool down the oven enough.

by Claire

Margarita Sangria

April 25, 2014 in Alcohol Drinks, Drinks, Recipes by Claire


Cinco de Mayo is coming up and is the perfect time for grilling and hanging out on the patio. I love Margaritas but I was looking for something a little lighter and more refreshing for hot days ahead, so I came up with this sangria. With flavors of orange, lime, and crisp white wine, it’s the best of both. Pop a shot of tequila in there and it really does taste like a Margarita.

I didn’t have time to test an alcohol-free version, but if I were to make one, I’d replace the wine with three cups of peach flavored herbal tea, replace the club soda with lemon-lime soda, omit the simple syrup and of course the tequila, but keep the limes and oranges the same.

Next weekend I’ll be making these again and testing a new grilled taco recipe: dry-spiced seitan, corn, and poblano pepper in soft corn tortillas. When I get it just right, you’ll see it here.

Margarita Sangria

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: about 6 drinks

Serving Size: 6 ounces

  • 4 limes
  • 2 naval oranges
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • 1-1/2 ounces silver tequila
  • Agave nectar or simple syrup to taste (I only used about 1 tablespoon simple syrup, but I like it dry)
  • 1-1/2 cups club soda

Thinly slice two limes and one orange and put in a pitcher. Squeeze the juice of the remaining limes and orange into the pitcher and add the wine, tequila, and agave nectar or simple syrup. If you have time, refrigerate this mixture for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Just before serving, stir in the club soda.


Note: I usually make small amounts of simple syrup by putting equal parts granulated sugar and water in a little jar and shaking it until the sugar dissolves. For larger amounts, see this recipe.

by Claire

Vegan Wholegrain Applesauce Waffles

April 15, 2014 in Breakfast, Recipes, Sweet Breakfast Dishes by Claire


Is there anyone who does not like waffles? Warm, crispy, and with all of those little squares to hold syrup, there is a waffle recipe to make everyone happy. They make pancakes seem boring by comparison. Waffles are more practical than pancakes, too, I think. You can make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later, and you can make breakfast sandwiches with them for a road trip. Try a waffle spread with a blend of nut butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup and topped with banana slices and another waffle. Wrap it up and hit the road. But don’t try it with pancakes.

To make waffles, you need a good waffle iron, of course. I’ve experimented with a couple and love one of them. If you’re in the market for one that makes four waffles at a time, I can recommend this Caphalon No-Peek waffle maker. It makes perfect, crispy, tender waffles every time.

I owned this one briefly too, but it was junk. I suggest you stay away from it – mine had a defective non-stick finish and the company wouldn’t take it back. Then the removable plates started falling out while I was serving waffles from it, making it dangerous. This is the only small appliance I’ve ever dumped in a trash can while it was still warm. (Then we ate pancakes!)

Once I sorted out the waffle makers, it was time to create the ultimate waffle recipe.  They needed to be whole-grain in addition to being vegan. I’ve been using a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour for pancakes and I wanted to keep that blend, but I tweaked the quantities somewhat to make them lighter. Finally, in my experimentation, I found that I liked waffles with applesauce in them best. I love the texture and slight sweetness it brings.

This my happiness-making recipe.

Don’t forget, you have two more days to enter the cookbook giveaway for Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan.

Vegan Wholegrain Applesauce Waffles

Yield: 8 square waffles

Serving Size: 2 or 3 waffles

  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (see note)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (2 (3.9-ounce) single serving containers)
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons neutral tasting oil (I use untoasted walnut oil or canola)

Combine the whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves or allspice, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the applesauce, almond milk, and oil and stir until just combined.

Cook according to waffle maker instructions. Or, cook on medium-high for 5 to 6 minutes. (These seem to take a minute or two longer to cook than waffles made with white flour.)


If you don't have oat flour handy, grind 3/4 cup rolled oats in a blender or food processor. They don't need to be perfectly fine, just mostly ground.


Don’t forget, you have two more days to enter the cookbook giveaway for Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan.

by Claire

Cookbook Giveaway – Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan

April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized by Claire


I am very pleased to be able to offer you a chance to win a copy of Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan by Wheeler del Torro.

This is a lushly photographed book with recipes from the places that inspired the author: France, Jamaica, the southern U.S., Senegal, and Ethiopia. In addition to the 28 recipes in the book, there is a beautiful description of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, as well as del Torro’s story of travel and discovery woven throughout.

I wanted to make something from this right away. I happened to have another chef’s recipe for Senegalese Peanut Soup in my freezer (because lol, my freezer), so I chose something else from the Senegalese menu to have with it. The black rice salad, with its mango, jalapeños, lime juice, and cilantro sounded right up my alley. Jim and I both thought the salad was amazing. I’m looking forward to making more from the cookbook. Some of the other recipes I’m especially looking forward to making are

  • Mushroom, Walnut and Rosemary Pâté (Paris)
  • Curry Dumplings (Jamaica)
  • Spicy Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Soup (The South)
  • Banana Fritters (Senegal)
  • Chickpea Wat (Ethiopia)

To enter the drawing for the cookbook, leave me a comment and tell me which of the recipes above appeals the most to you. For a second chance to win, like this post on Facebook using the link at the top of the page and make a second comment letting me know that you did. Comment by midnight, Thursday, April 17 U.S. Central time. I’ll do a random drawing the next day, announce the winner, and email you for your mailing address. (Sorry, this drawing is limited to U.S. residents only.)

UPDATE: 4/18/2014 Dave, comment 23, is the lucky winner. Congratulations, Dave!

really random


Black Rice Salad with Mango and Groundnuts

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Adapted from Fillets of Soul: AfroVegan by Wheeler del Torro

  • 2 cups black rice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced (I used 4 small Ataulfos)
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 jalapeños, minced (see note)

Cook the rice according to package directions. Or, bring the rice and 1-3/4 cups water to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk together the lime juice and vegetable oil and stir into the rice gently. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet to cool. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients, salt through jalapeños.


The original recipe called for leaving the seeds in, but the salad is pretty hot this way, so seed the jalapeños if you desire.


by Claire

Christmas in March: Vegan Peppermint Cheesecake Blondies

March 28, 2014 in Cookies-Brownies-Bars, Desserts, Recipes by Claire

peppermint blondies

I have thirty-four recipes in my queue waiting for me to take photos and post them. This is part of my attempt to get them out to you. Here is the first Christmas in… recipe, and here is the second.

This idea I had to post my Christmas recipes throughout the first part of the year is starting to feel ridiculous. It’s a hot, sticky spring day, I have the windows open, and Christmas could not be further from my mind. These blondies are so good, though, that they’re worth making anyway.

These came about because I wanted to make some cookies with peppermint, but I didn’t want chocolate, as our Christmas dinner dessert had chocolate in it. Looking at various peppermint cookie recipes, I noticed that a handful had cream cheese in them. Then I went looking for other cookie recipes with cream cheese and found dozens. I picked out a couple that looked good and modeled mine after them.

They were delicious, but they spread out too much, even though I had added extra flour and refrigerated the dough first. I thought the most likely reason why mine were so sticky and melty was the vegan versions of the ingredients. So, this time, I baked them in a pan and refrigerated the pan before I cut them. Success!

Christmas in March: Vegan Peppermint Cheesecake Blondies

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 48 (1-1/2 inch) squares

  • 1 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peppermint baking chips (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Add the cream cheese, margarine, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour by big spoonfuls. As soon as the last spoonful has been added, turn off the mixer and add the baking chips. Stir in the chips and the last of the flour by hand until just mixed.

Spread the dough in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and puffy on top.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for an hour or longer. Cut into pieces. (I cut mine into 48.)


If you can't find peppermint baking chips you can crush peppermint candies, either by pulsing them in a food processor, or by hand with a rolling pin. You'll need 5 ounces to make a cup.