Tag Archives: cooking

Abby’s 5 Essential Cookbooks

**This post is inspired by thekitchn.com‘s series of “5 Essential Cookbooks”.**

Living in small urban apartments with even tinier kitchens, my cookbook collection has to be kept pretty small. If a cookbook is going to enter the house, it has to be both inspiring and useful. I like books that have good advice on what to actually DO with food, rather than a collection of glossy pages with overstylized displays.

These are the ones I return to day after day, week after week for inspiration, instruction and delicious food.

Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook: The classic red and white plaid cover is a classic all its own. This was one of the first cookbooks I ever had. I think my parent’s gave me a copy when I got my first apartment. It has everything from how to hard boil an egg (the most used/dog-eared page) to fancier, classic dishes. It’s also a great reference for substitutions and conversion, which are always useful!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” books are the best reference tools out there. There’s a good reason why there’s one of them on pretty much everyone’s shelf. It’s an amazing reference tool and full of interesting twists on every type of veggie and legume imaginable. When I see a new fruit or veggie at the farmer’s market, this is my go to book for figuring out what to do with it.

Clean Food: Love this way this is organized by season, with fresh recipes and lots of inspiration. This is a new book for me, so I’m still exploring it, but so far everything I’ve made from it has been absolutely delicious!

Veganomicon: Pretty sure this is the pinnacle of vegan cooking right here and even though I’m not vegan, I’ve cooked pretty much everything out of this book at least twice. Every recipe is stellar and the substitution guide for making other recipes vegan friendly is indispensable.

Delicious/Pinterest: Not traditional cookbooks, but I use these two platforms for bookmarking, tagging and saving lots of recipes. Delicious has better search functionality, but Pinterest is making a strong showing with it’s great graphics.

What are your 5 essentials?


Vegan Adventures: Part III

This time around it was Mexican Dark Chocolate cupcakes.  They were created for a Mexican potluck dinner on Sunday night with inspiration from a cake seen on Serious Eats, a recipe in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and a cake in Vegetarian Times.

Using the base chocolate cupcake recipe in VCTOTW, I added cayenne pepper and cinnamon to the cake batter.  Cupcakes were topped with vanilla buttercream frosting, dusted with cinnamon, and a small piece of dark chocolate with chili peppers was placed on top.

These came together so quick and tasted great.  Perfect cupcake texture and the frosting was cinnamony-sweet.


Further Cooking Adventures – VEGAN

It’s no secret that I love to cook and experiment with food.  I love the challenge of looking for delicious, healthy recipes that are easy to make and are within my food budget.

This ongoing culinary quest has led me right smack into the middle of some pretty awesome vegan cooking.  Now don’t let the word “vegan” scare you off here.  I let it frighten me away from some great recipes in the past — but no longer!

What got me on this path was my intense love for ice cream was no longer jiving with my body. Poor stomach!  Dairy and I were just not getting along anymore.  So I started to look for the same comfort food I like and crave but with a dairy free version.

Luckily I have a copy of Veganomicon on hand.  If you are at all interested in cooking without animal products, are lactose intolerant or have other diet issues, get yourself a copy of this book.  The recipes are delicious, easy to prepare, and, for the most part, work with a majority of items already in a well-stocked pantry.

This past weekend I made the “Mac Daddy” – a dairy-free version of macaroni and cheese.  While it’s not an exact replica (how can it be) it was pretty damn tasty!  I added in some spinach to make sure I had something green and served it along side some steamed green beans with toasted almonds.  The best part came when I had my roommates taste it — and they had no idea it was dairy-free!  WIN!

I also made this Winter Vegetable Chili from Food & Wine.  To keep in the dairy-free theme, I made the cilantro sour cream from Veganomicon to use as a topping along side some blue corn tortilla chips. WIN AGAIN!  The parsnips add a delicious, earthy bite to the chili and the chipotle peppers are smooth and smoky.

I’ve got pictures of the chili, which I’ll add to the post later today (they’re still on my camera).

Have you been experimenting around with your eating habits since the New Year?   What kinds of recipes have you discovered that have wowed you?

Smoothie Adventures: Recipes!

The outpouring of interest and ideas in sharing smoothie recipes demanded a follow-up blog post to share some of the great ideas generated.

In no particular order, here are recipes, add-ins and websites to check out if you’re in the mood for a smoothie (dead of winter or not). 🙂

OK, they’re not really recipes, but more taste platforms.  Smoothie are made for experimenting.  Not sure where to start?  Start with a banana.  It’s an easy and comfortable taste that’s familiar.  Then, get wild!
Harvest Pumpkin (from Katie B.)
pumpkin puree (canned or frozen)
nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew…)
Skyr icelandic yogurt or milk of your choice

Dessert for Breakfast/Breakfast for Dessert (from Katie B.)
see above recipe, but add chocolate syrup

Kid-licious (from Denise)
nut butter
raw honey/agave
chocolate milk of your choice

PomBerry Blast (from Denise)
frozen blueberries
pomegranate juice
unsweetened milk of your choice

Coffee Love (from Tamre)
frozen bananas (or fresh)
splash of decaf coffee
chocolate syrup
dash of cinnamon

Green Goddess (from Sue)
almond milk
frozen fruit (peaches, mango and/or pineapple are great)
a few leaves of kale, swiss chard or spinach

The Green Monster (from Jen)
this one’s kid-approved, too!
frozen fruit
Silk soy yogurt

AB&J (me!)
(like a PB&J in a glass!)
frozen berries (I like the Berry Medley from Trader Joe’s)
almond butter
almond milk

Cherry-Almond Vanilla Yum
frozen cherries
almond milk
dash of vanilla

Tropical Midwinter
(pretty and delicious)
fresh or frozen tropical fruits (Trader Joe’s has another great mix for this)
carrot juice

Excellent Smoothie Add-ins
(boost the nutritional value of your smoothie!)

from Austin Lin:

  • freshly ground flax seeds
  • kashi’s “grape nuts”
  • raw cacao nibs
  • soy spirulina protein powder

Katie B and Denise both suggest amazing grass green superfood (something I’m going to try this week!)

Michelle G uses green tea (!!!) as a base for fruit or green smoothies on days when she’s not feeling the dairy.  Love the green tea idea!

A lot of people suggested using Skyr Icelandic yogurt, but if you’re off dairy or vegan there are plenty of soy alternatives and I’m loving the use of almond milk as a smoothie base.

Looking to try green smoothies, but not sure how to start?  Check out Veggie Venture!  They break it down into manageable steps and share some great recipes.

SmoothieWeb has a ton of recipes, though the site’s not very pretty.  (Aesthetic judgment.)

The Kitchn has a great low-sugar recipe perfect for those watching their sugar content.  The post comments also share other great ideas.

What do you think?  Smoothies forever?  Smoothies for the summer only?  Any other fabulous add-ins, recipes or thoughts you want to share?