Monthly Archives: March 2011

Ultimate Air Freshener

Today my kitchen was working over time with cookies, cupcakes, and more.

What? You don’t start your baking spree at 1 in the morning?

Especially since I’m getting my mojo back, when inspiration comes a knocking, I just have to be ready to open the door… err, oven door in this case.

I had a little extra dough left from when I made carrot cake cookies a few days ago, so I decided to finish the batch. The first cookies were gobbled up before I could take a picture, but I did manage to post the recipe. The recipe and updated photo are here.

The oven was already on so I figured, why not make cupcakes? Apparently energy efficeny makes me want to bake cupcakes (with reusable cupcake liners no less). Who knew?

Luckily inspiration was close by. Literally.  I could almost hear the ripe bananas calling my name from the refrigerator while my new jar of Artisana coconut butter (LOVE!) stared at me straight in the face from the kitchen table. Banana coconut cupcakes it was! (Note: I actually used full-fat coconut milk from the can. The coconut butter was simply inspiration. And besides, I think it’s too precious to be hidden in a cupcake recipe hehe.)

When I woke up in the morning, I quickly made myself a bowl of popped amaranth and got to work again.

I multitasked by making a batch of rich double dark chocolate cherry cookies and creamy banana coconut frosting for my cupcakes, all while munching on some veggies.

Baking tip: use an off-set spatula to frost with ease.

Now while all of this may seem like a lot of sweets (especially for a household consisting of 3 people, 1 of which doesn’t really eat sweets and gave up all sweeteners for Lent–> me), they were not all for my family. In fact only the carrot cake cookies stayed at home.

The rest were quickly packed up to go with my mom to her water arobics class. Every month she “graduates” the senior citizens and gives them a little treat. Since the ladies have been asking my mom when I would bake again, I was happy to surprise them for their little celebration.


I love love love baking for others! I enjoy the chance (and challenge!) to educate more people on veganism, but more than anything else, I love the joy that a homemade gift brings. It’s an added bonus that baking makes my house smell oh so lovely. I’ve always wished I could bottle the smell of freshly baked cookies or bread. There’s just nothing like it; baking is the ultimate air freshener!


However, bacon and eggs are not. Just ask me how I know.

One word: dinner. [But not for me, silly!] I arrived home refreshed from yoga to find that the lovely smell of coconut and chocolate had been obliterated by oven-baked bacon and a broiled fritta. And boy, had this new odor permeated the air!

Now I don’t have anything against meat-eaters (in fact most of the people I know and love are), but if you’ve ever walked into a diner, you know what odor I’m talking about. To top it all off, the bacon was the special applewood smoked kind. That means my house now smells like diner meets forest.

My not-so-bacon-and-eggs dinner: vegan enchiladas and veggies.


My first thought was to bake gingerbread. It worked before, so why not try it again? But first dinner was on my mind. There’s nothing like a little sauteed onion, garlic, bell pepper, and zucchini to wake up your senses.

To make it a meal, I used the veggies to prepare an easy version of vegan enchiladas. I originally meant to use black beans, but alas, I had neither the canned variety on hand nor the time to soak + boil my own. Pinto beans worked just as well, satisfying my enchilada craving and lessening the diner/forest odor all in one.

Quick + Easy Vegan Enchiladas for One

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (40 grams)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper (60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini (85 grams)
  • ~1/3 or 1/2 cup pinto beans (57 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp Herbamare, or salt&pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tortillas (I used Food For Life’s Sprouted Corn Tortillas)
  • ~1/4 cup salsa
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Saute onion over medium high heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, bell pepper, zucchini, beans, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and Herbamare. Cook until veggies are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Spread a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a small baking dish. Spoon some of the veggie + bean mixture into the tortilla(s) and roll them, making sure not to fill them so much that the filling falls out. Place the rolled tortillas opening side down in the baking dish. Top with leftover filling and salsa to cover the tortilla(s) completely.
  4. Bake enchiladas for 15-20 minutes in the oven.
  5. Remove delicately from pan with a spatula. Serve as is or with nutritional yeast, humnut sauce (hummus + nutritional yeast + water to thin), or vegan cheese.

My delicious dinner managed to lessen the odor a bit, but my work is definitely not done! I’m hoping that the roasted kabocha will help a little and you can bet that I’ll be at it again tomorrow with more baking to equalize the rest. Chocolate coconut cake, anyone?

Questions: What is your favorite and least favorite smell? When do you feel most inspired and motivated to get things done?


My favorite smell is vanilla bean (pure vanilla, not the alcohol in vanilla extract), though there will always be a special place in my heart for freshly baked bread. When most people are sleeping, I’m wide awake. I get my second wind at night!

Have a lovely day!



Getting My Mojo Back

You didn’t believe me when I told you Tuesday that I might just eat socca pizza for the rest of the week, did you?

Question: answered. I enjoyed my socca pizza so much that I knew I had to have it again.

However, I have a confession to make. Ever since my school work started being piled on way too thick (we’re talking the straw that broke the camel’s back here), I’ve been in a food rut. Feeling rushed for time and just craving a meal I knew would work out despite the craziness around me, I ended up rotating the same 2 or 3 meals countless times. Luckily, my college road trip refreshed my mind and inspired me to get my cooking mojo back.

So what does that mean exactly? In short, I plan to cook and bake to my hearts content for the few days I have left of spring break. I’ve been tossing recipe ideas around in my head, and I finally want to make them a reality. In fact, last night’s dinner was supposed to be an idea I’ve been working on, tomato and broccoli casserole with a chickpea crust. After my socca pizza on Monday, I was confident in the execution of socca and could almost taste the finished product already. Yum.

But as is usually the case, life got in the way. My mom and I had made plans to deliver a special cookie basket to my friend’s mom (the one who graciously took me with her on the road trip) after my mom finished teaching her water arobics class after work.

I delayed making dinner after yoga, thinking there would not be enough time before delivering the thank you gift and deciding it would be better just to wait until after. Well, my mom got caught up talking to the ladies in her class and arrived home later than expected. When we finally made it to the pool where my friend’s mom was life guarding, the pool was empty and we were able to talk for awhile.

Needless to say I arrived home without the patience needed to complete my planned casserole. Instead I decided to take the chickpea crust idea and turn it into socca made on the stove top. Although I still intended to use the tomato/broccoli casserole idea, I found myself making a delicious dish reminescant of my socca pizza. What can I say; I guess it was just so good that I couldn’t get it off my brain!

Seriously. If you haven’t tried socca yet, please do. I even posted the recipe I used here. It’s all the goodness of crispy bread on the outside with dense, hummus-like insides. Oh my.

While my meal wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly new, it did leave me completely satisfied and delighted. I had originally intended on getting my mojo back by having a new recipe challenge, but I think today taught me that the way I feel is more important. I would much rather make a delicious repeat meal and spread happiness with cookies on a stick than be confined to a plan. Hey, life happens, but it might as well be delicious.

Speaking of oldies-but-goodies and deliciousness, I still can’t seem to get enough of popped amaranth or veggies. Popped amaranth is a great way to incorporate a new whole grain into breakfast without feeling weighed down like can sometimes be the case with other cooked grains (like oats).

I especially love cocoa puffed amaranth (tutorial on popping amaranth and recipe here), but since I’m sweetener-free for Lent, the simple combination of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, cinnamon, and vanilla powder with fresh fruit and cocoa nibs does the job pretty darn well.


And while I enjoyed eating lots of raw salads while traveling, I’m so glad to have the steamed variety back in my life (and in Costco-sized portions).

I was mad-craving steamed broccoli during my whole trip so maybe that explains the fact that I can’t seem to get enough these days? Or maybe I just love broccoli an unnatural amount? On second though, don’t answer that.

After all the grilling I did for my first socca pizza, some might think it’s strange that only a few measly veggies survived. I, however, am surprised I was actually able to save some to enjoy as a snack.


And since no snack time could be complete with kabocha…

Kabocha + coconut butter = magic.


Oh, and a little night cap of chocolate banana soft serve for good measure.

+ With a side of cacoa nibs and funky lighting.

Questions: Have you ever felt like you lost your “mojo” in something you love? What’s your favorite way to get back on track? How do you show your thanks?


Have a lovely day!




Carrot Cake Cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies

Makes 1-1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1 flax or chia seed egg (1 TBS flax meal + 3 TBS hot water + ~3-5 minutes to gel)
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots (about 1 large carrot)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. With a hand mixer or in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the Earth Balance (or coconut oil), brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in flax seed egg and vanilla extract, beating for another minute.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the bowl. Once incorporated, mix in grated carrots, walnuts, raisins, and coconut. Mix until well combined.
  5. Using a small ice cream or spoon, scoop batter into ~2TBS balls and flatten on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-17, or until cookies start to turn golden and firm up.
  7. Remove cookies from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  8. Enjoy with a big glass of coconut milk. Yum!

Socca Pizza for One

Socca Pizza for One

  • 1/4 cup + 2TBS garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Pasta Sprinkle (or combination of dried basil, oregano, and rosemary)
  • ~ 1/4 tsp Herbamare or salt&pepper, to taste
  • 3 TBS pizza sauce
  • toppings of choice (I used grilled eggplant, zucchini, and orange bell pepper)
  • Daiya vegan mozarella cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Heat a 6.5 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. (I used a cast iron sprayed with cooking oil because it’s what I had on hand.) Also, preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Whisk together garbanzo bean flour, water, dried herbs, and Herbamare (or s&p) in a bowl.
  3. Pour socca batter in non-stick skillet. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the top is set.
  4. Flip socca and cook for about 2 more minutes, or until browned.
  5. Remove socca from pan and place on a mini pie pan or cookie sheet. Spread with pizza sauce and add desired toppings.
  6. Bake socca in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese has melted. (Alternatively, you could broil the pizza for ~2-3 minutes.)

Playing House

With my 17th birthday in less than a month (April 25 say what), I have yet to grow up. For the most part, I tend to be very independent and studiously serious (though that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have a good time or let down my hair). People are often surprised (especially when I practice yoga) that I am still in high school. In fact, while I was at the mall today, the saleswoman at Sur La Table even remarked that I could surly take the 18-and-up knife skills class because I definitely don’t look 16.


Breakfast of champions: popped amaranth, fresh berries, almond milk, and cocoa nibs.

However beyond looking older than my years, being able to (mostly) take care of myself, and hold my own in adult conversations, a little Amanda D. (how I was referred to in elementary school) will always live inside of me.


Even after all of the salads on my road tips, I still keep coming back for more. My discovery of salsa as salad dressing at Columbia rocked my world. I'm currently loving the prepared salsa from Whole Foods. Yum!

Case in point: yesterday my grandmother took the day off so that we could hang out together during my spring break. We ended up doing a little shopping (a rarity in our busy lives) at our favorite stores, baking cookies, and even going to yoga. Do you remember playing “house” when you were little?

Between buying pretty dishes and kitchen gadgets in addition to making dinner and dessert for my family, I felt like I was on the playground all over again. “House” was definitely my favorite game when I was younger. I always wanted to be the mom, older sister, or dog. I think it had something to do with the fact that I thought the mom and older sister had the most important jobs. Oh, and the dog thing was because I love animals. Moving on.

In my grown-up game of house, I traded imaginary dishes and food for pretty new bowls, a plate, mini pie pans, and spoons.


I don’t think the wooden houses on the playground had the luxuries of shiny non-stick mini loaf pans, mini pan pans, or an awesome spiralizer (which was on sale at Sur La Table–> SCORE!).

Speaking of which, despite my obsession with imaginary things while playing house, my parents started me out with a real computer (irrelevant, but true) and the real stove/oven. That’s right, I skipped the Easy Bake Oven stage and went straight to the GE. I won’t lie and say I didn’t want an Easy Bake, but I am glad my parents believed in starting me out young. It all started with cookies, just like the ones I made yesterday. Adding a new twist to an old favorite, I took the idea of sugar cookies and transformed it into carrot cake cookies.

And since any good “house” mother knows the importance of a good dinner, I also made my family homemade pizza. I used multigrain dough from Whole Foods, homemade marinara sauce, crumbled feta cheese (my family’s not vegan), chopped baby portobello mushrooms, sliced red onion, and sun-dried tomatoes.

I also made a special balsamic dressing for them to have on their spring mix side salads. Gotta love those greens!


Inspired by making pizza for my family, I decided to make a personal-sized gluten-free pizza of my own (*edited to add: the recipe is now posted here). I used herbed skillet socca as my crust, Trader Joe’s pizza sauce, grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, orange bell pepper), and a sprinkle of Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese.


I believe the first words out of my mouth were “This tastes like Heaven.” Ohmygoodness. I’m actually considering eating pizza all week long. That’s a lot coming from a girl who got burned out on pizza after eating it non-stop for the first 14 or so years of her life.


It should also be noted that the pizza was taken to the next level with the addition of vegan cheese. Actually, yesterday was my first time trying Daiya vegan cheese. I know, I know, I’m a little late. Better late then never, right?

I’ve been debating buying a package since I first saw it at Whole Foods. I’m so glad I finally took the plunge and enjoyed it as a little treat because it. is. SO. good. Mild but cheesey, creamy but not overly oily, and melty but still stringy like the real deal; what more could I want? Even my non-vegan grandmother loved trying some!


And to top it all off, I made sugar-free chocolate ice cream for dessert.

Banana soft servecocoa powder = perfect Lenten treat! I especially love the new addition of cocoa nibs as a topping. They add the perfect crunch!


Questions: Are you often mistaken for older or younger than you really are? What was your favorite game to play when you were younger?


Have a lovely day!


The Salad Lady

Hi there! It’s so good to talk [blog?] to you all again! My 11-colleges-in-one-week-lots-of-driving road trip is finally over, and although it was fun, I am definitely glad to be home again. I really enjoyed touring all the universities, but driving about 5 hours a day (that’s not counting all the time spent getting lost—I prefer not to think about that 😉 ) and taking furious notes did take a lot out of me. Every night when we arrived back to the hotel after more than 13 hours of go-go-go, I was definitely ready to take a warm shower and cozy into bed before starting all over again. Needless to say, my camera memory card got a wee bit full. Most of my meals consisted of Starbucks oatmeal or salads, so I think a montage might be the best way to show you my eats. Hopefully later this week I’ll also post a guide to making the most out of the salad bar and what nutrient dense snacks to always keep in your purse in case of limited options or a snack attack. Here we go!

Perfect Oatmeal @ Starbucks:



Whole Foods in Pittsburgh, PA (after visiting CarnegieMellon University)
LovedLovedLoved(!) My First Whole Foods Salad Bar Experience

Bryn Mawr near Philadelphia, PA
Columbia University in NYC
Yale University in New Haven, CT
Claire’s Corner Copia in New Haven, CT
…with Gluten-Free Bread. [After taking a bite something didn’t seem right, so I asked again if the bread was vegan. It wasn’t. No bread for Mandie = sad face..
Cornell University in Ithaca, NY



Sweet Potato at Outback Steakhouse in Pittsburgh, PA
+ Steamed Broccoli, Carrots, Yellow Squash, and Snow Peas
Vegan Tip: order steamed vegetables and sweet potato without butter sauce or oil to make the sides vegan. If you tell your server that you do not consume any animal products, they will be happy to help.
Steamed Broccoli, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas with Roasted Cipollini Onions, and Steamed Edamame with Green Tea Salt at Season 54 near Pittsburgh, PA
Edamame with Green Tea Salt (LOVE!)
Roasted Kabocha at Peacefood Cafe in NYC [eaten to-go as dessert
Microwaved Sweet Potato [~5 minutes–>thank you, hotel room!
+ Microwaved Steamed Vegetables



Apple Pie Larabar
With all the new flavors, I tend to forget the staples. The apple pie flavor really does taste like apple pie, though. Yum!
Apparently I’m a little late trying the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar. I liked it overall, but did think it could be a bit less sweet. Maybe giving up sweeteners for Lent just changed my tolerance (already low) for sweetness?


Jocalats are probably my favorite of the Larabars. What can I say; I love my chocolate! [Side note: the chocolate cherry flavor is being discontinued. I was a huge fan so I wish I could have stocked up but I can’t find them anywhere!


I liked the Chocolate Chip Brownie Larabar better than the Cookie Dough one. It was chocolatey with a bit of crunch. Love!


Other Eats:

Season 52’s Farmer’s Market Vegetable Soup was warm and full of veggies. My friend promptly ate the (probably not vegan) bread and pesto on the side. That’s what friends are for :).
A Side of Black Beans from Chili’s (which I confirmed are vegan)
Brown Rice and Vegetable Sushi from Ithaca Co-Op [I’m really inspired to make my own now!

Questions: What snacks do you bring along with you when you know you won’t be able to cook for yourself?  What is your favorite Larabar flavor?


Have a lovely day!


The Long and Winding Road

Helloooo from Philadephia, Pennsylvania! In just a few days, we’ve already seen 6 universities. Between looking at colleges, asking questions, and getting lost too many times to count, I’ve been quite busy! I have loads of photos I can’t wait to show you, but unfortunately, it will have to wait at least another day. I am already about to jump into bed so I can wake up early to drive to NYC. I’m visiting my dream university tomorrow. Wish me luck!