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Olive Leaf Pasta and Blueberry Pie

Olive Leaf Pasta IMG_0240

What is it about summer that makes it impossible to get things done?  The days are longer, but they go by lightening quick.  My to-do list continues to grow, yet every minute is packed with “busy-ness.”  Take this blog, for example.  Most of the year, I can manage to write a post at least once a week.  In the summer — this summer, at least — it’s more like once a month!  So here it is, four weeks after my last post about my birthday and I’m finally getting around to posting about two of my favorite birthday gifts this year.  No surprise, they both happen to be food!

Friends in Pennsylvania sent me a huge box filled with all kinds of Italian pasta — none of which I can find in my part of the universe.  One of the most intriguing to me was the pasta shaped like olive leaves, shown above with homemade tomato sauce and Gardein meatballs.  (Note: this was my first time trying the Gardein meatballs and it won’t be my last — they have a terrific flavor and great texture.  They bake up in the oven while you make the sauce and pasta.)  Below is a photo of the pasta label shown with 1 uncooked “olive leaf.”  I love the fun shapes and evocative names of Italian pasta.  I’m always intrigued by how the different shapes taste different, too, despite being made with the same ingredients.

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I also received a gift of several containers of fresh-picked local blueberries and black raspberries — making it a “berry”  happy birthday, indeed.  Here’s a picture of the blueberry pie I made with some of the berries.  I still have lots more berries waiting in the freezer!

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I love how summertime cooking revolves around fresh produce prepared in simple ways that let the vegetables themselves shine.  Lots of grilled vegetable skewers, roasted potatoes, beets, and corn on the cob.  Loads of delicious green beans.  And, of course, zucchini, zucchini, and more zucchini…

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Birthday Giveaway Winner + Cats!

Cat Group Final 1c

Many thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday.  You truly made my day!

Thanks also to everyone who entered my cookbook giveaway.  The winner is #26 — because that’s the date of my birthday!  Congratulations to Patty Roker!

Patty: please email me with your mailing address and I’ll send you a copy of More Quick-Fix Vegan.

In her comment, Patty asked what I was cooking for my birthday dinner.  The answer is: NOTHING!

I never cook on my birthday! Instead, Jon and I drove to my favorite Thai restaurant for an amazing lunch.  While we were in “civilization”, we did some shopping.  On the way back home, we stopped at another Thai restaurant to pick up some take-out for dinner later on, making my double-Thai birthday extra-special!

Of course, the best part of my birthday (and every day, for that matter) is spending time with my wonderful cat-kids: Gary, Mitzki, Petey, and Jason.

Thanks again everyone for all your support and good wishes! xo

 

 

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Birthday Cookbook Giveaway!

Robin BD SF Cake 011a

6/27/14 Update:  THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

In honor of my birthday today, I’m giving YOU a gift: the gift of 150 easy and delicious recipes in the form of my latest book, More Quick-Fix Vegan.  The giveaway is for today only — so enter now!  Just leave a comment at the end of this post to enter.  I will announce a winner right back here tomorrow.

 

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Happy Birthday to me — and good luck to you in the giveaway!

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Blueberry-Chocolate Trail Mix Bark

Chocolate Trail Mix Bark2

If you’re looking for a great gift for Dad this Father’s Day, how about a homemade treat?  This Blueberry-Chocolate Trail Mix Bark from my book, More Quick-Fix Vegan is super-easy to make and because it’s made with nuts, fruit, pretzels, and chocolate, it hits all the right snack buttons: a little sweet, a little salty, a little chewy, a little crunchy — this stuff has it all!  Plus, Dads love gifts that you make yourself — especially when they taste this good.  (Of course Father’s Day is only one reason to make this treat — there are 364 other reasons each year when it would also be a good idea!)

Blueberry-Chocolate Trail Mix Bark
Yield: about 30 pieces
A new spin on old-fashioned almond bark, this version is the stuff dreams are made of.  That is, if you dream about chocolate, nuts, pretzels, and blueberries! This recipe is from More Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. (photo by Zsu Dever)
Note: If dried blueberries are unavailable, or just for a variation, you can substituted dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or other dried fruit in equal measure.

12 ounces vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or a combination
1 1/2 cups thin salted pretzel sticks, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped dried blueberries

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with waxed paper.
Melt the  chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave.  Stir in the remaining ingredients, then transfer the mixture to the baking dish.  Spread the mixture evenly, smoothing out the top as much as possible. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Invert the bark onto a cutting board and peel off the waxed paper. Cut the bark into pieces.

 

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Memorable Memorial Day Weekend

skewers on the grill

Memorial weekend was especially memorable this year.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend time with lots of our favorite people and animal friends!  And, of course, we enjoyed lots of great food, too.  Because the weather was so great, there was lots of outdoor grilling going on.  Here is a little pictorial tour of some of the highlights, thanks to my friend Elissa, who always seems to have her camera ready to capture the moment.  (Thanks, Elissa!)  We finally got a new grill.  These spice-rubbed skewers featured Ray’s Seitan (the best seitan in the world!), fingerling potatoes, and lots of other great veggies.  The secret to getting everything to be done cooking at the same time is to partially pre-cook the harder vegetables, such as the potatoes.  I also like to partially cook the onions, since I don’t like raw-ish onion. 

The asparagus in the photo below was actually found growing wild nearby! (It was given to a friend who shared some with me.)

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For dessert, we had brownie sundaes made with Amy’s vegan ice cream.  If you don’t know the story of Amy’s ice cream (and it’s origins at Plant restaurant in Asheville NC) read all about it here.

brownie sundae

Another highlight was a visit to our friends who live nearby where she shared a great meal and visit on their lovely property.

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The food was outstanding and featured a wonderful freekeh pilaf.  Freekeh is a fabulous grain that cooks up in 15 minutes and tastes so good.

freekeh

And my favorite Nicoise salad:

nicoise salad

We also enjoyed this gorgeous fruit (the berries were so sweet!) and lots of other good food.

fruit salad

It was also super-fun to spend some quality time with these fantastic animal friends. 

horsey

violet

chicken

Aren’t they gorgeous?  If the rest of the summer is even a fraction as good as this past weekend, it’s going to be terrific!  Hope you all had a great weekend too!

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to everyone who entered my two-book giveaway to win a copy of my new book, MORE Quick-Fix Vegan (a new book in the “quick-fix” series) as well as a copy of Everyday Vegan Eats a terrific new book by Zsu Dever.  It was fun to see  what all of your favorite “everyday” meals are! 

EVE Cover Ideas 4

The winner of this giveaway, chosen at random, is Rika at Vegan Miam whose favorite go-to meals are “creamy kale salad….fried rice…[and] noodle soups!” Congratulations!!! Rika, please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get these books out to you.

I’ll leave with with a super-easy recipe from More Quick-Fix Vegan that would make a great dessert over this holiday weekend.  It’s the Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream. With only three ingredients, no dairy, no added sugar, and no ice cream maker, this ice cream treat seems almost too good to be true — but it is. 

Banana PB Ice Cream 1a 

Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream

This recipe is from More Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

3 to 4 very ripe bananas, peeled, cut into small chunks, and frozen
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons almond milk

Remove the frozen banana chunks from the freezer about 5 minutes before using and place them in a food processor.  Pulse to break up the bananas, then add the peanut butter and almond milk and process until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the food processor, as needed. 
Scrape the mixture into a container. If you like soft-serve ice cream, it could be eaten immediately.  If you prefer it a bit firmer, cover tightly and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how soft you like it.  For a firmer ice cream, keep in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours or longer. If it freezes longer than 4 hours, it will be quite hard, in which case it should be removed from the freezer for about 10 minutes before serving so it can temper and become slightly softened.

I hope you all have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

 

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