Recipe: Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Okay the people who are like “Mmm yes dahling balsamic reduction” as if it’s some kind of delicate culinary masterpiece are FULL OF IT because it was so easy to make. I felt v sophisticated, and you can, too. You can also, like me, dance around the kitchen to Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, wave around a spatula as a dancing accoutrement, and then hit yourself in the eye with a flying drop of balsamic vinaigrette reduction.*

This salad is perfect for summer in it’s ingredients, of course, but also in it’s simplicity. It’s crunchy, tart, sweet, addicting, and, perhaps most importantly, easy to make.

Ingredients

1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1 c strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 c grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1/3 c loosely packed basil leaves, chiffonade cut
1 1/2 t olive oil
Himalayan pink salt
 (or regular sea salt) to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 T toasted sesame seeds
1 T chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Bring vinegar to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for ten minutes, uncovered, until it thickens and reduces in volume by about half. Set aside.
  2. Add strawberries, tomatoes, avocado, and basil to a large, shallow bowl for serving.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on salad and gently toss until just coated.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and briefly toss again.
  5. Top with sesame seeds and pecans.
  6. Finally, drizzle all balsamic reduction over the salad.
  7. Serve immediately – best enjoyed fresh!

Serves two.

Look, not everything I make is awesome, so I’m gonna start giving you my honest opinion. Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad: 10/10

*Just kidding about that last bit, my eyes are fine. But if that did happen, I wouldn’t mind. I’d do it for Donna.

Adapted from Avocado Strawberry Caprese.


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Happy Birthday Bummed Out Baker! Recipe: Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Cream Icing (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Happy Birthday Bummed Out Baker!

One year ago, I scuttled into the library at my in-laws’ NYC apartment carrying a heavy cutting board loaded down with a food rainbow. I used the window’s natural light to photograph the korma I was making, and my husband and my mother in-law’s nurse looked at me suspiciously, wondering what the heck I was up to now.

I wasn’t quite sure, myself. I had an old, but decent DSLR camera, limited lighting knowledge, and an affinity for cooking and baking new things, so I decided to capture it and throw it up on my site for anyone interested. I made a deal with myself to post a new recipe every Monday for one year and here I am, 52 recipes later! I’m proud I stuck to a promise I made to myself.

Less than two months in I changed the website name from my full name to Bummed Out Baker (Why Am I the Bummed Out Baker?) in order to encapsulate the full breadth of, well, me. Although I was finally pursuing my passion for writing and had accepted a place in The New School‘s MFA Creative Writing Nonfiction cohort for fall, that didn’t take away the depression and anxiety I’ve suffered for years. Do you guys wanna guess what my thesis is about? ;)

This is not a bubbly, perfectly put together vegetarian food blog like the ones all over the internet. They’re beautiful, but that just isn’t me. Instead, I aim to present my truest self to you all and be unabashed about the mental issues I face.

Some days, I’m too wrecked to do much more than to get up, do my morning routine (bed-making, teeth-brushing, etc.), take my meds, and then crank out what’s needed for school. I work hard not to beat myself up for being unable to take on more extracurriculars or a more rigorous social schedule and always try to look for silver linings in mental illness. I will say that one thing my finite emotional gas tank and constant, sinister awareness of my own mortality (lol) have taught me is to be hyper-focused on what and who matters most. Mental illness silver lining, yay!

Mental illness manifests in a myriad of terrible, unconventional, surprising, and sometimes hilarious ways and I will continue to share what I experience here. Thank you to all those who’ve kept an open mind and have been along for the ride with me.

THIS SEASON ON REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BUMMED OUT BAKER:

  1. I will be more transparent about the issues I’m experiencing in real time.*
  2. “Don’t judge your life in comparison to someone else’s highlight reel” has become a social media platitude, and I will further that mentality.
  3. I, an average, sad person on the internet, will provide community and reinforcement to people dealing with or who are in close proximity to mental illness. You’re not alone.
  4. I will snuggle golden retrievers.

Alright, now CAKE!

Ingredients

1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 c teff flour
1/2 c rice flour
1/2 c potato starch
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 ripe bananas
1 c orange juice
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c + 2 T maple syrup
1/2 c coconut sugar
1 t vanila extract
vegan chocolate sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Refrigerate can of coconut milk overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease sides of cake pan with oil and place parchment paper on the bottom of the pan (or use cake pan w removable bottom).
  3. Combine teff flour, rice flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well.
  4. In a blender, add bananas, orange juice, olive oil, 1/4 c maple syrup, and coconut sugar and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into cake pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, testing the middle of the cake with a toothpick until it comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan before removing.
  9. When you’re ready to ice, place mixing bowl in the freezer for about ten minutes.
  10. Turn refrigerated can of coconut milk upside down and open. Pour liquid at the top into a jar for later use (i.e., smoothies). From bottom of can, spoon out coconut fat.
  11. In the cold mixing bowl, beat together coconut fat, remaining 2 T maple syrup, and vanilla on high for about four minutes.
  12. Frost top of cake with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

*I’ll start my candor now: this cake, although it looks delicious, tasted like a stale Luna bar with coconut guts smeared on top. The sprinkles were top notch, but you don’t have to make this cake to eat those. My advice: enjoy the photos, eat some sprinkles, but… don’t make this cake. Here’s a recipe for a truly fabulous cake.

If you’re a masochist: recipe adapted from Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and Vegan Whipped Cream.


Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

Recipe: No Chicken Noodle Soup

April fool meat eaters with this delicious no-chicken-noodle soup. No one’s actually gonna be fooled, but it tastes good enough that no one will care.

This recipe is great to throw together for someone with a cold, including yourself – prep is v easy and the soup comes together in about 20 minutes. Sluuuurp. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 T tamari
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 t dried thyme
4 c vegetable broth
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 zucchini, spiralized

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, chickpeas, and tamari for about four minutes, until onion starts to soften.
  2. Add carrots, celery, thyme, sea salt, black pepper, and vegetable broth.
  3. Bring soup to boil, then lower heat and cover pot with a lid. Let soup simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini noodles and stir about 1-2 minutes, until zucchini is wilted and tender.

Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the fridge.

Adapted from Vegetarian “Chicken” Noodle Soup.


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Recipe: Mango Salsa

Hello! Today I bring you a simple recipe. It is raw and vegan with a kick of spice balanced out by the sweetness of mango. Bonus: Rick the meateater loves this highly nutritious salsa. But first, there’s something I want to share.

Last semester I had a classmate who came to class one day not their typical, smiling self.

I asked them in private if everything was okay, and they responded, “Yeah, I’m just sad.”

“Oh! I understand that,” I said, familiar with the feeling. “I’m sorry,” I concluded, nodding with a soft smile. I turned my attention back to my own business and continued unpacking my belongings for class.

Later I realized how refreshed I was by their candor and admittance to simple sadness. I think so often we try to “fix” things for people or point out the silver-lining, but it’s so important to allow ourselves and each other to experience our full range of emotions without hindrance. Sadness is our minds exorcising something, and in that way I think it’s necessary to feel sad sometimes.

With that being said, I should be clear that sadness is not depression, but in the same vein as the situation described above, how cool would it be if we lived in a society where someone could ask a depressed person how they are and they could simply tell the truth without stigma, pity, or someone swan diving into their life to try to get them to “cheer up”?

Something to ponder…

Now, mango salsa:

Ingredients

2 ripe mangos, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/4 c packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large lime, juiced
1/2 t sea salt, more to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Eat with chips, in cucumber boats, in tacos, or on salads.

Will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Adapted from Fresh Mango Salsa.

Recipe: Sugar Cookies

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I had a weird week at school, but a good week in the kitchen. I brought these vegan sugar cookies to class on Halloween and topped them with star sprinkles because those are the spookiest sprinkles I have. The surprise ingredient in these sugar cookies is pumpkin – they’re on theme for this time of year!

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Ingredients

Cookies
1 c organic Earth Balance
1 c sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 t vanilla extract
3 1/2 c flour
1 T arrowroot powder
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
2-3 t non-dairy milk

Frosting
1/2 c organic Earth Balance
1/2 t vanilla extract
3 c powdered sugar
Splash non-dairy milk
Sprinkles (optional)

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Instructions

Cookies

  1. Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer.
  2. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin. Beat for one minute.
  3. Sift flour, arrowroot powder, sea salt, baking soda, and baking powder over butter mixture.
  4. Mix until until just combined, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Add non-dairy milk and mix until soft dough forms. If dough appears too wet, add flour 1 T at a time.
  6. Cover and freeze dough for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350° F and position rack in the center of oven.
  8. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop chilled dough into balls, about 1 T each. Arrange 2-3 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  9. Dip the bottom of a glass into sugar and gently mash balls down into discs to help them cook more evenly.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes, or slightly golden brown.
  11. Remove cookies from oven and let rest on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a plate to cool completely.

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Frosting

  1. Rinse mixing bowl clean and add butter. Beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add powdered sugar 1/2 c at a time and continue mixing until thick and creamy.
  4. Splash in a little non-dairy milk to thin. You want the frosting to hold shape once on the cookies, so only add a little milk. Add more powdered sugar if it gets too thin.
  5. Once completely cooled, frost cookies and top with sprinkles, if desired.
  6. Store covered leftovers at room temperature for 3-4 days.

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Yields ~36 cookies.

Adapted from 1-Bowl Vegan Sugar Cookies.


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