Posted by Noelle on April 30th, 2012
Categories: Entrees, Sandwiches
Tags: ,,,

I really lucked out at the local vegetable market. Not only did they have sweet corn, but they had tons of beautiful dark green poblano peppers. I didn't have plans for these beauties but I knew they were coming home with me. So on the drive home I obsessed over poblanos. That night I had weird poblano dreams, and by the next morning it all came together. Burgers. Not the usual variation of a black bean burger. No, something different. Pinto beans. Pinto beans would be the base for this burger. Why? If you have ever made them from dried beans you can appreciate how lovely these protein packed powerhouses truly are. They actually have this amazing and artsy pattern on their skins... they're pretty. I said it. I called a bean pretty. You don't get that dramatic beauty when you open a can of pinto beans, the art is all gone, but the convenience takes it's place. As much as I enjoy putting the love into a pot of dried beans... I work, I like my house to be somewhat clean, I like to spend time with my family, you know what I mean. Sometimes I have time, but most days I don't. So this one uses canned beans, but you can close your eyes and imagine them in all their pretty dried glory for a moment before you unleash all the days frustrations out while mashing them. So this is not only a burger, this is also a stress reliever. You're welcome 🙂 I pair this burger with a chipotle aioli, mostly because I love chipotles and well it sounds gourmet when you say aioli. But these are seriously good on their own or with whatever condiment you have on hand. Enjoy!


Pinto Burgers:

  • 15oz can of pinto beans, liquid reserved, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup poblano pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh corn, or thawed frozen corn
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 tsp reserved pinto bean liquid
  • 1/8 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cilantro, minced
  • canola oil for sauteing

Chipotle Aioli:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce, add less for a less spicy aioli
  • 3/4 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 4 burger buns or sandwich rolls of your choice
  • thinly sliced onion, optional
  • thinly sliced tomato, optional
  • thinly sliced avocado, optional
  • lettuce pieces, optional


For the the pinto burgers... in a large bowl, mash the beans with a large spoon or fork until about 70% are smashed. Next heat the the 2 TBS oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, poblanos, and corn. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender and starting to to turn golden. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, chili flakes, and oregano to the pan, heat another 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove this mixture from the pan and add to the bowl of smashed pinto beans. Add cornmeal, tomato paste, green onions, and cilantro. Use a large metal spoon to both stir and mash all the ingredients until they start to come together. Spray a large plate with cooking spray, next spray or oil your hands. Form into four equal sized burger patties and place on prepared plate. Add more oil or spray to your hands if the burger starts to stick to them.

Next make the chipotle aioli. Add all the aioli ingredients into a small bowl and gently fold the mixture until everything is combined. Be sure to do this gently as the Vegenaise will break down and get runny if you stir too intensely. Cover with wrap and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat a very thin layer of oil over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Spread the inside of each roll with the chipotle aioli, top with a burger and whatever veggies your heart desires. Enjoy while still warm. Makes 4 burgers.

Posted by Noelle on April 22nd, 2012
Categories: Breakfasts, Desserts
Tags: ,,,

As many of you know, I try not to eat much sugar. I admit that sometimes I miss those clueless younger days when I would eat a donut for breakfast, or coffee cake, or some crazy sugar filled monster muffin. *Sigh* Back then I couldn't even recognize the sugar rush for what it was, because I was constantly loaded up on the stuff. Now I know better. Now, I actually can't stand super sweet things, to the point that I will spit something out if it's too sweet (great visual, I know). Maybe it's because I am older and my body does not take the rush as well, maybe it's because most of the time I can't actually taste the food when it's loaded with sugar. Really, what's the point of eating a donut if all it tastes like is sugar? Maybe that is the point... I'd rather just eat the sugar. But, I am human. Thus my constant quest to create scrumptious breakfast and dessert items that look every bit as amazing as those headache inducing sweets of the past, but taste sophisticated, complex, and most importantly indulgent. This recipe is a composition of beautiful textures and a symphony of flavors wrapped in a pretty package. Food is my music and my art, meant to be savored and shared. This will make you and anyone you serve it to feel special. And shouldn't we all feel that way? Yes we should. Tell someone you love them, tell yourself for that matter. This recipe is actually really, really easy. The trick is day old bread. What is day old bread? I have seriously asked myself that question many times. It's stale. It's not moldy, just stale. You could do some serious damage with that french loaf if someone tried to rob your pantry, or you could teach your kids how to play ball with your baguette... you get the idea right? For this recipe I used 2 sub rolls that were packaged in a brown paper bag. The best breads for this are baguettes, sub rolls, or a french loaf. The kind of bread that you get in the grocer that comes in a breathable plastic or paper bag. The kind of bread that has a short list of ingredients (minus the 20 weird preservatives so it looks fresh long into next week), the ones made everyday in their bakery for quick sale. Just neglect it on the counter an extra day or two until it's hard. Ideally you have some leftover bread, like me. Use a good serrated knife and get your arm ready for a work out. A pep talk may be needed 🙂


  • 5 cups day old or stale bread, cut into 3/4" to 1" cubes
  • 2 cups coconut milk or other non-dairy milk, divided, I used SoDelicious unsweetened
  • 3 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 pinches turmeric
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp canola oil, optional
  • maple syrup for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 of the wells in a muffin tin with cooking spray. Put cubed bread in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1/3 cup of the milk until the cornstarch dissolves and there are no lumps. Then add remaining milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and turmeric whisking until everything is completely incorporated. Pour the milk mixture on top of the bread, add the chocolate chips and all but 1 tsp of coconut (this tsp will be sprinkled on the top before baking). Toss gently with a wooden spoon or spoonula until all the bread gets coated with milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice until most of the milk is absorbed by the bread.

Use a large spoon to scoop the bread and milk mixture up and distribute evenly among the 9 muffin wells. While scooping, please make sure to grab the chocolate chips which generally hang out at the bottom of the bread bowl. You want everyone to have equal amounts of chocolate so there is no fighting 🙂 I make sure the muffin cups are filled about 2/3 full with liquid and generally not more since these do expand a bit while baking. You may have some leftover liquid, that's fine, it just depends on how much moisture your bread absorbed. I drizzle 1/4 tsp of canola oil over the top of each, but this is optional if you are watching your fat intake. Sprinkle the top of these with the reserved tsp of coconut. In the remaining 3 wells of the muffin tin, carefully pour water into them and fill at least halfway full. This helps everything bake evenly in the oven. Bake these 35-40 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and crispy. Remove from oven and let sit on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Carefully use a spoon or small spatula to remove each pudding to plate. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy! This makes 9 mini puddings, and is perfect for 4 people.

Posted by Noelle on April 21st, 2012
Categories: Entrees, Sandwiches

One of my first ever vegan food experiences, before I was even a vegan, was a Reuben sandwich from Liquid Earth in Baltimore, MD. I took a bite and literally almost fell off my chair... It. was. that. good. It's one of the places that I hope will be serving up good vegan food anytime I want in the afterlife. Anyways, they made their "meat" with tofu, and man it was amazing... It inspired me to work over the years on my own tofu "meat" creations. That's right, it inspired me for years. Really, it was that good 🙂 Tofu is wonderful thing, if you get brave and experiment, it will most often surprise you with it's versatility and adaptability. This recipe is my take on a vegan Reuben. Let me apologize now for the lack of vegan cheese, I just don't like it. Even the ones that everyone seems to love, I just don't. So I go without. If you like it, please feel free to add it. Don't be scared by the long list of ingredients, they are mostly the foundation for the pickling spices. In fact, you could cheat and just buy pickling spices, but I didn't have any in the cupboards when I made this. Everything gets thrown in a slow cooker or crockpot, if you will, and cooks with little attention needed. Several hours later you will have meaty, spiced slices of tofu ready to be smothered in gourmet thousand island sauce and topped with a mountain of sauerkraut. Oh yes, I did say gourmet thousand island sauce. What makes it special? Dill pickles, and wait for it... capers. It's like they were meant to be together, you'll understand when you taste it. I like to control my sugar, so the standard sweetened pickle relish is not for me. This gets sweetened perfectly by agave. The capers are what really makes the sauce shine. I lucked out and found this beautiful loaf of organic marble rye for this Reuben photo shoot. Thank you universe! Hoping the universe will be just as kind to you too 🙂


Tofu "Corned Beef":

  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1 large beet or 2 medium, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 TBS Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon, no beef base
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 allspice seeds
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 14oz container of extra firm tofu, sliced vertically into 1/8" thick slices, and patted dry
  • canola oil for sauteing

Thousand Island Sauce:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 1/2 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp ketchup, I used the organic fruit sweetened kind
  • 2 tsp capers, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt to taste

Remaining Reuben Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of marbled rye, pumpernickel, or regular rye bread, toasted
  • 1 - 14.5 oz jar or can of sauerkraut


For the tofu "corned beef"... Combine all ingredients for the tofu "corned beef" except the tofu and oil in your slow cooker or crockpot, stirring to mix well. Set the temperature to high. Next preheat a thin layer of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Now it's time to cook the tofu, I do this in batches... add a single layer of tofu slices to the hot pan and cook until golden, usually a few minutes. Flip the tofu and cook the next side until golden and crispy, then remove to a plate covered with a couple paper towels. Cook the remaining tofu slices in as many batches as you need to until they are all golden and crispy. Place all the cooked tofu slices into the slow cooker pushing them down to be submerged in the liquid. Put the lid on and let it hang out for 4-6 hours. Check on it occasionally, and carefully stir or rearrange the tofu as needed to make sure everyone gets a chance to absorb the cooking liquids. Taste after a few hours and stop it whenever you are happy with the flavor. You can turn it down to low or warm if it seems to be cooking too quickly or if you're not quite ready to eat. It's ok to leave it in the slow cooker as long as there is still enough broth to keep the tofu moist.

When the tofu is close to being done, squeeze the diced pickles in paper towels until a good bit of the liquid goes out, then in a small bowl combine them with all the other thousand island sauce ingredients, folding gently until well combined. You want to be gentle with the Vegenaise as it tends to break down and get watery if stirred too much. Removing some of the juice from the pickles also helps it to stay thick. Taste and add salt if needed. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, heat the sauerkraut over medium heat until hot.

Now you are ready to assemble the Reuben sandwiches. Take 2 pieces of toast and spread sauce on both sides. Next grab several slices of tofu "corned beef" out of the slow cooker, patting them dry before placing them on top of the sauce on one of the pieces of toast. Add a big spoonful of sauerkraut, again making sure to let the juices run off first, onto the tofu slices, then top with the remaining piece of toast, sauce side down of course. Carefully cut in half with a sharp knife. Place on the nearest plate, repeat with remaining toasts, etc until you have 4 sandwiches. Now go find someplace to enjoy these quick, so your toast does not get soggy. This recipe makes 4 large NY deli style sandwiches 🙂