“New Recipe a Week”: Vegan Buddha Bowl

By Tuesday, February 28, 2017 0 , , Permalink

Vibrant Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl, credit Kirsten Akens 2017

Not every new recipe a week I try works out, but every now and again, one gets elevated to permanent Pepperplate status.

Tonight’s is one of those.

I’ve been a big fan of the vegetarian 101 Cookbooks website for many years. I also have two of Heidi Swanson’s cookbooks: Super Natural Cooking, and Super Natural Every Day. (I’m been wanting her third, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel, but haven’t grabbed it yet.) I think I’ve only made one or two recipes over a decade of following her that have completely bombed. (And when I say, completely bombed, I mean they weren’t winners for our taste buds. Not that the recipe was somehow bad.)

Just about a year ago, I did a Top 25 list of “new recipes a week” that were winners for our household. Lots of them were Heidi’s. (And I should mention, I still stand by that list, if you’re wanting a place to find some new cooking and baking inspiration.)

All this to say, tonight I made Heidi’s Vibrant Vegan Double Broccoli Buddha Bowl. And even though I *may* have added a little too much garlic (is that actually a thing?), it was quite tasty — and quite pretty, with all the greens popping to the forefront. I told my husband it was like a salad, but more interesting. For what it’s worth, I added all the toppings she recommends (minus the hot sauce for me — but my husband liked the hot-sauce addition). The only thing I would change for next time is I would toast the almonds longer. I think it would add a little extra both in flavor and crunch.

This Buddha Bowl was really easy and quick to put together — especially since I cooked up quinoa in my Instant Pot over the weekend — which was also super easy, thanks to my friend JL’s cookbook Vegan Pressure Cooking. Her book is helping me to focus more on pre-cooking grains and beans, and to freeze them so weeknight cooking goes a lot faster. Once I’ve got this trick solidly up my sleeve, I’m hoping to learn to make and freeze breakfast burritos — if you have any suggestions on this process, let me know in the comments below.

Do you have any vegetarian or vegan recipes you’ve been blown away by recently? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. I’m always on the hunt! And … happy cooking!

My “new recipe a week” Top 25

By Friday, February 5, 2016 1 , Permalink

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos, credit Kirsten Akens 2015

I honestly can’t remember when I started my “new recipe a week” project. It was an Instagram thing for me before I started recording them anywhere else, and that’s been going for a few years at least.

While I haven’t hit every single week, I realized when looking back over my Pepperplate recipe list, that I’ve hit way more than I thought I had. (Some weeks I’d miss, but some weeks I’d try two or three. I think it’s all balanced out in the end.)

Of the 100-plus new recipes I’ve given a shot over the past couple of years, 25 of them were yummy enough to stick around. Thanks to a couple of friends who’ve asked, I’m sharing that list with you today.

I’ve divided the dishes out by categories. Note: because I’m vegetarian, you won’t find any meat on this list. It’s also worth saying that lots of these dishes are also vegan, gluten-free, or easily prepared one of those ways.

I do have about a dozen cookbooks I still page through, and I love grabbing them from the library and skimming, but more and more, I head online to find recipes.

My favorite sites include:

  • 101 Cookbooks: Heidi Swanson’s site is easy to use, and, since she’s also a photographer and traveler, beautiful. I have never cooked anything that completely flopped from her recipes, and I have both of her cookbooks as well. (The few recipes that haven’t been winners for us have been due to taste.)
  • My New Roots: Sarah Britton earns the title of recipe queen, in that, of all of the new recipes I’ve tried, it’s her Big Comfy Sweet Potato dish that I’ve cooked over and over again, not only for my family, but for dinner parties. You’ll find the recipe link below.
  • Food52: Food52 can be hit or miss, mainly because it’s a community recipe site. That said, I’ve found that if you stick to recipes that have received tons of likes, or that are contest winners, you’re usually good to go. And they’ve got an awesome blog for foodies. Really great cooking resource.

OK, on to my top 25.

Main courses

Big Comfy Sweet Potatoes: The dish I mentioned above. OMG. SO yummy.

Wintery Mushroom, Kale and Quinoa Enchiladas: I’d never made my own enchilada sauce until this. And it was excellent.

Heidi Swanson’s Baked Oatmeal: Yum. Just yum. Great for breakfast, brunch, and morning potlucks.

Open Face Egg Salad Sandwich: I prefer chives to dill in this. Whatever you do, don’t overlook the garlic step. (This is actually a Heidi Swanson recipe from one of her cookbooks, reproduced on a blogger’s website.)

Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove: I placed this in main courses because I use them as a taco salad base. This recipe makes a TON, so use a big pan and be prepared for leftovers. Side benefit: it makes your house smell yummy.

Broccoli-Basil Mac and Cheese: Use delicata squash! So much easier!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos: More yum. (Pictured above.)

Asparagus and Brown Rice: Love this, but make sure you rinse the chickpeas really, really well.

Cheese-Crusted Eggs: Super easy.


Lime Peanut Coleslaw: Good side to the Big Comfy Sweet Potatoes, if you’re wanting something else or having a group.

Carrot-Dill-White Bean Salad: I could eat this all day.

Farro Kale Salad: Use non-sweetened dried cranberries if you can.

Garlicky Greens: Garlic makes everything better. I’ve made this with kale, spinach and chard. All good.

Cherry Tomato Cous Cous: Makes a ton, so good for lunch leftovers.

A Simple Tomato Soup: Such an easy homemade soup. I pour over brown rice, add a dab of coconut milk cream, and top with toasted slivered almonds.

Roasted Carrot Soup: The only bad thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t make much.


The Life Changing Loaf of Bread: OK, it hasn’t changed my life, but it’s rather good.

Olive Oil Granola: The best thing about this recipe is that you can alter to the nuts and seeds you prefer. Just keep the ratios in mind. Great over yogurt.

Maple Syrup Scones: I love these so much.

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies: I love these even more.

Other Sweets

Fudgesicles: Good anytime, probably best in summer.

Crisp Raw Apple Pie: This. Pie. Is. Brilliant. Vegan. GF. Raw. And seriously brilliant. I use pomegranate, and I don’t use the Wild Orange Oil.

Alicia Silverstone’s Crispy Brown Rice Squares: Kids love these! Adults love these! I love these!

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary: Perhaps an odd mix of flavors, but really tasty.

Salted Maple Honeycomb Candy: Mmmm. That’s all.

Questions? Let me know in the comments! And happy cooking!

For you, from me, with love – 2/12

By Thursday, February 12, 2015 0 , , , Permalink

Good news newsletter link

A blend of old and new offerings around and about that I’ve been dipping into this week, plus an announcement. Enjoy!

(Please note: Actions taken from hyperlinks on this blog may yield commissions for me.)

Oh, yes (the announcement!): I’ve got a Good News-letter! Each week I’ll send you an awesome original photo, something cool to read/watch/listen to, and a quote to ponder. May I visit your inbox? Sign up here.

Give: Seeking a creative (and free) way to love on your significant other for Valentine’s? Good Morning, Love is the co-brainchild of Winnie Kao (of the Your Turn Challenge).

Learn: Pee when you need too. (At least, that’s my takeaway from Jill’s much more eloquent post on self-compassion.)

Watch: A brand-spankin’ new Simon’s Cat, called “Butterflies.”

Listen: On Being’s Krista Tippett talks with poet Mary Oliver.

Eat: My #newrecipeaweek (that was so, so yummy): Grilled Aged Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Pistachio-Sage Pesto.

Sing-a-long: I met Isaac Hayden in Nashville last week. Stunning voice. Mad guitar skills. Find him and his debut album here. And give one of my favs a listen:

Read: The Summer of Letting Go, by Gae Polisner.

Insight: From Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, by Mark Nepo.

In very real ways, we’re drawn to what we need to learn. Often, it waits like a quiet blessing that we can easily ignore or just as easily open ourselves to, like that small wildflower. But for the soul to blossom, we must accept our deeper, humbler destiny. For the wildflower doesn’t become rich or famous for blossoming. It doesn’t live forever or become the greatest flower of all time. The wildflower’s reward for trusting what it senses but doesn’t yet know is to become what it was born to be — a flower whose inevitable place is realized in a small moment of Oneness, as it joins with elements that were here before it came alive and which will live on once it dies. This is the reward for every seed growing in the dark with no sense of what it will become. As a soul on Earth, this is all we can hope for, to feel the light and being of all time course through our veins while we blossom.