Saturday, August 31, 2013

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I can't believe I haven't posted in nearly a month! I guess that being home has taken up a lot of time. I was cooking though! I have a couple new recipes to share, and plan on adding even more very soon. First up, a new protein packed veggie burger that I created from scratch, on a whim.

I have some serious issues with lots of frozen veggie burgers that you can buy at the supermarket. They're often packed with additives, preservatives, and are very overly processed. Honestly, I don't think most of them taste that great either. When it comes to burgers, homemade is best. That's why I decided to make my own, healthy, baked patty.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers
By Caroline Mac

1 can low sodium black beans
2/3 c edamame, shelled and cooked
1/4 c corn kernels, cooked
1/2 c walnuts
1/2 c bread crumbs
4 T tomato paste
1/2 southwestern- style seasoning (I used Penzey's Arizona)
1/4 t garlic powder
1 T BBQ sauce, plus more for topping
Olive oil
Topping Suggestions: Guacamole, BBQ sauce, lettuce, ketchup, whole wheat hamburger buns

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree black beans in a food processor until mostly smooth, with a few chunks. Chop mushrooms in food processor until finely ground. Do the same with the edamame and walnuts

Step 2: Combine beans, edamame, and mushrooms in a large bowl and mixed with your hands until blended. Add corn, tomato paste and ground walnuts. Mix again until even blended. Add breadcrumbs, seasoning, and BBQ sauce, mixing again.

Step 4: Bake patties for 8-11 minutes, or until browned and slightly crispy. Flip patties, brush other side with olive oil, and bake for another 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve warm with toppings of choice.



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Whole Year???

Happy anniversary! Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog! Woohoo! In the first year this blog has gotten over 6,400 views, I've shared almost 90 posts, most of them recipes, and I have cooked more than I ever thought I would.

I must say, I'm proud that as the year has gone on I've created more and more of my own recipes, whereas at the beginning I was mostly trying out recipes already on the internet. I'm also glad I kept up with Caroline's Kitchen, as it motivated me to continue making exciting food during my first year away from home.

Another update: Starting this blog has opened up some very cool opportunities for me outside of the ballet world. For instance, I'm an intern/ bloggerina with Barre, an all natural, vegan energy bar company started by a company dancer at my ballet school. I also contribute to my home studio's blog, as well as writing contributing posts on as a part of the Barre team. I've shared links to most of the sites I contribute to already, but if you haven't seen them, here they are:

Another exciting bit of news- As of August 1st, I have officially gone vegan! What does this mean for the blog? You can expect lots more exciting recipes, just without cheese, milk, eggs, or any other animal products. Don't worry, I won't delete any of my past non-vegan creations, there just won't be any new ones. I'm also planning to do some posts on vegan nutrition and tips for if you're planning on making the change. It's not difficult as long as you're willing to invest a little time and effort into making sure you're well-informed and well-supplied.

Thanks again to all of my fellow foodies who have checked out this blog and to all of you who will read it in the future! I appreciate the good feedback I've gotten and don't plan on stopping any time soon.

Keep Cooking!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Lemon Basil Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Veggies and Tofu Croutons

I've been wanting to work with wheat berries for a while because of their unique texture, appearance, and yummy flavor. I was feeling particularly ambitious one afternoon and decided to create a dish utilizing these guys along with summer veggies and one of my favorite flavor combos, lemon and basil.

Apparently I had some spare time as well, since I decided to add yet another component to the recipe. About a month and a half earlier, I had lunch at Marty's Market and discovered a new way of serving tofu... Tofutons! Tofu croutons are essentially small pieces of tofu baked for a long time until they become crispy on the outside. They were great on salad and worked really well on the recipe I ended up creating.

If you have an afternoon of nothing to do, give this recipe a shot! Timing is important, as each item is either cooked in the oven or on the stove for different amounts of time. If you're planning on serving this warm, plan ahead. If you're going the cold route, which is equally tasty, you can cook in whatever order your heart desires. I'm not going to plan for you, but I will give instructions for each individual recipe.

NOTE: Everything prepared in the oven uses the same temperature- 400 degrees F. Preheat your oven to 400 at the start and don't change it until you're done!

Lemon Basil Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Veggies and Tofutons
By Caroline Mac

Wheat Berries

Some sources will tell you to soak dry wheat berries before cooking them, but I also read that they cook about the same whether soaked or not. Since I didn't have prep time the night before, I decided to do the no-soak version and hope for the best (they turned out just fine!)

1 c uncooked wheat berries
3 c water

Step 1: In a large pan, bring wheat berries and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30- 60 (or more) minutes. Start checking the wheat berries at 30 minutes, as cooking time varies. When done, they'll be chewy but not tough. My wheat berries took an absurdly long 75 minutes to cook... Maybe I should have soaked them...

Step 2: When wheat berries have cooked, drain them and set aside.

Roasted Eggplant

1 large eggplant
Olive oil
Italian seasoning

Step 1: Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the eggplant flesh in a diamond pattern (intersecting diagonal lines) without completely cutting through the skin.

Step 2: Brush a light layer of olive oil all over eggplant halves and sprinkle flesh side with italian seasoning. Place eggplant face-down on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 40 minutes at 400*, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Once eggplant is cool enough to handle, separate the flesh from the skin. I gently sliced between the two and then scooped it out with a spoon.

Roasted Squash

1 large yellow squash
Olive oil
Italian Seasoning

Step 1: Slice squash lengthwise and then into thin slices (they'll look like half circles)

Step 2: Place squash in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake at 400* for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic, intact
Olive oil
Aluminum foil

Step 1: Remove the outer layers of the head of garlic until you've reached the individual cloves. Slice off about 1/2 an inch from the top of head, or enough to expose the raw tips of the cloves.

Step 2: Coat garlic with a light layer of olive oil. Wrap in foil and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Using a small spoon, scoop roasted cloves from skin, leaving them as whole as possible.

Tofu Croutons

1-14 oz block firm tofu, rinsed and lightly pressed to remove excess liquid
Approx 1 T olive oil
Salt, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste

Step 1: Slice tofu in half to form two thinner rectangles. Slice those into 1/2 inch cubes. Spread cubes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Step 2: Bake tofu at 400* for around 50 minutes, or until outside is golden and crispy. You want this tofu to be a little crispier than your typical baked tofu, since you're trying to create a crouton-like consistency.

Lemon Basil Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon
1 c fresh basil
2 t olive oil
Lemon pepper, to taste

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth.

You're almost done! 

Once each component is complete, combine everything in a large bowl and stir until evenly mixed and coated with dressing. Top with tofu croutons and serve warm or cold.

Whew! It took a while, but is totally worth it.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cucumber Melon Salad with Basil and Lime Mint Dressing

On the menu tonight was a mustard-barbecue baked tofu and spiced quinoa. I think that with anything warm or spicy it's great to have a refreshing salad to balance the meal. My new creation did just that. We bought a delicious melon at the supermarket this week as well as two sweet Armenian cucumbers at the farmer's market. Paired with the mint and basil from my mom's garden, these ingredients made for a tasty dish. 

Cucumber Melon Salad with Basil and a Lime- Mint Dressing
By Caroline Mac



1 Melon, of the honeydew variety (mine was a Galla), halved with seeds removed

2 Large cucumbers (mine were Armenian), peeled and thinly sliced
(Note: If you're using regular cucumbers, you may want to cut them lengthwise to create smaller pieces)

1/2 c lightly packed fresh basil, shredded


Leftover melon/ juice (explanation below)
1/4 c fresh mint
3 T Extra virgin olive oil
2 T lemon juice
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

Step 1: Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop out as much melon as possible in small spheres into a large bowl. Into another bowl, scrape out any remaining melon and juice. Add sliced cucumber and basil to melon balls.

Step 2: In a food processor, puree all dressing ingredients until smooth. Pour over melon-cucumber mixture and gently stir until everything is thoroughly coated.

Step 3: Cover and let chill in fridge for about 30 minutes. You can serve immediately, but the flavors are better after marination.

Serve Cold.



Saturday, August 3, 2013

PDX Eats: Bamboo Sushi

Tonight I had the pleasure of dining at Bamboo Sushi, a newish restaurant on 23rd (opened in 2012) in Portland that serves sushi like no other I have had before. Bamboo Sushi is the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Being vegan, I didn't try any of their seafood, but if the dishes my parents and I had are any indication, it's probably amazing as well.

One of the first things that impressed me on the menu was the variety of vegetarian options. Going into a sushi restaurant I would typically expect to be offered a cucumber roll, avocado roll, tempura veggies, seaweed salad, and maybe a tofu dish. Bamboo, however, goes above and beyond. There was also an impressive list of mocktails. I eventually settled on the Lychee Punch. Since there were three of us dining, my parents and I each ordered a different appetizer. I picked the Sunomono Seaweed Salad, which was great. It had a few different types of sea vegetables and was dressed in a sesame oil-based dressing that was light and refreshing. My mom chose the Japanese spinach salad, which was presented in a very sculptural cylinder shape. I only tried a bite, but it was extremely flavorful. My dad chose an array of colorful pickled fruits and vegetables, each with their own unique flavors, though some were very salty.

For our main course, we chose to share three different vegetarian rolls. No, they were not avocado, cucumber, and tofu. These rolls were delectable combinations of veggies, sauces, seaweed and rice that we simply couldn't get enough of! The overall favorite at the table was the Green Machine roll with tempura asparagus and green onion topped with an avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli. The aioli was incredible and the crispy asparagus within the roll added a really nice texture, not to mention taste. We ended up ordering another plate of the Green Machine and the tempura was still warm when it got to our table... so good.

The other two rolls we chose were incredible as well, with the first being the PDX roll with "tempura shishito peppers, smoked pickled asparagus and yamagobo, rolled with soy paper, then topped with pickled shiitake, pickled red onion, tofu-avocado “aioli”,  and shiitake glaze." I wasn't about to type my own description for that one! The third roll we chose was the 310 with marinated fried tofu, roasted peppers, cucumbers, asparagus and yamagobo wrapped with avocado and sweet shiitake glaze. I'm sure if we were even more hungry we would have ordered another serving of these two, as each roll was completely unique in its flavor. The topping on the PDX roll was awesome and the sweetness of the 310's shitake glaze was lovely when combined with a little soy sauce and wasabi.

All in all, Bamboo Sushi was a hit and I would definitely go back when I get the chance. I would love to try some of the non-sushi vegetable dishes that were on the menu, as well as satisfy the sure-to-arise craving for another plate of Green Machine rolls.

Check out the restaurant for yourself at

Happy dining!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Piña Colada Smoothie

Though I've gone vegan since creating this smoothie, it's delicious and had to be shared with the world! No, it's not alcoholic, but the ingredients are reminiscent of the tropical cocktail. I originally used a Siggi nonfat vanilla yogurt, but after further thought, the ideal protein (despite the higher calorie and fat count) would be Siggi Coconut yogurt!

Piña Colada Smoothie
By Caroline Mac

1 Siggi yogurt (I recommend nonfat vanilla or 2% coconut)
1 banana, frozen
2 pineapple rings, frozen
1/4 c Protein Plus Unsweetened Almond Milk
Squirt of lime juice
handful of shredded coconut
1 t chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes in the freezer to allow chia seeds to thicken the smoothie. 



Southwestern Zucchini Pasta Salad with Tomato-Cilantro-Avocado Sauce

I created this recipe when I needed a reason to try a new local pasta brand, and eventually turned it into a vegan salad with raw zucchini noodles! I also added the avocado the second time around and loved the creaminess it gave the sauce. It's a light, spicy salad that satisfies and refreshes on a hot summer day. I've posted the zucchini version, but know that you can use a box of your favorite pasta if you're so inclined.

SW Pasta Salad with Tomato- Cilantro- Avocado Sauce

By Caroline Mac

Serves 3-5 

4 zucchini, sliced into thin strips (I used a vegetable peeler)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 c carrot, shredded
1 container (3 cups) Pomi diced tomatoes, split in half
1 c fresh cilantro, plus 1/4 c to be added later
1 15 oz can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 avocado, plus more for garnish
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic
1 t SW style seasoning
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
3 pinches salt
Cholula hot sauce, to taste

Step 1: Combine 1.5 c tomatoes, 1 cup cilantro, avocado, lime juice, garlic, and all seasoning in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Step 2: Combine Zucchini noodles, cucumber, carrot, 1.5 c tomatoes, 1/4 c cilantro and beans in  a large bowl. Stir gently until thoroughly mixed, careful not to break the zucchini noodles.

Step 3: Pour sauce evenly over the vegetables and stir gently until all ingredients are thoroughly coated.  Serve cold or at room temperature with a few slices of avocado for garnish.