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Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I was pretty set on having savory breakfast this morning.

But once I get some idea, I have a hard time not trying it right away.

I had these beautiful mint leaves in the fridge, and I thought it would be fun to make pancakes with this fresh mint.

And what would be better than chocolate chips to complement it?

So I decided to try this all-time favorite flavor combination, “mint chocolate chip” in pancakes.

No extract.

Just fresh mint.

I pureed it in soy milk in order to get extra mintiness and the smoother texture.

They turned out perfect!

So glad that I had just freshly made a new batch of vegan butter.

They kept the lovely green color.


The mint flavor is there refreshing, but not too overpowering.

Packed with chocolate chips!

This is like dessert for breakfast, and I loved it.

(Okay, not everyday, but it’s appropriate for Sunday!)

Recommended beverage: black coffee.

My husband had just made a fresh batch of home-brewed coffee as well.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes:
1 cup all purpose flour
2-3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flax meal
2 tablespoons water
1 cup milk
2/3-1 cup fresh mint leaves (add to milk, use hand blender, and puree)
1/4 cup oil
1/2-2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Cook on a greased pan or griddle, both sides, until cooked through and slightly brown.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

I was in the mood for something sweet this morning.

But at the same time I had this thought that I wanted something relatively healthy and not too heavy.

So this is how this meal was born.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal!

All the carrot cake flavors, but no heaviness or no over-sweetness.

This was a good hearty meal with a little fun twist.

First get all the “carrot cake” ingredients ready for the toppings.

Finely shredded carrots, pineapple, golden raisins, walnuts, date jam/syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

I was initially planning to sweeten my oatmeal with brown sugar, but I decided to use dates as a sweetner.

I simply pureed dates (I used five pitted dates in 1/2-1 cup water) to make syrup.

It turned out to be a little thicker than I initially anticipated, but it was perfectly okay.

I eat oatmeal a lot during the week as a quick breakfast at work.

Just oatmeal and hot water, salt, and cinnamon.

Well, weekend oatmeal should be a bit more fun.

And this was fun.

It was so tasty.

Hearty and fresh at the same time.

Loved the date syrup/jam, as its caramel-like rich sweetness goes well with the rest of the ingredients.

Don’t forget to sprinkle a little salt, which brings out all the flavors and brighten them up.

Curry Udon with Tempura

Curry Udon is one of the ultimate comfort foods in Japan in my opinion.

The Japanese curry soup is rich and so flavorful, and the udon is thick and chewy.

I can eat just that, but today I wanted my curry udon a bit special, and I made tempura.

I found these mini king mushrooms (if they are king’s babies, are they supposed to be called “princes”??? lol) at the local Asian grocery store, and they were made into tempura along with kabocha squash.

Love tempura.

I like almost any vegetables when they are made into tempura, but kabocha is definitely one of my favorites (eggplant tempura is another good one).

Doesn’t it look great?!

Vegan Bibimbap

Vegans and plant-eaters.

Who is tired of “subtraction” vegan dishes?

Well, I am.

You go to a restaurant.

Find a dish that says “vegan upon request” and ask about it.

Your server tells you it’s “no problem” to make the dish vegan.

They will just remove this, this, this, and that.

So you’ll end up with something really bland.

Once in a while, the server will go to the kitchen to talk to the chef, and he may offer “substitution.”

Avocado for cheese, or sautéed mushrooms for bacon.

Unfortunately, this happens rarely, and often times I have to initiate the process and make substitution suggestions.

And interestingly, I often get charged for the “extra,” like one vegan item I got in place of five nonvegan items.

The other day I had craving for bibimbap.

I found a restaurant whose website says they accommodate vegans.

When we asked them to make their tofu bibimbap vegan, our server said “no problem.”

He would just take the egg out.

I was not too happy about it, but what could I do at that point.

I was hungry, and when our food came, our bibimbap had this beautifully cooked egg on top.

We had to remind our server that we do not eat eggs, he apologized fiercely and took the dish back to the kitchen.

When he came back, our bibimbap had an empty spot in the middle.

It just looked sad.

That’s when I decided to tell myself, “no more subtraction.”

Each ingredient has a role in the resulting dish.

Egg is an important component of bibimbap, and I simply didn’t want my bibimbap “sans egg.”

It took me a while to come up with this idea, but I decided to try grated naga-imo.

Naga-imo is not a new food to this Japanese girl.

It has a very unique sticky texture, but the flavor is very mild.

I thought this will give the rich creamy component I was looking for.

In this bowl over the rice you’ll find tofu, portobello mushrooms, sesame carrots, sprouts, and zucchini.

It was served with grated naga-imo and gochujang on top.

Naga-imo has a very unique texture and if you’re not familiar with it or you are not a fan of sticky food in general, this may not be for you.

But to me this was DELICIOUS!

Loved the creamy naga-imo mixed together with everything else.

No more subtraction!! 🙂

Kabocha Thai Green Curry

The first time I tried Thai curry with Kabocha squash in it, I fell in love.

The sweet and soft squash was just perfect in the creamy spicy soup.

The restaurant that I know serves Kabocha Thai curry is a bit far from our house, and I’ve also learned that it may not be vegan; our waitress told us it was the first few times, and then another waitress said it wasn’t.

So I decided to make it myself.

I made a big pot.

Since we are having extremely cold weather in Minnesota right now, it’s not a bad idea to have a big pot of soup in the house.

Delicious, and very satisfying.

BCP-Inspired Birthday Cake

Our non-vegan neighbor/friend invited us for a homemade plant-based chili dinner, and I offered to bring a dessert.

She implied that we should celebrate her belated birthday, and I was happy to make a birthday cake for her.

When asked what type of cake she typically likes, she said she usually likes cupcakes that are made with vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.

I know she liked the vegan chocolate mousse I made with avocado, so this is what I came up with.

Boston Cream Pie Inspired Birthday Cake!

Vanilla sponge cake.

Custard cream.

And avocado chocolate frosting.

I made vegan custard for the first time, and I was surprised that you can make delicious custard cream without dairy milk or eggs.

Making Boston Cream Pie was not my initial intention, but when I looked at the final product, it definitely reminded me of that.

I decided not to call it “Boston Cream Pie” mainly because 1) mine has three layers and not two! and 2) mine has a little more decorative touch on top.

When it comes to cake-decoration, my motto is usually the simpler the better.

But this time I decided to put in a little more effort.

And I’m glad I did.

Absolutely loved how it turned out.

It’s a little girly but still elegant.

Unfortunately, our dinner got cancelled, so my friend never got to see or taste this cake.

The bright side is that my husband and I got to keep it to ourselves!

The flavor combination was great.

Many store-bought Boston cream pies tend to be too sweet for me.

But of course, when you make your own cake, you can control the sweetness, which is always a big plus.

I loved my BCP-inspired cake, and I will definitely make it again.

Vegan Custard Cream:
1.5 cups soy milk
1/3 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons vegan butter

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot, except for vanilla and butter.
2. Cook over medium heat until it achieves the preferred thickness. Constantly stir.
3. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and butter. Mix well. Cool. Refrigerate.

T-Rice Bowl

Instagram is an awesome thing.

I was away from the Japanese food scene for a long time, but now I feel like I’m catching up.

When I saw a picture of a dynamic tofu rice bowl, I knew that was something I wanted to create myself.

Apparently, this is a special dish served at a restaurant called “Otako-Honten” in Japan, and it has been very popular since stories about this dish were picked up by the media a few years ago.

They call this dish “To-Meshi,” in Japanese.

I’m assuming that the “TO” is a shortened “tofu” and “Meshi” means rice.

My tofu was slow-cooked for hours in slightly sweetened soy/seaweed/mushroom-based broth.

At the end of the process the tofu has absorbed all the delicious flavors.

A bowl of miso soup and a small dish of kimchi complete this awesome meal.

Simply delicious.

Blueberry Lavender Lemon Muffins

Muffin is one of the things that have so many variations.

There are sweet and soft cake-like ones, and then there are others that are dense and less-dessert-like.

Personally, I definitely prefer the latter.

If I want to eat muffin, I want a muffin, and not a cupcake.

(If I want a cupcake, I will have a cupcake!)

These muffins are made with all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour 50/50, so they create the density that I like.

I also like the rustic taste and the look.

Definitely not a dessert, but perfect for breakfast.

These muffins are so flavorful that they are tasty as they are, but I do love eating them with my homemade vegan butter.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Kabocha and Cauliflower

Kale is one of my favorite leaf vegetables.

The curly leaves, the dark green color, the texture that does not wilt easily, and of course, the taste.

My first vegan Caesar dressing turned out so tasty that I was so excited about this lunch.

I just bought a beautiful Kabocha.

It was simply roasted in the oven (without oil).

I also roasted cauliflower (with oil), and they were both delicious.

Roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook these veggies.

You really don’t need any sauce.

Just salt and pepper, and you can really enjoy the natural goodness.

This was the final result.

I absolutely loved it!

I made my vegan Caesar dressing by mostly following her recipe, although I never measure my ingredients.

Note for myself:

Vegan Caesar dressing: chickpeas, cooked garlic, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, sunflower butter (I didn’t have tahini, but this worked just fine), Dijon mustard, capers, maple syrup, sugar, salt, pepper

Morning Golden Spiced Milk

This is probably my ideal way to start my day.

It’s hot soy milk with Ama-zake and spices (turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom).

Ama-zake is a traditional Japanese sweet beverage.

It’s made from fermented rice.

Although it’s called “zake (sake)”, it doesn’t always contain alcohol.

There are two ways to make ama-zake, in one way you end up with alcohol and the other not.

I always make my ama-zake the way so that it doesn’t have alcohol.

Ama-zake is not difficult to make, but it’s a process because you need to let the cooked rice porridge and malted rice ferment for 8 to 10 hours at a certain temperature.

This is the ama-zake.

Ama-zake is considered a great source of nutrition that contributes to health.

So this spiced milk is an awesome drink packed with all the good stuff.

My family believes that my dad has the best skin because he drinks ama-zake every morning!