Archive for August, 2008

Papas Refritas

Contrary to popular (American) opinion, frijoles refritos doesn’t translate as re-fried beans; it means over-fried beans, as in over-cooked.  I just wanted to let every know that I know that, since I’m now going to use the term incorrectly.  I’ve named these potatoes “papas refritas” because they are inspired by the delicious food at El Patio restaurant in Albuquerque (so they deserve a Spanish name) and “twice-fried taters” just doesn’t sound as good.  They are definitely not, however, over-cooked.  They do require a little more oil than I usually use, but man, they taste great!

I leave the skins on, and just wash the potatoes, but it’s a personal choice.  Feel free to peel them, if you prefer.


1 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 Tbs. Earth Balance “butter”

2 lbs. gold potatoes, cubed

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1.25 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/2-1 C water


Heat the oil, salt, pepper and potatoes in a skillet over medium.  Cook covered 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Increase heat to med-high.  Add 1/2 C water and cook uncovered for 6-8 minutes (until water is gone), stirring once.  Check to see if potatoes are semi-easily pierced with a fork, but not entirely cooked through; if they’re still quite firm, add an additional 1/2 C water and cook uncovered for another 6-8 minutes (until the water is gone). Reduce heat slightly to medium, adding “butter” and cook another 6-8 minutes, uncovered, stirring once halfway through.  Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.


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Here’s my first submission to the Iron Cupcake: Earth Challenge. The first ingredient challenge was using chili pepper in a cupcake. I love using chili pepper in all things, and chocolate is no exception! This recipe was adapted from VCTOTW, added chili powder, and I think it has to be my current favorite chocolate cake recipe right now – I’ve made it several times this month. I used the basic chocolate cupcake recipe with some minor changes and additions…so here, I offer my chili chocolate cupcake up to the ancient Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal, goddess of dancing and flowers and fertility, and most importantly was the mother of Quetzalcoatl – the Aztec god which was credited to having brought down from Paradise to us, on a beam of the Morning Star, the cocoa tree. Hopefully this offering will cover me in getting plenty of votes 😉 …and to vote for my cupcake, visit http://mkecupcakequeen.blogspot.com between Sunday August 31 at noon and Thursday Sept 4 at noon. Prizes that I’m competing for this month come from corporate sponsors including Cakespy, Jessie Steele aprons, Cupcake Courier, a new publication from Taste of Home, Fiesta Products, and the Hello, Cupcake! book.

Xochiquetzal Cupcakes:

1 C almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 C turbinado sugar
1/3 C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 C oat flour
1/3 C buckwheat flour
1/3 C cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 C chopped walnuts

For the spicy unbuttercream frosting:
1/2 C Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1.5 C confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 C hemp milk


1. Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk together the almond milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and extracts to the almond milk mixture and beat till foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, chili powder, and salt. Add (in two batches) to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are okay).
3. Pour into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick (or knife) comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.
4. Make the unbuttercream frosting: Beat vegan butter with the sugar and chili powder, and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and soy milk and beat until fluffy. Fill a pastry bag to pipe onto cupcakes or spread a layer using a knife.

Happy Baking! …And don’t forget to vote for the Innocent Primate Xochiquetzal Cupcakes!!!

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A Symphony of Food Porn in C Minor

Okay, so we are coming up on the 100th post of the Innocent Primate…and since I don’t have a recipe I’m quite ready to share, how about a little symphonic enticement of what’s to come! With a little help from Sebastian, of The Little Mermaid fame..


“There you see her. Sittin’ there across the way….”

“She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her.”

“And you don’t know why but you’re dying to try..you want to kiss the girl…”

“…whoa, whoa….sha la la la la la, my oh my…”

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Ok, so these are technically a fat-free recipe (if you don’t grease the pan that is)…but we all know I don’t let the fat content bother me too much when I cook or bake! I opted to put a touch of vegan butter in the pan simply for that ‘perfect pancake’ look that only a slight fry can give them… I usually add things like cinnamon and other sweet spices when I make pancakes, but for some reason over the weekend I had the urge for a lemon poppy seed pancake…weird. But they turned out super good..plus, I used Nikki’s donut glaze with some lemon zest (but extract would work just as well). So next time you want a slow-going Saturday morning, make a cup a tea and a batch of fat-free pancakes!


1.5 C buckwheat flour (or oat, or all-purpose)
2 TBSP agave nectar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 C hemp milk (or soy, almond, oat)
1 TBSP ground flaxseed
1 tsp hemp seed *optional
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract or zest
1-2 tsp poppy seed


1. In large bowl, mix flour, flaxseed, baking powder, and salt. Add nectar and hemp milk and stir just until flour is moistened. (For thicker pancakes, use only 1 cup milk.) Let the batter rest for 5 minutes while skillet heats, and then stir gently one more time before using.

2. Heat non-stick griddle or skillet (sprayed lightly with non-stick spray) over medium heat until drop of water sizzles. Pour batter (about 1/4 C each) onto hot griddle, making a few pancakes at a time. Cook until tops are bubbly and bubbles burst; edges will look dry. Flip the flapjacks and cook until undersides are golden. Place on warm platter; keep warm.
3. Repeat until all batter is used, brushing griddle lightly with salad oil, if necessary to prevent sticking. Serve pancakes with glaze or other topping as desired.

*Note: If you use the buckwheat, you’re getting gluten-free in addition to fat-free..but if you use oat or all-purpose, you’re getting that gluten..so if you need gluten-free, be sure to use the appropriate flour!

Happy Cooking!



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Chickpea Fritters

Who among us doesn’t love falafel? Well, just like the veg Jo has made me try over the years…when she first insisted I taste falafel I was put off by the green color – this was many years ago, before I ate things that were green, unless it was a lime or a melon margarita. But I digress…who doesn’t love falafel? Well, I certainly LOVE falafel…now! But sometimes you want something other than a fried ball of chickpea heaven..enter chickpea fritters. These were so good! And of course, I added in a hot pepper, so they were spicy to boot! Instead of making them into little balls, I made them into patties and made a sandwiches out of them! I served alongside some steamed green beans…had I but known about the beautiful creation Jo posted over the weekend, I have no doubt my green beans would’ve been smothered in almonds and cranberries! Makes about 8 or so patties!!

**Addendum: It seems to be the consensus to increase the amount of flour. So adjust accordingly. You want the patties to be soft, but you want enough stability that they don’t fall apart upon flipping. Also, if you’re using a non-stick (preferably non-teflon) skillet you can omit the oil of which they are sautéd in – or you can simply reduce it to about a tsp just to get that browned, crunchy appeal.


1 TBSP ground flaxseed in 2 TBSP warm water

1/2 large onion, finely diced *or 1 small-medium size

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 tiny, tiny hot pepper – 1/2 of the seeds removed, or all for ‘wimpy’ level spice

2 TBSP sesame seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 TBSP ground cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

1.5 C cooked chickpeas (or 1 can (15.5 oz) drained and rinsed)

2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice *about 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp coarse salt

5 TBSP flour (all-purpose, oat, or even buckwheat for gluten-free)

extra-virgin olive oil for saute – *and 1 TBSP for adding to the chickpea mixture


1. Combine flaxseed and warm water, stir and set aside. In a medium saute pan, heat 3 TBSP oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sesame and coriander seeds, cumin, and cayenne; cook stirring, until sesame seeds have begun to brown lightly and spices are very fragrant, about 2 minutes; set aside.

2. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, flax-water combo, salt, and 1 TBSP oil. Pulse several times to form a semi-smooth paste. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in onion mixture. Fold in flour until just combined.

3. Using your hands, form batter into 1.25-inch patties, each about 1/3-inch thick.

4. In the same saute pan, heat 1-2 TBSP oil over medium-low heat. Cook half the patties, without flattening, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

5. Season with salt. Repeat with remaining patties and tablespoon oil. Serve immediately.

I sandwiched mine between two slices of fresh ciabatta bread, topped with tomatoes and fresh cilantro. If I had some, I would’ve also included some roasted red bell pepper and fresh baby spinach. But feel free to top with your favorite toppings…

*Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days – Haven’t tested them in the freezer/thaw arena…but feel free to test it out and get back to me!

Happy Cooking!

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Cranberry Almond Green Beans

When making green beans, it is absolutely critical to use fresh beans! Frozen (and canned, ick!) are really gross, so if the fresh ones don’t look good that day, just put off the green bean dish until another day. Good green beans will be plump and firm, not wrinkly or flaccid. A light steam and salt can make an easy, tastey bean, but if you want something with a little more pizazz, try out these. They’re very yummy and will go with just about any potato, rice or other grain dish that you can come up with.


1/4 C slivered almonds

2 Tbs dried cranberries

2 handfuls fresh green beans, washed and ends snapped off

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Earth Balance “butter”

4 Tbs water


Heat the “butter” over low in a small pan. When the “butter” has melted, add the almonds and cranberries. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until almonds are lightly toasted. Add the green beans and salt. Increase heat to med-high. Throw in 2 Tbs water to create a steam for the beans. When that water has cooked off (about a minute), repeat with 2 more Tbs water. The beans should turn a very bright green color. Remove from heat and enjoy!


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I seem to be surviving quite nicely on sorbet and ice cream…and cookie dough. But I suppose a little veg never hurt anyone 😉 Cold, crisp veg rolled in a rice wrapper sounds very refreshing… Here’s a little appetizer, or it could even be served alongside some vegetable sushi, a peanut-based soup, or anything your little heart desires! So simple, so delicious, so good for you!! The red pepper dipping sauce is spicy and sweet, but not to spicy (a very mild spicy, I could barely tell). You could leave out the red bell pepper and just use spicy chilies for a spicier, thicker dipping sauce!


Summer Rolls:
12 eight-and-a-half inch rice paper wrappers
1 med head lettuce (I used red-leaf)
4 med carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 red bell, cut into matchsticks
1 bunch fresh mint *optional
1 bunch fresh cilantro

Red Pepper Dipping Sauce
2 fresh red chili peppers, stems removed
1/2 Red Bell pepper
1/2 C rice-wine vinegar or lime juice (or mixture of both)
1/4 C sugar or agave nectar


1. Make the Summer Rolls: Dip a rice paper into a bowl of warm water for 5 seconds, transfer to clean work surface (the wrapper will still feel hard, but will soften as it sits – if you leave it too long, the wrapper will fall apart on you, so seriously just dip it into the water).
2. Lay a piece of lettuce in the center of the rice paper, top with veg.
3. Roll, tucking in both ends as you go (like a small, delicate burrito). Place the roll on a plate. Cover with a damp paper towel. Continue with the rest. Do not refrigerate.

4. Make the dipping sauce: In a food processor, process until peppers are finely chopped. Add vinegar/juice and sugar. Transfer to serving bowl; set aside.

5. Cut in each roll in half on an angle and serve within 30 min with red pepper dipping sauce.

Happy Rolling!

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Want a boost the health of your skin? Want to boost your energy? Well, this juice (adapted from The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies) will do both with two simple ingredients! Blueberries and Peaches!! Two of my favorite fruits combined into one yummy juice – of course, you could always opt for a nectarine in place of the peach if you’re not a peach fan…and still get all the goods for your energy level and skin appeal. This juice also helps with immunity and it gets a 1-star for digestion (on a scale of 5-star for skin and immunity). It’s also chock full of nutrients: beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, C and E, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and sulphur. Whew…that was a mouthful! You could also play around with different berries, such as straw or rasp! Even a blackberry would be good blended in. If you want a thicker, smoothie appeal – toss in a banana (frozen or room temp)! The recipe makes one 8oz drink, so feel free to double!


1 peach or nectarine, pitted and chopped
1.5 (women-sized) handfuls of blueberries (or 1 man-sized)


Blend together in a blender…strain if blueberry skins bother you, or not, whatever.

Happy Juicing!

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Hold on to your socks…because this ice cream will knock them off! With all the talk of the mint-chocolate Coconut Bliss and Purely Decadent, I decided to create my own ice cream with mint from the garden!! Oh man, this one was so bright and refreshing, yet covered the recommended daily dose of chocolate. What? Am I the only one that has a recommended daily dose of chocolate? …didn’t think so 😉 This recipe makes about a pint… I used a vegan ‘dark chocolate with a hint of mint’ bar from Endangered Species Chocolate. Also remember, the longer you let the mint steep in the milk (either warm or even when it’s chilling), the more intense the mint flavor will be…and you won’t get a bright green ice cream like those from days of yore – it’ll be a subtle hue – so if that’s what you’re looking for, add green food coloring.


1/2-1 C fresh mint, preferably peppermint, leaves washed, dried and torn in half, stems discarded
1/2 C nectar
1 C hemp milk
1 C Coconut milk, chilled
1/3-1/2 C vegan chocolate chips or shaved/chopped chocolate bar


1. In a small saucepan, on low heat, warm the hemp milk, peppermint leaves, and nectar just until steaming (but not boiling), for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep approx. 20 minutes to 1 hour. Chill the covered mixture about 1 hour (or overnight).
2. Strain mixture; discard solids. Stir in chilled coconut milk.

3. Freeze in an ice cream makes according to manufacturer’s instructions. Just before the ice cream is done freezing, add chocolate chips/shavings until blended. How much you add is totally up to you – I added about 1/3 C for mine, but I also topped my serving with more shavings.

4. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze about 30 minutes. Ice cream can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer up to 1 week.

*Note: For gluten-free, make sure your chocolate is gluten-free!

Happy Freezing!

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Now, if you don’t know that song..look it up! Stat! Fats Domino playing in the background, a cup of morning tea, and a warm blueberry scone – it doesn’t get much better! If he wasn’t singing about some lovely lady, he might have surely been singing about these scones! At the Farmers Market this weekend, I procured the second BEST blueberries ever! Second only to a batch I bought from an Omish stand at the FM a few years back – they were that good, I remember them years later…mmmm… But I digress. I almost didn’t want to do anything with these blueberries but eat them by the handfuls. I was strong and persevered. I made these lovely blueberry scones!! So moist and delicious..hope you enjoy!


2 C oat flour
1 C pastry flour (*or just use all oat flour)
1/2 C brown sugar
2 TBSP baking powder
2 TBSP almond meal *optional
2 TBSP flaxseed *optional
1/4 tsp salt
1 C fresh blueberries, rinsed
1/4 C canola oil
3/4 to 1.25 C oat (or hemp) milk, chilled
1 TBSP lemon extract
turbinado for sprinkling


1. Mix dry ingredients, including berries, in a large bowl.
2. Add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined – resist the urge to overmix.
3. Dump out dough onto floured work surface and cut into triangles. Sprinkle tops with a bit of turbinado sugar.
4. Let dough rest while oven preheats to 400 F. Bake 12-15 min. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

*Note: With the addition of flaxseed, you get a dose of omegas – so it’s not essential to the recipe, but gives it an extra health-boost! The addition of almond meal gives a nice ‘buttery’ appeal about them..again, optional if you don’t have any on hand – not essential, but adds an extra dimension to the scone! For gluten-free, use buckwheat or other gluten-free flour. And for more info on the nutritional benefits of blueberries, check this out!

Happy Baking!

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