Fancy Filled Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. Do you love tomatoes? If so, this recipe is for you!

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It starts with fresh tomatoes, bursting with flavorful juices. These tomatoes are then filled to the brim with a hearty quinoa mixture and topped with an agave-sweetened balsamic dressing. What’s not to love?

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I get my tomatoes from a local greenhouse called TLC. They grow their produce hydroponically, which means plants are grown in mineral solution with water instead of in dirt. My mom and I go to TLC at least once a week, and a few weeks ago my mom found out they needed help harvesting tomatoes.

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So…. guess what?! I’m working in TLC’s hydroponic greenhouse harvesting tomatoes!! I work Monday and Thursday from 9-3 picking beefsteak, orange wellington, and cherry tomatoes. Four other girls and I pick 300+ pounds of tomatoes each time I’m there! Do any of you have a “summer” job?

I get a lot of tomatoes working at TLC, and I’ve mostly just been eating them plain. However, sometimes I’ve been getting fancy with my food and making dishes where tomato is the star ingredient, like in this dish.

Please HMU with tomato recipes though because I have so many tomatoes.

Look at all these ripe tomatoes at TLC. The red ones are beefsteaks and the orange ones are called orange wellingtons- they’re sweeter than most other tomatoes. 

Back to this dish. It’s super fancy, fresh, and yummo… so you should try it. Honestly, why not!? My favorite part of making this dish is scooping out the tomatoes and eating their entrails (guts? Insides? There’s no good word to use). I also like plating the dish. Serve it to someone you’re trying to impress, as it’s easy to make but it looks fancy-schmancy.

Go use ALL the fresh tomatoes and make this quinoa-filled tomato bowl. Then enjoy it.

xx Ellie

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Fancy Filled Tomatoes

Serves 6 (1 serving = 1 filled tomato)

Quinoa Filling (adapted from this recipe)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I like olive oil)
  • ½ a large onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of pepper
  • 1 and 3/4 cup veggie broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  1. Soak the quinoa for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and sauté it until it’s brown (about 4 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper to the pan with the onion and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add in the quinoa, and stir everything around.
  5. Add in the veggie broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Once the mixture is at a boil, cover it with a lid and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and you can’t see broth.
  7. Drain the chickpeas from the can.
  8. Add the chickpeas and parsley to the quinoa mixture. Your filling is complete!

White Balsamic Dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. Vigorously whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until they’re combined.

To assemble the dish:

  • 6 big tomatoes
  • quinoa filling (recipe above)
  • balsamic dressing (recipe above)
  1. Cut the tops of each tomato off (like in the pictures). With a spoon, scoop out the insides of the tomatoes and discard (by eating them right away or by saving them to put on salads).
  2. Spoon the quinoa filling into the tomato “bowls” and plate them.
  3. Drizzle some balsamic dressing onto the filled tomato bowls.
  4. Garnish your filled tomatoes with more dressing, tomato slices, more fresh parsley and pepper. ENJOY!

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Festive Fourth of July Cake

Hi friends! I meant to post this recipe a few days ago, but I’ve had computer troubles the last week and a half so I’ve been unable to post. Everything is hunky dory now though. 🙂

Especially because of this festive American flag-shaped Fourth of July cake. 

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This cake is the perfect “I LOVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” recipe. It’s shaped like a circle, like the shape of the earth as well as like a symbol for inclusiveness (everyone is in the circle + the circle never ends and neither does love). The inside looks like an American flag- it has the blue “stars” layer and the red and white “stripes” layers. It also takes advantage of American produce- fresh, local strawberries that I picked with my own two hands (I’ve got that industrial spirit!) and fresh blueberries. ALSO, it’s cake, and what American doesn’t like sweets!?

Anyway. This cake is pretty festive and fabulous if I do say so myself (a weird phrase). It came about because I wanted to make something special for fourth of July that also took advantage of all the strawberries my mom and I picked at our local strawberry patch.

Enter this cake.

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I found out how to make an American flag cake from Food 52 (here’s the link). The recipe, as well as others I looked up, were not vegan… so I decided to make up my very own vegan version of the fancy flag cake and frosting! I used fresh fruit as coloring instead of food coloring because I think food coloring is gross. What the heck is in it!??! I don’t want those creepy chemicals going into my body!

Strawberries make up the red layer and blueberries make up the blue layer. I used Food 52’s instructions to assemble the cake. Unlike Food 52, I’m including pictures in my recipe as I’m a visual learner so I find pictures extremely helpful.

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I won’t ramble on for too much longer, other than to say that 1) this cake took me a long time to make, but it was worth it for the delight of eating it as well as for the compliments I got on it, and 2) this cake is really good and you should definitely make it for your next patriotic celebration (Labor Day??). Don’t be intimidated by the size- you CAN do it.

I hope you love this cake. My family and I ate it for dessert of dinner on the Fourth and enjoyed it immensely- our favorite layer was the blueberry one. Please let me know if you try this recipe. Send me a picture via email (peanutbutterandle@gmail.com) or tag me in a picture on Instagram so I can see your wonderful creation!

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American Flag Cake

makes 1 HUGE 5-layer cake that serves around 24-32 people

(depending on how large your pieces are- it serves 32 if you cut the cake into 1/4 inch pieces)

*JUST SO YOU KNOW: This cake takes a while to make. Like 3 hours or more. You can always spread the baking and assembling out over the course of 2 days, like I did! The cake stays fresh as long as you wrap it up. I just thought I’d warn you!

For the STRAWBERRY cake

(makes 2 8-inch round layers)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 + ½ cups of flour (all-purpose is best)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (white)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I like almond)
  • 1 cup strawberry puree- process an overflowing 1 ½ cups of washed and stemmed berries in the food processor until it’s a liquid puree- it takes about a minute of processing.
  • Feel free to add some red food coloring here to amp up the red color of this cake.

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients EXCEPT the strawberry puree in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Make the strawberry puree, then measure it out and add it into the batter. Whisk it in until the batter is entirely pink!
  7. Oil the bottoms of 2 8-inch cake rounds. Pour batter into the pans until each pan is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  8. Bake the cakes for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Let cool.

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For the VANILLA cake 

(makes 2 8-inch round layers)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 + ½ cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vegetable/ canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups nondairy milk

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Oil the bottoms of 2 8-inch cake rounds. Pour batter into the pans until each pan is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  7. Bake the cakes for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  8. Let cool.

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For the BLUEBERRY Cake

(makes 1 8-inch round)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 + 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable/ canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white)
  • 1 + ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
  • ½ cup blueberry puree: process an overflowing 3/4 cup of washed and stemmed blueberries in the food processor until it’s a liquid puree- it takes about a minute of processing.
  • Feel free to add some blue food coloring here to amp up the blue color of this cake.

Instructions-

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Measure and whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure and whisk together the liquid ingredients EXCEPT the blueberry puree in a medium-sized bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Make the blueberry puree, then measure it out and add it into the batter. Whisk it in until the batter is entirely blue!
  7. Oil the bottom of a 8-inch cake round. Pour batter into the pan until it is 3/4 of the way full with batter. Use all the batter!
  8. Bake the cake for 35-38 minutes, 0r until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  9. Let cool.

IMG_1638Buttercream Frosting Recipe

  1. Measure out the vegan butter into a large bowl or a stand mixer (the best option).
  2. Beat the butter until it’s soft and spreadable (medium speed). Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer if you have one.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Stir on low speed until the sugar is incorporated.
  4. The frosting should be clumpy- add in the vanilla and nondairy milk to thin it!
  5. Beat the frosting until it’s a thin and spreadable consistency. Frost the cake(s) with it!

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TO ASSEMBLE THE FULL CAKE (WITH PICTURES):

  1. Cut the dome top off all of the cakes. PLEASE keep them- you’ll need them later! I used a bread knife to do this, and just cut off the uneven top “dome” layer of the cake so the cake would lie flat. Put the dome tops on another plate or something for now.
  2. Place one strawberry round on a big plate (preferably the plate you plan to serve the cake on). This is layer one.
  3. Spoon frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it around until the cake top is covered.
  4. Place one vanilla round on top of the frosted strawberry round. This is layer two.
  5. Frost the top of the vanilla round.
  6. Place the second strawberry round on top of the frosted vanilla round. This is layer three.
  7. Frost the top of the second strawberry round.
  8. Place the second vanilla round on top of the frosted second strawberry round. This is layer four.
  9. Frost the top of the second vanilla round.
  10. Place the flat blueberry round on a separate plate. Using a bowl or another sort of template (about 4 inches in diameter), cut out the center of the blueberry round. Set the center aside (or eat it) as you won’t need it anymore.
  11. On a separate plate, take the strawberry round top “dome” and cut out the center of it with the same template you used on the blueberry round. KEEP the CENTER of the round (what you cut out), and discard the outside ring (or eat it) since you won’t need it anymore. Cut the center round in half, so it is half the height of the blueberry flat round.
  12. Place the O-shaped blueberry round on top of the frosted vanilla fourth-layer round.
  13. Place the baby strawberry round inside the O-shaped blueberry round. Stick it on top of the frosting covering the vanilla fourth layer.
  14. Frost the top of the baby strawberry layer.
  15. On a separate plate, take the vanilla round top “dome” and cut out the center of it with the same template you used on the blueberry and strawberry rounds. KEEP the CENTER of the round (what you cut out), and discard the outside ring (or eat it) since you won’t need it anymore. Cut the center round in half, so it is half the height of the blueberry flat round.
  16. Place the baby vanilla layer on top of the baby strawberry layer inside of the big O-shaped blueberry layer.
  17. Frost the entire cake. Dump frosting on to the top of the cake and frost from there. It doesn’t have to look perfect- mine sure doesn’t!
  18. Top the frosted cake with washed blueberries and strawberries. You can be extra patriotic and put the blueberries and strawberries in the shape of the American flag on top of the cake (with the blueberries as the stars and the strawberries as stripes).
  19. SERVE AND ENJOY YOUR PATRIOTIC CAKE!

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Steps 2-16

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Steps 10-13

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Steps 17-19

I hope you had the best holiday weekend ever!!

I hung out with my friends and family, went to the beach, went swimming, read and relaxed, watched the fireworks, and had a nice dinner with my family. What did you do? And what did you eat?! 🙂

xx Ellie

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