Tag Archives: Olive oil

Garbanzo Beans and Lemon Vinaigrette with Ground Flax Seeds

19 Jul

Garbanzo Beans and Lemon Vinaigrette with Ground Flax Seeds

I’ve been revising my salad dressings to be more nutritious and making the dressing stick to the salad ingredients instead of sinking to the bottom of the bowl after tossing the salad. The addition of the ground flax seeds thickens the dressing which helps to keep on the salad ingredients coated with the dressing.

As a relatively new vegan (almost 3 years) I’m always trying to include more plant protein in my food. Garbanzo beans and flax seeds both have more protein than other kinds of beans and seeds.

I prepared the salad dressing first and let it sit in the bowl while I prepared the following salad ingredients in a bowl. Following this order allows the flax seed to thicken the dressing.

Vegan Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette with Flax Seeds    ©2015 Afroditi Katsikiis

Vegan Salad ©2015 Afroditi Katsikis

Vegan Lemon Vinaigrette with Ground Flax seeds 

½     cup olive oil

3      Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1       Tbsp. red wine vinegar

3      garlic cloves, finely diced

1      tsp. dried oregano

¼    tsp. fresh ground pepper

1.5  Tbsp. ground flax seeds

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whip them up using a whisk. Let sit for 5 minutes before using it. Give it a few whisks just before putting on the salad. I used less than 1/8 cup dressing on this salad.


3  large leaves of romaine lettuce leaves torn into bite sized pieces, do NOT cut with a knife

1  large tomato cut into bite–sized pieces

3  thin slices of sweet onion, cut in half

1  cup of home cooked garbanzo beans

2  tablespoons of chopped parsley

Place all the ingredients in a bowl large enough to toss the salad with dressing. Two to three tablespoons was enough for me. The salad recipe makes enough for one person as a main dish but probably enough for two or three people as a side dish.

Half way through eating this salad I remembered half an avocado left in the fridge from yesterday. Too late to take another photo and if it’s not in the photo how can I put it in the salad recipe? These are other ingredients I wished I had available today: roasted sweet peppers, kalamata olives, sliced almonds, or possibly some fire roasted eggplant.  


 ©2015 afroditi katsikis


Cast Iron Skillet Vegan Muffin Cake

21 Jun
Vegan Applesauce Skillet Muffin-Cake

Vegan Applesauce Skillet Muffin-Cake ©2014 afroditi katsikis

Why bake muffins in a cast iron skillet?  When I get hungry for something baked, I figure out how to get around the obstacles that prevents me from baking! The obstacle: no working oven at my house and my barbecue is out of propane.

Several days ago, in my never-ending quest to not waste any food, I steamed some organic apples because they were no longer crisp and I was too lazy to make applesauce.  I also had some frozen bananas that had been ripening faster that I could eat;  I freeze them when they are full of brown spots.  I usually use them in pancakes, fruit smoothies or banana bread and needed to use them up before they became freeze-dried.

For the past several days I have been opening the fridge to see these steamed apples and wondering what was I thinking when I steamed these apples? I was craving something sweet and warm to eat – like a warm freshly baked nutritious applesauce muffin.

Just how was I going to do that on my electric stove top? I have made pan breads like pita bread, biscuits and pancakes in my fry pan. I like the idea of using less energy; cooking on top of a stove must be more efficient than using an oven.  During summer months, it’s too hot to bake inside but using a hooded propane barbecue outside will keep the added heat out of your house.

So I thought back to the early days of camping. If you’ve ever camped without a camp oven stove, then pancakes will be the closest you can get to a baked dessert. Experienced campers and hikers understand that you must make do with what you have and make what you have more than a one purpose item – who brings a muffin pan to make muffins once or twice on a camping trip? However, I can’t imagine going camping without a fry pan! So how was I going to make a coffee cake in a fry pan on top of stove? I put my campers thinking cap on!

As my craving for a muffin increased, I searched the web for and compared recipes for: cakes, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, griddle cakes, brownies, coffee cakes, fry bread and pancake recipes. Even though some of these recipes used a fry pan, they all used an oven to bake the finished product.  I wanted a recipe that was more like a coffee cake, brownie or muffin cooked on top of the stove, not in an oven.

Naturally, I started experimenting and looked closely at the vegan pancake, muffin and biscuit recipes. I wanted a thick batter, one that would not burn on the bottom and leave the top ‘half-baked’ so I focused more on muffin recipes and decided to make big muffin in a fry pan.

Lately I’ve been lightly steaming veggies so decided I was going to turn my cast-iron fry pan into a steamer for my muffin-cake. I placed a short steamer rack that my slow cooker came with into clean cast-iron 9″ skillet.  Skillet must have a snug fitting lid and should not be flat; a flat lid will not allow the muffin cake to rise and will drip moisture on the muffin cake while it’s cooking.

Slice of Vegan Applesauce Muffin-Cake ©2014 afroditi katsikis

After assembling all the ingredients and needed utensils , the first thing to do is put the skillet on the stove with the short steamer rack in the bottom and grease the 8″ Pyrex pie dish.  It’s always best to make sure the skillet is heated before placing the Pyrex dish in the skillet. Heating the skillet is akin to pre-heating your oven. Heat about 1.5 cups of water in a sauce pan and NOT your skillet. The amount of water varies if you are using a skillet that is larger than the one I used.

While the water is heating up, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Dry Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/4 cup flax-seed meal

1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put the skillet on the stove and set the burner to medium. Mix all the wet ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup cooked apples or applesauce

1/2 cup thawed frozen bananas, mashed

1/4 cup olive oil (and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil to grease the pie pan)

1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened

1/8 cup unsulphered molasses

~ optional ingredients ~
1/2 cup: raisins, or craisins (to add to the wet mixture)
1/4 cup granola as a topping before cooking
1/4 cup sliced almonds as a topping before cooking

By now the skillet should be adequately heated; turn it down to medium low heat (the settings you use for pancakes – level 2 or 3 depending on your stove). The skillet must be hot, after all, no one puts a cake into an oven that is not pre-heated.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated – Do NOT use a mixer; use a wooden spoon or spatula.

Place the batter into a greased Pyrex 8″ pie dish and add your selected topping(s).  Place it on the rack in the skillet with room to pour the water.  Pour the heated water into the skillet careful not to drip onto the batter.  Make sure not to put too much water in the skillet – it should be just slightly above the rack so when the water bubbles, it won’t bubble over into the batter. A lot of steam will rise and as soon as it subsides, center the Pyrex dish in the skillet using some long handled wooden spoons and put the lid on.

Cook/steam for about 30 minutes, until the Muffin Cake is browned; lightly tapping the center to see if it’s firm; if not, give it another 5 minutes. An inserted wooden toothpick in the center should come out clean.


Before you start making this recipe, determine how much water to pre-heat by assembling the fry pan, steamer rack and Pyrex pie dish.  Poor some water in the fry pan until it reaches just slightly above the bottom of the Pyrex dish. Pour the water into a measuring cup – so you know how much water to add to the skillet before cooking or just pre-heat the water as noted above.

If you don’t have applesauce, add 3/4 more coconut milk.

Blueberry Skillet Muffin-Cake

If you are going to use berries, put half of the batter into the Pyrex dish and spread it evenly. Add most of the berries evenly – I usually drop them one by one and slightly press them into the batter. Add the rest of the batter using spoonfuls and spread that evenly – do not leave a dome in the middle. Now add the rest of the berries over the top before you add another topping such as granola or sliced almonds.


The first time you make this, keep watch over it while it’s cooking – your stove may be hotter than mine. If you want to make this when camping, mix up all the dry ingredients and store it in a container. Regarding the molasses, pre-measure it and bring it along in a suitable container.



©2014 afroditi katsikis

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Pie Crust with Ground Flax Seeds

15 Jan

Pie Crust Rolled Out

I’m always trying to make a more nutritious pie crust since I love pies.  I’ve tried this same recipe on single crust apple pie and single crust mushroom pie and both times it worked beautifully!  I admit I haven’t tried it on a two crust pie yet so let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear about your results. Continue reading

Eggplant Salad

4 Dec
Eggplant Salad and Garbanzo bean salad, surrounded by tomatoe wedges and parsley garnish.

Eggplant Salad and Garbanzo Bean Salad, surrounded by tomato wedges and parsley garnish.

This is great lunchtime meal, especially in hot weather.  Sometimes I spread the eggplant salad on whole grain sandwich bread, add fresh from the garden sliced tomatoes, a thin slice of sweet onion and a leaf of romaine lettuce: vegan sandwich!  Other times, I make it explicitly to be used as a dip for raw veggies so I blend up all the ingredients.  Either way, it’s a big hit at potlucks and it goes very fast!


1 large eggplant

1/4 cup grated onion

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup parsley chopped fine

salt and pepper to your taste

2 or 3 leaves fresh basil, chopped fine

I’ve cooked the eggplant several different ways and all worked just fine.  The traditional method is to lightly oil the outside of the eggplant with a little extra virgin olive oil and place it on a roasting pan and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees or bake it in my barbecue .  I’ve also steamed it in my crock-pot by putting a small rack in the crock-pot with  enough water in the bottom just below the rack level.

Neither of these baking methods changed it at all.  However, if I steam it, I don’t peel it when I start putting it together with the other ingredients.  The cooking time varies depending on how big it is so you have to start checking it after about 20 minutes if it’s small. If you bake it, the skin gets tougher and peeling is best because the side it rests on while cooking gets very thick and dried out slightly.

If I’m serving it as a salad, I cut it up in small chunks and mash it with a potato masher.  Add all the other ingredients and stir it up.

If I want to use it exclusively as a dip or spread, I place all the ingredients in a blender [NOTE: if you are using the blender method,  the onion can be chopped coarsely instead of grated] on the chop setting for a minute or so then turn up the blender speed to the maximum setting for a couple of minutes.  Pour it into a bowl and start dipping your veggies.

Vegan Pinto Beans

30 Nov
Some Ingredients for Boletas

Some ingredients for pinto beans

While out shopping yesterday, I knew it was going to rain today so I made sure I had ingredients to make a small pot of pinto beans today.  I knew I had beans and garlic at home but didn’t have  a jalapeno pepper, cilantro or tortillas.

As a child I really didn’t care much for any beans but when I discovered Mexican food upon moving to Arizona, that all changed fast!  At first, I was weary of re-fried beans and when I tried them the first time, on the first night I spent in Tempe, I loved them!  I was also leery of hot chili peppers at that time but now, many of the commercially available hot sauces I can eat with a spoon – even the ones marked very hot!  So now I prefer using the hot chilies in my cooking as opposed to the chili sauces in a can or jar.

Keep in mind this is a small pot of beans so if you are making dinner for a large family, you might want to double or triple this recipe.  Please note that only one bay leaf is enough even for a large pot of beans!


1 cup dried pinto beans, washed

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small bay leaf

1 jalapeno pepper


FIRST:  Soak the beans overnight. I usually soak the beans in a large jar filled with water.  The photo above has the jar I used with 1 cup of beans in it.  I fill it with water and place the jar on it’s side – make sure the cap is tightly secured.  Don’t leave the jar standing up because as the beans swell up, they will will pack themselves in the bottom and won’t swell up to their full potential.  If the jar is on it’s side, there is plenty of room for expansion.  If you don’t have a jar, use a bowl to soak the beans.

After soaking these beans overnight, place them all in a large pot with two more cups of water.  Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the burner to just above simmer.  Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and check on them every half hour or so and stir them up to make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom and that there is enough liquid.  If you used a crock pot, you probably wouldn’t have to stir them up but a small quantity like this in a crock pot is not recommended (yes I tried it – the liquid burned off rapidly since crock pots are designed for a larger quantity).

Cooking time is about 4 hours.

So when they look like this photograph, remove and discard the bay leaf.  Remove the chili, smash it with a spatula and remove the skin and discard it; mince the green chili and seeds and return it to the cooking pot.

This is what the beans should look like when they are done.

Cooked Pintos – garlic, bay leaf and jalapeno pepper


1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

1 roma tomato, chopped (about 1/2 cup – a little more or less will be fine)

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Let this simmer for about 45 minutes.


1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and let it simmer for another 15 minutes before serving.

Vegan Pinto Beans

Vegan Pinto Beans

Sweet Potato Biscuits

22 Nov Homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet po...

Last week I was looking for a vegan recipe for sweet potato pie and even though I used  ‘vegan’ as a key search word, I keep getting recipes that had egg in them?  [Sweet potatoes were priced real cheap last week so I bought a few pounds thinking about making a vegan sweet potato pie.]  I asked my friends for one but so far no one turned up a vegan recipe for sweet potato pie so I started looking at muffins and biscuits and found this recipe:

Pumpkin Patch Biscuits Recipe http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Pumpkin-Patch-Biscuits

I tried the recipe by replacing the milk with coconut milk and used extra virgin olive oil instead of butter.  Turned out real good but they did burn on the bottom – either my barbecue oven is too hot or the recipe was not right.   Re-made this recipe again today with great success and with a lot of modifications!  I think my recipe is much healthier too.

This recipe makes 6 biscuits perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon – they could be served as dessert!  Keep in mind the less you handle this dough, the better they will turn out.  And the sooner you get this in the oven after the dry ingredients have been mixed with the wet ingredients, the better they will be.  Why?  This recipe uses baking soda; as soon as the baking soda gets wet, it starts working as a leavening.  The baking powder does not start its leavening power until it’s heated.  Using both makes the biscuits fluffier and light.  Be sure to do this recipe in the order as listed here for a light and yummy biscuit.  

Do this first: Turn your oven on to 375 degrees

* Prepare a cutting board:
1/8 cup            unbleached bread flour

* Spread the flour over a cutting board or pastry sheet and set aside

* Prepare the baking sheet:

½ teaspoon     olive oil to spread on the baking sheet (use a brush)

3 tablespoons cornmeal – Sprinkle the cornmeal on the baking sheet and set aside.

Brush both sides of a long non-serrated knife with olive oil and set aside.  

Mix these wet ingredients in a bowl and set aside:

¾ cup              steamed sweet potato, peeled and smashed up (using leftovers is fine)

¼ cup              molasses

1/3 cup            coconut milk  

Mix these dry ingredients together in a bowl:

1 & 1/3 cup     flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon     sea salt

2 tablespoons protein powder

1 tablespoon   nutritional yeast

¼ cup              oatmeal (uncooked)

1/8 teaspoon   ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon   ground nutmeg

1/16 teaspoon ground mace

1/16 teaspoon ground allspice

optional: a pinch or two of ground cloves and or cardamom  

ADD to the Dry Ingredients:

¼ cup              olive oil by slowly drizzling the oil over the bowl of dry ingredients and mixing with a pastry wire mixer or pastry knife until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients by placing scoops of the wet ingredients gently in the flour and turn mixture over with a large mixing spoon.  Do NOT whip them or stir vigorously.  Stop mixing when all the ingredients are incorporated and become one mass – should look like sticky drop cookie batter.

Place the entire mass of dough onto the floured cutting board and shape gently with a large spoon to form a rectangle you can cut into six pieces.  The dough should not be less than ¾ inch thick.  Use the oiled non-serrated knife to cut the biscuits into squares to make only 6 biscuits.  Wiggle the knife in place for a moment or two to help separate the biscuits from each other.  Gently lift each biscuit onto the baking sheet that is covered with cornmeal and place into the pre-heated oven.  Depending on how thick or thin they are, they should be done in 18-20 minutes – start checking them at about 15 minutes.


Homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits

Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuits made from scratch!

Tahini Sauce

21 Nov

Tahini Sauce

Tahini Paste is made from sesame seeds which are ground up.  This Tahini Sauce recipe can be thinned down with water and drizzled over your favorite steamed vegetable – my favorite is to drizzle it on asparagus and broccoli.  Or use it as a dressing for fava beans or garbanzo beans with some chopped parsely.

Magnified image of white sesame seeds

Magnified image of white sesame seeds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 cup (240 ml) tahini paste sesame seed paste
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup to 1 cup water**
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced or extruded through a garlic press
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt**
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pepper to taste – (fine ground best)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk for a couple of minutes. Use it as salad dressing, dip for raw vegetables, spread for sandwich or the dressing for garbanzo or fava bean salad.

Garbanzo Bean Soup

26 Oct
Organic Garbanzo Beans

Organic Garbanzo Beans (Photo credit: artizone)

Garbanzo Bean Soup from scratch.

Since I live alone, I’ve been experimenting with making smaller recipes for the single people who like to cook but don’t want quarts and quarts of leftovers.  This  a very simple soup made from dried garbanzo beans, my favorite beans.  If you try the recipe and decide you want to serve it to a large crowd, just double or triple the recipe.  The recipe does not call for any salt during cooking so don’t add any – salt will toughen up the outer casing of the bean – and besides, this soup  tastes great without any salt.


1 cup dried beans

4-5 cups water
(2 cups are used for soaking the beans, the other 3 cups are for cooking so vegetable broth can be used instead)

1 bay leaf

2 pinches of ground rosemary

1/2  teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 sliced or crushed garlic cloves

1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil

olive oil to drizzle over the top when serving

ground pepper to taste


Rinse the garbanzo beans and pick out any bad ones.  Soak the dried garbanzo beans in 2 cups of water overnight.  (You don’t have to soak garbanzos overnight but if you do, they will come out much more tender and take less time to cook).

Pour the soaked beans, with their water, into a small pot with a cover.  Add the celery seeds, bay leaf, garlic, cumin, rosemary and parsley and bring to a slow boil before turning down the heat to very low.  Let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally and keep watch over the liquid so it doesn’t get too low.  Add more water if needed – make sure there is more liquid in the pot than the beans.

Take a masher and roughly mash the beans in the pot.  Stir in the chopped basil and let the soup cook down if it’s too watery; if it’s too thick, add more vegetable broth or water.

This recipe makes 2 large bowls of soup or 3 small ones.   I garnished my soup with a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.


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