Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

These are my perfect cookies. If you’re not vegan, don’t let the “vegan” part of this title distract you – there’s nothing vegan tasting about them. These are cookies that happen to be vegan because I like to save my eggs for breakfast and, well, I like to eat more raw cookie dough than the average person.

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

These are rich, chewy, sweet, but not too sweet, and have the most delicious pop of flavor from the dried tart cherries, which are the star here. They’re soft, plump and chewy and I’m so in love with these cookies.

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

I used coconut oil instead of butter (as I so often do). I experimented with sugars until I ended with a combination of brown sugar and maple syrup that I think is perfection. The brown sugar helps create the chewy texture, and the maple syrup adds a rich sweet flavor.

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

Tart cherries have some unique superfood benefits. They’re a natural anti-inflammatory as well as a source of melatonin. I put them in everything from salads to grilled cheese to granola. They’re easy to find – I get mine in the bulk bins at my Whole Foods (and I’ve seen them in most grocery stores).

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

What are you waiting for? Go bake cookies!

Vegan Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies / loveandlemons.com

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad / loveandlemons.com

I keep a food journal when we travel. It’s nothing fancy, just a little book that isn’t my iphone. There are no pictures or charming doodles… there aren’t really even sentences, just scribbles of ingredients and descriptions of what we ate and where. Some dishes, I’ll try to recreate at home, but not all of them. The chosen few that make it off the list and into my kitchen come down to a few components: how badly I crave something, the ability to decipher my chicken-scratch handwriting, and the availability of similar ingredients without having to visit specialty stores.

This one (a take-away lunch I ate one day at Roscioli) easily fit into all three categories especially since it’s eggplant season! I loved how simple and perfect these ingredients worked together: hearty farro, eggplant, and roasted tomatoes with lots of basil & olive oil. It had my name written all over it and I thought you all would like it too…

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad / loveandlemons.com

This came together even easier than I expected – no fancy dressing, no cheese, just a good splash of olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. The bright tangy flavor comes from roasting the tomatoes until they’re shriveled up and lightly dry and brown around the outside. Their concentrated sweet flavor is what makes this, although you could also chop up sun dried tomatoes in a pinch.

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad / loveandlemons.com

I cooked my eggplant simply in a pan with garlic and chickpeas (the chickpeas were my addition if you couldn’t tell)… and tossed it all with farro, arugula, basil and pine nuts. The best part about this salad is that it keeps well. Make it ahead, serve it at room temp or store it in the fridge and have it for lunch the next day. I served my leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top – which is not the Italian way but it was so delicious that I recommend you do that anyway.

Eggplant & Roasted Tomato Farro Salad / loveandlemons.com

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl / loveandlemons.com

If you saw what I eat for breakfast every day, you would be so bored. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my daily eggs & avocado, but lately I’ve been trying to switch things up just because I think change is good every once in awhile. Especially if that change means another excuse to smother things in peaches.

This one is inspired by all of those beautiful breakfast bowls of oatmeal that I see all over the internet. You know the ones – they’re chock full of colorful fruit and other various superfoods. They’re so pretty that they make me wish I liked oatmeal… so finally I had this idea to make a sweet non-oat quinoa bowl for breakfast.

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl / loveandlemons.com

This base of this recipe is the quinoa that is lightly sweetened by cooking it in almond milk with a few cinnamon sticks. It’s this simple: Almond Breeze + quinoa + whole cinnamon sticks. You could also get creative with your spices. Nutmeg, cardamom, and/or vanilla bean would all be welcome here.

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl / loveandlemons.com

To your spiced quinoa, add whatever seasonal or dried fruits you like. Obviously, peaches are my thing right now, the raspberries are for Jack because they’re his favorite. For crunch, I topped these with toasted almonds and coconut flakes.

I’m going to give you two options of how to serve these bowls because Jack and I both have different preferences. Because I have a thing about mushy food, I like my quinoa bowl best served pilaf style, leaving my quinoa fluffy. (it can be served warm off the stove or at room temp if you’ve made it in advance). Jack prefers his porridge style – hot with plenty of almond milk to soak into the quinoa. So to each their own…

Sweeten the deal by drizzling a little maple syrup on top.

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl / loveandlemons.com

Peach & Plum Crumble

Peach & Plum Crumble / loveandlemons.com

It sounds silly to say, but one thing I love most about traveling is coming home. Suddenly everything I used to take for granted day-to-day is pure luxury – sleeping on my own pillow in my own bed, getting into a shower I can actually fit into without bumping into the sides of the glass, and making breakfast in my own kitchen without having to search for utensils.

Peach & Plum Crumble / loveandlemons.com

We’ve been home for 2 days now, and since then we’ve done about 3 things: lay on the sofa, go out for tacos and stock up on all of my favorite foods. Peaches are still going strong so it seems like the perfect time to share one of my favorite easy summer desserts.

This is a version of my go-to oat crumble – this time it’s made with stone fruits and pecans. I usually make this with coconut oil, but you can use butter or vegan butter – I tend to grab whichever one I happen to have on hand. You really can’t mess this one up.

Peach & Plum Crumble / loveandlemons.com

I realize, you might not want to turn your oven on but the nice thing about peaches (vs. apples, pears, etc), is that they cook pretty fast. If you’re still not convinced – try this version with grilled peaches instead.

Either way, serve it piping hot with extra scoops of ice cream.

Peach & Plum Crumble / loveandlemons.com

Erin’s Adobo Eggplant Quesadillas

Erin's Adobo Grilled Eggplant Quesadillas / loveandlemons.com

Ciao from Italia! At the moment, our life is all about pizza, pasta and tomatoes. It’s amazing but every time I travel, the things I miss most are tacos and mexican-ish food. We made these quesadillas a few weeks ago but I could totally go for one right now!

Erin's Adobo Grilled Eggplant Quesadillas / loveandlemons.com

I often get questions about how to cook eggplant. My favorite and most foolproof method for non-spongy eggplant is to grill it. (If you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan on your stove). I grill mine simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of balsamic; I then serve it with some arugula or sliced tomatoes.

But I’m in love with this recipe for grilled eggplant quesadillas that comes from my friend Erin (of Naturally Ella)’s new book The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen. The spices are so flavorful and the eggplant bulks up the quesadillas in a meaty-but-not-meaty sort of way.

Erin's Adobo Grilled Eggplant Quesadillas / loveandlemons.com

I know that so many of you are fans of Erin’s as well, so I’m sure lots of you already have her book, but if you don’t, put it on your list. It’s a super handy vegetarian guide to cooking with what you might have available seasonally or on hand. There are 50 base recipes and 3 unique versions of each. So pretty much any vegetarian meal you might want to make, she has a recipe for. Everything is made with whole grains and with fresh seasonal produce in mind.

I modified her quesadilla recipe just a tad. I mixed her spice rub with olive oil and used it as more of a chile sauce to brush onto the eggplant after I grilled it. (This kept my grill pan a little cleaner). I served the remaining sauce on the side of the finished quesadillas…  Jack gave this meal two speechless thumbs up. Because that’s how he says “this one is really good” as he stuffs the next quesadilla wedge in his mouth.

The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Erin Alderson