Japan Travel: Tokyo In 5 Days

My big travel adventure last year was to Japan. I’ve visited Japan before as a teenager and can say that I am just as fascinated by this beautiful country now as I was then. I went with my two of my closest friends and we had the trip of a lifetime! We flew into Tokyo’s Narita airport which is about a 12 hour, non-stop flight from Chicago O’Hare. Despite no sleep, we hit the ground running in Tokyo…

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The amazing view from New York bar at the Park Hyatt

Our first stop after checking into the hotel was to Afuri. Afuri is a really popular ramen place that has a few locations in Tokyo. We went to the one in Shinjuku located in the basement of the train station. Shinjuku train station is huge and filled with amazing shops and restaurants. Afuri allows you to order your ramen using a vending machine type contraption. You sit at the counter and eat and they have little baskets to put your belongings in. I had the vegan ramen which was made with vegetable broth. Most Japanese ramen broth is made with pork, so if you’re vegetarian or vegan, make sure to ask for vegetable broth (if they offer it). Afuri is delicious but no frills and the ramen comes pretty quickly.

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Afuri vegan ramen at Shinjuku station, Tokyo

After dinner we decided to head back to our hotel. We stayed at the Park Hyatt where the movie Lost In Translation was filmed. I made sure to watch the movie right before the trip and was really excited to get a drink at the infamous New York bar. The bar has phenomenal views and a Jazz trio every night. The drinks are outrageously expensive but the bar snacks and people watching make up for the price. The crowd is mostly tourists and on the older side. My only complaint is that smoking is allowed in the bar and we ended up smelling like cigarette smoke afterward.

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A Manhattan at the New York bar is $$$
The infamous bar where Lost in Translation was filmed

On our second day in Tokyo, we got up early to check out the Tsukiji Fish market. This massive market is in the eastern part of Tokyo and is known all over the world. The inside area is accessible to the public only at certain times and is where all of the sushi restaurants in Japan (including Jiro sushi in Ginza and Roppongi Hills) get their sushi from. There are many little intersecting streets around it lined with various vendors selling everything from the famous Japanese sweet egg omelettes (Tamagoyaki), mochi, spices, to tons of cooked and raw seafood. This wasn’t my favorite part of the city but it’s definitely worth visiting once. I wasn’t a fan of the fishy smells…

We stopped in the Ginza district for lunch. Ginza has tons of luxury shops, a pharmacy if you need one, and one of Japan’s most famous department stores – Mitsukoshi. If you are looking for mall food court type food, the top floor of Mitsukoshi is perfect. It’s a good place to just relax and take in the views of Ginza. The basement is reminiscent of Macy’s and has a sprawling food market.

We took taxis everywhere our first few days in Tokyo since we were too tired to navigate the trains. The trains are actually not difficult to use and the touch screens for tickets can easily be switched to English. Our hotel was helpful in providing a train map but we also had many friendly locals offer to help us. The trains are super cheap and efficient but hot on the summer and crowded. You can buy individual tickets before each ride (you don’t need to get a Japan rail pass ahead of time). You need to keep your ticket to exit the train station so hang on to it! The bullet train or Shinkansen takes off from Tokyo station and is more expensive then the regular city trains. Make sure to stop by the train ticket office at Tokyo station if you are buying a bullet train ticket – it’s much less confusing vs. using the automated machines. Taxis in Tokyo are tourist friendly but really expensive. Most restaurants and taxis take credit cards in Tokyo. You need cash for the local trains but can use your credit card to buy the bullet train tickets.

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One of the seafood vendors at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo
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Fresh mochi at Tsukiji Fish market

After lunch and some shopping in Ginza for chopsticks and toys we headed back to Shinjuku to get ready for the Robot Restaurant. We knew about the Robot “restaurant” from Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. It’s actually a crazy, and at times, kitschy show with very little actual food. The food consisted of things like popcorn, edamame, and drinks that came in a flashing light bulb. Shinjuku is super colorful like Time Square in New York city. The area where the Robot Restaurant is located is adjacent to the “red light” district of Tokyo. Tokyo, in our experience, was very safe at all hours even in near the so called red light district.

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Shinjuku lights
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The crazy yet captivating Robot Restaurant performers
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Yup, a robot… it gets better at the end!
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My vodka soda drink in a flashing light bulb (which you can take home lol!)

Our third day in Tokyo we decided to check out the Harajuku area of Tokyo. Harajuku is known for its quirky fashion made popular by Gwen Stefani, colorful food, and also a popular cat cafe called Moka. Animal cafes are all the rage in Tokyo – you can pay to hang out with other animals too including hedge hogs and owls. The cat cafe is expensive (they charge by the minute) and there’s a protocol of shoe removal, placing your belongings in a locker, and hand washing before hand. The drinks are dispensed from a machine and include things like strawberry hot drinks and also hot chocolate. Moka cat cafe is adorable and we really enjoyed the experience. Takeshita street is filled with little shops that sell trinkets, candy, sneakers, and also giant rainbow cotton candy. Close by to this street there are tons of luxury brand name boutiques and also a small shopping mall. Harajuku is super crowded on the weekends and you can spot “trendy” locals wearing really colorful clothes. We went to the Line Friends store in Harajuku which was also somewhat mobbed (with both adults and kids). Line Friends is a really popular cartoon series and the store has giant bears and other really cute displays and toys.

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Rainbow cotton candy on Takeshita St. in Harajuku
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Photo op with a larger than life bear at the Line Friends store in Harajuku
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The adorable Moka cat cafe in Harajuku

Next on our list on day three was the famous intersection known as Shibuya crossing. What’s so interesting about an intersection? Well, this one is a little special. It’s thought to be the busiest intersection in the world with thousands of people crossing in all directions. A good place to watch from above is the Starbucks right above Shibuya crossing. It’s definitely an experience to walk across this massive intersection and watch the multitude of people scurrying across. You can take in the sights and sounds including the giant billboards and music playing all around. Tokyo has a dense population that is somewhat spread out. There are about 9 million people who live in this city, making it one of the largest in the world.

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Controlled chaos = Shibuya crossing in Tokyo

Experience walking through Shibuya crossing by watching the short clip below.

On day four, we got up early to visit Yoyogi Park. Yoyogi Park is a little reminiscent of Central Park in New York city or the Tiergarten in Berlin. It’s lined with trees and very peaceful and shady. Inside the park is the Meiji Shrine, a sprawling Shinto shrine named after Emperor Meiji. There are several very large wooden Torii gates surrounding the park entrances as well as one in the main shrine area. While we were visiting the shrine we were privy to a traditional Shinto wedding. This is a very popular place for weddings and also gets very busy with visitors on New Year’s day. You will also pass by rows of decorative sake barrels displayed near the shrine. These barrels don’t contain sake but represent a gift to the Shinto Gods from the sake brewers. Sake is used in traditional Shinto festivals.

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The wooden Torii gates at Yoyogi park are some of the largest in Japan
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Meiji shrine – a Shinto shrine named after Emperor Meiji
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Traditional wedding procession at Meiji Shrine
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Colorful sake barrels donated by sake brewers as a gift to the Gods

After visiting Meiji shrine we stopped at a Japanese drug store to explore what they had there. Japanese drug stores are so fascinating and loaded with cosmetics and skin care. They are known for their high quality hair products as well. We were also somewhat obsessed with a convenience store called Lawson. Lawson actually has some great food, beverages, and snacks if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot on a meal. It’s also the best place to get cash from an ATM! Later in the evening we headed to the Michelin starred tempura restaurant Motoyoshi. It’s not the easiest place to find but the space is simple yet beautiful and the place settings were just adorable. Chef Motoyoshi is such a nice guy – he even walked us out to our taxi.

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Perfect vegetables all ready to be tempura’d at Motoyoshi
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Gorgeous place settings and Michelin starred chef Motoyoshi

On our fifth and final day in Tokyo we visited the neighborhood known as Asakusa. Asakusa contains one of Tokyo’s most famous temples called Sensoji. The gate to Sensoji is huge and very colorful and known as the “Thunder Gate”. Within this beautiful temple area are dozens of souvenir shops located on Nakamise street. This area is very touristy and crowded but fun to explore if you’re looking for some trinkets to take home. It has an old world feel compared to the rest of Tokyo. Nearby Asakusa is Kappabashi street which sells kitchenwares including Japanese knives, chopsticks, ceramics, pots, pans… pretty much everything you need to cook! I found a beautiful ceramic sake set which was much less expensive then the ones at the department store. We also stopped by a huge store called Don Quijote in Asakusa. Don Quijote has a million things including candy, snacks, shampoo, cosmetics, and a lot more for cheaper. I went there to buy Japanese Kit Kats for family and friends. In Japan, Kit Kats come in lots of different local flavors depending on the region. Some of the flavors include green tea, wasabi, strawberry, and sweet potato to name just a few. You can get these at the official Kit Kat store with cooler packaging but they cost much less if you buy them at Don Quijote. Don Quijote also sells all types of matcha (green tea) products at a much lower price compared to other stores. Be sure to bring your passport when you shop in Japan to get a tax free exemption.

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The “Thunder Gate” at Asakusa
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One of the many ceramic shops on Kappabashi street

We then headed to Roppongi Hills to see the Mori museum and tower. The museum houses mostly architecture and some modern art pieces. The view from Mori tower is spectacular! Since it was typhoon season we had a lot of clouds and wind that day but the view was still breathtaking. We were told that on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji from the tower. The museum has a lovely cafe with full meals, snacks, and drinks. We stopped for some tea and dessert there. Roppongi Hills has lots of luxury shops and also American chain stores likes Zara.

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Cloudy view from Mori tower during typhoon Jebi

Later on that night we visited another spot we learned about from Anthony Bourdain’s shows called Golden Gai. Golden Gai is near the Shinjuku area and consists of about half a dozen alleys which are filled with tiny bars and restaurants. We visited the infamous yet tiny Bar Albatross which seats about 5 people downstairs. This tiny bar is packed with various kitschy items as well as crystal chandeliers. There’s a small cover charge and it’s cash only so make sure you visit the ATM before you go. The drinks were actually quite tasty and made by a lone bartender. They play old school American rock and roll like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the people watching is amazing. This area is not really a place where locals seem to frequent and was mainly filled with drunk tourists. It’s definitely entertaining to pass through later in the night for at least one drink! Things don’t get going at Golden Gai until about 10pm.

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One of the tiny alleys of Golden Gai
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The infamous Bar Albatross visited by Anthony Bourdain

The next day, we packed up our things and took the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto. Tokyo is for sure one of my favorite cities – I’ve been lucky enough to visit it twice. The people are friendly and always willing to help. The culture is rich, unique, and will always be fascinating to me because it’s so different from my own. My next travel blog post on beautiful Kyoto is coming soon! Feel free to email me or ask questions in the comments section if you are planning a trip to Japan anytime soon.

 

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Elderflower Old Fashioned

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Sipping an Elderflower Old Fashioned at home…

The holidays are here! It’s that time for hosting friends and family at home and it’s always good to have some good cocktail recipes on hand for an evening in. Whiskey has been making a comeback for the past five years or more. I can go to just about any cocktail bar or restaurant in my neighborhood and find at least one whiskey cocktail on the menu. Manhattans, Sazeracs, and Old Fashioneds are pretty popular these days. I remember ordering a perfect Manhattan a few years ago and really enjoying it and have been a big fan of whiskey cocktails since. Whiskey cocktails are easy to make at home and my house guests really enjoy them. My favorite whiskey cocktail to make at home is the Elderflower Old Fashioned. This is a fun new twist on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. It calls for Elderflower liqueur as the sweetener instead of sugar cubes.

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All you need to make an Elderflower Old Fashioned

Elderflowers are beautiful white flowers with a lovely fragrance and unique flavor and are used to make Elderflower liqueur such as St. Germain. St. Germain goes really well with either bourbon or rye whiskey. You can use either bourbon or rye for this recipe – whichever you prefer or have on hand. This is a cocktail that is meant to be sipped slowly. It’s perfect for after dinner, especially if you’re in the mood for something sweet and boozy instead of dessert. I recommend using Luxardo brand Maraschino cherries as they taste the best and have a natural color. You can use a peeler or a small paring knife to make your orange peel garnishes. It’s a warming drink and is an especially nice treat on cold winter nights. If you prefer it less sweet, you can add 1/2 oz of St. Germain instead of 1 oz. I’m also a big fan of interesting ice for cocktails. I love large ice cubes and have an ice maker that makes fancy, clear ice spheres (Glacio Clear Sphere Duo). Large ice cubes and ice spheres melt slowly and look pretty, so they’re ideal for this drink. If you make an Elderflower Old Fashioned, make sure to take a post a picture on Instagram and Facebook and tag @thefriendlyepicurean or Pin this recipe on Pinterest. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

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Clear ice spheres melt slowly and look beautiful.

Elderflower Old Fashioned

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 2 oz whiskey (rye or bourbon)
  • 1 oz St. Germain (or other elderflower liqueur)
  • 2 drops of Angostura bitters
  • 1 large ice cube
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish
  • Orange peel for garnish

Directions

Stir all ingredients together in an Old Fashioned glass, add ice cube, and let rest for about 1-2 minutes. Rub orange zest around rim of glass and serve with orange zest and Maraschino cherry.

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Original artwork by www.etsy.com/shop/doodleplix


glacio Clear Sphere Duo | Crystal Clear Ice Ball Maker

Adapted from Saveur: https://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/elderflower-old-fashioned

Pumpkin Pie (vegan)

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Thanksgiving is next week and I am ready to make and eat lots of delicious food! Pumpkin pie is definitely on my list this year. I prefer traditional pumpkin pie over other pumpkin desserts because it’s the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. Pumpkin spice lattes and smoothies are great but nothing is better than actual pumpkin pie. The combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in pumpkin pie filling gives it a lot of flavor, warmth, and an amazing fragrance. The crust is flaky and and not too heavy and balances out the sweetness of the pumpkin filling. If you’re short on time or just not into making homemade pie crusts, there are non-dairy options such as pre-made graham cracker crusts. I have yet to find pre-made vegan pie crust dough. Homemade pie dough definitely requires some extra effort but nothing beats a buttery, flaky, homemade crust in my opinion. I recommend making the pie crust dough ahead of time so that all you have to do is roll it out and pre-bake it the day of (to prevent sogginess).

I used leaf shaped pie dough cutters (from Amazon) to make cute decorative pie crust leaves. I simply rolled out the extra half of the dough and used the dough cutters to cut out the leave shapes. I transferred the leaf cut outs to a foil lined baking sheet and baked them at 350F for about 20 minutes. After the pie was baked and cooled I arranged the baked leaf cut outs over the pie for a pretty overlay. This is optional, of course, but adds a lot of character to the pie. You can wrap the extra pie crust dough and freeze it if you aren’t making the decorative cut outs.

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I watched Joy of Baking on You Tube to review the pie crust making process. Make sure you buy extra firm silken tofu (not in the refrigerated section) for this recipe. This kind of tofu works best for vegan quiches, tarts, and pies (see below).

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Morinaga Silken Tofu works best for vegan baking.

Pumpkin pie is one my favorite fall desserts – the vegan version tastes very similar to traditional pumpkin pie, but of course the texture varies a little since silken tofu is used as the substitute for eggs and heavy cream. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and make sure to post a picture if you make this recipe. Dont’ forget to tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin this recipe on Pinterest.

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  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


Ingredients

    For the crust: (makes enough for 2 pies)
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling out dough)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz (1 cup) cold vegan butter, cut into 1 inch cubes (such as Earth Balance)
  • 6 to 7 tbs ice water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 (12 oz) box of silken, extra firm tofu
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • For coconut whipped cream topping (optional):
  • 1 (13 oz) can of coconut cream refrigerated overnight
  • 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

Directions

For the pie crust: Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar for a few seconds. Add cold butter cubes and continue to pulse until crumbly. Next, add about 4 tbs. very cold water slowly and pulse again. Dough will start to come together a little bit more. Add 2-3 more tbs. water and pulse again for a few more seconds. Empty dough onto clean rolling surface. Form into a disk and cut in half. Form each half into a disk with your hands and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Once dough is chilled, sprinkle clean rolling surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough out into about a 11 to 12 inch circle that is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully transfer to pie dish and trim excess dough from edges. Crimp edges with fingers or fork, if desired. Cover center of plate with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Pre-bake crust for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before filling. For the filling: Place all ingredients into food processor and blend until smooth. Pour filling into crust evenly. Bake at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. Filling may develop cracks if baked for too long. Make sure to check on the pie to keep edges from burning. Cover edges of pie crust with foil toward end of baking time to prevent further browning or burning. Allow pie to cool for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving. May store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. For the coconut whipped cream: Remove can of coconut cream from fridge without shaking it. Carefully scoop hardened top layer of refrigerated coconut cream out of the can and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high speed adding powdered sugar a few tbs at a time until fluffy. Refrigerate or use right away. Can store leftover whipped cream in fridge for a few days in an airtight container.

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Adapted from Simply Recipes pie crust recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_pie_crust/

Adapted from Food Network vegan pumpkin pie recipe:
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/vegan-pumpkin-pie-3362738



R&M International 0499 Leaves 2″ Pastry/Cookie/Fondant Stampers, Leaves and Acorn, 4-Piece Set

Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Ceramic Pie Crust Weights, Natural Ceramic Stoneware


Apple Crisp

Fall has arrived and it’s apple season! The weather is getting colder and the leaves on the trees are changing colors to beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. I really love this time of year and apple crisp is one of my all time favorite fall desserts to make. It’s so delicious served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re not a pie expert, this is the easy way to have some of the flavors of apple pie without all of the work. I love this version of apple crisp because it’s so simple – only 7 ingredients. I don’t think adding flour, baking soda etc. is really even necessary. The walnuts add crunch and some salt to balance out the sweetness. You might want to reduce the sugar depending on the sweetness of your apples. I used Earth Balance, organic (vegan) sugar, and Nada Moo vegan vanilla ice cream to make this recipe completely vegan. If you’re not vegan, feel free to substitute with the dairy versions.

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The longest part of the prep time involves peeling and cutting the apples. Once that’s done, it’s so quick and clean up is easy. I don’t mind peeling and cutting apples… it’s actually pretty relaxing! You only need one bowl for this recipe.

I used Granny Smith apples the second time I made this recipe and thought it came out just perfect. Granny Smith apples typically aren’t as sweet and have the perfect texture and tartness for baking. I also tried using Honeycrisp apples which are delicious on their own, but they were a little too sweet and juicy for this recipe. Making a crumble is super easy. You can use your food processor to quickly pulse the ingredients together or use a fork and slightly softened butter. For the best texture, make sure you don’t puree the crumble mixture or over mix it.

The flavors of the apple and cinnamon really shine in this dessert. It also makes your entire house smell like cinnamon and apples… yum! I like to make it ahead (the morning of) to bring with me to a dinner party or potluck. You can bake it once you arrive and allow it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. The best part is when the vanilla ice cream starts to melt into it – the combo is just irresistible! If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram, or Pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (about 8-9 cups)
  • 6 tbs butter (slightly softened), plus more for greasing the pan (for vegan version use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar + 2 tbs organic sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional topping)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ rectangular baking pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl, toss apple slices with 2 tbs sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Spread apple slices evenly into baking pan. Using the same bowl, mix together butter, oats, 2/3 cup sugar, walnuts, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon with a fork until combined but still crumbly. Spread oat mixture evenly over apples. Bake for 40 minutes at 375F. Top should be golden brown and apple mixture will start to bubble a little. Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving. Top with a scoop of ice cream just before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

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Credits:
Adapted from an original recipe by Mark Bittman in the New York Times
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11752-mark-bittmans-apple-crisp

Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

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This summer I’ve been trying to cut back on my calories with lighter meals that are still filling. I’ve been trying to incorporate more seasonal produce into my diet as well. Although zucchini is typically available in the grocery store year round, zucchini season is still going strong. Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable – it’s great grilled, baked, sautéed, and also raw. I like to peel zucchini if I am eating it raw because it gets rid of the bitter aftertaste. I bought a vegetable spiralizer a few years ago and it’s one of the best tools to make a quick, healthy meal (click here for the one I use). Spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini are amazing in salads. This salad is ready in minutes and requires no cooking. The peanut sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. I use the sauce as a dip for vegetable rolls, baked tofu, and also on cauliflower rice. It goes with pretty much everything. Homemade peanut sauce tastes so much better than store bought and is really easy to make. This one is tangy, spicy, nutty, and absolutely delicious!

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Homemade spicy peanut sauce

I recommend tossing the noodles with the sauce right before serving so that the noodles keep their shape. This recipe makes a great side dish but can be turned into a light main course by adding your favorite vegan protein such as tofu, tempeh, or edamame. The carrots and red bell peppers add crunch and color. I decided to add healthy micro greens to this recipe instead of a traditional Asian herb such as cilantro. Micro greens have a really high nutrient content vs. regular greens and taste really fresh. They also make any dish look stunning! I definitely recommend giving them a try! They can be used as a garnish for soups, Buddha bowls, avocado toast, or added to any sandwich or wrap for extra flavor and nutrients. Zucchini noodles are tasty and filling and can be used as a substitute for any type of pasta. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients

  • special equipment to make noodles: a table top vegetable spiralizer
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup micro greens
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • For the spicy peanut sauce (makes about 1/2 cup):
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbs agave syrup
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs water

Directions


To make the peanut sauce, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Next, using a table top vegetable spiralizer, make the zucchini and carrot noodles. In a large bowl, toss zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, and red bell pepper pieces with 1/4 cup of peanut sauce (add more to taste). Top with crushed peanuts and micro greens and serve immediately. Best if eaten within immediately.

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OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction

Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)

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This year, the Fourth of July was really memorable because my entire family was able to get together. We grilled at my sister’s house and I made vegan Elotes for the first time. It actually turned out really good! Elotes refers to Mexican style corn on the cob. You can find it all over Chicago sold by street vendors or food trucks. It’s really rich and full of flavor but the traditional version is not vegan. This vegan version of Elotes is a really easy recipe with few ingredients. If you’re trying to eat lighter you can skip the vegan butter and reduce the mayonnaise by half. You can find vegan mayonnaise and parmesan cheese in most grocery stores. The vegan parmesan from Go Veggie tastes delicious but has a strong smell that may not be appetizing to some. My nieces and nephews really enjoyed the vegan Elotes but my sister was not a fan of the vegan parmesan… I think nutritional yeast is a great substitute if you’re not a fan of vegan parmesan. Elotes are tangy, buttery, creamy and a little spicy. There’s nothing better than grilled corn in the summer! The cilantro really makes it taste really fresh and the cayenne adds a little kick. If you don’t have a grill you can boil the corn for about 10 minutes instead and still get great results. You can also take the corn off the cob once it’s cooked and mix in all of the ingredients if you prefer something that can be served out of a dish. It’s just as delicious that way and a lot less messy! If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, husks removed
  • 2 limes, cut in halves
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance brand)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese (such as Go Veggie brand) or nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Grill corn for about 3-4 minutes per side – about 10-15 minutes total depending on grill temperature. Corn should be evenly golden brown. Squeeze lime juice on each ear of corn. Spread one tablespoon of butter on each ear of corn. Next, spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each ear of corn. In a small bowl, combine cilantro, vegan parmesan, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, garlic powder, and salt. Top each ear of corn with 1/4 of the parmesan mixture and serve while hot.

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