Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sweet Endings

My daughter loves pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins. She has a sweet tooth to be certain. This year she took it upon herself to make dessert, and it was delightful!

She made a vegan pumpkin pecan pie. She got the recipe for it here. The only changes she made to the recipe were buying a readymade pie crust and substituting stevia for the sugar.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Non-traditional Thanksgiving

You could say our Thanksgivings have been anything but traditional since we became vegan. Despite the lack of a turkey centerpiece, I still love the multitude of dishes that are made for the day. Leftovers!

This year we went to my parent's to celebrate with them. My father has had a turkey aversion for a few years now, after getting sick after eating some. While I would say that suits me fine, it hasn't stopped my parents from having some meat dish for the day's meal. This year my mom settled on ribs. Knowing that the vegans in my family wouldn't be eating any, and that I would be cooking later in the day for a second feast (my kids work retail and wouldn't be home until evening), I volunteered to make a couple of sides to accompany my mom's choice of macaroni and cheese (non-vegan, of course!)

I went with potato salad and coleslaw. Completely non-traditional, but certainly an accepted accompaniment for ribs.

Dill and Sour Cream Potato Salad

3 lbs. red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 T. fresh dill
1/2 t. black pepper
2/3 c. vegan mayonnaise
2 t. fresh parsley
One container vegan sour cream
1/2 t. salt

Boil the unpeeled potatoes until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain and cool. Refrigerate them until ready to mix with remaining ingredients.
When ready, add remaining ingredients to the chilled potatoes and mix well. Refrigerate again until serving time.

Tri-Color Coleslaw

One head red cabbage, shredded
One head green cabbage, shredded
One bunch kale, shredded
2/3 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pumkin seeds
Vegan mayonnaise

Mix all the ingredients together with enough mayonnaise to coat well, but not too juicy. This makes a LOT of coleslaw, so make sure you are feeding a crowd!

My mom loves potato salad and my dad loves coleslaw, so the choices were a success. My husband thought the potato salad needed more salt (I tend to use less because of his propensity for salting at the table before tasting) and my dad doctored his coleslaw servings with more mayo (he likes his creamier), but everyone else thought the dishes were just right.

Personal preferences aside, try these out at your next cookout or non-traditional feast. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cranberry Cumberland Sauce

Years ago a friend of mine shared this recipe with me. I have made it every Thanksgiving since. It is definitely a family favorite!

Cranberry Cumberland Sauce

2 lbs. whole cranberry sauce (the recipe is on the bag of cranberries)
1/2 t. dry mustard
juice and zest of 2 oranges
1 t. cornstarch
1 t. lemon juice
2 T. vegan sugar or stevia

Dissolve the mustard in the orange juice and add the cornstarch. Stir until well mixed. Add this mixture to the cranberry sauce, along with the lemon juice, orange zest and sugar. Heat the sauce, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Pour the hot mixture into a bowl and let cool. Chill well before serving.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving, Part Two

As a vegan, our meals don't revolve around a meat dish as a centerpiece. For us, there is no such things as too many side dishes! This year could be considered an exception in that we did make our first Tofurky roast, which could easily be viewed as a *main dish*. However, it was just one of many dishes we made that day.

Orange Fennel Salad

One bunch fresh, organic spinach, washed and leaves separated from stems
One fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
3 Clementine oranges, peeled and sliced
Citrus Dressing

We bought already packaged baby spinach and baby kale. Place this in a bowl with the sliced fennel and oranges. Pour the dressing on top and mix it well.

Citrus Dressing

1/3 c. vegan mayonnaise
One container vegan plain yogurt (I used one made from almond milk)
2 T. frozen orange juice concentrate

Mix well.

Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips

1-1/2 lbs. potatoes (I used a mixture of red and gold potatoes)
1/2 lbs. parsnips
Vegan butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegan milk
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Cut the potatoes into chunks. I never peel mine, but do so if that is your preference. Peel the parsnips and cut into chunks. Add both potatoes and parsnips to a large pot of water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, until potatoes and parsnips are soft. Remove from heat and drain. Add back to the pot, along with the butter, salt, pepper, milk and parsley. Mix well until nicely mashed.

Baked Cheezy Cauliflower

One head of cauliflower
1/2 c. vegan mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. vegan milk
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Daiya cheddar shreds

Remove leaves from the cauliflower and trim away the core so that the head of cauliflower can sit flat. Place in a glass pie plate with 1/2 c. water. Cover with wax paper shaped to form a tent. Microwave for 10 minutes.
When cooled enough to handle, slice the cauliflower. Arrange the slices in a baking dish.
In a pot, melt the butter. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and Daiya cheddar shreds until the shreds have melted into a sauce consistency. Pour this sauce over the cauliflower. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.


I'll add more recipes from our day tomorrow!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tofurky Thanksgiving

This year we decided for the first time to have a Tofurky roast for Thanksgiving. We decided on the Tofurky Vegetarian Feast. It came with the roast with stuffing, gravy, chocolate cake and little wishstix.

Because I had never made it before, I figured I should look around for tips on how to best do it. I came across several recipes, but the one that caught my eye was the one from the website Meet the Shannons. Their Betty Crocker Project has wielded a wealth of yummy, yummy, yummy veganized recipes. I chose the one that uses rosemary and dark beer to baste the Tofurky. You can find the recipe and their blog here.

My dish came out looking like this and was DELICIOUS! Even my non-vegan daughters-in-law proclaimed how good it was!

Tomorrow I'll share the recipes for the various sides.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chick'n and Bean Stew

My daughter posts a link to my Facebook and asked me to make the dish shown there. How could I refuse? So between the two of us, we gathered up the ingredients and doubled it, and it was wonderful!

The original recipe can be found here. This is my very slightly modified version.

Chick'n and Bean Stew

One package gardein chick'n scallopini
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Two cans diced tomatoes
4 c. vegetable broth 
4 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 t. black pepper
One bunch arugula

Fry the scallopini in oil until lightly browned. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, saute the garlic until softened. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Add arugula, reduce to simmer and let cook about 20 minutes. Cut scallopini into bite sized pieces, add the the soup, and serve. Enjoy!

This was very good! Even my non-vegan daughter-in-law asked about the chick'n, wondering if was vegan because she couldn't tell the difference!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crockpot Mushroom and Green Bean Stroganoff

I seriously love the convenience of crockpots. And there is nothing more inviting than walking into the house and smelling some scrumptious. It makes your mouth water just anticipating what you are about to dine on!

Crockpot Mushroom and Green Bean Stroganoff

Olive oil
One package sliced mushrooms
2 T. tomato paste
2 c. vegetable stock
One onion, chopped
One green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. flour
1-1/2 T. Hungarian paprika (yes, it does make a difference!)
One bag frozen green beans
1/2 c. vegan sour cream

Saute the mushrooms, onion and bell pepper in the olive oil until softened. Whisk in the flour. Remove from heat. Add this mixture to the crockpot. Add paprika and green beans on top of mushroom mixture. Mix the tomato paste with the vegetable stock and pour this on top of everything. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. When done, stir in the vegan sour cream. Serve with wide noodles. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oat Burgers

Yesterday I was craving a burger. With onion rings and a large glass of iced tea. I could, of course, have easily gone to the grocery store and picked up some frozen vegan burgers. They're good, don't get me wrong, and they are convenient when the hubby wants to grill on a sudden whim.

Fortunately, I have several burger recipes in my files to try.

Oat Burgers

Olive oil
One onion, chopped
1 c. rolled oats (not instant!)
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. flour
1 t. sage
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. salt
1-1/3 c. boiling water

Saute the onion in the olive oil. In a bowl, add the oats, walnuts, flour, sage, thyme and salt. Mix well. Pour in the boiling water and stir to mix. Add the onions and mix again. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Form into patties. Fry the patties in olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.
Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

And don't forget to make some onion rings!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kung Pao

Before I became vegan, my favorite dish at any Chinese restaurant was Kung Pao. Usually Kung Pao chicken, but sometimes even one with three different meats. Now, of course, that thought horrifies me, but I had begun to wonder why in so many Chinese restaurants the only dish available to me was steamed mixed vegetables.  Boring. Bland. Why couldn't they do a vegan Kung Pao?

I have since found some excellent Chinese restaurants that offer a variety of dishes for the non-meat eater, and this pleases me enormously. But I also make it at home. This recipe can be made with either tofu or seitan.

Kung Pao Tofu

4 c. cooked rice
Sesame oil
One onion, chopped
5-6 ribs of celery, diced
One package extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, cut into bite sized cubes
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1-1/4 c. water
2 T. cornstarch
Dry roasted peanuts
Green onions, chopped

Saute the onion and the celery in the sesame oil until softened. Add the tofu, peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Whisk together the water with the cornstarch and add to the frying pan. Simmer over medium until slightly thickened. Serve over the rice and sprinkle the peanuts and greens onions on top. Enjoy!

Kung Pao Seitan

Substitute seitan for the tofu.

You can also substitute Braggs Aminos for the soy sauce, and can use a different nut butter if you prefer.

Also, remember to check the ingredients on your dry roasted peanuts. Some name brands contain gelatin.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Garlic and Lemon Pasta

I was hosting a potluck the other day and wanted to try something new. I've warned friends and family in the past that potlucks are my opportunity to make guinea pigs out of them, LOL!

Garlic and Lemon Pasta

One package spaghetti
1/3 c. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1-1/2 t. agave nectar
1/2 t. dijon mustard
4 T. olive oil
1/3 c. walnuts, chopped
1/3 c. fresh parsley

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions and drain. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, salt, agave nectar, mustard and olive oil until well blended. Add the sauce to the spaghetti, along with the walnuts and parsley. Toss together well. Serve. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mushroom Lasagna

I love kitchen appliances! I have two crockpots. One round, one oblong, and I use them both. I also have a mini crockpot that is perfect for hot dips. Crockpots come is so handy for those days you'll be involved with something and don't want to have to stop just to prepare supper. The day I decided to tackle cleaning out my pantry was one of those days. It was a win-win - got the pantry cleaned out and organized AND a hot supper, too!

Mushroom Lasagna

One package soft tofu, drained and pressed
1 T. lemon juice
1 c. water
3 cloves garlic
One not chicken bouillon cube
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
Olive oil
One package sliced mushrooms
1 T. dried rosemary
One package lasagna noodles

In a blender, add the tofu, lemon juice, water, garlic, bouillon cube and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.
Saute the mushrooms and rosemary in olive oil.
In the crockpot, coat the inside with oil. Spoon some of the tofu sauce, top with a layer of noodles, spoon some mushrooms on top of that. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of noodles and the last of the sauce spooned on top. Cook on low about 4 hours or high for about 2 hours.

The camera flash makes the picture hard to see, but it turned out really beautiful!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Celebrate with Black and Orange!

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
~Author Unknown

Something wonderful happens when I see the colors black and orange together. I get excited because I know Hallowe'en is near. For some, the celebration continues over the course of three days, as Catholics honor the saints on November 1 and all souls on November 2. But the fun really begins on All Hallows Eve, October 31.

This year we only had five little trick or treaters. Several friends of mine reported the same. Kind of sad, since I have such happy memories of my own trick or treating as a child, and then taking my kids around the neighborhood for their trick or treating adventures.

In the spirit of the holiday, however, I made all black and orange dishes. Of course, at least one of those dishes contained pumpkin.

Black and Orange Salad

3 navel oranges, peeled and cut in half
1/4 of a red onion, chopped
1/4 c. slivered almonds
One can of small black olives
4 mint leaves, chopped
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
1 t. sugar

Mix everything together. Serve.

Black and Orange Stew

One butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
Olive oil
One onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
One orange bell pepper, chopped
One can diced tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
One chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
1 c. apple juice
3 T. chili powder
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. sugar

In a Dutch oven in the olive oil, cook the squash, onion, carrots and bell pepper, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and chipotle chile. Stir in the apple juice and seasonings. Stir until well mixed and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer about 3o minutes, or until squash is tender.

Black and Orange Muffins

1-1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1-1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. plain nondairy milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil (not olive)
One can diced green chiles
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds, chopped
Black sesame seeds

Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in one large bowl. Mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, milk and oil in a separate bowl. Add this wet mixture to the dry mixture, and stir in the green chiles and pumpkin seeds. Mix well. Pour this into paper muffin liners in a muffin tin. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top. Bake at 375 for 18 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure they are done. I got about 18 muffins from this.

I really loved the salad and the muffins. The stew was spicy, so be prepared and have tissues nearby!

And because cutting through tough squash can be difficult, I'm including this tip to make your life easier!


After eating this healthy, it's okay now to indulge in a little - just a little! - of the leftover candy! You're welcome!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mexican Food, Two Ways

Call me a snob, but the best Mexican food is in Texas. I've traveled around the country, but nowhere do I enjoy eating Mexican food as much as the places in Texas. We call it Tex Mex - a blend of Mexican food with a dash of Texas cuisine.

So when I come across a recipe that uses the word *burrito* or *taco*, naturally I expect it will be something similar to what I find locally. It usually turns out to be anything but. However, that doesn't stop me from trying those recipes. That's what happened here.

Mexican Food, Two Ways

One can pinto beans, drained
One can black beans, drained
One can garbanzo beans, drained
Olive oil
One onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
One jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 carrots, diced
One green bell pepper, chopped
One zucchini, chopped
2 t. oregano
1/2 c. salsa
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
One can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
Flour tortillas
Phyllo dough sheets
Daiya shreds - I used both cheddar and pepperjack

In a skillet with the olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, jalapeno, carrots, and bell pepper until tender. Add the zucchini and oregano until heated through. Mix in the beans, salsa, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, corn and cilantro.

Here comes the two ways. Add a spoonful of the bean mixture with a sprinkle of the cheese to:

- the middle of a flour tortilla. Fold it like an envelope, sides first, then top and bottom. Place seam side down in a casserole dish. Pour over some extra salsa.

- lay a sheet of phyllo on a flat surface and brush with olive oil. Add a second sheet and brush with olive oil. Add a third sheet on top of the first two sheets and once again brush with olive oil. Place the bean mixture and cheese in the corner of the three sheets and fold up in a triangle. Place triangles in a separate casserole dish.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve the burritos with some vegan sour cream and the phyllo triangles as is.

No, I did not make these on the same day. When I made the bean mixture I had some left over after using the entire package of flour tortillas. The next day I pulled out the phyllo to make a version of an empanada.

Both are tasty, but my family said they preferred the phyllo empanadas to the burritos. Try it both ways and see which way you like it best.

No, this does not taste like the Mexican food I know, but it was good nonetheless.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

World Pasta Day

Today is World Pasta Day. It began with the World Pasta Congress held in Rome on October 25, 1995. That day, delegations from various countries discussed together the theme of the collective promotion in favor of pasta consumption, exchanging their ideas and experiences. Many things were decided, but the main objective of World Pasta Day is to draw the attention of the media and consumers to pasta, stressing the fact that pasta is *a global food, consumed in all five continents, has unquestionable merits, is appropriate for a dynamic and healthy life style capable of meeting both primary food requirements and those of high-level gastronomy*.

The World Pasta Congress is part of the International Pasta Organization. You should check out their website; they have plenty of recipes to back up their points!

Needless to say, this makes today a good day to try a different pasta dish. If pasta to you means spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna, or you grew up eating ravioli out of a can, here is your chance to expand your pasta repertoire. And I have just the recipe for you to try!

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Garlic

One package thin spaghetti
Two cans diced tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, chopped
One can small pitted black olives, chopped
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T. olive oil
One lime
1 T. chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. In the meantime, mix the drained tomatoes with the garlic and olives. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the mixture, determined by the level of heat you enjoy. Mix in the olive oil and squeeze the juice from the lime. Add the cilantro and give a few twists of the pepper.

When spaghetti is done and drained, add to a large bowl and pour the tomato mixture on top. Mix well and enjoy!

This one was a big hit with my family. The uncooked tomato mixture heats up just slightly in the cooked pasta, making the flavors really wonderful.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Black Beans and Soyrizo

When my family took off for a day long outing, I prepared breakfast burritos the night before. Cooked up some potatoes and bell peppers and sauteed it with some soyrizo. I'd never had soyrizo before. I'd originally bought it with the idea to slice it and grill it, only to discover that just wasn't going to be possible. Soyrizo is already ground up and you squeeze it out of the casing to cook it. So, the idea of breakfast burritos came to mind. It was good!

So when I came across a recipe in an old magazine calling for soyrizo, I thought, cool! I can try it again in a different way!

Black Beans and Soyrizo

Olive oil
One green bell pepper, diced
One onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 c. vegetable stock
One can diced tomatoes
One package soyrizo
Limes, cut into wedges

Saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, cumin and salt in the olive oil until softened. Add the beans, stock, tomatoes and soyrizo and simmer about 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve over rice and squeeze a lime wedge over it. Enjoy!

My family is a fan of beans and rice, but this was a new twist on it for us. We particularly like yellow rice, so it is the variety I most often make when serving up beans.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spinach Stew

Today is the International Day of Non-Violence, so it seems appropriate that I should adapt a recipe from The Peaceful Cook. It was one of the first cookbooks I ever bought when I became vegan (even though the book is lacto-vegetarian and not vegan) and the first time I ever heard of Braggs Aminos.

Spinach Stew

One bunch of organic spinach
Olive oil
1/2 t. dry mustard
2 t. Dijon mustard
One can diced tomatoes
2 T. dill seeds
1 T. Braggs Aminos
2 c. pasta

Dice the spinach and saute in olive oil until wilted. Add remaining ingredients and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Check periodically to see if you need to add more water to make it soupy. Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Collard Greens in Phyllo, Avocado Shooters and Parsnip Fries

I grew up eating collards. I know people who turn up their nose at anything remotely spinachy looking. Not me. Must be a Southern thing.

However, I bet that even if you are one of those that shudder at the thought of dark green leafy things, you will like these.

Collard Greens in Phyllo

One bunch of fresh collards
One shallot
Olive oil
One elephant garlic clove
1-1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
Phyllo dough sheets, thawed
One pear, sliced thin

Tear the collards from the stem and compost the stems. Add the collards, shallot and garlic to a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped. Saute this mixture in olive oil until tender. Stir in the vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Coat a cookie sheet with a cooking spray. Lay out a sheet of the phyllo and brush with olive oil. Top with another sheet and brush with olive oil again. Do this a third time. Spoon a heaping spoonful of the collards mixture in one corner of the stacked and oiled phyllo sheets. Top with a slice of pear. Begin folding in a triangle until all of the phyllo has been used. Lay this triangle on the cookie sheet, and begin the process again until you have used up all of the collards mixture. I got about five. Brush these triangles with more olive oil.
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Avocado Shooters

2 cloves of garlic
One jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
2 T. lime juice
1/2 t. hot sauce
2 c. plain rice or soy milk
1/2 c. fresh cilantro
1/4 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped

Add everything but the olive oil and onion to a blender and blend on high until everything is smooth.
In a skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil until softened. Add the avocado puree to the onions and gently simmer until it is heated through. Serve in shot glasses with a dollop of vegan sour cream on top.

For those of us who love guacamole, this is like hot guacamole, sipped instead of scooped.

Parsnip Fries

3-4 parsnips
Olive oil
1/2 T. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 T. ground turmeric
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Using a potato peeler, shave off strips of parsnip lengthwise. In a ziploc baggie, add the parsnip strips, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Massage the parsnip strips to coat well. Bake for 10 minutes at 400.
Combine the spices and sprinkle on the parsnips strips. Continue to bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir to make sure everything again is well coated.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Moment of Squee

I was home alone when someone knocked on the door. Curious, I wasn't expecting anyone. I heard a heavy vehicle drive away before I reached the door. I opened the door anyway, even more curious, to discover a package leaning against my doorstep.

I picked it up to see who in my household had gotten a package. It was me! Me? I hadn't ordered anything.

I opened it up to reveal something wonderful! The new Forks Over Knives Cookbook! A gift from my beautiful friend, Melissa. It was her very generous way of thanking me for supporting her on her path toward veganism. Thank you so much, Melissa! I love you!

If you are unfamiliar with Forks Over Knives, truly you need to familiarize yourself with it! I suggest watching the dvd, but if you would rather, the book is another excellent way to go. Or get both!

Even Fergus is licking his chops, imagining all the deliciousness that will soon transpire. Seriously. We call him our vegetarian cat due to his penchant for chomping on anything leafy.

I'm leaving soon for a weekend long women's retreat, where I will be finding more zen. Once I return, I will again regale you with my cooking adventures. And be certain to expect a few from this most appreciated gift of love!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kale Chips

It was my son Pete (of Pete's Nacho Awesomeness fame) who first introduced me to kale. A woman he knows cooked up a batch and brought it to him at work. He raved to me about how delicious it was, and proceeded to cook up a batch here at home for me to try. He was right! Pretty darn good stuff!

A few months ago we had the pleasure of attending the local Veggiefest and got the chance to watch and sample a cooking demonstration (although using the word *cooking* in this instance is incorrect, since the dish was raw!) by a local chef. She whipped up a mouth watering kale salad and then let us sample some kale chips she had brought. Melt in your mouth!

Since Pete regularly buys kale (he often eats it raw, he loves it so much!), we decided we'd try our hand at making kale chips.

Kale Chips

One head of kale, washed
2 T. olive oil
Sea salt

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into pieces. Add the kale pieces and the olive oil to a ziploc baggie and seal. Massage the olive oil into the kale until all pieces appear to be equally coated. Spread the kale pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 275 for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the sea salt. Enjoy!

The trick is making sure the kale pieces are small, no more than about 2 inches. Otherwise they will still be yummy, but not crispy. It doesn't make a lot, and once you eat one you won't be able to stop. Be prepared to have to whip up another batch pronto!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pete's Nacho Awesomeness

I have to say it - my youngest is pretty awesome. He will often come home from work and offer to cook. How many kids do that? And the beauty of it is, he's really pretty good! Not only is he gorgeous, but he can cook, too!

One of his specialties is a very simple nacho dish. We eat it a few times a year, and he decided to make it the other day. I can't explain it, but for some reason, this time he made it it just seemed exceptionally good! I told him we were officially changing the name of the recipe to Pete's Nacho Awesomeness!

One bag of corn chips
One green bell pepper, diced
One bunch of green onions, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
One can of sliced black olives
2 avocados, diced

Lay the corn chips on a baking sheet and top with the green pepper, green onions, tomatoes and black beans. Broil about 7-10 minutes, but watch closely to make sure the corn chips don't burn. Top with olives and avocados and serve.

You can sprinkle some Daiya shreds on it you like, or add some vegan sour cream. You can do this, of course, but honestly these nachos are so good without them you might decide not to.

Have extra chips on hand, because you won't want to lose a bit of the tasty veggies.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cauliflower Potato Soup

With fall days slowly moving in, the desire for soup increases. There is something that says *all is well* about a homemade soup.

Cauliflower Potato Soup

One onion, sliced
Five potatoes, cut into chunks
3 stalks of celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
One head of cauliflower, cut into florets
One bunch of collard greens, center rib removed and leaves chopped
4 c. vegetable broth

Add all of the ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes. When potatoes and carrots and fork tender, it's done. Serve with a generous splash of Bragg's Aminos and buttered bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Fare

I love when the seasons change, and spring and fall are my two favorite. Pleasant temps, wonderful smells and beautiful colors! I am so ready for cooler temps now. Where I live the summers get pretty hot (read: understatement!) and when fall finally rolls around, we are all so very ready for it.

So, of course, I wanted to celebrate it with some that reminds me of fall, but would be light, since it is still warm here.

Salad with Spiced Cornbread

One package cornbread mix, or use your own favorite recipe
Mixed salad greens
1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. vegan butter
1 T. vegan sugar
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice

Make the cornbread. I chose to use a packaged mix and baked it in iron cornbread pans that shape the cornbread like little corn cobs.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the salad greens and mix well.
Melt the butter and brush over the tops of the cornbread. Mix together the sugar and pumpkin pie spice and sprinkle this mixture over the buttered cornbread. Place a piece of the cornbread on a plate and top with the dressed salad greens.

Fruity Soup

3-1/2 c. red grape juice (or pomegranate juice)
A piece of tangerine peel
1/2 t. dried cilantro (aka coriander)

Heat the juice until just before boiling and remove from heat. Add the tangerine peel and cilantro. When ready to serve, ladle through a sieve into bowls.

Fruit Sorbet

One package frozen cranberries
One package frozen raspberries
1-1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar

Bring the cranberries in 1 c. of water and the sugar to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook about five minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 c. water and raspberries. Allow to cool a bit. Place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a pan, cover and freeze. When ready to serve, scoop out into bowls.

This was a very light meal but filling.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Low Country Boil aka Frogmore Stew, Vegan Style

Low country boils are associated with South Carolina and Georgia, and being a native born southern girl, I grew up eating a lot of seafood. Knowing what I know now, how scientific studies have confirmed that fish have a complex nervous system and can feel physical pain, how fish immediately begin to suffocate when pulled from the water, and how the sudden pressure change can rupture their swim bladder, I just can't in good conscience justify eating seafood. Overfishing has created dead zones in the ocean, where no life exists. I can pluck an apple from a tree or a carrot from the ground; when we fish we deprive ocean mammals of their only source of food.

So how does one go about enjoying foods one grew up with, but in a cruelty-free and responsible manner?


Low Country Boil aka Frogmore Stew, Vegan Style

12 c. water
1/4 c. Old Bay Seasoning
6 red potatoes, washed
6 ears of corn
2 cloves of elephant garlic, sliced
One package vegan sausage (I used Field Roast Mexican Chipotle), cut into one inch pieces

This recipe uses a pressure cooker.

Add water, Old Bay and potatoes to the pressure cooker and close the lid. Bring to pressure and let cook 5 minutes. Quick release the pressure.
Add the corn, garlic and sausage, close the lid and bring to pressure once again. Cook 5 minutes and let pressure come down on its own.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can add all of the ingredients to a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook about 30 minutes. When potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, it's done.

Serve using a slotted spoon. It will be HOT! I added a little vegan butter to my potato and corn and nothing else.

Low country boils and Frogmore stew are the same dish - both have potatoes, corn and sausage. They differ from mine in that I don't include the shrimp. If you want to add some vegan shrimp to the dish, go ahead! I'm sure it will be absolutely delicious! I didn't have any on hand, so went with what I did, including the odd addition of the spicy Mexican Chipotle sausage. Any sausage would work.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Maple Seitan Chops, Two Ways

I recently picked up a copy of Jenn Shagrin's cookbook, Veganize This! I was very excited because the book gives recipes for flavoring seitan in ways that imitate meat. For those of us that grew up as meat eaters, and what I maintain now to non-vegans, it isn't the meat we miss, it is the flavors. So if I can find away to duplicate them cruelty-free, I'm all over it.

I chose to make the recipe for pork chops. Her flavoring broths are the key, and have a long list of ingredients. That has never put me off, so I set off for the task.

I made the seitan and broth as she outlines in the recipe. The smell was heavenly! Later, when I was frying the chops the first time, it very much reminded me of the smell of pork chops.

After that all resemblance ended, and I'll detail here my findings.

Maple Seitan Chops

Homemade seitan
2 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 T. grated ginger
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced

In my first attempt, I used Shagrin's recipe for the chops and cut the seitan into pie shaped wedges and smooshed them as flat as I could get. I fried them first in olive oil, then mixed up the above sauce recipe and added it to the frying pan. The maple sauce cooked up fast and became more glaze than sauce.

The result was a beautiful looking chop with a maple-y glaze. The wheat taste, however, was too pronounced for my liking.

Back to the drawing board. Some research into seitan chop recipes and reducing the wheat-y taste suggested adding chickpea flour to the mix. Other comments included making the seitan, not the broth, the flavor.

In my second attempt, I added 3:1 ratio of vital wheat gluten:chickpea flour and threw in some diced onion and garlic. I reused the broth from the first chops. The dough, despite my best efforts, was too damp to cut into the pie shapes, so I put the ball of uncooked seitan into the broth. After an hour and letting it cool a bit, I sliced it and put the sliced seitan into a baggie with the above sauce ingredients to marinate. I let it marinate overnight. I then fried the sliced seitan in olive oil.

The result was a more subtle maple flavor and no discernible wheat taste. I liked the flavor much better, but did love the pork chop shape from the first chops. I'll need to play around with it some more, but definitely feel the addition of chickpea flour to the vital wheat gluten makes for a better tasting product. I will probably leave out the onion and garlic and see it that makes it less wet and more manageable so I can cut it into a chop shape.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cajun Fried Tofu, Horseradish Mashed Potatoes and Creole Green Beans

In my pre-vegan days, it was not unusual for my husband to stop off at a local chicken place and bring home dinner. I was actually often grossed out by it, and tended to consume more of the rice and beans and biscuits than anything else. The spicy flavors, however, I did like.

I decided the other day I wanted some crispy fried tofu. Remembering those days of spicy goodness, I decided to try out something new.

Cajun Fried Tofu

One package extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, sliced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. hot sauce
1/4 c. water
1 c. flour
1 t. salt
Oil for frying

Combine mustard, hot sauce and water in a large ziploc baggie. Add the tofu pieces and let marinate overnight.
Combine flour and salt in another ziploc baggie. Add the marinated tofu pieces and shake until the tofu is well covered.
Fry in the hot oil until nicely browned on both sides.

My kids loved this, but I'll admit to it being much spicier than I like.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

9 potatoes, baked
1/4 c. vegan butter
3 T. horseradish
2 T. vegan sour cream
2 T. non-dairy milk
1/2 c. Daiya cheddar shreds
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

When potatoes have cooled, cut in half and remove the pulp. In a large bowl, mix the potato pulp with the remaining ingredients and mix well until it resembles mashed potatoes. Serve with a sprinkle of fake bacon bits.

Don't worry about the horseradish - it is very mild in this and you might not even really notice it.

Creole Green Beans

1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
2 T. flour
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/8 t. dry mustard
One can diced tomatoes
One can cut green beans, drained

Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are dissolved and everything is well mixed. Cook until sauce is thickened.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pasta with Garlic and Walnuts

We went out of town last weekend and returned to a series of crises. The most pressing was my daughter's brand new car being broken into and everything of value inside stolen, including her purse. I have spent the past couple of days helping her get everything squared away, so consequently, we've been eating out or convenience foods

That ended last night. I did want something quick and simple, though, and pasta is always my fallback plan.

Pasta with Garlic and Walnuts

1/2 c. olive oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 c. walnut pieces
One package pasta of choice (I used corkscrew)

Boil the noodles according to package directions. Drain. Place pasta in a large bowl.
Saute the garlic and walnuts in the olive oil. When garlic is softened, use a slotted spoon to scoop garlic and walnuts onto the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve. Enjoy!

Make sure you don't overcook the garlic, like I did. It gives it a bite like nobody's business! I thought this was a little bland and could use something else, but my son devoured it. Play with it and make it your own.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Simple Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

When you are in a hurry for supper, a lot of people, myself included, will grab a package of spaghetti, some canned or jarred spaghetti sauce, maybe a little something else to throw in for good measure, and call it done. It might feed everyone's hunger, but that's about it. No one ever walks away from such a meal and says, "Wow, that was fantastic!" It was quick, it was easy, it was probably cheap, but it wasn't delicious.

I like quick. I like easy. But I also want something that makes me sigh when I take the first bite.

Simple Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

One package pasta of choice (I prefer thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta)
3 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
3 T. olive oil
2 t. basil
1 t. salt
1 t. coarsely ground black pepper

Boil the noodles per the package directions. Drain and place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat the noodles well. Serve. Enjoy!

See? Now wasn't that quick? Wasn't that easy? And wasn't it better than that ol' jarred sauce?

Oriental Cole Slaw

How many college students have survived on ramen noodles, raise your hand! There is a myriad of ways to use these super cheap noodles beyond the simple boiling and tearing open the little seasoning packet.

One problem.

Most aren't vegan.

Sure, duh! you say, when they are labeled chicken or beef or shrimp. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the ones labeled Oriental. Read the ingredients for the seasoning packet and see for yourself. Only one brand that I know of is vegan, and finding it can sometimes be nigh impossible.

I know. I spent this week trying to track some down for my cole slaw recipe.

Out of desperation I went searching for a recipe to duplicate the seasoning packet. That way I could buy any brand for the noodles part alone. Success! I was able to find one and modify it.

Oriental Cole Slaw

One package cole slaw mix
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
One package ramen noodles, crushed
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. sesame oil
1 t. Oriental Ramen Noodle Seasoning (recipe to follow)

Mix everything in a bowl large enough to accommodate and stir to coat well. Chill to allow flavors to blend.

You can toast the almonds first if you like (I didn't) and I used raw sunflower seeds. If you use dry roasted, I'd eliminate the salt and be sure to check the label. Some name brands add gelatin.

Oriental Ramen Noodle Seasoning

2 T. onion powder
2 T. ground ginger
2 T. garlic powder
2 T. ground black pepper
1/2 t. Chinese five spice powder
1/2 t. salt

Mix all together, and store in an airtight container. Use 1 t. per package of ramen noodles.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Inside Out Burgers and Guacamole Potato Salad

A few years ago my father-in-law gave us one of the George Foreman grills for Christmas. I like it because it is easy to use, and doesn't require fire or my being outdoors in the heat and humidity. Granted, my hubby is the family grillmaster, but this is something I can do myself. Makes it convenient when I want a burger. Like today.

Inside Out Burgers

One package Lightlife Gimme Lean Beef (don't panic! It's vegan!)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 T. parsley
Sliced onion
Sliced tomato
Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
Dijon mustard
Pickle relish
Vegan mayonnaise
Whole wheat burger buns

In a bowl, mix together well the beef, salt, pepper and parsley. Divide to make six patties. On top of the first three patties place a slice of onion, a slice of tomato and a sprinkle of the Daiya. On the next three patties add a teaspoon each of the mustard, pickle relish and mayonnaise and spread it on to cover most of the patty. Place one patty with the condiments on top of one patty with the vegetables and cheese and press together lightly.
Grill the patties. On the George Foreman grill I did this for about five minutes, but if you are using a regular grill or frying in a frying pan, I would do about 4-5 minutes per side.
On a hamburger bun, lay on some lettuce and top with the grilled burger. Nothing more need be added.
Warning! These are delicious but MESSY! Keep plenty of  napkins handy and enjoy!

I like using the Gimme Lean beef and sausage. I find them more versatile than what I've used in the past. The Gimme Lean Beef makes enough for six regular sized patties. For these burgers, since two patties were used on each burger, it made three. Adjust accordingly.

Guacamole Potato Salad

Five pound bag of potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces (I rarely to never peel them)
One avocado, peeled and pit removed
Lime zest
2 limes
3 cloves garlic
Handful of cilantro
Vegan mayonnaise
2 celery stalks, sliced

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool
In a food processor, add the avocado, lime zest, juice from the two limes, garlic and cilantro. Pulse until everything is well blended and creamy.
In a large bowl, add the cooled potatoes, avocado sauce, celery and enough mayonnaise to coat. Stir gently until all the potatoes are well coated. Taste and add salt if necessary.
It will be a light, beautiful shade of green!

My hubby, besides being our resident grillmaster, also fancies himself our resident potato salad maker. He does make some awesome potato salad, I'll give him that! But I like to try different versions. He gave this one a thumbs up. Success!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You Say Catfish, I Say Tofish

I love cookbooks. I have two bookcases full of them. I also love reading through them at bookstores and the library. One recipe I spotted had the name tofish in the title. I rather like it. I have found it a simple matter to convert most fish dishes vegan using tofu. So, tofish works quite well!

Growing up in the South, catfish is probably the most often fish dish you'll find. Fried and blackened are the two most common ways to prepare it. I have several catfish recipes, mostly fried, of course, that I look forward to veganizing. This is one of those.

Front Porch Fried Tofish

One package black soybean tofu*, frozen, boiled, pressed, sliced
One package cornbread mix (I used sweet cornbread. See note.)
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. dried thyme
1/2 T. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 t. ground red pepper
Vegan milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour the milk in a separate bowl. Dip the tofu slices first in the milk, then into the cornbread dry mix and coat well. Fry a few pieces at a time in oil. When nicely browned, drain on paper towels. Serve as is, or with tartar sauce.

Note: read the ingredients on any packaged cornbread mix you buy. Many contain animal products. If you can't find a suitable one, make up your own.)

I used the sweet cornbread variety, but next time might try it with regular cornbread.

*I chose to use this new type of tofu I found, black soybean tofu. I was intrigued by it, never having seen its like before, so bought it with the idea of using it to fry up some *fish*. It isn't as white as regular tofu and has a sprinkling of black throughout. I liked it, and will buy it again, but I can't tell you whether or not it had a different taste.

You can't have fried *cat*fish without fries, and, never one for doing anything simply, I made mine spicy.

Mexican Fries

One package frozen french fries
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. chili powder

Bake the fries at 425 for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix together the three spices. After the 10 minutes are up, sprinkle the spices over the fries, and return to the oven to bake another 10 minutes. When done, shake the fries up a bit to further distribute the spices.

My family devoured it. No leftovers. Even my non-vegan son tried the tofish and declared it *pretty good!* I call that a success!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Herbed Lemon Chick'n

Finally I have been able to get back to cooking! I wear the wrist/hand brace only at night now, and my injured foot allows me to move about more. Ugh, how I hate injuries! My husband is threatening to buy me steel toed tennis shoes. He's joking, of course, but I am seriously considering making that purchase.

Herbed Lemon Chick'n

2 packages Gardein Chick'n Scallopini (yes, I'm addicted - I love this stuff!)
Olive oil
One onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. broth (I used one Edward and Sons Not-Chick'n bouillon cube in one cup of water)
1 T. dried parsley
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried basil
2 T. flour
2 T. water
One can sliced black olives

In a pressure cooker, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the scallopini and brown slightly. Add broth, parsley, lemon juice, oregano and basil. Cover and cook at pressure for 8 minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own. Once pressure has dropped, remove scallopini and put pressure cooker back on a burner on high. Add flour, water and olives, stirring and boiling until sauce is thickened. Serve the sauce over the scallopini. It also is good over rice.

I also made a couple of sides to go along with it.

Wine Sauteed Mushrooms

One package sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Vegan butter
1/4 c. dry red wine

Saute the mushrooms and garlic in the butter. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Lime Cucumbers

1/2 t. grated lime rind
1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
One large cucumber, peeled and sliced

Whisk together everything except the cucumbers. Pour this dressing over the sliced cucumbers and stir gently to coat well.

It was some darned good eating!
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