Most Cheese is NOT Vegetarian!

calf

This is what rennet looks like. Or should I say, this is what cheese looks like before it’s processed. 

A vast majority of cheese—both domestic and imported—is made with rennet, an enzyme in the lining of a calf’s stomach (lamb for sheep cheese, baby goat for goat cheese). Although, rennet is now being made from the stomachs of pigs, too. Nice huh? Bet many of you didn’t know that. Rennet is used to coagulate dairy products and even though there are non-animal sources of rennet, most cheese companies use the real thing. Via The Natural Connection, this is what a Kraft cheese representative said:

“Kraft Domestic Swiss Cheese (any Kraft Swiss not labeled “Imported” from a foreign country) is made with microbial rennet. Apart from Kraft Domestic Swiss Cheese, it is almost impossible for us to assure you that any hard cheese product which you might purchase from Kraft or any other American source is absolutely free of animal-derived enzymes.”

And did you know that there is only ONE vegetarian Parmigiano-Reggiano? In fact, most imported cheeses use rennet, too. So just buy cheese without rennet, you say? Good luck finding out just which cheeses are rennet-free based on their labels. Companies are not legally bound to disclose their source of rennet. If you’re lucky, the label will specifically state that their products contain a non-animal rennet, or say “suitable for vegetarians.” Another way is to buy certified kosher cheese.

And what kind of cheese do you think restaurants use? Most serve cheap, bulk cheese. Kraft, most likely. Find out next time you think you’re ordering a “vegetarian” meal. Chances are, it’s not vegetarian at all.

One thing that I think is very important for people to know, is that the dairy industry is just as cruel as the meat industry. How do you think cow’s milk is obtained? By keeping cows perpetually pregnant. The calves that are born are immediately taken from their mothers, often killed on the spot, and their stomachs are harvested.

First, I encourage you to kick the dairy habit, but if you don’t, at least know what’s in it. Here’s a list of dairy companies and whether or not they are vegetarian.

calf2

(Newborn calves are often thrown into a wheelbarrow and taken to a cage to await execution)

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

DSC07822

Lettuce wraps are a favorite around here, especially since we can be picky and add what toppings we want. Oh, and they’re fresh and easy to make. I suggest having all of your ingredients out, ready to go, and even chopped before anything else; it just makes life easier. I was inspired by a Vegetarian Times recipe, but I made lots of changes by adding ingredients and omitting some. That’s the beauty of these . . . they’re so versatile.

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

2 8oz pkg. tempeh, broken into chunks
5 large mushrooms, diced
1 can water chestnuts, chopped (I didn’t have any, but I would have used them if I did, so these are certainly optional)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C fresh mint, chopped
1/8 C lime juice
1 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs toasted brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp brown sugar

Sauce:

1/8 C lime juice
1/8 C water
1/8 C sugar
2 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs brown rice vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbs yellow  miso
salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings:

2 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into strips
Fresh basil, sliced into strips
1 C green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
1/2 C chopped peanuts and slivered almonds (also chopped)
12-16 large lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. To make the filling, pulse the tempeh in a food processor. Depending on your preference, you can pulse it until you’re left with course pieces, or process it a bit more like I did. It can be difficult to get a consistent texture if you want larger pieces.

DSC07818

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tempeh (and water chestnuts, if suing) and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook ten minutes. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients and heat thoroughly.

DSC07820

Since you were so efficient in your prep work . . .  ;-) you’re ready to fill the lettuce wraps! Place a scoop in the center of the lettuce leaf and add your favorite toppings, and drizzle with about a tablespoon of the sauce. Enjoy!

DSC07823

Creamy Dill and Chive Potato Salad

DSC07808

 

What better way to welcome spring than making a big bowl of potato salad?! We Coloradans have had enough of cold weather although we should be careful what we wish for because we’ll be in the mid-80s this week. Oh well, much better than snow.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs red potatoes, cubed

2 tsp Better than Bouillon paste (optional)

6 celery stalks, sliced

1 C green onions, sliced

1/2 C parsley, minced

Sauce:

1/2 C vegan mayo

1/3 C vegan sour cream

2 Tbs Dijon mustard

2 Tbs garlic powder

3 Tbs apple cider vinegar

1/2 C dill, chopped

1/2 C chives, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

DSC07803

DIRECTIONS:

I whisked together the bouillon paste and water in a large pot for some added flavor, but this is certainly optional. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until they are softened, but still firm. However, you may decide to cook them longer to make a softer salad, just keep in mind, that you could end up with a mashed potato salad, which isn’t the end of the world; it’ll actually make the salad even creamier (which is actually how mine turned out). It’s all a matter of preference. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the celery, green onions, and parsley; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, Dijon, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir in the dill and chives.

DSC07805

Once the potatoes are where you want them, drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the celery mixture.

DSC07806

 

I suppose you could actually combine the celery mixture and the sauce together first to save a step, as well as save the potatoes from being stirred too much. Either way, you get the idea. Fold in the sauce and chill for at least 2 hours, then enjoy!

 

Tofu Sliders

DSC07774

This recipe is from Vegetarian Times, but I made just a few alterations. The original recipe is called “Kung Pao Sliders,” but I’m not sure where the kung pao is because they weren’t spicy at all—the recipe only calls for an optional pinch of cayenne. The recipe also says it makes 16 sliders and I sliced the tofu the same way and ended up with just 14. Next time, I’ll actually just cut large slabs instead of using 2 per slider, because they were pretty small. If you want them to have more of a kick, I suggest adding more cayenne, or some sriacha to the slaw mixture. Ok, with all of that out of the way, I have to say, these were quite delicious. The slaw is really flavorful and any leftovers would be great eaten alone, or on some rice or noodles. I made some fries to go with them and it was a great meal. (I guess you can call it “Frasian” dining . . .)

INGREDIENTS:

Sliders:

1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, patted dry

4 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (I used tamari)

2 Tbs natural cane sugar

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp cornstarch

(I also added 1 Tbs yellow miso)

slider buns

Slaw:

3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

2 Tbs vegan mayo

2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

5 tsp natural cane sugar (I reduced this to 2 tsp)

2 Tbs rice vinegar

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 tsp black pepper

4 medium carrots, julienned* (I recommend 2 carrots, as there was a lot of slaw left—unless you’re fine with that)

2 medium (I recommend small ones) zucchini, julienned*

1/4 C dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Optional: sriacha or other hot sauce for some heat

*Another option is to use a peeler and make ribbons of carrots and zucchini—this can be much easier than julienning them.

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making this a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the tofu to marinate and give yourself plenty of prep time. The recipe says to cut the tofu into 8 slices lengthwise; halve the slices to make 16 pieces. I did the best I could. (Again, next time I’ll make larger cuts)

DSC07764

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, cane sugar, toasted sesame oil and cornstarch. (This is also where I added in the miso). Pour about a third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place the tofu squares in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the tofu to coat it.

DSC07765

Cover and chill while you prepare the slaw. Basically, whisk together all of the slaw ingredients (minus the veggies and peanuts) in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots, zucchini, and peanuts. Cover and chill.

DSC07767

Preheat oven to 375. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and transfer the tofu to the sheet. The recipe says to drain the tofu, but I just poured the marinade over the tofu.

DSC07768

Bake 20-25 minutes, then flip and bake 15-20 minutes. I reduced the times a little from the original recipe because mine seemed to bake pretty fast. Every oven runs different, so just check them often to make sure they’re not burnt to a crisp. On to assembling them . . .

DSC07770

Add about 2 Tbs of slaw and you’re ready to eat! Enjoy!

DSC07775

Sunshine Award!

sunshine-award

I was pleasantly surprised to receive the Sunshine Award from V 8 Mile who has a great vegetarian/vegan blog. Be sure to check it out. This is such a great way to get connected with other bloggers and see what they’re cooking up. V 8 Mile lists some other great blogs and I’m looking forward to checking them out. So thank you, V 8! I appreciate the nomination! Now, onto the Sunshine Award questions . . . (which I may have, kind of, sort of deviated from the normal ones):

1. What is one of your favorite quotes?

I have so many, but I love this one from the late, the great, Dr. Seuss. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~ The Lorax

2. What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning, around 6:30. The sun is beginning to warm everything up and it’s just a new day that can be whatever you want it to be.

3. What is your favorite holiday?

I have to agree with V 8 Mile on this one . . . I love Halloween. There are so many reasons why. For one, I love the fall time and even though we routinely get dumped on with snow—at least it seems that way—there’s just something about it. Costumes, party food, carving pumpkins! You name it!

4. What is your passion in life?

Everyone should know what their passion in life is (ideally, the sooner the better)! You may even have more than one. I love writing, art, music, veganism, creating anything with my hands, and helping those in need (both human and animal). I recently came across this amazing TED Talk  from Kathleen Taylor called, “Rethinking the Bucket List.” I love what she had to say. It’s worth the 10 minutes of your time. I also just attended the Northern Colorado Writers Conference and our keynote speaker was Andrew McCarthy—-yes, the cutie from “Pretty in Pink.” He’s also a writer and said that each and every one of us are creative and every time we don’t honor that, and plop ourselves in the front of the TV and veg, our creativity rots. So true.

4. What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

What?! I’ve never heard of such a thing! ;-) Ok, so I sure like my vino, but I also love an almond milk latte . . . or a hot mug of vegan chai . . . while we’re at it, my least favorite is water, but, for the last month, I make sure I drink 64-100 ounces of water a day. My trick? Warm lemon water. First thing in the morning, I heat up some water and fill up the large Nalgene bottle—even before my coffee! Using this method, I’m usually able to knock out 64 ounces before noon. (Your skin will thank you).

5. Where are you on Facebook and Twitter?

I know, not a very deep question, but hey, we’ll get it out of the way. Twitter (I tweet very little, however): @EpicureanVegan and my Facebook page can be found HERE.

6. Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

Well, alive and healthy for one—or is that two? All right, so I hope to be making a living as a writer and illustrator, and/or owning my own vegan store (which by the way, may or may not already be in the works ;-) ) Really, all I can ask for is happiness and good health for my friends and family.  And lots of good, cheap wine.

7. Do you have a unique way of eating food that isn’t common?

I don’t know if it’s unique or not (The Husband calls it weird), but I like to slice an avocado in half, sprinkle a little salt on top and eat it out of the rind with a spoon.

8. What are the last four books you’ve read?

Well, that’s easy . . . (Thanks, Goodreads)!

*Just finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

* The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, by Andrew McCarthy

* The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller

* Bucking the Sun, by Ivan Doig (My all-time favorite author, by the way . . . in case you wanted to know)

9. How did your blog come about?

In November of 2009, I had picked up Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook, The Kind Diet (who hasn’t?) and began my vegan journey. Then in January 2010, while laid up after having my appendix out and nothing else to do but feel like a bloated whale on the couch, WordPress beckoned to me and Epicurean Vegan was conceived. (That sounded so romantic, huh?)

10.) What are your (vegan) “junk food” weaknesses?

Oh, man, Amy’s Kitchen makes this incredible mac and cheese that is gluten-free, vegan, and soy free that is absolutely to die for. Those darn things have 520 calories and a bit o’ fat and sodium. It’s ridiculous, but so good. I actually had to wean myself off of them and I haven’t had one in probably eight months, but I know how to get them! (At least they’re organic and non GMO, right?)

Now, on to my nominations . . . (Check them out!)

That Was Vegan?

Gypsy Roller’s Veggie Kitchen

The Cruelty-Free Review

JL Goes Vegan

Change for a Year

In Fine Balance

Luminous Vegans

Healthy Girl’s Kitchen

My Good Clean Food

Vegan Circles

Veggie Bowties with Mushrooms and Walnuts

DSC07758

This always makes for a great, quick lunch—or even a few lunches. I love veggie pastas and this one, from Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, is made up of spinach, beets, and red bell pepper. Aside from the wonderful flavor, it doesn’t hurt that there are 8 grams of protein per serving (1/4 C), as well as vitamin C and iron.

DSC07755

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz vegetable bowtie (farfalle) pasta

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1/2 C walnuts, chopped

2 Tbs Earth Balance

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. In the meantime, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the walnuts and saute them 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown; season with salt and pepper. Combine the mushroom mixture with the pasta and if needed, season with more salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Alfredo Ravioli (and a beautiful white morning)

DSC07671

First, I had to snap a few pictures this morning of the snow because by tomorrow, most of it will be gone. This is a photog’s dream and the time I love snow—so beautiful.

DSC07683

DSC07688

So anyway, as you probably know, I go through phases when I discover certain meals. For example, when I discovered stuffed peppers, I made about 10 different versions . . . same with frittatas and tofu scrambles. Now I’m on to my latest obsession: Ravioli. At least I have the process down to a science so preparation goes a lot smoother. I was hankering for some of this Alfredo sauce, but I was also craving ravioli. Typically, I don’t like to pair ravioli with a heavy sauce, but to hell with rules; this was too good not to try. I changed up the dough a little because I didn’t have enough semolina flour and it worked out nicely. These are stuffed with tofu ricotta and fresh spinach—a fabulous combo. For a more in-depth description on using a ravioli plate, check out this version.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1 C semolina flour

2 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C almond milk, warm

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling:

14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1/3 C Daiya mozzarella (optional)

2 C chopped spinach

Sauce:

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs pine nuts

1-1/2 C water

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/16 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Start with making the dough. In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the almond milk and oil. Using a spoon, or your hands, combine well. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic, and set aside.

Next, throw together the ricotta. Combine all of the ingredients, except the spinach and cheese, in a food processor and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the spinach and cheese. Set aside.

DSC07666

Next, roll out the dough. I used my pasta maker, but you may certainly use a rolling pin. Lay one long sheet over the ravioli mold and fill each pocket with just over a teaspoon of filling.

DSC07667

Lay another thin sheet of dough over the top, press down and use a rolling pin to seal the edges. Again, refer to this post on how to use a ravioli plate. Place the raviolis on a baking sheet and repeat the process until you have used up all of the filling. I had just a small amount of dough left, but not much. I had 75 raviolis when it was all said and done. Cover and set aside.

DSC07670

Time to make the sauce. Using a blender, grind the cashews and pine nuts to a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until completely smooth—about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stir in the black pepper. I sauteed the mushrooms first, then stirred them into the sauce.

dsc07562

Keeping the sauce warm on very low heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. I cooked about 12-15 raviolis at a time for about 4-5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, place them in a strainer. Serve immediately, or lay them out on a large pan, otherwise, they’ll stick to each other. You can drizzle a little olive oil on them as well, to keep them separated. Ladle on some sauce and enjoy!

DSC07674

DSC07691

Snow Day on May 1st!

DSC07662

YESTERDAY

DSC07676

TODAY

So apparently, May 1st is the new News Year’s. Schools were even canceled. There is over 6″ there and it’s still coming down. And our poor trees and shrubs! Heavy, wet snow is never a good thing for them. 

DSC07678

Moe threw his brakes on when he came outside and realized what he was in for. “What the . . .  again?”

DSC07680

Happy snow day!

DSC07677

Vegan “Buttermilk” Cornbread (And more snow on the way)

DSC07659

When I made chili and cornbread last week when it was snowy, I figured it was going to be the last hurrah for cold weather and it’d be a while before I’d be making chili again. Wrongo, Bucko. The forecast is calling for another 3-6 inches! What in the hell is going on with Colorado weather? We had just put away the plastic sheeting and boards we used to cover the veggie boxes, so now we have to drag them out again. Amazingly, my peas have survived the previous onslaughts of snow . . .

DSC07663

As has the spinach and kale . . .

DSC07664

I’m really not happy about this weather, but at least it’s expected to be gone by Friday. It does give me an excuse to whip up some of our new favorite soup for tomorrow night’s dinner. I’m also thrilled it will be gone for the weekend since we are headed to Boulder for a weekend getaway which will include another amazing dinner at The Black Cat. So if you’re experiencing the same discombobulated weather, I think you’ll enjoy this delicious cornbread. The Eighth Grader found this recipe and together, we veganized it, made a few changes, and he threw it all together. Easy to make and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C Earth Balance
1/3 C sugar (we cut the original amount in half)
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer + 4 Tbs warm water
1 C almond milk + 1-1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (to make the “buttermilk”)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C cornmeal
1 C flour
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar; combine it well with the butter. Add the egg-replacer, the milk/cider combo, and the baking soda. Combine well, then whisk in the cornmeal, flour, and salt. You’ll have a thick batter.

DSC07653

Pour into a lightly greased, 8″ baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

DSC07656

Slice and enjoy!

DSC07658

Vegan Baked Jalapeno Poppers

DSC07651

The Eighth Grader and I have been wanting to try making these for a while, but we kept forgetting. We were to bring an appetizer to a dinner the other night and finally! I remembered these. Not only that, our friends love jalapenos, so these were ideal. They were literally gone in about 5 minutes. They were so easy to make, too, so I’ll be bringing them to the next get together.

INGREDIENTS:

10 jalapeno peppers

Filling:

6-oz vegan cream cheese
1/2 C Daiya cheese shreds (I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2-3  Tbs vegan bacon bits

Coating:

Egg-replacer powder + water
almond milk

Breading:

3/4 C flour (any variety)
4 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 to 1-1/2 C panko

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients, except the bacon bits, in a mixer. Once well incorporated, fold in the bacon bits; set aside. To prepare the peppers, cut the tops off and slice the peppers in half, length-wise. Clean out the insides, reserving any seeds you may want to keep (for heat).

DSC07646

To prepare the coating, I didn’t measure out the egg-replacer powder and water .  .  . sorry. But I can tell you, I used about 1/3 C of Ener-G Egg Replacer and created a thick, meringue-like consistency by whisking in some water. I then combined it with about 1/2 to 3/4 C of almond milk.  Next, combine the flour and nutritional yeast in a shallow bowl.

DSC07647

In another shallow bowl, pour in the panko. So here’s the process:

Fill the pepper halves with some cream cheese filling, roll it in the milk, then the flour filling, then the panko. Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.

DSC07649

Repeat with remaining peppers. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown. I threw them under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Enjoy!

DSC07651

And guess what . . .  it’s snowing! Again! I’m so over it.

DSC07655

Luckily, the veggies we planted in March are doing fine. Of course, we had to cover them again last night, but we should only be getting 3 inches at the most.  I suppose the good thing is that this will help with this summer’s fire danger. But still . . . why can’t it just rain?!

Vegan Deep Dish Pizza

DSC07644

 

There are certainly more than one way to make pizza—this one in a 9×13″ baking dish, plus you can use whatever pizza toppings you want. I used Pillsbury’s pizza crust, and yes, I know . . . even though it’s vegan, it’s not the healthiest food, but it’s definitely not a staple at our house and it worked perfect for this meal. Whichever crust you decide to use, you’ll enjoy this deep dish classic!

DSC07632

INGREDIENTS:

1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust

1 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips, then cut in half

2 small zucchini, sliced thin

2 C mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

24 slices of veggie pepperoni

1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Daiya cheese mozzarella shreds

Optional: 2 Field Roast sausages, Italian flavor, crumbled

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and then add the garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

DSC07633

 

Add the can of tomatoes and combine well. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

DSC07637

Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish with the pizza dough. It doesn’t need to be perfect—as seen by mine . . .

DSC07634

 

Bake for 6-8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Next, sprinkle a little Daiya cheese on the crust, then spoon the veggie mixture on top of the crust. I left a little bit of an edge all the way around.

DSC07640

Top with some more Daiya cheese and the veggie pepperoni.

DSC07641

Bake for 20 minutes. Cut and enjoy!

DSC07642

Time for Thawing

DSC07620

This was yesterday. Yep. And those three square-ish mounds you see, are my veggie boxes. Two of which contain sprouts of peas, kale, and spinach. Fortunately, we covered them with wood planks and plastic, but it remains to be seen if they survived. This freak snowstorm dumped over 20″ of snow on us over 3 days and now the big melt has commenced. Our indoor seedlings, however, are going strong. It’s nice to see some greenery somewhere . . .

DSC07629

The rosemary seems to be a late bloomer . . .

DSC07630

Due to a cold I picked up this week, I didn’t whip up any soups, or bake any breads—what a missed opportunity! :-( Oh well, at least I’m feeling better and things are beginning to melt outside. I wasn’t totally unproductive; I did get some other blogging done . . . I’ll return tomorrow with a brand new recipe!

DSC07611

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

DSC07588

 

Colorado weather has been staying true to form, showing us just how schizophrenic it can be in the springtime. We’ve had 70 degree days and suddenly, we’re hitting the 20s and getting snow. Yesterday was one of those bone-chilling days which always makes me want to put on a pot of soup. I love experimenting with soups because it’s so easy. I have to say, this is probably one of my favorites—rich, creamy, and flavorful. I was already told that I need to make it again soon, and the Eighth Grader actually took leftovers to school today for lunch. He never takes leftovers! After a warm up this weekend, we are expected to get some more rain/snow next week, so I just may have to make this again. Darn. ;-)

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

2-3 celery stalks, sliced thin

1 medium onion, diced

7 C vegetable broth

1 C wild rice mix (I used Whole Foods 365 Everyday brand)

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, grated

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

4 Tbs Earth Balance

6 Tbs flour (any variety)

2 C almond milk

DSC07581

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil then add the garlic; cook 1 minute. Add the celery and onions and cook 3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.

DSC07582

Add the broth, rice and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook another 15 minutes, or until they soften, but are still a little firm. Stir in the carrots and nutritional yeast.

DSC07584

Meanwhile, to make the roux, melt the Earth Balance in a medium pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. You’ll have a thick, batter-like consistency. Slowly add the almond milk—a little at time—and continue to stir until it is all incorporated and thickens. This shouldn’t take more than 8-10 minutes.

DSC07585

Remove and discard the bay leaves, then slowly pour the roux into the soup and combine well. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

DSC07587

 

Mock Tuna Salad

DSC07577

I never like to spend a lot of time preparing lunch, which can make it difficult to come up with something. Not only is this easy to throw together, but it makes plenty for a few lunches. The recipe is adapted from 1000 Vegan Recipes. If you’re not a fan of garbanzo beans, I suggest trying white beans instead. I also added chopped cashews, but sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, or pepitas would also be great. Cucumber can be subbed in for the celery as well and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast wouldn’t hurt either. Miss the omegas? Toss in some flax seeds! The recipe calls for 1 tsp of kelp powder and of course, the only amount I could buy was a pound. A pound of kelp powder?! Sure! I put that on . . . and . . .What do you use kelp powder for? (besides mock tuna salads)? Well first of all, it helps to know that kelp powder is loaded with health benefits. According to Livestrong.com it helps lower LDL cholesterol, lowers breast cancer risk, lowers blood sugar, and is a great source of iodine. After some research, I found it’s great to throw it in  your smoothie, sprinkle it on your veggie sushi rice, add it to bread dough, and even use it as a seasoning—in place of salt. What do you use kelp powder for? 

DSC07576

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans garbanzo or white beans

2 stalks celery or 1/2 C cucumber, chopped small

1/4 C minced onion

1/2 C cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pepitas, chopped

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 tsp capers, drained and chopped

1/2 C Vegenaise (or other vegan mayo)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp kelp powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

Lettuce leaves

Tomato slices

8 slices of bread

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the beans, or chopped them up on a cutting board. Add the celery (or cucumber), onions, nuts, capers, mayo, lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast, and kelp powder. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like. Combine thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve on bread with the lettuce and tomato and enjoy!

Cashew Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus

DSC07564

 

The Alfredo recipe is from The Kind Life and is probably the best vegan Alfredo sauce I’ve tried thus far. The taste and consistency is perfect. The only thing I added was some nutritional yeast and some sliced mushrooms. Paired with the asparagus, it was a fantastic meal!

INGREDIENTS:

Alfredo:

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs pine nuts

1-1/2 C water

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/16 tsp nutmeg

1-1/2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 C nutritional yeast

4 C pasta (I used 16 oz of orecchiette, a.k.a “suction cup pasta)

1 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced

Asparagus:

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed

1-2 Tbs olive oil

Salt

DSC07560

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, coat the asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt; set aside. To make the sauce, grind the nuts in a blender until you reach a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until completely smooth—about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stir in the black pepper and mushrooms. It won’t take long to thicken up and stir it often to keep it from burning.

DSC07562

 

Transfer the asparagus to a baking sheet and as soon as you add your pasta to a pot to boil it, throw the asparagus in the oven. Incidentally, they’re both take about 14 minutes to cook.

DSC07559

Turn the asparagus halfway through—about 7 minutes. Cook another 7 minutes.

DSC07572

Perfect!

Drain the pasta and serve with sauce ladled on top. (The Eighth Grader cut up his asparagus and added it to the pasta and loved it). Enjoy!

DSC07570

 

Gluten-Free Burrito Bowls with Avocado-Lime Rice

DSC07555

This is my new favorite versatile meal. I saw this recipe for the avocado rice, where they also suggested making burrito bowls using it. Obviously, I wasn’t keen on their meat and dairy version, so I made my own, healthier ones. I also made some changes to the rice recipe by using this awesome rice from Lundberg. The guys tend to be white rice kind of men, but there were no complaints! It’s a blend of sweet brown rice, short grain brown rice, long grain brown rice, whole grain Wehani (brand) rice, whole grain black Japonica (brand) rice.

DSC07544

And I have to mention the quite ingenious Velcro re-closeable bag!

DSC07545

This is such a fresh, simple, and healthy meal where everyone in the family can create their own with their favorite fresh ingredients. Now, my new favorite ingredient . . . is this tri-bean blend. Organic and on sale for $1 a can! Love these. Packed with protein and fiber.

DSC07541

So, on to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 6 bowls)

Rice:

3-1/2 C water

2 C Lundberg Jubilee rice

2 avocados, mashed

1/2 C cilantro, chopped

zest and juice from one lime

The beans:

3 cans tri-bean blend (black bean, pinto, and kidney)

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp Ancho Chili pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 C water

The rest (toppings):

Green onion, sliced

Tomato, diced

Daiya cheese

Sour cream

Lettuce, chopped

Salsa

Corn tortilla crunchies/chips

DIRECTIONS:

The rice will take 35-40 minutes, so you’ll want to get that started first. Bring the 3-1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Check after 30 minutes.

DSC07551

Meanwhile, in a small to medium saucepan, add the beans, seasonings, and water. Heat on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

DSC07549

When the rice is done, stir in the mashed avocados, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

DSC07552

Fill a bowl with about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of the avocado rice . . .

DSC07554

 . . . layer on some beans and toppings and enjoy!

DSC07556

Homemade Gluten-Free Ravioli

DSC07517

Nothing says Easter like ravioli, right? Well, if you’re vegan and some of your dinner guests can’t eat gluten, then yes, raviolis are an ideal Easter meal—or for any occasion, actually. In all of the excitement, I didn’t get a good picture of the finished product with the amazing garlic-butter-walnut sauce, but I did get one with some regular raviolis that I made as well.

DSC07521

In addition to the raviolis, one guest brought some delicious vegan horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and another guest brought this incredible corn and avocado salad.  So, I was living on the edge when I decided to not do a test run on the gluten-free dough before the big day. Luckily, it turned out ok, but not before having a slight meltdown when the GF dough wouldn’t fully cooperate with me. First off, don’t try using your pasta maker; the dough will fall apart. You’re better off using a rolling pin and lots of GF flour to roll it out. Believe me, it’s doable and worth the extra effort; just be patient. I also recommend using a ravioli plate like this one—and that goes for any type of raviolis—it just makes life easier. For the filling, I made two: pureed beet/cashew and tofu ricotta with spinach and mushrooms. Make it easy on yourself and prepare these fillings ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use. If I was unable to eat gluten, I would miss homemade pasta, especially raviolis, so I’d be making these all the time. Our GF guests loved them and happily took the few leftovers home with them. My friend Kerrie gave me a conversion for GF flour and regular flour a while back and uses it for most things, so I thought I’d give it a whirl for pasta. Basically, for every 1 cup of regular flour, use 7/8 C of rice flour and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum—worked like a charm.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1-3/4 C white rice flour

7/8 C brown rice flour

3 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 C warm almond milk

2 Tbs olive oil

Spinach-Tofu-Mushroom Filling:

14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 C nutritional yeast

2 Tbs lemon juice

3 C fresh spinach, chopped

3 mushrooms, diced small

Beet/Cashew filling: see link above

Garlic-Butter-Walnut sauce: (I was feeding a crowd, so for 3-4 people, you may want to halve the sauce recipe)

1-1/2 C walnuts, chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1-1/2 C Earth Balance margarine, cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS:

To make the spinach filling, puree the first 9 ingredients in food processor. Set aside, or refrigerate until ready to use. The beet filling will take just over an hour to prepare, so keep that in mind if using that one. (click on link above to see instructions).

DSC07511

To make the dough, combine both rice flours, xanthan gum, and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. On medium speed, slowly add the oil, then the warm almond milk. When it’s fully incorporated, form it into a ball and refrigerate if not using right away. The dough will probably work better if it’s room temperature.

DSC07516

On a constantly-floured surface, roll out the sections of the dough into long pieces, big enough for your ravioli plate. I wouldn’t bother using the plastic mold part, as it will easily break through the dough. Gently use your fingers to create a small dip where the filling will go. Fill each dip with about a teaspoon of the filling. If using the spinach one, place a few pieces of mushroom on top of the filling. Roll out another long piece of dough and place it carefully over the top of the filling and gently press down. You can use the rolling pin to then finish the process. (This is a great YouTube video showing how to use the plate). Here’s a pic of the regular dough with the fillings:

DSC07520

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out. A couple of them had some a filling peeking out, but they still cooked up great.

DSC07517

Let them sit for 20 minutes. While this is happening, prepare the sauce. In a medium, dry saucepan, add the walnuts and brown them over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the Earth Balance. Stir over low to medium heat until the butter is melted and reduce the heat to low.  To cook the raviolis, boil them, about 4-6 at a time, for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the surface. I usually give them a minute more, just to make sure they’re heated though.

DSC07522

I’m happy to tell you that none of them fell apart and they were delicious. The regular ones seemed to taste a little sweeter, but otherwise, they tasted very much like regular raviolis! Top them with a ladle of the garlic sauce and enjoy!

Roman Pasta Soup with Potatoes

DSC07507

This is definitely a carb-lover’s soup! You certainly don’t have to use pasta and potatoes, but I think they work really well together in this soup. I used to make this soup a lot about ten or twelve years ago, but sort of forgot about it, especially since it used real bacon, but like most meat dishes, this one is easy to veganize. It’s incredibly easy to make and versatile, too. I think some chopped kale or mushrooms would be great additions.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 veggie bacon slices, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

8-9 C vegetable broth

3 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced

2 C pasta shells, uncooked

Black pepper, to taste

Daiya mozzarella

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and veggie bacon and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cook another 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are slightly tender. Add the pasta and cook 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through. Season with black pepper and serve with Daiya cheese on top. Enjoy!

Buffalo Cauliflower Potato Pizza

DSC07480

This is going to blow your mind. This turned out to be the most amazing pizza—ever. I was inspired by Kelly over at Vegan Thyme who made this using Gardein, but because Gardein never seems to agree with me, I thought I’d sub in cauliflower. A friend had made buffalo “wings” from cauliflower and used this recipe from PETA. If anything, try the wings—they are incredible! (just double it if you’re feeding a crowd). March Madness, anyone? Can I tell you how excited we are that our CSU Rams have advanced?! GO RAMS!!

rams

So, making cauliflower wings is definitely going to add to your prep time, so I recommend enlisting some help. That’s why you had kids, right? The Eighth Grader was a great sous chef. I also made several changes to the original, just based on what I had on hand, so feel free to tweak the recipe. This recipe is going to require a certain timing of tasks, but thankfully, they’re all easy to do. So, get ready for some amazing pizza that you won’t mind making again and again!

INGREDIENTS:

Wings:

1 C almond milk

1 C flour (any variety)

2 tsp garlic powder

1 head cauliflower, chopped into pieces

1 C buffalo wing sauce (I used Wing Time)

1 Tbs olive oil or Earth Balance, melted

Dough: (I made a quick, no-rise pizza dough. So if you like a thin crust, crispy dough, this is a good one to use. Otherwise, if you have more time, I recommend a yeast-based one).

2-1/2 C flour

2-3/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs olive oil

3/4 C to 1 C warm water

Pizza:

3 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thin (my sous chef used a potato chip slicer—major time saver)!

3/4 C red onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp black pepper

5 mushrooms, diced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 tsp olive oil

Daiya mozzarella, optional

Vegan ranch dressing (Try Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch or make your own)

Sauce:

2 Tbs flour

1/3 C warm water

3 Tbs Earth Balance

1 C vegetable broth, warmed up

Dash or two of red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

So, first off, prep the potatoes. Once they’re sliced, place in a bowl of water with 1 tsp of salt and let sit for 30-45 minutes. This is a good time to make the dough and chop up the mushrooms, celery, and cauliflower. Drain the potatoes and season them with the rosemary, basil, and pepper; stir in the red onion.

DSC07468

To make the dough, mix the dry ingredients together in a stand mixer. Slowly add the olive oil and warm water until you have a dough that is just slightly sticky. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes.

DSC07462

This is where timing comes in. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough to fit an 11″x17″ pan. I actually let it hang over the edges a little to account for shrinkage:

DSC07469

Stick with a fork in several places and bake 5 minutes. This is also where you’ll need a hand. While your amazing helper lines the crust with the potatoes and onions . . .

DSC07474

. . . you’ll want to be making the “wings.” Pretty easy: Preheat oven to 450. Whisk together the milk, flour and garlic powder in a medium bowl. You’ll have a pancake batter-like consistency. Add the cauliflower and coat them completely; transfer to a baking dish.

DSC07460

Bake for 15-18 minutes . . .

DSC07461

While they’re baking, whisk together the wing sauce and olive oil (or Earth Balance). Loosen the cauliflower if it’s stuck to the dish. Pour the wing sauce over the cauliflower and bake another 5-8 minutes.

DSC07467

Now, while those are baking, saute up the celery and mushrooms in the olive oil. Also, start the sauce in a small saucepan. Combine the 2 Tbs of flour and 1/3 C warm water; set aside. Melt the 3 Tbs of Earth Balance in a the pan and add 1 Tbs of the flour-water mixture and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the rest over medium heat. Just a little at  time, add the broth. Whisk until thickened; add the red wine vinegar.

DSC07477

So now, your wings are ready to come out of  the oven. Throw the pizza in the oven (still at 400 degrees) and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes start to brown on the edges. This is a good reason to use a slicer to make them thin, otherwise, they’ll take too long to cook and your crust will be lovely shade of black. I then chopped up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

DSC07470

It even looks like chicken pieces! Try not to eat it all yet. Combine the cauliflower in a bowl with the celery and mushrooms and pour the sauce over them and coat well. When you have just a few minutes left on the potatoes, sprinkle the top with a little Daiya cheese.

DSC07476

Yum!

Cut into squares and top with the cauliflower/veggie mix and ranch dressing. Thoroughly enjoy!

DSC07478

Field Roast and Avocado Burritos

DSC07457

Yikes, it’s been a while. I have so many new recipes on my list to make, but I’ve been so busy with various different projects, that throwing together a simple favorite has been all I’ve had time for. I’ll get back into the swing of things. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be emerging from the cold and depressing days of winter! We even got our garden started this weekend. (I’ll be bringing you Garden Watch soon). In the meantime, here’s a fast and simple meal that is ready in less than 30 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs chipotle-flavored olive oil (or regular)

1/2 C yellow or white onion, chopped

1/2 C red onion, chopped

4 Field Roast Sausages, Italian Seasoning flavor, crumbled

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

4 Flour tortillas

Other (optional) burrito fillings: vegan sour cream, salsa, cilantro, diced tomatoes, Daiya cheese

 

DSC07454

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until they soften. Add the Field Roast and cook over medium heat until heated through, again, for 5-7 minutes.

DSC07453

 

On a warmed tortilla, layer on some sour cream, Field Roast mixture, avocados, and any other burrito fillings you want. Roll up and enjoy! (See, I told you it was easy)!

DSC07456

 

Creamy Baked Potato Soup

DSC07408

I saw this recipe on Lunch Box Bunch and it looked delicious. Potatoes are a staple around our house and with these snowy days, it foot the bill nicely. I made some changes to it so this is an adaptation of the original. Absolutely delicious and full of flavor—a keeper for sure. It was very simple to throw together as well and dinner was ready in less than an hour. Makes about 7-8 cups.

INGREDIENTS:

Soup:

1/2 C almonds, blanched (boil in water for 1-2 minutes, drain, rinse and remove and discard skins)

3 C vegetable broth

2-3 large (4 C) russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2-3 dashes cayenne

Garnish:

2 russet potatoes (2 C), diced peeling them is optional

1/2 C nutritional yeast

2-3 Tbs olive oil + 1 Tbs for sauteing

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 C onion, chopped

5-6 slices veggie bacon

4 green onions (white and green parts), sliced


DIRECTIONS:

Begin by making the garnish. Preheat oven to 400. In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

DSC07397

Layer the potatoes on a greased baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, but check often. Roast until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

DSC07398

Meanwhile, boil the four cups of potatoes until tender. And while those cook . . . saute the onions and veggie bacon in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside along with the green onions.

DSC07400

Using a blender or food processor, grind the almonds. Add the nutritional yeast, broth, pepper, salt, garlic, and cayenne. Once the potatoes are done, drain and add them to the blender. Puree 1-2 minutes, or until completely smooth. (You can add the broth little by little in case you want it thicker). Transfer back to pan (that you used to boil the potatoes in) and heat over low to medium heat; stir often until heated through. Top each serving with some potatoes, veg bacon/onion mix and green onions. Enjoy!

Green Buffalo Food Company

GBF

So how green is your garden? Right now, ours is pretty white . . . and brown. It was certainly a nice surprise when Green Buffalo Food Company asked me to review one of their fresh produce boxes, delivered right to my door, no less. I’ve mention GBF before and how their box of organic fruit and veggie goodness had saved me (more than once) when it came to making dinner. GBF, based in Fort Collins provides locally-grown, certified organic fruits and vegetables to homes in Northern Colorado. (To see if your zip code is within their delivery routes, click HERE). You can opt for weekly or every-other-week delivery, choose from several different sizes of orders, AND customize your order, which takes the mystery out of that “mystery vegetable” that many CSAs include in their orders.

Recently, Grant Farms, one of the country’s largest CSAs, located north of Fort Collins, filed for bankruptcy and left thousands of its customers without their produce. A few years ago, myself and two other neighbors shared an order from Grant Farms and after one season, we decided that not only was it too expensive, but we always ended up with an unbalanced box of produce. I love kale, but even I can’t go through 5 bunches of it in a week! I love the idea of customizing my fruit and veggie order so that I know exactly what I’m getting—and we support a local farmer in the process. Not only that, it’s delivered right to my door.

I was given the option, via email, to customize my box, but I was pleased with what was already on the list. I received GBF’s Fresh Front Range box:

DSC07298

 

Gorgeous, huh? This box, a mix of both fruits and vegetables, is $33.99. I received: (all organic)

2 Cameo apples

2 Red Delicious apples

2 large avocados

1 lb bag baby carrots

1 bunch cilantro

3 kiwi

1 bunch leaf lettuce

2 red onion

3 Navel oranges

2 green bell pepper

2 lemons

2 (delicious!) heirloom tomatoes

DSC07300

As always, I was impressed with the quality and size of the produce. It can be difficult to find organic produce in stores that are not half the size of conventionally-grown produce, and frankly, ugly as hell. No homely runts here.

DSC07303

Everything is packaged carefully and in the summer, you can even expect ice packs tucked inside to keep the produce fresh. Green Buffalo also strives to live up to their name by committing themselves to being eco-friendly by recycling their shipping cartons, having efficient driving routes, and composting any unusable produce to The Growing Project. They are also committed to making the community a better place by donating leftovers to the Larimer County Food Bank.

Green Buffalo Food boxes start at $24.99 for The MiniA typical box includes 2 apples, 2 avocado, 1 head of broccoli, 3 bananas, 1 carrot, 1 grapefruit, 2 pears, 1 leaf lettuce bunch, and 3 baby bok choy. And don’t forget, you have the option to change anything in this box, as well as add anything, ala carte style! GBF has eight different box options to choose from, so you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.

I also received a one-page newsletter with recipes, specials of the week, and other veggie news. There are no upfront costs, no membership fees, no cancellation fees, or contracts to sign. You are only charged on the day of delivery and you can cancel or make changes to your order anytime up to 2 days before your delivery date. You can Get Started and easily maintain your account online—it’s that easy!

Green Buffalo Foods have been such a pleasure to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I think we all know how important fruits and vegetables are to our diet—especially organically-grown ones, and GBF really takes out the guesswork. Check out their great blog for recipes and much more. Also, be sure to visit their Facebook page for updates and contests!

DSC07304

Cherry-Zucchini Bread

DSC07340

Sorry for my absence. We were all hit with a pretty nasty cold and it’s taken a couple of weeks to return to normal. The break did, however, give me way too much time to veg out and thanks to Hulu and PBS, I watched all three seasons of Downton Abbey. (If they keep killing off beloved characters, I’m going to have to stop watching; my heart can’t take it). Anyway, I’m back in the kitchen and it feels great. We spent the afternoon with our friends (both human and animal) at Beakon Hill Farm and Education Center. Their newest residents are a trio of adorable lambs. They took them in when they were just less than 24 hours old and have been bottle-feeding them for weeks. Randy and Teresa are such amazing people and are working toward making Beakon Hill a non-profit. It is home to some of the most wonderful animals: goats, horses, alpacas, hens, roosters, ducks, and many more.

DSC07359

The Eighth Grader bottle-feeding one of the lambs

DSC07346

DSC07373

Shiro’s just like a puppy, but with horns. His latest game is to push against you with his head.

DSC07390

 Zee Man liked to follow us around as we shoveled poop from the pens . . .

DSC07386

So I figured I’d bring along this amazing bread to share (with the humans) of Beakon Hill. The recipe is adapted from Hell Yeah it’s Vegan, because I made a few changes and added some ingredients. That’s the beauty of making two loaves; share the love!

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 2 loaves)

4-1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/2 C warm water
1-1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C applesauce
1/2 C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 C zucchini, grated
2 C flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbs cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 C dried cherries
1/8 C chia seeds (optional . . . I was out of them, but I would have definitely put them in if I had any)!

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8x4x2″ loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the egg replacer and warm water. Add the brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla and applesauce. I don’t usually keep applesauce on hand, but we definitely have plenty of apples, so I just pureed two apples in the food processor.

DSC07335

Add the zucchini and blend until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and chia seeds (if using). Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the batter.

DSC07336

Fold in the dried cherries. Divide the dough between the two loaf pans.

DSC07337

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until done in the middle (check using a toothpick or knife).

DSC07338

Let them cool on a rack and lay a piece of foil loosely over the top to keep in the moisture while they cool. Slice and enjoy!

DSC07394

Me holding Worf, the rooster.

DSC07392

Quinoa Pasta with Kale and Mushrooms

DSC07295

 

This is a very quick and healthy lunch. It’s also a good idea to munch on if you’re feeling under the weather since it has immune-boosting ingredients like kale, mushrooms, garlic, and pepita seeds. Regardless, it’ll hit the spot!

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz quinoa pasta, veggie curls (I used Ancient Harvest brand)

2-3 C chopped kale (I used red kale)

2 C diced or quartered mushrooms

1/2 C green onions, sliced

1/2 C pepitas seeds

1 Tbs olive oil or 2 Tbs Earth Balance

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. You don’t want to overcook quinoa pasta, as it tends to get mushy if you do. Drain and set aside.

DSC07294

Using the same pot, heat the olive oil or Earth Balance and add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the kale, mushrooms, and green onions and cook 5-7 minutes, or until they soften.

DSC07293

 

Once the veggies are cooked down a little, stir in the pasta and pepita seeds. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce

DSC07289

DSC07291

I’ve had this “Sexy Beet Ravioli” bookmarked since last April and I figured it was high time to give it a try. After 3 hours and 15 minutes in the kitchen, the meal was ready (this included making a salad). Good thing it was worth it! This dish definitely ranks in the top ten meals I’ve made and despite the long prep time, I’d make these again for sure. You have to like beets. Even though I’ve eaten them plenty of times, I’ve never roasted them before, but piece of cake! The original recipe said it yielded 12-15 raviolis. It was hard to gauge what size raviolis that made, so I decided to double everything. I would have been fine to just double the filling and the sauce, but not the dough. Luckily, the dough is outstanding and I now have a batch in the freezer for another pasta meal. With the doubled filling, I got about forty-eight  1-1/2″ square raviolis. Don’t be freaked out by the prep work. You can certainly make up the dough and filling ahead of time and store until ready to assemble the raviolis. Regardless, freshly made pasta is just going to take more time, but in the end, it’s worth it! (Perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner)!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough: (not doubled)

2 C semolina flour

1 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C warmed almond milk

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling: (Doubled)

2 beets

2 C raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour in water

1/2 C water

1 tsp salt

2 tsp nutritional yeast

Garlic Walnut Butter sauce: (Doubled)

8 Tbs Earth Balance

8 cloves of garlic, crushed (You could roast the garlic while roasting the beets . . .)

1 C walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

To roast the beets, preheat oven to 425. Scrub the beets clean, remove the greens, and wrap in foil. Roast for one hour. You can also be soaking the cashews during this time. To prepare the dough, whisk together the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the warmed almond milk and olive oil.

DSC07281

Blend well with a spoon, or your hands and then transfer to a clean surface. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth, un-sticky ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate if not using right away.

DSC07282

To make the filling, drain the cashews and add them to a food processor. Chop up the roasted beets and along with the other filling ingredients, add them to the food processor.

DSC07284

Process until smooth. You’ll end up with a very hot pink filling!

IMG_1147

I used my pasta maker to roll out the dough, but you can also use a rolling pin. I also used my ravioli plate, which was the best thing to happen to raviolis . . . it’s so easy to use and it ensures a closed edge, unlike using a fork. You can find one at Amazon . . . this one is for $13!

IMG_1148

Perfect raviolis!

DSC07285

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the raviolis—about 8-12 at a time—and remove with a slotted spoon once they float to the top, in roughly 2-3 minutes. I transferred them to a large colander, but be sure you drizzle with a little oil as they will a stick to one another as they cool.

DSC07288

The sauce is quite easy to make and you can just throw the ingredients into a small saucepan while you cook the raviolis. I didn’t brown the garlic, I just threw it all in at once, let the butter melt, and stirred it every minute or so.

DSC07286

Serve the raviolis with a drizzle of the sauce and thoroughly enjoy!

DSC07292

Macadamia Nut Cheese

DSC07278

I was immediately smitten when I saw this recipe for macadamia nut “goat cheese” over at The Holy Kale. I haven’t met many nut cheeses I didn’t like, and this one looked too delicious not to try. I followed the recipe as it was written, but when I tasted it, I found into be incredibly bland. After all, there wasn’t any seasonings besides the tarragon it was rolled in. . . I took matters into my own hands because I sure the heck wasn’t going to waste the $7 I spent on two cups of macadamia nuts! A little salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and agave saved the day . . . and the cheese! Other than the texture, I don’t think this resembles goat cheese, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tasty–it most certainly is!

INGREDIENTS:

2 C macadamia nuts (I used unsalted), soaked for 24 hours in water
1 cap veggie Probiotic
1/2 C water
2-3 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp, or to taste, salt
1-2 Tbs agave
2-3 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

After soaking the nuts, drain and transfer to a food processor along with 1/2 a cup of fresh water and the contents of the probiotic capsule. Blend until smooth (you will probably need to periodically scrape the sides).

DSC07260

Wrap in a cotton napkin or a few layers of cheese cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

DSC07261

Keep wrapped in the cloth and place into a bowl. Do not seal the bowl.

DSC07262

Let it sit for 2 days on the counter and ferment. Unwrap . . .

DSC07263

. . . and transfer to a bowl. Using a fork, blend in the lemon juice, salt, and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings/flavorings if need be. Wrap the cheese in plastic wrap, shaping into a log.

DSC07264

Refriderate for several hours to overnight to allow the flavors to meet and mingle. The longer you let it percolate the better! Spread the chopped tarragon on a cutting board and roll the log over it. Drizzle with agave and serve with crackers. This would also be excellent crumbled over a salad. Delicious and worth the long process! Enjoy!DSC07277

Roasted Mushroom and Garlic Soup with Caramelized Onions

DSC07274

I found this recipe on She Wears Many Hats, and knew it was right up my alley. I love mushrooms and it also has white beans, so I was hooked. I wasn’t expecting to change it up, but I ended up deviating off the recipe a little. It turned out fabulous; full of flavor! Not only that, it was pretty easy to make. The only thing that takes a while is caramelizing the onions, so I recommend allowing about 30-45 minutes for that—but well worth it!

INGREDIENTS:

6 C white and cremini mushrooms, quartered

3 – 15 oz cans white beans, not drained

5-6 large cloves of garlic, skins on

2 Tbs olive oil + a drizzle

Salt and pepper, to taste

8-10 fresh sage leaves

8-10 thyme sprigs + 1 Tbs fresh leaves

5 C vegetable stock (I recommend using Better Than Bouillon)

2 Tbs dried minced onions

Caramelized onions:

1 large white or yellow onion, sliced into strips

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Begin with the onions. Combine the onions and olive oil and add to a medium skillet. Saute over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook another 15 minutes; stirring often. Stir in the sugar and continue to saute until the onions are almost black and sticking to the skillet.

DSC07272

Reduce heat to low. Of course, while you’re doing all of this, you’ll need to start the soup . . . Preheat oven to 450. Coat the mushrooms with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large baking pan. Add the sage and thyme sprigs. To prepare the garlic, place the cloves in the middle of a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap up tightly; place onto the baking sheet.

DSC07266

Bake/roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the broth, beans, salt, pepper (to taste), and the tablespoon of thyme to a large soup pot; bring to a simmer. Stir the mushrooms in the oven and roast another 10 minutes.

DSC07269

Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Gather the sage leaves and set aside. Transfer one cup of the soup broth to a blender, along with 2 cups of drained beans. Toss in the sage leaves and the two tablespoons of minced onion, along with the garlic (the skins should slide right off). Puree until smooth. Add the mushrooms to the soup and stir in the puree; season with salt and pepper if you’d like then bring to a simmer.

DSC07271

Serve with some caramelized onions on top and enjoy!

Fruity Snack Balls

DSC07256

These are such a great snack and take minutes to make! I LOVE these (and so will kids). They come from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores and the only thing I added was about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. I try to throw chia seeds in all kinds of dishes, especially breakfast/fruity/smoothie things. Check out these 10 reasons you should eat them. You can use just about any dried fruit or nuts for these, such as apricots, apples, raisins, even dried blueberries. I also think mixing in a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter would be dee-licious! The original recipe says it makes a great crumbled cereal topper as well. The recipe also says it makes 2-1/2 dozen, but I got exactly 2 dozen–just depends on how small you make them.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 C dried cherries

1 C dried mango

1/2 C dried cranberries

1 C sliced raw almonds

2 Tbs chia seeds

DSC07251

DIRECTIONS:

Toss the first four ingredients into the food processor and blend for a full minute.

DSC07252

Add the almonds and blend again for another full minute.

DSC07253

I then transferred the mixture to a bowl and stirred in the chia seeds.

DSC07254

Take small handfuls and squeeze, then shape into a ball. Repeat. Enjoy!

DSC07258

Soy Yogurt Covered Blueberries with an Unexpected Ending

I was very excited to try making yogurt-covered blueberries . . .

DSC07231

So how did they go from this . . .

DSC07241

. . . to this?!

DSC07245

Easily. Nondairy yogurt just doesn’t set up like regular yogurt. Either that, or there’s more to the ingredient list than just yogurt and blueberries that companies use to make them turn out like this . . .

yb

Has anyone had luck making these with nondairy yogurt? Do share!

Anyway, they certainly made great smoothies.

Quinoa with Dried Apricots and Black Beans

DSC07228

The next time someone asks you, “Where do you get your protein?” you can (politely) point out this dish as one of numerous options. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 amino acids essential to human health. It offers up roughly 8 grams of protein per cup and also passes along calcium, iron, folate, manganese, and other vitamins. Black beans also carry nearly 15 grams of protein per cup, so add some veggies and you have healthy lunch!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C red quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/2 C regular quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 tsp Better than Bouillon paste

1-1/2 C water

1 C fresh cilantro, chopped

1 C green onions, sliced

1 C dried apricots, chopped

1/3 C pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp lime juice

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

2 Tbs olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the bouillon and water; bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cilantro, green onion, apricots, pepita seeds, salt, lime juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.

DSC07226

Once the quinoa is finished, add it, along with the black beans to the bowl.

DSC07227

Combine well and enjoy! (You can also chill it in a covered dish and serve cold).

My 3-year Blogger-versary!

Three years and 542 posts later, here I am. Still vegan. Still happy. Still blogging away. I have to admit, the anniversary sneaked up on me because it was actually WordPress who reminded me (and also, it’s time to renew, of course). I posted A Look Back in July 2011, so I figured this was a good time to look back again at some vegan favorites.

Appetizers

DSC06611

Grilled & Stuffed Avocados

3-Nut Cheese

Spicy Empanadas

Cashew-Truffle Hummus

White Bean Truffle Spread

.

Side Dishes & Salads

DSC05824

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Quinoa and Rice Stir-fry with White Beans

Immune-Boosting Salad with Baked Tempeh

Kale and Cabbage Salad with Lemony Almond Butter Dressing

.

Soups

DSC06968

Lasagna Soup

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary

Pesto-Potato Soup

Chili Stew

Hearty Vegetable Stew

Vegan New England Chik’n Corn Chowder

.

Breakfast

DSC05416

Lemony Quinoa-Almond Granola

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Zucchini and Kale Frittata

.

Lunch

DSC05447

Quinoa with Mushrooms and Spinach

Chickpea Salad

Portobello Wraps

.

Dinner

DSC05945

Field Roast-Mole Tamles

Field Roast and Spinach Enchiladas

Sweet Potato and Ricotta Raviolis

Creamy Mushrooms Fettuccine

Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchiladas

Tortilla Lasagna

Stuffed Peppers with Field Roasts and Ricotta

Stuffed Shells with Vegan & Soy-Free Ricotta

Coq Au Vin Fondue with Dipping Sauces

.

Snacks

DSC05429

Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

Papaya Trail Mix

.

Desserts 

DSC05178

Avocado Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Lemon Monkey Bread

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese

DSC07223

I think non vegans would find it pretty hard to know this is nondairy. (And when is it not fun to fool omnivores)? This is a Tofutti cream cheese-based dip/spread, but you could easily reverse the ratio of cream cheese and sour cream in this recipe and make it a sour cream-based one. It works great as a dip, dolloped on a baked potato, cracker spread, bagel topper, or sandwich condiment. It was ideal for veggie wraps . . .

DSC07224

INGREDIENTS:

12-oz container of Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 C Tofutti sour cream
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs dried minced onion
1 tsp salt
2 large green onion, sliced
1 Tbs lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container and keep chilled until using. Enjoy!

Curry in a Hurry

DSC07219

I’ve never made a curry sauce before, but I had a general idea of what went in it. I did make a rookie mistake, however, of trying to make it a little thicker by adding a smidgen of arrowroot and water. It made it a little clumpy and a bit too thick . . .it didn’t affect the taste, but I recommend not trying to thicken it up. All in all, it turned out delicious and I’d definitely make this again, especially because it came together in no time. I didn’t make it spicy, but we did top off our servings with some sriracha, which was perfect! I steamed some veggies, but you can saute them, too.

INGREDIENTS:

2 C long grain white rice

3 C water

2 tsp Better than Bouillon paste

Sauce:

1 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbs curry powder

1 can coconut milk

1/2 C water

1/2 tsp Better than Bouillon

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp dried basil

3/4 tsp dried ginger

Salt and pepper

The rest:

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 C edamame

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1/2 C green onion, sliced

1 can sliced water chestnuts

Optional: Sriracha or other hot sauce

DSC07221

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the 3 cups of water and 2 tsp of bouillon paste; bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and cook on low for 15 minutes. Prepare your veggies how you’d like: steaming or sauteing. (minus the green onions)

DSC07216

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the olive oil and then stir in the curry powder; cook for 2 minutes.

DSC07214

Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Combine the 1/2 C of water and 1/2 tsp bouillon in a cup, then add to the sauce pan. Whisk in the coconut milk and season with the basil, ginger, and salt, and pepper; add in the sugar. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

DSC07215

Ladle over the cooked rice and veggies and add some heat, if desired. Top with green onions. Enjoy!

Lemon Monkey Bread

DSC07209

I was going to post this recipe tomorrow, but after taking a bite, I think you might want to run out and buy the ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast. So worthy of veganizing! You may have seen the original recipe on Pinterest . . . it’s definitely making the rounds and now I know why! The original recipe was a bit hard to follow because of the way it’s laid out—lots of really closeup pictures with some directions, then at the bottom of the post is the ingredient list and directions. It also wasn’t clear how long it was going to take to let these puppies rise, but luckily, it was only about 45 minutes. These are little pieces of glaze n’ sugar heaven; like a mini glazed doughnut! And the crunchy sugar topping?! Forgetaboutit! Frickin’ amazing and perfect for a brunch get together (that is, if you want to share)!

INGREDIENTS:

12 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed, but still cold (I took them out of the freezer and stuck them in the fridge the night before)

Zest from one lemon

1/2 C sugar

3 Tbs Earth Balance, melted + some for greasing the pan

1/2 C powdered sugar

1 Tbs lemon juice

DSC07197

DIRECTIONS:

Grease (very well) the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Cut each roll in half . . .

DSC07198

. . . and place flat-side down into the pan.

DSC07199

Drizzle with the melted butter . . .

DSC07201

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture on the top of the rolls.

DSC07203

Cover and let rise for 45 minutes, or until they have doubled in size. (I turned my oven onto the lowest temp: 190. Placed the covered rolls inside and just cracked the oven door. Works beautifully)!

DSC07204

Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top.

DSC07205

The original recipe says to bake them for 20-25 minutes, but mine were ready in about 16-17 minutes. Check often as all ovens run differently. And let me tell you, these smelled SO incredible as they baked!

DSC07207

Remove from the pan onto a plate. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle on top. Thoroughly enjoy!!

DSC07211

UPDATE:

I recently made these with cinnamon and sugar . . . YUM!

DSC07420

Prepare them the same as above, but use 1/3 C sugar (I reduced the amount from 1/2 C), 1 Tbs cinnamon, and zest from one orange. This is a quick and easy alternative to cinnamon rolls, especially if you’re short on time. Enjoy!

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart

DSC07194

This was so good and so easy to make! Yes, I know, puff pastry—even though it’s vegan—isn’t the healthiest of foods, but once in a while, it’s okay. In fact, it’s downright fun to come up with recipes using it. This is the perfect time to break out the mandolin slicer (if you’re brave enough). I’m still too freaked out to use it after my mishap with it.  Anyway, I used my go-to ricotta cheese recipe which makes more than what you need for this, but the rest will freeze well or keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. It’s great mixed in some cooked pasta with veggies, or small batch of a stuffed shells. You can also just halve the recipe if you’d like. This dish works as a main meal, or cut into small squares, is ideal as an appetizer. Check out these other tart recipes: Savory Vegetable Tart and Savory Asparagus Tart.

INGREDIENTS:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Ricotta:

14-oz tub of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tsp basil (sometimes I use fresh basil–about a cup)
1 tsp rosemary (Again, you can use 1 Tbs of freshly chopped rosemary)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 C nutritional yeast
Optional: 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vegan mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to fit an 11″x17″ cookie sheet. It’s ok if the edges go over the side—just tuck them in. Stick with a fork in several places.

DSC07186

Bake for 7-10 minutes (check it to make sure it’s not browning). You want it just toasted:

DSC07188

To make the ricotta, combine all of the ingredients (except the cheese, if using) in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in the cheese.

DSC07187

Spread about a cup or so of the ricotta onto the puff pastry. You can use as little or as much as you’d like. Top with the tomato slices. I got about 9 slices, so I spaced them evenly on top.

DSC07189

Next, layer on the zucchinis. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

DSC07191

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the crust brown the zucchinis are tender.

DSC07193

Transfer to a large cutting board, then cut and enjoy!

DSC07195

DSC07196

Feast On This!

Lately, it seems that word is finally getting around about the dangerous effects of milk consumption. How ridiculous was it that the outcome of the (fiasco) fiscal cliff (or at least part of it) hinged on averting a price hike in milk prices?! Parents were freaking out about the cost of milk rising when in actuality, that is the one thing parents should not be giving their children. It is absolutely not a coindence that the U.S. consumes the most dairy, yet we have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Numerous studies have confirmed that when we ingest cow’s milk, our bodies have a reaction to the acid in the milk and in an effort to neutralize it, our body releases the calcium from our bones. Dr. Neal Barnard, head of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wrote about the dangers of milk consumption over at The Kind Life; I highly recommend you check it out. In the meantime, take a gander at this fabulous infographic provided by LearnStuff.com

.

Got-Milk-You-Dont-Need-It

Hearty Vegetable Stew

DSC07182

 

The guys went snowboarding yesterday, so I figured this soup would be great for them to come home to. It may not have healed the bruises and bumps, but it did hit the spot. This is much like beef stew but without the cancer-causing, artery-clogging, animal carcass. Yum!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C white onion, chopped

2 Tbs olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

1/4 C flour

1 C red wine

7 C vegetable broth

1 Tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4-5 celery stalks, sliced

3 large carrots, sliced

2 C mushrooms, quartered

2 Tbs arrowroot

1 Tbs dried minced onion

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until they begin to soften and brown. Stir in the flour and coat the onions well and cook 2 minutes.

DSC07176

 

Whisk in the wine and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

DSC07178

Whisk in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper, then drop in the bay leaf. Cover and let simmer over low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

DSC07179

Add the potatoes, celery, and carrots and cook 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies soften, but not too much—you don’t want them mushy. Add the minced onions and mushrooms and let them cook down a little—about 5-7 minutes. The soup wasn’t quite as thick as I wanted it, so I mixed together the arrowroot with just over an 1/8 cup of water and then poured it into the soup. As always, it worked like a charm. Enjoy!

Mexican Pasta Casserole

DSC07165

I’ve made a similar casserole, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients. I changed things up given what I had to work with. I love how easy and delicious these kinds of casseroles are—they make for the perfect winter meal.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

1  14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or a can of Rotel with green chilies), undrained

1/2 C Tofutti sour cream + any extra for serving on top

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 packet of seasoning mix (taco, burrito or fajita)

1/2 C shredded  Daiya pepper jack cheese

1/4 C almond milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

The rest:

2 C uncooked pasta (any variety—I had a mixture of ziti and elbow mac)

1 Tbs olive oil (I used chipotle-flavored)

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1/2 of a bell pepper (any variety—I used orange), chopped

1/2 C onion, chopped

1-1/2 to 2 C mushrooms, chopped or sliced

1  15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

4-5 green onions, sliced

1 C cilantro leaves

Optional ingredients: black olives, diced avocados or guacamole

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. While cooking the pasta, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Over medium heat, saute the bell pepper and onions until they begin to soften, then add the black beans.

DSC07161

 

Cook for another 3-4 minutes, then add the mushrooms.

IMG_1099

Cook until the mushroom cook down a little—just a couple of minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix well. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, along with the sauce; blend well. Transfer to a 13×9″ baking dish.

IMG_1100

Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes. Top servings with some green onions and cilantro and any other optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Spicy Empanadas

DSC07160

Happy New Year!

We spent our New Year’s Eve with friends and I brought these empanadas. I’ve made similar ones before and I noticed that I had written 5-6 jalapenos for that recipe. Those must have been some pretty mild peppers, because I used one in this recipe and they were plenty zippy! I changed these up a little and they turned out great. I think adding a chipotle-flavored Field Roast sausage link would also be great for the filling. I’m going to have to figure out how to keep them from opening up during the baking process, but it didn’t seem to make a difference in taste—they were gone in minutes!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

3 C flour + some for kneading
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer + 4 Tbs water
12 Tbs Earth Balance (1-1/2 sticks)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs white vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 C water

Filling:

8-oz non-dairy cream cheese
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs almond milk + some for brushing
1 tsp shallot salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C vegan pepper jack, shredded
1 tsp cumin
1 jalapeno, chopped fine
1/3 C red bell pepper, chopped small
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbs olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

To make the dough, combine the egg replacer with the water and process until foamy.

DSC07155

Add the flour, Earth Balance, salt, vinegar, and water. Process until well combine.

DSC07156

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a medium skillet. Add the onions, jalapeno, and bell pepper. Season with cumin and saute 5-7 minutes, then remove from the heat.

DSC07152

Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese, lime juice, almond milk, shallot salt, and garlic powder. Stir in the cilantro, cheese, and pepper mixture.

DSC07154

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough and using a disk, bowl or cup, cut out 4″ circles.

DSC07158

Place about a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of dough circle. Fold over and you can either use a fork to seal the edges closed, or a pastry wheel cutter, then place onto a large baking sheet.

DSC07159

Bake for 15 minutes, then brush the tops with almond milk. Bake another 5-7 minutes, or until the tops brown. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Walnuts and Spinach

DSC07134

 

I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday! For the first time in many years, we had snow falling on Christmas Eve! You wouldn’t think that’d be such a rarity in Colorado, but a drought will do that to ya. It’s even snowing as I type! So I wasn’t sure what to call this dish because it has more than just walnuts and spinach it—it’s loaded with veggies. I served this warm, but I think it would be tasty cold as well.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C regular quinoa

1 C red quinoa

2 tsp Better Than Bouillon

3 C water

1 C spinach, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

4 mushrooms, chopped

1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs chia seeds

1/2 C walnuts, chopped (and toasted, if you’d like)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

DSC07129

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium or large saucepan, whisk together the bouillon and water and then bring to a boil. Add the two quinoas (you can also use tri-colored quinoa if you’d like), stir, reduce heat, and cover. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until just a little bit of liquid remains. Stir in the spinach, green onion, and mushrooms and let cook for a few minutes—just enough for the spinach to wilt and the mushrooms to cook down a little.

DSC07130

Stir in the salt, pepper, chia seeds, and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and walnuts. Enjoy!

 

Hot and Sour Soup

DSC07114

I have always wanted to try making hot and sour soup at home. Typically, Asian restaurants use a chicken or beef-based broth in their soups, so I usually have to pass on it. I found a recipe in Color Me Vegan, but I made some alterations to it. We loved the results! I went easy on the hot part, so feel free to spice it up more if you’d like.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 oz dried mushroom variety such as shiitake, oyster, porcini, boletus and woodear

3/4 oz dried exotic mushrooms

14-oz extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes

7 Tbs tamari or soy sauce, divided

1 Tbs canola oil

6 C vegetable broth

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 C rice vinegar

1/4 C arrowroot

1 can bamboo shoots, sliced into thin strips

2-3 tsp chili sesame oil

4 green onions, sliced

DSC07111

dried mushroom variety mix

DSC07112

dried exotic mushroom mix

DSC07105

3 packets of dried mushrooms

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for about an hour. Drain, but reserve the liquid (approx. 2 cups). Then cut/slice the mushrooms.

DSC07108

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil and coat with canola oil. You don’t have to use foil, but I find stuff still sticks to the pan regardless. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and drizzle with 4 Tbs of the tamari.

DSC07106

Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the pieces. I’m sorry to say, there really isn’t an easy way to do this other than one by one . . . bake another 8-10 minutes.

DSC07107(These may look pretty scorched, but it’s actually just the baked-on tamari)

In a large soup pot, bring the broth to a boil, then add the mushrooms. Let simmer or med/low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot, rice vinegar, and 3 Tbs of the tamari. Whisk well to thoroughly combine. Stir into the soup and bring it to a boil.

DSC07109

Add the bamboo shoots, tofu, and chili sesame oil; cook for 5 minutes. You may want to thin out the soup a little, so add some of the reserved mushroom water. I had two cups and ended up using it all–it just depends on how thick you want the soup. Top each individual serving with some green onions and enjoy!

Immune-Boosting Salad with Baked Tempeh

DSC07100

Whether or not you’re fighting a cold or illness, this is the perfect salad to eat to boost your immune. No one wants to be sick during the holidays. It also doesn’t help that we tend to not eat or drink as healthy during these yuletide times. Instead of throwing back some harmful meds with a measly glass of OJ while you’re sick, head for the fridge (or ask someone politely) to fix this cold-fighting bowl of awesomeness. If anything, steam some kale, eat a raw orange bell pepper, and a bowl full of white mushrooms. Then repeat.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of kale, torn from stem and chopped small (high in iron, vitamins C, A & K, antioxidants, omega-3s (anti-inflammatory), fiber, and calcium)

1 small bunch of spinach, stems removed and chopped small (1 C=337% of the RDA of vitamin A!! vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium)

1 orange bell pepper, chopped small (vitamin C and B-6, fiber, and antioxidants)

10-12 white mushrooms, stems removed and chopped, (great sources of potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. They’ve also been proven to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers)

2 large carrots, shredded (beta carotene, vitamin A, cancer-preventing properties, and alpha-carotene and lutein, which fight heart disease)

6-7 green onions, sliced thin (Quercetin, an antioxidant and anti-histamine, chromium, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, and copper)

1/2 C pepitas (high in vitamins C, D, E, and K. They are rich in beta carotene (that is converted into vitamin A in the liver),  rich in the eye protective carotenoid lutein. A handful of these will deliver 9 grams of protein, along with manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, copper and zinc. They are also rich in omega-3 fats and are also shown to reduce inflammation. Definitely a super food!)

Dressing:

2 cloves garlic, cut in half (boosts hydrogen sulfide production=protects against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer and protects the heart. Raw garlic’s antimicrobial fights viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. Its also helps fight asthma, bronchitis, inflammation, rashes, bug bites, tooth aches, ear infections and other infections i.e. Staph and MRSA. Unlike antibiotics that weaken your immune system, garlic actually boosts your immune system)

1/3 C sunflower seed butter (calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Also a great source of B vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, and  B6, folate, and pantothenic acid. Folate is also essential during pregnancy for proper fetal development. Let’s not forget protein and the healthy, unsaturated fats)

1/4 C tahini (Packed with B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15, protein and calcium)

3 Tbs lemon juice

1 Tbs light miso (Protein, has probiotics, B vitamins, especially B12, fights cancers, high in antioxidants, and can even help lower cholesterol)

1/4 C nutritional yeast (TONS of B vitamins, protein, and fiber. It’s also low in sodium)

1/4 C chia seeds (Omega-3 and 6 oils, protein, and antioxidants. Considered a super food, chia seeds not only support the immune system, they balance blood sugar levels, support the cardiovascular system, give you energy, aid in weight loss, help detox the body, and provides fiber, iron, calcium, niacin (B-3), phosphorus, and magnesium. Did I mention brain-boosting, too?!)

1 C water

IMG_1089

Tempeh (optional)

8-oz pkg. tempeh, cut into small cubes (high in fiber, easy to digest, low sodium, and contains antioxidants. It also helps balance blood sugars)

1/4 C soy sauce

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed (see above)

1 Tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper

DSC07097

Whew! Did you get all that?! Talk about a loaded salad!

DIRECTIONS:

If you’re adding tempeh, you’ll want to start that now. Combine the tempeh with the soy sauce (preferably low-sodium),  Worcestershire sauce, oil, garlic, and salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag; coat the tempeh thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour the tempeh on the sheet. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes, stir around, then bake another 5 minutes.

IMG_1086

 Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, then chop up the tempeh into even smaller pieces; add to the salad.

IMG_1087

To make the dressing, combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend 2 minutes, or until completely smooth. It makes about 2-1/2 cups.

DSC07098

You can pour the dressing over the entire salad and blend well, or keep it separate. If you store it separately, keep in mind that it will probably set up in the fridge; you’ll need to add some water and/or lemon juice to it to thin it out some more. I hope all of you are staying healthy and continue to do so during these oftentimes stressful days! Enjoy!

DSC07100

12/12/12 and a Giveaway!

As you probably already know, you won’t see dates likes today repeat themselves again this century, so enjoy it! So far, it’s shaping up to be interesting. Our hot water heater went kaput this morning :-( The good news (and hopefully it goes well) is that the Eighth Grader gets his braces off today! Caramel apples, anyone?

I thought I’d pass along this great giveaway that my friend from Hooked and Happy is offering.

YPic_APRIL-PC_20121212-101347

She’s giving away a copy of Clean Eating 3!

Clean-Eating-3-Cookbook

Contest ends in 2 days, so get those entries in—you know you want the recipe for vegan Coconut Cream Pie!

Potato-Leek Chowder

DSC07048

 

I’m finally back and I bring with me a satisfying, flavorful soup that is perfect for a winter’s night in. It’s quite easy to make, particularly if you have an immersion blender (which I don’t, but I suspect I may find one under the tree come Christmas ;-) )

INGREDIENTS:

5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ dice

2 large leeks (mostly white parts with a little of the green parts), chopped

4 C veggie broth (I really like Better than Bouillon)

3 Tbs Earth Balance

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

6 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 C almond milk

2 tsp shallot salt

1 tsp celery salt

2 dashes black pepper

2 dashes white pepper

Optional ingredients: croutons, vegan cheddar shreds, sliced green onion, vegan sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the Earth Balance and garlic over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute about 10 minutes, or until the leeks begin to soften.

DSC07046

 

Add the potatoes and broth and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. I prefer to not cook them too much, as I don’t want real mushy potatoes. I then transferred the soup to a food processor, working in batches. Each time, I added 2-3 Tbs of the nutritional yeast and some of the almond milk until I was out of each. I try not to blend it too much, as I like a few potato chunks left in there. If you use an immersion blender (any suggestions on brands, anyone?) slowly add the milk and nutritional yeast as you blend the soup. Season with the salts and the peppers and serve with your favorite soup toppings! Enjoy!

Product Review: EcoTools Cosmetic Brushes

DSC07041

I haven’t been cooking or baking anything exciting lately, so sorry for my lack of recipes since Thanksgiving. So I thought I’d throw in a product review. I found these earth-friendly and sustainable cosmetic brushes at Walgreens (of all places) and thought I give them a try. They’re by EcoTools and they have a pretty large line of cosmetic accessories. Unfortunately, I couldn’t peruse their site because they seem to be having problems with pages loading. As soon as they’re back up and running, I’ll update the link. Not only was I drawn to the fact that are made from the ever so sustainable bamboo plant, natural and recycled materials and 100% cruelty-free, but because they were very reasonably priced. The 6-piece brush set was $11.99 and the single brush was $7.99. The five brushes also come with a cotton and hemp bag that has a zippered pocket and folds over.

DSC07042

DSC07044

DSC07043

The brushes are incredibly soft (which of course, is true for any new cosmetic brush) and I thought they all worked beautifully. In case you’re not sure how certain brushes work, the back of the package will enlighten you . . . which never hurts.

DSC07045

Like with all cosmetics brushes, I recommend washing them at least once a week with a mild liquid soap and lay them flat to dry, never standing up, as the water will rot the handle. Walgreens also carries a few of the products from EcoTools’ Alicia Silverstone line. (Again, the link is down, so I’ll update when it’s up and running). In the meantime, you can at least check out their homepage. :-)

Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares

These were amazing! I thought they’d be a pain in the butt to make, but actually, they were pretty easy. They took some time, but other than that, they were simple to make. And so delicious! The recipe is from Vegetarian Times and I substituted the Brussels sprouts with asparagus and elephant garlic with just two large cloves of garlic. Next time I make these, I’d probably chop the carrots  smaller than the recipe says, but otherwise, theses were fantastic! And why wait until next Thanksgiving? These are great as a fall/winter meal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 medium onion, sliced

3 Tbs + 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided

1-1/4 tsp salt, divided

3/8 tsp black pepper, divided

2 heads elephant garlic (again, I used 2 regular cloves of garlic)

2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, divided

3 Tbs white wine

1 Tbs cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tsp thyme

10 stalks of asparagus, cut into thirds or fourths

10 baby carrots, cut into thirds or fourths (rather than in half on the diagonal)

10 button mushrooms, halved

6 shallots, peeled and quartered

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed

Almond milk, for brushing dough

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425. Set aside about 20 cauliflower florets in a bowl. Toss the rest with the onion and 1 Tbs olive oil; season with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

(I’d break up the cauliflower more than this)

Spread onto a baking sheet. Wrap up the garlic and 1/2 tsp of the olive oil in some foil and place on the baking sheet.

Roast 30 to 45 minutes. I roasted them for about 25 minutes—the onions were getting too browned. (Another reason to break the cauliflower up smaller).

Squeeze the warm garlic from it’s skin into a food processor and add the cauliflower/onion mixture and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if you’d like.

Combine the wine, cornstarch, remaining 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and 1/2 C water in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a wok or skillet. Add the reserved cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and shallots. Stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Roll out the puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Cut into four squares. Chill for 15 minutes on parchment paper.

 

The recipe says to place a 1/4 C of the cauliflower puree in the center, but I found that when I got close to last four (of the 8 squares) I was running low, so I recommend using a bit less than a quarter cup per square. Top the puree with about a 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture. Again, so easy on the 1/2 cup–it was close.

Fold corners of the dough over the vegetable mixture, pinching the corners together.

I made these ahead of time, so I covered and refrigerated for about 2 hours before baking them. When it comes time to bake, brush with almond milk and bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Delicious!! Enjoy!

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

This is another excellent recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Kale and quinoa together?! Talk about a super, nutrient-packed salad. This was easy to make and served warm, it made an excellent side dish on Thanksgiving.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 C red quinoa

3 C vegetable broth

1 bunch (8-oz) kale

2 Tbs olive oil

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

4 green onions (white and green parts) sliced thin

2 C fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp rosemary

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If the liquid isn’t fully absorbed by 20 minutes, but the quinoa is done, drain it using a fine mesh strainer. The recipe says to strip the kale leaves from the stem and slice the leaves into narrow strips. I found that to be difficult and time consuming, so I just chopped it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter anyway. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic until it begins to brown. Add the kale . . .

 . . . and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad

I’ve never had anything with wheat berries in it . . . at least I don’t think so. I had bought a bag a while ago for another recipe (that I can’t even remember now) and so when I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times, I decided to give it a try. Wheat berries refer to the entire kernel, or whole grain form of the wheat. They’re a great source of fiber and are used in breads, pilaf mixes, stir-fry . . . you name it. It usually needs to be soaked for several hours ahead of time, so keep that in mind, otherwise, they’ll take forever to cook! This salad is delicious warm or cold and was great as a side dish for Thanksgiving.

INGREDIENTS:

Salad

1 C wheat berries

1 2″ cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp salt

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice

1 heaping cup thinly sliced dried apricots

1/2 C toasted slivered almonds

6 Tbs chopped cilantro

Dressing

3 Tbs apple cider vinegar

3 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the wheat berries and cinnamon stick in 3 cups of water for 8 hours or overnight. I didn’t have any cinnamon sticks, so I added a dash or two of cinnamon later on. Transfer the wheat berries and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. (This is where I added the cinnamon).

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour. Drain any leftover liquid and remove cinnamon stick. In a small saucepan, blanch the carrots, then drain. Toss the carrots with the wheat berries, apricots, almonds, and cilantro.

For the dressing, blend all of the ingredients until creamy and season with salt and pepper. Stir into the salad, cover, and chill for about an hour. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

My mom’s always been in charge of making the pies for holidays and there’s a good reason why. She’s damn good at it. Since I’ve gone vegan, she’s tried to make them vegan whenever she can (thanks, Mom!) She made a vegan pumpkin pie from Vegetarian Times a couple of years ago, but this year, there was an even easier one to try. This one is from Vegan Holiday Kitchen cookbook. Instead of using the recipe’s suggestion of a pastry or graham cracker crust, she made her own pie crust using vegetable shortening. The recipe also makes two pies, so she halved it to make just one.

INGREDIENTS:

2 C pureed pumpkin

1/2 pkg firm silken tofu

1/2 C + 2 Tbs granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat to 350. Combine pumpkin in a food processor with next 4 ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into crusts. Bake 40-45 mins, or until set and crust is golden.

Vegan Sweet Potato and Ricotta Ravioli with a Butter-Garlic Cream Sauce

I’m very proud of this meal. And it was certainly a labor of love. Three hours of labor, to be exact. (Although that includes the Caesar salad I had to make). Luckily, many of the steps involved can be made way ahead of time and kept in the fridge, making assembly and cooking time a breeze. It may have taken a while to make, but it was nothing compared to my first attempt at raviolis. I got wise and bought a ravioli mold that made the process so much easier!! (Check out this great YouTube video on how to use it). I threw together a butter-garlic cream sauce which looks pretty weird, as you can see, but I promise you, it tastes better than it looks. After using the ravioli mold, I’m excited to try other types of ravioli—it’s less daunting now that I’ve got the right tools. The sweet potato and tofu ricotta are an excellent combo! You can also try my soy-free version. I made enough dough and filling to feed an army; I easily could have made a 100 raviolis. The leftovers are perfect for freezing and saving for another meal. Feel free to half the recipes for the dough, fillings, and sauce to make about 50 raviolis. (One serving is 10-12 raviolis). Even though there are several steps to this meal, they’re very simple and there’s nothing like fresh pasta!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough

2 C flour

2 C semolina flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs olive oil

1-1/2 to 2 C water

Sweet Potato Filling

2 sweet potatoes

3 large green onion, minced

2 Tbs almond milk

Salt and pepper

Ricotta Filling

14-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

Butter-Garlic Cream Sauce

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 C Earth Balance

3 Tbs flour

3/4 C to 1 C almond milk

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Begin by cooking the sweet potatoes. I cooked them in the microwave to save some time—only took 10 minutes. Scoop out the potato and mash it with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the almond milk and combine well. Add the green onion, salt, and pepper; set aside. To make the ricotta, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth; set aside. To make the dough, combine the flours and salt in a large bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a food processor too). While the mixer is running, slowly add the oil, then water until you reach a somewhat damp (but not too sticky) dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 3-5 minutes. I used my pasta maker to roll out flat sheets. You can easily use a rolling pin instead. Lay a sheet of dough over the metal portion of the mold. Place the plastic mold on top and press gently, creating pockets for the filling. Place about a teaspoon of each filling into each pocket.

Place another sheet of dough on top and press down, sealing the edges and flattening the top. Using a rolling pin, roll over the top to create the raviolis. (Again, check out the You Tube video at the beginning of the post to see this magic happen).

So much better than trying to make by hand! The mold was worth the $20 I paid for it. Let the raviolis sit for about 20 minutes. To make the sauce, combine the garlic and butter in a small saucepan and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Slowly whisk in the almond milk, using enough to reach a semi-thick consistency; keep warm.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a spatula, I placed 12 raviolis at a time, into the pot. Boil for 5-7 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Repeat the process until they’re all cooked. (For the last dozen, instead of removing with the slotted spoon, I placed the colander in the sink and poured the remaining raviolis and boiling water into the colander. That way, the other raviolis that cooled off could be somewhat reheated).

Drizzle a ladle of sauce over a serving of the raviolis and enjoy!