Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Hummus & Avocado

GrilledSandwichesAll right. I have two confessions. First, these aren’t technically grilled, nor do they have avocado on them. *GASP* I know, I’m sorry. But let me explain. So, it’s very early spring here in Colorado and the outdoor grill, much like my legs, are still winterized. But, I do have the spray tan of grills . . .
20140414_175759 Now, about that avocado. I’ve had 4 avocados sitting in a paper bag on my counter for about 5 days and they are still rock solid. I made the mistake of trying to cut into one and it was like stabbing a butternut squash. And if that wasn’t enough, I tried a second avocado and ended up with the same results. In fact, I couldn’t even get the halves apart! I was all ready to place the beautiful slices of avocado next to the fresh basil . . .

noAvocadoIn spite of these culinary catastrophes, I assure you, the “grilling” process worked beautifully, and the avocado would be a grand addition to these sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinade

1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C red wine
1/4 C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

The rest

2 small zucchini, sliced length-wise
1 red bell pepper, cut into wide strips
1 eggplant, sliced length-wise, then again length-wise
1/2 large onion, cut into wide strips
1 avocado (preferably real and not imaginary), sliced
1 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C hummus, homemade (easy) or store bought (even easier)
6 French rolls, or other sandwich bread

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip bag. Add the veggies and let them marinate in the frige for about an hour. Turn the bag over halfway through. Spray the grill pan with a small amount of cooking spray and heat pan over medium heat. Using tongs, place the veggies in the pan. I recommend putting as many slices of bell pepper on as you can because they’ll take the longest to cook. I also suggest flattening them out a little so that you can turn them over to cook both sides. The zucchini and eggplant will take about 3-4 minutes per side.
20140414_181655I continued cooking all of the zucchini and eggplant, transferring the cooked slices to a large sheet of foil and sealing it up while everything else cooked. Everything stayed nice and hot. I then added the onions while the peppers continued to cook.
20140414_182013Once the vegetables are cooked, start assembling your sandwiches! (You can toast the bread first, if you’d like). Spread on some hummus, add the veggies, basil and of course, a few beautiful slices of avocado. Enjoy!

 

And the winner is . . .

Congrats to Scout and Bodhi who won a copy of The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

Thank you to everyone who visited and entered!

DSC08248And by the way, I also made the Fiesta Taco Potato Crisps that are on page 85 and brought them to a get together. Everyone (including us) declared they were the Best. Appetizer. Ever. I made them again last night when my Mom came over for dinner. Again, Best. Appetizer. Ever.

20140406_163926_resizedThanks again, everyone!

Empowered Noodle Bowl + A Giveaway of The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

DSC08248I was thrilled to have an opportunity to post a recipe from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook AND be able to give a copy away to one lucky reader! I’ve been glued to this cookbook since I received it because not only is it full of beautiful photographs (about every recipe has a pic), but the recipes look downright delicious. Like Liddon, I had some unhealthy eating (or should I say, not eating) habits before I went vegan. I can truly say that a vegan diet saved my life. This is a great cookbook to have in your collection because it is full of tasty, healthy recipes that use only whole, minimally-processed ingredients. If you’ve been a fan of the Oh She Glows website, you’re going to love this cookbook with 75 brand-spankin’ new recipes, plus 25 updated reader favorites. So if you want to win this beautiful cookbook, leave a comment; it’s that easy! You have until midnight (PST) on Sunday, April 6. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 7th. 

Empowered Noodle2

You’ll love Liddon’s Empowered Noodle Bowl, two ways: Thai Peanut & Orange-Maple Miso on page 153. I decided to make both dressings and honestly, I can’t tell you which one is my favorite; they’re both delicious. The Thai Peanut is thicker with some garlic kick, whereas the Orange-Maple Miso is a tad thinner and milder. They’re both easy enough to make, so why not do both? This is a fantastic lunch or light dinner, that comes together rather quickly. I like how the veggies take precedence over the noodles—it’s not a heavy pasta dish, but rather, a bowl of fresh veggies with some noodles thrown in and coated with a tasty dressing. A winner for sure.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Thai Peanut Sauce

1 large garlic clove
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs natural smooth peanut butter
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs + 1 tsp low-sodium tamari
1-2 tsp granulated sugar

Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

3 Tbs light miso
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs tahini
1/4 C fresh orange juice
1 Tbs water
1 tsp maple syrup

Salad

4 oz gluten-free soba noodles
Extra virgin olive oil, for the noodles
16 oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 carrot, julienned
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds, for serving

DIRECTIONS

To make the Thai Peanut sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Do the same for the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing.

Empowered NoodleCook the noodles according to instructions on the package (5-9 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold water and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with a little of the olive oil, then toss with the veggies and dressing of your choice. Top individual servings with sesame seeds and enjoy! If you like the looks of this recipe, you’re going to want this cookbook, so leave a comment and you just may get it! Good luck!

DSC08246With the Thai Peanut Sauce
DSC08247With the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

 Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

Quinoa & Kale Pitas with Tahini Dressing

QuinoaKalePitasThese are packed with some of my favorite ingredients! Quinoa is loaded with protein and the kale is well . . . it’s kale! We all know kale is high in iron, calcium and several vitamins. Check out these 10 Health Benefits of this super green. I also threw in some pepitas, which are rich in vitamins, beta carotene, and protein. I made a pretty big batch so that I can nosh all week (especially post workouts), but feel free to halve the recipe if you’re fearful of getting quinoa’d out. (Inconceivable! ;-) )

INGREDIENTS

Filling

2 C tri-color quinoa
4 C vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C red onion, diced
3/4 C green onion, sliced
2 C mushrooms, diced
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped (stems discarded)
3/4 C pepitas

Dressing

2 large cloves of garlic
1 Tbs tahini
2 Tbs yellow/light miso
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C cold water
2 Tbs chia seesds
1/4 tsp black pepper

The rest

Pita pockets
Avocado slices

DIRECTIONS

I recommend making the dressing first. It’ll be a little runny, but letting it sit for 20 minutes or so, will allow the chia seeds to do their thing and thicken up the dressing. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.

DSC08213In a large soup pot, combine the broth (or water) with the quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

DSC08214Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the red and green onions. Saute until softened and a tiny bit browned. Add the kale and mushrooms and saute until the the kale is bright green, about 5 minutes.
onionskaleFold the veggies and pepitas into the cooked quinoa.
DSC08215I placed a little dressing inside the pita,  along with a slice or two of avocado, then added the filling, and topped with some more dressing. Enjoy!
QuinoaKalePitas

Wild Rice & Potato Stew with Field Roast

WildRicePotatoFRStewCan you tell that I’m loving my new Dutch oven?! But really, this could be made with a regular soup pot too, but it’s way more satisfying to get use out of a new kitchen toy. This is a little similar to the Creamy Wild Rice Soup, but I revved it up by adding a Field Roast sausage (which we all thought, made the soup) and some other seasonings. I also didn’t have to prepare a roux, so it was even easier. This stew is perfect for a cold and wintry night. We’ve been socked in with LOTS of snow and temps this week haven’t risen much above 12 degrees. Our rain chain is certainly feeling it . . .

rainchainINGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/2 large red onion (about a cup)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 C vegetable broth
1 C wild rice mix (I like Lundberg’s Wild Blend)
1 Field Roast sausage (either Apple & Sage, or Italian Seasoning flavor), crumbled
3 small red potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 C Tofutti sour cream
1/4 C almond milk
3 Tbs flour
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper, to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

In a Dutch oven (3Q or larger) or in a large soup pot, melt the Earth Balance over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook 4-5 minutes, or until they are softened. Stir in the garlic and Field Roast and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and rice; cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and cook covered for another 20-25 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, milk and flour until well blended; stir into the soup. Season with the Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
soupsLet it cook a few minutes longer until heated through, then enjoy! (Serves 6)
wildricepotatoFRStew2

Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto

risottoWow, has it really been this long since my last post?! I guess the holidays will do that. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and so far a good 2014. I’ve made this risotto several times now, and I swear we love it more each time. Sure, there’s a little prep work involved, as well as some constant stirring, but I promise you, it’s worth it. You can even read a book while you make this. Seriously. Have a book  handy because you  might as well get some reading done as you stir. (A glass of wine wouldn’t hurt either).

INGREDIENTS:

3/4-oz pkg. dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4-oz pkg. dried porcini mushrooms
3 C vegetable broth
3 C fresh spinach, chopped
1/8-1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 large onion, chopped small (about 1 C)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
16-oz cremini mushrooms
1-1/2 tsp thyme
1 C Arborio rice
1/2 C white cooking wine
1-1/2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/8 C nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

To begin, soak the shiitake and porcini in very hot water for about 30 minutes. Once re-hydrated, drain, wash, and chop the mushrooms up small; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, lemon juice and salt; set aside as well. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil and add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat, then add the onion. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cremini, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms and cook 10-12 minutes, or until they have cooked down. Add the thyme, Arborio rice, and remaining olive oil. Combine the rice well in the pan and cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

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Add about 1/2 C of the broth and stir constantly until completely absorbed; repeat, adding only a 1/2 C of broth at a time. It will take about 20-30 minutes. (Good time to have a book handy). Next, stir in the spinach mixture and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach has cooked down. Stir in the Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, and black pepper. Enjoy! (This is great with some oven-roasted asparagus and garlic toast)!

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White Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

cookiesYep, that’s right. White chocolate-peanut butter cookies. I have to thank A Wonderful Vegan Life for turning me onto this peanut butter:

DSC08085Yeah, thanks a lot, because now I’m hooked! ;-)

Well, this takes peanut butter cookies to a whole new level . . . and the chocolate chips?! Forgetaboutit  . . .

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C Earth Balance margarine
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
Egg replacer for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
1 Tbs oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 C chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Using a mixer, combine the Earth Balance, peanut butter, and sugar. Once blended, add the egg-replacer, oil and extracts; mix well. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. While the mixer is running, add the dry ingredients a little at time. Incorporate all of the ingredients thoroughly, Next, stir in the chocolate chips using a spoon or spatula.

DSC08086Take small handfuls of dough and roll into a ball—as best you can; it’s not easy with the chocolate chips, then squish them down a little on the baking sheet.

DSC08087Bake for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!

Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables

GnocchiMy mom made this dish for me a few weeks ago and I’ve been anxious to make it for the family. It’s so easy to prepare. The only difficult part was actually finding this fancy little product . .

DSC08073My mom had used Knorr’s Vegetable Homestyle Stock, but I had a hell of time finding it—or I should say, finding the vegetable flavor. Of course the beef, chicken, and low-sodium chicken ones seemed to be available, but us vegemites seem to get left out. I eventually found them at Safeway, but only one of the two Safeways in town (Taft and Drake for you locals). Anyway, this stock is ideal for this dish. It’s extremely concentrated; like a paste, so all I had to do was add a little water, and volia! it was ready.

The gnocchi on the other hand, was pretty easy to find . . .

DSC08074

INGREDIENTS:

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, cut into big slices
1 large zucchini, cubed
1 large yellow squash, cubed
2 C carrots, cut into cubes/chunks
2-3 C mushrooms, quartered
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 tubs of Knorr Vegetable Homestyle Stock
2 (16-oz) pkgs. gnocchi

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare all of the veggies. (When peeling a butternut squash, a decent potato peeler works just fine). Combine all the veggies (except the mushrooms) in a large bowl. Drizzle with just a tiny bit of olive oil and teensy bit of balsamic vinegar. You don’t want the veggies dripping with oil; use enough to just barely coat them. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet. I used two pans—the vegetables won’t roast evenly if the pan is too crowded; they’ll steam instead.

DSC08071I roasted them for about 30 minutes before adding the mushrooms (that I prepared with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper). All ovens run differently and cooking time also depends on how large the vegetables are cut. Roast another 10 minutes or so. A good time to start the water boiling for the gnocchi would be right before you throw the mushrooms in.  In a small measuring cup, combine two tubs of the Knorr stock with about 1/2 C of water. Heat in the microwave for about a minute.

knorrThe gnocchi will only take 3-5 minutes. I divided the drained gnocchi in half and added them to the two pans of veggies. I then poured 1/4 C of the stock to each pan and coated everything well. I ended up combing both pans into one . . .

DSC08078That’s it! So delicious . . . enjoy!

Polenta Marsala

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It’s great to be back with a new recipe! I haven’t worked with polenta much, so I decided to take the easy route and use the pre-cooked version.

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It’s great when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Having always liked Marsala-anything, I wanted to give it a try with polenta, another new favorite around here. The recipe calls for flour, but feel free to make this meal gluten-free by using another type of flour, such as rice flour. The Husband called this “f***ing brilliant.” Need I say more?

INGREDIENTS:

1-18oz tube of pre-cooked polenta (I used the basil garlic variety)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced (I recommend cremini or baby portobello)
1/2 C green onion, sliced
3 Tbs Earth Balance
1/4 C flour, any variety
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
1  to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C Marsala cooking wine

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the polenta into about 18-19 slices.

20130701_182025

In a small bowl, combine the flour, marjoram, and pepper; set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the polenta slices. You may have to do a couple of batches, like I did. Brown the polenta, about 5-7 minutes on each side.

20130701_184508

Once they are all browned, set aside. Wipe out the skillet and add the Earth Balance. After it melts, whisk in the flour mixture. Over medium heat, add the broth and Marsala, little by little, continually whisking until it’s smooth. You may have some extra broth leftover at this point, but hang onto it in case you need to thin the sauce out more later. Add the mushrooms and green onion, and mix together. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms cook down a little. You may need to add a little more broth to thin the sauce.

20130701_191043

Add the polenta slices to the pan and carefully fold them into the sauce. Simmer on low until the slices are heated through again. Enjoy!

Victoria, BC & Seattle . . . Here We Come!

victoria09Space Needle and Mount Rainier

 

We leave this weekend for a week in Victoria, BC and a week in Seattle! We’re very exited to get away and looking forward to spending time in two places we’ve never been. I’ve done a lot of research on places to see, places to eat, but it’d be great to get some recommendations!

So, how about it? Any recommendations?

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.

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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 . . .

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

DSC07775

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?!

Mock Tuna Salad

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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!

Homemade Gluten-Free Ravioli

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

Creamy Baked Potato Soup

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Quinoa Pasta with Kale and Mushrooms

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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.

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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.

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

Soy Yogurt Covered Blueberries with an Unexpected Ending

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

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So how did they go from this . . .

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. . . to this?!

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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 . . .

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

Anyway, they certainly made great smoothies.

Quinoa with Dried Apricots and Black Beans

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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.

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

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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

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Grilled & Stuffed Avocados

3-Nut Cheese

Spicy Empanadas

Cashew-Truffle Hummus

White Bean Truffle Spread

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Side Dishes & Salads

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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

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Lasagna Soup

Mushroom Chowder with Potatoes and Rosemary

Pesto-Potato Soup

Chili Stew

Hearty Vegetable Stew

Vegan New England Chik’n Corn Chowder

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Breakfast

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Lemony Quinoa-Almond Granola

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Zucchini and Kale Frittata

.

Lunch

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Quinoa with Mushrooms and Spinach

Chickpea Salad

Portobello Wraps

.

Dinner

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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

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Gluten-Free Granola Bars

Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

Papaya Trail Mix

.

Desserts 

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Avocado Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

Gluten-Free Cupcakes

Lemon Monkey Bread

Vegan Herbed Cream Cheese

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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 . . .

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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!

Lemon Monkey Bread

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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

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DIRECTIONS:

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

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

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Drizzle with the melted butter . . .

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

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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)!

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

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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!

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

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UPDATE:

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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Hearty Vegetable Stew

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

Quinoa with Walnuts and Spinach

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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

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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.

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

 

Potato-Leek Chowder

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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.

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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!

Halloween Fun

Another Halloween come and gone . . . with lots of delicious food and drink and wonderful friends. This is just one of many hysterical pictures!

The Menu

Guacamole, Black Rice Salad, Almond cheeze (herb and plain), pumpkin hummus, Party Cheese Ball, Spinach Dip, Pesto Potato Soup, Cashew-Truffle Hummus and cupcakes!

I hope you had a safe and fabulous Halloween!

French Bread Pizzas

Now this is pizza you have eat with a fork and a knife. These really are a no-brainer to make, but I’ll post them because sometimes the easiest and quickest meals can be the hardest to come up with. I didn’t feel like taking the time to make dough, let it rise, knead it . . . so using French bread is a way around that. Just add your favorite toppings . . .

 . . . and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Pesto-Potato Soup

 

I told you I’d find a way to use the pesto—or at least some of it. This soup, from Crash Test Vegetarian has become a mainstay around here. I’ve made small changes during the half a dozen times I’ve made it and I have to say, adding the pesto is probably my favorite variation. It reminds me of the Pesto-Potato Bread that is so delicious. Served with bread or croutons, this is a fabulous fall dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

4-5 C potatoes, peeled and diced

2 C celery, sliced

1 C onion, diced

4 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base

4 Tbs Earth Balance

6 Tbs flour

2 C almond milk

2 Tbs basil pesto

Salt and pepper

Vegan cheddar shreds, optional

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, whisk together the bouillon base with 6 cups of water. Add the celery and onions and bring to a boil. Stir in the potatoes and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes become tender. You should have just enough water to cover the potatoes and veggies, so if it’s too watery, you’ll want to drain some of the liquid. In a medium saucepan, melt the Earth Balance, slowly whisk in the flour; blend well. You’ll end up with a paste. Blend in the pesto. Little by little, add the almond milk and whisk thoroughly. Cook over medium/high heat and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour into the soup and bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes until soup is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

 

Vegan White Lasagna

So there are moments in history where you want to slap your forehead and say, “Seriously?” The OJ Simpson acquittal. . . Lady GagGag’s meat dress . . . the recent attacks on Sesame Street . . . Oh, and the terrible call that cost cost the Green Bay Packers the game against the Seattle Seahawks a couple of weeks ago . . .(that’s for you, Jessie)! I had a moment of forehead-slapping-followed-by-a-REALLY? when I forgot a key ingredient in this meal. Pesto. See . . . I even made it:

But I made it earlier in the day and forgot to use it. Wheresma pesto? In the fridge. For those of you unfamiliar with “wheresma,” let me give you a brief history. My dear and wonderful husband apparently earned the nickname, “Wheresma” because he often asked, “Where’s my (this)?” “Where’s my (that)? Enduring, right? No. Wheresma makes an appearance every once in while . . .

Anyhoo . . . I have to admit, the lasagna just wasn’t the same without the pesto. I highly recommend you don’t forget this ingredient. It was still tasty and leftover-worthy, but it didn’t have the flavor I was hoping for, so don’t forget the pesto!

INGREDIENTS:

Ricotta:

1 12-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C vegan mozzarella

Pesto:

4 C basil leaves
1 C Italian leaf parsley
1 C pine nuts
4 cloves garlic cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
2/3 C olive oil
6 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

White sauce:

3 Tbs Earth Balance
1/4 C flour
2 C almond milk
1/2 C white wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1/3 C nutritional yeast (this is in the ricotta, so if you can leave this out, otherwise, I think it’s a great addition)

The rest:

12 lasagna noodles
5 C kale, cut into 1-2″ pieces
2 C sliced mushrooms
1 C onion, diced
olive oil
Vegan mozzarella, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Save yourself a headache by making the ricotta and pesto a day ahead, or at least earlier in the day. (Just don’t forget about them). For the ricotta, combine everything but the vegan mozzarella in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. To make the pesto, combine everything but the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Add the nuts and Parm and blend well.

I like using traditional lasagna noodles, as opposed to the no-boil variety. The trick is to not boil them too long. They’ll cook the rest of the way later on in the oven. I also made a small batch (8″x8″) pan, which meant cutting 2-3″ off the noodles in order to fit the pan. I ended up with 4 layers, but feel free to make 3 layers in a 9×13″ pan. So . . .to begin, start the noodles. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes, or until the onions get tender. Add the mushrooms and kale and cook a few more minutes, until the mushrooms soften and the kale wilts.

To make the sauce, melt the Earth Balance. Slowly whisk the flour, a little at a time until you reach a thick paste.

Whisk in the milk a little bit at a time until there aren’t any clumps left. Stir with a whisk over medium-high heat until thickened, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water. Pour about half of the sauce mixture on the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish. Lay 3 lasagna noodles (you’ll need to cut the noodles to fit) on the bottom of the pan. Spread on about 2 Tbs of ricotta on each noodle, then a layer of the pesto. Top with a thin layer of  the mushroom/kale mixture.

Repeat layers, ending with the final three lasagna noodles. Pour the rest of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with some vegan mozzarella if you’d like.

Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Barley-Stuffed Peppers

 

I know, stuffed peppers again?! But they’re so easy to change up and try new ingredients combinations. Like most stuffed peppers, these are easy to make, but allow some extra time, especially using barley as it takes 45 minutes to cook.

INGREDIENTS:

3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeds and stems removed

1 C pearl barley

2-1/2 C veggie broth (I like to use Better than Bouillon vegetable base)

1 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 a large onion, diced

1-1/2 C mushrooms, diced

1/4 C pepitas (shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced

1/2 to 1 tsp shallot salt

Black pepper, to taste

2 Tbs white wine

3 Tbs of Earth Balance, divided

Parmezano sprinkles, optional

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sauce pan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the barley, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and cook until tender and slightly browned. Add the pepitas, rosemary, shallot salt, and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes over medium to low heat.

 

Once the barley is cooked, add it to the skillet, along with the mushrooms, and stir well to combine. Add the white wine and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Stuff the peppers with the filling and press down, adding as much as possible to each one. Place them into a large baking dish. Add a cup of water to the dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes. Once baked, top each pepper with a half a tablespoon of Earth Balance, replace the foil, and let sit for 5 minutes. Top with the Parmezano Sprinkles, and enjoy!

Have you taken the Leaping Bunny Pledge?

Like many, I’ve evolved over time to becoming a “strict” vegan. I got rid of dairy in 2007, gave up meat in 2009, have since stop buying and wearing leather and fur (although I never wore fur to begin with) and I’ve been getting rid of all cosmetics and other products that test on animals. Thankfully, Leaping Bunny makes it easy to find cruelty-free products. By signing up (for free!) and taking the leap to be cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny will send you this Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide that lists A-Z, companies that “do not test finished products, ingredients, or formulations on animals.”

It is estimated that up to 100 million animals are tested on annually. Some would argue that many medical breakthroughs of the 20th Century have been established because of animal testing, but I see no reason why lipsticks, eye shadows, and other cosmetic and toiletries need to be tested on animals, which include, but are not limited to primates, dogs, rabbits, cats, and mice. To learn more, I strongly urge you read these 11 Facts about Animal Testing at DoSomething.org. And you can also rely on PETA to show you the horrors of animal testing too. I may not be able to stop animal testing, but I can certainly do something about it at home. I’ll be the first to admit, it can be hard to give up products that you’ve come to love. We all get addicted to certain lotions, makeups, soaps, etc., but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, you may just find a new and cruelty-free favorite. I don’t expect my readers (vegan and non-vegan) to eliminate these animal products from their homes, but I hope to at least make you think about these products you use and what the animals had to suffer through to get it in your hands. (I know, I’m laying on the guilt here…)

If you want to know what companies still test on animals, check out this list. Print it off and start throwing stuff away (or donate it). PETA also is a great resource for more information. Click HERE. 

What are your recommendations for cruelty-free products? 

Product Review: Edward & Sons Brown Rice Snaps

I discovered these crackers a few months ago, and I’ve been buying them ever since. They’re made by Edward & Sons and come in a variety of flavors including vegetable, toasted onion, and black sesame. I’ve only been able to find the vegetable and toasted onion ones at the store, but you can order the other varieties HERE. Of the two, the vegetable flavored one is my favorite. These are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and 96% organic. Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Red Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Green Bell Peppers. Dehydrated vegetable powders. It ain’t easy finding a tasty vegan and gluten-free cracker, but it looks like Ed and his sons have done an excellent job!

They’re ideal with Daiya cheese!

Starbucks is a Tease

It’s that time a year again…where Starbucks taunts us vegas with their Pumpkin Spice Latte. Word has gotten around by now to most vegans, that the PSL is not vegan. If you didn’t know that, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. Even ordering it with soy milk, it contains condensed nonfat milk. Boo! Hiss!

In a quest to make my own at home, I came across this recipe. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m going to try to this week.

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In the meantime, have you found a recipe for a vegan PSL? Please, do share!

Carrot-Ginger Soup

I have been wanting to make this soup for some time, ever since we first had some at The Black Cat in Boulder. My friend Jessie, gave me this recipe. I tweaked it a little, and in fact, I may tweak it a bit more next time I make it by using canned coconut milk instead of coconut meat or shreds. Either way, this is a fantastic soup for any carrot lover. It can be served warm or cold—both ways are delicious. We enjoyed this with the tasty tomato tarts.

INGREDIENTS:

3 C carrot juice (I juiced 12 large carrots)

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

3 Tbs freshly grated gingerroot

1/2 C unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

2 dashes of nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C almond milk

Optional: cayenne pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth (you may have tiny specks of coconut). If you’d like it warm, transfer to a large sauce or soup pot and heat. Enjoy!

Yields: 32-oz

Wine and Words

For the second year in a row, I catered Wine & Words, a fundraising event for the Northern Colorado Writers. I love this event and I definitely love showing people that vegan food is delicious! You’ve seen the gluten-free & vegan cupcakes and I’m excited to show you what else I made (and about 95% organic, too!)

Quinoa Salad

I cooked 2 cups of quinoa in 2-1/2 cups of vegetable broth. I let it cool in the fridge for a day, then added 1 chopped up cucumber, two chopped tomatoes, a chopped red onion, 1 cup of chopped parsley, and a cup of toasted pinenuts. In a small bowl, I combined 3 Tbs of ume plum vinegar with 2 Tbs of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, then mixed it into the salad. Easy!

Field Roast-Stuffed Mushrooms 

These were gone in minutes! I cooked up a diced green pepper with a small chopped onion and added four ground up Field Roast sausages, Italian flavor. I could make the stuffing a day ahead, so that helped out. I then used about 60 mushrooms and lightly sauteed them in Earth Balance and garlic. Don’t cook too much, just enough to soften them up. Just before the event, I heated up the stuffing in a pan on the stove and stuffed the mushrooms.

Pesto Potato Bread Sandwiches

I LOVE this bread for these finger sandwiches. The recipe makes two loaves, so I made two different kinds of sandwiches. I did, however, use a seasoned cream cheese (Tofutti mixed with Good Seasoning dressing mix) on both. On one, I had cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh basil. On the other, I used  roasted red peppers and avocados.

Fruit Cones

I figured this was a great way to eat fruit! I dipped the tops of ice cream cones in melted chocolate, then poured sprinkles around the top. Initially, I was going to fill them with fruit to serve, but it made more sense to let guests do it. That way, they can be picky about what fruit they want, and then the fruit wouldn’t make the cones soggy. I also recommend spooning a bit of chocolate into the bottom of the cone for added chocolate goodness!

I also made a huge batch (not enough!) of Avocado Bruschetta and served them with tortilla scoops and gluten-free crackers. The Spinach Dip was also a hit and I served it with cut up peppers, cucumbers, and celery. Olives and a green salad rounded it out and made for a fabulous event!

Gluten-Free & Vegan Cupcakes (Vanilla and Chocolate-Almond)!

Last weekend, for the second year in a row, I catered Wine and Words, a fundraising event for the Northern Colorado Writers. (Hence, the Scrabble-like tile cookies on top). I wanted to be able to provide not only vegan food, but lots of gluten-free options as well. I think these cupcakes came out pretty damn good. Granted, they’ve got plenty of sugar, but vegan and gluten-free is certainly on the right track (especially since they have flax in them)! The original recipe is from Living Without magazine, but I altered several ingredients and steps. The baking mix is a great base for GF muffins, cupcakes, and cakes. One batch makes 24 cupcakes. I made two batches: one vanilla, one chocolate.

INGREDIENTS:

Flour mixture: (makes 7.5 cups)

3-3/4 C chickpea a.k.a garbanzo flour

2-1/4 C potato starch

1-1/2 C tapioca flour

The cupcakes:

6 Tbs water

2 Tbs flax meal

1 C almond milk

1 tsp cider vinegar

3-1/2 C of the baking mix (use 3 cups for the chocolate ones)

1 Tbs + 1 tap baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1-1/2 C granulated sugar

1/2 C vegetable shortening

2 tsp vanilla (use almond extract for the chocolate ones)

Also, add 1/2 C baking cocoa to the 3 cups of baking mix if making chocolate ones)

Sugar cookie tile:

7/8 C rice flour

1 tsp xantan gum

1/2 C Earth Balance

1/2 C sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

zest from one lemon

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, whisk together the three flours for the baking mix. Store in an airtight container. Preheat the oven to 350 and line two 12-cup muffin tins. In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and cider vinegar and set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together the water and flax meal; set aside.

In large bowl, combine 3-1/2 cups of the baking mix (again, use 3 cups of flour mix + 1/2 C cocoa for chocolate ones) with the baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum.  Using a mixer, beat the shortening and sugar together until well combined and fluffy.

Add the flax mixture and vanilla (again, use almond extract for chocolate cupcakes). Next, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk/cider mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

You will have a very thick, but moist batter. When I fill muffin cups, I tend to hold them in my hand to fill them up—it makes for a cleaner process with less chance of dropping globs of batter everywhere. This batter is pretty thick though, so you’ll have more control with these. Fill the 24 muffin cups evenly; about a 1/4 C in each.

 

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the sugar cookies, combine the sugar and Earth Balance. Add the vanilla and combine well. In a separate bowl, combine the rice flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and lemon zest. Shape into a ball and chill for at least 2 hours. Using a light rolling pin (not a marble one if you can help it), roll out about half of the dough.

I used a pizza cutter for the “tiles.”

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

I used a gel frosting for the lettering . . .

I didn’t have the patience to put the number in the corner like an actual Scrabble tile, but you get the idea…

I made some butter frosting for the cupcakes and topped with the letter or some sliced strawberries.

Enjoy!

Vegan Potatoes au Gratin

We’re a potato-loving crowd around here. We’re certainly loving the leftovers of these, too. I didn’t want to overdo the carbs with this meal, so I steamed some kale and carrots, and had a side of fresh fruit salad.

INGREDIENTS:

8 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin

3 Tbs vegetable broth or water

1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

2 Tbs arrowroot

1 tsp salt (or Old Bay seasoning)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1-1/2 C almond milk

1 C vegan cheddar, shredded and divided

3 slices of bread (the heels of the bread are ideal for this)

3 Tbs Earth Balance, divided

Paprika

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400. Spread half of the potato slices on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of the Earth Balance and add the garlic. Cook for a minute. Add the broth or water and bring to a boil. Whisk in the arrowroot and cook for a minute over medium heat. Slowly add the almond milk and whisk as you go. Raise the heat and little and continue stirring until it begins to thicken. Add the salt, pepper, dry mustard, and nutmeg. Stir in half of the vegan cheese.

Once the cheese is mostly melted, spread half of the milk mixture on top of the potatoes in the pan.

Layer the remaining potatoes on top, then spread the rest of the sauce on top. To make breadcrumbs, combine the slices of bread and remaining 2 Tbs of Earth Balance in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly and sprinkle on top of potatoes, along with the rest of the cheese.

 Sprinkle the top with paprika. Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (check using a fork or toothpick).

Enjoy!

Vegan New England Chik’n Corn Chowder

This may not be something you’d consider making in the summer, but on a rainy evening (which we could desperately use) this chowder would hit the spot. Even without the rainy weather, this soup is absolutely delicious! The Seventh Grader picked it out, so we worked side-by-side in the kitchen on this one. It comes together rather quickly—certainly under 25 minutes. The original recipe is from LightLife. We made some changes though and actually had to guess on some directions because they weren’t real clear on how some of the ingredients needed to be prepared. I also used Morning Star Chik’n Strips. The recipe makes only 3 servings, which is great for us, but you may want to double the recipe to feed more. (Note: You probably wouldn’t need to double the Chik’n Strips, because I think there’d be plenty for a double batch).

INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg Morning Start Meal Starter Chik’n Strips

4 slices LightLife Smart Bacon

3 Tbs Earth Balance

1/2 C onion, chopped

2 large celery stalks, chopped

1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, diced

2 Tbs flour

3 C almond milk

1-1/2 C corn kernels

1 tsp fresh thyme

Salt, pepper and cayenne, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

If the Chik’n Strips are frozen, defrost a little, then chop up into bite-sized pieces.

In a soup pot, heat the Earth Balance until melted. Over medium/high heat, add the onion, celery, and pepper. (Remember, wear your rubbers when handling hot peppers ;-) )

Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until the veggies are tender. While this is going on, you may want to get the bacon frying. Cook according to package instructions. Add the flour to the pot and cook about a minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add the almond milk and incorporate it well. Add the corn, Chik’n, thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes.

Serve with some crumbled veg bacon on top. Enjoy!

Vegan Pigs in a Blanket

I can’t say I recall having pigs in a blanket much when I was a kid, although I’m sure many of you grew up on snacking on these. Even vegan, they’re  probably not the healthiest, but that’s ok–there’s nothing wrong with some Pillbury Crescent Rolls once in a great while. The Seventh-Grader really wanted to try these, so after a tiny bit of prep, we had a quick snack. I added a little Daiya cheese to one, just to see how it tasted and it was pretty darn good!

INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg Pillbury Crescent Rolls (8)

4 Smart Dogs (or other veggie dog of your choice), cut in half

Daiya cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Unroll the dough and separate each piece. Roll up one of the dogs, starting at the wide end.

Mine with cheese…

Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

These are great served with ketchup, horseradish, mustard…you name it. Enjoy!

Baked Truffle Polenta Fries

This is a first for me. I’ve never eaten polenta at home, but I’ve ordered it in restaurants. I decided to try making polenta fries, but the easy way . . .

Ancient Harvest

This is certainly an ideal way to make fries: crack open a polenta log, slice, season, and bake!

INGREDIENTS:

 1 tube of polenta

1/8 C olive oil

2 Tbs truffle oil

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450. Combine the two oils in a small dish. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush the foil with some of the oil mixture. Slice the polenta into 1/2″ slices.

Then cut each slice into thirds.

Place the slices on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the oil mixture; season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Enjoy!

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers

The Seventh-Grader was nice enough to share his cold with me. I can’t remember the last time I was out of commission with a cold, and I don’t plan to let this one win. So far, I’ve kept it somewhat at bay with lots of juiced veggies and kale. Never under estimate the healing powers of vegetables. That may be why I was drawn to making these. Bell peppers, particularly orange and yellow ones, are packed with vitamins C, A, and B6. (Although the heating process will deplete them a bit). But I’m certain they still retain many of their healthy benefits. These also have mushrooms which are a great source of B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D, and potassium. Now on to the zucchini…these guys have tons of vitamin C and A which are actually anti-inflammatory agents. Zucchinis are also high in fiber—an added bonus! And let’s not forget that quinoa is an ideal source of protein, too! Let the healing begin!

Oh, and remember Operation Save Basil from October?

I’m happy to report that it has bounced back beautifully. It looks like there’s room to add another basil plant, but for now, I’m thrilled the basil’s back, baby!

INGREDIENTS:

3 large bell peppers (preferably orange, red, or yellow) sliced in half and innards cleaned out

1 C quinoa

1-15oz can mandarin oranges (look for no sugar added), juice reserved

1 C water

1 tsp tamari

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

1/2 C slivered almonds

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1 small zucchini, sliced then quartered

1/2 C fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce:

1 C almond milk

2 Tbs arrowroot

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs yellow miso

dash of nutmeg

dash of garlic salt

DIRECTIONS:

Begin with the quinoa: Combine the quinoa, reserved Mandarin orange juice, water, and tamari in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Let simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Add the slivered almonds and cook them for 5-7 minutes, stirring often.

Add the zucchini, mushrooms, salt, and pepper; cook another 6-8 minutes on medium heat.

Once the veggies are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the oranges and basil.

Stir in the cooked quinoa and evenly fill the pepper halves.

Sometimes I pour about 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan before covering with foil. This will help soften the peppers without overcooking the filling. I think this is especially important when using cheese or fake meats in the filling. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients over high heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Don’t worry about getting the sauce thickened; it’s meant to seep and ooze into the filling. :-)

Ladle the sauce over the peppers and enjoy!

Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchiladas

These are probably some of the tastiest enchiladas I’ve had. The original recipe is from eat, drink & be veganI made a couple of minor changes because I couldn’t find one of the ingredients, added some green chilies, but also made a bigger batch (inadvertently). Her recipe yielded 10-12 enchiladas, but I ended up with 17—if my pan was bigger, I would have got 18. I’m glad that I bought extra enchilada sauce because of this. I’m not sure if I just didn’t fill the tortillas up enough, but I definitely had lots of filling left over after the first dozen tortillas. In any case, they were delicious. I was really intrigued with the 1/2 cup of cashew pieces the recipe requires and I have to tell you, they’re fabulous—they add just a little crunch. I highly recommend using them. Below is how I made these, but click on the above link for the original recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

16-18 corn tortillas

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 C onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp Ancho chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

2-1/2 C mushrooms, sliced

1 can pinto beans, drained

1/2 C cashews, chopped

2 Tbs lime juice

2 avocados, peeled and pitted

1-1/4 tsp salt

2 19 oz cans enchilada sauce

1 small can diced green chilies, mild or hot

Optional ingredients: Daiya cheese, cilantro, and vegan sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions, chili powder, cumin, allspice, the 1/4 tsp of salt, and the pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, beans, and cashews and cook another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the avocado with the 1-1/4 tsp of salt in a bowl, or use the food processor. The avocados I had weren’t completely ripe so I used the food processor. I probably got them a little too mashed, but it turned out just fine.

Stir in half a can of one of the enchilada sauces and the green chilies, into the avocado mixture.

Blend the avocado mixture with the onion/mushroom mixture. At this point, I heated some water in my steam pot to steam the tortilla shells. Place a tortilla one at a time in the pot–it’ll only take about 15-20 seconds per side to steam the tortilla. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce from the first can on the bottom of a 15″ baking dish (you can also use some from the other can. I also started out with a 9×13 and realized it wasn’t going to be big enough, so I added an 8×8″ baking dish). Fill each tortilla with about 4-5 tablespoons of filling, roll up, and place fold-side down in the pan. Repeat. Pour the remaining sauce on top.

Cover and bake 16-18 minutes. Remove the foil and top with cheese (if using) and bake another 10-12 minutes.

Top with cilantro and sour cream. Enjoy!

 

Cabbage and Portobello Tacos

Sorry for the absence! I’m back and ready to cook! These veggie tacos were certainly well-received last night by the family. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had much time to cook for them lately, but whatever the reason, they made this vegan trio happy.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 Tbs olive oil

3 large portobello caps, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

2 medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

3 C red/purple cabbage, sliced into wide strips

Corn taco shells

Seasonings: (mild)

1 Tbs chili powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

The rest (optional): fresh cilantro, sliced green onion, salsa, or avocado slices

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the garlic and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions, zucchini, and cabbage; cook 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown. Combine the seasoning ingredients and add to the pan along with the portobellos.

Thoroughly combine everything. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook the mushrooms until they soften and reduce in size, 7-9 minutes. You may want to cover the pan and let them cook.

Serve in warmed corn taco shells and top with any of the optional ingredients. This is a fabulous (and quick) gluten & soy-free meal! Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Tetrazzini-Stuffed Peppers

The Seventh Grader wanted spaghetti for dinner; I wanted stuffed peppers. We compromised, which turned out to be a very delicious compromise! You’ll only need 4-5 ounces of spaghetti to fill 6 halves of peppers, but I used 8 ounces and had some leftover tetrazzini for a future lunch. Otherwise, I find 3 ounces of dry pasta, useless. I made these gluten-free by using quinoa pasta, and rice flour, but feel free to use any variety you’d like.

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz quinoa spaghetti

3 bell peppers, cut in half, stems removed and cleaned out

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1/4 C onion, diced

1/3 C rice flour

2 C almond milk

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 Tbs onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 C panko

Daiya cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. Break the spaghetti into thirds and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onion and zucchini; cook until softened.

In a blender, combine the rice flour, half of the almond milk, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Blend until smooth. Add the sauce to the veggies and over low to medium heat, stir, adding the rest of the almond milk. This should only take a few minutes.

I used kitchen scissors to cut the drained spaghetti a bit more, then added it to the sauce. Combine well.

If you’d like, sprinkle some Daiya cheese in the bottoms of the peppers, then stuff with the spaghetti mixture. Top with some panko, then cover with foil.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy! 

More Fun with Ramen

You may remember that The Seventh Grader likes to experiment in the kitchen, particularly using ramen noodles. Recently, he came up with a new creation: Ramen Nests. After cooking the noodles, he sprayed a muffin tin with cooking spray and divided the noodles into four nests. After baking for a few minutes, he then added some chopped spinach, Daiya cheese, and his own array of spices such as garlic salt and pepper. He then baked them a bit more. They were quite delicious! What a cheap appetizer! (4 nests for about $0.20)  Such a culinary genius! ;-)

A Welcomed Getaway

It’s been a whirlwind week and a half, hence, my absence from posting. The Seventh Grader had to have his appendix out, then proceeded to follow it up with three ER visits, then two nights in hospital due to complications from surgery. Luckily, he’s doing great, but it did change our spring break plans of snowboarding. Not a big deal. We ended up going anyway since we were all in desperate need of a getaway. We stayed in this great little studio apartment in Nederland, CO, just 15 miles from the ski resort (not that that mattered). This was our favorite spot to hang out:

The apartment is just around to the left of the house.

I brought up way too much food (as usual) but we didn’t have time to check out the restaurants in town. I made a batch of VegNews’ Mac n’ Cheese and salad.

We ventured into town the second day and came across First Street Pub and Grill.

 

We checked out the menu posted outside and saw lots of vegan options including the Vegan Supreme Pizza. We were hooked. I decided to fudge on my no-wheat rule and order the pizza.

It was delicious! It had tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, and pine nuts. The only thing I thought it lacked was some type of sauce. They had hummus listed on their menu for an appetizer and I think hummus would have been a great addition to this pizza, or at least a tomato sauce. Otherwise, it was quite good. The Seventh Grader went with a vegetarian calzone:

And The Husband went with the portobello sandwich:

We also spent one day in Boulder which was only thirty minutes away. We were experiencing a little heatwave and enjoyed the 75 degree day! Of course, we stopped at the Dushanbe Teahouse for a late breakfast.  I had the Teahouse Garden Wrap, minus the goat cheese.

Excellent!

It wasn’t the spring break we expected, but it turned out amazing!

Vegan Scalloped Yams and Zucchini

I found myself with several yams and sometimes, I don’t always know what to do with them. So why not scalloped potatoes? I threw in some zucchini and onions, and topped it with some Daiya and panko. Delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

2 large yams, peeled and sliced thin

1 small onion

1 medium zucchini, sliced, then quartered

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

2-1/2 Tbs arrowroot

1/4 C nutritional yeast

2 C almond milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced

1/4 C panko

Daiya cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Boil the yams in a large soup pot for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until softened. Add the seasonings.

Whisk together the milk, arrowroot, and nutritional yeast. Pour it into the skillet with the onions and zucchini. Stir continuously until the sauce begins to thicken.

Layer half of the yams into an 8″ baking dish. Pour half of the onion mixture on top and spread evenly around. Layer on the rest of the yams, then the mixture. Top with some cheese.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the panko and bake another 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Vegan & Soy-Free Ricotta Cheese

I am so excited to share this recipe with all of you! Having to give up soy is a little less traumatic now that I’ve come up with a delicious soy-free ricotta cheese. After I made the switch from no wheat and no soy, The Seventh Grader wanted stuffed shells. Of course. And . . . like the power of suggestion, I wanted stuffed shells in the worst way. So I couldn’t use my go-to riotta cheese, nor use regular jumbo shells. Thankfully, I found these “Grand Shells” from Tinkyada.

The ingredients are simple: brown rice, rice bran, and water. They’re a little smaller than the typical flour-based jumbo shells . . .

. . . but it’s not a big deal. They also don’t fold over like regular shells do either. Again, no biggie. Also, cooking these are a bit different. Bring water to a boil, add the shells and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the shells sit for 20 minutes. The shells definitely aren’t mushy like some brown rice pasta can be. In fact, they’re pretty al dente—almost too much. If you want them a little softer, I’d leave them for 25-30 minutes. Overall, very impressive! I thought they were delicious.

So onto the ricotta. This recipe makes quite a bit—great for a big pan of lasagna. Feel free to half it for a small portion, otherwise, it makes almost 4 cups.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C blanched almonds

1 C cashews

1 C cold water

1/8 C olive oil

3-4 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil

1 Tbs fresh rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 C Daiya cheese,  Mozzarella flavored

DIRECTIONS:

I threw the cashews in a bowl of water while I blanched the almonds. Soaking the nuts are not necessary, unless you have the time and want a really smooth ricotta. Add them to the food processor.

Add the water, oil, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. This may take a few minutes to get it real smooth, especially if you opt not to soak the nuts overnight, which I did not. It just depends on your preference. I happen to like the nutty texture.

Next, add the basil, rosemary, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Blend until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.

I had some jumbo shells as well as tofu-ricotta in the freezer, so for the guys, I made them regular stuffed shells. Since I don’t have celiac disease and not concerned with cross-contamination, I combined both in the pan.

Layer on some sauce and Daiya cheese and you’re good to go. Bake covered for 25 minutes at 375.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Granola Bars

These are packed with nutty love! They’re also simple to make and grab while you’re on the go. You can sub in your favorite nuts, dried fruit, or even some chopped coconut. Go wild!

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 C quick oats

2 Tbs brown rice flour

2 Tbs quinoa flakes

1/2 C nuts, chopped (I used peanuts and pecans)

1/4 C sunflower seeds

1/4 C chia seeds

2 Tbs flaxseeds

1/2 C dried fruit, chopped (I used Craisins)

1/2 C dark chocolate chips

3 Tbs almond butter

1 small avocado, pitted

2 Tbs brown rice syrup

3 Tbs almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, quinoa flakes, nuts, seeds, fruit, and chocolate chips.

Using a fork, mash up the avocado. Add the almond butter, almond milk, syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. Lightly oil an 8″ baking pan and press the mixture evenly in the dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.

Cool the pan on a rack, then cut into squares. Enjoy!