About Melanie

Plant-based personal chef and food lover living in south Florida.

David Lynch’s Quinoa With Broccoli

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I found myself inspired the other night by David Lynch’s short film, Quinoa, included as a special feature on his Inland Empire DVD. Filmed in black and white, in his own kitchen, the innovative filmmaker and artist leads us step-by- step through the preparation of one of his favorite dinners, quinoa with broccoli.

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While the dish cooks, Lynch takes a break on his porch with a glass of wine and a cigarette and tells us a story about his 1965 train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. So random, yet so fascinating. So Lynch.

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Quinoa with Broccoli

from the short film, Quinoa by David Lynch

 

Ingredients:

A scant 1/2 cup quinoa, dry

Water for cooking

pinch of salt

1 small vegetable bouillon cube, cut into pieces

3/4 cup organic broccoli florets

Braggs liquid aminos, to taste

Olive oil, extra virgin, to taste

Method:

Fill a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about an inch of fresh water. Set it over a nice, hot flame and bring to the boil with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the quinoa and reduce flame to low. Cover and simmer for 9 minutes.

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After 9 minutes, lift the lid and add the broccoli. Cover and continue to steam over low heat for another 8 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the cut up bouillon cube directly into quinoa and stir until dissolved.

Taste for salt, then add liquid aminos and a splash of olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.

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Makes 1 large portion.

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Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor! You can also use Emeril’s Essence right off the shelf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

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Have I ever mentioned how crazy I am for jerk? This wildly flavorful balance of hot peppers, herbs, spices, brown sugar and tangy onions is so crazy good–and I never even tried it at home until I went vegan. I like it homemade better than any other way.

With this recipe, I suggest you make it worth your while and double or even quadruple the ingredients to either freeze some marinade for later, or do what I did: roast up a ton of tempeh in the oven and store in the freezer for a quick supper or crumbled in dirty rice. Yum!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

8 ounces tempeh (Westsoy Brand is preferable), cut crosswise into 8 slices

Marinade: 

2 scallions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded (or if you can take the heat, level up with scotch bonnets)

2 T lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1 1/2 T olive oil

2/4 T sea salt

1/2 T brown sugar

1/2 T fresh thyme leaves

1 t allspice, ground

1 t black pepper, ground

1/4 t fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

Method:

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Puree all marinade ingredients in blender until smooth.

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Marinate tempeh slices overnight

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Roast in 400 degree oven on a greased, foil-lined pan  for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast another 10 minutes or so, until marinade is absorbed and exterior is crisp and dry.

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Enjoy!

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Vegan Zucchini-Spice Muffins

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When my day in the kitchen is smooth, I often have a little energy left over to make something just for fun. Today I baked these delicious, moist muffins filled with nutritious real food like fresh zucchini, banana, applesauce, walnuts and raisins. And just in time for tea!

This recipe comes directly from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website. She’s definitely my go-to gal for the tastiest, fool-proof vegan recipes. Click here to link directly to her site and the recipe: ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD

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I made little modification, other than using whole wheat pastry flour, adding a little

chai masala for extra spiciness and baking the batter as muffins instead of in a loaf pan.

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They baked up in about 20 minutes. Just watch your time. You’ll know when they’re ready–nice high, lightly-browned domes and dry on top, but if you’re not sure just poke a toothpick or the blade of a thin knife through the center to make sure the batter is no longer wet.

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Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

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So, you reach a point when you stop trying to replace cheese with processed substitutes like Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Your palate can finally appreciate the pure flavors of the tomatoes, the onions, the garlic against the sprinkling of herbs simmered into the sauce.

And yet, there is that missing element. You are looking for a light, creamy counterpoint to the tangy, savory marinara in your lasagna or pasta bake or fresh vegan pizza. This quick and easy recipe is just the solution.

Made with basic pantry staples, this no-cook, tofu-based cheesy sauce comes together lickety-split, faster than the time it takes to boil pasta.

 

Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

From VegNews magazine

 

1 pkg Tofu, firm silken, 12.3 ounce (shelf-stable type, like Mori-Nu, not water-packed)
¼ cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1 ½ tbsp. Miso, white
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Cornstarch
½ tsp. Onion powder
¾ tsp. Salt

 

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Store refrigerated up to 5 days.

 

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

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Here’s a simple three-ingredient addition to pizza, pasta, salads, veggies and anywhere else you want a  sprinkle of savory flavor.

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

¼ cup Hemp seeds (or hearts)
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
¼ tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt

 

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Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Never-Fail Brown Rice

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I know, it seems simple, right? What could be easier than rice and water? You’d be surprised at how many ways there are to mess up rice cookery. I know, because that was me, before I found the best method outside of a rice cooker for preparing perfectly cooked brown rice.

It’s called the pasta method, and it’s just like it sounds. Fill up a big pot with salted water  like you are getting ready to boil spaghetti. When the water comes to a full rolling boil, stir in your brown rice and let it continue to boil, careful to regulate the heat so it doesn’t boil over!

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I always use my windup timer. Set for 30-35 minutes. Check a few grains after 30.

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Just like pasta, after checking for doneness, drain and use immediately or rinse with cool water and refrigerate for later use.

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So easy!! The grains are perfectly cooked, tender, separate and never sticky.

Use this method and I promise you will never over or under-cook brown rice again!

Fancy Potatoes

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Okay, we’ve established potatoes are cheap, vegan eats. They are also whole and perfect in their natural state. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw, they cook up in so many delicious ways.

A plain old baked potato is fine, but if you’re looking to elevate your side dish a bit, this recipe can really spice things up at the table. It’s actually easier than it looks!

Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tbsp. dairy-free butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic granules or powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a small baking tray with aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut a series of horizontal slices about 1/8 inch wide and going only 2/3 of the way through the potato, so it holds together, but the gaps open wide enough to slip the seasoning in between.

Mix together the seasonings and the butter and oil, then rub the potatoes all over with the mixture, getting it in between the slices well.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may wish to serve with a bit more seasoned butter, as potatoes are very absorbent.

 

 

 

House Vinaigrette

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Sometimes I just want a simple, yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing for my salad. This is the classic recipe we were taught at culinary school. You can dress it up or keep it basic. The variations are endless.

House Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and crush garlic clove and add to vinegar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic and discard. Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Restaurant-Style Marinara

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The secret for marinara sauce that tastes like it’s been simmering all day? Tomato paste. The savory-sweet intensity adds depth and richness without the hours of slow-cooking.

What I like best about this recipe? It’s simple and quick to prepare. Oh, and no chopping, except for a little clove of garlic, for which you can substitute 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic if you choose.

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Best Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Oregano, dried
¼ teaspoon Thyme, dried
½ teaspoon Salt
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon Tomato paste

1. Saute garlic in oil over medium-low heat about 2 minutes.

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Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper all at once stirring together until tomato paste is incorporated.

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2. Increase the heat a bit and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes as you go.

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If you like a smoother sauce, just scoop out about half, run it through the blender then return to the pot. Easy!

True Food Kitchen, Boca Raton, FL

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If you don’t already know the website happycow.net, click on this link and get up to speed with the best resource for locating vegan and veg-friendly restaurants, bakeries and stores throughout the U.S.

After stumbling upon a new restaurant in my area with vegan options, I decided to become a happycow contributor and added True Food Kitchen. I suggest you do the same and you will be providing a great service to us all!

Here’s the review I wrote today:

True Food Kitchen is a chain with twenty or so locations throughout the mid to lower section of the United States. We stumbled upon this newly opened restaurant located in the Boca Raton Town Center Mall at lunchtime on a Monday. The dining room and bar were bustling with friendly, energetic denim-clad staff sporting t-shirts with positive one and two-word messages such as “Honest”, “Nurture” and “Shine On”.

The menu boasts a large and seasonal selection of fresh produce-filled dishes, cocktails, health tonics, lemonades and teas featuring freshly juiced fruits and additions such as matcha. We noticed the mixologist never seemed to stop making these beverages the whole time we were there.

The overall scene has an open-air feel to it, relaxed and casual, yet lively with the constant flow of staff carrying beautifully presented and colorful food and drinks through the dining room, which is decorated in a modern eco style with lots of fresh plants surrounding cozy tables and banquettes.

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The menu offered items marked vegan in almost every category. We were pleased to see a tempeh BLT and dishes featuring healthful whole food protein sources like quinoa, hemp seeds and edamame just to name a few.

We started with the soup of the day, a simple vegetable minestrone, which we were advised was vegan without the parmesan garnish.

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For our lunch we shared the vegan grilled artichoke pesto pizza with almond ricotta. The crust was thin, light and crispy, topped with fresh spinach, artichokes and slices of summer squash. The pesto tasted freshly made and the creamy almond ricotta had a bright and clean flavor, with just a hint of lemon. The pizza was definitely large enough for two people to split for lunch with the cup of soup as a starter.

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The dessert menu offered three vegan selections on this day. Vanilla ice cream, rhubarb crumble, and banana chia pudding.

I know True Food Kitchen will become a standard in our restaurant rotation with its creative vegan dishes, refreshing made to order beverages and excellent service.

Next time we will save room for dessert!

Pros: Fresh, creative, vegan menu items, Friendly, energetic staff, Contemporary, spacious decor and casual atmosphere

Cons: High noise level during peak hours, Serves meat

Plant-Based: On The Cheap

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“I would try the plant-based diet, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it doesn’t have to include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy, whole food diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  makes shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain or healthful vegetables provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly if you are concerned about calories.

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Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black or other beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)

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Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

IMG_0852.jpgThe food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the best!

Scrambled Tofu 

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Mini Tofu Omelets

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Here’s a tasty, portable breakfast option from the new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, “Isa Does It”.

These cute little mini-omelets have a great flavor and are super easy to prepare!

Mini Tofu Omelets

  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 14 ounces Soft, silken tofu
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric, ground
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp. Arrowroot powder

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the garlic in a food processor.: Add the tofu, water, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Puree until smooth.
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2. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined.:
3. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.:
4. Brush a 12-cup muffin pan lightly with oil. Pour the batter into each well until a little over halfway full.:
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5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away from the sides a bit and the top is firm to the touch.:
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6. For the best results, let cool for at least 10 minutes. :
Servings/Yield: Yield: 12
Source:  “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Super-Simple Flatbreads

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Sometimes I like to skip the rice and just serve a hearty whole grain flatbread with my Indian Curries. But, I don’t want making a quick bread to become a big project! This recipe from Alice Waters is easier than whipping up a batch of pancakes. An important point to remember: start the flatbread dough before your curry. It needs to sit for 30 minutes before forming.

Whole Wheat Flatbreads (makes four 6-8 inch flatbreads)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the water and olive oil and knead to form a moist dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Divide the dough into 4 balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each ball to a 6-8 inch round. Cook  in the skillet over moderate heat until they start to brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned in spots on the other side, about 2 minutes. 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

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Okay, I’ve really done it this time! I know there are vegan variations on chicken wings and I’ve tried them all. But this. This is different.

What I did:

I took Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tried and true recipe for chickpea cutlets and formed them into tenders and served them with homemade buffalo and ranch sauces.

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Here’s what I like best about this version. The texture. These tenders have a real “chew” without being dry along with an excellent flavor that actually tastes kind of like its traditional counterpart.

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Oh, and did I mention they are so, so easy to prepare? Thank you once again, oh mighty Isa!!

Chickpea Cutlets

Oh, and in case you don’t have recipes for buffalo and ranch sauces, she’s got that covered, too. These are recipes in my regular rotation:

Isa’s Buffalo and Ranch Sauce Recipes

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Vegan Barbecue Ribz

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Fire up the grill this weekend and prepare your favorite barbecue sauce for these super-easy and super-tasty seitan ribz!

This recipe, direct from my archive, comes together faster than a batch of brownies. You can double up and freeze for later and also to slice  thin and fry up like bacon. Yum!

BARBECUE RIBZ

recipe courtesy Brian McCarthy

4 cups VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN
¼ cup PAPRIKA
2 tablespoons GRANULATED GARLIC
2 tablespoons GRANULATED ONION
2 tablespoons KOSHER SALT
3 cups ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER
¾ cups CANOLA OIL
2 teaspoons LIQUID SMOKE

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all wet ingredients in a pourable container. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Press into 13 x 9 greased pan. Bake 350 for 45-55 minutes, until no longer soft in center and has a dry appearance.
2. Slice into 1.5 ounce servings. Grill slices for marks if desired. Serve with barbecue sauce.
Servings/Yield: 14 servings

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Dan Dan Noodles

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Nowadays you can pretty much Google search any recipe, type the word ‘vegan’ in front of it and come up with something good. I do this as a matter of course when I have something in mind I really want to make.

Browsing noodle dish recipes for ease of execution and simplicity of ingredients, I came across this creative and healthful new addition to my repertoire on Caroline Phelps website, Pickled Plum.

This spicy Asian noodle recipe is super-simple to make. After cooking and draining my thin, whole wheat spaghetti, I blitzed the sauce ingredients in the blender. Sauce done. Everything after that went super-fast.

IMG_5800.jpgBrowning the mushrooms and celery over high heat.

IMG_5802.jpgI added thawed edamame for texture and protein along with the scallions.

IMG_5806.jpgWarming the sauce with noodles and spinach. I used almond butter instead of peanut.

IMG_5808.jpgIt all comes together!

This is a good veggie-ful weeknight dinner option. It will go even faster if you make the sauce and cook the noodles ahead, like maybe the night before, or use leftover spaghetti from Italian night.

Find the full recipe HERE

 

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped

Finish with:
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through, then finish with the last three ingredients, stirring in off the heat.

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

The full recipe, courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz via theguardian.

 

“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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Through much trial and error over the years– I have come to a great appreciation and respect for the humble soybean curd with its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

Start Here:

  1. Buy the right tofu. This seems like a no-brainer, but  it can be confusing, with all the brands and styles: silken, firm, extra-firm, etc. For this recipe, we need to start with the firmest tofu we can find, packed in water, found in the refrigerator section. If you stumble upon the Woodstock brand, extra-firm, know that you have found the holy grail of tofu. This brand is available only in select stores in my area and in limited quantity, so when I find it I buy it up!

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2. Dry, dry, dry! The secret to good texture with grilled tofu is to press out as much water as possible. Either press it with a pressing apparatus, or wrap it in paper towels and lay a cutting board on top, then add some weight to it. I have used heavy books, canned goods, even hand-weights. Let the tofu press for a good 20 minutes or so.

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3. Fabricate! Cut the tofu in the shape that fits the dish you are making. For grilling, obviously, you want nice strips that fit on the grill and not too thick, so as to absorb the flavorings. I cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again and so on, until I have 8 planks

4. Marinate! This step is crucial. If you want flavor in your tofu, you have to apply it yourself. My go-to marinade for grilling is 3 tbsp. tamari sauce to 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Simple and delicious! When you press the tofu well, it will be thirsty for the marinade, so you won’t need to soak it too long. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for this one, although, you can marinate longer or overnight if you like.

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5. Grill! Get your grill searing hot and you will have a nice, brown sealed outside on your tofu. You can also fry in a dry non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, for a crisp, brown exterior.

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6. Optional step. Another way to alter the texture of tofu is to wrap it after pressing and freeze it until solid, then thaw it out. Press the liquid out again, then marinate and grill or pan-fry. This gives the tofu more of a chewy and porous texture. It’s worth a try. I like it both ways.

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Image Credit: Melanie daPonte

This recipe is hands-down the menu item my clients request most often! Light, but filling these vegetable cakes are actually loaded with protein in the form of quinoa flakes that help hold it all together.

With a little fresh greenery and a bit of sauce, you’ve got yourself a meal!

HEARTS OF PALM CAKES

(6 servings)

14 OZ HEARTS OF PALM, DRAINED
1 STALK CELERY
½ CUP CARROT, DICED
½ CUP ONION, RED, DICED
½ CUP BELL PEPPER, RED, DICED
2 TBSP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED
2 TSP OLD BAY SEASONING
1.5 OZ VEGANAISE
1 CUP QUINOA FLAKES

1.DRAIN HEARTS OF PALM AND LIGHTLY PULSE IN FOOD PROCESSOR, PRESERVING TEXTURE. TRANSFER TO LARGE MIXING BOWL. :

2.PULSE VEGETABLES TO CHOP AND ADD TO BOWL WITH HEARTS OF PALM. MIX IN VEGANAISE, SEASONING AND QUINOA FLAKES. LET REST, REFRIGERATED FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES.:

3. FORM INTO PATTIES AND BAKE ON GREASED PARCHMENT IN 400 DEGREE OVEN 15 MINUTES, THEN FLIP AND SPRAY WITH OIL, BAKING ANOTHER 15 MINUTES, UNTIL FIRM.

Tomato-Caper Remoulade

¼ cup Vegan Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Chili sauce or ketchup
1 ½ teaspoons Mustard, Creole
1 ½ teaspoons Olive oil
¾ teaspoon Hot sauce
1 ½ teaspoons Lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 med Scallion, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Parsley, flat leaf
1 ½ teaspoons Olives, green, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Celery, chopped
¼ clove Garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon Chili powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon Pepper, black
¼ teaspoon Capers, minced

Mix all ingredients together by hand and allow flavors to blend for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Tofu Vindaloo

This is a spicy Indian dish I decided to prepare without any added oil. It turned out  tasty and well balanced, served with a fluffy timbale of fragrant jasmine rice.

Tofu Vindaloo

Recipe adapted from the cookbook,

“Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/1/2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons water

One 16 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/2 large carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch-thick half-moons

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

One 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup water, or more as needed

Method:

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger and spices with 1 tablespoon of water. Process until smooth and set aside. Very lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Add the diced tofu and sear until nicely browned. This may take up to 10 minutes. Move the tofu around carefully to brown evenly. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside. Season with salt and pepper.  Add 2 tablespoons water to the pan and heat until bubbly. Add onions and carrot, cover, and cook until softened. About 5 minutes. Add red pepper, cover, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and juice and 1 cup water and bring to boil.

Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add the peas and tofu and heat through. This sauce may be served chunky or smooth. If you prefer a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender before adding the peas and tofu.

Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

Tofu Curry

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This recipe is a client favorite! It’s a north Indian style curry, filled with aromatic spices and baked tofu.

The recipe comes from the cookbook “Vegan Indian Cooking” by Anupy Singla. Ms. Singla generously provides the recipe on her website as well. You can find it here.

With authentic Indian cooking, it’s all about the spices. Once you gather them together, the process runs pretty smooth and simple.

grindThe recipe starts with the grinding of the aromatics which will be folded into soy yogurt and a few spices then added to fried spices in the saucepan.

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blend

The scent is heavenly as the spices and flavors blend together. The big flavor comes from the mingling of these many aromatics and spices as they simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. As with most curries it will taste better the next day, but even fresh from the stove it is delicious!

Party Enchiladas (gluten and soy free)

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Now, I’m not gonna lie, enchiladas are neither quick or easy to make, but they are great for entertaining. These can be prepped ahead of time then popped into the oven for 20 minutes. Make it easy on yourself with simple side dishes such as  chips and salsa and frozen roasted corn kernels (Whole Foods) sautéed with chopped fresh zucchini and red bell peppers. Drizzle with a little cilantro pesto for an extra note of flavor.

Enchiladas

1 recipe gluten free enchilada sauce (below)

1/2 recipe cilantro pesto (below)

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 can refried beans, pinto or black

1 large russet potato

1 small bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup Daiya dairy-free cheddar, shredded

2 scallions, thinly sliced

6-8 black olives, sliced

12 gluten free corn tortillas (check the label)

Coconut oil

Gluten free enchilada sauce

recipe courtesy http://www.glutenfreegigi.com

Cilantro Pesto

recipe courtesy Bobby Flay http://www.foodnetwork.com

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) lightly toasted

1/2 lime, juiced

Jalapeno, to taste

Salt and pepper

Place first 4 ingredients in blender or small food processor and completely puree. Add lime juice, jalapeno, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Method:

Wash potato and place in pot of cold water just to cover. Simmer on medium high until tender when pierced with a knife blade. Remove carefully and allow to cool. Meanwhile, prepare sauces and prep veggies. Saute onions and peppers in a large skillet over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, peel cooled potato and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Add to vegetables with pinto beans and mix together. Add about 3 tablespoons of cilantro pesto (maybe more) and stir to coat well then remove from heat. Check for seasoning and let rest.IMG_4437

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the enchiladas by first brushing each with a coating of enchilada sauce, front and back. Spread a  layer of refried beans followed by 2 or 3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling then top with a light sprinkling of cheese. Roll carefully and place seam side down in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

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Place rolls snugly together in pan, then top with more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. If you are making ahead, cover pan and refrigerate until ready to bake, then top with sauce and cheese.

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Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges look a little crisp. Garnish with scallions, olives and a bit more cilantro pesto if desired and serve immediately.

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Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

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When I have a bit of extra time, usually on weekends, and a little forethought, I whip up a batch of homemade pizza dough. This super simple recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, makes a nice, smooth, fluffy dough that bakes up almost like a pan pizza crust. I always mix a double batch, so I have dough left over for Cinnamon Rolls.

You can play with the flour ratios. I used half whole wheat and half white, to make it a little healthier. You just need to get started about 2 hours before you plan to eat the pizza.

Easy Pizza Dough

Source: Chloe’s Kitchen

  • 1 package Active dry yeast
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour, or 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup

hook

bowl

roll

1. Blend ingredients with dough hook until smooth. Placed dough in well-oiled bowl and rotate
2. Place in warm place until doubled (1-1 1/2 hours). Place dough on lightly floured surface and shape into a disk.
3. Knead for 5 minutes, using the steering wheel technique. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
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oven

Summer Tempeh Sammies

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Okay, everyone knows tempeh is good for you. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. I cut it up and slapped it in a skillet. And guess what? Yuck!

My dilemma in the beginning was how to make it taste good.  That is never a problem nowadays. First: You’ve gotta get with a good brand. Westsoy is the only brand I buy. Why? Because it is never bitter. If you can’t get ahold of Westsoy, no worries, simply fabricate your tempeh into slices or chunks or whatever size you need for your recipe and steam it for 20 minutes. That should do the trick.

Secondly: Marinate, marinate, marinate. If you really want good flavor, I think it’s the best way. Here is an awesome marinade from our good friends at Thug Kitchen. What? You’ve never heard of Thug Kitchen? You’re welcome.

Here’s the recipe (which for some reason has been removed from the site, but you should visit anyway. I forgive you, Michelle.  www.thugkitchen.com 

This marinade is zippy! That’s the best word to describe the tangy, garlicky, savory punch in the taste buds it delivers. One word of caution, though–if you are serving more than two people, double the recipe because it goes fast!
Thug Kitchen’s (Secret) Summer Tempeh Sammies
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces of tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (chill out, that shit isn’t expensive but you can use apple cider vinegar if you already have that at home)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite smoky hot sauce (something with chipotle pepper is fucking delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Method:

Cut tempeh width wise into about 1/3-1/2 inch pieces (16 pieces). Marinate in shallow container for at least 30 minutes, no longer than 60 minutes. :

Brown tempeh in oil for 4-6 minutes each side. Moisten pan with marinade.

Serve on sandwiches with sundried tomato spread or your favorite mayo 🙂

Here are the pics:

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Falafel Burgers with Tahini Sauce

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Here’s a light and easy summer meal idea:

Falafel Burgers (from Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

(4 servings)

½ cup Chickpeas, dried
1 cloves Garlic
½ cup Yellow onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Parsley, fresh, loosely packed
¼ cup Cilantro, loosely packed
2 tablespoons Water
¼ cup Bread crumbs, fine
¼ teaspoon Baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons Cumin
½ teaspoon Paprika, sweet
⅝ teaspoon Salt
Black pepper

1.Plan ahead. Boil the chickpeas night before.

2.Partially cook chickpeas. Place in small pot and submerge in water by about 2 inches. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.:

3.Turn the heat off and and let chickpeas soak at room temperature overnight or for 8 hours.:

4.Should be tender and edible, but still very firm, with texture similar to edamame.: Drain before using.

5.Pulse garlic in processor until finely chopped. Add onion, parsley and cilantro, and pulse until onion is very finely chopped and herbs are in flecks. Don’t puree. You still want coarse texture.:

6.Transfer mixture to large bowl. Now place the chickpeas in food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add water and pulse again until thick and mushy. Again, you still want texture, so don’t puree. Transfer chickpeas to bowl with onions.:

7.Add bread crumbs, baking powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to bowl and mix very well.:

8.Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Form burgers into patties using about 1/4 of the mixture per patty. Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the pan. It should be enough to cover the bottom of the pan with some excess.:

9.Cook patties four at a time for about 7 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Drizzle in a little extra oil if necessary.

Tahini Sauce

½ cup Tahini
½ cup Water
1 clove Garlic
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
½ tsp. Sea salt

Puree all ingredients. Season to taste.

 

Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

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Flipping through the pages of  Fitness Magazine I was  delighted to find a vegan recipe. I was also happy to find the recipe quick and easy (crock-pot), with familiar, easy-to find ingredients. Not only that–the ingredients are easy to substitute–say, for instance, bok choy for the spinach or Creminis for Shitakes, etc.

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This dish is delicious. I’ve already made it twice in one week! The tofu really offers a rich protein source and the veggies lend great flavor, while the coconut milk and peanut butter give it a creamy sauce with just a little red curry kick!

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Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

 from Fitness Magazine

 Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup low-sodium veggie broth

¼ cup natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon red curry paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy or tamari sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 14-ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced (or white, cremini, etc.)

1 cup light coconut milk

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

6 cups baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces

4 lime wedges, optional

4 servings hot cooked brown rice

1. Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine cornstarch and broth in cooker until cornstarch is dissolved.; stir in peanut butter, curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Add peppers and mushrooms and toss gently. Cook on low 4 hours.

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2. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and spinach, turn slow cooker to high; cook 15 minutes more.

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Serve wth rice and garnish with lime wedges if desired.

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Hearty Vegan Lasagna: Step by Step

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If you break it down, lasagna is a really simple, yet really impressive dish. This recipe combines everything I love about veggie lasagna, namely the abundance of vegetables, and pairs it with the richness of a creamy tofu cheese and a fair sprinkling of vegan mozzarella.

The cheeses are optional, but truly elevate this dish to the “hearty” category, and will have them coming back for leftovers tomorrow–maybe even before.

Prep:

Make a nice, rich marinara sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce. Just make sure it tastes really good and you have at least 2 cups.

Gather your favorite vegetables (about 4 cups) and cut them in small pieces, either diced or shredded. This will help ensure even layers. I choose broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, chopped kale and shredded carrot.

Make a rich, creamy vegan ricotta (about 1 cup). I like the recipe from Ann Gentry’s Real Food Daily Cookbook, but there are any number of recipe variations online.


Tofu Ricotta

Source: Real Food Daily

Ingredients:
14 ounces Tofu, firm, drained
4 cloves Minced garlic
⅔ cup Water, scant
⅔ cup Miso, dark
½ cup Tahini
1 ½ tsp. Basil, dried
1 ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
½ tsp. Crushed red pepper

Method:
Combine all in food processor until smooth.


Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water and pat dry. I used whole wheat.

vegprep

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil

Saute vegetables with a sprinkle of salt, until colors brighten and vegetables are slightly softened. Add your favorite Italian seasonings and a bit of black pepper here. Just make sure the veggies taste good…good enough to sit down to a bowlful of them.

vegSpread marinara sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan

Arrange a layer of noodles, slightly overlapping

Spread noodles with creamy vegan cheese (if using) then sprinkle a bit of vegan mozzarella (if using)

assembleTop with a thick layer of vegetables and press down lightly to make layers even

Ladle marinara over the vegetables

Repeat layering procedure, ending with noodles

Finish with remaining sauce and shredded cheese

ovenreadyBake 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted

Enjoy!

baked

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

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This soup is a perfect blend of smooth and creamy, slightly sweet and spicy. Great served on its own or as a first course, it is super-easy to make, too.

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Red Sweet Potato Curry with Cauliflower and Adzuki Beans

1 pound sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium) to make 3 cups, mashed
4 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoons Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Peanut oil
4.5 tablespoons Thai Red Curry paste
3 cups Vegetable broth
3 Star Anise Pods
3  tablespoons Tamari Sauce
1 15 ounce can full fat  Coconut milk
¾ teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
Sriracha (optional)
Lime juice (to taste, approximately 1 lime)
Cilantro for garnish

1. Bake sweet potatoes at 350 for 1 hour first. Peel and mash. :

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2. Saute garlic and ginger in oil. Add curry paste, veggie broth and star anise. Let boil about 5 minutes, covered. Uncover, remove star anise.:

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3. Add sweet potato, coconut milk, tamari and salt and mix well. Use immersion blender if needed, to get to a very smooth consistency.

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Add lime juice and sriracha to taste.:

Arepas (gluten and soy free)

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Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It has a great variety of uses and is often eaten for breakfast with jam or split for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and seeing that it was vegan, gluten and soy free I just had to try it. I really liked the simplicity of the recipe and the result was a nice little corncake, a lot like an English muffin, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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I stuffed mine with a spicy Mexican bean and cheese filling, but I imagine you could serve them with just about anything.

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Arepas

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit magazine

2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, not masa harina or corn flour, this is very important)

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix masarepa with salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Allow to sit for five minutes to hydrate the mixture. Knead mixture a few times then divide into 8 portions, forming each into a ball then patting into a small cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet and place four arepas to cook, covered, until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, uncovered about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with 1 tbsp oil and remaining arepas. When cool enough to handle, split and fill as desired.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

 

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These spring rolls are a refreshing, healthy change of pace from the usual baked or fried spring rolls. Chock full of crunchy vegetables and tangy sesame-marinated shiitakes, they set the stage nicely for your next Asian themed meal or can be eaten alone as a light meal or party finger food.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

Recipe courtesy Selene Vakharia  www.rawfoodrecipes.com

(Servings: 4)

8 leaves Collard greens, de-stemmed
2 sheets Seaweed (optional)
4 ounces Shittake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Snow peas, julienned
4 ounces Carrots, julienned
4 ounces Napa cabbage leaves, julienned
½ Cucumber, julienned

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. Ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. Tamari
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. Sesame oil

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  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms for 15-30 minutes. Squeeze marinade back into bowl. Set aside to use for dipping.

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  • Put ingredients in the middle of the collard leaf and roll. Wrap and secure the roll with a strip of seaweed, if desired.

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Raw Lasagna Rolls

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Tasty, easy and healthy—these rolls are an exciting twist on a classic Italian dish. Having just recently begun my exploration of raw foods, I admit I was skeptical at first. However, I am so pleased with the intense flavors of foods in their natural state when you have the right mix of ingredients! Now, it would seem a shame to cook this dish and wash out the flavor and texture.

This raw marinara sauce is so flavorful–it just pops! With the creamy smooth nut ricotta filling and the thin wrapper of zucchini these rolls make a perfectly delicious snack or light meal.

RAW LASAGNA ROLLS

from www.nakedavocado.com

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

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What can I say? I grew up like most American kids. Hot dogs were most definitely on the menu. Nowadays, they are definitely not. The conventional version anyway. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for that good old-fashioned frank on a bun experience. There are various brands of vegan dogs on the market, but I thought I would try this recipe because it is quite simple and natural and uses pantry items I have on hand.

These are quite good and easy to make, with a pleasant background flavor of cornmeal, reminiscent of corn dogs (another old favorite). We both actually like them better than any brand I’ve tried. Definitely cheaper than store-bought and you can adjust the sodium and flavorings to your liking.

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

recipe courtesy Heather Bell and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods

as published in Veg News magazine, July-August 2017

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) package extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

2 tbsp safflower oil ( I used canola)

3/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 tsp mustard powder

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Method:

In large food processor add all ingredients and process until a dough forms.

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Cut eight 4 x 6 inch pieces or parchment paper and eight pieces of aluminum foil the same size.

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Roll the dough into a ball on a clean surface and flatten slightly. Cut into 8 equal pieces then form each piece into a hot dog shape.

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Roll each dog in parchment and twist ends. Then roll each piece in foil, twist and trim ends if necessary.

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Place rolls in an electric steamer or a colander over a simmering pot of water on the stove to create a steamer (covered). Steam 45 minutes.

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Don’t forget the buns!

 

 

 

Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

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Where I am getting my lean, mean protein lately? Why lentils, of course! These friendly little legumes pack 18 grams of protein per cup. Here is a delicious way to prepare them!
Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
from The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or water)
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup curry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Method:
Saute celery, onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger in oil (or water) until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in lentils, water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender, but still whole.
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Remove the lentils from the heat, draining any excess water if necessary. Set aside and allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
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Curry Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup olive oil (see note below)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. shallots
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
Method: Whisk together the vinegar, spices and sugar. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking constantly. When oil and vinegar are well incorporated, whisk in the shallots, jalapeño and garlic.
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While still warm, toss the lentils with 1/4 cup dressing and garnish with cilantro and scallions. Can be served warm or cold. Yield: about 4 servings.
Note:  If you are cutting back on oil, feel free to substitute water for some of the oil. The dressing will still taste great.

Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Dill

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I admit I often overlook the humble carrot when deciding on a vegetable side dish. Let’s face it, they are cheap and always available, so I tend to take them for granted.

I forgot how a simple vegetable can be so deliciously sweet and yet substantial and healthful and nourishing when gently oven-roasted with a few basic seasonings.

I found this recipe while skimming through a local Portland, OR magazine called “MIX”. It is so easy to prepare and the recipe is simple enough to remember that I know it will become a staple side in my repetoire.

Warning, though, make sure you purchase enough carrots, because I can eat half a pound of these no problem. So, I would say a standard bunch of organic California carrots such as Cal-Organic brand would provide 2-3 servings.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Roasted Carrots

                                                  –From Anne Parker

2 bunches carrots, with the tops removed, sliced in half lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt (or less, depending on your taste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange carrots in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

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Toss to coat. Season with salt, cumin and fresh dill.

the cutBake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and beginning to brown.

IMG_9622“Be Vegan Make Peace”  Aaaah….Portland

Barbecue Tofu with Baked Beans and Cheesy Mash

TofuBarbequeWith daylight savings time and the longer evenings, I just can’t wait for those summer cookouts. It’s fun to pull out the grill on a regular old weeknight and turn out some great barbecue!

Whether you like it smoky or spicy, savory or sweet, there’s no reason to give up your favorite barbeque flavors as a vegetarian or vegan. Tofu has a wonderfully absorbent quality when it comes to flavors. It’s especially so when it is frozen, thawed and pressed  beforehand.

Here’s a basic barbecue flavored marinade, that can be used by itself or along with your favorite barbecue sauce at grill time.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Marinade

¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika or chili powder

Blend all ingredients and pour over tofu. Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 1 pound.

There are so many sides to choose from, but on a weeknight, I choose the easiest to prepare. Here is a quick and easy baked bean recipe that can be baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal. It is sweet and tangy with a rich tomato flavor.

Homemade Baked Beans

courtesy of Jenna Weber (www.eatliverun.com)

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp hot sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350
In a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the maple syrup, tomato sauce, salt, ground mustard, hot sauce and ketchup and simmer for five minutes.
Add the beans and bay leaf, stir, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once during the baking process.
Allow to cool and serve warm.

Serves 4

Cheesy mashed potatoes is the simplest side dish of all, provided you have some leftover cheesy sauce hanging around in the fridge, which I think everyone should! https://veganflavorista.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sexy-cheezy-sauce/

Cheesy Mash

courtesy of Vegan Flavorista

Wash and dry four big potatoes. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 10 minutes. Mash with unsweetened non-dairy milk until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a big dollop of Dijon mustard, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Take about 4 scallions, washed and dried, and snip them with kitchen shears right into the potatoes. Stir to blend.

Gently reheat cheesy sauce and drizzle over warm mashed potatoes. Heavenly!

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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Every once in awhile, I am moved to pull out  various appliances and put them to work, such as the waffle iron, pasta machine, ice cream maker. It’s a fun weekend endeavor, when I have time, to enjoy the satisfaction of making something “from scratch” that I usually buy.

With the convenience of every flavor under the sun available at our local Whole Foods Market, making ice cream at home may seem like quite the ambitious undertaking.

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It is actually as easy as making a smoothie or anything else you might run through the blender, if you have a quality ice cream maker. Nothing else provides that essential smooth, frozen consistency.

I always keep my freezer bowl frozen for those times when an ice cream recipe will catch my attention. This recipe from “Crazy, Sexy Kitchen” by Kris Carr looked so simple, and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I just had to give it a try.

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I adapted the recipe slightly by substituting four medjool dates for the agave nectar. In the end, though, I added  a squirt of agave to give it just a bit more sweetness.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)

1/3 cup agave nectar (or five medjool dates, pitted and sliced)

1/2 cup water

Pinch sea salt

datesMethod:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and  refrigerate until very cold and to soak the cashews (at least four hours, overnight, if possible). Make sure your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl is completely frozen.

Pour mixture into a blender and puree until very smooth. Taste for sweetness and add more agave to suit your taste, if desired.

start

Before

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

done

After

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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I came across this recipe, while sifting through a drawer. It was a page torn from one of those little paperback supermarket cookbooks at the register called “Meatless Meals”.

There is a handwritten note beside the recipe, “Steve’s favorite 2005”. This little memory jog took me right back to that year when I first met the man who would become my husband, though neither of us knew it yet.

I am really glad this recipe was Steve’s favorite back in 2005, because that was long before we  became vegan. What an evolution together, over time, to a more compassionate lifestyle, a deeper enjoyment of food and a more humble appreciation for nature.

I am ever grateful for my husband’s love and support on my personal and professional journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

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Two-Bean and Bulgar Chili

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Saute in oil over medium-high heat, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes.

veggies

Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, until bulgar is tender and flavors are blended, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

pot

Add drained beans and simmer 5 minutes until heated through. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

cornbread

 

Blueberry Waffles with Lemon Icing

Waffles

I enjoy cooking a special breakfast on Sundays. When I can manage the time, I pull down the waffle iron off the highest shelf in the kitchen and give it a spin. It only happens about once a year, maybe twice. That makes it even more special.

It takes a little patience but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. Frozen waffles off the shelf pale in comparison in terms of flavor–not to mention most brands are extremely high in sodium.

To keep the waffles warm and crispy I lay them directly on the oven rack at about 275 degrees while the rest of the waffles bake on the iron one at a time. I freeze any leftovers for popping in the toaster on those busy weekday mornings. It helps remind me the weekend is just a few days away.

I love a crispy waffle with nice deep pockets to hold all the yummy toppings. These waffles are perfectly sweet addition to my brunch menu.

prep

Blueberry Waffles with Lemon Icing

from “Vegan Yum Yum” by Lauren Ulm

2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3 tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
2/3 cup Blueberry soy yogurt
1 1/3 cups Non-dairy milk
5 tbsp. Water
1/3 cup Canola oil

1 cup fresh blueberries

Cooking spray

Lemon Icing
1 cup Powdered sugar
3 tbsp. Non-dairy milk
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1/2 lemon Lemon zest

What not to do--overfill

What not to do–overfill

Method:

1. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, except for the blueberries.
3. Preheat your waffle iron.:
4. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in the berries.
5. Spray your waffle iron with a little bit of cooking oil spray and make a test waffle. Follow the instructions or your preferred directions for your waffle maker.
6. To make the lemon icing, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice and zest until smooth.
7. Recipe yields 10 waffles if you use 1/2 cup batter per waffle.

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Dark Chocolate Brownies

This is by far the best vegan brownie recipe I have found. I’ve been through a lot of cookbooks. To put it best…I judge a cookbook by the strength of its dessert section. I believe a diet must always allow for sweets and never be too restrictive.

When I come across a cookbook with all fruit desserts, I snap it shut and move on. That’s just me. I will always eat healthy, but I will never be overly virtuous.

Rip Esselstyn gets it! The recipes in his cookbook, The Engine 2 Diet provide a great balance between good sense and enlightened indulgence.

His recipes are extremely low fat and no-fat, but in the case of this recipe, thankfully, he allows for an abundance of naturally occurring cocoa butter in the form of a most generous allotment of chocolate chips. Thank you, Rip!

These beauties are everything a brownie should be: moist and fudgy with a dark cocoa edge that refuses to take a back seat to sugar.

When it comes to chocolate, vegans must be ever so cautious in label reading, because even some of the brands we trust have slipped milk fat into their formulas. A final note: Never pinch pennies when it comes to chocolate. You won’t regret it.

 Dark Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Makes about 20 brownies

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tbsp egg substitute mixed with 1/4 cup water

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp soy milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 cups (dairy-free) 60% chocolate chips or chunks (Ghirardelli offers a dairy free 60% product)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Combine the sugars and applesauce with an electric or handheld mixer. Beat in the Ener-G mixture, soy milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Combine the dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a sprayed 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Pesto Pizza Party!

 

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A tasty change of pace from traditional tomato sauce, this pesto has such great flavor, you’ll never miss the oil! This sauce freezes well and I always keep it on hand in pizza-size portions.

I pull it out of the freezer at lunchtime and when we are ready for dinner, I spread it out on a store-bought organic whole-grain crust and top with whatever veggies are hanging out in the fridge.

I found this oil-free pesto recipe at fatfreevegan.com.

Oil-Free Pesto

Recipe by: Susan Voisin

* 3 cups fresh basil (or 2 cups basil and one cup spinach)
* 3-4 large cloves garlic
* 1/4 cup walnuts, pine nuts, or raw cashews
* 1/2 container silken tofu (about 6 ounces)
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
* 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste

In food processor, chop garlic and nuts until finely minced. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Sexy Cheezy Sauce

This is a rich, velvety cheez sauce that is simple to create and uses whole food ingredients. No science experiments here, just straightforward steps in an easy to follow recipe.

I picked up a copy of “The Sexy Vegan” and I am impressed with this first recipe I tried. I like the tone of the book–tongue in cheek, with funny recipe titles like

“The Girlfriend’s Favorite Salad That She Constantly Asks Me to Make and Won’t Shut the Hell up About”. Although the vibe is lighthearted, these are solid, real world vegan recipes for the health conscious and the hedonist alike.

There are lots of recipe makeovers for classic American favorites such as New England Clam Chowder, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Buffalo Wings, Jalapeno Poppers and Macaroni and Cheese, just to name a few.

There are also several upscale “dinner party” style dishes like Oyster Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Seitan Caponata with Lemon Pilaf, and Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Fennel.

Brian L. Patton, an L.A.-based professional chef, clearly knows what he is doing. He had me at Hello and I can’t wait to dig in!

“Not Yo Mama’s Cheeze Sauce”

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw cashews

1 12 oz. package soft, silken tofu

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric

1/2 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch ground chipotle powder

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons canned diced mild green chiles

Method:

In small pot, cover cashews with water and boil about 8 minutes to soften them up. Drain and let cool. In food processor or blender, process until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until very smooth.

Heat gently over low heat and apply liberally anywhere you want to cheez it up!

Spicy Thai Noodles

When it comes to noodles, it’s all about the sauce. This one is full of flavor, without any added oil. The blend of sesame paste, tamarind and tamari along with the sweetness of dates, creates a sauce with complexity. The added kick of sriracha brings in just the right amount of heat.

Spicy Thai Noodles

1 Tbsp tamarind paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 tsp thai curry paste or sriracha
2 pitted dates, soaked in warm water for about 20 minutes
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (or more if you want a thinner consistency)

Blend all ingredients together and toss with noodles and vegetables to coat. May be served cold or hot.

–recipe adapted from choosingraw.com

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

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What is a weekend without pancakes? This recipe takes me back to Mom’s kitchen. Almost indistinguishable from conventional cakes, they get their excellent texture from the addition of flax meal and a bit of xanthan gum.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour
1 tbsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Salt, optional
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
2 tbsp. Flax meal
¼ tsp. Xanthan gum
1 cup Almond milk, or any non-dairy milk
2 tbsp. Olive oil, or oconut oil, melted

1.Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.Measure non-dairy milk and oil then add to dry ingredients, mixing just until well-blended.

3.Cook using standard pancake method.

Note: These are best on a seasoned cast-iron skillet, but any flat cooking surface will work. Yield: 4-6 cakes.

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Vegan Marsala Mushroom Gravy (Oil-Free)

Monday is typically my take it easy night in the kitchen. Back to work after the weekend, and I stayed up later than usual last night. Mashers are my go-to comfort food on days like this. Back in the day these would have been full of butter and milk. And gravy? I could whisk up a roux like nobody’s business.

It may seem too good to be true, but today’s dish contains only a tiny amount of fat (from the soy milk) and absolutely no animal products. And it is even more flavorful and satisfying than the traditional preparation. Continue reading

Blueberry Cheezecake

I’ve been reflecting today on where this all began.  I started this blog way back in the Fall of 2012, all fired up as a new vegan, ready to shout from the mountaintop all the new information I was discovering about nutrition and wellness.

This journey is a winding road, but I always come back to my inner compass. Eventually. I’ve decided to revisit and re-post one of my very first recipes from my early days as a newbie blogger. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


 

One of the foods many vegans reluctantly let go of is cream cheese–most eventually finding consolation for the morning bagel in the form of hummus or any one of a dozen different kinds of nut butters available on the market.

One food that’s seemingly impossible to duplicate, however, or find a suitable whole food replacement for,  is cheesecake. It makes me realize how truly decadent that dessert is.

Now, I know there is this substance called “Better than Cream Cheese”. However, it is off the deal, due to it’s high fat content and it is full of additives. I prefer to stick with more natural ingredients. Enter the Golden Cheesecake from fellow blogger, Playful and Hungry

I added a graham cracker walnut crust and a sweet, organic blueberry topping and voila! Of course it tastes nothing like traditional cheesecake, but in my opinion plant-strong recipes always end up tasting better all around. And I get the bonus of knowing that I just ate real food that will fuel my body.

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

fajitabowl2.jpg

I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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