Vegan Mushroom Gravy

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Low-fat gravy?? How could that be? How about no-fat gravy? This gravy is so smooth and savory, but also light, therefore you can really feel good about pouring it over your favorite loaf or patty, mashers, biscuits or rice.

I am a firm believer in simplicity. I don’t get too fussy with small details and have little patience for long-winded recipes. So, I love The Happy Herbivore cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. The recipes are quick and easy, vegan and low-fat. Best of all, I downloaded the book to my Kindle for only five bucks!

Everyday Gravy

from “The Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon

1 cup water

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided

1/4 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the first five ingredients in a non-stick skillet and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning and saute until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.

Shrooms

Vegan Marsala Mushroom Gravy (Oil-Free)

Mashers are my go-to comfort food on cool days like today. Before going plant-based, 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

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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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!

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!

Peanut Dragon Sauce

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It’s been a super busy week! When I crave a quick comforting meal, soba noodles are often my go-to food. Here’s an easy sauce to pour over your noodles, steamed veggies or to dip your spring roll into.

Peanut Dragon Dressing

from “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Peanut butter, creamy
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/3 cup Water
3 tablespoons Rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon Sesame oil, toasted
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Blend ingredients together in food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Creamy Pasta Salad

Here’s a delicious reworking of traditional macaroni salad. Prepared with whole-grain pasta and  lots of crunchy fresh veggies, this one is  so nutritious, it can stand alone as a main dish! A refreshing change from the same old salad routine.

This dressing is creamy and mildly sweet, flavored with a blend of garlic, mustard and lemon. I will quote my husband on his first bite of this salad: “Damn, that’s good!”

Creamy Pasta Salad

2 cups dried whole grain pasta, cooked, drained and chilled

3 ribs celery, sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional)

Dressing:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 dates, pitted and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Combine cashews, dates and water and set aside while you prepare the vegetables. Place cashew mixture in high-powered blender with remaining dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Toss with vegetables and pasta to coat.

Recipe courtesy of Cathy Fisher:  http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/

Ultimate Cheezy Sauce

 

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As many will tell you, one the hardest animal-based foods to give up in the beginning is cheese. I have read that cheese actually contains addictive opiate substances, so that might explain its magnetic appeal.

As for me, I have learned to live without cheese and appreciate the flavors of the food underneath–where cheese would have been. At the same time, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect cheesy sauce for macaroni, nachos, broccoli, and general dipping of crusty bread.

I have posted cheezy sauce recipes before–but this one is the mother of all cheezy sauces. It’s a hybrid of a modern recipe with classical method. I am in love with the umami flavor and the smooth velvety “pour” of this sauce. I think you will agree that it is both delicious and easy to make with ingredients found in most plant-based pantries.

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Cheezy Sauce III

by Melanie daPonte

1 1/2 tbsp. non-dairy margarine or olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup Soy milk ( can use any non-dairy milk, but I prefer the higher fat content in soy for creamier sauce)

¼ cup Nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Paprika

Method:

Melt the margarine in a  saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in flour to make a roux (classical sauce thickening combo).

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Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined and smooth. Stir until mixture begins to thicken and lightly bubble. Reduce heat to low and check for consistency and seasoning.

At this point you may wish to add more paprika depending on the level of orange-ness you like your cheezy sauce to have. You may also want to play with the consistency a bit depending on how you plan to use the sauce. Just add a little more milk if you like more pour-ability. Add salt if desired, or more tamari or lemon juice as desired. It’s YOUR sauce now, so enjoy it!

 

 

Easy Enchilada Sauce

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In my experience, you can stuff a burrito with just about anything. But the sauce…now, the sauce can make it or break it for me.

Here’s one of my essential recipes. It’s quick and easy and tasty. I pour this rich, tomato-garlic-cumin sauce  over enchiladas, burritos, tacos–even drizzle it over nachos.  I hope you give it a try!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( all-purpose flour works fine, too)
¼ cup Canola oil
3 tbsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Cumin, ground
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Hot water
14.5 ounces Tomato sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

Brown flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent over-browning.  Carefully add spices and oil, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add water and tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. Simmer to desired consistency. Check for salt and add a bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want to make it spicy.

Yield: A whole lotta sauce, about 4 cups, so unless you’re making a big ole mess of enchiladas, you may wish to cut the ingredients in half.

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I Made Tahini (And You Can, Too!)

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I’m free! Free from the tyranny of the ten dollar jar of organic tahini when all I need is a spoonful or two at a time! What took me so long?

This quick, easy recipe produces fresh, tasty, toasty sesame tahini for a fraction of the cost!

Easy Tahini

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 tbsp. mild flavored oil (I used sesame oil)

Method:

Toast sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet, over medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly, just until slightly brown. Immediately transfer to a small food processor or blender.

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Grind until seeds resemble small crumbs. Add a tablespoon of oil and keep grinding, scraping down the sides as needed. Add another tablespoon of oil, if needed to create a creamy consistency. Keep grinding until smooth. That’s it!!

Makes about 1/2 cup of tahini. Store covered, in the fridge.

 

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Two-Ingredient Chocolate Sauce

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Here’s a recipe I almost forgot I had in my collection. This one is from way back in my culinary school days. A smooth as silk, ultra-fast to prepare sauce that turns a plain slice of cake into a work of art!

Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or morsels)

2 1/2 ounces boiling water

Method:

Place chopped chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over chocolate, just until you can see the water seeps through from underneath. Do not cover completely with water or it will be too runny. Whisk until all chocolate is melted and smooth, adding a bit more water if needed.

Use immediately or store covered in refrigerator. Reheat gently in a stainless steel bowl over a small pot of simmering water or on low in microwave until pourable consistency.

Note:

Add a dash of vanilla and a pinch of sea salt for a little flavor counterpoint. You won’t regret it.

Jam Session

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Here’s an easy recipe for blueberry preserves I found this morning in a sudden rush of inspiration http://www.marthastewart.com/355053/blueberry-jam

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Wash the berries

Warm the sugar in the oven

Bring blueberries and sugar to boil with water

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Cook for about 45 minutes, until thick

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Vegan Gorgonzola: A Passion Project

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In between all the professional cooking I do, there is also all the household cooking I do, which includes, of course, food I like to eat. Once in awhile I embark on a very special veganizing project as shown here.  I ain’t gonna lie. As long as I have been vegan (about six years now) I have not forgotten the flavor of fine, aged cheese.

I chose THIS RECIPE for its simplicity. It’s not a science project like some I have read. It is straightforward and the wait time was only overnight. The result is very much like the real deal…which led me to veganize another old favorite of mine: blackened Gorgonzola steak with jalapeños. I know, what a crazy combo, but it was oh, so delicious back in the day.

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I picked up a package of Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers (the absolute best vegan burger, in my opinion) and pressed it out as flat as I could. Dusted it with blackening spice and seared it in a hot pan. Then I topped it with thick slices of this lovely vegan Gorg and a sprinkle of jalapeños. Heaven!

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Basil-Spinach Pesto

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Yes, of course vegans can enjoy pesto!! I think it tastes even better without the cheese usually present in most traditional recipes. This recipe is pretty great because it stays green longer, due to the addition of fresh spinach! Great flavor and awesome with pasta and on pizza as well!

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Basil-Spinach Pesto

½ cup Olive oil
3 ounces Basil, fresh
½ bunch Spinach, fresh, Large handful
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
1 tsp. Lemon juice
3 cloves Garlic
¼ tsp. Sea salt
¼ tsp. Black pepper

Method:

Pulse basil, spinach, nuts and garlic until well chopped, but still with texture. With machine running, drizzle olive oil slowly to emulsify, scraping down the bowl as needed to blend well.

Stop the machine as soon as olive oil is incorporated. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Run another second just until blended.

Serve immediately or store in airtight container, refrigerated. Adding a thin layer of olive oil on top, keeps the pesto green longer.

Servings/Yield: Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Source: avocadopest.com

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Quick and Easy Soba Noodle Salad

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My favorite go-to lunch! Soba noodle salad is so quick and easy to prepare and a perfect way to clean out my refrigerator’s produce drawer!

Here’s my new discovery on the grocery shelf: San-J Tamari Sesame Dressing. You want to kick up your flavor? This is it!

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Whereas I usually gather my own fresh ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar and tamari…I can save a few steps with this dressing.

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The basic ratio is 1 tablespoon peanut butter or tahini to 2 tablespoons dressing. Add sriracha sauce as desired and a bit of warm water to adjust the consistency.

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Toss the drained, rinsed noodles with fresh veggies: shredded carrots, cabbage, scallions, celery, lettuce, tomatoes…basically anything raw and crunchy. Enjoy!

Buffalo Tempeh Caesar Wrap

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Way back when before I went vegan (BV) my favorite lunchtime meal was a big Caesar salad with grilled or blackened chicken or fish. Later on, it was the Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wrap, sometimes found as a lunch special on menus. I love the contrast of the creamy tangy dressing and crunchy Romaine lettuce against the spicy cayenne pepper sauce.

Now I have finally found an excellent vegan Caesar salad dressing, courtesy of Roberto Martin, Ellen DeGeneres’ personal chef,  and an excellent vegan Buffalo sauce recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen that tastes EXACTLY like restaurant-style, the two worlds have come together in my NEW favorite lunch!

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Tempeh is one of the very best plant-based sources of protein. I find WestSoy brand very mild, without the bitterness sometimes associated with tempeh. It also helps to steam tempeh before combining with sauces and marinades to improve texture and flavor.

Caesar Dressing

From Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Note: This recipe makes alot of dressing (2 1/2 cups). A tablespoon of this intensely flavorful dressing goes a long way, so I cut the recipe in half when I make it.

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 lemons

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tablespoons capers, packed in brine

Dash of caper brine from the jar

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably Annie’s)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Method:

Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Use immediately, or store the dressing in a squeeze bottle or glass container with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Here’s a link to the Post Punk Kitchen’s Buffalo Tempeh recipe http://www.theppk.com/2013/07/ranch-salad-with-buffalo-tempeh/

Cashew Queso

ChipsThink you have to give up nachos on a vegan diet? Think again.

There are so many creative and healthy ways to dress up the basic corn chip. Since going vegan I am always on the lookout for a new version of cheezy sauce. I think I found my new favorite.

Isa Chandra Moscowitz is one of my very favorite cookbook authors. Her recipes are straightforward and easy to execute–no weird exotic ingredients to hunt for at the health food store. Just real foods, real simple, real tasty.

The recipe can be found here on the Post Punk Kitchen website. This site offers a wealth of varied recipes, all vegan.

Sauce

This queso starts with soaked cashews, blended smooth with sautéed onions, peppers, garlic and Mexican spices. The sauce is then cooked on the stove for 20 minutes. Trust me, the deep flavor is worth the stir-time. I found it rather relaxing.

Nachos

I like to spread out a layer of refried beans mixed with whole pintos and salsa, then heat it up, adding the sauce and whatever toppings I have on hand. This works great for dipping, rather than pouring over all the chips, which tends to make them soggy.