Restaurant-Style Marinara

IMG_6771.jpg

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.

IMG_6754.jpg

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.

IMG_6761.jpg

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

IMG_6762.jpg
2. Increase the heat a bit and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes as you go.

IMG_6763.jpg

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

Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

IMG_4727.jpg

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.

IMG_6003.jpg

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.

IMG_6005IMG_6006

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

IMG_4734.jpg

Dan Dan Noodles

IMG_5794

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

 

 

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.

Falafel Burgers with Tahini Sauce

IMG_3825

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.

 

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

bowl

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. :

saute
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.:

boil

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

smooth

Add lime juice and sriracha to taste.:

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

IMG_7520

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

IMG_7483

Method:

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

IMG_7486.jpg

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

IMG_7484.jpg

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.

IMG_7489.jpg

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

IMG_7490.jpg

IMG_7494.jpg

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.

IMG_7515.jpg

Don’t forget the buns!

 

 

 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

IMG_2390

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.

vanilla

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.

machine

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

chili

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.

Frame-15-05-2018-08-53-18

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.

stack

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.

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

Homestyle Oat Bars

IMG_4761.jpg

I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

Nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

Seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

Dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

Shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

IMG_6008

IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

IMG_4750.jpg

 

Vegan Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

IMG_0607.jpg

A party favorite, these samosas are fun and easy to make and bake. They also freeze well, so when you’re in the mood, prep a big batch and store for whenever.

IMG_8857.jpg

Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

Ingredients:

Dough:

3 cups Flour, all purpose
1 tbsp. Curry powder
¾ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Water, cold
2 ounces Earth Balance, cut into small pieces
¼ cup Shortening

Filling:
2 pounds Potatoes, russet, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 med Onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh grated
½ each Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Coriander, ground
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp. Water
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 cup Peas, frozen, thawed
3 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

Sweet Tamarind Glaze:
¼ cup Apricot jam
½ tsp. Tamarind paste
1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

IMG_8868.jpg

Method:

1. Mix dough using biscuit method (15 min.) Wrap and chill (1 hour).
2. While dough is chilling, make filling (35 minutes). Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain immediately. Toast cumin seeds then saute onions in olive oil unti lightly browned. Add seasonings, jalapeno and ginger. Saute about 1 minute then add the water and stir until most of water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Finish with peas, lemon juice and cilantro. Taste for seasonings, then immediately transfer to container or sheet tray and quick-chill in freezer.
4. Form and Fill (30 minutes). Roll out dough one half at a time on lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, large enough to fold lengthwise into thirds, then cut on the folds. From the three strips, cut squares, about 2 x 2 each. Spoon about 1/2 to 1 tbsp filling into the center and fold over diagonally. Press edges with a fork to seal.
5. Make dipping sauce (5 minutes). Mix together first two ingredients on the stove to warm together. Run through a sieve or puree in bullet then add cilantro. Taste for salt.
6. Bake on parchment sheet tray for 20 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes before serving.

IMG_0634 (1)

Recipe takes 1 1/2 hours to complete. Add additional 30 minutes (roll, form and fill) for doubling and another 30 minutes for every multiple after that.

Mint Chutney

recipe courtesy foodviva.com

Throw all this stuff in your magic bullet. You won’t regret it!!

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 cloves garlic

2 green chili peppers,  seeded and chopped ( I used 1/2 of a serrano pepper)

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp water

IMG_0590.jpg

 

 

 

Peanut Dragon Sauce

IMG_1113

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!

Banana Oat Pancakes

IMG_4777.jpg

This recipe from our fellow blogger Spencer, has so much going for it!

#1 Whole Foods

#2 No oil or sugar

# Very, very little flour

# Simple mix and pour from the blender!

My pancake consumption has gone down dramatically over the years because they feel so heavy in my tummy and tend to drag down my energy. But when I read Spencer’s recipe I was intrigued, and I had to give it a try.

I’m happy to say I’m back in the pancake game! These are so light and tasty with a yummy banana flavor. They left me feeling satisfied without feeling too full. This recipe is definitely staying in the permanent rotation!

 

IMG_4765.jpg

Check out the original recipe here at spencersgapyear.wordpress.com

 

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

 

IMG_4052

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.

IMG_4046

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).

IMG_4048

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!

 

 

Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Sweet Tomato Glaze

IMG_4949

This is a client favorite and a recipe I swear by, having grown up eating traditional meatloaf. This version has a firm slice without being dry or being soggy. It bakes up perfect, time after time. The glaze really makes it taste just like my mom made back in the day.

Lentil-Walnut Loaf 

adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber (eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green or brown
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
1 parchment paper

1.Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.

2.Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.

3.Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.

4.Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.

5.Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

 

 

 

Golden Indian Dal Soup

 

Dal is my go-to comfort food. A warm, savory, nourishing meal, filled with creamy, protein-rich lentils and healing turmeric–tempered with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic.

GOLDEN DAL SOUP

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ CUP RED LENTILS
3 CUPS WATER
1 TSP SALT
½ TSP TURMERIC
⅛ TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
2 TBSP CANOLA OIL
½ TSP CUMIN SEEDS
1 TBSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP GINGER, GRATED
½ CUP ONION, YELLOW, FINE DICE
½ CUP TOMATOES, CANNED, FINE DICE

METHOD:

  1. RINSE AND DRAIN LENTILS. COMBINE WITH WATER IN SAUCEPAN.:

2. STIR IN SALT, TURMERIC AND CAYENNE AND BRING TO ROLLING BOIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT. SKIM OFF AND DISCARD THE CLOUDY WHITE FOAM THAT APPEARS ON THE SURFACE. :

3. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, FOR 20 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.:

4. MEANWHILE, HEAT OIL IN FRYING PAN OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS. ADD CUMIN SEEDS AND COOK FOR 1 MINUTE, UNTIL SEEDS BEGIN TO SIZZLE AND POP.:

5. ADD GARLIC, GINGER, ONION AND TOMATO AND TOSS GENTLY FOR 1 MINUTE. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM AND COOK 5 MINUTES, TOSSING OCCASIONALLY. SET ASIDE.:

6. ADD ONION MIXTURE TO LENTILS AND CONTINUE COOKING 5-10 MINUTES, OR UNTIL LENTILS ARE COOKED. STIR WELL AND REMOVE FROM HEAT. TASTE FOR SALT AND SERVE IMMEDIATELY OR HOLD WARM.

NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SMOOTHER TEXTURE, PULSE WITH AN IMMERSION BLENDER OR POUR INTO A COUNTERTOP BLENDER AND PUREE. I OFTEN PUREE HALF TO PRESERVE SOME TEXTURE, OR PUREE THE LENTILS BEFORE ADDING THE AROMATICS.

How To Make Lentils Taste Good

IMG_4911.jpg

If you hate lentils, chances are you have eaten them from a can. The first time I tried them was long before becoming vegan. The lentils were floating in a dirty, brown broth labeled by the Progresso company as soup. I was unimpressed, to say the least.

Since then, however, I have come to appreciate home cooked lentils for the clean, lean, whole food protein powerhouses they are, boasting 18 grams per cup. Not too shabby!

Through experience, I have learned the tastiest lentils are always cooked fresh.  By controlling the cooking and flavoring process can you truly have the best lentil experience.

Here is a simple, flavorful recipe  for  lentils you can dish over a steaming bowl of rice and announce that dinner is done.

 Lentils For Dinner

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh–grated or finely chopped

1 cup Lentils, brown–rinsed, removing any stones or foreign matter

1 Bay leaf
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté onion, carrots and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent and carrots are crisp-tender (about 7 minutes).

IMG_4907.jpg

Add ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

img_4908

IMG_4909.jpg

Pour 2 cups of water into the vegetable mixture along with the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, but not mushy *(about 20-25 minutes), with most or all of the water absorbed. You want them to simmer–bubbling nicely,  not to boil like crazy. This will make them break apart and get mushy.

img_4916

Taste for salt and add more if needed, along with a generous grind of fresh, black pepper.

*Note: Cooking time can vary slightly from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically and see how the lentils are coming along, giving them a little stir. Pull one out and bite into it at about the 20 minute mark. The last thing you want is to overcook them. Al dente (firm to the bite) is my goal, so I can toss any leftovers into a cold salad the next day.

 

Top Ten Everyday Plant-Based Recipes

IMG_5662

I have certain recipes in my home kitchen’s steady rotation week after week, month after month. These are my go-to staples because we enjoy them so much:

  1. Tofu Scramble
  2. Cheezy Sauce
  3. Marinara Sauce
  4. Buffalo Sauce
  5. Peanut Sauce
  6. Tofu Ricotta
  7. Italian Dressing
  8. Taco “Beef”
  9. Thai Coconut Curry Sauce (red or green)
  10. Hummus

 

 

 

Cauliflower-Kale Soup

IMG_1106

A tasty way to get your greens! This  creamy, satisfying soup is a client favorite and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare!

Cauliflower- Kale Soup

Source: Prevention Magazine
(4 servings)

2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 Onion, diced
2 clove Garlic
8 cups Vegetable bouillon
4 cups Cauliflower, florets
4 cups Kale, shredded
½ teaspoon Crushed red pepper (optional)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add broth and cauli, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kale and cook until wilted about 4 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth. Season with crushed red pepper if desired.

Dinner in 15 Minutes Flat

Here’s a re-post from way back in 2012 when I first started this blog:

 

Ever wonder after a tiring day at work, what’s for dinner? Once in awhile I find myself wandering through my depleted larder without a plan. Today I found a large russet potato, waiting patiently in the dark cabinet.

All I needed to create a hot meal were a few veggies and a couple pantry staples. I created this sauce base to work with any stray veggies I have hanging around in the fridge. Tonight I had diced onions, mushrooms and frozen peas. I popped the potato in the microwave and while it cooked:

I sauteed the onions in a bit of water in a non-stick pan, then added the mushrooms and sauteed a few minutes to soften. I added a tablespoon of tomato paste from a tube (so handy to have around) then deglazed the pan with a cup of veggie stock. I added 2 tablespoons of tamari sauce and a bit of dried thyme, then thickened the whole deal with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water. I got a nice smooth, shiny sauce.

By the time my potato was ready for mashing, so was my sauce. I stirred in my frozen peas last, so they didn’t get all wrinkly. I mashed up the potato with soy milk, salt and pepper. Quick, easy, real food. In 15 minutes flat.

 

Sloppy Joe Sliders

IMG_4312.jpg

Here’s a new enlightened version of an old classic that is just perfect served in the traditional buns or over a bed of fresh-cooked grains.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

1 cup Cooked Lentils
1 cup Tempeh, crumbled
¼ Onion, large, chopped
½ med Green pepper, chopped
14 ounces Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon Garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon Salt
1/16 teaspoon Black pepper
6 Slider Buns

Method:

1.Saute peppers and onions until soft. Add tomato sauce and seasonings to blend well. Add tempeh and cooked lentils and simmer until flavors are well incorporated, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or sugar.
2.Portion 1-2 tablespoons per slider and serve with sweet gherkin pickles as a garnish, if desired.

Top Ten Vegan Mains

 

IMG_1477

When making the transition to a plant-based diet, most of us do really well with breakfast and lunch, but when it comes to dinner, find ourselves in a quandary. The question I have heard most often over the years is “So, what do you eat?”

Here are a few creative recipe ideas for your next meal. Enjoy!

  1.  Classic Meatloaf

IMG_1600

     2.  Stuffed Portobellos

IMG_1649

3.  Macaroni and Cheeze

IMG_1501

4.  All-American Barbecue

BBQ

5.  Sesame Grilled Tofu

saute

6.  Peanut Noodles

peanutnoodles

7.  Vegetable Lasagnaovenready

8.  Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

dish

9.  Thai Red Lentil Chili

IMG_1941

10.  Quinoa Nachos

IMG_1477

Maple-Butter Pancake Oats

IMG_7740.jpg

My favorite breakfast is pancakes. But I don’t eat them as often as I’d like–opting for a lighter, healthier choice most mornings. It strikes me as funny that I didn’t come up with this idea sooner, but the other day I got the notion that I could make my healthy, whole-food oats TASTE like pancakes. And still walk away from the table feeling like I made a smarter choice.

I thought about what makes the pancake experience for me. It’s not just the maple flavor. No, it’s the harmonious contrast of the warm, sweet syrup  against the salty, creamy butter along with a bit of cinnamon spice. Yes, that’s the balance I have created here.

Not to mention, this bowl of warm, comforting goodness comes together in less than five minutes.

What took me so long?

IMG_7739.jpg

Maple Butter Pancake Oats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup water

pinch salt

1 tsp. Earth Balance Non-Dairy Margarine

1 Tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 tsp. cinnamon, pumpkin pie or apple pie spice

1/4 tsp. Maldon Sea Salt (optional)

Method:

Cook oats per package directions or microwave in a heat-proof bowl, approximately 2 minutes, 30 seconds at 50% power.

Allow the cooked oats to sit for about a minute, then stir to check for desired doneness. Add remaining ingredients and serve immediately.

IMG_7743.jpg

 

 

 

 

Vegan Frangipane-Raspberry Strudel

IMG_3159

I got to thinking about frangipane and how I hadn’t enjoyed it since way back in my culinary school days. I remembered fondly the rich, creamy sweetness wrapped in a crisp pastry pillow encrusted with sugared almond slices.

I was inspired by this memory to try my hand at a vegan pastry with all the flavor but none of the dairy contained in the classical French preparation.

I was in a hurry to put my theory into action, so I picked up ready-made (accidentally vegan) puff pastry sheets from my grocer’s freezer and set to work.

I let the sheets thaw at room temperature (about 75 degrees) for 45 minutes, until they could be handled easily, but not completely soft. I set my oven to 400 degrees and started making my filling.

I just needed a creamy ingredient to loosen up the almond paste and make it  spreadable, so I chunked the paste  into my food processor with a bit of cashew cream I happened to have leftover in the fridge.

IMG_3141

I processed the two ingredients until very creamy, the consistency of soft frosting.

IMG_3142

I spread a nice thick layer of the frangipane then topped it with raspberry pie filling. I made a second pastry, for good measure– topping the filling with chocolate chips.

IMG_3146

 

IMG_3148

My pastry forming skills are more than a little rusty but I managed it into a shape that looked right, then dabbed a bit of soy milk on top, followed by sliced almonds and sugar. The most important goal, for me, was getting it into the oven 🙂

IMG_3152

I allowed the pastry to bake for 30-40 minutes, until brown and crispy on top and bottom.

IMG_3154

It turned out every bit as good as I had imagined.

IMG_3161

Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry sheets, although not exactly a health food, are one of those accidentally vegan products that comes in handy for creating a special treat on the fly.

The frangipane filling was tasty and sweet, but not overly so due to the addition of the unsweetened cashew cream (about 1/2 cup altogether). If I had it in the cabinet I might have bumped up the almond flavor just a bit with some extract, but all in all this quick and easy pastry was a great success!

 

 

Vegan Apple Crisp

IMG_3343.jpg

I remember when I first became aware there was such a thing called apple crisp. And it wasn’t at home. It was in my elementary school lunchroom. This exotic dessert was warm and sweet and cinnamon-y, with this outrageously crispy topping…so way over and above apple pie. It made an impact on me!

I am sure the recipe originated in somebody’s grandma’s kitchen. Most warm apple desserts do 😉 But, I was ever after held captive by that crispy sweet crust of oats and pecans and brown sugar atop those sweet-tart warm apples.

I hope you enjoy this version, from America’s Test Kitchen, slightly modified by the substitution of vegan margarine for the butter called for in the original recipe:

Apple Crisp

Topping:

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup pecans, chopped fine
¾ cup oats, rolled
½ cup brown sugar, light
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick, melted and cooled

Filling:
1 ½ cups apple cider
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 pounds apples, golden delicious, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges
⅓ cup sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. Earth Balance, non-dairy baking stick
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit . Set oven rack in middle position. Mix together topping with margarine until moistened and crumbly.

IMG_4590
2.Bring cider to simmer in 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Transfer to liquid measuring cup and stir in lemon juice.

IMG_4594.jpg
3.Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften and become translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. (do not fully cook apples). Off heat, gently stir in cider mixture.

IMG_4598.jpg

4.Transfer apple mixture to 13 x 9 inch casserole dish (or individual dishes as shown), sprinkle evenly with topping, breaking up any large chunks.

IMG_4601.jpg

Bake until fruit is tender and top is deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

IMG_4607

5.Reheat in 425 degree oven until slightly warm, about 5 minutes.

Serving suggestion:  Top with vanilla non-dairy ice cream and this fantastic

vegan caramel sauce

from our fellow blogger, Larice at feedingyourbeauty.com.

IMG_4613.jpg

Oh, yeah!!!

IMG_3361.jpg

Alternative Vegan Holiday Menus

10620184_10203230990069968_8683734716864764463_o.jpg

With the holiday season fast upon us–we, as conscious beings, want to participate in the festivities and merry-making and yet, trying to imitate long-held food traditions, albeit “vegan-style” can feel, well, a little regressive in light of everything we now know.

I have nothing against Tofurkey or Gardein or various seitan roasts.  And of course there’s the “Festival of Sides” as I like to call it. The “best of” parade of veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and breads I have prepared and proudly brought to table over the years.

IMG_1823.jpg

But, if you want to try something really courageous, really unconventional– how about a theme menu? One that breaks the rules completely?

 

*Here are a few of my favorite vegan menus for alternative holiday (or anyday) celebrating:

IMG_3462.jpg

 

Soul Food Feast

Barbecue Ribz or Soy Curls

Macaroni and Cheeze

Simmered Greens

Corn Muffins

Sweet Potato Pie

 

 

Italian Feast

Antipasto Salad

Fresh Baguette or Focaccia

Big Pasta Dish: (Lasagna, Pasta Marinara with Meatballs or Sausage, Baked Ziti, etc.)

Tiramisu

 

Indian Feast

Vegetable Samosas

Big Curry Dish: (Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Cashew Vegetable Korma)

Flat Breads

Cinnamon-Chai Rice Pudding

 

Thai Feast

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

Cucumber Salad

Tofu Pad Thai or Red or Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Mango or Coconut Ice Cream with Mango-Ginger Coulis

 

Chinese Feast

Pot Stickers

Spring Rolls

General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli or Szechuan Stir Fry with Vegetables and Sesame GrilledTofu

Creamy Almond Pudding

 

*Stay tuned for recipes in upcoming posts for the menu items without links!!

11875120_10204969694216485_3711644754020690667_o

 

 

 

 

Clean Out The Fridge Yakisoba

IMG_6856.jpg

In case you haven’t noticed, comfort food is the name of the game at my house this week. And carbohydrates take main stage as we inch closer and closer to that moment when hurricane Irma takes a swipe at our little corner of south Florida.

We expect a loss of electricity by tomorrow, so tonight was a good time to clean out the fridge. I rounded up all my pre-chopped salad veggies leftover from our lunch prep and put together a quick sauce to pour over the sautéed veggies and noodles for a delicous dinner that will taste great as a cold salad later when the air conditioning goes out!

No strict ingredient measurements here. It’s mostly about the method with this dish.

Yaki-Soba On The Fly

Ingredients:

Soba Noodles

Assorted veggies, chopped

2-4 Garlic cloves, chopped or sliced thinly

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Canola oil

Sesame oil (if you have it)

Yakisoba sauce (recipe follows)

Quick Yakisoba Sauce

(recipe courtesy Nami from justonecookbook.com)

 (Makes ½ cup (8 Tbsp) I halved this recipe and it was plenty for 10 oz soba noodles
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp vegan oyster sauce (or substitute more soy sauce)
  • 4 tsp ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

IMG_6845.jpg

Method:

Heat a big pot of salted water to boiling for noodles.

Meanwhile, heat a good quantity of oil over medium-high heat until a little piece of garlic sizzles when placed in the skillet. We’re talking a good 2-3 tablespoons with about 1/3 being sesame oil if using.

Add garlic and  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and fry until golden. Watch this very carefully so it doesn’t burn, but you definitely want some color. Reduce heat a bit, add your vegetables and saute until almost fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, get your soba noodles cooking and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the starchy water  to vegetables. This water will reduce a bit and help add body and flavor to the dish. Before the water is fully reduced, drain soba noodles and add them directly into the pan, mixing them around together with the vegetables.

When the water is reduced a bit,  turn the heat down to low. Go ahead and pour the sauce over, mixing until heated through. Serve immediately.

 

Calm Before the Storm Corn Muffins

IMG_6842.jpg

Unless I am preparing food for a client, baking is usually an emotionally led decision for me. I’ll simply be “in the mood” to fire up the oven and turn out a fresh loaf of bread or pan of cookies or brownies. The fragrance that wafts through the house is pure nostalgic comfort to me.

In these uncertain days when all we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst, I find solace and security in the simple mathematics of a recipe. Knowing that this plus this will always equal that. And everything will turn out okay as long as I follow the steps.

Southern style corn bread is sweet and dense, almost like cake. And that’s the way I like it. I absolutely love these muffins and they pair well with a tummy-warming bowl of soup or chili. But there’s nothing like cracking open that first fluffy yellow muffin and taking that first steaming bite standing over the kitchen counter. Even when I feel like there’s nothing I can do to improve a situation…look! Look what I made!!

IMG_6840.jpg

SOUTHERN STYLE CORNBREAD

2 TSP VINEGAR, APPLE CIDER
2 CUP SOY MILK, UNSWEETENED (0R OTHER NON-DAIRY MILK)
1 ½ CUP CORNMEAL, FINE GROUND
1 CUP FLOUR, ALL PURPOSE
2 TSP BAKING SODA
1 TSP SALT
½ CUP SUGAR, CANE
⅓ CUP CANOLA OIL

IMG_6835.jpg
1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. GREASE 8 X 8 INCH PAN OR 12-CUP MUFFIN PAN.

2. STIR VINEGAR INTO MILK VIGOROUSLY WITH A WHISK AND SET ASIDE.

IMG_6837.jpg
3. IN A LARGE BOWL, WHISK TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS. ADD OIL TO MILK MIXTURE THEN STIR INTO DRY INGREDIENTS. POUR INTO PREPARED PAN AND BAKE 30-35 MINUTES (approx 15-20 minutes for muffins) UNTIL PICK INSERTED IN CENTER COMES OUT CLEAN. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

4. COOL ON ELEVATED RACK.

 

 

Hurricane Bread

IMG_6829.jpg

With the imminent weight of Hurricane Irma bearing down upon us, all we can do is prepare as best we can. And wait. In my neighborhood, gas stations are running out of fuel, Costco is out of bottled water (as if that could ever happen), the grocery shelves all but stripped of non-perishable canned and dry goods. And of course, bread.

Time was…young girls were taught to bake as an essential life skill. As with cooking in general, this knowledge and feeling of self-sufficiency comes in handy during times times of lack.

So, I turn to my humble pantry heroes– yeast, flour, salt, sugar, oil and within an hour or two turned out these delicious fresh loaves to stick in the freezer for later, when we may really appreciate having something to spread our peanut butter on.

IMG_6828.jpg

I enjoyed this recipe so much I plan to add it to my regular rotation when all of this is over.

Fast (and easy) Whole Wheat Bread

recipe courtesy Vaishali from Holycowvegan.net

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot– you will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place  1 cup of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix together.
  2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix. Add more of the bread flour if needed. How much flour you will need will depend on where you live and what the weather’s like. I made this bread on a rainy day in Washington and I needed nearly the whole cup. If you live in a dryer region you might need less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with your dough hook set to low speed.  You should now have a smooth, pliable ball of dough that’s not at all sticky.
  4. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and punch it well to deflate all the gases. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a triangle about 10 inches long. Now roll the dough toward yourself and make a cylinder, tucking down the seams and pinching them in so you have a smooth loaf.
  7. Place the dough in a standard loaf pan, seam side down (most loaf pans are 9 X 4 1/2 or 10 X 5 inches)
  8. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let the bread rise in a warm place about 30-45 minutes or until the loaf has risen and domed over the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

IMG_6825.jpg

  1. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the loaf pan to a rack and let it stand until the bread is cool enough to handle. Remove the bread from the pan by loosening the sides with your fingers or a spatula. Place on a rack until it has cooled through.
  3. Slice. Eat.

IMG_6832 (1).jpg

 

 

Soup: A Vegan’s Best Friend

 

Serve

With the popularity of the raw food movement over the past few years it seems some of our old standbys may have faded into the background. I’m here to remind you that soup is good food.

I like salad as much as the next vegan, but, there is something to be said for that satisfied, warm tummy feeling that can only come from hot food, eaten slowly. We often make a meal out of a simple bowl of soup at my house. Maybe a little chunk of bread, maybe not.

It’s filling, it’s nutritious and most soups are inexpensive to make and prep for the week’s menu or even as a fill-in for those moments in-between when you want a quick something hot.

Frame-16-09-2015-10-00-19

Beyond my own personal preference, I did a bit of research and found there are actually benefits to eating hot food. Who knew??

 

Benefits of Eating Hot Food

excerpted from the cable lifestyle blog thecable.ng

Mode of digestion

Hot meals aid proper digestion because of the time it takes to consume it. This enables the consumer to eat in adequate proportions which in turn gives less work to the organ that breaks down food.

Also, during the preparation of the meal, the chemicals in the food would have been broken down before it is served and consumed; the body easily absorbs the nutrients as they diffuse into the system, increasing the nutritional value.

Low risk of bacterial contamination

It is difficult for micro-organisms to survive in hot foods. Micro-organisms die while cooking but allowing the food get cold will reintroduce the bacteria, if not careful; which makes eating the meal in a hot state healthier.

Generates energy for consumption

Warm food restores the energy cold food saps from the body and equally stores up more energy for future use.

Regulates body temperature and weight

One key thing about ingesting hot food is that it regulates the body temperature in response to a cold climate, as it provides warmth from the hot food ingested.

Hot meals also help with body weight and fat; the suppression of appetite observed during the body’s exposure to heat causes the body weight level to drop below set-point which aids greater metabolic efficiency.

Once the body is able to rid unwanted products, the weight would be regulated.

The after-feeling

The feeling you get after taking a hot meal is an amazing one, compared to a cold meal.

018

Check out my selection of delicious soup recipes HERE!


Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

IMG_1034

Another super simple recipe! This one comes from one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Monologue. I’ve made this recipe for my family, not all of whom are vegan and I’ve made it for  newly transitioned clients. It’s unanimous–they all love it!

Big chunks of earthy portobello mushrooms and onions in a savory, creamy gravy that tastes almost identical to its traditional counterpart.

Check out the recipe and this exceptional blog here

Senate Bean Soup

IMG_4833.jpg

U.S. Senate Bean Soup  is traditionally made with navy beans, ham hocks and onions. It is served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day, in a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.

This hearty, economical soup grew in popularity during and between World Wars I and II. It was frequently served to the military.

Here, I have taken the original recipe and made it vegan, by replacing the ham hocks with vegan bacon, kicking up the flavor with a bit of veggie paste and liquid smoke. I’ve given it a creamier consistency by pureeing half of the beans and I finished the dish with crisp, fresh-baked croutons.

Senate Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound dried navy beans
2 quarts  water
1-2 cups chopped vegan bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil

1 Tbsp. vegetable broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches to allow for swelling.

IMG_6205.jpg

Drain and rinse beans then add to a large pot with water to cover plus another inch or two over medium high heat. Bring to boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface. These are impurities that should be removed.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

IMG_6219.jpg

Meanwhile, cook the onions and bacon in olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes over medium heat. When the beans have been cooking for an hour, they should be tender, almost done.

IMG_6220

At this point, scoop out about half of the beans and puree them in a blender until smooth. You may want to remove some of the cooking water if it looks too watery. You can set it aside and add some back in later if you need it.

IMG_6222.jpg

Add the pureed beans back into the pot along with the bacon and onions. Add a tablespoon of vegetable broth paste and liquid smoke, if using. Stir and adjust water as necessary to make the soup the consistency you like. Simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally until flavors are blended and heated through.

IMG_4833

Serve with crispy croutons, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

IMG_4859

I have so many new ideas and recipes to share in my upcoming posts! First of all, I discovered Maldon Sea Salt Flakes this week.

IMG_6580

They add a crunchy finish to a simple fresh avocado, but they really added something special  to these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Another thing I picked up on this week–and it’s a game-changer:

IMG_6251

Sweet Potato Toasts! That’s right, you heard me. Slip thin slices of sweet potato in your toaster and let it go until just tender, twice on the highest setting on my toaster. Then spread it with whatever! Ah-mazing!

On to this week’s passion projects:

Food history has been on my mind lately and I found myself cooking up a big pot of Senate Bean Soup

IMG_4833.jpg

I’m working on finding the perfect recipe for ‘meaty’ vegan burgers and this one comes pretty darn close:  Beet Burgers!

IMG_6244.jpg

To top it all off, I’ll be sharing a delicious preparation for authentic jerk-marinated and roasted tempeh.

IMG_4877.jpg

 

Stay tuned, friends, for these recipes and so much more to come!

 

Depression-Era Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Buttercream

IMG_4791.jpg

During the Great Depression, a time of severe worldwide economic struggle–which took place in the 1930’s and lasted almost a decade– many couldn’t afford milk, eggs or butter, so recipes abound from this period that are accidentally vegan.

I came across this recipe for chocolate cake and just had to give it a try. I made a couple  small tweaks, adding a tablespoon of crushed espresso powder to bump up the cocoa flavor and spread raspberry jam between the layers for that little extra something special.

I also chose the classic Hershey’s Cocoa One-Bowl Frosting Recipe from the side of the cocoa can, handed down by my grandmother when I was a little girl learning to bake in her kitchen. I simply substituted Earth Balance buttery baking sticks for the butter to veganize.

Depression-Era Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
10 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa (or 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp)
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups cold water

Instructions:
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl then add the wet and combine until completely mixed. Pour into two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes.

 

 

Notes: Careful not to over-bake. Check cake for doneness at around 25 minutes by sticking a toothpick in the center.

IMG_6114.jpg

Don’t skimp on the jam!!

IMG_6115.jpg

Also, this cake freezes really well. Cut into individual portions and freeze on a sheet tray, then transfer to covered container or ziplock bags. Easy!

IMG_6122 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

IMG_6132Hey, I can’t believe I haven’t shown up on the blog with this recipe until now. This one, from my home kitchen recipe box is always a big hit, whether featured in burritos, tacos, nachos, salads…the list goes on. Simple, simple ingredients, straight from the cabinet is what I like best about this tasty and quick to prepare recipe.

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tbsp. cooking oil

2 cups frozen vegan crumbles (Gardein is my favorite)

3/4 cup water

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. chili powder (mild or spicy, your call)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic granules)

3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in spice blend and sauté   for 30 seconds. Add water and crumbles stirring well to combine. Cover and lower heat. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally  until heated through and water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, then serve hot. This stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

YakiZoodle with Veggies and Edamame

IMG_6093.jpg

This is a spur of the moment post, just because I want to share an idea more so than a recipe. Although a recipe is included, feel free to do what you do, but whatever you do…try zucchini noodles!!

Last night, in my home kitchen, having gone through the rotation of Mexican, Italian, American and Indian dishes over the course of the week, I pulled together an Asian- inspired meal on the fly.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much I LOVE noodles, particularly Japanese Yakisoba style, which is like fried rice, but with buckwheat soba or udon.

I steamed a handful of POTSTICKERS from the freezer as a first course, then followed them with these tasty zucchini noodles fried up with vegetables, edamame and my secret ingredient: TOM YUM PASTE  Spicy, savory and delicious!

Yaki Zoodle with Veggies and Edmame

Ingredients

2 large zucchini

2 cups assorted vegetables, cut small for faster cooking (whatever you have in the fridge)

3/4 cup edamame, shelled and thawed (if frozen)

Asian flavoring paste like Tom Yum (or a combination of soy sauce, garlic and chili paste, like Sambal Oelek will work)

Sesame oil for saute

Method:

  1. Spiralize the zucchini into noodles using a spiral cutter, or you can also make ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then cut the ribbons into thin noodle-like strips.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute vegetables in a bit of sesame oil until tender-crisp. I start with the hard vegetables first: celery and onions that take a little longer, then add the softer, faster cooking veggies, in stages, ending with the edamame, which only needs to be heated.

IMG_6088.jpg

3.  When the veggies are all cooked and hot, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4.  Take a bit more oil (about 1 tbsp) and heat it gently, then add the Tom Yum paste (about 1 tbsp should do it) whisk it together until blended. It won’t totally blend, but you are just looking to distribute the paste for the zoodles.

5. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan, stirring to heat and slightly soften over medium-high heat. Once the zucchini looks about halfway cooked, add the veggies back in and increase the heat to medium high, getting everything nice and hot. The seasonings will be well distributed all over the zucchini and the vegetables. Taste and add more if desired.

IMG_6090.jpg

Serve immediately!

IMG_6093

Note: NEVER overcook veggies. Apply only enough heat to soften them so they are edible.  This will give you the best flavor and texture, not to mention more nutrients. Trust me, an overcooked veggie is a completely different veggie than a properly cooked one. For this recipe, honestly most of the veggies could just be thrown in raw at the end and eaten crunchy anyway. Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chik’n Noodle Soup

IMG_5786

There’s nothing quite like the distinctive experience of a steaming bowl of fragrant broth brimming with fresh simmered vegetables with plenty of slurpy noodles. Especially when the weather is cool or when you are feeling low.

Making a pot of soup is a caring, healing thing we can do for one another as well. A fresh-cooked, mindfully prepared soup tastes nothing like soup from a can or even from the local deli. This soup is so simple, anyone can do it.

The stars of my vegan show are a golden chicken-less broth,  a dash of  poultry seasoning, Gardein chicken substitute and lots of fresh parsley and cracked black pepper. Guaranteed to heal whatever ails 🙂 I hope you enjoy this soup and I hope you share it with a friend.

IMG_5789 (1).jpg

Chik’n Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups vegetable broth (chicken-less flavor, if you can find it)

1 large carrot, sliced into wheels about 1/8 inch thick

2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1-1 1/2 cups egg-free noodles, cooked ( I used 2 lasagna noodles, cut into thin strips)

2 Gardein chik’n-less scaloppini filets, frozen or thawed

Big handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning (optional)

Fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Combine first four ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and set to boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, saute filets in a little oil in a small skillet until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

When vegetables are tender, remove lid from pot and add the cooked noodles, stirring to make sure they are well distributed throughout soup. Dice the cooked scaloppini filets to about the same size as the vegetables and stir into the soup. Add parsley and lots of ground pepper. Taste for salt and continue stirring until all ingredients are heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

 

French Onion Soup

Macro

They said it couldn’t be done…but here it is, a veganized version of the classic French onion soup!

This recipe comes from Allison Rivers Samson, owner and operator of Allison’s Gourmet Online Vegan Bakery and Confectionary. She is famous for her ultra-decadent gourmet vegan chocolates and other sweets, but it doesn’t end there.

Allison is also the author of the “Veganize It” column for VegNews magazine.  Her recipes feature veganized versions of many comfort food favorites, like macaroni and cheese, lasagna, burgers–even Caesar salad! These recipes and so much more can be found here on her blog. I am a big fan of Allison’s work, both sweet and savory!

 Here’s a basic rundown of this deceptively simple, yet impressively elegant recipe:

Slice

Slice onions very thinly and sweat them in a large stock pot with a bit of salt.

Prep

The most critical step in this recipe is the caramelization of the onions. It is important to allow the onions to really cook down nice and brown. This is going to provide a very rich flavor to the soup.


Carmelize

Once the onions are done, the pan gets deglazed with a bit of white wine then vegetable stock and seasonings are added and the soup simmers for a few minutes.

Soup

Top with a toasted vegan cheese French bread slice and serve immediately!

Plate

Soup and Bread

IMG_4212

It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

Easy Olive Oil Bread

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

IMG_4207

 

 

Vegetable Potstickers

IMG_4520.jpg

These lovely little dumplings are a favorite at our local Japanese restaurant. Served with a simple dipping sauce, they make a tasty appetizer or a light meal. I was strolling my neighborhood Asian market and finally came across egg-free gyoza wrappers. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and fulfill my vision!

These can be filled with whatever flavorful blend of vegetables you prefer. You could also add a variety of proteins such as crumbled tofu, shelled edamame or one of the many flavors of Gardein meat substitute, chopped fine. Get creative!

Vegetable Potstickers

Ingredients:

Egg-free gyoza wrappers (store-bought or homemade)

Filling:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (I used pre-packaged angel hair coleslaw), lightly chopped

3/4 cups shredded carrot, chopped

1-2 scallions, chopped

1 cup shelled edamame (thawed, if frozen), roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari sauce

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1/s Tbsp. sesame oil, or to taste

Salt, to taste

Sesame oil for frying

1/4 cup water

Method:

If you prefer a softer cabbage, place shreds in microwave for about 3 minutes at 50% power or saute lightly in sesame oil. Otherwise, proceed with the next step. Combine vegetables in a bowl and mix in cornstarch. This will absorb excess water. Add seasonings and taste for flavor. Add additional soy sauce or salt or sesame oil to your liking. Make sure it tastes good.

IMG_5375.jpg

Scoop about a teaspoonful of filling on the center of the gyoza wrapper, making sure the filling is not dripping wet. Lightly apply a bit of water around the edges of the dough. Fold over like a half-moon, pinching the edges to seal. Continue until the filling is used up.

IMG_5377.jpg

Heat about 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry  as many dumplings as will fit in the pan at the same time until brown on the bottoms. Do not turn over. The following step is crucial. Immediately add the 1/4 cup water around the outside edges of the pan’s interior and cover. This will steam the dumplings. When all the water is evaporated and the bottoms “stick” to the skillet, they are done.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce (recipe follows)

Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp.  rice wine vinegar
¼ tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. chili-garlic paste (optional)

Method:

Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

IMG_5374.jpg

 

Carrot-Ginger Bisque

If you’re ready to get back on the good foot after the holiday indulgences of the past few weeks, here’s a place to start. A nutritious, light yet satisfying soup of simmered carrots and onions, finished with ginger and coriander. And so easy to make–you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

IMG_4393 (1).jpg

Carrot Ginger Bisque

¾ tbsp. Olive oil
2 med Onion
4 cups Vegetable broth
4 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, finely grated
¾ tsp. Cinnamon
¾ tsp. Coriander

Method:

1. Saute onions about 5 minutes. Add broth and 1/2 cup of water, more or less–carrots and half of the ginger.. bring to boil, reduce & simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender.
2.Remove pot from heat and let cool for one hour, covered. Puree with immersion blender  (or Vitamix) until smooth, adding remaining  ginger, cinnamon and coriander. Taste for salt and pepper and add more water if needed, returning to pot if necessary to heat through. Finish with parsley (optional).

Tempeh Meatloaf

title

One of my very favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. It is not easy to duplicate in vegan cookery, although recipes abound for variations of this classic main dish.  I have been on a quest for four years to find the texture and flavor I am looking for. I think I have found the one with this hearty loaf from Anne Gentry, owner of Real Food Daily restaurant.

The most important technical factor in a loaf, for me, is that is MUST hold together tightly and slice well. Loaf recipes can be tricky l and I will admit, I messed up on my first try.

IMG_3038

Not a problem, though, because I just crumbled the whole loaf and froze it to use later in a Shepherd’s Pie! Never waste good tasting food!

crumbles

I tried again and followed the directions explicitly and the second loaf turned out perfectly. I think I overcooked the tempeh the first time around. Yes, the recipe is a bit fussy, but the results are worth it– a substantial, tasty tempeh loaf, great paired with your favorite gravy or cold the next day on a sandwich, just like Mom used to make–well, sorta.

Tempeh Meatloaf

from The Real Food Daily Cookbook

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil

1 ½ pounds tempeh

1/3 cup organic ketchup

1/3 cup yellow miso

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

¾ cup gluten flour

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped peeled carrot

1 tomato, finely chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 ½ tsp. dried

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp. dried

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. sesame oil

shred

Preheat oven to 375. Coat the inside of a 9 inch loaf pan with 1 tsp. sesame oil and set aside. Shred tempeh with the shredder blade of a food processor or a hand grater.  In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, miso, nutritional yeast and soy milk. Add the tempeh and stir just to coat. Sprinkle gluten flour over mixture and combine. Mixture will be moist.

mix

Transfer to sheet pan oiled with 1 tsp. canola oil. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in 1 tbsp. canola oil until soft (about 8 minutes). Add tomato, spices, salt and pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add tempeh mixture to hot vegetable mixture and mix well. Note: vegetable mixture must be hot when adding together. Transfer to loaf pan and pack tightly. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes or until brown. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing. Slice and serve hot with your favorite gravy.

IMG_3041

Basil-Spinach Pesto

IMG_0931

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!

IMG_0949

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

IMG_0937

15 Minute Farro

IMG_3666.jpg

When it comes to choosing a whole grain foundation for plant-based meals, I like to mix it up for variety’s sake, but I also like to get the most nutritional bang for my buck.

Farro is a type of wheat often referred to an “ancient grain” and nutritionally, it outperforms even brown rice and whole-grain pasta. Per ½-cup serving, farro delivers more protein (about 3.5 g) and fiber (about 3.5 g) than brown rice.

But the main reason I add farro to meals is because it is EASY,  QUICK to prepare and it tastes great!

IMG_3644.jpg

15 Minute Farro

1 cup farro

3 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

Rinse grains in cold water and place in saucepan with water (and salt, if using).

IMG_3647.jpg

Cover and bring to low boil for fifteen minutes or until al dente or chewy.

IMG_3654.jpg

Drain off any remaining water if necessary and serve as is or toss with sautéed aromatics or veggies such as onion, celery and carrots and fresh chopped parsley–pilaf style.

 

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Bean Curry)

IMG_3503.jpg

I couldn’t wait to try this recipe I stumbled upon at SpiceyAndSugaryBites. I’ve never made an Indian curry with kidney beans before. It turned out great. I hope you will give it a try as well!

IMG_3441.jpg

I pre-cooked the dried kidney beans after soaking overnight.

IMG_3466.jpg

Meanwhile I gathered my spices and chopped my aromatics.

IMG_3471.jpg

The saute’ smells amazing!

IMG_3477.jpg

I love that final stage where everything comes together and all that’s left is the simmer and check for seasoning. My husband walked in and said, “Oh, we are having chili!” And I said, “You’ve never had chili like this before!”

 

Mixed Indian Dal with Savory Aromatics

IMG_3419

I have an abiding admiration for and a bit of an obsession with Indian cuisine. I find the complexity of the spices and the aromatics absolutely intoxicating. On any given day I would happily choose a hearty, fragrant bowl of Indian spiced dal for any meal, including breakfast!

Dal, or dhal is a dried pulse (lentil, pea or various types of bean) which has been split. Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t realize just how many varieties and types of these pulses there are–each with its own characteristic texture and flavor.

At the store’s freezer section one day, I read the ingredients on a box of  Amy’s Vegetable Korma and was stunned to find listed several different types of dal I have never heard of. I just had to make a visit to my local Indian grocery to investigate. I brought home several bags of different colors and types of lentils and split peas and beans.

Next stop, the library. I gathered as many Indian cookbooks as I could manage and dove right into the lentils and beans chapters. One book that stands out as offering the most accessible, easy-to-prepare dal recipes turned out to be

“The Indian Vegan Kitchen” by Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.

6183VVxyp7L._SX405_BO1,204,203,200_

Here is one of several recipes I have prepared from this book (with slight modification) and the journey continues!

Black Gram and Bengal Gram Dal (derived from a recipe by Madhu Gadia)

*3/4 cup urad dal (split, hulled)

*1/4 cup chana dal (split, hulled)

7 cups water (I used only 5 cups, for a more stew-like consistency)

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. salt

Seasoning (chunk)

3 tbsp. coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)

*1/4 tsp. asafetida powder (hing)

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, peeled and grated

2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

Lemon wedges

*These items may be hard (or impossible) to find at your local grocery, so if you don’t have an Indian grocer nearby you can find everything you need on amazon.com. However, it will be way less expensive if you can find a local resource.

Method:

I prepared on the stove, but the original recipe gives directions for either stovetop or pressure cooker.

First, wash the lentils in 3 to 4 changes of water. Really wash them well, until the water is clear if possible. Drain and cover with water and allow to soak for at least 2 hours.

IMG_3391.jpg

Drain lentils and add with water and salt to saucepan and bring to boil, skimming off any foam that collects on the top. Add turmeric, then cover and cook on low, until soft, about 30-45 minutes.

IMG_3393.jpg

Meanwhile, gather the aromatics and seasonings.

IMG_3399

Heat the oil on medium high and add asafetida followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow to sizzle, stirring for a few seconds, then add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander and cayenne then fry for a few seconds until soft.

IMG_4708

Combine the seasonings and the cooked dal in the same pot and stir gently until well combined. Heat through to serving temperature. Continue to cook, uncovered on low heat for a thicker consistency. Check for salt before serving. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

IMG_4713

This dal has a hearty, yet creamy texture. The flavor is rich and savory. Just delicious!

IMG_3424.jpg

Shopping at India Bazaar, West Palm Beach, FL 🙂

IMG_4454.jpg