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.

 

Simple Cinnamon Rolls

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I love home-cooked breakfast on Sundays. I woke this morning thinking about the other half of a double batch of pizza dough I whipped up yesterday. The dough was what my Nana would describe as “happy”– full of air, fluffy and nearly bursting through the wrap, eager to get into whatever creative plan I would soon hatch.

So inspired, I came up with this delicious treat. The scent of warm cinnamon and buttery brown sugar wafting through the house is irresistible.

Ingredients:

1 batch pizza dough (homemade or store-bought, my whole wheat version shown here)

1/4 cup flour for rolling

1/4 cup dairy-free buttery spread (such as Earth Balance), softened, plus extra for pan

1 big tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Note: Ingredients amounts are flexible. If you like more cinnamon, by all means, pile it on. That goes for sugar, nuts, raisins, chocolate–whatever you like. You can’t mess this up. It’s your creation!

Method:

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with buttery spread until well-coated.

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Lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, checking underneath periodically, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Spread the margarine to cover the dough to the edges. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nuts evenly and pat down to adhere to dough.

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Roll the long side tightly to form a log shape. With a very sharp knife, cut into 1 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place side by side in the cake pan. Brush with additional margarine if desired.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until sugar is bubbly and rolls are lightly browned.

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Serve with vanilla glaze if desired:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together well and drizzle over rolls

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

Tofu Pad Thai

Image courtesy of Steve daPonte

Image courtesy Steve daPonte

This is a quick and easy recipe for a Thai restaurant favorite. I like to make this dish at home, because I can choose the ingredients. I think it tastes even better than traditionally prepared. Most Thai restaurants season with fish sauce– a real bummer for vegans.

I also like to press and freeze my tofu, then thaw it completely before using in dishes where I want more texture. This method also helps tofu absorb marinade more readily. I just wrap it airtight, freeze overnight, then when thawed, I squeeze it out one more time, and use as desired.

prep

Tofu Pad Thai

from “Big Vegan” by Robin Asnell

  • ¼ cup Vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. Lime Juice (or more, to taste)
  • ¼ cup Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 12 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced, peeled
  • 2 cloves Minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Rice noodles, banh pho
  • 4 Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 ounces Bean sprouts
  • ½ cup Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Cilantro

Method:

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.
2.Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.
3.Meanwhile, cook the noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice if desired. If too strong, add more stock or a bit a of water. If too sour add a bit more sweetener. Balance the flavors to your taste.
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4.Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

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“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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One the fundamental building blocks of my weekly meals is tofu. Through much trial and error over the years, I have come to a great appreciation and respect for its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

French Onion Soup

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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.

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

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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.

Tempeh Picatta

Tempeh Picatta

Tangy lemon and capers in a savory butter garlic sauce over pan-seared tempeh. A very easy, enlightened version of the restaurant classic!

Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is found next to the tofu in the grocery store. I like to use it in recipes that call for a “meatier” texture like for loaves and faux meatballs.

This recipe makes plenty of sauce, so it goes great with pasta or rice on the side.

Tempeh Picatta

from “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli

1 8-ounce package tempeh, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

*In a large pot, place the tempeh in a steamer basket over enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, checking the water level periodically and adding more if needed.

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In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and cook tempeh on each side for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

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In the same skillet, heat remaining oil and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add broth to skillet so the oil doesn’t spatter. Reduce heat to medium and let the broth bubble down for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl and slowly drizzle it into the skillet, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low. Add lemon juice and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the tempeh back into the pan and turn over to coat and heat through. Turn off the heat and stir in margarine, capers and parsley until margarine is melted and well incorporated. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

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*Note: Use this steaming method to remove any bitterness from the tempeh. If you use West Soy Brand tempeh, however, bitterness will not be an issue and you can skip this step!

Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

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

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

Easy Pizza Dough

Source: Chloe’s Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:  Summer Tempeh Sammies. This marinade is zippy! That’s the best word to describe the tangy, garlicky, savory punch in the taste buds it delivers. One word of caution, though–if you are serving more than two people, double the recipe because it goes fast!

Here are the pics:

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Sometimes life seems upside-down, but I’ll tell you what puts everything in perspective: a new baby!! I have the honor of baking the cake for my daughter’s baby shower this weekend and this is what she requested–cravings and all 😉

Like most people, when I need a recipe fast–even though I have a collection of cookbooks I go straight to the great Google in the sky. Unfortunately, this time, I didn’t find any vegan versions of this classic cake that made me want to go out on a limb and try an unproven recipe. Some of the photos I found were downright horrific!

Okay, so I put on my thinking cap: What’s so special about pineapple upside-down cake? Well, of course, it’s the syrupy sweet brown sugar and pineapple on top.

I went straight to Paula Deen for this part of my cake. She is the reigning expert on good old-fashioned southern cooking in my book. It’s so simple:

Sprinkle a good quantity of dark brown sugar ( about 3/4 cup) on the bottom of the cake pan.  Melt 1/4 cup of Earth Balance non-dairy margarine and drizzle over. Lay down pineapple rings and maraschino cherries to cover surface area.

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Ok, I got that part. Next, for the cake. What’s so special about the cake part? Well, as I recall the cake isn’t especially rich, it’s more like a lightly sweet sponge. I took my favorite vegan almond sponge cake recipe from Chloe Coscarelli and substituted pineapple juice for the water and voila!

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I set out to test my theory.

First of all, the scent of this cake in the oven was intoxicating. I LOVE almond flavor and in this recipe it really permeates the cake. As promised, the recipe yielded a lightly sweet but delicious sponge cake balanced by the ultra-brown sugary, buttery topping.

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The result: Absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to make it for our guests to celebrate the impending arrival of Baby Cora!

Almond Sponge

Source: Chloe Coscarelli
(Servings: 8)

1 ½ cups Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
¾ cup Water (substitute pineapple juice)
½ cup Canola oil
2 tbsp. Vinegar (white or ac)
1 tbsp. Almond extract

Lightly grease 9 inch round. Wet into dry, whisk just until combined. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Note: with the topping, I found it took an extra 10-15 minutes to bake all the way through.

 

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Kat, Brandon and Baby Rayna

 

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

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

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

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

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

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

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

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

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Add lime juice and sriracha to taste.:

Tofu Black Bean Quesadillas

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I’ve been working pretty hard the past couple of weeks, planning for a big upcoming event. This is where my diet tends to break down and food choices get kind of lax. Too tired to even think about dinner by the time I get to Sunday evening.

Sometimes, however, while rummaging around in the fridge I am hit with that second wind of inspiration. I thought about how I really enjoy scrambled tofu and how easy it is to flavor up with Indian spices and garlic. Tofu absorbs whatever you add to it. So I decided to flavor it with Mexican spices and see if I could make it like taco filling. It worked really well!

 I put it together with whole grain tortillas, leftover black beans, faux cheese, cilantro and green onions. This will make a great filling for tacos, casseroles, nachos or salads too. Dinner crisis averted!

Tofu Taco Filling

1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed or squeezed well and crumbled

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt ( or less depending on your taste)

1/2 cup water

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add tofu and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add spices, salt and water to combine well. Cook and stir over low heat until moisture is absorbed. Check for seasoning and serve hot.

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.

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

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It’s still winter where I live, in sunny Florida. Happily, our little cold snaps are short-lived. This is great weather for curling up in a blanket with a hot bowl of nourishing soup.

This broccoli soup is refreshingly light as compared to the traditional butter, milk and cheese recipe many of us grew up with. It is thickened by the puree of vegetables, and lightly finished with a rich and flavorful blend of cashews, silken tofu and seasonings  combined to create a wonderfully cheese-like experience that compliments vegetables, nachos, pizza, tofu scramble, and many other dishes.

Broccoli Soup

  • 1 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 1 White onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds Broccoli
  • 4 cups Vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp. Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups Spinach leaves, fresh, packed
  • 1/2 recipe Cheezy Sauce (see below)
1.Trim and chop broccoli, including stems, reserving 2 cups of florets.
2.In a large soup pot, saute onions and celery in canola oil until transluscent, about 10 minutes.
3.Add broccoli, except reserved floret, and stir in stock, salt and pepper. : Cover and bring to simmer over high heat. Decrease heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, until very tender.
4.Stir in spinach and continue to simmer until wilted. Puree with immersion blender until smooth.: Add broccoli florets and simmer until tender.
5.Drizzle individual servings with cheezy sauce and serve immediately. Yields 4-6 servings.

Cheezy Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cashews, raw
  • 12 oz. Soft, silken tofu
  • ¼ tsp. Garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. Onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. Turmeric
  • ½ tsp. Yellow miso
  • ½ tsp. Paprika
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp. Water

Method:

1.In a small pot, cover the cashews with water, and boil for about 8 minutes to soften. Drain and let cool.
2.In a food processor, process cashews until they’re finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Five Minute Asian Peanut Noodles

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Noodles are high on my list of favorite foods. There is something so comforting in the simplicity of just noodles and sauce. And they are fun to eat.

This recipe is quick, quick, quick. You can dress it up or dress it down to its basics. Either way it’s a very simple no-cook sauce with three main ingredients, and easy to remember ratios. That’s my very favorite part.

ingredients

Ingredients:

1/3 of a 10 oz package authentic Chinese dried noodles

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce ( or liquid aminos)

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of ground ginger

Optional Ingredients:

Shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions or other fresh veggies

Fresh cilantro, torn or chopped

Toasted sesame seeds or Gomasio

Asian Chili Sauce or crushed red pepper

Chopped peanuts

Noodles

Method:

Place noodles in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for five minutes. While noodles are working, blend sauce ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick. Drain noodles and add to sauce. Toss noodles to coat and add any optional ingredients, chili sauce (if you like it spicy) or other garnishes.

prepYield:

One large or 2 small servings

 

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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

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

Neither could we imagine the journey we would share–a winding path filled with surprises, some happy, some sad and some bursting with instantaneous joy and laughter.

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.

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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.

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

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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 journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

Savory Scrambled Tofu with Sausage Bacon

Plate

This is my favorite tofu scramble recipe. It features fragrant spices: thyme and cumin as well as a bit of garlic. It’s as easy to put together on a busy workday morning as a lazy Sunday. You can find this delicious recipe and so many others from the Post Punk Kitchen by clicking here.

I like to kick up my breakfast sandwich with thin slices of my favorite vegan sausage, seared crispy brown and layered on whole grain toast with a bit of yellow mustard.

sandwich

Today I used Field Roast chipotle flavor. It’s a spicy companion to the fragrant Indian spices in the tofu scramble. This scramble stores and reheats well (that is, if you have any leftovers) for wraps, stuffing mushrooms or peppers–even sprinkling on a salad.

scramble.pan

Veggies and Dumplings

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This one will be familiar to those of you who grew up in the south, or grew up enjoying southern food. My Nana taught me to make old-fashioned dumplings and gravy when I was a child, and it still says down-home comfort to me.

Today’s dish reflects a more enlightened approach: more veggies and gluten-free. This recipe, adapted from “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats” by Allyson Kramer is flawless.

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Veggies and Dumplings

Boil 4 cups vegetable broth

 Add:

½ large zucchini, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

½ Vidalia onion, chopped

1 3/4 oz. Shittake mushrooms, chopped

1 1/2 oz. Cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add and return to boil:

½ tablespoon dried sage

½ cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed

Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Make dumplings:

2.5 cups bizquix mix (see recipe below)

¾ c non-dairy milk

Make 10 dumplings (golf ball sized) and drop into stew ( I use a small ice cream scoop). Cover and reduce to medium-low.  Cook 10 minutes, until firm.

If the broth does not thicken, you may add a cornstarch slurry, but I found the stew magically thickens on its own.

Slurry:

1 T cornstarch

1/8 cup cold water

Note: When reheating, do not heat to piping hot, as it will turn the dumplings soggy. Heat only until warm enough to be palatable.

Bizquix Mix (Gluten free baking mix) 

3 cups superfine brown rice flour

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

¾ cup potato starch

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 t zanthan gum

½ t sea salt

1 ¼ t baking soda

3 T baking powder

1 cup coconut oil, slightly softened, not liquified.

Mix coconut oil into dry ingredients until crumbly. Cover and chill in fridge for a few hours until cold. Pulse in processor until uniform fine mixture. Store in airtight container up to 3 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoky Cheddar Sauce

nachos

The next recipe in my “Turning on to Tofu” series, this deceptively simple cheese sauce. I used soft silken tofu combined with cashews, to add a smooth, creamy consistency that pours easily over nachos, veggies, baked potatoes, burgers–you name it!

prep

I love that I always have these staple ingredients in my pantry and fridge. Tofu stores well, so I try to keep a couple packages handy for whipping up a batch of quick scramble or a cheese spread. Maybe even a chocolate mousse. I’ll get to those recipes later.

“Smoky Cheddar Cheeze Sauce” (from “The Sexy Vegan” by Brian Patton)

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 smoked paprika

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2/3 cup water

Method:

Place the cashews in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook for 8 minutes, to soften them up a bit. While the cashews are cooking, measure the dry spices, combine and set aside.

Drain tofu of any extra liquid. Measure wet ingredients, combine and set aside. By this time the cashews should be done cooking. Drain them well and allow to cool. This is a good time to prepare the nacho toppings.snip

Here’s a little tip I learned from Martha Stewart back in the day: snip scallions with a sharp pair of kitchen shears. I found this also works great with herbs and olives. One of many great timesavers I learned from Ms. Stewart, including how to say, “Marin-ah-de”.

Grind the cashews in a food processor until fine. Add the tofu and half of the wet ingredients. Process until well blended. Add the remaining wet ingredients and process until very smooth. Add the desired amount to a small pot and heat very gently stirring often, until warmed. Do not boil. The sauce will thicken a bit as it heats and turn a lovely shade of cheese.

While sauce is heating, preheat the oven to 275 degrees and warm the tortilla chips for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour sauce over chips with desired toppings and enjoy! Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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Blueberry Pancakes Stuffed with Tofu Scramble and Tempeh Chorizo

This was a dinner idea that popped into my head during the cool down phase of my workout tonight. Yes, I was really hungry!

It got me thinking…how I really enjoy tofu in its many forms, today more than ever. Tofu has this chameleon-like quality that lends itself so well to so many applications.

The thing about tofu–I never really appreciated it until I quit eating meat. Not until my palate adjusted to a level of sensitivity where it could pick up on subtle flavors and textures did I truly begin to enjoy what has become a staple in my menus.

This recipe begins a short series I will call “Turning on to Tofu”. I will be sharing over the coming posts, some of my favorite uses for this versatile food.

For the above recipe, I took a lovely homemade vegan blueberry pancake ( I always keep a few in the freezer), warmed it in the microwave and rolled it out with a rolling pin to flatten it a bit. I scooped in a good portion of fresh scrambled tofu (Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe) and a spoonful of tempeh chorizo (recipe from Sexy Vegan).

I rolled it up like a burrito and served it with a little real maple syrup. It was delicious!

 

 

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!

Tapas for Two

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Medley with Garlic and Thyme, Creamy Artisan Cheese, Tomato Balsamic Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade with Grilled Sourdough

This is one of my favorite dinners to share on a weekend evening with my sweetie. A little of this, a little of that–an intensely flavorful variety of tastes and textures. A glass of organic red wine (Orleans Hill Syrah, 2011) and that’s all I need.

Wild Mushroom Medley

8 oz. mushrooms (Shittake, Portobello, Button, Cremini ) thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3/4 tsp. dried thyme

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Saute garlic for 30 seconds then add mushrooms and thyme and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Season to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Artisan Cheese Spread

7 oz. firm tofu, drained

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup water, scant

1/3 cup yellow miso

1/4 cup tahini

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients, adding only as much water as needed, in food processor and blend until spreadable consistency.

Tomato Balsamic Bruschetta:

1 14 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained

1 clove, garlic finely minced

1/4 onion, finely minced

Handful fresh basil, finely minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and let stand for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Season to taste.

To assemble tapas:

Heat a grill or oiled grill pan to medium high heat. Grill thin slices of sourdough bread until toasted and grill-marked. Remove and serve immediately on a platter with toppings to include Artisan Cheese, Wild Mushroom Medley, Tomato Bruschetta, finely diced olives and capers, onions, marinated vegetables, etc.

 

Pesto Pizza Party!

Kicking off our vacation week and what better way to start than with a beautiful homemade vegan pizza! I found this oil-free pesto recipe at fatfreevegan.com.

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

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

oil-free pesto

Recipe by: Susan Voisin

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

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

Cheezy Sauce

You don’t have to give up nachos for a vegan diet, most of us know that now. With all the “faux” cheeses available, there’s no excuse not to give up that one dairy food that keeps many of us on the fence between vegetarian and vegan.

That being said– I have a real problem with processed fake cheese products. Number one, the fat content is super high. The sodium is often very high as well. I try to stick pretty close to nature in my dishes, and I found a really great all-purpose cheezy sauce recipe in “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

I took their already wonderful recipe and tweaked it just a bit,  removing the oil, thus creating a fat-free sauce that tastes great! Pour it over baked nacho chips with all the fixins’ and I promise you will never miss that extra fat and calories.

Cheezy Sauce

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon water

3 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of dried thyme (crumbled in your fingers)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

Method:

Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved ( a couple of lumps are okay). Preheat a non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the water and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, and yeast flakes, and raise the heat to medium. Use a plastic coated whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat a bit higher.

Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mustard. Taste for salt, turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep warm until ready to use. Serve warm.

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.

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.

Since we went vegan and oil-free, we have given up mayonnaise, even egg-free mayo substitutes, because of the high fat content. So, we have to be a little more creative in how we come up with creamy textures. One indispensable ingredient is raw cashews. The natural fat lends itself well to sauces and toppings both savory and sweet.  Continue reading