Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sjaak's Vegan, Organic, Fair Trade Chocolates

Thank you Vegan Cuts for including a chocolate caramel from Sjaak's in your snack box last month.  I used the coupon included in the box when I ordered my chocolates.  I bought the large Holiday box and a sampler box of 3 Eli's Earth Bars to share with my non-vegan friends.  The shipping box included ice packs for $5, which I'm glad I got first because it's been in the eighties this past week, and second because even though my local UPS received my order on Thursday morning, the box didn't get delivered until Monday morning.

Aside from the chocolates being vegan, organic, and fair trade, they are absolutely delicious.  The dark and milk chocolate are equally decadent.  The caramel is rich and tastes like I remember.  The various nut fillings are smooth, creamy, and well seasoned without being overly salted.  The cherry filling surprised me as it is sweet, but not syrupy sticky sweet and was just so luscious I want to live in it. I haven't had chocolates like this in many many years so I was very happy that these are just the perfect fulfillment of my memory of fine chocolate.

I have had one of the Eli's Earth bars so far:  The Dream Big Bar.  It was heaven in a plastic wrapper and I expect that the others will be just as amazing.  I will definitely order more for any festive occasions I have in the future and hope to keep a few bars around the house, although maybe after I start enforcing my New Year's resolutions.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Kite Hill Cassucio

I love their White Alder, but this, this soft, salty, tangy cheese is such a delight.  I'm assuming this is what goat cheese tastes like.  I have only eaten hard goat cheese from Mexico and that was over 20 years ago.  I want to spread it on toasted baguette with fruity olive oil and a smear of fig jam, and serve it with a nice glass of chilled white wine.  Or maybe broiled over figs in red wine, or maybe stuffed into a gigantic olive and served in a dirty martini. Decision decisions. Get yourself to +Whole Foods Market  and buy up all you can and serve it at your next holiday party, if you don't eat it all first.  I can't wait to see what they'll do next.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ideas for Quick Treats

I know that most of my recipes are kind of labor intensive, but I think it makes a big difference in the taste and nutritional content of my food.  That being said sometimes I am exhausted and just want something fast and tasty.

1.  Smear a tablespoon of +Peanut Butter & Co. heaven on a piece of Divine Chocolate.  It's fair trade so it's good for your soul too :)  A piece this big should be shared with someone else.

2.  Chop celery and saute in butter to add to 2 cans of lentil soup.  Add a bag of frozen spinach.  Extra vitamins, yum!

3.  +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market really helps make things fast, fresh and healthy.  I bought a bag of chopped washed kale salad, added to a tray of pre-cooked quinoa, and a bag of +gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips with sauce et voila!! Dinner with protein, fiber, vitamins and leftovers.  It took me 10 minutes with a microwave and a little coking pot.

4.  Make your own microwave dinners for work or at home.  I added +gardein Turkey Cutlets with some of the gravy, cut asparagus, and a scoop of Amy's Vegan ice Mac & Cheeze to my reusable containers so I could freeze them for later use. I do this with different frozen vegan protein and veggies over the weekend to leave at work.  It's a great time saver since I'm always running late.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Cookies!!

I love making cookies for any occasion, but Halloween is especially fun. I have a huge box of assorted cookie cutters so I make them in different shapes and sizes.

For these cookies I made last year, I used Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix and followed the instructions for roll-out dough.  Using Betty Crocker is questionable for some vegans, so if you have any info on the source of the ingredients, or have a fool proof roll out cookie dough recipe, I'd appreciate the feedback. For Christmas I use the low-fat gingerbread recipe from my copy of The Joy of Cooking and veganize it. 

The icing is basic buttercream:  2 sticks Earth Balance, 1 lb. powdered sugar, a tb. Silk Vanilla, vanilla-adjust quantities for consistency-whip and chill.  I put the icing into bowls and tinted it with food coloring drops. I used mini tubes of writing icing for detail, but you could thin some buttercream and use it from a piping bag. 

Happy Halloween :D

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuna Sandwich

I got this can of meatless tuna in my +Vegan Cuts  box last month so of course I was gonna try it and talk about it.  I never liked any kind of seafood when I ate meat, so this was a bit of a leap of faith for me.  It was really easy to prepare, open can, drain, put in a bowl, dress and serve.  Okay so very much like real tuna in that respect.  The pieces were small, but not flaked.  The quantity was just right for a taste, and the nutritional content is amazing:  full of protein, but not a lot of carbs or fat.

I dressed my tuna with FYH Vegenaise, of course, and tapenade from +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market , which is where I got the awesome rosemary loaf and butter lettuce.  I toasted the loaf, added mayo to one side, topped with lettuce, topped with tuna, cut it in half and wrapped it up to share at work.  So the meat eater said I overpowered the tuna flavor with tapenade.  Which is kind of what I wanted to do, but I could definitely taste the tuna.  It is very close to the real thing.  If you miss tuna, you're gonna love this product, and it's good for you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Product Reviews: Kite Hill White Alder and Louisville Vegan Jerky

Kite Hill White Alder

I used to love cheese, but I stopped eating it when I was so young that I never got to try anything interesting like brie, gouda, stilton, etc.  So when I saw the box at +Whole Foods Market of course I grabbed one.  The cheese is creamy, mild, and sort of fluffy.  I really liked the taste and would recommend pairing it with something that helps the two foods you choose complement each other.  I served mine on rosemary rolls with olive oil.


Louisville Vegan Jerky

+Vegan Cuts offered a sampler pack of this jerky at a great price so I bought some.  It's great.  Chewy, savory, spicy, a little too salty for my taste, but it's full of protein.  I used the crumby bits at the bottom of the bag of Bourbon Smoked Spicy Chipotle to make some quesadillas.  It was wonderful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fennel Slaw

I don't really use root vegetables and bulbs in my cooking because I'm scared of starch, which is not quite true, but potatoes make me gain weight within a week.  I did use turnips and rutabagas one year for Thanksgiving instead of mashed potatoes and they worked well.  So my irrational phobia aside, I had the walnut croquettes with fennel slaw at Fatty's in Eagle Rock and I was delighted.  That and the fudgey cake (OMG).  My imitation was nowhere near as good as the original, but I like that vegetable, I discovered how yummy blood oranges are, and I'm gonna get it right someday.

 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and washed
2 blood oranges, peeled and cut into small cubes
1-2 small carrots, shredded
Your favorite vinaigrette, or oil, vinegar, and seasonings
Almond slices

I borrowed my mom's As Seen on TV style mandolin to cut the fennel into slaw sized shreds.  I gave up cursing the contraption and used the knuckle buster to shred the carrots.  I mistakenly warmed the vinaigrette I made in a wok and tossed the slaw mixture in with the orange pieces.  I mixed in the almond slices after letting the slaw cool a bit.

What I learned from this experience:

I love fennel enough to eat it even though it was made improperly.  It needed absolutely no cooking.  Also, I need to get a really good mandoline or have my knives sharpened because that death trap I used was so frustrating and really bruised the fennel.  It's hard.  Really hard.  Be careful.  OH AND nutmeg is very potent, use it sparingly.  Next time, no heat, more fruit, and bottled citrus vinaigrette, until I learn how to make a good one. 

As you can see, I make a whole meal out of this.  That's the slaw with rosemary rolls from +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market toasted in the toaster oven and Nate's Meatless Savory Mushroom Meatballs in mushroom gravy.  Gravy I can make.  Call me on Turkey day, I got that covered. :)


YOU NEED A GOOD ROUX!!!!!  And some bouillon cubes, sweet vermouth, herbs, spices, and mushrooms.  This was a two pan process, and totally worth it.  

First make the broth a little on the strong side.  I dissolved two cubes in a large measuring cup with dried marjoram and parsley and poured boiling water over it. Use the ratio of water to bouillon cubes on the packages.  It can sit as long as it needs to.

Sweat the mushrooms in one saucepan until they lose some of their water and get darker, then add about 3/4 C sweet vermouth and reduce to warm.  

In the other saucepan melt a big chunk (maybe 1/2 a stick or more) of Earth Balance with a little bit of olive oil on a medium flame.  When it is runny, add at least a 1/2 C of +Bob's Red Mill  whole wheat pastry flour. It has a nice flavor and it's fine enough not to clump.  Stir stir stir.   You can add more melted butter if it's too dry.  You don't want it to burn.  It should bubble and turn into a nice thick roux.  Play with your recipe and see where you like it.  When it's ready, turn down the flame and add the broth, then the mushrooms and wine.  Stir stir stir, and bring to a boil.  Taste, season or thin appropriately.  Add more wine if it needs it.  

I microwaved the meatballs in a covered bowl, but prepare them however you like.  Smother them in gravy and use the roll to sop up any extra.  

This keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator in a storage container.  It gets very gelatinous, but loosens up with heat.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gardein Meatballs

+gardein  Meatballs on a Bed of Kale

Sweat sliced mushrooms in a saute pan until they turn dark and have lost some of their water.  Add olive oil,  chopped garlic, about a clove, diced tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft.  I had grape tomatoes growing in the yard, so I halved those and tossed them in.  When the juices from the veggies start to evaporate, add dry white wine.  When it starts to steam, add the kale and stir until the kale gets soft, then taste and season with salt and pepper.  I microwaved the meatballs in a covered dish while the kale was cooking and served them together.

You could add almonds to the kale, or use sun-dried tomatoes, add vegan parmesan, shredded cheese, tomato paste with the wine, broth or bouillon cubes, any number of herbs or spices--try something you like and see how it works.

So the meatballs:  they were delicious, on the larger side, and light..  The seasoning was nice, with an Italian-American flavor profile that you would expect, hearty, but not heavy.  I want to try them in albondigas soup.

On another note, I made my tofu salad last week with jalapenos, corn, carrot, green chiles, and olives with Vegenaise Chipotle Mayo.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

For New Vegetarians

Sometimes I forget that vegetarians started at Day One.  I've been veg for 22 years, most of that vegan, and I can't remember that place where you think you'll never eat comfort food again.  I am often shocked when omnivores tell me there's no way I could make a recipe vegan when I've been veganizing recipes for years.  I will concede that I haven't even thought of making meringue, but I never did even when I ate eggs.

You can veganize recipes by studying cooking, both as an art and a science.  Alton Brown is a really accessible source as his recipes and videos are all over the internet.  THE JOY OF COOKING is a great primer on ingredients.  Get some good equipment; quality pots, pans, spatulas, etc. will make your work easier.  The equipment doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, it just needs to work well for you.  And practice practice practice.  Most recipes don't work straight out of the gate and need to be tweaked for your taste.  Remember that everything affects your food and that if you know your kitchen, your ingredients, your geography, and basic techniques, your food will be amazing.

But going back to Day One, sometimes you just want something that tastes like mom made it for you and that's where creative shopping comes in handy.  I do a lot of shopping at +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market and +Whole Foods Market which is where I found the ingredients for this dish:  whole wheat hamburger buns, pickles slices, tomato slices, Vegenaise, Daiya Cheddar Sandwich Slices, +gardein Crispy Chik'n Filets, and McCain Potato Smiles.

I defrosted the potato smiles in the microwave while I toasted the bun.  When the bun came out of the toaster oven, I put the potatoes on a foil lined tray and set them in the toaster to broil.  Then I cooked the chik'n filet in the microwave while I dressed the hamburger bun.  Just before the potatoes were done, I added a the cheddar slice and let it melt while I finished assembling the chik'n burger.  Everything was ready at the same time and tasted amazing and familiar.  You could easily make two or three at the same time for a BBQ at home so don't get left out at the next party.

Monday, September 2, 2013

20 Years Without Cheetos

I haven't had a processed cheese product since 1993 or so.  Even though that was my choice, and even though Cheetos were never my favorite snack food, these Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs fill a void in my junk food repertoire.  Except that these ARE NOT junk food, and the puffs taste like the ingredients that compose them.

Of course I tore open the bag to taste these yummy puffs before I had even put the rest of my groceries away.  I had too, and I'm glad I did.  The puffs are light and crispy without being greasy.  The cheese powder has a balanced flavor.  After the initial crunch there comes the full bodied cheesiness, then a lovely aftertaste of grains.

And then I read the label.  Not so bad in comparison to say a 1 oz. bag of regular potato chips, which do not have anything taste wise over these delicious puffs.  Each bag has four servings of 1 1/4 C each.  If you brought it down to a 1 C serving, you could increase the servings per container to 5, decrease the fat per serving by .9 grams and the carbs by 3.8 grams which would make it just a hair over 1 low fat starch exchange, if you're using exchanges in your diet.

It's another great snack from a great company.  AND these are vegan, gluten free, non GMO, and Earth Balance is a very environmentally and nutritionally conscious company.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cupcakes---Again and Always

I love cupcakes so I'm gonna keep making them as long as you all will eat them.  And it seems to me that since I've learned a little about cake decorating that you like them even more.  So thank you +Wilton for teaching me to make my cupcakes both tasty and pretty.

Boy Cake (Bourbon and maple flavored cake with vegan bacon frosting):

Wedding Cake (Vanilla cake injected with strawberry preserves, topped with vanilla buttercream):

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds Recipe Contest

I love good food and as I try to improve the quality of my dishes, I learn more about ingredients and nutrition. For me, learning to make marinara sauce marked this shift in attitude. Saturday night, instead of socializing or pursuing entertainment, my fellow foodie and I spent the evening preparing vegan food made from scratch. And then photographing our creations to enter the recipe contest.  Just about everything we used was organic, and definitely vegan.  Also, each recipe has ingredients you can recognize by name and remember off the top of your head.

Thanks to the companies who make the food I keep in my kitchen. Using these products helps me feel better about what I cook and share with my friends and family. And thank you to Follow Your Heart for inviting me to participate.  I had fun making the pizza, and helping with the biscuits, as well as taking a day trip to the SFV to buy your shreds at the Follow Your Heart Market and Cafe. 

Please wish us luck and vote for our recipes. 

Thank you :D


Felicia--Alhambra. Heart Shaped Pizza
Marc Andrew--Bell. Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spanish (Inspired) Rice

My Abuela was born in Mexico to Italian immigrants so her food always had that Mediterranean touch of almonds, olives, capers and dried fruits.  This dish does not come from her, but her influence, and in no way is it a recipe I've ever seen before, I just like the flavors in the rice and enjoy being able to make something tasty from pantry ingredients when the refrigerator is feeling lonely.

Long Grain Rice--1 Cup
Lightlife Smart Ground Original--1 pouch
Almond slivers or slices--about a palmful
Sun-dried tomatoes--1/4 Cup
Sliced black olives--1 small can
Vegetarian bouillon cubes, or broth to make 3 cups
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil--2 Tablespoons

Toast the rice in olive oil until golden brown.  Add the other ingredients and stir to warm  Add 2 cups water and bouillon or broth and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce to a slow simmer, let cook for about half an hour.  Check the rice by tilting the pot to see if there is still water at the bottom.  If the rice at the top hasn't broken, add more broth or water and let simmer, checking every few minutes.  if the rice  has broken but you still have water in the pot, uncover and raise the flame to cook it off without stirring.  When you turn off the flame, let the rice sit covered for about 5 minutes to rest.  Rice can be tricky so use your own method if it works for you.

More ingredients you could add:

Sliced green olives
Cubed chicken style gluten
Diced dried apricot
Wine, red or white

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Zesty Pasta Salad

More fun with summer salads made with pantry goodies purchased at +Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.  With the Friends Card, Made for Me coupons and mailer coupons I usually save between $5-$10 a visit.  I know I sound like they're paying me, but they kinda are.  Have you seen my bonus points?  They cash it out for me and I get to use it to help pay for my purchases.  Plus, they help fill a large budget gap for me when I can't afford to shop exclusively at Whole Foods.

On to the ingredients:

One pound of tri-color rotini, cooked al dente (really al dente, it needs to absorb the dressing), drained.
1/2 to 1 box cherry tomatoes, halved.
1/2 to 1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained.
1-2 small cans of sliced olives, drained.
2-3 oz. sliced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, about 2-3 good forkfuls.
Bottled Italian salad dressing, to taste.
+Follow your Heart Vegenaise, about a 1/4 C.
Olive oil, about 2 tb.
Salt, red pepper and black pepper, season after chilling, before serving.

As always, make it how you like it.  Use different fresh ingredients, different preserved ingredients, make it Southwestern style or Asian style. 3/4 to 1 C is one  portion, about two starches and lots of fat.  You can cut the fat by rehydrating bagged sun-dried tomatoes, using water packed artichoke hearts, and using fat free Italian dressing.  You could also cut the carbs by halving the pasta and adding significantly more fresh veggies like bell peppers and cucumbers, or using a higher fiber content pasta.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Going to the Beach? Raid the Pantry. (Beet Salad)

The other day the girls and I went to the beach.  We like the water, the relaxation, and the picnic basket, so we packed our coolers full of snacks and water and went off for a day in the sun.  I made panzanella and beet salad because it's easy to prepare, travels well, and is full of vitamins and minerals you need when you will be out of doors exerting yourself in the heat.

A note about canned food--I make my food the way I feel comfortable eating it.  If you prefer to make my recipes in a different, fresher, or healthier way please do, and please share.  I would really love to hear about improvements and interpretations of my food. :D

In a large mixing bowl add:

1 to 2 cans of beets slices, drained and quartered
1 can of carrot slices, drained
1 can of butter beans, drained and rinsed

Mix and toss in:

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Pour in Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch Dressing and stir

Sprinkle Almond Accents over the top to mix in later at your picnic, hike, or beach location

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


My favorite frozen meatball is Nate's Meatless Meatballs Zesty Italian.  They are a very nice size, not too big to cook thoroughly and not so small that you don't get a nice bite.  I defrosted the package by letting it sit on the stove while I made my marinara sauce.  When they were soft enough, I sauteed the meatballs in olive oil.  After they crisped up, I added a splash of maple syrup to seal in the crunch, then I tossed in sliced sun dried tomatoes and topped them with Daiya provolone sandwich slices. I served the meatballs on toasted rosemary rolls with pasta marinara. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I Love Coffee

...especially with Torani. I bought a bottle SF S'Mores syrup at World Market yesterday and have since had two lattes made with it. The graham cracker flavor hits you first, then the subtle chocolate. It's not saccharine-y sweet like some flavored, just right with a little SF French Vanilla and made light with a good soy milk like Silk or Earth Balance.  I can't wait to try it in a milkshake or cheesecake. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Asian Market

There are so many interesting things for a vegetarian to try at the Asian market, like fruits ad vegetables not found in a regular grocery store, lots of different soy products, gluten products, sauces, and deli foods all made without animal ingredients.  Last week I had a craving for Banh Mi so off I went to buy my ingredients.  I make my sandwich with a thai flavor profile, but you could use any combination of produce and sauces you like.

Chicken Sauce (sweet chili sauce in a bottle with garlic and chile chunks, and maybe shredded carrots and radishes)
Vegenaise (from +Whole Foods Market )
Romaine leaves
Tomato slices
Thai basil
Dried beancurd (It's with the jerky, but check the label for ingredients, or sub with baked or fried tofu)

I had enough leftover basil to make Mint Leaf Chicken by adding the leaves and more chicken sauce to a package of +gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n, minus the orange sauce.  

Sunday, June 30, 2013

One More Mexican Dish: Menudo

People like to eat menudo as a hangover cure, or because it's a Sunday tradition, or because it's just really good. Hominy has a ton of fiber and all the dried herbs and spices are good for your immune system, not to mention the vitamins in the citrus juice and fresh cilantro. My dad told me that the broth is red from the milder spices and that you serve the soup with dried chile so the eater can choose their own heat level. I like my soup spicy so I use combinations of New Mexico, Ancho, chile de arbol, and chile California, but make sure to season your soup to your taste. 

Menudo with mushrooms:

In a separate sauce pan, make a masa roux. Fry a cup of masa harina in a generous amount of oil while stirring constantly. The roux will help keep your spices mixed well in the broth. 
In a large soup pot, sweat sliced button and baby bella mushrooms, then fry in oil. 
Add salt, pepper, dried cilantro, oregano, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, chile powder to taste, lots of paprika, and annatto and stir. 
Add a large can (read gallon) of hominy that has been rinsed well. 
Add the roux.
Add bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water, or veggie stock and bring to a boil. 
I like to serve the menudo with corn tortillas, lime halves, chopped cilantro and red pepper flakes. You could also use lemon, chopped onion and dried oregano. 

Serves everybody. 

This recipe reduces well. You could make a pot for just you and another person by reducing the amount of hominem, roux, and spices. 

If you want to make this IC Friendly, make a broth by warming the spices you can tolerate (sweet smoked paprika works well) in a pot of water, then blending (use a boat motor if you have one) in peeled roasted red peppers. Use limonolio with the canola oil, add kafir lime leaf to the broth, or serve your bowl with lime zest to add the bright citrus flavor one usually gets with menudo. Also, flat leaf parsley can be substituted (sparingly) for cilantro. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Because I still make Mexican food even though I eat vegan

Two recipes featuring +GOVeggieFoods vegan parmesan:


It's summer so when I hear that bell ringing or horn honking I go running to the door looking for the elote man.  The really good vendors will have steamed corn, chicharones de harina (like pork skin, but made out of flour, ask what's in them, aceite o manteca), raspados (sno-cones), and any number of goodies.  The elote man is probably not gonna carry vegan versions of his toppings, so I will buy a few ears of corn and prepare them at home for later eating.

Cover steamed or grilled ears of corn with lemon or lime juice, then Vegenaise, followed by +GOVeggieFoods parmesan, then salt and chile powder or Tapatio or Valentina.  You will need a soft drink and lots of napkins.

Sunday Breakfast

Sometimes after a long Saturday night you need a big bowl of menudo to detoxify yourself.  And there are other times when you want something comforting and maybe you haven't been grocery shopping yet.  This is when you need a big plate of chilaquiles.  Everybody has their own recipe and ingredients may vary depending on what you keep in your fridge, but here's one of my favorites.

For a panful of chilaquiles serving 2-4, depending on your appetites, takes about 6 corn tortillas, preferably stale or left to dry out for an hour.  Slice or tear into pieces then fry in oil until golden and crispy.  Season with salt and toss in 1-2 chopped chiles de arbol.  Add chopped garlic, if you like it, and stir until the chiles and garlic are ust warmed.  They burn quickly so watch your heat and stir often.  Add black pepper and +GOVeggieFoods vegan parmesan, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a jar, and stir until softened.  You can add a few tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to get it going.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Panzanella--A Fresh Summery Salad

You may have noticed that  I like salads, especially those you can take to a pot-luck or a picnic.  Panzanella is great because you can use leftover bread and extra veggies from your garden to stretch your budget or you could go out and buy the ingredients because it's a very refreshing lunch on a hot day. I have used leftover sourdough or rosemary bread; I don't usually have a lot of bread around the house so sometimes I buy something good just to make the salad.  When I'm sharing with others, I like to buy a bag of garlic croutons and let the salad sit overnight to soak up all the juices from the veggies.

You can add anything you think will work together.  I've used sweet peppers, tomatoes, vegan cheese cubes, basil, or whatever is lying around in the fridge.  My usual recipe includes tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, salt and pepper, vinegar and white wine.  For a party sized bowl of panzanella, peel and cube 4 large cucumbers.  Cube 4 roma tomatoes.  Dress the chopped veggies, then add a cup of hand shredded or cubed bread that has dried out and mix with the vegetables.  Using the bread dry allows the vegetables to release some of their water and soften the bread overnight.  If you are serving the salad right away, soak and squeeze the bread so that it's soft as you serve it.   

If you haven't seen the rest of my blog, I have recipes for garbanzo bean salad and tofu salad here too.  Sometime this summer I will make potato salad and post with pictures.

**Note:  To make this IC Friendly, omit tomatoes, wine, and vinegar.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My First Vegan Cuts Box

I love it already.  Most of the samples in the box were new to me.  The first thing I did was eat the  Michy's Cran Rustica cookie, which I will be tracking down at +Whole Foods Market soon.  I love the  small single serving size because with a cookie that good, a whole box could get dangerous.  The next day I ate the Beanfields' nacho chips, which tasted like a super healthy and tasty version of the commercial seasoned corn chips, also going on my WF shopping list.  The Journey bar had an aromatic punch of sesame and just a hint of ginger.  It was a good size for an energy bar and the texture was much softer than some other bars I've tried.  There was also a full sized jar of +GOVeggieFoods vegan parmesan, which is such a great product.  I already had a half used jar in my refrigerator.  But it did give me a reason to make marinara this weekend and I'm saving the rest of it for a forthcoming pizza party.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Oatmeal Flax Pancakes

I added 2 Tb of +Bob's Red Mill ground flax meal and 1/3 C rolled oats to my basic pancake batter.  I enjoy the added fiber, omega-3s and it helps the pancakes hold together. These are best served with Earth Balance, maple syrup, and a +Silk latte flavored with your choice of Torani syrup.  And yes, that's  Tofurky in the background.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chocolate Stout Fudge Frosted Cake

I put beer in my cake batter.  Then I put some in the buttercream.  It's good beer and it made good cake. And I used my new +Wilton  1M frosting tip to get a more traditional cupcake look, and to cover the cake in stars.

For the chocolate cake, I substituted the eggs (2 eggs=1/2 to 3/4 C liquid) with very good English stout and baked according to the directions on the box.  I made buttercream with 3 sticks of Earth Balance buttery sticks, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and a bag of chocolate chips (melted with a Tb of the butter and 1/4 C of the stout).  I added more stout for texture while mixing.

The buttercream has a very subtle fermented aftertaste, like when you hit foam at the bottom of a pint.  The cake on its own has a similar taste, but more from the top of the pint, when it's still cold.  Together they work well--chocolatey cake with sweet creamy frosting and a hint of the pub.

You should definitely try this at home.

Thank you +Wilton fo your iPad app.  The tutorial was very helpful.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vegan Tacos--Diabetic Friendly

I found these amazing tortillas at +Whole Foods Market  Arroyo.  I went to La Gloria's website and these are not listed in their products category, but call your local market to see if they carry them.  The tortillas take great, have 10 grams total carbs per tortilla and 5 grams of fiber, and they don't make my stomach upset.  The +gardein Chipotle Lime Crispy Fingers are a nice size and have about 170 kcal for two pieces.  If you want to cut more carbs and fat you could use a different meat substitute, but I have found these to hit my metabolism very lightly.  I used Valentina hot sauce and a splash of Follow Your Heart Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing, but you could use whichever toppings you like. So, 370 kcal plus your toppings is not bad for traditionally unhealthy meal.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Gnocchi and How to Make Marinara Sauce

I don't know what possessed me to buy shelf stable gnocchi from Target, but that's what I had in the pantry so that's what I ate for lunches that week.  I boiled the gnocchi according to the directions on the package, then added it to the marinara with diced Follow Your Heart Mozzarella.


1 can of steam peeled tomatoes
1+ clove fresh garlic
fresh basil
dry white wine 
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
olive oil

Add oil to your sauce pot and heat on medium and warm the chopped garlic.  Salt the oil a little to reduce splattering and hand-crush the tomatoes one by one into the pot including the juice.  When it starts to boil, add wine and stir.  Stir in red and black pepper to taste, then shred about two full sprigs of basil by hand and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced by 1/3-1/2.  The sauce is done when it has a fully cooked taste-no tinny tomato flavor, and it might have a bit of orange tinged oil on the top.  Salt at the end of cooking to avoid over-seasoning.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trader Joe's Dinner

I like the taste of food made from scratch, but sometimes I don't feel like dragging out all the pots and pans, and chopping everything.  So for these lazy days I buy par-cooked food from a store like Trader Joe's.  I got a bag of penne with sauce, a baguette, vegan cheese shreds, fresh tomato, fresh basil, good olive oil, mushrooms, and I appropriated my stash of LightLife Gimme Lean Sausage.

For the pasta, sweat then fry the mushrooms, crumble the sausage into the pan and brown.  Then add the bag of penne with sauce and cook through.  If you add vegan cheese, warm on low until melted.  For the bruschetta, pan fry thick slices of roma tomatoes in a good amount of olive oil.  After you flip the slices, seeason them with salt and pepper and add leaves of fresh basil and cover in vegan cheese shreds.  Leave the pan on a low flame until you finish toasting the bread slices and the cheese is very melted.  Let it cool before you eat them because vegan cheese burns as bad as regular.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 5: "Buttermilk" Biscuits

Biscuits are rad.  I will be making more soon.

I got my recipe from the LA Times Saturday section last month. I substituted +Bob's Red Mill   Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the Lily White that was recommended by the article because I wanted more nutrition while keeping a light texture.  I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks because they're awesome.  For buttermilk, I used a recipe in THE JOY OF VEGAN BAKING by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Thanks for the awesome XMas gift Richard):  add 1 TB of vinegar to each C of milk, in this case plain unsweetened almond.

The recipe yielded 4 cookie sheets of large biscuits.  Next time I will halve the recipe because it was too much; biscuits don't keep well.  Also, my oven burned the two sheets on the bottom rack completely black on the underside so they went to waste.

Although they tasted great, I mad a few mistakes I'd like not to repeat with the next batch.  I overworked the dough, my kitchen was hot so my ingredients were warm, and I rolled the dough too thin.  The biscuits were flatter than the Colonel's, but were still flaky and steamy inside.  

I ate the leftovers for the next few days, and a biscuit stored without air in a sandwich bag microwaves well up to four days afterward. My sausage gravy was perfect, but I recommend serving the biscuits either plain or with Earth Balance spread and preserves.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 4: Fish Fried Tofu and Fried Pickles

Batter is difficult to make vegan so I used a non-vegan fish recipe that uses no eggs or milk. Here's the original recipe from the +Cooking Channel website.  

I cut two boxes of extra firm tofu into planks about 1/3 of an inch thick and let them sit in the refrigerator all day to drain, then dried them on paper towels before battering them.  First I lightly coated the tofu in cornstarch, then dredged each piece in the batter being careful to let the excess drip off before coating each plank in cornmeal.  I let them fry until golden brown on both sides, a few minutes for each batch, and drained them on a cookie sheet covered with newspaper and paper towels.  I used Bubbies Bread & Butter pickle chips battered the same way, but without cornmeal and they only took about a minute to cook.

Some observations:

Next time I'll just add a small amount of cornmeal to the batter rather than using it as a coating because it was very thick, a little rough, and it flaked off some parts, but still good with hot sauce.  Also, the tofu coated with just cornstarch and beer batter held on very well, and since I used Samuel Smith's Organic Lager, it tasted amazing.  Make sure you season the tofu before you coat it unless you like the taste of plain tofu.  Since I had so much leftover, I used packed individual meals for work and used the tofu to make soft tacos at home.  It microwaved well so fry extra if you like it.

Another idea for next time, I plan to fry the whole jar of pickles; they were very tasty.  And I'd like to try Claussen Bread & Butter Sandwich slices too.  

**You can see a few pickles on the bottom left of the photo in the first post in this series.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 3: Sausage Gravy, Greens

These two don't really go together, but I wanted to highlight the Lightlife  brand of sausage and bacon.


Cook crumbled Gimme Lean sausage and set aside.
Melt 1/4 stick Earth Balance shortening.
Add 1/4 C your favorite flour to make a roux.  Stir to keep it from burning.
Add 1 1/2 to 2 C broth mixture and bring to a boil(I used 3 +knorr Unilever vegetarian bouillon cubes, white and black pepper, and dried sage)
Add plain unsweetened almond milk to make it thick like gravy.
Put the cooked sausage crumbles back in and season with salt to taste.


Cook chopped Smart Bacon in oil or Earth Balance shortening until crisp.
Add a bag of cut and washed greens (mustard, turnip, kale, etc.)and stir to warm  They taste great with just a little heat.
Add salt, pepper, and Bragg's to taste.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Southern Menu Part 2: Mac & Cheese

This cooks on the stovetop but you can put it in a baking dish, top with bread crumbs and broil for a bit of crunch.

1 pot of cooked pasta (elbows, shells, small penne, etc.)
Plain unsweetened almond milk
Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
Salt & pepper

Drain the cooked pasta leaving a little of the cooking water in the pot.
Add 1/4-1/2 of a buttery stick cubed and melt.
Add about a cup of almond milk and bring to a simmer.
Add cheese shreds.
Add more milk if needed to melt cheese smoothly
Add salt and pepper.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southern Menu (vegan)

I don't know much about Southern food except that it looks delicious and is not veg friendly.  I also know it's partially based on farm fresh vegetables so I gave it a shot. Planning the menu was just a shot in the dark, so I'd appreciate any comments on which dish goes with which and suggestions for other sides.  Recipes and more pics to come later this week.


Fish Fried Tofu
Mac and Cheese
Greens with Bacon
Sausage Gravy
Fried Pickles

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jelly Filled Cupcakes (Vegan)

Vanilla cake from mix, Bonne Maman Four Berry preserves, lemon buttercream flavored with lemon oil.

I love this mini bundt pan from +Wilton , It's my current favorite.