Saturday, December 22, 2012

Soy-Free Vegan Lasagna

Happy Holidays y'all!

As my subscribers know, I have moved back in with my parents which, at 24, adds a lot of stress to my life.  Not to mention a recent event that was beyond frustrating as the only vegan in a house full of carnivores.  Unless I go shopping with my parents, my vegan needs tend to be forgotten.  (They buy bread with milk/eggs in it, lots of meat and cheese, etc--which I should point out is not their fault, and I'm not blaming them, they just aren't used to living with a vegan.) 

The other night I had to scrounge around for some ingredients to throw together to make myself some dinner before I went out.  There was half a box of pasta, a can of diced tomatoes, some olives, capers, and a leek.  I cooked it up mixed it all together, had 3 bites, and put it in the fridge before I had to run out the door.  I came home later that night, starving at this point and very much looking forward to the pasta I'd made... It was gone.  Out of all the carnivore foods they picked the ONE LAST VEGAN THING IN THE WHOLE HOUSE!!!  I was livid.  I had a chat with the family about how frustrated I was because I'm limited in a carnivore kitchen/house and that when I made something for myself that I could eat, they ate it out of all their other choices.  We decided to designate a shelf in the pantry and potentially a shelf in the fridge for my stuff to go so everyone knew... I am also labeling all my food now as if I was back in college, but at least maybe they will ask before they eat something of mine.

ANYWAY... I went shopping for a whole bunch of stuff that I could make for the whole family that everyone could eat and enjoy and today I'm making Lasagna!!!  It's soy-free, loaded with veggies, and hides protein in an unexpected place.  Also aside from the noodles, tomato sauce (because I was feelin lazy today), and the Daiya cheese on top, it is made from whole foods, which to me, always makes me feel better about stuffing my face! :-) 

"Ric-notta" Cheese (hehe get it? I crack myself up)
2-15 oz cans Cannelini beans, drained
5-6 fresh basil leaves (mine were HUGE, so if your basil leaves are small, you may need some more)
3 TBS water
2 TBS olive oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine everything in the food processor.  Process until smooth and creamy (Kind of like hummus).

Lasagna
1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds with a mandolin, set aside
2 small onions, 1 chopped and 1 sliced, keep separated
2- 16 oz bags frozen, cut spinach,  cooked and drained well, set aside
2-  oz containers of sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 bell pepper, diced (pick your color, I chose orange today)
Olive Oil
2 - oz jars your favorite tomato based spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
1 lb lasagna noodles (be sure to check that there's no egg in the pasta if you're making it vegan)
1 bag Daiya Mozzarella shreds
1 recipe of the "Ricnotta" Cheese (recipe above)
Salt
Pepper
Dried Oregano
Garlic Powder (optional)

In a large pan over med-hi heat, heat some olive oil.  Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper.  Cook until softened.  Remove from heat, drain off any liquid and set aside.

In the same pan over med-hi heat, heat another tablespoon of olive oil.  Add in the chopped onion and bell pepper, salt, pepper, and a few shakes of oregano.  Cook until the onions are translucent and the peppers softened.  Remove from heat, set aside

In a large pot, boil water for the lasagna noodles.  Be sure to cook them according to the package.  Drain and set aside.

In 13x9 in baking dish, spray the bottom with a little olive oil cooking spray.  Add about 1/4 of a cup of tomato sauce.  Lay down a layer of noodles.  Top with some "ricnotta" cheese, and spread evenly over the noodles.  On top of that layer some spinach, mushrooms, bell pepper/onion mix, sliced raw onions, and spread out a layer of the zucchini slices.*  Evenly spread some more tomato sauce on top of the veggies and continue to layer the lasagna.  Sauce, Noodles, "Ricnotta", veggies, sauce, noodles, etc. 

For the final layer: After the noodles, spread remaining tomato sauce to cover the noodles.  Top with Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, salt, pepper, and garlic powder if using. Cover with aluminium foil that's been sprayed with cooking spray so it doesn't stick to the cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes covered.  Remove the foil and cook for an additional 25 minutes uncovered.  Serve! 

*With each veggie layer I sprinkled a little salt and pepper over the zucchini as they were uncooked before going into the lasagna and I wanted to make sure they didn't suck up too much of the salt/pepper used in the other veggies.



serving to a bunch of carnivores tonight... gotta save one piece for mom :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Countdown to Thanksgiving--Part 3 (Sweet Potato Casserole)

I have to say, I definitely have my favorite and least favorite dishes on the Thanksgiving table.  Some things I've loved from the beginning, some I still won't touch to this day, but this recipe is one that turned my tastebuds around!  

I never really liked sweet potatoes (go figure... this coming from the girl who loves every possible creation made from the starchy root vegetable that is the potato.  There was just something about sweet potatoes... probably the sweetness... or maybe no one made them right for me... Potatoes and Marshmallows...? REALLY?! EWW!  Finally one year my mom made this recipe... It was the first time I enjoyed DEVOURED sweet potatoes and it's the way I make them for special dinners.  (this recipe also changed my mind on baked sweet potatoes, suddenly after this recipe, I loved sweet potatoes!

I don't know where she got this recipe... but I have had to adapt it a little to make it vegan!  ENJOY!!

3 cups sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread
1/2 cup non-dairy milk

equivalent of 3 eggs (I used Ener-G, ground Chia seeds would also work)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
*Topping*
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread


Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 13x9 inch pan, set aside.

Combine first 10 ingredients and spread into baking dish.

 Mix topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over casserole.

Bake for 30 mins and serve warm.  

NOM NOM NOM!! So rich and sweet and delicious!!!  You and your family will be begging for this to be made throughout the year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Countdown To Thanksgiving--Part 2 (Green Bean Casserole)

Green Bean Casserole is not exactly vegan in anyway shape or form...  But by making your own mushroom gravy and using some, fried onions from either Whole Foods or Trader Joes (WF I know for sure is vegan, rumor is Trader Joe's is too...), you can enjoy a favorite Thanksgiving casserole without the animal products!!  Side Note:  The first time I ever had green bean casserole was when I made this recipe last year so I have nothing to compare it to but it was DELICIOUS!!!!!

I found this recipe a few Thanksgivings ago and it was a "deconstructed" version and had to ask how to make it more "traditional".  It turned out great and I highly recommend making this version.  It takes a little extra time compared to the non-vegan version, but it's totally worth it.


For the Mushroom Gravy

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 TBSP Earth Balance, vegan margarine
4 TBSP flour
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
Saute mushrooms and celery in olive oil until tender.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
Remove vegetables from the skillet. In the same pan melt vegan margarine.  Add flour and mix thoroughly over low heat.  You will get a golden roux.

Slowly add milk, while constantly whisking to avoid clumps.  Turn the heat up and continue stirring until gravy thickens up.

Once the sauce is thick, add mushrooms, celery, and thyme.

For the Casserole:
1lb green bean
salt/pepper
Mushroom Gravy (recipe above)
Fried Onions (CHECK THE LABELS!!) or make homemade fried leeks! (Recipe to come!)

Rinse green beans and remove ends with a sharp knife or scissors.
Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and blanch beans (they should keep their bright green color and stay a little bit crispy).  To stop the cooking process, place beans in an ice bath (big pot filled with cold water and ice).
Drain beans and set aside.
In a 13x9 inch baking dish, combine the green beans and the mushroom gravy making sure to mix thoroughly.  Top with Fried Onions and bake in a 350 F for about 15 minutes.

**You can make this ahead of time, holding off on the onions, and refrigerate.  When you're ready, top with the fried onions, throw it in the oven and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until completely heated through.

(pre fried onions)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Countdown To Thanksgiving-- A Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Series (Mashed Potatoes and Gravy)

Today is World Vegan Day! YAYYY! This also marks the beginning of World Vegan MONTH!  And to top it all off...  you have 20 days until Thanksgiving!  Are you beginning your meal plans yet? 

I challenged all of my friends on Facebook and my Twitter followers to try one vegan recipe at some point this month.  One of my friends posted this:  "This will be my husband's first thanksgiving as a vegan.... do you know any AMAZING recipes for the big day?"  I do! And I was going through all of my blog posts and realized that I hadn't posted some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes!? So this post (and the next few..) are dedicated to you Jenny!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it has to do with food.  Food is one of my greatest passions (clearly or I wouldn't do this blog!) so to have a day dedicated to it... UH HELLO?! YES PLEASE!  And a vegan one is not that hard to do successfully.  I suggest making food that you and your family are used to... Just swap out the non-vegan products for vegan ones!

For this post, we shall start off with something easy..

Mashed potatoes with Vegan Gravy.  (6-8 servings)

4 to 6 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup unsweetened rice milk

1/4 cup Earth Balance Roasted Garlic & Herb spread
**extra garlic powder/chives/herbs to taste**

Put the cut potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain well. 

Meanwhile, in a small pot heat the milk and Earth Balance. While the potatoes are still warm, mash them (or beat them with electric mixer for smoother consistency) into a bowl. Stir in the warm milk/Earth Balance a bit at a time, until the potatoes are fluffy. Season with salt and pepper and gently fold in the chives, salt and pepper, garlic to taste. Serve immediately with gravy. 


Now, there are a multitude of ways to go with vegan gravy... Do you want brown "meaty" gravy, "chicken" gravy or mushroom gravy?  **There will be a recipe for mushroom gravy coming when I do green bean casserole!**

Gravy is probably one of the EASIEST things to make... EVER!

4 TBSP  Earth Balance- vegan margarine
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 TBSP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Melt Earth Balance in pan over medium heat.
 
Add flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, you want the mixture to turn light brown but not burnt.
 
Add broth, salt and pepper and continue to stir for 3 minutes, sauce should be getting thicker.
 
Move to a gravy bowl and serve.

**you can add more flour/broth to make the consistency to your liking.




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Bisque

So I spent 2 years in Florida and never experienced a hurricane's devastation.  Less than 30 days after I move to DC, "Frankenstorm" hits.  For the record, I was watching the weather reports and radars and what not and to be honest, I was not worried at all.  I told my parents we'd get rain and some wind but it wouldn't be terrible.  Well, looking out into our backyard is the best picture of the true devastation we experienced here.  The ground is completely covered with hundreds thousands of fallen... LEAVES! LEAVES THAT'S IT!!!  (For the record I know that other places were hit hard--my thoughts and prayers go to everyone up north-- but I knew the DC area was going into a panic for no reason.)

Anyway, Sandy brought us cold, wet weather which continues to be perfect weather for another soup recipe!  This one stems from an idea I read once in a book and the fact that my parents stocked up on tons of food (fresh veggies for the vegan in the house, me).  This recipe is kind of a pantry recipe... or I guess "crisper/pantry" recipe, use the veggies you've got (with some exceptions).  I used zucchini, potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, tomatoes but still have mushrooms, cabbage, fennel, asparagus, and brussel sprouts that I wasn't sure would complement the soup plus I'm saving some of them for other recipes like potpie and noodles and cabbage.  But this bisque turned out deliciously and would be great paired up with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich, just like you would with tomato soup only a little more "sophisticated"! :-)

2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium potatoes, coarsely chopped
1-2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 med-large tomato, quartered
2 cloves garlic, smashed
olive oil
oregano
thyme
tarragon
salt and pepper
3 (14oz) cans of vegetable broth
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a roasting pan, combine zucchini, onion, potatoes, carrots, tomato, and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil to coat the veggies.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and tarragon.  Cover pan with foil.

Roast in the oven, covered for 30 minutes, until the veggies soften.  Then, uncover and roast for 30 more minutes to allow for some browning to occur.

Add celery, roasted vegetables*, and broth to a pot and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes, or until celery softens.  Then, with a blender or immersion blender, blend until completely smooth and serve!



*make sure to add a little water to the hot roasting pan to be able to scrape up all of the browned bits leftover! This will add great flavor to your bisque.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vegan Winter Veggie Chowder

A long time ago, when I was in middle school I think, I decided to be vegetarian for the summer.   I remember being at the doctors office one day for my sister and sitting in the waiting room forEVER.  Luckily there was a ton of magazines.  One, and now I can't remember which one, had a great vegetarian recipe for a Winter Vegetable Chowder.  As I read over the recipe I knew I had to try it! So I typed out the whole recipe on my mom's little... I don't know what to call it... "personal-organizer-mini-laptop-looking-thing"?? yeah, that works I guess. 

Anyway, took the recipe home, we got all of the ingredients and I made it... it was a lot of work but it was DELICIOUS!  I found the recipe a few years ago and have recently made the chowder again only this time, I veganized it... which wasn't hard.  I also want to add that I don't really chop/cut anything to an exact size, I just make it small enough that the pieces can fit in my mouth! (The first time I made it we tried to be exact with the sizes recommended in the magazines recipe... but it took FOREVER to make everything so little.  Save yourself some struggle and don't worry about the size.  Also add more potatoes or squash if you want!  It "beefs" up the soup a bit.. Hahaha "beefs" on a vegan food blog! (haha I crack myself up!)

6 med leeks
2 TBS olive oil
4 med stalks celery, chopped
3 med parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 med red potatoes, chopped
1 (2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and chopped
32 oz vegetable broth
2 cups water
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
1 cup mimicreme or unsweetened non dairy creamer (try So Delicious original)


Cut off roots and trim dark-green tops from leeks. Discard any tough outer leaves. Cut each leek lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Rinse leeks in large bowl of cold water; swish to remove sand. With hands, transfer leeks to colander, leaving sand in bottom of bowl. Repeat rinsing and draining, several times, until all sand is removed. Drain well.

In 6-quart saucepot, heat oil on medium-high until hot. Add leeks, celery, and parsnips, and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add potatoes, squash, broth, water, thyme, salt, and pepper; heat to boiling on medium-high. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in the non-dairy cream and heat through, about 13 minutes. Spoon half of soup into bowl and garnish with thyme sprig; then spoon remaining into freezer-safe containers and keep for a cold day!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Dijon-dressed Asparagus

I had a few requests for this recipe following the picture posted on my last entry "Grown-Up Mac N Cheese".

This is a simple side dish that can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes. Asparagus is a great spring veggie, and it is seen a lot at Easter time (or at least in my family it is).  My dad makes the best asparagus EVER!  I was brought up on his asparagus and only wanted my asparagus done like daddy made.  I (nor my family) will eever forget this story, so I feel compelled to share it with all of you before I give you a new asparagus recipe.

One night my family went out to dinner at a pretty fancy restaurant.  Already a major foodie, I ordered for myself, a steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus (thinking it would be like daddy's).  Well out comes my order and I noticed the asparagus didn't look anything like daddy's!  They didn't cut it, and well, it didn't taste like daddy's white wine, with butter and caper dressed asparagus.  It was just plain old steamed asparagus.  BLECH!  When our waiter came to ask us how we were enjoying our meal, I was not afraid to speak up... "I don't like the asparagus... It's lonely!"  (Gosh I was so friggin cute!) My parents chuckled and explained that it just wasn't what I was used to...

Well now, I like asparagus... just plain old steamed asparagus, but this recipe is not that, though it does start off with you steaming your asparagus!

For this recipe, you'll need:

1-lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS minced shallots
1 TBS white vinegar
1 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
3 TBS olive oil

In a bowl combine the mustard, shallots, vinegar, and liquid aminos(or soy sauce).  Whisk in the oil, until fully emulsified, and set aside. 

Steam the asparagus until tender, about 5 min.  If serving hot, transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and serve at once.

If serving chilled, run the asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain on paper towels then cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Again, transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.



I enjoyed mine served hot but it would be great cold at a buffet lunch or brunch!  Also, the vinaigrette also makes for a great salad dressing!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan "Grown Up Mac N Cheese"

First off let me say that this recipe is a hit for vegans and carnivores alike! It makes a 13x9 pan of Mac N Cheese, and when I made it the other night for my mom, dad, and myself... welllll lets just say that there was only like 1/6 of the pan leftover!!!  You will want to go back for seconds and thirds and you will be completely stuffed!

I call this one grown up mac n cheese because I think of it this way...  Growing up as kids we would eat the incredibly processed, blue box mac n cheese. Where the cheese color was reminiscent of the school buses most kids (not including myself) had to ride to school.  Sometimes, when there was company you may have been treated to a more "grown up version" that was made with real cheese and baked in the oven, topped with bread crumbs.  As we got older we were introduced to fancy kinds of mac n cheese that were white in color and came along with fancy names, "Fettuccine Alfredo" and "Pasta alla Carbonara".  Both are authentic Italian dishes with the main focus being pasta and some kind of cheese. 

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook my grandmother got me for my birthday.

1 TBS olive oil
4 med shallots, minced
12 oz white mushrooms, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-lb pasta (I like to use rotini)
3 cups creamy cashew sauce, recipe follows
Optional: 1/2 finely chopped roasted unsalted cashews, 1/4 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium.  Add in the shallots and cook until soft.  Next add the mushrooms and cook until softened.  Add the sherry and peas cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain well, return to the pot, and in the mushroom and pea mixture along with the cashew sauce (recipe follows). Mix gently to combine then transfer to the baking dish.  If using, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cashews.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  (if using the bread crumbs/cashews, uncover after 30 min and bake about 10 min more or until lightly browned on top.)  Serve and Enjoy!

Creamy Cashew Sauce
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
2 TBS nutritional yeast
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is used in the recipe book but I love the taste of almond milk in this one)
salt
a few shakes of garlic powder

In a blender, process the cashews to a fine powder.  Add the nutritional yeast and 1 1/2 cups of non dairy milk and blend until smooth. Season with salt and garlic powder.

Transfer the sauce to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Stir until the sauce is hot.  Add more of the non dairy milk to thin the sauce out (it will thicken more in the oven). 

*If not using right away, cool the sauce to room temperature, transfer to an air tight container, and refrigerate until needed.  This sauce will keep for 2-3 days.  Just reheat in a sauce pan over low heat until hot.



This one is definitely a crowd please! Take it for potlucks, family dinners, etc!  And don't be ashamed when you want to lick the pan clean!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vegan Potato Soup

As previously stated the next few blog posts will be soup recipes!  The temperature is dropping here which means that it's getting to be that time that everyone gets sick.  Well, that is case for my parents house at the moment.  My daddy is not feeling 100% so I offered to make him his favorite soup, Potato Soup.

Typically made with butter, cream, and sometimes bacon/ham... This recipe is completely vegan and yet totally carnivore friendly.  You're carnivore friends/family won't notice that there are no animal products in this soup!!  Also, this is a quick soup that doesn't need hours to simmer or develop flavors!! My parents couldn't believe how quick after I started cooking that we were ready to eat.

I'm also including in this post the recipe for easy homemade croutons that I love to put on my soups and, when made smaller, my salads too! (you're welcome)

1-2 TBS olive oil
2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
5-6 potatoes, chopped
5 cups vegetable broth or vegan chick'n broth
hickory liquid smoke, to taste
1/2 cup non-dairy, unsweetened milk
Salt
Pepper

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the leeks, carrots, and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the leeks become soft.

Stir in the potatoes and the veggie broth, increasing heat to medium-hi.  Bring to a boil and boil until the potatoes are fork tender.

With an immersion blender, blend some of the veggies to create a thicker consistency. Leave some chunks of potatoes and other veggies whole for some extra texture.  When the soup's consistency is to your liking, add remaining ingredients to taste.  Serve warm topped with croutons.

For Croutons:
1 loaf French Bread, cubed
olive oil
granulated garlic

Coat the French bread cubes in olive oil on every side.  Heat a pan over medium heat adding the oiled chunks of bread and cook until browned and crusty on each side.  Remove the croutons when all of sides are toasted.  Sprinkle with granulated garlic.  Serve as a topping for soups or salads.

Enjoy this incredibly comforting and soul warming soup!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Big Move

Welp,  I did it.  After 2 years, I've moved back home to my parents house in the DC area.  Most people think I'm crazy for leaving sunny, warm Florida for DC just as the temperatures are starting to drop.  But me, I'm excited.  One of my favorite foods "groups" is... SOUP!  Florida only has soup weather for like a month or two before its back to being unbearably hot. For me, there is something so warm and cozy, and just comforting about cuddling up with a warm bowl of soup...  Not to mention the amazing smells that waft throughout the house as your soup is being made.  For me, I make a HUGE (stock)pot of soup so that I can enjoy it for many days to follow!

I'm excited to bring you all some new soup recipes that will hopefully warm your home, tummy, and soul.  Here's what to look for soon:


AND MORE!!! :-) 

**Sorry there haven't been any posts... I've been moving so there was no food and I was living off of ramen, spaghetti, and salad!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Avocado Corn Gazpacho

Well, I just returned from a much needed vacation.  Unfortunately, the first two days at the beach provided more rain and clouds than sun and sand.  Although some good things came out of those two days of rain.  I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and was completely inspired by a gazpacho I saw.  I went to Food Network's website to see if I could find the recipe, but, the recipe provided had a lot of ingredients missing.  Luckily I took notes while I was watching the show and tried to duplicate what I saw.  The result, probably one of the most unique gazpachos I've ever had.  I'm used to the tomato based gazpachos, which I love because some of them taste like salsa, and salsa is one of my favorite foods ever, but this gazpacho gave me something new and now I can't get enough!

This would be a fun food for a party because you can put it in shot glasses, or bring it on ice to a BBQ or summer party.  Plus it's a great summer soup because there's no heat being used to make it! (Perfect for Florida summers!) This recipe probably makes about 8-10 servings.

1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, diced
4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 ears of corn, blanched and kernels cut off the cob
4 ripe avocados
4 cups ice water, divided
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
salt and pepper

Put the zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper in bowl of food processor and pulse briefly. The pieces should be small so that there is some texture and chew to the soup. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl.

Also to the bowl, add diced onion, tomatoes, serrano pepper, corn, and cilantro.  Halve, pit and dice 1 1/2 of the avocado.  Add to the bowl. 

In a high speed blender, add remaining avocado and 2 cups of ice water.  Blend on high until thick and creamy puree.  Add the puree and lime juice to the bowl, stirring to combine.  Add remaining 2 cups of water to create a better consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for a few hours.  Garnish with a few cilantro leaves on top and some tortilla chips!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vegan Macaroni Salad

Shout outs to some of my favorite products: @tofuttibrand and @earth_balance !!

What's better than cold elbow macaroni drenched in a sweet, tangy, mayonnaise dressing...?!  EASY, A vegan version!

1 lb dry elbow macaroni, cooked, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red onion, minced (Soak in cool water for 5 minutes and drain for a less harsh onion taste)

1 1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan mayo, I like the olive oil one
1 TBSP yellow mustard, add more to taste
1 TBSP vegan sugar
3 TBSP cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl combine the macaroni, celery, and onion.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, and sour cream. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Store covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. 

Could it be any easier!?  Serve it up with you favorite @gardein BBQ/grillin picks, vegan summer has never tasted so good!


Friday, May 18, 2012

No Crab Rangoon

I had never had crab Rangoon until I moved to Kentucky for college.  It was a staple at every Chinese restaurant in our small college town.  Upon trying it, it became a staple on my plate!  Something about a fried wonton filled with cream cheese, green onion and crab meat was just the ultimate palate pleaser!

Now what's a vegan girl to do when she wants to have Chinese food?  None of the local Chinese take out places (P.F. Chang's not included) do not offer vegan options... let alone a vegan crab rangoon.... so off I went to find a way to make it myself.  I've seen some vegan restaurants that use carrots in place of crab and I've seen oyster mushrooms in place of many kinds of seafood.  I decided carrots wouldn't be as substantial as the mushrooms.  As for the wonton wrappers... MOST Asian wonton wrappers contain egg.  Check that labels!  Some "Gyoza" wrappers don't contain egg, you can use those if you want to save some effort.  If not, I've included a wonton wrapper recipe below.  Enjoy!

VEGAN WONTON WRAPPERS
(makes about 18-20 wrappers)

1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot water

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and hot water.  Process into a smooth dough.  When a dough ball has formed, dust it with flour and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside for at least an hour.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for about 2 minutes.  Roll into a log, about 1-inch in diameter.  Cut the log crosswise into 1-inch pieces.  Flatten the pieces of dough on a lightly floured work surface.  Using a rolling pin to roll each piece into a very thin, round wrapper, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  Repeat with remaining dough.  If not using right away, stack each wrapper between pieces of plastic wrap, then wrap them together.  Properly stored the wrappers will keep in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about 3 months.


NO CRAB RANGOON

1 TBSP canola oil, plus more for frying
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup minced green onions, divided
8 oz oyster mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
Splash of Tabasco sauce
4 oz vegan cream cheese
16-20 vegan wonton wrappers (homemade, see above, or store bought)
2 nori sheets, cut into 1-2 inch squares

In a small skillet, heat 1 TBSP of oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and half of the green onions and cook until softened, about 45 seconds.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.  Add the soy sauce and Tabasco, and remove from heat and transfer into a medium bowl.  Stir in cream cheese and remaining green onions until well blended.  Set aside to cool.

Arrange the wonton wrappers on your work surface.  Place a piece of the nori on top of each wonton wrapper and top with a small teaspoonful of the filling mixture.  Fold the wontons over to make a semicircle and seal the edges with a bit of water.  Repeat until all of the filling mixture is used up.

In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat.  Add the wontons in batches and cook turning gently until crisp and golden brown.  Keep the cooked wontons warm while you fry the rest.  Serve warm. (with sweet and sour sauce or duck sauce like the Asian restaurants do!)

Miso Soup

Miso soup is one of my favorie soups.  There's just something about the salty-ness of the broth and the freshness of the scallions that makes my heart pitter-patter.  I've always had problems trying to figure out how to make it taste like the soup you get at my favorite sushi place.  Part of the problem is that most restaurant miso soups contain bonito... (fish) But, I think I have finally mastered the taste while making it vegan. It's SOUP-er (haha) easy to make and only takes a few minutes.  It's one of my favorite, go to dinners, for that reason.  This recipe makes 4 servings but can be easily doubled or halved to meet your needs!

5 cups water
2 TBSP soy sauce, adjust to taste.  (I've found 2 is perfect for me)
4 white mushrooms, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 TBSP mellow white miso paste
6 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into small dice, optional if you're not a fan of tofu

In a large soup pot, bring the water and soy sauce to a boil.  Add the mushrooms and green onions.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes to soften the veggies.

Place about 1/2 cup of the hot soup into a small bowl and add the miso paste, blending well.  Stir the blended miso back into the pot and simmer for 2 minutes.  DO NOT BOIL! 

Add tofu if using and adjust seasonings, adding a little more miso paste or soy sauce if needed, and serve.


(I've also used this as a base for "wonton"/dumpling soup, subbing the tofu for my dumplings) 



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tapenade

Tapenade is one of the easiest things to make.  All you really need is olives and capers.  Serve it with pita chips, crackers, or spread it on crusty bread slices or bread rounds for a vegan muffaletta! For people who eat dairy, top this with some feta cheese (or a vegan version)  It's something that will keep for quite a while in the fridge as it's "packed" in olive oil.  

I've got a few versions of this, all of which are yummy it just depends on your taste and what you have on hand!  The first version is one from a cookbook I got from my grandmommy for my birthday.  

1/4 cup capers
1 cup pitted black olives
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 olive oil

Combine everything but the olive oil in a food processor.  When the olives are finely chopped, add the olive oil with the machine running and blend into a smooth paste.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

My version is slightly different and I think... A lot more olive-y/salty :-)  I use the olive bar at Whole Foods for this recipe.  Although technically it's not tapenade as it does not have capers in it (caper is tapeno in Proven├žal) but you can add capers I just didn't have any on hand.

1-lb PITTED Greek Olive mix
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
pinch dried thyme
2 TBSP lemon juice

Combine EVERYTHING in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.  NOM NOM!

I like eating tapenade on baked potatoes with vegan sour cream, chopped cucumbers, and some chopped tomatoes.  Or just scooping with pita chips.

What's Coming... GRADUATION PARTIES

Graduations are happening all over the country right now, which means it's time for graduation parties. And for me, graduation parties mean lots of snackable foods, a variety of ages, and a variety of dietary needs.  

The BF's sister graduated yesterday so her graduation party is upon us... Luckily not until late June, but I volunteered to help make some yummies for the party.  Naturally, everything I make will be vegan (so I know I have something to eat at the party!) but on top of that there's family coming that are gluten-free, (pre-, I think) diabetic, dairy-free and nut-free.  So, first it's always good to label what everything is with a little placard to denote any allergens that are in the food!  Also, try out the recipes before the big day so you know how long it takes to prepare them and so you can taste test them first to make any changes and so you're putting out quality food!  I'm going to try to create a few things that will work for anyone, including the carnivores! I'm really excited!!

Here's a few things that I'm looking forward to trying!
  • Tapenade- a salty, dip/spread made from olives and capers (GF)
  • Mango-Avocado Spring Rolls- fresh, perfect for summer NOT FRIED! (GF)
  • Vegetable Sushi Rolls- during the summer these keep better than the fishy kind! (GF)
  • Taco Bites- not only are these a super cute idea, one batch makes 3 dozen pieces
  • Steamed Vegetable Dumplings- these can be served warm or for a party keep 'em cool
  • Not-Crab Rangoon- So yummy! You won't believe there is no crab!
Hope some of these appeal to you too!  Recipes are coming :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vegan Philly Cheesesteaks

First a quick shout out to @daiyacheese --Thank you for the wedges and the slices, they are pure Heaven!

Okay,  vegan Philly Cheesesteaks.... You're welcome :-) 

I'm on this tempeh kick.. I just recently had the tempeh bacon and pretty much fell in love with the TLT (or vegan BLT) so I bought a frozen slab of tempeh and was feeling really creative tonight. This is how this cheesesteak came to be. 

When I was going to school in Kentucky (before I became vegan) there was this restaurant that was across the street from my dorm called Penn Station.  They made amazing cheesesteaks.  Like WHOA.  They truly mastered that sandwich.  The meat was so thinly sliced, the mushrooms (an extra I loved) perfectly sauteed, the onions still a little crunchy, cheese evenly melted, and to top it all off, they added a secret spice mix that enhanced every piece of the sub.  If anyone out there happens to know what this spice mix is, please, I'm begging you, share the wealth! :-)



Here's what I did:

8 oz of tempeh, divided into 2 portions
2 cups of vegan beef broth

1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
Earth Balance or Canola Oil
Daiya Provalone slices or melted daiya Jack wedge
2 hearty hoagie rolls, toasted
Condiments of your choosing

First, simmer the tempeh in the vegan beef broth for approximately 30 min. (This imparts a "beefy" flavor in the tempeh.)  Remove from the broth and slice thinly. SAVE THE BROTH!!!

In a large pan (or griddle would work great too), heat some Earth Balance or oil on medium high heat.  Add onion slices and mushrooms cooking until the mushrooms have almost cooked down and the onions are still tender.  

Adding a little more oil or Earth Balance and the tempeh and cook until the edges start to crisp up.  Put the veggies on top of the tempeh slices and top with daiya cheese slice**.  Add a little bit of the vegan beef broth to the pan and cover with a lid for 10 seconds, to create steam for the cheese to melt.

Transfer to a nice toasty hoagie roll with any other condiments you might like.  Ketchup or Vegenaise and Spicy Mustard are what I've tried.  
 
**If opting for the melted Jack daiya, hold off on this step.  Once you've transferred your tempeh and veggies to the roll, top with the melty goodness.  It's like getting a cheesesteak wid whiz.


OM NOM NOM!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Butternut Squash Tacos

I must say that now, after being vegan for a little over a year, I'm becoming a little more adventurous in my cooking endeavours and I'm trying to eat more whole foods.  I've been exploring raw recipes and alternatives to all the processed soy I've been eating.  Well one of my go to dinners is roasted veggies: potatoes, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc. but we've been having a lot of that recently and so I wanted to do something different.  I've had a butternut squash sitting on my counter for a few weeks and I decided I needed to use it before it went bad.

I've made fries from a butternut squash before, topped with a little cayenne pepper, and it's so good.  So why not try and add some taco flavors to make a butternut squash taco?!



1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
olive oil
cumin
chili powder
cayenne pepper
garlic powder

1 can, black beans in their liquid
red onion, sliced thin
Citrus Greens, click here for recipe
soft tortillas (you can make this gluten free by subbing in appropriate tortillas)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the squash with oil.  Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet/dish.  Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake for approximately 30 mins or until squash is soft but not mushy.

Warm black beans in their liquid and prepare for assembly.  To assemble, put some onion slices on the tortilla followed by black beans, citrus greens (try not to add fruit pieces), and squash.  This is such a great variation on the typical taco fillings...not to mention HEALTHY!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vegan Veggie Pot Pie

To me, pot pie is a serious comfort food.  There's nothing better than cracking open the delicious crust and devouring the hot creaminess of the sauce.  I love making this during the winter and on stormy nights or just for Sunday dinner.  I love this recipe because I think that people who eat meat won't miss the chicken in this full of flavor veggie pot pie.  And the great thing is if you see a vegetable that you aren't fond of, switch it our for one you do like.  Although I do recommend using the leek and fennel for sure.  It adds great flavor not only to the pie, but to the sauce as well!


1 leek, trimmed, sliced lengthwise and then crosswise, and rinsed a lot!
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise
1 1/2 cup diced butternut squash
2 parsnips, diced
4 oz sliced white mushrooms
4 med red potatoes, diced
1 can of yellow corn, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 small head of broccoli, sliced into small “trees” (use the stalk too! just dice it)
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 cup flour
3 TBS vegan butter
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth or vegan chick'n broth (for that chicken pot pie flavor), warmed
store bought pie crust, check the ingredients to make sure its vegan!


Okay so I’m pretty sure that’s all what was in it…  Oh and salt and pepper to taste. Sooo here’s what I did:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large pot heat olive oil on med-hi heat.  

Add in leek, fennel, butternut squash and cook until softened.  Add mushrooms and cook until the water they release is cooked off.  Add garlic, potatoes, corn, peas, flour and butter, stirring and cooking until the raw flour taste is gone. 

Reduce heat and add in the Warm vegetable broth stirring until sauce is a thickened or until it is to your liking.  

Transfer mixture to glass baking dish, cover with pie crust and bake for 20-30 minutes.  (until crust browns and the filling boils).  THIS WILL BE INCREDIBLY HOT!  BE CAREFUL EATING IT! 


PS: I used a 9x9 baking dish and 2-1 quart baking dishes (made one big pot pie for leftovers and 2 individual pies for dinner.  You could also use a 13x9 glass baking dish.
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