Friday, December 27, 2013

Sweet Potato, Wild Mushroom and Kale Stuffed Vegan Loaf

This is a perfect holiday meal to enjoy, especially if your loved ones are veggie, vegan or even a split of carnivorous/veggie friends and family!

Who doesn't love a meaty, healthy loaf, stuffed with tasty vegetable and packed full of protein????  And best of all, there is little fat and you are left feeling delightfully full.

I got this idea from Field Roast's Celebration Loaf.  That was so tasty, I wanted to see if I could come up with my own version of it. It may look daunting and a lot of work, but don't be fooled!  It is not that arduous at all!

You can really stuff the loaf with whatever your little heart desires.  My choice of filling was beautiful green, leafy kale, sweet potato, mixed wild mushrooms and onions.  Savory with a touch a sweetness...Mmmmm Mmmmm good!  Another version I would love to try would be a fall-sy version with wild rice or quinoa, walnuts and cranberries.  That would be lovely as well!

I served this with a parsnip puree and heart warming mushroom gravy.  I mean, you cannot go wrong with that!!!

Sweet Potato, Wild Mushroom and Kale Stuffed Vegan Loaf

Ingredients:  (yields 4-6 servings)
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 c mixed wild mushrooms chopped
1 small yellow onions chopped
1 sweet potato cubed and par boiled
2 c fresh kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
s+p to taste

For the roast
3 cloves garlic
1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp sriracha or favorite hot sauce
1 tsp paprika
3 tsp italian seasoning


First prepare your filling.  In a saute pan,  heat evoo and saute onions and garlic for 3 minutes.  Add in kale and cubed sweet potatoes and continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Season to taste and set aside.

Now for the loaf:

Preheat oven 350.

In a food processor, mix garlic cloves, kidney beans, evoo, veggie broth, hot sauce and soy sauce until almost completely smooth. 
In a bowl, combine the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and seasoning and add in bean mixture.  Stir until thoroughly combined, somewhat looking like a dough.  With a roller, roll out a 1/2 inch rectangle of the "dough" mixture and place on tin foil.  Spoon your mixture across the loaf, about 1/4 of the way in and roll with the foil, as if you were rolling sushi, (Roll and pinch until the entire loaf is in a tight bundle) then cover with the foil.

Place on baking sheet and bake roughly 75-90 minutes, rotating the loaf every 25 minutes.  Allow to cool and slice into pieces.  Enjoy with your sides (parsnip puree and mushroom gravy!)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vegan Curried Carrot-Ginger Soup

Time to take off for the what does that mean????....Time to use up some produce while we are away!  What is better than making a yummy soup?  Use up some produce, enjoy a great dinner, and then freeze the rest!!!

My loving parents bought me a great gift and I could not wait to use it!  Nothing better than having a new fun toy to use in the is my time to dork out!!!!  Time to use my hand held blender!

As much as I love my food processor and Ninja, having a hand held blender reduces the stress and mess of transferring a hot soup (or cold recipe) to another apparatus.  Easy to clean, easy to may be my all time favorite, especially since I am a puree and soup freak!

It is quite obvious that I love making soups.  They are perfect for cold, chilly nights!  Not to mention, great to cool down with in those summer months (sigh...only Chicago winter has begun).  Anyway, soups are great, regardless of what season it is.   So let's warm up with some Curried Carrot-Ginger Soup!  Serve it with a side of sprouted bread, even better!

Vegan Curried Carrot-Ginger Soup

Ingredients/Directions: (yields 4 servings)
1 lb carrots ( I used multi colored carrots)
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 stalk celery chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
4 c veggie broth
1.5-2 c coconut or almond milk
2 tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ginger powder
 2 tbsp evoo

In a large pot, heat evoo and saute first 5 ingredients for at least 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in broth and "milk" and bring to boil, adding in seasoning to taste.  Cover and simmer for 20 min.  Blend until smooth.  Add more coconut or almond milk to achieve desired consistency.
Enjoy with a touch of vegan lemony-sour cream and parsley!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Beautiful and Bountiful Buddha Bowl

I feel like so many people have some sort of version of this dish!  It is incredibly versatile.  You can use what you have in your plantry and fridge! Raw veggies or cooked/roasted, sure!   You can also make this a 100% raw dish by using grated cauliflower, eliminating the tofu and using all raw veggies and raw nuts.....ohhhh I may have to try that!  Or, you can sub brown rice with quinoa.  The possiblities are endless!

This recipe would be perfect for those that follow a macrobiotic diet.  Primarily a balanced diet focusing on grains, fermented soy products, vegetables, beans and nuts/seeds.

It may sound kind of boring, but trust me, it is heart healthy and so satisfying!  You will be left with a perfectly full tummy but still feeling light and energized. 

Brown rice, tofu, an array of veggies and a tasty soy-ginger dressing....I mean, how can you go wrong????

Bountiful Buddha Bowl

Ingredients/Directions (yields 4 servings)
2 c raw brown rice cooked accordingly
1 block tofu cubed
1 crown broccoli
1/2 c red cabbage shredded
4 large carrots (I used tricolor carrots)
1 c packed chopped raw kale

Cook rice accordingly (2 c brown rice + 4 c water, bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 40-50 minutes).  In meantime, steam brocolli for roughly 3-5 minutes or until bright green.  In food processor, shred carrots.  If do not have processors, use a grate.  
Transfer rice into bowl and top with all the veggies and tofu.  Toss with sauce (below)

Soy-Ginger sauce:
1/2 c tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp minced or grated ginger
1-2 tsp ginger powder
2-3 tbsp agave nectar
3 tsp sesame seeds

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Olive Tapenade Stuffed Falafel!

Okay, honestly, who doesn't love falafel?  Meditarannean food is very close to my heart.  Greek, Turkish, Italian, Spanish....yes please!  Not only do I love falafel, but clearly the idea of having multiple sauces to accompany these little chickpea balls is even that much more alluring!  Although, I do find it funny that hummus goes with falafel.  Chick peas with chick peas???  Sure!  Why not?

I have been wanting to do a something a little bit different with the typical falafel for quite some time.  I am very surprised stuffed falafel has not really been done yet!  What a great idea, right?

Olive tapenade seemed to be a perfect pairing with falafel, so why not stuff it in the middle??  You get a little surprise when you take a bite into each ball.

I look forward to coming up with more ideas/variations of the ever so amazing falafel!

You can either buy olive tapenade or make your own.  If you have olives laying around, it is really the easiest thing to make.  Just throw a mix of pitted olives in the blender, add in a touch of evoo and blend away.  I added some cherry tomatoes to brighten it up.

If you don't feel like making it, I know that Trader Joe's carries a great tapenade!

Lastly, I love the versatility of falafel!  You can eat it as an appetizer, throw it in a salad, or bundle it up inside a pita.

Olive Tapenade Stuffed Falafel

1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed (or dried chickpeas soaked over night)
1/4 c mixed parsley and cilantry chopped
1 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1-2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour (or flour of choice)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp evoo
1/4 c olive tapenade

Preheat oven 450.  Add in all the above ingredients to food processor and pulse.  You may have to scrap the sides and mix with fork a few times.  Add water if mixture seems too thick and will not break down.  Continue to pulse until mixture is broken down, but do not let it get to the point of puree!

Lightly oil baking dish.  Roll about 1.5 tbsp of falafel mixture into a ball, then with your finger, create a small well in the middle and spoon in olive tapenade and then roll into ball again.  Light brush with evoo and continue process until mixture is dont.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, turning once or twice.  You can finish them off by frying in pan to make crispier.  This is optional.  Enjoy with tzatziki, hummus, tahini, or whatever floats your boat!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Grilled Lemon Okra with Manzanilla Olives

I vaguely remember okra being ever so popular in the early 2000's.  It was kind of like how kale has blown up in the present day.  Sadly enough, I remember the spike in popularity because it was mentioned in a Sex and the City episode in year 2000.  Yeah, pathetic, I know.  But also impressive that I can remember small little snippets.

I kind of wonder why people have forgotten about this plant.  The health benefits are wonderful!  High in fiber, vitamin C, promotes a healthy pregnancy, fights diabetes and is a great antioxidant.  The list goes on, but you get the idea.

These ladyfingers (another name for okra) can tend to be slimy, which is why I chose to grill them.  I feel that when you saute them, they tend to get that slimy film.

The addition of olive oil, lemon juice, Spanish olives and garlic, really gives it a Mediterranean flare!  And is a perfect side dish for any other Mediterranean style dish.  It is also incredibly simple and is ready in less than 10 minutes!

Grilled Lemon Okra with Manzanilla Olives

1/2 lb okra washed and patted dry and ends cut off
1 tbsp evoo
1/3 c green olives sliced
1/2 lemon juiced
1 garlic cloved minced

Heat grill.  If do not have a grill, use a Breville grill or George Foreman Grill (I used this method).  In a bowl, toss cleaned and dried okra in evoo and s+p.  Place on your choice of grill.  If using a Foreman type, close lid and grill for about 7-8 minutes.  If using standard grill, cook one side for 4 minutes, flip and cook for another 4 minutes.
Transfer back to bowl, and toss with lemon juice, green olives, garlic and more s+p if needed.  You can either enjoy this warm or at room temp.

Tips!....No Time to Cook?...Top 5 Pre-Made Vegan Products!

Three home made meals a day seems quite daunting!  Lets be honest, most of us do not have time to make everything from scratch every time we want something delicious in our mouths.

I have tried tons and tons of frozen and pre-made vegan items and brands.  So, I know which ones to swoon over and which ones I wish I never had in my mouth.  Also, don't get tricked by some brands that you may think are vegan.  Many still use eggs, casein, or dairy.  It's always good to check ingredients.  Please also keep in mind that many of these products contain soy and/or vital wheat gluten, so if you have allergies to any of those ingredients, you may need to pass on many of these items.

In all honesty, I should say that these are Ryan's fav's.  I will enjoy these products once in awhile, so I do know that they are truly tasty, but I do not eat stuff like this anywhere near as much as he does!

 Field Roast brand is a favorite around here, especially the Frankfooters!  I haven't eaten a real hot dog in over 20 years, but Ryan says that they are better than the real thing.  We like to enjoy them wrapped in a crescent or as a Chicago Style dog!

Light Life also has some great products.  They do a really great version of bacon, which is great to make a BLT with!

The deli style turkey is also good to enjoy in wraps or salads.

These are easily found in most grocery stores

      And, another faux meat/chicken option is Gardein.  For
      some great ideas using the Chick'n Scallopini, visit my blog
      here.  Those are two incredibly tasty faux chick'n recipes!

      I also enjoy the Chick'n tenders made by them as well.

     Again, these can be found in most grocery stores and at
     Target stores.

Tasty Bite has tons of products that are vegan friendly!  But please note that all of their products are not vegan, so if in question, read the ingredients.

The ones that I have tried and have really enjoyed are the Spinach Channa, Channa Masala and the Eggplant Punjab.

You can find these in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store.

And finally, my favorite, Beyond Meat.  I honeslty think it is the best faux chicken strip out there.  The texture and taste are spot on.

Here is an interesting article by Alton Brown, published in Wired Magazine.

Baked Polenta Cakes with a Savory Vegan Mushroom/Swiss Chard Sauce and Roasted Tomatoes

Rich, savory and creamy are not typical words to describe a vegan dish.  But, guess what?  It is possible to create tasty dishes that are rich tasting without the cream, butter and dairy.  Best part is, you eliminate all the hormones and toxins that are in animal products and animal bi-products.

Polenta is a quick and easy Italian "porridge-like" dish that can be baked, grilled or fried.  You can buy it premade in tubes, but of course, I prefer making everything myself.  I usually find it pretty bland, but I tweaked it a bit to be more appealing.  By adding some seasoning and salt/pepper to the mixture made a world of a difference!

It is also great to soak up all that yummy, drool worthy sauce!

 I like to add roasted tomatoes to rich dishes like this because it cuts through the savory and rich sauce and brightens up the dish! 

Baked Polenta Cakes with a Savory Vegan Mushroom/Swiss Chard Sauce

Ingredients/Directions for Polenta:
2-3/4 c water plus Edward & Sons Beefless Bouillon Cube
1 c corn meal
1 c cold water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp italian seasonings
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper

Bring 2-3/4 water + bouillon to boil, making sure that the cube has disintegrated.  In meantime, add cold water and corn meal together and mix thoroughly.  Once water is boiling, carefulling whisk in cornmeal mixture, removing all clumps.  Turn to medium and continue to whisk on and off for about 10-15 minutes.  Be careful because this does start to bubble and splatter.  Remove from heat and transfer to a 9 in pie pan.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then transfer to refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat oven 350 and bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  With a mold, cut out cakes to desired shape

Ingredients/Directions for Sauce:  (yields 2 servings)
2 vine ripe tomatoes cut into pieces
2 tbsp evoo divided
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 red onion sliced
3/4 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c torn swiss chard
 1/2 c beefless broth
3/4 c original and unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp dry white wine

Preheat oven 425.  In baking dish, lightly oil tomatoes and season.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.
In meantime, heat evoo in large saute pan and saute garlic and onions for 3 minutes.  Add in mushrooms and saute an additional 3-5 minutes (add in more evoo if need be).  Slowly stir in broth and almond milk, 1/4 c at a time until gone.  Add in white wine and  bring to boil then lower heat.  Whisk in flour and nutritional yeast and continue to whisk until smooth.  Lastly, add in the swiss chard, right before you are ready to serve.  Just cook the chard to the point where they wilt.

Gently pour over your polenta cakes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Whole Lotta Empanada....Baked Vegan "Chicken" Empanadas with Aji Sauce

I love Latin food!  Bursting with flavor....a little bit of spice, savory and actually quite versatile.  You can really make tons of variations of an empanada.  Go with "meat", vegetables, or even a sweet route using pineapples and plaintains (ooooh, I may have to try that!)

If you are wondering what emapanadas are, they are similar to a calzone or simosa in that it is a meat/vegetable filled "pie".  You can either bake or fry them, but of course, I always prefer to bake.  Kind of just think of a crispy, flaky dough filled with yummy-ness.

If you are feeling adventurous, by all means, make your own dough.  I actually had pie dough in my refrigerator already, so I just took a glass and cut out round pieces.  If you go the store bought route, be sure you check ingredients and that it is vegan!

 Traditionally, they are accompanied with a tasty sauce, called Aji sauce.  This is packed with heat, herbs, onions and peppers.  If you are not a fan of spice, opt for a roasted green bell pepper instead of an aji or polbano pepper.

To cool off your palate, you may also want to accompany your empanadas with vegan sour cream.  It is a nice balance between the heat and savory!

Baked Vegan "Chicken" Empanadas

Empanada Recipe:
Dough sheets (cut into round circles using a molding or glass)
1 c tvp crumples 
1 chick'n bouillon cube plus 1 cup water
3 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chillies in adobo sauce
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
1/4 c mushrooms chopped
2 tbsp chopped green olives, pitted
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp evoo 
1 tbsp egg powder replacer plus water

Preheat oven 425.  In small pot, boil water and bouillon cube and add in tvp.  Stir, turn off heat and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  In meantime, in saute pan, heat evoo and saute garlic, onions and bell pepper for 3-5 minutes.  Add in mushrooms and saute for an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add sauteed veggies to tvp mixture and add in remaining ingredients, stirring until thoroughly mixed.  Season to taste.
With room temperature dough, take your cut out circles and spoon 1-2 tbsp of the mixture into each one.  Fold and seal with fork.  Lightly brush with "egg" wash and place in greased baking dish.  Continue process until your dough or mixture is gone.  
Bake for 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them to make sure they do not overcook!   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Vegan Chicken-less Noodle Soup!

Freezing?  It sure is over here!  If -5 degrees isn't cold, I haven't a clue what is.  And if you are one of the lucky ones in a warm climate, this is a great soup when you are under the weather.

So.... let's get comfy and cozy with some good old fashioned chick'n-less noodle soup!  Light up the fireplace (or turn up your heat) and sip on the all time classic and favorite!

This recipe contains 2 items that all vegans should have in stock at all times, no joke!!!

In the past, I have used the typical vegetable broth that is canned or comes in a carton.  I have recently turned to Edward & Son's Bouillon cubes and will never go back.  Perfectly seasoned and deliciously savory.  Makes a perfect base for a soup!

 I have been buying Beyond Meat's Chicken Free Strips for quite some time now.  My husband and I absolutely love them!  Completely plant based and taste great!  Love to enjoy them in burritos, wraps, salads, and of course, this soup!

So, let's get warm and cozy and make some Chik'n-less Noodle Soup!

Chicken-less Noodle Soup
3 not-chik'n bouillon cubes plus 6 c water (or veggie broth)
2 c wide noodles
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 package chicken-free strips cut into smaller pieces
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp evoo

Cook noodles according to package.  In meantime, heat evoo in large pot and saute vegetables, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.  Add in water and bouillon cubes and bring to boil, stirring frequently.  When noodles are done, drain and throw into pot.  Add in chick'n pieces, spices and turn to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until you are ready to enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roasted Tomatillo and Three Bean Soup

I love working with new ingredients!  It is one thing to have had something or tried something, but it is another thing to actually work with it!  And of course, I love doing my research on products that I am not accustom to.  I always find it interesting to read what area things are indigenous to and what family they are a part of.

 So yes, I am no longer a virgin when it comes to cooking with tomatillos.  One thing that I learned is that after removing the paper husk from these little guys, you must wash them in warm water thoroughly to remove the sticky sap that is coated around them. 

Interestingly enough, these little bad boys used to be called tomates and still are named that in Mexico...just a little food for thought ;)

Something to note is that tomatillos are incredibly tart.  So the soup was not just flat and one dimensional, I decided to add in guajillo peppers to give the soup a bit of a smoky spice flavor.  Stands up nicely to the tartness!

Roasted Tomatillo and Three Bean Soup

6-8 tomatillos
4 dried guajillos (seeds removed)
6 c water
2 vegan bouillon cubes (or 6 c veggie broth and disregard water)
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 can chili beans (do not drain/rinse)
1 can white beans drained and rinsed
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
2 tsp adobo seasoning
favorite hot sauce (optional)
2 tbsp evoo separated 

Preheat oven 400.  Remove paper husk from tomatillos and rise with warm water and remove sap.  Toss with evoo and bake in baking dish for about 45 minutes. 
 In meantime, deseed dried guajillo peppers.  Bring 6 c water and bouillon cubes to a boil, stirring so they dissolve.  Once boiling, add in guajillo peppers, turn heat to low or off and cover for about 20-25 minutes.  
Remove tomatillos from oven and transfer to blender.  Add in guajillo peppers and broth to the blender as well and blend until smooth.  Set aside.
In saute pan, heat evoo and saute garlic and onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in green bell pepper and saute for another few minutes.  Add in your pureed tomatillo/guajillo mixture.  Add in remaining ingredients and bring to boil.  Turn to low and cover for about 20 minutes.  Blend a few cups of the soup and return to pot.  
Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream (optional), garnish with cilantro and have corn tortillas on hand for dipping purposes!

Spanking Good Vegan Spanakopita!

Mediterranean nights are a favorite around this household!  I am glad that a good percentage of the population is coming to the realization that not only is this food tasty, but also has an abundance of health benefits.  Plant based and full of nuts, seeds, legumes and healthy oils...hmmmm, sounds about right!

Traditionally, spanakopita, or spinach pie, is a flaky pastry filled with spinach, onions and feta.  So, to replace the feta, we are going to use crumbled and seasoned tofu to resemble that of the greek cheese.  You will be surprised how close this tastes to the traditional method!  Also, you are able to get much more protein this way, making it a great meal!

You can also play around with this recipe with the preparation.  Having a little get together?  Form the spanakopita into little little triangles to make a perfect finger food.  Or if you are having a family dinner, make a large baking dish!  A great accompaniment is to serve it with tzatziki (a yogurt, cucumber, garlic sauce- of course make it with vegan yogurt or sour cream!).

Vegan Spanakopita
phyllo dough (about 8 sheets- thaw according to directions ***note it takes a few hours)
1 lb fresh spinach
1/4 c chopped parsley
1 yellow onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 package firm tofu
1 lemon
1/3 c nutritional yeast
1 tbsp evoo plus extra to coat phyllo dough

Preheat oven 400.  Take phyllo dough out of package after thawing and cover with moist paper towel. In a large saute pan, heat evoo on medium and saute garlic and onions until slightly brown.  Add in spinach and parsley, stirring frequently.  You may have to do this in a few steps so that your pan is not overflowing with greens.  Once all the spinach is wilted, remove from heat.
For the "feta", drain tofu and crumble with hands.  Remove excess liquid with paper towels and transfer to bowl.  Squeeze in juice from your lemon and add in nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.  Add feta mixture to spinach.  Now it is time to assemble the pie!
In a baking dish, lightly oil the botton and add in about 4 phyllo sheets, folded over.  Lightly brush evoo on top of phyllo and spoon in the spinach mixture evenly until either all gone or until the dish is full.  Top with another 4 folded phyllo sheets and once again, brush evoo on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let cool for about 10 minutes and cut into squares.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bye-Bye Boring Fry!.....Crispy Jicama Fries!

My intentions were actually to grab a rutabaga at the store to accompany the Chili Bean-Yam Burger.  I whipped through the store not really paying attention to what I was grabbing.  When I was ready to start the "fries".  I thought it was quite odd that it was almost impossible to peel.  So I tasted it, and realized "yup, that is a jicama".  And then thought, how the hell does one confuse a jicama and rutabaga???  Bad Sarah!  Well, I suppose they are both considered a tuberous root somewhat like a turnip.  And seriously, they do look alike, right?!?!

Anyway, I really wasn't too worried about it.  Shoot, if you can make parsnip fries, rutabaga fries, eggplant fries, I am sure I can make jicama fries.  So why are jicama fries better than your standard fry?  If you are on a low cal, low carb and gluten free diet, they are perfect.  So hey all you vegan, gluten free and/or paleo people out there!  These have about 20% less calories and carbs than your everyday french fry.

 Jicama Fries

Because jicama has such a high water content, be prepared to bake them for a good 45 minutes, especially if you like them crispy!  Add your favorite spices to the fries to give them an extra kick!  

1-2 jicamas
1 tbsp evoo
dried parsley flakes
garlic powder
 nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven 400.  Wash and scrub jicama and carefully cut off the skin.  It was difficult for me to peel, but you may have better luck. With mandolin, slice into nicely shaped fries.  If you do not have a mandolin, carefully slice into fry wedges.  Remember:  if you evenly cut each fry, they will bake consistently.  Toss with evoo and seasonings and bake for 45 minutes, stirring about every 10-15 minutes.  For a crispier fry, turn to broil after 45 and cook another 5 minutes.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chili Bean-Yam Burger

Another one of those recipes where I just wanted to use what I had on hand.  It sounded odd at first, but was really quite tasty.  Basically a nice and balanced combination of sweet and spice...just like me!

Not all veggie burgers have to be the typical black bean burgers.  Play around with what you have and you can come up with same great ideas!

 I have noticed in some vegan burger recipes, it is tough to reach the desired consistency.  Come on people!  No one wants to pick up a burger that just falls apart and can't get into your mouth!  That is an epic burger fail!

To avoid that issue, I chose to add in brown rice and plenty of panko crumbs to achieve a firm patty. 

 Chili Bean-Yam Burger

Ingredients: (yields 6-8 burgers)

 1 yam or sweet potato
1 can chili beans (drain but do not rinse)
1/4 red onion chopped
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 c cooked brown rice
2 tbsp vegan steak sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp of another favorite hot sauce (optional)
1 tbsp tamari
2 tsp adobo powder
2-3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp egg replacer + water
1 c panko crumbs ****plus extra if needed

Heat oven 400 and bake sweet potato in foil for about 1 hr.  Once baked, peel sweet potato cut into a few large pieces. 
Leave oven on, if you choose to bake the burgers.
In a food processor or blender, pulse the sweet potato and chili beans a few times until combined but not completely blended. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Adjust seasoning to taste and add additional panko crumbs if it does not seem firm enough. 
Form into patties and bake on oiled baking dish for about 30 minutes, flipping once.  Turn to broil and bake another 5-10 minutes. 
Serve with or without a bun with your favorite fixings.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What About a Flauta?....Baked Vegan Black Bean/Sweet Potato Flautas!!

This recipe brings me back to my restaurant days - a healthy version that is...

"My boys" (the line cooks) would make comida late in the evening for the kitchen staff, right before closing time.  A popular dish they would make were flautas.  I never really had an authentic flauta until they made me one.  They consisted of tortillas stuffed with mashed potatoes (meat for those that ate it) and then would deep fry them to crispy perfection.  And oh my goodness were they good!  There was only one problem though, they were glutenous and greasified!  I would limit myself to just eating a few bites because of this.  Who really wants a mouth filmed with grease?

If you are not familiar with the term flauta, think of a taquito.  And if you are not familiar with either, a flauta is a flour tortilla, filled with meat, cheese and/or mashed potatoes, and then rolled up into a very very small burrito  FYI- flauta means "flute" (makes sense).  Taquito is the exact same thing, though using corn tortillas. 

So, I came up with a fun, nutritious, baked version of the oh so satisfying flauta.  To make it tasty, vegan and healthy, I chose to fill it with sweet potatoes and black beans.  Protein, veggies, filling, crispy, and not greasy!  Heck yes!!!!

Baked Vegan Black Bean - Sweet Potato Flautas

 Ingredients (made 8 flautas)

1 sweet potato
1 can black beans drained & rinsed
1/2 tbsp vegan butter (earth balance)
1 tbsp favorite hot sauce divided
2 tbsp chopped jalapenos (optional)
flour tortillas
2 tbsp evoo
garlic powder

Preheat oven 400.  With a fork, poke various holes in sweet potato, cover with foil and bake 45 min - 1 hour.  Remove from oven when done and let cool until able to handle.
Turn oven to 425.
 Once cooled, peel, smash and add vegan butter, 1/2 tbsp of hot sauce, jalapenos (optional), garlic powder and s+p.
With your black beans, you can either keep as is or smash slightly with fork.  I chose to smash them a bit.
To assemble the flauta, take moist paper towels and fold over tortillas.  Microwave for about 15 seconds (this allows them to be soft while rolling without breaking).  No microwave? (I do not have one) No problem- throw in oven for a few minutes with the wet papertowels.
Line each tortilla with black beans and mashed sweet potatoes.  Roll tightly and brush each one with EVOO, making sure you coat all sides.  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, starting with the folded side down.  Flip and turn to broil and bake another 3-5 minutes or so.  Make sure you check on them frequently as each oven is different.
Remove from oven and let cool.  Serve with your favorite mexican sauces.  I used creamy guac and salsa. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baked Vegan Kale & Corn Fritters

It looks like it is going to be one of those weeks where I am going to try and live off of what we have in the plantry and what is left in the refrigerator.  Between traveling and celebrating, time just seemed to get away from us and we never made it to the grocery store.

But, luckily, I always have staples in the plantry.  Canned goods and dry goods are always in abundance around here.  I think it is always important to have items such as corn, a variety of beans, grains, etc.  And, no matter what, you will always find kale in my fridge.

So, hmmmm...let's see what I can find in the plantry today: 
Canned corn? Yup.
Corn meal? Check.
Kale?  Duh.

It only made sense to create some healthy baked, vegan fritters.  By adding a few other staples, I was well on my way to a yummy and satisfying dinner without spending a dime or leaving the house!

Baked Vegan Kale & Corn Fritters

Indredients: (yields 6-8 fritters)

1 can corn drained and rinsed
1 c chopped and rinsed kale
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno (optional)
2 tbsp scallions chopped
1 egg replacer
1/2 c almond milk (original and unsweetened)
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 tbsp evoo

Preheat oven 350.
Heat evoo in saute pan and saute onion and garlic until translucent.  Add in kale and saute for about 1-2 minutes and then stir in corn.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly.  Add in the kale/corn mixture and combine.
Lightly baking sheet and form disc fritters.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, flip and continue baking for another 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve with your favorite sauce!  Final product- a gorgeous, healthy and tasty fritter!

In a bowl, 

A Definite "DO!".....Vegan Cheese Fondue

The plantry has been in hiatus for the last week!  Between traveling for the holidays, work and our anniversary, the plantry has been quite lonely.  But, what kind of celebration would it be if I didn't surprise the hubby with a sexy, candlelit vegan dinner?!

Nothing is sexier to me than feeding each other fondue and some seductive chocolate and coconut covered strawberries.

Wash it down with some bubbles and you are well on your way to a perfect evening.  Now only if I had a fireplace! 

When I was vegetarian, I LOVED fondue.  Although I would always feel gross and glutenous after eating it.  The thought of the amount of calories I consumed was downright frightening!  Not that I have a clue on how many calories my vegan cheese fondue has, I can only assume it has at least half the amount of fat and calories.

To be quite honest, I did not have high hopes on a vegan cheese fondue.  But, proved myself otherwise.  Between the tahini, white wine, miso paste and nutritional yeast, it definitely had that pungent essence as does cheese.

Vegan "Cheese" Fondue

2 c dry white wine
1/2 c water
1/4 c tahini
2 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 c cooked steamed cauliflower
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp flour (be prepared to add more if need to be thicker)
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder

Combine all the above ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Transfer to pot and heat until boiling, turn to low and simmer, stirring often.  Season more to taste.  Set up fondue bowl accordingly and pour fondue mixture in.
Serve with apples, grapes, mushrooms, bread, cauliflower, broccoli, or whatever you desire!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Roasted Broccoli and "Cheese" Soup

For some reason, when I think of broccoli-cheese soup I think of a little restaurant/bar that my friends and I frequented during our college days in Madison.  For some reason, everyone loved the broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl.  Personally, I didn't really understand why.  Maybe it was because everyone was hungover and anything tastes great then.

Anyway, I really love the this vegan version.  The combination of the nutritional yeast, vegan butter, miso paste and dijon mustard really gives it that funky, cheesy, creamy deliciousness.  You definitely will not miss the cheese and dairy.  Heck, forget what I just will actually really think that there is cheese and dairy in here.  I think we should put non vegans to a taste test and see what they think!  Muwahahaha.

Roasted Broccoli and "Cheese" Soup

I tend to love roasting vegetables, but you certainly do not have to with this recipe.  If you choose to forgo the roasting part of the broccoli and garlic, simply saute in the same step that I saute the additional vegetables in the recipe.

This will also save you about 15 minutes if you are pressed for time.

Ingredients/Directions (yields 6-8 servings)
1 large broccoli crown broccoli or 2 small crowns, cut into florets
3 garlic cloves
1-2 tbsp evoo
1 potato peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
2 c vegetable broth
2 c almond milk
1/4-1/2 c nutritional yeast
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 tsp cayanne pepper or paprika
2 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven 350.  Lightly toss broccoli and garlic cloves in evoo and bake for 20-25 minutes.  In meantime, in large pot, heat evoo and saute potato, onions and celery for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.  Add in broth and almond milk.  Bring to a boil and simmer.  Andd in remaining ingredients and the roasted broccoli and garlic once finished.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who Doesn't Like Apples and Peanut Butter?..... Vegan Apple & Peanut Butter Cookies

Forget those peanut butter cookies that you have been making for years.  It's time to try something new!  And, who doesn't like the combination of apples and peanut butter anyway?  What I especially enjoyed about these cookies were that they were not overly sweet.  And, the use of oats also throws a bit of a twist on peanut butter cookies as well.

I decided to add apples, for one, because I don't think I have ever had apple pieces in a cookie and thought that it was a funky idea.  But also because we have these huge, delicious Michigan apples that were screaming out at me; eat me! eat me!

Vegan Apple & Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/3 c flour
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cup rolled oats
1/2 c evoo
1/2 c natural peanut butter
1/3 c almond milk (unflavored/unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large apple diced

Preheat oven 350 and lightly grease cookie sheet.  In one bowl, mix all dry ingredients.  In another bowl mix evoo, peanut butter, almond milk, vanilla and apple.  Combine the dry to the wet and mix completely.  
Spoon out about 1-1.5 tbsp of batter and place on cookie sheet, flatten slightly.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.
Enjoy with a glass of milk....almond milk that is, silly!

It's Cold Out, Let's Get Toasty!....Toasted Coconut and Oats-Oatmeal

Ahhh yes, how I have NOT missed Chicago mornings in late November!  It is one of those mornings where it is hard to get out of bed.  Oh how I love to cuddle my two loves under the covers on a chilly morning....And oh, how I wish these hardwood floors were heated!

But, no worries!  I know how to inspire myself and venture out into the chilly family room and kitchen.... A steaming, fragrant pot of coffee and a warming, toasted oatmeal will make a great start to a chilly day.

Toasted Coconut and Oats-Oatmeal

 Let's not kid ourselves, we are not reinventing the wheel here....we are just having a little fun with the wheel and seeing if it will spin the same way.  Guess what?  We just put some 24 inch rims on that wheel and we are cruising down breakfast alley.  (yeah I did it, I went there).

Ingredients/Directions: (yields 2-3 servings)
1.5 c rolled oats
1/4 c shredded coconut
1/4 c dried cranberries
3 c almond milk
1/4 c walnuts (optional)
2-3 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup

In a pot, toast oats and coconut on medium heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Once they have that "nutty" scent, add in almond milk and stir.  Let cook on low-medium for about 5 minutes.  Add in walnuts, cranberries and nectar or syrup.  Delicious and heart warming!

Optional:  if you want to plump up your cranberries, boiling them in water for about 5-10 minutes.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You Won't Believe this is Dairy Free!.....Creamy Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Soup

'Tis the season for warm and comforting soups.  And this one does not leave you disappointed!  It is a silky smooth, creamy combustion that coats your mouth, teases your tastebuds and makes your insides feeling warm and satisfied.

As mentioned before, soups are great, especially if you have leftovers or if you are a bit trepid in the kitchen.  I find it best to lightly season at first and build off of that base.  Or, if you are cooking for guests, it is always best to not over do it with the spices/ never know how much salt or heat someone prefers.  But at the same time, do not under season!  I am not sure how you feel about this, but bland food is meant for infants.  Who wants baby food?

Creamy Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Soup

 Any who, enough ranting....let's get into this recipe.  Want to make a meal out of this?  Serve with crusty bread and a beautiful and light frisee salad.  Now we are talking!

Quick note; if you do not have time to roast the cauliflower, opt to steam it instead.  This will shave off about 40 minutes of the total time to make the soup!

Ingredients: (yields 3-4 servings)

1 head cauliflower cut into florets
1 tbsp evoo
2 tsp oregano

1 tbsp evoo
1 yellow onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 non-beef bouillon cube dissolved in 2 c water
2 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp cayanne pepper

Preheat oven 400.  Toss cauliflower florets with evoo, s+p and oregano.  Bake in oven for about 40-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
In meantime, in a large pot, saute onions and garlic in evoo until translucent.  Add in water, bouillon cube and almond milk and turn to high until boils, then reduce.  Add in nutritional yeast and miso paste.  Stir until disolves.  Turn off heat until cauliflower is done roasting.  Transfer your liquid soup base and roasted cauliflower to food processor and blend until smooth.
Return to pot and place heat on low.  Season to taste with s+p and paprika.  Serve with some crusty artisan bread.
If so desired, drizzle some herbed oil on top of soup for some vibrant color! 

Truffled Portobello Mousse with Cranberry-Pear Compote and Truffled Toast

Another truly chef inspired, sexy vegan dish!  I actually got this idea from a NYC restaurant called Dirt Candy.  Next time I visit NY, I will make sure to stop by and try this to compare the differences!  The chef's version looks like a faux foie gras, whereas mine resembles a mousse/pate.  Regardless, thank you Dirt Candy for the inspiration!

This would be a great crowd pleaser and topic of discussion!  Also a great way to start as an hor d'oeurve or appetizer.  It is quite rich, so it is definitely a plate to share.

 Having a romantic night?  Choose this!  It is sexy and fun to feed each other with.  Think somewhere in between a pate and a cheese plate....mousse spread, crusty bread, balsamic reduction and a fruity compote....what else do you need aside from candles and a beautiful bottle of red?

Truffled Portobello Mousse

Ingredients/Directions for Truffled Portobello Mousse (yields 4 servings):
 1/2 tbsp vegan butter
2 portobello mushrooms cleaned and diced
1/2 yellow onion diced
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp agar agar
1 tsp truffled oil

In saute pan, heat vegan butter and saute onions until translucent.  Add in portobello and continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes.  Add in remaining ingredients, bring to boil and turn off heat.  Continue to stir until it starts to thicken.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth.  Spoon into ice cube trays and let sit for about an hour.  (you can also place in freezer for about 10 minutes for them to harden and keep shape much faster).  Enjoy with your favorite compote, balsamic reduction and truffled toast.  Heck yes!

Vegan Swiss Chard-Spinach Frittata with Sweet Potato Crust

A frittata originated in Italy and is somewhere in between an omelette and a crustless quiche.  Well, clearly, we changed a few things up in this recipe.  We made it vegan, gluten free and irrestistable!

As far as the egg part goes, crumbled tofu that is seasoned properly is SO perfect to use to emulate scrambled or baked eggs.

I had some sweet potatoes in my plantry, so why not be a bit more creative and make a crust with it?  Yes, technically frittatas do not have a crust, but guess what?  I like to live on the edge a bit.  By adding the sweet potato crust, this recipe is still gluten free, but now more of a complete meal.  Each serving is still quite low in carbs, but is just a tad more filling than otherwise.

If you do not want to do a sweet potato or spud potato crust, but still want to maintain a gluten free environment, you can make your crust out of chick pea flour.  (Look out for future recipes involving chick pea crusts!)

1 sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 tbsp evoo
2 c chopped spinach
2 c chopped swiss chard
1 small yellow onion diced
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp tamari
2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1 package firm tofu

Preheat oven 375.  Place shredded sweet potato in bowl and toss with evoo and salt/pepper.  With 8" pie pan, lightly oil and pack the shredded sweet potato into it.  Set aside.
Take your tofu and drain it completely.  With hands, crumble tofu, while removing excess liquid as well.  Note that you may need to use paper towels to do this.  Take crumbles and place in bowl, mixing in the mustard, tumeric, tamari, lemon juice and nutritional yeast.
In a saute pan, heat evoo on medium and saute onions/garlic for 3-4 minutes.  Add in spinach and swiss chard and saute until wilted. Mix into your tofu mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Take the greens/tofu mixture and spoon into pie pan.  Bake for 45-1 hr.  When done, let cool for 10 minutes and serve!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sarah's Sweet and Sour Seitan "Beef"

This recipe is a lot more simple that I had expected.  A definite must make if you are craving Chinese cuisine and don't want to make that mistake of ordering over priced, greasy and sodium driven take out.  At least, the majority of the take out places by me are like that.  Though, do not get me wrong, not every take out/deliver joint is bad.  I just prefer to know what is going in my body and you should too!

If you are gluten free, no worries!  You can either replace the seitan with tofu or just leave it out completely!  Honestly, just the sweet and sour vegetable is perfect for me!  And, I just adore the taste profile because it hits so many spectrums; the sweet, the spice, the sour.  Sign me up!

Sweet and Sour Seitan "Beef"

You can either make your own seitan or buy pre-made seitan at the market.  I always prefer to make my own because I tend to make it a bit crispy by cooking it in the oven a bit longer than you are "supposed" to. 


Ingredients (yields 2-4 servings)
1 package or this recipe for seitan
1 yellow or red bell pepper chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 can chunk pineapple (save 3 tbsp juice for sauce)
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove mined
1/4 c vegetable broth
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar or agave nectar
1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp water

Chop up your seitan into bite size pieces.  In a bowl, toss corn starch mixture with the seitan and set aside.
In a wok or saute pan, heat sesame oil or peanut oil and cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes, add in bell peppers and continue to saute for about 4-5 minutes.   Add in vegetable broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sriracha, pineapple juice and agave nectar.  Stir continuously and toss in seitan.  Continue to stir until mixed and seitan is hot.  Serve with white rice.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wakey Wakey!.....Beet and Potato Hash with Soy Chorizo!

Eggs are not missed in this breakfast dish.  In my opinion, this is a great breakfast to have if you know you have a busy day and may not have time for a complete lunch.  You get your vegetables, carbs and protein.  Match this with a some grapes or a banana and you will be left beyond satisfied and ready to conquer the day! 

Adding shredded beets is a nice little touch on a typically ordinary potato hash.  Gives the plate a punch of color!

There are a few options when it comes to soy chorizo, which I like to call "soyrizo".  Trader Joe's has it pre-made in the refrigerator section.  This kind is quite flavorful but a bit on the greasy side.  Many grocery stores sell dried flavored soy chorizo in plastic packages.  All you need to do is add boiling water and you are good to go.  Or, you can opt to make your own with TVP, water and appropriate spices.  I like to go with the package version.

Ingredients: (yields 2 servings)
1 potato peeled
1 beet peeled
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic glove minced
1/2 c soy chorizo
1/2 c baby spinach
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp evoo

Beet and Potato Hash with Soy Chorizo

Boil 1/2 c water.  Add in soy chorizo and turn off heat.  Mix and set aside.  In food processor, chop potato and beet.  Remove from processor and press in between a few paper towels to remove liquid.  Heat evoo in saute pan, saute garlic and onions on medium heat for a few minutes.  Add in shredded potato and beet and saute for about 15 minutes, or until desired consistency.  Make sure to stir frequently.  If you like a bit crunchier, saute longer.  Add in spinach and parsley and season to taste.  Stir in soy chorizo mixture and bam!  Breakfast is served!

A Taste of Jalisco!....Vegan Pozole

This recipe has been on my list since we moved to "little mexico" in August.  For obvious reasons, I chose to wait until it was cold out and my body was craving something warm, hearty and comforting.  Who the heck wants a booming stew in the summer?  Not I!!!!

Traditionally, this Spanish/Mexican dish contains pork.  Not like I could imagine what that would taste like, but for me, this recipe was not missing a thing.

The basis of the dish is White Hominy (Maize or Pozole Blanco).  You can find this in the canned aisle of your grocer- don't be discouraged if it is written in Spanish, it is all the same! 

The other "secret" ingredient?  Dried guajillo peppers!  Don't fret if you cannot find them.  Ancho peppers would be great as well, or even the more popular, poblano pepper.  I obsolutely adore the dark, rich, smokey flavor of the guajillo though.  Definitely adds another dimension to the stew!

And, here is a  pretty cool and interesting fact about hominy: (and I use this term loosely because it is definitely a nerdy thing to call "cool") It is actually white corn that has been soaked in an alkali solution that removes the hull and germ from the corn, and in return, puffs up much larger and allows our bodies to digest it much easier.  Ever realize that your body never really digests the corn you eat at your summer BBQs?

Vegan Pozole

1 29 oz can hominy (drained and rinsed)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 yellow onion chopped
1 carrot peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper seeds removed and chopped
1 c beans (either black beans, kidney beans or whatever you have on hand)
6 dried guajillo peppers, seeds removed
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp evoo
In a pot, bring water to a boil and add in guajillo peppers.  Once boiling, turn off stove and let peppers soak for 20 minutes.  This allows the peppers to rehydrate.  Once done, add guajillos, about 1 c of the liquid they soaked in and canned stewed tomatoes in blender and blend until smooth.  This will be the base of the stew.

Heat evoo in large pot and saute garlic, onions, carrots and bell peppers for about 5 minutes.  Add in the soup base (above) and turn heat on high until bubbles, then lower to med temp.  Add in the hominy, beans and all the spices listed above.  Season more to taste and cover on low temp for about 20-30 minutes.  

Serve with lime wedges, cilantro and corn tortillas.  It's fiesta time!