Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meanie Greeney Linguine......Fresh Homemade Vegan Spinach Linguine!

I love a cooking challenge...always have, always will.  The first few times making my own pasta was a disaster!  But, that makes me want to make it more and more so I can perfect something I once thought was impossible.

Please note: I DO NOT have a pasta maker/ really do not need that fancy attachment on your your mixer! We are going old school, people, using a rolling pin and cutting board.  And, guess what?  With a little love and muscle, this recipe makes one meanie linguine!

 Your Cuisinart definitely comes in handy when making the dough!  I think this is the step that I have missed in the past when attempting to make pasta dough.   Before, I would just use my hands to combine the water, oil and flour.  And man, that was a beast of a project!  Instead, use the dough blade, add in flour and then slowly pour in water and oil.  After a few minutes, a perfect ball of dough will form.  Voila!  You just saved a good amount of time!

Note: the key to a great, traditional pasta dough is semolina flour.  If you don't have this, it is worth making that trip to the grocery store!  I typically buy Bob's Red Mill brand.

Vegan Spinach Linguine 

1 c semolina flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c water
1 tbsp evoo
pinch of salt
5 ounces blanched spinach pureed

With your food processor, using the dough blade, add in flour and salt and start the machine.  Slowly pour in the evoo and then water.  The consistency will resemble crumb like texture at first and then will slowly combine into a ball of dough.  Once that happens, remove the dough from the machine and just knead with your hands until smooth.  Your dough is now ready.  With a rolling pin, roll out dough until it is as thin as you can get it.  You may need to do this with a quarter of the dough at a time.  With a pasta cutter (or a pizza cutter), cut out each piece of linguine.  When done, carefully transfer to a pasta rack.
Air dry your pasta for about 20 minutes.  Your pasta is ready now!  You can either boil it right away or store in air tight package.  Note, your fresh pasta will only take about a minute or two to boil.
Serve with your favorite sauce!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup

Who doesn't like a big bowl of delicious noodles in a "creamy" vegan lemongrass scented broth?  It is light yet comforting and aromatic.

I love lemongrass, especially in tom yum soup or tom kha gai.  Those are some of my favorite Thai soups out there!  Not only does it have a fresh citrus like flavor but has many medicinal properties and is great for your health!  The health benefits go on from helping with laryngitis to fever reducing to alleviating muscle spasms to stomach and muscle pains/spasms to an antidepressant....just to name a few.

I actually found chopped up, frozed lemongrass in a Vietnamese market, so I have been using it quite often!  It is also great to just use to make a simple tea! 

Ok now that you have your fun lemongrass facts, grab your soba and some vegetables and lets get cooking!

Vegan Lemongrass Infused Soba Noodle Soup
1 package soba noodles
4 c vegetable broth
2 c coconut milk
2 heaping spoons of chopped lemongrass, or 2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 chopped enoki mushrooms, or mushrooms of your choice
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c tightly packed baby spinach
1-2 carrots, peeled into thin slices
1/4 c mirin (optional)
salt to taste
2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp sesame or peanut oil
In a large pot, heat sesame or peanut oil over medium heat, add in minced ginger and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add in vegetable broth, coconut milk and lemongrass and bring to boil.  Cover, turn to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.  When you are ready to cook the noodles, remove lid and bring back to a boil.  Cook the noodles according to package, adding in all remaining vegetables and spices in the last minute (you do not want your greens to turn brown!)  Serve immediately!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Citrus-Soy Marinated King Oyster "Scallops" with Forbidden Black rice Stir Fry

I've been waiting some time to  make this recipe, or just really any recipe that emulates regular scallops.  Finally, I headed back to China and voila...the first thing my eyes zoomed in on were the king oyster mushrooms.

It is crazy how much these really emulate scallops and I will definitely be making the faux scallops again, playing around with another recipe.  Once cooked, the texture and touch was so similar to the real thing!  A fun and kitchy little idea that will make your taste buds dance and put a smile on your face.
The black forbidden rice is simple amazing.  I actually prefer forbidden rice over any other kind of rice.  The texture is a bit more firm and tastes slightly nutty. Not only does it taste better to me, but it is the most nutritious of all kinds of rice!  It has the highest amount of protein and double the amount of fiber.  Time to swap out brown rice for the forbidden kind!  Visually, it makes a sexy statement as well!

Citrus-Soy Marinated King Oyster "Scallops" with Forbidden Black rice Stir Fry
for the scallops:
1 large king oyster mushroom, sliced about 1/2 - 3/4 in thick
1/3 c soy sauce
1/2 orange, juiced
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp evoo
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, agave nectar and sriracha together.  Marinate the mushrooms in this sauce for about 10 minutes.  Save the reserved liquid for reducing and using as garnish at the end.
Heat evoo in a saute pan over medium.  Place each "scallop" in the pan and saute each side for about 2-3 minutes.  Poke with finger to assure doneness .  The should feel firm yet tender. 
for the forbidden rice stir fry:
1 c forbidden black rice
2 c water or vegetable broth
2 carrots, shredded
5 brussel sprounds, shredded
3 scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
In a pot, bring water or broth to a boil, add in rice, cover and let rice cook for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  Once the rice is done, set aside.  In a wok, heat the sesame oil on medium, add in garlic and ginger and shredded carrots and brussel sprouds and toss for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the rice and scallions and toss for another minute or two. 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Best Vegan "Beef" Stew!

It's just mid November and it snowed in the city today.  So, clearly it is unseasonably cold for this time.  And, it is going to get down to the single digits on Monday as well.  Now comes the time when I want to move to Florida.  I swear we talk about it every year when it starts to get cold!  Maybe we need to strike gold and have two homes!

So on a night like this, who wouldn't want a hearty, comforting bowl of vegan beef stew???  Even better, we can enjoy the leftovers cuddling on the couch, watching Sunday football all day.  Sounds pretty good to me! 

So our last trip to the Vietnamese grocer, Ryan noticed some chunks of tvp beef.  We usually buy the tvp chicken, but this is the first time I have seen a soy beef product in this manner!  The specific product we bought was Verisoy Vegan Beef Slice.  Just like other tvp products, you have to rehydrate the product in broth or liquid for about 10-15 minutes. 

What to know about these products is that proper seasoning is crucial, otherwise the product could be a bit off-putting.  For this recipe, I used a vegan beef broth, vegan Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to rehydrate the product.  Then, quickly tossed it with a vegan steak sauce before adding it to the stew.  This turned out to taste great!

The Best Vegan "Beef" Stew

for the tvp:
2 c vegan beef tvp
2 c vegan beef broth, or broth of choice
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp vegan steak sauce

for the stew
2 tbsp evoo
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 white or russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 c red wine
2 tbsp flour
reserve liquid from tvp
2 tbsp steak sauce
2 tbsp corn starch
2 bay leaves

for the beef tvp:
Bring broth with Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce sauce to a boil.  Stir in tvp beef slices, turn off heat and let soak for about 10-15 minutes.  Strain, reserving the remaining liquid for the stew.  In a bowl, toss the tvp beef slices with your vegan steak sauce.  Set aside.

for the stew:
In a large pot, heat evoo over med-high and saute onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in you tomato paste and continue to stir.  Add in flour, stir for an additional minute or so, then add in red wine and let reduce by half.  Pour in broth and reserve liquid from the tvp.  Bring to boil, add in remaining ingredients and the tvp beef strips.  Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Serve with rice or noodles when ready to serve.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's another Smash Up!.....Vegan Carrot-Coconut Curry with Vegan Baked Pakoras

I just got a new laptop yesterday so I am still trying to get used to this thing.  I am so used to my Apple laptop and have no clue what all this new Windows stuff is.  I want my Apple back :(
And, I keep striking the wrong keys because this keypad is so much larger.  So I guess that is my excuse if there are typos and just plain weird stuff going on in this post.

I have so many recipes that I have yet to post.  There is a long list on my refrigerator of what I still need to write about...if I wait any longer, I am going to forget them!  But, I am so excited about what I prepared this evening, I am going to put them on a longer post, to talk about this Indian-Thai smash up recipe!

If you aren't familiar with pakoras, they are originally from India but are also becoming popular in Southeast Asia.  Typically they are a fried snack using gram flour.  I used a different method, replacing the gram flour with rice flour or chickpea flour and baking them instead of frying. 

I chose to make the pakoras into an entrée by involving them into a carrot coconut curry.  Both have the curry aspect, but the lime in the curry adds a nice acidic element to the dish and cuts through the richness of both the soup and the pakoras.  I am not sure if a carrot coconut curry exists, but if you have never tried it or seen it, it is absolutely spectacular.  And, if you would like, top with vegan raita sauce.  This brings a nice refreshing and cooling aspect to the dish!

Vegan Carrot-Coconut Curry with Vegan Baked Pakoras
Ingredients/Directions for the Carrot-Coconut Curry:
5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of light coconut milk
3-4 c vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp evoo

Heat evoo on med-high and saute carrots, onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes.  Add in broth and coconut milk and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add soup back to pot and heat when ready to serve.

Ingredients/Directions for the Vegan Pakoras:

1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
2 carrots, shredded
1 zucchini, shredded
1/2 c broccoli, chopped
1 c chickpea flour
3/4 c water
1/2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste

Preheat oven 500.
In a bowl, combine chickpea flour and the spices together, mix in water and stir until completely combined. Toss in all your vegetables and stir the batter into the veggies.  With your hands, for about 2 inch balls and place on an oiled baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes, flipping half way through.  Drop these babies in your carrot coconut curry soup or try with vegan raita or a chutney!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Herbed Polenta with Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille

Ryan and I just got back from Green Bay this afternoon and man did we have a great night!  Box suite seats for the Packers vs Bears game.  Great win for Green Bay, tough night for Chicago though.  I kind of felt like royalty though.  While most fans shivered in the cold, all bundled up, we lounged in a suite with free food and beverages.  I mean, who can complain??

Now, lets talk food.  Typically I am not the biggest polenta fan because it just seems pretty bland to me.  But this time, things were much much different!  The polenta was firm with a nice crust to the top of it, and screaming with an Italian herb mixture.

I love Ratatouille....both the dish and the movie!!!  What a cute movie!  Now I want to watch it again!  Anyway, adding your homemade Italian sausage crumbles to the mix, spices things up a bit.  The two really compliment each other!  Also, I prefer to roast the ratatouille...for me, roasted anything is better than sautéed!

Herbed Polenta with Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille 
for the polenta:
1 c corn meal
1 quart vegetable broth (I like to make my own!)
1 small yellow, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. vegan butter
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2-1 tbsp Italian herb
s+p to taste
Preheat oven to 350.  In a pot, heat vegan butter over medium-high heat and saute garlic and onion until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in the cornmeal and continuously stir.  Add in Italian herbs and s+p to taste.
Lightly grease a pie pan and transfer polenta mixture into the pie pan.  Place in oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  Make sure you stir the mixture every 10 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.  To remove the polenta from the pie pan, take a knife and run it around the edges.  Carefully flip it upside down and remove the polenta.  With a round mold, cut into cakes.
for the Vegan Sausage and Ratatouille:
1/2 c tvp
1/2 c vegetable broth or vegan jamon broth (I love that stuff!)
1/2 tbsp chipotle adobo sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
1 eggplant, cut into cubes
1 zucchini cut into quarter pieces
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2-3 tbsp evoo
s+p to taste
Preheat oven 450.  Toss the eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic, evoo and seasoning in a bowl.  Pour into a baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  Stir the ratatouille every 10 minutes and add more evoo if need be.  Note that eggplant soaks up a lot of moisture!  Remove from oven when all the veggies are soft and caramelized in the own juices.  Also note that the longer this sits, more flavors develop....yum!
As for the sausage, bring the broth to a boil and mix in tvp.  Turn off heat and let the tvp soak up the liquid for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until completely combined.  Add to ratatouille and serve over your polenta!  Whew!  I know, but it is worth it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Fresh Sage

I don't know what has taken me so long to post this.  I actually made it a few weeks ago.  But, now is the perfect time to go pumpkin crazy, if you haven't already, that is.  We are going to turn orange over here if I keep cooking with pumpkins, squashes and carrots!

Remember you want to buy a cooking pumpkin!  These are much smaller and tastier than those pumpkins that you used for carving!  Trust me, I have made that mistake in the past.  Those carving pumpkins virtually have no taste.  Not meant for cooking!  Also, it is preferred to bake and cook your own pumpkin opposed to using the canned stuff.  There is something off putting about that stuff, unless its in a pie.

Like I have mentioned in other risotto recipes, any risotto takes patience and love.  You want to slowly add the liquid little by little, finessing the risotto consistently for about 20-25 minutes.  You want to do that because it releases the starches in the arborio rice so that it becomes soft and gives you that creamy texture.

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Fresh Sage

1 cooking pumpkin, cut into large pieces
2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp unsweetened, original almond milk
2 c arborio rice
6-8 c vegetable stock
4 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c dry white wine
handful of fresh sage, chopped
s+p to taste
Preheat oven 400.   Brush your pumpkin pieces with evoo and lightly season with salt and pepper.   Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet, flesh side up, and bake 30-45 minutes or until a knife can easily cut through the flesh.  Once baked, remove the skin and put the pumpkin, vegan butter and almond milk in a blender and blend until smooth.  Set aside.  

Heat the vegetable stock in a large pot and keep heated with flame on low-medium. 
In the meantime, heat evoo in a large saute pan and add shallots and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add in rice, and again, saute until translucent (about 3-5 minutes).  Add in white wine and continue to stir until absorbed.  Remember you will be continuously stirring throughout this whole process!  Add in 1/2 cup of broth at a time.  Do not add in the next cup until the cup prior is absorbed completely!!  Stir in pumpkin and chopped sage and season with salt and pepper  At the end of the process, your rice should have a beautiful creamy texture but not mushy.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sarah's Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes!....Vegan Harvest Apple and Raisin Stuffing!

I have been enjoying this recipe every year for my entire life!  I like to call this my Grammy's recipe, and every time I have it, I remember what a great childhood I had growing up with her.  She was truly a little girl's best friend.  Maybe that is why I have such a great mom as well.  Hope I can carry that torch as well.

Anyway, back to the stuffing....first of all, it is not Thanksgiving without.  Secondly, it screams fall with beautiful juicy apples and plump raisins.  This is also a good chance to use up your parsley in your garden before everything starts to freeze up and die (so sad for me).  And lastly, what is great is that you can make this a day or two ahead of time and then bake that day!  We all know how much cooking there is to do for this holiday.  Why not get ahead of the game and start a day early?

Vegan Harvest Apple and Raisin Stuffing!

1 loaf of bread, torn into pieces and let sit overnight
3 c chopped apples
1 c raisins
1 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp evoo
1/2-1 c vegetable broth
1/2 c flat leaf parsley 
2 tbsp thyme
3 tsp paprika
s+p to taste

In a saute pan, heat evoo on medium-high and saute onions, garlic and celery and saute for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent and set aside.  

Bring water to a boil and boil your raisins for about 5 minutes or until they are nice and plump.  

In a bowl, add in torn bread crumbs, sauteed vegetables, plump raisins, apples and seasoning.  Pour in 1/2 c of vegetable broth to start off with.  With your hands, get in there and mix everything together.  If not moist enough, add in a bit more broth until it is all nice and moist, but not overly wet.

When ready to bake, heat oven 350.  Grease your baking dish or casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes!  I hope my Grammy's recipe gives pleasure to many more families!

Sarah's Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes!.......Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Grapes and Candied Walnuts

Yes, I have posted this in the past, but it is an awesome fun and original side dish for Thanksgiving.  I introduced this to the family's Thanksgiving celebration last year and it was a definite win!  It is a brilliant combination between sweet and savory.  And, a far cry from those overly sweet sweet potato and marshmallow smashup!

My favorite part of this recipe are the roasted balsamic grapes!  The acidity of both the grape itself and the vinegar are a terrific match up to the creamy richness of the sweet potato puree.

So have some fun at the Thanksgiving table this year and check out this favorite!

Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Grapes and Candied Walnuts

sweet potato
1/2 tbsp evoo
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp unsweetened, original almond milk
1 c grapes
1/4 c chopped walnuts
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
imitation bacon bits (optional)

Heat oven 375.  Lightly brush sweet potato with evoo, season with salt and pepper and wrap in foil.  Bake sweet potato in oven for about 1 hr.
In a small cup or bowl, whisk together the balsamic and agave nectar.  Drizzle over the grapes and walnuts.  With about 30 minutes left on the sweet potato, place grapes in oven as well and roast for about 25 minutes.  Add in walnuts during the last 5 minutes.  Once done, set walnuts and grapes aside.
Remove the skin of the sweet potato and mash or blend in food processor with vegan butter and almond milk.  Season to taste.
Transfer mash to serving bowl and top with roasted grapes and walnuts. 

Sarah's Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes!....Vegan Creamy Dijon Brussels Sprouts!

Like most people, I NEED to have all of my mom's dishes at Thanksgiving.  I have always been the only veggie growing up in my house,  but not always vegan.  Basically what I have done over the last few years, is to take all of my family's recipes, but make them vegan.  I swear, you cannot even tell.  Heck, my dad (a huge carnivore) had no idea these Brussels sprouts were vegan.  It is simple, in all actuality!  Just replace milk and butter with almond milk and vegan Earth Balance.

So here is one of my favorite items for my vegan Thanksgiving meal:

Vegan Creamy Dijon Brussels Sprouts

12 oz Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut an "X" at the stem
4 tbsp vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c unsweetened, original almond milk
2 tbsp flour
1-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 table lemon juice
s+p to taste

Bring water in a pot to a boil and cook Brussels sprouts for about 4-5 minutes or until they are just tender and are bright green.  Do not over cook!  Drain and set aside.
In a large saute pan, make your roux by melting vegan butter over medium heat and mixing in flour.  Stir frequently until slightly browned.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.  Slowly stir in almond milk and cook until reduced and lightly thickened.  Stir in mustard, lemon juice and seasonings.  Mix until combined and toss in Brussels sprouts.  Coat the brussels sprouts and serve!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Detox Vegan Root Vegetable Qunioa-Kale Salad with Citrus-Tahini Dressing

Fall is truly here.  Temps have dropped, leaves have changed colors and dried leaves are filling the sidewalk.  There is still a small, fun loving child inside of me that really wants to jump into someones nicely raked leaf pile.  Instead, I just like to kick the leaves at Ryan.  Wait a minute, no one actually rakes leaves anymore!  We have machines for that, duh.
So before we start the holiday seasons and overindulge, why not try and eat clean?  This salad is a one stop shop (whatever that means)!  I swear, this is a vegan and non-vegan paradise salad!  Everyone knows the hype around quinoa and kale, along with the nutritional value they hold.  But, lets get rustic with these two ingredients and add some delicious and seasonal parsnips, turnips and carrots (add beets if you have them!).  I will always choose parsnips and turnips over potatoes.  Love the flavor and love the fact that there are less carbs in them as well.

I kind of randomly came up with this dressing, and I am so glad I did!  I want this dressing everyday of my life....seriously!  For now on, I will always have a pre-made jar of this waiting for consumption.

The citrus and tahini go perfectly together.  Subtle, somewhat sweet and nutty and creamy as ever!

Detox Vegan Root Vegetable Qunioa-Kale Salad with Citrus-Tahini Dressing
1 c quinoa
2 c vegetable broth or water
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
1 tightly packed cup of chopped kale
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tbsp evoo
1/2 c tahini
2 medium oranges, juiced
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven 400.    In a bowl, toss carrots, parsnips and turnips in evoo, lightly season with salt and pepper, place in a baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes.
In the meantime, bring your broth or water to a boil, add your quinoa and cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
While quinoa and root vegetables cook, make your dressing.  In a bowl, whisk together tahini, orange juice, agave nectar and lemon juice together until completely smooth.
Once everything is done cooking, toss all components in a large bowl.  Serve warm, room temp or cold!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vegan Minted Pea and Arugula Wonton Raviolis

75 degrees in Chicago in late October!  It's an Indian Summer around here!  But, unfortunately, this lovely weather is coming to an end and true Chicago weather is heading this way (said we a sad face).  I think it is going to get down into the 30's, which means it's time to get all those herbs to use that I have been nurturing for months.  So lets get some of this mint to use!

I have done a pea ravioli before, but this one is much different.  The addition of fresh mint and arugula brings in a spectrum of flavors.  It is peppery, slightly sweet, nutty and savory. 

Yes, I have been on an arugula craze lately.  Sometimes I forget about this leafy green.  But once I buy it, I cannot get enough and wonder why it escapes my grocery list.

 If you are familiar with my blog and recipes, you know that I love to make raviolis with wontons.  It is so much easier and saves so much time.  I also find them easy to handle and pretty light in the belly.  But, it is good to know that they are delicate and do not take more than a few minutes to cook.  If you boil them any longer, you run the risk of them exploding.  And, well that is just sad.

These are also great to make in large quantities and freeze the remaining ones. 

As for the sauce, that is I went for a lemon-vegan butter sauce.  Nice and light!

Vegan Minted Pea and Arugula Wonton Raviolis

1 package of wontons (either square or circle)
1 bag frozen peas, thawed
2 c baby arugula
1 c fresh mint
1/4 c original almond milk
1 tbsp evoo 
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp garlic powder
s+p to taste
egg replacer powder mixed with water


In a blender, blend the peas, arugula, mint, almond milk, evoo and seasons until completely combined.   Adjust seasoning accordingly. 
Set up your egg replacer with water in a bowl and lay out all of your wontons.  With your fingers, wet all the edges of all the wontons.  Take about 3/4-1 tbsp of the mixture and place in center of a wonton.  Place another wonton, with the wet side down and press the edges together until fully sealed.  Repeat until finished.  
Boil water, and cook the raviolis for about 2-3 minutes.  Serve with choice of sauce.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vegan Herbed Tomato Focaccia Bread

Making bread doesn't always have to be a fuss.  And also does not need to take hours!  This is a hassel-free and fairly easy vegan focaccia bread that pairs great with any Italian dish!

You can really add any topping.  I did a mix of dried Italian herbs and sliced tomatoes.  You could also try olives, sundried tomatoes, etc.

Don't worry if the dough doesn't seem firm enough.  It is supposed to be pretty wet and loose to handle.  Add in extra flour to firm it up just a bit, but you still want that loose elasticity.

Vegan Herbed Tomato Focaccia Bread

2 c flour
1 c water
3 tbsp evoo, divided
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven 425.  In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and sea salt.  Stir in water and half the evoo and mix.  On a floured surface, knead dough for a few minutes.  Tranfer dough to an oiled pan, and form dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch think.  With your fingertips, poke in indentations throughout the bread.  Brush the remaining evoo on the top and place sliced tomatoes and herbs on top.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then cut.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Linguine with Vegan Arugula-Pecan Pesto!

If you haven't tried this, it is a must!  It is so freaking easy and quick to make this pesto.  You can literally make it in less than 5 minutes.  Cook the linguine at the same time, and you have a fantastic entree in record time!

I love arugula.  I know that it may not be for everyone because it is distinctly bitter and peppery, making it slightly spicy.  But that is exactly why I love it. 

I love the addition of pecans in this.  If you do not have pecans, try using walnuts instead.  I tend to veer away from the traditional use of pine nuts when making any pesto.  For some reason, pine nuts tastes fishy to me and I cannot stand them.

I like to add in either fresh or oven roasted tomatoes in this dish.  I feel like the acidity of the tomatoes really brightens up the dish.

Linguine with Vegan Arugula-Pecan Pesto

Ingredients: (the pesto makes about 1-1.5 cups)
3 c baby arugula
1/2 c toasted pecans
1/4 c evoo
1/4 c fresh basil
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste 
chopped roasted or fresh tomatoes (optional)

Boil a pot of salted water and cook linguine accordingly.  In the meantime, combine the remaining ingredients (except for the tomatoes) in a blender and blend until blended.  Season to taste.  
Pour pesto sauce of your linguine, add tomatoes.  That's it!!  Bon Appetite!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Healthy Vegan Puree of Asparagus Soup

There really needs to be more fun and tasty asparagus recipes out there.  I feel like this vegetable is pretty underrated.  I love asapargus, raw or cooked.  I can understand why some may not prefer it raw, for it has a slight bitterness to it when not cooked.  But, that immediately goes away after it is steamed.
So, why is asparagus greatly underrated?  First of all, they are low in calories.  Just about 3 calories in each stalk.  It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and is great for heart health and blood sugar regulation.  Not to mention, helps with digestive support and has a noteworthy amount of protein and fiber.

This recipe is awesome because it if so clean and light.  After a big bowl of it, you will still feel light and airy and guilt-free.  The addition of fresh herbs and spinach makes the soup a brilliant and vibrant green color.  And, the best part of the recipe is that all levels of cooks can easily make this.

Healthy Vegan Puree of Asparagus Soup 

2 lb bunch asparagus, dry ends trimmed
3 c vegetable broth
1 c original, unsweetened almond milk
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 c fresh spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp evoo
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp nutmeg
s+p to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place asparagus in the top half of the steamer, cover and steam for about 5-10 minutes.  Time is dependent on the thickness of the asparagus.  You want them to be bright green and tender.  Remove for the pot and set aside.

In a saute pan, heat evoo on med-high heat, and saute garlic and onion for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Add in spinach and cook until wilted.  Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to your blender, add in the steamed asparagus, parsley and vegetable broth and puree until smooth.

In large pot, make a roux by heating butter and slowly stirring in flour.  Continue to stir for about 3 minutes or until browned.  Now slowly stir in almond milk.  Add in the contents that you blended and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegan Dijon-Coconut Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Gratin

 I love all things brussel sprouts.  And 'tis the season for them!  What I love even more is picking them at a farm.  I love how they grow on the stalks.  It just looks so cool and weird! 

Sadly enough the last time we visited a U Pick farm, which was last week, everything was already picked over.  It was a bummer.  Just sad little lonely brussel sprout stalks sitting naked in the field.  I think we only ended up picking a few peppers.  Not really worth the 45 minute drive.  But, deuce did have some fun having some good face to face time with a billy goat and some chickens.  That was well worth the trip!

I honestly can't say I have had a bad brussel sprout dish.  Unlike my last sprout recipe, Chinese Style Brussell sprouts with Exotic Mushrooms, this recipe is going to be more of a comfort dish.  It savory and rich, without the excess calories and fat.  So while it seems decadent and bad for you, it is in fact not at all!

Vegan Dijon-Coconut Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Gratin
 Ingredients (fills a 9x13 casserole dish)

2 lbs brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut into fourths
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 c canned light coconut milk
1 1/2 c unsweetened, original almond milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp evoo, divided
1/2 c seasoned panko crumbs

Preheat oven to 400.  In a pot, boil water and cook quartered brussel sprouts for 4-5 minutes.  Strain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp evoo and saute garlic and onions for about 3 minutes.  Add in mushroom and saute until mushrooms are soft, just a few additional minutes.  Stir in chopped tomatoes, turn off heat and set aside.

In another sauce pan, make your roux by heating vegan butter.  When the butter is hot, whisk in the flour.  Continue to sir until browned a bit.   Now gradually whisk in the coconut milk and almond milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.  Once brought to a boil, lower heat and simmer until thickens.  You want to stir frequently.  Add in nutritional yeast and dijon until everything is combined. 

Add your brussel sprout mixture to the sauce, mix thoroughly, then transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.
In a small bowl, toss together bread crumbs and 1 tbsp evoo, sprinkly over the top and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegan Baked Quinoa and Green Pea "Falafel" with Tahini Goddess Dressing

I have a dry eraser board attached to my refrigerator so I can list recipes to make for the week, or at least for the near future.  This is great for meal planning and grocery shopping planning.  I found this to be a great way for me to budget my shopping and to reduce waste.

I used to go to the grocery store and just grab what is in season and that looks good.  When I did that, I found that I had too much spoiled produce by the end of the week.  This is particularly true when buying too much leafy greens or herbs and not using them quickly enough.  Now I just buy ingredients that I know I need this week.  Saves a few bucks and minimizes food for me!

So, with all that said, this recipe idea has been on my board for far too long, and I have no idea what I was waiting for!  It is fairly simple and offers a great amount of protein due to the peas and quinoa.  I also like this because there are not many pea recipes out there aside from the obvious.  When thinking about this recipe, think about creating a falafel with nontraditional ingredients.

The sauce is your choice, but you cannot go wrong with the tahini goddess dressing!

Vegan Baked Quinoa and Green Pea "Falafel" with Tahini Goddess Dressing

for the Quinoa-Green Pea Falafel:
1 c quinoa
2 c vegetable broth
1 1/2 thawed peas
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp chickpea flour

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small sauce pan, bring the quinoa and broth to a boil, cover and then turn to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Quinoa should still have a very slight crunch to it when done.
In a food processor, combine 1/2 of the cooked quinoa and the remaining ingredients.  Blend for about 30 seconds.  Transfer contents to a bowl and mix in the remainder of the quinoa.  If your mixture seems too wet to form balls at this point, add in another tbsp or two of chickpea flour.  Note, it should still feel a bit wet, but firm enough to form a ball.
Take one heaping spoonful of the mixture and roll into ball.  Continue this until mixture is gone.  I believe I made about 9-10 balls.
Bake in over for 20 minutes, turning balls halfway through.  Remove from oven and serve immediately with your Tahini Goddess Dressing.

for the Tahini Goddess Dressing:
 1/2 c tahini
1/4 c water
3 chopped scallion
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh mint
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vegan Jamaican Jerk Tofu with Coconut and Bean Rice

Yes, Chicago is up there as one of the best foodie cities in America.  I'd love to be able to hit up all the top restaurants here, but there are two main reasons why we do not:  One, I do not have deep enough pockets to afford a $500-$1000 dinner.  And secondly, it is hard to find many places with great, veggie options that are something different than an old salad.  I could only hope more and more vegan friendly restaurants will pop up in the next few years.

This is a fun recipe because the flavors are so unique and different from what I usually cook.  The Jamaican jerk sauce that I concocted is simply to die for!  It's tangy, sweet, a bit sour and a bit salty.  It's mouthwatering and probably drinkable.

The rice is a beautiful accompaniment.  It is creamy and has a nice, smooth texture to it due to the coconut milk.  I used 1/2 can of light coconut milk and 1/2 vegetable broth to cook the rice in.  The balance was perfect!

Vegan Jamaican Jerk Tofu with Coconut and Bean Rice

for the Jamaican Jerk Tofu:

1 package extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces and drained thoroughly
3 green chiles (I used Anaheim chiles)
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 tbsp allspice
1 tsp cayenne papper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme

Preheat your home grill, George Foreman, or whatever your choice of grill is.  In a blender, combine all ingredients except for the tofu.  Blend until completely combined.  Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Before brushing on the sauce, make sure each piece of tofu has been pressed with paper towels to remove excess liquid.  Brush jerk sauce on all sides of each piece of tofu.  Place on the grill and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes.  Make sure you get those beautiful grill marks on them.  Remove and serve with coconut and bean rice!  Don't forget to save excess sauce for dipping!

for the Vegan Coconut and Bean Rice

1 c white rice or rice of choice
1 c light coconut milk
1 c vegetable broth
1/2 can black beans, rinsed 
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tbsp evoo
salt to taste
2-3 scallions, chopped

Heat evoo in a medium saucepan and saute scallions and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add in rice and beans and continue to saute for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in coconut milk and vegetable broth, bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, season to taste and serve!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vegan Mediterranean Couscous Stuffed Peppers with Vegan 3 Herbed Tzatziki

Like I mentioned before, I was a server at a Turkish restaurant in Madison all through my college years.  This is when I really fell in love with that cuisine.  Of course the hummus was to die for.  But what I loved about some of the dishes was the incorporation of sweet and savory in the main dishes.  For example, apricots played a big part in sauces used for a stuffed chicken breast.  Of course, I never tried the chicken, but clearly had to taste the sauce.  It was amazing!  Dried fruit was also used in a beautiful aromatic rice to go with entrees as well.

Sadly enough, this establishment is no longer there.  But, I hope I pay homage to those flavors that sang brilliantly in those dishes.

Remember there are 3 varieties of couscous:  Moroccan couscous, Israeli couscous and Lebanese couscous.  Here, we are using Moroccan couscous, which are tiny grains of semolina.  This type cooks quite quickly (about 10 minutes)!

 Because I love sauce, (and I mean I LOVE) sauce, I chose to accompany this vibrant stuffed pepper with a 3 herb vegan tzatziki sauce.  You can also make it in a more traditional manner, but I have so many herbs outside, I have to use them before the real cold weather comes.  So, if you are like me, use your mint, parsley and basil in this vegan yogurt-cucumber sauce.

Vegan Mediterranean Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
2 bell peppers, lids chopped and and seeds removed
1 c dry Moroccan couscous
2 c vegetable broth
10 halved roasted cherry tomatoes (or just fresh tomatoes)
1/2 c dried fruits (ie- apricots, prunes, apples)
1/4 c chopped artichoke hearts (not marinated)
1/4 c chopped Spanish green olives
1 handful of fresh parsely, chopped
3 tbsp chopped scallions
1 tbsp evoo
1 lemon juiced
s+p to taste
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven 400.  In a pot, bring vegetable broth to a boil, add in couscous, turn to low and simmer for just about 8-10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Transfer couscous to a mixing bowl, and add in all of the ingredients.  Mix well, season to taste and stuff the peppers.  Place in oven for about 45 minutes.  Serve with vegan tzatziki sauce.

for the vegan tzatziki:
1/2 c vegan unflavored and unsweetened yogurt
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped basil
1 garlic clove minced

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt to taste.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vegan Beet Raviolis with a Vegan Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I think I have been wanting to try this recipe of mine for about a year now.  And man, do I wish I would have made this a lot sooner.  Similar to my Sweet Pea Ravioli recipe, the raviolis are made with wonton wrappers that I cut out into circles.  I feel like using the wrappers make the raviolis so much lighter and you are really able to taste every element of the filling.
 Speaking of the filling...the mixture of the creamy homemade tofu ricotta and the pulsed earthy yet sweet beets with sauteed garlic and scallions is simply killer!  Beets are one of those root vegetables that are incredibly versatile.  You can really go any route with them....sweet, savory, name it. 

Granted this is a pretty hands one and technical recipe, but it sure pays off!  Make sure you have a good amount of time to execute the raviolis.  Remember it usually takes about an hour to bake the beet.  Although, you could always do this ahead of time! 

Luckily my herb garden is still thriving despite the cooler weather we have been having.  The parsely, mint and sage is out of control!  I feel like there are not too many recipes where you can use sage, but I knew a brown butter sage sauce would be an awesome pair with the ravioli.  I added a little bit of fresh lemon juice in the sauce, which really brightened the dish up!

Vegan Beet Raviolis with a Vegan Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients/Directions for the beet raviolis:

1 large beet
2 garlic cloves minced
2 scallions chopped
1-2 tbsp evoo
1 package of wontons (preferably the circular ones so that you do not have to cut them)

Preheat oven 400.  Lightly oil the beet, cover in aluminum foil and bake the beet for about 1 hour or until a knife goes smoothly through.  Let the beet cool in order to handle.  Put on plastic chef gloves, or just cover your hands with a plastic baggy and gently rub off the skin (this will keep your hands clear of the red dye!)

With your food processor, pulse the beets until completely shredded, but not pureed.  Add in vegan ricotta and continue to pulse until completely combine.  Season to taste and set aside.

Now set up your ravioli making station.  You will want to have a little bowl of water to "glue" the wontons together, and have a bunch of wrappers lined up for easy making.  Take about 1/2-2/3 tbsp of the filling and place in the center of one wonton.  Wet your fingers in the water and brush the outter layer of the wonton.  Do the same on the other wonton that you will be using to close the ravioli.  Now gently place the second wonton on the first and press down to close.  Pick up and make sure the ravioli is sealed on all sides.  Repeat until raviolis are gone or filling is gone.  

To boil, boil water and cook the raviolis for just 3-4 minutes.

Ingredients/Directions for the vegan brown butter sage sauce:

3-4 tbsp vegan butter
8 sage leaves
1/2 lemon juiced 

In a saute pan, heat vegan butter over medium heat and continue cooking until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in sage leaves and lemon juice and cook for an additional minute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over those delicious beet raviolis!