Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time Out

Hi Folks, just wanted to let you know this blog is taking a short break.  I'll be back after Christmas with more recipes, plus thoughts & photos on eating vegan along the Caribbean coast of Mexico.  Wishing all my readers a happy December filled with friends, family, good food, rest, and/or adventures.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sauteed Yams with Garlic and Cayenne

I made these for Thanksgiving as kind of an afterthought, but they turned out to be my favorite part of the meal. I'll take spicy yams over marshmallow-covered ones any day.

The Ingredients:
3 T olive oil or margarine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lbs yams, cut in bite-size pieces
pinch cayenne
pinch salt

The Process:
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute about 2 minutes.
  2. Add yams, raise heat to medium-high, sprinkle with cayenne and salt, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened (about 15-20 minutes, depending on how soft you like them).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Maple-Marinated Stuffed Tofu Cubes

These were a pretty addition to my Thanksgiving feast, and they require next to no time to prepare.  Freezing the tofu gives it a spongy texture and allows you to extract more water from the tofu.

The Ingredients:
1 block firm tofu, frozen, then thawed
3/4 c stuffing
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c vegetable broth
2 T vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t onion powder
a pinch cayenne

The Process:
  1. Squeeze as much water as you can from the tofu while still keeping it in tact. Cut tofu into four cubes. Use a small spoon or apple corer to hollow out the middle of each cube to within 1/4 inch of the cube's bottom.
  2. Combine syrup, broth, oil, garlic, onion powder, and cayenne, and pour this mixture over the tofu.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, then drain.
  3. Spoon stuffing into the hollow of each cube, and bake at about 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tofu is golden.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I was determined to keep this year's Thanksgiving meal modest since I was only cooking for me and my husband, but it ended up being a feast big enough to serve 8. Oh well, now I won't have to cook for the next week.  Pictured are mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, stir-fried yams with cayenne and garlic, stuffed tofu, wine-braised green beans and crimini mushrooms, and walnut and lentil dressing.  We also had cranberry sauce from a can, which I for some reason consider a Thanksgiving essential, and later we'll enjoy this gorgeous apple cranberry pie that my husband made:

I'll be posting some of the recipes from this dinner over the next few days.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, this meal was Jasper-approved, though at first he was skeptical about whether he was allowed to eat it:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chocolate Syrup

Homemade chocolate syrup tastes far superior to the store-bought kind, and it's nice to be able to adjust the chocolate-to-sugar ratio to match your individual preference.  This lasts at least a few weeks (probably longer) in the fridge, and is great for chocolate milk, ice cream topping, or spooning directly into your mouth.

The Ingredients:
1 c water
1 1/3 c powdered sugar
1 c cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
2 t vanilla

The Process:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk cocoa and salt into water until simmering and lump-free.
  2. Whisk in powdered sugar and continue to cook at a low simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Store syrup in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coconut Coffee Muffins

These muffins offer a hit of caffeine and the light crunch of toasted coconut.  Plus they're round and cute.

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T arrowroot
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
3/4 c coconut milk (canned, not low fat)
3/4 c brewed coffee
1/3 c almond milk
1 T vanilla
2 t instant coffee granules
3/4 t coconut extract (optional, for stronger coconut flavor)
1 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut, toasted until golden-brown

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, coffee, almond milk, extracts, and instant coffee.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in toasted coconut.
  5. Pour into lightly-oiled muffin tins, and bake about 17-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Remove from pan and cool on a baking rack.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grasshopper Brownies

You can't go wrong with mint and chocolate together, so I covered these brownies in minty icing.  The mint in this case comes from creme de menthe, but if you want a non-alcoholic version you could use a little peppermint extract mixed with soy milk.

The Ingredients:
6 oz. silken tofu
1/2 c margarine (room temperature)
1/2 c almond milk
1 T vanilla
2 c flour
1 3/4 c sugar
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
3/4 c chocolate chips

1/2 c margarine
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c creme de menthe
3-3 1/2 c powdered sugar

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend tofu, margarine, almond milk, and vanilla until very smooth.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter in an oiled 9x13 pan, and bake about 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Let brownies cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make icing.  Beat together margarine, shortening, and creme de menthe. Beat in powdered sugar at high speed, adding sugar in 1/2 cup increments until icing is thick and fluffy.
  8. Top cooled brownies with icing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Polenta "Muffins"

It might be cheating to use these for a muffin post since they're more of a main course, but I needed a little break from all the baked goods. I made the polenta following the "Soft Broccoli Polenta" recipe from Appetite for Reduction.  After the polenta was cooked, I scooped it into oiled muffin tins, topped it with some sliced seitan, and broiled it at 475 degrees for about 8 minutes.  These were creamy and delicious, and cute to boot.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chocolate Avocado Cake

The fat in this cake and its icing comes from avocados.  This was my first time trying avocado in a cake and I was pleased with the moist, fluffy texture of the cake.  The icing is incredibly rich, so you may want to just use part of it and set some of it aside for another purpose.

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
2 c almond milk
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c applesauce
1 medium avocado, mashed or food processed until smooth
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T vanilla

2 medium avocados
2 t lemon juice
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
3-4 c powdered sugar

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining cake ingredients.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, pour into 2 8-inch round cake pans, and bake about 36-42 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Let cake cool for a few minutes before removing from pans, then cool completely on a baking rack.
  6. Meanwhile, make icing: with a hand mixer, beat together avocado and lemon juice until smooth.  Add cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, and 1 c of powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth.  Beat in remaining powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments until icing is as thick as you prefer.
  7. To assemble cake, top one cooled cake round with about 1/2 the icing, place remaining cake round on top, and spread with remaining icing.  I left the sides of this cake bare because the icing is so rich.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Muffins

First of all, much thanks to my readers and fellow mofoers for taking the time to read my blog and offer your kind and encouraging comments.  I've had a lot of fun with Mofo this year and came up with some recipes I'm pretty proud of.  I've also loved reading my fellow vegan bloggers' posts over on the Vegan Mofo site and in my wonderfully overcrowded Google Reader.  The innovative recipes, gorgeous photos, and spirit of fun I see on other vegan blogs continues to inspire me.

Now that Mofo is ending I won't  be posting daily anymore, but you can expect to hear from me a couple times a week.  For now, my plan is to keep muffin Mondays and dessert Fridays going for awhile.  I also want to start trying out some of the many recipes from other bloggers that I've starred in my Google Reader this month.  And now on to the food:

These muffins were my first foray into gluten-free baking.  (I have no problem with gluten, but I'm all for variety.)  They turned out pretty good; a little crumblier than regular muffins, but nice and tall.  These aren't very sweet so if you have a sweet tooth you'll probably want to add a little more sugar.

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 c gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill all purpose gf flour)
1/2 c sugar
1 T arrowroot or egg replacer
1 T baking powder
3/4 t xanthan gum
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 c almond milk
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 t almond extract
1 c dried cherries
1 c roasted unsalted almonds, roughly chopped

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, arrowroot, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
  3. Stir in almond milk, oil, and extracts.
  4. Fold in cherries and almonds.
  5. Pour into lightly-oiled muffin tins and bake about 20 minutes.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pear Spice Cake

This is a basic agave-sweetened spice cake, with a layer of pears on the bottom, top, and sides.  It's simple but pretty.

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 c almond milk
2/3 c agave nectar
1/3 c oil
2 t vanilla
2 pears, thinly sliced

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Arrange 1/2 the pears on the bottom and sides of a lightly oiled 9" springform pan.
  3. Whisk together wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, then pour wet into dry and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour cake batter over pears, and arrange remaining pears on top.
  5. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Update: you may want to put a cookie sheet or piece of foil on the rack beneath the cake while baking, as a small amount of juice from the pears may leak out during cooking.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crispy Sweet & Sour Seitan

This has more steps than most stir-fries, but I think it's worth the extra effort on occasion.  I love the crispiness of the battered seitan, but if you want to save time or lower the fat content, you can skip that step and just toss the seitan in when you cook the peppers and onions.

The Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers, in thin strips
1/2 a medium yellow onion, sliced

1/2 c water
2 1/2 T rice vinegar
2 T + 1 t sugar
1 T soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 T ketchup
2 t molasses
3/4 t finely-grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 scant T cornstarch, mixed with 2 T water
optional: 1/2 t chili paste or red pepper flakes

Crispy seitan:
1 lb seitan, cut in strips
1/2 c cornstarch
1/4 cup water
oil for frying

The Process:
  1. To make the sauce, combine everything except the cornstarch/water mixture in a small saucepan over low heat, and cook until sugar melts.  Stir in cornstarch/water mixture, remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. To make crispy seitan, whisk together cornstarch and water, and toss in seitan to coat.  Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook seitan (in batches if necessary to avoid crowding pan), stirring occasionally, until golden and very crispy, about 5 minutes.  Remove seitan from oil and set on paper towels or a flattened paper bag to drain.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry peppers and onions in about 1 T of oil over high heat until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add sauce, lower heat to medium, and continue cooking until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Toss in seitan.  Serve over soba or udon noodles.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pesto Polenta Lasagna

I usually make my polenta from scratch, but sometimes those tubes of pre-made polenta come in handy for throwing together a last-minute dinner.  This recipe is a good one to play around with, changing the filling and sauce to suit your tastes or to use up whatever you happen to have in your fridge.

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups pesto
1 tube polenta, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
1 head cauliflower, divided
1/2 pound seitan, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 T nutritional yeast
2 T flour
1/2 c almond milk
a handful mozerella style soy cheese, shredded

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Prepare the cauliflower ricotta.  (This gives the dish some structure and keeps it from being runny.)  In a blender or food processor, pulse together 1/2 the cauliflower with the flour, nutritional yeast, and almond milk.  Don't try to get out all the chunks, but do aim for more creamy than chunky.  Chop the remaining cauliflower into half-inch pieces.
  3. Assemble the lasagna in an oiled 8-inch square baking dish.  Layer half the polenta in the bottom of the dish.  Top with half the cauliflower and seitan pieces, then half the ricotta, then half the pesto.  Repeat the cauliflower/seitan, ricotta, and pesto layers, and top with the second half of the polenta.  Cover and bake 35 minutes.
  4. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake 10 more minutes.  Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Seitan Improv

I adore seitan, but can't stomach paying for it at the supermarket, so every couple months I spend a Saturday morning making up a big batch of it to stock my freezer.  While there is no dearth of seitan recipes on the internet, I don't really follow a recipe for it, instead following a basic wet-to-dry ingredient ratio and playing with the seasonings depending on what I have on hand.    Here's my rough guide to how to make your own improvised seitan.

Basic Ingredients:
1 1/4 c wheat gluten (sometimes I substitute garbanzo flour for 1/4 cup of the gluten)
1 c liquid (some combination of: broth, water, soy sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce)
2-3 T oil
2-3 T nutritional yeast
a couple T spices (broth powder, thyme, sage, red pepper, black pepper, salt, onion powder, minced onion, garlic, oregano, fennel, etc.)
optional: 1/3-1/2 c mashed beans

Making the Dough:
Mix together dry and wet ingredients separately. Add wet ingredients into dry and knead together until just combined.  (Knead it longer for a chewier texture, but keep in mint this will also make the dough more difficult to shape.)

The basic shapes I make are cutlet/patty, sausage links, and loaves.

For patties, form 2-3 T of dough into a ball and flatten.

For sausage links, spread 1/4 c of dough into a tube shape on a piece of aluminum foil and roll up tightly, twisting the ends of the foil closed.
seitan sausages in steamer basket

 For loaves, spread dough in a loaf shape on a piece of aluminum foil (if baking) or cheesecloth (if simmering), roll up tightly, and pinch or tie off the ends.
uncooked loaf

You can also make blob-shaped chunks by simply breaking off pieces of dough and not shaping them.  These are good in soups or stews.

Some people like to simmer seitan in broth or in seasoned or plain water.  This creates the most moist, spongy texture.  I almost never cook my seitan this way, but if you go this route, cook unshaped chunks 30-40 minutes or a cheesecloth-wrapped loaf for 60-70 minutes.

Baking is my preferred method for loaves.  Baking results in a firm texture good for slicing into sandwich "meat."  Bake the loaf (wrapped tightly in foil) at 325 for about 1 1/2 hour (more or less, depending on how fat the loaf is).  Let cool before unwrapping.

For patties and sausage links, I typically cook by steaming.  Place patties on squares of foil or waxed paper to prevent sticking, and wrap sausage links tightly in foil as described in the "shaping" section above.  Steam patties about 30 minutes, links about 40 minutes.  Let sausage links cool before unwrapping.

Storing & Using:
I freeze whole and half loaves in ziplock bags for up to a few months, and thaw on the counter.  The loaf can either be cooked again in a recipe, or sliced and used as "lunch meat" for sandwiches.
baked seitan loaf

For sausage links and patty shapes, freeze on a cookie sheet in one layer before putting in ziplock bags, so they don't stick together.  Both patties and links can be reheated in a skillet, in the oven, or on a grill.
sausage-style breakfast patties
sausage-style link

For chunks cooked in broth, either remove from broth and freeze portions in ziplocks, or freeze in the broth for use in soups and stews.

Have fun improvising!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple & Spice Muffins

These muffins are really good for breakfast or dessert with a glass of almond milk; you can also make an 8" square cake with this recipe.

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t nutmeg
3/4 c applesauce
1/2 c water
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla
1/2 c raisins
1 large apple, diced

Crumb Topping:
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c rolled oats
1 T melted margarine
1 T flour
2 t cinnamon

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Crumble together topping ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Stir in oil, vanilla, applesauce, and water.  Fold in raisins and chopped apple.
  4. Pour batter into well-oiled muffin tins, and sprinkle crumb topping on each muffin.
  5. Bake 22-25 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes before removing from tins.

Friday, October 21, 2011

S'mores Cake

It took some effort to come up with a cake whose decadence could match last week's  Caramel Coffee Cake, but I believe this S'mores cake fits the bill.

The Ingredients:
1 c flour
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c almond milk
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla
4 graham cracker sheets, broken in small pieces

2 graham cracker sheets, broken in pieces
about 1 c marshmallows (I used Dandies)

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (Sift if your cocoa has a lot of clumps.)
  3. Add almond milk, oil, and vanilla, and stir until combined.
  4. Fold in graham cracker pieces.
  5. Pour into an oiled 9-inch round cake pan, and bake about 26-28 minutes or until cooked through.  At this point, you can either let the cake cool and de-pan it onto a cookie sheet before proceeding, or if you're impatient as I was go ahead an top it and eat it hot out of the cake pan.
  6. Sprinkle marshmallows and graham cracker pieces on top of the cake, and put it under the broiler for a minute or two, turning if needed to brown the marshmallows evenly, keeping a close eye on it to make sure the marshmallows don't burn.
  7. Best served while topping is still warm.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Garlicky Greens and Spaghetti Squash

This was my first experiment with the oddity that is spaghetti squash.  I found it fun to cook, and it really does come out looking like noodles.  I think you could also make a pretty tasty pasta dish by subbing spaghetti for the spaghetti squash in this recipe.

The Ingredients:
1 medium spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs)
4 c (packed) chopped kale (or your favorite greens)
3-4 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 t chili paste
splash lemon juice

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 375, then place the squash (whole) in the oven and bake about 1 hour or until soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.
  2. Let squash cool for 15-20 minutes before handling.
  3. Halve squash, discard seeds, and scoop out flesh.
  4. In a wok or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic and chili paste, stirring, for about 2 minutes.  Add greens and cook 2-3 more minutes, then toss in squash and cook, stirring, until heated through.  Toss with a splash of lemon juice before serving.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maple Glazed Tempeh, Squash, and Brussels Sprouts

I thought I didn't like brussels sprouts, until I tried them baked in sweet/spicy maple sauce.  This is warm and autumny, and would make a good Thanksgiving dish.  Just keep in mind that unless you have mad knife skills and way sharper knives than I've got, the acorn squash takes some time to prepare, so don't try to make this when you're in a hurry.  The tempeh tastes best if you marinate it at least overnight, or up to 24 hours in advance.

The Ingredients
16 oz. tempeh, cut in 1-1 1/2 inch pieces (I prefer triangles, because they look fancier.)
1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
1 medium acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 3/4 inch cubes.

1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c maple syrup
1 T apple cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 t cayenne

The Process:

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients.  Place tempeh in a container, pour marinade over it, and refrigerate up to 24 hours, shaking occasionally to coat the tempeh.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.  Toss together all ingredients (including the marinade) in an oiled Dutch oven or casserole dish.
  3. Bake covered 40 minutes, stirring a few times.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mason Jar Love

It's a pet peeve of mine that most spice jars have lids or necks that are too small to admit my measuring spoons.  I also get annoyed when I'm in the middle of a recipe and I can't find the spice I need on a messy shelf.  I solved both problems when I discovered that 4-ounce mason jars are just short enough to fit in my silverware drawer.  I labelled the lids and arranged them in alphabetical rows so I can always find what I'm looking for.  They are easy to decant into and measure from, I can take them to the co-op and measure bulk spices right into them, and I can easily see when something is running low so I don't run out.

In my kitchen, mason jars also serve a lot of other purposes. I use them for canning, or course, but I also use the smallest ones to serve dips or condiments; larger ones for drinking glasses and leftover storage; and quart and 1/2 gallon ones for storing dry goods in the pantry.  Basically, I love them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shortcut Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

These muffins are super fast to make because they use Bisquick as a base.  It's kind of cheating, but if you just want muffins, stat, it will do the job.

The Ingredients:
2 1/3 c Bisquick
1/3 c sugar
2/3 c almond milk
1 1/3 c pureed strawberries
1 t vanilla
(optional: 1/2-1 t strawberry extract for a stronger strawberry flavor)
12 whole strawberries, tops removed

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Stir together everything but the whole strawberries.
  3. Fill lightly-oiled muffin tins, and bake about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool on a baking rack, and serve with a strawberry atop each muffin.  (You could try spooning strawberry jam on top if you don't have fresh berries.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Caramel Coffee Cake

This is my new favorite cake.  I made it with decaf so I could eat it at night, but now I'm thinking I should have made it with regular coffee so I'd have an excuse to eat it for breakfast. (Note: the cake looks sunken in the photo because it's on a concave platter; it actually rose perfectly.)

The Ingredients:
1 c sugar
1/2 c strongly brewed coffee
1/2 c almond milk
1/3 c oil
1 t vanilla
1 2/3 c flour
2 T cornstarch
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T instant coffee granules

Caramel Sauce:
1/3 c margarine
2/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c almond milk
2 t cornstarch
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk together sugar, coffee, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining cake ingredients.  
  4. Whisk dry ingredients into wet until just combined.
  5. Pour into an oiled 9-inch round cake pan, and bake for about 35 minutes.
  6. Cool on a baking rack for a few minutes before removing from pan.  When cake is cool, make caramel sauce:
  7. Whisk cornstarch into almond milk.
  8. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together margarine, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Bring to a boil, then add almond milk/cornstarch mixture and continue to cook at a low boil for 3 minutes.  Let cool for a couple minutes before drizzling sauce over cake.  Any leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave to use as ice cream topping.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bean and Sweet Potato Stir Fry with Spicy Orange Sauce

This meal was a delicious way to use up the last of the cherry tomatoes from my garden.  I microwaved the potatoes before stir-frying them so they would cook through faster; if you have time to spare or don't want to microwave, just fry the potatoes longer.  I served this over whole wheat couscous.

The Ingredients:
2 pounds sweet potatoes (peeled if non-organic)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 1/2 cups black beans
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans

1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c water
3 T orange marmalade
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 T sherry
1 T rice vinegar
1 1/2 t cornstarch
1 t tarragon

The Process:
  1. Pierce potatoes with a knife, then microwave 4-5 minutes on high.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. Cut potatoes in a 1/2 inch dice.
  4. In a wok over medium heat, fry garlic and onion until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add potatoes, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring constantly, 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked through.
  6. Add beans and tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
  7. Add sauce, reduce heat to low, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  8. Serve over couscous or your favorite grain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Cheesy" Potatoes and Broccoli

There's nothing quite like a bowl of creamy potatoes on a cold winter day.  Granted it is neither cold nor winter here, but they still taste good.  The broccoli is a nod at making these healthier, though they are by no means health food.

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 c almond milk
1 c nutritional yeast
3/4 c raw cashews
1/2 cup Vegenaise
2 T miso
1 T arrowroot
2 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t black pepper
3 pounds potatoes, chopped in bite-sized pieces
4 cups broccoli florets

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a blender, pulse the cashews to a fine powder, then add everything except the broccoli and potatoes and blend until smooth.
  3. Toss broccoli and potatoes with sauce in an oiled 9x13 pan, and bake about 50 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through, stirring a few times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leftover Makeovers

I usually cook in batches, partly because I like having leftovers for lunches and partly because I am my mother's daughter and thus culturally/genetically predisposed to making way too much food for any occasion.  After a couple meals of the same food, however, I get bored and want something new.  These are a few of my methods for giving my leftovers a makeover so they seem fresh again.

I think stuffed peppers are the perfect way to use up grain and bean leftovers.  The peppers have a bold enough flavor that they make the leftovers taste like a completely new meal.  To prepare, cut the tops off of bell peppers, pull out the seeds, cram the leftovers inside, and bake in a 350-375 degree oven until heated through.

I like to make temaki (sushi cones) out of vegetable leftovers (pictured is spaghetti squash and kale).  A sheet of nori adds flavor and minerals, and also turns any food into finger food.  To assemble, spread leftovers diagonally across a sheet of nori, and roll it into a cone.  Dampen the edge and press it down to help the roll hold together.

This one is pretty obvious, but lots of leftover dinners make good burrito fillings.

Lentils and chili are two of my favorite baked potato toppings.

If all else fails, most dogs are happy to help use up leftovers.  My dog Jasper is a vegetable fiend and in addition to leftovers, will gladly compost my carrot tops, zucchini ends, and any green beans I'm willing to throw his way.  I figure as long as I avoid giving him anything that might be toxic to dogs, like onions and chocolate, eating some vegan leftovers is a healthy addition to his diet, and can save me a little money on dog food.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apricot Brazil Nut Muffins

I've always loved putting apricots and brazil nuts together in trail mix, so I figured it would also be a good combination in muffins.  You could also replace out the apricots with peaches.  These muffins get REALLY tall and I was a little worried they'd collapse, but they came out pretty much perfect.

The Ingredients:
2 1/2 c flour
1 T arrowroot or egg replace powder
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 1/4 c almond milk
3/4 c apricot jam
1/3 c oil
2 T sugar
2 t vanilla
1 c dried chopped dried apricots
3/4 c chopped brazil nuts

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Whisk together flour, arrowroot, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together almond milk, jam, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and beat until just combined.
  5. Fold in nuts and apricots.
  6. Scoop into oiled muffin tins, and bake for about 20-24 minutes.
  7. Let cool a few minutes before removing from muffin tins, then cool completely on a baking rack.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

I finally got a bundt pan; this recipe was my first time using it.  I also used lemons fresh off my tree, which doubled the fun.

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 c sugar
2/3 c oil
2 c almond milk
1/4 c lemon juice
1 T + 1 t (packed) lemon zest
2 t vanilla
3 1/4 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 T arrowroot or egg replacer powder
1 t salt
12 oz. blueberries, partially thawed if frozen
2 T cornstarch

3/4 c powdered sugar
1 T + 1 t almond milk
1 T + 1 t lemon juice

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, almond milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together  flour, baking powder, arrowroot, and salt.
  4. In a third bowl, toss blueberries with cornstarch.
  5. Whisk dry ingredients into wet, then fold in blueberries.
  6. Pour into an oiled 10-inch bundt pan, and bake for about 65-75 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate or cookie sheet. Allow to cool completely, then whisk together glaze ingredients and pour glaze over cake.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cucumber Walnut Stir Fry

Cucumbers are good for more than just salad!  I created this recipe to showcase my home-grown cucumbers; if you're not lucky enough to have cucs in your garden this time of year, move to California.  Or file this recipe away for next summer, whichever you think is best.

The Ingredients:
3 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise if desired, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
olive oil

3 T mirin
2 T + 1 t white balsamic vinegar
3/4 t cornstarch

The Process:
  1. Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Over low heat, cook the garlic with a splash of olive oil in a wok or very large skillet for 2 minutes.
  3. Add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly, 2 more minutes.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high, add cucumbers, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.
  5. Add sauce and cook 1 minute.
  6. Add green onion and cook 1 more minute.
  7. Serve over your favorite cooked grain; I think quinoa goes well with this.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lentil Chili with Chorizo and Kale

This isn't elegant, but it is quick, tasty, and filling.

The Ingredients:
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
a dash olive oil
12 oz. soy chorizo
2 c. lentils
1/2c barley
6 c. water
2 c. vegetable broth
1 t chili powder
a pinch salt
4 c. sliced, loosely packed kale

The Process:
  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chorizo and cook, stirring, 3 more minutes.
  3. Add lentils, barley, broth, water, chili powder, and salt. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in kale and continue to cook, covered, for 10 more minutes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Tip: lighter hummus and pesto

Hummus and pesto are two of my favorite foods, but they can both be pretty calorie dense with all that oil. Replacing out part of the olive oil in these foods makes them lower-calorie and also gives them a fluffier texture that works well for dipping or spreading on a sandwich.

My favorite hummus recipe these days:
2 1/2 c cooked garbanzo beans
6 green olives
1/2 t salt (less if using canned beans)
4 cloves garlic
1/3 c tahini
1 T + 1 t sesame oil
3 T olive oil
about 1/2 c vegetable broth

Combine everything in a food processor and blend until very smooth, adding the vegetable broth in batches to reach the desired consistency.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Loaded Corn Muffins

These muffins are a satisfying side dish or a fine light lunch along with a salad.  Makes 12 muffins.

The Ingredients:
1 1/4 c cornmeal
3/4 c flour
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
2 t arrowroot or egg replacer powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 c soy milk
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
3/4 c shelled edamame (thawed if frozen)
1 c finely chopped red pepper
2 finely chopped green onions (both white and green parts)

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, arrowroot, and salt.
  3. Stir in soy milk and olive oil until just combined.
  4. Fold in corn, edamame, pepper, and onion.
  5. Pour into oiled muffin tins and bake 18-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Remove from pan and cool on a baking rack.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vegan MOFO is coming

One week until Vegan MOFO commences.  I'm aiming to post every weekday during October, with daily themes as follows:
Mondays: muffins & quick breads
Tuesdays: tips/techniques
Wednesdays: one-dish meals
Thursdays: stir-fries
Fridays: cakes

I'll be inventing all-new recipes for MOFO, so there are bound to be some surprises and misadventures, but that's all part of the fun.  I'm looking forward to seeing the internet bombarded with vegan recipes; tune in next Monday to watch the good times begin!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tempeh and Green Beans in Spicy Garlic Sauce

This was a spur of the moment invention because I had tempeh and green beans in the fridge that I needed to use up, but it turned out awesome—I'll definitely be making it again.

The Ingredients
2 8-oz. packages tempeh, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half if large
1 head garlic, minced or crushed
olive oil for frying

1/2 c + 2 T vegetable broth
2 T hoisin sauce
2 T sweet chili sauce (the pink kind with red flecks of chili peppers in it)
1 T rice vinegar
1 1/4 t cornstarch

The Process
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer, immerse the tempeh in it, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. While tempeh is simmering, whisk together all sauce ingredients.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wok over low heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove tempeh from water.  Add tempeh and green beans to garlic, raise heat to medium-high, and continue to cook for 9-10 minutes, stirring, adding olive oil if it starts to stick.
  4. Add sauce, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 2 more minutes.  Serve with noodles or rice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Cake

This is not really a cheesecake, but rather a cake dressed up in a cheesecake costume.  It added some decadence to my husband's 30th birthday celebration (actually, the cake pretty much WAS the celebration, and a good one at that).  Happy birthday, babe.

The Ingredients:
8 oz "cream cheese" (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
1/3 c margarine, room temperature
4 1/3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
3/4 t lemon zest

2 1/4 c flour
1 T + 1 t cornstarch
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/4 c sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c margarine
1 T vanilla
1 T lemon juice
1 1/2 c almond milk

1 1/2 21-oz. cans cherry pie filling (or an equivalent amount of homemade filling would be even better)
8 graham cracker sheets, crushed

The Process:

For the icing:

  1. Beat together cream cheese, margarine, lemon zest, and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar in batches and beat at high speed until very smooth.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together sugar, cream cheese, margarine, vanilla, and lemon juice until very smooth, then add the almond milk and beat until just combined. 
  4. Add the flour mixture to the cream cheese mixture in batches and beat until incorporated.
  5. Divide batter between 2 well-greased 9-inch round cake pans, and bake for about 40 minutes or until the edges of the cake start to pull away from the pans.
  6. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pans, then continue to cool on a baking rack.  Don't assemble until the cake is completely cool.
To assemble:
  1. Place the bottom cake layer on a plate or serving tray.  Spread a thin layer of icing on top to keep the cherry filling from bleeding into the cake, then pipe some icing around the perimeter of this area to keep the cherries from oozing out the sides.  Add about 3/4 can of pie filling within the icing perimeter.  Top with 2nd layer of cake.
  2. Ice the edges of the cake.
  3. Ice the top of the cake, again piping an icing perimeter to hold in the cherries. Spread on the remaining 3/4 can of cherries.
  4. Press the graham cracker crumbs into the sides of the cake.  My method for this was basically to smash them in by the handful, which proved messy but effective.
  5. Store in the refrigerator unless your kitchen is very cool—the icing will melt in warm temperatures (as I learned trying to ice the cake in a 95 degree kitchen, thus the droopiness evidenced in the photo).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lemon Poppyseed Smoothie

I adore lemon poppyseed muffins, but I almost never make them.  This smoothie hits the major flavor points of the muffins but is healthier and only takes about 2 minutes to make.

The Ingredients:
2 c almond milk
1 banana
1 scoop protein powder
3-4 T rolled oats
1 T peanut butter
2 t ground flax
1/2 t lemon extract (or substitute about 1/2 T lemon zest)
2 1/2 t poppyseeds
1 pinch cinnamon

The Process:
Toss it all in a blender & blend until smooth.  I make it the night before and let it sit in the fridge in a mason jar overnight.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Waffles

These waffles offer all the pleasure of a cinnamon roll, without the hassle of yeast dough.  I ate them plain because there's only so much sugar I can handle in the morning, but I dare you to drizzle some powdered-sugar icing on top.

The Ingredients:
3/4 c raisins
3 c flour
2 T baking powder
2 T arrowroot
1 t salt
3 c + 2 T almond milk
1 T vanilla
2 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 c (packed) brown sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) margarine, melted
2 1/2 t cinnamon

The Process:
1. In a bowl or measuring cup, soak raisins in nearly-boiling water while preparing the remaining ingredients.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, arrowroot, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, combine almond milk, vanilla, and cider vinegar.
4. In yet another bowl, combine brown sugar, margarine, and cinnamon.
5. Whisk almond milk mixture into flour mixture.
6.  Drain raisins and stir them into the batter.
7. Add cinnamon mixture and stir just a few times, leaving some swirls of darker and lighter batter.
8. Cook on a well-oiled waffle iron.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Israeli Couscous Salad

No recipe for this one, but I thought the picture came out nice.  It's a simple salad of Israeli couscous tossed with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, peaches, edamame, thinly-sliced red onion, and cilantro, with a red wine vinegar & agave nectar dressing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Easiest Pasta Salad


Pasta salad is one of the first things I taught myself to cook when I was a teenager.  I still make it pretty much the same way: just cook a box of rotini until al dente, and when it's done immediately rinse it under cold water until it's cool.  Toss with whatever veggies, beans, tofu, etc. you have on hand (this is a good way to use up odds and ends).  Add 1-1.5 cups of Italian dressing, toss to coat, and refrigerate awhile...this is one of those things that seems to taste better the longer it sits, so it's nice to make a big batch on weekends and pack it for weekday lunches.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mango-Cherry-Coconut Upside-Down Cake

I've decided to try to turn every fruit I encounter into an upside-down cake.  I guess I like upside-down cakes because I get a little thrill out of waiting to see how they'll turn out once I invert them...yeah, my life is THAT exciting.  This is kind of a crazy fiesta of flavors, but it works for me.  The recipe follows the same basic formula as my Plum Upside-Down Cake, but the flavor goes a really different direction.

The Ingredients:
4 T margarine
½ c brown sugar
1 large or 2 small mangos, sliced
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
1 packed cup unsweetened coconut flakes, divided
2 ½ c flour
1 ½ c sugar
¼ c cornstarch
1 ½ t baking powder
1 t baking soda
¾ t salt
1 ½ c coconut milk
2/3 c oil
1 T vanilla
3/4 t coconut extract

The Process:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • While oven is heating, melt margarine in a 9x13 baking pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over melted margarine. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the coconut flakes, then arrange mango slices and cherries on top. It will look something like this:

  • Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.  Add dry to wet, and stir until just combined. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup coconut flakes.

  • Pour batter into pan, and bake about 50-55 minutes.

  • Let cool about 10 minutes, then invert onto a cookie sheet.  Ta-Da!

  • Monday, July 25, 2011

    Artichoke-Mushroom Petso

    Mushrooms, artichokes, and pesto are 3 of my top 5 favorite foods, so it made sense to me to just combine them all into one delicious dip.  I ate this slathered on slices of garlicky ciabatta, but I think it would also be delicious with pasta.

    The Ingredients:
    1/2 c olive oil, divided
    5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
    4 c sliced crimini mushrooms
    1/2 t salt
    2 packed cups basil
    1 1/2 c artichoke hearts (canned, cooked from frozen, or cooked from fresh--but rinse them if using canned)
    3/4 c walnuts, toasted
    1/4 c nutritional yeast
    1 T lemon juice

    The Process:

    1. Heat 2-3 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened, about 6 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, pulse together basil, walnuts, remaining olive oil, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice in a food processor until basil leaves are well-chopped. Add artichokes and pulse several more times to incorporate.  Add cooked mushrooms with all their juices, and pulse about 15 more times.  Serve right away or put it in a jar with an airtight lid to keep it from turning brown.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Plum Upside-Down Cake

    Oh, man, this is good.  Amaretto and gobs of sugar, balanced out by the tartness of fresh plums.  If you don't have amaretto, you could use more almond milk instead, and add a little almond extract.

    The ingredients:
    4 T margarine
    ½ c brown sugar
    12-16 pitted plums, halved
    2 ½ c flour
    1 ½ c sugar
    ¼ c cornstarch
    1 ½ t baking powder
    1 t baking soda
    ¾ t salt
    1 ½ c almond milk
    2/3 c oil
    ½ c amaretto
    1 T vanilla

    The Process:
    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. While oven is heating, melt margarine in a 9x13 baking pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over melted margarine, and arrange plums on top.
    3. Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.  Add dry to wet, and stir until just combined.
    4. Pour batter over plums, and bake about 50 minutes.
    5. Let cool about 10 minutes, then invert onto a cookie sheet.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Plum Fruit Leather

    This little non-recipe has turned out to be a great way to preserve some of my plum surplus, especially the ones that were too ripe for canning.

    Simply blend pitted plums with a splash of lemon juice (and some agave if you want a sweet fruit leather), pour onto lightly-oiled dehydrator trays (either use commercial inserts designed for the purpose, or line dehydrator trays with plastic wrap), and dry for about 10-12 hours.

    One caution: the flavor gets more tart as it dries, so make the mixture in the blender sweeter than you think you want it.