Spicy Noodles in Garlic Ginger Sauce

Since the acquisition of an iPhone, I admit my attention span has been drastically reduced. I sit and scroll for long periods of time. I find that I don't read as much. I don't take long walks as often. And for some strange reason, my creative juices have slowed. Can anyone out there relate? Is anyone out there? Are you all on your phones?

Well, I have decided to participate, once again, in the Vegan Month of Food (#veganmofo) and that is no small undertaking! I must put down the phone!  Energy and creativity are the name of the game! Usually, the veganmofo organizers ask us to come up with a snappy theme. Last year my theme was "Poesy and Plate" and I blogged about poetry and food. I must admit - I loved that theme. You can see all my past VeganMoFo blog posts by clicking the link on the right of this page....see them over there? VeganMoFo 2012, VeganMoFo 2013 and VeganMoFo 2014.

More about the 2015 Vegan Month of Food as it draws closer. Stay tuned.

One thing I absolutely LOVE about my iPhone, is the camera. Seriously. Who even needs a camera any more with the iPhone? I snap photos of everything!

Here's a random sampling of photos from my phone:

Last night's salad

The Founding Fathers with light sabers

A pretty cow

A storm coming over West Michigan

I'm also constantly clicking and saving various recipe ideas. The bad ones eventually get deleted. The good ones get saved. The excellent ones are made in my kitchen. Some even make it to my blog!

I used soba noodles (I have so many in my pantry right now!) I probably doubled some of the vegetable suggestions. And I served this with roasted broccoli. Leftovers were awesome! Most of the sauce is vegetable broth, which keeps it light and thin. Delicious. 

Carrot Top Pesto

You should have heard me screaming with delight (literally) when I pulled these veggies from my very own garden. What a miracle to plant the tiniest of seeds and then to be rewarded with these glorious oranges and purples! I will most certainly be planting carrots and beets every summer from now on - so easy!

One restaurant meal that I want to recreate in my kitchen was one I had at Grove in Grand Rapids a few years ago. I chose it from a special and abundant vegan menu (how thoughtful of them!) and it was so creative. It was simply called "Carrots Three Ways." I love carrots, so I knew I'd love this.... and I did.

I can't honestly remember the entire meal, but I know it started with Ginger Carrot Soup. I know there was a carrot puree and there were probably roasted carrots. Probably there was a salad and some other type of veg.  So simple! Everything was so beautiful ( and orange!)

When my own garden started to produce carrots, I began dreaming of Carrots Three Ways here in my own home. One addition to the restaurant meal will be to include a carrot top pesto. Delicious!

You can see that I served the pesto over our salad. Also on the plate are grilled spicy tofu and fat free oven fries. 

Here's how to make Carrot Top Pesto:
Drop a few garlic gloves into a running food processor. This is a good way to mince the garlic. Add a 1/4 C of sliced or slivered almonds, a bunch of carrot tops (stems discarded), some olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt. Process until kind of smooth. Be ready to scrape down the sides of the processor. 

Millet, Tempeh, and Mushroom Patties

Gosh, we've eaten some awesome food this summer. From a spectacular striped bass on Martha's Vineyard to a Beet Reuben in Pentwater, Michigan, our meals have been remarkable. The bass was caught that morning by the chef who prepared it. How could I turn that down? The restaurant was nothing spectacular from the street (Square Rigger, I believe it was called, in Edgartown), and the decor was average, but the food was superb. If you ever get an opportunity to visit Martha's Vineyard be absolutely sure to visit the Polly Hill Arboretum. Even if you don't love trees and gardens, you'll be impressed by the beauty and tranquility of this place.

Beet Reuben was not on my radar to eat, but I decided to give it a try. It tasted exactly like what you are imaging.... sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, swiss cheese and roasted beets. All on a grilled marbled rye. Amazing. And beautiful I might add. Our waitress had never tried it (I got the impression that she was afraid of so many veggies), but she said everyone loved it. Me too.

This millet patty recipe came from a magazine that is on display at the local health food store. I have gotten some of my favorite recipes from that tiny publication!

Here's the magazine photo - you can see why I decided to make it! I love gorgeous food. Look at that tiny slice of shiitake mushroom nestled in the patty.

Mine didn't quite turn out that pretty and you can't even see the mushroom I tried to showcase in my patties!

I thought these were delicious! I served them with a spicy mayo and a heap of mushrooms and veggies from my garden. They were a bit too mushy for my husband's taste. They definitely did not firm up. Even now, I notice the recipe refers to these as 'tender.' That's correct!

Millet, Tempeh, and Mushroom Patties (deliciousliving.com March 2013)
1/2 C uncooked millet, rinsed
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 1 1/2 C)
1 1/2 C veg broth
1 T sesame oil
1/2 C sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 oz tempeh, crumbled into small bits
1 small bunch green onions, white and some green parts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T soy sauce
2 T mirin

1. Cook the millet, sweet potato and veg broth for about 25 minutes. Covered. Simmer. Mash with potato masher to combine well and distribute the sweet potato.

2. Saute the mushrooms, tempeh, garlic, and onion in sesame oil until brown and delicious.  Deglaze the pan with the soy and mirin.

3. Combine everything and when cool enough, form 'patties.' They will be very soft. Don't bother decorating the patty with a pretty mushroom!

4. Sautee in veg oil till brown. Serve with chipotle mayo. 

My garden salad

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...
But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."
Thomas Jefferson, 1811

Do you have a small plot of earth that you can cultivate and grow vegetables? It has recently become so satisfying to me. I love to dig around, check under leaves and plan meals - what am I gonna do with all those jalapeno peppers???? 

 Above you see lettuce, roasted zucchini, roasted beets and kale chips. All from my tiny garden. 

Nanny's Fruitcake Cookies (Taste of Home)

I just found these Christmas cookies on my camera and the worst part is, I don't seem to have a photo of the completed, baked cookie. That's too bad because they are wonderful. Crispy and chewy and full of fruity flavor. I remember sampling the fruits and nuts while they were soaking in the Triple Sec. YUMMY.

You might recall that I'm in charge of a large Cookie Walk fund raiser and I sold these beautiful cookies there. It's a good way for me to try new recipes and break away from the usual Christmas cut out cookie. 

You can find the recipe in Taste of Home December 2014, or HERE on their website. Thanks to Nanny for her excellent recipe! 

Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Have you ever heard those radio shows where people call in asking for certain recipes? Maybe it's for a particular cake they had at their book club. Or perhaps they're looking for a crock pot recipe using onion soup mix. Scalloped potatoes is always a favorite recipe that is shared on this type of radio show. Cheese, cheese and more cheese! (oh, and canned soup!) 

Another variation of this radio show is a 'copy cat' recipe - you know, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the famous biscuits from Red Lobster, the blooming onions. (OMG-- have you eaten those? DELICIOUS) 

Well, I totally nailed this copy cat recipe and I share it here on my little blog. I'm embarrassed to show you how much I paid for 2 pounds of this salad, but it is so, so good! My version has been veganized and is not quite as salty as the store bought. I also cut back on the mayonnaise. The most recent time I made this salad, I added some cashew Parmesan (recipe HERE) for a little bump in the cheesy flavor and a hit of salt. 

16 ounces penne rigate pasta - cooked more than al dente
1/3 C minced onion
1 C corn
1 C grated cheddar
1 t dried basil

1 T red wine vinegar
1 roasted red pepper
1/2 C mayo or more to taste
1/4 t cayenne pepper or more to taste
1/4 t garlic powder

Cook the pasta till soft, drain, rinse and set aside. Add in the onion, corn, cheese and basil. Whirl the dressing ingredients in a high speed blender, using a spatula to move it all down. Pour over pasta and mix well. Add Parmesan cheese if desired. 

Chunky Portabella Veggie Burgers (from The Kitchen Whisperer)

This recipe was floating around my Facebook page a few months ago. I kept looking at it and looking at it and looking at it.  If you peek HERE at the original photos at TheKitchen Whisperer, you'll see a most gorgeous burger, shiny, grilled to perfection. Who wouldn't want to eat it? I simply had to try them!

My burgers and photos are a bit more dull and flat, but the burger was delectable! I served it with a chickpea salad that had a lime dressing and some rice to which I added the remaining broccoli and some green onions.

I think this burger could be improved by drizzling something great over them.....a roasted tomato dressing? A jalapeno crema? Cilantro pesto?  Another tiny complaint - the recipe was huge! Do you see those 9 gigantic burgers? They did not hold up very well as leftovers.....tasted fine, but turned into a type of 'Portabella/broccoli/black bean casserole.' No worries, we ate them all. Stuffed them in pita bread, rolled them in tortillas, packed them for lunches.

Thanks to The Kitchen Whisperer for an excellent recipe - Go check out the recipe and try these hearty burgers! 

Carrot Sausages

I never thought I'd put those two words together: carrot and sausage. But somehow, through the magic of peanut butter, it works.


This unbelievable recipe comes from the tiny cookbook entitled "Vegan Made Simple" published by Parragon/lovefood. Anyway, it's the type of cookbook you might see on the discount table or in a garage sale. You know, the little book that no one notices because it doesn't cost $45.00 and it's not wrapped in a glossy book jacket. Check it out on Amazon and see for yourself. (As I write this, you can purchase a used copy for $3.95!) 

Every single recipe I have tried from this gem of a cookbook has been remarkable. Asparagus Walnut Lasagne, Thia Noodle Soup, and a Raspberry Chocolate Cake are just three of the recipes that I have made. This carrot sausage recipe is really unusual, but seriously, good enough for company.

I actually bragged about this unusual meal at my workplace, and then brought some leftovers in for my friends to try. Great reviews from all the meat-eaters, and one perfect suggestion - these could benefit from some type of drizzle or dipping sauce....maybe something mustardy? With the cilantro and peanut butter, they have a slight Thai feel, so keep that in mind. 

Here's what you need (my modifications are included here)
1/3 C minced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 t cumin
4 C shredded carrots
1/2 t salt
3 T chunky peanut butter
1/2 C fresh cilantro, minced
2 C bread crumbs (1 C seasoned and 1 C Panko)

Here's what you do: 
Saute the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin in a bit of olive oil.

Add the carrots and salt, cover the pan and  continue to cook until the carrots are soft. 

Add the peanut butter and stir it in until it's all melted. Remove carrot mixture to a large bowl.

Mix in the cilantro and then add the two types of bread crumbs. Use your hands to form 8 sausages. Set on parchment paper in the fridge to rest for at least one hour. 

 Carefully brown the sausages in a tiny bit of oil until brown on most sides and cooked through. 

Vegan Queso Fundido with Rioja Sauce

This queso fundido with  rioja sauce is absolutely the best! The flavor is very intense and rich. I served it on garlic toast along side some marinated mushrooms and corn fritters. It is not a true queso fundido, which traditionally has loads of meat and dairy cheese; it's better because it uses a creamy almond cheese. (You can find the Simple Almond Cheese recipe that I use HERE.)

The Rioja Sauce is the base for the queso fundido: it has everything good in it - tomato sauce, red wine, green olives, garlic, garlic, garlic and olive oil.

I served the sauce on my potato torte (HERE)  which was the perfect accompaniment. This sauce is much too concentrated to serve over pasta, so think of it as a dipping sauce, or a drizzling sauce or even something to spoon over your main meal. (Still eating chickens? It would be great over grilled tofu.)

In a recent post I mentioned that my mom inspired my potato torte and this rioja sauce was also inspired by her. See my note that suggests to serve the potatoes with rioja sauce?
I've been in a cooking dead-zone lately, so being with my mom and her incredible meals very much inspired me to get-back-in-the-cooking-saddle and put a meal on the table.

Any way, try the sauce. Try the fundido. Let me know.

Here's what you need:
1/4 C olive oil (I cut back on this)
1/4 C minced garlic (I did not cut back on this)
1 C dry red wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 T capers
1 C good green olives - leave them whole for a pretty presentation
2 T dried basil

Here's what you do:
Warm the garlic in the olive oil until it is cooked - NEVER brown your garlic - use a low heat. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick and cooked down.

To Make the Queso Fundido:
Spoon some sauce into an oven proof serving dish (or a cast iron skillet). Spoon some Simple Almond Cheese over the top and bake until bubbly. NOTE: the rioja sauce really, really intensifies during its time in the oven! Perfect for garlic toast.

Potato Torte

"Love your family. Spend time, be kind and serve one another. Make no room for regrets.
 tomorrow is not promised and today is short."

My dad just celebrated his 80th birthday! What a great life he has had and what a great father he is! To make this special day even better, my sister and brother and I all drove up north to surprise him. No spouses, no kids, just us. It's been a long time since the 5 of have been alone together. Life gets so busy, it's rare that we even see one another much at all!

How my mom kept this all a surprise from my dad, I'll never know. She's the type to make all the meals ahead of time, change all the bedding, plan outings and picnics. But she pulled it off.

Meals were great, of course. I brought some Field Roast brand hamburgers and everyone loved them. I also brought portabella mushrooms. Everything else was lovingly prepared for a vegetarian to eat. Thanks Mom!

This potato torte is loosely  based on one my mom made that weekend. She based hers on two different recipes, and I jotted down the method and veganized it and I must say.... it was pretty dang good!

I served this heavenly potato creation with a Rioja Sauce - also inspired by my mom :)

(I just saw that "Pure Vegan" by Joseph Shuldiner has a gorgeous potato torte which I will most definitely try! )

Here's what you need:
Yukon potatoes
about 1/4 C Sour cream
2-3 Ener-G eggs
1/4 C melted butter
herbs to taste (I used thyme and oregano)
grated cheese ( I used a hard mozzarella type vegan cheese)

Here's what you do:
Boil the potatoes until fork tender - don't overdo it, like I did...
Sautee some onions
shred the cheese
make the Ener-G eggs and set aside to thicken
Mix the sour cream, the melted butter and the 'eggs' and set aside

Slice the potatoes and layer in a greased springform pan. Sprinkle some onions and cheese over the potatoes and continue layering in this fashion. Pour sour cream sauce over all and allow to drizzle down between the potatoes. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. Uncover and brown the top. Allow to cool before unfastening the springform pan. 
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