Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vegan Month of Food 2017

I'm getting ready for the Vegan Month of Food. Every day in October I'll publish new recipes and ideas for living a clean, vegan life. 

My theme is "Lines and Light"....which means I'll publish a few lines of  original poetry or a photo of light every day in October. 

Join me and hundreds of other bloggers for the Vegan Month of Food. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grated Tomato Sauce (Bon Appetit)

Excellent and really unusual. The perfect way to use up the last of the summer tomatoes, especially if they're bruised and imperfect. But before I get to the recipe, a little fun business. 

I'm happy to announce that I'm participating in the Vegan Month of Food 2017. It's been a few years since I've joined the fun, so it feels exciting to be back again. 

Basically, bloggers all over the world strive to post every day - all content is about vegan food or the vegan lifestyle. The creators of the VeganMoFo supply daily prompts, which I will follow as best I can. They also encourage bloggers to come up with themes of their own. I have decided to combine the two suggestions and use not only the the daily prompts, but my own theme of "Lines and Light" as well. 

I wracked my brain to come up with the theme idea of "Lines and Light" and I'm really satisfied with the unusual sound of it! Basically, you can expect shorts lines of original poetry and photos of Michigan light. Oh, and tasty vegan food!

You can expect the Vegan Month of Food to begin on October 1st and continue through the entire month of October (my favorite month, by the way.) 

In the meantime, click back here to view my other Vegan Months of Food projects. Really great recipes in each project! 
Vegan Month of Food 2012. 
Vegan Month of Food 2013 (my theme in 2013 was 'V is for Variety') 
Vegan Month of Food 2014 (my theme in 2014 was 'Poesy and Plate')
Vegan Month of Food 2015  (no personal theme, just awesomely good food)

Ok, back to the recipe at hand! Try it! You'll like it!

Simply cut off a small slice from the bottom of some tomatoes and gently grate them over a big bowl. Stop before you get to the stem. Discard the stems. Warm some minced garlic in olive oil, add the tomatoes, sprinkle some rosemary in the sauce and simmer till thickened. Add a few tabs of butter before serving.

Sounds weird, but it's great!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thai Curry with Rice Noodles

Here’s another recipe that really needs no special fussing. Simply prep the veg and cook it all together. The original recipe comes from “Vegetarian Today” magazine (April 2017) and I followed it pretty closely, except that instead of cooking the veg separately, I dumped it all in at once and cooked it together. Perfection.

This was the first time that I had used rice noodles; they were so good! Don’t skip this ingredient!
These amounts made about 3 adult servings. This would be simple to double for a larger group.

Here’s what you need:
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 T brown sugar
1 T red curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand, for example)
½ C diced white onion
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T veg oil
1 C cubed yellow or red potatoes, skinned
1 C trimmed fresh green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 C cauliflower florets
1 C eggplant, skinned and cubed
½ C red pepper, sliced
Fresh lime juice
4 oz dry rice noodles (prepare according to package)
Fresh cilantro - garnish
Dry roasted peanuts – garnish

Here’s what you do:
Prepare the sauce: mix together the entire can of coconut milk, the brown sugar, and the curry paste.  Set aside

Saute all the veg in some corn oil until a bit soft – don’t brown anything. Add the sauce and simmer till thickened to your liking. Lime juice goes in at the end. Serve over rice noodles with cilantro and peanuts as garnish. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chinese Tofu, Mushroom, and Jicama Lettuce Cups

The first time I made this, I followed the instructions exactly as written. It involved dragging out the wok and frying each ingredient individually, including the nuts! I remember that it felt a bit ‘fussy’ for Asian food.

Tofu: Before

Last night, I prepped all the veg, fried the tofu and set it aside, and dumped all the rest in at once. Added the sauce when everything was nice and soft and beginning to brown. Returned the tofu, and voila! Dinner was ready.

Tofu: After

Now that I’ve simplified (and modified from all the unusual Asian ingredients, not commonly found in my pantry), this meal becomes easy for a weekday. Don’t hesitate to try this.

Note: these amounts made enough for 3 hungry adults. (2-3 lettuce cups each.) This recipe would be a cinch to double.

Here’s what you need:
1 block extra firm (or firm) tofu
1 T rice vinegar or mirin
1 T soy sauce
2 t cider vinegar
4 T hoisin sauce
2 t chili paste (Sambal oelek….or I guess you could use Sriracha)
1 t corn starch
1 C Portobello mushrooms (shiitakes would be great too!)
3 scallions
3 cloves garlic – minced or pressed
1 inch fresh ginger- minced
½ C jicama (about the size of a small apple)
2 celery stalks
¼ C salted peanuts
Lettuce (prepped for use as a cup. Choose a butter lettuce or a large iceberg)

Here’s what you do: (the easy way)
Cut the tofu in ¼ inch slabs and place on a few clean kitchen towels which are arranged on the cutting board. Wrap them up in more towels and place another cutting board on top of it all. Place a heavy object, like a cast iron skillet, on the top and walk away. Allow liquid to press out. After 30-60 minutes, the tofu will be nice and dry. This process can be done much earlier in the day.

Prepare the sauce by mixing the two vinegars, soy sauce, hoisin, chili paste and corn starch. Set aside.

Prep the veg by mincing it all in ¼ inch dice. Remember, it will be served in a piece of lettuce, so it needs to be a pretty small dice.  You should end up with about 2 cups of veg. Put it all in the same bowl.

Prep the tofu by cutting it in ¼ inch dice.

Chop the peanuts and prepare the cilantro – set those aside. Make sure the lettuce is clean and cold.

Heat some oil in a non-stick pan or pot (or wok if you’re feeling fancy) Fry the tofu. It’ll get really chewy, so take it out when it’s to your liking. I did mine very well and loved it. Remove the tofu and set aside.

Brown all the veg at once and stir and heat until it’s soft and getting a bit brown. Add the tofu and peanuts and reserved sauce (You want to reactivate the cornstarch before adding by giving it a stir). The mixture will thicken up very quickly. Remove to a serving platter and add a liberal amount of cilantro.

Serve in prepared lettuce leaves.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Greens and Beans Over Linguine

I keep complaining that I don’t feel connected to my vegetable garden this year. I purchased random tomatoes and herbs instead of making a conscience decision regarding the types I wanted. I was not happy with the jalapenos that I chose, settling for ‘regular’ size peppers instead of searching for ‘giant’ peppers (which I LOVE for making poppers). I was convinced by my son to plant a ghost pepper and what in the world am I going to do with ghost peppers????? (I’ve already been looking around on Facebook for local people who might want to take my ghost peppers. Naturally, the plant is doing really well, lots of little flowers and peppers showing up every day.)

As a last-minute impulse purchase at the big box garden center, I grabbed a six-pack of Swiss Chard. They looked so beautiful – all red and orange and yellow and purple.

Guess what? The Swiss Chard is completely healthy and happy growing in my little garden. I have so much that I’m not even sure I can eat it all…… Time to get out the juicer and drink it.

I’ve made this recipe twice this week….and it’s good….and it uses up lots of Swiss Chard!

Here’s what you need:
1 super large bunch of Swiss Chard
Garlic, minced or pressed
Red pepper flakes
1 can of cannellini beans plus their liquid
Pasta and pasta water

Here’s what you do:
Sautee lots and lots of garlic and very slowly in a generous amount of olive oil. Never allow the garlic to brown. Add red pepper flakes.

Wash the Chard. Cut the stems in 1 inch pieces and cut the leaves in thin strips.

Add the stems and some water to the pan. Cook slowly until the veg is soft. Add the leaves and some more water. (You want it quite wet). Cook for a few minutes. Then add the beans and all their liquid. This will become nice and garlicky and thick.

Before you drain your pasta, add about ½ - 1 C of salty, starchy pasta water to complete your greens and beans sauce.

Mix together with the pasta and sprinkle parmesan cheese liberally over. But don’t add the sauce to the pasta until the last minute or else the pasta will soak up all the liquid and you’ll be left with a carb blob. (It’ll still taste great; it just won’t be nice and thin and silky.) 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kidney Bean Curry

Kidney beans seem to be a pantry staple for me – they go on sale in the fall, when chili season is in full swing, and I never seem to be able to eat them all. “Buy 10 Get One Free” in hindsight never looks as good.  Here is a super simple way to use those canned kidney beans that are crowding out your pantry. I realize this looks plain and too simple to be worth your precious can of kidney beans, but it’ worth a try at least. It’s deceptively delicious. In fact, I’m going to need more cans of kidney beans to make this again. It’s cheap. It’s spicy. It’s quick. It’s tasty.

Here’s what you need:
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small bunch of cilantro : you’ll need both the stalks and leaves.
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
2 t garam masala
14-16 oz can of chopped tomatoes
14-16 oz can of dark red kidney beans, in water (don’t drain them)

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions for a few minutes in a drop of oil. You can also use the ‘water saute’ method to make this fat free. Simple allow the natural juices of the onion to emerge over low heat, adding literally 1 T of water every so often. They will eventually soften and brown.

Add the garlic, ginger, and cilantro stalks and continue to cook for a few minutes. (Use the same ‘water saute’ method)

Add the spices and warm them. (It smells really good!)

Add the can of tomatoes and all the liquid and also the can of beans and all the liquid. Simmer for about 10 minutes to meld the flavors and allow it to thicken a bit.

Add the leaves of cilantro at the last minute and serve over rice.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cheesy Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Lemon Béchamel

Having company soon? Here’s the recipe. Trust me – this was so good.

Here’s what you need:
3 large cans quartered artichoke hearts, packed in water, not oil
2 lemons, remove the rind carefully with a sharp knife, then juice them
1 box large shell pasta, cooked *almost* al dente, set aside
1 C almond cheese (see recipe below)
½ C dairy mozzarella
Salt and pepper
3 C non-dairy milk
4 T butter
4 T flour

Here’s what you do:
Mince the artichoke hearts and mix them with the two cheeses.

(Amazing Almond Cheese = 1 C raw, unpeeled almonds, ¾ C water, 3 T lemon juice, 2 T olive oil, 1 clove garlic, salt, high speed blender. IT IS THE BEST!)

Simmer a large slice or two of the lemon rind in the milk and remove after a few minutes.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then sprinkle the flour over the butter. Whisk thoroughly and cook the flour well. Add the warm milk a bit at a time, whisking all the while. Add the lemon juice when the mixture is nice and creamy and thick. Salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff the cooked shells with the artichoke and cheese mixture. Place in greased casserole. Smother with lemon béchamel. Bake, covered, 400 degrees until bubbly. Garnish with parsley.

Serve with something non-acidic to counter the fabulous lemon flavor.....a green salad with a creamy dressing, garlic toast, broccoli, green beans, asparagus. There's plenty of bechamel to drizzle all over the plate. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Black Bean Brownies (from Veganuary)

This is the kind of recipe that you avoid for many months. You may see it cross your Facebook page, or you may read about it on a strange vegetarian blog (like this one), or you may even see it at your workplace coffee station. But you avoid. You can’t quite seem to bring the dreaded black bean concoction to your lips.

Because I was the brave one in the room and tried these, you may follow my lead and tamp down your fear! What’s it gonna cost you? A can of beans.

Warning: these brownies are not very sweet, which in my opinion is a bonus.

Warning: these brownies are totally and completely chocolatey

Warning: these brownies are moist, chewy, dense, rich, satisfying, ‘healthy’, and cheap to make

Warning: these brownies could become your new favorite thing

Here’s what you need:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ avocado
1 C brown sugar
3 T cocoa powder
½ C walnuts – divided
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 T coconut oil (plus more for greasing the muffin tin)
Large pinch of salt
2/3 C dark chocolate chips (plus more for garnish)

Here’s what you do:
Prepare a muffin tin by greasing it with coconut oil. This will help the brownies come out perfectly.

Place beans, avocado, sugar, cocoa, half the walnuts (1/4 C), baking soda, vanilla, coconut oil, and salt in a food processor and mix very well.

Melt the 2/3 C chocolate chips in a double boiler until soft (don’t scorch them) and add the chocolate to the bean mixture.  Mix well.

Evenly distribute the batter into prepared muffin tins.

Garnish with more chocolate and the remaining ¼ C walnuts.

Bake 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Cool them completely in the fridge before removing. Remove them carefully because they are soft in the middle.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Vegan Jalapeno Poppers

My best poppers to date! Lots of jalapenos, split and cleaned of seeds and most veins. 1 tub Tofutti cream cheese. 6 slices vegan bacon, cooked and chopped in tiny pieces (I recommend Lifelight brand). 1/3 C vegan nacho cheese (mine came from the freezer....probably Isa Chandra's recipe).

Stuff. Roll in panko bread crumbs and nutritional yeast. Bake for about 20-30 minutes.

I love them!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cauliflower Cashew Soup

I learned a new technique for increasing the flavor profile of vegetables. I really didn’t think it would make much difference in the end product, after all, how much flavor can you squeeze out of a cauliflower? But amazingly, it actually did increase the depth of flavor.

The trick is allowing the veg to steam in their own juice in a covered pot before adding the broth. They must not get brown at all, so a tempered heat is required. The technique is called ‘a l’etoufffee’ which means ‘braised ‘in French.

Remember when we all started roasting our veggies and now we wouldn’t be caught dead boiling them? Well, this is the new ‘roasting.’

This recipe comes from

Here’s what you need:
¼ C olive oil
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 t dried thyme
Salt, pepper
½ C dry white wine
1 large head cauliflower, cut in small florets
¼ t cayenne pepper
¾ C raw cashews
6 C light colored vegetable stock
Lemon juice to garnish

Here’s what you do:
Warm the oil in a large soup pot. Add the shallots, garlic, bay leaves and cook on medium low heat. Don’t allow anything to brown. Add the wine and allow to simmer a bit. Add the cauliflower, cayenne, cashews, salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook tenderly until all the veg is soft….maybe about 20-25 minutes. Reduce heat if things are browning up at all.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is falling apart. Discard bay leaves. Cool. Whirl in a high speed blender. Serve with lemons or add lemon juice at the end.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cauliflower Meat Crumbles

I must truly be vegan because I am posting another recipe for cauliflower meat crumbles. And I don't even care.

This is a great recipe and these little crumbles can be used in the same way you would use meat from cows. Spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, pizza toppings, and Mexican. I used half of the crumbles recently in tacos and the rest went in the freezer. Take your time and bake them nice and long and slow. You really want to dry them out so they separate and get a little chewy. The house smelled fantastic when this was baking.

Good luck! Go vegan! Eat your crumbles! Leave the cows alone! :)

Cauliflower Meat Crumbles
Here's what you need:
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed, washed, cut in florets
2 C raw walnuts
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/2 t liquid chipotle sauce
1/2 t chili powder
1 t liquid smoke
1/2 t salt
2 T soy sauce

Here's what you do:
Crunch the walnuts and cauliflower in a food processor till pretty small. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Plop it in a bowl and continue mixing with your hands if you need to.

When you first see it, you can't imagine that it turns into 'meat'....but it does! 

Cook it on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees, for about 60-75 minutes. Stir after 30 minutes and every 15 minutes after that. The crumbles should be brown and dry. Use as you please! The crumbles do not need to be seasoned in any way .... use them as is. Delicious!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Amazing, but True -- Chicken Style Seasoning

How to create a chicken flavor without harming chickens.

Blend until very fine. Use in all kinds of stuff.

1 C nutritional yeast
2 heaping T onion powder
1 T salt (or more to taste)
2 T dried basil
2 heaping T dried parsley
1 T sugar
4 t T garlic powder
½ t celery seed
½ t cayenne powder

Amazing, but True -- Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup
1 pound firm tofu
2 t vegan chicken base / seasoning
2-3 t curry
1 ½ t onion powder
1 ½ t garlic powder
½ t turmeric
¼ C milk or water

Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils

This has happened to me more than once: I make a great vegan meal and decide to take it to a church potluck, you know, with the idea of impressing everyone and glowing in the aftermath of a whole slew of folks turning from their meat-eating-ways.

My Lentil Bolognese (HERE is the recipe) is worthy of a gold star and accolades from all camps, yet it does not translate well to a crock pot full of cooked rigatoni. There is no oil or fat in it, so it really doesn’t stay nice and loose and hearty. At that potluck, my crockpot was filled with a blob of sticky pasta with a strange scattering of lentils. Seriously embarrassing.

For another potluck I made the Forks Over Knives “Smoky Little Devils” (HERE is that recipe) which are tiny red potatoes, filled with a spicy hummus: reminiscent of deviled eggs. That potluck found my offering to be way too heavy on the turmeric (which can be bitter if you’re not used to it).  One friend asked me, “Is that turmeric in there?” ….meaning, “My GOSH, that’s a lot of turmeric!” Alas, my platter of little devils sat basically untouched….except by me. (I do recall everyone else eating buckets full of chickens' legs and I believe there were also pork ribs there too ….. sigh….. a poorly made smoky devil stands no chance against those….)

Last week, I brought a crockpot full of this terrific rice dish, sure that I’d be the talk of the luncheon…..but I was too lazy to leave the house for brown rice and I used white rice instead….. which simply created a weird crockpot full of rice and lentils. Blah.

You will have to trust me when I say that I am a great cook and I can tell a cruddy recipe from a good one. This one’s good…. I just HIGHLY recommend that you use brown rice!

Here’s what you need:
½ onion, chopped
1 T veg oil
1 C uncooked BROWN rice
2 T tomato paste
2 ½ C water
¼ t cinnamon
¼ C dry brown lentils
1 t salt
½ C golden raisins
½ C slivered almonds, toasted

Here’s what you do:
Saute the onion in the oil.  Add the rice and stir a bit in the oil. Mix the tomato paste in the water and smooth it out. Add it to the rice along with the cinnamon and lentils. Bring to boil, lower to simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes.
Stir in the salt, raisins, and almonds. May add a bit more water if it seems dry. Pour into a greased casserole. The mixture should be a bit watery.  Cover and bake 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cauliflower Pea Curry

 I recently took one of those ‘personality profile’ self-exams – you know the ones. After answering questions like “Would you rather chair a 20-person committee for the rededication of the town park or stuff envelopes in the back room?”,  you are given a score. That score places you on a personality spectrum, ranging from the daring extrovert to the quietest and most introverted church mouse.

Guess what? I am a quiet and introverted church mouse. SURPRISE! One of the qualifiers for my personality type is “likes to write poetry” and the very week I took the personality test, I had written a poem.

Another qualifier was the word ‘silent.’ Whoa. SILENT. That’s pretty quiet.
My co-workers all agreed with the results of my profile, saying stuff like, “Yes, Tracy, you are silent.” Again, whoa.  Am I so transparent?  

The world around me is chatty, and daring, and extroverted. Me? I’m happy sitting on the couch writing poetry 😊 .

Here’s a spicy recipe to excite even the quietest and most introverted of us. Take a plain cauliflower and give it some personality.

Here’s what you need:
2 lbs cauliflower, washed and broken in flowerets
3 T non-diary butter (Earth Balance is the best brand)
½ t dried ginger
½ t salt
½ t turmeric
½ t cayenne
½ t coriander
½ t dried mustard seeds
½ t cumin seeds
¼ t cinnamon
1 clove garlic, minced
½ C water
1 ½ C frozen peas
2 tomatoes, diced

Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter, add all the spices, and stir.  Add the cauliflower and water and stir until coated. Cover and allow the cauliflower to steam until medium tender. Add the peas and cilantro. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook only until they are warmed through.

I served this with Biryani Rice which has the exact flavor profile, so neither this delicious curry or the rice got the attention they deserved. Next time I make this, I’ll serve it with plain rice and perhaps some dahl. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017


The most delicious, flavorful, spice-warm rice you will ever eat. There are many recipes on the internet to choose from, but mine is pretty darn good, so don’t even bother to shop around. You could serve this with a huge salad and grilled mushrooms or tofu and it would be an impressive meal. I served mine with a cauliflower and pea curry which had the same flavor profile as the biryani, so I don’t think the rice  got its well-deserved acclaim. 

I found a recipe for bryani (a typo?)  in “The Vegetarian Epicure” by Anna Thomas, copyright 1972. 1972! The entire cookbook is quite a walk down ‘hippie’ lane, but there are some gems between the pages. I made some modifications and those are reflected below.

Here’s what you need:
¼ C non-dairy butter
1 ½ t cumin seeds
1 ½ t mustard seeds
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t salt
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
¼ t turmeric
¼ t ground ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t ground coriander
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 C sliced green onions
1 C blanched fresh wax beans (yellow beans), cut in 1 inch pieces
1 C chopped  jarred sweet red peppers
1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
4-5 C cooked rice, which has been prepared in vegetable broth
2/3 C roasted cashews, chopped in large pieces (or left whole for a better presentation)
½ C golden raisins

Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter and stir in the spices for a few minutes. Add the vegetables. Stir well and cook until veg is a bit soft. Add the cooked rice, cashews, and raisins. Stir well and pour in a buttered casserole. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for about ½ hour. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup

I hit it out of the asparagus ballpark with this one, folks. You know when asparagus season hits, it hits hard, so take note of this beautiful soup and add it to your pile of asparagus recipes. Not only was the flavor excellent, but the delicate green color was really pretty. Be sure to save the tips of the asparagus for a garnish.

Here’s what you need:
2 bunches fresh asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces, tips reserved
2 T butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
6 C vegetable broth (light in color if possible)
Lemon zest (nice as a garnish, or added in the soup)
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
½ C raw cashews

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions in the butter. Add the asparagus (reserve the tips) and the broth. Simmer until the veg is very soft.
Carefully transfer the asparagus mixture to a blender and whirl. You may need to strain it. 
Whirl the cashews in a high-speed blender with about 1 C water to create a cream. Add this to the soup along with the lemon juice.
Drop the asparagus tips in boiling water for a minute or two, just until tender. Use them as a garnish.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus

Are there any original recipes out there at all anymore? What with the internet and the plethora of cookbooks, I can barely imagine an original *anything* any more.

Actually, that's not entirely the case, because I have invented plenty of memorable recipes, many of which appear here on this blog. I do follow many, many recipes to the letter, but sometimes I riff and create and go off in various ways.

Here is a basic white bean hummus from "Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton. I did everything she said....except I added lots of lemon zest (reflected below).

 I kept mine a bit chunky and I think I added too much water at the end, but oh well! It's hummus, not rocket science.

Super delicious. Very light. Not too garlicky which is nice once in a while. Good as a dip or rolled in tortillas. Eat it with a spoon or with veg or crackers or tortilla chips.

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 T fresh lemon juice or more to taste
lots of lemon zest
1 T tahini
1 clove garlic
1-2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t Dijon
1/2 t sea salt
black pepper to taste
water as needed to thin
fresh herbs: thyme and basil: to taste

Blend it all together. Thin with water. Add herbs.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Orange Black Bean Taquitos and Chickpea Avocado Salad (Forks Over Knives)

It’s hard to say when my eating preferences changed. It’s hard to say why they changed. As I have  mentioned before, I do know there were a few events all occurring at once, 4 ½ years ago, that motivated me to try eating a vegan diet. My daughter was living with a vegan at the time, and we were super curious about her food. She shared her recipe for potato tacos with roasted jalapeno crema, and we were in love.

Also, at that same time, some health issues arose in the family- some small, some large – but enough to be a wake-up call regarding our health. Less cholesterol and more green stuff.

Thirdly, my blog was in need of a boost, and participating in Vegan Month of Food (the VeganMoFo….which I loved then and still love to this day) seemed like the right amount of challenge. One month of vegan meals. What could happen?

Well, what happened was that I became vegan.

Along the way, I was inspired by books and podcasts and blogs and cookbooks and one movie in particular. It’s called “Forks Over Knives” and if you have not viewed it, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s not a scary ‘animal rights’ film or a film that makes you feel guilty for eating cheese. It’s simply an explanation of why eating animal foods is harmful to our health. It changed my life….yes, a movie changed my life.

Here are two recipes from the Forks Over Knives website. I’m positive they won’t mind me sharing them with you.

Orange Black Bean Taquitos (original recipe HERE)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 chiptole peppers in adobo sauce, minced
Zest and juice of two oranges
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn tortillas
Toppings (guacamole, salsa, spicy sour cream, etc. )

Sauté the onions in a tiny bit of water for a few minutes until they begin to soften and brown. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic and continue to cook. Add the cumin, peppers, orange zest and juice, and the black beans.
Salt to taste and puree in a food processor. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth.
Soften the tortillas in a dry, hot, non-stick pan and spoon about 2-3 T of the bean mixture in each tortilla. Roll them up and brown them in a hot, non-stick pan until they are toasted.

Chickpea Avocado Salad (original recipe HERE)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press ( I usually omit raw garlic, as I do in this recipe)
Zest of 1 lime and juice of 4 limes
1 jalapeno pepper, seed and veins removed for less heat
½ C chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
1 avocado, coarsely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add the avocado carefully just before serving. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Curried Potatos and Peas in Butter Lettuce (with Tomato Chutney)

Look at that plate of beautiful food! It's enough just to feast on the colors and textures, but it's the flavors that make this meal really special.

These excellent recipes come from Vegetarian Today magazine (April 2017). They suggest serving the potato mixture samosa style - stuffed in pie crust and baked-- like a hand held pie. I decided to serve it on butter lettuce and it was amazing!

I don't think I should post the recipes here because of copyright issues. I'm positive you can find recipes for potato and pea curry and also a spicy tomato chutney all over the internet. And if you are a subscriber to Vegetarian Today (formerly Vegetarian Times) check out the recipes there. AMAZING. This one is going in the 'save' pile

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Easy Vegan Gravy

Here's a simple recipe that packs a perfect punch when you need a quick gravy. I served it over a creamy cauliflower and potato mash. Please notice the gorgeous Portobello Wellington on the plate also! You can't believe how easy that Wellington is....find the recipe HERE.

Easy Vegan Gravy
Here's what you need:
1/2 C flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
pinch oregano
pinch black pepper
olive oil
soy sauce
soy milk

Here's what you do:
In a cast iron skillet, toast the flour, yeast, oregano, and pepper. When you see the flour browning and it starts to smell toasty, blend in just enough olive oil to create a roux. Stir and whisk and stir and whisk. Add water and soy milk to create a gravy that is a pleasing consistency. At the end, add a few shakes of soy sauce.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Shannon’s Four Greens Pesto

My sister-in-law made this delicious pesto for us when she was here visiting from her home in Brazil.

 It was October and we spent time up north where we rented the most glorious house for a few days. Can you picture the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula?  Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, can you picture the very tip of the pinky finger in the imaginary “Michigan Map” that your left hand makes? The very tippy tip? That’s where we were, mainly dodging rain drops and battling cold Michigan wind.

There is a wild beauty in the outdoors in October as you can see from my photos. You can also see that I tried to capture all the shades of color that I saw in a 5 minute period out our window.

Can you read the recipe and figure it out? Basically, put it all in the food processor and serve over fettuccine, garnishing with the obvious things.  I didn’t think using all four greens would be good ...that it would have too many flavors. But I was wrong. This is a super pesto! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Roasted Curry Cauliflower

“Everything’s gotta have a concept!” My husband has been repeating this all week long. He is reading a book on how to get people to read your writing (says the woman who writse a tiny blog that has no concept and that no one reads….., but I digress……), and the entire message of the book it this : Everything’s gotta have a concept.

Well, did we experience ‘concept’ recently at Olives and Wine in Traverse City. I would never have imagined such a concept! Upon entering this establishment, you put money on a card and then use the card to purchase glasses of wine. Insert the card, push the button, center the glass under the little hose, and sip! The wine was organized simply in reds and whites, all available to try and taste. At first, it was overwhelming, but after a glass or two, it was super fun! I admit,  I prefer when the waiter teaches me about new wines and makes suggestions based on my preferences,but this was fun! And we had some good wines. 

Another concept at this establishment was the Greek menu. They served an excellent hummus with the most delicious curried cauliflower and I replicated it perfectly at home.

Such a simple preparation, but oh, what powerful flavor! Simply cut an entire head of cauliflower into large flowerets, douse them liberally with olive oil, and spoon lots and lot of curry power over it all. Use your hands to massage it all together and bake at 400 or 450 until its nice and soft and toasty in all the right places.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Parmesan Eggplant Meatballs

I was super irritated the last few summers with the meager supply of eggplants at my local *big box* garden center. Am I really the only person in my town who grows eggplants at home? Can’t the garden centers carry a few plants for the eggplant lovers out there? Apparently not.

Anyway, last year I wanted the classic globe shaped vegetable, but ended up with a Japanese variety. They were way too narrow for eggplant bacon, and I hated to waste them (they grew like crazy!), so I had to find another way to use them. Luckily I found the perfect recipe. Even those of you who are eggplant shy, will enjoy these little beauties.

This is how they look directly from the oven.
Obviously mine were not beautifully shaped balls, but it didn't matter. 

Parmesan Eggplant Meatballs (veganized by me, originally found in the 'Heirloom Gardener' catalog) 
Here’s what you need:
1 ½ pound of firm, small, peeled eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
½  t salt
½ C fresh parsley
1/3 C fresh basil
1 C panko bread crumbs
2/3 C vegan parmesan cheese (my favorite recipe can be found HERE)
2 eggs (I used 2 flax eggs)

Last night's dinner : I pulled the eggplant meatballs directly from the freezer and fried them. Delicious! Crunchy on the outside and creamy and tender on the inside. 

Here’s what you do:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss eggplant cubes, garlic cloves, and salt with oil and bake in a foil covered baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until everything is nice and soft. Allow to cool and remove any excess moisture by squeezing it out. (To speed along the process, you can chill the veg in an ice bath by putting the hot veg in a big bowl, and then placing the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water.) Increase oven temp to 375.

In a food processor process the parsley and basil until coarse. Add the eggplant, bread crumbs, parmesan, and eggs and blend until its nice and smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, use wet hands, form meatballs about 1 ½ inches in diameter, bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

I froze these in dinner-size portions and they have behaved beautifully right from the freezer.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Festive Portobello Mushroom Wellington from Bosh!

The most difficult part of this beautiful recipe is finding chestnuts. I had never used chestnuts in any capacity, so I was really interested to taste them and learn that they have a very meaty taste and texture. Luckily, I found whole, cooked, and peeled nuts. I can’t imagine the amount of work involved to peel and roast (or steam?) 2 Cups of chestnuts, so look all over your town for prepared nuts….and then forge ahead! This is really a simple recipe and such a beautiful presentation! I am going to remember this for Thanksgiving or Christmas or a dinner party or when company is coming or Sunday dinner or ….. whenever!

I served my wellington with mashed potatoes, peas, and a mushroom gravy. Festive, indeed!

Here’s what you need (directly from the Bosh! Facebook page)
4 portobello mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme (I used 1 t dried)
1 T fresh rosemary (I used 1 t dried)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 red onion, minced
1 T fresh rosemary (I used 1 t dried)
Salt and pepper
1 C white wine (dry)
½ T brown sugar
2 C chestnuts
2 C pecans
2 slices seeded bread
½ C vegetable broth

Short crust pastry (I used 2 sheets of puff pastry)
½ C non-dairy, unsweetened milk

Here’s what you do:

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package.

Clean, trim, and roast the mushrooms. I like to scrape out the black gills, but for this recipe, I left the stem intack. Season them with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and a splash of olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Make sure they are nice and soft.  Allow to cool.

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add rosemary thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the wine and simmer for a bit. Add the brown sugar and caramelize the onions. Set aside.

Process the chestnuts, pecans, and bread in a food processor until it’s all crumbs. Pour into a large bowl and add the onion mixture and mix well. Slowly add the veg broth until the mixture clumps up … not too wet, not too dry. Your hands are the best tool here. 

Here comes the fun part. Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange a large amount of the nut mixture over one sheet of pastry, forming it into a long oval of sorts. You’ll need to leave about 1 inch all around the edges. Arrange the four mushrooms over the nuts and then arrange the remaining nut mixture over the mushrooms. For me, it was difficult to get all the nut mixture in, but use whatever you can. The mushrooms should all be encased in the nut mixture. (A hint for the mushrooms: place one right side up, then the next one upside down, then the next one right side up, and the last one upside down. Snuggle them in nice and tight.)

Place the second sheet of pastry over the mound of goodness and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim and use the excess pastry to decorate the top of your wellington. Use a fork to make air holes. Brush the pastry with milk.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, but be sure to check it once in a while.

Cool for a bit and slice carefully with a serrated knife.

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