Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Potato, Broccoli, and Peanut Casserole

Potato, Broccoli, and Peanut Casserole
If you can imagine the classic coconut peanut sauce (which you have  probably poured over noodles) then you can imagine this casserole. You can see from the photo that it makes a great presentation. Underneath that layer of potatoes is a whole bunch of broccoli, which make this a double whammy in the veg department.

This recipe comes from the tiny book "Vegan...Made Simple" published by Love Food. I have mentioned it here on my blog more than a few times because every single thing I've made from it has been great. The book was a gift from my mom (thanks Mom!) and at first glance it appears to be the type of book from the 'dollar' shelf at the back of the book store. But seriously, the pages are FULL of treasures. I love this book! 

Here's what you need: 
1 pound new potatoes, sliced
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 3/4 C coconut milk
1/2 C chunky peanut butter
1 T soy sauce
2 t sugar
1/2 t crushed red pepper
3 C broccoli florets
1/2 C unsalted peanuts
2 t non-dairy butter, melted
salt and pepper

Here's what you do:
Drop the potato slices in boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Saute the onions in a bit of oil until they are soft, stir in the milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Steam the broccoli until tender (don't over cook it) 
Stir the broccoli and peanuts into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a greased baking dish. Arrange the potatoes over the sauce and drizzle with melted butter. Bake 20 minutes or so in 375 oven. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Party Rye

Here's another totally retro recipe I served as a lunch time snack on Thanksgiving. I remember eating these toasty little guys as a young girl when my mom would make them for cocktail parties. Now that I think of it, that probably annoyed her - us kids sneaking around in the kitchen, snatching her carefully prepared party food while she was trying to pull off a party. Sorry Mom! These were worth it!

I veganized the recipe and they turned out exactly how I remember them. What gives this simple recipe its unique taste is the rye bread - do not swap out the rye bread. Search high and low for Rubschlager Brand Cocktail Rye bread .....or take the time to cut tiny squares from another type of rye bread.

Here's what you need:
Cocktail size rye bread (30 slices for a full recipe)
1 small red onion, minced
1 C parmesan cheese (see note)
1/2 C mayo

Here's what you do:
Mash the onion, cheese and mayo together with a fork. Spread over the bread. Broil until brown and toasty - watch carefully!

Note: My vegan parm: 1 C raw cashews, 1/4 C nutritional yeast, 1 t salt. High speed blender. Totally addicting!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Retro Pineapple Cheeseball

I call this Retro Cheeseball because it totally reminds me of the 1970s. In fact, anything with pineapple and green pepper reminds me of the 70s. Lawry's Season Salt, too. I don't know why. Now that I think about it, a cheeseball reminds me of the 70s. Cocktail parties, church potlucks, open houses. Well, it's time to being back the cheeseball - this one is super.

As I was struggling with this mound of cheese, trying to roll it in the walnuts, I realized that this might be the very first cheeseball I have ever made. I served it at lunch on Thanksgiving Day and we polished it up the next day for leftovers.

Here's what you need:
8 oz cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand vegan cheese - it's excellent!)
1/3 C crushed pineapple (drained well)
2-3 T minced green pepper
1-2 T minced green onion
1-2 t Lawry's season salt
1 C chopped walnuts

Here's what you do:
Bring the cheese to room temperature. Using a fork, mash in the pineapple, green pepper, green onion, Lawry's, and 1/2 C of the walnuts. Place cheese mixture in fridge to completely chill.

Spread the remaining walnuts on wax paper and plop the completely chilled cheese on the nuts. Carefully, press the mass into a ball and place on a serving plate.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Banana Rabanada (Brazilizan French Toast) from Isa Chandra

Banana Rabanada (Brazilian French Toast)

Just saying the name of this recipe is fun and elevates it to a more exotic level. 
Banana Rabanada. Banana Rabanada.
 I love it! 

I tested this recipe and made this meal for my son a few months ago, planning to serve it to my sister-in-law and her friend when they visited from Brazil in September. The bummer was that I never actually had the chance to make it when my Brazilian guests were here. We did eat well, and I did get to cook for them, but  brunch was never in the plans, so my Banana Rabanada had to go by the wayside. 

This recipe is another total winner from Isa Chandra's "Vegan Brunch" cookbook. Basically you soak good bread in a super delish banana milk, toast them in a hot skillet, and serve them with cocoa and cinnamon. Simple ingredients, fantastic result. The bread is key here - choose a high quality baguette and toast it completely to create those chewy places. I think I might have gone overboard with the cocoa powder, but it was worth it. I think this would be a good choice for a brunch party, because it could hold well in a warm oven - it's pretty sturdy. 

Here's what you need for 4 servings: 
2 very ripe bananas
1 1/2 C non dairy milk
2 T cornstarch
1 t good vanilla
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1 stale baguette, sliced diagonally in once inch slices
extra fruit for garnish

Here's what you do:
Blend the bananas, milk, cornstarch, and vanilla in a blender. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and pour the banana mixture over them. Allow the bread to soak for about 20 minutes, turning them over at the 10 minute mark. 

Heat a skillet, use a small amount of oil, toast the bread slices for at least 5-7 minutes on each side. Do not try to turn them over too soon! Let them get brown before you flip them. You don't want any of the banana goodness to 'peel' away from the bread and get stuck in the pan. 

Mix the cocoa powder and cinnamon together and dust each serving liberally before serving. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu Inspiration: Part Two

Yesterday I shared appetizers, soups, and salads. Today I share vegetable side dishes, main courses, and desserts.

Zucchini Tart - much easier than it looks! 

Vegetable Bake with Crispy Topping - I only made this once, but I still remember it. It's on my menu for this year's Thanksgiving. 

Nut Loaf - excellent! serve with potatoes and gravy and everyone's happy

Autumn Harvest Stuffed Squash- The colors of Thanksgiving

Adonis Cake - one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever eaten

Pear Frangipane Tart - I've made this many times and it always gets rave reviews 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving: Menu Inspiration Part One

Some menu ideas for your upcoming day of thanks. I chose recipes that can be made ahead which makes the big day of eating and watching football and being with family and friends a little more relaxing.  You can find recipes by clicking on the links.

This will be the 4th year that I have not served or eaten the traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, and guess what? I'm still alive to tell about it! I didn't shrivel up and waste away because I didn't eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Can you rise to the challenge and step out of the the box a tiny bit? Try some new foods and see how much your guests appreciate it. 

Today I'm sharing appetizers, soups, and salads. Tomorrow I'll share vegetable side dishes, main entrees, and desserts galore. 

Burgundy Mushrooms- serve with good bread to soak up the juice - it's amazing! 

Maple Nut Snack Mix - put down the puppy chow. (You have powdered sugar on your chin)

Cauliflower and Potato Soup with Applesauce Reduction  - this is a restaurant photo, mine is much different, but my version of the soup was memorable!

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup - a meal in itself, but perfect as a first course on a Thanksgiving table.

Celery Salad with Miso Dijon Dressing - I always associate celery with Thanksgiving.

Dijon, Orange and Dill Dressing - good on greens or veg. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Curried Coconut Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto

What glorious fall colors! This soup is a total winner. I used a combination of recipes from all over the place to create this warm, spicy, comforting (and gourmet, if I do say so myself) bowl. If you are fortunate enough to use fresh carrots, do not throw away those carrot tops! The garnish is a MUST in this soup.

I'm still all a-glow over the carrots I grew in my garden this summer and I'm already planning to expand my space for even more next year. Aren't they gorgeous?

Basically, you soften the veg in coconut oil, simmer it all in veg broth, and then season well with coconut milk, curry and ginger.

Here's what you need:
2 T coconut oil
1 C chopped onion
2 lb chopped carrots
1/4 C fresh ginger, or less to taste
4 C vegetable broth
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 T curry (hot or regular, more or less to taste)

Here's what you do:
Heat the coconut oil and add the onions. Cook on medium until onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until everything is well cooked. I often allow my soup to sit around with the lid on to really help meld the flavors. It's good to let it cool a little bit before blending it anyway.

 I made a double batch.... plenty for the freezer. 

Here's what you need for the carrot top pesto:
1 small bunch or handful of carrot greens
1 small bunch or handful of cilantro
1/2 C slivered almonds
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 C olive oil
salt to taste

Keep blending it until you get a nice smooth consistency. The amounts given is enough for the double batch of soup I made..... You might want to reduce quantities if you're only making a single batch of soup. OR - keep the pesto in the freezer for other uses. I didn't waste any! I even used a tiny bit in some 'ranch' dressing the next day - AMAZING! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters

Not a lot to say about these, except that they are tasty little buggers. What is it about eating food with your fingers? Appetizers and small plates are so fun to serve and eat. 

I served these corn fritters with marinated mushrooms and a Spanish 'Queso' Fundido and garlic toast. Thinking back on the meal, I remember that the corn fritters could have benefited from some spicy mayo, or a drizzle or dollop or drip of some concoction. Something to keep in mind. 

Here's what you need: 
1/2 C garbanzo flour
1/4 C all purpose flour
2 T fine cornmeal 
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t salt
pepper to taste
1 C corn kernels
2 T finely grated carrot
1 T minced onion (or chopped chives)
1/4 C non dairy milk

Here's what you do:
Mix it all together until it's a thick, sticky mess. Form small patties. Fry until brown. 

(recipe from "Vegan Finger Foods")

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake (

Looking for something spectacular to serve on Thanksgiving?

Want a contrast to the pumpkin pie on the dessert table?

Tired of all the cheese in your diet, but still want to indulge in something rich and decadent? 

This recipe is from the fantastic site "One Green Planet." Their recipes are always spot-on and this is no exception. True, strawberries in November is a tiny stretch, but I bet at Thanksgiving you'll find them. I'm betting that other fruit would work well in this cheesecake as well: mango, raspberry, blueberry. 

I remember the first time I used Medjool dates in my baking.... I was skeptical. Now, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. So if you're new to 'raw' baking - fear NOT! It's simple and super tasty - better than using butter and eggs. 

1 C buckwheat flour
1/2 C walnuts
8 Medjool dates
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

2 C soaked raw cashews
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 C coconut oil
4 dates
2 t vanilla
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 t salt

2 C strawberries
4 Medjool dates
juice of 1/2 lemon

Blend flour and walnuts in food processor. Add dates, vanilla and salt and continue to blend until well incorporated. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan.

Combine the filling ingredients in a blender except for the coconut oil. Melt the coconut oil and add it to the blender. Pour the filling over the crust and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Blend the strawberries, dates and lemon juice till smooth. Pour over the top of the cheesecake when ready to serve. Garnish with more strawberries.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Creamy Corn Gazpacho (

This photo is my soup made with red (rather than yellow) tomatoes. Please be sure to use yellow tomatoes for the original glorious yellow color. 
Everyone and their uncle is going bonkers for pumpkins at this time of year, however I only think of pumpkins at Thanksgiving. There is still plenty of time on the calendar for other vegetables. And cold soup is not out of season yet in my kitchen.

Here is a time I made this with red tomatoes. Yellow is the preferred color though.

This recipe was very unusual and completely refreshing. Since it is a raw soup, it came together in a matter of minutes. I think the garnishes are important because you want nice contrasting colors. I also think, in a jam, you could get away with using frozen corn, but seriously, there's nothing better than fresh corn on a cob.

Basically, you put everything in a blender and whirl to your desired consistency. I left mine just the tiniest bit chunky.

Another reason that I'm posting this 'summer' soup now in the autumn, is because I'm going to try heating the soup after blending. I know it will be great.

(from Linda Wagner) Creamy Corn Gazpacho
4 ears raw sweet corn - 3 for soup and one for garnish - kernels removed
1 can white beans, drained
1 yellow pepper, seeds and veins removed, chopped in pieces
1/2 shallot
2 C yellow tomatoes, cubed
3/4 C almond milk
1/4 C water
juice of 1 lime
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and cut in pieces
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for garnish

Place ingredients in a blender. Serve cold.  Choose garnishes that contrast well with the flavors and color of the soup: cilantro, tomatoes, black pepper, olive oil, green peas, more corn kernels.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oven Baked Onion Rings (Ellie Krieger)

Raise your hand if you're guilty of eating an entire "Blooming Onion" at The Outback.
 I've come close. 

The problem with fried onion rings, besides being totally greasy, is that they get way too cold, way too soon, and you're left with a plate of mushy deep fried breading. And you want to keep eating! Am I right?

Another problem with fried restaurant onion rings is that the portion is so dang small. Who can really eat only 4 onion rings? (Well, if they're cold and greasy, I guess I could.)

All the classic onion ring problems are magically solved with this incredible recipe from Ellie Krieger.  I make these all the time and apart from the mess you create while making them, they are perfection.

Here's what you need: 
1 large bag of baked potato chips (Lays brand is best)
1/2 t cayenne
1 C soy milk or other plain plant milk
12 C plus 2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1-2 large Vidalia onions
Spray oil (like Pam)

Here's what you do: 
Spray a baking sheet and set aside. Oven at 450 degrees. Put potato chips in food processor and turn into fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to shallow bowl and add cayenne. Set aside. In another shallow bowl combine milk, 2 T flour, salt and black pepper. Set aside. Slice onions into 1/2 inch rings, saving the smaller pieces for another use. You need about a dozen rings.

Place the remaining flour in a plastic bag and add the onions. Shake the bag until each onion is totally covered in flour.

Here's the fun part! Dip each onion ring into the milk mixture, then into the potato chip mixture.  Shake off any clumps. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Spray canola oil over the tops of the rings and bake for 20 minutes or until coating is crisp. Season with salt and serve immediately. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Celery Salad with Miso Dressing (

Celery is surprisingly nutritious.  It's loaded with vitamins K and C. It's great in all kinds of soups and stews; I even put it in my chunky spaghetti sauce sometimes. I never really ate much celery as a kid and I often forget about eating it as a snack or raw vegetable now-a-days too. But I feel as if I have found the BEST way to eat celery! I made this salad about a dozen times this summer: small servings for my husband and me and large amounts for potlucks. Always rave reviews. 

The best thing about this salad is how unusual it is -  uncommonly delicious. Plus, it's gorgeous on a plate or large platter.

2 cloves minced garlic (or use a garlic press)
1 T light miso
1 T dijon
2 t agave
4 T olive oil

8 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into very thin slices
1/4 C toasted walnuts
coarsely ground black pepper for garnish

baby lettuce or bib lettuce

Whisk the dressing ingredients and pour over sliced celery. Mix well. Arrange celery over leaves of soft lettuce. Garnish with toasted walnuts and cracked black pepper. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Spinach Potato Tacos (Forks Over Knives)

Vegan Month of Food Day 28: Tacos or Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

OK. Today's topic is unusually cruel and incredibly difficult. Who in their right mind can choose between a taco and a burrito? But I guess if push comes to shove, I have to say 'TACO.' I do love eating food with my hands and a taco is so conveniently arranged to fit in the hand.  

My funny taco story is from decades ago when I was traveling on "La Flecha Roja" bus from Mexico City to Taxco with my girlfriend. We were saving money and traveling the cheap way, which meant there were nursing babies, drunk men and bleating goats on the bus with us. The bus stopped a million times along the way - people coming and going. I think the bus actually broke down (unless that's another life event from my travels through Mexico. I can't rightly remember.)

One stop in particular on this memorable bus trip  has stuck with me and has become a fond family joke. It was hot that day. Really hot. The bus was crowded. Really crowded. There was no breeze, no air conditioning, no relief.  We had pulled along side the road for some mysterious reason and out of nowhere came a little boy, maybe 10 years old. He was holding a plastic bag which was filled with tacos. Greasy, wet, spicy tacos. He called out in his tiny voice, "Tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos!" As the passengers paid, he reached in and handed them a tiny bean taco wrapped in more plastic. I'll never forget the look and smell of those tacos. We did not indulge in a taco that day, but since then, I have had some of the most amazing food while traveling in Mexico - tacos and otherwise.  

Here's a gourmet taco from Forks Over Knives (I reduced cumin and swapped jalapenos for poblanos)

Here's what you need:
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in small bite size pieces
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and totally squeezed of all water. Wring it out in a kitchen.
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 C unsweetened plant milk
3 T nutritional yeast

Here's what you do:
Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender. Drain and set aside.  Sautee the onions and pepper in a tiny bit of oil, or use the water method. (Add the veg to a dry pan and slowly cook, adding 1 T of water at a time until soft and brown.) Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute. Add the spinach, potatoes, milk and nutritional yeast. Simmer and stir until well incorporated and thickened.

Serve on toasted flour tortillas or toasted corn tortillas. Cilantro would be a great topping. I served mine with a corn and mango salsa.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pantry Bean Soup

Vegan Month of Food Day 26: It's cold and rainy and there's a snow drift outside your door!
What are you going to make using the ingredients you have? 

Today we're supposed to imagine that a snowdrift has stranded us in our kitchen and we must cook from our pantry. This has actually happened to me, so it's not hard to imagine at all! But I hope all you folks in sunny California and Arizona and Florida can imagine a snow drift outside your house...... here, let me help you.... 
Won't be long till the white stuff in here. 

Near my house, on Winter street. No joke. 

There's a car under there.  A beautiful blue Jetta. 

I actually did make this soup from only pantry ingredients. The photos have been on my camera for a while, so I don't have exact ingredients or amounts, but I guess that's what happens when a snow drift traps you in the kitchen! You create!
Looks like carrots, dried tomatoes, frozen peas, veg broth, and some type of grain. Maybe yellow lentils?

I see red onion and potatoes. Turmeric and curry and sriracha. I bet I did not add garlic. I think garlic is sometimes overused.