Sunday, December 30, 2012


Don't ask me why, but I have never made falafel from scratch before.  Considering that this was something we ate often at home; a "staple", you would think it would not take me 47 years to finally try to make this on my own.

They were really good, far better (and really just as easy) as anything that comes out of a box. I used canned chickpeas for convenience as the family is traveling on vacation week but when I do this again (and  will)  I will cook the chickpeas myself (and probably incorporate fava beans as well).  If you have not made falafel from scratch before what are you waiting for?

I served them in multi grain pita bread with chopped onion, tomato and cucumber, shredded lettuce and tahini sauce with a side of tabbouleh salad.


3 15 oz cans chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3/4 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
3 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp cumin
4 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying (I used grape seed)

Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or more)
4 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture turns into a thick paste. 

Place about 2" of oil in a sauce pan and heat to 350 degrees.  Form the chickpea paste into balls and deep fry for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown on all sides.  Remove from oil with a spider or slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

To make the tahini sauce mix all ingredients in a food processor.  The quantities above are approximate, add lemon juice to the desired taste and consistency for the sauce.

Serve in pita bread with your choice of topping and tahini sauce if desired.

Makes about 12-18 falafel depending on how large or small you make them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Linzer Cookies

I have never had a Linzer cookie before.  Baked goods with jelly or jam in them are not usually my favorite. I don't usually go for fruit filled pastries or jelly doughnuts. Just not my thing, I guess.

I recently wanted to make some cookies to take to a friends holiday party. Not being much of a baker I tried to find a recipe that would be easy to veganize. I came across Ina Garten's recipe for Mini Linzer Cookies and decided to try it mostly because it seemed pretty easy. It was.

The cookies were good, and pretty.

You can see mine were not minis, you might call them one complained but you can make them any size you want. The amount of jam in the recipe assumes a smaller cookie.

One tip: make sure the butter is softened to room temperature before you start. If the butter is cold this will not work.  Trust me, I learned the hard way.

Linzer Cookies

3/4 pound (3 sticks) vegan butter, softened
1 cup organic unbleached sugar
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups unbleached organic all purpose flour
3/4 cup raspberry jam
Confectioners sugar for dusting

In a stand mixer add the butter and sugar.  Beat until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. If you do not have a stand mixer you could use a hand mixer.

In a large bowl sift the flour. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix on low until the dough starts to come together.  Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Form it into a disc with your hands, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for thirty minutes.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll the dough gently on a flat, floured surface unti about 1/4" thick.  Cut cookies using a cookie cutter.  With half of the cookies use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center.  This will serve as the top half and allow the jam to show through.

Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool .  Once cooled spread some jam on the solid cookie half. Place a cut out cookie half in some confectioners sugar and then place the flat sice on top of the solid cookie to form a sandwich.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Dragon Keeper- A Book Review

I don't like zoos.  Even as a kid I realized that it was wrong to deprive animals of their natural habitat.  Seeing a cheetah with little to no ability to run, or a polar bear living in climates where temperatures can get up to 100 degrees just always felt inherently wrong.  Trapping wild animals and holding them captive for entertainment purposes seems not fair or justified.

And, while I don't like zoos, I do believe that most zookeepers love their animals and do everything they can to keep them happy, healthy and content. Meg Yancy, the central character in The  Dragon Keeper, is no exception. In fact, she just may be too attached to Jata, the Komodo Dragon she tends to at the fictional Zoo of America.

When Jata gives birth to three hatchlings, a seemingly impossible event given Jata has never mated with a male, Yancy becomes obsessed with the care of Jata and her hatchlings.  Though romance and drama sometimes divert Yancy's attention she remains foremost committed to the dragon and her hatchlings.  Through her relationships with her boyfriend, her Father, her coworkers, the zoo's veterinarian who cares more for his own career than the animals and briefly, the media, we see that Yancy is far more skilled in relating to animals than to other human beings.

Through her experience of caring for Jata and her hatchlings, Yancy learns that in life, as with wild animals, not all things can be controlled. This is a skillfully, well researched story that will keep your attention from the very first page.  The book will entertain you, but more importantly make you question the ethics of keeping animals in captivity. 

"Every captive life is a deprived life."

A stunning first novel by Mindy Mejia, this is well worth the read and would make for some interesting book club discussion.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Arancini (Rice Balls) and The Vegg

Arancini, or Rice Balls are a family tradition. We grew up eating them, and it seems that have resurfaced within the family as some of my cousins have been making them again.

Our families recipe consists of ground beef and pea stuffed arancini- clearly not vegan. And of course the egg used to bind them? Not vegan, either.

For some reason I became inspired to try a vegan version of this family tradition. Substituting the ground beef is easy, as is the Parmesan cheese but the egg yolks called for to bind the rice? Not as simple.  The Vegg to the rescue!

I was recently offered the opportunity to try The Vegg- a vegan egg substitute developed by Rocky Shepheard of State College, PA.  The timing of the offer to sample this product was near perfect- it really simplified my dilemma in terms of how to make an entirely vegan rice ball!

Not only does The Vegg behave like egg yolks, it looks and even smells like egg yolks!  Thanks, Rocky for the chance to sample this great product- I cannot wait to try Hollandaise sauce!

Anyway, back to the Rice Balls.  I will tell you this recipe should come with a warning-- it is aof a pain to make but it does taste delicious.  It took me a lot of trial and error to be able to cook these so they did not fall apart.  I tried to pan fry them as opposed to deep frying them and let me tell you- it does not work (as evidenced by the huge pile of rice and filling I had to retrive out of the pan (it did make a nice rice casserole, though that is for another post).

So, if you are afraid of deep frying, don't bother!  If you are OK with a little decadence once in a while, especially if Arancini is a tradition in your family, give it a whirl!

Oh, and one more really cool thing about The Vegg?  The proceeds go to Compassion Over Killing.  Sweet!

Arancini (Rice Balls)
1 lb cooked white rice, cooled to room temperature0
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb meatless ground crumbles (such as Boca)
2-3 tbsp plain tomato sauce
15 oz frozen peas, thawed
Equivalent of 4-5 egg yolks, using The Vegg's preparation directions
1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese (my recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 cup (or more) plain bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Vegan Parmesan Cheese* 
Mix the following in a food processor:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup raw cashews
Salt to taste

Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the crumbles, season with salt and peper and cook until heated through. Add the peas and 1 tbsp tomato sauce, stir and set aside.

Place rice in a large bowl add the egg yolk equivalents, vegan Parmesan cheese, the other tbsp of vegan Parmesan and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.

To assemble the rice balls use an ice cream scoop. Pack the scoop with the rice, make an indent with your thumb and then push the rice out of the scoop.  Place on a platter with the indent side up and fill with the ground crumble mixture.  Scoop some more rice into the ice cream scoop and pack well. Push out of the scoop place on top of the filled portion on the platter to form a ball.

I found that the the more firmly you pack the ice cream scoop with rice the better the balls will stay together when frying.  It will also help to pick up the ball and ensure the rice is firmly packed  by using your hands to press it together gently.  Repeat until both the rice and filling mixtures are gone.

Mix the 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tbs non dairy milk together and whisk.  Using a brush or your hands coat each ball with the mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs.

Fill a pot with enough oil and heat over medium high heat.  Be sure you use enough oil that the rice balls will be completely submerged.  When the oil is hot gently drop the rice balls into the oil using a spider. Allow to fry a few minutes until golden brown all over.  Remove from the oil using a spider- be gentle- they are rather delicate!  Place on paper towels to drain.

Allow to cool slightly and serve.

*Note: this makes more than the recipe calls for. Save the rest n the refrigerator for use in other recipes. The recipe I used for the vegan Parmesan cheese can be found here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Peppermint Patties

I am finally getting into the holiday spirit. I am well on my way to completing my shopping and am starting to feel relaxed enough to spend a little time in the kitchen preparing some holiday goodies.  My most recent adventure is vegan peppermint patties- but with a twist.  These are all dressed up for the holidays.

I used to keep the mini York Peppermint Patties in my freezer- they are great as a frozen treat. Since going vegan I have stopped keeping them in the house and have occasionally lamented their frozen minty goodness.  That is until today.

I recently saw this recipe online for rainbow peppermint patties.  I figured it would easy enough just to use green, red and white to make them a perfect Christmas treat. I was right. And guess what? They are just as good frozen as the original York Peppermint Patties were!

Christmas Peppermint Patties

5 cups confectioners sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
Red and green gel food coloring (I used Wilton which according to the company are vegan)
16 oz vegan chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli Semi Sweet

In the bowl of a stand mixer (if you do not have a stand mixer you could use a hand mixer) add 4 1/2 cups of the sugar, the corn syrup, water, vegetable shortening and peppermint extract.  Beat until just combined.

Remove the dough and turn onto a board that is sprinkled with the balance of the sugar.  Knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.  Divide the dough into three equal pieces and add red food coloring to one and green to the other.  Knead the balls to incorporate the color.  Divide each ball in half again. You should end up with two of each: white, red and green.

Roll each ball into a snake shape. Place each between two sheets of parchment paper and roll them out into about 1/4 inch thick rectangular shapes with a rolling pin.  You will end up with six sheets of dough.  Be sure to make them wide enough to roll lengthwise (this link provides a nice tutorial with visual representation of the process).  While still in the parchment paper place the sheets in the refrigerator for about fifteen minutes to cool.

Once cooled remove the dough from the refrigerator.  Gently remove each sheet from the parchment paper and stack them on top of one another so that the colors alternate. You should have six layers in all: white, red, green, white, red green.  Trim one end of the stack lengthwise in  order to get a clean edge.  Gently roll the dough lengthwise and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for one hour.

When the dough is frozen remove it from the freezer, unwrap it and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Turn the roll slightly with each cut so the round shape is maintained.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate.  Using a dipping fork (if you do not have one a meat fork works well) to dip the dough into the chocolate.  Shake off the excess gently and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Once all are dipped place the baking sheet in the freezer for the candies to set.

Enjoy frozen, refrigerated or at room temperature.

To store, separate the candies between sheets of wax paper in order to ensure they do not stick.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Quite some time ago my daughter and I took a heart healthy macrobiotic cooking class with Christina Pirello of Christina Cooks. During the class, she made a curried red lentil soup that my daughter absolutely loved.

Since today was a bit of a foggy, gloomy morning soup sounded like a good idea. Given what I had on hand in both the fridge and pantry this soup seemed like a good idea.  I did not follow the recipe exactly (when do I ever?).  I did not have canned diced tomatoes so I opted for a little more liquid and tomato paste.

I also try not to cook with water for savory recipes. Whenever it seems appropriate I use vegetable stock- I find you get a better depth of flavor and a little extra nutritional kick. Just adjust the amount of salt you use based on your veggie stock- some can be pretty salty (which is why I make my own).

This came out great and warmed our bellies on this gloomy fall day.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
1 tsp avocado oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute until softened- a few minutes.  Add the curry powder and stir.  Add the celery and carrot and continue to cook a few minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and give a quick stir to incorporate, and the add the lentils, bay leaf and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for about 35 minutes until lentils are tender and creamy.

Serve garnished with cilantro if desired.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

I just love potatoes.  All forms- fries, baked, mashed, parsley, rusett, red bliss, Idaho, etc... Well, you get it.

Tonight I made some mini red bliss potatoes into "smashed potatoes" and they were great. Most recipes you see call for boiling them, smashing them and then cooling them to room temperature before baking them.  I did not have enough time to cool them so I took a short cut and just ran some cool water over them before smashing them... worked perfectly.

Smashed Potatoes

6 baby red bliss potatoes
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the potatoes.  Boil until fork tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain in a colander and run cool water over them until they are cool enough to handle.

Lay a kitchen towel down and fold a second towel into quarters. Lay a potato on the towel and use the folded towel to gently smash the potato.  Transfer to a baking sheet.

Pour the olive oil over the potatoes and sprinkle with the thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Place in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until crispy on the outside.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Apple Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

I love Brussels Sprouts.  My better half? Not so much.  Actually I would say that exactly as much as love Brussels he hates them.  I keep trying different preparations hoping that he might try them but, until now, I had more or less lost hope.

I served this slaw last night with dinner. He ate all of what I put on his plate and said "that's not bad?". I 'll take it.

I think the key is that these are served raw- no stinky cooking process and the result is very similar to a cabbage based slaw (only better if you ask me).

I got the recipe from Williams-Sonoma's website. The only modification I made was to us a little extra lemon juice in the dressing.  Next time, I will also add some dried cranberries as I think it would make a great addition to the dish.

If you think you don't like Brussels sprouts I dare you to try this and still claim you don't like them!

Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Apple Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 tsp plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp unbleached organic sugar
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 lb Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp whole grain mustard (I used Dijon)
3 tbsp maple syrup
Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine the pecans, 1 1/2 tsp oil, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper.   Toss to coat.  Place on a baking sheet and put into the oven to toast- about ten minutes or so.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a food processor with a grater attachment shred the Brussels sprouts (if you do not have a food processor you could grate by hand or cut very thinly with a knife).  Transfer to a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl whisk together the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, whole grain mustard and maple syrup.  Slowly add the rest of the olive oil whisking constantly.

Add to shredded Brussels sprouts and toss to coat.  Roughly chop the pecan halves and add to the sprouts.  Allow to stand for about fifteen minutes before serving  to allow the sprouts to wilt slightly.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Butternut Squash Cranberry Muffins

Do you ever get lazy and buy the prepared butternut squash in the grocery store? You know, the peeled, seeded and cubed stuff all ready for cooking?  Though I am not a stranger to peeling and seeding a butternut squash I have to admit I take this convenience route sometimes.

Today I opened the veggie drawer and saw the lovely butternut squash I bought last week-- definitely in need of being used ASAP.  Though love butternut squash in savory dishes but wanted to try my hand at something sweet this time.  So, as any good blogger would do I took to the Internet and found a few sweet recipes using butternut squash. I decided on muffins, something I have never made before.

The recipe was decidedly not vegan but I like to fancy myself  someone that can veganize almost anything.  These are my first attempt at a vegan muffin and certainly won't be my last. They are SO GOOD!

On another note, if you have not heard I have been selected as a candidate for Epikur Magazine's Philly Top Writer of the Year! I would be most appreciative of your vote. You can click here or on the Epikur Magazine nomination banner to your right. Thank you very much!

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Muffins

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unbleached organic cane sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G, applesauce or a flax egg should work)
1/2 cup avocado oil*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, rough chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease or line a twelve muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

In a second bowl add the butternut squash, egg replace, oils and non dairy milk.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry all at once and stir to incorporate. Do not overmix.  Fold in the cranberries.

Place the batter into the muffin tin in equal portions. You should have enough for just twelve muffins.  Place in the oven at 375 for ~20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Allow to cool and serve.

*Note: Avocado oil adds a lovely buttery flavor to baked goods but is very expensive. If you do not have or do not want to use avocado oil you can certainly use all vegetable oil.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli and Philly's Top Writer 2012

I am really excited to have been nominated as a candidate for Epikur Magazine's Philly's Top Writer for 2012! I am the lone vegan nominee and hope to represent the vegan community with a strong showing! Voting is simple- just a couple of clicks.  Go to Epikur Magazine, click "Top Philly Food Writer" across the top then scroll down to find Lee Khatchadourian-Reese. That's it!  Thanks for your consideration- they are featuring my Baked Almond "Feta" post (one of my favorite recipes) if you want to check it out.

Ok, enough of that- on to my latest cooking creation- Pumpkin Ravioli. This one I just made up as I went along. Really simple flavors that make for a hearty and filling meal. And the use of wonton wrappers instead of pasta makes this even simpler- no messing with rolling out pasta dough, though if you wanted to do that you certainly could. The sauce also came together easily and was a nice compliment to the ravioli.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Thyme and Sage Brown Butter

For the ravioli:
Wonton wrappers (check labels, not all are vegan)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for one hour and drained
2 oz vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like a little heat)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1/2 cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance
1 tbsp fresh thyme plus some for garnish
1 tsp rubbed sage (you can use fresh if you have it, I did not)
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (or nut of your choice)
Pepper to taste

Prepare the ravioli filling by adding all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until very smooth.

To make the ravioli place some parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Place a wonton wrapper on the parchment, add one teaspoon of pumpkin filling in the center.  Brush water around the edges of the wonton wrapper, about a quarter inch around. Place another wrapper on top and press around the edges to seal, ensuring that you are not sealing in air.  Repeat until you run out of filling.  This made twenty ravioli for me.

Cover the baking sheet with a towel or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When ready to cook the ravioli bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

As the water begins boiling place the vegan butter in a large skillet and heat over medium.  Add the thyme,sage and pepper and allow to cook until vegan butter becomes foamy and starts to become a bit brown.

Add the ravioli to the boiling water and allow to cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the water with a spider and place into the melted butter mixture. Toss gently to coat and add the chopped toasted hazelnuts.

Serve immediately garnished with fresh thyme.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Peach Cobbler

I have been on a bit of a tear to use up all sorts of stuff in my always packed freezer.  A couple of days ago I used some frozen berries to make a Mixed Berry Crisp and it was good (and now gone).  I still had a bag of frozen peaches in the freezer so this morning I decided to try out a Peach Cobbler.

I have never had a peach cobbler before so I cannot tell you how it compares to non vegan versions but this one was rather good.

The only thing missing was that I did not have any So Delicious Ice Cream to serve with it; but rest assured ice cream is now on the shopping list!

Peach Cobbler

16 oz frozen peaches, thawed
1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unbleached organic sugar
3 tbsp turbinado sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, unbleached sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the non dairy milk and stir to form a batter.  Set aside.

Melt the vegan butter in a baking dish (an 8 inch square dish would work well).  Add the batter to the melted butter.

In a small bowl mix the peaches, turbinado sugar and cinnamon.  Toss to coat well.

Add the peaches to the baking dish with the butter and batter.

Place in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the dish comes out clean. The top should be lightly browned.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Note: I used this recipe as the inspiration for my peach cobbler.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quinoa, Brown Rice and Pine Nut Sliders

For those of you who are regular readers you know I am not a big fan of leftovers I usually cook once and eat once and leave the leftovers for somebody else or freeze them for another time when they won't feel like leftovers. But every once in a while you get some leftovers that you can transform into a completely new meal. I love when that happens!

Take for instance the recipe for Pine Nut Stuffed Mushrooms my Mother in Law recently made while visiting (coincidentally, the recipe was written for Clean Eating by my friend Amie Valpone aka The Healthy Apple!).  They were really good but we only had enough mushrooms to use half the stuffing so I ended up with the rest of the stuffing in the fridge.

Hmmm.... I thought... the leftover mixture would make a perfect burger.. but what to do to bind them?  Some flax seed meal did the trick! A little added salt, pepper and sriracha sauce and wow, did these make awesome little burgers!

I served this with a massaged kale salad. Perfect!

Quinoa, Brown Rice and Pine Nut Sliders

4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
1/2 cup quinoa cooked
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pine nuts finely chopped
2 tbsp organic salsa
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp sriracha sauce

In a small skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until it turns translucent.  Add carrots, rice, quinoa, pine nuts, salsa, salt and pepper.  Continue to saute until heated through.  Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Allow to cool until it is not to hot to touch.

Add 2 tbsp flaxseed meal to a small dish and cover wit hot water.  Let sit until water is absorbed by the flaxseed. Stir and add to the quinoa mixture.  Add the sriracha sauce and stir to incorporate.

Form the mixture into burgers (either eight slider size or four regular size).

In a skillet over medium heat the rest of the olive oil (you can do this in the same pan you made the mixture in).  When oil is hot add the burgers and allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until bot sides are golden brown and the burgers are heated through.

Serve immediately garnished with some more sriracha sauce if desired.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mixed Berry Crisp

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and thankfully we survived with no major issue.  Even more thankfully, at least in the minds of my children, Halloween was not canceled or postponed.  As they went off trick or treating I decided to make a treat of my own.

I had a bunch of frozen berries in the freezer and decided it was time to use them and make some room in my always crowded freezer.  What do do with these lovely berries? Hmm.. a berry crisp? Yep, a berry crisp.

Far better than any Halloween candy I can think of, don't you agree?

Mixed Berry Crisp

For the topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
6 tbsp vegan butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

For the filling:
~12 oz frozen blueberries, thawed
~12 oz frozen strawberries, thawed
~12 oz frozen raspberries, thawed
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl add all of the topping ingredients. With your fingers, potato masher, fork or pastry cutter mix ingredients until it resembles large crumbs.  Set aside.

In a large bowl mix the filling ingredients and stir to incorporate.

In a lightly greased casserole dish add the filling and top with the crumb topping.  Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and top is golden brown.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: Since fresh berries are not in season I used frozen but fresh would work as well.
Note: The filling quantities for the fruit do not need to be exact- I estimated based on what was left in each of the open frozen bags of fruit I used.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lentil Casserole a'la The Young Ones

Who remembers the British comedy from the 1980s titled The Young Ones?  It only aired two seasons but my friends and I were... well... obsessed. It is a show that depicts the antics of four seemingly incompatible and decidedly unique guys who lived together as roommates.  It is hilarious. Not in a normal way but in a sort of sick, twisted but really funny way.

Anyway, over the weekend a bunch of us got together to do a Young Ones marathon. The first episode of the first season, titled "Destruction" begins with the "hippie" of the group preparing dinner- a lentil casserole.  Of course I had to make a lentil casserole for our gathering!  If you would like to watch this episode just click here.  Absolute classic!

You will notice, though, I failed to include the dish detergent in my version of the lentil casserole :)  It still turned out great!

Lentil Casserole

For the casserole:
1 cup lentils, rinsed
2 cups white wine
1 cup  water
2 tsp mixed herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, marjoram and tarragon)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrot, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 kale leaves, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, rough chopped
1/2 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
2 cups unseasoned croutons (they type used to make stuffing)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste
1 tbsp melted vegan butter
Paprika for sprinkling (optional)

In a sauce pan add the wine, water, sugar, and mixed herbs.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

While lentils are simmering add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium.  Add the carrot, green onions, red pepper and kale.  Season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables sart to soften and the kale is wilted.  Turn off the heat and and the pecans and walnuts. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Once the lentils are cooked add to a casserole dish and stir in the sautéed vegetables. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the heat in the oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the topping by putting the 2 cups croutons to a large bowl with the 3 tbsp olive oil and thyme.  Add salt to taste.  Place on top of the casserole and pour the melted vegan butter on top.  Sprinkle with paprika if desired and place back into the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drunken Braised Mushroom Stew

I recently bought the most beautiful fresh organic cremini and shitake mushrooms at Wegman's. They really deserved special treatment so I decided to go all out and braise them in a wine sauce, something you might typically see in a short rib type recipe.

This was so easy to pull together and it was absolutely delicious. I served it over pasta and have some left over which I am going to serve on some toasted crusty bread- sort of like a mushroom crostini.

I hope that you are inclined to try this- if you like mushrooms and wine you really cannot go wrong. And as a bonus it really makes the house smell great while cooking!

Drunken Braised Mushroom Stew

2 tbsp vegan butter
9 shitake mushrooms sliced thick
12 oz cremini mushrooms sliced thick
1 carrot peeled and diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
t tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup hearty red wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp flour
Vegan sour cream (optional)

Heat 1 tbsp of the vegan butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook just long enough until they start to brown but do not yet release their juices.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  

In the same pan add the other tablespoon of vegan butter. Add the carrot and shallot and saute until the shallot turns translucent and the carrot begins to soften. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook for a minute or two.  Pour the wine and vegetable stock into the pan and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil until the the liquid is reduced by about half.  Add in the mushrooms and flour, stir and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer, uncovered until the mushrooms are tender- about ten or fifteen minutes.

Serve over pasta or rice with a dollop of vegan sour cream if desired.

Note: the mushrooms should be thickly sliced so that they retain their meaty texture.  Be sure to choose hearty mushrooms as button mushrooms will not stand up to braising very well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Biscuits

I am really enjoying fall.  I love squash of all sorts and have been enjoying cooking all sorts of squash dishes.  Since no one in the family but me seems to like it I  have been eating a lot of it! I finished the squash casserole I recently made in a weekend- all  by myself! Hey, no shame in that!

Perhaps it is a result of a Middle Eastern and Italian background where big family gatherings were always centered around food... and lots of it!

I decided to try pumpkin biscuits.  They just sounded good to me.  I browsed the web, found a bunch of recipes and what I came up with was really a mix of a bunch of different recipes, but to be sure, I will give credit to this one for most of my inspiration.

Pumpkin Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour plus some for dusting
1 1/2 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp cold vegan butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened)
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper.  Add the vegan butter and use a pasty cutter or fork to incorporate the butter.  The mixture should be the consistency of rough crumbs.  Set aside.

In another bowl mix the pumpkin, non dairy milk, molasses and agave nectar.  Slowly add to the dry ingredients mixing until a dough forms.

Dust a cutting board with flour and roll the dough to a one inch thickness.  Using a biscuit cutter or other round mold cut the biscuits out and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Place in the oven for about 15 minutes.  They should be golden brown.

Remove and cool on the baking sheet slightly before serving.

Note- I served these with a roasted jalapeño "butter".
Note: The dough was quite wet.  Just use enough flour to keep it from sticking to your board.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brussels Sprout Casserole

You may recall that I have been "practicing" for my holiday meal this year (I have Christmas dinner this time).  I tried this "Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce recipe made with Field Roast and it was awesome.  Along with it I mad a Brussels Sprout Casserole; it is almost exactly the same as this Green Bean Casserole but with Brussels sprouts.

I am torn between which one I like more- the green bean or the Brussels. I am thinking I make one casserole at the holiday divided on each side- one side green beans and the other Brussels sprouts.

I am feeling pretty good about the upcoming holidays this year.  How about you?

Brussels Sprout Casserole

~ 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts cut in half and lightly steamed
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, melt 1/4 cup of the Earth Balance and add the flour.

Allow to cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, garlic and onion powders. Stir constantly, until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy. Whisk in the vegetable oil and nutritional yeast.

Place the steamed Brussels sprouts in a bowl and add the gravy. Toss to coat. Put the misture into a small casserole dish.

Top with the French fried onions.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and warmed through.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Squash Casserole

I love, love, love squash of all kinds. Unfortunately the rest of my family does not share my love of squash. But, that does not stop me from cooking with it- especially during the fall months.  Who knows maybe one of these days I will find one they like As they say... try, try again!

I thought this was really great. Total comfort food! I used this basic recipe but instead of using zucchini or yellow squash I used what I had on hand- one small acorn, one small butternut and one small delicata.

Absolutely delicious!

Squash Casserole

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 delicata squash, peeled seeded and cut into pieces
1 medium red onion, diced
1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
3 tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (I love Parmela)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp vegan butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On the stove top lightly steam the squash and onion until just tender.  Drain and put into a large bowl.

Add the egg replacer, mayo, vegan parmesan and salt and pepper to the squash mixture. Toss lightly to coat.

Turn into a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and pour the melted butter ove the top.  Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and warmed through.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Lemon Caper Sauce

I have had a couple of packages of pre-made gnocchi in the house for a while.  We keep threatening to cook them but never seem to get to it.   A couple Friday nights ago we opted for simple and easy since we were heading out later that night.

Doesn't really get much simpler or easier than gnocchi so I decided to go for it. I had the Wegman's brand, the whole wheat variety, on hand. The stuff is pre-packaged and sold in the pasta aisle, requires no refrigeration and is quite good.

I decided on mushrooms and capers because I think they make a really great combination. And, with the lemon the flavor reminds me of piccata- something I really love.

This was the perfect quick meal before a night out on the town!

1 lb whole wheat gnocchi
5 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup capers, drained
Vegan Parmesan cheese for sprinkling (I love Parmela)

Boil a large pot of water and prepare the gnocchi according to package directions..

On the stovetop in a medium to large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and, vegan butter.  When hot add the mushrooms,  thyme and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are starting to soften (a few minutes) and add the lemon juice, zest and pepper. Add cooked,drained gnocchi and capers to the pan and lightly toss to coat.

Serve sprinkled with vegan Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

White Bean Butternut and Kale Soup

I put some navy beans in water to soak one evening without any real plan for them. I was thinking  about a soup of some sort but wasn't 100% convinced so I turned to my Vegan Version Facebook friends to ask for advice.  They gave me all sorts of wonderful suggestions! A big shout out to all of you!

When I went to cook up the beans in the morning it was cold and drizzly so I decided to stick with the soup idea.  I made a variation of my own White Bean and Kale Soup inspired by one of the suggestions I received.

The result?  A delicious hearty and heartwarming soup great for a chilly drizzly day.  And lots of leftovers for later, too.

White Bean Butternut and Kale Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups chopped curly kale, chopped into small pieces
4 cups cooked white beans* (I used Navy)
1 small butternut squash. peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped parsley

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic and onion.  Saute for a few minutes until onion starts to become translucent.  Add the kale and continue to saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.  Once the kale is wilted, add 3 cups of beans, the butternut squash chunks, 3 1/2 cups of vegetable stock and the Italian seasoning. Simmer for about fifteen minutes.

While the soup is simmering, in a blender mix the remaining cup of beans and stock until very smooth.  Add to the soup along with the chopped tomoatoes and continue to simmer for at least another five minutes or so.  Re-season with salt and pepper if desired/needed. Add the parsley, stir and serve.

*If using canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse the beans well.  The amount is about equivalent to 2 1/2 15 oz cans.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fried Sausage Macaroni Bake aka Leftovers

Remember the Sausage Macaroni Bake from the other night?  Crazy good comfort food!  And LOTS leftover- the recipe made a ton!  So what do you do with leftover mac and cheese like stuff?  Fry it, of course!

The only addition to the leftovers was a little bit of So Delicious Coconut Creamer to moisten the mixture a bit and some bread crumbs to roll the sausage macaroni balls in.  I chose olive oil for frying- you could use whatever oil you prefer.

I will be honest, I only took one bite of these (decadent). Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate a couple of them.  Quite good!

Fried Sausage Macaroni Bake

Leftover Sausage Macaroni Bake
Coconut Creamer (I used So Delicious Original)
Bread Crumbs
Oil for frying.

Add enough coconut creamer to the leftovers to moisten but not enough to make it runny.  Form macaroni mixture into balls in your hand and roll in breadcrumb.

Heat enough oil to cover a bottom of a skillet over medium high.  When the oil is hot carefully put the macaroni balls in the oil. Allow to brown and turn gently to ensure browning on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel in order to soak up any residual oil.

Serve while still warm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce (Holiday Prep)

My Mom and I usually "split" the holidays.  Each year one does Thanksgiving dinner while the other does Christmas. This year, I got Christmas.  I actually like  Christmas a little better because Thanksgiving dinner feels just a little too "predetermined" to me.

I am already thinking about what to do for Christmas dinner. I want something that everyone will like and is elegant but not to overwhelmingly time consuming or difficult. While I normally don't mind lengthy or complicated recipes, I want to really be able to enjoy my family on Christmas and not have to spend all my time in the kitchen cooking.

This "Beef" Wellington was something that just sort of came to me one day.  I love Field Roast and we all know everything tastes better wrapped in puff pastry, right?  So I figure the two together would be pretty close to a Wellington. I did not do the duxelles that is traditionally done with a Wellington but if I am feeling ambitions at Christmas time, I may.

With the Wellington I made a bourbon sauce (that was great), some herbed smashed red bliss potatoes and a Brussels Sprout Casserole (that was awesome, too- recipe soon). It was a wonderful family meal that a vegan, a vegetarian and two omnivores enjoyed. I think this will be Christmas dinner this year!

Have you started to think about the holidays yet?  What will be on your table?

"Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce

For the Wellington:
1 Field Roast Celebration Roast, thawed
1 package puff pastry, thawed

For the Bourbon Sauce:
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I used Woodford Reserve but you can use a less expensive bourbon)
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup or more vegetable stock (you may want to adjust for desired consistency)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2-1 tsp Gravy Master (adjust for desired color)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut one sheet of puff pastry into fours.  Slice the field roast into four equal sized portions (I cut the rounded ends off and reserved them for another use).

Place one slice of Field Roast on each puff pastry section and pull the puff pastry together over the slices. I did this by pulling opposite corners in and attaching them to one another in the center.  Pinch to seal and place sealed side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and Field Roast slices.

Place in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

During the last five minutes or so of cooking prepare the sauce by heating the Earth Balance in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the bourbon,vegetable stock, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the gravy master until the desired color is reached. Continue to heat a few more minutes until sauce has reached the desired consistency.

When ready to serve, slice each Wellington in half and drizzle with sauce.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Sausage Macaroni Bake- Yes, It's Vegan!

Sunday was one of those "there is nothing in the house to eat" sort of days.  Instead of going grocery shopping I opted to spend the beautiful fall afternoon with my daughter and nephew at the skate park. They skate boarded and rode their Ripstiks to their little hearts content while I soaked up the sunshine and brisk air.  Clearly I made the right choice- it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

But that doesn't change the fact that there was not too much in the house. I took out some Gimme Lean Sausage to defrost before we went out thinking I will figure something out when I get home.

When it came time to make dinner I looked around for some inspiration and decided on some elbow macaroni, some vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream.  What I ended up with was a really flavorful dish that definitely falls into the comfort food category.

Its a simple meal for a weeknight- takes almost no prep at all.  Give it a try and let me know what you think; I am pretty sure you will like it!

Sausage Pasta Bake

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 package Light Life Gimme Lean breakfast sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 8 oz package vegan cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti brand)
10 oz vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Paprika for sprinkling (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. When hot add the Gimme Lean sausage and break apart using a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste.  Continue to cook until the sausage is nicely crumbled and warmed through.

Add the sausage, cream cheese, sour cream, garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate into the macaroni. Ideally, you will want to do this when the macaroni is still warm as it makes it easier to combine the ingredients well.

Pour into a lightly greased casserole dish and sprinkle the top with the panko breadcrumbs and, if desired, a little bit of paprika.

Bake at 340 for 40 minutes or until bubbly and warmed completely through.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vegan Care Package Swap

This is my first year participating in the Running With Tongs Care package swap.  I was paired up with the lovely Sam of Quantum Vegan and wow, I couldn't have asked for a better person to swap with!

The premise of the swap is to pick up some of your favorite vegan goodies and send them to the person you were paired up with. They do the same for you. Apparently this is the fourth year of this swap, I wish I had known about it earlier.

Sam and I have known one another via the blogospbere for a while- I am a reader of her blog often and we correspond on Twitter and Facebook, too. So, how neat that we were paired up to do this!

Sam sent me an awesome box of goodies filled with things I had never tried before.  And she was thoughtful enough to include many things that are locally produced in the area she lives.

Contained within the package was:

Lundburg Rice Chips (they were delicious)
Lundburg Wild Rice Blend (funny we each sent that to the other!)
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
emmy's Dark Cacao Raw Vegan Macaroons (TO DIE FOR)
Primal Seitan Jerky (both mesquite lime and Thai Peanut)
Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
Dried Pineapple and Mango (one of my favorite snacks)
Rad's Tea Party Soap (it smells WONDERFUL)

As good as everything listed above is... my favorite part? The beautiful, hand written note she included explaining why she chose the things she did and providing information about the products.  Just so thoughtful. Thank you so much Sam!  I really enjoyed your thoughtful choices and am glad to know you!

I am looking forward to next year's swap. This was just too much fun!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mushroom Bruschetta

Recently a friend sent me a link to a mushroom bruschetta recipe that looked great, except that it called for fontina cheese.  I figured I would try my hand at something similar, vegan of course.

It turned out quite well and is omni husband approved.

I hope you enjoy!

Mushroom Bruschetta

5 oz assorted fresh mushrooms, rough chopped (I used shitake and baby bella)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (I used So Delicious brand)
1/4 vegan mozzarella shreds
Salt and pepper to taste
8 rounds crusty bread (I used a ciabatta)
Vegan parmesan for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper.  Saute until mushrooms release their liquid and are reduced by about half.  Set aside.

In another skillet heat the vegan butter and all purpose flour over medium heat until lightly browned and thickened.  Add the coconut milk coffee creamer and whisk until smooth.  Add the vegan mozzarella shreds and continue to whisk until melted and a thick sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the bread rounds on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for a few minutes until starting to toast.  Remove from the oven, top with the mushroom mixture and some of the melted cheese mixture.  Return to the oven for about five minutes until heated through.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with vegan parmesan before serving.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A "First Date" and Hip City Veg- Philadelphia

Finally after three years of knowing one another through the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other varieties of social media I got to meet my friend Laura Jill (LJ) in real life, almost like a "first date". it was GREAT!  She is even more vivacious, energetic and sweet as she is in cyberspace!

Philly Steak

We met up at Hip City Veg- a relatively new vegan eatery in the heart of Philadelphia. I have been there a few times as I am lucky to work right around the corner from their location on 18th Street.

Ziggy Burger

We had a great lunch- LJ opted for the Philly Steak- a seitan version of the classic. I got the Ziggy Burger- a tempeh burger with lettuce tomato and a special sauce. We both got some sweet potato fries (which come with a cilantro black bean dipping sauce).

If you find yourself in Philly this little place is a must for a quick, reasonably priced lunch. The food was great but I must say the company was stellar!  My only regret-- we forgot to get a picture together (whoops!).

And lucky for me, she is supposed to be back soon! I can't wait to hang out again.  Where shall we go next, LJ?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Squash Cakes

My friend Koren recently posted a recipe to her Facebook page for Acorn Squash Patties.  They looked great however they called for bacon and eggs so I set out to veganize them. I changed the recipe quite a bit, probably enough to call it my own.

The recipe made 10 cakes, and I think with the addition of the bean puree makes them somewhat of a complete meal. Serve with a green salad and you are all set!

Squash Cakes

1 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
4 tbsp coconut flour
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp liquid smoke (or less depending on how much smokiness you want)
1/4 cup bread crumb
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup cannellini beans (I cooked dried beans but you could used canned as well)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 400.  Place squash open side down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes until the skin is very soft when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Pulse the cannellini beans in a food processor until smooth. Add to a bowl. Scoop the flesh of the squashes and put into the same bowl along with all the other ingredients except the olive oil and mix well.

In a skillet over medium high heat add the olive oil. Once hot form into cakes and place in the skillet allowing them to cook about 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.  Be careful when flipping them as they are quite soft.

Serve immediately.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Seared Tamari Maple Tofu

I love Kathy Patalsky.  Not only is her blog awesome, but she seems like such a genuinely nice person. And the food she cooks- OH MY! She is so creative and seems never to be at a loss for her next recipe. She truly cooks with grace.

I have made many of her dishes in the past, I think my favorite is her cashew nut "cheese" which I use in lasagna regularly.

Today I wanted quick and easy so I tried her Maple-Tamari Seared Tofu. So easy and really delicious.  I changed up the quantities slightly, mostly because when I was cooking my computer (and the recipe) were upstairs.

Seared Tamari Maple Tofu

2 slices tofu (cut into cubes and halved into triangles)
1/4 cup tamari
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbs olive oil

Mix the tamari, maple syrup and liquid smoke in a bowl. Add the tofu and allow to marniate about half an hour.

Heat a skillet over high heat and add the tofu.  Allow the tofu to sear for about two minutes, flip and allow to cook for another two minutes.  While cooking you may spoons some of the marinade over the tofu to create a glaze.

Plate and serve. Simple and delicious!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gardein Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Remember the Crispy Gardein Chik"n Wraps I made the other day?  They were great and I had a bunch of leftover filling.

Instead of making the same thing again I decided to stuff a couple of lightly roasted poblano peppers with the filling and pop them into the oven for a quick dinner.  Yum.

Gardein Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Crispy Gardein Chik'n Wrap Filling (recipe here)
2 poblano peppers, halved, seeded and deveined
Vegan cheddar cheese shreds (just a handful)
Bread crumb
Smoked paprika

Heat the oven to 375 degrees,

Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Place the peppers on the sheet skin side down and roast for about 20 minutes.

Remove the peppers from the oven, add the Crispy Chik'n Gardein filling, sprinkle lightly with vegan cheddar shreds, bread crumb and smoked paprika. Go easy on the smoked paprika- it is powerful stuff! Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Return to the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until filling is heated through, cheese is melted and the top lightly browned.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crispy Gardein "Chick'n" Wraps

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is indeed true, Mel of Mel's Kitchen Cafe you should be sincerely flattered as I did a vegan version of your Crispy Chicken Wraps. Delicious!

I would be remiss not to mention  Gardein , Daiya, Tofutti and Vegenaise. While being vegan does not have to be hard, they certainly make it a little bit easier!


Crispy Gardein "Chick'n" Wraps

4 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini, thawed and chopped
1 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
2 tbsp Tofutti vegan sour cream
3 green onions finely chopped
2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp olive oil
4 whole wheat tortillas (12")
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

In a saute pan over medium heat the olive oil and add the Gardein.  Saute until lightly browned and warmed through.

In a large bowl mix the mayo, sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce, green onions and Gardein. Season with salt and pepper.

Place about 1/4 of the Daiya cheddar on a flour tortilla leaving about a 1/2 inch border.  Place 1/4 the Gardein mixture down the center of the cheese. Fold the tortilla onto itself into thirds leaving the ends open.

Spray the wraps with cooking spray and place seam side down in a  saute pan sprayed with cooking oil and heated over medium heat. Spray the top of the wrap with cooking oil. When the bottom browns and the cheese starts to melt flip and allow to brown on the other side (about two minutes per side).

Serve immediately.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

I have seen a few recipes for fried avocado pop up on the Internet. What's not to love about that? I really don't eat a ton of fried food but this sounded too good not to try.  Since it was just me for dinner tonight I figured I would give it a go and see how it turned out.  One word... awesome!

I used the basic batter recipe I found here, but changed it up a little bit to add a bit of spice. I think next time I will even add a little more heat. All in all a great and pretty easy to make dinner!

Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

1 avocado
1/2 cup lager (I used a light lager)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp salt
Taco Shells
Lime juice
Oil for frying

Heat the oil over high heat in a pot; be sure you make it deep enough to submerge the avocado.

While the oil is heating, mix into a large bowl the lager, flour, paprika, sriracha and salt until a thick batter is formed.  Halve the avocado, remove the pit and score into slices. Carefully remove the skin.  Dip the avocado slices into the batter and then place them in the hot oil.

Fry until golden brown on both sides; a few minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Add the avocado and whatever other toppings you like to your taco shells (I used kale, tomatoes, red onion and a little vegan sour cream).

Drizzle with lime juice and serve.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chorizo and Sweet Potato- A Guest Post

Hi. My name is Camille and my Mom writes The Vegan Version blog because she is vegan and likes to cook, a lot.  I am ten years old and I am vegetarian because I think it is wrong to kill animals.

Last night I cooked dinner because I also like to cook a lot. We had some Helen's Kitchen Veggie Chorizo and peppers in the house and I wanted to try something new. I don't like sweet potatoes, but my Mom does so I made one for her.  I tried some sweet potato but I didn't care for it.

The dinner was easy to make. There was lots of chopping but I know how to use a knife so that part was easy, too. I didn't use a recipe I just made it up as I went along.

Here is what I came up with. Thanks for reading.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato

1 package vegan chorizo
1 sweet potato, baked and sliced
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4 orange pepper, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/4 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pierce the sweet potato with a fork, wrap in foil and place in the oven for about 40-50 minutes depending on the size of the potato.

Once sweet potato is almost finished heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and add the peppers and onions.  Season with salt and pepper. Let cook until starting to soften and add the vegan chorizo (be sure to remove the casing first).  Cook until sausage is lightly browned and warmed through.

Slice the sweet potato and serve topped with sausage mixture.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole (aka junk food dinner)

We have all seen the tater tot casserole recipes floating out there.  To date, I don't think I have ever put a tater tot into a casserole but last night my daughter and I decided tots were what was for dinner. Junk food? Yes. Tasty? You bet.

We decided to go Mexican as she has recently discovered she liked refried beans.  And, as a vegetarian, that is a good thing!

I am sure somebody has done something similar to this I doubt its terribly original. Actually, it isn't much of a "recipe" really, but it is tasty and, yes I had leftovers for breakfast this morning.

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole

1 package frozen tater tots (I used about 70 tots in total)
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar (I used Daiya)
1/2 can refried beans
1//4-1/2 cup salsa
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped fine for garnish, if desired

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Line a lightly greased 9x9 dish.  Line the bottom with tater tots.  Dollop on refried beans, top with the cheddar and salsa and put the rest of the tater tops on top.

Bake for 40 minutes until warmed through and the tater tops on the top are nicely browned.

Garnish with fresh jalapeño if desired.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hazelnut Cannellini Pesto and Mushroom Tart

Life has been so hectic, I have had so little time to spend in my kitchen.  Today, things finally slowed down a bit and I had a chance to just relax and cook, two of the things I like to do best.

This was really quick and easy to throw together, and it tastes great. You may need to adjust the recipe a bit depending on the size tart pan you use.  If you don't have a tart pan, don't worry about  it, you can just use a baking sheet instead.

The bean filling will make enough for a couple of tarts- I like to use the leftovers on sandwiches or as a dip.

Hazelnut Cannellini Pesto and Mushroom Tart

1 package puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
4 shitake mushroom caps, sliced (you may need to adjust based on the size of your pan)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processer add the beans, hazelnuts, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt and non dairy milk. Pulse until very smooth.

Place the puff pastry in a lightly greased tart pan or on a baking sheet.  Spread a thick layer of the bean mixture on the puff pastry. Top with sliced mushrooms. Spray liberally with olive oil cooking spray and dust with pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown.

Friday, August 17, 2012

(Another) Chickpea Salad

My love of chickpeas is no secret to any of you.  I have posted many versions of my favorite lunch, chickpea salad.

Today, I had to scramble to get lunch together... so no surprise, I grabbed some chickpeas, a few veggies and some vegan mayo.

Once the salad was made, I went to grab some bread and lo and behold... not a single slice of bread to be found. What to do what to do? I found the last of a package of flour tortillas- they would have to do.

In fact, they did quite well.

Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/4 cup organic canned corn, rinsed and drained
1 heaping tbsp vegan mayo
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or fork until they are chunky but no longer whole. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

That's it! Delicious, nutritious and really simple!

How do you like to make chickpea salad? I am always looking for a new spin on this favorite dish.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beet Salad, No Protein (?)

Greetings from New York City! I am in town for a few days attending the BlogHer '12 conference with my dear friend JL of JL Goes Vegan and having a blast!

I got into town Thursday afternoon,  checked into my hotel and decided to take a stroll around Midtown. Oh, how I love New York!  I stopped in at a cute cafe for a quick bite. The beet salad sounded awesome, so I ordered it, "hold the cheese".

The salad was not only beautiful, it was delicious! When finished, the waiter brought the check and I noticed it said "Beet Salad No Protein".

What? No cheese means no protein? Hmmm... that doesn't sound right. A quick Google search  "back of the envelope" math revealed that my salad, without the cheese, contained about 8 grams of protein.

Per the standard calculation for recommended protein intake, someone my size requires 45 grams daily. That means that my little beet salad ("no protein") actually contained almost 20 percent of my protein requirement for the day.

As a vegan, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how I can possibly get enough protein. It is unfortunate that there is such a misconception about protein, where it comes from and how much is needed. It is actually pretty easy to get your recommended daily allowance of protein, even without consuming animal products.

I think the next time someone asks me how I get my protein I am going to take that receipt out and walk them through my little math exercise!

How about you? How do you answer the protein question?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Field Roast with Mushroom Gravy

Admittedly I have been all but absent from my kitchen lately.  It has been so hot in the Northeast that I have not felt much like cooking and life has been really busy. I have been traveling a bunch, both for pleasure and for business and really have not had much time to be creative in the kitchen.

Yesterday I was able to get it together enough to defrost the Field Roast Celebration Roast I have had in the freezer for quite some time.  Believe it or not, I have never had the Celebration Roast before (crazy, right?).  I was not particularly optimistic about liking it but in all honesty, I have not been to the grocery store lately and there was not much in the house in terms of dinner so I had to make do with some pretty meager rations.

What a wonderful surprise this was!  Not only did I like the Celebration Roast- I loved it!  I am excited to come up with other, decidedly more creative ways to use this product.

I had not planned on blogging this recipe but a few of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe so I am going to try to document it here.  Measurements are approximations as I did not measure anything while I was cooking.  If you try it just use quantities that feel right to you!

Field Roast with Mushroom Gravy

1 Field Roast Celebration Roast
1 tbsp olive oil
5 shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp minced red onion
1 tbsp fresh thyme
~1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk (or other non dairy milk)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat add the vegan butter. When melted add the flour and stir, cooking for a few minutes until light brown in color.  Add the mushrooms, onions, vegetable stock and salt and pepper. Stir well and allow to cook until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the coconut milk and reduce the heat to low allowing the mixture to cook until the consistency of gravy.

While the gravy is cooking add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a second skillet over medium heat.  Slice the Field Roast (I used three slices) into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.  Add to the olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown.

Top with gravy and serve.