Thursday, December 8, 2011


Just found out I won a copy of Hannah Kaminsky's book, Vegan Desserts, from the wonderful people at Allison's Gourmet!  Just a quick post to say I'm excited!  Hannah did a wonderful presentation for us at Vida Vegan Con, and pointed out a recipe in her book for macarons, which I have been dying to make ever since.  This is such a wonderful treat.  Thank you guys!   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Polenta-Kale Cutlets with Basil Aioli

I would like to think that I am a pretty decent chef at this point, but I don't want to scare people off from cooking by pretending everything I make is always perfect.  We're all learning as we go, and yesterday was a perfect example of that.  The blog post I got the recipe from described it as "simple to make," but I must be missing something because it was oh-so-not-simple for me. 

But isn't the picture pretty?

I followed this recipe, because I loved the idea of cutlets filled with greens.  Any chance to get more greens....  In the end I didn't love the flavor of the cutlets (though the aioli is great and I'm excited to add that to my repertoire), but more importantly, I just had all sorts of trouble.  "Simple" would be the last word I would use to describe the recipe.  I kept the polenta reducing for at least 45 minutes, and it still seemed to have too much moisture.  Any recipe this time intensive is already on the outs for me, and then on top of that when I tried to fry them it was hard to keep them together, although they ended up coming back together in the end.

If you give this one a shot, let me know what you think I might be missing.  I still love the concept. 

Most importantly, I wanted to post as encouragement to the newer cooks out there.  Not everything will come out perfect all the time, and that's ok.  You'll learn from it, even if it's just learning that recipe isn't for you.  :)  And the next time around I bet you will turn it into something awesome.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Miso Vinaigrette Snow Peas

Look at me blogging 2 days in a row again!  Trying to get better, and I just had to share this.  Two nights ago I went out to dinner at one of my favorite sushi restaurants (I get veggie rolls - love veggie rolls!), with someone who doesn't eat sushi, so he ordered chicken teriyaki instead.  Under the pile of chicken was a plateful of beautiful beautiful snow peas, and I wanted to steal one so badly.  Given they were smothered in chicken I didn't, but man I wanted snow peas after that, so yesterday I went out and bought them.  I could have just eaten them raw, or sauteed them up plain, but I was curiuos what other things I might do with them, so I went on a search through my Google reader.  (Have you started tracking your favorite blogs in a reader or some similar tool?  Best thing ever to keep up with what you want to read.)  Found and was inspired by this post, but since there's no recipe I had to make it up myself.  I think I did a pretty great job!  You'll have to give this a shot and see for yourself.  :)

Miso Vinaigrette Snow Peas

2-3 C snow peas
1 T olive oil
3 T miso
1 T apple cider vinegar (err on the side of less is more)
1 T water
1 t chopped garlic
(measurements approximate - add more to taste / consistency)

1. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium low heat.  When hot, add peas and saute until beginning to soft and brown.

2. Meantime, mix miso, vinegar, water, and garlic in a small bowl.  When peas are ready, pour mixture into pan and saute for another minute or 2, allowing sauce to warm and caramelize a bit.

3. Enjoy!

Technically serves 2-3 as a side, but I'm pretty sure I could've eaten the whole thing...!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin curry

Ok this isn't curry at all... but yet that's what I keep calling it in my head, so that's what it shall be!  :-)  Today's post is an example of what wonderful things can be created when you play "What on earth can I make to use up the random bits of things left in my fridge?"  This is one of the best things I've ever made.  Seriously.  Really it's a riff on the stuffed pumpkin dish my mother makes, but I didn't even realize that until after it was done, because it's nothing like it at all!

Pumpkin Curry

2 C mashed potatoes
1 package ground beef substitue
3/4 C golden raisins
1 t cinnamon
(measurements very approximate)

1 C mushrooms, chopped
Earth Balance coconut spread

1/2 C pumpkin puree
1 can coconut milk, chilled (for a few hours, this helps the water and cream to separate) and most of the cream scooped off for another use - so use mostly just the coconut water, with a little bit of the cream included
dash cayenne pepper
sea salt to taste (~1 t)

1. Heat large saute pan over medium heat.  Add coconut spread and melt, quickly add mushrooms.  Lower the heat a small amount and saute mushrooms til browned.

2. Meanwhile, mix potatoes, ground beef, raisins, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. 

3. When mushrooms are ready, lower heat to medium low and add pumpkin puree, coconut water, cayenne, and salt.  Mix together.

4. Add potato mixture.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so to allow flavors to meld.

5. Serve over brown rice.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spinach pancakes

How does one eat an entire bag of spinach in one sitting?  By turning it into pancakes!  When I saw this recipe I knew I had to give it a try.  I didn't realize I would eat the whole thing at once.  Not sure that was healthy, but I was hungry!  And all that spinach and chia has to be good for me, right?  :)

Okay they kinda look like little squashed aliens... my photography skills need help.

Making this recipe was definitely an exercise in one of those things that you will learn as you go - being able to trust yourself as a chef, trust your instincts, and know the food that you're working with.  These are things you won't have right away - but you *will* gain them.   These did not come out perfect for me, but they came out better than they would have if I had stuck with the way things came out from the recipe without adjusting at all. 

Think - pancakes.  Pancake batter is pretty thin.  The batter I got from this (using whole wheat flour instead of rice because I don't own it, so that could have been my issue) was thick and sticky.  I ended up adding a few tablespoons of water, adding them slowly to try and adjust to the right consistency.  I don't think I added enough in the end, but at least I got closer.  Trust yourself to know what you are looking for - a thinner, pancake batter consistency - and add what you need to get there. 

Other recommendations:
  • I think they could use some salt, just a teaspoon or less added to the mixture with the flour.  Mine didn't have any because I didn't think of it until it was too late, but I would give it a shot.
  • Without the salt for sure, but probably even with it - definitely to serve with something.  The original recipe recommends making them into sandwich "bread", but I think they work as pancakes, just need something to complement them.  I'm thinking a nice fresh salsa of some sort? 
  • Don't be scared of the chia!  This was my first time working with it, and I'm fascinated to try out more recipes that use it. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Joy of Cooking Vegan

I was given this shirt for free at the Vida Vegan Conference earlier this year.  I thought at the time it was silly and something I would never wear, but maybe it would be useful just to throw something on at some point. 

Then I was asked to give a talk on the health benefits of veganism for my company, and about a week before I was supposed to speak, I did throw this shirt on, simply because it was comfortable and clean.  What I realized as I sat there planning my talk wearing this shirt was that I really wanted to wear it again for the talk - because I've come to really believe in what it says.  That moment was a really cool realization of how much living this lifestyle has changed me. 

Being vegan isn't always easy.  It *is* - in that having enough to cook is easy (I have a huge overabundance of things to make!), finding things to eat out is easy, it makes you feel physically amazing, and makes you feel mentally like you're really doing something right.  But it's still sometimes hard - you miss things you used to eat, you have to explain yourself, and you can't (don't want to) just eat anything that shows up in front of you.  I wanted to take a moment for today's post to acknowledge that fact, that it can be difficult sometimes, no matter how much you love it and how committed to it you are, so don't feel bad if you find yourself hitting a rough patch.  But I also pointed to take a moment to say just how amazing it is too.  Choosing to live a more compassionate life is incredibly rewarding, physically, mentally, and socially.  I love sharing this lifestyle with others who are just curious and with those who are way more expert than I.  Please let me know when you have questions or need a boost - that's what this blog is here for! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Easy peasy bread recipe, and another quick product review

So I want to share with you the bread recipe that I've been falling in love with lately.  It's not quite whole grain, but it is at least 2/3, so that's a good start!  One of the amazing things about learning to love to cook is realizing how easy some things are.  For a while earlier this year I was baking my own bread every week, because it's just that easy, and so much tastier, and definitely more economical.  I fell out of the habit this summer, but this bread is getting me back into it.  Which makes me really happy.  :)

Picture is way too dark, but the others were sadly all blurry!

The recipe is here, at 101cookbooks, one of my absolute favorite blogs.  She is vegetarian rather than vegan, but has some wonderful wonderful recipes, and I have gotten some wonderful vegan ideas by veganizing even her non vegan recipes.

This recipe takes no more than 15 minutes to mix up, and you have beautiful bread within hours.  To make it vegan I just sub agave nectar for the honey, which works perfectly.  I have also taken to frequently adding about 1/2-2/3 cup of sunflower seeds to up the healthy factor even more.  And it adds a fun little crunch.  :)

I also wanted to take this moment to share with you the amazing discovery this bread has caused me to make and do another quick product recommendation.

Earth Balance coconut spread is amazing.  Without a doubt no question the most "buttery" spread I have found.  Slathering it on a toasted piece of this bread is absolutely delicious.  There is definitely a hint of coconut in the background, but I like coconut.  :)  Nothing else even comes close to having the buttery flavor this spread gives, and man... I have to say I've missed that.  Nice to have it again.  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CSA discoveries

Alright, I'm feeling kinda lazy today, so today's post is inspired by something totally easy to make - that I always thought would be oh-so-difficult.  It's amazing what you learn as you get into this - how things that seem so hard before really turn out just not to be.

With that - pesto!  Pesto is another thing that just seems a bit fancy, but in reality it's terribly simple.  And the best part is that it is incredibly versatile.  Basically as long as you have a few cups of some leafy green - you can have yourself a beautiful pesto meal.  The traditional method of course is to use basil and pine nuts, but I've never really loved that.  In fact I was always puzzled by that, since it seemed like something I would love.  But then I started exploring using other greens, and I realized that I don't love basil-based pesto because there are so many better options out there!  IMHO.  :-)

I discovered sorrel last summer through my CSA, and this recipe is one of my favorites.  The sorrel lends a nice lemony note in background that makes everything taste extra fresh.  However feel free to play around with other greens, other nuts, other additions (like sundried tomatoes, Bragg's aminos - anything that might add a twist to the flavor), and see what you discover!

Sorrel pesto, and sundried tomato spread, both made from CSA veggies

Sorrel Pesto
3+ C sorrel leaves, ribs removed
2 small garlic cloves
1/2 C+ toasted almond slivers
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 T sugar

~1/4 C olive oil

Place all ingredients except oil in food processor, pulse a few times.  Slowly drizzle in oil while continuing to pulse.  Enjoy!

Serve as pasta topping, spread over toasted baguette slices, as a sandwich spread, etc - possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Veg Love, part 5 - Peas!

Totally stealing this from myself for MoFo... I posted it years ago on a more personal blog, and it fits my theme so well I had to repost it here.  :)

Amazing peas
Yes, you read that right. Amazing PEAS. Didn't you always think peas were gross growing up? (Unless you were weird like my brother and that's the only vegetable you liked.) Have you tried them again as an adult and given them another chance? Maybe kinda thought "eh, whatever, they're not gross but I don't really like them?" Have you tried them *fresh*? Like fresh out of the garden and just shelled? Omg, they're SO wonderful! So sweet and fresh and Who knew?

From Creative Commons here

But then last night I made them even better. I'm trying to spend $0 this week on food and cook entirely based on what is in my house, so this obviously makes for some experiments. Luckily I have some veggies left from last week, and *lots* of fresh herbs from my fledgling window box garden and mostly from the trimming my mother did the other day of her herb garden, giving me a huge pile of clippings. Here's what I did yesterday, and I *must* do it again soon. Props to Rachael Ray for the inspiration - she mentioned toasting up chickpeas with some herbs or spices as a party snack, so I went with that idea with my peas and fresh herbs.

Dish 1 (side):
Chop up proportional amounts of mushrooms, garlic scapes, onion. Fry up in olive oil and add salt. Remove from pan.

Dish 2:
Using same pan, reheat a little more olive oil. Add fresh shelled peas (English peas were used). Add a good handful of chopped fresh lavendar leaves. Add salt, and a dash (maybe 1/2 teaspoon?) of yellow curry powder. Sprinkle on 2 flowers worth of fresh lavender flowers. Remove from heat before peas can get mushy - you just want to heat them. Amazing!!

And even more amazing - combine the 2 dishes after cooking. YUM.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Veg Love, part 4 - Eggplant again!

So I totally love eggplant now.  So much so that, yup, it gets 2 posts in my veg love series. 

Baba ganoush. Delicious, creamy, Mediterreanean eggplant spread that I have avoided like the plague for years, even while living in Israel for a year and a half. Because as I said before, me and eggplant.... But wow. Homemade, still warm from the roasted eggplant - amazing. One of the best things ever. When I set out to try to create my own (I was in a mood for dips and I had beautiful eggplant and I thought let's experiment), I discovered a mention online somewhere of how traditional Lebanese baba has an extra ingredient - pomegranate molasses. I cannot seem to replicate that search now, but man am I glad I found it then! I am sure it was the key to how absolutely perfectly this baba came out. I don't actually own pomegranate molasses, but I did happen to have a bottle of Pom in my fridge, and that worked beautifully. 

Fresh bakery bread topped with homemade baba ganoush, yellow tomato slice, and baked zucchini slices. YUM.

Baba Ganoush
Measurements are approximate - add to taste

1 large eggplant
3 T tahini
1/4 C pomegranate juice
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt
1/4 C olive oil

Heat oven to 400.  Price eggplants with a fork and roast on a baking sheet until soft all the way through. 

Remove from oven, cut into large chunks and place in food processor.  Add other ingredients except for olive oil, and pulse.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while continuing to pulse until reaching a smooth creamy texture. 

Enjoy!  Especially while still warm from roasting the eggplant.  :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Veg love, part 3 - Eggplant!

Ah, eggplant.  Wonderful, tasty, versatile, delicious eggplant.  Me 2 years ago looks at me now writing those words and thinks "who are you?"  3 years ago I could. not. eat eggplant.  I didn't particularly like it, but also my body couldn't handle it.  Always made me feel really sick.  Somehow I kept trying little bits, and started realizing it seemed to going down ok....  I wasn't really willing to risk it though and try a real meal with it.  But then it was Passover 2009, and my lovely friend offered to come over and cook me dinner.  She showed up with what to make?  Eggplant.  I didn't have the heart to tell her my issues with eggplant, and I knew it had seemed like things were getting better, so it seemed time to go for it. 

And man am I glad I did.  The meal she made was delicious and easy, so much so that I had to get the recipe and I made it again the next year with my CSA eggplants.  And more importantly, I didn't feel sick at all, so now I get to enjoy this wonderful addition to my diet! 

And it's purple!  Love purple.  (Photo from Creative Commons, here.)

The link to the recipe she used is here; we just left off the feta (and I think the mint actually).  Served with quinoa, made an excellent meal!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drunk fruit, and the Liebster award!

I am continuing far off my track of the promised veggie awesomeness posts - and while I want to apologize for that, I also want to say that it's one of the awesome things about being vegan.  There's so much to be excited about, that you often can't just stick to the plan!  I have stacks of countless recipes at home that I want to make (mostly thanks to all the wonderful bloggers out here), but sometimes even the one at the top of the list doesn't get made because I continuously stumble upon something else awesome that needs to be made first! 

That's sort of what happened last night, and for this post.  I wasn't particularly hungry, so I never did get around to making dinner (had a huge lunch of butternut squash mac & "cheese" :D ), so instead I ended up grabbing the chance to make a recipe for pear infused vodka that I came across earlier during MoFo.  I haven't of course tried it yet (it needs to infuse for a couple of months) but it looks freakin' fantastic.  Anyone know how to speed up the infusing process??  :D

Recipe is found here.
Worst picture in the world I know... but you get the idea.  :)

I also wanted to take today to thank 2 lovely bloggers for sending me the super awesome Liebster award:

This is something that's given to cool bloggers with less than 200 followers to show some appreciation during vegan MoFo, and I am honored to have been sent the award by both the awesome Allysia at Happy Vegan, who I had the pleasure of getting to know at Vida Vegan Con earlier this year, and by Omgoshimvegan.

So the rules are as follows:
  1. Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Reveal 5 of your top pics and them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
So I'm passing the award to...
  1. Of course back to the Allysia at Happy Vegan
  2. The Compassionate Cook
  3. A Bit Addicted to Cookbooks
  4. Food Stains
  5. DC Vegan - have to support the local community :)

Monday, October 17, 2011


I want to start this week (week 3 of MoFo!!) with another post on my personal "why"s of veganism.  I wrote briefly earlier about one of the major physical health improvements I've seen.  Today I wanted to talk about a mental health benefit.  I know that when I started on this road it was for health reasons, and I avoided even learning about the animal side of things.  I knew I wouldn't be able to forget that information once I knew it, and I wasn't ready.  However as I've grown into this lifestyle I have learned all of that information, and I can finally say that I am really glad I have.  It is an uncomfortable transition.  The mental disconnect between a. what we've been taught is ok and natural and healthy and good for you and b. our innate nature to be compassionate and our love of animals - that disconnect can be hard to work through and to reconcile.  If it's a slow process for you - I certainly understand. 

But this weekend I had my first experience of truly experiencing the joy that this lifestyle can bring.  I'm not sure I can put into words on wonderful it felt to serve a four course meal where I knew that there was not a single animal-bsed product involved.  My mom and I wanted to say thank you to a group of my friends that had given their time to help us out, and it felt amazing, and so right, to say thank you knowing that our thank you did not cause any suffering.  There was nothing but 100% joy at the table thta night, and that is a feeling I can be really proud of. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

So pretty!

Ya know what's awesome?  When you make a 4 course delicious meal to say thank you to wonderful friends, you feel amazing about it because it's all entirely cruelty-free (so what better way to say thank you), and then you have leftovers for lunch the next day!  I wanted to share the dessert with you, to give you another dish that will totally impress people and have them thinking you are an amazingly fancy chef, when really?  It's so easy.  Forgive me for continuing the detour from the promised awesome veggie posts, but I promise I will get back to them.  I just had to share this one immediately.  :)

Before baking.  I think it's a work of art.

You know those fancy fruit tarts that are often served at catered events?  They all have a cream layer underneath the fruit, so... not vegan.  We were served this at a Rosh Hashanah meal a couple of weeks ago (I think I mentioned it in an earlier post if you remember), and were amazed that we could actually eat it.  It looked like one of those fancy tarts, but it didn't have that dairy layer in there.  How nice to be able to replicate such a wonderful dish.  And better, this one doesn't even use any of the vegan milks or cheese products.  That layer is simply replaced with apricot jam.  (I imagine you could use any other flavor and create different combinations.

So I'm not sure there's really a recipe here.  It's mostly going to be mix and match with whatever fruit you like / have on hand / is in season, but I'll lay out the basics for you.

After baking, and before being devoured.

Fruit Tart
First lay out your phyllo dough after thawing.  When it was served to us it was served on a nice circular pan, so use whatever shape works for you.  Spread jam (you will use an entire regular sized jar) over phyllo.  Lay out fruit on top of the jam.  I used here: 1 pear, 1 green apple, 1 nectarine, raspberries, and blackberries.  Bake at 350 for somewhere around half an hour.  We were enjoying a delicious dinner while it baked and just checking on it occasionally, so I don't know exactly how long it was in for.  :)  Just check on it a few times to make sure that fruit is getting soft, and the phyllo doesn't burn.  Remove from oven and wait for appropriate oohs and ahhs.  Enjoy!

Hold this space!

Hold this space!  Tomorrow there will be fruit tart!  Delicious delicious fruit tart....  You may remember the fruit tart that I mentioned back in my 2nd or 3rd post, and tonight I recreated it.  Man it was good, easy, and looks crazy fancy.  I think I will fiddle with it some, but it is going on my "great to impress people at potlucks" list.  Tomorrow ... pics and recipe.  :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Product recommendations - cheese and jerky :)

So a quick break from recipes.  I wanted to take a moment to recommend a couple things that I have just discovered, so that hopefully you can discover them earlier in your vegan career.  :)  And also because oh my god yum - can't not write about them immediately.  I'm surprised I've restrained myself for 2 days!

The first is Dr Cow cheeses, specifically the aged cashew nut cheese.
If you thought being vegan meant giving up that pungent rich wonderful flavor of aged cheeses - think again.  It took all my willpower not to devour the entire little cheese round in one sitting.  But they are not cheap, so I really wanted to save some for a second setting.  Do yourself a favor and run, don't walk, to the closest location selling Dr Cow, and give it a try for yourself.

Wine and cheese tasting anyone?  :)

The second item I tasted within the past couple days is Primal strips - vegan jerky.  I was never a jerky eater as an omnivore.  Had it for the first time less than a year before I became vegan.  It was tasty, and a useful snack for hiking, but not something I would devour like I've seen others do.  I want to say that Primal's strips are even better than beef jerky.  They had the exact right texture, great flavor, and a moistness that makes them much more appealing than the tough dryness of beef jerky.  I could easily eat the whole package, and while I have made my own tofu jerky before for convenient hiking snacks, I may be switching to the Primal strips.  I can't wait to try all the flavors!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Veg Love, part 2 - Kale! (again :) )

Doesn't that just look beautiful?!  Fresh delicious greens have become such a treat. 

Today's recipe is the easiest recipe in the world, and more seasoned vegans may laugh at me for posting something that seems so obvious, but I was blown away earlier this summer at a conference by this concept, so I want to share so that other newer vegans may get to experience this way sooner in their vegan lives. Something so basic, but somehow I missed it. Massaged kale salad. Easy, so simple, and makes the kale absolutely delicious. Seems like an entirely different thing from plain raw kale, without really doing much to it.

Massaged Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
1 lemon
olive oil
sea salt

Tear the kale leaves off the stems into smaller pieces and place in large bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the bowl to dress the leaves with juice. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle over olive oil.

Massage the leaves gently for a few minutes. The lemon "cooks" the kale, breaking down the cell walls and wilting the leaves, making for a more tender texture and a wonderful flavor.

I am happy to just sit and eat a bowl of the greens by themselves, but feel free to top with whatever calls to you. Sunflower seeds, avocado, mango... just some ideas.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Veg love - Kale!

So I think this week I'm going to have a new theme - veggies that I now know and love (really, love, can't live without them), that I either never ate before going vegan or didn't like or even one that actually used to make me physically ill.  But now I love them all. 

First up - kale!  Kale is my new best friend.  I'm not a big fan of it just as it is raw, but cook it or dress it up in a massaged salad, and man!  So tasty, and it has great nutritional value.  I'll get into those a little more in a later post, for now I'll share a little recipe I made on the fly on Friday.  My mom requested I bring a veggie for Kol Nidrei dinner (the meal before the fast starts for Yom Kippur), so I picked up whatever looked good at the farmer's market and figured I would figure something out.  I'd tinker with it a little, so feel free to play around with this one, but I was pretty happy with the results.  :-)

Kale salad with chickpea cutlets and baked potato (serve with vegan sour cream :) )

Warm Kale and Cauliflower Salad

Bunch of kale, probably a little less than 1/4 peck
Half a head of cauliflower
1 onion
1 lemon
1/4 C+ golden raisins
salt to taste

Chop onion and saute in olive oil.  Chop cauliflower.  Add after a few minutes and saute until soft. 

While those are cooking, chop kale into smaller pieces, or simply tear the greens off the stalks - unless you would to leave the stalks in for some crunch.

Add salt to taste, a little pepper if you'd like.  Add the kale, and saute until just wilted.  While wilting down squeeze the juice of one lemon into the pan, and add the golden raisins.

Serve and enjoy! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

High Holiday allergies

Ok I know I said I was taking today off... but I wanted to put out a quick post on one of my personal "whys" of veganism.  I started this journey for health reasons, though it has become in large part about compassion for animals.  However, at this time of year I am reminded full force of the health reasons.

Every single year on the High Holidays, for my entire life, I would get sick, somewhere between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Really really really sick.  All I could imagine was that since the Jewish holidays are very tied into the seasons, that it must be that my body did not handle the seasonal change well, and that's why it would always coincide with the High Holidays.  Ever since I've been vegan - I haven't had a problem at all.  And here it is Yom Kippur tonight, and I seem to be golden.  I love that I can see yearly the affect that this lifestyle has had on my body.  How living naturally and with a plant-based diet seems to allow my body to function at a stronger healthier level. 

Just wanted to share that with you quickly, as you think about making this choice.  :)  Shana tova, and to my Jewish readers - g'mar chatimah tova!  May you have a good and meaningful fast. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 5 - No Bake Candy Cookies

ETA 1/18/13: Please visit this recipe and others over at my current site A,B,C,Vegan.  :)  Look forward to seeing you there!

Wow, week 1 is over!  I'm taking the next 2 days off for Yom Kippur (can't write about food when I can't even eat any!), but here's the 5th and final (for now :) ) installment in the Veganizing Your Favorites series.  Next week will be new and exciting adventures.  I'm thinking about exploring the new vegetables I've come to love ever since starting this journey....

So, no bake cookies, candy cookies, whatever you call them - they're absolutely delicious.  Piles of chocolate-y, oat-y, goodness.  I got the recipe for these from a teacher back in elementary school (I can't remember *why* that happened), and I've been making them ever since.  So quick to make (though they need to dry overnight), so easy, and are always a hit.  It took a couple tries to veganize the recipe correctly, but now they are absolutely identical to the original.  Enjoy!!

Somehow I don't have my own photo of these (?!), so this one is thanks to Creative Commons.  Original can be found here.

No Bake Candy Cookies

3 ½ C quick oats
¾ stick Earth Balance
½ C creamy peanut butter (A variety that is not too oily, one that doesn’t need stirring. Jif works perfectly - natural peanut butters do *not*, as much as I would prefer them.)
2 C white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ + 1/8 C soy milk
¼ C cocoa

1. Combine milk, sugar, cocoa, and earth balance.  Bring to hard boil, then boil 1 min.  Remove from burner, stir in peanut butter until dissolved.

2. Replace on burner (do not turn back on!) to keep warm while you stir in oats and vanilla.  Mix well. 

3. Drop on wax paper with teaspoon, fairly quickly.

4. Allow to dry on counter overnight.

Makes about 4 dozen. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 4 - Pot Pie!

Ok I have to be honest.  I didn't even really like pot pie growing up.  But my brother made this version for me last year, and I was converted instantaneously.  The flavors are so rich, so fresh.  The sauce is creamy and delicious.  It's full of veggies.  And I love anything doughy, so with a good pie crust... it was just meant to be.  I loved it so much that I had to go home and recreate it practically the next day. 

As we head into the colder months, this is the perfect filling, warm, comfort food to keep you cozy in the winter.  :)

Before going into the oven...

...and after.


Pot Pie

1 big / 2 small red potatoes, cubed
1 C sliced carrots
1 C frozen green peas
1/2 C sliced celery
1/2 C frozen corn
1/3 C earth balance
1/2 C chopped onion
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t celery seed
1/3 t garlic powder
3 1/2 C vegetable broth
1 1/3 C soy milk
2 9" pie crusts

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  In a saucepan combine veggies - potatoes, carrots, peas, celery, corn.  Add broth to cover and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

3.  In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in margarine until soft and translucent.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and celery seed.  Slowly stir in vegetable broth and milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

4.  While pans are going, brush bottom of crusts with soy milk and bake for 5 minutes. 

5.  Combine veggie and sauce mixtures, place in bottom pie crust.  Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough.  Make several small slits in top to allow steam to escape. 

6.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 3 - Chik'n & Cashews

This post is very near to my heart.  My father cooked dinner pretty often in our family, and he had taken a Chinese cooking class earlier in his life, so we often had 2 dishes that hung around from that class - beef and snow peas, and chicken and cashews.  Chicken and cashews became one of my absolute favorite favorite dishes, and what I would always request for my birthday meal.  My brother came to always request it too.  My dad passed away before I became vegan, but we've continued the tradition of having this dish for my brother's birthday, using my dad's recipe, so for the past few years I've been trying to figure out how on earth to veganize it successfully. 

An important lesson for today - don't be afraid to experiment, and don't be afraid to try again if the first 1, 2, or 3 times don't really quite work out.  If you want to make something, if you keep trying, you will eventually be able to figure it out.  :)  As I did with this!  I cannot put into words how absolutely excited I was to finally successfully recreate chicken and cashews.  I could not stop talking about it the entire night; I'm sure I drove my family crazy.  Every other sentence out of my mouth was something along the lines of "Oh my gosh this is good!  I'm so excited!  It finally worked!  So happy!"  :)  I would even venture to say it's actually better than the original.  Somehow it's just bolder, more flavorful, richer. 

The secret ingredient - seitan.  Tried it with tofu - failure.  But seitan... seitan worked amazingly.  If you've never had it, or heard of it, I liked this page for an explanation of what it is, and its history.  It basically is a meat made from the protein portion of wheat, and has been traditionally used in Asian cooking for a long time.  This was one of my first forays into using it, and it was an absolute success.

 I added some broccoli to get myself some extra nutrients - and because it's tasty.  :)

Chik'n and Cashews

1 package unflavored seitan
1 T hoisin sauce
2 T light soy sauce
2 tsp sherry
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T peanut oil
2 scallions
2/3 C cashews
salt to taste

1. Mix seitan with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and pepper.
2. Using only the white part, cut scallion into 1/4 inch pieces.

3. Heat peanut oil in wok (if you have one, otherwise any saute pan will do).
4. Stirfry scallion until slightly brown.
5. Add seitan and sauce mixture, stirfry constantly over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
6. Add cashews, mix well.
7. Add salt to taste.

Serve hot over rice. 

Share with your loved ones and give them a hug for me.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 2 - Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've discovered the secret to veganizing cookies.  Crisco!  Crisco.  It's so simple.  How did I not figure this out before?  Maybe others in the world out there had already figured this out, but somehow it had escaped me.  Every vegan chocolate chip cookie, or the like, that I've had has never been... quite right.  They're usually too oily - which makes sense, since many recipes call for oil instead of butter.  Which just doesn't quite work.  And no recipes that I've found have quite captured the essence of a true original tollhouse cookie.

And then 2 days ago it dawned on me - what about Crisco?  I thought this aloud as I was eating with my mother, and she said yes, she was pretty that's what my grandmother (her mother) had always used.  !!!  It's taken me until now to figure this out but somehow my grandma figured it out probably 75 years ago?! So this post is in honor of my Grandma Lorraine, which seems appropriate after yesterday's was in honor of my Grandma Allese.

Beautiful, buttery, YUM.  

This recipe will introduce you to the concept of egg replacer, which I used to replace the 2 eggs.  Next time I will try flax seed meal, another great egg substitute, but for the first time around I wanted to see how they tasted as close to original as possible, since the flax would add a bit of a nutty flavor.  Egg replacer you should be able to buy at any Whole Foods store, and potentially even at a regular supermarket.  The one I use is called Ener-G.  Just follow the instructions on the box to replace each egg in a recipe.  The great thing about Ener-G is that it lasts in your pantry, and one box is equal to 112 eggs!

Veganized Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C Crisco
3 T water
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Ener-G "eggs"
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 C all purpose flour (Can use all all purpose flour - wanted to make these a teeny bit healthier)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add Crisco, water, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla to mixing bowl, beat at medium speed until creamed together.  Add eggs, mix in on low speed.

Gradually add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until fully incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  First sheet may need a little bit extra baking time.


Note: I recommend storing in an air-tight container with a piece of bread, just like my grandma always did.  Keeps the cookies soft and chewy.  :)

I swear I will not only be writing about desserts - I don't even eat them that much, but for some reason I've become a baking fiend lately!  Tomorrow's post - chick'n and cashews.  :-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Veganizing Your Favorites, part 1 - Pecan Pie

I started this idea a bit with the kugel recipe in yesterday's post, and I wanted to continue along those lines as a good starting place for this blog.  For those new to this world I know it can be daunting to think "what am I going to eat," and to feel like you're never going to be able to have your favorites again.  Well one thing that will happen is your tastes may changes (more about that later), but more importantly, you don't have to give up your favorites!  You can veganize almost anything out there to be just as good, and sometimes even better, than your old favorites.  Today's post is a quick one (I wanted to post something to celebrate the start of VeganMoFo!) to introduce what will be at least a 4 part series for the week on veganizing your favorites.  Today is a recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen; the rest of the set will be my own recipes made up myself as I veganized my childhood favorites.

Potentially there will be a better photo to come when I fix my card reader so I can use my real camera, but here's the iPhone photo for now... :-)

YUM!!!  I can just see Thanksgiving at my grandmother's table as I look at this picture.  She always made pecan pie, and always made me my own 2nd one to take home with me.  Man did I love her pecan pie.  I don't remember if this one tastes exactly like hers, but it absolutely tastes amazing, and exactly like pecan pie should.  The gooey sweetness is absolutely perfect - I can't recommend this recipe highly enough.  

Notes: 1. I used a whole wheat crust; worked beautifully.  2. I had to bake closer to an hour to get it to set properly.  3. SO EASY.  I couldn't believe it; pecan pie seems so fancy.  If you need a nice, quick, elegant dessert, especially in the Fall... here's your recipe.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Shana Tova

Just a quick post for this morning - I want to share with you all the wonderful food we had for Rosh Hashanah.  I know that one thing that can be scary as you consider making this transition is wondering what will you do on holidays.  Are you going to have to give up your traditions or feel like you are missing out?  I am here to show you that the answer is absolutely NO.  The holiday foods you know and love can easily become part of the vegan lifestyle.

More importantly, I discovered this year how much additional joy the vegan lifestyle brings to the holidays.  The Jewish new year is already filled with joy; how wonderful to make it even more so.  I know that many people may start this journey for health reasons, as I did, but it has been interesting to see how my compassion for animals has grown over time, and how that has become a bigger and bigger factor.  This Rosh Hashanah I was interested to see how happy it made me to have a celebratory meal that did not rely on any animal products.  It feels like a true celebration of life and of the bounty of the world, with no inconsistencies in those thoughts present on my plate.  What a wonderful feeling.

So what did I have on my plate?  Let me show you.

1. Kugel!  What is a Jewish holiday meal without kugel?

I used the recipe over at VegKitchen, making a couple small alterations.  I chopped the apple instead of grating it (because I'm lazy :) ), and I used silken tofu.  It set quite nicely after cooling, but I think I would use flatter noodles next time to hold things together a little bit better.  But oh my god YUM.  Absolutely exquisitely delicious, and exactly like any kugel I have had previously in my non-vegan life.

2. Tzimmes

This one we just made up.  :)  Apples, sweet potatoes, figs, pineapple (leftover from the kugel!), figs, and some wine, put in a pot and simmered together for a while.  Think of any great combination of fall fruits and veggies, and you will probably come up with a delicious tzimmes.  We served ours over Israeli couscous.

3. Not-honey cake

I've never been a huge honey cake fan, but when I found this recipe over at VegKitchen as well, it seemed like experimenting needed to happen.  And look how pretty!  Tastes exactly like honey cake too.  How wonderful.  It was perfect when it came out of the oven - the next day it was a teeny bit drier than I would like, and falls apart a bit.  So I may try to add a bit more moisture the next time, and probably a flax egg for a little binder.

4. We also had Gardein chik'n filets with my mother's traditional apricot sauce, a beautiful salad of greens, pomegranate seeds, orange pieces, walnuts, and balsamic dressing, a beans and apple casserole, and an exquisite fruit tart, but I didn't manage pictures of any of those!  But more ideas for you.  :)  The fruit tart I must replicate soon - phyllo dough spread with apricot jelly, topped with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a sprinkling of pistachio nuts, and baked.  Amazing.

It's a new year!  A perfect time to give a new lifestyle a shot if you are still exploring this option, or to add some new recipes to the mix if you are already happily on this path.  And if you have other holiday meals I would love to hear them in the comments.  Because really, who can't use more awesome food on the Jewish holidays?  :)

Shana Tova!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shabbat Shalom

I recently attended Vida Vegan - a conference for vegan bloggers, held for the first time ever this year.  I had the honor to be able to take a writing workshop with Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and this piece is born out of that class.  One of the exercises we did was to do a stream-of-conscious piece on the last meal someone prepared for us.  The result of that piece seemed like the perfect inaugural piece for my blog to show you a bit about who I am and where I come from, so ... here goes!

One Friday night in August, I went to my mom's house for Shabbat dinner, as I do many Friday evenings. My brother was heading out of town in a month, so this was one of the last Shabbat dinners we would all have together before he left. Makes me totally sad just writing that, and I teared up thinking about it that day. But that night it was a wonderful, relaxed Shabbat evening, which we don't always have as he and I often rush off to other places after dinner. Seems that when the time is growing short, we want to spend more time on the things that are important, and family is very important to us.

Is it funny that I don't even remember what she made? I'm sure I will shortly, but at the moment it's escaping my mind. As important as food is to me, it's not what's important about those times. The important thing is the time shared with family. Sitting around a table, talking, laughing, sharing stories. My brother had just come back from a long trip to Florida, a music festival, and Hawaii, so we couldn’t wait to hear about all of the adventures.  It never ceases to amaze me how food does can do that. Sharing a communal meal just brings people together. I'm so grateful that one of my parents cooked dinner every night, and we had family dinner together every single night. I would have to leave stage crew at high school to come home for dinner, and then go back later, while other people were busy ordering in takeout. My family was never vegan, or even kosher at the time, but I wonder if that priority that was placed on family dinner somehow led me to where I am today. Where food is important, and not something that just fuels you but can be largely ignored as long as you get the calories you need.

So last Friday my mom cooked us pasta, a recipe she found in the Post I think. A simple dish served on a beautiful ceramic pottery platter.  A tasty dish that used a huge pile of fresh tomatoes. She has trouble finding recipes that I can eat (she has not yet succumbed to the wonderful addiction of the vegan blog world), but she always finds something, or makes up something. I'm lucky it seems, having a supportive family. My brother is a total omnivore and has become such a foodie who will try anything and everything. But he also understands how important this is to me, and some of the best vegan dishes I've had have been ones he's researched and then cooked for me. Everything he's made I've had to have the recipe for later. I really am lucky.  I always know that, but putting it on paper reminds me how true it is.