Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sandwich to Salad - A wonderful dinning treat.

Tami, the lovely and talented person behind the American Vegan Kitchen cookbook (An outstanding book!)  and the Vegan Appetite blog, has a new book out, all about sandwiches. To celebrate, she shared a recipe for one that did not make it into the book, Vegan Appetite: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Jibarito, the Bonus Recipe!

Two challenges were awaiting me. My eyesight and the fact that Plantains were MIA from the local markets.
So, this turned into a salad minus the onions.
The verdict - delicious!
We had leftover marinated mushrooms that are going onto a Pizza. Win win.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Salad for Days!

I love salads. Really. Once I get into the swing of things, there is no stopping me. For lunch, dinner or as a treat with TV, there are SO many options, that it's rare that the same one appears twice. (There are exceptions of course. Aren't there always?)
These last few weeks have been devoted to recipes from Appetite For Reduction. Fantastic.
Then, with an email ding, I got word that Bryanna had just posted a, wait for it, Salad.
And what a winner it is. Beets, Carrots, Onions - all roasted then tossed with a dressing, heaped onto a bed of lettuce and crowned with some Vegan Feta.
Being that we had some Cauliflower to use up and just a few Carrots, that change was made, as well as using a store bought Vegan Feta Cheese.
Sometimes, it just does not get much better than this.

No, your eyes are just fine. I used golden beets.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vine and Dine - Happy and Sad

I was a bit late to the Vine and Dine party, but better so than never, right?
So that is a happy point. A sad one goes to the fact that this may be the last such event.
On the upside, Tami from Vegan Appetite, the genius behind V&D, allowed me to pick the recipe this time! Score.
The entree comes from American Vegan Kitchen and is The Tempeh Stroganoff Stuffed Potatoes.
I have cooked a lot from this book, and love it. The spice blend alone is worth the price of admission.
The fact that it's author is no other than the awesome blogger of Vegan Appetite, makes the book even more valuable.

Okay, on to the cooking and eating, which is what this is all about. And of course the drinking too!
Having some challenges finding vegan sour cream, I ended up making my own using Bryanna's recipe. Let me just say that after this, I will be making my own whenever it's called for. So good, so easy.

I did cut the recipe in half, portion control or something of that nature...
Above are the potatoes, scooped, and ready to be filled.
Most of the stuffing ingredients waiting to come together. The tempeh was outstanding, and I can see making this on it's own.
All dressed up and ready for the oven.

The final meal, with a shout out for the book too!
The side dish is a simple kale stir fry with hot sauce and some tamari.
Overall, outstanding meal!

For the wine, we went with a local white from Meridian. It was nice and dry, smooth, and completely complemented the main dish.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spinach - Mushroom Quiche

Over at the Post Punk Kitchen Forum, there was a discussion about Quiche. Vegan variety to be sure.
A link was posted to a recipe by Peter Berley's offering from his book The Modern Vegetarian.
Having made a few Vegan Quiches with great success, the winner being the Broccoli one from Vegan Brunch (An awesome book, btw), I decided to give this one a try.
A few changes were made:
1) Having no sesame seeds on hand, a Zaatar mix was used in their place.
2) Frozen spinach that was thawed and well drained sped up the process.
3) About half the oil called for in the filling.

It was really good! The crust was both crunchy and flakey, the filling firm, tender and borsting with flavor, and the meal so very filling. (Although there was still room for some left over birthday Vegan Carrot cake, of course)

Was is crowned the new Quiche winner?
Nope, that honor is still firmly held by the Vegan Brunch.
This one is a solid second.

I went a bit heavy handed on the Paprika...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sexy Vegan - Book Review

The Sexy Vegan, a blog that birthed a book, is a funny and delightful cooking journey.
Buying the book on impulse turned out to be a wise choice.
I'm not one to often read the forwards, messages, and all that insight that most cookbooks are filled with. I should re-think this strategy as after reading, and nearly busting a rib, not just the introduction, but all the recipe "headliners" too, was a joyous endeavor.
He is one funny dude.

For starters, I went for the Basic Seitan. It has a secret ingredient. Well, not so much anymore; it's mashed potatoes.
On it's own, it was good. Nice firm texture and very flavorful.
Since one can't, or at least, should not, live on Seitan alone, I made the "Steaks" with Gravy plus Celery Root fries dinner combo. (To note, this was the authors Final Meat Eating Meal. No quotations on the steak)
Let's start with the Celery Fries. They were interesting. A little went a LONG way with these.
Ended up making them in the ActiFry, which is one of my all time favorite kitchen appliances.
The "Steak" was outstanding and the Gravy out of this world good.
So awesome in fact, that the left overs kept getting picked at throughout the evening until there were none left... Even the Broccoli got polished off. Dipped into the Gravy, of course. The Celery Fries, well, that is another story.

Being a weekends only kind of cook, and the owner of way too many cookbooks, it may be awhile until the Sexy Vegan and I cross paths again, but we will. Of that I am sure.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vine and Dine - Blue Plate Special Wheat Meat Loaf

How I love American Vegan Kitchen! Not only is full of mouth watering recipes that are intensely, in a good way, flavorful and easy to make, but it is also written by an extremely nice and very giving person. I also like that the recipes are very "forgiving".
So imagine how happy I was that for the next two Vine and Dine events, the cooking comes from this fantastic book? Very!

The first cook a long is the Blue Plate Special Wheat Meat Loaf. (Try saying that really fast after a few glasses of the "Vine"...)
For a combination of necessity and pure laziness, I made a few changes. These are, in no particular order (I've been watching WAY too much of three different versions of The Voice):
1) Tofu instead of Seitan (laziness)
2) Soy Curls in place of the TVP (necessity and laziness)
3) Dry bread crumbs (you get the picture by now)
4) Baked in a loaf pan (Preference)

And it STILL turned out to be outstanding! See, so forgiving. (Hope Tami is as well) :)
The loaf was bursting with flavor, texture, moist on the inside and a bit crunchy on the outside.
The side dishes were roasted potatoes (smoked paprika, lemon pepper, hot red pepper, smoked salt and a dash of oil) along with a sauté of fresh spinach, mushrooms, garlic and a dash of red wine.

I think that bear would have been a perfect companion for this meal, but since there was non in the house, and yes, due to being lazy, white wine was the served.
I'd love to tell which one, but the bottle went directly to the big recycling bin, and there are limits to what one will do for the details that make up this post.
It was a lovely dry white from Lone Madrone.

The next Vine and Dine will feature a selection from American Vegan Kitchen that Tami was kind enough to let me pick.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bold Organics Pizza - A Review

I love pizza. So much so that it is really the main obstacle in my becoming fully Vegan.
Non dairy cheese has come a long way, so true, but at least the varieties that one can find here just fall a bit short.
When I spotted the Vegan Bold Organic pies at the local health food store, I knew that it would be an expensive "experiment" ($7.99 on sale) but one I had to participate in all the same. A vegan, organic AND gluten free pizza? How could any one resist, right?
First impression, this pizza is small. I baked it according the the directions, and even left it under the broiler for a few minutes. Out of the oven it looked very pleasing, with that oh so charred cheese film.
With great excitement, I took the first bite.
It was okay, but far from great. Rather doughy, a very pronounced and somewhat overpowering tomato sauce, and not enough cheese to marry those two into an harmonious bless.
Would I buy it again? Probably not. It is however a giant step in the right direction.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The No Name, No Picture Recipe.

For months now I've been meaning to take back control of the freezer. It is just stuffed.
One easy way to start seemed to just start using some of the many soups, entrees and items that have been living there. So working from the bottom up, the first to go was the two packages of the Vegan "Tuna" Rolls. For someone who does not like overly processed foods, I seem to have an unhealthy attachment to this item. A casserole it was to be.
Fast forward to a trip down the asiles of Trader Joe's, where I picked up the Organic Brown Rice Pasta, Backed Potato Chips, Mushrooms, and... NO mushroom soup. Yikes. But then a can of Organic Split Pea soup caught my eye, and I thought, why not? All I was missing now was the Cheese.
The next day we were at the Health Food Store, and they had just started stocking the Daiya Wedges.
The only one left was the Havarti with Garlic and Jalapeño, so into the cart it went.
A quick taste of the stuff at home confirmed that it was both awesome and would blend well with the other ingredients for the dish.
A half of a red onion, some garlic, and three celery ribs got chopped up along with about eight brown mushrooms, each quartered. These went into a pot where the split pea soup was warming up. A few minutes in there, and the contents of the "Tuna" rolls were added to the mix. The mess was then poured into a big mixing bowl and eight oz. of the undercooked pasta were added as well. 
About 2/3 of the grated cheese got to join the party, a few dashes of black peper, a few mixes with the big spoon, and into the lightly greased 8x8 dish it went.
The potato chips (A new bag at this point, as chips do not make it through the night here...) were smashed, and the remaining 1/3 of the cheese mixed in. The crunchy delight went on to cover the casserole, and a few dashed of Parma sealed the deal.
After 45 min in a 350 over, the meal was served, and devoured. It was a winner.
The moral of the story is that sometime you have to think out of the recipe box. And start cleaning those freezers!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eating in Protugal

I don't speak the language. Add to that that the general assumption in the guide books is that this is not a veggie friendly country, and well, you will understand that I was fully prepared to live on bread alone.
(NOT a bad thing in my book, BTW).
I am here to tell you that there are a good number of veggie and veggie friendly restaurants.
In Lisbon, we dinned at Terra on the first day. Their website is awesome too. Lisbon is a hilly city, and although it looked to be a short walk from the city center, there were lots of stairs and step climbs. All the better to get one ready to chow down!
It's buffet with indoor and outdoor seating. It was a warm and star studded night, and we had some really great food while seated on the patio. Attentive and friendly staff rounds out this lovely place. 
Porto in the north is a very different vibe from Lisbon. We had a very nice dinner at Nakite. We were early, by Portuguese standarts, but the food was very good, and the chef quite talented.
Let's skip over the sandwiches and the steamed vegetable plats that made up the rest of the trip and jump straight to our last true veggie meal, and what a winner it was.
Our last full day was in Sintra. Full of windy narrow roads, mansions and above all castles, this place is amazingly beautiful.
We stopped for lunch at Almaca Restaurante Vegetariano. We arrived minutes before closing, but the gracious and warm folks behind the counter assured us it was all right. We got to see and understand what the lunch plates were, placed our order, and sat down to soak in the cool mellow vibe of this place.

First, there was a surprise : garlic bread. Bursting with loads of fresh garlic on toasted whole meal bread, it was really good.
Then came the entrees. There was SO much food, we could have shared.
The partner had the mini potato pies, and there was a side of grain, salad and cooked vegetable. I had a bit, it was wonderful.
I had the tofu on a bed of cooked red cabbage and a side of roasted potatoes.
No kidding, this was the best tofu ever. There were capers and the taste was out of this world good.
We chatted some with the person who turned out to be the owner, and she was so happy we found her restaurant on Happycow!
The restaurant itself is very cute, open, and well appointed.
This meal and experience have to be the best ever, or at least top three, vegetarian dinning I've ever had.
As if there was not enough reason to go visit Sintra, now there is one more.
When in Portugal, do not miss eating here!

We did visit the health food store, which has a number of outlets throughout the country, Celeiro Dieta. There was a fair number of prepared yummy looking food. The branch in Lisbon's city center has a restaurant, but we did not make it there, as they are lunch only.

Tassajara Cookbook

For years I've been dreaming of spending time at Tassajara. So far it remains just that.
While killing time at the library, I came across this beautiful book, and well, fell in love.
A quick trip to my favorite online store, and mere days later this puppy was in my hands.
This is not a book for the new cook by any means. There are a lot of assumptions made throughout.
If you do get a copy, please be sure to read the forward. Understanding the principles of Zen cooking will help guide one to success with this book.
All five initial recipes were a great success! I meant to only make one or two, but got carried away...
The Kabob is a combination of The Tassajara Marinated Tofu and a Fauxsages from, along with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
Counter clockwise, Tuscan White Bean Salad,  Quinoa Caviar, Artichoke-Walnut Spread, and Mexican Tempeh Salad. Simply an awesome meal, with leftovers for days.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mostly Vegan and almost in Portugal

The fun starts with the love affair we call United Airlines.
But since the blog is about food, I'll leave my rant for another venue.
I had hoped to be blogging about the vegan delights of Lisbon by now, however we have a slight layover in London, so it is off to find the edibles that the Star Alliance Lounge has to tempt one with.
And speaking of United, I just can't help myself, the dairy free vegetarian meal I requested was a cheese panner with a side of milk yogurt. Sigh.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patricks Day meal

Things don't always go according to plan.
Case in point, this was going to be a big deal meal. Then the guest of honor was MIA, so there you have it.
Rather than a multi course, all Irish, bread included, I scaled down some and made one "traditional" side and an entree that was heavy on the green.
The Colcannon Puffs from were to die for. Just amazing. Once again, I used the Kale salad mix for the called for vegetable  with outstanding results. Although mine did flatten a bit, they were a winner.
The main event was a Spaghetti Squash Casserole, from Peas and Thank You.
Over the years, the Spaghetti Squash and I have had our run ins. I really want to love this veggie, and have attempted many times to find that winner meal. Until now, I was left empty handed.
This is a real simple, yet incredibly yummy creation. The keys to success here are the choices on Marinara Sauce, brand of non-dairy cream cheese, and the cheese for the topping.
Feeling a bit adventurous, I went with making my own cheeses, using recopies from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.
The dish turned out great, satisfying and bursting with flavor and texture.
Plans do change, but that did not stop us from having a wonderful meal.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pig Out - Vegan Style

WayFare Foods, the makers of the oh so addictive "We Can't Say It's" line of spreads, sent me a sample of their new product, Pig Out.
Although not the first on the market to have  imitation bacon bits, this is an OUTSTANDING new item.
Made of oats rather than soy is a really nice change.
It's crunchy, smoky, salty and so very yummy!
Moments after the picture below was taken, I pigged out and eat the rest of the sample!
(Hope out local health food stores start carrying this pronto)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AFR - My new buddy

So, here we are, three months into 2012, and with some major changes going on, my weight has gone up.
(Funny, how when you stop teaching 20+ classes a week and still eat like you are, the muffin tops and the rest of those lovely areas just keep on growing). :)
Appetite for Reduction to the rescue.
First up were a trio of soups. The Arabian Lentil and Rice was the clear winner here.
Knowing that one could not live on soap alone, and that the Bird likes a full meal, I ventured further into the books and came up with this awesome meal : Blackened Tofu, Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale, and some steamed corn. Spicy, and sweet, crunchy and velvety, just a fantastic trio for a Sunday night meal.
I used the Kale Salad mix. So easy and love the added veggies that come with it.
Next time, and there so will be an encore, will double the spice mix for the tofu.
Looking forward to trying more from this great book in the upcoming weekends.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holy, Healthy, Guacamole

I love avocados. Used to eat them with a spoon. Ah, the days of not worrying about things like fat, calories and gaining weight.
Over the years, for many of the reasons listed above, avocados have become more of a treat.
How awesome to find that the very wise and always inventive Bryanna has come up with a version that not only keeps the fat at bay, but adds other great goodies? Very!

I sort of goofed a bit and had to add spinach rather than the green beans, and of course also added a tablespoon of hot sauce. The chips are the yellow corn variety from Guiltless Gourmet.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pumpkin Srambled Tofu

This is NOT adding a new recipe to the trilion already floating around in cyberspace. It's a review of an ingenious twist by AsttoNOMZ. So there. :)

Here is the kicker. I don't like pumpkin. Never have.
Yet when coming across this post, I sort of feel in love with the idea of it, and of letting go of some long held food aversions.

It turned out to be a good call. This dish is, well, delish!
Only change was to add a tablespoon of hot sauce after all the other yummy ingredients where in the pan.
For the greens, I went with a pre-mixed kale salad from Harvest Sensations. It is pre-washed and includes red cabbage and carrot shreds. The local health food store, as well as Von's, stock this.

Tummy approved.

Tofu "Bacon"

What the blog sphere is not in need off are more Tofu Scramble and Fake Bacon ideas. Yet, all the same, here is my take on the latter.
It's worthy of a post since, well, it's my first time sharing a recipe!
Having read, and tried, many variations on the theme, I've come up with one that is easy, relatively fast, and IMHO, tasty.

As we all have our preferences please note that these measurements are at best an approximation. (I cook like my Grandma, by feel)

1 Block extra firm tofu (16oz) (The ones from Trader Joe's are perfect.)
* Less then extra firm tofu will need to be drained a bit first. *

2-4 Tablespoons Tamari (Soy Sauce or Brags will work as well)
1/2-1 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1-2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

1-2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast

Start by slicing the tofu into thin (1/4 inch) UNIFORM slices. (We want these to cook evenly. A wired cheese slicer work great for this)
In a small bowel mix the liquids.
Have the Noosh at the ready.

Over on at 425. Let it preheat.
Spray a large baking sheet with oil, place the sliced tofu on the oiled sheet single file, and spray again with the oil.
Pop the baking sheet into your preheated over, and set the times to 5 min.
Once the times goes off, remove the sheet and flip the tofu slices.
Back into the over they go for another 5-8 min.
You want these ALMOST crisp, but not too much that they are no longer chewy. (This is a big YMWV. I like mine real chewy, so keep them in for a shorter time. Like 'em crispy? More time in the over for yours)

Remove from over, drizzle the liquid mixture evenly over the freshly backed slices, follow with a light shower of the nutritional yeast, toss the slices to get all parts covered, then serve, or use in your own favorite way.

The block of tofu ready to be sliced.
On the baking sheet and ready for the oven.
Having been flipped and put back into the oven, these are ready for the flavor treatment.
Coated and ready to be devoured. (Yeah, like I'd only have 4 at a time...)

Sunday, February 26, 2012


They say that you never forget your first. My first vegan cookbook, as well as blog, was by a very talented, extremely knowledgable, and all around great person, Bryanna Clark Grogan.
There are many blogs and books these days that cover plant based diets, and I follow and enjoy a wide selections of these. But back to Bryanna...
A resent entry on her blog was for a childhood dish, done vegan. As it reminded me of a dish from my own very distant past, I thought, why not, let's get cooking!
Since seitan is not in hight demand with the carni, I made these using her "Breast of Tofu".
I wish we had doubled the recipe, it was THAT good. Served with roasted potatoes and steamed peas, it was fulfilling, comforting, and just plain yummy. Five stars for sure.

This picture does NOT do the dish the justice it deserves. Just make it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I need to cook more. That is for sure. But for now, I'm loving this "push" that Vine and Dine is providing, and the opportunity to blog about it. We had the pleasure of R visiting this weekend, and since France is her second home, making the next V&D a week early made sense, it being a French inspired dish.
The delight this time is Cassouletter form World Vegan Feast.
The only change, and it was not an intentional one, was that the can of tomatoes had diced hot peppers.
(Can you ever have too much spice?)
This is the dish, pre bread crumb mix. I doubled the mix amount this time. 
Bread crumb mix on board, ready for the oven treatment.
90 minutes later, and here it is, ready for the close up.
Okay, so clearly my photo, and presentation, skills need some TLC. All the same, the full (very much so) plate.
Puppy J showing, and in much more cuteness, how full and content we were after the meal. (The puppies had their own treat)

In a word, devine! It was such a success. Homey, comforting, filling, bursting with flavor. Yum!

Since the dish had a bit more kick than intended (Those hot green peppers that sneaked in...) a white wine seemed like the perfect companion. We went local, and had the Bianchi Pinot Grigio which the winery said was vegan. It's a nice sharp white, with a hint of fruit, and was a knight in shinning armor to the dish it was paired with. 
All in all, this was an outstanding dinner, awesome food, fantastic wine, and great company!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vine and Dine 2/6/2012

Over at Vegan Appetite, Tami is hosting a Vine and Dine event, and this time, featuring two recipes from Bryanna Clark Grogan's new masterpiece, World Vegan Feast
First up is the Lentil and Rapini Stew with Vegan Sausage.
It is / was outstanding. We made it using the chipotle sausages from Field Roast.
A very hearty and satisfying dish.
For a wine, we choose the Seven Daughters Red. This is a new one for us, and we came by it as a result of reading a fine discussion over at PPK. It's a very lively blend, smooth, and it's soft sweet undertones complemented the meal perfectly.

So why did I wait until now to take part in the Vine and Dine adventures?
Simple, Ms. Clark Grogan.
Bryanna is not only one of the best Vegan cooks out there, but is also one of the most generous. She shares many recipes on her site (This in ADDITION to having published 8 fantastic books), is quick to answer and advise, and keeps giving us new ideas on how to wow our palats. 
Now, if only her wonderful books could be edited so that there was a recipe per page(s)... 

Sunday, January 29, 2012


To say it's been a long time since I've written on here would be a gross under statement.
After years of letting the whole idea of blogging take root, and having read so many wonderful blogs, I have a plan.

I want to share both my dinning experiences and the cooking ones.
Dinning will be based on local and travel, while cooking will be based on the recipes that are offered in the books that I have and the blogs I visit.

When I comment on others sites, I keep them to the positive. I am after all just an invited visitor, so it's just good manors, right?
On this site, I'll be more at liberty to go into more details on what did and did not work for me, any changes I made, and those, very few, recipes that were a total loss.

I am also bringing this blog back to life so that I may participate in Tami's awesome Vine and Dine program!

So here is to 2012. Staying healthy, fit and eating well!