Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hardy Italian "Sausage" Pasta Sauce

It's been a week or two since I made this dish, but it was so quick to throw together and so tasty I didn't want to miss sharing it with you. It was a rich and hardy pasta sauce that is great served over your favorite pasta, or even on a nice crusty hoagie roll with some vegan mozzarella melted on top to make a delicious grinder.

Hardy Italian "Sausage" Sauce

1 Tbs EVOO

1 package Tofurky Italian Sausage, sliced

1/2 large onion, sliced

1 bell pepper, any color, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 small can tomato paste

2 tsp unrefined sugar

1 cup water, or more as needed

Fresh basil, chiffonade to garnish

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add tofurky sausages to hot oil and saute until for a minute or 2. Add onion, pepper and garlic and saute until sausage is browning and veggies are becoming soft. Add oregano and stir to combine. Add one can tomato paste and sugar and stir to combine. Add water to thin sauce to desired consistency, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while pasta cooks, or until ready to serve. Serve garnished with fresh basil.

Friday, August 29, 2008


This is almost embarrassing.....I've made 2 cakes this week. Shameful I know. It's quite surprising that my family and I are not grossly over-weight!! What with all the cupcakes I've been obsessed with lately, and now the cakes!!

In my defense, neither of the cakes have been all that unhealthy. While they were both made from white flour, neither of them contained refined sugar, and of course both were cholesterol free (unfortunately I can't say they were fat free!!). Actually, one of them is a great way to eat your veggies.......but in a surprisingly sweet dessert!!

First I made the Chocolate Sin-namon Cake from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. This Chocolate cake is delicious with just a hint of cinnamon to add some interest. I decided to frost it with some Fluffy Buttercream from VCTOTW. I added 1 tsp of cinnamon to the frosting and then sprinkled the entire cake with cinnamon when it was finished. The recipe makes two 9 inch cakes that I stacked together with a layer of buttercream in the center. Yum!

Next was this awesome Zucchini Cake that the Dalai Mama posted about earlier in the week. I ended up with 4 giant zucchini in my CSA share this week and was looking for ways to use them up. This cake was incredible. Rob could not believe that it had zucchini in it (one of his least favorite veggies). I made a few minor changes to the recipe; I only used 1 banana, I used only half the amount of sugar called for, I subbed applesauce for half the oil, I added about 2 Tbs of vanilla soy milk, and I of course left out the walnuts. And, as you can see, I added some Quick Melty Ganache from VCTOTW to the top!! Definitely a dessert I didn't feel bad about letting Mairin have 2 pieces of!! The refrigerated left-overs made an awesome breakfast with a nice cup of hot coffee.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Palak Paneer

Initially I was going to make Palak Soybina Panira from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. As I was looking over the recipe this afternoon it hit me that Dreena's version of Palak Paneer totally left out that creamy component that makes Palak Paneer so good. So, I set out to hunt down another recipe. I came across this recipe and decided it looked easy to veganize, so this is the one I went for.

For the paneer I used Dreena's recipe of cubed tofu marinated in lemon juice and tamari, and I subbed soy creamer for the heavy cream. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. While this isn't exactly like the Palak Paneer you'd get at an Indian restaurant, it is a pretty close replication. I was very pleased (although the photo looks less than appetizing!!). As was Rob, this was one of his favorite meals we've had in a long time. It is a bit spicy, so you could definitely cut down the red chili powder if you'd like it milder. It was too spicy for the girls, however I only used about 1/2 of the tofu in this dish and they loved the other half.

To help cool the mouth we munched on this delicious homemade naan. I used this recipe, subbing soy yogurt and Earth Balance for the yogurt and ghee. A few of my naan got slightly too thin, and therefore over-cooked. But, even the crispy one's were nice. A terrific Indian feast.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vegetable Filled Phyllo Rolls

I was reminded by the Blackened Tofu how much I liked Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, so I decided to go with another recipe from it tonight. This time I tried the Moroccan Infused Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce. Once again, Dreena did not disappoint. This is super simple to make, yet it's such an interesting dish you'd think it took hours (well, actually, it does take hours, but that's just baking, not actual "in the kitchen" work). I used the vegetables that are called for in the recipe, but really I think you could use just about any combination you had on hand......actually, I was thinking that some yam would be fantastic in this dish. And while I did add the dried apricot, I really think it could do with out. The apricots got a little hard in the roasting process, and they didn't add that much sweetness to the dish.
My mom and brother both came over for dinner tonight, and both very much enjoyed this dinner. They are often critical of my vegan food, so I'm always thrilled when I've made something that they enjoy (which, for the record, is most of the time!!).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blackened Tofu

I didn't exactly have a plan for tonight, but being that it's Friday, and we didn't have to rush around like crazy trying to get the kids to bed for school the next day, I knew I wanted to cook something "special". Well, with no plan, I had to come up with something that I already had the ingredients for, which isn't really all that hard, as I generally tend to have a pretty well stocked pantry. I had some tofu that needed using up, so I knew I was going to make a tofu dish. We've been doing stir-fry a lot with all of the CSA veggies, so I didn't want to do that again. That's when I recalled seeing a recipe for Blackened Tofu in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I haven't cooked anything from ED&BV for awhile, so this seemed the perfect opportunity. I had almost everything that was required for the spice blend. The recipe calls for 1 Tbs of paprika, and I only had about 1/2 Tbs left. Since this kind of reminded me of a seafood dish, I decided to fill that 1/2 Tbs void with some Old Bay Seasoning. I also left out the fennel seeds, as the flavor of fennel always reminds me of sausage, and I was going for seafood here.

This tofu was incredible, I will definitely be making it again, and soon!! It was very similar to a blackened fish (without the fishy flavor of course). The only thing I'd do different is to cut the tofu into fillets before I press it so that the thin slices of tofu have less liquid in them (this time I pressed the tofu as one large block). We just ate them as is, but I think they'd be great on a toasted bun with some vegan tartar sauce, red onion slices, tomato slices and a romaine leaf.

"Beef", Pepper and Asparagus Stir Fry

I was intrigued by how much Vegan Dad's beef seitan actually looks like stir fry beef, so I decided to give it a try. It's definitely pepper season at the CSA, so I thought I'd showcase them in this stir-fry along with the "beef". I left it simple, seasoned with a home-made stir fry sauce of tamari, ginger, garlic, chili oil, and scallion. The flavor of the "beef" is very nice, and the texture was good too after the initial fry. However, when I threw it back in the mix to add the sauce the seitan ended up just a bit mushy. It wasn't inedible, just not as firm as I would have preferred.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Icing and Chocolate Ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The BEST cupcake I've ever eaten. Not too sweet and minty delicious. We were all pining for seconds!! Make these ASAP!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Garden Party Anyone??

This post has absolutely nothing to do with vegan food, or even with food for that matter. But, I've stumbled upon this sewing blog, thanks Jenny!! Anyway, this lady makes these absolutely fantastic little girls clothes, then she GIVES THEM AWAY........yes, I said GIVES THEM AWAY. I know, I had to read over her blog several times, just to be sure that was the case. Anyway this Garden Party Frock is one of the cutest things I've seen, and being that I have two little girls, I'd get a lot of use out of it, if by some lucky chance I was the winner.

If you've got a little girl, or even if you know a little girl, you must check out her site and see her clothes. They are beyond beautiful, and so unlike anything you can get at the stores. After seeing how cute her clothes are I'll warn you, you are likely to see a few more of these posts in the future as I tempt my luck!!!

Vegan Indianapolis

photo from

So, I know that I said the weekends were going to be when I do most of my cooking now that school has started. Here we are, a weekend has passed, and I've yet to post a dish. As it turns out, I didn't cook this weekend. We took a short trip up to Indianapolis to see Bill Maher. I've really been missing Real Time this summer, so it was great to see Maher again. And, it reminded me that his movie Religulous is due out soon (which I can't wait to see). In addition to Bill's intelligent, witty and liberal take on politics and his humorous and thought provoking views on world religion, Bill is on the board of PETA, an animal rights activist, and not at all shy about telling the American people that they are fat and unhealthy because of their addiction to a meat based diet!! Go Bill!!! Oh yes, I can't forget the hilarious aside to this we left the theater there were a group of people (probably 40 or so) standing on the sidewalk, holding candles, and singing hymns, praying to save our souls. Apparently Bill Maher has very few friends in the religious circle!!

Vegan eating in Indy isn't really as easy as I thought it would be. There isn't even one 100% vegetarian restaurant in the entire city. Plus, being that we were staying downtown and the show was downtown we, of course, wanted to eat downtown. Our best shot at getting vegan food downtown was PF Chang's. With the vegetarian lettuce wraps, and the coconut curry vegetables, it was a very satisfying vegan meal. For breakfast the next day we drove to The Abbey, which is the one restaurant/cafe in Indy that features vegetarian/vegan options. Here we had some incredibly good vegan pancakes smothered with the freshest, sweetest berries I've had in quite some time. This little place is definitely a gem in Indy's dining scene. I can't wait to go back and try some of their lunch/dinner options which all sounded incredible!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maple Dijon Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Tonight's dinner was just thrown together using a lot of our CSA veggies from this week, and it turned out superbly. It was a bit more fancy version of the pasta salad I blogged about before, and served warm.

This time I started by roasting 2 large red peppers. Roasting peppers is so simple, and it makes them taste so delicious. For those of you who might not know the best way to roast a pepper, this is a pretty good tutorial.

After the peppers had roasted, I tossed 1 pint of grape tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes (until they were beginning to burst). While the tomatoes were roasting I also had 4 cloves of garlic roasting (in the skins, drizzled in EVOO and wrapped in aluminum foil).

On the stove I sauteed 2 small zucchini, sliced and 2 small summer squash, sliced with about 1/2 of a large red onion, also sliced. While sauteing and roasting the veggies I cooked about 8 oz of whole wheat penne. Once everything was roasted, sauteed and cooked, I tossed it all together (except the garlic) in a large bowl and drizzled it with a maple dijon vinaigrette.

Rob declare this dish delicious, and we both went back for a second helping. It's really quick and easy to make and a great way to retain the fresh flavors of your summer veggies.

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

1 Tbs Dijon Mustard

2 Tbs Maple Syrup

2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste

Combine all ingredients except oil in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, then slowly add olive oil while whisking, until emulsified.

Product Review

I don't typically do product reviews, and this one doesn't so much need a review, as the name says it all. So delicious!!! Turtle Mountain has out done themselves with this new line of coconut milk based dairy free yogurts. I've always been a fan of the Turtle Mountain products, namely their ice cream, but they've really raised the bar with this product. I've tried all of the available flavors, and while they are all good, this one in particular (Passionate Mango) is exceptional.

There is a new line of coconut milk based ice cream they have out under the Purely Decadent brand as well. As of my last visit to the health food store it wasn't yet available here, but you can bet I'll be buying up as much as I can when it becomes available locally.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stawberry Shortcakes

This has been our first week of school, and I've been trying to make most of the things that are Mairin's favorites, along with a few special treats for her. Yesterday she was greeted off the bus with warm Chocolate Chip Cookies and a glass of vanilla soy milk. This morning before she left for school she was telling me how much she loved strawberry shortcake ("you know, the desserts mommy, not the girl"). Luckily, Vegan Dad had just posted a recipe for shortcake, so I knew exactly what my special treat today would be. We actually finished up our chocolate chip cookies from yesterday after school and had these delicious shortcakes after our dinner. The cake was just right, and served with Temptation Vanilla Ice Cream, it was just like the strawberry shortcakes from childhood.

For dinner we've been having meals that I know Mairin will eat.....I want her to be well fed for the first week of school, ya know. So we've had "Giardino" Burgers, spaghetti, and tonight a tofu scramble. I've made a similar curried tofu scramble that I blogged about before. This scramble had green onions, carrots, garlic and spinach scrambled with the tofu and seasoned with salt, pepper and curry powder. The kids actually like this, which has surprised me twice now!!. I served them with some potato cakes that I made from mashed potatoes that were leftover from earlier in the week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another Birthday

This time we celebrated my Big Girls birthday. Mairin turned 5 on Friday, and we had her a little party this afternoon. We celebrated Fancy Nancy style, with a fancy dress tea party. The kids had a great time decorating tiaras, sipping their raspberry tea (decaf of course), and getting all dolled up in feather boas.

And, what party would be complete with out cake?? Cupcakes for us of course. I just did the basic chocolate cupcakes from VCTOTW, with fluffy buttercream frosting that had been dyed, just to add to the fancy factor.

The party was at lunch time, so we served soy nut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, pretzels, and of course, you can't have a proper English tea party without scones!! I used this recipe, and they were probably the best scones I've had......lot's of compliments on these! Another vegan birthday party that was entirely a success!

School starts this week , so things will probably be changing around here a bit as far as dinner goes. With me teaching until almost 7 three nights a week, and the girls needing to get to bed earlier, most of our week night meals are going to become quick and simple (and probably un-blog-worthy). As a matter of fact, we may turn in to that family that designates each night a meal (i.e. Monday is taco night, Wednesday is spaghetti night, etc.). Tuesday, Friday and the weekend will be the days that I will really be able to cook, so hopefully I'll be able to get in a few exciting things in those days and keep you guys interested and entertained with my cooking adventures. And maybe, if I get creative, I may even have a few good "vegan school lunch box" posts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catching Up

I've been terribly remiss in blogging lately. This week was our last full week before school starts, so we were rather busy. Not to mention, we had a major heatwave for most of the week and I just didn't feel like cooking. We ate lots of cold dishes, and I fried up some Fakin' Bacon and made BLT's with some of our CSA tomatoes.

I do have just a few highlights from the past week to share with you though. Because of the heat I was trying very hard not to turn on my oven or make anything that would heat up the kitchen too much. Therefore, the grill became the perfect place to cook a pizza. The photo below is just a typical veggie pizza with FYH mozzarella, and some fresh corn from the CSA. Other toppings included onions, bell pepper, and banana pepper (all from the CSA)

Last Sunday I made up a batch of the Ultimate Barbecued Seitan Sandwich to take over to my mother's house for lunch and swimming. With the left over barbecue we decided to throw together a Barbecued Chicken Pizza and cook it on the grill. This one again included corn and banana pepper from the CSA and red onion. No cheese on this pizza. This one was out of this world. I'll be using my left over barbecue for this one many times.

I also managed to throw together this pasta dish using local heirloom tomatoes and again, the apparently ubiquitous, CSA corn. There are also some cooked chickpeas thrown in there. This one was a recipe from a current Vegetarian Times. The sauce is raw, you just boil the pasta, combine it with the tomatoes and corn and dress it with a cumin lime dressing. Very good!!

And finally, I did turn on the oven one morning to make these delicious Cinnamon-Oat Scones. They are becoming a new favorite here. They aren't as heavy as traditional scones, and are actually a bit more like a giant muffin.

Cinnamon-Oat Scones

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup quick cooking oats

1/3 cup soy milk (plain)

2 Tbs. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Add oats and stir. Add soy milk and mix until a dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface and form into a 7 inch circle. Cut into 8 triangles (don't cut all the way through). Place on ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with a turbinado sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Peach-Rosewater Cupcakes

The last time I was at Whole Foods Market I was in the baking aisle, looking for some good vanilla extract and came across this beautiful bottle of Rose Flower Water. I didn't really know what to do with it, but thought the bottle was just so intriguing, it looked so old, and it was just so I bought it.

Lo and behold, when looking through Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World I saw a recipe for Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes. So, now I had something to do with my rosewater, only, when am I going to be able to get away with making cupcakes that contain nuts and not have Stella begging for one? So, I file away the fact that the recipe is there, I put the beautiful bottle of rosewater in the drawer and more or less forget about it, until tonight.

I pulled out VCTOTW, looked over the recipe, and decided to give it a go sans pistachios. The result was this absolutely gorgeous Peach-Rosewater Cupcake with Rosewater Buttercream Icing. They became "peach" because I didn't have any vanilla soy yogurt. My two options were peach or blueberry, and well, peach just seemed to go better with rosewater. I also didn't have the cardamom that the recipe calls for, so I omitted that. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. I also used the buttercream recipe from VCTOTW, reducing the sugar by 1 full cup, and adding 1 tsp of rosewater to the icing.

The resulting cupcake was a wonderfully moist, not too sweet, peach flavored cake with a hint of rose in the background. They were so elegant and delicious, and of course, loved by all!!


I'm back from Chicago, again with no food pictures to share with you. As a matter of fact, I'm back with no food anything to share with you. I went to Chicago with a non-vegetarian friend, so we didn't even venture to any of the veg only restaurants that Chicago has to offer. Therefore, my eating consisted mostly of pasta with grilled veggies, cheese-less veggie pizza, and burritos sans cheese. Don't get me wrong, I ate a lot of good food, but it was your typical vegan finds at conventional restaurants, ya know?

I do however have a few miscellaneous food items to share with you. First, there's this Terriyaki Stir Fry that I made up on Tuesday evening. When I got home Monday evening I was faced with a ton of CSA veggies from the previous week. Uninspired and at a loss for what to do with them all, I diced them up and threw them in a stir-fry. Damn good idea, as this was one delicious stir-fry. It consisted of eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, onions and green pepper. Once the veggies were stir-fried I hit it with a little home made terriyaki (Mirin, Shoyu, and sugar) and a few dashes of dried red chili. I served it over white jasmine rice with a side of crispy fried tofu and called it a meal.

A few days later I tried out the tofu fritatta from a recent Vegetarian Times issue. It's a combo of diced, sauteed veggies mixed with some tofu and vegan cheese, topped with tomatoes and baked until firm. The concept and the flavor of this dish were both superb. Unfortunately, the consistency was a bit off. The recipe didn't call for the tofu to be pressed before processing with the cheese, but I think that pressing the tofu first would have gone a long way toward fixing the consistency of this dish. So, I will definitely be trying this recipe again, only with pressed tofu. When I get it just right I'll share the recipe with you..........for now, you'll just have to enjoy the photo.