Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy

It's a fact. Fresh baked bread is the most heavenly wonder imaginable for your tastebuds. Bonus: it makes your house smell like a bakery.

Luckily, fresh baked bread is not as unattainable as it might seem. To many, baking bread may seem like a daunting task full of yeast proofing and tedious kneading, but it's actually not all that difficult, especially if you stick to no yeast quick-bread recipes when you first start out. Yes it's messy and your hands get sticky, but once you have tasted your own fresh bread there is no going back. Plus, this biscuit recipe takes about 20 minutes to make (including bake time...seriously) so there's no excuse to not give it a try.

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 cups sifted self-rising flour (or sift together all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder and a dash of salt)
  • 1/4 cup nondairy margarine (I use Smart Balance light)
  • 3/4 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
To Make

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine your milk and vinegar in a cup. Mix with a fork and set aside to allow the milk to slightly curdle. This process mimics the buttermilk used in traditional biscuit recipes. Pour your flour into a large mixing bowl. Add your margarine and fold into the flour to combine. I like to mix the flour and margarine by hand until it clumps up like cornmeal. Add your milk little by little and mix with a whisk or wooden spoon. Form into a ball and roll onto a floured surface.

Roll your dough around in the flour until it is no longer sticky. Flatten your dough then fold in half. Repeat this process several times to make big fluffy biscuits. Roll out with a rolling pin until your dough is about an inch thick. Use the rim of a glass or a round cutter to cut out your individual biscuits. Place your biscuits on a lightly greased pan and spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and serve nice and toasty.

For fun variation, try adding freshly chopped herbs into your batter, or even shredded vegan cheeses. Serve with margarine, jam, syrup or veggie gravy, which you can easily make in a pan before serving.

Veggie Gravy

  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste
To Make

Mix your cornstarch and water with a fork and set aside. Heat your broth in a frying pan on medium heat. Add your salt and pepper as desired. Allow your broth to bubble and pull away from the edges before adding your cornstarch mixture. Continue to move in the pan on medium to high heat until it turns lumpy and gelatinous. Serve immediately or cool and heat as needed.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Better Living through Crock-Pot Cooking

I'm going to make an admission here: I really don't enjoy cooking. Don't get me wrong - I love eating ethically, I just hate working for my food. I'm kind of lazy, washing up afterward blows, and I'd rather be playing video games than slaving over a stove, especially when I was still a student and working full-time, and my leisure hours were precious to me. For years, dinner was pizza, microwave noodles, or instant mashed potatoes, because cooking is a chore and I didn't want to bother.

And that is why I love my crock-pot. I have come to believe that no vegan should be without a slow cooker. With 5-10 minutes of prep time, you can leave for work or school, and come back 8 hours later to a hot meal ready and waiting. I've made chili, stews, pastas, wheat-meat 'roasts', potatoes, and bean dishes in my crock-pot, and that's only scratching the surface of possibilities, thanks entirely to Robin Robertson's book "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker". It's the easiest possible way for someone like me to get fresh vegetables and variety into their diet, and it solves the problem of typical dinner recipes where you have too much food left over if cooking for just one person - you can refrigerate the entire ceramic insert and pull out what you want to eat. Here is one of the best chilis I've ever eaten (and by far the best I've ever made for myself). From "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker".

(onion not pictured)

Farm Stand Chili with Chickpeas
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib (I left this out and used celery salt instead)
1 eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder (or to taste - I used 2)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 and 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas)
1 can corn kernels, drained (or 1 Cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels)
salt and black pepper to taste (I used a lot of red pepper too)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, eggplant, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook covered about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the chili powder and cook another 30 seconds.

Put the diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and corn into the slow cooker. Add the vegetables from the pot and stir, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add about 1 and 1/2 cups water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

When cooking in a crock-pot or slow cooker, make certain not to overfill the ceramic insert. If making something like a chili that tells you to add water, add the water last so that you can better gauge how well your vegetables will fit. I have a very small crock-pot, so I have to be careful with recipes that call for a lot of ingredients. Also, no matter how delicious it smells while cooking, try not to lift the lid and taste it very often. It's estimated that each time the lid is removed, it pushes your cook time back an extra 30 minutes. But most importantly, food in a slow cooker can burn if left in too long. If you can't be home within a 6 to 8 hour time window, save the recipe for another day.


Awareness and empowered action

Well this is my first official blog post, thanks to Molly for inviting me to join in :)

I've been an environment and animal advocate for a few years now, and have met some of the worlds most amazing humans along the way. We're always discussing ways to be more effective, trying to make sense of the insane world we live in.

In light of some recent disturbing issues [massive and continued oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the video footage of psychotic dairy cow abuse...just to name two], those on the front lines find themselves wanting to rip their hair out in frustration. Anger, rage, dismay, depression, or even apathy are common side effects. But where do these feelings get you? And can you control it!?

Below is an excerpt from author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now", which discusses our current state of individuals and as part of the collective. Our level of consciousness has a profound impact on the living world around us, and by seeing the part of you that gets angry, resentful and even giddy or depressed, you can change your trajectory through that enlightenment, which resonates in the world and with all that you do. Struggles and stress be gone....

Anger begets anger; hate begets hate; etc. We all know it but it's easy to lose sight of it when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

By resisting what "is" by saying "How dare they?" "Who does these things?" "You're wrong and evil!" "I can't believe this is happening!" creates negative energy, and that is where our ideas, decisions, perceptions will come from. Definitely not a powerful place for having a positive influence. Taking ACTION will be far more powerful and effective if we accept - without judgment - the way things are now, and focus on solutions versus name calling and resentment. Our natural and creative instincts will come up with ideas and solutions that address what "is". From a place far deeper and riddled with compassion....way more effective for substantive change.

Many of you probably already know and live by this, just figured I'd revisit it now while the coals are still hot.

Thanks and peace :)

Pg. 203 [emphasis mine]
"All evils are the effect of unconsciousness. You can alleviate the effects of unconsciousness, but you cannot eliminate them unless you eliminate their cause. True change happens within, not without.

If you feel called upon to alleviate suffering in the world, that is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer; otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair. Without a profound change in the human consciousness, the world's suffering is a bottomless pit. So don't let your compassion become one-sided. Empathy with someone elses pain or lack and a desire to help need to be balanced with a deeper realization of [*unconsciousness and it's involvement in our present collective] (*written different by me). Then let your peace flow into whatever you do and you will be working on the levels of effect and cause simultaneously.

This also applies if you are supporting a movement designed to stop deeply unconscious humans from destroying themselves, each other, and the planet, or from continuing to inflict dreadful suffering on other sentient beings. Remember: Just as you cannot fight the darkness, so you cannot fight unconsciousness. If you try to do so, the polar opposites will become strengthened and more deeply entrenched. You will become identified with one of the polarities, you will create an "enemy", and so be drawn into unconsciousness yourself. Raise awareness by disseminating information, or at the most, practice passive resistance. But make sure that you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity.

Once you get involved in working on the level of effect, it is all too easy to lose yourself in it. Stay alert and very, very present. The causal level needs to remain your primary focus, the teaching of enlightenment your main purpose, and peace your most precious gift to the world."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daiya Cheesy Quesadillas

So, I'm generally not one for cheese substitutes. This realization is actually quite surprising as I, like most vegetarians, hesitated in becoming vegan because I thought a life without cheese would be far too unsatisfying. Boy, was I wrong. Two years since giving it up I have all but forgotten how to use it really.

But then, strangely enough, I had a craving for ooey gooey cheesy quesadillas. I think it's partially because the vegan blogosphere has completely fallen for Daiya cheeses for both its flavor and melting capabilities. I figured I'd give it a shot and I was quite pleased with the results!

Daiya Cheese Quesadillas

  • Burrito-size flour tortilla
  • 1 pkg. Daiya cheese
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • your favorite Mexican spices
To Cook

Saute your onions, green pepper and garlic in a medium pan with oil or cooking spray. Add salt, cumin, cilantro, cayenne--any spices you like. Cook until your onions are clear. Layer half of your tortilla with Daiya cheese, vegetables and even more cheese as desired. Fold your tortilla over and sprinkle with, well, more cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy and the cheese is melty.

This recipe goes great served with diced tomatoes, homemade guacamole (skip the store-bought, it's as simple as avocado, lime juice, salt and cilantro in a blender), and non- hydrogenated Tofutti Better than Sour Cream if you are feeling nostalgic for dairy. I also made spring mix salad topped with a combination of black beans, corn and spicy salsa that I heated up on the stove.

This dish is super filling and hits that need for comfort food. I think it's an especially good treat for omnis and vegetarians to see just how satisfying and simple vegan cooking can truly be!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


One of the cheapest and simplest imaginable foods to make, and a surprisingly versatile food, too, is polenta. It's basically boiled cornmeal, and is often enjoyed as a comfort food. People often compare polenta to grits, and it's true that both come from corn, but polenta is so much more than a breakfast meal. You can eat it straight from the pot as a hot delicious mush, or you can press it into a dish to cool and eat it as solid cakes, and you can also take those and fry them up or cut them into strips and bake them. Polenta can be eaten alone, can be mixed or topped with things like vegetables, beans, tomato sauce, or your favorite non-dairy cheese, or can be served as a side to a full dinner meal, or with salad or pasta. It's quick to make, and it's hard to think of anything cheaper than cornmeal! This is an easy one to experiment with, too, for anyone who's just starting out learning to cook. Try substituting different vegetables or legumes, or enjoy it with spaghetti.

Polenta with spinach and mushrooms
* Large pot with four Cups water, lightly salted
* 1 1/2 Cups cornmeal (coarsely ground meal is the usual)
* 1/2 packet frozen spinach
* (optional) non-dairy cheese of your choice
* 1 can mushrooms (or fresh mushrooms)
* 1 Tablespoon vegan margarine

Bring the pot of water to a boil. While the water heats, thaw the frozen spinach in a microwave or pot and drain. In the large pot of boiling water, while stirring, add the cornmeal slowly to avoid clumps. (This is the most difficult part for me - it will take some practice to be able to pour in the cornmeal without it clumping. It will still taste fine, just looks a little funky.) Boil the mixture, stirring, for about 8 minutes, or until it's thick and smooth. Add any spices or seasonings you desire. Rosemary, oregano, or basil are popular choices. Shortly before it's finished cooking add the spinach, and cook until the extra water has evaporated. At this point you can add your vegan cheese if you wish, just stir it around until it's melted and evenly mixed.

If you want to eat the polenta hot, leave it in the pot on low while you heat up a skillet with the margarine. Drain the can of mushrooms (or wash your fresh mushrooms), and sauté them. You can either leave the mushrooms plain, or season them. A friend of mine highly recommends salt, pepper, and onion powder. Serve a scoop of sauteed mushrooms on top of a bowl of warm or cold polenta (vegan Parmesan or other cheese optional).

To store polenta for eating later or for grilling/baking, spoon it into any shallow container to cool. A glass pie dish works well, or you can grease or line a metal pan with wax paper. Use a spatula to press down on the cooling polenta and squeeze out any air. Let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature, then transfer it to whatever tupperware or storage container you want and refrigerate it.

And for something a little different, cut the solid polenta into squares or wedges, brush them with oil or margarine and and grill them or fry them in a skillet until they're golden and crispy.

Unfortunately, joining a cooking blog didn't infuse me with any sort of photography skill, and all the pictures I tried to take looked like they were shot during an earthquake, but polenta images and recipes are easy to find on the web. (Next time I make polenta I'll pop a picture into this post.) So have fun, and enjoy!

The Joy of Snacking: Kale Crisps!

I am not a sweets kind of person. When I get a craving for junk food it is for something crunchy and salty like potato or corn chips. My solution?
Kale crisps! Sound a little strange? Well maybe. But they are super easy, oh so chrispy and tastey. I can not take credit for thinking of this of course. Someone brought these to a potlock I attended and I was hooked. Making them is just as easy as eating them too!
  • Fresh Red Kale (I ussually by one bunch and use 1/2 of that at a time)
  • salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • olive oil ( I use a mister for the olive oil so I only use a little bit!)
To Make: Preheat oven to 350
Chop the kale and spread onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle/mist with olive oil and then salt.
Bake for about 10 mins or until dry and crispy but not burnt!
They don't look like much but if you love crispy snacks then you will love these I promise!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Eggless egg salad sandwich

I had a craving for something cool, light, and refreshing but something with substance! Sometimes I forget just how versatile tofu can be. You can fry it, bake it, even whip it up to make creamy desserts! Or, in this case, just crumble it!

What you need:
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • Vegan mayo (I used Canola spread - worked just fine!)
  • Veggies:
    • 2-5 green onions
    • 2 stalks celery
    • Green pepper x 1
    • Red pepper (this combines super well with the turmeric) x 1
  • Spices:
    • Turmeric 1 tsp
    • Garlic powder (or you can crush up some fresh cloves) 1 tsp
    • Pepper to taste
    • Salt to taste
  • Optional:
    • Fresh garlic cloves
    • Braggs liquid aminos (I used this to moisten up my stuff and add a little salty flavor)
    • Bread to make a sandwich (I toasted mine) or just use crackers
To make:
In a large bowl, crumble tofu with your hands. Drop in the spices and mayo and stir. Chop and dice your veggies and throw 'em in. Stir. Taste test. Add more mayo? Add more pepper? Spice it up with some cayenne? Plop it on some warm toast?

Super fast! No cooking involved. I had everything in my fridge minus the celery, which I wish I had for more crunch! It was full of flavor and was quite filling!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gardein Products

For a super easy meal that only needs heating, try Gardein!

Their website can tell you which stores sell the products. I get mine from Publix.

Their buffalo wings are very spicy! Just toss 'em into the toaster oven for 15 minutes and have with some frozen veggies, rice, or whatever.They also have "fresh" products that only need microwaving.

Delicious, high in protein, and my favorite part: QUICK and EASY!



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Philly Cheesesteak

When I saw the Tofurky Philly option, I knew I had to try to recreate the cheesesteak. The ingredients I used are based on preference and what my local stores carry, but you can get creative:

Philly-Style Cheeze Tofursteak Sammich

yields enough to make full 1 hoagie or about 2 sandwiches

1/4 Package of Tofurky Philly Slices
1/4 White or Vidalia Onion, sliced thinly
Handful of Button or Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/4 Cup (or a handful) Daiya Mozarella Cheese (or your favorite vegan moz)

1 tsp cooking oil or Earth Balance spread
seasoning (Nature's Seasoning, or a combo of salt+pepper+garlic powder)

1 Hoagie Roll or 2 Slices of White Bread
2 to 4
Slices of Tomato, optional
Leaves of Lettuce, optional
Vegenaise (I like Purple...)

While your skillet or panini press/grill is heating up to about medium, slice the chunk of tofurky slices lengthwise into strips. You can separate the hunks into thinner strips since tofurky meats like to stick together. Set aside.

Chuck the onions and mushrooms into the pan with a smidgen of cooking oil, season to your liking. Saute until cooked to your preferred level of done-ness (slightly translucent but not completely done), then add the "steak" slices to the pan. Once everything is warm (don't cook the tofurky too long otherwise it starts to look weird), add sprinkle in the cheese. Toss everything around until it's melted, stringy, and everything is evenly distributed. If you need to add more cheese, go for it -- it's your sandwich, do whatever you want!

Toast the bread of your choosing and dress one or both of the sides with Vegenaise. Add the filling from the skillet, then top with your favorite toppings--I like to use lettuce, tomato, and raw onions to add a bit of a zing to it. Mustard is good too, I suppose.


It's nothing fancy, but it is tasty. You'll have to experiment with the quantities of the ingredients to get the perfect sandwich for you since everyone likes their philly sandwiches a certain way. Enjoy!

Speedy Sausage Spaghetti

Busy? Hate cooking?
Well, we have something in common. But you know what? That's no excuse!
Seriously. I made this pasta while running in and out of the house feeding horses, the calf, the pigs, and I even prepared the dogs' dinner - all while cooking this yummy dish. I was cooking for two with plans to have leftovers.

  • Pasta - Any kind will do. Spaghetti, Zitti, bowties, shells, whatever! I prefer to use the colored pasta as opposed to bleached, but today I used up the bleached penne. The amount (size of box) depends on how many you are cooking for.
  • Sauce - you can either make this from scratch, which is easy but adds an additional step. Or you can use pre-made sauce like Ragu, Pregu, or Publix brand. Many varieties of pre-made sauces have cheese (whey, casein, or cheese) in them, so be vigilant. 
  • Veggies - Whatever is in your fridge. You only need 1/2 - 1 of each type of veg. Green pepper, red pepper, tomato, onion, garlic.
  • Sausage - I used Tofurkey Italian Sausage . You only need 1/2 a package. 
  • Italian bread & butter (optional) - I got Publix brand Cuban bread because the Italian bread had an egg wash.
To Make:
  • Boil pasta as directed on box
  • Slice the sausage into thin cuts. 
  • Drop 1 tsp oil in a frying pan, heat on medium, fry the sausage slices in the oil for just a few minutes. Turn them over and fry for another minute. Set aside. 
  • Add another tsp oil in same frying pan. Fry your garlic first (I used 4 cloves, but I should have used a lot more!), then onions, peppers. 
  • Add spices as needed - pepper, salt, etc.
  • Dump pre-made sauce onto the veggies and cover and simmer until hot. 
  • Throw the bread into a toaster oven on the "toast" setting or into a conventional oven at 400 for just a few minutes. When it darkens just a bit it is ready! Crispy on the outside, steamy on the inside!
You're done!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What do Vegans Eat?-Salad of Course!

Another very typical scenario when the topic of my vegan-ism is discussed with curious but clueless omnivores...
"You are vegan!? So what does that leave you to eat..... salad?"
This one always confused me. Why do people associate salads with vegetarians? I guess because of all the vegetables...but when I look around there are tons of salads that have meat, dairy,and eggs. Actually try and go somewhere with prepackaged salads like at a super market or fast food joint and pick up a vegan salad. I dare you. They are literally non existent. If you do manage to track down that ever elusive beast it will most likely look like this-
Don't worry guys a vegan would not call this a meal either!

I have heard many vegans say they don't like talking about salads because we don't want to give the wrong impression- that we subsist only on salad. However, I do like salads! I know many omnivores that like salad too! So I want to talk about my favorite salad fixings to make vegan, delicious and nutritious meals very unlike that bland water based concoction seen above.

I try and serve fresh veggies with most meals and one of the easiest ways of course is in the form of a dinner salad. Everyone has heard of that 5 colors a day rule right? Well I like to try and accomplish this as efficiently as possible by creating my five color salad!

(OK the stickers were not on purpose! Someone brought the stickers over the other night)
5 Color Salad
  • Spring Mix or Spinach
  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Pears
The ingredients don't matter just be creative and try and combine as many colors as possible.

Here it is with the dinner we made that night- Pasta with spicy tahini sauce and baked tofu. My husband added the beer for his contribution.

Another Example? I went in search of an extra tasty salad to bring to an international student potluck and found this treasure. The dressing is literally to die for. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. It is rich, creamy and hearty-like a good salad should be!

OK now lets talk dressings- Many store-bought dressings are not vegan. Many store-bought dressings also contain other not so nice ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and trans fats. My solution to this is to make my own! Here is an easy to make and super simple salad dressing.

(Once again whoops on the stickers!)
Grandma's Dressing-I am sure my version is nothing like Chris's grandmother's recipe. I asked her how to make it and she does not know the ratios or amounts. Grandmas are magical like that. Here is my best shot at it.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic ( I use a garlic press)
  • salt and pepper to taste
I added 1 table spoon of dried Italian herbs. Fresh mint goes really well in this.
Make sure you shake or stir before you serve!

Here is another salad I made along with this lasagna. This one is spinach with a lemon tahini dressing.

Eat your veggies! Golden~

Temptation Thy Name is Vegan Candy Bars

I love healthy green food as much as the next girl, but every once in a while something comes along so delicious and decadent that it tempts like no other.

I was never much of a candy bar junkie before I went vegan, but it wasn't so long ago that I remembered nibbling on the occasional Snickers candy bar. The fun-sized ones were the best part of any Halloween goodie bag. Because they contain milk chocolate, I haven't had one in years. Naturally, I assumed those days of caramel and peanutty goodness were behind me...until now. Oh, it's good to be a vegan.

Go Max Go has unleashed the temptation that are vegan candy bars. These dairy-free, transfats-free, little vegan pieces of heaven are designed to mimic (and they truly succeed) four classic candy bar flavors. The Jokerz taste like a Snickers bar, the Twilight taste like a Milky Way, the Mahalo bar has the coconut and almond of an Almond Joy (oh my god) and the Buccaneer bar is designed to taste like a Three Musketeers. They are all made of rice milk chocolate, so they are low-gluten, but several flavors contain malt powder.

I've been told you can find them at your nearest Whole Foods. I was lucky enough to score a few free ones from the New Orleans Veggie Fest that are currently residing in my freezer. Believe me, they are taking all the self control I have to not dig into them right now. I strongly recommend getting your hands on them as soon as possible.

It's just nice to know there are products out there to give the sweet tooth a little reward for having chosen a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pizza Night!

My husband and I are obsessed with making our own pizza. We have made every kind of (meatless) pizza under the sun (ie breakfast pizza, enchilada pizza, lasagna pizza, mango chutney pizza... you get the gist)

Becoming vegan sort of took the wind out our pizza making sails. After some inspiration from the blog Ethical Pizza we made a vegan pesto pizza last night. I made the pesto myself. It was topped with a variety of mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes and shredded squash. It was super fun and very satisfying.

Does your family have a pizza night? Vegan or not, take out pizza is not a healthy meal. Making a pizza yourself is easier than you think and so much fun! We like to have friends over and have each person pick an ingredient for a truly original creation.



It was about 10:00pm and I suddenly had a craving for pancakes. I was wide awake and willing to cook, so I rummaged through the cabinets to see if I had all the necessary ingredients. I did... sort of.

Vegan With a Vengeance is my favorite cookbook so far. It offers delicious, practical recipes - chocolate chip pancakes is one of them!

But before you make pancakes there are two very important keys to cooking them:
  1. Consistency of the batter - the batter cannot be too runny or it will make thin, icky pancakes like this:
        2. Know ahead of time that your first pancake is your guinea pig pancake. You will likely not enjoy the first pancake and will feed it to your easy-to-please spouse or your pig. Your first pancake will probably be too big (pictured above) until you take your excitement down a notch and make smaller (about 4'') cakes, and it will probably be overcooked (as you are trying to get the pan at the right temp). Let me reiterate, your first (and maybe the second, too) pancake will SUCK and that's okay! Here's a comparison of a bad pancake (my second one is on the right - it sucked as bad as the first. And the better pancake is on the left):

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 to 1 1/4 c soy or rice milk
  • 2 tsb canola oil
  • 3 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 1/3 c semi sweet choc chips
  • Canola oil cooking spray for pan
I mentioned that I "sort of" had all the ingredients. Well, I was about 1/2 cup shy of all-purpose flour but I figured I would substitute extra cocoa for the missing flour. That didn't work. So I just kept adding arrowroot flour until I got the right consistency.  If your batter is too runny your pancakes will turn out thin and likely overcooked. If this happens, you could always throw some fresh fruit in the center of the thin cake and fold it over like a crepe!
You want the batter to be thick so that it slowly pours from the bowl and slowly forms a pancake shape. Pour your batter slowly (have I said "slowly" enough yet?) so that you can judge the size of your cake. Start small and get the hang of flipping them before you try for a bigger pancake. It's a pain to keep making little ones over and over, but I prefer that over a big pancake that rips or bends while you are trying to flip it!

To make:
Add all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and stir with a whisk. The cookbook instructions say to "sift" it together and I find stirring with a whisk does the job! Next, create a well in the dry stuff and add all the liquid ingredients, and finally, stir. It can be a little lumpy. You don't want to stir it until it's runny.
If you have the chocolate chips, fold them in now.

Oil and preheat skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. You want it to be hot before you put your guinea pig cake on there.
Cook about 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top. You'll get the feel for the right timing after you mess up a few cakes. Flip pancake and let the bottom cook about 2 minutes or less, depending on the cake thickness.

 Ready to flip!

To keep 'em warm, wrap in foil or pre-heat the over beforehand and stick them in an oven-safe dish to keep toasty while you finish cooking!

Vegan With a Vengeance cookbook contains other pancake recipes that are awesome! If you have some cinnamon, vinegar, and a banana lying around you can make some extra fluffy pancakes.
For a simpler pancake all you need is flour, baking powder, baking soda, soy milk, and oil.

Happy late-night snacking!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Joy of Snacking: Quick and Easy Hummus

If you are looking for a no-fuss simple snack, hummus is an easy choice. Hummus can be served with toasted pita wedges, spread in a wrap or with raw cuts of vegetables.

When it comes to store bought brands, I feel every hummus on this earth pales in comparison to Sabra. It is just the most delicious ever. However, in my household it has practically already been eaten before I have finished unpacking the groceries and at nearly four bucks a container, it's simply not economical.

For a fraction of the cost, you can create your own hummus at home with a food processor or blender. The essential requirements are a can of garbanzo beans (drained, but reserve the liquid for re-adding later), lemon juice or citric acid and olive oil. Other than this, customize to your liking. Add tahini for the most authentic flavoring. Other favorite hummus additions are garlic (minced or in garlic salt), cumin, paprika, parsley, onion powder or even a few sprinkles of cayenne.

If you have a little extra time, add some roasted or sauteed vegetables to enhance the flavor. Try red and green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggplant or black olives. It's really up to you.

To get your hummus perfect, it's mostly trial and error. Process your ingredients in your food processor and taste. Not salty enough? Splash some in. Not creamy enough? Add some oil or water. Lacking...taste? Give it some.

Bottomline, keep playing with it until you get it perfect. It will keep well in a plastic or ceramic container, if you are actually able to have some leftover.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vegan Egg(less) Rolls

Eggrolls are a favorite at Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately, they are off the table for vegans. Some grocery stores sell eggroll wrappers to assemble your own, but rarely are they egg-free. With a little finagling of sticky dough, you can make your own egg(less) rolls at home.

That’s right, eggs are not necessary to make this deliciousness. Neither, of course, is a meat filling. Oh, and since I’m trying to be a little bit healthier…practically no oil is included in this recipe either! Yet they are still crunchy and flavorful. Why fry when you can bake?

Vegan Egg(less) Roll Wrappers


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • 3 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Sift your flour into a mixing bowl. In a food processor, combine your egg replacer and 4 tbsp. of water with your salt. Mix well, until light and frothy. Add to your flour, mixing with a fork. Add 1/4 cup of your ice cold water at first, continuing to stir. Add enough of your remaining water to make an elastic-y dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface (I use my cutting board, though it’s not totally ideal) for about 5 minutes. Cover your dough, and let sit for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, play a game of Scattergories. Look for meaningful shapes in your popcorn ceiling. Write a sonnet. Whatever you do, stay busy and keep away from your dough. Patience is a virtue.

Knead your dough again, making sure it is even and nice and stuff. Cut it in half, rolling each half into a cylindrical shape. Cut each log into about six pieces. Roll out each piece into a very, very thin square. You want it to be almost transparent when stuffed with egg roll filling. You can stack your wrappers on top of each other, but separate with a paper towel or sprinkle a layer of cornstarch in between.

Vegan Egg(less) Roll Filling*


  • cabbage (2 cups)
  • shitake mushrooms (2 cups)
  • carrots (2)
  • green onion (3)
  • yellow onion (1)
  • cumin (1 tsp.)
  • garlic salt (1 tsp.)
  • soy sauce (1 tsp.)
  • cayenne pepper (1 tsp.)
  • lemon juice (1 tbsp.)

*Feel free to be super creative with your filling. Sub parsnips for carrots. Throw in some black beans. Whatever you want–I’m not the one eating it.

To Cook

Dice up all of your veggies and saute in a wok or American style frying pan. No need for oil, your cabbage will have enough moisture. To keep it from burning, keep the heat on medium and move your veggies around a lot in your pan. See? It’s working. Season with rest of the ingredients and continue to cook until soft. Remove from heat.

Spoon a few tablespoons of your sauteed veggie mixture into the center of your egg(less) roll wrappers. Then wrap up your egg rolls, using your fingertips (dipped lightly in cold water) to seal the edges. Place on a baking sheet, greased with cooking spray. Add a little cooking spray to the tops of your rolls as well. (Spray is made from vegetable oil, but adds few calories to your dish). Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping over if needed.

Once they are done and crunchy and yummy, let them cool! Or they will burn your mouth and totally hurt.


Guess what I'm having for lunch?!
It's filling, tasty, and oh-so-quick!
Did I slave over the stove? ... Nope!
Did I pay someone to cook it for me? ... Nope!
You're getting warmer...

An Amy's Burrito!
This is a "Breakfast Burrito" and the package specifies "Non-dairy" (the sad dairy cows thank you for not supporting their torture!). Not all of Amy's foods are vegan, so be diligent to read the packaging.

(Darsy, the baby Holstein that was rescued from a dairy farm, thanks you!) 

In 3 minutes you can have a certified organic hot burrito packed with 270 calories, 38g carbs, 11g protein, some Calcium and Vitamin A. We buy about 20 burritos in a single trip to the grocery store and at 2 1/2 bucks a piece, you can't beat that!

I cooked and ate this burrito while I was typing this post - I am full and ready to jump back to farm work! Enjoy!

Kathy's introduction post

Have you ever been flipping through your cook book looking for something simple and quick to make using the handful of ingredients you have in your cabinets? And then you find something in the cook book that suits your fancy, but you're missing one or two ingredients? And if you're like me, you're too "chicken" to substitute onions for leeks because you have no idea if it will ruin the whole dish? So you jump on the web and google "vegan potato soup" and still you don't know what to do? 
I find myself in this position all the time!

What I hope to do when I post a recipe is to suggest all sorts of alternative ingredients, just in case your fridge is on the empty side. 
I'll also post some of my favorite cook book recipes that require only a select few ingredients that last forever, so you can make the dish 5 times before you have to replenish your supplies!

Are you the type, like me, to buy some grapes as a snack, maybe some celery for a soup, with the intentions of eating them in the next few days? You open the fridge every day and your reminded that you should eat those or cook that and you siiigh and grab something microwaveable. Then finally they start to go bad and you kick yourself for never having the time or desire to eat well? That's me! 
But at least I have pigs to eat my wasted produce! 

You could also compost that old stuff instead of tossing it in the trash.
Here's a great link on composting, vegan-style. Did you know that Red Wriggler Worms are vegan!? They hate dairy, eggs, and meat (and it's bad for them).

Hopefully I will represent the "lazy/busy vegan" and can help you make nutritional meals in snap and in a squeeze. Reader beware, I eat dessert for dinner on a regular basis.


Monday, May 10, 2010

What do Vegans Eat? Brunch, or how I learned to relax and love the scramble

To start off our new blog I am jumping right into one of the reasons to start the blog in the first place! The question we all, as vegans, hear most frequently... "What do you eat?"
I always have a hard time coming up with a succinct and intelligent answer to this--"Food?" Is what I usually blurt out, or defensively--"All kinds of stuff!" It is not really something I can answer in a sentence. So let us answer it in a blog!

One of my most favorite meals. Also a meal that is almost synonymous with two ingredients that are definitely NOT vegan. Cheese and what in the heck do you eat? I personally love making brunch at home.

Love quiche?
Well I discovered that quiche vegan style is so simple it's criminal! I made an easy and super yummy quiche for a potluck and it went over without a hitch with veggies and omnis alike! The recipe is easy to change around. I made a mushroom and spinach quiche instead of asparagus. I wish had a photo to share. I will get better about it promise!

Like omelets?
I tried out an omelet recipe from my favorite vegan cookbook and it was great! It really cooks up well in the skillet and looks like an omelet and tastes great!

(I need to perfect my food photography skills to say the least)

When I first went vegan the true staple for that Sunday morning brunch was the "Tofu Scramble" I am no cook but I do love to make scrambles so I will share the ingredients I use to make it extra scrumptious. Tofu Scramble is a super easy introduction to the vegan brunch!

  • I package firm tofu
  • a few Tbsp of olive or sesame oil
  • one small onion diced
  • 2 (or more!) cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of diced fresh veggies
I am addicted to spices in general so I throw various things in with this like cumin, garlic powder (did I mentioned I LOVE garlic) etc etc but this basic format should start you guys off...
This is a scramble so add some veggies! You can add pretty much anything to this but I recommend spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and carrots.

To Cook

Slice up all of your veggies and drain your tofu. Heat up the oil in a non stick pan. I usually go with a medium high setting. First add the chopped onions. When the onions are soft add tofu. I crumble the tofu in the pan with the back of the spatula. Cook for about 5 min stirring occasionally. When the tofu begins to turn brown add the seasonings. Once stirred in add the veggies and cover and cook until the veggies are soft. Serve with toast, sauteed potatoes, or as a sandwich.