Pizza Rolls!

Gene Baur is a wonderful ambassador for all things vegan and compassionate.  Queenie and I had the good fortune to see him speak recently, and I picked up his latest book, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, at the event.  I expected the book to be a wonderful glimpse into life at Farm Sanctuary (it is) and to present compelling reasons to make more compassionate choices in our day-to-day lives (it does), but I didn’t really have any expectations about the recipe portion of the book, which is a collection of recipes from guest contributors.  Happily, it’s fantastic also!  So far, I’ve made three recipes – Sesame Soba Noodles with Collard Greens and Tempeh Croutons, Gardein Bolognese, and Pizza Buns – and all three have been scrumptious.

Queenie and I renamed the Pizza Buns, calling them Pizza Rolls instead (because their appearance resembles cinnamon rolls, and you roll them up), but whatever you call them, they’re yummy.  They’re also absurdly easy.  In fact, it’s more of a concept (a genius concept!) than a recipe, courtesy of Wendy Matthews, the education and outreach manager at Farm Sanctuary.  You basically take pizza dough (we used the pre-made pizza dough ball from Trader Joe’s), roll it into a rectangle shape, top it with whatever you want, roll it up into a log, and then slice into individual portions.  You pop those into a 9 x 13 baking dish and bake roughly like you would a pizza (about 10 to 15 minutes at 450).  The result is fun and tasty.

Queenie and I have been on a Gilmore Girls marathon lately, and these were the perfect accompaniment to a couple of episodes.  (They eat a lot of junk food and would love these.)  Queenie’s are on the right.  She kept it simple, opting for sauce, herbs and cheese (we used Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella shreds, but any cheese you like will work fine).  On the left, to her base I added mushrooms and black olives.

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The possibilities are endless…

Enjoy!  xo

Super Tasty Steamed Artichokes

It’s spring, which means artichokes!  Queenie requested that I whip up some artichokes yesterday for her and a friend, and I decided to poke around on the internet to see if I could find an especially fun recipe.  This one caught my eye, from the FoodNetwork website, and it was easy and delicious (and only required one tweak to veganize):

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/steamed-whole-artichokes-recipe.html

As you’ll see, the trick is to steam the artichokes in a tasty concoction.  But first, you need to prep them, which involves trimming off the prickly leaf points and then rubbing the cut areas with lemons to prevent browning.

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Next, prepare the steaming liquid.  Use a pot that is the right depth that when the lid is placed on, it will hold the artichokes in place.  To that pot, add either veggie broth or water (or a combination of both, which is what I did), some cut lemons, bay leaves, garlic cloves, white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper and parsley sprigs.  Bring that to a boil.

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Place the prepped artichokes into the boiling liquid, bottom side up.

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Cover and boil/steam them for about 30 minutes, or until they are fork tender (mine were large and I had to boil for about 40 minutes).  Serve with your favorite dipping accompaniment.  Queenie said that the artichokes were so wonderfully flavored that when she dipped in plain mayo (Hampton Creek Foods “Just Mayo”), it tasted like aioli.  Yum.  Queenie and her buddy whisked the artichokes off and consumed them before I had the chance to snap a photo, but let this one show you how popular they were!

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Enjoy!  xo

The Easiest Tacos Ever

These tacos are absurdly easy to make and they’re super tasty, the perfect thing to throw together when you don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking.  All you need to do is heat a little oil in a pan and add a package of Yves Meatless Ground.  To this you will pour in the salsa of your choice.  I used Frontera’s Double Roasted Tomato this time, but I’ve also used all kinds of other salsas.  As long as you like the salsa, you will like the results. Start with about a half cup of salsa and see if you like the consistency.  Add as much as you want!  Cook this until it’s heated through.

Meanwhile, prepare the toppings of your choice.  On this particular day, I just chopped up a little romaine, sliced a few cherry tomatoes and cut up an avocado (I sprinkled a bit of lime juice and salt on the avocado).  You’ll also want the rest of the jarred salsa on hand for those who want a bit more.  You can put whatever you want on these things:  vegan sour cream, cheese shreds, super hot sauce.  Anything goes.

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The final step is to heat up some crispy taco shells for about 5 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Once they’re out, fill them up and dinner is served.  I told you they were crazy easy!

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Enjoy!  xo

Vegan Cheese Plate

Queenie and I had fun putting together a cheese platter recently, the goal of which was to sample some of the vegan cheeses we hadn’t yet tried.  It was quite festive and tasty, and I wanted to share our impressions.  Here are the brands we explored:

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Cheese-wise, we tried Kite Hill’s almond-based Soft Truffle Dill & Chive, Treeline’s Herb Garlic Soft French Style, Heidi Ho’s Black Lava Ne Chevre, and two of the new slices by Follow Your Heart, specifically American and Provolone.  Our accompaniments were various kinds of crackers, apple slices, fig spread, olives and cornichons.  Once it was arranged, our plates looked like this:

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The results:  my favorite cheese by far was the Treeline Herb Garlic.  In the photo above, it’s the middle dollop, below the white triangle of cheese (the Kite Hill) and above the one with the black stripe running through it (the Heidi Ho).  It had a terrific spreadable consistency and a delicious flavor and mouth feel.  This cashew-based cheese is not subtle.  It packs a wallop of flavor!  But if you appreciate a hit of garlicky, herbaceous yumminess, you’ll probably like this, too.  We enjoyed it on crackers and on the apple slices.  Yum.  I definitely want to try more Treeline cheese.  Their link:

http://www.treelinecheese.com/

I liked the cashew-based Heidi Ho Ne Chevre (aka “no goat”) quite a bit.  The Black Lava is a type of salt, and it adds a lot of visual interest, along with the hazelnuts that are in that black stripe.  Queenie noted that the after taste of this one is reminiscent of the flavor profile of Dr. Cow nut cheeses, so if you’ve tried those, you’ll have a sense of this one.  Not everyone likes that vibe (Mr. Man included), but I do so it worked for me.  Also, Heidi Ho’s line includes a fantastic range of jarred melty cheeses (“Chia Cheeze”) that are perfect for dipping and nachos, etc.  Definitely a brand to get to know if you don’t already.

http://www.heidiho.com/

I have to say that the Kite Hill cheese we sampled was a bit disappointing for me (Queenie liked it a little better than I did).  Kite Hill is a line of almond-based cheeses developed by Tal Ronnen, and I’ve tried a range of them at Crossroads in Los Angeles.  I enjoyed those very much, so I’m not sure what happened here.  For me, it was a consistency thing.  It says “soft” right in the title, but that made me think of either something spreadable or something like a triple cream, but that wasn’t the case.  It held its form when cut, which I guess made me think it would have a different mouth feel than it did.  It was squishy and funky to me.  I didn’t go back for seconds on that one.  I will try other Kite Hills because of my respect for its creator.  Will let you know how that goes.

http://www.kite-hill.com/

Finally, we played around with the Follow Your Heart slices, which I’ve been hearing a lot about.  It’s not often that you can take a vegan cheese slice right out of the package and eat it happily.  These are pretty successful.  Slap some on a cracker with a bit of fig spread on top and you’re talking deliciousness.  The rumor is that they make divine grilled cheese sandwiches, which is how I’ll play with them next.

Enjoy!  xo

Enchilada Casserole

I recently took the “Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Sauce” from the Oh She Glows cookbook and played with them a bit, ending up with an enchilada casserole that pleased this family tremendously.  The recipe is on page 147 of this excellent book (which is absolutely worth adding to your cookbook collection if you haven’t already), and the author also published it on her website (link provided below).  While the recipe is excellent exactly as is, I made a few tweaks to it (partly due to laziness – I didn’t feel like individually wrapping enchiladas that day), which are tasty, too.

Basically, I doubled the recipe, and rather than using black beans, I used Butler Soy Curls instead.  Just reconstitute the Curls in water (or you could use broth for more flavor), and then either broil them or sizzle them in a frying pan or wok for a bit.  What you’re trying to do is remove some of the excess moisture and crisp up the edges so the filling isn’t too squishy when it comes together.

Then, just proceed with the recipe as written, except you’ll layer a casserole dish as follows:  enchilada sauce; layer of tortillas; layer of filling; layer of sauce; repeat until it’s how you want it, ending with sauce on top.  A note on the sauces:  absolutely, definitely make the “5-Minute Enchilada Sauce” recipe in the book.  It is super easy and the rewards are HUGE.  It’s absolutely delicious and elevates this dish beyond what any store-bought sauce could do.  I used to use canned enchilada sauce.  No more.  This sauce recipe is not in the link below (seems she developed it later), and it isn’t published on the Oh She Glows site.  However, if you search for it, you’ll find some other bloggers who have posted it.  As I don’t know whether they did so with permission or not, I’m not posting it here, but you can get your hands on it.  Better yet, buy the book!

Another note on sauces:  don’t skip the Avocado-Cilantro Cream Sauce!!!  It’s a crucial component of the dish, the perfect bright green counterpoint to the rich enchiladas.  Yum!

Here’s what your casserole will look like (I kept the Avocado-Cilantro Cream Sauce on the side, so it’s not in this shot):

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And here’s a link to the enchilada recipe:

http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/04/vegan-enchiladas-with-cilantro-avocado-cream-sauce-2/

There are some differences between the online recipe and the one in the book (the sauce, the amount of sweet potatoes), but it should be a good starting point.

Enjoy!  xo

Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon, Arugula, and Pistachios

This is the perfect dinner to usher in spring, with its fresh, bright flavors and colors.  I originally clipped this recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine in May 2003, and it stands the test of time quite nicely.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup shelled roasted, unsalted pistachios

1 small shallot, cut into eighths

1 Meyer lemon, cut into eighths and seeded (leave the peel on – it’s quite mild)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound spaghetti

2 cups packed baby arugula

Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, pulse the pistachios and shallot in a food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Without cleaning the processor bowl, finely chop the lemon.  Add to the pistachios and shallot.  Stir to combine.  It will make a kind of paste.  Stir in the olive oil and add the arugula.  Things will be looking like this:

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Add pasta to the boiling water; cook until al dente, according to package instructions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.  Toss pasta and reserved cooking water with pistachio mixture and arugula until coated.  Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper).  Divide among 4 serving plates.

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Enjoy!  xo

Quite Possibly the Best Smoothie Ever

I should probably start this post by stating that I adore mint chocolate chip ice cream (vegan, of course).  If I had to choose only one ice cream flavor to eat for the rest of my life, it would be mint chocolate chip.  Thankfully, I do not need to make this choice, but you get the idea.  If you share my love of all things minty and chocolatey (vegan Thin Mints!!!), read on…

The “Mighty Mint Chip” smoothie is the creation of the brilliant smoothie goddess, Kathy Patalsky, and hails from her book, 365 Vegan Smoothies.  I have been working my way through this terrific book, enjoying her wonderful flavor combinations.  While I have liked every single one I’ve made so far, the Mighty Mint Chip smoothie blew me away yesterday.  Pure heaven.  It tastes just like mint chocolate chip ice cream!!!

Kathy has a great website, which is loaded with tons of yummy recipes.  You should check it out!

http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/p/kathys-book.html

Unfortunately, she hasn’t posted this particular smoothie recipe, so what I highly recommend is getting your hands on her book and promptly turning to page 146!  Rest assured that every other page contains serious yumminess, too.  In the meantime, a tease of the Mighty Mint Chip’s greatness…

Here we’ve got frozen bananas, raw cacao nibs, fresh mint, plain soy yogurt, unsweetened soy milk and a splash of agave, just waiting to be blended:

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And this is what your glass of heaven will look like:

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Swoon, swoon, swoon.  Enjoy!  xo