Vegan Buttermilk Pancakes

Pancakes have become such a weekend staple for me. Almost every weekend I find myself indulging in a stack of them.

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There are a ton of different options when it comes to vegan pancakes. You can make super healthy or you can very indulgent pancakes. In our house, we prefer the latter.

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We want our pancakes to be soft and fluffy. After doing a lot of experimenting, I think I have finally come up with the perfect recipe for soft, fluffy, vegan buttermilk pancakes.

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First things first, we need to make the buttermilk. This is actually a lot easier than one would think. In a small bowl, simply whisk some soy (or almond) milk with some apple cider vinegar and set aside for five minutes to sour.

IMG_3324Second step is to prepare the egg replacer. I like to use the one by the brand Ener-G. (You could also use aquafaba or a flax seed egg.) I like to prepare the egg replacer and let it sit while I prepare my other ingredients.

In a large bowl, sift together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Next mix in the sugar and set aside.

After five minutes time has elapsed, add the egg mixture and melted vegan butter to the buttermilk mixture. Mix throughly.

The next step is the “make it or break it” step. To ensure that your pancakes are fluffy, you want to combine the wet and dry ingredients without overtaxing them. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until there are no more lines of flour visible. The mixture will be lumpy and that’s what you want. Over mixing will cause the pancakes to be more dense.

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Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. You can choose to grease it with vegan butter or not. Some times I do and some times I don’t. You will notice a difference in color if you choose not to grease the pan. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of batter. Watch it carefully. You’ll know that it’s time to flip when the bubbles don’t fill back up with batter after they’ve popped.

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For a clean flip, try to use only your wrist. It’s a simple flicking action. If you use your whole arm you’ll end up with a messy flip. It’s not a huge deal if you do. It won’t affect the taste.

Let the pancake cook for about two more minutes on the opposite side then remove.

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The first pancake is usually the test pancake. You can adjust your heat according to how fast or slow the first pancake cooked.

For variations on this recipe, you can add any type of fruit or nut fillings you’d like after spooning the mixture on the pan.

Vegan Buttermilk Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups soy milk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp organic sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Ener-G egg replacement for 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted vegan butter

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy milk and apple cider vinegar and allow to sour for five minutes.
  2. Prepare Ener-G egg replacement for one egg and allow to sit.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Next, stir sugar into the flour mixture.
  4. After five minutes have elapsed, add melted butter and egg replacement to milk/vinegar mixture.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  6. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat.
  7. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter (for smaller pancakes or 1/2 cup of batter for larger pancakes) onto the hot pan.
  8. Flip pancake when the bubbles pop and no longer refill with batter.
  9. Allow pancake to cook for approximately two minutes on the other side and then remove from the heat.
  10. Continue to cook until all batter is gone.

Pancakes can be frozen and reheated in the microwave for a quick breakfast option.

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Ener-G-Egg-Replacer-16/dp/B0014DZGUQ

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Chickpea Salad

Before going vegan, I never ate fish so I’ve never had tuna salad. I wasn’t ever a huge fan of eggs either, so I also stayed away from egg salad. The first time I ever had chicken salad was when I was a teenager. I instantly feel in love with the creaminess of it. Now that I’m vegan, I make almost the same recipe, but I make it vegan using chickpeas instead of chicken and vegan mayo in place of the egg-laden stuff.

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This recipe is so easy and comes together so quickly once you have the ingredients prepared. It tastes ever been after sitting in the fridge for a day. The more time the ingredients have to melt together, the better.

To start, you want to mash up some chickpeas. I just use my potato masher. I don’t mash them up completely. I leave some of the chickpeas whole. Leaving them at varying degrees of being mashed will give better texture to the finished product. You could also just throw the chickpeas into a food processor to save a little time.

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Next step is to finely dice some onion and celery. The size of the dice depends on your preference. I like everything to be tiny so I take extra time to make sure they cut up small.

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Now just throw everything into a medium sixed bowl and mix it up! Yes, it’s that easy.

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You can eat this as is or with crackers, but my favorite way to eat it is as a salad. I toast some ciabatta bread, top it with the chickpea salad and then top with some broccoli sprouts.

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Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonaise
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon
  • 2 Tbsp sweet relish
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add drained and rinsed chickpeas to a large bowl. Use a potato mashed to roughly mash the chickpeas.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Serve on lightly toasted bread or with crackers.

 

Vegan New Orleans Jambalaya

I’m a born and raised New Orleanian and I’m quite proud of that. I love this city: the history, the people, the culture and the foods. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I have to miss out on the traditional New Orleans food. And neither do you!

There are two main types of jambalaya. These are brown jambalaya and red jambalaya. (Technically there are three, but I wouldn’t consider the third type to be jambalaya. It’s a short-cut way to make the dish which is unnecessary and doesn’t result with the same flavors.)

The first type is brown jambalaya. This jambalaya is made by first browning meat in a pot before adding the rest of the ingredients. The browning process tints the color of the dish which is how it gets it’s name.  Brown bits coat the bottom of the pot, and when liquid is added the brown bits come loose and flavor the dish. (I personally think of brown jambalaya as more of a dirty rice dish.) Brown jambalaya is made throughout Southern Louisiana. It is commonly found in more cajun areas such as Thibodaux and Lafayette.

The second type is red jambalaya. Red jambalaya is made with tomatoes, which gives it the red color. The rest of the cooking process is very similar, identical in some cases, to making brown jambalaya. Red jambalaya is almost exclusively made in New Orleans. You know a New Orleanian is fixing jambalaya if they’re using tomatoes. This recipe will teach you how to make red jambalaya.

Jambalaya is both a quick meal and a slow meal. Let me explain. Jambalaya doesn’t take a long time to prepare, approximately 45 minutes from start to finish, which makes it a quick dish in my book. It’s a dish that is normally prepared at some type of gathering, be it a football game or a family reunion. Everyone will pile around the kitchen (if cooked inside) or the large pot on a burner (if cooked outside). Stories are shared and friends are made while the dish is cooked. This is why it’s a slow meal. It comes together in whatever amount of time is necessary to hear the latest gossip.

Whether you’re making red or brown jambalaya, you have to start with the “trinity” or “holy trinity.” The trinity, also referred to as “seasoning”, is used in most cajun cooking. (It can also be served on top of prepared foods to add more flavor and crunch.) The trinity consist of onion, bell pepper and celery. The ratio is 50% onion, 25% bell pepper and 25% celery. It’s more common to use a green bell pepper, but I don’t like green bell pepper because they aren’t ripe (google it) so I opt to use red. You can use whichever you prefer.

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Allow the trinity to cook down until the onions are translucent and the veggies are soft. Next add your garlic and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. This won’t take long, about 2-3 minutes. Do NOT allow the garlic to burn. If this happens, don’t try to fix it. Just toss the whole thing into the compost pile and start over. Burnt garlic will make the whole pot taste like cigarette ash. I speak from experience. My father-in-law will probably never attempt to cook jambalaya again.

This is when you would add your “meat.” You have a few options at this point. You could opt to go meat free or you could choose to add vegan sausage and/or vegan chicken. For this recipe I used canned young jackfruit as a chicken replacement.

Don’t be intimidated. This is REALLY easy. I found the jackfruit at my local Asian food store. Make sure you get your canned green young jackfruit in either brine or water. I choose water to limit some of the sodium. Jackfruit has a very neutral flavor and tends to take on the taste of whatever spices you pair with it. Simply drain and rinse the jackfruit. I cut it into smaller pieces and used my hands to shred them a bit in an effort to mimic shredded chicken.

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When talking about cajun cooking, you’ll often hear people talk about a “cajun spice mix.” You can purchase pre-made cajun spice mixes or you can make your own. Basically it’s a mix of spices that most cooks have on hand any way: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, parsley and cayenne pepper.

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Add the jackfruit, spices, bay leaves, diced tomatoes with juice, uncooked rice and liquid to the pot with the garlic and seasoning.

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I know it looks like soup now, but don’t worry, it will cook down. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, fluff the jambalaya with a fork and enjoy with either cornbread or french bread. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.

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Hopefully you have a large group of friends and family to share this dish with. It always tastes better when enjoyed along with good conversation.

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Vegan New Orleans Jambalaya

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can green young jackfruit in water or brine, drained rinsed and lightly chopped and shredded
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute the trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery) until onions are translucent and veggies are soft. Approximately 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and allow to cook until garlic is fragrant. Approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover the dish, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed by the rice.
  5. Let the dish sit for two minutes, remove bay leaves and then fluff with fork.

Serve with cornbread or french bread.

Southern Style Cornbread

Having been raised in the South, I’ve eaten some really good cornbread. I’ve eaten it all my life.  I’ve learned to recognize good cornbread quite easily. It needs to have rich flavor while still being able to taste the corn. It also needs to be moist, decadent and slightly sweet. Without that combination of things, it’s not a good Southern style cornbread.

Here in New Orleans, we eat cornbread all the time. We eat it on Mondays with our red beans and rice. We eat it with our jambalaya.  And it’s served at most holidays and almost all family gatherings. It seems that the rest of the country has caught on and has made cornbread a Thanksgiving favorite. Seeing that Thanksgiving is this week, I thought it would only be fair to post my recipe for cornbread.

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To start, we need to make a vegan heavy cream. Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? It’s not. Simply add some apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) to some non-dairy milk. I’m using almond milk. Whisk it together and allow it to sit.

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As with most baking, we’re going to combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and then combine the wet ingredients in another.  Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and sugar in a medium sized bowl and mix well.

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In a separate bowl, mix together the agave nectar, maple syrup,  vanilla,  apple sauce and milk/cider whisk together. Continue to whisk until it’s fluffy and bubbly.

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Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix this well. Now add in the creamed corn and frozen corn kernels.

You can cook this in a loaf pan, a cake pan or in a muffin tray. I usually make mini muffins, but today I used an 8×8 glass baking dish.

Pop into a 350 F oven for 40-50 minutes. The cornbread is ready when a toothpick comes out clean. And there you have it! Real Southern style cornbread.

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Southern Style Cornbread

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 cup canned cream corn
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk together the non-dairy milk with the apple cider vinegar and set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the apple sauce, agave nectar, maple syrup, vanilla and milk/cider mixture.
  5. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well.
  6. Fold in the frozen corn kernels and creamed corn into the batter. Mix well.
  7. Pour mixture into 8×8 glass baking dish and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

I feel that I should preface this recipe by saying that I never had eggplant parmesan as a non-vegan. Even after I went vegan, I’ve only ever had frozen vegan eggplant parmesan. So this recipe may not be what others think of as the ‘regular’ eggplant parmesan, but I enjoyed it and I think it’s a good recipe even if it is a bit unconventional. Who wants to be ‘regular’ anyway?

I’ve made this dish with two different methods. Both turned out well so I’m going to share both with you. They’re both exactly the same recipe, except that in one I used Go Veggie Vegan Parmesan and in the second I used Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast. My husband prefers the ones made with vegan parmesan and I prefer the ones made with nutritional yeast. Although both were very tasty. It’s just a personal preference on which you’d rather use. Or which product is more easily accessible to you.

To start you’ll want the eggplant to release it’s extra moisture. Eggplants naturally have a lot of moisture and if you don’t sweat and drain them properly you can end up with a messy, bitter meal in the end. Take the extra time to allow the eggplant to sweat to avoid a cooking fail.

Sweating and draining an eggplant is easy. Slice it into 1/2 inch rounds and lay it onto a cooling rack. Place the cooking rack over a towel. I put a towel in a baking sheet and placed the cooling rack on top of the baking sheet so that I could move it if needed. Generously salt each side of the eggplant and allow to sit for two hours.

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After the two hours have elapsed, rinse off the extra liquid and the salt and pat dry with a dish towel. Now we’re ready for the fun part!

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First we need to make a binding agent. Something to put on the eggplant to allow the breadcrumbs to stick. I used 3/4 cups of flour and a little less than 3/4 cups of water to make this. You want it to be liquid, but not watery.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat), 1/2 cup Go Veggie Parmesan OR Nutritional Yeast, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup dried parsley. If you’re using flavored breadcrumbs you can choose to forego the Italian seasoning.

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Using your left hand, dip the eggplant slice into the flour/water mixture. Let the excess drain off and then place into the breadcrumb mixture. Use your right hand to coat the eggplant slice with the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure you get it fully coated. Then place onto a baking sheet lined with a non-stick mat or parchment paper. Continue until all slices are coated and on the baking sheet.

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Bake the eggplant slices in a 425 F oven for  a total of 25 minutes. Flip the eggplant halfway through cooking to ensure even cooking and browning.

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Once the eggplants are done cooking, they are ready to be eaten. For more of a traditional eggplant parmesan, you can top them with a spoonful of marinara sauce and then sprinkle with vegan mozzarella. Pop them back into the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. This is completely optional.

You can serve this as is with a salad, or in a sandwich topped with marinara and vegan mozzarella cheese, or you can serve it over a plate of spaghetti. I chose the spaghetti.

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Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small to medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 rounds
  • salt
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Go Veggie Parmesan OR Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley
  • 3/4 cup flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice eggplant and place on a cooling rack on to of a baking pan lined with a dish towel. Generously sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant. Allow to sweat for 2 hours.
  2. Rinse the eggplant under running water and pat dry.
  3. Heat oven to 425 F. Line a baking pan with a non-stick mat or parchment paper.
  4. In a small bowl, combine flour with a little less that 3/4 cups of water until the mixture is liquid, but not watery. Add more flour if necessary.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan OR nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning and parsley.
  6. Dip the eggplant slice into the flour mixture and allow excess to drain. Then dip into the breadcrumb mixture and coat completely.
  7. Place the coated eggplant slices on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through baking.

 

 

 

Fat-free Tater Tots

I don’t know what it is about tater tots that are so delectable, but I know that I am completely under their spell. My husband will often get a craving for tater tots and he’ll run to the store and buy the frozen ones in the big red bag. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re laced with preservatives and full of grease. They also taste like my childhood so I am always jealous when he eats these. I try my best to avoid them because they don’t fit into my lifestyle, so I decided to try to make my own.

I’m pretty happy with how they came out. I may update this recipe at some point, but I’m happy enough with the recipe to share it. To be completely honest with you, this recipe takes some time to complete. It’s not a 30 minute meal by any means. If you’re like me, you don’t mind spending some extra time in the kitchen to make something that is really yummy.

These tater tots have one ingredient. Can you guess what it is?

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Potatoes! I had an almost full bag of gold yukons that I used. There were four pounds of potatoes total.

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First thing you’ll want to do is peel the potatoes. Normally I would peel them before cooking them, but I decided to try the “boil THEN peel” method today. If you want to do it this way, score a line around the center of the potatoes and then boil for 15 minutes. Next drain the potatoes, wait for them to cool and pull the skins off. The skins are supposed to come off easily, but I struggled a little with mine. As you can see from the picture above, they weren’t completely smooth when I was done with them. Next time I’ll just peel them before I boil them.

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Once the potatoes are peeled and boiled, you’ll want to grate them. I used a large double sided cheese grater to complete this. Then I moved the grated potatoes to a large bowl.

Next form the grated potato pieces into tater tot shapes and place on a baking pan lined with a aluminum foil. You can use a non-stick mat for the baking, but make sure it is safe for broiling. I use a Silpat that I got from Amazon.com, but I remove it before broiling. If you choose to use parchment paper, remove it before broiling as it will burn from the high heat.

Place the tater tots into an oven heated to 450 F. Bake them for 15 minutes, then flip them [carefully] and bake for another 15 minutes. At this point the tater tots are done, but they won’t be very golden brown because we didn’t use any oil. To make them a little more crispy and golden brown, set your broiler to high and broil for 8 minutes, them carefully flip them and broil for another 8 minutes. IMG_3041

The broiling is what gives them the color and the bite that are synonymous with tater tots.IMG_3042

See? I told you it was a lengthy process, but totally worth it in the end. These babies really hit the spot without any of the guilt.

Fat-free Tater Tots

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Pounds of yukon golden potatoes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel potatoes and place into a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Allow potatoes to boil for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain water from potatoes and allow them to cool before handling.
  3. Once the potatoes are cool, use a cheese grater to grate them. Place the grated potatoes into a large bowl.
  4. Heat oven to 450 F.
  5. Form the grated potatoes into tater tot shapes and place onto a baking sheet covered with a non-stick mat or parchment paper.
  6. Bake the tater tots for 15 minutes, then flip them and bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Set the oven to broil on high.
  8. Broil the tater tots for 8 minutes, then flip them and broil for another 8 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for a couple of minuted before eating.

Serve them with ketchup and a large salad.

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You can also freeze the pre-baked tater tots after they are formed. Just remove them from the freezer and bake according to the instructions above.

Tomato Basil Soup

Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the weather, it is technically fall. New Orleans is still warm and humid with it’s citizens still sporting shorts and tons of deodorant. No matter then weather, my heart and stomach know that it’s fall. I know that I should be donning big comfy sweaters, sipping hot cocoa and eat warm, filling soups. I may not be able to control the weather, but I do control what happens in my kitchen. That’s why I decided to make fat-free, vegan tomato basil soup.

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I did a lot of research before making this recipe. There are a lot of excellent recipes out there and there are tons of opinions when it comes to how to make the perfect soup. What types of tomatoes to use, whether or not to use plant milk, what method to use to cook the tomatoes, etc. I believe I took the best advices out there and put together this thick, creamy, flavorful soup.

I used three different types of tomatoes to add depth to the soup: roma, creole and cherry tomatoes. I started by roasting the roma and creole tomatoes in the oven. Simply cut them in half, lay them cut side up on a large baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.

About 20 minutes into the roasting process I start working on the rest of the soup ingredients. First thing, as always, is to sauté the onion. The onion I bought was gigantic. Like James and the Giant Peach gigantic. I ended up only using half. Chopped that baby up and threw it in a medium sized pot with a little bit of unsalted vegetable broth. I like to cook my onions and garlic in vegetable broth because I find that it gives a little extra flavor. It also gives it a beautiful browned color that you wouldn’t normally expect to get when you’re not using oil.

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I like to let the onions soften a bit before adding my garlic. Garlic cooks up a lot faster than the onions and nothing is worse than burnt garlic. Literally nothing. The garlic will let me know when it’s ready by emitting their wonderful fragrance.

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Once the garlic tells you it’s ready, add the whole cherry tomatoes and a half cup of unsalted vegetable broth. Let this come to a boil and then turn the fire down a bit, cover the pot and let it stew.

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After about 10 to 15 minutes the tomatoes will begin to lose their skins and will begin to cook down. At this point, I used my wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes. Continue to let them cook down while the large tomatoes finish roasting. Once the larger tomatoes finish roasting, carefully add them to the stewed tomato mix.

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(Above: The skins starting to separate from the tomatoes. Below: After mashing the tomatoes a bit)

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(Above: Tomatoes post-roast. Below: Roasted tomatoes added to the the pot.)

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Now comes the fun part, the herbs and spices! This is where I think the soup is made. Without the basil, it’s just tomato soup. I added basil for obvious reasons, thyme to add a little sweetness and red pepper flakes for a little heat and dimension. To make sure it’s a soup and not a sauce, you’ll want to add some liquid. Again, I chose to use the unsalted vegetable broth, but you could use water instead.

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Now you just let the soup do it’s thing. Bring it to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover it and wait. In 40 minutes your home will smell like little Italy, reminding you just how wonderful of a job you have done.

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The final step is to puree the soup. You can either use a blender, a food processor or an immersion blender. I used my Vitamix blender. I let the soup cool a bit before attempting to put it in the blender. I’m prone to accidents and hot soup plus electric kitchen appliances sound like an accident waiting to happen. Although I could have made it work in one batch, I blended this in two batches. Not a big deal. I didn’t make the soup completely smooth. I wanted it to have texture. I was very pleased with the end result.

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Tomato Basil Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds mixed large tomatoes
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups basil
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion OR 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice large tomatoes in half and place on large baking sheet, cut side up. Roast in oven for 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about two minutes.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes to the onion/garlic mix along with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, turn down the fire to allow it to simmer and cover the pot.
  4. Cook the cherry tomatoes for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the skins start to separate from he tomatoes and they start to stew down. Gently mash them down with a large spoon or potato masher. Cover and continue to cook until the large tomatoes are finished roasting.
  5. Carefully add the large tomatoes, including their juices, to the onion/garlic/tomato mixture.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat allowing it to simmer. Cover the mixture and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once the 40 minutes have elapsed, turn off the fire. Using either an immersion blender, a high powered blender or a food processor, carefully puree the soup to your desired consistency. This may be done in batches.
  9. Serve with a salad, potato, corn, bread or sandwich and enjoy.

Lenil Tacos

One food that everyone seems to enjoy are tacos! Whether they are fancy-smancy or cheap Taco Bell style, tacos hold a special place in most peoples’ hearts.

Lentil Taco

When I first became vegan, making tacos was super easy. Just replace the meat with soy meat and voila! Vegan tacos. Since I’ve decided to cut out the faux meat from my diet I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my tacos in the same way. A week or two ago the cravings started. I wanted the spicy, crunchy, savory taste of tacos and nothing was going to satisfy me until I had them. This sent me on a whirlwind of ideas trying to figure out how to make tacos that tasted like meat, without meat AND without faux meat. That’s when I remembered hearing about people using lentils in place of meat. This isn’t a new idea and I am not taking credit for this idea. I am just sharing my method for making this dish.

I also make my own taco mix. It’s so easy to do and I always have these certain spices on hand. I try to watch how much sodium I consume. You’ll start to notice that I never use salt in anything. Making my own taco mix helps me control the amount of sodium in these tacos.

TACO SPICE MIX

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  1. Mix the ingredients together and use in place of regular taco seasoning. This amount will usually work for the equivalent of one pound of faux meat. You can double or triple the recipe if you are using more faux meat.

Lentil Taco Meat

Lentil Tacos

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups lentils*
  • Taco Spice Mix (I doubled it for this recipe)
  • Low sodium vegetable broth (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start by sautéing the onion in a non-stick pan. Add either low sodium vegetable broth or water if the onions start to stick.
  2. Once the onions start to soften, add the bell pepper and continue to cook until the peppers are soft.
  3. Add lentils and the taco spice mix. Cook lentils according to the directions on the package. Most lentils are a 2:1 ratio of water to lentils. For my lentils it was 2 cups of water per every 1 cup of lentils.
  4. Once the lentil are cooked according to the package, your taco “meat” will be done!

Since I am on my no flour kick, I opted to forgo the tortillas or crunchy shells and ate my tacos salad style. I topped them with salsa, chopped tomato and my nacho cheese sauce. [See my Vegan Nacho Cheese recipe.]

Cheese Sauce

*You can use any kind of lentils you’d like. I used green lentils because they were the only organic ones that my local grocery store had that day. I think that using red lentils would be more visually appealing as the green from the lentils showed through a little bit and looked a little funny.

Vegan Nacho Cheese

Broccoli and Cheese

Seems that there have been a ton of vegan cheese recipes floating around the internet lately. I think we can thank Buzzfeed for sparking the vegan cheese interest. I think every low-fat vegan has tried their hand at a healthy vegan cheese. I am no exception.

My recipe is probably very similar to all of the other recipes out there, with one difference, I have a not-so-secret ingredient. There is one ingredient that takes a regular cheese sauce from ok to spectacular. Lucky for you, I am in the mood to share!

Vegan Nacho Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small yellow potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped in half
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start by soaking the cashews for a minimum of four hours up to overnight.
  2. Add potatoes and carrot to a small pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for five minutes.
  3. Add onion to the boil and continue to cook until the potatoes are soft. Approximately 3 more minutes.
  4. Next drain the cashews and add them a high power blender.
  5. Also add the potatoes, carrot and onion to the blender, along with boil water (about 1&1/4 cups worth). Add the garlic and onion powder and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  6. This is when I add the sriracha to taste. I usually add about 1/4 cup because I like it spicy.

Cheese Sauce

I use this cheese sauce anywhere that you would normally put cheese. On vegetables, on tacos, with chips, etc.

I hope you try it an enjoy it. Let me know if you try it!

Potato and Green Bean Stew

Potato and Green Bean Stew

I was raised by my grandparents and they both loved to cook. I was very lucky in that I had a home cooked meal every single day. I loved their cooking. When I went vegan almost three years ago I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy those foods that I grew up on anymore. Now I realize exactly how silly that thought was. The old saying, “when there is a will, there is a way” couldn’t be more true when it comes to vegan cooking. Anything is possible, as long as you try.

One dish that I LOVED growing up is one that my Marmie (the name I had for my grandmaw) would make was not-so-creatively called “Snap Beans, Ham and Potatoes.” We ate this often because of how easy and quick it was to make. It’s a stew so it’s thick and warm and perfect for cooler weather. With winter coming [insert Game of Thrones joke] I decided to make this dish. I simply replaced the ham with carrots and changed the name of the dish.

Potato and Green Bean Stew 2

Potato and Green Bean Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-6 Golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 White onion, diced
  • 2-3 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 15oz Cans of tomato sauce (Low sodium if possible)
  • 2 Cans of green beans (drained) or 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1 Tbsp Ground thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1Tbsp Veggie broth (optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Annie’s Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (Soy sauce will work too)
  • A few shakes of hot sauce
  1. Add onion to a medium-sized pot. (This recipe makes a lot.) Cook onion until almost transparent. Approximately 4 minutes. Add veggie broth or water if the onions start to stick. Once the onions start to soften, add garlic and continue to cook another minute or so until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, thyme, allspice, worcestershire (or soy) sauce and hot sauce. Fill one of the empty cans halfway with water and add to pot. Mix thoroughly and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. After allowing the sauce to cook, add potatoes, carrots, and green beans. Cover the dish.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat. Allow it to simmer to 30 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Allow to cool and serve alone or with either crusty french bread or white rice.

Potato and Green Bean Stew

I should note that the original family recipe started with a roux made with 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup flour. You can certainly make this dish using the original roux or by making the roux using water instead of oil. I find that the dish is just as wonderful without the roux. Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking.

If you make this dish, please let me know how you enjoy it!